A month and a half ago I sent e-mail to ArmWorkShop (an online discussion board of Turkish, Armenian and other scholars and activists moderated by Turkish professor Fatma Gocek from the University of Michigan) concerning the fate of CUP (the young Turkish party that organized the Armenian Genocide) memorials after the formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide [by Turkey].

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There are graves/memorials in “honor” of many perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey. As a third-generation survivor, I wrote, I would like to see those monuments destroyed. On the other hand, I acknowledged, the righteous revenge would amount to vandalism. Perhaps plagues could be added to these “monuments” telling who those murderers really were.

I am not sure what exactly I would like to see happen
to those monuments, but there is an interesting and
thought-provoking story that I want to share with you:

There is a [U.S.] civil war monument in front of
Colorado's State Capitol building, where I work, in
Denver, Colorado (U.S.A.), placed there in 1909. The
statue is in honor of all Colorado soldiers who fought
and died in the civil war (for both sides – North and

The Civil War memorial lists the battles that Colorado
battalions participated in: "Sand Creek Nov 29, 1864"
is listed too.

In the 1990s, a Colorado state senator was reading the
plague on the memorial, and came across to "Sand
Creek" as a battle. The senator was shocked, because
he knew that Sand Creek was the massacre of over 150
Native American women and children in Colorado.

After years of discussions, Colorado's legislature
came up with an idea that would let visitors know
about the reality of Sand Creek but would not
vandalize the almost century-old monument. A plague
was placed, by the Native tribes, underneath the
memorial telling about the Sand Creek massacre, the
killing of 150 unarmed Native American women and



Prof. Gocek, a Turkish scholar, yesterday responded to my e-mail saying that indeed the monuments could be preserved for “documentation of denial,” but street names after the perpetrators must be changed [I totally agree with her].

This very interesting note from Simon Maghakyan made me think about the "Talat Pasha Boulevard" in Ankara the name of which makes me feel uncomfortable every time I pass by it.

I would propose to replace each and every one of those street names with the name of a contemporaneous 'righteous Turk' who tried to save Armenian lives.

Muge [Fatma Gocek]

German professor Tessa Hofmann commented on the issue today:

Dear Müge,

I agree with your thoughts. The monument of "Topal" Osman Aga at Giresun
is a very interesting case: According to my information, the monument
for this notorious ethnic killer still stands, whereas the inscription
has been allegedly erased after Turkey's process of joining the EU
entered a more committed phase.

Interestingly, the problem of streets and places dedicated to WW1
perpetrators is not a Turkish problem alone. Turkey and Cyprus are
united here in an unexpected way, for there are still Talaat
Pasha-Streets in previous Turkish quarters of South Cyprus. When we
protested a few years ago, we got an informal explanation from members
of the Cyprus Embassy here: The street names are preserved in order to
avoid any reason for international or national bodies (the UN or Turkey)
to blame Cyprus for the destruction of Turkish heritage in Cyprus or for
Hellenisation of toponyms. So Cyprus preserves these dreadful names.

In case, that this ever will be changed, one could rename the
streets/boulevards/places, but with a small explanation below,
mentioning the previous names with the explanation, who Talat, Enver,
Topal AGA etc. were. We have this in Berlin, where many citizens would
not know about all the persons, mentioned in street-names. We explain them.

In Giresun, I suggest, an interpretative centre could be opened which
explains the regional "hero"/perpetrator Topal, his life, background and
crimes. There are many good ways to incorporate history, including the
history of mis-representation.

Tombs are tombs. But they should not be "honorary tombs", as the Turkish
inscription of the Turkish cemetery in Berlin says. This definition
includes the tombs of Cemal Azmi and Dr. Behaettin Sakir, which are
situated just in front of the entrance of the new pompous mosque, built
by donations of the Turkish community of Berlin.

Best regards,