This book examines the insurgency and flight of the Armenian communities in Musa Dagh between 1915 and 1939. It analyzes the narratives surrounding the Armenian rebellion against the Ottoman Empire, including the community’s resistance against the imperial order for relocation and the flight to the Musa Mountain.
Kemal Çiçek is emeritus professor of history at New Turkey Research Centre.
Chapter 1: The History of Armenians in Musa Dagh
Chapter 2: Insurgency and Relocation of the Ottoman Armenians
Chapter 3: Inspire and Be Inspired: The Shabin-Karahisar and Urfa Insurgencies
Chapter 4: The Musa Dagh Insurgency
Chapter 5: The Flight of the Musa Dagh Armenians
For readers looking for the history of how the Armenian insurgency organized and flourished to threaten the security of the Ottoman State, along with how the Ottoman state reacted to this mass rebellion, one should start with Kemal Çiçek's The Armenians of Musa Dagh, 1915-1939. By utilizing diverse archival sources, especially the diaries kept by Armenian insurgents, Çiçek provides a compelling case of what happened in the Musa Dagh rebellion. This is the first attempt to liberate the narrative of the Musa Dagh rebellion from the fictionalized account of Franz Werfel's best-selling novel, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh. Çiçek presents the chronology of factual events with a clear narrative that is verified by historical evidence. The Musa Dagh will now be able to take its deserved place in the growing debate on the topics of Armenian nationalism and rebellion during World War I.
The Armenians of Musa Dagh 1915–1939 is a most valuable correction to the legends that have surrounded the Armenian rebellion at Musa Dagh. Unlike Franz Werfel’s The Forty Days of Musa Dagh—all that most know of the rebellion—Çiçek has grounded his study in actual Ottoman and Armenian sources. The result is sound history and an interesting narrative.
For years, Franz Werfel’s novel The Forty Days of Musa Dagh has been inappropriately quoted and cited by journalists, academics, and politicians as a primary source of the tragedy that befell Armenians and Turks during World War I. Finally, with Kemal Çiçek’s well-researched and well-documented historical analysis of the events that serve as the backdrop for Werfel’s fictional account, scholars can begin to move away from the emotional and nationalist narratives that exist, and piece together an objective history of the events of 1915.
This is an easily readable and highly enjoyable book. Kemal Çiçek does a remarkable job in showing the difference between fiction and scholarly writing with a rich set of sources. This is a must-read for those interested in the history of the Ottoman Armenians in particular and of the First World War in general.
The history of the losers is lost. While the biggest loser of World War I was the Ottoman Empire, many communities living under it also lost. One of them is the Armenian community. This lost history also distanced its narrators from the truth and degraded the thousand-year-old Turkish–Armenian relations only to some certain events. One of them is the Musa Dagh incident. This book has re-examined this incident—which has been misreported so far—under the light of historical documents, and has illuminated many issues that remained untouched. This book proposes a new method of comprehension for readers of Turkish–Armenian relations or the Armenian Question.
As Kemal Çiçek stated, writing a monograph on a well-known and controversial topic is not easy. However, the author has skilfully overcome this issue. Rather than merely being an interesting work examining how the Musa Dagh insurgency developed, it provides insights into several of its aspects during the critical period of the First World War. Çiçek touches on all the issues that are still relevant today; the relocation of the Ottoman Armenians, the nature of the Ottoman Empire and the international situation at that time, as well as military and wider strategic and international issues.
This is a welcome contribution to the existing literature on the Musa Dagh insurgency. An essential work to the conflict and politics of the Ottoman Empire and the Allied countries, this book will change the way you think about the issue and its importance in international relations. It guides you through the developments that led to the Musa Dag insurgency and explains how this uprising contributed to changes in the Middle East. Çiçek reminds us of the long history of Ottoman resistance to great power interventions, as well as the unanticipated consequences of intervention.