He says that the letterhead on the document leaves no doubt that telegraph is original.
We have a telegram drawn by Bahaettin Sakir to Governor Sabit Bey on 4 July 1915 to be conveyed to the Ittihat ve Terakki Elazig (Harput) Inspector Nazim Bey. The aim of the telegram is to coordinate the exile and extermination of the Armenians. The telegraph says: “Are the deported Armenians exterminated? Are the destructive elements destroyed, or expelled only? Let me know precisely, my brother.”
Pay attention to the letterhead!
In the upper right corner of the telegraph, there is a letterhead of the Ministry of Interior Mulkiye Inspection. At the bottom of the document, there is also a ciphered text consisting of ‘four digits,’ written in Arabic numerals. The word (or suffix) corresponding to each group of digits is written on these quadruple cipher numbers. The letterhead on the document proves without a doubt that the telegraph is original.
In fact, the content of this document has already been known by researchers and relevant parties. So, it is not an unknown and a very new document. To be able to understand the text and its contents correctly, it is useful to tell some basic information about the personality of Bahaettin Şakir, his duties, and authorities.
Who is Bahaettin Sakir?
Bahaettin Şakir is one of the leading members of both the Central Committee of the İttihat ve Terakki Party and the Organization of the Secret Service. Before the Ottomans officially entered the war, Sakir went to Erzurum in August 1914 as the principal responsible person to carry out the activities of the Secret Service. His primary task was to organize Muslim uprisings within the Caucasus. There are numerous Ottoman documents about Sakir that he was coordinating the activities of the Secret Service in the region. These documents can be reached in the Ottoman Archives. Some documents explicitly refer to him as ‘The Officer Bahadin Şakir in the Secret Service in Erzurum.’ After the failure of the Caucasus expeditions, Sakir would intensify his whole energy to destroy the Armenians. He had a car and used the codes of the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Defense in his correspondences.
Sakir was tried as a defendant in the cases against the executives of the İttihat ve Terakki Party in Istanbul between 1919-21 after the war. He was defendant both in the ‘Main Case’ called ‘the İttihatist Executives’ Case,’ as well as in the Elazıg-Harput case. In the indictments of both cases, Sakir’s activities and attributes were often mentioned. Sakir is sentenced to death in absentia in the Elazıg-Harput case.
The Evidence of the Lawsuit
The telegraph dated July 4, 1915, is one of the most significant evidence in these cases. It is referred to and quoted in the indictment of ‘Main Case,’ and in the indictment and the decision of ‘Elazıg-Harput Case.’ In the indictment of ‘Main Case,’ the Prosecutor used the telegraph verbatim and defined it as ‘coded telegraph’. Prosecutor said that the ‘photograph’ of the document was in the “ninth section” in the court documents.
According to the indictment, the Secret Service, of which headquarters was in Istanbul, gave Bahaettin Sakir a unique code key to use in communication, as well as a copious amount of money, explosives, and automobiles before heading to Erzurum.
As it can be understood from this information, the document we have is not an unknown and is not ever heard before. The official letterhead on the paper, indicating which authority the document belongs to, proves that the material is original.
The last important information that needs to be stated is these documents we found in the Ottoman Archives started to be offered to the researchers in the 2010s. So before this date, nobody was aware of the existence of these codes.
Translated by: Veysel Karacabeyli
Editor: Ela Gonca İzmirli