Archive for the 'Greco-Turkish War' Category

The Greek occupation of Smyrna

November 5 2013

May 1919 – September 1922.

(The Allied occupation of Constantinople lasted from November 1918 to September 1923.

The Sultanate was abolished on November 1 1922. Mehmed VI left the country on November 17.

The Grand National Assembly governed for a year and declared a Republic on October 19 1923.

The Caliphate was abolished on March 3 1924.)

The area provisionally assigned to Greece round Smyrna under the Treaty of Sèvres was small compared to the territories mandated to Great Britain and France in Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia. The whole area carved out of the Ottoman Empire since 1821 to make an independent Greece is even smaller in comparison with the vast French and British dominions over Middle Eastern peoples in India, the Nile Basin, and North-West Africa. It is the misfortune as well as the fault of Greece – and the unmitigated fault of Allied statesmanship – that the occupation of Smyrna has had specially untoward consequences, but the circumstances could not fail to make trouble. The Greek troops were sent to Smyrna, with a mandate from the Supreme Council and under cover of the guns of Allied warships, more than six months after the armistice with Turkey. The landing – technically camouflaged as a movement of Allied troops for the maintenance of order – was probably contrary to the letter of the armistice, for no previous local disorder had been proved, and it was certainly contrary to its spirit. Within a few hours of the landing, the troops committed a bad massacre in the city; within a few days they advanced into the interior; and a new and devastating war of aggression against Turkey began in her only unravaged provinces. In the sixteenth month of this war, the Powers gave Greece a five-years’ administrative mandate in the Smyrna Zone, with the possibility of subsequent annexation. Turkey was the leading state of the Middle Eastern world, Greece a Near Eastern state of recent origin. She had been admitted with generous facility into the Western concert of nations; but the mandate now given to her – to govern a mixed population in which one element was of her own nationality – would have been a difficult test, in parallel circumstances, for the most experienced Western Power. It was wanton rashness to make such an experiment at Turkey’s expense; and after the experiment had proved a failure, it showed blind prejudice and partiality on the part of Western Governments that they should continue to give Greece material and moral support in her enterprise as an apostle of their civilisation.

The Western Question in Greece and Turkey, A Study in the Contact of Civilizations, Constable, 1922

This book was published before the dénouement in Smyrna: its Preface is dated 22nd March 1922. Toynbee was a war correspondent in Turkey for the Manchester Guardian from January to September 1921.

Syracuse, Nicea, Trabzon and Arta

January 17 2012

The degree of the enemy pressure [Persian, Arab, Slavic] on fortress-Constantinople in the seventh century can be gauged by the remarkable facts that in 618 or 619 even the heroic Emperor Heraclius was with difficulty deterred from evacuating it, and that in 662 Heraclius’s grandson the Emperor Constans II did transfer the Empire’s capital to Syracuse. However, after Constans’ assassination at Syracuse in 668, the capital immediately reverted to Constantinople; and it reverted again in 1261 from Nicea – the seat of the refugee-capital of the principal surviving fragment of the East Roman Empire after the capture of Constantinople and the seizure of the major part of the Empire’s European dominions by the Venetians and the French in and after 1204.

Constans’s twelve-day visit to Rome in 663 was the first by an Emperor since the fall of the Empire in the west. There was, I think, only one after it: a desperate one by John VIII Palaiologos in 1423, which led to the Union of Florence.

The Empire of Nicea was founded by the Laskaris family and was the largest of three states founded by aristocrats fleeing the Fourth Crusade. The recapture of Constantinople in 1261 was launched from here. The modern city is İznik.

The Empire of Trabzon or Trebizond was founded by the Komnenos family with support of Queen Tamar of Georgia. It ruled part of the Black Sea coast until 1461, when its ruler, David, surrendered to the Ottoman Mehmed II. (I collect historical Davids, so there’s another: David of Trebizond.) Wikipedia: “Its demographic legacy endured for several centuries after the Ottoman conquest in 1461, and a substantial number of Greek Orthodox inhabitants (called Pontic Greeks) remained in the area until the early 20th century. At that time, the remainder of Orthodox Christian inhabitants in the area were deported to Greece (starting in 1923), as determined by the population exchange between Greece and Turkey. This agreement did not include local Muslims who spoke Greek dialects, who live in the Trebizond area to the present day.”

The Despotate of Epirus was founded on the Greek mainland by the Komnenos Doukas family and survived, under different dynasties, until the Ottomans took it 1479. Its capital was at Arta, with an interlude in Ioannina.

First sentence of Rose Macaulay’s novel The Towers of Trebizond: “‘Take my camel, dear’, said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.”

On June 1 1997 in Trabzon I met two unforgettable brothers: Ali Kemal Yılmaz and Yusuf Ziya Yılmaz.

Cities on the Move, OUP, 1970

The Gordian Knot

November 26 2011

The conquests of Alexander [were] jubilantly trumpeted by the Greek Press of all parties in 1921, whenever their troops advanced. The “Gordian Knot” was to be cut once again by General Papulas! They forgot that Alexander had not after all outwitted the oracle. Whoever untied the knot was to rule Asia. Alexander cut it, and destroyed the Persian Empire (which had tied the Middle East together for two centuries) without founding another.

The Western Question in Greece and Turkey, A Study in the Contact of Civilizations, Constable, 1922

Demonising Turks

March 30 2011

Or, in the nineteenth-century language of contempt, “the Turk”.

The concrete actions of Western Powers in war and diplomacy have mattered less, for good or evil, than the overwhelming though imponderable “suggestion” exercised upon the Turkish by the Western mind. We have injured the Turks most by making them hopeless and embittered. Our scepticism has been so profound and our contempt so vehement, that they have almost ceased to regard it as possible to modify them by their own action. They incline to accept these Western attitudes as fixed stars in their horoscope, with a fatalism which we incorrectly attribute to the teaching of their religion, without realising that our own conduct has been one of its potent causes. But while they are discouraged, they are not deadened to resentment. They see us in a light in which we too seldom look at ourselves, as hypocrites who make self-righteous professions a cloak for unscrupulous practice; and their master-grievance against us so fills their minds that it leaves little room for self-examination. If a charge is brought against them from a Western source, that is almost enough in itself to make them harden their hearts against it, however just it may be. They do not get so far as to consider it on its merits. They plead “not guilty,” and put themselves in a posture of defence, to meet what experience has led them to regard as one of the most effective strokes in the Western tactic of aggression. In 1921, I seldom found the Turks defend the fearful atrocities which they had committed six years previously against the Armenians, but repentance and shame for them were not uppermost in their minds – not, I believe, because they were incapable of these feelings, but because they were preoccupied by indignation at the conduct of the Allied Powers in fomenting a war-after-the-war in Anatolia. Remorse cannot easily co-exist with a grievance, and until we relieve the Turks of the one, we shall certainly fail, as we have done hitherto, to inspire them with the other.

This was not received wisdom in 1922. Much of it applies today rather obviously to Iran, which has suffered from Russian, British or American aggression for most of the past two hundred years.

The Western Question in Greece and Turkey, A Study in the Contact of Civilizations, Constable, 1922

The ox and the army

February 20 2011

The Greek retreat after the Second Battle of İnönü (March 26-31 1921) in the Greco-Turkish War. From January to September 1921 Toynbee was a war correspondent for the Manchester Guardian.

From the bank above the road I commanded a marvellous view of kindly Olympus, the plain and town of Ainegöl, and the Nazyf Pasha heights on the horizon, eight hours’ march away. I sat there watching the immense procession and looking out for the mule which was carrying my knapsack – I could identify him because he was also carrying two deal folding tables belonging to the divisional staff.

As I watched, one of two oxen yoked to a cart just below me lay down deliberately in the road, and the whole file of carts, guns, and lorries halted behind him for miles. It was a dramatic act on the part of the ox, for there, far away on the road zigzagging down into the plain from Nazyf Pasha, I could see the dust raised by the Turkish cavalry as they came down at last in pursuit. In some circumstances an ox may decide the fate of an army, but the driver of this ox was more than a match for him. After kicking and prodding the animal with no result whatever, he stooped down, picked up its tail, and, to my amazement, started carefully parting the hairs. Then, assuming a ferocious expression, he dug his teeth into the tail flesh. Perhaps this was an ultima ratio for dealing with oxen which had been handed down in the man’s family for generations. Anyhow it worked. The ox got up with alacrity and walked on, the whole column followed, and I myself was caught up in a motor-car, whirled away to see the progress of the 3rd Division, and finally deposited in a hotel at Brusa at two o’clock next morning, after a twenty-three hours’ day.

Passage written at Bursa (he calls it Brusa) on April 5. It appeared in the Manchester Guardian on May 12.

The Western Question in Greece and Turkey, A Study in the Contact of Civilizations, Constable, 1922

The Hellenist lobby

June 2 2010

Jacket blurb of Richard Clogg, Politics and the Academy, Arnold Toynbee and the Koraes Chair, Routledge, 2004. Buy here.

“During the First World War King’s College of the University of London became a leading centre for the study of Russia and Eastern Europe. Its principal, Ronald Burrows, a committed philhellene and devoted admirer of the Greek prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos, had a particular interest in the promotion of Byzantine and Modern Greek studies. It was Burrows’ enthusiasm, supported by Venizelos, that led to the establishment in 1919 of the Koraes Chair of Modern Greek and Byzantine History, Language and Literature. The endowment for the chair was raised by a group of wealthy Anglo-Greeks, while the Greek government provided an annual subsidy. The 29-year-old historian Arnold Toynbee was chosen as the first incumbent of the chair.

“In 1921 Toynbee, on leave of absence, covered the Greek-Turkish war in Asia Minor for the Manchester Guardian and reported on the atrocities committed by Greek troops. On his return he wrote The Western Question in Greece and Turkey, which appeared in the summer of 1922 shortly before the rout of the Greek forces by the Turkish nationalists led by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk). Toynbee’s writings and his growing sympathy for the Turkish cause enraged the Greek donors of the chair who, grouped in a Subscribers’ Committee, put strong pressure on the college and university authorities. Toynbee also came under fire from an influential group of colleagues. The cumulative furore forced Toynbee to resign from the chair in 1924 at the end of his first five-year term.

“Now the papers of the major protagonists have enabled a detailed reconstruction to be made of the interaction of international and academic politics. The controversy has some contemporary relevance as it touches on fundamental questions of academic freedom and on the problems inherent in the reliance of academic institutions on outside sources of funding.”

Toynbee, apparently, had not known of the existence of the Subscribers’ Committee when he took the chair. Modern parallel: denial of tenure to Norman Finkelstein, author of The Holocaust Industry, at DePaul University, Chicago, in 2007. Did Toynbee’s views on Israel eventually marginalise him in the US? When did the lobby tighten its grip?

The fifth chapter in McNeill’s biography is about Toynbee’s changing views of near-eastern politics and how events there in the ’20s confirmed him in positions he had taken in the Foreign Office towards the end of the First World War; and about his changing ideas on history before and during the King’s years, and how they were leading him towards the Study. It is hard not to feel some sympathy with the Greeks in the row in which it all culminated. Were they being so unreasonable?

Ancient Greece in the King’s entrance hall (Sophocles by Constantin Dausch, a copy of a Roman copy, the Lateran Sophocles at the Vatican; Sappho by Ferdinand Seeboeck, original; both commissioned by Frida Mond, wife of Ludwig, and passing to King’s on her death in 1923)


Hugh Lloyd-Jones

October 9 2009

Telegraph obituary. “As part of his wartime work, Lloyd-Jones had learned Japanese, and noticed how it was impossible, or at least difficult, to express certain Western concepts in that language. When he returned to Oxford, he set out in an essay for his tutor to refute St Anselm’s ontological argument for the existence of God by showing the difficulties of expressing it in Japanese. It was this, perhaps, that convinced him of the dangers of imposing anachronistic thought structures on the work of ancient writers.”

Hugh Lloyd-Jones was Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford from 1960 to 1989. Hugh Trevor-Roper was Regius Professor of Modern History there from 1957 to 1980. Lloyd-Jones was a Student of Christ Church. I often saw him when I was a student there with a small s, but I was not a classicist, so I was not taught by him.

Did this Hugh share the other Hugh’s opinion of Toynbee? He would have been a more natural opponent, since his field was Toynbee’s specialisation. Morton’s bibliography of Toynbee (1980) lists only one piece by Lloyd-Jones: a 1959 review in The Spectator of Hellenism.

A quick view of the web turns up a review (Prodigious Powers, London Review of Books, January 21-February 3 1982) by Lloyd-Jones of a posthumous work by Toynbee, The Greeks and Their Heritages (1981). It was reprinted in Lloyd-Jones’s Greek in a Cold Climate (1991).

It begins with a guarded sentence. “This posthumous work provides yet more evidence of the phenomenal energy and wide range of information of the late Arnold Toynbee.”

“Wide range of information.” There were many ways in which Toynbee was uncongenial to the Oxford academic establishment. I needn’t summarise them. A historian who wrote about God as if he existed was anyway not “one of us”, ontology or no. Lloyd-Jones has qualified respect for this late book (which McNeill, Toynbee’s biographer, fails even to mention). He begins by summarising, in more or less neutral tones, Toynbee’s life and intellectual evolution, with the help of McNeill’s obituary notice in the 1977 Proceedings of the British Academy. Somervell’s abridgement of A Study of History made Toynbee, he says, “the Tolkein of historical studies”. I made that parallel myself in an early post. The date of publication of the final volumes of the Study was 1954, not 1953.

“Toynbee had studied all the latest speculations about Bronze Age Greece, and knew all about it that could be known – and indeed rather more than all: he does not hesitate to accept the somewhat sanguine speculations of the late TBL Webster, a scholar with whom he had several things in common.”

He finds Toynbee’s resumé of the Hellenistic period “unexciting”. Toynbee, “for all his learning, remained rooted in an attitude fashionable when he was young”: that it was all over by the end of the fifth century BC. This attitude, the dating of the beginning of the decline of Greek civilisation to the start of the Peloponnesian War, was hardly modified during the course of Toynbee’s career. It gave him (I am not paraphrasing Lloyd-Jones here) the shape of the history of Greco-Roman, or as he called it, the Hellenic, civilisation, a plot which he proceeded to superimpose on the histories of other civilisations.

“He notes that the movement to reproduce the style and language of Classical Attic prose started during the first century BC. That was also the moment when the Academy went over from scepticism to dogmatism, and the whole trend of philosophy followed suit: it was then, rather than three centuries earlier, that the real decline began. Toynbee is again old-fashioned in his refusal to see that the archaising revival of Greek culture in the second century AD had some things to be said for it: the writers of the Second Sophistic are lively compared with the Byzantine imitators of the Classics.”

Lloyd-Jones finds things to admire in Toynbee’s handling of the Byzantine period. But “he shows no awareness of the immense cultural superiority of the Byzantines to the Crusaders which Sir Steven Runciman has so clearly described [surely he does elsewhere], nor does he seem conscious that the last age of Byzantium, between the reconquest of Constantinople from the Franks in 1261 and its capture by the Turks in 1453 [the Palaeologian age], was in many respects an age of great cultural vitality. What condemns the Byzantines is the fact that they were defeated by the Turks: Toynbee displays the same servility towards success as E.H. Carr. He has an interesting appendix on Gemistos Plethon, but exaggerates his inclination to paganism and underestimates the influence of his philosophy. A few pages of Edgar Wind’s Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance supply a corrective in both matters.”

When we come to 1921, Toynbee “castigates the Greeks for having clung to ‘the Great Idea’: the hope of the re-establishment of something like the Eastern Empire with its capital in Constantinople. In 1921 it did not seem so foolish: the Turks had paid the penalty for their alliance with the Germans, and the Versailles Conference seriously considered the possibility of handing back the Imperial city to the Greeks. Lloyd George was captivated by the charismatic leader of a race living near to sea and mountains with whom he had much in common, Eleftherios Venizelos, and only Edward Montagu’s [he means Edwin Montagu’s] exaggerated fears of a ‘Khilafat’ agitation in India seem to have led him to give up the plan. If the universal weariness of war had not led the Allies to disperse their armies, they might have imposed a settlement in the Middle East which would have saved much trouble later, just as they might have dealt with Lenin.

“Toynbee goes on to discuss the language question in Greece, berating those Greeks who cling, at least for certain purposes, to the use of the katharevousa, the allegedly ‘pure’ form of Greek that is essentially an artificial revival of the Classical language. In its naïvest form, the cult of the katharevousa is undoubtedly ridiculous, and the attempt of the Colonels to enforce its use in schools can hardly be defended. Yet it has in its time served certain purposes. After the Greeks had been deprived of education and cut off from the Western world for four centuries, it was necessary to create a language suitable for various kinds of technical and abstract writing. Of those kinds of literature which are in some degree affected by it, not every one is to be condemned, and the nostalgia which created and preserved it can easily be understood. Modern Greek writers write in a variety of styles and a variety of linguistic forms, and in spite of the confusion caused by the language question, they have been able to make use of the possibilities which their situation offered them to create a literature which compares well with those produced by many richer and more favoured countries during the same period. Neither the English in general, nor Toynbee in particular, with his clear but not very distinguished style, are in a position to patronise them.”

The criticism of Toynbee’s style – he is at his least readable in this book – that it is “undistinguished” misses the mark, it seems to me. The Economist said the same thing in a review of McNeill’s biography in 1989. It is too individual to be called undistinguished, and it was heavily influenced by his classical education. Occasionally it is poetic.

“Just as an Irishman when he thinks historically places emphasis on certain events not stressed by English people, so does a Greek think much of happenings often forgotten by Western Europeans. He cannot forget that after the western half of the Roman Empire had collapsed, its eastern half carried on for a millennium; that after the western half had sufficiently civilised the barbarians who swamped it to achieve a partial recovery, it set out to defend the holy places of the common religion of the Empire against the infidel; that the Westerners took advantage of this situation to make a treacherous attack on the Easterners and rob them of their Imperial city; that after the Eastern Empire had most remarkably revived itself, the Westerners, even when appeased by a promise to adopt their own uncongenial form of Christianity, allowed it to be conquered and occupied by a barbarian enemy, preferring Muslims to Orthodox fellow Christians. In the war of liberation that began in 1821, the West did something to atone for this, but the Greeks can hardly be expected to forget that, in the years immediately following the Great War, the West encouraged hopes which it later disappointed. Toynbee says nothing about the conduct of his admired Turks in Cyprus since 1974.”

He could hardly have done so. They invaded less than a fortnight before he suffered a stroke which ended his career.

“Professor McNeill justly credits Toynbee with ‘prodigious powers of concentration, phenomenal memory and sheer physical endurance of a regime at which most men would have quailed’: this is fully borne out by the book before me. He also ascribes to him the possession of ‘a very powerful intellect’: this seems a good deal more open to dispute.”

Spoilt children and whipping-boys

May 14 2009

Toynbee remembered

the atmosphere of animosity against Islam and against the Turks in which I had grown up.

Gladstone on the Bulgarian atrocities:

“Let the Turks now carry away their abuses, in the only possible manner, namely, by carrying off themselves. Their Zaptiehs and their Mudirs, their Bimbashis and Yuzbashis, their Kaimakams and their Pashas, one and all, bag and baggage, shall, I hope, clear out from the province that they have desolated and profaned.”

Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East, John Murray, 1876. Bulgaria was re-established two years later.

Toynbee’s 1917 pamphlet “The Murderous Tyranny of the Turks” (too short to be shown in the bibliography here) was the descendant of Gladstone’s.

During the First World War Toynbee had written anti-Turkish propaganda for the Foreign Office. In 1921, while Koraes Professor of Modern Greek and Byzantine Language, Literature and History at King’s College, London, he had travelled to the Near East for the Manchester Guardian to report on the Greco-Turkish War. His new-found sympathy for the Turks cost him his professorship. See Richard Clogg, Politics and the Academy, Arnold Toynbee and the Koraes Chair, Routledge, 2004. We have seen that happen in our own time with wrongly-applied sympathy in Arab-Israeli matters.

The Western Question in Greece and Turkey (1922) rehearses certain ideas which are developed on a large scale in A Study of History. This book is, among other things, about Western foreign policy as a cultural distorting lens and about the effects of inconsistent policy on people who are affected by it. The ambiguous passage below, in a very complex book, seems to me to anticipate modern ideas about, inter alia, Orientalism and “objectification”. Toynbee’s “Western Question” is a deliberately ironic reversal of the “Eastern Question” of British foreign policy. The “Question” is dated to the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish War of 1768-74 and the beginning of Turkey’s status as the “sick man of Europe”. The phrase dates from the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s, when much Western sentiment attached itself to the Greeks. The phrase “sick man of Europe” is, rightly or wrongly, attributed to Nicholas I (reigned 1825-55).

A working-man often makes allowances for an acquaintance who is a gentleman, and a gentleman for a working-man, which they would not either of them make readily for individuals of their respective species, or even for a shopkeeper. This well-known psychological fact has not been without benefit to the Turk. When a Westerner meets a Turk (whether it be an unsophisticated peasant or a Western-educated doctor, official or officer), he finds himself in contact with an individual who has traditions, standards, manners, and a soul of his own. Social relations with him are straightforward and full of interest. They possess all the charm and vividness of intercourse with a live human being, with a minimum of those moral commitments which ordinarily follow. The western traveller takes the same aesthetic enjoyment in his live Turk as in the fictitious personalities of a novel or a play, or as in the ghosts of a dead civilisation. The author, and every reader after him, of Paradise Lost can idealise and sympathise with Satan in the imaginary world of that poem, without having to feel the disapproval obligatory when much less serious offences are committed in this world by sons of Adam. Scholars, too, can take delight in the poetry of Aeschylus, the heroism of Leonidas, and all the glories of Ancient Hellenic civilisation, without being unduly distressed by the paederasty and infanticide which co-existed with them. In the same way, a Westerner who has once made friends with a Turk will shake hands with him again, next time he visits Turkey, without embarrassment, however red the hands of other Turks may have been stained, since his last visit, by massacre. Without his being aware of it, the conventional picture of the “blood-stained Turk,” with which he has been familiarised since infancy, has made him proof against being shocked by the reality. This feature in the personal relationship between Westerners and Turks, on its present footing, is as undesirable as that noted above in the case of Westerners and Greeks; but it has the same psychological origins, and neither feature will disappear until the “complex” of prejudice in Western minds has been removed.

It is imperative to remove it, for unwarrantable prejudice and unwarrantable indulgence do not in this case counterbalance one another. When you have made a spoilt-child of the Greek, it is no good rounding on him as an impostor; and when you have used the Turk as a whipping-boy, you do not heal the stripes that you have inflicted by congratulating him on his fortitude. Unnatural treatment is made doubly harmful by inconsistency in its application […].

The shadow of the West

Acquaintances, OUP, 1967

“The Murderous Tyranny of the Turks”, with a Preface by Viscount Bryce, Hodder & Soughton, 1917

The Western Question in Greece and Turkey, A Study in the Contact of Civilizations, Constable, 1922

The shadow of the West

October 27 2008

Savages are distressed at the waning of the moon and attempt to counteract it by magical remedies. They do not realise that the shadow which creeps forward till it blots out all but a fragment of the shining disc is cast by their world. In much the same way we civilised people of the West glance with pity or contempt at our non-Western contemporaries lying under the shadow of some stronger power, which seems to paralyse their energies by depriving them of light. Generally we are too deeply engrossed in our own business to look closer, and we pass by on the other side – conjecturing (if our curiosity is sufficiently aroused to demand an explanation) that the shadow which oppresses these sickly forms is the ghost of their own past. Yet if we paused to examine that dim gigantic overshadowing figure standing, apparently unconscious, with its back to its victims, we should be startled to find that its features are ours.

The West had long demonised the Turks. Toynbee, who had himself, during the First World War, written anti-Turkish propaganda, examined the effect of Western policies and actions on post-1918 Turkey in

The Western Question in Greece and Turkey, A Study in the Contact of Civilizations, Constable, 1922

Greek prisons at Smyrna

October 26 2008

The Allies which had defeated the Ottoman Empire in the First World War intended to carve up Anatolia into zones of influence and offered the western regions of Turkey to Greece under the Treaty of Sèvres. On May 15 1919 the Greek Army occupied Smyrna (İzmir), but the Greek expedition which was sent into central Anatolia, with the intention of taking Ankara, turned into a disaster for both the Anatolians and the Greeks of Turkey. The Turkish Army retook Smyrna on September 9 1922, ending the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-22. Part of the Greek population of the city, together with the departing Greek troops, fled to nearby Greek islands. The rest left under the ensuing 1923 agreement for the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations, which was part of the Lausanne Treaty. It may have been departing Greeks who started the Great Fire that broke out in Smyrna on September 13 1922.

In Athens on August 14 1921, Toynbee wrote an account of visits to two Greek prisons there.

When I was at Smyrna the other day, I visited two prisons, one being the Central Prison near the konak (Government buildings) and the other an extemporised house of bondage in the Rue Maltaise. The former was decent as far as I penetrated – and that was only to the “no-man’s-land” between two parallel lines of bars, across which the prisoners were allowed to talk to their friends from outside. The second prison was not decent. It flanked both sides of one of those cul-de-sac passages which branch off at right angles from the narrow streets of Smyrna, and the principal cell on the ground floor had been a private warehouse under the Turkish régime. The bars which once protected the produce of the interior now penned in human beings. When I walked up to the bars and talked through them, there were about forty men inside, and I was told that at times the number rose to a hundred. Their misdemeanours varied from being suspected of a wish to join the Nationalist Army (if Turks) or not to join the Greek Army (if Greek Ottoman subjects), to being taken up drunk and disorderly in the streets, but they were all subjected to the same filthy and insanitary conditions. When I inquired about sanitary arrangements, the Greek warders burst out laughing and enlightened me by pointing to a corner of the room – undrained and on the same level as the rest of the floor, on which the prisoners slept without bedding. Several of these unhappy people told me that they were ill, and certainly most of them had the appearance of being so. They told me further that the prison was never visited by a doctor, and that they were not provided with sufficient water to drink. I must do this much justice to the Greek warders, that they let me look and talk as much as I pleased, but then I do not think it occurred to them that there was anything to be ashamed of in the condition of the people and the building under their charge.

In the other and more decent prison, I visited two prominent Turkish inhabitants of Smyrna whose imprisonment since about two months previously had created some stir. With one of them (like myself, a professor and journalist) I managed to exchange a few words in the presence of the prison authorities. To the second – a provision merchant – I only succeeded in shouting across “no-man’s-land” through the bars, but I afterwards made inquiries about his case from several sources, and give my results, with the necessary reservation that I had no time to verify them and that they represent only the prisoner’s side of the case.

There seems no doubt that, rather less than two months ago, this gentleman had suddenly been thrown into prison (where he still remains without trial) on the ground that he had been selling sugar in Smyrna at a price several piastres per “oka” below that of his fellow-merchants, who are of course mostly Greeks. He imported his sugar from Constantinople, not on his own account, but as commission-agent for an Armenian merchant in business there. Sugar so imported does not pay duty on arrival at Smyrna, because Smyrna is still juridically Ottoman territory, and the sugar is supposed to have paid the Ottoman customs-duty when it originally enters Ottoman territory at Constantinople. His accusers declared that the duty on this sugar had not in reality been paid at Constantinople; that, by making a false declaration to this effect, he had evaded paying duty altogether; and that this was how he had managed to undersell his competitors. The prisoner, on his side, maintained that duty had been paid at Constantinople; explained the lower price on the ground that the sugar sold consisted of old stocks originally bought below the current wholesale price; and pleaded that in any case he was not responsible, since he had not sold the sugar on his own account but merely as agent for a principal in Constantinople. He had memorialised the Greek High Commissioner, and in support of his contention had submitted, six weeks before my visit, twenty-four business letters, addressed to him by the merchant at Constantinople for whom he had been acting. But the Greek authorities had postponed the case pending inquiries in Constantinople, and these may take months, while the merchant remains in prison and his business goes to pieces. It appears that he has offered to find sureties up to L.T. 12,500, or to deposit that sum himself as bail in a bank, but the Greek authorities refuse to release him on bail unless the money is paid over to themselves. This is natural, but it is also natural that the merchant should refuse, in the belief that if once he paid the sum over to the authorities he would never recover it. So in prison he remains. Turkish circles in Smyrna believe that he is the victim of a plot by the Greek merchants to ruin his business. This may or may not be true, but certainly it is not incredible.

This is all that I was able to see of the Greek prisons in Smyrna during a short visit. Of course the question is one of comparison. How do these Greek prisons compare with those of the civilised countries with which Greece claims to rank, and with those of the Ottoman Empire over which she claims so great a superiority? The comparatively decent prison was originally built and equipped by the previous Ottoman authorities. The obscene prison is a new creation of the Greek régime. Perhaps the Greek authorities will claim indulgence for the conditions which I observed in the Maltesica prison on the ground that it is an emergency arrangement. But, then, how is it that the Greek administration in Smyrna needs more prison accommodation than its predecessor?

The Western Question in Greece and Turkey, A Study in the Contact of Civilizations, Constable, 1922

The propagandist

September 4 2008

I have had certain opportunities for first-hand study of Greek and Turkish affairs. Just before the Balkan Wars, I spent nine months (November 1911 to August 1912) travelling on foot through the old territories of Greece, as well as in Krete and the Athos Peninsula, and though my main interest was the historical geography of the country, I learnt a good deal about the social and economic life of the modern population. During the European War, I edited, under the direction of Lord Bryce, [footnote: Whose death has removed one of the most experienced and distinguished Western students of Near and Middle Eastern questions, though this was only one among his manifold interests and activities.] the Blue Book published by the British Government on the “Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire: 1915” (Miscellaneous No. 31, 1916), and incidentally learnt, I believe, nearly all that there is to be learnt to the discredit of the Turkish nation and of their rule over other peoples. Afterwards I worked, always on Turkish affairs, in the Intelligence Bureau of the Department of Information (May 1917 to May 1918); in the Political Intelligence Department of the Foreign Office (May to December 1918); and in the Foreign Office section of the British Delegation to the Peace Conference at Paris (December 1918 to April 1919). Since the beginning of the 1919-20 Session, I have had the honour to hold the Koraís Chair of Byzantine and Modern Greek Language, Literature, and History, in the University of London; and on the 20th October 1920 the Senate of the University kindly granted me leave of absence abroad for two terms, in order to enable me to pursue the studies connected with my Chair by travel in Greek lands. I arrived at Athens from England on the 15th January 1921, and left Constantinople for England on the 15th September. During the intervening time, I saw all that I could of the situation from both the Greek and the Turkish point of view, in various parts of the two countries.

Toynbee gives us this short account of his early career in the Preface to The Western Question in Greece and Turkey (1922). And see the page here called Cv.

He left Balliol, where he had been teaching Greats, in 1915 to do propaganda work at the Foreign Office, starting on May 1. He was twenty-five years old.

He doesn’t name that first (pre-1917) war job. Nor does McNeill, his biographer. It was a unit charged, according to McNeill, with publishing propaganda directed at America. Toynbee privately referred to it as the “Mendacity Bureau”. That period saw the production of most or all the wartime propaganda works, from Armenian Atrocities to Turkey, A Past and a Future, listed below.

They were written, as far as possible, with a scholar’s scruples, but must have reinforced a desire to escape from a national viewpoint in the way he would eventually write history. To his friend Rob Darbishire, September 16 1917:

There is a “Terror in France” out to complete that damned “Terror in Belgium”, but that is the last.

The last for a while. He would describe further terror when reporting on the Greco-Turkish war for The Manchester Guardian in 1921.

I’ve created three new Categories in this blog:

Armenian massacres

German terror

Greco-Turkish War

McNeill makes no distinction between the Intelligence Bureau and the Political Intelligence Department and has him starting at the latter in May 1917 (or rather “1971”). He writes: “Not surprisingly, he became responsible for political intelligence pertaining to the Ottoman Empire; but, with the collapse of Russia, his expertise was soon applied to the Moslems of Central Asia as well, and from there he went on to explore the risks of confrontation between a newly self-conscious Islamic world and a weakening British Empire – a clash which would affect India, Arabia, Persia, Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Africa as well as the lands directly subject to Ottoman administration.”


Hugh Trevor-Roper on his work in the Political Intelligence Department and its sequel, in The Prophet, review of William H McNeill, Arnold J. Toynbee, A Life, New York, OUP, 1989, New York Review of Books, October 12 1989:

“Lloyd George wished to award part of Asia Minor – in particular the Greek city of Smyrna – to the Greeks. Toynbee, supported by Harold Nicolson, was opposed to this. Lloyd George’s view, naturally, prevailed. Toynbee, who anyway had little love for the Greeks, now extended his antipathy to Lloyd George. He waited for an opportunity of revenge. It was not long in coming.

“In 1919, having resigned his fellowship, Toynbee was in need of paid employment. Encouraged by his father-in-law, Gilbert Murray, he applied for a newly created professorship in the University of London. This was the Koraes Chair of Greek and Byzantine Studies at King’s College. It had been endowed by a group of rich Greeks in London, headed by the former Greek minister there, the scholar and bibliophile Ioannes Gennadius, and named after Adamantios Koraes, the literary leader of the Greek revival in the nineteenth-century. The duties of the professor were to give lectures which would emphasize the continuity of Greek culture from Antiquity through Byzantium and the dark age of Turkish oppression to the present day. On the face of it, Toynbee, with his antipathy to modern Greece [developed in part during his Wanderjahr there, 1911-12], was not an obvious choice as the first occupant of the chair. Events quickly followed which nearly made him the last.

“For only a few months after taking up his duties, Toynbee saw, no doubt with some satisfaction, the Near Eastern policy of Lloyd George, which he had vainly opposed, heading for disaster. The Greek occupation of Anatolia, authorized by the Treaty of Sèvres, provoked a Turkish nationalist revolt under Mustafa Kemal, which would ultimately lead to a Greco-Turkish war. Toynbee, who had already missed one term by visiting the Near East, applied again for leave of absence in order to see ‘how Greece is handling her Muslim minority.’ He did not tell the university authorities that he had arranged to act as special correspondent for the Manchester Guardian. Already, when he left London, he was inclined, if only through hatred of Lloyd George, to favor the Turkish cause, and he may have felt guilty of overdoing anti-Turkish propaganda during the war when he had compiled a Blue Book on “The Murderous Tyranny of the Turks”. [Actually, that was the name of its pamphlet distillation.]

“At all events, what he witnessed of Greek excesses in Anatolia completely converted him. He sent strong denuciations of the Greeks to the Manchester Guardian and on his return wrote, with great speed, a book on the subject. By the time it was published, the Greeks had been defeated in war and were being driven out of Asia Minor. It was now the turn of the Turks to commit atrocities, at which they were not backward. Smyrna, the birthplace of Koraes, was burned. But Toynbee, in his despatches to the Manchester Guardian, was remarkably reticent about these Turkish excesses and even suggested that Smyrna had been burned by the Greeks. He was in fact ‘blatantly partisan’ – on the Turkish side. His biographer explains that he needed to show that he had not evaded military service in vain and to enjoy the humiliation of Lloyd George.

“Such arcane psychological extenuations would hardly satisfy the London Greeks who were paying his salary as professor.”


Here are the books that he published before (in one case in) 1934, when the Study was launched. (As in my main bibliography, I don’t promise to show the correct order of publication within a year – nor does Morton’s bibliography – and confine the list to published items or contributions of 70 pages or more.)

Nationality and the War, Dent, 1915

The first magnum opus was completed before he left Balliol, and published on April 1, one month before the start of his war work. I’ve done a post on it based on an online review and will address it at length later. It was the first evidence of the ability rapidly to synthesise diverse materials that would serve him in the Survey of International Affairs.

Armenian Atrocities, The Murder of a Nation, with a Speech Delivered by Lord Bryce in the House of Lords, Hodder & Stoughton, 1915

A little over a hundred pages. It contains a Statement by Lord Bryce, a Map, and chapters called Armenia before the Massacres; The Plan of the Massacres; The Road to Death; The Journey’s End; False Excuses; Murder Outright; The Toll of Death; and The Attitude of Germany.

The New Europe, Some Essays in Reconstruction, Dent, 1915

Essays. All but one had been printed in The Nation. A spinoff, for wider circulation, of the much longer Nationality and the War, though it does not reproduce its material directly.

Contributor, Greece, in The Balkans, A History of Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Rumania, Turkey, various authors, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1915

A view of the whole of Greek history, ancient and modern.

Editor, The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-16: Documents Presented to Viscount Grey of Fallodon, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, by Viscount Bryce, with a Preface by Viscount Bryce, Hodder & Stoughton and His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1916

The “Blue Book” on the massacres of Armenians in Turkey presented to the Foreign Secretary, and subsequently to both Houses of Parliament, in 1916, and still one of the main bodies of evidence for the alleged genocide. Toynbee worked under the direction of Bryce, whom he met first in 1915. I have mentioned Bryce several times.

The report as published contains a Map; Correspondence between Viscount Grey of Fallodon and Viscount Bryce; a Preface by Viscount Bryce; a Letter by Mr. H.A.L. Fisher, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield University, to Viscount Bryce; a Letter from Prof. Gilbert Murray, Regius Professor of Greek in the University of Oxford, to Viscount Bryce; a Letter from Mr. Moorfield Storey, ex-President of the American Bar Association, to Viscount Bryce; a Letter from Four German Missionaries to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Berlin; a Memorandum by the Editor of the Documents (Toynbee); and 149 General Descriptions, eye-witness and other documents presented in twenty sections.

After that we have A Summary of Armenian History up to and including the year 1915 in six parts by Toynbee; six Annexes prepared by Toynbee; an Index of Places referred to in the Documents; and a Message, dated 22nd July, 1916, from Mr. N., of Constantinople; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief.

I have a post called Propaganda and intelligence here, looking at how hearsay was used as intelligence during this period.

The Belgian Deportations, with a Statement by Viscount Bryce, T Fisher Unwin, 1917

The German Terror in Belgium, An Historical Record, Hodder & Stoughton, 1917

The German Terror in France, An Historical Record, Hodder & Stoughton, 1917

Those three titles belong together. Toynbee writes in a Preface:

The German Terror in France is a direct continuation of The German Terror in Belgium, which was published several months ago. The chapters are numbered consecutively throughout the two volumes […].

Turkey, A Past and a Future, Hodder & Stoughton, 1917

A study of the consequences of the Turkish revolution of 1908 and the events leading up to the Armenian massacres and deportations.

The Western Question in Greece and Turkey, A Study in the Contact of Civilizations, Constable, 1922

An important work, the second magnum opus, based on Toynbee’s second visit to Turkey, reporting on the Greco-Turkish war for The Manchester Guardian in 1921.

Introduction and translations, Greek Civilization and Character, The Self-Revelation of Ancient Greek Society, Dent, 1924

Introduction and translations, Greek Historical Thought from Homer to the Age of Heraclius, with two pieces newly translated by Gilbert Murray, Dent, 1924

Two volumes of translations which Toynbee had made before the war. (Another work, based at least on pre-war notes, which was not published until much later, was Hellenism, The History of a Civilization, OUP, Home University Library, 1959. It had been commissioned by his father-in-law Gilbert Murray in 1914. The war intervened. Hannibal’s Legacy, the magnum opus of 1964, had been been on his agenda since the same year. The Preface of Some Problems of Greek History, 1969, begins: “The problems discussed in this book have been in my mind since the years 1909-11, when I was reading for the Oxford School of Literae Humaniores.”)

Contributor, The Non-Arab Territories of the Ottoman Empire since the Armistice of the 30th October, 1918, in HWV Temperley, editor, A History of the Peace Conference of Paris, Vol 6, OUP, Issued under the auspices of the British Institute of International Affairs, 1924

The World after the Peace Conference, Being an Epilogue to the “History of the Peace Conference of Paris” and a Prologue to the “Survey of International Affairs, 1920-1923”, OUP, Issued under the auspices of the British Institute of International Affairs, 1925

This was published on its own, but GM Gathorne-Hardy, the Institute’s Honorary Secretary, writes in a Preface that it was

originally written as an introduction to the Survey of International Affairs in 1920-3, and was intended for publication as part of the same volume.

In Experiences, Toynbee calls this cross-section of the world c 1920 a “base-line” for the Survey.

With Kenneth P Kirkwood, Turkey, in The Modern World series edited by HAL Fisher, Benn, 1926

I have not consulted this.

The Conduct of British Empire Foreign Relations since the Peace Settlement, OUP, Issued under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1928

A Journey to China, or Things Which Are Seen, Constable, 1931

The book of a journey to Japan and back (via China, pace the title) in 1929-30.

Editor, British Commonwealth Relations, Proceedings of the First Unofficial Conference at Toronto, 11-21 September 1933, with a Foreword by Robert L Borden, OUP, Issued under the joint auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, 1934


One could add to this pre-Study list two short works, among many articles and other material:

The Destruction of Poland, A Study in German Efficiency, T Fisher Unwin, almost certainly 1916


“The Murderous Tyranny of the Turks”, with a Preface by Viscount Bryce, Hodder & Soughton, 1917

A rather blatant piece of work. A pamphlet distillation of the two other Armenian works.


Let’s look again at his evolution. According to Morton, Toynbee published his first learned article while he was at Oxford in 1910: On Herodotus III. 90, and VII. 75, 76, Classical Review, Vol 24, No 8. You can find it online. Another, The Growth of Sparta, Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol 33, Part 2 followed in 1913. 1914 sees two more: Greek Policy since 1882, Oxford pamphlets, Vol 9, No 39, OUP and The Slav Peoples, Political Quarterly, No 4, December 1914. In those first four pieces we see classical interests vaulting towards urgent contemporary ones.

Toynbee’s first visit to Greece and territory that was then Turkey had been made during a post-University “gap year” in 1911-12. It was a formative experience, and often alluded to, but did not produce its own book. His longest piece of published historical writing on Greece before 1934 was a contribution, Greece, in The Balkans, A History of Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Rumania, Turkey, various authors, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1915.

The second visit to Greece and Turkey took up most of 1921, when CP Scott’s Manchester Guardian sent him to report on the Greco-Turkish War. He had been appointed, in 1919, to the Koraes Chair of Byzantine and Modern Greek Language, Literature, and History at King’s College, University of London, but was given leave to travel. The result was The Western Question in Greece and Turkey (1922).

This is a rugged work of reportage of a war (and to some extent a travel narrative) which shows an utterly out-of-the-ordinary grasp of history for such a piece, but does not lose touch with the subject. The language is simple, different from the sinuosities and contortions of the Study (particularly the later parts of the Study). One almost regrets that Toynbee was about to leave its sturdy realism behind and set off on his grand project.

At the same time, the other book is trying to get out. The subtitle, A Study in the Contact of Civilizations, hints at what was to follow; and it was on a train, while en route back to England from this assignment, somewhere after Adrianople on September 17 1921, as he tells us in a Preface to Volume VII of the Study, that he formed thoughts which led to the drafting that evening of part of the plan for his work. Of course, the Study’s origins are more complex than that, and I will trace them in another post.

During his 1921 travels, Toynbee began to take a position more favourable to Turkey. I have done two posts which look at this change: Toynbee, Turkey and Armenia 1 and Atatürk’s frown. His later reminiscences make clear that it came partly from a sense of shame at the tone of the propaganda writings. He writes in The Western Question in Greece and Turkey:

It may, I fear, be painful to Greeks and “Philhellenes” that information and reflections unfavourable to Greece should have been published by the first occupant of the Koraís Chair. I naturally regret this, but from the academic point of view it is less unfortunate than if my conclusions on the Anatolian Question had been favourable to Greece and unfavourable to Turkey. The actual circumstances, whatever personal unpleasantness they may entail for me and my Greek friends and acquaintances, at least preclude the suspicion that an endowment of learning in a British University has been used for propaganda on behalf of the country with which it is concerned. Such a contention, if it could be urged, would be serious; for academic study should have no political purpose, although, when its subject is history, its judgments upon the nature and causal connection of past events do occasionally and incidentally have some effect upon the present and the future.

But these views, published in 1922, and following an absence from duty of nearly a year, forced him out of the Greek-funded Koraes Chair in 1924, and towards Chatham House. He never held another conventional full-time academic post. Chatham House offered something mid-way between academia and public affairs.

In the post here called Atatürk’s frown Toynbee describes some of his Turkish friendships. In Toynbee, Turkey and Armenia 1, he remembers

the atmosphere of animosity against Islam and against the Turks in which I had grown up.

He writes in Experiences (1969):

I originally broke my way into current affairs by following up the main line – that is, the Levantine line – of the sequel to the Graeco-Roman civilization till this mental journey brought me to the living civilizations of the Near and Middle East. Between 1911 [his first visit to the region] and 1923 [his third], I was, I think, in danger of letting myself become imprisoned in a couple of specialisms. I was then heading for becoming a combination of “Balkanist” with “ancient historian”. Fortunately I was saved from being caught in this blind alley by a personal mishap. I became personally involved in a conflict between two Near Eastern nationalisms. I had, in consequence, to resign the Koraes Chair of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies in the University of London; and, in taking another job [at Chatham House], I found that I had committed myself to expanding my study of current affairs from the Near and Middle East to the contemporary world as a whole. I had undertaken to produce a Survey of International Affairs for the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and the commitment required me not to leave any region of the present-day world out of account. I must try to follow current events not only in the Near and Middle East and not only in Europe and the United States but in Latin America, the Soviet Union, and China as well.

History and current affairs were parallel seams in his career from then on. He often says that he could not have written A Study of History, which was published between 1934 and 1961, if he had not also been working, from 1924 to ’56, on the The Survey of International Affairs. The Survey, which was not propaganda, was published under Chatham House’s auspices between 1925 and 1977 and covered the years 1920 to 1962.


This post describes the pre-Study œuvre. Before 1934, “Arnold Toynbee” meant not the historian, but his uncle, the economic historian and social reformer (1852-83). The older Arnold Toynbee’s brother Paget, the Dante scholar, took Toynbee to task for using his uncle’s name on the title page of his first book. He could have added or substituted an initial.

I described the post-1933 œuvre here. I listed the main post-Study works there in order to emphasise that the Study was not the end of Toynbee any more than the beginning. It’s a sign of sanity to finish a project and move on; which, apart from the Caplan collaboration, is what he did.


The Western Question in Greece and Turkey, A Study in the Contact of Civilizations, Constable, 1922

William H McNeill, Arnold J. Toynbee, A Life, New York, OUP, 1989 (letter quotation)

The German Terror in France, An Historical Record, Hodder & Stoughton, 1917

The World after the Peace Conference, Being an Epilogue to the “History of the Peace Conference of Paris” and a Prologue to the “Survey of International Affairs, 1920-1923”, OUP, Issued under the auspices of the British Institute of International Affairs, 1925

Acquaintances, OUP, 1967

Experiences, OUP, 1969

Écrasez l’infâme

November 14 2007

Living when and where I have lived, and having had the education and the experience that I have had, I have been concerned above all, since August 1914, to do what I can in my lifetime towards bringing about the abolition of war. This is the wickedest of all living human institutions, and it is also an institution to which human beings cling with obstinate tenacity. In 1914, war could take lives only by the million. Since 6 August 1945 it has been on the way towards becoming deadly enough to wipe out the human race and perhaps even to make the surface of our planet no longer habitable for any form of life. Écrasez l’infâme.

Though a freak of chance disqualified me for combatant service in the First World War, I have been brought face to face with the wickedness of war from August 1914 onwards. Before August 1914, most people in Britain, with the signal exception of the Quakers, were morally obtuse to this wickedness, though we had been engaged in enough “little wars”, and aggressive little wars at that, to have had our eyes opened if we had so willed. If we had not still been blind, my parents would never have let me play murder by knocking over toy soldiers with shots from toy cannon, and I myself should never have taken pleasure in this unpleasant game. Since August 1914 we can no longer plead invincible ignorance.

Before the end of the First World War, half my contemporaries had been killed; but I was not an eye-witness of their deaths, and it is what one has seen with one’s own eyes that impresses one’s imagination the most deeply and haunts one’s memory the most persistently. Accordingly, the two visual memories that stand out in my mind the most vividly whenever I think of war are not the faces of my dead friends; they are the faces of three people who were strangers to me.

In 1915, soon after I had left Oxford for London to do war-work there, I was sent on some errand to the War Office in Whitehall. As I was entering, I saw, facing me, a notice-board on which there was posted a list of officers recently reported killed, and, at the same moment, two women passed me. They had just read on the board the announcement of a death. One of the two was weeping bitterly; the other was talking rapidly and emphatically – as if her hurrying words could overtake and perhaps retrieve the cruel loss that had been suffered by her companion. I can see those two poor women’s faces as clearly today in my mind’s eye as, on that day, I saw them in the life. While I still have life and strength, I must work for the abolition of the wicked institution that was the cause of that terrible sorrow.

My second visual memory is of the dead body of a young Greek soldier, killed in March 1921 at the second battle of Inönü. The body was rigid; the face was waxen; the tiny perforation-mark in the forehead seemed too insignificant a cause to have extinguished a life instantaneously. The dead boy was lying a few yards below the Turkish trenches on the crown of the ridge which the boy’s unit had been storming. In the trenches there were the bodies of Turkish peasants – brave “embattled farmers” – that had been horribly mutilated by Greek shell-fire. These young men, Greek and Turkish, had all been brought into the world by the birth-pangs of mothers; they had been nurtured with love; and now they had been taken to be slaughtered on the threshold of manhood. I must work for the abolition of the wicked institution that was the cause of this criminal destruction of the most precious thing on Earth.

There are ways of working for the abolition of war that are more direct than my way has been. Instead of spending thirty-three years on the writing of the Chatham House Survey of International Affairs, I might have applied for a post on the staff of the League of Nations or the League of Nations Union. Believing, as I do, that intellectual work is a necessary basis for action, apart from its intrinsic value in itself, I have always felt that, in persisting with the Survey, I was not merely helping to expose the major evil of our time (and, indeed, of all times since war began); I have also always felt that I was helping to try to suppress this wicked institution before it annihilated us, its makers.

In my private warfare against war, I am a total abolitionist. I am not a total abstainer from alcohol. I have seen too many cases of teetotalism defeating its own purpose. In this field, Prohibition has, I believe, proved to be the worst enemy of voluntary moderation; and, for combating the social evil of alcoholism, the longer road looks to me more promising than the short cut. War, on the other had, is, in my judgement, like slavery, a social evil with which there can be no compromise. I do not believe in the efficacy of abolishing the atomic weapon while retaining conventional weapons, or of reducing the quantity of armaments without renouncing the use of the residue. My objective is the total abolition of war, and nothing short of that. Yet I am an abolitionist who is not a pacifist. If I had been given a chance of voting for war with Japan over Manchuria in 1931 or with Italy over Ethiopia in 1935 or with Germany over Czechoslovakia in 1938, I should have voted for war on each of these three agonizing occasions.

I should have voted for war because I believe it is neither right nor politic to offer no military resistance to a militarist on the war-path. The dilemma here is an agonizing one because, on the one hand, non-resistance to military aggression gives the World over into the militarists’ hands, while, on the other hand, when one engages in a “holy war” against aggression, one cannot foretell how long one’s war will stay holy. In making war, even if one is making it in the cause of ending war, one is using evil as an antidote to evil; and in this game the dice are loaded in Beelzebub’s favour. Nor can one tell how many “wars to end war” may have to be waged on mankind’s long via dolorosa. My contemporaries who gave their lives to end war in the First World War died believing that this was the last war that the survivors and their descendants would ever see. Thus, in seeking to abolish the ancient institution of war, one finds oneself entangled in inconsistencies and frustrations.

This experience is daunting, but it has to be faced; for it is a facet of one of the hard facts of life. The fact is that each generation carries a load of karma that has been bequeathed to it by its predecessors. The living generation does not start life free; it starts life as a prisoner of the past. Happily the prisoner is not helpless; he has it in his power to break the fetters of inherited custom; but he can break them only by a mighty effort, and he can never break them all. Human freedom is not illusory, but it is never total.

In the case in point, we do not have the freedom to abolish war by a pacific political act. The institution of war between states is a parasite on the institution of local sovereignty; a parasite cannot survive without its host; and we can abolish local sovereignty pacifically by voluntarily entering into a world-wide federal union in which the local states would surrender their sovereignty while continuing to exist as subordinate parts of the whole. This is the positive solution of the problem of war that Lionel Curtis advocated. One need not, and should not, be dogmatic, about the details of a federal constitution for the World. But one should work for the achievement of this in some form or other. In the Atomic Age, this looks as if it were mankind’s only alternative to mass-suicide.

Many Europeans after the Second World War advocated a federal constitution for Europe.

Voltaire’s phrase occurs in his letters. It is directed against superstition and religious bigotry, not war.

Toynbee’s biographer William McNeill suggests that his “disqualification” from combatant service, as a consequence of the dysentery he had contracted in Greece two or three years previously, was more or less engineered. If it was, it will have led to lifelong feelings of guilt.

There is more on Toynbee’s experience, as a journalist, of the Greco-Turkish War here.

Greeks advance towards the Turkish line at the second battle of İnönü (artist unknown to me)


Experiences, OUP, 1969

Atatürk’s frown

June 15 2007

Two of Toynbee’s Turkish friends were Adnan and Halidé Adivar. She was a writer and feminist. Adnan

was not only a modern physician; he was also a modern man, and this for good only, and not for evil. His modernity was of the humane and not the demonic kind. In Adnan Adivar’s lifetime, these two antithetical strains in the modern Western spirit were contending for the mastery of Western souls. In Adnan’s Westernized soul, human feelings had no demonic antagonist to overcome. Adnan’s nature was incapable of harbouring any of the seven devils.

When I first met Adnan [in 1923], he was in politics. He was acting as the Turkish Nationalist Government’s administrator of the City of Istanbul during the interval between the signing of the Mudanya armistice and the conclusion of the Lausanne peace-treaty. Since 1919 Adnan and Halidé had been playing an active and distinguished part in the Turkish resistance movement; but politics was not the natural element of either of them. Turkey after the First World War, like France in the Second World War, met with a crisis in which her very existence was at stake; and, in both countries, on these respective occasions, this supreme emergency drew into active public life a number of high-minded men and women whose temperaments would probably have kept them remote from politics in quieter times. Adnan and Halidé paid for their patriotism by being driven into exile – not by their country’s adversaries at the time when Turkey had her back to the wall. They were exiled, after the national crisis was over, by the national leader who had saved Turkey with the aid of comrades of the Adivars’ disinterested kind. When Atatürk’s death made it possible for the Adivars to come back home, they resumed their natural vocations, which were scholarly. Halidé had made her name early as a novelist and she now became professor of English at the University of Istanbul, while Adnan took a leading part in the production of the Turkish version of The Encyclopaedia of Islam: a new edition that became virtually a new work.

Halidé’s marriage with Adnan [in 1917] was, for Halidé, calm after storm. She had been married before, but her first marriage had ended in a battle; for her first husband, unlike Adnan, had been a modern man only within the limits of his profession. He had been a mathematician but also a reactionary. After Halidé had borne two children, he had announced his intention of taking a second wife; Halidé had told him that she would leave him if he did; he persisted in his course; and Halidé did as she had said. Her refusal to become a party to polygamy required high courage; for, at that date, the institution of marriage was still governed, in Turkey, by the Islamic religious law, under which it is legitimate for a Muslim man to have four wives simultaneously. (It was not till 17 February 1926 that polygamy was made illegal in Turkey by the enactment of the Swiss Civil Code, translated into Turkish, as the law of the land.) In parting from her first husband, Halidé had been fighting a battle for a vital human right in the teeth of the law that was then in force, and she had not been fighting simply for her own hand. It had been a battle for all the women of Turkey and, indirectly, for all the women of the rest of the Islamic World as well. For Halidé, this personal crisis had been as severe as the public crisis of 1919-23 was for her country. Her reward was her meeting and marriage with a man who saw eye to eye with her on moral issues and who captivated her fiercer spirit by his gentler one.


Atatürk’s ex-comrades whom he had driven into exile [the Adivars lived in France and Britain until the eve of the Second World War] were no more unfortunate than my Russian refugee friends were in point of material circumstances, but they had a psychological problem to wrestle with which the Russian refugees had been spared. The Russian refugees had no call to show any consideration for the reigning Communist régime in Russia. They were members of a class on which the Communists had made war to the knife, and they had been lucky to escape with their lives. The Turkish exiles’ relation to the reigning dictator of Turkey was more complex.

These former comrades of Atatürk’s had followed him as their leader in their country’s supreme crisis. They had followed him to victory – a victory in which they too had played their part – and they would have liked nothing better than to go on working with him for the regeneration of their country’s life. In driving them into exile, Atatürk had committed a major crime both against the exiles personally and against his and their common country too. At a time when Turkey needed every public-spirited and honest and able citizen whom she could muster, Atatürk had deprived her of almost all of these except himself, and, in the act, he had convicted himself of lacking the public spirit that his victims had shown. These had been eager to go on working for the country under his leadership; Atatürk had responded by driving them out; and their offence in his eyes had been the inadmissible one that they too were personalities with opinions of their own and that, so long as these other eminent Turkish men and women were working with him, he could not be the lone star in the Turkish firmament. Atatürk had succumbed to a dictator’s occupational infirmity of being unable to co-operate with his equals, and the exiles were paying the price for this. Each of them had as good a right as Dante had had to sign himself exul immeritus. But would it be warrantable for them to assume Dante’s posture of implacable aggrievedness? Atatürk was flagrantly at fault, but he was still the saviour of his and his victims’ country. The exiles still approved of Atatürk’s past acts, and they also continued to approve of much of his current policy. What line were they to take about Atatürk, both among themselves and in the presence of sympathetic foreign friends?

In this difficult moral situation, my Turkish friends in exile showed good judgement and admirable generosity. Their comments on Atatürk’s acts were frank but discriminating and objective. No note of personal bitterness ever crept into what they said; and Ra’ûf Orbay, in particular, invariably accompanied any critical comment that he might have made by adding that, in spite of all, Atatürk was a great man; that his vision and will-power had saved Turkey; and that every patriotic Turk owed him admiration and gratitude for what he had done for the country, irrespective of Atatürk’s behaviour to individuals. Adnan and Ra’ûf were men of different temperaments and gifts. Adnan was primarily a scholar; Ra’ûf was primarily a man of action; but, in nobility of character, they were kindred spirits.

Besides being conspicuously frank and honourable, Ra’ûf was romantic. I have already [in an earlier chapter] mentioned his Abkhazian origin. […] By profession, Ra’ûf was a naval officer. In the First Balkan War he had commanded the cruiser Hamidié and had sallied out in her from the Dardanelles into the Aegean, running the gauntlet of the Greek naval blockade. He had then managed to do some commerce-raiding without being caught, though the Greek navy commanded the sea in which he was operating. After Turkey’s intervention in the First World War, Ra’ûf had made an equally daring land-raid on the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company’s pipeline between its oilfields and its refinery on Abadin Island. If he had succeeded in this enterprise, he might have brought the British Navy to a standstill. When I first met Ra’ûf, which was at Ankara in 1923, he was Prime Minister in the Nationalist Government. He lived to return from exile and to serve as Turkish Ambassador in London during the Second World War. In private life, he was a friend whose constancy was never in doubt.

Those of my Turkish friends who were in exile during the later years of Atatürk’s régime were the ones whom I had the opportunity of seeing the most often and getting to know the best. But I had, and have, others as well. One of these was Fethî Bey Okyar, a comrade of Atatürk’s whom Atatürk did not choose to evict – though he came near to quarrelling with him at least once. Fethî was able to continue to serve his country without any loss of personal integrity and honour. Fethî’s son Osman is one of my most valued friends of any nationality in the next generation to his father’s and mine. My first meeting with Osman was in 1923, in his parents’ house at Ankara. He was hardly out of his cradle; he grew up to become a distinguished economist, and he is now Rector of the recently-established University of Erzerum. In my own generation, one of my Turkish friends is Şerif Remzi Bey, the star pupil of my old Canadian friend Dr. MacLachlan, the President of the former International College at Izmir. In an older generation than mine, I had Turkish friends who did not all share my Nationalist friends’ political views. (One advantage of being a foreigner is that one’s friendships need not be confined to any one political camp.) There was the lovable ‘Inglîz Rif’at, an Anglophil Turk of the old school to whom I was introduced by Aubrey Herbert and who became my friend too. There was the Platonist philosopher Rizâ Tevfîk, who had made himself persona non grata to the Nationalists to a degree at which it was no longer prudent for him to remain at large. When I first met him, he had taken sanctuary within the bounds of the American College for Girls at Arna’ûtköi. He was afterwards given a permanent asylum in Transjordan by the Amir ‘Abdallah.


In all my dealings with or about the Turks, personal relations had been, for me, the key; and this thought was uppermost in my mind on the evening in the spring of 1923 on which I was Atatürk’s guest for dinner at Ankara. In this enconnter with Atatürk, as in my encounter with Hitler thirteen years later, I had the opportunity of making only a single point; so, in speaking to Atatürk, I tried out on him my conviction of the paramount importance of personal relations in all fields, public as well as private. When Atatürk disagreed with what someone had said, he intimidated the other person visually, before opening his mouth, with a frown that brought the whole of his forehead down, like a thunder-cloud, upon his brows; and I was confronted by this lowering face while he was telling me that I was entirely wrong. Personal relations, he said to me, were of little importance; they produced no appreciable effect. Impersonal public relations were what mattered.

Our exchange of ideas was brief, but it told me that I was in the presence of a mind that was powerful but was also “monadic” in the Leibnizian sense. Atatürk’s mind had, I knew, conceived at least one idea that was a stroke of genius. Atatürk had realized that, for the Turkish people, national salvation lay in renouncing their imperial role in order to concentrate all their energies on the cultivation of their own long-neglected garden. The weakness of this vigorous and imaginative mind was that, when it had conceived an idea of its own, it closed like a clam, and so debarred itself from the possibility of having second thoughts; for the most fruitful source of second thoughts is an exchange of ideas between one’s own mind and others. This clam-like closure of Atatürk’s mind was, I suppose, the price of his demonic will-power. Atatürk’s will-power had saved his country, but his obstinacy was a high price for the country to pay now that he had become her dictator.

In raising with Atatürk the issue of personal versus impersonal relations, I had been guided by my own experience and not by an appreciation of Atatürk’s character; but, as it happened, I had hit a blind spot in him. Atatürk did in truth have no use for personal relations; and he had no use for them because the quality that was lacking in him was love. Atatürk had both intelligence and will-power in a high degree, but the faculty that makes a human being human had been denied to him. If Atatürk can be said to have loved anything at all, what he loved was an abstraction. He loved Turkey (if love is the right word in this connexion), but he did not really love any Turks; and this was unnatural; for, in the heroic resistance movement in which he had taken the lead, he had had a number of human-hearted comrades – among them, my friends Adnan and Ra’ûf. These comrades of Atatürk’s in a great common experience and common achievement had given him their loyalty, and they would have given him their affection too if there had been any answering feeling in him to give their own feelings access to him. Unhappily, Atatürk’s relations with his comrades had left him cold. When the national crisis was over, Atatürk saw in his former companions merely so many objects that were getting in his light; and he dealt with this nuisance by driving into exile fellow-patriots who were nobler-minded than himself. By the time of Atatürk’s death, only two leading figures of his own stature had escaped this fate. One of the two was Fethî Bey Okyar; the other was Ismet Inönü.

Well, I do not agree with Atatürk. For me, personal relations are the most precious thing in life. So, in thinking of my Turkish friends, my thoughts run back to the Adivars, with whom my friendship was the closest of all. My last sight of my old friend Halidé Hanum Adivar was in Istanbul on 19 November 1962. She was still living in the quarter between the Conqueror’s Mosque and the shore of the Marmara in which she and Adnan had settled after their return home from exile. (In choosing to live in the heart of Istanbul Proper, the Adivars had been ignoring the Turkish intelligentsia’s current fashion, which was to migrate to Pera, the Frankish suburb of Istanbul “beyond” the Golden Horn.) In 1962, Halidé was still where I had found her before, but now she was alone and lonely. Adnan had met the same death as Lawrence Hammond, of whom he had reminded me so strongly. Heart-failure had carried off Adnan Adivar too […]. When I had seen Halidé and Adnan together, I had been conscious of an impetuosity in her that had been tempered, but not entirely overcome, by Adnan’s influence. Now, when Adnan was no longer there, the old impetuosity had given way to tenderness. Adnan’s widow was living in her love for him. I could not wish her to go on living a life that was so sad; and, when the news of her death reached me, I felt that this had been, for her, a happy release. Halidé’s life had ended sadly, but she had not lived in vain. As a writer, as a patriot, as a woman, and, above all, as a human being who had loved and been loved, Halidé had lived to the full.

Cf Toynbee, Turkey and Armenia 1.

In one way, Atatürk’s contempt for the personal benefited Turkey: instead of building a system dependent on himself, he built a state which would outlast him.

Halidé Adivar’s memoirs are in print in English.


Acquaintances, OUP, 1967

Toynbee, Turkey and Armenia 1

May 23 2007

The Turks who read the preceding four posts must read this one too. The last four were from a book Toynbee published in 1917 called Turkey, A Past and a Future. It refers to the Armenian massacres. But his main work on the Armenian question is in The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-16: Documents Presented to Viscount Grey of Fallodon, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, by Viscount Bryce, with a Preface by Viscount Bryce, Hodder & Stoughton and His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1916. Here again is a link to this.

This was a Blue Book, a kind of UK parliamentary paper, presented in this case to the Foreign Office. It was compiled in the context of a war, so of course it had the function of propaganda. It may irritate Turks that the main set of documents produced about the killings at the time was produced in this way, or perhaps it consoles them, but it could not have been otherwise.

This is from Toynbee’s Acquaintances, published in 1967, fifty years after Turkey, A Past and a Future. In it there is chapter on Lord Bryce and another called Some Turkish Friends. He reminds us that the Armenians were seen as a fifth column. From Some Turkish Friends:

[…] It will be seen that I have had many Turkish friends, and some of them close friends. How did I come to enter into these personal relations with Turks? The ultimate origin of these Turkish friendships of mine lies in the work that I did for Lord Bryce in compiling the United Kingdom Blue Book on the treatment of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915. The study of genocide set me moving along a road that led to my making friends with fellow-countrymen of the criminals by whom the genocide had been committed. This may sound like a non sequitur, so I will trace the steps that carried me from the starting-point to the end of this voyage of exploration. It was a mental voyage and, as I see it now in retrospect, a spiritual one too; for, in essence, it was an inquiry into the mystery of human nature.

The collection and collation of the evidence from which the Blue Book was compiled had occupied most of my working time for a number of months; and, after the Blue Book had been published, I could not dismiss its contents from my mind. I was not only haunted by the victims’ sufferings and by the criminals’ deeds; I was exercised by the question how it could be possible for human beings to do what those perpetrators of genocide had done. There were features of the story that were enlightening. It was evident that the criminals had not been the Armenians’ local Turkish neighbours. For the most part, these had looked on passively. (Of course, that was bad enough.) In a few cases there was evidence that the local Turks had done what they could to protect and help their Armenian friends. The deportations had been carried out by orders from the Government at Istanbul, and the orders had been executed by gendarmes and soldiers who had no personal connexion with the localities. These facts suggested that human beings were not inclined to commit atrocities on fellow human beings with whom they were personally acquainted. If one is going to behave atrociously to other human beings, one’s relation with one’s victims has to be impersonal. For instance, in Britain we had had to de-humanize our mental picture of the Germans by labelling them “Huns” in order to make our minds easy about killing “Huns” en masse. In the genocide of the Armenians the criminals had been members of the Committee of Union and Progress – above all, perhaps, Tal’at, the most intelligent of the ruling triumvirs [Tal’at, Jemâl, Enver]. But how had those three men brought themselves to commit their fearful crime? Only eight years before, the Committee of Union and Progress had overthrown Sultan ’Abd-al-Hamîd II’s autocratic rule with the programme of transforming the Turkish Empire into a democratic commonwealth in which all the component religions and nationalities were henceforward to enjoy equal rights. The revolution of 1908 in Turkey had caught my attention at the time, and it had appealed to my imagination. In fact, it was the event that had led me to take an interest in current international affairs. In the course of the eight years 1908-15, the leaders of the C.U.P. had apparently degenerated from being idealists into becoming ogres. How was one to account for this sinister metamorphosis?

A pertinent point here was that the triumvirate’s motives in setting out to exterminate the Ottoman Armenians had been not only impersonal but political. Since the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-8, the Armenian diaspora in the north-eastern territories of the Ottoman Empire had been nursing political ambitions. Like the Greek diaspora farther to the west in Anatolia, the Armenians had been hoping to be able, one day, to carve out a successor-state of the Ottoman Empire for themselves. These Greek and Armenian political aspirations had not been legitimate; for the diasporas were minorities scattered among a Turkish majority. Their aspirations did not merely threaten to break up the Turkish Empire; they could not be fulfilled without doing grave injustice to the Turkish people itself. For Turkey, the Armenian question had come to a head after Turkey’s intervention in the First World War, when the Russians had defeated an abortive Turkish invasion of Russian Transcaucasia and had successfully invaded North-Eastern Turkey. The Turkish authorities now found that the local Armenian diaspora might serve the Russian invaders as what we have since learnt to call a “fifth column”. They therefore decided to deport the Armenians from the war-zone, and this, in itself, might pass for a legitimate security-measure. In similar circumstances, other governments have taken similar action. The United States Government, for instance, deported the Japanese-American diaspora from the Pacific slope to the Mississippi basin after Japan had attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor; and, in that deportation too, misdemeanours were committed. The Japanese-American deportees were cheated and robbed on a large scale. In Turkey, however, in 1915, the Ottoman Armenian deportees were not only robbed; the deportations were deliberately conducted with a brutality that was calculated to take the maximum toll of lives en route. This was the C.U.P.’s crime; and my study of it left an impression on my mind that was not effaced by the still more cold-blooded genocide, on a far larger scale, that was committed during the Second World War by the Nazi.

Any great crime – private or public, personal or impersonal – raises a question that transcends national limits; the question goes to the heart of human nature itself. My study of the genocide that had been committed in Turkey in 1915 brought home to me the reality of Original Sin. Human nature has in it an inherent vein of abominable wickedness; but then it also has in it an inherent vein of lovable goodness too. Every human soul is a battlefield on which these two irreconcilable spiritual forces are perpetually contending for the mastery. The moral inconsistency of human nature is a mystery that each of us must try to probe – and this not just to satisfy an intellectual curiosity, but in order to grapple with Original Sin with intent to subdue it. One must probe human nature in oneself; one must probe it in one’s neighbours; and, among my own neighbours, I, in my case, must begin with my Turkish neighbours. The Turkish criminals – Tal’at, Jemâl, Enver, and their agents – were only a minority of the Turkish people; yet this was the people from which those criminals had sprung. I must not, however, rest content with a study of the Turkish people in the mass. I must not forget the dehumanizing effect of collective labels [my italics]. If I was to get to know human nature in Turkish embodiments of it, I must get to know live Turkish men and women individually, and I must meet each of them as one of my fellow human beings, of like passions with myself. I held on to this resolve till my release from war-work gave me time to begin putting my intention into effect.

My first step was to start to learn the Turkish language. One cannot get very far in making contact with people whose language is a different one from one’s own unless one can communicate with them, however haltingly, in at least a smattering of their mother tongue. So, as soon as I had a don’s margin of leisure once again in the Koraïs Chair at the University of London, I enrolled myself as a student of Turkish at the London School of Oriental and African Studies; and this brought me my first Turkish friend, the School’s lecturer in Turkish, ’Alî Rizâ Bey.

Long afterwards, I heard from the Director of the School, Sir Denison Ross, what ’Alî Rizâ Bey’s first reaction had been when he had found my name on the list of his next batch of students. ’Alî Rizâ had gone straight to the Director and had told him that he was unwilling to accept as a pupil a man who had been a party to producing a book that showed him to be an enemy of ’Alî Rizâ’s country. The Director’s reply had been: “If you do refuse to teach Professor Toynbee Turkish, you will be showing a lack of faith in your country. If you truly believe in your country, as I am sure you do, you will be confident that someone who seems to you to be prejudiced against your country will change his mind on better acquaintance with it. In being asked to teach Professor Toynbee Turkish, you are being offered an opportunity of helping him to change his mind. A language is the door to an understanding of the people who speak it. In seeking to learn Turkish, isn’t Professor Toynbee showing a wish to become better acquainted with the Turks?” ’Alî Rizâ had seen the force of Sir Denison Ross’s argument. He had waived his objection; and, when I turned up, he gave no sign of the hostility that he had felt towards me before meeting me. He must soon have realized that my wish to make closer acquaintance with Turks was sincere. Our work together resulted in a lasting friendship.

Sir Denison Ross’s advice to ’Alî Rizâ had obviously been wise in itself. It had also been based on a first-hand acquaintance with me. Sir Denison’s mother had lived in Upper Westbourne Terrace, only a few doors off from Uncle Harry and my parents; and, when I was a boy, I had seen something of Denison during his tours of home leave from India. (He had been appointed to the headship of a madrasa by the Viceroy, Lord Curzon, who had a high opinion of his abilities.) Denison Ross had sometimes let me help him to sort out his books and papers; and I had learnt a great deal from these, and still more from casual conversations with him. He had the gift of tongues, and he also had a lively intellectual curiosity, especially about anything to do with Asia.

My lessons in Turkish with ’Alî Rizâ were part of my preparations for my second step, which was to visit the Graeco-Turkish war-zone [in 1921] as the Manchester Guardian’s correspondent. I planned, as a matter of course, to see things in the Levant from both sides. This would be my professional duty towards the Guardian, and it would anyway have been my own impulse. I had taken to heart, long since, the precept Audi alteram partem; and I had interpreted the words alteram partem, not as meaning just “the other party’s case”, but as meaning particularly the case that, of the two, was the more in danger of not being given a fair hearing. I had already taken the measure of the propaganda advantage that is gained by a party that captures a monopoly of the telling of the tale. I had realized that we saw the Persians through the Greeks’ eyes, the Spartans and Boeotians through the Athenians’ eyes, the Philistines and Phoenicians through the Israelites’ eyes. If one was to see straight, one must also see things from the mute party’s point of view; one must not let the vocal party have the last word as well as the first. In the present conflict and controversy between Greeks and Turks, the Greeks were the vocal party once again. The Greeks had the ear of the West, and the West was in the ascendant in the world. I was familiar with the Greeks’ case; I felt that it could take care of itself; the Turks’ case was the one that I must take pains to understand. So, after I had looked at the Graeco-Turkish war from the Greek side of the front, I went to Turkey to look at it from the Turkish side in turn.

In Turkey I ran up against the barrier that I should have met with in ’Alî Rizâ if, in his case, Sir Denison Ross had not lowered the barrier for me in advance. I found that the Turks whom I now approached regarded me with hostility and suspicion. I had worked for Lord Bryce on that Blue Book, and, to Turkish minds, “Bryce” was almost as bad a name as “Gladstone” [who had denounced previous massacres of Armenians in 1896]. I was a professor of Modern Greek studies. I had just come from a visit to the Greek army that was trespassing on Turkish soil. Worst of all, I was the representative of that Gladstonian English newspaper the Manchester Guardian. I had a number of unprofitable interviews with the director of the Istanbul Red Crescent, Hâmid Bey. (This attractive but formidable man’s head was as huge and square as Namier’s and Ehrlich’s.) One day, Hâmid Bey suddenly challenged me to board, that very evening, a Red Crescent ship that was going to Yalova, on the Marmara coast of Anatolia, to evacuate Turkish refugees. Yalova was under Greek military occupation, and there had been a massacre of the local Turkish population by local Greeks and Armenians. Hâmid Bey was surprised when I jumped at this opportunity of seeing things from the Turkish side; he was more surprised when, after returning to Istanbul, I showed him the text of the telegram, reporting what I had seen, that I had sent to the Manchester Guardian; he was most surprised of all when he received a copy of the issue of the Guardian in which my dispatch was printed. I can still see the scene in the Red Crescent’s office: big Hâmid Bey with the English newspaper in his hands, and his colleagues crowding round, with radiant faces. Their case was being put in Britain at last.

I had convinced the Turks of my good faith, and I had won a number of Turkish friends in the process. In the act, I had forfeited the good opinion of the Greeks. In their eyes, I was now a traitor; and, no doubt, if some British Islamic scholar – say, Sir Thomas Arnold – had visited the Graeco-Turkish war-zone and had come to the conclusion that the Greeks were in the right, the Turks would have reacted against him as the Greeks reacted against me. To convince the Greeks of my good faith would hardly be possible. It was going to be a hard enough task, when I came home, to persuade my countrymen to give a fair hearing to my presentation of the Turkish case.

I realized this In advance, because I remembered the atmosphere of animosity against Islam and against the Turks in which I had grown up. My parents were not partial to Roman Catholicism; but, after Uncle Harry had declared, at tea-time one day, that Muhammad had not been so bad as the Pope, my parents advised me privately afterwards that the Pope was really not so bad as all that. I remembered also how one day my father had come home from his work full of an interview that he had had with an Armenian refugee. My father was an officer of the Charity Organization Society; his job was to superintend the Society’s district offices in South London; and the Armenian had applied to the C.O.S. for financial assistance. This was in 1897, and this Armenian was one of those who had escaped from the massacre of Armenians that had just been perpetrated by Sultan ’Abd-al-Hâmid II. Afterwards, I had asked my mother about those Turks who had persecuted the Armenian whom Daddy had been helping, and my inquiry had drawn from her a denunciation of the Turks that went farther than Gladstone’s denunciation of them by a whole continent. When Gladstone had called for the expulsion of the Turks from Europe, “bag and baggage” [1876, following repression of Bulgarians], he had been willing to “let them go – to Asia where they belong”. Thus Gladstone, (though I did not know this yet) had abandoned to the Turks the largest of the continents, “Bible lands” and all. But, twenty years later than the date of Gladstone’s celebrated speech, my mother told me that Asia Minor was much too good a country for the Turks to have. At that time, all that I knew about the relations between Dâr-al-Islâm and Christendom was the story of the Crusades. Unlike Monsieur Clemenceau in 1919, I did already know in 1897 that, in the Crusades, the Christians had eventually been defeated. “I suppose the Christians are not powerful enough to turn the Turks out of Asia Minor,” I said. “Yes, they are,” said my mother, “they could turn them out any day if they wanted to. What keeps the Turks where they ought not to be is the Christian countries’ selfish rivalry with each other.” This incidental censure of my mother’s was my first introduction to the cynical and senseless international power-game that was to be the death of half my school and college friends and of millions more of my contemporaries. When, in Paris in 1919 and again in 1946, I was seeing, at close quarters, how the game was played, I found that my mother’s severe words had been an inadequate description of the reality.

When, in 1921, I had returned to London from my tour in the Levant, I asked Headlam-Morley whether he could arrange for me to be invited to be the speaker at one of the autumn meetings at Chatham House, in order that I might have an opportunity of describing my experiences to the members of the Institute [then British Institute of International Affairs] and of putting before them the case for the Turks. The meeting was held on 22 November 1921; Sir Arthur Evans took the chair for me; and he asked me to have dinner with him first. This was hospitable, but I was unhappy when, over the soup, he told me what he was going to say when he was introducing me to my audience. He was going to say that we and the Modern Greeks were co-heirs of the Ancient Greek civilization, and that we Western heirs of Ancient Greece ought to support people who shared this heritage with us against people who did not. I put it to him that the right criterion for passing judgement on a dispute was not one’s respective degrees of affinity with the disputants but was the rights and wrongs of the case; but Sir Arthur had made up his mind. When he opened the meeting he said just what he had told me that he was going to say, and his thesis drew loud applause. The chairman at a meeting on a controversial subject is expected to refrain from throwing his weight into either scale; but my chairman at this meeting had given Sisyphus’s stone a kick-off that had sent it rolling down from the top of the mountain right to the bottom, and I had to start rolling my stone up again on a steep adverse gradient of hostile prejudice. This was indeed uphill work.

Sir Arthur’s thesis was vulnerable both intellectually and morally. An Islamic scholar would have reminded Sir Arthur that the Muslims, too, were heirs of the Ancient Greek civilization. Where in the world in 1921 would one have found Aristotle’s authority still unchallenged and Hippocratic medicine still being practised? Not in Modern Greece and not in the West, but in Dâr-al-Islâm. And why had Sir Arthur failed to remind my audience that the Modern Greeks and we were co-heirs of a Jewish heritage besides our Ancient Greek one, and that the Muslims were co-heirs with us of this Jewish heritage too? Western Christians, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and Muslims are all worshippers of a god whom the Jews, not the Ancient Greeks, made known to them. Christians and Muslims agree with Jews in regarding the Ancient Greeks as “pagans”, however much they may admire these “pagans’”, intellectual and artistic achievements. In Modern Greek, the word for “pagan” is “Hellene” – i.e. the name by which the Ancient Greeks had called themselves. These facts are damning for Sir Arthur’s thesis intellectually; but the intellectual untenability of the thesis is a secondary consideration; its primary fault is a moral one. The contention that one should support the party with whom one considers oneself to have the greatest cultural affinity can be seen, when analysed, to be a refined version of Stephen Decatur’s doctrine “our country, right or wrong”, and, when this is translated into more emotional terms, it becomes Hitler’s doctrine of “blood and soil”. In any form, refined or crude, the sacrifice of the claims of justice to ties of kinship is immoral. Hitler’s way of putting his and Sir Arthur’s common doctrine shows the doctrine up.

However, at the Chatham House meeting in the autumn of 1921, my talk was seriously prejudiced by Sir Arthur’s prelude to it. In putting the Turkish case in Britain, I had two formidable difficulties to contend with. The first was the traditional Christian prejudice against Muslims and Turks; the second was that, for all but a very small minority of my countrymen, the Turks were anonymous ogres. Like “the Huns” and “the Boers”, the “unspeakable” Turks had a pejorative collective label but no human personal names or countenances. Few people in Britain had any Ra’ûfs or Adnans or Halidés among their friends. In my experience the solvent of traditional prejudice has been personal acquaintance. When one becomes personally acquainted with a fellow human being, of whatever religion, nationality, or race, one cannot fail to recognize that he is human like oneself; but it would take time to weave a network of Turco-British personal friendships that would knit the two peoples together.

Acquaintances, OUP, 1967