Armenian Genocide – Turkification!

The French College in Aintoura, Lebanon or Jemal Paha’s orphanage where Armenian children were to be turkified!

ARTICLE BY: Nora Parseghian

The Armenian nation lived the most horrible phase of its history in 1915. The Ottoman authorities executed the Genocide which resulted in the killing of over 1 million Armenians, while most of the Armenians remaining on the western parts of historic Armenia were compelled to leave there cities and villages and deported, marched towards the deserts of Iraq and Syria.

Parts of the deported Armenians reached Lebanon where they believed that they were left in peace without realizing that in one of the not-so-far villages of Lebanon, namely Aintoura, near Zouk, Keserwan, which is about half an hour drive from the capital city Beirut, a plan of Turkification of Armenian orphans had been put in motion in 1915.

Such a new page in the history of the Armenian Genocide was recently discovered by Missak Keleshian, who is an avid collector of all kinds of photos of the Armenian Genocide. This is how he speaks about this most recent discovery:

 “A few months ago I was reading a book entitled “The Lions of Marash” by Stanley E. Kerr, (President of the American Univerity of Beirut) who tells about his personal experiences with Near East Relief during the years 1919-1922.

In the book I came across a shocking photo with the following caption:

“Jemal Pasha…on the steps of the French College at Aintoura, Lebanon. Jemal Pasha had established an orphanage for Armenian children in the college building and had appointed Halide Edib to be its directress”.

Halide Edib Hanum was a famous Turkish feminist and very well known for her efforts to turkify Armenian orphans. Beside being shocking, the photo was the first step that lead to a new discovery.

“On December 8, 2005 I visited the village of Aintoura and located the school where the photo was taken. It’s a famous French College and it was established by the Jesuit priests 1657-1783 and Lazarist priests 1783-1834.

I met with the school principal Superior Lazarist Father Jean Sfeir and after showing him the photo, I asked for his permission to research the school’s archives for additional information about it and reveal its entire history. He was also amazed by the photo and asked the archivist of the school to assist me.”

“The archivist of the school Mr. Jean Sebastian Arhan, a Frenchman who came to Lebanon 43 years ago and has been since working in the archive of the French College in Aintoura. I showed him the photo and explained to him what I was looking for. To my amazement he was not only well aware of that part of the school’s history that I was interested in but he had also gathered all the archival material pertaining to that period in a separate file which he gave to me.”

According to Missak Keleshian, the most important revelation of the photo is the presence of Jemal Pasha and Halide Hanum beside Armenian orphans. Halide Hanum (Halide Edib Adivar 1884-1964) was one of the world renowned feminists of her times. She had received higher education American College for Women in1901. Best known for her novels criticizing the low social status of Turkish women; her first novel Seviye Talip, was published in 1909, Her first husband, Salih Zeki, then she remarried Dr. Adnan Adivar in 1917.

She served as a sergeant in Turkey’s nationalist military. Lived in UK, France, and as one of the early feminists met with Gandhi and visited the United States of America for meeting with the leaders of the feminist movement there. She fell in love with Kemal Atatourk but the latter rejected her.

Halide Hanum was a strong supporter of the pashas who planned, organized and executed the Armenian Genocide and played a crucial role in the efforts to turkify the remnants of the Armenians and was one of the leaders of that effort with Nigar Hanum.

Halide Adivar was Member of Parliament 1950-1954.

On October 29, 1914 the Ottoman Empire declared war against France, Great Britain and Russia. Therefore the agreement signed between the great powers and the Ottomans giving Mount Lebanon special status on June 9, 1861 was voided.

The last christian governor of Lebanon, Ohannes Kouyoumdjian Pasha, is replaced by Ali Mounif Bey, during whose reign Lebanon lived horrible condition including hunger, very harsh economic conditions and a surge in the number of executions.

At the end of 1915, the kaymakam (district governor) of Jounieh informs the responsible of the Aintoura College that they must close it down. The clergy are compelled to leave to another monastery on a higher altitude, others are taken to Anatolia and Ourfa while a few older priests, who are unable to travel, remain in Aintoura.

Following the expulsion of the Lazarist priests the school is transformed into an orphanage for Armenian, Turkish and Kurdish children. In 1915 the school housed 800 orphans and 30 soldiers who guarded the school. The staff consisted of 10 Lebanese and the director was Nebih Bey. This is when efforts to turkify the Armenian orphans start to be implemented.

The boys are circumcised and they are given Arabic and Turkish names by keeping the first letters of their Armenian names.

This is how Haroutiun Najarian becomes Hamid Nazim, Boghos Merdanian becomes Bekim Mohammed, Sarkis Sarafian becomes Safwad Suleyman.

Poor sanitary conditions, lack of nourishment and diseases prevail in the school and as a result a big number of children die. Turkish responsibles visiting the school blame Nebih Bey and accuse him of incompetence.

In 1916, the commander of the Fourth Turkish Army Jemal Pasha decides to visit the orphanage. Upon being informed that the official who had appointed him to his position and charged him with the responsibility of turkifying the orphans is planning a visit, Nebih Bey orders the statues of St. Joseph and the statue of father Saliege removed from the school’s entrance. Jemal Pasha arrives at the school accompanied by feminist Halide Hanum, who is immediately appointed to replace Nebih Bey as the principal of the orphanage.

 Halide Hanum is assisted by five Lebanese nuns from the Sacred Heart Order, who are responsible of the sanitation and nutrition of the orphans and other chores. Beside the Aintoura orphanage, Halide Hanum is also responsible of the Sister Nazareth school in Beirut, which is closed down in 1917.

400 new orphans between the ages 3-15 are brought to Aintoura with Jemal Pasha. They are accompanied by 15 young women from Turkish elite families, who join the team of 40 people working towards the islamization and turkification of the orphans.

Halide Hanum, the principal of the school, was the highest authority and was supervising all the activities aiming at the full turkification of the orphans in the shortest possible interval. Her goal was to transform the Aintoura College into an idea Turkish institution.

While famine was prevailing in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon and the Turkish plan to exterminate the Armenians by the sword and the Arabs by famine was being carried on, cows, sheep and flour were abundant in the Aintoura orphanage.

The goal was to have well fed and healthy newly turkified children. Lebanese outside the compound walls used to gather and beg for food.

Teaching at the orphanage was in Turkish. Older orphans were trained in trades – shoemaking, carpentry and others and the mullah assigned to the schools called the children to prayer five times a day.

Every night the band used to play “Long live Jemal Pasha”.

In the summer of 1916 leprosy starts spreading within the orphanage while the Ottoman Armies start loosing on the fronts in the Balkans and in Palestine.

Lutfy Bey, Rashid Bey and Halide Hanum abandon the school and the orphanage starts falling into chaos. Students start leaving the school compound and disorderly conduct leads to fights between the Turkish and Kurdish students on one side and the Armenian orphans – who were blaming the parents of the Turkish and Kurdish students of having killed their parents – on the other.

It is only through the interference of the Turkish soldiers stationed at the school that killings are avoided.

From the 1200 orphans kept at the Aintoura orphanage one thousand are Armenians and the remaining 200 are Turkish and Kurdish.

The Armenian orphans used to keep forks and other sharp objects to defend themselves. When the Ottomans retreat and the French and British arrive in the region, accompanied by members of the clergy, they find a chaotic situation in the school. One of the Lazarist leaders approaches Bayard Dodge, an officer of the American University of Beirut for assistance, who immediately complies with the request and arrange for shipments of food through the American Red Cross.

On October 1, 1918 the Turkish Army abandons Lebanon. On October 7 Father Sarlout returns to Aintoura and realizes that the situation is untenable. He arranges for the Turkish and Kurdish orphans to be transported to Damascus to ease the tension within the orphanage.

He then gathers the Armenian orphans and starts working with them to remember their Armenian names and tries to explain to them that the turkification process they were going through is no longer in force.

Once convinced, the Armenian orphans start calling each other by their original names then they gather all the forks and sharp items they were hiding and “surrender” them to the school officials.

The statue of St. Joseph is returned to its podium and the French flag flies over the school. But father Sarlout realizes that his resources are limited and he cannot support that many orphans. He calls upon Bayard Dodge and the American Red Cross to support the school and the orphans.

Mr. Crawford is then appointed principal of the Aintoura school, the staff of the school is replaced by Armenian teachers and the orphans are offered lessons in Armenian and English. Later “Near East Relief” takes over the school and keeps it until the fall of 1919, when the male orphans are sent to Aleppo and the females to the Armenian orphanage in the village of Ghazir, Lebanon.

While the school was under Turkish control, as a result of malnourishment, lack of sanitary conditions and diseases (mainly typhus), 300 Armenian orphans die. They are buried during 1916 in the backyard of the school.

In 1993 the school directors decide to build an extension in that same backyard. When they start digging the ground they come across human remains which they gather and rebury in a few joint graves in the cemetery belonging to the Aintoura priests.

When the Turks leave and Father Sarlout returns to the school, he finds there 670 orphans – 470 boys and 200 girls.

“Wondering in the different parts of the school, one corner looked very familiar to me. At a first glance I couldn’t remember where or how I had seen that spot but I was sure that this was not new to me. When I returned home I started working in my collection of photographs and after three hours I found what I was looking for:

it was the photo of a young orphan, which was actually taken in the same corner of the Aintoura school that looked familiar to me. The original of the photo was in the archives of the Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon, in the documents and photos belonging to Maria Jacobson.

The writing on the side of the photo notes: “Armenian orphan, clean-cut and bright”. The seal of “Near East Relief” is still visible at the bottom-left of the photo. At the time, the photo in question did not seem that important but toady, following the newly discovered facts about the Aintoura college, it was another piece of the puzzle I was faced with”,- says Keleshian.

By putting the photos side by side and researching the archives of the Aintoura College, Missak Keleshian succeeded in reconstructing one of the most horrifying phases in the life of the orphans of the Armenian Genocide – Turkification, which was nothing else but another portion of the general plan of annihilating the Armenian nation.


17 Responses to “Armenian Genocide – Turkification!”

  1. 1 Fuzi May November 18, 2006 at 6:45 pm

    urkey was attacked by France, England, Russia. This writing is distortion of the facts. It was the horrible war time which was started by above named countries. Turks suffered not less than Armenians which is not mentioned at all, why. One side of the story do not reflect the whole story.

  2. 2 Danny November 18, 2006 at 6:48 pm

    Halide Edib was a great humanitarian and it is awfully unconscientious of the above article’s author to make her appear as evil incarnate:

    “Halide Hanum was a strong supporter of the pashas who planned, organized and executed the Armenian Genocide.” What the pashas planned was the resettlement for the Armenian community, mainly from the east and from some other — but not all — parts of the nation, because the Armenians had betrayed their nation by joining the enemies of their nation during wartime, as their own leaders are on record for admitting. Resettlement or relocation is a process all nations have a right to conduct under the duresses of war, and it is by no means the equivalent to “genocide.”

    Note the absurdity: if there were a “genocide,” as we are often told for reasons of racial intolerance a la the Nazis and the Jews, would a state have even bothered with orphanages? And for those who say the idea was to “Turkify” the Armenian children, obviously the Ottoman Turks were hardly expert in the methods of mind control. Father Sarlout came in, and instantly the “Turkified” Armenians became Armenian again.

    Another side of this story that is never told is when the Armenians had the upper hand after the war, with the victorious Allies in charge of the shell of the Ottoman Empire, a campaign was underway to “Armenianize” Turkish orphans. Is it possible this religious partisan, who had no way of knowing how to distinguish the Armenians from the Turks/Kurds [we’re being asked to believe most of the Armenian children were brainwashed by theis point… since they were “Turkified”], attempted to talk the Turkish orphans into accepting an Armenian status?

    Highly irresponsible claims are made in the above, such as “lack of nourishment and diseases prevail in the school and as a result a big number of children die.” (But after the man who we are asked to believe was responsible, Nebih Bey, is sacked, the orphanage is hit with leprosy.) The fact of the matter is, as Armenian champion Ambassador Morgenthau has written, thousands of Turks were dying daily from famine and disease; these factors of death did not discriminate. But the article tells us:

    “While famine was prevailing in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon and the Turkish plan to exterminate the Armenians by the sword and the Arabs by famine…” Obviously, the first part can’t be correct, because as mentioned, if the idea was to “exterminate” the Armenians, no Armenian could have survived, least of all get taken care of, as in these Armenian orphanages. But the second part is truly unconscionable; the contention that there was a plan underway to deliberately cause another “genocide” on the Arabs for reasons of famine. (When everyone in the Ottoman Empire was affected by famine, even the soldiers.) Does the writer of this article have any morals?

    Another conflict is with the idea that the Armenians were meant to be Turkified and Islamisized. While some locals took it upon themselves to implement such wrong measures, to make it seem as though this were a systematic policy is highly unethical; if that were the case, what we have come to know as “Armenian orphanages” would have left out the “Armenian” part. Note as well from the above article that Halide Edib had on her staff Christian nuns. Wouldn’t that have been absurd if the idea was to make the children forget their racial and religious background?

    Armenian champion Johannes Lepsius himself will testify to how whole-heartedly Jemal Pasha protected Armenians. This article is typical of Armenian propagandists, presenting only one side of the story, and causing so much harm and hatred as a result. Thanks to the Internet, information has fortunately become more readily accessible, and unprejudiced people may determine where the real propaganda lies. The above material is partly rebutted at, for those with open minds.

  3. 4 Daruman November 19, 2006 at 8:12 am

    Most people who deny the genocide by the Ottomans always come down to saying something along the line of, “We never hear the other side of the story. The Turks suffered too! The Armenians also committed crimes!”
    Well, that doesn’t mean what the Turks did was right, does it? It’s like saying the Nazis aren’t as bad because many of them died in the war too. My point is simply: Two wrongs DOES NOT make a right!

  4. 5 zum November 19, 2006 at 11:08 am

    @Danny & all,
    i know of this “Armeniantale Site”

    at the same time i did some more research on the armenian genocide, i came across
    to be quite honest, this site is spreading turkish propaganda as much as some other websites. and i was not impressed with it.

    the fact is : there was an armenian genocide! the fact is: armenians want the genocide to be regonized, 1.5 million have died, the photos, the massgraves – are not a lie. why do you think Hitler said :
    “Anyone remember the Armenians?”

    however i understand, that the turks wont admit the genocide and claim, fatalities happend on both sides. which is true – in every war, there was and is.

    i am just a mediator here, and write about subjects that are my passion – and the armenian genocide is one of them.

  5. 7 Mezzodon November 21, 2006 at 12:28 am

    Zum and Daruman both cut straight to the point, and there really isn’t much pondering necesary. Were there Turkish casualties? Obviously. But this article is about the Armenian Genocide; jumping to point out the “other side” only serves to distract from the information contained in the article. There is nothing wrong with writing articles detailing Turkish casualties during WWI but this isn’t the place for it, and I have the feeling that, like Daruman pointed out, this is done mainly to dodge discussing the fact that the acts of the Ottoman state toward the Armenian population at the time does constitute genocide.

  6. 8 zum November 21, 2006 at 12:58 am


    thank you very much for your comment.

    on another entry of mine here,unfortunetly people stoop to a whole different level…

  7. 9 Oguz tolga December 2, 2006 at 10:25 am

    Zum and Mezzodon don’t know anything about the Ottoman Empire.Every correspondence always had several copies and they kept every copy in different places agaist the fire.According to those official papers it was a “war” and some 600.000Turks have been killed during the Armenian revolt in eastern anatolia between the years of 1914-1918.Everybody is agree on this point but the Armenian liers.there are no other sources except the ottoman archieves.Even brits made an apology for their “blue book”which is still using as a source by the Armenian storytellers.real genocide is accusing a nation without having no proof against her.

  8. 11 Cay May 5, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Ofcourse both sides suffered casualties, but it still doesn’t mean genocide… a word used soo loosely.

    All your proof of intent has been proved to be forgeries. Why would Ottomans decide to take up a new enemy when they are already facing a ton of them on all borders? It doesn’t make sense. Not planned, this was a response to Armenians fighting with the enemy.

    A perfect statement is made here by one of the Armenian leaders about the Sassoun massacre, and how they wanted to cause uprising, kill turks and kurds, and get the christian europeans to intervene…found as an interview in NYT, August 23, 1895.

  9. 13 ::: AGHET ::: June 14, 2010 at 12:32 pm


    ———-> <———-

    There shouldn’t be anything discussed anymore… it’s absurd!

    By the way… Talat Pasha, Djemal Pasha and Enver Pasha have been sentenced to deat by their OWN government in 1919 because of the Genocide.

    The official transcript of the verdict of the court martial conducted by the Ottoman Turkish government in 1919 against the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide. It was first published in theOfficial Gazette (Takvim-i-Vekayi),No. 3604.

    "Prime Minister Talaat Pasha and Minister of War Enver Effendi, now expelled from his military career; Djemal Effendi, Minister of the Navy, likewise expelled from the service; Dr. Nazim, Minister of Education-these were the principal criminals (fayili asli) and their guilt has been determined by a unanimous vote.

    In accordance therefore with the abovementioned paragraphs in the law code, Talaat, Enver, Djemal and Dr. Nazim ARE SENTENCED TO DEATH"

    July 5, 1919 (1335); Military Court: NAZIM; Head of the Secretariat empowered to Record the Minutes of this Military Tribunal: Abidin Daver; Official organ: No. 3604.
Published in theOfficial Gazette of Turkey(Takvimi Vekayi),no. 3604 (supplement), July 22"

    • 14 colleen August 22, 2010 at 8:24 pm

      Aghet Documentary was shown on Captiol Hill in the USA. It is particularly significant because it was made by an unbiased third party German producer and his crew.
      We must always remember there were brave Ottoman Turks that helped to save Armenians and did adopt the orphans.
      Today brave Turkish Scholars and journalists have risked their life and the wrath of article 301 thrown at them for recognizing the Armenian Genocide as a historical fact with documentation in world wide archives: Orhan Pamuk (nobal prize winner) Taner Akcam, and Turkish Attorney Fetihye Cetin<—who has written about her discovery that her grandmother was an Armenian Orphan.
      Today 22 countries have recognized the Armenian Genocide and 46 states in the USA have formally recognized it with a proclamation.

  10. 15 nicholas July 12, 2010 at 7:01 am

    armenian killed thousands of children, women and old while men were at war after end of war. solders came back their village where is close to armenia they saw thousands dead body. after that solders kill only persons who killed their wife, children… etc. if this is a genocide. what is that they done? now people who live in armenia they are hungry and destitute.but the armenian who live abroad their situation is better than others and they dont care that their country. if they carry on doing samething turkish goverment wont help to armenia. turkish goverment took the first.

  11. 16 colleen August 22, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Fuzi May;
    Turkey was NOT ATTACKED they invaded on other people’s territory. 60% of Europe and 80% of the Middle East still remember the ugly bloody sword of the Ottoman and have Turkish Bath houses to this day in Hungary.
    Why do you think Europe doesn’t want you in the EU? Even your Arab Moslem brothers don’t trust you. Russia is skeptical of your country and it’s dreams of expansionism and returning to the Ottoman Caliphate days. Hell, even your largest trading partner Israel will never trust you again.

  12. 17 woodworking plans February 21, 2015 at 5:44 am

    whoah this blog is excellent i really like reading your articles.
    Stay up the good work! You already know, a lot of persons are searching around for this info, you could help them greatly.

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