31.8.07

Juden im Osmanischen Reich

Im islamkritischen Diskurs wird oftmals der polemische Vergleich zwischen Muslimen und Nazis bemüht. Zentrales Merkmal nationalsozialistischer Herrschaft war und bleibt der Holocaust an den Juden, daher seien nun nachfolgend die Ausführungen des (wohl) jüdischen Historikers Stanford J. Shaw wiedergegeben, welche den Umgang mit Juden im Osmanischen Reich resümieren, ob da wohl vergleichbares vorhanden ist? Ganz offensichtlich nicht, lesen sich die Ausführungen eher gleichsam einer Elegie, woran es dem (angenommen) jüdischen Historiker, sowohl nach Herkunft und Profession, nicht gelegen sein dürfte.
Stanford J. Shaw, Turkey and the Holocaust. Turkey’s Role in Rescuing Turkish and European Jewry from Nazi Persecution 1933-45, The Macmillan Press 1993, pp. 1-3

Neither the people of the Republic of Turkey nor those of Europe and America fully realize the extent to which Turkey, and the Ottoman Empire which preceded it, over the centuries served as major places of refuge for people suffering from persecution, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, from the fourteenth century to the present. In many ways the Turks historically fulfilled the role subsequently taken up by the United States of America beginning in the late nineteenth century.
The Turks‘ first encounter with persecuted minorities came as the Ottoman Empire was being created. Starting in the early years of the fourteenth century, Osman and his successors rose up to capture the lands of the decrepit and degenerate Byzantine empire in Anatolia and southeastern Europe. During these conquests, the Jewish minorities who had survived centuries of Byzantine persecution actively assisted the invaders and contributed to Ottoman victory and conquest in the certain expectation that they would be given the same toleration and freedom under Muslim Ottoman rule that their ancestors previously had received under the rule of the Abbasids of Baghdad and the Umayyads of Spain.
In later centuries the Ottomans received thousands of Jewish refugees from Christian blood libel attacks throughout western Europe and from persecution at the hands of the Inquisition in the Iberian Peninsula and Italy.
The Ottoman role as primary place of refuge for the persecuted continued afterwards. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the sultans gave refuge to thousands of Marranos and Moriscos, Jews and Muslims respectively who had converted to Christianity in Spain under the force of the Inquisition, but who had continued to be subject to persecution because of suspicions that they had not in fact abandoned their former religions. In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the Ottomans provided refuge for thousands of Muslims and Jews who survived the Habsburg invasion of Serbia and Bulgaria following the failure of the second Ottoman Siege of Vienna in 1683 and the Cossack massacres of Jews in the Ukraine under the leadership of Boghdan Chmielnicki. In the eighteenth century the Ottomans gave refuge to thousands of Muslims fleeing from repeated Russian invasions of the Rumanian principalities and from the destructive and bloody Russian invasion and conquest of the Crimea and the lands of Central Asia north of the Black Sea.
During the nineteenth century the Ottomans received over one and a half million Muslim and Jewish refugees fleeing from massacre and persecution in the Christian provinces of southeastern Europe as they revolted and won their independence from Ottoman rule,10 a situation which seems destined to be repeated, insofar as Jews are concerned, in the last decade of the twentieth century as the nations of the Soviet Union and its satellites in Eastern Europe recover their independence after seventy years
of Communist rule, in the process allowing the revival of anti-Semitism which seemingly had been forgotten during the interval.
The persecution and massacres began with the Greek Revolution early in the nineteenth century when Greek insurrectionists against the Sultan hunted out and slaughtered every Jew and Muslim they could find, starting in the islands of the Aegean sea and continuing into the Morea and the Greek mainland. The slaughter of all those who did not fit into national ambitions continued later in the century in Rumania, Serbia and Bulgaria, constituting a true genocide which the world still does not recognize because it was carried out by Christians in the name of liberation from Muslim rule.
As Russia extended its ‘Eastward Movement‘ across Central Asia to the Pacific during the middle and late nineteenth century, enveloping the Muslim Tatar Khanates which had remained there since the days of Genghis Khan, thousands more Muslim Tatars and Turkomans as well as Jews who had lived in the area since they had fled Byzantine persecution came to refuge in the Ottoman dominions.
As France took over North Africa and Britain moved into Egypt and Cyprus during the late nineteenth century, and as Austria occupied Bosnia in 1878 and annexed it in 1909, more refugees fled into the ever-shrinking dominions of the Sultan. Nor were all of these Muslims and Jews. The Ottomans took in hundreds of Christian refugees from the conservative suppression in western and central Europe which followed the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and after the suppression of the liberal revolutions that took place in 1848. The Ottoman Empire became a major source of refuge for Jews subjected to terrible pogroms in Russia starting in 1881.
The Greek occupation of Ottoman western Thrace and Salonica in 1912 during the First Balkan War led to new persecutions of the Muslims and Jews living there. Many of the survivors fled into Ottoman territory, particularly after the Muslim and Jewish quarters of Salonica were burned in the great fire of 1917, after which the Greek government refused to allow anyone but Greek Christians coming from Anatolia to resettle in their homes, while the ancient Jewish cemetery of Salonica was desecrated as it
was covered over by the construction of the new Greek University of Salonica.11
The brutal Russian invasion of eastern Anätolia in the early years of World War 1 caused those who survived to flee westward into the territories still controlled by the Ottomans. The Bolshevik Revolution and the Russian Civil War that followed led to new migrations of thousands of Jews and Muslims as well as Russians who fled across the Black Sea foilowing attacks on them by both Reds and Whites.
During the Turkish War for Independence, which went on at the same time, from 1918 to 1923, Istanbul and the Marmara islands were crowded with thousands of refugees in flight from southern Russia, with the Allied armies then in occupation of the old Ottoman capital doing little to alleviate the suffering while preventing the weak government of the sultan from providing help on its own initiative.
Through all these centuries, however, Turkey faced no greater challenge, nor responded more nobly, than it did in response to Nazi persecution of the Jews of Europe starting in 1933 and continuing until the end of World War II.
 

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