Hilmar Kaiser’s important essay deconstructs some of the central statements of Ottoman historiography. These include the views that the economic success of the Armenian bourgeoisie in the Ottoman Empire stemmed from their unscrupulous character and European privileges, that it prevented the economic development of the empire, and that it provoked the Turks into getting rid of the Armenian people.
Kaiser traces these ideas back to their origins to unveil their ideological content and the interest they conceal. He finds these origins in the racist and nationalist propaganda which developed in German imperialist circles as early as the 1890s and emphasizes the central role played in modern historiography by the writings of one such propagandist, Alphons Sussnitzki.
The author shows that Turkish and Western scholars from diverse ideological horizons adopted these ideas to various degrees and adapted them to their theories.