Who Remembers the Persians?


‘The Great Famine and Genocide in Persia, 1917-1919’ by Dr Mohammad Gholi Majd begins with one of the most startling statements I have read:

“The great famine of 1917-1919 was unquestionably the greatest calamity in the history of Persia, far surpassing anything that has happened before. It is shown in this study that as much as 40% of the population of Persia was wiped out because of starvation and the associated diseases that accompany malnutrition. Unquestionably, Persia was the greatest victim of World War I. No other country had suffered casualties of this magnitude in both absolute and relative terms. Yet the great famine in Persia, one of the greatest famines of modern times, and definitely one of the largest genocides of the 20th century has remained unknown and unexplored… Unquestionably, the most remarkable fact about the Persian Holocaust is that it has remained concealed all these years, a fact about which volumes can be written.” (p.1)

Over the last decade or two I have taken a keen interest in the Great War. In writing about it I have read hundreds of Irish and British publications from the time and after and yet I have never come across a clue about the events in Persia to which Dr. Mohammad Gholi Majd refers. In fact, the effects of the Great War on Persia seem to be shrouded in the greatest of secrecy.

The author, despite having written a number of books on the topic of the Great War in relation to Persia, did not realise himself the proportion of the events he was dealing with and came about them by chance. In doing research on another matter in the US State Department archives he came across a letter in which Wallace S. Murray, the American chargé d’affaires in Persia wrote: “Persia would appear at least threatened with the situation which arose in 1917-18 when, due to the drought and the destruction of her crops by invading armies, she suffered a famine that carried off, so it is estimated, a third of her population.” And from there he followed the lead that was to lead to a startling discovery.

The author was initially left incredulous by his discovery and was convinced that this must be an error. And so he therefore set out to discover the truth. He made a careful search of the State Department records pertaining to Persia during the Great War. He noted that the history of Persia in the Great War was shrouded in mystery and the famine of 1917 to 1919 was practically unknown. And he discovered that the facts were even worse than he imagined: “I discovered that Murray’s statement that Persia had lost one third of its population was an understatement. The reality was even worse.” (p.13)

What the author discovered was as follows:

“I could not believe my eyes. I had seen references to this famine in earlier reports, and was aware that this was a serious famine. But casualties of this magnitude are another matter. The matter led me to make a careful search of the records of the Department of State for Persia during 1914-1919. It turned out to be a veritable revelation. The records are immensely rich and previously unused. One by-product was a monograph on the history of Persia in World War I and its conquest by Great Britain. The other is this brief monograph on the famine-cum-genocide in Persia. Sadly, I discovered that Murray’s statement that one third of the population of Persia had been ‘carried off’ was an understatement. The reality was far worse. The statistics are simply mind-boggling. As reported in the American diplomatic dispatches, the population of Persia in 1914 was 20 million, a figure that is easily substantiated in this study. By natural progression it should have been at least 21 million in 1919. The actual population in 1919 was 11 million, showing that at least 10 million persons had been lost to famine and disease – a famine of cataclysmic proportions.” (p.3)

Dr Mohammad Gholi Majd continues in summarising the impact of these events:

“In sum, not until 1956 had Persia’s population recovered to its 1914 level. These results are absolutely revolutionary and cast a completely different light on the history of Persia in the region. Given that the famine was initially caused by war and occupation of Persia by Russia and Great Britain, and then greatly worsened and lengthened by the policies of Great Britain, Persian losses to famine were casualties of the Great War. Persian losses easily far exceeded the Armenian casualties in Turkey and they even greatly exceeded the genocide of the Jews by the Nazis. These findings provide an entirely different perspective on the modern history of Persia and World War I.” (p.4)

It was Lord Curzon, the highest representative of British sovereignty in Asia, Viceroy of the Indian Empire, who told the Persians of their place in the (British) world on a visit from India in 1904:

“We were here before any other Power in modern times had shown its face in these waters; we found strife, and we have created order; it was our commerce as well as your security that was threatened and called for protection at every port along the coasts; the subjects of the King of England still reside and trade with you; the great Empire of India, which it is our duty to defend, lies almost at your gates; we saved you from extinction at the hands of your neighbours; we opened these seas to the ships of all nations, and enabled their flags to fly in peace; we have not seized or held enemy territory; we have not destroyed your independence, but preserved it.”

In short, England told the Persians that they were British property to be done with as Britannia saw fit – and all to their benefit, of course.

But just a couple of years later Britain saw fit to deal with the expanding Russian Empire in Asia by dividing up Persia with the Czar in order to conclude the Great Game in favour of a greater one.

Curzon had stated in his book, Persia and the Persian Question, the importance of the southern portion of the country, which Britain could let no other possess under any circumstances. And he described Persia as part of the glacis of India – a glacis being a killing ground outside a fortress:

“India is like a fortress, with the vast moat of the sea on two of her faces, and with mountains for her walls on the remainder; but beyond those walls, which are sometimes of by no means insuperable height, and admit of being easily penetrated, extends a glacis of varying breadth and dimension. We do not want to occupy it, but we also cannot afford to see it occupied by our foes. We are quite content to let it remain in the hands of our allies and friends; but if rival and unfriendly influences creep up to it and lodge themselves right under our walls, we are compelled to intervene, because a danger would thereby grow up that might one day menace our security. This is the secret of the whole position in Arabia, Persia, Afghanistan, Tibet, and as far eastwards as Siam. He would be a short-sighted commander who merely manned his ramparts in India and did not look out beyond ; and the whole of our policy during the past five years has been directed towards maintaining our influence, and to preventing the expansion of hostile agencies on this area which I have described.”

And a dying ground it was to become for the Persians a couple of decades later.

Persia due to her geographical location lay at the confluence of British and Russian influences. The ideal of the British Indian government was for the South and East of the country to be under its hegemony to guard the Persian Gulf against intruders.

In the 1907 agreement between Russia and Britain, which paved the way for war on Germany and the Ottoman Empire, the Russians and British partitioned Persia into zones of influence. The British agreements with the Russians to settle differences over Persia were designed so that war could be made on Germany. Persia, it was decided, was to be divided in two by the two Powers with a buffer zone in between (which England later grabbed). The southern meridional zone, connected to the Persian Gulf, assured British communications with Mesopotamia, which was ear-marked for absorption in time into the British Empire. The septentrionate came under Russian influence. The veteran Liberal John Morley, who was also working in the Committee of Imperial Defence, preparing War on Germany, helped organise the division of spoils. He wrote to the Viceroy of India on 19 February 1907:

“I have begun in the Defence Committee the operations of which I spoke to you upon the Persian Gulf and the numerous complexities arising from the prospect of the Baghdad Railway, and other matters. The whole proceeding will be very interesting for when we have done with the waters of the Gulf, I am to take the Committee on to the dry land of Persia.”

The Persian government did not agree to the Anglo-Russian agreement dividing up their country but they could do little about it with the two Empires united in interest at last.

In July 1906 the Iranian people had secured a Constitution for the first time after passive resistance and a bloodless revolution. They gained the right to have a national assembly, which would have a say in the selection of ministers and in framing law. Elections were held to this assembly but then the Shah who had granted it died. He was replaced by Shah Muhammed Ali who was determined to turn the clocks back, even if it meant foreign intervention to do so.

The Anglo-Russian Convention came in August 1907. It was presented as a settling of accounts between the two gamers of The Great Game and a contribution to world peace. In it Britain and Russia guaranteed “not to interfere” in Persia “unless injury is inflicted on the persons or property of their subjects.” It was stated that the two powers guaranteed “to secure for ever the independence of Persia”.

The U.S. economist Morgan Shuster was appointed by the Persian Government as economic adviser to put its affairs to right. Like the Ottoman Empire Persia had become disabled by foreign loans made to the Shah which had exorbitant interest rates and which the country struggled to pay back. Shuster began to get on top of this situation and began to restore some element of national sovereignty by eroding the debt. However, at that moment, in 1911, the Russians and then the British invaded their “spheres of influence.”

Shuster wrote a book, The Strangling of Persia, about this experience. He was not surprised about the intrigues of Russia but he was most taken aback by Sir Edward Grey’s breaking of the treaty and disregard for the independence of a country he had so lately guaranteed the independence of. Shuster concluded that it could only be Grey’s obsession with encircling Germany with a view to making war on her in the future, in alliance with the Tsar, that made the British Foreign Secretary permit such breaking of international treaty.

This view corresponds, it should be noted, with that of W.T. Stead, in relation to Grey’s non-interference in Libya, with regard to Italy’s aggression and then his failure to stop the Balkan Wars soon after. It all signalled a Revolution in British Foreign Policy that undermined what Stead called “the public law of Europe” tenaciously defended against Tsarist expansion, through threat of war, by every British Foreign Secretary up to Grey. Something was, indeed, afoot.

In 1916 when Grey had secured his Great War in conjunction with the Tsar, the British War Aims defined with her Russian Ally included:

“That the Neutral Zone of Persia should be included in the sphere of British activities so that the economic life of Asia Minor and Mesopotamia should be always regarded as a field for British enterprise.” 

Dr Majd describes the history of Persia during this period by dividing it into a number of phases. When Britain managed to manoeuvre Turkey into the war in November 1914 British and Russian forces violated the neutrality of Persia and entered it with military forces. This occurred about the same time as the British invasion of Mesopotamia. The Russians and British then concluded a secret pact for a new division of Persia.

Persia appealed to Germany for help in resisting the invasion and German forces, along with a Turkish army, entered Persia. During 1916 and 1917 Russia and Britain established control over their respective parts of Persia, driving the Germans and Turks out. However, the Russian revolution broke up the Russian armies in Persia and they evacuated the country. The British capture of Baghdad in March 1917 and the disappearance of her Russian rival created a situation whereby Britain conquered all of Persia during 1918. During this year British forces invaded western, northern and eastern Persia and occupied regions previously held by Russia.

Persia was intimately connected with Mesopotamia in the British strategic conception. In August 1919, Britain imposed the Anglo-Persian Agreement on the country. As Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, who drafted the document, described England’s policy of adding Persia to the Imperial sphere, in a memorandum:

“If it be asked why we should undertake the task at all, and why Persia should not be left to herself and allowed to rot into picturesque decay, the answer is that her geographical position, the magnitude of our interests in the country, and the future safety of our Eastern Empire render it impossible for us any time during the last fifty years – to disinherit ourselves from what happens in Persia. Moreover, now that we are about to assume the mandate for Mesopotamia, which will make us coterminous with the western frontiers of Asia, we cannot permit the existence between the frontiers of our Indian Empire and Baluchistan and those of our new protectorate, a hotbed of misrule, enemy intrigue, financial chaos, and political disorder. Further, if Persia were to be alone, there is every reason to fear that she would be overrun by Bolshevik influence from the north. Lastly, we possess in the southwestern corner of Persia great assets in the shape of oil fields, which are worked for the British navy and which give us a commanding interest in that part of the world.” (Stephen Kinzer, All the Shah’s Men, pp. 39-40)

And yet whilst England could never “give up responsibility” for Persia as a territory it could never admit responsibility for the welfare of its people or that its policy had been tantamount to genocide with regard to them.

Dr. Majd notes that

“From the beginning, the British had maintained extraordinary secrecy on the invasion of Western Persia, their ‘Dunsterforce’ being nicknamed the ‘hush-hush force’… For four and a half years all of Persia was under British military occupation. The British forces had evacuated Persia only after the coup d’état of February 1921 by which the British had installed the military dictatorship of Reza Khan and who was subsequently made Shah in 1925. For the next 30 years the British controlled Persia, until the United States took over in the late 1940s.” (pp.3-4)

In his account, Adventures of Dunsterville, Major-General L.C.Dunsterville, described the reasons behind the British “adventure” that played with the lives of millions:

“One of the big items in the deep-laid pre-war schemes of Germany for world-domination was the absorption of Asia Minor and the penetration into further Asia by means of the Berlin-Baghdad railway. When Baghdad was taken by the British in March 1917… the scheme for German penetration into Asia had to be shifted north and took the obvious line BERLIN-BAKU-BOKHARA. In this latter scheme it was evident that the Southern Caucasus, Baku and the Caspian Sea would play a large part; and the object of my mission was to prevent German and Turkish penetration in this area. Fate ordained that, just at the time that the British thwarted the more southern German scheme by the capture of Baghdad, the Russian breakdown opened the northern route to the unopposed enterprise of the Germans. “ (pp.1-2)  

The melting away of the Russian Army in the autumn of 1917 left the Anatolian/Caucasus line to be held by the Armenian forces. But the Armenians were almost totally dependent upon their foreign sponsors. Without foreign forces they were as insubstantial as their demand for statehood.

The area was too far from Baghdad to send substantial forces so the idea was to send a “British Mission” to Tiflis to bolster “the broken unit of Russian, Georgian and Armenian soldiery, and restore the battle-line…” (p.8) As Dunsterville noted: “The prospects were considerable, and success would be out of proportion to the numbers employed or the cost involved. It was attractive and practical.” 

The Mission never reached Tiflis. And the British underestimated the fighting ability of the Turks. Dunsterville had thought:

Against such an army it should be easy to reorganise the large numbers of Georgian and Armenian troops, whose fighting spirit would be multiplied a hundredfold by their determination to keep the hated invader out of their homes… Unfortunately the event proved the exact reverse! The revolution had so taken the heart out of the men, that this primitive spirit of the defence of hearth and home, one of the strongest instincts the human being possesses, was entirely absent in the case of the South Caucasians.” (p.4) 

Dunsterville was disappointed that the Russians and Georgians just wanted peace and were of a mind that they would get it if they were left alone to deal with the Turks. And he thought the Armenian lack of willingness to resist as inexplicable, but evidence of a ” lack of national spirit” (p.5).

Now, it is totally unacceptable for Major-General Dunsterville to blame the Armenians and others for the failure of British Imperialist designs in the region. Perhaps they had had enough of being sent signals to go into Insurrection and destroy the state in which they lived, with catastrophic consequences for themselves and their neighbours, and then being let down by their sponsors. It was much more realistic for the Armenians to point the finger at Britain. But they didn’t – and they haven’t.

In the Spring of 1918 the Armenians sent a delegation to Dunsterville for help, led by a doctor:

“The schemes propounded… were all based upon British military support in the shape of actual troops and he stated that he was not authorised to accept our aid merely in the form of leaders and organisers. I had to make it very clear to him that I had no troops and could make no promises as to the dispatch of troops from Baghdad. So… nothing came of our conversation” (p.116)

Having seen himself as let down by the Armenians, Dunsterville retreated into neutral Persia. Conscious of this violation of neutrality he explained that Persia was not truly neutral since the Russians had launched the invasion of Ottoman territories from there (after Britain had divided the country up with the Tsar before the War).The melting away of Tsarist forces in North Persia meant a 450 mile gap in the lines that Britain had to fill:

“It was hoped to stop this gap by re-enlisting, under the British flag, a sufficient number of well-paid volunteers from the ranks of the retreating Russians. The efforts made in this direction were a complete failure. “ (p.6)

I have an advertisement for The Adventures of Dunsterville by the London publishers, Edward Arnold, in 1920. Placed aside John Redmond’s Last Years (“One of the greatest figures of our time”) by Stephen Gwynn, it reads:

“Who is not familiar with Mr. Rudyard Kipling’s figure of Stalky, the schoolboy ‘wily Odysseus’? Stalky has grown up, and is now Major-General Dunsterville, the author of this work… Towards the end of 1917, under the seal of absolute secrecy, a plan was hatched in London to fill the gap left by the defection of Russia… Hence the ‘Hush Hush Army,’ a body of officers and N.C.Os. each fastidiously handpicked from every front, France, Salonika, Palestine, Mesopotamia – representing every part of the British Empire – in fact, a microcosm of Anglo-Saxondom in arms… To General Dunsterville’s courage and foresight is largely due our present position in Persia. Treachery, bad roads, famine, intrigue, armed opposition by those he had set out to help were successfully overcome. The whole story is a tribute to the amazing versatility of the race… Mr. Kipling’s estimate of Stalky, the boy, is amply realised in the story, of Stalky the man.”

Genocide is a ‘Boy’s Own’ adventure of Imperialism it seems.

Dr Majd places responsibility for the great famine and genocide in Persia during 1917-19 firmly at the hands of Britain:

“Persia suffered its greatest calamity when it was under the military occupation of the British. It is shown that not only did the British do nothing to alleviate the famine (the few token relief measures had little impact) but their large-scale purchases of grain and foodstuff in Persia, failure to bring in food from India and Mesopotamia, prevention of food imports from the United States, and their financial policies – including failure to pay Persia’s oil revenues – greatly aggravated the famine situation. Consequently, many more died as the result of British policies. This assuredly qualifies as a crime against humanity. Persia was the greatest victim of World War I, and suffered one of the worst genocides of modern time.” (p.3)

In his book Dr Majd provides a documentary account of the famine using sources from American diplomatic dispatches, the reports of American missionaries and contemporary newspaper and eyewitness accounts on the extent of the suffering and starvation. He also uses the memoirs of British military officers such as Maj. General Dunsterville, commanding officer of the British ‘Dunsterforce’ in Persia and Maj. Gen. Dickson, Inspector General of the East Persia cordon during 1918-19.

In Chapter 3 he provides an indication of the famine’s toll by comparing the population of Persia in 1914 with that of 1919. In this he is meticulous and thorough in investigating both the pre-war and post-war population levels of Persia so that the true extent of the famine and its effect in decimating the population of the country can be accurately ascertained. The author looks at the population figures from a number of angles and reveals that Russian and British historians who have tried to cover up the extent of the famine based their pre-war estimates of the Persian population on a 60-year-old census. In contrast, Dr Majd uses contemporary estimates of the population levels by Europeans, election figures for the urban centres, and the records of Morgan Shuster, the American Administrator General for the Finances of Persia to show the true level of Persian population in 1914.

Dr Majd describes how Persia was faced with food shortages and high prices from the end of 1916 onwards and by the latter part of 1917 the shortages turned into a famine. He notes that when the famine developed all of Persia and the vast majority of the region around it were under British military occupation and control. The British attempted to conduct a skilful propaganda campaign to blame the Russians and the Turks for the calamity but the author proves that the situation was entirely of Britain’s doing. He shows that British trade and financial policies been the major cause of deepening and lengthening the famine and the Russian looting during their withdrawal was only a temporary and localized factor in the situation.

Chapter 5 examines British grain purchases in Persia during the famine. The documentary evidence shows that the large-scale purchase of grain to feed the British armies in Persia, Mesopotamia and southern Russia greatly aggravated the famine in Persia. General Dunsterville himself acknowledged and lamented the fact that British grain purchases contributed to the food shortage and higher prices and thus resulted in the death of many more Persians.

However, Dunsterville eased his conscience over this by blaming the wealthy merchants who made large profits from selling grain to the British “but were unwilling to help save their poorer brethren.”

British attitudes towards the starting Persians were uncannily similar to those expressed against the Irish in a similar position a half a century before and with regard to the Indians on many ocassion. The Persians themselves, and particularly the Persian resistance, was blamed for the food shortages. Persian insurgents were blamed for hoarding food. When the British set up road-gangs to build roads for the military they suggested that this ‘relief measure’ was motivated by benevolence and that the Persians were ungrateful for it. Major Donohoe, for instance, claimed that

“we did not reckon upon Persian avarice, selfishness, and untrustworthiness of character… no Persians were very long in keeping his itching fingers from another person’s money… men did not bother to buy bread for their starving dependents, preferring to dissipate their earnings in the nightly carouses in an opium den – the local equivalent to a British gin palace.” (pp.65-6)

And upon the suspicion that the labour gangs were frittering away their money idly the British began to pay the labourers only half their money and made the rest up through soup kitchens.

The soup kitchens became a way of controlling the masses and luring him away from the Persian Democrats. Donohoe noted:

“the hungry people came and ate. The second and succeeding days they came in thousands. Barricades and armed soldiers were required to prevent their storming the distribution centres and carrying off all the available supply. And, to the dismay and horror of all good Democrats, not a single one died from poisoning. This was the death blow to the prestige of the democratic movement. It lost its grip on the people… the British were de facto masters of the situation. They had conquered the people of Hamadan not by the sword and halter of the Turk who had preceded them, but by the modern adoption of the miracle of loaves and fishes.” (pp.67-8)

But at the same time the British destroyed many stocks of grain right in the middle of a raging famine in order to prevent the grain from falling into the hands of the Turks, who they feared, at times, might return.

It was not that the British were unaware of the suffering of the people. The author cites many reports and extracts from books written in the immediate post-war period which contain desperate descriptions of the conditions of the people. For instance, Major Donohoe (With the Persian Expedition) described instances of cannibalism breaking out amongst the starving people:

“the foodless people, driven crazy by their sufferings, now resorted to eating human flesh. Cannibalism was a crime hitherto unknown in Persia, and no punishment exists for it in the Persian law. The offenders were chiefly women, and the victims children stolen from the doorsteps of their homes, or snatched up haphazard in the bazaar purlieus. Mothers of young children were afraid to leave them while they went to beg for bread, lest in their absence they should be kidnapped and eaten. I never went into the bazaar or through the narrow, ill paved streets without a feeling of sickly horror at the sight of the human misery revealed there. Children who were little better than human skeletons would crowd around to beg for bread or the wherewithal to purchase it, and in parting with a few coppers to them, one could not help shuddering and wondering if they, too, were destined, sooner or later, to find their way into the cooking pot… They arrested eight women who confessed that they had kidnapped, killed, and eaten a number of children, pleading that hunger had driven them to these terrible crimes… two women, mother and daughter, were caught red-handed. They had killed the daughter’s eight-year-old child, and were cooking the body, when the police interrupted the preparations for this horrible feast. The half cooked remains were removed to a basket, and an indignant crowd of well fed Democrats followed the wretched offenders to the police station, threatening them with death. The next day the women were executed.” (pp.27-8)

Dr. Madj is not content with describing the famine as if it were simply a natural disaster. He is determined to prove that it was anything but a natural disaster and was wholly the responsibility of the British authorities – without whose presence there would have been no famine. He describes how the famine continued unabated during the summer and autumn of 1918 despite one of the best harvests on record. He also conducts a case study of the famine in the Gilan district proving that the region was able to feed itself, and all the refugees that had arrived there, prior to British occupation, but then found its food being commandeered by the British occupation forces and it being plunged into famine. The British grabbed the food in order to feed the British Army that was advancing towards Baku in order to extend the British Empire, in the circumstances of the collapse of the Russian Empire, up to the Caspian Sea and into the Caucasus.

Dr Majd also shows, using British military correspondence, that there was no necessity for the British Army to grab Persian grain at all as it could have been imported easily from India. However, the British authorities decided that this would use up shipping space and preferred to starve the local population than interfere with their military operations in the region. In this way Britain prevented the importation of food into Persia from India and Mesopotamia, Persia’s neighbours to the west and east and even prevented the United States from using it ships to give humanitarian aid to the Persians.

In Chapter 6 the author examines the financial strangulation of Persia by the British government. The British government reneged on an agreement to pay Persia a monthly sum of customs revenues collected in the country and therefore prevented the Persians from alleviating the famine itself.

As a result of large purchases of foodstuffs by the British there was a huge appreciation of the Persian currency during the Great War and hyperinflation developed. The British government robbed the Persian authorities by paying them in fixed English pounds instead of the customs revenues that they collected in the local currency. Given the huge depreciation of Sterling the Persian government was able to get less than a third of the money they previously had got and the purchasing power of the monthly payments declined to practically nothing.

Also Britain withheld Persia’s oil revenues from the Persian authorities. As the author notes at a time when millions of Persians starved, the British government and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company confiscated Persia’s oil revenues on some flimsy pretext of tribesmen damaging an oil pipeline. The amount of oil revenues due to Persia during 1914-1919 was 8,000,000 pounds – a huge sum by the standards of the time – and nearly 4 times the total annual budget of the Persian government. Had this money being paid to Persia many millions would have been spared death by starvation and disease. (In 1913 Persia had begun producing oil and very quickly became a major producer and exporter of oil. The oil concession in Persia was held by the Anglo-Persian oil Company, two thirds of whose stock was acquired by the British government in 1914.)

The author notes that

“The combination of depriving Persia of its oil revenues and the exchange rate chicanery completed the financial strangulation of Persia, with the result that the Persian government was completely starved of funds during the war and the famine and was completely unable to provide any meaningful famine relief to the victims. Having completely deprived Persia of its financial resources, the British government had complained loudly about the inability of the Persian government to come to the aid of the famine sufferers. It should be stressed again that depriving Persia of its financial resources was consistent with the British policy of depriving Persia of its food supply. That famine and genocide had been used by the British as a deliberate act of war in the conquest of Persia there can be no doubt.” (p.10)

The author also notes that Britain played a devious trick against the Persians at the Peace Conference at Versailles. In March 1919 the Persian delegation in Paris put out a document that supposedly laid out Persia’s grievances and demands for reparation. However this document completely misrepresented the causes of the famine and contained ridiculous territorial claims which sought to expand the territory of Persia by double its area.

The author concludes:

“By mixing Persia’s grievances with a heavy dose of falsehood it trivialized the famine, obscured its causes and weakened Persia’s claims for compensation and participation in the peace conference. It was clearly a part of a clever scheme to conceal the famine and its causes. The cover-up of Persia’s greatest calamity had begun very early on.” (p.11)

After the Cairo Conference, which was organized to settle the future of the Middle East from a British point of view, Churchill made a speech to Parliament on the future of the region. The Irish News commented on 15th June 1921:

“England’s present Government mean to hold on to the Middle East – to Egypt, Palestine, Mesopotamia and Persia. Thus, explained Mr. Churchill, ‘a valuable link in the chain of Imperial communication’ will be forged, and a shorter way round to India, Australia and New Zealand. It is an expensive venture: it will become a commitment before the end of the week. And thus a few more ‘small nations’ will be doomed to slavery.”

In the same year Major-General Ironside organized the coup in Teheran which established a British client ruler.

By all accounts Dr. Mohammad Gholi Majd had great difficulty in getting his book published (and even laminated) in the U.S. and whilst other publications dealing with ‘genocides’ were eagerly put on the market (such as that in Rwanda) the subject of an Iranian genocide produced by British agency was considered untouchable by the same publishers.

Documents from the British War Office relating to the occupation and famine are still being withheld from scholars by today’s Government in Westminster.

If it were really true that Hitler actually said, “Who remembers the Armenians?” it would go to show that he was a product of the world Britain made and the history the British State had written for him. He was, after all, a great admirer of Britain and an Anglophile. Herr Hitler would have remembered the Armenians because Britain had made sure they were remembered. But as for the Persians…


  1. Hello Pat,

    I now went through your last articles, and Townshend’s speech which is a remarkable analysis of the war. May is full of events to include ours. It is as if everybody is trying to reach the summer with clean hands and throwing in every activity into this month.

    I think the story of war time Iran is a significant one. Iran always acts strategically like China, so that they dont dwell into their history when not needed. There is a phenomenon of eastern hypocrisy and the search or love for the truth comes in second too. Past is past attitude is a barrier still separating us from ambitious and intelligent countries. Paying an interest in this great tragedy is a respectable way of thinking and thats all I am interested. I’ll get Dr. Majd’s book to see the picture he provides in full.

    Best regards,




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  3. Thank you! Please let us know what support you need to bring this British genocide of Iranian people to the world’s attention, expose evil British, its ongoing atrocities around the world, and always pointing finger at others.


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