Turkish Last Names : Honest Storytellers

Turkish Last Names : Honest Storytellers. This is the story of my family’s tragic roots, but also, in a way, the story of every Turk.

Turkish Last Names : Honest Story Tellers


Dear Reader,

This is the story of my family’s tragic roots, but also, in a way, the story of every Turk. The catastrophe, known as the Balkan Wars, totally wiped out my paternal grandparents in what is today Northern Greece and nearly annihilated my maternal grandparents in what is today Macedonia. Millions of Turks and other Muslims were killed or forced to abandon their homes, fields, and businesses and run, if they were to escape the wrath of the ethnic cleansing campaign brutally unleashed upon them. Death and destruction were all around them, as numerous campaigns were waged ruthlessly by the various and competing Balkan Christians (Greeks, Bulgarians, Macedonians, Serbs, and others).

The least I can do now is to pay a humble tribute here, by telling the story of a couple of the victims in those nameless, faceless, voiceless masses, who were not only victimized by man’s inhumanity to man a century ago, but also victimized today by man’s apathy for and ignorance on other man’s suffering and sacrifice.

One can go to any city, any town, any village, any mountain top, any riverside, any field, in Turkey today; stop the first person walking on the street; ask him/her about his/her family’s roots; and one will hear heart wrenching stories of suffering and loss. This is so, because the calamity that befell Turks during “the wars” — that is a period starting with the devastating Russian War of 1877, continuing with “fireworks” of bloody rebellions by the Ottoman-Christian in the Balkans and Anatolia during 1878-1912, and culminating in the three back-to-back ” big bangs”, the Balkan Wars of 1912-1914, and the WWI of 1914-1918 and the Turkish Independence War of 1919-1922 — was so categorical, decisive, and thorough, and so pandemic, pervasive, and profound. Words are helpless to express the scope and depth of the trauma visited upon the Turks from 1877-1922. “The wars” mostly desecrated and devoured the ever diminishing resources of the Ottoman Empire, leaving hardly any stone unturned.

Turks and other Muslims, by the millions, were forced to flee from the Balkans, Crimea, and Caucasus, the Arab lands, the Mediterranean islands, in this era of “the wars”, completing the “ring of fire”, mercilessly and relentlessly raining death and destruction on Turkey. Many Turks (more than 700,000) had to flee their homes even on Turkish oil in Eastern Anatolia, in order to escape the oncoming slaughter by the Armenian soldiers in the ranks of the invading Russian armies during the 1915-1918 period.

This is rendered all the more tragic and ironic, when one considers the fact that these hapless masses fleeing death and destruction in places of their origin, were met with yet another cycle of violence and terror in their new places where they were resettled, this time by the Anatolian Christians, i.e. Armenians (1914-1921) and Greeks (1915-1922). Not one Turkish family escaped the devastating effects of this era of “the wars”, let alone being untouched by it. Not one family escaped casualties to some degree; some suffered more, like my father who lost his entire family in Northern Greece; and some less, like my mother, whose family escaped certain death in Macedonia by fleeing with just the shirts on their backs, but nevertheless, survived to raise their only daughter and five sons. I suppose that makes my mother “lucky”.

All this carnage had unfolded in full view of the West, which actually designed, provoked, waged, manipulated, and supported it, mainly through the use of proxies, such as the Ottoman-Christians, but also by using their own military might, when needed, with the ultimate aim, of course, of advancing their imperialist, colonialist, and czarist causes. What a lamentable shame that millions of Muslims and Christians, neighbors and friends for a millennium, killed each other senseless, because of the words, promises, and/or designs of some distant empires, mercenaries, and missionaries and their local nationalist connections. To this date, none of those major actors who are mainly responsible for this rare human drama, have stepped forward to apologize: Britain, France, Russia, the Armenian nationalists and clergy, the American Protestant Missionaries sent from Boston, and the Western war media (NYT, BG, TOL, and others).

This is the story of those forgotten Turkish victims. A story which is still ignored or dismissed in the West, making it even more hurtful. Against this harrowing backdrop, the reader can perhaps now begin to appreciate why even the mention of the AAG feels to some of us, like adding insult to injury or just plain cruelly deliberate insensitivity. If not based on ignorance, then the AAG constitute nothing less than Ethocide by the AFATH community.

The Family Name Law of 1934 in Turkey gave the Turks a truly unique opportunity to immortalize their tragic family stories once and for all. Turks selected, sometimes with poetic serenity, but always with that quintessential dignified Turkish calm, those last names that they felt silently conveyed their story best. Most selected the names of quaint little towns, faraway villages, golden wheat fields, emerald rivers, snow capped mountains, daisy covered plateaus, pine scented valleys, and charming ports where they were expelled from and/or where they lost their loved ones. Last names in Turkey, therefore, are solemn lessons in history, as well irrefutable evidence of Christian inhumanity to Muslim, whether Westerners today appreciate it or not, given the relentless barrage of one sided coverage of WWI in the big media, in the big screen, and in the high school history books today, thanks in no small part to the propaganda by the AFATH their fully owned but independently operated branches, the so called genocide scholars.

So, the next time you meet a Turk, please ask him/her: “What does you last name mean?”




AAG = The alleged Armenian genocide
AFATH = Armenian Falsifiers and Turk Haters
Ethocide = Extermination of ethics via pre-meditated and malicious mass deception for political, economic, social, and/or moral benefits
NYT = The New York Times
TBG = The Bost0n Globe
TOL = The Times of London
WWI= The World War One



My last name says it all: KIRLIKOVALI . The entire Balkan tragedy is neatly packed there… It means “a person from KIRLIK-OVA” in Turkish, which is the name of a little village near today’s Thessaloniki in Greece, or Selanik as it was called until 1912 when it was still under Turkish rule. This village was populated entirely by ethnic Turks, like thousands of other villages dotting all across the great Balkan peninsula at the time.

Yet, all I ever knew about my paternal grandparents, whom I have never met, thanks to the thoroughness of the Greek butchery, is what someone presumably hastily scribbled on a piece of crumpled old paper pinned on the clothes of a baby: “Akif’s son Ratip. Born 1911. KIRLIKOVA ” . That baby was my father. And that’s all the information anyone ever knew about him. Six little words… That’s it!

My father’s parents, siblings, or relatives were never heard from again. Ever! The entire village of KIRLIKOVA vanished from the face of this earth along with its entire population of Turks. How could the Balkan Christians be so ruthless on the Balkan Muslims? How could something like this happen? How come no one is commemorating this? Or passing resolutions in the Congress calling it a genocide? Are Muslims or Turks not considered humans? Does another set of values, rules, and/or human rights apply to them? Why this bias and bigotry? Why the double standards? Why the selective morality? Why the racist or religious discrimination?


Back to our story: In the year 1912, trains full of “Turkish babies” with few babysitters were making, what turned out to be, their last scheduled runs to Istanbul, capital of the Ottoman Empire at the time. Selanik’s fall into the enemy hands was imminent. Presumably in a last minute panic, they loaded all the Turkish babies around at the time in that “train of compassion”.

These ordinary Turks could endure the loss of their homes, fields, businesses, and even their lives, but the thought of their babies being raised by the blood-thirsty Balkan-Christians was simply unbearable. Turkish babies meant Turkish future. Without Turkish babies, there could be no Turkish future.

Among these tiny passengers was a one year old baby: my father. The hand-written note, pinned on his tiny shirt read: “Akif’s son Ratip. Born 1911. KIRLIKOVA ” . This is perhaps the shortest life story in the world. What happened to my father’s parents? His brothers and sisters? Uncles and aunts? Neighbors? The entire village? How can an entire village full of people disappear into thin air?

They all plausibly had stayed behind to defend their homes and fields against the Greek invaders. Turkish babies and young children were hastily shipped away to the relative safety of Istanbul. If what we witnessed in Bosnia (1995) and Kosova in (1998)s are any indications, then we can all guess what happened to those unfortunate residents of KIRLIKOVA – all were slaughtered mercilessly and buried in unmarked, mass graves. Of course, there were no satellites photos back then to identify freshly dug mass graves. Where, how many, and how, we probably will never know… But who and why, we most certainly do. The truth is agonizing but plain: Turks were eliminated in a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign waged by the Greek militia… Need I say more!

So, when I see those Armenians survivors telling their stories on TV every April 24th, I say to myself, ‘You are lucky, because you lived to tell your story. My grandparents were not as lucky as you. Greeks saw to it that they could not be on any TV show like you to tell their side of the story. Who knows what kind of terrible death abruptly ended their young lives… Who knows? So, please spare me, those so-called genocide scholars of AFATH denomination, don’t lecture me about genocide or man’s inhumanity to man. Unlike most of you, who consider genocide debate as a lucrative way of making a living, not unlike a grave digger or a mortician, I am a product of the genocide; Turkish Genocide in the Balkans.’

My father was cared for by the Turkish State. He was taken to the Orphans’ Home (“Dar-Ul Eytam” in Ottoman Turkish or “Yetimler Evi” in modern Turkish) in Bebek, Istanbul, when he was only a one-year old baby… He was raised there by the Ottoman Empire and then by Tukey. He later attended public schools in Bursa and then was admitted to the Istanbul University, Forestry Department, which, ironically, was itself created and mostly staffed by Jewish professors fleeing persecution by Greeks in Thessaloniki (Selanik), Greece, and by the Nazis in Germany. My father graduated in 1939 as a Forest Engineer and served Turkey with distinction for 34 years before passing away in 1973.

He married my mother, a Bursa-born daughter of a Turkish refugee family, survivors of the ethnic cleansing campaigns in Skopje (Uskup in Turkish), Macedonia. Together they had eight children. One of those children, born in 1952, is the writer of these lines… My mother’s story is also equally tragic and also connected to the “Forgotten Turkish Genocide” in The Balkans during 1912-1914, but it involves the co-religionists of the Greeks, i.e. the Serbians, the Macedonians, and the Bulgarians, who were equally brutal when it came to ethnic cleansing of Turks and other Muslims.

One look at my family, and you get a quick history and geography lesson on man’s inhumanity to man:

my father the one-year-old-baby, the sole survivor of pogroms perpetrated by Greek irregulars and nationalists in Western Thrace;

my mother, the only daughter of a Turkish family which survived the pogroms in Skopje, Macedonia, escaping to Turkey with just the clothes on their backs;

my oldest brother Cenk’s wife, Guler, an Izmir-born daughter of a survivor pogroms on the Aegean island of Crete, which is a part of today’s Greece;

my second oldest brother, Metin’s wife, Elvira, a Belgium-born daughter of a Turkish refugee from Crimea (Southern Ukranie), expelled by Soviets in May 1944.

One of my neighbors was called “Karabagli”, son of a refugee from Caucasia, fleeing Russian and Armenian bayonets;

My maternal uncles had the name of a river in the Balkans as their last name: Vardar;

My friends at the high school and the university had the following last names: Cecen (Checnia); Ozbek (Ozbekistan); Kazan (Kazan Turks); Azeri (Azerbaijan); Uygur (Uygur Turks); Karacayli (Karacay Turks)

A former Izmir Mayor had this last name: Pristina (From Kosovo);

A former foreign minister of Turkey had this last name: Turkmen (Either Form Turkmenistan or from Iraqi Turks of Kirkuk)

A dairy company has this name: Tikvesli (From Tikves, I believe near or in Albania);

All my life, I have come across people with names like Bagdatli, Filibeli, Kircali, Kerkuklu, Midillili, Musullu, Kibrisli, Rodoslu, Kirimli, Rodoplu, Arnavut, Baskurt, Hakas, Cuvas, Oguz, Iskodrali, Sokollu, Bukresli, Kirgiz, Turkmen, Tatar, Hazer, Tebrizli, … On and on and on…. All of these names have intriguing and sad human stories behind them that could keep Hollywood writers busy for decades to come. If these stories are not told, and therefore, not known, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t happen. Unfortunately, they did happen…

Turks are the survivors of many pogroms and genocidal campaigns waged against them, by the Russians, Armenians, Greeks, the British, the French, the Bulgarians, the Serbians, and others… Turkish last names tell their sad stories… Turks are all products of ignored genocides.

The next time an AFATH historian (genocide scholars sold separately) attempts to lecture a Turk on the AAG, please tell him/her to get down from his/her high horse and apologize to the Turks… and while at it, apologize to the unsuspecting Americans and others for deceiving them for a century…

Remind them, ethocide doesn’t pay.