The Good Turk: The true story of Armenia’s forgotten Schindler

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A French warship rescues Armenian refugees fleeing from the massacre of their people by Turkish forces ( The Life Picture Collection/Getty )


Feeding the poor and needy is an act that draws us closer to Allah. We earn His forgiveness, mercies and blessings through this act of charity.

“Anyone who looks after and works for a widow and a poor person is like a warrior fighting for Allah?s cause, or like a person who fasts during the day and prays all night. (Bukhari)


At the height of the war, he was a loyal servant of his brutal government, producing equipment for his country’s army – but at great risk to his own life, he saved hundreds of men and women doomed for mass extermination by employing them in his military factories. And in 1915 – long before the bravery of a man whom every reader is already thinking of – Armenia’s Oskar Schindler proved that good could still exist amid hatred and terror.

He was a quarter of a century before his time. But Ottoman naval lieutenant Cemil Kunneh was worthy of Schindler’s title. He was a patriotic and decorated hero from Turkey’s Balkan wars. Yet as his Turkish masters proceeded with the Armenian Holocaust – the deliberate mass annihilation by Turkey of a million and a half Christian Armenians at the height of the First World War – Kunneh sheltered hundreds of these terrified civilians, men and women, some of them half-starved and en route to the death marches on which they were intended to perish.


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