A Historic Letter from Professor Eugene Pittard on the Liberation of the North Caucasus

  • 04/06/2024
Türkçe Tercüme

When Haydar Bammat went to Europe to voice the North Caucasus liberation cause at the Peace Conference in Paris but was stuck in Switzerland because he was not given a visa for France, prominent Swiss Anthropologist Eugene Pittard came to his aid. He wrote a historic letter to the Ambassador of France in Switzerland, Paul Dutasta about the Independence of the North Caucasus on the eve of his trip to Paris, in which he tried to explain to the French diplomat what the North Caucasus should mean for the "civilized" world. Although Pittard's move did not get the desired response on that day, he would manage to pave the way for Bammat to Paris, thanks to his further contacts in Paris.
I translated this historic letter from its French original for you...

Cem Kumuk,
Istanbul, 4 June 2924

To Access the Original File Click on the Image
Letter from Professor Pittard to M. Dutasta,         Geneva, April 10, 1919.

I have received here the letter that you were kind enough to send me in reply to the verbal request that I had the honor of making to you so that the representatives in Switzerland of the Republic of the Caucasus may come to Paris.
I will not hide from you, Your Excellency, that I am sorry for this answer, but I have the feeling that it is a misunderstanding.
Listen to me, I beg you because I am also a completely disinterested lawyer in this case who simply uses the prerogatives that any free man to assert to whom it may concern what he believes to be the truth. The whole past of you, the most illustrious politicians - and at this moment I am especially thinking of Clemenceau - attests to this sacred right of a Republican. And I am sure that on this point you will agree with me.
The request I have made to you seems to me to be as much for the peace of all Europe as for the interests of France itself. I know that it is not to the Ambassador of France that I am speaking, but all the same, I take the liberty of pointing out to you, besides the need to maintain the civilizing and economic influence of France in the East, to point out to you a single fact. The Republic of the Caucasus contains 3 and a half million Moslems who are not amorphous beings (the famous savage division was composed by them). Now, France is, with England, the greatest Muslim power on earth. I have the impression that we should not exasperate Muslims of such quality too much for the sake of peace.
And when I speak of the rest of the world, I think of the Bolshevik danger.
Even today, the Caucasians are powerfully concurring with the armies of Denikin and the Kuban Cossacks and the British troops in repelling the Bolshevik invasion. The great victory at Vladikavkaz could only be achieved with their support. Now the Caucasians imagine that their representatives are in France; They believe that their grievances have spokespeople who can freely explain themselves. From this conviction arises for them the ardent desire not to remain on the side of the Entente, and they have clearly shown in what rank they place their military forces. But if tomorrow they learned that their representatives, only of all the other non-nationals, have been detained for four months at the frontier, don't you think, Your Excellency, that they might believe that they are being deceived and that then they would risk crossing over to the other side of the barricade?

Professor Eugene Pittard
For the time being, this principle prohibits representatives of the Caucasus from appearing before the Peace Conference. It is ok! But then simply allow them, because they are not asking for an exceptional measure in their favor, to come to Paris in a private capacity as the representatives of Ukraine, Lithuania and the other states separated from Russia are today, when they arrive in Paris, they must deposit their names and addresses with your Secretariat. They will then be at your disposal to be at the orders of the Conference if it deems it appropriate to hear them. In this way, which does not commit anything or anyone, the representatives of the Caucasus will not feel that they are systematically being kept away from any possibility of making their voices heard, they will not feel that an injustice has been committed against them - involuntarily, no doubt. Besides, do they not claim the very right for which France has fought, having with her the heart of all humanity? The right of peoples to self-determination. As for the Bolshevists, they will be contained by a national army which, feeling that it is defending the Fatherland, will not let the invaders pass. The Circassians were aware that by fighting against the Bolshevists they were fighting with the Allies.
Forgive me, Your Excellency, I know how precious your minutes are, for writing to you at such length, but the hour is so serious today! On the other hand, I know that with you a letter that asks for justice is not indifferent. This word justice, as we well know, always finds an echo in France.
Let me hope for a favorable solution to this question and please accept, Mr. Minister, the expression of my most distinguished sentiments.
I am leaving for Paris where I am to give a conference and where I am to organize Swiss aid to the devastated regions. If you have a sign to make to me, Your Excellency, please tell me at the Swiss Legation where I will go and inquire.