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Let Them Not Return: Sayfo – The Genocide Against the Assyrian, Syriac, and Chaldean Christians in the Ottoman Empire

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Volume 26

War and Genocide

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Let Them Not Return

Sayfo – The Genocide Against the Assyrian, Syriac, and Chaldean Christians in the Ottoman Empire

Edited by David Gaunt, Naures Atto, and Soner O. Barthoma

274 pages, 1 map, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-498-6 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (May 2017)

ISBN  978-1-78920-051-5 $29.95/£23.95 / Pb / Published (December 2018)

eISBN 978-1-78533-499-3 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“This reviewer is more than impressed with the effort and care required to produce what amounts to a syllabus of cogent explorations of one of the most shameful chapters known to man…Let Them Not Return is an invaluable publication providing a great deal of information in support of what promises to be a long and arduous campaign to obtain Turkish confirmation of the genocide of its Christian minorities, particularly that of the lesser publicized Assyrians and Pontic Greeks. With its abundant notes and a rich bibliography accompanying each chapter, this book deserves to grace the shelf of every caring Assyrian.” • Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies

“The book is an excellent contribution in presenting new ideas through its 12 chapters, to study the case of Sayfo by dedicated researches, especially concerning the trauma effect of the post-genocide survivors. Indeed, this is an important book and necessary to be consulted to understand various aspects concerning many themes regarding Christians in the Middle East.” • Syriac Orthodox Patriarchal Journal

“This volume does not try to arrive at a conclusive evaluation. But it provides three well thought-out steps for future research in… completely unknown topic in Osman history during the First World War.” • H-Soz-Kult

“With a list of top-notch contributors, this is an excellent addition to what little is currently available on this under-researched genocide. The organization of the contributions and the volume’s breadth of scope are particularly impressive.” • Mark Levene, University of Southampton


The mass killing of Ottoman Armenians is today widely recognized, both within and outside scholarly circles, as an act of genocide. What is less well known, however, is that it took place within a broader context of Ottoman violence against minority groups during and after the First World War. Among those populations decimated were the indigenous Christian Assyrians (also known as Syriacs or Chaldeans) who lived in the borderlands of present-day Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. This volume is the first scholarly edited collection focused on the Assyrian genocide, or “Sayfo” (literally, “sword” in Aramaic), presenting historical, psychological, anthropological, and political perspectives that shed much-needed light on a neglected historical atrocity.

David Gaunt is Professor of History at the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies, Södertörn University, and a member of the European Academy. He has written extensively on mass violence and genocide in Eastern Europe and in the Ottoman Empire. His Massacres, Resistors, Protectors (2006) is considered the seminal work on the Assyrian, Syriac, and Chaldean genocide.

Naures Atto is a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in World Christianities and their Diaspora in the European Context and Principal Investigator in the Aramaic Online Project at the University of Cambridge. She is the author of Hostages in the Homeland, Orphans in the Diaspora: Identity Discourses among the Assyrian/Syriac elites in the European Diaspora (2011).

Soner O. Barthoma is an independent researcher in the field of Political Science and co-coordinator of the Erasmus+ Aramaic Online Project at Freie Universität Berlin. He is the author of several articles about the modern history of Assyrians in Turkey.

Subject: Genocide HistoryHistory: 20th Century to Present
Area: Southern EuropeMiddle East & Israel


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