THE REPORT ON EXCAVATION OF THE MASS-GRAVES IN KARS - SUBATAN
One of the excavations of the mass-graves aiming to explore the events happened in Eastern Anatolia betweeen 1915 and 1918 has been done in Kars-Subatan (Figure 1.) The opening of the mass-graves in Subatan village which is situated near Ani Örenyeri, on the boarders of Turkey-Russia, 28 kilometres in the east of Kars was carried out on Governor of Kars, S.Filtekin, the Mayor of Kars, Prof.Dr.Hursit Ertugrul, the president of Atatürk University, Prof.Dr.Ahmet Cakir, the dean of Science and Literature Faculty of the same university and Prof.Dr.Enver Konukcu, Prof.Dr.Azmi Süslü from Ankara University, Prof.Dr.Metin Özbek from Hacettepe University, Prof.Dr.Fahrettin Kirzioglu From Gazi University, Prof.Dr.Metin Tuncel from Istanbul University, Assoc.Prof.Dr.Abdüsselam Ulucam from 100.Yil University and Ali Ercan, the director of Kars museum.
The excavations in Subatan village which has about 20-30 houses of Moslem population today were carried out in accordance with the oral statements of 120 year old Fariz Öztürk and 95 year old Duraga Öztürk who witnessed the events. They were conducted in a 8x10 meter hole which was opened in the barn in Köseogullari district (Figure 2). The first works were started in A1 hole within the field divided into four separate 4-5 meter areas. The excavation which had been realized in a wide surface first was narrowed down to the inner crosspoint of A1 and B1 holes After having removed the 40 centimeter earth, the first skeletons were found. It was observed that most of these skeletons which were found with some personal belongings belong to children between the age groups of 0-1.
Another group of skeletons which was found in 80 centimeters depth in A1 hole displayed quite a shocking scene. These skeletons which were located in the north-south direction must belong to a mother and her daughter. The woman fell onto her right side and embraced the child with her left arm. The two stroke marks found on the head of the woman prove that they were killed with an axe or some other sharp instrument. The first stroke mark is not as deep as the second one. Both the woman and the child were buried in their clothes.
The photograph taken on April 25 th 1918
Another skeleton group was found in the south corner of A1 hole. Only a few of these could be analyzed. As these analyses show, bodies were thrown haphazardly. The rest of the findings were after of a belt, a pair of ear-rings, a number of colored beads of a small necklace; decayed wooden beams and were given to Kars Museum to be displayed in the newly opened Genocide Section for exhibition.
According to the oral statements of the witnesses, Fariz Öztürk and Duraga Öztürk whose statements are supported by the archive documents, the massacre committed by Armenians happened in the following way: The Tashnak-Armenian guerrillas who retreated from Kars and Sarikamis attacked Subatan village where Turkish, Armenian and Greek people lived together were captured wildly without feeling pity. According to the photographs in the archives and findings of the excavations, the women, children and old men who had been killed with axes and bayonets were left in the streets. The archive documents show that a total of 570 people were murdered in the village. After the withdrawal of Armenians, Turkish soldiers came to the district. The soldiers with the help of survivors collected the corpses, which were decayed and eaten by dogs, to an area and put them in a barn. Due to the hard conditions of that time and lack of time, the bodies were buried together. Some other mass-graves were formed by collapsing the roofs of barns. The archive documents and statements of witnesses show that in three separate mass-graves in Subatan, there are a numbers of martyrs buried. In the barn in Köseogullari district , more than 180, in Tiptip street more than 25 and in the barn which is located in the south of the village mosque more than 350 bodies are buried.
Prof. Dr. Cevat BASARAN