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Armenian civilians are marched to a nearby prison in Mezireh by armed Turkish soldiers. Kharpert, Ottoman Empire, April 1915.

The Armenian Genocide (Armenian: Հայոց Ցեղասպանություն, translit.: Hayoc’ C’eġaspanowt’yown; Turkish: Ermeni Soykırımı)  – also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, by Armenians, as the Great Calamity (Մեծ Եղեռն, Meç Eġeṙn, Armenian pronunciation: [mɛts jɛˈʁɛrn])  – was the deliberate and systematic destruction (genocide) of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I.[1] It was characterized by the use of massacres, and the use of deportations involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of Armenian deaths generally held to have been between one and 1.5 million.[2][3][4][5] Other ethnic groups were similarly attacked by the Ottoman Empire during this period, including Assyrians and Greeks, and some scholars consider those events to be part of the same policy of extermination.[6][7][8]

It is widely acknowledged to have been one of the first modern genocides,[9][10][11] as scholars point to the systematic, organized manner in which the killings were carried out to eliminate the Armenians.[12] Indeed, the word genocide[13] was coined in order to describe these events.[14] It is the second most-studied case of genocide after the Holocaust.[15]

The starting date of the genocide is conventionally held to be April 24, 1915, the day that Ottoman authorities arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. Thereafter, the Ottoman military uprooted Armenians from their homes and forced them to march for hundreds of miles, depriving them of food and water, to the desert of what is now Syria. Massacres were indiscriminate of age or gender, with rape and other sexual abuse commonplace.

The Republic of Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, denies the word genocide is an accurate description of the events (see, Denial of the Armenian Genocide).[16] In recent years, it has faced repeated calls to accept the events as genocide. To date, twenty countries have officially recognized the events of the period as genocide, and most genocide scholars and historians accept this view.[17][18][19][20] The majority of Armenian diaspora communities were founded as a result of the Armenian genocide.



Life under Ottoman rule

Armenian-populated regions in Anatolia, Western Armenia, and the Transcaucasus before the genocide.
The majority of the Armenian population was concentrated in the east of the Ottoman Empire.

In the Ottoman Empire, in accordance with the Muslim dhimmi system, Armenians, as Christians, were guaranteed limited freedoms (such as the right to worship), but were in essence treated as second-class citizens. Christians and Jews were not considered equals to Muslims: testimony against Muslims by Christians and Jews was inadmissible in courts of law. They were forbidden to carry weapons or ride atop horses, their houses could not overlook those of Muslims, and their religious practices would have to defer to those of Muslims, in addition to various other legal limitations.[21] Violation of these statutes could result in punishments ranging from the levying of fines to execution.

The three major European powers, Great Britain, France and Russia (known as the Great Powers), took issue with the Empire's treatment of its Christian minorities and increasingly pressured the Ottoman government (also known as the Sublime Porte) to extend equal rights to all its citizens. Beginning in 1839, the Ottoman government implemented the Tanzimat reforms to improve the situation of minorities, although these would all prove largely ineffective. By the late 1870s, the Greeks, along with several countries of the Balkans, frustrated with their conditions, had, often with the help of the Powers, broken free of Ottoman rule. Armenians, for the most part, remained passive during these years, earning them the title of millet-i sadıka or the "loyal millet."[22]

Reform implementation, 1860s–1880s

In the mid-1860s to early 1870s, Armenians began to ask for better treatment from the Ottoman government. After amassing the signatures of peasants from Western Armenia (where the bulk of the Armenian population in the empire was concentrated), the Armenian Communal Council had petitioned to the Ottoman government to redress the issues that the peasants complained about: "the looting and murder in Armenian towns by [Muslim] Kurds and Circassians, improprieties during tax collection, criminal behavior by government officials and the refusal to accept Christians as witnesses in trial."[23] The Ottoman government considered these grievances and promised to punish those responsible.[23]

Following the violent suppression of Christians in the uprisings in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Serbia in 1875, the Great Powers invoked the 1856 Treaty of Paris by claiming that it gave them the right to intervene and protect the Ottoman Empire's Christian minorities.[24] Under growing pressure, the government declared itself a constitutional monarchy (which was almost immediately dissolved) and entered into negotiations with the powers. At the same time, the Armenian patriarchate of Constantinople headed by Nerses II, forwarded Armenian complaints of widespread "forced land seizure ... forced conversion of women and children, arson, protection extortion, rape, and murder" to the Powers.[25]

After the conclusion of the 1877–1878 Russo-Turkish War, Armenians began to look more towards Russia as the ultimate guarantors of their security. Nerses approached the Russian leadership during its negotiations with the Ottomans in San Stefano and in the eponymous treaty, convinced them to insert a clause, Article 16, that stipulated that Russian forces occupying the Armenian provinces would only withdraw with the full implementation of Ottoman reforms.[26] Great Britain was troubled with Russia holding on to so much Ottoman territory and forced it to enter into new negotiations with the convening of the Congress of Berlin on June 13, 1878. Armenians also entered into these negotiations and emphasized that they sought autonomy, not independence from the Ottoman Empire.[27] They partially succeeded as Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin contained the same text as Article 16 but removed any mention that Russian forces would remain in the provinces; instead, the Ottoman government was to periodically inform the Great Powers of the progress of the reforms.

Hamidian Massacres, 1894–1896

Hamidian massacres

In 1876, the Ottoman government was led by Sultan Abdul Hamid II. From the beginning of the reform period after the signing of the Berlin treaty, Hamid II attempted to stall their implementation and asserted that Armenians did not make up a majority in the provinces and that Armenian reports of abuses were largely exaggerated or false. In 1890, Hamid II created a paramilitary outfit known as the Hamidiye which was made up of Kurdish irregulars who were tasked to "deal with the Armenians as they wished."[28] As Ottoman officials intentionally provoked rebellions (often as a result of over-taxation) in Armenian populated towns, such as in Sasun in 1894 and Zeitun in 1895-1896, these regiments were increasingly used to deal with the Armenians by way of oppression and massacre. In some instances, Armenians successfully fought off the regiments and brought the excesses to the attention of the Great Powers in 1895 who subsequently condemned the Porte.[29]

The Powers forced Hamid to sign a new reform package designed to curtail the powers of the Hamidiye in October 1895 which like the Berlin treaty, was never implemented. On October 1, 1895, 2,000 Armenians assembled in Constantinople to petition for the implementation of the reforms but Ottoman police units converged towards the rally and violently broke it up.[30] Soon, massacres of Armenians broke out in Constantinople and then engulfed the rest of the Armenian-populated provinces of Bitlis, Diyarbekir, Erzerum, Harput, Sivas, Trabzon and Van. Estimates differ on how many Armenians were killed but European documentation of the violence, which became known as the Hamidian massacres, placed the figures from anywhere between 100,000–300,000 Armenians.[31]

Although Hamid was never directly implicated for ordering the massacres, he was suspected for their tacit approval and for not acting to end them.[32] Frustrated with European indifference to the massacres, Armenians from the Dashnaktsutiun political party seized the European-managed Ottoman Bank on August 26, 1896. This incident brought further sympathy for Armenians in Europe and was lauded by the European and American press, which vilified Hamid and painted him as the "great assassin" and "bloody Sultan."[33] While the Great Powers vowed to take action and enforce new reforms, these never came into fruition due to conflicting political and economic interests.

Dissolution of the Empire

Young Turk Revolution, 1908

Two of the three leaders of the Young Turk triumvirate, Enver Pasha, middle, accompanied by Djemal Pasha, right, in a visit to Jerusalem in 1915, then a part of Ottoman Syria.

On July 24, 1908, Armenians' hopes for equality in the empire brightened once more when a coup d'état staged by officers in the Turkish Third Army based in Salonika removed Hamid II from power and restored the country back to a constitutional monarchy. The officers were part of the Young Turk movement that wanted to reform administration of the decadent state of the Ottoman Empire and modernize it to European standards. The movement was an anti-Hamidian coalition made up of two distinct groups: the secular liberal constitutionalists and the nationalists; the former was more democratic and accepted Armenians into their wing whereas the latter was more intolerant in regard to Armenian-related issues and their frequent requests for European assistance.[34] In 1902, during a congress of the Young Turks held in Paris, the heads of the liberal wing, Sabahheddin Bey and Ahmed Riza, partially persuaded the nationalists to include in their objectives to ensure some rights to all the minorities of the empire.

Among the numerous factions of the Young Turks also included the political organization Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). Originally a secret society made up of army officers based in Salonika, the CUP proliferated amongst military circles as more army mutinies took place throughout the empire. In 1908, elements of the Third Army and the Second Army Corps declared their opposition to the Sultan and threatened to march on the capital to depose him. Hamid, shaken by the wave of resentment, stepped down from power as Armenians, Greeks, Arabs, Bulgarians and Turks alike rejoiced in his dethronement.[35]

Adana Massacre, 1909

An Armenian town left pillaged and destroyed after the massacres in Adana in 1909.

A countercoup took place on April 13, 1909. Some Ottoman military elements, joined by Islamic theological students, aimed to return control of the country to the Sultan and the rule of Islamic law. Riots and fighting broke out between the reactionary forces and CUP forces, until the CUP was able to put down the uprising and court-martial the opposition leaders.

While the movement initially targeted the nascent Young Turk government, it spilled over into pogroms against Armenians who were perceived as having supported the restoration of the constitution.[36] When Ottoman Army troops were called in, many accounts record that instead of trying to quell the violence they actually took part in pillaging Armenian enclaves in Adana province.[37] 15,000–30,000 Armenians were killed in the course of the "Adana Massacre".[38][39]

Armenian Genocide, 1915–1917 period

In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered World War I on the side of the Central Powers.

Labor battalions, February 25

Minister of War Enver Pasha developed a plan to encircle and destroy the Russian Caucasus Army at Sarıkamış, to regain territories lost to Russia after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878. Enver Pasha's forces were routed at the Battle of Sarikamis, and almost completely destroyed. Returning to Constantinople, Enver publicly blamed his defeat on Armenians living in the region actively siding with the Russians.[40]

On February 25, 1915, The War minister Enver Pasha sent an order to all military units that Armenians in the active Ottoman forces be demobilized and assigned to the unarmed Labour battalion (Turkish: amele taburlari). Enver Pasha explained this decision as "out of fear that they would collaborate with the Russians". As a tradition, the Ottoman Army drafted non-Muslim males only between the ages of 20 and 45 into the regular army. The younger (15–20) and older (45–60) non-Muslim soldiers had always been used as logistical support through the labor battalions. Before February, some of the Armenian recruits were utilized as laborers (hamals), though they would ultimately be executed.[41]

Transferring Armenian conscripts from active field (armed) to passive, unarmed logistic section was an important aspect of the subsequent genocide. As reported in "The Memoirs of Naim Bey", the extermination of the Armenians in these battalions was part of a premeditated strategy on behalf of the Committee of Union and Progress. Many of these Armenian recruits were executed by local Turkish gangs.[42]

Events at Van, April 1915

Armed Armenian civilians and self-defense units holding a line against Turkish forces in the walled Van Resistance in May 1915.

On April 19, 1915, Jevdet Bey demanded that the city of Van immediately furnish him 4,000 soldiers under the pretext of conscription. However, it was clear to the Armenian population that his goal was to massacre the able-bodied men of Van so that there would be no defenders.[43] Jevdet Bey had already used his official writ in nearby villages, ostensibly to search for arms, which had turned into wholesale massacres.[43] The Armenians offered five hundred soldiers and to pay exemption money for the rest in order to buy time, however, Djevdet accused Armenians of "rebellion," and spoke of his determination to "crush" it at any cost. "If the rebels fire a single shot," he declared, "I shall kill every Christian man, woman, and" (pointing to his knee) "every child, up to here."[44]

On April 20, 1915, the armed conflict of the Van Resistance began when an Armenian woman was harassed, and the two Armenian men that came to her aid were killed by Turkish soldiers. The Armenian defenders protected 30,000 residents and 15,000 refugees in an area of roughly one square kilometer of the Armenian Quarter and suburb of Aigestan with 1,500 able bodied riflemen who were supplied with 300 rifles and 1,000 pistols and antique weapons. The conflict lasted until General Yudenich came to rescue them.[45]

Similar reports reached Morgenthau from Aleppo and Van, prompting him to raise the issue in person with Talaat and Enver. As he quoted to them the testimonies of his consulate officials, they justified the deportations as necessary to the conduct of the war, suggesting that complicity of the Armenians of Van with the Russian forces that had taken the city justified the persecution of all ethnic Armenians.

Arrest and deportation of Armenian notables, April 1915

Armenian intellectuals who were arrested and later executed en masse by Ottoman authorities on the night of April 24, 1915.

On April 24, 1915, the Red Sunday (Armenian: Կարմիր Կիրակի), was the night which the leaders of Armenians of the Ottoman capital, Constantinopole, and later extending to other Ottoman centers were arrested and moved to two holding centers near Ankara by then minister of interior Mehmed Talat Bey with his order on April 24, 1915. These Armenians later deported with the passage of Tehcir Law on 29 May 1915. The date 24 April, Genocide Remembrance Day, commemorates the Armenian notables deported from the Ottoman capital in 1915, as the precursor to the ensuing events.

Interior Minister Talat Pasha, who ordered the arrests.

In his order, order on April 24, 1915, Talat claimed "have long been pursuing to gain an administrative autonomy and this desire is displayed once more, in no uncertain terms, with the inclusion of the Russian Armenians who have assumed a position against us together with the Daschnak Committee in no time in the regions of Zeytûn (Zeitun Resistance (1915)), Bitlis, Sivas, and Van (Van Resistance) in accordance with the decisions they have previously taken (Armenian congress at Erzurum)." By 1914, Ottoman authorities had already begun a propaganda drive to present Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire as a threat to the empire's security. An Ottoman naval officer in the War Office described the planning:

In order to justify this enormous crime the requisite propaganda material was thoroughly prepared in Constantinople. [It included such statements as] "the Armenians are in league with the enemy. They will launch an uprising in Istanbul, kill off the Committee of Union and Progress leaders and will succeed in opening the straits (of the Dardanelles)."[46]

On the night of April 24, 1915, the Ottoman government rounded-up and imprisoned an estimated 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders.[47] This date coincided with Allied troop landings at Gallipoli after unsuccessful Allied naval attempts to break through the Dardanelles to Constantinople in February and March 1915.


Mass Burnings

Eitan Belkind was a Nili member, who infiltrated the Ottoman army as an official. He was assigned to the headquarters of Camal Pasha. He claims to have witnessed the burning of 5,000 Armenians.[48]

Lt. Hasan Maruf, of the Ottoman army, describes how a population of a village were taken all together, and then burned.[49] The Commander of the Third Army Vehib's 12-page affidavit, which was dated 5 December 1918, was presented in the Trabzon trial series (March 29, 1919) included in the Key Indictment,[50] reporting such a mass burning of the population of an entire village near Mush.[51] that in Bitlis, Mus and Sassoun, "The shortest method for disposing of the women and children concentrated in the various camps was to burn them." And also that, "Turkish prisoners who had apparently witnessed some of these scenes were horrified and maddened at the remembering the sight. They told the Russians that the stench of the burning human flesh permeated the air for many days after."


Trabzon was the main city in Trabzon province; Oscar S. Heizer, the American consul at Trabzon, reports: "This plan did not suit Nail Bey.... Many of the children were loaded into boats and taken out to sea and thrown overboard."[52] The Italian consul of Trabzon in 1915, Giacomo Gorrini, writes: "I saw thousands of innocent women and children placed on boats which were capsized in the Black Sea."[53] The Trabzon trials reported Armenians having been drowned in the Black Sea.[54]

Hoffman Philip, the American Charge at Constantinople chargé d'affaires, writes: "Boat loads sent from Zor down the river arrived at Ana, one thirty miles away, with three fifths of passengers missing."[55]

Use of poison/overdose

This iconic photo, taken by the German medic Armin Wegner, shows Armenian refugees marching across the Syrian desert.

The psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton writes in a parenthesis when introducing the crimes of Nazi doctors, "Perhaps Turkish doctors, in their participation in the genocide against the Armenians, come closest, as I shall later suggest." [56]

Morphine overdose; During the Trabzon trial series of the Martial court, from the sittings between March 26 and May 17, 1919, the Trabzons Health Services Inspector Dr. Ziya Fuad wrote in a report that Dr. Saib caused the death of children with the injection of morphine. The information was allegedly provided by two physicians (Drs. Ragib and Vehib), both Dr. Saib's colleagues at Trabzons Red Crescent hospital, where those atrocities were said to have been committed.[57][58]

Toxic gas; Dr. Ziya Fuad and Dr. Adnan, public health services director of Trabzon, submitted affidavits reporting cases in which two school buildings were used to organize children and send them to the mezzanine to kill them with toxic gas equipment.[59][60]

Typhoid inoculation; The Ottoman surgeon, Dr. Haydar Cemal wrote "on the order of the Chief Sanitation Office of the IIIrd Army in January 1916, when the spread of typhus was an acute problem, innocent Armenians slated for deportation at Erzican were inoculated with the blood of typhoid fever patients without rendering that blood ‘inactive’."[61][62] Jeremy Hugh Baron writes: "Individual doctors were directly involved in the massacres, having poisoned infants, killed children and issued false certificates of death from natural causes. Nazim's brother-in-law Dr. Tevfik Rushdu, Inspector-General of Health Services, organized the disposal of Armenian corpses with thousands of kilos of lime over six months; he became foreign secretary from 1925 to 1938."[63]


Map of massacre locations and deportation and extermination centers
The remains of Armenians massacred at Erzinjan.[64]
Of this photo, the United States ambassador wrote [1], "Scenes like this were common all over the Armenian provinces, in the spring and summer months of 1915. Death in its several forms—massacre, starvation, exhaustion—destroyed the larger part of the refugees. The Turkish policy was that of extermination under the guise of deportation."

In May 1915, Mehmed Talat Pasha requested that the cabinet and Grand Vizier Said Halim Pasha legalize a measure for relocation and settlement of Armenians to other places due to what Talat Pasha called "the Armenian riots and massacres, which had arisen in a number of places in the country." However, Talat Pasha was referring specifically to events in Van and extending the implementation to the regions in which alleged "riots and massacres" would affect the security of the war zone of the Caucasus Campaign. Later, the scope of the immigration was widened in order to include the Armenians in the other provinces.

On 29 May 1915, the CUP Central Committee passed the Temporary Law of Deportation ("Tehcir Law"), giving the Ottoman government and military authorization to deport anyone it "sensed" as a threat to national security.[65] The "Tehcir Law" brought some measures regarding the property of the deportees, but during September a new law was proposed. By means of the "Abandoned Properties" Law (Law Concerning Property, Dept's and Assets Left Behind Deported Persons, also referred as the "Temporary Law on Expropriation and Confiscation"), the Ottoman government took possession of all "abandoned" Armenian goods and properties. Ottoman parliamentary representative Ahmed Riza protested this legislation:

It is unlawful to designate the Armenian assets as “abandoned goods” for the Armenians, the proprietors, did not abandon their properties voluntarily; they were forcibly, compulsorily removed from their domiciles and exiled. Now the government through its efforts is selling their goods... If we are a constitutional regime functioning in accordance with constitutional law we can’t do this. This is atrocious. Grab my arm, eject me from my village, then sell my goods and properties, such a thing can never be permissible. Neither the conscience of the Ottomans nor the law can allow it.[66]

On 13 September 1915, the Ottoman parliament passed the "Temporary Law of Expropriation and Confiscation", stating that all property, including land, livestock, and homes belonging to Armenians, was to be confiscated by the authorities.[67]

With the implementation of Tehcir law, the confiscation of Armenian property and the slaughter of Armenians that ensued upon the law's enactment outraged much of the western world. While the Ottoman Empire's wartime allies offered little protest, a wealth of German and Austrian historical documents has since come to attest to the witnesses' horror at the killings and mass starvation of Armenians.[68][69][70] In the United States, The New York Times reported almost daily on the mass murder of the Armenian people, describing the process as "systematic", "authorized" and "organized by the government." Theodore Roosevelt would later characterize this as "the greatest crime of the war."[71]

Death Marches

An Armenian woman kneeling beside dead child in field "within sight of help and safety at Aleppo."

The Armenians were marched out to the Syrian town of Deir ez-Zor and the surrounding desert. A good deal of evidence suggests that the Ottoman government did not provide any facilities or supplies to sustain the Armenians during their deportation, nor when they arrived.[72] By August 1915, The New York Times repeated an unattributed report that "the roads and the Euphrates are strewn with corpses of exiles, and those who survive are doomed to certain death. It is a plan to exterminate the whole Armenian people."[73]

Ottoman troops escorting the Armenians not only allowed others to rob, kill, and rape the Armenians, but often participated in these activities themselves.[72] Deprived of their belongings and marched into the desert, hundreds of thousands of Armenians perished.

Naturally, the death rate from starvation and sickness is very high and is increased by the brutal treatment of the authorities, whose bearing toward the exiles as they are being driven back and forth over the desert is not unlike that of slave drivers. With few exceptions no shelter of any kind is provided and the people coming from a cold climate are left under the scorching desert sun without food and water. Temporary relief can only be obtained by the few able to pay officials.[72]

Similarly, Major General Friedrich Freiherr Kress von Kressenstein noted that "The Turkish policy of causing starvation is an all too obvious proof... for the Turkish resolve to destroy the Armenians."[74]

German engineers and laborers involved in building the railway also witnessed Armenians being crammed into cattle cars and shipped along the railroad line. Franz Gunther, a representative for Deutsche Bank which was funding the construction of the Baghdad Railway, forwarded photographs to his directors and expressed his frustration at having to remain silent amid such "bestial cruelty".[75] Major General Otto von Lossow, acting military attaché and head of the German Military Plenipotentiary in the Ottoman Empire, spoke to Ottoman intentions in a conference held in Batum in 1918:

The Turks have embarked upon the "total extermination of the Armenians in Transcaucasia... The aim of Turkish policy is, as I have reiterated, the taking of possession of Armenian districts and the extermination of the Armenians. Talaat's government wants to destroy all Armenians, not just in Turkey but also outside Turkey. On the basis of all the reports and news coming to me here in Tiflis there hardly can be any doubt that the Turks systematically are aiming at the extermination of the few hundred thousand Armenians whom they left alive until now.[76]

Extermination Camps

The Armenians were driven south toward the deserts of Syria, with only what they could carry.

It is believed that 25 major concentration camps existed, under the command of Şükrü Kaya, one of the right hand-men of Talat Pasha.[77] The majority of the camps were situated near Turkey's modern Iraqi and Syrian borders, and some were only temporary transit camps.[77] Others, such as Radjo, Katma, and Azaz, are said to have been used only temporarily, for mass graves; these sites were vacated by autumn 1915.[77] Some authors also maintain that the camps Lale, Tefridje, Dipsi, Del-El, and Ra's al-'Ain were built specifically for those who had a life expectancy of a few days.[77]

On the Middle Eastern front, the British military engaged Ottoman forces in southern Syria and Mesopotamia. British diplomat Gertrude Bell filed the following report after hearing the account of a captured Ottoman soldier:

The battalion left Aleppo on 3 February and reached Ras al-Ain in twelve hours... some 12,000 Armenians were concentrated under the guardianship of some hundred Kurds... These Kurds were called gendarmes, but in reality mere butchers; bands of them were publicly ordered to take parties of Armenians, of both sexes, to various destinations, but had secret instructions to destroy the males, children and old women... One of these gendarmes confessed to killing 100 Armenian men himself... the empty desert cisterns and caves were also filled with corpses...[78]

Teşkilat-i Mahsusa

The Committee of Union and Progress founded a "special organization" (Turkish: Teşkilat-i Mahsusa) that participated in the destruction of the Ottoman Armenian community.[79] This organization adopted its name in 1913 and functioned like a special forces outfit, or the later Einsatzgruppen.[80] Later in 1914, the Ottoman government influenced the direction the special organization was to take by releasing criminals from central prisons to be the central elements of this newly formed special organization.[81] According to the Mazhar commissions attached to the tribunal as soon as November 1914, 124 criminals were released from Pimian prison. Little by little from the end of 1914 to the beginning of 1915, hundreds, then thousands of prisoners were freed to form the members of this organization. Later, they were charged to escort the convoys of Armenian deportees.[82] Vehib Pasha, commander of the Ottoman Third Army, called those members of the special organization, the “butchers of the human species.”[80]


Turkish courts-martial

In 1919, Sultan Mehmed VI ordered domestic courts-martial to try members of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) (Turkish: "Ittihat Terakki") for their role in taking the Ottoman Empire into World War I. The courts-martial blamed the members of CUP for pursuing a war that did not fit into the notion of Millet. The Armenian issue was used as a tool to punish the leaders of the CUP. Most of the documents generated in these courts were later moved to international trials. By January 1919, a report to Sultan Mehmed VI accused over 130 suspects, most of whom were high officials. The military court found that it was the will of the CUP to eliminate the Armenians physically, via its special organization. The 1919 pronouncement reads as follows:

The Court Martial taking into consideration the above-named crimes declares, unanimously, the culpability as principal factors of these crimes the fugitives Talat Pasha, former Grand Vizir, Enver Efendi, former War Minister, struck off the register of the Imperial Army, Cemal Efendi, former Navy Minister, struck off too from the Imperial Army, and Dr. Nazim Efendi, former Minister of Education, members of the General Council of the Union & Progress, representing the moral person of that party;... the Court Martial pronounces, in accordance with said stipulations of the Law the death penalty against Talat, Enver, Cemal, and Dr. Nazim.

The term Three Pashas, which include Mehmed Talat Pasha and Ismail Enver, refers to the triumvirate who had fled the Empire at the end of World War I. At the trials in Constantinople in 1919 they were sentenced to death in absentia. The courts-martial officially disbanded the CUP and confiscated its assets, and the assets of those found guilty. At least two of the three were later assassinated by Armenian vigilantes.

International trials

Following the Mudros Armistice, the preliminary Peace Conference in Paris established "The Commission on Responsibilities and Sanctions" in January 1919, which was chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Lansing. Based on the commission's work, several articles were added to the Treaty of Sèvres, and the acting government of the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Mehmed VI and Damat Adil Ferit Pasha, were summoned to trial. The Treaty of Sèvres (August 1920) planned a trial to determine those responsible for the "barbarous and illegitimate methods of warfare... [including] offenses against the laws and customs of war and the principles of humanity".[15] Article 230 of the Treaty of Sèvres required the Ottoman Empire "hand over to the Allied Powers the persons whose surrender may be required by the latter as being responsible for the massacres committed during the continuance of the state of war on territory which formed part of the Ottoman Empire on August 1, 1914."

Various Ottoman politicians, generals, and intellectuals were transferred to Malta, where they were held for some three years while searches were made of archives in Constantinople, London, Paris and Washington to investigate their actions.[83] However, the Inter-allied tribunal attempt demanded by the Treaty of Sèvres never solidified and the detainees were eventually returned to Turkey in exchange for British citizens held by Kemalist Turkey.

Trial of Soghomon Tehlirian

On March 15, 1921, former Grand Vizier Talat Pasha was assassinated in the Charlottenburg District of Berlin, Germany, in broad daylight and in the presence of many witnesses. Talat's death was part of "Operation Nemesis", the Armenian Revolutionary Federation's codename for their covert operation in the 1920s to kill the planners of the Armenian Genocide.

The subsequent trial of the assassin, Soghomon Tehlirian, had an important influence on Raphael Lemkin, a lawyer of Polish-Jewish descent who campaigned in the League of Nations to ban what he called "barbarity" and "vandalism", and, in 1943, coined the word genocide.

Armenian population, deaths, survivors, 1914 to 1918

While there is no consensus as to how many Armenians lost their lives during the Armenian Genocide, there is general agreement among western scholars that over 500,000 Armenians died between 1914 and 1918. Estimates vary between 300,000 (per the modern Turkish state) to 1,500,000 (per modern Armenia,[84] Argentina,[85] and other states). Encyclopædia Britannica references the research of Arnold J. Toynbee, an intelligence officer of the British Foreign Office, who estimated that 600,000 Armenians "died or were massacred during deportation" in the years 1915–1916.[86][87]

Contemporaneous reports and reactions

Hundreds of eyewitnesses, including the neutral United States and the Ottoman Empire's own allies, Germany and Austria-Hungary, recorded and documented numerous acts of state-sponsored massacres. Many foreign officials offered to intervene on behalf of the Armenians, including Pope Benedict XV, only to be turned away by Ottoman government officials who claimed they were retaliating against a pro-Russian insurrection.[88] On May 24, 1915, the Triple Entente warned the Ottoman Empire that "In view of these new crimes of Turkey against humanity and civilization, the Allied Governments announce publicly to the Sublime Porte that they will hold personally responsible for these crimes all members of the Ottoman Government, as well as those of their agents who are implicated in such massacres."[89]

The American Committee for Relief in the Near East (ACRNE, or "Near East Relief") was a charitable organization established to relieve the suffering of the peoples of the Near East.[90] The organization was championed by Henry Morgenthau, Sr., American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. Morgenthau's dispatches on the mass slaughter of Armenians galvanized much support for ACRNE.[91]

U.S. mission in the Ottoman Empire

Workers of the American Committee for Relief in the Near East in Sivas.

The United States had several consulates throughout the Ottoman Empire, including locations in Edirne, Kharput, Samsun, Smyrna, Trebizond, Van, Constantinople, and Aleppo. The United States was officially a neutral party until it joined with the Allies in 1917.

In addition to the consulates, there were also numerous Protestant missionary compounds established in Armenian-populated regions, including Van and Kharput. The events were reported regularly in newspapers and literary journals around the world.[92]

Many Americans spoke out against the Genocide, including former president Theodore Roosevelt, rabbi Stephen Wise, William Jennings Bryan, and Alice Stone Blackwell. In the United States and the United Kingdom, children were regularly reminded to clean their plates while eating and to "remember the starving Armenians".[93]

Ambassador Morgenthau's Story

A telegram sent by Ambassador Henry Morgenthau Sr. to the State Department on 16 July 1915 describes the massacres as a "campaign of race extermination."

Ambassador Morgenthau's Story was the published memoirs of Henry Morgenthau, Sr. covering the time when he was Woodrow Wilson's American ambassador to Constantinople, 1913-1916. The book was dedicated to Wilson. The ghostwriter for Henry Morgenthau was Burton J. Hendrick. The book has been used as a primary source regarding atrocities against the Armenians. When published, the book came under criticism by two prominent American historians regarding its coverage of Germany in the weeks before the onset of the war.

As the orders for deportations and massacres were enacted, many consular officials reported to the ambassador what they were witnessing. In his memoirs, Morgenthau wrote, "When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact..."[94] In memoirs and reports, their staff vividly described the brutal methods used by Ottoman forces and documented numerous instances of atrocities committed against the Christian minority.[95]

American Relief Work

Fundraising poster for the American Committee for Relief in the Near East - the United States contributed a significant amount of aid to help Armenians during the Armenian Genocide.

American Committee for Relief in the Near East is a relief organization established in 1915, just after the deportations, primary aim was to alleviate the suffering of the Armenian people. Henry Morgenthau played a key role in rallying support for the organization. Between 1915 and 1930, distributed humanitarian relief across a wide range of geographical locations. ACRNE eventually spent over ten times of initial estimate, see original estimate, that amount and helped an estimated close to 2,000,000 refugees[96]

In its first year, ACRNE cared for 132,000 Armenian orphans from Tiflis and Yerevan Constantinople, Beirut, Damascus, and Jerusalem, Sivas. A relief organization for refugees in the Middle East helped donate over $102 million (budget $117,000,000) [1930 value of dollar] to Armenians both during and after the war.[97][98]

Allied forces in the Middle East

Reacting to numerous eyewitness accounts, British politician Viscount Bryce and historian Arnold J. Toynbee compiled statements from survivors and eyewitnesses from other countries including Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland, who similarly attested to the systematized massacring of innocent Armenians by Ottoman government forces. In 1916, they published The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915–1916.[99] Although the book has since been criticized as British wartime propaganda to build up sentiment against the Central Powers, Bryce had submitted the work to scholars for verification before its publication. University of Oxford Regius Professor Gilbert Murray stated of the tome, "...the evidence of these letters and reports will bear any scrutiny and overpower any skepticism. Their genuineness is established beyond question."[100] Other professors, including Herbert Fisher of Sheffield University and former American Bar Association president Moorfield Storey, affirmed the same conclusion.[101]

Winston Churchill described the massacres as an "administrative holocaust" and noted that "the clearance of the race from Asia Minor was about as complete as such an act, on a scale so great, could well be. [...] There is no reasonable doubt that this crime was planned and executed for political reasons. The opportunity presented itself for clearing Turkish soil of a Christian race opposed to all Turkish ambitions, cherishing national ambitions that could only be satisfied at the expense of Turkey, and planted geographically between Turkish and Caucasian Moslems."[102]

Joint Austrian and German mission

As allies during the war, the Imperial German mission in the Ottoman Empire included both military and civilian components. Germany had brokered a deal with the Sublime Porte to commission the building of a railroad stretching from Berlin to the Middle East, called the Baghdad Railway. The Germans also witnessed the way Armenians were burned according to the Israeli historian, Bat Ye’or, who writes: "The Germans, allies of the Turks in the First World War, ...saw how civil populations were shut up in churches and burned, or gathered en masse in camps, tortured to death, and reduced to ashes,..."[103] German officers stationed in eastern Turkey disputed the government's assertion that Armenian revolts had broken out, suggesting that the areas were "quiet until the deportations began."[104]

Among the most famous persons to document the massacres was German military medic Armin T. Wegner. Wegner defied state censorship in taking hundreds of photographs of Armenians being deported and subsequently starving in northern Syrian camps.[105]

Germany's diplomatic mission was led by Ambassador Baron Hans Freiherr von Wangenheim (and later Count Paul Wolff Metternich). Like Morgenthau, von Wangenheim received many disturbing messages from consul officials around the Ottoman Empire. From the province of Adana, Consul Eugene Buge reported that the CUP chief had sworn to kill and massacre any Armenians who survived the deportation marches.[106] In June 1915, von Wangenheim sent a cable to Berlin reporting that Talat had admitted the deportations were not "being carried out because of 'military considerations alone.'" One month later, he came to the conclusion that there "no longer was doubt that the Porte was trying to exterminate the Armenian race in the Turkish Empire."[107]

When Wolff-Metternich succeeded von Wangenheim, he continued to dispatch similar cables: "The Committee [CUP] demands the extirpation of the last remnants of the Armenians and the government must yield.... A Committee representative is assigned to each of the provincial administrations.... Turkification means license to expel, to kill or destroy everything that is not Turkish."[108]

Another notable figure in the German military camp was Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter, who documented various massacres of Armenians. He sent fifteen reports regarding "deportations and mass killings" to Germany's chancellor in Berlin. His final report noted that fewer than 100,000 Armenians were left alive in the Ottoman Empire; the rest had been exterminated (German: ausgerottet).[109] Scheubner-Richter also detailed the methods of the Ottoman government, noting its use of the Special Organization and other bureaucratized instruments of genocide.

Some Germans openly supported the Ottoman policy against the Armenians. As Hans Humann, the German naval attaché in Constantinople said to U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau:

I have lived in Turkey the larger part of my life ... and I know the Armenians. I also know that both Armenians and Turks cannot live together in this country. One of these races has got to go. And I don't blame the Turks for what they are doing to the Armenians. I think that they are entirely justified. The weaker nation must succumb. The Armenians desire to dismember Turkey; they are against the Turks and the Germans in this war, and they therefore have no right to exist here.[110]

In a genocide conference in 2001, professor Wolfgang Wipperman of the Free University of Berlin introduced documents evidencing that the German High Command was aware of the mass killings at the time but chose not to interfere or speak out.[111]

Russian military

The Russian Empire's response to the bombardment of its Black Sea naval ports was primarily a land campaign through the Caucasus. Early victories against the Ottoman Empire from the winter of 1914 to the spring 1915 saw significant gains of territory, including relieving the Armenian bastion resisting in the city of Van in May 1915. The Russians also reported encountering the bodies of unarmed civilian Armenians as they advanced.[112] In March 1916, the scenes they saw in the city of Erzerum led the Russians to retaliate against the Ottoman III Army whom they held responsible for the massacres, destroying it in its entirety.[113]

Swedish Embassy and Military Attaché

Sweden, as a neutral state during the entire World War I, had permanent representatives in the Ottoman Empire, able to continuously report on the ongoing events in the country. The Swedish Embassy in Constantinople, represented by Ambassador Per Gustaf August Cosswa Anckarsvärd, along with Envoy M. Ahlgren, and the Swedish Military Attaché, Captain Einar af Wirsén, closely followed the development throughout the empire, reporting, among others, on the Armenian massacres. On July 7, 1915, Anckarsvärd dispatched a two-page report to Stockholm, beginning with the following information:

The persecutions of the Armenians have reached hair-raising proportions and all points to the fact that the Young Turks want to seize the opportunity, since due to different reasons there are no effective external pressure to be feared, to once and for all put an end to the Armenian question. The means for this are quite simple and consist of the extermination (utrotandet) of the Armenian nation.[114]

During the remainder of 1915 alone, Anckarsvärd dispatched six other reports entitled "The Persecutions of the Armenians". In his report on July 22, Anckarsvärd noted that the persecutions of the Armenians were being extended to encompass all Christians in the Ottoman Empire. Quoting the statement of the Greek chargé d'affaires:

[The deportations] can not be any other issue than an annihilation war against the Greek nation in Turkey and as measures hereof they have been implementing forced conversions to Islam, in obvious aim to, that if after the end of the war there again would be a question of European intervention for the protection of the Christians, there will be as few of them left as possible.[115]

On August 9, 1915, Anckarsvärd dispatched yet another report, confirming his suspicions regarding the plans of the Turkish government, "It is obvious that the Turks are taking the opportunity to, now during the war, annihilate [utplåna] the Armenian nation so that when the peace comes no Armenian question longer exists."[116]

When reflecting upon the situation in Turkey during the final stages of the war, Envoy Alhgren presented an analysis of the prevailing situation in Turkey and the hard times which had befallen the population. In explaining the increased living costs he identified a number of reasons: "obstacles for domestic trade, the almost total paralysing of the foreign trade and finally the strong decreasing of labour power, caused partly by the mobilisation but partly also by the extermination of the Armenian race [utrotandet af den armeniska rasen]."[117]

Wirsén, when writing his memoirs from his mission to the Balkans and Turkey, Minnen från fred och krig (“Memories from Peace and War”), dedicated an entire chapter to the Armenian genocide, entitled Mordet på en nation (“The Murder of a Nation”). Commenting the deportations as a result of accusing the Armenians for collaboration with the Russians, Wirsén concludes that the subsequent deportations were nothing but a cover for the extermination: "Officially, these had the goal to move the entire Armenian population to the steppe regions of Northern Mesopotamia and Syria, but in reality they aimed to exterminate [utrota] the Armenians, whereby the pure Turkish element in Asia Minor would achieve a dominating position."[118]

In conclusion, Wirsén made the following note: "The annihilation of the Armenian nation in Asia Minor must revolt all human feelings...The way the Armenian problem was solved was hair-raising. I can still see in front of me Talaat’s cynical expression, when he emphasized that the Armenian question was solved."[119]

Study of the Armenian Genocide

Historical work on the genocide has been almost entirely pro-Armenian or pro-Turkish and therefore implicated in a political conflict still unresolved today. Armenian historians seek to exorcise the trauma experienced by earlier generations, to pass on the memory of this trauma, and to present the genocide of the Armenians as the founding element of contemporary Armenian identity.

British historian Arnold Toynbee, whose 1917 report remains a critical primary source, changed his evaluation later in life, concluding, "These…Armenian political aspirations had not been legitimate....Their aspirations did not merely threaten to break up the Turkish Empire; they could not be fulfilled without doing grave injustice to the Turkish people itself."[120]

For Turkish historians, supporting the national republican myth is essential to preserving Turkish national unity. The usual Turkish argument is that the deportations were necessary because the Armenians had allied themselves with the Russian army in wartime, and argue that around 600,000 Armenians perished during the marches, largely due to isolated massacres, disease, or malnourishment.[121] "There was no genocide committed against the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire before or during World War I." [122] Dissident historians in Turkey are trying to reclaim the Armenians as part of Ottoman and Turkish history and acknowledge the wrongs done to the Armenians as a condition for reconciliation with them on the basis of confidence in Turkish national unity.[123]

Defining genocide

Hebrew University scholar Yehuda Bauer suggests of the Armenian Genocide, "This is the closest parallel to the Holocaust."[124] He nonetheless distinguishes several key differences between the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide, particularly in regard to motivation:

[T]he Nazis saw the Jews as the central problem of world history. Upon its solution depended the future of mankind. Unless International Jewry was defeated, human civilization would not survive. The attitude towards the Jews had in it important elements of pseudo-religion. There was no such motivation present in the Armenian case; Armenians were to be annihilated for power-political reasons, and in Turkey only... The differences between the holocaust and the Armenian massacres are less important than the similarities—and even if the Armenian case is not seen as a holocaust in the extreme form which it took towards Jews, it is certainly the nearest thing to it.[124]

Bauer has also suggested that the Armenian Genocide is best understood, not as having begun in 1915, but rather as "an ongoing genocide, from 1896, through 1908/9, through World War I and right up to 1923."[125] Lucy Dawidowicz also alludes to these earlier massacres as at least as significant as WWI era events:

In 1897, when the Dreyfus Affair was tearing France apart, Bernard Lazare, a French Jew active in Dreyfus's defense, addressed a group of Jewish students in Paris on the subject of anti-Semitism. "For the Christian peoples," he remarked, "an Armenian solution" to their Jew-hatred was available. He was referring to the Turkish massacres of Armenians, which in their extent and horror most closely approximated the murder of European Jews. But, Lazare went on, "their sensibilities cannot allow them to envisage that." The once unthinkable "Armenian solution" became, in our time, the achievable "Final Solution," the Nazi code name for the annihilation of the European Jews.[126]

Law professor Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term "genocide" in 1943, has stated that he did so with the fate of the Armenians in mind, explaining that "it happened so many times... First to the Armenians, then after the Armenians, Hitler took action."[127] Several international organizations have conducted studies of the events, each in turn determining that the term "genocide" aptly describes "the Ottoman massacre of Armenians in 1915–1916."[128] Among the organizations affirming this conclusion are the International Center for Transitional Justice, the International Association of Genocide Scholars, and the United Nations' Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.[128][129]

In 2002, the International Center for Transitional Justice was asked by the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission to provide a report on the applicability of the Genocide Convention to the controversy. The ICTJ report ruled that it was a genocide, and further that the Republic of Turkey was not liable for the event.[130]

In 2005, the International Association of Genocide Scholars affirmed[131] that scholarly evidence revealed the "Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire began a systematic genocide of its Armenian citizens – an unarmed Christian minority population. More than a million Armenians were exterminated through direct killing, starvation, torture, and forced death marches" and condemned Turkish attempts to deny its factual and moral reality. In 2007, the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity produced a letter signed by 53 Nobel Laureates re-affirming the Genocide Scholars' conclusion that the 1915 killings of Armenians constituted genocide.[132][133]

While some consider denial to be a form of hate speech or politically-minded historical revisionism, several western academics have expressed doubts as to the genocidal character of the events.[134][135][136] The most important counterpoint may be that of British scholar Bernard Lewis. While he had once written of "the terrible holocaust of 1915, when a million and a half Armenians perished",[137] he later came to believe that the term "genocide" was distinctly inaccurate, because the "tremendous massacres"[138] were not "a deliberate preconceived decision of the Turkish government."[139] This opinion has been joined by Guenter Lewy.[140]

Academic views within the Republic of Turkey are often at odds with international consensus: this may partly stem from the fact that to acknowledge the Armenian genocide in Turkey carries with it a risk of criminal prosecution. Many Turkish intellectuals have been prosecuted for characterizing the massacres as genocide,[141][142] including Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink, who was prosecuted three times for "denigrating Turkishness" for his having criticized the Turkish state's denial of the Armenian Genocide.[143] In 2007, Dink was murdered by a Turkish nationalist.[144] Later, photographs of the assassin being honored as a hero while in police custody, posing in front of the Turkish flag with grinning policemen,[145] gave the academic community still more pause in regard to engaging the Armenian issue.[146]

Bat Ye'or has suggested that "the genocide of the Armenians was a jihad."[147] Ye'or holds jihad and what she calls "dhimmitude" to be among the "principles and values" that led to the Armenian Genocide.[148] This perspective is challenged by Fà'iz el-Ghusein, a Bedouin Arab witness of the Armenian persecution, whose 1918 treatise aimed "to refute beforehand inventions and slanders against the Faith of Islam and against Moslems generally... [W]hat the Armenians have suffered is to be attributed to the Committee of Union and Progress... [I]t has been due to their nationalist fanaticism and their jealousy of the Armenians, and to these alone; the Faith of Islam is guiltless of their deeds."[149] Arnold Toynbee writes that "the Young Turks made Pan-Islamism and Turkish Nationalism work together for their ends, but the development of their policy shows the Islamic element receding and the Nationalist gaining ground."[150] Toynbee, and various other sources, report that many Armenians were spared death by marrying into Turkish families or converting to Islam. El-Ghusein points out that many converts were put to death, concerned that Westerners would come to regard the "extermination of the Armenians"[151] as "a black stain on the history of Islam, which ages will not efface."[152] In one instance, when an Islamic leader appealed to spare Armenian converts to Islam, El-Ghusein quotes a government functionary as responding that "politics have no religion", before sending the converts to their deaths.[151]

Noam Chomsky has suggested that, rather than the Armenian Genocide having been relegated to the periphery of public awareness, "more people are aware of the Armenian genocide during the First World War than are aware of the Indonesian genocide in 1965".[153] Taner Akcam's A Shameful Act has contextualized the Armenian Genocide with the desperate Ottoman struggle at Gallipoli, suggesting that panic of imminent destruction caused Ottoman authorities to opt for deportation and extermination.[154]

On October 10, 2009 in Zurich, despite overwhelming opposition by Armenians in Armenia and in the Diaspora, the Armenian government signed the Armenia-Turkey Protocols, one of the provisions of which stipulates the establishment of a research commission "to study the two country's historical grievances."[155] The agreement must still be ratified by the parliaments of both countries in order to take effect.

Just a day before, on 9 October 2009 in London, Geoffrey Robertson QC, eminent jurist, barrister and judge, has published a detailed legal opinion, entitled "Was there an Armenian Genocide?" which comprehensively and methodically demolished British Government's reasons for not formally recognising the Armenian Genocide.

Republic of Turkey and the Genocide

The Republic of Turkey's formal stance is that the deaths of Armenians during the "relocation" or "deportation" cannot aptly be deemed "genocide," a position that has been supported with a plethora of diverging justifications: that the killings were not deliberate or were not governmentally orchestrated, that the killings were justified because Armenians posed a Russian-sympathizing threat[156] as a cultural group, that Armenians merely starved, or any of various characterizations recalling marauding "Armenian gangs."[157][158][159] Some suggestions seek to invalidate the genocide on semantic or anachronistic grounds (the word "genocide" was not coined until 1943). Turkish World War I casualty figures are often cited to mitigate the effect of the number of Armenian dead.[160]

Turkish governmental sources have asserted that the historically-demonstrated "tolerance of Turkish people"[161] itself renders the Armenian Genocide an impossibility. One military document leverages eleventh century history to cast doubt on the Armenian Genocide: "It was the Seljuk Turks who saved the Armenians that came under the Turkish domination in 1071 from the Byzantine persecution and granted them the right to live as a man should."[161] A Der Spiegel article addressed this modern Turkish conception of history thus:

Would you admit to the crimes of your grandfathers, if these crimes didn't really happen?" asked ambassador Öymen. But the problem lies precisely in this question, says Hrant Dink, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Istanbul-based Armenian weekly Agos. Turkey's bureaucratic elite have never really shed themselves of the Ottoman tradition — in the perpetrators, they see their fathers, whose honor they seek to defend. This tradition instills a sense of identity in Turkish nationalists — both from the left and the right, and it is passed on from generation to generation through the school system. This tradition also requires an antipole against which it could define itself. Since the times of the Ottoman Empire, religious minorities have been pushed into this role.[162]

In 2005, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan invited Turkish, Armenian and international historians to form a commission to re-evaluate the "events of 1915" (his preferred description[163]) by using archives in Turkey, Armenia and other countries.[164] Armenian president Robert Kocharian rejected this offer by saying, "It is the responsibility of governments to develop bilateral relations and we do not have the right to delegate that responsibility to historians. That is why we have proposed and propose again that, without pre-conditions, we establish normal relations between our two countries."[165]}}

Additionally, Turkish foreign minister of the time, Abdullah Gül, invited the United States and other countries to contribute to such a commission by appointing scholars to "investigate this tragedy and open ways for Turks and Armenians to come together".[166] The Turkish government continues to protest against the formal recognition of the genocide by other countries and to dispute that there ever was a genocide.


Efforts by the Turkish government and its agents to quash mention of the genocide have resulted in numerous scholarly, diplomatic, political and legal controversies. Prosecutors acting on their own initiative have utilized Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code prohibiting "insulting Turkishness" to silence a number of prominent Turkish intellectuals who spoke of atrocities suffered by Armenians in the last days of the Ottoman Empire (as of yet, most of these cases have been dismissed).[167] These prosecutions have often been accompanied by hate campaigns and threats, as was the case for Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian intellectual murdered in 2007. The leading lawyer behind the prosecutions, Kemal Kerincsiz, is under investigation for complicity in the underground Ergenekon network.

In 1982, the Israeli Foreign Ministry attempted to prevent an international conference on genocide, held in Tel Aviv, from including any mention of the Armenian Genocide. Several reports suggested that Turkey had warned that Turkish Jews might face "reprisals", if the conference permitted Armenian participation.[168] This charge was "categorically denied" by Turkey;[169] the Israeli Foreign Ministry supported Turkey in this protestation that there had been no threats against Jews, suggesting that its misgivings as to the genocide conference were based on considerations "vital to the Jewish nation."[170]

A 1989 U.S. Senate proposal to recognize the Armenian Genocide stoked the ire of Turkey. The proposal occurred in the context of the publication of internal U.S. documents which laid out a State Department official's eyewitness report that "thousands and thousands of Armenians, mostly innocent and helpless women and children, were butchered", in the last days of the Ottoman Empire.[171] Turkey responded by blocking United States Navy visits to Turkey and suspending some U.S. military training facilities on Turkish territory.[171] The American scholar who assembled the U.S. archive documents for publication went into hiding after a series of anonymous threats.[171]

In 1990, psychologist Robert Jay Lifton received a letter from the Turkish Ambassador to the United States, questioning his inclusion of references to the Armenian Genocide in one of his books. The ambassador inadvertently included a draft of the letter, presented by scholar Heath W. Lowry, advising the ambassador on how to prevent mention of the Armenian Genocide in scholarly works.[172] In 1996, Lowry was named to a chair at Princeton University that had been financed by the Turkish government, sparking a debate on ethics in scholarship.[173][174]

According to some newly discovered documents that belonged to the interior minister of the Ottoman Empire, over 970,000 Ottoman Armenians disappeared from official population records from 1915 through 1916. These documents have been published in a recent book titled The Remaining Documents of Talat Pasha written by the Turkish historian Murat Bardakçı (aka "Talat Pasha's Black Book"). The book is a collection of documents and records that once belonged to Mehmed Talat, known as Talat Pasha, the primary architect of the Armenian deportations. The documents were given to Mr. Bardakçi by Mr. Talat’s widow, Hayriye, in 1983. According to the documents, the number of Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire before 1915 stood at 1,256,000. The number plunged to 284,157 two years later in 1917.[175]

Armenia and the Genocide

Armenia has been involved in a protracted ethnic-territorial conflict with Azerbaijan, a Turkic state, since Azerbaijan became independent from the Soviet Union in 1991. The conflict has featured several pogroms, massacres, and waves of ethnic cleansing, by both sides. Some foreign policy observers and historians have suggested that Armenia and the Armenian diaspora have sought to portray the modern conflict as a continuation of the Armenian Genocide, in order to influence modern policy-making in the region.[176][177] According to Thomas Ambrosio, the Armenian Genocide furnishes "a reserve of public sympathy and moral legitimacy that translates into significant political influence... to elicit congressional support for anti-Azerbaijan policies."[176]

The rhetoric leading up to the onset of the conflict, which unfolded in the context of several pogroms of Armenians, was dominated by references to the Armenian Genocide, including fears that it would be, or was in the course of being, repeated.[178][179] During the conflict, the Azeri and Armenian governments regularly accused each other of genocidal intent, although these claims have been treated skeptically by outside observers.[177]

Recognition of the Genocide

Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Resolution, April 24, 1998

"Today we commemorate the anniversary of what has been called the first genocide of the 20th century, and we salute the memory of the Armenian victims of this crime against humanity"[9].

As a response to the continuing denial of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish State, many activists among Armenian Diaspora communities have pushed for formal recognition of the Armenian genocide from various governments around the world. 20 countries and 42 U.S. states have adopted resolutions acknowledging the Armenian Genocide as a bona fide historical event. On March 4, 2010, a US congressional panel narrowly voted that the incident was indeed genocide; within minutes the Turkish government issued a statement critical of "this resolution which accuses the Turkish nation of a crime it has not committed."

Cultural loss

The premeditated destruction of objects of Armenian cultural, religious, historical and communal heritage was yet another key purpose of both the genocide itself and the post-genocidal campaign of denial. Armenian churches and monasteries were destroyed, Armenian cemeteries flattened, and, in several cities (e.g. Van), Armenian quarters were demolished.[180]

In 1914, the Armenian Patriarch in Constantinople presented a list of the Armenian holy sites under his supervision. The list contained 2,549 religious places of which 200 were monasteries while 1,600 were churches. In 1974 UNESCO stated that after 1923, out of 913 Armenian historical monuments left in Eastern Turkey, 464 have vanished completely, 252 are in ruins, and 197 are in need of repair (in stable conditions).[181][182]



Over 135 memorials, spread across 25 countries, commemorate the Armenian Genocide.[183]

In 1965, the 50th anniversary of the genocide, a 24-hour mass protest was initiated in Yerevan demanding recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Soviet authorities. The memorial was completed two years later, at Tsitsernakaberd above the Hrazdan gorge in Yerevan. The 44 metres (144 ft) stele symbolizes the national rebirth of Armenians. Twelve slabs are positioned in a circle, representing 12 lost provinces in present day Turkey. At the center of the circle there is an eternal flame. Each April 24, hundreds of thousands of people walk to the genocide monument and lay flowers around the eternal flame.

Another memorial, at Alfortville, Paris, was bombed on May 3, 1984, by a hit-team headed by Grey Wolves member Abdullah Çatlı and paid by the Turkish intelligence agency (MİT).[184]


The earliest example of the Armenian genocide on art was a medal issued in St. Petersburg, signifying Russian sympathy for Armenian suffering. It was struck in 1915, as the massacres and deportations were still raging. Since then, dozens of medals in different countries have been commissioned to commemorate the event.[185]

Several eyewitness accounts of the events were published, notably those of Swedish missionary Alma Johansson and U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr. German medic Armin Wegner wrote several books about the events he witnessed while stationed in the Ottoman Empire. Years later, having returned to Germany, Wegner was imprisoned for opposing Nazism,[186] and his books were subjected to Nazi book burnings.[187] Probably the best known literary work on the Armenian Genocide is Franz Werfel's 1933 The Forty Days of Musa Dagh. It was a bestseller that became particularly popular among the youth of the Jewish ghettos during the Nazi era.[188]

Kurt Vonnegut's 1988 novel Bluebeard features the Armenian Genocide as an underlying theme. Other novels incorporating the Armenian Genocide include Louis de Berniéres' Birds without Wings, Edgar Hilsenrath's German-language The Story of the Last Thought, and Polish Stefan Żeromski's 1925 The Spring to Come. A story in Edward Saint-Ivan's 2006 anthology "The Black Knight's God" includes a fictional survivor of the Armenian Genocide.

The first film about the Armenian Genocide appeared in 1919, a Hollywood production entitled Ravished Armenia. It resonated with acclaimed director Atom Egoyan, influencing his 2002 Ararat. There are also references in Elia Kazan's America, America or Henri Verneuil's Mayrig. At the Berlin Film Festival of 2007 Italian directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani presented another film about the events, based on Antonia Arslan's book, La Masseria Delle Allodole (The Farm of the Larks).[189] Richard Kalinoski's play, Beast on the Moon, is about two Armenian Genocide survivors.

Arshile Gorky's The Artist and His Mother (ca. 1926–1936)

The paintings of Armenian-American Arshile Gorky, a seminal figure of Abstract Expressionism, were often speculated to have been informed by the suffering and loss of the period.[190] In 1915, at age 10, Gorky fled his native Van and escaped to Russian-Armenia with his mother and three sisters, only to have his mother die of starvation in Yerevan in 1919. His The Artist and His Mother painting is based on a photograph with his mother taken in Armenia before his mother's passing.

In 1975, famous French-Armenian singer Charles Aznavour recorded the song "Ils sont tombés" ("They Fell"), dedicated to the memory of Armenian Genocide victims.[191]

American composer and singer Daniel Decker has achieved critical acclaim for his collaborations with Armenian composer Ara Gevorgyan. The song "Adana", named for the province of a 1909 pogrom of the Armenian people, tells the story of the Armenian Genocide. "Adana" has been translated into 17 languages and recorded by singers around the world.[192]

The American band System of a Down, composed of four descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors, has promoted awareness of the Armenian Genocide, through its lyrics and concerts.[193]

In late 2003, Diamanda Galás released the album Defixiones, Will and Testament: Orders from the Dead, an 80-minute memorial tribute to the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek victims of the genocide in Turkey. "The performance is an angry meditation on genocide and the politically cooperative denial of it, in particular the Turkish and American denial of the Armenian, Assyrian, and Anatolian Greek genocides from 1914 to 1923".[194]

Documentary films

On April 17, 2006 The Armenian Genocide documentary premiered nationwide in the U.S. on PBS TV



Images from the genocide

Demographics and maps

See also


  1. ^ United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, July 2, 1985.
  2. ^ See Levon Marashlian. Politics and Demography: Armenians, Turks, and Kurds in the Ottoman Empire. Cambridge, Mass.: Zoryan Institute, 1991.
  3. ^ Samuel Totten, Paul Robert Bartrop, Steven L. Jacobs (eds.) Dictionary of Genocide. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008, ISBN 0313346429, p. 19.
  4. ^ Noël, Lise. Intolerance: A General Survey. Arnold Bennett, 1994, ISBN 0773511873, p. 101.
  5. ^ Schaefer, T (ed.). Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, 2008, p. 90.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Massacres, Resistance, Protectors: Muslim-christian Relations in Eastern Anatolia During World War I By David Gaunt
  8. ^ Schaller, Dominik J. and Zimmerer, Jürgen (2008) "Late Ottoman genocides: the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and Young Turkish population and extermination policies – introduction." Journal of Genocide Research, 10(1): 7–14.
  9. ^ a b Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Resolution, April 24, 1998.
  10. ^ Ferguson, Niall. The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West. New York: Penguin Press, 2006, p. 177. ISBN 1-5942-0100-5.
  11. ^ A Letter from The International Association of Genocide Scholars.
  12. ^ "Senate Resolution 106 — Calling on the President to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to Human Rights, Ethnic Cleansing, and Genocide Documented in the United States Record relating to the Armenian Genocide". Library of Congress. 
  13. ^ See: Wiktionary definition of genocide
  14. ^ Coined by Raphael Lemkin, 1943; Hyde, Jennifer (2008-12-02), Polish Jew gave his life defining, fighting genocide, CNN,, retrieved 2008-12-02 .
  15. ^ a b Rummel R. J. "The Holocaust in Comparative and Historical Perspective". The Journal of Social Issues. Volume 3, no.2. April 1, 1998. Retrieved April 30, 2007.
  16. ^ BBC News Europe (2006-10-12). "Q&A: Armenian 'genocide'". BBC News. Retrieved 2006-12-29. 
  17. ^ Kamiya, Gary. "Genocide: An inconvenient truth." Salon. October 16, 2007.
  18. ^ Letter from the International Association of Genocide Scholars to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, June 13, 2005.
  19. ^ Jaschik, Scott. Genocide Deniers. History News Network. October 10, 2007.
  20. ^ Kifner, John. "Armenian Genocide of 1915: An Overview." The New York Times.
  21. ^ Akcam, Taner. A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006 p. 24. ISBN 0-8050-7932-7.
  22. ^ Dadrian, Vahakn N. The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus. Oxford: Berghahn Books, 1995, p. 192. ISBN 1-5718-1666-6.
  23. ^ a b Akcam. A Shameful Act. p. 36.
  24. ^ Akcam. A Shameful Act. pp. 35ff.
  25. ^ Akcam. A Shameful Act. p. 37.
  26. ^ Article 16 stated that "As the evacuation of the Russian troops of the territory they occupy in Armenia ... might give rise to conflicts and complications detrimental to the maintenance of good relations between the two countries, the Sublime Porte engaged to carry into effect, without further delay, the improvements and reforms demanded by local requirements in the provinces inhabited by Armenians and to guarantee their security from Kurds and Circassians."
  27. ^ Akcam. A Shameful Act. p. 38.
  28. ^ Balakian, Peter. The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response. New York: HarperCollins, 2003. p. 40 ISBN 0-0601-9840-0.
  29. ^ Akcam. A Shameful Act. pp. 40–42.
  30. ^ Balakian. The Burning Tigris, pp. 57–58.
  31. ^ The German Foreign Ministry operative, Ernst Jackh, estimated that 200,000 Armenians were killed and a further 50,000 expelled from the provinces during the Hamidian unrest. French diplomats placed the figures to 250,000 killed. The German pastor Johannes Lepsius was more meticulous in his calculations, counting the deaths of 88,000 Armenians and the destruction of 2,500 villages, 645 churches and monasteries, and the plundering of hundreds of churches, of which 328 were converted into mosques.
  32. ^ Akcam. A Shameful Act. p. 42.
  33. ^ Balakian. The Burning Tigris. pp. 35, 115.
  34. ^ Balakian. The Burning Tigris. pp. 140–141.
  35. ^ Balakian. The Burning Tigris. pp. 143–144.
  36. ^ Akcam. A Shameful Act. pp. 68–69.
  37. ^ Anon. (1909-04-28). "Days of horror described; American missionary an eyewitness of murder and rapine.". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  38. ^ Akcam. A Shameful Act, p. 69.
  39. ^ unnamed (1909-04-25). "30,000 Killed in massacres; Conservative estimate of victims of Turkish fanaticism in Adana Vilayet". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  40. ^ Balakian. The Burning Tigris, p. 200.
  41. ^ Toynbee, Arnold. Armenian Atrocities: The Murder of a Nation. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1915, pp. 181–182.
  42. ^ Balakian. The Burning Tigris, p. 178.
  43. ^ a b Balakian. The Burning Tigris. p. 202ff.
  44. ^ Morgenthau, Henry (1918). Ambassador Morgenthau's Story. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. p. 298.
  45. ^ Hinterhoff, Eugene. Persia: The Stepping Stone To India. Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of World War I, vol iv. pp. 1153–1157. 
  46. ^ Dadrian. History of the Armenian Genocide, p. 220.
  47. ^ Balakian. The Burning Tigris, pp. 211–212.
  48. ^ Yair Auron, The Banality of Indifference: Zionism and the Armenian Genocide. New Brunswick, N.J., 2000, pp. 181, 183.
  49. ^ British Foreign Office 371/2781/264888, Appendices B., p. 6.
  50. ^ published in Takvimi Vekayi, No. 3540, May 5, 1919.
  51. ^ McClure, Samuel S. Obstacles to Peace. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1917. pp. 400–401.
  52. ^ April 11, 1919 report. U.S. National Archives. R.G. 59. 867. 4016/411.
  53. ^ Toronto Globe, August 26, 1915.
  54. ^ Takvimi Vekdyi, No. 3616, August 6, 1919, p. 2.
  55. ^ Cipher telegram, July 12, 1916. U.S. National Archives, R.G. 59.867.48/356.
  56. ^ Lifton, Robert Jay. Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, New York: Basic Books, 1986, p. xii:.
  57. ^ Dadrian, Vahakn N. "The Turkish Military Tribunal’s Prosecution of the Authors of the Armenian Genocide: Four Major Court-Martial Series." Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 11(1), 1997, pp. 28-59.
  58. ^ Genocide Study Project, H. F. Guggenheim Foundation, published in The Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Volume 11, Number 1, Spring 1997.
  59. ^ Session 3, p.m., 1 April 1919 Constantinople newspaper Renaissance, 27 April 1919.
  60. ^ See Vahakn N. Dadrian, "The Role of Turkish Physicians in the World War I Genocide of Ottoman Armenians." The Holocaust and Genocide Studies 1, no. 2 (1986), pp. 169–192.
  61. ^ Türkce Istanbul, No. 45, 23 December 1918.
  62. ^ Renaissance, 26 December 1918.
  63. ^ Baron, Jeremy Hugh. "Genocidal Doctors." Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. November, 1999, 92, pp. 590–593.
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  66. ^ Y. Bayur. Turk Inkilabz. vol. III, part 3, cited in Dadrian. History of the Armenian Genocide.
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  68. ^ Fisk, Robert. The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East. New York: Alfred Knopf, 2005. pp. 329-331. ISBN 1-84115-007-X.
  69. ^ Fromkin, David. A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East. New York: Avon Books, 1989, pp. 212-213. ISBN 0-8050-6884-8.
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  73. ^ "Armenians are sent to perish in desert; Turks accused of plan to exterminate whole population; people of Karahissar massacred". New York Times. August 18, 1915. Retrieved 2007-09-16. 
  74. ^ Dadrian. History of the Armenian Genocide, p. 350.
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  80. ^ a b Guenter Lewy (Fall 2005). "Revisiting the Armenian Genocide". Middle East Quarterly. 
  81. ^ Dadrian, Vahakn (November 1991). "The Documentation of the World War I Armenian Massacres in the Proceedings of the Turkish Military Tribunal". International Journal of Middle East Studies 23 (4): 549–76 (560). 
  82. ^ R. J. Rummel. "Genocide never again (book 5)" (PDF). Llumina Press. 
  83. ^ Türkei By Klaus-Detlev. Grothusen.
  84. ^ "French in Armenia 'genocide' row". BBC News (BBC). 2006-10-12. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
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  88. ^ Ferguson. War of the World, p. 177.
  89. ^ 1915 declaration
  90. ^ Sixty-Sixth Congress. Sess. I. Ch. 32. 1919 August 6, 1919. [S. 180.] [Public No. 25] District of Columbia, Near East Relief incorporated.
  91. ^ "Would Send Here 550,000 Armenians; Morgenthau Urges Scheme to Save Them From Turks." New York Times, September 13, 1915.
  92. ^ Balakian. The Burning Tigris, pp. 282–5.
  93. ^ See Merrill D. Peterson, "Starving Armenians": America and the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1930 and After. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2004.
  94. ^ Morgenthau. Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, p. 309.
  95. ^ See, for example, James L. Barton, Turkish Atrocities: Statements of American Missionaries on the Destruction of Christian Communities in Ottoman Turkey, 1915–1917. Gomidas Institute, 1998, ISBN 1-8846-3004-9.
  96. ^ Suzanne E. Moranian. “The Armenian Genocide and American Missionary Relief Efforts,” in America and the Armenian Genocide of 1915, edited by Jay Winter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004,
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  98. ^ Oren, Michael B (2007). Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. p. 336. ISBN 0-3933-3030-3. 
  99. ^ The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-1916: Documents Presented to Viscount Grey of Falloden by Viscount Bryce, James Bryce and Arnold Toynbee, Uncensored Edition. Ara Safarian (ed.) Princeton, N.J.: Gomidas Institute, 2000. ISBN 0-9535-1915-5
  100. ^ Dadrian. History of the Armenian Genocide, p. 228.
  101. ^ Dadrian. History of the Armenian Genocide, pp. 228–9.
  102. ^ Fisk. Great War for Civilisation, p. 329.
  103. ^ B. Ye'or, The Dhimmi. The Jews and Christians under Islam, Trans. from the French by D. Maisel P. Fenton and D. Liftman, Cranbury, N.J.: Frairleigh Dickinson University, 1985. p. 95.
  104. ^ Fromkin. A Peace to End All Peace, p. 212.
  105. ^ Fisk. Great War for Civilisation, p. 326.
  106. ^ Balakian. Burning Tigris, p. 186.
  107. ^ Fromkin. A Peace to End All Peace, p. 213.
  108. ^ Auswärtiges Amt, West German Foreign Office Archives, K170, no. 4674, folio 63, cited in Balakian. The Burning Tigris, p. 186.
  109. ^ Fisk. Great War for Civilisation, pp. 329–30.
  110. ^ Morgenthau. Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, p. 375.
  111. ^ Fisk. Great War for Civilisation, p. 331.
  112. ^ Massacre By Turks In Caucasus Towns; Armenians Led Out Into the Streets and Shot or Drowned -- Old Friends Not Spared.
  113. ^ New York Times Dispatch. Russians Slaughter Turkish IIIrd Army: Give No Quarter to Men Held Responsible for the Massacre of Armenians. New York Times, March 6, 1916.
  114. ^ Avedian, Vahagn, The Armenian Genocide 1915: From a Neutral Small State's Perspective: Sweden, Master Thesis Paper, History Department, Uppsala University, 2008, p. 39.
  115. ^ Avedian, Vahagn, The Armenian Genocide 1915: From a Neutral Small State's Perspective: Sweden, p. 40.
  116. ^ Avedian, Vahagn, The Armenian Genocide 1915: From a Neutral Small State's Perspective: Sweden, p. 41.
  117. ^ Avedian, Vahagn, "'The Armenian Genocide 1915: From a Neutral Small State's Perspective: Sweden'", p. 52.
  118. ^ Avedian, Vahagn, The Armenian Genocide 1915: From a Neutral Small State's Perspective: Sweden, p. 28.
  119. ^ Avedian, Vahagn, The Armenian Genocide 1915: From a Neutral Small State's Perspective: Sweden, p. 29.
  120. ^ Quoted in Gunter, Pursuing the Just Cause (1986) p. 16.
  121. ^ Papazian, Dennis. Useful Answers to Frequent Questions on the Armenian Genocide.
  122. ^ Statements by the Assembly of Turkish American Associations, 1982, quoted in Gunter (1986) p. 18
  123. ^ Lucette Valensi, "Notes on Two Discordant Histories: Armenia During World War I." Mediterranean Historical Review 2001 16(1): 49-60. Issn: 0951-8967; James Reid, "The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman and Turkish Historiography." Armenian Review 1984 37(1): 22-40. Issn: 0004-2366
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  129. ^ Armeniapedia: International Center for Transitional Justice.
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  131. ^ "Letter to Prime Minister Erdogan". Genocide Watch. 2005-06-13. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 
  132. ^ Danielyan, Emil (2007-04-10). "Nobel Laureates Call For Armenian-Turkish Reconciliation". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 
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  141. ^ Nouritza Matossian (2005-02-27). "They say 'incident'. To me it's genocide". The Observer.,6903,1426319,00.html. Retrieved 2007-02-24. 
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  145. ^ Samast'a jandarma karakolunda kahraman muamelesi, Radikal, 2007-02-02.
  146. ^ "IPI Deplores Callous Murder of Journalist in Istanbul". International Press Institute. 2007-01-22. Retrieved 2007-01-24. 
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Further reading

  • Adalian, Rouben Paul. "The Armenian Genocide," in William S. Parsons and Israel W. Charny, eds. Century of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts. (2004), ch 2 online edition
  • Adalian, Rouben P. Historical Dictionary of Armenia (2002).
  • Ahnert, Margaret Ajemian. The Knock at the Door: A Journey Through the Darkness of Armenian Genocide. Beaufort Books 2007. 240 pp
  • Akçam, Taner. A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility (2007) excerpt and text search
  • Andreopoulos, George J., ed. Genocide: Conceptual and Historical Dimensions. 1994. 265 pp. Compares Armenia with Cambodia, East Timor and Kurdistan.
  • Bloxham, Donald. The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism, and the Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians (2005), scholarly history of the wartime massacres; 344 pages excerpt and text search
  • Bloxham, Donald. "Rethinking the Armenian Genocide." History Today 2005 55(6): 28-30. Issn: 0018-2753 Fulltext: Ebsco
  • Dadrian, Vahakn N. "Patterns of Twentieth Century Genocides: the Armenian, Jewish, and Rwandan Cases." Journal of Genocide Research 2004 6(4): 487-522. Issn: 1462-3528 Fulltext: Ebsco
  • Dadrian, Vahakn, N. The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus (1997) online edition
  • Dadrian, Vahakn N. Warrant for Genocide: Key Elements of Turko-Armenian Conflict. 1999. 214 pp.
  • Dadrian, Vahakn, N. * Herzig, Edmund, and Marina Kurkchiyan. The Armenians: Past and Present in the Making of National Identity (2005) online edition
  • Hovannisian, Richard G. ed. The Armenian Genocide in Perspective. (1986), important essays by scholars; excerpt and text search
  • Hovannisian, Richard G. ed. The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times. Vol. 2: Foreign Dominion to Statehood: The Fifteenth Century to the Twentieth Century. 1997. 493 pp.
  • Mann, Michael. The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing (2004), ch 5 and 6
  • Melson, Robert, Revolution and Genocide. On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust, The University of Chicago Press, 1996
  • Panossian, Razmik. The Armenians: From Kings and Priests to Merchants and Commissars. 2006. 442 pp.
  • Papazian, Bertha S. The Tragedy of Armenia: A Brief Study and Interpretation (1919) full text online
  • Somakian, Manoug Joseph. Empires in Conflict: Armenia and the Great Powers, 1895-1920. 1995. 276 pp.

World responses

  • Anderson, Margaret Lavinia. "Down in Turkey, far away': Human Rights, the Armenian Massacres, and Orientalism in Wilhelmine Germany," Journal of Modern History Volume 79, Number 1, March 2007, pp 80-111
  • Balakian, Peter. The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response. New York: HarperCollins, (2003). 475 pp excerpt and text search
  • Hovannisian, Richard G. "The Allies and Armenia, 1915-18." Journal of Contemporary History 1968 3(1): 145-168. Issn: 0022-0094 Fulltext: in Jstor
  • Libaridian, Gerard. "The Ideology of the Young Turk Movement," pp. 37-49. In Gerard Libaridian (Ed.) A Crime of Silence, The Armenian Genocide: Permanent Peoples' Tribunal. (London: Zed Books, 1985).
  • Nassibian, Akaby Britain and the Armenian Question: 1915-1923. (1984).
  • Power, Samantha. "A Problem from Hell": America and the Age of Genocide. Harper, 2003
  • Peterson, Merrill D. "Starving Armenians": America and the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1930 and After. (2004). 199 pp.
  • Severance, Gordon and Diana Severance. Against the Gates of Hell: The Life & Times of Henry Perry, a Christian Missionary in a Moslem World (2003)
  • Winter, Jay, ed. America and the Armenian Genocide of 1915 (2004), 325pp excerpts and text search


  • Auron, Yair. The Banality of Denial: Israel and the Armenian Genocide (2005)
  • Dyer, Gwynne. "Turkish ‘Falsifiers’ and Armenian ‘Deceivers’: Historiography and the Armenian Massacres," Middle Eastern Studies 12 (January 1976), pp. 99–107.
  • Gunter, Michael M. Pursuing the Just Cause of Their People: A Study of Contemporary Armenian Terrorism (1986) online edition
  • Hovannisian, Richard G., ed. Remembrance and Denial: The Case of the Armenian Genocide. 1999. 316 pp.
  • Peroomian, Rubina. Literary Responses to Catastrophe: A Comparison of the Armenian and the Jewish Experience (1993), focus on work of Armenian authors: Zabel Esayan (1878-1943), Suren Partevian (1876-1921), Aram Andonian (1875-1952), and Hakob Oshakan (1883-1948).
  • Ravitch, Norman. The Armenian Catastrophe: Of History, Murder & Sin," Encounter, December 1981, pp. 69–84.

Primary sources

  • Davis, Leslie A. The Slaughterhouse Province: An American Diplomat's Report on the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1917. (New Rochelle, NY: Aristide D. Caratzas, Publisher, 1989).
  • Kirakossian, Arman J. ed. The Armenian Massacres, 1894-1896: U.S. Media Testimony (2004), 317 pp
  • Miller, Donald E. and Miller, Lorna Touryan, eds. Survivors: An Oral History of the Armenian Genocide. 1993. 242 pp.
  • Morgenthau, Henry. Ambassador Morgethau's Story (1918), detailed report by U.S. Ambassador to Turkey full text online
  • Ohandjanian, Artem, ed. The Armenian Genocide, Volume 2 Documentation. (Munich: Institute fur Armenische Fragen 1988).
  • Sanasarian, Eliz. "Gender Distinction in the Genocide Process: A Preliminary Study of the Armenian Case." Holocaust and Genocide Studies, (1989) 4(4):449-61.
  • Toynbee, Arnold Joseph. The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire (1916) 736 pages; also known as the Bryce Report or Bryce-Toynbee Blue Book. full text online

Online resources

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The Armenian Genocide (also known as the Armenian Holocaust or Armenian Massacre) refers to the mass relocation and related deaths of Armenians during the Young Turks government of the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1917.


It may look amazing, but the reality that what happened in 1915 was a mass murder was accepted by everybody having lived in that period, and was never the object of an argument... ~ Taner Akçam
Quotations arranged alphabetically by author
  • It may look amazing, but the reality that what happened in 1915 was a mass murder was accepted by everybody having lived in that period, and was never the object of an argument. Of course the word soykirim [genocide] (being a term belonging to the post World War II period) was not used in those days. To describe what had happened in 1915, words such as "katliam" [massacre], "taktil" [killings], "teb'id" [taking away, expulsion, expelling], "kital" [massacre] were used. Mustafa Kemal has dozens of speeches in which he defines the treatments reserved to Armenians as "cowardice", or "barbarity", and names these treatments "massacre". In September 1919, the American General Harbord, who visited Mustafa Kemal in Sivas, says "he, too, disapproved the Armenian Massacre." According to Mustafa Kemal, "the massacre and deportation of Armenians was the work of a small committee who had seized the power."
The real story can never be told. It is untellable. ~ William Saroyan
  • What I want to explain is the following: the fact that what happened in 1915 was a mass murder was not even the subject of an argument in any manner from the viewpoint of the actors of that period, with Mustafa Kemal at their head. The main discussion of that period was organized around the axis of the deliberations of Paris, and it was about how the "Turks" should be punished for the Armenian Massacre. To put the criminals on trial was one form of punishment. Another form was the partition of Anatolia. That is, the Western Powers were hiding their imperial ambitions mainly behind the reality of Armenians having been killed. Mustafa Kemal and his friends accepted the reality that those responsible of the massacre should be punished, but opposed that this punishment be in the form of the partition of Anatolia. Today, rather than producing lies and legends, if we make the position of Mustafa Kemal on this subject our departure point, and continue our discussion from there, we shall have covered a fairly long distance.
    • Taner Akçam, historian and sociologist, in "1915 Legends and Realities" in the Turkish daily "Radikal" (25 May 2003) as translated by Dikran D./Anna K. Piranian
  • A discussion of the Armenian Genocide could reveal that this Turkish state was not a result of a war fought against the imperial powers, but, on the contrary, a product of the war against the Greek and Armenian minorities. It could show that a significant part of the National Forces consisted either of murderers who directly participated in the Armenian Genocide or of thieves who had become rich by plundering Armenian possessions.
    • Taner Akçam, historian and sociologist in The Genocide of Armenians and the silence of the Turks
  • I would like to ask a very simple, ordinary question. Would you wish to be an Armenian in 1915? No, you wouldn't. Because now you know you would have been killed. Please stop arguing about the number of murdered or the denials or the attempts to replace pain with statistics. No one is denying that Armenians were murdered, right? It may be 300,000, or 500,000, or 1.5 million. I don't know which number is the truth, or whether anyone knows the true number accurately. What I do know is the existence of the death and pain beyond these numbers. ...we are talking about human beings. When we hear about a baby pulled from a mother's hands to be dashed on the rocks, or a youth shot to death beside a hill, or an old woman throttled by her slender neck, even the hard-hearted among us will be ashamed to say, 'Yes, but these people killed the Turks.' Most of these people did not kill anyone. These people became the innocent victims of a crazed government powered by murder, pitiless but also totally incompetent in governing. This bloody insanity was a barbarism, not something for us to take pride in or be part of. This was a slaughter that we should be ashamed of, and, if possible, something that we can sympathize with and share the pain. What is more important for me is the fact that many innocent people were killed so barbarically. When I see the shadow of this bloody event on the present world, I see a greater injustice done to the Armenians. I have nothing in common with the terrible sin of the past Ittihadists, but the sin of not allowing grief for the dead belongs to all of us today. Do you really want to commit this sin? Hundreds of thousands of human beings were murdered. Hundreds of thousands of lives snuffed out. The fact that some Armenian gangs murdered some Turks cannot be an excuse to mask the truth that hundreds of thousands of Armenians were murdered. A human being of conscience is capable of grieving for the Armenians, as well as the Turks, as well as the Kurds. We all should. Babies died; women and old people died. They died in pain, tormented, terrified. Is it really so important what religion or race these murdered people had? Even in these terrifying times there were Turks who risked their lives trying to rescue Armenian children. We are the children of these rescuers, as well as the children of the murderers. Instead of justifying and arguing on behalf of the murderers, why don't we praise and defend the rescuers' compassion, honesty, and courage? There are no more victims left to be rescued today, but there is a grief, a pain, to be shared and supported. If nothing moves in you when you hear a baby wail as her mother is murdered, I have nothing to say to you. Then add my name to the list of "traitors." Because I am ready to share the grief and pain with the Armenians. Because I still believe there is something yet to be rescued from all these meaningless and pitiless arguments, and that something is called 'humanity.'
  • I was condemned by the Turkish authorities for condemning and recognizing the genocide. I spent the years of 1985-1987 in Istanbul's jail as a political prisoner together with my wife and newborn child...Turkey's whole intelligentsia is now in shame for distorting the historical reality and not recognizing the Armenian Genocide...I am here today to declare that I assume historical responsibility. Recognition for me is not only a moral but also political and public matter, because as German Bernhard Schlink says: "The one who lives in peace with the criminal also becomes responsible...I am grateful to you also for allowing me, a man representing a society that committed crimes, to remember and pay homage to the memory of every victim and to ponder about the disgrace and dishonor of my nation. I dream that every Armenian who lost his or her ancestor during the years of the genocide will return and find a secure place in the country that is called Turkey today. I hope that my dreams will come true. If it is fulfilled, and that must be fulfilled, at that time I will apply for Turkish citizenship and will say: I am yours. And I am here again."
    • Dogan Aqhanla, Turkish author and human rights activist, speaking at Armenian Genocide commemoration Berlin Germany (24 April 2005)
  • Surely a few Armenians aided and abetted our enemy, and a few Armenian Deputies committed crimes against the Turkish nation... it is incumbent upon a government to pursue the guilty ones. Unfortunately, our wartime leaders, imbued with a spirit of brigandage, carried out the law of deportation in a manner that could surpass the proclivities of the most bloodthirsty bandits. They decided to exterminate the Armenians, and they did exterminate them.
  • These left-overs from the former Young Turk Party, who should have been made to account for the millions of our Christian subjects who were ruthlessly driven en masse from their homes and massacred, have been restive under the Republican rule.
  • You Armenians... never forgot where you live... you accursed ones have brought many perils on the head of our esteemed government... paved the way for foreign assault... You must know that the Young Turks have awakened now... Turkish youth... shall not delay the execution of their assigned duties... The Turkish sword to date has cut down millions of giavours, nor has it lost its intention to cut millions more hereafter. Know this that the Turks have committed themselves, and have vowed to subdue and to clean up the Armenian giavours who have become tubercular microbes for us.
    • Huseyin Azmi, Director General of the Istanbul Police, in two letters to the Armenian Patriarch in Istanbul (12 November 1913)
  • Jamal Pasha [then Turkish military ruler in Palestine] planned from the outset to destroy the entire Hebrew settlement in Eretz Yisrael, exactly as they did the Armenians in Armenia
    • David Ben-Gurion, in a letter to his father from 1919, as reported by Yair Auron in The Banality of Indifference: Zionism and the Armenian Genocide - p 325
  • [What actually happened in 1915-16] was no accident, this was not a marginal or small thing, it was not a geographically or demographically limited thing, virtually the entirety of Ottoman Armenians has been ordered to be rounded up, socially deracinated, uprooted, dispossesses, and deported for no reason other than that they were Armenians and, secondly, that there was very strong evidence that the accompanied violence and massacres had not started spontaneously or despite the best intentions of the state to protect the convoys of the deportees. Rather, there was strong evidence to the effect that there were orders issued, disseminated, and executed through the Teşkilât-ı Mahsusa and that this in turn triggered secondary and tertiary rounds of violence and massacres once it became clear that the Armenians were fair game and that the shooting season was open on them. It fits the clauses of the 1948 UN convention [on genocide] comprehensively, and in that light, if we are permitted to take those categorizations and apply them to an event that occurred 33 years earlier, then we have to say, "Yes, it was genocide"
    • Halil Berktay - The Specter of the Armenian Genocide - An Interview with Halil Bektay - by Katchig Mouradian (1 November 2005)
  • At that time (1915) there were 1 million and 750 thousand Armenians living in Eastern Anatolia. The deportation order issued by the ruling military triumvirate was drawn up so as to include all the Armenians in the region, without exception. These things are documented in writing. There was no mention of massacres or slaughter. The provincial governors and garrison commanders were directed to deport the Armenians to the region south of Turkey's current borders. However, it's clear that, in addition to these official orders, separate, non-written orders were given to the most rapacious members of the "Teskilat-i Mahsusa" ["Special Organization"], who worshipped violence and were not bound by adherence to any normal moral code. Those who issued these orders had them carried out via a special organization, the Teskilat-i Mahsusa... It is clear that Bahaettin Sakir, who operated as the Teskilat-i Mahsusa's man for Enver, Cemal, and Talat, set up death squads in the region. Some of these people were convicted criminals who were saved from the gallows and released from prison just to carry out such activities... The whole affair is that simple and clear. In addition to them, Turkish and Kurdish tribes also attacked the convoys of Armenians being deported. In addition to these actual massacres, there were the terrible losses caused by the deportations carred out in appalling conditions of deprivation. Everywhere in the Western world, there are photographs of these incidents which we can't bear to look at. The first time I encountered these visual records, I cried and could hardly breathe for several minutes. They are no different from the images of the concentration camps, or the massacres in Africa. For there are huge numbers of people in these pictures.
    • Halil Berktay, specialist in Turkish history of the 19th and 20th centuries, has taught at Harvard University, the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, and Bogazici (Bosporus) University in Istanbul, from an interview published in the Turkish newspaper Radikal (9 October 2000)
  • By 1912-13, and especially after the traumatic Balkan wars, the unionist leadership had already acquired a comprehensive ethnic cleansing mentality. They had arrived at the crystallization of their own version of Social Darwinistic, violent, anxious, and, therefore, malicious and malevolent unionist nationalism. That is to say, it was their ideology that was telling them "we cannot have a patriotic self defense unless and until we have an Anatolia that has been comprehensively Turkified." That is to say, they had acquired a nationalist ideological perspective of regarding all non-Turks as suspect, hostile elements. It was this ideology that led to the tehcir and the accompanying orders. It was this ideology, in turn, which lead to the horrors of 1915... it was the Ottoman state versus all Armenians. It was state declaring war on its subjects.
    • Halil Berktay , in "Specter of the Armenian Genocide - An Interview with Halil Bektay" by Katchig Mouradian (1 November 2005)
  • All that I have seen and heard surpasses all imagination. Speaking of "thousand and one horrors" is very little in this case, I thought I was passing through a part of hell... everywhere it is the same Governmental barbarism which aims at the systematic annihilation through starvation of the survivors of the Armenian nation in Turkey.
    • August Bernau, Aleppo Agent of the Vacuum Oil Company of New York, September 10, 1916 US State Department Record Group 59, 867.4016/302
  • One of the expressions of Cetin Altan that I like the most is "the propaganda of Turks aiming at Turks." On all international issues, we very much like to propagandize to each other — a propaganda which is not based on realities. On the issue of the "so-called genocide," too, we like very much to propagandize to ourselves. First of all, we start by indicating that the allegation is about a "so-called" genocide. ...the Council of the Higher Education, YOK...sent a series of instructions to university rectors and deans and aimed to begin to train educators on this issue. YOK would determine in advance what and how scientists would think about the "Armenian Deportation," and the latter would work in the light of that. There you are — a scientific study in the Turkish style! was decided by the Commission of the Instruction and Education that the subjects relating to the Armenian, Pontus Greek and Assyrian allegations...are groundless. ...every effort will be made so that, first, it is recognized that the "so-called Armenian Genocide" is a "so-called" one, then, by means of propaganda, those denials will be taught to children and youth and will be engraved in their minds. It is written in the editorial of the weekly "Agos" that the same is requested from Armenian schools; it is required that young Armenians also form sentences denying "the groundless Armenian allegations. In reality, this propaganda is more deceptive for Turkish children: the Armenian child will hear one way or another from his family, relatives and eyewitnesses still living why the number of Armenians living in this country dropped from 2 million to 60,000. He will also know that he needs to say at school the opposite of what he hears at home. What happened in history did happen. It is impossible to fight against realities. Should German people defend Hitler, who assassinated millions of Jews for the simple reason that he is German? 1915 is one of the painful pages of the Ottoman history: on this date, the Committee of Union and Progress committed a huge crime against humanity. Why should I take the responsibility for that crime, and oppose the historical truths by asserting that all of this did not take place? Why shall we mislead young brains with lies? What kind of damage does such a propaganda cause in the brains of the youth. What will this society gain, by educating the youth with legends that are unreal?
    • Oral Calislar, from the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet (12 May 2003)
  • I have the honor to report to the Embassy about one of the most severest measures ever taken by any government and one of the greatest tragedies in all history. Practically every male Armenian of any consequence at all here has been arrested and put into prison. A great many of them were subjected to the most cruel tortures under which some of them died. Several hundred of the leading Armenians were sent away at night and it seems to be clearly established that most, if not all, of them were killed. Last week there were well founded rumors of a threatened massacre. I think there is very little doubt that one is planned. Another method was found, to destroy the Armenian race. This is no less than the deportation of the entire Armenian population, not only from this Vilayet, but, I understand, from all six Vilayets comprising Armenia. There are said to be about sixty thousand Armenians in this Vilayet and about a million in the six Vilayets. All of these are to be sent into exile; an undertaking greater, probably, than anything of the kind in all history. For several days last week there were rumors of this but it seemed incredible. On Saturday, June 28th, it was publicly announced that all Armenians and Syrians [Assyrians of the Armenian Apostolic faith] were to leave after five days. The full meaning of such an order can scarcely be imagined by those who are not familiar with the peculiar conditions of this isolated region. A massacre, however horrible the word may sound, would be humane in comparison with it. In a massacre many escape but a wholesale deportation of this kind in this country means a lingering and perhaps even more dreadful death for nearly every one. I do not believe it possible for one in a hundred to survive, perhaps not one in a thousand. Whatever the destination may be, the journey from here in that direction at this season of the year is very difficult for one who has made careful preparations and travels by wagon. It is for the most part an extremely hot plain in which there s very little water or vegetation. There are places where there is no water at all during an entire day's journey by wagon. A crowd of women and children on foot will, of course, require several days to traverse the same distance. They cannot go from from here to Urfa in less than fifteen or twenty days. ...there will be days when neither food nor water can be obtained. People on foot cannot carry enough food or water on their backs to last them between towns. Under the most favorable conditions the journey is a very fatiguing one. For people traveling as these Armenians who are going into exile will be obliged to travel it is certain death for by far the greater part of them. The fate of these people can readily be imagined. The method is perhaps a little more cultured than a massacre but it it will be far more effective and thorough. It is quite probable that many of them will be robbed and murdered en route as the roads are now filled with bands of pillaging Kurds. In any case, it is quite certain that almost all will die in one way or another before they ever reach their destination. It is impossible for me to give any adequate idea of the panic in this locality that has resulted from the announcement of this order of expulsion. Every one who is obliged to leave is trying to get together a little money to take on the journey. The Turks are, of course, taking advantage of the situation to get things at practically nothing. Robbery and looting were never undertaken in a more wholesale manner. Turkish men and Turkish women are entering the houses of all the Armenians and taking things at almost any price. The scene reminds one of a lot of hungry vultures hovering over the remains of those who have fallen by the way. I have never seen a more pathetic or tragic scene. All feel that they are going to certain death and they have good reason to feel that way. All the real estate belonging to the Armenians will be confiscated by the Government. The effect industrially and commercially of the expulsion of the Armenians from this region is going to throw it back in the middle ages. Tomorrow the exodus of one-half of the population of this region commences. Were there people not so entirely subdued I should expect to see some stirring scenes. As it is, I can hardly think it possible that the authorities will succeed in sending everyone into exile, but a yet there does not seem to be any sign of their relenting or of their granting many exemptions.
    • Leslie A. Davis, American Vice Consul in Harput Turkey, in a report to US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morganthau (30 June 1915) - U.S. National Archives. D.S. Record Group 59, Dec. File No. 867.4016/269
  • Now it has just been announced by public crier that on Tuesday, July 13th, every Armenian without exception, must go. If it were simply a matter of being obliged to leave here and go somewhere else it would not be so bad, but everyone knows it is a case of going to one's death. I have visited their encampment a number of times and talked with some of the people. A more pitiable sight cannot be imagined. They were almost without exception ragged, filthy, hungry and sick. This is not surprising in view of the fact that they have been on the road for nearly two months with no change of clothing, no chance to wash, no shelter and little to eat. There are very few men among them, as most have been killed on the road. All tell the same story of having been attacked and robbed by the Kurds. Most of them were attacked over and over again and a great many of them, especially the men were killed. Women and children were also killed. Many died, of course, from sickness and exhaustion on the way and there have been deaths each day that they have been there. Several different parties have arrived and after remaining a day or two have been pushed with no apparent destination. Those who have reached here are only a small portion, however, of those who started. By continuing to drive these people people on in this way it will be possible to dispose of all of them in a comparatively short time. The condition of these people indicated clearly the fate of those who have left and are about to leave from here. I believe nothing has been heard from any of them as yet and probably very little will be heard. The system that is being followed seems to be to have bands of Kurds awaiting them on the roads to kill the men especially and incidentally some of the others. The entire movement seems to be the thoroughly organized and effective massacre this country has ever seen. Not many men have been spared, however, to accompany those who are being sent into exile, for a more prompt and sure method has been used to dispose of them. Several thousand Armenian men been arrested during the past few weeks. These have been put into prison and each time that several hundred had been gathered up in that way they were sent away during the night. There have been frequent rumors that all of these were killed and there is little doubt that they were. All Armenian soldiers [In the Turkish army] have likewise been sent away in the same manor. On Monday many men were arrested both at Harput and Mezreh and put in prison. At daybreak Tuesday morning they were taken out and made to march toward an almost uninhabited mountain. There were about eight hundred in all and they were tied together in groups of fourteen each. That afternoon they arrived in a small Kurdish village where they were kept over night in the mosque and other buildings. During this time they were without food or water. On Wednesday morning they were taken to a valley a few hours distant where they were all made to sit down. Then the gendarmes began shooting them until they had killed nearly all of them. Some who had not been killed by bullets were then disposed of with knives and bayonets. A few succeeded in breaking the rope with which they were tied to their companions and running away, but most of these were pursued and killed. A few succeeded in getting away, probably not more than two or three. No charge of any kind had ever been made against any of these men. They were simply arrested and killed as part of the general plan to dispose of the Armenian race. Last night several hundred more men, including both men arrested by the civil authorities and those enrolled as soldiers, were taken in a different direction and murdered in a similar manner. The same thing has been done systematically in the villages. A few weeks ago about three hundred men were gathered together at Ichme and Haboosi, two villages four and five hours' distant from here, and then taken up to the mountains and massacred. There seems to be a definite plan to dispose of all the Armenians men...The evident plan of the Government is to give no opportunity for any educational or religious work to be done here by foreign missionaries. Some Armenian women will be taken as Moslem wives and some children will be brought up as Moslem, but none of them will be allowed to come under foreign influences. The country is to be purely Moslem and nothing else.
    • Leslie A. Davis, American Vice Consul in Harput Turkey, in a report to US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morganthau (11 July 1915) - U.S. National Archives. D.S. Record Group 59, Dec. File No. 867.4016/122
  • Greater misery could not be imagined, the dead and the dying are everywhere...The whole country is one vast slaughterhouse.
    • Leslie Davis, American Vice Consul in Harput Turkey in The Slaughterhouse Province
  • I have the honor to further supplement my reports of June 30th and July 11th (File No. 840.1) in regard to the expulsion of the Armenians from this region, or to speak more clearly, the wholesale massacre of these Armenians, as follows — Any doubt that may have been expressed in previous reports as to the Government's intention in sending away the Armenians have been removed and any hope that may have been expressed as to the possibility of some of them surviving has been destroyed. It has been no secret that the plan was to destroy the Armenian race as a race, but the methods have been more cold-blooded and barbarous, if not more effective, than I had first supposed. It was apparent that very few would ever survive the journey from here to Urfa or to any other place at this season of the year. As a matter of fact, it has been quite unnecessary to consider the difficulties of such a journey. It seems to be fully established now that practically all who have been sent away from here have been deliberately shot or otherwise killed within one or two days after their departure. This work has not all been done by bands of Kurds but has for the most part been that of gendarmes who accompanied the people from here or the companies of armed "cetes" (convicts) who have been released from prison for the purpose of murdering the Armenian exiles. It has been repeatedly reported, and I think there is no doubt about the truth of these reports, that not a single man who has been sent away has been spared. Many of the women and children have been deliberately killed at the same time. A few of the more attractive women have been carried off to adorn the harems of some of the Kurdish chieftains and of some of the gendarmes. Some of the older women and children have been allowed to wander along, accompanied by gendarmes, with the certainty that all of them will soon perish from hunger, sickness and exhaustion. I do not believe there has ever been a massacre in the history of the world so general and thorough as that which is now being perpetrated in this region or that a more fiendish, diabolical scheme has ever been conceived by the mind of man. What the order is officially and nominally to exile the Armenians from these Vilayets may mislead the world for a while, but the measure is nothing but a massacre of the most atrocious nature. It would be that even if all the people had been allowed to perish on the road. As the greater part of them, however, have been actually murdered as as there is no doubt that this was done by the order of the Government, there can be no pretense that the measure is anything else but a general massacre. In all, probably a third of the population of this region is gone. The most remarkable feature of the situation is the helplessness of the Armenians and the total lack of resistance on their part. With two or three insignificant exceptions, there has not been a blow struck by any of them. I have been told that two or three gendarmes have been killed in the villages, but probably not a half a dozen in all. It did not seem possible that such an order could be carried out without more or less violence. One would think that some would have chosen death here, knowing that it awaited them a few hours after their departure, and many talked that way, but when the time has come all have started without making any resistance. This has been due, partially, of course, to the lack of sprit in the Armenian race, but it is due very largely also to the clever way in which the scheme has been carried out. Everything was apparently planned months ago. Then, when practically all the Armenian men had been gotten out of the way it was announced that all Armenians must be deported. Effective resistance to such an order was impossible. The whole scheme was planned so cleverly that the police and gendarmes are able to carry it out with no risk at all to themselves. A few thousand men have thus been able to dispose of 15,000 or 20,000 Armenians from this immediate locality. It appears that the same system has been followed in other parts of this Vilayet and in other Vilayets. It is impossible to say how many Armenians have been killed but it is estimated that the number as not far from a million. Greater misery could not be imagined. It was bad enough before when there were several thousand all in a most wretched condition. Now, when only the worst of them are left behind, the scene beggars all description. The dead and dying are everywhere. Each day there are many deaths and these will continue until all are gone. Dead bodies are to be seen there at any time. One sees dead bodies now in all directions and on every road... The whole country as one vast charnel house, or, more correctly speaking, slaughterhouse. When one sees men and women seventy or even eighty years old, lame, blind and sick, innocent women and children and helpless babies sent away to be killed or die and actually sees them dead or dying all around, it is impossible to conceive of any justification that can be urged for a measure so severe.
    • Leslie A. Davis, American Vice Consul in Harput Turkey, in a report to US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morganthau (24 July 1915) - U.S. National Archives. D.S. Record Group 59, Dec. File No. 867.4016/269
  • If the Turkish Government were asked the reasons for which the Armenian men, women, and children were killed, and their honor and property placed at any man's mercy, they would reply that this people have murdered Moslems in the Vilayet of Van, and that there have been found in their possession prohibited arms, explosive bombs, and indications of steps towards the formation of an Armenian state, such as flags and the like, all pointing to the fact that this race has not turned from its evil ways, but on the first opportunity will kill the Moslems, rise in revolt, and invoke the help of Russia, the enemy of Turkey, against its rulers. That is what the Turkish government would say. I have followed the matter from its source. I have inquired from inhabitants and officials of Van, who were in Diarbekir, whether any Moslem had been killed by Armenians in the town of Van, or in the district of the Vilayet. They answered in the negative, saying that the Government had ordered the population to quit the town before the arrival of the Russians and before anyone was killed but that the Armenians had been summoned to give up their arms and had done so, dreading an attack by the Kurds, and dreading the government also; the government had further demanded that the principal notables and leading men should be given up to them as hostages, but the Armenians had not complied. All this took place during the approach of the Russians towards the city of Van. As to the adjacent districts, the authorities collected the Armenians and drove them into the interior, where they were all slaughtered, no Government official or private man, Turk or Kurd, having been killed. As regards Diarbekir, you have read the whole story in this book, and no insignificant event took place there, let alone murders or breaches of the peace, which could lead the Turkish Government to deal with the Armenians in this atrocious manner. At Constantinople, we hear of no murder or other unlawful act committed by the Armenians, except the unauthenticated story about the twenty activists to which I have already referred. They have not done the least wrong in the Vilayets of Kharpout, Trebizond, Sivas, Adana, or Bitlis, nor in the province of Moush. I have related the episode at Zeitoun, which was unimportant, and that at Urfa, where they acted in self defense, seeing what had befallen their people, and preferring death to surrender. As to their preparations, the flags, bombs and the like, even assuming there to be some truth in the statement, it does not justify the annihilation of the whole people, men and women, old men and children, in a way which revolts all humanity and more especially Islam and the whole body of Moslems, as those unacquainted with the true facts might impute these deeds to Mohammedan fanaticism.
    • Fa'iz El-Ghusein, in Martyred Armenia, as translated from the original Arabic by C. Arthur Pearson, Ltd., England, (1917) pages 50-61.
  • We knew that the Armenians have committed no act justifying the Turks in inflicting on them this horrible retribution, un-precedented even in the dark ages. What, then, was the reason which impelled the Turkish Government to kill off a whole people of whom they used to say that they were their brothers in patriotism, the principal factor in bringing about the downfall of the despotic rule of Abdul-Hamid and the introduction of the constitution, loyal to the empire, and fighting side by side with the Turks in the Balkan War? The Turks sanctioned and approved the institution of Armenian political societies, which they did not do in the case of other nationalities. It is that, previous to the proclamation of the Constitution, the Unionists [Young Turks] hated despotic rule, they preached equality, and inspired the people with hatred of the despotism of Abdul-Hamid. But as soon as they had themselves seized the reins of authority, and tasted the sweets of power, they found that despotism was the best means to confirm themselves in ease and property, and to limit to the Turks alone the rule over the Ottoman peoples. On considering these peoples, they found that the Armenian race was the only one which would resent their despotism, and fight against it as they previously fought against Abdul-Hamid. Annihilation seemed to be the sole means of deliverance; they found their opportunity in a time of war, and they proceeded to this atrocious deed, which they carried out with every circumstance of brutality — a deed which is contrary to the law of Islam...
    • Fa'iz El-Ghusein, in Martyred Armenia, as translated from the original Arabic by C. Arthur Pearson, Ltd., England, (1917) pages 62-64.
  • Genocide often occurs during war, for example, the Armenian genocide during WWI, and the Holocaust of Jews and Gypsies during WWII, but should not be confused with the civilian war dead. This is a common trick of genocide deniers, to compare figures of one and the other, for example, the Muslim war dead during the First World War and Armenian victims of genocide. War does not cause genocide. It masks it, justifies the release of aggression and cruelty, provides a cover for the perpetrators, immunity from sanctions, and enables them to deny their responsibility by blaming the victims. Some preconditions of genocide can be illustrated by examining the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire...The first precondition is exclusion of the victim from the universe of obligation of the dominant group. This is reinforced by an ideology of exclusion, defining the victim as an alien or enemy, such as the Aryan myth and the Pan-Turanian myth. Such groups are viewed by the dominant group as people who do not belong, to whom nothing is owed, who do not have to be accounted for, and to whom one need not account. Most often in the twentieth century such ideologies are rationalizations of the aim of an elite to create a so-called pure or homogeneous ethnic state — one people, one state. Everyone who does not fit in must be eliminated, either by expulsion or genocide. Second, there is a problem attributed to the victim or an opportunity seemed to be impeded by the victims. The victims may be seen as a real or symbolic threat. Sometimes the victims rebel, have rebelled, or do not accept their place, and the perpetrators choose to eliminate them rather than share power with them. And theOttoman Empire, Bosnia, and Kosovo are certainly examples of this. Finally, there's a calculus on the part of the perpetrators that they can get away with it. War generally provides immunity from oversight and intervention by hostile powers. Further, major powers have committed genocide or overlooked genocides and genocidal massacres by their clients in the past. The knowledge by the genocidaires that there have been no sanctions against previous uses of genocide reinforces their readiness to commit genocide. It is clear that the Ittihadist faction that took control of the Ottoman Empire in 1912 was the organizer of the Armenian genocide in 1915. The First World War presented the ruling triumvirate with an opportunity, as Djemal Pasha put it, to "free ourselves through the world war from all conventions which meant so many attacks on our independence." He went on to say that "We had determined on radical reform... " But he does not say that the "radical reform" was to eliminate the Armenian problem by eliminating the Armenians. That that was their plan was confirmed at the time by Lord Bryce and Arnold Toynbee, Ambassador Morgenthau, and German officials who were there as allies of the Ottoman government. Yet the Armenian genocide was more than a precedent for what could be done in World War II. It was a model of what could be done with impunity that resonated in the memories of German soldiers, officials and civilians who took part in the First World War...the success of any genocide depends not only on the power of the genocidaire and the response of the bystanders in the state in which it occurs but also on the response of other states. For several decades Turkey and Turkish state funded organizations in the U.S. and elsewhere have denied that there was an Armenian genocide. Not only were Armenians' rights to restitution denied, their memories were publicly denied.
    • Helen Fein, Director of the Institute for the Study of Genocide and an Associate of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Looking Backward: The Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, And Responses to Genocide Yesterday and Today given at the Symposium on Genocide, 20th Century Genocide: Memory, Denial and Accountability (7 April 2000)
  • For the better part of six months, from April to October 1915, practically all the highways in Asia Minor were crowded with these unearthly bands of exiles. As far as can be ascertained, about 1,200,000 people started on this journey to the Syrian desert.... The gendarmes whom the government had sent, supposedly to protect the exiles, in a very few hours became their tormentors. They followed their charges with fixed bayonets, prodding any one who showed any tendency to slacken the pace. . . . They even prodded pregnant women with bayonets.... Detachements of gendarmes would go ahead notifying the Kurdish tribes that their victims were approaching and Turkish peasants were also informed that their long waited opportunity had arrived. The Government even opened the prisons and set free the convicts, on the understanding that they should behave like good Moslems to the approaching Armenians. Thus every caravan had a continuous battle for existence with several classes of enemies. . . . The men who might have defended these wayfarers had nearly all been killed or forced into the army as workmen, and the exiles themselves had been systematically deprived of all weapons before the journey began.
    • Arthur Frothingham, in Handbook of War Facts and Peace Problems (1919)
  • I left here on the sixteenth of September, 1915, for Aleppo. I first saw the Armenians at Afion Karahissar where there was a big encampment — probably of ten thousand people...and their condition was deplorable. The next place where there was a large encampment was at Osmanieh, where there was said to be about fifty thousand; their condition was terrible. From Osmanieh, I traveled by carriage to Rajo and passed thousands of Armenians en route to Aleppo. They were going in ox-carts, on horseback, donkeys and on foot, the most of them children, women and old men. I spoke to several of these people, some of whom had been educated in the American Mission Schools. They told me that they had traveled for two months. They were without money and food and several expressed their wish that they could die rather than go on and endure the sufferings that they were undergoing. From Kadma on to Aleppo I witnessed the worst sights of the whole trip. Here the people began to play out in the intense heat and no water...The destination of all these Armenians is Aleppo. Here they are kept crowded in all available vacant houses, khans, Armenian churches, courtyards and open lots. Their condition in Aleppo is beyond description. I personally visited several of the places where they were kept and found them starving and dying by the hundreds every day...there are hundreds dying daily in Aleppo from starvation and the result of the brutal treatment and exposure that they have undergone on the journey from their native places...In Damascus I found conditions practically the same as in Aleppo; and here hundreds are dying every day. From Damascus, they are sent still farther south into the Hauran, where their fate is unknown. Several Turks, whom I interviewed, told me that the motive of this exile was to exterminate the race, and in no instance did I see, any Moslem giving alms to Armenians, it being considered a criminal offence for any one to aid them. All along the road I met thousands of these unfortunate exiles still coming into Aleppo. The sights I witnessed on this trip were more pitiful than those I had seen on my trip to Aleppo. There seems to be no end to the caravan which moves over the mountain ridge from Bozanti south; throughout the day from sunrise to sunset, the road as far as one can see is crowded with these exiles. There are very few young men in these caravans, the majority are women and children, accompanied by a few old men over fifty years of age. Many of these people go without bread for days, and they become emaciated beyond description. I saw several fall from starvation, and only at certain places along this road is there water. Many die of thirst. None of these people have any idea where they are going or why they are being exiled. They go day after day along the road with the hope that they may somewhere reach a place where they may be allowed to rest. There seems to be no cessation of the stream of these Armenians pouring down from the North, Angora and the region around the Black Sea. Their condition grows worse every day. The sights that I saw on my return trip were worse than those on my trip going, and now that the cold weather and winter rains are setting in, deaths are more numerous.
    • Walter M. Geddes, American businessman and traveller (1915)
  • I, as an ethnically Turkish citizen, am not guilty, but am responsible for what happened to the Armenians in 1915. I did an analysis of the Deputies of the first National Assembly, I have found enough documentation that implicates about 25-30% of the Deputies of having participated in the massacres against the Armenians... Not only was there no accountability and no punishment for those who committed crimes against the Armenians, but many of the perpetrators unfortunately then became leaders of the Turkish Republic.
    • Dr. Fatma Müge Göçek, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, in Turkey, the European Union and the Armenian Question — a presention given before the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights (2 December 2005)
  • The population is showing true Moslem resignation in the way it is bearing the existing situation — the ruin and desolation of individuals and community, the holocaust of all and everything for a war which no one desired, but which was forced upon them by Enver Pasha, and which will lead to the ruin and dismemberment of all that still remains of the Ottoman Empire. The Germans and the "Committee of Union and Progress" are hated and detested by all...for the Germans and the Committee constitute the one genuine, solid organisation at present existing in Turkey — a masterly and most rigorous organisation, which does not hesitate to use any weapon whatever; an organisation of audacity, of terror, and of mysterious, ferocious revenge. . . As for the Armenians, they were treated differently in the different vilayets. They were suspect and spied upon everywhere, but they suffered a real extermination, worse than massacre, in the so-called 'Armenian Vilayets.' from the 24th June onwards, the Armenians were all "interned" — that is, ejected by force from their various residences and despatched under the guard of the gendarmerie to distant, unknown destinations, which for a few will mean the interior of Mesopotamia, but for four-fifths of them has meant already a death accompanied by unheard-of cruelties. The official proclamation of internment came from Constantinople. It is the work of the Central Government and the "Committee of Union and Progress." The local authorities, and indeed the Moslem population in general, tried to resist, to mitigate it, to make omissions, to hush it up. But the orders of the Central Government were categorically confirmed, and all were compelled to resign themselves and obey. It was a real extermination and slaughter of the innocents, an unheard-of thing, a black page stained with the flagrant violation of the most sacred rights of humanity... There were about 14,000 Armenians at Trebizond — Gregorians, Catholics, and Protestants. They had never caused disorders or given occasion for collective measures of police. When I left Trebizond, not a hundred of them remained. ...the city in a state of siege, guarded at every point by 15,000 troops in complete war equipment, by thousands of police agents by bands of volunteers and by the members of the "Committee of Union and Progress" ; the lamentations, the tears, the abandonments, the imprecations, the many suicides, the instantaneous deaths from sheer terror, the sudden unhingeing of men's reason, the conflagrations, the shooting of victims in the city, the ruthless searches through the houses and in the countryside; the hundreds of corpses found every day along the exile road; the young women converted by force to Islam or exiled like the rest; the children torn away from their families or from the Christian schools, and handed over by force to Moslem families, or else placed by hundreds on board ship in nothing but their shirts, and then capsized and drowned in the Black Sea and the River Deyirmen Deré — these are my last ineffaceable memories of Trebizond, memories which still, at a month's distance, torment my soul and almost drive me frantic. If they knew all the things that I know, all that I have had to see with my eyes and hear with my ears, all Christian powers that are still neutral would be impelled to rise up against Turkey and cry anathema against her inhuman Government and her ferocious "Committee of Union and Progress," and they would extend the responsibility to Turkey's Allies, who tolerate or even shield with their strong arm these execrable crimes, which have not their equal in history, either modern or ancient. Shame, horror and disgrace!
    • Interview of G. Gorrini, former italian Consul-General at Trebizond, published in the journal Il Messaggero of Rome, on August 25 1915
  • The first implementation of the CUP regime's goal of creating a homogeneous nation was the elimination of the Armenians from Anatolia in 1915...It was a prerequisite for homogenisation in the name of modernisation that both internal and external conditions served to justify their policies under the rhetoric of state security and interests.
    • Ayla Gul, in Imagining the Turkish nation through 'othering' Armenians in Nations and Nationalism 11 (1), 2005, p130. (Gul is an ethically Turkish professor in the International Relations Department of the London School of Economics and Political Science)
  • Massacres and deportations were organized in the spring of 1915, under a definite system, the soldiers going from town to town. Young men were first summoned to the government building in each village and then marched out and killed. The women, the old men and the children were, after a few days, deported to what Talaat Pasha called "Agricultural Colonies," from the high, breeze-swept plateaus of Armenia to the malarial flats of the Euphrates and the burning sands of Syria and Arabia. The dead, from this wholesale attempt on the race, are variously estimated at from five hundred thousand to a million, the usual figure being about eight hundred thousand. Driven on foot under a hot sun, robbed of their clothing and such petty articles as they carried, prodded by bayonets if they lagged, starvation, typhus, and dysentery left thousands dead by the trail side.
    • James Harbord, in the Harbord Commision report (June 1920)
  • Turkey initiated a policy of annihialation against the Armenians.
    • Paul von Hindenburg, German Field Marshall in the Ottoman Empire during WWI in From My Life, Leipzig, (1934) p169
  • We must already be thinking of resettlement of millions of men from Germany and Europe. Migrations of people have always taken place. Are we really going to remain a nation of have-nots forever? We have the capacity to rouse and lead the masses against this situation. We intend to introduce a great resettlement policy; In 1923 little Greece could resettle a million men. Think of the biblical deportations and the massacres of the Middle Ages and remember the extermination of the Armenians.
    • Adolph Hitler in an interview with Richard Breiting that apeared in the German daily newspaper Leipziger Neueste Nachrichten (4 May 1931)
  • Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?
    • Adolf Hitler (22 August 1939) for discussion of the quote see Armenian quote; note that Hitler's quote was relating to his plans regarding his intention to attack Poland and kill masses of Poles and replace them with Germans as he saw the Ottomans had sucessfully done in the previous World War without adverse consequences or punishment.
  • The systematic butchery of the uprooted and deported Armenians have assumed such a was not only tolerated but openly promoted by the government. It meant the extermination of the Armenians. Despite government assurances to the contrary, everything points to the goal of the destruction of the Armenian people.
    • Hohenloe-Langenburg, German Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Oct-Nov 1915 - German Foreign Ministry Archives
  • It should be borne in mind, however, that it was not until after the declaration of the constitution that the idea "Turkey for the Turks" took definite shape and developed into the scheme of accomplishing its purpose by the final extinction of all the Christian populations of that blood-soaked land...
    • George Horton in The Blight of Asia (1926). Horton was the American General Consul in Smyrna from 1911 until 1917, then again after the war until 1922 - and was a direct eyewitness to the city's destruction and the massacreing of the city's Greeks and Armenians by the forces of Kemal Ataturk
  • The Turk massacres when he has orders from headquarters and desists on the second when commanded by the same authority to stop.
  • The extermination of the Christians of Turkey was an organized butchery, carried out on a great scale... This part of the story would not be complete if I passed over in silence the systematic extermination... of the Greeks and Armenians of the Pontus. The flourishing communities of Amasia, Caesaria, Trebizonde, Chaldes, Rhodopolis, Colonia, centers of Greek civilization for many hundreds of years have been practically annihilated in a persistent campaign of massacre, hanging, deportation, fire and rape. The victims amount to hundreds of thousands, bringing the sum total of exterminated Armenians and Greeks in the whole of the old Roman province of Asia up to the grand total of one million, five hundred thousand.
  • The last act in the fearful drama of the extermination of Christianity in the Byzantine Empire was the burning of Smyrna by the troops of Mustapha Khemal. The murder of the Armenian race had been practically consummated during the years 1915-1916, and the prosperous and populous Greek colonies, with the exception of Smyrna itself, had been ferociously destroyed.
  • The Turks were now making a thorough and systematic job of killing Armenian men. The squads of soldiers...were chiefly engaged in hunting down and killing Armenians.
  • [After the Balkan wars of 1913] Turkism, as a racialised articulation of citizenship, emerged as the dominant discourse of the period. ...Turkism is defined here as...Turkishness as the determinative identity of the citizens of the empire. (In) March 1913, the Turkish Force Committee was founded. It explicitly claimed to cultivate the new Turkish citizens...the founders argued (that)from now on, the empire should be left to the real owners, the Turkish race. What was different from the Turkism that existed before the Balkan Wars was the idea that Turkism not only needed to become dominant, but it had to become so in an urgent manner. This sense of urgency combined with the dominance Turkism now enjoyed led Turkism to materialise into various events and acts in a very short period of time. Turkism...was manifest in...the displacement and elimination of Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire. The institutionalisation of Turkism meant the homogenisation of the citizenship in the empire. After the Balkan Wars, Armenians, or any other element in the empire other than the Turks, were not peoples who had to be educated, governed and Ottomanised but were enemies to be executed urgently or in some distant future. With Turkism, Armenians were Armenians. Race could not be changed. Turkism desired a racially homogeneous citizenry; a nation acquiring its sovereignty from its racial basis. In 1913, the CUP decided to establish youth clubs all around the empire. They were called the Tu¨rk Gu¨cu¨ Cemiyetleri (Societies of Turkish Power). The motto of the societies was: 'the force of the Turk is always enough for everything' ...their aim was to serve the Turkish race and avoid its decline by...'gathering the Turks under one roof and protecting them from hazardous influences' The interesting point about the societies is that the statements produced within them construct the decline in the social and political functions of the race as inscribed into the bodies of the Turks. The Turks were already healthy and strong. Other races in the empire changed this condition... by living at the expense of the Turkish race... the other races were never as strong and healthy as the Turks. Therefore the hybridity of the population of the empire worsened the condition of the Turks. It was time again to go back to the purity of the origins of the Turkish race. That is why other races had to be eliminated. Turkism constructed an imminent threat posed by the Armenians and took action to exterminate that threat. Turkism operated as state racism. Enver Pasha, by then the head of the CUP, argued that by expelling the Armenians from the empire, the Turks in the Ottoman Empire would once again be healthy and clean. Otherwise the Turks would slowly cease to exist, just as an unhealthy person approaches death when not taken care of. In other words, the existence of the Turkish race depended on eliminating the unclean elements including other races, in this case the Armenians. Turkism and the Armenian tragedy in this sense can be seen as a function of the biological racism. Turkism, as racialised citizenship, negated the life of Armenian citizens in the empire.
    • Bora Isyar, Department of Sociology, York University, Toronto, Canada in The origins of Turkish Republican citizenship: the birth of race in Nations and Nationalism 11 (3), 2005, 343–360
  • Hundreds of individual cases of persecution such as blackmailing, beating, imprisoning, etc., could be stated but which would lend no further weight to the general statement of outrages that are being practiced daily upon a defenseless and inoffensive people that demand nothing more than to be given a chance to eke out at best a miserable existence. The government has been appealed to by various prominent people and even by those in authority to put an end to these conditions, under the representations that is can only lead to the greatest blame and reproach, but all to no avail. It is without doubt a carefully planned scheme to thoroughly extinguish the Armenian race.
    • J. B. Jackson, American Consul General at Aleppo, June 5, 1915 US State Department Record Group 59, 867.4016/77
  • In the Spring of 1915, when the snow was beginning to melt on the Armenian plateau, the government in Constantinople began work on the systematic annihilation of Armenians. The Armenians were driven to the South, avoiding routes from where Armenians were already cleansed. The town of Urfa, nearby the Syrian desert, which was the terminus for the driven Armenians, was the last one to be cleansed of Armenians. By the Summer of 1916, the Armenian community had been removed and fragmented. The largest nucleus [of Armenians] outside Constantinople, consisted of laborers found outside Adana, working on the Baghdad railroad. There were no Armenian villages left. The history of the Armenian genocide is the history of Armenian women and urchins. The men were murdered right at the start. From primary sources, both Ottoman and other, it appears that in the East where a war was being fought with Russia, the Armenians were murdered on the spot. Elsewhere, they were deported, whereby their houses were not destroyed but confiscated. Their personal possessions, such as money and jewelry were looted from them. For the reason for the implementation of the genocide, you should ask Talaat. Both pan-Turkism and Islamic fervor existed well before the genocide. the provocation thesis, which states that Armenian were the fifth column and would have turned on the Turks the moment the Russians advanced, is a concoction that was hatched at the German embassy in Constantinople in May 1915. The Ottoman Empire was extensively centralized. A good bureaucracy held it all together. The telegraphic system of communication was exemplary. Special military units were instituted for the purpose of carrying out the genocide. No one was allowed to murder Armenians without the consent of these military units. Those who disregarded the rules were dealt severely.
    • Dr. Hilmar Kaiser, PhD, European Institute, Florence, historian of Ottoman social and economic history and Armenian genocide resercher who has worked directly with the Ottoman Archives; from an interview with Dirk van Delft, NRC Handelsblad Page 51 - Amsterdam (27 May 2000)
  • The Armenian genocide is the Ottoman government's answer to the Armenian Question: Deportations can only be analyzed in terms of expropriation. It was grand theft. It was the surgical separation of Armenians from their movable and immovable property. The Ottoman government was very careful of not wasting any assets while being not concerned about the fate of the Armenians. To make the expropriation permanent, you have to replace the Armenians. The expropriation was part of a settlement program; this process created a surplus population and this surplus population was taken care of. The Armenians were mathematically a surplus population. Killing or, in the case of children and women, assimilating them solved that problem. What took place was genocide, not massacres. I use the word `genocide' because it adequately describes the phenomenon. It's the only term we have that describes it. If one day we have a better word, fine. The English, German, and Turkish languages have only one word to describe. That this has a negative consequence on the Turkish government is something I can't change; I can't change history. I'm not prepared to haggle over it. If a Turkish scholar says it too politicized and he or she doesn't want to use the word, then let him/her take a different subject. If you want to be part of this debate, apply proper terminology and if you don't want to do it, you aren't a scholar.
    • Dr. Hilmar Kaiser, in interview with Khatchig Mouradian (24 September 2005) published in Aztag Daily Newspaper
  • The destruction of the Armenians was undertaken on a massive scale...This policy of extermination will for a long time stain the name of Turkey.
    • Richard Kuhlmann, German Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire 1916-1917, Forieign Minister 1917-1918. German Foreign Ministry Archives
  • In Turkey, more than 1,200,000 Armenians were put to death for no other reason than they were Christians ... After the end of the war, some 150 Turkish war criminals were arrested and interned by the British Government on the island of Malta. The Armenians sent a delegation to the peace conference in Versailles. They were demanding justice. Then one day, the delegation read in the newspapers that all Turkish war criminals were released. I was shocked. A nation was killed and the guilty persons were set free. Why is a man punished when he kills another man? Why is the killing of a million a lesser crime than the killing of a single individual? I identified myself more and more with the sufferings of the victims, whose numbers grew, as I continued my study of history. I understood that the function of memory is not only to register past events, but to stimulate human conscience. Soon contemporary examples of genocide followed, such as the slaughter of the Armenians in 1915. It became clear to me that the diversity of nations, religious groups and races is essential to civilization because every one of those groups has a mission to fulfill and a contribution to make in terms of culture.... I decided to become a lawyer and work for the outlawing of Genocide and for its prevention through the cooperation of nations. A bold plan was formulated in my mind. This consisted [of] obtaining the ratification by Turkey [of the proposed UN Convention on Genocide Ed.] among the first twenty founding nations. This would be an atonement for [the] genocide of the Armenians. But how could this be achieved? . . . The Turks are proud of their republican form of government and of progressive concepts, which helped them in replacing the rule of the Ottoman Empire. The genocide convention must be put within the framework of social and international progress. I knew however that in this conversation both sides will have to avoid speaking about one thing, although it would be constantly in their minds: the Armenians.
    • Raphael Lemkin, Holocaust refugee and lawyer who created the word "genocide" in part to describe the horrors of the official Ottoman government policy and actions to exterminate the Armenian people of Anatolia, from his private papers, with permission of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division, the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.
  • The evidence...from German, Austrian and Turkish sources in my view leads inescapably to the conclusion that the extermination of the Armenians was actually planned by a clique within the Young Turk leadership and executed by the sinister Special Organization [Teshkilati Mahsusa] of the army.
    • Dominic Lieven in Empire (2001) Yale University Press. Lieven is a well known British historian, a Pofessor of History at the London School of Economics and former Kennedy Scholar at Harvard University.
  • The Turks have embarked upon the total extermination of the Armenians in Transcaucasia, also (May 1918)... On the basisof all reports and news comming to me here in Tbilissi [Georgia] there hardly can be any doubt that the Turks systematically are aiming at the... extermination of the few hundred thousand Armenians whom they have left alive until now.
    • Otto von Lossow, Major General, German Military Plenipotentiary in Turkey and German Representative at Batum Conference in May, 1918 - 11 July 1918 - German Foreign Ministry Archives
  • The decision to expel the woman, children and old men, was the result of a hatred against the Armenians, and involved a wild objective on the part of the Turkish government to obliterate this race... the massive arrests of the men were carried out not only in the near of the front but throughout the empire... and in the corridors of the Turkish Ministry of War one heard people tell with cynical grins the story of how all these thousands died a natural death or how they were victims of accidents — as registered in official records...
    • George Mayer, Prof. Dr. Colonel, Deputy Chief in the Department of Heath of the Turkish Army
  • The Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust were the quintessential instances of genocide in the modern era. Three reasons may be cited for this claim. First, there were instances of what we shall call "total genocide" or what the United Nations has called "genocide-in-whole" to distinguish such instances from massacre and "genocide-in-part." Both catastophes were the products of state-initiated policies whose intended and actual results were the elimination of the Armenian community from the Ottoman Empire and of the Jewish community from most of Europe, respectively. Second, both victimized groups were ethnoreligious communal minorities that had been partially integrated and assimilated into the larger society. Their destruction was not only a war against foreign strangers, it was a mass murder that commenced with an attack on an internal domestic segment of the state's own society. The genocide of the Armenians should be understood not as a response to "Armenian provocations" but as a stage in the Turkish revolution, which as a reaction to the continuing disintegration of the empire settled on a narrow nationalism and excluded Armenians from the moral universe of the state. It should be obvious from the overwhelming evidence that exists in the state archives of major powers (the above being but a small representative sample) that the 1915 genocide of the Armenians was premeditated and the isolated cases of armed resistance by the Armenians were deliberately provoked by the Turkish govenrment so as to exploit it as justification for a general campaign of race extermination. That being so, bringing up the much discredited myth of Armenian disloyalty in the context of the 1915 Armenian Genocide is as offensive to the victims as well as to well-informed non-Armenians as bringing up the Nazi rationalization of an alleged "international Jewish conspiracy" would be in the context of the Nazi Holocaust. Because both the Armenians under Ottoman rule and the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe perished not for something they did or failed to do, but for who they were.
    • Professor Robert Melson, Holocaust survivor and genocide scholar in Revolution and Genocide: On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust (1992) University of Chicago Press
In a realisation of their plan to resolve the Armenian Question by destroying the Armenian race, the Turkish Government is not stopped neither by our representatives, nor by the public opinion of the west. ~ Paul Wolff Metternich
  • In a realisation of their plan to resolve the Armenian Question by destroying the Armenian race, the Turkish Government is not stopped neither by our representatives, nor by the public opinion of the west.
  • The destruction of the Armenian race in 1915 involved certain difficulties that had not impeded the operations of the Turks in the massacres of 1895 and other years. In these earlier periods the Armenian men had possessed little power or means of resistance. In those days Armenians had not been permitted to have military training, to serve in the Turkish army, or to possess arms. As I have already said, these discriminations were withdrawn when the revolutionists obtained the upper hand in 1908. Not only were the Christians now permitted to bear arms, but the authorities, in the full flush of their enthusiasm for freedom and equality, encouraged them to do so. In the early part of 1915, therefore, every Turkish city contained thousands of Armenians who had been trained as soldiers and who were supplied with rifles, pistols, and other weapons of defense. The operations at Van once more disclosed that these men could use their weapons to good advantage. It was thus apparent that an Armenian massacre this time would generally assume more the character of warfare than those wholesale butcheries of defenseless men and women which the Turks had always found so congenial. If this plan of murdering a race were to succeed, two preliminary steps would therefore have to be taken: it would be necessary to render all Armenian soldiers powerless and to deprive of their arms the Armenians in every city and town. Before Armenia could be slaughtered, Armenia must be made defenseless. In the early part of 1915, the Armenian soldiers in the Turkish army were reduced to a new status. Up to that time most of them had been combatants, but now they were all stripped of their arms and transformed into workmen. ... In almost all cases the procedure was the same. Here and there squads of 50 or 100 men would be taken, bound together in groups of four, and then marched out to a secluded spot a short distance from the village. Suddenly the sound of rifle shots would fill the air, and the Turkish soldiers who had acted as the escort would sullenly return to camp. Those sent to bury the bodies would find them almost invariably stark naked, for, as usual, the Turks had stolen all their clothes. In cases that came to my attention, the murderers had added a refinement to their victims' sufferings by compelling them to dig their graves before being shot. ... Dreadful as were these massacres of unarmed soldiers, they were mercy and justice themselves when compared with the treatment which was now visited upon those Armenians who were suspected of concealing arms. Naturally the Christians became alarmed when placards were posted in the villages and cities ordering everybody to bring their arms to headquarters. Although this order applied to all citizens, the Armenians well understood what the result would be, should they be left defenseless while their Moslem neighbours were permitted to retain their arms. In many cases, however, the persecuted people patiently obeyed the command; and then the Turkish officials almost joyfully seized their rifles as evidence that a "revolution" was being planned and threw their victims into prison on a charge of treason. Thousands failed to deliver arms simply because they had none to deliver, while an even greater number tenaciously refused to give them up, not because they were plotting an uprising, but because they proposed to defend their own lives and their women's honour against the outrages which they knew were being planned. The punishment inflicted upon these recalcitrants forms one of the most hideous chapters of modern history. ... Nothing was sacred to the Turkish gendarmes; under the plea of searching for hidden arms, they ransacked churches, treated the altars and sacred utensils with the utmost indignity, and even held mock ceremonies in imitation of the Christian sacraments. They would beat the priests into insensibility, under the pretense that they were the centres of sedition. When they could discover no weapons in the churches, they would sometimes arm the bishops and priests with guns, pistols, and swords, then try them before courts-martial for possessing weapons against the law, and march them in this condition through the streets, merely to arouse the fanatical wrath of the mobs. As a preliminary to the searches everywhere, the strong men of the villages and towns were arrested and taken to prison. Their tormentors here would exercise the most diabolical ingenuity in their attempt to make their victims declare themselves to be "revolutionists" and to tell the hiding places of their arms. A common practice was to place the prisoner in a room, with two Turks stationed at each end and each side. The examination would then begin with the bastinado. This is a form of torture not uncommon in the Orient; it consists of beating the soles of the feet with a thin rod. At first the pain is not marked; but as the process goes slowly on, it develops into the most terrible agony, the feet swell and burst, and not infrequently, after being submitted to this treatment, they have to be amputated. ... In thousands of cases the Armenians endured these agonies and refused to surrender their arms simply because they had none to surrender. However, they could not persuade their tormentors that this was the case. It therefore became customary, when news was received that the searchers were approaching, for Armenians to purchase arms from their Turkish neighbours so that they might be able to give them up and escape these frightful punishments.
    • Henry Morganthau, U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, Doubleday, Page & Co., Garden City, New York (1918), "Chapter XXIV - The Murder of a Nation" page 301
  • Deportation of and excesses against peaceful Armenians is increasing and from harrowing reports of eye witnesses it appears that a campaign of race extermination is in progress under a pretext of reprisal against rebellion.
    • U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morganthau, in a confidential dispatch to the U.S. Secretary of State (16 July 1915); United States Official records on the Armenian Genocide 1915-1917, pp. 55, document NA/RG59/867.4016/76
  • The Sultan's proclamation [of war] was an official public document, and dealt with the proposed Holy War [Jihad] only in a general way, but about this same time a secret pamphlet appeared which gave instructions to the faithful in more specific terms...It was a lengthy document full of quotations from the Koran, and its stile was frenzied in its appeal to racial and religious hatred. It described a detailed plan of operations for the assassination and extermination of all Christians except those of German nationality.
    • Henry Morganthau, in Secrets of the Bosphorus (1918) London, Hutchinson & Co. pp. 106-7.
  • This attempt of the Armenians to defend themselves against the Turkish attack in Van was promptly misrepresented in a communique' which was sent by Enver Pasha and the Turkish Government to Berlin, and thence spread all over the world, as an attack by bands of Armenian insurrectionists who, in the rear of the Turkish army had fallen prey upon the Muhammedan population. Out of 180,000 Moslems in the Vilayet of Van only 30,000 had succeeded in escaping! In a later report issued by the Turkish embassy in Berlin on October 1, 1915, the story was further embellished: "No fewer than 180,000 Moslems had been killed. It was not surprising that the Moslems had taken vengeance for this". Some 18 Turks, answering to the number of Armenians they had killed in Van, had turned into 180,000! This astonishing impudent lie has a kind of foundation. According to statistics there should be 180,000 Moslems, including 30,000 Turks and 150,000 Kurds, in the Vilayet of Van. The Turks fled westwards when the Russian army advanced, while the 150,000 Kurds remained where they were, and were molested neither by the Russians nor the Armenians
  • When I returned to Aleppo in September 1915 ... a new phase of Armenian massacres had begun which aimed at exterminating, root and branch, the intelligent, industrious, and progressive Armenian nation. . . . In dilapidated caravansaries (in Aleppo) I found quantities of dead (many corpses being half-decomposed) and others, still living among them, who were soon to breathe their last. . . . masses of half-starved people, the survivors of so-called 'deportation convoys.' I was told, to cover the extermination of the Armenian nation with a political cloak, military reasons were being put forward... After I had informed myself about the facts and had made enquiries on all sides, I came to the conclusion that all these accusations against the Armenians were, in fact, based on trifling provocations, which were taken as an excuse for slaughtering 10,000 innocents for one guilty person, for the most savage outrages against women and children, and for a campaign of starvation against the exiles which was intended to exterminate the whole nation. What we saw with our own eyes here in Aleppo was really only the last scene in the great tragedy of the extermination of the Armenians. It was only a minute fraction of the horrible drama that was being played out simultaneously in all the other provinces of Turkey. The German Consul from Mosul related, in my presence, at the German club at Aleppo that, in many places on the road from Mosul to Aleppo, he had seen children's hands lying hacked off in such numbers that one could have paved the road with them. The Consuls are of opinion that, so far, probably about one million Armenians have perished in the massacres of the last few months. Of this number, one must reckon that at least half are women and children who have either been murdered or have succumbed to starvation. The Arabs of the village declared that they had killed these Armenians by the Government's orders. A newspaper reporter was told by one of these gentlemen "Certainly we are now punishing many innocent people as well. But we have to guard ourselves even against those who may one day become guilty." On such grounds Turkish statesmen justify the wholesale slaughter of defenceless women and children. A German Catholic ecclesiastic reported that Enver Pasha declared, in the presence of Monsignore Dolci, the Papal Envoy at Constantinople, that he would not rest so long as a single Armenian remained alive. The object of the deportations is the extermination of the whole Armenian nation.
    • Dr. Martin Niepage, in The Horrors of Aleppo; Engl. Trans. Doran Co., apeared in the New York Times publication Current History Vol. 5 Nov. 1916 pp 335-37. Dr Niepage was a German Schoolteacher in Aleppo who directly witnessed and wrote about the horrors of the Armenian Genocide.
  • After the massacres of Djarbekir, the tide of carnage and persecution rolled over the provinces of Adana and Northern Syria (Zeitun, Urfa, Marrash, etc) which were at the time crowded with deportees from Central and Northern Anatolia...The provinces of Van, Bitlis, Djarbekir... were the only ones which suffered massacres in the true sense of the word. In the remaining vilayets of the Empire persecution took the form of deportations, which effected almost the same results as the massacres. there can be no doubt that the massacres and deportations took place in accordance with a laid-out plan for which the responsibility lay with the retrograde party, headed by the Grand Vizier Talat Pasha and the civil authorities under his orders. They aimed to make an end first of the Armenians, then of the greeks and other Christians, Ottoman subjects, in the Empire. We glean ample verification for this from the masacres of Sairt, Djesiret, and the surrounding districts, during which perished no less then two hundred thousand Nestorian Christians, Syrio-Catholics, Jacobites, etc, who had no connection whatever with the Armenians, and who had always been the Sultan's loyal subjects. Officially we are forbidden to give the deportees any ration without a written order signed by the civil authorities of the province from which they came, along with other idiocies invented by Talat Pasha in order to kill the poor devils with starvation.
    • Rafael de Nogales, in Four Years Beneath the Crescent pp 116-18 & p 147 - 1926
  • I learned from them some extremely alarming details regarding the Armenian situation, which made me comprehend perfectly their fully justified fear as to the future fate of their small protégés. I caught sight of the military commander of the place dictating orders to his officers, while a group of kiatihs or secretaries deciphered an enormous heap of telegrams. That unaccustomed activity made me suspect that the storm was about to break. And I was not mistaken. Next morning, which was the twentieth of April, 1915, we stumbled, near El-Aghlat, upon mutilated Armenian corpses strewing the length of the road. One hour later we saw numerous gigantic columns of smoke surge up from the opposite shore of the lake, indicating the sites where the cities and hamlets of the provinces of Van were being devoured by flame. Then I understood. The die was cast. The Armenian "revolution" had begun...April 21. At dawn I was awakened by the noise of shots and volleys. The Armenians had attacked the town. Immediately I mounted my horse and, followed by some armed men, went to see what was happening. Judge of my amazement to discover that the aggressors had not been the Armenians, after ail, but the civil authorities themselves! Supported by the Kurds and the rabble of the vicinity, they were attacking and sacking the Armenian quarter..., I succeeded at last, without serious accident, in approaching the Beledie reis of the town, who was directing the orgy; whereupon I ordered him to stop the massacre. He astounded me by replying that he was doing nothing more than carry out an unequivocal order emanating from the Governor-General of the province ... to exterminate all Armenian males of twelve years of age and over. I, as a soldier, could not prevent the execution of this decree, which was purely civil in character, however much I desired. So I ordered the gendarmes to retire, and waited until the hell was over. At the end of an hour and a half of butchery there remained of the Armenians of Adil-Javus only seven survivors... The civil authorities of the Sultan kill noiselessly and preferably by night, like vampires. Generally they choose as their victim's sepulchre deep lakes in which there are no indiscreet currents to bear the corpse to shore, or lonely mountain caves where dogs and jackals aid in erasing all traces of their crime. Among them I noticed some Kurds belonging to a group of several hundred which, on the following morning, was to help in killing off all the Armenians still in possession of some few positions and edifices around the town. Seeing that the enemy's fire was dwindling down, and unable to endure any longer the odor of scorched flesh from the Armenian corpses scattered among the smoking ruins of the church... Pursued by Kurdish bullets, which felled them by the dozen, the Armenians ran hither and thither like frightened rabbits; and not a few of them sat upon the ground, stupefied, awaiting death like sheep bound to the sacrificial altar, without making the slightest attempt to save themselves. Only a small group of young men kept defending themselves desperately, their backs to a wall, until, overcome at last by sheer exhaustion, they fell one after another under the cutlasses and bullets of the Kurds, who used the sword whenever possible in order to keep from wasting cartridges.
    • Rafael de Nogales, Venuzualan proffesional soldier who served as an officer in the Ottoman Army during WWI and was responsible for the artillery portion of the Ottoman seige of Van in Four Years Beneath the Crescent (1926) a book written about these experiences
  • The Armenian population which is being expelled from its homeland is not only being subjected to the greatest misery but also to a total extermination (27 June 1915) — The manner in which the Armenian are being deported for resettlement purposes is tantamount to death a verdict for the affected people. (1 July 1915) — the time will come when Turkey will have to account for this policy of extermination (13 August 1915).
    • Johann Markgraf Pallavicini, Austrian Ambassador to Turkey, 1906-1918.
  • Thirty thousand Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in Turkey. Almost no one dares speak but me, and the nationalists hate me for that.
    • Orhan Pamuk, Internationally recognized Turkish author, awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature (2006) in an interview with Swiss newspaper Tagesanzeiger (2005)
  • Pamuk has made groundless claims against the Turkish identity, the Turkish military and Turkey as a whole. He should be punished for violating Articles 159 and 312 of the Turkish penal code. He made a statement provoking the people to hatred and animosity through the media, which is defined as a crime in Article 312.
    • Orhan Pekmezci, Kayseri Bar Association Attorney upon filing charges against Pamuk for violations of Turkish Penal Code (2005)
  • The Van uprising certainly was an act of desperation. The local Armenians realized that general massacres against the Armenians had already started and they would be the next target. In the course of the summer 1915 the Turkish government with inexorable consequence brought its bloody task of extermination of an entire nation to an end...The gruesome destruction of the Armenian nation in Asia Minor by the Ittihadist government was an act which was barbaric and which to the highest degree outrages all human senses.
    • Joseph Pomiankowski, Vice-Marshall, Austrian Military Plenipotentiary in Wartime Turkey during WWI, in Collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Vienna, 1928, p.160 - 161.
  • The criminal gangs who were released from the prisons, after a week's training at the War Ministry's training grounds, were sent off to the Caucasian front as the brigands of the Special Organization, perpetrating the worst crimes against the Armenians ... The Ittihadists intended to destroy the Armenians, and thereby to do away with the Question of the Eastern Provinces.... In order to justify this enormous crime [of the Armenian genocide] the requisite propaganda material was thoroughly prepared in Istanbul. [It included such statements as:] the Armenians are in league with the enemy. They will launch an uprising in Istanbul, kill off the Ittihadist leaders and will succeed in opening up the straits [to enable the Allied fleets to capture Istanbul]. These vile and malicious incitements [were such, however, that they] could persuade only people who were not even able to feel the pangs of their own hunger. ... among those Armenians who were atrociously wasted, despite the fact that they were most innocent, guiltless, and who had committed no crime whatsoever, were the Armenians of Bursa, Ankara, Eskiehir, and Konya.
    • Ahmet Refik, Turkish Military Intelligence Officer in WWI in İki Komite-İki Kıtâl, İstanbul 1919
  • I defended the Armenians who, even though they were completely innocent, were murdered simply because they were Armenians. The dictates of justice and the state's badge required such intervention.
    • Ottoman Senator Ahmet Riza, from his memoirs
  • The partisans of Ittihad are unabashedly conceding that their ultimate aim [Endziel] is the total annihilation (ganzliche Ausrottung) of the Armenians of Turkey, adding, "After the war we no longer will have any Armenians in Turkey."
    • Dr. Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter, German Vice Consul, Erzerum, 28 July 1915
  • They [the Ittahadist leaders] have fabricated, for the benefit of Allied Powers, an alleged revolution stirred up by the Dashnak party. They have inflated the importance of isolated incidents and acts of self-defense by the Armenians and used it as an excuse to deport the bordering population. On the way. the Armenians have been murdered, on orders of the Committee, by gangs of Kurds and Turks and at times, even by gendarmes.
  • The failure to do justice in the Armenian Genocide can be traced in important part to the overlapping, interlocking dynamics of economics, international law, and mass murder. The more predatory aspects of international law dovetailed well with the destructive social patterns of the Turkish killing. The law proved to be incapable of prosecuting genocide without drawing more "conventional" aspects of colonialism, national development, and international trade into the dock as crimes as well. The legal and economic precedents set in the wake of World War I had considerable impact on the course of the Holocaust during World War II, just as the more widely understood political precedents did. Hitler himself repeatedly raised the international community's failure to do justice in the wake of the Armenian Genocide to explain and justify his own racial theories, and the Germans' pattern of "learning through doing" genocide was similar in important respects to that of the Turks. While the two crimes were different in important respects, they both were led by ideologically driven, authoritarian political parties that had come to power in the midst of a deep social crisis. Both the Ittihad and the Nazis-each originally a marginal political party-managed to perpetrate genocide by enlisting the established institutions of conventional life-the national courts, commercial structures, scholarly community, and so on-in the tasks of mass persecution and eventually mass murder. In both cases, the ruling party achieved its genocidal aims in part by offering economic incentives for persecution, the most basic of which were the opportunity to share in the spoils of deported people and the ability to transfer the costs of economic crisis onto the shoulders of the despised group.
    • Christopher Simpson, in The Splendid Blond Beast (1995)
  • The deprotation and destruction of the Armenians was decided by the Young Turks Committee in Constantinople.
    • Colonel Stange, Commander of the 8th Regiment consisting mostly of convicts released from Turkish prisons to join the killer bands of the Special Organization - German Foreign Ministry Archives.
  • The Armenian Genocide is proven in all its components — among them intent. The converging evidence is well in excess of that generally judged abundant in establishing other historical truths. The genocide was a horrendous crime. The evidence is there — province by province, city by city, village by village, hamlet by hanlet, with its countless variations according to time and place yet all the same in the vast process of extermination — genocide. A deliberate plan, carefully organized and brutally executed. The deniers and rationalizers offend the dignity of the historian and of all humanity.
    • Yves Ternon, author of several volumes concerning human rights and genocide in Freedom and Responsibility of the Historian — the "Lewis Affair" (1999)
  • It can no longer be denied that the Turks... have undertaken the extermination of the Armenians race and it appears that they have largely succeeded in it. With certain air of gleefulness Talaat recently told me that in Erzerum, for example, there should be remaining not a single Armenian... Turkey today is under a maniacal spell due to the realization that she carried out the extermination of the Armenian race with impunity.
    • Karl Count zu Trautmansdorff-Weinsberg, Temporary Ambassador to Turkey, (30 September 1915) Austrian Foriegn Ministry Archives
  • In fact most of the available evidence points to the conclusion that a systematic decimation of the Armenian population in the eastern provinces had already been decided on by the Ittihad ve Terakki regime, and that the troubles in Van and elsewhere merely served as a convenient excuse for getting a program of mass deportations and large-scale extermination.
    • Ulrich Trumpener, historian, in Germany and the Ottoman Empire (1968) Princeton, p.203.
  • By February 1916, 1.5 million Armenians were destroyed ... the first step toward the recovery of the economic predominance in Turkey ... there was joy in the government circles that the long-desired opportunity finally presented itself...
    • A. A. Türkei, 134/35, A18613, pp. 1,2,3,4 "Volkswirtschaftliche Studien in der Türkey" report.
  • [When asked what Turkish people think about the Armenian Genocide] — Sadly, young people in Turkey know nothing about the subject, All they know is nationalist things written in school textbooks. And because they lack that knowledge, they believe that the Armenians plot bad things against their country. ... maybe future generations will address the subject in a more reasonable and calm manner.
    • Yeftan Turkyilmaz, Turkish researcher who has worked in Armenian State archives, in an interview with Gayane Danielian - E/RL (11 May 2005)
  • Until recently, in fact at the beginning of this year, the Armenians were regarded as the most reliable element, indeed the only reliable people within the Christian elements in Turkey. One could read it in all the newspapers and the important Turkish dignitaries confirmed this on every occasion, which presented itself...Since March, an about-turn has taken place which is as general and consequent as if the Turks had never known up until now what dangerous people had been living within their midst.
    • von Tysza, German journalist in Ottoman Turkey, from German Archives - (1915-10-01-DE-001)
  • The Turks are vigorously carrying through their cruel intention, to exterminate the Armenian people,
    • Carl Wandel, (3 July 1915); as reported by Robert Fisk in The Independent (20 May 2006)
  • It is evident that deportations of Armenians is not motivated by military considerations, the minister of the Interior Talaat Bey recently in a conversation with Dr. Mortsmann presently in the Imperial Service, declared openly that the Porte wants to profit from the World War for radically finishing their internal enemies – the Christians before the intervention of outside powers.
    • Baron Hans Freiherr von Wangenheim, German Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1912 to October 1915, in a document sent to the German Chancellery, 17 June 1915
  • The manner in which the matter of relocation is being handled demonstrate that the government is in fact pursuing the goal of annihialating the Armenian race in Turkey.
  • In 1982, I refuse to take part in a colloquium whose subject is close to my heart. Organized by two Israeli professors of psychiatry, this symposium on genocide, which I am to chair, is scheduled for early June in Tel Aviv. Everything is set. Scholars and historians from several continents have accepted our invitation, among them Armenians. After all, they have ideas on this subject which has touched them closely. How could one forget the massacre of their parents and grandparents at the hands of the Turkish army? At the last moment, we encounter a major hurdle. Under pressure from Turkey, the Israelis urge me to revoke our invitation to the Armenians. I refuse. It would be too humiliating. And to humiliate is to blaspheme. The pressure increases. I am given to understand that if a single Armenian participates in the conference, Israeli-Turkish relations will suffer. And that there would be consequences for Jews in certain Arab countries. Jewish emissaries from Istanbul confirm this to me with documents. No matter, I will not offend our Armenian guests. I resign as chairman... 'A human life weighs more than all the books written about human life.'

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From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

The Armenian Genocide

The book will look at the situation in which the Armenian Genocide was able to take place. It will look into those involved and where and when important events took place, to try and establish a clear picture of the extent of what has happened.


Simple English

[[File:|right|thumb|250px|Massacre By Turks in Caucasus Towns, New York Times, February 23, 1915.]] The Armenian Genocide was the forcible deportation and massacring of Armenians during the government of the Young Turks from 1915 to 1917 in the Ottoman Empire. [1]


= Planning

= In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire went into the World War I on the side of the Central Powers. İsmail Enver, who was then the Minister of War, launched a disastrous military campaign against Russian forces in the Caucasus in hopes of capturing the city of Baku. His forces were routed at the Battle of Sarikamis, and many more of his men froze to death.

Returning to Istanbul, Enver largely blamed the Armenians living in the region for actively siding with the Russians.[2] In 1914, the Ottoman Empire's War Office had already begun a propaganda drive to present Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire as a liability and threat to the country's security. An Ottoman naval officer in the War Office described the planning:

In order to justify this enormous crime the requisite propaganda material was thoroughly prepared in Istanbul. [It included such statements as] "the Armenians are in league with the enemy. They will launch an uprising in Istanbul, kill off the Ittihadist leaders and will succeed in opening the straits [of the Dardanelles]."[3]

The Ottoman government, moving quickly, arrested an estimated 250 Armenian intellectuals on the night of 24 April 1915.[4]

The Turkish massacres of Armenians in 1894, 1895, 1896, and 1909 were still fresh in their minds. [5]

Foreign accounts

"I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared with the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915." Henry Morgenthau, American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, 1913-1916. -Henry Morgenthau

Influence of the Armenian Genocide on Adolf Hitler

The Armenian Genocide is said to have impacted Adolf Hitler, according to his many references to the Ottoman killings of Armenians.[6] The extent of Hitler's knowledge of the Armenian Genocide is unclear, though he did refer to their destruction several times.[7] The most known quote attributed to Hitler on the Armenians is taken from an August 1939 military meeting, prior to the invasion of Poland:

I have issued the command -- and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad -- that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness -- for the present only in the East -- with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space [Lebensraum] which we need. Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?[8]



  1. "Cultural Cleansing: Who Remembers The Armenians," in Robert Bevan. The Destruction of Memory, Reaction Books, London. 2006, pages 25-60
  2. Balakian. The Burning Tigris, p. 200
  3. Dadrian., History of the Armenian Genocide, p. 220
  4. Balakian. The Burning Tigris, pp. 211-212
  5. "A Peace to End All Peace", by David Fromkin, p211.
  6. Sumner, Colin (2003). The Blackwell Companion to Criminology. Blackwell Publishing. pp. p. 74. ISBN 0-631-22092-5. 
  7. Fisk. Great War for Civilisation, p. 330
  8. Lochner, Louis P.What About Germany? Dodd, Mead & Company, 1942 pp. 11-12.

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