The Armenian Genocide[a] was the systematic mass murder and expulsion of ethnic Armenians carried out in Turkey and adjoining regions by the Ottoman government during World War I. Although sporadic massacres of Armenians began in mid-1914, the starting date of the genocide is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, the day that Ottoman authorities rounded up, arrested, and deported from Constantinople (now Istanbul) to the region of Angora (Ankara), hundreds of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders, most of whom were eventually murdered.
The genocide, ordered by the Three Pashas as part of a process of forced Turkification, was implemented in two phases. First, the able-bodied male population was killed in massacres. Second, according to the Tehcir Law, an estimated 800,000 to 1.2 million women, children, elderly, and infirm Armenians were deported on death marches leading to the Syrian Desert in 1915 and 1916. Driven forward by military escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre. Only around 200,000 deportees were still alive by the end of 1916. According to some definitions the genocide includes the Republic of Turkey's massacres of tens of thousands of Armenian civilians during the 1920 Turkish–Armenian War.
Estimates of the total number of Armenians who died as a result of Ottoman and Turkish government policies between 1915 and 1923 range from 600,000 to over 1 million. Most Armenian diaspora communities around the world came into being as a direct result of the genocide. Other ethnic groups were similarly targeted for extermination in the Assyrian genocide and the Greek genocide, and their treatment is considered by some historians to be part of the same genocidal policy.
Raphael Lemkin was inspired by the annihilation of the Armenians to define the crime of systematic extermination of a people, which he called genocide, in 1943. The Armenian Genocide is the second-most-studied case of genocide after the Holocaust. Turkey denies that the word genocide is an accurate term for these crimes. As of 2019[update], governments and parliaments of 32 countries, including the United States, Russia, and Germany, have recognized the events as a genocide.
English-language words and phrases used by contemporary accounts to characterize the event include "massacres", "atrocities", "annihilation", "holocaust", "the murder of a nation", "race extermination" and "a crime against humanity". In German, the word Völkermord (lit. 'the murder of a people')—directly equivalent to the later English word genocide—was frequently used for killing of Armenians, beginning with the Hamidian massacres in the 1890s. Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin coined the word genocide in 1943, with the fate of the Armenians in mind; he later explained that: "it happened so many times ... first to the Armenians, then after the Armenians, Hitler took action." Although the 1948 Genocide Convention does not have retroactive application, the Armenian Genocide otherwise meets the legal definition.
The survivors of the genocide used a number of Armenian terms to name the event. The name Aghed or Aghet (Աղետ), usually translated as "Catastrophe", was the term most often used in Armenian literature to name the event. Yeghern (Evil Crime), or variants like Medz Yeghern (Great Crime) and Abrilian Yeghern (the April Crime) were commonly used. The Turkish government uses expressions such as "so-called Armenian genocide", "Armenian Question", or "Armenian Tragedy", often characterizing the charge of genocide as "Armenian allegations" or "Armenian lies".
Armenians under Ottoman rule
The western portion of historical Armenia, known as Western Armenia, had come under Ottoman jurisdiction by the Peace of Amasya (1555) and was permanently divided from Eastern Armenia by the Treaty of Zuhab (1639). Thereafter, the region was alternatively referred to as "Turkish" or "Ottoman" Armenia. The vast majority of Armenians were grouped together into a semi-autonomous community, the Armenian millet, which was led by one of the spiritual heads of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople. Armenians were mainly concentrated in the eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire, although large communities were also found in the western provinces, as well as in the capital, Constantinople.
The Armenian community was made up of three religious denominations: Armenian Catholic, Armenian Protestant, and Armenian Apostolic, the Church of the vast majority of Armenians. Under the millet system, the Armenian community was allowed to rule itself under its own system of governance with fairly little interference from the Ottoman government. Most Armenians—approximately 70%—lived in poor and dangerous conditions in the rural countryside, with the exception of the wealthy, Constantinople-based Amira class, a social elite whose members included the Duzians (Directors of the Imperial Mint), the Balyans (Chief Imperial Architects) and the Dadians (Superintendent of the Gunpowder Mills and manager of industrial factories). Ottoman census figures clash with the statistics collected by the Armenian Patriarchate, but according to the latter, there were almost three million Armenians living in the empire in 1878 (400,000 in Constantinople and the Balkans, 600,000 in Asia Minor and Cilicia, 670,000 in Lesser Armenia and the area near Kayseri, and 1,300,000 in Western Armenia).
In the eastern provinces, the Armenians were subject to the whims of their Turkish and Kurdish neighbors, who would regularly overtax them, subject them to brigandage and kidnapping, force them to convert to Islam, and otherwise exploit them without interference from central or local authorities. In the Ottoman Empire, in accordance with the dhimmi system implemented in Muslim countries, they, like all other Christians and also Jews, were accorded certain freedoms. The dhimmi system in the Ottoman Empire was largely based upon the Pact of Umar. The client status established the rights of the non-Muslims to property, livelihood and freedom of worship, but they were in essence treated as second-class citizens in the empire and referred to in Turkish as gavours, a pejorative word meaning "infidel" or "unbeliever". The clause of the Pact of Umar which prohibited non-Muslims from building new places of worship was historically imposed on some communities of the Ottoman Empire and ignored in other cases, at the discretion of local authorities. Although there were no laws mandating religious ghettos, this led to non-Muslim communities being clustered around existing houses of worship.
In addition to other legal limitations, Christians were not considered equals to Muslims and several prohibitions were placed on them. Testimony against Muslims by Christians and Jews was inadmissible in courts of law wherein a Muslim could be punished; this meant that their testimony could only be considered in commercial cases. They were forbidden to carry weapons or ride atop horses and camels. Their houses could not overlook those of Muslims; and their religious practices were severely circumscribed, e.g., the ringing of church bells was strictly forbidden.
In the mid-19th century, the three major European powers—the United Kingdom, France and Russia—began to question the Ottoman Empire's treatment of its Christian minorities and pressure it to grant equal rights to all its subjects. From 1839 to the declaration of a constitution in 1876, the Ottoman government instituted the Tanzimat, a series of reforms designed to improve the status of minorities. Nevertheless, most of the reforms were never implemented because the empire's Muslim population rejected the principle of equality for Christians. By the late 1870s, the European Greeks, along with several other Christian nations in the Balkans, frustrated with their conditions, had, often with the help of the Entente powers, broken free of Ottoman rule.:192
The Armenians remained, by and large, passive during these years, earning them the title of millet-i sadika or the "loyal millet". In the mid-1860s and early 1870s this passivity gave way to new currents of thinking in Armenian society. Led by intellectuals educated at European universities or American missionary schools in Turkey, Armenians began to question their second-class status and press for better treatment from their government. In one such instance, after amassing the signatures of peasants from Western Armenia, the Armenian Communal Council petitioned the Ottoman government to redress their principal grievances: "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". The Ottoman government considered these grievances and promised to punish those responsible, but no meaningful steps to do so were ever taken.:36
Following the violent suppression of Christians during the Great Eastern Crisis, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Serbia, the United Kingdom and France invoked the 1856 Treaty of Paris by claiming that it gave them the right to intervene and protect the Ottoman Empire's Christian minorities.:35ff Under growing pressure, the government of Sultan Abdul Hamid II declared itself a constitutional monarchy with a parliament (which was almost immediately prorogued) and entered into negotiations with the powers. At the same time, the Armenian patriarch of Constantinople, 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.:37
The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 ended with Russia's decisive victory and its army in occupation of large parts of eastern Turkey, but not before entire Armenian districts had been devastated by massacres carried out with the connivance of Ottoman authorities. In the wake of these events, Patriarch Nerses and his emissaries made repeated approaches to Russian leaders to urge the inclusion of a clause granting local self-government to the Armenians in the forthcoming Treaty of San Stefano, which was signed on 3 March 1878. The Russians were receptive and drew up the clause, but the Ottomans flatly rejected it during negotiations. In its place, the two sides agreed on a clause making the Sublime Porte's implementation of reforms in the Armenian provinces a condition of Russia's withdrawal, thus designating Russia the guarantor of the reforms. The clause entered the treaty as Article 16 and marked the first appearance of what came to be known in European diplomacy as the Armenian Question.
Upon receiving a copy of the treaty, Britain promptly objected to it and particularly Article 16, which it saw as ceding too much influence to Russia. It immediately pushed for a congress of the great powers to be convened to discuss and revise the treaty, leading to the Congress of Berlin in June–July 1878.[b] Patriarch Nerses of the Armenian Apostolic Church sent a delegation led by his predecessor, Archbishop Khrimian Hayrik, to speak for the Armenians, but it was not admitted into the sessions on the grounds that it did not represent a country. Confined to the periphery, the delegation did its best to contact the representatives of the powers and argue the case for Armenian administrative autonomy within the Ottoman Empire, but to little effect.
Britain and Russia, having already reached an understanding a month before the congress, entered with the other great powers into the drafting of a final treaty. The old clause was replaced with one in which the Sublime Porte agreed "to carry out, without further delay, the improvements and reforms demanded by local requirements in the provinces inhabited by Armenians", and to "guarantee their security against the Circassians and the Kurds." The Armenians, although perceiving the new clause to be an improvement from the previous one, noted the clear absence of a guarantee of autonomy in addition to the confirmed evacuation of Russian soldiers as a reverse from the San Stefano treaty. :38–39 The clause was readily adopted as Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin on the last day of the Congress, 13 July 1878, to the deep disappointment of the Armenian delegation.:38–39
Armenian national liberation movement
Prospects for reforms faded rapidly following the signing of the Berlin treaty, as security conditions in the Armenian provinces went from bad to worse and abuses proliferated. Upset with this turn of events, a number of disillusioned Armenian intellectuals living in Europe and Russia decided to form political parties and societies dedicated to the betterment of their compatriots in the Ottoman Empire. In the last quarter of the 19th century, this movement came to be dominated by three parties: the Armenakan, whose influence was limited to Van; the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party; and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun). Ideological differences aside, all the parties had the common goal of achieving better social conditions for the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire through self-defense and advocating increased European pressure on the Ottoman government to implement the promised reforms.
Hamidian massacres, 1894–1896
Soon after the Treaty of Berlin was signed, Sultan Abdul Hamid II (1876–1909) attempted to forestall the implementation of its reform provisions by asserting that Armenians did not make up a majority in the provinces and that their reports of abuses were largely exaggerated or false. In 1890, Abdul Hamid created a paramilitary outfit known as the Hamidiye, which was mostly made up of Kurdish irregulars tasked to "deal with the Armenians as they wished".:40 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, those 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 in 1895 brought the excesses to the attention of the Great Powers, who subsequently condemned the Porte.:40–42
In May 1895, the Powers forced Abdul Hamid to sign a new reform package designed to curtail the powers of the Hamidiye, but, like the Berlin Treaty, it was never implemented. On 1 October 1895, 2,000 Armenians assembled in Constantinople to petition for the implementation of the reforms, but Ottoman police units violently broke the rally up.:57–58 Soon, massacres of Armenians broke out in Constantinople and then engulfed the rest of the Armenian-populated provinces of Bitlis, Diyarbekir, Erzurum, Harput, Sivas, Trebizond (Trabzon), and Van. Estimates differ on how many Armenians were killed, but European documentation of the pogroms, which became known as the Hamidian massacres, placed the figures at between 100,000 and 300,000.
Although Hamid was never directly implicated, it is believed that the massacres had his tacit approval.:42 Frustrated with European indifference to the massacres, a group of members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation seized the European-managed Ottoman Bank on 26 August 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", "bloody Sultan", and "Abdul the Damned".:35, 115 The Great Powers vowed to take action and enforce new reforms, which never came to fruition due to conflicting political and economic interests.
Young Turk Revolution of 1908
On 24 July 1908, Armenians' hopes for equality in the Ottoman Empire brightened when a coup d'état staged by officers in the Ottoman Third Army based in Salonika removed Abdul Hamid II from power and restored the country to a constitutional monarchy. The officers were part of the Young Turk movement that wanted to reform administration of the perceived decadent state of the Ottoman Empire and modernize it to European standards.[better source needed] The movement was an anti-Hamidian coalition made up of two distinct groups, the liberal constitutionalists and the nationalists. The former were more democratic and accepting of Armenians, whereas the latter were less tolerant of Armenians and their frequent requests for European assistance.:140–41
One of the numerous factions within the Young Turk movement was a secret revolutionary organization called the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). It drew its membership from disaffected army officers based in Salonika and was behind a wave of mutinies against the central government. 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. Abdulhamid, shaken by the wave of resentment, stepped down from power as Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Arabs, Bulgarians and Turks alike rejoiced in his dethronement.:143–44
Adana massacre of 1909
Abdulhamid attempted a countercoup in early 1909, ultimately resulting in the 31 March Incident on 13 April 1909. Some reactionary 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 Young Turk government, it spilled over into pogroms against Armenians who were perceived as having supported the restoration of the constitution.:68–69 About 4,000 Turkish civilians and soldiers participated in the rampage. Estimates of the number of Armenians killed in the course of the Adana massacre range between 15,000 and 30,000 people.:69
Conflict in the Balkans and Russia
In 1912, the First Balkan War broke out and ended with the defeat of the Ottoman Empire as well as the loss of 85% of its European territory.:84 The Turkish nationalist movement in the country gradually came to view Anatolia as their last refuge. An important consequence of the Balkan Wars was also the mass expulsion of Muslims (known as muhacirs) from the Balkans. Beginning in the mid-19th century, hundreds of thousands of Muslims, including Turks, Circassians, and Chechens, were forcibly expelled and others voluntarily migrated from the Caucasus and the Balkans (Rumelia) as a result of the Russo-Turkish wars, the Russo-Circassian War and the conflicts in the Balkans. Muslim society in the empire was incensed by this flood of refugees. A journal published in Constantinople expressed the mood of the times: "Let this be a warning ... O Muslims, don't get comfortable! Do not let your blood cool before taking revenge".:86 As many as 850,000 of these refugees were settled in areas where the Armenians resided. The muhacirs resented the status of their relatively well-off neighbors and, as historian Taner Akçam and others have noted, some of them came to play a pivotal role in the killings of the Armenians and the confiscation of their properties during the genocide.:86–87
Decision and early actions
Entry into World War I
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 who planned to launch uprisings against the government.:220 In July 1914, the Ottoman government had sent representatives to the Armenian congress at Erzurum, demanding that Ottoman Armenians incite an insurrection of Russian Armenians against the Russian army in the event a Caucasus front was opened.:136 Sporadic massacres of Armenians were ongoing from the late summer.
On 2 November 1914, the Ottoman Empire opened the Middle Eastern theater of World War I by entering hostilities on the side of the Central Powers and against the Allies. The battles of the Caucasus Campaign, the Persian Campaign and the Gallipoli Campaign affected several populous Armenian centers.:136 On 24 December 1914, Minister of War Enver Pasha implemented a plan to encircle and destroy the Russian Caucasus Army at Sarikamish in order to regain territories lost to Russia after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878. Enver Pasha's forces were routed in the battle, and almost completely destroyed. Returning to Constantinople, Enver Pasha publicly blamed his defeat on Armenians in the region having actively sided with the Russians.:200
In November 1914, the Shaykh ul-Islam, Ürgüplü Mustafa Hayri Efendi, proclaimed Jihad (Holy War) against the Christians: this was later used as a factor to provoke radical masses in the implementation of the Armenian Genocide. The war was intended to lead to the Ottoman state becoming greater and more powerful than had ever been; in the world envisioned by the Unionist leaders, Ottoman society was to become exclusively Turkish and Muslim; there was no place for the Christian Armenians in this society.
Decision to commit genocide
Due to the lack of documentation, it is debated when and how the decision to murder the Armenians came about, although most historians date the final decision to the end of March or early April 1915. Based on the letter from Bahaeddin Şakir quoted at right, Akçam concludes that the decision was made between 15 February and 3 March 1915.
According to Gerard Libaridian, the decision to enter the war and the decision to begin the genocide were part and parcel of the same progress as the war held out the promise of national greatness once the Allies were defeated while the Armenians were seen as an inner enemy holding the Turks back from the national glory that was the dream of the Unionist Central Committee. Furthermore, the war-time radicalising atmosphere of emergency and national crisis made it possible to pursue policies that would be seen as unacceptable in peace-time.
In 1913, the Committee of Union and Progress founded the "Special Organization" (Turkish: Teşkilât-ı Mahsusa).:182, 185 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. According to the Mazhar commissions attached to the tribunal as soon as November 1914, 124 criminals were released from Bünyan 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 with escorting the convoys of Armenian deportees. Vehib Pasha, commander of the Ottoman Third Army, called those members of the Special Organization the "butchers of the human species".
On 25 February 1915, the Ottoman General Staff released the War Minister Enver Pasha's Directive 8682 on "Increased security and precautions" to all military units calling for the removal of all ethnic Armenians serving in the Ottoman forces from their posts and for their demobilization. They were assigned to the unarmed Labour battalions (Turkish: amele taburları). The directive accused the Armenian Patriarchate of releasing State secrets to the Russians. Enver Pasha explained this decision as "out of fear that they would collaborate with the Russians". Traditionally, the Ottoman Army only drafted non-Muslim males 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 labour battalions. Before February, some of the Armenian recruits were utilized as labourers (hamals), though they would ultimately be executed. Transferring Armenian conscripts from active combat to passive, unarmed logistic sections was an important precursor to the subsequent genocide. As reported in The Memoirs of Naim Bey, the execution of the Armenians in these battalions was part of a premeditated strategy of the CUP. Many of these Armenian recruits were executed by local Turkish gangs.:178
Van, April 1915
On 19 April 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. Jevdet Bey had already used his official writ in nearby villages, ostensibly to search for arms, but in fact to initiate wholesale massacres.:202 The Armenians offered five hundred soldiers and exemption money for the rest in order to buy time, but Jevdet Bey accused the Armenians of "rebellion" and asserted 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".:205
The next day, 20 April 1915, the siege of Van began when an Armenian woman was harassed, and the two Armenian men who came to her aid were killed by Ottoman soldiers. The Armenian defenders protected the 30,000 residents and 15,000 refugees living in an area of roughly one square kilometer of the Armenian Quarter and suburb of Aigestan with 1,500 ablebodied riflemen who were supplied with 300 rifles and 1,000 pistols and antique weapons. The conflict lasted until General Yudenich of Russia came to their rescue.
Reports of the conflict reached then United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morgenthau, Sr. 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.:300
Beginning of deportations
On the night of 23–24 April 1915, known as Red Sunday, the Ottoman government rounded up and imprisoned an estimated 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders of the Ottoman capital, Constantinople, and later those in other centers, who were moved to two holding centers near Angora (Ankara).:211–12 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. Following the passage of Tehcir Law on 29 May 1915, the Armenian leaders, except for the few who were able to return to Constantinople, were gradually deported and assassinated. The date 24 April is conventionally held to be the beginning of the genocide.
During the next few months deportation was sporadic. After it became clear that other countries would not object strongly, the deportations were speeded in June 1915.
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.:186–88 With the implementation of the Tehcir Law, the confiscation of Armenian property and the slaughter of Armenians that ensued upon its 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.:329–31:212–13 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".
Historian Hans-Lukas Kieser states that, from the statements of Talaat Pasha it is clear that the officials were aware that the deportation order was genocidal. Another historian Taner Akçam states that the telegrams show that the overall coordination of the genocide was taken over by Talaat Pasha. In 2017, Akçam was able to access one of the original telegrams, archived in Jerusalem, which inquired about Armenian liquidation and elimination.
Some politicians tried to prevent the deportations and subsequent massacres. One such politician, Mehmet Celal Bey, was known for saving thousands of lives. When defying the orders of deportation, Celal Bey was removed from his post as governor of Aleppo and transferred to Konya. Nevertheless, as the deportations continued, he repeatedly demanded that the central authorities provide shelter for the deportees. In addition to these demands, he sent the Sublime Porte many telegrams and letters of protest stating that the "measures taken against the Armenians were, from every point of view, contrary to the higher interests of the fatherland." His demands, however, were ignored.
Hasan Mazhar Bey, who was appointed Vali of Ankara on 18 June 1914, also refused to proceed with the order of deportations. Due to his refusal to deport the Armenians, Mazhar Bey was removed from his post as governor in August 1915 and replaced with Atif Bey, a prominent member of the Special Organization. He recalled: "Then one day Atif Bey came to me and orally conveyed the interior minister's orders that the Armenians were to be murdered during the deportation. 'No, Atif Bey,' I said, 'I am a governor, not a bandit, I cannot do this, I will leave this post and you can come and do it.'" After leaving his post, Mazhar went on to report that "in the kaza [district], the plunder of Armenian property, by both officials and the population, assumed incredible proportions." He also became the key figure in the establishment of the Mazhar Commission, an investigative committee which immediately took up the task of gathering evidence and testimonies, with a special effort to obtain inquiries on civil servants implicated in massacres committed against Armenians. Süleyman Nazif, the Vali of Baghdad, who later resigned in protest of the Ottoman government's policy towards the Armenians, wrote in a 28 November 1918 issue of the Hadisat newspaper: "Under the guise of deportations, mass murder was perpetrated. Given the fact that the crime is all too evident, the perpetrators should have been hanged already."
The Armenians were marched out to the Syrian town of Deir ez-Zor and the surrounding desert. The Ottoman government deliberately withheld the facilities and supplies that would have been necessary to sustain the life of hundreds of thousands of Armenian deportees during and after their forced march to the Syrian desert. 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". Talaat Pasha and Djemal Pasha were aware that by abandoning the Armenian deportees in the desert they were condemning them to certain death. So many deaths occurred during the marches that the dead bodies of Armenians were left strewn beside the reads. In order to prevent photographs of such atrocities, the Ottoman government ordered that the corpses be cleared as soon as possible.
A dispatch from a "high diplomatic source in Turkey, not American, reporting the testimony of trustworthy witnesses" about the plight of Armenian deportees in northern Arabia and the Lower Euphrates valley was extensively quoted by The New York Times in August 1916:
The witnesses have seen thousands of deported Armenians under tents in the open, in caravans on the march, descending the river in boats and in all phases of their miserable life. Only in a few places does the Government issue any rations, and those are quite insufficient. The people, therefore, themselves are forced to satisfy their hunger with food begged in that scanty land or found in the parched fields. 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.
German engineers and labourers 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".:326
Rape was an integral part of the genocide; military commanders told their men to "do to [the women] whatever you wish", resulting in widespread sexual abuse. Deportees were displayed naked in Damascus and sold as sex slaves in some areas, including Mosul according to the report of the German consul there, constituting an important source of income for accompanying soldiers. Dr. Walter Rössler, the German consul in Aleppo during the genocide, heard from an "objective" Armenian that around a quarter of young women, whose appearance was "more or less pleasing", were regularly raped by the gendarmes, and that "even more beautiful ones" were violated by 10–15 men. This resulted in girls and women being left behind dying.
A network of 25 concentration camps was set up by the Ottoman government to dispose of the Armenians who had survived the deportations to their ultimate point. This network, situated in the region of Turkey's present-day borders with Iraq and Syria, was directed by Şükrü Kaya, one of Talaat Pasha's right-hand men. Some of the camps were only temporary transit points. Others, such as Radjo, Katma, and Azaz, were briefly used as mass graves and then vacated by autumn 1915. Camps such as Lale, Tefridje, Dipsi, Del-El, and Ra's al-'Ayn were built specifically for those whose life expectancy was just a few days. According to genocide scholar Hilmar Kaiser, the Ottoman authorities refused to provide food and water to the victims, increasing the mortality rate. According to The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies, "Muslims were eager to obtain Armenian women. Authorities registered such marriages but did not record the deaths of the former Armenian husbands."
Bernau, an American citizen of German descent, traveled to the areas where Armenians were incarcerated and wrote a report that was deemed factual by Rössler, the German Consul at Aleppo. He reports mass graves containing over 60,000 people in Meskene and large numbers of mounds of corpses, as the Armenians died due to hunger and disease. He reported seeing 450 orphans, who received at most 150 grams (5.3 oz) of bread per day, in a tent of 5 square metres (54 sq ft) to 6 square metres (65 sq ft). Dysentery swept through the camp and days passed between the instances of distribution of bread to some. In "Abu Herrera", near Meskene, he described how the guards let 240 Armenians starve, and wrote that they searched "horse droppings" for grains.
Large parts of the local population willingly participated in massacres.
Lt. Hasan Maruf of the Ottoman army describes how a population of a village were taken all together and then burned. The Commander of the Third Army Vehib's 12-page affidavit, which was dated 5 December 1918, was presented in the Trebizond (Trabzon) trial series (29 March 1919) included in the Key Indictment, reporting such a mass burning of the population of an entire village near Muş: "The shortest method for disposing of the women and children concentrated in the various camps was to burn them". Further, it was reported that "Turkish prisoners who had apparently witnessed some of these scenes were horrified and maddened at remembering the sight. They told the Russians that the stench of the burning human flesh permeated the air for many days after". Genocide scholar Vahakn Dadrian wrote that 80,000 Armenians in 90 villages across the Muş plain were burned in "stables and haylofts".
Trebizond (now Trabzon) was the main city in Trebizond Vilayet; Oscar S. Heizer, the American consul at Trebizond, reported: "This plan did not suit Nail Bey ... Many of the children were loaded into boats and taken out to sea and thrown overboard". Hafiz Mehmet, a Turkish deputy serving Trebizond, testified during a 21 December 1918 parliamentary session of the Chamber of Deputies that "the district's governor loaded the Armenians into barges and had them thrown overboard." The Italian consul of Trebizond in 1915, Giacomo Gorrini, writes: "I saw thousands of innocent women and children placed on boats which were capsized in the Black Sea". Dadrian places the number of Armenians killed in the Trebizond Vilayet by drowning at 50,000. The Trebizond trials reported Armenians having been drowned in the Black Sea; according to a testimony, women and children were loaded on boats in "Değirmendere" to be drowned in the sea.
Hoffman Philip, the American chargé d'affaires at Constantinople, wrote: "Boat loads sent from Zor down the river arrived at Ana, one thirty miles [50 km] away, with three fifths of passengers missing".:246–47 According to Robert Fisk, 900 Armenian women were drowned in Bitlis, while in Erzincan, the corpses in the Euphrates resulted in a change of course of the river for a few hundred meters. Dadrian also wrote that "countless" Armenians were drowned in the Euphrates and its tributaries.
Killings by physicians
Ottoman physicians contributed to the planning and execution of the genocide. The physicians Behaeddin Shakir and Nazım Bey were leading figures in the leadership committee of the Committee of Union and Progress and both held leadership roles in the Special Organization. Other physicians used their medical expertise to facilitate the killings, including designing methods for poisoning victims and using Armenians as subjects for lethal human experimentation. Morphine overdose, toxic gas, and typhoid inoculation were all reported as methods of killing Armenians. 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".
Confiscation of property
The Tehcir Law brought some measures regarding the property of the deportees, and 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.:224 Armenians lost their wealth and property without compensation. Businesses and farms were lost, and all schools, churches, hospitals, orphanages, monasteries, and graveyards became Turkish state property. In January 1916, the Ottoman Minister of Commerce and Agriculture issued a decree ordering all financial institutions operating within the empire's borders to turn over Armenian assets to the government. It is recorded that as much as six million Turkish gold pounds were seized along with real property, cash, bank deposits, and jewelry. The assets were then funneled to European banks, including Deutsche and Dresdner banks. After the end of World War I, Genocide survivors tried to return and reclaim their former homes and assets, but were driven out by the Ankara Government.
During the Paris Peace Conference, the Armenian delegation presented an assessment of $3.7 billion (about $55 billion today) worth of material losses owned solely by the Armenian church. The Armenian community then presented an additional demand for the restitution of property and assets seized by the Ottoman government. The joint declaration, which was submitted to the Supreme Council by the Armenian delegation and prepared by the religious leaders of the Armenian community, claimed that the Ottoman government had destroyed 2,000 churches and 200 monasteries and had provided the legal system for giving these properties to other parties. The declaration also provided a financial assessment of the total losses of personal property and assets of both Turkish and Russian Armenia with 14,598,510,000 and 4,532,472,000 francs respectively; totaling to an estimated $354 billion today. Furthermore, the Armenian community asked for the restitution of church owned property and reimbursement of its generated income. The Ottoman government never responded to this declaration and so restitution did not occur.
By the early 1930s, all properties belonging to Armenians who were subject to deportation had been confiscated. Since then, no restitution of property confiscated during the Armenian Genocide has taken place. Historians argue that the mass confiscation of Armenian properties was an important factor in forming the economic basis of the Turkish Republic while endowing Turkey's economy with capital. The mass confiscation of properties provided the opportunity for ordinary lower class Turks (i.e. peasantry, soldiers, and laborers) to rise to the ranks of the middle class. Contemporary Turkish historian Uğur Ümit Üngör asserts that "the elimination of the Armenian population left the state an infrastructure of Armenian property, which was used for the progress of Turkish (settler) communities. In other words: the construction of an étatist Turkish "national economy" was unthinkable without the destruction and expropriation of Armenians."
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 or changed into mosques, Armenian cemeteries flattened, and, in several cities (e.g., Van), Armenian quarters were demolished. 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).
On the night of 2–3 November 1918 and with the aid of Ahmed Izzet Pasha, the Three Pashas (which include Mehmed Talaat Pasha and Ismail Enver Pasha, the main perpetrators of the Genocide) fled the Ottoman Empire.
In 1919, after the Mudros Armistice, Sultan Mehmed VI was ordered to organise courts-martial by the Allied administration in charge of Constantinople to try members of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) (Turkish: "Ittihat ve Terakki") for taking the Ottoman Empire into World War I. By January 1919, a report to Sultan Mehmed VI accused over 130 suspects, most of whom were high officials.
Sultan Mehmet VI and Grand Vizier Damat Ferid Pasha, as representatives of government of the Ottoman Empire during the Second Constitutional Era, were summoned to the Paris Peace Conference by US Secretary of State Robert Lansing. On 11 July 1919, Damat Ferid Pasha officially confessed to massacres against the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and was a key figure and initiator of the war crime trials held directly after World War I to condemn to death the chief perpetrators of the Genocide. 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 Talaat 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 Talaat, Enver, Cemal, and Dr. Nazim.
After the pronouncement, the Three Pashas were sentenced to death in absentia at the trials in Constantinople. The courts-martial officially disbanded the CUP and confiscated its assets and the assets of those found guilty. The courts-martial were dismissed in August 1920 for their lack of transparency, according to then High Commissioner and Admiral Sir John de Robeck, and some of the accused were transported to Malta for further interrogation, only to be released afterwards in an exchange of POWs. Two of the three Pashas were later assassinated by Armenian vigilantes during Operation Nemesis.
Detainees in Malta
Ottoman military members and high-ranking politicians convicted by the Turkish courts-martial were transferred from Constantinople prisons to the Crown Colony of Malta on board the SS Princess Ena and HMS Benbow by the British forces, starting in 1919. Admiral Sir Somerset Gough-Calthorpe, British Commissioner in the Ottoman Empire, was in charge of the operation, together with Lord Curzon; they did so owing to the lack of transparency of the Turkish courts-martial. They were held there for three years, while searches were made of archives in Constantinople, London, Paris and Washington to find a way to put them in trial. However, the war criminals were eventually released without trial and returned to Constantinople in 1921, in exchange for twenty-two British prisoners of war held by the government in Ankara, including a relative of Lord Curzon. The government in Ankara was opposed to political power of the government in Constantinople. They are often mentioned as the Malta exiles in some sources.
Meanwhile, the Peace Conference in Paris established the "Commission on Responsibilities and Sanctions" in January 1919, which was commissioned by United States Secretary of State Robert Lansing. Based on the commission's work, several articles were added to the Treaty of Sèvres. The Treaty of Sèvres had planned a trial in August 1920 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". Article 230 of the Treaty of Sèvres required the Ottoman Empire to hand over to the Allied Powers the persons responsible for the massacres committed during the war on 1 August 1914.
According to European Court of Human Rights judge Giovanni Bonello, the suspension of prosecution attempts and the release and repatriation of the detainees was, among other things, a result of the lack of an appropriate legal framework with supranational jurisdiction. Following World War I no international norms for regulating war crimes existed, due to a legal vacuum in international law; therefore (contrary to Turkish sources) no trials were ever held in Malta.
Trial of Soghomon Tehlirian
On 15 March 1921, former Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha was assassinated in the Charlottenburg District of Berlin, Germany, in broad daylight and in the presence of many witnesses. Talaat'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 exact number of Armenians who were killed in the genocide is not known and impossible to determine. Historians estimate that 1.5 to 2 million Armenians lived in the Ottoman Empire in 1915, of which 800,000 to 1.2 million were deported during the genocide. Historian Taner Akçam estimated that by late 1916, only 200,000 deported Armenians were still alive.
During the 1920 Turkish–Armenian War :327 60,000 to 98,000 Armenian civilians were estimated to have been killed by the Turkish army. Some estimates put the total number of Armenians massacred in the hundreds of thousands.:327[page needed] Dadrian characterized the massacres in the Caucasus as a "miniature genocide".:360
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. On 24 May 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".
American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief
The American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief (ACASR, later called American Committee for Relief in the Near East (ACRNE) and also known as "Near East Relief"), established in September 1915, was a charitable organization established to relieve the suffering of the peoples of the Near East. The organization was championed by American ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr. Morgenthau's dispatches on the mass slaughter of Armenians galvanized much support for the organization.
In its first year, the ACRNE cared for 132,000 Armenian orphans from Tiflis, Yerevan, Constantinople, Sivas, Beirut, Damascus, and Jerusalem. 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.:336 Between 1915 and 1930, ACRNE distributed humanitarian relief to locations across a wide geographical range, eventually spending over ten times its original estimate and helping around 2,000,000 refugees.
Austrian and German joint mission
Imperial Germany was allied with the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Some German diplomats openly supported the Ottoman policy against the Armenians. As Hans Humann, the German naval attaché in Constantinople said to US 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.:257
In his reports to Berlin in 1917, General Hans von Seeckt supported the reforming efforts of the Young Turks, writing that "the inner weakness of Turkey in their entirety, call for the history and custom of the new Turkish empire to be written". Seeckt added that "Only a few moments of the destruction are still mentioned. The upper levels of society had become unwarlike, the main reason being the increasing mixing with foreign elements of a long standing unculture". Seeckt blamed all of the problems of the Ottoman Empire on the Jews and the Armenians, whom he portrayed as a fifth column working for the Allies. In July 1918, Seeckt sent a message to Berlin stating that "It is an impossible state of affairs to be allied with the Turks and to stand up for the Armenians. In my view any consideration, Christian, sentimental, and political should be eclipsed by a hard, but clear necessity for war".
German aspiring writer Armin T. Wegner enrolled as a medic during the winter of 1914–1915. He defied censorship by taking hundreds of photographs of Armenians being deported and subsequently starving in northern Syrian camps:326 and in the deserts of Deir-er-Zor. Wegner was part of a German detachment under field marshal von der Goltz stationed near the Baghdad Railway in Mesopotamia. He later stated: "I venture to claim the right of setting before you these pictures of misery and terror which passed before my eyes during nearly two years, and which will never be obliterated from my mind.". He was eventually arrested by the Germans and recalled to Germany.
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 of 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. In March 1916, the scenes they saw in the city of Erzurum led the Russians to retaliate against the Ottoman III Army whom they held responsible for the massacres, destroying it in its entirety.
Danish missionary Maria Jacobsen wrote her experiences in a diary entitled Diaries of a Danish Missionary: Harpoot, 1907–1919, which according to genocide scholar Ara Sarafian, is a "documentation of the utmost significance" for research of the Armenian Genocide. Jacobsen would later be known for having saved thousands of Armenians through various relief efforts in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide . She wrote: "It is quite obvious that the purpose of their departure is the extermination of the Armenian people." Another missionary who helped save orphans was Anna Hedvig Büll. Another Danish missionary, Aage Meyer Benedictsen, wrote in regards to the massacres that it was a "shattering crime, probably the largest in the history of the world: The attempt, planned and executed in cold blood, to murder a whole people, the Armenian, during the World War."
Turks and Kurds invaded the town of Salmas in northwestern Persia and massacred the Armenian inhabitants after the withdrawal of Russian troops from the region. Prior to the Russian withdrawal, a larger number of Christians fled across the Arax river into Russia, while a small number remained hidden in the homes of local Muslims.[better source needed]
Studies on the genocide
Polish jurist Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term genocide in 1943, cited the Turkish extermination of the Armenians and the Nazi extermination of the Jews as defining examples of what he meant by genocide. Outraged that there was no legal framework under which to try the perpetrators of such crimes, Lemkin spearheaded the adoption of the 1948 Genocide Convention. The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) unanimously passed a formal resolution affirming the factuality of the Armenian Genocide and condemning denial of it. Leading texts in the international law of genocide such as William Schabas's Genocide in International Law cite the Armenian Genocide as precursor to the Holocaust and as a precedent for the law on crimes against humanity. The Armenian Genocide is the second-most studied genocide in history, after the Holocaust.
Commemoration and denial
A 1919 publication by the Turkish national movement admitted that a systematic policy of "extermination" had taken place and that CUP leaders were "among the greatest criminals of humanity". According to historian Vahagn Avedian, the 1920s featured Turkish erasure of the genocide, which was an important aspect of the state-building project of the Turkish Republic.
The official Turkish view of the genocide coalesced between 1974 and 1990. 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 systematically orchestrated; that the deportation was justified because Armenians posed a Russian-sympathizing threat as a cultural group; that the Armenians merely starved to death, or any of various characterizations referring to marauding "Armenian gangs". 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.[original research?]
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.
Censorship in Turkey
In 1993, Ragıp Zarakolu, a Turkish human rights activist, published the Turkish translation of Yves Ternon's Armenians, History of a Genocide. The book was the first to be published in Turkey that openly acknowledged the events of 1915 as genocide. Soon after its publication, Zarakolu received threats and in 1994 his publishing house was the target of a bomb attack.
Prosecutors acting on their own initiative have used 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 (most of these cases have been dismissed). During a February 2005 interview with Das Magazin, novelist Orhan Pamuk made statements implicating Turkey in massacres against Armenians and persecution of the Kurds, declaring: "Thirty thousand Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it". Lawyers of two Turkish ultranationalist professional associations led by Kemal Kerinçsiz then brought criminal charges against Pamuk. However, on 23 January 2006 the charges of "insulting Turkishness" were dropped (for reasons not necessarily tied to the case), a move welcomed by the EU. These prosecutions have often been accompanied by hate campaigns and threats, as was the case for Hrant Dink, who was prosecuted three times for "insulting Turkishness", and murdered in 2007.
In the aftermath of Hrant Dink's assassination, several changes made in Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code on 30 April 2008, along with the Turkish-Armenian thaw the same year, resulted in ending the century-long censorship on Armenian genocide in Turkey. Markar Esayan, a former columnist of the Armenian weekly Agos, who was later elected to parliament in 2015 from the ruling Justice and Development Party led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, subsequently becoming a member of the executive board and vice-chairperson of the party, described the 1915 events as genocide in various articles he wrote for different daily newspapers in Turkey.
In its foreign policy, Turkey has actively opposed recognition of the Armenian genocide by third parties.
In 1982, the Institute of Turkish Studies in Washington, D.C. (ITS) was established by a $3 million grant from the Turkish government. Israel Charny identifies the ITS and some of its foremost deniers of the Armenian Genocide, such as Stanford Shaw, Heath W. Lowry, and Justin McCarthy, as the Turkish government's principal agency in the United States for promoting research on Turkey and the Ottoman Empire, but also denial of the Armenian Genocide. The Turkish government also hired public relations firms to promote its version of history in the United States, at the cost of $1 million a year.
A 1989 United States Senate proposal to recognize the Armenian Genocide stoked the ire of Turkey. The proposal occurred in the context of the publication of "The Slaughterhouse Province", the eyewitness report by Leslie Davis, American diplomat and consul in Kharpert from 1914 to 1917, who reported that "thousands and thousands of Armenians, mostly innocent and helpless women and children, were butchered" in the last days of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey responded by blocking United States Navy visits to Turkey and suspending some United States military training facilities on Turkish territory. The American scholar who assembled the United States archive documents for publication, Susan K. Blair, went into hiding after a series of anonymous threats. In 2007, a similar resolution passed the House Foreign Affairs committee by a 27–21 vote, but Turkish lobbying prevented it from reaching the House floor.
At a symposium held on 24 April 2019, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned France for its official commemoration of the Armenian Genocide and termed the deportations of Armenians by the Ottoman government in the early 20th century "appropriate at the time".
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.:88–108 A memorial was completed two years later, at Tsitsernakaberd above the Hrazdan gorge in Yerevan. The memorial contains a 44 metres (144 ft) stele which 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 24 April, hundreds of thousands of people walk to the monument, which is the official memorial of the genocide, and lay flowers around the eternal flame.
Visits to the museum are a part of the protocol of the Republic of Armenia. Many foreign dignitaries have already visited the Museum, including Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, Presidents of France Jacques Chirac, François Hollande and other well-known public and political figures. The museum is open to the public for guided tours in Armenian, Russian, English, French, and German. The worldwide recognition of the Genocide is a core aspect of Armenia's foreign policy.
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 massacres and 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.[page needed]:232–3 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". The rhetoric leading up to the onset of the conflict, which unfolded in the context of several pogroms against Armenians, was dominated by references to the Armenian Genocide, including fears that it would be, or was in the course of being, repeated. 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.:232–33
As a response to continuing denial by the Turkish state, many activists from Armenian Diaspora communities have pushed for formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide from various governments around the world. On 4 March 2010, a U.S. 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". The Armenian Assembly of America (AAA) and the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) have as their main lobbying agenda to press Congress and the President for an increase of economic aid for Armenia and the reduction of economic and military assistance for Turkey. The efforts also include reaffirmation of a genocide by Ottoman Turkey in 1915. Over 135 memorials, spread across 25 countries, commemorate the Armenian Genocide.
Twenty-nine countries and forty-nine U.S. states have adopted resolutions acknowledging the Armenian Genocide as a bona fide historical event. In October 2019, the United States House of Representatives voted 405–11 to officially recognize the mass killing of Armenians by Turkish nationalists during World War I as "genocide" (H.Res. 296). The United States Senate also passed a unanimous resolution in recognition of the Armenian Genocide despite President Donald Trump's objections.
Pope Francis described the Armenian Genocide as the "first genocide of the 20th century", causing a diplomatic row with Turkey. He also called on all heads of state and international organizations to recognize "the truth of what transpired and oppose such crimes without ceding to ambiguity or compromise." In a resolution, the European Parliament commended the statement pronounced by the Pope and encouraged Turkey to recognise the genocide and so pave the way for a "genuine reconciliation between the Turkish and Armenian peoples".
Reparations to the victims
According to the President of IAGS, Henry Theriault, while current members of Turkish society cannot be blamed morally for the destruction of Armenians, present-day Republic of Turkey, as successor state to the Ottoman Empire and as beneficiary of the wealth and land expropriations brought forth through the genocide, is responsible for reparations. In 2007, The Armenian Genocide Reparations Study Group (AGRSG) was formed with Theriault as chair, along with several other genocide scholars. In March 2015, the group released a final report entitled Resolution with Justice – Reparations for the Armenian Genocide. The report described the legal, historical, political, and ethical aspects of Armenian Genocide reparations and proposed a comprehensive reparations package for the victims.
Another historian, Vahagn Avedian, has argued that, although the UN Genocide Convention was not in force until 1951, the treaties in force at the time of the genocide pertaining to the protection of civilian population, such as the Martens Clause of Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, mean that the actions of the Turkish governments (the Ottoman, the insurgent nationalist movement as well as the succeeding republic), should be viewed from the perspective of Internationally Wrongful Acts. Avedian wrote that:
[T]he Republic not only failed to stop doing the wrongful acts of its predecessor, but it also continued the very internationally wrongful acts committed by the Young Turk government. Thus, the insurgent National Movement, which later became the Republic, made itself responsible for not only its own wrongful acts, but also those of its predecessor, including the act of genocide committed in 1915–1916.
Although there are different opinions on the legitimacy of the Treaty of Sèvres and its relativity to reparation claims, there are specialists who argue that some of its elements retain the force of law.[need quotation to verify] In particular, the fixing of the proper borders of an Armenian state was undertaken pursuant to the treaty and determined by a binding arbitral award, regardless of whether the treaty was ultimately ratified. The committee process determining the arbitral award was agreed to by the parties and, according to international law, the resulting determination has legal force regardless of the ultimate fate of the treaty.
In July 2004, after the California State Legislature passed the Armenian Genocide Insurance Act, descendants of Armenian Genocide victims settled a case for about 2,400 life insurance policies from New York Life written on Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. Around 1918, the Ottoman government attempted to recover payments for the people it had killed, with the argument that there were no identifiable heirs to the policy holders. The settlement provided $20 million, of which $11 million was for heirs of the Genocide victims.
The first artwork known to have been influenced by the Armenian Genocide was a medal struck in St. Petersburg while the massacres and deportations of 1915 were at their height. It was issued as a token of Russian sympathy for Armenian suffering. Since then, dozens of similar medals have been commissioned in various countries.
Numerous eyewitness accounts of the atrocities 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 atrocities he witnessed while stationed in the Ottoman Empire. Years later, having returned to Germany, Wegner was imprisoned for opposing Nazism, and his books were burnt by the Nazis. Probably the best known literary work on the Armenian Genocide is Franz Werfel's 1933 The Forty Days of Musa Dagh. This book was a bestseller that became particularly popular among the youth in the Jewish ghettos during the Nazi era.:302–04
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 feature film about the Armenian Genocide, a Hollywood production titled Ravished Armenia, was released in 1919. It was produced by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief and based on the account of survivor Aurora Mardiganian, who played herself. It resonated with acclaimed director Atom Egoyan, influencing his 2002 Ararat. Several movies are based on the Armenian Genocide including the 2014 drama film The Cut, 1915 The Movie, and The Promise. There are also references to the Genocide in Elia Kazan's America, America and Henri Verneuil's Mayrig. At the Berlin International Film Festival of 2007 Italian directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani presented another film about the atrocities, based on Antonia Arslan's book, La Masseria Delle Allodole (The Farm of the Larks).
The paintings of Armenian-American Arshile Gorky, a seminal figure of Abstract Expressionism, are considered to have been influenced by the suffering and loss of the period. 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 two The Artist and His Mother paintings are based on a photograph with his mother taken in Van.
- "Ottoman military forces march Armenian men from Kharput to an execution site outside outside the city. Kharput, Ottoman Empire, March 1915-June 1915". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 22 November 2020.
- Bijak, Jakub; Lubman, Sarah (2016). "The Disputed Numbers: In Search of the Demographic Basis for Studies of Armenian Population Losses, 1915–1923". The Armenian Genocide Legacy. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 26–43. ISBN 978-1-137-56163-3.
- "The Many Armenian Diasporas, Then and Now". GeoCurrents. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- Schaller, Dominik J; 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. doi:10.1080/14623520801950820. S2CID 71515470.
- Jones, Adam (2010). Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction. Taylor & Francis. pp. 171–72. ISBN 978-0-203-84696-4.
A resolution was placed before the IAGS membership to recognize the Greek and Assyrian/Chaldean components of the Ottoman genocide against Christians, alongside the Armenian strand of the genocide (which the IAGS has already formally acknowledged). The result, passed emphatically in December 2007 despite not inconsiderable opposition, was a resolution which I co-drafted, reading as follows: ...
- The Armenian genocide : history, politics, ethics. Hovannisian, Richard G. New York: St. Martin's Press. 1992. p. xvi. ISBN 0312048475. OCLC 23768090.CS1 maint: others (link)
- Ihrig, Stefan (2016). Justifying Genocide: Germany and the Armenians from Bismarck to Hitler. Harvard University Press. pp. 9, 55. ISBN 978-0-674-50479-0.
- Stanley, Alessandra (17 April 2006). "A PBS Documentary Makes Its Case for the Armenian Genocide, With or Without a Debate". The New York Times.
- Robertson, Geoffrey (2016). "Armenia and the G-word: The Law and the Politics". The Armenian Genocide Legacy. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 69–83. ISBN 978-1-137-56163-3.
Put another way – if these same events occurred today, there can be no doubt that prosecutions before the ICC of Talaat and other CUP officials for genocide, for persecution and for other crimes against humanity would succeed. Turkey would be held responsible for genocide and for persecution by the ICJ and would be required to make reparation.14 That Court would also hold Germany responsible for complicity with the genocide and persecution, since it had full knowledge of the massacres and deportations and decided not to use its power and influence over the Ottomans to stop them. But to the overarching legal question that troubles the international community today, namely whether the killings of Armenians in 1915 can properly be described as a genocide, the analysis in this chapter returns are sounding affirmative answer.
- Lattanzi, Flavia (2018). "The Armenian Massacres as the Murder of a Nation?". The Armenian Massacres of 1915–1916 a Hundred Years Later: Open Questions and Tentative Answers in International Law. Springer International Publishing. pp. 27–104. ISBN 978-3-319-78169-3.
- Laycock, Jo (2016). "The great catastrophe". Patterns of Prejudice. 50 (3): 311–313. doi:10.1080/0031322X.2016.1195548. S2CID 147933878.
important developments in the historical research on the genocide over the last fifteen years... have left no room for doubt that the treatment of the Ottoman Armenians constituted genocide according to the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide
- Beledian, Krikor (1995). "L'expérience de la catastrophe dans la littérature arménienne". Revue d'histoire arménienne contemporaine (1): 131.
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The Turkish government persists in its long-standing refusal to call the killings genocide, denying the claims as “Armenian lies.”
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“Right to intervene”.
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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.
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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 at 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.
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Cited in Shirinian, George N. (13 February 2017). Genocide in the Ottoman Empire: Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks, 1913–1923. Berghahn Books. p. 121. ISBN 9781785334337.
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...were rounded up and deported to the interior where most were murdered.
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on the night of 23–24 April 1915 with the arrest of hundreds of intellectuals and leaders of the Armenian community in [...] They were deported to Anatolia where they were put to death.
- Steven L. Jacobs (2009). Confronting Genocide: Judaism, Christianity, Islam. Lexington Books. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-7391-3589-1.
On 24 April 1915 the Ministry of the Interior ordered the arrest of Armenian parliamentary deputies, former ministers, and some intellectuals. Thousands were arrested, including 2,345 in the capital, most of whom were subsequently executed ...
- Alan Whitehorn (2015). The Armenian Genocide: The Essential Reference Guide. ABC-CLIO. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-61069-688-3.
That particular date was chosen because on April 24, 1915, the Ottoman Young Turk government began deporting hundreds of Armenian leaders and intellectuals from Constantinople (Istanbul); most were later murdered en masse.
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On the night of April 24, 1915, the brightest representatives of the Armenian intellectual elite of Constantinople, including writers, musicians, politicians, and scientists were arrested and brutally massacred.
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"Recently Discovered Telegram Reveals Evidence For Armenian Genocide". All things Considered. United States: National Public Radio. 24 April 2017. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
Mandell, Ariane (23 April 2017). "Lost Evidence of Armenian Genocide Discovered in Jerusalem Archive". The Jerusalem Post. Israel. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
- Derived from map 224 in Hewsen, Robert H.; Salvatico, Christopher C. (2001). Armenia : a historical atlas. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 224. ISBN 0-226-33228-4. OCLC 995496723.
- "Türk Schindler'i: Vali Celal Bey". NTVMSNBC (in Turkish). 4 August 2010.
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- US Library of Congress, George Grantham Bain Collection Photo ID LC-USZ62-48100 "Syria – Aleppo – Armenian woman kneeling beside dead child in field "within sight of help and safety at Aleppo"
- "Exiled Armenians starve in the desert; Turks drive them like slaves, American committee hears ;- Treatment raises death rate". The New York Times. 8 August 1916. Archived from the original on 2 February 2012. (cited by McCarthy, Justin (2010). The Turk in America: The Creation of an Enduring Prejudice. University of Utah Press. p. 177. ISBN 978-1607810131.)
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[Victims] were often held without food for days so they would be too weak to escape
- Bartrop, Paul R.; Jacobs, Steven Leonard (17 December 2014). Modern Genocide: The Definitive Resource and Document Collection. ABC-CLIO. p. 64. ISBN 978-1-61069-364-6.
- Horvitz, Leslie Alan; Catherwood, Christopher (2014). Encyclopedia of War Crimes and Genocide. Infobase Publishing. p. 26. ISBN 978-1438110295.
Primary source: "Armenians are sent to perish in desert; Turks accused of plan to exterminate whole population; people of Karahissar massacred". The New York Times. 18 August 1915.
- "Génocide arménien: le scénario". L'Histoire (in French). 1 April 2009. p. 16.
Djemal Pacha avait parfaitement conscience qu’abandonner les Arméniens dans le désert signiﬁait les condamner à une mort assurée.
- Akçam, Taner (2018). Killing Orders: Talat Pasha’s Telegrams and the Armenian Genocide. Springer. p. 158. ISBN 978-3-319-69787-1.
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- Gust, Wolfgang (2013). The Armenian Genocide: Evidence from the German Foreign Office Archives, 1915–191. Berghahn Books. pp. 653–54. ISBN 978-1-78238-143-3.
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By Turkish admissions, large segments of the provincial population in particular willingly participated in regional and local massacres.
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- British Foreign Office 371/2781/264888, Appendices B., p. 6.
- Takvimi Vekayi, No. 3540, 5 May 1919.
- McClure, Samuel S. Obstacles to Peace. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1917, pp. 400–01.
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"Death toll of the Armenian Massacres". Encyclopædia Britannica.
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- "Turks Slay 14,000 In One Massacre". Toronto Globe. 26 August 1915. p. 1.
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- Takvimi Vekdyi, No. 3616, 6 August 1919, p. 2.
- Akçam 2012, p. 312.
- 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), p. 177. (via HeinOnline) At the fourteenth session of the trial (Saturday, 26 April 1919), a young woman, Manning Yerazian, gave a baffling and portentous testimony. She was left with her sisters in Trebizond and witnessed the poisoning and liquidation through 'disinfection' of the infants. The site of the killings by poison was not the standard location, the Red Crescent Hospital, but two school buildings serving as collection points for children slated for distribution (of some) and destruction (of the rest). CUP Representative Nail and Health Inspector Dr. Saib would supply the lists of the victims who were then picked up by the Turkish women employed in the schools. In the mezzanine of one of the schools, there was a tiled room purporting to be a steam chamber (islim). The Turkish women would escort groups of infants to that room for a steam bath. 'First we didn't realize what was happening. But one day we heard cries that abruptly ceased and were followed by a deathly silence. We then paid closer attention to what was happening. The baskets at the door of the "disinfection" hall told everything.' It appears that Dr. Saib used the term 'islim' to lure and trap the victims in a chamber equipped with some kind of toxic gas with fatal effects
- 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.
Genocide Study Project, HF Guggenheim Foundation, in The Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Volume 11, Number 1, Spring 1997.
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Recognizing the 81st Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. United States Government Printing Office. Retrieved 21 January 2013
Armenian Genocide Survivors Remember Archived 26 July 2017 at the Wayback Machine. Queens Gazette. Retrieved 21 January 2013
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- These are according to the figures provided by Alexander Miasnikian, the President of the Council of People's Commissars of Soviet Armenia, in a telegram he sent to the Soviet Foreign Minister Georgy Chicherin in 1921. Miasnikyan's figures were broken down as follows: of the approximately 60,000 Armenians who were killed by the Turkish armies, 30,000 were men, 15,000 women, 5,000 children, and 10,000 young girls. Of the 38,000 who were wounded, 20,000 were men, 10,000 women, 5,000 young girls, and 3,000 children. Instances of mass rape, murder and violence were also reported against the Armenian populace of Kars and Alexandropol: See Vahakn Dadrian. (2003). The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus. New York: Berghahn Books, pp. 360–61. ISBN 1-57181-666-6.
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- Original memo: "The Ambassador in France (Sharp) to the Secretary of State". history.state.gov.
Cited by: * Schabas, William A. (2000). Genocide in international law : the crimes of crimes (1 ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. pp. 15–16. ISBN 0521787904. * Crimes Against Humanity, 23 British Yearbook of International Law (1946) p. 181
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