Documentary on the Armenian genocide
The Turkish government still denies that there was an Armenian genocide but I think this documentary proves otherwise. Where is the uproar regarding this issue?

This is to be read at a later time by those who are interested. It is a long read - from the lecture notes of a class I took on Armenian history provided by the professor.

The Armenian Genocide

(lecture summary)

The Definition of ‘Genocide’
The term ‘genocide’ was coined during the Second World War by the Polish-American lawyer, Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959). He constructed the word ‘genocide’ from the Greek derivative genos (‘race’ or ‘tribe’) and the Latin derivative cide, from caedere (‘to kill’). Lemkin wrote that ‘genocide’ meant a ‘coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves.’ To Lemkin, killing was not the only form of genocide; dismantling religious or political institutions, destroying a language, eliminating economic infrastructure, all could be considered genocide, as long as the aim was to wipe out a separate people.

According to Lemkin, ‘Genocide has two phases: one, destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor. This imposition, in turn, may be made upon the oppressed population, which is allowed to remain, or upon the territory alone, after removal of the population and colonization of the area by the oppressor’s own nationals. It takes centuries and sometimes thousands of years to create a natural culture, but Genocide can destroy a culture instantly, like fire can destroy a building in an hour.’ 

Accordingly, the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted on 9 December 1948, defined genocide as

any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group’:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
© Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The UN Convention considers ‘that genocide is a crime under international law, contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and condemned by the civilized world.’ It states that international cooperation is required ‘in order to liberate mankind from such an odious scourge.’

All member-states of the UN that have ratified this convention are obliged to prevent future genocides and punish the following acts: (a) genocide; (b) conspiracy to commit genocide; © direct and public incitement to commit genocide; (d) attempt to commit genocide; and (e) complicity in genocide.

(The USA ratified the genocide convention only in 1988, 37 years after the convention came into force, becoming the 98th member of the UN to do so.)

Although wholesale slaughter of fellow human beings is not a purely modern phenomenon, genocide has been described ‘a paradigmatic crime of the 20th century’ because the latter seemed to mark a turning point in both the scale and the frequency of mass killing and atrocities.

A permanent International Criminal Court was established through the Treaty of Rome in 1998 to prosecute future perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

The horrors of the Armenian genocide were a decisive factor in Lemkin’s interest in the codification of the crime of genocide as a crime under international law. In 1921, Lemkin, as a student, had an argument with a professor at Lvov University as the direct result of the emotions he experienced in the course of the proceedings of the murder trial of Soghomon Tehlirian, an Armenian student in Berlin, who had assassinated Talaat Pasha, the wartime Interior Minister and subsequently Grand Vizier (i.e. Prime Minister) of Ottoman Turkey, to avenge the killing of his mother, a victim of the Armenian genocide. The professor was maintaining that the Armenians were Ottoman subjects and that the state could do with them as it pleased, including killing them. He went on to say that there was no international law to protect them and that ‘when you interfere with the internal affairs of a country, you infringe on that country’s sovereignty.’ Lemkin later lost 72 members of his family in the Holocaust. He frequently referred to the Armenian genocide in writings and TV interviews late in his life.

Political Developments Leading to the Deportations of the Armenians
The Armenian genocide was one of the darkest episodes of the First World War.

The two antagonistic alliances, which fought the First World War, emerged gradually at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.

The Triple Entente or the Allies consisted of Russia, France and Britain. They were all worried with the growth of German power in Central Europe. Russia made an alliance with France in 1894. Britain and France concluded the Entente Cordiale in 1904. Finally, Russia concluded an agreement with Britain in 1907. (Britain and Russia also delineated zones of influence in Asia, whereby most northern districts of Persia – close to the Ottoman border – were included in the Russian sphere.) Through its agreement with Russia, Britain stopped being the traditional backer of the Ottoman state against the Russians.

The Central Powers initially consisted of Germany and Austria-Hungary. (Italy, which was their ally before the outbreak of the war, did not join them at the beginning of the hostilities and actually joined the opposing camp during the later stages of the war.) The Ottoman Empire formally joined Germany and Austria-Hungary a few weeks after the outbreak of the war. Bulgaria joined this grouping a little later.

The failure to resolve the Eastern Question in the Balkans resulted in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. This act ushered in the First World War beginning 1 August 1914.

A secret Ottoman-German alliance was negotiated on 2 August 1914, the day after the formal outbreak of the war. The Ottomans undertook to go to war if Russia attacked Austria and Germany. The next day, 3 August, invoking the principle of ‘armed neutrality’, the Ottoman government launched a general mobilization; ottoman males (including Armenians) between the ages of 20 to 45 were first conscripted. This secret treaty of alliance and the Ottoman Empire’s subsequent entry into the war on the side of the Central Powers were motivated by Enver Pasha’s Pan-Turkist (or Pan-Turanian) and anti-Russian designs.  Enver was one of the prominent members of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP, also known as the Young Turks). At the time of the actual outbreak of the war, he held the position of Minister of War in the Ottoman government.

Pan-Turkism is a political ideology that emerged among Turkic-speaking intellectuals at the end of the 19th century. It aimed to unite the Turkic people of Anatolia, Iran, Transcaucasia, Russia and Central Asia into a single empire, usually called Turan (hence the appellation of pan-Turanism, sometimes used instead of pan-Turkism). The Pan-Turkist idea gained adherents in the Ottoman Empire during the Young Turk period. Ottoman leaders imbuing the Pan-Turkist ideology often saw the non-Turkic minorities living in the Ottoman Empire (including Armenians, Greeks, Arabs and Kurds) as a threat to its survival. They advocated racial homogeneity within the empire and wanted to expel or convert these minorities.

A number of Armenian scholars consider that the ideology of Pan-Turkism was the main cause behind the Armenian genocide. This thesis is forcefully argued in Zarevand’s  United and Independent Turania, which is also available in English translation. (The name Zarevand is a pseudonym for Zaven Nalbandian and his wife, Vartouhie Calantar Nalbandian.)

The Germans agreed in their secret treaty with Ottoman Turkey to aid in the realization of the Pan-Turkist dream. This meant that the Georgians, Russians, and especially the Armenians, the primary obstacle in uniting the Turkic peoples of Anatolia and the Russian Empire, had to be eliminated. Their elimination would also enable the Muslim emigrants from the Balkans to settle in Armenian villages and to recoup whatever wealth they had abandoned in Eastern Europe. (Some analysts claim that around 850,000 Muslim immigrants had arrived in Anatolia from the Balkans in 1878-1904.)

Moreover, the Young Turks felt that in order to create a dominant Turkish bourgeoisie within the Ottoman Empire, the Armenian middle class that had emerged during the 19th century had to be wiped out.

Immediately after the signing of this secret treaty of alliance, a high-level Young Turk delegation arrived in the city of Erzerum (in the Armenian-inhabited eastern part of the Ottoman Empire), where the 8th General Meeting of the Dashnak party was reaching its end (August 2-14, 1914). They tried to convince the party to organize an anti-Russian insurrection among the Armenians in Russian Transcaucasia. In exchange for that, and in case of a victory over the Russians, the Young Turks promised to create an autonomous Armenian district under Turkish rule. In view of the fact that Armenians lived on both sides of the Russo-Turkish border and that such adventurous policies might lead the Russian Armenians to a catastrophe, the Dashnaks declined this offer. They told the Young Turk delegates that Armenians on both sides of the frontier should remain loyal to their respective countries.

Ignoring a stern British warning, Turkey eventually entered the war on the German side in late October 1914. The Ottomans proclaimed that they were waging a Holy War (jihad) against the Allies – France, Britain and Russia. Mobilization was gradually extended in various areas of the empire to those between 16 and 70.

Soon after entering the war, the Ottoman government also abrogated all agreements imposed by European governments, including, on 6 December 1914, the Armenian Reforms Agreement, which it had signed with Russia only a few months earlier – on 8 February.

On the other hand, the outbreak of the war created great hopes for Armenians in the Russian Empire. Assured by the Russian tsar, Nicholas II, his viceroy in the Caucasus and the Armenian Catholicos, Gevorg V, the Armenians in Russia looked forward to the liberation of Western Armenia from Ottoman control. Some 150,000 Armenians, or approximately 10 percent of the Armenians of Transcaucasia, served as conscripts in the Russian army. Their majority was dispatched to the European front to fight the Germans and Austrians, away from the territory of Western Armenia.

Moreover, the Russian viceroy in the Caucasus met with leading Armenians in Transcaucasia and urged the creation of additional Armenian volunteer units to fight with the Russian army. Catholicos Gevorg V, the Armenian mayor of Tbilisi and many other Russian Armenian leaders enthusiastically embraced this offer. Gevorg V met with Nicholas II and later declared that the salvation of Armenia was dependent on Russia. The tsar, in turn, assured the Catholicos that ‘a most brilliant future awaits the Armenians.’

The Russians initially recruited four volunteer units from among Western Armenian emigrants, who had left the territory of Ottoman Turkey for various reasons prior to the war, and a small group of Transcaucasian Armenians, who were not drafted into the regular Russian army. Some weeks later, Armenian volunteers from Europe, parts of mainland Russia and the USA also created three more units fighting under the overall Russian command.

Since Armenians were also conscripted to the Ottoman army, this was the first war in modern times, when Armenian soldiers in the Ottoman and Russian armies respectively would fight against one another as soldiers in the two opposing camps in this war. (This scenario occurred very seldom, however, as Armenian soldiers in the Ottoman army were eventually disarmed, while their kin in the Russian army were mostly sent to fight in Europe.)

In a curious development, Armen Garo, a former Dashnak deputy in the Ottoman parliament, crossed the border and joined the Armenian volunteer units fighting alongside the Russian army. (Armen Garo would become – after the end of the First World War – the first-ever diplomatic representative of the Republic of Armenia in Washington, DC).

On 18 December 1914, in the middle of the rigorous Caucasian winter, Enver moved with a large army towards the Russian controlled territories in Transcaucasia and Northern Iran with a view to conquering the towns of Kars, Ardahan and Batum and to organizing anti-Russian insurrections among the Muslims in the rest of the Caucasus. However, this winter campaign of 1914-1915 was a disaster for Enver. His army suffered terrible losses. The harsh winter, logistical mistakes and a Russian counter-offensive wiped out the Ottoman army near the town of Sarikamish in January 1915. Enver left the front and returned to Constantinople. On his way back, he publicly expressed his satisfaction and gratitude for the Armenians’ ‘complete devotion to the imperial government.’

The CUP leadership was now very apprehensive about a most probable Russian counteroffensive after the winter thaw in early 1915. Moreover, Enver changed his views upon reaching Constantinople. There, he confided that his defeat resulted from Armenian treason. To prevent these internal enemies from stabbing the Ottoman army in the back, he suggested that time had come to remove all the Armenians of the eastern regions of the empire from their places and to ensure their settling in locations where they would do no harm.

Indeed, from February 1915, Armenian soldiers in the Ottoman army were disarmed and brutally compelled to perform manual labor in work battalions. They were later murdered in batches. This act is seen as an important step in the genocidal process that followed.

Because many archival documents from the Ottoman government are still inaccessible to historians, there is an ongoing debate about the exact date when the Young Turk leaders decided to deport the Armenians from their historic homeland.
• Historian Stepan Astourian, for example, argues that the CUP Central Committee secretly decided the genocide about the middle of February 1915. He argues further that during the decisive meeting, three of the ten Central Committee members opposed the extermination of the Armenians. The decision carried the day, however, because the military and paramilitary wings of the CUP and the civilian faction controlling the party apparatus agreed upon it. Once the decision was taken, even those, who had opposed it during the meeting, now followed the policies of their party in a most disciplined way.
• Other historians have proposed slightly different dates for the decision to embark on deportations and genocide, ranging from the middle of March to mid-April 1915.
• One political scientist has even suggested that the Young Turks were intent on expelling and exterminating the Armenians even before the outbreak of the war in August 1914; they actually entered the war, disregarding warnings by the Allies, in order to create conditions to implement their genocidal plan.

However, these historians, despite proposing different dates for the day the decision was made, are nevertheless in agreement on a number of issues that led to the genocide. They believe that:
• Religious discrimination prior to the Ottoman reforms of the 19th century set the background to genocide by shaping the interaction between the dominant Turks and the dominated Armenians in such a way that the latter were perceived as inferior. Until the late 18th and early 19th century, the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire were an ethno-religious community occupying a low status in a traditional society. They were treated as a distinct, inferior, corporate group that was tolerated only as long as it made no claims to equality.
• Beginning in early 19th century, the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire experienced rapid economic progress and social mobilization. The theoretical emancipation of the Armenians, especially the city-dwellers, during the Ottoman reforms period in the 19th century, accompanied by a cultural awakening and social progress in the cities were not welcomed by the dominant Muslim (especially Turkish) sections of the larger society, which viewed this progress as a challenge to their socio-economic conditions and their world-view. They even brought about a backlash, marked by occasional massacres of the Armenians in the Empire from the 1860s on.
• The failure of liberalism among the Ottoman Turkish reformers and the continuing dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire during and after the reforms of the 19th century bred a widespread feeling of decline and injustice among the dominant group. These feelings also made the financial, economic and cultural achievements of the dominated Armenians during the same period all the more intolerable. Anti-Armenianism became a formula for those who rejected the liberalism, egalitarianism and the Western cultural and economic influences of the 19th century, all of which the Armenians stood for.
• The rise of the racist ideology of pan-Turkism early in the 20th century and the revolutionary nature of the CUP were essential components of the extermination. (Some historians argue, for example, that the massacres instigated and tolerated by Sultan Abdul Hamid II did not attempt to totally wipe out the Armenian people.) The outlook of the Young Turk leadership was influenced by the European ideology of positivism, racism, and a longing for Turan, the mythical land of the Turks.
• The genocide was preceded by calls for an economic boycott of Christian (Armenian and Greek) businesses and some destruction of property.

In a political system, where a dictatorial party was in control of the state and obedience to the state was an essential part of the national culture, using the levers of the government to implement this plan was not difficult. The Ottoman parliament had been suspended in wartime. Constitutional law had become mute and inoperative. The executive ruled by whimsical decrees. The Young Turk authorities could not be challenged because they would always claim that it was a national emergency. The deportation of the Armenians was actually carried out under an emergency law. From 19 February 1915 on, common law criminals were released from prisons by government order and enrolled in the irregular troops. These irregulars would exterminate the Armenians and divide their booty equally with the CUP. Special organizations and brigades, the ideological reliability and political commitment of which were above doubt, were formed to supervise the plan and carry out the decisions in secret. The military was also used to carry out political decisions. Government officials who disagreed or hesitated to enforce the directives received were removed.

The Deportations and Massacres 1915-1916
The Russians did indeed advance into Ottoman territory in the spring of 1915, as the Young Turk leaders had feared. The Russians quickly occupied most of Western Armenia. In the meantime, the other Allies set about forcing the Straits of the Dardanelles and Bosphorus from February 19 on.

The Russian advances, the evident Armenian enthusiasm for the tsar’s armies and probably the Allied landings in Gallipoli near Constantinople were probably the final incentives for the Young Turks to begin massive deportations and massacres of the Armenians.

The Armenians of the town of Zeitun and a number of other towns in Cilicia were the first to be killed and deported. On April 8 and 10, under the pretext that about thirty Armenian youth from Zeitun had resisted conscription and that the town was preparing for a revolt, the Ottoman government started deporting the notables and then the whole population of the town.

Soon afterwards, a few Armenians of the town of Dörtyol (also in Cilicia) were accused of collusion with a Franco-British cruiser squadron patrolling off the Mediterranean coast. The whole population of Dörtyol was also deported. The property of the Armenian deportees from Zeitun and Dörtyol was immediately taken over by Muslim emigrants from the Balkans, especially those from Thrace and Bulgaria.

The Armenians of the Van province were next. By mid-April, the Ottoman Turks succeeded in killing or deporting most of the population of that province. The city of Van, with its 30,000 Armenian majority, was an exception. The Armenian quarter barricaded itself and, armed with a few weapons, managed to hold out until the arrival of Russian troops in early May 1915.

In the meantime, on the night of 24 April 1915, over two hundred Armenian writers, poets, newspaper editors, teachers, lawyers, members of the Ottoman parliament and other community leaders in Constantinople were taken out from their homes at night and later killed. (From the year 1919, Armenians annually remember the victims of the genocide on 24 April.) The first of the Allied landings in Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 coincided with the arrest of these Armenian intellectuals and political leaders. By the end of the year, some 600 Armenian intellectuals and a few thousand workers had also been arrested in Constantinople and deported into the interior.

On 23 May 1915, the Allied governments issued a declaration on the Armenian massacres. They publicly announced that they would ‘hold all members of the Ottoman government as well as such of their agents as are implicated personally responsible for such massacres.’

Only three days after this Allied declaration, on May 26, did Talaat Pasha, Minister of Internal Affairs, formally transmit a memorandum to the Ottoman Grand Vizier to the effect that Armenians living in the war zones, that is, close to the Russian border and in Cilicia, they were untrustworthy and rebellious and they had to be deported to relocation centers in the deserts of Syria and Mesopotamia. The ‘resettlement zone’ for these ‘deportees’ was fixed to the area south and west of the Berlin-Baghdad Railway, not closer than 25 kilometers (15 miles) to any railway line, in the most inhospitable terrain of the Syrian-Iraqi desert. The memorandum also stipulated that
(a) the total number of Armenians in the resettlement areas would not exceed 10 percent of the local tribal and Muslim population;
(b) no single Armenian settlement would exceed fifty houses; and
© the resettled population would not be allowed any freedom of movement.
Talaat’s memorandum served as the basis for the decree of deportation promulgated by the Ottoman Parliament on May 30, 1915. By that time, however, the deportations of Armenians throughout the Ottoman Empire had already been under way for almost two months. Hence, this ex-post-facto decision made official a policy that had been adopted beforehand.

The property that the Armenians left behind was eventually taken over by Turks or confiscated by the government. Muslim refugees from the Balkan War were settled in Armenian homes and on Armenian lands.

Officially, the Young Turks consistently denied that they had plans to exterminate the Armenians. They asserted time and again that Armenian political activities and especially the uprising in Van had forced the Ottoman state to remove the untrustworthy Armenians from the path of the advancing Russian army so that their treachery would not assist the enemy. The Armenians were hence simply being evacuated from the war zone.

Behind the scenes, the Ottoman leaders in Constantinople cabled explicit orders to governors and military commanders of the six Armenian provinces to remove the Armenians by force from their ancestral homeland. (Contemporary Turkish historians, who agree with the Young Turk government’s position that there was no genocidal intent, do not accept this fact.) These death marches of 1915 would empty Western Armenia of its Armenian and other Christian population.

The ethnic cleansing of the Armenians followed the same pattern in each province.
• First, all able-bodied men living in towns or villages were summoned to the municipal headquarters where they were held or jailed for a short time. They were then taken out of town and shot.
• The old men, women and children were then told that they had a few hours or days to leave for new locations. Although some were rounded up in churches, which were then set on fire, the majority, guarded by special brigades, was taken on long marches, where many died from lack of water, food, or exhaustion. The Armenians of the town of Adapazari in the western part of the empire, for example, ‘were packed into box-cars forty to forty-five in a car, men, women and children, sick and well, for the journey that took four or five days,’ during which ‘there were deaths on the cars, there were babies born in the midst of this crowd.’ The majority of Armenians, however, did not live along the Berlin-Bagdad railway, which crossed the empire. They were driven out of their homes and marched to their deaths.
• The deportees would march for weeks towards the city of Aleppo (now in northern Syria), the main dispatching center for the concentration camps of northern Syria. En route, they were beaten by gendarmes, attacked by irregular troops and nomads, deprived of food and water, and often stripped of their clothes.
• The worst suffering befell women and children. Young women were raped or forcibly taken as wives or concubines by Kurds, Turks and Arabs. Many young women and numerous children were also seized and brought up as Muslims (according to one source some 250,000 Armenians converted to Islam willingly or unwillingly through a number of way).
• Suicides, torture and murder gradually decimated the ranks of the deportees. German consular reports suggested that, in October 1915, 150 to 200 deportees were dying daily in Aleppo alone.

By the late summer of 1915 the entire Armenian population of the regions of Van, Mush, Sasun, Bitlis, Erzinjan, Baiburt, Erzerum, Trebizond, Shabin Karahisar, Kharput, Sivas, Ankara, Diarbekir, Marsovan, Urfa, as well as Cilicia had been deported from their homes. The Armenians were fully uprooted from their three-millennia-old homeland. The fact that the course of events was almost identical in each hamlet, village, or city in the Armenian provinces, points to a well-organized plan.

The Armenian genocide enriched the supporters of the Young Turks. In the countryside, the latter acquired a good share of the lands vacated by the Armenian peasants. Muslim immigrants from the Balkans and the Caucasus settled on the rest.

Disarmed, outnumbered, surrounded, and without their able-bodied men (who had been drafted to the Ottoman army), the Armenians went to their deaths with minimal resistance. In addition to Van (see above), only in a few locations did the Armenians manage to fight back or to escape.
• The six Armenian villages perched on the side of Musa Dagh on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean (in modern Turkey, very close to the Syrian border), realized the fate of their neighbors and decided to fight. They resisted the efforts of a large ottoman force for a few weeks and the French navy eventually rescued some 4,000 of them. The Armenian Legion was created in late 1916 from 600 Musa Dagh refugees, who had been taken to Port Said in Egypt. (This legion fought alongside the Allies against the Turkish and German forces in Palestine in 1917-1918.) The heroic stand of Musa Dagh was later immortalized by the author Franz Werfel in his German language novel The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, which has been translated into a number of languages.
• There were two other, albeit less successful, instances of resistance in Shabin-Karahissar and Urfa (the former Edessa).

Moreover, foreign missionaries shielded some Armenian Catholics and Protestants, but a large number of the latter faced the same fate as the Apostolic Armenians.

German and Austrian officials stationed in the Ottoman Empire were often well aware of preparations for the genocide. They witnessed or received news of the events, but mostly refused to do anything decisive about the matter, save for the German command in Smyrna (Izmir).

The Armenians of Constantinople and Smyrna had also been included in the plan, but except for the several thousand, who were arrested early on, they were spared primarily because of the presence of many European consulates in these two large cities and the intercession of American and German diplomats and military personnel.

It is difficult to conclude the exact number of Armenians, who lost their lives during these deportations and massacres and/or were forcibly converted to Islam. The discrepancy in the numbers produced emanates mainly from the fact that there are different estimates of the number of Armenians, who lived in the Ottoman Empire prior to the genocide.

A survey conducted by the Armenian Patriarchate in Constantinople in 1912 estimated there were around 2.1 million Armenians living in the empire. They were distributed as follows: over a million in the six Armenian-populated provinces and their periphery in the east; over 400,000 in Cilicia; and over 500,000 in Western Anatolia and European Turkey.

Basing himself on these statistics, one historian of the Armenian genocide has argued that some 800,000 had already been massacred or converted to Islam and taken into Muslim homes by the autumn of 1915. Only around 170,000 had managed to escape to the Russian Empire (including the residents of Van), Bulgaria and Port Said (in the case of Musa Dagh). The estimated 115,000 Armenians living in Constantinople and Izmir were not deported.

The survivors, who reached Aleppo and its surroundings, numbered some 870 thousand, according to the same estimate. Some 10,000 of these survivors were massacred in the north of the province of Aleppo. The vast majority of the rest (over 700 thousand deportees) was sent to various concentration camps located in the deserts of northern Syria and northern Mesopotamia.

For the few who reached these deserts, a slow death from hunger and thirst in concentration camps awaited them throughout the period extending from the summer of 1915 to the end of December 1916. Of the approximately 850,000 Armenians deported into the Syrian and Mesopotamian deserts, it is estimated that some 630,000 died, including over 500,000 in and around towns along the Euphrates River, particularly Deir Zor.

These deserts initially lacked an infrastructure to support the first Armenian deportees, who arrived there. Gradually, an administrative framework was developed to operate the camps, however. Two of these camps were designed as work camps in which various Armenian artisans were forced to use their labors to forward the war effort; another, the camp in Mounboudj, was designated specifically for Armenian priests and other clerics in order to keep them isolated from the rest of the population. Most other camps, however, served primarily as transit and concentration centers.

These concentration camps were designed and maintained first to relieve the victims of their remaining wealth and property and later to kill them. Class was the primary dividing line determining who would perish immediately and who would survive for a time. Those deportees with resources could often obtain the right to remain in one camp while others were moved quickly from camp to camp with little time to rest. Within the camps themselves, class distinctions also played their part as those with means could purchase food as well as the right to better accommodations to protect them from the dramatic climatic changes and the harsh sun. Some Ottoman camp commanders quite successfully used class tensions to break down solidarity among the deportees. They would select poverty stricken Armenians to work as night guards in exchange for food and promises of survival. In many cases, these Armenian guards were just as brutal as their Ottoman colleagues and behaved particularly aggressively toward their compatriots.

Even in the seemingly similar camps, Armenian deportees faced differing conditions due primarily to the attitudes and practices of local Ottoman officials. Most of those centers were encampments in the open, devoid of any amenities. Near Katma, for example, there was one fountain – the use of which was hampered by the local inhabitants – for 40,000 survivors. Around Meskene, there was nothing. In those camps, misery was such that the consumption of human corpses was not infrequent.

Finally, some 132,000 Armenians were deported southwards from Aleppo along the Hama-Homs-Damascus-Jerusalem-Amman-Hauran-Maan axis (in modern Syria and Jordan). The decimation rate was significantly lower along this axis; ‘only’ 20,000 deportees died. The rest were forced to convert to Islam beginning May/June 1916.

Altogether, some 240,000 Armenians from among those deported in the Summer of 1915 survived by the end of the First World War in November 1918.

Turkish historians, especially those who negate that what happened did constitute genocide, usually give lower estimates of Armenian victims, ranging from 300,000 down to as low as 50-60 thousand. This is partly due to the fact that, in sharp contrast to the Armenian Patriarchate’s statistics, the Ottoman government claimed that there were only 1.3 million Armenians living in the empire prior to the First World War and that in the six eastern provinces their number was only 660,000 – compared with 3 million Muslims.

On the other hand, it is estimated that 1,036 Armenian churches and monasteries in the Ottoman Empire were leveled to the ground during the years 1915-23, while 691 other religious structures were half-destroyed. (Today, outside of Istanbul, the Armenians possess only six churches on Turkish territory, no monasteries, and no schools.)

The pleas of many foreign diplomats and missionaries, particularly the American ambassador Henry Morgenthau, were ignored.

The War Crime Trials
The Allied declaration of May 1915 (see above) had pledged to try all those responsible for the Armenian deportations and massacres in the Ottoman Empire. Accordingly, after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in late 1918, the Treaty of Sèvres, which the victorious Allies negotiated with the new government of the defeated Ottoman Empire, promised
• to punish those responsible for the Armenian genocide;
• reparations and the restoration of property to the survivors of the genocide; and
• the return of Armenian women and children, who had been taken or adopted by Turks and Kurds.

However, in the early 1920s, the Allies could not carry out these pledges and eventually gave up the idea of punishing the criminals when they could not defeat the Turkish Nationalist Movement led by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), which had emerged in Anatolia from 1919.

Instead, when the Young Turk leadership fled Turkey at the end of the war, the next government in the Ottoman capital, which opposed the Young Turks and wanted to establish good ties with the victorious Allies, did try the Young Turks leaders (in absentia) and some of their underlings in a series of trials held in Constantinople and other locations (from 1919) and pronounced sentences of death or jail on the perpetrators of the genocide. Only one execution was carried out, however. These trials were also discontinued when the followers of Mustafa Kemal gradually took the upper hand in Anatolia. The Kemalist forces ultimately entered Istanbul in 1922 and put an end to the Ottoman dynasty. All governments of Republican Turkey have since denied the Armenian Genocide.

With no progress registered in the process of trying the Young Turk leaders, hit squads organized by the Dashnak party followed these fugitives and, from 1921, assassinated a number of them (including Talaat Pasha, Grand Vizier Said Halim Pasha and Djemal Pasha, the Ottoman Minister of the Navy) in various European cities, including Berlin, Rome, and Tbilisi. Enver was killed when fighting the Communists in Central Asia.
Did your professor ever discuss this angle?
My paternal great grand mother was an Armenian refugee who escaped the genocide by immigrating to the USA.  Much of her family perished, she was one of the fortunate few who got out.
(01-29-2012, 04:51 PM)Heinrich Wrote: Did your professor ever discuss this angle?

Heinrich, thanks for posting this.  It exposes the real history of the Armenian genocide.  The claims in the linked article are common knowledge among people of Armenian ancestry like myself. 

Abe Foxman and the "only Jews are victims of genocide" crowd can kiss my Armenian ass!
I was raised in Central California which has a large Armenian population.  This was a HUGE issue for virtually all the Armenians I knew.  They had very close knit families and the younger kids my age were not going to forget what happened to their ancestors!
(01-29-2012, 05:26 PM)Hawaii Five-0 Wrote:
(01-29-2012, 04:51 PM)Heinrich Wrote: Did your professor ever discuss this angle?

Heinrich, thanks for posting this.  It exposes the real history of the Armenian genocide.  The claims in the linked article are common knowledge among people of Armenian ancestry like myself. 

Abe Foxman and the "only Jews are victims of genocide" crowd can kiss my Armenian ass!

Let's not forget Holdomor or the NKVD killing all those Russian Christians. To answer the OP, as to where is the outrage, I believe the answer is Auschwitz and the "Holocaust" of the forties. They have managed to suck all the oxygen out of the earth and brand them as the only and eternal victims on earth. Oh, and Holocaust is in quotes above because I don't like using the word for burnt offerings of unspotted victims wily-nily. Even assuming the official story, which is illegal to question in many countries, is accurate. Of course there were priests back in the day, that were offerring bad stuff to God and keeping the choice meat for themselves. Must have been a type for the NO and Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. Or some of the bishops and priests who used to skim off the top.

(01-29-2012, 05:26 PM)Hawaii Five-0 Wrote:
(01-29-2012, 04:51 PM)Heinrich Wrote: Did your professor ever discuss this angle?

Heinrich, thanks for posting this.  It exposes the real history of the Armenian genocide.  The claims in the linked article are common knowledge among people of Armenian ancestry like myself. 

Abe Foxman and the "only Jews are victims of genocide" crowd can kiss my Armenian ass!

Armenians are beautiful people. My mother's dear friend from the Navy days of their spouses had grandparents in the same predicament. They got out and came here. Through my mom's friend I learned about the Armenian genocide and its "absence" from history. I would have to say this may have been one of my first experiences with cognitive dissonance.
(01-29-2012, 04:51 PM)Heinrich Wrote: Did your professor ever discuss this angle?

No he did not. Can you even imagine a professor taking that angle? His academic career would be destroyed.

There is also no mention of all the Greeks the Turks uprooted from Smyrna and Constantinople in the early part of the 20th century culminating in the forced expulsion of the Greeks from Constantinople in 1955. It was a systematic persecution of the Greeks and the remaining Christian population (and the Jews for that matter as well).

The Greeks and the Armenians have a shared history of suffering by the hands of the Turkish government.

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)