Lessons of the Armenian Genocide - The Objective Standard

This year, 2015, is the one hundredth anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Although the Turkish government still denies it, and millions of Americans remain unaware of it, in its dying gasp the Ottoman Empire, forerunner of modern Turkey, slaughtered more than one million innocent, legally disarmed Armenians—a subculture of Christians who lived within the empire. This atrocity, an attempt to systematically murder an entire people or ethnic group, preceded the genocide of the National Socialists and set the template for it. Indeed, the very word “genocide” was coined in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin in reference to the Armenian horror.

The history of this abomination is worth recounting for two reasons: first, to remember the innocent Armenian victims; and second, to draw from it what lessons we can. The Armenian massacre, the product mainly of racist nationalism and religious zealotry, set a grim precedent for such horrors to follow and offers a horrific reminder of what happens when a culture falls into such irrationality.

The scale of the Armenian genocide is massive. Estimates of the murder count vary widely, but even by the most conservative accounting, a minimum of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians—men, women, children, infants—were butchered by the most savagely primitive methods imaginable. Renowned English historian Arnold Toynbee suggests roughly 600,000 murders.1 Political scientist Robert Melson (among others) argues that the actual figure was around one million.2 Rudolph Rummel, an American political scientist who coined the term democide—the murder of any person or people by their government, including genocide, politicide, and mass murder—devoted his career to studying such horrors. He writes: “The size and speed of the [ruling] Young Turks’ ethnic cleansing are unparalleled. . . . They alone most likely murdered no fewer than 300,000 and most probably around 1,400,000—nearly 70 percent—of their Armenians . . . in one year.”3 Emphasizing the enormity of the crime, Rummel points out that Hitler’s National Socialist regime slaughtered roughly 38 percent of the Jewish population over a span of five years.

To comprehend this horror, we need to see the place of the Armenian population in the centuries-old Ottoman Empire.

Armenia is located in the Caucasus region, a mountainous strip of land between the Black and Caspian Seas, connecting Europe and Asia. . . .

Endnotes

1. Arnold Toynbee, “A Summary of Armenian History up to and including 1915,” in The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire: Documents Presented to Viscount Grey of Fallodon, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (London: H.M.S.O., 1916), p. 651, quoted in Richard Hovannisian, ed., The Armenian Genocide in Perspective (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1986), pp. 64–65.

2. Robert Melson, “Provocation or Nationalism: A Critical Inquiry into the Armenian Genocide of 1915,” in Hovannisian, The Armenian Genocide in Perspective, pp. 65–66.

3. Rudolph Rummel, Death By Government (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1994), p. 223.

[groups_can capability="access_html"]

4. Richard Hovannisian, “The Historical Dimensions of the Armenian Question, 1878–1923,” in The Armenian Genocide in Perspective, p. 20.

5. Hovannisian, The Armenian Genocide in Perspective, p. 20.

6. Hovannisian, The Armenian Genocide in Perspective, p. 21.

7. Quoted in Taner Akcam, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility (New York: Henry Holt, 2006), p. 44.

8. Akcam, A Shameful Act, p. 44.

9. Akcam, A Shameful Act, p. 45.

10. Akcam, A Shameful Act, p. 45.

11. Rummel, Death By Government, p. 210.

12. Merrill D. Peterson, Starving Armenians: America and the Armenian Genocide, 1915–1930 and After (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2004), pp. 28–29.

13. Rummel, Death By Government, p. 211.

14. Robert Melson, “Provocation or Nationalism,” in Hovannisian, The Armenian Genocide in Perspective, p. 72.

15. Rummel, Death By Government, p. 226.

16. Grigoris Balakian, Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide, 1915–1918 (New York: Random House, 2010), p. 88.

17. Leo Kuper, “The Turkish Genocide of Armenians, 1915–1917,” in Hovannisian, The Armenian Genocide in Perspective, pp. 47–48.

18. Henry Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story: A Personal Account of the Armenian Genocide (New York: Cosimo Classics, 2008), pp. 216, 217.

19. Kuper, “The Turkish Genocide of Armenians,” p. 48; Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, p. 215.

20. Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, p. 223.

21. Akcam, A Shameful Act, p. 121.

22. Vahakn Dadrian, German Responsibility in the Armenian Genocide (Watertown, MA: Blue Crane Books, 1996), p. 26.

23. Dadrian, German Responsibility in the Armenian Genocide, pp. 11–13.

24. Roger Smith, “Introduction” to Dadrian, German Responsibility in the Armenian Genocide, p. xiv.

25. Morgenthau, Ambassador’s Morgenthau’s Story, p. 190.

26. Kuper, “The Turkish Genocide of Armenians,” in Hovannisian, The Armenian Genocide in Perspective, p. 45; Melson, “Provocation or Nationalism,” in Hovannisian, The Armenian Genocide in Perspective, p. 63; Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, pp. 207, 209; Balakian, Armenian Golgotha, pp. 43–44.

27. Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, p. 209; Balakian, Armenian Golgotha, pp. 42–43.

28. Vahakn Dadrian, The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus (New York: Berghan Books, 2007), p. 221; see also Balakian, Armenian Golgotha, pp. 56–57.

29. Hovannisian, The Armenian Genocide in Perspective, pp. 29, 48, 50, and 61; Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, pp. 212–21; Balakian, Armenian Golgotha, pp. 82–90, and passim.

30. Balakian, Armenian Golgotha, pp. 396–98.

31. Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, p. 221.

32. K. B. Bardakjian, Hitler and the Armenian Genocide (Cambridge, MA: The Zoryan Institute for Contemporary Armenian Research and Documentation, 1985), p. 28.

[/groups_can]

Return to Top
ad
ad
ad
ad

Pin It on Pinterest