More Than A Million Armenians
Were Killed by Turks in 1915-1916.
Many Know This?
That Is A Tragedy in and of Itself.
Many feel if this genocide had been
publicized properly, Hitler would
not have dared to kill
in a similar way many million Jews. The shame and stigma,
if there had been more
publicity, might even have prevented Hitler's rising to power
using hatred for an
entire race. Even now US Pres. Obama refuses to appropriately
condemn what the Turks
did to the Armenians in World War I. What is wrong
with Obama that makes
him so afraid of doing the right thing? This is a warning
of a severe character
flaw in the new President, a lack of moral backbone. Without
real moral leadership,
all the authority of America's vast weaponry is undercut.
Hitler was asked by his followers, what the World would do about his
own genocide and
whether there would be retaliation, he could point to the example
of the Armenian
genocide by Turkey and say "nothing".
is another lesson in this terrible tragedy.
bring out the worst in all governments. They kill. They lie. They spread
hate and they
quickly take away liberties, food and lives. We must learn not to quickly
go to war just
because some scoundrel-politician wants us to. This was as terribly
true in Turkey in
World War I, as it was in Tsarist Russia, militaristic Germany,
or repressive Wilsonian America. Imagine how much better off
Europe would have
been if the US had not entered World War I. Germany and England
would have had to
reach a reasonable armistice and peace. There would have been
The Cold War would not have been started in 1918. And hundreds of
Americans would not have been killed in war or in the Swine Flu Epidemic.
US House of Representatives has just passed a resolution honoring the
Armenians killed by Turks in the Genocide of 1915-1916. All the media
that I have seen, has been about how this House Resolution has caused the Turks
withdraw their Ambassador from the US, about how the Turks are planning attacks
Kurds in Iraq and about how they may stop allowing the US to use their bases and
its Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
I think it is time again that the American mass media tell the American people about the
horrors of this first genocide of the 20th century. It is a fact: the Turkish
planned, coordinated and murdered one million Armenians in World War I. Though this
90 years ago, The revolution of 1923 that brought to power Kemal Pasha and his Young
buried for 87 years the issue of responsibity of this Turkish genocide.
Listen to Peter Jennnings summary from 10 years ago during the "ethnic
cleansing" of the
As for myself, I must say that I did not learn about this massacre
until graduate school when I was
unassigned books about the Eastern front of World War I. Not once did any
professor ever raise the subject! And I even took a seminar on Balkan History
Armenians are marched to a prison by armed Turkish soldiers in April 1915.
Turkish soldiers survey Armenians killed in the Genocide of 1915-1916
At the beginning of 1915, there were two million Armenians living in Anatolian Turkey.
By 1923, nearly all of
them had disappeared. In the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire was ruled
from Istanbul by a
Sultan, who wielded absolute power, and ruled in the name of Islam. Armenians,
who were Christian,
were more concentrated in Eastern Turkey. They were second class citizens.
Armenians were exempt
from serving in the military and were instead made to pay an exemption tax,
the jizya; their testimony in
Islamic courts was inadmissible against Muslims; they were not allowed
to bear arms, and they
had to pay a higher tax. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide
Many Armenians lived in
Armenian Russia, which Turkey went to war with in World War I.
But even before the war, in 1894 and 1895, three hundred thousand Armenians were massacred
in apparent retaliation
for their seeking better protection and more civil rights in the Ottoman Empire.
When the Ottoman Empire
was threatened by the rise of the Young Turks, the Sultan played the
religious Islamic card.
30,000 Armenians perished in the subsequent Adana Massacre.
By 1913, the Young Turks had taken power. They were ultra-nationalistic. They
eastward into areas of Russia where Turkish people lived. In 1914, they
Empire into the War on the German-Austrias side, against Russia. In 1915, as
Turkey waged war
with Russia to pursue its aims in Cenral Asia, it implemented a planned
eradicating Armenians everywhere in Turkey. The Armenians were convenient
there were military defeats, when the Turkish Army failed to conquer Baku
and when many in
the Turkish Army froze to death on the march back to Turkey.
An Ottoman naval officer in the War Office described the planning:
In order to justify this enormous crime the requisite propaganda material was thoroughly
prepared in Istanbul. [It included such statements as] "the Armenians are in league
with the enemy.
They will launch an uprising in Istanbul, kill off the Ittihadist leaders and will succeed in opening
the straits [of the Dardanelles]."
In the Spring and Summer of 1915, under the orders of Mehmed
Talat Pasha, with the
full support of
the Turkish Cabinet
and the Young Turk Central Committee, Armenians were
from their homes. It was not a resettlement campaign. No compensation
All their properties (land, livestock, homes and valuables) were simply
Tens of thousands
of Armenians, including women, and children were driven hundreds of miles
toward the Syrian
desert. No new homes were provided. The deportees were not protected
from thieves or
hired government killers as they walked. It was a Death March for most.
were denied food and water in the shelterless concentration camps.
By August 1915,
the New York Times reported that "the roads and the Euphrates are strewn
with corpses of
exiles, and those who urvive are doomed to certain death. It is a plan to
whole Armenian people."
At the same time there were mass Turkish
Armenian intellectuals and those who resisted. Armenians who were in the
Turkish Army had
their weapons taken and were either killed outright or in Labor Camps.
These actions were, of course, could not be kept secret. The US was not at war at
Its consular officials made numerous reports about the massacres. See the
Ambassador Henry Morgenthau Sr. to the State
Department on 16 July
1915. It described
massacres as a "campaign of race extermination." German officials even
reported it. The New
reported almost daily on the mass murder of the Armenian people, describing the
"systematic", "authorized" and "organized by the
government." Theodore Roosevelt
characterize this as "the greatest crime of the war."
After the war, a new Turkish Sultan conducted domestic court martial
trials. These courts were designed by Sultan Mehmed VI to punish
Young Turks' Committee of Union and Progress for the
involvement in World
War I. The Armenian issue was used as a tool to punish the
leaders of the Committee of Union and Progress. As a result, the Young Turks
Committee was disbanded and their assets seized. At trials in Istanbul,
they were sentenced to death in absentia. But most of those responsible
for planning and organizing the genocide fled Turkey in 1918, either fled the country
and escaped justice or joined nationalist forces under Kemal and completed the
eradication of Armenians from Turkey by their attacks in Cilicia and Smyrna.
At trials in Istanbul, they were sentenced to death in absentia.
Kemal was a Young Turk general, who had been in charge of the defense of Gallipoli in
1915-1916. He drew a band of of Turkish fighters together in 1919 and attacked his
forces against the "French in Cilicia with fatal consequences for remant Armenians,
who had taken shelter their with Allied encouragement and promises of protection.
In 1920 there was large scale slaughtering of the Armenians there."
In 1920, Turkish Nationalist forces had gone to war against the Republic of
With secret instructions from the Ankara government to proceed with the physical
of Armenia, General Kiazim Karabekir seized half the territories of Armenia in November
as Red Army units Sovietized the remaining areas. Once again the Armenian population was
driven out at the point of the sword with heavy casualties as the city of Kars and its
region were annexed by Turkey.
In 1922, Kemal new Turkish Army attacked and defeated the Greek army at Smyrna. Soon
after, a fire begun in the Armenian neighborhood consumed the entire Christian sector of
and drove the civilian population to the shore whence they sailed into exile bereft of all
"In all, it is estimated that up to a million and a half
Armenians perished at the hands of
Ottoman and Turkish military and paramilitary forces and through atrocities intentionally
inflicted to eliminate the Armenian demographic presence in Turkey. In the process, the
population of historic Armenia at the eastern extremity of Anatolia was wiped off the map.
With their disappearance, an ancient people which had inhabited the Armenian highlands for
three thousand years lost its historic homeland and was forced into exile and a new
The surviving refugees spread around the world and eventually settled in some two dozen
on all continents of the globe. Triumphant in its total annihilation of the Armenians and
of any obligations to the victims and survivors, the Turkish Republic adopted a policy of
the charge of genocide and denying that the deportations and atrocities had constituted
of a deliberate plan to exterminate the Armenians. When the Red Army sovietized what
of Russian Armenia in 1920, the Armenians had been compressed into an area amounting to no
more than ten percent of the territories of their historic homeland. Armenians annually
commemorate the Genocide on April 24 at the site of memorials raised by the survivors in
their communities around the world."
The Kurdish Minority in Turkey
In this way Turkey became ethnically homogeneous, except for a 20% Kurdish minority.
Kemal became the new President of modern Turkey. Though Westernizing Turkey
and adopting the Latin alphabet, Turkey now became silent about their killing of
one million Armenians.
Not surprisingly, the Turks, given their history of violent intolerance towards other
ethnicities, has always thwarted attempts by Kurds to have their own political party.
Most famously, in 1994 Leyla Zana--who, three years prior, had
been the first Kurdish
woman elected to the Turkish parliament--was sentenced to 15 years for "separatist
Her party was banned. More recently, in June the leaders of the pro-Kurdish People's
Democracy Party (HADEP) were sentenced to several-year prison terms for allegedly
having ties with the outlawed PKK guerillas... Adding to the grievances of Turkey's Kurds
is the economic underdevelopment of the southeast. The Ankara government has
systematically withheld resources from the Kurdish region. As a result, there are two
distinct Turkeys: the northern and western regions are highly developed and cosmopolitan,
part of the "first world," while the south and east are truly of the "third
Influence on Hitler.
Hitler, of course, knew of the Turkish genocide of Armenians. At one point,
he issued a command to "send to death mercilesly and without compassion,
men, women and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we
gain Lebensraum... Who, after all, speaks today of the annihlation
of the Armenians."
The Modern Turkish View
Turks deny that the "deportations" were genocidal; that they were gpvernment
planned and carried out and that the killings were deliberate. They further state
that the Armenians sided openly with the Russians when they could in the fighting.
Interestingly, the website
of the Turkish General Staff has a Russian document which
views Armenians as
hopelessly parasitical and greedy.