The Turkish Military Tribunal's Prosecution of the Authors of the Armenian Genocide: Four Major Court-Martial Series

Vahakn N. Dadrian

Genocide Study Project, H. F. Guggenheim Foundation

Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Volume 11, Number1, Spring 1997

This article examines the indictments, proceedings, and verdicts of a number of important trials of perpetrators of the Armenian genocide. While the actual transcripts still are not available to scholars, daily abstracts published in the government's newspaper provide a unique window into the evidence heard during the trials. Relying upon this and other sources, the author argues that the very fact that the trials took place at all reflected the weakness of Ottoman Turkey after its defeat in World War 1. With the ascendancy of the nationalist Kemalists, later the trials were gradually brought to an end, and sympathetic bureaucrats found ways to shelter most of the guilty from severe punishment for their crimes. Though this leniency may have emboldened those who would perpetrate genocide elsewhere, the author observes, the trials nonetheless demonstrated for all to see that the World War I Ittihadist government had attempted to destroy an entire nation in its ancestral homelands.