Armenian Genocide of 1915

Armenian Genocide
Information & Recognition

 

The Armenian Genocide of 1915 carried out by the Ottoman Empire is a historical fact attested to by eyewitness survivors, journalists, foreign ministers, telegrams, and photos. Despite Turkish denials, it is unanimously verified by the International Association of Genocide Scholars and accepted by nations that uphold moral responsibility above political gain.

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The First World War : A Complete History

by Martin Gilbert (Book Excerpt from "The First World War : A Complete History" - 1/1/1996)
...Turks, bitter at their losses of men and land, blamed the local Armenian popuulation for cooperating with the Russian invaders. Starting in April tens of thousands of Armenian men were rounded up and shot. Hundreds of thousands of women, old men and children were deported south across the mountains to Cilicia and Syria. On April 15 the Armenians appealed to the German Ambassador in Constantinople for formal German protection. This was rejected by Berlin on the grounds that it would offend the Turkish Government. By April 19 more than 50,000 Armenians had been murdered in the Van province. On April 20 the predominantly Armenian city of Van was surrounded by Turkish forces: there were 1,300 nians in the city defending 30,000 civilians. For thirty days repeated attempts to break into the city, until saved by the Russian forces that brought with them the congratulations of their courage in holding out.

In the Ottoman Empire the killings and expulsions of Armenians continued. Even as those in Van were resisting the siege, tens of 'ere deported from Erzerum and driven southward over the itO northern Mesopotamia. April 24 was declared Armenian rning. That day the head of the Armenian Church, Catholicos ealed to President Wilson to intervene, but in vain. In Con- :he German Ambassador went to the Turkish Foreign Ministry ~d his hope that anything that 'might look like Christian 'ould be avoided. He was told that the Turkish garrison in the van consisted of poorly trained conscripts and that 'excesses' entirely avoidable.
of the killings at Van became widely known and publicised ~urope and the u.S. On April 28 the German Vice-Consul at LX Erwin von Scheubner-Richter, was instructed by Berlin to linst 'massacres'. He was warned, however, not to do so in IS to create the impression 'as though we want to exercise action over the Armenians or interfere with the activities of the Turks.
This effectively tied his hands. I The killings continued.

In a massacre at Bitlis that began on June 17 and d over eight days, 15,000 Armenians were killed. At nearby Sirt, . of Armenian, Nestorian and Jacobite Christians were murdered. ,oth the German and Austrian Governments decided to protest. ks brushed their protests aside. When the German consul in Walter Rossler, urged Berlin to raise with the Turkish authorities ties of the deportations in his area, he was told that, despite the sible 'machinations' of the Armenians themselves, efforts on their ld already been made.
lmanitarian act, five French warships took 4,000 survivors of the s from the Syrian coast to Port Said. It was a gesture which, welcome in itself, could have no impact on Turkish action. Within >nths, more than 600,000 Armenians were massacred. Of the deported during that same period, more than 400,000 perished It of the brutalities and privations of the southward march into t Mesopotamia. By September as many as a million Armenians d, the victims of what later became known as genocide, later still cleansing. A further 200,000 were forcibly converted to Islam. is the anguish and suffering of the Armenians,' their own lyric Avetik Isahakian wrote the following February, 'so hideous and ented, that the infinity and fathomlessness of the universe must lerate in gauging it; there are no words in the dictionaries to le hid~ousness of the terrors. Not a single poet can find words. . . .'


The fate of the Armenians was the harshest of all outside the war Ines. A 25-year-old Jewish girl, Sarah Aaronsohn, who had set out from... Her biographer has written: 'She saw lovering over children who had fallen dead by the roadside. She, crawling along, maimed, starving and begging for bread... she passed soldiers driving before them with whips and whole families, men, women and children, shrieking, pleading, these were the Armenian people setting out for exile in the desert ch there was no return.' In central and eastern Turkey, the great flight of Armenians, driven In their homeland amid scenes of brutality and terror, had continued throughout the early months of 1916. Armenian refugees became a feature any Mediterranean ports. On July I, a British officer in Egypt, Ronald rs, wrote home: 'Port Said is swamped by Armenian refugees, dumped I us from Cilicia by French battleships. They are fighting the Turks bravely. Which reminds me, disabuse your pen of the phrase, Good Turks, etc. If the massacres of Urfa and Adana were not enough, lets )resent horrors suffice to erase from our political vocabulary the false foolish legend of the "First Gentleman in Europe".'

... permitted the Armenian areas conquered by Russia in 1916 to be transferred to Turkey. Armenian soldiers fought against this but were quickly crushed by Turkish forces moving eastward. February 24 the Armenians had already been driven out of Trebizond, Black Sea. On March 12 they were driven from the city of Erzerum.

Copyright Martin Gilbert, 1996

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