Armenian genocide

systematic destruction of the Armenian people and identity in the Ottoman Empire during World War I implemented by the Ottoman authorities through mass murder
(Redirected from Armenian Genocide)

The Armenian genocide was the deportation, killing, assimilation, and forced conversion to Islam of most Armenians from 1915 to 1917 in the Ottoman Empire, which was ruled by the Young Turks.[4]

Armenian Genocide
Part of World War I
see caption
Column of Armenian deportees guarded by gendarmes in Harput Vilayet
LocationOttoman Empire
TargetOttoman Armenians
Attack type
Genocide, death march, forced Islamization
Deaths600,000–1.5 million[3]
PerpetratorsCommittee of Union and Progress
TrialsOttoman Special Military Tribunal



In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire joined World War I on the side of the Central Powers. War Minister Enver Pasha launched a disastrous military campaign against the Russian forces in the Caucasus in the hope of capturing Baku. His forces were routed at the Battle of Sarikamis, and many of his men froze to death.[source?]

Returning to Istanbul, Enver Pasha largely blamed the Armenians living in the region for actively siding with the Russians.[5] Despite the tensions, the Armenians had thrived under Ottoman rule. Most Armenians were better educated and wealthier than their Turkish counterparts, who were jealous of the Armenians' success. The resentment was fuelled by suspicions that the Christian Armenians would support fellow countries of fellow Christians, especially Russia, which shared an unstable border with the Ottoman Empire, as opposed to the Muslim Ottoman caliphate.

In 1914, the Ottoman War Office had already begun a propaganda drive to present Armenians as a liability and a threat to the Ottomans' security. 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]."[6]

The Ottoman government, moving quickly, arrested an estimated 250 Armenian intellectuals on the night of 24 April 1915.[7] Its acts of genocide against the Armenians continued for nine years until 1922, when around 388,000 Armenians remained.

The massacres of Armenians in 1894, 1895, 1896 and 1909 were still fresh in their minds.[8]

Acts committed

Armenian genocide: severed heads

In the beginning, in 1915 at 1916, Armenians were kicked out of their homes, which were claimed by Turks. During a Turkification campaign, the government squads kidnapped children, converted them to Islam, and gave them to Turkish families. In some places, the Turks raped and forced women to join Turkish harems or serve as slaves. Women would mark their bodies with scars or burn part of their face to be unfit to join a harem. Muslim families moved into the homes of deported Armenians and seized their property.

Meanwhile, the Turks created the Special Organization (Teşkilât-ı Mahsusa), which in turn organized killing squads or butcher battalions to carry out, as one officer put it, “the liquidation of the Christian elements.” The killing squads were often made up of murderers and other ex-convicts. People were drowned in rivers, thrown off cliffs, crucified, or burned alive.

Henry Morgenthau, the American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (1913-1916), wrote in 1919, "I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared with the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915.".

"Massacre by Turks in Caucasus Towns," The New York Times, February 23, 1915.

Denial of killings


Guenter Lewy claims in his book The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide that there is not enough evidence that the Young Turks regime organized the killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.[9] According to Lewy, even though their fate in World War I proved tragic, it was not a "real" genocide because "there were no centrally organized and state-sponsored premeditation and genocidal intention".[10]

A major obstacle for the wider recognition of the genocide in the world is the official position of Turkey, which states that there was no systematic attempt to annihilate the Armenian population and that the 1915 massacres happened because of the Tehcir Law deportation and the war. In December 2008, a group of Turkish scholars launched an online petition for people who wanted to apologize for what happened. Those who created the petition failed to use the word "genocide" but used the "Great Catastrophe" regarding the event. Many Turks viewed the Armenians as a threat to the Ottoman Empire in a time of war and argued that people of various ethnicities were killed during the violence. Turkey and its leaders fear that recognizing the word "genocide" could cost considerable sums of money in reparations, as well as public embarrassment.



  1. Suny 2015, pp. 245, 330.
  2. Bozarslan et al. 2015, p. 187.
  3. Morris & Ze'evi 2019, p. 1.
  4. "Cultural Cleansing: Who Remembers The Armenians," in Robert Bevan. The Destruction of Memory, Reaction Books, London. 2006, pages 25-60
  5. Balakian. The Burning Tigris, p. 200
  6. Dadrian., History of the Armenian Genocide, p. 220
  7. Balakian. The Burning Tigris, pp. 211-212
  8. "A Peace to End All Peace", by David Fromkin, p211.
  9. Lewy, Guenter (Fall 2005). "Revisiting the Armenian Genocide". Middle East Quarterly.
  10. See Taner Akçam, Guenter Lewy’s The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey." Genocide Studies and Prevention, 3:1 April 2008, pp. 111-143.

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