Armenian genocide



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Armenian Genocide

"Armenian genocide." Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. 2006. Grolier Online. 20 Dec. 2006 .


The term Armenian genocide refers to the deportation and killings of Armenians living in Turkey in 1915 and 1916. The historic region of Armenia, homeland of the Armenian people, lay in eastern Anatolia (the Asian portion of modern Turkey) and adjacent areas of what was then the Russian Empire. By the late 19th century, more than 2 million Armenians lived in Turkey, which was then the core of the Ottoman Empire. Unlike the Turks, who were Muslims, Armenians were Christians, mostly members of the Armenian church. The Ottoman rulers had first moved against Armenians in the 1890s, when Russia had encouraged them to seek territorial autonomy and to revolt against the Ottomans. Some 50,000 Armenians were killed in that unrest, which some historians refer to as the "first Armenian massacre." During World War I, the Ottoman Empire, under the rule of the Young Turks, was allied with Germany, while Russia fought on the side of the Allies. Armenians living in Russia again encouraged Turkish Armenians to revolt against the Ottomans and raised Armenian legions in Russia to join the battle. In response, the Turkish government executed several hundred Armenian intellectuals and in 1915 decided to deport about 1.75 million Armenians from Anatolia mainly to Syria and Mesopotamia (also then part of the Ottoman Empire). Several hundred thousands of Armenians died of starvation, while others were killed by Kurdish and Turkish troops.
The number of Armenians who died, and the circumstances surrounding their deaths, remain the subject of heated dispute to this day. The government of the Republic of Turkey, successor state to the Ottoman Empire, contends that no such "genocide" ever occurred but that the Armenians who died were killed in battle revolting against the Ottomans or from the deprivations of war. Armenian groups, however, claim that as many as 2 million Armenians were systematically murdered by the Young Turk government. Talaat Pasha, one of the leaders of the Young Turks, conceded that 300,000 Armenians died between 1915 and 1916 but insisted that their deaths were war-related and not the result of a conscious policy of genocide. The English historian Arnold Toynbee, who served in the British military in the region during World War I, estimated that some 600,000 Armenians were killed. Most historians now believe that as many as 1.5 million Armenians died during this period.

Bibliography:


Balakian, Peter, The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response (2003).
Derdarian, Mae E., Vergeen: A Survivor of the Armenian Genocide (1997).
Graber, G. S., Caravans to Oblivion: The Armenian Genocide, 1915 (1996).
Suny, Ronald Grigor, Looking toward Ararat: Armenia in Modern History (1993).

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