Author Sara Cohan Magazine TitleSocial Education pg 333–337
Date October 2005 National Council for the Social Studies
“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.”
Henry Morgenthau, American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, 1913–1916.1 Who Are the Armenians?
The Armenians are an ancient people who have existed since before the first century C.E. Armenia has gained and lost a tremendous amount of territory throughout its long and turbulent history. Boundaries of the past have extended from that of the present-day Republic of Armenia and through most of modern day Turkey. The name “Armenia” was actually given to the country by its neighbors; inhabitants of Armenia refer to it as
“Hayastan” derived from the name Haik, a descendent of Noah (from the Bible), and “stan” which means “land” in Persian. The Armenian language is unique from other Indo-European languages, with its own distinct letters and grammar.
Christianity is a deeply rooted aspect of Armenian history and culture. Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion, in 301 C.E. This early Christian identity has greatly influenced Armenian culture, setting it apart from most of its neighboring peoples. The majority of Armenians belong to the Eastern or Western dioceses of the Armenian Apostolic Church, an orthodox form of Christianity.
Although Armenia was at times a kingdom, in modern times, Armenia has been an independent country for only a few years. It first gained independence in 1918, after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, but this ended when Armenia was invaded by the Red Army and became a Soviet state in 1920. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia was the first state to declare its independence, and remains an independent republic today. Armenia is a democracy and its borders only include a very small portion of the land that was historic Armenia.
The Seljuk Turks began to inhabit Anatolia as early as the eleventh century and by 1453 their descendants, the Ottoman Turks, had captured Constantinople (now Istanbul), firmly establishing the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire was a multinational State that incorporated several ethnic groups including the Armenians. The Armenians were second-class citizens of the Ottoman Empire and while they were granted some freedoms, including the ability to practice Christianity, they were faced with extra taxes and discriminatory laws extending to their participation in the justice system, government, and their civil and property rights.
By the mid-1800s, as the idea of constitutionalism swept through Europe, some Armenians began to demand more rights, such as protection from corrupt government officials and biased taxation. While most Armenians saw themselves as members of the Ottoman Empire, organized groups of intellectuals protested the discriminatory laws, seeking reform from the government, though not an independent sovereign state.
1919: During the nineteenth century, the Ottoman Empire experienced a period
of decline, during which it lost territories to Russia, Great Britain, and new states created by nationalities that had once been part of the Ottoman Empire, such as Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. Early in the century, Russia had gained some of the eastern
Armenian provinces, including Tiflis, which became a cultural center for Russian Armenians. Russian Armenians became increasingly interested in supporting Armenians within the Ottoman Empire in their quest for human rights. The newly created Ottoman Armenian political organizations received some support from Russian Armenians and
Russia in their quest to gain equal rights under Ottoman law.
The Treaty of Berlin (1878) included a clause that would provide more rights for Ottoman Armenians, including fair taxation practices, protections from tribal attacks, and the right to give evidence in Ottoman courts of law. Unfortunately these rights were never granted as the Sultan was empowered by the treaty to serve as the protector of the Armenians. This was in contrast to the terms of the earlier Treaty of San Stefano, which the Treaty of Berlin replaced, and which had assigned the Russians the responsibility of ensuring that the Armenians in Ottoman territory would gain more rights. The reason
for the change was that the presence of Russian troops in the region was of concern to Great Britain and the other “Great Powers” of Europe who wanted to deter the expansion of Russia.
After the Treaty of Berlin, Ottoman Armenians continued to protest discriminatory laws and eventually the Sultan responded to these protests with massacres.
Massacres of the Armenians began in the late nineteenth century under Abdul-Hamid II, the last of the Ottoman Sultans actually to rule the empire. The worst massacres during this time occurred from 1894-1896 after a tax protest by Armenians. They are now known as the Hamidian Massacres and some believe represented a foreshadowing of the genocide to come.
During the Hamidian Massacres, 100,000 to 300,000 Armenians were killed in towns and villages throughout areas of the Ottoman Empire. Thousands of Armenians fled and found refuge in Europe and the United States. Some who stayed converted to Islam in order to save their own lives.
The massacres caught the world’s attention because of their unique nature.
Armenians were unarmed and adhered to the perimeters set forth by the Ottoman government. The massacres were publicized in newspapers throughout the world. The U.S. media paid particular attention to the events. The New York Times as well as other news sources regularly published articles about the brutal killings, coverage that would continue through the Armenian genocide.
Many American missionaries and diplomats who worked throughout the Ottoman Empire witnessed the atrocities firsthand and helped mobilize relief efforts. Aid for Armenian victims became the first international mission of the American Red Cross.
Later during the genocide, a society known as the Near East Relief would raise more than $100 million in assistance to Armenians; the funds collected saved countless Armenian lives in the 1890s and during the genocide, which at the time represented more
money than all the aid raised to help tsunami victims this year. While the funds collected saved countless victims’ lives, it was the only aid Armenians would see.
Hope to Despair
In 1908, Armenians and other minorities of the Ottoman Empire began to rejoice in what promised to be a new era of tolerance and the establishment of a participatory government in the Ottoman Empire.
Armenians, Arabs, Greeks, Jews, and Kurds had begun working with a group of Turks to challenge the authority of the Sultan. This group was known as the Ottoman Liberals and the Turkish coalition of the group adopted the name “Young Turks.” They wanted to create a modern state that represented inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire more equally and render the Sultan politically powerless. In 1908, one of the Young Turk groups, the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), marched on Constantinople, and overthrew Sultan Abdul-Hamid.
Over the next year, the Ottoman Empire developed a constitutional government providing equal rights for all of its citizens. Ottoman Armenians hoped that the new constitution would protect them from the violence they endured under the Sultan. However, as time passed, advocates of liberalism in the government lost out to a group promoting authoritarian rule and a radical policy of Turkification.
In April 1909, Armenian hopes were dashed as Hamidian supporters in the city of Adana carried out a massacre of Armenians as part of an attempt to reestablish the power of the Sultan. Adana was heavily populated by Armenians and had at one time been part of Armenian territory. Despite attempts at resistance, in the end almost 30,000 Armenians were killed and nearly half the city destroyed.
The Armenian Genocide
The culprits of the Adana Massacre were never punished and after 1909, an extreme nationalist political movement promoting a policy of Pan-Turkism (“Turkey for the Turks”) gained backing from Turkish populations throughout the Ottoman Empire. In addition, the Ottoman Empire, now known as the “sick man of Europe,” was weakened by the loss of its lands in south-eastern Europe in the Balkan Wars of 1912-13.
One of the Ottoman Empire’s greatest enemies was Russia, as Russia was constantly threatening the security of the Ottoman borders and controlled parts of the eastern edge of the Ottoman Empire that was populated by Armenians. Since the Russians had advocated for Armenian reforms in the past and because the Russian army did have Armenians serving as soldiers, the Ottoman government was concerned that Ottoman Armenians might commit traitorous acts. This fear helped to fuel Turkish public sentiment against Armenians.
The Ottoman Empire entered World War I in 1914, fighting against Russia in campaigns that straddled territory inhabited by Armenians on both sides of the border. The Ottoman Empire was badly defeated by Russia in a campaign in the winter of 1914-15, and the government then made the Armenian community a scapegoat for the military losses that had occurred at the hands of the Russians.
By the spring of 1915, leaders of the ruling party, the CUP, seized the opportunity of a world preoccupied by war to erase the Armenian presence from almost all Ottoman lands. The CUP was a triumvirate led by Mehmet Talaat, Ismail Enver, and Ahmed Jemal. Beginning on April 24, 1915 (now commemorated as the beginning of the Armenian genocide), Armenian civil leaders, intellectuals, doctors, businessmen, and artists were rounded up and killed. Once these leaders of the Armenian communities were killed, the genocide plan was put into motion throughout the empire. Many Armenian men were quickly executed. Using new technologies, such as the telegraph and the railroads, CUP leaders sent orders to province leaders to gather women and children and either load them onto trains headed for the Syrian Desert or lead them on forced marches into the desert. Embarking with little food and few supplies, women and children had little hope of survival.
On these journeys, Turkish gendarmes regularly subjected Armenian women to sexual violence. Special militias were created by the government to carry out the deportations and murders; and Turkish and Kurdish convicts who had been set free from jails brutalized and plundered the deportation caravans winding through the severe terrain. Some women and children were abducted and sold, or children were raised as Turks by Turkish families. Some Armenians were rescued by Bedouins and other Arabs who sympathized with the Armenian situation. Sympathetic Turkish families also risked their own lives to help their Armenian neighbors escape.
Within months, the Euphrates and Tigris rivers became clotted with the bodies of Armenian women and children, polluting the water supply for those who had not yet perished. Dysentery and other diseases were rampant and those who managed to survive the march found themselves in concentration camps.
By 1918, most of the Armenians who had resided in this historic land were dead or in the Diaspora. Under the orders of Turkey’s new leader, Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk), the remaining Armenians in western Cilicia (the region of the Ottoman Empire originally inhabited by Armenians) were expelled, as were the Greek and Assyrian populations.
By 1923, a 3,000-year-old civilization virtually ceased to exist. One and a half million Armenians, more than half of the Armenian population on its historic homeland, were dead, and the Armenian community and personal properties were lost, appropriated by the government, stolen by others or deliberately destroyed. Only a small number of Armenians remained in the former Ottoman capital of Constantinople.
The term “genocide” was not created until 1944. It was devised by a legal scholar, Raphael Lemkin, who had been strongly influenced by his study of the Armenian case and the persecution of Jews under Nazi rule. In 1946, the United Nations adopted the language and two years later the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the
Crime of Genocide was passed.
Despite the affirmation of the Armenian genocide by the overwhelming majority of historians, academic institutions on Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and governments around the world, the Turkish government still actively denies the Armenian genocide.
Among a series of actions enacted to counter Armenian genocide recognition and education, the government even passed a law in 2004 known as Article 305 which makes it a criminal offense, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, to discuss the Armenian genocide.
Most of the survivors of the Armenian genocide have now passed away. Their families still continue to demand recognition for the suffering inflicted upon their beloved ancestors more than 90 years ago.
The New York Times was created in 1851, and is known as the “Newspaper of Record.” At the height of the first wave of massacres in the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians in 1896, The New York Times began to use their famous masthead logo: "All the News That's Fit to Print." By this point it was already clear that Armenian conditions in the Ottoman Empire qualified as news that was fit to print as The Times was covering the events in the Ottoman Empire on a regular basis.
Soon after the paper’s inception in 1851, it was clear that The New York Times was one of the single best sources for reliable news. Times reporter, Robert McFadden wrote in 2001:
“The newspaper's reputation for complete, accurate coverage was solidified in
World War I. Disregarding the costs of cable and travel and other reportorial
expenses, and led by Edwin L. James, its chief war correspondent, The Times
detailed every thrust and parry, from the first shots in Sarajevo and the
sinking of the Lusitania to America's plunge into the conflict and the Treaty of
Versailles, whose full text it printed exclusively.” 1
Newspaper coverage of the Armenian Genocide as it was happening was persistent and detailed. In 1915 alone, The New York Times published 145 articles, one every 2-3 days, on the continuous massacres of Armenians. Although the term "genocide" had not been invented yet, the reports described the Turkish slaughter of the Armenians as "systematic," "deliberate," "authorized," and "organized by the government," a "campaign of extermination" and "systematic race extermination." 2
Even with prolific coverage, the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire were massacred and deported from their homeland. By 1923, one and a half million Armenians, more than half of the Armenian population on its historic homeland, were dead. The Armenian community buildings and personal properties were lost, appropriated by the government, stolen by others or deliberately destroyed. A 3,000-year-old civilization virtually ceased to exist.
Unfortunately, as America lost interest in the Armenian cause so did The New York Times and coverage of the issue almost disappeared. Sadly, by the 1930s, the Armenian Question was no longer news. Not only did the Armenian Question seemingly disappear from the pages of The New York Times. When The Times did cover the issue later in sporadic episodes, their treatment of it also changed.
The term “genocide” was coined in 1944 by Raphael Lempkin, a Polish legal scholar who escaped the Holocaust and dedicated his life to creating a legal definition of genocide. He drew from the Armenian Case when constructing his definition of genocide as well as the Holocaust which was unfolding in front of him.
On December 9, 1948, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This convention was approved after the Holocaust and in part due to the efforts of Lempkin. The definition of genocide set forth in this convention is still widely accepted today and in part is built on the historical facts of the Armenian Genocide. Despite the influence of the Armenian Case on the development of the definition of genocide, The New York Times did not use the term genocide when referring to the Armenian Case in formal policy until April, 2004. For over fifty years the description of the events of the Armenian Genocide varied widely in articles and commentary published in The New York Times. Whether or not the Armenian Case was described as genocide depended less on historical fact, as it did on the extent of knowledge of the journalist and editor, since the Armenian Genocide has been largely absent from popular education.
There are many reasons for this discrepancy. One reason is that since the Cold War, Turkey has served as an important military ally to the United States and Turkey refuses to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. Turkey has denied the Genocide and even today it is considered treasonous behavior for Turkish citizens to affirm this aspect of their history. The Turkish government has threatened that if the United States government affirms the Armenian Genocide then the future of U.S. military bases existing in Turkey, the safety of U.S. citizens in Turkey, as well as future military contracts with the U.S. cannot be guaranteed. The new policy allows journalists to use the term “genocide” to describe the Armenia Case. It also requires that any historically based article on the events of 1915 must use the term
“genocide,” so that any appearance of denial of the Armenian Genocide will not occur. As of June 2005, there have been at least twelve articles or listings in The New York Times that uses the phrase “Armenian Genocide.” In deciding to change The Times policy, Bill Keller, the executive editor, stated: “I don’t feel I’m particularly qualified to judge exactly what a precise functional definition of genocide is, but it seemed a no-brainer that killing a million people because they were Armenians fit the definition.”3
The New York Times and the Armenian Genocide: Guided Reading Questions
1. What do you think is meant by the phrases: “Newspaper of Record” and "All the News That's Fit to Print?"
2. What could have been the benefits of The New York Times covering the Armenian
Genocide and the earlier massacres for the Armenians?
3. Who invented the term “genocide?” Why is creating a word to describe such events important?
4. Why would The New York Times shy away from the use of the term “genocide” when discussing the Armenian Case?
5. At the end of the reading Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, said he was not qualified to make the determination of whether or not the Armenian Case was genocide. What type of people could Keller turn to help determine this? Why?
3 Bass, Gary. “Word Problem,” The New Yorker, May 3, 2005.
From The Armenian Genocide, News Accounts from the American Press: 1915-1922,
By Richard Diran Kloian, 2005
April 28, 1915 (2:1)
APPEAL TO TURKEY TO STOP MASSACRES
Ambassador Morgenthau Instructed to Make Representations on Request of Russia.
WASHINGTON, APRIL 27. — An appeal for relief of Armenian Christians in Turkey, following reported massacres and threatened further outrages, was made to the Turkish Government today by the United States. Acting upon the request of the Russian Government, submitted through Ambassador Bakhmeteff, Secretary Bryan cabled to Ambassador Morgenthau at Constantinople to make representations to the Turkish authorities asking that steps be taken for the protection of imperiled Armenians and to prevent the recurrence of religious outbreaks.
Ambassador Bakhmeteff Called at the State Department late today with a dispatch from his Government, which included an appeal to the President of the United States for aid, forwarded through the Russian Government from the Catholicos of the Armenian Church at Etchmiadzin, in the Caucasus. “The request from the head of the Armenian Church to this Government, forwarded through the Russian Ambassador,” said Secretary Bryan, “is the first official notice the department has received of the reported Armenian massacres. Our action was taken as a matter of humanity.” The Russian Embassy today gave out a translation of a recent speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Duma, in which the presence of Russian troops in Persia was explained. The Foreign Minister said:
“The presence of our troops in Persian territory by no means involves a violation of Persian neutrality. Our detachments were sent to that country some years ago for the definite purpose of establishing and maintaining order in districts contiguous to our possessions, of high economic importance to us, also to prevent the seizure of some of these districts by the Turks, who openly strove to create for themselves
there, especially in the district of Urumiah, a convenient base for military operations against the Caucasus. The Persian Government, not having the actual power to maintain its neutrality, met the Turkish violation of the latter with protests, which, however, had no results.
From The Armenian Genocide, News Accounts from the American Press: 1915-1922,
By Richard Diran Kloian 2005
deportation of all Armenians, but some time ago, after representations had been made by Morgenthau, the Ottoman Government gave assurances that the order would be modified so as not to embrace Catholic and Protestant Armenians.
Reports reaching Washington indicate that about 500,000 Armenians have been slaughtered or lost their lives as a result of the Turkish deportation order and the resulting war of extinction. Turkish authorities drove the Gregorian Armenians out of their homes, ordered them to proceed to distant towns in the direction of Bagdad, which could only be reached by crossing long stretches of desert. During the exodus of Armenians across the deserts they have been fallen upon by Kurds and slaughtered, but some of the Armenian women and girls, in considerable numbers, have been carried off into captivity by the Kurds. The reports that have been sent to the State Department by its agents in Asia Minor fully confirm these statements
made in the appeal sent to this country by Viscount Bryce, formerly the British Ambassador to the United States, to try to stop the slaughter of the Armenians. Viscount Bryce stated that the horrors through which the Armenians have passed have been unparalleled in modern times.
Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES ALEXANDRIA, Sept. 23, (Dispatch to The London Morning Post.) ¾ British refugees from Urfa, who arrived in Alexandria yesterday, brought terrible tales of sufferings of interned allied subjects. They were not supplied with food,
furniture, or servants, and were housed in an Armenian monastery the monks in which had been massacred. They witnessed the Armenian massacres of Aug. 19. Urfa was the centre of ghastly scenes. The Turks systematically murdered men and turned women and children out into the desert, where thousands perished of starvation.
The last batch of women and children left Urfa on Aug. 24. They were delayed a fortnight at Alexandretta, awaiting a ship in filthy quarters and half starved. They finally embarked for Alexandria in an American warship.
SEPTEMBER 24, 1915 (2:3)
500,000 ARMENIANS SAID TO HAVE PERISHED
W a s h i n g t o n A s k e d to S t o p Slaughter of Christians by Turks and Kurds.
Special to The New York Times.
WASHINGTON, S e p t .23.¾ Charles R. Crane of Chicago, a Director of Roberts College, Constantinople, and James L. Burton of Boston, Foreign Secretary of the American Board of
Commissioners for Foreign Missions, visited the State Department today and conferred with Acting Secretary of State Polk and other officials regarding the slaughter of Armenians by Turks and Kurds in Asia Minor. They will attend a meeting of a general committee, to be held in New York within a few days, to devise a plan for appealing to the American people for funds and aid for as many of the unfortunate Armenians as can be helped. It was learned, in connection with the
conferences held here today, that general representations have from time to time been made to the Ottoman Government by Ambassador Morgenthau for humane treatment of Armenians. Despite these representations, the slaughter of Armenians has continued. The records of the State Department are replete with detailed reports from American Consular officers in Asia Minor, which give harrowing tales
of the treatment of the Armenian Christians by the Turks and the Kurds. These reports have not been made public. They indicate that the Turk has undertaken a war of extermination on Armenians, especially those of the Gregorian Church, to which about 90 percent of the Armenians belong. The Turkish Government originally ordered the killings.
From The Armenian Genocide, News Accounts from the American Press: 1915-1922,
By Richard Diran Kloian 2005
THURSDAY OCTOBER 7, 1915 (3:5)
ALREADY HAS $75,000 TO HELP ARMENIANS
Rockefeller Foundation Leads Donations to American Committee with $30,000. The Rockefeller Foundation contributed $30,000 yesterday to the fund being raised to aid the Armenians who are being driven from their homes by the Turkish
Government. This brings the amount already collected up to $75,000. In connection with its appeal for funds to aid the victims of Turkish abuses, issued on Monday, the
American Committee on Atrocities in Armenia, from its offices at 70 Fifth Avenue, made public yesterday letters received in New York within the last two or three days
detailing the reported misdeeds of the Turkish authorities in their treatment of the Armenians. In giving out the new reports, Professor Samuel T. Dutton of the committee said:
"We assume that a large number of the Turkish people are not unfriendly to the Armenians; in fact we know of many specific instances where individual Turks protested against the outrages, and American missionaries highly esteem many of the Turks, particularly of the higher class. This movement is dominated from the centre." Included among the new details is a long letter from an officer of Euphrates College, The American institution at Harput, which had 600 students before the present persecutions began.
American College Nearly Wiped Out.
"Approximately two-thirds of the girl pupils," he says, "and six-sevenths of the boys have been taken away to death, exile, or Moslem homes. Of our professors four
Azbaked and representative of the Americans with the Government, was arrested on May 1. No charge was made against him, but the hair of his head, mustache and
beard was pulled out in a vain effort to secure damaging confessions. He was starved and hung by the arms for a day and a night and was severely beaten several times. About June 20 he was taken out toward Diarbekir and murdered in a general massacre on the road. "Professor Natigian who had studied at Ann Arbor, was arrested about June 5 and shared Professor Tenekejian's fate on the road. "Professor Vorperian, a Princeton man, was taken to see a man beaten almost to death and became deranged. He started into exile under guard with his family, about July 5, and was murdered beyond Malatia. "Professor Boojicanian, an Edinburgh graduate, was arrested with Professor Tenekejian, suffered the
same tortures, and in addition had three finger nails pulled out by the roots, and was killed in the same massacre.
"Of the male instructors four were killed on the road in various massacres, and three who have not been heard from probably suffered the same fate.
Two are sick in the American Hospital; one is in hiding, and two are free.
"Of the female instructors one is reported killed in Chunkoosh, one reported taken to a Turkish harem; three have not been heard from; four others started out into exile, and ten are free.”Of the Armenian people as a whole we may put
an estimate that three-fourths are gone, and that this three-fourths include the leaders in every walk of life." Charles R. Crane, Treasurer of the Committee,
has just received the following communication from the State Department:
“In reply to the telegram sent to the American Ambassador at Constantinople at your request on Sept. 22, inquiring whether he could advantageously use $50,000 or
$100,000 at the present time for the relief of Armenians in Turkey, the Department has received a telegram from Mr. Morgenthau, dated Sept. 24, in which he states that he could most advantageously use $100.000 for the purpose mentioned; and that while such a sum, carefully administered, would make a good start, it would not suffice. The Ambassador states that the money received would be distributed through missionaries at Konitsa, Adana, Tarsus, and Ourfa, and through the American Consul at Aleppo; and that the condition at present is simply
appalling.” Mr. Morgenthau closes his telegram as follows:
"I implore my friends to do their utmost to assist liberally." Public meetings will be held in New York and elsewhere, following the example of the meeting announced in London, which is to be addressed by Lord Bryce, Contributions may be sent to Charles R. Crane, Treasurer, and 70 Fifth Avenue. From The Armenian Genocide, News Accounts from the American Press: 1915-1922,
By Richard Diran Kloian 2005
NOVEMBER 1, 1915 (4:2)
AID FOR ARMENIANS BLOCKED BY TURKEY
Attempts to Send Food to Refugees
Frustrated, Says the American Committee. PUTS VICTIMS AT 1,000,000
Careful Survey Shows 55,000 Persons Killed in the Vilayet of Van Alone.
The American Committee on Armenian Atrocities, among the members of which are Cardinal Gibbons, Cleveland H. Dodge, Bishop David H. Greer, Oscar S.
Straus, Professor Samuel T. Dutton, Charles R. Crane, and many other prominent citizens, issued a statement yesterday in which it was said that authentic reports
from Turkey proved that the war of extermination being waged against the Armenians was so terrible that when all the facts were known the world would realize that what had been done was “the greatest, most pathetic, and most arbitrary tragedy in history.” Attempts to furnish food to the Armenians ordered
deported to distant parts of the empire were blocked by the Turkish authorities, the committee said, the Turkish officials stating that “they wished nothing to be done
that would prolong their lives.” In the statement the committee makes public a report received a few days ago from an official representative of the neutral powers, who, reporting on conditions in one of the Armenian camps, says:
“I have visited their encampment and a more pitiable sight cannot be imagined. They are, almost without exception, ragged, hungry and sick. This is not
surprising in view of the fact that they have been on the road for nearly two months, with no change of clothing, no chance to bathe, no shelter, and little to eat. I watched them one time when their food was brought. Wild animals could not be worse. They
rushed upon the guards who carried the food and the guards beat them back with clubs, hitting hard enough to kill sometimes. To watch them one could hardly believe these people to be human beings. As one walks through the camp, mothers offer their children and beg you to take them. In fact, the Turks have been taking their choice of these children and girls for slaves or worse. There are very few men
among them as most of the men were killed on the road. Women and children were also killed. The entire movement seems to be the most thoroughly organized and effective massacre this country has ever seen.” “They all agree,” adds the committee, referring to the reports,” as to the method of procedure, the thoroughness and cruelty of the destructive work, and the confessed purpose of the plan to wipe out the Armenian nation. The fact that the central government at Constantinople refuses to permit Armenians to leave their country is further evidence of their purpose of extermination. “The Turks do not deny the atrocities, but claim they are a military measure to protect them against a possible attack of a race that is disloyal. “It is impossible to estimate how many have already perished. A careful survey in the Van Vilayet gathered the names of 55,000 persons who had been killed. Others were able to escape by flight to Persia and Russia. An eyewitness who has recently made an extended journey across Asia Minor saw over 50,000
poor, dazed, helpless, starving refugees camped by the roadside in a region almost desert, with no provision for their food supply. Probably it is not an overestimate to say that 1,000,000 of the possible 2.000,000 Armenians in Turkey at the beginning of
the war are either dead or in Moslem harems, or forced to profess Mohammedanism, or are on their sad journey to the desert and death.” The committee says it has cabled $106,000 to Ambassador Morgenthau at Constantinople, of which $100,000 was for relief of Armenians in Turkey, and
the remainder for Armenians who had escaped into Egypt. The office of the committee, of which Mr. Crane is Treasurer, is at 70 Fifth Avenue, New York. From The Armenian Genocide, News Accounts from the American Press: 1915-1922,
By Richard Diran Kloian 2005
THOUSANDS PROTEST ARMENIAN MURDERS
Only One Man and One woman Dissent from Resolutions Denouncing Outrages.
TURKS HAVE KILLED 500,000
Evidence taken from State Department Shows A Quarter of a Million Women Violated. MONDAY, OCTOBER 18, 1915 (3:2)
A great audience that packed the Century Theater, Central Park West and Sixty-Second Street, yesterday afternoon, had just acclaimed its approval of a resolution
deploring the atrocities committed against the Armenians by the Turks, when a man, who said his name was Brown, arose and demanded a chance to discuss the resolutions. A woman, who said she was Mrs. Brooks, shouted encouragement to the disturber and demanded that he be heard. He was forcibly ejected from the theater, but in a few minutes was back, angrily demanding to have his say. The meeting, held to condemn atrocities in Armenia, was under the auspices of a committee of prominent Americans and well-known Armenians. Hamilton Holt, editor of The
Independent, presided, and the speakers were the Rev. Dr. James L. Barton of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions., Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, the Rev. Father John J. Wynne, S.J., editor of the Catholic Encyclopedia, W. Bourke Cockran, the Rev. Dr. Ernest Yarrow of Van, Turkey, and Rev. William J. Haven. The resolutions adopted read as follows:
Whereas, the civilized world has been shocked by a series of massacres and deportations of Armenians in the Turkish Empire; and Whereas, These crimes and outrages committed upon an industrious, thrifty, and peace-loving people, find no
justification, viewed either in the light of law or humanity; and Whereas, Those Armenians who survive are in great need of succor and relief, be it hereby
Resolved, That as American citizens, we make our most solemn protest against these cruel and inhuman practices and implore all officials and others having influence in the Turkish Empire, to put an end to these wrongs and to render every aid to the American Ambassador and others who would rescue and repatriate a people, who, by their history and achievements have been a credit to the empire, Resolved, Further, That war, whereof and by whatsoever nation waged, affords no warrant for inhumanity toward innocent persons. The slaughter of noncombatant men, the tortures, mutilations, and outrages committed upon women and children wherever committed have given to the fairest places upon the earth the semblance of hell. In the name of the God of Nations and our common humanity, we call upon the nations at war to cease these crimes against civilization and morality. Father Wynn seconded the resolutions and Mr. Holt had put them up for approval when Brown arose, red with excitement. Several men hurried to the disturber and started him
down the aisle. Mrs. Brooks then demanded that the man be heard and followed those who were ejecting him. The audience was on its feet, as were those on the
stage, among the latter, Mgr. Lavelle, who represented Cardinal Farley; Charles R. Crane, of Chicago, the Rev. Dr. H. P. Mendes, Professor William W. Rockwell,
Professor Samuel P. Dutton, and a score of other prominent men. Angrily denouncing his ejectors and struggling every inch of the way the man was forced from the theatre.
“This meeting,” said Mr. Holt in his opening address, “is called for the purpose of deploring the greatest hecatomb known to history. The massacres now being
perpetrated in Turkey are the most atrocious in the history of the world, and if they are to stop we must prevail upon Christian Germany, who alone can save
the Armenians. The appeal may not be listened to in Constantinople, but it can be heard in Berlin.” Dr. Barton was the first speaker. “We are here,” he said, “to consider facts that bear upon the Armenian situation in the Turkish Empire, facts from which we cannot escape.” Referring to the report made by the Armenian Atrocities Committee, Dr. Barton said the disclosures were for the most part taken from official documents in the State Department at Washington. “The committee,” he said, “took steps to get only facts, and went to Washington and examined the official reports to the State Department. They ask why we did not publish the names of the persons who made the reports. The reason is obvious. One of the laws of Turkey is retaliation. One of our Consuls asked that his name be withheld because he would have to quit his post if his name became known,” Dr. Barton held up a great mass of papers, all copies of official reports to the State Department. Excerpts were read telling of terrible tortures, in the thousands of instances causing death. Dr. Barton read a statement by a well-known Armenian, a graduate of an American university, just arrived in this country. He told of the fate of 1,215 men. These men were herded together and then in groups of twenty-five were sent away “by order of the Government and all of them brutally slain.” The executioners, he said, were Turkish gendarmes and murderers and other criminals freed from jails to assist in the killing of Armenians. “The reward of these murderers,” said the statement,
“was the money and valuables found on the bodies of their victims. One of these men boasted that he had killed off fifty in one night and that he got 150 pounds in Turkish money for his night’s work.” Bourke Cockran said he had been informed that between 500,000 and 800,000 Armenians had been massacred and that 250,000 women and girls had been outraged. The problem of Armenia, Mr. Cockran said, is
the problem of the Cuba of 1898 aggravated a million times. Rabbi Wise was the last speaker. He was present, he said, not as an opponent of Turkey, nor as a champion
of Armenia, but to protest against inhumanity, whether committed by Germans against Belgians, by Russians against Jews, or by Turks against Armenians. He said that Germany and Austria could do much toward ending the Armenian atrocities,
and if they did not do so, he said those nations may find that “certain victories are more disastrous than any defeats.” “If the Germans would alienate the good will of those who still remain neutral,” he said, “let them say to the Turks: ‘Not one more
drop of blood must be shed.’ ” In all the seats were petitions, with blanks for signatures, addressed to the Kaiser and the people of Germany, imploring them to
use their good offices to end the atrocities in Armenia. From The Armenian Genocide, News Accounts from the American Press: 1915-1922,
Armenian National Committee of America is the Website
November 2, 2010 last updated
The Genocide of the Armenians by the Turkish government during World War I represents a major tragedy of the modern age. In this the first Genocide of the 20th century, almost an entire nation was destroyed. The Armenian people were effectively eliminated from the homeland they had occupied for nearly three thousand years. This annihilation was premeditated and planned to be carried out under the cover of war.
During the night of April 23-24, 1915, Armenian political, religious, educational, and intellectual leaders in Istanbul were arrested, deported to the interior, and mercilessly put to death. Next, the Turkish government ordered the deportation of the Armenian people to "relocation centers" - actually to the barren deserts of Syria and Mesopotamia. The Armenians were driven out brutally from the length and breadth of the empire. Secrecy, surprise, deception, torture, dehumanization, rape and pillage were all a part of the process. The whole of Asia Minor was put in motion.
The greatest torment was reserved for the women and children, who were driven for months over mountains and deserts, often dehumanized by being stripped naked and repeatedly preyed upon and abused. Intentionally deprived of food and water, they fell by the hundreds of thousands along the routes to the desert.
There were some survivors scattered throughout the Middle East and Transcaucasia. Thousands of them, refugees here and there, were to die of starvation, epidemics, and exposure. Even the memory of the nation was intended for obliteration. The former existence of Armenians in Turkey was denied. Maps and history were rewritten. Churches, schools, and cultural monuments were desecrated and misnamed. Small children, snatched from their parents, were renamed and farmed out to be raised as Turks. The Turks "annexed" ancestors of the area in ancient times to claim falsely, by such deception, that they inhabited this region from ancient days. A small remnant of the Armenian homeland remained devastated by war and populated largely by starving refugees, only to be subsequently overrun by the Bolshevik Red Army and incorporated into the Soviet Union for seven decades, until its breakup in 1990. The word " genocide" had not yet been coined. Nonetheless, at the time, many governmental spokesmen and statesmen decried the mass murder of the Armenians as crimes against humanity, and murder of a nation.
Reports of the atrocities gradually came out and were eventually disseminated the world over by newspapers, journals, and eyewitness accounts. In the United States a number of prominent leaders and organizations established fundraising drives for the remnants of the "Starving Armenians". In Europe the Allied Powers gave public notice that they would hold personally responsible all members of the Turkish government and others who had planned or participated in the massacres. Yet, within a few years, these same governments and statesmen turned away from the Armenians in total disregard of their pledges. Soon the Armenian genocide had become the "Forgotten Genocide".
In effect, the Turkish government had succeeded in its diabolical plan to exterminate the Armenian population from what is now Turkey. The failure of the international community to remember, or to honor their promises to punish the perpetrators, or to cause Turkey to indemnify the survivors helped convince Adolph Hitler some 20 years later to carry out a similar policy of extermination against the Jews and certain other non-Aryan populations of Europe.
by Marci Ranzer http://www.encyclomedia.com/armenian_genocide.html
Encyclomedia (website) accessed (10 Nov. 2010) Last updated (2007)
The Armenian Genocide
On the evening of April 24, 1915 in the city of Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, hundreds of Armenian community leaders were rounded up and later executed by the Turkish government. The ruthless killing of these men was an early indication of the extensive massacre of the Armenian people. This was the first genocide or organized mass murder of an ethnic group in the 20th century.
Causes of the Armenian Genocide
The causes of the Armenian genocide can be traced in part to ethnic and religious tensions that had arisen from the collapse of the once prevailing Ottoman Empire, which had been growing weak for hundreds of years. In the late 19th century, the empire was ruled by Sultan Abdul Hamid II also known as the Red Sultan because of his bloody ways. Concerned that the Armenian people’s desire for more civil rights might grow into an independence movement, the Sultan encouraged a series of massacres that killed between 200 and 500,000 Armenians between 1894 and 1896. Dissatisfaction mounted with the Sultan’s autocratic and corrupt leadership and in 1908, the Sultan was overthrown during the Young Turk Revolution.
The Young Turk leaders at the outset promised equal rights for all minorities in the empire. However, in 1913, an ultranationalist group within the movement seized power. This faction was comprised of men who believed in creating a pure Turkish state that excluded non-Muslim, non-Turkish minorities like the Armenians.
Three of these men led the regime and would later be responsible for initiating the mass murder. They were Edward Poshen, Minister of War; Talat Pasha, Minister of Interior Affairs; and Jamal Pasha, Minister of the Navy. These leaders forged closer ties with Germany which supplied the Turks with military support and training. In 1914, the Ottoman Empire aligned itself with Germany and the central powers in World War I and another rationalization for murdering the Armenian population presented itself.
The Muslim Turks who were fighting the Christian Russians in the war feared that their own Christian Armenian subjects would rise up and fight on the side of the enemy. Therefore, the Young Turk leadership envisioned and began a barbaric plan to eliminate the Armenian population.
Early in 1915, the Turkish government began disarming all Armenians serving in the military, turning many of them into road laborers and pack animals. These men were then worked to death or shot. Sometimes, they were made to dig their own graves before being murdered.
On April 24, 1915, the Turkish government began the next stage of the genocide by eliminating the Armenian cultural and political elite in Istanbul. This included the men who would have been most likely to have organized a battle against the genocide. In the months that followed, the Turkish government ordered the deportation of all Armenians from the empire. Under the cover of the so called deportations, thousands of mostly women, children and elderly Armenians were forced to leave their homes and travel hundreds of miles on foot.
Though many of these Armenian refugees died from disease and lack of food and water, others were viciously killed by butcher battalions. These bands were part of a secret government formed group called the special organization. They were made up of criminals and murderers and were employed to massacre the worn out and defenseless refugees. The special organizations methods were savage and barbaric. They raped, stole and often used swords to hack their victims to death. Younger Armenian women were sometimes kidnapped and sold into bondage in Muslim and Turkish homes. Their churches were destroyed. Countless other Armenians were hanged, shot, even burned to death during the Turk’s murderous rampage. Armenian babies were thrown against walls and older children were poisoned to death. The relatively small number of Armenians who survived the death marches and reached northern Syria were rounded up in neglected camps and then dispatched into the desert to die.
The Armenian Genocide Denial
Tragically, the short pause in the slaughter of Armenians ended when a new nationalist Turkish movement led by Kemal Aveturk started a series of military campaigns between 1920 and 1923 that resulted in the decimation of the remaining Armenians in the region. The new Turkish republic founded in 1923 began an official policy of denying the genocide ever took place, a denial which the current Turkish government continues to this day. In the years following the mass killing of the Armenians, the world seemed to forget about the genocide. This Armenian genocide denial would soon encourage another dictator, Adolf Hitler. In justifying his own murderous holocaust, Hitler once said, Who still speaks of the extermination of the Armenians?
The American Ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morganthau was horrified by the disguising and sickening atrocities going on around him. Morganthau helped publicize the genocide in America which led to the formation of the Near East Relief Committee. Near East Relief raised funds and set up medical and educational facilities for the survivors of the holocaust, eventually saving tens of thousands of Armenian lives.
After World War I ended in defeat for Turkey, a new government took power and carried out trials which sentenced the former Turkish leaders to death for their murders. However, they had long since fled the country. The principal architect behind the Armenian slaughter, Talat Pasha was eventually assassinated in Berlin in 1921 by Armenian activists.
Tens of thousands of Armenians escaped the genocide and settled in countries all over the world where their descendants still live today. Many others fled to Russian Armenia, an area which would become a part of the Soviet Union. Since voting to declare their independence from the former Soviet Union on September 21, 1991 Armenians have once again had their own country. Today, Armenians annually commemorate April 24th as a day to remember the victims of the century’s first genocide.
Armenian Genocide Timeline
• Between the years 1894 and 1896, Sultan Abdul Hamid II encouraged the series of massacres that killed between 200 and 500,000 Armenians.
• In 1908, the Sultan was overthrown during the Young Turk Revolution.
• In 1914, the Ottoman Empire aligned itself with Germany and the central powers.
• On April 24, 1915, hundreds of Armenian community leaders were rounded up and later executed by the Turkish government.
• Also in 1915, the Turkish government began disarming all Armenians who served in the military.
• Between the years 1915 and 1918 an estimated 1 million Armenians were killed as part of the barbaric campaign of extermination directed by Turkish authorities.
• Between 1920 and 1923 a military operation resulted in the annihilation of the remaining Armenians in the state.
• In 1921, Talat Pasha was assassinated.
• In 1923, the new Turkish republic was founded and they began an authorized procedure of denying the genocide.
• On September 21, 1991 the Armenians voted to declare their independence from the former Soviet Union and were successful.