They briefly seized the city of Van in the spring of Armenians mark the date April 24, , when several hundred Armenian intellectuals were rounded up, arrested and later executed as the start of the Armenian genocide and it is generally said to have extended to However, there were also massacres of Armenians in , , , , and a reprise between and A later law allowed the confiscation of abandoned Armenian property. Armenians were ordered to turn in any weapons that they owned to the authorities. Those in the army were disarmed and transferred into labor battalions where they were either killed or worked to death.
There were executions into mass graves, and death marches of men, women and children across the Syrian desert to concentration camps with many dying along the way of exhaustion, exposure and starvation. Much of this was quite well documented at the time by Western diplomats, missionaries and others, creating widespread wartime outrage against the Turks in the West. Although its ally, Germany, was silent at the time, in later years documents have surfaced from ranking German diplomats and military officers expressing horror at what was going on.
The Armenian Genocide (1915-16): Overview
Some historians, however, while acknowledging the widespread deaths, say what happened does not technically fit the definition of genocide largely because they do not feel there is evidence that it was well-planned in advance. The American ambassador, Henry Morganthau Sr.
Following the surrender of the Ottoman Empire in , the Three Pashas fled to Germany, where they were given protection. But the Armenian underground formed a group called Operation Nemesis to hunt them down.
On March 15, , one of the pashas was shot dead on a street in Berlin in broad daylight in front of witnesses. The gunman pled temporary insanity brought on by the mass killings and a jury took only a little over an hour to acquit him. It was the defense evidence at this trial that drew the interest of Mr.
World U. Skip to next paragraph. Ottoman military members and high-ranking politicians convicted by the Turkish courts-martial were transferred from Constantinople prisons to the Crown Colony of Malta on board the SS Princess Ena and HMS Benbow by the British forces, starting in Admiral Sir Somerset Gough-Calthorpe was in charge of the operation, together with Lord Curzon; they did so owing to the lack of transparency of the Turkish courts-martial. They were held there for three years, while searches were made of archives in Constantinople, London, Paris and Washington to find a way to put them in trial.
The government in Ankara was opposed to political power of the government in Constantinople. They are often mentioned as the Malta exiles in some sources. According to European Court of Human Rights judge Giovanni Bonello , the suspension of prosecution attempts and the release and repatriation of the detainees was, among other things, a result of the lack of an appropriate legal framework with supranational jurisdiction.
Following World War I no international norms for regulating war crimes existed, due to a legal vacuum in international law; therefore contrary to Turkish sources no trials were ever held in Malta. On 15 March , former Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha was assassinated in the Charlottenburg District of Berlin, Germany, in broad daylight and in the presence of many witnesses. Talaat's death was part of " Operation Nemesis ", the Armenian Revolutionary Federation 's codename for their covert operation in the s to kill the planners of the Armenian Genocide.
The subsequent trial and acquittal of the assassin, Soghomon Tehlirian , had an important influence on Raphael Lemkin , a lawyer of Polish — Jewish descent who campaigned in the League of Nations to ban what he called "barbarity" and "vandalism". The term " genocide ", created in , was coined by Lemkin who was directly influenced by the massacres of Armenians during World War I.
Morgenthau's dispatches on the mass slaughter of Armenians galvanized much support for the organization. Estimates vary between ,  and 1,, per the governments of France,  Canada,  and other states. According to documents that once belonged to Talaat Pasha, more than , Ottoman Armenians disappeared from official population records from through According to the documents, the number of Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire before stood at 1,, It was presumed, however, in a footnote by Talaat Pasha himself, that the Armenian population was undercounted by thirty percent.
Armenian Genocide History and Timeline
Furthermore, the population of Protestant Armenians was not taken into account. Therefore, according to the historian Ara Sarafian , the population of Armenians should have been approximately 1,, prior to the start of the war. While Ottoman censuses claimed an Armenian population of 1. During the Turkish—Armenian War  : 60, to 98, Armenian civilians were estimated to have been killed by the Turkish army.
R. Suny: A History of the Armenian Genocide
Hundreds of eyewitnesses, including diplomats from the neutral United States and the Ottoman Empire's own allies, Germany and Austria-Hungary , recorded and documented numerous acts of state-sponsored massacres. Many foreign officials offered to intervene on behalf of the Armenians, including Pope Benedict XV , only to be turned away by Ottoman government officials who claimed they were retaliating against a pro-Russian insurrection. It was officially a neutral party and never declared war on the Ottoman Empire.
In addition to the consulates, there were numerous American Protestant missionary compounds established in Armenian-populated regions, including Van and Kharput. The atrocities were reported regularly in newspapers and literary journals around the world. On his return home in after thirty years as a U. It also quoted U. Geddes regarding his time in Damascus: "several Turks[,] whom I interviewed, told me that the motive of this exile was to exterminate the race. Secretary of State to June In the U. As the orders for deportations and massacres were enacted, many consular officials reported what they were witnessing to Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr.
In memoirs that he completed during , Morgenthau wrote,. When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact The memoirs and reports vividly described the methods used by Ottoman forces and documented numerous instances of atrocities committed against the Christian minority.
On the Middle Eastern front, the British military was engaged fighting the Ottoman forces in southern Syria and Mesopotamia. British diplomat Gertrude Bell filed the following report after hearing the account from a captured Ottoman soldier:.
The battalion left Aleppo on 3 February and reached Ras al-Ain in twelve hours These Kurds were called gendarmes, but in reality mere butchers; bands of them were publicly ordered to take parties of Armenians, of both sexes, to various destinations, but had secret instructions to destroy the males, children and old women One of these gendarmes confessed to killing Armenian men himself Winston Churchill described the massacres as an "administrative holocaust" and noted that "the clearance of the race from Asia Minor was about as complete as such an act, on a scale so great, could well be.
There is no reasonable doubt that this crime was planned and executed for political reasons. The opportunity presented itself for clearing Turkish soil of a Christian race opposed to all Turkish ambitions, cherishing national ambitions that could only be satisfied at the expense of Turkey, and planted geographically between Turkish and Caucasian Moslems". Historian Arnold J.
Toynbee published the collection of documents The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in Together with British politician and historian Viscount James Bryce , he compiled statements from survivors and eyewitnesses from other countries including Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland, who similarly attested to the systematic massacre of innocent Armenians by Ottoman government forces. Bryce had submitted the work to scholars for verification before its publication. Their genuineness is established beyond question". As allies during the war, the Imperial German mission in the Ottoman Empire included both military and civilian components.
Germany had brokered a deal with the Sublime Porte to commission the building of a railroad called the Baghdad Railway that would stretch from Berlin to the Middle East. At the beginning of , Germany's diplomatic mission was led by Ambassador Hans Freiherr von Wangenheim who, upon his death in , was succeeded by Count Paul Wolff Metternich.
Like Morgenthau, von Wangenheim began receiving many disturbing messages from consular officials around the Ottoman Empire that detailed the massacres of Armenians. From the province of Adana , Consul Eugene Buge reported that the CUP chief had sworn to massacre any Armenians who had survived the deportation marches. One month later, he came to the conclusion that there "no longer was doubt that the Porte was trying to exterminate the Armenian race in the Turkish Empire". When Wolff-Metternich succeeded von Wangenheim, he continued to dispatch similar cables: "The Committee [CUP] demands the extirpation of the last remnants of the Armenians and the government must yield A Committee representative is assigned to each of the provincial administrations Turkification means license to expel, to kill or destroy everything that is not Turkish".
Another notable figure in the German military camp was Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter , who documented various massacres of Armenians. He sent fifteen reports regarding "deportations and mass killings" to the German chancellery. His final report noted that fewer than , Armenians were left alive in the Ottoman Empire: the rest having been exterminated German : ausgerottet. This was to give justification for the deportation of Armenians, which is still argued by genocide deniers to this day.
I have conducted a series of conversations with competent and influential Turkish personages, and these are my impressions: A large segment of the Ittihadist [Young Turk] party maintains the viewpoint that the Turkish empire should be based only on the principle of Islam and Pan-Turkism. Its non-Muslim and non-Turkish inhabitants should either be forcibly islamized, or otherwise they ought to be destroyed.
These gentlemen believe that the time is propitious for the realization of this plan. The first item on this agenda concerns the liquidation of the Armenians. Ittihad will dangle before the Allies a specter of an alleged revolution prepared by the Armenian Dashnak party. Moreover, local incidents of social unrest and acts of Armenian self-defense will deliberately be provoked and inflated and will be used as pretexts to effect the deportations.
Once en route, however, the convoys will be attacked and exterminated by Kurdish and Turkish brigands, and in part by gendarmes, who will be instigated for that purpose by Ittihad. According to Bat Ye'or , an Israeli historian, the Germans also witnessed Armenians being burned to death. I have lived in Turkey the larger part of my life I also know that both Armenians and Turks cannot live together in this country. One of these races has got to go. And I don't blame the Turks for what they are doing to the Armenians.
I think that they are entirely justified. The weaker nation must succumb. The Armenians desire to dismember Turkey; they are against the Turks and the Germans in this war, and they therefore have no right to exist here. In a genocide conference held in , professor Wolfgang Wipperman of the Free University of Berlin introduced documents evidencing that the German High Command was aware of the mass killings at the time, but chose not to interfere or speak out. The upper levels of society had become unwarlike, the main reason being the increasing mixing with foreign elements of a long standing unculture".
In my view any consideration, Christian, sentimental, and political should be eclipsed by a hard, but clear necessity for war". One photograph shows two unidentified German army officers, in company of three Turkish soldiers and a Kurdish man, standing amidst human remains.
The discovery of this photograph prompted English journalist Robert Fisk to draw a direct line from the Armenian Genocide to the Holocaust. Fisk, while acknowledging the role playing by most German diplomats and parliamentaries in the condemnation of the Ottoman Turks, noted that some of the German witnesses to the Armenian holocaust would later go on to play a role in the Nazi regime. For example, Konstantin Freiherr von Neurath , who was attached to the Turkish 4th Army in with instructions to monitor "operations" against the Armenians, later became Adolf Hitler 's foreign minister and "Protector of Bohemia and Moravia" during Reinhard Heydrich 's terror in Czechoslovakia.
Related Armenian Genocide, The: A Complete History
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