The Armenian Genocide and its denial by Turkey

On April 24, 1915– Constantinople (Istanbul)

On the orders of the Turkish authorities, then allied with “Germany, Armenian elite of the Ottoman capital, suspected of complicity with the Russian enemy, was massacred : 600 deads.

The Armenian Genocide and its denial by Turkey

April 24, 2015, the centennial of the Armenian Genocide

April 24, 1915 – Constantinople (Istanbul). On the orders of the Turkish authorities, then allied with “Germany, Armenian elite of the Ottoman capital, suspected of complicity with the Russian enemy, was massacred : 600 deads.

The first genocide of the twentieth century, in the words of Pope Francis, had begun. It will, in the decades that followed, provoke nearly 1 million deaths.

April 24, 2015 –  We have commemorated (discretly) a sad centenary. True, in 1915, Europe had his eyes turned elsewhere : In the small Belgian town of Ypres, the Kaiser’s troops had tested a new combat gas : yperite or mustard gas. But still…

Why is the Armenian Genocide so confidential ? This major event of the twentieth century saw the disappeareance of  half the population of Armenie, under the indifferent eyes of our compatriots (at the tiem).

We offer here a factual summary of the history of the genocide and we invite you to bring your stone building by inserting any comment.

The genesis of genocidal idea

In the twilight of the Ottoman Empire

Armenians were long mere subjects of the Ottoman Empire ; this conqueror Muslim empire was borned in the fourteenth century on the ashes of the Byzantine Empire and the Seljuk state. It took Constantinople to Christianity (1453) and besieged Vienna (1529 and 1683). It extended at its peak :

  • from north to south, the Mediterranean, the shores of the Black Sea;
  • and east to the west of the Arabian Peninsula, near Morocco.

But in 1915, the Ottoman Empire was a shadow of itself: North Africa fell in the French purse (1830) and Egypt had been conquered by England. Greece (1829) and Cyprus was released and Nicolas I of Russia was threatening the shores of the Black Sea (Crimean War (1853-1856)).

The Treaty of San Stefano of March 3, 1878 marked the end of the Ottoman Empire: Romania, Montenegro and Serbia gained their independence and Russia annexed the Danube Delta. When war broke out in 1914, Kaiser Wilhelm II did his best to rally to his cause what remained of the Ottoman empire. Armenian Orthodox, still under Ottoman influence, were regarded with suspicion by the Vizier, as potentially allied with the Russian enemy. Their fate was hanging by a thread.

Yet we shall see, the massacre had already begun long ago; since the late nineteenth century, durinf the great vizier Abdul Hamid. The vizier  had in fact decided for reasons both religious and political, to purify his provincial non-Muslim minorities.

In the treaty establishing peace between Turkey and the Allies (Lausanne, 1923), history will search in vain the word Armenia … Winston Churchill

The Armenian genocide

Armenian roots

Armenians are an Indo-European people whose ancient roots get lost in the depths of Anatolian lands (Turkey); we think that these roots were somewhere on the territories occupied by the Hittites, the first inhabitants of the Anatolian place, the current Cappadocia in Turkey.

arménie.gif map
Map of Armenia

Armenians were found on the “Armenian Plateau” (located between Turkey, Georgia and Iran) to the sixth century BC. At the beginning of the fourth century, they converted to Christianity, that is to say, before France (or more accurately the Franc kingdom of Clovis), wrongly considered “the eldest daughter of the Church”.

If there eldest daughter, she is Armenian.

The Armenian genocide

Armenians before wold war one

Armenians before the war (14-18) were a community forming a kind of Christian harmless island in the middle of a Muslim ocean: the OTTOMAN empire. The latter, however, saw this tiny Christian land, as a threat. It was indeed a potential ally of the Orthodox Russia.

Armenians were quite peaceful; a humble peasant people. At regular intervals, it suffered devastating raids of various tribes, including Kurds who ravaged their territory by seizing his meager wealth.

From 1870,  the Ottoman Empire began to crack.

First it was a first defeat against the Russian neighbor (Ottoman-Russian War of 1877-1878), which forced the defeated Empire to accept the Treaty of San Stefano, which gave a mandate to the Russians on the Balkans. The Tsar Nicolas I then introduced himself as the guarantor of security of Armenians and will even propose their independence!

For what (s) obscure (s) reason (s), England and France they opposed it? The question remains open. England used its political weight to defeat the Russian project… and obtained (in gratitude?) Cyprus !

Armenia remained Turkish.

The Russians then hired a gradual withdrawal of their troops from Armenia.

The Armenian genocide

The Grand Vizier Abdul Hamid (1842-1918)

Rid of the Russians, the Ottoman Grand Vizier Abdul Hamid realized quickly that Armenia had become an easy prey. He was the author of the famous quote:

Armenian Question Omit removing Armenians.  Abdul Hamid II.

Only Jean Jaurès then mobilizes stating on the benches of the french National Assembly in 1896:

Not a cry came out of your mouth, not a word came out of your consciousness, and you attended, silent and therefore complicit in the complete extermination.  Jean Jaures .

The Armenian genocide

Industrial Massacre

Armenia was disarmed and had no real ally. But it claimed the application of the 1878 Berlin Treaty (sea bellow), which notably provided for their gradual emancipation from Ottoman rule. This treaty has been initiated by :

  • Bismarck (at the center below), then German Chancellor, in the name of Willem II, his  Kaiser,
  • and the Grand Vizier, whose representatives (including Mehmed Ali Pasha) are at right on the same Werner paint.
Afficher l'image d'origine
Berlin congress in 1878 by Werner

Only the uncertainty about a possible Western reaction still holding back the genocidal fervor of the Grand Vizier. It was necessary to “test” England and France, find an excuse to send soldiers.

The Vizier found the pretextwhen nomadic tribes, probably Kurds, launched a new raid on Armenia. The Grand Vizier sent his first contingents.

As expected, the European reactions were mostly diplomatic (Hitler successfully resume the idea to invade the Sudetenland !)0 Leaving a free hand to the Grand Vizier to give the first impulse to genocide.

The Grand Vizier was not limited to Armenia ; he called his militia to continue the work genocide in the heart of Constantinople where lived a strong Armenian community. Only the inquisitive eyes of some European observers at Constantinople put a brake somewhat  to  the Grand Vizier in his monstrous ambitions.

How many had he murdered ? 500,000 ! Maybe more…

The Armenian genocide

Young Turks (1908-1918)

The genocidal idea continued to prosper in the head of the Turkish elite. Was it to protect the territory of Armenia, essential in strategic terms, for religious issues, by pure racism? all of these reasons. Armenia, dropped by its allies, was shaking.

Resistance movements began to emerge, some political, others enrolling in the armed struggle.

In 1908, a revolution overthrew the Grand Vizier . The movement of the Young Turks took power in Istanbul. It was,originally, a kind of sect persecuted who fled into hiding. His claims were rather vague and often contradictory, ranging from:

  • the adoption of a constitution;
  • the respect Islamic tradition;
  • the respect of secularism and pan-Turkism (quasi-racist desire to protect Turkish blood and extend its influence).

Young Turks led the Ottoman Empire alongside the Central Powers (Germany and Austria) in the first world war. The Armenians, on their side, always Ottoman subjects, refused to fight their Russian brothers.

The Armenian genocide

The Great War (1914-1918)


Rid of the embarrassing oversight occupied Allies in the European theater, the young Turks decided to resume work on their own the genocide started in Armenia by the Grand Vizier.

And everyone took part in the festival, Kurds being especially preferred.

April 24, 1915 (Red Sun)

This April 24, 1915 is now regarded as the beginning of the genocide. But we saw that it had already begun long ago. The Armenian elite of Constantinople was rounded up by the Turkish police and taken to detention centers where she was eliminated. The young Turks paved the way for Hitler by implementing the broad principles of the genocide on an industrial scale: raids, deportations, convoys and extermination camps. German military advisers were also present on Turkish soil during the whole period. Two thirds of the Armenian population were massacred. Armenia and Russia was then the only escape for unarmed populations.

1917 – Russian revolutions and the Arab revolts

In the north, under the leadership of Lenin , Russia withdrew from the war (Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1917). The Turks took the opportunity to again expel the Armenian, especially in their last refuge: Armenia-Russia.

Fortunately, in the southern provinces, the first Arab revolts mobilized almost all Ottoman attention the Ottoman Empire was seen by the Allies, and especially by the British, as the weak link of the Axis. The latter then decided to shake the Arab tribes of the Arabian Peninsula enslaved since the sixteenth century by the Ottomans. Arab victories chained thanks to the heroism of Lawrence of Arabia who freed Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Iraq from the Ottoman yoke. The Ottoman Empire was reduced to Turkey’s borders and shelved its genocidal project.

The Armenian genocide


1918-1920 .

The secret agreements of SYKES-PICOT (1916) and the Treaty of Sevres (1920), allowed the Allies to their advantage to redraw the map of the Middle East, by drawing lines between Iraq, Iran, Syria … 

The Kurds were thus scattered between Turkey, Iraq and Syria. The OTTOMAN empire, which had (mis) chosen sides, was found in one of the vanquished. The Treaty of Sevres organized his dismemberment. He finally gave birth to Armenia ! The 1915 genocide were treated to trial (a kind of Nuremberg before the time), but most fled Germany and thus escaped their sentence.

The Armenian genocide

The father of the Turks (Atatürk), Mustapha Kemal (1881-1938)

Lenin then surrendered service to Turks while Turkey was clearly in the camp of the defeated. The Red Scare slowly slid Turkey into one of the winners, allies against communism … An essential character then appeared on the European scene that changed the destiny of an entire people: Lovers of French culture, Mustafa Kemal, said Ataturk, came to power with modern ideas … He brought his country on the path of secularism, still unpublished and original initiative today in a Muslim country.

It is however less known by his dark side which was to continue the work of the Grand Vizier.

We can congratulate the French in passing that created, in 1919, in an enclave where Cicilie 150,000 Armenians found refuge.

October 1920 – reducing the enclave Cicilie

Mustapha Kemal never accepted the French initiative considered in his eyes as interference: the attack of the troops against the Kemalists cicilienne city of Marash, in January 1920, signaled the end of the last hopes of the survivors of the enclave. The last entrenchments (Hadjin) withstood seven months, but were reduced in October 1920 to 500 resisters who eventually left the city on fire by the Turks.

October 1921 – the last chapters

In October 1921, the French agreed to evacuate the city. Meanwhile, the Turkish Nationalist forces declared war on the fledgling Republic of Armenia. On secret instructions from Ankara, he was ordained the complete annihilation of the Armenians. The populations were deported. The city of Kars and its environs were annexed to Turkey.

The last chapters Anatolian Armenians were written in Izmir when Kemalists strengths repulsed the Greek armies and entered the city in September 1922. A fire broke out in the Armenian quarter, pushing the population towards the shore: the final solution was the exile. They left on site all their property.

Mustafa Kemal and completed the work begun by the Grand Vizier (1878) and the Young Turks in 1915.

The rise of Nazism

In 1933, Hitler was appointed chancellor by the old Marshal Hindenburg and began to destabilize European balances. In 1936, Kemal urged France to make the Mediterranean district of Alexandrettaun which included 23,000 Armenians. France had the head elsewhere: Guderian’s tanks were already massed behind the Maginot line. France agreed and Kemal sent troops in 1938 to clean up the enclave.

He died that year. But not without raising the final exodus, which continued until 1939. The Armenians went to Syria and Lebanon still under French mandate (Treaty of Sevre).

The Armenian genocide

Turkish denial

Despite the evidence, testimonies, minutes of genocide trials, Turkey denied and still denies his crimes. There is ample discussion of the Holocaust and rightly so. Few programs, books, political commitment, official condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, the first of the twentieth century, one that paved the way for future genocides. Holocaust it would overshadow the Armenians?

And then there is the personality of Kemal. It was as if, in his biography, we struck out any reference to his intervention in Armenia, as if one were to keep only the secular passion for the writings of Voltaire, the visionary, the one who brought them out of Turkey obscurantism …

It’s time to look history in the face.

The Armenian genocide

Recognition of German complicity

Germany finally recognizes its responsibility: Germany, by its president Joachim Gauck, acknowledged Thursday evening April 23 to the “genocide” of Armenians, noting a shared responsibility, and even, potentially, a complicity German in this crime.

“We also need, we Germans, to  do our work of memory”, has he said at a religious ceremony in Berlin on the eve of the official commemorations of the centennial of the massacres perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks, who made 1 5 million lives between 1915 and 1917.

Avoiding stigmatizing Turkey Gauck, a former pastor of the GDR insisted on German responsibility, in his speech at an ecumenical service in the Protestant Cathedral of Berlin.German soldiers “participated in the planning and in part to the implementation of the deportation” of Armenians, he noted. “Some observers information and German diplomats have made clear the will of extermination against the Armenians were ignored” because the German Reich allied with the Ottoman Empire, “did not want to jeopardize its relations” with him.

Article from The Express June 2, 2016

Berlin – German MPs are expected to adopt on Thursday a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide, a disputed vote vehemently by Turkey, a key partner but difficult especially on the crucial issue of the migration crisis in Europe.

Armenia has called it elected not to be ”  intimidated  ” before the vote from mid-day on the text entitled ”  Remembrance and commemoration of the genocide of Armenians and other Christian minorities there 101 years “. This project is likely to be adopted, the parliamentary groups of the majority – the conservative CDU / CSU and the SPD – and the Greens, opposition training, having proposed.

In this text the AFP was able to consult the Bundestag, the lower house of the German Parliament ”  deplores the acts committed by the Young Turk government of the time, which led to the almost total annihilation of the Armenians “.

The Bundestag also regrets ”  the deplorable role of the German Reich which, as the main military ally of the Ottoman Empire (…) did nothing to stop this crime against humanity “.

This vote may complicate already strained relations with Ankara in particular on the implementation of a controversial agreement between the EU and Turkey, supported by Berlin, which has significantly reduced the influx of migrants in Europe. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened not to implement the pact, failing to get its conditions for a Schengen visa exemption for its citizens.

On Tuesday, the head of the Turkish state telephoned German Chancellor Angela Merkel to hand him his ”  concern  ” and stressed that ”  the trap  ” could ”  deteriorate our relations with Germany “. Wednesday its Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim, has described as ” absurd  ” the initiative of deputies.

Next German government, Angela Merkel ”  will not participate in the vote  ” because of other obligations but argued the text during a test vote Tuesday in the Conservative caucus, according to a spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz.

The stir caused by the resolution, however, worried about even in the ranks of the German government. The Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has already expressed reservations and his spokesman said ”  hope  ” that it will not cause ”  lasting disruption of relations with Turkey “.

In an interview with German daily Bild on Wednesday, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan it encouraged German MPs not to let ”  intimidated  ” by Turkey.

”  It would not be fair not to appoint genocide the Armenian Genocide simply because it puts the head of state anger of another country “, said Mr. Sargsyan, referring to the Turkish President.

According to him, the agreement on migrant concluded with the European Union, will in any case ”  difficult to apply in the period with a partner like Turkey “.

The resolution of the Bundestag is a further step towards official recognition of the Armenian Genocide Germany after the German President, first used the term genocide to describe the massacres committed against Armenians in 1915. But the text does urges the government not to Merkel.

Armenians say 1.5 million of their own were killed systematically at the end of the Ottoman Empire. Many historians and more than twenty countries, including France, Italy and Russia, have recognized the genocide.

Turkey for its part says that it was a civil war, coupled with famine, in which 300-500000 Armenians and as many Turks died.


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