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Genocide and the Holocaust (October 2023): The Armenian Genocide

By Claudene Sproles

The Armenian Genocide

It could be argued that the Armenian Genocide was the first truly modern genocide, employing current technology such as the telegraph and rail transportation to facilitate mass slaughter. From 1915 to 1923, the Ottoman Empire, under the leadership of the Young Turks, undertook the systematic extermination of the Armenians living in West Armenia and Anatolia, both under Turkish rule at the time. Estimates indicate that about 1.5 million Armenians were killed during the purge.5 As a result, the surviving Armenians were forced to flee their homeland, creating a worldwide diaspora. According to Ronald Grigor Suny’s book “They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else,” when the purge was complete, 90 percent of Armenians were removed from the Ottoman Empire.6 For an accessible, general, ready reference work examining the atrocities, readers should peruse The Armenian Genocide: The Essential Reference Guide, edited by Alan Whitehorn. For a more academic, thorough overview of this genocide from its origins and execution to its perception, see Raymond Kévorkian’s The Armenian Genocide.

In the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide, Turkey has staunchly denied that a genocide occurred. The state insists that the forced removal of Armenians was a military action based on the threat Armenians posed during wartime. The government contends that the Young Turks did not kill the Armenians, just resettled them. Turkey today wields intense diplomatic and social pressure to deny the events, both in Turkey and abroad. Fatma Müge Göçek argues that denial in itself is cruel and unjust. She explores the Armenian genocide and Turkey’s century-long efforts to deny the event in her book Denial of Violence.

5. The Armenian Genocide: The Essential Reference Guide. Alan Whitehorn, ed. ABC-CLIO, 2015, p. xv (CH, Feb’16, 53-2475).

6. Ronald Grigor Suny, “They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else”: A History of the Armenian Genocide, Princeton, 2015, p. xxi. (CH, Sep’15, 53-0418).

Works Cited