Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?

Adolf Hitler, August 1939, while justifying to his generals the invasion of Poland and the planning of the Jewish Holocaust


On the night of April 24, 1915, the Ottoman Turkish government arrested and killed hundreds of Armenian political and religious leaders in Constantinople. Under the cover of World War I, the Young Turk (known as Ittihad ve Teraki) began its “final solution” to the Armenian Question–the total eradication of the Armenian people.


The Ittihadist plan was well devised and systematic. First, all Armenian men in the Ottoman army were disarmed and placed into labor battalions where they were either worked to death or outright massacred. Second, leaders of Armenian communities from all over the Empire were arrested and, as with the intellectuals in Constantinople, killed. Then began the outright deportations. The Ottoman military rounded up the Armenians from every city, town, and village in the Empire and drove them from their homes. If any able-bodied men remained, they were murdered not far from the villages they had grown up in.




The rest of the population–women, children, and the elderly–formed long caravans guarded by Turkish soldiers. Without food or water, the soldiers forced the caravans onto death marches southward, toward the scorching Syrian and Mesopotamian deserts of Der-Zor and Meskeneh. En route, those in the caravans were at the mercy of the gendarmes or soldiers and marauding bands of criminals who had been released from jails and mental asylums in order to prey upon the deportees, as well as local Turks and Kurds, who were all incited by to rob, rape, kidnap, and kill the deportees.


Of the two million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire, scarcely half a million survived. Practically overnight, the Turkish government brought an end to the Armenian people’s three thousand year existence in their homeland on the Armenian plateau.


U.S. State Department and European archives clearly document the premeditated and systematic nature of the Armenian Genocide. Immediately after the War, the provisional Turkish government even held military tribunals to convict its organizers. U.S. and European newspaper headlines told of Armenian harrowing massacres and the “extermination” of the Armenian nation. The term “starving Armenians” became commonplace in America.


But unlike the concerted efforts by the allies to destroy the Nazis and bring reparations to the Jewish people later in the century after the Holocaust, nothing was done for the Armenians. Many spoke of helping the survivors and creating an Armenian homeland. President Wilson even drew a map of an Independent Armenia, but ultimately the allies did nothing to bring to justice the perpetrators of this terrible crime.

Every Turkish government since 1922 has denied that the Armenian Genocide ever took place. As Western powers curried favor with the new secular Republic of Turkey which they considered a buffer to the Soviet Union, the Armenian Genocide was swept under the rug—it became a forgotten issue. Turkey continues to claim that the Armenian Genocide never happened and most Western powers remain silent. From this perspective, it is not surprising that Hitler mentioned the Armenian Genocide when planning his death camps. He had seen how the world reacted and did not fear reprisal. He knew that those who forget history are bound to repeat it and that those who are not brought to justice will feel little remorse for their crimes.