Armenia adopted Christianity in 301 A.D. (before the formation of the Holy Roman Empire). For centuries the Armenian people built a healthy and prosperous country. However, in the 15th century, the Muslim Ottoman Empire absorbed Armenia and the Armenians. The non-Muslim Armenians were classified as “infidels” and had to pay higher taxes and saddled with fewer rights than Muslims.
The Ottoman Empire stayed dominant in the region through the 19th century and into the early part of the 20th century. But in the late 1890s, Armenians were growing tired of their status as second class citizens and continued their push for more rights. In 1894, that push was met with a violent response from the Sultan who turned loose his private army on the Armenians. In the ensuing battles between 1894-96, it was reported that as many as 200,000 Armenians were killed by Sultan Abdul Hamid’s troops in what has been called the Hamidian Massacre. However, the killing of the 200,000 Armenian Christians was nothing compared to the 1915 genocide.
What led to the near extermination of the Armenians? It appears a combination of a few factors were working together to create a rabid form of Turkish nationalism that saw the Armenians as the enemies of the state. After all, the non-Muslims were officially considered “infidels” in the eyes of the Turks.
In 1908, a group of young Turks forced the Sultan out and took control of the government. At first they talked of bringing new freedoms to the Armenian people. Unfortunately, those freedoms never were granted by the ruling “Young Turks.” Instead the Armenians were seen as a threat to the shrinking Ottoman Empire.
1912-13 had the Turks losing huge chunks of their land to Christian regions that were breaking away. Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia were all successful in their efforts to leave the Ottoman Empire. This was a devastating loss of power to the Turks and was the spark for even greater nationalism to foment. The growing Turkish nationalism was also fuel for more hatred against the Armenian community, especially after Germany and Russia began warring in 1914. Turkey sided with Germany in this conflict. The Turks hoped a defeat of the Russians would help in the prospect of rebuilding their empire. In December of 1914, the Ottoman Turks tried to invade Russia, but suffered a horrible defeat. More than 100,000 Russian troops stormed across the border into Turkey and reports say that more than 5,000 Armenians helped the Russians, some even enlisting in the Russian Army.
This was likely a move that enraged the Turkish leaders who saw the Armenians as a liability. The Armenian members of the military were immediately disarmed and moved into labor camps and subsequently executed. Not long after that, on April 24th, a group of 250 Armenian intellectual leaders of the community were rounded up and shipped off to a camp where they were killed. Turkey had killed off the Armenian soldiers and the cultural elites. All that remained was to order the rest of the population to comply with a relocation order that was essentially a death sentence. Most of the Armenians were forced to march for sixty days and many did not survive the trip. Armenians were also transported via rail with the Turks forcing their victims to purchase tickets for the ride to their own extermination.
The accounts of the atrocities committed against the Armenians is as brutal and disgusting as any you have heard about from Hitler’s attempts to exterminate the Jews from Germany and the world. Small children and old people were marched over mountains and in circles, without food and water, literally until they died. Young Christian girls were defiled by the Turkish soldiers. There are reports that many killed themselves after being raped. The barbaric treatment of the Armenian women went even further.
Crucified Armenian women in the area of the Der-es-Zor.
In her memoir, Ravished Armenia, Aurora Mardiganian described being raped and thrown into a harem (which agrees with Islam’s rules of war). Unlike thousands of other Armenian girls who were discarded after being defiled, she managed to escape. In the city of Malatia, she saw 16 Christian girls crucified: “Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross, spikes through her feet and hands, only their hair blown by the wind, covered their bodies.” Such scenes were portrayed in the 1919 documentary film Auction of Souls, some of which is based on Mardiganian’s memoirs.
Why Won’t America Call It Genocide?
Turkey and its leaders do not want to use the term genocide because it would likely cost them considerable sums of money in reparations, as well as the public embarrassment they would have to endure. But what about America?
No American president has officially called the mass killings that started in 1915 “genocide.” President Bush went as far as publicly urging Congress to reject a resolution on the subject.
In 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama promised that, as president, he would acknowledge it, saying; “Armenian genocide is a widely documented fact.”
Despite that very clear language, President Obama was not been so quick to follow up on his campaign promise. After he was elected, on Armenian Remembrance Day, the president issued a statement. The word that was conspicuously absent from the release — genocide. That term was also absent from every single April 24th Armenian Remembrance Day since 2009.
Instead of using the word “genocide” the White House statements all use the term “Meds Yeghern.” What does that mean? Meds Yeghern is an Armenian phrase that has the same meaning as genocide in their language. But Armenians want the world to recognize the atrocity they suffered at the hands of the Turks.
And while our presidents won’t say the word or put it in statements, the Turks are actually forbidden from using it. The word “genocide” is off limits — as in illegal. You can be locked up for saying the word or using it in a story. (The Blaze staff would likely be placed under arrest and receive death threats for this article alone.)
Armenians tortured and violated. Taken on the road from Trapesunt (Trabzon) to Ersnga by a German officer.
So, why won’t a U.S. President call the very well-documented forced removal of 1.5 million people from their homes — many who were forced to march more than 50 miles into the desert where almost certain death awaited them — genocide?
CBS’s “60 Minutes” filed a story that speculated our lack of ability to call this genocide and what it really is: That it might have something to do with America’s military relationship with Turkey and that the country is vital to delivering supplies to our troops on the ground in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The “60 Minutes” segment also includes a chilling video shot on the banks of the Euphrates River where it is believed 450,000 of the victims perished. In fact, the remains of the Armenians are so prevalent in the area that all you need to do is scratch the sand along the river banks and you will find pieces of human bones that have been there for 98 years.
The Armenian people are persistent. Ninety-eight years after the genocide began in their country, they still hold out hope that Turkey will recognize what was done to the Armenians. They also hope that America will make good on the promises made by so many presidents.
In the meantime, Armenians are contributing in communities all over the U.S. As a matter of fact, one of the largest Armenian communities in the country is in Watertown, Massachusetts — a town that found itself in the center of the media spotlight this week. Watertown is also the home of the Armenian Library and Musuem of America.
It is the same today throughout the Muslim world, wherever there is war: after the U.S. toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the nation’s Christian minority were first to be targeted for systematic persecution resulting in more than half of Iraq’s indigenous Christian population fleeing their homeland. Now that war has come to Syria—with the U.S. supporting the jihadis and terrorists—the Christians there are on the run for their lives.
Skull of Armenians burnt alive in the village of Ali-Srnan. Source: Armjanskij Central’nyj Komitet (Izd.): ,Al’bom’’ armjan’-bežencev’’. Tiflis (um 1918) Ref. Nr.: 91 From: http://www.aga-online.org
Mass grave containing the bodies of killed Armenians. From Deutsche Welle, dw-world.de 24.04.2005
There is no denying that religion—or in this context, the age-old specter of Muslim persecution of Christian minorities—was fundamental to the Armenian Genocide. Even the most cited factor, ethnic identity conflict, while legitimate, must be understood in light of the fact that, historically, religion—creed—accounted more for a person’s identity than language or heritage. This is daily demonstrated throughout the Islamic world today, where Muslim governments and Muslim mobs persecute Christian minorities—minorities who share the same ethnicity, language, and culture, who are indistinguishable from the majority, except, of course, for being non-Muslims.
Similarly, often forgotten is the fact that non-Armenians under Turkish hegemony, Assyrians and Greeks for example, were also targeted for cleansing. The only thing that distinguished Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks from Turks was that they were all Christian. As one Armenian studies professor asks, “If it [the Armenian Genocide]was a feud between Turks and Armenians, what explains the genocide carried out by Turkey against the Christian Assyrians at the same time?”
Today, as Turkey continues moving back to reclaiming its Islamic heritage, so too has Christian persecution returned. If Turks taunted their crucified Armenian victims by saying things like “Now let your Christ come and help you,” just last January, an 85-year-old Christian Armenian woman was repeatedly stabbed to death in her apartment, and a crucifix carved onto her naked corpse. Another elderly Armenian woman was punched in the head and, after collapsing to the floor, repeatedly kicked by a masked man. According to the report, “the attack marks the fifth in the past two months against elderly Armenian women,” one of whom lost an eye. Elsewhere, pastors of church congregations with as little as 20 people are targeted for killing and spat upon in the streets. A 12-year-old Christian boy was beaten by his teacher and harassed by students for wearing a cross around his neck, and three Christians were “satanically tortured” before having their throats slit for publishing Bibles.
Outside of Turkey, what is happening to the Christians of today from one end of the Muslim world to the other is a reflection of what happened to the Armenian Christians of yesterday. We can learn about the past by looking at the present. From Indonesia in the east to Morocco in the west, from Central Asia in the north, to sub-Sahara Africa—that is, throughout the entire Islamic world—Muslims are, to varying degrees, persecuting, killing, raping, enslaving, torturing and dislocating Christians. See my new book, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians for a comprehensive account of one of the greatest—yet, like the Armenian Genocide, little known—atrocities of our times.
Here is one relevant example to help appreciate the patterns and parallels: in Muslim-majority northern Nigeria, Muslims, led by the Islamic organization, Boko Haram (“Western Education is Forbidden”) are waging a bloody jihad on the Christian minorities in their midst. These two groups—black Nigerian Muslims and black Nigerian Christians—are identical in all ways except, of course, for being Muslims and Christians. And what is Boko Haram’s objective in all this carnage? To cleanse northern Nigeria of all Christians—a goal rather reminiscent of Ottoman policies of cleansing Turkey of all Christians, whether Armenian, Assyrian, or Greek.
How does one explain this similar pattern of Christian persecution—this desire to be cleansed of Christians—in lands so different from one another as Nigeria and Turkey, lands which share neither race, language, nor culture, which share only Islam? Meanwhile, the modern Islamic world’s response to the persecution of Christians is identical to Turkey’s response to the Armenian Genocide: Denial.
Finally, to understand how the historic Armenian Genocide is representative of the modern day plight of Christians under Islam, one need only read the following words written in 1918 by President Theodore Roosevelt—but read “Armenian” as “Christian” and “Turkish” as “Islamic”:
the Armenian [Christian] massacre was the greatest crime of the war, and the failure to act against Turkey [the Islamic world]is to condone it… the failure to deal radically with the Turkish [Islamic] horror means that all talk of guaranteeing the future peace of the world is mischievous nonsense.
Armenian civilians, escorted by armed Ottoman soldiers, are marched through Harput (known as Kharpert by Armenians, the kaza of the Mamuret-ul Aziz), to a prison in the nearby Mezireh (Ottoman: Mazraa, present-day Elâzığ), April 1915
Armenians from Kesaria in front of jail one hour before all were murdered
Armenians oone hour before they were murdered. One can see they were business men yet the Turks are putting out propaganda that they were plotting against them and had weapons hidden in their homes. This is their single excuse for the genocide they committed.
When the Turkish gendarmes came for Mugrditch Nazarian, they did not give him time to dress, but took him from his home in the dead of night in his pyjamas.
The year was 1915, and his wife, Varter, knew that she was unlikely to see her husband alive again. Armenian men like him were being rounded up and taken away. In the words of their persecutors, they were being “deported” – but not to an earthly place.
Varter never found out what fate her husband suffered. Some said he was shot, others that he was among the men held in jail, who suffered torture so unbearable that they poured the kerosene from prison lamps over their heads and turned themselves into human pyres as a release from the agony.
Heavily pregnant, Varter was ordered to join a death convoy marching women and children to desert concentration camps.
|Genocide:The Ottoman Turks murdered more than 1.5million Armenians between 1915 and 1917|
She survived the journey alone – her six children died along the way. The two youngest were thrown to their deaths down a mountainside by Turkish guards; the other four starved to death at the bottom of a well where they had hidden to escape.
Varter herself was abducted by a man who promised to save her – but raped her instead. Eventually, she was released to mourn her lost family, the victims of Europe’s forgotten holocaust.
A Turk teasing starving children with bread!!!!!
The killing of 1.5m Armenians by the Ottoman Turks during World War I remains one of the bloodiest and most contentious events of the 20th century, and has been called the first modern genocide.
In all, 25 concentration camps were set up in a systematic slaughter aimed at eradicating the Armenian people – classed as “vermin” by the Turks.
Winston Churchill described the massacres as an “administrative holocaust” and noted: “This crime was planned and executed for political reasons. The opportunity presented itself for clearing Turkish soil of a Christian race.”
Chillingly, Adolf Hitler used the episode to justify the Nazi murder of six million Jews, saying in 1939: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
Yet, carried out under the cover of war, the Armenian genocide remains shrouded in mystery – not least because modern-day Turkey refuses to acknowledge the existence of its killing fields.
Now, new photographs of the horror have come to light. They come from the archives of the German Deutsche Bank, which was working in the region financing a railway network when the killing began.
Unearthed by award-winning war correspondent Robert Fisk, they were taken by employees of the bank to document the terror unfolding before them.
They show young men, crammed into cattle trucks, waiting to travel to their deaths. The Turks crowded 90 starving and terrified Armenians into each wagon, the same number the Nazis averaged in their transports to the death camps of Eastern Europe during the Jewish Holocaust.
Behind each grainy image lies a human tragedy. Destitute women and children stare past the camera, witness to untold savagery.
Almost all young women were raped according to Fisk, while older women were beaten to death – they did not merit the expense of a bullet. Babies were left by the side of the road to die.
Often, attractive young Armenian girls were sent to Turkish harems, where some lived in enforced prostitution until the mid-1920s.
Many other archive photographs testify to the sheer brutality suffered by the Armenians: children whose knee tendons were severed, a young woman who starved to death beside her two small children, and a Turkish official taunting starving Armenian children with a loaf of bread.
THOSE WHO FELL BY THE WAYSIDE. Scenes like this were common all over the Armenian provinces, in the spring and summer months of 1915. Death in its several forms—massacre, starvation, exhaustion—destroyed the larger part of the refugees. Image taken from Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, written by Henry Morgenthau, Sr. and published in 1918.
Eyewitness accounts are even more graphic. Foreign diplomats posted in the Ottoman Empire at the time told of the atrocities, but were powerless to act.
One described the concentration camps, saying: “As on the gates of Dante’s Hell, the following should be written at the entrance of these accursed encampments: ‘You who enter, leave all hopes.’”
So how exactly did the events of 1915-17 unfold? Just as Hitler wanted a Nazi-dominated world that would be Judenrein – cleansed of its Jews – so in 1914 the Ottoman Empire wanted to construct a Muslim empire that would stretch from Istanbul to Manchuria.
Armenia, an ancient Christian civilisation spreading out from the eastern end of the Black Sea, stood in its way.
At the turn of the 20th century, there were two million Christian Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. Already, 200,000 had been killed in a series of pogroms – most of them brutally between 1894 and 1896.
In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered World War I against the Allies and launched a disastrous military campaign against Russian forces in the Caucasus. It blamed defeat on the Armenians, claiming they had colluded with the Russians.
A prominent Turkish writer at the time described the war as “the awaited day” when the Turks would exact “revenge, the horrors of which have not yet been recorded in history”.
Through the final months of 1914, the Ottoman government put together a number of “Special Organisation” units, armed gangs consisting of thousands of convicts specifically released from prison for the purpose.
These killing squads of murderers and thieves were to perpetrate the greatest crimes in the genocide. They were the first state bureaucracy to implement mass killings for the purpose of race extermination. One army commander described them at the time as the “butchers of the human species”.
On the night of April 24, 1915 – the anniversary of which is marked by Armenians around the world – the Ottoman government moved decisively, arresting 250 Armenian intellectuals. This was followed by the arrest of a further 2,000.
|Turkey refuses to acknowledge the killing fields|
Some died from torture in custody, while many were executed in public places. The resistance poet, Daniel Varoujan, was found disembowelled, with his eyes gouged out.
One university professor was made to watch his colleagues have their fingernails and toenails pulled out, before being blinded. He eventually lost his mind, and was let loose naked into the streets.
There were reports of crucifixions, at which the Turks would torment their victims: “Now let your Christ come and help you!”
Johannes Lepsius, a German pastor who tried to protect the Armenians, said: “The armed gangs saw their main task as raiding and looting Armenian villages. If the men escaped their grasp, they would rape the women.”
So began a carefully orchestrated campaign to eradicate the Armenians. Throughout this period, Ottoman leaders deceived the world, orchestrating the slaughter using code words in official telegrams.
At later war crimes trials, several military officers testified that the word “deportation” was used to mean “massacre” or “annihilation”.
Between May and August 1915, the Armenian population of the eastern provinces was deported and murdered en masse.
The American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau, said: “Squads of 50 or 100 men would be taken, bound together in groups of four, and marched to a secluded spot.
“Suddenly the sound of rifle shots would fill the air. Those sent to bury the bodies would find them almost invariably stark naked, for, as usual, the Turks had stolen all their clothes.”
In urban areas, a town crier was used to deliver the deportation order, and the entire male population would be taken outside the city limits and killed – “slaughtered like sheep”.
Women and children would then be executed, deported to concentration camps or simply turned out into the deserts and left to starve to death.
An American diplomat described the deportations or death marches: “A massacre, however horrible the word may sound, would be humane in comparison with it.”
An eyewitness who came upon a convoy of deportees reported that the women implored him: “Save us! We will become Muslims! We will become Germans! We will become anything you want, just save us! They are going to cut our throats!”
Walking skeletons begged for food, and women threw their babies into lakes rather than hand them over to the Turks.
There was mass looting and pillaging of Armenian goods. It is reported that civilians burned bodies to find the gold coins the Armenians swallowed for safekeeping.
Conditions in the concentration camps were appalling. The majority were located near the modern Iraqi and Syrian frontiers, in the desert between Jerablus and Deir ez-Zor – described as “the epicentre of death”. Up to 70,000 Armenians were herded into each camp, where dysentery and typhus were rife.
There, they were left to starve or die of thirst in the burning sun, with no shelter. In some cases, the living were forced to eat the dead. Few survived.
In four days alone, from 10-14 June 1915, the gangs ‘eliminated’ some 25,000 people in the Kemah Erzincan area alone.
In September 1915, the American consul in Kharput, Leslie A. Davis, reported discovering the bodies of nearly 10,000 Armenians dumped into several ravines near beautiful Lake Goeljuk, calling it the “slaughterhouse province”.
Tales of atrocity abound. Historians report that the killing squads dashed infants on rocks in front of their mothers.
One young boy remembered his grandfather, the village priest, kneeling down to pray for mercy before the Turks. Soldiers beheaded him, and played football with the old man’s decapitated head before his devastated family.
At the horrific Ras-ul-Ain camp near Urfa, two German railway engineers reported seeing three to four hundred women arrive in one day, completely naked. One witness told how Sergeant Nuri, the overseer of the camp, bragged about raping children.
An American, Mrs Anna Harlowe Birge, who was travelling from Smyrna to Constantinople, wrote in November 1915: “At every station where we stopped, we came side by side with one of these trains. It was made up of cattle trucks, and the faces of little children were looking out from behind the tiny barred windows of each truck.”
In her memoir, Ravished Armenia, Aurora Mardiganian described being raped and thrown into a harem. From a wealthy banking family, she was just one of thousands of Armenian girls to suffer a similar fate. Many were eventually killed and discarded.
In the city of Malatia, she saw 16 girls crucified, vultures eating their corpses. “Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross, spikes through her feet and hands,” Mardiganian wrote. “Only their hair blown by the wind covered their bodies.”
In another town, she reports that the killing squads played “the game of swords” with young Armenian girls, planting their weapons in the ground and throwing their victims onto the protruding blade in sport.
Elsewhere, bodies tied to each other drifted down the Euphrates. And in the Black Sea region, the Armenians were herded onto boats and then thrown overboard.
In the desert regions, the Turks set up primitive gas chambers, stuffing Armenians into caves and asphyxiating them with brush fires.
Everywhere, there were Armenian corpses: in lakes and rivers, in empty desert cisterns and village wells. Travellers reported that the stench of death pervaded the landscape.
One Turkish gendarme told a Norwegian nurse serving in Erzincan that he had accompanied a convoy of 3,000 people. Some were summarily executed in groups along the way; those too sick or exhausted to march were killed where they fell. He concluded: “They’re all gone, finished.”
By 1917, the Armenian ‘problem’, as it was described by Ottoman leaders, had been thoroughly “resolved”. Muslim families were brought in to occupy empty villages.
Even after the war, the Ottoman ministers were not repentant. In 1920, they praised those responsible for the genocide, saying: “These things were done to secure the future of our homeland, which we know is greater and holier than even our own lives.”
The British government pushed for those responsible for the killing to be punished, and in 1919 a war crimes tribunal was set up.
The use of the word “genocide” in describing the massacre of Armenians has been hotly contested by Turkey. Ahead of the nation’s accession to the EU, it is even more politically inflammatory.
The official Turkish position remains that 600,000 or so Armenians died as a result of war. They deny any state intention to wipe out Armenians and the killings remain taboo in the country, where it is illegal to use the term genocide to describe the events of those bloody years.
Internationally, 21 countries have recognised the killings as genocide under the UN 1948 definition. Armenian campaigners believe Turkey should be denied EU membership until it admits responsibility for the massacres.
Just as in the Nazi Holocaust, there were many tales of individual acts of great courage by Armenians and Turks alike.
Haji Halil, a Muslim Turk, kept eight members of his mother’s Armenian family safely hidden in his home, risking death.
In some areas, groups of Kurds followed the deportation convoys and saved as many people as they could. Many mothers gave their children to Turkish and Kurdish families to save them from death.
The Governor-General of Aleppo stood up to Ottoman officials and tried to prevent deportations from his region, but failed.
He later recalled: “I was like a man standing by a river without any means of rescue. But instead of water, the river flowed with blood and thousands of innocent children, blameless old men, helpless women and strong young people all on their way to destruction.
“Those I could seize with my hands I saved. The others, I assume, floated downstream, never to return.”
Berlin, Germany – “Especially as 2015 approaches, the pressure will increase. Turkey will, as it has done before, react harshly. It will utter threats, but they will remain ineffective.
“Do you know why? It is because the Armenians have gotten a significant part of the world to accept their claims of genocide.”
Who is speaking here? Is it a Diaspora Armenian bragging about progress towards Turkish recognition of the 1915 genocide? That might seem most likely. But, no, these are the words of a Turkish journalist writing in the pages of the daily, Hürriyet.(1) The article, entitled, “We are surrendering ourselves to ‘genocide,’” appeared in the April 28th edition of the paper. Although Hürriyet is generally considered rather nationalistic, the commentator Mehmet Ali Birand is known as a liberal. He is not bragging. Quite the contrary: he raises the alarm that, as the centenary of the genocide looms, Turkey may finally be forced to acknowledge its occurrence.
The reason for concern he identifies in the circulation of a new book in Turkish, a hefty 1000 pages long, which presents irrefutable evidence of genocide. The book, issued on January 12, 2012 by Belge Publishing House – whose owner Ragip Zarakolu was recently put on trial on hoked-up charges – contains translations “into an extremely comprehensible and beautiful Turkish” of documents from the German Foreign Ministry archives during the First World War. Wolfgang Gust, “the famous German journalist and writer,” put it together; first published in German in 2005, Birand tells us that it also exists in other languages. It is entitled, Alman Belgeleri: Ermeni Soykirimi 1915-1916 (German Documents: Armenian Genocide 1915-1916).(2)
His assessment of the power of the documents is straightforward. “Without going into detail,” he writes, “if you read the book and look at the documents, if you are a person who is introduced to the subject through this book, then there is no way that you would not believe in the genocide and justify the Armenians. Even if you are an expert on the subject,” he adds, “or have researched what went on from the Turkish side, again, you will be confused. You will have many questions.”
Birand concludes his somewhat agitated report with a challenge directed to the leaders of his nation. “Now, I want to ask all Turkish officials: In the last 50 years, have you done such a study? Have you researched international sources and – however biased or one-sided it may be – have you been able to publish such a book? What kind of study have you made – moving outside our own sources – that would convince the international public? Were you limited to or satisfied with using only Turkish archives because you could not find plausible documents or evidence?” And his conclusion is brutal. “Let us not deceive each other: If you can give answers to these questions, then you will be able to clarify some very key facts for us.” But will they do so? Birand’s view: “I know you will be silent.