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Boston, US
Posts: 205

In this exercise, you are going to look at the Armenian genocide, which resulted in the murder of approximately 1.5 million Armenian Christians living in the area of eastern Turkey that today is independent Armenia. In 1915, Armenia was part of the Ottoman Empire, which was in rapid decline and would eventually become Turkey. The Young Turks, who came to power in 1908, dreamed of a pan-Turkish empire that was Muslim in religious orientation. The Armenians were the largest remaining group of Christians left in this territory (other groups of Christians in parts of the Ottoman Empire had broken away or gained independence).

Beginning with the execution of Armenian political leaders in Istanbul in 1915, the systematic elimination of Armenians, either through exile overland to Syria or execution, took place. It is believed that mass deportations, torture, and executions took place between 1915 and 1923, with the goal of eradicating the Armenian population from Turkey soil.

  1. To be sure that you understand the magnitude and the scale of the Armenian genocide, I’d like you to look at some photographic material about the Armenian genocide. Choose two of these sites (you may go to all three, if you wish). Warning: some of the material on these sites is extremely graphic.

Photographs of the Armenian genocide taken by John Elder between 1917-19

Images and a variety of sources documenting the Armenian genocide.

  1. Then I’d like you to look at two maps on this site

∙the first shows the vision of Pan-Turkish land

∙the second map indicates the extent of the deportations and massacres

  1. Then, read some eyewitness reports about the genocide.

Feel free to look at any of these but be sure to scroll down and take a look at Noyemzar Alexanian’s story. (2nd from the bottom of the list) After you’ve done this, take a look at some of the other survivor testimony on this site, if you have a few minutes. These are incredibly moving.

  1. Then take a look at some of the wartime testimony in archival documents in the U.S. and British archives. Go to:

Poke around this part of the site, featuring US and British documents, and see what you find. Select at least 3 documents to read.

5. Please take a look at the letter sent by the Turkish embassy as a reply to one of my former students, St John Barned-Smith, in 2004 when he asked how the Turkish government could explain the fate of the Armenians. (St John is now a very successful reporter for the Houston Chronicle.)

In the link that follows, the letter from the Embassy appears first; if you scroll down after the Embassy’s letter, you will find the student’s letter to the Embassy at the bottom of this link AND you should read that first before reading the Embassy’ response!

6. Finally, where does the US government stand right now on the Armenian genocide (updating some of what you read in Samantha Power’s book).

Here’s what Obama did/didn’t do:

Here’s where Trump did:

Here’s where Biden seems to be:

7. Your final task is to post your responses HERE to the following questions, along with your reactions to what you’ve learned about the Armenian genocide:

  • After looking at all this, what sense can you make of the Armenian genocide?
  • What’s true about these events? Is there anything that appears to be untrue?
  • What is “real history” and what isn’t?
  • How can you tell?
  • And how would you respond to the Turkish government’s position on these events? Do you think the U.S. government and/or world governments should in some way respond as well?
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 16

The Armenian Genocide

  • After looking at all the information and photos, we think that this should most definitely be considered a genocide and there is no denying it happened and we think it is impossible to make sense of what happened.
  • We think that the only untrue thing about anything is what the Turkish government says actually happened.
  • The real history is what is backed up by the evidence, such as all the images and accounts from victims and government documents.
  • The United States government has put placed in a difficult place considering the Turkish government has been blackmailing the U.S government to not come forward and say it was a genocide because then they would cut all ties which would be terminal for the U.S
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

Documenting the Armenian Genocide

There seems to be a lot of differing opinions on the Armenian Genocide, and most who oppose the idea of the reality of the situation are Turkish or want to remain neutral in the situation for their own political benefit. What's true about these events is that a genocide DID happen to the Armenians at the hands of the Turks, and around 1.5 million Armenians died. The claims that the Turkish government is making about the genocide are untrue. They claim that the deportation was a "relocation", and was for the security of the Ottoman Empire. They also have claimed that 1.5 million Armenians who died is an exaggerated statistic. Their claims are just untrue and debunked by evidence through documentation and eye-witness accounts. Real history is what can be supported by evidence and factual documentation. You can tell what real history is by the sources you get the evidence from, for example the "evidence" from the Turkish people is biased because they refuse to admit what happened. You can also tell from photographs and first-hand accounts from witnesses and survivors of the events. The Turkish government's position on these events is unjust, they refuse to admit their inhumane actions and the genocide they caused on the Armenian people. The Armenians still haven't received the justice that they deserve, and the recognition by the Turkish government that what happened was wrong. A response or acknowledgment of the Armenian genocide from other world governments would be a good first approach.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

The Denial of the Armenian Genocide

After looking through all of the first hand accounts, pictures, documents, and more, there is clear evidence that a genocide did happen, and it is so shocking and disturbing to me that the Turkish government continues to deny that any sort of genocide occurred. When confronted with these pictures and evidence, they just brush it off as some sort of side effect of wartime— which while the deaths of so many innocent civilians could be the result of what happens during times of warfare, this was very clearly a systematic massacre of the Armenian people. It doesn’t take much to see the documents, the timelines, the pictures, and the testimonies of witnesses to understand that the real history is that there was a genocide, and those who deny it are clearly misinformed. When you have multiple of the same or similar accounts of the horrific things that people did to the Armenians from more than just a few people, that should be a sign that these events did indeed happen and that what was said in the accounts were true. I think that the Turkish government, as well as the U.S. government and other world governments, should acknowledge the fact that these things happened, but also be held accountable for their actions. Right now, not only are they not doing any sort of compensation or acknowledgement, they are blatantly denying the fact and censoring all sorts of media that talk about the genocide. What was shocking, especially, is the fact that somebody could even get arrested or fined for even mentioning the word genocide in Turkey, as mentioned in the video we watched during class. I really hope that in the near future, the deaths of so many innocent people, young and old, would be acknowledged, so that such tragedies can not happen again.
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

Armenian Genocide? Why did I just hear of this?

After looking at all of the links, documentaries, videos, and interviews, it is quite clear how inhumane and awful this was. Obviously, genocide carries those words within it, but it's more than just that, it's how this is such a transparent event all around the world, including here. I am upset that I never heard of this before this time, and I'm upset that this doesn't have as much recognization as the Nazi genocide did, if not more considering that that was inspired by the Armenian Genocide. The truth about these events is that it was a genocide, that way over a million Armenians was killed, and it was brutal and merciless the way it was carried out. In Turkey's eyes, all of which I said is told to be untrue, which is just unreasonable. The fact that Turkey hasn't admitted or brought up anything concerning the Armenian genocide is inhumane and speaks to their government. Real history is what I listed earlier, there are so many artifacts, first-person narratives, and evidence in the country to prove what I said. I would honestly be like, "are you remotely serious?" the next time they try and deny these allegations. There is more evidence for this than so many other things that people and countries have been convinced of or owned up to. I think the U.S and other countries should push Turkey to admit what they have done. It is quite foolish that the US won't bring this up becuase of their connections with Turkey, and is almost ironic in a sense that they are using Turkey to help out with their war/battles.

Boston, MA
Posts: 20

Documenting the Armenian Genocide and Its Denial

After looking at all this, it is extremely evident that a genocide did occur. Unfortunately, it is also evident that denial of this genocide persists. It’s hard to make sense of why anyone would act so hatefully towards a group, but history has shown that power hungry people will go to almost any length to maintain and gain power.

What’s true about these events is that Armenians were treated terribly and there was no respect for their lives.

The images of emaciated Armenians, many of them children, shows how harsh their conditions were. The intentional massacring of Armenians cannot be downplayed as a result of wartime violence.There was clear genocidal intent. The Turks committed a genocide. The only things that appear to be untrue about these events are the lies the Turks continue to spread. Making it a crime to even mention genocide shows clear intent to suppress the real truth.

The real history here is that over 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives. Real history listens to and lifts the voices of the oppressed, rather than letting the oppressor write their own history. Turkey is trying to distort the events of the genocide, but the firsthand accounts and photos show the real history. Armenians were deported, massacred, and murdered. These facts cannot be refuted, though Turkey tries. Turkey’s portrayal of the genocide as wartime violence that did not intentionally target one group is not real history. It tells a story that is convenient for them, while failing to acknowledge the painful history of an entire group of people. I can tell what is real history and what is not because the conditions of people in the photos I saw did not come to be by accident. These first hand accounts, photos, and the sheer number of Armenian deaths are not lies. Any effort to discredit this evidence is clearly denial.

I think the Turkish government, as well as world governments should acknowledge these events as a genocide. The Turkish government should be held accountable for their actions, rather than continuing to silence any resistance. The United States needs to come forward and acknowledge the event for what it truly is. One cannot only condemn genocide when it is politically convenient. It sets a dangerous precedent nationally and internationally. The Turkish government at the very least needs to invite discourse on these events. The banning of even mentioning the events as a genocide is absolutely unacceptable. They are clearly aware of their actions and that it was a genocide, they just do not want to pay the consequences. I also think Turkey could feel that they’ve gone too long denying the genocide, and that it is too late to turn back now. I feel that acknowledging it now, while late, is better than not acknowledging it at all. It makes Armenians feel more heard and valued, and sets a precedence of accountability. America and other world powers recognizing the genocide for what it is could set a standard that pushes the Turks to also acknowledge it, rather than feeling there are no consequences for continuing to distort and deny history.

Posts: 21

Documenting the Armenian Genocide

There is no sense to be made of the Armenian genocide, as it is with all genocides. We know that there were millions of Armenian people killed, and leading up to it, numerous orders were carried out to remove mobility and freedom from them. Based on the numerous firsthand sources and eyewitness accounts, there is no feasible way to argue that the Armenian genocide did not occur. The methodical atrocities committed by the Ottomans during this time cannot be identified as anything short of genocide. This is all “real history”; there is no way to dispute eyewitnesses and photographs. The notion put forward by the Turkish government that these atrocities were “unfortunate human tragedies'' is very troubling, along with the Turkish embassy’s letter claiming that these were mere by products of war. “[While many of the Armenians died] such is the reality of war.” The United States government should condemn this. It is not acceptable to remain silent on this in the name of “international relations”. Denying a genocide is a type of crime that cannot be ignored.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 18

It must be remembered

After looking at these sources, I’ve concluded that the Armenian Genocide was a harsh reality for many in Turkey. There is no hiding the fact that it happened and it must be remembered for all the lives lost. I don’t exactly know if anything appears to be untrue, most pieces of evidence like the eye witness reports are convincing. The denial for what happened is disgraceful, world governments should be help accountable for their actions and pressure should be put on the Turkish government. The inhumane and shameful treatment for the Armenians should not be forgotten and they should receive their justice. The Turkish government’s banning of the mentioning of the Armenian genocide is definitely signs of being guilty. They must be held accountable and the truth must be announced to the world.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 24

The Armenian Genocide

Without a doubt, the Armenian Genocide was one of the most horrific events in history and is often forgotten or denied. After looking at the videos, pictures, letters, first-hand accounts, and more, it is clear that this genocide occurred. To deny such an event would be to disregard the millions of lives lost. Viewing the photographs of refugee orphans scattered across stations to be transported to execution sites is heart-wrenching. As well as seeing the maps that followed the events of the genocide, including escape routes, resistance, and concentration centers, it was apparent that this event was far larger than what it was thought to be. Based on the documents our group read, these events did in fact happen. There were dozens of pictures to prove that, letters from a U.S. ambassador who closely followed this genocide, accounts from survivors, the reports of Ottoman Turks seeking to annihilate the Armenian population, and more. The abundance of evidence is in the very document Ms. Freeman shared. So why do people continue to deny this history?

Real history involves things that have happened in the past and have evidence for their existence. They are past events that people should look back to, reflect on, and learn from. It’s typically written in a neutral way and fact-based, but history is also written by the “winners”. What is recorded and taught can end up being the so-called real history, especially if that history is in history textbooks and seems to be common knowledge. Anything that goes against evidence for said history isn't real history.

It isn’t always easy to tell because there are always two sides of the story, but one way to tell whether it’s real history is if there is a variety of evidence from different sources that are pointing to the same thing, which is important because the government may not be willing for the real history to be found out, or the perspective may be very biased to one side.

After reading the response to a letter a “confused” student from Boston Latin sent to the Turkish embassy, it was clear that the Turkish government continues to deny the genocide. The student made great points and proposed questions that were left unanswered. If I were to respond to the Turkish government’s position on these events, I would ask “After all the evidence that has been collected to prove the Armenian genocide, Why do you continue to deny it? Is it pride? If you weren’t Turkish (unbiased) would you recognize this genocide? These are just a few questions that I believe should be addressed. In addition to the Turkish government, there were many other nations involved that were bystanders, watching the death toll of the Armenian people increase by the day. The U.S. government ignored the Armenian genocide, even after U.S. ambassador, Morgenthau, sent warnings to the administration routinely. Silence is compliance and those who stood there and did nothing out of sheer self-interest are inhumane. The U.S. government and other world powers that ignored the genocide should be held accountable. As well as the very perpetrators of these crimes(Ottoman Turk Gov.), they should not be turned a blind eye to. It is evident that when the U.S. needed to call out the inhumanity of the Armenian Genocide, they failed to do so in order to establish a relationship with Turkey. Even 100 years later the Turkish government continues to deny these allegations, claiming it as “relocation” and a “response to uprising”. Will the Turkish government ever acknowledge the Armenian Genocide? And if they were to do so, how could their response ever repay the millions of lives lost…?

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

I don't know if my group has made a post yet so I'm doing it now!

After looking at this, we have decided that this is most definitely a genocide. The way that every step seemed planned in advance, specifically targeting the Armenians in Turkey, just all fell too well to just be "a large coincidence" in which a clearly marginalized population died because of WWI

My group thought that the only untrue thing was the lies that were told about the Armenians by the Turkish then and now.

"Real History" our group decided was the history that is supported by clear evidence, not just what the government says is true.

You can tell when something is "real history" when the history seems to be lacking in evidence for it and there is tons of evidence against it.

I think that the Turkish government should acknowledge and pay reparations for the genocide that they committed. I think that the U.S. government should first deal with the skeletons in their closet by addressing and moving forward with the genocides that they themselves committed, and then act as a world leader and convince the rest of the world to do the same, and destigmatize recognizing the history of your country, even the parts that are hard to face.

Boston , MA, US
Posts: 16

The Armenian Genocide

After looking at this it is clear that there is evidence for the Armenian Genocide like the first hand accounts, photos, and documents. It is true that 1.5 million Armenians died at the hand of the Turkish. One of the Turksih government's methods of propaganda is down playing their actions so that they do not seem as inhumane which is untrue. I think real history are events that multiple eyewitnesses can account for. I think the Turkish government should take responsibility and at least acknowledge that these events were a genocide. It is also unacceptable for the United State’s government to condemn these actions and deny the genocide.

withered wojak
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

After all, who remembers the Armenians?

After looking at all this, what sense can you make of the Armenian genocide?

Despite the large amounts of evidence that point towards this genocides existence, there is still a massive amount of denial against it, which was shocking. There is absolute evidence that it happened, and it seems that the Turkish Government denies it as a coverup.

After looking at all this, what sense can you make of the Armenian genocide?

From what we could tell, all of this was factual. There is always the possibility of the images being doctored in order to further support the claim of a genocide happening. We made a rule of thumb to accept documents that were not directly from the Turkish Government as factual.

What is “real history” and what isn’t?

While it is confusing what you mean by "real history", I would say that the documentary clips on Youtube, which could be seen in longer documentaries on channels like the History channel, are real history. Documents by the United States Government after the War are real history, as were most of the things we saw.

How can you tell?

No one can really tell, I simply placed a blind faith in the vetting of evidence by not only Mrs. Freeman, but by our own government, and the Documentaries. Since we are not experts at looking at history for minor inaccuracies, I do not know that it is feasible for us to truly know.

And how would you respond to the Turkish government’s position on these events? Do you think the U.S. government and/or world governments should in some way respond as well?

When asking how I would respond, there is not much to do. We could impose sanctions until they acknowledge it, but that seems unnecessary. This is, as others have put it, "settled history". It happened and other than social pressures, I do not see a point to pressuring them to do it through economic or military means.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 17

After looking at the vast swaths of evidence supporting the existence of the Armenian genocide, it’s frankly astonishing that it is not only still being actively denied by the Turkish Government, but also that the U.S. Government refuses to recognize its existence either.

The photographs alone serve as prime evidence of the casualties, and the existence of mass graves and witness testimonies all but confirms that roughly 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered in an event that was, by all means, a genocide. Any dispute over particular details is rendered trivial by the sheer scale of the atrocity. The only thing necessarily untrue about the Armenian genocide is the denial of it having happened.

With regards to the idea of “real history”, we will never know with 100% certainty what happened in the past, at least until the invention of time travel. Our understanding of history is based upon the analysis and piecing-together of evidence and information still available to us in the present, and the interpretations of history that we consider to be “real” are usually the ones most easily explained by our available evidence, à la Occam’s Razor. In this sense, there is no “real” or “unreal” history, only theories of the past that are supported by evidence to varying degrees.

The Turkish Government’s denial is intentionally deceitful, and as a matter of principle, denial of what is a very clear genocide should not be tolerated. At the same time, however, the issue of Armenian Genocide recognition is mired in both international and domestic politics, and the regrettable reality is that Turkey, the US, and other countries have legitimate incentives to deny or refuse to recognize the existence of a GENOCIDE. While recognition of the Armenian Genocide is, by all means, the morally just option, I am in no position to assess whether or not it would be “worth it” for countries to do so. My only thought on the matter is that it’s a sad reflection on the nature of international politics that genocide cannot be formally recognized without fear of straining foreign relations.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

Armenian Genocide

After looking at all these documents, photos, maps, and articles, it becomes very clear that what happened to the Armenians was a systematic attempt to murder every Armenian person in Turkey, even if they were defenseless and peaceful civilians who had no intention of rising up against the Turkish majority. Despite what the Turkish government would want you to believe, the Armenian genocide was most definitely a genocide, and not just a series of tragedies that are so often found in wars. The Turks were not trying to benevolently move the Armenians to safer areas; they were trying to remove them from Turkish life entirely. This is evident through the arbitrary and cruel rules that the Armenians were subjected to as they were being forced out of their homes, and the fact that many parents were forced to leave behind their children in orphanages to be Turkified.

The horrifying amount of massacres shown on the map are well-documented, and there are many photos to show that these events did indeed occur. These objective pieces of evidence are "real history," because they show without any bias whatsoever what truly happened and preserve for eternity the sights that past eyes had truly seen. Reports made during that time, such as the ones sent to the US government by Morgenthau, too count as "real history," because they can be backed up by photographs and other pieces of evidence. What is not "real history," however, is government propaganda that has absolutely no basis in fact and reality whatsoever. The denial of the Turkish government, so clearly seen in the Turkish embassy’s response to a student’s letter, causes them to ignore a plethora of evidence and twist other facts to fit a story of their lacking. That is not history; that is just plain old fiction. They have no actual proof that their point of view is correct, yet they continue to believe in it for the sake of avoiding accountability for their actions.

It is long past time for that to change. The US and other governments should officially condemn Turkey and its perpetration of the Armenian genocide, as well as its continued denial over the genocide’s existence. The word "genocide" should actually be used—out loud—and there should be pressure put on the Turkish government to acknowledge the Armenian genocide and pay reparations. With the Turks’ continued refusal to accept the facts laid out before them, truth, reconciliation, and moving on is downright impossible. It is only when Turkey is willing to actually atone for its horrendous actions that people can finally begin to heal, more than a hundred years later.

Allston, MA, US
Posts: 23

we shouldn't let go

It was a genocide. There’s no better or worse word for it. That’s all it was and all it will ever be. It is the only word that we must use to describe what happened, and the only word that the Turkish need to use in order to accept, repent, and move on from this terrible past.

As for the documentation of the history, there’s nothing that appears to be untrue. At most instances, some bias may be present (particularly with the photojournalism and the framing of the situation), but the events were still nonetheless real. They clearly happened. If they didn’t, then why would there be so much proof? How could so much history be fabricated?

I’d have to say there always also needs to be an element of skepticism when it comes to photography, as it can be easily fabricated; however, this is indeed real history.

Why? Real history is well documented. Though that can easily be argued against, such as with Tibetan history not being completely factual due to the Chinese’s erasure of it, but that was during a time where documenting history was much harder. During WWI, documenting history was much easier with the more widespread use of cameras and newspapers and so on and so forth. People tried showing the events as it happened, and it was denied over and over again, especially by the Turkish government, leading into the last bullet.

At the current moment, trying to convince them seems like talking to drywall. However, I don’t believe having other governments continuously pushing in their faces to accept this history or face consequences is the route to go. Although Trump did seem to ignore the issue during his tenure, his relationship with the Turkish president was very amicable, and had Trump used that to his advantage, he could have pushed for that change. Of course, that didn’t happen. Now that Biden’s president, he seems to be very condemning of the situation, which might both sour the relationship between the US and Turkey and push them further into the whole of disbelief over their history. It’s a delicate situation, and it needs to be handled with care, if we want Turkey to begin to take blame for what happened. It may take a while, but it can definitely happen.

Overall, this should not be a period in history that should be forgotten or left to wither. Continuing to discuss this documentation keeps it alive.

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