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king leopold
Posts: 22

Making sense of the Armenian Genocide

I believe that the Armenian genocide is one of the most clear cut and proveable instances of mass killing in modern history. The sheer quantity of first hand accounts, photographic evidence, and official documentation, which were available widely at the time, speaks for itself. Although the term did not yet exist, the Armenian “race murder” fits the definition of genocide better than possibly any event besides the holocaust. It is clear to me now and was clear to many at the time that this was in fact a concerted effort to annihilate the entire Turkish-Armenian minority.

In large part due to this preponderance of evidence, the only credible narrative today regarding the Armenian genocide is the one not held by Turkey. It is itself a pretty glaring sign that the only nation vehemently defending the actions of the Ottoman empire is Turkey. St John Barned-Smith’s letter is further painful proof that the Turkish people choose to or are forced to embrace an alternate history of the Armenian Genocide.

It is easier still to determine whose side of history is “true” considering that one side’s truth is backed by hard incriminating evidence, and the other’s is backed by anecdotal examples of Armenian on Turkish violence, political spin and diversion tactics.

To this day, the Armenian genocide is the largest unresolved and unreconciled mass atrocity in history. And to think that we as a nation allow its denial to maintain military bases, an ally, and the pride of the Turkish “republic” must be even more devastating to the Armenian people.

It is frankly disgusting that the US is so closely allied with a nation actively engaged on a large scale in something tantamount to Holocaust denial.It is near equally disgusting that the US, by its silence, placates the nation of Turkey and permits its active denial of the Armenian genocide.

Posts: 32

To be completely honest, I didn’t think reading these stories was going to have such an impact on me. I knew they would be bad, but I underestimated them. This genocide, compared to all the other ones we’ve learned about so far, has taken the greatest toll on me; I opened my laptop with the mindset that I had to do yet another homework assignment, but as soon as I read the Katherine Magarian story I started tearing up.

Earlier in the year we talked about dehumanization---one of the tactics used by people and governments to carry out genocide. If one simply believes that another group is inferior, it is easy to also believe that they can be slaughtered and mistreated: they are just another animal. This is exactly what was occurring in Armenia. The letter from the Turkish Embassy said that many Armenians perished from deportations, but that was only because of limited supplies and necessities. Yet, in Katherine Magarian’s story, a Turk is depicted cutting out the baby of a pregnant woman and stabbing it, in front of the mother, with a knife. How could this be true then, that Armenians perished from limited supples, when there are real, legitimate testimonies that the Turks were in fact using supplies to kill Armenians. Killing the baby of the pregnant woman had nothing to do with deportations. It had everything to do with the mindset of the Turks at this time: Armenians were inferior, and had to be exterminated.

That is the definition of a genocide. What happened in Armenia was a genocide.

Thus we are lead to the question of what is real history and what is not real history. I’m sure many Armenians did perish from limited supplies, but even more were denied those supplies purposefully, starved purposefully, and killed purposefully. In this way, both the words of the Turkish Embassy and the words of genocide survivors are true, but one is not the complete truth without the other: one must combine the words of the Embassy and the survivors to see the bigger picture. It is so sad that the Turkish government refuses to do this. They argue that “all we need to do is move on” without realizing that the only way many Armenians can move on is if they are recognized---if they receive at least a sorry for the deaths and hardships that their ancestors had to endure.

I don’t believe a single survivor story was untrue. Why would it be? These Armenians were presented with a platform to share their story and bring awareness to something deserving of it; they had no reason to lie. The stories, especially from those who were in the genocide themselves, were heartbreaking because they were so pure. They make readers realize that these people being murdered were people, and that all human life is precious. Many of the Armenians in fact expressed, in their stories, their gratitude for those who helped make these websites possible. Giving them an opportunity to say what they have been dealing with ever since the genocide ended must have relieved a great many of survivors. The only thing that could complete their healing process is if Turkey, too, faces the history and admits that what they did constitutes a genocide.

Questioning whether the words of the Turkish Embassy were true or untrue is more complicated. I already mentioned that I think their words were true, but they were complete half-truths, as juxtaposing as that sounds. Turkey knows that there is much information already public that supports the claim that this was a genocide. Thus, anything Turkey says must be completely thought out, so as to make their words believable by those who may have read a few survivor stories, but also to make their words argue that this was no genocide. One thing extremely frustrating from the letter was the dogmatism, saying that “no serious scholar could or would ever draw a comparison with the Holocaust or any of the genocides perpetrated in history.” This is no half-truth. This is a lie. Any “serious scholar” could draw a comparison between Armenia and the Holocaust, especially since Hitler literally said “who remembers Armenia!” before he began killing all the Jews. It’s so disgusting that, not only does Turkey deny this, but they think that if you do draw this comparison, you are not a “serious scholar,” you’re just an irrelevant one. If that is the case then so be it, some of the best scholars will be irrelevant.

This exchange is like a game of tug-of-war, as childish and as bad a simile as it is. The words of Armenians are on one side and the words of the Turkish government are on the other, and they are fighting to have their story be seen when they think of 1915. Turkey refuses to listen to what the Armenians have to say, and right now the Turkish truth is triumphant. But the stories of Armenians are so, so important, and that truth of their history is one that cannot be forgotten. I am really hoping that one day, the Armenians will win the game, and have their truth be the face of 1915. It deserves to be recognized for everything that it was: a genocide.

Posts: 27

Web search

The Armenian genocide is known as the forgotten genocide. People were starved, and deported from their homes where their family lived for generations. Kids became orphans and they were exploited by the Turks for labor while being starved at the same time, making them look almost skeletal like. We saw multiple pictures of these horrors and the Armenian genocide was very well documented. But it still continues to be questioned as being a true historical event by many Turkish people and the Turkish government. It was really eye-opening when Anabella asked the Turkish guy who dmed her about it. He instantly defended Turkey and stated there was fighting on both sides, and it wasn't an intent to exterminate the Armenians.
I really don't understand the thought process behind the non believers. If there were very limited amounts of photographs or testimonies from people, then I would understand being skeptical about the events and what is the truth, however that is not the case. There are so many photographs, like the ones by John Elder, that explicitly show the conditions that Armenians were forced to live under during the Turkish oppression. Moreover, there are many testimonies from those who were directly affected by the oppression, all detailing the same horrendous scenes; family members being separated from each other, being forced from their homes by soldiers and forced to travel dangerous distances to try to avoid being killed and most of the time, the strong even died,so what chance did everyone else have?
“Real history” is having, eyewitnesses, images, letters, and other primary sources. These sources were created when the events were happening and these people actually experienced these events. However, quotes, stories, or secondary sources aren’t always reliable, since there could be some misinterpretation or exaggerated. The video of the Armenian survivor and her experiences as a child were chilling. She watched her family get murdered in front of her eyes and wasn't able to do a thing about it. This was “real history” because it was directly from her account and she described it in extreme detail, due to it being traumatizing to her. I know about this personally, when I got into a car accident, everything slowed down and what was only seconds seemed like minutes. I'm still able to remember everything.
Posts: 29

In my opinion, what happened to the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was a genocide. There are documents stating that the intent of the Turkish government was to annihilate the Armenian population. I think that you would be an idiot to deny that this was a genocide. Just like you’re an idiot if you deny the Holocaust. The Turkish government has since stated that the Ottoman Empire was falling apart and did not have the resources to create proper housing for the Armenians to “relocate” to. So why would you “relocate” Armenians to a place that doesn’t exist if you weren’t trying to set them up to fail? Regardless of whether the majority of the Armenian population was planning to rise up against the Turkish government in order to become independent, it did not give the Turks the right to exterminate all of the Armenians, including children. You can’t blame the lives lost solely on the fact that there was a war going on. “Real history” (after humans became literate) is when there are documents, photos and survivor testimonies to “prove” that something happened. Obviously you can use this logic for how humans came to be. But basically if you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that something happened (as in the case of the Armenians) then you can call it “real history”

Posts: 28

After talking about the issue with family members, peers, and coworkers, all of us couldn't believe that the Turkish government still doesn't recognize the validity of the Armenian genocide. I find the argument defending Turkish denial to be fascinating. It makes sense that the people of Turkey want to remember the 20th century as a time full of economic success and urbanization, and acknowledging the mass murder of Armenians would diminish this reputation they worked so hard to establish. However, I think that the denial of a genocide says a lot more about a country/contributes to its reputation than gradual economic development does. I also find it interesting how deniers of the genocide use the word "relocation" as opposed to "deportation", especially because there is a substantial amount of evidence that suggests there was an intent to push Armenians out of the region by force. Additionally, when reading the Embassy's letter, one argument that really made me question the complications and facets of any historical event was when he criticized Morgenthau's sources, especially because there are so many parallels than can be drawn to this argument and what we call "fake news".

In regard to what constitutes as "real" and "fake" history, I believe that if there is a significant amount of evidence that all makes the same claim, then it should be considered as "real" history. Throughout the Embassy's letter, he kept addressing the fact that the number of Armenian deaths is highly contested, but I feel that whether 1 million or 1.5 million Armenians were executed, it still doesn't change the fact that an effort to terminate their entire race occurred.

what redbone would sound like if you were wearing sweatpants
Posts: 27

The pictures in the links have a mix of completely horrifying and devastating pictures of the genocide and the conditions they were forced to live in, as well as having some “normal” pictures of supposed everyday life. I think that only makes it more haunting by reminding us that this is something that happen in real life and could possibly happen again in the future, some pictures seem so relatable or similar to things we can connect to in our own lives. The letter included by Ms. Freeman’s former student was also extremely disheartening. The reply was so intent on setting their story that it was not a genocide by the official definition, probably only showing further that they know how many people want them to admit it and how the facts literally go against their claims that it isn’t a genocide, yet push out this continued effort to state and try to explain to everyone else that it wasn’t. (Even though every box is checked off when comparing it to the traditional criteria for it being named an official genocide.)

After looking at all this, I really cannot understand how heartless and selfish the Turkish politicians could be to continue to deny that this is a genocide, denying the Armenians any closure or respect to what happened. The truth is that it was explicitly stated that they intended to wipe out an actual group, the Armenians. How can this be denied? Of course since it was so long ago a lot of exact numbers or figures cannot be sure or too accurate but the overall gist of this, coupled with countless pictures and first hand accounts, cannot be denied logically or humanely. “Real history” is the actual fact of what happened, so many things have proof to back them up. Just looking at the heartbreaking pictures, do the turks think that they were photoshopped? Why would they be framed for the atrocities committed? It is also the trust in journal entries, accounts, etc. Simply ignoring the facts you don’t want to acknowledge, having a selective logical mindset, that is what the turks are doing.

Posts: 32

Armenian Genocide

I feel like Turkey’s argument of deportation and a civil war just gets more and more absurd as I read the victim accounts. It clearly was a genocide. Just by the witness accounts, it’s really not a question. Someone (Enver Pasha) literally said that the empire should get rid of Armenians. The thing that is true of these events is that this was a genocide. It was the intentional and systematic removal of the Armenians by the Turkish government. The government’s argument that it wasn’t is just lies. Just take their letter responding to the former BLS student. It was so aggressive that it made it seem like they had something to hide. And then, they tried to blame it on WWI and a alliance between the Armenians and Russia, which is ridiculous. It’s like they are trying to make excuses for what they did and make it seem like everything is okay, when it’s not. Noyemzar’s account of the Turks coming to homes and asking for rope as a way to capture men showed that all this was planned out. They didn’t just accidentally kill Armenians, it was a plan.

Real history has to be unbiased. It has to include aspects of all accounts, not just one side. Because there is truth in what everyone says, we just have to piece together the real facts in order to get the real history. It wouldn’t be fair to base “history” on one side of the spectrum without considering the other side. What isn’t real history is opinions. Those are clearly biased and do not consider everything. It’s really hard to tell what is real history because even opinions can be shared by many people but still not really be the universal truth. For example, the real history of this genocide was that the Armenians were treated like trash that needed to be taken out. That’s clear. What’s also true is that the government is trying to hide their actions.

Posts: 26
  • 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?

What we can tell is that many Turkish human atrocities lead to the Armenian genocide. We can see from photographic records, burial sights, and eye witness accounts, that soldiers were ordered to decimate their populations through starvation and dehydration through their marches in Syria. It doesn't seem contestable after looking through so many sources that it could be called anything other than a genocide, though they may claim that the sheer number of casualties was from a "civil war". Everything previously stated is true, and the only thing that I think is false, is that the Turkish government is not at fault. Its also true that the Turks felt treated by the Armenians as we can't say they're feelings are invalid, as that would make us no better than what they're doing to their victims, we can contest however, the truthfulness of their actions in response to this fear.

Its hard to tell whats true and whats not in almost everything we look at everyday. We must look at history and look at facts to understand whats going on in anything, to then form ones own opinion. In this case, the history the Armenians have to look back on is painful and real, and those who argue this are ill informed/ are hiding something. For something to not be real history would mean that it never existed as everything that happens in a present moment, in an instant becomes the past... real history is something that can be proved with accurate details and accounts that bring that moment back into reality, so people can remember.

Posts: 28

web search response

Looking at the photos, maps, and everything else documenting the Armenian genocide was pretty horrifying. But what shocked me most was the letter in response to St. John Barned-Smith’s letter. The consistent and avid denial of the Armenian genocide by the Turkish government really just does not make any sense to me. There are literally letters detailing the correspondences between the officials, there was Ambassador Morgenthau who wrote to the United States asking for help, and there are PICTURES. “A picture is worth a thousand words”, so why, to the Turkish government, are they worth nothing?

One of the accounts we looked at in class that really grabbed my attention the most was given by an Armenian man in the documentary Twenty Voices. He remarked, “The Turks had carte blanche to do anything they wanted in the city, to arrest, to kill, to rape, to burn, and soon the whole city was in flames.” The Turkish citizens could do whatever they wanted without fear of repercussions because their government backed them completely.

It’s also really astounding that the Turks claim all of the deaths for the Armenians were due to natural conditions while they were “relocated”. Not deported, “relocated”. In response to the letter, the Turkish embassy said that “In international law, for there to be the crime of genocide an “intent” has to be established. There was no intent to destroy the Ottoman Armenians. Circumstances created a drastic situation which led to a very unfortunate human tragedy.” This is OBVIOUSLY not the whole story.

The Turkish government needs to admit to the crimes against humanity they committed in the past, and inform their citizens of what really occurred: a genocide.

Otto von Bismarck
Posts: 30

Armenian Genocide (I'm sorry Mr. Gavin I completely forgot we had to write up a post on this)

After looking at the sources provided in class, I've realized that the Armenian Genocide, while undeniably earning its title, is also cursed with just the right conditions so that the label of genocide can be twisted, misconstrued, or denied. What I mean by this is that while a deeper look at events reveals that the Turks did have an eradication of a people as their motive, there are many superficial things that also went on during the massacres that can be pointed to as proof that the genocide was not, in fact, a genocide. Things in this category include the fact that Armenians also attacked Turkish officials before WWI, as well as resisting in some instances during the war (although, understandably, people who are being genocide-ed might be pissed off enough to want to fight back). With the Turks being able to tie some of this in with the potential for Armenia allying with Russia during the war to fight internally against the Ottomans, and there are all parts of the formula for a denial of a genocide.

As I've already touched upon this, the claims that the Turks had that they weren't responsible for a genocide, and that the Armenians killed were just individual tragedies who died during deportations, is a complete fabrication. Evidence and statements from leaders exist that show that the destruction of Armenians were clearly on their minds, and what photographs remain further provide evidence for the atrocities that were carried out by soldiers and common Turks with the backing of the government.

Thus, real history is the Armenian narrative of what happened, along with perhaps very small sections from the Turkish point of view. While in most cases we must consider the viewpoints of all to fully grasp what happened, in this particular instance, where the voice of the Armenians have been suppressed for decades, they ought to be given preference. Statements from leaders, photographs, survivor testimonies, and records of the actions taken by Turkish soldiers all exist to prove the fact that there was a genocide. The survivors and those who died should be honored with official recognition.

Posts: 27

Armenian Struggle

The Armenian genocide was completely erased and many nations refuse to acknowledge it happened due to Turkey’s intervention. The Armenians were slaughtered and the entire world held its breath as people were being starved to death or deported by foot or executed for no apparent reason. Even America knew of the genocide but the nations in the nearby area refused to get involved.

Most of what was told on the Armenian side seems to be true but the Turkish government contorts what really happened and labels it a war when most likely it was a genocide. The Turkish government has even brainwashed its people to believe the same propaganda they’ve been spotting since the genocide occurred.

Real history is the truth. The truth without any embellishments and most of the time real history is more gray than it is white and black. It usually is a lot more complex and confusing than what we understand things to be. Fake history would be the opposite of this. It is a fairytale or what we want things to be rather than what actually happened. It’s hard to tell the difference but with photos, first hand accounts, and video we can decipher what truly happened even if certain people don’t want the world to know. In this case the Turkish government is trying to hide the fact of what happened but we have evidence that their story is false.

Posts: 16

Armenian Genocide

I personally think it is clear that what happened to the Armenian Christians under the young turks rule was a genocide. Seeing the images of many starving children with bloated stomachs and dead bodies lined up was extremely heartbreaking. Noyemzar Alexanian a Armenian survivor shared her personal experience of seeing the men and boys of her community being taken and killed. That is just another clear example that the genocide was planned out and executed by the soldiers. I think these images and personal accounts need to be shared especially with those who deny it happened. I had never heard of the Armenian genocide before learning about it in Facing. After reviewing the documents, the relocation of Armenians was not for their own well beings as some like to believe. It was instead a tactic to kill Armenians without the Turks having blood directly on their hands. It is hard to believe that Turkey still denies the Armenian genocide. And that that will most likely never change because children in Turkish schools are not being taught what really happened. I think “real history” is not necessarily what is accounted for in history books. Real history can be distinguished by personal accounts, witnesses and documents. It may be hard at times to distinguish real from fake history but it is quite clear that the Armenian genocide occurred and needs to be acknowledged by many.

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