The first genocide of the twentieth century. From 1915 to 1923, the Young Turk government of The Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey) murdered 1.5 million Armenians and drove another 1 million from their native homeland of centuries. It should be noted that the figure of 1.5 million killed is the number that is accepted by most historians. More conservative estimates have it at 1 million but some figures go as high as 1.9 million.

The plan was simple. Setting: World War I. The Ottomans are at war with the Russian Empire. The Christian Armenians, already the victims of extreme discrimination by the Muslim Ottoman Empire, are targeted again, this time accused of being pro-Russian. In 1908, the revolutionary Young Turk party had launched a campaign supposedly dedicated to reviving the dying Ottoman Empire and ending hostilities towards its minorities. For this reason, they had the support of the Armenians and were subsequently elected that year. Soon, however, their real plans for the Armenians surfaced. Secretly, the Young Turk government had long ago decided that the Armenians were a threat to the attempts to Turkify the populations to the east (now the Caucasus) and therefore they were to be exterminated. For this reason, and under the guise of "relocating" the civilian population away from areas where they could "aid the Russians", the entire population was sent on what was effectively a forced death march towards the deserts of Syria. The tragedy began on April 24, 1915. Hundreds of Armenian leaders were murdered in Constantinople (Istanbul) after being summoned and gathered. From then on, across the Empire, the same events transpired from village to village, from province to province. Thousands at a time were deported to neighboring countries such as Syria, and during these marches were where the bulk of the deaths occured. Turkish prison inmates were released from jail to lead these travels. The Armenians were beaten, raped, tortured, kidnapped, starved, and murdered. Those who miraculously survived these would often be killed upon arrival into the Syrian desert.

Though these events are well-documented and there was much coverage of the genocide at the time, the world has slowly forgetten what happened nearly a century ago. It doesn't help that to this day, Turkey has the gall to deny it ever happened. This is known as revisionist history. Despite overwhelming evidence including original telegrams, pictures (especially those of German Armin T. Wegner), Armenian and non-Armenian (odar) accounts (including the now-published Ambassador Henry Morgenthau's Story, who was the US ambassador to the Empire at the time), Turkey claims that it was no more than a civil war. A civil war which seems to have claimed the lives of more women, children, and elderly than it did able-bodied men. Luckily, however, an ever-increasing number of countries have officially recognized this crime against humanity. This list includes, but is certainly not limited to, Great Britain, Russia, Canada, Greece, Argentina, Uruguay, Belgium, Cyprus, Lebanon, and most recently, France. It has also been mentioned in two United Nations reports. The partial story of the struggle to obtain recognition in the USA can be found in Remember the Armenians.

Armenians will never forget and will never accept denial. On April 24th, every year, Armenians around the world gather to commemorate the Genocide.

"Go on. Kill without mercy. Who now, after all, speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?" - Adolf Hitler addressing his troops before the invasion of Poland.

I am saddened to see that Turkey's misinformation campaign has leaked into Everything2. "Pasa"'s (now-deleted) writeup in this node spreaded the now-defunct, revisionist views which are still held true by the Turkish government: that the Armenian Genocide never happened, and we might even have it backwords.. the Armenians perpetrated the genocide against the Turks! Pasa's claims such as "(the Armenians killed) 100000s of Turks" are not supported by any evidence and yet are presented as fact. His story is mostly refuted in the Armenian Genocide FAQ.

On a broader note, the Turkish government is desperately trying to keep the attempted annihilation of the Armenian people as a "topic under debate", while more and more Western countries recognize the Genocide every year. Fear of having to compensate the victims of the Genocide keeps Turkey from acknowledging the crime of their ancestors, showing a great lack of respect to those who perished in the massacres. The compensation that Turkey fears is not only monetary compensation, but also the possibility of having to return the territory of Western Armenia, where 3 million Armenians once flourished as a community, but was nearly devoid of the Christian minority after the "mysterious events" that transpired during World War I. This land is now a part of Eastern Turkey under the Treaty of Kars, signed in absence and without the approval of Armenian officials.

For more information, please visit:

I have no qualms with mauler's writeup, but have to question the phrase, "Arnold Toynbee's figure of 600,000 dead has become the figure most widely cited by scholars seeking an objective estimate". This is a little misleading. Having read many, many documents on the issue, I can say that the figure of "600,000" deaths is usually preceeded by "at least" or "over". That is to say, this figure is presented as the low-end estimate of the number of deaths. A quick internet search will support this assertion.

How many Armenians died during the Genocide of 1915?

This is perhaps the most hotly debated question in the extremely heated debate surrounding the Armenian genocide of 1915-1916. A major part of the problem is that nearly all scholars who have studied the genocide in depth are either Turkish or Armenian or have strong sympathies for one side or the other. On one hand the debate seems pointless, because whether the death toll was hundreds of thousands or millions that is still a huge amount of dead people, either way. But for a debate in which the terms have become almost as hotly contested as the facts, numbers take on a heightened importance. If the toll was in the low hundreds of thousands, Turkish claims of a civil war become a little more plausible, while death tolls in the millions would clearly point to an event much more genocidal in character.

The standard figures favored by the Turks (when they do not deny the incident outright) are 200,000 at the low end, and 600,000 at the high end. The Turkish government has frequently cited Young Turk leader Talaat Bey's original estimate that some 300,000 Armenians had died during the deportation. Armenian scholars favor figures between 1 million and 2 million, with the majority favoring an estimate of 1.5 million.

In attempting to get at the truth behind these wildly divergent figures, historians ask two questions. First, how many Armenians were there living in Anatolia in 1915? Since there were virtually no Armenians in eastern Turkey by the end of 1916, if the original number can be established we would have an upper limit on the number of deaths. Second, where were these Armenians in 1916 - dead, fled, or in hiding? Surely the Turks did not kill every last Armenian, but did they kill most of them, or only a few?

The answer to the first question is unclear. No modern, systematic census was taken in Turkey until 1927, although vague and dramatically divergent estimates were variously reported by the Ottoman government, Armenian institutions such as the Patriarchate, and assorted European observers. In 1896, the Ottoman government recorded 1,144,000 Armenians living in Anatolia out of a total population of 13,241,000, although the counting system was unrefined. Armenian scholars like to cite estimates recorded by the Armenian Patriarchate, which variously claimed between 1,845,000 to 2,100,000 Anatolian Armenians just prior to 1915. Some tentative recent estimates, based on statistical analyses of Turkish government records, place the total Armenian population at roughly 1,500,000. These rough numbers suggest that the highest estimates of the death toll are unlikely, because they would require basically every last Armenian to have been killed.

The answer to the second question is even murkier. There were absolutely no records of any kind kept by either Turks or Armenians of the final dispositions of the deportees, dead or otherwise. It is possible that many Armenians successfully fled to Russia or elsewhere, or escaped persecution by concealing their ethnic identity. It is also possible that the Turks were as thorough as the Armenians claim, but the utter lack of statistics, reliable or otherwise, precludes an assessment of any confidence. More objective scholars have tended to reject Turkish and Armenian figures outright, and have searched for figures recorded by an independent observer.

The only such person they found was Arnold J. Toynbee, who served an intelligence officer for the British Foreign Office during the war. Writing at the end of 1916, based on what data he could find (which was likely very sketchy), Toynbee estimated that there had been 1.8 million Armenians living in Turkey before the war. Of these 1.8 million, Toynbee concluded that approximately 600,000 died or were murdered during deportation, 600,000 more escaped into exile, and another 600,000 either escaped notice or went into hiding within Turkey itself. Because he is the only source of apparent objectivity writing close to the events, Toynbee's figure of 600,000 dead has become the figure most widely cited by scholars seeking an objective estimate. While the method Toynbee used to derive these figures was extremely crude, his figures seem to jive with reasonable estimates of the total Armenian population and the maximum number that could have been killed. While 600,000 deaths is not as many as Armenian partisans interested in exacerbating Turkish guilt would like to find, it is still an incredibly large number. Killing off fully one third of a population of nearly 2 million in about two years time is still an atrocity of great proportion, and almost certainly qualifies as genocide.

Ultimately the only thing that can be said for certain, in a debate that has raged for almost a century now, is that the true death toll will never be conclusively known.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.