posted on Jan, 29 2005 @ 06:50 AM
Seeing as there is worldwide attention dealing with the anniversery of the liberation of Nazi death camps, I 'd like to bring about the attention of
an earlier genocide that took place during World War 1 that nobody admits or knows about.
The Armenians, a christian (mostly orthodox) minority without a state, had lived for centuries under the opressive but otherwise tolerable rule of the
Ottoman (Turkish Sunnite Muslim) Empire. As the political structure of the Sultanate became decrepit and failed, slavic, greek, arab and armenian
nationalism grew up under its boot, menacing what many Turks saw as the "frame of the turkish nation". European pressure and local rebbellions
shrunk the Empire, giving place to the "Young Turks" ultra-nationalist (and somewhat fascist) movement. The entrance of Turkey in World War I
against England, France and czarist Russia (a traditional protector of Orthodox Christians) gave its government the excuse to turn on a hated,
prosperous and educated minority to wipe it form the face of the land. Souns familiar? Read more.
On the night of April 23-24, 1915, Armenian political, religious, educational, and intellectual leaders in Constantinople (Istanbul) were arrested,
deported into Anatolia, and put to death. In May, after mass deportations had already begun, Minister of Internal Affairs Talaat Pasha, claiming that
the Armenians were untrustworthy, could offer aid and comfort to the enemy, and were in a state of imminent rebellion, ordered ex post facto their
deportation from the war zones to relocation centers — actually the barren deserts of Syria and Mesopotamia. The Armenians were driven out, not only
from areas near war zones but from the length and breadth of the empire, except in Constantinople and Smyrna, where numerous foreign diplomats and
merchants were located. Sometimes Armenian Catholics and Protestants were exempted from the deportation decrees, only to follow once the majority
belonging to the Armenian Apostolic Church had been dispatched. Secrecy, surprise, and deception were all part of the process.
The whole of Asia Minor was put in motion. Armenians serving in the Ottoman armies had already been segregated into unarmed labor battalions and were
now taken out in batches and murdered. Of the remaining population, the adult and teenage males were, as a pattern, swiftly separated from the
deportation caravans and killed outright under the direction of Young Turk agents, the gendarmerie, and bandit and nomadic groups prepared for the
operation. Women and children were driven for months over mountains and deserts. Intentionally deprived of food and water, they fell by the thousands
and the hundreds of thousands along the routes to the desert. In this manner the Armenian people were effectively eliminated from their homeland of
several millennia. Of the refugee survivors scattered throughout the Arab provinces and the Caucasus, thousands more were to die of starvation,
epidemic, and exposure. Even the memory of the nation was intended for obliteration, as churches and cultural monuments were desecrated and small
children, snatched from their parents, were renamed and given out to be raised as non-Armenians and non-Christians.
The following excerpt from a report of the Italian consul-general at Trebizond typifies the hundreds of eyewitness accounts by foreign officials:
The passing of gangs of Armenian exiles beneath the windows and before the door of the Consulate; their prayers for help, when neither I nor any other
could do anything to answer them; the city In a state of siege, guarded at every point by 15,000 troops in complete war equipment, by thousands of
police agents, by bands of volunteers, and by the members of the "Committee of Union and Progress"; the lamentations, the tears, the abandonments,,
the imprecations, the many suicides, the instantaneous deaths from sheer terror; the sudden unhinging of men's reason; the conflagration; the
shooting of victims in the city; the ruthless searches through the houses and in the countryside; the hundreds of corpses found every day along the
exile road; the young women converted by force to Islam or exiled like the rest; the children torn away from their families and from the Christian
schools and handed over by force to Moslem families, or else placed by the hundreds on board ship in nothing but their shirts, and then capsized and
drowned in the Black Sea and the River Deyirmen Dere — these are my last ineffaceable memories of Trebizond, memories which still, at a month's
distance, torment my soul and almost drive me frantic.
Henry Morgenthau, Sr., the American Ambassador to Turkey at the time, tried to reason with the Young Turk leaders and to alert the United States and
the world to the tragic events, but, except for some donations for relief efforts, his actions were in vain. His description of the genocide begins:
The Central Government now announced its intention of gathering the two million or more Armenians living in the several sections of the empire and
transporting them to this desolate and inhospitable region. Had they undertaken such a deportation in good faith, it would have represented the height
of cruelty and injustice. As a matter of fact, the Turks never had the slightest idea of reestablishing the Armenians In this new country....The real
purpose of the deportation was robbery and destruction; it really represented a new method of massacre. When the Turkish authorities gave the orders
for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to the whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me,
they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact.
Ambassador Morgenthau concluded: "I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no terrible episode as this."
Estimates of the Armenian dead vary from 600,000 to two million. A United Nations Human Rights Subcommission report in 1985 gives the figure of "at
least one million," but the important point in understanding a tragedy such as this is not the exact and precise count of the number who died —
that will never be known — but the fact that more than half the Armenian population perished and the rest were forcibly driven from their ancestral
homeland. Another important point is that what befell the Armenians was by the will of the government. While a large segment of the general population
participated in the looting and massacres, many Muslim leaders were shocked by what was happening, and thousands of Armenian women and children were
rescued and sheltered by compassionate individual Turks, Kurds, and Arabs.
Although the decimation of the Armenian people and the destruction of millions of persons in Central and Eastern Europe during the Nazi regime a
quarter of a century later each had particular and unique features, there were some striking parallels. The similarities include the perpetration of
genocide under the cover of a major international conflict, thus minimizing the possibility of external intervention; conception of the plan by a
monolithic and xenophobic clique; espousal of an ideology giving purpose and justification to racism, exclusives, and intolerance toward elements
resisting or deemed unworthy of assimilation; imposition of strict party discipline and secrecy during the period of preparation; formation of
extralegal special armed forces to ensure the rigorous execution of the operation; provocation of public hostility toward the victim group and
ascribing to it the very excesses to which it would be subjected; certainty of the vulnerability of the targeted groups (demonstrated in the Armenian
case by the previous massacres of 1894-1896 and 1909); exploitation of advances in mechanization and communication to achieve unprecedented means for
control, coordination, and thoroughness; and the use of sanctions such as promotions and incentive to loot or, conversely, the dismissal and
punishment of reluctant officials and the intimidation of persons who might consider harboring members of the victim group.
*Fixed Caps Lock Title*
[edit on 29-1-2005 by dbates]