In 1915, the Ottoman government, then run by the Young Turks, deported most of its Armenian citizens from their eastern Anatolian lands. According to reliable estimates, close to forty percent of the prewar population perished, many in brutal massacres. Armenians call it the first genocide of the twentieth century. Turks speak of an instance of intercommunal warfare and wartime relocation made necessary by the treasonous conduct of their Armenian minority.
The voluminous literature on this tragic episode of World War I is characterized by acrimony and distortion in which both sides have simplified a complex historical reality and have resorted to partisan special pleading.
The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey examines the rich historical evidence without political preconceptions. Relying on archival materials as well as eye-witness testimony, Guenter Lewy avoids the sterile “was-it-genocide-or-not” debate and presents a detailed account of what actually happened. The result is a book that will open a new chapter in this contentious controversy and may help achieve a long-overdue reconciliation of Armenians and Turks.
Before World War I, the ancient city of Van in southeastern Anatolia had a population of approximately 100,000 people, while the population of Van Province was about 500,000. Armenians formed a large minority, with Kurdish tribes and Turks in the majority.
The Armenian Rebellion at Van presents a long-overdue examination of Van from the 1870s to 1919. As the authors state, "The Armenian Revolt was an integral part of the great disaster that overcame the people of the Ottoman East. The slaughter of Muslims that accompanied the Armenian revolt in Van Province inexorably led first to Kurdish reprisals on the Armenians, then to a general and mutual massacre of the people of the East."
The actions at Van offer a window into the far-reaching events that soon followed in other parts of Anatolia.
In the midst of World War I, the Ottoman government forcibly removed many of its Armenian citizens from their eastern Anatolian lands. While recognizing the controversy and tragedy of the events of 1915 that led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Armenians, author Yücel Güçlü refrains from accepting the genocidal label that other scholars have assigned the episode.
Güçlü bases his claim largely on evidence from state and military archives in Turkey, Britain, France, and the United States that look specifically into the Ottoman version of history, placing the whole question of forced population displacements in a wider and more nuanced perspective than that in which it is usually depicted. According to the author, revolutionary Armenian forces were threatening the Ottoman Empire from within as it was simultaneously threatened by external forces. Armenians were also actively involved with Allied forces throughout World War I. In response, the Ottoman government ordered the movement of the Armenian population away from protected and sensitive war zones. The actions taken by the Ottoman Empire to control the Armenian population were those of relocation, not extermination.
Working to explain why the Armenian conflict emerged and how it was eventually resolved, this book discusses the Armenian revolutionary and separatist movements, Turkish measures of self defense, and Allied schemes regarding the region during the period. It places special emphasis on the influence of Allied forces on the actions of Armenians in Cilicia.
A Turk’s discovery that Armenians once thrived in his hometown leads to a groundbreaking investigation into the local dynamics of genocide.
Ümit Kurt, born and raised in Gaziantep, Turkey, was astonished to learn that his hometown once had a large and active Armenian community. The Armenian presence in Aintab, the city’s name during the Ottoman period, had not only been destroyed—it had been replaced. To every appearance, Gaziantep was a typical Turkish city.
Kurt digs into the details of the Armenian dispossession that produced the homogeneously Turkish city in which he grew up. In particular, he examines the population that gained from ethnic cleansing. Records of land confiscation and population transfer demonstrate just how much new wealth became available when the prosperous Armenians—who were active in manufacturing, agricultural production, and trade—were ejected. Although the official rationale for the removal of the Armenians was that the group posed a threat of rebellion, Kurt shows that the prospect of material gain was a key motivator of support for the Armenian genocide among the local Muslim gentry and the Turkish public. Those who benefited most—provincial elites, wealthy landowners, state officials, and merchants who accumulated Armenian capital—in turn financed the nationalist movement that brought the modern Turkish republic into being. The economic elite of Aintab was thus reconstituted along both ethnic and political lines.
The Armenians of Aintab draws on primary sources from Armenian, Ottoman, Turkish, British, and French archives, as well as memoirs, personal papers, oral accounts, and newly discovered property-liquidation records. Together they provide an invaluable account of genocide at ground level.
France is the only Western European nation home to substantial numbers of survivors of the World War I and World War II genocides. In the Aftermath of Genocide offers a unique comparison of the country’s Armenian and Jewish survivor communities. By demonstrating how—in spite of significant differences between these two populations—striking similarities emerge in the ways each responded to genocide, Maud S. Mandel illuminates the impact of the nation-state on ethnic and religious minorities in twentieth-century Europe and provides a valuable theoretical framework for considering issues of transnational identity. Investigating each community’s response to its violent past, Mandel reflects on how shifts in ethnic, religious, and national affiliations were influenced by that group’s recent history. The book examines these issues in the context of France’s long commitment to a politics of integration and homogenization—a politics geared toward the establishment of equal rights and legal status for all citizens, but not toward the accommodation of cultural diversity.
In the Aftermath of Genocide reveals that Armenian and Jewish survivors rarely sought to shed the obvious symbols of their ethnic and religious identities. Mandel shows that following the 1915 genocide and the Holocaust, these communities, if anything, seemed increasingly willing to mobilize in their own self-defense and thereby call attention to their distinctiveness. Most Armenian and Jewish survivors were neither prepared to give up their minority status nor willing to migrate to their national homelands of Armenia and Israel. In the Aftermath of Genocide suggests that the consolidation of the nation-state system in twentieth-century Europe led survivors of genocide to fashion identities for themselves as ethnic minorities despite the dangers implicit in that status.
The Armenian Genocide and the Nazi Holocaust are often thought to be separated by a large distance in time and space. But Stefan Ihrig shows that they were much more connected than previously thought. Bismarck and then Wilhelm II staked their foreign policy on close relations with a stable Ottoman Empire. To the extent that the Armenians were restless under Ottoman rule, they were a problem for Germany too. From the 1890s onward Germany became accustomed to excusing violence against Armenians, even accepting it as a foreign policy necessity. For many Germans, the Armenians represented an explicitly racial problem and despite the Armenians’ Christianity, Germans portrayed them as the “Jews of the Orient.”
As Stefan Ihrig reveals in this first comprehensive study of the subject, many Germans before World War I sympathized with the Ottomans’ longstanding repression of the Armenians and would go on to defend vigorously the Turks’ wartime program of extermination. After the war, in what Ihrig terms the “great genocide debate,” German nationalists first denied and then justified genocide in sweeping terms. The Nazis too came to see genocide as justifiable: in their version of history, the Armenian Genocide had made possible the astonishing rise of the New Turkey.
Ihrig is careful to note that this connection does not imply the Armenian Genocide somehow caused the Holocaust, nor does it make Germans any less culpable. But no history of the twentieth century should ignore the deep, direct, and disturbing connections between these two crimes.
During the last half century of its existence, the Ottoman Empire and the lands around its borders were places of constant political turmoil and unceasing military action. The enormous costs of war were paid not only by politicians and soldiers, but by the Ottoman civilian population as well. This book examines the hardships that ordinary people, Muslim and Christian alike, endured during decades of warfare.
Jeremy Salt brings to the surface previously ignored facts that disrupt the conventional narrative of an ethno-religious division between Muslim perpetrators and Christian victims of violence. Salt shows instead that all major ethno-religious groups—including Armenians, Turks, Kurds, and Greeks—were guilty of violent acts. The result is a more balanced picture of European involvement in the Ottoman Empire and the Balkans, one that highlights the destructive role of British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and other European leaders grabbing for Ottoman resources up to the end of World War I. The effects of these events are felt to the present day.
This extraordinary story centers not on military campaigns but on ordinary civilians whose lives were disrupted and in many cases destroyed by events over which they had no control. Disease, malnutrition, massacre and inter-communal fighting killed millions of people during the First World War alone. Until now this epic saga of human suffering has remained a story largely untold.
The Resistance Network is the history of an underground network of humanitarians, missionaries, and diplomats in Ottoman Syria who helped save the lives of thousands during the Armenian Genocide. Khatchig Mouradian challenges depictions of Armenians as passive victims of violence and subjects of humanitarianism, demonstrating the key role they played in organizing a humanitarian resistance against the destruction of their people. Piecing together hundreds of accounts, official documents, and missionary records, Mouradian presents a social history of genocide and resistance in wartime Aleppo and a network of transit and concentration camps stretching from Bab to Ras ul-Ain and Der Zor. He ultimately argues that, despite the violent and systematic mechanisms of control and destruction in the cities, concentration camps, and massacre sites in this region, the genocide of the Armenians did not progress unhindered—unarmed resistance proved an important factor in saving countless lives.
Sasun, a region of Anatolia formerly under Ottoman rule and today part of eastern Turkey, is frequently recounted in history books as the site where, in 1894, the Turks murdered anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 Armenian Christians. News reports at the time detailed that gruesome acts, including torture, had occurred at Sasun at the hands of the Ottoman army. The Ottoman Empire denied these allegations. A commission of European delegates sent to investigate the matter concluded that the news reports were highly exaggerated, yet the original stories of atrocities have persisted. This volume provides a close examination of the historical evidence to shed light on what really happened at Sasun. The authors’ research indicates that the stories circulated by the media of torture and murder in Sasun don’t hold up against the findings of the European investigators though they were motivated by sympathy with Armenian Christians. Evidence instead showed that an Armenian revolt had led to fights with local Kurds and much smaller numbers of deaths, on both sides. The conflict had largely subsided before the arrival of the Ottoman army on the scene.
Driven by persecution and poverty from their ancestral lands, thousands of Armenians fled to the New World before World War I. But their hearts and minds remained in part on the Old World with their persecuted countrymen in Turkey and their aspirations for a free Armenia.
This first comprehensive study of the Armenian American community examines the rich background, the patterns of migration and settlement in the New World, the complex economic and social adjustments, the family life, and the religious and political institutions of the newcomers. The author shows that the experience of the Armenians differed from that of other contemporary immigrant groups from Southern and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean in two critical respects: they were rapidly successful in business and agriculture in the first generation, and they were tormented by their history and politics. Of particular interest is his trenchant, detailed analysis of the Armenian revolutionary parties in the United States: their formation and structure, their fundraising and propaganda activities, and their resort to terrorism.
Lucidly written, this study is an important account of the Armenian American community, which is today the largest Armenian community outside Soviet Armenia.
Explore pilgrimage routes, epigraphy, and the history of writing with an expert guide
From the late 1970s through 1982, Michael E. Stone conducted a number of expeditions to the Sinai peninsula, searching for ancient inscriptions. In this book Stone describes his search, crowned by the discovery of the most ancient Armenian inscriptions known. Here Stone describes not only the inscriptions discovered along his journeys but also the Sinai, its past and present, its human inhabitants, its flora and fauna, and its history. Though once common, well-informed travel books to the Middle East with a broad academic interest and a specific focus have become rare. Stone’s diary of his expeditions in the Sinai fill this gap with vivid descriptions, poetry, and illustrations.
A collection of essays about Armenian identity and belonging in the diaspora.
In the century since the Armenian Genocide, Armenian survivors and their descendants have written of a vast range of experiences using storytelling and activism, two important aspects of Armenian culture. Wrestling with questions of home and self, diasporan Armenian writers bear the burden of repeatedly telling their history, as it remains widely erased and obfuscated. Telling this history requires a tangled balance of contextualizing the past and reporting on the present, of respecting a culture even while feeling lost within it.
We Are All Armenian brings together established and emerging Armenian authors to reflect on the complications of Armenian ethnic identity today. These personal essays elevate diasporic voices that have been historically silenced inside and outside of their communities, including queer, multiracial, and multiethnic writers. The eighteen contributors to this contemporary anthology explore issues of displacement, assimilation, inheritance, and broader definitions of home. Through engaging creative nonfiction, many of them question what it is to be Armenian enough inside an often unacknowledged community.
The years 1908 to 1918 are frequently viewed as the period when the Ottoman Empire fell into decline, but in this volume, Feroz Ahmad argues that the Empire was not in decline but instead had come face to face with a widespread process of decolonization. Its colonies, stimulated by the idea of nationalism, sought to liberate themselves, sometimes with the help of the Great Powers of Europe, who in turn saw these rebellions as an opportunity to expand their own empires. While these ethno-nationalist movements have often been described in terms of Ottoman oppressor versus conspiring nationalists, here they are presented as part of a broad historical process.
Ahmad holds that nationalism was introduced into the Ottoman Empire during the French Revolution, providing kindling for the struggles that later emerged. Setting the stage with this nineteenth-century background, Ahmad then examines each Ottoman nationality in the wake of the restoration of the Ottoman constitution in 1908. Officially known as the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), the Young Turks made up a nationalist political party that ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1908 until the end of World War I. Ahmad illuminates the relationships and conflicts between the Young Turks and the Greek, Armenian, Albanian, Jewish, and Arab ethnic groups during this period. Placing these nationalities in their historical context, he shows their relationships not only to the Young Turks but also to one anotherno other single book has attempted to look closely at all of these connections.
Anyone interested in understanding the roots of current-day relations in the Balkans and Middle East will find this book very informative. Clearly organized and written, the book will enlighten both readers and scholars.