A Century of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts

By Samuel Totten; William S. Parsons et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2

The Armenian Genocide

ROUBEN PAUL ADALIAN

Between the years 1915 and 1923 the Armenian population of Anatolia and historic West Armenia was eliminated. The Armenians had lived in the area for some 3000 years. Since the 11th century, when Turkish tribal armies prevailed over the Christian forces that were resisting their incursions, the Armenians had lived as subjects of various Turkish dynasties. The last and longest-lived of these dynasties were the Ottomans, who created a vast empire stretching from Eastern Europe to Western Asia and North Africa. To govern this immense country, the Ottomans imposed a strictly hierarchical social system that subordinated non-Muslims as second-class subjects deprived of basic rights. In its waning days, with the empire in decline and territorially confined to the Middle East, the Ottoman leaders decided that the only way to save the Turkish state was to reduce the Christian populations. Beginning in April 1915, the Armenians of Anatolia were deported to Syria and the Armenian population of West Armenia was driven to Mesopotamia. Described euphemistically as a resettlement policy by the perpetrators, the deportations, in fact, constituted and resulted in genocide. In the end, after eight years of warfare and turmoil in the region, the Armenians had disappeared from their homeland.


Who Committed the Genocide?

In 1915 the Ottoman Empire was governed by a dictatorial triumvirate. Enver was Minister of War. Talaat was Minister of the Interior. Jemal was Minister of the Navy and military governor of Syria. All were members of

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