Oct 12 2007
The Genocide That Must Not Be Forgotten
POSTED: 9:54 am EDT October 12, 2007
UPDATED: 10:16 am EDT October 12, 2007
The Turkish government continues to deny that the Armenians were the
victims of genocide at the hands of the Turks.
It happened in the early years of the 20th century — and historians
have documented the horrors of that time.
The tragic events of 1915-1923 are evoked again by the vote of a U.S.
House committee condemning the mass slaughter of Armenians in World
War II as an act of genocide. The action by the House so upset Turkey
it has recalled its ambassador to the United States for
"consultations." In the language of diplomacy, that’s how a nation
voices displeasure, though it’s not as severe as withdrawing an
In the years 1915-1918, human rights historians say, the first
genocide of the 20th century took place when 2 million Armenians
living in Turkey were driven from their homeland. For 3,000 years, an
Armenian community had flourished near the Black, Mediterranean and
Caspian seas. The area was known as Asia Minor.
In the throes of a violent upheaval in Turkey in World War I, many
thousands of Armenians were slaughtered by Turkish nationalists.
Indeed, a decision was made at a high level to annihilate the entire
Armenian population. An estimated 1.5 million were killed.
Though the Turkish government still denies it ever happened, there
are ample eyewitness reports of what occurred. Men, women and
children were corralled. Some were executed immediately. Others were
tortured with devices modeled on those used in the Spanish
Inquisition. There were death marches in which thousands of Armenians
were forced to walk hundreds of miles into the deserts of Syria and
many perished on the way.
Henry Morgenthau Sr., grandfather of Manhattan District Attorney
Robert Morgenthau, was the American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire
and helped tell the world what was happening.
Those atrocities were inflicted by Turkish officials a century ago.
The current leadership of that nation had nothing to do with it.
What’s strange is that, in the minds of Turkish officials today, it
remains such a searing issue. It’s as though they have a lingering
guilt complex. President Bush says the vote could harm U.S.-Turkish
relations. The Turkish president Abdullah Gul said that some American
politicians "have once again sacrificed important matters to petty
A few survivors of the Armenian genocide, in wheelchairs, were on
hand when the House committee met. They were bearing witness to a
tragedy they saw as children. It’s easy to understand why members of
America’s Armenian community, of all ages, share this memory. For
every Armenian family, the genocide is part of their history.
When Adolf Hitler was trying to persuade his aides that a Jewish
holocaust was no big deal, he said: "Who, after all, speaks today of
the annihilation of the Armenians?"
An editorial in the New York Times said that the slaughter of the
Armenians was the 20th century’s first genocide and that it set an
example for Hitler, and more recently, the Hutu leaders of Rwanda and
What’s perplexing — and infuriating — is that the Turks don’t get
it. Why can’t they come to terms with their country’s past?
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress