The Armenian Genocide The Armenian
Genocide was carried out by the "Young Turk"
government of the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1916
(with subsidiaries to 1923). One and a half
million Armenians were killed, out of a total of
two million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.
Most Armenians in America are children or
grandchildren of the survivors, although there
are still many survivors amongst us.
Armenians all over the world commemorate this
great tragedy on April 24, because it was on
that day in 1915 when 600 Armenian leaders,
writers, thinkers and professionals in
Constantinople were rounded up, deported and
killed. Also on that day in Constantinople,
5,000 of the poorest Armenians were butchered in
the streets and in their homes.
The Armenian Genocide was masterminded by the
Central Committee of the Young Turk Party
(Committee for Union and Progress [Ittihad ve
Terakke, in Turkish]) which was dominated by
Mehmed Talat [Pasha], Ismail Enver [Pasha], and
Ahmed Djemal [Pasha]. They were a racist group
whose ideology was articulated by Zia Gokalp,
Dr. Mehmed Nazim, and Dr. Behaeddin Shakir.
The Armenian Genocide was directed by a
Special Organization (Teskilati Mahsusa) set up
by the Committee, which created special "butcher
battalions," made up of violent criminals
released from prison.
Some righteous Ottoman officials such as Ali
Souad Bey and Yousouf Zia Bey were dismissed for
not complying with the extermination campaign.
Any common Turks who protected Armenians were
The Armenian Genocide occurred in a
systematic fashion, which proves that it was
directed by the Turkish government.
First the Armenians in the army were
disarmed, placed into labor battalions, and then
Then the Armenian political and intellectual
leaders were rounded up on April 24 and killed.
Finally, the remaining Armenians were rounded
up, told they would be relocated, and then
marched off to concentration camps in the desert
between Jerablus and Deir ez-Zor where they
would starve and thirst to death in the burning
On the march, often they would be denied food
and water, and many were brutalized and even
killed by their "guards" or by "marauders." The
authorities in Trebizond, on the Black Sea
coast, did vary this routine: they loaded
Armenians on barges and sank them far out at
The Turkish government today denies that
there was an Armenian genocide and claims that
Armenians were only removed from the "war zone."
The Armenian Genocide, however, occurred all
over Anatolia [present-day Turkey], and not just
in the so-called "war zone." Deportations and
killings occurred in the west, in and around
Ismid (Izmit) and Broussa (Bursa); in the
center, in and around Angora (Ankara); in the
south-west, in and around Konia (Konya) and
Adana (which is near the Mediterranean Sea); in
the central portion of Anatolia, in and around
Diyarbekir (Diyarbakir), Harpout (Harput),
Marash (Maras), Sivas (Sepastia), Shabin Kara-Hissar
(Sebin Karahisar), and Ourfa (Urfa); and on the
Black Sea coast, in and around Trebizond (Trabzon),
all of which are not part of a war zone. Only
Erzeroum, Bitlis, and Van in the east were in
the war zone.
The Armenian Genocide was condemned at the
time by representatives of the British, French,
Russian, German, and Austrian governments --
namely all the major Powers. The first three
were foes of the Ottoman Empire, the latter two,
allies of the Ottoman Empire. The United States,
neutral towards the Ottoman Empire, also
condemned the Armenian Genocide and was the
chief spokesman in behalf of the Armenians.
The American people also did the most to save
the wretched remnants of the death marches, the
Despite Turkish denial, there is no doubt
about the Armenian Genocide. For example, German
ambassador Count von Wolff-Metternich, Turkey's
ally in World War I, wrote his government in
1916 saying: "The Committee [of Union and
Progress] demands the annihilation of the last
remnants of the Armenians and the [Ottoman]
government must bow to its demands.
Henry Morgenthau Sr., the United States
ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, sent a cable
to the U.S. State Department in 1915:
"Deportation of and excesses against peaceful
Armenians is increasing and from harrowing
reports of eye witnesses [sic] it appears that a
campaign of race extermination is in progress
under a pretext of reprisal against rebellion."
Only one Turkish government, that of Damad
Ferit Pasha, has ever recognized the Armenian
genocide. In fact, that Turkish government held
war crimes trials and condemned to death the
major leaders responsible.
The Permanent People's Tribunal recognized
the Armenian Genocide in 1984.
The European Parliament voted to recognize
the Armenian Genocide in 1987.
President Bush issued a news release in 1990
calling on all Americans to join with Armenians
in commemorating the Armenian Genocide on April