Wednesday, June 18, 2014

05 The Armenian Genocide

I continue my quick journey through some key events of the First World War.

People usually think of the First World War as being about soldiers standing in mud filled trenches or being machine-gunned as they advance across French fields. But the war affected civilians too. When Turkey joined in the war on the German side, they launched an offensive against Russia in the Caucasus. This offensive failed badly and soon the Russians were advancing into eastern Anatolia. The Turkish leaders blamed their Armenian minority for these reverses and in 1915 set about dealing with them. Armenian notables in Constantinople were rounded up and killed. Armenians elsewhere in Anatolia were deported to remote desert regions in the south. Many Armenians were murdered on the death marches to Syria while others succumbed to exhaustion. On reaching their destination more were murdered and others left to die of hunger and thirst. The numbers who died have never been definitively established but 1,500,000 is a good ballpark figure.

As far as I know, no one was ever brought to justice for this terrible crime. To this day the Turkish government seeks to downplay these events and deny that they constituted an attempt to exterminate the Armenians of Anatolia.

image source (Wikipedia)

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