Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day

By: Elizabeth Pownall  

On April 24, 1915, Ottoman authorities rounded up Armenian intellectuals, religious and political leaders in Constantinople, or modern-day Istanbul, executing most of them. The killing expanded into massacres of the male Armenian population across the Ottoman Empire. At the orders of Talaat Pasha, an estimated 800,000 to 1.2 million Armenian women, children, and elderly people were sent on death marches to the Syrian Desert. The deportees were deprived of food and water and were dispersed into concentration camps in the desert. This continued as the Turkish nationalist movement carried out massacres and ethnic cleansing of Armenian survivors during the Turkish War of Independence after World War I. 

The Young Turks – Talaat Pasha, Djemal Pasha, and Enver Pasha – were the leaders of the Ottoman Empire and the creators of the Armenian Genocide. In the end, three out of every four Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed. The nation was ethnically cleansed of Armenian, Assyrian and Greek minorities. 

The Armenian Genocide is thought to have been a precedent set for the German Holocaust. The “Young Nazis”: Adolph Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Rudolf Hoess, emulated the Young Turks. According to historian Sefan Ihid, in his book Justifying Genocide, the Nazis viewed post-1923 Turkey, essentially cleansed of Armenians, as a post genocidal paradise and “incorporated the Armenian genocide, its ‘lessons’ tactics and ‘benefits’ into their own world view”. The Young Nazis saw how easy it was to focus blame on an ethic minority and rationalize their murder.