— The Erimtan Angle —

‘Marking 100 years since the Armenian massacres, euronews met with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan in the capital Yerevan. Here we spoke of Armenia’s place in the modern world, Armenian-Turkish relations and the recognition of the killings by Turkey. euronews’s Olaf Bruns asks “President, these days your country commemorates atrocious events, an unspeakable suffering that happened to your people. And even 100 years later, the wounds still seem deep. What is your message to the world?” (22 Apr 2015)’.

The many Muslim refugees from the Russian Empire and the Balkans that swamped into Ottoman Anatolia towards the end of the 19th and in the early years of the 20th centuries apparently convinced the Unionist leaders in Istanbul that transforming the Ottoman heartland into a homeland for different ethnic groups unified by their adherence to the Muslim faith was a feasible and even desirable goal. Eric Bogosian puts it like this: “It would be a mistake to think of the Ottoman leaders [or the Unionists, 1908-13) who engineered the mass destruction of the Armenians during World War I as nothing more than bloodthirsty barbarians . . . the leaders of the Ottoman Empire, the key figures in the Committee for Union and Progress [or the Unionists], specifically Talat Pasha, Enver Pasha, Doctor Behaeddin Shakir and associates such as Ziya Gokalp, were urbane Europeans. They saw the world through European eyes and understood very well European law. To be sure, the eradication of the Armenian people from their homelands was a massive and terrible bloodletting, but it was not the product of a breakdown of civilization. Instead it was, like the Holocaust that would follow only 25 years later, a centrally organized, criminal act planned and prosecuted by wily and callous political leaders”.[i]  Or alternatively, like the extermination (or genocide) of the Herero and Nama in today’s Namibia (also known as the Kaiser’s Holocaust) between 1904 and 1907. In fact, Raphael Lemkin, the “inventor” of the noun genocide, had originally been investigating the links between colonialism and mass murder . . .

As the Ottomans under the Unionists appear to have been avid practitioners of the concept of deutsche Gründlichkeit (or German fastidiousness or efficiency), they also targeted other Christian minorities at the time, as explained by the Seyfo Center’s Rebecca Simon in the clip below.

[1] Eric Bogosian, “Stealing a page from Big Tobacco and climate-change deniers: How Armenian genocide denialists get away with it” Salon (29 April 2015). http://www.salon.com/2015/04/29/stealing_a_page_from_big_tobacco_and_climate_change_deniers_how_armenian_genocide_denialists_get_away_with_it/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow.

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