Armenian Genocide

Armenian Genocide

David Charlwood
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
This was another of AY’s ‘little surprises’, and I am grateful he sent it to me for review. One of a series published by Pen & Sword under the heading ‘History of Terror’, it covers from original documentation and photographs, the fate of over a million Armenian Christian people during the period 1915-1919. I was aware of this barely-remembered genocide, which is a criminal offence to mention in Turkey, and this book fills in many details.

It’s a quality paperback, printed on decent paper, with many photos, fortunately in black and white, given the subject matter, and answers many questions such as where these people were, why the Turks wanted to be rid of them, how they engineered it and how they fooled foreign allies into believing their motives. Adolf Hitler and the Nazis learned much from this in their treatment of Jewish victims of their regime. Sadly the Armenians are not remembered so widely – perhaps because persecution of Christians is acceptable in the modern world? Within ten years of the ending of the Great War, all intentions to pursue through the courts the murderers and the people who ordered them to march scores of thousands or women and children into the desert and kill them, seem to have vapourised in the realpolitik of scooping up land an power as the Ottoman Empire ended.

I was surprised to see how widely the Armenian people were spread across what we now call Eastern Europe and the Middle East – from Baku in the east to Izmir in the west, Deir-ez-Zor in the south to Tblisi and Samsun, the Black Sea Port, in the North. Most of the remaining population are in Syria, and parts of eastern Europe, not a place that’s been a safe haven in the intervening hundred years.

The author has chosen to put Henry Morgenthau, US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the centre of his retelling of events. He realised what was happening and tried unsuccessfully through diplomatic and charitable channels to stop it. Unfortunately, when the USA entered the war, much of his paperwork was burnt in the Embassy, but his diaries, correspondence and posters in the US raising funds remain, and form a useful archive.

There is a comprehensive bibliography and the author has obviously read widely to produce this book, which is concise, clearly and sympathetically written and very informative.

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