Truth can depend on who you ask to tell it. What we can historically document is the closest we can come to the absolute truth. Even then, time can change what is considered the truth. One such event was the Armenian Genocide of the early 20th century before Hitler came to power.
What really happened? That is the real question.
The Truth of the Genocide
Those that point toward genocide against the Armenians as an actual historical event use the fact that the deportation was not executed in a manner that was designed to save the Armenians. They were given no more than three days’ notice that they were to be moved along a route that forced the Armenians to walk without provisions of any kind. There was no place to rest out of the weather, and no food or drink was provided along the way. If they did not have it with them when they were forced from their homes, they had to live without it if they lived at all.
Most of the deportees did not make it to their final destination. According to one Turkish historian, starvation and executions were planned out by the government in order to rid the earth of all Armenians. The Armenians had been thriving successfully in the region and the Ottoman wanted to have it all for themselves and ‘purify’ the nation. Hind-sight shows how this would pave the way for a new form of massacre that would be employed by Adolf Hitler as it was not a direct extermination of a people. It became a dangerous game of semantics that is still being played today.
Deportation or Genocide?
Turkey’s stance is very strong as they use the word ‘genocide’ as a political bargaining tool. When countries use the term to refer to the ‘deportation’ period of the Armenians, Turkish representatives declare that relations between Turkey and those that view the acts as genocide will be damaged. They deny the events happened and refuse to concede even a little that the intent of the Ottoman government was to destroy the Armenians.
During the late 1900s and the early part of the twenty-first century, nations have moved toward officially recognizing the events as genocide at the risk of relations with Turkey. When America moved to recognize the genocide for the events, Turkey opposed the acts threatening to break relations with the super power. Turkey was an important strategic player in the war against Iraq during President George Bush’s term. Without Turkey’s full cooperation, America would find themselves at a huge disadvantage including that of having its citizens and military personnel being placed in danger.
“Armenian Genocide.” United Human Rights Council. Accessed February 15, 2013. http://www.unitedhumanrights.org/genocide/armenian_genocide.htm
“Armenian ‘genocide’ dispute.” BBC New Europe. January 24, 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16699192.
BBC, “Armenian Genocide part 3,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= AhpvnL1YjdI&playnext=1&list=PL05CD46A253C290B5&feature=results_video.
BBC. “BBC Documentary: Armenian Genocide — ‘The Betrayed’ — part 1/5.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FI8PP0JnsW0.
BBC. “BBC Documentary: Armenian Genocide — ‘The Betrayed’ — part 2/5.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiKXODoO8oo.
“House Bill on Armenian Genocide Angers Turks.” NPR. October 11, 2007. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15180113.
Kevorkian, Raymond H. Armenian Genocide: A Complete History. London: IB Tauris, 2011. http://site.ebrary.com/lib/apus/Doc?id=10486784&ppg=816.
Parsons, William S. and Samuel Totten. Century of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts. New York: Routledge, 2009.
Smith, Roger W., Erick Markusen and Robert Jay Lifton. “The Armenian Genocide and Turkey’s Attempt to Deny It.” Armenian National Committee of America. http://www.anca.org/genocide/denial.php.