Frequently Asked Questions: Research

30 What does the research say about this subject?
31 Is there a consensus among the scholars about the massacres being a genocide?
32 Are there scholars who believe that the massacres were not a genocide?
33 Can the Armenian genocide be compared with the Jewish one?
34 What literature is available for those who want to read about the genocide?
35 Are there Internet sites where you can read more about the Armenian Genocide?
36 How accessible are the Turkish archives and what have been found there?
37 How accessible are the archives in Armenia and what is their relevance in the issue?
38 If one accuses Turkey for not allowing access to their archives, how do we then know so much about the genocide?
39 What did the contemporary world know about the genocide?
40 Is there any Swedish research on the subject?
41 What does the Swedish archival sources say about the genocide?
42 How can the Turkish historians among themselves have such differing views about the genocide?
43 Why not set up a commission which Turkey proposes to find out what happened?
44 Is Hitler's quote "Who today remembers the extermination of the Armenians" authentic?
45 How is a genocide implemented?


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30 What does the research say about this subject?

The events in the Ottoman Empire during WWI are in fact today, next to the Holocaust, the most researched case of genocide. Research about the 1915 genocide is now days carried out in several countries and within different disciplines. To mention just a few of the most prominent experts in the field who agree that the events were a genocide one can name historians Yehuda Bauer, Yair Auron, Henry Huttenbach, Eric Weitz, Kurt Jonassohn, Yves Ternon, Richard Hovannisian and Ronald Suny; political scientists Robert Melson, Roger Smith and Colin Tatz; sociologistsHelen Fein, Vahakn N. Dadrian, Eric Markusen and Israel Charny (even a psychologist); lawyers Raphael Lemkin (father of today's Genocide Convention, see question 64), William Schabas, Alfred de Zayas, Roger W. Smith and Gregory Stanton. In addition, one should also include the Turkish scholars Taner Akcam and Fatma Muge Gocek (sociologists), Ugur &Uml;mit &Uml;ngör (historian) and Baskin Oran (political scientist).


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31 Is there a consensus among the scholars about the massacres being a genocide?

International Association of Genocide Scholars (International Association of Genocide Scholars, IAGS), an independent world leading and interdisciplinary authority in the field, has on several occasions ruled a consensus, namely: June 13, 1997 June 13, 2005 and 5 October 2007. The text of the resolution from July 13, 2007 is as follows:

WHEREAS the denial of genocide is widely recognized as the final stage of genocide, enshrining impunity for the perpetrators of genocide, and demonstrably paving the way for future genocides;

WHEREAS the Ottoman genocide against minority populations during and following the First World War is usually depicted as a genocide against Armenians alone, with little recognition of the qualitatively similar genocides against other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire;

BE IT RESOLVED that it is the conviction of the International Association of Genocide Scholars that the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the Empire between 1914 and 1923 constituted a genocide against Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontian and Anatolian Greeks.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Association calls upon the government of Turkey to acknowledge the genocides against these populations, to issue a formal apology, and to take prompt and meaningful steps toward restitution.


The original text and several other resolutions are available at IAGS website: www.genocidescholars.org


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32 Are there scholars who believe that the massacres were not a genocide?

Yes, there are. But their limited number can be compared with the ratio of researchers who recognize the Holocaust and those who deny it. Basically, you can divide those who reject the massacres as genocide in three groups:
1. Turkish historians active in Turkey, connected to the Turkish state, who more or less categorically deny that any massacres have even taken place. Among them we can mention Yusuf Halacoglu, the former Chairman of the Turkish historical society.
2. Researchers affiliated with the "Institute for Turkish Studies" (ITS) in Washington DC, funded by the Turkish state through its embassy in the United States. Famous names among these scholars, often used as references in denial of the 1915 genocide are Heath Lowry and Justin McCarthy. Other names are Stanford Shaw, teacher of both the Lowry and McCarthy, and Andrew Mango.
3. Scholars who argue about the uniqueness of the Holocaust, so-called "singularists" who claim that there is a single case of genocide, namely the Holocaust. These scholars do not deny the massacres, but believe that the 1915 genocide, as well as other genocides during the 20th century, can not measure up to the Holocaust's magnitude and are therefore not qualified to be called genocide. Famous names among these researchers are Steven T. Katz, Lucy Dawidowicz and Geunter Lewy.


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33 Can the Armenian genocide be compared with the Jewish one?

Genocide Studies is in fact a highly suitable area for comparative studies, where one can compare various events in order to identify the characteristics of genocide, but also see if there are features that distinguish one case from the other. Two genocide cases which are compared quite often with each other are the Armenian and the Jewish cases. While the denialists abuse this comparison by merely pointing out the differences between the Holocaust and the Armenian case, the majority of the scholars point out the similarities. There is also a third group, so-called singularists, who believe that there is only one "real" case of genocide which lives up to the term's definition, namely the Holocaust. This latter group asserts that all other cases, including the Armenian, fall short of the conditions that characterize a genocide. Notwithstanding, the majority of the scholars believe that it would be downright incorrect to use the Holocaust as a yard stick, precisely because of its special features, making it the "genocide paradigm". To this end, Robert Melson asserts that the Holocaust actually becomes less useful as a comparative model for other genocides, whereas the Armenian genocide, ironically enough, is a much better example. Ideology, objective and implementation in the Armenian case makes it better suited for the study of other genocides.[16]
Even the historian Yehuda Bauer argues that the concept of genocide becomes more fitting when talking about the Armenian case, while the Holocaust should be used in e.g. the Jewish case where the goal was to exterminate every Jew.[17]
It is this elevation of the Holocaust to the ultimate case, which often forms the basis for misinterpretation by others. This not only implies that the Holocaust becomes the is genocide with capital G, but sometimes genocide is also simply equal to the Holocaust. For the same reason the historian Klas-Göran Karlsson criticizes Holocaust studies since they "are subject to strong, standardized intellectual, moral and political constraints which have made the resulting research products empirically quite detailed and homogeneous."[18]


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34 What literature is available for those who want to read about the genocide?

A search in any university library search engine or online on the words "genocide", "1915 genocide" or "Armenian Genocide" will result in several pages consisting of several hundred hits. Some selected literatures are presented under "Articles" and "Literature" in our Research section.


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35 Are there Internet sites where you can read more about the Armenian Genocide?

The following are some of the major Internet sites with information about the Armenian genocide:
1. Armenica.org, www.armenica.org, Armenia's history and its related issues.
2. Armenian National Institute, www.armenian-genocide.org, information site that is dedicated entirely to the Armenian Genocide,
3. Armenian Genocide Museum, www.genocide-museum.am, State Museum and research institution in the Armenian capital Yerevan,
4. Zoryan Institute, www.zoryaninstitute.org, which is dedicated exclusively to the Armenian Genocide.
5. Living History Forum, www.levandehistoria.se, Swedish agency that works on behalf of the government and educates the Swedish society, inter alia, about the 1915 Genocide.
6. Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota,www.chgs.umn.edu, Centre for Education and research on the Holocaust and other genocides.
7. Seyfo Center, www.seyfocenter.se, dedicated to Assyrian Genocide in 1915.


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36 How accessible are the Turkish archives and what have been found there?

Claims that the Turkish archives being open and accessible is far from true. They are open, but mostly only for Turkish scientists and researchers who are well-disposed towards the Turkish state interests. One of the few who have had access to the Turkish archives is the Armenian scholar Ara Sarafian, recognized as an expert in the area. However, he has been offered limited access to the Ottoman archives. In addition, he points out that the figures used to confirm that a large number of Armenian deportees survived are questionable. His study showed that these statistics were actually not about Armenian refugees, but, surprisingly enough, about Muslim refugees who fled the Russian front during 1915-16. In an article he described his time in the archives as follows: The Turkish archive authorities reserve the right to hold on to all documents and only grant access to some. The contents of the documents are read in advance before they are handed out to the researcher and the archive authorities can decide not to deliver the material. The researcher can be denied access simply because 1) the document in question is outside the field of the researcher's declared field of study; 2) the documents cannot be found; 3) the material that they have found is too fragile or 4) the material is under special treatment (whatever that means). Not long after he had left Turkey, the authorities announced that he was persona non grata in the archives and for a while even refused him entry visa to Turkey. The same applied to his German colleague Hilmar Kaiser.[19]
Since that some researchers have been granted access to the archives, even though quite limited.
In addition, the research points out that the Young Turks, aware of the consequences of a possible defeat in the war, planned and implemented the genocide using couriers and through verbal orders to leave the smallest possible trace. This fact has been proved by several studies, but also in reports that e.g. Sweden's military attaché, Einar af Wirsén, reported in his memoirs.[20] Another factor to consider is how many relevant documents that could have remained today in these archives. It is hardly likely that the Turkish state, while implementing its ardent denialist policy why keeping scholars out of the archives would have not searched and got rid of the most incriminating evidences which could damage Turkey's interests.


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37 How accessible are the archives in Armenia and what is their relevance in the issue?

The immediate question one should ask prior to this claim is what the Armenian archives would contain about a genocide, implemented by the neighboring state which could disprove the reality of the genocide? However, if we put this into the dynamics of denials of the genocide, as appears this argument becomes one of the cornerstones of a genocide denial: by accusing the victim the perpetrator wants to get the discussion about the genocide astray, wasting time on irrelevant issues, clearing oneself by blaming the victim. In addition, one should remember that there was no Armenian state until 1918, i.e., long after the genocide have had its toll, let alone a functioning state archive that would contain relevant information about the genocide. And how would the Armenian archives contain any information that would contradict the reality of the genocide? This argument is the latest in the denial strategy that the Turkish state has put forward and developed to suit the circumstances of the past 90 years.


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38 If one accuses Turkey for not allowing access to their archives, how do we then know so much about the genocide?

Even if we have not had full access to the Turkish archives, the research has been able to gather an abundance of documents in the German, Austro-Hungarian, English, French, US and other countries' archives, all of which verify the genocide's historical reality. Even if one would dismiss the French, English and American data as war propaganda (which Turkey is doing as part of her denial strategy) then the same accusations could hardly be valid in regard to the documents and reports from Turkey's own former allies, i.e. Germany and Austria-Hungary. Sociologist and historian Vahakn N. Dadrian, perhaps the foremost expert in the field, has therefore deliberately based the bulk of his research on Turkish, German and Austro-Hungarian sources and excluded the Armenian and Allied sources, which could more easily be accused of being biased. However, these documents too verify the reality of the genocide in a clear manner. In addition, Dadrian researched the records of the trials that took place between 1919-1921 against Turkish military and political leaders who were indicted for war crimes. These Turkish documents reveal a lot of the planning and implementation of the genocide. In addition, we now days also have numerous documents from neutral countries' archives, such as the Swedish, which also confirm the historical reality of the genocide (see question 41).


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39 What did the contemporary world know about the genocide?

The existing research clearly shows that the international community was well aware of the ongoing annihilation policy in the Ottoman Empire. This is e.g. evident in Swedish sources. In addition to numerous news articles that appeared in Swedish newspapers, there were pamphlets, memoirs and flyers published belonging to Swedish and other missionaries and field workers who personally witnessed the events on site. In addition, new research at Uppsala University has revealed extensive reporting on the ongoing genocide documented in the Department of Foreign Affairs (preserved in the National Archives) and also in the Military Archives (see question 41).


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40 Is there any Swedish research on the subject?

Nowadays there are actually quite a broad Swedish research on the subject. Several Swedish scholars have researched and written books on the subject: historian David Gaunt, Kristian Gerner, Klas-Göran Karlsson, Maria Karlsson and Vahagn Avedian; theologians Goran Gunner and Svante Lundgren and lawyer and international law expert Ove Bring. Gaunt and Lundgren have mainly researched the genocide's impact on the Assyrians/Syriacs and how these communities suffered during and after World War I. Bring's research has highlighted the Armenian genocide from the legal perspective of international law. Gunner's work has mainly dealt with the missionaries' work, before, during and after the genocide, but also the diplomatic knowledge of the genocide. Klas-Göran Karlsson and Gerner's research is about genocide and authoritarian rules while Maria Karlsson's research has primarily focused on genocide denial. Avedian's research focuses primarily on the aftermath and the legacy of the genocide and development of the Armenian question into the present time.


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41 What does the Swedish archival sources say about the genocide?

Research in the Swedish archives have found a variety of relevant documents. A number of selected quotations from those are presented below:
1.Anckarsvärd, July 6, 1915: "Mr. Minister, The persecutions of the Armenians have reached hair-raising proportions and all indications point to the fact that the Young Turks like to take this opportunity, while from different reasons no effective pressure is to be feared, to once and for all put an end to the Armenian question. The means for this are quite simple and consist of the extermination of the Armenian nation."
2.Anckarsvärd, July 22, 1915: "It is not only Armenians, but also Turkish subjects of Greek nationality who currently are subjected to severe persecution. It could, according to Mr. Tsamados [Greek chargé d'affaires], not be anything else than a war of extermination against the Greek nation in Turkey."
3.Anckarsvärd, September 2, 1915: "The six so-called Armenian Vilayets are reportedly totally cleared from at least Armenian-Catholic Armenians. It is obvious that the Turks seek this opportunity, now during the war, to exterminate the Armenian nation, so that when peace comes no Armenian question longer exists."
4.Wirsen, May 13, 1916: "The state of health in Iraq is appalling. Typhus fever claims numerous victims. Armenian persecutions have greatly contributed to the disease spreading, since they are driven out and hundreds of thousands have died of hunger and deprivation along the roads."
5.Anckarsvärd, January 5, 1917: "The situation, however, could have been quite different if Turkey had followed the Central Powers' advice to entrust them the internal organization of provisioning and similar issues too. Worse than this, however, is the eradication of the Armenians, which might have been prevented if German advisers in time had received the same power over the civil administration as the German officers actually exercise over army and navy."
6.Envoy Ahlgren, August 20, 1917: "The rise of prices continues. It has several causes: [...] and finally the strong decline in production due to reduced labor caused partly by the mobilization and partly also by the extermination of the Armenian race."
7.Wirsen, from "Memories of Peace and War" (1942), chapter "Murder of a Nation": "[the deportations] had officially the goal to move the entire Armenian population to the steppe areas in northern Mesopotamia and Syria, but in reality they were intended to exterminate the Armenians. The annihilation of the Armenian nation in Asia Minor must upset all human feelings. It is without doubt the biggest crimes committed in recent centuries. The way in which the Armenian question was resolved was hair-raising."
8.Hjalmar Branting, March 26, 1917: "The documents state clearly that this is not about abuse of subordination, but there is the issue of an organized and systematic genocide [folkmord], worse than we've ever seen before to Europe. This has been applied on the entire population of the region, massacring them, driving the survivors into the desert in the hope that they shall not endure, but their bones shall crumble in the desert sand. This genocide stands out among all the horrors of the war in regard to the quantity of the victims and the systematic wildness of its execution without precedent. When we read about it, it iced our hearts, really seriously iced our hearts."


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42 How can the Turkish historians among themselves have such differing views about the genocide?

In principle, Turkish scholars in the field are split into two camps: one that is directly linked to the Turkish state, whose researchers are active in Turkey or institutions abroad linked to the state and who deny the genocide. The second group consists of Turkish scholars mostly working outside Turkey, conducting research at foreign universities and colleges. Among the well-known Turkish names in this category we find Taner Akcam, who lives in exile in the United States, (sentenced in 1976 to eight years in prison for having criticized situation of the Kurds in Turkey) and historian Ugur Umit Ungor (active at Utrecht University, The Netherlands).


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43 Why not set up a commission which Turkey proposes to find out what happened?

There are two reasons why a similar requirement should be considered redundant: 1) to pursue an "independent" commission (see question 68) would to give the impression that the research so far has been biased or at best bipolar, i.e., Armenians against the Turks, which is completely incorrect (see questions 30 and 32). Among the hundreds of scholars who openly call the massacres in the Ottoman Empire for genocide, the Armenian academics are a relative small minority. The result, calling the events a genocide, is thus as independent it can ever be (see also question 31). 2) Why should we have to invent the wheel all over again? To waste time on this issue is indeed part of the denialist policy. By calling for "more research" to be "entirely sure what happened" and the eternal search for the "ultimate proof" enables the perpetrator to detract from existing research and facts. It would be equal to appointing a commission consisting of genocide scholars and Holocaust deniers to re-contemplate the events of World War II to see whether the Holocaust took place or not. Today, there is a solid international and interdisciplinary research (see question 30) on the Armenian Genocide, which means that the question of its reality has long since been answered. While it is important to maintain that the research (as well as in the case of the Holocaust) must continue, we need to move on learning more about other aspects of the events and their dynamics, not to go back to square one. Denial is also done by the perpetrator abusing the outside world's sense of fair play, which calls for a well justified need to listen to the other party's version. However, by carefully placed excuses and evasions the perpetrator rather attempts to hide than reveal relevant facts. An interesting fact is that denial does not require any proof, but only a requirement to reassess the story. The requirement of proof thus falls on someone else.[21] See also question 68 in regard to just such a commission.


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44 Is Hitler's quote "Who today remembers the extermination of the Armenians" authentic?

This quote is argued from the Turkish side only be an "Armenian fabrication." It has however been verified by Dr. K.B. Bardakjian at Harvard University in 1985. He found it in secret notes, written by the German Admiral Wilhelm Canaris during Hitler's speeches.[22] Adolf Hitler gave his speech on August 22, 1939 in Obersalzberg to his commanders in regard to the upcoming attack on Poland. In his speech, the following sentences found: "Our strength should be in our speed and ruthlessness. I have ordered our special forces within the SS to cross the Polish border and kill its men, women and children indiscriminately. After all, who will now remember the annihilation of the Armenians?" The quote was also published in the Times on November 24, 1945 as an excerpt from the trial of Herman Goering.


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45 How is a genocide implemented?

Gregory H. Stanton, Professor of Law, has divided the genocide process into eight distinct steps that describe the different phases of a genocide:
1.Classification: The first step is to identify the target group by classifying the society into "we" and "them". By distinguishing between Turks and Armenians, Germans and Jews or Muslims and Christians, the separation will simplify the victim group's identification.
2.Symbolization: Here you name the the classified groups. That all Jews had to sew the Star of David on their clothing is an example of this step.
3.Dehumanization: Many communities go so far as symbolization, but it is not until the dehumanization that the risk of genocide arises. By dehumanizing a group one overcomes the unwillingness to commit murder. Here the propaganda machinery is used to spread this message.
4.Organization: Genocide is always an organized action, usually by a state. Usually there are special troops and units trained to carry out genocidal massacres when the trauma is too large for ordinary soldiers or officers to be able to cope with. In the Armenian case, the state had virtually emptied all the prisons of murderers, rapists and other criminals who, after a week of military training were put into special battalions under the leadership of Teshkilati Mahsusa (Turkish: special organization), which is most comparable to the Einsatzgruppen in the Nazi SS outfit.
5.Polarization: Extremist groups run the involved groups apart by spreading hate message and establish special regulations such as banning marriage between the different groups.
6.Preparation: The target group members are singled out, usually isolated in ghettos, sent to concentration camps or expelled to uninhabited famine regions.
7.Destruction: The mass murders begin. It is now that the massacres are legally called "genocide". These are regarded as "extermination" by the perpetrators because they do not regard the target group as humans.
8.Denial: This is the eighth and final stage that always follows a genocide. The perpetrators do everything to hide the genocide, blaming the victim for what has taken place, prevent investigations and continue to reign until they are forced to flee from justice.[23]


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16) Melson, Robert F., Revolution and Genocide, On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust, Chicago, 1992, p. 252
17) Bauer, Yehuda,Rethinking the Holocaust, Virginia, p. 58.
18) Karlsson Klas-Göran, The Holocaust as a paradigmatic Genocide, paper presented as part of the research project The Holocaust and European Historical Culture, Roskilde, 2007, p. 2.
19) Sarafian, Ara, The Ottoman Archives Debate and The Armenian Genocide, Princeton, 1999, pp. 40-41, 43.
20) of Wirsen, Einar,Memories of peace and war, Stockholm, 1942, p. 226. See also Dadrian, Vahakn N., The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus, Berghahn, 2004, p. 289, 384-385.
21) 13 Charny, Israel W.,Encyclopedia of Genocide, vol. 1, Oxford, 2000, p. 160; Dadrian, Vahakn N., The Key Elements in the Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide: A Case Study of distortion and falsification, Toronto, 1999, pp. 1-2.
22) K. B. Bardakjian, Hitler and the Armenian Genocide, Cambridge, MA: Zoryan Institute, 1985.
23) Stanton, Gregory H., Eight Stages of Genocide, Department of State, Washington, 1996.

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