Armenian Genocide Reaffirmed
Guest Column Petros I. Komodromos
Very often Jewish people and the world, excluding neo-Nazis, remember and honor the victims of the Holocaust with memorial events and activities. Imagine how insulting and provocative it would be if a neo-Nazi had appeared at such events denying the Holocaust and making blatant claims about its victims. Fortunately, most Germans have acknowledged wrong-doing and regret those horrible atrocities, allowing for the healing of the wounds of World War II.
Although less publicized, April 24 is the memorial day of the Armenian genocide, the world's first state-organized cleansing of its citizens in this century. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million of the 2.1 millions Armenians were systematically massacred by the Ottoman Turkish government. The only crimes that the Armenians had committed were their ethnicity and Christian religion, and a culture which allowed them to prosper, despite the oppression imposed upon them for hundreds of years by the Ottomans. For the same reasons, Ottomans had completely destroyed the Hellenic civilization, burning and destroying for 400 years what took thousands of years to create and which constituted an essential contribution to Western civilization.
Most countries and international organizations, except Turkey, have acknowledged the Armenian genocide. However, there was no International Court set to punish and condemn those responsible for that massacre, and, unfortunately, history soon repeated itself. On May 11, 1918, Theodore Roosevelt stated (of World War I): "The Armenian massacre was the greatest crime of the war". Thirty years later, Adolf Hitler, inspired by the Armenian genocide and trying to persuade his fellows that the Jewish Holocaust would be tolerated by the world community asked: "Who after all speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?" The rest of that story is well known to everyone.
Later, Turkey committed more crimes against humanity by ethnically cleansing Constantinople (now called Instanbul) of Greeks (1955) and, more recently (1974), by invading and occupying Cyprus for 24 years, against numerous United Nations and other international organizations' resolutions.
A letter in The Tech on April 24 by Varouj A. Chitilian '98, entitled "Armenian Genocide Remembered," was published to honor and inform people about that crime. On April 28, Sevgi Ertan '98 replied with a letter entitled "Genocide Denied," denying the genocide committed against Armenians.
Whether the Armenian genocide indeed occurred or whether 1.5 million people happened to be hit by a meteorite is something that even a primary school child can verify in any library of any civilized country. There are plenty of documents that prove beyond any doubt the extent of the Armenian holocaust.
The genocide was condemned by all major powers and neutral observers at that time, including Turkey's allies: Germany and Austria. The U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, H. Morgenthau, reported in 1919: "When the Turkish authorities gave the order for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole raceŠ I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as thisŠ The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared to the sufferings of the Armenian race."
However, Ertan closes his eyes and, among other inconceivable and absurd allegations against the victims of the genocide, writes, "Armenian civilians were not massacred. They were deported out of AnatoliaŠ [and] in these marches some Armenian people died."
However, 1.5 million people is not "some"! Instead of feeling shame for the crimes of his ancestors, he tries to misinform by distorting the facts and blaming the victims. According to Ertan, the Armenians were not massacred. Perhaps, they were merely offered a vacation trip by the kind Turks, which included many entertaining services, such as starvation, continuous rapes, slaughter, torture and the beheadings of even women, children, and the elderly. The unfortunate few who survived the long trip were burnt alive in the caves of the Deir Zor Syrian desert.
A "German version" of Ertan's response denies the Holocaust and claims that the Nazis simply offered the Jews free vacations to fine European resorts with sauna facilities. Whether you feel anger about Ertan's disrespect for the victims of the Armenian genocide or simply feel sorrow for his ignorance is your decision.
The writer is a graduate student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.