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Armenian GenocideAnthony Peter LunsfordHistory 240: World War IMay 5, 2018
1The Armenian Genocide is often accepted to have been the first modern genocide. Estimates have reached 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children being either murdered, forced into labor, or deported to face starvation. Generally believed to have started on April 24, 1915, the Armenian Genocide was due to a collapsing Ottoman Empire. During this volatile timein history and with the outbreak of WWI, the Ottoman Empire entered on the side of the Central Powers, which opened the Middle Eastern theatre.1On December 24, 1914, Enver Pasha who was at the time, Ottoman Minister of War, developed a plan to surround and demolish the Russian Caucasus Army.2This was in order to regain land that was previously lost to the Russians after the Russo-Turkish War. The Ottoman forces were ill prepared to face the larger Russian Army and were nearly decimated in the battle. The defeat was placed on the shoulders ofArmenian population and used as a weapon to provoke the application of the genocide.3To this day the Turkish still vehemently dispute any suggestion that the Ottoman forces perpetrated a genocide. The atrocities of the Armenian Genocide caused the near extinction of the Armenian population, a step back in Armenian culture and intellectualism, and the international communities lack of widespread condemnation helped to make the Holocaust viable for Nazi Germany in WWII.The term genocide and its implementation in worldwide law can be traced back to the horrors faced by the Armenian population in Turkey during WWI.4Nearly 75% of the Armenian population was wiped out in just 9 years by the Ottoman government through a systematic 1 Christopher J. Walker, Armenia: The Survival of a Nation, (London: Croom Helm, 1980,) 200–032 David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East. (New York: H. Holt, 2001), 119.3 Dadrian Vahakn, The History of the Armenian Genocide. Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to eh Caucasus, (Berghahn Books, Oxford, 1995), 3-6.
2extermination.5The wiping out of the Armenian people was closely linked to the events of WWI,as mass atrocities and genocide are often carried out in the circumstances of war. Due to the expectation that the Armenians would join the invading Russians, the Ottoman Empire started to deport them from the northeast border territories in the spring of 1915.6In the following months, the deportation was expanded to include nearly all regions of the Empire.Red Sunday, a term that often refers to the deportation of Armenian intellectuals was the first major event to take place during the Armenian Genocide. Leadership in the Armenian community in the capital, Constantinople, were taken into custody and relocated to holding centers near Ankara.7This mass deportation was ordered on April 24, 1915 by Talaat Pasha, Minister of the Interior.8That first night, the first wave of intellectuals was arrested, which included around 235 people.9