The start of the Armenian genocide occurred in the year 1913 and extended all the way through 1916 which involved the Turks and Armenian people taking place in the Ottoman Empire. Throughout history, attempts to gain control over land has been a major cause of destruction and mass targeting of groups of people in the efforts to retain powerful empires and kingdoms throughout history. The loss of the Ottoman Empire’s land to the west brought the leaders of the Turkish people in the Ottoman Empire to a conclusive plan of uniting all who have Turkic ancestry and similar Muslim beliefs, which would begin their actions to extend a united empire from Bosphorus to Central Asia.
Firstly, with the climate and physical descriptions of the Armenian region, which are those containing desert-like similarities such as hot and dry areas with miniscule bodies of water in or around close proximity to central land, these people thrived for many years in the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire, which includes Historic Armenia, was bordered and surrounded by Greece and Bulgaria, Iraq, Syria, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Black Sea, with the Armenian region being southeast of the Black Sea and west of the Caspian Sea.
Furthermore, a famous historian claims in his historical research that, “the ottoman government instituted massacres, indeed a policy of attempted extermination and thus genocide” (Varnava 534), which was published in his writing in Historical Research. This proven fact makes clear that the attempt to remove the Armenian people from the Ottoman Empire, at any cost, by Turkic leaders was pure prejudice and took advantage of the illiteracy and easily manipulated Muslim Ottomans in order to do their dirty work. This mass killing of the Armenian Christian population was one of the first genocides to happen in the twentieth century, and was the preamble of many historic occurrences to take place in the redistribution of land in this vast empire during the start of this century.
Moreover, the start of the Armenian genocide occurred in the year 1913, which extended all the way through 1916 and involved the Turks and Armenians, taking place in the Ottoman Empire. The loss of the Empire’s remaining European lands in the First Balkan War (1912-1913) has been called the starting point in this entire genocidal act and the beginning of the terrible systematic plan of obliterating any trace of Christian Armenians from this land. This was due to a great antipathy being held against anyone who was not Muslim or in other words, Armenian Christians, by Islamic extremists (Turkic leaders) in the Ottoman Empire. By the early months of 1913, the most militant members of this Turkic Islamic coup, Enver Pasa and Talat Pasa, came to power. The truths and facts of the actions taken by the Turks at this point in time against the innocent Armenian people in this horrendous extermination have been denied and covered up multiple times throughout the years by the Turkish government. Journalist Vahagn Avedian writes in the European Journal of International Law, “There are psychological barriers in Turkey which have largely suppressed the memories of possible wrongdoings during World War I and the ensuing “Independence War” (1). Action taken by the Ottoman Empire’s leading Turkic powers to unite all Turks helped to ignite the hate fueled terrorism against the Armenian people whom were viewed as infidels.
Even though The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) had first offered a chance of cooperation to the Armenians of Eastern Armenia and Transcaucasia, in the year 1914, during a meeting of congress in the province of Erzurum, the Dashnak Party’s leadership denied this offer. Instead, they informed the Turkic leaders that they would defend their respective lands in the wake of a war between the Turkic people and Russia and its allies. Acts of genocide and mass atrocities are often associated with war, and this historic event was no different.
To continue, renowned journalist Alexander Barder quotes the U.S ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau Sr., on his description of the “Turk”, writing, “after painting a psychological portrait of the Turk¬¬ – one, who is a bully and a coward; he is brave as a lion when things are going his way, but cringing, abject, and nerveless when reverses are overwhelming him” (389). This description would soon be found true and disturbing in many cases, due to the horrific and cowardice tactics used by the Turks to systematically hurt and murder the Armenian people in the Ottoman Empire.
In addition, The Turkic people of the Ottoman Empire were the main key to successfully eliminating those (Armenians) who were viewed as inferior and against their beliefs and prosperity. This was necessary in order to fulfill the Turk’s wishes of spreading their own united population throughout this region. August, 1914 was the start of when the leaders of the allied powers (Turkic leaders) and Ottoman authorities began to often use hate filled propaganda, taught in Muslim mullahs and town criers, which labeled Armenians as a threat to national security. This was easily accepted as truth due to the fact that some Armenians supported the Russians during the start of the First World War, which eventually led to the easier manipulation of a vast majority of these Ottoman Turks. Soon, the majority of Turks viewed the Armenian population as spies and traitors of the Ottoman Empire and their Turkic population, which led to the mistreatment of the Armenians and anyone who defended beliefs and views against the Turkic Islamic powers. Being viewed as infidels, the Christian Armenian population were often persecuted and mistreated publicly in the early years leading to the eventual genocide.
Still, the Armenians were constantly mistreated and viewed as inferior to the Turkic people, due to them being more educated, wealthy and involved in political agendas. Whether it was with their related Russian Christians or further foreign nations, they were well aware intellectuals compared to the Turkic Muslims and educated enough to understand the current issues in the world and make their own rational opinions based on published facts in political criers and magazines.
Again, destroying the existence of any Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and/or moving them to another permanent area of living were vital steps to the accomplishment of the Young Turks’ vision of uniting all existing Turks under one empire. This was due to the area of land that the Armenian, non-Turkish people had inhabited throughout their years of living within the empire. The geographical location of the land occupied by the Armenians was viewed as an obstacle to the Turkic powers due to it causing a large separation of their Turkic cousins, who were located in the empire controlled by Russia at this time, stretching all the way to their cousins in Mongolia.
Finally, the start of the planned chaos against the Armenian people began on August 18, which was when the Turkic Muslims of the Ottoman Empire began to publicly assault Armenians and destroy many public shops and markets in the city known as Diyarbekir. These actions then manifested into the large scale drafting of all young and able bodied men into the Ottoman Empire, which was all part of the Young Turks’ leader’s plans to target those who would successfully defend their Armenian population. By the End of August the Empire had violently removed the Norwegian observer Trygve Hoff, which led to the eventual expelling of many western Armenian’s western states’ representatives, except those of their allied powers and the United States of America. This was a very important factor in the plan to fulfill the extermination of the Armenians since it made it more difficult for the Turks’ actions to be made publicly available to anyone who could help defend the innocent people being prosecuted.
By late October, 1914, the formation of hostile groups, known as “Chete” bands, started to assimilate in mass to begin terrorizing innocent Armenian women and children. These bands were formed in order to persuade the Armenians to move away from their homeland and leave at any cost for personal safety. Though, this did not instantly help the Turks’ cause, it did give rise to awareness that the Islamic caliphate had clearly began, and anyone who was not strictly Muslim or an ally to them would be killed, robbed, raped or forced out of their homes by physical force.
Eventually, as mid-November, 1914 came, the mass executions of many Armenian soldiers in the Ottoman army began. At this point, the remaining young Armenian men had realized the real plan of the Muslim Turks in their land. A large quantity of Armenian soldiers who had been disarmed were forced into labor battalions and forced to work for a number of days before being systematically murdered by the treacherous Muslim Turks in the Ottoman army. This was vital and a strategic point in the Young Turks’ systematic attempt at removing the Armenians, due to it being the quickest way to rid the so called “infidels” of anyone who could protect their families, land and religious culture. It is known the main cause of the killing of these Armenian soldiers is due to the failed attempt of Enver Pasa to push back the Russians in the battle of Sarikamis, though many think it still would have happened even if they successfully pushed them back. Next, the formation of more brutal “special units”, also known as Teshkilati Mahsusa, began to be created, which were composed of trained convicted murderers and rapists. These units were used strictly to cause havoc and massacres against the Armenians in mass. With the help of spreading false flag rumors of Armenian citizens violently assaulting other Muslim Turks, it was a simple course of action for these special units to begin violently obliterating the Armenian citizens through any means necessary.
Shortly after, in early April, 1915, Armenian refugees begin to arrive in different provinces away from their homes. Warnings about the cruel treatment and mass killings of thousands of Armenians in the span of a few days began to be spread by these refugees, and it was understood that most of the deaths were from multiple villages in and around the province of Van. By late April, approximately two-hundred Armenian intellectuals and politicians were arrested and within a few months, many of them were executed and displayed in public squares to strike fear into the remaining Armenians. Writer and researcher John Saroyan explains in writing in Peace Review, “it is recorded that on this date in 1915, over two-hundred prominent, educated, and influential Armenian leaders of Constantinople were arrested and soon after were cruelly executed” (1).
Thereafter, in the start of mid-August, it was estimated by Turkic war minister Enver Pasa that a great number of “infidels” had been killed to date, and that much more were to meet their destined location of death. This tactic was then followed by the largest mass deportation of the twentieth century at this time, which was ridden with death marches beginning with the Armenians closest to deserts; their destination being concentration camps in the middle of the desert east of their homes. As a result, many of the Armenians’ property were being stolen and robbed by militias and “special units”. Eventually instructions were given by the now Turkic rulers as to where to send the valuables and money obtained for these goods. Soon, a general order for all Armenian business liquidation is given to the Turkic population, and it is made clear that all Armenian property now belonged to the Turkish state. During the death marches about one-hundred seventy-three thousand were said to have survived, with forty-thousand being counted as having died due to harsh treatment on their march towards the Caucuses.
Finally, at the end of the countless marches of the Armenian “deportees”, it was estimated that over one million Armenians had died due to execution, harsh treatment, heat exposure, or disease. In a very terrible realization, the only reason this horrific tragedy ended was simply because there were no more Armenian citizens left to terrorize and kill. Most survivors were hidden by Greek citizens, and some were simply lucky enough to have survived certain entrapments and escaped with their lives, with a majority of survivors being very young children.
All in all, this harsh reality, proving that some human beings (though many would view them as monstrous animals) would do anything in their willpower to exterminate almost an entire race, is something that cannot be forgotten. Clearly, some humans will go to many extremes to achieve selfish goals and claim power over land and people who are weaker than themselves. Incidents such as these should never be left untold so long as civilized society wishes to live on. It is a hard pill to swallow knowing that such humans exist and thirst for power and control so much that they would go to this tragic extent to commit such a thing as genocide. Given the knowledge of what I have learned throughout my research of this Armenian Genocide, I wish to one day live in a society where we as a human race can learn from our mistakes and prosper together as a whole to benefit us all as one.