Sunday, 25 January 2015

Armenian News:- The Sunday Times As you reflect on Nazi horrors, remember an earlier holocaust Dominic Lawson 25 January 2015

Among the evidence brought by prosecutors at the Nuremberg war 
crimes tribunal was an account of a speech Adolf Hitler gave in 
Obersalzburg to his generals on the eve of the invasion of Poland, 
to steel them for the atrocities to come. In it the Nazi leader put the 
rhetorical question: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation 
of the Armenians?”

If the intention was to suggest that the slaughter of millions of Polish
Jews and other “inferior races” would be forgotten by history, the 
Führer has been proved wrong. What became known as the Holocaust 
is now seen as one of the defining events of the 20th century. On 
Tuesday we will be reflecting on it with particular intensity, as it marks 
the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration 
camp in Nazi- occupied Poland, where an estimated 1m Jews were 
exterminated: January 27 is commemorated as Holocaust Memorial 

Yet while the continental scale and industrialised efficiency of the 
Nazis’ genocidal campaign against the Jews was unique, there was, 
as Hitler implied, an antecedent: and this year marks its 100th 
anniversary. As the website of Britain’s Holocaust Memorial Day 
Trust points out: “The term ‘genocide’ was first used in 1933, in a 
paper presented to the League of Nations by the Polish lawyer 
Raphael Lemkin. He devised the concept in response to the atrocities 
perpetrated against the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire 
between 1915 and 1918.” The website goes on to explain: “It is 
unknown how many Armenians were murdered in this period but 
estimates range from 1.3m to 1.9m.” 

That would suggest roughly three- quarters of the Armenian race 
were wiped out — a greater proportion than even Hitler managed in 
respect of Europe’s Jewish population. Yet this is a remarkably 
little-known fact. There is a curious inverse relation between this 
genocide and that of the Jewish people. The latter was downplayed 
by the British and American governments while it was taking place, 
largely because President Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Church
ill were concerned not to give the public the faintest reason to 
believe Hitler’s claim that the war was being fought “for the Jews”. 
It was only with the televised trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 that 
the scale and true nature of the Holocaust impinged on public 
consciousness in Britain and America. 

The opposite process happened with the genocide of the Armenian 
people. The shocked US consul in Aleppo in 1915-16 reported in 
dispatches “a gigantic plundering scheme and a final blow to 
extinguish the Armenian race”. Churchill in his 1929 book The World
 Crisis wrote: “In 1915 the Turkish government began and ruthlessly 
carried out the infamous general massacre and deportations of 
Armenians in Asia Minor . . . whole districts were blotted out in one 
administrative holocaust . . . there is no reasonable doubt that this
 crime was planned and executed for political reasons.”

But nowadays the British and American governments refuse to 
attach the word “genocide”, let alone “holocaust”, to what happened 
to the Armenians. This is pure realpolitik. Modern-day Armenia
 — which represents about 10% of the landmass of its historic territory
 — is a poor landlocked country of no great strategic significance. 
Turkey, by contrast, is a vast country, a Nato member of tremendous 
geostrategic importance — and its government has long been intensely 
neuralgic on the Armenian issue.

As the eminent lawyer Geoffrey Robertson pointed out in his recent 
book An Inconvenient Genocide, while the British government 
disingenuously states that it has asked Turkey to work with the 
Armenians “to address their common history”, “this is not possible as 
long as Turkey maintains its obsessive denialism and uses Article 301 
of its Penal Code to threaten those of its citizens who ‘insult Turkishness’ 
by referring to the treatment of Armenians in 1915 as genocide.” Even 
its great novelists, such as Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak, have faced 
prosecution under Article 301, the latter when some of her fictional 
characters spoke about the genocide.

It is not as if the current government of Turkey needs to defend the 
reputation of the ultra-nationalist regime that controlled the Ottoman 
Empire in 1915-18, any more than the current German government 
would feel the need to justify what the Nazis did during the Second 
World War. Yet it does: last November the director-general for policy 
planning at the Turkish foreign ministry, Altay Cengizer, said his 
government was bracing itself for the 100th anniversary of “the events” 
of 1915 and that “Turkey does not deserve to appear before the world 
as a nation that committed genocide . . . these claims target our very 

It seems to be lost on such people — though not on the many 
wonderful Turks I have met who despair of their government — that 
one reason Germany has such a high standing in international opinion 
is that it is open and contrite about the crimes of an earlier era. 

Obviously such matters are difficult to talk about, once you get down 
to grisly details beyond mere numbers. In essence: because they 
saw the presence of the minority Christian Armenians in Anatolia as 
a potential threat to the disintegrating Ottoman Empire, the government 
known as the Young Turks implemented a plan — to quote that brave 
Turkish commentator Cengiz Aktar — “to engineer a homogeneous 
population composed of Muslims designated to form the backbone 
of the yet-to-be-invented Turkish nation. Thus there was no place for 
Christian populations.”

From April 24, 1915, the Armenian population saw their menfolk 
murdered en masse and women and children sent on what amounted
 to death marches (or “relocation”) into the Syrian desert. The language 
used in justification was a foul foreshadowing of that later employed 
by the Nazis against the Jews. Thus Dr Mehmed Resid, the governor 
of Diyarbakir province: “The Armenian bandits were a load of harmful 
microbes that had afflicted the body of the fatherland. Was it not the 
duty of the doctor to kill the microbes?”

Another parallel is that the Armenians, like the Jews of Europe, tended 
to be successful traders, wealthier than the general population. There 
was similar profit to be made by their expropriation and removal, with 
the Ottoman Treasury the principal beneficiary.

While the bacillus of anti-semitism continues to infect men’s minds, the 
attempted annihilation of the Armenians — the first nation to become 
Christian, long before the Roman Empire — also has its modern 
version; though in this case the incubator is a form of religious rather 
than racial ideology. 

Across swathes of the Middle East Christians are suffering persecution. 
In Syria and Iraq the forces of Isis offer them the deal the Turks made 
to some of the (more fortunate) Armenian women and children a century
ago: you will be spared, but only if you convert to Islam. And in a cruel 
echo of what happened to thousands of Armenian churches during the 
massacres, Isis has destroyed the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church 
and Museum in the Syrian town of Deir ez-Zor.

Much though some people wish to eradicate or deny the evidence for 
what happened to the Armenians a century ago, this year — of all years 
— it should be commemorated. But don’t expect Washington or 
Westminster to make the effort. 

Derby Telegraph, UK
January 22, 2015 Thursday
BY JOEY SEVERN; joey.severn@

DERBY'S Holocaust memorial events will be broadcast to the nation as
part of the BBC's coverage of the 70th anniversary of the liberation
of Auschwitz.

Derby is one of just three events in England that will be picked out
during the BBC2 programme on Tuesday night.

The city was chosen after national event organisers highlighted the
unique way in which the city marks the day.

Derby's commemorations are organised by a group of volunteers from
all walks of the city's life and supported by the Mayor's office.

January 27 is officially designated Holocaust Memorial Day and is the
date on which the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust
under Nazi persecution are remembered, as well as those who have died
in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Anne Johns, speaking on behalf of the group, said: "The BBC contacted
the national group who highlighted Derby as a place that had a unique
story to tell.

"Unlike many places, we actually commemorate three different genocides:
the Holocaust, Srebrenica and the Armenian genocide.

"It is very gratifying that the way the people in the city have come
together from different ethnic and faith groups has been recognised.

"I think it shows that we are working in the right direction in Derby
and that it will be great to have the city on a national stage."

The programme, on Tuesday evening, will see 200 survivors from the
camp taking part in a special event to mark the date.

The filming in Derby will feature two members of the Bosnian community
- Medina Salkic, a Bosnian woman who lost many male relatives in the
Srebrenica massacre, and Bahrudin Muhic, who lost his father.

Originally a single day of events, Derby's Holocaust memorial
commemorations now fill a whole week, including talks, films,
meditation, stone-setting, a multi-faith cathedral service, concerts,
exhibitions and more.

This year, 70 specially designed candles will be lit with Derby being
chosen as one of the locations.

Artist Anish Kapoor was commissioned to design the candles, one of
which will be paraded through the city during the keynote event in
the week of remembrance.

Anne said: "The main focus is on January 27, the date of the liberation
of Auschwitz, but this year we also mark in Derby the 20th anniversary
of the Srebrenica massacre and the 100th of the Armenian Genocide.

"We are delighted to have been selected to be part of this nationwide

"It is vital that we remember and reflect upon the horrors of the
past as well as honouring those who survived.

"It is also serves as a reminder that we must be aware of how these
tragedies began.

"It is crucial that we talk to one another and learn about the things
that unite us and overcome differences.

"Our group of volunteers is full of people from different communities
and faiths and seeing how that can help foster ties between those
people is fantastic."

The Holocaust Memorial Day programme featuring Derby will be 
shown on BBC2 at 7pm on Tuesday. 

The Spectator
Jan 10 2015
A film that purports to show the 'other' side of the ANZAC story 
does anything but
by Anthony McAdam 

To much fanfare, Russell Crowe's first film as a director, The Water
Diviner, was released on Boxing Day. It appears at a key moment -
the focus of the film, Gallipoli, is about to become the centrepiece
in an elaborate nation-wide commemoration to mark the centenary of
the landing in 1915.

If intentions are taken seriously, the film is a huge disappointment.

Its release came packaged to suggest that it presents a more honest
and more understanding appreciation of our then enemy, the Turks.

Besides being the director, Crowe is the star and driving force in
the film's conception, and hence fully responsible for the result. His
intention: 'It is time to teach our children the other side [i.e. the
Turkish side] of the Gallipoli story'.

Many of the media reviews have been just as presumptuous and
wrong-headed. The Age, for instance, tells us 'This is perhaps the
first Australian war movie to deal honestly with the Turks and that
is one of its achievements'.

Well, not really. This highly sentimentalised and rather pointless
attempt to depict the human dimension of the Gallipoli campaign, as
experienced by an Aussie father (Crowe) searching for the bodies of
his three sons, fails both as plausible drama and as an honest attempt
to confront the actual behaviour of the enemy (the Ottoman empire),
not to mention the moral justification for the terrible sacrifice of
Allied lives.

On that last point, distinguished British historian Jeremy Black
recently wrote: 'The current fashion for commemorating the dead
by honouring their struggle does not in fact honour them unless we
explain why they were fighting and facing the personal, moral and
religious challenges of risking and inflicting death. Why did men
volunteer in 1914? Why did they advance across the 'killing ground'?

To mark the struggle without recalling its point and value is both
to lack a moral compass and, indeed, not really to seek one'.

And for those who believe, as Crowe seems to, that Britain and
Australia entered the war for ignoble reasons, or no reason at all,
it is worth 'remembering' that Britain was responding to a clear act
of German aggression against a neutral country, Belgium, with which
it was honour bound by treaty to defend, a decision overwhelmingly
supported at the time by the Australian government and the Australian
people. Turkey threw in its lot with the Germans and made itself
the enemy.

Not only does the film fail to show the slightest inkling of interest
as to why the allies fought and, for that matter, why the hero's sons
died, but Crowe bathes the whole story in a painfully mawkish and
barely credible tale of a heart-broken water diviner (Crowe himself)
who miraculously emerges as a body diviner rambling around the rocky
cliffs of Gallipoli 'bonding' with the very soldiers responsible
for his sons' deaths, with of course the now obligatory Aussie sneer
directed towards a British officer made out to be a right pompous git
(shades of Weir's Gallipoli?).

Leaving aside aesthetic considerations, the fact is the film's lack
of any historical context is breathtaking. There are many, but there
is one really glaring omission.

It so happens that the well-documented genocide of the Armenians at
the hands of the Turks was initiated on the day immediately before
the Gallipoli landing, an overlap that traditionally receives hardly
a mention from Australian historians, and no reference whatsoever in
this film.

What happened to the Armenians? Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, author of
The First World War in the Middle East (2014) paints the basic picture:

The Armenian genocide started in earnest on 24 April 1915 with the
arrest and deportation of thousands of Armenian political leaders
and intellectuals. This act triggered widespread massacres that
subsequently killed an estimated 1 million Armenians. The combination
of the outright killings and the forced marches through the Syrian
Desert constituted one of the earliest examples of a 'crime against

The mass murder of this ancient Christian community made no exception
for women and children and was conducted with a barbarity that
shocked even officers of the Ottoman's German allies, some of whom
witnessed the gruesome scenes first hand, as did missionaries and
other outsiders.

The legacy of what happened a hundred years ago in Turkey this April
is now taking on all the characteristics of a diplomatic perfect
storm. Obviously, the Australian centenary commemorations at Gallipoli
will be more elaborate than anything previous, the worldwide protests
by the Armenian Diaspora will be more vociferous than ever, and the
Turkish government's fierce opposition to even the mention of the
word genocide will be as aggressive as ever.

This combination of factors is now coming to a head with Turkey
virtually ruling itself out of any hope of having its stalled
application to join the EU accepted, its position on the Armenian
issue being a major factor. If all this were not enough, more evidence
is emerging that highlights Turkey's current machiavellian position
vis-a-vis the Islamic State's forces on its borders, a savage army
currently trying to murder what's left of Iraq's and Syria's Christian
communities, and other demonised faith communities.

Where does Australia sit in this gathering storm with its myriad
strategic and moral conundrums? Not well. While Opposition Leader
Tony Abbott did not hesitate to condemn the Armenian genocide, last
June Foreign Minister Julie Bishop issued a statement that called
the Armenian killings 'a tragedy' but added, quite unnecessarily,
'we do not recognise the events as genocide' for which, according to
(former Speccie Diarist) Geoffrey Robertson QC, 'she was duly lauded
in Turkey as a genocide denier'.

The moral issue at stake is neatly captured in the subtitle of
Robertson's recently published book on the genocide: 'Who now remembers
the annihilation of the Armenians?' It was Hitler's comment to his
generals on the eve of the invasion of Poland urging them to show no
mercy as there would be no retribution. It's all part of 'the other
side of the Gallipoli story' that Russell Crowe somehow didn't get
around to even hinting at.

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