Student material. Armenians were the largest minority in the Turkish Empire circa Explanation:

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1 Lesson 1 During WW1 more than one million Armenians perished in the former Turkish Empire. In this lesson you will investigate - using the information and primary sources provided - what exactly happened. You will write an account of facts, just like the police do during an investigation. You will investigate the circumstances in which the Armenians lived in the Turkish Empire (assignment 1A: The Turkish Empire circa 1900) and then look for the most reliable sources for information in a timeline (assignment 1B). We then look at the definition of the term genocide as established by the UN in Does this definition also apply to what happened to the Armenians? General instructions Always use the index of sources. It contains all the information you will need. Work in pairs on assignment 1A (Account of facts). Assignment 2 (The concept of genocide) is a plenary assignment. Note down the central conclusions. Assignment 1A Account of facts: The Turkish Empire circa 1900 Read the statements below. If you think the statement is correct tick the box. If you think it isn't, (briefly) explain why. Use the index. By using the sources (witness statements) you can assess whether a statement is correct or not. You can also use the index to substantiate why you believe a statement is incorrect. The Turkish Empire flourished circa Circa 1900 the Turkish Empire was a multi-ethnic state. Most of the inhabitants of the Turkish Empire were Islamic. Armenians were the largest minority in the Turkish Empire circa Armenians were discriminated and oppressed in the Ottoman Empire. They had fewer rights than Islamic inhabitants of the Empire. The socio-economic position of Armenians was very weak. 1

2 Armenians are religiously Jewish. Assignment 1B Account of facts: What happened to the Armenians? Study the timeline below. These are the facts as they have been established. Now use the index to find one source per fact which proves or illustrates the fact. Mention the number of the source. In some cases several answers are possible. If this is the case, mention the source you think is the most reliable one. 19 th century The once so powerful Turkish Empires goes into serious decline Turkey fights two big wars in the Balkan and, again, loses a lot of territory There is a lot of discontent about the weakness of the Turkish Empire and the defeats in the Balkan Wars. The so-called Young Turks stage a coup. The new rulers have a military background and pursue an extremely nationalistic policy 1914 The start of WWI. Turkey joins Germany in the fight against Russia, Great Britain and France. Winter /autumn 1915 The Turks suffer heavy defeats in the Caucasus in their campaign against the Russians. A number of Armenians join the Russian army. Meanwhile, the British are fighting the Turks at sea and are preparing their invasion at Gallipoli. 24 April 1915 On 24 April the Turkish minister of Internal Affairs order the arrest and deportation of more than 250 Armenian intellectuals. Almost none of them survive the war Spring - summer - autumn 1915 Forced deportation of Armenian mothers and children to the Syrian Desert where no accommodation has been arranged. Almost everybody dies. A large number of Armenian men are murdered. Supporting sources = 2

3 1918 Turkey loses WWI. The three rulers primarily responsible are sentenced to death in absentia by the allies The hero of Gallipoli, Mustafa Kemal (= Atatürk), becomes Turkey's new leader after WWI. From now on, the Turkish government will deny the deliberate massacre of the Armenians The Soviet Union falls apart and Armenia becomes an independent republic. 24 April is declared the country's national Remembrance Day. Assignment 2: the case 1915 and the concept of genocide After the massacre of the Jews, the international community needed a concept that expressed deliberate attempts of rulers to massacre a specific group or people. In 1948 the UN adopt the resolution below which establishes the definition of genocide. This definition remains valid today. Does the UN definition also apply to the killing of the Armenians? Fill in the form. This is a plenary assignment. Definition of genocide according to the 1948 UN resolution Genocide means one of the following acts, committed with the intention to partially or entirely destroy a national, ethnic, radical or religious group. This includes: Does it apply? - Killing members of the group. Yes No - Causing serious mental or physical damage to members of the group. Yes No - Deliberately implementing living conditions aimed at partial or total physical destruction of the group. Yes No - Measures aimed at preventing births within a group. Yes No - Forcefully transferring children from one group to another. Yes No Conclusions You can use this overview to note the central conclusions of the account of facts. Conclusions in the case 1915 The most important facts from our investigation: Important information about the position of the Armenians at the beginning of the 20 th century: 3

4 Influential events which have facilitated the massacre of the Armenians: 4

5 Lesson 2 If you are familiar with the backgrounds of the massacre of the Armenians, the following question always arises: how could this happen? Today, there are many scholars who study this question. They focus on the specific circumstances in Turkey during WWI, but also on the genocide process as such. Are the general circumstances which increase the chances of genocide? And if that is the case, what are these circumstances? This lesson looks at factors in the Turkish Empire which facilitated genocide and the stages of genocide. General instructions Work in pairs. Use your index and the account of facts. Do assignment 1. Give explanations. Write down which sources you have used. Assignment 1: How could this happen? According to the scholar Ton Zwaan a number of factors are required to facilitate genocide. You will investigate, using your index of sources, whether these factors were also present in the Turkish Empire. Factors required to facilitate a genocide: An extreme and serious crisis causing political insecurity (e.g. war or threat of a war) Applicable? Yes No Substantiate your answer with one of several facts from the index. Which source(s)? An ideology providing the motives to legitimise (= justify) the murder Yes No A state apparatus initiating the persecution and being largely responsible for its execution. Yes No 5

6 Assignment 2: Gregory Stanton's eight stages of genocide In addition to the facilitating factors, scholars have also noted that genocides appear to follow a fixed pattern. The US scholar Gregory Stanton has unravelled the genocide process. He distinguishes eight recurring stages of genocide. Does the Armenian genocide fit into Gregory Stanton's model? Check for each stage and look for evidence in the index. Stanton's eight stages Sources? Classification: categorisation of groups of people, we and them, ethnically, racially, culturally, religiously or nationalistically. Symbolisation: naming and describing 'physical' and ethnical differences or making the other group recognisable by using symbols. Dehumanisation: denial of the humanity of the other group, for example by using medical jargon (germs) or animal names (rats, cockroaches). Destruction of identity. Organisation: genocide stems from collective action which requires preparation: troops and weapons are required, and a certain social organisation (hierarchy, bureaucracy). Polarisation: extremist groups face a standoff in which any nuance or moderation becomes a threat. Those with a moderate view are the biggest threat to the group of perpetrators. Preparation: this includes identification, expropriation of possessions, concentration or collection and transport. Destruction: killing members of the group, including children, cleansing. Also material destruction, material culture, possession. Denial: the final stage of genocide is denial, graves are hidden, evidence is destroyed, the story is adapted, casualty figures downsized, mitigating circumstances are presented ( there was a war ) and there is a discussion about whether the act falls within the precise legal definition of genocide. 6

7 Lesson 3 Research shows that when people experience something horrible, witness a big drama or commit something terrible, in the first instance they all try to forget that event. Often, that doesn't work very well. The past cannot be forgotten. What is true for individuals is also true for groups and even for states. Therefore, it is interesting to investigate how states deal with their own national past, especially when it is not a past to be proud of. This lesson addresses today's role of the Armenian genocide in international relations, the reason why groups of people or states want or don't want to commemorate and the question of how a country should handle its national past. General instructions Work in groups of 4. Appoint a chairperson and a minute taker. Use the annex. Give as many explanations as possible for the fact that the Turkish government does not want to recognise the Armenian genocide Why do you think Armenia does not want to accept Turkey's request to set up a joint committee of inquiry to look into the background of the events in 1915? 7

8 Why do you think the US president does not want to use the term 'Armenian genocide'? In your opinion, how should Turkey deal with its own national past? Think also about how other countries are dealing with the 'black pages' of their past. 8

9 9

10 Annex: Turkey and the Armenian genocide Facts about the past 1. Between 1915 and 1919 more than one Armenians were killed in Armenia. 2. Armenians were already discriminated before WWI and had been the victim of large-scale persecutions before. 3. The Turkish rulers decided in WWI to deport the Armenian population to the Syrian desert. No accommodation had been prepared there. 4. There were many mass executions of Armenians. 5. The events received a lot of attention in the international media. This did not lead to an intervention by the Turkish government to prevents the massacres. Facts about processing the past 6. After the war the allies organised a trial which convicted the three fugitive former rulers in absentia. 7. After WWI Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) came to power. He was not personally involved in the genocide, but, like the former ruler, had his roots in the circles of the so-called Young Turks. Atatürk initiated a cover-up policy which is still in place. 8. The Turkish government denies that there has been a genocide. Individuals (may) have committed crimes against Armenians, but not on government initiative. 9. The term Armenian genocide is never used. The question is consistently referred to as the socalled genocide, the Armenian question or the Armenian accusations. 10. People in Turkey who seek attention for the Armenian genocide run the risk of being put on trial because it is an offence to insult 'Turkishness' (art. 301 of the constitution). 11. Turkey has offered Armenia to commission independent research, conducted by Armenian and Turkish historians to established once and for all what exactly happened. Armenia rejects this proposal because the Armenian government believes there is already sufficient historical evidence. 10

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