The Armenian Genocide: Origins, Factors and Repercussions - Bedross Der Matossian

The arrest of 250 Armenians in April of 1915 was the start of a massacre. That massacre helped inform the creation of a new word, genocide, in 1944. Join Dr. Bedross Der Matossian, Associate Professor of Modern Middle East Studies at the University of Nebraska and President of the Society for Armenian Studies as he explores the historical background, differing interpretations, the magnitude and the repercussions of the Armenian Genocide. This event, part of The World War I in the Middle East Summer Institute for K-12 Educators, has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

Lecture given on July 12, 2022.

Lecture Transcript

00:00:00:04 - 00:00:34:23
Lora Vogt
It is my honor to be welcoming our speaker this evening. Bedross Der Matossian completed his Ph.D. in Middle East History at Columbia University. He spent several years lecturing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is currently an associate professor of Modern Middle East History at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. His areas of interest include ethnic politics in the Middle East, inter-ethnic violence in the Ottoman Empire, Palestinian history and the history of the Armenian genocide.

00:00:34:29 - 00:01:12:25
Lora Vogt
His publications include “Shattered Dreams of Revolution: From Liberty to Violence and the Late Ottoman Empire,” which received numerous awards, including the Society for Romanian Studies Outstanding Book Award in 2017. He is also the author of “The Horrors of Adana: Revolution and Violence in the Early 20th Century,” which was just published by Stanford University Press here in 2022. And this event, part of the World War I in the Middle East Summer Institute for K-12 Educators, has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

00:01:12:27 - 00:01:38:11
Lora Vogt
So thank you all for being taxpaying Americans and contributing to this and thanks to you all as well who are members. It is because of that generosity of your time and the generosity of your spirit that we're able to bring important conversations like this one to you here and to all of you around the world who are watching.

00:01:38:11 - 00:01:51:28
Lora Vogt
Will you please join me in welcoming Dr. Der Matossian to the stage?

00:01:52:00 - 00:02:17:25
Bedross Der Matossian
Thank you very much for the invitation, Lora and Cherie. It's an honor to be here to talk to you, to the teachers, about one of the important aspects of the World War I, the Armenian genocide. So basically, the lecture will last around one hour, one and a half hours. And I'm going to talk at the beginning about the concept of genocide, the definition of the concept of genocide.

00:02:17:28 - 00:02:57:13
Bedross Der Matossian
And then I'll move on providing a brief history of the Armenians, specifically within the Ottoman Empire. 19th century: the first wave of violence, which is the Hamidian massacres, the second wave of violence, which is the Adana massacre. And finally, I will concentrate on the Armenian genocide. It's the factors that led to the genocide, the repercussions. And of course, all of us know that genocide as a concept - as an event itself - itself is such a complex event, such a complex phenomenon that it's really difficult to analyze it from the perspective of history only.

00:02:57:20 - 00:03:36:05
Bedross Der Matossian
And we need social scientific tools in order to understand the psychological aspects of genocide, the economic aspects of genocide. So whatever you're going to hear today is a basic presentation about the Armenian genocide.
 So let's start with the first - the concept of genocide. The author of the concept of genocide was a jurist, Jewish jurist, by the name of Raphael Lemkin, who was really troubled by the events that took place in the course of history, specifically about the Armenian genocide.

00:03:36:08 - 00:04:06:21
Bedross Der Matossian
When the British freed the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide in 1919, he wrote in his book “The Axis in Europe” - he was shocked by the juxtaposition and said, and I quote, “A nation was killed and the guilty persons were set free. Why is a man punished when he kills another man? Why is the killing of a million a lesser crime than the killing of a single individual?”

00:04:06:23 - 00:04:37:22
Bedross Der Matossian
So he thought about different terms and terminology such as vandalism, barbarity. And finally he settled on the concept of genocide, which comes from Greek “genos” and “cide,” meaning killing in Greek. And hence in his “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe” - the important, one of the most important books that he wrote - he defined genocide by saying, “By ‘genocide’ we mean the destruction of a nation or an ethnic group.

00:04:37:24 - 00:05:03:10
Bedross Der Matossian
Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killing of all members of a nation. It is intended, rather, to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups with the aim of annihilating the group themselves. the groups themselves.

00:05:03:12 - 00:05:34:10
Bedross Der Matossian
The objectives of such a plan would be disintegration of the political and social institutions of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups. Genocide has two phases: one, the destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group, and second - the other, the imposition -

00:05:34:13 - 00:06:11:03
Bedross Der Matossian
- the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor.”
Now, of course, this is Raphael Lemkin, born in 1900, passed away, impoverished, actually in 1950. And all his life he really fought hard to pass the concept of genocide as a legal definition in the United Nations. And finally, the United Nations convention called the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime was adopted by the U.N. National General Assembly on December 9th, 1948, as General Assembly Resolution 260.

00:06:11:05 - 00:06:57:10
Bedross Der Matossian
The convention entered into force on 12th January 1951. The detailed and quite technical definition is as follows:
 Article I indicates the contracting parties confirmed that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law, which they undertake to prevent and to punish.
 Second article: in the present - in the present convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such: killing members of the group; second, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

00:06:57:12 - 00:07:29:22
Bedross Der Matossian
third, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and finally, imposing measures intended to prevent the birth within the group. Sorry - finally, forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
 Article III: The following acts shall be punishable: First, genocide. Second, conspiracy to commit genocide. And the third, direct and public incitement to commit genocide.

00:07:29:24 - 00:08:27:25
Bedross Der Matossian
Fourth, attempt to commit genocide. Fifth, complicity - and finally, fifth, complicity to genocide. As we can see, and this is extremely important, the convention placed a strong emphasis - stronger emphasis than Lemkin did on physical and biological destruction and less on broader social destruction. This is due to the fact that the U.N. Genocide Convention was a compromise, because the major drafters of the convention, be it the United States or the colonial powers - the British on the one hand, and the Soviets on the other hand - prevented to include within the definition “culture genocide” due to the responsibility of the British, the United States in perpetrating acts of cultural genocide against,

00:08:27:25 - 00:08:58:05
Bedross Der Matossian
or genocide to that extent, against native population. Not only the United States, it’s the case of Canada, it's the case of Australia, New Zealand and also in the case of Soviet Union. They removed also the category of political groups due to the long history of the Soviet Union in decimating the political rivals within the Soviet Union, specifically during Stalin's terror.

00:08:58:07 - 00:09:25:24
Bedross Der Matossian
So there are different definitions of genocide, and this is extremely important because if we want to discuss the Armenian genocide - there is always the denialist approach, that the Armenian genocide does not fall into the category of genocide. But from genocide studies perspective - genocide studies itself is a field - there are harder definitions and softer definitions of genocide.
 These definitions address:
 Agents: clear focus on state and official authorities.

00:09:25:26 - 00:09:55:08
Bedross Der Matossian
Second, victims: routinely defined as social minorities because in all cases of genocides in the course of the modern period, always the victims are the minorities.
 Goals: the destruction and eradication of the victim group, physically or culturally.
 The scale-total eradication in whole or in part.

00:09:55:10 - 00:10:19:22
Bedross Der Matossian
Strategies: what types of strategies? Lemkin refers to a coordinated plan of different actions.
 And finally, intent. Intent plays an important role in defining that the act of the crime itself is a genocide. And we're going to discuss here with the concept of intent, in the case of the Armenian genocide. What - where is the intent? Do we know?

00:10:19:24 - 00:10:55:24
Bedross Der Matossian
Do we need a specific document? Specific document that proves that there was an intent to commit a genocide? And this is the case with all other genocide. Intent itself is an important aspect. Most scholars and legal theorists agree that intent defines genocide. Prosecutors need only to prove that the criminal act was intentional and not accidental. And intent itself is divided between special intent: specific intent versus general intent.

00:10:55:26 - 00:11:33:27
Bedross Der Matossian
What are the differences? Specific intent - in specific intent, there is a direct and manifest connection between the act and the outcome. Meaning you take a decision and you know that the result of that decision is going to be the annihilation of a specific group.
 The other intent, which is the general intent, the act and the genocidal consequences may be relatively widely separated in geographical and temporal terms. Meaning you take a decision to deport certain groups to an arid land, but you don't know the repercussions of that, and people would die during that.

00:11:33:27 - 00:12:01:09
Bedross Der Matossian
And so that's the general intent.
 I'll start the topic of the Armenian genocide today by quoting Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, the important figure - American figure who was appointed as the ambassador of the United States to the Ottoman Empire. One of his quotes from his book is, “I'm confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this.

00:12:01:11 - 00:12:38:04
Bedross Der Matossian
The great massacres and persecution of the past seem almost insignificant when compared with the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915.” Of course, Armenians were not a race, Armenians were a nation. But the reason I'm quoting this is to show the magnitude of the awareness that the Americans had about the Armenian genocide. Armenian genocide, with its records, is part and parcel of American history, too, with its diplomatic presence during the Armenian genocide, hundreds of thousands and thousands of documents, eyewitness accounts, American missionaries serving in the empire.

00:12:38:06 - 00:13:15:00
Bedross Der Matossian
All of them witnessed Armenian genocide and reported back to the United States government. And even Morgenthau himself tried to force the United States to intervene on behalf of the Armenians. But he didn't succeed.
 Now, the Armenians - I don't know if you know, they’re an ancient people existed in the pre-1st century Common Era. They had significant territory historically, and they're the first nation to adopt Christianity in 301 A.D. And modern day Armenia,

00:13:15:00 - 00:13:48:08
Bedross Der Matossian
what you see here, modern day Armenia is the Republic of Armenia, which lies between Republic of Turkey and Republic of Azerbaijan. So Armenians have been in the region for a very long period of time. 2 to 3000 years. And these areas actually in the dark brown actually are significant Armenian populations until 1915 and the historical Armenian territories are those that are in orange.

00:13:48:10 - 00:14:23:00
Bedross Der Matossian
Specifically here, which is called Greater Armenia. And here in this section of Cilicia, which is also important city is Adana. So Armenians were present in the region prior to the arrival of the Ottomans to the region and the last Armenian independent kingdom that existed prior to the establishment of the Armenian Independent Republic in 1918 was the Kingdom of Cilicia between 1198 to 1375.

00:14:23:03 - 00:14:56:03
Bedross Der Matossian
And this is the map of the kingdom, which is over the Mediterranean here in southeast Turkey. It played a dominant role during the Crusades period, and it was a period of rejuvenation - period of cultural rejuvenation, cultural renaissance, political prowess, and also economic interactions with different parts of the region.
 Let us discuss about the Ottoman Armenians, and here is the most important aspect,

00:14:56:03 - 00:15:23:03
Bedross Der Matossian
I would say. Armenians lived in the Ottoman Empire for a very long time, I should say, until their annihilation during World War I. Armenians were considered as second-class citizens in the Ottoman Empire, and they lived mostly in major, the six Armenian provinces that I'm going to discuss. They were never a majority, I should say, in these provinces.

00:15:23:05 - 00:15:51:02
Bedross Der Matossian
And of course, also relying on Ottoman censuses is problematic for reasons I can discuss later. But to that extent, Armenians lived in a better situation, I should say, than their counterparts in Russia. Of course, to understand the Armenians and the Ottoman Empire, we have to also understand the condition of Armenians in the Russian Empire. Both of them from time to time persecuted Armenians.

00:15:51:05 - 00:16:20:29
Bedross Der Matossian
It's not - nothing has to do with Christianity here. It has to do with Turkification and also with Russification. But Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were provided culture and religious autonomy. The concept here is the millet system in which Armenians enjoyed vast array of freedoms that were given to them culturally and religiously. The leadership of the Armenians was represented by the Armenian Patriarchate.

00:16:20:29 - 00:16:52:23
Bedross Der Matossian
It was religious representation and they had to pay taxes. Of course it was the - was kind of a classical Islamic system of ruling whereby the non-Christians - no, sorry, non-Muslims, Jews and Christians had to pay specific tax and would enjoy the protection of the government, of the state. Armenians played an important role as merchants, industrialists, artists and trade and architects.

00:16:52:25 - 00:17:20:17
Bedross Der Matossian
In the 19th century they played an important role in building the most important Ottoman edifices in the capital. But also 19th century in the Ottoman Empire, it was a century of challenge for the empire. You think - if you put the Ottomans in the global economic system, the Ottomans moved from

00:17:20:20 - 00:17:53:24
Bedross Der Matossian
sustenance to becoming semi-periphery in the global economic system. They were not colonized like China - similar to China or similar to Iran or similar to other places. But they were economically colonized specifically as a result of the economic intervention of the European powers in internal affairs of the economic systems of the Ottoman Empire. In order to strengthen its power, the Ottoman Empire initiated a vast array of reforms in the 19th century.

00:17:53:26 - 00:18:28:09
Bedross Der Matossian
These were called the Tanzimat Reforms, 1839-1876. The aim was to strengthen the state and the army in order to become a much more powerful state with the aim of avoiding colonization, becoming victim to colonization. These reforms were good on paper, but in reality they didn't - they didn't provide equality. But also they became counterproductive because they were an authoritarian reform from top to bottom and did not serve the real aims.

00:18:28:12 - 00:19:01:02
Bedross Der Matossian
So eventually you have the...but these reforms also helped Armenians. Eventually, you have the emergence of Armenian intelligentsia, you have Armenian cultural nationalism emerging in the second half of the 19th century. But Armenian cultural nationalism did not start with the Ottoman Empire. It started outside in Venice, in Vietnam, in Calcutta, in India. All of those centers played a dominant role in raising the awareness about the national past of Armenians.

00:19:01:05 - 00:19:26:05
Bedross Der Matossian
Of course, Armenian nationalism, as similar to all types of nationalism, is a modern phenomenon. Armenians existed as an ethno-religious groups or other religious groups, but due to modernization, they became, you know, they became aware about the kind of national past and hence became kind of nationalist. But cultural nationalism itself was also confined to the intelligentsia.

00:19:26:07 - 00:19:56:06
Bedross Der Matossian
It wasn't - it's not that all Armenians were nationalists. The majority of Armenians were peasants, and they lived in the East. They suffered depredations, they suffered double taxation and persecution by Kurdish tribes, by other elements within the east. So - and it was during this period that the Ottomans were able to achieve what came to be known as the First Constitution Period.

00:19:56:08 - 00:20:41:11
Bedross Der Matossian
And the First Constitution Period is extremely important in the Ottoman Empire because the reformists in the Ottoman Empire were able to finally, after decades, to draft the constitution and open a parliament. That was the first semi-democratic experience of the Middle East - in terms of - in the Middle East, first semi-democratic experience. It was a constitutional monarchy because these reformist in the Constitution movement, the Ottoman Constitution movement, realized that the only way to strengthen the Ottoman Empire is to adopt the two important institutions that led to - that strengthened the European countries, constitutionalism and parliament.

00:20:41:13 - 00:21:16:00
Bedross Der Matossian
However, as a result of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, the Sultan Abdul Hamid the second closed the Parliament and prorogued the Constitution, and hence from 1878 to 1909, we see here a kind of authoritarian regime ruling the Ottoman Empire and steep decline of the condition of the Armenians of the East.

00:21:16:03 - 00:21:55:08
Bedross Der Matossian
And this is where the Armenian question now emerges. The Armenian question became international, was internationalized after the Congress of Berlin. But the Armenian question existed prior to that in the 1860s, 1870s. The Armenian Patriarchate, the religious figure, brought a few reports to the Sublime Porte - to the government, saying that, “We are receiving thousands of complaints from the Armenians of the East about depredations, persecutions, double taxations, and we need to improve their lot.”

00:21:55:10 - 00:22:25:00
Bedross Der Matossian
But nothing was done from the perspective of the government and hence after the Treaty of San Stefano in 1878, following the defeat of the Ottomans, there was Article 16 - was passed with the Russian pressure, of course, that promised to better the condition of the Armenians of the East. But immediately the German, the British, the French weren't happy about the Russian meddling.

00:22:25:02 - 00:22:56:10
Bedross Der Matossian
They immediately convened another Congress and now it was the Congress of Berlin and changed Article 16 to 61 by which the Russians were going to, secede from the areas that they had occupied in Eastern Anatolia. And of course, with vague promises that the Ottomans were going to initiate reforms in the eastern provinces. Hence, after the Treaty of Berlin of 1878, the Armenian question was internationalized.

00:22:56:12 - 00:23:21:21
Bedross Der Matossian
Of course, one thing we have to remember: Armenians do not have friends in this environment. They are used and abused by foreign powers, by Russians on the one hand, by the British on the one hand. And it depends on the decade that you're talking about. Once the Russians start persecuting Armenians, the British entered as the protectors of the Armenians, they started relying on the British.

00:23:21:23 - 00:23:48:16
Bedross Der Matossian
And then after the British influence wanes in 1913-14, they started looking at the Russians as the country that's going to save them from the clutches of the Ottomans, quote unquote. But eventually Armenians realized that diplomacy is not working. We've tried hard. We've tried in San Stefano, we've tried in, you know, in Berlin.

00:23:48:18 - 00:24:16:18
Bedross Der Matossian
So eventually you have a small group of Armenian revolutionaries naturally now emerging. And usually, you know, official Turkish historiography represents these groups in isolation. We have to think these groups, revolutionary groups in the global context, because revolutionary groups existed in other parts of the world. It was kind of the, it was kind of the period of revolutionary movements.

00:24:16:20 - 00:24:46:25
Bedross Der Matossian
These were mostly influenced by Russian Narodniks. They were socialists - some of them, radical socialists. And they believed - some of them did believe in reforming the Armenian condition in the Ottoman Empire. Some believed in autonomy under the clout of the Ottoman Empire, while others believed in independence. Of course, the Balkan situation is also contributing to all of this.

00:24:46:27 - 00:25:21:12
Bedross Der Matossian
And eventually, we see that these revolutionary movements start acting in the regions - in the regions of the six Armenian provinces and leading to a major backlash by the Ottoman government, which came to be known as the first phase of major massacre, the Hamidian massacres between 1894-96. These are called the six Armenian provinces: Van, Bitlis, Diyarbekir, Harput or Mamuret-ul-Aziz, Sivas,

00:25:21:15 - 00:25:45:27
Bedross Der Matossian
and Erzurum. They were known as the six Armenian provinces or Western Armenia for Armenians, because Armenians referred to this section as Western Armenia and to this section as Eastern Armenia. So whatever exists today as the Republic of Armenia is eastern Armenia, this does not exist anymore. And to what extent were Armenians

00:25:45:27 - 00:26:16:08
Bedross Der Matossian
a majority in the region depends on what census are we talking about. But I don't think that they formed any majority in any of the states - of the provinces.
 So these early massacres were covered by European press. Also, it led to the killing of around 100-300,000 Armenians. Aid for the victims became the first international mission of the American Red Cross.

00:26:16:10 - 00:26:45:21
Bedross Der Matossian
Of course, Europeans did interfere in this. Near East Relief would raise more than $100 million in assistance to Armenians. But eventually the European powers would intervene and force the Sultan to pass memorandums or memoranda in order to reform the condition of the armies of the East. So wherever there is a massacre, wherever there is a revolutionary activity, there is punitive collective punishment.

00:26:45:24 - 00:27:15:08
Bedross Der Matossian
If ten Armenian revolutionaries committed an act, killed Ottoman officers, the result is massive retaliation by the Ottomans. And today, within the current - in the current historiography, things are becoming more clear regarding regional variations during the Hamidian massacres. Because, as I said at the beginning, Armenian genocide usually takes the share within the historiography due to its magnitude.

00:27:15:10 - 00:27:48:25
Bedross Der Matossian
The Hamidian massacres - we don't have a single book that deals with the Hamidian massacres. Adana massacre, the same. We have few books here and there, but the Armenian genocide takes the [unclear]. But these massacres that took place during the event - or, during the Hamidian period are rarely covered within the historiography of the period. No, of course, during this time in the 19th century, you have the emergence of a new group, exiled Ottoman groups called the Young Turks.

00:27:48:27 - 00:28:27:18
Bedross Der Matossian
They were influenced by European political thought, positivism, Darwinism and many other constitutions and many other currents, ideological currents that were raging within Europe. And they wanted to make it - bring a change in the Ottoman Empire. They were exiled. They were émigrés living in capital cities in London, Paris, Cairo and many other places. They believed in - they believed in peaceful resolution to bringing down the sultan, not through revolution.

00:28:27:18 - 00:29:08:15
Bedross Der Matossian
They believed in evolution - sorry, that's what I'm looking for - word - I'm looking for “revolution.” And they did not want any European intervention in bringing down the sultan. And the Young Turks were in discussion with other groups who were exiled, be them Armenians, Greeks, Albanians, Arabs, in order to create kind of an Ottoman - a position to be able to bring down the authoritarian sultan and also bring back the Constitution and the Ottoman parliament after the long period of activities.

00:29:08:17 - 00:29:35:10
Bedross Der Matossian
To make a long story short, after two meetings, the Congress 1902 of the Ottoman opposition groups and the Congress of 1907. Finally, the Young Turk Revolution takes place in July of 1908. It was a major event within the Middle East. It was an event that shaped the modern Middle East, I should say. It was an event could have led to the World War I, but it was an important event.

00:29:35:12 - 00:30:05:12
Bedross Der Matossian
It was an event that brought hope. And I wrote my first book called “Shattered Dreams of Revolution: From Liberty to Violence in the late Ottoman Empire.” It was a major - brought major hope for Armenians, for Arabs, Albanians, Jews and many other groups, that finally they were going to live in brotherhood, in equality, in liberty, and they're going to create a new identity called Ottomanism.

00:30:05:14 - 00:30:52:02
Bedross Der Matossian
But as I show in my book, the euphoria is really...any type of revolution today, think about the Arab Spring, the euphoric feeling that we saw in the Arab Spring, that this is a new beginning, that this is a new beginning in which everyone was going to live in harmony. But once the euphoric feelings ended, the real litmus test of Ottomanism began. What I found: that there is contradictory understanding of Ottomanism itself, contradictory expectations from the authors of the revolution - the Young Turks and the other groups, the Armenians, etc. One believed in centralization (the Young Turks), the other believed in decentralization.

00:30:52:05 - 00:31:19:12
Bedross Der Matossian
Administrative decentralization. In their writings, they sometimes referred to the federal state - the United States as a federal system. They said, “Why can't we copy the United States system?” For the Young Turks, realizing what's happening in Europe, in the European part of the Ottoman Empire, they said, “Once we provide you with administrative decentralization, we know what's going to happen.

00:31:19:15 - 00:31:57:02
Bedross Der Matossian
You're immediately going to jump to political decentralization and eventually ask for autonomy.” The Ottomanism of the Young Turks had the strong flavor of Turkism, too. So they were perceived - their actions were perceived by the other non-dominant groups as Turkification policies. Because they said, If we're thinking about Ottomanism, the main language should be Turkish. All other non-Muslim elements within the Ottoman Empire have to give up their privileges.

00:31:57:04 - 00:32:30:12
Bedross Der Matossian
Churches have to give up their privileges on education system, and the Minister of Education has to be the final arbiter in the education system. All of these actions were perceived as negative steps by the Armenians and other groups. However, they still continued negotiating. But one thing we have to remember - that the Young Turks revolution was a bloodless revolution, and this actually was mentioned within the press at the time.

00:32:30:15 - 00:33:13:20
Bedross Der Matossian
A bloodless revolution means that there is a major strata of society that benefited from the unseated regime that now wants to hit back. And of course, if you think about it, the Young Turk revolution was heavily influenced by the French Revolution. They accepted the French Revolution as an ahistoric model. In realizing its objective, they never problematize the French Revolution - because if you think about the French Revolution, it was a bloody revolution, was a very problematic revolution, unlike what people think about liberty, fraternity, etc..

00:33:13:23 - 00:33:42:23
Bedross Der Matossian
So this is an extremely important point. So eventually what's going to happen is that they're going to hit back - the conservative elements were going to - reactionary forces are going to hit it back in 1909 in what became to be known as the events of 31st of March 1909.
 But I'd like to show you some revolutionary mottos. You know, here it says, “Long live Ottomanism, long live fatherland.”

00:33:42:26 - 00:34:11:11
Bedross Der Matossian
This is an extremely important postcard that shows the euphoria of the revolution. It's - the postcard was presented by different languages in Ladino here (Judaeo-Spanish), in French here, in Ottoman here, in Greek here, and in Armenian here. Kind of that “All of us now are Ottomans.” And here another, another “Discipline, Justice and Order,” another memento, here another image.

00:34:11:11 - 00:34:48:09
Bedross Der Matossian
These are postcards actually, that were spread around during the revolution. Here you have “United for the Fatherland” and every ethnic group were represented: The Circassian here, the Arab here, the Greek here, the Armenian here, etc., the Bulgarian here. I think these are Bulgarian. So the counter-revolution was eventually suppressed by the Action Army. The Young Turks lost power for a small period of time, but they were able to come back to power due to the Action Army.

00:34:48:11 - 00:35:15:28
Bedross Der Matossian
But it was only in the province of Adana here that the Young Turks - sorry, that the counter-revolution spun into a spiral of violence. And Adana plays an important role for the Armenians, not only economically, it also plays an important role as a hub for cotton, but also as the area where the ancient kingdom of Cilicia existed.

00:35:16:00 - 00:35:47:22
Bedross Der Matossian
The result was the massacring of 20,000 Armenians and the killing of 2,000 Muslims. And this is the book. You can purchase it if you want. No pressure, but this is the book I wrote about “The Horrors of Adana,” a kind of a new interpretation of the massacres themselves by providing an interdisciplinary approach - by not looking at it as Armenians versus Muslims, etc. (these are dated ancient tropes) but rather understanding it as a violent episode.

00:35:47:24 - 00:36:14:11
Bedross Der Matossian
So these are some pictures from the city of Adana. Everything was destroyed and ruined.
 So the road to World War I: of course, the Adana massacre shook the foundation of trust of the Armenians towards the Young Turks. Those who were opposed to any cooperation with the Young Turks, such as the Hunchakians or other Armenian revolutionary groups -

00:36:14:11 - 00:36:41:07
Bedross Der Matossian
they told the others that, “You talked about - we told you, don't cooperate with them.” Whereas the Dashnaktsutyun, which was the major Armenian Revolutionary Federation group still continued its cooperation with the Young Turks. And of course until today, there is the kind of the debate with the - whether the CUP, the central CUP, the central Young Turk party - the Committee of Human Progress - had anything with the - any meddling with the Adana massacre.

00:36:41:07 - 00:37:09:04
Bedross Der Matossian
I say no. Others say yes. But I think these phases of violence are separate phases of violence. Something that we are going to discuss in a second. The Balkan Wars was a major, major blow to the Ottomans. They lost about 95% of their holdings in the European section of the Ottoman Empire and the Balkan Wars also gave kind of encouragement to the Armenians to revive the Armenian question once more.

00:37:09:07 - 00:37:36:13
Bedross Der Matossian
And Russia played an important role in this. So what came to be known as the Armenian Reform Project of 1913-14, aimed at dividing the Ottoman Armenian provinces - the six vilayets - six provinces into two sections. Where the centers are going to be Van and Erzurum and they were going to be governed by either two European inspectors or two Ottoman Christian inspectors.

00:37:36:16 - 00:38:07:17
Bedross Der Matossian
The first one was appointed, was Westenenk, and the other one was Hoff. One of them was a Belgian. I think the other was Norwegian. And - but it wasn't realized because Ottoman Empire entered World War I in 1914. Of course, I'm not going to discuss in detail World War I and the Ottoman Empire, because you've heard that from Professor Aksakal earlier.

00:38:07:19 - 00:38:33:18
Bedross Der Matossian
The Ottoman Empire entered World War I in October 1914. They attacked to the east, hoping to capture the city of Baku in what would be a disastrous campaign against the Russian forces in the Caucasus. They were soundly defeated at the Battle of Sarikamish, and of course, they blamed the Armenians for siding with the Russians. And the Young Turks began campaign to portray the Armenians as a kind of fifth column, a threat to the state and this brings me to an important question.

00:38:33:21 - 00:38:59:07
Bedross Der Matossian
Did the Armenians side with the Russians? Maybe some - some did side with the Russians with the hope that the Russians were going to provide them independence. There were units actually that participated from the Russian side, Armenian units mobilized by the Russians. But there were also some individuals, a couple of hundreds of people who moved to the Caucasus to fight against the Ottomans.

00:38:59:10 - 00:39:23:11
Bedross Der Matossian
But the leadership, both the religious leadership in the Ottoman Empire, Armenian religious leadership and Armenian Revolutionary Federation took a decision that they were going to be neutral during the - not going to take any sides.
 And this is a map that shows the directions of the campaigns - you have three fronts open. Professor Tallon also spoke about this earlier.

00:39:23:13 - 00:39:45:17
Bedross Der Matossian
You have the western front: Gallipoli led to the defeat of the British, was a victory for the Ottomans. The Sarikamish was a disaster. And then you have the southern front: the British capture of Jerusalem December 1915 and the British capture of Baghdad. Of course, the British - Europeans are not there to save anyone. They're not there to save anyone.

00:39:45:19 - 00:40:18:00
Bedross Der Matossian
They're there to divide the Ottoman Empire, to share the - whatever that they gain from the Ottoman Empire, whether it's in Baghdad, Kirkuk, or whether it's the - to preserve the route towards India by the British or the other French interest.
 Of course, these are classically represented as the major perpetrators of the Armenian genocide. Talaat Pasha, the Minister of Interior, was a key figure in initiating the genocide.

00:40:18:07 - 00:40:38:01
Bedross Der Matossian
Second, we have Enver Pasha, the Minister of War, was a Germanophile. Of course, Germany played an important role in supporting the Ottoman army at that time, and the Ottomans relied on the Germans with the hope that if Germany wins the war, would become victorious now and be free from the clutches of the British, the French and the Russians.

00:40:38:03 - 00:41:11:21
Bedross Der Matossian
And last but not least, Jemal Pasha, Minister of Navy. Jemal's role is now becoming more questionable. I think recent historiography is trying to show that he was in between. It's a gray zone for him. It's not clear that he's one of the triumvirate.
 How the genocide was perpetrated: of course, special groups of Turks and Kurds often made up of released prisoners who were created to carry out the massacres, prominent of which was the Special Organization headed by Dr. Bahaeddin Şakir.

00:41:11:23 - 00:41:36:09
Bedross Der Matossian
But these groups that were released from the prisons actually were, as a result of temporary laws that were attached by the government, they were released in order to serve in the army, and most of them were - some them were sent to the east to fight against Armenians or take part in the genocide. Most Armenian men were drafted into the army, then disarmed and put into labor camps.

00:41:36:11 - 00:42:19:17
Bedross Der Matossian
Those who were put into later labor camps were the suspicious, quote unquote elements, and Armenians constituted in the majority, I would say, of the labor camps. They mostly were designated to work on the railroad - Baghdad-Berlin Railroad - and in the Amanus mountains, and after which they were liquidated. So community leaders were arrested on April 24, 1915, in Constantinople - Istanbul - and put to death soon after. With all its able-bodied men in the army, and without the leadership, the Armenian population now was defenseless and more vulnerable than ever.

00:42:19:19 - 00:42:58:17
Bedross Der Matossian
And these are some images of some of the major Armenian intellectuals that were arrested and killed as a result of the Armenian genocide, the most prominent of whom are Krikor Zhorab, Daniel Varoujan, Rupen Zartarian - these are the crème of la crème of the Armenian intellectual elite. So think about that too. I mean, genocide wasn't - it wasn't only the physical destruction of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, but also destruction of the intellectual legacy that has - that did not go - it wasn't passed to a future generation.

00:42:58:19 - 00:43:29:18
Bedross Der Matossian
Of course, in the past, Armenian genocide was considered as one event. It started in 1915, ended up in 1923. But recent scholarship has come to demonstrate that the Armenian genocide had at least two phases for sure. First phase is the Young Turks liquidation plan that targeted only the population of the six eastern provinces, considered to be the Armenians’ historical lands in spring and fall of 1915.

00:43:29:21 - 00:44:02:10
Bedross Der Matossian
This is the first phase. Six Armenian vilayets (that’s what they were called) - which they were a strong presence of Armenians and was considered as the historical homeland by Armenians. The second phase is between February and December 1916: targeted whoever left alive from these caravans and also the population of Cilicia and were taken to the concentration camps in Syria or upper Mesopotamia.

00:44:02:12 - 00:44:34:14
Bedross Der Matossian
So the decision to destroy these remaining - whatever remained out of the two phases was taken in late February or early March 1916 and affected half a million surviving deportees who had reached Syria and Mesopotamia at least six months earlier. Some at the final phase between 1919-1922, where about 20% of Armenians from Cilicia, who survived the genocide, went back to Cilicia.

00:44:34:14 - 00:45:03:14
Bedross Der Matossian
And then as a result of the Mustafa Kemalist offense, they had to leave back and some were massacred, even. So, that's called the final phase, which is 1919 and 1922.
 This is a very important map that shows the direction of the movement of the caravans. Of course, Armenians did not take the business class on planes or first class.

00:45:03:14 - 00:45:35:17
Bedross Der Matossian
They had to walk under dire conditions from far away places like Sivas and all the way down to this area of Aleppo. I’ve done extensive work on Sivas, for example, and followed the caravans - Kangal, Malatya - and eventually ending up here. Again, there is more research that's coming out from historians trying to show the sophisticated aspect or complex aspect of the genocide.

00:45:35:20 - 00:46:04:09
Bedross Der Matossian
It wasn't kind of clear-cut - “the Turk is the enemy.” There were many Muslims and Turks who helped Armenians to survive, who helped Armenians specifically in the areas of [unclear], for example, and other areas. And this shows the concentration camps which were built during the 1916 period. And eventually all of those were destroyed and the rest were sent down to the desert.

00:46:04:12 - 00:46:22:18
Bedross Der Matossian
How the genocide was carried out? Of course, armed groups would come to a village and take remaining able-bodied males to the outskirts of town and massacre them. And of course, I've read a lot of memoirs and I've listened to a lot of oral testimonies, you know, oral testimonies. We have about 1500 oral testimonies from the Armenian genocide.

00:46:22:20 - 00:46:46:11
Bedross Der Matossian
This was a major project carried out during the 1970s. Now everyone is dead. There's nothing - there is - no one exists. There were - all of them would say the same thing: one day, one night in April or May, they came, knock on the door, took my dad, and we never heard back from him. Women, children, and elderly then ordered to prepare for deportation. Valuables were registered and stored for safekeeping.

00:46:46:14 - 00:47:37:15
Bedross Der Matossian
Caravans were preyed upon by marauding bands, stole remaining valuables, raped and killed survivors. And of course, girls were carried off, children enslaved or raised as Kurds or Turks. Another aspect is nature played a dominant role also in the annihilation of Armenians: starvation, disease, exposure, brutality, massacres. Most of those that made it to the desert were killed.
 One important aspect also that recent research has shown, is regional variations of the Armenian genocide - that the Armenian genocide was not kind of, ‘We're giving the order and it's all implemented par excellence on the ground.’ It’s all dependent on the local exigencies, the cooperation or the lack of cooperation of

00:47:37:15 - 00:48:10:11
Bedross Der Matossian
certain, notables, interest groups. In some areas, for example, the governor said, “I'm not going to implement anything.” They were taken out of position. Other places, like Dyarbakir, the governor was fierce, fierce anti-Armenian and played a dominant role in initiating the genocide against Armenians. And there are other major, important officers that did not want to take...rejected to be part of the plan.

00:48:10:11 - 00:48:45:07
Bedross Der Matossian
So this is a very important thing to represent: that genocide itself is a complex phenomenon. It takes place based on different variations within the provinces. You cannot have specific - not everyone is obeying the order, let's say.
 Of course, Jesse Jackson, the consul of Aleppo, says “between 4300-4500 families - 28,000 people - are being removed by order of the government from the districts of Zeitun and Marash—”

00:48:45:07 - 00:49:13:12
Bedross Der Matossian
This is in Cilicia. Marash - I'm a descendant of Marash. My family came from Marash. “—where they are unknown, and in distinctly non-Christian communities. Thousands have already been sent northwest into the provinces of Konia, Cesarea [which is Kayseri], Castiamouni - while others have been taken southeasterly as far as Deir ez-Zor, and reports say to the vicinity of Baghdad.” Why am I quoting this? This is another testimony from American Consul Jesse Jackson.

00:49:13:15 - 00:49:45:08
Bedross Der Matossian
All of these types of eyewitness accounts or reports by Americans were sent to the American government. And hence, that's why I say testimony of the Armenian genocide is partly also of American eyewitness accounts.
The Armenian genocide was not only - did not only target the physical Armenian destruction, it also targeted the Armenian economy and Armenian properties.

00:49:45:10 - 00:50:21:27
Bedross Der Matossian
Armenians were doing well in the 19th century as industrialists, factory owners, merchants - and all their houses were confiscated by the Ottoman government and appropriated by the Turkish Republic. And this confiscation/appropriation finally plays an important role also in the emergence of the Muslim bourgeoisie class during the Republican period. Only small number of Armenians remained in the former Ottoman capital of Constantinople.

00:50:21:29 - 00:50:44:19
Bedross Der Matossian
What were the reactions to the Armenian genocide? Most Armenians didn't know what was happening until it was too late. People really thought that they were going out for deportation, then they were going to come back eventually. Some did come back after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, but others never had the chance to come back. My grandfather always had said that

00:50:44:19 - 00:51:14:21
Bedross Der Matossian
he might - after the first decade of being deported, he said that he thought he might return back. Eventually, nothing happened. Church leaders at the time urged villagers not to give in to provocation. Some organized self-defense or fled. It’s not that Armenians were only victims. They did fight. There were uprisings in Van and other places. But these were minor in comparison to what was happening.
 Turks, Kurds and others,

00:51:14:21 - 00:51:42:26
Bedross Der Matossian
many took advantage of the situation - looting, killing. It was an important opportunity now to make a material gain out of the genocide to - it’s not only that, you know, it's not “Islam, that's why we're killing.” There's also economic dimension of the genocide: it's an easy access to money, easy access to property. Some risked their lives, some Muslims, Turks, Kurds risked their lives to help save Armenians.

00:51:42:26 - 00:52:13:09
Bedross Der Matossian
many news reports, diplomatic protests. Some were able to save Armenians, such as missionaries, or Near East Relief, or the American Red Cross. But there was no humanitarian intervention. The concept of humanitarian intervention is an important concept because it goes back to the 19th century. Humanitarian intervention entails that whenever there was the fear or the act of massacres, European powers intervened in the Ottoman Empire.

00:52:13:11 - 00:52:45:00
Bedross Der Matossian
They intervened in the case of Greece, in the case of Damascus, and in the case of Crete. But they never intervened in the case of the Hamidian massacres, in the case of the Adana massacres, in the case of the Armenian genocide. Davide Rodogno, an important scholar on the humanitarian intervention, says, for example, that unless there was no consensus among the European powers, then no one is going to gain anything out of intervention.

00:52:45:02 - 00:53:17:23
Bedross Der Matossian
No one would intervene. They will only intervene if no one was going to gain anything out of it. But realizing the European powers at the time, they weren't interested in humanitarianism. No one intervened because they had different policies. Some were anti-Russian, some pro-Russian, some were with the Ottoman Empire, some were against Armenians or against Ottomans. So again, this idea of European intervention, humanitarian intervention is a very problematic concept.

00:53:17:25 - 00:54:07:20
Bedross Der Matossian
There is no humanitarianism, there is no intervention for the sake of helping Christian lives. And this is something that I also discuss in “The Horrors of Adana” (that’s the second book).
 New York Times mentioned extensively about Armenian genocide. You can go to the New York Times website and the caricature that I showed you at the beginning of the talk was from the New York Times, 2015 edition, April 13 by a New York Times caricaturist - cartoonist - Patrick Chappatte in which he says, You remember the Ottoman officers telling everyone entering the train, “The concept of genocide does not exist yet,

00:54:07:20 - 00:54:33:07
Bedross Der Matossian
you know.” That's one of the denialist approach to understand what's happening.
 This is a basic kind of result [of the genocide]: For example: 1914, there were 225,000 Armenians in the province of Sivas. Then you have 5,000. So these are the major Armenian provinces that existed in this section. As you can see, these are the six Armenian provinces.

00:54:33:09 - 00:55:03:10
Bedross Der Matossian
And you see that you have a really major number here. If you add, all of them would be above 1 million Armenians living there. And the result [of the genocide] here: maybe about 15 to 20,000 Armenians. But again, as I said, besides the Armenian provinces here, Armenians did come back to this section of Adana, a few thousands of them, with the hope that the French were going to provide them with protection and become a French colony.

00:55:03:12 - 00:55:25:25
Bedross Der Matossian
But that did not take place, and they were betrayed by the French. And until today, they talk about it.
 Another important thing that we have to discuss here: the way in which European powers, the British and the French used minorities in the Ottoman Empire by mobilizing them, by giving them false promises that once the war ends, you'll get whatever you want.

00:55:25:27 - 00:56:08:06
Bedross Der Matossian
Arabs, as you saw, Armenians, Assyrians, many other groups. Armenians were part of the Légion d’Orient in the French army. The British incited Armenians a prize, for example, with the aim and hope that they're going to get independence. But nothing happened.
 What's the aftermath? 1914, there were 2,538 Armenian churches, 451 monasteries, and nearly 2,000 schools. Today, outside of Istanbul, Armenians possess six churches, no monasteries and no school.

00:56:08:08 - 00:56:41:23
Bedross Der Matossian
Nearly all movable properties was either confiscated by the government, looted by the mobs or seized during the death marches. By 1923, a 3,000-year-old civilization virtually ceased to exist. And the remaining Armenians who lived in the beginning of the Republican Period after the Lausanne Treaty suffered extreme persecution and discrimination. One and a half million - more than one half of the Armenian population on its historic homeland - were decimated.

00:56:41:25 - 00:57:20:28
Bedross Der Matossian
Now, of course, Americans played an important role in saving the Armenians, you know, famously. I think maybe the Museum has these posters, I'm not sure. The famous one is “They Shall Not Perish.” The Armenian girl is kind of hugging the Lady Liberty here - “Give or We Perish.” So about over $1 billion US dollar was raised for the Armenians during the - in the aftermath of the Armenian genocide. And the concept of “starving Armenians” - which is very problematic but at the time made sense, actually - was part of the American culture.

00:57:21:04 - 00:57:57:24
Bedross Der Matossian
If you ask your grandparents - during Sunday dinners, they would say, “Eat, eat, and remember the starving Armenians.”
 So repercussions of the Armenian genocide:
 Creation of the modern diaspora.
 Around 55,000 Armenians live in Istanbul.
 The names of Armenian villages, cities, mountains, rivers and even animals have been changed to Turkish names.
 Ancient churches and other historic sites are being intentionally neglected or destroyed.

00:57:57:27 - 00:58:33:25
Bedross Der Matossian
Much of Armenian culture has been lost, and nearly all traces of 4000 - that’s an exaggeration, 2000 years of Armenian existence on those lands had been eliminated.
 So what's the genocide denial? Of course, in genocide studies, denial - according to Gregory Stanton - is the last phase of genocide, because denial is a continuation of the genocide. When you deny, you are causing not only psychological but also mental trauma, continuing the traumatic suffering of the descendants of the genocide, if not the genocide survivors.

00:58:33:27 - 00:59:00:18
Bedross Der Matossian
To this day, the Turkish government is actively and aggressively engaged in genocide denial. I mean, there's no - everyone knows that the Turkish government monitors all activities in the United States universities. Whenever there's a genocide conference, they immediately send a representative to try to block that. But since 2021, when the United States officially recognized Armenian genocide, things have been more calm,

00:59:00:18 - 00:59:38:21
Bedross Der Matossian
I think. Turkey currently pays millions to U.S. lobbying and PR firms to plan and implement its denial campaign with the U.S. government and the U.S. media. This is true before 2021. It continues until today. Turkey has funded Turkish studies programs to promote Turkish view in order to counter Armenian allegations. And today, due to changes in technology and methods of communication, denial has become much more efficient, because you don't need to go to lecture in order to make your case about the so-called Armenian genocide.

00:59:38:23 - 01:00:01:25
Bedross Der Matossian
It's through Internet, through social media, you can represent your case. Also, court cases have been filed about the Armenian genocide under the rubric of freedom of speech - that denial of genocide is part of freedom of speech. “I am expressing my point of view. You can’t criticize me. I can deny whatever I want. I can deny the Holocaust.

01:00:01:25 - 01:00:38:26
Bedross Der Matossian
I can deny anything. So you cannot, you know, judge me.” That's their argument. Also, scholarship plays an important role here - quote unquote scholarship, because there are at least one U.S. press that publishes denial scholarship under the umbrella of, you know, legitimate scholarship.
 What do denialists say? Of course, denialism in - Turkish denialism has shifted in the course of history.

01:00:38:29 - 01:01:01:10
Bedross Der Matossian
One thing we have to remember also, that crimes against - crimes that were perpetrated by the Young Turks were accepted after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, by the Ottoman government in Istanbul. There were military tribunals that were established accepting the crimes. But after the Republican Period, a long process of denialism began:
 “It was a civil war.”

01:01:01:13 - 01:01:23:24
Bedross Der Matossian
“The numbers of the Armenian deaths is grossly inflated.”
 “We are the real victims.”
 “They died exposed to harsh climate conditions.”
 “More Muslims died during the same period.”
 “Armenians sided with Russia in plotting against the empire.”
 You know, when you say “Armenians sided with Russia,” it means that 1 million Armenians took weapons and went and fought with Russia!

01:01:23:26 - 01:01:54:18
Bedross Der Matossian
A few hundred Armenians joining the Russian army as units does not justify a genocide.
 Armenians began using the term “genocide” after 1960s because they wanted to copy the case of the Holocaust. Again, some denialists would say, “Well, the concept of genocide did not exist back then. We shouldn't call it genocide.” So does this mean that every case of mass murder that falls under the category of genocide should not be called genocide?

01:01:54:20 - 01:02:43:27
Bedross Der Matossian
Of course, finally - after long efforts by Armenian groups, human rights groups, Armenian lobbies, Armenian activist groups - the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the Resolution 296 on October 29 and December 12 consecutively. Which says, “Whereas the United States has a proud history of recognizing and condemning the Armenian genocide, the killing of one and a half million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923, and providing relief to the survivors of the Armenian campaign of genocide against Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, Maronites and other Christians.” Of course it’s not only - does not target the Armenians. But this was a major, major step forward towards recognizing the Armenian genocide.

01:02:44:04 - 01:03:15:22
Bedross Der Matossian
And President Biden, on his April 24 statement, recognized the Armenian genocide. They were saying, “Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such atrocity from ever again occurring. Beginning on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of the Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination.

01:03:15:25 - 01:03:37:08
Bedross Der Matossian
We honor the victims of the Meds Yeghern—” (Meds Yeghern in Armenian means The Great Catastrophe) “—so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history. And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms.”

01:03:37:10 - 01:04:11:15
Bedross Der Matossian
Now, the final section of this discussion will deal with the million-dollar question: What led to the Armenian genocide? Some scholars would argue that religion played an important role. It was Muslims versus Christians, it was the hatred of Christians and that led to the Armenian genocide. This approach has been debunked because genocide is a very much complex phenomenon. You cannot attribute it to one factor.

01:04:11:17 - 01:04:46:00
Bedross Der Matossian
Is it nationalism? Was it a clash of nationalisms? If you say if it's a clash of nationalisms, then you would expect that the Armenian nationalism is on par, the same level of Turkish nationalism. So it's a clash of nationalisms. I don't buy that either. It wasn't a land issue or a territory issue. There is a much more important argument here, which is the following: That in the end of the day, the Young Turks were imperial nationalists.

01:04:46:02 - 01:05:23:10
Bedross Der Matossian
They wanted to preserve the Ottoman Empire. Of course, nationalism and imperialism - or empire, national, empire are antithesis. But for the case of the Young Turks, they were imperial nationalists. They wanted to keep, to preserve the territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire. Even if that meant to get rid of the Armenian question, which was a major - from their perspective - a major problem for the constant European meddling and Russian meddling in the internal affairs of the Ottoman Empire.

01:05:23:10 - 01:05:53:25
Bedross Der Matossian
So land plays an important role. Was it a premeditated event? Meaning, was there a blueprint before entering the war, saying that in 1913 or 14 they took a decision and then once we get into the war, then will we implement the genocide? I don't think that there is a blueprint per se, prior to World War I, and decisions for the genocide were taking place as the war was happening.

01:05:53:25 - 01:06:22:04
Bedross Der Matossian
And that's why we have the concept of cumulative radicalization. Meaning, eventually these are taking place in 1915, 16 and 17. And of course, it is a centralized - unlike what's represented in nationalist, Turkish nationalist historiography, that Ottoman Empire was in a chaotic situation, there wasn't center periphery - it was a central administration ruling the periphery, too. Orders were going from the center.

01:06:22:06 - 01:06:58:29
Bedross Der Matossian
And as I said, the results would vary depending on the local exigencies within different regions. So cumulative radicalization took place during World War I in order to solve the Armenian question. It wasn't a religious factor. It was more an imperial national factor, I think, to preserve the integrity of the Ottoman Empire.
 I also disagree with the continuum approach that is prominent in certain historiographies of the field.

01:06:59:02 - 01:07:44:02
Bedross Der Matossian
The continuum approach argues that the Armenian genocide is the result of a longer phase of genocides that took place in the course of history. And they view the genocide at the beginning, of the Hamidian massacres, and it ends with the Armenian genocide. So it was kind of a continuum, continuum process. I disagree with this approach. I think that Hamidian massacres took place in a different setting, had its own - had different factors contributing to it. The Adana massacres, which I'm very familiar with, cannot be - is not part of a continuum. It's a separate event taking place as a result of the revolution

01:07:44:02 - 01:08:12:19
Bedross Der Matossian
(I would say the major event is the revolution that led to the disruption of the power equilibrium that existed in the region) - and finally, the Armenian genocide, because these are different events. But one thing is important - one thing important that we have to remember: the level of tension that existed in the East by the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, where a major or minor event would lead to cataclysmic violence.

01:08:12:21 - 01:08:46:18
Bedross Der Matossian
So of course, as in the Holocaust literature, you have also the intentionalists versus functionalists. I mean, did the Turks hate Armenians so much that they, you know, implemented genocide? Then you have functionalists - and I believe in functionalism in the Armenian genocide. It's not that everyone hated the Armenians and that's why they were waiting for the opportunity to kill all of them.

01:08:46:21 - 01:09:22:14
Bedross Der Matossian
So Armenian genocide was followed by other Ottoman genocides. Let's see - Ukrainian famine. What happening - when you see what's happening in Ukraine, the Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur and hopefully nothing in the future. But I'm pessimist because we never learn from the past and “Never Again” is just a motto which doesn't serve anyone, I think. Thank you very much. [applause]

01:09:22:16 - 01:09:45:27
Lora Vogt
Dr. Der Matossian, thank you very much. And if you are in our audience, I would invite you to either of the standing mics on either side of the auditorium. And if you are online, I would invite you to our live chat.

01:09:45:29 - 01:10:15:25
Speaker 3
Well, I will lead off with the first question, and I'm very interested in the reporting. With so many of the other genocides that have occurred throughout history, it took really large efforts to make the countries outside and people outside of the area where they were taking place aware. Can you speak at all to how the West and the world became aware of what was happening to the Armenians in 1915 and onward?

01:10:15:27 - 01:10:50:28
Bedross Der Matossian
Well, at the time when the event was taking place, everyone was aware as to what was happening. But eventually, you know, things change with the British colonialism, French colonialism, the Middle East, the mandate system, Turkish-American relationship strengthened because mainly - for years - towards economic interest rather than moral interests. And eventually things faded. Lonely people who kept talking about the genocide were the Armenians themselves, and it took a few generations to really erase it on the international level.

01:10:51:00 - 01:11:21:22
Bedross Der Matossian
That's very important. But also we have to remember the Turkish Republic stance towards the Armenians and towards Armenian genocide. For example, in 1933 when Franz Werfel wrote “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh,” in 1934, MGM wanted to make a movie out of it. Has anyone read “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh”? A very important book, actually. And 1934, they wanted to make an MGM movie about it. Immediately

01:11:21:22 - 01:11:51:23
Bedross Der Matossian
Turkish government contacts the embassy. Ambassador Ertegün at the time puts pressure on the American government to really put aside this project. This is 1934. And since then - I mean, since the beginning - 1920s - the beginning of the Turkish Republic, not only the Ottoman past was decimated, but also any relation to Armenians or anything about Armenians was really sidelined. Not only Armenians, but other ethnic groups.

01:11:51:26 - 01:12:04:16
Bedross Der Matossian
So Turkish history for the Turkish Republic began in 1919 in May: so, with Kemal Atatürk.

01:12:04:18 - 01:12:18:20
Speaker 4
Can you speak a little bit about the - you mentioned that there were about 50,000 Armenians right now in Istanbul. What’s that situation like, are they welcome there? Do they still experience persecution?

01:12:18:22 - 01:12:47:26
Bedross Der Matossian
A very good question. I mean, yes, they are living as long as they don't get involved in politics, let's say in Armenian diasporic politics. They don't talk about genocide, they don't initiate events. But also, I have to talk here about that. I need to talk here about, Turkish scholars who for the past three decades have been also talking about the Armenian genocide and doing research.

01:12:47:29 - 01:13:10:16
Bedross Der Matossian
New research is coming out from Turkish scholars about the Armenian genocide. So it's no more the ‘70s or the ’60s where you have everyone running under the same banner. And these people are even - recently they're being criticized, some of them jailed, too, you know, for their views. But the Armenians are living in a kind of a quote unquote, hostage situation in Istanbul.

01:13:10:18 - 01:13:40:06
Bedross Der Matossian
They are a religious group, not national group. They are represented by their own religious figures. They have their national kind of councils. As long as they're not kind of involved in political issues, you know, dealing with the diaspora, with diasporic politics, criticizing Turkey on that's a minority game card that they play on.

01:13:40:08 - 01:14:01:23
Speaker 5
So you're sort of speaking, to an extent, near the end - but there are so many other groups in the Ottoman Empire that are developing this national consciousness near the end of or during this period. I could - I guess, is there any other kind of investigation into the uniqueness of the Armenians as a target? Why weren't Greek Christians treated to the same extent?

01:14:01:23 - 01:14:09:22
Speaker 5
Obviously, they were probably targeted, but why was it that 90% of Armenians were killed as opposed to in other groups?

01:14:09:28 - 01:14:29:10
Bedross Der Matossian
I mean, it's not only that Armenians were killed - Pontiac Greeks were killed. The Sayfo took place with the Assyrian genocide in the southern region [of Anatolia], Urmia and upper section [of Persia]. But Armenians were kind of the largest Christian minority in the Ottoman Empire, and they were sitting -

01:14:29:12 - 01:14:56:25
Bedross Der Matossian
they were positioned in a very strategic position in the Ottoman Empire. And when the Ottoman Empire lost its Balkan provinces, Anatolia became the Turkish heartland, Turkish nationalist heartland. So anything - and they feared, there was a fear by the Turks, too. It’s not a justifiable fear, but there was a fear that Armenians are going to side with the Russians and the Russians are going to liberate Armenia.

01:14:56:25 - 01:15:04:27
Bedross Der Matossian
And then we were going only to take - we're going to have only Istanbul and Bursa and that's it. And the whole, the Ottoman Empire is going to collapse.

01:15:05:00 - 01:15:30:25
Lora Vogt
And we have time for two more questions. The first is going to come from YouTube and the second will be here from the stairs. Laurence Kafer - hopefully I say your name correctly - wanted to follow up with your comment about religion. “Seeing that some Armenians were spared - or that there is evidence or discussion about that when they converted to Islam -

01:15:30:27 - 01:15:35:25
Lora Vogt
didn't a jihad mentality play a part in the genocide?”

01:15:35:28 - 01:15:59:28
Bedross Der Matossian
Of course, jihad as a concept itself was German. Germany was behind the concept of jihad, too. It was a mobilization tool. It wasn't that everyone believed in jihad, all right? And I mean, Germany is a kind of Christian country. And while it's your ally [unclear] jihadism, mobilization tool. But Armenians, some Armenians, did convert to Islam.

01:16:00:00 - 01:16:25:23
Bedross Der Matossian
And today we have the phenomenon of Islamicized Armenians. Some Armenians converted to Islam out of necessity, and some switched back to Christianity, and some remained as Muslims (but not large categories). But you have other Armenians who converted to, who switched to Protestant Armenians or Catholic Armenians to be under the protection of the British or the French.

01:16:25:23 - 01:16:43:23
Bedross Der Matossian
But it didn't matter for the Ottomans or the Young Turks - or whatever was the government at the time - leaders that, you know, you’re Armenian at the end of the day. But they did switch to - became Muslims and they were saved as such. It was a - sometimes you have hundreds of people doing that, sometimes a village, a whole village.

01:16:43:25 - 01:16:56:00
Bedross Der Matossian
But the majority were killed during the genocide. There was the option actually, there was the option - sometimes that option was not presented.

01:16:56:03 - 01:17:08:18
Speaker 6
Have there been any modern movements or semi-modern movements to try and preserve or revive any of the remaining Armenian culture that possibly was lost?

01:17:08:21 - 01:17:53:27
Bedross Der Matossian
Yeah, very, very good point. I mean, there are certain nonprofit organizations in Turkey. One of them is the Anatolian Culture, a nonprofit organization whose leader, Osman Kavala, is today in the prison. So that tells you a lot about the efforts of nonprofit organizations. But to that extent, I mean, besides Van, the Holy Cross Church in Van, which was renovated - not as a church, but as an edifice, I should say, because Armenians are not allowed to hold a mass in that church.

01:17:54:00 - 01:18:20:08
Bedross Der Matossian
And then you have in Diyarbakir also the Saint Giragos Church, which was renovated and then destroyed and later renovated. But these are by local - the Saint Giragos Church - by local efforts. It's not a government effort. But there is no - any effort by the government to revive Armenian culture or cultural heritage. And, you know, because then they are going to open the Pandora's box

01:18:20:08 - 01:18:47:25
Bedross Der Matossian
if you start reviving cultural heritage. So that's an intentional policy. I think it's not that they can’t do it - they can do it. And as a matter of fact, today there are groups that go from Armenia - there are tourists that go from Armenia to Eastern Anatolia, quote unquote, western Armenia. They visit Van, they go to Adana and other places as part of, you know, pilgrimage.

01:18:48:00 - 01:19:11:12
Bedross Der Matossian
But that's the - in the past three decades, you have this new phenomenon by Armenians - specifically Armenian-Americans, but also other places that go on pilgrimage tours to visit their ancestral homeland and their villages. But you know, many people - some have kept their keys, for example, but others, they want to see the place that their grandmother used to live, for example,

01:19:11:12 - 01:19:14:12
Bedross Der Matossian
or parents used to live.

01:19:14:14 - 01:19:42:28
Lora Vogt
Now, I know that some of you still have more questions, and I believe Dr. Der Matossian will answer those afterwards. And I would highly suggest that you pick up any of his publications on Amazon or your local bookstore or your local library who is always happy to have your membership as well. Would you please join me in a warm round of applause for Dr. Bedross Der Matossian?

01:19:43:00 - 01:19:43:11
Bedross Der Matossian
Thank you.