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242.01 War > Armenian massacres (1915-1923)
Based on estimates possibly a million died though the Turkish government denies it happened despite all evidence to the contrary with massacres of many thousands occurring in Bitlis (June 1915) and Trebizond (July 1915). The hidden nature of the massacres meant that very few photographs survive - this was not an event intended for the newspapers even though over 194 articles have appeared in the New York Times alone and the genocide of the Armenians and the depopulation of areas was reported in 1915. The American Ambassador to the Ottoman Court, Henry Morgenthau, sent a telegram to the U.S. State Department on 20 July 1915 that protested the "race extermination" of the Armenians by the Ottoman government.
There are photographs of the hangings in the major cities and of Armenian refugees going to the deserts of Der el Zor. The lack of photographic evidence made denial easier for the Turkish Government and it was the lack of an public outcry that allowed Adolf Hitler when he was starting the Final Solution - a euphemism for the extermination of a number of diverse groups in Europe during the Second World War to write:
I have issued the command — and I'll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad — that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formations in readiness — for the present only in the East — with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?
- Λ The text above is the English version of the German document handed to Louis P. Lochner in Berlin. It first appeared in - Louis P. Lochner, 1942, What About Germany? (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co.), pp. 1-4. The Nuremberg Tribunal later identified the document as L-3 or Exhibit USA-28. Two other versions of the same document appear in Appendices II and III. For the German original cf. 1956, Akten zur Deutschen Auswartigen Politik 1918-1945, Serie D, Band VII, (Baden-Baden), pp. 171-172.