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Dailymail, UK article

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  • Dailymail, UK article

    The forgotten Holocaust: The Armenian massacre that inspired Hitler



    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...ed-Hitler.html

    When the Turkish gendarmes came for Mugrditch Nazarian, they did not
    give him time to dress, but took him from his home in the dead of night
    in his pyjamas.

    The year was 1915, and his wife, Varter, knew that she was unlikely to
    see her husband alive again. Armenian men like him were being rounded
    up and taken away. In the words of their persecutors, they were being
    "deported" - but not to an earthly place.
    Varter never found out what fate her husband suffered. Some said he was
    shot, others that he was among the men held in jail, who suffered
    torture so unbearable that they poured the kerosene from prison lamps
    over their heads and turned themselves into human pyres as a release
    from the agony.
    Heavily pregnant, Varter was ordered to join a death convoy marching
    women and children to desert concentration camps.


    Genocide:The Ottoman Turks murdered more than 1.5million Armenians
    between 1915 and 1917
    She survived the journey alone - her six children died along the way.
    The two youngest were thrown to their deaths down a mountainside by
    Turkish guards; the other four starved to death at the bottom of a well
    where they had hidden to escape.
    Varter herself was abducted by a man who promised to save her - but
    raped her instead. Eventually, she was released to mourn her lost
    family, the victims of Europe's forgotten holocaust.
    The killing of 1.5m Armenians by the Ottoman Turks during World War I
    remains one of the bloodiest and most contentious events of the 20th
    century, and has been called the first modern genocide.
    In all, 25 concentration camps were set up in a systematic slaughter
    aimed at eradicating the Armenian people - classed as "vermin" by the
    Turks.
    Winston Churchill described the massacres as an "administrative
    holocaust" and noted: "This crime was planned and executed for
    political reasons. The opportunity presented itself for clearing
    Turkish soil of a Christian race."
    Chillingly, Adolf Hitler used the episode to justify the Nazi murder of
    six million Jews, saying in 1939: "Who, after all, speaks today of the
    annihilation of the Armenians?"
    Yet, carried out under the cover of war, the Armenian genocide remains
    shrouded in mystery - not least because modern-day Turkey refuses to
    acknowledge the existence of its killing fields.
    Now, new photographs of the horror have come to light. They come from
    the archives of the German Deutsche Bank, which was working in the
    region financing a railway network when the killing began.
    Unearthed by award-winning war correspondent Robert Fisk, they were
    taken by employees of the bank to document the terror unfolding before
    them.
    They show young men, crammed into cattle trucks, waiting to travel to
    their deaths. The Turks crowded 90 starving and terrified Armenians
    into each wagon, the same number the Nazis averaged in their transports
    to the death camps of Eastern Europe during the Jewish Holocaust.
    Behind each grainy image lies a human tragedy. Destitute women and
    children stare past the camera, witness to untold savagery.
    Almost all young women were raped according to Fisk, while older women
    were beaten to death - they did not merit the expense of a bullet.
    Babies were left by the side of the road to die.
    Often, attractive young Armenian girls were sent to Turkish harems,
    where some lived in enforced prostitution until the mid-1920s.
    Many other archive photographs testify to the sheer brutality suffered
    by the Armenians: children whose knee tendons were severed, a young
    woman who starved to death beside her two small children, and a Turkish
    official taunting starving Armenian children with a loaf of bread.
    Eyewitness accounts are even more graphic. Foreign diplomats posted in
    the Ottoman Empire at the time told of the atrocities, but were
    powerless to act.
    One described the concentration camps, saying: "As on the gates of
    Dante's Hell, the following should be written at the entrance of these
    accursed encampments: 'You who enter, leave all hopes.'"
    So how exactly did the events of 1915-17 unfold? Just as Hitler wanted
    a Nazi-dominated world that would be Judenrein - cleansed of its Jews -
    so in 1914 the Ottoman Empire wanted to construct a Muslim empire that
    would stretch from Istanbul to Manchuria.
    Armenia, an ancient Christian civilisation spreading out from the
    eastern end of the Black Sea, stood in its way.
    At the turn of the 20th century, there were two million Christian
    Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. Already, 200,000 had been
    killed in a series of pogroms - most of them brutally between 1894 and
    1896.
    In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered World War I against the
    Allies and launched a disastrous military campaign against Russian
    forces in the Caucasus. It blamed defeat on the Armenians, claiming
    they had colluded with the Russians.
    A prominent Turkish writer at the time described the war as "the
    awaited day" when the Turks would exact "revenge, the horrors of which
    have not yet been recorded in history".
    Through the final months of 1914, the Ottoman government put together a
    number of "Special Organisation" units, armed gangs consisting of
    thousands of convicts specifically released from prison for the purpose.
    These killing squads of murderers and thieves were to perpetrate the
    greatest crimes in the genocide. They were the first state bureaucracy
    to implement mass killings for the purpose of race extermination. One
    army commander described them at the time as the "butchers of the human
    species".
    On the night of April 24, 1915 - the anniversary of which is marked by
    Armenians around the world - the Ottoman government moved decisively,
    arresting 250 Armenian intellectuals. This was followed by the arrest
    of a further 2,000.
    Scroll down for more ...

    Turkey refuses to acknowledge the killing fields
    Some died from torture in custody, while many were executed in public
    places. The resistance poet, Daniel Varoujan, was found disembowelled,
    with his eyes gouged out.
    One university professor was made to watch his colleagues have their
    fingernails and toenails pulled out, before being blinded. He
    eventually lost his mind, and was let loose naked into the streets.
    There were reports of crucifixions, at which the Turks would torment
    their victims: "Now let your Christ come and help you!"
    Johannes Lepsius, a German pastor who tried to protect the Armenians,
    said: "The armed gangs saw their main task as raiding and looting
    Armenian villages. If the men escaped their grasp, they would rape the
    women."
    So began a carefully orchestrated campaign to eradicate the Armenians.
    Throughout this period, Ottoman leaders deceived the world,
    orchestrating the slaughter using code words in official telegrams.
    At later war crimes trials, several military officers testified that
    the word "deportation" was used to mean "massacre" or "annihilation".
    Between May and August 1915, the Armenian population of the eastern
    provinces was deported and murdered en masse.
    The American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau, said:
    "Squads of 50 or 100 men would be taken, bound together in groups of
    four, and marched to a secluded spot.
    "Suddenly the sound of rifle shots would fill the air. Those sent to
    bury the bodies would find them almost invariably stark naked, for, as
    usual, the Turks had stolen all their clothes."
    In urban areas, a town crier was used to deliver the deportation order,
    and the entire male population would be taken outside the city limits
    and killed - "slaughtered like sheep".
    Women and children would then be executed, deported to concentration
    camps or simply turned out into the deserts and left to starve to death.
    An American diplomat described the deportations or death marches: "A
    massacre, however horrible the word may sound, would be humane in
    comparison with it."
    An eyewitness who came upon a convoy of deportees reported that the
    women implored him: "Save us! We will become Muslims! We will become
    Germans! We will become anything you want, just save us! They are going
    to cut our throats!"
    Walking skeletons begged for food, and women threw their babies into
    lakes rather than hand them over to the Turks.
    There was mass looting and pillaging of Armenian goods. It is reported
    that civilians burned bodies to find the gold coins the Armenians
    swallowed for safekeeping.
    Conditions in the concentration camps were appalling. The majority were
    located near the modern Iraqi and Syrian frontiers, in the desert
    between Jerablus and Deir ez-Zor - described as "the epicentre of
    death". Up to 70,000 Armenians were herded into each camp, where
    dysentery and typhus were rife.
    There, they were left to starve or die of thirst in the burning sun,
    with no shelter. In some cases, the living were forced to eat the dead.
    Few survived.
    In four days alone, from 10-14 June 1915, the gangs 'eliminated' some
    25,000 people in the Kemah Erzincan area alone.
    In September 1915, the American consul in Kharput, Leslie A. Davis,
    reported discovering the bodies of nearly 10,000 Armenians dumped into
    several ravines near beautiful Lake Goeljuk, calling it the
    "slaughterhouse province".
    Tales of atrocity abound. Historians report that the killing squads
    dashed infants on rocks in front of their mothers.
    One young boy remembered his grandfather, the village priest, kneeling
    down to pray for mercy before the Turks. Soldiers beheaded him, and
    played football with the old man's decapitated head before his
    devastated family.
    At the horrific Ras-ul-Ain camp near Urfa, two German railway engineers
    reported seeing three to four hundred women arrive in one day,
    completely naked. One witness told how Sergeant Nuri, the overseer of
    the camp, bragged about raping children.
    An American, Mrs Anna Harlowe Birge, who was travelling from Smyrna to
    Constantinople, wrote in November 1915: "At every station where we
    stopped, we came side by side with one of these trains. It was made up
    of cattle trucks, and the faces of little children were looking out
    from behind the tiny barred windows of each truck."
    In her memoir, Ravished Armenia, Aurora Mardiganian described being
    raped and thrown into a harem. From a wealthy banking family, she was
    just one of thousands of Armenian girls to suffer a similar fate. Many
    were eventually killed and discarded.
    In the city of Malatia, she saw 16 girls crucified, vultures eating
    their corpses. "Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross, spikes
    through her feet and hands," Mardiganian wrote. "Only their hair blown
    by the wind covered their bodies."
    In another town, she reports that the killing squads played "the game
    of swords" with young Armenian girls, planting their weapons in the
    ground and throwing their victims onto the protruding blade in sport.
    Elsewhere, bodies tied to each other drifted down the Euphrates. And in
    the Black Sea region, the Armenians were herded onto boats and then
    thrown overboard.
    In the desert regions, the Turks set up primitive gas chambers,
    stuffing Armenians into caves and asphyxiating them with brush fires.
    Everywhere, there were Armenian corpses: in lakes and rivers, in empty
    desert cisterns and village wells. Travellers reported that the stench
    of death pervaded the landscape.
    One Turkish gendarme told a Norwegian nurse serving in Erzincan that he
    had accompanied a convoy of 3,000 people. Some were summarily executed
    in groups along the way; those too sick or exhausted to march were
    killed where they fell. He concluded: "They're all gone, finished."
    By 1917, the Armenian 'problem', as it was described by Ottoman
    leaders, had been thoroughly "resolved". Muslim families were brought
    in to occupy empty villages.
    Even after the war, the Ottoman ministers were not repentant. In 1920,
    they praised those responsible for the genocide, saying: "These things
    were done to secure the future of our homeland, which we know is
    greater and holier than even our own lives."
    The British government pushed for those responsible for the killing to
    be punished, and in 1919 a war crimes tribunal was set up.
    The use of the word "genocide" in describing the massacre of Armenians
    has been hotly contested by Turkey. Ahead of the nation's accession to
    the EU, it is even more politically inflammatory.
    The official Turkish position remains that 600,000 or so Armenians died
    as a result of war. They deny any state intention to wipe out Armenians
    and the killings remain taboo in the country, where it is illegal to
    use the term genocide to describe the events of those bloody years.
    Internationally, 21 countries have recognised the killings as genocide
    under the UN 1948 definition. Armenian campaigners believe Turkey
    should be denied EU membership until it admits responsibility for the
    massacres.
    Just as in the Nazi Holocaust, there were many tales of individual acts
    of great courage by Armenians and Turks alike.
    Haji Halil, a Muslim Turk, kept eight members of his mother's Armenian
    family safely hidden in his home, risking death.
    In some areas, groups of Kurds followed the deportation convoys and
    saved as many people as they could. Many mothers gave their children to
    Turkish and Kurdish families to save them from death.
    The Governor-General of Aleppo stood up to Ottoman officials and tried
    to prevent deportations from his region, but failed.
    He later recalled: "I was like a man standing by a river without any
    means of rescue. But instead of water, the river flowed with blood and
    thousands of innocent children, blameless old men, helpless women and
    strong young people all on their way to destruction.
    "Those I could seize with my hands I saved. The others, I assume,
    floated downstream, never to return."

    [N
    General Antranik (1865-1927): I am not a nationalist. I recognize only one nation, the nation of the oppressed.
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