A Place for Culture

1915: Flickering Armenian Eyes

© Sait Serkan Gurbuz

Banishment did not pass, like an earthquake, which always spares a certain number of people and houses. Banishment would go on till the last Armenian had either been slaughtered, died of hunger on the roads, of thirst in the desert, or been carried off by spotted typhus or cholera. This time it was not a case of unbridled, haphazard methods, of whipped-up blood-lust, but of something far more terrible—an ordered attack. It was all to go according to a plan worked out in the government offices of Istanbul.

– Ter Haigasun, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh

The First World War was raging in full force when in the capital of the Ottoman Empire began, for all the world to see, what many historians retrospectively called one of the first genocides of the twentieth century.

Under the pretext that the Armenian people had conspired with Russia against the Turks, exactly one hundred years ago the new nationalist government in Constantinople began to arrest its intellectual elite. Subsequently, the general Armenian population fell victim to targeted massacres or was forced on circular death marches through the Syrian desert. According to some reports, up to 1.5 million people were killed in this way.

The depopulated villages and towns in eastern Anatolia were looted and repopulated. Looking at the map today, the numerous Armenian place names have almost completely disappeared. For a more truthful account of history, one has to look elsewhere.

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