Dr. Abel H. Manoukian
On 24 April 1915, hundreds of Armenian intellectuals, such as writers, lawyers, politicians, doctors, artists, teachers, well-known entrepreneurs and clergymen were arrested in Constantinople and also in the other major cities of Turkey, deported to the depths of Anatolia and there, almost without exception, brutally killed. In this way, the Armenian people also lost their intellectual elite after their wholesome male population was conscripted to serve in the Turkish army, first disarmed and then killed in labour battalions.
The fact that Armenians had supported the Russian army in the hope of independence and that Armenian volunteer battalions on the Russian side had taken part in the fighting reinforced the distorted image of an alleged Armenian sabotage plan within the Young Turks leadership. Although the majority of the Armenian civilian population and the soldiers serving in the Ottoman army remained loyal, the state leadership held the Armenians collectively responsible for the military problems in Eastern Anatolia and used the Russian invasion to deport the majority of the Armenian population to Der Zor (today: Dayr az-Zawr) in the hostile desert country of Syria, which belonged to the Ottoman Empire at that time.
Under the leadership of the Young Turks, more than 1.5 million Armenians were killed in 1915. Thus, the whole of historic Western Armenia and Cilicia were emptied of the Armenian population. This was the first genocide of the 20th century and is denied as such by Turkey to this day.
Official documents reveal little about the instructions for mass murder issued by Talaat and the other members of the government. Nevertheless, some official testimonies that have come to our knowledge which exist so far, prove the involvement of numerous state agencies in political measures against the Armenians. There are also countless reports from eyewitnesses, various European diplomats, humanitarian workers and missionaries, as well as travelers and businessmen who were in the Ottoman Empire at the time. Not to be forgotten are the survivors of the genocide, whose testimony paints a clear picture of what took place at the beginning of the 20th century, first in Western Armenia (Anatolia), then in Mesopotamia and in the desert land of Syria.
In the Ottoman Empire – today’s Turkey – several American and European missionaries were active, who carried out great humanitarian work and saved many Armenians from certain death. The authentic evidence and testimonies from this period, which are now preserved in the various American, European and Armenian archives, can document these events and have been placed in the service of objective truth-finding through numerous studies, so that henceforth questioning the historic facts is in no way justifiable from a scientific point of view.