The collections

Understanding the Armenian Genocide 1915 to the present day

The centenary of the Armenian genocide gave rise to an important scientific production including a book on the occasion of a major conference that we had already reported. More synthetic and more accessible, the book Understanding the Armenian Genocide. 1915 to the present day written by three great specialists in the question, Raymond H. Kévorkian, teacher at the French Institute of Geopolitics Hamit Bozarslan, historian and political scientist teaching at EHESS, and Vincent Duclert, historian and teacher also at EHESS, published by editions Tallandier proposes to take stock of this major event of the 20th century.

A global story

The work is divided into three parts, each of which was written by one of the authors. The first entitled "The destruction of the Ottoman Armenians" is written by Raymond H. Kévorkian, the second by Hamit Bozarslan focuses on "the ideological, political and organizational foundations of the destruction" and the last part "The Armenian genocide a world history" is the work of Vincent Duclert. By the nature and structure of the book, we can regret certain repetitions and a lack of unity.

The first part is a very successful synthesis of the whole genocidal process of the Hamidian massacres (1894-1896) against the Armenians in the immediate post-war period. The clear chronological account is precise of a few hundred pages and is divided into many sub-sections. Historians distinguish two phases: between April and October 1915 massacres and major deportations take place in Anatolia while between February and December 1916 the destruction of the Armenians in the camps of Syria and Mesopotamia is perpetrated. The text is embellished with numerous cards which facilitate and enrich the understanding of the events. The whole forms a very pleasant, rigorous and pleasant whole for the reader.

The second part develops the foundations and logics of the genocidal policy. The author first shows that the religious border, more than the ethnic one, was reinforced during the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Unionism does not break with Hamidian policy on this point: the Kurds can be assimilated to the future Turkish nation because they are already Muslims unlike the Armenians. This border promotes the image of the Armenian traitor which is propagated by the regime and which even influences certain Western policies. The executioners have a very effective victim speech which “legitimizes” their actions: the Muslim Turks defend themselves against the domination of the Christian Armenians. The context of war made it possible to set up a large-scale policy with the results of significant economic transfers. After a chapter on the intimate nature of this genocide (the executioners knew their victims much better than of the Final Solution), the various actors are mentioned but also the legacy that this policy leaves to the Turkish Republic until today.

Vincent Duclert addresses in a last part the various European reactions to the Hamidian and then Unionist policies against the Armenians. It shows an indirect responsibility of the European powers in the massacres of the end of the XIXth century due to postures which were not followed by any act and which on the contrary weakened the Armenian populations on the spot. The European states pursue objectives in the region which are ultimately not very humanist (imperialist or domestic policy). However, we can underline the rise of public opinion and intellectuals in favor of the Armenian populations and of a true Armenophilia in France. The author explains at length the failures of the treaties and trials that followed the First World War to settle the Armenian question and shows once again that the European powers let it go to support their interests. We regret the absence of maps which would have enabled the reader to follow the territorial developments in Armenia. The question of the memory of the genocide in the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first century is developed in the last chapter.

Our opinion

Understanding the Armenian Genocide. 1915 to the present day is a good book this major event of the twentieth century. Clear and accessible, the book covers many relevant and interesting topics. It also has appendices, a detailed chronology, a glossary, biographical notes and of course a selective bibliography. In short, a book recommended by Histoire pour Tous.

Understanding the Armenian Genocide, 1915 to the present day, by Hamit Bozarslan, Raymond Kévorkian, Vincent Duclert. Tallandier, March 2015.

Video: The Armenian Journey - A Story Of An Armenian Genocide (January 2022).