Rethinking the Armenian Genocide

The year 1915 saw the start of the Armenian genocide in Turkey. In his account of the complex historical background to these events Donald Bloxham focuses on the issue of great power involvement.

Armenian civilians, escorted by armed Ottoman soldiers, are marched through Harput (Kharpert), April 1915.Approximately one million Armenian Christians were murdered in 1915-16 under the auspices of the Ottoman state, directed by the ruling Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). Evidence for this state-sponsored mass destruction is too strong to waste any space demonstrating why the controversial ‘G’ word, genocide, is entirely applicable to the case. Yet, contrary to an ‘Armenian’ historiography that is keen – partly as a response to ongoing Turkish state denial – to enforce a standard line on how the genocide is interpreted, there is ample scope for debate about the relationship between state intention and circumstantial contingency in the development of the genocide from 1914, and, indeed, long before.

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