“Who afterall today remembers the Armenians?”
– Adolph Hitler
The above quote is one most Armenians, including myself, are familiar with. It was the rationale with which Adolph Hitler responded, when asked by one of his generals how he intended to get away with The Final Solution. Hitler pointed to the forgotten Armenian Genocide as evidence that he could successfully annihilate European Jews.
Last week, Armenians commemorated genocide remembrance day. April 24 is a solemn day for Armenians around the world. It is a day of mourning for the 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred in the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) between 1915 and 1922.
At that time, the empire was engulfed in World War I, and it was losing. Armenians became the unfortunate recipients of nationalistic rage.
The Armenians’ story is far too familiar. It played out in the Jewish Holocaust in the next war and other genocides since. Chillingly, Ottoman Empire soldiers had German soldiers shadowing them, and sending back reports about how the Armenian massacres were being carried out. The Germans learned from the Turks.
For Armenians, such as myself, the horrors of 1915 do not end in 1922. It is an unending genocide, because not only must we still remember it to do justice to the victims, but we must still convince the world that it happened. That’s because the official position of the Turkish government today is that Armenians were killed in a civil war. The government denies there was a genocide, and teaches generations of Turkish children in school textbooks that the Armenian Genocide is a concoction to humiliate Turkey.
Such claims sound just like the claims of Holocaust deniers such as Mahmoud Ahmedinejad of Iran.
Of course, there is countless evidence that there was an Armenian Genocide. My existence is evidence of the genocide, as I am the grandchild of Genocide orphans. But as Armenians repeat all the evidence, point to historians to support their claims, produce books, artworks, music, poems – they are forced to continue to experience the Genocide. And that is tragic. Because the Armenian consciousness is consumed by the Genocide conversation. And the traumatic scar never heals.