The other side of genocide

From 1915-18, the Ottoman Turks killed more than a million Armenians, the first genocide of the 20th century. In a speech to Wehrmacht commanders, Adolf Hitler urged ruthlessness, saying, “Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?” But the Turkish government disputes the historical record (and the Hitler quote), and now there’s a federal lawsuit charging that Massachusetts’ textbooks that teach the fate of the Armenians aren’t balanced. From the LA Times:

Griswold vs. Driscoll was filed last fall by high school senior Ted Griswold, two of his teachers and a Turkish-American advocacy organization. The plaintiffs contend that Department of Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll and other state officials violated the 1st Amendment by removing material from a human rights curriculum that questioned whether the mass killings nearly a century ago constituted genocide . . .

Six years ago, the Massachusetts Legislature mandated that high schools offer a curriculum on genocide and human rights. Topics included the Holocaust, the Irish potato famine, the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the genocide in Armenia.

At first, the syllabus about the Armenian genocide included opposing views from several Turkish scholars and organizations — many of whom dispute whether genocide took place. As recently as this month, when a public television show on the subject was aired, Turkish Ambassador Nab Ensoy called the events of 1915 “an unresolved period of world history.” In a statement from his embassy in Washington, Ensoy said: “Armenian allegations of genocide have never been historically or legally substantiated.”

Several months after the curriculum was introduced, the Turkish interpretation was removed when a state legislator said the dissent opened the door to denial of a historical tragedy.

Estimates of the Armenian population in Turkey before 1915 range from 1.5 million to 2.5 million people. Estimates of the death toll during the forced deportations ranged at the time from 800,000 (the official Turkish number) to 1.5 million, with most scholars in the 1.2 million to 1.5 million range. What should students be taught: It’s not genocide if you don’t kill ’em all? All those Armenians just decided to leave Turkey but ran into a “difficult road and weather conditions during the migration?”

President Bush’s statement on the anniversary of the start of the Armenian holocaust uses “tragedy” rather than “genocide.” We don’t want to annoy the Turkish government, which is our ally.

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  1. I doubt the authenticity of the Hitler quote. I’ve read a number of war memoirs by SS and Wehrmacht soldiers, and they fought solely because of their nationalistic commitment to Germany. Even soldiers of the Waffen SS had no idea of the genocide being carried out by political SS officials behind enemy lines. It’s highly doubtful that the average German officer would have embraced the philosophy of the quote. The German soldiers fighting on the eastern front were fighting to end bolshevism. Such rhetoric would have alienated the vast majority of Wehrmacht officers and enlisted men from the get go.

  2. I first was going to comment on the Turkish-Armenian question with the understanding that this was genocide any way you look at it – yet politics seems always to get in the way of the truth.
    Regarding Badabing’s comment – I wonder where you have read that the SS and Wafen SS were unaware of what was going on. Who do you think did all the killing? Who killed tens of thousands of Jews in the Ponar forest outside of Vilnius if not the officers and soldiers of the SS? Who ran the death camps? To fight Bolshevism you murder old women and children? The “rhetoric” that you think would have alienated Wehrmacht officers was Nazi propaganda that was broadcast and published on a regular basis.

  3. BadaBing says:

    For OOSJ:

    The German SS was not a monolithic “Black Corps” of goose-stepping thugs, as is often portrayed in popular media and third-rate historical works. It was a very complex organization that consisted of three separate branches. To this day the actions of the Waffen-SS and its former members are vilified for ultimately being a part of the larger structure of the political Allgemeine-SS, regardless of the fact that the Waffen-SS was a front line combat organization.

    Political SS officers were often assigned to frontline units for propaganda purposes, and these officers were almost universally viewed with contempt by regular Wehrmacht soldiers. In fact, the Wehrmacht was totally apolitical and was not an arm of the Nazi Party. In fact, very few Wehrmacht soldiers were actually party members.

    Some quotes:

    “We were not Nazi soldiers. We were German soldiers.” —Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1945 by Sigfried Knappe

    Knappe was not an SS officer but a soldier in the Heer (Army). He was present in the Fuhrer’s bunker in April-May 1945 and had thoughts of assassinating Hitler. Before the war, Knappe had three close friends, one of whom was Jewish. When captured by the Soviets, he was confronted about Auschwitz by a Soviet officer but had no idea what the Russian was talking about.

    “To think, however, of those wild assertions [of atrocities], to insist that the crimes of the SS had been genrally known and, in consequence, to imply the most dishonest motives to the volunteers of the Waffen-SS! What a hopeless discrepancy between this construct and reality! —Black Edelweiss: A Memoir of Combat and Conscience by a Soldier of the Waffen-SS by Johann Voss

    “Unfortunately, the brutal measures of the Soviets could be compared with the conduct of the German occupiers in the rear areas, far behind the front. Through the excesses that took place against the Russian people the German soldier became, to the simple Russian, a fighter and supporter of a despised, murderous political institution. Because of this doctrine, established and mandated in far-away Berlin, countless atrocities were in turn committed on [our] soldiers in the front line, even though we front soldiers were unaware of the murder of thousands of innocent people through the Sonderkommandos of the system or of the excesses practiced for the ‘pacification’ of captured areas by our Golden Pheasants of the National Socialist Party.” —In Deadly Comat: A German Soldier’s Memoir of the Eastern Front by Gottlob Herbert Bidermann.

  4. Very cute bada-bing –
    bring quotes by Nazis to whitewash Nazis. To be a member of the Nazi Party, a pre-requisite to serving in the SS (as opposed to teh Wehrmacht) meant beleiving in Nazi ideology. The SS knew what they were doing – the soldiers and the propagandists.
    Its a shame that one of Joanne Jacobs’ readers thinks and writes as you do. Nazi sympathizers ought to go where Nazi sympathizers belong.

  5. Indigo Warrior says:

    A few comments of my own.

    Six years ago, the Massachusetts Legislature mandated that high schools offer a curriculum on genocide and human rights. Topics included the Holocaust, the Irish potato famine, the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the genocide in Armenia.

    If schools are to teach about genocide, teach about as many of them as possible, rather than just one that happens to be favored by the the leftoid media (the Holocaust).

    And include all the communist genocides too: the Soviet and Chinese purges, the Ukrainian and Kazak famines, the Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot and his killing fields in Cambodia, arguably even Milosevic’s ethnic cleansings of non-Serbs.

    Communist sympathizers ought to go to the same place as Nazi sympathizers, and sympathizers for extreme Turkish nationalism.

  6. Indigo Warrior,

    If schools are to teach about genocide, teach about as many of them as possible …

    I agree. This site should be required reading:

    People who prefer paper to digital should check out the author’s Death by Government. How much of this is taught in schools now?

  7. BadaBing says:


    If you want to remain ignorant of historical fact, that’s your choice. Calling me a Nazi is a different matter and shows you have nothing with which to refute the primary historical sources I referenced. I am not a Nazi or Nazi sympathizer, but I am, unlike you, interested in the truth. Waffen-SS soldiers were not indoctrinated in Nazi ideology, and there are plenty of other sources, German and non-German, that support the testimony already put forth. Again, the Wehrmacht was apolitical. It was not a Nazi organization. The men I quoted above were Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS soldiers. They were not Nazis. If you have any inkling of desire to look at the other side of your argument, I suggest you read Black Edelweiss. It’s ignoramuses like you that perpetuate myths about subjects of which you know nothing, but I guess your way is more comfortable and self-satisfying.

  8. Wayne Martin says:

    As noted above, Rudy Rummel’s “Power Kills” site:

    is probably the only comprehensive, and reasonably well researched, source of information on Genocide, and “Democide” (Rummel’s term for “Death by Government” which does not qualify under the legal definitions of “genocide”) to be found.

    (BTW, Rummel responds to email if you want to discuss differences of opinion with him.)

    As to this topic, having “immigrants” from this country or that demanding that some particular version of history be written into US text books is one of the many negative sides of “multiculturalism”.