Can you imagine yourself living during the time that WWI was going on? I’mpretty sure you’d be terrified to even walk out of your house. Like it wasn’t badenough that the whole world was at each other’s throat, but to know that yourcountry may be at the hands of another leader. A leader who may have differentperspectives on every day life, with the benefit of doubt that it may be extremelyforeign to you, is pretty scary.
I’m pretty sure that it would make you or anyoneelse feel extremely unsafe and uncomfortable. But imagine being unaware of theunderlying plan to “cleanse” your ethnic group. The Armenian people faced this situation during the time of WWI. Life between the Turks (Armenia’s rival) andthe Armenians was very complex.
Not all Armenians hated the Turks, and not allTurks hated the Armenians. Consequently, the Armenian people were not awareof any forms of annihilation that were being plotted at the time. What exactly is the definition of a Genocide?? According to the WorldBook Dictionary, genocide means: The systematic extermination or destruction ofa political, racial, or cultural group1. When the word genocide is brought up,many people usually think of the Holocaust. Although the Holocaust was amassive tragedy, many don’t recall the Armenian Genocide Essay.
The ArmenianGenocide was just as terrifying as the Holocaust, and we should commemoratethis tragedy. The people who are held responsible for this tragedy are a younggroup of Turks. Their plan was to exterminate all of the Armenian population. The Turks desired a Turkish State that extended to Central Asia, and thus to carrythrough the unity of the Turkish speaking people. This creation of such a statewould create what they call “Pan-Turkism”2.
The Armenians had their first taste of aggression by the Turks on April 24,19153. Three hundred Armenian leaders, writers, thinkers, and professionals inConstantinople were imprisoned in many parts of Turkey without any advancedwarning. Shortly after they were imprisoned, they were brutally tortured andbeaten by the Turkish authorities. Other methods of brutality included pulling outfingernails, teeth, and beards, branding on the chest with hot horseshoes andraising the feet above the body and beating under the foot until it bled4.
After thesevere torturing, they were killed. Turkish officials then seized all weapons thatwere owned by the Armenians, and then brought it to the government officeswhere their weapons were relinquished. Others hesitated to abandon their onlymeans of self-defense and instead, buried guns in the ground, store them in drywells, or hid them in their houses or barns5. This led to house-to-house searchesin some communities, with Armenians being tortured until they revealed whetherthey owned weapons. On May 27, 1915, an official Edict of Deportation was issued6. For mostArmenians, the deportation orders were a complete surprise.
The Armenians werein despair as they left the villages and cities where their families had lived formany generations. When preparing for the deportation journey, Armenians facedanguishing decisions about what to take with them, who to go with, or even thedecision of whether to leave their children behind, especially if there was aTurkish family willing to keep him or her for her. Some Armenians faced othermoral dilemmas: that they were given the option of converting to Islam andremaining in their homes7. Very few Armenians selected this option. In thebeginning of spring of 1915, Armenians were deported from their homes andforced to march hundreds of miles to the deserts of Syria and Mesopotamia8.
Thiswas called “death marches”9. Along the way some were killed outright, and tensof thousands more died of dehydration, hunger, exhaustion, exposure, and disease. Those who fell behind in the marches were either shot right on the spot, or leftbehind to die in the scorching sun to await their fatality. In many, but not all, ofthe deportation caravans, the men were separated from women and children duringthe first few days of the journey and were killed. Some were just young boys,fifteen and sometimes as young as nine or ten.
Often, the men and boys weretaken away from the main caravan so there would be no witnesses to see theslaughtering10. Men were not always slaughtered by shooting. To preserveammunition, the Turks often axed, bayoneted, or slain them with farmimplements11. At night, deportees had little or no protection, because tents orother forms of shelter .