Genocide is the deliberate systematic destruction of a people, race, or culture. Around the world, the month of April is observed as Genocide Recognition Month. It is a time that we pause to look back in reverence and remembrance at some of the most brutal crimes of humanity so that we can learn from our mistakes and prevent the reoccurrence of such atrocities.
Millions of people were eradicated during the genocide instigated by the Third Reich’s Regime. This is a fact that all first world nations recognize today as The Holocaust. But there is a terrible genocide that has been egregiously overlooked. Referring to it, Adolph Hitler said, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
Armenia is a small country in Eastern Europe. It was the first nation in the world to adopt Christianity as the national religion. With all of the surrounding countries predominantly Islamic, this brought about great controversy for the Armenians.
The first major genocide that occurred in the 20th century was the destruction of the Armenian race by the Ottoman Empire. On April 24th, 1915 while the rest of the world was occupied with World War I, the Young Turk Party began rounding up all influential Armenians in the country. Politicians, doctors, educators, and any other individual who had the potential to lead were torn from their homes, tortured, and killed. This opened the floodgates, allowing the Turkish government to massacre 1.5 million Armenians and take over 90% of their land in an effort to remove the Christian element from the region. This purge lasted until 1923, and nearly wiped the Armenians off of the map.
This week marks 99 years since its occurrence. It is our obligation as a civilized and morally upright society to recognize this tragedy of humanity, and remember with respect those who perished and their survivors. Turkey denies that any genocide took place to this day. More tragic is the fact that the United States has never officially recognized the decimation of the Armenians as what it was: genocide.
If our own government will not acknowledge this fact, then we must educate ourselves, and share the knowledge with those around us. Genocide is only truly successful when there is no trace remaining of the culture that was eradicated. We speak of the Jewish Holocaust, we speak of Rwanda, but who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians? We should. Commemorate and honor the victims and survivors this April 24th.