In the issue of the recognition of Armenian Genocide


Doctor Zhirayr A. Kocharyan (Berlin)

Keywords – Germany, the Armenian Genocide, the Bundestag, the First World War, Johannes Lepsius, honest umpire, recognition, Madame Merkel, refugees.

The response of German media (TV, radio) and the cultural, academic and human rights events at the occasion of centenary were extremely numerous and went above and beyond everything that Armenians in Germany were used to so far. In a parliamentary debate on April 24, 2015 representatives of all fractions made impressive speeches, in particular the President of the Bundestag Prof. Lammert, who clearly qualified and condemned the “events of 1915” as genocide.

Four factors seem to be instrumental for this qualitatively and quantitatively intensive statements: 1) the exemplary and significant speech by Pope Francis during a memorial service on April 12, 2015 2) the antipathy of parliamentary German opposition against the ruling conservatives, 3) an enhanced sense of history in the German majority society, and 4) the distancing from Erdoğan’s Neo-Ottoman policy.

The Bundestag is facing 15 years in a bid to recognize the genocide of the Armenians, i.e. to make a legally qualified vote in the spirit of the UN Genocide Convention. Whilst in 2005 the Bundestag unanimously adopted a resolution that admitted German co-responsibility, the German lawmakers avoided, at the same time, an own position whether the “expulsion” and “massacres” of 1915 qualify as a genocide.

The influence of the executive on the legislature, incompatible with the democratic principle of separation of powers, has an unfortunate tradition in Germany’s policy towards Turkey and Armenia: In 1915, Prime Minister Bethmann Hollweg prevented a critical distancing of his country from the Ottoman extermination policy, citing the priority of German-Ottoman military alliance. Although German political decision makers were better informed than other governments about destruction of Christian co-religionists in the allied Ottoman Empire, the German public was not allowed to know anything about these crimes. Until the end of World War I strict military censorship prevented any objective press reporting over Armenia and Turkey.

As a result of a century of silence, until this day there exists no comprehensive scientific review of precise German debt proportion in Germany. No German historian, no university has ever conducted research on this topic. The subject was entirely left to journalists and non-historians. In the increasingly pluralistic society of Germany, in which the descendants of the Muslim perpetrators and the oriental Christian victims live together now, scientific and political inaction bear negative results.

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