Germany’s responsibility for two World Wars is universally admitted by the German state and its citizens. But behind these major crimes against humanity the smaller ones are forgotten, since they brought grief and suffering ‘only’ to a million people of a non-European nation. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
During the First World War Germany was a ‘big brother’ of the Ottoman Empire, and supported the Turks with administrative and military help. At that time Armenians resided on the territory of present Turkey, which was then their homeland. But the Ottoman government initiated an extermination of Armenian people in 1915, killing up to 1.5 million. This steady annihilation was carried out with the silent consent of the German state, which now refuses to admit those events being a ‘genocide’.
The situation is strongly reminiscent of the current events in Ukraine, where thousands of people have been killed and millions are being displaced — again all possible with the silent consent of the German government.
The article originally appeared at The Propaganda Show. Translated for RI by Anita Zalaldinova
Last year the historical parallels to 1914 were evoked in many media. Some of them were sometimes surprising, sometimes not. It is a feat that the transatlantic controlled media always pick out of this – and squeeze into its ideology – only those facts which fit their worldview best.
Certainly, what we state here as analogies of the Armenian genocide to the current operations in eastern Ukraine does not fit their worldview.
In the program ‘kulturzeit’ aired on March 4 surprisingly just for once they stepped away from the usual agitation against Turkey and shined a light on the Germany’s role in this genocide and drew the parallels to today’s operations in the eastern Ukraine – and these parallels are stunning. But the editors of anti-Russian propaganda journal did not notice them, of course.
Shortly about the initial political situation before the genocide of the Armenians:
‘On November 14, 1914, the Ottoman Empire joined the First World War on the side of the Central Powers against the Entente of which Russia was a member. Driven mainly by pan-Turkish ideas, but also by the desire to regain the territories lost by the Ottoman Empire in previous wars with Russia, the Ottoman government ordered at the end of 1914 a large-scale offensive in the Caucasus. However, it ended already at the turn of 1914-15 with a devastating defeat at the Battle of Sarikamish. In the wake of the Russian counter-offensive the Empire lost other areas as well.
Some Armenians supported Russian army in the hope of independence, and Armenian volunteer battalions fought on the Russian side. Russian and Armenian troops were opposed by the Young Turk leadership ‘The caricature of an alleged Armenian sabotage plan’. Although the majority of Armenian civilians and soldiers were loyal to the Ottoman Empire the Ottoman authorities made the Armenians collectively responsible for the military problems in Eastern Anatolia. The government presented Russian invasion as an excuse to deport the majority of the Armenian population, which under the given circumstances was equalled to a ‘mass murder’.
Now please re-read the text above, think 100 years later and replace the Ottoman Empire with Ukraine!
Speaker: ‘Faces marked by endless suffering. These children have survived a genocide. During the 1st World War, the Ottoman Empire extirpated Armenian people. 100 years later the Turkish government still refuses to recognize the mass killings and deportations of Armenians as genocide’. (kulturzeit)
Speaker: ‘In the political archives of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin hundreds of documents are stored demonstrating the systematic annihilation of the Armenian people. But not only that, they also show the role that Germany played in this genocide since the German Empire was the most important ally of the Ottomans in World War 1’.
Rolf Hosfeld: ‘It [the German Empire] has become extremely morally indifferent to what happened there’.
Jürgen Gottschlich: ‘In my opinion, the political support that Germany also gave the Young Turks then in carrying out the genocide is more than that they just watched’.
Speaker: ‘The Turkey correspondent for the TAZ, Jürgen Gottschlich, investigated the German and Turkish archives. He has found out what role Germany played in the extermination of the Armenians’.
Jürgen Gottschlich: ‘It was an active political complicity in genocide in order to achieve their own war goals’.
Speaker: ‘Complicity in genocide’, this is the title of his book. A historical clue that reveals the German involvement in the genocide of the Armenians’.
At the beginning of the 1st World War Kaiser Wilhelm entered a secret military alliance with the Ottoman Empire. Germany bequeathed two warships to the arms brother. Henceforth, Turkey controls access to the sea through the Dardanelles, thereby blocking a strategically important sea route to Russia.
The Ottoman Empire becomes a crucial ally to stop Russia’s advance. Germany must modernize the ailing country’s military in return. The German General Bronsart von Schellendorf becomes a Chief of Staff of the Ottoman army. Together with the powerful Minister of War Enver Pasha he develops strategies to win the war.
But in winter 1914 the Ottoman army suffers a severe defeat from Russians in the Caucasus. Armenian soldiers in the Ottoman army are gone over to the Russians and thus made responsible for the defeat. A stab-in-the-back myth which not only Turkish but also German propagate’.
Jürgen Gottschlich: ‘So they had a choice: either to admit that they had caused a disaster or to find a scapegoat, and they naturally chose the second option. So the Armenians became their scapegoat. And Bronsat was not a spectator there, he was directly involved’.
Speaker: “The internal enemy of the Turkish people must be removed so that the victory in war is not threatened. Such kind of propaganda of genocide against the Christian Armenian minority begins in the country. Since spring of 1915 hundreds of thousands of Armenians are sent on death marches. Paramilitary units massacre children, women and men.
The Turkish leadership clique, the Minister of the Interior Talât Bey, the Minister of War Enver Pasha and General Cemal Pasha, uses the war to manifest its vision of an ethnically pure Turkish national state. The German government is well informed about the atrocities of their ally. This is proved by correspondence between diplomats on the ground and the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. German ambassador in Constantinople, Hans von Wangenheim, writes in July 1915:
‘The way the relocation is carried out shows that the government actually has the purpose to destroy the Armenian race in the Turkish Empire’.
But Germany sees no reason to intervene. Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg constantly averts the attempts to react to the actions of allies. In December 1915 he notes in a handwritten memo:
Rolf Hosfeld: ‘They related what happened in the Ottoman Empire with the Armenians, to a mindset of extreme warfare. They thought militarily, not genocidal. It accepted these losses because they wanted to win the war at any cost’.
‘Our only goal is to keep Turkey on our side until the end of the war, perishes this Armenians or not. ‘
Speaker: ‘To win the war at all costs in order to gain supremacy in the East – with this aim in mind the German Empire also directs the construction of the Baghdad Railway in the Ottoman Empire. The Young Turk Government provides tens of thousands of Armenian forced labourers. The operators of these railway – Philipp Holzmann AG and the German Bank – benefit from this. The railway is also used for deportations of Armenians in the direction of Syrian Desert. As of October 1915, Turkish government decided that all Armenian employees of the Baghdad Railway are to be deported. This order is signed by a German officer. Over 1 million Armenians in total are of victims of the genocidal policies of the Young Turks. The German government stands aside. Individual German military bear responsibility for deportations and massacres. But is that enough to detect a complicity for genocide by the German Empire?’
Jürgen Gottschlich: ‘Without Germans they could not have done that. So if Turkey had remained neutral, the pressure from the other great powers would have been too strong for them to carry out this genocide. They could only do that under the protection of German politics in war’.
Speaker: ‘Germany shares responsibility but the current federal government avoids the term ‘genocide’. Doesn’t Germany have the obligation to name the systematic extermination of the Armenian people – and their own involvement in it –clearly? Neither the Minister for Culture nor the Federal Foreign Office were ready to make an official statement to ‘kulturzeit’.
Rolf Hosfeld: ‘There is of course an enormous amnesia, because the government has known for hundred years – I cite this again – that the German government already knew in July 1915 that it was a clear intention of the Turkish government to destroy the ‘Armenian race’ on the territory of Turkey. That would be described by today’s legal standards without doubt as genocide’.
Jürgen Gottschlich: ‘If the Germans would say ‘yes, we recognize this, it was a genocide then and unfortunately we were also indirectly involved in it’, then it would naturally become difficult for Turks to keep up their position’.
Speaker: ‘Aghet – the great disaster – that’s how the Armenians call the genocide of their people. But the one, who does not say the truth about it, cause more sorrow to the victims, survivors and their descendants’.The war of the ‘young Ukrainian’ government against the population in eastern Ukraine would be completely impossible without political and financial support from Germany. If Germany and the EU Poroshenko were asked to end the war and were threatened with sanctions if necessary, the killings would stop on the same day. The fascist battalions, financed by Ukrainian oligarchs, would then be stopped because these oligarchs would be financially destroyed since when they would end up in the EU sanction list.
Just as the genocide of the Armenians, the killings and expulsions of people in eastern Ukraine are unthinkable without massive German support. Just as the German people were misinformed about the crimes and manipulated in imperial times, so they are today misinformed and manipulated to achieve geopolitical interests. The trail of devastation in eastern Ukraine, thousands of dead, hundreds of thousands of displaced people, intended destruction of infrastructure, withholding of pension and stoppage of power supply are not genocide but are still crimes under international law committed with a friendly support of Berlin and Brussels.