Publication Date 29 December 2011

Photo of the Armenian Genocide, taken in Aleppo in 1915. AFP

The 1915 genocide was preceded by another wave of massacres, twenty
years earlier. In 2006 you published a speech given by Jean Jaures to
the House of Representatives December 3, 1896, while the massacres
were raging in the Ottoman Empire ( must be save Armenian , Arabian
Nights). The socialist leader noted that the killings were accompanied
by the desire to hide what was taking place file . What was it unusual?

the secrecy of the massacres in the nineteenth th century, especially
those committed by the Turks against the Greeks in the independence war
(1822-1830), is recurrent. But the new fact here is the organized
nature of the concealment. The power of Sultan Abdulhamid II
(1876-1909) comes to pay the European press that she does not speak
of the massacres. This is what Jaurès denounces the gallery.

How would you describe the massacres of 1894-1896

Over 200 000 people were massacred, but added that a process of
spoliation, and even humiliation of an entire people, which accelerates
a long-standing phenomenon. However, the degradation collective and
individual supports the achievement of genocide: the more a population
is well integrated, it is less easy to make remove .

The great massacres of 1894-1896 made possible the 1915 genocide. They
are also pre-genocide in the way death is given.

There was a

hard on the body, a will to destroy families and communities, an
exceptional cruelty in the killing of people. In regions of Anatolia
where Armenians sometimes were in the majority ( Greater Armenia ),
the killings are perpetrated by Muslims and by regiments~T Hamid ~S,
a Kurdish cavalry under the authority of the Sultan.

Constantinople is the little Armenian people, one who works for
example in the bazaar, which is slaughtered. Stock clubs, a formidable
instrument for break skulls, had previously been passed throughout
the city. It should be memory that ~Qin Rwanda before the genocide of
1994, massive imports of machetes had been made ~E When the Armenians
protest against the killings, their manifestations are decimated by
the same violence, with or without the help of the armed forces.

How and why the killings pre-genocidal do they stop?

First, Sultan believes it has reached its goals, including reducing
the percentage of Armenians in Anatolia. And international pressure,
that the British government and, ultimately, the French government
(the pressure of Jaurès and intellectuals finally pay ) begin action .

But if the killing stops, the persecution continues. Armenians take
the road to exile. And a new pre-genocidal massacre takes place in
1909 in Adana and Cilicia, this time involving the responsibility of
the new Young Turk regime that ended the tyranny of ~SRed Sultan~T
Abdulhamid II .

Can say that the collapse of the Ottoman Empire that produces genocide

gradual loss of European territories in the nineteenth th century,
and claims in the Russian Caucasus, are slowly switch the Empire, so
far based on a relatively peaceful coexistence between communities,
in the ultra-nationalism. However, the modernization of the empire
came this deep European roots. It is there that has developed the
Young Turk movement. The sense of an empire besieged, threatened in
Europe and the Caucasus, a rhetoric feeds the enemy within. Finally,
the Armenians, who passed for the most faithful minority, become
identified as potential traitors because they are the largest minority.

The Greeks are seen as less threatening: they have their own country.

The Armenians, they have no homeland. They are accused of be agents
of the European powers vying for control of resources of the Ottoman
Empire ~E In the meantime, with the loss of land, thousands of Muslims
driven out of Europe implanted in the heart of Anatolia . They carry
their humiliation, their hatred of the Christian, of the European,
and to transfer the practices of extreme violence produced by the
Balkan wars. These people are very sensitive to ultra-nationalist
propaganda and anti-Christian ending of the Ottoman Empire.

gradually imposed the idea that the Empire must be resources Turkish
in nature. This movement is accompanied by a racial fact of Christians,
including Armenians, a mortal danger to the ~STurkishness~T proclaimed.

the national response is not alone: ??the decline of the Ottoman
Empire also creates a liberal response from the Young Turks, who then
divides between liberals and nationalists (called ~SUnion~T). It is
this last power that overcomes From in 1909 and then on the eve of
the First World War.

The massacres of 1894-1896 are strongly denounced abroad. But what
about inside Turkey Sultan Abdulhamid

denies the killings, but the European diplomatic networks, and
networking of missionary schools, including English and American,
collect and disseminate information. The Young Turk elite strengthens
against the Hamidian tyranny. Armenian leaders contribute significantly
to the Liberal opposition.

Is there a parallel claim Armenian independence

For Armenians, the revolution of the Young Turks in 1908-1909, will
account great hope. Freedom would be made to the Ottoman Empire,
and they will therefore be beat for her. This is one of the other
reasons that will make them a priority target of the dictatorship
Unionist throughout the genocide. There were some groups or parties
of the claims of national independence, it is true. But most of the
Armenian movement projects into modernization and democratization in
depth of the Empire.

why the events of 1915 will be so different?

First one is dealing with a new power , the dictatorship of the
members of Union and Progress, who took the power in 1913 after the
collapse of the Balkan wars. This faction linked to Germany, generally
favorable to the war, is crossed by racial concept and pan-Turkist.

defeat against the tsarist army to Sarikamish, the Caucasus, in
January 1915, precipitated the decision to deport for the Armenian
extermination. Officially, they must be away from the front prevent
they act as fifth columnists. But the argument does not hold: the
Armenians remained loyal to the Empire, they fought loyally in the
Ottoman army. The first task of the Union government will be to remove
the Armenian officers and soldiers loyal to weaken as an Ottoman army
in full retreat.

date usually adopted for date the beginning of the genocide is April
24, 1915, days of great roundup of notables and intellectuals in
Constantinople. But the persecutions began over twenty years earlier,
as we have seen. It should consider Genocide Armenian as a continuum
of persecution, plunder and massacres.

In 1915, disposal procedures are different and genocidal intent is
clearly established: Armenians from urban centers (except those
of Constantinople, ultimately preserved after the roundup of 24
April, because indirectly protected by embassies and other foreign
communities) are removed to prevent as the major massacres in the
cities do disorder and occur in front of the consuls and diplomats,
many eyewitnesses.

Without displacement, it would be difficult to build an interpretation
of history that the killing did not occur. On the roads of Anatolia,
the extermination is streamlined and ~Scheap~T : it is done without
witnesses or socio-economic damage. Coordinated by the Special
Organization (OS), a sort of state within the state ~V police and
political administration of terror ~V killings will be done by some
local people, mainly Kurds, by ordinary bandits in the service of OS,
and also by detachments regular, more or less zeal. Many orphans will
be recovered by the police.

extermination is performed by mass murder, hunger and thirst,
drowning. The evidence put particular emphasis on rape, mutilation and
killings of women, children and infants committed by the perpetrators.

The survivors arriving in the Syrian desert are precipitated living
in caves, while others eventually find refuge in Cilicia, or Dersim,
or Aleppo, where the Austrian Jewish writer Franz Werfel miserable
orphans discover and decide to writing The Forty days of Musa Dagh

What happens then, out of the Empire

Allies, enemies of the Ottoman Empire, have every incentive to
show evidence of the extermination. But it is also denounced by
more independent sources, as some German missionaries, and by the
work of Americans, including the ambassador to Constantinople, Henry
Morgenthau, who did an outstanding job for alert his government and
the public. In France, some parliamentarians as Marcel Cachin rally.

But we are in a situation of total war in Europe, barbarism is general,
and the Armenian tragedy remains in the background.

How stop the genocide there? Unlike larger

1894-1896 massacres, genocide does not stop. It is estimated that
there were 1.5 million Armenians in the Empire in 1896 and 1.3 million
in 1915, on the eve of the genocide, which itself is about 900 000
deaths. The central moment is 1915-1916, but until the end of the war,
the machine is in action and ~Sgenocide miniature~T , in the words of
the historian Vahakn Dadrian , occur ~V in the Caucasus in particular.

Interview by Jerome Gautheret