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The Holocaust or Genocide Horrors of Germany and Armenia

Although they are not connected, the Holocaust in Nazi Germany and the Armenian Genocide come to mind as prime examples of horrific crimes against the human race. History is littered with examples of memorable and glorious events that bring constant reminders of how great the human mind is and these inspire people to pursue their own individual dreams. Nonetheless, history is also full of horrific and monstrous events that show the darker side of humankind. Genocides fall into the category of horrors. In 1948, the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide declared genocide to be any act committed with the intention to destroy all or part of an ethnical, national, racial or religious group of people. This means killing members of any group, causing serious psychological or bodily harm to members of any group, intentionally inflicting on any group conditions that would physically destroy it in part or whole, impose measures to prevent birth in any group, and transfer children of any group forcibly into another group. 

Historical background

Two events of this type that immediately come to mind are the Holocaust in Nazi Germany and the Armenian Genocide. The aim of the former was to destroy the Jewish people of Europe in the course of the Second World War in a program started by Adolf Hitler. The second, the genocide in Armenia, occurred during and following the First World War and involved the systematic and intentional extermination of the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire. Although the two events are separated by over twenty years, both horrific events are notable for being very similar in reasons and methods and also one was inspired (in part at least) by the previous.   

There are a lot of likenesses between these two events. Each one was undertaken as a result of political scheming and religious and/or racial prejudice. In both cases, such methods as concentration camps, secret policing, deportation, and large-scale massacres were employed. Furthermore the genocide in Armenia, which allowed the perpetrator to go unrecognized and unpunished, inspired Hitler to attack the Jews of Europe.  

In Armenia, the genocide took place during World War I (1914 to 1918) and immediately after it. Carried out in the Ottoman Empire, it led to the death of one and a half million Armenians, resulting directly from a plan by the Young Turks’ government to remove Christian peoples from Turkish lands.    

The Armenian genocide is thought to have begun in Constantinople on April 21, 1915 with the arrest of 250 Armenian people leaders and intellectuals. Following this, and without leaders, Armenian women, children, and men were forced out of their homes and made to march across the desert. This was simply a means to starve, rape, shoot, and otherwise murder the Armenian people. 

There is a complex and deep history to this event. The Armenian people had certain freedoms in the Ottoman Empire, but they were still deemed to be second class citizens. In the mid-1800s, the government of Ottoman began implementing Tanzimat reforms under pressure from Britain, France, and Russia. The reforms were meant to provide minority groups with better conditions, but these were not effective. During this period, Armenians continued to be passive. However, in the course of 1860, they started requesting improved treatment. When Turkey was vanquished by Russia during the 1878 Russo-Turkish war, they began depending on Russia (then under Tsar Rule) for this improved treatment.

As noted previously, the methods used during the German Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide included secret police, concentration camps, deportation, and mass killings, while the perpetrator in the case of the Armenian people went mostly unrecognized and unpunished, and inspired Hitler to later carry out his attack on European Jews. Both events should never be forgotten as the horrific, tragic and recurring evil that humans are capable of. Both events took place during the First and Second World Wars, and constituted the intentional decimation of the Armenian and Jewish peoples respectively. Upon close inspection, they are very alike in nature because both were politically-driven, brutal methods were used to kill innocent people, and Hitler used the horrors of Armenia to justify his own actions against the Jewish people.