15 Minutes Magazine - The Magazine of Society and Celebrity

Celebrating Our 17TH Year!

Official Magazine of the Next 15 Minutes


No. 115 / 2017

Cover Story
Front Page
Page Too
Power Benefits
Catherine Saxton
Books in 15 Minutes
Tim Boxer
Boxer Shorts
Elie’s New York
Elie Hirschfeld’s blog
Ivor Davis
Film, TV, Music
Video reviews
Music reviews
Tim & Johnathan
Seeing Stars
Polly Van Raalte
Aubrey Reuben
Nina, David, Tim
Readers Write
Your thoughts
Who's who at the 'zine
Past issues
Contact Us
Questions, comments
Your banner, link, message
Dan Hotels Israel
Dr. Philip &
Florence Felig
Elie Hirschfeld
Internet Web Systems

Cover Story

Armenian genocide memorial in courtyard of the Vank Cathedral
Armenian genocide memorial in courtyard of the Vank Cathedral
Fast food in the Armenian Quarter
Fast food in the Armenian Quarter

Waiting for customers
Waiting for customers

Document Reveals Origin Of First Genocide
Of 20th Century

 HUNDRED years later, the genocide by the Ottoman Empire of its Armenian Christians during the First World War is a volatile topic. The Turkish government, headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is in vehement denial that any planned, intentional, systematic killing occurred, part of the definition of genocide. After all, the world was engaged in a brutal war where many Ottoman Turks perished.

It was a war with Turkey on the wrong side.

The European Parliament in 1987 called on Turkey to deal with its unresolved genocide legacy issue. Pope Francis in April 2015, on the centennial of this historic event, referred to it as "the first genocide of the 20th century." That reference enraged the Turkish government, even though 22 countries, including Germany, have formally recognized it as such.

While the White House in April 2015 urged Ankara to openly acknowledge that 1.5 million ethnic Armenians were wiped out at the hands of the disintegrating Ottoman Empire, President Barack Hussein Obama deftly avoided naming it genocide—reneging on a pledge he had made as a presidential candidate to do so. He called the killings of Armenian Christians "the first mass atrocity of the 20th century."

The American president, in tandem with the Turkish president, refuses to utter the G-word.

Not until I visited Iran seven years ago did I become aware of the Turkish expulsion and extermination of its 2,500-year-old Armenian Christian community in the crumbling Ottoman Empire during the First World War.

It was in the Armenian Quarter, in the majestic Iranian city of Isfahan, where I learned of this horrific event in Turkey’s history which this year, on its centenary, has become a toxic topic.

Proof of Armenian Christian genocide on view at museum in Isfahan, Iran
Genocide cable ordering the massacre of Armenians
The Armenian Quarter originated in 1604 when the Persian Shah Abbas I transplanted the entire Christian population of Jolfa in Azerbaijan to a section of Isfahan that was renamed New Jolfa. He hoped the skilled craftsmen, artists, industrialists and merchants would boost the economy and enhance the society of his capital city. He was right. At one time 42,000 Armenian Christians lived in New Jolfa under Muslim rule; today the community numbers 5,000.

The imposing Vank Cathedral predominates in the district. It was built between 1648 and 1655

It was in the attached Vank Museum where I discovered evidence of the systematic Armenian massacre during the waning years of the Ottoman Empire. At the museum’s entrance stands a bust of Bishop Khachatur Gesaratsi, founder of the first printing press in Iran. Among the objects in the two-story museum are 700 illuminated manuscripts, Gospels from the 9th century, and the first book printed in the country.

And then it happened. I peered into a glass showcase of a prominent display of a people’s tragedy. It was a shock. The official cable that generated the mass murder of the Armenians unnerved me. Under the cable was a helpful English translation.

Christendom inside the Cathedral
Christendom inside the

Ceiling of the Vank Cathedral
Ceiling of the Vank Cathedral

Vank Cathedral Courtyard
Vank Cathedral Courtyard
I saw documents and maps pinpointing relevant sites of the extermination campaign in the eastern Anatolia region of Turkey. They showed where thousands of Armenian men, women and children were deported to Syria to drop dead in the desert, others to perish in concentration camps set up for that purpose. A total of 1.5 million Armenians were killed and their homes, businesses and property confiscated.

Raphael Lemkin, a lawyer of Polish Jewish descent who campaigned at the League of Nations to ban such "barbarity" and "vandalism" as perpetrated against the Armenian people, coined the term "genocide" in 1943. That is what the Armenian people faced in 1915 under Ottoman decree.

Here was proof of the Armenian genocide. The Ottoman Minister of the Interior (Mehmet Talaat Pasha) sent this cable on September 29, 1915, to the governor of Aleppo:

As informed earlier than this, per order of Jamiat, the Government has decided to exterminate the entire population of Armenians in Turkey. Those opposing the orders will not be considered Government servants. Children, women and the sick are not to be spared. The modes of extermination are not to be differentiated. Without listening to the voice of conscious [sic] remove them all and put an end to their existence.

The U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau Sr., was moved to inform the State Department of the Ottoman campaign of race extermination—but was rebuffed. He resigned in despair. (Reminds me of efforts of Holocaust eyewitnesses who risked their lives to alert Washington at the time, to no avail.)

Vank Museum: at left is statue of Bishop Khachatur Gesaratsi, inventor of printing press in Iran.
Vank Museum: at left is statue of
Bishop Khachatur Gesaratsi, inventor of
printing press in Iran.
The Armenian National Institute in Washington identifies Talaat as "the principal architect of the Armenian genocide." Its website notes that Talaat initiated a policy of the Young Turks to evict the Armenians from their homes in an attempt at "the Turkification of the Ottoman Empire."

Museum gift shop
Museum gift shop 
The postwar Ottoman government in 1919 convicted Talaat (and others) for their role in steering the empire into war. He was sentenced to death in absentia. He was hunted down by Armenian vigilantes and assassinated in Berlin in 1921. Nazi Germany returned his remains to Istanbul in 1943 for burial with full honors.

I trembled as I read the words: "Exterminate…Put an end to their existence." Outside I meditated on the images in my head. The First World War had its genocide of Turkey’s Armenian Christians. That proved to be the precursor of the Second World War’s German genocide of Europe’s Jews. The 20th century is notable for its genocidal bloodbaths. I thought if the world took notice and prevented the first genocide of Armenian Christians, it might have thwarted the second of European Jews.

What does the 21st century portend? A third genocide? A nuclear armed Iran making good on its threat to wipe the Jews of Israel off the face of the map?

In the Vank courtyard I stood before a pillar that cautioned never to forget the Armenian catastrophe. It was erected in 1975 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the slaughter.

So far there has been neither a plea for forgiveness nor an offer for reparations. And the American president, in tandem with the Turkish president, refuses to utter the G-word.

Inside the Cathedral
Inside the Cathedral

Back to Top

Home  |  Cover  |  Cover Story  |  Front Page  |  Page Too  |  Power Benefits  |  Highlights  |  Society
Books in 15 Minutes  |  Boxer Shorts  |  Elie’s New York  |  Culture  |  Products
Seeing Stars  |  Theatre  |  Travel
Readers Write  |  The Masthead  |  Archives  |  Contact Us  |  Advertise with us!
Power Benefits
Tim Boxer Portfolios
Polaroid Portraits  |  Those Were The Days  |  Icons Of A Century  |  Remember 9/11


This website is under the copyright protection of the Intellectual Property Laws of the State of New York, the United States and International Treaties. All written content, design and functionality is © 15MinutesMagazine. Inc, 1999 - . All images are protected as such. No copying, downloading or other use of images on this site is permitted without prior written permission.

Site Designed, Developed and Maintained by
Internet Web Systems Internet Consultants - Web Site Design -  Website Hosting
Any questions or comments regarding this website, or if you would like one of your own,
please contact us at internetwebsystems.com