'Who remembers the annihilation of the Armenians?' Hitler asked in August 1939. Raphael Lemkin did. In 1944, Lemkin, a Polish-born Jew, published the theory of 'genocide'. Lemkin's models were the ongoing genocide of Europe's Jews, and the Meds Yeghern, the 'Great Calamity' of 1915-16: the systematic murder of Armenian Christians by the Ottoman Turkish state and its local helpers. Today, on the 104th anniversary of the beginning of the genocide, we should remember the Armenians — and not forget the disgraceful denial of the genocide by the modern Turkish state.
In 1915, some two million Armenians lived in Ottoman Turkey, three-quarters of them in six provinces of eastern Anatolia, on the borders of Russia and Persia. By 1918, 90 percent were gone. An estimated one-and-a-half million were murdered in their towns and villages, or killed by disease, starvation, and death marches into camps in the Syrian desert, where the last survivors were massacred. Hundreds of thousands of women and children were forced to convert to Islam; tens of thousands more fled to the Russian Caucasus as refugees.