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The recent vote against the denial of the Armenian Genocide held by the French Parliament, and the discussion to recognize the same event by the Israeli Knesset, brings to the fore the issue of the Turkish government’s adverse reaction, reflecting perhaps a deep-seated sense of culpability and apparent unwillingness to accept responsibility for the first genocide of the Twentieth Century, that of the Christians of the Ottoman Empire and the early Turkish Republic.
On February 28, 2012 Aristide D. Caratzas is publishing “The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks,” a collective work by nineteen distinguished international scholars, which addresses one of the lesser known aspects of the extermination of the Ottoman Christians, namely that of the Greeks, and provides a number of approaches for the study of this event.
The period of transition from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire to the foundation of the Turkish Republic was characterized by a number of processes largely guided by a narrow elite that aimed to construct a modern, national state. One of these processes was the deliberate and planned elimination, indeed extermination, of the Christian (and certain other) minorities. The numbers are stark: most scholars agree that in 1912 there were about 4-5 million Christians in Asia Minor and Thrace (Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians and others); by 1923 the Christians in the space that became the Turkish Republic were reduced to less than 300,000.
Raphael Lemkin, the legal scholar who introduced the term “genocide” into international law, formulated his early ideas on the definition of this war crime by studying the destruction of the Christians of Asia Minor, while the distinguished (recently deceased) Turcologist Neoklis Sarris has noted that the annihilation of the Christian minorities represented an integral element of the formation of the Turkish Republic.
As the editors of this volume note, the recent resolution by the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) recognizing the Greek and Assyrian genocides (December 2007) reinforces the justification for the study in greater depth of the genocide of the Greek Christian population of Asia Minor and Thrace.
The last two decades have seen a massive amount of research of the genocide of the Armenian population in the Ottoman/Turkish space; our publishing house has produced a number of works, most notable of which was the eyewitness testimony of Leslie A. Davis, US Consul in Harput (The Slaughterhouse Province: An American Diplomat’s Report on the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1917).
Much less scholarly work has been done on the genocide of the Greeks of Asia Minor and Thrace; there are many reasons for this, including the fact that Turkish governments have been successful in intimidating diplomats in the context of Turkish-Greek relations of the last generation, and of subverting academic integrity by inducing some scholars (including Greeks) to make a career as denialists supported by international NGOs, in the name of countering “nationalism.”
The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks therefore represents an effort to provide an outline and approaches for more extensive study of the deliberate destruction and elimination of a Greek presence that spanned over three millennia in the space that became the Turkish Republic. It includes fifteen article contributions by scholars from Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States, and three appendices (“A Chronology of Major Events,” “A Glossary of Terms,” and “A Select Bibliography,” the last over forty pages).
The thematic approaches developed in The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks include: A group of eight studies under the section titled “Historical Overview, Documentation, Interpretation;” and two more in a section titled “Representations and Law,” one of which outlines Lemkin’s studies of the Christian genocide based on his personal archive. In addition there are sections titled “Genocide Education,” “Memorialization,” and “Conceptualization,” which include studies exploring, a) an outline syllabus for the teaching of the Greek genocide on the secondary level in the US (in Chicago), b) the erection of monuments in Greece commemorating the loss of life and homelands, c) the role of genocide in the creation of nationality, and d) a critical approach in the use of photographic evidence for the study of the genocide of the Christian peoples in what is now the space occupied by the Turkish Republic.
Title: The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks
Studies on the State–Sponsored Campaign of Extermination of the Christians of Asia Minor (1912-1922) and Its Aftermath: History, Law, Memory
Edited by Tessa Hofmann, Matthias Bjørnlund and Vasileios Meichanetsidis
Publisher: Aristide D. Caratzas/Melissa International Ltd.
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Hardcover xii+508 pages, 37 photographs, maps (including a foldout)
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February 28th, 2012 by Fr. Greg