Berlin’s Message to Ankara: Learn From Us

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II, on May 8th 1985, German President Richard von Weiszäcker addressed the country’s parliament with the following words: “All of us, whether guilty or not, whether young or old, must accept the past. We are all affected by the consequences and liable for it. We Germans must look truth straight in the eye – without embellishment and without distortion.”

Weiszäcker’s speech became a milestone in  the distinctively German process known as Vergangenheitsbewältigung (a composite German word which can be best rendered in English as the struggle to overcome or confront the [criminal] past.) Acknowledging the Holocaust and other atrocities committed by Germany during WWII was not an easy process. Weizäcker’s speech challenged persisting idealized or self-victimized national narratives, and it undermined citizens’ identification with their history.

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Pulitzer Prize Winner Peter Balakian Speaks at University of Minnesota

In April, the University of Minnesota welcomed Pulitzer Prize winning author Peter Balakian to campus for the 2016 Ohanessian lecture, organized by Prof. Ana Forcinito (Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese Studies) and sponsored in part by the Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies. Dr. Balakian spoke about the cultural destruction that occurred during the Armenian Genocide. You can watch the presentation here:

Be sure to check out the CHGS blog in the coming weeks for an exciting interview with Dr. Balakian, discussing his work and the growing movement towards recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

Another Genocide Declaration: This One Matters

This morning, Germany became the thirtieth country to officially recognize the massacre of Armenians at the hands of the Ottomans a century ago as genocide. Although Germany’s recognition comes after several other nations made similar declarations since last April, several factors make the Bundestag’s resolution especially unique: historical ties, the war in Syria and Germany’s own immigrant history all culminate to make today’s news a momentous occasion.

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101 Years of Denial: How Turkish Policy Keeps the Pain of Genocide Alive

The Turkish systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects from their historic homeland in the territory constituting present-day Turkey between 1915-1923 can be defined with one word: genocide. Is this by now an incontestable statement? Over the last century, the surviving Armenian communities, spread across the globe as part of one of the world’s largest diasporas, have struggled to gain official recognition for the genocide. Along the way, Turkish nationalist organizations have fought recognition. Instead these organizations push for reconciliation, which merely serves to perpetuate denialist propaganda as it distracts from Turkey’s role in committing genocide.

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The Spirit of the Laws: The Plunder of Wealth in the Armenian Genocide

The Spirit of the Laws: The Plunder of Wealth in the Armenian Genocide 

Taner Akçam and Umit Kurt, Translated by Aram Arkun

unnamed (1)Pertinent to contemporary demands for reparations from Turkey is the relationship between law and property in connection with the Armenian Genocide. This book examines the confiscation of Armenian properties during the genocide and subsequent attempts to retain seized Armenian wealth. Through the close analysis of laws and treaties, it reveals that decrees issued during the genocide constitute central pillars of the Turkish system of property rights, retaining their legal validity, and although Turkey has acceded through international agreements to return Armenian properties, it continues to refuse to do so. The book demonstrates that genocides do not depend on the abolition of the legal system and elimination of rights, but that, on the contrary, the perpetrators of genocide manipulate the legal system to facilitate their plans.

Taner Akçam holds the Kaloosdian and Mugar Chair of Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University. He is the author of many books, including: The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire (Princeton University Press, 2012), which received the Middle East Studies Association’s Hourani Book Prize and was listed by Foreign Affairs as “Best International Relations Books of 2012.”

Umit Kurt is a Ph.D. Candidate in the History Department of Clark University. He is the author of The Great, Hopeless Turkish Race: Fundamentals of Turkish Nationalism in the Turkish Homeland 1911-1916 (Iletisim Publishing House, 2012).

The Great Fire: One American’s Mission to Rescue Victims of the 20th Century’s First Genocide

The Great Fire: One American’s Mission to Rescue Victims of the 20th Century’s First Genocide

By Lou Ureneck


The harrowing story of a Methodist Minister and a principled American naval officer who helped rescue more than 250,000 refugees during the genocide of Armenian and Greek Christians-a tale of bravery, morality, and politics, published to coincide with the genocide’s centennial.


Professor Ureneck (Journalism, Boston University) conducted much of his research in writing the book in the U of M Library’s extensive Kautz Family YMCA Archives, highlighting the University’s unique ability to place historic events in context, and provide primary sources for study and scholarship. 

In Review: April set of UMN events to commemorate the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide

On April 23-25 the Center for Holocaust and Genocide studies, along with the Human Rights Program, Institute for Global Studies and the Ohanessian Chair, marked the centennial of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 with a series of events. This included a keynote by Middle East scholar Bedross Der Matossian, an international student conference titled “One Hundred Years of Genocide: Remembrance, Education, Prevention”, a teacher workshop on World War I and the Armenian Genocide, as well as a guided tour of Bdote, a sacred Dakota site at Ft. Snelling State Park led by Professor Iyekiyapiwin Darlene St. Clair.

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Congratulations to Yagmur Karakaya, Badzin Fellow for the 2015-2016 Academic Year

The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Department of History are pleased to announce the 2015-2016 Bernard and Fern Badzin Fellow in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

c8e9469d-ec05-47ef-a3c4-e213f785d467Yagmur Karakaya is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Minnesota. She is interested in collective memory, popular culture and narratives of history. Yagmur is currently working on her dissertation project on Ottomania, which focuses on contemporary interest in the Ottoman past in Turkey. She is interested in how different groups of minorities engage with the ways in which Ottoman past is recalled and how they situate themselves in this narrative. During her Badzin Graduate Fellowship year, she will focus on the commemoration of the Holocaust in Turkey, and the relative silence on the Armenian genocide situating both of these phenomena in the current political interest in the Ottoman past. This project will engage with current debates regarding memorialization and denial in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies within the context of Turkey. She will be focusing on two major non-Muslim minorities in Turkey: the Jewish and Armenian population, conducting interviews with the members.