James Bryce and the Origins of the Armenian Question
James Bryce's association with Armenia became well known from his, and Arnold Toynbee's, famous Blue Book on the Armenian Genocide (1916). However, only a handful of studies have been published about Bryce's life-long, and especially about his “early,” Armenian engagements. As this article aims to show, his Armenian mission from the 1870s until the massacres of 1894–1896 deserves greater attention. In these years Bryce attempted to stir up awareness of the suffering of the Armenian communities in the Ottoman Empire. These efforts were mainly aimed toward the internal British scene. Some followed Bryce's lead and supported his Armenian cause, while others doubted his reports and regarded them as “exaggerations.” Bryce's comprehension of the Armenian Question resulted from his general assessment of the power struggle between the major European powers. This struggle has in recent years become, as seen for instance in Donald Bloxham's book The Great Game of Genocide (2005), a central theme in the study of the Armenian Question. In the context of this power struggle, especially between Britain and Russia, Bryce had, quite uniquely, grasped the ominous potential of the Armenian Question by the end of the 1870s. As elaborated in the article, despite Bryce's firm position about the urgent need to intervene in Armenia, there was an almost unbridgeable gap during these years between his moral or ideological stance and the actual abilities of the British government. In short, a breach existed between Bryce's compulsion and Britain's realpolitik constraints.
James Bryce’s Blue Book as Evidence
Investigations of the Armenian Genocide began as soon as news of the mass killings reached Great Britain in May 1915. The 1916 publication in Britain of The Treatment of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as a Parliamentary Blue Book by Viscount James Bryce provided compelling and verifiable evidence of the systematic elimination of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. Today the Blue Book is largely forgotten as a documentary and historical source on the massacres. This article situates the Blue Book in its historical context, arguing that its publication provided the foundation for the evidentiary standard by which the act of genocide is corroborated and judged by the international community. The uses and abuses of the Blue Book at the time by the British government and the humanitarian movement in making the case for genocide reveal the problematic legacy of the first efforts to catalog and document what the Allies labeled during World War I as “crimes against humanity.”
Lord Bryce and the Armenians in German Propaganda during World War I
It is often assumed that the Armenian Genocide was not debated in wartime Germany and in the newspapers because of censorship. While the full extent of what was happening was indeed not discussed, the violence against the Armenians was debated. One of the focal points in 1915 was an intervention by Lord Bryce and others in the British House of Lords. The debate in the German newspapers around Bryce illustrates the breadth of anti-Armenian sentiment, the scope of discourses justifying the alleged violence, and Germany’s overall entanglement with the Armenian Genocide.
The Armenian Genocide in Interwar Hungarian Political Discourse
This article demonstrates how the Armenian Question and the interpretations of the Armenian Genocide—both justifying and opposing it—shaped political discourse during and after the First World War in Hungary, particularly with regard to the years preceding the Holocaust. The first part briefly presents the evolution of the Armenian Question in the Hungarian public and political discourse from the late nineteenth century up to the First World War. Next the article outlines the diverse nature of Hungarian sources on the Armenian Genocide and its aftermath, corroborating that interwar Hungarian governments had detailed knowledge of the past plight and current situation of Armenians in Turkey. The third part depicts the different manifestations of the discourse on the Armenian Genocide between the two world wars in connection with refugees, anti-Semitism, and Turkish-Hungarian economic and political relations. Finally, some preliminary conclusions are drawn and some possible consequences are examined.
The Zionist Leaders’ Fear: Perception of, Comparison with, and Reactions to the Armenian Genocide
During the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was characterized by a political shift toward Turkish nationalism and the resulting growth of repressive measures against non-Turkish populations. From 1915 to 1916 this policy came to its climax in the extirpation of Anatolia’s Armenians. This change of atmosphere and the deadly actions of the Young Turk government were documented by Zionist leaders living in the empire. Not least because of the continued rise of a “Jewish Question” in Palestine, these events were regarded with anxiety. Based on research in the Central Zionist Archives, this article examines the Zionist leaders’ perception of the Armenian Genocide and focuses on the effects the massacres had on them. It expounds on the Yishuv’s problematic situation in Palestine, which was the result of repressive measures emanating from both the central and local Ottoman authorities, and shows how the Zionist leaders, keeping the fate of the Armenians in mind, coped with the situation. The topics of this article include the Zionist leaders’ concerns about the situation of the Jews living under Young Turk rule; their confrontation with various problems; and their fight for the future of the Yishuv, Zionism, and their colonization work in Palestine.
The Representation of the Psychological Ramifications of the Armenian Genocide: A Voice Crying Out in the Desert?
The Armenian Genocide is considered to be the first modern genocide; at the time it occurred it was unprecedented in scope. Despite extensive media reports of the Turkish actions against the Armenians and subsequent historical and political examinations of the events, to date there has been no systematic analysis of the psychological consequences of the events for the survivors. Indeed, an examination of the literature reveals an almost complete absence of “purely” psychological studies regarding the consequences of the genocide. In light of the paucity of psychological studies of the events, an examination of the psychological consequences of the Armenian Genocide is supplemented by the examination of other relevant sources, including written and oral testimonies of survivors, cultural expressions (such as literature and film), and media reports. In addition, explanations are put forward as to why one hundred years after the Armenian Genocide so little is known concerning its psychological ramifications. Finally, possible directions for future research are delineated.
Explaining the Unexplainable: Recent Trends in the Armenian Genocide Historiography
One of the outstanding issues in Armenian Genocide historiography has been the inability of historians to come to a consensus regarding the causes, the aim of the perpetrators, and the process of the genocide. This is because the field of genocide studies is, by its nature, contentious. Over the course of the past three decades, the historiography of the Armenian Genocide in the West has evolved through the introduction of new methodologies, approaches, and more complex analyses of the genocide that venture beyond rudimentary and essentialist arguments and representations. These approaches range from arguing that religion and/or nationalism were the main factors leading to the Armenian Genocide, to the argument that the genocide was a contingent event that took place during World War I, represented by a rapid radicalization of the government’s policy toward the Armenians. This article discusses the development of the historiography of the Armenian Genocide in the West by concentrating on recent trends in the field and assesses their contribution to the understanding of the different dimensions of the genocide. Toward the end, the article provides suggestions for strengthening nascent areas in the historiography that still remain in their infancy.
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