The Holocaust and the Armenian genocide

In the new PRIF Report, Eldad Ben Aharon analyzes why the Holocaust and the genocide of Armenians are perceived differently in the international arena

Holocaust-Mahnmal Berlin (Foto: Flickr, /// Sarah, CC BY-NC 2.0).

Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. Photo: flickr, /// Sarah | CC BY-NC 2.0

In 1915, during World War I, the declining Otto­man Empire carried out an extended cam­paign of genocide against the Otto­man Armenians. From massac­res to death marches, 1.5 million of the Armenian popu­lation were exter­minated.

The Holo­caust, in which six million Euro­pean Jews were exter­minated as part of what the Nazis called the ‘Final Solution of the Jewish Question,’ was per­petrated during World War II. Over the last forty years, the memo­rialisation of the Holo­caust has become a distinct aspect of Western culture, en­com­passing reparations, museums, memorials and docu­mentaries, and even legislation criminalising its denial.

However, there is no com­parable culture of memo­rialisation of the Arme­nian genocide. In fact, that genocide has been su­bjected to a vigo­rous campaign of denial led by the Republic of Turkey, and by a marked reluc­tance of world­wide govern­ments and par­liaments to recognise its existence formally. Only recently (from 2016–2019), have par­liaments in the US, the Nether­lands and Ger­many recognised the Armenian genocide, yet others, such as those of Israel and the UK, continue to reject such recognition.

What drives these diver­­gent trends in Holo­­caust and Arme­nian genocide memory? And why is there such a sig­­nifi­cant dif­ference in the way in which these two geno­­cides have been re­p­resented in the public, political and inter­­national arena by the per­petrators, victims and third-party countries? Eldad Ben Aharon presents answers and causes and con­cludes with re­commen­dations for current domestic and foreign policy.

Download (1.34 MB): Ben Aharon, Eldad (2020): How Do We Remember the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust? A Global View of an Integrated Memory of Perpetrators, Victims and Third–Party Countries, PRIF Report 6/2020, Frankfurt/M.