The Armenian genocide was one of the most tragic events in the 20th century. The Ottoman government’s deliberate attempt to purge Armenians during World War I led to the elimination of approximately 1.5 million of the 2 million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire just a few years earlier. While some families were able to escape the country and emigrate elsewhere, approximately eight hundred thousand Armenians were put to death by the Ottoman government and its allies within the Empire. Yet despite overwhelming evidence of the scale and purpose of this event, many governments, including the United States, have yet to officially recognize the Armenian genocide.
In this episode of The Road to Now we speak with Ronald Grigor Suny, who is one of the world’s foremost experts on the history of the Armenian genocide. Ron explains the process that led the Ottoman government to turn on its Armenian subjects and the methods it used to carry out this atrocity. He also explains why, in spite of the evidence, recognizing this as genocide remains a political hotspot both internationally and within modern Turkey, and why it is important to remember tragedies even when doing so makes us uncomfortable.
Update: On October 29, 2019, The US House of Representatives voted 405-11 to officially recognize the slaughter of Armenians in Turkey during WWI as genocide.
Dr. Ronald Grigor Suny is the William H. Sewell Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Michigan, Emeritus Professor of Political Science and History at the University of Chicago, and Senior Researcher at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He is the author of numerous books, including “They Can Live in the Desert But Nowhere Else:” A History of the Armenian Genocide (Princeton University Press, 2015).