Remembering the 1915 Armenian genocide and the Holocaust is one of the first steps in recognizing those who have lost their lives during both atrocities, Holocaust Memorial Center Executive Director Stephen Goldman said.
“It is important to recognize because we strive to contextualize the Holocaust among genocides, which are still going,” Goldman said. “The first and largest genocides of the 20th century were, of course, the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust. It is only recently that the Armenian community has lobbied long and hard to have their people’s destruction recognized. The country of Turkey does not recognize it as a genocide.”
The Holocaust and Armenian Genocide Cooperative event will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide and the 70th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust at 7 p.m. April 14 at the HMC. Scholars Khatchig Mouradian and Peter Hayes will discuss the role of the camp and transit systems during the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust. They will discuss the scope of each genocide and the functions that contributed to their deadly efficiency, according to the HMC’s website.
Armenians settled in the Anatolian highlands, where some believe Noah’s Ark set down, as early as 7000 B.C. In 1915, leaders of the Turkish government devised a plan to remove and massacre Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. There were believed to be about 2 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire at the time of the massacre, and by the early 1920s, when the massacres and deportations ended, roughly 1.5 million of Turkey’s Armenians were dead, with many others forcibly removed from the country.
“Basically, if a great crime has taken place, just to water it down (encourages) other people to think (people) can get away with huge crimes,” said Ara Sanjian, associate professor of history at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Sanjian added that because a number of ethnic Armenians and ethnic Jews live in the Farmington Hills area, the annual event has always had a huge turnout. This year, even more people are expected to descend upon the HMC because of the 100th anniversary.
Sanjian added that his grandparents were victims of the Armenian genocide.
“Today, more Armenians live outside of Armenia than what is the First Republic of Armenia,” Sanjian said.
Goldman said there is a “great affinity” between the Armenians and metro Detroit’s large Chaldean population.
“The young Turks would often run to Iraq, and who are they going to associate with? They, of course, are going to associate with other Christians,” he said. “It is not a huge community, but (there are) very prominent names in the community.”
The Holocaust and Armenian Genocide Cooperative event is sponsored by The Armenian Resource Center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies at Wayne State University, and the Voice/Vision Holocaust’ Survivor Oral History Archive.