Germany condemns the massacre a century ago of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman forces as a “genocide”, President Joachim Gauck said Thursday, adding that Germany bore partial blame for the bloodletting, AFP reports.
Gauck’s speech at an event commemorating the centenary marked the first time that Berlin has officially used the word “genocide” to describe the killings during World War I, and an unusually strong acknowledgement of the then German empire’s role in them.
“In this case we Germans must come to terms with the past regarding our shared responsibility, possibly shared guilt, for the genocide against the Armenians,” he said at an ecumenical service in Berlin.
In his speech at the Berlin Cathedral, Gauck said that the German empire, then allied with the Ottomans, deployed soldiers who took part in “planning and, in part, carrying out the deportations”.
German diplomats and observers who reported back to Berlin the atrocities they witnessed were “ignored” for fear of jeopardising relations with the Ottomans, he said.
While Gauck clearly labelled the mass murders a genocide, the German government has backed a compromise resolution to be debated on Friday in parliament.