SAN FRANCISCO—On the occasion of the 97th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, The Genocide Education Project (GenEd) reached out to teachers and community members, reminding them of the importance of expanding instruction about the first genocide of the 20th century into more school classrooms. GenEd’s commemorative initiatives culminated in hosting the April 30 presentation by Prof. Uğur Üngör on Turkey’s seizure of Armenian property during and after the Armenian Genocide.
GenEd contacted thousands of teachers, offering lesson plans and a variety of teaching resources, noting the opportunity to tie the coursework to the anniversary of the beginning of the Genocide.
Shant Hogopian, representing GenEd, spoke to students at UC Riverside, and GenEd Southern California Regional Director, Suzanne Douzmanian, spoke to members of the Pasadena Armenia Relief Society and members of the Nights of Vartan, about the scope of GenEd’s work, making Armenian Genocide education part of school curriculums.
GenEd Executive Director, Raffi Momjian, was keynote speaker at the Bay Area Armenian Genocide Commemoration at Mt. Davidson Cross in San Francisco.
“By bringing the lessons of the Armenian Genocide into America’s classrooms, we feel we commemorate the Armenian Genocide in a practical and lasting way every day of the year,” said Momjian. “With every high school teacher that teaches the Armenian Genocide, we reach at least 100 students each year. We work towards the day when every student in the country will graduate from high school with an understanding of the Armenian Genocide and the pattern of genocides that followed.”
Quoting former United States president James Garfield, Momjian said, “Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be maintained.”
GenEd hosted a presentation in San Francisco by Prof. Uğur Üngör about the Turkish government’s confiscation of properties during and after the Armenian Genocide.
Üngör’s lecture was based on his two recent books, “The Making of Modern Turkey”, which addresses how Western Armenia became part of the Turkish state, and “Confiscation and Destruction”, about Turkey’s seizure of Armenian Property.
Based on a decade of research on a range of unexamined records, Üngör argued that the Armenian Genocide was not one process of deportations and massacres, but that it encompassed a range of at least eight destruction policies. He offered insights into the economic ramifications of the genocide and how the plunder was organized and carried out. He also showed how this systematic destruction of the Armenian nation on its historic homeland also paved the way for the modern Turkish nation state.
Üngör described how the Turkish government carried out very elaborate and labor intensive methods to confiscate Armenian properties and businesses, enriching members of the Turkish government and military elite. He said properties were also given to Muslim refugees brought to resettle Armenian lands. The properties also served to finance the government’s needs, including the costs of the deportations of Armenians during the Genocide.
Üngör spoke about particular families, like the Pirincczade family of Diyarbekir, who benefited enormously from confiscations of Armenian properties, especially those of previously Armenian-owned successful copper factories. He pointed out how the list of the members of the Diyarbekir chamber of commerce in 1935 there was a ‘complete overlap with genocide perpetrators.” He said, “So, this really is the Turkish national economy in a way. This was the project that Talaat Pasha had in mind, and he succeeded.”
Prof. Üngör is assistant professor of history at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. He is also a researcher at the university’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and is a regular contributor to the Armenian Weekly newspaper. Üngör received his PhD in Holocaust and Genocide Studies in 2009 from the University of Amsterdam. He is of Turkish descent, born in Turkey and raised in Europe.
The Genocide Education Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) educational organization that assists educators in teaching about human rights and genocide, particularly the Armenian Genocide, by developing and distributing instructional materials, providing access to teaching resources and organizing educational workshops. For more information about The Genocide Education Project, go to www.GenocideEducation.org.