BY ELSIE CASPARIAN
AUSCHWITZ–For the first time since the end of World War II–the European Youth Forum established a Youth University at Auschwitz. The purpose of this arrangement is to organize seminars to educate the young generations of Europe about the lessons of Auschwitz-in connection with the two other genocides of this century–the Armenian and the Tutsi in Rwanda. The entire program is sponsored and financed by the European Union and is administered by the Center for the Study of International Relations at the University of Brussels in Belgium.
About twenty professors from Europe and Israel were invited to lecture and conduct workshops as specialists in the area of genocide studies. Professor Vahakn Dadrian was the only expert invited from the United States. A committee of scholars selected eighty students to participate in the seminars; they represented Belarus–Cyprus–Macedonia–France–England–Germany–Norway–Finland–Belgium and Sweden. For an entire week–December 6-13–the participants were not only involved in lectures and discussions but were provided exhaustive tours to the grounds of the camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. Trained guides gave detailed descriptions of the processes of deporting–transportation–concentration–streamlined killing and disposal of the corpses–while the visitors were guided through the respective compartmen’s of the camps–including the infamous gas chambers and crematoria. The museum of Auschwitz has photos of prominent leaders of various resistance groups where the picture of Manoushian–a top leader of French resistance–is on display also. There are two more instances involving Armenian victims of Nazi terror. Among the deportees from France who were not natives or were not citizens of France–there are dozens of Armenia’s who were killed or expired in Auschwitz; likewise–countless Soviet prisoners of war of Armenian extraction perished there. Because of the active participation of Prof. Dadrian in all these activities–in both English and French languages–the seminar’s dual languages–the Armenian genocide became a recurrent theme throughout the proceedings of the seminar.
In his keynote address–French academician Alfred Grosser–upon noticing the presence among the guests of the Armenian scholar–departed from his written text and made an ad hoc observation: "I am glad to see here among us Prof. Dadrian–for it is imperative that genocide studies–including Holocaust studies–be directed toward comparative studies. The Armenian genocide is of great value for such comparative undertakings. If we want to be scientific–we have to abandon the monopolistic attitude in this respect." Prof. Grosser then deplored the fact that the Turks are still refusing to recognize the historical fact of the Armenian genocide. "As far as guilt is concerned," he added–"individual Turks today are not guilty as such–but Turkey as a whole is responsible for the crime of genocide and its consequences." It should be noted in this connection that academician Alfred Grosser wrote a 30-page Introduction to the French edition of Dadrian’s History of the Armenian Genocide which he branded as "an exceptional book." The 700-page French version was published in Paris last April by Stock–a French publishing house. The French-Armenian organization FORUM donated 25 copies of the book for distribution among the various French-speaking professors and a number of students.
One of the major lectures delivered for all participants of this gathering was Prof. Dadrian’s lecture on the Armenian genocide in relation to the Jewish Holocaust. For one hour he presented the key elemen’s of the Armenian genocide–emphasizing their comparable aspects–at the same time defining the concept of genocide as a general category of organized mass murder under which may even be subsumed the Holocaust. The students were required to offer their evaluation at the end of the seminar and the Director–Prof. Joel Kotek–reported that the students overwhelmingly singled out Dadrian’s lecture as the best in terms of structure–clarity of style–and conciseness in articulation. Prof. Kotek himself publicly commended Dadrian at the end of his presentation–adding that he knows only one other scholar who can match him in terms of the qualities of a lecture that is delivered without the help of any notes–namely–Raul Hilberg–the author of the classic work The Destruction of European Jews.