A lecture on the subject of the Armenian Genocide was held on Wednesday–November 12 at the University of Layden in the Netherlands. The lecture was organized by the University’s department of comparative literature. Participating in the discourse were historian–and expert on the Armenian Genocide Professor Vahakn Dadrian and Professor E. H. Zurher a lecturer at the University and the author of "The History of Present Day Turkey." Attending the lecture were more than 50 Armenian and foreign experts–journalists–students and others interested in the subject at hand.
The opening speech was made by the chair of the department of comparative literature–Professor Teo van Lint. Speaking in English–he presented Prof. Dadrian providing his background and biographical notes. Presently–Dadrian is supervising a project about the Armenian Genocide sponsored by the "Guggenheim" foundation.
The main topic for the day’s lecture was "The Armenian Genocide and Issues Related to its Proof."
Prof. Lint invited Dadrian to the stage and promised the audience that there will be a question and answer session following the speeches.
Prof. Dadrian began his lecture saying that his points will focus on those facts which will work to show- A. That the Armenian Genocide was Premeditated B. The size and magnitude of the Genocide C. The level of organization involved in carrying out the Genocide D. The actual implementation of the Massacre
Professor Dadrian continued by saying that the Genocide was planned strategically from day one. The author–organizer and supervisor of the entire ordeal was the Turkish Government. The refusal of the Turkish government to accept its actions is main difference between the Armenian Genocide and the Jewish Holocaust.
It is this same refusal of the Turkish government to accept its actions that creates problems in studying and analyzing the Genocide in complete detail. That is why rather than analyzing history–experts in the field of Armenian History are left with the difficult task of first investigating and providing concrete evidence to show the Turkish government’s involvement and then proving that those facts are indeed real. Historians are forced to become policemen and judges rather than educators.
While discussing the politics of the Turkish Government–Prof. Dadrian mentioned the specific areas where denial is most evident A. The denial of the Genocide as a whole B. The denial of the specific amount of casualties C. Not allowing any third party the right to look into the issue of the Armenian Genocide
The main culprits in the present day are the Turkish academic institutions and those institutions which influenced by the Turkish government monetarily work to give academic credence to the Turkish side in the matter.
Dadrian claimed that–"It makes our–the specialists–job much more difficult because we have to work continuously to discredit the government as a whole. Their denial makes our job much more strenuous."
First of all the sources we use to show our facts have to be entirely credible and completely obvious. For example–Leslie Davis–gathered facts and details from villagers in several Turkish villages who were eyewitnesses to the massacres and whom she met on her excursion to Western Armenia. She used these credible sources in her recent book about the Armenian Genocide.
Second–our facts and research has to work to totally discredit and contradict what the Turkish government says about the issue. We must show in all cases that the Genocide was in fact premeditated and pre-planned and wasn’t brought about because of the war and the circumstances of the time–as the government contends it was.
Third we have to present evidence written by foreign governmen’s who sent representatives and ambassadors to Turkey. We must show that in the archives of these governmen’s evidence exists involving the massacre. It is crucial to extract evidence from the archives of those countries that were allied with Turkey. The evidence that exists in the archives of those countries which were allied with Turkey during the first World War–cannot be discredited and denied.
Prof. Dadrian then discussed the issue of missing pieces of information in the archives of the Turkish government. He explained that the missing information goes in accordance with the politics of denial the Turkish government pursues until today. Also–Dadrian gave several pieces of evidence regarding the Genocide from the archives of Germany and Austria–Turkey’s allies during WWI.
Overall–Prof. Dadrian gave convincing evidence regarding the Turkish government’s pre-planned and organized attempt at the annihilation of the entire Armenian race and its shameless denial of factual evidence until the present day.
The second lecturer was Professor Zurher–a well-known historian and expert on Turkish politics. He began his speech by stating that he does not have much to add to what Prof. Dadrian. He then stated the importance of the sources that Prof. Dadrian talked about. Zurher stated that "the sources which provide us with information on the Armenian Genocide have been questionable for both the Armenia’s and the Turks."
According to Zurher–he doesn’t think there was a specific plan for the Genocide. However–he does believe that the Turkish government "Ittihad" did order the implementation of the Genocide.
The incriminating point in the entire matter– is the fact that the Turkish government wanted to "solve the problem of the Armenia’s–once and for all."
Prof. Zurher then went over the reasons for the Turkish Government’s failure to accept the Genocide which according to him are because,- A. The Turkish government is the continuation of its predecessor–the "Ittihad" government B. The Turkish government believes that the Western governmen’s are implementing an anti-Turkish policy which will be detrimental to the Turkish government. It is this "conspiracy" that the Turkish government does not want to fall prey to. C. The present day Turkish government is not certain as to how much real evidence there is in the archives of the former government regarding the Turkish Genocide. As a result–it decided that the best thing to do is to remain silent on that issue.
After Prof. Zurher’s lecture–Prof. Dadrian re-evaluated the position that the Turkish Government is holding. He countered Zurher saying that Turkey as a member of NATO is defended by the US and other European nations who like Turkey are denying the Genocide. Despite the reality that both US and British archives contain vast proof that the Genocide occurred.