Almost a century has passed since the Armenian Genocide of 1915, and up to this day, Armenia, Armenian nation and each one of us feel the consequences of that horrible tragedy. It will still take a long time to rehabilitate from that terrible blow. What's the impact of the Genocide on the future of our country, what do thousands of victims mean to us, and what's the influence of the genocide on our today's reality, are questions which surprisingly, have not been discussed thoroughly and which beg answers. Actually we have responded to them with emotions, instead of measuring the genocide and its consequences in the context of political and strategic criteria. Let us now briefly outline some facts and figures, the numbers of genocide victims and the losses endured by the Armenian nation as a result of that tragedy.
Loss of land
Up to 1915 the territory where ethnic Armenians lived occupied the whole Armenian plateau, that is, the historical Armenia. As regards geopolitics this territory totaled 350,000 square km, each region of the territory being kind of a separate 'castle', which had a protective role for Armenians living in that region. Thus, when in result of Iranian, Turkish or Mongolian invasions one region was captured the people could easily pass on to another region that was as hard to capture as the previous one. Vital for surviving was the factor of ethnography in the territory- after some time when a region of Armenian plateau was captured by foreign invaders Armenian population, which escaped to neighboring regions, 'repatriated' back to their region. And it happened so that the number of Armenians in each region always outnumbered the foreign population. Being the majority in a region, Armenians could easily rebel and recover both their land and independence.
The first terrible consequence of the Armenian Genocide, which was carried out by Ottoman Turkey, was that Armenians were estranged from the land where they lived for centuries. As regards strategic factor, the loss of the land deprived Armenians from most of their 'castles', leaving only 1/10-th of the previous protective space. At present Armenia does not have any place to run to or cede. Directly speaking, Armenia does not have a right to lose a war, otherwise the Armenian nation will be eliminated.
Naturally the Armenian Genocide resulted in immense cultural losses of Armenian nation. Castles, towns, villages, churches, thousands of manuscripts were destroyed in result of the genocide. At present there are as many manuscripts in Armenian as were destroyed during genocide. Many priceless secrets and data were destroyed, stripping us of the rich heritage our ancestors left.
The Ottoman Turkey captured and confiscated all the property of Western Armenians, making the survivors to suffer the hardship of heavy work in foreign lands.
All the above-mentioned blows had their indelible impact on the moral condition of Armenians, which hampered the natural development of our nation, as well as spiritual and moral values. Also the genocide implanted complex of inferiority among many Armenians, pessimism concerning future, and in some cases self-hatred and rejection of national interests in favor of personal ones.
Extermination of communities, leaders and national system
The perpetrated genocide aimed and succeeded in exterminating not only masses of people, but a whole nation, which formed a sound system based on century-long traditions and customs. All the Western Armenian leading intellectuals, political and public figures, as well as common people were executed during the 1915 events. Having lost their 'heads' (i.e. leaders) Armenian nation was thereafter helpless, and bound to scatter from country to country until finding a shelter to stay. The survivors of the genocide, which formed the Diaspora, tough preserved some elements of national identity and mentality, but also adopted new moral and spiritual values, thus partly assimilating to nations that hosted them.
The genocide of Armenian nation actually falls into 4 stages: 1894-96, when around 300,000 Armenians were massacred; 30,000 were killed in 1090; 1,5 million -during the 1915-16 genocide, and about 300,000 from 1918 to 1922. The number of victims totaling more than 2 million, the incidents are justly described as an attempt by the Ottoman Turkey to exterminate the Armenian nation in root.
And pitifully Armenians were afterwards deprived of the right to shout about their victims and persecutions due to the fact that the Eastern Armenia became a part of Soviet Union, which was another 'master' which did not allow freedom of speech, choice, action and moreover protest.
Nevertheless, although all the blows were vital in sense of formation of Armenian mentality and lifestyle in 20-th century, our nation can be considered a strong one, for no other ethnic group would have the strength to survive, rehabilitate and continue striving for development after having undergone similar 'treatment'. It has been many times said, and is worth mentioning once again that Armenian nation embodies a unique perseverance, which best displays itself at the moment of danger.
By Armen Ayvazian
AZG Armenian Daily #076, 24/04/2002