New Book Offers Critical New Insights into Germany and the Armenian Genocide

scheub1One of the tangible links between the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust is in the person of Max Von Scheubner-Richther, the German Consul in Erzurum in 1915 who later became a co-founder of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party in Germany, only four years later. This personal link to Adolph Hitler has led to much speculation about Hitler’s intimate knowledge of the Armenian Genocide, and how such knowledge might have influenced the organisation of the Final Solution in Europe.

Scheubner-Richter was one of Hitler’s most trusted and revered colleagues, one deemed irreplaceable by the leader following his death in the Munich Putsch of 1923. Given their close relationship it is unthinkable that the mass murder of an ethnic group that Scheubner-Richter witnessed was never discussed with Hitler who had a similar plan in mind for Jews. In “A German Officer During The Armenian Genocide”, it is impossible to ignore the observations that Scheubner Richter makes about the Armenian Genocide, both verbally and in written correspondence, that were later to become features of the Holocaust.

A German Officer during the Armenian Genocide is a new English language biography of Scheubner-Richter, translated from the German original, and gives us unique insights into one of the most tantalising links between the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust. This translation also includes a seminal introduction by the German historian, Hilmar Kaiser, who discusses Scheubner-Richter’s involvement in the genocide of Armenians in 1915. Kaiser’s introduction draws on German foreign office documents and other archival materials including Armenian testimonies, to bring fresh light to otherwise speculative and sometimes sensationalised discussions about Germany’s involvement in the Armenian Genocide.

According to both the original German biography, which was written by a colleague of Scheubner-Richter in the Ottoman Empire, and Kaiser’s introduction, Scheubner-Richter took a commendable position in trying to avert the destruction of Armenians. His contacts varied from direct relations with the Armenian prelate of Erzurum (Smpad Saadetian), and the provincial governor (Tahsin Bey), to various intermediaries and Armenian deportees. Scheubner-Richter also communicated his concerns to the German ambassador Hans Von Wangenheim in Constantinople, and thus created an archival record of what he observed around him. He was not the only German consul in the Ottoman Empire who acted to save Armenians, yet as in other cases, the German foreign office was confronted with the hard reality that the fate of Ottoman Armenian was an internal Ottoman matter, while the German priority had to be the maintenance of the Turko-German alliance and winning the war.

Consequently, German intercession on behalf of Armenians was limited, and this limitation allowed the Allied powers and some later commentators to allege German complicity in the destruction of Ottoman Armenians in 1915. A German Officer during the Armenian Genocide brings important new research into light for a more informed discussion and substantive analysis of the subject matter.

According to Ara Sarafian, the publication of A German Officer during the Armenian Genocide is part of the Gomidas Institute’s ongoing commitment to engage the Armenian Genocide issue in a critical manner. This publication is the Gomidas Institute’s second publication addressing German involvement in the Armenian Genocide.

Paul Leverkuehn, A German Officer during the Armenian Genocide: A Biography of Max von Scheubner-Richter, based on Posten auf ewiger Wache: Aus dem abenteuerlichen Leben des Max von Scheubner-Richter, translated by Alasdair Lean with a preface by Jorge Vartparonian and a historical introduction by
Hilmar Kaiser

ISBN 978-1-903656-81-5

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6 thoughts on “New Book Offers Critical New Insights into Germany and the Armenian Genocide

  1. I would like to point out that Ara Sarafian was recently attacked by some in the Diaspora who issued an open letter requesting he not speak to Turkish journalists. Unfortunately, the local media here picked up the letter without probably knowing just how much work on the issue he’s doing.

    His problem, however, is that he is very open when it comes to dealing with the Genocide and also when it comes to Turkey. Personally I think he’s one of the few people working professionally on the issue. More on my blog:

    http://blog.oneworld.am/2009/01/22/diaspora-ara-sarafian-esponds/

  2. You read my mind, Onnik! I was just updating this posts formatting and was thinking, about how Sarafian was attacked, despite efforts like this book’s publication.

    On the other hand, some of the things he said to Hurriet in Vercihan Zilfioghlu’s article are hard for me to comprehend… I mean, points like:
    1. Sarafian said there were two problems that would arise out of any effort to improve relations with Armenians through closer ties with Armenia. “Freedom of expression for historians in Armenia is limited and the genocide issue has become a political tool,” he said.
    2. “We cannot compare the Armenian genocide with the Holocaust. Those who were banished from their land suffered a lot but survived,” he said.
    3. He said the restoration of the Armenian Akdamar Church in the recent past could have created an environment of dialogue but had become a missed chance. “Armenians did not want to take that chance because it did not suit their interests,” he said.

    These are all quite arguable statements. I know the journalist personally, so I dismiss the option that the words of Sarafian were misrepresented. But – I can’t bring myself to agree, even to a smallest degree, to what Sarafian has said in the points highlighted by me.

  3. Pingback: Ara Sarafian: “Freedom of expression for historians in Armenia is limited” « The Armenian Observer Blog

  4. I think you just have to look at how the history of Nagorno Karabakh is treated by historians in Armenia and Azerbaijan to understand that it is a political tool rather than a science. Each side plays up and manipulates their account when it suits them rather than engaging in objective non-partisan academic research. In some cases history is even distorted, re-written or ignored entirely. Certainly it is analyzed and conveyed in a partisan and nationalist way.

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