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One 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