The Armenian Genocide is explained in Wikipedia as

the Ottoman government's systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects inside their historic homeland, which lies within the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey. The total number of people killed as a result has been estimated at between 800,000 to 1.5 million

The 100 year anniversary of the start of the Genocide was commemorated recently.

I always believed that the Armenian Genocide really happened; but I realized that I never checked what evidence is there.

Wikipedia says:

The governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan deny that the Ottoman authorities attempted to exterminate the Armenian people. The Turkish government acknowledges that during World War I many Armenians died, but counters that Muslim Turks died as well, and claims that the number of Armenian victims has been inflated, and that massacres were committed by both sides as a result of inter-ethnic violence and the wider conflict of World War I.

It goes on to list at least 14 "prominent scholars" who deny the Armenian Genocide, and contrasts that with:

The overwhelming majority of historians as well as academic institutions on Holocaust and Genocide Studies recognize the Armenian Genocide.

As of 2015, the governments of twenty-six countries, including Russia, France, and Germany, as well as forty-three states of the United States of America, have recognized the events as 'genocide'. The governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan deny the Armenian Genocide.

Whether or not the killings are legally considered 'genocide', is there verifiable historical evidence showing that the estimated number of Armenians were systematically killed?


1 Answer 1


Whether or not the mass-killings of the Armenians are legally considered 'genocide' or 'democide' (or another legal jargon term) is a geo-politically contentious issue. Wikipedia explains:

Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, denies the word genocide as an accurate term for the mass killings of Armenians that began under Ottoman rule in 1915. It has in recent years been faced with repeated calls to recognize them as genocide. To date, twenty-three countries have officially recognized the mass killings as genocide, a view which is shared by most genocide scholars and historians.

I don't propose to get dragged into that. Here I only use the term "genocide" when quoting others. Instead, the question is about how many Armenians were killed.

We cannot expect a peer-reviewed list of all of the victims that we can count up. Instead, we need to rely on estimates, based on agreed assumptions, drawing together evidence from a large number of sources, cross-validated to give us some trust in the result.

One such estimate is described by a (former) American professor of Political Science, Rudolph Rummel in the 1998 book, Statistics of Democide: Genocide and Mass Murder since 1900 in Chapter 5.

The author acknowledges the difficulty in collecting data where the Turkish government suppresses dissent and the Armenian scholars and allies exaggerated the extent and falsified documents for propaganda reasons. However, this doesn't mean there were no killings.

The sheer weight of all this material in English alone, in some ways as diverse and authoritative as that on the Holocaust, is such that the invalidity or falsification of some of it can hardly effect the overall conclusion that a genocide took place.

Rummel collates information from a number of sources, over a number of years, showing how his calculates his estimates. He also shows how they are consistent with other methods of making estimates.

He breaks down the outcomes in a number of ways - deaths versus refugees versus total population, foreign versus domestic, Armenians versus Greeks versus Others. The figure we are interested in here is the "Total Armenian Genoicde" in row 467 of Figure 5.1B which estimates between 1914 and 1923 the number of Armenian deaths due to mass killings by the Turkish Government and Kemal Nationalists were between 809,000 and 3,582,000 (with a mid-point estimate of 2,102,000.)

So, the estimates quoted by Wikipedia are in the same range (if anything, conservative) as a careful, independent estimate.

  • Of interest: britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1688531/…
    – user7920
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 15:54
  • @coleopterist: I didn't want to cite a secondary source like Britannica, because the OP already cited Wikipedia, and wasn't satisfied with it.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 16:56
  • The "hawaii.edu" file is very low quality, I can barely read or understand it. Do you any clearer source? Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 19:44
  • 1
    @georgechalhoub: It isn't pretty and needs the explanation of the text to understand, but I found it legible. I linked to the book it is from, which is likely printed better, but it isn't cheap. Perhaps borrow it from a library?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 1:08
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    @Oddthinking, I checked the book today and I'm convinced (kinda) because it had references and I checked some too. Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 17:08

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