Despite an Encouraging Visit to Armenia, Merkel Didn’t Say Genocide

Harut Sassounian
Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian


Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Media reports indicated that her visit to Armenia and meetings with its leadership were very constructive. Armenian-German political, cultural and trade relations are expected to expand. Merkel’s visit resulted in a much needed boost for Armenia’s new democratic government.

One of the sensitive issues that both Armenians and the international community were carefully following was Chancellor Merkel’s comments on the Armenian Genocide. The German Parliament (Bundestag) almost unanimously adopted a resolution in 2016 recognizing the Armenian Genocide and declared that “the German Empire bears partial complicity in the events.”

Immediately after the adoption of the Genocide resolution, Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Berlin and threatened to cut off ties with Germany. Relations between Germany and Turkey remain tense for a variety of reasons, but are expected to improve after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s forthcoming visit to Germany in late September.

While in Yerevan, Chancellor Merkel paid a visit to the Armenian Genocide Memorial. She laid a wreath in memory of the 1.5 million Armenian victims and planted a tree at an adjacent park. However, Merkel avoided the use of the term genocide in Yerevan, describing Turkey’s mass killings as “heinous crimes against Armenians” which “cannot and must not be forgotten.” She also stated that she had visited the Genocide Memorial “in the spirit of the Bundestag 2016 resolution.” She clarified that the language used was “a political, not a legal classification.”

Despite Merkel’s goodwill toward Armenia and her very positive statements, I hope that Armenia’s leaders reminded her that the proper term to describe the planned extermination of 1.5 million Armenians is “Genocide,” not simply “heinous crimes.”

Armenia’s leaders could have informed Chancellor Merkel of a recent report by Ben Knight of Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW) about the weapons provided by the German Reich to the Ottoman Turkish forces to carry out the Armenian Genocide.

According to DW, “Mauser, Germany’s main manufacturer of small arms in both world wars, supplied the Ottoman Empire with millions of rifles and handguns, which were used in the genocide with the active support of German officers.” Furthermore, quoting from a report by “Global Net — Stop the Arms Trade,” DW stated that “the Turkish army was also equipped with hundreds of cannons produced by the Essen-based company Krupp, which were used in Turkey’s assault on Armenian resistance fighters holding out on the Musa Dagh Mountain in 1915.”

The author of the Global Net report, Wolfgang Landgraeber, wrote that “Mauser really had a rifle monopoly for the Ottoman Empire.”

DW revealed that “many of the firsthand German accounts in the report come from letters by Major Graf Eberhard Wolffskehl, who was stationed in the southeastern Turkish city of Urfa in October 1915. Urfa was home to a substantial population of Armenians, who barricaded themselves inside houses against the Turkish infantry. Wolffskehl was serving as chief of staff to Fakhri Pasha, deputy commander of the Ottoman 4th Army, which had been called in as reinforcement.”

In a letter to his wife, Major Wolffskehl shamelessly bragged about the killing of Armenians by German troops in Urfa: “They [the Armenians] had occupied the houses south of the church in numbers. When our artillery fire struck the houses and killed many people inside, the others tried to retreat into the church itself. But … they had to go around the church across the open church courtyard. Our infantry had already reached the houses to the left of the courtyard and shot down the people fleeing across the church courtyard in piles. All in all the infantry, which I used in the main attack … acquitted itself very well and advanced very dashingly.”

Landgraeber also reported that “while German companies provided the guns, and German soldiers the expert advice on how to use them, German officers also laid the ideological foundations” for the Armenian Genocide.

German Navy Attache Hans Humann, a member of the German-Turkish officer corps and close friend of the Ottoman Empire’s war minister, Enver Pasha, wrote: “The Armenians — because of their conspiracy with the Russians — will be more or less exterminated. That is hard, but useful.”

Furthermore, Landgraeber wrote in his report about “the Prussian major general Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz, a key figure who became a vital military adviser to the Ottoman court in 1883 and saw himself as a lobbyist for the German arms industry and supported both Mauser and Krupp in their efforts to secure Turkish commissions. (He once boasted in his diary, ‘I can claim that without me the rearmament of the [Turkish] army with German models would not have happened.’)” Goltz “helped persuade the Sultan to try and end the Armenian question once and for all!”

The above quotations support the admission by Bundestag’s 2016 resolution that Germany was complicit in the Armenian Genocide and German President Joachim Gauck’s acknowledgment in 2015 about Germany’s “co-responsibility” for the Armenian Genocide. Being well aware of these facts, Chancellor Merkel should have called the Armenian Genocide by its proper name: Genocide!

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  1. GB said:

    Dear Harut, oil has more power than the Armenian Genocide, unless we become a powerful nation in the Caucasus, just the way Israel is doing in the Middle East!

    • Raffi said:

      I agree, ”Oil has more power than the Armenians” … that’s why once destroyed their oil installations there will be NO more interest in the West to hypocritically support Azerbaijan and by using the Armenian Genocide as a bartering coin.

  2. Masis said:

    The other concerning issue is that she’ll be in Baku trying to get an oil deal. Undoubtedly, Baku will use their oil as bait against Armenia. What our government needs to project is that it won’t let Baku engage in safe and civilized oil dealings while remaining a threat and a foe to Armenia–that it has to select one of the two paths. In other words, military involvement with Armenia will jeopardize its oil supply. One of the first responses to a repeated large scale Azeri attack, such as that of April 2016, should be to attempt to disrupt oil lines out of Baku. Even an unsuccessful attempt would cause investors to walk away.

  3. Levon said:

    Thank you Mr. Sassounian for highlighting Germany’s guilt in the Armenian Genocide and Chancellor Merkel’s continued Armenian Genocide denial.

    What’s even worse is that she did it on Armenian soil and apparently senior Armenian officials did not rebuke her.

    It’s high time for the Armenian Diaspora to sue Germany for its complicity in the Genocide.

    Maybe we should also take shameless Merkel to court for her lifelong hate speech against Armenians? President Steinmeier is no better.

    Note that the hyped-up Bundestag’s 2016 “Völkermord” (not “Genozid”) resolution is non-binding and offers neither a formal apology nor reparations to the Armenian people.

    • Raffi said:

      Angela Merkel’s visit to Armenia was to send a message to Turkey and Azerbaijan, for in upcoming Geostrategic negotiations for Syria, Iraq, and surroundings, to have into consideration Germany’s interest if they do not want them to see Armenian Genocide recognition go further.

  4. Raffi said:

    Scumbag West all they are doing with the Armenian Genocide is to pressure on Turkey for their own benefit, had they had higher standard of values they would have acted a long time ago against the Turkish blockade of humanitarian aid sent by train to Armenia against all Int’l laws.

  5. Ararat said:

    Isn’t a visit to Tsitsernakaberd (Ծիծեռնակաբերդ) Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex by a county’s top official an acknowledgement of the genocide in spite of the words used to describe it? The fact that the German parliament already recognized the Armenian Genocide back in 2016 and the leader of the country visited the memorial makes Angela Merkel’s action much more important than her statement. At some level actions speak louder than words. No excuses but in this day and age of moral bankruptcy every country, including Germany, is after its own self interest and in this case more so because genocidal terrorist Turkey is still part of the NATO alliance and as long as they can use Turkey for their global adventures in the region we are never going to hear the words we want to hear from them. I believe all these artificial obstacles will disappear once genocidal terrorist Turkey is no longer a NATO member state. That’s exactly what has to happen before these spineless European leaders, including the good old USA, take tangible action. I realize the German Empire at time was Ottoman Empire’s military mobilizer and that they probably new the intent of the Turkish terrorist leaders towards the indigenous and defenseless Armenian population and took a passive stand but what I don’t understand is why Germany’s complicity, as partial as it may have been, was not aggressively pursued and written about by our historians and scholars? Aster all, isn’t aiding and abetting a criminal and terrorist state considered a criminal act as well?

    • Harut Sassounian said:

      I hate to disappoint you, but laying a wreath at the Genocide memorial does not imply genocide recognition. This is simply protocol. It is the equivalent of laying a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier in other countries. Furthermore Hillary Clinton laid a wreath there while she was Secretary of State. Did that mean that Mrs. Clinton recognized the Armenian Genocide? Also, all Foreign Ambassadors stationed in Armenia, invluding the US Ambassador, place a wreath at the Genocide Memorial every year!

      • Ararat said:

        Thank you Mr. Sassounian for the clarification. What I was trying to point out was the fact that, unlike the United States, the German parliament had already recognized the Armenian Genocide two years earlier and that Angela Merkel’s visit to the Armenian Genocide Memorial echoed and stressed this fact even though it was not an official recognition of the terrorist Turkish crime by the German government and that primarily because they are both NATO member states. It is for this very reason I strongly believe that the two-faced opportunist terrorist Turkish leaders continue to use their NATO membership as a means to escape justice in the international arena while acting like they are the “protectors’ and the “saviors” of the so-called the “Muslim World” which itself considers NATO as number of adversary and the enemy of the Muslim World. Their cooperation and close contacts with Russia, a well-known opponent of NATO, aiding and abetting ISIS in the region against Western interests and their purchase of Russian S-400 defense system vehemently opposed by the West and this act perhaps considered as treasonous by NATO itself are further proofs that the criminal Turkish hypocrites are in it for their self-interests only!

  6. herayer said: