Architecture as Witness to Genocide

For almost a decade, a photographic exhibition on the “Nakba,” the expulsion of the Palestinians from their lands in 1947-48, has been travelling around Germany, and in virtually every site, the organizers from the Association of Refugee Children in Lebanon have run up against opposition. Pro-Zionist groups have mobilized to have the exhibition rooms — often in universities — cancelled, arguing that the exhibition is anti-Israel, or even anti-Semitic. The reason? According to official Israeli historiography, there were no expulsions, killings or seizure of Palestinian lands. Some say the Palestinians as a people never existed, or if they did, not in that geographical location.Read Further...

Decade after Dink: Cem Ozdemir to Headline Program Honoring Late Journalist

It is hard to believe that 10 years have passed since Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was assassinated in cold blood in Istanbul, outside the offices of Agos, the bilingual weekly newspaper he co-founded and for which he served as editor-in-chief.Read Further...

State Prize Awarded to ‘Aghet’ Director

Films are not only for entertainment, but may have the power to change political reality. This is certainly the case with “Aghet” by director Eric Friedler. First released in 2010 and widely covered on German television, the documentary on the Armenian Genocide paved the way for the Genocide recognition resolution passed by the Bundestag (Parliament) on June 2, 2016. For Green Party leader and parliamentarian Cem Özdemir, who delivered the laudation at a ceremony awarding Friedler the State Prize of the Republic of Armenia in Berlin on December 14, the director was “a very central forerunner” on the way to the resolution.Read Further...

Liman von Sanders: A Matter of Honor

What constitutes honor? This is not an abstract question, but a very practical one in connection with a controversy that has recently erupted in Germany. The case involves the designation of “graves of honor” in a historic cemetery in the city of Darmstadt, not far from Frankfurt. …We came to the grave of General Liman von Sanders (1855-1929), who had been accorded this honor for his military service in World War I, as one of the German generals engaged in the Dardanelles, leading Ottoman Empire forces. On his tombstone was inscribed not only his official military title but also “The Victor of Gallipoli.” We then learned that in 2015, General von Sanders was formally divested of this honor, along with six other deceased. The reason? Officially, because of his role as a military officer in that war. In fact, the other military figures buried with honors were similarly defrocked by order of the Darmstadt city authorities on grounds that “their status rested exclusively on military successes.” But that is not the end of the story...Read Further...

Turkish-German Relations: Threats, Taboos and Truth

In the wake of the German Bundestag’s resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide, the hysterical reaction from Erdogan and his co-thinkers has raised the stakes in a risky gamble with political counterparts in Europe, a game that Ankara, contrary to its delusions of grandeur, has no chance of winning.Read Further...

Bundestag’s Genocide Recognition: A First Step

When the results of the vote were announced — all in favor, with only one nay and one abstention – the German Bundestag burst into applause. In the visitors’ gallery, rows of Armenians pulled out signs with the message “#Recognition Now says Thank you!” This was clearly a breach of parliamentary rules of conduct, but no one seemed to care. Then an Armenian flag was unfurled, another, more grave breach of conduct. Its bearer was discreetly escorted out of the hall. No matter...Read Further...

Genocide Is Genocide: Views from Berlin

The resolution on the Armenian Genocide, long awaited by the Armenian community especially in the diaspora, and long-feared by the Turkish establishment, is set to be put to a vote on June 2. As the Mirror-Spectator goes to press before that date, it is impossible to predict here how the proceedings will unfold and what they will yield. What is possible, however, is to present the content of the resolution, based on a draft proposal leaked to the press a few days before — a draft which as such is subject to changes in the course of the actual debate — and to sketch the parameters of the political debate it has unleashed.Read Further...

Khachkar Dedicated in Berlin

Among the events in the German capital commemorating the 101st anniversary of the Armenian genocide was a special ceremony to dedicate a khachkar in memory of the victims. On the invitation of the German-Armenian Society (DAG) and the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, a large crowd gathered on April 23 at the St. Hedwig's Cathedral for the unveiling of the impressive large stone cross. Read Further...

A Special Day in the German Bundestag

Berlin – Will the German Bundestag ever make up its mind about the genocide? This is the question raised last October when the news broke that the government coalition of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats (CDU-CSU/SPD) had agreed to put the issue on the back burner, for an undetermined period of time. The reason, clearly, was Berlin’s concerns not to endanger negotiations with Turkey regarding the refugee crisis that is destabilizing German politics and threatening the European Union with internal strife if not dissolution. Read Further...

An Artist’s Journey Along The Trail of Tears

BOCHUM, Germany — Thousands of Armenian descendants of Genocide survivors, especially from the United States, have had the opportunity to travel though eastern Anatolia, in the search for the villages and towns their ancestors lost, many of them guided on pilgrimages organized by the indefatigable Armen Aroyan. In Germany over the past year large numbers of people have been able to make a similar trip, albeit vicariously, through the unique medium of art. Starting in 2015 in commemoration of the centenary of the genocide, Lisa Stybor, a German artist and art professor, launched a series of exhibits of works she composed during a six-week trek through those same lands. After having presented the show in Bochum in the context of Armenian cultural events, on February 5 she concluded an exhibit in Chemnitz, a city in the former Communist East Germany.
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Recognition, Realpolitik and the Ravages of War

BERLIN — No one engaged in efforts to have the Armenian Genocide officially recognized — at whatever level and in whatever venue — can suffer under the illusion that it is simply a matter of acknowledging historical facts as truth. It has been, and remains a political football, which is tossed, carried or kicked according to the game plans drafted by the coaches of the opposing teams. Or, as in the case of Germany, it is punted. Instead of following through on the courageous initiatives taken by President Joachim Gauck and the Bundestag (Parliament) last April, to finally formulate and pass a unified resolution acknowledging the Genocide, the political leadership has preferred to put the entire issue on hold.Read Further...

 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair: New Studies on Armenia

FRANKFURT, Germany — Among the hundreds of thousands of new titles exhibited at the Frankfurt book fair, the largest such fair in the world, are numerous studies on Armenia published this year, the centenary of the genocide. The Fachbuchjournal, a bi-monthly publication that reviews non-fiction works, issued its book fair edition with a special focus on this theme, referencing 20 works, twelve of them with extensive reviews. In an in-depth interview which opens the section, Wolfgang Gust, who published the relevant documents from the Foreign Ministry archives of Ottoman Turkey’s wartime ally Imperial Germany, comments on the status of genocide studies and the significance of centenary events.Read Further...

Beyond Recognition

In times of grave crisis, when it seems that the world has gone insane, when violence reigns, taking the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocents, and more often than not, the ideologically crazed perpetrators claim to be killing in the name of religion, then conventional political discourse seems to ring hollow. Crisis management at urgently convoked special summits yields well-meaning declarations and peace plans, but the bloody conflicts spread. In such critical junctures it may be that institutional actors from a loftier stance enter the stage and speak out, to assert a moral authority capable of emboldening political forces to think and act on a higher level. This is what has occurred on the occasion of the centenary of the Armenian Genocide. Read Further...

Historic Genocide Remembrance in Berlin

BERLIN — Much has been made of the fact that German leaders, both spiritual and political, broke the taboo and acknowledged the Armenian genocide by name. More importantly, in their April commemorations they used Germany’s moral authority to shape an approach that Turkey could embrace.Read Further...

‘If Winter Comes, Can Spring Be Far Behind?’

With these words Percy Bysshe Shelley concluded his “Ode to the West Wind,” and they serve as well to characterize the mood pervading the commemorations in Germany of the 100th anniversary of the Genocide. On the one hand, it is the grim facts of that murderous process that are being presented in a variety of forms; on the other, it is the triumph of life over death which is being celebrated. True, the Armenians were massacred, their lands, homes and possessions confiscated, the traces of their very presence erased in clumsy attempts to write them and their culture out of the history of what is current-day Turkey. But the experiment has failed. Armenians and Armenian culture are alive and well, and that is cause for celebration.Read Further...

Germans Say It Was Genocide Germans Say It Was Genocide

BERLIN — On Friday, April 24, when this issue of the Mirror-Spectator appears, the German parliament will be holding a session to commemorate the centenary of the Armenian Genocide. And, according to late news reports on April 20, they will name it by its proper name. As Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert announced, the final text that party leaders had presented their parliamentarians for the Bundestag debate would say that a hundred years ago the Turkish regime in Ottoman Constantinople began the planned expulsion and mass murder of over one million Armenians.Read Further...

Pope Francis Issues Challenge to Turkey – and Germany

By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach APRIL 16, 2015 – Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BERLIN — The news from Rome hit Germany like a thunderbolt. As soon as the Armenian rite mass on April 12 had ended, news media flashed headlines across their websites and radio waves. The evening news programs opened with the announcement that Pope Francis had commemorated the victims of the Armenian genocide, and in those words. Pinar Atalay, the Turkish-German anchorwoman on national TV, spoke against a backdrop photo of Istanbul, a city, she said, where Armenians and Turks had lived together for centuries until the First World War...Read Further...

Germany and the Genocide
Witness, Accomplice or Perpetrator?

While in Turkey institutions a good hundred years after the fact are still inventing ways to deny that their predecessors in the Ottoman Empire perpetrated a genocide against the Armenians, in Germany efforts are afoot to explore its role, as Turkey’s wartime ally, in the extermination campaign.
Among the numerous events organized throughout the country to commemorate the centenary was an international conference March 1-3, focusing on the role of the German empire. Read Further...

Genocide Centenary: Where Does Germany Stand?

As the New Year opened, several German cities hosted events commemorating the centenary of the genocide, many of them scheduled to coincide with the eighth anniversary on January 19 of the assassination of Hrant Dink. Those in Berlin and Frankfurt attracted large crowds of Germans and Armenians, as well as Turks, Kurds and many other minorities.
At a memorial convened in Cologne on January 25, one central issue discussed was the need for official recognition of the genocide, not only on the part of the authorities in Turkey but also in Germany.Read Further...

‘With Giant Steps into the 100th Year’: Ragip Zarakolu Honored in Berlin

DECEMBER 19, BERLIN, Germany — No matter how meaningful it is that political institutions, whether governments or parliaments, have recognized the Armenian genocide, the most important such acknowledgement must be an act of the relevant institutions in Turkey. In this context, among the many commemorations that will take place next year in cities across the globe, it is what happens in Turkey that will be particularly telling. Ragip Zarakolu, the courageous Turkish publisher and human rights activist, chose to dedicate his remarks at an event in Berlin honoring him, precisely to this theme. Read Further...

A Fairy Tale — But True...

BERLIN — How can a film about the Genocide be good? How can one shape the representation of such a crime against humanity into a work of art? And how can one do that without reducing the magnitude of the horror or sacrificing historical veracity? The Turkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akin has succeeded with his work, “The Cut,” now playing in movie theatres across Germany.
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Much Ado About a Little Book

BOCHUM, Germany — That little book by Dr. Hagop Martin Deranian continues to provoke debate, now even in Germany. The slim volume, President Calvin Coolidge and the Armenian Orphan Rug, released last fall by the Armenian Cultural Foundation, unleashed broad discussion in the US, because the story it tells raises questions about the 1915 Genocide, questions which a proTurkish lobby finds increasingly uncomfortable...Read Further...

Creating a Transnational Memory Space Dogan Akhanli Honored in Cologne

COLOGNE, Germany — If post-war Germany was able to acknowledge the Holocaust and work through its implications, politically and psychologically, why cannot the present Turkish establishment do the same regarding the 1915 Genocide? It is not only Armenians in and outside Germany who raise this question, but also Germans of Turkish descent, first among them Dogan Akhanli, who received the Georg Fritze Memorial Award in Cologne, Germany on September 19. Read Further...

Power of Art to Move Mind and Heart:
Dink Remembered in Frankfurt

By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
FRANKFURT — Anyone who doubts the existence of a growing movement in Turkey committed to profound political reforms, emphatically including the recognition of the 1915 genocide, should reflect on the mass turnout in Istanbul on January 19, reported by the Mirror-Spectator last week. Several films circulating on the Internet (such as http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RuZDt6wj4k and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELFOe-lvZ5Q) transmit a sense of the potential that this Turkish civil society movement represents, not the least because it has increasingly woven the strands of several related political demands together into one fabric. Thus, those calling for “justice” are demanding not only that Hrant Dink’s assassins be identified and prosecuted but also that the rule of law replace a system fraught with politically motivated rulings, corruption, violation of human rights and willful distortion of historical fact. From the Gezi Park protests to the ongoing upheavals triggered by the corruption scandals, a new process has been unfolding which may put the country on a course toward fundamental change.
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Taner Akçam Teaches ‘Genocide 101′ in Germany

BERLIN — Two classes of high school students in northern Germany had the rare opportunity to learn about the Armenian genocide from one of the most authoritative researchers on the topic, Prof. Taner Akçam from Clark University in Worcester, Mass.
During his brief visit to Germany over the Thanksgiving holidays November 26-29, Akçam also lectured for adults, among them a seminar group at the Free University in Berlin, and a broader general public at the Potsdam University and the Lepsiushaus in Potsdam. For Akçam it was not foreign territory. As the dean of the philosophy department of the Potsdam University noted in introducing him, Akçam had found political asylum in Germany after his escape from prison in Turkey, where he had been sentenced for articles he had written about the Kurds. In 1996 he took a degree from the Hannover University with a thesis on the Armenian Genocide and then worked at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research, before moving the US, where he studied at the University of Minnesota and Michigan, and went on to a position at Clark University.Read Further...

The Quest for a Culture of Remembrance

Armenians in Germany Commemorate Armenian Genocide

By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BERLIN — Among the many nations where people gather on April 24th every year to commemorate the victims of the 1915 genocide, Germany holds a special place for three reasons: first, because it was here that the Holocaust occurred, a case of mass murder that was modeled on the Armenian genocide; secondly, because the post-war German political world faced up to what the Nazis had perpetrated. It was not only the fact that many of the criminals were brought to justice at the Nuremburg trials, and that Germany acknowledged it as genocide, but also that in the years and decades that followed, the reality of what had been committed was subjected to historical scrutiny, so that broader layers of the population and members of the successor generations became aware of this past. Germans refer to this process and what it has produced in civil society as “a culture of remembrance” (Erinnerungskultur). The third reason is that Germany’s Turkish population is the largest outside of Turkey, a fact which has a political, social and cultural impact in both countries.Read Further...

German Archive Material Raises Stir in Turkey

“Especially as 2015 approaches, the pressure will increase. Turkey will, as it has done before, react harshly. It will utter threats, but they will remain ineffective.
“Do you know why? It is because the Armenians have gotten a significant part of the world to accept their claims of genocide.”
Who is speaking here?Read Further...

New Perspectives for Armenian Genocide Studies in Germany

On June 6, two important cultural institutions in Germany signed an agreement that may break new ground in research on the 1915 genocide against the Armenians. The contract signed by University of Potsdam’s Philosophy Department and the Lepsiushaus for enhanced cooperation was anything but a bureaucratic act. If the two partners fully exploit the potential in the deal, they could create the conditions for significantly enhancing genocide studies which would include the Armenian case. The Lepsiushaus (“House of Lepsius”) in Potsdam is a museum and research center located in the former home of Dr. Johannes Lepsius, the renowned theologian and scholar who documented the 1915 Armenian genocide. It was there that Professor Dr. Johann Hafner, Dean of the Philosophy Faculty, and Dr. Rolf Hosfeld, Scientific Managing Director of the Lepsius House, held the official signing ceremony.

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