By Professor Heath W. Lowry *
Institute of Turkish Studies, Inc. Washington, D.C.. Political Communication and Persuasion, Volume 3, Number 2 (1985)
Abstract: This article traces the history of a purported Adolf Hitler quote which cites the percent of the world’s lack of reaction to the fate of Armenians during the First World War as a justification for his planned extermination of European Jewry in the course of the Second World War. By a detailed examination of the genesis of this quotation the author demonstrates that there is no historical basis for attributing such a statement to Hitler. Likewise, the author traces the manner in which this purported quote has entered the lexicon of U.S. Congressmen, and the manner in which it continues to be used by Armenian-Americans in their efforts to established a linkage between their own history and the tragic fate of European Jewry during the Second World War. The author concludes with a plea to policy-makers that they focus their activities on the responsibilities of their offices and leave the writing of history to the historians.
A casual perusal of the pages of the Congressional Record (CR), of both the House and the Senate, on or about April 24, 1984, reveals a bipartisan group of our elected officials condemning the failure of the Republic of Turkey to acknowledge and assume responsibility for the “genocide” of the Armenian people allegedly perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire in the course of the First World War. In 1984, a total of sixty-six such statements, fifty-seven by members of the House and nine by Senators, wire read into the Congressional Record. Of these sixty-six tributes in support of Armenian Martyrs’ Day remembrances, exactly one third-twenty-two-contained one or another version of a quote attributed to Adolf Hitler in which he purportedly responded to a query about his planned annihilation of European Jewry, by quipping: “Who, after all, speaks today of the extermination of the Armenians?”.
The Hitler Quote: Its Source and Its Avowed Focus
While the quiver anti-Turkish invectives utilized by Armenian spokesmen contains a number of arrows, none is more frequently unleashed than this charge that Adolf Hitler was encouraged by his perception that the world had not reacted to alleged Ottoman mistreatment of its Armenian population during the First World War. He thus felt justified in going forward with his plan to exterminate European Jewry during the Second World War.
Given the widespread utilization of this quotation by Armenian spokesmen and their supporters, perhaps we should not be too surprised at the fact that it has found its way into the lexicon of our lawmakers. Even the dean of Armenian-American historians, Professor Richard Hovannisian of UCLA, stated in a 1983 address to the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, “Perhaps Adolf Hitler had good cause in 1939 to declare, according to the Nuremberg trial transcripts, “Who, after all, speaks today of the extermination of the Armenians?” s(1) “Is it any wonder, then, that the following list of elected U.S. officials repeat the same charge?
Senator Rude Boschwitz, R-Minn.; Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich.; Senator Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio.; Congressman Les Aspin, D-Wis.; Congressman Howard Berman, D-Calif.; Congressman Thomas Bliley, R-Va.; Congressman Edward Boland, D-Mass.; Congresswoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Congressman Edward Feighan, D-Ohio.; Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, D-N.Y.; Congressman Hamilton Fish, R-N.Y.; Congressman William Ford, D-Mich.; Congressman Sam Gejdenson, D-Conn.; Congressman William Green, R-N.Y.; Congressman Richard Lehman, D-Calif.; Congressman Bruce Morrison, D-Conn.; Congressman Nicholas Mavroules, D-Mass.; Congressman Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; Congressman James Shannon, D-Mass.; and Congressman Henry Waxman, D-Calif.
It is noteworthy that sixteen of the above-listed officials (with the exception of Boxer, Courter, Dymally, Feighan, Ford, and Schumer) all clearly state that That Hitler made his statement in support of this planned extermination of European Jewry. Equally noteworthy is the fact that the three Senators, Boschwitz, Levin, and Metzenbaum, and four of the members of the House, Berman, Gejdenson, Green, and Waxman, who made this linkage are themselves Jews.
The problem with this linkage is that there is no proof that Adolf Hitler ever made such a statement. Everything written to date has attributed the purported Hitler quote, not to primary sources, but to an article that appeared in the Times of London on Saturday, November 24, 1945. Said article, entitled “Nazi Germany’s Road To War,” (2) cites the quote and bases its attribution to Hitler on an address b, him to his commanders-in-chief six year earlier, on August 22, 1939, a few days prior to his invasion of Poland. According to the unnamed author of the Times article, the speech had been introduced as evidence during the November 23, 1945, session of the Nuremberg Tribunal. Hitler is quoted as having stated. “Thus for the time being I have sent to the East only my Death’s Head units, with the order to kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of the Polish race or language. Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?”(3) However , this version of the address was never accepted as evidence in this or any other session of the Nuremberg Tribunal.
Furthermore, the Times article of November 24, 1945, was not the earliest mention of Hitler’s alleged statement on the Armenians. Rather, this quotation, and indeed an entire text of a Hitler speech purportedly made at Obersalzberg on August 22, 1939, was first published in 1942 in a book entitled What About Germany? and authored by Louis Lochner, a former bureau chief of the Associated Press in Berlin.” (4)
On the opening page of his work, Lochner cites an unnamed Speech to the Supreme Commanders, and Commanding Generals, Obersalzberg, August 22, 1939.” He further states that he obtained a copy of this speech (a three-page typed German manuscript) one week prior to Hitler’s 1939 invasion of Poland. (5)
This “document”, the provenance of which has never been disclosed, investigated, and much less established, is the real “source,” and indeed the sole source, of Hitler’s purported remark vis-ı-vis the Armenians. In its historical debut, as published by Lochner, the “quote” reads as follows:
I have issued the command-I’ll have anybody who utters one word of criticism executed by a firing squad-that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formations in readiness-for the present only in the East-with compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians.” (6)
Of particular interest is the fact that while this “question” has appeared in literally hundreds of publications in the past forty years, not a single one has ever cited Lochner’s book as its source. Likewise, no work has ever suggested that this statement made its first appearance, not in the course of the 1945 Nuremberg trials, but rather in the 1942 wartime publication of an American newspaperman.
Of equal interest, assuming for the moment that Lochner’s unnamed informant did in fact supply him with an authentic copy of Hitler’s Obersalzberg remarks, in the total absence in this text of a single direct or implied reference to the Jewish people. Obviously, it is an anti-Polish polemic; the single reference it contains to the Armenians is clearly made in that context. In Lochner’s version, Hitler states.
Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formations in readiness-for the present only in the East-with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians” (7)
Here there is no ambiguity in his meaning, If Hitler actually made this statement it obviously referred to his impending invasion of Poland and to the fate he envisioned for its citizenry; it had absolutely nothing to do with his plans for the Jews of Europe. This fact in and of itself belies the allegation of those sixteen members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives who in their statements in conjunction with the April 24 remembrance of Armenian Martyrs’ Day, insisted that Hitler’s remarks expressed the rationale for his slaughter of the Jews.
Interestingly enough, of the twenty-two elected representatives who incorporated the alleged Hitler quote into their Congressional remarks, only one, Congressman William Ford (D-Mich), correctly identified the time and context of the statement attributed to Hitler. Ford said, “Even Adolf Hitler used past events to shape his own policies. In 1939 as he was beginning his invasion of Poland, Hitler ordered the mass extermination of its inhabitants, commenting, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” (8) In contrast, most of his colleagues displayed their lack of knowledge about the subject they purported to address by the use of phrases such as:
“When Adolf Hitler was planning the extermination of the Jewish people…” (Aspin).
When Hitler first proposed his final solution……….(Boschwitz).
… on the eve of the extermination of the Jews (Berman).
Hitler’s statement concerning the final solution for the Jews of Europe…(Bliley).
Hitler who while planning the extermination of millions of Jews was asked … (Boland).
We can only be haunted by the words of Adolf Hitler, who said, in embarking on this “crazed attack” on the Jews, “Who after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” (Ferraro).
In speaking of the consequences of the Jewish Holocaust, Adolf Hitler once remarked…(Fish).
Hitler, before beginning his Holocaust against the Jews … (Gejdenson).
When Hitler was about to begin the Holocaust … (Green).
Questioned about his policy of Jewish genocide, Hitler said…. (Lehman).
Looking at the Armenian genocide as a precedent for his own Holocaust perpetrated against Europe’s Jews …(Morrison).
Etc., etc., etc. (9)
The Hitler Quote and the Nuremberg Trials
Having established that the first published appearance of Hitler’s alleged remark on the Armenians occurred in the 1942 Lochner book, we will now examine the history of its subsequent appearance in the course of the Nuremberg trials. It is necessary to state at the outset, however, that contrary to Professor Hovannisian in the above-mentioned quote, and a whole body of scholars writing on the Holocaust, the Nuremberg trials transcripts do not in fact contain the purported Hitler quote. Instead, the Nuremberg transcripts clearly demonstrate that the tribunal rejected Lochner’s version of Hitler’s Obersalzberg speech in favor of two more official versions found in confiscated German military records. These two records are, respectively, detailed notes of the August 22, 1939, meeting taken down by Admiral Hermann Boehm, Chief of the High Seas Fleet, who was in attendance; (10) and an unsigned memorandum in two parts which provides a detailed account of Hitler’s August 22, 1939, remark at Obersalzberg. This document originated in the Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht [OKW]) files and was captured by American troops at Saalfelden in Austria. This was the chief document introduced by the prosecutor at Nuremberg as evidence in the course of the session concerned with the invasion of Poland. (11) In addition, a third eyewitness account of the obersalzberg meetings is found in the detailed diary kept by General Halder. (12)
These three versions, the first two of which are in fact preserved in the transcripts of the Nuremberg Tribunal, are internally consistent one with the other in regard to the wording of Hitler’s Obrsalzberg speech. Of primary importance in the context of this study is the fact that none these three eyewitness versions contains any reference whatsoever to Armenians.
The noted historian of the Second World War William Shirer reconstructed his account of the Obersalzberg meeting strictly on the basis of the Boehm notes, the Halder diary, and the captured memorandum. (13) In explaining his failure to incorporate the “Lochner version,” he wrote with characteristic understatement, “it may have been embellished a little by persons who were not present at the meeting at the Berghof.” (14)
An examination of the Nuremberg transcripts from the afternoon session of November 26, 1945, enables us to piece together the actual sequence of events which let to the Times of London article on November 24, 1945, which, as has been stated, is the source of all post-1945 references to the alleged Hitler quote.
From these records it becomes apparent that a total of three documents dealing with the August 22, 1939 speech were discussed in the course of the November 26, 1945, session of the tribunal. Called, respectively, US-28, US-29, and US-30, two of the three were subsequently introduced as evidence and preserved in the records of the trials: US-29 (Document Number 798-PS) and US-30 (Document Number 1014-PS). The third document, US-28, was not introduced as evidence by the prosecution. An examination of the Nuremberg transcript provides the following detail in regard to these three documents. The prosecutor, Mr. Alderman, introduced the subject thus:
In this presentation of condemning document, concerning the initiation of the war in September 1939, I must bring to the attention of the Tribunal a group of documents concerning an address by Hitler to his chief military commanders, at Obersalzberg on 22 August 1939, just one week prior to the launching of the attack on Poland.
We have three of these documents, related and constituting a single group. The first one I do not intend to offer as evidence. The other two I small offer.
The reason for that is this: the first of the three document came into our possession through the medium of an American newspaperman and purported to be original minutes of this meeting at Obersalzberg, transmitted to this American newspaperman by some other person; and we had no proof of the actual delivery to the intermediary by the person who took the notes. That document, therefore, merely served to alert our Prosecution to see if we could find something better. Fortunately, we did get the other two documents, which indicate that Hitler on that day made two speeches, perhaps one in the morning we captured. By comparison of these two documents with the first document, we concluded that the first documents was a slightly garbled merger of the two speeches.
On 22 August 1939 Hitler had called together at Obersalzberg the three Supreme Commanders of the three branches of the Armed Forces, as well as the commanding generals bearing the title Commanders-in-Chief (Oberbefehlshaber).
I have indicated how, upon discovering this first document, the Prosecution set out to find better evidence of what happened on this day. In this the Prosecution succeeded. In the files of the OKW at Flensburg, the Oberkommando der Wehmacht (Chief of the high Command of the Armed Forces), there were uncovered two speeches delivered by Hitler at Obersalzberg, on 22 August 1939. These are document 798-PS and 1014-PS in our series of documents.
In order to keep the serial numbers consecutive, if the Tribunal please, we have had the first document, which I do not intend to offer, marked for identification Exhibit USA-28. Accordingly, I offer the second document, 798-PS, in evidence as Exhibit USA-30. (15)
Once again we must note the obvious: Neither of the obersalzberg speeches introduced to the tribunal as evidence by Alderman (US-29/798-PS and US-30/1014-PS) contains any reference to Armenians.
Dr. Otto Stahmer, the defense counsel for hermann G–ring, took exception to Mr. Aldermar’s presentation, stating, “The third document which was not read is, according to the photo static copy in the Defense’s document room, simply typewritten. There is no indication of place or times of execution.” (16) This led to the following exchange between the president of the tribunal and Dr. Stahmer:
The President: Well, we have got nothing to do with the third document, because it has not been read.
Dr. Stahmer: Mr. President, this document has nevertheless been published in the press and was apparently given to the press by the Prosecution. Consequently both the Defense and the defendants have a lively interest in giving a short explanation of the facts concerning these documents.
THE PRESIDENT: The tribunal is trying this case in accordance with the evidence and not in accordance with what is in the press, and the third document is not in evidence before us. (17)
The discussion was then joined by Prosecutor Alderman who made the following response to Dr. Stahmer’s charge that “the third document” (US-28) had been “leaked to the press, and had already appeared in print:
On the other question referred to by counsel, I feel somewhat guilty. It is quite true that, by a mechanical slip, the press got the first document (US-28), which we never at all intended them to have. I feel somewhat responsible. It happened to be included in the document books which were handed up to the Court on Friday, because we had only intended to refer to it and give it an identification mark and not to offer it. I had thought that no documents would be released to the press until they were actually offered in evidence. With as large an organization as we have, it is very difficult to police all these matters. (18)
As the reader has doubtless discerned. US-28, the document provided to the prosecution by “an American newspaperman,” which was not introduced as evidence after he original minutes of the obersalzberg meeting were found, is the source of the alleged Hitler statement on Armenians. Aided by the passages quoted above from the Nuremberg transcript for appeared in the Times of London on Saturday, November 24, 1945. To make his deadline the unidentified times reporter based his story on a leaked document on he assumption that it (US-28) would have been introduced in evidence by the time his story broke on Saturday. As the transcript clearly attests, the reporter’s expectations in this regard were not fulfilled. The results were far-reaching: The world has been misled for almost forty years into thinking that the Nuremberg transcripts provided the Times reporter with his source for the quote attribute to Hitler, “Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?” Armenian spokesmen have been free to argue that Adolf Hitler justified his planned annihilation of the Jews on the world’s failure to react to the alleged Ottoman genocide of the Armenians during the First World War. The Armenian success in this regard is clearly reflected in the April 24, 1984, Congressional Record.
In truth, no document containing the purported Hitler statement on the Armenians was introduced or accepted as evidence in the course of the Nuremberg trials. In fact, the actual minutes of Hitler’s August 22, 1939 Obersalzberg speeches (recovered from the files of the Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces as Flensburg), as well as the detained notes complied during the speeches by Admiral Hermann Boehm, Chief of the High Seas Fleet, and the record preserved in General Halder’s diary, are all totally devoid of anything resembling this alleged quote. In short, contrary to Richard Hovanisian and a host of other Armenian spokesman, the Nuremberg transcripts through their preservation of US-29 (798-PS), US-30 (1014-PS), and the notes of admiral Boehm (which are corroborated by the relevant passages from the diary of General Halder), in no way authenticate the infamous Hitler quote. On the contrary, by establishing the actual texts of Hitler’s Obersalzberg speeches they demonstrate that the statement is conspicuously absent from Hitler’s remarks. The assertion that Hitler made a reference to the Armenians in any context whatsoever is without foundation.
What About Lochner’s What About Germany?
Was Louis Lochner the “unidentified American newspaperman” who provided the Nuremberg prosecutor with the purported transcript of the Obersalzberg meeting (US-28 or L-3, as it is variously known), which contains the alleged Hitler quote on the Armenians? And, in fact was the version of the August 22, 1939, Obersalzber speech published in Lochner’s 1942 book and that supplied by the “unidentified American newspaperman” at Nuremberg one and the same document?
The answer to both these queries is a resounding “yes”. As regards the identity of the “unidentified American newspaperman,” in a later book (Always the unexpected). (19) Lochner quotes with some pride a passage from W. Byford-Jones’s Berlin Twilight (20) regarding his role in supplying this document to the Nuremberg Tribunal. It reads:
My coming with Louis Lockner [sic] had made the visit more exciting because he was no ordinary observer at the historic trial of the major war criminals. He had told me how he was responsible for the delivery of one of the most sensational of innumerable documents to prove Nazi conspiracy. This document, which described how Hitler maliciously planned the beginning of the Second World War by an attack on Poland… was given to Louis Lockner in Germany just before America came into the war, by a confidant of Colonel-General von Beck, and, having first written on top of it “”Ein Stuck gemeine Propaganda” (A piece of filthy propaganda) (to protect himself if the Germans searched him), he smuggled it to America. (21)
Since lochner related same story in the 1942 What About Germany? in regard to his initial receipt of the purported Obersalzberg transcript, there can be no doubt that the was Alderman’s “unidentified American newspaperman.” (22)
Furthermore, all three known versions of the speech containing the “who remembers the Armenians” passage (see Appendix II)-Lochner’s 1942 What About Germany? version; US-28 (or L-3), the document discussed at the November 26 session of the Nuremberg Tribunal; and the one quoted in the Times of London article of November 24, 1945-are identical copies of the same document, i.e., the one which Lochner in 1956 finally identified as having come into has possession from a confidant of Colonel-General Beck, (23) An awareness of Beck’s role in the purveyance of this version of the speech may lend insight into the differences between the Lochner version, which was not accepted by the Nuremberg Tribunal, and the two sets of minutes of the Obersalzberg meetings that were accepted by the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Halder diary account (see Appendix III): Admiral Boehm’s minutes of the meetings; and General Halder’s minutes of the meetings.
By August 1939 General Beck was the acknowledged leader, along with Halder, of that faction of the German officer corps plotting against Hitler and the Nazis. (24) If, as Lochner claimed, he had received his version of the Obersalzberg speech via Beck, i.e., if it were leaked to him as an American newspaperman by forces opposed to Hitler, this could well account for Shier’s assessment of the Lochner version as “embellished a little by persons who were not present at the Berghof.” (25) His assessment is in fact a gross understatement. A comparison of the Lochner version with the Nuremberg and Halder versions, shows that the former contains far more than a little “”embellishment.” Passages which would have lent themselves to stronger anti-Hitler propaganda found in the Lochner version, are totally missing from the Nuremberg and Halder versions. These include the following phrases each of which, if published in the West, would have effectively portrayed Hitler in an extremely negative light to his allies (or potential allies), to the neutrals, and to the rest of the world:
Mussolini is threatened by a nit-wit of a king and the treasonable scoundrel of a crown prince.
After Stalin’s death-he is a very sick man-we shall demolish the Soviet Union.
The (Japanese) Emperor is a counterpart of the last Czar. Weak, cowardly, undecided.
I got to know those wretched worms, Daladier and Chamberlain, in Munich.
(The peoples of the Far East and Arabia are) at best lacquered semi apes who crave to be flogged.
Carol of Romania is a thoroughly corrupt slave of his sexual desires.
The King of Belgium and the Nordic Kings are soft jumping jacks.
I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad.
(I have given) orders to send to death mercilessly, and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians? (26)
In short, a comparison of the Lochner and Nuremberg versions of the August 22, 1939, Obersalzberg speech, strongly suggest that the one leaked to Lochner by the confidant of Beck was a strongly doctored version designed for propaganda purposes. This interpretation is supported by the fact the General Halder’s detailed diary entries for August 22, 1939, contain none of the above passages. Halder was, by that date, firmly in the ranks of the anti-Hitler German officers, and presumably the would have had no interest in censoring his own diary had Hitler in fact made such statements. (27)
While it way never be possible to completely reconstruct the reasons behind these addenda to the Obersalzberg speech and the manner in which they were made, nor why Lochner was chosen as the conduit to transmit them to the West, one thing is certain: The only versions of the obersalzberg speech containing any reference to the Armenians derive from a single source-Louis P.Lochner.
Thus, not only is the provenance of US-28 (L-3) doubtful, but the actual transcripts of Hitler’s Obersalzberg speech (US-30/1104-PS, Boehm, and Halder) are at total variance with the text of the Lochner version vis-ı-vis the alleged Armenian statement (compare Appendices II and III). Therefore one cannot help but share the opinions of the Nuremberg prosecutor and William Shirer and reject the Lochner version.
Why Has the Lochner Version Assumed the Importance That It Has?
Why and how has bunch a spurious quotation of forty-five years ago become so important that it has been cited by no fewer than twenty-two members of the U.S. Congress in 1984? The answer is complex and closely linked to American ethnic politics. Taking advantage of the flurry of press interest aroused by the activities of Armenian terrorist groups, activities which in the past decade have resulted in the assassinations of over thirty-five Turkish diplomats, (28) Armenian-American spokesmen have stepped up their ongoing campaign of vilification against the Republic of Turkey which they allege was responsible for the “genocide” of more than 1.5 million Armenians during the First World War. Unhampered by the limitations of logic or truth, these spokesmen attempt to justify current Armenian violence against innocent diplomats to Armenian suffering in the course of the First World War.
In terms of logic (or the lack thereof), this is comparable to the descendants of peoples who suffered under the last Russian czars running around shooting Soviet diplomats today. Both the Soviet Union and the Republic of Turkey began their existence as revolutionary states in the wake of the First World War the former emerging from the ashes of the Russian empire, while the latter was created from the ruins of the 600-years-old Ottoman empire, the political entity in existence at the time of the alleged genocide.
A significant portion of Armenian propaganda efforts in recent years has bee devoted to establishing a linkage between their own historical experiences and those of European Jewry during the Second World War. The cornerstone in their case has long been the spurious Hitler quote, “Who, after all, speaks today of the extermination of the Armenians?” Certainly the argument that Hitler himself cited the world’s lack to reaction to the fate of the Armenians and was encouraged by it, must be very poignant to Jews. The following examples will serve to illustrate the mileage hitherto obtained by Armenian-Americans in this regard:
1.Under the tutelage of an Armenian-American Congressman, Charles Pashayan, Jr. (R-Calif.), (29) sixty-six elected U.S. Representatives made speeches on or about April 24, 1984 (Armenian Martyrs’ Day), condemning the Republic of Turkey, a NATO ally, for failing o acknowledge its responsibility for the “genocide” of the Armenians which allegedly transpired a decade before the Republic came into existence.
2.As noted earlier, seven of he twenty-two members of the U.S. congress (three Senators and four Congressman), who used the alleged Hitler quote in the course of their April 24, 1984, remarks, were Jewish.
3.Utilizing the “linkage” conveniently provided by the spurious Hitler quote, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council has agreed that the Armenians were the victims of the twentieth century’s first genocide and therefore deserve inclusion in the planned memorial. Indeed Elie Wiesel, himself a Holocaust survivor and Chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, in a 1981 speech delivered in the Capitol rotunda stated. “Before the planning of the final solution Hitler asked, ëWho remembers the Armenians?’ He was right. No one remembered them, as no one remembered the Jews. Rejected by everyone, they felt expelled from history.” (30)
in a similar vein, Congressman Glenn Anderson, in his April 24, 1984, remarks, discussed the inclusion of the Armenians in the planned Holocaust Memorial Council, established by an act of Congress in 1980, has unanimously resolved to include the Armenian genocide in its museums and education programs.”(31)
4.During the past two years a number of state boards of education have adopted into their programs Holocaust curricula which include detailed treatment of the Armenian “genocide” as the precursor of the Jewish Holocaust. The curricula adopted by the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey all stress the spurious Hitler quote as the tie that binds the Armenian an Jewish experiences. In New Jersey, the curriculum was actually prepared and published by the B’nai B’rith anti-Defamation League. This is, to say the least, ironic, as the continued repetition of the spurious Hitler quote, as it is used today, certainly defames the Turkish people.
5. On September 10, 1984, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution (House Joint Resolution 247) designating April 24 as a National Day of Remembrance of Man’s Inhumanity to Man, and requesting the President of the United States to issue a proclamation calling upon the American people to observe such a day remembrance for all the victims of genocide, “especially the one and one-half million people of Armenian ancestry who were victims of the genocide perpetrated in Turkey between 1915 and 1923.” (32)
This resolution, both by naming April 24 Armenian Martyrs’ Day and by specifically naming only Turkey as the “perpetrator” of a “genocide,” does nothing less than brand one of United States” NATO allies with the historically controversial charge of genocide. In regard to the label itself, the fact remains that years 1915 and 1923; rather, the governing power in the region was the multinational state known as the ottoman Empire.”(33)
House Joint Resolution 247 was submitted by Congressman Tony Coehlo (D-Calif.) and 233 co-sponsors. Of interest to us is the fact that Coehlo, who represents the “heartland” of California’s Armenian community (the Merced-Fresno region of the San Joaquin Valley), cited the purported Hitler quote in urging his colleagues to vote for passage of H. J. Res. 247.” (34)
In addition to his own utilization of the quote, Coehla also entered a letter from California’s Armenian-American Governor, George Deukmejain, supporting the resolution’s passage in the record. In support of H. J. Res 247, Deukmejian wrote, “One cannot ignore the chilling words of Adolph Hitler before he began his reign of error during World War II, “Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?” (35)
At the time of this writing the U. S. Senate is considering the adoption of their half of this joint resolution.
Leaving aside the larger question of whether or not the fate of the Ottoman Armenians in 1914-1915 was in fact anything that could conceivably be termed a genocide, and focusing only on the matter at hand, the spurious Hitler quote, we find that three things come immediately to mind.
The first is the obvious danger inherent in partisan ethnic politics as currently practiced in the United States. To appease a handful of potential voters, some American politicians are willing to allow themselves to be used as tools of ethnic pressure groups, regardless of the truth or falsehood of the information they are fed.
Secondly, one cannot help but marvel at the patience of the Republic of Turkey, which, beleaguered by economic and social problems of its own, also has to cope with misinformed American politicians lecturing her on her own history. It is safe to say that if the U. S. Congress spent as much time hammering at the Federal Republic of Germany (another NATO ally) for the well-Documented events which transpired forty years ago in that nation’s history, as they spend lecturing the Republic of Turkey for actions alleged to have occurred seventy years ago in the Ottoman empire, the North Atlantic Treaty organization would long since have lost a member.
Finally, given the serious problems facing our nation, e.g., the arms race, unemployment, and budget deficits, in conjunction with the fact that as this study has repeatedly demonstrated, history is clearly not the forte of many U.S. Congressmen and Senators, it is not impertinent to suggest that the Congress would be better served if its members were to confine their activities to the business at hand heave the writing of history to the historians.
Experts from Congressional Speeches on the Armenians
SENATOR RUDY BOSCWITZ, R-Minn. (CR-Senate, 4/25/84, p. S4852): When Hitler first proposed his final solution, he was told that the world would never permit such a mass murder. Hitler silenced his advisers by asking, “Who remembers the Armenians?”
Today, I join my colleagues in answering Hitler by pledging the truth.
SENATOR CARL LEVIN, D-Mich. (CR-Senate, 4/24/84, p. S4703): But, regrettably it was soon forgotten, not by the surviving Armenians, but by most of the rest of the world. So that when Adolf Hitler planned his invasion of Poland and the destruction of the Jewish people, he was able to scornfully state, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
SENATOR HOWARD METZENBAUM, D-Ohio (CR-Senate, 4/24/84, p. S4719): Three years ago, in a speech given here in the Capital rotunda, Elie Wiesel, Chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, made a telling point.
Professor Wiesel said: “Before the planning of the final solution Hitler asked “Who remembers the Armenians?” He was right. No one remembered them, as no one remembered the Jews. Rejected by everyone, they felt expelled from history.”
CONGRESSMAN LES ASPIN, D-Wis. (CR-House, 4/24/84, p. H2977): Two decades later, when adolf Hitler was planning the elimination of the Jewish people, he is reported to save said, “Who remembers the Armenians?”
CONGRESSMAN HOWARD BERMAN, D-Calif. (CR-House, 4/24/84, p.H2982): It should be a source of concern to all of us that to this day Turkey does not acknowledge, despite eyewitness accounts, either the facts or its historical responsibility; for the line from Armenia to Auschwitz is direct. The holocaust of European Jewry has its precedence in the events of 1915 to 1922. “Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians, ” Hitler told his generals on the eve of the extermination of the Jews. The horrendous events of World War II overshadowed the Armenian genocide, and it is only recently, through the peaceful efforts of the Armenian groups, that the rest of the world has once again begun to recognize the collective agony of the Armenian people.
CONGRESSMAN THOMAS BLILEY, R-Va. (CR-House, 4/24/84, p. H2979): Mr. Speaker, I know that the actions of the Ottoman Government did not lead directly to the forced starvation of the Ukraine by Josef Stalin, the gas chambers of Auschwitz, the gruesome slaughter of the Cambodians. Idi Amin’s death campaign in Uganda, and the more recent actions in Matabeleland in Zimbabwe, but I know that human nature, even a warped and infamous human nature, needs the comfort of believing that it can get away with something before it proceeds. As an example I would cite Adolf Hitler’s statement concerning the final solution for the Jews of Europe when he said, “Who now remembers the Armenians?” If more proof is needed then we can all look up Idi Amin’s frequent statements of his adoration for Adolf Hitler as a man who knew how to handle a problem.
CONGRESSMAN EDWARD BOLAND, D-Mass. (CR-House, 4/24/84, p. H2975): The silence with which the community of nations greeted the decimation of the Armenian people may have emboldened those who would later perpetrate similar acts. It certainly had an effect on Adolf Hitler who while planning the extermination of millions of Jews was asked how the world would respond a program of mass murder. In reply Hitler said, “Who remembers the Armenians?”
CONGRESSWOMAN BARBARA BOXER, D-Calif. (CR-House, 4/24/84, p. H2977): The repeated denials of these well documented crimes of the Ottoman Turkish regime call to mind the Nazi maxim that a big lie if often repeated becomes truth. Hitler himself cited the Armenians massacres as evidence that humanity cares nothing for the murder of a people.
CONGRESSMAN JIM COURTER, R-N.J (CR-House, 4/24/84, p. H2977): But here can be no could that this ignorance of history’s darker events aids those who perpetrate them, and those who would do son in the future. It is known that Hitler cited that fact that the Armenian genocide was little known, little discussed and little remembered in his time. We can only imagine the conclusions he drew from this fact.
CONGRESSMAN MERVYN DYMALLY, D-Calif. (CR-House, 4/12/84, p. H2924): Today, historians argue about the number of Armenians actually killed. Others claim that no genocide took place at all. This is a devastating conclusion to the survivors, whether they be Americans, Lebanese, Egyptians, French or citizens of any other country….. If we deny the Armenian Genocide -a historical event that has been well documented- we echo the words of Adolph [sic] Hitler who said, “Who still talks nowadays, of the extermination of Armenians?”
CONGRESSMAN EDWARD FEIGHAN, D-Ohio (CR-House, 4/24/84, p. H2971): But only twenty years after the fact, the century’s first genocide was the “forgotten genocide.” As Hitler paused on the edge of his own reign of terror, he asked “Who remembers the Armenians?” And no one had. A world blind to the lessons of history saw them repeated on a wider scale.
CONGRESSWOMAN GERALDINE FERRARO, D-N.Y.(Quoted in the Armenian Reporter, July 26, 1984, p.2.) I have dwelled on the Armenian genocide not because it is unique as a flagrant abuse of human rights, but precisely because it is not unique. The world knew about the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews ñand failed to act. Those failures spread the shame of these unspeakable crimes against humanity far beyond those directly responsible for them.
The events in Turkey in 1915 and in Germany in World War II, and in Cambodia in the 1970’s, are of course not directly related. The madness and brutality of the perpetrators of each genocide had their own tragic basis.
But there is a strong tie in the world’s silence in the face of each of these horrors. We can only be haunted by the words of Adolph Hitler, who said, in embarking on his “crazed attack” on the Jews. “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
Now, today, years too late for the millions killed in the Nazi gas chambers and Khmer Rouge execution centers, we stand to say that we speak of the annihilation of the Armenians. And of the Jews, and of the Cambodians. We stand to remind the world of these crimes against humanity, that we may prevent future crimes.
CONGRESSMAN HAMILTON FISH, R-N.Y. (CR-House, 4/24/84, p. H2982): In speaking of the consequences of the Jewish Holocaust, Adolf Hitler once remarked: “Who remembers the Armenians?” Indeed it is our responsibility to do just that; remember that which we would rather choose to forget.
CONGRESSMAN WILLIAM FORD, D-Mich (CR_House, 4/24/84, p. H2981): Even Adolf Hitler used past events to shape his own policies. In 1939 as he was beginning his invasion of Poland, Hitler ordered the mass extermination of its inhabitants, commenting, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” Humanity’s failure to remember the genocide of an entire people scarcely 25 years earlier gave Hitler the go ahead to exterminate millions of innocent people.
CONGRESSMAN SAM GEJDENSON, D-Conn. (CR-House, 4/25/84, p. E1766): In the now infamous quote, Adolf Hitler, before beginning his Holocaust against the Jews, referred to international indifference in the face of the Armenian genocide, “Who,” he asked, “remembers the Armenians?”
CONGRESSMAN WILLIAM GREEN, R-N.Y. (CR-House, 4/2/84, p. H2972): When Hitler was about to begin the Holocaust and a member of his staff asked him what the world would think, Hitler is reported to have replied, “Who remembers the Armenians?”
CONGRESSMAN RICHARD LEHMAN, D-Calif. (CR-House, 4/12/84, p.H2793): Questioned by an aide about his policy of Jewish genocide, Hitler said: “Who after all now remembers the annihilation of the Armenians?”
CONGRESSMAN BRUCE MORRISON, Conn. (CR-House, 4/24/84, p. H2979): Adolf Hitler took advantage of the world’s amnesia, looking at the Armenian genocide as a precedent for his own Holocaust perpetrated against Europe’s Jews. Hitler said, in a chilling remark made in 1939. “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
CONGRESSMAN NICHOLAS MAVROULES, D-Mass. (CR-House, 4/24/84, p. H2979): Sadly, however, the Armenian genocide would be surpassed by the Nazi holocaust in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Adolf Hitler, in an attempt to explain away his maniacal slaughter, would ask with a laugh: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
CONGRESSMAN CHARLES SCHUMER, D-N.Y. (CR-House, 4/24/84, p. H2976): It is of paramount importance that we do not let this tragedy be forgotten with the passage of time. This act of inhumanity, based on religious and nationalistic grounds, was as terrible as any manmade catastrophe to that time yet only two decades later Hitler could ask, “Who remembers the Armenians?” Perhaps if the world had paid more attention to the plight of the Armenian massacre later tragedies could have been averted.
CONGRESSMAN JAMES SHANNON, D-Mass. (CR-House, 4/24/84, p. H2973): This act of wholesale annihilation set the stage for Hitler’s attempted extermination of the Jewish people. He justified his plan to doubting coconspirators with the reasoning that no one remembered the Armenian genocide which had taken pace only 15 years earlier.
CONGRESSMAN HENRY WAXMAN, D-Caliph. (CR-House, 4/24/84, p. H2981): This day server to remind us that this first genocide of our century served as a precedent for the holocaust of World War II when more than 6 million people were destroyed by a government leader who responded: “Whoever cared about the Armenians?” When it was suggested that world opinion would not allow the Nazis to get away with their attempt to eliminate the Jewish people.
APPENDIX II: Excerpts from the Lochner Version of the August 22, 1939, Obersalzberg Speech Dealing with the Planned Invasion of Poland
Lochner, 1942, p.2: Our strength consists of our speed and in our brutality. Genghis Khan led millions of women and children to slaughter ñ with premeditation and a happy heart. History sees in him solely the founder of a state. It’s matter of indifference to me what a weak western European civilization will say about me.
I have issued the command ñI’ll have anybody who utter one word of criticism executed by a firing squad- that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy.
Accordingly, I have placed my death head formations in readiness ñ for the present only in the East ñ with orders to them do send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space [lebensraum] which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?
NCA, Volume VII, p. 753: Our strength is in our quickness and our brutality. Ghenghis Khan had millions of women and children killed by his own will and with a gay heart. History sees only in him a great state builder. What weak Western European civilization thinks about me does not matter.
I have given the order, and will have everyone shot who utters one word of criticism that the aim of the war is not to attain certain lines, but consist in the physical destruction of the opponent. Thus for the time being I have sent to the East only my “Death’s Head units” with the order to kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of the Polish race or language. Only in such a way will we win the vital space that we need. Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?
The Times, November 24, 1945, p. 4: Our strength is in our quickness and our brutality. Ghengis Khan had millions of women killed by his own will and with a gay heart. History sees in him only a great State-builder. What the weak European civilization thinks about me does not matter.
I have given the order, and will have everyone shot who utters one word of criticism…
Thus for the time being I have sent to the East only my Death’s Head units, with the order to kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of the Polish race or language. Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?
APPENDIX III: Excerpts from the Nuremberg Versions of the August 22, 1939, Obersalzberg Speech Dealing with the Planned Invasion of Poland
TMWC, Vol. II, pp. 290-291
NCA, Vol. III, pp. 665-666
DGFP, Vol. VII, pp. 205-206
Destruction of Poland in the foreground. The aim is elimination of living forces, not the arrival at a certain line: Even if war should break out in the West, the destruction of Poland shall be the primary objective. Quick decision because of the season.
I shall give a propagandistic cause for starting the war ñ never mind whether it bi plausible or not. The victor shall not be asked, later on, whether we told the truth or not. In starting and making a war, not be Right is what matters but Victory.
Have no pity. Brutal attitude. 80 million people shall get what is their right. Their existence has to be secured. The strongest has the right. Greatest severity.
Quick decision necessary. Un shakable faith in German soldier. A crisis may happen only if the nerves of the leaders give way.
First aim: advance to the Vistula and Narew. Our technical superiority will break the nerve of the Poles. Every newly created Polish force shall again be broken at once. Constant war of attrition.
New German frontier according to healthily principles. Possibly a protectorate as a buffer. Military operations shall not be influenced by these reflections. Complete destruction of Poland is a military aim. To be fast is the main thing. Pursuit until complete elimination.
Boehm, August 22, 1939 TMWC, Vol. XLI, p.25: The goal is the elimination and destruction of Poland’s military power even if war should begin in the west. A swift, successful outcome in the east offers the best prospects for restricting the conflict.
A suitable propaganda cause will be advanced for the conflict. The credibility of this is unimportant. Right lies with the victor.
We must shut and harden our hearts. To whomever ponders the world order it is clear that what is important are the war ñlike accomplishments of the best….
We can and must believe in the value of the German soldier. In times of crisis he has generally retained his nerve, while the leadership has lost theirs….
Once again: the first priority is the swiftness of the operations. To adapt to each new situation to shatter the hostile forces, wherever they appear and to the last one.
This is the military goal which is the prerequisite for the narrower political foal of later drawing up new frontiers.
Halder, August 22, 1939, DGFP, Vol. VII, p. 559: Aim: Annihilation of Poland – elimination of its vital forces. It is not a matter of gaining a specific line or new frontier, but rather the annihilation of an enemy, which constantly must be attempted by new always.
Solution: Means immaterial. The victor is never called on to vindicate his actions. We are not concerned with having justice on our side, but solely with having justice on our side, but solely with victory.
Execution: Harsh and remorseless. Be steeled against all signs of compassion!
Speed: Faith in the German soldier, even if reverses occur.
Of paramount importance are the wedges [which must be driven] from the southeast to the Vistula, and from the north to the Narev and the Vistula.
Promptness in meeting new situations; new means must be devised to deal with them quickly.
New Frontiers: New Reich territory. Outlying protectorate territory. Military operations must not be affected by regard for the future frontiers.
*Heath Ward Lowry was the Atatürk Professor of Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies at Princeton University and Boğaziçi University. He is an author of books about the history of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey.