A few days ago, on April 24th, it was the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. You probably didn’t notice, unless you have a large Armenian diaspora in your neighborhood. And because Armenians flock to wine and cognac, that really only happens in Paris, California and South Australia.
Moreover, the world is currently distracted by a war, about which one can/must argue whether it might not also bear genocidal features. This is a difficult legal question into which Messrs. Lauterpacht and Lemkin brought some clarity in the first half of the 20th century. Coincidentally, both began their careers at the university in Lviv/Lemberg, which is now being shelled by Russian missiles.
But, you may already have guessed, holding the latest installment of the “One hundred years ago …” series, hot off the press, in your hands: This issue was more topical one hundred years ago.
On 17 April 1922, to be precise, when Aram Yerganian and Arshav Shiragyan, who as Armenians were understandably a bit pissed off about the genocide, shot and killed two high-ranking officials responsible for that very genocide. In the middle of Berlin.
Cemal Azmi had been sentenced to death by a Turkish court for his involvement in the genocide. Bahaeddin Şakir had been charged with crimes against humanity in Malta. But both fled to Berlin, where they felt safe. “Don’t worry, Bahaeddin,” said Cemal Azmi, “Germany always wants to do business with all sides. All their talk about human rights is just blah-blah.”
With that, he was not only correct, but also outlined the guidelines of German foreign policy for the following 100 years. Well, you don’t become the world’s export champion by sticking to principles.
An even more dubious pleasure than being lied to by Vladimir Putin is getting to know me in person. I don’t lie, but on many topics I just say: “Oh, I wrote an article about that once.” After all, one of the main reasons behind launching this blog was to avoid having to tell the same story over and over again. Some find that impersonal. I find it efficient.
The more one has written, the more often one can refer to it. And thus, it was only a matter of time until this history series, too, would tree-huggingly recycle some of its raw material. Therefore, with utmost efficiency, I recommend my article on the Armenian genocide, on Operation Nemesis and on the long-lasting legal consequences from March 1921.
Enjoy reading it (again!)
By the way, it was the trial against Soghomon Tehlirian in Berlin that got Raphael Lemkin in Lviv/Lemberg interested in the subject of genocide and which made him switch from linguistics to law. Like so often, everything is connected with everything else.
And don’t worry, of course there will also be a full episode for April 1922.