“A Genocide that Never Happened” Views and Reactions to Donald Bloxham’s The Great Game of Genocide

History is written by the victors-Winston Churchill,

Donald Bloxham’s The Great Game of Genocide is by far the most detailed account about the atrocities that occurred in the Republic of Turkey (formerly the Ottoman Empire) against the orthodox christian Armenians I have ever had the opportunity to read. Prior to reading this text, I was gravely uneducated in the details surrounding what is considered the first genocide of the modern era. Which only speaks volumes to some of the major points of international ignorance which Bloxham indeed never fails to address throughout his work and then primarily in the final chapter strictly dealing with the question of recognition. Personally as I read the work, I would periodically find myself recalling the details of the genocide which either completely escaped me or was simply never passed to me by any form of “common place” media. As opposed to the internationally recognized and most well known modern genocide, the Holocaust, which completely overshadowed the plight of the Armenian people in the wake of a near ethnic oblivion. Aside from personal reflections I made during the reading of the text, much of Bloxham’s work (however rigidly and ill-formally crafted) was indeed a exceedingly and informative piece that does in fact I believe outline the timeline of the genocide with enough detail to emphasize not only its impact on the Armenian people but within a global context as opposed to popular belief. Points brought up throughout chapter one ranging from the decline of the Ottoman empire to the rise of Armenian political parties were very well articulated in thought. Although personally I lost my co-called “train-of-thought” every now and again. As one proceeded into the second and third chapters of the work; Bloxham shifts into the primary phase of the genocide itself in 1915 into 1923. Many of the crimes against the Armenian people by not only (ironically) the Community for Unity and Peace (CUP) but other Muslim denominations in the region including the Kurds were unexpected and completely unknown to me which left me rather perplexed throughout this section.  It was not particularly the involvement of these groups in the Genocide but rather the fact that despite these despicable acts little evidence exists of its perpetration or rather if it does it is evidence that has been time and time again refuted. For example; during much of the Armenian deportation by the CUP. many Armenians were registered for deportation but no records (for most of them) even exist of their arriving at there destination which leaves one to assume that the deportation quickly evolved into a full on massacre of the Armenians and all non-Muslim/pro-pan-Turkish peoples. The deportation is by far in my opinion the least cataclysmic event to afflict the Armenian people as in comparison to the death marches, front-line military slaughter, and  bombings. Yet as suggested in Hugo Slim’s text “Killing Civilians”, the ousting or “ethnic cleansing” of a particular group from an area proves to be among the greatest of hardships inflicted upon a civilian population leading a number of different forms of suffering of the peoples involved.  As per my usual sentiment, I am always quick to be amazed by the capacity for human violence based on something so mundane or without evidence such as the possible (which in actuality had no premise with the Armenian) undermining of power. The CUP’s efforts to create a purely Turkish state however unfair and disastrous of the Armenian population it was somehow without a problem was indeed by all context of the word “successful”. Not only did the CUP successfully decimate the majority of a non-Muslim ethnic group from east Anatolia, they miraculous happening to you got away with it! It’s like watching a younger sibling get away with spitting in your face and kicking you in the shin only to find out that no one will ever say it happened even though it clearly happened in front of several spectators and you have the twitching eye to show for it. Now imagine that you are the Armenian people and your younger sibling was the CUP/Ottoman Turks. Nothing less then a frustration builds up knowing that all of your suffering is only to be ignored and brushed aside as the rest of the world continues to remain ignorant to your suffering. Bloxham’s work as a whole was excellent for anyone willing to drive through the historical aspects of his work and pay close attention to his subtopics within chapters, reading it like a history textbook. Aside from those minor details regarding the overall text compositions with texts structure, the text proves to extraordinarily re-image the Armenian side suffering in a better lime light of comprehension of not only the scope of the international ‘sphere of the Armenian genocide but the politics and economics surrounding the controversy.

 

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