A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about how Germany has cheapened its own history and disregarded its own humanity by turning a blind eye on Japan’s horrific crimes against humanity in China on the eve of the 77th anniversary of the Nanking massacre.
In that piece, I wrote how Germany may not be preaching “universal values” per se, but politically-expedient political myths. Well, interestingly today, the German parliament voted to recognize the so-called “Armenian genocide” as a true “genocide” and a crime against humanity. Turkey – which has been both fighting and growing its own brand of terrorism abroad – is none too thrilled.
I wonder if this is a case of external politics ripening for Germany – as a lapdog of America, which has increasingly seen Turkey drift away – to strike at Turkey? Or is it a case of Germany finally finding some guts to stand up for history, as this LA Times story seem to report?
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan sent telegrams to Merkel and other officials thanking them for the decision and describing it as a “historic step,” the Associated Press reported.
“It’s a message to the entire world that crimes against humanity, even if they were committed more than a century ago, not only isn’t forgotten, but is justly condemned,” he said in the telegrams.
Shahan Jebejian, of Yerevan, Armenia, said his grandfather fled the forced marches into Mesopotamia and settled in the Syrian city of Aleppo as the only survivor from a family of 11.
“Everyone here in Yerevan is talking about it,” Jebejian said via Facebook. “I tried to find other political reasons for recognition of the genocide. But I couldn’t. It was mostly genuine.”
Howard Eissenstat, a Turkey expert and historian at St. Lawrence University, said genocide denial has been incorporated into the Turkey’s “national memory, in which indigenous non-Muslims worked with Western powers to destroy the nation.”
“This narrative is absolutely central to the way Turkey has viewed its relations with the West and its own ethnic diversity,” he said. “For most Turks, the resolution passed today is simply another example of this.”
Many Armenians, for whom recognition of the genocide forms a point of national catharsis, welcomed Germany’s decision.
Whether the Germany parliament’s action is politically opportunistic or deeply heart-felt … I look forward to the day when Germany can resolutely stand up to Japan and say: what you did in Nanking was a crime against humanity … and was wrong … and need to be condemned however powerful you were … are … and whatever power or coercive force you exert….