How old is armenia

Aghet - genocide of the Armenians

Elke Hartmann

To person

Elke Hartmann is a historian and Islamic scholar. She has published numerous works on the history of Armenian culture and Turkish Armenian policy and is a member of the research network "houshamadyan" / "Memory Book" in Berlin.

Between hope and danger

Large parts of Armenia belonged to the Ottoman Empire since the 16th century. In his later days, the Armenians lived in a field of tension between hope and danger. After the massacres at the end of the 19th century and the increasing marginalization, European pressure forced the Ottoman state to implement reforms in February 1914 - but these were never implemented when the war broke out. The catastrophe began for the Armenians: through deportation, murder and the transfer of their property and their businesses into Sunni-Turkish hands.

The city of Van, with Mount Varak in the background. (& copy Collection Michel Paboudjian, with kind permission of: www.houshamadyan.org)

introduction

Most of Armenia has been part of the Ottoman Empire since the early 16th century. At the end of the 19th century, under the rule of Sultan Abdülhamid II, there were massacres of the Armenians throughout the empire in the years 1894-1896. During the First World War, the Ottoman Armenians were victims of genocide. The following shows how the Armenians lived in the Ottoman Empire before this catastrophe, how they fitted into the Ottoman state and society, and what role they themselves played in it. At the same time, some examples are used to show which factors led to the increase in violence against the Armenian population in the course of the 19th century and ultimately to the destruction of Armenian life in the Ottoman Empire. On the one hand, this approach, which is still very new in research, does not only focus on extinction. He also deals with the Ottoman-Armenian everyday life and heritage itself and explains that the developments of the 19th century in no way necessarily led to the genocide of the Armenians and that Armenian history is not only told based on or leading to the genocide can. This research approach also aims to understand the genocide of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, especially from its Ottoman context, which also includes the consideration of the diverse interdependencies, options for action and local conditions of the Armenians in the capital and provinces.

Diversion and urbanization

The Armenians in the Ottoman Empire did not only live in the Armenian Highlands or the so-called six Armenian provinces (vilayat-ı sitte) Erzurum, Van, Bitlis, Diyarbekir, Mamuret ül-Aziz and Sivas. Since late antiquity, resettlements, wars, riots, flight and displacement have meant that many Armenians have lived outside Armenia for centuries: the Byzantine emperors brought thousands of Armenians to Thrace, the area that is now the north-eastern corner of Turkey and Bulgaria adjacent areas. The Seljuk conquest of the Armenian capital Ani in 1065 triggered a mass emigration, as a result of which an Armenian kingdom was formed in Cilicia (the region in southeast Asia Minor on the Mediterranean Sea) during the Crusader period. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the long Ottoman wars with Iran and ongoing unrest in Anatolia (the so-called Celali revolts) triggered again large migration movements among the Armenians, who moved from the countryside to the more protected cities, from the Armenian highlands to the more western provinces of the Ottoman Empire or moved into the distance. As a result, in addition to a worldwide diaspora within the Ottoman Empire, there were significant Armenian communities in almost all provinces - with the exception of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The 19th century saw several Ottoman-Russian wars that devastated the Armenian provinces. Above all, however, the 19th century was shaped by the far-reaching political, economic and social changes triggered by the accelerated modernization process to which the Ottoman Empire underwent. These great upheavals opened up new opportunities and aroused new hopes for some sections of the population. At the same time, they also brought with them fears for considerable parts of the population, which, coupled with the consequences of the wars, led to increased insecurity and increasing violence, especially in the Armenian provinces. As a result, emigration, but above all internal migration and the associated urbanization of the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire, increased again drastically in the course of the 19th century.

Hope and danger

In the late period of the Ottoman Empire, the Armenians lived in a field of tension between hope and danger. On the one hand, the excess of everyday violence changed the population structure, especially in the Armenian highlands. The destruction of the wars triggered waves of flight, the fields remained untilled, crops withered, and so there were local famines over the years, especially after the last Russo-Ottoman war of 1877/78. The insecurity of the settled farmers was increased by the frequent and mostly unpunished raids by nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes. Entire village communities impoverished. In addition to the loss of crops, livestock and pasture land, kidnappings of young women were also lamented.
View of the city of Harput (& copy Ernst Sommer, What I saw and pondered in the Orient, Bremen 1926. Courtesy of www.houshamadyan.org)

The image of defenseless women and children, whose husbands as migrant workers (bantukhd) in the big cities formed a new poverty proletariat or were victims of attacks and finally also massacres from 1894 to 1896, was reflected in countless consular reports; the fate of the kidnapped girls became a leitmotif of literature as well as the collective memory of the Armenians. Many farmers, by no means only Armenian, but also the Kurdish settled villagers, lived as subordinates (maraba) of their landlords in a personal relationship of dependency, which in many aspects came close to serfdom, but at the same time placed them under the protection of their beys (tribal chiefs or city notables) . The beys' position of power was based on the institute of tax leases. In some cases, they not only controlled individual villages, but entire regions.

The Armenians as part of Ottoman society

Violence, insecurity, impoverishment and emigration were only one pole of the Armenian experience in the Ottoman provinces. On the other hand, the newcomers in the provincial towns looked for and found opportunities in new activities and ways of life. In the dynamism of the diverse modernization processes, they tried out new production techniques and professional fields. The merchants, money changers and artisans developed into an urban middle class, which not infrequently achieved prosperity and self-confidence and who also linked hopes for the rule of law and political participation to the comprehensive reform process to which the Ottoman Empire underwent in the 19th century.

Overall, the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire at this time were an inseparable part of the Ottoman Empire in all areas of economy, culture and society, in the cities as well as in the villages, whether as landless farmers and impoverished migrant workers or as an aspiring middle class and who achieved prosperity and influence Ottoman social fabric. What set them apart from their Muslim compatriots in the Ottoman Empire was their status as a non-Muslim minority. In the Ottoman Empire as an Islamic state, non-Muslims were tolerated, but at the price of a subordinate status that excluded them from rulership and armed service, among other things. The minority status of the Armenians was accompanied by greater endangerment and defenselessness, as well as more pronounced social dynamics and a spirit of optimism in the era of modernizing reforms, which was often observed among less privileged minorities.

The Ottoman Empire as a multi-ethnic state

The Armenians had relative or absolute majorities in many places, but not all over a larger contiguous area. In addition to the Armenians, there were a large number of religious, linguistic and ethnic communities in Anatolia, of which the Turks, Kurds, Greeks, Arameans / Assyrians and Arabs are to be named as the largest groups, whereby these are further subdivided according to denominational or linguistic aspects. The population in the entire region was also heterogeneous in terms of their way of life and their social organization, whether as sedentary farmers, townspeople or nomadic or semi-nomadic tribal associations. So Armenian life in the Ottoman Empire always faced the need to come to terms with the other groups in the same region.

Diverse transitional forms

Armenian women in Diyarbekir, early 20th century. (& copy Hugo Grothe, Geographic Character Pictures, Leipzig 1909. With the kind permission of www.houshamadyan.org)
The entire area of ​​Asia Minor was not only characterized by a large religious-denominational, linguistic and ethnic diversity, but also by a multitude of transitional forms and mutual influences between the various groups and communities, i.e. by religious, cultural and linguistic transfer and adaptation processes. This also affected the Armenians. In the area around Urfa (in today's Turkey near the Syrian border) there lived Armenians who, in addition to their outwardly practiced Christianity, had also preserved Zoroastrian elements of belief. In Shadakh south of Lake Van (in the southeast of today's Turkey), in the Pontus region on the Black Sea and in other places, there were Armenians who had converted to Islam and who also practiced this religion, but who also followed Christian rites at home. Linguistic assimilations were widespread. In the region west of Lake Van, for example, many Armenians spoke Kurdish, in Cilicia, but also in some other regions in the 19th century, Ottoman-Turkish had replaced Armenian as the colloquial language within their own community. Overall, the Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire was linguistically integrated to an outstanding degree, and Ottoman language skills were as widespread in hardly any other non-Turkish population group as among the Armenians. Conversely, many Aramaeans and Chaldeans, especially in the region around Diyarbakır, had linguistically assimilated to the Armenians.

The "loyal nation"

Since the early 19th century at the latest, the Armenians have been considered particularly well integrated among the non-Muslim and non-Turkish population groups of the Ottoman Empire and - from the perspective of the Ottoman-Turkish head of state, in particular in contrast to the Christians in the Balkans, who are in the Resigned from the Ottoman state association in the course of the 19th century in order to found their own nation states - as a particularly loyal, "loyal nation" (millet-i sadiqa).

In the Islamic state system of the Ottoman Empire, non-Muslims were theoretically excluded from government functions. Therefore, non-Muslims were only represented in the Ottoman army, police and administration in exceptional cases. Only with the reforms called "tanzimat" (new orders) did the Ottoman administration open up to non-Muslims from the second half of the 19th century, while the army remained closed to them until 1909. Nevertheless, non-Muslims traditionally served all Ottoman sultans and governments as doctors or interpreters, for example. In particular, non-Muslims were present in those professional fields that emerged and differentiated themselves since the end of the 18th century: for example the gradually emerging banking system, in whose development in the Ottoman Empire Armenian sarrafs (moneylenders, bankers) played a decisive role.

The Armenian banker Hagop Pascha Kazazian served Sultan Abdülhamid II (r. 1876-1909) not only as a private asset manager with ministerial rank, but also as the Reich's finance minister. His two immediate successors in the sultan's service were also Armenians. Krikor Odian, a well-known Armenian intellectual and politician who had already played a decisive role in the drafting of the Armenian millet constitution (the "National Constitution" of the Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire) in 1860/63, was the most important advisor to the famous reformist Grand Vizier Midhat Pasha one of the masterminds and co-authors of the first Ottoman constitution, which was proclaimed in 1876. The Armenian doctor Servitchen (Serovpe Vitchenian) was one of the most important doctors of his generation.

Development opportunities in the provinces: the Arslanian family of architects from Yozgad

The example of the Arslanian family from Yozgad in Central Anatolia illustrates the dynamics of internal migration, new beginnings and advancement, as well as the possibilities for action that existed on site beyond the rules of the Ottoman-Islamic system of rule. Yozgad was a young city that was only founded by the Turkmen dynasty of the Çapanoğlu in the middle of the 18th century. Among them was an Armenian master builder named Nakkash Simon, who was jointly responsible for the construction of the first building and in return benefited from the protection of the powerful local princes. His grandson, Ohan Amira Arslanian, himself rose to become one of the city's influential notables, who as a merchant also maintained contacts with circles of the provincial administration and was decorated with titles and awards. At times he held the tax lease not only for individual villages but for the entire administrative district and thus took on a function that was actually reserved for Muslims.
Lesson in the German school of Mezire (Mamuretül-aziz) (& copy Paul Rohrbach, Armenia, Stuttgart 1919. Courtesy of www.houshamadyan.org)

In this way, Ohan Amira became part of the local power structure, and accordingly he was also involved in the countless power struggles and intrigues, through which sometimes he and sometimes his opponents were relieved of their functions and sent into exile. During the Crimean War of 1854-65 (between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, Great Britain and France) supplier to the Ottoman army, the Arslanian family maintained supplies for the population even during a subsequent local famine. With this, Ohan Amira gained such a high reputation that he was even appointed administrator of a mosque foundation and held this office for around 30 years - completely contrary to the regulations of Islamic law, which actually excluded such an office for non-Muslims as well as generally any functions of power Muslims. The Arslanian family followed suit with other Armenians. On the lands they controlled, they settled Armenians who had fled the eastern provinces. They eventually established a new church and school for the growing congregation.

Education as the silver bullet

The Armenians had a disproportionately high degree of modern school education. On the one hand, the educational institutions founded by Western missionaries among the population groups of Anatolia mainly addressed the Armenians. On the other hand, the Armenian community itself endeavored, not least in response to the activities of the missionaries, to establish a modern, secular school system. In addition to Armenian and European foreign languages, Ottoman Turkish was also taught in the schools, and some mission schools even used Turkish as the language of instruction. Many Armenian schools also taught Turkish (Muslim) children, especially in the villages where Ottoman state schools or Muslim educational institutions were initially lacking. The graduates of these schools also made their contribution to the development of the new Turkish state education system.
Theater performance in the orphanage of Dörtyol, 1920-1921 (& copy AGBU Bibliothèque Nubar, Paris, with the kind permission of www.houshamadyan.org)

The large schools in the capital, Istanbul, were particularly well-known. Some of the new schools in the provinces also became important centers of Armenian intellectual life. Examples include the Sanasarian College in Garin / Erzurum or the schools in Van, Kharpert / Harput and Aintab / Antep. The young generation of Armenian writers, who flourished in the brief period of freedom and hope between the Young Turkish Revolution of 1908 and the establishment of the dictatorship in 1913, had not only graduated from these schools, many also served as teachers there.

Cultural expressions of plural identities

The Armenians of the Ottoman Empire also excelled in the field of culture. Since the middle of the 16th century, Armenians were among the pioneers of early book printing in the Ottoman Empire. With Güllü Hagop (Hagop Vartovian), an Armenian founded the first modern theater in the Ottoman language, whose ensemble of actors also consisted almost exclusively of Armenians. The cityscape of Istanbul is determined in many places by the palaces and mosques that the Armenian architectural dynasty Balian built in the 19th century.Built in the 18th century on behalf of the sultans and in which they tried to merge the classic Ottoman architectural style with contemporary European influences and thus create a modern and at the same time specifically Ottoman style.

These examples show the extent to which Armenian life and culture in the Ottoman Empire was permeated by a double reference: On the one hand, its own historical tradition and tradition, the Armenian language, literature and church were important points of reference, as were the respective local conditions. On the other hand, however, the Armenians and of course primarily the Armenian elites referred to the Ottoman Empire as a frame of reference and identification within and for which they developed their skills and art. Both identifying poles found their expression in art and culture as well as in the forms of expression of everyday life of the Ottoman Armenians: their own Armenian roots and the Ottoman environment, and often influences from the cultural areas bordering on them in the west and east.

Photography pioneers: family photos and representations of the state

Elizabeth and Abraham Abrahamian family (seated); Avedis and Araxie Abrahamian (standing) in Istanbul, 1920 (& copy Carolann Najarian collection. Courtesy of www.houshamadyan.org)
Photography remained an art strongly influenced by Armenians throughout the Ottoman Empire. The Armenian court photographers - above all the studios Abdullah Frères and Sébah & Joaillier - created the official Ottoman modern external image: for example the large portrait of Ottoman modernization in the famous photo albums of Sultan Abdülhamids II or the staging of Ottoman diversity in the catalog for Ottoman World's Fair from 1873.

Beyond this artistic-visionary state staging, photography changed the life of the Armenians in the provinces and even in the villages in a very specific way. It soon became fashionable and prestigious among the Armenian and Muslim upper classes to have oneself and family portrayed in festive clothing or in costumes and with carefully selected decor and accessories in the photo studio. For the Armenian community, however, photography also became a means of appeal to draw European attention to the fate of the Armenians after massacres or to mobilize help for the orphans. For many Armenians, photography ultimately became a medium of unity for families torn apart by flight and emigration. The family pictures became a memento, the portrait of the absent - emigrants or the deceased - was integrated into new family portraits. Today, family photos are often the only relic of the lost world that the descendants of genocide survivors possess.

Indispensable craftsmen

Artists and intellectuals, doctors and bankers were ultimately a numerically manageable group. Specialized manual skills, on the other hand, offered a larger number of Armenian families the opportunity for advancement, in the capital, and even more so in the provincial centers. This was particularly successful when they were able to make themselves indispensable to the Ottoman state as producers. In the provinces this mostly happened in the context of the modern conscription army with its new needs for mass production of various goods. Ottoman coinage had been in the hands of the Düzian family (Armenian Catholic amiras) for a good century since 1757, while the Dadians, Armenian jewelers at the Sultan's court, had taken over the gunpowder monopoly in 1795. Beyond these famous exceptions at the top of Ottoman society, however, there are numerous case studies from the various provinces that show the tension between new beginnings and threats, in which the Armenian everyday life in the Ottoman Empire moved.
Armenian carpenters (marangoz) in their workshop, in the center: Garabed Nadjarian. (& copy Aharonian. Courtesy of www.houshamadyan.org)


Destructive distrust: the master blacksmith Parigian from Kharpert

The story of the Parigian family from Kharpert (Harput, in eastern Central Anatolia) demonstrates the way in which new opportunities could occasionally arise from the distressed situation of persecution and emigration and how the dynamic awakening of the Armenians in the modern age was also influenced by constant interaction with compatriots in the diaspora. However, it also shows how much the initiative and opportunities for development of the individual depend not least on the trust or mistrust of the Ottoman government - and have been restricted.

Apraham, Parichan-Ded Amu and Manug Parigian were three brothers from the village of Hussenig near Kharpert, who had made a name for themselves in the various branches of blacksmithing, which in the region around Harput and Mezire was primarily practiced by Armenians. In 1870 the Parigian brothers founded the first foundry in the whole area and used water power for their machines for the first time. In 1880 the youngest brother Manug traveled to the USA to find out about new production techniques. A short time later, Manug Parigian returned to his homeland with new knowledge and imported machines. With him came Dikran Terzian (Tertsagian), an experienced professional whom Parigian persuaded to take part in his factory in Kharpert.

The Parigians' factory manufactured a wide range of products: from agricultural implements to sewing machines to rifles for the Ottoman security forces. As useful as the Parigian's factory was for state organs and society in the region, the production of weapons aroused the distrust of the provincial administration. After the factory was closed and reopened twice at short intervals, Dikran Terzian first decided to leave the Ottoman state and return to the USA. The challenges and obstacles increased steadily. In 1893 the factory was closed again, only two years later, in 1895, the Parigian brothers were also affected by the nationwide Armenian massacres, in which all three were wounded. Nevertheless, they continue their work. Soon, however, it was their large windmill, which they had built for a better energy supply, that aroused the suspicion of the authorities. With the argument that the mill threatened the Ottoman army because cannons could also be fired from it, they ordered the destruction of the windmill. In 1905 the eldest brother, Apraham, died. Manug decided to flee to the USA. After the Young Turkish Revolution in 1908, Manug Parigian regained hope. Once more he returned to Kharpert. In 1915 he was first drafted into the army and then murdered. Ded Amu saved himself by agreeing to continue production in his foundry free of charge for the state. In 1923 he finally left the country too. He died in Los Angeles in 1931.

Deadly ascent: Pastermadjian jerky meat manufacturers from Erzurum

The history of the Parigians primarily shows how the changing course of the Ottoman authorities towards aspiring Armenians in the provinces, who benefited from the entrepreneurial spirit and the craft of the Armenians as much as they distrusted the Armenians. The fate of Khatchadour Efendi Pastermadjian from Erzurum, on the other hand, illustrates how the life of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was constantly endangered by the resentment of their Muslim environment. A threat that also arose because the authorities hardly did anything to protect the Armenians or to punish crimes against Armenians, but tacitly tolerated or even promoted the anti-Armenian mood in the population and attacks against Armenians.

Khatchadour Efendi Pastermadjian was born in 1824. His father was a butcher who had built up a modest prosperity and had good contacts with other craftsmen in his area, possibly also with local authorities. Business expanded under Khatchadour. The family began to produce jerky meat (Bastrma / Pastırma) and established itself as an important supplier to the Ottoman troops stationed in Erzurum, a garrison that was of particular importance as the headquarters of the 4th Army Corps and the military center of the entire Ottoman East. The family slaughterhouse soon turned into a factory with extensive trade contacts. Khatchadour gradually built up a network of relationships with the cattle-breeding tribes of the surrounding area, who supplied his factory, increased land and agricultural production, and he also worked in the highest circles of the provincial administration and the military. Khatchadour Pastermadjian also began to work in construction. After all, in accordance with his wealth and status, he also distinguished himself through charitable work.
The Fabrikatorian brothers, owners of a silk factory in Mezire (Memuretül-aziz) (& copy Vahé Haig. Courtesy of www.houshamadyan.org)

Khatchadour Efendi's success and rise inevitably attracted adversaries, and although his gifts and influence benefited non-Muslims as well as Muslims regardless of group affiliation, resentment and opposition eventually took on a religious connotation. When Khatchadour Efendi wanted to purchase a source of groundwater for his public bath (hamam) in 1872, a religious conflict sparked off. The source previously belonged to a Muslim foundation (waqf). Although the administrator (mütevelli) of the foundation initiated the process and the administrative court confirmed it, the devout Muslims of the neighborhood felt it was improper that the source should now be transferred from a Muslim foundation to the possession of an "unbeliever", and protested against it. With the acquisition of the source, Khatchadour Efendi Pastermadjian had crossed a limit, he had left the still limited scope of action that Muslim society continued to assign to non-Muslims despite all the political reforms in the Ottoman Empire. An angry mob set fire to one of Pastermadjian's commercial buildings (han), and for seven hours the crowd watched under curses as the fire destroyed around thirty shops and one residential building. Less than a month after this incident, Khatchadour Efendi Pastermadjian was killed in broad daylight in front of his hamam with a targeted shot in the head. The murderer, a Dagestani immigrant named Muhiddin, escaped: he had committed the murder on behalf of a group of influential Muslim notables from Erzurum, including the city's police chief.

Participation and exclusion

It was the important role played by the Armenians all over the country in the renewal of the Ottoman Empire, their cultural, economic and political awakening within the Ottoman state and society that ultimately exposed them to particular danger. The more visible the Armenians became as the motor and winners of modernization, the more self-confident Armenian elites demanded political reforms, effective protection of life and property and a balanced participation in the state, the more their ideas of a decentralized, plural Ottoman state clashed with their vision of one Muslim-Turkish empire, which the Young Turkish elites represented. Paradoxically, Armenian life in the Ottoman Empire became the more endangered the more the Armenians acknowledged the Ottoman state, expressed their will for political integration and campaigned for a renewal of the Ottoman Empire - which at the same time appeared to be the only viable way to escape the existing threat .

In the early 19th century, in the course of centralizing reform efforts, the Ottoman army smashed the Kurdish principalities of eastern Anatolia without, however, effectively and consistently establishing a new order and direct control in their place. Instead, the Ottoman governments relied on a violent delegation to various rival local actors who were supposed to keep each other under control and were given certain powers, weapons or privileges for this purpose. As a result, many regions were affected by long tribal feuds and power struggles between the organs of the provincial government and the military, irregular tribal regiments and local notables. The settling down of nomads and the settlement of the many Muslim refugees (muhacirun) from the Crimea, the Caucasus and the Balkans - who were often not given a sufficient livelihood and who could hardly provide for themselves other than by robbery - intensified the conflicts around arable and pasture land. These finally got a religious or denominational connotation when Christian Armenians or Alevites became victims of Sunni Muslims.

The devastation of the lost war against Russia of 1877-78 worsened the situation drastically. As in the previous wars against Russia, many Armenians had fled temporarily to other provinces or across the border. Destruction and flight led to crop failures, which in turn led to local famines, which hit Asia Minor and especially the eastern provinces again and again during the 1880s.

Since the middle of the 19th century, everyday life in many Armenian villages has been characterized by an excess of everyday violence, robbery and attacks, against which the Armenian farmers could hardly defend themselves, also because as Christians they had no right to carry arms. The Armenian Patriarchate as well as the Armenian so-called National Assembly as the secular representative of the Armenian community (millet) turned to the Ottoman central government with innumerable petitions asking for reforms and punishment of the crimes. Finally, some Armenians put their hopes in an appeal to Europe. At the end of the 1880s and the beginning of the 1890s, Armenian revolutionary parties were founded, which, in association with the Young Turkish revolutionaries, fought against the autocratic regime of Sultan Abdulhamid II and for the reinstatement of the constitution of 1876. As a reaction, above all, to the reforms for better protection of the Armenians, which were being put forward more and more vehemently with European diplomatic support, Abdülhamid initiated the nationwide Armenian massacres in 1895-96, which did not attract international outrage but no intervention.

Reforms and aspirations for emancipation

In view of the given population structure, national secession based on the model of the Balkan countries that had become independent was the least realistic option for the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th and early 20th centuries. That is why most of the Ottoman Armenians and especially their various elites, including the revolutionaries, were looking for ways of realizing the Armenian nation within the Ottoman state. They promised the development of their nation primarily through a modernization and strengthening of the Ottoman state, through a constitutional regime and political reforms, through equality for all population groups regardless of their religion, and finally through local autonomy regulations and a decentralized state order, which reflects the great diversity of the Ottoman population and the regional conditions in the empire into account.

The Armenian elites, who campaigned so vehemently for a renewal of the Ottoman Empire, ostensibly sought better protection for their community. Ultimately, however, they demanded a share in the state that they consider theirs. However, this would have meant questioning the Islamic foundations of the Ottoman state and Turkish dominance and placing the state system on a new foundation in these two central aspects - a scenario that was understood by the young Turkish rulers as an existential threat. Because their vision of the Ottoman state was not that of a multi-confessional and multilingual federal empire, but that of a large Turkish empire.

Multi-ethnic state or nation state: the "Armenian question" as the Ottoman system question

When, in February 1914, under European pressure, reforms to improve the situation of the Ottoman Armenians, including an autonomy regulation, were finally decided and when two European inspectors even came a few months later to oversee the implementation of the reforms, the Ottoman Empire entered the First World War and repealed the reform package almost immediately after entering the war. In the shadow of the war, the long smoldering "Armenian question", which was actually a question of the character of the Ottoman state, was finally "resolved": through the deportation and murder of the Armenians and the transfer of their property and their businesses into Sunnich Turkish hands . Followed by the expulsion of the Greeks in the so-called population exchange after 1923 as well as the decades-long attempt to assimilate the Kurdish population by force, the once diverse Ottoman Empire was forcibly transformed into a homogeneous Turkish nation-state according to its self-image.