The Armenian genocide

At the end of the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire occupied much of the Near East, including part of the Caucasus, which explains the presence of Armenian Christians in the empire. In 1894, Armenian political demands were used as a pretext by the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid to carry out massacres against the Armenians. In 1909, the new Young Turk government also ordered the sacking of the Armenian quarter of Adana and the murder of its residents.

But it was during the First World War, in 1915, that the genocide began. Accused without proof of siding with the Russians, the Armenians were deported en masse, and exterminated. Their goods were plundered and some were forced to convert to Islam. It is now estimated that between half and two thirds of the Armenian population died as a result.

Jacques de Morgan and the Armenophile movement

The first massacres ordered by Abdul Hamid and the genocide that followed elicited a rapid response in Europe. Several prominent figures spoke out on behalf of the Armenians and campaigned for their rights. Jacques de Morgan played a central role in this movement. After hearing about the Armenian cause on his travels in the Caucasus, he was put in touch with the Armenian poet Arshag Chobanian. At his request, Morgan wrote a History of the Armenian People, published in 1919. He worked to establish their historical important role and, in an article entitled  ”Pro Armenia”  praised their  ”indomitable courage” . The poet Chobanian expressed his gratitude to Morgan, who in his words "[leaves] a vital and immortal page in the book of Armenia’s friends.”

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