The Armenian Genocide also known and remembered as the Armenian Holocaust, refers to the cautious and systematic devastation of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and after World War I.
It was put into action through massacres and expulsions, with the expulsions consisting of enforced marches under conditions arranged to lead to the death of the deportees. The total number of Armenian deaths was believed to have been between one and one and a half million. A couple of other ethnic groups were attacked by the Ottoman Empire during this period also, including Greeks and Assyrian, and some considered those events to be part of the same policy of extermination.
It is widely known to have been one of the first modern genocides, as scholars point to the organized way in which the killings were carried out to destroy the Armenians, it is the second most-studied case of genocide after the Holocaust.
The start date of the genocide is commonly believed to be April 24, 1915, the day that Ottoman authorities arrested community leaders and intellectuals in Constantinople. The Ottoman military removed Armenians from their homes and forced them to march for miles, depriving them of water and food, to the desert of Syria. Massacres were indiscriminate of gender or age, with rape and other sexual abuse common. The greater number of disbandment of communities were found as a result of the Armenian genocide.
The organized destruction of objects of Armenian religious, cultural, historical and communal heritage was another key indiator of both the genocide itself and the post-genocidal campaign of denial. Armenian monasteries and churches were destroyed and changed into mosques, Armenian quarters were destroyed, and Armenian cemeteries flattened.
Armenians lost their property and wealth without reimbursement. Farms and businesses were lost, and all churches, schools, hospitals, orphanages, monasteries, and graveyards became the property of the Turkish state. The Ottoman Minister of Commerce and Agriculture issued a decree in January 1916 instructing all financial institutions running within the empire’s borders to turn over Armenian assets to the government. Six million dollars worth of Turkish gold pounds were seized along with real property, bank deposits cash, and jewelry. The assets were then transferred to European banks, including Deutsche and Dresdner banks.
At the end of World War I, Genocide survivors tried to reclaim their prior homes and assets, but were refused and driven away by the Ankara Government. The Armenian Patriarch in Constantinople in 1914 submitted a list of the Armenian holy sites under his instruction. This list contained 2,549 religious places, 200 were monasteries while 1,600 were churches. UNESCO in 1974 stated that after 1923, out of 913 Armenian historical monuments left in Eastern Turkey, 464 have disappeared completely, 252 are in ruined, and 197 are in need of repair.
The California Legislature passed the Armenian Genocide Insurance Act, in July 2004 with relatives and descendants of Armenian Genocide victims settling a case for about 2400 life insurance policies.
In 1918, the Turkish government tried to recover for the people it had killed with the claim that there are no identifiable heirs to the policy holders. However, the settlement provided 20 million dollars, of which 11 million was for heirs of the Genocide victims.