Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, the 27th of January was picked for this day as it marks the date that Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by the Russians in 1945 – 70 years ago today.
The word holocaust has become synonymous with the atrocities of World War Two but there have sadly been many acts of genocide before and after the Shoah.
The word genocide was in fact coined in the 1940s to talk about the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks during World War One.
Between 1915 and 1923 over one million Armenians were forcibly deported from the Ottoman Empire and a further one and a half million perished – from starvation or disease in concentration camps, on forced marches into the Syrian desert or just out-right murdered by the ‘Young Turks.’
This massacre has never been formally acknowledged by the Turkish government and there is a new legal trial pending on this matter so we are likely to hear more about this tragedy over the next year or so.
There is also an informative website giving many more details of the events of 1915-1923.