Akçam book reveals ‘The Young Turks' Crime Against Humanity’

Drawing on unprecedented access to greatly extended and once secret  documents from the Ottoman archives of 1913 onward, Taner Akçam, associate professor at Clark University has written a timely new book, “The Young Turks' Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire” (Princeton University Press 2012), which  covers factors that set the stage for the Armenian genocide and elucidates their full historical significance.

The book delves into more than 600 documents — qualified as secret or top-secret — belonging to the different departments of the Interior Ministry of the time and today residing in the Prime Ministerial Ottoman Archive, Istanbul. These are classified as the only reliable source by Turkish authorities today. Akçam, relying on his unique research of these documents, demonstrates in exceptional detail that the policies of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, toward the Armenians specifically, were intended to bring about the annihilation of its Christian subjects.

Akçam reveals that, although the deportation and killing of Armenians was internationally condemned in 1915 as a "crime against humanity and civilization," the Ottoman government initiated a policy of denial that is still maintained by the Turkish Republic. The case for Turkey's so-called "official history" rests on documents from the Ottoman imperial archives, to which access has been heavily restricted until recently.

Learn more about Prof. Akçam's book and his speaking engagements on the publisher's official Facebook page for the book.


“I hope to radically restructure the present framework of debate on the 1913-18 period of Ottoman History and the ethnic cleansing policies that the unionists put into place throughout Anatolia. I will show how demographic policy and national security were intertwined in a manner that made genocide a possibility,” Akçam writes.

"Akçam's newest book on the Armenian genocide is based on stunning documentation from the Ottoman Turkish archives,” writes “Stalin's Genocides” author Norman M. Naimark. “Arguing that the annihilation of the Armenians (and the ethnic cleansing of the Ottoman Greeks) was based primarily on the Young Turks' commitment to demographic engineering, Akçam also explores the forced conversion and assimilation of Armenian children and the seizure of Armenian property.

“The book stands as powerful testimony to those who perished and as an unimpeachable rebuttal to denial,” Naimark adds.

Taner Akçam, Robert Aram and Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marian Mugar Endowed Chair of Armenian Genocide Studies at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Akçam holds the Robert Aram and Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marian Mugar Endowed Chair of Armenian Genocide Studies at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University; the only endowed chair in the world dedicated to research and teaching on the subject of the Armenian Genocide.  He was the first Turkish scholar to publicly express his conviction that the 1915 Armenian genocide occurred under the Ottoman Empire (of which Turkey is a successor state). He is approached frequently on the topic by scholars and media from around the world. Most recently, Akçam has been interviewed regarding the French Senate’s approval of legislation criminalizing the denial of officially recognized genocides, including the Armenian genocide.  In October 20122, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that a violation was committed against freedom of expression in Akçam’s case against the Turkish government’s Article 301, a law making it a crime to “insult Turkishness.”

In April 2006, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts presented Akçam with a distinguished award for his outstanding work in human rights and fighting genocide denial.  He also received the Hrant Dink Freedom Award from the Armenian Bar Association, citing him as “a champion of historical truth about the Armenian Genocide and for his courageous defense of liberty and free speech.”

Akçam’s many books include "From Empire to Republic: Turkish Nationalism and the Armenian Genocide” (Zed Books, 2004) and “A Shameful Act: the Armenian Genocide and Turkish Responsibility” (Metropolitan Books, 2006), which won the 2007 Minnesota Book Award for general nonfiction and has been translated into Greek, Rumanian, Dutch and French. He also co-authored with Vahakn N. Dadrian “Judgment at Istanbul: The Armenian Genocide Trials” (Berghahn Books, 2011), which is published in English and Turkish.

Here are two published reviews of Akcam's latest works:

History confronted - A fresh perspective on the Armenian tragedy (The Financial Times, June 22, 2012) “Akçam has long courted controversy in Turkey, where he was jailed as a student activist in the 1970s … but his intellectual courage is beyond question.”

Armenian Genocide (American Diplomacy, June 2012) “… a must for serious scholars of the Armenian Genocide.”

For more information, contact the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (508-793-8897; chgs@clarku.edu).