In August 1939, Hitler justified his plan to destroy Poland and create a new order by asking, "Who remembers now the extermination of the Armenians?" Hitler's rhetorical question acquired an ominous significance with the extermination of Jews and Gypsies during the Second World War. Many scholars have argued that the absence of justice in the case of the Young Turk government, guilty of crimes against the Armenian people during the First World War, led Hitler to believe he would not be held responsible for his own crime against humanity. This link between the two major genocides of the century has led scholars to focus more on the historical and political significance of the Armenian or "forgotten" genocide.
In the politically charged atmosphere surrounding the study of genocide, there have also been renewed doubts on the authenticity of the document where Hitler's statement was recorded. In 1985 the controversy reached its height in the pages of The New York Times and other major newspapers.
This essay is the most intensive research undertaken to date on Hitler's statement to his generals. Through meticulous research, Dr Bardakjian has traced the likely source of the document and the circumstances of is publication. The author has compared the three extant versions of the document and explored the reasons why the prosecution at the Nuremberg Tribunal did not enter this particular version as evidence, thus giving rise to the renewed doubts.
The scope of the research includes a little known antecedent as well as other evidence which indicates that Hitler was aware of the Armenian genocide and used this knowledge to his advantage before and during the Second World War.
The appendices contain copies of the relevant documents, allowing the reader to make his/her judgment on the authenticity of this intriguing piece of historical evidence.
Kevork B. Bardakjian is lecturer on Armenian and bibliographer at Harvard University. He has studied at Yerevan State University and received his D. Phil. from Oxford University. Dr. Bardakjian lectures on Armenian culture and literature and on the impact of the Armenian genocide.