Stefan Ihrig, "Justifying Genocide:  Germany and the Armenians from Bismarck to Hitler" (Harvard UP, 2016)


At least twice in past interview descriptions I've used the famous phrase attributed to Hitler: "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?" To be honest, I couldn't have told you much more about the extent of German knowledge of the Armenian genocide and its aftermath. After reading Stefan Ihrig's wonderful new book Justifying Genocide: Germany and the Armenians from Bismarck to Hitler (Harvard University Press, 2016), that's no longer true. The book is a comprehensive and insightful look at what Germans knew about the Armenian genocide, when they knew it, what they wrote and said about, and how what they wrote and said mattered. It's a wonderful book, full of colorful quotations and insightful asides. It's important, of course, for people interested in Armenia and/or the Holocaust. But it's equally important in suggesting the ways in which genocides do not happen in isolation and in suggesting our need to see the phenomenon globally rather than separately. And it reminds us that the suffering of genocide doesn't end with the conclusion of the conflict, but lingers on, as do the disputes about what really happened.

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Kelly McFall

Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University.

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