Concentration Camps during the Armenian Genocide։ Road to the Death

Edita Gzoyan Discussion
September 18, 2023 to September 20, 2023
Subject Fields: 
Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies

The first “concentration camps” emerged at the end of the 19th century. The Spanish introduced camps in Cuba, the United States in the Philippines, the British in the South African Republic (Transvaal), and, later, the Germans in German Southwest Africa. The camps were used to target a wide range of persons in large-scale conflicts.

In the case of the Armenian Genocide, for the first time, concentration camps were used by the Ottoman government as a method of genocide. As part of this agenda, the caravans of Armenian deportees – which have been described as “caravans of death” – set out from their homes towards the Syrian desert, serving as a tool for the mass extermination of Armenians. The Ottoman government, controlled by the ruling “Committee of Union and Progress,” turned locations in and around Al Bab, Manbij, Meskeneh, Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor, Ras al-Ayn, Abu Harera and a number of other settlements became locations into concentration camps. There, a significant part of Armenians was eliminated in epidemics: over 340,000 Armenians died from typhus. Cases of forced religious conversion, abduction and sale of children and women were also widespread. In 1916, the Turkish authorities carried out mass murders of the Armenians who were still alive in the concentration camps. Indexing a wide variety of historic records, the number of Armenians murdered in the concentration camps of Syria and Mesopotamia during 1915-1918, as well as those who died from hunger and diseases, totals out to approximately 700,000 lives.

The conference will discuss the lives and fates of Armenians both during the deportation marches and their experiences in concentration camps. Moreover, it will offer a comparative perspective by including role of concentration camps in other genocides.

Proposed themes for discussion are:

  1. Deportation routes to concentration camps
  2. The experience of exiles during displacement
  3. The geography of concentration camps
  4. Daily life in concentration camps
  5. Epidemics and health problems
  6. Aid distribution and self-help
  7. Issues regarding access to food
  8. Moral resistance
  9. Orphans and orphanages
  10. Ottoman government laws, decrees and policies related to concentration camps
  11. Concentration camps in history and in the context of other genocides
  12. Reflection on concentration camps in literature
  13. Memoirs of individual survivors
  14. Armenian and foreign figures and missions

There can be applications on other related topics as well.


The deadline for submitting the applications is July 1. The application should include a short abstract (200-250 words) and a short bio (max. 300 words). Applications should be sent to the following email address:

Information about the selected participants will be published on July 15, 2023. Some selected papers will be published after the conference.