Turkey and the Armenian Ghost: On the Trail of Genocide

Charles Woodhead Discussion


Turkey and the Armenian Ghost

On the Trail of Genocide

Laure Marchand & Guillaume Perrier

Translated by Debbie Blythe

The first genocide of the twentieth century remains unrecognized and unpunished. Turkey continues to deny the slaughter of over a million Ottoman Armenians in 1915 and the following years. What sets the Armenian genocide apart from other mass atrocities is that the country responsible has never officially acknowledged its actions, and no individual has ever been brought to justice.   In Turkey and the Armenian Ghost, a translation of the award-winning La Turquie et le fantôme arménien, Laure Marchand and Guillaume Perrier visit historic sites and interview politicians, elderly survivors, descendants, authors, and activists in a quest for the hidden truth. Taking the reader into remote mountain regions, tiny hamlets, and the homes of traumatized victims of a deadly persecution that continues to this day, they reveal little-known aspects of the history and culture of a people who have been rendered invisible in their ancient homeland. Seeking to illuminate complex issues of blame and responsibility, guilt and innocence, the authors discuss the roles played in this drama by the "righteous Turks," the Kurds, the converts, the rebels, and the "leftovers of the sword." They also describe the struggle to have the genocide officially recognized in Turkey, France, and the United States. Arguing that this giant cover-up has had consequences for Turks as well as for Armenians, the authors point to a society sickened by a century of denial.  The face of Turkey is gradually changing, however, and a new generation of Turks is beginning to understand what happened and to realize that the ghost of the Armenian genocide must be recognized and laid to rest.

Laure Marchand is a correspondent for Le Figaro and Le Nouvel Observateur. She lives in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Guillaume Perrier is a correspondent for Le Monde and Le Point. He lives in Istanbul, Turkey.  

Debbie Blythe is a Montreal-based translator and lecturer in the Department of Translation and Written Communication at McGill University.

McGill-Queen's University Press

March 2015 260pp  9780773545496 Hardback



1 Reply

Post Reply

The authors - just as the Pope - are wrong: "The first genocide of the twentieth century" remains the one committed by colonial troops in then "German South West Africa" between 1904 and 1908. The authors are right in as far as both these genocides are hitherto unrecognized by those who as governments remain in denial by avoiding such term. Ironically as it is, the debate in Germany now moves into the direction that "a genocide is a genocide is a genocide" and hence beyond diplomatic tip-toeing requires the moral obligation to be acknowledged as such. This is a useful reminder for those advocating since long that German governments have to make such an admission also in the case of the Herero and Nama in their uphill battles to have this admission of guilt as part of official government policy, which would also be a step into the right direction towards true reconciliation with the Namibian people.