The Genocide of the Christians, Turkey 1894–1924

Benny Morris, Dror Ze’evi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


We set out in 2010 to look afresh at the massacre of Turkey’s Armenians in 1915. While most of the world’s historians accepted the narrative that the Ottoman Turkish government had carried out a deliberate, pre-planned, systematic “genocide,” there were some—especially in Turkey—who disputed this. So, having no real knowledge or opinion either way, we decided to take a look at the vast, accessible documentation, in Turkey, the United States and Western Europe, and make up our own minds. What we discovered was that the story was much deeper and wider. The campaign of mass murder and ethnic cleansing was carried out, in staggered fashion, over a thirty-year period, between 1894 and 1924. It encompassed not only Turkey’s Armenians but also all the other Christian communities in the country, primarily the Greeks, but also the various Assyrian sects. The process of ethnic-religious cleansing was characterized by rounds of deliberate large-scale massacre, alongside systematic expulsions, forced conversions, and cultural annihilation that together amounted to genocide. At the beginning of this period, Christians had constituted about 20 percent of the population of Asia Minor; by 1924 the proportion of Christians in Turkey had fallen to 2 percent. The destruction of the Christian communities was the result of the deliberate policy of three successive Ottoman and Turkish governments –Abdülhamid II in 1894–1896, the CUP (the Young Turks) from 1914–1918, and the Nationalist regime under Ataturk during 1919–1924 –a policy that most of the country’s Muslim inhabitants did not oppose, and many enthusiastically supported. The murders, expulsions, and forced conversions were ordered by government officials and carried out by other officials, soldiers, gendarmes, policemen and, often, tribesmen and the civilian inhabitants of towns and villages. All of this occurred with the active participation of Muslim clerics and the encouragement of the Turkish-language press. This, we believe, is the inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the massive documentation we consulted, some of it seen and used for the first time.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPalgrave Studies in the History of Genocide
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages22
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in the History of Genocide
VolumePart F2006
ISSN (Print)2731-569X
ISSN (Electronic)2731-5703

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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