This Article examines the historical and legal linkages between the Armenian genocide perpetrated by the Turks at the beginning of this century and the Jewish Holocaust carried out by the Nazis during World War I. The author outlines the similarities in processes and conditions that permitted the two genocides to occur. In both instances, the victim groups suffered from a historic vulnerability that rendered them easy targets of aggression. Also, world wars created opportunity structures of which monolithic political parties-the Ittihadists and the Nazis-were able to take advantage. Professor Dadrian then discusses how the Nazis were influenced by their knowledge of the Armenian genocide and appreciation that its perpetrators went mostly unpunished, arguing that Hitler and his cohorts were aware of the fate of the Armenians and encouraged by the world's apparently apathetic reaction to their deaths. The author also examines the key point of divergence between the two genocides-the shift in the international legal response from the acceptance of impunity to the imposition of retributive justice. Dadrian discusses why justice was achieved in one case when it had failed in the other, pointing to the ability of the World War H Allies to cooperate in establishing the Nuremberg Tribunal, the effectiveness of an international court in contrast to the domestic Turkish court that had tried its own nationals, and the importance of the rigorous procedures followed at Nuremberg in contrast to the laxities of the Turkish trials. In addition, Professor Dadrian argues that the Allies' resolve to administer justice at Nuremberg was hardened by a desire to end the legacy of impunity. In sum, the Nuremberg Charter's, article 6(c)-dealing with the concept of "crimes against humanity"--had its origin in the May 24, 1915, Declaration of the Entente Allies reacting to the then-evolving World War I Armenian massacres, served as a matrix for the development of a machinery of retributive justice that succeeded in setting new standards for international jurisprudence.
Vahakn N. Dadrian,
The Historical and Legal Interconnections Between the Armenian Genocide and the Jewish Holocaust: From Impunity to Retributive Justice,
Yale J. Int'l L.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjil/vol23/iss2/5