• Ideas & their Consequences: Genocide and International Justice after 1919

Ideas & their Consequences: Genocide and International Justice after 1919

Funded by the EU programme “Europe for Citizens”, this project aims to examine the growth of two opposing movement of ideas which emerged after the signature of the Treaty of Versailles in the summer 1919. One movement that gathered momentum advocated for international justice and for the rescue of the victims, especially those of the Armenian Genocide, as the allies established tribunals to try the perpetrators of atrocities and created the first High Commission for Refugees. On the other hand, a contrasting movement set the ideological foundations of the worst atrocities the century was yet to experience.

The project will reflect on the interplay of political ideas and history: what lessons do people learn from events? How did the contemplation of the war’s disasters feed the development of such radically contradictory movements?

This exploration of ideological movements past, and of their consequences, is intended to generate a greater understanding of how ideas spread, coalesce and grow into movements, and of the material consequences they can have.

The project will feature an international conference in Berlin, bringing together key academics in the field to pool the latest knowledge on the subject.

The project also includes the creation of an information pack on the results of the conference, dissemination and discussion events in five European cities, online video interviews of key speakers, a traveling exhibition and a website presenting the results of the project and providing leads for further information.

Visit the project website at: https://www.genocideandjusticeafter1919.com

AGENDA

 

DISSEMINATION EVENT N°1

Potsdam, Germany - 2 June 2021 

Venue: Online

Title: “The Rise of International Law: The Talaat Pasha Trial in June 1921”

Speaker & Moderator: Rolf Hosfeld & Roy Knocke

In 1921, the Armenian student Soghomon Tehlirian assassinated the former Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire and chief perpetrator of the Armenian genocide, Mehmed Talât. After a cursory two-day trial Tehlirian was surprisingly acquitted by a Berlin court. The trial turned into a tribunal on the victim’s crimes against humanity, and it made legal history. Even Raphael Lemkin, the “founding father” of the UN Genocide Convention, has always referred in his lifetime to this spectacular Berlin trial of June 2-3, 1921 as his initial experience to coin the term genocide. Hannah Arendt cited the trial strategy as a reference in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem. The lecture sheds light on the background of the trial and its impact on the development of international law.

DISSEMINATION EVENT N°2

Paris, France - 3 June 2021

Venue: Online with Memorial de la Shoah

Title: “The Original Sin of Europe’s Dark 20th Century – (Re)Integrating the Armenian Genocide into European and World History”

Speaker & Moderator: Stefan Ihrig & Claire Mouradian

Our knowledge of the Armenian Genocide and of what it meant for the world at the time has been expanding rapidly over the course of the last years. As Stefan Ihrig shows it also provoked intense debates in Germany after World War I – to such an extent that we can clearly identify a larger and true genocide debate taking place there over the course of a few years. Many Germans came to the wrong conclusions though: for German nationalists and the Nazis the Armenian Genocide presented core lessons about ethnic policies and the international order. By virtue of its reception and the debates it provoked the Armenian Genocide thus was part of the pre-history of the Shoah. What does this mean for our understanding of the 20th century? In this lecture Ihrig will develop some ideas on how we have to rethink some core notions of the history of the last century.

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE

Berlin, Germany - 27 to 29 August 2021

Venue: European Academy

Title: Genocide, Mass Violence and International Justice after 1919

Speakers & Moderators: Hülya Adak, Vicken Cheterian, Michael B. Elm, Fatma Müge Göçek, Edita Gzoyan, Gerd Hankel, Rolf Hosfeld, Stefan Ihrig, Hilmar Kaiser, Chalak Kaveh, Roy Knocke, Charlie Laderman, Gurgen Petrossian, Momme Schwarz, Ronald G. Suny, Melanie Tanielian.

The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. That summer marked the
beginning of two contrasting historical developments. One movement that gathered
momentum advocated for peaceful international solutions and justice and for the
rescue of the victims, especially those of the Armenian Genocide and other mass
atrocities. First steps of international justice were debated, the first High Commission
for Refugees was created by the League of Nations. On the other hand, a contrasting
moment set the ideological foundations of the worst atrocities the century was yet to
experience.

In this regard, the conference sits at the intersection of two burgeoning fields of
historical inquiry: the history of humanitarianism and international justice, on the one
hand, and the history of political violence and radical political ideology in the interwar
period, on the other. It aims to explore how these contrasting movements were
affected by the atrocities of World War I and by the Treaties that ended the war (from
Versailles to Lausanne), and what part they eventually played in political thinking in Europe.

 

DISSEMINATION EVENT N°3

Cologne, Germany – 9 September 2021

Venue: DomForum

Title: “The Rise of International Law: The Talaat Pasha Trial in June 1921”

In German

Speaker: Rolf Hosfeld

In 1921, the Armenian student Soghomon Tehlirian assassinated the former Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire and chief perpetrator of the Armenian genocide, Mehmed Talât. After a cursory two-day trial Tehlirian was surprisingly acquitted by a Berlin court. The trial turned into a tribunal on the victim’s crimes against humanity, and it made legal history. Even Raphael Lemkin, the “founding father” of the UN Genocide Convention, has always referred in his lifetime to this spectacular Berlin trial of June 2-3, 1921 as his initial experience to coin the term genocide. Hannah Arendt cited the trial strategy as a reference in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem. The lecture sheds light on the background of the trial and its impact on the development of international law.

 

DISSEMINATION EVENT N°4

Milan, Italy - 14 September 2021

Venue: Casa della Cultura

Title: “Telling the truth: Writer Armin T. Wegner and the Armenian Genocide”

In Italian

Speakers: Johanna Wernicke-Rothmayer, Marcello Flores, Michele Wegner

 

DISSEMINATION EVENT N°5

Valence, France – 7 October 2021

Venue: Centre du Patrimoine arménien

Title: “Guerre, Génocide et Mémoire dans le Moyen-Orient Aujourd’hui”

In French

Speaker: Vicken Cheterian

 

DISSEMINATION EVENT N°6

Brussels, Belgium – 9 December 2021

Venue: House of European History

Title: “The Original Sin of Europe’s Dark 20th Century – (Re)Integrating the Armenian Genocide into European and World History”

Speaker & Moderator: Stefan Ihrig & Rolf Hosfeld

Our knowledge of the Armenian Genocide and of what it meant for the world at the time has been expanding rapidly over the course of the last years. As Stefan Ihrig shows it also provoked intense debates in Germany after World War I – to such an extent that we can clearly identify a larger and true genocide debate taking place there over the course of a few years. Many Germans came to the wrong conclusions though: for German nationalists and the Nazis the Armenian Genocide presented core lessons about ethnic policies and the international order. By virtue of its reception and the debates it provoked the Armenian Genocide thus was part of the pre-history of the Shoah. What does this mean for our understanding of the 20th century? In this lecture Ihrig will develop some ideas on how we have to rethink some core notions of the history of the last century.

To read the project summary, please click HERE.

For inquiries or to find out more about the project, please write to: europe@agbu.org

 

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