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Destruction at Adana, Armenia, 1918

Near View of Ruined Houses Destroyed in Massacre of Armenians by the Turks
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_5769
 
Document Description
A close-up view of destruction at Adana, Armenia, 1918.
 
Questions
At what level would you assess the destruction of the city of Adana?
Why would the Turkish government wish to destroy this city?
What might the men in the photo be thinking or doing at that particular moment?
If you were an Armenian during this time, would you or could you ever return to this city? Why or why not?
What sense of the Armenian culture might be lost with this type of destruction?
 
Historical Challenges
Explore the difficulty of the International Community in stopping instances of mass destruction and mass killings of ethnic groups in certain countries.
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
ELA Write a newspaper article describing the scene to an uninformed audience.
Art Create a poster depicting the events in Turkey during WW1.
 
Resources
Balakian, Peter. The Burning Tigris. NY, Harper Perennial, 2003. Dadrian, Vahakn N. The History of the Armenian Genocide. Providence RI, Berghahn Books, 1995.
 Hovannisian, Richard, ed. The Armenian Genocide in Perspective. New Brunswick NJ, Transaction Press, 1986.
Hovannisian, Richard, ed. Remembrance and Denial: The Case of the Armenian Genocide
Morgenthau, Henry III. Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story. NY, Doubleday and Doran, 1918.
 

Historical Context
The city of Adana was the center of the last traditional Armenian state in the Ottoman Empire, Cilicia Armenia. Irrigated by three rivers, the area was fertile with grains that were exported. Early in the 20th century there were roughly 40,000 citizens living in Adana of which half were Armenian. Most of the people of the entire region were poor farmers although there was a small population of wealthy Christian merchants.

By early spring 1909, ethnic tensions in Adana were on the rise as the “Young Turk” revolution swept through the Ottoman Empire and counterrevolutionary political groups espoused their own brands of nationalism.

Coinciding with violence in Constantinople, killings, looting, and burning began in Adana as Turkish citizens attacked Armenians in the Christian quarter of the city. Some two thousand Armenians were killed in the first forty-eight hours as local authorities, plagued by corruption, did nothing to halt the violence. On April 25th a Regiment of regular Turkish troops of the “Young Turk” government arrived in Adana. Instead of defending the property and possessions of those being attacked, the soldiers aided the attackers. By the end of the spree nearly one half of the city was destroyed and one hundred thousand Armenians were driven from their homes and property or killed.

 
Essential Question
Why are civilian populations targets for military operations during times of war?
 
Check for Understanding
Write a paragraph describing the destruction at Adana, Armenia using evidence from the photograph.