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This lesson examines the ways in which historical evidence has been used to construct a narrative of the Armenian Genocide. In 1915, there was no word to accurately describe what the Turks were doing to the Armenians. Raphael Lemkin did not coin the term "genocide" until Nazi brutality in Europe brought mass murder closer to the heart of the Western world. In the Ottoman Empire, journalists, diplomats, and other witnesses struggled to find language to convey the depth and the enormity of the anti-Armenian measures. Accounts refer to "horrors," "barbarity," "massacres," "murder," "deportations," or "ravages," but no word captures the scale of the violence.This lesson addresses the following essential questions: What happened to the Armenians in 1915? What primary source evidence do we have of the crimes against the Armenians? What different steps did the Ottoman Empire take to try to destroy the Armenian people? What can responsible people do when confronted with powerful evidence of acts against humanity and civilization? How can history be used as a tool to prevent future atrocities rather than abused as a tool to reinforce divisions among people?
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