Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The Gallipoli/Dardanelles Campaign and the Armenian Genocide

Posted by Fredsvenn on January 3, 2015

Ottoman artillery in Gallipoli (Photo: Turkish General Staff)

‘In most of the writings about Gallipoli, civilian deportations and casualties are rarely mentioned. Even more disappointing is the failure to make the important link that the Gallipoli/Dardanelles campaigns had to one of the key phases of the Armenian Genocide—a genocide that would lead to the death of approximately 1,500,000 Armenians.’

The Entente naval bombardments of the Dardanelles Straits in February and March, and later the amphibious landings at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, were two interrelated military deployments that gravely threatened the survival of the Ottoman Empire. These military battles, in turn, are linked to the Young Turk regime’s draconian decision to arrest several hundred Armenian community and political leaders in Constantinople on April 24, an act that was an opening phase of the Armenian Genocide.

Many books and articles written about the military battles at Gallipoli note the substantial number of military casualties on both sides. For Australians and New Zealanders, these days of battle are heroically identified with ANZAC Day, a day of national mourning and pride.

For Turkish citizens, it is a battle that saw a rare military victory in World War I and the emergence of a charismatic Turkish officer Mustafa Kemal who rallied his troops in defense of the empire and who would go on to become Ataturk, the founding president of the Republic of Turkey.

Military histories often focus on brilliant commanding officers and brave, often suffering, soldiers, but usually offer less on the societal context of the war. However, in the era of modern “total war,” where civilian targets were seen as a key part of a strategy for victory, incomplete accounts of the totality of war are insufficient.

In most of the writings about Gallipoli, civilian deportations and casualties are rarely mentioned. Even more disappointing is the failure to make the important link that the Gallipoli/Dardanelles campaigns had to one of the key phases of the Armenian Genocide—a genocide that would lead to the death of approximately 1,500,000 Armenians.

The stark fact is that the number of naval and army personnel who were wounded and died in the Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaigns pales in comparison to the number of civilians who were arrested, starved, tortured, and died in the Armenian Genocide—a genocide that gained significant momentum coinciding with the Entente landings at Gallipoli.

For the Young Turk dictatorship the two events were linked in key ways. Amidst foreign military peril and possible Entente military occupation of Constantinople, there was swift and deadly action to target the Armenian-Christian ethnic minority for genocide.

The Gallipoli/Dardanelles Campaign and the Armenian Genocide

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