The UCLA Promise Armenian Institute, in collaboration with the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), the Ararat-Eskijian Museum, the UCLA Richard Hovannisian Endowed Chair in Modern Armenian History, and the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies, presents the first in its Distinguished Lecture Series, "When Was the Decision Made to Annihilate the Armenians?", to be delivered by Prof. Taner Akçam of Clark University. Prof. A. Dirk Moses of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will serve as the discussant for this lecture.
In this presentation, Prof. Akçam will introduce some newly unearthed documents from the Ottoman archives in Istanbul that indicate that the first decision to exterminate Armenians was taken on December 1, 1914, well before most scholars in the field ever suggested. In these documents, the Turkish term for extermination [imha] is openly used by local governors who were directly involved in the decision-making process to exterminate the Armenians. Akçam will also introduce a letter dated March 3, 1915, written by Bahaettin Şakir, the head of Teşkilat-ı Mahsusa (aka the Special Organization) and one of the main architects of the Armenian Genocide. This letter conveys that the Central Committee of Union and Progress had already decided to exterminate the Armenians, giving the government wide authority to implement this plan. The scholarly world has long ignored or declined to cite this letter due to allegations that it was fake. Drawing on newly available documents, Akçam will show the authenticity of this letter and argue that the question of the decision(s) for the extermination of Armenians and the role of governors should be revisited.