What Happened to 1.5 Million Armenian Christians?

 

Between 1915 and the early 1920’s, the word genocide entered the English language. It was orchestrated by the Turkish government to expel Christians from their country by any means necessary. When it ended, 1.5 million Armenian Christians were dead and many more deported. Has the government of Turkey ever acknowledged this period of history or apologized? Far from it. It is still illegal to talk about or even acknowledge the extent of this atrocity in Turkey today.

In the 1940s, MGM wanted to make a movie about it starring Clark Gable. They were threatened by the Turkish government and the movie was never made. Yet history and truth have a way of resurfacing.

The rumor is that a wealthy Armenian left over a million dollars in his will, asking that it be used to make the movie that the Turkish government wanted suppressed. He got his wish.

The movie is called The Promise, starring Christian Bale. Supposedly, there has been a lot of hate mail on social media, trying to keep the ratings down and the discussion to a minimum.

Is there a way to educate the youth who don’t know history? Take them to the movies.

I haven’t seen it yet, but plan to. Let’s have our own movie review.

There are 29 comments.

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  1. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    I guess I know what the family Friday movie is going to me!

    • #1
  2. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    God, that’s powerful. I don’t know if I bear watching it, even if it’s brilliantly made. There’s a lesson there. Don’t trust the Turks, especially if they revert to their less secular ways.

    • #2
  3. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    It’s definitely on my list.

    • #3
  4. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Manny (View Comment):
    God, that’s powerful. I don’t know if I bear watching it, even if it’s brilliantly made. There’s a lesson there. Don’t trust the Turks, especially if they revert to their less secular ways.

    Manny – My husband has a hard time watching anything like that as well – especially in terms of the Holocaust. I want to buy a ticket to honor this man’s wishes that the story be told about his people. The recent story of the French priest who, by modern methods, just recently found the burial grounds of thousands of massacred Ukrainians covered up by Russia says not to know history, we are doomed to keep repeating the patterns. There were first person accounts in his interviews on 60 Minutes Extra, but that generation is dying off. Who will be left to tell their stories? Sometimes I have to literally close my eyes when watching things like that.

    • #4
  5. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):
    God, that’s powerful. I don’t know if I bear watching it, even if it’s brilliantly made. There’s a lesson there. Don’t trust the Turks, especially if they revert to their less secular ways.

    Manny – My husband has a hard time watching anything like that as well – especially in terms of the Holocaust. I want to buy a ticket to honor this man’s wishes that the story be told about his people. The recent story of the French priest who, by modern methods, just recently found the burial grounds of thousands of massacred Ukrainians covered up by Russia says not to know history, we are doomed to keep repeating the patterns. There were first person accounts in his interviews on 60 Minutes Extra, but that generation is dying off. Who will be left to tell their stories? Sometimes I have to literally close my eyes when watching things like that.

    I will probably buy that ticket too. Thanks for posting it.

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Thank you, FSC. This looks like another “rip-my-heart-out” movie, and one I must see. I had to swear off holocaust films for a while–they were too much to bear. But it’s time to step up once again.

    • #6
  7. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    FSC,

    First, any movie made that is actually on a serious subject that hasn’t been done 20 times is immediately at the top of the list. Second, this is a very serious movie. The 20th century with all its claims to technical wonders also is the century of genocide. The term genocide was coined specifically over the Armenian/Turkish event. As the Turks have yet to even acknowledge that this event took place we may actually be seeing a movie that has a direct effect on the politics of the world.

    Claire needs to go to see this movie and write a review.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #7
  8. Curt North Inactive
    Curt North
    @CurtNorth

    This is an important movie, history must NOT be white-washed.

    We need to encourage friends and family to go, buy tickets, see this movie.

    • #8
  9. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    This movie is so important–it may be the only justice the victims ever receive.

    • #9
  10. Jeffery Shepherd Inactive
    Jeffery Shepherd
    @JefferyShepherd

    I saw it. Probably a little long but it was a good movie. I knew most of the Armenian story but my date did not and was impressed (or at least I think she was) that I filled in the gaps:)

    • #10
  11. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    Glad to hear a review from @jefferyshepherd. Was it fairly accurate then?

    • #11
  12. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    MarciN (View Comment):
    This movie is so important–it may be the only justice the victims ever receive.

    Agree Marci – I was not familiar with this until the movie came out.

    • #12
  13. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Thank you, FSC. This looks like another “rip-my-heart-out” movie, and one I must see. I had to swear off holocaust films for a while–they were too much to bear. But it’s time to step up once again.

    I’m the same way. I saw a documentary on Turner Classic Movies about all the famous Jewish actors and actresses, musicians, film directors, so much talent that fled Europe and became employed here. Billy Wilder was one and I figured if they can tell the stories of history after living through it, I can take it. But I saw a comment where Christian Bale said during the filming at one point, they all had to pause because they were so overwhelmed with emotion. I’ll just take a purse full of Kleenex….. So where is all the news coverage of the Christian ethnic cleansing happening today?

    • #13
  14. Dorrk Inactive
    Dorrk
    @Dorrk

    Here’s a positive but not glowing review from BBC’s Mark Kermode:

    • #14
  15. Jeffery Shepherd Inactive
    Jeffery Shepherd
    @JefferyShepherd

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Glad to hear a review from @jefferyshepherd. Was it fairly accurate then?

    Yes I think it was pretty accurate. Killings, deportation, resistance, etc. Example question from my date: “Who is who and what’s that hat.” Me: “The hat is called a Fez and the Muslim’s are wearing the hats and the Armenian Christians are not.” In the movie you’ll see German generals meddling, a reference to the Turks pushing the English back into the sea (Gallipoli), Turk gov’t admitting to relocation but not genocide, etc …

    My date thought it was a sappy romance movie she was dragging me to. It was much more a historical drama than sappy romance. But, there was some sappy romance. And, it was a little too long, but, in my view, worth seeing.

    • #15
  16. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):
    This movie is so important–it may be the only justice the victims ever receive.

    Agree Marci – I was not familiar with this until the movie came out.

    I’d heard a little about it because years ago in my airline job, I worked with a travel agent coordinating a group to Erevan. The brochure talked a little about the genocide and never forgetting etc. It was all a distant rumor to me.

    • #16
  17. King Banaian Contributor
    King Banaian
    @KingBanaian

    Let me add a word of praise for this movie. For many years there’s been a desire to make a movie out of the novel The Forty Days of Musa Dagh. Kirk Kerkorian, the late billionaire of Armenian heritage, created a trust to make The Promise, based on the novel. The film takes substantial liberties with the book but the last third is fairly loyal to the text. Being half-Armenian it’s been my sworn duty to get as many people to go as I can, but I would even if not since I also greatly admire Terry George as a director. The script gets a B+, but the cinematography gets an A. And he made Christian Bale acceptable to me with a climactic scene that I didn’t think the actor had in him.

    I live in a moderate-sized city with a single multiplex theater; the movie played in the evenings for only one week, now only playing in the daytime. I’ll be surprised if it plays at all this weekend. There is still pressure to get this off the screen and out of memory. So please go see it, tell your friends to, and if you live outside of a top-50 metro please thank your movie theater for showing it and ask them to keep it running another week or two. Nothing would honor the 1.5 million dead more this week.

    • #17
  18. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    King Banaian (View Comment):
    Let me add a word of praise for this movie. For many years there’s been a desire to make a movie out of the novel The Forty Days of Musa Dagh. Kirk Kerkorian, the late billionaire of Armenian heritage, created a trust to make The Promise, based on the novel. The film takes substantial liberties with the book but the last third is fairly loyal to the text. Being half-Armenian it’s been my sworn duty to get as many people to go as I can, but I would even if not since I also greatly admire Terry George as a director. The script gets a B+, but the cinematography gets an A. And he made Christian Bale acceptable to me with a climactic scene that I didn’t think the actor had in him.

    I live in a moderate-sized city with a single multiplex theater; the movie played in the evenings for only one week, now only playing in the daytime. I’ll be surprised if it plays at all this weekend. There is still pressure to get this off the screen and out of memory. So please go see it, tell your friends to, and if you live outside of a top-50 metro please thank your movie theater for showing it and ask them to keep it running another week or two. Nothing would honor the 1.5 million dead more this week.

    Your comment made me well up with tears. I hope the word gets out and they are overwhelmed this week and weekend, and beyond with movie patrons. Thank you.

    • #18
  19. Little My Member
    Little My
    @LittleMy

    Franz Werfel’s book, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh was an inspiration also for the Jews who fought in Warsaw and other ghettos and with the partisans in the forests of Eastern Europe. The book was in constant circulation among the Jewish fighters. (Werfel and his wife, by the way, fled Europe, stopping in Lourdes for awhile. In gratitude for the help of the people of that town, he wrote The Song of Bernadette).

    When I worked for the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies, we published articles by Vahakn Dadrian about the Armenian genocide and the complicity of Turkey’s German allies in the massacres. Dadrian found many primary documents that few others know about.

    This year, the government of Israel also sent representatives for the April 24 memorial day — in the past, the Israeli government was reluctant to do so officially because of Turkish pressure — despite the fact that many of the Armenians who did manage to leave Turkey came to Israel, and form one of the most important minorities here, with a major seminary for the Armenian Orthodox priesthood, as well as an Armenian Catholic community. When Turkey was more of a necessary ally for Israel, this was perhaps understandable, but I always found it shameful.

    I hope I have a chance to see this new film.

    • #19
  20. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Little My (View Comment):
    Franz Werfel’s book, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh was an inspiration also for the Jews who fought in Warsaw and other ghettos and with the partisans in the forests of Eastern Europe. The book was in constant circulation among the Jewish fighters. (Werfel and his wife, by the way, fled Europe, stopping in Lourdes for awhile. In gratitude for the help of the people of that town, he wrote The Song of Bernadette).

    When I worked for the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies, we published articles by Vahakn Dadrian about the Armenian genocide and the complicity of Turkey’s German allies in the massacres. Dadrian found many primary documents that few others know about.

    This year, the government of Israel also sent representatives for the April 24 memorial day — in the past, the Israeli government was reluctant to do so officially because of Turkish pressure — despite the fact that many of the Armenians who did manage to leave Turkey came to Israel, and form one of the most important minorities here, with a major seminary for the Armenian Orthodox priesthood, as well as an Armenian Catholic community. When Turkey was more of a necessary ally for Israel, this was perhaps understandable, but I always found it shameful.

    I hope I have a chance to see this new film.

    That is very good historical information and puts this film into perspective – thanks for sharing it – that book might be worth reading as well – have you read it?

    • #20
  21. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    I wonder if anyone will make a movie about what the Turks did and are doing in northern Cyprus.

    • #21
  22. King Banaian Contributor
    King Banaian
    @KingBanaian

    Little My (View Comment):
    When I worked for the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies, we published articles by Vahakn Dadrian about the Armenian genocide and the complicity of Turkey’s German allies in the massacres. Dadrian found many primary documents that few others know about.

    I had the great pleasure of meeting Dadrian here in Minnesota some years ago. His discovery of German diplomatic records was vital to combating false claims about the genocide. The German documents are important since Germany and Turkey were allies in WW1. There was no reason for the Germans to exaggerate claims about the genocide; if anything, they would have downplayed them. Wolfgang Gust later edited a book that included his own analysis of the German diplomatic papers of 1915-16, in which he concludes the Germans knew it was a genocide and not self-defense as Turkey has claimed.

    • #22
  23. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    I took the time to see this movie purely because of this thread. I had to go in the afternoon because it isn’t showing at night anywhere near me, and today appears to be the very last day I could see it at all. There were 9 of us in the theatre. But all of us appeared impacted. I am glad I saw it. Thank you.

    • #23
  24. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    I took the time to see this movie purely because of this thread. I had to go in the afternoon because it isn’t showing at night anywhere near me, and today appears to be the very last day I could see it at all. There were 9 of us in the theatre. But all of us appeared impacted. I am glad I saw it. Thank you.

    Wow Lois! Thank you for seeing the movie. I hope to see it this weekend too. It’s weird, very weird, given the caliber of people in it, that it is going away fast. There is very little promotion on TV about it.

    • #24
  25. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    This is from my friend in New England – I didn’t know this story until now. I reprint with their permission:

    W said it would be ok to tell the story but I still have to get more details about it. His ex-wife’s family was massacred in the Armenian genocide. Her father had a twin brother, a sister, another brother and I think a few more siblings. He wasn’t sure of the total count. The one thing he did retell this morning was that her father’s twin was shot in the head with an arrow and her father witnessed that. I asked if most of the family had been killed and he said he thought so. Her father made it to Greece where he lived in an orphanage. At some point he went to Cairo (I can probably find out more about that). I’m not sure if he was the official photographer to the king. This morning W said he was a “renowned” photographer in Cairo. One night they got him out of bed to take photos of someone….king or perhaps a sultan. W wasn’t sure. The father, a sister and a brother did come to the US finally, settling in Boston and the dad worked at a photography studio in Boston.”

    • #25
  26. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    I cannot find this movie playing locally in my area anywhere!! This is incredible. I found this website and scrolling through the comments, someone in Pasadena, CA, who has a large Armenian population, cannot find it either? Is it playing in your area?

    http://armenianweekly.com/2017/04/14/the-promise-in-theaters-near-you/

    • #26
  27. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    So if you are a movie distributor and you have business ties to Turkey, you won’t distribute?

    http://variety.com/2016/film/news/promise-film-armenian-genocide-1201892838/

    • #27
  28. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    I saw it on the last day that it was available anywhere around me.

    • #28
  29. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Update: Please see my latest post on the censorship of this movie and give your thoughts. It is not showing here anywhere.

    http://ricochet.com/427659/the-epic-new-movie-the-promise-is-being-censored/

    • #29

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