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Armenian Genocide--Henry Morgenthau

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

ARMENIAN GENOCIDE--HENRY MORGENTHAU -- (House of Representatives - July 11, 2007)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pallone) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, the Armenian genocide that was orchestrated by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1918 is an irrefutable fact. Looking at the history of this catastrophic event, it is impossible to deny that this was genocide on all accounts.

Now, one way to bear witness to the truth is to make reference to firsthand accounts which were made at the time that the Armenian genocide occurred. Henry Morgenthau served with dignity as U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913 to 1916. In the wake of surging nationalism in Turkey and alarmed at reports of the Armenian genocide, he repeatedly appealed to the U.S. Government to intervene, without success. Morgenthau addressed the genocide of the Armenians in a 1915 dispatch to the State Department in which he warned that ``a campaign of race extermination is in progress.''

He then appealed to Ottoman rulers, also without result, and finally, he published his opinions in his 1918 book of memoirs, ``Ambassador Morgenthau's Story,'' which documented his experiences while in Turkey, including his vivid views of the Armenian genocide.

Morgenthau wrote, ``When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to the whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact. I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no terrible episode as this.''

In one of his addresses, Morgenthau commented on the U.S. efforts during the Armenian genocide. ``If America is to condone these offenses, if she is going to permit to continue conditions that threaten and permit their repetition, she is party to the crime. These people must be freed from the agony and danger of such horrors. They must not only be saved for the present but they must be given assurance that they will be free in peace and that no harm can come to them.''

At great personal risk and sacrifice, Ambassador Morgenthau chose to intervene on behalf of the Armenians and even managed to help rescue an unknown number of Armenians. Of course, in the end, his efforts were unsuccessful. Drained by his efforts to avert this disaster, Morgenthau returned to the United States in 1916 and, for the remainder of World War I, dedicated himself to raising funds for the surviving Armenians. He is considered a hero in Armenia and an American man of courage and character.

Mr. Speaker, if America is going to live up to the standards we have set for ourselves and continue to lead the world in affirming human rights everywhere, we need to follow Ambassador Morgenthau's example. We must stand up and recognize the tragic events that began in 1915 for what they were, the systematic elimination of a people. By recognizing these actions as genocide, we can renew our commitment to prevent such atrocities from occurring again.

I'm here this evening because I want to give a firsthand account that the Armenian genocide occurred. I wish to express my support for swift passage of H. Res. 106, which reaffirms the Armenian genocide. We now have a majority of the House of Representatives, both Democrats and Republicans, as cosponsors of this bill. It's time that it was brought to floor. As the first genocide of the 20th century, it is morally imperative that we remember this atrocity and collectively demand reaffirmation of this crime against humanity.

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