Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust

Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust



In the current society, human rights have been put in place to protect the rightful existence of every individual and communities, but this has not erased the historical past where some ethnic groups and entire communities have faced annihilation. The purpose of this essay is to explore the development of anti-Semitism which led to the holocaust affecting the European Jews.  A comparison between events of the Jews in Europe and the Armenian genocide in the 20th century is given.

Anti-Semitism was deeply rooted in the European culture and this led to the Holocaust.  The Holocaust of the Jews and the Armenian genocide are some of the most scandalous genocides of the twentieth century basing from their comparisons in literature.

Development of Anti-Semitism leading to the Holocaust

Although the full-blown consequences of Anti-Semitism were witnessed during the Holocaust in the 20th century, attitudes of hatred and discrimination against the Jews were established from long ago. As a religious group, the Jews either intimidated or threatened other cultural groups such as Christians in the middle Ages and Muslims who respectively disliked the fact that Jews did not honor the Christian god, and that they were a chosen protected class according to religious beliefs (Beller, 2007). However, it is the racial anti-Semitism developed during the Enlightenment era in Europe, fuelled by political, social, and economic factors of ethnic groups in the region that laid the ground for the Holocaust.

Generally, Jewish were underdogs in the European society and were excluded in many different ways for years. In Venice Germany, they were confined in ghettos during the early 16th Century where they could live and conduct their daily activities. Nevertheless, some countries in central and western Europe, and depending on political powers on power, allowed Jews to become part of the modern society during the 19th century thus emancipating the Jews (Beller, 2007).

The Jews became influential wherever they lived contributing greatly to politics, arts, sciences and economics (Beller, 2007). However, other societies still resented them. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, they promoted the already established idea that Northern Europe descendants of the Aryan race were much superior to the Semite, yet they were being held back by the latter.

Under the rule of Adolf Hitler, several explicit Anti-Semitic policies were established including forbidding marital relations between Jews and non-Jews (Mazian, 1990). The Nazis invaded neighboring European countries seeking to draw from the evident anti-Semitism in the local communities. Hitler called the Jews an evil race and sub-humans who deserved to be eliminated from the society thus encouraging mass violence against the Jews.  The Nazi regime sanctioned the killing of Jews on November 10, 1938 under the Kristallnacht (Beller, 2007). On January 1942 a decision was reached to exterminate the Jews as a permanent solution to the Jew problem and this was done in gas chambers located in Poland where over half the total population of the European Jews was killed.

Comparison and Contrast of the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide

The Armenian genocide and the Holocaust are indistinguishable because they both involved a large number of deaths of people from targeted ethnic and religious communities (Jones, 2013). The Jews were the victims in the Holocaust while Armenians were the victims in the Armenian genocide. The two incidents resulted to deaths of over thirteen million people in Europe, which is beyond the number of half of the deaths from World War 1.  However, more deaths resulted from the Holocaust in which not less than six million European Jews were killed while the Armenian genocide wiped off about 1.5 million Armenians from the Ottoman Empire (Mazian, 1990).

In the case of the Jews, Anti-Semitism and Nazism provided the ideal platform for the Holocaust by establishing laws that were discriminatory against the Jews. The Holocaust was a planned, intentional, and organized crime perpetrated by the Conference because of viewing Jews as an inferior race (Mazian, 1990). On the other hand, the Armenians were a small marginalized population but it is unlikely that anti-cultural attitudes promoted the genocide as the Sultan had sanctioned reforms in 1856 to ensure equality in the legal and social system of the Ottoman Empire (Mazian, 1990).

Both the Holocaust and Armenian genocides were initiated by their governments or those in power at the time (Jones, 2013). Whereas the Jews were defenseless civilians experiencing oppression from the powerful arm of the Nazi government, the Armenians established revolutionary organizations and conducted activities that terrorized both Muslim and non-Muslim groups. Their support with Russians who were hostile of the Ottomans in World War 1 forced the government to relocate Armenians where most of them lost their lives through massacres and death marches (Jones, 2013), which up to today , the genocide intent is debatable.

The Holocaust is well-documented as compared to the Armenian genocide where several conflicting scenarios are assumed by authors.


This has been a research into the development of anti-Semitism and a comparison between the Jewish Holocaust and the Armenian genocide during the twentieth century. It is found that both events led to massive destruction of lives targeted at specific cultural groups.  The holocaust is more profound, well documented, and fuelled by anti-Semitism and Nazism, while the Armenian genocide was an act of the Ottoman government to annihilate a marginalized population that allied with its enemies.



Beller, B. (2007) Antisemitism: A very short introduction. Oxford University Press

Jones, A. (2013). Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction. New York: Routledge

Mazian, F. (1990). Why genocide? The Armenian and Jewish experiences in perspective.   Ames: Iowa State University Press

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