This article by Robert Frisk appeared in 12 March’s Independent newspaper
One of the world’s biggest picture agencies, Hulton Getty, has withdrawn three photographs of the 1915 Armenian Holocaust from its website after complaints from the Turkish embassy in London.
The pictures were taken by Armin Theophil Wegner, a German lawyer and poet who worked with the German Army’s Sanitary Corps in the First World War. They showed Armenian victims of the genocide, which inspired Hitler to murder six million Jews in Europe a quarter of a century later.
The Turkish embassy objected to a caption on one of the pictures – of a dead woman and two children, used in The Independent – on the basis that they had starved to death in 1915, and therefore could not have been “massacred” by Ottoman Turkish forces.
According to a Hulton official, the pictures were “withdrawn” routinely after the complaint and – although the dead bodies were clearly the result of the Armenian Holocaust – remained withdrawn after the copyright was found to belong to a German organisation holding Wegner’s Armenian pictures.
As part of its campaign to deny the Armenian Holocaust, Turkey has offered to fund chairs of Ottoman Studies in US universities. The offer was turned down by Harvard, but Princeton’s Chair of Ottoman Studies, held by Professor Heath Lowry, has produced work denying the genocide.
Turkey’s threats of economic boycotts are thought to lie behind the British Government’s initial refusal to honour the Armenians in January’s Holocaust Memorial Day. In the end, a mere 20 Armenians – including one Armenian Holocaust survivor – were invited.