Day 20 of 30 Days of Testimony: Ara Sanjian on the testimony of Wolfdieter Bihl

Wolf Dieter Bihl is a famous Austrian historian, with a number of published works on Austria-Hungary and the First World War. In this clip, he is touching upon two important issues pertaining to the history of the Armenian Genocide. The first is his assertion that representatives of the allies of the Ottoman Empire during the war, i.e. that other Central Powers, and Germany and Austria-Hungary in particular, reported extensively in their internal, confidential correspondence that what the Young Turk government was up to was actually a determined attempt to exterminate the Armenian race. Secondly, he adds that Germany and Austria-Hungary exercised very limited pressure on their Ottoman allies so as to force the latter to abandon their murderous policies. The reason, says Bihl, were the military, economic and strategic connections Germany and Austria-Hungary had with the Ottomans. Realizing that the extermination of Armenians was a high priority for the wartime Ottoman government, both Germany and Austria-Hungary were not prepared to anger the Ottomans to the extent that the latter might abandon their wartime alliance. The Germans and Austro-Hungarians also reasoned that the Ottoman ministers, Enver and Talât, two of the chief architects of the Armenian Genocide, were at the same time the only ‘true friends’ of Germany and Austria-Hungary in the upper echelons of the Ottoman political hierarchy. Therefore, the German and Austro-Hungarian intervention with the Ottoman authorities was confined to raising the issue mildly during internal discussions and to assisting in some of the relief efforts of that period.

Author: Ara Sanjian is Associate Professor of Armenian and Modern Middle Eastern History and the Director of the Armenian Research Center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

For a select bibliography (up to the year 2011) on the German involvement in the Armenian Genocide, see: <>. See also Wolfgang Gust, The Armenian Genocide: Evidences from the German Foreign Office Archives (2014). The Armenia-related Austrian documentation of the period 1872-1936 was published in twelve volumes in 1995 by Artem Ohandjanian. He also the author of 1915: Irrefutable Evidence: The Austrian Documents on the Armenian Genocide (2004).