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Vahakn Dadrian

Vahakn N. Dadrian (; born May 26, 1926 in Istanbul),[1] is a professor of sociology, historian and an internationally-renowned expert on the Armenian genocide.[2] He is one of the early scholars of the academic study of genocide and recognized as one of the key thinkers on the holocaust and genocide.[3]



Vahakn Norair Dadrian was born in 1926 in Turkey, to a family that had many members killed by the Ottoman Turks during the Armenian Genocide.[4] Dadrian first studied mathematics at the University of Berlin, after which he decided to switch to a completely different field, and studied history at the University of Vienna, and later, international law at the University of Z rich. He completed his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago.

He was awarded an honorary doctorate degree for his research in the field of Armenian Genocide Studies by the Armenian National Academy of Sciences, and later, in 1998, he was made a member of the Academy and honored by the President of Armenia, the republic's highest cultural award, the Khorenatzi medal. In 1999, Dadrian was awarded on behalf of the Holy See of Cilicia the Mesrob Mashdots Medal.[5] The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation sponsored him as director of a large Genocide study project, which culminated with the publication of articles, mainly in the Holocaust and Genocide studies magazines. He was the keynote speaker at the centennial of the John Marshall Law School and delivered a lecture to the British House of Commons in 1995. He also received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.[6] Currently he is the director of Genocide Research at Zoryan Institute.

In 1991, Dadrian was dismissed from State University College at Geneseo for sexual harassment after a female student had complained he had kissed her on the lips. In 1981, a college arbitrator had found him guilty of four charges of sexual harassment, but had allowed him to return to work because the arbitrator believed they were "singular events that would not happen again."[7]

Academic research

The particularity of Dadrian's research is that by mastering many languages, including German, English, French, Turkish, Ottoman Turkish and Armenian; he has researched archives of different countries, and extensively studied materials in various languages in a way that very few, if anyone has done before him. One of Dadrian's major researches is the volume titled The History of the Armenian Genocide which had seven printings and appeared in numerous languages. In this book Dadrian described the background, initiation and unfolding of the genocide, and placed it within a conceptual framework of genocide theory.[8] Roger W. Smith praiced it as a "rare work, over 20 years in the making, that is at once fascinating to read, comprehensive in scope, and unsurpassed in the documentation of the events it describes."[9] According to William Schabas, the president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, "Dadrian s historical research on the Armenian Genocide is informed by a rich grasp of the legal issues", and "his contribution both to historical and legal scholarship is enormous."[10]

A specialist on the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23, his many contributions to the investigation of that event, through multilingual original research in a number of archival collections throughout the world, has stamped him as one of foremost thinkers on the nature of the Armenian Genocide and how it was carried out. Paul R. Bartrop and Steven L. Jacobs, Fifty Key Thinkers on the Holocaust and Genocide, p. 79

Dadrian's latest project is the translation of the Turkish Courts-Martial of 1919-20 from Ottoman Turkish to English.

Dadrian and the denial of Armenian Genocide

According to David Bruce MacDonald, Dadrian is a "towering figure in the field of Armenian genocide history".[11] Taner Akcam writes that by employing Justin McCarthy's own method of calculating population figures and classifying individuals, Vahakn Dadrian has shown the ridiculousness of the claim that "the events of 1915 were in fact a civil war between the Armenians and Turks".[12] German Swiss scholar Hans-Lukas Kieser writes that the documents related to fifteen Turkish ministers published by V. Dadrian show best the ministers' conception of their responsibility in the "abuses" committed against Ottoman Armenians.[13]

One of the main critics of Dadrian is Guenter Lewy, who was criticized for the denial of Armenian Genocide by many scholars.[14][15][16] In a response to critics equating Lewy's position on the Armenian genocide "with that of the Holocaust-denier David Irving", he accuses Dadrian of being "guilty of willful mistranslations, selective quotations, and other serious violations of scholarly ethics."[17] In his book, Guenter Lewy mentions, among others, V. N. Dadrian's defense of the authenticity of the book published by Mevlanzade Rifat, and of the "Ten Commandments", V. N. Dadrian's allegations against Turkish sociologist Ziya G kalp, the use of Jean Naslian's Memoirs praising of Turkish court-martial of 1919-1920, and misleading references to writings of Esref Kuscubasi Bey and German General Felix Guse.[18] Similarly, Malcolm E. Yapp, professor emeritus at London University, estimates that V. Dadrian's method "is not that of an historian trying to find out what happened and why but that of a lawyer assembling the case for the prosecution in an adversarial system";[19] Mary Schaeffer Conroy, professor of Russian history at Colorado University, Denver, criticizes V. N. Dadrian's inaccuracies, selective use of sources and failure to use Turkish archives, then concludes: "This book is more a work of journalism than solid history and is not recommended".[20]

Hilmar Kaiser said that "serious scholars should be cautioned against accepting all of Dadrian's statements at face value", because his frequent "misleading quotations" and the "selective use of sources".[21] Donald Bloxham expresses a similar view: the accusations leveled by V. Dadrian "are often simply unfounded"; especially, "the idea of a German role in the formation of genocidal policy [...] has no basis in the available documentation";[22] and if V. Dadrian supports the authenticity of the so-called "Ten Commandments", on the other hand, "Most serious historians accept that this document is dubious at best, and probably a fake. It was the subject of controversy some twenty years before Dadrian rediscovered it for publication in 1993. The document's donor originally offered it for sale to the British authorities in February 1919, a time when numerous fraudulent documents were in circulation. Reference to this supposed 'smoking gun' is tellingly absent in the best recent scholarship on the development of the genocide by the likes of Hans-Lukas Kieser, Hilmar Kaiser, Taner Akcam, Halil Berktay and Ronald Suny."[23]


  • Autopsie du G nocide Arm nien. Trans. Marc & Mika l Nichanian. Brussels: ditions Complexe, 1995, 266p.
  • Haykakan Tsekhaspanut`iune Khorhtaranayin ev Patmagitakan Knnarkumnerov (The treatment of the Ottoman genocide by the Ottoman parliament and its historical analysis). Watertown, MA: Baikar, 1995, 147p.
  • Jenosid Ulusal ve Uluslararasi Hukuk Sorunu Olarak: 1915 Ermeni Olay ve Hukuki Sonu lar [Genocide as a problem of national and international law: The World War I Armenian case and its contemporary legal ramifications]. Trans. Yavuz Alogan. Istanbul: Belge Uluslararas Yaynclk, 1995, 221p.
  • The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus. Providence, RI & Oxford: Berghahn Books, 1995, 452p.
  • German Responsibility in the Armenian Genocide: A Review of the Historical Evidence of German Complicity. Watertown, MA: Blue Crane Books, 1996, 304p.
  • Histoire du g nocide arm nien: Conflits nationaux des Balkans au Caucase. Traduit de l'anglais par Marc Nichanian. Paris: Stock, 1996, 694p.
  • The Key Elements in the Turkish Denial of the Armenian Genocide: A Case Study of Distortion and Falsification. Cambridge, MA and Toronto: Zoryan Institute, 1999, 84p.
  • Warrant for Genocide: Key Elements of Turko-Armenian Conflict. New Brunswick and London: Transaction Publishers, 1999, 214p.
  • Los elementos clave en el negacionismo Turco del Genocidio Armenia: un estudio de distorsi n y falsificaci n. Translated by Eduardo A. Karsaclian. Buenos Aires: Fundaci n Armenia, 2002, 79p.
  • Historia Tis Armenikan Genoktonias [History of the Armenian Genocide]. Athens: Stokhastis, 2002, 685p.
  • Historia del Genocidio Armenio. Conflictos tnicos de los Balcanes a Anatolia y al C ucaso. Translated by Eduardo A. Karsaclian. Buenos Aires: Imago Mundi, 2008, 434p.


  1. Britannica, Istanbul:When the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923, the capital was moved to Ankara, and Constantinople was officially renamed Istanbul in 1930.
  2. A Lecture on The Armenian Genocide, Professor Stuart D. Stein.
  3. Fifty Key Thinkers on the Holocaust and Genocide, by Paul Robert Bartrop, Steven L. Jacobs, Taylor & Francis, 2010, p. 79
  4. Fifty Key Thinkers on the Holocaust and Genocide, by Paul Robert Bartrop, Steven L. Jacobs, Taylor & Francis, 15.11.2010, p. 79
  5. Dadrian Awarded "St. Mesrob Mashdots" Medal. Retrieved October 07, 2011
  6. Fifty Key Thinkers on the Holocaust and Genocide, by Paul Robert Bartrop, Steven L. Jacobs, Taylor & Francis, 15.11.2010, p. 79
  7. Fifty Key Thinkers on the Holocaust and Genocide, by Paul Robert Bartrop, Steven L. Jacobs, Taylor & Francis, 15.11.2010, p. 82
  8. Dadrian's CV, Zoryan Institute
  9. No Stopping Now: Dadrian Celebrates 85th Birthday, Armenian Weekly, 2011
  10. Identity Politics in the Age of Genocide: The Holocaust and Historical Representation. David Bruce MacDonald, Routledge, 2008, p. 127
  11. The Young Turks' Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire. Taner Ak am, Princeton University Press, 2012, p. 166
  12. Turkey Beyond Nationalism: Towards Post-Nationalist Identities, Hans-Lukas Kieser, 2006, p. 113
  13. MacDonald, David B. Identity Politics in the Age of Genocide: The Holocaust and Historical Representation. London: Routledge, 2008, p. 139. ISBN 0-415-43061-5.
  14. Guenter Lewy, The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey, Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2005, pp. 43-89, 93-94, 280, 282.
  15. Macolm E. Yapp, "Review of The History of the Armenian Genocide, by V. N. Dadrian", Middle Eastern Studies, 32 (1996), p. 397
  16. Mary Schaeffer Conroy, "Review of Vahakn N. Dadrian, Warrant for Genocide: Key Elements of Turko-Armenian Conflict", The Social Science Journal, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 481-483.
    A few typos and small factual errors, such as the implication that Russian-Ottoman relations were always adversarial in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, mar the book. However, the most egregious flaws in this book are its polemical tone, its sketchiness, and its failure to use Turkish archival sources. Therefore, while the book delivers intriguing insights into Ottoman-Kurdish relations and the views of individual Turkish statesmen regarding Armenians, and while it suggests convincing theories for Turkish massacres of Armenians, it does not convincingly document these theories. It is thus unsatisfying as a whole. This book is more a work of journalism than solid history and is not recommended.
  17. Hilmar Kaiser, "Germany and the Armenian Genocide, Part II: Reply to Vahakn N. Dadrian's Response," Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies, 9 (1996), pp. 139-40.
  18. "Power, Politics, Prejudice, Protest and Propaganda", in Hans-Lukas Kieser and Dominik J. Schaller (ed.), Der V lkermord and den Armeniern, Zurich: Chronos, 2002, p. 234.
  19. "Donald Bloxham replies", History Today, July 2005, Vol. 55, Issue 7.

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