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Map of Armenia from the CIA World Factbook.

The gradual loss of territory through out the Ottoman Empire was accomplished through a combination of acts of secession and gradual takeover by competing powers.  The Ittihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti (Young Turks) or Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) partnered with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) against the Sultan Abdülhamid II’s regime.  One faction of the Young Turks was willing to cooperate with the empire’s minorities in order to gain autonomy. While the other faction of the Young Turks believed that reforms would be a form of imperialism.  The ARF created an uneasy alliance with the Young Turks, hoping that the faction that favored autonomy would gain power.  The Young Turk Revolution in 1908 resulted in the eventual overthrow of Sultan Abdülhamid II and re-establishment of the constitution. In 1909 there was an attempted counter coups, which led to the Cilician and Adana Massacres.

The Young Turks had an increasingly negative view towards Christians, and subsequently Armenians, due to the continual loss of territory by Christian powers, especially after the Balkan Wars from 1912-1913. This increased resentment and violence towards Christians living in the Empire. With the Armenian Reform Agreement of 1914, the Armenians, with help from Russia, created an agreement with the Ottoman Empire to secede Anatolia to the Armenians so they could create their own state. The Ottoman government had no intention of giving Anatolia to the Armenians and instead signed a secret agreement with Germany on August 2, 1914. Later on in the year, they would side with the Germans in World War I and the reform agreement would never be implemented.

            On April 19, 1915, the Siege of Van occurred and the start of the Armenian Genocide began. From then on, Armenian intellectuals were deported on April 24, 1915 and the Ottoman Empire established Tehcir Law on May 27, 1915. Armenian citizens were forcibly deported from their homes and all their belongings were confiscated by the Ottoman Empire. These were the Death Marches, and thousands of Armenians died during the deportations. They were denied food, water, and there are documentations of rape and murder, and massacres.

      The Treaty of Versailles legally ended World War I on July 28, 1919. In 1918, the Ottoman Empire was partitioned off after World War I.  The Democratic Republic of Armenia was established on May 29, 1918.  On August 10, 1920, the Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of Sèvres with the Allied forces.  This treaty enforced the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire and allowed the Allies the right to establish a criminal court to charge those responsible for war offences and the Armenian deportations the process was slow in part due to boundary disputes. Because of this slow process, the Allied Forces grew impatient with the Ottoman government’s lack of cooperation in persecuting the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide. In addition the Turkish Military Tribunals from 1919 to 1920 also failed to impose legal punishment on members off the Young Turk’s who had participated in the Armenian Genocide. With the breakout of the Turkish War for Independence, the Treaty of Sèvres became ineffective. The Treaty of Lausanne, which was signed on July 24, 1923, signaled the end to the Armenian Genocide, as well as the Turkish War for Independence. The signing of the treaty also ended the Armenians desire to include Anatolia and Cilicia into the Democratic Republic of Armenia.

Recommended Resources

Antranik Enkababian Armenian Survivor  
Souren Aprahamian Armenian Survivor  
Nazar Melkonian Armenian Survivor  
Mary Enkababian Wife and Daughter of Armenian Survivors  


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