1588) Vahakn Dadrian's Shoddy Scholarship Under Fire

Hilmar Kaiser... has drawn attention to "misleading quotations" and the "selective use of sources" in Dadrian's work, and he has concluded that "serious scholars should be cautioned against accepting all of Dadrian's statements at face value."[10] I concur in this judgment.

Guenter Lewy. Letters, The Middle East Quarterly; [10] 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): 139-40.

Since so many scholars have chosen to sacrifice their credibility by accepting Vahakn Dadrian's vicious propaganda at face value (such as Erik-Jan Zürcher, Robert Jay Lifton, and too many others), it is only just to highlight truer intellectuals who know a con job when they see it.

From time to time, I have run into reports of reviewers calling Dadrian on his shoddy scholarship. For example, an Armenian site reported an article appeared in the German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in 1997-98, written by Nachum Orland, reviewing Dadrian's German Responsibility in the Armenian Genocide: A Review of the Historical Evidence of German Complicity. The Armenian report claimed:

"After discussing the sources, purposes, and details of the book, Orland concluded that Dadrian’s argument about German responsibility in the genocide lacked logic, while noting that the topic of Germans and the Armenian Genocide had its appeal."

These are the kinds of reports that wlll be featured on this page. (Note what follows are mainly from "Armenian genocide" believers, so they are not necessarily real scholars either; but at least they have some standards.) If readers run into Western critiques of Dadran's poison, please let us know. Many are afraid to criticize Dadrian, for fear of sounding like a "denialist." The more people refuse to be intimidated, the truer scholars will be tempted to come out of their shells.

Medardus Brehl, Bochum University

In Bochum University's web site, the official magazine of the Genocide Institute “Zeitschrift für Genozidforschung” carried book reviews from 2004. (The issue number couldn't be found, but it's from pages 138-141.) The reviewed books included Peter Balakian's The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response, Merrill D. Peterson's Starving Armenians: America and the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1930 and After, and Co-Editor Jay Winter's America and the Armenian Genocide of 1915; of the latter, Mr. Brehl cites Dadrian's chapter (“The Armenian Genocide: an interpretation”) as follows (translated from the German):

…In the third and with a vast 51 page article, Vahakn Dadrian attempts an overall interpretation of the Armenian Genocide, where he brings very few new ideas in comparison to his former works offered on this subject.

Dadrian repeats his thesis that the Genocide was at the end to read as a result of escalating interetnic [internal? -HW] conflicts which was the annihilation of the non-dominant ethnic groups by the dominant one, under the conditions of the war.

Dadrian reads the Genocide as an end product of a self dynamics of conflict constellations and leaves the ideological and motivational basis of the Young Turkish Genocide politics completely out of sight. Same as Winter, who describes the Genocide as a side product of another power structure of the war, Dadrian describes the Genocide as an extreme form of [missing-HW].

Alltogether, the attempts for a theoretical and historical placement of the interpretation of the Genocide of 1915/16 are to be seen as highly unsatisfactory.

In some areas there is an alarming proximity of some lines of argumentation of the Turkish denial policies…

It would be desirable for the question of the responsibility of the "Great Powers" to be answered scientifically. Especially a study of the importance of Germany for the ideological preparation, planning and the execution of the Armenian Genocide is — not only because of its collaboration as alliance partner with the Ottoman Empire in WWI — is long overdue.

Medardus Brehl, Bochum

Thanks to Dr. Oylar Saguner
Meredith Hindley, The American University

Meredith Hindley of the American University reviewed on April 13, 1997 Vahakn N. Dadrian's German Responsibility in the Armenian Genocide: A Review of the Historical Evidence of German Complicity. Ms. Hindley did not care for Dadrian's methods of assigning German guilt:

…..Using Turkish and German state archives, Dadrian has constructed a case for German complicity in the Armenian genocide — and it is precisely his intent to build a case. The volume consists of two long legal briefs, each of which is approximately eighty pages, with supporting appendices. Dadrian chose to construct the volume in this manner because he wanted to identify by a preponderance of evidence those Germans engaged in criminal acts and those who abetted the crimes. This format is more than a rhetorical strategy: Dadrian explicitly challenges German authorities on a legal and historical basis to assume moral responsibility for Germany's role in the Armenian genocide.

This format has two distinct consequences for the reception of Dadrian's work. First, the lack of a narrative structure or a basic explanation of the events surrounding the Armenian genocide severely hampers the advancement of Dadrian's argument. The reader works too hard to understand the events being discussed and their implications. Consequently, the book lacks the power of works on the Holocaust that also document perpetrators, collaborators, and criminal acts, but which do so in a compelling, readable manner. Second, the legal-brief format and overt moral agenda raise questions about Dadrian's use of evidence. By its very nature, a brief utilizes only those facts that support a case and reduces opaque relationships to black-and-white terms. Dadrian's work is very black and white — where appropriate, he identifies individuals as either perpetrators or co-conspirators and details the natures of their crimes. There are no gray areas. Dadrian also makes a weak attempt to connect the Armenian genocide to the Holocaust by using an appendix to list prominent Nazis who served in Turkey at the time of the former. While avoiding a blanket indictment of all Germans, Dadrian's linkage of the Armenian genocide to the Holocaust in this manner implies an argument of continuity which he neither supports nor adequately explores. Moral indictments of participants in historical events should be accompanied by judicious handling of evidence.

Yet despite the volume's flaws, the reader cannot help but be troubled by Germany's actions regarding the Armenian genocide. In a position of superior power, Germany made a conscious decision to support the genocidal program of its weaker ally. Germany was not a perpetrator, but it remains far removed from the position of bystander.

Thanks to Dr. Oylar Saguner

© Holdwater
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