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The University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies has compiled figures by province and district that show there were 2,133,190 Armenians in the empire in 1914 and only about 387,800 by 1922.Writing at the time of the early series of massacres, The New York Times suggested there was already a “policy of extermination directed against the Christians of Asia Minor.” The Young Turks, who called themselves the Committee of Unity and Progress, launched a set of measures against the Armenians, including a law authorizing the military and government to deport anyone they “sensed” was a security threat.Indeed, there were Armenian nationalists who acted as guerrillas and cooperated with the Russians.They briefly seized the city of Van in the spring of 1915.Much of this was quite well documented at the time by Western diplomats, missionaries and others, creating widespread wartime outrage against the Turks in the West.

They attacked to the east, hoping to capture the city of Baku in what would be a disastrous campaign against Russian forces in the Caucuses.Some historians, however, while acknowledging the widespread deaths, say what happened does not technically fit the definition of genocide largely because they do not feel there is evidence that it was well-planned in advance.The New York Times covered the issue extensively — 145 articles in 1915 alone by one count — with headlines like “ Appeal to Turkey to Stop Massacres.” The Times described the actions against the Armenians as “systematic,” “authorized, and “organized by the government.” The American ambassador, Henry Morganthau Sr., was also outspoken.Concentrated largely in eastern Anatolia, many of them merchants and industrialists, Armenians, historians say, appeared markedly better off in many ways than their Turkish neighbors, largely small peasants or ill-paid government functionaries and soldiers.At the turn of the 20th Century, the once far-flung Ottoman empire was crumbling at the edges, beset by revolts among Christian subjects to the north — vast swaths of territory were lost in the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 — and the subject of coffee house grumbling among Arab nationalist intellectuals in Damascus and elsewhere.

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