Links to the Holocaust

Hitler Recognizes the Armenians
Armin T. Wegner Speaks Out
Raphael Lemkin Invents the Word "Genocide'"
Resistance and "The 40 Days of Musa Dagh"
Henry Morganthau Sr. & Jr.
Learn More

Hitler Recognizes the Armenians 
Adolf Hitler used the international community's inability or unwillingness to intervene to save the Armenian people, and the subsequent lack of prosecution against the perpetrators of these crimes, as justification for his own annihilation of non-Aryan races. In a public speech in the Reichstag (German Parliament) on Aug. 22, 1939, Hitler stated:
Armin T. Wegner Speaks Out  
Amin T. Wegner was a German medic stationed in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Disobeying orders, he secretly photographed the treatment of the Armenians. When he was recalled to Germany, he smuggled dozens of his photographs out of the Ottoman Empire as evidence of the crimes against the Armenian people. Less than 20 years later, when Hitler rose to power, Wegner was one of the earliest voices to protest the treatment of the Jews in Germany. In 1933, Wegner wrote an open letter to Hitler protesting the state-organized boycott against the Jews of Germany, soon after, he was arrested by the Gestapo. He was the only writer in Nazi Germany ever to protest publicly against the persecution of the Jews. He would suffer incarceration in seven Nazi concentration camps and prisons before he could make his escape to Italy in 1941.

Read Armin T. Wegner's "Letter to Hitler" Download pdf
Wegner’s Letter to Hitler, 1933 (Citation: Armin T. Wegner (2000) Letter to Hitler, Journal of Genocide Research, 2:1, 139-144.)

Raphael Lemkin Invents the Word "Genocide" 

 Lemkin was studying law when he learned of the massacres of the Armenian people by the Young Turks government, and the subsequent assassination of former Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha by Armenian survivor Soghomon Tehlirian. The trial of Tehlirian in Germany caused Lemkin to ask a question that would change history: “Why is the killing of a million a lesser crime than the killing of a single individual?” This question set him on a path that inspired his creation of the word “genocide.” As a young Jewish lawyer in Poland, he quickly recognized a pattern of genocidal intent in Hitler’s growing Germany. In 1941, he fled to the United States but was unable to convince his family to flee with him. Lemkin lost 49 members of his family in the Holocaust. Seven years later, in 1948, this name finally gained international recognition, and the word genocide was codified in the United Nations Declaration for the Prevention and Punishment for the Crime of Genocide.

Resistance at Musa Dagh 

Franz Werfel, an Austrian Jewish writer, was captivated by the story of the Armenians heroic resistance on the mountain Musa Dagh during the genocide. His novel based on this event, "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh," was published in 1933, only to be banned and burned in Nazi Germany in February 1934. Despite this, it is purported to have been secretly circulated through both the Warsaw and Bialystok Ghettos as an analogy for their plight and an inspirational call to resistance against violent regimes. Werfel was forced to flee when Nazi Germany annexed Austria and eventually emigrated to the United States in 1938. Werfel became a hero to the Armenians for sharing their story with the world, and his novel is featured at the Musa Dagh memorial in Armenia and the Armenian genocide museum. The book has been translated into multiple languages, including Turkish.

Henry Morgenthau Sr. & Jr.  

Henry Morgenthau, Sr. was the U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913-1916. During his appointment, Morgenthau came to the conclusion that the Ottoman regime was engaged in "a carefully planned scheme to thoroughly extinguish the Armenian race." Despite alerting the U.S. Department of State and then-President Woodrow Wilson to the ongoing massacre of the Armenians, the policy makers of Washington, DC chose not to intervene. Frustrated by the government's inaction, Morgenthau Sr. helped establish the private aid organization Near East Relief and resigned his position as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. 
Henry Morgenthau Jr. was born in 1891 and witnessed his father's heart-break over his inability to help the Armenians. Due in part to from his memories of the Armenian massacres, Morgenthau, Jr. was a key advocate for the creation of the War Refugee Board, which subsequently saved almost 20,000 Jews in Nazi Europe. 

Learn more about connections to the Holocaust:
Frequently Asked Questions about the Holocaust
"Watchers of the Sky" Trailer

Holocaust Museum Houston
Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004-6804
Tel: 713-942-8000, Email:
Powered by Nodus Solutions

The program is supported in part by the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission.