“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” (Albrecht 2008, p. 115) – The famous quote of Adolf Hitler’s speech in Obersalzberg to justify and motivate his followers to invade Poland. This quote can also be framed in a question like “Who remembers the Armenians today?” To this day it is debatable how this quote can be interpreted but it sums up the handling of this genocide. There is no doubt that the Armenian Genocide did not gain the same amount of recognition and refurbishment as other historic massacres like the Holocaust. These circumstances gave rise to many research papers written about the historical factors of the Armenian Genocide – Why did it happen? Who is to be blamed for it and why should it not be doubted anymore? The focus on this matter in the scientific world is more important than ever, considering the continuing denial of it. Having said this, the recognition of the genocide is not the only important aspect concerning this historic event. During the deportation of Armenians into the Syrian desert sexual violence and abuse “predominated” (Derderian 2005, p. 2). A large unknown number of women and even little girls were raped, assaulted, forced into marriage and killed. This is nothing new and often described in scientific papers to a certain extent but not many scientific papers revolve solely around this issue. Establishing the fate of Armenian women as a discussion matter could be beneficial for the overall research around the role of women in war situations in general.
During this thesis I want to find out to what extent this issue plays a role in the Armenian collective memory of the Armenian Genocide. The women of my generation are currently actively fighting for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide which has not been granted everywhere yet – but what about the sexual abuse the past generation of Armenian women have suffered? Is that part of our efforts as well? The memory culture that has been shaped by remembering and forgetting certain fragments of history has influenced what importance certain issues from the past have in our life now (Misztal 2010, p. 35). Putting emphasis on one particular aspect can blur the other aspects or shift their type of focus. Throughout this thesis, I want to find out whether the topic of sexual assault against women during the Armenian Genocide is often unconsciously avoided in the younger Armenian community. If this is the case, what reason can be identified for the missing discussion? There is not one clear answer to this but with this thesis I intend to start the conversation.