Germany hosts performance on Genocide despite Turkish protests

Germany hosts performance on Genocide despite Turkish protests

PanARMENIAN.Net - A Drama Theater of the German city of Konstanz premiered a theatrical performance based on Edgar Hilsenrath’s novel “The Story of the Last Thought,” focusing on the story of a witness to the 1915 Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire.

Ahead of the March 21 premiere, the theater was repeatedly demanded to cancel the performance, with Kalsruhe-based Turkish Consulate General requesting the theatre to present a different interpretation of the events, according to Asbarez.

As Turkish news agency DPA reported March 23, quoting the Konstanz Police, a rally of about 100 people was organized in front of the theatre on the day of the premiere. The protesters were angry over the poster advertizing the performance, which pictures a man lying on the ground covered with white cloth, with a Turkish flag waving above him. The poster also features a quotation by the Turkish Prime Minister saying, “There has been no genocide in our history.”

The Armenian community of the German state of Baden-Württemberg expressed its dismay over the protest. “Turkey’s ongoing denial of the fact of the Armenian Genocide testifies to its ignorance. Its demand to distort the history even in Germany is insane. Here in Konstanz we witness an absurd struggle against the historic truth and the freedom of art.”

The mission of art is to challenge society, Peter Friedrich, member of the government of Baden-Württemberg, said. According to him, the reaction shows that art has hit the target.

As the spiritual leader of the Konstanz Armenian community Dr. Diradur Sardaryan told PanARMENIAN.Net the Drama Theater director was invited to a local mosque and demanded for explanations over the performance. As he further noted, Turkish Consul is trying to get the performance cancelled at the governmental level, also resorting to intimidation of the theater employees. The actors, however, continue with the performance, he said.

As Sardaryan further noted, the local ministry of culture as well as the German committee for the Genocide recognition condemned the Turkish protests. “Armenian Genocide is an internationally recognized fact, with Turkey’s denialist policy line proving the latter’s ignorance.”

As the chair of the German committee for Genocide recognition, Dr. Tessa Hoffmann, in turn, noted, for over 40 years Turkey has been attempting to influence the freedom of speech in Germany and other countries, through intimidating organizers of the Genocide-related events.

“This is what happened in Konstanz, or Studdgart University in 2011, when the dean was forced to cancel a Genocide-dedicated event over Turkish threats,” Dr. Hoffmann said. In this context, she slammed the cowardice of the organizers, who gave in under the influence of the Turkish state policy.

Photo: Michael Chompe
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The Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide (1915-23) was the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterized by massacres, and deportations involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of deaths reaching 1.5 million.

The majority of Armenian Diaspora communities were formed by the Genocide survivors.

Present-day Turkey denies the fact of the Armenian Genocide, justifying the atrocities as “deportation to secure Armenians”. Only a few Turkish intellectuals, including Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk and scholar Taner Akcam, speak openly about the necessity to recognize this crime against humanity.

The Armenian Genocide was recognized by Uruguay, Russia, France, Lithuania, the Italian Chamber of Deputies, majority of U.S. states, parliaments of Greece, Cyprus, Argentina, Belgium and Wales, National Council of Switzerland, Chamber of Commons of Canada, Polish Sejm, Vatican, European Parliament and the World Council of Churches.

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