Nearly five years ago, the Center published two blog articles, Another Genocide Declaration: This One Matters, and Berlin’s Message to Ankara, detailing the importance of Germany’s recognition of the Armenian genocide. Then, Germany had just become the thirteenth country to formally declare the targeted destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire as genocide. To many scholars, Germany’s recognition of the genocide was the most important official recognition, not only because of Germany’s support for the Ottoman military but also because the Armenian genocide paved the way for the horrors of the Holocaust just over two decades later. 

Beyond that, back in 2016, it was nearly inconceivable for the United States to recognize the Armenian genocide in any meaningful sense. Several Presidential candidates campaigned on the promise of recognition, only for the idea to be eschewed by the realities of contemporary geopolitics. Finally, in October 2019, the House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution formally acknowledging the genocide. In December, the Senate followed suit. Praising the vote, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz tweeted, “the Armenian Genocide is historical fact, and the denial of that fact is a continuation of the genocide.”

UMN student Matt Wallow

Now, two years later, a sitting President has publicly recognized the mass murder of the Armenian people as genocide. It’s a momentous occasion and caps decades of advocacy and awareness building by Armenian-Americans, nearly all of which are in some way connected to victims and survivors of the genocide. 

When the Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies was founded nearly 25 years ago, it was among the first university centers in the country to do research and actively advocate for education and recognition of the Armenian genocide, to such an extent that the Center was sued by Turkish nationalists attempting to stifle our work. The Center’s founder, Dr. Stephen Feinstein, enjoyed a strong partnership with the Twin Cities Armenian community, something we’re fortunate to count on to this day. 

Now with President Biden’s remarks, the United States joins the nearly three-dozen nations in affirming the historical veracity of the Armenian genocide. For decades now, the Center has stood arm-in-arm with the Armenian-American community, but today we celebrate their accomplishment and applaud their tireless efforts to ensure its victims are never forgotten.