On Thursday, May 11, 2017 the Armenian Museum of America and the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research were proud to present The Story Behind “The Smoking Gun”: A Presentation of Never-Before-Seen Documents by Dr. Taner Akçam, the Robert Aram and Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marian Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University. Akçam also serves as the Academic Advisor to the Board of Trustees for the Armenian Museum of America.
The presentation featured an article on Akçam’s recent work – published on April 23, 2017 in The New York Times – that focused on an Ottoman document Akçam states is “the smoking gun,” which demonstrates the Ottoman government’s awareness of, and involvement in, the elimination of the Armenian population. The presentation at the Armenian Museum of America was the first time this and other documents have ever been discussed in public.
A packed audience of Armenians and non-Armenians filled the Adele and Haig Der Manuelian Galleries on the third floor of the Museum to hear Akçam (called the “Sherlock Holmes of Armenian Genocide”) discuss the puzzle piece that pulls together his life’s work in Genocide research.
The “smoking gun” was revealed to be a telegram written in code by an official of the Ottoman Empire, which disappeared in 1922, shortly after the trial that convicted its author. Akçam tracked down the telegram, along with the rest of the trial records, to an archive in Jerusalem where they have been kept since the 1930s. Unable to gain access to the originals, Akçam found a photographic record of the entire archive in New York with the nephew of Krikor Guerguerian, the Armenian monk and Genocide survivor who took pictures of the entire Jerusalem collection in the 1940s.
Prior to the lecture, a documentary crew from Associated Television International in Los Angeles interviewed Dr. Akçam in a Museum gallery. They then recorded his entire lecture to be potentially included in an upcoming documentary film titled Architects of Denial. The film, which will be released in October, will include a first-person look at Genocide through the eyes of survivors and experts to illustrate the connection between Genocide denial and the continuation of Genocide around the world. Stay tuned!