This resolution was adopted by German Bundestag on June 2, 2016
REMEMBRANCE AND COMMEMORATION OF THE GENOCIDE OF THE ARMENIAN AND
OTHER CHRISTIAN MINORITIES IN THE YEARS 1915 AND 1916
This resolution was adopted by German Bundestag on June 2, 2016.
Motion by the parliamentary groups of CDU/CSU (Christian Democratic Union/Christian
Social Union), SPD (Social Democratic Party), and BUNDNIS 90/DIE GRUNEN (The Green
The Bundestag is requested to adopt the following motion:
I. The German Bundestag notes:
The German Bundestag pays tribute to the victims of expulsion and massacres, which were
committed against the Armenians and other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire and
which began over a century ago. It deplores the actions of the former Young Turk
government, which led to an almost complete annihilation of the Armenians in the Ottoman
Empire. Members of other Christian ethnic groups, especially Aramean/Assyrian and
Chaldean Christians, were affected by deportations and massacres as well.
By order of the Young Turk regime, the planned expulsion and extermination of over a
million ethnic Armenians began in the Ottoman city of Constantinople on April 24, 1915.
Their fate exemplifies the history of mass extermination, ethnic cleansing, expulsions, and
yes, of genocides, which marked the 20th century in such a horrific way. We are aware of
the uniqueness of the Holocaust, for which Germany bears guilt and responsibility.
The Bundestag regrets the inglorious role of the German Empire, which, as a principal ally of
the Ottoman Empire, did not try to stop these crimes against humanity, despite explicit
information regarding the organized expulsion and extermination of Armenians, including
also from German diplomats and missionaries. The commemoration of the German
Bundestag is also an expression of particular respect for the probably oldest Christian nation
The German Bundestag reaffirms its decision of 2005 (Printed matter 15/5689), which was
dedicated to the commemoration of the victims as well as to the historical reappraisal of
the events and which aimed at contributing to the reconciliation between Turks and
Armenians. During the debate on the centenary commemoration day on April 24, 2015, in
the German Bundestag, speakers of all parliamentary groups and in particular the Federal
President, on the eve of the debate, condemned the genocide committed against the
Armenians, commemorated the victims and called for reconciliation. The German Empire
bears partial complicity in the events.
The Bundestag commits to the special historical responsibility of Germany. This includes
supporting Turks and Armenians in overcoming old divisions and seeking paths of
reconciliation and understanding. This reconciliation process has come to a halt in the past
few years and urgently needs new impulses.
With its commemoration of the unimaginably cruel crimes, the German Bundestag honors
not only their victims, but also all of those in the Ottoman Empire and the German Empire,
who, over 100 years ago, under difficult circumstances and against the resistance of their
respective government, devoted themselves to the rescue of Armenian women, children
In order to deal with the history of ethnic conflicts in the 20th century, school, university,
and political education in Germany need to re-analyze the expulsion and extermination of
Armenians by including the issue in curricula and teaching materials and by passing it on to
future generations. The federal states play a particularly important role in this process.
The German Bundestag also considers the commemoration of the Armenian victims of the
massacres and displacement, while taking into account the German role and its
presentation to fellow citizens of Turkish and Armenian origin, a contribution to integration
and peaceful coexistence.
The German Bundestag also welcomes the increasing number of initiatives and
contributions in the field of science, civic society, art and culture in Turkey, which aim at the
reappraisal of the crimes against the Armenians and the reconciliation between Armenians
The German Bundestag encourages the Federal Government to continue to pay attention to
the commemoration and reappraisal of the expulsions and massacres of the Armenians of
1915. Furthermore, the German Bundestag welcomes any initiative aimed at boosting and
supporting this concern.
Germany's own historical experience shows how difficult it is for a society to face the dark
chapters of its own past. However, a honest appraisal of history is the most important basis
for reconciliation within a society as well as with others. A distinction has to be made
between the guilt of the perpetrators and the responsibility of those alive today. The
remembrance of the past also reminds us to stay alert and to prevent that hatred and
destruction threaten people and nations over and over again.
The German Bundestag recognizes the attempts undertaken since 2005 by the
representatives of Armenia and Turkey to come together on issues of memory and the
normalization of inter-state relations. Still, the relationship between the two states is
contentious and marked by mutual distrust. Germany should help Turks and Armenians to
come closer to one another. A constructive analysis of history is essential for a common
understanding in the present and in the future.
The easing of tensions and the normalization of relations between the Republic of Turkey
and the Republic of Armenia are also important for the stabilization of the Caucasus region.
In context of the EU neighborhood policy and due to its historical role in the GermanArmenian-Turkish
relationships, Germany sees itself in a particular responsibility in this
II. The German Bundestag calls upon the Federal Government:
- to continue to contribute to a broad public discussion about the expulsion and almost
complete annihilation of the Armenians in 1915/1916 as well as the role of the German
Empire, based on the spirit of the debate of the German Bundestag on April 24, 2015 on the
occasion of the centenary commemoration,
- to encourage the Turkish side to openly deal with the former expulsions and massacres in
order to establish the necessary foundation for a reconciliation with the Armenian people,
- to continue to advocate historic reappraisal in order to achieve rapprochement,
reconciliation and a forgiveness of historical guilt between Turks and Armenians,
- to continue supporting scientific, civic and cultural activities in Turkey and in Armenia,
which serve the exchange and historic revision between Turks and Armenians, and to
sponsor them within budgetary capacity,
- to actively support the reappraisal of historical events by Turkey and Armenia as a first
step to reconciliation and the long overdue improvement of Turkish-Armenian relations by,
for example, providing scholarships for scientists or support for civic society initiatives from
both countries who are engaged in this context,
- to encourage Turkish and Armenian government representatives to pursue the
normalization of the bilateral relations between both countries,
- to encourage the Turkish and the Armenian government to ratify the Zurich protocols
signed in 2009, which stipulate a commission for the scientific study of the historic events,
the resumption of diplomatic relations and the opening of the shared border,
- to advocate that the recently started preservation of the Armenian cultural heritage is
continued and intensified in the Republic of Turkey,
- to continue to support, within budgetary possibilities, German initiatives and projects in
science, civil society and culture which deal with the analysis of the events of 1915/1916.
Berlin, May 31, 2016
Volker Kauder, Gerda Hasselfeldt and Parliamentary Group Thomas Oppermann and
Parliamentary Group Goring-Eckardt, Dr. Anton Hofreiter and Parliamentary Group
The annihilation of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I was the
largest and most serious calamity in the several thousand-year old history of the Armenian
people. According to independent estimations, over a million Armenians fell victim to
deportations and mass killings. Numerous independent historians, parliaments and
international organizations consider the expulsion and extermination of Armenians a
genocide. The commemoration of these expulsions and massacres in addition to religion
and language is therefore a central part of the identity of these people.
The German Bundestag also commemorates the events in the context of the current
remembrance of World War I. The German Empire was a principal military ally of the
Ottoman Empire. The former government of the German Empire was informed about the
persecution and murder of the Armenians, but remained inactive. The Federal Republic of
Germany considers it a responsibility to promote the reappraisal of this crime and to keep
its memory alive.
Contrary to the facts, Turkey denies to this day that the expulsion, persecution and murder
of Armenians was based on systematic planning or that the mass extermination during the
resettlement measures and the massacres committed were intended by the Ottoman
Overall, the extent of the massacres and deportations is still doubted in Turkey. However,
there are also opposing tendencies. In 2008, there was reason to hope for a TurkishArmenian
rapprochement when the presidents of both countries jointly attended a soccer
game and thus demonstrated their willingness for further discussions. The foreign ministers
of both countries signed a common protocol in 2009, which, among others, stipulated the
establishment of a commission that should investigate the history in a scholarly manner. But
until today, neither of the two parliaments has adopted this protocol.
A reconciliation between the two nations is only imaginable if the events that occurred 100
years ago are fundamentally clarified and the facts are not denied any longer. This requires
that scholars and journalists in Turkey, who deal with the history of the expulsion and
murder of Armenians, can work freely and without fear of reprisals. There are already
numerous initiatives in Turkey which deal with the historic revision of the massacres. For
some years, the issue has been discussed in the Turkish public in an increasingly
controversial manner. These developments are to be welcomed as well as cross-border civil
society projects that have been financially supported by the [German] Foreign Office for
The German Empire, as principal military ally of the Ottoman Empire, was also involved in
these operations. From the start, both the political and the military leadership of the
German Empire was informed about the persecution and killing of Armenians. When the
Protestant theologian Dr. Johannes Lepsius presented the results of the research he had
carried out in Constantinople during July/August 1915 to the German Reichstag on October
5, 1915, the entire topic was placed under censorship by the German Imperial Government.
His "Report on the Situation of the Armenian People in Turkey", which he had directly sent
to the members of the Reichstag in 1916, was also banned and confiscated by the German
military censorship and handed over to the members of the parliament only after the end of
World War I in 1919. Despite urgent petitions by many German personalities from science,
politics and the churches, including by politicians such as Philipp Scheidemann, Karl
Liebknecht or Matthias Erzberger, and prominent public figures from the Protestant and
Catholic Church, such as Adolf von Harnack and Lorenz Werthmann, the German Imperial
Government refrained from putting effective pressure on their Ottoman ally.
The files of the [German] Foreign Office, which are based on reports of German
ambassadors and consuls in the Ottoman Empire, also document the planned
implementation of the massacres and expulsions. They constitute the most important
government record of the events of that time. The [German] Foreign Office already made
these files available many years ago. In 1998, a complete set of the files on Microfiche was
delivered to Armenia. Turkey subsequently also acquired a set.