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Collective Traumas

Memories of War and Conflict in 20th-Century Europe


Edited By Conny Mithander, John Sundholm and Maria Holmgren Troy

Collective Traumas is about the traumatic European history of the 20 th century – war, genocide, dictatorship, ethnic cleansing – and how individuals, communities and nations have dealt with their dark past through remembrance, historiography and legal settlements. Memories, and especially collective memories, serve as foundations for national identities and are politically charged. Regardless whether memory is used to support or to challenge established ideologies, it is inevitably subject to political tensions. Consequently, memory, history and amnesia tend to be used and abused for different political and ideological purposes. From the perspectives of historical, literary and visual studies the essays focus on how the experiences of war and profound conflict have been represented and remembered in different national cultures and communities.
This volume is a vital contribution to memory studies and trauma theory.
Collective Traumas is a result of the multidisciplinary research project on Memory Culture that was initiated in 2002 at Karlstad University, Sweden. A previous publication with Peter Lang is Memory Work: The Theory and Practice of Memory (2005).


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Memory of Mass Murder. The Genocide in Armenian and Non-Armenian Historical Consciousness (Klas-Göran Karlsson) 13


13 Memory of Mass Murder The Genocide in Armenian and Non-Armenian Historical Consciousness1 Klas-Göran KARLSSON Many decades have elapsed since the genocide of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was perpetrated. On April 24, 1915, during the on- going First World War, which had started unsuccessfully for the Otto- mans, the Young Turkish government triggered off the mass murder by having hundreds of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople and other large cities arrested and killed. The attention of the world was directed towards the Allied attempt to land troops on the Gallipoli peninsula, in order to put an end to the engagement of the Ottoman Empire in the war machinery of Germany and its allies. In this situation, mass violence against the Armenian population started off, with the aim to wipe out the Armenians from Ottoman territory once and for all. Relevant measures were taken beforehand: a ‘Special Or- ganisation’ had been set up already in August 1914 to supervise and carry out the genocidal activities, and Armenians in the Ottoman army had been disarmed and assigned to special labour battalions in the early spring of 1915. After initial massacres of these battalions and the Arme- nian intellectual elite, persecution became systematic. Temporary laws were forced through by the government cabinet, laws that had some- times, but far from always, been promulgated by the Ottoman Parlia- ment, where the treatment of the Armenians at times caused debate and complaints.2 Armenian goods and properties were confiscated and Armenian...

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