Cemal, Talat, Enver- Committee on Union and Progression

How much does one know about the first major genocide of the 20th Century? How much does one know about about the leaders that created an idea that would later kill over 12 million people. Well, sadly not very much. The Armenian Genocide that occurred in 1915 by the CUP not only killed 1.5 Armenians, but sparked Hitler’s plan of the Jewish Ethnic cleansing. The Committee on Union and Progression was led by three men known as Cemal, Minister of the Navy, Talat, Minister of Interior, and Enver, Minister of the Military. These men did not set out to kill the Armenians, yet here we are talking about this travesty. According to Suny, author of They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else, the CUP was just a group of “empire preservers” (XV) not “ethnonationalists” (XV). I disagree with this statement, because the Armenians had been living in the Ottoman Empire for centuries so if they were a truly nationalist group instead of an ethnic group, they would have protected them. Instead, Cemal started the genocidal route when lying to the Dashnaks, a terror and murder group that targeted the Armenians, about the economic problems being the Armenian’s fault. This conversation led to 400,000 Armenians to be murdered by the Dashnaks and sparked the genocide. Enver disarmed the Armenian people, recruited criminals and formed them into armies, and killed all of the reporters and protesters that disagreed with him. He did so because he believed that “All the heads dreaming of sharing power must be crushed” .(Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide, p.73) Talat orchestrated the genocide by helping Enver take away the weapons, forcing the Armenians into Labor Battalions, and exiling them from the country. The Armenians “can live in the desert but nowhere else”, but while moving them, the Turks will steal, rape, poison, and outright slaughter them too. The Committee on Union and Progression was a group that effectively and efficiently cleansed the Empire and did so with little consequence.

Latif Bolat

Latif Bolat is a Turkish musician that plays traditional Sufi music and poetry. He came to Mary Washington on Wednesday, October 19th to perform for a small group of people. We were encouraged by our Freshman seminar professor to attend, and I am really glad that I went.

Latif Bolat began his performance with a history of Islam dating back fifteen thousand years. He used maps to demonstrate how it spread as a religion. I never knew just how influential the role of Islam was in Spain. Latif Bolat also talked about the role of Sufism in the world. One thing that he said that really resonated with me was the prophet that said she would burn heaven and pour water over hell. She did this so that people would live their lives not in search of a reward in a afterlife, but because it was what was right. That was a really interesting concept to me because it made sense. I really hope that throughout life I continue to remember this Sufi legend because it is an easy but meaningful way to live life.

The second part of the performance was Latif Bolat playing a special instrument and singing. He asked some people to come and read the poems in English while he played music. Overall, the performance was very educational and informative. I am very glad that I decided to go.

Bloodlands 5-Conclusion

Timothy Snyder’s writing was one that will have an impact on me for a long time. I learned so incredibly much about the entire topic Hilter, Stalinism, WWII and the Holocaust during all of those time periods. The second half of the book focused more on Hitlers side and his more vigorous attempts to make his power fully known and to wipe out the entire population of Jewish people. As the Nazi leadership grew, and more and more massacres were happening, Hitlers ideas seemed to be coming together. From Snyder’s writing Hitler envisioned a “colonial demodernization” of the Soviet Union and Poland. His vision included 4 parts: first, he wanted the soviet state to collapse after the lightning victory. second, he wanted a hunger plan to starve all the people in the area. Third, all of the remaining jews who survived were to be eliminated in the final solution, and fourth, the Generalplan Ost wanted the deportation and murder of any other population to be saved for the resettlement of the Germans. As you read through the book you see that none of these plans actually worked, considering where we are now in todays world and in todays Germany, but Hitler did do some serious damage when he was in power. I found it very interesting to read all of the benefactors that went into his thinking and what morals he was willing to throw out and how he was able to convince all of his soldiers to do the same. Germanys rule during hitlers time span of power created so much pain and suffering that i cannot even imagine. I also can’t help but think about all the other “Genocides” that have occurred before and after the Holocaust and think why none of them have gotten as much attention as this. Snyder did a wonderful job writing this book and I really learned a lot of valuable things from reading it.

Analyzing Trump & Hitler+Stalin political cartoon

This political cartoon illustrates the relationship between the executive branch and legislative if Donald Trump were to become president. Also depicting how he wants to be portrayed to the nation and to the world. The first thing noticed is that the White House definitely does not look like the White House. The author exaggerated the architecture and also made it look quite similar to the Trump Tower in New York.  The normal White House today looks like only the first level of the White House in the cartoon. While the Trump Tower is an extravagant 58-story skyscraper which a majority of Americans are familiar with when thinking of Donald Trump, like a symbol. The author is showing people’s common perception of Trump, that he’s more of a successful businessman than the next president. The author’s illustration of the White House can also be perceived as looking more powerful and intimidating to the world than the White House today. Therefore, exaggerating Trump’s goal of making America such a big superpower that no other country would try to compete or harm it.

Another interesting factor of the cartoon is the sign in front of the White House labeled “Trump White House.” The author used labeling to also magnify Trump’s popularly known ego. It depicts that Trump is labeling the White House as his own almost territory, making it clear that he’s in charge and leaving the capitol building almost in the clouds. Instead of showing a balance of power, all the power looks held in only the executive branch.



I chose this political cartoon of Hitler and Stalin because it reminded me of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact or German-Soviet non-aggression pact. It was named after the Soviet foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov and German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop as an agreement of non-aggression or “neutrality pact” between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. However, things escalated quickly between the two nations. Only lasting roughly two years until Hitler launched an attack on the Soviets in Eastern Poland during Operation Barbarossa on June 22nd,1941 which ended the pact. In this cartoon the author used labeling and said “wonder how long the honeymoon will last?”, I took it as referring to the short period of time the two countries had the pact lasting.

Image result for stalin hitler political cartoon

Presidential Forum & Clinton vs. Trump Debate thoughts

Presidential Forum Thoughts:

After watching the presidential forum for Clinton and Trump, I would say I’m pleased with how the discussions went. Hillary Clinton did a good job of standing her ground and really strived to get her point across. I was surprised as to how well she defended herself and had a strong answer for every question asked. I had a feeling the personal email server would come up again, and it did. You could tell Clinton was getting heated and more defensive when it was brought up. She said several times that she apologized and realized it was wrong but that kind of mistake and secretive work can’t be something brought to the White House. I did however agree with her point to better analyze ISIS, online, on ground, and by air in order to defeat them. I think whoever is next as commander in chief needs to take this as a first priority and goal. Trump on the other hand, remained his confident self and has gotten less fired up in discussions. It was almost like they switched places and now Clinton was the aggressor. I agreed with his idea of working out a solution for illegal immigrants that want to serve within the military to be able to. He didn’t have a clear plan or idea yet, but he sounded like he was considering it which I think is a valid reason to stay in the country. I also agreed with his idea of building good relations with Russia and coming together to defeat ISIS. I think its a good plan if handled very carefully and with all the right decisions. It’s important for candidates to have an actual plan especially this late in the race rather than just a broad opinion on what to do about situations. For example, when both candidates were asked on what they will do about the veteran suicide rate in America, both candidates did have a plan in mind. Which personally, I would have liked them to expand more on. As a whole, the topics discussed were touchy subjects but important ones that I think both candidates handled well.

Clinton vs. Trump Debate thoughts:

Both Clinton and Trump had very different views on different foreign policy issues. One being ISIS, Trump has a much more strategic yet some may say “more careless” plan to take care of this issue. I think it’s just more detailed and straight-forward than Clinton’s proposed plan of working with the governments of different muslim countries. You can tell that Trump wants to take care of it once and for all and kind of be done with the whole situation and Clinton wants to take a slower more careful approach. Although terrorism and especially the rise of ISIS is a touchy and dangerous issue to be dealt with it has been a problem during the Obama administration and not much has been done about it. In our next president it’s important for real action to be taken.

Another thing I found interesting was the discussion on Russia. Clinton and Trump had opposing opinions on accused Russian activity. Clinton supported and brought to light that Russia is hacking US government websites and national security information. Whereas Trump denied the accusations and acted in more support of Putin. Which wasn’t surprising to me since in the Presidential Forum Trump was talking about how he thinks America should team up with Russia to put an end to ISIS.

USHMM and MSF 10/1/16

I had never been the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum before so I saw everything there for the first time. As I was walking through the first exhibits explaining Hitlers rise to power, I was struck with a sudden realization that I didn’t really know what or how things happened. I’d only ever been given a textbook knowledge and nothing more about what went on in Germany in the early 1930s. I saw the ways they determined if you were Aryan or not. I read descriptions of who he targeted. I saw videos of kids only a little younger than myself cheering for Hitler. I was shocked at the propaganda. I had to keep going. I walked through the rest of the exhibit with a steady uneasiness in my stomach and when I saw the cattle car on tracks that originally headed toward Treblinka i about lost my composure. I walked through the cattle car and I paused and turned my flashlight on. I saw scratch marks all over the inside. It was so dark. I could have cut through the despair with a knife. When I exited I came face to face with a replica gate to the one at Auschwitz; Arbeit Macht Frei (Work will set you free). I then walked through the part of the exhibit dedicated to Auschwitz. inside there was a replica of the experience from the train cars to the gas chambers. The little clay peoples faces all sculpted with terror and sorrow. And then I turned around and saw the bunks, which also, upon closer examination, had scratch marks all over them. And as I left the exhibit I came across the hall of remembrance. I lit 3 candles; the first for Treblinka, the second for Ravensbrueck, and the third  for Auschwitz-Birkenau. I walked out of the hall fighting tears because I was so devastated that something like this happened. And I never want it to again.

About thirty minutes after I exited we all came back for Jacquline’s survivor story. I was moved by her story of escape and survival but I didn’t know what to say to her. “I’m sorry” doesn’t begin to cover what she went through at the age she was at the time (2).

Then we all walked through the MSF exhibit. It was sad of course to find out how many people MSF has t0 help right now because there is so much to be done and not enough people or time to do it. I was shocked to hear that for every one refugee/asylum seeker/internally displaced people, there are 99 of us. We the people of the world have the chance to change the course of our actions (as we should) and someone has to be brave enough to step up. MSF seems like a great way to do that.

Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi

Primo Levi was a survivor from the camp Monowitz, or Buna as they called it for the type of rubber they manufactured, which was located near Auschwitz. This camp was primarily used for labor as the German forces were trying to produce synthetic rubber, and Levi was one of the specialists chosen for the project.

During his stay, Levi visited and stayed in the medical center, the Ka-Ba, twice for different reasons. The first was a large gash in his foot caused by a work accident, the second was scarlet fever. While infected with the fever, he was forced to stay in a block designated for the sick, even as the Russian liberation came. Due to the nature of the illnesses that he and the others bore, they were left to survive the cold with no food as the SS troops left and took the able-bodied works that composed the rest of the camp on a death march. The last chapter of his memoir contains the details and struggles of his last ten days surviving in the cold while those around him died of disease.

During the debate in my freshman seminar class, named the History of Genocides, had someone offhandedly said, “I don’t understand why they would stay in the camp. The Germans were gone, they could have left.” While I agree it would have made sense to leave, had the circumstances been better for Levi and his block, they could have easily been killed or died from the cold within hours of leaving the mostly deserted Monowitz. Levi talks about how when they retrieved a stove from another kitchen block that one man on the expedition almost froze to death within hours.

The issue with leaving would have been the cross fire between the German and Russian armies as they fought over the camp in general, along with the fact it was the middle of winter and the prisoners only and thin cloth shirts and pants, the same worn down ones they had been wearing for months. Another reason not to leave until liberation was the fact they had warmth in the form of the portable stove, and then food in the form of frozen potatoes. The shelter was adequate enough to live in until the Russian forces came.

Primo Levi does a wonderful job conveying the horrors he and others faced in these camps as he walks through the months he spent there. If he had decided to leave before liberation came, he and countless others in his block may have died.

Bloodlands 5-11

35076_137080479655581_911601_nChapters 5-11 of Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder cover June of 1941 to post World War II.

Chapter 5 begins with discussing the Hunger Plan: Hitler’s plan to starve to Soviet Union by taking the grain needed for food for his Germany. The first step in achieving the Hunger Plan to actually invade the Soviet Union. Snyder says that Operation Barbarossa was the beginning of the third phase of the war. In the first phase, the Soviet Union carried out all of the mass killing; in the second, during the Soviet-German alliance, the killing was balanced. Between 1941 and 1945 the Germans were responsible for almost all of the political murder. The Germans wanted the invasion of the Soviet Union to be a quick victory, but it took much longer than Hitler expected. The siege of Leningrad is something that I am familiar with because in my travels to Russia, I visited the site of the mass graves of the victims of the siege. I remember seeing children’s toys in the museum about the siege. The children’s toys were found in a lake after a truck carry food and other items for the people of Leningrad fell through the ice of a lake. It was a very somber experience seeing row after row of mounds where people who had starved were buried.

Chapter 6 discusses the creation of the Final Solution against the Jewish people by Nazi Germany. The four utopias of  1941 were: a lightning victory against the Soviet Union; A Hunger Plan that would starve the Soviet Union; a Final Solution that would eliminate the Jewish people in Europe; and a plan that would make the western Soviet Union a German colony. Lightning victory did not come, the Hunger Plan proved to be impossible, and any sort of colonization would have to wait. The only thing that seemed possible was the Final Solution. Hitler placed Himmler in charge of this mission, and they set up death and concentration camps all throughout Europe to achieve the goal of eliminating the Jewish people. The methods of killing varied from mass shootings, mass gassing, to death by malnutrition and forced labor.

Chapter 7 is about Belarus, and how the country was a site of symbolic competition between Hitler and Stalin. Minsk became a center of Nazi destructiveness according to Snyder. As Hitler was advancing further into the Soviet Union, Stalin never fled Moscow.  With Hitler becoming more and more of a threat, Stalin acknowledged the killing of the Jews only once. The killing didn’t necessarily bother Stalin,rather it was how it was interpreted. Partisans began rising up within Europe during this time also.

Chapter 8 talks about the creation and organization the Nazi concentration and death camps. These included Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek, and Auschwitz. Operation Reinhard included the camps of Treblinka, Sobibor, and Belzec. One of the main reasons that the need for death camps was so high was because in the west there was a lack of personnel to do the individual shooting of the Jews. The death camps of Belzec and Sobibor had a 99.99% death rate. Few lived to recount the horrific details of the camps. Snyder also talked a lot about Treblinka and the role that the camp played in the wider plan of the Final Solution.

Chapter 9 discusses the Warsaw ghetto, along with the different resistance groups within the ghetto that took part in the Warsaw ghetto uprising. Warsaw was the center of resistance among the Jews of Poland. The resistance groups obtained pistols and when the Germans came one day to begin deportations, they fought back. Because of the resistance, Himmler ordered the total destruction of the ghetto. This meant burning everything and everyone in the ghetto. After the uprisings, the rubble of the ghetto became the Concentration Camp Warsaw, one of the ghastliest Nazi camps during the war.

Chapter 10 and 11 talk about the end of the war and the preparations for the Soviet Union to get the parts of land that they agreed on with the British and Americans. After the war, Stalin continued his ethnic cleansing of ridding his new territories of Germans. After Hitler was gone, Antisemitism did not end. Stalin continued to get rid of some Jews within his ranks. Stalin was worried about the effect of the war on his people because they saw that the rest of the world lived much better lives than they did. He became so suspicious and paranoid. He eventually was found in a coma and died several days later.

Overall, the book was very informative, and I enjoyed how Snyder grouped his topics and kept it somewhat chronological. He focused more on Stalin’s role in Europe but related Stalin to Hitler. It was a change from all the other books I have read about this time period, many of the books being focused on Hitler’s role.

After Finishing Bloodlands, We Should Add to the Snyder Thesis

I have a few thoughts after finishing the last of Snyder’s “Bloodlands.” Probably the one that keeps coming into my mind, is adding something to the Snyder Thesis. Although we didn’t really talk about specific casualties, besides 14 million civilians, we did discuss the idea that the areas mainly targeted were Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic States. However, something struck me as I was reading Chapter 10. Could we, considering in the Snyder Thesis we are aiming to include all those who died because of Hitler and Stalin policies, include Germans on the list? Chapter 10 included the deaths of thousands of Germans (most post-war), as the Soviets moved through Poland into Eastern Germany.

Snyder discusses specifically how sexual and gender based violence increased as Soviet soldiers reached Germany. He says on page 317, “Soviet soldiers may have understood the rape of German women as a way to humiliate and dishonor German men.” He goes on to say how the Germans were considered “not humans” and the violence, specifically against German women, was “extraordinary.” Many women ended up committing suicide to prevent being raped, or in response to the shame they felt post-rape.

Snyder gives the statistics in a paragraph on page 318. I will list them briefly:

  • The Soviets seized 520,000 Germans for forced labor.
  • Germans were sent to do “dark and dangerous work.”
  • 600,000 Germans taken as POWs or laborers at the end of the war would die.
  • 185,000 German civilians died in Soviet captivity both during and post-WWII.
  • 30,000 Germans would die in Polish camps.
  • 363,000 German POWs would die in the Soviet camps.

In addition, about 10,000 East Germans died in the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, after it was struck by a USSR torpedo (which is the basis behind the historical fiction book, Salt to the Sea). 205 other ships were also sunk by the USSR, killing most passengers on board. Most were civilians escaping the encroaching opposing armies. It was not just Poland and the USSR, though. Czechoslovakia killed about 30,000 Germans, and about 5,500 would commit suicide rather than be killed, be taken prisoner, or be forced into labor camps.

Many Germans, or people with ethnic ties to Germany, had to leave Poland and other eastern states as refugees, some were deported. The tables turned on Germany almost immediately after the war. Most nations believed the “entire German nation was guilty, and not to be pitied.” Therefore, revenge became the response of many. It’s a powerful motivator, and thousands of Germans lost their lives for many of the same reasons, and in the same fashion, that the National Socialist regime had used only years before against their perceived enemies.

I’d like to close with a question that I still don’t quite know the answer to: What is the exact difference between an ethnic cleansing (the title of Chapter 10) and a genocide? Is it the scale of it or the intentions behind the act? Why would someone choose to use one word over the other, if they essentially do mean the same thing?

Reflecting on the Second Presidential Debate

The debate was held on October 9, 2016, at 9pm. It was between the Democratic Candidate, Hillary Clinton, and the Republican Candidate, Donald Trump. It was moderated by Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz.

When I was younger, my dream was to become the first female President of the United States. I can remember having it as early as six or seven. I wanted to be in a position where I could make real change, and impact the lives of my family, friends, and fellow Americans. I had probably a dozen books (one titled How to Be President) and even had a shirt that read “Future President,” a mug that said “Madame President,” and a “Commander in Chief” pen. It was in middle school, that I discovered that there were other ways to accomplish the same goal, so the idea of becoming President (much to the disappointment of my family) fizzled out. I still hold the position, however, in the highest esteem, but in this election, I’m questioning everything I seem to believe in.

In my presidential dream, I was inspired by the great presidents of our country’s history. I found them captivating, brilliant, and above all, respectable human beings. I’m saddened when I think of this election’s two major-party candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. They don’t inspire me in that same way, and I feel as if they don’t have the capability to inspire young children either. How far for this beloved position to have fallen in my mind, and it’s not just in mine. I don’t believe in either of them, and one of them will become our leader. I will, sadly, not believe in the person who will represent our nation, me, and what America stands for and against.

I personally feel that both candidates have gotten lost among the politics of it all, and have forgotten about the people, about caring. About being a person–mother or father, grandmother or grandfather, husband or wife, friend, brother, sister. At their very core, they are people, and I know that, but they have fallen into what seems to be a never-ending cycle of spinning/twisting questions and answers, attacking their opponent on things outside policy, and trying to earn a vote, not necessarily my respect.

As I sat and watched the debate, and listened to the two of them speak, I realized I don’t even know what to think anymore. It’s so difficult to figure out their stance in debates and speeches, because they don’t put it as their focus. And when they do speak, I can’t decipher what’s true and what’s a lie. What will they actually follow through on? Which “promises” are they making just to secure a vote? Everything about it is very uncertain, and I’m simply at a loss.

Because I am from Maryland, and I am unable to go home to vote, I requested an out-of-state ballot. I mailed in back to Queen Anne’s County on Monday…my first ever presidential election ballot. I just never imagined it would be for an election like this, and that seems to be the consensus of young Americans my age. Shouldn’t that be a sign?