Armenia and Kurdistan


In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Armenia and Kurdistan is Number 62 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Armenia is defined in the study as consisting of six vilayets (provinces) of the Turkish Empire that were heavily populated by Armenians, along with several other vilayets with considerable Armenian populations, as well as those parts of the Russian Empire known as “Russian Armenia.” The study defines Kurdistan as comprising the vilayets of Van, Diarbekr, and Mosul, but notes that Kurds were living “throughout the whole length of the Taurus range.” The book includes sections on political and physical geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. The section on political history devotes considerable attention to the ancient origins of both peoples as well as to their more recent history. It notes that the “three factors of Armenian history” were “dispersion,” “religion,” and “persecution.” Drawing upon a 1916 report by Lord Bryce, a statesman, diplomat, and member of the International Court of Justice, the study provides early estimates of the losses suffered by the Armenian population of Turkey during World War I, which are put at 600,000 massacred and 600,000 deported. It notes that the “Kurds have also suffered very severely from the vicissitudes of the war” but gives no firm estimate of their losses.

Last updated: July 23, 2015