Ras al-Ayn Camps

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Ra's al-'Ayn Camps
Concentration camp
LocationRa's al-'Ayn, Ottoman Empire
Operated byOttoman government

Ra's al-'Ayn camps (also Ras ul-Ain camps) were desert death camps near Ra's al-'Ayn city, where many Armenians were deported and slaughtered during the Armenian genocide.[1] The site became "synonymous with Armenian suffering".[2]


Ras al-Ayn became a major collecting place for deported Armenians from Anatolia.[3] By September 1915, groups of refugees (usually made up of women and children) began to arrive after the exhausting journey.[4] In April 1916 the German consul reported "again massacre at Ras ul Ain": "300 to 500 deportees are taken out of the concentration camp each day and butchered at a distance of 10 km. from Ras ul Ain"[5] In the summer of 1916 new rounds of massacres were improvised by the Turkish government in the areas of Deir ez-Zor, Rakka and Ras ul-Ain..[6] In 1916, over 80,000 of Armenians were slaughtered in Ras al-Ayn.[7][page needed] According to reports, in one day alone 300-400 women arrived to the camps completely naked and were plundered by Chechens and gendarmerie: "All the bodies, without exception, were entirely naked and the wounds that had been inflicted showed that the victims had been killed, after having been subjected to unspeakable brutalities".[8] The local kaimakam (governor) ordered the massacre of deported Armenians. Daurri (Diirri) Bey, son of the Turkish Bey of Aleppo Defterdar Djemal, was the official High Executioner of Armenians at Ras-el-Ain: "this brute, after robbing them of their jewelry chose the youngest girls of good families and kept them for a harem".[9][verify]

An Armenian eyewitness wrote that:

"While we were marching the Turkish soldiers with drawn swords suddenly made their way through the crowd, and, like beasts let loose in a flock of sheep, killed and wounded many. The rest still dragged on under the influence of the bloody swords until Ras-ul-Ain. Desert was reached. This place was especially noted for the carrying of their butchery, for all that were sent to these parts were sent there to die." "Armenian Tells Of Death Pilgrimage", New York Times, July 27, 1919

Several times, entire camps in Ras ul-Ayn were liquidated as a prevention against typhoid epidemics.[10] According to US Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr., the route to Ras-ul-Ain for Armenian travellers "was one prolonged horror".[11]

Famous deportees[edit]

  • Aram Andonian
  • Hovhannes Kımpetyan (1894-1915), a poet and educator, perished during the deportation in Ras ul-Ain at the age of twenty one.[12]

In popular culture[edit]

Some scenes in the 2014 movie The Cut use a representation of the camp.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sondhaus, Lawrence (2011). World War I: the global revolution. Cambridge University Press. p. 390. ISBN 978-052-173626-8. LCCN 2010051573. OL 24914957M.
  2. ^ Jones, Adam (2006). Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction. Routledge. p. 110. ISBN 0-4153-5384-X. OL 7492773M.
  3. ^ Suny, Ronald Grigor (2015-03-22). "They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else": A History of the Armenian Genocide. Princeton University Press. p. 314. ISBN 978-1-4008-6558-1.
  4. ^ Gaunt 2006, p. 249.
  5. ^ The Widening circle of genocide, Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide (Jerusalem), V. Dadrian, 1994, p. 103
  6. ^ Charny, Israel W. (1999). Encyclopedia of Genocide (2 Volumes). ABC-Clio Inc. p. 95. ISBN 0-8743-6928-2. OL 8382807M.
  7. ^ Hovannisian, Richard G. (2017). Looking Backward, Moving Forward: Confronting the Armenian Genocide. Taylor & Francis Group. p. 99. ISBN 978-135-150828-5. OL 38314201M.
  8. ^ Hovannisian, Richard G. (1999). Remembrance and Denial: The Case of the Armenian Genocide. Wayne State University Press. p. 76. ISBN 0-8143-2777-X. OL 9859980M.
  9. ^ Dadrian, Vahakn N. (1996). German responsibility in the Armenian genocide: a review of the historical evidence of German complicity. Blue Crane Books. p. 80. ISBN 1-8864-3401-8. OL 973501M.
  10. ^ Gaunt 2006, p. 301.
  11. ^ Morgenthau, Henry (2010). Ambassador Morgenthau's Story: Personal Account of the Armenian Genocide. Cosimo Classics. p. 219. ISBN 978-1-6164-0396-6.
  12. ^ "Professor Fatma Müge Göçek's word during the 24 April 1915 commemoration, by Fatma Muge Gocek, Date: 22 April 2007, University of Michigan". Archived from the original on 1 June 2020. Retrieved 20 November 2011.


External links[edit]