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 the 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 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 80000 of Armenians were slaughtered in Ras al-Ayn.[7] According to reports, in one day alone 300-400 women arrived to the camps completely naked and were plundered by local 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] "There was nothing wrong in robbing and killing deportees', as the local kaimakam (governor) had ordered to massacre the deported Armenians. Daurri (Diirri) Bey, son of Turkish Defterdar Djemal Bey of Aleppo, was the official High Executioner of the 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]

"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.", wrote an eyewitness. "Armenian Tells Of Death Pilgrimage", New York Times, July 27, 1919

Several times, entire camps in Ras ul-Ayn were liquidated as a persecution against typhoid epidemics.[10] According to US Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr., all the way to Ras-ul-Ain the existence of wretched 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]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ World War One: The Global Revolution, By Lawrence Sondhaus, Cambridge University Press, 2011, p. 390
  2. ^ Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction, by Adam Jones, 2006, Page 110
  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. ^ Massacres, resistance, protectors: Muslim-Christian relations in Eastern Anatolia during World War I, by David Gaunt, Jan Beṯ-Şawoce, Gorgias Press LLC, 2006, p. 249
  5. ^ The Widening circle of genocide, Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide (Jerusalem), V. Dadrian, 1994, p. 103
  6. ^ Encyclopedia of Genocide: I-Y: Volume 2 - Page 95, 1999
  7. ^ Looking backward, moving forward: confronting the Armenian Genocide - Page 99, by Richard G. Hovannisian - 2003
  8. ^ Remembrance and denial: author Hilmar Kaiser, Wayne State University Press, 1998, p. 68
  9. ^ German responsibility in the Armenian genocide: a review of the historical evidence of German complicity, by Vahakn N. Dadrian, Blue Crane Books, 1996, p. 80
  10. ^ Massacres, resistance, protectors: Muslim-Christian relations in Eastern Anatolia during World War I, by David Gaunt, Jan Beṯ-Şawoce, Gorgias Press LLC, 2006, p. 301
  11. ^ Ambassador Morgenthau's Story: A Personal Account of the Armenian Genocide, By Henry Morgenthau, III, 2010, p. 219
  12. ^ Professor Fatma Müge Göçek’s word during the 24 April 1915 commemoration, by Fatma Muge Gocek, Date: 22 April 2007, University of Michigan


  • Survivors: An Oral History Of The Armenian Genocide, by Donald E. Miller, Lorna Touryan Miller, University of California Press, 1999, ISBN 0-520-21956-2

External links[edit]