Vahakn Dadrian

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Dadrian leads here. For American football player Dadrian Brown, see Dee Brown (American football)
Vahakn Dadrian
Vahagn Dadryan.JPG
Vahakn Norair Dadrian

(1926-05-26)May 26, 1926
DiedAugust 2, 2019(2019-08-02) (aged 93)
Awardssee below
Scientific career
InstitutionsZoryan Institute
Vahakn Dadrian inscription to Marjorie Housepian Dobkin (cropped).jpg

Vahakn Norair Dadrian (Armenian: Վահագն Տատրեան; 26 May 1926 – 2 August 2019) was an Armenian-American sociologist and historian, born in Turkey, professor of sociology, historian, and an expert on the Armenian genocide.[1] He was one of the early scholars of the academic study of genocide and recognized as one of the key thinkers on the Holocaust and genocide.[2] However, Dadrian's approach to history has been criticized and some of the ideas he advanced are not followed by scholars in the twenty-first century.


Vahakn Norair Dadrian was born in 1926 in Turkey to a family that lost many members during the Armenian genocide.[3] Dadrian first studied mathematics at the University of Berlin, after which he decided to switch to a completely different field, and studied philosophy[4][5] at the University of Vienna, and later, international law at the University of Zürich. He completed his Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Chicago.[citation needed] Thomas de Waal suggests that Dadrian's research was motivated by a political agenda, noting that Dadrian wrote a 1964 letter to The New York Times asking: "on what conceivable grounds can the Armenians be denied the right to reclaim their ancestral territories which Turkey absorbed after massacring their inhabitants?"[6]

In the 1970s, Dadrian participated in the creation of the comparative study of genocide.[7]

He was awarded an honorary doctorate degree for his research in the field of Armenian Genocide Studies by the Armenian National Academy of Sciences, and later, in 1998, he was made a member of the Academy and honored by the President of Armenia, the republic's highest cultural award, the Khorenatzi medal. In 1999, Dadrian was awarded on behalf of the Holy See of Cilicia the Mesrob Mashdots Medal.[8] The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation sponsored him as director of a large Genocide study project, which culminated with the publication of articles, mainly in the Holocaust and Genocide studies magazines. He was the keynote speaker at the centennial of the John Marshall Law School and delivered a lecture to the British House of Commons in 1995. He also received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.[9] He has lectured extensively in French, English and German in the Free University of Berlin, the Universities of Munich, Parma, Torino, Zürich, Uppsala, Frankfurt am Main, Cologne, Bochum, Münster, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Geneva, Brussels and UNESCO’s Paris center.[10]

In 1970–1991 Dadrian was a professor of sociology at State University of New York-College at Geneseo.

In 1981, a college arbitrator at State University College at Geneseo found him guilty of four charges of sexual harassment, but allowed him to return to work because the arbitrator believed they were "singular events that would not happen again." In 1991, State University College at Geneseo dismissed Dadrian for sexual harassment after a female student had complained he had kissed her on the lips on 24 April 1990.[11]

Dadrian was the director of Genocide Research at Zoryan Institute.

Vahakn Dadrian died on 2 August 2019, at the age of 93.[12] After his death, the President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian sent a letter of condolences to Dadrian's family and friends.[13]

Academic research[edit]

The particularity of Dadrian's research is that by mastering many languages, including German, English, French, Turkish, Ottoman Turkish, and Armenian, he has researched archives of different countries, and extensively studied materials in various languages in a way that very few, if anyone has done before him. One of Dadrian's major researches is the volume titled The History of the Armenian Genocide which had seven printings and appeared in numerous languages. In this book Dadrian described the background, initiation and unfolding of the genocide, and placed it within a conceptual framework of genocide theory.[14] Roger W. Smith praised it as a "rare work, over 20 years in the making, that is at once fascinating to read, comprehensive in scope, and unsurpassed in the documentation of the events it describes."[15] According to William Schabas, the president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, "Dadrian's historical research on the Armenian Genocide is informed by a rich grasp of the legal issues", and "his contribution both to historical and legal scholarship is enormous."[16]

A specialist on the Armenian Genocide of 1915–23, his many contributions to the investigation of that event, through multilingual original research in a number of archival collections throughout the world, has stamped him as one of foremost thinkers on the nature of the Armenian Genocide and how it was carried out.

— Paul R. Bartrop and Steven L. Jacobs, Fifty Key Thinkers on the Holocaust and Genocide, p. 79

Dadrian's latest project was the translation of the Turkish Courts-Martial of 1919-20 from Ottoman Turkish to English.

According to David Bruce MacDonald, Dadrian is a "towering figure in the field of Armenian genocide history".[17] Taner Akcam writes that by employing Justin McCarthy's own method of calculating population figures and classifying individuals, Vahakn Dadrian has shown the ridiculousness of the claim that "the events of 1915 were in fact a civil war between the Armenians and Turks".[18] German Swiss scholar Hans-Lukas Kieser writes that the documents related to fifteen Turkish ministers published by V. Dadrian show best the ministers' conception of their responsibility in the "abuses" committed against Ottoman Armenians.[19]


De Waal states that "The analysis that Dadrian presents comes across today as rather Orientalist, a more sophisticated version of the postwar Allied Turcophobic literature."[6] De Waal as well as Malcolm E. Yapp of London University, state that Dadrian's work more closely resembles a prosecutor's argument than analytic history.[6][20] Dadrian's theory that the genocide resulted from prewar patterns, was caused by Islam and "the repressive and sanguinary aspects of Ottoman culture" has been rejected by the majority of 21st century historians, although expounded in the 2019 book The Thirty-Year Genocide.[6][21] Ronald Suny explains the shift away from the previous historiography: "neither Dadrian nor Balakian explain why religion should have led to genocidal violence in the first year of the World War but not throughout Ottoman and Islamic history".[22]

According to Donald Bloxham, the accusations leveled by Dadrian "are often simply unfounded", especially "the idea of a German role in the formation of genocidal policy".[23] Bloxham states that while Dadrian supports the authenticity of the so-called "Ten Commandments", on the other hand, "Most serious historians accept that this document is dubious at best, and probably a fake."[24] According to German historian Tessa Hofmann, "Dadrian’s inconsistencies have been abundantly criticized by scholars".[25]

Mary Schaeffer Conroy, professor of Russian history at Colorado University, Denver, and Hilmar Kaiser criticize Dadrian's tone, and failure to use Turkish archival sources. [26][27]


Dadrian's books and articles have been translated into more than 10 languages:

  • Autopsie du Génocide Arménien. Trans. Marc & Mikaël Nichanian. Brussels: Éditions Complexe, 1995, 266p.
  • Haykakan Tsekhaspanut`iune Khorhtaranayin ev Patmagitakan Knnarkumnerov (The treatment of the Ottoman genocide by the Ottoman parliament and its historical analysis). Watertown, MA: Baikar, 1995, 147p.
  • Jenosid Ulusal ve Uluslararasi Hukuk Sorunu Olarak: 1915 Ermeni Olay ve Hukuki Sonuçlar [Genocide as a problem of national and international law: The World War I Armenian case and its contemporary legal ramifications]. Trans. Yavuz Alogan. Istanbul: Belge Uluslararas Yaynclk, 1995, 221p.
  • The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus. Providence, RI & Oxford: Berghahn Books, 1995, 452p.
  • German Responsibility in the Armenian Genocide: A Review of the Historical Evidence of German Complicity. Watertown, MA: Blue Crane Books, 1996, 304p.
  • Histoire du génocide arménien: Conflits nationaux des Balkans au Caucase. Traduit de l'anglais par Marc Nichanian. Paris: Stock, 1996, 694p.
  • The Key Elements in the Turkish Denial of the Armenian Genocide: A Case Study of Distortion and Falsification. Cambridge, MA and Toronto: Zoryan Institute, 1999, 84p.
  • Warrant for Genocide: Key Elements of Turko-Armenian Conflict. New Brunswick and London: Transaction Publishers, 1999, 214p.
  • Los elementos clave en el negacionismo Turco del Genocidio Armenia: un estudio de distorsión y falsificación. Translated by Eduardo A. Karsaclian. Buenos Aires: Fundación Armenia, 2002, 79p.
  • Historia Tis Armenikan Genoktonias [History of the Armenian Genocide]. Athens: Stokhastis, 2002, 685p.
  • Historia del Genocidio Armenio. Conflictos étnicos de los Balcanes a Anatolia y al Cáucaso. Translated by Eduardo A. Karsaclian. Buenos Aires: Imago Mundi, 2008, 434p.


Awards granted to Vahakn Dadrian include:[28]


  1. ^ A Lecture on The Armenian Genocide, Professor Stuart D. Stein.
  2. ^ Fifty Key Thinkers on the Holocaust and Genocide, by Paul Robert Bartrop, Steven L. Jacobs, Taylor & Francis, 2010, p. 79
  3. ^ Fifty Key Thinkers on the Holocaust and Genocide, by Paul Robert Bartrop, Steven L. Jacobs, Taylor & Francis, 15.11.2010, p. 79
  4. ^ "Biographies of Contributors to this Issue". Holocaust and Genocide Studies. 5 (2): 239–240. 1990. doi:10.1093/hgs/5.2.239. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  5. ^ "Contributors" (PDF). Genocide Studies and Prevention. 3 (1): 161–163. 2008. doi:10.1353/gsp.2011.0054. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d de Waal, Thomas (2015). Great Catastrophe: Armenians and Turks in the Shadow of Genocide. Oxford University Press. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-19-935069-8.
  7. ^ Vahakn N. Dadrian, Biography
  8. ^ Dadrian Awarded "St. Mesrob Mashdots" Medal. Retrieved October 07, 2011
  9. ^ Fifty Key Thinkers on the Holocaust and Genocide, by Paul Robert Bartrop, Steven L. Jacobs, Taylor & Francis, 15.11.2010, p. 79
  10. ^ Lecture Delivered by Prof. Dadrian At University of London, UK, on 24th November, 2005
  11. ^ "Geneseo Fires Professor for Sexual Harassment". Times Union. Associated Press. April 25, 1991. Archived from the original on 2015-04-29. Retrieved 2017-12-04.
  12. ^ "Genocide Studies Pioneer Vahakn Dadrian Dies". Armenian Mirror-Spectator. August 8, 2019.
  13. ^ President Armen Sarkissian sent a letter of condolences on the demise of Vahakn Dadrian
  14. ^ Fifty Key Thinkers on the Holocaust and Genocide, by Paul Robert Bartrop, Steven L. Jacobs, Taylor & Francis, 15.11.2010, p. 82
  15. ^ "Dadrian's CV, Zoryan Institute" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2011-12-27.
  16. ^ No Stopping Now: Dadrian Celebrates 85th Birthday, Armenian Weekly, 2011
  17. ^ Identity Politics in the Age of Genocide: The Holocaust and Historical Representation. David Bruce MacDonald, Routledge, 2008, p. 127
  18. ^ The Young Turks' Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire. Taner Akçam, Princeton University Press, 2012, p. 166
  19. ^ Turkey Beyond Nationalism: Towards Post-Nationalist Identities, Hans-Lukas Kieser, 2006, p. 113
  20. ^ Macolm E. Yapp, "Review of The History of the Armenian Genocide, by V. N. Dadrian", Middle Eastern Studies, 32 (1996), p. 397
  21. ^ Gutman, David (2020). "The thirty year genocide: Turkey's destruction of its Christian minorities, 1894–1924: by Benny Morris and Dror Ze'evi, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2019, 672 pp., $35, ISBN: 978-0674916456". Turkish Studies. 21 (1): 163–165. doi:10.1080/14683849.2019.1644170. S2CID 201424062.
  22. ^ Melson, R. (2013). "Recent Developments in the Study of the Armenian Genocide". Holocaust and Genocide Studies. 27 (2): 313–321. doi:10.1093/hgs/dct036.
  23. ^ "Power, Politics, Prejudice, Protest and Propaganda", in Hans-Lukas Kieser and Dominik J. Schaller (ed.), Der Völkermord and den Armeniern, Zurich: Chronos, 2002, p. 234.
  24. ^ "Donald Bloxham replies", History Today, July 2005, Vol. 55, Issue 7.
  25. ^ Hofmann, Tessa (2016). "Open Wounds: Armenians, Turks, and a Century of Genocide by Vicken Cheterian". Histoire sociale/Social history. 49 (100): 662–664. doi:10.1353/his.2016.0046. S2CID 152278362.
  26. ^ Mary Schaeffer Conroy, "Review of Vahakn N. Dadrian, Warrant for Genocide: Key Elements of Turko-Armenian Conflict", The Social Science Journal, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 481-483.

    A few typos and small factual errors, such as the implication that Russian-Ottoman relations were always adversarial in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, mar the book. However, the most egregious flaws in this book are its polemical tone, its sketchiness, and its failure to use Turkish archival sources. Therefore, while the book delivers intriguing insights into Ottoman-Kurdish relations and the views of individual Turkish statesmen regarding Armenians, and while it suggests convincing theories for Turkish massacres of Armenians, it does not convincingly document these theories. It is thus unsatisfying as a whole. This book is more a work of journalism than solid history and is not recommended.

  27. ^ Hilmar Kaiser, "Germany and the Armenian Genocide, Part II: Reply to Vahakn N. Dadrian's Response," Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies, 9 (1996), pp. 139-40.
  28. ^ "Dadrian's CV, Zoryan Institute" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2011-12-27.

External links[edit]