Did 1,5 million Armenians die during World War I?

Armenian propagandists claim that as many as 1,5 to 2 million Armenians died as the result of "massacres". Like the rest of their claims, this also is highly exaggerated, with the number claimed being increased over time. At first, immediately following the war the Armenians claimed that as many as 600,000 had been killed. Later they raised it to 800.000 and now they talk about two million and tomorrow they may talk even three million. The 1918 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica said that 600,000 Armenians had been killed; in its 1968 edition this was raised to 1,5 million.


How many Armenians did die? It is impossible to determine the number exactly, since no complete death records of statistics were kept during those years. The only basis on which even an estimate can be made is the actual Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire at the time. Even here figures vary widely, with the Armenians claiming far more than other sources:





Claimed Armenian Population





The Armenian author Leart, based on figures


provided by the Patriarchate of Istanbul



The Armenian historian Basmajian



The Armenian National Committee at the Paris Peace Conference



The Armenian historian Kevork Aslan



The French Yellow Book



Encyclopedia Britannica









Official Ottoman census statistics for 1914


10. Annual Register (London)





Leaving aside the Armenian figures, which are evidently exaggerated, the western estimates vary between 1,056,000 and 1,555,000, which more or less correspond with the official Ottoman census report of 1,295,000. How, then, could 1,5 million Armenians have been massacred even had every Armenian in the Empire been killed, which of course did not happen?


Recent investigation by Turkish scholars show that, not only the loss of Armenian lives were much less than the figures that the propagandists endeavour to get accepted, but also deaths caused by famine, sickness, contagious diseases, severe climatic conditions and actual combat are high and do probably constitute an overwhelming majority. To assert that deaths were also caused by reasons enumerated above is not propaganda, but mere realism in view of the fact that the Turks have lost several mi0llions due to the same. The Armenians were living under similar war conditions and suffered accordingly. A Turkish Army of 90,000 soldiers froze to death in the Eastern Front and perished before the chance to fight the enemy. According to Ahmed Emin's doctoral dissertation, submitted to Columbia University just after the First World War, the Turks had lost 467,000 soldiers due to sickness and epidemics. It is expressing the actual to state that climate and epidemics caused by cholera, typhus, typhoid fever, small pox and the like have hit the Armenian population just as severely as they affected the Turks. It should also be born in mind, while assessing the ratio of the Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire before and after the First World War, that this people within the short period of eight years between 1914 and 1922 participated in eleven conventional and civil wars, in which they inflicted damages on their adversaries and suffered in return. To account the Turks also for the Armenian losses incurred fighting the Turks or others is neither impartial, nor accurate. Bogos Nubar Pasha, the head of the Armenian Delegation to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, accepts in an official memorandum addressed to the French Foreign that between six to seven hundred thousand Armenians were deplaced and 390,000 had reached their destinations in Aleppo, Baghdad, Palestine or elsewhere. The great majority of the remainder, the exact figure of which cannot be ascertained, has lost their lives on account of sickness, epidemics, lack of proper nourishment and climatic conditions that touched all. It is another neglected but important fact that many thousands of Turks were also killed by regular Armenian troops or irregular bands.


A minor but still meaningful detail is that the Armenians were fed and clothed by American missionaries, with the permission and approval of the came Talât Pasha, during a time of famine which took many Turkish lives. Likewise, thousands of Armenians were saved thanks to American relief work, the money for which was paradoxically raised in the United States as a result of anti-Turkish campaigns. But is not this the only example in history where a belligerent country allows the citizens of another belligerent in the opposing camp to feed, cloth and even help educate the people (the Armenians) of which the first mentioned state (the Ottomans) is accused of exterminating?