Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BERLIN — Two classes of high school students in northern Germany had the rare opportunity to learn about the Armenian genocide from one of the most authoritative researchers on the topic, Prof. Taner Akçam from Clark University in Worcester, Mass.
During his brief visit to Germany over the Thanksgiving holidays November 26-29, Akçam also lectured for adults, among them a seminar group at the Free University in Berlin, and a broader general public at the Potsdam University and the Lepsiushaus in Potsdam. For Akçam it was not foreign territory. As the dean of the philosophy department of the Potsdam University noted in introducing him, Akçam had found political asylum in Germany after his escape from prison in Turkey, where he had been sentenced for articles he had written about the Kurds. In 1996 he took a degree from the Hannover University with a thesis on the Armenian Genocide and then worked at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research, before moving the US, where he studied at the University of Minnesota and Michigan, and went on to a position at Clark University.
In his public appearances, Akçam spoke on themes he has developed in several books. In his two university lectures in Berlin and Potsdam, he dealt with “The Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Documents: A Gradual Radicalization in the Decision-Making Process” and spoke at the Lepsiushaus on “Genocide as a Political Security Concept.” The first lectures drew on material published in his most recent book, The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity. The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire, which received the Albert Hourani Award for the best book of the year.