Armenian Community Grieving Genocide Scholar Vahakn Dadrian

Vahakn N. Dadrian (1926-2019)

The Armenian scholarly community is grieving the loss of renowned genocide researcher and author Vahakn Dadrian, who passed away on August 2, 2019. He was 93 years old.  

Vahakn Norair Dadrian was born on May 26, 1926 in Istanbul, Turkey. “Vahakn Dadrian was born ten years after the Armenian Genocide,” noted Armenian President Armen Sarkissian in his condolence letter to the Dadrian family. “It is, probably, no accident that he dedicated the major part of his life to genocide and especially the Armenian Genocide studies, making a great contribution to the internalization and the fight against denial of the Genocide through his valuable monographies and publications,” wrote Sarkissian.

Over the course of his lifetime, Dadrian achieved degrees in mathematics, philosophy, international law and sociology, studying at the University of Berlin, University of Vienna, University of Zurich and University of Chicago, respectively. His interdisciplinary background coupled with his impressive mastery of six languages (Armenian, English, French, German, Turkish and Ottoman Turkish) supported his expertise of comparative genocide studies.

A Director of Genocide Research at the Zoryan Institute, Dadrian was known for his voluminous writings on the Armenian Genocide including his 1995 work, The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus. Istanbul-Armenian member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly Garo Paylan tweeted in Armenian and Turkish that Dadrian’s book “played an important role in the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.”

In 2011, he co-authored Judgment at Istanbul: The Armenian Genocide Trials with Clark University professor and historian Taner Akçam. In his somber reflection on Facebook, Akçam recalled his formal remarks during a 2005 event in New York City honoring his late friend and invaluable, lifelong mentor. “There is no doubt that whatever discussion we’ll have [in Armenian Genocide research field], it will be built on the body of knowledge that Dadrian has provided for us,” expressed Akçam.

There has been an outpouring of support and sympathy from admirers and fellow scholars since Dadrian’s passing. He was a true trailblazer. “More than anyone else at the time, Dadrian raised the study of the Armenian Genocide to the academic level, and everyone who has come after him is indebted to his workeven those who disagree with him,” said Marc Mamigonian, National Association of Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Director of Academic Affairs. “When we look at the remarkable development of Armenian Genocide scholarship in the past two decades, it must be understood that this was made possible by the foundation created by Dadrian’s groundbreaking work.” 

As Akçam put it, this “is a big loss for Armenians and humanity.” Arguably the most influential authority figure in Armenian Genocide research, Dadrian was “the master of us all whose hearts beat for justice and humanity.”


  1. A huge loss to all Armenians.
    I spoke to him in San Francisco; he was educating us during his lecture about the Armenian Genocide. Very kind, wise and intelligent man. God Bless His Soul.

  2. Professor Dadrian gave a talk at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Quite a scholar! Fortunately he authored many books that have added to the truth of our history and the atrocities committed against us be the Ottoman Turks.

  3. Among numerous other commitments, Vahakn N. Dadrian supported scholars, human rights defenders and communities in Germany, when we sought for legislative recognition of the genocide against the Armenians since 1999 (the recognition was eventually gained in 2016). I met V.N. Dadrian at many international conferences and meetings, and always found him very collegial, supportive and inspiring. He will be remembered in the international academia.

  4. I had the privilege and honour to meet and speak with him while working at the Melkonian Educational Institute, when he had visited Cyprus and given highly interesting lectures regarding the Armenian Genocide in this modern world. It was roughly about 13 years before the Centennial. Dr. Dadrian would speak to everybody. Walking in the corridors of the school, he would stop and speak to the students, in the offices, he would strike up conversations with us, the teachers, etc. Very witty, sharp-minded, a conversation with him was an educational session. A great, great loss for us, Armenians of the Diaspora. Hopefully his work will be continued by other young, bright Armenian scholars.

  5. When I was a teenager, I remember the first time and the times after, Professor Dadrian would visit our home in Chicago. He had read my father’s (Suren Hovhanessian /Oganessian) articles in The Hairenik on Soviet Armenia and life as a political prisoner in Siberia. Over dinner, he would speak to my mother in German, which delighted her. She always prepared special dinners and Viennese pastry when he came. Our friendship continued when I got married, and then the professor would discuss Armenian topics with both my father and Murad. I would always listen to their conversations with interest. When my parents passed away, our friendship with Professor Dadrian continued over the years with phone calls and Christmas cards. What a delightful sense of humor he had, and how humble he was! When he would publish a paper, he would send us a copy so that Murad and I would know about his latest work, he would explain in a note or phone call. When he was honored for his great work by the Armenian Academy of Sciences in Armenia, he saw to it that my husband and I were invited. We were honored that he had thought of us, and it was a great honor to be at his important event. Often times, upon reading one of my articles in the Armenian Weekly, he would phone and say, “Knarik, what an article…! Your father would be so proud of you! You have a wonderful “pen! May it live on.” And when Murad passed away, he phoned to express his condolences. On one occasion, when he was well up in years, I asked, “Professor how is your work coming along?” He replied, I am working very hard day and night because I don’t have that much time left.” He was truly a humble and kind man, a dedicated and hard-working man. May God Bless his soul, and may the Armenian Nation and her people never forget him and the work he has done.
    Knarik O. Meneshian

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