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 work—even 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.”