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Guenther Lewy
Guenther Lewy

Born into a Jewish family in Breslau in 1923, Guenter Lewy escaped Germany with his family after Kristallnacht in November 1938. He first immigrated to Palestine and then to the United States, where he was to gain significant acclaim for his research on the Holocaust, the Vietnam War, and genocide. Lewy is currently a professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts.

In 2005, Lewy published "The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide", a book in which he investigated rival Turkish and Armenian historiographies relating to the last decades of the Ottoman Empire.

Lewy, as the title of his book indicates, is reluctant to use the term "genocide" in reference to the Armenian massacres. Initially, he questions the very need for using any label whatsoever to describe the events of 1915. "The issue of the appropriate label to be attached to these occurrences is relevant for the ongoing polemics between Turks and Armenians," he writes. "It is of secondary importance at best for historical inquiry, because the use of legal nomenclature does not add any material facts important for the history of these events."

But Lewy himself cannot keep from entering the fray. In justifying his non-use of the genocide label in relation to the Armenian tragedy, Lewy

August 2009

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