All the most savage and deplorable human passions find their fulfillment at the expense of a miserable, gradually melting mob that is being annihilated. Even if some people reach Mesopotamia, they will remain in the desert or in marshy places with no shelter or food…
The heat and the humidity are finally destroying those miserable people who are accustomed to a harsh but healthy mountain climate…
The last remnants of the caravans of Armenians found their salvation, dying of fever and poverty…
- the words of famous French publicist, lawyer, historian, journalist and Armenophile, René Pinon, in one of his works.
René Pinon was born on 5 February 1870, in Montbard, France, to the family of Emil and Marie Pinon. Reliable personal information is very sketchy; not even photographs having reached us, but the prolific activities of this famous journalist of the time are well known.
René Pinon was one of the first people in France to demand the punishment of the Young Turk authorities that organized and committed the crime of genocide against the Armenian people, known as the “Armenian Genocide.”
René Pinon, being a historian-journalist specializing in Eastern affairs and, in particular, the Ottoman Empire, was the author of numerous works and journalistic articles about Turkey in general and about the Armenians and their situation, among them being “Europe and the Ottoman Empire”, “Europe and Young Turkey,” etc.
Pinon’s valuable work “The Extermination of the Armenians: German method, Turkish work”
was published in 1916. The title of the book clearly illustrates the logic of the work. As an eyewitness to geopolitical events, René Pinon was able to give an accurate picture of them and to expose the real goals of the mass deportation of Armenians from the Ottoman Empire and other Armenian-populated areas.
The annihilation of the Armenians derived from German political interests. They have long been… following a project by which Turkey was to become an area of colonization and expansion for the German people… The bigger Turkey is, the more its ambitions will spread far and wide, so Germany, its guardian and heir, will be powerful and rich.
- Pinon wrote and continued:
At the end of the first year of the war the German Chancellor, in his speech in the Reichstag, congratulates the Germans on the miraculous restoration of Turkey. “Renaissance in the German way: through massacres, robberies and violence. The truth is that Germany has been able to use Turkey for its own ends, with the complicity of Enver, Talaat and several other members of the “Union and Progress” Committee.”
Having close ties with both French political circles, representatives of the German diplomatic corps and Armenian national figures seeking help in European countries for their compatriots, René Pinon mastered the political processes and the fate of the Armenian individual in the Ottoman Empire in the then current situation.
“The deportation of Armenian women, children and the elderly was a fraudulently concealed death sentence aimed at the complete destruction of the Armenian nation through massacre and forced Islamization. Massacre on the spot would have been more human. At least they would free people from terrible suffering.”
After World War I, René Pinon headed the editorial board of the journal “La Voix de l'Arménie” (Voice of Armenia) in Paris, publishing editorials in its issues.
He continued to write and publish articles on the Armenian Cause in that periodical from 1919 to 1921. His articles and speeches were widely criticized, translated and reprinted in the Armenian language press of the time.
He also maintained his contacts with the Armenian diaspora in the 1930s. In 1932, he participated in the event in the Mekhitarist Academic Assembly of Sevres School, receiving honorary membership, and made a fiery speech:
“The Turks knew that the breathtaking Armenian land would be developed, strengthened, and separated from the rotten empire as happened to all the others; they therefore, multiplied the Armenian massacres using a premeditated plan.
The massacres are the result of the barbaric instincts of a barbaric nation. There is news that the Turkish government is joining the League of Nations. On that day, all must remember their own bloody past.
The government cannot justify blaming their predecessors. The sin of massacre is not just of the government, but on the shoulders of the whole Turkish people.
The Treaty of Lausanne deprived Armenians of their rights. Yet the invincible spirit of the Armenian remains, as does their love for their tormented homeland, culture, language and religion. There is a small Armenia, but it is under foreign rule, which is a phenomenon of transmission.
The condition of a nation’s existence is neither numbers, nor land nor wealth, but the national culture that has been saved. You created many furnaces for it. This is the culture that saved you from the days of Xenophon, with you always surrounded by barbarians.
You fought heroic battles to protect your ancient culture, honor and religion. Thousands of you fell in heroic death; you knew to die for your homeland. Your existence is proof that a nation will not die when it does not want to die.”
Many representatives of progressive French society have always defended the just cause of the Armenian people. René Pinon deserves his honorable place among the leading philanthropists of Armenian people.
He died in Paris on 1 October 1958, at the age of 88.
Head of the AGMI External Relations and Media Department
“Europe and the Ottoman Empire”, 1917, Paris, AGMI library
“The Extermination of the Armenians: German method, Turkish work”, Paris, 1916, AGMI library
Issues of “La Voix de l'Arménie” (Voice of Armenia) published René Pinon’s editorials