Despite centuries of cohabitation between the Turks and the Armenians, the events that took place during the First World War caused these two peoples to drift apart. The First World War was a calamity of unprecedented proportions. At least 16 million people lost their lives and another 20 million were wounded. The Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires collapsed, boundaries changed dramatically and mass migrations occurred.
As a matter of fact, the decline of the Ottoman Empire started before the First World War. The winds of nationalism resulted in the Empire’s significant loss of land especially in the Balkans and led to the further weakening of the Ottoman state structure. Nearly 4.5 million Muslim subjects of the Ottoman Empire perished between 1864 and 1922. Moreover, around 5 million Ottoman citizens were driven away from their ancestral homes in the Balkans and the Caucasus during the period of the Empire’s disintegration and found shelter in Istanbul and Anatolia. During that period, all peoples that made up the Empire suffered. It is a fact that the Armenians went through painful events during those turbulent times and shared a common fate with the Empire.