“You had heroic battles to defend your ancient culture, your honor, and your religion”.
Renowned French publicist, lawyer, historian, journalist, and Armenophile René Pinon was one of the first in France to demand the prosecution of the Young Turkish government which had committed a crime against the Armenian people – the Armenian Genocide.
“All the wildest, most disgusting human passions are being oversaturated at the expense of unhappy, gradually exhausted and destroyed people.
Even if some people reach the interfluve, they remain there in deserted or marshy places without shelter and food… Heat and humidity finally destroy the unfortunate people who are accustomed to the harsh but healthy mountain climate…
The last remnants of the caravans of Armenians would find their salvation, dying from malaria and poverty…” writes René Pinon in one of his works.
René Pinon was born on February 5, 1870, in France in the village of Montbard into the family of Emile and Marie Pinon. Reliable personal information about him is very scarce. Few to no photos have not reached us, but data on the fruitful activity of the then-famous journalist is abundant.
As a journalist historian specializing in the matters of the East – particularly the Ottoman Empire – René Pinon authored numerous works and journalistic articles relating both to Turkey as a whole and to the Armenians and their situation specifically – for example, “Europe and the Ottoman Empire”, “Europe and young Turkey”, and others.
In 1916, Pinon published the landmark work “The extermination of Armenians: the German method, the Turkish work”. The title of the book very clearly expresses the logic of its content.
As an eyewitness to geopolitical incidents, René Pinon managed to give a true picture of historical events and expose the true goals of the deportation of Armenians from Western Armenia and other Armenian-populated regions of the Ottoman Empire.
“At the end of the first year of the war, during his speech in the Reichstag, the chancellor congratulated the Germans for the miraculous restoration of Turkey. Revival in German – through massacre, robbery, and violence. The truth is that Germany managed to use Turkey with the complicity of Enver, Talaat, and a number of other members from the Union and Progress party…”
Having close ties both in the French political environment and among representatives of the German diplomatic corps, as well as with Armenian national figures asking for support from European countries, René Pinon possessed information about political processes and the fate of individual Armenians in the ongoing situation in the Ottoman Empire.
“The deportation of Armenian women, children, and the elderly was an undercover, veiled death sentence whose purpose was the extermination of the Armenian people through massacre and violent Islamization. Extermination on the spot would have been more humane. At least, that would have saved people from terrible suffering,” says Pinon.
After World War I, René Pinon led the periodical “La Voix de l’Arménie” (“Voice of Armenia”) in Paris and wrote editorial articles in newspapers.
In 1919-1921, René Pinon continued to follow and periodically publish articles on the Armenian issue in the press. His articles and speeches received wide coverage and were translated and reprinted in the Armenian-language press of that period.
In the 1930s, Pinon continued to maintain communication with the Armenian diaspora. In 1932, he was granted honorary membership in the Mkhitaryan Academy of the Sevres School, on the occasion of which he made a fiery speech:
“The Turk knew that the freely breathing Armenian land would develop, strengthen, and separate from the rotten empire, as everyone else had separated. Therefore, according to a planned program, he amplified the Armenian massacres.
Massacres for barbarians are the result of an innate instinct. It is said that the Turkish government is trying to join the League of Nations. On this day, we must remind them of their bloody past. The government cannot make excuses by throwing blame on the past. The blame for the massacres lies not only with the government but also with the entire Turkish tribe.
The Lausanne treaty took away all the rights of the Armenians. However, the invincible soul of the Armenians has survived along with the love for the tormented homeland, culture, language, and religion. Little Armenia still exists, and it doesn’t matter that it’s under foreign authority – this is a transitory phenomenon.
The condition for the existence of a nation is not numbers, territory, or wealth but the national culture that they have preserved. This culture has been created from many sources. It was this culture that has saved you, always surrounded by barbarians, starting from the days of Xenophon.
You had heroic battles to defend your ancient culture, your honor, and your religion. Thousands of you have died a heroic death, knowingly sacrificing their lives for their homeland. Your existence confirms that if a nation does not want to die, it will not die.”
Many representatives of the progressive society of France have repeatedly advocated for a fair trial for the Armenian people. Among these progressive humanists, to whom the Armenian people are grateful, René Pinon takes his place of honor.
René Pinon passed away on October 1, 1958, in Paris, at the age of 88.
Arevik Avetisyan, www.genocide-museum.am