What's often been called the first genocide of the 20th century, the rape and murder of about a million Armenians took place under the cover of war in 1915, mostly at the ravenous hands of Turkish gendarmes and Kurdish death squads on a death march into the Syrian Desert. A few years before World War I broke out a triumvirate of ambitious men had ousted the sultan and seized power in the Young Turk Revolution. (Sultan Abdul Hamid II himself had persecuted Armenians during his reign, earning the title "the Bloody Sultan.") Under their watch the Ottoman Empire had sided with Germany in World War I and Turkish nationalism had intensified. The Armenians formed a large minority of educated Christians with a venerable history in Eastern Anatolia. After the war the Empire collapsed and out of the ashes a new Republic emerged under the firm guidance of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. But Turkey has not owned up to the sins of its predecessor state, the Ottoman Empire, to this day. The Armenian diaspora in Armenia, Canada, and the United States in particular have sought acknowledgement of the genocide. The Turkish government downplays the number of deaths and claims that they resulted in the context of war, not genocide.