1915-11-30-DE-001
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Source: DE/PA-AA/R14089
Central register: 1915-A-36213
Edition: Genocide 1915/16
Date of entry in central register: 12/15/1915 p.m.
Embassy/consular serial number: K. No. 110/No. 2725
Translated by: Vera Draack (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 03/23/2012


From the Consul in Aleppo (Roessler) to the Reichskanzler (Bethmann Hollweg)

Report



K. No. 110 / No. 2725
Aleppo, 30 November 1915

Your Excellency, I have the honour of enclosing a letter and an essay from the German missionary, Magdalena Didszun, from Hadjin, dated 15 September of this year, which only came into my possession during the past few days. They point out in a particularly clear manner the way in which large Turkish circles shift the responsibility for the Armenian atrocities onto Germany, adding a further trait to the descriptions formerly made known, namely, that forced conversions to Islam have been attempted and brought about. The essay also seems to me to convey the atmosphere remarkably well.

In a further enclosure I also respectfully submit the report of an Armenian, Sarkis Manukian, on his experiences on the journey from Erzurum to Surudj (south-west of Urfa). Manukian studied philosophy in Berlin from 1905 – 1908 and in Leipzig from 1908 – 1910, and received his master's degree in philosophy at the latter university. For several years he was a teacher at an Armenian school in Erzurum; in the end, at the suggestion of General Posselt and then the German Consul von Scheubner, he was a teacher for German language courses. The same thing happened to his procession that so many others experienced: men and women were separated and the men murdered. There were no bullets left over for them; rather, they were slaughtered with axes and knives, two thousand men in one day. Gendarmes were involved in leading the victims to the place of execution, and the Kurds claimed that they acted upon orders from the government. The Kaymakam from Adiaman accompanied the procession before and afterwards. Draught animals, possessions, even pieces of clothing were taken from the women and children by public officials. Several times during the past few months I heard of the cruel manner of these murders, but I kept silent, because I had no eyewitnesses. Manukian, who can be regarded as an irreproachable witness, experienced such scenes. He himself was saved thanks to his good knowledge of the Kurdish language. At present I am trying to ensure that he is allocated residence in a habitable town or at least that he will not be deported any further from Surudj into the desert.

Recently, Mrs. Gaidzak, an Armenian lady from Trebizond who was very wealthy until her deportation, came to me and said that of the 3000 to 3500 Armenians who suddenly had to leave Trebizond, only she together with 5 of her relatives arrived in Aleppo. Despite numerous attempts she was not able to find out anything about where the remainder were and feared that, with the exception of the abducted women and girls, they had all been killed. She was able to save herself, because several times along the way she met Turkish officials and officers who had frequented her hospitable house and who now looked after her.

During these past few days, on the occasion of the epidemic control undertaken by the 4th Army, I had cause to draw the attention of the head of the general staff of this army, Baron von Kress, to a so-called "orphanage" in town run by the Turkish side, in which several deaths occur every day. Colonel von Kress inspected it and told me that the conditions there defied any description. He added something like, "When the Turks have the men killed during the processions, they can use the excuse that they must defend themselves against rebellion; when women and children are raped and kidnapped, the Turks can use the excuse that they do not have the Kurds and gendarmes under control; when they let those in the processions starve, they can use the excuse that the difficulties of feeding people on the march are so great that they cannot master them; but when they let the children in the middle of the town of Aleppo become run-down from hunger, cold and dirt, then that is inexcusable." Only a straw mat had been put down on the stone tiles for the children as protection against the winter temperatures and groups of them, including sick children, insufficiently clothed, were covered with a straw mat. The local Armenians had raised money and procured blankets with it. But when they came to the "orphanage" and requested permission to distribute the blankets, it was refused by the public official on the grounds that the government would take care of the children itself!

A few days ago the recently re-ordered transport of 50000 Armenians by train from Radju and Katma to Ras-ul-Ain began – every day thousands are transported. Those seriously ill are also loaded onto the train. The dead are simply offloaded at the stations, yes, it has even happened that corpses were found between stations on the railway embankment. The railway administration has difficulty in mastering these conditions. And for normal passenger traffic during the past few days, the government even expected it to have its doctor determine the temperature of every passenger leaving from Aleppo and refuse to let him depart if it were more than 38°! The administration replied that the government should first ensure that no more sick Armenians were loaded on in Katma and Radju.

I am sending the same report to the Imperial Embassy in Constantinople.


Roessler

[In Enclosures 1 and 3, Magdalena Didszun reports in long phrases, the meanings of which are constantly repeated, on the Armenians' forced conversions to Islam and the absurdity that, although no Armenian himself has changed simply because his religion has changed, now, however, they were being decently treated as Turks. In order to convert to the Muslim faith the Armenians were exposed to hunger for days near the towns.

She also complains with frequent repetitions that the Germans are blamed for the crimes, that the "inhuman treatment of the Armenians was merely carried out on German recommendation, yes, at the order of the Germans", but that such treatment of the innocent was surely not approved of by the emperor in Germany.]


Enclosure 2

Aleppo, 25 November 1915
My Experiences from Erzurum to Surudj.

500 families set off from Erzurum on 19 June of this year and arrived in Erzindjan on 2 July. The road was relatively more calm as three hundred soldiers and a captain accompanied us, although small attacks and robberies were often carried out by the Kurds. In addition, we had to pay the soldiers and their commander, Kiamil Effendi. We were ordered to do so. From Erzindjan, we arrived in Kamakh. There, with a list in their hands, the captain, Kiamil Effendi, and several "komitadjis" (Tscheta) separated 200 people according to their names and told them very simply that they had been designated to die. They were led away. From Kamakh, we arrived in Malatia. The government took 400 tents away from us there – our own. "We need them." This behaviour was explained thus tersely by the Mutesarrif of the town. We were left with 4 tents. From Malatia to Surudj, the government gave us the civilian kaymakam, Nuri Bey, from Adiaman-Hussi Mansur as a leader, and the Kurd leaders, Hadji Bedr Bey, and his brother, Seynal Bey, had to be together with him, accompanied by their numerous people. We had hardly been on our way from Malatia for two days through mountains which had never been walked through, every day only for a distance of two or three hours, when we first understood why these Kurds accompanied us at the government's orders. All of the men were gathered in a narrow valley – there were 2115 males there. (We had to give our Kurdish and Turkish leaders money based on the number of persons; for this reason we made up a list and this is why I know the exact figure.) The women and children were already gone. The Kurds and gendarmes explained to us, "You will now die, but this is not our fault; the government demands it." We were tied up. We did not attempt to resist out of consideration for our women and children. Seynal Bey took action; he had all of them brought individually to him by the Kurds and gendarmes, everything they had was taken from each of them and then they were executed barely ten paces further away. The head was cut off with knives and axes and the corpses thrown in a chasm. Ali Pasha, Nuri Bey's brother, sat next to Seynal Bey, while Nuri Bey himself went on for a distance of half-an-hour. 2000 people met their death here. Only 115 men saved themselves by a miracle. These were men who spoke some Kurdish and by promising money they managed to avoid being led to Seynal Bey; I, too, was among these men as I speak Kurdish. The next day, when those of us who had been saved found the women and children who were two hours away from the place of execution, two public officials from Malatia came to take everything we had. We had to give away all our things: clothing, bed, objects of gold, money, furthermore oxen (over 800), horses, donkeys, etc., in order to save our lives once again. Two days later, the kaymakam and Seynal Bey demanded 3000 pounds. Either we obtained this sum or we would die. The women still had some objects of gold and money on them, and we gave this away as well – all told it came to 1000 Turkish Lira.

From here we arrived in Surudj seven days later; the entire procession had taken 3 months. Of the 600 families, 110 families are now left over (when we set out there were 500 families. Along the way about 100 families joined us in different villages.) Two friends of mine, Issahakian and Terlemesian, who also studied in Leipzig, were also among those executed. The latter had been in Van, but was staying in Erzurum when we were deported.

Those who saved themselves from Seynal Bey were killed by epidemics. Now there are hardly 50 men left. Many women and children also die. Many women and children were led away along the journey.


[Sarkis Manukian, Ph.D.]



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