Today I discussed in great detail the situation of the Armenians with Talaat Bey, who has just returned from Anatolia. He has taken extensive measures to feed the deported Armenian families. Crimes committed against Armenian property and person will be severely punished. Twenty people who had committed these crimes have recently been executed. In the districts on the Russian border and near Aleppo mass displacements had been necessary on the grounds of military security. A Russian-engineered large-scale conspiracy among the Gregorian Armenians in the border areas and near Aleppo has been discovered. Attacks on bridges and railways had been planned. It had been impossible to single out any individual culprit from the masses of these people. Only the deportation of the whole could ensure security. In Syria as well as in Constantinople the Armenians have been left undisturbed. At the moment there are no forced transportations taking place and the government is trying to alleviate the abhorrent conditions resulting from the deportations.
I remarked that the former Armenian-Catholic Patriarch and his deputy had paid me the customary first visit that day. He had reassured me that they and their dioceses were loyal Ottoman subjects and had not involved themselves in any revolutionary movements. Despite that, most of them had been deported. These priests hoped that those deported would be allowed to return to their parishes and abandoned homes in and around Aleppo. I asked the Minister if this would be also possible, and for the Protestant Armenians, who had also proven not to be involved in revolutionists. He replied, that the Catholic and Protestant Armenians, who had by and large not been involved in any revolutionary movements, would be allowed to return to their homes as far as possible.
I then broached the subject with the Minister of the rumours that are widely circulated in Anatolia, whereby it is said that the German government had been in favour of the Armenian persecution. He replied, that as a result of my discussion with the Grand Vizier concerning this situation he had ordered all the relevant departments to take measures to counter these rumours, and to explain that the German government had had nothing whatsoever to do with the matter and that the Turkish government carried the sole responsibility for the measures taken against the Armenians.
In the course of the conversation a peculiar opinion was expressed by Talaat Bey, a viewpoint which I had already heard from his colleagues, saying that we in a similar situation would have acted in the same way to eradicate a revolutionary movement in Germany with force.
I have continuously observed the total lack of understanding for the viewpoint that the innocent should not be hurt when pursuing the guilty and that only those found guilty of crimes should be punished. I made it perfectly clear to the Minister that we would never act in a similar way and only those found guilty of crimes would be punished.
From different sides I have learnt that my exhortations to the Turkish rulers seemed, indeed, to have made an impression. Until I hear new complaints concerning Armenian persecutions, I will let the situation rest. All too many interventions do not achieve their purpose, as they dampen the effect. As soon as it becomes necessary I will, of course, intervene again.