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Link: http://www.armenocide.net/armenocide/armgende.nsf/$$AllDocs/1916-11-12-DE-001
Source: DE/PA-AA/BoKon/174; R14094
Central register: 1916-A-31236
Embassy register: A53a/1916/3351
Edition: Genocide 1915/16
Date of entry in central register: 11/18/1916 p.m.
Embassy/consular serial number: No. 1315
Translated by: Vera Draack (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 03/23/2012

From Field Marshal Liman von Sanders to the Chargé d'Affaires at the Embassy in Constantinople (Radowitz)


No. 1315
Panderma, 12 November 1916
Esteemed Mr. von Radowitz,

<I take the liberty of enclosing the transcript of an exact report by Engineer K. for you, which contains several interesting details.1 I already took the liberty of writing from Smyrna that in the meantime everything has been done to change these dreadful conditions, insofar as this was in our power. The present commander of the sector, identified in the report as Colonel Nourredin Bey, made a verbal report to me on this matter.>

I also enclose a letter from Count Spee that he gave me yesterday in Smyrna. It concerns the deportations of the Armenians, which cause great unrest in Smyrna. <As such mass deportations infringe on the military sector – those liable for military service, the use of railroads, health measures, unrest among the population of a town close to the enemy, etc. – I informed the Vali that, without my permission, such mass arrests and deportations would no longer be allowed to take place. I informed the Vali that weapons would be used to prevent such a situation, should it be repeated.

The Vali then gave in and told me that this would not happen again.

However, as he claims that he received orders from Constantinople (Talat Bey) to carry out these measures, I am not sure whether merely other ways will be sought.

As far as I was able to find out, the number of Armenians living in Smyrna amounts to 6 – 7000, among them the richest people in town, but also some nasty personalities.>

Unfortunately, due to urgent business matters, I am unable to be in Constantinople on time tomorrow for the arrival of the Ambassador. But I will arrive no later than Thursday to say good-bye to you and your highly esteemed wife and to greet the Ambassador.

I learned with great regret that it was not possible for you, esteemed Mr. von Radowitz, to come to Smyrna before you leave.

I am always respectfully yours,

Liman von Sanders

Smyrna, 11 November 1916

Several weeks ago a number of old bombs were found in the local Catholic cemetery. As they seem without doubt to be of Armenian origin, the Vali then demanded of the local Armenians that they state the names of those involved, and this is to be carried out through the mediation of their bishop.

This case appears to be very similar to one which happened three years ago. A local man bought a house four years ago and, when it was reported three years ago that Armenian bombs were still hidden in the house in question, the buyer was arrested for this, even though he knew nothing of the hidden objects.

When the local Armenian Committee collaborated with the Young Turk Committee before the constitution was drawn up, the latter committee knew everything that was happening in the former one. When the constitution then came into effect, the Young Turk Committee turned away and pursued the Armenian one. According to news I have received, all of the Committee members of the Armenian association at that time were gradually removed. In all probability, the newly-found bombs are from the period before the constitution.

Under the Armenian bishop, the local Armenians deny knowing anything about further persons involved. But the Vali then replied that he knew that there was still a movement; those involved must be named, otherwise he would be forced to entrust the police with pursuing the matter. The Armenians again denied the possibility of giving information, and the police have now begun to act. A number of arrests were carried out, and very early on 9 November women and children were also taken away and the entire group from Smyrna, resp. Cordelio, deported by train in the direction of Afiun Kara Hissar. The news in this matter is that both men and women as well as children were separated from one another and accommodated in separate wagons, and that they were treated rather brutally.

The Armenians gathered together and on the evening of the 9th they went to the Vali in Burnabat and asked for mercy. The Vali then replied that he knew that there were still revolutionary Armenians here and he could not tolerate a constantly explosive situation; the Armenians should name those involved and, without naming the person making the report, this could be written on a simple envelope that was to be given to the bishop. They would be given until the following Tuesday; if no report had been made by then, all of the Armenians without exception would be deported. I have heard from one source that 15 names were demanded.

The Armenian bishop supposedly replied to the objection that this opportunity could be used to report the names of personal enemies by saying that there was no need to fear this, because he would check everything.

<Apart from the legal rape and the unforeseeable consequences for the victims, the entire matter has the gravest consequences for German interests resp. Germany's reputation.

The government's measures were carried out at a time when, apart from the commander of the German corps, the Commander-in-Chief, Marshall Liman von Sanders, was also in Smyrna. There is a rumour in town that the Germans had prepared the procedure according to plan in order to rid themselves in this way of the Armenian competition that was inconvenient for their trade.

From a material point of view, there will be direct damages, because in fact the Armenian merchants did purchase a great deal of German goods, part of which have not yet been paid. Application of the new law on possessions left behind will give the noble Turkish elements a lever to gain possession of the goods which the Armenians were holding back together with the Armenians' very considerable fortune. And all this under the cheap excuse that the Germans did it.

This news is gladly received by the Christian population that basically grew up under the influence of the French and the British, not to mention the members of the enemy nations that are close to the American consul, whose report will be made accordingly.>

To His Excellency Marshall Liman von Sanders

L. Spee.

[From the Embassy in Constantinople to the Reichskanzler, 14 November]

Upon completion of the report mentioned above, I received a letter from Marshall Liman von Sanders dated the 12th inst. together with an enclosed report by Count Spee dated the 11th inst.

The Marshall writes the following: < >

I add the following from Count Spee's report: < >

[From General Headquarters to von Lossow, 14 November]


The Chargé d'Affaires in Constantinople sent telegram no. 1191 dated 13th inst.: "The mass deportation of the Armenians began during the past few days. Marshall Liman von Sanders objected out of military interest. What military consequences are to be feared? Is the continued construction of the Taurus and Amanus Railway endangered? On behalf of: Ludendorff

[From the Military Plenipotentriary, von Lossow, to the Commander-in-Chief at General Headquarters, 16 November]

Enver Pasha as well as the Head of the 2nd Division of the [Turkish] General Headquarters, who processes these matters and is explicitly informed, know nothing of new Armenian deportations. This can only be a matter of very local, unimportant measures against individual suspects. I believe, therefore, that no detrimental military consequences are to be expected for the time being.

[From Zimmermann to the Embassy in Constantinople (No. 1315), 18 November]

Telegram No. 1191 from there was reported to the Commander-in-Chief.

General von Ludendorff then inquired in Constantinople and received the following answer von General von Lossow: [see Lossow's telegram above dated 16 November].

This view does not appear to be consistent with Report No. 703 [Doc. 1916-11-13-DE-001] from there. Request urgent statement by telegram.

[From Kuehlmann to the German Foreign Office (No. 1220), 21 November]

Consul in Smyrna sent a telegram on the 18th inst.: Armenian community reported about 30 people as being dangerous; those not named are to remain here or come back.

1The report is not in the file.
Doc. 1916-11-13-DE-001.

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