Today I received a visit from the Armenian Bishop, Mesrop, the former delegate of the Archbishopric of Tiflis, as I have already reported to Your Excellency elsewhere.
The bishop, an honourable man in his late fifties, was born in Dorpat and speaks German well. Constantly in mortal danger because of the Tartar gangs, he came by himself from Erivan to Tiflis on horseback across the mountains to request German assistance to save the remainder of the Armenian nation.
In moving words, the bishop described his nation’s fate. He genuinely tried to ease the misery and to help. During the first half of April, more than half a million Armenians abandoned their villages in the areas occupied and threatened by the Turks in panic and fled from the Turks. At present, they are gathered in the area around Erivan. Although some money has been raised to support them, they are unable to obtain anything to eat, even with hard cash. For weeks, many, many thousands have been surviving only on grass. It is a matter of course, that infectious diseases are raging and taking their toll on numerous victims among the half starving and destitute people.
Despite the Peace Treaty of Batum and the recognition of Armenia’s independence, the Turks have not withdrawn from the Armenian area and, in particular, they are allowing neither the National Council, situated in Tiflis, nor the refugees in Georgia to return to their home. As the National Council has no contact with Armenia, it cannot fulfil its administrative duties.
The harvest will be ripe in a few days. It is supposed to be good, especially in the area between Sardarabad-Igduer and Darvala. If, however, the Armenian farmers are not permitted within the shortest time possible to return to their home then the harvest will be lost. The Armenians must then either die of hunger or the burden will be placed on the Central powers to feed them.
About 14000 Armenians between the ages of 17 and 60 are said to have been pressed into labour service by the Turks. According to a statement by the bishop, they are suffering the greatest misery. Despite the hard work, each Armenian is given only one piece of Turkish hard bread (about 200 grams) every day. The bishop has appealed to the magnanimity of His Majesty the Emperor and the German government in the name of the Armenian nation and in his capacity as the priest in a Christian church. Only Germany is in a position to force Turkey to desist from its criminal plan to systematically starve the small remainder of the Armenian nation.
Germany must be aware of the fact that, in history, it must bear the responsibility if it does not use its power to protect a Christian nation from extermination by the Mohammedans.
I would ask Your Excellency for permission to voice my personal opinion that, after all the numerous messages and reports which I have received here, there can hardly be any doubt that the Turks are systematically intent on exterminating the few hundred thousand Armenians that they have left alive until now by systematically starving them.
It is not for me to point out the duties to Your Excellency, which Germany as a Christian nation must fulfil towards the Christian Armenians, nor the impression which will be made on our public opinion and the entire Christian world if we do not save the Armenians from destruction. I would like, however, to direct Your Excellency’s attention to the fact that our reputation in the Caucasus and the surrounding areas will suffer great damage, and the implementation of the economic and political programme which we are pursuing will be extremely difficult if we do not manage to protect the Armenians from the Turks.
We will be decidedly reproached for our lack of good will, or it will be assumed that we do not have the strength and the power to bend the Turks to our way of thinking. We would make irreconcilable enemies of the numerous Georgians of Armenian descent who, because of their great wealth, are very influential, and we would give our opponents an especially effective means of propaganda against us.
Thus, I request both urgently and obediently of Your Excellency that firm pressure be put on the Turkish government as quickly as possible, using all available measures, so that it pulls its troops out of Armenia, permits those Armenians who have fled to return to their homes, ensures that the Armenians can harvest their crops without being hindered or having their lives and possessions endangered, and that those Armenians who were pressed into labour service be released to return to their homes immediately.