1915-07-07-DE-001
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Source: DE/PA-AA/R14086
Publication: DuA Dok. 106 (gk.)
Central register: 1915-A-21257
Edition: Genocide 1915/16
Date of entry in central register: 07/12/1915 p.m.
Embassy/consular serial number: No. 433
Translated by: Linda Struck (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 04/22/2012


From the Ambassador in Constantinople (Wangenheim) to the Reichskanzler (Bethmann Hollweg)

Report



No. 433
Pera, 7 July 1915

1 Enclosure

The expulsion and relocation of the Armenian people was limited until 14 days ago to the provinces nearest to the eastern theatre of war and to certain areas in the province of Adana; since then the Porte has resolved to extend these measures also to the provinces of Trebizond, Mamuret-ul-Aziz and Sivas and has begun with these measures even though these parts of the country are not threatened by any enemy invasion for the time being.

This situation and the way in which the relocation is being carried out shows that the government is indeed pursuing its purpose of eradicating the Armenian race from the Turkish Empire.

In this respect I would like to add the following to my previous reports:

On 26 June, according to reports by the Imperial Consul in Trebizond, the Armenians in that area were ordered to depart within five days; their possessions were to remain behind under the supervision of the authorities. Only the sick were excepted; later an exception was granted for widows, orphans, old people and children under the age of five years, also for the sick and for Catholic Armenians. According to the latest reports, however, most of the exceptions were revoked once again, and only children and those who were not transportable remained behind; the latter were brought into hospitals.

Altogether, this involved about 30,000 people in the Vilayet of Trebizond alone who were to be deported via Erzindjan to Mesopotamia. A mass transportation of this kind to a destination many hundreds of kilometres away, without sufficient means of transport, through areas that offer neither accommodation nor food and which are infested with epidemic diseases, in particular by typhus fever, is bound to claim numerous victims, in particular amongst the women and children. Besides this, the route for the deportees led through the Kurd district of Dersim, and the Vali of Trebizond made an open declaration to the Consul, who had pointed such observations out to him at my instructions, that he could only guarantee the safety of the transport as far as Erzindjan. From that point onwards, they are letting the deportees practically run the gauntlet through bands of Kurds and other highwaymen. For example, the Armenians who had been expelled from the plain of Erzurum were ambushed on the way to Harput whereby the men and children were butchered and the women carried away. The Imperial Consul in Erzurum claims the number of Armenians killed there to be 3,000.

In Trebizond, masses of Armenians have converted to Islam in order to avoid the threatened deportation and to save themselves and their belongings.

Apart from the material damage incurred by the Turkish state as a result of the deportation and expropriation of a hard-working and intelligent element of the population, for which the Kurds and Turks who are preliminarily taking their places do not constitute worthy substitutes, our trade interests and the interests of the German welfare institutions existing in those parts of the country are also being severely damaged.

Furthermore, the Porte does not realise the effect that these and other enforced measures, such as the mass executions here and in the country’s interior, are having on public opinion abroad and the further consequences for the treatment of the Armenian question in future peace talks.

In order to effectively counteract any possible later invectives on the part of our enemies, as if we were jointly to blame for the rigorous Turkish actions, I have considered it my duty to point out to the Porte that we can only approve of the deportation of the Armenian people if it is carried out as a result of military considerations and serves as a security against revolts, but that in carrying out these measures one should provide protection for the deportees against plundering and butchery. In order to lend the necessary weight to these objections, I have summarised them in the form of a memorandum which I have personally handed to the Grand Vizier on 4th inst.; I later sent copies of this memorandum to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of the Interior.


Wangenheim


Enclosure

Copy

Memorandum.

Handed by the German Embassy in Pera to the Grand Vizier on 4./7. 15. [Hand-written note by Rosenberg.]

Les mesures de répression décrétées par le Gouvernement Impérial contre la population arménienne des provinces de l'Anatolie Orientale ayant été dictées par des raisons militaires et constituant un moyen de défense légitime, le Gouvernement Allemand est loin de s'opposer à leur mise en exécution, tant que ces mesures ont le but de fortifier la situation intérieure de la Turquie et de la mettre à l'abri de tentatives d'insurrections.

A ce sujet, les vues du Gouvernement Allemand s'accordent tout à fait avec les explications données par la Sublime Porte en réponse aux menaces que les puissances de l'entente lui avaient adressées dernièrement à la suite des prétendues atrocités commises sur les Armeniens en Turquie.

De l'autre coté, le Gouvernement Allemand ne peut pas se dissimuler les dangers crées par ces mesures de rigueur et notamment par les expatriations en masse qui comprennent indistinctement les coupables et les innocents, surtout quand ces mesures sont accompagnées d'actes de violence, tels que massacres et pillages.

Malheureusement, d'après les informations parvenues à l'Ambassade, les autorités locales n'ont pas été en état d’empêcher des incidents de ce genre, qui sont regrettables sous tous les rapports.

Les puissances ennemies en profiteront pour fomenter l'agitation parmi les Arméniens et les nouvelles qu'on en répandra à l'étranger, ne manqueront pas de causer une vive émotion dans les pays neutres, surtout dans les Etats-Unis d’Amérique, dont les représentants ont depuis quelque temps commencé à s'intéresser au sort des Arméniens en Turquie.

Le Gouvernement Allemand croit de son devoir, comme puissance amie et alliée de la Turquie, d'attirer l'attention de la Sublime Porte sur les conséquences qui en pourraient résulter au détriment de leurs intérêts communs tant pendant la guerre actuelle qu'à l'avenir; il est à prévoir que lors de la conclusion de la paix la question arménienne servira de nouveau de prétexte aux puissances étrangères pour s'ingérer dans les affaires internes de la Turquie.

L'Ambassade pense qu'il serait d'urgence de donner des ordres péremptoires aux autorités provinciales afin qu'elles prennent des mesures efficaces pour sauvegarder la vie et la propriété des Armeniens expatriés, aussi bien pendant leur transport que dans leurs nouveaux domiciles;

elle pense également qu'il serait prudent de surseoir, pour le moment, à l’exécution des arrêts de mort déjà rendus ou à rendre contre des Arméniens par les cours martiales de la capitale ou dans les provinces, surtout à Diarbékir et à Adana;

enfin l'Ambassade d'Allemagne prie le Gouvernement Ottoman de prendre en considération les nombreux intérêts du commerce allemand et des établissements de bienfaisance allemands dans les provinces ou on procède actuellement à l'expulsion des Arméniens. Le départ précipité de ces derniers portant un grave préjudice a ces intérêts, l'Ambassade verrait avec reconnaissance, si la Sublime Porte voulait bien, dans certains cas, prolonger les délais de départ accordés aux expulsés et permettre à ceux qui font partie du personnel des établissements de bienfaisance en question, ainsi qu'aux élèves, orphélins et autres personnes qui y sont entretenus, de continuer à habiter dans leurs anciens domiciles sauf, bien entendu, le cas où ils auraient été reconnus coupables d'actes qui nécessiteraient leur éloignement.


[Translation of the Memorandum by George Shirinian]

The measures of repression enacted by the Imperial Government against the Armenian population in the provinces of Eastern Anatolia, having been dictated for military reasons and consisting of a means of legitimate defense, the German Government is far from opposing their execution, as long as these measures have the goal of fortifying the internal situation of Turkey and sheltering it from efforts at insurrection.

On this subject, the views of the German Government coincide completely with the explanations given by the Sublime Port in response to threats from the Allied Powers that were addressed to it recently following the atrocities committed on the Armenians in Turkey.

On the other hand, the German Government can not ignore the dangers created by these rigorous measures and particularly the mass deportations that involve indiscriminately the blameworthy and the innocent, especially when these measures are accompanied by acts of violence, such as massacres and looting.

Unfortunately, according to the information reaching the Embassy, the local authorities have not been able to stop incidents of this type, which are regrettable in every respect.

The enemy forces are profiting from them to aggravate the situation among the Armenians and the news that will be spread abroad will not fail to cause high emotion amongst neutral countries, especially in the United States of America, whose representatives have, for some time, begun to take interest in the Armenians in Turkey.

The German Government believes in its duty, as a friendly power and ally of Turkey, to bring to the attention of the Sublime Port the consequences that could result to the detriment of their common interests both during the actual war and in the future. It is foreseeable that during the conclusion of peace the Armenian question will serve once again as a pretext for the foreign powers to involve themselves in the internal affairs of Turkey.

The Embassy believes it is urgent to give orders quickly to the provincial authorities so that they take the necessary steps in order to protect the lives and possessions of the deported Armenians, as well as for transport to their new homes.

It also believes that it would be wise to postpone, for the time being, the execution of the “death stops” already put in place or to be put in place against the Armenians by the courts martial in the capital or in the provinces, especially Diarbekir and Adana.

Finally, the German Embassy begs the Ottoman Government to take into consideration its numerous interests in German commerce and the German welfare organizations in the provinces where the expulsion of the Armenians is now taking place. The forced departure of the latter prejudicing its interests greatly, the Embassy thinks it fit, should the Sublime Port approve, in certain cases, to extend the delay of the departure of the deported and to allow those who are part of the welfare organization personnel in question, as well as students, orphans, and other persons who are part of this, to continue to live in their old homes except, it is understood, in cases where they are known to have committed acts which necessitate their deportation.



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