Brief Information on how the Armenians in Mamoret-ul-Aziz are faring
During that time we heard of deportations of the Armenian population from various areas, but things were still relatively quiet in our area until suddenly, on 1 May, some men were arrested, most of whom belonged to the upper class. (One of our teachers was also among them, but Mr. Ehmann managed to have him released after a few days.) House searches were carried out in various houses, because they were looking for revolutionary books and documents. (At that time, we heard that some had also been found.) Soon afterwards it was announced that all Armenians had to give up their weapons by a certain date. (These were weapons that, in most cases, individuals kept for protection in their homes or carried with them on journeys.) It must also be noted that permission had been given by the government to carry weapons. As far as I can remember, this announcement was made early on 15 June. The Armenian population was greatly agitated over this. Anyone who owned a weapon did not wish to give it up, because they feared the worst. A number of them were given up, but many were also hidden. For this reason, the government applied compulsory measures. Individual men were arrested, tormented and beaten. They were required to state who had weapons and where they were hidden. Several men already died at that time as a result of this torment. Entire villages were surrounded by soldiers; many of the male villagers were tied up and beaten in the most terrible way, because the authorities did not believe that all the weapons had been turned over. Many of them did then appear after such beatings; some bombs were also handed over. However, in those places where everything had been turned over the people were usually not left in peace. It was said that some of the Armenians who had no more weapons bought some so that their tormentors let them go after they handed these in. What individual persons and even entire villages suffered during that time cannot be expressed in words. We German brothers and sisters ourselves tried to urge the Armenians to hand over weapons, should they still have any hidden, because we hoped that these afflictions would then be over and the population would be left in the village. Mr. Ehmann himself travelled back and forth to the individual villages to urge the people not to hold anything back. He even received permission to visit the prison and persuade the individuals to turn everything over. During the entire time that weapons were being collected, men were continuously being put in prison. Often they were taken from their beds in the middle of the night. The whole time, young people from among the Armenians were also being conscripted as soldiers. But as I have already stated, no Armenian was sent to face the enemy at the front; rather, they were put to work. At that time, none of us knew what would become of these people. But we were not left in doubt for long.
It was probably about the middle of June when suddenly one morning we heard, "Last night a large number of the prisoners – I believe it was 600 men – were taken away from the prison. Where to go?" God only knows. Nothing was ever seen or heard from them again. Also, about the same time, crowds of young Armenians, who had been conscripted as soldiers to build roads, were taken to Mezré, penned into a building and held under constant guard. Several days later, they were led away by armed soldiers – 1,200 men in total. It was said that they were to build roads again. Apparently they really did work for several days in Maden, two days' journey from Mezré; then they were led further on to Diarbakir, bound together 4 and 4 or 5 and 5, and killed. On 23 June, another 300 men were taken away from the prison in the middle of the night. On the morning of the following day there was crying and great distress everywhere. The relatives, who had brought their next of kin food until then, found the prison - - empty. Where were the men? It cannot be assumed that even one of them is still alive. Escape was out of the question, because they had been bound together, and if they had escaped, then where to? There was simply no end to the chasing and tracking down. I am not capable of informing you of the details of all the horrors we experienced until about the end of June, but things were to become even worse.
On 24 June we celebrated the Lord's Supper with our people after the evening service, something we used to do often. What a service it was. No one could fight back the fearful thought that it was the last time. And it was really only two days later, on Saturday, 26 June, that it was announced that during the coming week the Armenian population had to leave the town. The next day, on Sunday, 27 June, we held the last service at our meeting place. Only crying and sobbing was to be heard.
During the following days, crowds of deported Armenians from the area around Erzurum passed through our town in an indescribable, terrible state. There were no men or grown-up sons among the crowds, and when the women were asked, where are your husbands, they answered, "killed". Now just imagine the horror of the people who also had to move out. Many of them looked to prayer and God's Word for strength on the terrible journey. During those days we had prayer sessions such as we had never experienced. Every morning at 8 a.m. our meeting room was full. Those were blessed days, in which many people met their God. Because the parish submitted thus to its God, we German brothers and sisters and also many of the Armenian Christians had hope that God would look and avert the afflictions; but when the set date arrived, we had to watch as 1,800 families had to leave our town, their homes and everything they loved within 2 days, take up their walking sticks and move out to meet a dark and dreadful future. It was said that they were to be taken to the area around Urfa. Mezré was deserted, the stores on the market square closed and, on the following Sunday, our meeting room almost empty.
Soon all sorts of news and rumours reached us. Along the road to Malatia a number of young and pretty women and girls were separated from the deported families and sent back to spend their wretched lives as wives of Turks. With the exception of some men who had been separated from the families in Isoli, the rest of them were taken to Malatia. All the men and grown-up sons were separated from the families there and put into prison. The crying children and women were penned into houses and assured that their husbands would be sent along a different route and that they would meet up with them again once they had reached their journey's goal. But the few women who reached a place where they could stay never received any signs of life from their husbands. The rumour reached us in Mezré that all of them had been killed near Malatia. Again on 6 July, large crowds of deportees from Keghi arrived in a deplorable state. You have to have seen these poor people yourself to know just how great their misery was. They were penned in for a while in some of the houses belonging to deported Armenians. In droves, most of them died of illness. Every morning the hearse drove past the houses and the dead were then piled on top of each other and driven away. Often, entire hordes of deportees were locked in right at the cemetery. They had to spend day and night among the graves until death, like a saving friend, ended their misery.
During the terrible weeks and months it sometimes appeared as if the government was actually trying to help somewhat. For example, orphanages were set up. One was quite close to us. The poor children lived in the greatest dirt and misery, screamed day and night, and died off like flies. We sisters at the orphanage often took turns cooking soups for the poor things. When we arrived with it, the screaming often became even louder, for their hunger was so great that everyone wanted to be the first to eat. One morning all of the children were gone. I do not know what happened to them; I saw some of them later on in a similar institution. It was said that the rest had been thrown into the water. I cannot say with certainty whether this is true, because I did not see it, but after everything I have seen I can believe it.
Very early one morning at the beginning of September, some master craftsmen, who had been allowed to stay during the great deportation because they had worked for the government since the beginning of the war, were pulled out of their beds, put in prison for several days and then led off and killed like all of their fellow sufferers. All of them were disposed of like sheep to be slaughtered, as none of them had even the smallest weapon in their possession with which they might have defended themselves.
Now there was hardly a single man to be found in Mezré, with the exception of a few craftsmen that the government could not spare, some of whom had become Mohammedans. But there was no end to the chasing and tracking down. Several miserable women and those that had remained behind from the people passing through still lived in the greatest wretchedness. And so they were hunted down. How one's heart could bleed when one saw these poor people staggering along in front of soldiers armed to the teeth. As far as I know, 4 November was the last time we experienced such a horrible day.
With the aforementioned I have attempted to give a small picture of what I experienced in Mezré last year. I could report in far more detail on individual matters and, should it be requested, I would be glad to do so.
On 7 March of this year I left Mezré. I do not know what has happened since that day, because our brothers and sisters there are unable to inform us of their experiences.