As the Imperial Consul in Smyrna has reported, the authorities there have begun with the deportation of the Armenian population. This was brought about by the circumstance that allegedly, a few weeks ago, some old bombs and other similar material were found in the Catholic cemetery which were said to have been hidden there by Armenians. Consequently, the Vali demanded of the Armenian Bishop, namely his congregation, that they name the suspected persons and surrender any weapons they still had in their possession. However, the Bishop explained that no such persons were known to him and that there were no weapons still hidden.
As a result of this, on the 8th inst., a number of arrests were made and the next day 300 Armenians were deported by train, irrespective of age and gender. Other transportations are to follow. The deportation is being organised by the Chief of Police in Smyrna, to whom the Vali has given a free hand.
Marshall Liman von Sanders, who is at present in Smyrna, has pointed out to the Vali that these mass deportations are damaging as far as military considerations are involved and he would therefore not tolerate any more arrests and deportations.
The Vali has declared for his own justification that the Young Turkish Committee in Smyrna was becoming more and more dissatisfied with his leniency towards the Armenians and therefore his position in Constantinople was shaken. The orders for the expulsion of the Armenians had come from Constantinople.
In this respect, please allow me to refer to a previously submitted editorial from the Teswiri Efkiar dated 6 October of this year, demanding the deportation of the Armenians from the towns and urban districts, in which their stay had been tolerated up to now.
I regard it as quite out of the question that this order can be rescinded by protests to the Sublime Porte and must fear that in the not too distant future they will also begin with the deportation of the local Armenians here.
Subsequently I received a letter from Marshall Liman von Sanders dated 12th inst., enclosing a report by Count Spee dated 11th inst.
The Marshall writes as follows, "As mass deportations of this kind encroach upon military matters - conscripts, use of the railway, health matters, unrest amongst the population in a town near to the enemy lines, etc. - I therefore advised the Vali that, without my approval, such mass arrests and deportations may no longer be carried out. I made it understood to the Vali that in the case of repetitions, I would give orders for them to be prevented by armed force.
As a result, the Vali gave in and confirmed to me that they would be discontinued.
But since he maintains that he received his orders from Constantinople (Talaat Bey), I am rather uncertain that perhaps only other ways may be chosen.
As far as I could make out, the number of Armenians living in Smyrna is about 6 – 7000, including the richest people in the town, but also individual bad characters."
I would like to add the following to the note from Count Spee: apart from the violation of the law and the unforeseeable consequences for the victims, the whole matter is of great repercussion for German interests, i.e. the German reputation.
These measures were taken by the government at a time in which, apart from the commander of the German corps, the supreme commander, Marshal Liman von Sanders, was also present in Smyrna. A rumour is going around the town that the scheduled procedure has been planned by the Germans so that in this way they can get rid of their Armenian competitors who were troublesome for their trade.
Materially speaking, there will be direct damage as, in fact, the Armenian merchants have been buying German goods in vast quantities, which have partly not yet been paid for. According to the new law pertaining to abandoned possessions, the goods still withheld by the Armenians will no doubt be used by the bad Turkish elements as an opportunity to take possession of these goods and of the considerable fortunes of the Armenians at the same time. And all this under the shabby pretext that the Germans are the ones who did it.
The Christian people, who have more or less grown up under French and English influence, are not particularly reluctant to hear this news, not to mention at all the subjects of the enemy states who sympathise with the American Consul and whose reports on all this will be correspondingly biased.”