1916-01-03-DE-002
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Source: DE/PA-AA/R14090
Publication: DuA Dok. 226 (re. gk.)
Central register: 1916-A-02888
Edition: Genocide 1915/16
Date of entry in central register: 02/01/1916 a.m.
Embassy/consular serial number: No. 16/K.No. 2
Translated by: Linda Struck (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 04/22/2012


From the Consul in Aleppo (Roessler) to the Reichskanzler (Bethmann Hollweg)

Report



No. 16 / K.No. 2
Aleppo, 3 January 1916

2 Enclosures

Your Excellency, I herewith present to you the following news concerning the deportation of the Armenians.

1) Copy of a report from Urfa by Deacon Kuenzler on occurrences there since the beginning of August up to the beginning of December. Even though it is true that the report tends to repeat some facts which are already known, it is worth repeating. In particular, it becomes clear from this report that between 500 and 1000 Armenians had already been slaughtered before the battles began at the beginning of October, i.e. 100 in the town, several hundred of a workers’ battalion in the north of the town and 400 of a workers’ battalion in the south of the town, apart from those already deported beforehand and murdered on the way to Diyarbekir. New is also what he has to report on the fate of the town after its being overpowered.

2) Copy of a report by the engineer Bastendorff, who, during the decisive events, was employed for several weeks in Ras-ul-Ain and Tell Abiad to work on the Baghdad rail line and whose credibility is no doubt the very best. His oral reports were even more horrifying. At any rate, the written report also contains enough facts to permit an insight into the deliberate and intentional destruction of the deportees by Turkish state organs. The account by the Armenians, which is told over and over again, that the convoys full of exiles were deliberately driven backwards and forwards in order to ”run them to death” is confirmed in this report by just one example. One group of deportees from Urfa was forced to take the following route:

From Urfa to Tell-Abiad,
from Tell-Abiad to Rakka,
from Rakka to Tell-Abiad,
from Tell-Abiad to Rakka.

The distance from Tell-Abiad to Rakka is about 90 kms as the crow flies.

3) The fact that has already been related frequently and just been confirmed once again, that the governmental organs have ordered and encouraged people to participate in the persecution of the Armenians, can be discounted in as far as Djemal Pasha, the highest commanding officer in the 4th Army Division, was not personally in favour of destroying the Armenians. His willpower was not strong enough to put a stop to it all, but it is a relief to be able to note a conciliatory gesture just once within this appalling picture. The Armenian assembly camp in Islahiye, despite being defended by German engineers, was subject to 6 weeks of raids by Kurds, during which even women and children were butchered to death. When Djemal Pasha finally got through and was informed about this, he sent in his 12 bodyguards. These took immediate forceful action against the Kurds and took some of them captive. Subsequently they were hanged.

If the conditions among the ranks of the 4th Army, although they are bad enough, still cannot compare with those of the 3rd Army, then, besides the differences caused by the geographical and political situation as well as by the varying conditions of the communication routes, the influence of Djemal Pasha can also be taken into account.

4) While I used to report frequently that the bodies of the Armenians remained unburied and thus became the victims of animals of prey, according to the latest reports I have received by word of mouth, there can be no longer any doubt that even those Armenians who were still alive, but who were camping in the open air in a state of disease and exhaustion and were not being cared for by anyone, were bitten by dogs.

Testimony of this has been given by an elderly German engineer who is absolutely trustworthy. He was stationed in Arab Punar and was in charge of the section between there and Harab Nass. This fact was observed not only by himself, but also by his native employees. His name can be provided on request.

The stench of the corpses in the area between these two stations was so strong that he had to mask his face several times when passing along there on horseback.

This same report is being dispatched to the Imperial Embassy.


Roessler

Enclosure 1


Copy

Urfa, 5 December 1915.

I presume that you have been fully informed of most of the occurrences in this area since August. However, I would still like to repeat certain things. Perhaps there are some facts among them that you still do not know.

At the beginning of August, two Beys arrived from Diyarbekir. Immediately following this began the deportation to their deaths of those Armenians who had already been held prisoner for a long time, including our pharmacist Abraham. On 15 August, a new search for young Armenians began, allegedly to enrol them for military service. On the 19th, a policeman was ambushed during a house search, at 3 in the afternoon: the other policemen escaped to the Muslim district and reported the incident to the authorities. Chalil and Ahmed Bey, the two mentioned above, gave the order to begin a massacre. By evening about 100 Armenians had fallen. The next day about 100 Armenians from the work battalion were brutally murdered about 1 ½ hours to the north of Urfa. A day later, 400 from a work battalion who were working in the south. Since 19 August, things have been quiet, but the Armenians are staying in their homes. On 29 September, the police started looking for the young Armenians who had fired shots from their houses the previous night. Here, they in turn were fired at. Anyone who was able to flee, did so. Those Armenians who happened to be on the market were slaughtered, but since 19 August only very few have dared to come out to go to the market, etc. By that evening, the Armenian quarter was already barred for Muslims. Then began the siege, which was doomed to end bitterly for the Armenians. On 16 October, most of the Armenians who were in no way involved in the conspiracy, in particular women and children, gave themselves up. Those men who had surrendered were murdered, some were hanged. The women and children were gradually deported to the south. The search for the remaining Armenians who had not surrendered, but who had gone into hiding in wells, etc., took quite a long while, in fact up to the middle of November.

At the beginning, they allowed the bakers, who were not involved in the revolution, to stay alive and work in their shops, but on 20 November, they too were removed from there, were led out of the town and then brutally killed.

The few Armenians who had taken the dubious course of showing the Turks the way to the hiding places were allowed to remain with their families in Urfa. The pharmacist Karekin was also allowed to stay, but such people were now more or less forced to become Muslims. Today, our pharmacist was strongly recommended to at least take on a Muslim name if he wanted to stay. Probably our doctor has received the same advice, too.

The people of the only Christian village that was completely uninvolved in the revolution, Garmudj, were also deported last week! Very sad indeed!

I often think, if only someone from here could get through to Rakka, Der-el-Zor, etc., to help the rest of the survivors of the deportations. But I am sure that the government would not permit any help on our part. So we have no choice but to simply let these people, with all their good and bad sides, perish.


[Jakob Kuenzler]


Enclosure 2

Copy:

Aleppo, 18 December 1915.

Dear Consul Roessler,

At your request I would like to deliver a short outline of what I have either observed in Ras-ul-Ain and Tell-Abiad, concerning the martyrdom of the Armenians, or what I have heard from reliable direct sources.

My observations begin in Ras-ul-Ain. At the beginning of June, the first news was spread about the massacres on the Russian and Persian borders. When the workers on the Baghdad Railway were collecting their wages on 12 June, 6 gendarmes suddenly appeared, as well as about 12 Circassians, and ordered all Armenians to be brought to the Kaymakam. During a remonstrance presentation to the Kaymakam, together with Fehmi Bey and Durri Bey, both employees of the Railway Company, the Kaymakam declared that he had not given any order for the Armenians to be arrested and commanded them to return to their work. But prior to this, they had been plundered. I later learned from older policemen that the Kaymakam had taken his share of the loot. As I had been informed by various Muslims from Ras-ul-Ain that there would be yet another arrest of those Armenians whom the Kaymakam, himself, intimidated and only by our forceful interventions, had previously released, and that the second time the Armenians would not escape death, I arranged for all Christian workers to be brought back to Urfa.

At the beginning of July, the first Armenian deportee convoys arrived from the Russian and Persian borders. There were women and children who had been plundered during the journey by Kurds and left without any means whatsoever. They were assembled by the lake without a roof over their heads. It took 6 days until the government provided any food. Every day new deportee convoys arrived and the number of emigrants in Ras-ul-Ain increased to more than 10000 within a very short space of time. In the meantime, the second stage of deportations began in the direction of Der-el-Zor. The Circassians and Arabs from Ras-ul-Ain took the prettiest girls home with them, many of them had already been retained by the Kurds during the journey. The policemen carried on a flourishing trade with the girls: against payment of a few Medjidies, anyone could take the girl of his choice either for a short while or forever.

The supervisor over the Armenians in Ras-ul-Ain, a certain Nuri Schauch, even declared in the presence of our doctor Farah, that it always gave him great pleasure to deflower Armenian girls under the age of 12 years.

I must also mention one particular scene that I experienced at the station in Ras-ul-Ain. A train full of soldiers arrived. About 10 of the men were weak and ill. An Armenian doctor, who was treating them himself, declared them to be too exhausted and that it would be recommended to send those who were ill to Aleppo for a week for convalescence. Then a Turkish doctor came up and grumbled that the patients were just being lazy and that the Armenian only wanted to ruin the Turkish state. The army commander took his whip to the Armenian doctor and then ordered him to be tied up and brought to Aleppo.

In September I arrived in Tell Abiad. There, the soldiers who supervised the railway had murdered and plundered all the Armenians who had settled near the railway. Immediately before my arrival, the Kaymakam had assembled about 3000 women and children, who came from the area around Amasia, and put them in a house near the station. These people, who had been on the move for 4 to 5 months, were suffering from hunger, dysentery and typhoid fever. Neither bread nor any other food had been supplied by the Kaymakam. Whoever had been lucky enough to hide some money on himself in such a way that it had not been stolen on the journey, had the opportunity of buying some bread from a bakery. All the others who had been robbed of all their money were doomed to starve to death. About 1000 died within one month. This khan presented the most deplorable picture: all the starving people, near death, the ground covered in human excrement. The Kaymakam actually declared one day, ”My heart is not as sensitive as that of the Europeans; it doesn’t bother me to watch these people dying.”

Understandably, typhoid fever spread to the ranks of the railway staff and, in answer to complaints by the Railway Company’s management, the khan was dissolved and the Armenians were transported to Ain-el-Arus which was 5 km away. More than a thousand of them were so weak that cart and mule had to be requisitioned to transport them. The remainder of them died later in Ain-el-Arus.

In November the women's groups arrived from Urfa. One woman who recognised me again begged me to rescue her children. The supervisor pushed her back and shouted to her, ”No one is going to be rescued here; you’ve got to walk until you drop dead. And wherever you may happen to end, the dogs will eat you.” Soldiers from Hama, who were accompanying this group, demanded that the supervisor arrange for some bread, as the women had already been on the move for two days. His answer was merely, ”They can drop dead; they’re not getting anything to eat.” After a stay of several days in Tell-Abiad and Ain-el-Arus, this group was sent on to Rakka. From Rakka they were sent back to Tell-Abiad, as they were allegedly bound for Mosul. From Tell-Abiad they were then sent back to Rakka. In the meantime the nights had become bitterly cold which, of course, did the rest towards making another journey backwards and forwards superfluous.

Almost 10000 emigrants who arrived in Tell Abiad came in November and at the beginning of December from the direction of Urfa. In a conversation with the railway commander, Djemil Bey, and an inspector, Mahmud Bey, our doctor, Dr. Farah, asked to where all these Armenians were being transported. Djemil Bey answered, ”To Rakka.” Mahmud Bey, who personally disapproved of the way the Armenians were being treated, retorted, ”On the way to Rakka.”

All steps taken in respect of the Armenians, as far as I could see and observe, led to the conclusion described to me by the Director of Emigrants, Schuekri Bey, ”The final result must be the extermination of the Armenian race. It is the continual battle between the Muslims and the Armenians that is now being finally fought. The weaker of the two must be the one to go.”


[Bastendorff]


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