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Link: http://www.armenocide.net/armenocide/armgende.nsf/$$AllDocs/1915-09-06-DE-001
Source: DE/PA-AA/R14087
Central register: 1915-A-27840
Edition: Genocide 1915/16
Date of entry in central register: 09/24/1915 p.m.
Embassy/consular serial number: BN. 824/KN. 17
Translated by: Vera Draack (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 03/23/2012

From the Vice-Consul in Alexandretta (Hoffmann) to the Reichskanzler (Bethmann Hollweg)


BN. 824 / KN. 17
Alexandretta, September 6, 1915
The deportation of the Armenians living here was ordered on 1 August of this year and finished today.

Altogether about 1000 souls were gotten rid of from Alexandretta itself and about just as many again from Beylan, a little place 10 km further inland, and the mountain villages nearby.

At first, this clearing out was to be done "immediately". Accordingly, some of the Armenians were given a 3-day period, the rest eight days. The lack of transportation means, the non-appearance of supportive funds and the understanding of the local kaymakam have led, however, to a distribution of the deportation over a period of about 5 weeks.

A few wagons as well as horses and donkeys, which had been requisitioned from the Mohammedan population, served as transportation means for the greater part of the deportees.

The Armenians were allowed to sell their goods and chattels, but they could neither sell nor lease out nor let their property. They were allowed to sell crops, which had already been harvested, while the use of standing crops was officially leased out in favour of the public treasury. Obviously, it is being fabricated on the part of the government that the deportees will receive compensation of equal value at the place of relocation for that which was left behind.

Originally, the families of those Armenians who are presently serving in the army were expressly not exempted from the deportation. Later, at least in Alexandretta, they were, but not in the neighbouring town of Beylan and the mountain villages. The fact that they were not exempted was justified on the part of the government by the statement that all the Armenians had deserted. This is not only inconceivable, but actually untrue. It also appears that in those cases of desertion which have become known to me the deserters were first influenced to act contrary to their duty by the news of the imminent deportation of their relatives and by the refusal of home leave which they had applied for. Some of these deserters also returned to their troop after a short stay with their families. This fact was also taken into account in Alexandretta and Beylan as seen in the mild treatment of such cases. It was often limited to deporting the deserters without further ado together with their relatives.

All in all, the local authorities, especially Fatin Bey, the Kaymakam at the head of the local government, know how to carry out the orders they have received as leniently as possible without offending the state's interest on which these are founded. It was not the local authority's fault that there was little possibility here.

Only a very few exceptions to the deportation were granted. At times it appeared as if the exertions of the American consulate in Aleppo and the American embassy had ensured that the "Catholic Armenians" (70 – 80 souls) and later also the Protestant ones (40 – 50 in Alexandretta, in and around Beylan somewhat more) could stay. Later, it was ordered that these two categories also had to clear out from the coast, but they were allowed to choose the town in the interior where they wanted to stay.

The purpose of the deportation is supposedly a transplantation to the plateau south of Aleppo (Hama and Homs), where until now there has only been a sparse, Mohammedan, Arabic population. Remembering the thoughtlessness and clumsiness which the Turkish authorities displayed after the Balkan War in the settlement of Mohammedan refugees and which resulted in an enormous mortality among many such troops, it can be assumed without any further thought – and the Turkish authorities also assume this – that the mortality among the deported Armenians, especially those from the mountains, will be much higher. It can also be assumed without any further thought that our enemies will cast the shadow of this process on our country as well. However, this unpleasant side effect is not worth mentioning here.

On the other hand, it should be emphasised that the economic damage to the local area arising from the deportation of the local coastal Armenians will be much greater than any doubtful use this may have for Turkey's state interest.

The treasonable actions of the Armenians on the coast at Ladakije and Kassab (like those earlier near Dört Yol) and those suspected in Alexandretta were given as the reason for the deportation. In the meantime, it may be considered out of the question that the local Armenians could really use their anti-Turk and anti-German feelings to the detriment of Turkey in a manner which must be taken seriously if the authorities keep their eyes even half-way open. On the other hand, the suspicion held against the local mountain Armenians that they are supporting the deserters who are making the slopes of the Amanus Mountains unsafe is certainly founded to some extent. But the dangerousness of this entire question of deserters seems to be somewhat exaggerated.

On the other hand, as far as the danger to economic interests is concerned, the Armenian population in Alexandretta amounted only to 1/6 – 1/5 of the entire population (normally: 10-12000). This fraction, however, was distinguished for its active nature, skilfulness and industriousness, at least in comparison with the "fellahin" (Nuseiri) and Mohammedan-Turkish population, which makes up the majority of the remainder. As a result of the deportation of the Armenians, the most skilful craftsmen are missing today in Alexandretta. The town has no dentist, no watchmaker. The most useful among the (generally of lower quality) doctors, competent commercial employees, important merchants have left the town. Especially for a place as small as Alexandretta (as mentioned above, 10-12000 inhabitants, but now only about 4000), the loss of an economically so valuable and acclimatised part of the population represents perceptible economic damage because of the large economic tasks which this place will have to face shortly in connection with the Baghdad Railway. Although the undertaking of the large economic tasks mentioned (construction of a harbour, draining the land, construction of a railway connection to Aleppo and the large area behind it in the interior) will bring with it a large influx to fill the gaps that have now arisen, this influx will require a great deal of time to adapt to the local feverish climate (in his "Essay on the Agriculture of the Gulf of A.", published in 1907, Henri Goy calls Alexandretta a "deadly beach").

Mohammedan refugees are to be installed on the estates of the Armenian farmers who were deported. After the experiences made during the past few years with such refugees, it is very doubtful whether their industriousness will compete with that of their Armenian predecessors. Thus, the deportation of the Armenians will also have a negative effect in the agriculture of the area.


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