I have the honour of presenting Your Excellency the enclosed transcript of a record from an intermediate agent on a discussion with Salich Bey Gourdji. This is a report on the question of the persecution of the Armenians which Salich Bey Gourdji sent to Talaat Bey.
Gourdji reported the following to me from the contents of the report:
The persecution of the Armenians in Turkey, which obviously is meant to exterminate them, could be explained by Turkey's predicament, as anyone knowledgeable of the circumstances would unfortunately have to admit. If Turkey were ever to recover from the questions of inner policy, if it wanted to remain able to survive at all, it would have to eliminate the Armenians in some manner. The so-called Armenian question thus needed to be solved before Turkey could begin to consider a real inner re-organisation. But the path which the government now appeared to be taking, this path which appeared to be characterised by massacres and acts of violence, was completely wrong. Even if no other means could be found in the manner of taking action against the Armenians, the proprieties towards foreign countries definitely had to be different. It was not possible to pass over everything concerning Armenia in silence towards foreign countries; rather, these countries should be informed by means of such appropriate reports that the acts against the Armenians appeared to be carried out in a humane manner. There were sufficient reasons arising from the protection of the border against Russia to explain the deportation of the Armenians from Upper Armenia in the normal and plausible way under international law.
Most important, however, was that people in Constantinople consider the matter of action against the Armenians from the point of view that Germany's relations with the Vatican were of a very special nature and that Germany obviously placed great emphasis on avoiding any possibility of friction in this relationship. The pope was a factor in Germany's political evaluation. Thus, if only out of consideration for Germany, everything should be avoided which could induce the pope or, based on denunciations on the part of Germany's opponents, force him to take any sort of stand on the Armenian question and to speak out in protection of the beleaguered Christians in Turkey. Despite all the action against the Armenians, clever, informative action must be taken to ensure that such possibilities are not given any grounds and, particularly from the Turkish side, a good relationship with the pope must be emphasised. It would appear to be very helpful if the Turkish chamber thanked the pope for his charitable work which benefits all people equally, as Bethmann Hollweg did during the latest session of the Reichstag.
In any case, everything must be avoided which could make Germany's situation with the pope in the Armenian question more difficult. Efforts should also be made to prevent any further incitement abroad concerning Armenian massacres in good time, since Germany would also be in a particularly difficult situation in such a "question of atrocity", because it cannot simply disregard the "Christian" Armenians and, in any case, it had to be careful in matters of atrocity.
This was the gist of Gourdji's remarks, and his report seems to have made an impression in Constantinople. In addition, he emphasised that it would be highly desirable for Turkey to set up a diplomatic mission in Switzerland and that this could be justified based on the large number of Turks (Armenians and Greeks) residing in western Switzerland.