English :: en de
Home: www.armenocide.net
Link: http://www.armenocide.net/armenocide/armgende.nsf/$$AllDocs/1916-07-22-DE-002
Source: DE/PA-AA/R14092
Central register: 1916-A-19989
Edition: Genocide 1915/16
Date of entry in central register: 07/28/1916 p.m.
Embassy/consular serial number: Nr. 409
Translated by: (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 03/23/2012

From the Ambassador on Extraordinary Mission in Constantinople (Wolff-Metternich) to the Reichskanzler (Bethmann Hollweg)


No. 409
Therapia, 22 July 1916

Respectfully sent in transcript to His Excellency Reichskanzler von Bethmann Hollweg.

P. Metternich



Information received from the American Chargé d'Affaires.

[The enclosure is an almost word-for-word translation of the enclosure to Doc. 1916-06-29-DE-001. It is not from Beatrice Rohner herself, but from an intermediary agent who made the journey. A few omissions have been added subsequently and identified by means of square brackets and italics.]

The journey report of our Committee Members.

On the 20th of April I arrived at Meskené and found there 3500 deported Armenians, and more than 100 orphans. A part of the people have settled here as bakers und butchers, etc. even though Meskené is but a halting place. All the rest are begging. In every tent are sick and dying. Anyone who cannot manage to get a piece of bread by begging, eats grass raw and without salt. Many hundreds of the sick are left without any tent covering, in the open, under the glowing sun. I saw desperate ones throw themselves in grave-trenches and beg the grave-diggers to bury them. The Government does not give the hungry any bread, and no tent to those who remain outside. As I was in Meskené, there came a caravan of sick women and children from Bab. They are in an indescribable condition. They were thrown down from the wagons like dogs. They cried for water, they were given each a piece of dry bread, and were left there. No one gave them any water though they remained a whole day under the hot sun. We had to work the whole night long to ameliorate their condition a little. Among the orphans there was a small boy of four years old. It was early in the morning and I asked him if he had eaten anything. He looked much amazed, and said, “I have always gazed at the stars, and my dear God has satisfied me.” On my questioning him where his father and mother were, he said simply that they were dead in the desert.

In Meskené I gathered one hundred children under a tent. I had their hair cut and their rags washed. They received daily some bread and some soup. As I had to go further, I sought someone to care for the orphans. I found a young widow from Hadjin, who asked me if she might take the children under her care. She belonged to a good family and had received a high education. She gave herself with an intense love to the children-work. Ten days after my departure they had sent the woman with the one hundred children South. I found her a few weeks later in Sepka clothed in rags, she had lost her wits and wandered about the place asking everyone, “Where are my children? - What have you done with my children?” [She looks for skulls and bones and shows them to those passing by. When someone gives her ten pfennigs, she buys bread, tries a bit of it and then brings it quickly to someone who is even more hungry than she is. Ten days after I left she was sent to the south with the 100 children.] When she had reached Abu Hara she had spent all of her money and was destitute. The children were scattered, - a prey to hunger. In Der Zor I found two of them, the only survivors, they said that all the rest had perished.

In Meskené I saw more than 600 deported who had lived in Muara till now and who had spent a pitiful sojourn of nine months there. They were now once more persecuted and sent to different places. Slowly and exhausted they came on with their possessions on their backs. As nourishment, they cook grass, press the water out, and make balls which they dry in the sun.

On the first of May, I came to Debsy where I found the above mentioned six hundred deported, all in despair. They had not even been allowed to rest once or even to gather grass but had been cruelly driven on. On the way I found people dying everywhere, exhausted from hunger and thirst. They had remained behind the caravan and must perish so painfully. Every few minutes came a death stench. The gendarmes beat these stragglers saying that they pretend to be tired. In Debsy there are 3000 deported. In Abu Hara 6000. In both places the death is one per cent daily.

In Hama I found 7000 deported, three thousand of them hungry and practically naked. Here there is no grass, the locusts have consumed everything. I saw the people were gathering locusts and eating them raw or coked. Others were looking for the roots of grasses. They catch street dogs and like savages pounce upon dead animals whose flesh they eat eagerly without cooking. They showed me how they bury the dead, shallow near the tents.

In Rakka only there are 15000 deported in tents. The camp is situated on both the banks of the Euphrates but these people are not allowed to enter the city. Rich people are paying from Lt.30 – 40 to get a permission from those in authority to live for a length of time in the city. Everywhere the same lamentable pictures repeat themselves.

In Sepka there are 1500 persons who have bought the privilege of establishing themselves there. The rest, 6000, remain in camp on the banks of the Euphrates. There is great misery here. Some in despair, throw themselves into the river. In each deportation from one place to another, at least five to six perish through the wild mishandling of the accompanying gendarmery. They expect to extract money from the poor and revenge with heavy blows when they receive nothing. Many are transported on boats in the Euphrates.

In Tibne I found 5000 - everywhere we met caravans of deportees. [We meet convoys of deportees everywhere; entire convoys are even transported in barges on the Euphrates River.] In every Arabian village there are some families, in every Arabian house young women and girls. [I finally reached Der Zor and found approx. 15,000 deportees.] Here the government is giving 150 gr. of bread to every poor person daily. Children and grownups search among the garbage heaps for food and whatever is chewable is eaten. At the butchers shops people wait eagerly for scraps.

Of every fifty persons who come from Rakka or Sepka on boats, 20 arrive, often even less. At the time of my arrival the government had gathered 200 orphans in a house in Der Zor. At my departure (six weeks later) there were 800. They get daily a little bread and some soup. In the meantime came 12000 deported to Der Zor. Everyday we see caravans going in the direction of Mossoul. Nevertheless at my departure there were at Der Zor and in the surroundings over 30000 Armenians. Those who have their means are getting permission to delay. [Investigations showed that 4 – 50 Turkish pounds were given for one note.] The rest must proceed further. The deportees are especially badly treated in the region of Der Zor. The people are driven back and forward with whip blow and cannot even take their most urgent necessities. On my return I met new caravans everywhere. The people have the appearance of lost men. We often see a whole row of ghastly forms, raising suddenly out of a grave and asking for some bread and water. They have all dug their grave and lie waiting death. People of better standing who cannot make up their minds to beg for a piece of bread lie, when exhausted, on their beds, till death comes to release them. No one looks after them. In Sepka a preacher from Aintab told me that parents have often killed their children. At the Government investigation it was shown that some people had eaten their children. It has happened that dying have been fought over in order to secure their flesh for food.

Another report from the region of Meadine and Ana South of Der Zor where there are thousands of deported will be sent by the next mail. Our messenger returned to Aleppo on the 20th June. On the 26th he was again on a journey to the South.

Beatrice Rohner

Copyright © 1995-2018 Wolfgang & Sigrid Gust (Ed.): www.armenocide.net A Documentation of the Armenian Genocide in World War I. All rights reserved