Copy [Copy presented by Metternich on 17. 9. (No. 566) to the Foreign Office.]
This is a report by a German officer on the present situation of the deportation of the Armenians in the Euphrates area. He has just returned from there and is very familiar with the conditions along the same route from earlier journeys. He reports as follows:
The road from Aleppo to Der-el-Zor (which the deportation convoys have been using for many months) now presents a different picture: it has become relatively quiet. It is true that at the stations closest to Aleppo there are still fairly large Armenians camps. But further to the south, away from Meskené, the camps are significantly reduced. Of the largest stations, Sabcha has been completely emptied and Der-el-Zor only has a few hundred craftsmen left who were working for the troops, whereas at the latter place only 8 weeks ago many thousands (estimated by another side as being 20000) were still in the camp. The spiritual leaders such as teachers, lawyers, clergymen are said to have been taken recently from the camps and imprisoned in government buildings (most likely prisons). The others - also those who had actually begun really to settle in the more northerly stations - had disappeared. The official version was that they had been sent on to Mosul (i.e. a route along which very few of them had any chance of reaching their destination alive), but according to the general opinion of the people they had been murdered in the small valleys to the south-east of Der-el-Zor, on the strip between the Euphrates and Chabur rivers. The Armenians are said to have been led away in groups of a few hundred at a time and butchered to death by Circassians who had been especially commissioned to do so. These details were confirmed to the officer by an Arab eye-witness who had just got back from a scene of this kind to which his curiosity had led him. The man made a trustworthy impression on the officer. In his description, the details of which I am not going to relate, he mentioned that at present there were still three hundred Armenians at the place he had visited, just awaiting their slaughter. It was the turn of half of them that same afternoon, for the rest their time came in the night. The man added in recognition: Germany was indeed very strong! In former times, the Turks would never have dared to wipe out a people like this.
Many Armenians had gone into hiding in the homes of Arabs. The gendarmerie has been ordered to search for them in regular manhunts. Those hunted down are to be loaded into barges on the Euphrates and brought to Der-el-Zor.
According to my informant, the nomads have left that corner between the Euphrates and the Chabur, supposedly because of the activities described.
Deportation of citizens of Aleppo
In Aleppo the deportation of the “non-resident“ Armenians has not yet been effected on a large scale. In any case about 800 have fallen victim to this so far. People are being picked up in the streets ruthlessly. For example, the above-mentioned German officer met an acquaintance from Aleppo on the road in a group of 50 people in slippers and housecoats without any baggage at all; he had been picked up while shopping on the market, put into a collection camp and then deported.
Dissolution of the orphanages.
Even for the local orphanages in which the orphans of deportees have been collected, the final hour, with which they have continually been threatened, now seems to have come. It is a well-known fact that the orphanages have been run by European (Swiss and German) and American aid relief and by Armenian clergymen and (one with over 800 orphans) Sisters of the German Aid Fund for Evangelical Acts of Charity. Now the local government has appointed a special commissioner for these orphanages who is to supervise the transfer to Turkish administration. According to surreptitiously made enquiries, this procedure is to commence according to the following principles:
Boys over 13 years of age are to be deported, the girls over 13 to be married off (to Muslims of course). Because they are under the influence of what they have experienced, children between the ages of 10 and 13 are to be separated from the younger ones and placed in purely Turkish orphanages where they are to learn a craft. Children under 10 will be brought up in special orphanages. In other words: The boys over 13 will be murdered, the girls of this age put into harems - a particularly pretty 12-year old girl has just been removed from the orphanage next to the Consulate under threats of reprisals against relatives living here and forced to marry a 70-year old Pasha, well-known in the town - the smaller children introduced to Islam, provided they survive the Turkish orphanage administration.
Mass conversions to Islam.
According to unanimous reports, during the past few weeks in Hama, Homs, Damascus etc. the deportees have been forced in masses to convert to Islam by threatening them with further deportation. This is a purely bureaucratic procedure: petition and then a change of name.
The idea that Turkey could ever achieve a Turkification of the Armenians by enforcing these feigned conversions, must be regarded as an illusion. Obviously the originators had examples from the time of the conquests of the Ottoman Empire in mind. But they must have made their forecasts without considering the very differently fortified racial and national sentiment and without the profound hatred which will naturally live on also in the new Armenian Muslims of the real Turkish nation - the executioners of their people. If the Muslim Armenians, after all they have experienced, still remain Armenians in their way of thinking and feeling - and certainly not only in the present generation - then their being disguised as Muslims will make them even more dangerous for the Turkish people because they are less obvious. Likewise, the German people will have doubly dangerous enemies in them in the future.