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Source: DE/PA-AA/R14088
Publication: DuA Dok. 129 (re. gk.); 130 (re. gk.); 187 (gk.)
Central register: 1915-A-28584
Embassy register: A53a/1915/5440
Edition: Genocide 1915/16
Date of entry in central register: 10/02/1915
Embassy/consular serial number: J. Nr 580/Geheim-Bericht Nr. 23
Translated by: Vera Draack (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 04/22/2012

From the Administrator in Erzurum (Scheubner-Richter) to the Ambassador on Extraordinary Mission in Constantinople (Hohenlohe-Langenburg)


J. No 580 / secret report No. 23
Erzurum, 5 August 1915

5 Enclosures

The evacuation of the Armenians has now been completed to a certain degree, i.e. there are no more Armenians in the administrative district of the local consulate. Thus, it seems to me to be appropriate to report briefly on the incidents that have taken place over the past months in connection with the expulsion of the Armenians.

Until the beginning of May, the Armenians lived here freely and without hindrance and were able to carry out their business without interference. Individual incidents, such as the murder of the bank director, Pastermadjan, and similar occurrences only had a temporary unsettling effect. The fear of a Turkish massacre did, however, exist, and rightly so, although the presence and the activities of General Posseldt as well as the German consul probably prevented such an outbreak.

At the beginning of May, the known incidents in Van led the government and the military to take drastic disciplinary action against the Armenians. All Armenians still in armed service were dismissed from the army and placed in labour battalions. The inhabitants of the plains of Erzurum and Passin, now consisting of only women, children and old men, were driven out of their villages and were to be compulsorily taken to Mesopotamia. This measure, justified on the basis of military considerations, was carried out in an unnecessarily ruthless and cruel way. On the way to Erzindjan, those concerned were attacked, robbed and killed by Kurds and Turkish volunteers at Mama Hatun , Sansar, the Euphrates Bridge and Päräz. Between 10 and 20,000 people were probably killed, but the government's figures fall between only 3 and 4,000.

Similarly, during the same period of time and with the exception of only a few people, the inhabitants of the Erzindjan plain were also robbed and killed while passing through the Kamakh gorge, and the women were kidnapped. I have been informed by reliable sources that the Turkish military resp. gendarmes were involved here.

At the beginning of June, the first group of Armenian notables were given a period of 14 days to leave Erzurum. Approximately 500 people left Erzurum on June 16 and marched through the mountains via Harput to Urfa. According to a statement made by the government, 14 of these people were murdered along the way; I have received private information that almost all the men were murdered. The second group, approximately 3,000 people, left Erzurum on June 19 and 20. Part of them, especially the men, was separated at Baiburt, and I have been unable to ascertain anything as to their whereabouts. They were probably murdered. The rest of them reached Erzindjan without being molested, where they stayed until the roads were secured. The third group of expellees, still approximately 300 families, left Erzurum on June 26. They reached Erzindjan safely and without being molested. The fourth group, consisting mainly of trademen's families who had first received residence permits from the government, which were later taken away from them at the order of the army's Supreme Command, also reached Erzindjan safely via Baiburt. Thus, by July 15 almost all of the Armenians had been expelled from Erzurum. Those few who remained for special reasons, because they were indispensable, ill or for similar reasons, had received special residence permits from the government. While both the Vali and I were absent from Erzurum, these residence permits were suddenly taken away from them at the order of the army's Supreme Command. They had to leave Erzurum within an extremely short period of time and many of them could not even take along the bare necessities for the journey. This last group was partly raided near Ashkale and Baiburt. It included the Armenian doctors and pharmacists, some of whom were shot near Baiburt, supposedly because of a military court verdict. As I have already mentioned, the second, third and fourth groups arrived safely in Erzindjan, with some exceptions, and remained there in the camp until the beginning of August. While I was in Erzindjan, I satisfied myself that they were all right, as far as possible under the circumstances. At the beginning of August they were sent on to Urfa and it is reported that they passed through the infamous Kamakh gorge safely. How many of them will reach their destination alive and well is an open question.

As far as the Armenians from the neighbouring Vilayets are concerned, the number of people who have been killed is supposed to be much higher there. Thus, for example, large massacres of Armenians have been carried out on the Khänus plain and almost all of the men in Vilayet Trebizond have supposedly been killed. In fact, while in Erzindjan I did not notice any men among those Armenians from Vilayet Trebizond passing through. The method of expulsion was also much more brusque; for example, the Armenians in Trebizond were only given a few hours and they were forbidden to sell their things. They were not given any means of transportation by the government, so that most of them had to walk. The Armenians in Sivas were treated in a similarly brusque manner.

Concerning my own position in this entire matter, I have allowed myself to be governed by the following points.

I was aware – and this also corresponded to the instructions that were passed on to me from Your Excellency – that we do not have a right to stand up for the innocent Armenians who have been expelled, nor do we have any kind of protective rights over them. Thus, my use for those Armenians who had committed no crime against the government could only and had to be restricted to my standing up to protect their lives and their property, to speak out against rape, and to try to ensure that the expulsion which was based on military necessity was carried out as humanely as possible. Accordingly, when the expulsions began I lodged complaints both with the civil administration and with the army's Supreme Command. According to my instructions, I kept my influence within the limits of friendly advice and avoided any suspicion of this being official. After the first large massacres at Kamakh, Khänus and Terdshan became public knowledge, I followed the instructions given to me by Your Excellency after receiving my report on this and lodged complaints with the Vali in a friendly, but very insistent manner. I thereby stressed that such ignominious incidents only serve to ruin Turkey's reputation in neutral foreign countries and among its friends. I further stressed that such incidents could easily lead to a renewed foreign interference in Armenian affairs, and they could make Turkey's position in future peace talks unnecessarily more difficult. Furthermore, I also emphasised the unpleasant situation our government is placed in by these incidents, and that we must strongly urge that any repetition of such incidents by the government authority responsible must be avoided at any cost. The Vali frankly admitted that my remarks were justified; on his part, however, he pointed out that this was not his responsibility, but that of the army's Supreme Command and that he was at their command. Despite the well-known insecurity of the routes, they ordered the expulsion of the Armenians without sufficiently ensuring their safety. The Vali then promised to do his best to prevent any recurrences. He did, in fact, try to ensure the safety of the expellees, insofar as this was possible considering the opposing intentions of the committee and other leading personalities. But neither his influence nor his energy were sufficient to meet the resistance he met with both from the army's Supreme Command as well as from the committee in his endeavours to achieve this. Generally, however, the citizens of Erzurum were treated far better during their expulsion than those of other cities. As a consequence of the Vali's concession and my efforts, they were granted the following alleviations:

1) Most of them were given a period of 14 days to prepare for the journey.

2) They were allowed to take their things with them or to sell them.

3) Some of the businessmen and notabilities had the chance to give their goods, their personal items and their valuable objects to the Ottoman Bank to be kept in the Armenian church.

4) The government placed ox carts free of charge at the disposal of many impoverished families.

5) Those men whose families were without any further male protection were dismissed from the labour battalions and were allowed to accompany their families.

One of the further humane orders of the civil administration, that the sick, single women and children were to remain in Erzurum, was revoked by order of the military authorities resp. at the instigation of the committee.

It is extremely unfortunate that, due to the military authority's acquiescent attitude towards the position of the committee and the unknown men behind it, the expulsion of the Armenians from the border areas, a measure which might have been justified militarily and politically in some ways, has turned into a campaign of revenge, destruction and robbery against the Armenians. Nor is this policy of extermination approved of by large circles of the Turkish population who still think reasonably, especially by the landowners. These circles, which have worked together with Armenians and gotten along well with them, recognise the great economical and political danger of this new "system towards a solution of the Armenian question." While driving through the countryside, I have often been asked by large landowners, whose guest I was, why the German government induced the Turkish government to act in such a manner towards the Armenians. One of those persons who questioned me, a very respected and influential Bey, added that although Armenian massacres had taken place formerly, they were generally restricted to battles amongst the men, but that now, against the instructions in the Koran, thousands of innocent women and children were being murdered. This was not being done by enraged mobs, but systematically and by the order of the government, "the committee," as he added with emphasis. At this point it must be noted that the word is deliberately being spread here that the expulsion is taking place at the instigation of the German government. In educated Turkish and Armenian circles it is said that Professor Rohrbach pointed out during a lecture for the emperor that the Armenians are a very suitable element for populating the only minimally inhabited regions of Mesopotamia situated along the railway line to Baghdad. The German government then induced the Turkish government to resettle the Armenians there. Naturally, I emphatically opposed this cleverly woven little story, but I was not able to prevent its being considered the truth by many people.

Furthermore, it seems just possible to me that both this story as well as the manner in which the Committee deals with the Armenian question will be used by its opponents as a means of agitation against the present government. No doubt this agitation will be carried out next year in particular, when the economic losses caused by the missing, valuable Armenian workers are felt.

Summarising my reports and my activities in the Armenian question, I would like to note the following:

It would be taking things too far to go into the causes of the Armenian unrests here and to examine whether these could have been avoided by effective disciplinary action and negotiations on the part of the government. As far as I know, nothing along this line was done in time. Furthermore, it is a matter of course that in those cases where rebellions took place at the instigation of the Armenian revolutionary committees and Russian emissaries, severe disciplinary action should be taken against the guilty parties. In fact, I would have expected and wished for much stricter immediate preventive action by the government and the military authorities at all the threatened points; not, though, as usually happened, that retaliatory measures were taken afterwards. However, in my opinion there is absolutely no evidence for a generally planned and prepared Armenian rebellion.

Thus, in Vilayet Erzurum for example, neither weapons nor compromising documents were found. If a rebellion had been planned here, then the most advantageous moment for such an event would have been in January, when the Russians were stationed 35 km from Erzurum and Erzurum's garrison held only a few hundred gendarmes, while in Erzurum's labour battalions alone there were 3 – 4,000 Armenians.

Although it is unfortunate, it seems natural to me that border inhabitants of a different faith and nationality who are oppressed and treated badly by their own government and, thus, dissatisfied, would join up with a victoriously advancing enemy of the same faith who, in addition, poses as a liberator and entices them with promises, and this has also happened in other theatres of war. On the other hand, political and severe military defence measures are just as natural. But it seems to me that it is unnatural and unworthy of a government that claims to be civilised if it first takes no measures at all in order to prevent the foreseeable uprising of some parts of a people who are rightly dissatisfied, be it by means of suitable military precautions, be it through political negotiations; but rather, practically inviting it through its inactivity and the provocative behaviour of its police authorities and "chetes." [mounted Turkish volunteers.]

In doing so, it has also left large circles of its own people at the mercy of the anarchy of the masses aroused by racism and "the madness of retaliation." But the same government then takes advantage of this opportunity to culturally and economically annihilate and exterminate an entire race as a consequence of and a punishment for the agitation deliberately or unintentionally caused by its own inactivity.

The fact that this extermination is possible, that tens of thousands of Armenians allow themselves to be slaughtered by a small number of Kurds and irregulars without defending themselves (as happened here), seems to be proof of how unwilling these people are to fight and to act as revolutionaries. The Armenians, especially the inhabitants of the cities, these "Jews of the East," are certainly cunning tradespeople, as well as shortsighted politicians, but as far as I have come to know them, most of them are not active revolutionaries. If they were, and had they had weapons, they would most certainly have violently resisted the evacuation, since they were superior in number and their death was a certainty. But this only happened in a very few places, probably where the revolutionary committees had their seat. Everywhere else the evacuation was carried out without any incidents, and later they meekly allowed themselves to be slaughtered. The timorousness of the Turkish Armenians is possibly only surpassed by the Turks' fear of them.

On the basis of these considerations and in view of the entire situation, I considered it to be my duty as a representative of the German government not to regard the actions of the government against the Armenians and the measures taken against them in silence. Rather, since we cannot, on the one hand, fundamentally prevent these measures, but, on the other hand and in view of the situation, we will have to accept a moral responsibility for them, we should at least work towards the mildest possible form of implementation. I have gladly accepted the bother and even the danger my attitude has put me in from time to time, also because I supposed that it could only be agreeable to my government at a later date to know and to announce that its representative here stood up for a humane and lawful treatment of innocent sufferers with all the legal means available to him.

I have been supported in my efforts by Turks in government and military circles who think reasonably, insofar as they have not been held back by their fear of the committee. In the local committee, though, it was a small group of fairly inferior individuals who terrorized the others and who, motivated by their personal interests and greed, preached a campaign of destruction against the Armenians. These were the same people, by the way, who harmed the Turkish cause among the Moslem inhabitants of Russia for a long time, if not forever, by their outrageously brutal action in the areas which were temporarily captured by the Turks, such as Ardanus, Ardahan, Olti, etc.

The term "Holy War" has been degraded by these people to a guise for robbing and plundering. They have succeeded in making the Moslem border inhabitants of Russia fear nothing more than their Turkish "liberators." Unfortunately, the influence of these mysterious men behind the scenes of the committee, who, in addition, are also hostile towards the Germans, is stronger than one is generally prepared to believe. They keep their influence through their system of terror, and in my opinion this can only be broken through very severe action. Should this influence and the "governing methods" of these people get out of hand, this would be dangerous not only for the Turks, but also for us, their allies. Because the way in which the Armenian question was handled has shown clearly what a dangerous instrument governmental power is in the hands of people who are not prepared to act responsibly and who have only their own interests at heart.

I take the liberty of sending the following enclosures with this report:

1) a report on the experiences of a farmer who escaped the massacre at Terdshan. I brought this man before the Vali on the very same day, who first received further information from him about the events at Terdshan. The Kaymakam in question was then removed from office by the Vali.

2) report on what the wartime volunteer, Karl Schlimme, saw while riding to Trebizond.

3) letter from the Armenian Bishop of Erzurum to the consulate.

4) and 5) letters from the Armenian Roman Catholic bishop to the consulate.

I hope that both Your Excellency as well as the Foreign Office approve of my attitude in this most difficult matter, which causes me many unhappy hours. I further hope that I have managed to convince the local authoritative Turkish circles of the friendliness of my advice in the Armenian question even, more so because, despite practical differences, I personally have a very good relationship with these people.


Enclosure 1

On 23 June 1915, the Armenian farmer, Garabeth Hadji Oglu Goergian, from the village of Irdazur, 55 years old, presented himself at the local consulate. Before the evacuation of the Armenians, this farmer delivered eggs and other products to the local consulate. He was wounded by a shot in the left hand during the massacre in the area around Mama Hatun. He managed to escape and to reach the consulate. He reported the following on his experiences:

The inhabitants of 13 villages from the Passin and Erzurum plains were gathered, about 6-700 carts and 9-10,000 people. This included, among others, the people from the village of Padishvan on the Passin plain and from the villages of Umudum, Schipen, Kieselkilisse, Erginis, Chamshkavank, Kirsinkos and Irdarzur on the Erzurum plain. We marched to Mama Hatun via Yenikoy and safely reached the Euphrates Bridge. From Mama Hatun onwards we were accompanied by the Kaymakam with 10 gendarmes on foot and 20 irregulars and gendarmes on horseback. After we crossed the Euphrates, we entered the Tshividäh Mountains where we were suddenly shot upon from all sides while in a narrow pass. The Kaymakam ordered us to retreat, which we did. While we were again climbing up the Tshividäh Mountain, Kurds jumped out from the bushes and attacked us. Everyone ran in all directions, even the infantry ran away. Our head, however, was defended by some of the irregulars so that 100 carts and the largest part of the people were saved. Later on, we gathered together near the village of Karkin, after having taken 1 ½ days to reach it. The Kaymakam met us there and suggested taking another route, over the Kütür Bridge to Baiburt. Full of gratitude, we held a collection for the Kaymakam and gave him about 200 Ltq. When we reached the bridge, most of the people did not wish to continue. But the Kaymakam and the irregulars persuaded the people to continue on to Päräz. The following morning, after having spent the night there, we walked on and by noon we reached the Euphrates. We camped here and were just eating when we were surrounded by Kurds … [illegible] on foot and attacked. Everyone fled, some of the people, including myself, saved themselves by crossing the river. Three people near me dropped: two were shot and the third had his abdomen slit open with a dagger so that his entrails hung out. Many of us drowned in the river. Those of us who saved themselves returned to Päräz, where we gathered in the church. We had not been able to take one single cart with us; we got away with only our lives. The night in Päräz passed without incident. The next morning the irregulars appeared and ordered us to gather on the threshing floor. We had hardly arrived before they started shooting at us. Some of us saved themselves by running towards the river; the rest ran back into the church in Päräz. The Armenians were then gathered together again, the women were separated and locked into a barn. Once again the men were shot at. Those people who had run towards the river saved themselves by going to Mama Hatun. Kurds were also involved in this massacre, although none of them were Dersim Kurds. Women later turned up in Mama Hatun, who said they had been robbed of everything, even clothes. Many of them had been killed, many kidnapped. Those who were not robbed in Päräz were robbed while on the road. The Kaymakam had only accompanied them as far as the bridge and then turned back. While camping close to Mama Hatun, we received 2 sacks of bread. The next day the irregulars forced us to return to Päräz. Once again, not far from Mama Hatun, we were attacked, this time by camel drivers, emigrants and irregulars. We dispersed, some of us towards the river and some towards town. Together with four other people I saved myself in running into a valley. 2 ½ hours from the place where we were attacked we had to climb a mountain and had just reached its peak when the irregular following us caught up with us. He promised to protect us and wanted to bring us to the village of Ardash. On the way, he suddenly shot at my four companions and killed them. I was the last one he shot at and he hit me in the left hand. I fell to the ground and lay there. The irregular thought he had killed me and turned away. After lying there for 1 ½ hours, I saw the other bodies being robbed. I ran away and hid behind a tree. I only travelled at night, so that it took me three nights to get here. For two days I was well treated in the Kurdish village of Khon, where I rested. This was how I managed to enter Erzurum unnoticed, where I then sought refuge at the German consulate known to me.

[Solikian as interpreter]

Enclosure 2

Erzurum, 5 August 1915

Report on my Journey to Trebizond.

On 18 June, on the instruction of the Vice-Consul, Mr. von Scheubner, I rode to Trebizond. I rode as far as Baiburt together with the members of the Austrian ski mission. The gentlemen had been requested by the local Vali to take an Armenian family, among them the sister of the local Armenian bishop, with them as they had been given a pass to Angora. In Baiburt we were ordered to surrender the family. When we refused, the drivers were taken away so that we had to drive the carriages ourselves. Dr. Pietschmann asked me to accompany him on to Erzindjan; furthermore, our telegrams to the German consulate were not accepted in Baiburt. While we were still negotiating, we noticed that they wanted to take the Armenians away from us by force. We cocked our rifles, and only in this way were we able to leave Baiburt without mishap. On the road we noticed real komitadji posts. The gendarmes accompanying us refused to go any further and suggested several times that the Armenians should be massacred. Thus, while constantly expecting to be attacked, we reached Erzindjan.

Here, the Armenian family was taken away by the police and interned. As I found out later in Erzurum, an official report by the Mutessarif was passed on to Mr. von Scheubner by the government in which it was stated that the Armenian family was restrained in Erzindjan because weapons had been found among their belongings. I can swear that the carriages were searched in my presence and that nothing was found.

On the morning of 26 June, a large group of expellees passed through Erzindjan, consisting only of women and children. Many among them were ill and well advanced in pregnancy; many women and most of the children were half naked. They carried bundles of grass and ate this, because they had nothing else. Some begged me for money to buy bread. When I gave them some they were beaten by the gendarmes. This group headed towards the Kamakh gorge.

On 27 June I met another group of women and children at the Sibikoi pass. They were also in a miserable state and were treated by the gendarmes like animals.

Then, in Sibikoi, there was a third group, which was to spend the night there. They were packed together in a circle in an open square and the gendarmes did not even permit them to fetch water.

Shortly before Trebizond, I met a caravan on 1 July consisting of men, women and children. Based on their clothing, these were Armenian notables carrying their bundles themselves, because they had neither wagons nor donkeys. The people of Trebizond were forced out in an awful and cruel manner. They were not allowed to sell anything or take anything with them.

On the way back from Trebizond to Jevislik I saw more than 20 men's bodies lying in and near the water. All of them had been completely undressed. Before reaching Gemishaneh and Kopp Han I saw bodies again. I was informed by Turkish country dwellers that most of the men from Trebizond were killed on the way to Gemishaneh. They also said that many women were raped and killed, especially by the gendarmes accompanying them.

Beyond Baiburt I met a caravan from Erzurum, all of them on carts and horses, which was heading for Erzindjan. My acquaintances among them told me that up to that point they had not been bothered. After everything that I have seen I can swear that the expellees from Erzurum were treated the best.

I am prepared to swear to the above.

Carl Schlimme

Enclosure 3


Erzurum, le 22/4 Mai, Juin 1915

A Monsieur le Consul d’Allemagne à Erzurum.

En prise journalière avec les mille difficultés de l’heure présente, et continuellement en butte à de nouvelles persécutions, il nous arrive la nouvelle sinistre d’évacuer la ville d’Erzurum de tous ces habitants chrétiens. Devant l’horreur d’une pareille éventualité, je me permets de m’adresser encore à Vous, en attirant Votre attention sur les points essentiels suivants.

1 Les Arméniens de la ville d’Erzurum, comme d’ailleurs de tout le vilayet, n’ont point donné jusqu’ici au gouvernement turc aucun motif de mécontentement. Ils ont ponctuellement satisfaits, et ils continueront à satisfaire comme pour le passé, à toutes les demandes et exigences du Gouvernement. Le Gouvernement turc ne peut raisonnablement formuler à ce sujet aucun grief contre les Arméniens, et par conséquent ne peut trouver dans un fait antérieur la raison ou l’excuse pour une si grave décision.

2 Si des défaillances individuelles ont pu se produire ailleurs, cela ne peut et ne doit pas servir de prétexte au gouvernement turc de sévir contre les Arméniens de la ville d’Erzurum.

3 Vous avez été à même, Monsieur le Consul de constater par vous-même que la présence des Arméniens n’a aucunement gêné l’action militaire turque. Ils ont bien au contraire contribué, chaque classe de la société suivant ses ressources, soit à l’équipement des troupes, soit à leur entretien. L’Arménien a toujours été un élément utile même au point de vue exclusif de l’action militaire. Vous êtes j’espère convaincu qu’ils continueront à être cet élément utile sur lequel le gouvernement peut compter le cas échéant.

4 On a pu constater que lors de l’évacuation de la plaine d’Erzurum il y a eu des cas ou les Arméniens convertis à l’Islam ont pu rester tranquillement dans leurs domiciles. Quel sens peut on donner à cela?

En attirant Votre attention sur ces quatre points, j’aime à croire que vous êtes vous-même convaincu de leur véracité et de leur sincérité. Par conséquent Vous me permettez de vous prier de les transmettre à Son Excellence l’Ambassadeur d’Allemagne à Constantinople. Nous nous mettons sous sa haute et efficace protection, tout en renouvelant à Son Excellence les assurances formelles de nos sentiments de loyauté envers l’Allemagne et de nos sentiments de loyauté envers le gouvernement ottoman.

Je me permets de vous exprimer à cette occasion ma plus profonde gratitude pour la bienveillance que vous avez témoigné toujours envers la communauté arménienne et je vous prie Monsieur le Consul, d’agréer l’assurance de ma considération distinguée.

Évêques arméniens d’Erzurum.

Enclosure 4

Son Excellence
Monsieur von Scheubner-Richter
Consul d’Allemagne à Erzurum.


Erzurum le 5 Juin 1915

Monsieur le Consul.

En qualité d’Évêque et de représentant de la communauté Catholique d’Erzurum nous venons prier Votre Excellence de vouloir bien faire parvenir notre supplique avec hommage très respectueux à Sa Majesté l’Empereur d’Allemagne et si c’est acceptable aussi à Sa Majesté l’Empereur d’Autriche pour qu’Elles daignent intercéder auprès de notre Auguste Souverain Empereur de Turquie Ami et Frère d’Armes de leurs Auguste Majestés.

Nos fidèles d’après leur principe religieux toujours fidèles et obéissants à leur Gouvernement ont toujours joui de la bienveillante protection de leur Augustes Souverains les Sultans. Cependant sans donner aucun prétexte voici qu’ils se trouvent marqués dans la liste d’exil des chrétiens de ces contrées.

Nous venons supplier humblement leurs clémentes Majestés d’intercéder auprès de notre Auguste Souverain pour l’arrêt de cette mesure qui aboutirait à l’anéantissement de leurs moyens d’existence et de leurs vies.

Ces nombreuses et innocentes familles avec enfants vieillards devant aller à des pays fort éloignés, faute de véhicules de sûreté et de nourriture périraient immanquablement.

Nous implorons donc par l’intercession de leurs Augustes Majestés de la clémence de notre Auguste Souverain l’arrêt de cette exode funeste ou du moins facilité sûreté et moyens pour pouvoir se transporter.

Avec hommage respectueux j’ai l’honneur d’être de Votre Excellence

le très humble et obligé serviteur

[Joseph Melchisedechian]
Évêque Catholique d’Erzurum.

Enclosure 5


Erzurum 14 June 1915

Honourable Mr. von Scheubner-Richter
Imperial Consul of the German Reich!

Honourable Sir!

With salty tears I permit myself to write the following lines after having stayed awake for six nights. The hours and days are running out and the time is very near when the Armenian people of this city, over twenty thousand (without counting the over thirty thousand inhabitants of the villages) will head innocently and in full knowledge towards the slaughter house, to lose themselves and to die. In the name of God and in the name of humanity, if we live in the twentieth, civilised century, I dare to approach your goodness, Honourable Consul, on behalf of the desperate people, present their situation to you and request of you, as from a righteous judge, that help which you are able to give these righteous and piteous Christians. Now, Honourable Consul, I beg your forgiveness for bothering you with my explanation of the situation and the innocence of these piteous people.

The Armenian people, who have been ordered to migrate from this city to Urfa, are made up of children who, being between the ages of one month and thirteen years, are minors, young ladies who are both of age and minors, females and widows, elderly people over the age of seventy and people who are ill and, finally, of anaemic and pregnant women. It is clear that this evacuation will take a minimum of three months. How will these piteous people undertake this three months' journey in the rain and the heat, without money, without provisions, without carriages and, in a single word: without the necessary means? We are not in Europe. It is clear that in the present wartime situation the people must do without even the barest necessities in food. And now, from among these migrating people, what will those mothers do who have four-five children, when the children whine along the way, "Mother, we're tired", "Mother, we're hungry", "Mother, we're ill," and often even, "Mother, we're thirsty," and they won't even be able to find water! Yes, and what will the mothers or children do in case of an epidemic, which is very probable. Should the mothers care for the children or the children for their mothers? And what fear will the women and young women have as long as the so-called "tchetes" threaten to kidnap their honour and their goods forever? Will this not be a martyr's death for them? How many men will there be among these thousands of children, young ladies and women of age or minors, who can help these weak creatures? Are not almost all the men doing military service; are not the people guilty? Is this the reward for these people who have given all of their wealth, their money, their children, their blood, and all for the protection of their country? O tempora! What will future history tell us? Will the interests of this country and empire protest against this fact? Honourable Consul, your high degree of reasoning and your good heart will probably consider this view to be righteous?++ The last hope and the last protector of these people is the one and only almighty God above and you below, Honourable Consul. If we consider the case that these people will become victims of the war, then I take the liberty of asking whether these people do not have the right at such a moment of the highest need to request assistance from you as your closest friends as long as there is an alliance between the Ottoman and the German Reich? Is it not possible that His Majesty, the great and just Emperor William the Second, will permit these piteous thousands of souls to be assisted by using his high mediation?

Honourable Consul, while I was still in Rome I saw many monuments fitted with beautiful statues, which adorned the city. It is clear that these statues represented those persons who had become famous because of their good deeds for humanity. Honourable Consul, should your name not be placed in the history of this piteous, but also senseless and old nation in the form of an image on a pillar together with unforgettable memorials if you accomplish this saving act? But the names of His Excellency Posseldt Pasha, of the Honourable Dr. Schwarz and the Honourable von Scheubner-Richter as the "guardian angels" are already in the mouths of these people after they once saved us from the passing slaughter. These are not words of Oriental flattery, but the truth. Honourable Consul, those children who are still in their cradle and whose naked bodies would otherwise be lined up along the way, covering fields and mountains, will later never stop blessing your unforgettable name and binding bouquets of praise and thanks for you if they are saved. Honourable Consul, I have dared to turn to your goodness as a servant of God and the people because the voices of these innocent children have been piercing my heart for six days, to write these lines to you with tears in my eyes, and to beseech you and hope fervently for one last help. Trusting in your goodwill we come to you for refuge and request you to grant the above mentioned plea.

Yours sincerely, your grateful servant,

[Joseph Melchisedechian]
Evêque Armeno-Catholique d’Erzurum.

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