1916-04-06-DE-001
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Source: DE/PA-AA/R14091
Central register: 1916-A-09015
Edition: Genocide 1915/16
Date of entry in central register: 04/07/1916 a.m.
Embassy/consular serial number:
Translated by: (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 03/23/2012


From the Director of the German Orient Bank, Erich Alexander, to the Legation Councillor at the German Foreign Office, Rosenberg

Correspondence



Berlin, 6 April 1916
Dear Mr. Privy Councillor,

Further to information which you had Junior Executive Officer Meier give me at that time pertaining to Protestant propaganda from my branch in Constantinople, I take the liberty of informing you that I have researched this matter and determined that this can only refer to the "Protestant Weekly Letters" by Professor Dr. Adolf Deissmann, which our branch in Constantinople received – not from us – together with a great deal of other propaganda material and which it passed on to the provinces. Naturally, our branch has ceased to pass on these letters. I take the liberty of enclosing No. 68 of these "Protestant Weekly Letters" in German and English and drawing your attention to page 3 (marked in red). According to this, passing these weekly letters on to Turkey would seem to me to be fairly inopportune at the present time. As far as we could determine, these letters are sent directly to Turkey by courier from a place unknown to us. I take the liberty of bringing this to your attention for possible further action.

Respectfully, your most obedient servant,


Alexander
Enclosure

Protestant Weekly Letter
by Professor Dr. Adolf Deissman, University of Berlin.
68.

Berlin, March 18, 1916.
Again I am forced to touch upon a subject repeatedly discussed in these “Letters” - the attitude of German Christians toward the great distress of the Armenian people. In the London “Standard” on February 10th last, Mr. G. K. Chesterton in a second long article took occasion to pass criticism on my defence of December 18, 1915 (“Letter” 55) against his former assertions. The article has the merit of clearly portraying one strong and two weak points of Mr. Chesterton’s literary personality. To his credit it must be said that his talent for irony is quite obvious: but this ironical vein of his frequently moves in such subtle turns that the things hinted at become obscure and fail to impress. Lastly, I find that the author makes an imperfect use of his certainly not inconsiderable historic knowledge.

If in these days resounding with the stirring clash of world-historic events, Mr. Chesterton would give vent to his irony in a more vigorous and distinct voice, he might be better understood, for I must confess that through the din of war I have not been able to grasp all he had to say. And I am sure, if the English gentleman would draw more from his store of historic knowledge, he need not fell up so much space with lengthy articles. Mr. Chesterton’s train of thought is like a labyrinth and to critically examine each turn the author makes, would call for more time and space than I have to spare. Moreover, it would in no wise further the cause involved; the Armenian problem is too serious as that it would allow another exchange of ironical arabesques between the “Standard” and “the poor old gentleman” as my critic pleases to call me. It all turns round the question, as Mr. Chesterton’s allusions insinuate, can Germany’s complicity in the miserable lot of the Armenian people can be proven?

After a careful examination of all the accessible material, I hitherto can find as only argument for answering the question in the affirmative the circumstance, that such consent fits wonderfully well into the British political program of the anti-German atrocity-propaganda. Because an affirmative answer to this is so welcome to England, many have, without hesitation, simply taken it for granted that our Government is implicated in the wretched affair. But thus far none has advanced one really tangible proof. I, on the other hand, was in the position to bring forward actual facts and thereby to disprove all these unwarranted claims and malicious insinuations, especially for those who had not come into closer touch with our people and therefore could not readily see how absurd such an accusation or even intimation was. Last year I called attention to the great relief-work of German Christians and the attitude of our Government, both before and after the auxiliary action had taken place.

Since Mr. Chesterton cannot deny these facts he tries to weaken them; among other things he questions the bona fides of our Government. The complete want of positive arguments on his side for making Germany an accomplice, he covers over, however, by sidetracking his readers upon a field where in England with many every calm consideration ceases: The “Belgian Atrocities”. What he quotes here as fact but indicates an entirely uncritical mind and an unusual measure of naiveté. But even should the fabricated story be true that German soldiers in Belgium had used the holy wafer as a target for their shooting practices, what has that to do with Armenia? “The” Germans shoot with pistols at the wafer, - consequently “the” Germans are also capable of shooting at Armenians, most certainly then to instigate a massacre among them; hence “the” Germans are actually to blame for present conditions in Armenia - - I ask whether it is necessary to wait until peace is restored in order to detect the wretchedness of such an argumentation?

Recently I had an opportunity to study closely a confidential report on the events which took place in Armenia last year. The account was given by one of the most competent judges in and approved friend of the Armenian cause. The author, a man also highly esteemed in America, gave me permission to make use of his most carefully and exhaustively written report and to call attention to some facts which throw new light upon the attitude of the Germans toward the deeply afflicted nation. I expressly state here that I did not, as might be supposed, select only facts in our favour; such as would speak against us are simply not to be found in this very objectively given information. According to all the pro-Armenian writer has to say the Germans have really done heat what they could.

In Aleppo the German Consul, Dr. Rössler, together with the Valy, Djelal Bey, tried his utmost to hinder a further attack upon the Armenians and to secure measures for the alleviation of the calamity. Over against a calumny of the Parisian “Temps”(October 1, 1915) often repeated in the French press, he states that the Armenian people themselves bore witness that Consul Dr. Rössler (as well as other German Consuls in other places) had prevented a massacre at Marash and that in every respect he deserved the gratitude of those whose lives had been gravely endangered or who had fallen into dire need.

In March 1915, the German General Posselt-Pasha, at that time commandant of the fortress of Erzurum, averted the danger for the Armenian inhabitants. Unfortunately he was later recalled. The same must be said of Herr von Scheubner-Richter, German Consul in Erzurum, who spared no efforts to assist the Armenians in their distress and hindered worse conditions to set in. This also has been gratefully acknowledged by the Armenian people.

Dr. Neukirch, the German physician in Erzingjan, stood security for his Armenian patients, and the German Consul in Mosul intervened with the Turkish Authorities on the account of the occurrences in the Vilayet Bitlis.

To these examples others may be added, while not one single incident can be adduced where a German refused help when such could be given.

Here and there in America also, I am sorry to say, attempts have been made to hold Germany responsible; over against this, I am glad to emphasize the fact that the Swiss Relief Committee in its appeal to the public in behalf of the Armenians uttered not one syllable which would make our Government or people answerable for what has happened, although the paper has the signatures of 30 persons from French West-Switzerland, where public sentiment is wholly against us. The appeal of the Swiss Christians is a model for the fact that Christian humanitarian work may successfully be undertaken without poisoning it by an unchristian and pharisaic spirit in the interest of subsidiary political purposes. I am also glad to be able to note that in the States the Appeal of the “Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America” dated November 1, 1915, contained nothing that would be suggestive of a charge against Germany.

Before closing, I must set aright a characteristic assertion of Mr. Chesterton’s. He holds that a “certain Imperialistic spirit operating in Poland, deprives a whole nation of a whole language.”

There can be no doubt here that the British critic has in mind the German spirit; but he must have drawn from quite a turbid spring, in order to make such a statement. I, therefore, recommend him the study of the book. “La Pologne sous la rafale ”, by Monsieur Edmond Privat, one of the contributors of the Parisian “Temps”. On the strength of evidence gathered on a tour through Poland for the purpose of study during the days of Russian sway (April and May 1915), this Frenchman describes the cruel suppression of the Polish language in that country, through the servile subjects of the Czar, his political friends.

The conquest of Poland through the Central powers has done away with this Muscovite tyranny; after a long period of suffering and oppression the Polish people are now again enjoying the unrestricted use of their mother tongue.

Did you receive my letter No. 57? Through connections which reach into the London Censorial Office, I recently heard that this “Letter” excited the good pleasure of the British Censor to such a degree that he took possession of it, although it was the private property of my American correspondents. This most honourable gentleman evidently was greatly interested in “non-resistance”, the dogma of the “Friends”, which I treated therein. But still greater, I suppose, is his joy that America, in its attitude toward Great Britain, eagerly and strictly adheres to this slogan, especially with respect to her trans-Atlantic postal service. To those of my correspondents, who did not receive “Letter” No. 57, I will be more than glad to mail another.



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