Djemal Pasha has repeatedly instigated discussions with me on the Armenian question and ordered his officers to give me more written and verbal details from the files concerning the development of this matter (within the sphere of the Fourth Army). Thus, I was given the files containing the orders issued by Djemal Pasha himself, regarding the treatment of the deported Armenians, the translation of which I enclose. I advised Djemal Pasha to have all of the material in connection with the Armenian question collected both here and at the headquarters in Constantinople and to publish a documentary presentation from this at an opportune moment, so that Turkey can take timely steps against inevitable accusations.
I have had to devote a lot of time to the Armenians on my journeys to Asian Turkey. I regret that my opinion, which is in agreement with most Germans in these regions, is a very bad one. The Armenians were no worse off with their Turkish masters than the other Christian Ottomans, until the Hamidian period. On the contrary, they were the ones who were called upon to occupy certain public offices, all the way up to the position of minister. The deep split and the hatred between Turks and Armenians is therefore of a more recent nature. In my opinion, this is first and foremost the consequence of the American and British missionary work, which began in the middle of the nineteenth century, as well as the provocative and undermining efforts of the Russian, British and French consuls. During that time, half-educated Armenians were introduced to modern civilisation in Europe and the United States, and were captivated by revolutionary opinions. Thus, the abandoned idea of reviving a great Armenian kingdom was re-invoked as they returned to their home country. Subsequently, they inoculated their countrymen with the germ of listlessness and dissatisfaction with the present conditions. Naturally, the massacres of the Hamidian period, a counter-reaction against the Armenian machinations, only added to this. Thus, the relationship between the Armenians and their surrounding Mohammedan elements, as well as the Turkish government, constantly worsened, especially because of the national peculiarity of the Armenians. The undeniable dexterous and, in part, the intellectual superiority of the Armenians compared to Mohammedans, their proverbial artfulness in business life, their addiction to intrigue, arrogance, and revolutionary inclination, and especially the constant expansion of their surroundings, and most importantly the recent public display of their hostility towards the Turks, heightened the tension.
The joint work of a number of Armenians with the Young Turks in Europe to overthrow the Hamidian regime seemingly meant to bring about an improvement in the relationship. The new Young Turk rulers showed the greatest accommodation towards the Armenians in Constantinople (through handing them numerous ministerial and other public offices) as well as in the provinces.
The counter-revolution, however, was the beginning of another critical period for the Armenians: the massacres of Adana took place. Nevertheless, the relationship improved soon thereafter. During the past few years, I have seen many Armenian soldiers and gendarmes in Syria and Mesopotamia, who were treated like brothers by their Mohammedan comrades. The exceptionally accommodating attitude of the Turks exceeded beyond the Balkan War, despite the bad experiences they had at that time with the Christian soldiers and particularly the Armenians. Even now, individual Armenian officers are in command of parts of the Mohammedan troops on the channel and have received the medal for bravery. Some of them were even favoured over Turkish staff officers. It was only during a later phase in the war that Armenian soldiers were disarmed and assigned to workers' battalions.
Nonetheless, already at the beginning of the present World War, the Armenians basically took sides everywhere with the enemies of Turkey and Germany. Both before and after the Turkish declaration of war, large numbers of Armenians joined the French, British and Russian flags as volunteers. The Armenians played a major role in the conspiracy instigated by Sheriff Pasha in Paris in the interests of the Triple Entente. They did their best in the Caucasus to support the Russians: entire villages sided with the enemy, and some individuals served in leader positions, etc. In the area around Van and in eastern Asia Minor, it soon became clear that this was an operation that had been planned together with the enemy long in advance to throw off Turkish rule. The events in Van are known. Numerous Turkish officials, officers, and private people have reported to me about the bloody, repulsive atrocities that the Armenians carried out against the Mohammedans in Van and the surrounding area. Russian and Armenian soldiers and officers trained the Turkish Armenians. In many parts of their territory, the Turks had to fight their Armenian subjects, who, under Russian supreme command, had become real troops. In Diyarbekir and other Asia Minor towns, the threads of a militarily organised conspiracy were discovered: the most respected Armenians were designated as captains, colonels, etc. Russian weapons and bombs were supposedly found in the cellars of notables and even bishops (Mardin),as well as pieces of uniforms that were to distinguish the Armenians as fighters for freedom and Russia. The announcement of the events in Van, like the machinations in Zeitoun, and on the Gulf of Alexandretta, in a Lausanne newspaper (of which Djemal Pasha spoke to me) even before all of this had happened is typical.
The connection between the western Armenians in the area of Adana, Zeitoun, etc., with those in eastern Asia Minor followed from various circumstantial evidence. In Zeitoun, the Armenian mountain nest north of Marash, a gang organised itself this spring. It was reinforced by deserting Armenian soldiers at the end of March, and even extended the audacity of its attacks to an ammunition transport accompanied by gendarmes, which was on its way from Marash to Zeitoun. Four battalions had to be sent out to turn out the rebels, who had entrenched themselves in a convent near the town. At the same time, the chronically terrible state of affairs caused by the gangs in the Cilician mountains became more vividly noticeable. On several occasions, gendarmes and soldiers on the military road from Osmania to Radjou were ambushed and murdered. All sorts of suspicious signs were observed, especially among the Armenian coastal population on the Gulf of Alexandretta. Undoubtedly, secret service and other means of assistance were carried out during the temporary enemy landing, which had led to the destruction of the railway line outside Alexandretta. An Armenian spy, who furnished with extensive funds and had crossed over from Cyprus on the British cruiser, Doris, was caught in Dört Yol, and in addition, several boxes of ammunition of Italian origin were found hidden in the same area.
The accumulation of these and other individual cases had to arouse the fears of the authoritative Turkish offices that in case of an enemy landing here, in the West, the Armenians would join the enemy in a joint uprising, and it was just at this point, here on the Gulf of Alexandretta and near Mersina, that such a landing was first expected. The consequences in connection with a large Armenian revolt could have been immeasurable: once having taken hold of the crossings over the Zeihun and the Djihan and the Cilician mountains, the enemy would have separated Asia Minor and the European part of Turkey from the entire southern and south-eastern half of the empire; consequently, the Egyptian campaign would not have been possible before the intruders had been driven out again. And this does not begin to include the possible effects on certain Arabic territorial areas of the empire.
Djemal Pasha and his officers repeatedly assured me that this must be prevented at all costs, and that this could only then take effect in a really far-reaching manner if the dangerous majorities of Armenians were transformed everywhere to harmless minorities and if, in general, they were removed from the strategic danger zone in particular. To this end, the basic decision to carry out mass deportations of the Armenians had been made in Constantinople. The Armenian inhabitants of the villages (not the large towns) along the coast, within the sphere of the Fourth Army Corps, should be deported in smaller groups of at least twenty-five to thirty families far into the interior in such a manner that any kind of re-unification would be impossible.
Taking into account all the severity of his actions against the Armenians, Djemal gave, as he explained to me using the documents mentioned, such orders from the beginning to avoid any unnecessary harshness; whilst carrying out the reprovals necessary in the interests of the state, and additionally to avoid any interference by the civil population and, thus, to prevent massacres. Everything was to be carried out by the military and civil authorities only.
The first document (Encl. 1) is a manifesto dated March 16 (old style), the purpose of which was to threaten penalties and to prevent eruptions of the agitation on the side of the Mohammedan population in the area around Zeitoun, which was, after all, justified, against the heavily compromised Armenians in this town. On April 2 (old style), Djemal Pasha's general deportation order (Encl. 2) was issued and was first applied in Zeitun. The deportees were taken from here to Konia. Gradually the coast was then cleared; this was done with increased harshness and speed after Italy entered the European war. Italy’s uncertain attitude towards Turkey added the danger of an Italian invasion to other such pre-existing dangers. Thus, Dört Yol, Erzin, Hassan-Beyli, Hadjin, Albistan and other places were cleared, and the Armenians there deported to northern Mesopotamia, to the area around Rakka on the Euphrates River. Here, too, Djemal Pasha's serious intention to avoid riots was documented by a number of decrees (Encl. 3: decrees dated April 28, May 25, June 4 and 10 (old style). It is clear from the prevailing circumstances that infringements by the lower military and civil authorities took place despite this. A complaint sent by the Patriarch of Sis to Djemal Pasha was, thus, the main reason for Djemal Pasha's journey to Aleppo, in June of this year. Djemal Pasha immediately ordered investigations, but, before these had been completed, he issued a sharp circular order to all of the vilayets concerned (Encl. 4). Within the order, he assumes that the infringements reported by the Patriarch of Sis, which he himself lists explicitly, undoubtedly did take place, and he once again impresses on all public authorities their responsibility for the life, honour, and property of the banned Armenians and announces the supervision of the implementation of this decree by means of special officers, who will arrive unannounced to revise the situation.
At first the Armenians did not resist their evacuation. Recently, however, the military authorities have met with various difficulties in carrying out their task, especially during the evacuation of the Armenian part of the town of Marash. Five to six hundred deportees had fled from Marash to Funschlik [Fundadjak] (south of Marash), where they entrenched themselves, and subsequently were massacred almost to the last man by the militia sent out against them. Furthermore, to avoid their evacuation, the Armenians from Antioch hid themselves in the mountains and are still being searched for. At present, the transport of 12,000 Armenians is being carried out via Damascus to the south: to be precise, to the southern Hauran and the areas east of Kerak on the Hedjaz railway line. I myself saw such a transport pass Damascus late one evening. There were about five hundred people of all ages. They had come from Aleppo on carts and all sorts of mounts, no one was on foot, and their possessions were loaded on a considerable number of camels. The convoy was accompanied by gendarmes. Transport by railway is being striven for, but this is hardly possible considering the great difficulties the railway line is struggling against, particularly with regard to the possibilities of firing the engines. I have also seen Armenians travelling in similar fashion between Adana and Aleppo.
Undoubtedly, hardships, unavoidable cruelties, and terrible family disasters will still take place during the Armenian people's expulsion from their homes and during the transports and the resettlements. Certainly, when new domiciles are allocated the safety and the possibility of the Armenians' further progress will not always be taken into consideration. This did not even happen in earlier times for the muhadjins,the Mohammedans who fled for religious reasons from areas which had been occupied by Christian conquerors. I need only remind you of the 40,000 Chechen (Circassians), who settled near Ras-ul-Ain (my Tell Halaf) forty years ago, and who, since then, have melted away to barely a thousand souls due to fever, slaughter by the surrounding nomadic, pirating Bedouins, etc. Human sympathy surely suggests to the European to bewail the fate of so many undoubtedly innocent persons affected and to consider remedial action. For statesmanlike reasons, however, one must understand that in these difficult times the Turks are attempting to protect themselves against the Armenian danger with all the means available to them.
The Germans, I spoke to, in the district of Adana, especially senior engineer Winckler, as well as senior engineer Föllner in Aleppo at a later date, were of the same opinion as I, namely, that the Turks in these areas were forced to take measures against the Armenians for reasons of self-preservation. The Turks, on their part, are now fighting for their existence. Those who have led the Armenians to join Turkey’s enemies are the ones primarily responsible for the misfortune of the Armenians. Therefore, it would have been an unforgivable carelessness on the part of the Turkish rulers if, after their experiences in Van, they had not prevented even the remote possibility of a similar, much more disastrous, treason in the west with all the means available to them while there was still time.
Certainly we Germans will be made jointly responsible by the enemies for the hard fate of the Armenians and the cruelties that most certainly occurred, just as the attempt has unjustifiably been made to stamp us with some other stigma. I live in the conviction that neither at the headquarters in Constantinople nor in the provinces would we be able to change the firm intention of the Turkish governmental authorities, i.e., to protect themselves against the Armenians, possibly even to destroy them now wholly or in part. As allies of the Turks, we could not oppose them in their cautionary measures against the Armenians, particularly within the sphere of the Fourth Army. On Germany's side there were sufficient friendly reminders to carry out these security precautions with as much leniency as possible. I, myself, was not miserly with this.
I do not share the view that the expulsion of the Armenians could give the Arabs cause for riots. The Mohammedan Arabs are in conflict with the native Christians, especially the Armenians. All of the other Christian Ottomans are more or less anti-Turk anyway, but they will not make any moves in this war, especially if victory is with the Turks and their allies.
At the bottom of their hearts those intelligent Armenians, with few exceptions, irrespective of whether they are Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant were always hostile towards us Germans. They knew that we wanted to strengthen the Turkish Empire, while they were working towards its destruction.
16 mars 1331 v.s.
2. Le bien et la vie et l’honneur de la population arménienne et musulmane sont sous la sauvegarde du Gouvernement Ottoman. Ils peuvent être convaincus qu’ils ne seront l’objet d’aucune oppression et peuvent vaguer tranquillement à leurs affaires et travaux.
3. Tout musulman qui se portera à des voies de faits contre un arménien sous n’importe quelle raison et prétexte sera accusé de brigandage et livré de suite à la cou martiale. Nul individu ne devra intervenir, soit d’une façon directe ou indirecte, aux mesures prises par le Gouvernement et à ses poursuites.
4. Décisions étant prises d’agir sévèrement contre les actes de brigandage pour qu’aucune accusation ne soit portée à l’égard de la population soumise et innocente et pour qu’aucun malentendu ne puisse exister entre elle et le Gouvernement. La population devra se soumettre immédiatement aux prescriptions faites par les autorités militaires.
Extrait d’un ordre communiqué au Commandant Gérant de la Armée. du 2 avril 1331 v.s.
Voici mon point de vue:
Cette opération doit être faite du littoral vers l’intérieur. Par conséquent, les mesures seront appliquées tout d’abord à Deurtjol, Alexandretta et environs, ensuite à Hadchine et Sice et dans d’autres endroits.
Individuellement tout arménien est notre compatriote. Par conséquent, ces mesures en se basant sur les considérations politiques et sociales ne doivent nullement influencer le droit individuel et ne devront donner lieu à aucune idée de vengeance.
On installera des immigrés musulmans aux localités évacuées des arméniens.
L’installation et l’aisance de la population arménienne est aussi importante que celles des émigrés musulmans. Surtout on devra sauvegarder leur sécurité.
Les arméniens devront être expulsés à des localités qui, tant en étant loin des groupements arméniens, renferment et même temps les conditions vitales qui leurs sont nécessaires.
Veuillez communiquer mes points de vue aux Valis d’Alep, d’Adana et aux Moutessarifs de Marach et de Zor.
Dépêche du Gouverneur de Marash à S.E. Djemal Pacha Commandant de la IV, Armée et Ministre de la Marine.
J’ai communiqué vos ordres aux missionnaires américains de Marash.
Ils sont assurés de l’attitude du Gouvernement et des habitants en ce qui concerne leur vie et leurs biens. Ils n’ont rien à craindre et n’ont jamais subies. Ils m’ont déclaré qu’ils s’adresseront à Votre Excellence s’ils ont quelques plaintes à faire.
Dépêche de Son Excellence Djémal Pacha. Commandant de la IV. Armée et Ministre de la Mariné a S.E. Fahri Pacha son remplaçant à Erzine.
Je vous prie de faire attention à ce que les personnes éloignées à cause de leur opinion politique soient traitées selon leur position sociale et qu’elles accompagneront leurs familles.
Dépêche de S.E. Djemal Pacha. Commandant de la IV. Armée et Ministre de la Marine à S.E. Fahri Pacha son remplaçant à Bilan
Les malades et les femmes enceintes et quelques personnes pour les soigner pas éloignées tout de suite. Leur départ sera ajourné provisoirement. Les familles arméniennes qui seront éloignées doivent être transportées comme nos propres troupes c.a.d. par éloignées doivent être transportées comme nos propres troupes c.a.d. par échelon et leur nourriture ainsi que leurs moyens de voyage doivent être réglés comme pour nos militaires.
Des raison militaires m’obligent d’éloigner la majeure partie des arméniens de Dortjol et de Hassan-Beyli.
L’intérêt du pays exige que ces arméniens soient transportés et réinstallés avec les plus grande soins.
Malgré les ordres et communiqués que j'ai donnés pour que la population arménienne expédiée en différents endroits ne soit soumise à aucune oppression et mauvais traitement, j'apprends des faits regrettables qui se sont produits.
Ci-dessous quelques détails que j'ai reçus jusqu'à présent à ce sujet:
1. Une oppression a été faite pendant la recherche d'armes et un certain nombre d'arméniens ont dû acheter des armes à des prix très élevés de leurs voisins turcs et circassiens pour les livrer au gouvernement.
Un certain nombre de leurs chevaux et de leurs effets de valeur ont été volés.
Sous prétexte qu'ils seront rationnés en route ils ont été laissés sans pain et sans eau.
Ils ont subi de la part des fonctionnaires chargés de les accompagner un traitement sévère et inutile tel que d'insultes et des voies de faits.
Pendant leurs étapes ils ont dû se suffire des 25-30 Drames de pain et une solde de 25 paras par jour.
Les employés et professeurs des écoles et orphelinats arméniens ont subi le même traitement que la population indigène au lieu d'être renvoyés dans leurs provinces. On ne laissa même pas à certains d'entre eux le temps de prendre leurs effets. A Gueben des femmes ont été convoquées au moment où elles faisaient leurs lessives et durent se mettre en route pieds-nus et sans avoir pu emporter les linges qu'elles avaient lavés.
Certains pères de familles ont été expédiés à des endroits séparément de leurs femmes et enfants. Et par manque de moyens de transport, certaines femmes ont dû se débarrasser de leurs enfants comme d'une charge inutile et les ont laissés au bord d'une route ou au revers d'une haie et même certaines entre elles essayèrent de les vendre.
La permission de faire venir leurs bêtes qui se trouvaient à quelque distance de leurs lieux d'habitation leur a été refusée.
De pareils traitements portent atteinte à notre honneur nationale et forment une tâche au nom de l'Ottomanisme. J'attire donc l'attention des autorités compétentes à ce sujet.
2. Enquêtes sévères doivent être faites immédiatement au sujet de tous ces événements et les fauteurs de troubles seront punis pour cette fois de réprimande. Tous ceux qui commettraient des actes pareils seront considérés par moi comme des Ottomans indignes de ce nom et livrés à la cour martiale sous inculpation de traîtrise de la Patrie.
3. Avant le déplacement de la population arménienne un délai fixe leur sera donné et au moment de l'expulsion, ceux qui auront des voitures et des chevaux en profiteront pour leur voyage. Le Gouvernement procurera des moyens nécessaires de transport pour les autres.
4. Les malades resteront jusqu'à leur guérison, à l'endroit où ils se trouvent.
5. La population sera expédiée avec une escorte de gendarmerie et aisément. Une solde de 50 Paras aux adultes et aux hommes et de 30 Paras aux enfants sera donnée s'ils sont indigents.
6. Les gendarmes et les employés faisant partie de leur escorte sont responsables de leur vie, de leurs biens et de leur honneur.
7. Aux endroits où ils seront établis tout leur nécessaire sera assuré et tous seront sous la protection et affection du Gouvernement.
Je m'assurerai de l'exécution absolue de ces ordres par l'inspection de mes officiers en qui j'ai toute confiance. Nul ne sera informé de leurs enquêtes et suivant leurs rapports tous peuvent être assurés que je punirai de la façon la plus rigoureuse ceux qui agiront contre ces ordres.
The well-being and the honor of both the Armenian and Muslim population are under the protection of the Ottoman Government. They can be convinced that they will be not be subject of any oppression and therefore can go about their business and work calmly.
Any Muslim who sets himself up against an Armenian for whatever reason or pretext will be accused of brigandage and be sent immediately for court-martial. No individual may intervene, in a direct or indirect manner, in the measures taken by the Government and its actions.
Decisions have been made to respond severely to any acts of brigandage so that no accusation be held in regards to the obedient and innocent population, and so that no misunderstanding may take place between it and the Government. The population must submit immediately to the orders made by military authorities.
Here is my point of view:
This operation must be carried out from the coast to the interior. Therefore, the measures will be applied first of all at Dortyol, Alexandretta and its surroundings, then at Hadjin and Sice as well as in other areas.
Individually every Armenian is our compatriot. Therefore, these measures, based on political and social considerations, must not at all influence individual rights and must not provide an opportunity for thoughts of vengeance.
Muslim immigrants will be settled in the areas evacuated by Armenians.
The settlement and comfort of the Armenian population is as important as that of the Muslim immigrants. Above all we must ensure their security.
The Armenians must be expelled to localities where, as well as being far from Armenian groups, offer at the same time the conditions for life that are necessary to them.
Please communicate my points of view to the Valis of Aleppo, Adana, and to the Mutessarifs of Marash and of Zor.
Dispatch from the Governor of Marash to His Excellency Jemal Pasha Commander of the IV Army and Minister of the Navy
I have communicated your orders to the American missionaries of Marash.
They are reassured about the attitude of the Government and about the inhabitants regarding their lives and their goods. They have nothing to fear and have never suffered. They have declared to me that they will address your Excellency if they have any complaints to lodge.
I ask you to make sure that those sent away due to their political opinion be treated according to their social status and be kept with their families.
Dispatch from His Excellency Jemal Pasha, Commander of the IV Army and Minister of the Navy, to H.E. Fahri Pasha, his replacement in Bilan
The sick and pregnant women, and others to take care of them, not sent away immediately. Their departure will be postponed temporarily. The Armenian families who will be sent away must be transported like our own troops, that is to say by rank, and their food and their means of travel must be regulated as they would for our military men.
Military reasons oblige me to expel the majority of the Armenians of Dortyol and Hassan-beyli.
The interest of the country requires that these Armenians be transported and relocated with the greatest care.
Despite the orders and communiqués which I have given that the Armenian population deported in different areas may not be subjected to any mistreatment and oppression, I have learned of some regrettable acts which have taken place.
Here are some details which I have received to date on this subject:
1. Oppression has occurred during the search for arms and a certain number of Armenians were forced to purchase arms at very high prices from their Turkish and Circassian neighbors in order to deliver them to the government.
A certain number of their horses and valuables have been stolen.
Under the impression that they would receive rations en route, they were left without bread or water.
They have suffered harsh treatment and unnecessary insults and abuse by the officials charged with accompanying them.
During their journey, they had to live off of 25-30 Drams worth of bread, and an allowance of 25 Paras per day. The employees and teachers of Armenian schools and orphanages have endured the same mistreatment as the rest of the population, rather than be sent back to their provinces. Some were not even allowed the time to gather their belongings. Women in Gueben were gathered at the time they were doing their washing and were forced en route barefoot, without being able to bring along the clothes they had washed.
Certain fathers of the families were deported to places separately from their wives and children. And due to lack of transportation, certain women were forced to give up their children at the side of the road like a useless burden or in the back of a hedge, and some even tried to sell them.
Permission to bring their animals which were a short distance from their homes was refused.
Similar treatments question our national honor and form a stain on the name of Ottomanism. I therefore draw this to the attention of the competent authorities on this subject.
2. Serious inquiries must be made immediately on all these events and those who committed these offences will be punished this time with a reprimand. All those who commit similar acts will be considered by me as Ottomans unworthy of the name and will be sent to Court Martial charged with treason.
3. Before the displacement of the Armenian population, a fixed delay will be given to them and the moment of expulsion, those who have carriages or horses will use them for their voyage. The Government will provide others with the necessary means of transportation.
4. The sick will stay until they are better, in the place where they are found.
5. The population will be deported with an escort of gendarmes. A ration of 50 Paras for adults and men and 30 Paras for children will be given if they are in need.
6. The gendarmes and their employees which are part of their escort are responsible for their lives, their belongings and their honor.
7. In the places where they will be established, all necessities will be assured and everything will be under the protection of the Government.
I will assure myself of the absolute execution of these orders by the inspection of my officers, in whom I have absolute confidence. No one will be informed of their inquiries and following their reports, everyone may be assured that I will punish most severely those who act contrary to these orders.