Further to Report No. 35 dated 9 July 1915 – J.No.secr. 316. [A 22559.]
Soon after the Armenians were taken away from Trebizond, rumours began to spread that the massacre of these people had already begun, that the mouth of the Deïrmendere River which follows the road they took from Trebizond for about 100 kilometres into the interior and the area immediately surrounding the town was filled with piles of corpses, and similar things. Experience has shown that fantasies in Trebizond, which are hostile to the Turks, produce the strangest fancies. Thus, the rumours were accepted by the Imperial Consulate with great caution. In the meantime, they increased to statements made with such certainty that in the interests of German and Turkish reputation I considered it my responsibility to examine the truth of these statements. In order to spare Turkish sensitivity, I informed the Vali of my intention, but I did so when it was too late to cover over any tracks of acts of violence against the Armenians. The Vali declared himself to be in complete agreement with my plan and my intention of taking the American colleague along as a neutral witness. Together with the latter, I rode for four hours on the 17th inst. on the path along the Deïrmendere River. We found one corpse which had been lying in the water for about 7 days, proof that the methodical removal of possible corpses had not yet been carried out. In addition, we met three workers who reported to us that they had been ordered that morning to search the river and bury any corpses found. According to their seemingly credible statements they had found four corpses, including a female one. Finally, the inhabitants reported to us that they had seen a corpse floating down the river. Due to the low water-level and the nature of the Deïmendere River, which flows in a broad bed of sand, often dividing into small and flat branches filled with stones, it is impossible that the current could have caused larger piles of corpses to drift into the sea before we arrived. In the meantime, news has reached us from those who were deported on the first day that their convoy, which was the most extensive, has arrived in Erzindjan without the loss of even one person.
Thus, I consider all rumours concerning wrongs against the Armenians deported from Trebizond to be unfounded and I assume that those Armenians who died along the way met their end by means of suicide or illness.
It has not been possible to verify rumours about the looting of the deported by accompanying troops. It seems to me that such cases cannot be discounted; on the other hand, based on my knowledge of the Armenian character I consider it to be more than probable that they made rich presents to the gendarmes in an attempt to win their special favour and receive small services from them during the journey.
The ill feeling against the leaders of the Committee for Unity and Progress in Trebizond with regard to the deportation of the Armenians has led to further repercussions among the Mohammedans. It is understandable that the old enemies of the Committee are gladly using this as a pretext to disrupt its position. But even the Committee’s supporters are openly disapproving the brusque action against the Armenians. They have various motives. Most of them are governed by purely humane reasons. But it must not be underestimated that some of the Committee members are indignant about the fact that they themselves must watch the leaders filling their pockets because of the deportation. At any rate, the position of the leaders of the local Committee seems to be very shaky. [This paragraph as well as the final sentence were deleted before the report was distributed.]
I have sent a transcript of this report to the Imperial Embassy in Constantinople.