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Link: http://www.armenocide.net/armenocide/armgende.nsf/$$AllDocs/1916-01-26-DE-004
Source: DE/PA-AA/R14089; BoKon 98/86-90
Central register: 1916-A-02682
Embassy register: 10-12/1916/120
Edition: Genocide 1915/16
Date of entry in central register: 01/29/1916 p.m.
Embassy/consular serial number:
Translated by: Vera Draack (partly) (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 03/23/2012

From the Director of the German Christian Charity-Organisation for the Orient, Friedrich Schuchardt, to the German Foreign Office


Frankfurt am Main, 26 January 1916
I take the liberty of presenting you with a copy of the report from our Sisters Beatrice Rohner & Paula Schaefer [Passed on to the Embassy in Constantinople on 3 February 1916 (No. 79).] , which I received with your kind assistance, as I am unsure whether you filed a transcript of it for yourself.

Yours sincerely,

F. Schuchardt
Enclosure 1

Report of Sister Paula Schäfer on November:16th:1915.

Just now I am coming back from a ride on horseback through the Baghtsche-Osmania-plain where thousands of exiles are lying on fields and streets without any shelter exposed to the power of any kinds of brigands. Last night about 12 o’clock a little camp was suddenly attacked. There were about 50 – 60 persons in it. I found men and women badly wounded, their bodies cut open with broken skulls or in a terrible condition through stabs with the knife. Fortunately I was provided with clothes, so I could change their bloody things and then bring them to the next inn where they were nursed. Many of them were so much exhausted from the enormous loss of blood that they died in the meantime, I suppose. In another camp we found 30 – 40 thousand Armenians. I could distribute bread among them. Desperate and half-starved they fell upon it; several times I almost was pulled down from the horse. A number of dead people were lying about unburied and only through money the gendarme could be persuaded to have them buried. Mostly the Armenians are not allowed to perform the last offices of love for their relatives. Bad epidemics of typhoid-fever broke out everywhere, a patient lay in almost every third tent. Nearly everything was transported on foot; men, women, children carried their few belongings on their backs. I often saw them break down under their burden, but the soldiers kept on driving them forward with the butt-ends of their rifles, even sometimes with their bayonets. I have dressed bleeding wounds of women that resulted from these bayonet-stitches. Many children had lost their parents and were now without any support. Three hours from Osmania two dying men were lying absolutely alone in the field, they had been here for days without any food or even a drop of water, after their companions had continued their march. They had grown as thin as skeletons and only their heavy breathing showed that there was still life in them. Unburied women and children were lying in the ditches. The Turkish officials in Osmania were very obliging, I could obtain many things from them and many a grievance was redressed. I got carriages to gather the dying people and to bring them to town.

Enclosure 2

Report of Sister B. Rohner about a Visit in the Camp of Mamouret on Nov: 26: 1915

We saw thousands of tiny low tents, made out of thin material. An innumerable crowd of people belonging to all ages and every class of society! They were looking at us partly surprised, partly with indifferent desperation. A group of hungry begging children and women were at our heels: “Hanum, bread! Hanum, I an hungry, we did not eat anything today and yesterday!”

You had only to look into the greedy, pale faces, full of grief, to know that their words were true. About 1800 loaves could be procured. Everybody fell greedily upon us; the priests who were charged with the distribution of bread had almost to fight for their lives. But it was by no means sufficient and no further bread was to be had. A large number of hungry people stood imploringly before us. The gendarmery had to keep them back by force. Suddenly the order for departure was given. If anybody did not hurry in striking their tent it was pulled down with the bayonet. Three carriages and a number of camels were kept ready. A few wealthy people quickly hired the carriages, other less well-to-do people loaded a camel with their things. The wailing of the poor, old and sick filled the air. “We can’t go any further, let us die here.” But they had to go on. At least we were able to pay for a camel for some of them, or to give small coin to others in order to buy some bread at the next station; also clothes, sewn at the Mission-Station in Adana, were distributed. Soon the immense procession was moving further. Some of the most stretched people and some newly made graves were left behind. As many as 200 poor, old and sick people are said to have remained there until some help could be brought to them. The misery increased a hundredfold because of the rain and the heavy cold that had set in. Everywhere the caravans left behind dying people, little children and sick people perishing miserably. Also the epidemic spread more and more.

Enclosure 3

Report of Sister Paula Schäfer about a Visit in the Camp of Islahie on the 1st. of Dec: 1915

It had rained for three days and three nights; even in our houses the cold and dampness was felt very much. As soon as possible I set out on my way. About 200 families had been left behind at Mamouré. They were unable to proceed on account of misery and illness. In this rain the soldiers also did not feel any inclination to stir them up and to drive them on, so they were lying about as if they were in a lake. The rags of their beds did not have a single dry thread in them. Many women had their feet frozen, they were entirely black und ready to be amputated. The wailing and groaning was horrible. Everywhere dying people in last agonies and dead people lying about before the tents. Only by Bakshish the soldiers could be persuaded to bury them. It seemed a release to them when we came with dry clothes. They could change their things and get some bread and small coin. Then I drove in a carriage along the whole route to Islahie. Though I had seen much distress before, things and scenes I saw here defied description. A small woman was sitting by the road-side, a bed on her back, a young baby bound at the top of it; in her arms she had a child of two years with eyes grown dim, at the last gasp. The woman had broken down in distress and wept heart-breakingly. I took her with me to the next camp where the child died; then I took care of her and sent her on the way. She was so grateful. The whole carriage was packed with bread, I just kept on distributing all the time. Three or four times there was chance to buy some fresh bread. These thousands of loaves were a great help to us. I also could hire hundreds of animals to send the poor people forward. The camp in Islahie itself is the saddest thing I have ever seen. Right at the entrance a heap of dead bodies lay unburied. I counted 35, in another place 22, right close by where the tents of those people who were down with bad dysentery. The filth in around these tents was something indescribable. In one single day the burial-commission buried as many as 580 people. Men were fighting for bread like hungry wolves, there were unpleasant scenes to be met with. How apathetic and shy these poor people often stared at me as though they wondered where this help came from! Since weeks many camps are daily provided with bread; of course everything has to be done as little conspicuous as possible. We are so thankful to God that we at least may do something.

Enclosure 4

On the Way to Aleppo. Dec.13.1915

I should have written long before this – but during these last weeks I was more on the way than at home, and the work in the camps was often so urgent that I could not find time for anything else. I suppose you have got in the meantime the receipt for the 200 liras you sent me. Many thanks for the quick response. I only wish you could see these poor people yourself; you would get an impression of the most dreadful need and distress that are hidden in these camps. It is simply indescribable, one must have seen it. So far I have had no difficulty what so ever, on the contrary, the officials here are most obliging and grateful for everything we are doing for the poor. You will find some enclosed reports which Miss Rohner copied for you also, they will give you an idea of what we are doing here. Up to the present we have worked in four camps, 12 hours distant. We often could distribute for about 10 – 20 liras bread every day, besides this we gave flour, clothes and Nirra to many ill people for the long journey. Sometimes it happened that in some places we did not have nearly enough bread – in that case we provided the people with money in order to buy bread at the next oven on the route.

Now we are on our way to Aleppo, Miss Rohner will stay there for some weeks D.V. to prepare everything for another journey to Der-Vor (?). I intend to come back soon since there is still much work to do on the route Mamoure-Islahie and it seems to me we ought not to give up the work among the distressed as long as anybody of them is left in this place, because they would absolutely die of starvation. According to our last experience we shall need about 300 – 400 liras in a month. Dr. Shepard told me to send to you word about this because I should get the money from you. It would be better not to stop the work for lack of money, because the poor would suffer by it. If however you think that less money ought to be spent, or the whole work should be given up, please send me a telegram in time so that we may stop the affair. If not will you please be so kind to send me the amount of money through the Deutsche Orient Bank in Adana. I do not like to telegraph for it every time, because it might attract too much attention. If you should prefer to settle this matter in a different way, will you please inform me of it. Today I have asked you by wire to send me 400 liras, 200 for Mamoure, 200 for Islahie-Hassan Beyli.

I hope you are well. We got message that Dr. Sheppard is ill with typhus. I hope that God will soon give him new strength.

With best wishes from me and Sister Rohner I always remain, Yours faithfully

[Paula Schäfer.]

[Note by Mordtmann, 29 December]


1) Letter from Sister Beatrice Rohner to Director Schuchardt from 15 December; enclosed:

Report by Sister Paula Schaefer from 16 November on a visit to the Armenian concentration camp in the plains of Baghché Osmania; report by Beatrice Rohner on a visit to the camp in Mamure on 26 November; report by Sister Paula Schaefer on a visit to the camp in Islahié on 1 December.

2) an envelope containing:

Letter from Beatrice Rohner to Mr. Peet (at the Biblehouse here) from 15 December; from Paula Schaefer "on the way to Aleppo" from 13 December, mainly concerning the procurement of financial means to assist the Armenians.

Also, a transcript of the reports mentioned under No. 1).

In my humble opinion, there are no reservations to passing on the letters under 2) with the enclosure; the conditions in the Armenian concentration camps are sufficiently well known here from other, particularly oral descriptions; there is no reason to prevent the philanthropic purpose.

[From the Embassy in Constantinople to the Reichskanzler, 29 December]

Your Excellency, I enclose a letter for Mr. F. Schuchardt, Director of the German Christian Charity-Organisation for the Orient, from Sister Beatrice Rohner, who works for the charity organisation in Marash and respectfully leave it to your discretion to have the letter sent on to its destination after examining its contents.

[From Beatrice Rohner (Marasch Station) to Mordtmann, 15 December] [Note by Mordtmann: Arrived on the afternoon of 27 December together with enclosures, not by post but in a manner unknown to me.]

Dear Privy Councillor,

You might be interested in the enclosed report, which I am sending to your honoured address with the request that you kindly send it on. The Americans are also prepared to assist with their Rockefeller Foundation, should it be possible to do something inofficially in Aleppo.

Is it not possible for 2 German nuns to receive official permission to do Red Cross work amidst this mass misery? If you could send us a reply to this question to the German Consulate in Aleppo, we would owe you a great deal of gratitude. We can guarantee that not a word will be breathed on politics, etc. [Note by Mordtmann: Not easily comprehensible.]

Yours very sincerely,

Beatrice Rohner.

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