As a member of the Board of Governors of the German Mission for the Blind in the Middle East, I received a letter dated 26 March of this year from the head of our home for the blind in Malatia, Ernst I. Christoffel, which contains Mr. Christoffel’s view of the situation and the future of the Armenians in Asia Minor. I take the liberty of sending a transcript of the same for your kind attention, without commenting on report.
Report on the situation of the Armenians by Mr. Ernst I. Christoffel, Manager of the Malatia Home for the Blind, to Vicar G. Stoevesandt, Berlin.
The losses to the Armenian people during the period since the deportation in the summer of 1915 until today have surpassed 2 million. Some of them were killed in jail after suffering dreadful agonies of torture. Most of the women and children died of hunger, disease or were murdered en route to their place of exile. I cannot go into details. Should my dear friend, Andreas Krueger, have a chance to see you, he will more or less be able to fill in my naked sentences.
The last wretched few of the deported eke out a miserable existence on the plains of Syria and northern Mesopotamia, and their numbers are depleting daily due to diseases and forced conversions. Only a few men are left. There are still a number of scattered or refugees in the Anatolian towns, most of whom, however, have converted to Islam. Apart from the forced conversions which took place in masses, a further characteristic symbol was the mass adoption of Armenian children. This was carried out for many thousands. They are being artificially turned into fanatical Mohammedans. The number of murders has decreased, but the process of annihilation has not stopped, merely taken on other forms.
The people have been robbed of everything. Possessions, family, honour, religion, life. In the fall of 1915, a general pardon was issued for the Protestant and Catholic Armenians, probably at the instigation of the German and Austrian embassy, which was to protect them from being deported and leave them their possessions. It made no difference. It was mainly suppressed until the Protestant men were killed, nor did it have any practical significance for the women and children.
With the exception of the German institutions, the preaching of God’s Word has ceased from the Black Sea as far as Syria; the Protestant parishes have been annihilated. Apart from individual exceptions (which could amount to 4 – 5), their preachers have been killed. Their chapels and schools have been taken away, desecrated or destroyed. The same applies to the Catholic and Gregorian Armenian parishes.
It is ridiculous to place the responsibility on the Armenian revolutionary circles. From the Turkish point of view they erred greatly, not so from the Armenians’. It was not the nation as such, which was guilty, but only a small minority. The Turkish government knows this just as well as everyone else in this country. It is incredibly difficult for us German missionaries that Germany is regarded by Christians and Mohammedans as being the originator of these atrocities. This opinion is being fed and fortified from the Turkish side. Should this accusation continue to hang over Germany, then it will prove to be the greatest impediment in the decades to come for German missions, both with regard to the Christians as well as the Mohammedans. News issued from Turkish circles or circles friendly towards the Turks must either be completely rejected or treated with the greatest distrust. Should this persecution ever be investigated, Germans should urge that
1) impartial, independent men are appointed to do so, who also understand the religious side of the question.
2) The Armenians who were forced to convert to Islam must be given the opportunity to reverse the conversion, and to do so without having to fear danger for their lives and limbs.
3) The relatives of those children staying in Mohammedan homes must have the right to demand that these children be returned to them.
4) The church and school buildings must be returned.
5) Real estate must be returned or its value recompensed.
6) The Armenians must be allowed to emigrate.
7) Christian services must not be stopped.
We German missionaries here in the interior cannot do much more than to more or less passively assist the Oriental Christendom in their great suffering. Action, however, is a matter for the German Protestant Christendom and the German Protestant missionary circles.
I am convinced that, if the truth were known, a single cry of indignation would pass through our people. There is no doubt that that which was and is still being done to the Armenian people is the greatest crime in the history of the world. Will the people of the Reformation accept the complete annihilation of a Christian nation by a degenerate, inferior race as a given fact? Will the German Protestant Church, celebrating its Reformation centennial this year, have no word of protest about the fact that a sister church was destroyed by sadistical fanatics? That would neither German, nor Christian.
Please make use of my letter wherever you can. Possibly you could let His Excellency Dryander see it.
God, however, the Lord of the Church, should lead you always.
And one more thing: we need financial assistance, and more assistance, and even more assistance. Missionary goods of the highest value are at stake.
Please give my respects to your dear wife.
Our beloved Lord be with you; your faithful,