1915-11-16-DE-001
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Link: http://www.armenocide.net/armenocide/armgende.nsf/$$AllDocs/1915-11-16-DE-001
Source: DE/PA-AA/R14089
Publication: DuA Dok. 202 (gk.)
Central register: 1915-A-35046
Edition: Genocide 1915/16
Date of entry in central register: 12/04/1915 p.m.
Embassy/consular serial number: K. No. 108/B. No. 2577
Translated by: Vera Draack (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 04/22/2012


From the Consul in Aleppo (Roessler) to the Reichskanzler (Bethmann Hollweg)

Report



K. No. 108 / B. No. 2577
Aleppo, 16 November 1915

The Turkish Embassy in Berlin published the statement on the revolt in Urfa, which is respectfully enclosed and which was published in the Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung dated 28 October, No. 299 (2nd issue), giving me cause for the following remarks. It states, among other things:

"The specific aim of the gangs causing the revolt was, on the one hand, to cause damage, to destroy foreign branches and to kill subjects of those countries which are in a state of war with Turkey in order to shift the consequences of these murders onto Turkey. On the other hand, they wanted to bind a part of the Imperial troops to the reinforced hiding places and have them withdraw from the theatre of war."

On the other hand, it must be remembered that the purpose of the revolt cannot be understood without knowing the events leading up to it. Urfa suffered gravely from the slaughtering of the Armenians twenty years ago. Among other things at that time, 1000 people were deliberately burned in the church into which they had been lured under the pretext of receiving asylum there. Since then, the Armenians have lived in constant fear of a repetition of these slaughters and equipped themselves with weapons so as not to be defenceless.

When the deportation of the Armenians was ordered in the spring of this year, the local Vali, Djelal Bey, who refused to carry this out and was therefore transferred, told me, ”It is the most natural right of a human being to live. The worm one steps on writhes. The Armenians will defend themselves.”

The inhabitants of Urfa had already found out what kind of disciplinary prevention was resorted to by the Turkish government against the Armenians in the present world crisis. About the middle of June 50 of the most respected of them were arrested and one of them was almost beaten to death with 100 strokes of the cane (enclosure to my report No. 67 dated 29 June). Shortly thereafter, they were set to march on the road to Diyarbekir where supposedly they were to be sentenced. On the way, however – and thus, without sentence being passed – they were killed. Among these people was the pharmacist of many years’ standing of the German Hospital who, according to the evidence given by the German missionaries, had been a loyal Ottoman subject, as had been many among the 50 taken away. The people of Urfa also had the fate of the deported in mind, who arrived from the north and the east. They knew that the men would be murdered, the women and girls violated, at best put into Muslim harems, and that the rest, namely children and older women, would be abandoned to death by starvation. Thus their decision, rather to die with their weapons in their hands and sell their lives as dearly as possible than to let themselves and their families be destroyed or dishonoured. It is true that a general deportation of the Armenians from Urfa had not yet been decided upon when the revolt broke out. As far as is known here, the only cities in Turkey, which until then had not yet suffered this fate were Constantinople, Smyrna, Aleppo and Urfa. But what guarantee was there that Urfa would not be next? Already in May, 18 families had been exiled, and I have just spoken about the annihilation of the 50 in June. It seemed reasonable that, like everywhere, the masses too would be deported after their leaders had been eliminated. Houses were searched for weapons, during which action a patrol was shot. A second shooting, which was not explained then triggered off the crisis.

The Armenians have not seized "foreign branches", as generally claimed in the statement, from which a German who is familiar with the circumstances would conclude that German missionary houses had also been drawn into the battle. Rather, they have only occupied the American mission, which is positioned advantageously for their defence.

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The Armenians have also kept the American missionary, Leslie, and seven French subjects as hostages in their district, but not, however, to kill them. Had they wished to do so they would have had more than sufficient opportunity, because they had these foreigners in their power for days. It would have been more understandable if the statement had read, ”in order to have them killed by Turkish bullets”. The retention was, though, a desperate attempt to bind the fate of the foreigners to that of the Armenians so as to somehow improve their situation.

Finally, with regard to the assertion that the Armenians had seized the Muslim districts and begun to massacre the inhabitants: Major Count Wolffskehl, who was present at these incidents, testifies that this is completely fictitious. It reminds me of the following occurrence: when I was in Marash at the beginning of April and the few Armenians who dared to leave their houses at all fearfully pressed themselves against the walls of the houses under the pressure of the declared state of siege and for fear of that to come, Muslim intriguers attempted to send a telegram to Constantinople, the contents of which were that the Armenians had occupied the mosques in Marash and turned them into churches!

The dates given in the Turkish statement are those of the Oriental calendar. Thus, in the western calendar the shooting took place on 29 September and the revolt was suppressed on 16 October. Turkish casualties amounted to 50 and not 20; in addition, there were 120 to 130 wounded.

My explanation is not meant as a declaration of love or war to one party or the other, but I regard it as my duty to present what I consider to be the truth to Your Excellency on those things, which have happened in my area of competence.

I am sending the same report to the Imperial Embassy in Constantinople.


Rössler


Enclosure

(Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung.) [Northern German Daily Newspaper]

Berlin, 27 October [1915].

The Imperial Turkish Embassy announced the following: During the night of 16 September, Armenian gangs carried out a revolt. They entrenched themselves in strong buildings at the controlling points in the city of Urfa and opened fire on our gendarme patrols, killing two men and wounding eight others. Our gendarmes met with open fire everywhere. After the Armenians had seized the foreign branches and forcefully held back their owners they set up embrasures there. As these facts proved that the rebellious gangs were determined to offer armed resistance and to take advantage of the shortcomings of the gendarmes, only a small number of whom were present, and as they had finally seized the Moslem districts and began to massacre the inhabitants, some of those troops meant for the front line were dispatched to Urfa. The gangs’ hiding places were destroyed and the revolt was suppressed on 3 October. 20 soldiers and gendarmes were killed during this occurrence, 50 were wounded.

The specific aim of the gangs causing the revolt was, on the one hand, to cause damage, destroy foreign branches and kill subjects of those countries at war with Turkey in order to then shift the consequences of these murders to the Turks; on the other hand, they wanted to bind a part of the Imperial troops to the reinforced hiding places and, thus, have them withdraw from the theatre of war.

Thanks to the forceful and quick measures of the Imperial authorities, the revolt did not have the desired success. It was suppressed without a single subject of a nation at war with Turkey or of a neutral country being harmed.



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