Further to report No. 703 dated 13th of this month and other reports from elsewhere.
Your Excellency, I have the honour of enclosing the copy of a report by Marshall Liman von Sanders on the deportation of the Armenians in Smyrna. As you can see from the above-mentioned and from the secondary report mentioned, the steps taken against the Armenians have been done so upon orders from Constantinople. The pretext for the deportations - the supposed finding of bombs and weapons at an Armenian cemetery - belongs to the already well-known inventory of such pretexts by the Turkish authorities. The intervention of the Marshall is also welcome because in Smyrna, as is the case in other places too, the rumour is going around that the German military authorities had demanded the expulsion of the Armenians. I will not fail to approach the Turkish government about the occurrence and recommend to it that it take great care in dealing with the Armenian question; but I believe I should refrain from suggesting a emigration to Germany [Comment by Zimmermann: Of course, this is out of the question.] in order not to arouse the ever keen mistrust of the Turks.
Military Mission B.No. 1950 secret
Constantinople, 17 November 1916
Towards the evening of Thursday, 9 November, when I returned from an inspection of the Austrian battery near Phokia, I was informed by Consul Graf v. Spee that on the 8th and during the previous night, numerous arrests of Armenians had taken place in Smyrna and that these Armenians had been transported to the interior of the country by train.
I made enquiries with various authorities. It was confirmed to me that several hundred Armenians had been arrested by the police - partly in the roughest manner, by fetching old women and sick children out of their beds in the night - and had been taken straight to the train station. Two trains full of Armenians had been transported away. In the town, there was great excitement about these occurrences.
On the morning of 10 November I sent the Chief of Staff of the 5th Army, Colonel Kiasim Bey, to the Vali and had it said to him that I would no longer tolerate such mass arrests and transportations which in many ways intervened in military matters in a town threatened by the enemy. Should the police nevertheless continue with these acts, I would make the troops under my control prevent them by force of arms. I gave the Vali time until midday the same day to make up his mind.
I arranged for the commanding general in Smyrna, the Royal Prussian Colonel Trommer, who was already familiar with the events, to be informed by Major Prigge of the above report and the possible steps to be taken.
Around 1.30 in the afternoon Major Kiasim Bey arrived back from the Vali, who was in Burnabad, and informed me that the arrests and transportations had been stopped and would be discontinued.
On the afternoon of the same day, the first head of department of the Vali, Kara Biber Bey, came to me and I had a detailed conversation with him on the matter.
The same evening 3 Greeks came to me from Urla near Smyrna (about 25000 Greek inhabitants) and reported to me that the 10 most respected and richest notabilities in Urla had been arrested without a hearing by 30 gendarmes, sent directly there for that purpose, and have been put into prison in Smyrna. The Greeks asked for help.
On the morning of 11 November I was in Urla for inspections. I found the fact confirmed and received further reports from the commander of that section.
That same afternoon the Vali visited me personally. In the course of a long discussion, the Vali explained to me the reasons for the mass arrest of Armenians. I could not accept these reasons, which were based on completely insufficient grounds, and emphasised that the military situation absolutely called for the greatest calmness in the town of Smyrna, which was mainly inhabited by Greeks.
The Vali told me in confidence that he had enforced the rules in agreement with the Minister Talaat Bey and other significant persons (committee members) for the reasons mentioned previously.
I explained to the Vali that, as Commander-in-Chief, I could not tolerate these actions in my district without endangering the peace. He could refer anyone to me. He agreed and promised to keep me informed in writing.
I also arranged for an immediate investigation into the arrest of apparently innocent citizens of Urla.
I departed that evening. The Vali was at the station.
Shortly after my return to Panderma, the Supreme Command received a letter from the Vali informing him to which place the Armenians had been brought and explaining that those who were found to be innocent would be transported back to Smyrna.