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Link: http://www.armenocide.net/armenocide/armgende.nsf/$$AllDocs/1915-07-16-DE-003
Source: DE/PA-AA/R14086
Publication: DuA Dok. 116 (gk.)
Central register: 1915-A-22101
Embassy register: A53a/1915/4245
Edition: Genocide 1915/16
Date of entry in central register: 07/23/1915 a.m.
Embassy/consular serial number: Nr. 449
Translated by: Linda Struck (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 04/22/2012

From the Ambassador in Constantinople (Wangenheim) to the Reichskanzler (Bethmann Hollweg)


No. 449
Pera, 16 July 1915

1 enclosure

I have the honour of conveying to Your Excellency the enclosed copy of a report by the Imperial Consul in Samsun dated 4th inst., concerning the expulsion of the Armenians. I have informed Mr. Kuckhoff that I am in agreement with his opinion and his observations and have supplied him with instructions concerning the securing of the protection of the German interests. On the one hand, the report confirms again that an Armenian conspiracy did in fact exist, but that, however, on the other hand, the rigorous measures of the Turkish government cannot be regarded as justified. Unfortunately, my interventions with the Porte promise only little success.

If I have recently reported in greater detail about these occurrences to Your Excellency, then this was done under the presumption, which is also shared by Vice Consul Kuckhoff, that our enemies will later accuse us of being accomplices. With the help of my reports, we will be in a position to prove to the hostile world at an appropriate time, in particular through the press, that we have always expressly condemned the exaggerated measures of the Turkish government and even more so the excesses of local official bodies.




Samsun, 4 July 1915.

No. 349.

On 25th June inst., I telegraphed the following message:

”Due to a general conspiracy and treason as well as the destruction of some towns in Anatolia and the murder of their Muslim population, the government has ordered the expulsion of all the Armenian people to Mesopotamia, giving them five days’ notice to wind up their local affairs. As the Armenians both here and in the interior of the country have considerable German debts, I am requesting steps to be taken to secure these. If the governmental measures are carried out to the full, those war enemies who are allied with the conspirators are expected to take reprisals by destroying all coastal towns.”

The main reason for these measures is said to have been the seizure of the town of Van on the part of the Armenians and the declaration of independence of the same, as well as the destruction of Shabin Kara-Hissar (Vilayet Sivas). Allegedly, the revolutionaries in both places have murdered the entire Muslim population, including the Greek Bishop in Karahissar who tried to hide Turkish families in his home.

It is a fact that a great Armenian conspiracy was excellently organised in the whole of Anatolia and was in constant contact with foreign countries. In all towns the conspirators were well equipped with weapons, ammunition and bombs. Many of these were discovered by the authorities, but most of them must still be hidden. The government, therefore, has every reason to put an end to this dangerous revolutionary activity.

However, the countermeasures taken — apparently valid for all Anatolian Vilayets — are of a severity and so conflicting with all humanitarian feelings that they cannot simply be treated with indifference: they involve nothing less than the destruction or enforced Islamization of a whole people, whose relatives for the greatest part did not even participate in the revolutionary movement and are therefore innocent victims themselves. The way in which the expulsion orders are being carried out threatens to go to such extremes that it only finds parallels in the persecution of the Jews in Spain and Portugal: The government sent fanatical, strictly religious Muslim men and women into all Armenian homes to spread propaganda for converting to Islam, of course under threat of serious consequences for those who remain true to their beliefs. As far as I know, many families have already converted up to now and the number is increasing daily. The majority of those poor people managed to resist the temptation up to now and groups of them have been driven each day into the interior of the country. Hardly any of them had time to wind up their affairs. They had to leave their homes and their possessions, taking with them only the bare necessities. As I have heard, they are now being held in places which are not far away, in order to be prepared even more thoroughly for the Islamic faith; some of them even returned here for this purpose. In the area around Samsun, all Armenian villages have been converted to Islam, in Uniah likewise. Privileges were not granted to anyone except the renegades. All Armenians without exception: men, women, the old, children, even babies, the Orthodox, Protestants and Catholics — the latter never took part in any national revolutionary movement and were also spared by Hamid — had to leave. No Christian Armenian is allowed to stay here; not even those of foreign nationality; the latter are to be expelled from the country. The destination of those exiled from Samsun is said to be Urfa, according to a statement by the Mutessarif.

For sure no Christian Armenian will reach this destination. According to news from the interior, there are already reports of the disappearance of the deported population of whole towns.

In view of the circumstances described above, on 1 July I sent you the following reply to your two telegrams of 29th prev.: “Some of the debtors have converted and thus retain their rights; the largest part has left. Possessions and stocks are to be confiscated and the proceeds are to serve as security for German creditors. According to the statement by the governor, a commission is to be formed to attend to the winding up of businesses. Collect lists from banks and agency businesses of German companies and assets. Messrs. Torque Mada and Arbuez are working very hard in the interior collecting creditors. German life insurance companies there are very interested; therefore I urgently request their protection.”

As I cannot transmit ciphered telegrams, I took the liberty of pointing out the currently prevailing conditions in an indirect way in my two final sentences.

I have tried to influence the governor to limit the measures of the government to the temporary exile of the male population between the ages of 17 and 60 years, in order to be able to determine the genuinely guilty ones. I also pointed out to him the embarrassing impression his measures are likely to have on the Christian population in Germany and Austria. But all in vain: fanatics cannot be approached with sensible reasoning! What are the consequences? By wiping out the Armenian element, all doings and dealings in Anatolia will be destroyed and any economic development of the country made impossible for many years to come, since all the businessmen, industrialists and craftsmen are almost exclusively Armenians. I also explained this point to the governor; unfortunately, without any success.

It is the firm principle of the current rulers to Islamise the whole of Turkey and to use any available means of doing so. They have not the least appreciation of the enormous losses suffered by the country, as well as the local and foreign business worlds as a result of the destruction of the Armenian element. The German creditors must also be badly affected. For the time being, it is not possible to stipulate final measures for their protection as it is not yet certain which of the debtors will be converting to Islam and thus staying here and which of them will disappear.

I have received lists of the debtors with details of the amounts owed from the Ottoman & Salonik Bank as well as from Hochstrasser. I have also spoken to the Mutessarif about the measures to be taken. It is said that a corresponding law is in preparation in Constantinople, which will clarify the matter. In the meantime, all the possessions of the deportees have been confiscated.

It is foreseeable what consequences the Armenian question will bring about once the atrocities become known. A cry of indignation from the whole of the Christian world is inevitable. All the work of the Protestant and Catholic missions in Anatolia has been destroyed. Our enemies will be able to make excellent capital out of it and even among our fellow-country­men a feeling of deepest indignation is bound to arise.

The worst thing about it is that the whole world will put the blame on Germany, as both friend and enemy believe that the power of the Sublime Porte is completely in our hands, and that such an extreme measure could only have been carried out with the approval of the Germans.

The fanaticism enflamed in the Muslims and our unusual position in Turkey in the present state of the world, as well as the state of mind of the leading political circles of the Golden Horn, make it easy to foresee the problems which stand in the way of a satisfactory solution to the Armenian question from the humanitarian, practical and sensible point of view.

Nevertheless, I hope that Your Excellency’s experienced flexibility will succeed in putting a stop to the total destruction of the largest part of one of the oldest and unhappiest peoples on this earth.

I do not know whether my telegraphic messages have reached you, either at all or in good time. In any case, it would be recommendable to allow me the opportunity of sending ciphered messages in order to transmit exact reports in good time, for who knows how much innocent blood has even been shed during the conveyance of this report.


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