1915-08-14-DK-001
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Source: DK/RA-UM/Gruppeordnede sager 1909-1945. 139. D. 1,
”Tyrkiet - Indre Forhold”. Pakke 1, til 31 dec. 1916

Edition: Danish diplomatic sources
Embassy/consular serial number: No. 97
Translated by: Matthias Bjørnlund
Last updated: 04/01/2012


The minister in Constantinople (Carl Ellis Wandel) to the Foreign Minister (Erik Scavenius)

Report



No. 97
Constantinople, 14 August 1915.

Confidential.

Mr. Foreign Minister,

In my previous reports I have already shown how the Young Turk government has, in order to strengthen its position at home, lately gotten to the point where is has made xenophobia and hatred toward the Christians a leading principle in its policies; thereby it seeks to rob the opposition, which accuses it of selling the country to the infidels, of one of its best weapons, but as it does not know how to exercise moderation it goes further than the despotism did in its day and age.

The aim of this policy is to make the foreigners and the Christians leave the country by making their lives in Turkey unbearable, and thereby at the same time satisfy the fanaticism that has become an asset to the government, but there can of course be no talk of its rational completion – at least not concerning the Greeks – , and this whole movement is therefore primarily characterized by expediency.

The persecution of Armenians and Greeks; the injustices against the Catholic Church; the forced conversions to the Mohammadan faith, the language coercion that has as its aim to make usage of the Turkish language obligatory before the necessary steps have been taken to make it applicable, etc., etc.; all this shows that it is not the result of a wise calculation if one takes a long view.

The German embassy has, as reported, indeed already intervened against the persecutions of the Greeks, and today I hear that Germany has also protested against the persecutions of Armenians that have resumed with renewed force during the last days.

For Turkey's own sake it is probably also about time that these persecutions are halted.

The fanatical Committee complains that there is no patriotism to be found in Constantinople, which it wants to change into a purely Turkish-Mohammadan capital, but it does not seem to take into consideration that, even seen from a purely academic standpoint, it makes a big mistake by banishing the aliens and the Christians, as it thereby banishes the entire intelligentsia from the country, the part of the population that possesses genius, insight, and means, the business men, the scientists, and the financiers, and that if the principle of "Turkey for Turks" is to be carried through only officials and peasants will be left in the country.

Concerning the new, above-mentioned language compulsion that has been introduced here, and about which I have not yet had the opportunity to mention in my earlier reports, I use this occasion to report the following:

In the future all privileged and concessionary companies, like e.g. the Ottoman Bank, the railroad-, tram-, and electricity companies, are to use Turkish as administrative language, which will be both difficult and costly to accomplish as the majority of the foreign specialists, administrators, and technicians who are leaders of these companies do not master the Turkish language. Furthermore, it is now being demanded that the Turkish language shall rank as number one among the languages that are taught in the Turkish schools, just as the Turkish language shall rank as number one on signs and posters, including in those places where hardly any Turks come.

It is admitted from Turkish side that the Turkish written language presently has major practical deficiencies, especially concerning the letters; there are more than 100 letters, but there is a complete lack of vowels which means that many words with quite different pronounciations and meanings are written in the same way. Over the last years a series of reform attempts have been made (the Ministry of War, for instance, has experimented with the introduction of vowels in various publications), but it has not been possible for the conservative and the radical reformers to agree on a proposal to improve the Turkish language.

The Turkish Ministry of Education has a short while ago established a commission to examine the difficult language reform question, but it is telling of the immediate circumstances here that extensive language compulsion has been introduced before the said commission has had the opportunity to make any suggestion.

With the highest esteem I remain, Mr. Minister, yours faithfully
[Wandel]



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