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Source: DK/RA-UM/Gruppeordnede sager 1909-1945. 139 N. 1, ”Armenien”
Edition: Danish diplomatic sources
Departure of telegram: 04/10/1917
Arrival of telegram: 05/03/1917
Embassy/consular serial number:
Translated by: Matthias Bjørnlund
Last updated: 03/23/2012

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


Constantinople, 10 April 1917. [document number is missing]


Mr. Foreign Minister,

Today I had a visit by a German colonel M.C. who had been staying in Armenia until recently and who had brought letters to me from the Danish missionaries in Harput and Mezereh, where the remaining Christians seem to be living under desperate conditions.

About 5000 women and children who have stayed behind have escaped to these towns and have nothing to live from. The Turks and the Kurds had first abducted them from their villages and were later chasing them away when they could not feed them, so now they perish in hardship and misery.

The American, Danish, and German missionaries do what they can to give shelter to these poor people, but not even in the miserable huts without doors and windows where they are now lying crammed together are they left in peace. When the authorities need firewood for the soldiers, they chase the women and children out on the street and tear down the houses to chop the timber into firewood.

The homeless people, barelegged and almost without clothing, have therefore often no other home than the ice-covered streets and roads.

Dysentery, black smallpox, pneumonia, spotted fever, gangrene, and many other diseases plague the population that is so starved that it has hardly any resistance power left.

The fields are unsown. There is almost nothing left of the fruit- and wineorchards, and the soldiers are digging up the roots.

The cattle have been killed because there was no fodder, and the Turks declare that if they have to evacuate the country the will burn down the towns before they flee from the Russians.

In that case the last Christians will most likely be killed too.

Under these conditions it is to be feared, too, that a falling out or a war between America and Turkey will have fatal consequences in the still Turkish part of Armenia.

It is the Americans who provide the money without which it is impossible to bring any relief to the Christians there, and if the American consul and the American missionaries have to leave the country the remaining Armenians will most likely die from starvation, if they do not suffer a worse fate.

The heart bleeds thinking of what will be the fate of the young girls and children who have hitherto been protected by the Americans.

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


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