REPORT OF WANGENHEIM, GERMAN AMBASSADOR IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE TO THE REICHSKANZLER BEHTMANN-HOLLWEG
JUNE 17, 1915
Deportation of the Armenians from their homes in the vilayets of eastern Anatolia, and their resettlement in other regions is implemented cruelly…
… it becomes obvious that deportation of the Armenians arises not only from military necessity. The internal minister Talaat bey told about it honestly to doctor Mortsman, who is employed at the empire embassy now. Talaat said: “the Sublime Porte intends to make use of the world war for cleaning the whole country from internal enemies, the local Christians, so that foreign countries won’t hinder doing it by their diplomatic interference. This measure will serve to the interests of all allies of turkey, especially the Germans and so the latter will be able to consolidate”...
Politisches Archiv des Auswartigen Amts des Kaiserlichen Deutschlands (Politarchiv). A-19743, ia Turkei 183. nr. 7122, r 14086.
FROM THE AMBASSADOR IN CONSTANTINOPLE (WANGENHEIM) TO THE REICHSKANZLER (BETHMANN HOLLWEG)
Report pr. 07/12/1915 p.m. A-21257 Pera, 7 July 1915 1 Enclosure
The expulsion and relocation of the Armenian people was limited until 14 days ago to the provinces nearest to the eastern theatre of war and to certain areas in the province of Adana; since then the Porte has resolved to extend these measures also to the provinces of Trapezunt, Mamuret-ul-Aziz and Siwas and has begun with these measures even though these parts of the country are not threatened by any enemy invasion for the time being. This situation and the way in which the relocation is being carried out shows that the government is indeed pursuing its purpose of eradicating the Armenian race from the Turkish Empire. In this respect I would like to add the following to my previous reports: On 26 June, according to reports by the Imperial Consul in Trapezunt, the Armenians in that area were ordered to depart within five days; their possessions were to remain behind under the supervision of the authorities. Only the sick were excepted; later an exception was granted for widows, orphans, old people and children under the age of five years, also for the sick and for Catholic Armenians.
According to the latest reports, however, most of the exceptions were revoked once again and only children and those who were not transportable remained behind; the latter were brought into hospitals.
Altogether, this involved about 30000 people in the Vilayet Trapezunt alone who were to be deported via Erzindjan to Mesopotamia. A mass transportation of this kind to a destination many hundreds of kilometres away, without sufficient means of transport, through areas that offer neither accommodation nor food and which are infested with epidemic diseases, in particular by typhus fever, is bound to claim numerous victims, in particular amongst the women and children. Besides this, the route for the deportees led through the Kurd district of Dersim, and the Vali of Trapezunt made an open declaration to the Consul, who had pointed such observations out to him at my instructions, that he could only guarantee the safety of the transport as far as Erzindjan. From that point onwards, they are letting the deportees practically run the gauntlet through bands of Kurds and other highwaymen. For example, the Armenians who had been expelled from the plain of Erzerum were ambushed on the way to Charput whereby the men and children were butchered and the women carried away. The Imperial Consul in Erzerum claims the number of Armenians killed there to be 3000. In Trapezunt, masses of Armenians have converted to Islam in order to avoid the threatened deportation and to save themselves and their belongings. Apart from the material damage incurred by the Turkish state as a result of the deportation and expropriation of a hard-working and intelligent element of the population, for which the Kurds and Turks who are preliminarily taking their places do not constitute worthy substitutes, our trade interests and the interests of the German welfare institutions existing in those parts of the country are also being severely damaged. Furthermore, the Porte does not realise the effect that these and other enforced measures, such as the mass executions here and in the country's interior, are having on public opinion abroad and the further consequences for the treatment of the Armenian question in future peace talks. In order to effectively counteract any possible later invectives on the part of our enemies, as if we were jointly to blame for the rigorous Turkish actions, I have considered it my duty to point out to the Porte that we can only approve of the deportation of the Armenian people if it is carried out as a result of military considerations and serves as a security against revolts, but that in carrying out these measures one should provide protection for the deportees against plundering and butchery. In order to lend the necessary weight to these objections, I have summarized them in the form of a memorandum which I have personally handed to the Grand Vizier on 4th inst.; I later sent copies of this memorandum to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of the Interior.
REPORT OF HOHENLOHE LANDENBURG, GERMAN DEPUTY AMBASSADOR IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE TO THE REICHSKANZLER BETHMANN-HOLLWEG
SEPTEMBER 25, 1915
...The following telegram, dated inst. 18, was received from mr. Rosler not long ago:
“In the last few days lots of caravans of Armenian women and children arrived here on foot, they were on the verge of starvation and will be sent farther, if they don’t die in a day or two. The order of the Sublime Porte to exempt from deportation those who are still in their homes is an absolute falsehood, as some of them may be considered suspicious and it is often used as a pretext (for the deportation of Armenians).
Despite this order exemption wasn’t made for the families of servicemen. Seriously ill people are also cruelly deported. the caravans of deportees move to Deir-el-Zor and Mosul. Despite the assertion of the Sublime Porte everything is directed to extermination of the Armenian population. the Armenians have asked me to inform your Excellency about all these”...
Politisches Archiv des Auswartigen Amts des Kaiserlichen Deutschlands (Politarchiv). A-28578, ia Turkei 183. nr. 7129, R 14088.
FROM THE AMBASSADOR IN EXTRAORDINARY MISSION IN CONSTANTINOPLE (WOLFF-METTERNICH) TO THE REICHSKANZLER (BETHMANN HOLLWEG)
Report pr. 07/14/1916 p.m.
A53a/1916/1952 A-18548 Therapia, 10 July 1916
The persecution of the Armenians in the eastern provinces has reached its final stage.
The Turkish government has not been put off in the execution of its programme for settling the Armenian question by destroying the Armenian race neither by our protests nor by the protests of the American embassy and the apostolic delegate nor also by the threats of the Entente powers, but least of all by considering the public opinion of the Occident. It is now about to dissolve and disperse the last groups of Armenians who have survived the deportations. These include Armenians who remained in northern Syria (Marasch, Aleppo, Ras-ul-Ain) as well as in some larger places in Asia Minor (Angora, Konia), especially those who had been deported there or had emigrated there earlier. But they are also clearing up among the old established population and among the Catholic and Protestant Armenians, although the Porte has repeatedly assured that the latter will be spared. The remainder will be deported partly to Mesopotamia, partly converted to Islam. The concentration camp in Rasul-Ain, which still had 2000 inhabitants at the end of April, has been completely evacuated; a first transport has been attacked and smashed to pieces while walking towards Der Zor; one can assume that the others have met no better a fate.
In Marasch and Aleppo the deportation is in full action; in Marasch not even the families were spared who had formerly been granted special permits by the Minister of the Interior. In Angora the Vali, Reschid Bey, well-known for his deeds in Diarbekir, is engaged in tracing the last Armenians (solely Catholics) and expelling them. The remaining Protestant and Catholic Armenians in Eskischehir and in the areas around Ismid are being treated in the same way. Despite all official denials, Islamization plays a great role in this last phase of the persecution of the Armenians. Already at the end of April, Father Christoffel from Siwas reported that he had met the last Christian Armenians in Eregli; from there to Siwas the Armenians had been completely cleared away, "either deported, or converted or murdered. There was not one Armenian sound to be heard anywhere."
In Karahissar Scharki there still appeared to be a few groups of Christian Armenians; recently they were said to have formed a committee together with the local Greeks in order to instigate a revolt among the soldiers. Following this, all Armenians were arrested, ready to be deported. They preferred to convert to Islam. Consul Loytved reported from Damascus on 30 June: "All Armenians are being more or less forced to become Muslims; in Derat, 149 families have accepted Islam; only one single family remained loyal to the Christian faith." It is high time to mention the methods practiced by the Porte on the institutions which had been run so far by German and American associations for the welfare of the Armenian people in those areas, such as orphanages, hospitals, schools, etc.. The few institutions that have not yet been closed down are threatened daily with deportation of the Armenian staff, the schoolchildren and orphans and with other disciplinary actions. The only concessions allowed by the government during the past year have now been withdrawn and there is only very little hope that these institutions will be able to resume their activities after the war to the same extent as before. The Turkish government has rightly recognised that schools and orphanages run by foreigners have had considerable influence on the arousing and development of Armenian national sentiments; it is, therefore, only consistent from the government's point of view if it puts them under rigorous control or closes them down altogether. Likewise one should not read a disciplinary measure propelled by religious fanaticism into the enforced Islamization of the Armenians at first. Such feelings were most likely strange to the Young Turkish rulers. On the other hand, it is true that in order to be a good Ottoman patriot down to the heart, one should especially bear witness to the Islamic faith. The history of the Turkish empire from its beginning until the present day is there to prove the truth behind the saying that in the Orient, religion and nationality are identical and every Ottoman is convinced of this deep down inside.
The countervailing official and unofficial assurances are insincere and, together with the accompanying custom of referring to the Koran and to tradition, are part of the traditional phraseology which has been used since the era of the reform fermanes in order to prove to Europeans the tolerance of Islam and of the Ottomans. Also, the denials with which the ministers countered the reports of religious persecution were first of all requirements of good form; but they do apply, in as far as the main motive is not religious fanaticism, as for example with the enforced conversion of the Jews and Moors in Spain in the 15th and 16th centuries, but the intention to amalgamate the Armenians with the Muslim population of the empire. Although - for various reasons - it is regrettable that we did not succeed in bringing the Armenian policy of the Porte onto a reasonable [Crossed in Berlin and replaced by the expression "more mild".] course, on the other hand neither our enemies nor the so-called neutrals have the slightest right to put the blame on us or even only to demand that we publicly pronounce our disapproval.
We have tried to ease the fate of that unhappy Armenian race in Turkey as well as we could, both through influencing the government as well as with our direct charity. The nameless atrocities of all kinds, which were committed on the German civilian and military prisoners in the course of the World War by the English, French and Russians, by those three nations who call themselves the champions of the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox faith, were never the subject of protests on the part of any one of the Entente powers towards another; there is just as little evidence that a voice was ever raised in the enemy press on behalf of the trampled human rights. However, there were credible reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury had not shy away from describing the well-known acts of the crew of the Baralong and of King Stephen in his sermons as God-pleasing acts. [Comment by Wilhelm II. on this paragraph: "very good"] .This circumstance is also known to the Porte, which repeatedly countered our protests in the Armenian question by referring to it. Not we, as is so often claimed, but rather our enemies have shown the Turks the ways of rendering suspicious elements of the population harmless without any respect for human rights. [Note by Wilhelm II. below this document: "correct!"]