The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, by Edward Grey

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org. If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire

Documents Presented to Viscount Grey of Fallodon

Compiler: Edward Grey

Contributor: James Bryce

Release Date: December 24, 2022 [eBook #69630]

Language: English

Produced by: Tim Lindell, KD Weeks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries)

*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE TREATMENT OF ARMENIANS IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE ***

Transcriber’s Note:

Footnotes have been collected at the end of each section, and are linked for ease of reference.

Minor errors, attributable to the printer, have been corrected. Please see the transcriber’s note at the end of this text for details regarding the handling of any textual issues encountered during its preparation.

Any corrections are indicated using an underline highlight. Placing the cursor over the correction will produce the original text in a small popup.

Any corrections are indicated as hyperlinks, which will navigate the reader to the corresponding entry in the corrections table in the note at the end of the text.

THE TREATMENT OF
ARMENIANS IN THE
OTTOMAN EMPIRE

DOCUMENTS PRESENTED TO
VISCOUNT GREY OF FALLODON
SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
WITH A PREFACE BY
VISCOUNT BRYCE
LAID BEFORE THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT
AS AN OFFICIAL PAPER AND NOW
PUBLISHED BY PERMISSION
HODDER AND STOUGHTON
ST. PAUL’ S HOUSE, WARWICK SQUARE, LONDON
AND AT NEW YORK AND TORONTO
MCMXVI
iii

TABLE OF CONTENTS.


The titles are italicised in the case of documents which relate merely to the condition of refugees in Egypt and Caucasia, and not to the events in Turkey and N.W. Persia of which these refugees had been the victims.

        PAGE
Map of Districts affected Frontispiece
Correspondence between Viscount Grey of Fallodon and Viscount Bryce xv.
Preface by Viscount Bryce xxi.
Letter from Mr. H.A.L. Fisher, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield University, to Viscount Bryce xxix.
Letter from Prof. Gilbert Murray, Regius Professor of Greek in the University of Oxford, to Viscount Bryce xxxi.
Letter from Mr. Moorfield Storey, ex-President of the American Bar Association, to Viscount Bryce xxxii.
Letter from Four German Missionaries to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Berlin xxxiii.
Memorandum by the Editor of the Documents xxxv.
         
I.—General Descriptions. 1
         
  1. Despatch from Mr. Henry Wood, Correspondent of the American “United Press” at Constantinople; published in the American Press, 14th August, 1915 2
  2. Despatch, dated 11th June, 1915, from an especially well-informed neutral source at Constantinople; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 4
  3. Extract from a letter, dated Arabkir, 25th June/8th July, 1915, communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 5
  4. Letter from an authoritative source, dated Constantinople, 15/28th June, 1915; published in the New York journal “Gotchnag,” 28th August, 1915 6
  5. Letter from the same source, dated Constantinople, 12/25th July, 1915; published in the New York journal “Gotchnag,” 28th August, 1915 8
  6. Letter from the same source, dated Constantinople, 13/26th July, 1915, and addressed to a distinguished Armenian resident beyond the Ottoman frontier 9
  7. Letter from the same source, dated Constantinople, 2nd/15th August, 1915, and addressed to the same Armenian resident beyond the Ottoman frontier 12
  8. Extracts from a letter, dated Athens, 8th/21st July, 1915, from an Armenian formerly resident in Turkey to a prominent Armenian in Western Europe 17
  9. Letter, dated 3rd/16th August, 1915, conveyed beyond the Ottoman frontier by an Armenian refugee from Cilicia in the sole of her shoe 20
  10. Letter from Mr. N., a foreign resident at Constantinople, dated 27th August, 1915; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 22
iv  11. Memorandum dated 15/28th October, 1915, from a well-informed source at Bukarest, relating to the extermination of the Armenians in Turkey 23
  12. Information regarding events in Armenia, published in the “Sonnenaufgang” (organ of the “German League for the Promotion of Christian Charitable Work in the East”), October, 1915; and in the “Allgemeine Missions-Zeitschrift,” November, 1915 25
  13. Statement made by a foreign resident at Constantinople to a Swiss gentleman at Geneva; communicated by the latter 28
  14. Cablegram, dated 4th May, 1916, transmitted through the State Department at Washington to the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief, from the Committee’s representatives in Turkey 29
         
II.—Vilayet of Van 31
         
  15. The American Mission at Van: Narrative printed privately in the United States by Miss Grace Higley Knapp (1915) 32
  16. Van: Letter dated Van, 7th June, 1915, from Mr. Y.K. Rushdouni; published in the “Manchester Guardian,” 2nd August, 1915 48
  17. Van: Narrative by Mr. Y.K. Rushdouni, published serially in the Armenian journal “Gotchnag,” of New York 52
  18. Van after the Turkish retreat: Letter from Herr Spörri, of the German Mission at Van, published in the German journal “Sonnenaufgang,” October, 1915 71
  19. Van after the massacres: Narrative of Mr. A.S. Safrastian, dated Van, 2nd December, 1915, and published in the Armenian journal “Ararat,” of London, January, 1916 72
  20. Van: Interview with a refugee, Mrs. Gazarian, published in the “Pioneer Press,” of St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A. 76
 
III.—Vilayet of Bitlis 79
         
  21. The North-Eastern Vilayets: Statement communicated by the Refugee Roupen, of Sassoun, to the Armenian Community at Moscow; published in the Russian Press, and subsequently reprinted in the “Gazette de Lausanne,” 13th February, 1916 0
  22. Bitlis, Moush and Sassoun: Record of an interview with Roupen, of Sassoun, by Mr. A.S. Safrastian, dated Tiflis, 6th November, 1915 83
  23. Moush: Statement by a German eye-witness of occurrences at Moush; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 88
  24. Moush District: Narrative of a deported woman, related by her to Mr. Vartkes, of Moush, recorded by him on the 25th July, 1915, and published subsequently in the Armenian journal “Van-Tosp” 92
  25. Moush: Résumé of information furnished by refugees in the Caucasus and published in the Caucasian Press, especially in the Armenian journal “Mschak”; compiled by Mr. G.H. Paelian, and communicated by him to the Armenian journal “Ararat,” of London, March, 1916 94
v  26. Bitlis: Letter dated 14th October, 1915, from a foreign resident at Bitlis to a German official; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 96
IV.—Azerbaijan and Hakkiari 99
  27. Urmia: Statement by the Rev. William A. Shedd, D.D., of the American (Presbyterian) Mission Station at Urmia; communicated by the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. 100
  28. First Exodus from Urmia, January, 1915: Report, dated 1st March, 1915, from the Rev. Robert M. Labaree, of the American Mission Station at Urmia, to the Hon. F. Willoughby Smith, U.S. Consul at Tiflis; communicated by the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. 105
  29. Azerbaijan, behind the Russian front: Extracts from a series of letters by the Rev. Robert M. Labaree; communicated by the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. 110
  30. Tabriz: Letter dated Tabriz, 17th March, 1915, from the Rev. F.N. Jessup; communicated by the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. 113
  31. Urmia during the Turco-Kurdish occupation: Diary of a Missionary, edited by Miss Mary Schauffler Platt, and published by the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. 119
  32. Urmia after its evacuation by the Turks and Kurds: Letter dated Urmia, 20th May, 1915, from Mrs. J.P. Cochran to friends in the United States; communicated by the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. 151
  33. Urmia: Letter, dated Urmia, 25th May, 1915, from the Rev. Y.M. Nisan to the Rev. F.N. Heazell, Organising Secretary of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Assyrian Mission 156
  34. Urmia: Narrative of Dr. Jacob Sargis, recorded in a despatch, dated Petrograd, 12th February, 1916, from the correspondent at Petrograd of the American “Associated Press” 158
  35. Urmia: Extracts from the Annual Report (for the year 1915) presented by the Medical Department at Urmia to the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. 161
  36. Urmia, Salmas and Hakkiari: Statement by Mr. Paul Shimmon, published in the Armenian journal “Ararat,” of London, November, 1915 164
  37. Hakkiari: Statement by Mr. Paul Shimmon, published in the “Churchman” newspaper, and subsequently issued as a pamphlet; communicated by Mrs. D.S. Margoliouth, of Oxford 169
  38. Refugees from the Hakkiari District: Series of extracts from letters by members of the American Mission Station at Urmia; communicated by the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. 172
vi  39. Refugees from Hakkiari: Letter dated 26th September/ 9th October, 1915, from a relative of Mar Shimun, the Patriarch; communicated by the Rev. F.N. Heazell 175
  40. Refugees from Hakkiari: Letter, dated Diliman, 1st/14th April, 1916, from Surma, the sister of Mar Shimun, to Mrs. D.S. Margoliouth, of Oxford 177
  41. The Nestorians of the Bohtan District: Letter, dated Salmas, 6th March, 1916, from the Rev. E.W. McDowell, of the Urmia Mission Station, reporting information brought by a young man (with whom Mr. McDowell was previously acquainted) who had escaped the massacre; communicated by the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. 180
  42. Second Exodus from Urmia: Letter dated Tabriz, 20th August, 1915, from Mr. Hugo A. Müller (Treasurer of the American Mission Station at Urmia); communicated by the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. 182
  43. Second Exodus from Urmia: Narrative of a Nestorian victim, the wife of the Rev. David Jacob, of Urmia, published in the Armenian journal “Ararat,” of London, January, 1916 184
  44. Urmia District: Report on the distribution of relief, covering the period 1st June to 31st December, 1915; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 187
  45. Azerbaijan: Statement, dated Tiflis, 22nd February, 1916, by Mr. M. Philips Price, War Correspondent for various British and American newspapers on the Caucasian Front; communicated to Aneurin Williams, Esq., M.P., and published in the Armenian journal “Ararat,” of London, March, 1916 191
V.—The Refugees in the Caucasus 193
         
  46. The Flight to the Caucasus: Despatches to the Armenian journal “Horizon,” of Tiflis, from Mr. Sampson Aroutiounian, President of the Armenian National Committee of Tiflis, who went in person to meet the Refugees 194
  47. The Flight to the Caucasus: Despatch from the special correspondent of the Armenian journal “Arev,” of Bakou 197
  48. Memorandum on the condition of Armenian Refugees in the Caucasus and Orphans at Van; compiled in the British Foreign Office from information, dated 9th December, 1915, which was furnished by Mr. Stevens, British Consul at Batoum 199
  49. Memorandum on the condition of Armenian Refugees in the Caucasus; compiled in the British Foreign Office from information, dated 29th December, 1915, which was furnished by Mr. Stevens, British Consul at Batoum 203
  50. Report on the activity of Armenian Refugee Relief Organisations in the Caucasus and Turkish Armenia; enclosed in a despatch (No. I.), dated Batoum, 3rd January, 1916, from Mr. Consul Stevens to the British Foreign Office 208
  51. Refugees in the Caucasus: Letter dated Erivan, 29th December, 1915, from the Rev. S.G. Wilson to Dr. Samuel T. Dutton, Secretary of the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 216
vii  52. Repatriation of Refugees: Letter, dated Erivan (?), March 1916, from the Rev. S.G. Wilson; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 219
         
VI.—Vilayet of Erzeroum 221
         
  53. Erzeroum: Record of an Interview between the Rev. H.J. Buxton and the Rev. Robert Stapleton, a missionary of the American Board, resident at Erzeroum from before the outbreak of war until after the capture of the city by the Russians 222
  54. Erzeroum: Report, dated 25th September, 1915, drawn up by the American Consul-General at Trebizond, after his return from a visit to Erzeroum; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 228
  55. Erzeroum: Abstract of a Report by Mr. B.H. Khounountz, representative of the “All-Russian Urban Union”, on a visit to Erzeroum after the Russian occupation; published in the Armenian journal “Horizon,” of Tiflis, 25th February, 1916 231
  56. Erzeroum: Abstract of a Report by Dr. Y. Minassian, who accompanied Mr. Khounountz to Erzeroum as representative of the Caucasian Section of the “All-Russian Urban Union”; published in the Armenian journal “Mschak,” of Tiflis, 8th March, 1916 233
  57. Erzeroum: Statement by Mr. A.S. Safrastian, dated Tiflis, 15th March, 1916 236
  58. Erzeroum: Statement by the Kurd Ali-Aghazadé Faro, published in the Armenian journal “Mschak,” 19th December, 1915 241
  59. Baibourt: Narrative of an Armenian lady deported in the third convoy; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 242
  60. Baibourt: Statement, reproduced from the Armenian journal “Horizon,” of Tiflis, in the Armenian journal “Gotchnag,” of New York, 18th March, 1916 244
  61. Baibourt, Keghi, and Erzindjan: Letter, dated Erzeroum, 25th May/7th June, 1915; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 245
  62. Erzindjan: Statement by two Red Cross Nurses of Danish Nationality, formerly in the service of the German Military Mission at Erzeroum; communicated by a Swiss gentleman of Geneva 246
  63. Kamakh and Erzeroum: Statement published in the New York journal “Gotchnag,” 4th September, 1915 255
         
VII.—Vilayet of Mamouret-ul-Aziz 257
         
  64. H.: Statement made by Miss D.A., a Danish lady in the service of the German Red Cross at H., to Mr. D.B., at Basle, and communicated by Mr. D.B. to Lord Bryce 258
  65. H.: Report, dated 11th July, 1915, from a foreign resident at H.; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 262
  66. H.: Memorandum forwarded by a foreign resident at H. (the author of the preceding report); communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 265
viii  67. H.: Narrative of an Armenian Refugee from H.; communicated to Lord Bryce by the correspondent of the London “Times” at Bukarest 268
  68. Mamouret-ul-Aziz: Narrative of an Armenian lady deported from C. (a place half-an-hour’s distance from H.), describing her journey from C. to Ras-ul-Ain; written after her escape from Turkey, and dated Alexandria, 2nd November, 1915; published in the Armenian journal “Gotchnag,” of New York, 8th January, 1916 271
  69. H.: Statement by the Principal of the College, dated 19th July, 1915; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 278
  70. H.: Statement by the Principal of the College, dated 19th July, 1915, relating to the deportation of Armenians from villages in the neighbourhood of H.; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 281
  71. H.: Letter, dated 10th November, 1915, from the Principal of the College at H. to Mr. N. at Constantinople; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 282
         
VIII.—Vilayet of Trebizond, and Sandjak of Shabin Kara-Hissar 285
         
  72. Trebizond: Report from a foreign resident at Trebizond; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 286
  73. Trebizond: Extracts from an interview with Comm. G. Gorrini, late Italian Consul-General at Trebizond; published in the journal “Il Messaggero,” of Rome, 25th August, 1915 290
  74. Trebizond: Narrative of the Montenegrin Kavass of the local branch of the Ottoman Bank; published in the Armenian journal “Arev,” of Alexandria, 2nd October, 1915 293
  75. Kerasond (Kiresoun), Trebizond and Shabin Kara-Hissar: Evidence collected by an Armenian gentleman from eye-witnesses now in Roumania; communicated by the correspondent of the London “Times” at Bukarest 294
  76. Trebizond and Erzeroum: Despatch from the correspondent of the London “Times” at Bukarest, dated Bukarest, 18th May, and published on the 22nd May, 1916 299
         
IX.—Sivas: The City and Parts of the Vilayet 301
         
  77. Sivas: Letter from a foreign resident at Sivas, dated 13th July, 1915; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 302
  78. Sivas: Letter written from Malatia by Miss Mary L. Graffam, Principal of the Girls’ High School at Sivas, to a correspondent at Constantinople; reprinted from the Boston “Missionary Herald,” December, 1915 305
  79. Extracts from a letter, dated Massachusetts, 29th August, 1915, from another foreign resident at Sivas to Mr. G.H. Paelian 309
  80. Sivas: Narrative of a naturalised Ottoman subject, dated New York City, 10th March, 1916; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 311
ix  81. Sivas: The Adventures of Murad; narrated by “S.H.S.” in the journal “The New Armenia,” of New York, 1st March, 1916 317
  82. Sivas: Record of an Interview given by the Refugee Murad to Mr. A.S. Safrastian at Tiflis 320
         
X.—Sandjak of Kaisaria 327
         
  83. Kaisaria: Statement by a traveller from Kaisaria, published in the Armenian journal “Balkanian Mamoul,” of Roustchouk 328
  84. Everek: Statement published in the Armenian journal “Gotchnag,” of New York, 28th August, 1915 329
  85. K.: Letter from a foreign resident at K., dated 16th November, 1915; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 330
         
XI.—The Town of X. 331
         
  86. X.: Narrative of the Principal of the College at X.; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 332
  87. X.: Address delivered in America, 13th December, 1915, by a professor from the College at X.; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 336
  88. X.: Statement by Miss AA., a foreign traveller in Turkey; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 349
  89. Narrative of Miss AA., a foreign traveller in Asiatic Turkey, describing a journey from X. to Z., 10th August to 6th September, 1915; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 356
  90. X.: Report from Mr. AL., a foreign resident at L., in Asiatic Turkey, dated 26th August, 1915; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 364
  91. X. (?): Narrative of a foreign resident of German nationality; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 367
  92. X.: Letter, dated New York City, 30th December, 1915, from Professor QQ., of the College at X., to an Armenian Professor resident beyond the Ottoman frontier 369
  93. X.: Narrative of a journey from X. to Constantinople, by Professor QQ., of the College at X.; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 373
  94. X.: Narrative of Miss CC., communicated by her to a Swiss gentleman at Geneva during her passage through Switzerland in December, 1915 378
         
XII.—The City of Angora 381
         
  95. Angora: Statement by a traveller, not of Armenian nationality, who passed through Angora in August, 1915 382
  96. Angora: Extract from the narrative (Doc. 88 of Miss AA., a foreign traveller in Asiatic Turkey; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 385
x  97. Angora: Extract from a letter dated 16th September, 1915; appended to the Memorandum (Doc. 11, dated 15/28th October, 1915, from a well-informed source at Bukarest 388
         
XIII.—Thrace, Constantinople, Broussa and Ismid 389
         
  98. The Metropolitan Districts: Information published in the Armenian journal “Gotchnag,” of New York 390
  99. Constantinople: Letter, dated Constantinople, 13/26th October, 1915, from an Armenian inhabitant; published in the Armenian journal “Balkanian Mamoul,” of Roustchouk 392
  100. Adrianople: Despatch from the correspondent of the London “Times” at Bukarest, dated 18th December and published on the 21st December, 1915 394
  101. Broussa: Report by a foreign visitor to the city, dated 24th September, 1915; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 395
  102. Adapazar: Statement, dated 24th September, 1915, by a foreign resident in Turkey; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 398
  103. Adapazar: Fuller statement by the author of the preceding document; published in the journal “The New Armenia,” of New York, 15th May, 1916 400
         
XIV.—The Anatolian Railway 407
         
  104. The Anatolian Railway: Narrative of a journey, during the deportation of the Armenians, by a physician of foreign nationality, who had been resident in Turkey for ten years; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 409
  105. Eski Shehr: Letter from an Armenian victim, published in the Armenian journal “Horizon,” of Tiflis, 30th October/12th November, 1915 414
  106. Afiun Kara Hissar: Letter dated Afiun Kara Hissar, 10th/23rd September, 1915; published in the Armenian journal “Horizon,” of Tiflis, 30th October/12th November, 1915 416
  107. Afiun Kara Hissar: Résumé of a letter, dated Afiun Kara Hissar, 2nd/15th October, 1915; appended to the Memorandum (Doc. 11, dated 15/28th October, 1915, from a well-informed source at Bukarest 417
  108. Afiun Kara Hissar: Letter, dated Massachusetts, 22nd November, 1915, from an American traveller; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 418
  109. Q.: Report from Dr. D., dated Q., 8th September, 1915; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 421
  110. Q.: Report from Dr. E., dated Q., 3rd September, 1915; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 426
  111. Q.: Letter from Dr. E., dated 27th October, 1915; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 431
  112. Q.: Letter, dated Q., 25th November, 1915, from Dr. E. to Mr. N. at Constantinople; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 433
xi  113. Konia: Résumé of a letter, dated Konia, 2nd/15th October, 1915; appended to the Memorandum (Doc. 11), dated 15th/28th October, 1915, from a well-informed source at Bukarest 437
  114. Baghdad Railway: Diary of a foreign resident in the town of B., on a section of the line; edited by William Walter Rockwell, Esq., Ph.D., and published by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief (1916) 438
  115. AE., a town on the Railway: Series of Reports from a foreign resident at AE., communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 450
  116. The Taurus and Amanus passes: Extracts from a Letter, dated Aleppo, 5th November, 1915, from Dr. L., a foreign resident in Turkey, to Mr. N. at Constantinople; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 454
  117. The Amanus passes: Statements by two Swiss residents in Turkey; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 455
  118. Smyrna—Aleppo—Damascus—Aleppo—Smyrna: Itinerary of a foreign traveller in Asiatic Turkey; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 459
         
XV.—Cilicia (Vilayet of Adana and Sandjak of Marash) 465
         
  119. Cilicia: Address (with enclosure), dated 3rd July, 1915, from the Armenian Colony in Egypt to His Excellency Lieutenant-General Sir J.G. Maxwell, Commander-in-Chief of His Britannic Majesty’s Forces in Egypt 468
  120. Cilicia: Letter, dated 20th June, 1915, from Dr. L., a foreign resident in Turkey; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 472
  121. BM.: Letter from a foreign eye-witness, dated 6th July, 1915, on board a steamship; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 474
  122. Zeitoun: Antecedents of the deportation, recorded by the Rev. Stephen Trowbridge, Secretary of the Cairo Committee of the American Red Cross, from an oral statement by the Rev. Dikran Andreasian, Pastor of the Armenian Protestant Church at Zeitoun 479
  123. Exiles from Zeitoun: Diary of a foreign resident in the town of B. on the Cilician plain; communicated by a Swiss gentleman of Geneva 482
  124. Exiles from Zeitoun: Further statement by the author of the preceding document; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 487
  125. Exiles from Zeitoun: Letter, dated Konia, 17th July, 1915, from a foreign resident at Konia to Mr. N. at Constantinople; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 490
  126. AF.: Statement, dated 16th December, 1915, by a foreign resident at AF.; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 492
  127. AF.: Record of individual cases, drawn up by the author of the preceding statement, and dated 17th December, 1915 500
xii  128. Adana: Statement, dated 3rd December, 1915, by a foreign resident at Adana; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 502
  129. Adana: Statement, dated 9th May, 1916, by Miss Y., a foreign resident at Adana, recording her experiences there from September, 1914, to September, 1915 505
         
XVI.—Jibal Mousa 511
         
  130. Jibal Mousa: The defence of the mountain and the rescue of its defenders by the French Fleet; narrative of an eye-witness, the Rev. Dikran Andreasian, Pastor of the Armenian Protestant Church at Zeitoun 512
  131. Jibal Mousa: Report, dated Egypt, 28th September, 1915, on the Armenian Refugees rescued and transported to Port Said by the cruisers of the French Fleet; drawn up by Mgr. Thorgom, Bishop of the Gregorian Community in Egypt 521
  132. Jibal Mousa: Another report on the Refugees at Port Said, drawn up by Mr. Tovmas K. Muggerdichian, formerly Dragoman of the British Consulate at Diyarbekir 525
         
XVII.—The Towns of Ourfa and AC. 527
         
  133. Ourfa: Letter, dated Ourfa, 14th June, 1915, from Mr. K.; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 528
  134. Ourfa: Extract from a letter by Mr. Tovmas K. Muggerdichian; published in the Armenian journal “Gotchnag,” of New York, 1st April, 1916 530
  135. Ourfa: Interview with Mrs. J. Vance Young, an eye-witness of the events at Ourfa; published in the “Egyptian Gazette,” 28th September/11th October, and reproduced in the Armenian journal “Houssaper,” of Cairo, 30th September/13th October, 1915 531
  136. Ourfa: Postscript to a memorandum (Doc. 141 by a foreign witness from Aleppo; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 532
  137. AC.: Statement by Miss A., a foreign resident at AC., written subsequently to her departure from Turkey in September, 1915; communicated by the Rev. I.N. Camp, of Cairo 533
  138. AC.: Letters from an Armenian inhabitant, describing the deportation of Armenians from Cilicia; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 544
         
XVIII.—Vilayet of Aleppo 545
         
  139. Aleppo: Series of Reports from a foreign resident at Aleppo; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 547
  140. Aleppo: Memorandum, dated Aleppo, 18th June/1st July, 1915; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 551
  141. Aleppo: Memorandum by a foreign witness from Aleppo; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 552
  142. Aleppo: Message, dated 17th February, 1916, from Fraülein O.; published in the German journal “Sonnenaufgang,” April, 1916 555
xiii
         
XIX.—Vilayet of Damascus and Sandjak of Der-el-Zor 557
         
  143. Damascus: Report from a foreign resident at Damascus, dated 20th September, but containing information up to the 3rd October, 1915; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 558
  144. Exiles on the Euphrates: Record, dated Erzeroum, June, 1915, by M. Henry Barby, of an interview with Dr. H. Toroyan, an Armenian physician formerly in the service of the Ottoman Army; published in “Le Journal,” of Paris, 13th July, 1916 562
  145. Der-el-Zor: Letter, dated 12th July, 1915, from Schwester L. Möhring, a German missionary, describing her journey from Baghdad to the passes of Amanus; published in the German journal “Sonnenaufgang,” September, 1915 566
         
XX.—Documents received while going to press 571
         
  146. Despatch from Mr. Henry Wood (Doc. 1: Fuller version, obtained through the courtesy of the representative of the American “United Press” in London 572
  147. Urmia, Salmas, and Hakkiari: Fuller statement by Mr. Paul Shimmon, edited, as a pamphlet, by the Rev. F.N. Heazell, Organising Secretary of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Assyrian Mission 577
  148. First exodus from Urmia: Narrative of Mr. J.D. Barnard, of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Assyrian Mission; published in the “Assyrian Mission Quarterly Paper,” April, 1915 587
  149. Erzeroum: Letter, dated 21st March, 1916, from the Rev. Robert S. Stapleton to the Hon. F. Willoughby Smith, U.S. Consul at Tiflis; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 589
         
A Summary of Armenian History up to and including the year 1915 591
I.—The European War and Armenia 593
II.—An Outline of Armenian History 596
III.—Dispersion and Distribution of the Armenian Nation 607
IV.—The Armenian People and the Ottoman Government 617
V.—The Deportations of 1915: Antecedents 627
VI.—The Deportations of 1915: Procedure 637
         
Annexe A 654
Annexe B 657
Annexe C 659
Annexe D 661
Annexe E 662
Annexe F 664
         
Index of Places referred to in the Documents 669
         
  150. Message, dated 22nd July, 1916, from Mr. N., of Constantinople; communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief 684
xv

CORRESPONDENCE

BETWEEN
VISCOUNT GREY OF FALLODON
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
AND
VISCOUNT BRYCE.
xviLETTER FROM VISCOUNT BRYCE TO VISCOUNT GREY
OF FALLODON, SECRETARY OF STATE
FOR FOREIGN
AFFAIRS.
July 1st, 1916.

My dear Sir Edward,

In the autumn of 1915 accounts of massacres and deportations of the Christian population of Asiatic Turkey began to reach Western Europe and the United States. Few and imperfect at first—for every effort was made by the Turkish Government to prevent them from passing out of the country—these accounts increased in number and fullness of detail, till in the beginning of 1916 it became possible to obtain a fairly accurate knowledge of what had happened. It then struck me that, in the interest of historic truth, as well as with a view to the questions that must arise when the war ends, it had become necessary to try to complete these accounts, and test them by further evidence, so as to compile a general narrative of the events and estimate their significance. As materials were wanting or scanty in respect of some localities, I wrote to all the persons I could think of likely to possess or to be able to procure trustworthy data, begging them to favour me with such data. I addressed myself in particular to friends in the United States, a country which has long had intimate relations with the Eastern Christians and to which many of those Christians have in recent years emigrated. Similar requests were made to Switzerland, also a neutral country, many of whose people have taken a lively interest in the welfare of the Armenians. When the responses from these quarters showed that sufficient materials for a history—provisional, no doubt, but trustworthy as far as the present data went—could be obtained, I had the good fortune to secure the co-operation of a young historian of high academic distinction, Mr. Arnold J. Toynbee, late Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. He undertook to examine and put together the pieces of evidence collected, arranging them in order and adding such observations, historical and geographical, as seemed needed to explain them. The materials so arranged by Mr. Toynbee, followed by such observations as aforesaid, I now transmit to you. They are, of course, of unequal value, for while most of them are narratives by eye-witnesses, some few report, at second hand what was told by eye-witnesses. In a short introduction prefixed, I have tried to estimate their value, and so need only say here that nothing has been admitted the substantial truth of which seems open to reasonable doubt. Facts only have been dealt with; questions of future policy have been carefully avoided.

xviiIt is evidently desirable not only that ascertained facts should be put on record for the sake of future historians, while the events are still fresh in living memory, but also that the public opinion of the belligerent nations—and, I may add, of neutral peoples also—should be enabled by a knowledge of what has happened in Asia Minor and Armenia to exercise its judgment on the course proper to be followed when, at the end of the present war, a political re-settlement of the Nearer East has to be undertaken.

I am,
Yours sincerely,
Bryce.
xviiiLETTER FROM VISCOUNT GREY OF FALLODON,
SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
TO VISCOUNT BRYCE.
Foreign Office,
August 23rd, 1916.

My dear Bryce,

I have to thank you for sending me the collection of documents on the Armenian Massacres which has been so ably put together by Mr. Arnold J. Toynbee.

It is a terrible mass of evidence; but I feel that it ought to be published and widely studied by all who have the broad interests of humanity at heart. It will be valuable, not only for the immediate information of public opinion as to the conduct of the Turkish Government towards this defenceless people, but also as a mine of information for historians in the future, and for the other purposes suggested in your letter.

Yours sincerely,
Grey of Fallodon.
xixDocuments presented to
VISCOUNT GREY OF FALLODON
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
By Viscount Bryce
With a preface by
VISCOUNT BRYCE.
xxi

PREFACE BY VISCOUNT BRYCE.

In the summer of 1915 accounts, few and scanty at first, but increasing in volume later, began to find their way out of Asiatic Turkey as to the events that were happening there. These accounts described what seemed to be an effort to exterminate a whole nation, without distinction of age or sex, whose misfortune it was to be the subjects of a Government devoid of scruples and of pity, and the policy they disclosed was one without precedent even in the blood-stained annals of the East. It then became the obvious duty of those who realised the gravity of these events to try to collect and put together all the data available for the purpose of presenting a full and authentic record of what had occurred. This has been done in the present volume. It contains all the evidence that could be obtained up till July 1916 as to the massacres and deportations of the Armenian and other Eastern Christians dwelling in Asia Minor, Armenia and that north-western corner of Persia which was invaded by the Turkish troops. It is presented primarily as a contribution to history, but partly also for the purpose of enabling the civilised nations of Europe to comprehend the problems which will arise at the end of this war, when it will become necessary to provide for the future government of what are now the Turkish dominions. The compilation has been made in the spirit proper to an historical enquiry, that is to say, nothing has been omitted which could throw light on the facts, whatever the political bearing of the accounts might be. In such an enquiry, no racial or religious sympathies, no prejudices, not even the natural horror raised by crimes, ought to distract the mind of the enquirer from the duty of trying to ascertain the real facts.

As will be seen from the analysis which follows, the evidence here collected comes from various sources.

A large, perhaps the largest, part has been drawn from neutral witnesses who were living in or passing through Asiatic Turkey while these events were happening, and had opportunities of observing them.

Another part comes from natives of the country, nearly all Christians, who succeeded, despite the stringency of the Turkish censorship, in getting letters into neutral countries, or who themselves escaped into Greece, or Russia, or Egypt and were there able to write down what they had seen.

A third but much smaller part comes from subjects of the now belligerent Powers (mostly Germans) who were in Turkey when these events were happening, and subsequently published in their own countries accounts based on their personal knowledge.

In presenting this evidence it has been necessary in very many cases to withhold the names of the witnesses, because to publish their names would be to expose such of them as are still within xxiithe Turkish dominions, or the relations and friends of these persons, to the ruthless vengeance of the gang who now rule those dominions in the name of the unfortunate Sultan. Even in the case of those neutral witnesses who are safe in their own countries, a similar precaution must be observed, because many of them, or their friends and associates, have property in Turkey which would at once, despite their neutral character, be seized by the Turkish Government. These difficulties, inevitable in the nature of the case, are of course only temporary. The names of the great majority of the witnesses are known to the editor of this book and to myself[1], and also to several other persons[2], and they can be made public as soon as it is certain that no harm will result to these witnesses or to their friends. That certainty evidently cannot be attained till the war is over and the rule of the savage gang already referred to has come to an end.

The question now arises—What is the value of this evidence? Though the names of many of the witnesses cannot be given, I may say that most of them, and nearly all of those who belong to neutral or belligerent countries, are persons entitled to confidence in respect of their character and standing, and are, moreover, persons who have no conceivable motive for inventing or perverting facts, because they are (with extremely few exceptions) either neutrals with no national or personal or pecuniary interests involved, or else German subjects. Were I free to mention names, the trustworthiness of these neutrals and Germans would at once be recognised.

Let us, however, look at the evidence itself.

(i) Nearly all of it comes from eye-witnesses, some of whom wrote it down themselves, while others gave it to persons who wrote it out at the time from the statements given to them orally. Nearly all of it, moreover, was written immediately after the events described, when the witnesses’ recollection was still fresh and clear.

(ii) The main facts rest upon evidence coming from different and independent sources. When the same fact is stated by witnesses who had no communication with one another, and in many cases did not even speak the same language, the presumption in favour of its truth becomes strong.

Take, for instance, the evidence (Section VIII.) regarding the particularly terrible events at Trebizond. We have a statement from the Italian Consul-General (Doc. 73, from the Kavass of the local branch of the Ottoman Bank, a Montenegrin under Italian protection (Doc. 74, and from an Armenian girl whose family lived in the neighbourhood of the Italian Consulate, and who was brought out of Turkey by the Italian Consul-General as his maidservant. The testimony of these three witnesses exactly tallies, not only as to the public crimes committed in the city before they left it, but also as to their personal relations with one another (for they each mention the others explicitly in their several xxiiistatements). Yet they were in no touch whatever with one another when their respective testimonies were given. The Consul-General gave his at Rome, in an interview with an Italian journalist; the Kavass gave his in an interview with an Armenian gentleman in Egypt; and the girl hers in Roumania to a compatriot resident in that country. The three statements had certainly never been collated till they came, by different channels, into the hands of the editor of this book. In addition to this, there is a statement from another foreign resident at Trebizond (Doc. 72, which reached us through America.

Or take the case of the convoys of exiles deported from the Vilayet of Erzeroum, and, in particular, from the towns of Erzeroum and Baibourt. We have a second-hand account of their fate in Doc. 2 a despatch from a well-informed source at Constantinople; we have a first-hand account, which completely bears out the former, from a lady who was herself deported in the third convoy of exiles (Doc. 59; we have the narrative of two Danish nurses in the service of the German Red Cross at Erzindjan, who witnessed the passage of the Baibourt exiles through that place (Doc. 62; and finally there are three witnesses from the town of H., several days’ journey further along the exiles’ route, who refer independently to the arrival of convoys from Erzeroum and the neighbourhood. One of these latter witnesses is a (third) Danish Red Cross nurse (Doc. 64, one a neutral resident at H. of different nationality, and one an Armenian inhabitant of the town.

These are two typical instances in which broad groups of events are independently and consistently recorded, but there are innumerable instances of the same kind in the case of particular occurrences. The hanging of the Armenian Bishop of Baibourt, for example, is mentioned, at second-hand, in Doc. 7 (written at Constantinople) and Doc. 12 (a selection of evidence published in Germany); but it is also witnessed to by the author of Doc. 59 an actual resident at Baibourt who was present there at the time of the murder. Again, the disappearance of the Bishop of Erzeroum on the road to exile is not only recorded in Doc. 11 a memorandum from a competent source at Bukarest, but is confirmed, in Docs. 57 and 76, by testimony obtained from eye-witnesses on the spot after the Russian occupation of Erzeroum had left them free to speak out.

(iii) Facts of the same, or of a very similar, nature occurring in different places, are deposed to by different and independent witnesses. As there is every reason to believe—and indeed it is hardly denied—that the massacres and deportations were carried out under general orders proceeding from Constantinople, the fact that persons who knew only what was happening in one locality record circumstances there broadly resembling those which occurred in another locality goes to show the general correctness of both sets of accounts.

Thus, the two Danish Red Cross nurses (Doc. 62 state that they twice witnessed the massacre, in cold blood, of gangs of xxivunarmed Armenian soldiers employed on navvy work, along the road from Erzindjan to Sivas. In Doc. 7 (written at Constantinople) we find a statement that other gangs of unarmed Armenian soldiers were similarly murdered on the roads between Ourfa and Diyarbekir, and Diyarbekir and Harpout; and the massacre on this latter section of road is confirmed by a German lady resident, at the time, at Harpout (Doc. 23.

Again, there is frequent mention of roads being lined, or littered, with the corpses of Armenian exiles who had died of exhaustion or been murdered on the way. If these allusions were merely made in general terms, they might conceivably be explained away as amplifications of some isolated case, or even as rhetorical embellishments of the exiles’ story without foundation in fact. But when we find such statements made with regard to particular stretches of road in widely different localities, and often by more than one witness with regard to a given stretch, we are led to infer that this wholesale mortality by the wayside was in very deed a frequent concomitant of the Deportations, and an inevitable consequence of the method on which the general scheme of Deportation was organised from headquarters. We hear in Doc. 7 for instance, of corpses on the road from Malatia to Sivas, on the testimony of a Moslem traveller; we hear of them on the road from Diyarbekir to Ourfa in Doc. 12 (a German cavalry captain), and on the road from Ourfa to Aleppo in Doc. 9 (an Armenian witness), in Doc. 135 (an interned Englishwoman), and also in Doc. 64 (a Danish Red Cross nurse). The latter gives the detail of the corpses being mangled by wild beasts, a detail also mentioned by the German authors of Docs. 12 and 23. Similar testimony from German officers regarding the road between Baghdad and Aleppo is reported independently in Docs. 108 and 121.

(iv) The volume of this concurrent evidence from different quarters is so large as to establish the main facts beyond all question. Errors of detail in some instances may be allowed for. Exaggeration may, in the case of native witnesses, who were more likely to be excited, be also, now and then, allowed for. But the general character of the events stands out, resting on foundations too broad to be shaken, and even details comparatively unimportant in themselves are often remarkably corroborated from different quarters. The fact that the Zeitounli exiles at Sultania were for some time prevented by the local Turkish authorities from receiving relief is attested in Doc. 4 (Constantinople) and Doc. 123 (the town of B. in Cilicia), as well as in Doc. 125 from Konia. The malicious trick by which the exiles from Shar were deflected from a good road to a bad, in order that they might be compelled to abandon their carts, is recorded independently in Docs. 12 and 126.

(v) In particular it is to be noted that many of the most shocking and horrible accounts are those for which there is the most abundant testimony from the most trustworthy neutral xxvwitnesses. None of the worst cruelties rest on native evidence alone. If all that class of evidence were entirely struck out, the general effect would be much the same, though some of the minor details would be wanting. One may, indeed, say that an examination of the neutral evidence tends to confirm the native evidence as a whole by showing that there is in it less of exaggeration than might have been expected.

Docs. 7 and 9, for instance, both of which are native reports at second-hand, refer in somewhat rhetorical terms to the corpses of murdered Armenians washed down by the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates. Yet their words are more than justified by many concrete and independent pieces of evidence. The description in Doc. 12 (German material) of how barge-loads of Armenians were drowned in the Tigris below Diyarbekir, renders more fully credible the accounts of how the Armenians of Trebizond were drowned wholesale in the Black Sea. Doc. 12 also contains the statement, from a German employee of the Baghdad Railway, that the Armenian exiles who reached Biredjik were drowned in batches every night in the Euphrates; and similar horrors are reported from almost every section of the Euphrates’ course. Docs. 56, 57, 59 and 62 describe how the convoys of exiles from the Vilayet of Erzeroum were cast into the Kara Su (western branch of the Euphrates) at the gorge called Kamakh Boghaz, and were then either shot in the water or left to drown. The author of Doc. 5 was present at such a scene, though she was herself spared, and the information in Docs. 56 and 57 was obtained direct from a lady who was actually cast in, but managed to struggle to the bank and escape. The authors of Doc. 62 received their information from a gendarme who had been attached to a convoy and had himself participated in the massacre. Doc. 24 records the experiences of an Armenian woman deported from Moush, who was driven with her fellow-exiles into the Mourad Su (eastern branch of the Euphrates), but also managed to escape, though the rest were drowned. Doc. 66 describes corpses floating in the river in the neighbourhood of Kiakhta, and Doc. 137 the drowning of exiles in the tributaries of the Euphrates between Harpout and Aleppo. These are evidently instances of a regular practice, and when we find the exiles from Trebizond and Kerasond being disposed of in the same fashion in a comparatively distant part of the Turkish Empire, we are almost compelled to infer that the drowning of the exiles en masse was a definite part of the general scheme drawn out by the Young Turk leaders at Constantinople.

Perhaps the most terrible feature of all was the suffering of the women with child, who were made to march with the convoys and gave birth to their babies on the road. This is alluded to in Doc. 12 from a German source, at second-hand, but in Docs. 129 and 137 we have the testimony of neutral witnesses who actually succoured these victims, so far as the extremity of their plight and the brutality of their escort made xxvisuccour possible. It should be mentioned that in Doc. 68 an Armenian exile testifies to the kindness of an individual Turkish gendarme to one of her fellow-victims who was in these straits.

(vi) The vast scale of these massacres and the pitiless cruelty with which the deportations were carried out may seem to some readers to throw doubt on the authenticity of the narratives. Can human beings (it may be asked) have perpetrated such crimes on innocent women and children? But a recollection of previous massacres will show that such crimes are part of the long settled and often repeated policy of Turkish rulers. In Chios, nearly a century ago, the Turks slaughtered almost the whole Greek population of the island. In European Turkey in 1876 many thousands of Bulgarians were killed on the suspicion of an intended rising, and the outrages committed on women were, on a smaller scale, as bad as those here recorded. In 1895 and 1896 more than a hundred thousand Armenian Christians were put to death by Abd-ul-Hamid, many thousands of whom died as martyrs to their Christian faith, by abjuring which they could have saved their lives. All these massacres are registered not only in the ordinary press records of current history but in the reports of British diplomatic and consular officials written at the time. They are as certain as anything else that has happened in our day. There is, therefore, no antecedent improbability to be overcome before the accounts here given can be accepted. All that happened in 1915 is in the regular line of Turkish policy. The only differences are in the scale of the present crimes, and in the fact that the lingering sufferings of deportations in which the deaths were as numerous as in the massacres, and fell with special severity upon the women, have in this latest instance been added.

The evidence is cumulative. Each part of it supports the rest because each part is independent of the others. The main facts are the same, and reveal the same plans and intentions at work. Even the varieties are instructive because they show those diversities of temper and feeling which appear in human nature everywhere.

The Turkish officials are usually heartless and callous. But here and there we see one of a finer temper, who refuses to carry out the orders given him and is sometimes dismissed for his refusal. The Moslem rabble is usually pitiless. It pillages the houses and robs the persons of the hapless exiles. But now and then there appear pious and compassionate Moslems who try to save the lives or alleviate the miseries of their Christian neighbours. We have a vivid picture of human life, where wickedness in high places deliberately lets loose the passions of racial or religious hatred, as well as the commoner passion of rapacity, yet cannot extinguish those better feelings which show as points of light in the gloom.

It is, however, for the reader to form his own judgment on these documents as he peruses them. They do not, and by the nature of the case cannot, constitute what is called judicial xxviievidence, such as a Court of Justice obtains when it puts witnesses on oath and subjects them to cross-examination. But by far the larger part (almost all, indeed, of what is here published) does constitute historical evidence of the best kind, inasmuch as the statements come from those who saw the events they describe and recorded them in writing immediately afterwards. They corroborate one another, the narratives given by different observers showing a substantial agreement, which becomes conclusive when we find the salient facts repeated with no more variations in detail than the various opportunities of the independent observers made natural. The gravest facts are those for which the evidence is most complete, and it all tallies fatally with that which twenty years ago established the guilt of Abd-ul-Hamid for the deeds that have made his name infamous. In this case there are, moreover, what was wanting then, admissions which add weight to the testimony here presented, I mean the admissions of the Turkish Government and of their German apologists.[3] The attempts made to find excuses for wholesale slaughter and for the removal of a whole people from its homes leave no room for doubt as to the slaughter and the removal. The main facts are established by the confession of the criminals themselves. What the evidence here presented does is to show in detail how these things were effected, what cruelties accompanied them, and how inexcusable they were. The disproval of the palliations which the Turks have put forward is as complete as the proof of the atrocities themselves.

In order to test the soundness of my own conclusions as to the value of the evidence, I have submitted it to the judgment of three friends, men for whose opinion everyone who knows them will have the highest respect—a distinguished historian, Mr. H.A.L. Fisher (Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield); a distinguished scholar, Mr. Gilbert Murray (Professor of Greek in the University of Oxford); and a distinguished American lawyer of long experience and high authority, Mr. Moorfield Storey, of Boston, Mass.—men accustomed in their respective walks of life to examine and appraise evidence; and I append the letters which convey their several views.

This preface is intended to deal only with the credibility of the evidence here presented, so I will refrain from comment on xxviiithe facts. A single observation, or rather a single question, may, however, be permitted from one who has closely followed the history of the Turkish East for more than forty years. European travellers have often commended the honesty and the kindliness of the Turkish peasantry, and our soldiers have said that they are fair fighters. Against them I have nothing to say, and will even add that I have known individual Turkish officials who impressed me as men of honesty and good-will. But the record of the rulers of Turkey for the last two or three centuries, from the Sultan on his throne down to the district Mutessarif, is, taken as a whole, an almost unbroken record of corruption, of injustice, of an oppression which often rises into hideous cruelty. The Young Turks, when they deposed Abd-ul-Hamid, came forward as the apostles of freedom, promising equal rights and equal treatment to all Ottoman subjects. The facts here recorded show how that promise was kept. Can any one still continue to hope that the evils of such a government are curable? Or does the evidence contained in this volume furnish the most terrible and convincing proof that it can no longer be permitted to rule over subjects of a different faith?

BRYCE.
xxixLETTER FROM MR. H.A.L. FISHER,
VICE-CHANCELLOR OF SHEFFIELD UNIVERSITY,
TO VISCOUNT BRYCE.
The University,
Sheffield,
August 2nd, 1916.

My dear Lord Bryce,

The evidence here collected with respect to the sufferings of the Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire during the present war will carry conviction wherever and whenever it is studied by honest enquirers. It bears upon the face of it all the marks of credibility. In the first place, the transactions were recorded soon after they took place and while the memory of them was still fresh and poignant. Then the greater part of the story rests upon the word of eye-witnesses, and the remainder upon the evidence of persons who had special opportunities for obtaining correct information. It is true that some of the witnesses are Armenians, whose testimony, if otherwise unconfirmed, might be regarded as liable to be over-coloured or distorted, but the Armenian evidence does not stand alone. It is corroborated by reports received from Americans, Danes, Swiss, Germans, Italians and other foreigners. Again, this foreign testimony comes for the most part from men and women whose calling alone entitles them to be heard with respect, that is to say, from witnesses who may fairly be expected to exceed the average level of character and intelligence and to view the transactions which they record with as much detachment as is compatible with human feeling. Indeed, the foreign witnesses who happened to be spectators of the deportation, dispersion, and massacre of the Armenian nation, do not strike me as being, in any one case, blind and indiscriminate haters of the Turk. They are prompt to notice facts which strike them as creditable to individual members of the Moslem community.

I am also impressed with the cumulative effect of the evidence. Whoever speaks, and from whatever quarter in the wide region covered by these reports the voice may proceed, the story is one and the same. There are no discrepancies or contradictions of importance, but, on the contrary, countless scattered pieces of mutual corroboration. There is no contrariety as to the broad fact that the Armenian population has been uprooted from its homes, dispersed, and, to a large though not exactly calculable extent, exterminated in consequence of general orders issued from Constantinople. It is clear that a catastrophe, conceived upon a scale quite unparalleled in modern history, has been contrived for the Armenian inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire. It is found that the original responsibility rests with the Ottoman Government at Constantinople, whose policy was actively seconded by the members of the Committee of Union and Progress in the Provinces. And in view of the fact that the representations xxxof the Austrian Ambassador with the Porte were effectual in procuring a partial measure of exemption for the Armenian Catholics, we are led to surmise that the unspeakable horrors which this volume records might have been mitigated, if not wholly checked, had active and energetic remonstrances been from the first moment addressed to the Ottoman Government by the two Powers who had acquired a predominant influence in Constantinople. The evidence, on the contrary, tends to suggest that these two Powers were, in a general way, favourable to the policy of deportation.

Yours sincerely,
Herbert Fisher.
xxxiLETTER FROM PROFESSOR GILBERT MURRAY,
REGIUS PROFESSOR OF GREEK IN THE
UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD, TO VISCOUNT BRYCE.
82, Woodstock Road,
Oxford,
June 27th, 1916.

Dear Lord Bryce,

I have spent some time studying the documents you are about to publish relative to the deportations and massacres of Armenians in the Turkish Empire during the spring and summer of 1915. I know, of course, how carefully a historian should scrutinize the evidence for events so startling in character, reported to have occurred in regions so far removed from the eyes of civilized Europe. I realize that in times of persecution passions run high, that oriental races tend to use hyperbolical language, and that the victims of oppression cannot be expected to speak with strict fairness of their oppressors. But the evidence of these letters and reports will bear any scrutiny and overpower any scepticism. Their genuineness is established beyond question, though obviously you are right in withholding certain of the names of persons and places. The statements of the Armenian refugees themselves are fully confirmed by residents of American, Scandinavian and even of German nationality; and the undesigned agreement between so many credible witnesses from widely separate districts puts all the main lines of the story beyond the possibility of doubt.

I remain,
Yours sincerely,
Gilbert Murray.
xxxiiLETTER FROM MR. MOORFIELD STOREY,
EX-PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN
BAR ASSOCIATION, TO VISCOUNT BRYCE.
735, Exchange Building,
Boston, U.S.,
7th August, 1916.

My dear Sir,

I have examined considerable portions of the volume which contains the statements regarding the treatment of the Armenians by the Turks, in order to determine the value of these statements as evidence.

I have no doubt that, while there may be inaccuracies of detail, these statements establish without any question the essential facts. It must be borne in mind that in such a case the evidence of eye-witnesses is not easily obtained; the victims, with few exceptions, are dead; the perpetrators will not confess; any casual spectators cannot be reached, and in most cases are either in sympathy with what was done or afraid to speak. There are no tribunals before which witnesses can be summoned and compelled to testify, and a rigid censorship is maintained by the authorities responsible for the crimes, which prevents the truth from coming out freely, and no investigation by impartial persons will be permitted.

Such statements as you print are the best evidence which, in the circumstances, it is possible to obtain. They come from persons holding positions which give weight to their words, and from other persons with no motive to falsify, and it is impossible that such a body of concurring evidence should have been manufactured. Moreover, it is confirmed by evidence from German sources which has with difficulty escaped the rigid censorship maintained by the German authorities—a censorship which is in itself a confession, since there is no reason why the Germans should not give full currency to such evidence unless the authorities felt themselves in some way responsible for what it discloses.

In my opinion, the evidence which you print is as reliable as that upon which rests our belief in many of the universally admitted facts of history, and I think it establishes beyond any reasonable doubt the deliberate purpose of the Turkish authorities practically to exterminate the Armenians, and their responsibility for the hideous atrocities which have been perpetrated upon that unhappy people.

Yours truly,
Moorfield Storey.
xxxiiiLETTER, DATED ALEPPO, 8th OCTOBER, 1915, FROM
FOUR MEMBERS OF THE GERMAN MISSIONS
STAFF IN TURKEY TO THE IMPERIAL GERMAN
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AT BERLIN.[4]

We think it our duty to draw the attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the fact that our school work will be deprived, for the future, of its moral basis and will lose all authority in the eyes of the natives, if it is really beyond the power of the German Government to mitigate the brutality of the treatment which the exiled women and children of the massacred Armenians are receiving.

In face of the scenes of horror which are being unfolded daily before our eyes in the neighbourhood of our school, our educational activity becomes a mockery of humanity. How can we make our pupils listen to the Tales of the Seven Dwarfs, how can we teach them conjugations and declensions, when, in the compounds next door to our school, death is carrying off their starving compatriots—when there are girls and women and children, practically naked, some lying on the ground, others stretched between the dead or the coffins made ready for them beforehand, and breathing their last breath!

Out of 2,000 to 3,000 peasant women from the Armenian Plateau who were brought here in good health, only forty or fifty skeletons are left. The prettier ones are the victims of their gaolers’ lust; the plain ones succumb to blows, hunger and thirst (they lie by the water’s edge, but are not allowed to quench their thirst). The Europeans are forbidden to distribute bread to the starving. Every day more than a hundred corpses are carried out of Aleppo.

All this happens under the eyes of high Turkish officials. There are forty or fifty emaciated phantoms crowded into the compound opposite our school. They are women out of their mind; they have forgotten how to eat; when one offers them bread, they throw it aside with indifference. They only groan and wait for death.

“See,” say the natives: “Taâlim el Alman (the teaching of the Germans).”

The German scutcheon is in danger of being smirched for ever in the memory of the Near Eastern peoples. There are natives of Aleppo, more enlightened than the rest, who say: “The Germans do not want these horrors. Perhaps the German nation does not know about them. If it did, how could the German Press, which is attached to the truth, talk about the humanity of the treatment accorded to the Armenians who are guilty of xxxivHigh Treason? Perhaps, too, the German Government has its hands tied by some contract defining the powers of the [German and Turkish] States in regard to one another’s affairs?”

No, when it is a question of giving over thousands of women and children to death by starvation, the words “Opportunism” and “definition of powers” lose their meaning. Every civilised human being is “empowered” in this case to interfere, and it is his bounden duty to do so. Our prestige in the East is the thing at stake. There are even Turks and Arabs who have remained human, and who shake their heads in sorrow when they see, in the exile convoys that pass through the town, how the brutal soldiers shower blows on women with child who can march no farther.

We may expect further and still more dreadful hecatombs after the order published by Djemal Pasha. (The engineers of the Baghdad Railway are forbidden, by this order, to photograph the Armenian convoys; any plates they have already used for this must be given up within twenty-four hours, under penalty of prosecution before the Council of War.) It is a proof that the responsible authorities fear the light, but have no intention of putting an end to scenes which are a disgrace to humanity.

We know that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already, from other sources, received detailed descriptions of what is happening here. But as no change has occurred in the system of the deportations, we feel ourselves under a double obligation to make this report, all the more because the fact of our living abroad enables us to see more clearly the immense danger by which the German name is threatened here.

xxxv

MEMORANDUM BY THE EDITOR.

As far as their contents are concerned, the documents collected in this volume explain themselves, and if any reader wishes for an outline of the events they describe, as a guide to their detail, he will find it in the “Historical Summary” at the end of the book, especially in Section V. In this preliminary memorandum the Editor has simply to state the sources, character and value of the documents, and to explain the system on which they have been edited.

The sources of the documents are very varied. Some of them were communicated to the Editor directly by the writers themselves, or, in the case of private letters, by the persons to whom the letters were addressed. Several of those relating to the distribution of relief in Russian Caucasia have been placed in his hands by the courtesy of the British Foreign Office. Others, again, he owes to the courtesy of individuals, including Lord Bryce, who has superintended the work throughout, and given most generously of his time and thought towards making it as accurate and complete as possible; several members of the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief[5]; the Rev. G.T. Scott, Assistant Secretary of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.; M. Arshag Tchobanian; Dr. Herbert Adams Gibbons; Dr. William Walter Rockwell, of the Union Theological Seminary of New York; the Rev. Stephen Trowbridge, Secretary of the American Red Cross Committee at Cairo; the Rev. I.N. Camp, a missionary in the service of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, at present stationed at Cairo; Aneurin Williams, Esq., M.P.; the Rev. Harold Buxton, Treasurer of the Armenian xxxviRefugees (Lord Mayor’s) Fund; Mr. J.D. Bourchier, correspondent of the London Times newspaper in the Balkans; Mrs. D.S. Margoliouth, of Oxford; the Rev. F.N. Heazell, Organising Secretary of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Assyrian Mission; Mr. G.H. Paelian, an American citizen resident in London; Mr. A.S. Safrastian, of Tiflis; and Mr. H.N. Mosditchian, of London. Another source of material has been the Press. Despatches, letters and statements have been reprinted in this volume from the columns of English, American, Swiss, French, Russian, Italian and also German newspapers, and from Armenian journals published at Tiflis, London and New York. The editors of Ararat, Gotchnag and the New Armenia have shown the Editor of this volume every possible kindness, and have courteously presented him with free copies of their current issues.

The documents are all rendered here in English, but they reached the Editor’s hands in various languages—not only English but French, Italian, German and Armenian. The translations from the French, German and Italian have been made by the Editor with the assistance of his wife. For the translation of documents from the Armenian he is indebted to Mr. Paelian, who has devoted a large part of his scanty leisure to doing the Editor this most valuable service. But for Mr. Paelian’s promptness and good will, the work might have been considerably delayed.

The character of the documents varies with the writers. Some of the witnesses are native Armenian or Nestorian inhabitants of the Near East, who were either victims of the atrocities themselves or were intimately connected with others who played a direct part in the scenes described. A majority of the witnesses, however, are foreign residents in the Ottoman Empire or the Persian Province of Azerbaijan, and nearly all these, again, are citizens of neutral countries, either European or American—missionaries, teachers, doctors, Red Cross nurses or officials. A few witnesses (and these are the weightiest of all) are subjects of states allied to Turkey in the present war.

The value of the documents of course depends upon the witnesses’ standing and character, and upon the opportunities they possessed of knowing the facts. The Editor is certain in his own mind that all the documents published here are genuine statements of the truth, and he presents them in this assurance. Errors will, doubtless, be here and there discovered, but he believes that any errors there may be have been made in good faith, and that they will prove to touch only points of detail, which do not affect the truth of the whole. At the same time he realises that, considered as legal evidence before a court, the documents differ considerably in probative value. From this legal point of view, they can be tabulated in several classes:—

(a) Evidence published by the editor of a German journal in Germany, and suppressed by the Imperial German Censorship (Doc. 12. This evidence is, of course, above any suspicion of prejudice against the Turks.

xxxvii(b) Documents written by German eye-witnesses of the events they describe (Docs. 18, 23, 91, 145), or by neutral eye-witnesses resident in Turkey in the service of German missionary or philanthropic institutions, or of the German Red Cross (Docs. 62, 64, 117, 142). This evidence is equally above suspicion of partiality against the Turks or in favour of the Armenians.

(c) Documents written by other neutral eye-witnesses, principally American and Swiss, who have no connection, either public or private, with the Turco-German Alliance or with the Entente, and who are presumably without bias towards either party. Documents of such authorship constitute the bulk of the material in this volume, and practically all of them are written at first hand. There are no apparent grounds for not reposing full confidence in them.

(d) Documents written by Armenian or Nestorian natives of the regions concerned. This native evidence may be thought to have somewhat less cogency than the rest, as the witnesses have suffered personally from the horrors they describe, and are open to stronger influences of prejudice and emotion than foreign observers. Errors of detail are more likely to occur here, especially as regards estimates of numbers. The Editor wishes to repeat, however, that, after comparing the different statements of these native witnesses with one another, and with the documents in the three preceding classes, he is convinced of the substantial accuracy of all the evidence, of whatever class, that is presented in this volume.

The total body of evidence is large, as the considerable bulk of the volume shows, and this is the more satisfactory because the Ottoman Government has taken every possible precaution to prevent any knowledge of its proceedings from reaching the outer world. Private postal and telegraphic communications were suspended between Constantinople and the provinces, and between one province and another. There was a stringent censorship of outgoing mails, even the consuls of neutral countries were forbidden to telegraph in cypher, and travellers leaving Turkey were searched and divested of every scrap of paper, whether written upon or blank, in their possession. A quotation from a letter, written by the author of one of our documents[6] just after she had safely passed beyond the Ottoman frontier, will give some idea of the severity of this official embargo upon news of every sort:

“As I was coming out from under the hands of the censor, I was asked to write to you, telling you something of the real situation in our part of the world. In my opinion the censorship now is worse than it was in the olden days, for now they have such highly trained men. One of our censors had a five years’ training xxxviiiin the New York Post Office. If our letters seem to tell you little, please remember that there are the strictest orders against the censor’s passing anything on politics, war or even poverty. Any sentences that even touch on these subjects are either cut out or marked or blotted out with ink. A German lady even wrote to a friend of hers in Germany, telling her of poverty in BM. and asking her to send relief funds. She purposely mentioned no causes for this poverty, but only said there was such a condition. The only parts of the letter that reached her friend were the opening and closing sentences. The knife had claimed the rest. So, as Mrs. E. said: ‘Please tell our friends in America that when we write about concerts and field meets and such things, that does not show that the country is safe or that work is as usual. We write about that simply because there is nothing else about which we are allowed to write.’ ”

Nearly all our evidence, therefore, comes from residents in Turkey who witnessed, like this lady, the events that occurred in some particular district or districts, and subsequently left Turkey for some other country, where they could record what they had seen without endangering their lives. Yet, even on neutral ground, these witnesses are not beyond the reach of Turkish resentment. Many of them are anxious to take up their work again in Turkey at the earliest opportunity, and nearly all of them still have interests in the country, or fellow-workers, or friends, who are so many gages in the Ottoman Government’s hands. That Government is known to have agents in Europe, and possibly in America as well, whose business it is to inform against anyone who exposes its misdeeds; and the Young Turkish gang, by whom the Ottoman Government is controlled, have no shame and no scruple about wreaking vengeance by any and every means upon accusers whose indictments they are wholly unable to answer before the judgment seat of the civilised world. It is, therefore, absolutely essential to withhold in many cases the names of the witnesses themselves, and of people, or even of places, mentioned in their testimony. In fact, some of the documents have only been communicated to the Editor on this express condition—for instance, the document enclosed with the letter quoted a few lines above. “May I ask you, however,” continues this very letter, “not to publish my name or that of any missionary from BM., not even the name of BM. itself or any of the places which I shall mention, as the censorship is so strict and terrible now that the mention of names brings us under suspicion at once. May I instance? Dr. E. and Dr. L. have been under such suspicion or ill-will that they have not been able to get a simple family letter through to members of their family in America for months, and the whole station of AC. is under sufficient suspicion to prevent most of the letters they write to you and Mr. N, from reaching their destination. The reason, we feel quite certain, is a report on Moslem work which was sent to you.”

xxxixAnd the same considerations are urged even more emphatically by Miss A., the author of Doc. 137 who is our chief witness for the occurrences at AC. itself:—

For the sake of the people left in Turkey, and especially my orphan children, I hope nothing will be published as from me. If any word of it should get into Turkey, it might have very serious consequences for them.

“Although very few magazines or papers were allowed into the interior, yet occasionally we saw one. In the coast towns, pieces are being cut from the papers, and sold at high prices to Turks. I left my post just because I thought my presence there might make it hard for those under my charge; but if anything that I am supposed to have told gets back into Turkey, I fear the whole of my community may have to suffer. I do not think that those outside Turkey fully realise what danger there is, even in letters, to those left in the country. The local authorities seemed to be always on the watch for something to find as a cause of complaint against both missionaries and Armenians.

“The poor refugees that we saw in BF. as we passed through begged us to help them, but, when we got to BJ., the missionaries there said they had been forbidden to give aid. One woman had been taken to the Government Building because she had been found helping some poor families in her own district that she had been visiting for years. There were many sick at BF., and the pastor and others sent post-cards, begging us to send help quickly. One man asked me to lend him some money, saying I could get it back from his brother in America. It was the danger to him that made me hesitate. The money was finally sent, but one feared to think what it might be an excuse for. And so over all the country.

“All the time when people were in great need, the question was in one’s mind: ‘Will relief endanger their lives?’ New rules were constantly being sprung upon us. A person would write a letter, but before it reached its destination it would be ‘against the regulations.’

“All money in banks and all property belonging to the exiles was confiscated by the Government. The people who were deported from AC. did not know it, but when they had used up all that they had taken with them, they would write to us. It was in this way that we found out that they had neither money nor property left; but we were powerless to let them know what the difficulty was, so they would write again and again.

“All the time, we felt we were in a trap. The most courageous Armenians dared not come to see me, nor could I go to their homes. We had to meet at some public building if they wanted to see me about anything.

“No one living in freedom can understand what it feels like to be in Turkey these days.”

xlIn face of this, the reader will see for himself that the publication of names, under present circumstances, would often be a grave and perilous breach of trust, and the Editor has, therefore, (though only where absolutely necessary, and without making any change whatever affecting the substance of the documents), substituted arbitrary symbols for the names of persons and places in the text, in the manner shown in the preceding quotation. A complete key to these symbols has been prepared and communicated, in confidence, to the British Foreign Office, Lord Bryce, Dr. Barton, and the Rev. G.T. Scott; and this key will be published as soon as circumstances permit, or, in other words, as soon as the dangers which would threaten the persons referred to have ceased to exist.

The Ottoman Government and its allies, whose good name is almost as seriously compromised as the Ottoman name by the facts, may be expected to make what capital they can out of the precautions imposed by their own treatment of their Christian subjects, and to impugn the genuineness of the documents that have been edited in the way here described. That was the course they adopted in the case of the evidence relating to the conduct of the German Army in Belgium, which was published with the same, equally necessary, reservations. The Editor can best forestall such disingenuous criticism by stating clearly the principles on which this suppression of names has been made:

(a) Names of persons are not published in this volume unless they have already appeared publicly, in the same connection, in print, or unless the person in question is clearly beyond the reach of Turkish revenge.

(b) Names of places are published wherever possible. They are only withheld when they would be certain to reveal the identity of persons mentioned in connection with them.

(c) All names withheld are represented in the text by capital letters of the alphabet or combinations of capital letters. These letters are not the initials of the names in question, but were assigned in an arbitrary order, as the various documents happened to come into the Editor’s hands.

(d) The name of a place is always represented by the same symbol throughout the volume, e.g., “X.” stands for the same place, whether it occurs in Section I. or Section XI.

(e) In the case of the names of people the same symbol only stands for the same person within a single section, e.g., “Miss A.” stands for the same person, in whatever document it occurs in Section XVII.; but in the documents of Section XI. “Miss A.” represents someone different.

The Editor wishes to state, once more, that these documents in which names are represented by symbols are not a whit less valid, as evidence, than the documents in which no such substitutions xlihave had to be made. If the reader desires confirmation of this, the Editor would refer him to the gentlemen mentioned above, who have been placed in possession of the confidential key.

There are other documents, however, where the names have, on similar grounds, been withheld from the Editor himself, either by the authors of the documents or by those through whose hands the Editor obtained them, or where the ultimate source of the testimony is for some reason obscure. The Editor has been careful to indicate these cases as conspicuously as possible. Where there is any name, either of a place or of a person, unknown to him in the text, he has represented it by a blank (——). Where the name of the author of the document is unknown to him, he has stated this in a footnote to the title by which the document is headed.[7]

The Editor is, of course, aware that these documents which he only possesses in a defective form cannot be presented as evidence in the strict sense by himself, and can plausibly be repudiated by the parties whose crimes they describe. He is the more content to admit this legal objection to them because they merely confirm what is established by the other evidence independently of them. They constitute no more than twenty-two out of the 150 documents in the whole collection, and, if they are passed over, the picture presented by the far larger mass of documents that cannot be impugned remains perfectly precise and complete. The Editor has chosen to publish them, in their natural order, with the rest, because he has no more doubt about their genuineness than about the genuineness of the others—and with good reason, for, out of the twenty-two documents in question, not less then eleven have been communicated to him by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief—citizens of high standing in a neutral country and gentlemen of unimpeachable good faith. He repeats, however, that these twentytwenty-two documents are in no way essential to the presentation of the case as a whole.

The documents are arranged in groups, in a geographical order, which is adjusted as far as possible to the general chronological order in which the different regions were affected by the Ottoman Government’s scheme. The first group or section contains documents that do not confine themselves to any one region, but give general descriptions of events occurring throughout the Ottoman Empire. These documents are for the most part earlier in date than those relating to particular districts, and are therefore placed at the beginning. The second section opens the geographical series with the documents relating to Van, the north-easternmost province of the Ottoman Empire in the direction of the Caucasus and Azerbaijan. The third section deals with Bitlis, the province adjoining Van on the west, which suffered next in xliiorder; the fourth with Azerbaijan, the Persian province on the eastern side of Van, which suffered during the Turkish offensive in the winter of 1914-5; the fifth with Russian Trans-Caucasia, where the refugees from Van and Azerbaijan sought refuge in August, 1915. The succeeding sections follow one another in geographical order from east to west, beginning with Erzeroum, the border province adjoining Van on the north-west along the Russo-Turkish frontier. Erzeroum constitutes the sixth section, Mamouret-ul-Aziz the seventh, Trebizond the eighth, Sivas the ninth, Kaisaria the tenth, the town of X. the eleventh, Angora the twelfth, Constantinople and the adjacent districts the thirteenth. From this point the sections run in reverse order from north-west to south-east, following the track of the Baghdad Railway. The fourteenth section deals with places along this route between (but excluding) Adapazar and Aleppo; the fifteenth deals with Cilicia, the region through which the Baghdad Railway passes half-way along its course, and this is the only case in which the chronological and geographical arrangements seriously conflict, for the Cilicians were the first to suffer—they were already being deported twelve days before fighting broke out at Van. The sixteenth section is Jibal Mousa, a group of villages adjoining Cilicia on the south; the seventeenth the Armenian colonies at Ourfa and AC., two cities on the Mesopotamian fringe; the eighteenth Aleppo, upon which nearly all the convoys of exiles converged; and the nineteenth Damascus and Der-el-Zor, the two districts where the greater part of the survivors were finally deposited. A twentieth section has also been added for documents received while the volume was in the press.

Wherever a date is given without further indication, it may be assumed to be in “New Style.” Where two alternative dates are given (e.g., 26th September/9th October), the first is “Old Style” and the second “New.” Dates are never given in “Old Style” alone. Where sums of money are given in Turkish or Persian units, the English equivalent is usually added in brackets. Sums given in dollars have always been translated into English pounds sterling.

The names of places have not been spelt on any consistent system, there being no recognised system in general use. The Editor has merely endeavoured to standardise the spelling of each particular name wherever it occurs.

An index of all places referred to by name in the documents that are in the Editor’s possession, whether the name has been withheld in the text or not, has been compiled for him most accurately by Miss Margaret Toynbee, to whom he is grateful for this important addition to the usefulness of the book. This index is printed at the end of the volume. The map which accompanies it has been compiled by the Editor himself from various sources, chiefly from Kiepert’s excellent sheets of Asia Minor, in the Map Room of the Royal Geographical Society, where he has received most kind and valuable assistance from the staff.

xliii

I. GENERAL DESCRIPTIONS.

The Ottoman Government did its utmost to prevent the news of what it was doing to the Armenians from leaking through to the outer world. A stringent censorship was established at all the frontiers, private communication was severed between Constantinople and the provinces, and the provinces themselves were isolated from one another. Nearly all our information has been obtained from witnesses who succeeded in making their way out of Turkey after the massacres and deportations had occurred, and who wrote down their experiences after reaching America or Europe. The evidence of these witnesses is first-hand, but it is mostly confined to the particular region in which each witness happened to reside, and it has therefore been grouped in this collection province by province, in geographical order. We possess, however, certain general accounts which reached Europe and America at an earlier date, for the most part, than the individual narratives, and they are printed here in advance of the rest—partly for the chronological reason, and partly because they give a broad survey of what happened, which may impress the general features upon the reader before he approaches the detailed testimony of the sections that follow.

In contrast to the bulk of our evidence, the majority of these preliminary documents give their information at second-hand; but practically every statement they make is more than borne out in detail by the first-hand witnesses, and this is particularly the case with the more startling and appalling of the facts they record.

The most interesting document in this section is No. 12, which was compiled from German sources, published in a German journal, and immediately suppressed by the German Censorship.

1

1. DESPATCH[8] FROM MR. HENRY WOOD, CORRESPONDENT OF THE AMERICAN “UNITED PRESS” AT CONSTANTINOPLE; PUBLISHED IN THE AMERICAN PRESS, 14th AUGUST, 1915.

So critical is the situation that Ambassador Morgenthau, who alone is fighting to prevent wholesale slaughter, has felt obliged to ask the co-operation of the Ambassadors of Turkey’s two Allies. They have been successful to the extent of securing definite promises from the leading members of the Young Turk Government that no orders will be given for massacres. The critical moment for the Armenians, however, will come, it is feared, when the Turks may meet with serious reverses in the Dardanelles or when the Armenians themselves, who not only are in open revolt but are actually in possession of Van and several other important towns, may meet with fresh successes. It is this uprising of the Armenians who are seeking to establish an independent government that the Turks declare is alone responsible for the terrible measures now being taken against them[9]. In the meantime, the position of the Armenians and the system of deportation, dispersion, and extermination that is being carried out against them beggars all description.

Although the present renewal of the Armenian atrocities has been under way for three months, it is only just now that reports creeping into Constantinople from the remotest points of the interior show that absolutely no portion of the Armenian population has been spared. It now appears that the order for the present cruelties was issued in the early part of May, and was at once put into execution with all the extreme genius of the Turkish police system—the one department of government for which the Turks have ever shown the greatest aptitude, both in organisation and administration. At that time sealed orders were sent to the police of the entire Empire. These were to be opened on a specified date that would ensure the orders being in the hands of every department at the moment they were to be opened. Once opened, they provided for a simultaneous descent at practically the same moment on the Armenian population of the entire Empire.

At Broussa, in Asiatic Turkey, the city which it is expected the Turks will select for their capital in the event of Constantinople falling, I investigated personally the manner in which these orders were carried out[10]. From eye-witnesses in other towns from the interior I found that the execution of them was everywhere identical. At midnight, the police authorities swooped down on the homes of all Armenians whose names had been put on the proscribed list sent out from Constantinople. The men were at once placed under arrest, and then the houses were searched for papers which might implicate them either in the present revolutionary movement of the Armenians on the frontier 2or in plots against the Government which the Turks declare exist. In this search, carpets were torn from the floors, draperies stripped from the walls, and even the children turned out of their beds and cradles in order that the mattresses and coverings might be searched.

Following this search, the men were then carried away, and at once there began the carrying out of the system of deportation and dispersion which has been the cruellest feature of the present anti-Armenian wave. The younger men for the most part were at once drafted into the Army. On the authority of men whose names would be known in both America and Europe if I dared mention them, I am told that hundreds if not thousands of these were sent at once to the front ranks at the Dardanelles, where death in a very short space of time is almost a certainty. The older men were then deported into the interior, while the women and children, when not carried off in an opposite direction, were left to shift for themselves as best they could. The terrible feature of this deportation up to date is that it has been carried out on such a basis as to render it practically impossible in thousands of cases that these families can ever again be reunited. Not only wives and husbands, brothers and sisters, but even mothers and their little children have been dispersed in such a manner as to preclude practically all hope that they will ever see each other again.

In defence of these terrible measures which have been taken, the Turks at Constantinople declare that no one but the Armenians themselves is to blame. They state that when the present attack began on the Dardanelles, the Armenians were notified that if they took advantage of the moment when the Turks were concentrating every energy for the maintenance of the Empire, to rise in rebellion, they would be dealt with without quarter. This warning, however, the Armenians failed to heed. They not only rose in rebellion, occupying a number of important towns, including Van, but extended important help to the Russians in the latter’s campaign in the Caucasus.[11]

While this is the Turkish side of the situation, there is also another side which I shall give on the authority of men who have passed practically their entire lives in Turkey and whose names, if I dared mention them, would be recognised in both Europe and America as competent authority. According to these men, the decision has gone out from the Young Turk party that the Armenian population of Turkey must be set back fifty years. This has been decided upon as necessary in order to ensure the supremacy of the Turkish race in the Ottoman Empire, which is one of the basic principles of the Young Turk party. The situation, I am told, is absolutely analogous to that which preceded the Armenian massacres under Abd-ul-Hamid. So far, however, the Young Turks have confined themselves to the new system of deportation, dispersion and separation of families.


1. Memorandum by the Editor, page xli.

2. Memorandum by the Editor, page xl.

3. For instance, the conversation of a German officer reported in Doc. 108 p. 420. For the general attitude of the Turks and German towards the treatment of the Armenians, see “Historical Summary,” chapter V.

On the 11th January, 1916, Herr von Stumm, Chief of the Political Department of the German Foreign Office, gave the following answer in the Reichstag to a question from Dr. Liebknecht:

“It is known to the Imperial Chancellor that revolutionary demonstrations, organised by our enemies, have taken place in Armenia, and that they have caused the Turkish Government to expel the Armenian population of certain districts and to allot to them new dwelling-places. An exchange of views about the reaction of these measures upon the population is now taking place. Further information cannot be given.”

4. A copy of this letter was communicated to the Berner Tagwacht by Dr. Forel, a Swiss gentleman, and reproduced in the Journal de Génève, 17th August, 1916. It was signed by four persons—Dr. Gräter (of Swiss nationality), Dr. Niepage (of German nationality), and two others whose names have been withheld by Dr. Forel.—Editor.

5.

AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.
70, Fifth Avenue, New York.
Including work of the Armenian Relief, the Persian War Relief, and
the Syrian-Palestine Relief Committees.
 
James L. Barton.
Chairman.
Samuel T. Dutton.
Secretary.
Walter H. Mallory.
Field Secretary.
 
Charles R. Crane, Treasurer.
  Arthur J. Brown.   John Moffat.
  Edwin M. Bulkley.   John R. Mott.
  John B. Calvert.   Frank Mason North.
  John D. Crimmins.   Harry V. Osborne.
  Cleveland H. Dodge.   George A. Plimpton.
  Charles W. Eliot.   Rt. Rev. P. Rhinelander.
  William T. Ellis.   Karl Davis Robinson.
  James Cardinal Gibbons.   William W. Rockwell.
  Rt. Rev. David H. Greer.   George T. Scott.
  Norman Hapgood.   Isaac N. Seligman.
  Maurice H. Harris.   William Sloane.
  William I. Haven.   Edward Lincoln Smith.
  Hamilton Holt.   James M. Speers.
  Arthur Curtiss James.   Oscar M. Straus.
  Frederick Lynch.   Stanley White.
  Chas. S. MacFarland.   Talcott Williams.
  H. Pereira Mendes.   Stephen S. Wise.

6. Doc. 121

7. In other words, wherever the title of a document is given without such a footnote, that means that the Editor is in possession of the author’s name, even if the name is not published but represented by a symbol (e.g., “Dr. L.”), or by such periphrases as “A foreign resident,” &c.

8. For full text see page 572.

9. See “Historical Summary,” Chapter V.

10. Compare Doc. 101

11. For the real facts see Section II.

3

2. DESPATCH, DATED 11th JUNE, 1915, FROM AN ESPECIALLY WELL INFORMED NEUTRAL SOURCE AT CONSTANTINOPLE; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

A week before anything was done to Baibourt, the villages all round had been emptied of their Armenian inhabitants. The forced exodus from Baibourt took place on the 1st June[12]. All the villages, as well as three-fourths of the town, had already been evacuated. The third convoy included from 4,000 to 5,000 people. Within six or seven days from the start, all males down to below fifteen years of age had been murdered.

Persecutions, accompanied by horrible torture, have taken place in the Armenian village of Baghtchedjik or Bardizag (2,000 families), in Ovadjik (600 families), in Arslanbeg (600 families), in Döngöl (65 families), in Sabandja (1,000 families), in Ismid, etc. The inhabitants of Kurt-Belené (6,000 to 7,000 families) have been expelled.

In Arabkir the Armenian population has been converted to Islam, after 2,000 males had been killed.


12. See Doc. 59

4

3. EXTRACT FROM A LETTER[13], DATED ARABKIR, 25th JUNE/8th JULY, 1915, COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

The Armenian population has been converted to Islam; it was a means of escaping from the forced migration. Orthodox Turks are given the wives of absent husbands or their daughters. We have been told that, according to an order from the Padishah, everybody must embrace Islam[14].

5

4. LETTER FROM AN AUTHORITATIVE SOURCE, DATED CONSTANTINOPLE, 15th/28th JUNE, 1915; PUBLISHED IN THE NEW YORK JOURNAL “GOTCHNAG,” 28th AUGUST, 1915.

In America you have probably not yet heard of the terrible crisis through which the Armenians of Turkey are passing at this moment. The severe censorship to which all communications between Constantinople and the provinces are subjected, and the absolute embargo on travelling under which the Armenians have been placed, have resulted in depriving us, even in Constantinople, of all but the scantiest information regarding the whole provincial area. And yet what we know already is sufficient to give you some idea.

In every part of Turkey the Armenian population is in a more or less serious plight, in suspense between life and death. Apart from the distress produced by the illegal requisitions, the paralysis of industry, the ravages of the typhus, and the mobilisation of the men—first of those from 20 to 45, and then of those from 18 to 50 years of age—thousands of Armenians have been suffering during the last two months in prison or in exile.

At the beginning of the month of April, immediately after the events at Van, the Government issued an order requisitioning Armenian houses, schools, and episcopal residences, even in the most obscure corners of the provinces, and making the possession of arms, which were allowed until now, or of books and images, which were freely sold in public, a pretext for imprisonments and convictions. The effect of this order has been such that in the prisons of Kaisaria alone there are, at the present moment, more than 500 Armenians in custody, without reckoning those who, by a mere administrative act and without any charge being brought against them, have been deported into districts inhabited entirely by Mohammedans.

However, even this state of things is mild enough in comparison with the condition of affairs in Cilicia and the provinces bordering on the Caucasus. The Turkish Government is now putting into execution its plan of dispersing the Armenian population of the Armenian provinces, taking advantage of the preoccupation of all the European Powers, and of the indifference of Germany and Austria. They began to execute this plan about four months ago, starting with Cilicia[15], where the entire Armenian population of Zeitoun, Dört Yöl and the neighbourhood, and a considerable part of the population of Marash and Hassan-Beyli, have been removed from their homes by brute force and without warning.

Some of the exiles, about 1,000 families, have been sent to the Sultania district of the Vilayet of Konia[16]. The majority, however, have been dispersed among the villages of the province of Zor, beyond Aleppo, and through the districts in the immediate neighbourhood of Aleppo itself—Moumbidj, Bab, Ma’ara, Idlib, etc. This compulsory emigration is still in progress. The same 6fate is in prospect for Adana, Mersina, Hadjin, Sis, etc. As can be seen from the despatches and letters which arrive from these districts, all these people are being deported without the possibility of taking anything with them, and this into districts with a climate to which they are absolutely unaccustomed. There, without shelter, naked and famished, they are abandoned to their fate, and have to subsist on the morsel of bread which the Government sees good to throw to them, a Government which is incapable of providing even its own troops with bread.

The least details of this compulsory emigration that reach us at Constantinople, reduce one to tears at their recital. Among those 1,000 families deported to Sultania there are less than fifty men. The majority made the journey on foot; the old people and the young children died by the wayside, and young women with child miscarried and were abandoned on the mountains. Even now that they have reached their place of exile, these deported Armenians pay a toll of about ten victims a day in deaths from sickness and famine. At Aleppo they need at present £35 (Turkish) a day to provide the exiles with bread. You can imagine what their situation must be in the deserts, where the native Arabs themselves are near starvation.

A sum of money has been sent from Constantinople to the Katholikos of Cilicia, who is at the present moment at Aleppo, witnessing the misery and agony of his flock. At Aleppo, at any rate, the authorities permit the distribution of relief to these unfortunate people; at Sultania, on the other hand, it has so far been impossible to bring any relief within their reach, because the Government refuses permission, in spite of the efforts of the American Embassy.

The same state of affairs now prevails at Erzeroum, Bitlis, Sairt, etc. According to absolutely trustworthy information which we have received, they have begun, during the last two or three weeks, to deport the Armenians of Erzeroum and the neighbourhood towards Derdjan; the rest have been given several days’ grace. From Bitlis and Sairt we have just had despatches forwarded to us, imploring relief. From Moush we have no news, but the same state of affairs must certainly prevail there also[17]. At Khnyss[18] there has been a massacre, but we do not yet know how serious it was. In the neighbourhood of Sivas several villages, Govdoun among others, have been burnt....


13. Name of author withheld.

14. See Doc. 82, page 324.

15. See Section XV.

16. See Docs. 123 and 125.

17. See Section III.

18. See Doc. 53.

7

5. LETTER FROM THE SAME SOURCE, DATED CONSTANTINOPLE, 12/25th JULY, 1915; PUBLISHED IN THE NEW YORK JOURNAL “GOTCHNAG,” 28th AUGUST, 1915.

Since my last letter, our nation’s position has unhappily become more serious, inasmuch as it is now not merely the Armenians of Cilicia who have been deported, but the Armenians of all the native Armenian provinces. From Samsoun and Kaisaria on the one hand to Edessa on the other, about a million and a half people are at this moment on their way to the deserts of Mesopotamia, to be planted in the midst of Arab and Kurdish populations. These people cannot take with them anything but the barest necessities, because of the impossibility of transport and the insecurity of the roads; so that very few of them indeed will succeed in reaching the spot marked out for their exile, while, if immediate relief is not sent them, they will die of hunger....

8

6. LETTER FROM THE SAME SOURCE, DATED CONSTANTINOPLE, 13/26th JULY, 1915, AND ADDRESSED TO A DISTINGUISHED ARMENIAN RESIDENT BEYOND THE OTTOMAN FRONTIER.

Since the 25th May last, events have followed hard upon one another, and the misery of our nation is now at its zenith.

Apart from a few rumours about the situation of the Armenians at Erzeroum, we had heard of nothing, till recently, except the deportation of the inhabitants of several towns and villages in Cilicia. Now we know from an unimpeachable source that the Armenians of all the towns and all the villages of Cilicia have been deported en masse to the desert regions south of Aleppo.

From the 1st May onwards, the population of the city of Erzeroum, and shortly afterwards the population of the whole province, was collected at Samsoun and embarked on shipboard. The populations of Kaisaria, Diyarbekir, Ourfa, Trebizond, Sivas, Harpout and the district of Van have been deported to the deserts of Mesopotamia, from the southern outskirts of Aleppo as far as Mosul and Baghdad. “Armenia without the Armenians”—that is the Ottoman Government’s project. The Moslems are already being allowed to take possession of the lands and houses abandoned by the Armenians.

The exiles are forbidden to take anything with them. For that matter, in the districts under military occupation there is nothing left to take, as the military authorities have exerted themselves to carry off, for their own use, everything that they could lay hands on.

The exiles will have to traverse on foot a distance that involves one or two months’ marching and sometimes even more, before they reach the particular corner of the desert assigned to them for their habitation, and destined to become their tomb. We hear, in fact, that the course of their route and the stream of the Euphrates are littered with the corpses of exiles, while those who survive are doomed to certain death, since they will find in the desert neither house, nor work, nor food.

It is simply a scheme for exterminating the Armenian nation wholesale, without any fuss. It is just another form of massacre, and a more horrible form.

Remember that all the men between the ages of 20 and 45 are at the front. Those between 45 and 60 are working for the military transport service. As for those who had paid the statutory tax for exemption from military service, they have either been exiled or imprisoned on one pretext or another. The result is that there is no one left to deport but the old men, the women and the children. These poor creatures have to travel through regions which, even in times of peace, were reputed dangerous, and where there was a serious risk of being robbed. Now that the Turkish brigands, as well as the gendarmes and civil 9officials, enjoy the most absolute licence, the exiles will inevitably be robbed on the road, and their women and girls dishonoured and abducted.

We are hearing also from various places of conversions to Islam. It seems that the people have no other alternative for saving their lives.

The courts martial are working everywhere at full pressure.

You must have heard through the newspapers of the hanging of 20 Huntchakists at Constantinople. The verdict given against them is not based on any of the established laws of the Empire. The same day twelve Armenians were hanged at Kaisaria, on the charge of having obeyed instructions received from the secret conference held at Bukarest by the Huntchakists and Droshakists. Besides these hangings, 32 persons have been sentenced at Kaisaria to terms of hard labour, ranging from ten to fifteen years. Most of them are honest merchants who are in no sort of relation with the political parties. Twelve Armenians have also been hanged in Cilicia. Condemnations have become daily occurrences. The discovery of arms, books and pictures is enough to condemn an Armenian to several years’ imprisonment.

Besides this many people have succumbed under the rod. Thirteen Armenians have been killed in this way at Diyarbekir, and six at Kaisaria. Thirteen others have been killed on their way to Shabin Kara-Hissar and Sivas. The priests of the village of Kourk with their companions have suffered the same fate on the road between Sou-Shehr and Sivas, although they had their hands pinioned and were defenceless.

I will spare you the recital of other outrages which have occurred sporadically all over the country, under the cloak of searches for arms and for revolutionary agents. Not a single house has been left unsearched, not even the episcopal residences, the churches or the schools. Hundreds of women, girls, and even quite young children are groaning in prison. Churches and convents have been pillaged, desecrated and destroyed. Even the Bishops are not spared. Mgr. Barkev Danielian (Bishop of Broussa), Mgr. Kevork Tourian (Bishop of Trebizond), Mgr. Khosrov Behrikian (Bishop of Kaisaria), Mgr. Vaghinadj Torikian (Bishop of Shabin Kara-Hissar), and Mgr. Kevork Nalbandian (Bishop of Tchar-Sandjak) have been arrested and handed over to the courts martial. Father Muggerditch, locum-tenens of the Bishop of Diyarbekir, has died of blows received in prison. We have no news of the other bishops, but I imagine that the greater part of them are in prison.

We are so cut off from the world that we might be in a fortress. We have no means of correspondence, neither post nor telegraph.

The villages in the neighbourhood of Van and Bitlis have been plundered, and their inhabitants put to the sword. At the beginning of this month, there was a pitiless massacre of all the inhabitants of Kara-Hissar with the exception of a few children 10who are said to have escaped by a miracle. Unhappily we learn the details of all these occurrences too late, and even then only with the utmost difficulty.

So you see that the Armenians in Turkey have only a few more days to live, and if the Armenians abroad do not succeed in enlisting the sympathy of the neutrals on our behalf, there will be extraordinarily few Armenians left a few months hence, out of the million and a half that there were in Turkey before the war. The annihilation of the Armenian nation will then be inevitable.

11

7. LETTER FROM THE SAME SOURCE, DATED CONSTANTINOPLE, 2/15th AUGUST, 1915, AND ADDRESSED TO THE SAME ARMENIAN RESIDENT BEYOND THE OTTOMAN FRONTIER.

Since I wrote my last letter (of which you have acknowledged the receipt), we have been able to obtain more precise information from the provinces of the interior. The information with which we present you herewith is derived from the following witnesses: an Armenian lady forcibly converted to Islam, and brought by an unforeseen chance to Constantinople; a girl from Zila, between nine and ten years old, who was abducted by a Turkish officer and has reached Constantinople; a Turkish traveller from Harpout; foreign travellers from Erzindjan, and so on. In fine, this information is derived either from eye-witnesses or from actual victims of the crimes.

It is now established that there is not an Armenian left in the provinces of Erzeroum, Trebizond, Sivas, Harpout, Bitlis and Diyarbekir. About a million of the Armenian inhabitants of these provinces have been deported from their homes and sent southwards into exile. These deportations have been carried out very systematically by the local authorities since the beginning of April last. First of all, in every village and every town, the population was disarmed by the gendarmerie, and by criminals released for this purpose from prison. On the pretext of disarming the Armenians, these criminals committed assassinations and inflicted hideous tortures. Next, they imprisoned the Armenians en masse, on the pretext that they had found in their possession arms, books, a political organisation, and so on—at a pinch, wealth or any kind of social standing was pretext enough. After that, they began the deportation. And first, on the pretext of sending them into exile, they evicted such men as had not been imprisoned, or such as had been set at liberty through lack of any charge against them; then they massacred them—not one of these escaped slaughter. Before they started, they were examined officially by the authorities, and any money or valuables in their possession were confiscated. They were usually shackled—either separately, or in gangs of five to ten. The remainder—old men, women, and children—were treated as waifs in the province of Harpout, and placed at the disposal of the Moslem population. The highest official, as well as the most simple peasant, chose out the woman or girl who caught his fancy, and took her to wife, converting her by force to Islam. As for the children, the Moslems took as many of them as they wanted, and then the remnant of the Armenians were marched away, famished and destitute of provisions, to fall victims to hunger, unless that were anticipated by the savagery of the brigand-bands. In the province of Diyarbekir there was an outright massacre, especially at Mardin, and the population was subjected to all the afore-mentioned atrocities.

12In the provinces of Erzeroum, Bitlis, Sivas and Diyarbekir, the local authorities gave certain facilities to the Armenians condemned to deportation: five to ten days’ grace, authorisation to effect a partial sale of their goods, and permission to hire a cart, in the case of some families. But after the first few days of their journey, the carters abandoned them on the road and returned home. These convoys were waylaid the day after the start, or sometimes several days after, by bands of brigands or by Moslem peasants who spoiled them of all they had. The brigands fraternised with the gendarmes and slaughtered the few grown men or youths who were included in the convoys. They carried off the women, girls and children, leaving only the old women, who were driven along by the gendarmes under blows of the lash and died of hunger by the roadside. An eye-witness reports to us that the women deported from the province of Erzeroum were abandoned, some days ago, on the plain of Harpout, where they have all died of hunger (50 or 60 a day).

The only step taken by the authorities was to send people to bury them, in order to safeguard the health of the Moslem population.

The little girl from Zila tells us that when the Armenians of Marsovan, Amasia and Tokat reached Sari-Kishila (between Kaisaria and Sivas), the children of both sexes were torn from their mothers before the very windows of the Government Building, and were locked up in certain other buildings, while the convoy was forced to continue its march. After that, they gave notice in the neighbouring villages that anyone might come and take his choice. She and her companion (Newart of Amasia) were carried off and brought to Constantinople by a Turkish officer. The convoys of women and children were placed on view in front of the Government Building at each town or village where they passed, to give the Moslems an opportunity of taking their choice.

The convoy which started from Baibourt was thinned out in this way, and the women and children who survived were thrown into the Euphrates on the outskirts of Erzindjan, at a place called Kamakh-Boghazi.[19] Mademoiselle Flora A. Wedel Yarlesberg, a Norwegian lady of good family who was a nurse in a German Red Cross hospital, and another nurse who was her colleague, were so revolted by these barbarities and by other experiences of equal horror, that they tendered their resignations, returned to Constantinople, and called personally at several Embassies to denounce these hideous crimes.

The same barbarities have been committed everywhere, and by this time travellers find nothing but thousands of Armenian corpses along all the roads in these provinces. A Moslem traveller on his way from Malatia to Sivas, a nine hours’ journey, passed nothing but corpses of men and women. All the male Armenians of Malatia had been taken there and massacred; the women and 13children have all been converted to Islam. No Armenian can travel in these parts, for every Moslem, and especially the brigands and gendarmes, considers it his duty now to kill them at sight. Recently Messieurs Zohrab and Vartkes, two Armenian members of the Ottoman Parliament, who had been sent off to Diyarbekir to be tried by the Council of War, were killed, before they got there, at a short distance from Aleppo. In these provinces one can only travel incognito under a Moslem name. As for the women’s fate, we have already spoken of it above, and it seems unnecessary to go into further particulars about their honour, when one sees the utter disregard there is for their life.

The Armenian soldiers, too, have suffered the same fate. They were also all disarmed and put to constructing roads.[20] We have certain knowledge that the Armenian soldiers of the province of Erzeroum, who were at work on the road from Erzeroum to Erzindjan, have all been massacred. The Armenian soldiers of the province of Diyarbekir have all been massacred on the Diyarbekir-Ourfa road, and the Diyarbekir-Harpout road. From Harpout alone, 1,800 young Armenians were enrolled and sent off to work at Diyarbekir; all were massacred in the neighbourhood of Arghana. We have no news from the other districts, but they have assuredly suffered the same fate there also.

In certain towns, the Armenians who had been consigned to oblivion in the prisons have been hanged in batches. During the past month alone, several dozen Armenians have been hanged in Kaisaria. In many places the Armenian inhabitants, to save their lives, have tried to become Mohammedans, but this time such overtures have not been readily accepted, as they were at the time of the other great massacres. At Sivas, the would-be converts to Islam were offered the following terms: they must hand over all children under twelve years of age to the Government, which would undertake to place them in orphanages; and they must consent, for their own part, to leave their homes and settle wherever the Government directed.

At Harpout, they would not accept the conversion of the men; in the case of the women, they made their conversion conditional in each instance upon the presence of a Moslem willing to take the convert in marriage. Many Armenian women preferred to throw themselves into the Euphrates with their infants, or committed suicide in their homes. The Euphrates and Tigris have become the sepulchre of thousands of Armenians.

All Armenians converted in the Black Sea towns—Trebizond, Samsoun, Kerasond, etc.—have been sent to the interior, and settled in towns inhabited exclusively by Moslems. The town of Shabin-Karahissar resisted the disarming and deportation, and was thereupon bombarded. The whole population of the town and the surrounding country, from the Bishop downwards, was pitilessly massacred.

14In short, from Samsoun on the one hand to Seghert[21] and Diyarbekir on the other, there is now not a single Armenian left. The majority have been massacred, part have been carried off, and a very small part have been converted to Islam.

History has never recorded, never hinted at, such a hecatomb. We are driven to believe that under the reign of Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid we were exceedingly fortunate.

We have just learned the fate of some of the provincial bishops. Mgr. Anania Hazarabedian, Bishop of Baibourt, has been hanged without any confirmation of the sentence by the Central Government[22]. Mgr. Bosak Der-Khoremian. Bishop of Harpout, started on his road to exile in May, and had barely left the outskirts of the town when he was cruelly murdered. But we have still no news of the Bishops of Seghert, Bitlis, Moush, Keghi, Palou, Erzindjan, Kamakh, Tokat, Gurin, Samsoun and Trebizond, or for a month past of the Bishops of Sivas and Erzeroum. It is superfluous to speak of the martyred priests. When the people were deported, the churches were pillaged and turned into mosques, stables, or what not. Besides that, they have begun to sell at Constantinople the sacred objects and other properties of the Armenian churches, just as the Turks have begun to bring to Constantinople the children of the unhappy Armenian mothers.

It appears that the massacres have been less cruel in Cilicia, or at least we have no news yet of the worst. The population, which has been deported to the provinces of Aleppo and Der-el-Zor and to Damascus, will certainly perish of hunger. We have just heard that the Government has refused to leave in peace even the insignificant Armenian colonies at Aleppo and Ourfa, who might have assisted their unhappy brethren on their southward road; and the Katholikos of Cilicia, who still remains at Aleppo, is busy distributing the relief we are forwarding to him.

We thought at first that the Government’s plan was to settle the Armenian question once and for all by clearing out the Armenians of the six Armenian provinces and removing the Armenian population of Cilicia, to forestall another danger in the future. Unhappily their plan was wider in scope and more thorough in intention. It consisted in the extermination of the whole Armenian population throughout the whole of Turkey. The result is that, in those seven provinces where the Government was pledged to introduce reforms, there is not one per cent. of the Armenian population left alive. So far, we do not know whether a single Armenian has reached Mosul or its neighbourhood. And this plan has now been put into execution even in the suburbs of Constantinople. The majority of the Armenians in the district of Ismid and in the province of Broussa have been forcibly deported to Mesopotamia, leaving behind them their homes and their property. In detail, the population of Adapazar, Ismid, Gegvé, Armasha and the neighbourhood has been removed—in 15fact, the population of all the villages in the Ismid district (except Baghtchedjik, which has been granted several days’ grace). The Principal of the Seminary at Armasha has also been removed with his colleagues in orders and his seminarists[23]. They have had to leave everything behind, and been able to take nothing with them on their journey. Six weeping mothers confided their little ones to the Armenians of Konia, in order to save their lives, but the local authorities tore them away from their Armenian guardians, and handed them over to Moslems.

So now it is Constantinople’s turn. In any case, the population has fallen into a panic, and is waiting from one moment to another for the execution of its doom. The arrests are innumerable, and those arrested are immediately removed from the capital. The majority will assuredly perish. It is the retail merchants of provincial birth, but resident in Constantinople, who are so far being deported—among them Marouké, Ipranossian Garabed, Kherbekian of Erzeroum, Atamian Karekin, Krikorian Sempad of Bitlis, etc. We are making great efforts to save at any rate the Armenians of Constantinople from this horrible extermination of the race, in order that, hereafter, we may have at least one rallying point for the Armenian cause in Turkey.

Is there anything further to add to this report? The whole Armenian population of Turkey has been condemned to death, and this decree is being put into execution energetically in every corner of the Empire, under the eyes of the European Powers; while, so far, neither Germany nor Austria has succeeded in checking the action of their ally and removing the stain of these barbarities, which also attaches to them. All our efforts have been without result. Our hope is set upon the Armenians abroad.


19. See Docs. 59, 60, 61, 62. The witnesses at Erzindjan were not Norwegians but Danes—Editor.

20. See Docs. 23 and 62.

21. Sairt (?)

22. See Doc. 59.

23. See Doc. 99.

16

8. EXTRACTS FROM A LETTER, DATED ATHENS, 8th/21st JULY, 1915, FROM AN ARMENIAN FORMERLY RESIDENT IN TURKEY TO A PROMINENT ARMENIAN IN WESTERN EUROPE.

Events have been taking place in Turkey of which I imagine that you have no first-hand or reliable information, on account of the strict censorship and scarcity of travellers.... And as I have been able to obtain reliable information, I have thought it my duty as an Armenian to submit it to your Excellency.

Mr. A., who was a missionary teacher at the town of B. in Cilicia for four years, and with whom I am acquainted personally (and I have good reason to believe in every word he says), arrived in this city only yesterday, coming from AE. in company with Miss B., the daughter of the Director of Mr. A.’ s college, with whom I am also acquainted personally.

They just began to inform me by saying that the condition of the Armenians in Cilicia was awful. The town of Dört Yöl, after having been cleared of its Armenian population, has been peacefully occupied by Turkish families, and not by the military authorities. The whole of the Armenian inhabitants have been sent away—turned out of their homes—and are naturally suffering from hunger. The exposure is something that cannot be described. Before evacuation, some nine leading merchants were hanged, on the accusation that they were in communication with the British fleet and were spying for the Allied Forces[24].

Zeitoun has met the same fate. There is not a single Armenian left in Zeitoun, and all the houses are occupied by Turkish people. My friends could not understand what exactly had happened to the Zeitounlis, but the fact is that special care has been taken by the Turkish authorities that too many of them should not be left together. Attempts have been made to make them Mohammedans, and it is known that the authorities attempted to distribute one, two, or three families to each Turkish village in the district of Marash.

They have attempted to do the same thing to Hadjin, but, somehow or other, only half the inhabitants have left, whose homes have naturally been occupied by the Turks.

The Turks of Tarsus and Adana are showing the same disposition as they did before the massacres of 1909.

Missionaries from Beirout state that the same persecution is being carried out against Christian Syrians.

Dr. C., for many years a missionary in Smyrna, and latterly in AD., was exiled to Angora. He states that there were thirty Armenians exiled with him from AD. on the simple charge that they had either themselves been Huntchakists or had friends belonging to the said Party. Extortion of money, robbery and insults are usual, and conditions in general are worse than at any period in the time of Hamid. Dr. C. has been in Turkey for 35 years and knows Turkish.

17At Kaisaria they hanged eight Armenians. About the same time they hanged twenty-six at Constantinople, and this immediately after the note of the Powers threatening to hold Turkish officials responsible for massacres of Armenians. Imprisonment and exile are common things, and the Reverend Missionary finished by saying that “I ought to be glad I was out of it.”

Dr. C., coming from Constantinople, gave me the further information that massacres had been going on round Bitlis for some time. And then, from correspondents at Bitlis, his informants had had news that whole villages were embracing Mohammedanism in order to escape tortures, because the object of the massacres was not simply to kill, but to torture.

A resident at Mardin had telegraphed by code to Constantinople informing his correspondent there that the same conditions existed at Mardin as during 1895.

The American Ambassador at Constantinople, after asking the Turkish Government to stop the massacres, went to the German Ambassador. But Herr Wangenheim said he could not interfere in any way with Turkey’s internal affairs!!!

All these informants do not hide their belief, based on what they have actually seen, that German policy is at the back of the movement for a clean Mohammedan “Turkey for the Turks.”

I will give your Excellency another coincident piece of evidence. In May, 1914, I travelled with Dr. Niazim Bey, who is the spirit of the Union and Progress Party, when he was on the mission of establishing a boycott—nominally against the Greeks only, though it proved to be against the Armenians as well. The Doctor said that the work of the Turkish Government was very complicated, and he laid all the fault of it on the ancestors of the modern Turks, who, in spite of their being victorious and defying all Europe, nay all the world, had not been far-sighted enough to cleanse all the country they ruled of the Christian element, but had yielded to their chivalrous feelings and allowed the Christians to live. Had they done this bit of cleaning up at a time when nobody could protest, there would have been an easy task now for the heads of the Government in governing, and so on.

The Russian retreat has intoxicated the Turks. They think they have their chance now, and evidence shows that their almighty ally Germany encourages them in their effort at house cleaning. The note of the Allied Powers is no deterrent, even if the Turkish officials were not sure of final victory, because they feel that, if they lose, Turkey is not the place to offer them a happy shelter, and, with the money they are making now, the officials responsible can hide themselves in a country where they cannot be found or cannot be extradited. And some of the bolder spirits, like Talaat and Enver, have openly said that they do not expect to live if defeated, even without the threat of the Allies to bring them to account.

18The Armenians in Turkey have not been able to conceal their feelings, and when I myself was in Constantinople, prudent man though I am, I was unable to conceal my feelings myself, or at least so effectively as not to be perceived by the Turks.

As early as September last, the Turkish comic paper Karagoz had written one day that “If the Armenians were cheerful, there was certainly news of victory for the Allies; if not, it had been the reverse.” But if, in spite of the Armenians concealing their feelings, the Turks had definitely adopted the policy—as no doubt they had—of exterminating the Christians in Turkey, then we have at least the satisfaction that we have hurt them with the display of what we felt.

I believe that the Germans did not want to exterminate the Armenians unless the latter proved of military danger in the present game; but I imagine the Armenians have incurred the Germans’ displeasure in this regard.

That Germany, or the Germans in Turkey, are for the above reason encouraging the Turks in their attempt at extermination, is proved by the fact that wholesale massacres and deportations have been specific to regions of which the inhabitants might be of especial help to an invading army. For instance, Dört Yöl and Zeitoun would be of excellent help had the Allies made a landing at Payas. Bitlis is next door to Van; the Russian army is getting towards Bitlis, and naturally the Armenians of Bitlis would be of great value to them, as indeed the Armenians of Van have been already.

Take the case of Erzeroum, again a frontier town, which, besides individual hangings, has been the scene of wholesale massacres; while towns far away from the theatre of war, such as Angora, Broussa, Konia, Constantinople, etc., although not exempted from persecution, have still not been subjected to wholesale massacres and deportations.


24. See Doc. 123.

19

9. LETTER, DATED 3rd/16th AUGUST, 1915, CONVEYED BEYOND THE OTTOMAN FRONTIER BY AN ARMENIAN REFUGEE FROM CILICIA IN THE SOLE OF HER SHOE[25]

In haste and in secret I seize this opportunity of bringing to your ears the cry of agony which goes out from the survivors of the terrible crisis through which we are passing at this moment. They are exterminating our nation, mowing it down. Perhaps this will be the last cry from Armenia that you will hear; we have no longer any fear of death, we see it close at hand, this death of the whole people. We are waifs who cry for the lives of our brothers. These lines cannot describe our misery; it would need volumes of reports to do justice to that.

(1.) At the present moment there are at —— more than 10,000 deported widows and children (among the latter one sees no boys above eleven years of age). They had been on the road for from three to five months; they have been plundered several times over, and have marched along naked and starving; the Government gave them on one single occasion a morsel of bread—a few have had it twice. It is said that the number of these deported widows will reach 60,000; they are so exhausted that they cannot stand upright; the majority have great sores on their feet, through having had to march barefoot.

(2). An enquiry has proved that, out of 1,000 people who started, scarcely 400 reached ——. Out of the 600 to be accounted for, 380 men and boys above eleven years of age, and 85 women, had been massacred or drowned, out of sight of the towns, by the gendarmes who conducted them; 120 young women and girls and 40 boys had been carried off, with the result that one does not see a single pretty face among the survivors.

(3.) Out of these survivors, 60 per cent. are sick; they are to be sent in the immediate future to ——, where certain death awaits them; one cannot describe the ferocious treatment to which they are exposed; they had been on the road for from three to five months; they had been plundered two, three, five, seven times; their underclothes even had been ransacked; so far from being given anything to eat, they had even been prevented from drinking while they were passing a stream. Three-quarters of the young women and girls were abducted; the remainder were forced to lie with the gendarmes who conducted them. Thousands died under these outrages, and the survivors have stories to tell of refinements of outrage so disgusting that they pollute one’s ears.

(4.) The massacres have been most violent in the eastern provinces, and the population has been deported wholesale towards the Hauran Desert, Gereg and Mosul, where the victims are doomed to a death from natural causes more infallible than massacre. When one remembers that these people were leading a comfortable European life, one is forced to conclude that 20they will never be able to survive in an alien and inhospitable climate, even if the knife and the bullet do not previously do their work.

My friends, I have not time to tell you more; one may say with truth that not a single Armenian is left in Armenia; soon there will be none left in Cilicia either. The Armenian, robbed of his life, his goods, his honour, conveys to you his last cry for help—help to save the lives of the survivors! Money to buy them bread! There is a rumour here that the Government will allow the women and the children under seventeen years of age to leave the country. How are they to do it? Where are they to go? What ship is to take them? Who will provide the funds? From moment to moment we are waiting for relief, to stave off the death of the Nation. Be quick, never mind how; send us money, we have no means of communication!

Send, through the agency of the American Government, money, money, money; the bearer of this letter deserves every reward; she will tell you all the details. Zohrab, Vartkes Daghavarian and their five companions have been murdered by the gendarmes at Sheitan-Deré, between Ourfa and Diyarbekir, where thousands of headless corpses make the passers-by shudder; the Euphrates bears down its stream thousands of corpses of men and women; photographs of this have been taken by Europeans. Fifteen thousand Zeitounlis have been deported to Der-el-Zor, where they are suffering the worst atrocities. Thousands of babies at the breast have been thrown into rivers or abandoned by the wayside by their mothers. The urgent need is money! Make that clear to the Armenian colony in America. Money! Money!

One thousand six hundred Armenians have had their throats cut in the prisons at Diyarbekir. The Arashnort was mutilated, drenched with alcohol, and burnt alive in the prison yard, in the middle of a carousing crowd of gendarmes, who even accompanied the scene with music. The massacres at Beniani, Adiaman and Selefka have been carried out diabolically; there is not a single man left above the age of thirteen years; the girls have been outraged mercilessly; we have seen their mutilated corpses tied together in batches of four, eight or ten, and cast into the Euphrates. The majority had been mutilated in an indescribable manner.

The above facts have been gathered from official sources and eye-witnesses.

The American Consul is able to arrange for the despatch of funds. We are unable to realise any of our property, either national or private, because it has all been confiscated by the Government. The Government has even confiscated the convents, the churches and the schools. Black famine reigns in this town; we have 15,000 deported Armenians here, who are being sent on in batches to Arabia. The whole of Armenia is being cleared out.

I sign this letter with my blood!


25. The author of the letter has been identified by an Armenian resident abroad who recognised his hand-writing.—Editor.

21

10. LETTER FROM MR. N., A FOREIGN RESIDENT AT CONSTANTINOPLE, DATED 27th AUGUST, 1915; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

The Armenians of Bardizag have generally speaking been deported. A promise secured by Mr. Morgenthau that Protestants should be exempted from deportation has kept the people at Nicomedia (Isnik) for nearly a week. They are camped in the open near the Railway Station, exposed to the weather and to the insults of the populace, apparently to be deported a few days later on. Whether we shall succeed in saving the Protestants remains to be seen. Deportation has taken place generally throughout all the region contiguous to Nicomedia, Adapazar, Konia, Marsovan, Sivas, Harpout, Diyarbekir and to some parts of the American Central Mission. Many people have already lost their lives, and others, as for instance those in this city, have lost hope as to their final security. I shall enclose a few letters which will give an idea of the situation throughout the land.

Prof. QQ.[26] has just arrived from X. He has been four weeks on the journey, having been delayed considerably at S. He states that the Armenians have left, having been deported from X. and the vicinity. Mr. Morgenthau endeavoured to save the Mission entourage at X. from deportation; the promises securing this, however, were not fulfilled. Even the hundred girls and young women held in the College Compound could not be saved from this dreadful fate. To the bold stand made by the Mission people, on behalf of their pupils and teachers, the Kaimakam himself opposed his personal authority, threatening to hang anyone who attempted to prevent the carrying out of his orders for the deportation of the people. These orders, here as elsewhere, seemed to respect neither age nor condition....

The movement against the Armenians has now well-nigh covered the entire country. Many prominent Armenians have lost their lives; hardly a family has escaped experiencing to some extent the severity of this blow. It looks as if the patronage from this community for the American schools has been quite cut off. Teachers and pupils alike have been sent into exile, or have suffered death or have been carried off to Turkish communities or harems. There is an ugly rumour that the turn of the Greeks will come next. Should Greece move, this will probably be realised....


26. Author of Docs. 56 and 57.

22

11. MEMORANDUM DATED 15/28th OCTOBER, 1915, FROM A WELL-INFORMED SOURCE AT BUKAREST, RELATING TO THE EXTERMINATION OF THE ARMENIANS IN TURKEY.

1. At Vezir Köprü (district of Marsovan) all Armenian women and girls from 7 to 40 years of age have been sold at auction. Women were also presented to the buyers without payment.

2. At Kaisaria more than 500 Armenian families were forced to embrace Islam. A father asked his son in Constantinople to follow his example, “in order to prevent worse consequences for his parents.”

3. All Armenian judicial officials in the provinces have been discharged. All Turkish officials who have shown special zeal in the extermination of the Armenians have been promoted. Thus Zeki Bey, Kaimakam of Develou (Kaisaria), the man who directed in person the terrible tortures of the Armenian prisoners and was responsible for the death of most of them, has been made mektoubdji of the Vilayet of Constantinople.

4. The Young Turk Government has published, as an excuse or perhaps as a means of exciting greater hatred against the Armenians, a book entitled The Armenian Separatist Movement, which is as ridiculous as it is criminal. The reader finds in it not only copies of entirely fictitious publications, but actually pictures of enormous depots of arms and munitions purporting to be Armenian.

5. In Konia, and everywhere else, the wives of the Armenian soldiers who have not been deported have been taken as servants or concubines into Turkish families.

6. In Marash more than three hundred Armenians have been executed by Court Martial, besides the numerous victims murdered in the course of the deportations. At Panderma many important Armenians have been condemned to death by the Court Martial. The vicar Barkev Vartabed has been condemned to five years’ penal servitude. The Archbishop of Erzeroum, His Grace Sempad, who, with the Vali’s authorisation, was returning to Constantinople, was murdered at Erzindjan by the brigands in the service of the Union and Progress Committee. The bishops of Trebizond, Kaisaria, Moush, Bitlis, Sairt, and Erzindjan have all been murdered by order of the Young Turk Government. According to reports from travellers, all the Armenian population of Trebizond has been massacred without exception. Almost the whole male population in Sivas, Erzeroum, Harpout, Bitlis, Baibourt, Khnyss, Diyarbekir, etc., has been exterminated. At Tchingiler, a small village in the district of Ismid, 300 men have been murdered because they did not obey the order to leave their houses. The people deported from Rodosto, Malgara and Tchorlu, who have been deprived of all their possessions in accordance with the new “temporary law” of the 13/26th September, have been separated from their families and sent on foot from Ismid to Konia on the arbitrary 23order of the notorious Ibrahim, dictator of the Ismid district. Thousands of poor Armenians expelled from Constantinople are made to march on foot from Ismid to Konia and still further, after they have delivered up everything they possess to the gendarmes, including their shoes. Those who can afford to travel by rail are also fleeced by the gendarmes, who not only demand the price of the ticket from Constantinople to their destinations, but extract the whole of their money by selling them food at exorbitant prices. They demand payment even for unlocking the door of the water-closet.

7. German travellers from Aleppo describe the misery of the deported Armenians as terrible. All along the route they saw corpses of Armenians who had died of hunger.

The Arab deputies from Bagdad and Syria report that the misery in the deserts of Hauran is indescribable:—

“The railway discharges into the mountains vast numbers of Armenians, who are abandoned there without bread or water. In the towns and villages, the Arabs try to bring them some relief; but generally the Armenians are abandoned at five or six hours’ distance from their homes. We saw on the way numbers of women and old men and children dying of hunger, who did not know where to look for help.”

Some Armenians are leading a life of misery among the Arabs, forty or forty-five hours’ journey from Bagdad. Every day numbers of them die of hunger. The Government gives them no food. Moreover, fresh troops have been sent to Bagdad, and these will be a new scourge to the unfortunate exiles.

8. Three Special Commissions have been sent through the provinces to liquidate the abandoned goods and estates of the Armenians, in conformity with the new “temporary law” of the 13/26th September, 1915.

24

12. INFORMATION REGARDING EVENTS IN ARMENIA, PUBLISHED IN THE “SONNENAUFGANG” (ORGAN OF THE “GERMAN LEAGUE FOR THE PROMOTION OF CHRISTIAN CHARITABLE WORK IN THE EAST”), OCTOBER, 1915; AND IN THE “ALLGEMEINE MISSIONS-ZEITSCHRIFT,” NOVEMBER, 1915.

This testimony is especially significant because it comes from a German source, and because the German Censor made a strenuous attempt to suppress it.

The same issue of the “Sonnenaufgang” contains the following editorial note:—

“In our preceding issue we published an account by one of our sisters (Schwester Möhring) of her experiences on a journey, but we have to abstain from giving to the public the new details that are reaching us in abundance. It costs us much to do so, as our friends will understand; but the political situation of our country demands it.”

In the case of the “Allgemeine Missions-Zeitschrift,” the Censor was not content with putting pressure on the editor. On the 10th November, he forbade the reproduction of the present article in the German press, and did his best to confiscate the whole current issue of the magazine. Copies of both publications, however, found their way across the frontier.

Both the incriminating articles are drawn from common sources, but the extracts they make from them do not entirely coincide, so that, by putting them together, a fuller version of these sources can be compiled.

In the text printed below, the unbracketed paragraphs are those which appear both in the “Sonnenaufgang” and in the “Allgemeine Missions-Zeitschrift”; while paragraphs included in angular brackets (<>) appear only in the “Sonnenaufgang,” and those in square brackets ([ ]) only in the “Allgemeine Missions-Zeitschrift.”

Between the 10th and the 30th May, 1,200 of the most prominent Armenians and other Christians, without distinction of confession, were arrested in the Vilayets of Diyarbekir and Mamouret-ul-Aziz.

<It is said that they were to be taken to Mosul, but nothing more has been heard of them.>

[On the 30th May, 674 of them were embarked on thirteen Tigris barges, under the pretext that they were to be taken to Mosul. The Vali’s aide-de-camp, assisted by fifty gendarmes, was in charge of the convoy. Half the gendarmes started off on the barges, while the other half rode along the bank. A short time after the start the prisoners were stripped of all their money (about £6,000 Turkish) and then of their clothes; after that they were thrown into the river. The gendarmes on the bank were ordered to let none of them escape. The clothes of these victims were sold in the market of Diyarbekir.]

25<About the same time 700 young Armenian men were conscribed, and were then set to build the Karabaghtché-Habashi road. There is no news of these 700 men either.

It is said that in Diyarbekir five or six priests were stripped naked one day, smeared with tar, and dragged through the streets.>

In the Vilayet of Aleppo they have evicted the inhabitants of Hadjin, Shar, Albustan, Göksoun, Tasholouk, Zeitoun, all the villages of Alabash, Geben, Shivilgi, Furnus and the surrounding villages, Fundadjak, Hassan-Beyli, Harni, Lappashli, Dört Yöl and others.

[They have marched them off in convoys into the desert on the pretext of settling them there. In the village of Tel-Armen (along the line of the Bagdad Railway, near Mosul) and in the neighbouring villages about 5,000 people were massacred, leaving only a few women and children. The people were thrown alive down wells or into the fire. They pretend that the Armenians are to be employed in colonising land situated at a distance of from twenty-four to thirty kilometres from the Bagdad Railway. But as it is only the women and children who are sent into exile, since all the men, with the exception of the very old, are at the war, this means nothing less than the wholesale murder of the families, since they have neither the labour nor the capital for clearing the country.]

A German met a Christian soldier of his acquaintance, who was on furlough from Jerusalem. The man was wandering up and down along the banks of the Euphrates searching for his wife and children, who were supposed to have been transferred to that neighbourhood. Such unfortunates are often to be met with in Aleppo, because they believe that there they will learn something more definite about the whereabouts of their relations. It has often happened that when a member of a family has been absent, he discovers on his return that all his family are gone—evicted from their homes.

[For a whole month corpses were observed floating down the River Euphrates nearly every day, often in batches of from two to six corpses bound together. The male corpses are in many cases hideously mutilated (sexual organs cut off, and so on), the female corpses are ripped open. The Turkish military authority in control of the Euphrates, the Kaimakam of Djerablous, refuses to allow the burial of these corpses, on the ground that he finds it impossible to establish whether they belong to Moslems or to Christians. He adds that no one has given him any orders on the subject. The corpses stranded on the bank are devoured by dogs and vultures. To this fact there are many German eye-witnesses. An employee of the Bagdad Railway has brought the information that the prisons at Biredjik are filled regularly every day and emptied every night—into the Euphrates. Between Diyarbekir and Ourfa a German cavalry captain saw innumerable corpses lying unburied all along the road.]

26<The following telegram was sent to Aleppo from Arabkir:—“We have accepted the True Religion. Now we are all right.” The inhabitants of a village near Anderoum went over to Islam and had to hold to it. At Hadjin six families wanted to become Mohammedans. They received the verdict: “Nothing under one hundred families will be accepted.”

Aleppo and Ourfa are the assemblage-places for the convoys of exiles. There were about 5,000 of them in Aleppo during June and July, while during the whole period from April to July many more than 50,000 must have passed through the city. The girls were abducted almost without exception by the soldiers and their Arab hangers-on. One father, on the verge of despair, besought me to take with me at least his fifteen-year-old daughter, as he could no longer protect her from the persecutions inflicted upon her. The children left behind by the Armenians on their journey are past counting.

Women whose pains came upon them on the way had to continue their journey without respite. A woman bore twins in the neighbourhood of Aintab; next morning she had to go on again. She very soon had to leave the children under a bush, and a little while after she collapsed herself. Another, whose pains came upon her during the march, was compelled to go on at once and fell down dead almost immediately. There were several more incidents of the same kind between Marash and Aleppo[27].

The villagers of Shar were permitted to carry all their household effects with them. On the road they were suddenly told: “An order has come for us to leave the high road and travel across the mountains.” Everything—waggons, oxen and belongings—had to be left behind on the road, and then they went on over the mountains on foot. This year the heat has been exceptionally severe, and many women and children naturally succumbed to it even in these early stages of their journey.

There are about 30,000 exiles of whom we have no news at all, as they have arrived neither at Aleppo nor at Ourfa.>


27. “We have just picked up fifteen babies. Three are already dead. They were terribly thin and ailing when we found them. Ah! If we could only write all that we see.”—Extract from a letter dated Marash, 4th June, 1915, published in “Sonnenaufgang,” September, 1915.

27

13. STATEMENT MADE BY A FOREIGN RESIDENT AT CONSTANTINOPLE TO A SWISS GENTLEMAN AT GENEVA; COMMUNICATED BY THE LATTER.

When I left Turkey early in March (1916), the Armenian situation was as follows:—

In general deportations had ceased, but local interference with Armenians continued. Quite often Armenians who had remained in the villages or cities between the Taurus Mountains and Constantinople have been sent from one locality to another within the province, or even to localities in other provinces.

Arrests of Armenians in the Capital continue with considerable frequency. Those arrested were usually sent to some interior province, often to be killed or to be left to die from ill-treatment or lack of food.

Extortion of money and supplies from Armenians, and discriminations against them in the distribution of bread and other food supplies, continue out of all proportion to these practices as applied to other Ottoman subjects.

The suffering of all Armenians, and especially of those in exile, is very great, and many are dying from lack of proper food and from disease. Anti-Armenian feeling among Moslems is increasing.

Early in January of this year, trustworthy reports from Aleppo gave 492,000 as the number of deported Armenians who were at that time in the regions of Mosul, Der-el-Zor, Aleppo and Damascus[28]. Most of these are women and children and old men, practically all of whom are in great need of food and other necessities of life. Without physicians and medicine, disease is reaping a rich harvest from these exiles.

The Turkish Minister of the Interior has stated that about 800,000 Armenians have been deported, and that about 300,000 of these people have been killed or have perished from other causes. Other estimates place the number of deported at 1,200,000, and the number who have perished from all causes at 500,000.


28. See Doc. 139, d.

28

14. CABLEGRAM, DATED 4th MAY, 1916, TRANSMITTED THROUGH THE STATE DEPARTMENT AT WASHINGTON TO THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF, FROM THE COMMITTEE’S REPRESENTATIVES IN TURKEY.

Aleppo.

Relief work here supports 1,350 orphans, who are only a portion of the destitute children now in the city. It has also furnished food to families in nine destitute centres, including Hama, Rakka, Killis and Damascus. £1,500 (Turkish) monthly are being used at Aleppo for orphans; £600 (Turkish) are being used for the poor of Aleppo; £2,245 (Turkish) are being used in the destitute centres. This is considered to be a minimum allocation, and ten times the amount would not meet the full needs. The work is being overseen by the German and American Consuls. So insufficient are the funds that many exiles in the destitute places have only grass to eat, and they are dying of starvation by hundreds. £1,000 (Turkish) are required each week for the Aleppo centre.

Marash.

Ten thousand Armenians are threatened with deportation, and all are in a most needy condition. Attempted industrial assistance for Moslems and Christians was stopped by Government. Christians are not allowed to do any business, and the price of food is very high. Export from Agno to Marash has been forbidden, and many people are dying of starvation. £1,600 (Turkish) are needed here monthly.

Aintab.

Forty-five hundred Armenians remain here, two-thirds of whom are on relief lists. Four hundred refugee women and children in city and neighbourhood require £1,000 (Turkish) each month.

Tarsus.

This being a station on the route taken by the exiles from the region north of Tarsus, the roads are always full of people in miserable condition. According to Government estimates, 92,000 exiles have passed through Tarsus, while, according to other reports, the number is much larger. Typhus is very prevalent. The needs here require £500 (Turkish) a month.

Adana.

The situation here in general resembles that at Agno, with the special feature that many children need to be saved and fed. £500 (Turkish) monthly are needed.

Sivas.

In addition to the local Christian population remaining here, 25,000 destitute refugees, including women and children from coast cities, have been added. All need help. Monthly requirements amount to £600 (Turkish).

29Konia.

Two thousand orphans. £1,500 (Turkish) monthly required for the needs of this city and neighbouring places.

Harpout.

This place asks for £400 (Turkish) monthly.

Marsovan and Kaisaria.

£500 (Turkish) monthly are needed.

Smyrna.

There has been much sickness here and there is a scarcity of food. £400 (Turkish) monthly are needed.

Broussa.

£200 (Turkish) monthly are being used here.

30

II.
VILAYET OF VAN.

The Vilayet of Van had a higher percentage of Armenians in its population than any other province of the Ottoman Empire; it was also the border province of the north-eastern frontier, towards Russian and Persian territory, and as such was the earliest to be exposed to invasion after the breakdown of the Turkish offensive against the Caucasus in the winter of 1914-1915.

The documents contained in this section give a detailed and perfectly self-consistent account, from five independent sources, of those events at Van which led to the first open breach between the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and the Turks, and which gave the Government a pretext for extending the scheme of deportation already operative in Cilicia to the whole Armenian population under its jurisdiction.

The evidence makes it clear that there was no unprovoked insurrection of the Armenians at Van, as the Ottoman Government asserts in its official apologia. The Armenians only took up arms in self-defence, and the entire responsibility for the outbreak rests with Djevdet Bey, the local governor—whether he was acting on his own initiative or was simply carrying out instructions from Constantinople.

31

15. THE AMERICAN MISSION AT VAN: NARRATIVE PRINTED PRIVATELY IN THE UNITED STATES BY MISS GRACE HIGLEY KNAPP (1915).

The first part of this narrative, down to and including the sub-section headed “Deliverance,” has been transcribed almost word for word by Miss Knapp from a letter she wrote at Van, on the 24th May, 1915, to Dr. Barton, and has, therefore, all the value of contemporary evidence.

The period of the (first) Russian occupation of Van is also covered by two further letters from Miss Knapp to Dr. Barton—a long one written piece-meal on the 14th, 20th and 22nd June, and a second dated 20th July. These contain much more detail than the three corresponding sub-sections of her narrative, but the detail is principally devoted to personal matters and to the care of the Moslem refugees. As neither subject was strictly relevant to the purpose of the present collection, it seemed better to reprint the narrative rather than the letters in the case of these sections also.

There is also a letter (published in the Eleventh Report of the Women’s Armenian Relief Fund) from Miss Louie Bond to Mrs. Orpin, written on the 27th July, almost the eve of the evacuation; but this, too, is practically entirely devoted to personal matters.

For the period of the retreat there are no contemporary letters, but only an undated memorandum by Miss Knapp, which agrees word for word with the latter part of her present narrative, from the beginning of the section headed “Flight” to the end.

The Setting of the Drama and the Actors Therein.

Van was one of the most beautiful cities of Asiatic Turkey—a city of gardens and vineyards, situated on Lake Van in the centre of a plateau bordered by magnificent mountains. The walled city, containing the shops and most of the public buildings, was dominated by Castle Rock, a huge rock rising sheer from the plain, crowned with ancient battlements and fortifications, and bearing on its lakeward face famous cuneiform inscriptions. The Gardens, so-called because nearly every house had its garden or vineyard, extended over four miles eastward from the walled city and were about two miles in width.

The inhabitants numbered fifty thousand, three-fifths of whom were Armenians, two-fifths Turks. The Armenians were progressive and ambitious, and because of their numerical strength and the proximity of Russia the revolutionary party grew to be a force to be reckoned with. Three of its noted leaders were Vremyan, member of the Ottoman Parliament; Ishkhan, the one most skilled in military tactics; and Aram, of whom there will be much to say later. The Governor often consulted with these men and seemed to be on the most friendly terms with them.

The American Mission Compound was on the south-eastern border of the middle third of the Gardens, on a slight rise of ground that made its buildings somewhat conspicuous. These 32buildings were a church building, two large new school buildings, two small ones, a lace school, a hospital, dispensary and four missionary residences. South-east, and quite near, was a broad plain. Here was the largest Turkish barracks of the large garrison, between which and the American premises nothing intervened. North and nearer, but with streets and houses between, was another large barracks, and farther north, within rifle range, was Toprak-Kala Hill, surmounted by a small barracks dubbed by the Americans the “Pepper Box.” Five minutes’ walk to the east of us was the German Orphanage managed by Herr Spörri, his wife and daughter (of Swiss extraction) and three single ladies.

The American force in 1914-1915 consisted of the veteran missionary, Mrs. G.C. Raynolds (Dr. Raynolds had been in America a year and a half collecting funds for our Van college, and had been prevented from returning by the outbreak of war); Dr. Clarence D. Ussher, in charge of the hospital and medical work; Mrs. Ussher, in charge of a philanthropic lace industry; Mr. and Mrs. Ernest A. Yarrow, in charge of the Boys’ School and general work; Miss Gertrude Rogers, principal of the Girls’ School; Miss Caroline Silliman, in charge of the primary department, and two Armenian and one Turkish kindergarten; Miss Elizabeth Ussher, in charge of the musical department; Miss Louise Bond, the English superintendent of the hospital; and Miss Grisel McLaren, our touring missionary. Dr. Ussher and Mr. Yarrow had each four children; I was a visitor from Bitlis.

Between the Devil and the Deep Sea.

During the mobilization of the fall and winter the Armenians had been ruthlessly plundered under the name of requisitioning; rich men were ruined and the poor stripped. Armenian soldiers in the Turkish army were neglected, half starved, set to digging trenches and doing the menial work; but, worst of all, they were deprived of their arms and thus left at the mercy of their fanatical, age-long enemies, their Moslem fellow-soldiers. Small wonder that those who could find a loophole of escape or could pay for exemption from military duty did so; many of those who could do neither simply would not give themselves up. We felt that a day of reckoning would soon come—a collision between these opposing forces or a holy war. But the revolutionists conducted themselves with remarkable restraint and prudence; controlled their hot-headed youth; patrolled the streets to prevent skirmishes; and bade the villagers endure in silence—better a village or two burned unavenged than that any attempt at reprisals should furnish an excuse for massacre.

For some time after Djevdet Bey, a brother-in-law of Enver Pasha, minister of war, became Governor General of Van Vilayet, he was absent from the city fighting at the border. When he returned in the early spring, everyone felt there would soon be “something doing.” There was. He demanded from the 33Armenians 3,000 soldiers. So anxious were they to keep the peace that they promised to accede to this demand. But at this juncture trouble broke out between Armenians and Turks in the Shadakh region, and Djevdet Bey requested Ishkhan to go there as peace commissioner, accompanied by three other notable revolutionists. On their way there he had all four treacherously murdered. This was Friday, the 16th April. He then summoned Vremyan to him under the pretence of consulting with this leader, arrested him and sent him off to Constantinople.

The revolutionists now felt that they could not trust Djevdet Bey, the Vali, in any way and that therefore they could not give him the 3,000 men. They told him they would give 400 and pay by degrees the exemption tax for the rest. He would not accept the compromise. The Armenians begged Dr. Ussher and Mr. Yarrow to see Djevdet Bey and try to mollify him. The Vali was obdurate. He “must be obeyed.” He would put down this “rebellion” at all costs. He would first punish Shadakh, then attend to Van, but if the rebels fired one shot meanwhile he would put to death every man, woman and child of the Christians.

The fact cannot be too strongly emphasized that there was no “rebellion.” As already pointed out, the revolutionists meant to keep the peace if it lay in their power to do so. But for some time past a line of Turkish entrenchments had been secretly drawn round the Armenian quarter of the Gardens. The revolutionists, determined to sell their lives as dearly as possible, prepared a defensive line of entrenchments.

Djevdet Bey said he wished to send a guard of fifty soldiers to the American premises. This guard must be accepted or a written statement given him by the Americans to the effect that it had been offered and refused, so that he should be absolved from all responsibility for our safety. He wished for an immediate answer, but at last consented to wait till Sunday noon.

Our Armenian friends, most of them, agreed that the guard must be accepted. But the revolutionists declared that such a force in so central a location menaced the safety of the Armenian forces and that they would never permit it to reach our premises alive. We might have a guard of five. But Djevdet Bey would give us fifty or none. Truly we were between the devil and the deep sea, for, if both revolutionists and Vali kept their word, we should be the occasion for the outbreak of trouble, if the guard were sent; if it were not sent, we should have no official assurance of safety for the thousands who were already preparing to take refuge on our premises. We should be blamed for an unhappy outcome either way. On Monday, when Dr. Ussher saw the Vali again, he seemed to be wavering and asked if he should send the guard. Dr. Ussher left the decision with him, but added that the sending of such a force might precipitate trouble. It was never sent.

34Meanwhile Djevdet Bey had asked Miss McLaren and Schwester Martha, who had been nursing in the Turkish military hospital all winter, to continue their work there, and they had consented.

War! “Ishim Yok, Keifim Tchok.”

On Tuesday, the 20th April, at 6 a.m., some Turkish soldiers tried to seize one of a band of village women on their way to the city. She fled. Two Armenian soldiers came up and asked the Turks what they were doing. The Turkish soldiers fired on the Armenians, killing them. Thereupon the Turkish entrenchments opened fire. The siege had begun. There was a steady rifle firing all day, and from the walled city, now cut off from communication with the Gardens, was heard a continuous cannonading from Castle Rock upon the houses below. In the evening, houses were seen burning in every direction.

All the Armenians in the Gardens—nearly 30,000, as the Armenian population of the walled city is small—were now gathered into a district about a mile square, protected by eighty “teerks” (manned and barricaded houses) besides walls and trenches. The Armenian force consisted of 1,500 trained riflemen possessing only about 300 rifles. Their supply of ammunition was not great, so they were very sparing of it; used pistols only, when they could, and employed all sorts of devices to draw the fire of the enemy and waste their ammunition. They began to make bullets and cartridges, turning out 2,000 a day; also gunpowder, and after awhile they made three mortars for throwing bombs. The supply of material for the manufacture of these things was limited, and methods and implements were crude and primitive, but they were very happy and hopeful and exultant over their ability to keep the enemy at bay. Some of the rules for their men were: Keep clean; do not drink; tell the truth; do not curse the religion of the enemy. They sent a manifesto to the Turks to the effect that their quarrel was with one man and not with their Turkish neighbours. Valis might come and go, but the two races must continue to live together, and they hoped that after Djevdet went there might be peaceful and friendly relations between them. The Turks answered in the same spirit, saying that they were forced to fight. Indeed, a protest against this war was signed by many prominent Turks, but Djevdet would pay no attention to it.

The Armenians took and burned (the inmates, however, escaping) the barracks north of our premises, but apart from this they did not attempt the offensive to any extent—their numbers were too few. They were fighting for their homes, their very lives, and our sympathies could not but be wholly on their side, though we strove to keep our actions neutral. We allowed no armed men to enter the premises, and their leader, Aram, in order to help us to preserve the neutrality of our premises, forbade the bringing of wounded soldiers to our hospital, though Dr. Ussher treated them at their own temporary hospital. But 35Djevdet Bey wrote to Dr. Ussher on the 23rd that armed men had been seen entering our premises and that the rebels had prepared entrenchments near us. If, at the time of attack, one shot were fired from these entrenchments, he would be “regretfully compelled” to turn his cannon upon our premises and completely destroy them. We might know this for a surety. We answered that we were preserving the neutrality of our premises by every means in our power. By no law could we be held responsible for the actions of individuals or organisations outside our premises.

Our correspondence with the Vali was carried on through our official representative, Signor Sbordone, the Italian consular agent, and our postman was an old woman bearing a flag of truce. On her second journey she fell into a ditch and, rising without her white flag, was instantly shot dead by Turkish soldiers. Another was found, but she was wounded while sitting at the door of her shack on our premises. Then Aram said that he would permit no further correspondence until the Vali should answer a letter of Sbordone’s, in which the latter had told Djevdet that he had no right to expect the Armenians to surrender now, since the campaign had taken on the character of a massacre.

Djevdet would permit no communication with Miss McLaren at the Turkish hospital, and would answer no question of ours concerning her welfare, though after two weeks he wrote to Herr Spörri that she and Schwester Martha were well and comfortable. Dr. Ussher had known the Vali as a boy and had always been on the most friendly terms with him, but in a letter to the Austrian banker who had taken refuge on the German premises, the Vali wrote that one of his officers had taken some Russian prisoners and cannon and that he would cause them to parade in front of “His Majesty Dr. Ussher’s fortifications, so that he, who with the rebels was always awaiting the Russians, should see them and be content.” This letter ended with the words: “Ishim yok, keifim tchok” (“I have no work and much fun.”) While he was having no work and much fun, his soldiers and their wild allies, the Kurds, were sweeping the countryside, massacring men, women, and children and burning their homes. Babies were shot in their mothers’ arms, small children were horribly mutilated, women were stripped and beaten. The villages were not prepared for attack; many made no resistance; others resisted until their ammunition gave out. On Sunday, the 25th, the first band of village refugees came to the city. At early dawn we heard them knocking, knocking, knocking at our gate. Dr. Ussher went out in dressing gown and slippers to hear their pitiful tale and send the wounded to the hospital, where he worked over them all day.

The Mission’s First-aid to the Injured.

Six thousand people from the Gardens had early removed to our premises with all their worldly possessions, filling church and school buildings and every room that could possibly be spared in the missionary residences. One woman said to Miss Silliman: 36“What would we do without this place? This is the third massacre during which I have taken refuge here.” A large proportion of these people had to be fed, as they had been so poor that they had bought daily from the ovens what bread they had money for, and now that resource was cut off. Housing, sanitation, government, food, relation with the revolutionist forces, were problems that required great tact and executive ability. The Armenians were not able to cope with these problems unaided. They turned to the missionaries for help.

Mr. Yarrow has a splendid gift for organisation. He soon had everything in smoothly running order, with everyone hard at work at what he was best fitted to do. A regular city government for the whole city of thirty thousand inhabitants was organised with mayor, judges, and police—the town had never been so well policed before. Committees were formed to deal with every possible contingency. Grain was sold or contributed to the common fund by those who possessed it, most of whom manifested a generous and self-sacrificing spirit; one man gave all the wheat he possessed except a month’s supply for his family. The use of a public oven was secured, bread tickets issued, a soup kitchen opened, and daily rations were given out to those on our premises and those outside who needed food. Miss Rogers and Miss Silliman secured a daily supply of milk, and made some of their school-girls boil it and distribute it to babies who needed it, until 190 were being thus fed. The Boy Scouts, whom thirteen year-old Neville Ussher had helped organize in the fall, now did yeoman’s service in protecting the buildings against the dangers of fire, keeping the premises clean, carrying wounded on stretchers, reporting the sick, and, during the fourth week, distributing milk and eggs to babies and sick outside the premises.

Our hospital, which had a normal capacity of fifty beds, was made to accommodate one hundred and sixty-seven, beds being borrowed and placed on the floor in every available space. Such of the wounded as could walk or be brought to the hospital came regularly to have their wounds dressed. Many complicated operations were required to repair the mutilations inflicted by an unimaginable brutality and love of torture. Dr. Ussher, as the only physician and surgeon in the besieged city, had not only the care of the patients in his hospital, the treatment of the wounded refugees and of the wounded Armenian soldiers, but his dispensary and out-patients increased to an appalling number. Among the refugees exposure and privation brought in their train scores of cases of pneumonia and dysentery, and an epidemic of measles raged among the children. Miss Silliman took charge of a measles annex, Miss Rogers and Miss Ussher helped in the hospital, where Miss Bond and her Armenian nurses were worked to the limit of their strength, and after a while Mrs. Ussher, aided by Miss Rogers, opened an overflow hospital in an Armenian school-house, cleared of refugees for the purpose. Here it was a 37struggle to get beds, utensils, helpers, even food enough for the patients. Indeed all this extra medical and surgical work was hampered by insufficient medical and surgical supplies, for the annual shipment had been stalled at Alexandretta.

Dark Days.

At the end of two weeks the people in the walled city managed to send us word that they were holding their own and had taken some of the government buildings, though they were only a handful of fighters and were cannonaded day and night. About 16,000 cannon balls or shrapnel were fired upon them. The old-fashioned balls sunk into the three-feet thick walls of sun-dried brick without doing much harm. In time, of course, the walls would fall in, but they were the walls of upper stories. People took refuge in the lower stories, so only three persons lost their lives from this cause. Some of the “teerks” in the Gardens were also cannonaded without much damage being done. It seemed the enemy was reserving his heavier cannon and his shrapnel till the last. Three cannon balls fell on our premises the first week, one of them on a porch of the Usshers’ house. Thirteen persons were wounded by bullets on the premises, one fatally. Our premises were so centrally located that the bullets of the Turks kept whizzing through, entered several rooms, broke the tiles on the roofs, and peppered the outside of the walls. We became so used to the pop-pop-pop of rifles and booming of cannon that we paid little attention to them in the daytime, but the fierce fusillades at night were rather nerve-racking.

A man escaping from Ardjish related the fate of that town, second in size and importance to Van in the vilayet. The kaimakam had called the men of all the guilds together on the 19th April, and, as he had always been friendly to the Armenians, they trusted him. When they had all gathered, he had them mown down by his soldiers.

Many of the village refugees had stopped short of the city at the little village of Shushantz, on a mountain side near the city. Here Aram bade them remain. On the 8th May we saw the place in flames, and Varak Monastery near by, with its priceless ancient manuscripts, also went up in smoke. These villagers now flocked into the city. Djevdet seemed to have altered his tactics. He had women and children driven in by hundreds to help starve the city out. Owing to the mobilisation of the previous fall, the supply of wheat in the Gardens had been very much less than usual to begin with, and now that 10,000 refugees were being given a daily ration, though a ration barely sufficient to sustain life, this supply was rapidly approaching its limit. The ammunition was also giving out. Djevdet could bring in plenty of men and ammunition from other cities. Unless help came from Russia, it was impossible for the city to hold out much longer against him, and the hope of such help seemed very faint. 38We had no communication with the outside world; a telegram we had prepared to send to our embassy before the siege never left the city; the revolutionists were constantly sending out appeals for help to the Russo-Armenian volunteers on the border, but no word or sign of their reaching their destination was received by us. At the very last, when the Turks should come to close quarters, we knew that all the population of the besieged city would crowd into our premises as a last hope. But, enraged as Djevdet was by this unexpected and prolonged resistance, was it to be hoped that he could be persuaded to spare the lives of one of these men, women and children? We believed not. He might offer the Americans personal safety if we would leave the premises, but this, of course, we would not do; we would share the fate of our people. And it seemed not at all improbable that he would not even offer us safety, believing, as he seemed to believe, that we were aiding and upholding the “rebels.”

Those were dark days indeed. Our little American circle came together two evenings in the week to discuss the problems constantly arising. We would joke and laugh over some aspects of our situation, but as we listened to the volley firing only two blocks away, we knew that at any hour the heroic but weakening defence might be overpowered; knew that then hell would be let loose in the crowded city and our crowded compound; knew that we should witness unspeakable atrocities perpetrated on the persons of those we loved, and probably suffer them in our own persons. And we would sing:

“Peace, perfect peace; the future all unknown!
Jesus we know and He is on the throne,”

and pray to the God who was able to deliver us out of the very mouth of the lion.

On Saturday forenoon a rift seemed to appear in the clouds, for many ships were seen on the lake, sailing away from Van, and we heard that they contained Turkish women and children. We became a “city all gone up to the housetops,” wondering and surmising. Once before such a flight had taken place, when the Russians had advanced as far as Sarai. They had retreated, however, and the Turkish families had returned.

That afternoon the sky darkened again. Cannon at the Big Barracks on the plain began to fire in our direction. At first we could not believe that the shots were aimed at our flag, but no doubt was permitted us on that point. Seven shells fell on the premises, one on the roof of Miss Rogers’ and Miss Silliman’s house, making a big hole in it; two others did the same thing on the boys’-school and girls’-school roofs. On Sunday morning the bombardment began again. Twenty-six shells fell on the premises before noon.

When the heavy firing began Dr. Ussher was visiting patients outside and Mrs. Ussher was also away from home at her overflow hospital, so I ran over from our own hospital to take their children 39to the safest part of the house, a narrow hall on the first-floor. There we listened to the shrieking of the shrapnel and awaited the bursting of each shell. A deafening explosion shook the house. I ran up to my room to find it so full of dust and smoke that I could not see a foot before me. A shell had come through the three-feet-thick outside wall, burst, scattering its contained bullets, and its cap had passed through a partition wall into the next room and broken a door opposite. A shell entered a room in Mrs. Raynold’s house, killing a little Armenian girl. Ten more shells fell in the afternoon. Djevdet was fulfilling his threat of bombarding our premises, and this proved to us that we could hope for no mercy at his hands when he should take the city.[29]

Deliverance.

In this darkest hour of all came deliverance. A lull followed the cannonading. Then at sunset a letter came from the occupants of the only Armenian house within the Turkish lines which had been spared (this because Djevdet had lived in it when a boy) which gave the information that the Turks had left the city. The barracks on the summit and at the foot of Toprak-Kala were found to contain so small a guard that it was easily overpowered, and these buildings were burned amidst the wildest excitement. So with all the Turkish “teerks,” which were visited in turn. The Big Barracks was next seen to disgorge its garrison, a large company of horsemen who rode away over the hills, and that building, too, was burned after midnight. Large stores of wheat and ammunition were found. It all reminded one of the seventh chapter of II. Kings.

The whole city was awake, singing and rejoicing all night. In the morning its inhabitants could go whither they would unafraid. And now came the first check to our rejoicing. Miss McLaren was gone! She and Schwester Martha had been sent with the patients of the Turkish hospital four days before to Bitlis.

Mr. Yarrow went to the hospital. He found there twenty-five wounded soldiers too sick to travel, left there without food or water for five days. He found unburied dead. He stayed all day in the horrible place, that his presence might protect the terrified creatures until he could secure their removal to our hospital.

40On Wednesday, the 19th May, the Russians and Russo-Armenian volunteers came into the city. It had been the knowledge of their approach that had caused the Turks to flee. Some hard fighting had to be done in the villages, however, before Djevdet and his reinforcements were driven out of the province. Troops poured into the city from Russia and Persia and passed on towards Bitlis.

Aram was made temporary governor of the province, and, for the first time for centuries, Armenians were given a chance to govern themselves. Business revived. People began to rebuild their burned houses and shops. We re-opened our mission schools, except the school in the walled city, the school-house there having been burned.

The Tables Turned.

Not all the Turks had fled from the city. Some old men and women and children had stayed behind, many of them in hiding. The Armenian soldiers, unlike Turks, were not making war on such. There was only one place where the captives could be safe from the rabble, however. In their dilemma the Armenians turned, as usual, to the American missionaries. And so it came to pass that hardly had the six thousand Armenian refugees left our premises when the care of a thousand Turkish refugees was thrust upon us, some of them from villages the Russo-Armenian volunteers were “cleaning out.”

It was with the greatest difficulty that food could be procured for these people. The city had an army to feed now. Wheat—the stores left by the Turks—was obtainable, but no flour, and the use of a mill was not available for some time. The missionaries had no help in a task so distasteful to the Armenians except that of two or three of the teachers of the school in the walled city, who now had no other work. Mr. Yarrow was obliged to drop most of his other duties and spend practically all his time working for our protégésprotégés. Mrs. Yarrow, Miss Rogers and Miss Silliman administered medicines and tried to give every one of the poor creatures a bath. Mrs. Ussher had bedding made, and secured and personally dispensed milk to the children and sick, spending several hours daily among them.

The wild Cossacks considered the Turkish women legitimate prey, and though the Russian General gave us a small guard, there was seldom a night during the first two or three weeks in which Dr. Ussher and Mr. Yarrow did not have to drive off marauders who had climbed over the walls of the compound and eluded the guard.

The effect on its followers of the religion of Islam was never more strongly contrasted with Christianity. While the Armenian refugees had been mutually helpful and self-sacrificing, these Moslems showed themselves absolutely selfish, callous and indifferent to each other’s suffering. Where the Armenians had 41been cheery and hopeful, and had clung to life with wonderful vitality, the Moslems, with no faith in God and no hope of a future life, bereft now of hope in this life, died like flies of the prevailing dysentery from lack of stamina and the will to live.

The situation became intolerable. The missionaries begged the Russian General to send these people out to villages, with a guard sufficient for safety and flocks to maintain them until they could begin to get their living from the soil. He was too much occupied with other matters to attend to us.

After six weeks of this, Countess Alexandra Tolstoi (daughter of the famous novelist) came to Van and took off our hands the care of our “guests,” though they remained on our premises. She was a young woman, simple, sensible, and lovable. We gave her a surprise party on her birthday, carrying her the traditional cake with candles and crowning her with flowers, and she declared she had never had a birthday so delightfully celebrated in all her life. She worked hard for her charges. When her funds gave out and no more were forthcoming and her Russian helpers fell ill, she succeeded where we had failed and induced the General to send the Turks out into the country with provision for their safety and sustenance.

The Pestilence that Walketh in Darkness.

Our Turkish refugees cost us a fearful price.

The last day of June Mrs. Ussher took her children, who had whooping cough, out of the pestilential atmosphere of the city to Artamid, the summer home on Lake Van, nine miles away. Dr. Ussher went there for the week-end, desperately in need of a little rest. On Saturday night they both became very ill. Upon hearing of this I went down to take care of them. On Monday Mr. and Mrs. Yarrow also fell ill. Ten days yet remained till the time set for closing the hospital for the summer, but Miss Bond set her nurses to the task of sending the patients away and went over to nurse the Yarrows. This left me without help for five days. Then, for four days more, two Armenian nurses cared for the sick ones at night and an untrained man nurse helped me during the daytime. Miss Rogers had come down on Thursday, the day after commencement, for the cure of what she believed to be an attack of malaria. On Friday she too fell ill. Fortunately, there was at last a really good Russian physician in town, and he was most faithful in his attendance. The sickness proved to be typhus. Later we learned that at about the same time Miss Silliman, who had left for America on her furlough on the 15th June, accompanied by Neville Ussher, had been ill at Tiflis with what we now know was a mild form of the same disease. Dr. Ussher might have contracted it from his outside patients, but the others undoubtedly contracted it from the Turkish refugees.

Mrs. Yarrow was dangerously ill, but passed her crisis safely and first of all. Miss Bond then came to Artamid, though Mr. Yarrow was still very ill, feeling that the Usshers needed her more 42on account of their distance from the doctor. Miss Ussher took charge of the Yarrow children up in Van; Mrs. Raynolds managed the business affairs of the mission.

Mrs. Ussher had a very severe form of the disease, and her delicate frame, worn out with the overwork and terrible strain of the months past, could make no resistance. On the 14th July she entered into the life eternal.

We dared not let the sick ones suspect what had happened. Dr. Ussher was too ill at the time and for more than two weeks longer to be told of his terrible loss. For three months preceding his illness he had been the only physician in Van, and the strain of over-work and sleeplessness told severely now. After he had passed his typhus crisis, his life was in danger for a week longer from the pneumonia which had been a complication from the first. Then followed another not infrequent complication of typhus, an abscess in the parotid gland which caused long-continued weakness and suffering, at one time threatened life and reason, and has had serious consequences which may prove permanent. Mr. Yarrow was so ill that his life was quite despaired of. It was by a veritable miracle that he was restored to us.

Flight.

Meanwhile the Russian army had been slowly advancing westward. It had not been uniformly successful as we had expected it to be. Indeed, the Russians seemed to fight sluggishly and unenthusiastically. The Russo-Armenian volunteers, who were always sent ahead of the main army, did the heavy fighting. By the last week of July the Russians had not yet taken Bitlis, only ninety miles distant from Van. Suddenly the Turkish army began to advance towards Van, and the Russian army to retreat.

On Friday, the 30th July, General Nicolaieff ordered all the Armenians of the Van province, also the Americans and other foreigners, to flee for their lives. By Saturday night the city was nearly emptied of Armenians and quite emptied of conveyances. Nearly all our teachers, nurses, employees had left. It was every man for himself and no one to help us secure carriages or horses for our own flight. We at Artamid, with a sick man to provide for, would have had great difficulty in getting up to the city in time, had not Mrs. Yarrow risen from her sick-bed to go to the General and beg him to send us ambulances. These reached us after midnight.

There was little question in our minds as to our own flight. Our experience during the siege had shown us that the fact of our being Americans would not protect us from the Turks. Had not our two men, Mr. Yarrow and Dr. Ussher, been absolutely helpless we might have debated the matter. As it was, we women could not assume the responsibility of staying and keeping them there, and even if we had stayed we could have found no means to live in a deserted city.

43We were fifteen Americans and had ten Armenian dependents—women and children—to provide for. The head nurse of the hospital, Garabed, plucky and loyal little fellow that he was, had sent on his mother and wife and had remained behind to help us get out of the country. Dr. Ussher’s man-cook, having been with us at Artamid when the panic began, had been unable to secure conveyance for his sick wife. We greatly needed his help on the journey, but this involved our providing for a third sick person. We had three horses, an American grocer’s delivery cart, really not strong enough for heavy work on rough and mountainous roads, and a small cart that would seat three. Our two other carts were not usable.

We begged the General to give us ambulances. He absolutely refused—he had none to spare. But, he added, he was to be replaced in a day or two by General Trokin; we could appeal to him when he came; the danger was not immediate. Somewhat reassured and not knowing how we could manage without help from the Russians, we made no effort to leave that day. But the next day, Monday, we heard that the volunteers who were trying to keep the road open to Russia would not be able to do so much longer—there was no time to lose. We set to work.

One of our teachers who had not succeeded in getting away before Monday morning, kindly took a small bag of clothing on his ox-cart for each of us. We spread the quilts and blankets we should need on the way on the bottom of the delivery cart, intending to lay our three sick people on these. Garabed, who had never driven a team in his life, must drive two of our horses in this cart. Mrs. Raynolds would drive the third horse harnessed to the small cart, and take the babies and what food there was possibly room for; no provisions could be bought on the way. The rest of us must walk, though Mrs. Yarrow and Miss Rogers were newly risen from a sick bed and the children were all under twelve. We put loads on the cows we must take with us for the sake of the babies and the patients. But the cows were refractory; they kicked off the loads and ran wildly about the yard, tails up, heads down, whereupon the single horse broke loose and “also ran,” smashing the small cart.

At this moment, the “psychological moment,” two doctors of the Russian Red Cross rode into our yard. Seeing our plight they turned and rode out again. They returned a little later and on their own responsibility promised to take us with the Red Cross caravan. Thank the Lord!

We now put our loads on the delivery cart; put the wheels of the smashed cart on the body of a wheelless cart, and now that we might take a little more with us than food and bedding, packed in bags what we felt to be absolutely necessary. What we left behind we should never see again; we felt certain that the Russian soldiers before they left would loot our houses and perhaps burn them to forestall the Turks.

44The Red Cross provided us with two ambulances with horses and drivers, and a stretcher carried between two horses for Dr. Ussher. He was usually taken into one of their sick tents when we camped at night; most of the rest of us slept on the ground in the open.

We left on Tuesday, the 3rd August. The Russians appeared to have received news that made them very uneasy, and, indeed, General Trokin himself left Van that very afternoon, as we learned later. The next day at sundown we heard the firing between the Kurds and the volunteers who were so gallantly trying to keep them at bay, to keep the road to Russia open as long as possible. It sounded startlingly near. We travelled till two a.m. that night in order to reach Bergri, where we should be, not safe, but beyond the line along which the Turks would try to intercept travellers. We were just in time. General Trokin’s party, that had left Van only a few hours later than we, were unable to reach Bergri, and had to return and get out by the longer route through Persia. Had we with our slower rate of travel been obliged to do this, we might not have been able to get out at all.

The Arrow that Flieth by Day.

That afternoon—Thursday afternoon—we forded a wide and deep river, then entered a narrow valley, from the mountains commanding which Kurds suddenly began to fire down on the Red Cross caravan and the thousands of foot travellers. One man in an ambulance was killed, others wounded. The drivers of ambulances and litters whipped up their horses to a mad gallop. It was a race for life. The sight of those gasping, terror-stricken thousands was one never to be forgotten. The teacher who had taken our bags of clothing threw everything off his ox-cart in order to escape with his life. The Armenians on our long wagon threw off much of the luggage to lighten it, and thus we lost most of what we had brought with us.

Once out of the valley we were comparatively safe. We met a force of volunteers and Cossacks who entered the valley to engage with the Kurds. Mrs. Raynolds had been riding in the small cart. After the danger was over, while getting out of the cart, she fell and broke her leg below the knee. The Red Cross physicians set it at once, but she suffered greatly during the remainder of the journey over the rough roads, though lying at full length in one of our ambulances. She was quite helpless. Mr. Yarrow lay, too, in his ambulance, which he was unable to leave day or night during the journey, except when he was carried into a Red Cross tent on Sunday.

On Friday all but the four helpless ones and the babies walked over Mt. Taparez. On Saturday we again climbed on foot a high mountain, from sundown till three o’clock the next morning. The caravan rested on Sunday at a Red Cross camp near the top of Tchingli Mt. at the foot of Mt. Ararat. Here Dr. Ussher had two 45severe operations on his face without anæsthetics. On Monday at sunset we reached Igdir. Dr. Ussher was taken to a military hospital for officers, and the military sent him on to Tiflis on Thursday. We could not secure carriages until Wednesday morning to take us to the railway station at Etchmiadzin. We arrived in Tiflis the next morning.

Safe!—But Sorrowing.

Most of us had lost nearly everything but the clothes we stood in, and these we had worn day and night during the ten days’ journey. Small wonder that the first hotel we went to had “no rooms.” Mr. Smith, the American Consul, was most kind and did everything he could for us. He secured a room in a private hospital for Mrs. Raynolds and a bed in the city hospital for Dr. Ussher.

Dr. Ussher was again brought to death’s door by very severe dysentery contracted on the road. He had become a nervous and physical wreck and in appearance the ghost of himself.

Dysentery was epidemic among the scores of thousands of refugees from Van Province who had crowded into Transcaucasia. The very air seemed poisoned; our children were all ill, and it seemed to us that they would not get well until we could leave Tiflis.

Mrs. Raynolds’ broken bone refused to knit. She seemed also to be suffering from a collapse of her whole system. She would lie there patient, indifferent to what was going on about her, sunk in memories of the past, perhaps—who can say?

On the 24th August we were astounded at receiving a telegram from Dr. Raynolds. We had not heard of his leaving America and here he was at Petrograd! It seems he had started for Van as soon as he had heard of the Russian occupation, in company with Mr. Henry White, who was to teach in our college. At Petrograd he learned from the ambassador that the Van missionaries were in Tiflis, but of the reason therefor he had heard not a word, nor had he heard of his wife’s condition.

Mrs. Raynolds brightened for a moment when told that her husband was on the way to her. Then the things of earth seemed to slip away from her; she might not tarry even for the dear one’s coming. On Friday, the 27th August, her tired spirit found rest. Two days later Dr. Raynolds arrived to find wife gone, house gone, the work of his lifetime seemingly in ruins, the people he had loved exiles and destitute.

On Tuesday Mrs. Raynolds was laid to rest in the German Lutheran cemetery, and around her were gathered many of those whom she had lived to serve.

Then Dr. Raynolds and Mr. White decided that there was nothing left for them to do but return with us to America, and we left that week for Petrograd. There the American managers of what corresponds to our Y.M.C.A. were exceedingly kind and 46helpful. The city was so full of refugees from Poland that we had to sleep on tables in the Association halls the first night, but succeeded in securing rooms the next day. The children recovered, and Dr. Ussher’s improvement in health from the time of our arrival in Petrograd was simply wonderful. Mr. Yarrow seemed now quite himself again, although in reality he had not fully regained his strength.

Travelling up by rail round the Gulf of Bothnia, we spent a few days in Stockholm and sailed from Christiania on the 24th September, on the Danish ship “Hellig Olav.”

We had had absolutely no news from any station in Turkey since the middle of April, and from America only what information Dr. Raynolds had brought us. On our arrival in New York, on the 5th October, we heard of the massacre of the Armenians in Bitlis by Djevdet Bey as soon as he had reached there after having been driven from Van. We heard of Miss Ely’s death there in July, and of my brother’s death, on the 10th August, in Diyarbekir[30]; we heard that Miss McLaren was ill with typhus in Bitlis, and later that she was well; we learned of the massacre of Armenians all over Turkey and of their deportation. The Van refugees have been fortunate by comparison in that they could flee. Money for their relief has been sent to Transcaucasia; a few of them have succeeded in securing passports and getting to America.


29. The shelling of the mission buildings is also described by Mr. Yarrow, in an interview published in the New York “Times” 6th October, 1915, the day after his arrival in America:

“For twenty-seven days 1,500 determined Armenians held Van against 5,000 Turks and Kurds, and for the last three days they were shelled with shrapnel from a howitzer brought up by a Turkish company headed by a German officer. I myself saw him directing the fire of the gun.

“Two days before the Russians came to Van, the Turks deliberately fired at the mission buildings. They stood out prominently and could not be mistaken, and also flew five American flags and one Red Cross flag as a protection. The firing was so accurate that the shots cut the signal halyards and brought the flags to the ground.”

30. See Doc. 23, page 89.

47

16. VAN: LETTER DATED VAN, 7th JUNE, 1915, FROM MR. Y.K. RUSHDOUNI; PUBLISHED IN THE “MANCHESTER GUARDIAN,” 2nd AUGUST, 1915.

The day after Germany’s declaration of war on Russia, martial law was proclaimed in Van, and the Turkish Government set about the work of mobilisation. The Armenians responded to the call in a better mood than the Moslems, many of whom either ran away or did not present themselves for service. But from the very beginning the authorities adopted a harsh attitude towards the Armenians in the Vilayet. Under the pretence of requisitioning, they ruthlessly plundered and looted the Armenians. Business was brought to an absolute standstill, and the import and sale of wheat in the city was forbidden on the plea that it was needed to provision the armies—though ways and means were always found if the applicant was a Moslem. As for the Armenian soldiers in the Turkish army, they were neglected, half-starved, set to do all the menial work, and, worst of all, disarmed and left over to the mercies of their Moslem comrades, who managed to kill a few hundreds altogether in various parts. It became evident that the Government was bent on the systematic destruction of the Armenian population. A feeling of despondency seized hold of all.

When Turkey went into the war the distress of the people reached an even higher pitch, especially when the Government armed all the males of the Moslem population between the ages of 15 and 60 and gave up Christian villages to fire and sword at the slightest pretext. Pelou, the largest village of the Kavash district, was reduced to a heap of ruins. Twelve villages in the Gargar district, on the Persian frontier, Bashkala, and Sarai, with the Nestorian and Armenian villages round, were ruthlessly wiped out after the Russian retreat[31], and of their population only a few old crippled women were left as survivors. News of this sort was constantly being brought to the town by refugees from distant places like Boghaz-Kessen, Hazaren, Nordoz, &c. This pouring in of the refugees aggravated the problem of living in the city of Van.

On the other hand, the three leaders of the former Revolutionary Party called Dashnagists, who since the proclamation of the Constitution had been changed into a political party and had come to an understanding with the Young Turks, exhorted the people to endure in silence. Better, they said, that some villages be burned and destroyed unavenged than give the slightest pretext to the Moslems for a general massacre. One of the first villages to defend itself was Bairak, whose inhabitants succeeded in keeping the soldiers and Kurdish mob from entering the village. The Turkish Government sent a peace commission composed of Armenians and Turks to quiet down matters there, which was done. 48At the same time a message was sent to the Governor-General, Djevdet Bey, a brother-in-law of Enver Pasha, then on the border, to come to Van. Djevdet Bey, on his arrival, demanded 4,000[32] soldiers from the Armenians. The Armenians were so anxious to keep the peace that they promised to accede to this demand under an altered form approved by the Government. But at this juncture trouble broke out between Armenians and Turks in the Shadakh region. Some say that this was started at the instigation of Djevdet Bey. This Governor had requested Ishkan, one of the three Dashnagist leaders, to go there as peace commissioner, accompanied by three other notable Armenians. On their way there, however, on Friday, the 16th April, all four were treacherously murdered.

The Armenians now felt that they could not trust the Governor, and, instead of giving him the 4,000 men, they told him they would give 400 and pay the exemption tax for the rest, in instalments. In the meantime they asked the American missionaries, Dr. Ussher and Mr. Yarrow, and the Italian agent Signor Sbordone, to try to mollify the Governor. The attitude of the Governor was wavering. At times he would be moderate and swear that peace would be kept. At other times he was harsh and irreconcilable, declaring that he intended to put down “rebellion” at all costs. First he would punish Shadakh, then he would attend to Van; if the rebels fired one shot it would be a signal for him to attack, and neither Turks nor Armenians would be left in the Vilayet.[33]

Things continued in this suspense till the 20th[34] April, when some Turkish soldiers tried to seize some village women on their way to the city. The women fled. Two Armenians came up and asked the Turks what they were doing. The Turkish soldiers fired on the Armenians and killed them. This served as a signal. The booming of cannons and rattle of rifles began from every side, and it was realised that the Armenian quarter was besieged. In the evening houses in the Armenian quarter could be seen burning in every direction. The Governor-General had sworn that not a single house should be left in Van, except the one where his father had lived as Governor-General. Under the command of Armenag Yegarian, of the Ramgavar Party, the Armenians, nearly 30,000 in number now, began to man and barricade houses and open trenches. Eighty such barricaded positions, called in Armenian “teerks,” were held by the Armenians, and the enclosed area of about two square miles was gradually connected in between by 49deep trenches. To assure regularity, a Provisional Government was set up, and a military court was appointed to deal with military affairs. Everyone capable of doing something, male or female, young or old, was set to work. Women and girls were busy cooking, mending, sewing, making bedding for homeless refugees and soldiers, and nursing wounded people and motherless children. About 1,300[35] young men were under arms day and night trying to hold the enemy at bay. Lads were employed as messengers between the “teerks.” The rest of the men were used as workmen to dig trenches and build new walls and barricades, as the old ones crumbled before the cannon-fire. About 16,000 cannon-shots were fired at the handful of inhabitants in the old city under the Castle Rock.

After some days, refugees began to pour in from near and far.[36] The Government had not succeeded in besieging the eastern side of the Armenian quarter, and it was still possible to enter the city. On the 16th May no less than 12,000 bread-tickets were issued to refugees. At the same time, owing to privation and exposure, an epidemic of measles broke out among the children, and dysentery and pneumonia among the adults, and many who had escaped the sword of the Moslem fell victims to disease.

As the supply of ammunition was very meagre and the intention of the Armenians was to prolong their defence till help might come from Armenian volunteers, they were very sparing in its use. They used pistols when they could, and employed all kinds of devices to draw the fire of the enemy and waste his ammunition. At the same time they began to devise means of making bullets and cartridges, and manufacturing smokeless gunpowder and bombs, and succeeded in turning out daily 4,000[37] cartridges, and even in making three mortars for throwing bombs and bursting shells. In the meantime the Provisional Government issued strict orders for keeping the neutrality of foreign institutions and premises, forbidding armed men to pass through these parts or carry the wounded Armenian soldiers to the American Mission Hospital. A manifesto was also sent to the Turks to the effect that the quarrel was with one man, Djevdet Bey, not with their Turkish neighbours. Governors come and go, but the two races must continue to live together. Gradually, however, the 50Armenians succeeded in ousting the Turks from their positions. On the 17th May, after nearly four weeks’ resistance, it became obvious that the enemy was putting forward his last efforts.

At sunset a daring dash put to flight the remaining Turkish soldiers in the two northern barracks on Toprak-Kalé Hill and below. These two barracks were at once burnt. About midnight another attack put the southern great barracks in Armenian hands, and these, too, were set on fire. Towards morning the news spread that the Turks and soldiers had left the city. It was understood that the Government, on hearing of the approach of the Russian army and the Armenian volunteers, had ordered a systematic retreat some days before, and the last regiment, with the Governor, had evacuated the town on the night of the 18th May. Immediately hungry and starved people rushed toward the Turkish quarters to satisfy their feelings of justice by plundering and burning. Shortly after, news came that the Russian army, with Armenian volunteers, was in sight. The joy of the people was boundless; tears of gladness and of emotion for what they had suffered during the past month, rolled down their cheeks as they made them welcome. The keys of the captured city and of the castle were immediately taken and laid at the feet of the Russian General, who gave orders to the Armenians to organise a Provisional Government for the affairs of the town.


31. The Russians had made a preliminary incursion over the border after the Turkish declaration of war.—Editor.

32. Miss Knapp gives the number as 3,000 (Doc. 15.

33. Miss Knapp makes the following observation at this point:—

“The fact cannot be too strongly emphasised that there was no ‘rebellion.’ As already pointed out, the Revolutionists meant to keep the peace if it lay in their power to do so. But for some time past a line of Turkish entrenchments had been secretly drawn round the Armenian quarter of the Gardens. The Revolutionists, determined to sell their lives as dearly as possible, prepared a defensive line of entrenchments.”

34. At 6.0 a.m. (Miss Knapp).

35. “About 1,500 trained riflemen possessing only about 300 rifles.” (Miss Knapp).

36. “A man escaping from Ardjish related the fate of that town, second in size and importance to Van in the Vilayet. The Kaimakam had called the men of all the guilds together on the 19th April, and as he had always been friendly to the Armenians they trusted him. When they had all gathered, he had them mown down by his soldiers. Many of the village refugees had stopped short of the city, at the little village of Shushantz, on the mountain side near the city. Here Aram bade them remain. On the 8th May, we saw the place in flames, and Varak Monastery near by, with its priceless ancient manuscripts, also went up in smoke. These villagers now flocked into the city.” (Miss Knapp).

37. 2,000. (Miss Knapp).

51

17. VAN: NARRATIVE BY MR. Y.K. RUSHDOUNI, PUBLISHED SERIALLY IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL “GOTCHNAG,” OF NEW YORK.

Van is a city built on a level plain, and has at the present time an area of about ten or twelve square miles.

The Old City is small (scarcely a single square mile in area); its centre is the market place and an ancient rock fortress. The real Van is the Aikesdan (the Vineyards), which rises slowly towards the East on an imposing scale. In Aikesdan each house, with few exceptions, has a vineyard and a garden. Its streets are broad and tree-lined. On each side of these trees run small rivulets, which are bordered by rows of willow and poplar trees. Van is in reality a beautiful, extensive and attractive garden. On its western side, about two or three miles distant, there stretches the beautiful blue lake of Van, surrounded by high, snow-clad mountains, the most prominent of which are Sipan, Nimroud, Kerkour and Azadk.

On the eastern side of Van rise the mountains of Varak, on the slopes of which stand the village of Shoushantz (named after Shoushanig, the daughter of Sennacherib), and also the famous monastery of Varak, with its seven altars, where Khrimean Hairik published his “Ardsouig Vaspouragani” (“The Eagle of Vaspouragan”). On the slopes of these mountains are also found the monasteries of Garmeror and St. Gregory, the chapel of St. Lousavorich (The Illuminator), and Gatnaghpur, Khachaghpur, Salnabad and Abaranchan, fountains of historical fame. There are also the Upper Varak villages—the historic summer resorts of Sultan Yailassi and Keshish Göl.

On the north side of Van there is the ancient and famous Toprak-Kalé (Earthern Fort). Again in the same direction are the villages of Shahbagh and Araless, behind which extends the district of Van-Dosb.

On the southern side of the city, beyond the hills of Artamid, one reaches the Valley of Haig; Vostan, the capital of Rushdounik; and the mountains of Ardosr, with the tomb of Yeghishé on their slopes.

The Armenian and the Turkish quarters in Van were divided, and, except for a few streets, were all at some distance from each other. These two elements in the population had no relations with each other except those of a commercial nature. The Market and the Old City were in the hands of the Armenians, but were surrounded by Turkish quarters. There were Armenian houses which were eight miles away from the market-place, and to go there and back it was necessary to pass through the Turkish quarters. The Armenians covered this distance on foot, horseback or spring-wagons—these being the only means of transportation.

The day after war had been declared by Germany against Russia, Turkey declared a “state of war” in Van, and called 52all the young men between 21 and 45 to the colours, without distinction of race or religion. For the needs of the Army the Government requisitioned all the goods and provisions in the Market. In some cases they made partial payments, but afterwards they gave promissory notes to all the owners, which were payable after the war. This was a heavy loss to the Armenians, as the whole Market was practically in their hands. They lost all their petroleum, sugar, raisins, soap, copper, European clothing and various other commodities, besides almost half their remaining goods.

Owing to the sudden declaration of war and the requisitioning of the Market, it was impossible for the Armenians to transfer their goods elsewhere or to hide them, especially as the Market was an hour-and-a-half’s distance from the Armenian quarters of Aikesdan.

All the tradesmen, shopkeepers, farmers and men of all vocations immediately answered the call to arms. A crowd gathered in front of the Government Building in such a way that it was impossible to keep order. There were some people who waited for three days continuously, from morning till night, and were unable to get a chance to register their names. The Dashnakist party encouraged the Armenians to do their duty faithfully as citizens. Mr. Aram, one of their leaders, collected together 350 to 400 fine young men, and, to the accompaniment of Turkish music, songs and dances, led them to the Government Building to register. The Government officials were considerably surprised at this willingness on the part of the Armenians; they held them up as an example in upbraiding the Turks, and particularly the Kurds, who had answered the call very reluctantly.

The Government treated the Armenians very liberally, exempting all the Gregorian and Protestant teachers of 25 years of age, and allowing them to continue their schools, on the condition that they would all go to the Government Building and register, so that in case of necessity they might be called up as militia for the protection of the City.

During the first two weeks this impartial treatment by the Turkish Government filled the Armenians with gladness and trust, and the Armenian soldiers that had deserted returned and gave themselves up. The only thing which gave rise to anxiety was the financial crisis. Trade and farming had completely stopped. The merchants were robbed, and all the traders were in the hands of the Government. It was the time to prepare for the annual taking of stock, but there were no available means.

Under the pretence of supplying the needs of the Army, the Government confiscated all the provisions. This was the first symptom of injustice and partiality. The understanding was that every man would be entitled to buy a certain amount of food and wood after informing the Government of the number and needs of his family, and after obtaining permission from them, 53and that every month those families whose men were on active service would receive 30 piastres (5s.) per head.

At this time the Armenians’ claims were very often ignored; and because the Government was aware that the Armenians would not, whatever happened, go hungry and without clothing or wood for fuel, it collected from all the Armenian quarters and villages, in the form of a heavy tax, a certain quantity of wheat, wood, sheep, fat, and clothing. In addition the majority of the Armenian and Syrian soldiers were left without arms and clothing, and very often without anything to eat, under the pretence that the clothing and the arms were not yet ready, and that they had no means of transporting food in so short a time. This caused the desertion of many from the Army, and some remained away altogether. Others borrowed money and asked the Government, through influential officials, to be allowed to pay exemption money, and it seems that the Government also was trying to find a means to come to an understanding with the Armenians. It therefore published a special notice announcing that all the non-Moslems above 26 years of age would be exempted from the Army by payment of a special fee. The Armenians sold everything to pay the Government, that they might profit by this occasion. The period of exemption was extended by the Government to the following spring.

It is worth mentioning here that, according to the Turkish officials, there were about the same number of deserters among the Turks and Kurds, but they never paid as much exemption money as the Armenians did.

The Government sided with the Germans even when they were neutral, whereas the Armenians—unfortunately—sympathised with the Allies. But even then no special injustice was done. The Government showed kindness to the Armenians, at least on the surface, while the Governor, Tahsin Pasha, had such close relations with the leaders of the Dashnakist party that people thought he was their special friend. Besides this, it was arranged that two Armenian Members of the Ottoman Parliament who were the representatives of Van, Messrs. Vahan Papazian and Vremyan, should stay with the people to keep them and the Government on good terms with one another.

After the entry of the Turks into the war, however, the situation assumed a different aspect. The Government began to adopt a cold and suspicious attitude towards the Armenians, who had performed their duty towards the Government to the best of their ability, and even after the abolition of the “Capitulations” had joined the Turks in their celebrations of the event. In spite of all this, the coolness between them was very marked, and this became especially apparent after it was found that the Armenians had supplied volunteers to the Russians, and that they were the very troops who had occupied Bayazid. It was then reported that all the Kurdish tribes had gone over to the side of the 54Russians and had caused great prejudice to the Turks. This terrified the Turks to such a degree that many rich women went to the American missionary ladies of Van to ask their protection, saying: “We are not afraid of the Russians as much as we are of the Kurds.” But the unfortunate part was that, in Government circles, the dominant topic of conversation was the Armenian Volunteers.

It was before this that Tahsin Bey summoned the heads of the Dashnakists (the heads of the Hunchakists were already in prison) and pointed out to them that the Armenians had begun a volunteer movement, and that this movement would be dangerous to them; and afterwards in a special letter he suggested to them, and especially to Mr. Vremyan, that they should write to the heads of the Dashnakists of Bayazid and stop this movement. This letter was sent to Mr. Toros, the head of the Dashnakists of Ardjish, but Mr. Toros was killed by a Turkish gendarme. At the same time it was stated that the Turkish Government had made special overtures to the Dashnakists and proposed that they should form bands of chettis composed of Turks and Armenians and raid Caucasia, but I do not know how it happened that this was refused by the Armenians[38].

A short time after the Turks intervened in the war, all the Armenians in the Turkish Army were disarmed and employed as ordinary labourers. The arms of the Armenian gendarmes in the local districts were taken and given to the Turks, while the latter were left free on the understanding that they would be called up, though this never actually took place. This general disarming filled the Armenians with fear and suspicion. Those of the disarmed Armenians who found means of escape, deserted, and some whom I knew personally were sent back by the officials.

Turkey had not yet declared war, but she was mobilising her forces, when the members of the Armenian Reform Committee came to Van with M. Hoff, the Inspector-General. The Government did not carry out the plan, which was prepared and announced to the Armenians, for receiving the Inspector-General and his party with pomp and ceremony, but they sent them to the beautiful little village of Artamid on the southern side of the city, situated on the shore of Lake Van. After they had stayed there a few days they were sent back again, carrying with them the scheme of Armenian Reforms.

Shortly after Turkey had declared war, Tahsin Pasha was called to Erzeroum, and in his place Djevdet Bey, the brother-in-law of Enver Pasha, was selected as Governor for Van.

About the end of the autumn, when the Russian Army had annihilated the Turkish Army on the Persian border, had taken Bashkalé and Sarai, and was moving towards Van, there was a violent panic among the Turkish officers and general public. Many of the officers sold their property and transferred their families by boats to Bitlis. Other prominent families, like the 55Hamoud-oglou—who had done great harm to the Armenians—took the same course. Among the rank and file those that were afraid addressed themselves to the Armenians, who received them very kindly. The object of the Armenians was to teach some dangerous officers a good lesson, but they had no intention whatever of harming the innocent officers and the Turkish public.

I met many who said very plainly: “Here is a good opportunity for us to show our Turkish compatriots and neighbours that we Armenians never harboured any bad intentions towards them, but had always demanded simply a state of equality, which would be beneficial to all who wished to live a peaceful life.”

At the time when the Turkish army was annihilated on the Persian border, and there was not even the militia in Van and less than 400 gendarmes between Van and Bitlis, it would have been very easy for the Armenians to occupy the greater part of the provinces of Van and Moush, if they had wanted to revolt and massacremassacre the Turks (who were in fear of their lives) or do what the Turks had done in the past to the “Giaours” (“Infidels”).

The Government knew this, and for this reason treated the Armenians very flatteringly. The Armenian people was thankful to be able to live without fear and to have friendly and sincere relations with their Turkish neighbours. The Dashnakist Party also, who had been in close touch with the Government, were content with this situation, and were satisfied now that the Government considered them of importance and asked their advice on the welfare of the “Vatan” (Fatherland).

Unfortunately this state of affairs was of short duration. Suddenly the Russian army retreated. The different fragments of the Turkish Army rallied again, and instead of pursuing the enemy, they exterminated the Armenian and Syrian population of Bashkalé, Sarai and all the surrounding villages. They had massacred all the male population, and in certain places—according to the reports of a Turkish commander who was a Russian subject—had thrown them into wells. The most beautiful of the women had been distributed among the Moslems, and some of them were even sent to Van; the old and weak women who remained were collected together and driven to various places like a herd of cattle. The Armenian Bishop of Van sent a Turco-Armenian delegation to the Government to ask its help for the sufferers, but the Government entirely ignored the request, or postponed it from day to day.

The Governor of Van went to the front, leaving an assistant in his place, and by his patriotic exertions he re-organised the Turkish Army. He succeeded in winning to the side of the Turks the rebellious Kurds and even Smgo the Chief, who lived under Russian protection. This news was immediately telegraphed to Van and Constantinople. Djevdet Bey, the lion general of the Turks, with his reorganised army, followed the Russians 56up to Tabriz, and occupied it. It is unnecessary to repeat that the Turkish Army, wherever it went, carried with it fire and sword and all kinds of terrible tortures, which were inflicted upon the “Infidels.” Regarding this, the American missionaries are the best informed eye-witnesses.

Owing to these Turkish successes on the frontier and the Armenian volunteer movements, the Government and the Turkish public changed their attitude towards the Armenians. The Government was more civil in its demands and asked all the deserters to appear before it, although without actually promising them arms and their restoration to the Army. To all questions concerning this, the answer was: “That is for us to decide.” The war taxes were doubled, and to all the petitions and objections regarding this, the answer was: “The Army is more important than the populace.”

The Government began now not to attach much importance to their friends the Dashnakists, and there was a time when the Assistant Governor refused even to receive Mr. Vremyan in audience, saying: “I cannot stand his rudeness and blustering.”

A little distance from Van all the country places like Nordouz, Hazaren and Boghaz-Kessen were destroyed. Part of the inhabitants were massacred, others found refuge in Van, and the remainder altogether disappeared. The horrors spread to the other districts and villages round Van. Garjgan was evacuated; the village of Pelou, which had 120 houses, and the ten villages of Gargar were sacked.

In a semi-civilised country it is an easy matter for a Government to find pretexts for its acts, when the Governor so desires. For instance, in Pelou a drunken young man had a fight with a gendarme, pulled out his revolver and killed him. In the mountains above the village of Shoushantz, six Kurdish deserters were killed—but none of the authorities ascertained by whom they were killed, or who they were. These and similar events gave cause and pretext to the Turkish Government for censuring the Armenians. But no one was censured for the massacres and general unrest at Sarai, Bashkalé, Nordouz, Hazaren and Boghaz-Kessen. Then new army corps and machine guns were brought up to Van to be transferred to the frontier; all the Turkish and Kurdish citizens from 15 to 60 years of age were armed with these weapons, and when the Armenian Bishop protested to the Government, the answer was: “We are arming them to organise them into militia; after a little while we will collect them all and put them into barracks. If the Armenians are also willing to volunteer and come to the barracks, let them come and we will give them arms.”

After the events at Pelou and Gargar, it was reported that a Turkish mob from Bitlis had devastated the district of Garjgan with fire and sword, and was advancing on Kavash and Haiotz-Tzor, and that after destroying these places they would proceed 57towards Van. Upon the arrival of this report, some Dashnakists went out towards Ankegh and Antanan in Haiotz-Tzor and destroyed the bridge near Ankegh, to prevent the Turks sending help to the mob which was advancing from Bitlis, and also to stop the mob from marching upon Van. After this the Armenians also killed a few gendarmes and Kurds. Among those killed was reported to be the Judge of Vostan. As far as I remember, seven persons were killed at this time. This event caused fear among the Turks and Kurds. The Government therefore sent Mr. Vremyan as a mediator. Mr. Vremyan settled the question, putting the blame on the Kaimakam of Vostan, who had sent for the mob from Bitlis. The Government superseded the Kaimakam of Vostan and promised to find and return the booty from Pelou and to restore the people who were deported to their homes. This was never done. An Armenian proverb says that “A thief is afraid of himself,” and the Turks also were afraid of themselves on account of what they had done. While travelling through Haiotz-Tzor and Kavash they assumed Armenian names. Yet the officials, whenever they got a chance, protested to foreigners that the Armenians were ungrateful, that they furnished volunteers to the Russians, and wanted autonomy; “And therefore,” they said, “we will not leave this country to them. Let the Russians take the country, but we refuse to let the Armenians rule over our families and our kin.” It is unnecessary to add that there were as many Moslem volunteers as Armenian in the Russian forces.

The Turkish Government was very prudent. So long as it was weak it flattered the Armenians and praised them to their faces; the leaders of the Dashnakists, Vremyan, Aram and Ishkhan, were treated as advisers of the Government. The Armenians on their part tried not to be the cause of any disturbance in the country. The only ground for anxiety in the relations between the Government and the Armenians was the question of the Armenian deserters. After the Armenian soldiers were disarmed, they did not dare to remain in their posts, and used to desert. When it was discovered that the Turkish Government had armed all the male Mohammedans from 14 to 60 years of age, they were no longer willing to give themselves up, and decided to die with their wives and children. A few Turkish officials confessed that it was wrong to disarm the Armenians because there were more Kurdish deserters than Armenian, but the Government refrained from attaching as much blame to the Kurds as they did to the Armenians.

To consider all these problems, a meeting was called under the presidency of Yeznig Vartabed, the Assistant of the Bishop, in which all sections of the Armenian population of Van were represented. The meeting was held at the house of Kevork Agha Jidajian, and came to the following conclusions: That the 58Turkish Government was treating the Armenians with suspicion; that all work, trade, and farming had stopped; that certain districts such as Nordouz, Gargar and Garjgan had been cleared of their inhabitants, and that the Armenians of Sarai and Bashkalé had been annihilated when the Russian army retreated; finally, that in case of a revolution the Armenians at Van would be able to hold out for some time, but that, taking into consideration the whole of Armenia, it was necessary to maintain peace with the Turks at all costs.

As certain deserters could not give themselves up at the moment for important reasons, they decided to ask the Government to accept exemption money for them. The meeting decided to negotiate on these lines through Mr. Vremyan as their Deputy, with Avedis Effendi Terzibashian as an adviser experienced in Turkish psychology. The meeting also proposed to open negotiations through some merchants on similar lines. A week later the Armenians held a joint conference with the Turks at Jidajian’s house. At this conference they decided to live together as neighbours without taking account of any changes of policy in the Government. The Turks promised to ask the Government not to give any cause for revolution.

However, the situation was far from being satisfactory, and unrest was in the air. All the workmen were working for the Government; the tradesmen would go to their shops, hear rumours, and go home again, to stay at home for four or five days; and the attitude of the Government kept changing like a weathercock, in conformity with the successes or failures at the front. Sometimes it was very severe and unreasonable, and sometimes very smooth and peaceful. Everyone was uneasy, as they did not know how long such a situation would last. We were afraid of massacres. We were afraid of the retreating Turkish army, which would undoubtedly devastate everything on its way. We were afraid of famine, as the Government had not given the people a chance of provisioning themselves, and we knew that the villages and farms had been robbed. A part of the working class was in the army. The cattle and sheep belonging to the refugees had been confiscated and sold. Many people confided to me that they wished that whatever was going to happen would happen quickly and relieve them from their suspense. Meanwhile, the people of Van armed themselves, and kept secret watch day and night at different street corners, to be prepared for any eventuality.

About the beginning of spring, rebellion started in the district of Van-Dosb, or Timar, a few hours’ distance from Van. The inhabitants of the village of Erer in this district were massacred. When the turn came for the village of Bairak, the local Armenians defended themselves with the help of the Armenians in Van against the Kurds and the gendarmes. When the Government saw that people were getting ready and that things would drift from bad to worse, it went to the Bishop and expressed its 59regret for the events that had taken place, and asked the Armenians to send their representatives to stop the fighting at Bairak. This was immediately done. Some blamed the Vice-Governor, who had taken Djevdet’s place, for these affrays. Mr. Vremyan and the Vice-Governor fell out, the Vice-Governor having refused to receive Mr. Vremyan in audience, but as Mr. Vremyan was a Deputy (Member of the Ottoman Parhament) he was allowed to remain in the district with the sanction of the Government. Mr. Vremyan blamed the Vice-Governor for the situation, and sent a telegram to this effect to the Governor, Djevdet, who was at the front. Djevdet answered him thanking him, and asking him to preserve peace until his return, when he would put everything in order, “Inshallah” (“God willing”).

It was the last week of Lent when Djevdet Bey reached Van with 400 trained soldiers, called Lez[39], and a few field guns, and was received by the Armenians with royal honours; but while passing through Armenian villages he shut his eyes to the barbarous behaviour of his soldiers towards the Armenian women. In the new village of Upper Haiotz-Tzor a number of women were violated, a man was killed, and others were beaten almost to death, on the pretence of having arms. For this, one of the young men wanted to follow Djevdet and kill him, but the Armenian revolutionists did not allow him to do so. As soon as Djevdet Bey reached the city, he thanked Vremyan and all those who had done their best for the peace of the city, and started negotiating with the Armenians concerning the deserters. He persuaded the Armenians to give themselves up, or at least a certain part of them, so that he might have less difficulty in getting back the Turkish and Kurdish deserters.

During Passion Week the negotiations with the Government were postponed on account of a terrible snowstorm. At this time there was an army of 4,000 with some artillery in Van. There was no special cause for anxiety, but everybody felt there was something in the air, which turned out to be the case. After Easter, when the negotiations were taken up again with the Government, it was reported that there had been conflicts at Shadakh. The general impression was that the Government was behind it. The Government wanted to arrest a member of the Dashnakist party called Joseph. The Armenians would not allow him to be arrested, and that started the trouble. Shadakh is about 24 hours’ journey from Van, towards the south, on one of the tributaries of the Tigris. During the massacres of 1895 and 1896, the Armenians of Shadakh had succeeded in defending themselves with great success and honour. After that, the Government had wanted to trap the Armenians and massacre them, and fill their places with Kurds and Turks, but it was not successful, and now in April the massacres had started from there. The liberty-loving Armenians of this place defended themselves 60bravely for about two months, until the end of May, when the Volunteers went to their assistance.

Djevdet Bey asked the Dashnakists to send a delegate and put a stop to these occurrences. The members of this deputation were Mr. Ishkhan and three young Armenians, a Turkish Prefect of Police, and a few gendarmes. On the evening of the 16th April, in the Kurdish village of Hirj, the Armenian delegates were all assassinated—a trap laid by the Government. Some trustworthy people from Haiotz-Tzor (Armenian Valley) reported that the very day that Mr. Ishkhan was going to Shadakh as a peace delegate, the Armenians of Upper Haiotz-Tzor came to him and said: “For how long shall we endure it? They have not spared anything. There was only Shadakh left, and they massacred even the people of Shadakh.” Mr. Ishkhan, who was a fighter by nature, had declared to the Armenian villagers that they must keep the peace at all costs, and had ordered them to give the Government everything that was asked for; if one village was burnt, they were ordered to escape to another village.

Here I would like to explain in parenthesis the reason why I always mention the Dashnakist party. They were the people who were mixed up with politics; they were the friends and advisers of the Young Turk Party, and, having formed a “bloc” with them, they always sided with the Turks in parliamentary conflicts. The Government on their part wanted to keep them on their side, knowing that they had great influence over the villagers, in the Episcopal Court, and in the Chancery of the Catholics of Aghtamar. The Ramgavars (Democrats) were not mixed up with politics. They had their own paper, “Van-Dosp,” and were busy with their own propaganda and their own trade and teaching, only once in a while fighting against the Dashnakists. They did not, like the Dashnakists, have special members who gave all their time to political affairs. The Hunchakists were very few in number, and during mobilisation their leaders, Messrs. Ardashes Solakhian and Proudian, were arrested and afterwards killed.

On Saturday morning, the 17th April, Djevdet Bey asked the following leaders of the Dashnakists—Messrs. Vremyan, Aram, Avedis Effendi Terzibashian (a merchant), and Kevork Agha Jidajian—to visit him for a conference. Aram could not go, for one reason or another; the others went and were retained. After that it was reported that all those that went as peace delegates were killed by the Government. This started a panic among the Armenians, and young men under arms took up special positions. Father Nerses of the New Church, Set Effendi Kapamajian and myself went to the American missionaries to ask them to intercede with the Government on our behalf to maintain peace. Before the missionaries had reached the Government Building, Terzibashian and Jidajian were freed, so that they could advise the Armenians to go and surrender, but Vremyan was kept to be sent to Constantinople. Djevdet Bey told the missionaries 61that he had already sent for them. He also added that, as the peace of the country was disturbed, the American missionaries must make room for 50 soldiers for their own protection. If they could not do that, then they must all go to the Government Building, with their whole households. The missionaries came back with the impression that everything was over, and that Djevdet Bey had changed altogether. The same night the Armenians had a meeting in the New Church, where Terzibashian Effendi told them what Djevdet Bey had said and communicated to them the result of the negotiations. He said that it was impossible to influence Djevdet; sometimes he was quite reasonable, and at other times he was harsh and immovable and wanted all the deserters to surrender either that day or the following, and all the Armenians to give up their arms. Again it was decided to ask him to accept part of the deserters and receive exemption money for the rest. Signor Sbordone (the agent of the Italian Consul), the American missionaries and the Armenian merchants made proposals to Djevdet Bey to this effect, but they were unable to find out what his intentions were. Sometimes he declared on oath that he would not bring dishonour on his father, Tahir Pasha, who ruled over Van in peace during a time of great disturbances, and sometimes in a fury he would say: “There will either be nothing but Turks or nothing but Armenians left in this city. After I have finished Shadakh I will overthrow Van. I will not leave a single house standing except the house of my father. I will not spare either male or female, youth or old age. The Armenians must give up their arms and their deserters, and they must pass in front of my window to go to the barracks. If I hear the report of a gun or revolver, I will consider that a signal to carry out what I have just told you.”

On Monday, the 19th April, Djevdet Bey was in a slightly different mood. He issued an order for everybody to go about their business, saying that nothing would happen. We had been isolated for a whole week from the districts outside the town and were ignorant as to what was going on there, and we did not even know that we were surrounded by Turkish trenches and troops. On the very day that Djevdet Bey told us that “All was well,” Agantz, a big town in the district of Van, was sacked and ruined. Prominent inhabitants of Agantz, like Abaghtzian, Housian and Shaljian, were invited to go to the Government Building to receive orders from the Kaimakam. The other Armenians were collected from the streets and from their houses. At night, after dark, they took these men in groups of fifty with their hands tied behind their backs, brought them to the river bank at the back of the city, and there killed them all. Only three were able to unloose their hands and escape at night, after pretending to be dead. One of them went to an Armenian village near by and was the cause of this village’s escape; another of them went to the boats that were on the shore and saw that most 62of the sailors had been killed, but told the rest about it, who thereupon launched their boats into the open lake and rowed for the Monastery Island. The third disappeared altogether.

Haroutune Agha Housian was wounded in three places, but escaped to his home. When the Turkish officers counted the wounded, however, they found, by their list, that Mr. Housian was missing, and when they found him in his house they killed him. All the male inhabitants of Agantz were killed except these three, and, by the permission of the Government, the Armenian households—that is, the women and children and property—were divided among the Turks. In order to secure their property, the Turks betrothed themselves to Armenian girls and women, with the intention of marrying them.

Djevdet Bey announced to everybody that “Asayish ber Kemal der” (“Peace was perfect”), and at the same time he put pressure on the American missionaries either to sign a statement that they had refused the protection of the Government, or agree to accept a guard of 50 soldiers for the missionary compound. He laid more emphasis on this latter proposition, saying that he would send the same number of soldiers to the German missionaries. The American missionaries were so considerate as to ask the advice of the Armenians, and the latter, especially Mr. Armenag Yegarian, saw in the proposal a plot to seize the Armenian quarters and homes. Accordingly they made the missionaries understand that the only thing which would protect them would be the American flag and the order of the Government, and that, even if 5,000 soldiers were there, it would be impossible to be protected against the Government. With this in view, they told the missionaries that, if Djevdet sent more than 10 or 12 soldiers, they would be obliged to open fire on them and would not let one into the Armenian quarters. Taking all these points into consideration, the missionaries informed the Government that they were willing to accept as many soldiers as the Government sent them, but that they would not be responsible for their safe arrival and were very unwilling to start a conflict on that account. “We are not afraid of the Armenians,” they said, “and we think that 10 or 12 soldiers and an order from you will be sufficient to protect us.”

On Tuesday morning, the 20th April, at six o clock, some Turkish soldiers saw a few Armenian women coming to the city from the village of Shoushantz, half-an-hour’s distance from Van. They attempted to violate them, and when two Armenian young men went to remonstrate with the Turkish soldiers, the latter opened fire on them and killed them. This was not very far from the German Mission, and the Principal of the German missionaries, Herr Spörri, and his wife witnessed this incident. He also was kind enough to write explicitly to Djevdet, stating that it was the Turkish soldiers who attempted to violate the 63women and then killed the Armenian young men who had tried to save the women’s honour.

But Djevdet had received his signal, and as soon as the reports were heard from Ourpat Arou (where the women had been violated), artillery fire was opened upon the Armenian quarters of Aikesdan, and was also turned upon the inhabitants of the Market-place, which was surrounded by Turkish quarters.

Then we understood that we were really surrounded, and so the armed Armenian young men held the street corners and did not allow the Turkish or Kurdish mobs to enter. The Armenian lines protected an area of about two square miles, which was held by 700 Armenians, 300 only of whom had regular arms and a certain amount of military training. The others were simply civilians who had revolvers and a few ordinary weapons. All the fighters had decided to fight to the bitter end in defence of their families.

Even the American missionaries confessed that they could not conceive how a Government could display such meanness and treachery towards citizens who had been so faithful in their duties. It is important to mention that the sympathies of the American missionaries had been with the Armenians at all times. They not only opened the doors of their compounds and houses, but also placed families and property in security, and began to give their personal services to the sick and the children.

All the people of Van, without exception, began to work with one soul. Those who had arms and were able to fight rushed to take their stand and stop the Turks from entering the Armenian quarters, and those who were able to work took spade and shovel to go and strengthen the fighting men’s positions by constructing trenches and walls. The little boys worked as scouts, the women and girls undertook the care of the sick and the children. Besides that, the women did all the sewing and cooking for the fighters.

With the object of caring for the wounded, a Red Cross detachment was raised with the assistance of Dr. Sanfani (Khosrov Chetjian) and Dr. Khatchig. To secure law and order, a local Government was formed, with judicial, police and sanitary branches. Its administration was conducted in perfect order the whole month through. The Americans said that Van had never had such a good Government under the Turkish rule. An end was put to revolutionary disputes; only such expressions as “Armenian soldier,” “Armenian Self-defence Committee” and the like were heard; and they named their positions “Dévé Boyi,” “Dardanelles,” “Sahag Bey’s Dug-out,” and so on.

For the better organisation of the defending forces they appointed a military council, which was formed of the representatives of the revolutionary parties and the non-party Armenians, and which carried on the work very successfully. This body was in communication with the lines and supplied soldiers wherever and whenever it was necessary. The Supply 64Committee also did good work in supplying food and beds for those who were working in the different stations. Under the presidency of Bedros Bey Mozian, the ex-Mayor of Van, and with the leadership of Mr. Yarrow, they formed a Relief Society whose object was to collect supplies and provide the necessaries of life for those who were destitute and had lost their homes. This committee was a great assistance to the fighting forces.

One of the local papers began to publish the news of the fighting and distribute it to the people. The Normal School band, under the leadership of Mr. K. Boujikanian, played Armenian military airs, the “Marseillaise,” and other tunes, to hearten the fighters. The greater the intensity of the Turkish artillery fire and the louder the roar of the guns, the louder the band played, and this made Djevdet more furious than the bullets of the Armenians; he did not even restrain himself from expressing his feelings in his bulletins.

During the first days of the fighting, the Military Committee, by special bulletin, made a public appeal to the Turks, reminding them of their pledges to one another, and proclaiming that Governments change but the people always remain neighbours, and that there was no reason why they should be at enmity with one another. By this they put the whole of the blame on Djevdet, who possessed nothing else in Van but a horse, “and he could ride off on that and escape.” After making this point, the proclamation suggested to the Turkish inhabitants that they should force Djevdet to desist from the bloodshed. I do not know the result of this announcement.

The Military Committee also gave orders to the Armenian soldiers not to drink, not to blaspheme the religion of the enemy, to spare women, children and unarmed men, to respect neutrals, and to prevent anyone from entering their compounds under arms. They also ordered that all the wounded should be taken to the American Hospital, and that only true reports should be given.

During these dark days the Armenian people were very full of life. Everybody did his or her best. They all had good hope that Djevdet would not succeed in annihilating the Armenians of Van. The spirit of the fighters was enough to inspire those that were in despair. I have seen young men who had fought the enemy day and night, without sleeping. Their eyesight had been so affected that they were practically blind, and they were transferred to the Red Cross Station to be treated. Even then they were very cheerful. While the shrapnel was raining upon Van, the Armenian children were playing soldiers in the streets.

Armenag Yegarian, with his cool and able leadership; Aram, with his constant presence and advice; P. Terlemezian, with his great heart; Krikor of Bulgaria, with his indefatigable industry and inventive genius—they were very able leaders. To save their lives and honour all the Armenians of Van had placed then services 65at the disposal of the Military Council, who awarded crosses and medals to encourage those who were worthy of them. I was present when a little girl received one of these medals. During the retaking of a position in Angous Tzor she bravely went ahead, spied out the ground and brought back news that the Turks had laid no traps for the advancing Armenian soldiers.

From the very first day of the fighting the Turks burned all the Armenian houses that were outside the Armenian fighting zone, but the village of Shoushantz and Varak Monastery were still in the hands of the Armenians. Mr. H. Kouyoumjian was in charge of the entrenchments at Varak, and he came down to Aikesdan once in a while to report everything that was going on there.

After a week all the Armenians in the surrounding country came in to Aikesdan by way of Varak and Shoushantz, bringing with them famine, sickness and terrible news. Those that came from Haiotz-Tzor (Armenian Valley) reported that two Turkish armies had passed through the Armenian villages with artillery. The first army paid for everything that they took, and the people were encouraged by this act to issue from their retreats, but the second army surrounded them and massacred them. The Government carried out its work on such a well-planned system that villages were massacred without having had warning of the fate of their neighbours only a mile away. All the inhabitants of the villages that surrendered were massacred. There were villages that succeeded in removing their people and taking them to the mountains, but in general we must confess that the villagers did not prove very brave. They were not able to co-operate for their common defence, and there were even some who did not like to oppose the Government. In comparison with the city people they were short of ammunition, and they managed to convoy their families into the city by simply firing in the air, which was one of the reasons why the city people rather looked down on them. But the fact is that if they had had enough ammunition and the right leaders, they would have been able very easily to drive the enemy out of Haiotz-Tzor, Kavash and Tamar.

During the first two weeks the Government massacred the men and had all the women kidnapped, and deported the remainder from village to village to give the Turkish population a chance of wreaking their vengeance. But afterwards, in order to strike at the defensive powers of Van and to starve the Armenians into surrender by making them use up their provisions, they collected all the survivors from the villages and sent them to Aikesdan and to the city proper. The people in the city refused to pass anybody through the lines of defence; the enemy therefore sent them to Aikesdan, telling them that those who returned would be shot. The people of Aikesdan recognised their terrible straits and took them in; there were a large number of wounded 66among the women and children. I saw a woman from the village of Eremer, whose husband was serving in the Turkish army and whose twelve-year-old boy was slain before her eyes. She was wounded herself, as well as her two remaining children, one four years and the other eleven months old. I shall never forget the drooping look of the little one and the wounded arm that hung by his side, nor the woman herself, who was almost mad. All these were given over to Dr. Ussher, who treated them immediately. I also remember a woman who had lost seven of her children and had gone out of her mind. She lay on the ground clutching her hair. She threw dust on her head and cursed the Kaiser all the time.

The American Hospital, which could accommodate only 50 patients, had 150 sick, and they were obliged to fill every available place with the wounded. Scarlet fever, whooping cough and smallpox carried off many of the little ones.

Besides the fighting and working forces, we had to supply food for about 13,000 people. At the beginning it was possible to give one loaf of bread to each individual every day, but afterwards we were obliged to cut it down to half a loaf, supplemented with other food. All the oxen and cows in the city were slaughtered, and when we had lost all hope of procuring cattle from outside there were even people who suggested killing the dogs. The lack of ammunition was also severely felt, so that in Aikesdan for every thousand rounds fired by the Turks the Armenians could only reply with one.

After a few days the Turks occupied the positions of Shoushantz and Varak, and burned the library of old manuscripts at Varak Monastery. All the Armenians and Syrians from these occupied villages came over to the city and consequently increased the famine and plague. Up to this time women between 65 and 70 years old carried letters backwards and forwards between Djevdet and the Austrian banker Aligardi, Signor Sbordone, and the German and American missionaries. These women carried a white flag in one hand and the letter in the other, and passed to and fro in safety, with the exception of one who was shot by the Turks because she was unfortunate enough to fall down and lose the flag, and another one who was wounded by the Turks. Djevdet tried to discourage the Armenians by descriptions of Turkish successes, and also suggested that they should give up their arms and receive a complete amnesty, like the people of Diyarbekir. In a letter addressed to Mr. Aligardi, the Austrian, he wrote: “Dear Aligardi, Ishim yok, keifim tchok (“I have nothing to do but amuse myself”). In another, addressed to Dr. Ussher, he said: ”I will parade the prisoners and guns I have taken from the Russians in front of His Majesty Dr. Ussher’s fort, so that he may see and believe.”

But the Armenians did not let Djevdet do as he pleased. They severed communications and did not allow any more letters to pass through the lines. Then, under the direction of Professor 67M. Minassian, they succeeded in making smokeless powder, cartridges and three guns, whose reports were heard with great rejoicings by all the Armenians. They made about 2,000 cartridges a day, and the blacksmiths made spears, so that, if necessary, they could fight with spears when the ammunition was all gone. The Armenians also dug underground passages, through which they blew up certain Turkish barracks and entrenchments.

Thus they burned and destroyed the great stone barracks of Hamoud Agha; the Telegraph and Police Station of Khatch Poghotz (Cross Street); half the police station of Arar, and the English Consulate, which was one of the chief Turkish strongholds. This encouraged the Armenians a great deal, so that there was a time when Djevdet was obliged to send 500 soldiers against a position held by only 44 Armenians, who after fighting for three or four hours left 33 dead on the field and retired. A young man called Borouzanjian, the only son of his widowed mother and the support of his orphan sisters, resigned his post as hospital orderly and went to fight in the trenches. He killed four Turkish soldiers and was finally killed himself. He praised God while dying that he had done his duty, and asked his comrades to sell his revolver and other personal belongings and to give the proceeds of them to his mother, so that she could live on them for a little while.

During this time they sent word to the Armenian Volunteers in Russia, asking them to come to their aid.

When the villagers came to Aikesdan and thus increased the number of labourers and fighters, the trenches were elaborated and increased in number, so that they now covered two square miles. When the Turkish artillerymen destroyed one line they found a second fortified line at the back, which was stronger than the first. Besides this, the Armenians had organised a body of cavalry, so that they could send help in all directions. Not only Aikesdan was defended with success, but also the city proper and Shadakh. The Americans, seeing the spirit of the Armenians, declared that it would not be far wrong to say that this beat Marathon.

The Turkish soldiers were good shots, especially the artillerymen, who could direct their shrapnel by accurate sighting upon the desired point. Who could imagine that their commanders were civilised and Christian Germans! This fact became known to the Armenians after the fall of Van.

On the 9th and 10th May we saw the white sails of boats on the Lake of Van. Without heeding the flying bullets, the people flocked on to high ground to watch them. We did not know whether they were some of the Turkish population or officers who were escaping. They continued the shooting until next morning. After the 10th May the fighting became more intense, both during the daytime and at night, and on the 15th and 16th May the guns were directed upon the American 68Institutions, where all the people were. Although during the whole period of fighting they had fired upon the American compound, the Hospital, the Church and Dr. Ussher’s home, and wounded thirteen people, it was only during the last two days that the bombardment was confined to the compound alone. It was then that a bomb struck Dr. Raynold’s house and killed Mr. Terzibashian’s three-and-a-half-years-old daughter.

On the evening of the 17th May the Armenians succeeded in destroying the upper and lower barracks of Toprak Kalé, which raised their spirits vastly; but in the evening the joy of the Americans surpassed that of the Armenians. About midnight, in a strong attack, the Armenians seized and burned the largest Turkish barracks, Hadji Bekir’s Kushla, which dominated the American compound. At midnight the town criers went through the town crying victory: “We have taken all the Turkish positions; they have run away: come out.” On this report the Armenians, especially those who were in a starving condition, came out and attacked the Turkish quarters to rob and burn them. The revenge of centuries was being taken. The Armenian soldiers did not participate in this movement for twenty-four hours, but held their positions so that the enemy might not take them by surprise. The booty that the people took from the Turks consisted mostly of wheat, flour and bread.

I asked one of the villagers to show me her booty. She did so, and I was surprised to see that it consisted of clothing that the Turks had robbed from Armenian women and girls. They found in the house of Mouhib Effendi, a member of the Ottoman Parliament, a chalice and other sacred vessels from an Armenian Church. The Turks were in such a panic that some left their tables laid and took to flight. The hungry women of yesterday were carrying away booty without stopping, with a new strength. It was the story of the seventh chapter of the Fourth Book of Kings that was repeated word for word. The American compound was now deserted except for the boy scouts, who, with the help of one of our teachers and Neville Ussher, remained to look after the sick.

The whole city was in an uproar. Some went to look at the entrenchments; others went to look at the burned Turkish quarters, and others to look at the booty. There were others also who visited the fortress, which was captured that same night, and over which a flag with a Cross on it was waving. No Government was left, no authority. The soldiers had marked out their position from Arark to Khatch Poghotz as a military centre. They took away all the valuable vessels and property from the people. They were afraid that there would be fighting, but fortunately nothing happened. In Aikesdan there were still armed Turks in certain positions, who killed some Armenians, but they were finally found and killed. It was very pitiful to see Armenian soldiers leading Turkish women and children and 69unarmed men to the American compound for safety, and saying to them: “Do not cry; nothing will happen to you; we are only looking for Djevdet, who destroyed both your homes and ours.” Nobody touched these Turkish women, some of whom had from £30 to £95 (Turkish) on their persons. Some of the Armenians went to look for their wounded in the Turkish hospitals, and when they did not find them they were so infuriated that they killed some of the Turkish wounded and burned the building. Mr. Yarrow asked me to go and wait there until he came. I stayed there. The scene was dreadful. For four days the Government had given them no bread and no care, so that many of them had already died from neglect. Interspersed among the dead there were also some still living, but the Armenians did not raise their hands to touch them. Before the arrival of the Americans, many came and helped me to put out the fire and attended to those that were alive. Mr. Yarrow, seeing all this, said: “I am amazed at the self-control of the Armenians, for though the Turks did not spare a single wounded Armenian, the Armenians are helping us to save the Turks—a thing that I do not believe even Europeans would do.”

The scene in the prison was dreadful, as all the Armenian prisoners had been massacred. The wife of Mr. Proudian had completely lost her reason, and cried out: “Show me at least the bones of my dear one.” The unveiling of these dreadful deeds of the Turks so hardened some of the Armenians that they followed the doctrine of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” to the great sorrow of the others.


38. See Doc. 21

39. Of Lazic nationality (?)—Editor.

70

18. VAN AFTER THE TURKISH RETREAT: LETTER FROM HERR SPÖRRI, OF THE GERMAN MISSION AT VAN, PUBLISHED IN THE GERMAN JOURNAL “SONNENAUFGANG,” OCTOBER, 1915.

There lies Artamid before us, adorned by its delicious gardens; but how does the village look? The greater part of it is nothing now but a heap of ruins. We talked there with three of our former orphan protégées, who had had fearful experiences during the recent events. We rode on across the mountain of Artamid. Even in time of peace one crosses the pass with one’s heart in one’s mouth, because the Kurds ply their robber trade there. Now it is all uncannily still. Our glance swept over the magnificent valley of Haiotz-Tzor. There lay Antananz before us, now utterly destroyed like the rest. We gave shelter, at the time, to the people from Antananz who had managed to escape. Further on in the magnificent green landscape lay Vostan. At first sight one might call it a paradise, but during these latter days it has also been a hell. What rivers of blood must have flowed there; it was one of the chief strongholds of the armed Kurds. At the foot of the mountain we came to Angegh. There again there were many houses destroyed. We found here a young woman who, after many years of widowhood, had married a native of the village. Things have been going well with her; now her husband, too, was slaughtered. One hundred and thirty people are said to have been murdered thus. We pitched our camp here in face of the blackened ruins. Straight in front of us stood an “amrodz,” a tower built of cakes of manure—a common enough sight in these parts. We were told that the Kurds had burnt the corpses of the slaughtered Armenians in it. Horrible! And yet that is at least better than if the corpses of the slain, as has happened in other places, are allowed to lie for an indefinite period unburied, so that they are devoured by dogs and poison the air. There we were met by some soldiers; they were Armenian “Volunteers” who had come from Russia and were now fighting on the side of the Russians for the liberation of their Haiasdan. They were coming now from the neighbourhood of Bitlis, where heavy fighting was in progress. They had brought some sick back to the town, and proposed to rest here awhile. After that we rode on to Ten, where people we already knew came out to meet us from the village and informed us of what had happened there. There, too, the scenes of our former activity, the school and the church, lay in ruins, and many dwelling houses as well. The man who used to put us up was also among the slain; his widow is still quite distraught. Here about 150 are said to have been murdered. There were so many orphans in the place, they said to us—Should we now be inclined to take charge of any again? We were unable to give them any definite answer. As we rode on and on over the mountains, the splendid air did us much good and we thanked God for it, for little by little we have come to be in sore need of recuperation. We had a wonderful view from the mountain heights, but everywhere in the villages one sees blackened and ruined houses.

71

19. VAN AFTER THE MASSACRES: NARRATIVE OF MR. A.S. SAFRASTIAN, DATED VAN, 2nd DECEMBER, 1915, AND PUBLISHED IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL “ARARAT” OF LONDON, JANUARY, 1916.

“I have seen the ravages of the Crimean war, the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-78, the Armenian massacres of 1894-96, and the reign of terror which then followed until the year 1914; but the massacres which have been going on since April of the current year are simply appalling, and by far the most terrible blow which the Armenian nation has ever been subject to throughout the course of its long history.”

So spoke to me Hagop Boghossian, an old Armenian peasant of Van, a sturdy octogenarian who, after three forced flights from his home in the rear of the Russian Army, was once more returning to his home to tide over the winter in his native village north of Lake Van; and as he was walking along the muddy pathway, he was telling me the story of the recent massacres as he knew them, and as he understood them from his own point of view. His account in its main outline corresponds with what has been proved beyond all doubt. Before arousing any suspicion among the Armenians residing in the central provinces of Asiatic Turkey about its intentions, the Turkish Government wanted to dispose of the “rebellious” Armenians of Van, which lay far away from its grip, and the Armenian element of which had generally been considered by the Turks as a doubtful quantity. One Djevdet Bey, a brother-in-law of Enver Pasha, happened to be the governor and the military commander of Van. In February he was routed in the battle of Diliman and Khoi, in Azerbaijan, a battle in which the Armenian volunteers under Andranik played some part. When he returned to Van, he told his friends that while he was at the front he had to battle throughout the time against Armenians, both as regular troops of the Russian army and as volunteers. The report says that Enver Pasha, the Minister of War, expressed almost the same opinion when his army was defeated early in January in the battles of Sarikamysh and Ardahan. However exaggerated these estimates may have been, they seem to have served well the purpose of the Turkish Government in its efforts to destroy the Armenian population within its territory; and Djevdet Bey was commissioned to begin the massacres at Van, where the best relations existed between the Armenians under Vremyan, the Deputy for Van in the Turkish Chamber, and Djevdet himself, who for years had enjoyed the hospitality of the natives.

On the 15th April the young Armenians of Akantz, north of Lake Van (Ardjish), were mustered by the gendarmes to the sound of the bugle, to hear the recital of an order which had just arrived from the Sultan. At sunset these 500 young men were shot outside the town without any formality. During the following two days the same process was carried out with heartless 72and cold-blooded thoroughness in the 80 Armenian villages of Ardjish, Adiljevas, and the rest of the district north of Lake Van. In this manner some 24,000 Armenians were killed in three days, their young women carried away and their homes looted. After that, Djevdet Bey immediately proceeded to destroy the able-bodied Armenians on the south side of the Lake in the same way. Kurds were let loose upon the peasants of the Kazas of Moks and Shatakh, but there these hardy mountaineers proved somewhat hard nuts to crack. They put up a stout resistance and frustrated the Turkish plan.

In the town of Van itself the Armenians had already made all the concessions they possibly could to conciliate the Government in the matter of deserters from the army and the military requisitions. Djevdet, however, demanded unconditional surrender; he treacherously caused the death of four Armenian leaders, and detained Vremyan, who was killed later. These acts, in combination with the massacres of Ardjish, cleared up all doubts. The Turks had made up their minds to annihilate the Armenians by all the means in their power, as they had shown by killing thousands of absolutely innocent peasants in Ardjish. The experience of the past had taught the Armenians of Van that an appeal to arms was the only argument which could save their life, honour and property, and they collected together all the arms they possessed. From the middle of April they were besieged by a Turkish army of about 6,000 men, equipped with artillery and reinforced by numberless Kurds of all types. Twenty-five thousand Armenians of the town, who had only some 400 good rifles and double that number of arms of a medley character, fought for four weeks against great odds. They organised all their resources through an improvised staff and various committees for medical help and distribution of relief. They constructed some mortars and made smokeless powder to repel the furious Turkish attacks. Every man, woman and child did their bit to help in the work of liberation; they held their positions to the last and captured several enemy positions by blowing up barracks in which the Turks had entrenched themselves in the middle of the Armenian quarters. After seeing something of their positions and walking over the scenes of the fight, one can well understand that it must have been a heroic battle indeed. The Turks under Djevdet despaired of overcoming Van and fled hastily at the approach of the Armenian volunteers followed by the Russian army. Van was captured by the Armenians, who saluted the entry of the Russian army by the booming of the guns they had taken from the Turks. An Armenian provisional government was established in the town and the province from early June. Excesses of an avenging nature could scarcely be avoided under the circumstances; yet such excesses by no means overstepped the passion excited at the moment.

73During June and July, almost the entire Armenian population of Bitlis, Moush, Diyarbekir, and the remaining provinces of Turkish Armenia was ruthlessly massacred or deported. Of this unparalleled tragedy the later events at Van, which suffered the most lightly of all, may serve as an illustration.

After two months of self-government in Van, the fortunes of war turned against the Armenians. Towards the end of July the Turks took the offensive on the Transcaucasian front. The Russians retreated from the Euphrates and Moush towards their own frontiers in order to counter-attack the enemy under more favourable conditions. But in this game of strategy, the quarter of a million Armenians of Van, Alashkerd, etc., the last remnant of the Armenian element in Eastern Turkey, had also to retreat towards the Russian frontier. Men, women and children, who had bravely defended themselves against the Turks, fled in a panic under the most adverse circumstances. There were no means of transport, except a few ox-carts, horses, donkeys and cows, and the distance to be traversed varied from 100 to 150 miles through a waterless and trackless country; while only a few hours’ notice was given to the unsuspecting people to quit their homes, abandon all they possessed, and walk to Transcaucasia. Every one burdened himself with some clothing and provisions, and, followed by exhausted women and children, walked for 10 days under the burning August sun, smothered in dust and overcome by thirst and fatigue. On the Bergri bridge (north of Lake Van) the rear of the caravan was attacked by mounted Kurds. A frightful panic ensued, in which women and girls threw themselves into the river Bendimahu, while others threw away their infants in the effort to escape, and entire families were precipitated into the waters owing to the rush caused by the panic. The sick, the infirm, and hundreds of children were abandoned on the roadside, where they died in lingering agony or were massacred by the Kurds.

On my way to Van along the north-eastern shore of the Lake, I witnessed revolting evidence of the recent events. Several search parties had already buried the dead and cleared the ground; nevertheless, here and there I saw remains of human bodies, of men and women, under piles of stones or scattered about the roadside. I discovered decomposing and horribly disfigured bodies of children; and on the shores of the lake and on the banks of streams skeletons, pieces of clothing, bones of human beings and animals lying all around. The stench of putrefaction was simply sickening. The country from Igdir to Van had indeed been a slaughter-house but a few months before. Entire villages had been completely wiped out. Except for some casual travellers, not a single human soul was to be seen there—there were but vultures and howling dogs who fed upon the putrefied human remains.

74The town of Van itself is mostly a heap of ruins. Since last August it has changed hands several times; all churches, schools and the best houses have been burnt down. The pulse of life seemed to have ceased from beating, where a few months ago the natives had turned it into a beehive after capturing it from the Turk. On the other hand, the remnant of the Armenians from Turkey is being greatly diminished owing to destitution and sickness across the borders of Transcaucasia. The whole country is devastated beyond any description. Perhaps nowhere on the European battlefields has the civil population been so sorely tried as in the Armenian highlands, and no race has suffered so much as the Armenians in Asiatic Turkey. At present only some 200,000 of them can be accounted for; and these are dying by hundreds in Transcaucasia in consequence of the terrible sufferings they have gone through since last spring.

75

20. VAN: INTERVIEW WITH A REFUGEE, MRS. GAZARIAN, PUBLISHED IN THE “PIONEER PRESS,” OF ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA, U.S.A.

A story of the flight of terror-stricken Armenians from the city of Van, from the persecution of the Turks who massacred thousands of Armenian women and children and forced the men into their armies, was told last night by Mrs. Sylvia Gazarian. She has just arrived from Armenia after suffering great hardships and persecution during a journey through Russia, and is with her son, Levon Gazarian, a North St. Paul piano builder.

Mrs. Gazarian during her flight saw her husband die of typhoid fever, and left seven of her grandchildren lying along the roadside, victims of starvation and exhaustion. Her son Edward, a Red Cross surgeon, made the journey with Mrs. Gazarian. He is at his brother’s home here.

Mrs. Gazarian founded the Christian school at Van, and devoted many years to educating Armenian children. Her story, which is perhaps the first uncensored news of the cruelties inflicted by the Turks in Armenia, was told through Arsen K. Nakashian, an interpreter:—

“I spent a month in Van while our school was the target of the Turks. I saw them kill, burn and persecute,” she said. “I saw our town become a part of a barren waste. I saw Turks bury Armenian victims with the dogs, divide the women among them as wives and throw babies into the lake. The school was burned, the missionaries fled, and 35,000 of the 75,000 inhabitants of the Van district were killed or starved to death.

“Djevdet Bey, Governor-General of Van, started the whole trouble when, early in April, 1915, he demanded that the Armenians should support the Turkish army.

“When the Armenians resisted, Djevdet Bey ordered them to be shot. He demanded that we and the American and German missionaries should leave Van and seek protection from the Turkish Government. We all refused. Our valley had been a garden. The Turks did their worst to make it a morgue.

“For miles around the Armenians congregated at Van, drove out the Turks and made trenches. Stones, earth and sand-bags were piled over the school buildings. The Turks attacked, and for more than a month in April and May kept up a steady fire.

“Finally the Russians came. We were under their protection for a month. The Turks, fleeing before the Russians, killed all Armenian prisoners and wounded.

“Russian treachery became evident when they evacuated the town. They pillaged every standing home. When we demanded that they should stay and protect us, the general said: ‘If you don’t want us to leave you, come along.’

“Only old men and feeble women refused the invitation. Fifteen grandchildren of mine, three daughters and their husbands, my son and myself made up our forlorn party. We travelled 76towards Russia on foot. There was no other way to go. We walked for twelve days—like dead men and women. As far ahead as we could see, there were women carrying or dragging their babies and wounded men staggering along at their sides. Death was common.

“First one and then another of the children died. Typhoid was doing its work everywhere. We buried the babies where we happened to be. Seven of them in all died on the journey. When we arrived at Tiflis my husband died.

“More than a month ago my son and I started for Northern Russia. Round the Caucasus mountains, across the Russian steppes and into Moscow, where the Russian troops were assembled in thousands, we went by train.

“Every Russian official wanted money, and we paid. We reached Archangel on the Arctic ocean and started for America.”

Just as the woman finished her story her son Edward came in.

“Germany is responsible for the cruelty in Armenia,” he declared: “She is not a friend but an enemy of Turkey. She covets the Dardanelles. She aims at making Turkey a German province; but she knows the power of the Armenians, and she wants Turkey without them. That is why she permits the Turks to burn, murder and ravage. The young Turks are educated criminals. They are worse than the older ones. America is beautiful and peaceful. We will always live here.”

79

III.
VILAYET OF BITLIS.

The Vilayet of Bitlis lies due west of Van, across the Lake. The chief Armenian centres in the province were the town of Bitlis itself, commanding the principal pass leading from the lake-basin to the upper valley of the Tigris; the town and villages of Moush, situated in the only considerable plain along the course of the Mourad Su or Eastern Euphrates; and the semi-independent highland community of Sassoun, a group of Armenian villages in the massif of mountains which separates Moush from the headwaters of the Tigris and the lowlands of Diyarbekir.

The extermination of the Armenians in these three places was an act of revenge for the successful resistance of the Armenians at Van and the advance of the Russian forces to their relief. There was no pretence here of deportation, and the Armenians were destroyed, without regard for appearances, by outright massacre, accompanied in many cases by torture.

80

21. THE NORTH-EASTERN VILAYETS: STATEMENT COMMUNICATED BY THE REFUGEE ROUPEN, OF SASSOUN, TO THE ARMENIAN COMMUNITY AT MOSCOW; PUBLISHED IN THE RUSSIAN PRESS, AND SUBSEQUENTLY REPRINTED IN THE “GAZETTE DE LAUSANNE,” 13th FEBRUARY, 1916.

At the beginning of the European war, the “Dashnaktzoutioun” Party met in congress at Erzeroum in order to decide on the attitude to be observed by the Party. As soon as they heard of this congress, the Young Turks hastened to send their representatives to Erzeroum to propose that the Party should declare its intention of aiding and defending Turkey, by organising an insurrection in the Caucasus in the event of a declaration of war between Turkey and Russia. According to the project of the Young Turks, the Armenians were to pledge themselves to form legions of volunteers and to send them to the Caucasus with the Turkish propagandists, to prepare the way there for the insurrection.

The Young Turk representatives had already brought their propagandists with them to Erzeroum—27 individuals of Persian, Turkish, Lesghian and Circassian nationality. Their chief was Emir Hechmat, who is at present organising bands of rebels at Hamadan (Persia). The Turks tried to persuade the Armenians that the Caucasian insurrection was inevitable; that very shortly the Tatars, Georgians and mountaineers would revolt, and that the Armenians would consequently be obliged to follow them.

They even sketched the future map of the Caucasus.

The Turks offered to the Georgians the provinces of Koutais and of Tiflis, the Batoum district and a part of the province of Trebizond; to the Tatars, Shousha, the mountain country as far as Vladivkavkaz, Bakou, and a part of the province of Elisavetpol; to the Armenians they offered Kars, the province of Erivan, a part of Elisavetpol, a fragment of the province of Erzeroum, Van and Bitlis. According to the Young Turk scheme, all these groups were to become autonomous under a Turkish protectorate. The Erzeroum Congress refused these proposals, and advised the Young Turks not to hurl themselves into the European conflagration—a dangerous adventure which would lead Turkey to ruin.

The Young Turks were irritated by this advice.

“This is treason!” cried Boukhar-ed-Din-Shakir, one of the delegates from Constantinople: “You take sides with Russia in a moment as critical as this; you refuse to defend the Government; you forget that you are enjoying its hospitality!”

But the Armenians held to their decision.

Once more before the outbreak of war between Russia and Turkey, the Young Turks tried to obtain the Armenians’ support. This time they opened their pourparlers with more moderate proposals, and negotiated with the Armenian representatives of each Vilayet. At Van, the pourparlers were conducted by the 81provincial governor Tahsin Bey, and by Nadji Bey; at Moush, by Servet Bey and Iskhan Bey (this latter is at present a prisoner of war in Russia); at Erzeroum, by the same Tahsin Bey and by others.

The project of an Armenian rising in the Caucasus was abandoned. Instead, the Ottoman Armenians were to unite themselves with the Transcaucasian Tatars, whose insurrection was, according to the Young Turks, a certainty.

Once more the Armenians refused.

From the moment war broke out, the Armenian soldiers had presented themselves for service at their regimental depôts, but they refused categorically to form irregular bands. On the whole, up to the end of 1914, the situation in Armenia was quiet. But when the Turks had been expelled from Bayazid and driven back in the direction of Van and Moush, their fury turned upon the Armenians, whose co-religionists in the Caucasus had formed themselves into volunteer legions under the leadership of Andranik and other patriotic leaders, and had been giving aid to the enemy.

It was then that the disarming of Armenian soldiers, gendarmes and members of the other services began. The disarmed Armenian soldiers were formed into groups of a thousand each, and sent into different districts to build bridges, dig trenches and work at the fortresses.

At the same time the wholesale massacres began. The first victims fell at Diyarbekir, Erzeroum and Bitlis. Soldiers, women and children, both in the towns and villages, were slaughtered en masse. By the end of last January the massacres had extended over the whole of Armenia. In the Armenian villages, the whole male population above the age of twelve was led out in batches and shot before the eyes of the women and children.

The first movement of revolt declared itself towards the beginning of February, at Koms. Seventy Turkish gendarmes had arrived there with orders to massacre the chief men of the place, and among them Roupen and Gorioun. When the Armenians learned their purpose, they threw themselves upon the gendarmes and killed them all. They proceeded to take the local governor prisoner, and found on him the following order from the governor of Moush:—

“Execute the decision communicated verbally to you.”

On the same day the leading Armenians retired into the mountains, where they were joined by the young men under arms from the district of Moush.

Two thousand Turks, commanded by Mehmed Effendi, took the offensive against them, but were annihilated by the Armenians.

This was how the revolt in Armenia began.

The Government saw that the insurrection was spreading, 82and announced the suspension of the process of disarmament, rescinding at the same time the order for the deportation and extermination of the people of Sassoun. A commission of enquiry was appointed, consisting of Essad Pasha, the Kaimakam of Boulanik, the President of the Military Tribunal at Moush, and Mr. V. Papazian, an Armenian member of the Ottoman Parliament.

The commission found that the gendarmes were the whole cause of the trouble between the Armenians and the Turks, and the Government promised to put an end to the reprisals. Talaat Bey telegraphed from Constantinople that the representatives of the Armenians were not to be molested.

Quiet was re-established for the moment, but in the month of May the Turks attempted to force their way into Sassoun, and at the same time the massacres began again without warning at Harpout, Erzeroum and Diyarbekir. The Armenians repulsed the Turks and took up a position round the town of Moush, where a large number of Turkish troops were concentrated. This was the situation when the Turks perpetrated the great massacre of Moush at the end of June. Half the inhabitants of Moush were massacred, the other half were driven out of the town. The Armenians never knew that at that moment the Russian troops were only two or three hours’ distance from Moush.

The massacres extended over the whole plain of Moush. The Armenians, who had managed to retreat on to the heights of Sassoun with a remnant of their forces and a slender supply of munitions, attacked the Turks in the valleys and gorges of Sassoun, and inflicted considerable losses upon them. A fraction of the Armenians who escaped the massacre broke through the Turkish lines and reached Van, which was already in the hands of the Russian troops.

The number of Armenian victims is very large. In the town of Moush alone, out of the 15,000 Armenian inhabitants there are only 200 survivors; out of the 59,000 inhabitants of the plain hardly 9,000 have escaped.

83

22. BITLIS, MOUSH AND SASSOUN: RECORD OF AN INTERVIEW WITH ROUPEN, OF SASSOUN, BY MR. A.S. SAFRASTIAN; DATED TIFLIS, 6th NOVEMBER, 1915.

At the moment of writing, there is very little doubt that during the months of June and July last the Turks have almost completely wiped out about 150,000 Armenians of Bitlis, Moush and Sassoun.

When a detailed account of the horrors which accompanied these massacres is fully disclosed to the civilised world, it will stand out in all history as the greatest masterpiece of brutality ever committed, even by the Turk. A short description of these horrors was given to me by Roupen, one of the leaders in Sassoun, who has miraculously escaped the Turkish lines after long marches across Moush and Lake Van and has been here for the last few days. As soon as the Turks went into the war, they entered into negotiations with the Armenian leaders in Moush and Sassoun with a view to co-operating for the common defence. The Turkish representatives, however, laid down such conditions as a basis for agreement that the Armenians could scarcely entertain them as serious. Until January things had gone on fairly smoothly, and the Armenians were advised by their leaders to comply with all legitimate demands made by the authorities. On the failure of negotiations, the Turks adopted hard measures against the Armenians. They had already ruthlessly requisitioned every commodity they possibly could lay hands on, and now they demanded the surrender of their arms from the peasantry. The Armenians said that they could not give up their arms while the Kurds were left armed to the teeth and went about unmolested. Towards the end of January, a Turkish gendarme provoked a quarrel in Tzeronk, a large Armenian village some 20 miles west of Moush, where some 70 people were killed and the village destroyed. Soon afterwards, another quarrel was started by gendarmes in Koms (Goms), a village on the Euphrates, where the Turks wanted to raise forced labour for the transport of military supplies. As a previous batch of men employed on similar work had never returned home, the peasants grew suspicious and refused to go. Local passion ran high, and the Turks desired to arrest one Gorioun, a native of considerable bravery, who had avenged himself upon Mehmed Emin, a Kurdish brigand, who had ruined his home in the past. All such conflicts of a local character were settled in one way or another by negotiation between the authorities and the leaders of the Dashnaktzoutioun party. In the meantime, Kurdish irregulars and Moslem bands, who were just returning from the battle of Kilidj Geduk, where they had been roughly handled by the Russians, began to harry the Armenians all over the country to the limit of their endurance. In answer to protests, the authorities explained away the grievances and gave all assurances of good-will towards the Armenians, who naturally did not believe in them.

84The Massacres at Sairt and Bitlis.—Towards the end of May, Djevdet Bey, the military governor, was expelled from Van, and the town was captured by the native Armenians[40] and then by the Russo-Armenian forces. Djevdet Bey fled southwards and, crossing the Bohtan, entered Sairt with some 8,000 soldiers whom he called “Butcher” battalions (Kassab Tabouri). He massacred most of the Christians of Sairt, though nothing is known of the details. On the best authority, however, it is reported that he ordered his soldiers to burn in a public square the Armenian Bishop Yeghishé Vartabed and the Chaldean Bishop Addai Sher. Then Djevdet Bey, followed by the small army of Halil Bey, marched on Bitlis towards the middle of June. Before his arrival, the Armenians and Kurds of Bitlis had agreed upon a scheme for mutual protection in case of any emergency, but Djevdet Bey had his own plans for exterminating the Armenians. He first raised a ransom of £5,000 from them, and then hanged Hokhigian and some 20 other Armenian leaders, most of whom were attending the wounded in field hospitals. On the 25th June, the Turks surrounded the town of Bitlis and cut its communications with the neighbouring Armenian villages; then most of the able-bodied men were taken away from their families by domiciliary visits. During the following few days, all the men under arrest were shot outside the town and buried in deep trenches dug by the victims themselves. The young women and children were distributed among the rabble, and the remainder, the “useless” lot, were driven to the south and are believed to have been drowned in the Tigris. Any attempts at resistance, however brave, were easily quelled by the regular troops. The recalcitrants, after firing their last cartridges, either took poison by whole families or destroyed themselves in their homes, in order not to fall into the hands of Turks. Some hundred Armenian families in the town, all of them artisans or skilled labourers badly needed by the military authorities, were spared during this massacre, but since then there has been no news of their fate.

It is in such “gentlemanly” fashion that the Turks disposed of about 15,000 Armenians at Bitlis; and the Armenian peasantry of Rahva, Khoultig, and other populous villages of the surrounding district suffered the same fate.

The Massacres in Moush.—Long before this horror had been perpetrated at Bitlis, the Turks and Kurds of Diyarbekir, followed by the most blood-thirsty tribes of Bekran and Belek, had wiped out the Armenians of Slivan, Bisherig, and of the vast plain extending from Diyarbekir to the foot of the Sassoun block. Some thousands of refugees had escaped to Sassoun, as the only haven of safety amid a sea of widespread terror. They told the people of Sassoun and Moush of the enormities which had been committed upon themselves. The line of conduct to be adopted by the Armenians was now obvious. The Turks were resolved to 85destroy them, and therefore they had to make the best of a hopeless situation by all means at their disposal. Roupen tells me that they had no news whatever as to the progress of the war on the Caucasian front, and that the Turks spread false news to mislead them. The general peace was maintained in the Province of Bitlis until the beginning of June, when things came to a climax. The outlying villages of Boulanik and Moush had already been massacred in May. Now Sassoun was attacked in two main directions. The Kurdish tribes of Belek, Bekran, and Shego, the notorious Sheikh of Zilan and many others were armed by the Government and ordered to surround Sassoun. The 15,000 Armenians of these mountains, re-inforced by some other 15,000 from Moush and Diyarbekir, repelled many fierce attacks, in which the Kurds lost heavily, both in men and arms; whereupon the Government again entered into negotiations with the Armenian leaders, through the Bishop of Moush, and offered them a general amnesty if they laid down their arms and joined in the defence of the common fatherland. And, as a proof of their genuineness, the authorities explained away the massacres of Slivan, Boulanik, &c., as due to a deplorable misunderstanding. Oppressions suddenly ceased everywhere, and perfect order prevailed in Moush for about three weeks in June. A strict watch, however, was kept over the movements of the Armenians, and they were forbidden to concentrate together. In the last week of June, one Kiazim Bey arrived from Erzeroum with at least 10,000 troops and mountain artillery to reinforce the garrison at Moush. The day after his arrival strong patrols were posted on the hills overlooking the town of Moush, thus cutting all communication between Moush and Sassoun. Kurdish bands of “fedais” and gendarmes were commissioned to sever all intercourse between various villages and the town of Moush, so that no one knew what was going on even in the immediate neighbourhood.

Early in July, the authorities ordered the Armenians to surrender their arms, and pay a large money ransom. The leading Armenians of the town and the headmen of the villages were subjected to revolting tortures. Their finger nails and then their toe nails were forcibly extracted; their teeth were knocked out, and in some cases their noses were whittled down, the victims being thus done to death under shocking, lingering agonies. The female relatives of the victims who came to the rescue were outraged in public before the very eyes of their mutilated husbands and brothers. The shrieks and death-cries of the victims filled the air, yet they did not move the Turkish beast. The same process of disarmament was carried out in the large Armenian villages of Khaskegh, Franknorshen, &c., and on the slightest show of resistance men and women were done to death in the manner described above. On the 10th July, large contingents of troops, followed by bands of criminals released from the prisons, began to round up the able-bodied men from all the villages. In the 86100 villages of the plain of Moush most of the villagers took up any arms they possessed and offered a desperate resistance in various favourable positions. In the natural order of things the ammunition soon gave out in most villages, and there followed what is perhaps one of the greatest crimes in all history. Those who had no arms and had done nothing against the authorities were herded into various camps and bayoneted in cold blood.

In the town of Moush itself the Armenians, under the leadership of Gotoyan and others, entrenched themselves in the churches and stone-built houses and fought for four days in self-defence. The Turkish artillery, manned by German officers, made short work of all the Armenian positions. Every one of the Armenians, leaders as well as men, was killed fighting; and when the silence of death reigned over the ruins of churches and the rest, the Moslem rabble made a descent upon the women and children and drove them out of the town into large camps which had already been prepared for the peasant women and children. The ghastly scenes which followed may indeed sound incredible, yet these reports have been confirmed from Russian sources beyond all doubt.

The shortest method for disposing of the women and children concentrated in the various camps was to burn them. Fire was set to large wooden sheds in Alidjan, Megrakom, Khaskegh, and other Armenian villages, and these absolutely helpless women and children were roasted to death. Many went mad and threw their children away; some knelt down and prayed amid the flames in which their bodies were burning; others shrieked and cried for help which came from nowhere. And the executioners, who seem to have been unmoved by this unparalleled savagery, grasped infants by one leg and hurled them into the fire, calling out to the burning mothers: “Here are your lions.” Turkish prisoners who had apparently witnessed some of these scenes were horrified and maddened at remembering the sight. They told the Russians that the stench of the burning human flesh permeated the air for many days after.

Under present circumstances it is impossible to say how many Armenians, out of a population of 60,000 in the plain of Moush, are left alive; the one fact which can be recorded at present is that now and then some survivors escape through the mountains and reach the Russian lines to give further details of the unparalleled crime perpetrated in Moush during July.

The Massacres in Sassoun.—While the “Butcher” battalions of Djevdet Bey and the regulars of Kiazim Bey were engaged in Bitlis and Moush, some cavalry were sent to Sassoun early in July to encourage the Kurds who had been defeated by the Armenians at the beginning of June. The Turkish cavalry invaded the lower valley of Sassoun and captured a few villages after stout fighting. In the meantime the reorganised Kurdish tribes attempted to close on Sassoun from the south, west, and north. During the last fortnight of July almost incessant fighting 87went on, sometimes even during the night. On the whole, the Armenians held their own on all fronts and expelled the Kurds from their advanced positions. However, the people of Sassoun had other anxieties to worry about. The population had doubled since their brothers who had escaped from the plains had sought refuge in their mountains; the millet crop of the last season had been a failure; all honey, fruit, and other local produce had been consumed, and the people had been feeding on unsalted roast mutton (they had not even any salt to make the mutton more sustaining); finally, the ammunition was in no way sufficient for the requirements of heavy fighting. But the worst had yet to come. Kiazim Bey, after reducing the town and the plain of Moush, rushed his army to Sassoun for a new effort to overwhelm these brave mountaineers. Fighting was renewed on all fronts throughout the Sassoun district. Big guns made carnage among the Armenian ranks. Roupen tells me that Gorioun, Dikran, and 20 other of their best fighters were killed by a single shell, which burst in their midst. Encouraged by the presence of guns, the cavalry and Kurds pushed on with relentless energy.

The Armenians were compelled to abandon the outlying lines of their defence and were retreating day by day into the heights of Antok, the central block of the mountains, some 10,000 feet high. The non-combatant women and children and their large flocks of cattle greatly hampered the free movements of the defenders, whose number had already been reduced from 3,000 to about half that figure. Terrible confusion prevailed during the Turkish attacks as well as the Armenian counterattacks. Many of the Armenians smashed their rifles after firing the last cartridge and grasped their revolvers and daggers. The Turkish regulars and Kurds, amounting now to something like 30,000 altogether, pushed higher and higher up the heights and surrounded the main Armenian position at close quarters. Then followed one of those desperate and heroic struggles for life which have always been the pride of mountaineers. Men, women and children fought with knives, scythes, stones, and anything else they could handle. They rolled blocks of stone down the steep slopes, killing many of the enemy. In a frightful hand-to-hand combat, women were seen thrusting their knives into the throats of Turks and thus accounting for many of them. On the 5th August, the last day of the fighting, the blood-stained rocks of Antok were captured by the Turks. The Armenian warriors of Sassoun, except those who had worked round to the rear of the Turks to attack them on their flanks, had died in battle. Several young women, who were in danger of falling into the Turks hands, threw themselves from the rocks, some of them with their infants in their arms. The survivors have since been carrying on a guerilla warfare, living only on unsalted mutton and grass. The approaching winter may have disastrous consequences for the remnants of the Sassounli Armenians, because they have nothing to eat and no means of defending themselves.


40. See preceding section.

88

23. MOUSH: STATEMENT BY A GERMAN EYE-WITNESS OF OCCURRENCES AT MOUSH; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

Towards the end of October (1914), when the Turkish war began, the Turkish officials started to take everything they needed for the war from the Armenians. Their goods, their money, all was confiscated. Later on, every Turk was free to go to an Armenian shop and take out what he needed or thought he would like to have. Only a tenth perhaps was really for the war, the rest was pure robbery. It was necessary to have food, &c., carried to the front, on the Caucasian frontier. For this purpose the Government sent out about 300 old Armenian men, many cripples amongst them, and boys not more than twelve years old, to carry the goods—a three weeks’ journey from Moush to the Russian frontier. As every individual Armenian was robbed of everything he ever had, these poor people soon died of hunger and cold on the way. They had no clothes at all, for even these were stolen on the way. If out of these 300 Armenians thirty or forty returned, it was a marvel; the rest were either beaten to death or died from the causes stated above.

The winter was most severe in Moush; the gendarmes were sent to levy high taxes, and as the Armenians had already given everything to the Turks, and were therefore powerless to pay these enormous taxes, they were beaten to death. The Armenians never defended themselves except when they saw the gendarmes ill-treating their wives and children, and the result in such cases was that the whole village was burnt down, merely because a few Armenians had tried to protect their families.

Toward the middle of April we heard rumours that there were great disturbances in Van. We have heard statements both from Turks and from Armenians, and as these reports agree in every respect, it is quite plain that there is some truth in them. They state that the Ottoman Government sent orders that all Armenians were to give up their arms, which the Armenians refused to do on the ground that they required their arms in case of necessity. This caused a regular massacre. All villages inhabited by Armenians were burnt down. The Turks boasted of having now got rid of all the Armenians. I heard it from the officers myself, how they revelled in the thought that the Armenians had been got rid of.

Thus the winter passed, with things happening every day more terrible than one can possibly describe. We then heard that massacres had started in Bitlis. In Moush everything was being prepared for one, when the Russians arrived at Liz, which is about 14 to 16 hours’ journey from Moush. This occupied the attention of the Turks, so that the massacre was put off for the time being. Hardly had the Russians left Liz, however, when all the districts inhabited by Armenians were pillaged and destroyed.

89This was in the month of May. At the beginning of June, we heard that the whole Armenian population of Bitlis had been got rid of. It was at this time that we received news that the American Missionary, Dr. Knapp, had been wounded in an Armenian house and that the Turkish Government had sent him to Diyarbekir. The very first night in Diyarbekir he died, and the Government explained his death as a result of having overeaten, which of course nobody believed.

When there was no one left in Bitlis to massacre, their attention was diverted to Moush. Cruelties had already been committed, but so far not too publicly; now, however, they started to shoot people down without any cause, and beat them to death simply for the pleasure of doing so. In Moush itself, which is a big town, there are 25,000 Armenians; in the neighbourhood there are 300 villages, each containing about 500 houses. In all these not a single male Armenian is now to be seen, and hardly a woman either, except for a few here and there.

In the first week of July 20,000 soldiers arrived from Constantinople by way of Harpout with munitions and eleven guns, and laid siege to Moush. As a matter of fact, the town had already been beleaguered since the middle of June. At this stage the Mutessarif gave orders that we should leave the town and go to Harpout. We pleaded with him to let us stay, for we had in our charge all the orphans and patients; but he was angry and threatened to remove us by force if we did not do as instructed. As we both fell sick, however, we were allowed to remain at Moush. I received permission, in the event of our leaving Moush, to take the Armenians of our orphanage with us; but when we asked for assurances of their safety, his only reply was: “You can take them with you, but being Armenians their heads may and will be cut off on the way.”

On the 10th July Moush was bombarded for several hours, on the pretext that some Armenians had tried to escape. I went to see the Mutessarif and asked him to protect our buildings; his reply was: “It serves you right for staying instead of leaving as instructed. The guns are here to make an end of Moush. Take refuge with the Turks.” This, of course, was impossible, as we could not leave our charges. Next day a new order was promulgated for the expulsion of the Armenians, and three days’ grace was given them to make ready. They were told to register themselves at the Government Building before they left. Their families could remain, but their property and their money were to be confiscated. The Armenians were unable to go, for they had no money to defray the journey, and they preferred to die in their houses rather than be separated from their families and endure a lingering death on the road.

As stated above, three days’ grace was given to the Armenians, but two hours had scarcely elapsed when the soldiers began breaking into the houses, arresting the inmates and throwing them into 90prison. The guns began to fire and thus the people were effectually prevented from registering themselves at the Government Building. We all had to take refuge in the cellar for fear of our orphanage catching fire. It was heart-rending to hear the cries of the people and children who were being burnt to death in their houses. The soldiers took great delight in hearing them, and when people who were out in the street during the bombardment fell dead, the soldiers merely laughed at them.

The survivors were sent to Ourfa (there were none left but sick women and children); I went to the Mutessarif and begged him to have mercy on the children at least, but in vain. He replied that the Armenian children must perish with their nation. All our people were taken from our hospital and orphanage; they left us three female servants. Under these atrocious circumstances, Moush was burnt to the ground. Every officer boasted of the number he had personally massacred as his share in ridding Turkey of the Armenian race.

We left for Harpout. Harpout has become the cemetery of the Armenians; from all directions they have been brought to Harpout to be buried. There they lie, and the dogs and the vultures devour their bodies. Now and then some man throws some earth over the bodies. In Harpout and Mezré the people have had to endure terrible tortures. They have had their eye-brows plucked out, their breasts cut off, their nails torn off; their torturers hew off their feet or else hammer nails into them just as they do in shoeing horses. This is all done at night time, and in order that the people may not hear their screams and know of their agony, soldiers are stationed round the prisons, beating drums and blowing whistles. It is needless to relate that many died of these tortures. When they die, the soldiers cry: “Now let your Christ help you.”

One old priest was tortured so cruelly to extract a confession that, believing that the torture would cease and that he would be left alone if he did it, he cried out in his desperation: “We are revolutionists.” He expected his tortures to cease, but on the contrary the soldiers cried: “What further do we seek? We have it here from his own lips.” And instead of picking their victims as they did before, the officials had all the Armenians tortured without sparing a soul.

Early in July, 2,000 Armenian soldiers were ordered to leave for Aleppo to build roads. The people of Harpout were terrified on hearing this, and a panic started in the town. The Vali sent for the German missionary, Mr. Ehemann, and begged him to quiet the people, repeating over and over again that no harm whatever would befall these soldiers. Mr. Ehemann took the Vali’s word and quieted the people. But they had scarcely left when we heard that they had all been murdered and thrown into a cave. Just a few managed to escape, and we got the reports from them. It was useless to protest to the Vali. The American 91Consul at Harpout protested several times, but the Vali makes no account of him, and treats him in a most shameful manner. A few days later another 2,000 Armenian soldiers were despatched via Diyarbekir, and, in order to hinder them the more surely from escaping, they were left to starve on the way, so that they had no strength left in them to flee. The Kurds were given notice that the Armenians were on the way, and the Kurdish women came with their butcher’s knives to help the men. In Mezré a public brothel was erected for the Turks, and all the beautiful Armenian girls and women were placed there. At night the Turks were allowed free entrance. The permission for the Protestant and Catholic Armenians to be exempted from deportation only arrived after their deportation had taken place. The Government wanted to force the few remaining Armenians to accept the Mohammedan faith. A few did so in order to save their wives and children from the terrible sufferings already witnessed in the case of others. The people begged us to leave for Constantinople and obtain some security for them. On our way to Constantinople we only encountered old women. No young women or girls were to be seen.

Already by November[41] we had known that there would be a massacre. The Mutessarif of Moush, who was a very intimate friend of Enver Pasha, declared quite openly that they would massacre the Armenians at the first opportune moment and exterminate the whole race. Before the Russians arrived they intended first to butcher the Armenians, and then fight the Russians afterwards. Towards the beginning of April, in the presence of a Major Lange and several other high officials, including the American and German Consuls, Ekran Bey quite openly declared the Government’s intention of exterminating the Armenian race. All these details plainly show that the massacre was deliberately planned.

In a few villages destitute women come begging, naked and sick, for alms and protection. We are not allowed to give them anything, we are not allowed to take them in, in fact we are forbidden to do anything for them, and they die outside. If only permission could be obtained from the authorities to help them! If we cannot endure the sight of these poor people’s sufferings, what must it be like for the sufferers themselves?

It is a story written in blood. Two old missionaries and a younger lady (an American) were sent away from Mardin. They were treated just like prisoners, dogged continually by the gendarmes, and were brought in this fashion to Sivas. For missionaries of that age a journey of this kind in the present circumstances was obviously a terrible hardship.


41. 1914.

92

24. MOUSH DISTRICT: NARRATIVE OF A DEPORTED WOMAN, RELATED BY HER TO MR. VARTKES OF MOUSH[42], RECORDED BY HIM ON THE 25th JULY, 1915, AND PUBLISHED SUBSEQUENTLY IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL “VAN-TOSP.”

To-day I heard a terrible story. All the Armenians who were deported from Moush were either killed or drowned in the Mourad River[43]. Among these were my mother and three sisters with their children. This news was brought to us by a woman who came here at midnight. We thought she was a ghost, as she seemed like one coming from the grave. She had saved her two-year-old boy.

She immediately asked for bread. We had not any, as we were living on raw grain and meat, but we gave her what we had. After she had had enough, we asked her all kinds of questions. She was from the village of Kheiban, and was one of the deported. This is what she told us:

“The Turks collected all the women and children of the villages of Sordar, Pazou, Hassanova, Salekan and Gvars, and after keeping them for five days they brought them to Ziaret. Here the inhabitants of Meghd, Baghlou, Ourough, Ziaret and Kheiban joined them, and they were all taken towards the bridge over the Mourad River. On the way the families from the villages of Dom, Hergerd, Norag, Aladin, Goms[44], Khashkhaldoukh, Souloukh, Khoronk, Kartzor, Kizil Agatch, Komer, Shekhlan, Avazaghpur, Plel and Kurdmeidan joined the party, making altogether a company of 8,000 to 10,000 people.

“All the old women and the weak who were unable to walk were killed. There were about one hundred Kurdish guards over us, and our lives depended on their pleasure. It was a very common thing for them to rape our girls in our presence. Very often they violated eight or ten-year-old girls, and as a consequence many would be unable to walk, and were shot.

“Our company moved on slowly, leaving heaps of corpses behind. Most of us were almost naked. When we passed by a village, all the Kurdish men and women would come and rob us as they pleased. When a Kurd fancied a girl, nothing would prevent him from taking her. The babies of those who were carried away were killed in our presence.

“They gave us bread once every other day, though many did not get even that. When all our provisions were gone, we gathered wheat from the fields and ate it. Many a mother lost her mind and dropped her baby by the wayside.

“Some succeeded in running away, and hid themselves in the fields among the wheat until it was dark. Those who were acquainted with the mountains of that region would thus escape and go back to seek their dear ones. Some went to Sassoun, hearing that it had not yet fallen, others were drowned in the 93Mourad River. I did not attempt to run away, as I had witnessed with my own eyes the assassination of my dear ones. I had a few piastres left, and hoped to live a few days longer.

“We heard on our way from the Kurds that Kurdish Chettis (bands of robbers) had collected all the inhabitants of Kurdmeidan and Shekhlan, about 500 women and children, and burnt them by the order of Rashid Effendi, the head of the Chettis.

“When we reached the Khozmo Pass, our guards changed their southerly direction and turned west, in the direction of the Euphrates. When we reached the boundary of the Ginj district our guards were changed, the new ones being more brutal. By this time our number was diminished by half. When we reached the boundary of Djabaghchour we passed through a narrow valley; here our guards ordered us to sit down by the river and take a rest. We were very thankful for this respite and ran towards the river to get a drink of water.

“After half-an-hour we saw a crowd of Kurds coming towards us from Djabaghchour. They surrounded us and ordered us to cross the river, and many obeyed. The report of the guns drowned the sounds of wailing and crying. In that panic I took my little boy on my back and jumped into the river. I was a good swimmer and succeeded in reaching the opposite shore of the Euphrates with my precious bundle unnoticed, and hid myself behind some undergrowth.

“By nightfall no one remained alive from our party. The Kurds left in the direction of Djabaghchour. At dusk I came out from my hiding place to a field in the vicinity and found some wheat, which I ate; then I followed the Euphrates in a northerly direction, and after great difficulty I reached the plain of Moush. I decided to go to the mountains of Sourp Garabed, as I had heard that there were many Armenians there. During the nights my boy was a great comfort to me. I felt that a living being was with me and fear lost its horror. I thank God I have seen the faces of Armenians again.”

The poor woman ended her story, and our hearts were stricken with sorrow, for we had loved ones among the unfortunate people of her convoy. Two days later her boy died from lack of nourishment, and after five days she was found by a party of patrolling Kurds and killed.

94

25. MOUSH: RESUMÉ OF INFORMATION FURNISHED BY REFUGEES IN THE CAUCASUS AND PUBLISHED IN THE CAUCASIAN PRESS, ESPECIALLY IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL “MSCHAK”; COMPILED BY MR. G.H. PAELIAN, AND COMMUNICATED BY HIM TO THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL “ARARAT,” OF LONDON, MARCH, 1916.

The following reports concerning the massacres and deportations in the region of Moush and Sassoun have come to hand from completely independent sources, yet it is remarkable to note how they confirm one another.

The massacres of Moush began on the 28th June (11th July), Sunday morning, and lasted until Monday night. They were organised by the Governors of Van and Bitlis and carried out in the presence of their representatives, among whom were Abdoullah Bey of Sipuk, Topal Ibrahim of Moush (tax collector), Hassan (tax collector), and the police hakim. Before the massacres, all the prominent Armenians underwent indescribable sufferings. They were flogged and their limbs twisted until their thumbs began to bleed. The day the peasants were arrested they wished to take Holy Communion first, but were refused. The monks of Saint Garabed and the prominent Armenians of the villages of Gvars, Sortra and Pazou were assassinated in the monastery. The perpetrators opened the tomb of Bishop Nerses Kharakhanian, with the hope of finding money. They took his shroud and put the body back in the tomb. Mehmed Effendi, the Ottoman deputy for Gendjé[45], collected about 40 women and children and killed them. Two hundred of the inhabitants of Moush were brought to the village of Shekhlan and thrown into the Mourad River. One hundred men from Sassoun, who surrendered, were imprisoned without food or drink. When they begged for bread, the Turkish inhabitants could not stand their wailing, and asked the Government either to give them bread or kill them. They were all killed about the middle of November.

Then the Government looked for the Armenians who had found refuge with some Kurds, and finding about 2,000 of them massacred them all. The fact is confirmed that Kegham Der Garabedian, the Ottoman deputy for Moush, was hanged. The property of the Armenians of Moush and Bitlis was sold by the Government, and all their sheep and cattle which were left with the Kurds were requisitioned by the army of Halil Bey.

According to reports from the Caucasus, the Turks gathered together about 5,000 Armenians by treachery and deception from 20 Armenian villages round the monastery of Saint Garabed at Moush and massacred them. This took place near the wall of the monastery. Before the massacre began, a German officer stood on the wall and harangued the Armenians to the effect that the Turkish Government had shown great kindness to, and had honoured, the Armenians, but that they were not satisfied and wanted autonomy; he then, by the report of a revolver, gave the 95signal for the general massacre. Among the massacred were two monks, one of them being the father superior of Sourp Garabed, Yeghishé Vartabed, who had a chance of escaping but did not wish to be separated from his flock and was killed with them. From the Sahajian district about 4,000 Armenians found refuge in the forests of the monastery, and fought against the attacking Turks and Kurds. They kept themselves alive on wheat, raw meat without salt, turtle, frogs, etc. Some of them finally surrendered, but no one knows the fate of the remainder. The monastery of St. Garabed was sacked and robbed. The Turks opened the tomb of St. Garabed and destroyed everything. They also discovered some secret chambers. Turkish chiefs took up their quarters in the monastery with imprisoned Armenian girls.

According to another report no one was spared in Moush, not even the orphans in the German Orphanage. Some of these were killed and others deported. The Rev. Krikor and Mr. Marcar Ghougasian, teachers in the German Orphanage, were killed, and only two escaped death, Miss Margarid Nalbandian and Miss Maritza Arisdakesian. These were graduates of the German Seminary at Mezré, and owe their lives to a kind German lady.

According to the reports of some Armenians who had found refuge in the forests of Sourp Garabed and finally made their way to the Caucasus, Hilmi Bey was appointed for the purpose of clearing the Armenian provinces of Armenians. This man reached Erzeroum on the 18th May, and then went to Khnyss, Boulanik, Khlat, etc., massacring every Armenian in these places. According to a letter, dated the 19th June (3rd July), written to one of these refugees, Hilmi Bey had three army corps (?) with him, a body of gendarmes, and the volunteers of Hadji Moussa Bey and Sheikh Hazret, who had come to Moush to massacre the Armenians. To these forces were added the Turkish mob of Moush, the Turkish refugees from Alashkerd and Badnotz, Keur Husein Pasha and Abd-ul-Medjid Bey. The massacres were directed by Governor Djevdet of Van, Commander Halil of Diliman, Governor Abd-ul-Khalak of Bitlis, and Governor Servet Bey of Moush. The order for massacre was given on the 28th June (11th July). According to Turkish Government statistics 120,000 Armenians were killed in this district.


42. At that time in hiding in the forests of Sourp Garabed.

43. Eastern Euphrates.

44. Koms.

45. Ginj (?)

96

26. BITLIS: LETTER DATED 14th OCTOBER, 1915, FROM A FOREIGN RESIDENT AT BITLIS TO A GERMAN OFFICIAL; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

From having seen you yesterday, I am assured that you will receive with kindly consideration what I feel obliged to write to you. It is about the women and children who still remain with us.

It might be well to relate first a few of the recent events bearing on the matter.

On the 23rd June the Armenian men of the city, including those on our premises, were led to prison. A few days later, when they began to take the women from the city, I called on the Vali and told him that I could not give up the girls of our school and the women who had come to me for protection. He said that Halil Bey had decided the matter in regard to the women, and that he himself had no power to alter that decision, but that he would leave those on our premises till the last. I wrote a letter to Halil Bey with the consent of the Vali, to whom I sent a copy. I received no answer.

The women and girls are now employed in the hospitals, and by this means we have been able to keep them until now. We have spoken with Djevdet Bey recently, but he gives us no assurance of their ultimate safety, and says that the children must go. Of our Protestant community, we have twenty-five teachers and pupils, twenty-five women and twelve children. Apart from these there are other women who are employed in the hospital, and about thirty orphans. The first orphans whom we received were brought to the school by Turkish officials, and since it appeared that the Government did not disapprove, we have received others and provide them with food and shelter. Much as we should like to save them all, we feel that we can only insist on keeping those of our community.

My heart is full of this subject. It is not my desire in any way to oppose the Government. Our superiors give us very definite instructions on this point before we come out. We all agreed here that since the Government thought it a necessary war measure that the men should be taken into exile, we could not refuse to give them up. But since that time I have witnessed so many things that seemed unnecessary, that the giving up of those entrusted to my care now seems a different matter. I am not saying that we can prevent their being taken—some of our women have already been taken from us—no one realises more than we do our own helplessness. But we are trying by every means in our power to save them. I plead with you for your help in this. I have wanted very much to see the Vali, but owing to Miss A.’s being ill I have had no interpreter.

We received word recently from Constantinople that the Government had informed our Ambassador that Protestant communities would not be molested, and that he had notified the 97consuls to that effect. But such orders have not been carried out here.

These women and children who are with us cannot possibly do harm to the Government—why must they be sent away to such a fate? If the hospital were removed, we could then be responsible for their support, until such time as it would be fitting to take them with us to Harpout. My first plan, in the event of their trying to take our girls, was to barricade the school building, and compel them to force their way in or set fire to the building. Death in that form would have been welcome to the girls under those circumstances. The plan was not practicable, and I am telling you only that you may understand how much we dread the fate that awaits them. When I suggested the plan to my associates, I met with some opposition, but Sister B. said: “If I were in your place I would do the same thing,” and suggested that she should take some of the women whom I could not accommodate in the school, to another building, and remain with them there. Her sympathetic understanding at that time was a great help to me. I have always had a great faith in Germany. Through Miss C. I learned to love her country. Somehow, I trust you as I trusted her, and I feel that you will do for us what she would have done had she been able. Both Miss A. and myself entreat you most earnestly that you will use what influence you can exert here, that we may keep these women and children with us.

Your companions are here and inform us that you will leave to-morrow. We regret that we shall not see you again, but enjoyed the opportunity of meeting you the one time.

99

IV.
AZERBAIJAN AND HAKKIARI.

The province of Azerbaijan lies immediately east of Van, across the Persian border, and consists principally of another and still larger inland basin, shut in by mountains which drain towards the central Lake of Urmia.

Though Azerbaijan is nominally a part of Persia, there are practically no Persians among its inhabitants. The majority of them are Shiah Mohammedans, speaking a Turkish dialect; but the parts west of the Lake, and especially the districts of Urmia and Salmas, are occupied by a Semitic Christian population, variously known as “Nestorians” (from their religion), “Syrians” (from their language) or “Chaldoeans” (from their race). They are descended from the former inhabitants of Mesopotamia, who were pushed into and over the mountains by Arab encroachment. A larger number of them is still left on the Ottoman side of the watershed, in the Hakkiari district round the headwaters of the Greater Zab, and further west, again, near the confluence of the Tigris and the Bohtan. In the two latter districts they are now in a minority as compared with their Kurdish neighbours, and Kurds are also interspersed among the Nestorians in the Urmia basin, especially towards the southern end of the Lake, but also on the west (Tergawar).

When, in the winter of 1914-15, the Turks took the offensive against the Russians on the Caucasian front, they sent a subsidiary army, reinforced by Kurdish tribesmen, into Azerbaijan. The weak Russian forces occupying the province retired northwards at the beginning of January, and the Turco-Kurdish invaders penetrated as far as Tabriz, while the Nestorian villages on the western side of Lake Urmia remained in their possession for nearly five months. The Russians were followed in their retreat by a considerable part of the Christian population, who suffered terrible hardships on their winter journey. Those that remained behind flocked into the town of Urmia, and were subject to all manner of atrocities during the twenty weeks that the Turks and Kurds controlled the place. The Russians completed the re-occupation of Azerbaijan in May, 1915; they entered the town of Urmia on the 24th May, five days after their first entry into Van, and freed the people of Salmas and Urmia from their oppressors. But they could not save the communities in the Zab district, who suffered in June the same fate as the Armenians of Bitlis, Moush and Sassoun; and when the Russians were compelled to evacuate Van again at the end of July, the panic spread from Van to Urmia, and a fresh stream of Nestorian refugees swelled the general exodus of Christians into the Russian Provinces of the Caucasus.

100

27. URMIA: STATEMENT BY THE REV. WILLIAM A. SHEDD, D.D., OF THE AMERICAN (PRESBYTERIAN) MISSION STATION AT URMIA; COMMUNICATED BY THE BOARD OF FOREIGN MISSIONS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE U.S.A.

Persia is not in the war, but the war has been in Persia ever since its beginning. Indeed, the military movements of Russia and of Turkey date back several years before its outbreak. The Turks in 1906 occupied a strip of territory along the Persian border extending from a point south-west of Soujboulak to a point west of Khoi. The purpose was no doubt to secure a boundary-line making it more possible to move troops from the Mosul region into Trans-Caucasia, as well as to make it easier to hold the frontier against any Russian attack. In 1911, the Turks evacuated this strip of territory and the whole boundary question was submitted to a mixed commission, on which the British and Russian Governments were represented as well as the Turkish and Persian. When war began in August, 1914, this commission had completed its work from the Persian Gulf to Salmas. The Russians, in connection with internal disturbances in Persia, occupied with their troops a number of cities in northern Persia. Tabriz was occupied in 1909; Urmia and Khoi in 1910. This measure enabled the Russians not only to control Persia, but also to secure the road from their rail-head at Djoulfa to Van through Khoi. When the Great War began, Russia was therefore in occupation.

Disturbances at once began along the border and at the beginning of October, 1914, a determined attack was made on Urmia, ostensibly by Kurds. It was afterwards clear, from statements made by Persians and Turks who were engaged in the attack, that the nucleus of the fighting force was made up of Turkish soldiers and that the attack was under the command of Turkish officers. It was also clear from statements made by Persians friendly with the Turks and unfriendly towards the Russians, that the result of success in this attack would have been the looting of the Christian population, with probable loss of life.

About a month after this attack, war was declared between Russia and Turkey. About the same time the Russians closed the Turkish Consulates at Urmia, Tabriz and Khoi, and expelled the Kurds and other Sunni Moslems from the villages near Urmia. Arms were given at the same time to some of the Christians. The Turks in response expelled several thousand Christians from adjoining regions in Turkey. These refugees were settled in the villages vacated by the Sunni Moslems who had been expelled. Turkish and Kurdish forces gathered along the frontier and especially to the south in the Soujboulak region.

In the latter part of December, two engagements took place—one 20 miles south of Urmia between Kurdish and Russian soldiers, in which the latter were successful; the other was at Miandoab, at the south end of Lake Urmia, in which the Russian 101forces, with some Persians, were routed by Turks and Kurds. About the same time Enver Pasha invaded Trans-Caucasia from Armenia at Sarikamysh in the Kars region. This threatened to cut off Russia’s communications with Persia, and orders were given for the evacuation of Tabriz, Urmia and Khoi. The evacuation of Urmia took place on the 2nd January, that of Salmas a day or two later, and that of Tabriz on the 5th. Meanwhile, the military situation in Trans-Caucasia had changed with the rout of Enver Pasha’s army, and Khoi was not evacuated.

For convenience it may be well to summarise the military events from the 1st January to the 1st June. Tabriz was occupied by the Turks and Kurds, but, about the 1st February, a crushing defeat a few miles north of Tabriz led to its sudden evacuation and to the flight of the Turkish forces back to Miandoab. The American Consul at Tabriz, the Hon. Gordon Paddock, with the very effective co-operation of the German Consul, who had previously been in the American Hospital under the protection of the American Consul, kept the city of Tabriz from loss of life and to a large extent from loss of property. The Turks collected large Kurdish forces from the Soujboulak region and from districts in eastern Turkey; these, together with a smaller force of Turkish regulars, moved through Urmia and Salmas against Khoi, joining Turkish forces from Van under Djevdet Bey. This campaign against Khoi lasted until the 1st March, and was unsuccessful. In March the Russian forces drove the Turks from Salmas and occupied this region. Affairs remained in this condition until April. In April the Van campaign of the Russians, with the aid of Armenian volunteers, began. A Turkish force of approximately 18,000 men with mountain guns under Halil Bey, an uncle of Enver Pasha, reached Urmia on the 16th April. They had come over the mountain passes from Mosul, having been sent from Constantinople by way of Aleppo to Mosul. Halil Bey was defeated in Salmas, and in May retreated towards Van. The Turkish forces were finally withdrawn from Urmia on the 20th May, and the Russians re-occupied that city on the 24th May. The region of Soujboulak was occupied by the Turks for some months longer, but the campaign in that region has no bearing on the Christian population, since there are no Christians in the region.

The Christian population in this region is partly Armenian and partly Nestorian—or Syrian, as they call themselves. The Armenian element consisted of four or five thousand in Tabriz, ten thousand or more in Salmas, a small number in Khoi, and some six or seven thousand in the Urmia district. The Nestorians, except for less than 2,000 in Salmas, all lived in the Urmia district. Including refugees from Turkey and the Armenians, there were in Urmia, at the beginning of 1915, not far from 35,000 Christians. The Syrians or Nestorians include not only members of the old Nestorian Church but also Protestants, 102members of the Russian Orthodox Church, and Roman Catholics—or Chaldeans, as the last are generally called. In Maragha there is a colony of Armenians numbering some hundreds. Excepting the Christians in Tabriz, Maragha, and the city of Urmia, the last numbering not more than 2,000, all these Christians live in villages, Mohammedans and Christians sometimes sharing a village between them and sometimes living in separate villages. These Mohammedan villagers belong to the Shiah sect but speak the Turkish language.

The evacuation of the Russians put all the Christians in peril. The Salmas Christians (except about 800), most of the Christians of Tabriz, and eight or ten thousand from Urmia fled with the retreating Russians. They left on the shortest notice, without preparation and in the heart of winter. Many perished by the way, mothers dying in childbirth, old men and women and little children falling by the way side from exhaustion. This fleeing army of refugees, increased in numbers by several thousand from the regions in Turkey between Khoi and Van, passed over the Russian border and scattered in the villages and towns of Trans-Caucasia. Many of them died of disease due to the privations and exposures of flight and life as refugees.

This flight left some 25,000 Christians in Urmia. All of these sought shelter from massacre. On the one hand the Kurds were pouring into the plain, urged on and followed by Turkish officers and troops; on the other hand the Moslem villagers set to work robbing and looting, killing men and women and outraging the women. Several thousand found refuge with friendly Mohammedans. Great credit is due to no small number of Moslems, most of them humble villagers and some men of higher rank, who protected the imperilled Christians. In some cases safety was bought by professing Mohammedanism, but many died as martyrs to the faith. In several places the Christians defended themselves, but the massacring was not confined to these. Villages that deliberately gave up their arms and avoided any conflict suffered as much as those that fought. The mass of the people fled to the city, and all, including the city people, took refuge in the mission compounds. The French Roman Catholic Mission sheltered about 3,000, and the compounds of the American Presbyterian Mission about 17,000. The latter were enlarged by joining up neighbouring yards and so enclosing in one connected compound, with only one gate for entrance and exit, some fifteen to twenty yards. The American flag was placed over the compounds of the American Mission, and here people were safe from massacre. The villages, in the meantime, with three or four exceptions, were a prey to plunder and destruction. Everything movable that possessed the least value was either carried away or destroyed.

During the months of Turkish occupation there was never a moment of real safety for the Christians. The most unremitting 103efforts on the part of the missionaries secured comparative safety within the city walls, so that the people were scattered to some extent from the Mission Compound; and a few villages, including two that were not plundered at the beginning, were kept comparatively safe through the efforts of the Persian Governor. Beyond these narrow limits the Christians could not go. This was shown by constant robberies and murders when Christians ventured forth. During this period the Turks were guilty not only of failure to protect the Christians effectively, but also of direct massacres under their orders. One hundred and seventy men thus massacred were buried by the American missionaries, their bodies lying in heaps where they had been shot down and stabbed, tied together and led out to be murdered by Turkish agents. These massacres took place on three different occasions. Once men were seized by Turkish officers in the French Mission and sent out from the Turkish headquarters to be killed; once there were men seized in a village which was under the protection of Turkish soldiers and had had its safety pledged repeatedly by the highest Turkish officials; and once there were men from just over the border in Turkey who had been forced to bring telegraph wire down to Urmia and were then taken out and killed. In each of these cases some escaped and crawled out, wounded and bloody, from the heaps of dead and dying, to find refuge with the American missionaries. Besides these, the Armenian soldiers in the Turkish army, previously to the arrival of Halil Bey, were shot. In Urmia, the total losses of this period, from the evacuation of the town by the Russians on the 2nd January until their return on the 24th May, were the murder of over one thousand people—men, women and children; the outraging of hundreds of women and girls of every age—from eight or nine years to old age; the total robbing of about five-sixths of the Christian population; and the partial or total destruction of about the same proportion of their houses. Over two hundred girls and women were carried off into captivity, to be forced to embrace Islam and to accept Mohammedan husbands. The Salmas district suffered quite as much as Urmia, excepting that the mass of the people fled with the Russian troops, and consequently the crimes against women were not so numerous. About 800 who remained in Salmas, most of whom were old people, with some of the poorer and younger women, were gathered together by Djevdet Bey before his withdrawal from Salmas and were massacred. This happened early in March. The Salmas villages were left in much the same condition as those of Urmia.

The relief work began before the evacuation. Unsettled conditions had frightened people, and many had brought their goods for safe keeping to the American missionaries. With the evacuation many more brought their property, whatever they could save from the general riot. The protection of those under the American flag and of others in the city and in Mohammedan 104homes was accomplished only by the most constant vigilance during all those months. It was necessary to feed thousands of the people, and over ten thousand people were fed for about six months. Many of the girls and women who were taken captive were found and returned to their homes; information was secured as to others, which led to their subsequent rescue. Conditions of life were such that it was impossible to prevent epidemics, those that carried off the largest number being typhoid and typhus. Both of these diseases were probably brought by Turkish soldiers cared for in the American Hospital. The total number who died of disease during the period of Turkish occupation was not less than four thousand. Of eighteen adults connected with the American Mission, thirteen had either typhus or typhoid, and three lost their lives. The French missionaries suffered just as severely, and were in greater peril of violence.

To assign guilt and analyse the causes of this terrible loss of life and property is not an altogether easy task. There is no class of Mohammedans that can be exempted from blame. The villagers joined in the looting and shared in the crimes of violence, and Persians of the higher class acquiesced in the outrages and shared in the plunder. The Kurds were in their natural element. The Turks not only gave occasion for all that happened, but were direct participants in the worst of the crimes. On the other hand, individuals of every class deserve credit. There were many villagers who showed only kindness. The Persian Governor made it possible, by his co-operation, for the American missionaries to do what they did; the Kurds responded to appeals for mercy and, in some cases, returned captive girls unsolicited and did other humane service. A few individual Turkish officers and a number of their soldiers took strong measures to keep order. One such officer saved the city from loot when riot had already begun. There were various causes; jealousy of the greater prosperity of the Christian population was one, and political animosity, race hatred and religious fanaticism all had a part. There was also a definite and determined, purpose and malice in the conduct of Turkish officials. It is certainly safe to say that a part of this outrage and ruin was directly due to the Turks, and that none of it would have taken place except for them.

The duty of Americans, and especially the missionaries, is not so much to apportion the blame as to repair the damages. The task in Persia is very great, but the opportunities are equally as great. The number of destitute persons has been increased by the influx of forty or fifty thousand refugees from Turkey—Nestorians who lived in the mountain region between Urmia and Van, and who were forced to flee from their homes by the Turks and Kurds. In outlying districts the men have been massacred, and those who have survived are mainly women and children; but from the mountain valleys, where the bulk of these people live, they were able to escape en masse.

105

28. FIRST EXODUS FROM URMIA, JANUARY, 1915: REPORT DATED 1st MARCH, 1915, FROM THE REVEREND ROBERT M. LABAREE, OF THE AMERICAN MISSION STATION AT TABRIZ, TO THE HON. F. WILLOUGHBY SMITH, U.S. CONSUL AT TIFLIS; COMMUNICATED BY THE BOARD OF FOREIGN MISSIONS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE U.S.A.

In view of your interest in the welfare of the Persian Christian refugees here in the Caucasus, and your efforts in their behalf, may I submit to you a report on their condition as I have seen it in my journey hither from Tabriz? Commissioned by the American Presbyterian Mission of West Persia to investigate the affairs of the many thousands who have fled recently from Persia into Russia in order to escape the cruel vengeance of the Kurdish border tribes, I left Tabriz over two weeks ago and have spent the intervening time visiting the various centres where these refugees are congregated. It is hard to estimate exactly the number of these refugees from Persia, for mingled with them are a multitude of fugitives from Turkey. The total number of all these unfortunates in the district of Erivan, where most of them have found refuge, was stated by a good authority to be seventy thousand. The Persian contingent is pretty consistently estimated at from fifteen to twenty thousand. The refugees from Turkey are almost entirely Armenian, and are being taken care of by the wealthy Armenians of this province through their well organised relief committees. Those from Persia are less fortunate, for a majority of them are Syrian; and, although the Armenians have been very generous to them also, they have no influential friends to speak in their behalf and minister to their needs. It is also safe to say that the fugitives from the Urmia plain are the most sadly in need of assistance, for they had no previous warning of the impending disaster, and most of them have come out without any preparation whatever for their prolonged sojourn in a strange land.

I doubt whether the story of that awful flight can ever adequately be told. Few tales that I have ever heard can compare with it in heart-rending interest. The whole northern section of the Urmia plain learned of the departure of the Russian troops about ten o’clock on the night of Saturday, the 2nd January (1915). By midnight the terrible exodus had begun, and by morning the Christian villages of that district were practically deserted. People left their cattle in the stables and all their household goods in their homes, just as they were, and hurried away to save their lives. If anyone possessed a horse or a donkey or any other beast of burden he was fortunate, and if he happened to have ready cash in his home he was even more so; but, well-to-do as a man may be, cash is not always on hand in the villages, and so many who, according to the standards of the country, were rich, started on their long journey with a mere pittance, and the vast majority of men and women 106and children were on foot. Before the seven days’ hard walking through the slush and mud to the Russian border was accomplished, all encumbrances were cast aside, quilts, extra clothing, and even bread, for it became a question with the poor, tired, struggling crowd which they would carry—their bedding or their babies. Of course, very many of the weaker ones never reached Djoulfa at all, but lay down by the roadside for their last long rest, and those who did reach the Russian border were so haggard and emaciated that their own friends did not recognise them. Almost worse than the weary tramping by day, in the most terrible mud, were the nights in the villages by the way. Every possible shelter was so crowded that there was no room whatever to lie down, and the air became so foul before morning that the occupants were nearly suffocated; and yet those who could find no shelter and lay out all night in the wet were even more miserable. As one has heard the same sad story repeated a score of times with only a difference in details, one has wondered what human flesh and blood can stand in a great crisis like this. I should like to give two instances that have come under my personal knowledge; such stories might be multiplied a thousand times.

One old man with two daughters-in-law and six grandchildren started on that fatal night from the village of Karagöz. All were afoot, and the women carried their little ones by turns, while the old man stumbled along as best he could, unable to carry any burden. He at last gave out, lay down by the roadside and died. The two women and their little charges pressed on for a day or two longer, when one of them gave birth to a baby, also by the roadside. The mother tore off her dress, wrapped the baby in the pieces and resumed the weary tramp. Fortunately for them, the two women found their husbands waiting for them in Russian Djoulfa; but, alas, in the new complications arising from the coming of the baby two of the other children were separated from the party and lost. Two days the parents waited in Djoulfa, until a wagon-load of little waifs was brought in by kind-hearted soldiers. They found their two little ones among the number, but so emaciated by their hardships that they died shortly afterwards. People dying and children being born by the way are commonplaces of this journey; but it is not every one that has had a combination of such misfortunes.

Here, again, is another instance no less sad. The pastor of our Cosi congregation set out, as others did, in the dark, together with his wife, married daughter, and five-year-old granddaughter; but he became separated from them very soon, so that the women were compelled to make the journey alone. They reached the town of Nahichevan, in Russian territory, with hundreds of others in a wholly exhausted condition. All three of them were sick and were taken to the local hospital, where a few days later the father of the family found them. But shortly afterwards, 107when the thousands of refugees were cleared out of the town and scattered in the villages, he was forced to leave, and his family have not seen him since. The daughter and grandchild were dismissed from the hospital, and the old mother, rather than remain alone, sick as she was, left also. For five days they stayed with a crowd of others in the railway station, when they were moved on to another village; and there, the old woman’s dysentery having become so bad and the little girl having developed the prevailing scarlet fever, they were taken to the village hospital. I found them there a couple of weeks later, or rather the younger woman and her child; the mother had passed away two hours before I arrived. I buried the dear old woman, in whose house I have been many times. I gave her a better funeral than most of the other dying refugees; but it was only a rough coffin with shavings as a pillow for her poor tired head. And then, with a little money put into the hand of the daughter and a promise to do what I could to find her father, I left her, dazed as a woman in a dream, and came away. The father cannot be found, and I fear that he has dropped down in some unknown spot and died.

I have wondered time and time again whether this panic-stricken flight was not some terrible mistake, and whether the people had not better have stayed at home and cast themselves on the mercies of the Kurds and their Moslem neighbours; but as the stories of the sufferings of those who remained behind begin to reach us—stories of bloodshed and forced apostacy, and of women and girls carried off to a life worse than death—I have revised my judgment. Even all this untold misery by the way and in a strange land is better than the fate of those who remained at home.

But I must pass on to report the conditions as they now exist among the refugees. In my effort to get the facts, I have had interviews with the Exarch (the Metropolitan Bishop of Tiflis), the Governor of the Erivan district, the Armenian Bishops of Tabriz (now in Nahichevan) and of Erivan, members of the various relief committees and the village elders, who act as local relief committees, together with a very large number of the refugees themselves in various sections of the province. Whatever one may find to criticise in the administration of relief, one cannot but recognise the tremendous burden that has descended upon the people of this region and the serious problems they have had to face. While one cannot say that there has been an adequate effort to grapple with the difficulties, yet much has been done. The Government officials have given free railway transportation to the interior, and they have wisely had the people scattered among the villages, where they can best be taken care of. The energetic Armenian committees have taken care of their own people, and have been unexpectedly generous to the Syrians who are quartered in their midst. In Tiflis the Syrians themselves have done much for their own race in that city, and have had 108an efficient committee working in conjunction with the municipal relief committee. But more worthy of praise than any or all of these together are the humble kind-hearted villagers themselves, who have carried the heaviest end of the burden, taking in the homeless wanderers, giving them shelter and even bedding, and furnishing them with food. Had it not been for this unorganised relief, the misery would have been many times more intense. In one village, of 50 houses, I found 307 refugees; and in another, of 100 houses, 850 dependents. In the former place all that had been received from outside sources had been 220 roubles, and in the latter the extent of outside relief had been about six pounds per head of poor flour. But the farmers of that section have had a bad year of it, and are themselves feeling the pinch of poverty; and the burden of all this multitude of destitute people is getting to be almost intolerable. At best, too, what has been done by all agencies combined has failed to save the wretched refugees from their sad plight. With often twenty of them in one room, sleeping on the grass, destitute of bedclothing and having unwholesome-looking bread to eat, their lot is not to be envied. No wonder that after the hardships of the journey scores and hundreds of them have died, pneumonia and enteric troubles and scarlet fever having carried off a multitude. The scarlet fever has been especially virulent, and there was scarcely a house which I visited where from two to five little ones had not been carried out to the cemetery. One could hardly hope to save a man with dysentery on the five kopecks (1¼d.) a day given for his support, or with the coarse flour given in other districts. While one cannot but pity all, yet one’s especial sympathy goes out to those whom one has seen in their own country living in comfort and, for this country, even in luxury, yet here, in this strange land, dependent on the dole of bread given them.

With such conditions I have not dared to do anything in the way of relief, except to leave here and there small sums for the sick and for those particularly suffering. As long as I have not found anyone that has died or is dying from hunger I did not think it justifiable to expend our little funds in the hopeless task of making men comfortable. More and more am I persuaded that we must reserve our efforts to the time when these people begin to return to their homes. If the way opens for such a return, it must be our first endeavour to restore them to their villages; for very many of them have their wheat-fields and vineyards, and if these are not looked after this spring, the relief problem of the future becomes many times more serious. But how are these unfortunates to get home? Some of them had a little money when they came out and some reserve strength; now both funds and physical force are gone, and after the hard journey back they will reach homes plundered of everything, and in many cases burnt. Officials here have declared that there 109is no question but that the Government will send them back by rail to Djoulfa free of charge; but, when they are once in Persia, then all relief committees save our own cease to act. It is on this basis that I wish to make my appeal to the American public. In a report which I subjoin, Dr. Shedd, of our Mission in Urmia, gives us a picture of the conditions there among those who, to the number of ten to fifteen thousand, have found shelter in our Mission yards. Up to the 25th January I learn that he has spent over eight hundred pounds sterling in their support; and he names £3,000 as the minimum of what is needed for the people there. He himself considers this an under-estimate, looking at the problem only from the limited knowledge he had at his command; and I am sure that it is. Five thousand for those in Urmia and five thousand for those who have fled, seems to me a more reasonable estimate. Ten thousand pounds is a big sum to ask, especially at this time, when so many other portions of the world are stretching out their hands to our country for aid; but most of these have many eloquent tongues to voice their cry, while for this people, that have lived so far away among fanatical Moslem masters, who is there to speak? I can only hope that this little story of their sufferings may bring some relief, even if it is not the sum asked and so much needed. I wish I might hope that others would help in this work; but the French Mission has little assistance to give, and the Orthodox Mission, that has made a big bid for the friendship of this people, seems to have completely flattened out. I doubt whether anything can be hoped for from that source, and I am very sure that nothing will be given in a large unsectarian way. And so it appears to me that we of America are the only ones that can be relied upon to come to the assistance of this old historic people, who have now endured the heaviest blow that has fallen upon them for centuries.

There is one other matter. I have said that we must reserve our help for the time when these people return home; money given them here, unless it be in very large sums, can do no good. You, however, have suggested that £200, given through me to the heads of the Relief Committees of the Caucasus to be used for these Persian refugees, might do more than anything else to quicken their own assistance to this unfortunate people. The reasons you have given for this judgment have seemed to me strong ones, and I have telegraphed to-day to our headquarters, stating the facts. If any such funds are sent, I shall ask you to help me in giving the money in such a manner as shall produce the best results. In the meantime I wish to thank you most cordially for all that you have done to assist me in this good work.

110

29. AZERBAIJAN, BEHIND THE RUSSIAN FRONT: EXTRACTS FROM A SERIES OF LETTERS BY THE REV. ROBERT M. LABAREE; COMMUNICATED BY THE BOARD OF FOREIGN MISSIONS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE U.S.A.

(a) Letter dated Tabriz, 12th March, 1915 (to Mr. Labaree’s mother).

Sad news. The Kurds driven back from Khoi massacred 800 Syrian and Armenian men with cruel torture. This in the plain of Salmas. In Urmia the largest and wealthiest Syrian village, Gulpashan, which had been spared by payments of large sums of money, was given over to plunder by the returning Kurds. The men of the village were all taken out to the cemetery and killed; the women and girls treated barbarously. Sixty men were taken out of the French Mission, where they had taken refuge, and shot. Others have been hanged. The Swiss teacher of the missionaries’ children has died of typhoid. I have been asked to go to Urmia, but every way is blocked. Please let Mr. Speer know facts.

(b) Letter dated Tabriz, 13th March, 1915 (to Mr. Speer).

Dr. Shedd’s latest communication speaks for itself and reveals a terrible condition of things at Urmia. This condition, I fear, has been rendered even more acute in the two weeks since the letter was written by the defeat of the Turks and Kurds near Salmas. At that time all the remaining Christian refugees in Diliman (the chief town of Salmas) suffered terribly. All the males above twelve years of age were taken to two neighbouring villages, tortured and shot. Their number is estimated at 800. The women were to be made Moslems, but the entrance of the Russians into the town the next day prevented that. I doubt not but that the retreating Kurds will wish to do the same thing as they pass through Urmia. One is perfectly helpless at such a time. The Consuls are acting in concert, but what can they do? The only salvation seems to be that the Russian army may advance soon to Urmia, but for military reasons this may be out of the question.

My own visit to Urmia has been stopped for the present by events. There is no possible way of my reaching Urmia, unless the Consul should go and I should accompany him.

(c) Letter dated Diliman, 19th April, 1915 (to the Presbyterian Missions Board, New York).

There seems no more prospect now than when I last wrote of any measures being taken by the Russian authorities to relieve the Urmia situation. If any plans are afoot for the occupation of the city they are not at all in evidence, and I am persuaded that a good many things must happen elsewhere before the local conditions will be materially changed.

Recently a Mr. McGowan, a reporter of the Associated Press, fresh from America, arrived here—all interest over the situation. 111He was most anxious to reach Urmia, if any way could be found to get in and any assurance be given that he could return. We decided upon a perfectly open policy. With the consent of the Russian officers here, we secured a messenger and sent him directly to the Turkish Consul in Urmia, asking for guards and safe conduct, from a point just beyond the pass to the city, and return. In our letter to the Consul we enclosed an open letter to Will Shedd, asking his advice in the matter. Indirectly we hear that our messenger was put under arrest (lest, I suppose, he should undertake to return), and no answer has been sent to our request; while, on the other hand, horsemen were despatched to a midway point to escort into the city some Persians who had sent a request very much like our own by the same messenger. It is no use making any more efforts to get inside this chestnut burr, until through God’s Providence it opens itself. I am here to render what help I can, and while as yet I have been able to do nothing, yet perhaps it will be given me later to give some little assistance to our poor, tired, beleaguered friends in Urmia. Mr. McGowan has gone back to the Caucasus. It was a pleasure to get sight of an American face and have a fresh whiff from the outside world. The news that comes to us from across the Turkish border is far from pleasant. The many hundreds (and perhaps some thousands) of Armenians and Syrians in the region of Bashkala have been massacred. The Armenians and Kurds in and about Van have begun to fight. In the mountains Mar Shimun is said to have gathered the independent tribes about him, and they are battling for their lives against great odds. These are the near-by places. What is going on inside Turkey, God only knows.

Yesterday I assembled about fifty Armenians from the neighbourhood of Bashkala in a near-by village for a service. They were all men in the employment of the Russian army when it withdrew from there several months ago. They had to come away with the troops, leaving behind their families and all that they possessed. They feel certain that their wives and children have been massacred or else taken away to a captivity worse than death. When one stands before such an audience, the words that are so easy to speak at other times fail one. Is there any balm in Gilead for such wounds? Is there any power to take away from the hearts of these men the sorrow and the rankling spirit of revenge? May God never put me in a position like that, or else may he give me more grace than I how possess.

When one knows that three-fourths of the Moslems of this district, if not nine-tenths of them, were implicated in the plunder of Christian villages, and that many of them were parties to worse crimes, it is hard to have the same zest for work among them. But now that the way to Urmia seems barred for the present, I am planning to plunge into that work. Just now the 112Moslems here are so alarmed lest they suffer for what they have done that they are ready to listen to almost anything a Christian may say. It is a pity that in so many cases this willingness has no higher motive.

(d) Letter dated Tabriz, 6th May, 1915 (to the Presbyterian Missions Board, New York).

Just a word to report that I am safe at home. My departure from Salmas was most sudden and exciting. An overwhelming force of Turks and Kurds attacked the place, and in the course of manœuvres we were nearly caught between the two firing-lines. It is not an experience that often comes to one, nor is it one that one wants repeated. With hundreds of other refugees, now twice plundered, we made our way to Djoulfa, and from there I came here.

113

30. TABRIZ: LETTER DATED TABRIZ, 17th MARCH, 1915, FROM THE REV. F.N. JESSUP; COMMUNICATED BY THE BOARD OF FOREIGN MISSIONS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE U.S.A.

On the 1st November (1914) Turkey declared a “Djihad,” or Holy War, against the Allies, and it was soon evident that she would try to stir up other Moslem nations. In December a small force of Turkish troops crossed into Persia at Soudjboulak, south of Urmia, but we thought nothing of it, knowing that the Russian forces here would be able to cope with them. But on the last day of December it became evident that the Russians were actually about to withdraw from here, and there was a panic among the Armenians and other native Christians. Day and night the poor Armenians fled out of the city towards the Russian border, and out of 750 or more families only about 250 were left, most of these being the poorest people. From the first we were beset by people asking to be allowed to take refuge with us. We had permission to admit those who were connected with us, and, in addition, had to make arrangements to receive all the Europeans who might need protection. It was decided that all the missionaries should come to this compound, where the Memorial School and men’s dispensary are located. You can imagine the rush and work of the first days of January—all the school-rooms to be cleared of everything so as to be ready for the crowds of people so anxious to get in, people to be interviewed day and night, rules to be made as to who and what were to be admitted, our own houses to be made ready for the advent of the missionary families. For example, my house, in which I had been living alone on Friday, by Saturday night contained five families, consisting of ten adults and seven children; and whereas up to that time Dr. Vanneman and I had been having our meals alone, now in my dining-room all the Americans ate together, nineteen adults and a number of children! By this time almost all the Europeans had left the city, including the Consuls of the Allied Powers; the banks were closed and the Indo-European telegraph office was shut. The Europeans who were left in the city came to us for refuge, all except one family of Italians and a few Germans, Austrians and Turkish subjects who thought they would be safe. But even these asked to have a place reserved in case of need, for no one knew what might happen when a horde of undisciplined Kurds entered the city. Not only this, but a number of prominent Mohammedans came to ask protection, and very many more left the city to flee to Teheran, knowing that they might be molested or blackmailed.

On Tuesday, the 5th January, the Russian troops left the city and encamped on its outskirts; the next day they started north towards Djoulfa, and on Friday, the 8th, the Turks and Kurds entered. For the next three weeks they were in possession of Tabriz. We were cut off from the outside world, without 114news of what was occurring elsewhere, practically shut up in this compound with the four hundred who had taken refuge with us. We had as our guests Belgians from the Customs and Finance Departments, French Catholic Sisters with forty or fifty of their school-children, two German ladies who had been sick and unable to go with the rest of the German colony, a Russian lady, and two American Seventh Day Adventist missionaries from Maragha, but most of the people were Armenian and Nestorian. As you see, they were of all nationalities and religions, but all lived together in the greatest goodwill, and things moved with a remarkable lack of trouble or friction.

We had planned to observe the regular Week of Prayer with nightly services in our church, but our church had to be abandoned, for almost every Christian from that quarter of the city had fled, and no one dared to stir out of doors after dark. But we were given a greater opportunity. Instead of a week’s services attended by fifty or sixty people, we had Evangelistic services in the assembly room of the Memorial School every night for a full four weeks, with a hundred to a hundred and fifty in attendance, and all listening with the most earnest attention. And as we had with us refugee families from Soudjboulak, Maragha and other places, we had a chance to preach the Gospel to those rarely, if ever, reached by the truth. Instead of having to seek a congregation, we had it ready within our gates, and one composed of those whose hearts were softened in the fact of our common danger and life together.

As the time went on, the blackmail and plundering on the part of the Kurds grew worse and people became more anxious. It was indeed a welcome day when the sound of cannon and machine guns was heard to the north, and it appeared that the Russians were returning to deliver the city. This they did on the 30th January, and so well had the campaign been arranged that the fleeing Kurds were cut off from the city after the battle, and so could not loot or kill on their retreat, as many had feared they might. And thus in God’s providence the city was relieved, and we and the many lives entrusted to us were kept safe from harm during that trying time.

When the roads were once again open and word reached us from other places, we began to hear of the terrible plight of the Christians of other places, especially Urmia and Salmas. When suddenly and unexpectedly the native Christians of those places heard that the Russian army was immediately to be withdrawn, they knew that their only safety from the cruelties of the approaching Kurds lay in flight. Men, women and little children were obliged to start off at once, in mid-winter, most of them on foot, unable to make preparation or to carry sufficient food, clothing, or bedding, and to flee in terror of their lives through snow and deep mud, wading through streams and toiling over the mountains and across plains covered with almost 115impassable mire, till at last they might reach Djoulfa on the Russian frontier, nearly 150 miles away. The story of the horror of that flight will probably never be fully told. From Urmia 17,000 or 18,000 must have fled. When they reached the Salmas plain, their numbers were swelled by thousands of Armenian Christians fleeing thence. Men who went through the experience tell us that the events of those days are indescribable. On the edge of the Salmas plain multitudes could find no lodging and had to sleep in the snow. Some children were carried off by wolves, and many more died before morning. And then the march of those days! Up before daylight, struggling in the snow and slush and darkness to find and keep to the road through the mountain passes, hurrying on ever, knowing that at the end of the day only those who first arrived could be sure of finding shelter for the next night; parents becoming separated from each other and from their children in the darkness or in the mass of hurrying people, unable to find them again, but hoping that they might meet at the end of the day; people throwing away the quilts or other necessary bedding they had brought because physically unable to carry them; the road strewn with abandoned goods; the weak and sick falling by the wayside, many never to rise again; men become as beasts in the common struggle just to live. At night many would arrive long after dark at the appointed stopping-place only to find every caravanserai and lodging so full that they would be forced to spend the night out of doors. Those within fared little better, crowded in so tightly that often they could neither lie nor sit down, but had to remain standing all night in rooms with every door and window shut, and the air so foul that the winter’s cold without seemed preferable. And at such stopping-places exhausted mothers and fathers were anxiously going from house to house and group to group, seeking their lost children. The fugitives have many terrible tales to tell. By the time they had reached Khoi their plight was desperate, but beyond Khoi their sufferings were increased by the deep mire through which they had to struggle. One of our Christian workers from Urmia told me that with his own eyes he saw a man go up to his mother, who had sunk exhausted in the mud, and shoot her through the head, rather than leave her to die by degrees or to be killed by wolves. They tell of a family who started from Urmia—an aged father and his two married daughters, each carrying two children, one on her back and the other in her arms. There, in the mire beyond Khoi, the father could no longer go on and had to be left, and one of the women gave birth to a child. She wrapped the new-born babe in a piece of cloth torn from her dress, and taking it in her arms struggled on, but the other two children had to be abandoned like their grandfather. On arriving at Djoulfa these women found their husbands, who had been in Tiflis and had hurried down to meet the fugitives. There for several anxious days 116they waited, hoping for news of the lost children. The fathers had been away long, and could not be sure of recognizing them, and the mothers were too exhausted to return. At last some soldiers came in with a waggon full of lost children whom they had rescued, and among them were the two little ones. But they had suffered so from exposure that in a few days they both died. The grandfather had perished in the mire.

Mr. Labaree, of our station, left for the Caucasus as soon as the way was open, to find out conditions and see what we could do to help the poor refugees. There are 70,000 or more reported in those regions, not only from Persia, but from Turkey and the border. The Armenians of the Caucasus had organised relief committees, and the Government was also helping. The average grant was about 2d. or 1½d. per adult a day. The villagers among whom those thousands of absolutely destitute strangers were distributed were very kind, but the burden was very heavy for them. Mr. Labaree said that the poor fugitives were in a pitiable state. Sickness had followed the exposure and strain—scarlet fever and other diseases—and in almost every room he visited he heard of four or five children who had died.

But the condition of those who did not, or could not, flee from the Urmia and Salmas plains has been even worse. In Urmia about 12,000 took refuge in the three compounds belonging to our Mission, while 3,000 more were in the French Catholic Mission. Here most of them have remained since the 1st January, but some have withdrawn to yards adjoining ours, some have been taken out by force and killed by the Turks, and many have died. Urmia has been entirely cut off from us. A few letters and messages they have succeeded in sending through, and from these we have learned something of their condition. At the first arrival of the Kurds and Turks, most of the people remaining in the Christian villages fled to the Mission for protection. Of those who stayed in the villages, many girls and women were carried off by the Mohammedans and many men killed. In those first days of January, about ten thousand were crowded into our compound at Urmia city. In the church there were three thousand, so many that they could not lie down to sleep. At the beginning from ten to twenty-five were dying daily in our city compound, and a little later the mortality increased to from twenty-five to forty a day. At first it was not possible to take the bodies out of the grounds for burial. Later, when they were able to secure some adjoining yards, conditions became a little better. Dr. Packard, hearing that a large Christian village was being attacked by the Kurds, rode out there and, at the risk of his life, made his way to the Kurdish chiefs and then to the village, and persuaded the Kurds to spare the lives of the people on condition of their surrendering their goods. Thus, by his influence with the Kurds, won by many medical services in 117the past, he was able to save nearly a thousand poor people from massacre and conduct them that night to the city.

All these thousands have had to be fed and cared for. It has meant a daily expenditure of from £50 to £55 sterling for the three tons of bread distributed each day. Some of the wealthy fugitives to Russia left money with the Missionaries on their departure, with permission to borrow it and use it if necessary, and in this way they were able to get on up to the last reports, for we have been unable in any way to reach them or send them money. But it is now nearly a month since we have received authentic news from the Missionaries at Urmia. At that time they reported the situation as very grave. We have heard that a Turkish officer and several men entered our Mission grounds by force, beat Mr. Allen twice because he could not tell them of the whereabouts of some men they sought, and carried off several men to kill them. From the Catholic Mission, in the same way, some forty men were taken and massacred. In a village whose people had from the first been peaceful and had paid a large sum for protection, 51 (others report 85) men were seized, taken outside and butchered, and then the soldiers returned to outrage the women and girls, not even little children being spared.

For three weeks Mr. Labaree has been in Salmas, hoping that a Russian expeditionary force might be sent to rescue the Urmia Christians and that he might be able to go over to help the Missionaries, who must be greatly worn by the strain and by their work. But as yet he has neither been able to go nor to send or receive any word, nor are there any signs of a rescue.

This is the most awful calamity which has befallen the Nestorian people in the ninety years of our mission work among them. About 1,000 had been killed and 2,000 had died of disease or fear up to the middle of March, just in Urmia itself, and the Nestorians here estimate that perhaps as many more died on the flight to Russia or have died since. This would mean a fifth or a sixth of the 30,000 Nestorians who live on the Urmia plain. Their prosperous villages have all been pillaged and most of them burned, and their churches destroyed. Of the survivors, half are refugees in great want in the Caucasus, the rest remain in Urmia in conditions of peril and fear and need which wring one’s heart. Already over £4,000 sterling must have been spent by the Missionaries in Urmia to preserve the lives of those taking refuge with them. As soon as it becomes in the least safe, they must be helped to return to their ruined homes and villages to make a fresh start. Two months ago Mr. Labaree appealed to America for at least £10,000 sterling as the smallest sum required, and as time goes on it becomes evident that more will be needed. Thus far about £2,400 has been received from the American Red Cross and our Board, £30 from our missionaries in Hamadan, and £20 from the English missionaries at Ispahan. Of course 118we here are trying to help too. These poor distressed Nestorians are the especial charge of our American Presbyterian Church, which has laboured so many years for their good, and there is little hope of help for them in this hour when so many nations are in trouble, except in so far as we help them.

And it is not only the Christians of Urmia that are in great need. Those of the village of Miandoab (Armenians, these), have similarly lost everything. The Kurds still occupy their town, and they are refugees in Maragha and Tabriz. At Maragha the Armenians have suffered greatly, for most of them had to flee, and now they have the burden of all the refugees from Miandoab and other villages. And in Salmas it is worse. All the Christian villages on that plain have been smoked. Most of the Christians fled when the army withdrew in January, but some remained behind and these sought the protection of their Moslem neighbours. But a few days before the return of the Russian army to Salmas, when the Turks saw that they would be compelled to flee, they secured the names of all Christians by a ruse, pretending that all who registered would be protected. Then they gathered all the men into one place and carried them out in companies of about twenty-five, each to be shot down in cold blood. Others were tied with their heads sticking through the rungs of a ladder and decapitated, others hacked to pieces or mutilated before death. In this way practically every Christian man remaining in Salmas was massacred. You can imagine the fate of girls and women. The most detailed report received, signed by a number of men now on the ground, stated that from 712 to 720 men were thus killed in Salmas.

119

31. URMIA DURING THE TURCO-KURDISH OCCUPATION: DIARY OF A MISSIONARY, EDITED BY MISS MARY SCHAUFFLER PLATT, AND PUBLISHED BY THE BOARD OF FOREIGN MISSIONS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE U.S.A.

Urmia, Persia, Saturday, 9th January, 1915.

I want to start a letter telling you of the events of the last week, though I cannot tell when it will reach you. As you know, the Russians had taken possession of this part of Persia, and were maintaining order here, so that for the last year conditions were more orderly, peaceful and prosperous than for long years before. They had a consul here who was very capable, and tried to do justice to all.

When war was declared between Russia and Turkey, we knew that this meant war for Urmia, for we are right on the Turkish border, and only a few years ago Turkey tried to get this section for herself, but failed. We were told by the Russians in authority here that they would hold Urmia against all odds, so the city was fortified by trenches and defences on every side, and several thousand reinforcements came.

On New Year’s Day, according to our custom, we received our friends. As many as a hundred and forty of our Moslem and Christian friends, men and women, called “to bless our New Year.” On Saturday, the 2nd, like a thunderbolt from a clear sky, we were informed that the whole Russian army was withdrawing; some had gone in the night, the rest would leave immediately. There was a panic at once among the Christian (Syrian and Armenian) population.[46] The Osmanlis, or Turks and Kurds, were but a few miles away, and the Christians were absolutely defenceless.

At once, as soon as the Russians had gone, with large numbers of Syrians and Armenians leaving at the same time, the evil-minded Moslems all over the plain began to plunder the Christian villages. When the people were trying to flee to the missionaries in the city, they were robbed on the roads of everything they had, even of their outer clothing. In some of the villages the Moslem masters placed guards to prevent the people from going themselves or bringing their possessions to the city, saying they would protect them. When they tried to get away, these same guards robbed and stripped them.

The crowds had begun to pour in at our gates on Sunday; the city people were taken in by night and many others from near by. On Sunday morning we put up the American flags over the entrances. On Monday morning Dr. Packard, with American and Turkish flags, accompanied by two Syrians, started out to meet the leading Kurdish chief. He arrived at Geogtapa in time to prevent a terrible massacre. The people of Geogtapa 120who had not fled to the city had gone to our church and the Russian church, both of which are situated on a high hill formed of ashes, a relic of Zoroastrian times. The churchyards are enclosed by high mud walls. All finally went to the Russian church, which was on the highest ground. They barricaded the strong doors, and, when the Kurds attacked, the men defended the fort with their guns and the women crowded like sheep into the church. When Dr. Packard arrived, a lively battle was going on, with little chance for the Christians. He had great difficulty in getting to the chiefs without being shot; but he finally reached them, and they knew him. Some of these Kurds had spent weeks in our hospital and had been operated upon by Dr. Packard, so they listened to him while he pleaded for the lives of the people inside. After several hours’ entreaty, they agreed to let the people go with him if they would give up their guns and ammunition.

I was talking yesterday with Layah, our Bible Woman, who was inside the church. She said that when Dr. Packard first tried to signal to them, they did not know him and kept on firing, but when they recognized him a shout went up: “It’s the Hakim Sahib! Thank God! We are saved!” I asked her what the Kurds did when they came out, and she said they stood by and helped them, saying: “Come on! Come on! Don’t be afraid!” In the rush, Layah fell and broke her arm, and is now lying on Miss Lamme’s sofa resting.

All Monday the refugees had been coming in, until it seemed that every room and storeroom was full, many of the rooms not lying-down full but sitting-up full. But that night, when Dr. Packard came, he brought over fifteen hundred more with him, and they had to be stowed away. This is Saturday, the sixth day these thousands have been here in our yards, not less than ten thousand—perhaps twelve or fourteen thousand. We have taken several small yards and houses adjoining ours, and the English Mission yard adjoining the seminary yard is also full. Of course, the two Englishmen of the English Mission had to leave with the Russian army, and with them a large number of prominent Syrians who had been sympathizers with Russia. Here in the city there has been plundering and some destruction of property, but no general disorder—unless it be in the Armenian quarter. The fine brick quarters which were built as barracks for the Russian army I understand have remained intact, because the invaders are afraid to go near them for fear they may be mined.

From the first the Sheikh promised protection to us and our people, and when the Osmanli officers came they immediately took possession of the city, and have tried to keep order and prevent plundering by Moslems. The other day a Moslem, terribly wounded by a Turkish guard while robbing, was brought here for treatment. This is an illustration of our position: Here 121is a Mussulman thief, plundering Christians, shot by the Osmanli guard, and then brought to us by his friends that we might care for him.

Although we were promised safety for all within our gates there is no certainty. On Wednesday morning I lay in bed a little longer than usual, and about half-past seven suddenly an awful cry of fear and despair went up from thousands of throats, and the crowds rushed toward the church, then swayed back, not knowing whither to fly. From the church, where human beings are packed in like sardines, they began jumping from the windows. My first thought was that the Kurds had broken in through our back gate, which opens into the Moslem quarter, and that the massacre was about to begin; but the poor, terrified people soon quieted, and before I could get dressed I knew it must have been a false alarm. The poor, hunted creatures think that if they can only hold to the skirts of a missionary they will be safe.

On Thursday, Hannah, the wife of one of our pastors, reached us after great suffering and exposure. They lived in Nazi, and heard the report that the Russians were leaving. They couldn’t believe it, but on Sunday afternoon Kurds from the west came and began plundering. The people all fled to a walled village, because they thought they might be safer there and because our preacher there, Kasha Oner (Preacher Abner), had many friends among the Kurds, being a mountaineer. On Monday, a Kurd visited them, pretending that he had been sent by the Turks from the city, telling them they need have no fear, as they would be protected; but it became evident that he was a spy. Afterwards a band of Kurds came, demanded the guns, and drank tea with the people; then others came and they began robbing and killing. The people gathered together like a flock of frightened sheep, and many were slaughtered. The greater part of them got through the great gateway while the Kurds were plundering, and that night they spent in the mountains without food or shelter and with very little covering. One of our girls, Katie, who had gone home on Friday for her Christmas vacation, was among them. She saw her mother murdered and had to leave her body lying by the gate as they ran. The next morning more than four hundred of them started towards the city, cold, hungry, exhausted; many, having lost their shoes in their flight, had frozen and bleeding feet. Hannah came here, her feet were dressed, and she is lying comfortably on a mattress on Miss Lamme’s floor. Her husband and daughter were already here. The rest of the party were taken in at our College compound, two miles west of the city.

The pitiful tales we hear of murder, of narrow escape through snow and mud, hungry, sick and cold, are numberless.

Monday, 11th January, 1915.

Several families from Degala are camped in our parlour, 122and the night before last Victoria, one of the women, came to me and said an old woman had just come in who didn’t seem able to answer anything she asked her. I found her crouched in a corner of the hall. She said she was so cold. At first she couldn’t eat, but after drinking some tea she improved. We had absolutely no place but a stone floor for her; but we took up a carpet from my bedroom, rolled her up in it in the upper hallway, and she went to sleep. She was the janitress of our church in Barbaroud, fifteen miles to the south. The Kurds did their worst there several days ago, and she had escaped, barefooted, almost naked, and without food. She died a day or two later.

One poor woman, who had both husband and son killed, has gone crazy, and we haven’t any place to put her but a dark closet under the stairway. At midnight I was awakened by her pounding on the door. She has a nursing baby. Thank God, to-day they took her to the hospital, where they can care for her a little better than here. (She died two days later.) At the College compound, where the hospital is, they have only about two thousand, and we have perhaps twelve thousand, and every day more are coming. Those who have been hiding with Moslem friends are coming to us day by day, and we haven’t any place to put them. We have not been able to take the dead from our yards, so we are burying them in the little yard by the side of the church—twenty-seven so far. Some die every day, and there is no shroud or coffin for them.

Evening.

We have just had a Praise Meeting in the parlour with fifty or sixty who could gather from the halls and rooms near, and we feel more cheerful. We thought if Paul and Silas, with their stripes, could sing praises in prison, so could we.

Wednesday, 13th January.

Since Monday, the 4th, we have been giving out bread. In the morning we sell to those who have money, and in the afternoon give free bread to those who cannot buy, disposing of over four tons of bread a day. Practically all the refugees from the city have their own food, and some from the villages, too. We buy our bread from the bazaar (market), and a very efficient and willing young Syrian has been attending to the weighing and giving out, while groups of other young men have been selling and distributing. The only things we have had for carrying the bread are our clothes-baskets and old tin bath-tubs, and they are doing good service. We have received some gifts of food for the refugees from Moslems. One man gave over six hundred pounds of meat, which we cooked and gave out in one section, but it is very difficult to distribute anything except bread among so large a number. I am speaking only of what we are doing here in this compound, where by far the larger number of refugees are. They are doing similar work in Sardari (the Boys’-School premises) 123and at the College compound. Mr. McDowell is looking after sanitary conditions and the streams of water flowing through the yards, which furnish the only drinking water for the crowds, and conditions are much improved.

There are hundreds of mountaineers who have no place to go to. Before this affair they were distributed among the villages, and we had established a number of schools especially for them. These people had been driven from their homes by the Kurds early in the autumn. Many of them seem little better than animals—dirty, lazy, satisfied with any hole to lie in and just enough bread to keep their stomachs comfortable. Of course, they are not all of this sort, but we have several hundred that are. They are chiefly crowded into the church and our large school-room. The people who are suffering most are those who have been accustomed to the comforts and decencies of life, who are crowded together like cattle, without sufficient clothing or food.

The day after the flight from Geogtapa we went with a basket of bread to one of the larger rooms of the Press, which was filled with self-respecting people who had the day before been in comfortable circumstances, but who had fled with nothing, or had been robbed of whatever they had tried to bring with them. When they saw the bread for distribution, they began to cry and cover their faces, and we had to drop the bread into their laps—they didn’t reach out for it. Of course, we assured them that under such circumstances, it was no shame to eat the bread of charity.

When the people began to flee, they wanted to deposit their money with us, and our Treasurer accepted it on condition that we could use it without interest and repay it when normal conditions are restored. It is with this money that we have been enabled to buy bread and save these people from starvation.

Children are being born every day. We have managed to give two small rooms to these women, many of whom haven’t even a quilt. Children were born even in the crowded church. One of the women who was reporting these cases complained in a very aggrieved tone that some were “even bringing two,” as if one wasn’t enough to satisfy anybody under existing circumstances.

This is the first day that we have been able to get donkeys to haul away the refuse. I hope we shall soon be able to take the dead to the cemetery.

Thursday, 14th January.

Mr. Allen returned last evening from his journey to the villages of the Nazlu river. Several thousand fled towards Russia; many have hidden with Moslems, who are now trying to force them to become Mohammedans and to give their girls in marriage to Moslems. In Ada perhaps as many as a hundred were killed, most of them young men. It is told that they were stood up in line, one behind another, by the Kurds, to see how many one 124bullet would kill. I went down to see the woman in the room under mine who had received word of the killing of her brother in Karadjalu. Everywhere there is wailing and sadness, and her lamentation for her dead brother is the wail of thousands of hearts:—

“Oh, Yeremia (Jeremiah), my brother!
The pillar of our house; a father to us all, ah, Yeremia, Yeremia!
Thou didst comfort us all! A giant in body and giant in spirit.
Oh, Yeremia, my brother, oh, my brother, Yeremia, my heart is broken for thee!
My brother! Oh, my brother, thy house is left desolate; thy little ones orphans.
Oh, Yeremia, Yeremia! thou wert a righteous man, merciful to the poor!”

Saturday, 16th January.

Yesterday some Abijalu people were in, asking for bread, although a week ago they were among the well-to-do. The same story of robbery, exposure and horror. When a Kurd tried to carry off Shamasha Sayad’s daughter, she jumped into the well and stayed there for hours in water up to her chin. Some one said a few days ago, “Blessed are the dead,” and I echoed the sentiment.

Monday, 18th January.

In the midst of panic, distress and death, we have had two weddings. Both had been arranged to take place on the Syrian New Year, the 14th January. Dr. Shedd performed the ceremony in both cases. Both brides had their trousseaux ready, but felt these were not proper times for the display of finery, so wore ordinary dresses.

These last few days a number of the city families have returned in fear and trembling to their homes, taking just a very few things with them. This is relieving the overcrowded rooms somewhat, and Miss Schoebel this afternoon is trying to drive the people out into the sunshine long enough to have the rooms swept—or, rather, shovelled. It consumes all one’s energies to try to get anyone to do anything. All the responsibility and much of the actual labour has devolved upon the missionaries. Of course, many of our best men fled to Russia, and among those who are left there are few leaders. There are some notable exceptions, though, both here and at the College—e.g., Jacob David, who without missionary assistance has charge of eight hundred and fifty refugees and is doing finely. Another, a young shopkeeper, has had charge of the weighing and distribution of bread, with much of the buying, from the beginning. He has done the work with surprising efficiency and self-devotion. Bands of young men have been ready, day after day, for distributing bread. The nights have been divided into three watches, and groups of men have taken their turns in acting as watchmen. Mr. Nisan, who has charge of the English Mission yard, one night found the watchmen asleep, so the next day they were tied to trees, and a placard placed over them with the inscription: “Unfaithful 125Watchmen,” as a warning to others. Guarding the streams is a very necessary and a very difficult task. Mr. McDowell finds it extremely hard to get anyone among the hundreds of Syrians here who can be trusted to oversee such work, or who can be kept on a job longer than an hour or so at a time.

We are urging some now to return to their homes. Many are so afraid, and we cannot give them assurance of safety. Some Kurds have gone, but many are still about. The people come to the individual missionaries and beg for just one small room for their families, each one with his own special plea. When we tell them the greatest danger for them just now is to remain crowded in such narrow bounds, it makes little or no appeal to them. They are nine-tenths fatalists any way, and think that it all depends upon the “will of Allah.” They say: “Let us die by the hand of God and not of the Kurds.”

We have been having unusually fine weather; only two bad days, and they were not cold. A Mohammedan was heard to say: “Do you see how God loves these Christians? Who ever saw such weather in the middle of winter?”

Dr. Shedd is the representative of our station before the Government; he and Dr.Packard have had that end of the work, daily pleading before Persian and Osmanli authorities for the Christian population. It was told us that a prominent Moslem had said: “Dr. Shedd is the best Christian in the city! Just see how he comes every day through the deep mud to plead for those people!”

Wednesday, 20th January.

A few people from the city went to their homes, and our hopes began to rise; but yesterday and to-day others came in from the Nazlu river and from Tchargousha. Thirty-six dead were carried to the trench in Mart Maryam[47] (St. Mary) churchyard yesterday; the larger part of them were children.

Lucy, daughter of Kasha (preacher) David of Ardishai, came in yesterday with her baby from Gulpashan, where they had been refugees for some time, living in terror of Kurds by day and night. They also feared the Moslem neighbours and the Turkish guards sent in to protect the village. Her own village was Tchargousha. In terror the people fled to the roofs as the village was surrounded by Kurds, and there was no avenue of escape. The Kurds came up on to the roofs and commanded the people to go down. Lucy, with one Kurd below her on the ladder and two above her, her baby on her back, got down. In the yard she saw her younger sister, Sherin, a pretty girl of about fifteen, being dragged away by a Kurd. She was imploring Lucy to save her, but Lucy was helpless. When she was telling me this with tears and sobs, she said: “Every night, when I try to sleep, I hear her entreaties, ‘Oh, Lucy, I’ll be your sacrifice, Save 126me, Lucy!’ I called to her, ‘Pull your head-kerchief over your face; don’t look into their faces.’ She tried to conceal her face, and daubed it with mud, but she has such beautiful dark eyes and rosy cheeks! The Kurds grabbed the young women and girls, peering into their faces, till each one found a pretty one for himself, then dragged her away. If they had only killed my sister we could say, ‘She is dead, like many another—it is finished’; but that she should be in the hands of a Kurd—we cannot bear it!” Some of these captives have been recovered, but there is no word of Sherin.

Saturday, 23rd January.

Yesterday we counted three thousand three hundred in the church, and many have gone out, so there must have been four thousand people there these last two weeks. Is it any wonder that children are dying by the score? Morning and afternoon there are burials; at other times the bodies are collected and laid in a room near the gate. To-day Mr. McDowell succeeded after long efforts in getting a cart for scavenger work. It came but one day. We have not been able to get even donkeys, except five or six. The scavengers would not come into the yards of Christians for such work, even though Mr. McDowell offered to pay well. We cannot open our back windows, the stench is too dreadful. I suppose the mere mention of such things is quite shocking even to read; but we have been living in such surroundings for nearly three weeks, and see only a little light ahead. We are hoping we can distribute some of the mountain refugees in empty houses here in Mart Maryam and the Christian quarter.

Many Moslems who pretended to accept food and goods of Christians for safe keeping, are now claiming them as their own. One of our preachers, after having been plundered of practically everything by his Moslem neighbours, was received as a refugee into one of their houses and was fed from his own dishes, of his own food, and put to sleep in his own bed.

Dr. Packard has been gone for several days to the Nazlu villages, to gather together the remnants of the people scattered in Moslem villages, or in hiding, and to see if it be possible to put them into a few of their own places again. Most of the Kurds have left, but the Syrians are unarmed, and, just as from the beginning, their Moslem neighbours are their greatest enemies. If it isn’t a Djihad (Holy War), it is very near it. It must have been planned beforehand, for there has been concerted action from one end of the plain to the other, though here and there some Moslems have been friendly throughout, have done many kindly deeds and saved many lives.

Later.

Just at this joint we had an interesting diversion. A band of Turkish soldiers came into our yard and said they wanted to search our premises for wounded Russian soldiers. They searched 127the houses of the Allens, the Müllers, and our house; then the schools and all outside buildings and storehouses, even to the smallest closets. You might have thought they were searching for a lost hair from Osman’s beard! I have an idea they thought we were concealing arms or ammunition, though ten days ago we collected all we could find anywhere among the people, and gave them up to the Osmanli commander. As we had nothing hidden, of course we had nothing to fear, though some of the people were scared.

A dozen times a day I pray: “Oh, Lord, how long?” All the first days it seemed as if it must be a horrible dream from which I would awake; but it has become a three weeks’ reality, with little hope of a near dawning. It looks as if our long night might stretch out till the dawn of peace in Europe. And for these things who shall answer, if not the Powers of Europe?

We have read that America has done so much for the sufferers in Europe; surely they will not be too poor to help this little corner of misery, with its twenty-five or thirty thousand sufferers, and with absolutely no one on earth to look to but the American Mission! For months we have not been permitted to write of conditions here, and now we are entirely shut off from the world, even from Tabriz. Anything we write “must be in French, just to say we are well.” Our last word from Tabriz, the nearest mission station and residence of the American Consul, was written on the 31st December, and this is the 23rd January.

Sunday, 24th January.

The fourth Sunday, but no Sabbath. To-day nearly all the people were taken out of the church and distributed among the empty houses near the Russian Mission and in the old church. I went with some of the young men who are helping with the distribution of the bread to count the people in each place. In one house there were two hundred and fifty; these are all mountaineers. We give to each one sheet or loaf of bread per day; about ten ounces. Not very extravagant feeding, you see!

Tuesday, 26th January.

On Sunday a Jew brought us word from Usknuk that Kasha David’s daughter, Sherin, is there in the house of a Kurd, and that every effort is being made by gifts, persuasion and threats, to make her turn Mohammedan, but that she always answers “You may kill me, but I will never deny my faith.” We are making plans to try to get her back. Dr. Packard reported on his return from the Nazlu villages that in one place practically the whole population has become Moslem and have given up their church to be a mosque, while some even cursed their former faith. But, of course, such people never had any religion, and changing the name of it is a matter of convenience.

Wednesday, 27th January.

Miss Lamme and I went to-day to the Jewish quarters to 128look up Syrian refugees there. We found them in large numbers in the Jewish houses, where they had been kept and in some cases fed. Yesterday the French Mission sent away from their yards two hundred and fifty or more persons, who first went to the Governor. He telephoned to Dr. Shedd, and we had to receive them. They were put into Dr. Israel’s house in Dilgusha, outside the city walls. All the houses there have been completely plundered; many have been robbed of doors and windows. No one thinks of returning to homes there, but a great many have returned to Mart Maryam.

Later.

Everywhere about the yards people are basking in the wonderful sunshine, which is more like April than January. The common sight everywhere is the everlasting hunt for vermin, friends and neighbours graciously assisting one another. I suppose it is a vulgar subject to mention, but “we’ve got ’em,” and must go on living in hourly contact with thousands of others who swarm with them.

Friday, 5th February.

We can’t complain of the monotony of life, for we never know what will happen next. On Tuesday morning I had a wedding in my room here. The boy and girl were simple villagers. He had gone to Russia and brought back a little money, with some foreign clothes. Then his folks began to look round for a wife for him. He was betrothed several months ago to Anna of Ardishai, and, according to custom, gave her the money to buy her trousseau. For several weeks she had been sewing, until at last the wonderful silk dress, white silk head-kerchief, veil and all the necessaries, were ready. The wedding was fixed for the Syrian New Year; but—the Kurds came and carried off wedding clothes and everything else in the house. They all fled here, and were married in the old, dirty garments they were wearing when they ran for their lives, for this was a month ago. In the flight the bride’s mother was lost, probably killed, as nothing has been heard of her since. Their only present was a little tea and sugar that I tied up in a kerchief and gave to the bride, that they might invite a few friends to drink tea instead of eating the dinner they had intended giving.

There are a great many people who have been accustomed to good living heretofore, but for months have had no cooked food, so I invited a number of these to dinner on Wednesday. We had a meat stew, bread, cheese, pickles and tea, all they could eat. There were thirty-five for dinner, and twenty for supper. There was enough left over to feed fifty or more poor and sick ones outside. The whole thing cost about four dollars and fed a hundred people. We spread long cloths on the parlour floor and ate with wooden spoons from enamel plates borrowed for the occasion from the school. The matron and school-girls did the cooking and serving.

129But for our next-door neighbours the scene quickly changed again from weddings and dinners to one of terror and flight by night. The house of Dr. —— adjoins ours, and the roofs are continuous. For several days there had been rumours that their house would be plundered by the Turkish authorities, and they had not dared to undress and go to bed in peace, but on Wednesday they felt more safe and went to bed early. I myself had gone to bed, but not to sleep. Just before eleven o’clock I heard loud knocking on their gate, and then a rapid trampling of feet on the roof over my room. Pretty soon there was quite a commotion in our front yard. I jumped up, and saw in the yard a dozen or more Turkish soldiers, who entered through our front door and went up to the roof through our halls. I dressed as quickly as I could and went to Miss Coan’s room on the roof, to find that some of the women from Dr. ——’s family were already there. In a few minutes the rest of the women and children from there climbed the wall or slid from the roof on to our balcony, and I let them in through the window into our parlour. They were crying and frightened nearly to death, but kept quiet. The Turks searched the house, but took nothing, saying they had come to take evil men, not things. They came back through our house again. The orders have been in our yard that the gate should never be opened at night but by one of the gentlemen; so, when they first knocked, the guard came and called Mr. Allen. He let them in and went with them to Dr. ——’s house. In the meantime, a Syrian had aroused Mr. Müller, and when he tried to get out of his front door he found a Turk guarding it. He tried to push out, saying that he was the master of the house, but the Turk struck him and refused to let him pass. When the gang returned from our neighbours’, they insisted on searching Mr. Müller’s house, even going into the bedroom where Mrs. Müller was in bed and Ruth was sick. Meanwhile a second band came and pounded on our gate, but our guards had run away, and finally one of the men climbed a telephone pole to the roof, got down inside and opened the gate. The officer tied up the Persian guards as a punishment for not opening the gate. Afterwards they went into the Allen house and even asked to have the piano played. It is maddening to have our premises and houses invaded in this way, and by such a lot, but we are helpless, and, for the sake of what we may be able to do for the safety of the people, our gentlemen have to smile and try to turn away their wrath with soft words, even though they are threatened and called liars by the representatives of the invading Government. I don’t believe the Mission in the seventy-five years and more of its existence has ever been placed in so difficult and humiliating a position.

Still the ghastly procession of the dead marches on. Between seven and eight hundred have died so far. A great many are able to get plain wooden coffins for their dead now, but the great 130mass are just dropped into the great trench of rotting humanity. As I stand at my window in the morning I see one after another of the little bodies carried by, wrapped mostly in a ragged piece of patch-work; and the condition of the living is more pitiful than that of the dead—hungry, ragged, dirty, sick, cold, wet, swarming with vermin—thousands of them! Not for all the wealth of all the rulers of Europe would I bear for one hour their responsibility for the suffering and misery of this one little corner of the world alone. A helpless, unarmed Christian community turned over to the sword and the passion of Islam!

This morning my attention was called to a girl of twelve, who was too sick to be kept any longer in a room with other people. A young Syrian woman, who was helping with the sick, wanted to put her into that closet under the stairway from which none ever come out alive. I said: “She will die in there.” She replied: “Of course she will die, but we shall have to find a place for her until she does.” We put her there temporarily until we found a small room where there were only twenty. These we distributed among other crowded rooms, brought Marganeta there, laid her on some matting and covered her with an old carpet. Poor child, she has a sweet face, but life has treated her cruelly.

Dysentery has been bad for a long time, and when the sick get helpless and their condition offensive, it is almost impossible to get anyone to care for them unless they have near relatives. Dysentery and measles have both been epidemic for a long time, and nearly all deaths are directly due to one or both of these diseases.

We had a real respectable funeral in the front yard this afternoon. A good old woman from Degala died, and her pastor had a service for her. This is only the second real funeral service I have seen, though a preacher is always present at the two burials daily, and conducts a service at the cemetery.

Friday, 12th February.

To-day we have begun a new method of giving out bread. We have printed forms, which we fill in and ask the heads of families to sign, promising to pay us later for the bread. All day thousands have been crowding the big tent in the yard, where a number of young men have been filling in and giving out these tickets for bread. The problem is a big one. Undoubtedly some could find bread who are taking it free, but we cannot decide most of the cases. Then we are spending thousands of borrowed money, and as yet no response to our cablegram sent long ago to America! The numbers asking for bread are increasing daily, but if we should refuse it, hundreds would die of starvation.

Again the yards are wet and muddy from melting snow. The last two days have been very hard for the thousands without fuel and with very little clothing. One of the verses that helps 131to keep my faith steady these days is: “He that spared not His own Son.”

The death-rate has been considerably reduced; for two weeks or more it averaged over thirty a day.

Mr. Allen is off on a tour to the villages of the upper Nazlu river, to see what is left there, and to give help or encouragement to anyone who may be left. A while ago when Mr. Allen visited the villages on the Baranduz, one of our Bible Women told him of a certain spot she wished him to visit. She lived in Kurtapa, and as she was about to flee with a bag containing nine tomans[48] of money, the robbers appeared at the door. She quickly threw the bag down beside a broken earthen tub and the thieves did not see it. Mr. Allen went to that village, found the room and the broken tub with the bag of money beside it, and brought the money to its owner.

Last week, the Shahbanda, or Turkish Consul, who is now the chief authority, demanded six thousand tomans of the Syrians. With great trouble this was partly collected and partly borrowed by the help of the Sirdar (Persian Governor), who demanded six hundred more for his share. The Shahbanda promised that, if this were given, the shops and houses of the Syrians in the city would not be disturbed. It remains to be seen how much his word is worth.

To-morrow completes six weeks of this siege and semi-siege condition. We keep on praying, but see no signs of deliverance. We are shut off from the world, and thousands are held in this bondage by a few hundred Osmanli troops and a few wandering Kurds. I realize now that Persia is dead—or worse; she has no manhood nor moral character left.

Wednesday, 17th February.

A few days ago the Turkish Consul arrested all the men at the French Mission. After some examination, a hundred were sent away, leaving about sixty-three at the Consulate. A gallows with seven nooses was erected at the “Kurdish Gate” of the city, the one near us, and on Sunday the ropes were put in place. The people here on Sunday were very badly scared. The women of the men under arrest came and wept and besought Dr. Shedd to do something, but he could do nothing. That evening the people gathered in the church for prayer, and continued praying until midnight. Each night since similar meetings have been held. As yet no one has been hanged, but the Turkish Consul is demanding money for their release. The second day after the arrest of these people, a Turkish soldier was sent to us to ask us to send bread for the prisoners, and we have been feeding them ever since. When their women-folk went to see them they were charged two krans (ninepence) admission. It has been reported that the prisoners have been tortured in various ways known to the Turks, in order to extort money from their families.

132The Turkish Consul has demanded the ten thousand tomans of English bank money committed to us when the bankers fled. The matter has been referred to our Consul in Tabriz. If it should have to be surrendered, we should be in straits, for that is all we have to buy bread with for these thousands of hungry people. Weeks ago we appealed to America, both to the Red Cross and to our Board, but there is no reply.

It was reported to me that there were refugees here who had stores of flour, meat, butter, etc., and yet were taking bread from us, so yesterday I made an investigation and found small quantities; but if the whole were sold, it would not amount to twenty dollars, and the owners would be reduced to nothing but dry bread, and, though this might do for a limited time, they cannot “live by bread alone” week after week. Undoubtedly this terrible epidemic of dysentery which has carried off hundreds is due largely to lack of proper food and want of variety of food. As I made the rounds of our own yards yesterday and visited the people herded together in one of the dark storerooms of our Persian Girls’-School, it seemed to me that their condition of cold, hunger, filth and sickness was about as miserable as they could get in this world. One great difference that was apparent in all the rooms was the absence of small children, hundreds having died during these last months.

The evangelistic work is now well organized, and everywhere there are at least daily meetings for everyone. The women workers under Miss Lamme visit outside places. Mrs. McDowell, with native women, also visits outside places where there are large numbers of refugees herded together. Mr. McDowell tries to keep the preachers at work, too.

Last week a group of one hundred and fifty or more mountaineers who are staying at Sengar, two or three miles from the city came down with one of Kurdu’s men, asking us to feed them They said that heretofore they had been provided for by Kurdu, a Kurdish chief, for whom they had been working, carrying away for him the plunder he had collected here, and that now he was leaving and we must feed them. We put them off several times, but finally accepted the additional burden. Every one who gets tired of his job of charity or responsibility throws it upon us. There seems no end, and this is the seventh week.

Thursday, 18th February.

Yesterday afternoon I went out to the College compound for the first time since Christmas. We had to drive under the gallows at the city gate. It creates rather unpleasant feelings to think that perhaps some of our friends may be suspended there.

Our Mission is being treated with more consideration than at first, and we are hoping that perhaps the Turkish Consul has heard from Constantinople, and that our own Government has been exerting influence at Berlin and Constantinople. For 133weeks we have had no word from the outside world; but we “rest in Jehovah and wait patiently for Him.”

Friday, 19th February.

This has been a snowy day again. The people have been making it a day of fasting and prayer—as if every day were not a fast day!

Saturday, 20th February.

All day negotiations have been going on in regard to the English bank money. When Dr. Shedd and Dr. Packard were called to the Turkish Consulate, they found there the former Urmia Consul, who had fled from here last autumn when war between Russia and Turkey was first declared. He had gone south to Soujboulak. It looks as if he were perhaps fleeing now in this direction, which would mean that the Russians were in Soujboulak; we have heard this report. It is being reported that the Kurds were making preparations to-day for leaving here. It may be that the Consul’s haste to get this money is another evidence that he is expecting to leave soon. He told the gentlemen to-day that he thought that, as Americans, they ought to make a contribution toward the cause of Turkey. They have felt that a compromise on the ten thousand is the best way out, and suggested that he take two thousand; but he refused to take less than five thousand, and promised that he would not take it before to-morrow, so if something does not develop before to-morrow we shall probably be the poorer by that amount. We are hoping that it may be taken without any show of force or violence. Of course, we cannot make any resistance.

To-day we finished going over all the bread tickets, arranging the names according to villages. Then we called in responsible men from each village and went over the lists, to find out those who would be able to help themselves soon, and those who had reported more members of families than they have. I am sorry to say that we found scores who were cheating in various ways, and now we have to get hold of all of them—a big business for some days to come. We are distributing 14,000-15,000 loaves of about ten and a half ounces each day; but there are so many getting more than a loaf each that there are probably not more than eleven thousand persons receiving.

An epidemic of typhoid has broken out at the College among the refugees—twenty-seven cases. To-day, even in the midst of our troubles, the Evangelistic Board met to consider a reorganization of the work. When the people are able to return to the villages, they will probably have to settle temporarily in a few of the larger ones.

Sunday, 21st February.

To-day there are three or four services in the church. This morning it was packed for a communion service and many were 134turned away. Another communion service is arranged for this afternoon, and then again next Sunday, to give an opportunity for all communicants.

Tuesday, 23rd February.

Last night one of the most terrible things that has yet happened occurred. In the evening ten or a dozen of the prisoners from the French Mission, taken ten days or more ago by the Turkish Consul, were discharged, and we all felt that probably the rest would soon be set free, as there was no special charge against them. But this morning five men, two of them Moslems, were found hanging from the gallows at the Kurdish Gate, and forty-eight others were shot beyond the Tcharbash Gate. No one has dared to go out yet and get the bodies, though Dr. Shedd has asked permission of the Turkish Consul. For two days we had felt so much more hopeful, but to-day a terrible fear has fallen on the people. There is much silent weeping, but little violent demonstration, though the mothers, wives and families of the murdered men are here. The question in everybody’s mind is: “What will the Turks do next?” Forty or fifty shots were distinctly heard in the night between one and two o’clock, but no one guessed what they meant. We had begun yesterday to take their bread-tickets away from a few of the people to try to force them to go to their villages or find money in some way to provide for themselves; but now they are too frightened to leave and everything is set back again. Two or three days ago the Turks took some things from the French Mission property here, carpets, etc., and we hear that they are plundering more to-day. On Sunday we received a card from Tabriz saying that everything was quiet there, that £1,000 relief had been received, and that Mr. Labaree was going to the Caucasus to relieve the refugees who had fled from Urmia to Russia.

Wednesday, 24th February.

The French missionaries and the nine nuns were very much alarmed for their personal safety. They asked that one of our men should go there and put up an American flag; but, of course, we could not do that. Yesterday the Turkish Consul sent word that if we wanted the bodies of the three Christians hanging at the gate, we had permission to take them. Mr. McDowell and Mr. Allen went with some Syrians, took down the bodies, and buried them. There has been a little more disorder than usual, and the people are terrified again. I have had to give back many of the bread tickets that we had collected. There are hundreds of people who have fields and vineyards, but who cannot borrow a dollar. These tickets are really promissory notes which they have signed, promising to pay later, but we need cash now, and our bread queue does not decrease—rather, increases. I wonder what a trained Red Cross worker would do with a mob that will not stand in line or stay where you put them; who, 135when you go over the case and give the answer, refuse to take it, but stand about and weep briny tears by the hour. They have no sense of honour, don’t know how to tell the truth, can’t tell the same story twice, and do not know much about anything except that their stomachs are empty. They try to get bread under the names of the dead, and when accused of evading the truth, will declare in the most injured tones: “We wouldn’t lie.” There is much that would be funny in these investigations if it did not get monotonous.

Saturday, 27th February.

When Mr. McDowell returned from the burial of those shot on Jewish Hill, he reported that they had found forty bodies and identified all but five or six.

On Wednesday night, a still more horrible deed was committed at Gulpashan. This village and Iriawa had been shielded, partly through the efforts of a German; but on Wednesday night a band of Persian volunteers, arriving from Salmas or beyond, went there, took fifty men, and, according to reports, shot them in the graveyard near by. They then plundered the village, took girls and young women, outraged them, and acted in general as one might expect Satan to do when turned loose.

The horror and sadness of everything has been brought nearer to us by the death of Mlle. Madelaine Perrochet, a young Swiss girl who came with the Coans four months ago to teach the missionary children. She was only twenty-one, so bright, so pretty, that we had all learned to love her dearly. She spoke English well, and, of course, French and German. She died on Thursday, after dinner, and yesterday (Friday) we had the funeral service in Dr. Coan’s living room, led by Mr. McDowell. We could not take her out to our little cemetery at Seir, so she was buried in Dr. Coan’s garden, just at the right of the entrance to the long grape-arbour. In his prayer Mr. McDowell used the words: “We are not only walking in the valley of the shadow of death, but we are dwelling there in these weeks.”

Just now two of the young Syrians who are the chief men in helping with the bread came in and told me that they had received warning secretly that they had better leave here and hide with some friendly Moslems, as the Turkish Consul is going to take out all the young men from our yards and other places in the city and kill them—“wipe them out.” I cannot believe that it can be true, but we cannot know. If they enter our yards by force and murder men, then there is no further safety for any of us. As one of these young men said just now: “Let us commit everything into the hands of God, and then wait and be ready for whatever comes.”

Typhus is raging at the College. Yesterday there were seventy cases at the College compound, and over a hundred others on diet, with the probability of a large part of them developing typhoid. It is impossible to take care of so many cases or 136feed them properly under such conditions. At the hospital they are buying all the milk and mesta (matzoun) they can get. Mrs. Cochran has had charge of the feeding there, as well as doing much else, and yesterday she went to bed; to-day there are symptoms of typhoid. Mrs. Coan and Miss Coan took care of Mlle. Perrochet, and the last week or two had the help of a Syrian woman who has had a nurse’s course in America, Miss George. She has proved very efficient and a great help and comfort.

Saturday Night.

There was a great deal of anxiety lest something should happen here; but we woke on Sunday morning in safety and saw a rainbow in the northern sky, though there was no rain. The reports of Mr. Allen from Gulpashan were too black to be written. The soldiers sent out by the Consul to protect the villages against Kurds and Moslem looters left unviolated hardly a woman or girl of those remaining in the village, and a number of girls were carried off. It seemed quite apparent that they understood that the whole business of protecting was to be a farce. When on Sunday morning Mr. Allen returned and wanted to bring people with him, he was not permitted. Those who had been murdered in the cemetery a few nights previously had been buried under a few inches of earth, and when he wanted to have them uncovered to identify them and bury them deeper, he was refused. The soldiers had made them all sit down on the ground and then shot at them. They then looked them over, and any who were found to be breathing were shot the second time. The only reason for all this was that they bore the name of “Christian.” What has the Christian world to say?

Mr. McDowell went to Iriawa and found similar conditions there. We were very glad to see him and Mr. Allen safely back, for they undoubtedly were in jeopardy themselves and were treated insolently by the soldiers.

Mrs. Cochran is better, and we feel now that she will not have typhoid. It is a tremendous relief. Only seven died here in this quarter yesterday. The death list here has passed the thousand mark, and, including the Boys’-School yard and the College, fifteen hundred. All the past week three young men and myself have been kept busy all the morning and into the middle of the afternoon examining bread tickets, hearing pleas, and giving out new tickets as the new refugees have come in. The last several days we have purchased, without counting the College, nearly ten thousand pounds of bread daily.

Friday, 5th March.

Mrs. Cochran has typhoid, but so far in a light form. Mrs. Coan and Miss Coan are taking on her work as best they can, and caring for her too, with the help of the Syrian nurse, Miss George. Dr. Packard has been in bed two or three days, but we do not know if it is typhoid or not. Mr. Allen went to 137Gulpashan with permission from the Turkish Consul, to bury those who had been murdered. He found fifty bodies. When he came back, a crowd of sixty-four, mostly women and girls, came with him. Our yards and rooms, including the church, are crowded again, but with cleaner people. Most of the mountaineers are out. Two families of mountaineers who are friendly with the Kurds started out yesterday for their homes. It is spring now, and time for ploughing and sowing, and unless the people can soon get to their villages there will be a dearth of wheat and other grain next year. There are repeated reports of the approach of the Russian army, and some Germans here have said that they were soon expecting to go on a journey. If the Turks should have to flee, there is no telling what they might do before going; but we do not dare to let our hopes of deliverance rise, for it makes the long wait harder.

A few days ago the ex-Turkish Consul sent word that if there were any girls held captive that we wanted to get, he would find them for us. That looks as if there had been a quarrel—or perhaps it is a trick to trip us into being unwise. It takes the wisdom of the serpent as well as the simplicity of the dove!

Saturday, 6th March.

Dr. Packard has developed typhoid. There is only Mrs. Packard to take care of him, and she is far from strong, and there are four lively boys to care for and keep out of mischief and danger. Since Mlle.’s death, it leaves the children’s education on the mothers’ shoulders, and Mrs. Packard has been trying to take the bulk of it.

This morning I made out the second month’s report of the bread funds which have passed through my hands. So far we have spent approximately £1,500. Over £120 has been collected in sales, which leaves nearly £1,400 debt for us. This does not include College or Boys’-School yard. All of this has been spent on dry bread alone, two hundred and twenty-three and a half tons, all brought in on the backs of carriers. About one hundred and fifty pounds is a man’s load. This month we have distributed four and a quarter tons a day.

Evening.

There is considerable fear to-night among the Christians that the Turks may strike a blow before they go. We have twenty-five extra guards of Persian soldiers. All day Moslem villagers have been fleeing to the city in fear of what the Russians may do when they come. We do not know how near they are, for we have no means of communication. It would seem strange to lie down in quiet and peace, knowing that all fear and terror to these poor people were passed.

Sunday, 7th March.

Dr. Packard is very sick with typhoid; yesterday his temperature was 105. He seems quieter to-day. Dr. Pera, former hospital 138assistant, has promised to take care of him every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Mrs. Packard will be night-nurse. Mrs. Cochran seems to be getting along quietly. Thirty cases of typhoid are reported in one of the houses in the suburbs, which a few days ago we filled up with refugees brought from the College compound. They probably brought the germ with them. The only reason it is not raging here is the eternal vigilance of Mr. McDowell in looking after sanitary conditions and the watercourses. He has frequently to appeal to the Governor to get donkeys for carrying off refuse, though he pays well. As the church is full of refugees, two meetings are held daily in the Seminary yard. Kasha Moshi of Geogtapa makes a fine outdoor preacher.

Just now, as I came from dinner, a woman met me, leading a little girl by the hand, and in her most wheedling tones tried to present her to me as a gift, saying she was her great-grandchild. I laughed and said I already had one hundred such gifts. She felt that I was not properly appreciative! There are scores of people who would like to dump their responsibilities under these conditions. We have had a number of cases of relatives deserting old and helpless women and leaving them for us to care for until they died.

Monday, 8th March.

Yesterday there was general fasting and prayer until noon for Dr. Packard’s and Mrs. Cochran’s recovery. There is a beginning of what we hope may be a deep and permanent spiritual awakening. In such times one lives in the presence of eternal realities, and Heaven seems quite near. It is marvellous how the Word of God speaks to us in every condition and experience through which we pass.

Tuesday, 9th March.

On Sunday a Mohammedan orator made a speech in a garden in Dilgusha to a crowd of several thousand people, practically all Moslems. He said that Italy and Persia had joined in the alliance with Germany, Austria and Turkey, and, of course, are in the way of victory. America had taken no part in this war, but is doing good all over the world without regard to race or religion, caring for the sick and wounded, feeding the hungry and befriending the needy. The American missionaries here, he said, have done and are doing this, and everyone should honour them and stand up for them. At this there was great applause.

Last night a body of askars entered the house of Dr. ——, whose yard adjoins ours, and demanded Mar Elia, a Russian Bishop, who has been in hiding these last weeks. They didn’t find him, but took about forty pounds’ worth of money and jewellery and frightened the people nearly to death. Our watchman called Mr. McDowell and Mr. Allen and they tried to go over to the help of the women. Mr. McDowell climbed the 139ladder from this side to go over into their yard, but at the top met a gun in the hands of an askar, who demanded his retreat. Mr. McDowell, out of respect for the gun, didn’t insist on having his way. That yard is not in our hands and we have no flag there, so, of course, we couldn’t do anything. This has scared the people again. This morning one woman brought me some jewelleryjewellery and papers to keep for her. She had been in America and only returned last spring, and was bewailing her stupidity in returning. She says she is only waiting for a way to open for her to go back, never to return. Hundreds are saying the same thing, and I think there will be a large emigration to America when the way opens. I wouldn’t mind emigrating myself for a while!

Friday, 12th March.

We cannot complain of the monotony of life for these last two or three days. It was on Monday night that the Turks tried to get the Bishop, but he escaped over the church roof. The next afternoon they suddenly appeared again, and this time found him hiding on the church roof behind a parapet. He tried to get down an old ladder standing by the wall, but the askar who was at the other end of the roof raised his gun and told him he would shoot if he attempted to run, so he was captured. It is said that he had two thousand tomans in gold and Russian paper money on his person. This, of course, was taken. The most unfortunate incident of that capture was the arrest at the same time of Dr. Lokman. At Mr. McDowell’s request, Dr. Lokman (Syrian) had gone over the wall into Dr. ——’s house to find out if there were any typhoid cases there, and was caught by the askars. Our mission at once began to make efforts to secure their release. The Turkish Consul demanded £200 for Dr. Lokman and £2,000 for the Bishop. In the evening he sent word that unless they were immediately redeemed they would be shot at midnight. He ordered the Persian Governor to send eight men to assist at the shooting. In the meantime they had gotten hold of another man or two. When word came about Dr. Lokman there was some hustling to find the money. “Brides” (young married women) were asked to give up the gold pieces from their dowry, and in a short time the £200 was sent. When Dr. Lokman was notified of his release he was sleeping soundly without any realization of the doom hanging over him. When he reached our yards and his family and friends congratulated him, he felt like one raised from the dead. Just as soon as he heard that the others were still in danger, he said: “Well, we must try to do something to release them.” He is one of the most prominent Syrians here and influential with the Persian Government. From the first day of these troubles he has been on hand to help in governmental affairs in every way possible. All day yesterday efforts were being made to get money to redeem the others.

140These last two nights our yards have been overflowing with people from the Christian quarter here, and already the Moslems from the villages are crowding into the city for fear of the Russians. As one of our bakers said yesterday: “The city gates cannot let them in fast enough.” The city is in a panic for fear of what the Russians will do to the Moslems when they arrive. Heaven grant that they will act in the spirit of Christ and not of Mohammed! Everywhere the Moslems are now anxious to show themselves friends of Christians. David gives expression to my sentiments concerning the wicked in Ps. 59.

The Germans, I understand, have already left, except one of the leaders, and he is ready to go in haste. Yesterday I had to stay in bed with a headache, and it seemed to me that the very air was vibrating with expectation and excitement. Ten thousand times a day the petition arises, “O Lord, deliver us.” Ten weeks to-morrow! It seems impossible to hold out much longer. “O Lord, deliver us from the hand of the wicked.” Dr. Packard is still quite sick. Mrs. Cochran seems to be getting along slowly. They have so many cases of typhoid at the College that they have put up the big tent in the School yard there for a hospital.

Tuesday, 16th March.

To-day our hearts are heavy and sorrowful. Dr. Packard is very sick indeed, and it seems now as if Miss Coan has typhoid or typhus, whichever this sickness is. Mrs. Cochran appears to be getting along all right. We want Dr. Vanneman from Tabriz, but there seems to be no way to get a message through to him. Dr. Shedd asked the Turkish Consul to help us get a messenger through, but he said he couldn’t. The Russians are between Urmia and Tabriz. We have twenty-five or thirty cases of typhoid here in this compound. Mr. McDowell is trying to empty a few rooms to put the sick in, but it is very difficult.

Last night there was great fear again in Mart Maryam lest the new arrivals might devise some new evil for them, and many wanted to crowd into our yard, but every place is full. We are feeding 15,000 persons daily, one loaf each. A note by secret messenger came from Dr. Vanneman a few days ago, saying that they had received £1,200 for relief. This means a great deal, but it will pay only a third of the debt we already have. The Turks still hold Shamasha Lazar and Mar Elia (Bishop) for a big ransom. Our funds are getting low, and Mr. Müller has borrowed some money at 24 per cent. interest. Last week our hopes of deliverance were high, but hope so long deferred makes the heart grow faint. Mr. McDowell was trying to get some sick people out of the big school-room when he saw a tired and weary woman, with a baby in her arms, sitting in one of the seats, and said to her: “Where do you stay?” She said: “Just here.” “How long have you been here?” “Since the beginning (two months),” she replied. “How do you sleep at night?” “I lay the baby on the desk in front of me, and I have this post at 141the back to lean against. This is a very good place. Thank you very much.”

The men don’t dare to go outside our yards for fear of being arrested and held for ransom. One of the Syrian physicians was asked by a missionary to go outside and see some sick. He laughed and said: “I’ll go if you will pay the bill.”

Thursday, 18th March.

It is such a relief to have Dr. Packard come to himself again, though he is very weak. Miss Coan’s fever still continues, and Miss Lamme has gone to the College to help there. This morning Mr. McDowell is down with fever, but we hope it is only malaria. Shamasha Lazar, who has been a prisoner for a week at the Turkish Consulate, was released on payment of one thousand tomans cash on the condition that he finds the other £400 within two days.

If there were a mail or some other way open to Tabriz, we could sell orders on Dr. Vanneman, our Mission Treasurer in Tabriz, but the bankers will not buy such orders now because they can’t dispose of them until a way to Tabriz is opened. The day before yesterday we tried to make a bargain with our twenty or more Mohammedan bakers, who are supplying us with about six tons of bread daily, to let us have it on twenty days’ credit. They agreed to do it on condition that at the end of ten days we would pay half; but after they left here they agreed among themselves that they would not deliver bread yesterday, though they didn’t tell us. In the morning, when we found that no bread was coming, we sent out and got other bakers to deliver for cash. When our regular bakers found we were buying elsewhere, they came back, and after a long discussion they promised to deliver for twenty days, if we would pay half every five days. So it stands; we shall see if they stick to their bargain. Fortunately, yesterday we had half a day’s supply on hand, and managed to buy enough to finish out. There is a cash famine, and anyone who has any money wants to hold on to it in such uncertain times.

This morning, a little after five, we were aroused by shouts and a commotion near by. The askars with their officers had entered the English mission yard by climbing a ladder from the street over the wall into the yard of a Mr. ——, who is a Syrian, but an English subject. The watchman gave the alarm, and Mr. Muller and Mr. Allen were soon on the spot. Of course they couldn’t do anything but reassure the women. Eight or ten men were arrested and taken away, probably to be held for ransom. That property has been connected with ours from the beginning of these troubles, and the American flag has been over the entrance. Mr. Allen said to the officer: “You don’t intend to respect the American flag?” He replied: “The Turkish flag is also there.” (It is under the American flag.) This makes one feel doubtful for the safety of our own yards. It is wonderful 142how quiet these thousands of people can keep while such things are going on. A number of women and girls sleep in the parlour adjoining my room, and I opened the door and told them not to leave the room. They said: “No, we are only dressing”; but it was evident that they were trembling with fear; and this is the state we have lived in for eleven weeks.

One of the most pitiful objects of humanity that I have ever yet seen came into the room to ask for a ticket—a boy of about twelve or fourteen, wasted to a mummy-like skeleton by hunger and sickness, so weak that he could hardly stand or speak, unbathed for these many months. I asked where he had been staying. He said: “In the school-room.”

The Turks have demanded ten thousand suits of shirts and pyjamas for the army. Eight thousand were demanded from the Moslem women, and two thousand from the Christian or Syrian women. As the latter are practically all here with us and in the Christian quarter, it fell upon the missionaries to take the responsibility, so Miss Schoebel took charge. So far fifty-five bolts of calico have been sent; Miss Schoebel gave out the material to responsible women, and they in turn found others to help with the sewing (mostly by hand) and about eight hundred of the shirts are ready. How would you like to sit down and make clothes for Turks and Kurds who had robbed you, burned your homes, murdered your husbands, brothers, and fathers, dishonoured your women, and carried your girls into captivity?

Saturday, 20th March.

The prisoners taken from the English Mission yards by the Turks were kept about twenty-four hours, examined, and to the great and unexpected joy of everyone were set free without ransom. The Turks said they had heard that a Russian spy was being kept in that yard, and when they found no evidence of this, they set the men free. Another thing may have had something to do with it. The night before last several Turkish soldiers who were sick with typhoid went to the College compound. When informed that there was absolutely no place for them, they returned to the Consulate, which is in the former Russian Mission. The Shahbanda then sent for Dr. Shedd. It was after nightfall and we didn’t know why he was sent for, but were fearful lest another blow might be about to fall upon us. But he asked him if we would be willing to care for their sick, a dozen or more, who have typhoid. He was told that there was no room in the hospital or College building adjoining, which are already crowded full of sick, but that we would do what we could. This probably had something to do with the dismissal of the prisoners. For two days no other arrests have been made, and only the Bishop is now a prisoner. The last ransom they asked for him was fifteen thousand tomans. The Shahbanda has said that he is going to take down all the American flags except the one over our main entrance. We have several other properties adjoining 143ours which are full of refugees, and several of the naturalized citizens have American flags up.

We are happy this morning that all our sick are better. Mr. McDowell was up yesterday and Miss Schoebel has no fever this morning, so it looks as if she had only malaria. Mrs. Cochran is getting along finely; Dr. Packard we hope has passed the crisis; Miss Coan seems to be having a fight case. Our rooms, hallways, and every place are crowded to the limit again. The men are afraid to stay anywhere else for fear of arrest. The Turks have given out word that several thousand troops are coming, and are demanding houses in Mart Maryam, and those turned out have nowhere else to go.

We are having trouble in getting bread, as the bakers refuse to deliver without cash on the spot. They say the “blue eyes” (Russians) will return, “and then you will not pay us.” Mr. Müller will try to-day to get wheat on several months’ credit, and we shall use that instead of cash if possible. I am realizing what a wonderful thing money is, and what a dreadful thing it is to be without it, especially under such circumstances. As long as we could pay cash we couldn’t stop some of the bakers from bringing more than we wanted. We feel, with so many of our number sick, so many others busy caring for them, the end of our money in sight, and our physical strength almost exhausted, that surely deliverance must be near. Through eleven weeks we have looked for it in vain.

I have just paid a visit to the school dining-room, which is one of our hospital rooms. If there is another spot on this earth of more concentrated human misery, I hope I may never know it. One boy had just died. The mother looked up at me so pitifully, and said: “Lady, he is dead.” Another baby was lying on the floor dying, under the influence of khash-khash (opium). The mother has no milk for lack of food, and the baby is dying of starvation. The mother said: “Khanum, I am so sick, what shall I do?” I could only reply: “I do not know.” Twenty others were lying on the floor, without bedding, in various stages of misery, groaning, weeping and appealing for help. One child was lying on his father’s coat with a hard bundle under his head, with the marks of slow starvation upon him. To-morrow he too will probably be gone, and we shall thank God that it is so. They are so many, our strength and our means are so limited, the rooms are so crowded, we can do little for them and death is their best friend. One of our Bible Women is lying here, with her two daughters on one side of her and her sister on the other. Her boy died a few weeks ago. When I spoke to her she tried to raise herself up and tell me about some of the other sick in the room. We have been furnishing matting for the sick to lie on, and using Mr. Sterrett’s supply of wood for fires in the sick room; the rest have had to do without fires except the few who have been able to get wood for their rooms. In one of the typhoid 144rooms yesterday I noticed a pile of charred wood in the corner and asked about it. They said they had sent to the village and brought in the half-burned beams of their homes for fuel. That was all that was left of their house, except a pile of mud. Others have done the same thing.

Yesterday Rabi Nanou, one of our Bible Women, went out as usual to hold meetings in the places where large numbers of refugees, mostly mountain people, are huddled together. She was stopped in the street by an askar who demanded her long coat. She told him she had been stripped of everything when she first fled from her village, and that the coat had since been given her by one of the missionary ladies. He said, nevertheless, it was not necessary for her, and demanded that she should take it off. Just then another askar came up who had been a guard at our gate. He interfered, saying that he knew her as a deaconess who went out every day to preach to the people, and she was allowed to go on with her coat.

A while ago I took some soft-boiled eggs and several pieces of bread to the sick ones in the dining-room, and to Rabi Surra and her family. They are very grateful for everything. I’ve no doubt that, if they were properly fed, most of them would be up in a week.

Sunday, 21st March.

Yesterday Mr. McDowell called a meeting of all the native doctors to try to get them to help in the responsibility of caring for the increasing number of typhoid cases. There are a number of doctors who do practically nothing and find excuses when anything is asked of them. It is hard to understand how they can spend hours every day sitting in their rooms or walking up and down the pavement here while they might be doing something to help in the care of the scores of sick people and in the effort Mr. McDowell is making for the preservation of the health of the community. Our assistant physician, Dr. Daniel Werda, is sick with typhoid, and Dr. David, of Soujboulak, who went out to the hospital to help, has been brought home sick. Dr. Pera, our former assistant, is at the College compound now, helping with the sick missionaries and a few special cases, and Dr. Joseph Khoshaba has consented to go out there to help. Dr. Theo. Mar Yosep has been our stand-by from the very beginning, and is the only native doctor here in the city yards who has really worked. He has been on hand every day.

Tuesday, 23rd March.

Sunday evening was the beginning of the Persian New Year, Noruz, and as soon as the cannon went off to announce that the New Year had begun there was a great firing of guns and torpedoes, more than usual. It was kept up for half-an-hour or more, and many of the people were badly frightened, thinking that perhaps a battle was on. We heard the next day that the Shahbanda was scared, not knowing what it was.

145The Shahbanda sent forty-eight bolts of muslin for pyjamas, and the women under Miss Schoebel’s directions are now sewing on them, having finished eight hundred and fifty shirts.

The smells in our backyards are almost unbearable. I can’t open my back window at all. The sun is quite hot and dries things up; it also brings out the awful smells. Last night the Shahbanda gave us permission to send a messenger to Tabriz for Dr. Vanneman. Our sick are all getting along fairly well. Dr. Packard has passed the crisis and each day seems a little bit better. There are about twenty-five Turks in the hospital now.

Thursday, 25th March.

We are trying to send away some of the people by taking back their bread tickets to-day; but we cannot give them any assurance of safety. They are so crowded here, and there is so much sickness, and money is so scarce, that it seems the lesser of two evils to send some of the people away, even though a few be killed.

Yesterday we gave each of the sixty sick persons in the school dining-room a soft-boiled egg, and in the afternoon tea, which was served by two or three school-girls. Sugar and tea are so expensive, about three times the regular price, that it costs about six shillings just to treat that one room to tea. The big school-room is in just as bad a condition as the dining-room, only with so many more tenants that it seems impracticable to do anything there. I’ve no doubt that if hundreds of these people were properly fed for a week they would be on their feet, but it is beyond our means and our strength. Just now the voice of Kasha Moushi Douman of Geogtapa comes to me through the open window of the paved school court where he is preaching. Twice a day preaching exercises are held in the school yard, and besides there are a number of preachers and women who go round daily to rooms and other yards for services.

Monday, 29th March.

We have had two or three rainy days, which are very hard for the people. Some of the sick are lying on the balcony with almost no covering or bedding. I saw one of the most awful sights I have yet seen on the school balcony yesterday—a woman stretched out on the bare bricks, half-naked, in the throes of death, the damp cold air blowing over her, friendless, helpless. The whole school-room, aisles, desks, corners, and platform is filled with the most miserable of the starving sick. We made the man who has charge of our tea-stand take the samovars there yesterday, Palm Sunday, and give each of the one hundred and fifty people two large glasses of tea. It costs about twelve shillings, but eight shillings were given me by Syrians. With the thousands of dollars of debt just for dry bread, we don’t feel we can borrow money for special food for the sick ones, except in limited quantities for typhoid patients. We need space more 146than anything else, rooms where we could put the sick on straw mats with at least a quilt over them, a fire and a little food besides dry bread, which many are too sick to eat. It seems dreadful to think of two thousand people dying here in this way, but after twelve weeks of it we cannot but feel glad every time one more of these helpless suffering ones finds rest. Sometimes for days I seem to be hardened past feeling, and then again the horror of it all sweeps over me. We pray and pray and cry out to God for deliverance, but no help comes. We seem shut off from the rest of the world and left to our fate. Nothing from the outside world for three months! We hear many reports, but few materialize. We are told that word has come that the Crown Prince has arrived in Tabriz and that Urmia should celebrate, so there has been a great deal of firing of cannon, display of banners, and decoration. We have had our entrance decorated with banners and rugs. There is a great deal of rejoicing among the Persians, who desire to see the Persian Government strong enough to turn out both Turk and Russian.

A few days ago, Mr. Müller managed to borrow a thousand tomans from a merchant in the bazaar. It was counted out in two-kran silver pieces. This he was bringing home on the back of a porter, he walking close behind with a Persian soldier. Suddenly he found himself surrounded by six Kurds, armed to the teeth with guns, cartridge belts, and daggers. Two walked ahead and punched the money-bag to assure themselves that it was really money; the others pressed close behind Mr. Müller as they followed him through the streets. They asked him where he was taking the money, but he walked on in dignified silence, not deigning to answer, though trembling for the safety of the money. They reached our gate in safety, and as he turned in, Mr. Müller thanked the Kurds for their safe escort. They laughed and passed on. Some of the young Syrians who guard the gate report that a few days ago a bunch of Kurds in passing stopped to talk and said: “We came down here to the plain with the intention of killing you all, not one of you would have escaped, but (pointing to the Stars and Stripes over the gate) we don’t dare pass under that flag!“ Everybody feels that had we not been able to give refuge to the Christians, there would have been few left to tell the tale; and so even yet we do not dare to force the people out, and they all say: “We would rather die here of hunger and disease than take our chances with the Kurds and Turks.”

Our sick missionaries all seem to be getting along well, and we are very thankful. The typhoid here in the city is usually light, and there are few deaths from it, though many from dysentery. Measles almost disappeared some time ago.

Thursday, 1st April.

Rabi Nannou of Geogtapa, our best Bible Woman, has died of pneumonia, after a few days’ illness. For the three months 147that she has been a refugee here she has been a fearless and faithful worker, going out daily for religious meetings to the houses where the mountaineers have been huddled, looking after the sick, not hesitating to go to any place where she could help. For several years she has supported from her small salary her brother’s four orphan children, and has been to them both father and mother. Herself unmarried, she has given her means and love unselfishly to these as if they were her own children. There is no one to fill her place.

We have started to buy wheat on credit, as our cash is very low and we are not able to get more money. We have just bought four hundred bushels from Rabi David of Degala for part of his debt to us. When he was in prison and fined one thousand tomans to save his head, we furnished part of the cash and took his note. He can’t pay cash now, so he is paying in wheat, which we will have ground to give to the hungry. What credit we can get for bread is for a few days only. Most of the bakers need the money to carry on their business.

Friday, 2nd April.

Bertha Shedd, ten years old, has been sick with typhoid for several days, and now Miss Lamme is beginning; the latter went out to the hospital about two weeks ago to help there when Miss Coan went down with it. Dr. Packard, Mrs. Cochran, and Miss Coan are getting well. Oraham Badel, our financial agent and general assistant in the City Compound, is very low this morning—just as I was writing he died, leaving a wife and four little ones.

Several hundred Turkish troops have come into the city, evidently in retreat, as there are wounded among them. It is not evident from which direction they came. Last evening one of the Turkish officers came rushing in here in great distress. He had taken poison by mistake and came in here to be saved. He was given an emetic, and his life was saved. They have heard of germs and are very much afraid of typhoid, and had some corrosive sublimate in a glass for washing hands. This man saw it and, thinking it was wine or whiskey, poured it down his throat. He was terribly scared, and after being relieved of the poison, it was suggested that, as his life had been saved, he should try to save other lives.

Sunday, 4th April.

This journal is fast becoming an obituary. At first the hundreds who died were the poorest and the weakest, but now many from among our best are going. Yesterday Dr. Daniel Werda, Dr. Packard’s assistant, died of typhoid. For three days Mrs. McDowell has been in bed with high fever. It is not evident yet that it is typhoid. Last night our cook went to bed with typhoid. Miss Schoebel is now trying to make her comfortable and makes her old mother look after her. All day we have been 148trying to get something to eat for the hundreds of sick who have nothing for Easter. Easter is the Syrian “Great Feast,” and is to them what Christmas is to us. They say: “The Little Feast (Christmas) was black, and now the Great Feast is black too.” They had hoped so much that deliverance might come before the feast. We have given eggs and soup to about five hundred sick, and before evening I hope a glass of tea will be given to as many more. To-morrow we plan to give soup to several hundred more that we didn’t reach to-day. We don’t use relief money for anything but bread, and so have only personal funds for the sick—a very little.

Tuesday, 6th April.

We have dwelt so long in the valley of death with the sick, the starving, the dying, with the unending procession of little bodies sewn up in a piece of cloth, friendless corpses carried out on ladders, with gaping mouths and staring eyes, crude unpainted coffins, coffins covered with black chintz, the never-ceasing wail, and eyes of the mourners that are never dried, hands outstretched for what we cannot give, and now so many of our own number are down. I felt on Sunday as if I ought to get my own burial clothes ready so as to make as little trouble as possible when my turn came, for in these days we all go about our work knowing that any one of us may be the next to go down. And yet I think our friends would be surprised to see how cheerful we have kept, and how many occasions we find for laughing; for ludicrous things do happen. Then, too, after dwelling so intimately with death for three months, he doesn’t seem to have so unfriendly an aspect, and the “Other Side” seems very near and our Pilot close beside us. It is at such times that one finds out just how much faith in the unseen he has, and just how much his religion is worth. I find the Rock on which I can anchor in peace are the words of Christ Himself: “Where I am, there ye may be also.” “If any man serve Me let him follow Me, and where I am, there shall also My servant be.” That is enough—to be where He is. Recently, as I have read sermons or books written for the trying times of life, I have found them tame and insufficient for the occasion; our own experiences are so much more intense and go so much deeper that nothing but the words of God Himself can reach to the bottom. I have been re-reading Browning’s Prospice, but it doesn’t thrill me as much as it did, for I have something better: “For I know whom I have believed....” and “I am persuaded that Death cannot separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Afternoon.

This morning Mrs. McDowell’s rose-spots appeared, and now we know that she has typhoid or typhus (it was typhoid). Rabi Ister Alamshah has consented to help in the care of Mrs. McDowell. Miss Schoebel and I were perfectly willing to nurse her, but it would mean throwing our work on some other missionary already 149loaded up. Mr. McDowell will give up some of his work and help in nursing Mrs. McDowell. There are now six of our number sick, and it is impossible not to feel that someone else will go down in a few days unless it becomes possible to send the crowds away.

Evening.

To-day Miss Lamme’s rose-spots appeared, so her case is pronounced typhoid.

     *     *     *     *     *     *

Thursday, 3rd June.

Almost two months since I last wrote in my journal. On Sunday, the 11th April, I went to bed with typhoid or typhus, and three days later Miss Schoebel went down with it also. Rabi Elishua, a teacher of the Persian Girls’-School, came to nurse me at once. She kept up for three weeks and saw me through the worst of my sickness; then she took the disease. Three of the other Seminary teachers in succession came to care for Miss Schoebel, and each one went down with the disease in turn. Miss Bridges, of the American Orphanage, came to help us during the day, and in twelve days went to bed with typhus. She is just getting about again. All the teachers who helped to care for us have recovered, though one of the other teachers died. We were all surprised to find how competent these untrained, inexperienced girls were as nurses when there were no available missionaries left to nurse us. We were dependent upon them and got along finely without any complications. When the last one went down we knew that she was the last intelligent nurse we should find, and after that we were dependent upon ignorant village women.

A great many things happened during the two months of our illness and convalescence. A very large number of our Syrian friends died. Of our own circle Mrs. McDowell died on the 16th April, and Mrs. Shedd on the 17th May. We can’t take in yet what their loss will mean to us when we get to living under normal conditions. Mrs. Müller attended Miss Schoebel and me for two and a half weeks; then she took the fever. Her little boy was born in a few days, but only lived overnight. This is the fourth grave we have out in Dr. Coan’s orchard by the grape-arbour. It hasn’t been possible to take them to our cemetery at Seir. This week Mr. Müller went to bed with typhus. His fever has been high. He is the thirteenth out of eighteen missionaries to get the fever, besides two of the children, Bertha Shedd and Ruth Müller. On Monday, Mr. Labaree, with two nurses, Miss Easton of the Tabriz hospital and Miss Burgess, who had reached Tabriz on her way to Urmia, arrived. Mr. Labaree had been trying for weeks to get through, but was unable until the Russian army opened the way. Yesterday, the 5th June, Dr. Lamme arrived and began work last evening. One of the hard things during these five long months was our isolation from the outside world. Of course we knew that our friends 150were thinking of and praying for us, but it is a great help to have the tangible evidence in the shape of these friends and of letters from many others.

On Sunday, the 24th May, the advanced guard of the Russian army entered Urmia, and in the afternoon the commander came to call on our gentlemen. When we learned that the army would not remain, but were ordered to follow the enemy, there was consternation and great fear. And when the army moved on, the Moslems immediately began to annoy and rob the Syrians who had returned to their villages. There was great fear of a Moslem uprising against the Christians, and hundreds fled in the direction of Salmas. Finally the Russians left a small guard of about two hundred men. Three days ago about six thousand Russian troops, with artillery, came in from the south and marched through the city. We watched them from our roof, and it was a goodly sight to us besieged people. We shall try now to empty our yards of refugees. A few days ago there were still about one thousand left in our own yards and in one yard adjoining, which we have been renting for refugees, besides many others in surrounding yards. The stench in our back yard is almost unbearable. I don’t know how we can get rid of the smells or disinfect the ground, which must be soaked for two or three feet, as that yard has been used as a latrine for hundreds of people for more than five months.

Yesterday two Red Cross nurses, who have come with the Russian army from Mongolia, asked to be our guests for a few days until the army moved on in the direction of Erzeroum. They say that from there they will go to Jerusalem. When travelling they dress like the Cossacks, but wear their nurses’ costumes in the house.

A few days ago a number of prominent Syrians, who had fled when the Russians evacuated Urmia, returned, many of them to broken and badly damaged homes. We had a service of thanksgiving in the church yesterday, the first time for many months, as it had been occupied by refugees. Thousands have lived in such terror and want, it is a wonder that many have not lost their minds. It has seemed sometimes as if our tears were all dried up and our emotions were dead, we have seen and felt so much. I suppose it is nature’s way of saving brain and nerve. When I look at these poor wretched creatures and little children like skeletons, I find I still have some feelings left. It is estimated that four thousand people have died from disease, hunger, and exposure, and about a thousand by violence. The suffering can never be told, nor is it ended. Hundreds, yes thousands, are destitute, and even if we empty our yard there is no one left but the missionaries to save them from starvation, and we look to America. In the name of all Christians we have tried to witness for Christianity before this Moslem people. Will the Christians of America pay the bill?


46. Note by Miss Platt.—The term Syrian, as used here, applies to the Christian nation who speak the Syriac language, and who are Nestorians by religious belief. In America they call themselves Persian-Assyrians.

47. Christian quarter of the city, adjoining the mission property.

48. A toman is about four shillings.

151

32. URMIA AFTER ITS EVACUATION BY THE TURKS AND KURDS: LETTER DATED URMIA, 20th MAY, 1915, FROM MRS. J.P. COCHRAN TO FRIENDS IN THE UNITED STATES; COMMUNICATED BY THE BOARD OF FOREIGN MISSIONS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE U.S.A.

It seems almost too good to be true to think that we are going to get in touch once more with the outside world, and may be it is. But, anyway, the Governor says he will send a messenger over to Tabriz to-morrow to carry letters and perhaps he will get through safely.

I have no idea what has leaked through to civilisation since we fell out of the world, but I will give you as much of an account of the last four months and a half as the brief time allowed before the messenger goes will permit.

On New Year’s Day we had our usual day of receiving callers in the city; all our Syrian and some Moslem friends called and things seemed fairly safe, though we knew we might be on the edge of war, as there was an army of Turks and Kurds within a day’s march of us. They were said to be coming on to fight the Russians, who with a little force, of two thousand, perhaps, were strongly entrenched here.

The next morning the Russians rose and left in haste, and many of our Syrian men and others who were known to be their supporters here left with them. Our teaching force here at the College, our newspaper and printing press work, and even our city church work was terribly crippled by the exodus, as it took away some of our best workers.

The Russians’ departure was the herald for the Kurds to pounce upon the prey they had so long been held at bay from, and, even before they arrived, the Moslem neighbours in all the surrounding villages flew upon the spoil, killing Syrians, running off with their cattle and household goods and even stripping those who were trying to run away from them of their money, bundles and any clothes they took a fancy to. They also carried off women and tried to force Christians to become Moslems, keeping them safely if they would deny their faith or repeat the sentence which constituted the acceptance of Islam. In some cases they were successful in this, though, of course, many would not and some of them were killed for it.

Then came the rush of the Kurds. They came in hundreds from every Kurdish quarter, sore against the Christians for having joined forces with the Russians, who had armed them and drafted them for military service whether they would or not.

They, being armed, put up a fight and killed a good many Kurds in the battles at some of the villages, though there were a couple of thousand Syrians killed too in the villages, before they escaped to the slender protection offered by six unarmed American men in our mission compound. Our flag was put up, not only on our own property here in the city but on all the 152adjoining block of Christian property in the city; doors were made or holes in the walls between all that adjoining property, to bring it under our control, and only our principal big street-gate was allowed to be opened, all others being barricaded. There in the city between ten and fifteen thousand, many thousands of them destitute, congregated and sat huddled in rooms, a hundred in a room or more, sometimes unable to lie down at night on account of the crowding.

We had a good deal of money entrusted to us by the people who had to flee, and as most of it is in silver ten-penny pieces, there being no paper money in circulation here, they could carry away but little, and we took charge of large sums without interest, to be used by us if necessary and repaid when banking was resumed. With this we began to feed the people. It was the system in the city to sell bread until noon, and after that to distribute one of the thin sheets of bread to every one who had nothing to eat and no money to buy anything. This distribution took a force of about twenty or thirty men seven hours to get through.

The city church is in the enclosure under the American flag, and it held three thousand ill-smelling people with their few earthly possessions remaining to them.

Here at the College we had about two thousand, and as we have few buildings the housing was a problem.

We had five hundred in the hospital. Our largest ward has only ten beds in it, and by putting people on the floor between the beds we could get in about twenty, but in two other large wards that we took the bedsteads out of, over a hundred apiece sat huddled together on the floor, without fire or lights, as we could not afford them for them. We had those who were destitute here; those who had escaped with their cattle and a sack of flour or some bedding or a carpet we put over on the other side of the avenue in the College buildings.

I fed those on the hospital side besides attending to the regular hospital routine, which was heavier on account of the wounded Christians who were being brought in every day.

My own rooms consist of my dining room and sitting room, in one of which I have a couch to sleep on, a kitchen and a little room downstairs for my man.

I reserved one room for myself for living, dining and bedroom combined, and took in seven of the College boys, students from the mountains, who are here all the year round and whom I knew pretty well, to bring their native beds to live in my dining room. Seakhan had the kitchen full of her people and friends, seven or eight of them, and Choban took two families into his room downstairs.

The boys helped me by distributing the bread in the hospital and holding evening prayers in the different rooms in the hospital.

153Then we all began to get the typhoid fever. We had some Turkish soldiers in the hospital with it, and the people were ignorant and careless, so we had an epidemic of it. We have seven hundred new-made graves in our compound here at the College, as the result of it.

I have had it and recovered, and am as strong and well as ever, though somewhat thinner, fortunately. I had a Syrian trained nurse, the only one in Urmia, as I was the first missionary to go down with it, being in the most direct contact with it in the hospital (though Dr. Packard went down the day after I did). He also recovered. The little Swiss governess the Coans brought out with them was the first to die of the foreigners, and then followed the death of Mrs. McDowell and, this week, my dear Louise Shedd, my best friend here—a friend of fifteen years’ standing from the time we were together in charge of the seminary. All my boys went down too, and my favourite one died—such a simple, sweet Christian boy. Others of the missionaries who have had it or are having it are Dr. Coan and Elizabeth, Bertha Shedd and Mrs. Müller. Mrs. Müller gave birth to a seven months’ baby boy, who lived a day, and then she went on to have typhoid. Besides these there were Miss Lewis, Miss Schoebel, Miss Lamme and Mr. Allen.

In the hospital there was a time when the head physician-assistant, Dr. Daniel (who died of it), the matron, the druggist, all the nurses, the cook and the bake-woman, the steward and the washer-women were all down together, and two hundred and fifty patients to be taken care of. You can imagine, or rather you can’t begin to imagine, the disorganisation of the place. Elizabeth Coan took my place at first, and in two weeks was having it. Then Miss Lamme came to take her place and in two weeks she, too, was on her back. The Syrian woman who came next to fill the vacancy is still at it, though I am back at some work, being now safe from infection. My man had it, but my woman has weathered the gale so far, and after three months we have to record to-day that for ten days past not one new case has come down here. One of the boys, Seakhan’s mother and two of the men in Choban’s room have died of it in my “family.”

In the city it was even worse. It is raging in our big compound, though from the first they had from ten to forty deaths a day from cold, privation, illness of one kind and another, and perhaps shock from fright. In another part of the city, where we have a big school building for our Moslem boys’-school, three thousand people were rescued and brought in by Dr. Packard s valiant intervention, when he rode up to the Kurdish chief in the thick of a fight between Kurds and the villagers entrenched in Russian trenches and fighting for their lives, begged the lives of the inhabitants, and after parleying awhile succeeded in buying the souls of the people in exchange for their guns. He rode 154back to the city with them after the sun had set on a January night, reaching the city about nine o’clock, their homes being robbed and burned behind them by the Kurds.

Turkish rule and Kurdish plundering have reduced the inhabitants to the verge of starvation, and as yet the end is not in sight.

Yesterday the Turks and Kurds arose and departed, and it is supposed that the Russians are about to return. They are only a day’s journey distant, having just been successful in a long fight with a Turkish army that came from Constantinople via Mosul, and after a three months’ march was cut to pieces by the Russians near Gavilan, a day’s journey from here. There were twenty thousand or more of them, well equipped, but the Russians had the advantage of a fortified position, a knowledge of the lie of the land and perhaps superior numbers. We don’t know anything definite about that.

We haven’t had a word of war news during 1915 so far, and feel as if we were in the bottom of a well as far as seeing what is going on about us is concerned.

No mail has penetrated the veil that hides the world from us, but we have had a telegram from the American Ambassador in Constantinople inquiring for our safety, and have sent telegrams saying we had not been disturbed personally, which is one of the miracles of missions, by the way. Just now things are very tense here; the Moslem Governor is doing well in trying to control things, but the Moslems hate the Christians, so that they are killing some of those who have gone back to their ruined villages to live.

There is no power of description that can overdraw the picture, that is and has been before our eyes constantly, of misery and distress. Instead we have to veil it, for details are too horrible, too revolting to try to convey to people who are not called upon by God to go through it. But whatever the end may be for me, I am sure I can only be thankful God has given me such an unlimited opportunity for service as these past months have been.

If the Russians come back or the Turks stay away, we shall have a mail system established again, if there is such a thing going on across the world nowadays. Since last July we have had little mail on account of the war, but some did leak through till the 1st January (1915), since when we have been like Moses when the light went out.

We are still feeding thousands of people—just enough bread every day to keep life in their bodies—and have saved the Syrian nation but have accumulated thirty or forty thousand dollars (six to eight thousand pounds sterling) of debt, which we don’t know where to find money to repay. We only know of six thousand dollars (£1,200 sterling) that were telegraphed as 155relief two or three months ago. But we hope the Red Cross Society and charitable people in America will send us money.

We haven’t even been able to get our money from the Board sent to Tabriz, but even what could be paid on our regular salaries has been paid out of these borrowed funds. However, when things settle down a little we can get at that if there are any of us left by that time.

Just now I have regularly one school-boy and often a few others at my table, as they are all hungry with the hunger that comes after typhoid and the College fare is reduced to bread and cheese.

The one who eats with me all the time is a boy from the village Dr. Packard delivered, Geogtapa, and his father was killed and his house burned and goods carried off or destroyed. Their food supplies were left, mostly, as the robbers got their fill and could only destroy the rest. For instance, a cellar had jars of molasses smashed and into that was thrown their flour, and on that pickles by jars-full—the big earthen pointed-bottomed jars that household supplies are all stored in here. Into this pudding were thrown their books, few in number, perhaps, but all the more valued for that. Then this boy, because he belongs to a village where soldier guards have been placed and some degree of safety assured, was told that he must go home. That was a general rule, and when I learned the state of things I told him he could eat with me till things cleared up. Then they have fields and vineyards that can be worked, and he has older brothers in America and Tiflis who will look after him. He is about eighteen, the youngest of the family and the only one left at home. He is only one case out of thousands equally at a loss just now. He has his room at the College and sleeps over there with other students.

I hope you have all been kept in safety during these months and will write to me all about yourselves and the world at large.

156

33. URMIA: LETTER, DATED URMIA, 25th MAY, 1915, FROM THE REV. Y.M. NISAN TO THE REV. F.N. HEAZELL, ORGANISING SECRETARY OF THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY’S ASSYRIAN MISSION.

The day after the departure of our missionaries from Urmi, that is, the 3rd January (1915), the Kurds and Turks, and with them a great number of the Moslems of Urmi, began to raid and kill and to make captives from a large part of the Christian villages.

The majority of the Christians, to the number of about 25,000, took refuge in the courtyards of the Americans and French and in our own premises. Up to the present time there is a large number of the Syrians in our yard; another portion, we do not know how many, fled to Russia with the Russian army. The besieged people here were provided with bread, one portion each per day, by the missionaries; but many have not escaped death. People died from the following causes:—(1) From fear; (2) from their bad dwelling places; (3) from cold; (4) from hunger; (5) from typhoid fever—the dead up to now from this disease, as far as we can tell, are from 800 to 1,000. Those who died from the slaughter and raiding of villages numbered 6,000. Many died in the houses of their refuge from the causes mentioned above. About 2,000 died of those who fled (to Russia), either on the road or after their arrival there. In our house my daughter Beatrice died from fright, and, 25 days after Beatrice, Mrs. Nisan died from grief at the loss of her daughter; also Michael, nephew of Khan Audishu, my relative, and to-day his wife, too. Nanajan, my daughter-in-law, and her two sisters are now in bed with typhoid fever.

One day 48 people were seized in the yard of the French Mission. Mar Dinkha, bishop of the Old Church, was one of them. As they were keeping him in prison some days, I tried to buy off Mar Dinkha with the promise of 50 gold pieces, but they asked 100. I was outwitted at that time, for as often as I raised my offer they would advance the price. Then they carried them outside, and when they were bound arm to arm they were all shot.

Once they went to the village of Gulpashan and demanded a sum of money; they took money and carried off everything else as well; 45 men who were on the watch were killed that night.

At the beginning of events, the Turks demanded, in the name of the Persian Government, every kind of weapon for hewing and cutting (instead of knives); these were all seized in the name of the Persian Government. Afterwards two Osmanli officers and some soldiers came to the houses and searched for weapons and men in our yards, and so to every room and cupboard. Boxes were opened and examined, and the people were in the greatest fear.

One day afterwards they entered the yard and seized Mar Elia, the Russian Bishop and Doctor Lokman. After a long imprisonment the Bishop was ransomed for 6,500 tomans, and the 157doctor for 2,000 tomans. The Melet Bashi of the French was taken from their yard and afterwards ransomed for 3,000 tomans. Shamasha Lazar, whose house is just by the American gate, was seized and bought off for 4,500 tomans. The enemy had one list of 80 names, written by their own hand, of men who were doomed to be killed, or bought off at a great price.

Audishu Khan fled from our house to the house of a Moslem friend, and remained hidden for two months, but by the rogues of the village and the commander here he was robbed of 27,000 tomans.

One night two Turkish officers with some soldiers descended by means of a ladder into our yard; they seized Mr. George, our neighbour, and the brother-in-law of Mr. Comin, who was groom in his house; also Jawar, our gatekeeper, and Babu our cook and his son; also Kasha Pilipus, natir kursi of Mar Yohannan, and Asakhan my servant. At that time, because I had two persons very ill, I was watching from the balcony of my house so that they might not enter my rooms. Twice they came beneath the balcony and looked up, and when they saw me they went away. There is no doubt that the angels were watching over us and sent these men away.

At first Jawar’s brother and his son were seized, when carrying bread for him (Jawar). After an imprisonment of two nights and one day we got them out by paying 68 tomans for the two of them. A friend of mine worked this for my sake.

The Osmanlis and the Kurds left Urmi two days ago. The Russian army is now a little way from Urmi. To-day we are very confused and fearful; they are saying that the Russian army will return. One part of the Syrians have fled and left Urmi.

One letter previous to this one—I doubt if it has reached you. I shall be glad if you will let me know quickly what is to be my work here in the future, because just now I am like a bird without a nest and without companions. There is no word from Samuel my son, and I do not know where he is.

158

34. URMIA: NARRATIVE OF DR. JACOB SARGIS, RECORDED IN A DESPATCH, DATED PETROGRAD, 12th FEBRUARY, 1916, FROM THE CORRESPONDENT AT PETROGRAD OF THE AMERICAN “ASSOCIATED PRESS.”

Dr. Jacob Sargis, an American Methodist medical missionary, who has arrived in Petrograd after narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Turks and Kurds in Urmia, Persian Armenia, asserts that among the outrages committed against the Christian refugees was the burning to death of an American doctor named Simon, or Shimmun, as he was known there. His identity was not further established, but the story of the outrage, as told by Dr. Sargis, was as follows:

“Dr. Shimmun was in the village of Supurghan when the Turks attacked that place. He was among those who took refuge on a mountain near the lake. He was captured and told that since he had been a good doctor and had helped the wounded, they would not kill him, but that he must accept the Mohammedan faith. He refused, as almost all Christians did. They poured oil on him, and, before applying the torch, they gave him another chance to forsake his religion. Again he refused, and they set his clothes afire. While he was running in agony from the flames, the Turks shot him several times. After he fell to the ground unconscious, they hacked his head off. Mr. Allen, an American missionary, who went from village to village burying the victims of this butchery, found the body of Shimmun half eaten by dogs.

“The Catholic Mission there took 150 Christians of all sects, and kept them in a small room and tried to save them; but at least 49 of them, among them one Bishop Dinkha, of the Episcopal Mission, were bound together one night, taken to Gagin mountain and there shot down.”

Mr. Sargis was born in Persia, but went to America in 1893, and was educated there by the assistance of Dr. W.F. Oldham, former Bishop of India. He is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan and Ohio Medical University, and was for a time resident physician of the Protestant hospital at Columbus, Ohio.

Dr. Sargis was doing relief work in Urmia on the 1st January last year when the Russian army retired from that city, followed by 14,000 refugees from Urmia and a hundred surrounding villages. The hardships and sufferings endured by those refugees were described in Associated Press despatches. There were still left in Urmia and the villages 45,000 persons, chiefly Armenian refugees, when the Turks and Kurds entered. The latter at once began the work of exterminating the Christian population. In one town alone, Gulpashan, in one night, according to Dr. Sargis, 79 men and boys were tied hand to hand, taken to a hill outside the village and shot. Their wives and daughters were distributed among the Turks, Kurds and Persian Mohammedans.

159Dr. Sargis’ story continues:

“On the second day after the Turkish officers came, they had a good many wounded and sick. As soon as they heard that I was an able physician, they took me, gave me a bodyguard, and put me in charge of Urmia Hospital. That was how I came to learn most of their secrets; I helped their wounded and sick. One day there were sixty men brought from Bashkala, all well-to-do citizens, some of them noted men of that place. They were used as beasts of burden and forced to carry rolls of barbed wire into Urmia. The next day they were all taken to the Castle of Ismayil[49] and every one was shot or hacked to death.

“About that time Nuri, the governor of Gawar, told me that he had received word from the Turkish commander to kill all the Armenian soldiers in the Turkish army. He said that, for my sake, he would not do it, but that somebody else would. Twenty-nine were killed about fifteen miles from Urmia, at Karmad. We had eight of them in the city, fine fellows, some of them educated in Beirout. They had been disarmed, and one night they took them to the suburbs and shot them. But one of them, named Aslam[50], escaped. He dropped with the others, but was not hit. After the butchers left, he made his way to the Presbyterian mission college. I was notified and asked to take care of him. I kept him until the Russian army came. He joined, and is now fighting with them.

“In the First Turkish corps, commanded by Halil Bey, there were about 400 Armenians. One of them, Gulbenkian, a graduate of Beirout, told me that they were all doomed to be butchered. When they appointed me head physician of the hospital, they gave me plenty of helpers, including seven Christian nurses, six Arabs and one Greek. Gulbenkian told me that if I did not help them they would be killed. An Arab doctor, Bahadin Effendi, was appointed to work under my direction. My Greek nurse warned me that Bahadin had already killed more than fifty Armenian Christians, and cautioned me to watch him. One night about ten o’clock, Bahadin sent for me, saying that he was sick. Fortunately for me, the Greek and two Armenian nurses went with me. When I reached the hospital, I found that Bahadin was not sick at all. He said to me: ‘What business have you to disturb me at this time of the night? Your coming shows that you have some designs upon my life.’ I told him that it was a mistake, that I had been told he was sick, and went away. At the bottom of the stairs I was overtaken by an officer, who said that the doctor had not done with me. I protested, but was ordered to go back. So I put my trust in the Lord and went.

“The doctor greeted me with the question: ‘Who gave you permission to leave the room?’ and continued: ‘You are a prisoner, and you will never see the light of to-morrow’s sun.’ 160I told him that I was an American citizen, and that I was helping the wounded for the sake of humanity. He cut me off by saying: ‘This is wartime. The top of your cap is green. That means that you are a descendant of the prophet, and it will give me pleasure to destroy your life to-night. I must think how I shall kill you. I could throw you out of the window, but that would be too quick. I could shoot you, but that also is too good for you. I shall have to use my sword. You sit down there in that corner, and these Turkish nurses will sing your funeral before I begin to cut you up.’

“The Turks began to sing a droning chant and I had no choice but to sit and listen. My bodyguard, the Greek nurse Theodore and two Armenian soldiers, the latter my servants, stood outside the door, and when they heard the chanting they thought it was all over with me. The Greek, who was a shrewd fellow, told my bodyguard to enter, and, if he saw me, to say that the patients wanted to see the doctor. All of a sudden I saw him enter with a lantern. He saluted the effendi and said: ‘The patients want the doctor.’ I didn’t give Bahadin a chance to say a word. I was up and out and down in the street in about two seconds. When I got to the outpost they yelled from the window to stop me, but they were too late. My bodyguard and the Armenians and the Greek followed close behind me, and I got away. I reached home at midnight. My wife and children thought I was already dead.”

Dr. Sargis turned the tables on the Arab doctor by alleging that he was insane, and having him put under guard and on a milk diet, notwithstanding that he was a doctor in Halil Bey’s army.

“Soon after the Russians left Urmia a German machinist, Neumann, who came in with the Turks, announced himself as German Consul. By his orders a Christian of the name of Moushi was hanged. Neumann had promised me to release Moushi, but overnight he sold him to the Turks for £50. An Englishman named Jonathan George, well known in Tabriz, a relative of my wife, was whipped on Neumann’s orders. In the village of Karadjalu a young Christian with a wife and two children was killed by a Mohammedan. The murderer took the wife and children, promising to protect them; but while crossing a bridge he threw the children into the river. At Ardishai 75 women and girls ran into the sea[51] to escape the Turks. They refused to trust promises of safety if they came out, and were all shot as they stood in the water. Eight thousand five hundred died in the vicinity of Urmia in five months; 1,500 were killed, and the rest died of cold and hunger.

“During the days of the Turkish occupation it was no unusual sight to see an old woman carrying the body of her daughter or son to a place of burial, digging the grave herself or with the aid of other women.”


49. Ismael Agha’s Kala. See page 162 below.

50. Arslan (?).

51. i.e., Lake Urmia.

161

35. URMIA: EXTRACTS FROM THE ANNUAL REPORT (FOR THE YEAR 1915) PRESENTED BY THE MEDICAL DEPARTMENT AT URMIA TO THE BOARD OF FOREIGN MISSIONS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE U.S.A.

A sad case was that of the mother of a girl of twelve who was being taken away to a life of slavery. The mother protested and tried to save her child, who was ruthlessly torn from her. As the daughter was being dragged away the mother made so much trouble for her oppressors, and clung to them so tenaciously, that they stabbed her twelve times before she fell, helpless to save her little girl from her fate. This woman recovered from her wounds. Some people were shot as they ran, and children that they were carrying were killed or wounded with them. In some cases men were lined up so that several could be shot with one bullet, in order not to waste ammunition on them.

At the height of the epidemic not less than two thousand were sick. The mortality reached forty-eight daily, and the fact that four thousand died, besides the one thousand who were killed, will help to make vivid the terrible conditions that prevailed in our crowded premises. All ranks have suffered—preachers, teachers, physicians, etc., as well as the poor—for all had to live in the same unhygienic surroundings.

One of the most terrible things that came to the notice of the Medical Department was the treatment of Syrian women and girls by the Turks, Kurds and local Mohammedans. After the massacre in the village of ——, almost all the women and girls were outraged, and two little girls, aged eight and ten, died in the hands of Moslem villains. A mother said that not a woman or girl above twelve (and some younger) in the village of —— escaped violation. This is the usual report from the villages. One man, who exercised a great deal of authority in the northern part of the Urmia plain, openly boasted of having ruined eleven Christian girls, two of them under seven years of age, and he is now permitted to return to his home in peace and no questions are asked. Several women from eighty to eighty-five years old have suffered with the younger women. One woman who was prominent in the work of the Protestant Church in another village was captured by eighteen men and taken to a solitary place, where they had provided for themselves food and drink. She was released the next day and permitted to drag herself away. Later she came to the city to accuse her outragers, and practically did not get a hearing from the Government.

There is little to relieve the blackness of this picture. The Government gave some assistance in the finding and returning of Christian girls. A few have been brought back by Kurds. In one case eleven girls and young women, who had been taken away from Geogtapa, were sent to me by the chief of the Zarza tribe of Kurds. Several companies have been sent also by the Begzadi Kurds to Targawar. Since the return of the Russians 162to Urmia some of the Kurds have tried to curry favour by returning prisoners that they have held for months, but quite a number are still held by them, some of them women who have been married to some of the principal servants of the chiefs.

It would not be right to close this report of medical work in Urmia without a word about the native physicians. One of them received a martyr’s crown early in January in the village of Khanishan. Four died in the epidemics. One had been a worker for many years in the plain of Gawar, two days’ journey to the west of Urmia. One of them was a companion in the attempt to find Karini Agha at the very beginning of the troubles here that resulted in the rescue of the people of Geogtapa. One was the assistant in the hospital. He had been in the hospital since his graduation in 1908, and was a most faithful and efficient man. During the awful first days of fear, murder and rapine, it was his hands that dressed and re-dressed most of the wounded, with the help of medical students. He thought little of himself and wore himself out until he could not eat, keeping on at his work for three days after he began to be ill. His life was given in the noblest self-sacrifice, and many people will remember him with deep affection. The fourth was one of the refugees in our yard who, though he was not very active, frequently prescribed for a number of patients. His wife, who is a graduate in medicine in America, in spite of the death of her husband and two children, kept bravely on with her work, trying to relieve some of the suffering. She had charge of the maternity cases and examined many of the outraged women and girls after they finally reached us.

The most diabolically cold-blooded of all the massacres was the one committed above the village of Ismael Agha’s Kala, when some sixty Syrians of Gawar were butchered by the Kurds at the instigation of the Turks. These Christians had been used by the Turks to pack telegraph wire from over the border, and while they were in the city of Urmia they were kept in close confinement, without food or drink. On their return, as they reached the valleys between the Urmia and Baradost plains, they were all stabbed to death, as it was supposed, but here again, as in two former massacres, a few wounded, bloody victims succeeded in making their way to our hospital.

The testimony of the survivors of the massacre at Ismael Agha’s Kala is confirmed by the following extract from a letter, dated 8th November, 1915, from the Rev. E.T. Allen of Urmia:—

Politically, things are in apparently good order. People are easily frightened and are nervous, but we have good hopes. Yesterday I went to the Kala of Ismael Agha and from there to Kasha, and some men went with me up the road to the place where the Gawar men were murdered by the Turks. It was a gruesome sight—perhaps the worst I have seen at all. 163There were seventy-one or two bodies; we could not tell exactly, because of the conditions. It is about six months since the murder. Some were in fairly good condition—dried, like a mummy. Others were torn to pieces by the wild animals. Some had been daggered in several places, as was evident from the cuts in the skin. The majority of them had been shot. The ground about was littered with empty cartridge-cases. It was a long way off from the Kala, and half-an-hour’s walk from the main road into the most rugged gorge I have seen for some time. I suppose the Turks thought no word could get out from there—a secret, solitary, rocky gorge. How those three wounded men succeeded in getting out and reaching the city is more of a marvel than I thought it was at the time. The record of massacre burials now stands as follows:—

At Tcharbash, forty in one grave, among them a bishop. At Gulpashan, fifty-one in one grave, among them the most innocent persons in the country; and now, above the Kala of Ismael Agha, seventy in one grave, among them leading merchants of Gawar.

These one hundred and sixty-one persons, buried by me, came to their death in the most cruel manner possible, at the hands of regular Turkish troops in company with Kurds under their command.

164

36. URMIA, SALMAS AND HAKKIARI: STATEMENT[52] BY MR. PAUL SHIMMON[53], PUBLISHED IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL “ARARAT,” OF LONDON, NOVEMBER, 1915.

Seeing that Ararat is truly a searchlight on all the sufferings of Eastern Christians, a comforter to the broken-hearted and a fighter for their rights, I have felt it my duty and privilege to write just some bare facts of the past and present position of the Syrians in Urmi (Urmia) and Salmas in Persia, and in the Kurdistan mountains south of Van. What I will say of Urmi and Salmas applies equally to the Armenians of the two places, in the latter of which they predominate.

The Russian troops had been in occupation of Azerbaijan, north-western Persia, for a number of years, and their presence meant safety, prosperity and security of person and property both to Christians and Moslems alike. Under the conditions then prevailing, the Kurds had been restrained entirely from their occupation of plunder, and the Turks were deprived of prominence in that part of Persia which they have coveted for years. The Persians also have been restless, and their attitude towards the Christians was somewhat doubtful. On the 2nd January, 1915, it was suddenly known that the Russian army, consulate and all, were leaving Urmi—and not that alone, but it was found later that they were withdrawing from all northern Persia. It came like a thunderbolt, for it had been positively stated all along to the Christian population that the Russian army would under no circumstances withdraw from Urmi. Here, then, in the heart of winter, some 45,000 Christians, from nine to ten days’ journey from the nearest railway station to the Russian border, found themselves in a very precarious position. No conveyances, horses, &c., &c., could be had for love or money. Roughly speaking, one-third of the people who happened to know of this withdrawal, through whose villages the army was to pass, left for Russia. The great majority simply left their homes and walked out. Some only heard of the withdrawal during the night, and so could hardly make any provision for the journey. A good number of people from Tergawar and Mergawar, and outlying districts, who were already refugees in Urmi—having been plundered on two or three occasions previously—left with the army. So there was a concourse of over 10,000 people, mostly women and children, walking in the bitter cold, scantily provided, sore-footed, wearied, that had to make their way to the Russian 165frontier over mountains and along miserable roads and through swamps. Their cries and shrieks as they walked were heart-rending. The people of Salmas had left two or three days earlier and under somewhat better conditions. There was a swamp between Salmas and Khoi where people actually went knee-deep, where oxen and buffaloes died of cold, and where there was no real resting place and provisions could only be procured from a distance of some ten miles. The agonies of the children were inexpressible. Some mothers had two or three children to take care of, and they dragged one along while they carried the other on their shoulders. Many died on the roadside, many lost their parents, many were left unburied, many were picked up by the Russian cossacks and were taken to the Russian Caucasus to be there cared for by Armenians and others. Such was their plight when they reached Russia, and in some way or another were provided for in the Syrian and Armenian villages in Erivan and in Tiflis, where they passed their time till the spring, when they again wearied of their lives and returned to Urmi and Salmas in the months of May and June.

About two-thirds of the people who stayed behind at Urmi had the cruellest of fates. No sooner had the Russian forces withdrawn than the roads were closely guarded, and no one was permitted to come in or go out of Urmi for over four months. The Kurds poured in from every quarter, and the Persian Moslems joined hands with them. They engulfed the Christian villages; plunder, pillage, massacre and rape were the order of the day. Every village paid its share. First they killed the men, then they took the women—those who had not escaped—and carried them away for themselves or forced them to become Moslems, and finally they plundered and burned the villages. In one village 80 were killed, in another 50, in a third 30, and so the thing went on in varying degrees among the 70 odd villages in Urmi. About one thousand people were disposed of in this way. In the meantime all that were able escaped to the city to the American mission quarters, whose premises were soon filled to suffocation, and altogether some 20,000 people or more found shelter in the American and French mission quarters, while some hid themselves among Moslem friends and landlords. These refugees, in their flight, were repeatedly robbed on the way by soldiers and officers sent for their protection, and by civilians as well. Many a woman came terror-stricken, shrieking, and bleeding, and almost naked; and many were forced to become Moslems. Some 150 cases or more of these unfortunate women came under the notice of the American missionaries, who tried to restore them to their own folk. One woman had two sons, four and six years of age, who were thrown into a brook to freeze, while the brute of a mullah set to work to force their mother. She at last escaped and took away the children alive, but they died of exposure the next morning.

166Thus in the course of a fortnight all the 45,000 Syrians and Armenians were plundered—not one village escaped. There was no exception. The village of Iriawa was in the keeping of an Armenian—a Turkish subject. He, with twelve other Armenian soldiers, was shot, and the village plundered. Gulpashan was the last to be attacked, when, on the 1st February, 51 of its elders were taken during the night to the graveyard and there murdered most horribly and their brains knocked out. The orgies committed on women and tender girls can be left only to the imagination. I have known the village from childhood and all its inhabitants.

The refugees in the French and American mission yards remained there for over four and a half months, in daily terror and fear of their lives; the quarters were crowded to suffocation, and no man dared leave the premises. Seeing that a few houses of Christians were left in the city which were not plundered, the dozen or less of Turkish officials, who had control of things, began to fleece the people. They forced them to pay a fine of 6,600 tomans (a toman is about one pound sterling[54]), on the pretext that the Christian stores, offices and shops in the city would be saved from plunder. But no sooner was this sum extracted through the kindly offices of the American missionaries than they began to put up to auction and dispose of all the shops, offices and stores. Not satisfied with what they had done, they obtained 5,500 tomans as blood money for Mar Elia, the Syrian Bishop, whom they found in hiding on the roof of a house, and threatened to kill him unless the money was paid. Then, again, such prominent men as Shamasha Lazar, Shamasha Babu and Dr. Isaac Daniel had to pay 3,000, 2,000 and 1,000 tomans respectively to save their lives. Such was the perpetual terror in which the whole community lived.

Soon disease broke out, typhoid played havoc, and over 4,000 died of the epidemic alone. There was scarcely any life left in the remnant of the people when the Russians retook Urmi in May. They were worn out and so emaciated that one could hardly recognise them. It was the first time for months that they were able to crawl out of their filthy winter quarters and to inhale fresh air. The Americans, who had fed these people all through the winter, now gave the men and women spades and sickles to return to their villages, and some flour to start life in their ruined homes. I have seen villages turned to ashes, where not one window, door or any woodwork was to be found. Indeed, one day a woman came and said to me: “I have one room out of seven left on the second storey, but what shall I do? There is not a single ladder in all the village that I can borrow so as to mount to it.” What they had left in their “homes,” these people found on their return to have been eaten by dogs and cats. 167They have not sown anything this autumn, nor were they able to do any sowing or cultivating in the spring. Ninety per cent. of them have absolutely nothing left, and they sleep on the bare hard earthen floor, with no bedding or any other protection beyond their ordinary rags. This is their second winter!

The majority of the Salmas Christians had left for Russia by the time the Urmi people reached Salmas. But there were some left who had hidden themselves among kind Moslems here and there. When the Turks took possession of Salmas, they used every means to find out the whereabouts and number of all the Christians that had remained behind, and one night during March last they took some 723 Armenians and Syrians to the fields in Haftevan and mangled and butchered them in a most brutal manner. Three days later the Russians retook Salmas and buried these people in some trenches which they dug for them. The same fate was awaiting the women, and perhaps worse, but the advent of the Russians saved them.

The troubles of Mar Shimun’s independent tribes of Tiari, Tkhuma, &c., in Kurdistan, south of Van, began last June. Mar Shimun’s seat in the village of Quodshanis was attacked by regular troops and Kurds, destroyed and plundered. Most of the people escaped to Salmas. Mar Shimun at the time was in the interior with the main body of his congregation. A regular Turkish force with artillery and some 30,000 Kurds, &c., marched on the Christians. The forty villages of Berwar, those nearest towards Mosul, were destroyed first, and only some seventeen of them are known to have escaped. The women of many of the others have been forced to become Moslems. For forty days the people defended themselves against superior forces, and that only with flintlocks and antiquated rifles. At last, unable to withstand the onslaught of modern artillery, with which the Turks also bombarded the Church of Mar Sawa, the people withdrew to the interior of the mountains with the Patriarch’s family in their centre; and here they subsisted on herbs and some sheep they had taken with them, while many were daily dying of starvation. Mar Shimun came to Salmas—I had an interview with him there, and he has sent me to speak for him and his—to effect the escape of his people, or at least of as many of them as could be saved. All this happened in the latter part of September, when, according to the telegram received here from H.B.M. Consul Shipley at Tabriz, some 25,000 had already arrived, and with them Mar Shimun, himself as destitute as the rest, while 10,000 more were to follow. The condition of the remnant, for in all there are over 100,000, is very precarious, but let us hope not hopeless. Assistance can be sent to them through Mar Shimun and through H.B.M. Consul Shipley.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Mission and the Armenian (Lord Mayor’s) Relief Fund have sent £500 and £550 respectively 168to these people. I understand that the Lord Mayor’s Fund is telegraphing a further £500 for the relief of the Christians in Persia, for which I for one feel infinitely grateful, as it cannot but assuage some of the terrible suffering that exists.

Let us now survey the whole situation. As over 90 per cent. of the Christians at Urmi are destitute, and the condition of some 10,000 to 15,000 Armenians and Syrians in Salmas is not much better, we have at once some 80,000 people and more who must be assisted, if they are not to starve during the coming winter. In this we are not taking into account the remnant of Mar Shimun’s people or any Armenians that might have found their way to Persia, where the Russians are now in occupation, and where the condition of the Christians will be, so far as personal safety goes, more hopeful. The turn events are taking politically in Persia seems also favourable, but one must never be too confident of the political situation there.

I am delighted to see such a magnificent spirit of response from all corners of the world whence Armenians themselves are coming to the help of their countrymen. We have to cheer each other up in our misfortunes in every way we can, till God in His own way shall solve the problem. And with such noble friends as we have in England, among whom are the Primate, Lord Bryce, and Members of Parliament like Mr. Aneurin Williams and Mr. T.P. O’Connor, and I am sure in America as well—people who would do anything for us—let us be patient and prayerful, hoping for recompense and release from this tyranny that has had us in its grip ever since Mohammedan rule began in our country.


52. For a fuller version of Mr. Shimmon’s statement see p. 577 below.

53. Mr. Shimmon is a graduate of Columbia University, New York, and has been resident at Urmia for the past fourteen years. He was an eye-witness of the events he relates; and, after the retreat of the Turks and Kurds, he was appointed Commissioner for the Baranduz District of Urmia (under the authority of the Russian Consul and the Persian Governor) for the restoration of plundered Christian property. He has since undertaken a mission to Great Britain and the U.S., as the representative of His Beatitude Mar Shimun, the head of the Nestorian Church.

54. 1 toman = 10 krans, and its actual value in English money is about 3s. 4d.Editor.

169

37. HAKKIARI: FURTHER STATEMENT BY MR. PAUL SHIMMON, PUBLISHED IN THE “CHURCHMAN” NEWSPAPER, AND SUBSEQUENTLY ISSUED AS A PAMPHLET; COMMUNICATED BY MRS. D.S. MARGOLIOUTH, OF OXFORD.

The following is the story of how a Bishop, nay, an Archbishop, at the risk of his own life, saved 35,000 souls—one-third of his flock—from the pursuing Kurds and Turks, and from impending starvation on the heights of the Kurdistan Mountains. He was already in the zone of safety, where he could well have stayed; but he turned back, saying: “I am going back to die with my people.” By so doing, he rescued a multitude of his people from almost certain massacre.

It will be remembered that the Assyrians (better known in Church history as the Nestorian or Syrian Christians) dwell on both sides of the Turco-Persian frontier. The bulk of them live in the very inaccessible mountains of Kurdistan, east of Mosul, which is in Mesopotamia, and south of Lake Van; while a goodly number live in the beautiful plains of Urmia and Salmas in north-western Persia and in the adjacent country districts bordering on Turkey. Over the former district Mar Shimun, the Patriarch, is the supreme ecclesiastical and civil ruler.

Early last June the Turkish forces with irregular Kurds, under the leadership and direction of the Kaimakam, made an attack on the court of Mar Shimun in Quodshanis—a Turkish governor making an attack on peaceful subjects of the Turkish Empire for the simple reason that they were Christians. Quodshanis is an isolated place. The Patriarch and members of his court were in the interior with the main body of his church, so the people of the village could hardly be expected to make more than a bare resistance. For two days they fought from within the church, but soon their ammunition was exhausted, and the women and children were in a desperate position. At night they set out for the plains of Salmas in Persia, where I saw them in a most pitiable condition. The Patriarchal house, the English mission, and the larger part of the place was plundered and burned. Even the tombs of former Patriarchs were violated.

In the meanwhile a formidable army was being gathered against the independent dwellers in the valleys of Tkhuma, Tiari, Baz, &c. Both Turkish regulars and Kurds, it is said, to the extent of some 30,000, made a combined attack on the people who had kept their independence since Tamerlane and Ghengis Khan had driven them to the craggy mountains, where in some places they have to carry soil on their backs to make artificial fields. For the first time in the life of the people, artillery was brought up to bombard their ancient and venerable churches, while they themselves made a stout resistance with flintlocks and ammunition of their own make.

For forty days they carried on an unequal warfare against tremendous odds, until at last with their families they took 170refuge on the top of a high mountain in the Tal country. The Patriarchal family took shelter in the famous church of Mar Audishu, and the others who had been able to effect an escape surrounded them, making a big camp. The Turks and Kurds, after having destroyed the Christian villages in the valleys below, carrying away the crops and plundering everything, endeavoured to starve the fugitives out. Near the church mentioned above there is a small fountain gushing from a rock which was hardly enough to supply drinking water, and for washing and bathing they would often steal at nights to the valleys beneath. The people stayed here for nearly three months, never taking off their clothes and always on the lookout for an attack by night. The few sheep that they had taken with them on their flight were almost eaten up now—they had no salt at all, and soon hunger and sickness began to make their ravages. There was no necessity to deport this Christian population. Its mere starvation in the mountains was all that was needed to make an end of the oldest Apostolic Church in existence.

In the meantime Mar Shimun, the Patriarch, with a few brave men, had stolen out by night and made his way to the Russian army operating in Salmas, Persia. He was received with great distinction, but it was found out after many precious weeks of delay that it might not be possible to send any relief for the people in the interior who were not in the line of march. Later on, the Russians sent their army to Van, and then Mar Shimun with a few faithful followers and good rifles—he himself is an excellent shot—set out again for the interior to reach his flock and his brothers and sisters. They soon made ready to take the congregation through the valleys and defiles to the plains of Persia.

The last day of their stay was the saddest of all. On that day Ishaya, a brother of the Patriarch, died of fever. Mar Shimun, hearing of his illness, had come over the day before. The enemy was then very near, and they could hear the sound of the guns in Tkhuma. Just when the funeral of his brother was to take place, Surma and Romi, his sisters, and Esther, his sister-in-law, were compelled to leave the place, lest they should be caught by the enemy. Mar Shimun, two priests and a few laymen remained behind at this time of danger to bury Ishaya. The burial service was quickly said and the body hastily interred, and Mar Shimun hastened after the fleeing women and children. They were only just in time, for, a few hours after their departure, the Turks arrived and made straight for the church, having heard that the Patriarch’s household was there.

I shall not dwell on the horrors of those caught and slain on the way nor on the many beautiful villages ruined and the women taken captive, nor on the thousands of others who have met the same fate. In one district of forty villages, its Bishop said to me, only seventeen had been able to make an escape, and he knew but very little of the fearful fate of the rest. I want only to speak of 171the living who are anxious to die, but to whom death does not come. They arrived in Persia at places already ruined; they camped out in the plain of Salmas (4,000 feet above sea level) sleeping in the fields with no clothes to cover them at night, clad in the rags which they have worn for many months, without food or shelter. Some assistance has gone to them from America and England. Some quilts were bought to be distributed, one for each family of five persons, to serve as cover in the bitter cold. Some families have as many as ten members, indeed one had twenty-eight. These are the people who have been living on one dollar a month, and to whom flour is served in quantity barely sufficient to allow each person one small loaf a day and nothing more. I dare say that even their Bishops and other clergy are in not much better condition than their flock.

Assistance, however, can now be sent out to them and will reach them immediately. Urmia and Salmas are now in the zone of safety, where there are many Russian troops, and these have been very kind to the suffering Christians. Money is being sent through the American Consul, the missionaries and the Patriarch, and is at once distributed to the sufferers. The Rev. Y.M. Nisan, who is still alive, although he has lost his wife and daughter, is on the distributing committee. The defeat of the Turks at Erzeroum means peace and safety of life for all Armenia and Persia. In the latter country there are over 80,000 destitute, the majority of them Assyrians, and some Armenians as well. Money is distributed to all without discrimination.

I have purposely avoided saying anything of the horrors that we have suffered at Urmia and the agonies we have passed through, simply because I have felt that the condition of these mountaineers is even more pitiable. I hope Christian people will be moved at once to make an effort to save them from the clutches of starvation. The gallant Patriarch has saved them and brought them out of Turkey, where relief will get to them. I therefore appeal to all my friends and to others who may be so disposed to help rescue this ancient Church.

172

38. REFUGEES FROM THE HAKKIARI DISTRICT: SERIES OF EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS BY MEMBERS OF THE AMERICAN MISSION STATION AT URMIA; COMMUNICATED BY THE BOARD OF FOREIGN MISSIONS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE U.S.A.

(a) Extract from a letter, dated 8th November, 1915, from the Rev. E.T. Allen (?).

As you know, the first attack by the combined force of Turks and Kurds was made in June and was partially successful. The people were driven out of their valleys into the high mountains central to Tiari, Tkhoma, Tai and Baz. In this movement not many lives were lost, but many villages were destroyed. The hostile forces were for some reason withdrawn, and for some weeks there was comparative quiet, broken only by spasmodic attacks by local forces. About three weeks ago there was another concerted attack made by the Turks and Kurds on their stronghold in the mountain top, and they were driven out. Between fifteen and twenty thousand, with great difficulty, made their escape, part of their road being held by the Kurds. They came down the Tal and Kon Valleys, followed by the Kurds, and attempted to turn up the Zab to get out by way of Djoulamerk. They found the Kurds in force at the Djoulamerk bridge, and were forced to turn down stream. At the head of Tiari they crossed the Zab and went up into the hills, which they found deserted by the Kurds, who had gone to war. They then made their way round behind Djoulamerk, meeting no hostile force until they reached the ridge between Quodshanis and the Zab. Here again they found a force of Kurds waiting for them. They had quite a sharp fight with them and the Kurds were worsted. From there on they had no more trouble, reaching Bashkala in safety, and later coming down to Salmas.

These are the people I found in Salmas. They number, according to my estimate, between fifteen and twenty thousand. Among them are Mar Shimun and his family and all our helpers, with one or two exceptions. (Mar Shimun is the Patriarch of the Nestorian Church.)

With reference to those who were left in the mountains, perhaps a thousand more succeeded in getting through. There are still some thousands shut up there, and their fate is still uncertain. How many were killed in this last attack, I have found no one who could give even an estimate, but undoubtedly the number must be large. This is in reference to those in Salmas. All the facts cannot be given out, but this is their case in brief. The mass of them are without shelter of any kind and also without bedding. They are sleeping on the bare ground without covering. The rains have begun and the winter promises to set in early. What all this means to these thousands who are without shelter, you need not be told.

173Since coming down a great many of them have been taken sick with a peculiar form of bowel trouble, such as the mountaineers have been having here. Dr. David Yohannan estimates that there are as many as one thousand cases. The fatality is not as great as might be expected, but there are a great many deaths. One tribe reported forty deaths within a week. I have seen the dead lying on the roadside, and the women carrying their dead, orders to move on giving them little time to die decently or to be buried with respect. I gave no relief while there. Along the road they had gathered up a little grain; the Russians were giving out 1,200 loads, and help was being given on the threshing floor and from door to door. I have been making a complete list, so that when we are ready to begin we shall have them classified and shall be able to handle them. We shall give flour or wheat in weekly allowances. The cost per head will be about five shahis (1d.). I shall refrain from giving as long as I see they can subsist on what they get from other sources.

Bedding is needed as badly as food. There is not much choice between dying from hunger or dying from cold. We shall have to supply several thousand outfits, cost of each about three-and-a-half tomans (12s.). You may rest assured that I shall use the utmost caution in the giving of relief.

There is no further word from those left in the mountains. There is still hope that some of them may succeed in getting through, but undoubtedly many will be lost.

(b) Extract from a letter, of later date, from a missionary.[55]

About 150 or more of the Mutran’s[56] people came down. Some of the children were a sight to see for destitution. I had a tableful of women to breakfast with me the next morning, including one of our own pupils who was married into the Mutran’s family. They said that 200 Turks had been living off them since a year ago, but that their flocks had been so multiplied that they were able to sustain the burden. At last the Turks began sending twenty men every day with packs on their backs to Mosul, loaded with the spoils of their houses, so they feared their own end or deportation might be near; they found a chance to escape one day when their guards were a mile or two away, and silently stole away with some of their possessions.

(c) Extract from a letter, of later date, from a missionary.[57]

Some of the refugees in Salmas had flocks and possessions, but all were ravaged by disease, so that even if they had work they could not do it. A boy who was with me found his relatives among the people. One uncle of his had been living in the barracks. He had lost his three children one after the other, 174and then his wife died and he had no one to care for his affairs but himself. He was so weak he could not do anything—reduced to skin and bone himself—but he got a rope and tried to carry the body of his wife on his back to bury her somewhere. He had not even strength enough to dig her a grave. There the story ended. The boy said the man broke down and could not tell any more, and he did not have the heart to ask what had become of her.

Another of our preachers has lost three of his four children, and the last was very ill when we saw her. His wife had lost her brother and two sisters—one of them a pupil in the Fiske Seminary.


55. Name withheld.

56. A dignitary of the Nestorian Church, second in rank to the Patriarch, Mutran (or Matran) = Metropolitan.

57. Name withheld.

175

39. REFUGEES FROM HAKKIARI: LETTER, DATED 26th SEPTEMBER/9th OCTOBER, 1915, FROM A RELATIVE OF MAR SHIMUN, THE PATRIARCH; COMMUNICATED BY THE REV. F.N. HEAZELL.

I have not written to you for a long time. I think you will know the reason is that the war with Turkey has stopped the post to Europe. As you know, during past years there have been difficulties between the Turks and ourselves, but now the truth of the matter is made clear. When we saw many Christians of Gawar and Albek killed without reason, we thought our turn would come. Every kind of warfare commenced, and since then, for months, we have been fighting in the mountains; in the end we were not successful, because the Kurds were helped by the artillery of the Turkish Government. Of course when our cartridges were exhausted we could not stand before the great force of Turkish artillery. Then first of all Tiari was destroyed; we then thought we could flee to the mountains in the hope of victory, but soon the Turks came to the entrance of Tkhoma and our hope was destroyed—either we must deliver ourselves to Turkey and be killed or flee to save ourselves. We did the latter, but even then half the nation was left behind.

Now we are here in Diliman, Salmas; but the larger part of Tiari and Tkhoma is conquered. Up to the present time we have no news of those people; whether they are alive or have been destroyed, we know not.

Many of the refugees who come here are dying of hunger; they have no bedding, and many men just died on the way here. Would you were here to see with your own eyes our state; your sympathy would indeed be aroused. All the houses have been destroyed (also Mar Shimun’s house and your Mission house in Quodshanis) and burnt and robbed; we are in rags and hunger and in a strange land. Many of the houses where you have spent the night as a guest have no bedding, the house of Malik Ismail, for instance, and the house of Khiyu.

Of all these the condition of the Tkhumnai is the most miserable; they are quite destitute. If some help is not forthcoming for the nation all hope of survival is at an end, for three parts will die of hunger. Our thanks are due to the Russian Consul, who is taking care to distribute the people among the villages to prevent them dying of cold, for all are under trees and in fields in the open.

In the course of February, Esther and I and her children went down to Malik Ismail’s house in Tiari, for we thought it would be safer there. Then we soon moved from Tchumbar to Dadush, a small village of Tiari. When the Turkish army drew near that place we fled to the Church of Mar Audishu of Tal. In each place we were obliged to leave behind some of our clothes and our bedding; many times we were hungry; we made our journeys by night, and Esther’s little children would fall asleep on the road. Three months we stayed in Mar Audishu, the whole time the 176fighting drawing nearer. Our brothers are fighting in Dizan, and there every three or four men are sleeping together for want of quilts at night. We sleep with our clothes on, ready to start when it may be necessary. In Mar Audishu the food was good, but the provision for sleeping and bathing was bad. Soap there was none; water could be had for drinking and cooking only. Sometimes we would go down to one of the Tal villages to wash our clothes and to bathe.

From Quodshanis everything we possessed was carried off and our house destroyed. A few quilts we brought to Dizan; these we could not bring away with us because we had no mules, for the Kurds had carried them off, and I think they will now remain for our neighbours (the Kurds). Of clothes to wear we had only enough for the road, but not enough for the cold of the winter. When we came here, on the road, we saw some women who had never known want entirely naked; we divided our clothes among them, giving them just enough to prevent them dying of cold. During all these years our state has been, glory to God, that only our souls have been chastened, but finally one thing has befallen us which we can never forget. I recall the last days that I stood in the Church. I had gone down to Dizan because Paulus, my brother, was sick and Ishaya[58] was ill with fever in Mar Audishu. It was at the time when the guns of the Turks were drawn up before Tkhuma and were moving forward—then it was he sickened and died. Mar Shimun had arrived there a little before. Romi[59] and Esther[60] and her children, at that very time of great sorrow, when they least wished to leave, had to set out, weeping, with their families. Only Mar Shimun with two priests and a few men remained in the Church for the funeral service, for as quickly as they could they had to place the body of Ishaya in the grave and hasten after their families. Going quickly on foot they arrived at Darawar, where Malik Ismail was. Those little children (God bless them) went on foot, without a servant, accompanied by Romi and Esther. That day, if our families had delayed in Mar Audishu, they would have been prisoners now in Turkey. The day after they left, the Turkish army entered the Church, for they knew we were there. But, thanks be to God, we had escaped.

Paulus is better, and now our family is with Mar Shimun in Diliman. Up to the present time we have not hired a house, for we do not know where we shall settle down. There is a Church here.

Mr. McDowell came from Urmia to see us and they hope to help this people as much as they can with food and clothing.

Of all the things that were left in our house I am sorrowing most of all for my English books that have gone. Those of our own language are hidden; I do not know whether they will be safe or not. I only left about forty in Dizan.


58. Youngest dearly loved brother to Surma.

59. Surma’s sister.

60. Sister-in-law; her eldest little boy, Theodore, will succeed his uncle as Patriarch.

177

40. REFUGEES FROM HAKKIARI: LETTER, DATED DILIMAN, 1st/14th APRIL, 1916, FROM SURMA, THE SISTER OF MAR SHIMUN, TO MRS. D.S. MARGOLIOUTH, OF OXFORD.

I was very glad to get your sweet letter, for which I was longing and looking forward, my dearest friend. I know how you loved Ishaya, and he always asked after you. I wonder if you ever got his letter that he wrote to you in Syriac.

I wrote to you while at Quodshanis (before the war) but got no answer; I wondered if you might be away from home. I wonder if Mr. Wigram and Mr. Heazell got my letters, written since we came to Diliman; I am afraid you won’t get yours, the address was incorrect.

You most kindly asked after Hormizd. I wish we knew his fate, dear boy; we have no news of him since the 20th February (5th March), 1915. I asked Mrs. Wigram if she would be able to tell us something of him by way of Dr. Wigram’s letters; we are most anxiously looking forward to the answer.

The hospitals which are endowed by great Russia to help the sick are a great help. Now the people get nursed well, and, of course, the sickness is growing less. But outside the hospitals, although they do get help from Russia (recently some clothes, too), England and America, still their miseries are great, and their living very poor.

I trust and hope you will read the report recently written by Mr. Paul Shimmon. A copy has been sent to Mr. Heazell. It is all quite true, and there you will see our nation’s wretchedness. Really, Russia couldn’t have done more than she has by helping with hospitals, money and clothes.

Now the Russian Government wants us all to go up to Bashkala—the people to be provided with oxen and wheat to be able to plough land for themselves. Of course, Mar Shimun is quite willing to make the people do what they are ordered, and what is best for them. It really is a very good thing, but I am much afraid it won’t come to pass, for two reasons—first, the difficulty of finding enough oxen and corn, and, secondly, because it is getting too late for sowing. Soon after Easter Mar Shimun intends to go to Khoi and talk the plan over with General Tchournazoukov.

I wanted very much to go to England, but Mrs. Wigram wrote to me that my friends didn’t think it advisable. I don’t understand well what you say in your letter about directing to me through Mr. Shipley. If it is anything to help the poor, it is most welcome.

One can’t help longing to read the London Times and the Church Times, especially the Bishop of London’s sermons. What will be the end? Is the world being refined? Who will endure to the last? We can only pray for mercy. His will be done. My heart is yearning to hear that “England has conquered”; pray God it will prove so—although one does 178feel for all the young men’s lives, whether friend or foe, no difference, and for the world’s misery.

Last October David and I went down to Urmia and stayed with dear Mr. Nisan. His house seemed to me quite desolate with no Beatrice or her mother, but he was the same, cheering and helping others. His daughter-in-law Nanajan is very nice, and, with her little dear boy, she will be a comfort for his old age. Samuel is still in America; it is rather hard for the young wife. I have twice written to Mr. Nisan to send service books, which he kindly sent. We often wonder what our church would have done if it were not for English printing presses? Nearly all our church books are gone. Mar Shimun has consecrated little tablets, and nearly every priest in Diliman has one to celebrate on for the people; it is the same in Urmia and Khoi.

You will like to hear that David, Zaya, Paul and Ishaya fought most bravely in Dizan. Twice the Kurds were driven away with twelve killed, and the third time Paul and Zaya alone with four servants fought against the foe and saved the little ammunition they had. I intend to write a report of all that happened (what I saw and heard) in the mountains. But really I can’t, as long as I am with ten children playing in the small yard and making as much noise as a herd of the Kurds, poor little kids. I don’t think you know that David is father of two boys and four girls, and Romi is mother of three girls and two boys. Are not they old? The children are as happy as children ought to be, only they are disappointed at not having as many new clothes as they used to have at home, and especially the boys, for they are not going to have any new clothes for Easter as they had theirs at Christmas, and now it is the girls’ turn for Easter. The market is another difficulty for them—seeing new toys and sweets (they were free from that in Quodshanis) and with no money to buy them. However, they get used to it, poor dears.

I teach the four boys for two hours a day; they are promising pupils if properly taught. The little girls read their alphabet, too.

Romi and Esther have suffered very much under the circumstances. It was too much for them, although they have gone through it quite bravely, especially Esther, who was with child all this time, and during the last days of flight was expecting the child every hour. However, God was merciful, and the baby girl was born nearly a fortnight after we arrived in Diliman. She is baptised Helena. I am rather uneasy about Esther. She is very weak, and after Easter she will go to Urmia, both to visit her father’s house (the Mutran’s brother) and see the doctor.

I can’t say it was too much for me; if it were not for certain reasons I should have been rather enjoying the struggle between the Kurds and Turks and us. Thank God we are very well at present, except for being over anxious for our poor nation’s misery. The living here is very hard for us; we simply have no money for our ordinary necessities, and at times we have people coming to 179our door who can hardly stand on their feet for hunger; how could one turn them away?

However, all the world is suffering, and so must we and our nation.

Would you kindly tell Mr. Heazell that Mar Shimun got the £50 which he sent. I never wrote to him that the Mutran was let free by the Turks and has come to Urmia safely, although quite broken and very weak.

I rather enjoy the plan of going up to Bashkala after we have lost our country and home. It will suit us to turn into nomads, like the Israelites—Mar Shimun for Moses; can’t make David into Aaron, he has no beard, so dear old Peter for Aaron, with his white beard; I suppose I must be Miriam, and we must take a tent, too, for celebration, which we will call the “Assyrian Tabernacle”; and very likely we shall always be having skirmishes with the Canaanites to get to our fathers’ land. Wouldn’t you like to come and see us, the new Israelites?

The houses in Bashkala are all ruined.

Mar Shimun sends his blessing to you and Professor Margoliouth, and we our best regards.

180

41. THE NESTORIANS OF THE BOHTAN DISTRICT[61]: LETTER, DATED SALMAS, 6th MARCH, 1916, FROM THE REV. E.W. McDOWELL, OF THE URMIA MISSION STATION, REPORTING INFORMATION BROUGHT BY A YOUNG MAN (WITH WHOM MR. McDOWELL WAS PREVIOUSLY ACQUAINTED) WHO HAD ESCAPED THE MASSACRE; COMMUNICATED BY THE BOARD OF FOREIGN MISSIONS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE U.S.A.

There was a general massacre in the Bohtan region, and our helpers, preachers, teachers and Bible-Women, with their families, fell victims to it among the rest. The man who brought the word is known to me personally. This young man tells the story of how, by order of the Government, the Kurds and Turkish soldiers put the Christians of all those villages, including Djeziré, to the sword. Among those slain were Kasha (Pastor) Mattai, pastor of the church in Hassan; Kasha Elia, one of our oldest and most honoured pastors, recently working as an evangelist; Kasha Sargis, superannuated; Muallin Mousa, pastor of our church in Djeziré, and his sixteen-year-old son Philip. There are three preachers not heard from, and one of them is probably killed, as his village, Monsoria, was put to the sword; another, Rabi Ishak, is possibly alive, as there is a report that his village had been preserved by the influence of a Kurdish agha. It is to be feared, however, that this agha would not be able to protect them for long, as from every source comes the word that the Government threatened such friendly Kurds with punishment if they did not obey orders. The third man is reported as having fled to Mosul. Whether he reached there or not is not known. The women and children who escaped death were carried away captive. Among these were the families of the above mentioned brethren. The wife and two daughters of Muallin Mousa, the daughters of Kasha Elia, and Rabi Hatoun, our Bible-Woman, were all school-girls in Urmia or Mardin. Kasha Mattai was killed by Kurds in the mountain while fleeing. Kasha Elia and Kasha Sargis, with other men of the village of Shakh, were killed by Turkish soldiers who had been stationed in their village by the Government.

The three villages of Hassan, Shakh and Monsoria were Protestant, and it is to be feared that they were wiped out, as were all the other Christian villages of the plain. Many of the women of Monsoria threw themselves into the river (Tigris) to avoid falling into the hands of the Kurds. Mar Yohannan and Mar Akha were still safe at the time my informant fled. The terrible 181feature about it was that, after the first slaughter, there were Kurds who tried to save some of the Christians alive, but the Government would not permit it. My informant had found refuge with an agha and was working for him, when a messenger from the Government came with orders to the Kurds to complete the work or be punished. Word was brought to my informant in the field, and he with a few others fled to the mountain and made their way to Van, and so came here. The villagers of Attil, where we had work also, all escaped to Van. Their Kurdish agha, who was a warm friend of our preacher and of our work, gave them warning that he would not be able to protect them, as the massacre was being pressed by the Government. It was their pastor who fled to Mosul. His way would take him to Djeziré and Monsoria, the home of his wife. They may have been killed there. There is no word about them.

This terrible calamity grieves me more than I can tell you. And more than those who died, the fate of those carried off into captivity weighs upon me. I think of them so often—Sarah, Hatoun, Priskilla and little Nellie and others, young girls whom I knew in the home almost like my own children. What is their condition? This word of my informant is confirmed by a woman of Djeziré, who made her escape also to Van and thence hither. She tells us that Sarah and her two daughters were released and were last seen on the plain beyond Djeziré, wandering in a destitute condition.


61. Before the War, there were three main groups of Nestorians in the region between Lake Urmia and the Tigris, each group numbering about 30,000 souls. There were the villagers of the Urmia plain, the mountaineers of the Zab, and these other plainsmen in the Bohtan district, round the confluence of the Bohtan River and the Tigris. The present document describes the general massacre of many, or perhaps nearly all, the Nestorians of this third group, whose chief settlements were at Djeziret-ibn-Omar on the Tigris, Mansouria (Monsoria) and Shakh.

182

42. SECOND EXODUS FROM URMIA: LETTER DATED TABRIZ, 20th AUGUST, 1915, FROM MR. HUGO A. MÜLLER (TREASURER OF THE AMERICAN MISSION STATION AT URMIA); COMMUNICATED BY THE BOARD OF FOREIGN MISSIONS OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE U.S.A.

On Thursday, the 5th August, the rumour spread that the Russian troops were again to be withdrawn from Urmia. This very naturally frightened the entire Christian population, and on Thursday evening all Christians, except those already on the road and those physically unable to be on the road, were in the streets of the city and on the roads leading northward from the city, waiting for the departure of the foot-soldiers, with whom they intended to leave. Knowing the probable fate of any who might stay behind, we were, of course, not ready to discourage the people from going. Still, we had no official word of the anticipated evacuation, and were, therefore, perplexed as to our own duty. The breaking up of a good proportion of our missionary work, the removal of the bulk of the relief work to a different place, and the uncertainty of America’s future position all contributed to indicate that a portion at least of the Station should move in case of an evacuation. On Friday morning we learned that the foot-soldiers had left, and one of our men, on visiting the Russian Consul, was told that all who were going should be off by 2 p.m. that day. The Station felt that its force should be reduced to the minimum, and that at least all women and children should leave. Very hasty preparations were made. Mr. McDowell, Mr. Labaree and Dr. Packard volunteered to stay in Urmia, and all the rest were to leave. When we got on the road, however, we found that Mrs. Packard and her children and Miss Burgess were not of the party. Mrs. Packard had decided to brave the Station vote and stay by her husband, and Miss Burgess stayed to be with Mrs. Packard and to assist the medical work. The fugitive party, therefore, consisted of Dr. Shedd and his two daughters, Mr. and Mrs. Allen with their two sons and one daughter, Dr. and Mrs. Coan, Mrs. Cochran, Miss Lewis, Miss Lamme, Miss Schoebel, and Mrs. Müller and myself with our daughter. We went in carriages, using some donkeys and horses bought the last two hours before our departure.

At the end of our second day’s journey we reached a village, Kudchi, where we found perhaps 20,000 or 30,000 Syrian refugees, whose further flight had been arrested by the Russian commanding officer with the good news that a decisive victory had made the evacuation of Urmia unnecessary. All were told to go back. Unless the missionaries would return, however, the natives were unwilling to trust themselves alone. Nothing was left but for some to return, especially since this was requested by the officer in command of the troops there. Dr. Shedd and his daughters, Mrs. Cochran and Dr. and Mrs. Coan consequently turned back. 183This gave the crowd heart and they, too, went back. But the tables were soon turned again, and before the foot-sore crowd reached the city they were again turned back with the word that there was fighting with the Kurds on Mount Seir. The missionaries had reached the city and were there during the fighting on Mount Seir. It seemed advisable for them to leave again, as conditions were very uncertain, in spite of the fact that the Russian Consul with a number of Cossacks had stayed by his post during all this time. They, that is Dr. Shedd and his two daughters, and Dr. and Mrs. Coan, left for the second time on Friday the 13th August. This time Mrs. Cochran stayed behind.

Meanwhile, those of us who had continued on our journey from Kudchi arrived in Tabriz on Friday the 13th August, after a journey free from mishaps, but nevertheless wearing for us who were still typhoid and typhus convalescents. Every one in the party with the exception of Mrs. Allen and the Allen children had recently had the fever.

184

43. SECOND EXODUS FROM URMIA: NARRATIVE OF A NESTORIAN VICTIM, THE WIFE OF THE REV. DAVID JACOB, OF URMIA, PUBLISHED IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL “ARARAT” OF LONDON, JANUARY, 1916.

As a native of Urmia and myself a refugee who has fallen into great trouble, I am writing a few short details about my unfortunate nation. For centuries as Christians we have been crushed by the enemies that surround us. Our best looking girls have been forced to deny their creed; our men have been killed, our homes plundered, and our property has been robbed.

In all these troubles we lived under the Persian Government, and obeyed their rules; we have never been untrue to them, or disobedient. For the past seventy years the only help we have had has come through the English and American Missions that have been in Urmia. When the Russians arrived at Urmia it was a delight to us, we thought our rights would be more clearly established; of course, things were much better than before; all the country was safer than it ever had been. This was like a dream for a few years; all of a sudden, when this terrible war began, we felt almost certain that it would harm us, although we never dreamed that it would bring us under such a curse.

In the cold January, when even the beasts do not wish to go out from their caves, the people were left homeless, bleeding, impoverished and starving. This all happened when the Russian forces withdrew from Urmia; very many left their beloved and comfortable homes, and started with them on an endless journey, which caused the death of many dear souls from cold and hunger. The rest of the Christians crowded into the American Mission compounds, with nothing left; here they were fed on a morsel of bread which came through the kindness of the Missionaries. There is a great deal to tell of the misery of the people during the last winter; it was a life too wretched for humanity. Those that were used to comfortable beds now slept on the bare ground. For five months of captivity we lived expecting death every minute, surrounded by sick people who needed help; our little children died of measles; our young and strong ones could not stand the terrible epidemics of typhoid and typhus, while the elderly people could not live such a hard life; they died in the first weeks, of dysentery. Now the villages were plundered and mostly burned, a good many people killed, and our little girls and women wickedly tortured (very many even now have not been found; they were mercilessly carried into captivity); through all this long time of anxiety and expectation, during which our time was given to weeping, we prayed that God would once more save us by sending the Russians to our rescue.

It was a great relief when we heard that the Russians, for their own interests, were coming to Urmia once more. After their coming the people were at liberty, and were able to go out 185into the country once more. For three months they tried to live in the villages, though a very poor and wretched life it was, with everything gone and most of the buildings burned. In these hard times we were thankful to the American Missionaries and the Russian Consul who helped us in settling down. Although at this time we did not do any evil to our enemies who had treated us so unkindly, we heard them say that if once more the Russian army should leave Urmia, no Christian would be safe.

On the 4th August the peasants crowded into the city of Urmia; they had heard indirectly about the armies leaving. It was a sight that could not be described. The sick, helpless little children were terrified. All night and the next day the road that led towards the Russian border was full of refugees, although the Consul assured us that he would not leave without warning us; but the fear was so great that nothing could keep us back.

In the first invasion of Urmia[62] some of those that dwelt inside the city gates were in more security than the villagers, although they were fined a great deal and suffered many hardships and losses of property, and there had been deaths in almost every home; but this second attack meant that we must leave all and flee. On Friday morning, with sober face and heavy heart, I left my dear home. I am grateful to God that until now my home had not been robbed, so that it was very hard for me to leave its comfort and start out into the world with no hope of returning again. With many other comrades in the same plight, we began our dreadful journey. For two families we had a little cart in which we put a few necessary coverings, a little bread, and my three little children. It was very hard for us to leave our property, but life is dearer than all the riches of the world.

On the way we met all classes of people, the rich and poor were reduced to the same level; very few had carriages, because our neighbours would not hire us any, some had horses and donkeys, but the majority had to walk with great bundles on their backs. We were quite unused to such a hard journey; some sat on the roadside and wept from sore feet; it was hard to walk in shoes, and without shoes the sun burned them until the blood came; dear, innocent children died on the way; it broke the parents’ hearts to part with them; old and feeble men and women were left behind; little unlucky babies were born in the sight of the passers-by; everyone was in need of help, but no help could be found. We were like the Israelites scattered in the desert, only they had Moses to conduct them to Canaan, while we had no one.

The first night we were so tired and exhausted that we stopped in a place that had very little water, a dry, dusty place; our bed was the ground, our pillow a stone, the sky our quilt. The little excited children cried all night; large crowds of people were 186coming all night; while some rested and went on, others from behind took their place. The next day we were so tired and hopeless that we wished we had died at home and had not started on such an endless and aimless pilgrimage.

It broke my heart when I met a little girl; her feet were sore and she could walk no further. She cried, “Oh mother! Oh, God!” The mother had a heavy load and could not carry the child, the father was killed, they had no friends. I carried the little girl on my back for about half-a-mile, but could not any further. It was too heart-breaking. Why should innocent children suffer so?

Our next stop was a better place; it had splendid, cool water, and shade; but the people were so many that bread was scarce, starvation was upon us. A great many were sick by this time and could not move. This was a Moslem town; they did not like to have us there, but they could not turn us out on account of the Russian soldiers being near. There were Christian villages on our way, but by this time they had all been destroyed. Here we stopped a few days. We heard that the Cossacks had not left Urmia entirely; they had moved their headquarters a few miles, so that we had hope that we would not lose all. From here some of us went to Tabriz, which is a larger city, and a little safer than other places. Now we are a nation scattered like the flock without a shepherd, some living here and some there, a miserable existence. Some have gone back to Urmia; most of them have found all their crops gone. If we had not left Urmia this second time, our condition would not be so hard as it is now, the places near the city having mostly been kept safe by the kindness of the Russian Consul, who did not leave Urmia; but in the more distant places the crops and vineyards have all been destroyed. We are more than grateful to the Americans, who have ransomed our lives from death by the money that has been spent for us the last winter. We hope and pray for the victory of the Allies, that through their kindness the rest of us might live. So far one-third of our nation has perished, and even we who survive are so broken by the strain we have suffered that sometimes we are hopeless. Now we are facing a winter of famine and wretchedness, homes without bedding and clothes. Of course nobody can supply all our needs. In addition to our own trouble, our countrymen from Turkey are taking refuge in the Urmia district, and their condition is worse than ours.


62. By the Turks and Kurds.

187

44. URMIA DISTRICT: REPORT ON THE DISTRIBUTION OF RELIEF, COVERING THE PERIOD 1st JUNE TO 31st DECEMBER, 1915; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

At the beginning of June, 1915, when the people emerged from our premises emaciated from sickness and malnutrition and crushed by the blow that had fallen upon them, they were confronted by a seemingly hopeless situation. Practically all their household furnishings and food supplies had been plundered; the same was true of their domestic animals, on which they depended in large measure for their subsistence. Their houses were without any doors and windows, and probably a full third of them had been demolished. They were in terror about going back to their villages; they feared their Moslem neighbours, who had despoiled them of their property, outraged their wives and daughters, and killed many of their relatives; they feared, too, lest the Russian troops might again withdraw and leave them to the mercy of their enemies; and they were anxious lest the missionaries who had sheltered them for the previous months might forget them when they were out of sight. Everything tended to make them cling to our Mission compounds or their vicinity. To permit them to do this was of course out of the question. Our efforts, however, to scatter them to their village homes formed one of the most pitiful phases of our relief work. The people had to go, but as long as they received their bread from our yards they would not; and so we had no choice but to cut off the food supply, after giving each family sufficient flour to support them a week. At the same time, with the help of the newly arrived Russian Consul, pressure was brought to bear upon the landlords of the Christian villages to support their tenants until harvest. Some of these could not, because they themselves had been plundered; others would not, in spite of Consular pressure; and others promised to give the needed assistance, but delayed it from day to day with all the ingenuity of excuse for which the Orient is notorious. The result was that our yards were thronged daily with hundreds of people clamouring for food. To give way would have nullified all our efforts to get the people on to their own feet; and only when it was absolutely clear that nothing could be gotten from the landlords of any one village did we assume any degree of support for the people of the village. Little by little progress was made, and although the villagers were wretchedly miserable, the approaching harvest made subsistence by their own effort possible, and virtually all food distribution ceased for a period of three months.

There was another form of relief, however, that was imperative. In the vast majority of villages there was not a spade to use in repairing their houses, in ridding their vineyards of weeds or in burying their dead, and there was not a scythe or sickle with which to reap their harvest. The best and surest way to help 188the people was to give them these implements, and so for upwards of a month we virtually subsidised all the blacksmiths of the city in our endeavour to get these instruments in time for the harvest. When we closed this department of our relief work, we had distributed 2,661 scythes and sickles and 1,129 spades at a cost of 18,909.90 krans. (The exchange value of a silver kran is approximately 4½d.)

By the beginning of August the situation was considerably more hopeful. The people with Consular help had succeeded in collecting a good deal of their plundered property, including bedding, household utensils and a few cattle; the harvest was good, although the acreage was below the average, and the promise of the vineyards was excellent. Then fell another blow, what seemed an inexplicable Providence. Events in another section of the war necessitated orders for a sudden withdrawal of the Russian troops, and the evacuation was actually carried out with the exception of a small force which remained with the Consul on the hills outside the city. With the going of their protectors the whole Christian population of the plain, with the exception of some 200 sick and aged who again took refuge in the Mission yards, fled, some only to the northern edge of the plain, but many to Salmas and Khoi and even Djoulfa. Fortunately it was summer time, but even so the misery was intense, and cholera and want and hardship claimed many victims in those few weeks. Worse still, much that the people had reclaimed of their stolen property and gathered from their fields was taken once more by their Moslem neighbours; and so, after nearly a month of miserable hardship and uncertainty, the poor Syrians and Armenians returned to their twice plundered homes. Very little relief, however, was given during the next few weeks; for from the fields and vineyards much could still be secured in the way of food.

At this time we calculated that about 10,000 to 15,000 of the Christian inhabitants would have to be supported during! the winter months, and we were making our plans accordingly, when a new and overwhelming burden descended upon us. For months the Syrians of Kurdistan had been holding their own in their mountain fastnesses, hoping for succour from the Russians. When this failed and their enemies increased on every hand, they had to flee—many, many perishing in the attempt. Some 30,000 of them arrived at last in Salmas and the neighbourhood in almost absolute destitution. A few succeeded in bringing a part of their sheep, but most came with nothing, half-naked, and without any means of livelihood. This army of wretchedness was halted by the authorities on the plain of Salmas and on the hills surrounding it, until their location should be determined upon. Mr. McDowell of our Relief Committee, who has had years of experience among these people, left at once for Salmas and grappled with the serious problem of their immediate relief. But for the 189assistance given by our Committee there, hundreds of them would have perished from hunger. As it was, cholera, typhoid and pneumonia did their worst among a people wasted by hardship, unprotected from the cold and without shelter. Shortly the streams of suffering humanity began to pour across the pass that separates the Salmas from the Urmia plain, and to scatter themselves in the villages of this section. A few weeks before we had been wondering how the inhabitants of the plain would find shelter for themselves in their half-ruined villages; but from the accompanying statistical report[63] it will be seen that they have made room for nearly 16,000 refugees from other districts. For example, the village of Geogtapa has doubled its population, having received as many of these guests as it had inhabitants of its own.

About the middle of October we began to take steps in preparation for our winter relief work. The first thing was to buy up all supplies of wheat that we could secure while the price was low—the lowest for years, for the purchasers were few and the owners anxious to turn their crops into cash before any more untoward events might transpire. The wheat thus secured was stored in different parts of the plain accessible as distributing centres. The doing of this required quite a force of reliable men, who could act as wheat buyers and weighers.

The next step was to get accurate lists of the actually destitute in every village. This was no easy task, for many felt themselves entitled to assistance who were not wholly destitute, and to discover who were really in want, among the hundreds of poverty-stricken, plundered inhabitants of each village, required both tact and firmness. The task was made doubly hard by the constant stream of new arrivals from Salmas. On the basis of these lists tickets were issued for bedding and for food—the two most crying needs.

For bedding it was decided to issue large wool quilts, large enough to cover several persons. These we found could be made for three or three and a half tomans (12s.) per quilt. Under the efficient direction of Miss Lewis, and later of Miss Lamme, a quilt factory was started, which in time employed over a hundred needy women in carding wool and sewing the quilts. This factory during its three months’ existence consumed over 84,000 yards of calico, 35,000 pounds of wool, and some 1,500 pounds of cotton, and expended over 18,000 tomans; it taxed the resources of the dry goods merchants to supply our demand and it quite exhausted the wool supplies of the city. Our plan was to give only one quilt to four persons, families of over four to receive two or more according to the number of members; but after the issue of tickets we found that we could not possibly supply the need, and so regretfully we had to limit our giving to one quilt to a family. The inadequacy of this relief was seen when we began 190to distribute to the families of mountaineers; for with them all the brothers and their wives and children form one family, and it was not uncommon to have families of over 20, one being as high as 35. But in spite of their inadequacy, the 5,510 quilts issued have saved the lives of many, for literally thousands were facing the rigours of winter without any bedding whatever.

Our wheat distribution, too, had to be of the most economical nature. We issued what was supposed to be a two months’ supply at one time, giving a Russian pood and a half per capita for this period, that is, about 50 pounds. To the widows and orphans and to the new comers from the mountains we gave flour instead of wheat, the actual cost of this assistance in food at current prices being two and a half shahis per day to a person, or between a half-penny and three-farthings. But even with this small gratuity, the total amount given of wheat and flour was 4,000 poods, or about 140,000 pounds, costing about the same as the quilts, that is, about 18,000 tomans.

With these small gifts to individuals amounting in the aggregate to large figures, and with the similar work that has been done in Salmas and Khoi, and even for the district of Albek, our funds have been exhausted, and we are waiting now to see what the generosity of America will do about it. Had it not been for this generosity, many would have died of hunger and cold the last two months, for, apart from what our Committee has done, very little has reached the people from any other source. We are grateful indeed to acknowledge the receipt of considerable sums from his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury for the Syrian refugees from the mountains, but still the largest part has come and must come from America. We shall have to look to our friends in America for their continued aid, if this unfortunate people, the victims of Mohammedan hate, are to be kept this winter and established in their homes once more.


63. Omitted here.

191

45. AZERBAIJAN: STATEMENT, DATED TIFLIS, 22nd FEBRUARY, 1916, BY MR. M. PHILIPS PRICE, WAR CORRESPONDENT FOR VARIOUS BRITISH AND AMERICAN NEWSPAPERS ON THE CAUCASIAN FRONT; COMMUNICATED TO ANEURIN WILLIAMS, ESQ., M.P., AND PUBLISHED IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL “ARARAT,” OF LONDON, MARCH, 1916.

In the October of last year I came to Diliman on the plain of Salmas in north-west Persia. I had been in Urmia during September and had seen the condition of the Assyrians (mostly Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant) in the low country round that lake. The American missionaries of Urmia were doing a great deal, and on the whole the condition of the country was not so very bad. There was housing accommodation and a good deal of corn, and it seemed as if the Americans would keep the situation in hand. But in Salmas there was a very different state of affairs. At the end of September, 25,000 mountain Nestorians from the Tkhuma, Baz and Tiari regions, who had been fighting with the Kurds all summer and had had to flee for lack of ammunition, came pouring into the plain led by their Patriarch, Mar Shimun, and began to plant themselves down in the orchards and gardens round the villages. All the villages of the plain were already occupied, and, as the winter was just setting in, their condition without housing, food and clothing was desperate. I sent a message to Mr. Shipley, the British Consul at Tabriz, telling him of the situation, and he telegraphed to the Archbishop of Canterbury for financial assistance. Meanwhile relief committees were organised under the Russian Consul Akimovitch, the Armenian Bishop Nerses, who lent funds from the Armenians of the Caucasus, and an American Missionary from Urmia, Mr. McDowell, with funds from America, and they began to organise relief during November and December. The method adopted was to distribute to all the refugees, Armenians and Assyrians alike, a daily allowance of 10 kopecks a day, since increased to 15 kopecks, and to distribute warm quilts and coats from materials purchased in the bazaars of Diliman and Khoi. Some medical detachments of the Russian Red Cross and Soyus Gorodof were sent with medical aid to combat typhus and dysentery, which was beginning to and still is taking many in toll of the refugees. As regards the medical side of the relief, I am inclined to doubt the possibility of making effective provision under the circumstances. There are not sufficient skilled doctors, and it is impossible to get drugs through from the Caucasus in sufficient quantity to do much good.

I did not observe on my return to Salmas after a journey to Van in November any real improvement in the health of the refugees. Every day a hundred or more Assyrians and Armenians were dying in the villages round Diliman, and the same thing is going on now.

It seems to me (and these friends of mine, who have also been 192there and have seen the conditions, agree with me), that it is impossible under the circumstances to combat the disease by medical assistance. The hardy mountaineers from the headwaters of the Great Zab and Tigris can best be helped by giving them the means to resist disease. Once disease has hold of them, no half measures of medical relief can help. I am therefore strongly of opinion that, if more relief is sent, it should take the form of money, which should go to increase the daily allowances of the refugees, enabling them to buy for themselves, from the Persians of Diliman, food and clothing, which alone will enable them to resist disease.

The position is now as follows. When I left Diliman for Van at the end of October, I saw in the regions round Bashkalé another 5,000 or 6,000 Assyrian and a sprinkling of Armenians living in caves of the rocks or in the open, and feeding on raw grains of wheat, which they were picking from the ruined corn-fields. On my return in January most of these were in Salmas, and so I think about 30,000 Assyrian and Armenian refugees are now there—that is, after deducting 15 per cent. as loss from disease in the last three months. The Russian and American relief organisations which are working there of course stand in need of more money to carry on their work effectively. In order to save the refugees from starving, doles of money must be given out to them till next harvest at least. I should certainly think that the Americans, whose committee is centred in Tabriz, under the American Consul there, are doing the best work with the means at their disposal. With the Russian organisation there is more delay and greater leakage. Relief is being given impartially by the Americans to Assyrians and Armenians of all denominations. This cannot always be guaranteed for the Russian organisation.

I would therefore strongly appeal for further help for the distressed refugees of this ancient Assyrian Church, together with their brethren of the Armenian Gregorian, Catholic and Protestant faiths, and should suggest that it be sent to the British Consul at Tabriz to distribute with the American missionaries in the form of increased daily allowances for food and clothing.

193

V.
THE REFUGEES IN THE CAUCASUS.

For two months—June and July, 1915—the Armenians of Van enjoyed an autonomous national government under Russian protection. But in the last days of July the Ottoman armies on this front received strong reinforcements, and were able once more to take the offensive. The Russian troops began to fall back from Van on the 30th July, and practically the entire Armenian population of the Vilayet accompanied them in their retirement.

The retreat was unexpected. The refugees had few conveyances and hardly any provisions; and, though their rear was protected against the descents of the Kurds by the heroic fighting of the Cossacks and the Armenian Volunteers, the suffering and mortality, during their flight over almost trackless mountains, was appalling.

At Etchmiadzin and Erivan, across the Russian frontier, the Armenian refugees were joined by the stream of Nestorian fugitives from Urmia, and the total number of Christian exiles in the Caucasus rose to over a hundred and eighty thousand.

The Turks only retained their hold on Van for a few weeks, but that was sufficient for their purpose. They did what they had done at Bitlis, Moush and Sassoun; and when the Russians returned, they found that all the inhabitants who had stayed behind had been massacred, and all the towns and villages burnt to the ground, including Van itself.

As soon as security had been re-established, the refugees began to return, slowly, to build up their ruined homes. But the majority of them still remained in the Caucasus, where they had arrived in utter destitution. The Caucasian Armenians rose magnificently to the occasion. The brunt of the relief work fell upon them, and their organisation was as admirable as their generosity. They were subsequently reinforced by aid from London, Boston, and, above all, from Moscow; but the magnitude of the task was overwhelming, and the need continued to be very great.

194

46. THE FLIGHT TO THE CAUCASUS: DESPATCHES TO THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL “HORIZON” OF TIFLIS, FROM MR. SAMPSON AROUTIOUNIAN, PRESIDENT OF THE ARMENIAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE OF TIFLIS, WHO WENT IN PERSON TO MEET THE REFUGEES.

(a) Despatch dated Etchmiadzin, 12th August, 1915.

The road from Igdir to Etchmiadzin (about 30 kilometres) is choked with groups of sick and destitute refugees. They have now waited there several days exposed to the full heat of the sun, although they have passes authorising them to proceed to Etchmiadzin. There is urgent need for a special body of workers to organise and forward these refugees.

(b) Despatch dated Etchmiadzin, 13th August, 1915.

Between the Turkish frontier and Igdir (the first Russian village), the whole countryside is filled to overflowing with refugees. Further on, between Igdir and Etchmiadzin, all the gardens and vineyards are full of them. At Igdir, the first arrival depot, a mass of 20,000 has accumulated, and another of 45,000 at Etchmiadzin; from these two centres they are being distributed in groups to other districts. At Etchmiadzin a hospital has been installed, as well as baths and a hospice for the orphans. Between Igdir and the Turkish frontier there are patrols of horsemen searching for the children, the sick and other stragglers, and seeing to the removal of the corpses. About fifty orphans arrive every day at Igdir; part of them are kept there, the others are sent on to Etchmiadzin.

The refugees from Van and the surrounding country have traversed the whole distance on foot. The majority of them are sick and starving, having been able to take nothing with them at the moment of departure. In the course of their journey they have not been attacked except at Bergri-Kala, where a band of Kurds cut the defenceless column and headed off about 20,000 people at the rear end of it, whose fate we do not know. As a result of famine and fatigue, a large number of the refugees have been more or less severely attacked by various epidemics, especially by dysentery.

The stream flows without ceasing, and it is impossible to estimate the numbers with any exactitude. At Igdir, with the assistance of Aram, ex-Governor of the province of Van, and other representatives of the refugees, we fixed them approximately at the following figures:

Van district, 203,000; Melashkerd, 60,000, not including those who reached here at an earlier date. The average mortality amounts to 15 deaths a day at Igdir, and 40 at Etchmiadzin.

The care of all these refugees falls upon the Armenian organisations, principally upon the Committee of Fraternal Assistance at Etchmiadzin and the National Committee. The relief available is utterly inadequate to such boundless misery. The refugees need food, medical aid and clothing, especially linen and boots. 195There is a dearth of travelling kitchens, tents and carts. To stamp out the contagious diseases, it is indispensable to installinstall medical stations in all the villages.

(c) Despatch dated Etchmiadzin, 13th August, 1915.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees are arriving at Etchmiadzin from Turkish Armenia. There seems no end to these solid columns moving forward in a cloud of dust. The majority are women and children, barefoot, exhausted and starving. Their accounts of the atrocities committed by the Turks and Kurds reveal indescribable horrors. The panic which set these poor people in flight came upon them absolutely unawares; parents lost their children, and children their parents. A great number of these lost children, without food and worn out as they were, were unable to keep up and died on the road. Others have been, picked up by rescue parties, and there are now at Igdir and Etchmiadzin about 500 of these little motherless creatures. We make an urgent appeal to all Armenian ladies to come to the aid of these abandoned little ones.

(d) Despatch dated Erivan, 21st August, 1915.

The stream of refugees still flows, but with a slacker current. At the present moment more than 35,000 of them have accumulated at Etchmiadzin, and 20,000 at Erivan. In spite of all the zeal displayed by the Relief Committee of Etchmiadzin, under the presidency of the Prelate Bagrad, and by the National Committees of Tiflis and Moscow, with their numerous affiliated Committees, the situation is extraordinarily harrowing. There is an absolute shortage of bread, hot food and medical assistance. The majority of the refugees are ill. At Etchmiadzin and Erivan several hospitals have been installed, which are providing for about 1,500 sick people; yet there are still great numbers of the seriously sick lying out under walls, in open courtyards, or even in the streets. They are suffering terribly from dysentery. The mortality is enormous; the day before yesterday they buried 103 people at Etchmiadzin, and yesterday 80.

At the Etchmiadzin Secondary School, 3,500 children who have lost their parents are huddled together. They sleep on the floor. Yesterday evening I visited the building; in the big hall I counted 110 babies lying on the floor absolutely naked; some of them were sleeping, others were crying. The effect was so harrowing that one could not restrain one’s tears. The sight was too terrible for me to stand, and I fled from this hell. But in the courtyard an equally painful scene awaited me. Under the walls and in the corners there were refugees lying everywhere. One heard the cries of the sick; here and there one saw corpses. In front of the monastery gate I found the lifeless bodies of three children. The women of Vaharshapat and other places are sewing clothes and preparing bedding material, but such aid is quite insufficient. Professor Kishkin, the representative of the 196“Homo-Russe Society,” has just arrived from Moscow to inspect the condition of the refugees and organise all the relief available. He told us that beyond Erivan a supply station has been established at Arkhta[64], where the refugees are receiving dry bread, and still there is not enough of that to go around. Wherever the refugees stop, there is sickness, but no medical aid. Professor Kishkin gave the necessary orders for the immediate installation of properly-equipped medical stations between Etchmiadzin and Aghstafa, and has written to the Central Committee at Moscow for doctors, travelling kitchens, clothing, linen, etc.


64. Nijni Arkha (?).

197

47. THE FLIGHT TO THE CAUCASUS: DESPATCH FROM THE SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT OF THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL “AREV” OF BAKOU.

The immense procession, sinking under its agony and fatigue, forces itself along and moves forward without respite. The head of the column came to a standstill some time ago at Igdir; reduced to utter despair, it is fluctuating aimlessly hither and thither. No pen can describe what this tragic procession has endured, or what experiences it has lived through, on its interminable road. The least detail of them makes the human heart quail, and draws an unquenchable stream of bitter tears from one’s eyes. In the act of writing this, my pen trembles in my hand, and I inscribe these lines with my tears.

Each fraction of the long procession has its individual history, its especial pangs. It is impossible to describe or record them all. Here is a mother with her six little children, one on her back, the second clasped to her breast; the third falls down on the road, and cries and wails because it cannot drag itself further. The three others begin to wail in sympathy, and the poor mother stands stock still, tearless, like a statue, utterly powerless to help.

Here is the road again and a broken cart on it, the sole hope of a large family. The sick mother has been laid upon it, as well as the children and the provisions. The father, an elderly man, gazes in despair at the cart he must abandon. In that moment he lived through a whole tragedy. But, come what may, they must always move forward.

And here is another mother, quite young and clad in rags. She wraps her dead baby in a shawl, puts it down out of the traffic, hugs it for the last time, and goes on her way without looking behind her.

Another scene—a mother once more with little children. She was carrying two of them in her arms; the third was clinging to her skirts, weeping and crying to be taken up in her arms like the rest. Tears were pouring in streams from the young mother’s eyes. She made a sudden movement, shook off the child who was hanging to her skirts, left it on the road and walked off quickly, so as not to see its agony or hear its wailing. From behind rose the cry: “Who has lost her baby?” The cry reached the mother’s ears, but she stopped her ears and hurried on.

Here is a whole group of women with white hair, bent double, all of them, and marching in silence and with bowed heads. Where are they going? They do not know. They are going wherever the vast procession carries them.

Oh! these mothers, the mothers of Armenia—are there anywhere in the world other mothers who have borne the indescribable sufferings which have fallen upon them?

And so one scene succeeds another, each more fearful than the last. Often one closes one’s eyes to shut them out. The fact 198that one is powerless in the face of such suffering prostrates one’s spirit. The procession moves forward at a surprising pace, under the imperious goad of terror. In the rear the Kurds had swarmed down from the mountains and opened fire on the column of refugees. Strung to the fullest stretch of anguish and terror, the procession pushes forward across the lofty mountains and the deep valleys, devoured by thirst under a burning sun. There are many in that company who curse the day of their birth.

Now, exhausted by privation and broken by fatigue, the procession halts at Igdir, floods the streets, fills every corner, and mounts up along the river bank and into the open fields.

199

48. MEMORANDUM ON THE CONDITION OF ARMENIAN REFUGEES IN THE CAUCASUS AND ORPHANS AT VAN: COMPILED IN THE BRITISH FOREIGN OFFICE FROM INFORMATION, DATED 9th DECEMBER, 1915, WHICH WAS FURNISHED BY MR. STEVENS, BRITISH CONSUL AT BATOUM.

In order to secure reliability in the application of funds collected in the United Kingdom to the immediate and actual relief of Armenian refugees who have sought shelter in the Caucasus, it is generally agreed that remittances should be sent to the “Armenian Central Relief Committee for Victims of the War” at Tiflis. The President of the Committee is Mr. Sampson Aroutiounian, and the Treasurer Mr. G.M. Zurinov. A Special Refugee Committee is working under the ægis of this body, and is stated to have representatives on the spot attending to the immediate needs of the refugees. Apart from this, the Central Committee has Branch Committees in all those principal towns of Transcaucasia where the Armenian element predominates. They are all engaged in collecting for relief work.

It is a task of the greatest difficulty, in existing circumstances, without visiting the localities where refugees are now concentrated and investigating matters on the spot, to obtain an absolutely correct description of the extent of the alleged distress amongst refugees within the Armenian refugee pale. That distress is acute—indeed, very acute—is, however, universally admitted. No two opinions differ on this point: suffering everywhere, the outlook dark and the need for relief work, and above all pecuniary aid, urgent.

Attention is also called to the urgent necessity for winter dwellings, fuel, and warm clothing, and to the inadequate staff of competent doctors, nurses and assistants to deal with the exceptional amount of illness which exists among the refugees; and, in general, to the insufficiency of medicines, medical accessories, equipment, disinfectants, and every other kind of commodity required for securing a minimum degree of comfort for the refugees.

Sums of Rs. 250,000 (£25,000), Rs. 10,000 (£1,000), and Rs. 700 (£70) have just been remitted to Bakou, Elizavetpol, and Igdir, respectively, for the maintenance of the refugee lazarettos at those places.

Rs. 25,000 (£2,500)—a donation by a rich Armenian gentleman named Mantashev—have recently been spent by the Mayor of Tiflis in procuring warm bedding, as for instance mattresses, quilts, and pillow cases, which have been sent to Igdir, Delijan, Novo-Bayazid and Elizavetpol for the use of refugees.

With the available funds at the disposal of the various organisations in this country, which are not relatively proportionate to the heavy expenditure called forth by the urgent requirements of the refugees from Asia Minor, relief work obviously cannot be 200undertaken by them in the needed degree, owing to the very considerable numbers of fugitives who are finding their way to the Caucasus from many parts of the Empire, and whose claims on the moneys belonging to the Societies are as urgent as those of the Armenian refugees.

The unsatisfactory character of the conditions obtaining in regard to the question of relieving the refugees has been recognised by the various Armenian Refugee Committees in the Caucasus, and an Extraordinary Meeting of the Bakou Branch was convened quite recently. At this meeting it was decided to endeavour to improve relief work within as short a period as possible, and several modifications in the existing system have, it appears, been recommended. It is reported that the principal feature of the changes that are to take place is the issue of rations, which in future are to be partly in kind and partly in the form of a cash allowance—the latter at the rate of 20 copecks (about 4d.) per adult and 15 copecks (about 3d.) per child per diem. A further cash allowance of two roubles per adult per month is to be issued for rental.

Mr. Papadjanov, Member of the Imperial Duma for the Armenian constituencies, who is on a special visit to the Caucasus for the purpose of gaining a close knowledge of conditions on the spot, was present at the above meeting and has been furnished with full details in regard to the situation and the working of the several Relief Committees. He has since visited the Viceroy and is reported to have proceeded to the districts situated within the refugee pale. After this visit, he will better be able to form an opinion as to the needs of the refugees; and, before he returns to Petrograd, in all probability, a conference of delegates of all the Armenian Refugee Committees in the Caucasus will be held at Tiflis for the final discussion of the urgency of the situation.

The funds at the disposal of the Tiflis Central Committee are apparently exhausted, and Rs. 2,000 (£200) have recently been advanced by the Tiflis Municipality to meet the immediate requirements of the refugees. The Provincial Governor has been requested by the Mayor to give his support to the negotiations which are in progress for a grant of £1,000 by the State, until further funds can be raised for the more urgent needs of the refugees.

Meanwhile, it is reported that the Katholikos has received 120 bales of warm clothing from America, and Mr. Hatisov, Mayor of Tiflis, another 11 bales of the same kind of wearing apparel from London, for distribution among the refugees.

A large quantity of warm clothing, a portion of which has recently been sent from Moscow to the Caucasus and another lot prepared by the Ladies’ Committee of the Central Refugee Committee, has been quite recently forwarded to Djoulfa, Diliman and Van for the refugees. Warm clothing for the use of fugitives 201has also been sent, by the Central Committee, to Aghstafa and Alexandropol.

From Van it is announced in the “Kavkazskoyé Slovo” that only about 1,600 Armenians remain there, but that many refugees are returning from the Caucasus. About 4,000 fugitives are in the country adjacent to Van. Great difficulty is being experienced in procuring bread and meat, and all other commodities required for domestic purposes are unobtainable. Everything has to be brought from Khoi over very bad roads, the journey occupying five to six days. Motor traffic on the roads is impossible. In view of the deplorable conditions obtaining in the town, the establishment of a hospital at Van is strongly disadvised; in fact, a measure of the kind is stated to be outside the bounds of possibility. In view of the anti-sanitary condition at Van, sickness of every kind is prevalent among the orphans of massacred Armenians, large numbers of whom have now accumulated at Van and in its district. The children are fatherless and motherless. They are in a terrible condition. Most of them are starving, and have become so emaciated that they look more like skeletons than human beings. All buildings at Van have been destroyed by fire. No places of refuge exist for the infants. The Field Lazaretto of a Russian regiment has taken some of these orphans under its care and protection, and they seek warmth and shelter under the overcoats of the Russian soldiers.

From subsequent reports which have been received, it appears that the numbers of refugees from Turkish Asia Minor and the Urmia district who have taken refuge in the Caucasus are approximately as follows:—

(a) In the Government of Elizavetpol:—2,788 men, 4,031 women and 3,853 children of both sexes, or a total of 10,672 souls, of whom only 154 are in the town of the same name, the other refugees having found accommodation in the villages of the province.

(b) For the Government of Erivan the approximate figures are:—In the town 17,000, at Alexandropol 7,000, and in the villages of the province 76,000 refugees, or a total of 100,000.

(c) Besides the above, 29,000 Nestorian Christians and Armenians have taken refuge at Russian Djoulfa. They are reported to be natives of Salmas and the adjoining districts.

The total number of Armenian and Nestorian refugees in the Caucasus is therefore about 140,000 men, women and children. The above figures are, of course, only approximate and subject to correction.

As regards the refugees at Djoulfa, it was decided at a recent meeting, at which there was present the Nestorian Patriarch Mar Shimun, to open a central hospital for 50 beds at Diliman, 202another for 25 beds at Haftevan, and dispensaries in the neighbourhood of this latter village.

A sum of £5,000 had been sent to these refugees by the Viceroy of the Caucasus, and was calculated to suffice till the 18th December. A further sum of £10,000 a month is required to keep the refugees supplied with food, while other needs included £8,500 for the supply of beds and warm clothing, and £1,500 for the equipment and maintenance of the hospitals and dispensaries at Diliman and Haftevan. It is feared, however, that the above estimates for pressing needs at Djoulfa will have to be largely increased in the event of a further influx of refugees from Bashkala, an eventuality which is considered probable.

203

49. MEMORANDUM ON THE CONDITION OF ARMENIAN REFUGEES IN THE CAUCASUS: COMPILED IN THE BRITISH FOREIGN OFFICE FROM INFORMATION, DATED 29th DECEMBER, 1915, WHICH WAS FURNISHED BY MR. STEVENS, BRITISH CONSUL AT BATOUM.

Although the considerable sums that have recently been finding their way to Russia are being applied to the relief of Armenian refugees in the Caucasus, and the numerous consignments of clothing placed by various organisations at the disposal of the Relief Committees are being served out to them, the need of the refugees for further urgent help is reported to be still very great.

Prince Argoudinsky-Dolgoroukov, the Acting Representative of the Caucasian Section of the Urban Union, after having visited the refugee camps at Bambak and Delijan, furnishes the following report on his tour of inspection:—

Four thousand refugees are concentrated in the 26 villages which he visited in the districts named above, the more wealthy villages housing a greater number of fugitives than the less important ones. He found that, as a rule, two refugees are quartered in each house. In the whole of this district, excepting at Karakeliss, the refugees are everywhere gratuitously lodged. The same rations are issued to the refugees in all the villages; they consist of one-and-a-half pounds of flour and a cash allowance of five copecks (one penny) per diem per person. Children under two years old receive no rations or money allowance; they are, however, very few in number. Most of the children coming under this denomination have died from hunger, cold and the other fearful sufferings to which the refugees have been subjected since last summer.

At Karakeliss all dwellings are in satisfactory condition. In some of the villages fuel—mainly wood procured in the neighbouring forests—is served out to the refugees. In this district the latter possess about 1,000 head of cattle.

The exceedingly well organised Relief Committee of the Karakeliss Brotherhood is very attentive to the needs of the refugees. Their registration has been admirably arranged by this Committee. Full particulars of the refugees, and the relief received, are entered in the register book kept by the Committee. The latter has two representatives who periodically visit the refugee villages, attend to the issue of rations, and inquire into the urgent needs of the refugees and their other requirements. The Committee further endeavours to find work for the refugees.

The Committee has recently prepared two hundred stoves and a quantity of warm clothing for the refugees. They are daily furnished with boiling water and sugar. An unsatisfactory feature of relief work at Karakeliss is the difficulty experienced in receiving flour and money from Alexandropol. At times it takes twenty days to obtain them. Owing to the short cereal crop of 1915 in the district, no local flour is procurable; consequently 204the refugees frequently remain in a practically starving condition. The Prince Argoudinsky was surprised to find that no means had yet been devised by which the transport of flour and the transmission of money over so short a distance could be accelerated.

The Urban Union maintains a fairly well organised and equipped hospital for fifty beds at Karakeliss. This establishment, however, lacks an operating room, a mortuary and a disinfecting camera.

An orphanage managed by the Petrograd Armenian Committee has also been opened at Karakeliss. It accommodates 170 beds. The premises are good—well kept and clean. The children belonging to the orphanage are taught at the Church School at Karakeliss. They are all well dressed, but do not get sufficient food. This affects their outward appearance, and the orphans are consequently pale and somewhat emaciated. Prince Argoudinsky was informed that at times some of the children would wake up at night and search for remnants of bread left about during the day.

The Tairov Asylum for Orphans, maintained at the personal expense of Mrs. U.M. Tairov, impressed the Prince very favourably. The Orphanage is equipped for 25 orphans belonging to soldiers, and for 25 fatherless and motherless refugees. The children are well accommodated with plenty of room, in a fine and spacious building. They are made to work. They tidy up and clean the rooms, wash their own linen, wash up crockery, pans and utensils, lay the tables, assist in cooking and perform all other domestic work. They are taught to read and write, and also various trades. The children sing in Armenian and Russian to the accompaniment of a piano. They are well dressed and shod. Their robust and healthy appearance testifies to good conditions of life, and also points to the fact that Mrs. Tairov and the whole of the personnel of the establishment put a good deal of energy into their work, and are much concerned in the welfare of the children.

The conditions obtaining in the district of Kazakh are not so satisfactory as they are at Karakeliss. The need for methodical organisation in supervising relief work and introducing a defined plan of action is everywhere noticeable.

About 4,500 refugees are concentrated in this locality, viz.:—3,145 Armenians, 805 Nestorians and 550 Armenian orphans. The latter are accommodated in the Orphanage of Delijan.

Up to the 23rd November last, the above refugees were receiving a cash allowance of 10 copecks (2d.) per person per diem. On that date, however, this cash allowance was increased to 15 copecks (3d.) a day. Until the 20th November the Urban Union maintained feeding stations at the more important refugee centres, but, to the great disappointment of the refugees, these stations were then closed, and victualling was taken over by the 205police authorities and the village committees, which continue to perform these duties. The refugees here receive relief at the rate of 1 lb. 32 zol. (about one English lb.) of flour, and a cash allowance of 7 copecks (1¼d.) per diem per person. Fuel is not distributed to all the refugees. Some of the latter have had warm clothing, supplied by the Armenian Benevolent Society, served out to them; others have been furnished with iron stoves.

No special committee which could take over the management of relief work exists in this district. The Delijan Committee partly performs the duties which would devolve on such a body. No properly organised system of administering relief is provided. Very few individual refugees are unwilling to find employment. The invariable excuse put forward for refusing work is the absence of proper clothing for taking on open air work; also, that no food is procurable where work is offering, in consequence of which the refugees have to starve. Up to the 2nd December, the refugees were supplied with tea and sugar by the Urban Union. For some unknown reason, this allowance has recently been discontinued.

Hospital arrangements are good in this district. The hospital is maintained out of funds supplied by the Urban Union.

The ground floor of a wing of an unoccupied barrack building has been adapted to accommodate refugees. The building, although spacious, is gloomy and dark, and is exceedingly badly ventilated. The upper floor is temporarily occupied by 123 orphans, who are cared for by the Armenian Central Committee. The children go about barefoot.

At Delijan four asylums for children exist. Prince Argoudinsky was only able to visit one of these establishments. The one inspected by him is managed by Princess Toumanov, and is maintained out of funds furnished by the Armenian Benevolent Society. After their dinners, the children go to school. They look strong and healthy, and their appearance shows care and kind treatment in every respect. According to information obtained by Prince Argoudinsky, the other three asylums at Delijan are likewise well managed and kept.

The relief extended to the refugees at Delijan is only of a primitive nature; the same remark cannot, however, be applied to the unsatisfactory conditions obtaining in this connection in the district of Kazakh. Here the question of housing the refugees is one of the most painful features of the relief work undertaken. In a large number of villages in this district, the refugees are mostly accommodated in derelict sheds and shops—dark, unheated and overcrowded. For some unaccountable reason warm clothing has not been issued to them. They do not receive their rations of flour and cash allowances with regularity, and no Central Organisation to inquire into their immediate and urgent needs exists on the spot.

The Bakou Refugee Committee has just forwarded several further consignments of 10,000 quilts, 12,000 mattresses and sacks, 20612,000 pillow cases, 600 jackets, 3,000 shirts, 3,000 pairs of drawers; and the Tiflis Committee, 400 quilts, 4,000 mattresses, 4,000 pillow cases, 200 jackets, 1,000 shirts and 1,000 pairs of drawers, to the Governors of Elizavetpol and Erivan, to be served out to the refugees. The latter Committee has also sent several bales of clothing to Persia and to Turkish Asia Minor for the refugees, but according to the newspapers a large proportion of the fugitives are still in utmost poverty—destitute, to a very great extent, of the absolute necessities of existence.

Seventy-six railway truck loads of flour, of which 53 were for the needs of the Armenian Refugees in the Government of Erivan and 23 for the use of those in the Government of Elizavetpol, left Gulevich in the Northern Caucasus a few days ago. These trucks, under ordinary conditions, should already have reached their respective destinations.

Owing to anticipated heavy snow drifts at the Akhta Pass (Kars-Karakeliss direction), the Zemstvo Union gave orders a few days ago that all its refugee victualling and provisioning stations should be moved to Igdir.

According to information obtained by Mr. Sarebey, the Dragoman of the Vice-Consulate at Van, from the Armenian Bishop of Erivan and from various other data he has been able to procure on the spot, the number of Armenian refugees in the Caucasus is 173,038, of whom 105,000 are from the Province of Van; 48,000 from the districts of Alashkerd, Bayazid and Passin; and 20,038 from Moush, Boulanik, &c., &c.

They are housed as follows:—

Government of Erivan:—    
  Town of Erivan 18,820  
  Villages in the neighbourhood of Erivan 14,680  
  Market town of Vaharshapat 5,360  
  Villages of the district of same name 22,730  
  Town of Nahichevan 271  
  District of Nahichevan 468  
  Igdir 1,028  
  Surmalin 7,342  
  Town of Alexandropol 8,450  
  Villages in the neighbourhood of Alexandropol 14,121  
  Sharori 268  
  Town of Novo-Bayazid 1,164  
  Villages of Novo-Bayazid district 10,336  
    ——— 105,038
Government of Elizavetpol:—    
  Town of Elizavetpol 12,000  
  Villages, district of Elizavetpol 5,000  
  District of Karabagh 1,000  
    ——— 18,000
207Province of Kars:—    
  Town of Kars and adjacent villages 26,000  
  Karakeliss 4,000  
    ——— 30,000
 
Government of Tiflis:—    
  City of Tiflis 5,000  
  Villages of the district of Tiflis 3,000  
    ——— 8,000
 
Northern Caucasus (probably the Armenian town of Nahichevan-on-Don)   12,000
      ———
  Grand total   173,038
      ———

The number of refugees in the Caucasus from Khoi and Salmas is small, about 1,000. They are housed principally at Nahichevan and a few at Erivan.

The foregoing figures differ from those obtained from an official source, which put the number of refugees in the Caucasus, in round figures, at 140,000. The data now procured by Sarebey, who is on the spot, originating as they do from Armenian sources and being in greater detail, are likely to be more correct than the information then furnished.

Reports received through the newspapers from Colonel Termen state that the situation at Van has recently improved. It would appear that 6,000 refugees have returned to the town, which has been subdivided into four police districts. Strict measures to prevent further pillage and destruction of property have been introduced at Van. Ordinary necessaries of life are procurable, although only in very small quantities. Some threshing machines and four or five flour mills have resumed work in the district, with the result that several bakeries have reopened.

All persons, organisations and other bodies in the Caucasus and elsewhere that have Armenian orphans from Van and its district in their care, have been requested to furnish particulars to the Governor of Van in regard to the names, ages, parentage and native places of the orphans in their charge. Also, where possible, information is asked for as to any property their deceased parents may have possessed, in order to enable the authorities to institute a search for, and appoint guardians to protect, such property.

The spread of disease has been stayed. The town has assumed a cleaner and more orderly appearance. In some streets the restoration of buildings has been commenced. Ten or twelve shops and stores have resumed trade.

The Armenian newspaper Horizon states that the news from Salmas is very unsatisfactory. Bishop Nerses’ urgent appeal for warm clothing has hitherto remained unheeded. Only a small quantity of clothing forwarded by the Tabriz Women’s Committee has reached him, but the articles sent are like a drop in the ocean. The cold is excessive.

208

50. REPORT ON THE ACTIVITY OF ARMENIAN REFUGEE RELIEF ORGANISATIONS IN THE CAUCASUS AND TURKISH ARMENIA; ENCLOSED IN A DESPATCH (NO. 1), DATED BATOUM, 3rd JANUARY, 1916, FROM MR. CONSUL STEVENS TO THE BRITISH FOREIGN OFFICE.

The Armenian organisations in the Caucasus which have been so active in relieving Christian refugees since the first arrival of the latter in this country in the early days of July last, still continue their good work.

The number of victims of the war who took refuge in the Caucasus from Turkish Armenia and Persia, in roughly estimated figures, is 150,000. The influx of refugees, however, continued for some time after July. There is, therefore, good reason to believe that the number of refugees who crossed the Russian border was in excess of the figures quoted above.

The refugees for the most part settled in the Government of Erivan, and principally at and about the town of Etchmiadzin. Housing accommodation for such large numbers could not here be provided, and the refugees, in the circumstances, had to be accommodated without cover in yards and open spaces, in the neighbourhood of the Monastery of Etchmiadzin.

Daily telegrams from Etchmiadzin to the Principal Relief Committee at Tiflis depicted a truly painful situation, and reported that from 350 to 400 deaths were daily taking place, owing to the destitute and starving conditions that prevailed amongst the refugees.

At this time relief work was in the hands partly of the “Chief Caucasian Committee for Succouring Victims of the War,” and partly in those of the Red Cross Society. Shortly after, several other public bodies joined in relief work.

The combined efforts of these various organisations had little effect in improving the situation. The funds at their respective disposals were small, and quite out of proportion to the enormous numbers of the refugees, whose ranks kept on swelling, especially after the heavy fighting that took place last summer on the Caucasian front.

Meanwhile the insanitary condition of the refugees, in view of the very hot weather, was daily becoming more and more appalling. Dysentery, spotted fever, typhoid, measles, diphtheria, and subsequently cholera, all of which were assuming epidemic form, were thinning the numbers of the refugees at a very rapid rate; and yet, despite this alarming situation, the funds necessary to cope successfully with the deplorable conditions were not forthcoming.

Finally, the Caucasian Section of the All Russia Urban Union, after a hurried investigation of matters, prepared a rough estimate of the money needed for the immediate relief of the refugees, and a grant of Rs. 1,103,250 (£110,325 about) was asked for by the 209Section from its Principal Organisation. This money was shortly afterwards remitted to the Caucasus, and the urgent needs of the hordes of refugees were then and there met. The temporary measures of relief adopted gave the Caucasian organisations a short time to think matters over, and to decide on further action in connection with relief work.

Accordingly, steps were taken to bring the pressing needs of the refugees before the public, and, in response to appeals made throughout the Caucasus, in Russia and abroad, moneys were collected privately; the Russian Government contributed important sums, and latterly funds have been flowing in from the United Kingdom and America. With these moneys relief work is being extended on a wider scale, and the requirements of the refugees are being more closely attended to; but the needs of the fugitives are still very great, and more and more moneys are required.

The necessity for substantial additional sums is, to a great extent, due to a new series of tasks the Urban Union has taken upon itself to carry out, together with the heavy responsibilities it has had to accept in connection with refugee relief work outside the confines of the Caucasus.

A comparatively large number of refugees have latterly been returning to their homes, and the Djoulfa-Van and Igdir-Van roads have had to be placed under the immediate supervision of the Caucasian Section of the Urban Union. A number of kitchen and housing stations have had to be opened at various points on these two routes, which the Union will have to maintain at its own expense for a considerable period, in view of the increasing tendency among the refugees to return home, in reliance upon the restoration of security in their own country.

The organisation of the kitchen and housing stations in the Djoulfa-Van direction is reported to be proceeding apace under the guidance of the Representative of the Caucasian Committee of the Urban Union, and the work is being carried out in complete harmony with, and according to the directions and indications of, the military authorities.

The Urban Union has also undertaken to equip and open a hospital for 200 beds for refugees at Van, which it will also maintain at its own expense.

The duties of the Urban Union do not end here, for it has been called upon by the Viceregal authority to perform many other functions connected with refugee relief work; the difficulties they present have to be faced with as much energy and resource as all the other duties taken over by this body.

The following is a list of the medical and kitchen stations which have been opened by the Union and are at present serving the needs of the refugees in the areas mentioned above:—

210I.
Hospitals.
1. At points at which the refugees originally settled.

(a) At Etchmiadzin.—A hospital consisting of several buildings belonging to the Monastery and to its Academy, which have been temporarily adapted to accommodate 570 beds for patients of both sexes and for children.

A cholera ward, No. 5, in which, owing to the disappearance of the disease, no cases are at present under treatment. The vacant beds of this ward (70) are now being used for cases of spotted fever.

A flying medical column (consisting of a medical officer, his assistant and several competent attendants) has been provisionally formed to attend to those sick refugees who are within the limits of Monastery territory.

Three miles distant from the Monastery, on the road to the railway station of Etchmiadzin, a medical quarantine station has been established. At this point healthy refugees are subjected to a quarantine of four to five days, before they are allowed to proceed to the station for the purpose of entraining en route to the Government of Elizavetpol. On their journey, the refugees are accompanied by a medical officer and two professional assistants.

(b) At Igdir.—A hospital, in temporarily occupied buildings, accommodating 100 beds; and, three and a half miles from this point, at a village named Plour, a hospital for 50 beds.

(c) At Erivan.—A hospital, in private houses provisionally rented, which provides 200 beds. A quarantine station of a temporary type has also been opened in connection with this hospital. Two assistant medical officers are placed in charge of the latter establishment, and they accompany refugees by rail to their places of settlement in the Government of Elizavetpol.

(d) At Alexandropol.—A hospital, in premises rented temporarily, accommodating 200 beds to which an isolation section has been added.

Within the limits of the district of Elizavetpol several stations have been established with assistant medical officers in charge.

2. Along the refugees’ line of advance.

(a) Nijni-Akhti.—A hospital for 50 beds.

Assistant medical officers’ stations at Elenovka and Tchibouhli.

(b) Delijan.—A hospital for 50 beds.

3. In places where refugees have more or less settled.

(a) Novo-Bayazid (Erivan).—A hospital for 50 beds.

(b) Annenfeld.—A hospital for 80 beds.

(c) Kedabek.—A hospital for 50 beds.

211The total number of beds provided—including the 70 belonging to the cholera ward at Etchmiadzin—is 1,450.

Note: Funds furnished by the Urban Union are at present being employed for adapting a building—ceded to the Military by the Katholikos—to the needs of the refugees.

II.
Kitchen Stations.
1. On the railway lines used by refugees.

At the quarantine station near Etchmiadzin and at the stations of Aghtalia and Annenfeld.

2. On the metalled roads (chaussées) used by refugees.

At Parakar, Erivan, Novo-Nikolaievka, Ailar, Suhoi Fontan, Nijni-Akhti, Elenovka, Tchibouhli, Delijan, Tarsa-Tchai, Karavan-sarai and Uzuntal.

Bread and hot food are served out to the refugees at these stations. The refugees are quartered during their stay at these points in sheds rented for the purpose which are properly roofed.

A separate kitchen station has been opened at Djoulfa out of funds—Rs. 10,000 (£1,000)—placed by the Urban Union at the disposal of Bishop Nerses, for the use of Nestorian refugees.

III.

With a view to improving the insanitary conditions obtaining in the refugee settlements, and also the hygiene of the refugees:

1. Three disinfecting stations have been opened.

The first of these is now operating at Etchmiadzin. The station undertakes to disinfect cemeteries, refuse-dumping grounds, hospitals (in the event of infectious disease), and premises of every other type, and to operate the disinfecting camera.

The officials of the station perform their duties under the guidance of a sanitary medical officer.

The second station is at Igdir, and the third at Erivan.

The duties of the latter two stations are identical with those of the first-named station, and each is worked by a similar personnel.

2. Detachment for erecting buildings.

This detachment has to attend to the building of bath and wash (laundry) houses of a provisional type in the refugee settlements. It consists of a chief, two assistants, an instructor, two stove-building masons (petchniks), two fitters, a tin smith, and two rough carpenters.

The detachment has erected a bath-house (Turkish) and laundry at Annenfeld, a similar bath-house at Tchibouhli, and a Turkish bath and laundry at Kedabek.

212New work of the same description is in immediate prospect for the detachment at Delijan, Elenovka, Nijni-Akhti, Igdir, Etchmiadzin and its neighbourhood, and at Alexandropol. The detachment has also been ordered to take in hand work connected with the erection of a series of steam-formaline disinfecting cameras. A camera of this type is in course of construction at Erivan.

3. Under-garments and warm clothing have been served out in various places to the refugees. Wearing apparel, as stated above, was purchased at a cost of Rs. 66,000 (£6,600), out of moneys contributed by a number of organisations and individuals; and warm clothing costing Rs. 11,996 (£1,200), assigned by the Principal Committee of the Urban Union, has also recently been distributed to the refugees.

Apart from the more or less completed organisation of relief work described above, necessity has compelled the Urban Union to take over relief work in Persian territory, and a hospital for 110 beds is under equipment at Salmas.

Further duties connected with the relief of the refugees will shortly be taken over by the Urban Union, when it is proposed to open small hospitals and dispensaries in all refugee settlements.

It is estimated that between 11,000 and 12,000 refugees have returned to the valley of Alashkerd and to the Vilayet of Van, and that from 2,000 to 3,000 refugees belonging to the middle classes have settled in the Governments of Tiflis and Bakou.

The cost to the Union of feeding the refugees is estimated at between 18 and 19 copecks (4d.) per head per day.

The following are the rations issued to the refugees:—

Bread, 108 lbs. Rs. 7·20 } Rs. 18·08 per 100 refugees per diem, or 18·08 copecks per head.
Meat, 20 lbs. 3·00
Rice, 10 lbs. 1·20
Potatoes, onions, salt, pepper 0·60
Fuel (wood, peat or coal) 1·70
Tea, ⅛ lb. 0·25
Sugar, 4½ lbs. 1·13
Rental for accommodation 1·00
Administrative expenses 2·00

The Government ration is 1½ lbs. per person per day, or an allowance in cash, in lieu of rations, at the rate of 15 copecks a day or Rs. 4·50 per month. The Government method of sending provisions to points of distribution is, however, very erratic. Owing to the lack of railway facilities and to delays in remitting moneys by the Principal Committee, the refugees dependent on relief from this source have frequently to go without their bread for days and at times for weeks.

The following is a list of other organisations engaged in relief work in this country:—

The Etchmiadzin Brotherhood, under the chairmanship of the Katholikos, maintains branches of its organisation at Igdir, Erivan, Alexandropol, Kars, Nahichevan, Novo-Bayazid, and Karakeliss. Relief work was undertaken by the Brotherhood in March, 1915. Since that date, apart from the large quantities of clothing, medicines and other comforts served out to the refugees, a medical detachment has been organised at Igdir, and, in all, the Brotherhood has spent Rs. 900,000 (£90,000) in relief work. This, in the main, has been obtained by voluntary contribution from persons of Armenian nationality all over the world, but especially in the Russian Empire (at Petrograd, Moscow, Kharkov, &c.). The Brotherhood serves out with punctual regularity flour rations, money allowances, and clothing to the refugees. It has all along maintained kitchens at Igdir, Etchmiadzin, and Alexandropol, as well as hospitals in various places; has organised a proper system of medical aid; and has opened refugee orphanages, schools and workshops for the children. In short, the organisation is thorough, and this is one of the most important relief societies engaged in work in the Armenian refugee pale.

The Tiflis Armenian Central Committee has also been carrying out relief work for nearly ten months. This body maintains its own hospitals and kitchens, and hitherto has expended Rs. 200,000 (£20,000) in connection with the relief of Armenian refugees settled in the Government of Erivan. The necessary funds are raised by voluntary contributions collected from members belonging to Armenian society in the Caucasus.

The Moscow Armenian Committee of the Red Cross.—The relief work of this organisation is confined to the Government of Erivan. The Committee commenced operations in April last, when four medical and kitchen stations (viz. at Etchmiadzin and at the villages of Markar, Ashtarak, and Arzap) were opened. A staff consisting of a medical officer, two assistants, and several competent attendants and nurses, besides several sanitary officers and other employees, is appointed to each of these stations. The organisation affords relief when and as urgent occasion requires. This Committee has spent Rs. 300,000 (£30,000), all of which has been contributed by the Armenian colony at Moscow. An orphanage is maintained by the Committee at Ashtar, together with a school and workshop. The organisation likewise keeps a flour store and stocks of other provisions at the last-mentioned place. Refugees are fed by the Society at Markar and at eight other villages situate in the valley of Alashkerd. The above remarks apply only to the more important duties that devolve on the Committee, but it also attends to the 214needs of the refugees in many other ways. A hospital at Arzap is also maintained by the Committee.

In August, 1915, The All Russia Red Cross Society entered the field of refugee work by opening a medical observation point at Igdir. The staff here consists of a superintendent, a medical officer, two assistants, and 19 sanitary officers. In September last, alone, this body served out 18,598 dinners and 16,775 portions of tea, and rendered medical aid to 4,652 refugees. In October, 1915, the Red Cross Society daily fed from 850 to 900 refugees in the district of Igdir. The stations of this Society are well organised, the staffs strictly disciplined, and their work is effected with neatness and punctuality. The Society maintains a dispensary and victualling store at Igdir. The estimated cost of the dinners and tea served out to the refugees by the Society is between 17 and 18 copecks (3d.) a day per head.

The Village Communes.—The peasants of each of the villages in which refugees have been settled have undertaken to accommodate them, gratuitously, in their houses. In these the refugees find warm shelter, and are not infrequently fed as well out of the slender resources at the disposal of their hosts. Whilst seemingly unimportant, the relief extended to the refugees by the peasantry is of the greatest value. An accurate idea of this benevolence can only be formed when all the good deeds of the peasantry are taken into consideration. Undoubtedly, this aid relieves the contributory public from responsibilities amounting to several hundreds of thousands of roubles. In other words, the charitable disposition of the by no means affluent peasant effects an enormous saving of money, which under other conditions would have to be provided by the various organisations.

On the recommendation of Prince A.M. Argoudinsky-Dolgoroukov, who has recently been on a tour of inspection through the refugee districts, it has been decided to improve the work of relief by adopting the following measures:—

1. That the present accommodation at the hospital at Annenfeld be increased by an additional 30 beds. That the bath-houses in course of construction at Barsoun and Kedabek be forthwith completed, and a bath-house built at Tchardahli.

2. That a medical officer, two assistant doctors and two nurses, as well as another assistant medical officer and three nurses for the 30 additional beds, be immediately appointed to the hospital at Annenfeld. That all equipment required for the additional 30 beds at this hospital, and the necessary undergarments and clothing for outgoing patients, be at once supplied.

3. That should a further evacuation of refugees from Erivan to the Government of Elizavetpol be ordered by the authorities, additional warm and roofed-in buildings should be rented at Annenfeld and Evlakh, and be furnished with some comfort for the refugees, even if only of a very primitive nature.

2154. That kitchens for refugees on the move be opened at Annenfeld, Evlakh, and Elizavetpol.

5. That small hospitals be opened at the village of Tchaikent in the district of Elizavetpol, and one each in the districts of Djevanshir and Shousha.

6. That movable sanitary detachments and kitchens be organised in the refugees’ districts of settlement.

7. That permanent dispensing stations be established in the colony of Annenfeld and at the railway station of Evlakh.

8. That the question of the restrictions in force at Elizavetpol and on the road leading through Annenfeld regarding the passage of refugees, be at once brought before the notice of the competent authorities.

9. That the cash allowance to refugees in the Government of Elizavetpol be brought up to 15 copecks per day per head.

10. That the authorities whom it may concern be requested, when settling refugees on new lands, to take into consideration the previous conditions of life of such refugees, and allot to those coming from highland districts identical localities in this country, and vice versa in regard to refugees who have been inhabitants of lowland districts. Further, that in defining the number of refugees to be temporarily domiciled in villages, the degree of prosperity or poverty of the villages be taken into consideration.

11. That warm clothing, blankets, bast-shoe leather, iron stoves, kerosene and (if possible) tea, sugar and soap, if only in small quantities, be immediately served out to the refugees.

12. That the question of the supply of fuel to the refugees be brought to the notice of the forestry authorities of the Caucasus.

13. That the question of the supply of flour to the refugees through the Central Organ, and of the accumulation of stocks of the same commodity in villages or groups of villages for the winter, be forthwith decided.

14. That local administrative offices be requested to give the Committee timely notice of the dates and hours of dispatch of trains conveying refugees.

15. That the Caucasian Principal Committee be requested to entrust the Urban Union with the task of feeding refugees on the spot. Should this prove impossible, to ask that steps be taken to introduce modifications in the present system of distributing food.

16. That a representative of the Committee be appointed to each of the localities where refugees have been settled, in order that these representatives may communicate to the Committee when there is urgent need of relief in any given locality.


216

51. REFUGEES IN THE CAUCASUS: LETTER DATED ERIVAN, 29th DECEMBER, 1915, FROM REV. S.G. WILSON TO DR. SAMUEL T. DUTTON, SECRETARY OF THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

We have just returned from a tour of some of the Armenian villages where refugees are living, and are ready to report on their condition from personal observation. In this district or Governorship of Erivan there are 105,000 Armenian refugees, besides Nestorians and Yezidis. Of these, 18,000 are in the town of Erivan; of these, again, many are scattered in the homes of the people and others gathered in large buildings, orphanages, etc. We visited the barracks where 420 were living. Room after room was full—in some rooms 40, in some half the number. The lucky ones were those that had a plank platform or board floor on which to sleep and sit. Many of them were in the kitchens and store-rooms on the bare ground. Most of them had insufficient bedding, and many of them scarcely any. Some were lying four under one coverlet, head to feet. One man told us how he sat and shivered in the night till his teeth chattered. Another man stayed in bed during the daytime because he had no clothes. One room contained, among others, two Protestant families from Van; the fathers had both died lately of disease, the mother of one group was lying sick. Seven or eight was the number of each household, lying in rags on hay and with scarcely enough cover for two people. The atmosphere of the rooms was foul in the extreme. These people were from the city of Van and had lived comfortably.

The condition in the villages is even worse. At Somaghar, 15 miles from here, we were taken about by the elder of the Protestant Church. Sad indeed were the sights that we saw. Some, too, were comforting in a measure. This good man had taken into his household, already of sufficient size, two women refugees, who were clothed cleanly and neatly and fed as his own. Many of the Armenian villagers have taken in and cared for the destitute refugees. Others have given them the use of their spare rooms, bake-houses, stables and barns. Fortunate are those who are in the bake-houses, for the heat in bread baking is a free gift to them, albeit mixed with smoke. Fortunate, too, those who have stables, for they have steam-heat from the oxen and buffaloes; for those in the other store-rooms and out-houses have no stoves or fires. These uplands of Armenia have a severe winter. The ground is now covered with snow. Ararat, with its two grand peaks, is always in sight, and but a few miles away. Cold winds from the Caucasus range blow over the plain. The sight of these multitudes with neither clothing for day nor bedding for night is a great draft on our sympathies, and this is intensified by their pitiful stories. We entered one bake-house. One young man appeared among 15 women and children. They had been a prosperous patriarchal family of 36 persons—father, three 217sons and their wives and children. Of these, 21 were killed, including all the men except this young fellow, who threw himself into the arms of a Kurd and was saved in some freak of mercy. This was a Protestant family from a village called Perkhous. We saw families of 13 and 16—mothers, daughters, brides and children—with no man among them. We asked: “Where are your men?”—“They were all killed;” or, “Out of 70 men but one escaped;” or, “We were 100 men in the village, but only 20 escaped;” or, “There were 450 households in our village, but 20 or 30 men alone escaped.”—“Were the women taken away?”—“Yes, our pretty girls were carried off.”—“How many?”—“Four out of nine; we too were stripped naked.” As to the rest of their sufferings and outrage, they were silent.

We addressed the one surviving man and asked: “How are you here?” He replied: “I was off as a soldier in the Turkish army. I heard of the massacres, and by bye-ways through the mountains I returned to find our village destroyed. I escaped to Russia and found them here.” Another woman, from Ardjish, near Van, said: “All our men were collected from the bazaars and taken before the Government. After dark, we heard the shots which killed them. We fled in the night.”

In the village of Kourpalou, with 300 houses, there are 900 refugees. Of these, 300 are from the first exodus of January to April, 1915, and 600 from the second in July and August. The first were able to bring with them some of their property; many of the men came safely. The second was the terrible flight after the massacres; of these, 40,000 are said to have died of disease after reaching Russian territory. The condition of the later refugees is most heart-rending. Let me give a few glances at conditions in Kourpalou. A woman surrounded by seven or eight persons, with scarcely beds for all, and rags as their clothes, said: “I escaped by throwing myself in the mud, a dead child lying over my head. There were 50 in our household. Nine women and boys were taken captive by the Kurds.” In a stable the oxen and buffaloes were crowding up close; at their side a flock of sheep was huddled; the air was stifling. Three families of 18 persons were crowded at one end, in a space so small that it seemed impossible for them to lie down. Some had improvised a couch in the manger. A hammock for a baby was stretched above on two posts. Of these 18, a blind youth was the only man. In the bake-house were 27 persons, one youth, one very old man. Six men of their household had been taken as soldiers, the rest were massacred. Of the 600 refugees of the second exodus who are in this village, about 30 are men. Some are escaped soldiers who were in the army when the atrocities occurred. One had dragged himself out from under a mass of dead bodies.

Nor did all the women escape death. Women were wantonly slain; those with child ripped up with swords; the breasts of 218others cut off. Some threw themselves and their children into the streams and over the precipices to escape outrage. One woman lately arrived who was captured some years ago by a Kurd. She had escaped now. after killing the Kurd, and brought her two children with her.

Mouandjik.—Also many refugees. As in all other places, great lack of clothing and especially of bedding. Twenty-two persons in one room, two of them men. Mostly sleeping on the ground, with bedding enough for one-fifth of their number. In another room 10 persons, no men, 15 of this connection killed, girls carried away, one boy saved by hiding under skirt of mother; clothes in tatters, bedding lacking.

Veri Ailaulou.—This village of 70 houses is sheltering 370 refugees, in wretched condition. Three families of 22 persons are in one bake-house, one side of which is filled with dried manure. Their village in Turkey had 70 men, one escaped alive; 4 girls and 3 brides carried off. Another hut contains 4 women and some children, the remnant of a family of 24. All the men of their village were killed. They are living in a wretched condition. Bread and water have been the chief food of these refugees for months past.

We are doing what we can to relieve this distress, supplementing the work of local and Government committees. Ready-made clothing in any large quantity is not to be found, nor blankets. Comforters we have purchased in small quantities. We are organising some sewing circles and will contract for clothing in Tiflis, where we succeeded in buying about 7,000 garments. They are hard to find, and transport is difficult when they are ready, as the army has the first right to the trucks.

I have not time to tell you of our reception by the Grand Duke Nicolas and his good wishes for the success and progress of our relief work, nor of our visit to the Katholikos at Etchmiadzin and his warm thanks for the sympathy and help of the American people for his people in their distress. We were entertained by him over-night. Governors, Bishops and Press have all bidden us God-speed.

Warm clothing and bedding will save many from sickness and death. The pitiable condition of these wretched people should appeal strongly to our American people in their comfortable homes and in the enjoyment of ten thousand blessings.

After organising relief committees here in several places, one or both of us will return to Tiflis for supplies of clothing and bedding.

219

52. REPATRIATION OF REFUGEES: LETTER, DATED ERIVAN (?), MARCH, 1916, FROM THE REV. S.G. WILSON; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

Events have moved rapidly since I sent my appeal of the 18th February. In the intervening month the Russian army has made splendid progress and driven the Turks back many miles beyond Erzeroum and Van. The capture of Bitlis, Moush and Mamahatoun (Derdjan) has given assurance to the Government, to the Armenians and to us all. The return of the refugees to the Van province has been officially authorized. Men are hastening back even while the snow is on the ground. The 12,000 already there will soon be 20,000 and 30,000. Reports say: “Men are going in large numbers.”—“Every day caravans of those returning to the fatherland enter,” via Igdir. Most of these have returned from the Erivan province to Van. Others, of whom 500 are women, have settled in Alashkerd. Fifty-three hundred have gone back from Russian Passin to the Turkish province of the same name. The Governor of Kars reports that from Olti and that region refugees are returning to the districts of Erzeroum, and that many of them are women and children. In Bashkala there are nearly 3,000 refugees, said to be in great wretchedness and in need of daily sustenance.

Besides these, numbers are coming forth from their places of concealment, or from the houses of certain friendly Kurds, or from their captivity in Moslem harems. These are indeed but hundreds compared with the thousands who have been massacred or driven into the wildernesses. But it is a gratification to hear that from Sassoun 160 men came forth; that in Khnyss there have appeared more than a thousand new refugees; that in Riza on the Black Sea more than 200 Armenian children were discovered after the taking of the town by the Russians; that in Bitlis men, women and children have come forth in large numbers (2,800); that in Moush nearly 3,000 souls have been freed. Erzeroum seems to have been dealt with most savagely. Less than 200 Armenians out of 20,000 in the city itself escaped death or deportation, that is, exile. Of these, thirty were saved in the house of Mr. Stapleton. The Armenians report that when the Moslems came and demanded that these girls should be delivered over to them, Mr. Stapleton replied: “You must kill me before you can touch them.” Recent reports say that in the villages round Erzeroum Armenian women and children are appearing, singly and in groups, and are in the greatest need. Whose heart is not moved with pity for and desire to preserve these remnants who have escaped from the greatest destruction! Our opportunity is a wonderful one—to save the remnant, to aid in the restoration, to prepare for the return of the 200,000 fugitives now in Persia and the Caucasus.

220Our call to help is both general and specific. A specific and unusual call has reached us from the Russian Governor of Van, Mr. Alfred Teremin.

Now we have telegraphed to the Governor that we are coming, as we telegraph to the American Committee of our entrance upon the new work. Fortunately we have a considerable balance on hand, and we are going in the faith that America will support us generously. Large funds will be necessary, to put roofs over the heads of the people, to supply seed-corn, ploughs, oxen, carts, etc.; to set at work carpenters, blacksmiths and other artisans; to help the most needy till harvest time. We shall buy the necessary things here or in Persia or from the Kurds, and will do our part in assisting the returning exiles to cultivate their fields, so that harvest may be abundant. Fortunately the time of spring sowing in the highlands of Armenia does not close till June, so we have yet time. A letter from Van says: “The important thing is that material help should be received quickly. If delayed, it will lose half its value. It is necessary to hasten. Every day is precious.”

221

VI.
VILAYET OF ERZEROUM.

The Vilayet of Erzeroum lies due north of Bitlis and Van, and is likewise a border province. It consists principally of the upper valleys of the Kara-Su (Western Euphrates) and the Tchorok. The fortress-city of Erzeroum itself is situated in a plain which collects the head-waters of the former river; Erzindjan, a place of almost equal importance, lies further west, about 120 miles down stream; while Baibourt, in the Tchorok valley, is the most important place on the high road from Erzeroum to Trebizond. The districts north of the Kara-Su are as civilised as the rest of Anatolia; but south of the river, in the great peninsula enclosed by the two arms of the Euphrates, lies the mountain-mass of Dersim, inhabited by wild, independent tribes of Kizil-Bashis and Kurds, who played an active part in the destruction of their Armenian neighbours.

In the Vilayet of Erzeroum the deportations began at the end of May and during the first days of June. Reports from a particularly trustworthy source state that, by the 19th May, more than 15,000 Armenians had been deported from Erzeroum and the neighbouring villages, and that, by the 25th May, the districts of Erzindjan, Keghi and Baibourt had also been “devastated by forced emigration.” Our information concerning Erzeroum itself was at first somewhat scanty, but since its capture by the Russians it has been visited by representatives of various relief organisations in the Caucasus, who have obtained circumstantial accounts of what happened in the city and the surrounding villages. They report that, out of an Armenian population estimated at 400,000[65] souls for the Vilayets of Erzeroum and Bitlis, not more than 8,000-10,000 have survived,—in other words, that 98 per cent. of the Armenians in these vilayets have been either deported or massacred.

We are also particularly well informed with regard to Baibourt and Erzindjan, and the documents in this section may be noted as a clear case in which independent testimonies exactly bear one another out.


65. The author of Doc. 57 estimates them at 300,000 only; but consult Annexe D. to the “Historical Summary.”

222

53. ERZEROUM: RECORD[66] OF AN INTERVIEW BETWEEN THE REV. H.J. BUXTON AND THE REV. ROBERT STAPLETON, A MISSIONARY OF THE AMERICAN BOARD, RESIDENT AT ERZEROUM FROM BEFORE THE OUTBREAK OF WAR UNTIL AFTER THE CAPTURE OF THE CITY BY THE RUSSIANS.[67]

Up to 1914 the population of Erzeroum was between 60,000 and 70,000, of whom 20,000 were Armenians.

In 1914 Tahsin Bey was Vali of Erzeroum (whom Mr. H.J. Buxton had met, as Vali of Van, in 1913).

On the outbreak of war with Turkey (November, 1914) the British Consul, Mr. Monahan, received his passport; the Russian Consul was ejected; the French Consul was absent. All their servants and interpreters were Armenians; these were ejected likewise, and were sent to Kaisaria as prisoners. The three Armenian servants of the Russian Military Attaché were hanged. The wife of one of these was sitting up, knitting socks and putting things together for her husband’s departure, when news came to her, early in the morning, that he was hanging on the scaffold.

In the spring of 1915 Passelt Pasha was Military Commandant of Erzeroum, and he suggested that all Armenian soldiers should be disarmed, withdrawn from combatant service and put on road gangs (yol tabour). These were men who had been conscripted, and, owing to the friendly relations between Turks and Armenians in this district (for the past ten years), had joined readily.

Teachers in the schools were first of all put into hospitals to do the work of dressers and nurses among the wounded. They were men with a good education, and did their work with intelligence. Then came the order that they were to be put on to the road gang, and they were replaced by totally incompetent men, so the soldiers had very poor attention in the hospital.

All through this period, up to May, 1915, military service could be avoided by men of all races and parties upon payment of an exemption tax of £40 (Turkish).

Even Turks themselves obtained exemption on these terms, and for a period (of, say, twelve months) the terms were faithfully observed; but, of course, eventually the need for soldiers made the authorities come down even upon exempted persons. In any case, this exemption only applied to military duties, and afforded no shelter to Armenians in the final crisis.

Stapleton managed to get one Armenian exempted by the payment of this tax.

19th May, 1915.

There was a massacre in the country round Khnyss. As the Russians advanced from the east a large number of Kurds fled 223in front of them, bent on vengeance, and carried out a raid on the peasantry which was quite distinct from the organised massacres later on.

Some of Stapleton’s teachers, boy and girl students, were at Khnyss on holiday, and perished in this massacre.

6th June.

The inhabitants of the one hundred villages in the plain of Erzeroum were sent away by order of the Government at two hours’ notice. The number of these must have been between 10,000 and 15,000. Of this number very few returned, and very few reached Erzindjan. A few took refuge with friendly Kurds (Kizilbashis), but all the rest must have been killed.

They were escorted by gendarmes, but the people responsible for the massacres would probably be chettis or Hamidia.

One of the Kurds was charged in court for murder, pillage and rapine, and he thereupon produced a paper and laid it before them, saying: “These are my orders for doing it.”

It is not certain who gave these orders, but the presumption is that they originated with the Government at Constantinople.

About this time definite orders arrived, by which Tahsin Bey was instructed that all Armenians should be killed. Tahsin refused to carry this out, and, indeed, all through this time he was reluctant to maltreat the Armenians, but was overruled by force majeure.

On the 9th June

he issued an order that the whole civic population were to leave Erzeroum, and many Turks and Greeks actually did leave (the latter being hustled out).

The German Consul was now aware of what was coming, and wired protests to his Ambassador; but he was told to remain quiet, as the Germans could not interfere with the internal affairs of Turkey.

This is what he said to Stapleton, and his goodwill is borne out by his evident intention to help the Armenians. It is an established fact that, in the days following, he used to send bread tied up in large sacks to the refugees outside the city, conveying these large supplies in motor cars.

16th June.

The first company of Armenian deportees left Erzeroum on the 16th June, having got leave to go to Diyarbekir by Kighi. These were forty families in all, mostly belonging to the prosperous business community.

First of all, after starting, all their money was taken from them, “for safety.” After a short halt, when some alarm was expressed, they were reassured of the complete security of their journey, and shortly after resuming their journey (somewhere between Kighi and Palu) they were surrounded and a massacre 224took place. Only one man and forty women and children reached Harpout.

Evidence of this massacre comes from various sources: (1) letters to Stapleton from women survivors; (2) evidence of Americans who were living in Harpout at the time of the arrival of the survivors, and cared for them; (3) evidence of a Greek, who passed the scene of the massacre shortly after it took place and described it as sickening.

19th June.

About five hundred Armenian families left Erzeroum, via Baibourt, for Erzindjan; they were allowed time for preparations—a concession granted throughout the deportations from the town itself. At Baibourt there was a halt, and the first party of about 10,000 people was joined by later contingents, bringing the number up to about 15,000. A guard of gendarmes (up to 400) was provided by the Vali, and these doubtless took their toll of the Armenians in various ways, licentiously and avariciously.

The Vali went to Erzindjan to see after their security, and it is known that about 15,000 reached Erzindjan. Up to this point the roads were good enough to allow transport by bullock carts (arabas), but after Erzindjan, instead of being allowed to follow the carriage road via Sivas, they were turned aside to the route via Kamakh, Egin and Arabkir, where there were only footpaths. The arabas had, therefore, to be left behind, and no less than 3,000 vehicles were brought back to Erzeroum by an Armenian in the transport service, whom Stapleton met on his return.

At Kamakh, twelve hours from Erzindjan, it is reported that the men were separated and killed, their bodies being thrown into the river. Beyond this place letters come from women only, though Stapleton’s account leads us to suppose that, from among thirty families of which he has news, ten men survive. Letters from women to Stapleton do not, of course, give details of what occurred; they only indicate what happened by such phrases as: “My husband and boy died on the road.” The destinations reached by these Armenians, as definitely known to Stapleton in January, 1916, were Mosul, on the east; Rakka, on the south; Aleppo and Aintab, on the west. The need in these places has been urgent. German Consuls in Aleppo and Mosul are known to have assisted in distributing relief funds sent by Stapleton, per the Agricultural Bank at Constantinople, to Mesopotamia—in all about £1,000 (Turkish).

Stapleton had previously been able to distribute a sum of about £700 (Turkish), received from America, to poor Armenians before their departure. This he did in co-operation with the Armenian Bishop.

November, 1915.

Certain Roman Catholic “lay brothers and sisters” (Armenians), claiming to be under Austrian protection, were permitted 225to remain until November, 1915, when they left Erzeroum in arabas. They were known to have reached Erzindjan, and probably Constantinople, in safety, where they were housed in the Austrian schools[68].

From twelve to twenty families of artisans were left to the last, as they were doing useful work for the Government. Also fifty single masons, who were building a club-house for the Turks, being compelled to use gravestones from the Armenians’ cemetery.

February, 1916.

These masons were sent to Erzindjan, where they were imprisoned for some days and then brought out and ordered to be shot. Four, however, escaped by shamming death, and one of them saw Stapleton on the 16th February and gave an account of what had happened.

The fate of the artisans is thought to have been similar, but we have no details, except that three families were able to return.

One of those to leave the town in the early days was a photographer. He would not wait. Ten hours out from Erzeroum he was surrounded by forty chettis, stripped naked and stoned to death. They mutilated his body. One child was brained. Of the other children, a girl was taken away and only escaped many months later when the Russians came. Very reluctantly she poured out her story to the Stapletons, from which it appeared that she had been handed round to ten officers after the murder of her husband and his mother, to be their sport.

Thirty-five families of Greeks remained in Erzeroum until near the end. They were then hustled out when the Russian approach was imminent, the Turks virtually saying to them: “We are suffering. Why should not you?”

These deportations went on in an almost continuous stream from the 16th June to the 28th July, when the Armenian Bishop left. He is supposed to have been put to death near Erzindjan.

The part which Stapleton took during these events may now be described. In addition to what we have already said about his relief work, he and Mrs. Stapleton sheltered eighteen Armenian girls. It was by the permission of the Vali that these were allowed to stay with him, and on only one occasion was his house actually threatened. This was just on the eve of the Russian arrival, when he was warned by the German Consul that a plot had been made to burn down his house and, in the subsequent rush of panic, to seize the girls. Nothing could have stopped this but the Russian entry, which took place on the very day for which it was planned. This plot, however, was an isolated act, and, on the whole, Stapleton speaks highly of the general conduct of the Turks in Erzeroum itself.

226The Last Days.

On Sunday, the 13th February, the German Consul left. On Monday, the 14th February, the Persian Consul was forced to go with the Turks to Erzindjan. They maintained that, as he was a representative accredited to the Government, he must go with them when the Government moved its headquarters. He went reluctantly, as he was anxious to look after his fellow-countrymen.

On Monday evening (the 14th February) Stapleton was sent for by the Vali, and he went, expecting to be told to leave the town. The Vali said that he and the Turks were leaving on the morrow, but that Stapleton might remain.

Tahsin Bey requested him to ask the Russian Commander to spare the population of the city, as, in general, they had had nothing to do with the deportations.

And that is a fact.

On the 15th, Stapleton was asked by a deputation of all ranks of Turks in the town to go out (three hours’ distance) and meet the Russian Commander. He refused to go, but he delivered Tahsin’s message the following day, when the Russians entered the city.

On the 15th, Turkish troops fired the Armenian episcopal residence and the market. They also burned schools and arsenals, and looted in the city.

Wednesday, the 16th February.

The first Russian to appear was a Cossack with a white apron. He was accompanied by Russian and Armenian soldiers, who shouted: “We are Armenians. Are there any here?” Then the Cossack came into Stapleton’s house, and wrote his name in the book as “the first Russian to enter Erzeroum.” The house was soon filled, and Stapleton lent eight beds to Russian officers, and also supplied food.

When the Grand Duke came, a few days later (the 20th), the Russians asked for another bed; but this was refused.

Mr. H.J. Buxton asked Stapleton: “Was there a good deal of looting by the Russians?” Stapleton said: “No, I should not say a good deal of looting. They were very hungry, and the stores were all open; but, for an invading army, they were quite mild. For the first twenty-four hours they were very short of food.”

Armenian Volunteers began to search the city for Armenians, and they did not find very many. Four girls were held by Turks, and these, together with the eighteen with Stapleton, made the full quota of twenty-two Armenians in the town.

The appointment by the Russians of an “Old Turk” (a former agent of Abd-ul-Hamid at Bukarest, who had subsequently been banished by the Young Turks to Erzeroum) is now giving considerable satisfaction to the Moslem population.

227In August, 1915, the Turkish Government appointed and despatched a Commission from Constantinople, ostensibly to protect the property of the deported Armenians. During August this Commission took possession of, and sold, this property, including valuables left with Dr. Case (Stapleton’s colleague at that period). Stapleton asked the police for their authority, and was turned off his own premises by a high-handed secretary. However, he wired to his Government, and got the official removed, and from that time he was treated with respect and was able to exert considerable influence with the Vali; in fact, he remonstrated with him on the brutal treatment of the women at the hands of the zaptiehs and Kurds on the road from Erzeroum.

Stapleton is not a Consul, but a Missionary. To the foreigner a “Missionary” always means a Government representative; and as Stapleton was the only American in Erzeroum, he was, de facto, Consul. In many ways he was able to do far more than if he had been officially a Consul, knowing the ways of the country and exactly how far he could go, but yet free from official fetters.


66. Undated.

67. Mr. Stapleton’s total period of service at Erzeroum is thirteen years. For a letter from Mr. Stapleton himself, see Doc. 149, page 589.—Editor.

68. See Doc. 62

228

54. ERZEROUM: REPORT, DATED 25th SEPTEMBER, 1915, DRAWN UP BY THE AMERICAN CONSUL-GENERAL AT TREBIZOND, AFTER HIS RETURN FROM A VISIT TO ERZEROUM; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

I left Trebizond on the 12th August on horseback, accompanied by kavass Ahmed and a katerdji with my travelling outfit, also two mounted gendarmes furnished by the Governor-General. I reached Erzeroum about midnight on the 17th August, and was allowed to enter the city gate only after communicating with the Commandant.

I found the two American families well. The Rev. Robert S. Stapleton, who is the director of the American Schools and Treasurer of the Mission Station, is living with his wife and two daughters in the upper storey of the Boys’ School building. The lower part is used as a Red Crescent Hospital for lightly wounded or convalescing soldiers, accommodating on an average about 75 patients. Dr. Case and wife and two small children were living in the upper part of the Hospital building, the lower part being used as a Red Crescent Hospital for about 30 patients. The Girls’ School building, with the exception of two rooms belonging to the teachers, which are locked up, is also used by the Red Crescent for lightly wounded soldiers, accommodating on an average about 200. These three fine buildings are on the same street, about 100 yards apart. The Red Crescent flag flies over the three buildings, and on Fridays and holidays the Turkish flag is also raised over the Girls’ School building, which is entirely devoted to the Red Crescent work, with the exception of the two rooms mentioned above. Over the other two buildings, which are partly occupied by the Americans as residences, the American flag is hoisted, in addition to the Red Crescent flag, on Sundays and holidays, and there seems to be no difficulty raised by the authorities now in regard to the flag question.

I called upon the Governor-General, Tahsin Bey, accompanied by the Rev. Mr. Stapleton and Dr. Case, and the Bey received us very cordially. He informed me that he had just received a report from the military authorities that the Russians, upon evacuating Van, had destroyed every building in the city, including the American buildings, in order that the Turkish army should not find shelter for the winter, and had taken the Americans from Van with them on their retirement towards Russia. This information I telegraphed to the Embassy on the 18th August as follows:

“All American buildings reported destroyed by Russians upon their withdrawal from Van, and Americans now in Russia.”

He also informed me that all the Americans at Bitlis had gone to Diyarbekir.

The Vali said that, in carrying out the orders to expel the Armenians from Erzeroum, he had used his best endeavours to protect them on the road, and had given them fifteen days to 229dispose of their goods and make arrangements to leave. They were not prohibited from selling or disposing of their property, and some families went away with five or more ox-carts loaded with their household goods and provisions. The Missionaries confirm this.

Over 900 bales of goods of various kinds were deposited by 150 Armenians in Mr. Stapleton’s house for safe keeping. There are also about 500 bales in Dr. Case’s house and stable. The value of the bales is estimated by Mr. Stapleton at from £10,000 to £15,000 (Turkish). He has a good American combination safe belonging to the Mission in his house, and two safes of English make left by merchants, which he filled with paper and silver roubles and jewellery deposited by Armenians, for safe keeping. He gave no receipts and assumed no responsibility, however. The gold deposited by Armenians amounted to £5,559 (Turkish), and of this amount £5,000 (Turkish) was sent to Mr. Peet through the Imperial Ottoman Bank in Erzeroum by telegram. The roubles, however, the Bank refused to transfer, and so they were left in his safes in the shape received, namely, tied up in handkerchiefs or made up in small packages. Afterwards these packages were all opened, and an itemized list was made of the contents of each package. The paper roubles and jewellery were then packed into tin boxes and sealed with the Mission seal and deposited in the Imperial Ottoman Bank in Mr. Stapleton’s name for safe keeping....

Many policies of insurance in the New York Life Insurance Company were found in these packages, upon which a separate report will be made. There were also deeds to house and lands, promissory notes and other valuable papers, which no doubt have now lost much of their value.

The Gregorian Armenian Cathedral and the Catholic Armenian Church at Erzeroum were filled with goods of various kinds which had been entrusted to the Imperial Ottoman Bank by the Armenians before they were deported. These goods were entrusted to the Bank, and the keys are in the possession of the Bank....

The Vali of Erzeroum informed me that he had received instructions from Constantinople to allow the Protestants and Catholics to remain where they were for the present. One of Mr. Stapleton’s valuable teachers, Mr. Yeghishé, was taken some time ago for military service, and was working upon the roads near Erzeroum. Mr. Stapleton needed this man as an interpreter, since he himself knows very little Turkish. The Vali promised me he would give Mr. Yeghishé a vesika or permit to remain in the city, if his military exemption taxes were paid. I attended to this matter, and on my way to Trebizond found Mr. Yeghishé at Ilidja, three hours from Erzeroum, and delivered to him the vesika, which gave him freedom to return to Erzeroum and remain there.

I also asked for the return of another Protestant teacher who was thought to be in Erzindjan, but this the Vali declined to allow, 230saying that the order did not permit their return, but simply allowed them to remain where they were. In case they had already been sent away he could not recall them.

Mr. Stapleton has twenty Armenians in his house now; four of them are women and the balance girls. Dr. Case had six Armenians in his house when he left Erzeroum. Four of these went to Mr. Stapleton, and one he takes with him to Constantinople, and one he expects to leave at Marsovan for training in the Hospital. The Vali granted a special permit for these two girls to travel with Dr. Case, and also handed to him a letter of appreciation for the work he had done in his hospital for Turkish officers.

Mr. Stapleton’s relations with the Vali, Tahsin Bey, are good, and indeed the latter, who was Mutessarif of Pera a few years ago, impressed me as being a very reasonable man, who desired to do the right thing and entertain good relations with the Americans....

231

55. ERZEROUM: ABSTRACT OF A REPORT BY MR. B.H. KHOUNOUNTZ, REPRESENTATIVE OF THE “ALL-RUSSIAN URBAN UNION,” ON A VISIT TO ERZEROUM AFTER THE RUSSIAN OCCUPATION; PUBLISHED IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL “HORIZON,” OF TIFLIS, 25th FEBRUARY, 1916.

There are between 80 and 100 Armenians left in Erzeroum—according to other reports 130—and about 25,000 Turks, who dare not come out of their houses. The sanitary condition of the city is deplorable. Mr. Khounountz had interviews with a number of Armenian and foreign eye-witnesses. He met an Armenian officer who had escaped from the Turks, who told him of the deportation and massacre of the Armenians. He said that the attitude of the Turks towards the Armenians was more or less good at the beginning of the war, but it was suddenly changed after the Turkish defeat at Sari-Kamysh, as they laid the blame for this defeat upon the Armenians, though he could not tell why.

After that, they separated the Armenian soldiers from the Turks as a dangerous element, and removed them from the fighting line. They put them on the roads to work as ordinary labourers.

At the same time terror reigned in the city. Mr. Pasdermadjian, a well-known Armenian, was assassinated, and a number of prominent young men were hanged or exiled. A number of Armenians were forced to go to the cemetery and destroy the statue which was erected to the memory of martyred Russian soldiers in 1829. They were also forced to open hospitals for the wounded Turkish soldiers at their own expense.

On the 5/18th April, by an order received from Constantinople, the Turks held a big meeting in which the hodjas (religious heads) openly preached massacre, casting the responsibility for the defeat upon the Armenians. The Armenians appealed to them and implored for mercy, but in vain. The Vali was rather inclined to spare the Armenians, but the order from Constantinople had tied his hands.

The deportation of all the Armenians in the Vilayet of Erzeroum began on the 4th June. It was carried out promptly, and took the Armenians by surprise. Gendarmes were sent to the Armenian villages at night, who entered the houses, separated all the men from their families and deported them. The deportation of the men of Erzeroum—the city proper—was carried out less cruelly, the Vali giving them 15 days’ notice.

But as the refugees were escorted by brutal gendarmes and chettis (bands of robbers) many of them were massacred in a most cruel manner, and very few of them reached their destination, which was the district of Kamakh, west of Erzindjan.

232According to the officer, the plan of deportation was exactly the same as in other vilayets. None were spared, not even certain women teachers—Protestant and Roman Catholic—who were foreign subjects and had taught in foreign colleges.

Only 15 skilled labourers were left, with their families, as they were needed for war work. These were massacred before the Turks left Erzeroum.

233

56. ERZEROUM: ABSTRACT OF A REPORT BY DR. Y. MINASSIAN, WHO ACCOMPANIED MR. KHOUNOUNTZ TO ERZEROUM AS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE CAUCASIAN SECTION OF THE “ALL-RUSSIAN URBAN UNION”; PUBLISHED IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL “MSCHAK,” OF TIFLIS, 8th MARCH, 1916.

Dr. Minassian gathered his information from the following sources: The American Vice-Consul at Erzeroum, Mr. Stapleton; Mrs. Stapleton; Dr. Case of the American Mission Hospital; an educated Armenian lady—Zarouhi—from Baibourt, who escaped the massacres by a miracle; an Armenian soldier who had accepted Islam; an old man from Erzeroum; and many others.

Before Turkey’s entry into the war, the Young Turks saw that war between them and Russia was inevitable, so they tried to win the Armenians over to their side by promising them all kinds of privileges.

As soon as war was declared, they confiscated everything from the shops of the Turks, Greeks, Armenians and Syrians, without any distinction of race or religion. The Armenians lost more than the other nationalities, as they were the wealthiest commercially.

The Turks asked the Armenians to join with them, but they declined, saying that if they fought against the Russians they would endanger the lives of their brothers in Caucasia. This seemed reasonable to the authorities, and on the surface, at least, they left the Armenians in peace.

The Armenians performed their civic duties faithfully and opened a hospital for the Turkish wounded; later on they were forced to open others.

Everything went smoothly until the first Turkish defeat, which occurred at Keutag. It was then that the Turks found out that the Armenian volunteers were fighting side by side with the Russians. This was announced everywhere and excited the Turks; but no steps were taken until it was reported that Garo Pasdermadjian, a member of the Ottoman Parliament and one of the deputies for Erzeroum, was commanding a body of volunteers in the Russian army. The result was that Mr. Pasdermadjian’s brother was assassinated. Then Djemal Effendi from Constantinople, with another Turk, Saifoullah, incited the people to massacre the Armenians.

The Governor saw that the excitement was growing, so he called a conference of all the prominent Turks. This was held at Pasha-Kiosk, and Djemal and Saifoullah took part. These demanded an immediate massacre, but the Governor requested them to hold their hand until he could communicate with Constantinople about it.

234After this the authorities disarmed and removed all the Armenian soldiers from Erzeroum, and put them on the roads to work as unskilled labourers. A number of wealthy Armenians were forced to destroy the statue which was erected in memory of martyred Russian soldiers in 1828, and transfer its stones to another place to build a club-house for the Young Turks. Some could not stand the hard work, yet could only obtain release from it by paying large sums.

Then the rich Armenians were asked to vacate their homes and to transform them into hospitals. This was done willingly, and the Armenians undertook to care for the wounded.

Then an order came to some Armenians to leave their homes and go. But they begged to remain, and were allowed to do so on payment of £1,500 (Turkish).

A week later, all the rich and educated men were imprisoned; many of them died in prison under terrible tortures.

Then it was announced that they would all be deported. When the Governor was asked where they would be sent, he replied: “To a safe place, where the mob cannot hurt you.”

The Armenians packed all their valuables and left them at the American Consulate, the missionary schools, and at the Armenian Church.

To obviate any possibility of resistance, the villagers were first deported towards Kamakh, and when the Erzeroum Armenians followed them they saw heaps of ruins in place of prosperous villages.

The deportation of the Armenians of Baibourt was more terrible. They were all taken by surprise at midnight.

“Where are you taking us?” they asked. “To a safe place,” was the reply, “away from the Turks, where the mob cannot massacre you. It is the duty of the Government to protect its subjects. You will remain there until peace is re-established.”

The Armenians believed them and followed the gendarmes without resistance. After they had travelled several miles, they noticed that the attitude of the guards changed and that they had been deceived. By and by they were asked to pay fifty pounds, which they paid. Towards nightfall they asked for two girls. The next day they asked for five hundred pounds. They had to pay that also. That night they asked for five girls and took them. Then every day they were robbed. They lost all their valuables and provisions. The Turkish villagers stole the best looking girls and boys.

Just before they reached Erzindjan, their outer clothing was taken away from them and they were left in their underclothes. When they reached Erzindjan they protested to the Kaimakam. The Kaimakam promised to accompany them. The next day they started for Kamakh.

After they had travelled a few miles, they were attacked by chettis from all sides. The Armenians wanted to run back 235to Erzindjan, but the gendarmes opened fire on them. Many of them were thus massacred, and the remainder were driven towards Kamakh.

It was discovered that these chettis had been organised by Djemal Effendi, and it was by deliberate design that all the refugees were left in their white underclothes, so that no one could run away or hide himself.

When the refugees reached a gorge of the Euphrates River they were attacked again, and many of them were drowned in the river.

Zarouhi—who related the above story—said that the river was filled with corpses. She also was thrown into the river, but clung to a rock behind some bushes and remained there until the gendarmes and chettis had gone away.

Coming out of the river she met a kind Kurdish shepherd, who wrapped her in a blanket and took her to the house of a Turk who knew her. The Turk took her to Erzeroum and kept her in his home.

In speaking of the responsibility of the Germans for the massacres and deportations, Dr. Minassian says that, before the deportation, the Armenians went to the German Consul and asked his assistance. His answer was: “I do not want to mix in other people’s affairs, and I have no authorisation to do so from my Ambassador at Constantinople.”

The German officers at Erzeroum helped the Turks to organise the deportation, and also took their share of the booty. Almost every one of them had kidnapped Armenian girls.

An officer called Schapner, for instance, took with him four girls; another called Karl, two girls; and so on—there was a long fist of names which the reporter could not remember.

236

57. ERZEROUM: STATEMENT BY MR. A.S. SAFRASTIAN, DATED TIFLIS, 15th MARCH, 1916.

Since last October, when the Armenian atrocities were disclosed to the world at large, we had hoped against hope that, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, all that was said to have occurred might not be confirmed; that there might have been outlying districts in Turkish Armenia where the local Armenians had been spared the horrors that had accompanied their destruction in areas situated on the main roads. Unfortunately, now that the entire provinces of Erzeroum and Bitlis have been cleared of the Turk and one is able to see for oneself what actually has taken place, one is simply staggered at the depth and extent of the great crime, and the unprecedentedly cruel means by which the Armenians were cleared out of those two provinces, as well as the adjacent districts.

After seeing something with my own eyes in Erzeroum and Van, and compiling the facts about Bitlis, Moush and Khnyss from Russian official and other sources, my impression is that, out of the 250,000 Armenians of the Erzeroum and Bitlis Vilayets that remained under the dominion of the Turk in April, 1915 (exclusive of some 50,000 who saved themselves last summer, either by fighting their way out or by the advance of the Russians, and are now in Trans-Caucasia), only some 10,000 can be accounted for since an estimate was made possible by the death-blow which the Turks suffered last month. The remaining 240,000 or so have apparently perished under circumstances of the most extreme violence and inhumanity of which any human being is capable.

I am now in a position to state that all the accounts of Armenian atrocities which have been published in Europe and the United States are not only completely true, but that they represent merely such facts as have come under the eyes of consular officers or missionaries of neutral states; whereas the most ghastly and heinous crimes have been committed in the unfrequented parts of the country, out of sight of any observer.

The city of Erzeroum, the great military stronghold in Turkish Armenia, contained some 50,000 inhabitants before the war, of whom 20,000 were Armenians. The so-called plain of Erzeroum, a fertile alluvial plateau extending north-west of the city, contained some 60 Armenian villages with at least 45,000 inhabitants, almost all of them belonging to a sturdy race of peasants.

As soon as the European war broke out, the Central Committee of the Young Turks sent one Boukhar-ed-Din-Shakir-Bey, one of the Committee leaders, to Erzeroum, to organise the annihilation of the Armenians. Another, Djemal Effendi, a fanatic of the foulest type, was sent later on to help him in the work. These two Committee stalwarts sent from Constantinople were assisted in their fiendish business by two notorious natives—Edib Hodja and Djafer Bey.

237At Erzeroum, as everywhere else, the Armenians in particular were ruthlessly robbed of most of the goods they possessed under the cloak of military requisitions. The Turkish defeat at Sarikamysh in January, 1915, and the exaggerated accounts of the part played by Armenian Volunteers in that battle, envenomed relations at Erzeroum. A Turkish officer who returned from Sarikamysh told the Armenian Bishop Sempad at Erzeroum that they chiefly met Armenians on the battlefields: “Many of our soldiers were shot by Armenians,” he said, “and it was the Volunteers who destroyed our villages and scouting parties.”

Subsequently a campaign of slander and provocation was started by the Young Turk leaders against the Armenian people. Armenian soldiers in the Turkish army were disarmed and sent to labour battalions, and further severe measures were taken to squeeze every available asset out of the helpless people. A great mass meeting was held by the Turks on the 18th April just outside the city, in which the Armenians were publicly denounced as “traitors” and “dangerous to the Empire” and as supporters of the enemies of Turkey. Strict orders were issued to all Moslems who were inclined to shield their Armenian friends that they would be punished as severely as their protégés if they dared to protect them.

Fully aware of the fate that awaited them, the Armenians of Erzeroum made desperate appeals to Tahsin Bey, the Vali of the province, for protection. The latter’s reply was that he could not defy the instructions sent by the Central Government. The answer of Herr Anders, the German Consul at Erzeroum, to whom the Armenians appealed again for protection, seems to have been still more brutal. He definitely stated that the persecutions levelled by the Turkish Government and the mob against the Armenians were quite lawful, and that he could not interfere in the matter.

By an exercise of imagination one may perhaps visualise to some extent the anguish and agony those poor Armenians suffered during April and May. Trapped on all sides by the ruthless enemy and deprived of all means of armed or legal protection, they attempted to make the best of an unprecedentedly tragic situation. Almost all the intellectual leaders and teachers were openly done to death in prison under horrible tortures. Pilos, Atrouni and several others have never been heard of since their imprisonment. Pasdermadjian, a leading citizen of the town, was shot dead in the streets. This reign of terror also prevailed in the villages of the plain.

The capture of Van by the Armenians on the 16th May and the entry of the Armenian Volunteers, followed by the Russian Army, made a great impression on the Turkish authorities at Erzeroum. On the same day, the Armenians of Khnyss and of the neighbouring 38 villages were butchered almost to a man, and the women and children distributed among the Kurds. 238During the recent capture of Khnyss by the Russians, some 3,000 women and children were rescued in and around Khnyss. Apparently these represent the remnant of the 22,000 Armenians of the Sandjak of Khnyss.

In the meantime the Russians were advancing towards Melazkerd and Bitlis, and the Turks deported the Armenian peasants from Melazkerd and Passin and drove them towards Erzeroum. These half-starved peasants, exhausted and harried by forced marches, were not allowed to enter Erzeroum; they were kept out in the rain for seven days. Their situation became so shocking in May (1915) that even the German Consul was moved at the spectacle, and took some clothing and bread in his own car to distribute among “these rebellious scoundrels.” Later on they were driven towards Erzindjan and drowned in the Euphrates.

On the 4th June, the first batch of Armenian peasants from the plain of Erzeroum, amounting to some 15,000 persons, were forced by the gendarmes to leave their homes and proceed to Mamahatoun, west of Erzeroum. They were escorted by chetti (Moslem Volunteer) bands consisting of criminals released from prison since the proclamation of the Holy War. In the ankle-deep mud and along the rugged roads, children and weak women fell by the wayside amid the laughter of the chettis. Every evening a forced tribute was levied upon the peasants. Gradually they were robbed of everything they possessed—money, clothing, horses, etc. Girls and women were distributed among the Turks as they passed through Turkish villages. A few hours’ distance beyond Mamahatoun, at the entrance of a valley called the Kamakh gorge, this convoy was “ambushed by unknown robbers.” The signal was given by a revolver shot, whereupon a volley of fire was poured upon the Armenians. One of the survivors of this batch, a lad of 18 whom I saw in Erzeroum, told me that the shrieks and cries of the women and weeping children under fire were distracting. Many attempted to escape, but they were fired upon by their own escort. In two hours’ time the valley had become a vast cemetery of unburied human bodies. Out of the 15,000 thus disposed of, a few escaped and reached Erzeroum in the guise of Turkish peasants.

On the 18th June it was the turn of the city. A fortnight’s time-limit was given to the Armenians for settling their affairs; they packed their property in boxes and bales and stored them with Mr. Stapleton, the head of the American Mission, and in the Armenian Cathedral. The Governor took £1,000 (Turkish) from them in payment for a safe-conduct before their departure. A hundred and sixty leading families were selected first for deportation. They were all people of means and education. The German officers in Erzeroum behaved in an outrageous manner towards the Armenian women torn away from their men. The Germans, in fact, seem to have set the example of 239wrenching women from their homes. One Captain Schapner (?) is said to have forced Miss Tchilingarian, a handsome girl, to follow him. On her resisting and crying, she was dragged about in the streets and roughly handled. This worthy German also carried off Mrs. Sarafian, a young woman educated in Switzerland. Another German lieutenant, Karl (?), dragged five women to his rooms, and so on.

The convoy of 160 families started out with carriages and some luggage, and were sent off in the same direction as their predecessors—towards Mamahatoun and Erzindjan. As they travelled they were robbed of everything and even stripped of their clothing. They are reported as having skirted the town of Erzindjan, but beyond that nothing has since been heard of them.

Bishop Sempad was sent off alone in his own carriage to Erzindjan, and never heard of again.

In the last week of June, several parties of Erzeroum Armenians were deported on successive days and most of them massacred on the way, either by shooting or drowning. One, Madame Zarouhi, an elderly lady of means, who was thrown into the Euphrates, saved herself by clinging to a boulder in the river. She succeeded in approaching the bank and returned to Erzeroum to hide herself in a Turkish friend’s house. She told Prince Argoutian (Argoutinsky), the representative of the “All-Russian Urban Union” in Erzeroum, that she shuddered to recall how hundreds of children were bayoneted by the Turks and thrown into the Euphrates, and how men and women were stripped naked, tied together in hundreds, shot and then hurled into the river. In a loop of the river near Erzindjan, she said, the thousands of dead bodies created such a barrage that the Euphrates changed its course for about a hundred yards. Several Armenians of this last party, however, seem to have survived this dreadful journey. Recently some of them wrote from Rakka, in northern Syria, to Mr. Stapleton imploring money and help, as they were in the direst distress.

After the recent capture of the city by the Russians, there were some 100 Armenians altogether in Erzeroum and some 25,000 Turks. Thirty girls and women were protected by Mr. Stapleton in his house. A certain number of women are gradually being rescued from the Turks in the city, and perhaps thousands more may be saved, if the military authorities take the necessary measures and help the Armenians to discover their own people.

Most of the children converted to Islam are quite used to Moslem habits; they speak and behave as if they were Turks by birth. They are now changing these habits again in Armenian hands.

When one stood at the gate called Kars Kapou, the eastern entrance to the city, and looked at the panorama it presented in March, 1916, Erzeroum did not seem to have suffered great 240changes in its general aspect. But I suffered a rude shock in the interior of the city, when I saw Armenian houses occupied by Turks still gloating over their booty, the city deprived of its Armenian element, and the dome of the Cathedral broken away at its base.

The Armenians of Erzeroum to whom I have talked here about their prospects are consoling themselves—though it is a poor consolation—with the thought that thousands of them had left the city before the war, and that they will all return home and take possession of their property as soon as the conditions there become better defined.

241

58. ERZEROUM: STATEMENT BY THE KURD ALI-AGHAZADÉ FARO, PUBLISHED IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL “MSCHAK,” 19th DECEMBER, 1915.

Ali-Aghazadé Faro, a Kurd, related to some Armenians of St. Garabed, who reached Caucasia as refugees, that he had gone to Erzeroum last September to sell sheep, &c., and to get his share of the booty from the Armenians if possible. Faro remained in Erzeroum for five or six days, during which time he did not see a single Armenian. He only saw Turks sitting in the shops of the Armenians. When he asked how it was that they were in these shops, some answered that they had bought them, while others said that they were gifts to them from the Government.

Faro spent the night in a Turkish house, and asked his host what had become of the Armenians. The latter replied as follows:—

“It was at the end of May when the Governor asked all the leaders and prominent Armenians to go to him. He told them that they were obliged to abandon the city to the enemy, consequently the army would retreat from the place. Therefore he instructed them to get ready and join him within twenty-four hours. They had to get ready, but as all means of transport had been requisitioned, they could take practically nothing with them. Before the twenty-four hours were up, they all gathered near the Government Building without knowing what was impending. Several hundred gendarmes surrounded them immediately and drove them out of the city towards the west. They were taken as far as Charuk-Dersim (Doujik). The Kurds of Dersim had already received their orders. They attacked them and killed every one. Another batch of Armenians was deported towards Sivas. They were seen passing through the Kamakh Pass, but what happened to them afterwards has never been known. A few hundred of their most beautiful girls were captured by certain Turks, and the Government was still looking for them.”

242

59. BAIBOURT: NARRATIVE OF AN ARMENIAN LADY DEPORTED IN THE THIRD CONVOY; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

A week before anything was done to Baibourt, the villages all round had been emptied and their inhabitants had become victims of the gendarmes and marauding bands. Three days before the starting of the Armenians from Baibourt, after a week’s imprisonment, Bishop Anania Hazarabedian was hanged, with seven other notables. After these hangings, seven or eight other notables were killed in their own houses for refusing to leave the city. Seventy or eighty other Armenians, after being beaten in prison, were taken to the woods and killed. The Armenian population of Baibourt was sent off in three batches; I was among the third batch. My husband died eight years ago, leaving me and my eight-year-old daughter and my mother a large property, so that we were living in comfort. Since mobilization began, the Ottoman Commandant has been living in my house free of rent. He told me not to go, but I felt I must share the fate of my people. I took three horses with me, loaded with provisions. My daughter had some five-lira pieces round her neck, and I carried some twenty liras and four diamond rings on my person. All else that we had was left behind. Our party left on the 1st/ 14th June, fifteen gendarmes going with us. The party numbered four or five hundred[69] persons. We had got only two hours away from home when bands of villagers and brigands in large numbers, with rifles, guns, axes, etc., surrounded us on the road, and robbed us of all we had. The gendarmes took my three horses and sold them to Turkish mouhadjirs, pocketing the money. They took my money and the gold pieces from my daughter’s neck, also all our food. After this they separated the men, one by one, and shot them all within six or seven days—every male above fifteen years old. By my side were killed two priests, one of them over ninety years of age. The brigands took all the good-looking women and carried them off on their horses. Very many women and girls were thus carried off to the mountains, among them my sister, whose one-year-old baby they threw away; a Turk picked it up and carried it off, I know not where. My mother walked till she could walk no farther, and dropped by the roadside on a mountain top. We found on the road many of those who had been deported from Baibourt in the previous convoys; some women were among the killed, with their husbands and sons. We also came across some old people and little infants still alive but in a pitiful condition, having shouted their voices away. We were not allowed to sleep at night in the villages, but lay down outside. Under cover of the night indescribable deeds were committed by the gendarmes, brigands and villagers. Many of us died from hunger and strokes 243of apoplexy. Others were left by the roadside, too feeble to go on.

One morning we saw fifty or sixty wagons with about thirty Turkish widows, whose husbands had been killed in the war; and these were going to Constantinople. One of these women made a sign to one of the gendarmes to kill a certain Armenian whom she pointed out. The gendarmes asked her if she did not wish to kill him herself, at which she said “Why not?” and, drawing a revolver from her pocket, shot him dead. Every one of these Turkish hanoums had five or six Armenian girls of ten or under with her. Boys the Turks never wished to take; they killed them all, of whatever age. These women wanted to take my daughter, too, but she would not be separated from me. Finally we were both taken into their wagons on our promising to become Moslems. As soon as we entered the araba, they began to teach us how to be Moslems, and changed our names, calling me X. and her Y.

The worst and most unimaginable horrors were reserved for us at the banks of the Euphrates[70] and in the Erzindjan plain. The mutilated bodies of women, girls and little children made everybody shudder. The brigands were doing all sorts of awful deeds to the women and girls that were with us, whose cries went up to heaven. At the Euphrates, the brigands and gendarmes threw into the river all the remaining children under fifteen years old. Those that could swim were shot down as they struggled in the water.

After seven days we reached Erzindjan. Not an Armenian was left alive there. The Turkish women took my daughter and me to the bath, and there showed us many other women and girls that had accepted Islam. Between there and Enderessi, the fields and hillsides were dotted with swollen and blackened corpses that filled and fouled the air with their stench. On this road we met six women wearing the feradjé[71] and with children in their arms. But when the gendarmes lifted their veils, they found that they were men in disguise, so they shot them. After thirty-two days’ journey we reached our destination.


69. “4000-5000”—Doc. 2

70. i.e., the Kara Su.

71. Moslem veil.

244

60. BAIBOURT: STATEMENT, REPRODUCED FROM THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL “HORIZON,” OF TIFLIS, IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL “GOTCHNAG” OF NEW YORK, 18th MARCH, 1916.

On the 15th May, some of the prominent Armenians of Baibourt—north-west of Erzeroum—Hadji Simon, Hamazasb, Arshag and Drtad Simavonian, Hagop Aghparian, Vagharshag Lousigian, Garabed Sarafian, Garabed Duldulian, and the Bishop were arrested. They were then taken to a place called “Ourbadji Oghlou Déré” and killed. When the Armenians heard of this they were terrified, but the Government declared that these were traitors, that they had sent money to the enemy and tried to persuade the people to revolt—that consequently they were punished, but that nothing would happen to the other Armenians. They were, in fact, really left in peace for some time, but after the retreat from Van Turkish soldiers came and disarmed them. They were then deported and massacred.

Forty armed young men from the village of Lsounk and 20 from Varvan escaped to the mountains. They were pursued by regular soldiers and forced to fight. Both sides lost heavily, and finally 12 of the Armenians, by the help of Greek villagers, reached Caucasia.

245

61. BAIBOURT, KEGHI, AND ERZINDJAN: LETTER[72], DATED ERZEROUM, 25th MAY/7th JUNE, 1915; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

The districts of Erzindjan, Keghi, and Baibourt have been devastated by forced emigrations. The Armenian population of the city of Erzeroum has also received categoric orders to leave the city. They will be deported en masse; 160 merchants are already en route with their families. The Government has confiscated their goods. We have no information about the deported people; they say they will be sent to Mosul.


72. Name of author withheld

246

62. ERZINDJAN: STATEMENT BY TWO RED CROSS NURSES OF DANISH NATIONALITY, FORMERLY IN THE SERVICE OF THE GERMAN MILITARY MISSION AT ERZEROUM[73]; COMMUNICATED BY A SWISS GENTLEMAN OF GENEVA.

In March, 1915, we learnt through an Armenian doctor, who died later on of typhus, that the Turkish Government was preparing for a massacre on a grand scale. He begged us to find out from General Passelt whether the rumour were true. We heard afterwards that the General (a gallant officer) had his own fears of it, and asked, for that reason, to be relieved of his post.... We fell sick of typhus and ... in consequence of a number of changes in the hospital staff ... we were obliged to leave Erzeroum. Through the good offices of the German Consul at Erzeroum, who also possessed the confidence of the Armenians, we were engaged by the Red Cross at Erzindjan, and worked there seven weeks.

At the beginning of June, the head of the Red Cross Mission at Erzindjan, Staff-Surgeon A., told us that the Armenians had revolted at Van, that measures had been taken against them which would be put into general execution, and that the whole Armenian population of Erzindjan and the neighbourhood would be transported to Mesopotamia, where it would no longer find itself in a majority. There was, however, to be no massacre, and measures were to be taken to feed the exiles and to secure their personal safety by a military escort. Wagons loaded with arms and bombs were reported, he said, to have been discovered at Erzindjan, and many arrests were to be made. The Red Cross staff were forbidden to have any relations with the exiles, and prohibited any excursions on foot or horseback beyond a certain radius.

After that, several days’ grace was given to the population of Erzindjan for the sale of their property, which was naturally realised at ludicrous prices. In the first week of June,[74] the first convoy started; the rich people were allowed to hire carriages. They were to go to Harpout. The three succeeding days, further deportations followed[75]; many children were taken charge of by Moslem families; later on, the authorities decided that these children must go into exile as well.

The families of the Armenians employed in our hospital had to go with the rest, including a woman who was ill. A protest from Dr. Neukirch, who was attending her, had no effect except 247to postpone her departure two days. A soldier attached to our staff as cobbler said to Sister B.[76]: “I am now forty-six years old, and yet I am taken for military service, although I have paid my exemption-tax regularly every year. I have never done anything against the Government, and now they are taking from me my whole family, my seventy-year-old mother, my wife and five children, and I do not know where they are going.” He was especially affected by the thought of his little daughter, a year and a half old; “She is so sweet. She has such pretty eyes”; he wept like a child. The next day he came back; “I know the truth. They are all dead.” And it was only too true. Our Turkish cook came to us crying, and told us how the Kurds had attacked the unhappy convoy at Kamakh Boghaz[77], had pillaged it completely, and had killed a great number of the exiles. This must have been the 14th June.

Two young Armenian teachers, educated at the College of Harpout, whose lives were spared, related that the convoy had been caught under a cross-fire by the Kurds on the flanks and the Turkish irregulars in the rear. They had thrown themselves flat on the ground and pretended to be dead; afterwards they succeeded in finding their way back to Erzindjan by circuitous paths, bribing some Kurds whom they met on the way. One of them had with her her fiancé in woman’s clothes. He had been shielded by a Turkish class-mate. When they reached Erzindjan a gendarme tried to abduct the girl and her fiancé interfered. He was killed, and the girls were carried off to Turkish houses, where they were treated kindly but had pressure put upon them to change their religion. They conveyed this news to us through a young doctor who attended some Armenian patients in our hospital, and was thereby enabled to get into touch with us; he brought us an appeal from them to take them with us to Harpout. If only they had poison, they said, they would poison themselves. They had no information whatever as to the fate of their companions.

The day after,[78] Friday, the 11th June, a party of regular troops (belonging to the 86th Cavalry Brigade) were sent out “to keep the Kurds in order.”

We heard subsequently from these soldiers how the defenceless Armenians had been massacred to the last one. The butchery had 248taken four hours. The women threw themselves on their knees, they had thrown their children into the Euphrates, and so on.[79] “It was horrible,” said a nice-looking young soldier; “I could not fire, I only pretended.” For that matter, we have often heard Turks express their disapproval and their pity. The soldiers told us that there were ox-carts all ready to carry the corpses to the river and remove every trace of the massacre.[80]

Next day there was a regular battue through the cornfields. (The corn was then standing, and many Armenians had hidden in it.)

From that time on, convoys of exiles were continually arriving, all on their way to the slaughter; we have no doubt about their fate, after the unanimous testimony which we have received from many different quarters. Later, our Greek driver told us that the victims had their hands tied behind their backs, and were thrown down from the cliffs into the river. This method was employed when the numbers were too great to dispose of them in any other fashion. It was also easier work for the murderers. Sister B. and I, of course, began at once to think what we could do, and we decided to travel with one of these convoys to Harpout. We did not know yet that the massacre on the road had been ordered by the Government, and we also thought that we could check the brutality of the gendarmes and stave off the assaults of the Kurds, since we speak Kurdish and have some influence over the tribesmen.

We then telegraphed to the Consul at Erzeroum, telling him that we had been dismissed from the hospital, and urging him, in the interests of Germany, to come to Erzindjan. He wired back: “Impossible to leave my post. Expect Austrians, who are due to pass here the 22nd June....”

On the evening of the 17th June, we went out for a walk with Mr. C., the druggist of the Red Cross Staff. He was as much horrified as we were at the cruelties that were being perpetrated, and expressed himself very plainly on the subject. He also received his dismissal. On our walk we met a gendarme, who told us that, ten minutes’ distance away, a large convoy of exiles from Baibourt had been halted. He narrated to us, with appalling vividness, how one by one the men had been massacred and cast into the depths of the gorge[81]: “Kezzé, kezzé, geliorlar! (Kill, kill, push them over).” He told how, at each village, the women 249had been violated; how he himself had desired to take a girl, but had been told that already she was no longer a maid; how children had had their brains battered out when they cried or hindered the march. “There were the naked bodies of three girls; I buried them to do a good deed,” was his concluding remark.

The following morning, at a very early hour, we heard the procession of exiles passing in front of our house, along the high road leading in to Erzindjan. We followed them and kept up with them as far as the town, about an hour’s walk. Mr. G. came with us. It was a very large gang—only two or three of them men, all the rest women and children. Many of the women looked demented. They cried out: “Spare us, we will become Moslems or Germans or whatever you will; only spare us. We are being taken to Kamakh Boghaz to have our throats cut,” and they made an expressive gesture. Others kept silence, and marched patiently on with a few bundles on their backs and their children in their arms. Others begged us to save their children. Many Turks arrived on the scene to carry off children and girls, with or without their parents’ consent. There was no time for reflection, for the crowd was being moved on continually by the mounted gendarmes brandishing their whips. On the outskirts of the town, the road to Kamakh Boghaz branches off from the main highway. At this point the scene turned into a regular slave market; for our part, we took a family of six children, from three to fourteen years old, who clutched hold of us, and another little girl as well. We entrusted the latter to our Turkish cook, who was on the spot. She wanted to take the child to the kitchen of Dr. A.’s private house, and keep her there until we could come to fetch her; but the doctor’s adjutant, Riza Bey, gave the woman a beating and threw the child out into the street. Meanwhile, with cries of agony, the gang of sufferers continued its march, while we returned to the hospital with our six children. Dr. A. gave us permission to keep them in our room until we had packed our belongings; they were given food and soon became calmer. “Now we are saved,” they had cried when we took them. They refused to let go of our hands. The smallest, the son of a rich citizen of Baibourt, lay huddled up in his mother’s cloak; his face was swollen with crying and he seemed inconsolable. Once he rushed to the window and pointed to a gendarme: “That’s the man who killed my father.” The children handed over to us their money, 475 piastres (about £4), which their parents had given them with the idea that perhaps the children, at any rate, would not be shot.

We then rode into the town to obtain permission for these children to travel with us. We were told that the high authorities were in session to decide the fate of the convoy which had just arrived. Nevertheless, Sister B. succeeded in getting word with someone she knew, who gave her the authorisation to take the children with her, and offered to give them false names in 250the passport. This satisfied us, and, after returning to the hospital, we left the same evening with baggage and children and all, and installed ourselves in a hotel at Erzindjan. The Turkish orderlies at the hospital were very friendly, and said: “You have done a good deed in taking these children.” We could get nothing but one small room for the eight of us. During the night there was a frightful knocking at our door, and we were asked whether there were two German ladies in the room. Then all became quiet again, to the great relief of our little ones. Their first question had been, would we prevent them from being made Mohammedans? And was our cross (the nurses’ Red Cross) the same as theirs? After that they were comforted. We left them in the room, and went ourselves to take our tea in the hotel café. We noticed that some discharged hospital patients of ours, who had always shown themselves full of gratitude towards us, behaved as if they no longer recognised us. The proprietor of the hotel began to hold forth, and everyone listened to what he was saying: “The death of these women and children has been decreed at Constantinople.” The Hodja (Turkish priest) of our hospital came in, too, and said to us, among other things: “If God has no pity on them, why must you have pity? The Armenians have committed atrocities at Van. That happened because their religion is ekzik (inferior). The Moslems should not have followed their example, but should have carried out the massacre with greater humanity.” We always gave the same answer—that they ought to discover the guilty and do justice upon them, but that the massacre of women and children was, and always will remain, a crime.

Then we went to the Mutessarif himself, with whom we had not succeeded in obtaining an interview before. The man looked like the devil incarnate, and his behaviour bore out his appearance. In a bellowing voice he shouted at us: “Women have no business to meddle with politics, but ought to respect the Government!” We told him that we should have acted in precisely the same way if the victims had been Mohammedans, and that politics had nothing to do with our conduct. He answered that we had been expelled from the hospital, and that we should get the same treatment from him; that he would not stand us, and that he would certainly not permit us to go to Harpout to fetch our belongings, but would send us to Sivas. Worst of all, he forbade us to take the children away, and at once sent a gendarme to carry them off from our room.

On our way back to the hotel we actually met them, but they were hurried past us so quickly that we had not even a chance to return them their money. Afterwards we asked Dr. Lindenberg to see that this money was restored to them; but, to find out where they were, he had to make enquiries of a Turkish officer, and just at the moment of our departure, when we had been told that they had already been killed, and when we had no 251longer any chance of making a further search for them, the aforementioned Riza Bey came and asked us for this money, on the ground that he wanted to return it to the children! We had already decided to spend it on relieving other Armenians.

At Erzindjan we were now looked askance at. They would no longer let us stay at the hotel, but took us to a deserted Armenian house. The whole of this extensive quarter of the town seemed dead. People came and went at will to loot the contents of the houses; in some of the houses families of Moslem refugees were already installed. We had now a roof over our heads, but no one would go to get us food. However, we managed to send a note to Dr. A., who kindly allowed us to return to the hospital. The following day, the Mutessarif sent a springless baggage cart, in which we were to do the seven days’ journey to Sivas. We gave him to understand that we would not have this conveyance, and, upon the representations of Dr. A., they sent us a travelling carriage, with the threat to have us arrested if we did not start at once. This was on Monday, the 21st June, and we should have liked to wait for the Austrians, who were due to arrive on the Tuesday morning, and continue the journey in their company; but Dr. A. declared that he could no longer give us protection, and so we started out. Dr. Lindenberg did us the kindness of escorting us as far as Rifahia[82]. During the first days of our journey we saw five corpses. One was a woman’s, and still had clothes on; the others were naked, one of them headless. There were two Turkish officers on the road with us who were really Armenians, as we were told by the gendarme attached to us. They preserved their incognito towards us, and maintained a very great reserve, but always took care not to get separated from us. On the fourth day they did not put in an appearance. When we enquired after them, we were given to understand that the less we concerned ourselves about them the better it would be for us. On the road, we broke our journey near a Greek village. A savage-looking man was standing by the roadside. He began to talk with us, and told us he was stationed there to kill all the Armenians that passed, and that he had already killed 250. He explained that they all deserved their fate, for they were all Anarchists—not Liberals or Socialists, but Anarchists. He told the gendarmes that he had received orders by telephone to kill our two travelling companions. So these two men with their Armenian drivers must have perished there. We could not restrain ourselves from arguing with this assassin, but when he went off our Greek driver warned us: “Don’t say a word, if you do ...”—and he made the gesture of taking aim. The rumour had, in fact, got about that we were Armenians, which was as good as to say condemned to death.

One day we met a convoy of exiles, who had said good-bye to their prosperous villages and were at that moment on their 252way to Kamakh Boghaz. We had to draw up a long time by the roadside while they marched past. The scene will never be forgotten by either of us: a very small number of elderly men, a large number of women—vigorous figures with energetic features—a crowd of pretty children, some of them fair and blue-eyed, one little girl smiling at the strangeness of all she was seeing, but on all the other faces the solemnity of death. There was no noise; it was all quiet, and they marched along in an orderly way, the children generally riding on the ox-carts; and so they passed, some of them greeting us on the way—all these poor people, who are now standing at the throne of God, and whose cry goes up before Him. An old woman was made to get down from her donkey—she could no longer keep the saddle. Was she killed on the spot? Our hearts had become as cold as ice.

The gendarme attached to us told us then that he had escorted a convoy of 3,000 women and children to Mamahatoun (near Erzeroum) and Kamakh Boghaz. “Hep gildi, bildi,” he said: “All gone, all dead.” We asked him: “Why condemn them to this frightful torment; why not kill them in their villages?” Answer: “It is best as it is. They ought to be made to suffer; and, besides, there would be no place left for us Moslems with all these corpses about. They will make a stench!”

We spent a night at Enderessi, one day’s journey from Shabin Kara-Hissar. As usual, we had been given for our lodging an empty Armenian house. On the wall there was a pencil scrawl in Turkish: “Our dwelling is on the mountains, we have no longer any need of a roof to cover us; we have already drained the bitter cup of death, we have no more need of a judge.”

The ground floor rooms of the house were still tenanted by the women and children. The gendarmes told us that they would be exiled next morning, but they did not know that yet; they did not know what had become of the men of the house; they were restless, but not yet desperate.

Just after I had gone to sleep, I was awakened by shots in our immediate neighbourhood. The reports followed one another rapidly, and I distinctly heard the words of command. I realised at once what was happening, and actually experienced a feeling of relief at the idea that these poor creatures were now beyond the reach of human cruelty.

Next morning our people told us that ten Armenians had been shot—that was the firing that we had heard—and that the Turkish civilians of the place were now being sent out to chase the fugitives. Indeed, we saw them starting off on horseback with guns. At the roadside were two armed men standing under a tree and dividing between them the clothes of a dead Armenian. We passed a place covered with clotted blood, though the corpses had been removed. It was the 250 roadmaking soldiers, of whom our gendarme had told us.

253Once we met a large number of these labourers, who had so far been allowed to do their work in peace. They had been sorted into three gangs—Moslems, Greeks and Armenians. There were several officers with the latter. Our young Hassan exclaimed: “They are all going to be butchered.” We continued our journey, and the road mounted a hill. Then our driver pointed with his whip towards the valley, and we saw that the Armenian gang was being made to stand out of the highroad. There were about 400 of them, and they were being made to line up on the edge of a slope. We know what happened after that.

Two days before we reached Sivas, we again saw the same sight. The soldiers’ bayonets glittered in the sun.

At another place there were ten gendarmes shooting them down, while Turkish workmen were finishing off the victims with knives and stones. Here ten Armenians had succeeded in getting away.

Later on, in the Mission Hospital at Sivas, we came across one of the men who had escaped. He told us that about 100 Armenians had been slaughtered there. Our informant himself had received a terrible wound in the nape of the neck and had fainted. Afterwards he had recovered consciousness and had dragged himself in two days to Sivas.

Twelve hours’ distance from Sivas, we spent the night in a government building. For hours a gendarme, sitting in front of our door, crooned to himself over and over gain: “Ermenleri hep kesdiler—the Armenians have all been killed!” In the next room they were talking on the telephone. We made out that they were giving instructions as to how the Armenians were to be arrested. They were talking chiefly about a certain Ohannes, whom they had not succeeded in finding yet.

One night we slept in an Armenian house where the women had just heard that the men of the family had been condemned to death. It was frightful to hear their cries of anguish. It was no use our trying to speak to them. “Cannot your Emperor help us?” they cried. The gendarme saw the despair on our faces, and said: “Their crying bothers you; I will forbid them to cry.” However, he let himself be mollified. He had taken particular pleasure in pointing out to us all the horrors that we encountered, and he said to young Hassan: “First we kill the Armenians, then the Greeks, then the Kurds.” He would certainly have been delighted to add: “And then the foreigners!” Our Greek driver was the victim of a still more ghastly joke: “Look, down there in the ditch; there are Greeks there too!”

At last we reached Sivas. We had to wait an hour in front of the Government Building before the examination of our papers was completed and we were given permission to go to the Americans. There, too, all was trouble and sorrow.

On the 1st July we left Sivas and reached Kaisaria on the 4th. We had been given permission to go to Talas, after depositing 254our baggage at the Jesuit School; but when we wanted to go on from Kaisaria, we were refused leave and taken back to the Jesuit School, where a gendarme was posted in front of our door. However, the American Missionaries succeeded in getting us set at liberty.

We then returned to Talas, where we passed several days full of commotion, for there, as well as at Kaisaria, there were many arrests being made. The poor Armenians never knew what the morrow would bring, and then came the terrifying news that all Armenians had been cleared out of Sivas. What happened there and in the villages of the surrounding districts will be reported by the American Mission.

When we discovered that they meant to keep us there—for they had prevented us from joining the Austrians for the journey—we telegraphed to the German Embassy, and so obtained permission to start. There is nothing to tell about this part of our journey, except that the locusts had in places destroyed all the fruit and vegetables, so that the Turks are already beginning to have some experience of the Divine punishment.

255

63. KAMAKH AND ERZEROUM: STATEMENT[83] PUBLISHED IN THE NEW YORK JOURNAL “GOTCHNAG,” 4th SEPTEMBER, 1915.

The Armenian villages of the Kamakh district have been visited with the most ghastly horrors. The Turks began by perpetrating massacres, and subsequently deported the survivors to various places—the men in one direction and the women in another. The houses and property belonging to the Armenians have been taken possession of by the Turks and Kurds, who have come to this district as refugees from the Vilayet of Van.

The Armenian villages in the plain west of Erzeroum have all been cleared of their inhabitants. After all the men who were physically fit had been mobilised, the remainder were deported. The Armenian houses are being handed over to Turkish immigrants. The Archimandrite Kevork Tourian, Metropolitan of the Armenians of Trebizond, has been brought to Erzeroum, where he will be tried by court-martial.


73. They were at work in the German hospital at Erzeroum from October, 1914, to April, 1915.—Editor.

74. 7th June—Allgemeine Missions-Zeitschrift, November, 1915.

75. Amounting to about 20,000-25,000 people in all—Allgemeine Missions-Zeitschrift, November, 1915.

76. One of the two authors of the present statement, which has been drafted in the first person by the other witness, but represents the experiences of both. The Editor is in possession of the drafter’s name, but does not know the identity of Sister B., Dr. A., or Mr. G.—Editor.

77. A defile, 12 hours’ journey from Erzindjan, where the Euphrates flows through a narrow gorge between two walls of rock.

78. i.e., after the departure of the last convoy of exiles from Erzindjan (10th June), not after the narrators were informed of the massacre by their cook and by the two Armenian girls. The passages about the cobbler, the cook, and the two girls are evidently in parenthesis, and interrupt the sequence of the narrative.—Editor.

79. The further details are given in the Allgemeine Missions-Zeitschrift, November, 1915: “When we exclaimed in horror: ‘So you fire on women and children!’ the soldiers answered: ‘What could we do? It was our orders.’ One of them added: ‘It was a heart-breaking sight. For that matter, I did not shoot.’”—Editor.

80. On the evening of the 11th, we saw soldiers returning to town laden with loot. We heard from both Turks and Armenians that children’s corpses were strewn along the road.

81. Every day ten or twelve of the men had been killed and thrown into the ravines.—Allgemeine Missions-Zeitschrift.

82. This was not the route followed by the convoys of exiles.

83. Source unspecified.

257

VII.
VILAYET OF MAMOURET-UL-AZIZ.

This province lies south-west of Erzindjan, where the Kara-Su bends from west to south and effects its junction with the Mourad-Su, to form the united stream of the Euphrates. The remnant of the convoys from the Vilayet of Erzeroum passed through this district on their way to Mesopotamia, and the Armenian inhabitants of Mamouret-ul-Aziz itself were sent after them in the first weeks of July.

The great advance of the Russians in the winter of 1915-6 brought this province within the immediate war zone, and apparently provoked a second outburst of persecution. On the 24th February, 1916, the Paris journal “Le Temps” published the following telegram from Rome: “According to information that has reached thethe Vatican, the Turks have carried fire and sword through the region of Mamouret-ul-Aziz, killing all the Christians, including the Catholic Armenian Bishop, Mgr. Ivraklon, who was subjected to prolonged and fearful tortures.”

The name of the town to which most of the documents in this section relate is, for obvious reasons, withheld.

258

64. H.: STATEMENT MADE BY MISS DA., A DANISH LADY IN THE SERVICE OF THE GERMAN RED CROSS AT H., TO MR. DB. AT BASLE, AND COMMUNICATED BY MR. DB. TO LORD BRYCE.

Sister DA. left the German Red Cross Mission at H. in April, 1916, travelling through Ourfa to Aleppo, and thence by road and railway across Anatolia to Constantinople. Mr. DB. met her at Basle, on her way from Constantinople to Denmark, in the house of a mutual friend.

Sister DA. told Mr. DB. that on the 16th March, 1915, the German Vice-Consul appointed provisionally to Erzeroum (the Consul himself being interned in Russia) was passing through the town of H., accompanied by two German officers, and arranged to dine that evening with the German Red Cross Staff, after paying his respects to the Vali. At the hour fixed, only the two officers appeared. They said that they had called, with the Vice-Consul, upon the Vali, but that after a time the Vali had shewn signs of being irked by their presence, and so they had taken their departure, leaving the Vali and the Vice-Consul together. The company waited for the Vice-Consul about two hours. He arrived about 9.30 p.m., in a state of great agitation, and told them at once the purport of his interview. The Vali had declared to him that the Armenians in Turkey must be, and were going to be, exterminated. They had grown, he said, in wealth and numbers until they had become a menace to the ruling Turkish race; extermination was the only remedy. The Vice-Consul had expostulated and represented that persecution always increased the spiritual vitality of a subject race, and on grounds of expediency was the worst policy for the rulers. “Well, we shall see,” said the Vali, and closed the conversation.

This incident occurred on the 16th March, 1915, and Mr. DB. points out that it must have been practically simultaneous with an interview given by Enver Pasha at Constantinople to the Gregorian Bishop of Konia in the course of February, 1915, Old Style. In this interview the Bishop had asked Enver whether he were satisfied with the conduct of the Armenian soldiers in the Ottoman Army, and Enver had testified warmly to their energy, courage and loyalty—so warmly, in fact, that the Bishop at once asked whether he might publish this testimonial over Enver’s name. Enver readily consented, and the Gregorian Patriarchate at Constantinople accordingly circulated an authorised account of the interview to the Armenian, and even to the Turkish, press.[84] Thus, in the latter part of February, 1915, the Central Government at Constantinople was advertising its friendly feelings towards its Armenian subjects, while by the 16th March, less than a month later, it had given its representative in a remote province to understand that a general massacre of these same Armenians was imminent.

259To return to Sister DA.’s narrative—she told Mr. DB. that between February and the beginning of May, 1915, about 400 Armenians had been arrested and imprisoned at H. They were the young men, the strong in body and the intellectuals. Most of their kind had been taken for the Army in the mobilisation of the previous autumn, but these 400 had been left, and were now thrown into prison instead of being conscribed.

At the beginning of May, the Vali of H. sent for the head of the German Protestant Mission Station in the town, and requested him to tell the Armenians that they must surrender their arms. Otherwise, he said, the most stringent measures would be taken against them. The missionaries must persuade them to deliver up the arms quickly. The head of the Mission Station called a meeting of Armenian notables, and put to them what the Vali had said. The Armenians decided to consult with their Turkish fellow-townsmen, and so a mixed meeting was held of all the Turkish and Armenian notables of H. At this meeting the Turkish notables urged the Armenians to give up their arms and promised that, if they did so, they themselves would guarantee their security, and would see that they suffered nothing at the Government’s hands.

This promise induced the Armenians to comply. They collected their arms and presented them to the Vali, but the Vali declared that all had not been brought. The newest and most dangerous weapons, he said, had been in the hands of the 400 prisoners. These must be surrendered also, or the penalties he had threatened would still be inflicted on the whole Armenian community at H. So the notables went to the men in prison, and besought them to reveal where their arms were hidden; all the Gregorian priests went, and the head of the German Mission Station went with them. The 400 were obstinate at first, but it was represented to them that, if they refused, they would be responsible for the destruction of the whole community, and at last they gave in. They revealed the hiding-places, and the arms were duly found and delivered up to the Vali.

The Vali immediately had photographs taken of all the arms collected, and sent them to Constantinople as evidence that an Armenian revolution was on the point of breaking out at H. He asked for a free hand to suppress it, and an order came back from Constantinople that he was to take whatever measures he considered necessary on the spot.

After that, the 400 young men were conveyed out of the town by night and never heard of again. Shots were said to have been heard in the distance.

Three days later, the rest of the Armenian community at H. was summoned by bugle to assemble before the Government Building, and then deported. The men were first sent off in one direction, and later the women and children, on ox-carts, in another. They were only given a few hours to make their 260preparations, and Sister DA. described their consternation as being terrible. They tried to dispose of their property, which the Turks bought up for practically nothing. Sewing-machines, for instance, sold for two or three piastres (4d. to 6d.). The process of deportation was extended to the whole Vilayet.

The Armenian children in the German Orphanage at H. were sent away with the rest. “My orders,” said the Vali, “are to deport all Armenians. I cannot make an exception of these.” He announced, however, that a Government Orphanage was to be established for any children that remained, and shortly afterwards he called on Sister DA. and asked her to come and visit it. Sister DA. went with him, and found about 700 Armenian children in a good building. For every twelve or fifteen children there was one Armenian nurse, and they were well clothed and fed. “See what care the Government is taking of the Armenians,” the Vali said, and she returned home surprised and pleased; but when she visited the Orphanage again several days later, there were only thirteen of the 700 children left—the rest had disappeared. They had been taken, she learnt, to a lake six hours’ journey by road from the town and drowned. Three hundred fresh children were subsequently collected at the “Orphanage,” and Sister DA. believed that they suffered the same fate as their predecessors. These victims were the residue of the Armenian children at H. The finest boys and prettiest girls had been picked out and carried off by the Turks and Kurds of the district, and it was the remainder, who had been left on the Government’s hands, that were disposed of in this way.

As soon as the Armenians had been deported from H., convoys of other exiles began to pass through from the districts further north. Sister DA. did not see these convoys, because they made a detour round the town, and she never left the town precincts; but she talked with many people who did see them, and they gave a terrible description of their plight. The roads near the town, they said, were littered with the corpses of those who had died of sickness or exhaustion, or from the violence of their guards. And these accounts were confirmed by her own experience last April (1916), on her journey to Aleppo. On the road to Aleppo from Ourfa she passed numbers of corpses lightly buried under a layer of soil. The extremities of the limbs were protruding, and had been gnawed by dogs. She was told by people she met that unheard-of atrocities had been committed, and that there were cases of women who had drowned themselves to escape their tormentors.

It was Sister DA.’s impression that the deportation and massacre of the Armenians had ruined Turkey economically. The Armenians had been the only skilled workers in the country, and industry came to a standstill when they were gone. You could not replace copper vessels for your household; you could not get your roof re-tiled. The Government had actually retained 261a few Armenian artisans—bakers, masons, &c.—to work for the Army, and whatever work was still done was done by these and by a few others who had gone over to Islam. But though the sources of production were cut off, the Turks had not begun to feel the pinch. Having laid hands on all the property of the Armenians, they were richer, for the moment, than before. During the past year bread had been plentiful and cheap, cattle and meat had been abundant, and there were still enough supplies, she thought, to last for some time yet. Under these circumstances, the Turkish peasantry were well content—except for the women, who resented the absence of their husbands at the war. The dearth of men, Sister DA. said, was everywhere noticeable. She had been told, however, that some Kurdish tribes had refused to furnish recruits, and that the Kizil Bashis of the Dersim had furnished none at all. The Government had been preparing an expedition against the Kizil Bashis to extort a toll of conscripts, but the plan had been thwarted by the Russian advance. In the Turkish villages agricultural work was being largely carried on by the Armenian women and children, who had been handed over to the Moslem peasants by the authorities. Sister DA. saw quantities of them everywhere, practically in the condition of slaves. They were never allowed to rest in peace, but were constantly chivied about from one village to another.

As she came down to Aleppo she found the country under good cultivation. Great stores of bread had been accumulated for the army in Mesopotamia. In Anatolia, on the other hand, the fields were neglected, and she thought that there famine was not far off. But it was not till she reached Constantinople that she found any present scarcity. In the provinces only sugar and petrol had been scarce; at Constantinople all commodities were both scarce and dear.

Sister DA. was told at Constantinople that Turks of all parties were united in their approval of what was being done to the Armenians, and that Enver Pasha openly boasted of it as his personal achievement. Talaat Bey, too, was reported to have remarked, on receiving the news of Vartkes’[85] assassination: “There is no room in the Empire for both Armenians and Turks. Either they had to go or we.”


84. This incident was communicated to Mr. DB. by DC. Effendi, a gentleman who had held high office under the Ottoman Government till the outbreak of the War.

85. Mr. Vartkes was an Armenian deputy in the Ottoman Parliament, who was murdered, together with another deputy, Mr. Zohrab, when he was being escorted by gendarmes from Aleppo to be court-martialled at Diyarbekir (see Docs. 7 and 9).—Editor.

262

65. H.: REPORT, DATED 11th JULY, 1915, FROM A FOREIGN RESIDENT AT H.; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

If it were simply a matter of being obliged to leave here to go somewhere else, it would not be so bad, but everybody knows that it is a case of going to one’s death. If there was any doubt about it, it has been removed by the arrival of a number of convoys, aggregating several thousand people, from Erzeroum and Erzindjan. I have visited their encampment a number of times, and talked with some of the people. A more pitiable sight cannot be imagined. They are, almost without exception, ragged, filthy, hungry and sick. That is not surprising, in view of the fact that they have been on the road for nearly two months, with no change of clothing, no chance to wash, no shelter and little to eat. The Government has been giving them some scanty rations here. I watched them one time when their food was brought. Wild animals could not be worse. They rushed upon the guards who carried the food, and the guards beat them back with clubs, hitting hard enough to kill them sometimes. To watch them, one could hardly believe that these people were human beings.

As one walks through the camp, mothers offer their children and beg one to take them. In fact, the Turks have been taking their choice of these children and girls for slaves, or worse. In fact, they have even had their doctors there to examine the more likely girls and thus secure the best ones.

There are very few men among them, as most of them have been killed on the road. All tell the same story of having been attacked and robbed by the Kurds. Most of them were attacked over and over again, and a great many of them, especially the men, were killed. Women and children were also killed. Many died, of course, from sickness and exhaustion on the way, and there have been deaths each day that they have been here. Several different parties have arrived, and, after remaining a day or two, have been pushed on with no apparent destination. Those who have reached here are only a small portion, however, of those who started. By continuing to drive these people on in this way, it will be possible to dispose of all of them in a comparatively short time. Among those with whom I have talked were three sisters. They had been educated at —— and spoke excellent English. They said their family was the richest in Erzeroum and numbered twenty-five when they left; but there were now only fourteen survivors. The other eleven, including the husband of one of them and their old grandmother, had been butchered before their eyes by the Kurds. The oldest male survivor of the family was eight years of age. When they left Erzeroum, they had money, horses and personal effects, but they had been robbed of everything, including even their clothing. They said that some of them had been left absolutely naked, and others with only a single garment. When they reached a village, 263their gendarmes obtained clothes for them from some of the native women. Another girl with whom I talked is the daughter of the Protestant pastor of Erzeroum. She said that every member of her family with her had been killed and that she was left entirely alone. These and some others are a few survivors of the better class of people who have been exiled. They are being detained in an abandoned school-house just outside the town, and no one is allowed to enter it. They said that they were practically in prison, although they were allowed to visit a spring just outside the building. It was there I happened to see them. All the others are camped in a large open field, with no protection at all from the sun.

The condition of these people indicates clearly the fate of those who have left and are about to leave from here. I believe nothing has been heard from any of them as yet, and probably very little will be heard. The system that is being followed seems to be to have bands of Kurds awaiting them on the road, to kill the men especially, and, incidentally, some of the others. The entire movement seems to be the most thoroughly organised and effective massacre this country has ever seen.

Not many men have been spared, however, to accompany those who are being sent into exile, for a more prompt and sure method has been used to dispose of them. Several thousand Armenian men have been arrested during the past few weeks. These have been put in prison, and each time that several hundred had been gathered up in that way they were sent away during the night. The first batch were sent away during the night of the 23rd June. Among them were some of the professors in the College and other prominent Armenians, including the Prelate of the Armenian Gregorian Church. There have been frequent rumours that all of these were killed, and there is little doubt that they were. All Armenian soldiers have likewise been sent away in the same manner. They have been arrested and confined in a building at one end of the town. No distinction has been made between those who had paid their military exemption-tax and those who had not. Their money was accepted, and then they were arrested and sent off with the others. It was said that they were to go somewhere to work on the roads, but no one had heard from them, and that is undoubtedly false.

The fate of all the others has been pretty well established by reliable reports of a similar occurrence on Wednesday, the 7th July. On the Monday many men were arrested, both at H. and G., and put in prison. At daybreak on the Tuesday morning they were taken out and made to march towards an almost uninhabited mountain. There were about eight hundred in all, and they were roped together in groups of fourteen each. That afternoon they arrived in a small Kurdish village, where they were kept overnight in the mosque and other buildings. During all this time they were without food or water. All their money 264and much of their clothing had been taken from them. On the Wednesday morning they were taken to a valley a few hours distant, where they were all made to sit down. Then the gendarmes began shooting them, until they had killed nearly all of them. Some who had not been killed by bullets were then disposed of with knives and bayonets. A few succeeded in breaking the rope with which they were tied to their companions and running away, but most of these were pursued and killed. A few succeeded in getting away, probably not more than two or three. Among those who were killed was the treasurer of the College. Many other estimable men were among the number. No charge of any kind had ever been made against any of these men. They were simply arrested and killed as part of the general plan to dispose of the Armenian race.

Last night several hundred more men, including both men arrested by the civil authorities and those enrolled as soldiers, were taken in a different direction and murdered in a similar manner. It is said that this happened at a place not two hours distant from here. I shall ride out that way some day when things become a little quieter, and try to verify it for myself.

The same thing has been done systematically in the villages. A few weeks ago about three hundred men were gathered together at AT. and BG., two villages four and five hours distant from here, and then taken up into the mountains and massacred. This seems to be fully established. Many women from those villages have been here since and told about it. There have been rumours of similar occurrences in other places.

There seems to be a definite plan to dispose of all the Armenian men; but, after the departure of the families during the first few days of the enforcement of the order, it was announced that women and children with no men in the family might remain here for the present, and many hoped the worst was over. The American missionaries began considering plans to aid the women and children, who would be left here with no means of support. It was thought that perhaps an orphanage could be opened to care for some of the children, and especially those who had been born in America and then brought here by their parents, and also those who belonged to parents who had been connected in some way with the American mission and schools. There would be plenty of opportunity, although there might not be sufficient means, to care for children who reached here with the exiles from other vilayets, and whose parents had died on the way. I went to see the Vali about this matter yesterday, and was met with a flat refusal. He said we could aid these people if we wished to do so, but the Government was establishing orphanages for the children, and we could not undertake any work of that nature. An hour after I left the Vali, the announcement was made that all the Armenians remaining here, including women and children, must leave on the 13th July.

265

66. H.: MEMORANDUM[86] FORWARDED BY A FOREIGN RESIDENT AT H. (THE AUTHOR OF THE PRECEDING REPORT); COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

On the 1st June[87], 3,000 people (mostly women, girls and children) left H., accompanied by seventy policemen and a certain Turk of influence, K. Bey. The next day they arrived at AL., safely. Here K. Bey took 400 liras from the people, “in order to keep it safe till their arrival at Malatia,” and promised to accompany them, for their protection, as far as Ourfa; but that same day he ran away with all the money.

The third day the convoy of exiles reached AM. There the Arabs and Kurds began to carry off the women and girls, and this went on till they reached the first railway station at Ras-ul-Ain, on the Bagdad line. The policemen given to them for their protection incited the half-savage tribes of the mountains to attack them in order to rob, kill and violate their women or else carry them away, and they themselves many times violated the women openly.

The fourth day they arrived at AN., where the policemen killed three of the prominent men. The ninth day they came to AO., where the horses, hired and paid for in full for the journey as far as Malatia, were taken and sent back. So they had again to hire ox-carts to carry them to Malatia. Here many were left without any beast of burden, only a few being able to buy donkeys and mules, which were also stolen in their turn.

At AO., a policeman carried off Mrs. L. and her two daughters and ran away.

The thirteenth day the caravan was at Malatia, but for one hour only, for they returned to the village of AP., two hours from Malatia. Here the policemen deserted them altogether, after taking from them about 200 liras in toll for the protection they had given them that far, and the people were left to the mercy of the beastly Bey (claw-chief) of the Kurds of Aghja-Daghi.

On the fifteenth day they were again toiling on their way through the steep mountains, when the Kurds rounded up 150 of the men of all ages from fifteen to ninety years. They took them some distance off and butchered them; then they came back and began to rob the people.

That day another convoy of exiles (only 300 of whom were men) from Sivas[88], Egin and Tokat, joined the convoy from H., thus forming a bigger convoy of 18,000 people in all. They started again on the seventeenth day, under the so-called protection of another Kurdish Bey. This Bey called out his people, who attacked the convoy and plundered them. They carried off five of the prettiest girls and a few Sisters of Grace from Sivas. At night some more girls were stolen, but they were returned after being violated. So the journey began once more, and on 266the way the pretty girls were carried off one by one, while the stragglers from the convoy were invariably killed. On the twenty-fifth day they reached the village of Geulik, and all the villagers pursued the convoy for a long distance, tormenting and robbing the exiles. On the thirty-second day they found themselves at the village of Kiakhta. Here they remained two days, and again many girls and women were carried off.

On the fortieth day the convoy came in sight of the river Mourad, a branch of the Euphrates. Here they saw the bodies of more than 200 men floating in the river, with traces of blood and blood-stained fezes, clothes and stockings on the banks.

The chief of the neighbouring village took one lira in toll from each man, as a ransom for not being thrown into the river.

On the fifty-second day they arrived at another village, and here the Kurds took from them everything they had, even their shirts and drawers, so that for five days the whole convoy marched completely naked under the scorching sun. For another five days they did not have a morsel of bread, nor even a drop of water. They were scorched to death by thirst. Hundreds upon hundreds fell dead on the way, their tongues were turned to charcoal, and when, at the end of the five days, they reached a fountain, the whole convoy naturally rushed towards it. But here the policemen barred the way and forbade them to take a single drop of water. Their purpose was to sell it at from one to three liras the cup, and sometimes they actually withheld the water after getting the money. At another place, where there were wells, some women threw themselves into them, as there was no rope or pail to draw up the water. These women were drowned, and, in spite of that, the rest of the people drank from that well, the dead bodies still remaining there and stinking in the water. Sometimes, when the wells were shallow and the women could go down into them and come out again, the other people would rush to lick or suck their wet, dirty clothes, in the effort to quench their thirst.

When they passed an Arab village in their naked condition, the Arabs pitied them and gave them old pieces of clothes to cover themselves with. Some of the exiles who still had money bought some clothes; but some still remained who travelled thus naked all the way to the city of Aleppo. The poor women could hardly walk for shame; they walked all bent double.

Even in their nakedness they had found some means of preserving the little money they had. Some kept it in their hair, some in their mouths and some in their wombs; and when the robbers attacked them some were clever enough to search for money in those secret places, and that in a very beastly manner, of course.

On the sixtieth day, when they reached Viran Shehr, only 300 exiles remained out of all the 18,000. On the sixty-fourth day they gathered together all the men and the sick women 267and children and burned and killed them all. The remainder were ordered to continue on their way. In one day’s journey they reached Ras-ul-Ain, where for two days, for the first time since they started, the Government gave them bread. The bread was uneatable, but for the three succeeding days they did not have even that.

Here a Circassian persuaded the wife of the Pastor of Sivas, as well as some other women, with their children, to go with him to the station, promising to send them to Aleppo by train. In spite of all the warnings of their friends, these women followed the man, as they and their children were no longer capable of finishing the journey on foot. The man took them in the opposite direction from the station, explaining that he would borrow money from his friend, near by, for the tickets; but after a short time he came back to where the convoy was halted. The women and their children were no more.

The governor of the place demanded three liras for himself and one lira for the railway ticket from each of them, before he would let them go by train.

On the seventieth day, when they reached Aleppo, 35 women and children were left out of the 3,000 exiles from H., and 150 women and children altogether out of the whole convoy of 18,000.


86. Name of author withheld.

87. July?—Editor.

88. See Doc. 78.

268

67. H.: NARRATIVE OF AN ARMENIAN REFUGEE FROM H.; COMMUNICATED TO LORD BRYCE BY THE CORRESPONDENT OF THE LONDON “TIMES” AT BUKAREST.

Much has been written in the Press about the Armenian massacres, and especially about the horrors of the wholesale deportations, by which the Armenians were forcibly removed from their native homes. At the same time no precise or concrete description has yet been given of the monstrous excesses of which the Armenian nation has been the victim. But a young Armenian, an eye-witness who escaped by a miracle from the atrocious butchery at H., has related to us in all their appalling detail the events that took place at this town. His narrative gives a clear idea of the enormity and the ignoble cruelty of the crime committed, not only at H., but in all the other provinces of Armenia. We can easily discern from these facts the criminal tactics of the Young Turkish Government.

“At H.,” says this witness, “the deportation of the Armenians lasted three months. In June the most prominent members of the Dashnaktzoutioun Committee were arrested, including Messrs. DE., DE., DG., DH., and DJ., as well as various others. They were subjected to unheard-of tortures, to extract from them supposed secrets concerning the alleged project of an Armenian revolution. No result was obtained from this inquisition.

“The Armenian population was simple enough to believe that this harsh persecution was only directed against the members of the Dashnaktzoutioun Committee, and it therefore displayed no uneasiness on its own account. But shortly afterwards the arrests were extended in scope and began to assume formidable proportions. All the Armenian young men in the town were arrested and terrorised by infernal torments. About 13,000 Armenian soldiers, too, who were serving among the Ottoman troops at H., were stripped of their arms and transferred to the “Red Palace” at G. They were kept there under stringent guard, and hunger and thirst were left to do their work upon them. The friends and relations of the prisoners were rigorously debarred from any communication with them. A week later all the prisoners were brought out again and despatched to an unknown destination, under a strong escort of gendarmerie with fixed bayonets. They were told that they were going to be transported to Ourfa, to work on the roads and lines of communication, but when they reached BP. Han, near BQ. village, they were all shot and their corpses shovelled into a great trench, which had been specially prepared for them. The majority of the young Armenians who were treated in this way were pupils of the American College, the French College, and the Central Armenian School. Other prisoners were subsequently led away in the same direction in gangs of five and shot. Twenty of these 269unfortunates succeeded by a miracle in escaping, and have related the details of this awful butchery.

“Next came the turn of the imprisoned members of the Dashnaktzoutioun Committee; but they had guessed the fate that was awaiting them and offered a desperate resistance, which ended in their setting fire to the building in which they were confined, since they preferred being burnt alive to becoming the prey of Turkish barbarity. (There were from twenty-five to thirty of these Dashnakists, but the young refugee was ignorant of their names, with the exception of those which we have mentioned above.)

“In July all Armenian families of any standing in G. were compelled to emigrate. The arrests of the young men had been effected at night time, but the deportation of these wealthy families was carried out in full daylight.

“These exiles from G. were taken to the villages of AN. and AO. On their way they were overtaken by a gendarme riding post-haste with an order from the Vali, which directed the return of a score of individuals among the party. These individuals were taken a distance of twenty kilometres and then slaughtered without pity, like cattle, on the banks of a river and their corpses thrown into the water. As for the rest, the men were separated from the women and cruelly murdered by blows of the axe. The women and girls were carried off by the Kurds and Turks.

“This was followed by the general deportation. The people were deported in several convoys, and in different directions. These convoys were massacred openly and without discrimination, some below the hill of AU., others on the summit of BR. Hill and on Mount BS.

“A few men and women in the service of the Turkish and Kurdish beys were allowed to live until the end of the harvest. The compulsory emigration was even forced upon Armenians who had been converts to Islam since the massacres of 1895. These were deported in October.

“All the professors and schoolmasters were also imprisoned and subsequently assassinated, at the same time as the young men. Those, however, who were connected with German institutions were happily excepted.

“The American Consul did not see fit to intervene in favour of these unfortunates—not even when they were American citizens. We do not know the motive of this passive attitude of his.

“Out of a numerous convoy of exiles from Erzeroum and Erzindjan, nothing but a handful of women and children succeeded in reaching H., after abandoning on their way many of their number who could no longer bear up against the misery and starvation. Those who have reached H. are in an absolutely deplorable condition. They hardly look like human beings, and roam about the streets seeking for a morsel of dry bread, 270until they fall fainting from exhaustion and are picked up next day half dead by the municipal scavenger carts. These scenes are repeated daily.

“The massacre of the entire population of the Province of Sivas has been effected in the same fashion. Everywhere one passes corpses lying unburied in the open. On my journey I saw heart-rending incidents—women in their last agony lying on the ground with their sucklings, already dead, beside them.

“The Turkish and Kurdish villages are full of Armenian women and girls. Some of the villagers have taken possession of dozens of them. Eimen, the head of the ‘German Oriental Mission,’ remarks, as if that completely justified everything, that now the Armenians will realise for the future the serious consequences of conspiring against Germany and her Allies. A considerable number of Armenians from H. and the neighbourhood have taken refuge among the mountains of Dersim, where the native Kurdish mountaineers have offered them generous hospitality.”

Another Armenian, who succeeded in escaping from Der-el-Zor, in Arabia, describes the miseries endured there by the Armenian women. They are not only suffering from the ravages of disease, but from the lawlessness of the Arabs, who come again and again to snatch victims for their bestial lust.

271

68. MAMOURET-UL-AZIZ: NARRATIVE OF AN ARMENIAN LADY DEPORTED FROM C. (A PLACE HALF-AN-HOUR’S DISTANCE FROM H.), DESCRIBING HER JOURNEY FROM C. TO RAS-UL-AIN; WRITTEN AFTER HER ESCAPE FROM TURKEY, AND DATED ALEXANDRIA, 2nd NOVEMBER, 1915; PUBLISHED IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL “GOTCHNAG” OF NEW YORK. 8th JANUARY, 1916.

Shortly after last Easter (1915), the Turkish officials searched the Armenian churches and schools of G., H., C., AQ., AR., AS. and the surrounding villages, but without finding anything incriminating. Afterwards they took the keys of these buildings, and filled them with soldiers. They also searched private houses on the pretence of looking for arms and ammunition, but they did not find anything. After that the Town Crier announced that all arms were to be handed over to the Government, and by this means a number of arms were collected.

After that, they arrested from the town of C. the following persons: Professor B., Mr. H. and his brother J., Mr. O. and his son P., Mr. Q., the brothers R., the brothers S., and T. Effendi, as well as many others, old and young. They took them to the house of V. Agha, stripped them one by one and gave them 300 lashes on their backs. When they fainted, they threw them into a stable and waited until they had revived, in order to beat them again. The men who performed these cruel acts consisted of the following Turks: Commissary (Gendarme) W. Effendi the son of Commissary X., V. Agha, V.’s cousin Y., Z. Agha, Hadji CA. Bey the son of CB. Effendi, CD., and CE. the son of V. Agha. Among the Kurds implicated were the son of CF., CG., etc. The above-mentioned CF.’s son and another Kurd beat Mr. CH. until he was half dead.

After beating T. Effendi in H., and tearing out his finger nails and the flesh of his hands and feet, they put a rope under his arms, dragged him to C., and threw him into prison. Then they entered his house, and, on the pretence of searching it, made his wife, who was in indifferent health, lie on the ground; a soldier sat on her, and they began to beat her on her feet, asking her where they had hidden their arms. After a few days her husband died in the prison.

In C. they beat many young men to get their arms, so that they were obliged to buy arms from the Turks and give them to the Government[89].

When the Government was convinced that they had no more arms to surrender, they stopped tormenting them; but after a few days’ interval they took the young men to G., imprisoned them there for a time, and then deported them in May. Meanwhile the women of C. went to the German missionary, Dr. U., at G. and begged him to defend them. Dr. U. came to C. and spoke in a church; he advised the Armenians to trust the Turks absolutely.

272When I was in C. I heard that in H. they had beaten CI. Agha, who subsequently disappeared.

They plucked out the hair and nails of some of the professors. They dug out their eyes and branded them with red hot irons, so that some of them died immediately, and others first lost their reason and died thereafter.

The Bishop of H., CJ., and other prominent Armenians were imprisoned and suffered many cruelties.

On Friday, the 2nd July, they deported part of the Armenians of G. Their destination appeared to be Ourfa via Diyarbekir.

On Saturday, the 3rd July, they deported all Armenians domiciled in the houses belonging to CL. in A. Street, in the town of G. Again their destination was supposed to be Ourfa, but via Malatia in this case.

We ourselves were deported on the 4th July in the direction of Ourfa via Diyarbekir.

The Town Crier proclaimed that on the following Tuesday those from B. and C. Streets in the Town of H. would be deported, on Wednesday the Armenians from AQ., on Thursday those from AR., and so on.

CJ. and two hundred other Armenians were deported ten days before we were, that is on Wednesday, the 23rd June; we do not know their destination. Their party started at midnight. Some of them dropped cards asking for money, and at AT. money was conveyed to them. But the following Monday, the 28th June, when the Armenian women of AT. went to the river, they saw some Turkish women washing blood-stained clothes. The Armenian women took the clothes from the Turkish women and brought them to the Governor at G. The Governor on hearing this went to AT. and found that the Bishop and the 200 Armenians had been killed.

Up to the day we started, the Syrians had not yet been deported, and the women who had no husbands were also allowed to remain, but later on CK. Aghassi said that not a single Armenian would be left. After the Armenians were deported, the Government locked their houses and sealed them up. The men of CL.’s factory were also deported with their families. In C. some of the tradesmen were not deported, as, for example, CM. Agha the son of CN. Agha, the baker CO. and his family, and the two brothers, CP. and CQ. Aghas, the sons of Q. Agha. CQ. Agha became a Moslem, while the father was deported with the Bishop.

All the people of C. started the same day. I think we were about 600 families. We had with us all our cattle and all our property. The first night we reached AU. and slept that night in the fields. The next day we passed many corpses heaped together under bridges and on the road; their blood had collected in pools. Probably these were the Armenians that were killed 273with the Bishop, for the corpses were all those of men. We spent the night near AV. in a valley, and that night we had to drink water polluted with blood. We promised our guards money if they took us a better road and gave us clean water. The third day they again made us travel past corpses, and on Wednesday we reached A.

The same morning the gendarmes that were accompanying us, W. Effendi and the other Turkish effendis that were with him, put down their chairs in front of our han, and sat down. Then they turned to us and told us that they had received telegrams from H., and that instead of going to Ourfa some of us would go to Yermag and the rest to Severeg, so that our journey would thus be shortened. “Only it is necessary,” they added, “that your men should come and register themselves at the han at A., and state which way they would like to go. Thank the Sultan, who has made your journey shorter.” After these words they all clapped their hands and forced us to do the same. Our men, being simple-minded, were deceived, and they even left their hats and coats to go to the han in question. None of those that went returned. Then the rest of those above 16 years of age and all the old men were arrested and taken to the same place. After this the gendarmes beat the women and forced them to continue their journey. The women said: “We will not go unless our men go with us. You may kill us if you want to.” But the Turkish officials told us that our men would follow us in a little while, and forced the women and children to march on, so they marched on crying and wailing. After half-an-hour’s journey they made us sit in the fields, and all the Turkish officers returned to A. except one. The same day some Arab women (that is, Armenian gipsies) brought us bread, in spite of the officers’ efforts to prevent them, and when they heard that we were crying because our men had been killed, they told us that they had seen them all passing by roped together. Again we went on under the hot burning sun, still crying. The sixth day they made us stop in a Kurdish village, where we spent the night. Next morning we saw that all the gendarmes that had returned to A. had now rejoined the convoy.

Then Gendarme W. Effendi and the other Turks with him beat us and forced us under threat of death to give them all our money and ornaments. They said that, if we did not give them up, they would violate us and exile us to different places. We were afraid, and gave them everything we had. Then they gave us back from five piastres (1Od.) to one medjidia (3s. 2d.) each, at the same time stating that our money and everything else would be returned to us at Diyarbekir, and that they had only taken our jewellery and money for safety.

The ninth day, they took us to the top of a mountain, and the same Effendi and the other gendarmes searched us all over in a shameful manner; they took all the silk-stuffs and everything 274else of value in our clothes and bedding. Half-an-hour later we reached a Kurdish village. There I met a Turkish soldier from Malatia, called CR., whom I knew. He pitied me, and told me that it was all over with us. “I would advise you,” he said, “to leave your company and look after yourself.”

We were already within a short distance of Diyarbekir when two soldiers came from the Governor, to find out where we had been during the last nine days. Here the gendarmes that were with us took away all our cows and cattle; they also kidnapped one woman and two girls. Outside the walls of Diyarbekir, we had to sit in the burning sun for 24 hours. That same day a number of Turks came from the city and kidnapped our little girls. Towards evening again we went on, still crying; more Turks came to carry off our girls and young brides, and would not let us even open our mouths to protest. Then we left all our cattle and everything we had, to save our honour and our lives. It was already night when the Turks from Diyarbekir attacked us three times and carried off the girls and young brides who had fallen behind. After this we lost all sense of time. The next morning again the gendarmes searched us all over, and then made us march six hours. During these six hours we found no drinking water, and many women sank on the way from thirst and hunger. The third day after that they robbed us, and violated us near a place where there was water. Some days after, two Turks dressed in white coats followed us, and, every time they had a chance, carried off still more of our girls. The wife of CS. Effendi from C. had three daughters, one of whom was married. A coloured gendarme who was with us wanted to take these girls. The mother resisted, and was thrown over a bridge by one of the Turks. The poor woman broke her arm, but her mule-driver dragged her up again. Again the same Turks threw her down, with one of her daughters, from the top of the mountain. The moment the married daughter saw her mother and sister thrown down, she thrust the baby in her arms upon another woman, ran after them crying “Mother, mother!” and threw herself down the same precipice. Some said that one of the Turkish officers went down after them and finished them off. After that Mrs. CS.’s remaining daughter and I disguised ourselves, and, each taking a child in our arms, abandoned everything and walked to Mardin. There our party joined us again. We stayed there eight days. There was an artificial lake there, and every night they opened the sluices and flooded the ground, so that in the panic they might kidnap some of the girls. They also attacked us every night and kidnapped little children. At last, one evening, they drove us on again and left us among the mountains. They wounded a woman because she did not wish to give up her daughter. When they were going to carry off another girl, I asked CT. Tchaoush, a Mardin man, to help us. He stopped them at once, and did 275not let them take her away. He told us to stay there and not to start until further notice. The Kurds from the surrounding villages attacked us that night. CT. Tchaoush, who was in charge of us, immediately went up on to the heights and harangued them in Kurdish, telling them not to attack us. We were hungry and thirsty, and had no water to drink. CT. took some of our vessels and brought us water from a long way off. The wife of my brother-in-law, the tailor CU., had a baby born that night. The next morning we started again. CT. left some women with her and kept an eye on her from a distance. Then he put the mother and the new-born child on a beast, and brought her to us in safety. Again we marched six hours without water. Here a Turk kidnapped the son of the woman who had been thrown down the mountain side. Finally, in the last stages of hunger and exhaustion, we reached Viran Shehr. Many had already been left on the road.

We had nothing more to eat until we reached Ras-ul-Ain. A fourth part of our convoy had already perished of starvation. Just before reaching Ras-ul-Ain we marched through the whole of one night. We passed three wells choked with corpses up to the brim. The women that went before us encountered three wounded women who crawled out of these wells and asked for bread. These three women went on in our company towards Ras-ul-Ain. Two of them died on the way, and the third was sent to Der-el-Zor with the convoy. It was here that CV., the sister of CW., a girl about 18 or 19 years old, fell down because she could not walk any further. Her mother and sister-in-law kissed her, crying, and left her. We were forced to leave her by herself, because the soldiers would not let any one stay behind with her.

We did not see a single Armenian until we reached Ras-ul-Ain. There we found many deported Armenians who had come from Erzeroum, Egin, Keghi, and other places. They were all on their way to Der-el-Zor. At Ras-ul-Ain we suddenly met CX. Agha of H. He had come from Aleppo to help us. He wanted to save at least a few of the party and take them to Aleppo. He advised us to go to the house of CY. Bey, a Circassian, or to the house of his son-in-law, so that he might convey us into safety from there. At Ras-ul-Ain a great many of the Armenians found refuge in the houses of some Tchetchens (a tribe akin to the Circassians), but afterwards the Government removed them all from the Tchetchens’ houses to deport them to Der-el-Zor. Only my batch, consisting of forty-one people, were left in the house of this CY. Bey, and we were safe here because the Bey and his friends were Government people. The first moment that we saw CX. Agha we thought we had seen an angel from Heaven, and cried to him: “CX. Agha, save us.” When the Tchetchens heard his name, they discovered that he was an Armenian, and immediately attacked him. He was almost killed, but withstood them by his bravery and address; he told them that he had been sent 276there specially by the Government, and turning immediately to us, he gave us to understand that those who went to CY. Bey’s house would be saved.

CX. Agha took the next train and returned to Aleppo. He tried every means to save us, and after fifteen days he came back. The Circassians (or Tchetchens) endeavoured to force us to become Moslems, but we answered them: “We will throw ourselves into the water and die, but we will not become Moslems.” The Tchetchens were surprised at these words, and said they had never seen people like this, so zealous for their honour and their religion and so devoted to each other. CX. Agha found this out and went to the chief of the Tchetchens; he bribed him, and then, with superb courage, conducted us to the railway one by one, the station being about two miles from where we were. It was Saturday evening when we reached Aleppo. Here for the first time we met some Armenian soldiers, who were almost crazy with joy when they saw us. We could hardly believe they were Armenians, until CX. Agha’s father came after dark with some of these soldiers, carrying no lights, and took us to the Armenian Church. There they told us that if the Government should discover us and inquire how we came, we were to tell them that we had travelled at our own expense. They immediately brought us bread; we had not eaten anything for twenty-four hours. There were a number of deported Armenians in the Church; they came from different places and had been travelling for four months. They were so exhausted that about forty of them were dying every day. The priest who performed the ceremony could not drag himself home. From the deported Armenians in Aleppo we learned that the husbands of many of the women had been roped together and taken to Sheitan Deressi (Devil’s Valley)[90], where they were slaughtered with axes and knives. Here we gave up all hope of seeing our husbands again, being convinced that they were all killed. We heard that in some places they made the Armenians dig their own graves before they killed them. An Armenian soldier from Tchemesh-Getzak told me that the Turks were killing the Armenians and throwing them into the Euphrates, when six of them managed to cross the river and get away, after three days’ journey through country littered with corpses.

On Sunday morning I went to see the American Consul at Aleppo, and asked him to save me, as I was an American citizen. He asked me where my papers were. I told him they were taken from me on the way; I told him all the circumstances, and he promised to help me. I went to him again the next day and told him how my parents were American citizens, and my husband also, and how my husband had lived in America for 18 years; I told him he could prove it by asking the American Consul at H. or even the Washington Government. After five 277days had passed, he sent for me and made me tell my story in the Turkish language. He put my name in his book, and placed me in his kavass’s house. Then he gave me a passport and sent me to Alexandretta in the company of some Russian subjects. We stayed fifteen days in Alexandretta. From there we reached Alexandria on board the American cruiser “Chester,” on the 22nd September, 1915.

While I was in Ras-ul-Ain, we saw some Armenian girls in the houses of some Tchetchens. One of them was married to one of the Tchetchens. They begged us not to forget them if we were ever saved. J. Agha’s wife and children reached Ras-ul-Ain. A Kurd came and said to them: “I am from the village of Karer; you come with me, and I will take you to Karer until the end of the war.” They believed him, and went to his house. Afterwards CX. Agha tried to save them, but they had already gone. H. Agha’s wife and three daughters went to Der-el-Zor.

The Turkish Government did not provide any food for us on the way; one day only, at Diyarbekir, they gave us one loaf each, and again for about eight days at Mardin, but the bread was so hard that it cut our mouths. The son of Prof. B., his married daughter, and his future daughter-in-law, as well as the wife and two daughters of Mr. CZ., reached Aleppo in safety. CC. Agha’s daughter and his little boy were kidnapped by the Turks. Only two of the boys were left with the mother, who reached Aleppo safely. Besides the gendarmes, Kurdish irregulars also followed us on the way, to kill those that were left behind. The clothes of those who underwent this deportation were all rotted by the end of the journey, and the exiles themselves had almost lost their reason. When they were given new clothes they did not know how to put them on, and when their hair was washed it came off bodily from their scalps.

278

69. H.: STATEMENT BY THE PRINCIPAL OF THE COLLEGE, DATED 19th JULY, 1915; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

I shall try to banish from my mind for the time the sense of great personal sorrow at losing hundreds of my friends here, and also my sense of utter defeat in being so unable to stop the awful tragedy or even mitigate to any degree its severity, and compel myself to give you concisely some of the cold facts of the past months, as they relate themselves to the College. I do so with the hope that the possession of these concrete facts may help you to do something there for the handful of dependants still left to us here.

Building.s—Seven of our big buildings are in the hands of the Government, only one remaining in our hands. The seven buildings in question are empty, except for twenty guards who are stationed there. I cannot tell you exactly the amount of loss we have sustained in money by robberies, breakages and other means, and there is no sign that the Turks will ever return these buildings to us.

Constituency.—Approximately two-thirds of the girl pupils and six-sevenths of the boys have been taken away to death, exile or Moslem homes.

Professors.—Four gone, three left, as follows:—

Professor A.—Served College 35 years; representative of the Americans with the Government, Protestant “Askabed,” Professor of Turkish and History. Besides previous trouble, arrested May 1st without charge; hair of head, moustache and beard pulled out, in vain effort to secure damaging confessions; starved and hung by arms for a day and a night, and severely beaten several times; taken out towards Diyarbekir about June 20th, and murdered in general massacre on the road.

Professor B.—Served College 33 years, studied at Ann Arbor, Professor of Mathematics. Arrested about June 5th, and shared Prof. A.’s fate on the road.

Professor C.—Taken to witness a man beaten almost to death; became mentally deranged; started with his family about July 5th into exile under guard, and murdered beyond Malatia. Principal of Preparatory Department; studied at Princeton; served College 20 years.

Professor D.—Served College 16 years, studied at Edinburgh; Professor of Mental and Moral Science. Arrested with Prof. A. and suffered same tortures; also had three finger nails pulled out by the roots; killed in same massacre.

Professor E.—Served College 25 years. Arrested May 1st; not tortured, but sick in prison; sent to Red Crescent Hospital, and after paying large bribes is now free.

279Professor F.—Served College for over 15 years, studied in Stuttgart and Berlin, Professor of Music. Escaped arrest and torture, and thus far escaped exile and death, because of favour with the Kaimakam secured by personal services rendered.

Professor G.—Served College about 15 years, studied at Cornell and Yale (M.S.), Professor of Biology. Arrested about June 5th, beaten about the hands, body and head with a stick by the Kaimakam himself, who, when tired, called on all who loved religion and the nation to continue the beating; after a period of insensibility in a dark closet, taken to the Red Crescent Hospital with a broken finger and serious bruises. Now free.

Instructors, Male.—Four reported killed on the road in various massacres, whose average term of service is eight years.

Three not heard from, probably killed on the road; average term of service in the College, four years.

Two sick in the American Hospital.

One elsewhere.

One, engaged in cabinet work for the Kaimakam, free.

One, owner of house occupied by the Kaimakam, free.

Instructors, Female.—One reported killed in F.; served the College over 20 years.

One reported taken to a Turkish harem.

Three not heard from.

Four started out as exiles.

Ten free.

Total Loss.—About seven-eighths of the buildings, three-quarters of the students, and half the teaching staff.

Of the Armenian people as a whole we may estimate that three-fourths are gone, and this three-fourths includes the leaders in every walk of life—merchants, professional men, preachers, bishops and government officials. And there is no certainty for those who are just now free. The Vali has said that all must go. It is only temporary measures, such as bribes or special favours, that have secured postponement. Since we know the fate to which they go, since we have seen the pitiable plight of the stragglers who have survived the journey from Erzindjan and Erzeroum, since we find ourselves forbidden to aid them except in insignificant ways, and since we are forbidden to accompany them to aid them on the way, we are the more eager, if possible, to save those who are left with us.

It seems to us possible that something can be done to save these few. Permission has recently been obtained through the German Embassy for those connected with the German Mission, teachers and their families, orphans and servants, a circle of several hundred, to remain in G. I therefore beg of you to take what steps are possible to secure the permission through our Ambassador for the handful of dependants still with us to remain in H.

280If such permission is not secured, we shall probably be called upon to see the very members of our households dragged off to decorate the harems of those who have not as yet secured as many girl slaves as they wish. Nothing can be done locally. The Kaimakam and his coterie in H. are more powerful here than the Vali, and take pleasure in flaunting our impotence in our faces.

I have said enough. Our hearts are sick with these sights and stories of abject terror and suffering. The extermination of the race seems to be the objective, and the means employed are more fiendish than could be concocted locally. The orders are from headquarters, and any reprieve must be from the same source.

281

70. H.: STATEMENT BY THE PRINCIPAL OF THE COLLEGE, DATED 19th JULY, 1915, RELATING TO THE DEPORTATION OF ARMENIANS FROM VILLAGES IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF H.; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

From the village of E., 212 individuals set out, of whom 128 (60 per cent.) reached Aleppo alive; 56 men and 11 women were killed on the road, 3 girls and 9 boys were sold or kidnapped, and 5 people were missing.

From the same place another party of 696 people were deported; 321 (46 per cent.) reached Aleppo; 206 men and 57 women were killed en route; 70 girls and young women and 19 boys were sold; 23 were missing.

From the village of D. a party of 128 were deported, of whom 32 (25 per cent.) reached Aleppo alive; 24 men and 12 women were killed en route; 29 girls and young women and 13 boys were sold; and 18 were missing.

282

71. H.: LETTER DATED 10th NOVEMBER, 1915, FROM THE PRINCIPAL OF THE COLLEGE AT H. TO MR. N. AT CONSTANTINOPLE; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

The difficulty of securing local permission to start out for America, as well as the scarcity of wagons, has delayed our party for some days. We have been grateful, in the meantime, that we have heard from you approving our plans. We hope to start in a day or two. We do not anticipate the journey with relish, but we feel that it will be better to go now than to wait. I am apprehensive for those who stay, though nothing definite threatens citizens of our country at present.

Following your circulars of information as to the attitude of the authorities at the capital, we opened our girls’ department two weeks ago, and planned soon to open the boys’ department also. The registration of the girls reached about 150, of which number about one-third are in the kindergarten. More than another third are boarders, mostly those who have been with us from the time school closed. There are very few day-pupils above primary age.

Last Thursday afternoon, the 4th November, a raid was suddenly made on the Armenian population. Men, women and children were arrested that afternoon in G. and taken to the police station. The next morning the same thing occurred here in H. Most of those arrested in H. were women and children, and they were nearly all of them released the same day, when they showed their papers. In G., however, many were kept over a day or two and then sent off on the road, probably to be butchered as other parties had been. The season is now so late that it is preposterous to suppose a safe journey to be possible when the exiles are allowed no preparation whatever. By far the largest number sent off seem to have been from the villages, where the people were pretty well cleared out. Estimates run as high as a thousand for those who were sent off in one night.

The panic resulting from this wholly unexpected raid can hardly be pictured. Those pupils who were coming to us from outside have stopped coming pretty largely, and many advise us to close the school. Those exiles who had managed in various ways to escape from the convoys and had settled down to normal life, are now plunged in terror. We have had to guard our gates and walls to prevent the public from pouring in on us.

During this recent event the Government has turned its attention to us once more. On Friday the police came, with a sufficient force, to arrest all the men on our premises. They were polite, but expressed the belief that we were hiding many. I went with the handful of men and boys available, and the next day my brother presented those who were not in evidence that day, and they were all sent back to our premises safely. The Commandant personally asked the Consul to write to us 283and warn us against harbouring any fugitives in our grounds. We assured him that it had been our settled policy all along to refuse such requests, and that we had no such persons with us. The Kaimakam refused to believe that we had no fugitives with us, but I think he has been persuaded more or less of the truth of this. Two of our teachers, who live in their own houses off from our compound, did not appear on Friday before the police. Afterwards, when they found that the others had been released, they also appeared. They were then put in prison, where they still remain. One of them, I hope, will soon be released, but I have fears for the other, because he was so intimately connected with the former Kaimakam, and there seems to be evidence against him that he was a tool in securing bribes for the said Kaimakam—of course under fear of death.

We have had frequent interviews with the Kaimakam and the Commandant, who is locum tenens for the Vali at present. Both of them have been courteous, and assure us that there are no further measures in store for those who have been allowed to stay by order of the Government. But our faith in such promises has been sadly shaken this summer. At two different times the Kaimakam has said that Armenian was no more to be taught in our schools. We have expressed our desire to make the language of the school English, and have assured him that we are working to that end.

As I wrote to you, our curriculum has been submitted to the Mearif, and has been largely approved verbally. We are still in correspondence over some minor details regarding texts. We shall not be able to open work for the few boys who are available at the present, and I confess my deep apprehension lest they and their male teachers should all be rounded up, to go the same road that their comrades followed in July.

It is hard for us to leave just at this juncture. Yet there seems no advantage in our staying compared with the difficulties of leaving later. We shall try to keep you informed of our curriculum.

285

VIII.
VILAYET OF TREBIZOND, AND SANDJAK OF
SHABIN KARA-HISSAR.

The Vilayet of Trebizond lies between Erzeroum and the Black Sea, and consists of a long, narrow littoral, shut off from its hinterland by a wall of mountains on the south. The town of Shabin Kara-Hissar is situated about seventy miles west of Baibourt, near the upper course of the Kelkid Irmak.

The population of this region is very mixed. The substratum is Lazic (a Caucasian race) and Greek; but advanced guards of the Kurdish migration have penetrated into the mountains overlooking the coast, while the towns and ports have been occupied, since the Ottoman conquest in the fifteenth century, by large colonies of Armenians and Turks, who lived there peaceably side by side for four centuries—until June, 1915.

The deportations began in the last week of that month. Their nominal destination was the same as that of the convoys from the Vilayet of Erzeroum, but in this case there seems never to have been any intention of conducting the Armenians alive to their journey’s end. At Trebizond, a number of them were herded on to boats and drowned in the open sea. Such convoys as started by land were massacred within a day’s journey of the city, and their fate was shared by the convoys from Kerasond. The Armenians of Shabin Kara-Hissar took warning, and resisted the Government’s decree. Troops were sent against them, and every Armenian in the town and district was put to the sword.

286

72. TREBIZOND: REPORT FROM A FOREIGN RESIDENT AT TREBIZOND, COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

Passages included between brackets are inserted from the version of the same document published in the brochure “Quelques Documents sur le Sort des Armeniens, 1915” (Geneva, 1915).

On Saturday, the 26th June, the proclamation regarding the deportation of all Armenians was posted in the streets. On Thursday, the 1st July, all the streets were guarded by gendarmes with fixed bayonets, and the work of driving the Armenians from their homes began. Groups of men, women and children, with loads and bundles on their backs, were collected in a short cross-street near my residence, and when a hundred or so had been gathered, they were driven past my residence on the road toward ——, in the heat and dust, by gendarmes with fixed bayonets. They were held outside the city until a group of about 2,000 had been collected, and then sent on. Three such groups, making about 6,000 altogether, were sent from here during the first three days; and smaller groups from —— and the vicinity, sent later, amounted to about 4,000 more.

The weeping and wailing of the women and children was most heart-rending. Some of these people were from wealthy and refined circles. Some were accustomed to luxury and ease. There were clergymen, merchants, bankers, lawyers, mechanics, tailors, and men from every walk of life. The Governor-General told me that they were allowed to make arrangements for carriages, but nobody seemed to be making any arrangements. I know of one wealthy merchant, however, who paid £15 Turkish (about £13 10s. sterling) for a carriage to take himself and wife to ——, and when he arrived at the station where they were being collected, at ——, about ten minutes’ distance from the city, they were commanded by the gendarmes to leave the carriage, which was sent back to the city.

The whole Mohammedan population knew that these people were to be their prey from the beginning, and they were treated as criminals. In the first place, from the date of the proclamation, the 25th June, no Armenian was allowed to sell anything, and everybody was forbidden, under penalty, to buy anything from them. How, then, were they to provide funds for the journey? For six or eight months there has been no business whatever in Trebizond, and people have been eating up their capital. Why should they have been prohibited from selling rugs or anything they had to sell, to secure the needed money for the journey? Many persons who had goods which they could have sold if they had been allowed to do so, were obliged to start off on foot without funds and with what they could gather up from their homes and carry on their backs. Such persons naturally 287soon became so weak that they fell behind and were bayoneted and thrown into the river, and their bodies floated down past Trebizond to the sea, or lodged in the shallow river on rocks, where they remained for ten or twelve days and putrefied, to the disgust of travellers who were obliged to pass that way. I have talked with eye-witnesses, who state that there were many naked bodies to be seen on snags in the river fifteen days after the affair occurred, and that the smell was something terrible.

On the 17th July, while I was out on a ride with a German resident, we came across three Turks digging a grave in the sand for a naked body which we saw in the river near by. The corpse looked as though it had been in the water for ten days or more. The Turks said they had just buried four more further up the river. Another Turk told us that a body had floated down the river and out into the sea a few moments before we arrived.

By the 6th July (Tuesday) all the Armenian houses in Trebizond, about 1,000, had been emptied of their inhabitants and the people sent off. There was no inquiry as to who were guilty or who were innocent of any movement against the Government. If a person was an Armenian, that was sufficient reason for his being treated as a criminal and deported. At first all were to go except the sick, who were taken to the municipal hospital until they were well enough to go. Later, an exception was made for old men and women, pregnant women, children, those in Government employment and members of the Roman Catholic Church. Finally it was decided that the old men and women and the Catholics must go too, and they were sent along towards the last. A number of lighters have been loaded with people at different times and sent off towards <Samsoun>. It is generally believed that such persons were drowned. During the early days, before the deportation commenced, a large caique or lighter was loaded with men supposed to be members of the Armenian Committee, and sent off towards <Samsoun>. Two days later, <a certain Vartan,> a Russian subject, who had been one of those who started in the boat, returned overland to Trebizond, badly wounded about the head and so crazy that he could not make himself understood. All he could say was “Boom, boom.” He was arrested by the authorities and taken to the municipal hospital, where he died the following day. A Turk said that this boat was met not far from Trebizond by another boat containing gendarmes, who proceeded to kill all the men and throw them overboard. They thought they had killed them all, but this Russian, who was big and powerful, was only wounded and swam ashore unnoticed. A number of such caiques have left Trebizond loaded with men, and usually they return empty after a few hours.

Totz, a village about two hours from Trebizond, is inhabited by Gregorian and Catholic Armenians and Turks. Here, according to a reliable witness, a wealthy and influential Armenian, 288<Boghos Marimian,> and his two sons were placed one behind the other and shot through. Forty-five men and women were taken a short distance from the village into a valley. <The wife and daughters of an Armenian named Artes>[91] were first outraged by the officers of the gendarmerie, and then turned over to the gendarmes to dispose of. According to this witness, a child was killed by beating its brains out on a rock. The men were all killed, and not a single person survived from this batch of forty-five.

The plan to save the children by placing them in schools or orphanages in Trebizond, under the care of a committee organized and supported by the Greek Archbishop, of which the Vali was president and the Archbishop vice-president, with three Mohammedan and three Christian members, has been abandoned, and the girls are now being given exclusively to Mohammedan families and thus scattered[92]. The suppression of the orphanages and the scattering of the children was a great disappointment to us and to the Greek Archbishop, who had worked hard for the plan and secured the support of the Vali; but <Nail Bey,> the local head of the Committee of Union and Progress, who was opposed to the plan, succeeded in thwarting it very quickly. Many of the boys appear to have been sent to ——, to be distributed among the farmers. The best looking of the older girls, who were retained as caretakers in these orphanages, are kept in houses for the pleasure of members of the gang which seems to rule affairs here. I hear on good authority that a member of the Committee of Union and Progress here has ten of the handsomest girls in a house in the central part of the city, for the use of himself and his friends. Some of the younger girls have been taken into respectable Mohammedan houses. Several of the former pupils of the American Mission are now in Mohammedan homes near the Mission, and have not been visited by <Nail Bey,> but of course the majority of them are not so fortunate.

The 1,000 Armenian houses are being emptied of furniture by the police one after the other. The furniture, bedding and everything of value is being stored in large buildings about the city. There is no attempt at classification, and the idea of keeping the property in “bales under the protection of the Government, to be returned to the owners on their return,” is simply ridiculous. The goods are piled in without any attempt at labelling or 289systematic storage. A crowd of Turkish women and children follow the police about like a lot of vultures, and seize anything they can lay their hands on, and when the more valuable things are carried out of a house by the police, they rush in and take the balance. I see this performance every day with my own eyes. I suppose it will take several weeks to empty all the houses, and then the Armenian shops and stores will be cleared out. The commission which has this matter in hand is now talking of selling this great collection of household goods and properties, in order to pay the debts of the Armenians. The German Consul told me that he did not believe the Armenians would be permitted to return to Trebizond, even after the end of the war.

<Arab merchants, under British protection, were included in the deportation, as well as all Armenians with Russian, Persian or Bulgarian passports. Ovhannes Arabian, the Dragoman of the British Consulate, could take nothing with him but the clothes he stood in.>

I have just been talking with a young man who has been performing his military service on the “inshaat tabouri” (construction regiment), working on the roads out toward Gumushkhané. He told me that 15 days ago all the Armenians, about 180, were separated from the other workmen, marched off some distance from the camp and shot. He heard the report of the rifles and later was one of the number sent to bury the bodies, which he stated were all naked, having been stripped of clothing.

A number of bodies of women and children have lately been thrown up by the sea upon the sandy beach below the walls of the Italian Monastery here in Trebizond, and were buried by Greek women in the sand where they were found.


89. See Docs. 82, 94 and 122.

90. See Doc. 9, page 21.

91. “The women.”—American version.

92. The origination of this plan is recorded in an earlier (undated) report from the same hand, from which the following sentences are a quotation:—

“The children attending the American school conducted by ——, also those children left with them by persons being deported, have all been taken and placed in a school organised by a local committee, of which the Vali is president and the Greek Metropolitan vice-president. Into this school all the Armenian children, females up to fifteen years and males to ten years of age, are being placed as soon as the parents are sent off. Children above these ages go with their parents.”

290

73. TREBIZOND: EXTRACTS FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH COMM. G. GORRINI, LATE ITALIAN CONSUL-GENERAL AT TREBIZOND[93]. OF ROME, 25th AUGUST, 1915.

For over four years I was Consul-General at Trebizond, with jurisdiction over practically the whole Black Sea littoral, from the Russo-Turkish frontier to the neighbourhood of Constantinople, and over five provinces in the interior of Asia Minor (Eastern Anatolia, Armenia and Kurdistan)—districts chiefly inhabited by Turks, Armenians and Kurds, with a considerable sprinkling of Persians, Russians, Greeks and Arabs. For the last ten months, moreover, I had also been responsible for the protection of the very numerous Russian subjects and Russian interests, as well as the Greek and Montenegrin, and also, to some extent, the French, the English, and the American, with others of minor account....

As for the present internal condition of the Ottoman Empire, I can only answer for my own district. In my district the present condition of things is almost desperate. The population is showing true Moslem resignation in the way it is bearing the existing situation—the ruin and desolation of individuals and community, the holocaust of all and everything for a war which no one desired, but which was forced upon them by Enver Pasha, and which will lead to the ruin and dismemberment of all that still remains of the Ottoman Empire. But the Moslem and Christian populations can do nothing more—they have reached the extreme limit of their effort. The oxygen is being administered by the Germans, who are trying to prolong the agony of the dying Empire, but will not be able to perform the miracle of restoring life to a corpse. Apart from a few lunatics, a speedy peace, even if it involves the foreign occupation of Ottoman territory, is the prayer of all. There is no courage for a rebellion. The Germans and the “Committee of Union and Progress” are hated and detested by all, but only in the intimacy of the heart and in confidential conversation, for the Germans and the Committee constitute the one genuine, solid organisation at present existing in Turkey—a masterly and most rigorous organisation, which does not hesitate to use any weapon whatever; an organisation of audacity, of terror, and of mysterious, ferocious revenge....

291As for the Armenians, they were treated differently in the different vilayets. They were suspect and spied upon everywhere, but they suffered a real extermination, worse than massacre, in the so-called “Armenian Vilayets.” There are seven of these, and five of them (including the most important and most thickly populated) unhappily for me formed part of my own Consular jurisdiction. These were the Vilayets of Trebizond, Erzeroum, Van, Bitlis and Sivas.

In my district, from the 24th June onwards, the Armenians were all “interned”—that is, ejected by force from their various residences and despatched under the guard of the gendarmerie to distant, unknown destinations, which for a few will mean the interior of Mesopotamia, but for four-fifths of them has meant already a death accompanied by unheard-of cruelties.

The official proclamation of internment came from Constantinople. It is the work of the Central Government and the “Committee of Union and Progress.” The local authorities, and indeed the Moslem population in general, tried to resist, to mitigate it, to make omissions, to hush it up. But the orders of the Central Government were categorically confirmed, and all were compelled to resign themselves and obey.

The Consular Body intervened, and attempted to save at least the women and children. We did, in fact, secure numerous exemptions, but these were not subsequently respected, owing to the interference of the local branch of the “Union and Progress Committee” and to fresh orders from Constantinople.

It was a real extermination and slaughter of the innocents, an unheard-of thing, a black page stained with the flagrant violation of the most sacred rights of humanity, of Christianity, of nationality. The Armenian Catholics, too, who in the past had always been respected and excepted from the massacres and persecutions, were this time treated worse than any—again by the orders of the Central Government. There were about 14,000 Armenians at Trebizond—Gregorians, Catholics, and Protestants. They had never caused disorders or given occasion for collective measures of police. When I left Trebizond, not a hundred of them remained.

From the 24th June, the date of the publication of the infamous decree, until the 23rd July, the date of my own departure from Trebizond, I no longer slept or ate; I was given over to nerves and nausea, so terrible was the torment of having to look on at the wholesale execution of these defenceless, innocent creatures.

The passing of the gangs of Armenian exiles beneath the windows and before the door of the Consulate; their prayers for help, when neither I nor any other could do anything to answer them; the city in a state of siege, guarded at every point by 15,000 troops in complete war equipment, by thousands of police agents, by bands of volunteers and by the members of the “Committee of Union and Progress”; the lamentations, the 292tears, the abandonments, the imprecations, the many suicides, the instantaneous deaths from sheer terror, the sudden unhingeing of men’s reason, the conflagrations, the shooting of victims in the city, the ruthless searches through the houses and in the countryside; the hundreds of corpses found every day along the exile road; the young women converted by force to Islam or exiled like the rest; the children, torn away from their families or from the Christian schools, and handed over by force to Moslem families, or else placed by hundreds on board ship in nothing but their shirts, and then capsized and drowned in the Black Sea and the River Deyirmen Deré—these are my last ineffaceable memories of Trebizond, memories which still, at a month’s distance, torment my soul and almost drive me frantic. When one has had to look on for a whole month at such horrors, at such protracted tortures, with absolutely no power of acting as one longed to act, the question naturally and spontaneously suggests itself, whether all the cannibals and all the wild beasts in the world have not left their hiding places and retreats, left the virgin forests of Africa, Asia, America and Oceania, to make their rendezvous at Stamboul. I should prefer to close our interview at this point, with the solemn asseveration that this black page in Turkey’s history calls for the most uncompromising reproach and for the vengeance of all Christendom. If they knew all the things that I know, all that I have had to see with my eyes and hear with my ears, all Christian powers that are still neutral would be impelled to rise up against Turkey and cry anathema against her inhuman Government and her ferocious “Committee of Union and Progress,” and they would extend the responsibility to Turkey’s Allies, who tolerate or even shield with their strong arm these execrable crimes, which have not their equal in history, either modern or ancient. Shame, horror and disgrace!

293

74. TREBIZOND: NARRATIVE OF THE MONTENEGRIN KAVASS OF THE LOCAL BRANCH OF THE OTTOMAN BANK, PUBLISHED IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL “AREV” OF ALEXANDRIA, 2nd OCTOBER, 1915.

The Kavass of the Local Branch of the Ottoman Bank at Trebizond, a Montenegrin, who left Trebizond in Signor Gorrini’s company[94] and is at the present moment in Cairo, has made the following statement to Mr. Malezian, Secretary of the General Armenian Union of Benevolence:—

“The very evening of the day on which the order arrived from Constantinople, they threw into the sea about forty of the intellectuals and the members of political parties, saying to them: ‘You are to be sent into exile by the sea route.’

“At the present moment there is not a single Armenian left at Trebizond except two employees of the Ottoman Bank, who will also be deported as soon as other persons arrive from Constantinople to take their place.

“Children have been converted to Islam and handed over to Mohammedan families. Those who cry and do not keep quiet have their throats cut.

“After the Armenians had gone, their houses were confiscated.

“The whole thing was organized by the members of the Committee of Union and Progress.

“The exiles were not allowed to take with them either money or clothes or provisions. Five hundred Armenian soldiers were disarmed, and then deported and massacred on the road. As for the other exiles, they must have been massacred without exception, for the news received from Djevizlik (a village six hours from Trebizond, on the one and only road leading to Gumushkhané) makes it certain that the exiles were seen passing that place in batches, while beyond Djevizlik no one has seen them pass. At the same time, the river Yel-Deyirmeni brought down every day to the sea a number of corpses, mutilated and absolutely naked, the women with their breasts cut off.”


93. Signor Gorrini left Trebizond on the 23rd July, 1915, in the interval between the Italian declarations of war against Austria-Hungary and against Turkey. He hired an open motor-launch with a Lazic skipper and crew, and took with him two servants and the Montenegrin Kavass of the locallocal branch of the Ottoman Bank. The coastwise voyage from Trebizond to Constantinople took seven days and nights. They touched at Kerasond, Samsoun, Sinope, Ineboli, Kidros, Zonguldak, Zacharia, Chilé and Faro d’Anatolia, without landing, however, at any of these places. From Constantinople Signor Gorrini travelled via Dedeagatch and Palermo to Rome, where he gave this interview to the representative of “Il Messaggero.”

94. “I hired the motor launch for myself and three members of my household, one of them a Montenegrin kavass who was under our protection.—The Italian Consul, Signor Gorrini, in the interview published in the Rome journal “Il Messaggero,” 25th August, 1915.

294

75. KERASOND (KIRESOUN), TREBIZOND AND SHABIN KARA-HISSAR: EVIDENCE COLLECTED BY AN ARMENIAN GENTLEMAN FROM EYE-WITNESSES NOW IN ROUMANIA; COMMUNICATED BY THE CORRESPONDENT OF THE LONDON “TIMES” AT BUKAREST.

Kerasond.—Much has been written lately about the Armenian massacres in Turkey, but it is only now that we are receiving more precise and detailed information, from eye-witnesses who, by some means or other, have escaped the scene of the most horrible atrocities ever known in this world.

The atrocities of Kerasond are described by a prominent Greek of that town, who succeeded in obtaining a passage on board a Greek ship bound for Roumania with a cargo of nuts. On her voyage across the Black Sea, this ship was met by two Russian torpedo boats, which took on board the crew and this gentleman among them, sank the ship, transported the crew to Sevastopol, and there set them free. This gentleman had been an eye-witness of all that happened in Kerasond, and he describes the atrocities as follows:—

“It is impossible to express in words the humiliations and atrocities that the Armenians of Kerasond have had to undergo. One morning the Government announced, through the public crier, that every male Armenian, old or young, must immediately go to the Government Building, where an important communication was to be made to them. Those who neglected to comply with this order were threatened with imprisonment. The Armenians obeyed, as there was no alternative in a town where they were in minority; but as soon as they had arrived at the Government Building, they were surrounded by hundreds of gendarmes and driven straight to prison. At mid-day their families, seeing that nobody returned, collected together and went in a body to the Government Building. They demanded that their husbands should be set free. The gendarmes replied with the bayonet, and dispersed the crowd, while those who still insisted in their protest were sent to join their husbands in prison. That night was passed by the poor Armenians in the prison, while all night long their families mourned and wept. I visited several Armenian neighbours and tried to calm them, but they were all convinced that they would never see their people again, as they had guessed latterly, from the attitude of the Turks, that some plot was being prepared against them. Next morning the prisoners were told that they were to be exiled to Kara-Hissar (a town inland from Kerasond) and that they were only to take with them provisions for five days. Their wives were notified of this, and in the afternoon, under the escort of hundreds of gendarmes, they were marched out of the prison on to the road leading to Kara-Hissar, and divided up into several separate batches. Several days passed, and then a few telegrams reached various families, signed by their husbands or brothers 295and announcing that they had arrived in safety at Kara-Hissar. But unfortunately these telegrams were merely forged by the Government in order to calm down those left behind, who had not yet ceased to demand the return of their dear ones. Their true fate was very different. A fortnight later, I met a friend who told me that he had given protection to a young Armenian who had escaped from the party of Armenians that were sent to Kara-Hissar, and that this young man gave horrible descriptions of their experiences. I went to see this young man at my friend’s house. He was an honest business man in the town, so that I do not question for a moment the honesty of his declaration in the present case, which he made to the following effect:—

“Our party consisted of 350 men, mostly young fellows. The next day after our departure from Kerasond, we reached a spot on the banks of the River Kara Su. It was lunch time, and the gendarmes ordered us to stop and eat. We had just begun to do so when guns were fired on us from all sides, and I saw many fall dead. I was wounded myself in the arm and collapsed on my side from the pain. The firing continued, and I fainted. I only recovered consciousness to find myself in the river with hundreds of dead bodies floating round me. My wound did not prevent me from swimming, so that I struggled out of the river, and at night-fall walked back to the town. I was afraid to go to my family, so I asked shelter of my friend here; but as my prolonged presence may bring him harm, I am going home to-night.”

In fact, the Government had announced that any Turk or Greek giving protection to an Armenian would be punished with death. So that night the young man went to his house; but he was soon found out, and under the pretext of sending him to hospital for his wound they took him away and he has never been heard of since.

This was the end of the male population. The women were dealt with in the same fashion. They were likewise herded by force into the prison, and marched under escort in batches along the same road leading to Kara-Hissar. They were not massacred, but treated with extreme brutality and forced to walk for long hours, so that many died of exhaustion, and many others committed suicide by throwing themselves into the river with their children in their arms. Some went mad through inability to endure the brutalities and humiliations inflicted on them by the gendarmes and by the Turkish villagers they met on the way. The small children under three years of age were allowed to be carried along by their mothers, but the children between the ages of three and fifteen, both girls and boys, were all distributed among Mohammedan families, with instructions to convert them to Islam. The Armenians’ houses were sealed with the Government’s seal, but it is clear that they were first stripped of their furniture and placed at the disposal of Turkish immigrants. 296This is the tragic history of the extermination of the 3,000 Armenians of Kerasond.

One old Armenian only escaped death by embracing the Mohammedan religion; but that only served to save his own life, as his son and wife were sent off with the rest.

Kara-Hissar is a town three days inland from Kerasond, Kerasond being its port. The Armenian population of this city, guessing the intentions of the Turks, took up their arms and fled into the mountains surrounding the town. The gendarmes and soldiers sent in their pursuit had several encounters with them, but they failed every time to drive them out of their mountain positions. In my opinion their positions are good and can resist attacks, but their supply of food may soon come to an end, and in their isolation they may starve, if no help reaches them[95].

Trebizond.—During the last massacres (1896) Trebizond suffered the most, and this time also it has been the scene of the most fiendish atrocities. These are described by a young Armenian girl who was an eye-witness of them. She was saved through the protection of the late Italian Consul at Trebizond, who was allowed to leave in a motor boat for Constantinople[96], whence he went to Italy and sent this girl to some relatives of hers in Roumania. She gives the following account of her experiences:—

“In the morning my father, a Russian subject, was summoned by a gendarme and taken away to the Government Building. A few hours passed, and my mother went to find out what had happened to him. She did not return either, and, being thus left alone in the house, I went to our neighbour, the Italian Consul, and asked for his protection. He immediately disguised me as a servant girl in the Consulate. Every day I used to see hundreds of Armenians, men and women in separate batches, passing our house under escort—mothers carrying their children on one arm and a package of provisions on the other. That was all they were allowed to take. The Kavass of the Consulate used to come in every day and report to the Consul all that was going on in the town. Business was at a standstill, all the shops were closed, and you met nothing in the streets but Armenians escorted by gendarmes. Many young girls were forced to marry Mohammedans. All the children were collected and distributed to Turkish families to be brought up, as Mohammedans. Several leading Armenians committed suicide by throwing themselves down from the windows of their houses. All the Armenians who were Russian subjects (there were forty-five of them) were 297put on board a sailing ship bound for Kerasond, but on the way they were thrown into the sea and shot at by the gendarmes sent with them. This we verified later on, when the Consul was allowed to leave Trebizond in a motor boat, in which I accompanied him as servant girl. On the way a sailor on the launch, in answer to a question from the Consul, said that he had refused to take those forty-five Russian subjects in his sailing boat because he knew what fate was marked out for them on the way; and, in fact, when we arrived at Kerasond, we discovered that not only had those forty-five people never arrived (though they were put on board the boat under the pretext that they were to be exiled to the districts inland from Kerasond), but that not a single Armenian was left in the town itself. We were told the same thing all along the coast—at Tireboli, Ordou, Samsoun, Ineboli, etc.[97] The wife of the late Secretary of the British Consulate at Trebizond (himself a British subject) was forced to marry a Turk; the rest of the family—the Secretary, his brothers, his uncles, etc., who were all British subjects too—were exiled to the interior of the country, and nothing has been heard of them since. Many women have offered to become Mohammedans but have been refused. Only one family in Tireboli, called A., obtained leave to remain by turning Mohammedan.”

This is confirmed by a telegram received lately by a gentleman in Constantinople, who has business connections with the family in question. The telegram was signed “A. Zadé Mehmed Sirry.”

The plan of the Government has been the same everywhere—to convert the children to Islam, and to march the male and female population under escort into the interior of the country, until the last of them has dropped dead with exhaustion. As to their houses, the furniture was distributed among the officers and soldiers. Pianos, side-boards, and other objects too luxurious for soldiers’ houses were sold by auction, where the best buyers, in many districts, were Jews, who considered the price of 50 piastres too high for a piano, and tried to buy them at 10-15 piastres. The houses thus emptied were given over to Turkish immigrants or paupers. The copper kitchen utensils, and, in fact, everything made of copper, were carefully packed, and sent, by different means, to Constantinople, where the Germans were anxiously waiting for them as their share of the plunder.

It is only in Constantinople and Smyrna that the Armenians have not been exiled; but that does not mean that they there escape their share of the general misfortune. Most of the leading Armenians there, including doctors, deputies, wholesale merchants, journalists, etc., were exiled to the interior, and nothing has 298been heard of them since. The requisitioning officer takes away anything he finds in an Armenian shop, and many have thus been reduced to closing their shops, having nothing left to sell. Only one man among those deported from Constantinople was brought back, having consented to become a Mohammedan. This is Mr. B. of the B. Bros. firm, the largest export and import business in Constantinople. He has been forced to pay £5,000 for the building of a Mosque in Kaisaria, to build a Turkish school in Constantinople, to wear a turban, and to pray seven times a day, as a proof of his sincere devotion to his new religion.


95. This was written before it was known that the Armenians of Kara-Hissar had been overwhelmed by force and massacred to the last woman and child, with their bishop at their head.—Editor.

96. “I hired the motor launch for myself and three members of my household”.—Signor Gorrini in the Rome journal “Il Messaggero,” 25th August, 1915.

97. “Of the 200 Armenian families at Ordou, 160 have embraced Islam, under pressure of threats and violence. Of the 400 Armenian families at Kerasond, 200 have embraced Islam to escape persecution; the rest have been deported.”—New York Journal “Gotchnag,” 28th August, 1915.

299

76. TREBIZOND AND ERZEROUM: DESPATCH FROM THE CORRESPONDENT OF THE LONDON “TIMES” AT BUKAREST, DATED BUKAREST, 18th MAY, AND PUBLISHED ON THE 22nd MAY, 1916.

Since the entry of the Russian troops into Trebizond it has become possible to lift the veil of mystery that has hitherto shrouded the fate of the Armenian population in this prosperous port. The troops on their arrival found all the Armenian houses plundered and for the most part in ruins. Doors, windows, shutters, and all woodwork had been carried away. There was no opposition on the part of the authorities.

The deportation of the Armenians, which began in June, was carried out here, as elsewhere, in accordance with instructions from Constantinople. The leading families were the first to suffer. Some 300[98] of these received the order to prepare for emigration and purchased a number of wagons for the transport of their property, but four days after their departure all the wagons were brought back to the town. The emigrants had been massacred and their property plundered.

Other groups, each of several hundred families, followed. This process went on for some time, but eventually new methods were adopted. The police entered the houses of the remaining Armenians, forcibly expelled them, drove them through the streets, and locked up the houses. The whole Armenian population of Trebizond, numbering some 10,000 souls, was thus exterminated. It is hoped, however, that some hundreds of persons may yet be found hidden in the villages in the neighbourhood.

At Erzeroum, where the Armenian population was considerably greater, being estimated at 35,000, practically the same programme was carried out. The proceedings, which began in the middle of May, were inaugurated by the arrest and imprisonment of 400 young Armenians.

Many families, after being expelled from their houses, were kept waiting for several days in the streets before being taken to their fate. At the entrance to the town the processions of exiles encountered tax-gatherers, who insisted on the payment of arrears of taxation, although the unfortunate people had left all their property behind them. Only a few artisans, who were required to work for the Army, were allowed to remain in the town. By the beginning of August the whole Armenian population had disappeared from Erzeroum. Only the Bishop remained. On the 5th August two police officers appeared at his house and communicated the order for departure. The Bishop had taken 300precautions to secure some horses for the transport of his effects, but these were now stolen. He tried to purchase others, but at the last moment he was informed that he was not allowed to take anything with him. He was then removed to an unknown destination.

German officers stationed in the town and the German Consul manifested open approval of these proceedings. Among the spoils which fell to the Turks were several Armenian girls, and a share in this living booty was conceded to the Germans.


98. Including Muggerditch Zarmanian, a contractor employed by the Ottoman Army.—Information furnished to the writer by Armenian refugees in Roumania.

301

IX.
SIVAS: THE CITY AND PARTS OF THE VILAYET.

The Vilayet of Sivas lies immediately to the west of the Vilayet of Erzeroum. It includes the upper basins of two rivers—the Kizil Irmak (Halys), on the banks of which the City of Sivas itself is situated, and the Yeshil Irmak, further towards the north-west and nearer the Black Sea coast.

The province is less mountainous and much richer than its eastern neighbours. Agriculture is flourishing, the nomad shepherd is comparatively rare, and there are a number of populous towns, with the beginnings of local manufactures.

The peasant population is predominantly Turkish, interspersed with important Greek enclaves, which have held their own from the first Seljuk invasions to the present day; but there are also a number of Armenian villages, and the Armenians constitute—or constituted before June, 1915—-about half the population of the towns. The rising trade and industry was almost entirely the product of these Armenians’ initiative, and they themselves had risen with it in education and civilisation, till in all essentials they were on a level with the corresponding commercial and professional classes in Western Europe.

This peaceful, progressive community was entirely uprooted by the Deportation Decree. The villages were cleared in June; the City of Sivas suffered its first deportation on the 5th July.

302

77. SIVAS: LETTER FROM A FOREIGN RESIDENT AT SIVAS, DATED 13th JULY, 1915; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

To begin with the all-important fact, which may have reached you by now, the Armenians of the interior are being deported in the direction of Mosul. At the time we left Sivas, two-thirds of them had gone from the city, including all our Protestants, our teachers and pupils, and all our side of the city. Those left were the orphan girls and teachers and a few boarding girls, three nurses and two orderlies in the hospital, D. Effendi and his family and a few women servants. According to my best knowledge and opinion, with the exception of Armenian soldiers and prisoners (all of whose families have been sent) and a very few exceptions in the case of people who, for various reasons, were necessary to the Government, all Armenians are gone from Sivas. According to what I consider good authority, I believe it to be true that the entire Armenian population from Erzeroum to (and including) Gemerek, near Kaisaria, and from Samsoun to (and including) Harpout has been deported. There is also a movement in the central field which had not become general yet when I left, but will doubtless become so later. More than 100,000 Greeks from the Marmora and Mediterranean coast have been deported.

We heard many rumours of massacres, but I have no evidence on the subject. To my knowledge, no general massacres have occurred in the Sivas Vilayet. Not a few men have been killed in one way and another.

This general movement against Armenians began months ago in arrests for alleged revolutionary activity and in searches for guns and bombs. In Sivas the winter passed rather quietly, and it was late spring before much was done. About two months ago a general endeavour was made to imprison all leading Armenians, and within a week more than 1,000 were arrested. I estimate the whole number of Sivas men in prison to be between 1,500 and 2,000. The only person taken from our circle was H. Effendi, who was taken by name the first day—not, we think, as from us, but as a resident in the city. Strict orders were given not to molest us or our people, though all our efforts to do anything for H. Effendi failed. Up to the time of our departure from Sivas these men had been in prison a month. They were well, and as comfortable as could be expected in a Turkish prison; but no examinations had been held, no charges made, and no one knew what was to be done. The Vali assured me again and again that they would be released and sent with their families; but this was not done for at least ten days after the deportation was begun, and I have no confidence that it will be done at all. We could not believe that this outrage would really take place, but when, on Monday, hundreds of families were loaded on to ox-carts and sent off, and our Protestant people were told that they were 303to start on Wednesday, Miss Graffam said she was going to try to go with them, and in this she succeeded. She bought a spring wagon, a common wagon, eight ox-carts and six donkeys, so that our pupils and teachers went by their own conveyance. The Government furnished on an average an ox-cart to a family, but how far they went that way and how soon they were obliged to walk we do not know.

The advice of the Vali was that the orphans should remain for the present, and we have no idea what they will do to them in the end. This was one of our motives in getting to Constantinople. I represented to our friends there the fear we had that, after all the others were gone, these girls might be forcibly taken from us and put into Turkish families. I talked with Mr. N. about the possibility of bringing them all out of the country. Mr. Morgenthau promised to have strict orders sent to Sivas for their protection. I presume you will hear from Mr. N. on the subject, if his letter gets through. At the time we left Sivas the orphanage circle (female) was complete with the exception of Miss O., who went with the Protestants. I think they deemed it wise to keep as few teachers as necessary. Miss P. and Miss Q. expect to go with them if they go, and take care of them if they remain. We understand that, since we left, the orphans have been moved up to the college building with the ladies; probably the old building is vacant, and very likely sealed by the Government to ensure its safety. The Y.’s are probably sleeping in our house and going to the city for hospital work in the daytime.

The only men besides Dr. Y. are G., our kavass, D. Effendi and two or three orderlies in the hospital, of whom you will remember only our old teacher, Z. Effendi, of Divrig. All the Protestants except R. the Greek and his family, most of the boarders (boys and girls) and all our teachers excepting H. Effendi, who was in prison, and K., who is with us, went on the road together on Wednesday afternoon, the 7th July. Six or eight of the larger boys ran away a day or two before, and we got no word from them. S. Effendi and T. Effendi went with their families, and the others—U., V., W. and X.—went the same day.

After we had seen thousands of people start out, and especially after ours had actually gone, we came to the conclusion that if anything could be done to stop this terrible crime, which impresses us as ten times worse than any massacre, it would be done in Constantinople. Our work in Sivas seemed to be terminated, at least for the present, and our furlough was due; so it was decided that Dr. Y., because of his knowledge of Turkish and his medical work, should remain, and that the rest of us should go. We had been getting neither letters nor telegrams for some time, and I did not believe that those we sent arrived. In Constantinople we found that the whole plan of deportation originated from the Central Government, and that no pressure from the Embassies had been able to effect anything. Mr. N. 304felt that the most we could do now was to work for raising relief funds for the Armenians, and, in view of the uncertainty of travel from Constantinople to the border, he was anxious for us to get out of the country as soon as possible. So we started at once on receiving our passports.

We believe there is imminent danger of many of these people (whom we estimate for the Sivas, Erzeroum and Harpout Vilayets to be 600,000) starving to death on the road. They took food for a few days, but did not dare take much money with them, as, if they did so, it is doubtful whether they would be allowed to keep it. From Mr. N. we understood that the Rockefeller Foundation people are in Geneva or Berne, and we hope that everything possible will be done to make them recommend relief appropriations at once. Mr. N. and our Ambassador promised to do what they could, and gave me some hope that some relief funds might be sent to Harpout at once. It is questionable whether relief work will even be allowed, but it ought to be undertaken if possible. We shall do all we can in the United States, with the aid of the American Missions Board....

I started out from Sivas with several hundred addresses of people to whom we promised to give word about their friends. Then there was my own list of some 700 names of my constituency that I brought, but we were obliged to leave them all in Constantinople. It was impossible to carry out of Turkey a single address or a scrap of writing of any kind. I bought an empty account book, and started a new travelling expense account after crossing the border.

We met on the road near Talas the people of two villages journeying on foot with less than a donkey to a family, no food or bedding, hardly any men, and many of the women barefooted and carrying children. A case in Sivas worthy of notice was that of T. Effendi’s sister. Her husband had worked in our hospital as a soldier nurse for many months. She contracted typhus, and was brought to our hospital. Her mother, a woman of sixty to seventy, got up from a sick-bed to go and take care of their seven children, the oldest of whom was about twelve. A few days before the deportation, the husband was imprisoned and exiled without examination or fault. When the quarter in which they lived went off, the mother got out of bed in the hospital and was put on an ox-cart to go with her children.

305

78. SIVAS: LETTER[99] WRITTEN FROM MALATIA BY MISS MARY L. GRAFFAM, PRINCIPAL OF THE GIRLS’ HIGH SCHOOL AT SIVAS, TO A CORRESPONDENT AT CONSTANTINOPLE; REPRINTED FROM THE BOSTON “MISSIONARY HERALD,” DECEMBER, 1915.

When we were ready to leave Sivas, the Government gave forty-five ox-carts for the Protestant townspeople and eighty horses, but none at all for our pupils and teachers; so we bought ten ox-carts, two horse arabas, and five or six donkeys, and started out. In the company were all our teachers in the college, about twenty boys from the college and about thirty of the girls’-school. It was as a special favour to the Sivas people, who had not done anything revolutionary, that the Vali allowed the men who were not yet in prison to go with their families.

The first night we were so tired that we just ate a piece of bread and slept on the ground wherever we could find a place to spread a yorgan (blanket). It was after dark when we stopped, anyway. We were so near Sivas that the gendarmes protected us, and no special harm was done; but the second night we began to see what was before us. The gendarmes would go ahead and have long conversations with the villagers, and then stand back and let them rob and trouble the people until we all began to scream, and then they would come and drive them away. Yorgans and rugs, and all such things, disappeared by the dozen, and donkeys were sure to be lost. Many had brought cows; but from the first day those were carried off, one by one, until not a single one remained.

We got accustomed to being robbed, but the third day a new fear took possession of us, and that was that the men were to be separated from us at Kangal. We passed there at noon and, apart from fear, nothing special happened. Our teacher from Mandjaluk was there, with his mother and sisters. They had left the village with the rest of the women and children, and when they saw that the men were being taken off to be killed the teacher fled to another village, four hours away, where he was found by the police and brought safely with his family to Kangal, because the tchaoush who had taken them from Mandjaluk wanted his sister. I found them confined in one room. I went to the Kaimakam and got an order for them all to come with us.

At Kangal some Armenians had become Mohammedans, and had not left the village, but the others were all gone. The night before we had spent at Kazi Mahara, which was empty. They said that a valley near there was full of corpses. At Kangal we also began to see exiles from Tokat. The sight was one to strike horror to any heart; they were a company of old women, who had been robbed of absolutely everything. At Tokat the Government had first imprisoned the men, and from the prison had 306taken them on the road. The preacher’s wife was in the company, and told us the story. After the men had gone, they arrested the old women and the older brides, perhaps about thirty or thirty-five years old. There were very few young women or children. All the younger women and children were left in Tokat. Badvelli Avedis has seven children; one was with our schoolgirls and the other six remained in Tokat, without father or mother to look after them. For three days these Tokat people had been without food, and after that had lived on the Sivas company, who had not yet lost much.

When we looked at them we could not imagine that even the sprinkling of men that were with us would be allowed to remain. We did not long remain in doubt; the next day we heard that a special kaimakam had come to Hassan Tchelebi to separate the men, and it was with terror in our hearts that we passed through that village about noon. But we encamped and ate our supper in peace, and even began to think that perhaps it was not so, when the Mudir came round with gendarmes and began to collect the men, saying that the Kaimakam wanted to write their names and that they would be back soon.

The night passed, and only one man came back to tell the story of how every man was compelled to give up all his money, and all were taken to prison. The next morning they collected the men who had escaped the night before and extorted forty-five liras from our company, on the promise that they would give us gendarmes to protect us. One “company” is supposed to be from 1,000 to 3,000 persons. Ours was perhaps 2,000, and the greatest number of gendarmes would be five or six. In addition to these they sewed a red rag on the arm of a Kurdish villager and gave him a gun, and he had the right to rob and bully us all he pleased.

Broken-hearted, the women continued their journey. Our boys were not touched, and two of our teachers being small escaped, and will be a great help as long as they can stay with the company. The Mudir said that the men had gone back to Sivas; the villagers whom we saw all declared that all those men were killed at once. The question of what becomes of the men who are taken out of the prisons and of those who are taken from the convoy is a profound mystery. I have talked with many Turks, and I cannot make up my mind what to believe.

As soon as the men left us, the Turkish drivers began to rob the women, saying: “You are all going to be thrown into the Tokma Su, so you might as well give your things to us, and then we will stay by you and try to protect you.” Every Turkish woman that we met said the same thing. The worst were the gendarmes, who really did more or less bad things. One of our schoolgirls was carried off by the Kurds twice, but her companions made so much fuss that she was brought back. I was on the run all the time from one end of the company to the other. These 307robbing, murdering Kurds are certainly the best-looking men I have seen in this country. They steal your goods, but not everything. They do not take your bread or your stick.

As we approached the bridge over the Tokma Su, it was certainly a fearful sight. As far as the eye could see over the plain was this slow-moving line of ox-carts. For hours there was not a drop of water on the road, and the sun poured down its very hottest. As we went on we began to see the dead from yesterday’s company, and the weak began to fall by the way. The Kurds working in the fields made attacks continually, and we were half-distracted. I piled as many as I could on our wagons, and our pupils, both boys and girls, worked like heroes. One girl took a baby from its dead mother and carried it until evening. Another carried a dying woman until she died. We bought water from the Kurds, not minding the beating that the boys were sure to get with it. I counted forty-nine deaths, but there must have been many more. One naked body of a woman was covered with bruises. I saw the Kurds robbing the bodies of those not yet entirely dead. I walked, or, rather, ran, back and forth until we could see the bridge.

The hills on each side were white with Kurds, who were throwing stones on the Armenians, who were slowly wending their way to the bridge. I ran ahead and stood on the bridge in the midst of a crowd of Kurds, until I was used up. I did not see anyone thrown into the water, but they said, and I believe it, that a certain Elmas, who has done handwork for me for years, was thrown over the bridge by a Kurd. Our Badvelli’s wife was riding on a horse with a baby in her arms, and a Kurd took hold of her to throw her over, when another Kurd said: “She has a baby in her arms,” and they let her go. After crossing the bridge, we found all the Sivas people who had left before us waiting by the river, as well as companies from Samsoun, Amasia and other places.

The police for the first time began to interfere with me here, and it was evident that something was decided about me. The next morning after we arrived at this bridge, they wanted me to go to Malatia; but I insisted that I had permission to stay with the Armenians. During the day, however, they said that the Mutessarif had ordered me to come to Malatia, and that the others were going to Kiakhta. Soon after we heard that they were going to Ourfa, there to build villages and cities, &c.

In Malatia I went at once to the commandant, a captain who they say has made a fortune out of these exiles. I told him how I had gone to Erzeroum last winter, and how we pitied these women and children and wished to help them, and finally he sent me to the Mutessarif. The latter is a Kurd, apparently anxious to do the right thing; but he has been sick most of the time since he came, and the “beys” here have had things more or less their own way, and certainly horrors have been committed. 308I suggested that they should telegraph to Sivas and understand that I had permission to go with these exiles all the way, and the answer is said to have come from Sivas that I am not to go beyond here.

My friends here are very glad to have me with them, for they have a very difficult problem on their hands and are nearly crazy with the horrors they have been through here. The Mutessarif and other officials here and at Sivas have read me orders from Constantinople again and again to the effect that the lives of these exiles are to be protected, and from their actions I should judge that they must have received such orders; but they certainly have murdered a great many in every city. Here there were great trenches dug by the soldiers for drilling purposes. Now these trenches are all filled up, and our friends saw carts going back from the city by night. A man I know told me that when he was out to inspect some work he was having done, he saw a dead body which had evidently been pulled out of one of these trenches, probably by dogs. He gave word to the Government, with the result that his two servants, who were with him, were sent for by under-officers, saying that the Pasha wanted them, and they were murdered. The Beledia Reis here says that every male over ten years old is being murdered, that not one is to live, and no woman over fifteen. The truth seems to be somewhere between these two extremes.

My greatest object in going with these exiles was to help them to get started there. Many have relatives in all sorts of places, to whom I could write; and I could, in my own estimation, be a channel by which aid could get to them. I am not criticising the Government. Most of the higher officials are at their wit’s end to stop these abuses and carry out the orders which they have received; but this is a flood, and it carries everything before it.

I have tried to write only what I have seen and know to be true. The reports and possibilities are very many, but the exact truth that we know, at best, calls for our most earnest prayer and effort. God has come very near to many during these days.

309

79. EXTRACTS FROM A LETTER, DATED MASSACHUSETTS, 29th AUGUST, 1915, FROM ANOTHER FOREIGN RESIDENT AT SIVAS TO MR. G.H. PAELIAN.

You may be surprised to get a letter from me from America, and I am surprised myself that I am really here. It is seven years and our time for a furlough; but as there was no one to leave the College with, and the children were small, we decided to wait a year or two. But when they deported the Armenians and left us without work and without friends, we decided to come home and get our vacation and be ready to go wherever we could after the war.

You will want to know about Sivas and about your family in particular. In general, the Sivas Armenians are gone, but there were a few exceptions when we came away—the Swiss Orphanage, the Sanasarian School, the people in prison (1,500 of the best men), and the Armenians in the army who were employed in making roads, building houses, tailoring, shoe-making, &c., for the army. Then there are Dr. A. and Dr. B., the C.’s, a few tent-makers and people who were necessary to the Turks, a few nurses in our hospital, and D., our druggist.

The others were all deported on ox-carts on the 5th July and the succeeding ten days. In general, there was one ox-cart to a family, and they could take whatever they wished to on that. The Vali allowed the Protestants all to go on the same day, although they were scattered all over the city, and the others were sent by quarters. Our teachers and boarding pupils went with the Protestants.

E. and her children went with the Protestants too. I bought a cow for her, and gave it to her and another woman who could take care of it. I thought that F. must have milk. I did not get down in time to see them off, but Miss Graffam went with them to help what she could.

The morning after they started out, we sent G. on horseback to see how they were. They had spent one night without any accident, although they had not slept much.

All our teachers went except H., who was in prison. We do not know why they imprisoned him, but we think some enemy of the family must have told some lies about them, because they imprisoned his brother, too, and J. We tried every way to get him out, but it was of no use.

Have you heard that he is engaged to K., a girl who has been in our family a great deal? She was a teacher in the girls’-school, studied one year in Smyrna, and then taught one year more. She usually spends the summer in our family, and was to do the same this year. When the Armenians were deported, the Vali allowed us to keep three girls as servants, and, as she was to be with us, we kept her with two others who were already with us, and we brought the three to America with us, saving these three from the general deportation.

310Since coming to America and hearing about what happened in other places, it seems that the deportation from Sivas was very humane, but at best it was awful. I cannot describe the sadness of having all our friends taken away from us in one day and not knowing where they were going or whether we should see them again. The College was full of boys, teachers, carpenters, servants, &c. The L.’s, &c., were camping. In a single day they went, and only our family was left, with G. We were not afraid; we did not care what happened.

Now we do not know what has become of them, or what has become of the prisoners or the soldiers.

311

80. SIVAS: NARRATIVE OF A NATURALISED OTTOMAN SUBJECT, DATED NEW YORK CITY, 10th MARCH, 1916; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

When the majority of the Armenian people were exiled from Sivas, I was in Talas, but when I heard what had happened I started back at once, thinking of course that my relations would also be sent away, and wishing to accompany them. It was with great difficulty that I obtained permission from the officials in Kaisaria to go back; they claimed that the road was very dangerous, and that it would be impossible for a woman alone to travel over it. Finally, the head official of the Military Transport, who was living in Sivas and had taken possession of Dr. AB.’s house there, telegraphed to Kaisaria that I might travel under the protection of the Menzel, and I started with two officers who were in a wagon behind me and who warned me that I must keep close to them, as the road was very dangerous. The road until we reached Sharkishla, two days’ journey from Kaisaria, was very quiet, and we met almost no one. At Sharkishla the plain was black with exiles from different parts of Anatolia; they had been waiting there for about a week and new recruits were coming in every day. At that time they did not seem very unhappy. The weather was beautiful, the plain was covered with trees, and many of the wealthy people had tents and wagons, while there were a great many boys and men in the party.

Later, when they reached Malatia, or even before, the men were separated from them, their wagons and goods were taken from them, and they were only allowed to take what they could carry on their backs over the narrow mountain pass through which they went. I know this because Miss Graffam met these same people later on, while she was on the road with the Sivas people. I was not very near them, but I could see them from the han window. The handji, an Armenian, told me he was sure they were all to be killed, and the officers told me the next day that they had visited them at night, and that the men were to be killed; they said they were sorry for the women and children, but one of them added: “This is what happens to people that want a kingdom of their own.”

I had a few unpleasant experiences on the road, but I will not stop to tell them. I found my relations safe, and the Vali had told them they might stay—I believe because of the influence of some powerful Turkish friends they have in Constantinople, who had telegraphed to the Vali to save Dr. AB. and his wife. The prisons at that time were filled with our Sivas men—several thousand; these men we visited every day, taking food to some of them and trying to cheer up the others. Their wives and children had gone with the exiles, and it was pretty hard work to be brave when they did not know their fate, but it was surprising how 312really brave they were. Some of the gaolers were very brutal men, and would be as disagreeable as possible to us, but others were polite and willing to let us see the prisoners, even allowing selected ones to come into the yard and talk with us. About a month later these men were taken out in batches of a hundred at night; they were told that they were to be taken to the railway near Angora to work on it; the rich men were allowed to hire wagons from Turks, at a big price, to travel in. They were all taken very early in the morning, several hours before daylight, and they were seen, those on foot, to go over the mountain into the valley, where we are pretty sure they were killed, as the soldiers returned with clothes, and the wagons always came back three or four hours later filled with clothes. The soldiers, moreover, described how many of the men met their fate, some bravely, some otherwise, and we think they spoke the truth, for they told of men we knew intimately, and who would have been apt to do and say just what they said they did, in the face of death. It was hard to see so many of our fine young men go off in this way, and many of them had no idea they were going to their death. Some of them took money with them, thinking they might meet their wives and children. When they heard that Miss Graffam was returning, they were so anxious to see her and hear of their families. Most of them were gone when she got back, but she was allowed to go into the prison and tell those that were left something about the journey she had made. They were thankful to hear that their wives and children were still alive, as they had heard they had all been massacred a few days’ distance from Sivas. Miss Graffam said that although they were robbed on the road and almost everything they had was taken from them, still the girls and women were not outraged or treated badly as far as Malatia. After that, we heard from boys that had escaped from the party and come back to Sivas that many of the girls were carried off by the Kurds a few days after Miss Graffam left them.

After all our Sivas men had been taken from the prisons, other men kept coming in from other cities and towns like Angora and Yozgad. They were kept in prison for a few days and then taken out as our men had been. We were not permitted to see these men. Many of them when they reached Sivas were in carriages. We heard that they, too, were killed in the mountains, and that Sivas was being called the “Great Slaughter House.” The last of our young men that remained in prison were three young doctors. One of them, Dr. AC., had been educated by Mrs. AD.; he had been brought up in the Orphanage at X., and was a splendid young man, full of enthusiasm for his work, which was in the military hospital. Another of the three was the son of a wealthy Divrig family, who had been educated in Germany and had many strong German friends among the high German officials in Constantinople, who either would not or could not do anything to save him. They were executed while 313I was in Constantinople. I had taken with me letters to a high German official from Dr. AE., asking him to save them; and later Miss Graffam telegraphed to me that they were in great danger, and begged me to do all I could to save them—to go to the Germans. I did so, but was told they had gone to Enver Pasha before, and that he would do nothing for them.

About thirty or forty families in Sivas, all of them wealthy, had become Moslems, having the promise that, if they did so, their lives and property would be safe. A few weeks later, all of them, with the exception of two or three merchants, were told they had to go, and, as soon as they left, their property was confiscated by the Government. The Vali’s family doctor, an Armenian, was told that he was to stay, and he asked if that meant he was to become a Moslem. The Vali said: “No, I am tired of these people becoming Moslems.”

At two different times our orphanage children were ordered out; both times Dr. Y. went to the Vali and begged that they might stay, telling him how small many of them were, only three or four years old, and how they would certainly die on the road, for at that time even ox-carts could not be found. He seemed to be touched and said they might. There seemed always to be friction between the police and the Vali; he would give permission for them to stay and the police would come and say they were to go; several of the police officers came to the older girls and teachers, and asked them to become their wives and stay, saying that they would be carried off on the road anyway, and that they might as well accept them and remain. Many hundreds of little girls were being brought back to Sivas before I left; some were being placed in Moslem families and some in empty houses. We were not allowed to see them. Many of the Turkish officers had seized one or two of these little girls and were planning to take them on to Constantinople with them. Some of our orphanage teachers were able to interview some of the older girls that were brought back from Kara-Hissar (one of the places where the Armenians tried to defend themselves). These girls tell horrible tales of what they saw there. A great many of these girls were being married to Turks; the Turks were saying they were not forcing them; they wanted them to become their wives willingly. A number of women and children who had been in hiding were also beginning to come out of hiding when I left, and the Missionaries were taking them into the orphanage and the hospital, trying to save them.

Several Armenian soldiers from the Samsoun region had also fled to the hospital for protection; they had started with their regiments from Samsoun, and the Armenians, who numbered a thousand or more, had been attacked by the guards and the majority killed or left for dead. The men that came to Dr. Y. had been among those left for dead; one of them had a horrible wound across the back of his neck, where he had been cut 314by an axe; they usually used axes, saying they did not want to waste powder and shot on them. Some others came from a lonely barracks on the Marsovan road, where they and their comrades, all Armenians (soldiers), had been shut up for three days without food or water. Finally a young Turkish officer heard the noise as he passed, and came and let them out. These men said that they were put in this building towards evening. They were tied together by threes and called out in succession. Those that went out never returned, and they found that they were being butchered with axes. One of the men succeeded in untying the cord that he and his two companions were tied with; they closed and barricaded the door, and when the soldiers, who were only a few in number (Turkish), found that they could not get in, they fastened it on the outside so that the Armenians should not get out. They were afraid, indeed, to go out even after the Turkish soldiers had left, until this officer appeared and sent them on to Sivas; he said that the men that did these things would be punished, but they were not. We believed that they were allowed to do pretty much as they pleased with the Armenians, and so, when they happened to be brutal, they did this kind of thing, with the result that many of the Armenians that had gone through it had become nervous wrecks. Dr. Y. had seen and talked with a number of these men, and I also saw those who had fled to the hospital.

In Tokat the girls, small and large, were left in the houses alone. The daughter of the Badvelli there managed to send a letter to her uncle, who was a nurse in our hospital (a soldier), saying that she and her four little sisters were in the house alone and had nothing to live on, and that the city was full of girls in the same condition; up till that time, which was a month after their parents had left them, they had not been injured by the Turks. A Turk brought the letter.

On the 1st October, when I left Sivas to go up to Constantinople, I had some difficulty in getting permission to start, as the Vali was away. I had to wait until he returned. He said he would see that I got as far as Talas safely, and he told me which places to stop at; but because of some trouble with the driver, I was unable to stop at the hans he told me to stop at, and the first night the han was filled with Armenians who were being deported from X., both men and women. They were wealthy people who had become Moslems. My driver told me that they had not become true Moslems and for that reason were being sent away. The soldiers with them were very evil-looking men. I noticed that they had many beautiful rugs and carpets in their wagons. In the next room there were some Turks who were talking of the killing of the Armenians; however, nothing happened to them that night. The second night I had to stop at a han which had been very prosperous a few months before, but was now half wrecked and deserted. It was dark and we could not go on, 315and we found that the son and brother of the former handji had become Moslems, and that the Government had allowed them to take charge of the han on condition that they turned over all the money they made to the Government. These two men were in the most pitiable condition from fear, and they both told me horrible tales of how the men of Gemerek had been killed; this han was outside the town of Gemerek. They said they had hidden in the mountains for three weeks until driven out by starvation, and then had given themselves up to the Government and become Moslems, but they added: “We are only Moslems with our mouths, but Christians in our hearts.” Still, they were very fearful, and not at all sure that they would not be killed later. In the village of Gemerek, they said, most of the girls had been forced into marriage with the Turks, and many of the old women had been killed and the rest deported. I had seen them on my way to Sivas going out, so I knew this to be true. The next night I heard two hodjas talking, under my window, of a terrible massacre of the Armenians that had just taken place in the mountains; they seemed to be very sorry about it and spoke of it with horror; they did not know, of course, that I was listening. When I reached Talas, the people had almost all gone from there and from Kaisaria. The Kaisaria Protestants, or at least a number of Protestant families, were sent out to Talas and given houses there, while the Talas Protestants were sent to neighbouring villages; but their condition was much better than that of any of the Armenian people in our Sivas region. The Girls’-School was filled with girls from Kaisaria, most of them the daughters of wealthy Gregorian and Catholic families. The Kaisaria people had been allowed to leave their daughters behind. While I was there, a woman and two men arrived from one of the Kaisaria out-stations and told of the terrible massacre of the whole village. First the little boys up to ten were taken outside the village and killed. There were only a few men in the village, so the women dressed as men and held the village against the Kurds and Turks for three weeks, keeping them off with stones; they had fled to the hills. These people said that the Turks used to call to them to come down and become Moslems and their lives would be spared; this they refused to do. Later, the village Turks were reinforced by the soldiers from Kaisaria, who shot them down, only these three people escaping. They had been weeks reaching Talas, having to hide by day and travel very slowly at night for fear of being caught. This village had many of our Protestant people, and among those killed was the mother of one of the teachers and the wife of another. We heard that all the villages in that region were treated in this way, instead of being deported. While in Talas I had a telegram from Sivas asking me to wait for a professor of the Sanasarian College, who was coming from Sivas with his wife and little boy. The Vali had given them permission to go on to Constantinople; he had 316been educated in Vienna and his wife in this country; they were very fine people. I waited several days and they did not come. I found that they had left Sivas as they planned and disappeared between Sivas and Talas—they have never been heard from. I know a number of people that disappeared in just this way on that road, after the Vali had given them permission to travel and the promise of a safe escort.

The rest of the way from Kaisaria to the railway I went under the protection of the Military Transportation Company. I passed through many deserted towns, but saw no dead bodies on the road, only one between Sivas and Talas. On the railway we passed truck-load after truck-load of Armenians—exiles being sent into the interior. All were in cattle-trucks, huddled together like animals. We met these trucks every day; often they were shunted on the siding. All along the Konia plain were tens of thousands of people; some had tents, many of them had nothing. The weather at that time was warm, so they were not suffering specially from the cold. Later, while in Constantinople, we heard that these people on the Konia plain were being sent into the interior and not allowed to take any food with them, so that they would die quickly.

On the train, in the compartment with me, was the wife of the Mutessarif of Erzindjan. She had several Armenian girls with her—one of them in the compartment with us to wait on her children. She was kind to this child, who was only about nine years old, but she treated her like a little slave. She told another Turkish woman that her parents had been sent away and she had taken her from the streets. The Armenians in Constantinople had not been deported, only the men who were suspected of revolutionary tendencies, but there is great suffering among them for lack of food, and they need work. Professor —— told me, the week before I left, that the Turks in Constantinople were saying: “The Armenians from Constantinople must go,” and that great pressure was being brought to bear upon them by the Turks to become Moslems and stay. We had a number of Armenian young women employed in the Red Cross work, and they all showed a most beautiful Christian spirit, were always kind and gentle to the soldiers, and never showed in any way that they felt any bitterness toward them. Several of them had come from the interior and had relatives that had been deported; one of them was from Trebizond, where there had been that terrible massacre of children, and her little baby of seven months was, she fears, among them. This young woman went into exile with her husband, and lost everything and everyone in Trebizond. She was a most beautiful Christian, and was loved and respected by the people that worked with her.

317

81. SIVAS: THE ADVENTURES OF MURAD; NARRATED BY “S.H.S.,” IN THE JOURNAL “THE NEW ARMENIA,” OF NEW YORK, 1st MARCH, 1916.

In December, 1914, Murad was peacefully at work in his native village of Govdoun. Then he was apprised of the troubles brewing in the city of Sivas, the capital of the Vilayet. He hastened there to find the Armenians panic-stricken. All the Armenians of military age, as well as all the prominent Armenian business men, had been imprisoned on the pretext that the bread supplied to the Turkish soldiers was poisoned by the Armenian bakers. The Armenian physicians in the city went to the military commander and protested against this outrage, offering to prove that the accusation was false. As the military commander was not on good terms with the Vali, he ordered some of the bread to be brought, and the physicians ate it before him without any bad results. Then he ordered the prisoners to be released. However, matters grew steadily worse, persecution increased, and spread finally to the surrounding villages.

Murad, with a group of brave Armenians, resisted the outrages of the Turkish Government for several months, until he was obliged to take refuge in the mountains. In March, 1915, Turkish soldiers were sent to capture Murad and his band, but they were defeated and repulsed. The Armenians fought their way slowly over the mountains in a continual guerilla warfare. The Government became so exasperated that it placed a price on Murad’s head.

Murad was stricken with typhus as a result of the privations and hardships the band endured, and his comrades had to carry him from snow-clad mountain to mountain, and from cave to cave, in order to save him from capture. At Mount Sachar Murad and his comrades were surrounded by three hundred Turkish cavalrymen, but they succeeded in escaping to an Armenian village in Khantzart. The peasants nursed Murad, and said: “Remain here, and we will die by hundreds to protect you.” Murad did not wish to expose them to danger. When he heard that the Turkish cavalry were approaching, he requested his comrades to remove him to the mountains.

In the milder weather of May, Murad began to recover. A company of Turkish cavalrymen renewed the search for the little band of Armenian warriors. Murad and his seven men opened fire upon the Turks, wounding several of them. The Turks beat a hasty retreat, but returned soon with reinforcements. These also were put to flight by the Armenians. Murad then withdrew from the mountain and travelled for some days through the woods and valleys.

318Because of the extraordinary prowess of the Armenians, it was rumoured that Murad had a thousand men with him. The Vali of Sivas determined to capture him at any cost. At a place called Telouk-Khaina a hundred Turkish infantry advanced upon Murad’s army of eight, but Murad decided to save his ammunition, and retreated. Near Tedjir a Turkish regiment with seven guns advanced to give battle to the supposed Armenian army, but the Armenians again used discretion. Murad’s men had armed themselves well at the beginning, and replenished their stock of ammunition constantly from the soldiers whom they killed. They frequently found on the slain Kurds and Turks jewelry and other ornaments that had belonged to Armenian women, and Murad still has in his possession some of these jewels.

After numerous victorious encounters and skirmishes with the Turks, Murad turned toward Samsoun, in the autumn of 1915. His band had been increased by seven Armenians and three Greeks. Having reached the village of Tchamulan, not far from Samsoun, they were welcomed by a prominent Greek named Constantine. The Turks had burned and destroyed all the boats owned by Constantine, who was also subjected to other persecutions. Defying the Turks, he harboured the eighteen rebels in his house, and defended them. One day three hundred Turkish soldiers surrounded the Greek’s house and opened fire. The besieged band so successfully defended itself that the enemy could not approach the house. Every new attack was repulsed successfully, and many of the Turks were killed. In the evening the siege was raised and the enemy withdrew. Murad and his comrades, together with Constantine and his family, evacuated their stronghold and proceeded toward Samsoun.

The party finally reached the woods of Hodjadagh, near the Black Sea. There they remained in hiding, and sent scouts to reconnoitre the country and find a way of escape. Having replenished their stock of food and ammunition, the brave warriors hastened one night to the sea coast. They found there a Turkish sailing vessel at anchor, and captured it with its Turkish crew of five. They loaded the vessel with their supplies and set sail, taking with them the Turkish crew to man the boat.

After eight days and nights on the Black Sea, their water supply was exhausted and they were compelled to make bread with sea-water. Meanwhile they suffered terribly from thirst. The vessel passed Samsoun and Kerasond, and approached Riza. While they were still about three or four hours’ distance from the Russian coast, two Turkish motor-boats were seen pursuing. The Turks had learned of Murad’s escape and had dispatched a force to capture him at sea. The Turks opened fire on the rebels. The Armenian sharpshooters replied effectively. The motor-boats turned back after many of the soldiers had been 319killed. In Murad’s party brave Yegho was killed, and one of the Greeks wounded.

A heavy storm arose, and the superstitious Turkish sailors begged that the body of Yegho might be thrown into the sea, because they feared that the boat would be wrecked if the corpse remained on board. The vessel finally reached Batoum, and the party landed safely on Russian soil. Murad buried Yegho and then went to Tiflis, where he joined the other Armenian Volunteers.

320

82. SIVAS: RECORD OF AN INTERVIEW GIVEN BY THE REFUGEE MURAD TO MR. A.S. SAFRASTIAN AT TIFLIS.

Once more the curtain drawn over the heinous details of Armenian massacres in Asia Minor is raised by that well-known fighter, Murad of Sivas, the Armenian leader of the province. Starting from Sharkishla, some twenty miles south-west of Sivas, with a small force, he opened his way to Divrig, lying about sixty miles south-east of Sivas; and after a great number of encounters with regular Turkish troops, he eventually entrenched himself on the heights of Yaldiz Dagh, north-east of Sivas, where, surrounded by large numbers of the enemy, he kept up desperate fighting for eight days. Most of his comrades were killed in this unequal combat. He himself, however, succeeded in breaking through the Turkish lines and emerged on the coast, somewhere near Samsoun. Here he forced some Turkish boatmen to set sail in the direction of Batoum. On the voyage, his boat was chased by Turkish motor launches and fired on, and in this encounter one of his comrades was killed by a bullet. He has just reached here to throw more light upon the horrors which have been committed in the Vilayet of Sivas and in parts of Harpout and Western Dersim.

For about twenty years Murad (a brother-in-arms of Andranik, the organiser of the present volunteer regiments) has been in the front ranks of the Armenian movement as a leading fighter, and the circumstances of his struggle since last March, and the story of his adventurous escape to Russia when all was over, would fill volumes. He has come to tell the outside world the news that, of 160,000 Armenians inhabiting the province of Sivas, there remain now, or, rather, remained a month ago, when he left, some 10,000, who have either been spared as useful artisans toiling in the labour battalions and the prisons, or were old people left in their homes. The remaining 150,000 souls have either been massacred outright or deported to the area bounded by the right bank of the Euphrates and Northern Mesopotamia.

The story which Murad gave me reveals once more the thorough organisation of these massacres by an overmastering hand, and the ruthless processes by which the details were carried out. Anybody listening to Murad, who had been cut off from the rest of the world for eight months, would at once have thought it to be the story of the massacres at Bitlis or one of the other places, there is such a striking resemblance of detail in the work of destruction.

The persecutions began with the outbreak of the Turkish war. The Armenians of Sivas did all they could to help the Red Crescent work of the Turkish army, either by personal service or contributions. Notwithstanding all these efforts, the Armenian element in particular was unscrupulously robbed under the cloak of military requisitions. In the meantime, the Turks 321of Sivas did not conceal their intention of settling old scores with the Armenians, who had applied to Europe for reforms.

The storm broke over the question of Armenian deserters from the Turkish army and the disarming of civilian Armenians. The Divisional Commander of Sivas had ordered that able-bodied men above thirty-three years of age and liable to service should get a permit from the military authorities for temporary exemption from entering the field; whereas Muamer Pasha, the Vali of Sivas, looked upon such a step as a sign of Armenian disloyalty. During December and January most Armenian soldiers in the Turkish service were either disarmed and sent to the labour battalions, or were imprisoned as ‘suspicious’ characters. The treatment they received in the army was of a most unenviable kind. A Holy War had been proclaimed by the Caliph, and the fate of the Infidels was in the Moslems’ hands. To mention an instance: on an unfounded charge of desertion six Armenians were hanged in Gurin, three of them being brothers, who were absolutely innocent.

For disarming the Armenians, the Turks employed the most fiendish methods. The order for delivering up all arms in the possession of civilians was nominally universal, but in fact it was directed against the Armenians. In Khourakhon, a village near Sivas, one man (Harutune) was actually shod like a horse, one (Muggerdich) was castrated, and another (Puzant) was done to death by putting a red-hot iron crown on his head. Under threats of such tortures many Armenians were compelled to buy arms and give them up to the authorities. The tragi-comical part of the whole business was that the Turkish officials entrusted with the mission of collecting arms were themselves selling them to Armenians at a good profit