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Source: DE/PA-AA/R14089
Publication: DuA Dok. 230
Central register: 1916-A-02530
Edition: Genocide 1915/16
Date of entry in central register: 01/28/1916 a.m.
Embassy/consular serial number: No. 29
Translated by: Robert Berridge (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 04/22/2012

From the Ambassador in Extraordinary Mission in Constantinople (Wolff-Metternich) to the Reichskanzler (Bethmann Hollweg)


No. 29
Pera, 24 January 1916

In reference to the directive from 12 December of last year - No.949 [ A 35310.]

In response to my protests the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Halil Bey, categorically denied, that any significant number of forced conversions of Armenians to Islam had been attempted. The lower civil servants involved in those reported cases of encroachments had already been punished.

The assurances of the Minister are contradictory to the concurring reports which the Imperial Embassy has been repeatedly receiving concerning this question from different localities and from independent sources.

From the detailed statements of Vice-Consul Kuckhoff in Samsun, which have been confirmed from other sources, it can be concluded that in particular in the districts around the Black Sea the attempts to Islamize the Armenians, partly through persuasion and partly through threats, has been carried out on a very large scale.

Elsewhere, moreover, where numerous Armenians on their own initiative have decided to turn to Islam in order to avoid exile and the confiscation of their property, the authorities have not given any privileges for this gesture and have deported them despite their conversion.

Apparently it is feared that the real purpose of the Armenian deportations, that is the total extermination of the Armenian race, could be thwarted by further mass conversions.

Since then another, less conspicuous way, has been pursued.

In October of last year Consul Büge in Adana reported that the head of the local Turkish orphanage notified to the Christian pupils that in an Ottoman orphanage there was no room for a Christian religion and, therefore, those who did not convert to Islam were to leave the home. Upon hearing this the Christian children, with the exception of 14 young boys who have presumably converted to Islam, left the house.

Furthermore, the Armenian Patriarch informed us here in mid December that in Anatolia they had begun to allocate the female members of the deported Armenian families, whose male members had been murdered or had disappeared, to Moslem villages in groups in order to convert them to Islam. The War Ministry has also ordered all Armenians presently doing military service to become Moslems, and that they should already be given Moslem names, while the actual formalities are to be reserved for later in consideration of the war situation.

Finally, it is claimed that also here in the capital, Turks are often exerting pressure on Armenians so that they convert to Islam. Nevertheless, the number converting in relation to the total number of Armenians in the population is minimal. Apparently up until now only 20 Armenians have embraced Islam, amongst them especially those who are affluent in Anatolia and seek to save their wealth by means of their conversion.


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