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Link: http://www.armenocide.net/armenocide/armgende.nsf/$$AllDocs/1916-01-31-DE-003
Source: DE/PA-AA/BoKon/99
Embassy register: 10-12/1916/2934
Edition: Genocide 1915/16
Embassy/consular serial number:
Translated by: Vera Draack (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 03/23/2012

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



[After an extensive legal examination of possible claims for damages by German citizens against Turkey caused by the deportation of the Armenians, Metternich establishes:]

It should not ... be necessary to prove the causal relationship between the resulting damage and the behaviour of the Turkish authorities in each individual case. The infringements and excesses of the latter during the implementation of the relocation have been proven in such numerous cases that their frequency justifies the assumption that the Turkish authorities are also responsible in those cases in which there is no conclusive evidence. Thus, it would be the Turkish government's task to refute this assumption held against it in each of the individual cases that it disputes by providing conclusive evidence against it.

The infringements and excesses of the Turkish authorities have been dealt with by our consulates in Erzurum, Mosul, Aleppo, Adana and Trebizond in an extensive report filling three files, according to which the following points can be considered as having been proven and verified by examples:

A. Excesses against the lives of those who have been resettled.

1) In a great many cases, Armenian or other Christian elements of the population were resettled by the government, even though the necessary prerequisites laid out in the law dated 14 May were not fulfilled. Often, these prerequisites were even established by Turkish police authorities by secretly placing cartridges in the Armenians' pockets, which were then seen as evidence of rebellious convictions during the following police control.

2) The Turkish authorities failed to suppress the gangs organised for the purpose of carrying out excesses against the life and property of those who were resettled. Many Turkish public officials and military publicly admitted that the final target of the government's measures is not the resettlement, but rather the extermination of the Armenians.

3) Turkish police, gendarmes and soldiers were involved in killing those who were resettled, partly upon the orders of their superiors and partly without any authorisation. In this respect, the Vali of Diyarbekir, Reshid Bey, the Vali of Erzurum, Tachsin Bey, the Chief of Police in Erzurum, Chulussi Bey, and a certain Machmud Kiamil Pasha are particularly heavily incriminated. Private individuals were also often instigated by government officials to exterminate those who were resettled.

4) The government failed to fight the infectious illnesses that broke out in the convoys of those who were to be resettled.

B. Excesses against the property of those who have been resettled.

1) Turkish police, gendarmes and soldiers were involved in burning down the houses of those who were resettled.

2) The Turkish police, gendarmes and soldiers played an outstanding role in pillaging the houses of those who were resettled and took part in pillaging the convoys of those who were to be resettled. The gendarmes accompanying these convoys as well as other public officials often extorted money from those who were to be resettled.

3) The Turkish military and administrative officials spared certain rich Armenians in return for large bribes. In this respect, for example, the Vali of Adana, Hakki Bey, and the Chief of Police in Adana, Djemal Bey, are heavily incriminated.

4) The property of those who were resettled is only transferred to Turkish citizens or, more specifically, to Mohammedans. It is impossible for non-Turkish creditors to acquire the property of their debtors. The price set by the government for these properties is so disproportionately low that it does not nearly cover the former owners' debts.

As a consequence of the illegal behaviour of the Turkish authorities as described above, those affected by these relocations lost their lives in most cases and their property in all, so that it is impossible for the German creditors to satisfy their demands out of their debtors' assets.

I would like to recommend replying to the Turkish government, refuting their arguments and emphasising the above mentioned points of view, perhaps with the exception of the point mentioned under B 3, that we continue to hold them responsible for the direct damage that Germans have suffered as a result of the persecution of the Armenians. The claims for damages would then have to be included in the lists of claims by members of the Reich against the Turkish government, which are kept by the consular authorities.

I would like to request that Your Excellency kindly give me instructions on the position I should continue to take in this matter.

[Note by the Embassy]

Dr. Göppert, MP, f.y.i.[for your information]

2. T.b.f.[to be followed up] in 2 mon[ths].

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