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Link: http://www.armenocide.net/armenocide/armgende.nsf/$$AllDocs/1916-04-27-DE-001
Source: DE/PA-AA/R14091
Publication: DuA Dok. 260 (gk.)
Central register: 1916-A-12911
Edition: Genocide 1915/16
Date of entry in central register: 05/16/1916 p.m.
Embassy/consular serial number: K. No. 47/No. 1189
Translated by: Linda Struck (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 04/22/2012

From the Consul in Aleppo (Roessler) to the Reichskanzler (Bethmann Hollweg)


K. No. 47 / No. 1189
Aleppo, 27 April 1916

I last reported to the Imperial Embassy on the deportation of the Armenians, its consequences and side effects on 9 February of this year – under K. No. 18 – and on 12th of this month – under No. 1033 – I submitted a certain questionnaire completed by Sister B. Rohner, destined for Dr. Vischer in Basle. The people have continued dying since then. Many of the individual occurrences obediently listed below demonstrate that it is intended to bring about their annihilation.

1) Around the middle of February all children were brought from Killis to Bab, after the women had been previously deported.

2) On 16 April, the Armenians who had "resettled” in Maarra and the surrounding villages, most of whom were already considerably weakened by hunger and deprivation, were sent on in the direction of Der-el-Zor.

3) On 19 April, it became known here that the order had been given to likewise deport those 9000 Armenians in Marash who had been spared up until then and were the remainder of former 24000. During the first exile campaign, these people had sold their only belongings while carrying out the order to get ready to go on the road and since then have been severely weakened by deprivation. The implementation of the order has commenced. 120 families arrived in Aintab by 25 April, from where they are to continue to Der-el-Zor via Biredjik. On 26th or 27th a second, larger contingent is expected in Aintab.

4) As I learned on 20 April from a Turkish officer on his way from Der-el-Zor, the Mutesarrif of Der-el-Zor has received the order only to leave as many Armenians there as correspond to 10% of the local population, but to send the rest on to Mosul. The local population of Der-el-Zor could be perhaps 20000. The number of Armenians sent there is assessed at being at least 15000, so that a minimum of 13000 will have to be turned away. The Mutesarrif Suad Bey, a humane kind of person who lived in Egypt for many years, is one of the few Turkish officials who tries to mitigate the horrific orders of the government in their implementation. Nevertheless, the officer was of the opinion that the largest part of the unfortunate people would have to be deported and only very few of them would ever arrive in Mosul. Those who happen to be spared by the Bedouins, Yesidis and Kurds, will be reduced considerably in number by hunger, deprivation and illness.

News received on 19 April told us that in every station between Aleppo and Der-el-Zor, i.e. in Meskené, Abu Hrere, Hamam, Sabkha, 50–100 people are dying every day, most of them as a result of hunger.

5) On 6 April it became known to us here that massacres had occurred again near Ras-ul-Ain. One piece of news said that the largest part of the concentration camp, consisting of 14000 people, had been destroyed, whereas, according to another communication, 400 families had been led out of the camp and murdered en route. After hearing the results of the reliable enquiries of a German who spent several days in Ras-ul-Ain and surrounding areas and paid a visit to me upon his return from there on 22 April, I am forced to assume the following: the camp can now only consist of 2000 exiles. For a period of one whole month, 300 to 500 of them have been led out of the camp daily or almost daily and massacred about 10 kms away from Ras-ul-Ain. The bodies were thrown into the river, which is recorded on the large map by Kiepert of Asia Minor, on the page for Nisebin (D VI), as Djirdjib el Hamar, and which at that time of year was running very high. A Turkish officer who, because of these occurrences, was taking the Kaymakam of Ras-ul-Ain to task, received the calm answer that he was acting on orders. The communications and supply route of the 6th Army from Ras-ul-Ain to Mosul leads through that area. As the building of two bridges proved to be necessary at that point, but the 6th Army did not have enough people at hand to build them, the 4th Army delivered a Syrian Muslim pioneer battalion for this purpose about 15 April. These people, who were transported in two days from Damascus to Ras-ul-Ain and who did not know anything about the plight of the deported Armenians and, as it can be presumed, were not influenced along the way, were quite horrified upon their arrival. They were of the opinion that the Armenians had been massacred by soldiers. This again demonstrates the common belief that the act had been done under orders. In any case, this was the opinion generally widespread in the area. The executioners in the massacre near Ras-ul-Ain were members of the Circassian tribe of Chechens that had taken up residence nearby.

6) At the end of February or the beginning of March, the Armenians in the labour battalion in Aleppo were recommended to convert to the Islamic faith, partly with success. In the course of the month of March, the police compiled lists of the Armenians in Aleppo in preparation for deportation and spread the word that the only way of being spared from deportation was the conversion to Islam. When, as a result of this, a number of families went through with the conversion, they were treated as if the granting of permission for conversion were a special mercy. They were therefore deterred again, whether through fearing unwelcome attention, whether the recommendation to convert came from other authorities than those responsible, and finally, whether they found enjoyment in playing a game of cat and mouse with the Armenians.

7) In Aleppo, in March and the first half of April, not only were the Armenians severely hunted down who had come from elsewhere and were severely hunted down, but also the deportation of those Armenians who were living here began. Individual women and girls were also picked up in the streets and this condition was utilised by the organs of the government, who committed arbitrary acts. It would not have been surprising if the Armenians, whose religion and the honour of their wives had been violated by such deeds, had been driven to acts of despair.

Since 18 April, some peace has set in in Aleppo and it seems that this was due to the intervention of the Imperial Embassy. This induced the Minister of the Interior to give the order to the local authorities not to deport local residents, nor Catholics and Protestants. The form in which the Vali arranged for respite, was his promise to the local priesthood to grant mercy during the Easter celebrations. I myself do not dare yet to hope that the period of respite may last a long time or even that the danger is over. And despite the promise, some individuals have still been deported on the quiet.

I will be sending a copy of this report to the Imperial Embassy.


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