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Link: http://www.armenocide.net/armenocide/armgende.nsf/$$AllDocs/1916-07-10-DE-001
Source: DE/PA-AA/R14092
Publication: DuA Dok. 287 (gk.)
Central register: 1916-A-18548
Embassy register: A53a/1916/1952
Edition: Genocide 1915/16
Date of entry in central register: 07/14/1916 p.m.
Embassy/consular serial number: Nr. 368
Translated by: Linda Struck (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 12/18/2015

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


No. 368
Therapia, 10 July 1916

The persecution of the Armenians in the eastern provinces has reached its final stage.

The Turkish government has not been put off in the execution of its programme for settling the Armenian question by destroying the Armenian race neither by our protests nor by the protests of the American embassy and the apostolic delegate nor also by the threats of the Entente powers, but least of all by considering the public opinion of the Occident. It is now about to dissolve and disperse the last groups of Armenians who have survived the deportations.

These include Armenians who remained in northern Syria (Marasch, Aleppo, Ras-ul-Ain) as well as in some larger places in Asia Minor (Angora, Konia), especially those who had been deported there or had emigrated there earlier. But they are also clearing up among the old established population and among the Catholic and Protestant Armenians, although the Porte has repeatedly assured that the latter will be spared.

The remainder will be deported partly to Mesopotamia, partly converted to Islam.

The concentration camp in Rasul-Ain, which still had 2000 inhabitants at the end of April, has been completely evacuated; a first transport has been attacked and smashed to pieces while walking towards Der Zor; one can assume that the others have met no better a fate.

In Marasch and Aleppo the deportation is in full action; in Marasch not even the families were spared who had formerly been granted special permits by the Minister of the Interior. In Angora the Vali, Reschid Bey, well-known for his deeds in Diarbekir, is engaged in tracing the last Armenians (solely Catholics) and expelling them. The remaining Protestant and Catholic Armenians in Eski Shehr and in the areas around Ismid are being treated in the same way.

Despite all official denials, Islamization plays a great role in this last phase of the persecution of the Armenians.

Already at the end of April, Father Christoffel from Sivas reported that he had met the last Christian Armenians in Eregli; from there to Sivas the Armenians had been completely cleared away, "either deported, or converted or murdered. There was not one Armenian sound to be heard anywhere.” In Karahissar Scharki there still appeared to be a few groups of Christian Armenians; recently they were said to have formed a committee together with the local Greeks in order to instigate a revolt among the soldiers. Following this, all Armenians were arrested, ready to be deported. They preferred to convert to Islam. Consul Loytved reported from Damascus on 30 June: "All Armenians are being more or less forced to become Muslims; in Derât, 149 families have accepted Islam; only one single family remained loyal to the Christian faith."

It is high time to mention the methods practised by the Porte on the institutions which had been run so far by German and American associations for the welfare of the Armenian people in those areas, such as orphanages, hospitals, schools, etc.. The few institutions that have not yet been closed down are threatened daily with deportation of the Armenian staff, the schoolchildren and orphans and with other disciplinary actions. The only concessions allowed by the government during the past year have now been withdrawn and there is only very little hope that these institutions will be able to resume their activities after the war to the same extent as before. The Turkish government has rightly recognised that schools and orphanages run by foreigners have had considerable influence on the arousing and development of Armenian national sentiments; it is, therefore, only consistent from the government’s point of view if it puts them under rigorous control or closes them down altogether.

Likewise one should not read a disciplinary measure propelled by religious fanaticism into the enforced Islamization of the Armenians at first. Such feelings were most likely strange to the Young Turkish rulers. On the other hand, it is true that in order to be a good Ottoman patriot down to the heart, one should especially bear witness to the Islamic faith. The history of the Turkish empire from its beginning until the present day is there to prove the truth behind the saying that in the Orient, religion and nationality are identical and every Ottoman is convinced of this deep down inside. The countervailing official and unofficial assurances are insincere and, together with the accompanying custom of referring to the Koran and to tradition, are part of the traditional phraseology which has been used since the era of the reform fermanes in order to prove to Europeans the tolerance of Islam and of the Ottomans. Also, the denials with which the ministers countered the reports of religious persecution were first of all requirements of good form; but they do apply, in as far as the main motive is not religious fanaticism, as for example with the enforced conversion of the Jews and Moors in Spain in the 15th and 16th centuries, but the intention to amalgamate the Armenians with the Muslim population of the empire.

Although - for various reasons - it is regrettable that we did not succeed in bringing the Armenian policy of the Porte onto a reasonable [Crossed in Berlin and replaced by the expression ”more mild”.] course, on the other hand neither our enemies nor the so-called neutrals have the slightest right to put the blame on us or even only to demand that we publicly pronounce our disapproval. We have tried to ease the fate of that unhappy Armenian race in Turkey as well as we could, both through influencing the government as well as with our direct charity.

The nameless atrocities of all kinds, which were committed on the German civilian and military prisoners in the course of the World War by the English, French and Russians, by those three nations who call themselves the champions of the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox faith, were never the subject of protests on the part of any one of the Entente powers towards another; there is just as little evidence that a voice was ever raised in the enemy press on behalf of the trampled human rights. However, there were credible reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury had not shy away from describing the well-known acts of the crew of the Baralong and of King Stephen in his sermons as God-pleasing acts. [Comment by Wilhelm II. on this paragraph: ”very good”]

This circumstance is also known to the Porte, which repeatedly countered our protests in the Armenian question by referring to it. Not we, as is so often claimed, but rather our enemies have shown the Turks the ways of rendering suspicious elements of the population harmless without any respect for human rights. [Note by Wilhelm II. below this document: ”correct!”]


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