I have the honour of respectfully presenting to Your Grand Ducal Excellency for your gracious attention some reports, either in the original or as transcripts of the summaries, by Lieutenant Eisenmann of the aviation division formerly stationed here, whom I sent to Erivan to observe the political and military situation.
As far as I can judge, Lieutenant Eisenmann's reports generally concur with my assessment of the Armenians' circumstances and the Armenian people.
The reception in Kanakir was an almost purely military one. During the meal, several meaningless welcome speeches were held on both sides.
Despite the late hour (about half past midnight) at which we arrived in Erivan, an unusually large crowd had gathered; however, at 3.00 p.m. the previous afternoon, the time at which we had been expected to arrive, it had been very much larger. Many houses in the streets through which we passed were decorated with flowers, flags, carpets and written signs. The cavalry escorted us from Kanakir to Erivan, where troops stationed from the city limits to the town hall. Despite the long wait, enthusiastic cheers were heard everywhere. The people broke through the military cordon and surrounded the wagons, including ours, which entered the town immediately behind that of the President.
Apart from the leading Armenian civil and military representatives, all of the representatives of the nations present here were invited to the dinner at the home of the Bishop of Erivan which began at 2.00 a.m. Numerous speeches held by all the parties dealt with the joyful event of the takeover by the new government, although their attitude was a very careful one.
The Armenians have a strange view of the concept of "culture" and "civilised people". Their culture is one thousand and more years old and is apparent in the monasteries and churches built during that time, as well as in the few literary works written mainly by the clergy. These two points and Armenian Christianity are the points, which are used to prove their supposedly high culture in many of the public speeches and also in private conversations.
Despite the European sciences, which they have superficially acquired, they are and will always be kitschy and primitive Asians, although as far as intelligence is concerned they are superior to their neighbouring peoples and, in addition, mentally and materialistically very active, especially with regard to competition. One of their greatest failings, which I must not forget to mention is their lack of objectivity. It is this lack which causes them to think only in a subjective manner, i.e. to constantly speak on the one hand only of their great misfortune, their suffering and, on the other hand, to look down with disregard on people such as the Tartars, the Georgians and so on, and also to insult them.
It is, however, curious that the Armenians are not only hated by the Turks and the Tartars, but that they are not at all liked by the Georgians, the rest of the Caucasian tribes and the Russians of all nations.
As businessmen they are definitely highly competent and achieve great things. I cannot judge whether this holds true for industry, because there is no industry here.
The agricultural activities of the intelligent members of this people are said to be good. Here, too, I have no standard from which to judge, because their cultivated land is in the hands of the Turks; but I rather doubt that the farms reach the level of European, let alone German standards. I would think that, due to its inherent laziness, this people has not, until now at any rate, been open to cultural progress, nor did it need to do so, because it made a good livelihood without great difficulty on extremely fertile ground.
Taking everything into consideration which I have heard and gathered, both on the high fertility of those parts of Armenia which can be cultivated as well as on the enormous wealth of mineral resources, the efficient management of both items would allow an enormous increase in production to be achieved. However, the intervention of European companies in industry and the establishment of exemplary agricultural operations which permit conservative farmers (found everywhere) to see with their own eyes how much more can be achieved, are absolutely necessary prerequisites for this. As far as I have been informed, these prerequisites have not yet been fulfilled, because farming is carried out in the most primitive way, naturally without the use of modern machinery, etc.
Politically speaking, they are absolutely business politicians. Their opinions change today with the political resp. war-time situation, even though these are constantly unclear due to a great amount of gossip and rumours. At present, Germany is mainly the trump card, but – and this is my subjective opinion – Germany could just as well be called France and then Russia or England tomorrow; they would be embraced with the same hopes as we once were. The enthusiasm towards Germany has already died down to a great extent. It was thought that the moment we entered Erivan the Turks would disappear at our order behind the Brest-Litovsk Line and Armenia would be able to settle within its former borders. This was not only the opinion of the primitive-thinking population, but also of a great number of educated Armenians. As this hope has not been fulfilled after a period of less than two months – and normally, things always take a great deal of time as long as personal interests are not involved – the mood has changed and people are once again flirting more with England.
Here is a special case in point [Date noted in the margin: 12 September:]
On the occasion of a meeting of the wine-growing committee for the government of Erivan in Kars at the end of July, two of these men entered Mr. Haberfeld's chemical laboratory next to the conference room. By chance, they came to speak of Baku. Mr. A.D. Hudabaschian inquired whether Mr. Haberfeld already knew that the British were in Baku. Mr. Haberfeld stated that it was possible that there were some British in Baku, whereupon Mr. Keworkoff informed him that the number of British was quite a bit higher, at least 2000, and that, in addition, General Alexejef was advancing with several thousand Cossacks. Mr. Haberfeld then stated that German troops – to his knowledge about 5000 soldiers – were stationed in Tiflis; together with the Turks, they were in a position to check a possible advance on Baku. Mr. Keworkoff was not of this opinion at all; in fact, he was completely convinced that the German troops together with the Turks were not in a position to check the British and Russian troops which were being set up there, "especially since we would then, of course, support the Russians and the British".
The attitude of Mrs. Dschewanian, a Russian by birth, gives a further example of the pro-Russian attitude: when the first news spread of the Turks' defeat near Baku in Erivan, she pointed out enthusiastically to Mr. Heine that this was the beginning of a new war between Russia and Germany which would lead to the re-establishment of Russian rule in the Caucasus. The prospects for this were excellent, because the Germans were now being forced in the west by the French to fight on German ground. A large number of the grammar school teachers present (she is an art teacher) agreed with these statements.
Similar views and convictions have been heard here often, not only by Russians by birth, but also by Armenians.
Another example for the latter is Mr. Amasaep Davidowitsch Hudabaschian, the Director of the Tifliski Kupetscheski Bank, who is well-known here as the greatest friend of the Entente and who does all in his power to make propaganda for the British.
The two Americans here also definitely have an influence on the political opinion. It is easy for them to influence the people, because they employ a great number of them in their cotton processing factories and give them wages. American capital is most definitely put to use here for the good of the Entente. Not only do the people receive relatively good wages, but they are also given all kinds of benefits. For example, a club has been founded in which people can pass away the time, read, write, go for a shave, and all for free or for an extremely low price. If the people can't write, their letters are written for them. In all respects, things are made pleasant and easy for them. This club is mainly visited by soldiers; thus, it is popularly called the "Soldiers' Club". Propaganda seems to be made particularly in the Armenian army. This club is officially called the "Christian Young Men's Association". Apart from their cotton industry, the people have founded an orphanage, which is exceptionally large for circumstances here and in which, naturally, children are raised to their way of thinking. Aside from schooling, the children there are also taught all kinds of practical trades. This led me to pay careful attention to another orphanage and to carry out anti-propaganda there as well as possible by means of frequent support.
However, I recently heard from the Tartar side that the Americans' financial means seem to be dwindling, probably because remittances cannot be brought through to here.
Until two weeks ago they were not particularly interested in the sale of the goods, which they occasionally sell at a low price. But two weeks ago, [they] approached a local wholesale merchant in order to reach an agreement with him on the sale of cotton material at a very much higher price. The merchant deduces from this that the Americans' finances are no longer as excellent as they formerly were.
A remark made to me on 19 August 1918 by an older Armenian, Mr. C. A., is of interest in assessing these people, "The Armenian Government consists of Bandists [Bandisten] and Camorrists, the people are rough and wild and have no culture, and the soldiers are robbers." [Date noted in the margin: 13 September.]
Insofar as I have come into contact with them, the Armenians have a very high opinion of the people's military qualities. Part of the reserve officers are so convinced of their band of soldiers that they consider them to be among the best of the former Russian Tsar's empire. They also speak of marvels of bravery and courage in battles against the Turks under Russian and Armenian rule, and say that the reason for the retreat in their own war against the Turks is merely their inferiority in numbers.
But the opinions of the non-Armenian Russians in general and especially those who have served together with Armenians are completely different. They consider them to be people without military qualities, and they have openly called them cowards.
Old Russian officers of the Armenian army who are now serving actively, even those who are of Armenian descent, complain greatly about the troops. The old Russian discipline has disappeared completely, the Bolshevik period has allowed the soldiers to go to pot, and at present the troops cannot be trusted absolutely. It will still be quite a long while before a really well-disciplined troop has been created. Training is suffering from the lack of old, experienced officers; the greater part of the officers is made up of younger war officers (factory officers).
Among the Tartars I have come to know I have found that, contrary to my assumption, they are not at all friends of the Turks. The educated Tartars also give a reason for this, namely, that they do not expect great progress in any respect whatsoever from Turkish rule, and that Turkey only wants to gain control of the areas it has already taken over and those it still plans to take over in order to take as much as possible, while unfortunately not giving anything in return.
The manner of the Turkish Lieutenant Nuri Bey (Sokolowitsch) here in Erivan, who is a lawyer in civilian life and is now the head of the transference of the Tartars to Turkey here in Erivan, has done nothing to improve the opinion of the Tartars. He knew how to influence the Tartar people in such a manner by making them afraid of the Armenians [in] a most unjustified way and giving them false impressions of their stay in the areas occupied by the Turks that almost all the Tartars have actually migrated from here. Nuri Bey's prestige increased with each Tartar who migrated, because in this way the Tartar population decreased and, thus, the counterbalance to the Armenians fell at the same rate. In the beginning, when there were about 20000 Tartars living in Erivan, they were always an impressive power compared to the Armenians living here, but now, as barely 5000 are still here, their inferiority is significant, and using this weapon Nuri Bey forces all the Tartars to do his will. Naturally, the Tartars had to become Turkish subjects when they migrated. The living conditions among the Turks are by no means excellent, so that a great number wanted to return to Erivan. This is prevented by the military at the Turkish border.
Among the local Tartars, there is a larger number of wealthy and very wealthy people who own a considerable amount of property in the form of houses and gardens in Erivan. For this reason, it is very difficult for them to go away, for great material losses are inevitable. Despite Nuri Bey's actions, a number of them did not want to leave Erivan in order not to leave the land, which had been in many of their families for generations and not to lose large parts of their fortunes. Nuri Bey's actions must have been very firm, for there were Tartars who complained to me that it was not possible for them to complain to a higher place. I offered to send a letter for them in this matter to Halil Pasha. Halil Pasha's arrival on 31 August made this unnecessary, and those Tartars who were still here sent a delegation to him. Halil Pasha spoke to them in an extremely disapproving manner on Mr. Nuri's actions and stated that anyone who wished to remain in Erivan could, of course, do so. At the Tartars' conference with Halil Pasha, he called Nuri's actions "uncouth". Outwardly, he documented his disapproval of Nuri by ostentatiously ignoring him at the train station before his departure, contrary to the other Turks and Tartars.
J. No. B7/18.
2. Halil's first promise, the return of the Armenian prisoners, is in the process of being carried out. Until today, approx. 400 troops and officers have arrived. The condition of these people, however, is atrocious. I myself went to the train station and looked at the first 200 who arrived from Erzurum. The people were clothed in rags, some of them without footwear, covered with dirt and completely undernourished. Two died of starvation in Illuchanglu, another two on the short journey from Illuchanglu to Erivan, and three lay dying in Erivan at the train station, actually dying on the same day. A great number of them are so weak that they had difficulty descending from the railway wagon and had to lie down again immediately. It was said that they had not even received a piece of bread before their departure in Erzurum.
Supposedly, the second transport, which arrived yesterday gave the same impression. Some of those people also died. I have not yet been able to find out whether this transport was also not given any food for the railway journey, which lasted several days.
The Turkish Government permitted the Armenian refugees to return to their villages, which are now destroyed.
J. No. B10/18.
J. No. B13/18.
The list, which follows in transcript is meant to give an impression of the values the Armenian refugees have lost due to the occupation of their estates by the Turks. The village of Garachamsalu has been completely deserted by its inhabitants, who are camping here close to Erivan. I have had the information in the list gathered directly from the village inhabitants.
The village has 900 inhabitants and is called Yarahamsalu [Gharachamschlu or Karaghamschlu].
J. No. B16/18.
In Persia, the fact that Turkey has selected the name 'Azerbaijan' for the most eastern of the three Transcaucasian republics in order to be able to construct a claim to the Persian Azerbaijan has caused very strong ill-feelings in Persia. Agitation in Persia is even greater, because the Persians are by no means friends of the Tartars.