Germany’s Orient Policy and the First World War


The Second World War with the German Holocaust against the Jews has almost erased memory of the First World War from consciousness, and not only in Germany. World War I will again become a topic of interest only beginning in 2014, when a series of centenary commemorations will refresh the memory of those events. The history of the worldwide extinction of populations in the modern period and, with it, the role of the Germans will be recalled.

At the time, the political outlook of the Germans was largely confined to the military aspect. In the foreground stood the embattled fortress Verdun, today an unending graveyard of refilled trenches, out of which rifle tips with their fixed bayonets still jut out. Maybe Tannenberg would also come to mind, where a Hindenburg had driven the Russians out of East Prussia, and, naturally, the disgraceful Peace of Versailles, which sealed the political fate of the Prussian Empire. But the First World War was a global war that had multiple facets – and led to the gravest consequences for some peoples, consequences from which they have still not recovered.

The war constellation was clear. On one side stood the Entente – the alliance among the French Republic (totally underestimated by Germany), Czarist Russia (totally overestimated by Germany) and that real world power, England – and, on the other side, the Central Powers which, after Italy’s renunciation, included Germany and its appendix, Austria-Hungary. The German war aims were also clear. The celebrated “Place in the Sun,” which for heavy industry meant the conquest of the iron and coal centers of northern France and Belgium, and for the Junkers meant the takeover of the vast expanses of the East as a region for German settlement. The rest fell more or less under the rubric of folklore – like, for example, the ghostly campaign of a Lettow-Vorbeck in Africa.

There was still another region in which the tragedy unfolded, however, though it hardly received any attention initially: the collapsing Ottoman Empire. As a colonial power it had once pressed forward as far as Vienna but had since disappeared again from almost all of Europe. In what remained as the Asiatic portion, Germany wanted to play a part and had set its sights on the Cilician treasure-house, more or less in Adana province, with the Mediterranean port Alexandrette (Iskenderun) as a substitute colony, and the bordering cultural highland on the Euphrates and the Tigris to boot – territories which were to be connected to Germany through the economic Great Project of the Baghdad railway.

But the German “thrust towards the East” – oft cited and with good reason – was not a thrust to the southeast, as some recent historians in Turkey would like to have us believe; they do so in hopes of embedding in this notion the genocide against the Armenians as well as the expulsion and decimation of other minorities. At the time, Germany’s Orient policy (and for the Germans, the Orient started in Hungary) was not uppermost in the minds of the German political elites. The Germans would have gladly left the Balkan mess to their Austro-Hungarian partners, who were traditionally the interested party in that region. But the latter, after having gotten a bloody nose in Serbia, kept themselves out of the fray, and so Germany had to think about other solutions. “In the Balkans, as in the Europe of the Great Powers, there is one power too many. Thus the pushing and shoving,” said German Foreign Ministry head Gottlieb von Jagow in an attempt to justify the mess on the Danube. And by that he meant France and Serbia. [Doc.1915-05-23-DE-006]

The Germans intended to drum a little Prussian virtue into distant Turkey with a military mission (which initially did not really work) and sent a cavalry General Otto Liman von Sanders as the leader of the mission. It was, however, to take on more concrete forms because joint organizational structures came with consultancy.

And then there was the Orient magic, the fantasy of the 1001 Nights which the German Emperor discovered during his Jerusalem visit at the turn of the century. Through grandiose gestures, he desired to make friends with the presumed 300 million Muslims whom he thought to be bound by deep loyalty to the Turkish Sultan. A trace of the oriental fairy tale world crept into German policy, spread at home by popular authors like Karl May, who understood nothing about the Orient, and by one Baron Max von Oppenheim, who knew a lot about archaeology but nothing about politics, and who always fell wide of the mark with his views and recommendations – but who had won the ear of the Emperor.

One important group of the ruling Young Turks longed for an alliance with Germany, even though those in positions of responsibility among German politicians and diplomats thought very little of the idea of allying with Turkey, which was still considered a developing country. Germany’s ambassador in the Ottoman capital Constantinople, Hans von Wangenheim, warned against such an alliance and the top men in the Foreign Ministry, including their formal chief, the Chancellor, did not want it either. But Turkey insisted and even “our military circles have insisted on closer ties with Turkey,” as Foreign Ministry Secretary von Jagow later admitted, [Doc. 1915-04-13-DE-001] to such a point that Wilhelm II (Turkey “is offering itself outright!”) in the end ordered his ambassador in Constantinople to enter into serious negotiations with the Turkish government. [Doc. 1914-07-23-DE-002]

For what reasons did the Young Turk faction around Talaat and Enver seek Germany as a protecting power? They considered the Empire the likely victor in the World War -- that was the official reason, so to speak. Yet Germany was far away; England, with its naval superiority, was closer, Russia geographically as well, and France had left its imprint on the Young Turk elite who often spoke French. So perhaps there were other reasons why they considered Germany the ideal power for their secret aims.

Already prior to the onset of World War I, Turkey had begun to drive the Greeks out of Asia Minor – an area settled by the Greeks a thousand years before the Turks – at least they expelled them from their settlement region near the coast. The Grand Vizier confirmed the event to Wangenheim, but played it down by phrasing it thus: “the Asia Minor littoral has essentially lost its Greek population.” [Doc. 1915-03-05-DE-001]

The persecution of the Greeks was more than a response to the expulsion of the Muslims out of Europe following the two Balkan wars. In Turkey, as the later mastermind of the Armenian genocide, Talaat, had already made clear at the Young Turk congress in 1910, there was no room for Muslims and Christians. To be sure, the Constitution guaranteed their equality, but in reality that was impossible. What spoke against such equality were “Sharia and history, as well as the sentiments of hundreds of thousands of Muslims.” [Doc. 1910-10-14-DE-001]

The Danish Consul Alfred van der Zee reported on these expulsions very extensively to his superior in Constantinople: “The details of what happened there are gruesome. Women were dishonored, girls were raped, some died as a result of the abuse they suffered, children were shot while clinging to their mothers’ breasts or were killed together with them.” Greek peasants, van der Zee reported, were driven out or killed. If they complained to the authorities, they got the answer: “The foreigners should vanish.” [Doc. 1914.06-19-DK-002] The original inhabitants were simply declared foreigners by the Turkish government and were quite officially expelled or killed.

The Germans were also informed of the fate of the Greeks from Asia Minor. And Greece – and with it the Greeks – was not just some other region of the world for Germany, it was the oft celebrated cradle of civilization. And the Greek Queen Sophia was a German, she was nothing less than the sister of the Emperor quite personally.

So the Germans could have been warned. Not only because they themselves were foreigners, and at a later point in time were to become aware of it; they could also have been warned about what the Young Turks planned to do with the non-Turkish minorities, and what Talaat was later to tell the German Armenia expert Mordtmann; his formulation was that the Turkish government intended to use the World War “to thoroughly slaughter its internal enemies – the local Christians of all confessions – without being disturbed by diplomatic interventions from abroad.” [Doc. 1915-06-06-DE-012]

The moral aspect of course reflects the viewpoint of our current era. In the Empire, human rights and minority rights did not yet belong to the canon of values held by the Germans. They considered such rights rather as ugly monsters of the American independence movement and the French Revolution, to which they counterposed their “cultural values,” above all music, but also romantic nonsense like “good-naturedness” and “cosiness.”

Be that as it may, those who suffered under Germany’s Orient policy were the minorities in the Balkans and in the Ottoman Empire – Greeks, and, above all, Armenians who could expect no help from Germany, and who were driven out and killed in the following period. The beneficiaries were the Young Turks who were able to pursue their social Darwinist extermination policy under the eyes of the Germans – and partly even with their help.

Thus, in the alliance negotiations, it was not universal values that played a role, but exclusively questions of power and domination. And it was not otherwise for their Young Turk partners. In an effort to lure the Germans, the Grand Vizier – who actually sympathized with England – finally offered them the command over a fourth of the Turkish army. [Doc. 1914-07-28-DE-001] But even that was not enough for Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg, who proposed the following passage be inserted into the agreement: “For the duration of the war, the German military mission assumes the supreme command over the Turkish army” – the whole army in other words. In case that went too far, he added a qualification in a marginal note which read: “Perhaps it suffices to have a formula which secures the actual exercise of the supreme command for the military mission.” [Doc. 1914-07-28-DE-003] The Grand Vizier in effect adopted this formulation and proposed the following passage: “Turkey secures the actual exercise of supreme command through the military mission.” [Doc. 1914-07-31-DE-006]

But then War Minister Enver tricked Germany’s Ambassador Wangenheim with all the – very Ottoman – rules of the art to the point that hardly anything was left of the proclaimed German supremacy. In place of the phrase, “actual exercise of supreme command,” what appeared in the final agreement was that the military mission would be entitled to only “an effective influence on the general conduct of the Turkish army,” as Enver and Liman had supposedly agreed (“assure à la dite mission militaire une influence effective sur la conduit générale de l’armée, conformément à ce qui a été convenu directement entre Son Excellence le Ministre de la Guerre et Son Excellence le Chef de la mission militaire”: “assures said military mission an effective influence on the general conduct of the army, in conformity with what was agreed upon directly by His Excellency the War Minister and His Excellency the Chief of military mission”).

“Turks desire this wording in consideration of circumstance whereby His Majesty Sultan is Supreme Commander of Turkish army” – this is how Wangenheim sheepishly justified his turnabout, and he added, for self-assurance: “General Liman however officially informed me beforehand that he had managed to make a detailed agreement with War Minister Enver which guarantees the actual overall management by the military mission.” [Doc. 1914-08-02-DE-003] The word “officially” must have sounded to the ambassador like a sworn assurance, because he was satisfied with it and his superiors in Berlin also stood staunchly by the magic recipe. Whatever Liman did discuss with Enver, even the watered-down formulation was an empty construct for the War Minister. Liman referred to this a couple of times later but Enver dismissed it with the statement, “he had accepted the provision, which was disparaging to Turkey, reluctantly and merely in the interests of a quick agreement,” as Wangenheim reported. [Doc 1915-02-10-DE-001]

The thinking of the German diplomats in Constantinople – and also of the politicians in Berlin – was shaped by power politics and lacked any moral scruples; this was revealed in a telegram of Wangenheim’s in which he reported at the end of August 1914 on resistance within the Young Turk committees against Enver and Co., and their purely military orientation. “There are signs here of a resistance [to] military rule to be noted here,” read a cable sent by the ambassador to his superiors. “From our standpoint there would be no objection to a dictatorship by Enver – for it means no doubt war.” [Doc. 1914-08-30-DE-002]

To force Turkey’s entry into war, the Germans had for their part pulled the wool over their partners’ eyes. They deployed their two most modern battleships, the “Göben” and the “Breslau,” which they had ushered into the safe waters of the Marmara Sea – skillfully and with Greek help – in order to push Turkey into the war, which was, as Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg put it, “our most urgent interest.” [Doc. 1914-08-28-DE-001] Now, sailing under Ottoman flags, they attacked Russian ports, which act led to the declaration of war against Turkey by Czarist Russia and therewith also by the British and French.

“I have insisted on a clear written order by Enver,” Undersecretary Friedrich Zimmerman wrote, “so that we will not later be accused of having dragged Turkey deceptively into a war they did not want.” [Doc. 1914-10-25-DE-001] But that is precisely what the Germans did, as can be gleaned from the records. Enver wrote secret orders in secret letters which were to be opened on a secret call, but the German admiralty on the scene decided without any consultation whatsoever where and whom their ships attacked, and with that provoked the war.

For the Grand Vizier, the unilateral opening of hostilities by the Germans was a shock and he attempted to pull out of the affair by resigning. “Grand Vizier accused his colleague and also Austrian Ambassador and me,” Wangenheim wrote in a cable to Berlin, “of having started the action against Russia without his knowledge. He declared he could not in any case assume the responsibility for what had occurred and therefore had to resign.” [Doc. 1914-11-04-DE-004] But the Germans coolly pointed to the head of government’s signature under the alliance agreement and thus to his associated responsibility.

In connection with the alliance agreement, the Grand Vizier had also demanded certain assurances because, as he argued, he needed them to be able to justify the treaty to parliament and before public opinion. A passage that Wangenheim confirmed in a letter was to say: “Germany procures a small border correction for Turkey on the eastern frontier, which will put Turkey in direct contact with the Muslims in Russia.” This demand was supposedly intended “for the gallery,” as the ambassador wrote to Berlin, and included it in a letter to the Turkish government. [Doc. 1914-08-06-DE-003] Many years later, the Turks were to refer back to this passage in order to change the border with Armenia.

Apparently there was one faction of Germans who even agreed that the Young Turks should solve the “Armenian question” through conquests, particularly with the planned rebellions of Muslims in the Caucasus. Wagenheim’s remarks cannot be interpreted otherwise. On September 8, 1914 he sent a cable which said: “Action against the Caucasus seems to be more promising and more convincing to the Turks. A Turkish army, under the protection of the fleet, could perhaps relatively easily be landed in Batum.” [Doc. 1914-09-08-DE-001] Two weeks later, he wrote: “At any rate it is better for Turkey to strike only once its intended tasks, Caucasus-Egypt, have been adequately prepared.” [Doc. 1914-09-24-DE-003] Then, on October 6: “Turkish war declaration could have Russian invasion Armenia as consequence, even before Turkish invasion of Caucasus is prepared.” [Doc. 1914-10-06-DE-001] And on October 24 he reported that “just now a telegram from the Turkish ambassador in Rome arrived” according to which “a sustained Turkish presence in the Caucasus would be rendered more complicated due to the advanced season.” The German ambassador spoke further of the fact that an attack on Russia would be effective only “if at the same time one marched against Egypt and Caucasus.” [Doc. 1914-10-24-DE-002] For the German General Staff however a land invasion in the east from Turkish territory was not yet on the agenda.

The German Orient propagandist Ernst Jäckh (alias “Turk-Jäckh”), who was totally on the side of the Turks, spoke as early as January 2, 1915 of the fact that certain concessions could be gained from the Turks only if “they could push the Turkish border deep into the Russian Caucasus region.” [Doc. 1915-01-02-DE-004] To extend the Turkish frontier far to the east and to include the Turkic peoples in a new Ottoman Empire was the aim of the Turanists, towards whom Enver was increasingly leaning. Even today, from time to time, for example after the collapse of the Soviet Union, this Great Power dream is put back on the drawing boards. And what stands in its way like a locking bolt is the Republic of Armenia – a fact that helps elucidate the commentaries of certain Turkish nationalists.

Our new edition focuses on the political and military considerations and decisions related to Germany’s Orient policy. To be sure, many military documents were destroyed by fire at the end of the Second World War in one of the last bombing raids against Potsdam, but in the documents of the Foreign Ministry that were preserved there is a mass of military reports which make it possible to reconstruct the wartime events quite thoroughly. The biggest surprise here is that there is absolutely no reference whatsoever to an Armenian danger in any of the reports of German military experts prior to the beginning of the genocide against the Armenians, neither with reference to so-called revolutionaries nor to regular troops. And yet it is precisely due to this military danger that the Turks at the time – and even today – claimed that they were forced to deport the Armenians (deportation is a euphemism for physical elimination) to protect their own troops from sneak attacks.

After the beginning of the genocide, the Germans adopted this official, internal Turkish usage against their better judgment. Considering the intricate meshing of the military organizations of the two states in Turkey it would have been simply impossible for German officers and soldiers not to be aware of such a conspiracy if such did exist. In point of fact it is clearly demonstrable that all references to an alleged Armenian danger can be traced back exclusively to Turkish claims.

But there is more: In one report a German liaison officer says he has “new offer by Armenian bands to destroy Baikal bridge or Samara bridge. Want three thousand pounds immediately, 12,000 on completion. Guarantee: accompaniment by 2 trusted persons.” What is interesting is what the agent reports about those who are commissioning this blast: the “bands” were “recommended by the Young Turks committee.” [Doc. 1915-01-03-DE-003] This is not the only German source that confirms that Armenians initially fought against the Russians for the Young Turks, and that they did not fraternize with them. That was to change only after the genocidal actions.

In a future edition we will show that subversive Turkish actions – recommended and actively supported by the Germans – represented a real underground war against Russia. It is these methods, noted in several locations in the already published documents, which correspond to the suspicions of the Young Turks against the Armenians – according to the ruse whereby they attributed their own subversive activities to those who were to be eliminated, and thus fabricated a pretext for doing so.

Turkish historiography is currently endeavoring to present the influx of Turkish refugees out of the Caucasus and the Balkans as one of the reasons that led, weeks before the beginning of the genocide in Spring 1915, to the evacuation of Armenians from Zeitun, a city near Marash, so as to resettle Muslim refugees there, -- something which, in parentheses, failed utterly. The German Consul Walter Rößler from the Consulate in Aleppo, who was responsible for the region, had, however, as early as June 1914 learned of plans to resettle the uprooted Muslims, known as Muhajirs, in this Armenian region. [Doc. 1914-06-25-DE-003] German reports are also the source of information according to which the refugees from the Balkans refused outright to move to a desert city like Rakka, where Armenians were later deported without any chance to refuse or to turn back. The Armenians had to march farther, and then to disappear in the desert.

Germany’s Orient policy was dominated by military aims that are described in detail in the documents, but that as a rule turned out to be an illusion. “It is desired that Turkey strike soon, at the latest after accelerated establishment of Dardenelles defense,” General Staff Chief von Moltke communicated to Wangenheim already at the beginning of September 1914. “Operations at discretion. Those across Black Sea against Odessa and in Egypt particularly promising.” [Doc. 1914-09-04-DE-002]

To lead an army on the northern Russian shore of the Black Sea to Odessa would have implied the consent, if not the participation, of Rumania and Bulgaria. But it was to be more than a year before Bulgaria took the side of Germany and Rumania much later had to be defeated before the land route to the Black Sea could be cleared. The plan for a land attack on Odessa and the Crimea came to nothing. The same must be said of the plan for a landing of an armada on the Russian coast, because the maritime capacities of the Turks and Germans combined were not adequate.

It was not feasible to lead an army overland along the secure Turkish side against Russia because of the faulty road network. The Czarist Empire was always able to prevent the construction of a railway on the Russian border. Transportation by sea was the only possibility but that implied control over the Black Sea, something that was partially successful with the German battleships “Göben” and its sister ship, “Breslau.” But for secure transport of a powerful army, neither these two German battleships nor the small Turkish fleet sufficed.

Thus it came to pass that War Minister Enver undertook an attack against the Russian-Armenian border high handedly, and failed dramatically in Sarikamish. This unsuccessful battle in January 1915 is also explained away in Turkish historical works as the result of alleged Armenian treachery. The truth, as it emerges in internal German reports, was quite another: “From the Turkish Caucasus army – 3 war-ready corps -- there were according to the statement of the German General Staff officer only about 10,000 men left,” reported Sea Captain von Kühlwetter to the Berlin admiralty. “Enver is solely to blame for this. It did not move fast enough for him, and he urged the forward march before the troops had been provided with winter clothing and before the communication routes had been completed. Only a small number fell due to the Russians, the majority froze, starved, or died of sicknesses (up to 500 per day).” [Doc. 1915-03-10-DE-005]

The defeat at Sarikamish was no German setback, even though two of the three participating army corps were accompanied by German general staffers; it was an act of desperation on the part of Enver, which Liman von Sanders for example had not agreed to. It did, however, endanger the defense of the Dardenelles which were being increasingly attacked by British and French naval forces. The situation on the straits was becoming dramatic. The Entente was on the brink of victory as the Allies in mid-March 1915 started the decisive breakthrough, and the German and Turkish defenders were left with only a few grenades. The Turkish government had already prepared its flight from Constantinople, the mood was nil – and history would certainly have taken another course had they forced their way through the Dardenelles; the genocide against the Armenians indeed would not have taken place.

It may be that it was only a telegram from the American Ambassador Morgenthau that held the British back from a further attack, something which will be clarified only when the relevant American and British documents are published. “American Ambassador came back yesterday from a trip to the Dardenelles,” Wangenheim wrote in a cable to Berlin on March 19, 1915. “Official purpose of the excursion was to collect impressions in order to be able to calm down relatives in America of local Americans. Confidentially, he told me he wanted to collect material to be able to counter official English information, on the basis of his own observations, regarding success against the Dardenelles. On return he telegraphed his government, saying that, aside from the worthless outer forts, the overall defense was actually in exemplary shape, that all small damage had already been repaired, and that the defense, informed through the experience of the bombardments thus far in the installation of the artillery, supplied with adequate ammunition, had introduced changes which would make an attempt to break through again with the means used thus far practically futile. Only if the Allies wanted to risk the loss of a large number of ships and also to land a large army would Constantinople be in danger. In Chanak, which was supposedly totally destroyed, he was able to confirm only one demolished house. The mood of the troops he found was not only optimistic but actually enthusiastic. The German leadership is perceptible everywhere. Mr. Morgenthau presented his impressions to about 150 people at the American Embassy yesterday and produced a sensational effect. My colleague was apparently very skillfully manipulated by Mr. von Usedom [the German admiral responsible for the Dardenelles].” [Doc. 1915-03-19-DE-002] If this assumption proves true, then the Germans saved Morgenthau’s Constantinople with a “skillful manipulation.” Morgenthau at any rate did not discover the terrible lack of munitions.

For almost one year the crux of Germany’s Orient policy lay not in Turkey, but somewhere only a few kilometers from the German border, in the so-called Negotiner district, where the Serbs, not to be defeated by Austria, blocked the Danube waterway. Farther south then were the Rumanians, who controlled the railway stretch into the Turkish Empire and blocked munitions transports. Using every imaginable trick – threats, bribes, forged declarations, and still other tricks – the Germans managed to smuggle minimal amounts of munitions and contemplated even using airships as well as balloons, which were capable of transporting only one large missile. In Turkey there was only one factory that could produce heavy ammunition, in very defective quality. So the Germans even cannibalized the “Breslau” to get artillery and grenades to the straits. For a long time Serbs and Rumanians demonstrated unexpected weaknesses of the Central Powers Germany and Austria-Hungary – all this can be read in detail in the documents.

The inability of the German military leadership to free up a transport route to Constantinople in the first year after the outbreak of war also led to the fact that the most important initial war aim of the Germans in Turkey failed utterly: the conquest, or at least the blockade of the Suez Canal, to cut England off from rapid transport of its overseas troops, especially those from India. “Once the war against Russia has broken out, which is what foremost matters,” Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg had written to Wangenheim, “then every endeavor against the Suez Canal will be of immeasurable significance for our interests.” [Doc. 1914-09-07-DE-001] And a few days later: “Expedition against Egypt remains main focus for final aim of war.” [Doc. 1914-09-14-DE-001]

The documents lay bare the precise preparations for the Suez expedition as well as the German fears of a failure, because the alliance partners were not able to build the necessary infrastructure to make the prospect of success a reality. The first attack against Egypt failed miserably and demonstrated how much trouble the Germans had to wage war in distant lands und on unfamiliar terrain. The Turkish commander in Palestine, Jemal Pasha, proved to be a big talker, and his reserve troops composed of beduins highly praised by Orientalist Oppenheim, turned out to be useless. The Turks and Germans did not have a much better time of it in the Persian Gulf and Shatt al Arab, where the British were able to deploy their troops effortlessly and conquer the coasts – all this too can be read in the documents.

The political domination of the German diplomats, above all of Ambassador Hans von Wangenheim in Constantinople, had its limits, as the records show. Wangenheim was totally dependent on the pro-German faction in the Young Turk committee – on Enver above all, then Halil and Talaat, and, in a more limited fashion, on Grand Vizier Said Halim. The German diplomats were poorly informed about the political intentions of the committees. If these did come to light, the German reaction was often helpless – thus, for example, regarding the elimination of the capitulations, which Wangenheim internally energetically complained about, but then without any comment accepted, or regarding the transfer of the ships “Göben” and “Breslau” to Turkey, which he also criticized internally but outwardly accepted. This did not bother the German admiralty in Turkey very much. They conducted their war against Russia as they saw fit.

Like practically all German diplomats, Wangenheim was a chess piece in the game of the military. And they allowed themselves the luxury of internal quarrels in Turkey, which at times assumed tragi-comical features, for example, when German generals deposed each other, as the documents demonstrate.

Nonetheless, Liman did display undisputed military leadership qualities in the defense of the Dardenelles, just as Turkish officers and their units showed undisputed combative qualities. Later Liman was to be the only German officer who in Smyrna actually saved thousands of Armenians, albeit not out of love for mankind but rather out of military considerations.

One of the few German officers who thought differently was Liman’s General Staff chief, Franz Carl Endres, who was to make a name for himself later as a pacifist writer. He internally criticized not only Jemal’s inability to prepare an attack on the Suez Canal but also the greed and corruption of the new Young Turk generation: “Modern Turkish society, and at its head the government, is the most decadent and unscrupulous instrument that one might imagine. It feels at ease in cosmetic reforms which allow time for everyone to fill his purse and play the ‘tough guy’.” The party, “Union et Progrès,” “is known by the nickname ‘Union and Profit’, engages in wild looting of the country, and lets no one who does not belong to it make any headway, but at the same time places the most incompetent people in high places.” [1915-03-28-DE-004] In fact the transfer of Armenian wealth to its own people was to become an important motivating force for the Young Turks in the genocide. Following his critical remarks, Endres was promptly removed from power.

The originals of the material published here are available for anyone to consult. But then, who has the time and the money to study hundreds of documents in Berlin? The present documentation should above all serve the needs of interested researchers who have neither the time nor the means to conduct time-consuming research at the archives. The new view of political events made possible by the increasing availability of documents in the internet is also a form of democratization – and thereby constitutes an important and intended aspect of our work, which seeks to counteract the narrowing of viewpoints through questionable dogmas or even state-dictated interpretations.

(The documents are not available in English translation but only as German originals. Please see German section)

Copyright © 1995-2019 Wolfgang & Sigrid Gust (Ed.): A Documentation of the Armenian Genocide in World War I. All rights reserved