THE CITY OF ANGORA.
Angora is the capital of a vilayet, and the terminus of a branch line of the Anatolian Railway. It is the half-way house between Constantinople and Sivas, and the focus of traffic. with all the provinces of the north-east. It is naturally an important centre of commerce as well as of administration, and there was a strong Armenian element in the population of the town.
Our information regarding the destruction of the Armenians at Angora is comparatively scanty---scantier, perhaps, than in the case of any other Armenian centre of equal importance in the Ottoman Empire. Yet the documents included in this section, together with incidental references in other pieces of testimony (e.g., Doc. 109), suffice to show that the Government's order was executed here in the same fashion as at Sivas and at X.
95. ANGORA: STATEMENT BY A TRAVELLER, NOT OF ARMENIAN NATIONALITY, WHO PASSED THROUGH ANGORA IN AUGUST, 1915.
While the Armenians of Sivas and other Armenian provinces were being deported, there were repeated rumours that the deportation was to be confined to the seven vilayets in which special reforms were due to be carried out. As in the case of 1894-5, the promise of reforms was followed by massacres----and that almost throughout the whole Ottoman Empire.
The Vali of Angora, a really good man, refused to carry out the orders from Constantinople to deport the Armenians of Angora, so the Commander of the Military Forces of the Vilayet and the Chief of the Police agreed with the Vali and supported him. The leading Turks of Angora, including the religious leaders, were all of the same mind. They knew that the Christians of the place were all loyal and useful subjects of the Empire.
The Armenians here were chiefly Roman Catholics, and were all truly loyal to the Turkish Government. They had no sympathy with any national aspirations. They even refused to be called Armenians. They were simply called the "Catholic Nation," and the Government so regarded them. There were some 15,000 to 20,000 of them, and they were leaders in commerce and trade. They had more outward polish than other Armenians. They spoke Turkish, and wrote it in Armenian characters.
There were also some 300 to 400 other Armenian families who were members of the National or Gregorian Church, and had settled in Angora from various parts of Turkey.
The Armenians' houses and shops were searched during July, 1915, and neither arms nor incriminating documents were found. But the central authorities in Constantinople had decreed their extermination, and, as the Vali refused to obey them, both he and the Chief of the Police were dismissed. Their successors made themselves ready tools to carry out any orders given from above. They succeeded in deporting all the Armenians of Angora.
As in other places, a number of leading Armenians were first arrested, including some Catholics. This was towards the end of July, 1915. The Catholics were soon released; those who remained in gaol were tortured terribly. Then all the Armenians of all creeds had to register their names, including women and children---without any omissions---at the police stations. For several days the police stations were packed with people. As soon as the list was completed the deportations began. This was the second week in August. Men were led to the prisons, and stripped of all valuables, watches, purses, rings, &c. They were told that these things would be taken care of by the Government and that they would find them all safe at the place of their destination. An eye-witness who had visited the Chief of the Police, saw his office choked up with piles of such articles taken from the Armenians.
Then they were sent away, principally in three directions---some along the high-road that leads to Kaisaria and Yozgad, others in the Süngürlü direction, and others westward. Reports came from all directions that these exiles were all killed after proceeding some miles from the city. It was said that one party was shot, but in all the other cases the Turks practised economy, killing their victims with axes and daggers. Some of the perpetrators of these horrible crimes boasted of it openly in the cafés, giving details of their achievements and the number of their victims. One Albanian said he had killed fifty men. Villagers from Kilidjlar, on the way to Süngürlü, spoke to many people confidentially of how the ground in their neighbourhood was soaked with blood.
Those arrested and deported first were chiefly Gregorians, with a few Protestants among them. By the middle of August these had all been deported. They were all men; the women were apparently safe. The Government in some instances began to give money for the support of the poor ; but the scenes at the office of the Chief of the Police and at the entrance of the gaol were heart-rending. There were women and children anxiously waiting to make enquiries about their dear ones---husbands, or sons, or fathers, or friends. The only answers they got were vague assurances that they were all safe. Some, they were told, were already proceeding to their destination, and others were soon to leave. This was simply a war-measure, a temporary arrangement; as soon as the war was over, all would return home; any of the women desiring to follow their husbands or relations would be sent to the same place as they.
After the departure of the Gregorians (including some Protestants as well) about the middle of August, it was rumoured that Protestants and Catholics would be exempted from deportation. The promise was observed in some instances, e.g., in Istanos, which is a village near Angora, within about twenty miles of the city. All the Armenians of Istanos were brought, chained, to Angora. Then, after the order for exemption, the Protestants were set at liberty to return home, whereas the Gregorians were all deported.
As for the Catholics, the leaders of the Union and Progress Party sent a special message to the Bishop and his Council stating that, if the whole Catholic community, headed by the Bishop and the priests, would accept Islam, they should all remain unmolested; otherwise the order was to be carried out. This is an ascertained fact. But they all preferred to stand firm in their faith, and rejected the proposal of the Committee.
Consequently, on the last Friday in August, 1915, all the Catholics---that is, the men---were arrested. According to one earlier report, they were then butchered at a short distance from Angora; but a later report says that, when the plans for this murder were ready, there suddenly came special envoys from the Government with instructions that the Catholics were to be deported safely. Consequently they were sent to Konia, and thence to the Adana district.
The latter story may be true, as it is a fact that the Papal Envoy in Constantinople and the Austrian Ambassador pressed the Turks hard in defence of the Catholics, and they are said to have secured promises of exemption for the Catholics from Enver and Talaat. But, however that may be, it is difficult to have any preference as between an immediate death and the slower process, for deportation is nothing but a slow process of execution.
The very day that the Catholic men were sent away, all the Armenian women in Angora were hurried off to the railway station. They were told to make haste and catch up their husbands. They were at liberty to take any valuables with them. As soon as the poor creatures reached the station, they were all packed by scores, like cattle in the sheds and warehouses and barns there. The scenes in the town and at the station defy description. All the men were gone---no one knew where---and now the rest, the women and children, were left in anguish and sorrow, pain and despair, in the company of the Turkish soldiers.
Any of the women and children that accepted Islam were brought back to the town and given to prominent Turks. Those who refused were deported to Syria and Mesopotamia. Their fate must be similar to that of other sufferers from other regions.
A few Protestant families were left unmolested in the town. The Protestant pastor was deported, and nothing is known of his fate.
Many children were circumcised and placed in so-called orphanages.
96. ANGORA : EXTRACT FROM THE NARRATIVE (DOC. 88). OF MISS AA, A FOREIGN TRAVELLER IN ASIATIC TURKEY; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.
It is strange that one can live constantly in Asia Minor and actually see very little of the crimes that are going on. As one travels across the country, he feels continually the dead silence of a situation which is surrounded by crime and from which he is continually shielded.
I have just come from X. to Constantinople, five days' journey by wagon. After waiting a week in Angora, I succeeded in getting one day further along the railway to Eski Shehr, where one must wait two days longer. And finally, on a belated train, with neither light nor heating in the first-class carriage, I arrived late on the succeeding day in Constantinople.
I came alone with a Tatar servant. An English exile, who had been for many years in business in this country, joined my company and came part of the way towards his home. The English prisoners are treated very well in the country. This man, after being exiled for more than ten months, had been allowed his freedom. There are English prisoners to be found all through the country. I met several at Tchoroum. They are allowed to have a house and servants, and are treated politely, especially those of them who can speak Turkish. They go and come in the fields, and even can go hunting if they choose, and they are only restricted at night by a rule that they must be in their house by 8 o'clock. The American missionaries have supplied them with reading and are able to be distributing agents for the allowance of money made to them by the American Embassy. They are full of praise for the American Embassy, for its generosity and care.
Some of these men had been carried in the night from Angora eastward. When they started out from Angora, they could not understand why they were taken at night; but when, in utter darkness, they passed the bridge over the river beyond Asi Yozgad, and for an hour were nearly suffocated with the odour that came to them from decaying flesh, they knew why they were not allowed to pass in the daylight. People say that the mountains round Asi Yozgad are a cemetery; I could not see evidences that would prove this, except some suspicious heaps of earth and stone that seemed to me likely to have been raised over pits that had been dug.
In Angora I learned that the tanners and the butchers of the city had been called to Asi Yozgad, and the Armenians committed to them for murder. The tanner's knife is a circular affair, while the butcher's knife is a small axe, and they killed people by using the instruments which they knew best how to use.
These stories are too horrible for repetition.
The Ottoman Bank President showed bank-notes soaked with blood and struck through with daggers with the blot round the hole, and some torn that had evidently been ripped from the clothing of people who had been killed-and these were placed on ordinary deposit in the bank by Turkish officers.
An interesting story was told of the Catholics of Angora. It had been rumoured, at the time people were deported from Angora, that the Catholics were to be allowed to be free. But the rumour was not corroborated, and the Government did not recognise it. So the Catholics were all gathered together at the station and sent off. Many of the men had been sent separately before, but this was a second large company. I think it also included women. They had reached this town, Asi Yozgad, and the people were there to kill them. The priests with them begged ten minutes for prayers and the presenting of the sacrament to them. The ten minutes were granted, and, as the whole company knelt and prayed, a horseman rode up suddenly, shaking a paper in front of him and crying: "Your freedom is given ! Your freedom is given You are not to be killed! " The officers would not send them back, but they saved their lives and sent them south instead.
The favour that had been obtained through the Austrian and American Embassies in Constantinople for Catholics and Protestants to be exempted from deportation, is in some cases being faithfully observed, but in others not at all. I was in Sivas when the rich village of Perkenik was entirely and most ruthlessly deported. It was an entirely Catholic village of perhaps one thousand homes. They had beautiful horses and great flocks of sheep. The flocks and horses were sent into the city, and the people were literally driven out with whips. When a complaint was made to the officers that this should not be done, because they were Catholics and had been especially faithful to the Government at all times, the reply was given that politics had changed, and that Italy had entered the war since this order had come from Constantinople.
In Angora I found that many Catholic women and children had been left there, but all have become Mohammedans. The Protestant women and children were also still there, though the men have practically all been taken away. A few have been heard from at Osmania.
At Süngürlü, I visited the Protestant community after I arrived in the evening. Their story was a sad one. They had been threatened that they would be deported with the other Armenians of the city, but one of their number, who was in employment elsewhere but was at home for a time on a holiday, besought the Kaimakam for the Protestants. The Kaimakam said he had no orders, but that he would wire to Constantinople and see what the orders were. In the meantime they were all taken to "hans," and families were ruthlessly broken up. However, the Protestant community managed to get together for a meeting, and, as a body, they put in a formal petition to the Government for their safety, saying that they knew it was the intention of the Constantinople Government that the Protestants should be saved. Finally the Kaimakam yielded to this request and returned them all to their homes; the Gregorians were all sent away from the city, and from several reliable sources the story has come to me that none of them got further than Yozgad alive. These Protestants and the families of a few Armenian soldiers remained in Süngürlü for a few weeks, and then all at once they were taken up and carried to different villages. Again families were broken up, and they suffered great deprivations because the Turkish villagers were afraid to feed them. However, after two weeks' absence from the city, they were allowed to come back to their homes. One large family, of the influential ones, was chosen out and compelled to accept Islam. This family included the spokesman who had been instrumental in saving them.
97. ANGORA: EXTRACT FROM A LETTER(137) DATED 16th SEPTEMBER, 1915 ; APPENDED TO THE MEMORANDUM (DOC. 11), DATED 15 /28th OCTOBER, 1915, FROM A WELL-INFORMED SOURCE AT BUKAREST.
At the end of the month of July, all Armenian men from 15 to 70 years of age were arrested without exception, bound together in gangs of four, and despatched towards Kaisaria. Everything they possessed had first been stolen from them, except for 31 piastres that each man was allowed to keep. In the valley of Beyhan(138) Boghazi, six or seven hours' distance from the town, they were attacked by a wild horde of Turkish peasants, and, in pursuance of the order, were all massacred with clubs, hammers, axes, scythes, spades, saws-----in a word, with every implement that causes a slow and painful death. Some shore off their heads, ears, noses, hands, feet with scythes ; others put out their eyes. Thus was exterminated the whole male Armenian population of Angora, including the "political prisoners" who had been brought thither from Ayash and Kingri(139), and our best poets, professors and journalists, as well as the manager of the Imperial Ottoman Bank In Angora, and all Armenian officials in the public service. The bodies of the victims were left in pieces in the valley, to be devoured by the wild beasts. The gendarmes boast about the part they played in these exploits.
Ten or fifteen days after these massacres, the Government arrested the men of the Armenian Catholic community at Angora. A convoy of 800 persons was sent off under the same circumstances as the others. Another convoy of 700 persons followed these, and so on---all bound together in gangs of four, and all deprived of food and clothing. The order had been given that these were not to be murdered en masse; they were to be pushed ahead until they died of hunger and fatigue. Then began the deportation of their families. In two hours, all the women were collected together in the goods-shed at the station. They were left there for from three to five days without food and at the mercy of the gendarmes' outrages. Children of rich families begged for a piece of bread when they happened to see a passenger. Part of these women had to embrace Islam ; the rest, about 500 in number, were deported to Konia. The Armenian soldiers working on the railway have been forced, under threat of death, to embrace Islam. More than 1,500 soldiers have already been converted by force, and they are obliged to make their children and their other relations follow their example.
THRACE, CONSTANTINOPLE, BROUSSA, AND ISMID.
These districts are divided officially into the Vilayet of Adrianople, the Sandjak of Chataldja, the Vilayets of Constantinople and Broussa, and the Sandjak of Ismid, which contains the first section of the Anatolian Railway. Together they constitute the metropolitan area of the Ottoman Empire, and for many centuries this area had attracted a strong Armenian immigration, in spite of its remoteness from the original home of the Armenian race.
At Constantinople the number of the Armenians had risen to more than 150,000, and in wealth and importance they were becoming serious rivals of the Greeks. In Thrace they had established themselves not only at Adrianople but in all the lesser towns, and seemed likely to reap the benefit of the expulsion of the Greek and Bulgarian elements, which the Ottoman Government had been effecting systematically since the Balkan War. There was a flourishing colony of them at Broussa, the chief city on the Asiatic littoral of the Sea of Marmora, and there were not less than 25,000 of them at Adapazar, in the hinterland of Ismid. This metropolitan region had practically become the centre of gravity of Armenian commerce, and the organisation of the Gregorian Church in the Ottoman Empire was centralised here as well. The Armenian Patriarch had his residence at Constantinople, the administrative centre of the Ottoman Government, and there was a Gregorian Theological Seminary at Armasha, a country town in the vicinity of Ismid.
The Deportation Scheme had emanated from the Government at Constantinople, but the home provinces were among the last to which it was applied. The smaller towns of Thrace seem to have been cleared towards the beginning of August ; the clearance was more or less contemporaneous at Broussa and Ismid; the Seminary at Armasha was broken up by the wholesale exile of pupils and teachers, and the flourishing Armenian villages in the district shared the same fate ; at Constantinople, the Government compiled a register of Armenian inhabitants, singling out those who were immigrants from the provinces from those actually born in the city, and a considerable number of prominent people in the former class had been deported by the middle of August. However, the Government seems either never to have intended to apply the scheme to Constantinople in its full rigour, or at any rate to have yielded, in the course of applying it, to representations from authoritative quarters. The measure was never here made universal, while at Adrianople it seems hardly to have been put into practice at all until the 10th October, though it was executed then with particular stringency.
The Armenians deported from the metropolitan districts do not seem often to have been massacred on the road---there were no Kurdish tribes or "Chetti" bands at hand. They were despatched towards the Arabian desert along the Anatolian Railway, and this, rather than any clemency on the Government's part, accounts for the two months' grace that they received. The Armenians further down the line had been sent off in June and July, and the metropolitan districts had to wait until the consequent congestion had abated. The fate of all those deported by the railway is described in the documents contained in the section XIV., following this.
98. THE METROPOLITAN DISTRICTS: INFORMATION PUBLISHED IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL "GOTCHNAG," OF NEW YORK.
(a) Thrace : Survey of the situation(140), published on the 28th August, 1915.
At Adrianople, all Armenian officials in any administrative, public or financial service have been dismissed by order of the Government. The Turkish soldiers transferred here from other districts are committing unheard-of atrocities. The Armenians are continually exposed to persecution. About fifty Armenians from the city have been imprisoned or exiled. The Armenians are forbidden to go abroad, or even to travel within the boundaries of the Province. The Armenians of Keshan have been exiled. The Armenian boatmen of Silivri have been imprisoned, on the charge of revictualling the English submarines.
The Armenian Church and Monastery at Dhimotika have been confiscated by the Government. They gave two weeks' grace to the Armenians of this locality in which to emigrate to other parts.
The Armenians of Malgara were also given two weeks' grace before their exile. Their houses are to be occupied by Turkish refugees from Serbia.
The Armenians of Tchorlu have been deported.
(b) Constantinople : Statement(140), published on the 4th September, 1915.
In all the quarters of Constantinople they have begun to make a register of the Armenians, entering on separate lists those actually born in Armenia and those whose birthplace is Constantinople. It is thought that they are going to deport the immigrants from Armenia.
Six Armenian pupils of the Normal School of Ottoman Teachers at Constantinople have been poisoned during a meal. One of them---Khosrov, born at Van---has died; the five others are under treatment in hospital. The Turkish press at Constantinople is beginning to prepare public opinion for the loss of Armenia. The Tanin and the Sabah, in particular, have devoted articles to the subject, preaching the idea that it is in Turkey's best interest to have a homogeneous population. In consequence, they argue, the Armenians must be eliminated as irreconcilable enemies.
(c) Constantinople and the neighbourhood : Statement(140) published on the 2nd October, 1915.
According to a despatch published in the American Press, the Armenians of the Pera quarter (of Constantinople) have taken flight. Nearly 4,000 Armenians from Constantinople have found asylum in Bulgaria. Recently there was a rumour that all the Armenians in the Scutari quarter were going to be deported. Enver Pasha has confirmed these rumours, and added that, if he chooses, he can have all the Christians of Constantinople deported within a fortnight, and leave no one there but Turks and Germans. According to another rumour, the Armenians of Scutari and Ortakeui have already been deported. The villages on the upper Bosphorus have likewise been cleared of their Armenian inhabitants. We have been informed by letter that the Armenian girls who were being educated at the American school at Constantinople have been carried off by the Turks.
At Broussa they have converted all the rich Armenians to Islam ; the poor have been deported. Their children have been sold at 20 piastres each (3s. 4d.).
At Smyrna, several Armenians were recently hanged. The Austrian Consul on the spot requested the Austrian Ambassador at Constantinople to demand an explanation from the Turkish Government. He received the reply that the Armenians possess a Patriarchate, and ought to make any representations through this channel. "As for you, if you are our allies, you ought not to meddle in such questions."
99. CONSTANTINOPLE : LETTER, DATED CONSTANTINOPLE, 18 /26th OCTOBER, 1915, FROM AN ARMENIAN INHABITANT ; PUBLISHED IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL "BALKANIAN MAMOUL," OF ROUSTCHOUK(141).
You must by now have received my second letter. To-day. I shall not be able to write you very much, for time is short and I am extremely depressed in spirit.
Besides, what would you have me write ? For ever it is calamities, miseries and sorrows.
The last news is that the Seminarists of Armasha have been sent to Constantinople and put under the charge of the Patriarchate. The whole congregation, with its Superior at its head, has been deported and the Convent has been confiscated; the Superior has even been robbed of the £400 (Turkish) realised by the sale of the Convent's live stock and various other properties.
A month ago they began to deport the unmarried men from the provinces who had established themselves at Constantinople. So far they have deported from four to five thousand persons, and this without warning and without giving them time to put their affairs in order. The families of those deported to Ayash and Etchangeri(142) had been given notice, to leave Constantinople, but afterwards this order was reconsidered. Is this the beginning of the deportation of the Armenian population of Constantinople, for which the Government has so far shown a certain consideration ?
The majority of those who had been deported to Ayash and Etchangeri have been brought back to Angora; at the present moment we have no news of them, and no news either of those who have remained at Ayash and Etchangeri. As I wrote to you in my last letter, they also have been assassinated. Indeed, a connection of the Prefect of Police actually said: "The Armenians are making demonstrations at Sofia, Roustchouk and other places, and are presenting protests. We have given them their answer by exterminating the prisoners at Ayash."
As for the deportations from Anatolia and Armenia, they are being continued systematically. The whole Armenian population of Konia and Angora is on the road, and is at present concentrated along the line of the Baghdad Railway, in the last extremity of misery. They are being sent to Tarsus and Aleppo, to be forwarded in due course to the desert.
In consequence of certain diplomatic representations, the Government had given instructions not to deport the Catholic or Protestant Armenian families, or those whose broad-winners had been mobilised. But these instructions have been very speedily withdrawn, and are only followed in a small number of places.
The families of mobilised Armenian soldiers who had got as far as the course of the Railway, had received orders to wait, but we hear now that they have been subjected to brutal treatment. These women, who were concentrated at Eregli, beyond Konia, had made representations to the Government and claimed the restoration of their mobilised sons. The result of these representations is not yet known.
The situation of the exiles in Syria is lamentable. The despatch of relief is urgently required, in order at least to save the survivors. Let the Armenian colonists abroad come to their aid before it is too late. A halfpenny saves a life. Don't disdain to give this halfpenny.
100. ADRIANOPLE : DESPATCH FROM THE CORRESPONDENT OF THE LONDON "TIMES" AT BUKAREST, DATED 18th DECEMBER AND PUBLISHED ON THE 21st DECEMBER, 1915.
I have received information in regard to the wholesale extirpation of the Armenian population of Adrianople.
On the 10th October the Turkish police arrested 45 Armenian inhabitants who had become Bulgarian subjects. The prisoners were transported to Constantinople, and thence to Asia Minor, with the exception of 10 who escaped and took refuge in the Bulgarian Legation at Pera. On the intervention of the Bulgarian Government these persons obtained liberty to return to Karagatch. In regard to the fate of the remaining 35 the Porte professes ignorance.
Shortly afterwards, all the Armenians in Adrianople---about 1,600 persons---were arrested, and the men immediately deported to Asia Minor. The women and children were detained two days in prison before removal, and were subjected to brutal treatment by their captors. Several were subsequently placed in sailing vessels for transportation to Asia Minor. Two of the vessels foundered off Rodosto and most of those on board were drowned. Some of the exiled families were sold at derisory prices, for the most part to Jews.
A deputation from Karagatch proceeded to Sofia to invoke the intervention of the Government, but have received no reply to their petition. A memorial previously addressed to the Bulgarian Government by another deputation gives a frightful picture of the sufferings of Armenian prisoners in Asia Minor at the hands of the Turkish authorities.
The document furnishes a list of 29 districts in which the whole Armenian population, numbering some 835,000 persons, have been either killed or exiled or forcibly converted to Islam. One ecclesiastic was burnt alive, five were hanged or otherwise killed, and ten were imprisoned.
101. BROUSSA : REPORT BY A FOREIGN VISITOR TO THE CITY, DATED 24th SEPTEMBER, 1915 ; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.
It was inevitable that the Armenians, whose deportation from Broussa and the environs had been ordered a few days before my arrival, should occupy some of my attention. It is doubtful whether the full significance of this measure can be realized without a visit to the interior, where the results may be seen in all their appalling details. Words are inadequate to describe the utter misery and destitution of these hordes of emigrants who are to-day roaming all over Asia Minor. The roads are crowded with thousands upon thousands of these unfortunate wretches, considering themselves lucky if they are able to procure ---at the sacrifice of a small fortune---an ox-cart for their families and a few belongings; many of them journeying on foot----men, women and children, tired, haggard, and half-starved---the pictures of want and desolation. Broussa was among the last of the more important cities to receive the order for the deportation of the Armenians, so that I had occasion to see the application of the measure from the very beginning. Thus I met the first contingents of the exiles between Broussa and Yeni-Shehr. The authorities had given them three days in which to clear out, with the result that they could not sell any of their property, even had there been buyers. All personal property, such as furniture, clothes, tools, etc., which they could not take with them, had to be left behind, and the Turks quite openly distributed them among themselves, often even in the presence of their owners ! As regards the houses evacuated by the Armenians, a little more red tape was gone through, but the effect was the same. The Armenian proprietor was called before a magistrate, made to sign a document that he had sold the house to a certain individual (of course always a Moslem), and was given a roll of banknotes. No sooner had he left the room than the money was taken from him by the police and returned to the magistrate, to be used in hundreds of similar cases!
I realised, of course, that I was quite powerless---even unofficially---to interfere with these proceedings. But there were certain other points which came to my knowledge and about which I did not hesitate to speak to the Vali---always quite informally only---as they seemed to me a useless and senseless aggravation in a situation which was already trying enough. In the first place, hundreds of Catholic and Protestant Armenians had been ordered away---many of them had even left---although, according to the decision of the Government, they had a right to remain. I obtained from the Vali the promise that in future these two denominations should not be disturbed, and that those who had "by mistake" been sent away should be called back. This was done, and during the next few weeks a number of Catholic and Protestant families returned. I then asked that those ordered to leave should be given at least a week, and in a few special cases even two weeks, in which to get ready. This enabled many families to make the most necessary preparations for the journey. A few casual remarks to the Vali about flogging and forcible conversions of women and girls to Mohammedanism seem to have put a stop also to these two outrages---at least, so I was informed at the American School, which was in close contact with everything going on in the Armenian community. I cannot but refer in this connection to the altogether admirable work done by the ladies of this institution in helping the unfortunate exiles in the most unselfish and efficient manner. But for their devotion and practical assistance, the sufferings of many families must needs have been much greater.
Unfortunately, the hardships of exile and privation are not the only dangers to which the Armenians are exposed. There can be no doubt that many of them---chiefly men---have been massacred in cold blood. Although no instances of this seem to have occurred during my stay in Broussa, I was informed by very trustworthy sources that, shortly before my arrival, about 170 of the most prominent Armenians from Broussa and neighbouring towns had been shot near Adranos, whither they had been exiled in June. I have all the more reason to credit this report because, when I made inquiries concerning two of the men, the brothers A., whose relatives live in America and who are insured with American companies, the Vali replied evasively, but finally said that he had heard that they escaped from custody and had disappeared!
However, even if no Armenians had been killed outright, the result would be the same, for the deportation as carried out at present is merely a polite form of massacre. Unless the whole movement be stopped at once, there is, I am firmly convinced, not the slightest chance of any of the exiles surviving this coming winter, except possibly the very wealthiest amongst them.
Nor do the authorities make any secret of the fact that their main object is the extermination of the whole Armenian race. The Vali admitted quite frankly: "We are determined to get rid, once and for all, of this cancer in our country. It has been our greatest political danger, only we never realized it as much as we do now. It is true that many innocents are suffering with the guilty, but we have no time to make any distinctions. We know it means an economic loss to us, but it is nothing compared with the danger we are thereby escaping ! "
Without commenting on the truth or falsity of these remarks, the fact remains that the Turks are rapidly depleting their country of some of the thriftiest, most intelligent, and, in many respects, the most valuable elements of their population. One has only to walk through the streets of any town in, the interior to realize how this deportation has wrought havoc with the life, of the community. Nearly all doctors, dentists, tailors, carpenters are gone---in short, every profession or trade requiring the least skill has been stopped, not to mention the complete stagnation of all business of any. consequence. Even Turks are realizing the danger, and in some villages they petitioned the authorities to allow certain Armenians to remain! It is therefore all the more surprising that the Ottoman Government persists in this short-sighted policy, for there can be little doubt that every place left vacant by an Armenian will---irrespective of the outcome of the European conflict---have to be filled by a foreigner, as the Turk has proved himself totally incapable of doing this kind of work.
102. ADAPAZAR : STATEMENT, DATED 24th SEPTEMBER, 1915, BY A FOREIGN RESIDENT IN TURKEY ; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.
On the 1st August the beating began in the church. The object of this was to force the people to bring in any ammunition and firearms they might have. Most of the people accepted their fate in silence, but one man said boldly: "You must answer to God in heaven for these things."
"What do I care for your God in heaven ? He says you are good people and I must not beat you ; but he is not good, we must kill him."
A mother threw herself in front of her consumptive son, and herself received the stripes. A German woman tried to save her Armenian husband. "Get out of the way or I will beat you," cried the Beast. "I don't care for the Emperor himself---my orders come from Talaat Bey."
Some Armenian ladies came to intercede with the Beast, and for a day or two the beatings were less vigorous.
Then came the awful Saturday, the day of darkness and horror. Women came to our house saying: "They are beating the Armenian men to death, and they are going to beat the women next ! " I ran to a neighbour's house and there found men and women crying. The Protestant brethren had gotten out of the church and were telling their story. "They are beating the men frightfully," they cried. "They say they will throw us into the River Sakaria; they will send us into exile; they will make Mohammedans of us; they will beat our women next; they are coming to the house."
"Come to the school and I will put up the American flag," I said. Soon after, more women came to the school to find out if I could do something.
"We will go to the mayor; we will go to the Beast," said they, "and we are all losing our heads!"
Then our woman doctor came, crying frightfully. She had been down to the church to care for the wounded. Then the trustee came. "I want you to take my money and give it to my son if I die," said he. Then he sat down and wept, the tears rolling down his face.
At last I could endure it no longer. "I am going to the church; I do not care what you say," I exclaimed. I did not know the way and every one was afraid to show me, but I found it by inquiring. One man said: "You are going to the church ? It is hell there." I arrived and walked past the guards at the gate without looking at them, and came to the door and lo, one of the trustees came to meet me. We walked up and down the church together and he remarked: "I think the police do not like to see you.? I said: "They had better not; I am going to America to tell of all these things." He said there was one Turkish soldier outside the church in tears. He said he had been crying three days and nights because of the awful treatment of the Armenian people. Some of the people were shut up ten days in the church, but special favour was shown to the Protestants ; none were beaten, and they had more liberty to go in and out. During all this time the Armenian shops were closed, and Armenians were not allowed to go to market to buy food or even to their gardens to gather their fruits, so that many were on the verge of starvation.
Three days after this the beating ceased and we were beginning to take courage again; a few Armenian shops were opened; but the next morning early, which was Sunday, news came that all the Armenians in Adapazar, numbering about 25,000, were to be sent into exile. They were to go to Konia by freight train, if they could pay their passage, and then to Mosul by carriage--on foot a journey of weeks and months. Such awful stories came to us about things that had happened to those who went on foot, that people sold their last possessions to get enough to pay their train passage. They were afraid to take money with them. The poor had none to take; the rich must leave all their property behind. If they took money they feared violence. By Wednesday there were no goods trains to send them by, as so many had gone, but all the people were turned out into the streets to await their turn---many for several days---except the, Protestants, who were allowed to come to the Protestant church to wait, while some of the wealthy people remained in their houses. The Protestants, in Adapazar especially, were in good favour with the Government, and their condition is somewhat hopeful.
A card has been received, written three weeks after the exile began, from Eski Shehr, telling how some of the Protestants in the hotel there were allowed to have their church services on Sunday and were being well treated. They thought it possible that they might be able to rent houses and remain there. If this is indeed true it will be a very great blessing.
103. ADAPAZAR : FULLER STATEMENT BY THE AUTHOR OF THE PRECEDING DOCUMENT ; PUBLISHED IN THE JOURNAL "THE NEW ARMENIA," OF NEW YORK, 15th MAY, 1916.
For several months there had been occasional exiles from Adapazar, but we felt safe because we had a good Mayor and a good Military Commander in the city. They were our friends. The Commander frequently joined us in our daily games of croquet, while the sick soldiers watched us from the windows. We gave a garden party to all the officers. They liked us and would have spared the school and the Protestants had they been able. But one day little Arousiag, one of our youngest pupils, came to us, a refugee, with only the clothes on her back. She had been staying with relatives at Sabandja, but the whole village had been exiled. As she had been born in America, of naturalized parents, she was saved, and I was afterwards able to bring her to her parents in America.
Soon after, some villagers whom I knew came from another mountain village, Tchalgara, and from their lips I heard how for seven days the men had been shut up in the church and beaten ---especially the priest---until some fainted. The Government was searching for weapons, and the men were beaten until they either produced their own or secured others to surrender. Then in Bardezag, our nearest neighbouring missionary city, similar things happened. We did not know what was going on in the interior, although occasional vague rumours had come to us.
Then horrible cruelties began in Adapazar. About 600 important men were imprisoned in the Gregorian church. Those belonging to the Socialist Party were mercilessly beaten. Most accepted their fate in silence, but one man said boldly : "You must answer to God in Heaven for these things." "You have no God but me," was the response, and the man was beaten till his feet were red with blood. "What do I care for your Mayor ?" continued the Beast, as he was called: "He says you are good people, but he is no good himself. Kill me if you wish," he continued, "but ten men will come to take my place." A mother threw herself in front of her invalid son and herself received the stripes. A German woman tried to save her Armenian husband. "Get out of the way or I'll beat you," cried the Beast ; "I do not care for the German Emperor himself, my orders come from Talaat Bey." But afterwards the man was released. When I heard these things I knew it was of no use for me to try to interfere ; if the Beast would not listen to a German, he certainly would not to an American.
One day two of our delicate ladies went to see the Beast---to plead, like Queen Esther, for their people---saying, by this act : "if I perish, I perish." They found a man of fine appearance who had been educated in Europe, and who received them most politely. "We have heard bad things about you," they said, but now we see that you are a good man. Can't you persuade the people to surrender their arms without beating them ?" "I am glad to see you so patriotic," he responded, "and would be glad of your assistance. You go, too, to the houses and persuade the people to give up their arms, and it will be well with them." So these two ladies hired a carriage and drove up and down the city, exhorting the people to surrender all their arms.
For a day or two the beatings were less. Then came the awful Saturday---the day of darkness and horror. Someone came running to the school-house crying: "They are beating :the men in the church to death, and are going to begin on the women next."
I ran over to the neighbour's house and there I found men and women crying. Two of our Protestant brethren had escaped from the church and were telling their story. "They are beating the men frightfully," they cried. "They say they will throw us into the River Sakaria ; they will send us all into exile ; they will make Mohammedans of us. They are going to the houses to beat the women next." I begged the women to come to the school and I would put up the American flag, but they did not wish to leave their houses to be pillaged, although they promised to come if necessary.
Soon after , more women came to the school, frantic to do something. "We will go to the Beast; we will go to the Mayor," they cried, and we were all losing our heads. Then our lady doctor came. She had been to the church to care for the wounded and the tears were streaming down her face. Then one of the school trustees came. "I want you to take my money and give it to my son if I die," he said. Then he sat down and the tears streamed down his face and mine. At last I could endure it no longer. "I am going to the church ; I don't care what you say !" I exclaimed, and I put on my hat and started. I did not know the way to the Gregorian church and everyone was afraid to show me, so I had to find my way by inquiry. "You are going to the church ? " asked one man : "It is hell there." I arrived. I walked past the guards without even looking at them, and there at the open door stood one of the trustees, Mr. Alexanian. "Can't I speak to the police and get you out ?" I asked. The other trustees had already left. "No," he said, I am superintendent now."
The beatings had ceased for a time, in order that leading men might go out to search for weapons. Mr. Alexanian would write down their names as they went out, erasing them when the men returned." I am glad I was here last night," he continued, "for I have been able to help the poor people to-day." How many of us would be glad of the privilege of spending a sleepless, bedless, chairless night for the sake of being useful ? He told the same sad story of awful beatings. No Protestant had been beaten. The Turks have always been favourable towards the Protestants, especially in Adapazar. This trustee told how after the beatings he went outside the church and found a Turkish soldier in tears, who said he had been crying three days and nights because of the wrongs inflicted upon the Armenian people. So you see there are some good Turks. It is the Government that is responsible, not all the people.
Soon after this, an important exile returned, the father of our two sweetest kindergarten children, and the head of a society. Great anxiety was felt on his behalf, for we feared he would be hanged and we grieved for his refined and delicate wife. He answered boldly at the trial. "Why do you punish these men ? If there is any fault it is mine, and yet I also am guiltless. This society was organized with the permission of the Government. You allowed us to obtain firearms." Which was all very true. The Government was hatching a diabolical scheme to send all the Armenians into an endless exile, and wished first to disarm them.
Sunday brought new terrors but no especial troubles. On Monday the Beast left the city, and our hearts were filled with a subdued rejoicing, even though he said he would return on Wednesday. We did not believe it. We thought he had been recalled on account of his cruelties. As to the man himself, he was an ex-convict, having been implicated in a conspiracy against the Government and sentenced to a thousand years imprisonment. He was working for his liberty by carrying on this devilish work, and, to give himself courage for it, he drank heavily of the most intoxicating liquor.
During these ten days of imprisonment all Armenian shops were closed. The Armenians could not go to market to buy provisions or even to gather the produce of their gardens. Many were on the verge of starvation. On Saturday evening a few shops were opened, and we began to take heart a little. Some were fearful of exile, but I declared it would be impossible to send from twenty to thirty thousand Armenians from one city into exile, though a few would doubtless be sent. At this time the Government collected taxes from the Christians a year in advance---a bad sign. On Sunday morning I was awakened early by someone calling below my window. I put out my head and was informed that all the Armenians in Adapazar were to be sent into exile. As early as possible I went to the Mayor to intercede for the people, but it was useless. He would not even promise to protect our American property, and out of the entire city I could save only little Arousiag, who was American born.
From that Sunday onwards, the streets were full of Armenians trying to sell their possessions for a mere pittance. All was very quiet---the silence of despair. Even the Turks looked serious, for they knew that their city was financially ruined, as the Armenians are the most thrifty and skilful of all the peoples of Turkey. In spite of apparent quiet, however, robbery was not lacking. A poor servant girl was trying to sell her sewing machine---her only possession--and when she refused to sell it for four dollars, a man seized it and ran away with it. A few days later, the husband of one of our school servants was bringing their machine to our school when a man snatched it from his shoulders.
The people who had any money went to Konia (the ancient Iconium) in goods-trucks, being allowed to take only a few possessions with them. They were told to leave their possessions in the churches and they would be safeguarded, but the same promise had been made in Sabandja, and the church had been looted almost before the people were out of the city, so nobody trusted this promise. The exiles were crowded on the top of their possessions, sixty to eighty people in a truck marked for forty people. Some missionaries from the south met a train-load of these refugees and described their condition as miserable in the extreme. One girl had hanged herself on the way; others had poison with them. Mothers were holding out their beautiful babies and begging the missionaries to take them. A Turkish officer ordered the Americans off, saying "These Armenians are dangerous people; they may have bombs."
From Konia they were to go by foot or carriage to a desert place called Mosul, in Mesopotamia. Those who had no money must make the entire journey on foot. Such dreadful stories came to their ears as to the treatment of those who walked---of how people were not allowed to sell them bread, of how they were robbed, and families separated, the men slain and the women and girls given to the Turks, the children sold to be brought up as Mohammedans---that people sold their last possession so as to be able to go as far as possible by train.
They were afraid to take money with them, lest they should be robbed by the way. They must leave all their property behind, and as soon as they vacated their houses, refugees from Macedonia took possession of them. What a lamentable condition---to be poor and in danger of starvation ; to be rich, accustomed to luxury and refinement, and then suffer all these things ; to be a woman, especially a pretty woman, with all a woman's dangers (some in Constantinople told me they would disfigure their faces if they were exiled) ; to be a man and see all these things and yet be unable to lift a finger in resistance ; to be there and endure to be here and imagine!
How can the people keep their faith in God during such trials ? How many will deny and curse Him ? How many will accept Mohammedanism ? Or how many will remain faithful to the end, and say through their tears: "Though He slay me ---or worse than slay me---yet will I trust in Him ?" Again and again they said to me: "Oh, if they would only kill me now, I would not care ; but I fear they will try to force me to become a Mohammedan."
What was the meaning of all this ? It was the death blow aimed at Christianity in Turkey, or, in other words, the extermination of the Armenian people---their extermination or amalgamation. And why ? At the beginning of the struggle, or soon after, the Holy War was declared. This signified a purpose to kill all Christians, the reward for which is eternal pleasure in the Mohammedan paradise. At first Turkey declared that the Holy War was directed only against nations at war with herself, but later she waged it against all Christians.
The Armenians were so patient, so silent and uncomplaining. We came very near to each other in those days. "You have made our sorrows your sorrows," they said to me: "You have an Armenian heart." But as the realization of what their exile actually meant dawned upon me, I could neither eat nor sleep. One day I said to my friends: "I cannot comfort you to-day; you must comfort me. I think I feel worse than if I were going into exile myself." And they were so brave and cheerful that I did actually carry away cheer and comfort from that home.
I had planned to remain with my friends until all were gone, but that was impossible. The Protestants were given special favours ; they were the last to go, and were allowed to remain in their homes or in the church, while on the Wednesday of that week all other Armenians were turned out into the streets to wait their turn to go. There they waited, with their baggage, for days, by the roadside near the station.
So, with a sad heart, on the Friday of that exile week, I bade farewell to the group of friends gathered at the school-house door, and with little Arousiag mounted on to the top of my goods in the ox-cart, fearing to trust my possessions out of my sight a moment. I put up an umbrella to protect me from the rain and the curious gaze of others. I felt and looked like an exile myself.
When we reached Constantinople, everything looked so peaceful and quiet that I felt disappointed. We had received no news from the city for some time, and thought that it must be nearly in the hands of the enemy. To see women and children all dressed in the height of fashion, and seemingly indifferent to the misery of the world, was a painful contrast.
Not only did I leave terror behind me. In Constantinople also every man's heart was failing him for fear. There were rumours that Constantinople also would be evacuated, and awful stories of the separation of families, of the Mohammedanizing of Christians, reached our ears. "This is worse than massacre," again and again they said : "Only let them kill us now." Everybody was frantic to leave the country, and the police stations were crowded with people seeking, too often in vain, for permission to go to America, Bulgaria, or Roumania. No men at all were allowed to go. They were left behind to be exiled or massacred., On some-days women were given permission to leave, and on other days they were refused. It took me, an American, two days to get my papers, with help from the Embassy, and at every step I feared difficulty or refusal because of Arousiag, and also another Armenian girl whom I was bringing with me.
On the train just before we reached the boundary-line, an Armenian family was sent back. Two of our graduates joined us in Bulgaria, and they were said to be the last Armenians to leave Constantinople. I know that some American ladies who joined us later were not allowed to bring a servant with them, although she was badly needed to help them with their babies.
At last we were out of the land of the dreadful Turk, but alas! a part of us has been left behind. In all our silent hours visions float before our mental eyes. As we passed through desolate-looking provinces on our journey, I could see marching, marching, without food or water or rest, my poor friends---the sun beating down upon their heads, the cruel faces and rods of their oppressors urging them on when they were ready to faint with weariness and hunger. No place to buy bread, no bed to lie upon except the bare earth---only marching, marching always. And I wondered whether the sublime faith and courage with which they had started out would fail them in the end. And thinking of these things the words of the Psalmist became my words: "My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, 'Where is thy God ?' "
But there is a brighter side to the picture. One Sunday on my voyage I turned to Revelation to see if I could find a message for these days, and lo ! there it was in Rev. vii., 13-17 :---"These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. . . . They shall hunger no more neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light upon them nor any heat. . . . And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
THE ANATOLIAN RAILWAY.
The Anatolian Railway runs diagonally across Anatolia from the Asiatic suburbs of Constantinople to the Gulf of Iskanderoun (Alexandretta), but, beyond Konia, the line is in the hands of the Baghdad Railway Company, and the construction of this section is still incomplete. The tunnel through the Taurus Range is not yet open to traffic, and the present rail-head is at Bozanti, on the northern side of the mountains. In the Adana plain, a short section of line has long been in working order between Adana itself and the ports of Mersina and Alexandretta. But beyond this, again, there is another breach of continuity at the Amanus Range, and this second mountain barrier has also to be crossed by road before the traveller reaches the railway system that radiates from Aleppo.
The Anatolian Railway follows an ancient artery of trade, and there were important Armenian colonies in the chief places along its course, as well as in places lying off the railway towards the north-east. But the track of the line forms the general limit of Armenian expansion, and defines the Armenian " sphere of influence " in Asiatic Turkey as against the Greek. The only considerable colony of Armenians south-west of the Anatolian Railway is at Smyrna, where they seem to have suffered less severely than in other parts of the Ottoman Empire---we know no more than that a few of the leading Armenians there were hanged.
The deportation of the Armenian colonies in the railway zone appears to have been started during the months of June and July. Their numbers were soon swelled by the still larger streams of exiles from the metropolitan districts (see section XIII. above), and the traffic on the line became hopelessly congested. The hardships of travel in crowded cattle-trucks were painful enough, but now at every station on the line crowds of exiles were detrained to await their turn for transport for interminable periods. The central table-land of Anatolia, which the railway traverses, has a very high average altitude, and even in summer the climate is severe. The exiles were turned out on to the open plateau in an absolutely destitute condition, without food or shelter---here 2,000, here 5,000, here 11,000, here 12,000, here 15,000, here 30,000. These facts and figures are vouched for, by a number of unimpeachable witnesses, in the documents contained in this section. The witnesses write from half-a-dozen different points along the railway, and one of them was himself an exile, experiencing in person the horrors of a concentration camp. But the misery of detention was as nothing compared with what the exiles suffered when their turn came to be carried on to rail-head and driven across the mountains on foot. There are frightful descriptions of their condition by a witness who saw them when they had reached the Adana Plain, and still more terrible accounts of the survivors who had lived to traverse the second mountain barrier and were dragging themselves towards Aleppo.
This agonising journey along the route of the railway was protracted for more than three months. The exiles were mostly uprooted from their homes in August ; the first documents date from the beginning of September, and by that date the foremost batches had hardly begun their marches across the first mountain range ; the last documents were written in November, and still the vast body of the exiles had not reached Adana, but were huddled together---stationary through exhaustion---on the south-eastern slopes of Taurus and Amanus, between the summits and the plain. One of the latest witnesses reckons the number here at 150,000.
104. THE ANATOLIAN RAILWAY: NARRATIVE OF A JOURNEY, DURING THE DEPORTATION OF THE ARMENIANS, BY A PHYSICIAN OF FOREIGN NATIONALITY, WHO HAD BEEN RESIDENT IN TURKEY FOR TEN YEARS; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.
A journey through Asia Minor even in "normal" times can be understood only by those who have had the "experience" of travel in Turkey. During war-time there is simply no accommodation at all. Passenger traffic was limited to one train a week until shortly after the time of which I write, when that was cut off too, leaving no train connection with the interior open to the civilian.
On this particular journey, not many hours elapsed before the fact was forced upon one's consciousness that things were not as they used to be. One felt the sense of unwelcomeness, the aloofness of all fellow-passengers. Conversations were in an undertone, no joviality---looks of suspicion, as if to say: "Who is that infidel who dares intrude himself in such times as these ?"
At the first large station a sight burst upon my view which, although I knew and was prepared for it, was nevertheless a shock. There was a mob of a thousand or more people huddled about the station and environs, and long strings of cattle-trucks packed to suffocation with human beings. It was the first glimpse of the actual deportation of the Armenians. Our train drew up to the station, but there was no confusion, no wailing, no shouting, just a mob of subdued people, dejected, sad, hopeless, past tears---looking backward to abandoned homes, to husbands, fathers, brothers who had been torn from them ; looking forward to a death in the desert, or to a living death in the hands of captors who were compelled, "by political and military necessity," to free their land of the curse of a nation which had grown powerful while they themselves stagnated. There were guards everywhere among the people, making communication with them impossible. The advent of a foreigner among them was the sign for eager enquiring looks from some, as if to say : "Can it be that he brings deliverance for us;" while others seemed to accept their lot in settled despair.
The town from which many of these had come, I learned later, was cleaned out completely, except for perhaps a dozen old women too feeble to undertake the journey. A missionary compound in the same town was left unguarded by the Government while, for four successive nights, marauders from a neighbouring village came, and, smashing doors and windows, helped themselves to such things as they could carry away.
Our train sped away, taking with us as many cattle-trucks, packed with men, women and children, as the locomotive could pull. In these trucks one could see improvised hammocks swung above the crowd squatting upon the floor, and in these hammocks the tiny babies---the only individuals in all that crowd oblivious to the horrors of the situation, but doomed nevertheless, in all their innocence, to pay the penalty of human jealousy and greed.
The scenes just described were repeated at various stations but at the station of ------, as I looked across the fields to the river, I heard the Turkish commander say: "Yes, I have 30,000 here under my charge." Then I looked as far along the river as I could see, and it was one mass of improvised blanket tents, their only protection from the parching heat of the mid-summer sun. Where this multitude were to get food for their long journey I was unable to see, for although most of them were as yet but a few days' journey from their homes, they could take but a bit of grain and almost no money with them. Can you imagine the sanitary condition of a camp of 30,000, when absolutely no provision is made, not even as much as would be made for so many cattle ?
During the weary days of travel I had as my companion a Turkish captain, who, as the hours dragged by, came to look on me with less of suspicion, growing quite friendly at times. Arrived at ------, the captain went out among the Armenian crowd and soon returned with an Armenian girl of about fifteen years. She was forced into a compartment of an adjoining railway coach, in company with a Turkish woman. When she saw that her mother was not allowed to accompany her she began to realise something of the import of it all. She grew frantic in her efforts to escape, scratching at the window, begging, screaming, tearing her hair and wringing her hands, while the equally grief-crazed mother stood on the railway platform, helpless in her effort to save her daughter. The captain,. seeing the unconcealed disapproval in my face, came up and said: "I suppose, Effendi, you don't approve of such things, but let me tell you how it is. Why, this girl is fortunate. I'll take her home with me, raise her as a Moslem servant in my home. She will be well cared for and saved from a worse fate---besides that, I even gave the mother a lira gold piece for the girl." And, as though that were not convincing enough, he added: "Why, these scoundrels have killed two of our Moslems right here in this city within the last few days," as though that were excuse enough, if excuse were needed, for annihilating the whole Armenian race. I could not refrain from giving him my version of the rotten, diabolical scheme, which, however, fell from his back like water.
It was pitiful to see rough Turkish hawkers offering for sale, from wagons in the street, articles of all kinds stolen or bought for a pittance from the Armenians. As I passed by, one held up for the inspection of a number of Turkish women a child's white coat, and as I looked at it a vision flashed through my mind of a little girlie across the sea, whom I had seen in a little coat of just about that size, and who looked up into my face and called me---"Daddy."
I learned here, too, of a nurse who had been in one of the mission hospitals, who two days before my arrival there had become almost crazed by the fear of falling into the hands of the human fiends, and had ended her life with poison. Were these isolated or unusual instances, it would excite no comment in this year of unusual things, but when we know of these things going on all over the Empire, repeated in thousands of instances, we. begin to realise the enormity of the crimes committed. I spoke again to the captain: "Why are you taking such brutal measures to accomplish your aim ? Why not accept the offer of a friendly nation, which offers to pay transportation if you will send these people out of your country to a place of safety ?" He replied: "Why, don't you understand, we don't want to have to repeat this thing again after a few years. It's hot down in the deserts of Arabia, and there is no water, and these people can't stand a hot climate, don't you see ?" Yes, I saw. Anyone could see what would happen to most of them, long before Arabia was reached.
Leaving the railway, I travelled several days by wagon across country. Arrived at -----, I found the process of deportation in full swing, the streets of the Armenian quarter of the city thronged with Armenians, Turkish civilians and Turkish officials. Officers standing in the street directed lesser officers in their work of turning out the households one after another. The men of these households hurried about to find animals or wagons, paying exorbitant prices out of the little sum which represented all their savings, while others offered rugs and articles of an sorts for sale, that they might get enough money to hire a donkey. Most were unable to get animals at any price, and simply bundled together a few personal belongings and set out, in a dazed condition, not realising what it meant, except that they must go. One old Armenian gentleman, on leaving, accosted his Turkish neighbour, kissing his hand and bidding affectionate good-bye, which was reciprocated by the Turk; evidently these two had for long years been 'good neighbours.' Crowds of Turkish women were going about insolently prying into house after house to find valuable rugs or other articles. After being accosted by the police, I returned to my wagon, and, while waiting there, heard the inn-keeper call to one of his men, and say in a stage whisper: "You go out and get rugs---rugs, you understand, by all means get rugs ; and, say, don't pay too much ; not more in any case than two medjids (6s. 4d.)." While I waited, the man brought rugs by the armload ; they were placed in a room in the inn, while the innkeeper and other men discussed their value and gloated over the purchase for a mere pittance. Four men came by, bearing a corpse covered with a black cloth. Fearing lest they might in this way smuggle out valuables, the innkeeper strode out and flung up the cloth, exclaiming: "What have you fellows got there ?"
This general plan of deportation I saw carried out in several towns. Such animals and carriages as were available were loaded with goods and sent to the outskirts of the town, where they waited until all were ready ; then they were joined by the crowds on foot and all went off together. It was pitiful enough as they set out, but I met group after group on the road "on the march "---and these travel-stained, worn and haggard---on and on, and on to their death. Ah, yes, one can stand almost any hardship if hope fills the breast and home and friends are at the journey's end.
We passed one group of about 900 souls and only two mounted and armed gendarmes. "Why didn't they kill the gendarmes ?" has been asked me. That is easy enough, to be sure, but, having killed their guards, they remain at the mercy of the first band of armed men they meet, and they must go to villages, for the mountains of Turkey cannot support life. My wagon driver showed the tenderness (?) of his heart by remarking, as we passed this group : "Effendi, it is almost more than I can stand to see women and little children in such condition. But," he continued, "there are some fine-looking girls in that bunch. I'll get one when I get to the next town." He then started to tell me some of the atrocious things of which the Armenians are accused. I found that, as time went on and the deportation gained momentum, the common people came to believe more and more the grossly exaggerated stories and whole-cloth lies manufactured for the very purpose of exciting the sympathy of the common people towards the scheme. Arrived at ------, I found the Armenian market-place closed and the shop doors shut and sealed by the Government, although as yet but a small proportion of the Armenian population had been deported from that particular place. Fourteen prominent Armenian merchants were hanged that night in this city. Passing to -------, I found the missionaries besieged with terror-stricken Armenian friends and neighbours who were living in daily terror of orders to move. The general deportation orders came a day or two later, and the people swarmed about the missionaries, beseeching help for life and protection of property. One can scarcely understand the strain to which the missionaries were subjected; and yet how helpless they were, imprisoned, as it were, in a country which was in the throes of war and shut off from intervention by foreign powers.
Rich, proud Armenians, crushed by the blow, seemed to age years in these days. Some, with tears streaming down their faces, came beseeching us to find a way out for them. Public auction of household and private effects was held in the market square. No one was allowed to buy by private sale, and the prices had to be approved by the officials. Orders came permitting the sale of houses and lands at auction, which raised the question in their minds : "If we sell for cash, in all probability our money will be taken from us, or if for Government promissory notes, will they have any value ?" An order came exempting Protestants from the general deportation, and we rejoiced at the prospect of saving even a few. The result of this favour was, however, a distribution of Protestants, five to ten families each, to surrounding Turkish villages, where, surrounded by a Moslem community, they were forced to become Moslem or to suffer terrible persecution. As far as I can learn, no one attempts to pass judgment on any Armenian Protestant or Gregorian who has so "turned." All we could do was to advise against it, realising as we did what it meant for them to marry into Moslem homes, as those who "turned" were forced to do. God alone knows the tremendous pressure brought to bear upon them, and the self-sacrificing spirit in which many of them sought in this way to save their own families from death by signing a scrap of paper. These papers were printed forms, indicating that the signer accepts of his free will and in full conscience the tenets of the Moslem faith.
When we consider the number forced into exile and the number beaten to death and tortured in a thousand ways, the comparatively small number that turned Moslem is a tribute to the staunchness of their hold on Christianity. Those who "turned" found that the Moslems were not true to their promise to leave such unmolested, for in many places these were forced to go into exile later on, although they were counted as Moslems. In one city about 1,000 families turned Moslem, but this being too large a number might be considered a menace, so they were deported all the same.
If the events of the past year demonstrate anything, they show the practical failure of Mohammedanism in its struggle for existence against Christianity---in its attempt to eliminate a race which, because of Christian education, has been proving increasingly a menace to stagnating Moslem civilisation. We may call it political necessity or what not, but in essence it is a nominally ruling class, jealous of a more progressive Christian race, striving by methods of primitive savagery to maintain the leading place.
105. ESKI SHEHR: LETTER FROM AN ARMENIAN VICTIM(143) PUBLISHED IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL "HORIZON," OF TIFLIS, 30th OCTOBER /12th NOVEMBER, 1915.
We shall perish of hunger; we have had to leave behind us everything we possess, and they are robbing us of the little money that we have brought with us, robbing us even of our clothes. Most of us have not a penny left. It is a cruel situation. The ferocity of the minor officials passes all limits. The evening before last, two gendarmes looted the tents of the exiles from the village of Kelidj (who had only arrived that day). Incidentally they wounded some of them with a perfect rain of blows. They also tried to carry off forty or fifty tents, and then one of them came to announce that the Tchaoush must be conciliated. We collected 400 piastres (£3 6s. 8d.) and handed it over to them on condition they left us in peace ; one of the exiles sold his single blanket for 4 piastres in order to pay his share of the subscription. Most of us were plundered on the road. Before the exiles reach a station they are told : "You can start off, we will see that your baggage follows you ; " and they are sent on their journey after their money, too, has been taken from them. During the journey the sick were abandoned by the roadside. Some threw their children into the rivers, others committed suicide. Why don't people at least send us some relief?
Many have lost members of their family, and no one knows where they are. The exiles from the districts of Ismid and Broussa have been exposed at each station to indescribable sufferings, and are only waiting for the approach of death. From Eski Shehr to Konia the uplands are covered with the tents occupied by the Armenians. This frightful suffering inspires no pity in the ruthless officials, who throw themselves upon their wretched victims, armed with whips and cudgels, without distinction of sex or age.
During the last two days they have begun to transport the exiles further afield---free of charge ! All that has happened here is nothing compared with what has been going on beyond Eregli and Bozanti. I have seen with my own eyes the convoy that marched to Konia on foot, and I simply cannot describe the condition of the old women and children. They had ceased to be human. Having obeyed the deportation order, they had paid a toll of 300 victims, and the widows had been marched over the mountains. As for the men, there were not many of them. There were other exiles who had been forced to come on foot, from all parts, because no general order has been issued for transporting the exiles by railway. The gendarmes demand enormous sums for granting the exiles permission to encamp from place to place and rest. But whether they go by train or on foot, the exiles are condemned in any ease to pillage and ill-usage.
They are now beginning to deport the people in Syria and the Lebanon as well, and the first convoy of them has reached Konia. They are filling their places with Mohammedan emigrants from Europe. They distribute thirty loaves among 130 people, and even that not everywhere.
106. AFIUN KARA HISSAR : LETTER(144) DATED AFIUN KARA HISSAR, 10th /23rd SEPTEMBER, 1915 ; PUBLISHED IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL "HORIZON" OF TIFLIS, 30th OCTOBER / 12th NOVEMBER, 1915.
Some of the exiles have been sent to Konia, but on the bleak uplands of Afiun Kara Hissar, under canvas, or, in many cases, without tents at all, there are about 11,000 exiles in misery. Most of them have been reduced to an indescribable condition. They endured all kinds of hardships on their journey, and a large proportion of them died on the road. Many fathers have been compelled to abandon their children on the road. They have been obliged to march day after day on foot, pricked on at the point of yataghans and deluged with curses. In the struggle to keep up this unending journey on foot, they have been forced to abandon by the road such possessions as they had taken with them, even the most necessary articles, and they are now naked and shelterless on the frozen plateau.
This pitiful mass of sufferers is composed of Armenians from the towns and villages of Balikesri, Panderma, Erendjik, Hai Keui, Mikhalidj, Kassaba, Broussa, Gemleyik, Benli, Marmardjik, Karsakh, GurlÈ, YenidjÈ, Djera, EzIi, Adapazar, Karasu, Yalova, Tehoukour, Karsz, Kelidj, Shaklak, Mess Nor Keui, Tehingiler, Orta Keui and Keremet.
There are about ten priests from these villages among them.
The rich have become poor, and the poor, naked, famished and deplorably miserable, without help and without hope, are compassed by all the terrors of death. Exposed to freezing blasts and drenching rain, their life is one long agony. One would rather die than see such a spectacle.
The railway has been requisitioned for the transport of troops, so they have decided to leave this unfortunate mass of people here for an indefinite period. There is no means of escaping from this terrible life of exposure to the elements. The only means is death, and they are dying in numbers every day. There have been twelve deaths only to-day.
107. AFIUN KARA HISSAR: RESUME OF A LETTER(144) DATED AFIUN KARA HISSAR, 2nd/15th OCTOBER, 1915; APPENDED TO THE MEMORANDUM (DOC. 11), DATED 15/28th OCTOBER, 1915, FROM A WELL-INFORMED SOURCE AT BUKAREST.
The 16,000 deported Armenians who were living in the tents have been sent to Konia, in cattle-trucks. At night, while thousands of these unfortunate people, without food or shelter, shiver with cold, those brutes who are supposed to be their guardians attack them with clubs and push them towards the station. Women, children and old men are packed together in the trucks. The men have to climb on to the top of the trucks, in spite of the dreadful cold. Their cries are heart-breaking, but all is in vain. Hunger, cold and fatigue, together with the Government's deeds of violence, will soon achieve the extermination of this last remnant of the Armenian people, the former inhabitants of the Sandjak of Ismid, the Vilayet of Broussa and the neighbourhood. In spite of the great misery that prevails among the exiles, the Government took from them by force one hundred Turkish liras for the "Défense Nationale."
108. AFIUN KARA HISSAR : LETTER, DATED MASSACHUSETTS, 22nd NOVEMBER, 1915, FROM AN AMERICAN TRAVELLER ; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.
Mr. and Mrs. A., Miss B., a Greek student from our College who wished to come to America to study, my husband and I left BO., and, after travelling all day and night, reached Afiun Kara Hissar about nine o'clock the next morning. We had three hours to wait in Kara Hissar, so we took a carriage at the station and drove to the home of an Armenian doctor there---a well educated, fine young doctor, whom we had met on our previous visit to Kara Hissar. We found his wife and two small children at home, but the doctor had been taken a year ago to work for the wounded Turkish soldiers.
The wife had heard of the exiling of all the Armenians from different towns around her, and so she was packing a few things to take with her when her hour came to go. That hour arrived while we were in her home. All the Armenians were ordered to be at the station in twenty-four hours, to be sent-where ? They did not know, but they did know that they had to leave everything---the little homes they had worked for for years, the few little things they had collected---all must be left to the plunder of the Turks.
It was one of the saddest hours I ever lived through ; in fact, the hours that followed on the train, from Kara Hissar to Constantinople, were the saddest hours I ever spent.
I wish I could picture the scene in that Armenian home, and we knew that in hundreds of other homes in that very town the same heart-breaking scenes might be witnessed.
The courage of that brave little doctor's wife, who knew she must take her two babies and face starvation and death with them. Many began to come to her home---to her, for comfort and cheer, and she gave it. I have never seen such courage before. You have to go to the darkest places of the earth to see the brightest lights, to the most obscure spot to find the greatest heroes.
Her bright smile, with no trace of fear in it, was like a beacon light in that mud village, where hundreds were doomed.
It was not because she did not understand how they felt; she was one of them. It was not because she had no dear ones in peril; her husband was far away, ministering to those who were sending her and her babies to destruction.
"Oh ! there is no God for the Armenians," said one Armenian, who, with others, had come in to talk it over.
Just then a poor woman rushed in to get some medicine for a young girl who had fainted when the order came.
Such despair, such hopelessness you have never seen on human faces in America.
"It is the slow massacre of our entire race," said one woman.
"It is worse than massacre!" replied another man.
The town crier went through all the streets of the village, crying out that anyone who helped the Armenians in any way, gave them food, money or anything, would be beaten and cast into prison. It was more than we could stand.
"Have you any money ? " my husband asked the doctor's wife. "Yes," she said; "a few liras; but many families will have nothing."
After figuring out what it would cost us all to reach Constantinople we gave them what money we had left in our small party. But really to help them we could do nothing, we were powerless to save their lives.
Already the Turks had taken our American school and church, and after a big procession through the streets had dedicated our church as a mosque and turned our school into a Turkish school---taken down the Cross and put up the Crescent.
Some weeks before, they had exiled our faithful Armenian pastor, who for a great many years had toiled there, as he himself told us, "to make a little oasis in that desert."
For many weeks Mr. C. of our College in BO. had stayed in Kara Hissar to try and get back our church and school, but nothing could be done. The Turks had named our church "Patience Mosque," because, they said, they had waited so many years to get it.
It was with broken hearts that we left the town, and hardly had we started on our way when we began to pass one train after another crowded, jammed with these poor people, being carried away to some spot where no food could be obtained. At every station where we stopped, we came side by side with one of these trains. It was made up of cattle-trucks, and the faces of little children were looking out from behind the tiny barred windows of each truck. The side doors were wide open, and one could plainly see old men and old women, young mothers with tiny babies, men, women and children, all huddled together like so many sheep or pigs---human beings treated worse than cattle are treated.
About eight o'clock that evening we came to a station where there stood one of these trains. The Armenians told us that they had been in the station for three days with no food. The Turks kept them from buying food; in fact, at the end of these trains there was a truck-full of Turkish soldiers ready to drive these poor people on when they reached the Salt Desert or whatever place they were being taken to.
Old women weeping, babies crying piteously. Oh, it was awful to see such brutality, to hear such suffering.
They told us that twenty babies had been thrown into a river as a train crossed-thrown by the mothers themselves, who could not bear to hear their little ones crying for food when there was no food to give them.
One woman gave birth to twins in one of those crowded trucks, and crossing a river she threw both her babies and then herself into the water.
Those who could not pay to ride in these cattle-trucks were forced to walk. All along the road, as our train passed, we saw them walking slowly and sadly along, driven from their homes like sheep to the slaughter.
A German officer was on the train with us, and I asked him if Germany had anything to do with this deportation, for I thought it was the most brutal thing that had ever happened. He said: "You can't object to exiling a race; it's only the way the Turks are doing it which is bad." He said he had just come from the interior himself and had seen the most terrible sights he ever saw in his life. He said: "Hundreds of people were walking over the mountains, driven by soldiers. Many dead and dying by the roadside. Old women and little children too feeble to walk were strapped to the sides of donkeys. Babies lying dead in the road. Human life thrown away everywhere."
The last thing we saw late at night and the first thing early in the morning was one train after another carrying its freight of human lives to destruction.
Another man on the train said that in one train he was in the mothers begged him to take their children to save them from such a death.
He said that an Armenian, a leading business man in Harpout, told him that he would rather kill his four daughters with his own hand than see the Turks take them from him. This Armenian was made to leave his home, his business and all he had and start off with his family to walk to whatever place the Turks desired to exile him to.
When we reached a station near Constantinople, we met a long train of Armenians that had just been exiled from Bardezag.
My husband and Mr. A. talked with one of the native teachers from our American school. Among other things he said that an old man was walking in the street in Bardezag when the order came to leave. The old man was deaf and did not understand what was going on, so, because he made no move to leave the town, the soldiers brutally shot him down in the street. The teacher said he could buy no food, for the soldiers kept them from buying any.
The crying of those babies and little children for food is still ringing in my ears. On every train we met we heard the same heart-rending cries of little children.
XIV. The Anatolian Railway, con't
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