A SUMMARY OF ARMENIAN HISTORY
UP TO AND INCLUDING
THE YEAR 1915.
V. THE DEPORTATIONS OF 1915: ANTECEDENTS.
There is no dispute as to what happened in 1915. The Armenian inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire were everywhere uprooted from their homes, and deported to the most remote and unhealthy districts that the Government could select for them. Some were murdered at the outset, some perished on the way, and some died after reaching their destination. The death-roll amounts to upwards of six hundred thousand; perhaps six hundred thousand more are still alive in their places of exile ; and the remaining six hundred thousand or so have either been converted forcibly to Islam, gone into hiding in the mountains, or escaped beyond the Ottoman frontier. The Ottoman Government cannot deny these facts, and they cannot justify them. No provocation or misdemeanour on the part of individual Armenians could justify such a crime against the whole race. But it might be explained and palliated if the Armenians, or some of them, were originally in the wrong; and therefore the Ottoman Government and its German apologists have concentrated their efforts on proving that this was the case.(227) There are three main Turkish contentions, none of which will bear examination.
The first contention is that the Armenians took up arms and joined the Russians, as soon as the latter crossed the Ottoman frontier. The standard case its champions cite is the "Revolt of Van." The deportations, they maintain, were only ordered after this outbreak to forestall the danger of its repetition elsewhere. This contention is easily rebutted. In the first place, there was no Armenian revolt at Van. The Armenians merely defended the quarter of the city in which they lived, after it had been beleaguered and attacked by Turkish troops, and the outlying villages visited with massacre by Turkish patrols. The outbreak was on the Turkish side, and the responsibility lies with the Turkish governor, Djevdet Bey. The ferocious, uncontrollable character of this official was the true cause of the catastrophe. Anyone who reads the impartial American testimony on this point, in section II. of the present collection of documents, will see that this was so. And, in the second place, the deportations had already begun in Cilicia before the fighting at Van broke out. The Turks fired the first shot at Van on the 20th April, 1915 ; the first Armenians were deported from Zeitoun on the 8th April, and there is a record of their arrival in Syria as early as the 19th(228). The case of Van, which the apologists have made so much of, simply falls to the ground(229), and they cannot rehabilitate themselves by adducing any previous revolt at Zeitoun. It is true that twenty-five fugitive conscripts defended themselves for a day in a monastery near Zeitoun against Turkish troops, and decamped into the mountains during the night. But this happened only one day before the deportation, and the deportation must have been decided upon far in advance, for it was preceded by a protracted inquisition for arms, and there were Moslem refugees from the Balkans concentrated on the spot, ready to occupy the Zeitounlis' houses the moment the rightful owners were carried off. During all these preliminary proceedings---most of which were violations of the charter of liberties held by Zeitoun from the Ottoman Government---the population as a whole (11,000 individuals as against the 25 who rebelled) very scrupulously kept the peace. This was the policy of the leaders, and they were obeyed by the people. Nothing happened at Zeitoun that can account for the Government's scheme of deportation.
There were several other instances in which the Armenians took up arms, but none of them are relevant to the case. They were all subsequent in date to these cardinal instances, and were simply attempts at self-defence by people who had seen their neighbours massacred or deported, and were threatened with the same fate themselves. The Armenians of Moush resisted when they were attacked by Djevdet Bey, who had already tried to massacre the Armenians of Van and had succeeded in massacring those of Sairt and Bitlis. The Armenians of Sassoun resisted when the Kurds had destroyed their kinsmen in the plain of Diyarbekir and were closing in upon themselves. This was in June, and the Nestorian Christians of Hakkiari resisted tinder the same circumstances and at the same date. Further west, a few villages took up arms in the Vilayet of Sivas, after the rest of the Sivas Armenians had been deported ; and at Shabin Kara-Hissar the Armenians drove out their Turkish fellow-townsmen and stood for several weeks at bay, when they heard how the exiles from Trebizond and Kerasond had been murdered on the road. The defence of Djibal Mousa in August (the only story in this volume with a happy ending) was similarly inspired by the previous fate of Zeitoun. The resistance at Ourfa in September was another act of despair, provoked by the terrible procession of exiles from Harpout and the north-east, which had been filing for three months through Ourfa before the Armenian colony there was also summoned to take the road. These are all the instances of resistance that are reported, and they were all a consequence of the deportations, and not their cause. It may be added that, wherever resistance was offered, the Turks suppressed it with inconceivable brutality, not merely retaliating upon the fighting men, but, in most cases, massacring every Armenian man, woman and child in cold blood after the fighting was over. These cases were not palliations of the atrocities, but occasions of the worst excesses.
The second contention is that there was a general conspiracy of Armenians throughout the Empire to bring about an internal revolution at a moment when all the Ottoman military forces were engaged on the frontiers, and so deliver the country into the hands of the Allies. The prompt action of the Ottoman Government in disarming, imprisoning, executing and deporting the whole people---innocent and guilty alike is alleged to have crushed this movement before it had time to declare itself. This is an insidious line of argument, because it refuses to be tested by the evidence of what actually occurred. If the actual outbreaks were isolated, inspired by panic, confined to self-defence, and posterior in date to the Government's own preventive measures, all that, on this hypothesis, is not a proof of the Armenians' innocence, but only of the Government's energy and foresight. Yet when this indictment is examined, it, too, is found to rest on the most frivolous grounds.
The revolution, it is alleged, was to break out when the Allies landed in Cilicia---but such a landing was never made; or it was arranged in conjunction with the landing at the Dardanelles --- but the landing was made and the outbreak never happened. Indeed, it is hard to see what the Armenians could have done, for nearly all their able-bodied men between twenty and forty-five years of age were mobilised at the beginning of the war, and the age limit was soon extended in either direction to eighteen and fifty. The Turks make sweeping allegations about secret stores of bombs and arms, which prove to be false in every case where they can be checked. The Armenians certainly possessed a moderate number of rifles and revolvers, because, for the past six years, under the Young Turkish rÈgime, they had been permitted to carry arms for their personal security, a privilege that had always been enjoyed, as a matter of course, by every Moslem in the Ottoman Empire. But evidently there were not enough arms in their possession to go round, even among the comparatively few men left behind after mobilisation ; for when, in the winter of 1914-5, the Ottoman authorities made a house-to-house search for arms, and conducted their inquisition by atrocious physical tortures, the Armenians bought arms from each other and from their Moslem neighbours, in order to be able to deliver them up and suffer no worse punishment than mere imprisonment. This practice is recorded independently by several trustworthy witnesses from various localities(230).
The stories of bombs are more extravagant still. In the town of X., for instance, a bomb was unearthed in the Armenian cemetery, which was made the pretext for the most atrocious procedure against the Armenian inhabitants. Yet the bomb was rusty with age, and was believed to date from the days of Abd-ul-Hamid, when the Young Turks, as well as the Armenian political parties, were a secret revolutionary organisation and not averse to using bombs themselves. In the same town, a blacksmith in the employment of the American College was cruelly tortured for "constructing a bomb" ; but the "bomb" turned out to be a solid iron shot which he had been commissioned to make for the competition of "putting the weight" in the College athletic sports.
It was also alleged that Armenians resident on the coast had been in treacherous communication with the Allied fleets. The Armenian boatmen of Silivri(231), for instance, on the Sea of Marmora, were deported on the ground that they had furnished supplies to British submarines ; and before this, as early as April, 1915, half-a-dozen Armenians from Dört Yöl, a village on the Gulf of Alexandretta, were hanged at Adana on the charge of having signalled to the Franco-British cruiser squadron---a step which was followed up by the deportation of the whole population of Dört Yöl into the interior, to do navvy-work on the roads. This charge against Dört Yöl can be checked, for the witness of the hangings (a resident in Cilicia of neutral nationality and excellent standing)(232) states, from his personal knowledge, that only one Armenian from Dört Yöl had had any communication with the Allied warships. This evidence is authoritative, and it has probability on its side ; for, if Dört Yöl was in regular communication with the Allied squadron, it is inconceivable that the Armenians of Djibal Mousa, a few miles further down the coast, should have taken 44 days to attract the same squadron's attention, when it was a question for them of life and death(233).
Thus the second contention breaks down, and we are left with the third, which lays little stress on justice or public safety and bases the case on revenge. The Armenian civil population in the Ottoman Empire, it is argued, owes its misfortunes to the Armenian volunteers in the Russian Army. "Our Armenians in Turkey," say the Turks in effect, "have certainly suffered terribly from the measures we have taken; they may even have suffered innocently ; but can you blame us ? Was it not human nature that we should revenge ourselves on the Armenians at home for the injury we had received from their compatriots fighting against us at the front in the Russian ranks---men who had actually volunteered to fight against us in the enemy's cause ?"
This is almost the favourite argument of the apologists, and yet it is surely the most monstrous of any, for these Armenian volunteers owed no allegiance to the Turks at all, but were ordinary Russian subjects. Through territorial acquisitions and free immigration from across the frontier, the Russian Government had, by 1914, acquired the sovereignty over little less than half the Armenian race(234). Russia was as much the lawful "fatherland" of this substantial minority as Turkey was of the remainder. It is a misfortune for any nation to be divided between two allegiances, especially when the states to which they owe them elect to go to war ; but it is at least an alleviation of the difficulty, and one that does honour to both parties concerned, when either fraction of the divided nationality finds itself in sympathy, even under the test of war, with the particular state to which its allegiance is legally due. The loyalty of the Russian Armenians to Russia(235) cast no imputation upon the Ottoman Armenians, and was no concern of the Turks. The latter will probably explain that they had no objection to the Russian Armenians doing their duty, but resented their doing more : "The conscripts naturally answered the summons, but why did those who were exempt equip themselves so eagerly as volunteers ? The Ottoman Armenians adopted a painfully different attitude. At the beginning of the war, the Young Turkish Party sent representatives to the Congress of the Armenian 'Dashnaktzoutioun' Party at Erzeroum, offered them concessions to their nationality, and called upon them to organise volunteers and join in the invasion of Russian territory(236). Yet they decidedly refused---refused in this case when their kinsmen did not wait to be asked in the other. This reveals the real sympathies and aspirations of the Armenian people, not only the Armenians in Russia, but those in our country as well."
There is, of course, a crushing answer to these tirades. If the Armenians felt so differently towards the Turks and the Russians, then that was a serious reflection on their treatment by the Turks, and the logical way to change their feelings was to treat them better. Could the civilian Armenians who remembered the massacre of their innocent kinsfolk at Adana a few years before have been expected to volunteer in support of those who had commanded these massacres ? Could their feelings have been other than they were ? But so long as only their feelings were in question and their behaviour remained correct, the Turks had no right to proceed with them in any but a humane and constitutional manner. The argument can be driven home by a parallel. There are Polish volunteer legions in the Austro-Hungarian Army. What would the Turks' German apologists have said if the Russian Government had appeased its resentment against these Austrian-Polish volunteers by wiping out all the Russian-Polish civilians on their own side of the frontier ?
It is a significant fact that all these Turkish complaints are directed against Russian Armenians in Russian service. There is no hint of treachery or malingering on the part of those Ottoman Armenians who had been drafted, many of them illegally, into the Turkish Army---no insinuation that their record was not as satisfactory in 1914 as in 1912(236). To the editor's knowledge, the German apologists have only been able to fasten upon two "traitors" in the legal (though not in the moral) sense of the word. There have been refugees, of course, like Mourad of Sivas, who escaped into the Caucasus when the atrocities were in full course---men who had just been compelled to fight for their lives, and had seen their neighbours and kinsfolk massacred once more on all sides of them. Not even the German apologists would dare to censure these men under these circumstances for enrolling in the volunteers. But there are only two cases adduced of Ottoman subjects who went over to the Russians before the atrocities began---a certain Karakin Pasdermadjian, a deputy in the Ottoman Parliament, and another Armenian named Suren, stated to have been a delegate at the "Dashnaktzoutioun" Congress at Erzeroum. "In face of this," argues the German writer from whose pamphlet these instances are taken(237), " it was the Ottoman Government's duty to uphold public law and order. In wartime, measures of this kind assume an especially weighty and pressing character" ---and with this generality he implicitly condones the atrocities of 1915. If this represents the official apologia of the Ottoman Government, the only answer is a reductio ad absurdum. On the same principle, when Sir Roger Casement landed from a German submarine on the Irish coast, it would have been the British Government's duty to deport all the Roman Catholic inhabitants of Ireland and maroon them, say, on the coast of Labrador or in the central desert of Australia. The parallel is exact, and leaves nothing more to be said, unless, indeed, what was said by Talaat Bey, the Young Turkish Minister of the Interior, in a recent interview with a correspondent of the Berliner Tageblatt(238). "The sad events that have occurred in Armenia," he vouchsafed, "have prevented my sleeping well at night. We have been reproached for making no distinction between the innocent Armenians and the guilty; but that was utterly impossible, in view of the fact that those who were innocent to-day might be guilty to-morrow." There is no need of further witnesses.
The various Turkish contentions thus fail, from first to last, to meet the point. They all attempt to trace the atrocities of 1915 to events arising out of the war ; but they not only cannot justify them on this ground, they do not even suggest any adequate motive for their perpetration. It is evident that the war was merely an opportunity and not a cause---in fact, that the deportation scheme, and all that it involved, flowed inevitably from the general policy of the Young Turkish Government. This inference will be confirmed if we analyse the political tenets to which the Young Turks were committed.
The Young Turkish movement began as a reaction against the policy of Abd-ul-Hamid. Its founders repudiated his "neutralisation of forces" ; they maintained that the Ottoman Empire must stand by its own strength, and that this strength must be developed by a radical internal reconstruction. From their asylum at Paris they preached the doctrines of the French Revolution---religious toleration, abolition of caste-privileges, equality of all citizens before the law, equality of obligation to perform military service, constitutional government through a representative parliament. And when they came into power, they made some attempt to put these doctrines into practice. In Turkey for a brief space of the year 1908, as in France twelve decades before, the vision of "Pure Reason" did bring peace and goodwill among men. Nearly all the foreign observers who were in the country when "Huriet" came, testify to this momentary, magic transfiguration of hatred into love; and the Armenians, who had desired more than any of their neighbours to see this day, might well believe that the Young Turks' ideal was identical with their own. Yet there were vital differences beneath the surface. The Young Turks realised that the Christian elements were an asset ; they did not propose, at the outset, to destroy them, as Abd-ul-Hamid had done; but they wanted still less to co-operate with them as separate partners in the Ottoman State. The "Millets " were as abhorrent to them, as an institution, as the autocracy of Abd-ul-Hamid. They set up against the, principle of the "Millet" the programme of "Ottomanisation." The Turkish leaven was to permeate the non-Turkish lump, until it had all become of one uniform Turkish substance. In Parliament this programme took such forms as a bill to make the Turkish language the universal and compulsory medium of secondary education(239), and the Armenian deputies found themselves opposing it in concert with the Liberal Party, which included the Arab bloc and stood for the toleration of national individualities. The Young Turks, in fact, had imbibed both the good currents and the bad in the modern political atmosphere of Western Europe---its democratic doctrines but its chauvinism as well. Most political theorists debarred from responsible practice give this same confused allegiance to incompatible ideals, and all, when they come into power, are compelled by circumstances to choose which master they will serve. In 1908, the choice of the Young Turks was not predestined; the "Committee of Union and Progress" might have set its face towards either of its divided goals ; but disillusionment soon decided its orientation. The magic dawn of "Huriet" faded ; the old, crushing burden of Ottoman Government descended upon shoulders not expert, like Abd-ul-Hamid's, at balancing the weight; the Austro-Bulgarian violation of the Treaty of Berlin and the subsequent territorial losses of the Balkan War shook the Young Turkish Party's prestige, aggravated the difficulty of their problem, and embittered their attitude towards its solution. The current of chauvinism gained upon them more and more, and their intervention in the European War demonstrated that its mastery was complete, for their calculations in intervening were of a thoroughly Prussian character. A military triumph was to restore them their prestige ; it was to recover ancient territories of the Empire in Egypt, the Caucasus and the coveted Persian province of Azerbaijan; it was to shake off the trammels of international control, and solve the internal problem by cutting the Gordian Knot. But the hopes of conquest and prestige were early shattered by the strategical failures of the winter of 1914-5, which were almost as humiliating as those of 1912, and then the Young Turks concentrated savagely upon "Ottomanisation" at home.
Ottomanisation has become the Young Turks' obsession(240). Their first act after declaring war was to repudiate the Capitulations ; their latest stroke has been to declare the Turkish language the exclusive medium of official business in the Empire, with only a year's delay---a step which has caused consternation among their German allies. And in this mood they turned to the Armenian question, which happened at the moment to have reached an important phase.
In 1912-3 the diplomatists of Europe had once more met in consultation over the Ottoman Empire, and the Armenians had presented their case to the Conference at London, as they had presented it at Berlin thirty-five years before.(241) When the Conference proved unable to take cognizance of their petition, they applied to the individual governments of the Powers. The Russian Government took the initiative and drafted a new scheme for the administration of the Six Vilayets, which it submitted to. the Signatories of the Treaty of Berlin. The German Government opposed, but was won over by the Russian diplomacy and by the representations of the Armenian delegates, who repaired to Berlin in person. Then, when the German opposition had been withdrawn, the Russian draft was revised by the Ambassadors of the Powers at Constantinople, accepted, with modifications, by the Young Turkish Government, and actually promulgated by them on the 8th February, 1914.
In its final shape, the scheme still embodied the main points of reform which had been regarded as cardinal ever since 1878. There was to be a mixed Gendarmerie, under a European chief, recruited from the Turks and Armenians, but closed to the Kurds ; Moslem and Christian were to be equal before the law; the Armenian language was to be a recognised medium in the courts and public offices (a bitter clause for the Young Turkish nationalists) ; there were to be no restrictions on the multiplication of Armenian schools. Finally, the vilayets affected by the scheme(242) were to be divided into two groups, and each group was to be placed under a European Inspector-General. The two Inspector-Generals were authorised to appoint and dismiss all officials in their respective spheres, except those "of superior rank." They were themselves to be appointed by the Ottoman Government, on the recommendation of the Powers, for a term, of ten years, and not to be removable within this period. The Government duly proceeded to select two candidates for these Inspectorates, a Dutchman and a Norwegian, but its treatment of these gentlemen soon showed that in diplomacy, at any rate, the Young Turks had adopted the methods of Abd-ul Hamid. A clause was inserted in the Inspectors' contract of engagement, empowering the Government to denounce it at any moment upon payment of an indemnity of one year's salary---a flat violation of the ten years' term provided for under the scheme ; and the list of "superior officials" was inflated until the patronage of the Inspectors, which, next to their irremovability, would have been their most effective power, was reduced to an illusion. The unfortunate nominees were spared the farce of exercising their maimed authority. They had barely reached their provinces when the European War broke out, and the Government promptly denounced the contracts and suspended the Scheme of Reforms, as the first step towards its own intervention in the conflict.
Thus, at the close of 1914, the Armenians found themselves in the same position as in 1883. The measures designed for their security had fallen through, and left nothing behind but the resentment of the Government that still held them at its mercy. The deportations of 1915 followed as inexorably from the Balkan War and the Project of 1914 as the massacres of 1895-6 had followed from the Russian War and the Project of 1878. Only in the execution of their revenge the Young Turks revealed all the sinister features of their dissimilarity to Abd-ul-Hamid. The Sultan, so far as he differed from the familiar type of Oriental despot, had been an opportunist in the tradition of Metternich---a politician of mature experience and delicate touch, unencumbered by any constructive programme to disturb the artistry of his game of finesse. He repressed the Armenians to a nicety after preparing for it eighteen years. The Young Turks were adventurers who had caught the catchwords of another generation and another school---the apes of Danton and Robespierre, and doctrinaires to the core. For the old, anachronistic ascendency of Moslem over Rayah, to the maintenance of which Abd-ul-Hamid had cynically devoted his abilities, they substituted the idea of Turkish nationalism, which clothed the same evil in a more clearly cut and infinitely more dynamic form. They were fanatics with an unreasoned creed, builders with a plan that they meant to carry through, and no half-measures would content them, no inhibitions of prudence or humanity deter them from the attempt to realise the whole. Hindrances only exasperated them to sweeping action, and a blind concentration on their programme shielded them from doubts. "Our acts," Talaat Bey is reported to have said, in the interview quoted above, "have been dictated to us by a national and historical necessity. The idea of guaranteeing the existence of Turkey must outweigh every other consideration." The first of these sentiments is the pure-milk of the eighteenth century idÈologues ; there is a Prussian adulteration in the second, which smacks of more recent times. It is the voice of the youngest, crudest, most ruthless national movement in Europe, and the acts which it excuses, and which the documents in this volume describe, were the barbarous initiation of the Near East into the European fraternity.
VI. THE DEPORTATIONS OF 1915: PROCEDURE.
The atrocities of 1915 are described in detail in the documents collected in this book, but it will be well to give in conclusion a bare summary of events, partly to make the detail less confusing to the reader, and partly to bring out the essential unity of design which underlay the procedure against the Armenians at the various dates and in the various provinces of the Empire to which the documents relate. This fundamental uniformity of procedure is more sinister than the incidental aggravations of the crime by Kurds, peasants, gendarmes or local authorities. It is damning evidence that the procedure itself, which set in motion all the other forces of evil, was conceived and organised by the Central Government at Constantinople.
The dismissal of the Inspectors-General and the abrogation of the reforms were followed immediately by the mobilisation of the Ottoman Army for eventual participation in the war, and with this the sufferings of the Armenians began. It has been mentioned already that the Young Turks had extended the duty of military service to their Christian fellow-citizens, and that the Armenian recruits had distinguished themselves in the Balkan War ; but naturally the measure was not retrospective, and Armenians who were already past the statutory age of training when it was introduced, were allowed to pay the "Rayah" poll-tax as before, under the formula of an exemption-tax in lieu of military service. In the autumn of 1914, however, there was a general levy of all males in the Empire from twenty years of age to forty-five, and soon from eighteen to fifty, in which the Armenians, whether they had paid their annual exemption-tax or not, were included with the rest. There were also drastic requisitions of private supplies, by which the Armenians, again, were the principal sufferers, since they were the chief merchants and store-keepers of the country. These were considerable hardships and injustices, but they were not necessarily in themselves the result of a malevolent design. Apart from what actually followed, they might have been simply the inevitable penalties of a country which had been embarked by its Government on a struggle for existence.
In October, when mobilisation was completed, the Government had, in fact, declared war on the Allies, and in December its grandiose military operations began. Enver Pasha, with the main Ottoman forces, started an encircling movement against the Russian troops in Caucasia, along a front extending from Erzeroum. to the Black Sea Coast; Halil Bey led a flying column across the frontier of Azerbaijan, and raised the Kurds ; Djemal Pasha felt his way across the Sinai Peninsula towards the Suez Canal. For a week or two the invading armies met with success. They reached Ardahan, almost in the rear of Kars, they pushed the Russians back from their rail-head at Sari-Kamysh, and they occupied the capital of Azerbaijan, Tabriz. But then the campaign broke down in disaster. Two Turkish army corps were destroyed at Sari-Kamysh in the first week of January, 1915, and the rest were driven out of Russian territory by the end of the month; on the 30th January, the Russians even reoccupied Tabriz. Djemal's Egyptian expedition was a month in arrear, but its fortunes were the same. He reached the Canal at the beginning of February, after a creditable desert march, only to return by the way he came, after an abortive night attack. There was no more question of the offensive for the Turks, but only of defending their own straggling frontiers ; and this breakdown was a bitter blow to Young Turkish official circles, for it shattered half the hopes that had lured them into the war. The unmeasured optimism of the winter gave place to equally violent depression, and under the influence of this new atmosphere the persecution of the Armenians entered a second and more positive phase.
A decree went forth that all Armenians should be disarmed. The Armenians in the Army were drafted out of the fighting ranks, re-formed into special labour battalions, and set to work at throwing up fortifications and constructing roads. The disarming of the civil population was left to the local authorities, and in every administrative centre a reign of terror began. The authorities demanded the production of a definite number of arms. Those who could not produce them were tortured, often in fiendish ways; those who procured them for surrender, by purchase from their Moslem neighbours or by other means, were imprisoned for conspiracy against the Government. Few of these were young men, for most of the young had been called up to serve; they were elderly men, men of substance and the leaders of the Armenian community, and it became apparent that the inquisition for arms was being used as a cloak to deprive the community of its natural heads. Similar measures had preceded the massacres of 1895-6, and a sense of foreboding spread through the Armenian people. "One night in the winter," writes a foreign witness of these events(243), "the Government sent officers round the city to all Armenian houses, knocking up the families and demanding that all weapons should be given up. This action was the death-knell to many hearts."
The appalling inference was in fact correct, for the second phase of persecution passed over without a break into the third and final act, and it is evident that the whole train had been laid by the Ministry at Constantinople before the first arms were called in or the first Armenian thrown into prison. This carries the detailed organisation of the scheme at least as far back as February, 1915, and, indeed, the elaborate preparations that had already been made by the 8th April, the date of the first deportation at Zeitoun, presuppose at least as long a period. It is extremely important to emphasise these chronological facts, because they refute the attempt of the apologists to disconnect the last phase from the phases that preceded it, and to represent it as an emergency measure dictated by the military events of the spring.
In reality, the situation had been growing tenser before the spring began. In outlying villages, the inquisition for arms had been accompanied by open violence. Men had been massacred, women violated and houses burnt down by the gendarmerie patrols, and such outrages had been particularly frequent in the Vilayet of Van, where the soldiers seem to have been exasperated by their recent reverses and were certainly stimulated by the truculence of the Governor Djevdet Bey, who had returned to his administrative duties after his unsuccessful campaigning beyond the frontier. The crowning outrage was the murder of four Armenian leaders from the City, when they were on their way to an outlying district to keep the peace, at Djevdet's own request, between the local Armenians and their Moslem neighbours. The Armenian inhabitants of the City of Van took warning from the fate of the villagers and from this last and most sinister crime, and prepared themselves, in case of need, for self-defence. Their action was justified by Djevdet Bey himself, for he had been drawing a cordon round the garden suburbs of Van, where the majority of the Armenian population lived, and on the 20th April he unleashed his troops upon them without provocation. The Armenians of Van found themselves fighting for their lives against a murderous attack by what was supposed to be the lawful Government of their country. There had been the same sequence of events at Zeitoun. The search for arms had been accompanied by a formidable concentration of troops in the town, and the final phase had been opened, not indeed by a butchery, but by the deportation of the first batch of the inhabitants. This had occurred on the 8th April, twelve days before Djevdet Bey's outbreak at Van, and both events were previous to the new turn in the military situation. In fact, it was the distress of the Armenian civil population at Van that decided the Russian initiative. A Russian column, with a strong contingent of Russian-Armenian volunteers, forced its way towards the city from the direction of Bayazid, and relieved the defenders on the 19th May, after they had been besieged for a month. The strategy of encirclement was now retorted upon the Turks themselves, for on the 24th May another Russian column occupied Urmia, and drove the last of the Turco-Kurdish invaders out of Azerbaijan. A British expeditionary force was simultaneously pressing up the Tigris, and while events were taking this serious turn in the east, the heart of the Empire was threatened by the attack on the Dardanelles. By the end of May, 1915, the outlook was as desperate as in the bad days of 1912, but it must be emphasised again that the final phase in the procedure against the Armenians had already begun before these acute military dangers emerged above the horizon. The military straits in which the Young Turks found themselves in the spring of 1915 may have precipitated the execution of their Armenian scheme, but have no bearing whatever upon its origination.
On the 8th April, then, the final phase began, and the process carried out at Zeitoun was applied to one Armenian centre after another throughout the Ottoman Empire. On a certain date, in whatever town or village it might be (and the dates show a significant sequence), the public crier went through the streets announcing that every male Armenian must present himself forthwith at the Government Building. In some cases the warning was given by the soldiery or gendarmerie slaughtering every male Armenian they encountered in the streets, a reminiscence of the procedure in 1895-6 ; but usually a summons to the Government Building was the preliminary stage. The men presented themselves in their working clothes, leaving their shops and work-rooms open, their ploughs in the field, their cattle on the mountain side. When they arrived, they were thrown without explanation into prison, kept there a day or two, and then marched out of the town in batches, roped man to man, along some southerly or south-easterly road. They were starting, they were told, on a long journey--- to Mosul or perhaps to Baghdad. It was a dreadful prospect to men unequipped for travel, who had neither scrip nor staff, food nor clothes nor bedding. They had bidden no farewell to their families, they had not wound up their affairs. But they had not long to ponder over their plight, for they were halted and massacred at the first lonely place on the road. The same process was applied to those other Armenian men (and they numbered hundreds or even thousands in the larger centres) who had been imprisoned during the winter months on the charge of conspiracy or concealment of arms, though in some instances these prisoners are said to have been overlooked---an involuntary form of reprieve of which there were also examples during the French Reign of Terror in 1793. This was the civil authorities' part, but there was complete co-ordination between Talaat Bey's Ministry of the Interior and Enver Pasha's Ministry of War, for simultaneously the Armenian Labour Battalions, working behind the front, were surrounded by detachments of their combatant Moslem fellow-soldiers and butchered in cold blood.
The military authorities also made themselves responsible for the civil population of Bitlis, Moush and Sassoun, who were marked out for complete and immediate extermination on account of their proximity to Van and the advancing Russian forces. This task was carried out by military methods with the help of the local Kurds---another reversion to the tactics of Abd-ul-Hamid---but its application appears to have been limited to the aforementioned districts. In the rest of the Empire, where the work was left in the hands of the civil administration, the women and children were not disposed of by straightforward massacre like the men. Their destiny under the Government scheme was not massacre but slavery or deportation.
After the Armenian men had been summoned away to their death, there was usually a few days interval in whatever town it might be, and then the crier was heard again in the streets, bidding all Armenians who remained to prepare themselves for deportation, while placards to the same effect were posted on the walls.(244) This applied, in actual fact, to the women and children, and to a poor remnant of the men who, through sickness, infirmity or age, had escaped the fate marked out for their sex. A period of grace was in most cases accorded for the settlement of their affairs and the preparation of their journey ; but here, again, there were cases in which the victims were taken without warning from the loom, the fountain or even from their beds, and the respite, where granted, was in great measure illusory. The ordinary term given was a bare week, and it was never more than a fortnight---a time utterly insufficient for all that had to be done. There were instances, moreover, in which the Government broke its promise, and carried away its victims before the stated day arrived.
For the women there was an alternative to deportation. They might escape it by conversion to Islam; but conversion for an Armenian woman in 1915 meant something more physical than a change of theology. It could only be ratified by immediate marriage with a Moslem man, and if the woman were already a wife (or, rather, a widow, for by this time few Armenian husbands remained alive), she must part with any children she had, and surrender them to be brought up as true Moslems in a "Government Orphanage"---a fate of uncertain meaning, for no such institutions were known to be in existence(245). If the convert could find no Turk to take her, or shrank from the embraces of the bridegroom who offered himself, then she and her children must be deported with the rest, however fervently she had professed the creed of Islam. Deportation was the alternative adopted by, or imposed upon, the great majority.
The sentence of deportation was a paralysing blow, yet those condemned to it had to spend their week of grace in feverish activity, procuring themselves clothing, provisions and ready money for the road. The local authorities placed every possible obstacle in their way. There was an official fiction that their banishment was only temporary, and they were therefore prohibited from selling their real property or their stock. The Government set its seal upon the vacated houses, lands and merchandise, "to keep them safe against their owners' return ;" yet before these rightful owners started on their march they often saw these very possessions, which they had not been allowed to realise, made over by the authorities as a free gift to Moslem immigrants, who had been concentrated in the neighbourhood, in readiness to step into the Armenians' place(246). And even such household or personal chattels as they were permitted to dispose of were of little avail, for their Moslem neighbours took shameless advantage of their necessity, and beat them down to an almost nominal price, so that when the day of departure arrived they were often poorly equipped to meet it.
The Government charged itself with their transport, and indeed they were not in a position to arrange for it themselves, for their ultimate destination was seldom divulged. The exiles from each centre were broken up into several convoys, which varied in size from two or three hundred to three or four thousand members. A detachment of gendarmerie was assigned to every convoy, to guard them on the way, and the civil authorities hired or requisitioned a certain number of ox-carts (arabas), usually one to a family, which they placed at their disposal ; and so the convoy started out. The mental misery of exile was sufficiently acute, but it was soon ousted by more material cares. A few days, or even a few hours, after the start, the carters would refuse to drive them further, and the gendarmes, as fellow Moslems, would connive at their mutinousness. So the carts turned back, and the exiles had to go forward on foot. This was the beginning of their physical torments, for they were not travelling over soft country or graded roads, but by mule-tracks across some of the roughest country in the world. It was the hot season, the wells and springs were sometimes many hours' journey apart, and the gendarmes often amused themselves by forbidding their fainting victims to drink. It would have been an arduous march for soldiers on active service, but the members of these convoys were none of them fitted or trained for physical hardship. They were the women and children, the old and the sick. Some of the women had been delicately brought up and lived in comfort all their lives ; some had to carry children in their arms too young to walk ; others had been sent off with the convoy when they were far gone with child, and gave birth on the road. None of these latter survived, for they were forced to march on again after a few hours' respite ; they died on the road, and the new-born babies perished with them. Many others died of hunger and thirst, sunstroke, apoplexy or sheer exhaustion. The hardships endured by the women who accompanied their husbands on Sir John Moore's retreat to Corunna bear no comparison with the hardships these Armenian women endured. The Government which condemned them to exile knew what the journey would mean, and the servants of the Government who conducted them did everything to aggravate their inevitable physical sufferings. Yet this was the least part of their torture ; far worse were the atrocities of violence wantonly inflicted upon them by fellow human beings.
From the moment they left the outskirts of the towns they were never safe from outrage. The Moslem peasants mobbed and plundered them as they passed through the cultivated lands, and the gendarmes connived at the peasants' brutality, as they had connived at the desertion of the drivers with their carts. When they arrived at a village they were exhibited like slaves in a public place, often before the windows of the Government Building itself, and every Moslem inhabitant was allowed to view them and take his choice of them for his harem ; the gendarmes themselves began to make free with the rest, and compelled them to sleep with them at night. There were still more horrible outrages when they came to the mountains, for here they were met by bands of "chettis" and Kurds. The "chettis" were brigands, recruited from the public prisons; they had been deliberately released by the authorities on a consideration which may have been tacit but which both parties clearly understood. As for the Kurds, they had not changed since 1896, for they had always retained their arms, which Abd-ul-Hamid had served out and the Young Turks could not or would not take away ; and they had now been restored to official favour upon the proclamation of the Holy War, so that their position was as secure again as it had been before 1908. They knew well what they were allowed and what they were intended to do. When these Kurds and chettis waylaid the convoys, the gendarmes always fraternised with them and followed their lead, and it would be hard to say which took the most active part in the ensuing massacre---for this was the work which the brigands came to do. The first to be butchered were the old men and boys---all the males that were to be found in the convoy except the infants in arms---but the women were massacred also. It depended on the whim of the moment whether a Kurd cut a woman down or carried her away into the hills. When they were carried away their babies were left on the ground or dashed against the stones. But while the convoy dwindled, the remnant had always to march on. The cruelty of the gendarmes towards the victims grew greater as their physical sufferings grew more intense; the gendarmes seemed impatient to make a hasty end of their task. Women who lagged behind were bayoneted on the road, or pushed over precipices, or over bridges. The passage of rivers, and especially of the Euphrates, was always an occasion of wholesale murder. Women and children were driven into the water, and were shot as they struggled, if they seemed likely to reach the further bank. The lust and covetousness of their tormentors had no limit. The last survivors often staggered into Aleppo naked ; every shred of their clothing had been torn from them on the way. Witnesses who saw their arrival remark that there was not one young or pretty face to be seen among them, and there was assuredly none surviving that was truly old---except in so far as it had been aged by suffering. The only chance to survive was to be plain enough to escape their torturers' lust, and vigorous enough to bear the fatigues of the road.
Those were the exiles that arrived on foot, but there were others, from the metropolitan districts and the north-west, who were transported to Aleppo by rail. These escaped the violence of the Kurds, but the sum of their suffering can hardly have been less. They were packed in cattle-trucks, often filthy and always overcrowded, and their journey was infinitely slow, for the line was congested by their multitude and by the passage of troops. At every stopping-place they were simply turned out into the open, without food or shelter, to wait for days, or even weeks, till the line was clear and rolling-stock available to carry them a further stage. The gendarmes in charge of them seem to have been as brutal as those with the convoys on foot, and when they came to the two breaks in the Baghdad Railway, where the route crosses the ranges of the Taurus and Amanus Mountains, they too had to traverse these, the most arduous stages of all, on foot. At Bozanti, the rail-head west of Taurus, and again at Osmania, Mamouret, Islohia and Kotmo, stations on either slope of the Amanus chain, vast and incredibly foul concentration camps grew up, where the exiles were delayed for months, and died literally by thousands of hunger, exposure, and epidemics. The portion of them that finally reached Aleppo wore in as deplorable a condition as those that had made the journey on foot from beginning to end.
Aleppo was the focus upon which all the convoys converged. In April, it is true, half the Zeitounlis had been sent northwestward to Sultania, in the Konia district, one of the most unhealthy spots in the Anatolian Desert. But the authorities changed their mind, and despatched the exiles at Sultania southeast again, to join their fellow-townsmen in the Desert of Syria(247). Thenceforward, the south-eastern desert was the destination of them all, and Aleppo, and in a secondary degree Ourfa and Rasul-Ain, were the natural centres of distribution.
Some of the exiles were planted in the immediate neighbourhood of Aleppo itself-at places like Moumbidj, Bab, Ma'ara, Idlib(248)---but these seem to have been comparatively few, and it is not certain whether their quarters there were intended to be permanent. Many more were deported southward from Aleppo along the Syrian Railway, and allowed to find a resting-place in the districts of Hama, Homs and Damascus. A still larger number were sent towards the east, and cantoned on the banks of the Euphrates, in the desert section of its course. There were some at Rakka ; Der-el-Zor was the largest depôt of all, and is mentioned in this connection more frequently than any place after Aleppo itself ; some were sent on to Mayadin(249), a day's journey further down the river, and Moslem travellers reported meeting others within forty-eight hours' journey of Baghdad(250). No first-hand evidence has come in of their presence at or near Mosul, though they were frequently informed on their journey that their destination was to be there.
The dispersal of the exiles was thus extremely wide, as the authors of the scheme had intended that it should be, but certain features are common to all the places to which they were sent. They were all inhabited by Moslem populations alien to the Armenians in language and habits of life ; they were all unhealthy ---either malarious or sultry or in some other respect markedly unsuitable for the residence of people used to a temperate climate ; and they were all remote from the exiles' original homes---the remotest places, in fact, which the Government could find within the Ottoman frontiers, since Christians were debarred from setting foot on the sacred deserts of the Hidjaz, and a British expeditionary force was occupying the marshes of Irak. The Ottoman Government had to content itself with the worst districts at its disposal, and it did its utmost to heighten the climate's natural effect by marooning the exiles there, after an exhausting journey, with neither food, nor shelter, nor clothing, and with no able-bodied men among them to supply these deficiencies by their labour and resource.
The transmission of the exiles to these distant destinations was naturally slow---indeed, the slowness of the journey was one of the most effective of its torments. The first convoy started from Zeitoun on the 8th April, 1915 ; fresh convoys followed it during the seven ensuing months from the different Armenian centres in the Empire, and there is no record of any stoppage until the 6th November. On that date an order from Constantinople reached the local authorities, at any rate in the Cilician plain(251), directing them to refrain from further deportations ; but this only applied to the remnant of the local Armenian residents, and the masses of exiles from the north and north-west who were still painfully struggling across the barriers of Taurus and Amanus, were driven on remorselessly to their journey's end, which cannot have been reached by them (or by such of them as survived) before the very close of the year. The congestion of the routes was partly responsible for this delay; but the congestion would have been still more pronounced if the scheme had not been carried out methodically, region by region, in an order which betrays more than anything else the directing hand of the Central Government. Cilicia was the first region to be cleared, just as it had been the principal region to suffer in the massacres of 1909. Strategically and economically, it was the most vital spot in Asiatic Turkey, and its large and increasing Armenian population must always have offended the sensibilities of the Young Turkish Nationalists. It was the natural starting-point for the execution of the Ottomanisation Scheme, and the deportations were in progress here fully six weeks before they were applied to the remainder of the Empire. Zeitoun was cleared on the 8th April; Geben, Furnus and Albustan within the next few days ; Dört Yöl before the end of the month. At Hadjin, on the other hand, the clearance did not begin till the 3rd June, and dragged on into September; while at Adana, the city of the plain, there was only an abortive clearance in the third week of May, and the serious deportations were postponed till the first week in September.
The next region to be cleared was the zone bordering on Van and immediately threatened by the Russian advance, from the Black Sea to the Persian frontier. In the south-eastern districts of this zone---Bitlis, Moush, Sassoun and Hakkiari---the clearance, as. has been remarked already, was not effected by deportation, but by wholesale massacre on the spot. Outlying villages of the Boulanik, Moush and Sassoun areas were destroyed in the latter part of May, and before the end of the same month Djevdet Bey retreated down the Bohtan Valley from Van, and massacred the Armenians of Sairt. The Armenians of Bitlis were next massacred by Djevdet, on the 25th June; and, in the first week of July, 20,000 fresh troops arrived from Harpout and exterminated the Armenians of Moush---first the villagers and then the people of the town, which was bombarded by artillery on the 10th June. After making an end of Moush these troops joined the Kurdish irregulars operating against Sassoun, and on the 5th August, after bitter fighting, the surviving Sassounlis ---man, woman and child--- were annihilated in their last mountain stronghold. At the end of July the Ottoman forces temporarily re-entered Van, and slaughtered all the Armenian inhabitants who had not escaped in the wake of the Russian retreat. In June and July the Nestorian (Syrian) communities of the district of Hakkiari, in the upper basin of the Greater Zab, were also attacked by the Kurds and destroyed, except for a remnant which crossed the watershed into the Urmia basin and found safety within the Russian lines.
In the. north-western districts of the frontier zone the semblance of deportation was preserved, but the exiles---women and children as well as men---were invariably massacred in cold blood after a few days on the road. Before the end of May there was a massacre at Khnyss, and on the 6th June the deportations began (with the same consummation) in the villages of the Erzeroum plain. At Erzeroum itself the first deportation took place on the 16th June, and the last on the 28th July (or on the 3rd August, according to other reports). The Armenian Bishop of the city was deported with this last convoy, and never heard of again. At Baibourt, the surrounding villages were similarly cleared before the town, and the townspeople were despatched in three convoys, the last of which started on the 14th June. From the town of Erzindjan four convoys started on successive days, from the 7th June to the 10th. Practically none of the exiles from Erzindjan, Baibourt or Erzeroum seem to have outlived the first stages of the journey.
At Harpout, the clearance began on the 1st June , and continued throughout the month. On the 2nd, 3rd and 4th July the adjoining town of MezrÈ was emptied as well. The convoys from these two places and the neighbouring villages were terribly thinned by atrocities on the road.
At Trebizond the deportations were carried out from the 1st to the 6th July, and seem to have been simultaneous in the various coast towns of the Vilayet. Here, too, deportation was merely a cloak for immediate massacre. The exiles were either drowned at sea or cut down at the first resting-place on the road.
In the Vilayet of Sivas, again, the villages were dealt with first, but the city itself was not cleared till the 5th July. At X. the men were deported on the 26th June, the women on the 5th July, and the last remnant, who had found protection with the American Missionaries, were carried away on the 10th August. All the men, and many of the women, were massacred on the road.
The Armenian population in the provinces west of Sivas, and in the metropolitan districts surrounding Constantinople, was removed by train along the Anatolian Railway to Konia, and thence towards Aleppo along the several sections of the Baghdad line. In all this region the scheme was put into execution distinctly later. At Angora the deportations began towards the end of July, at Adapazar about, the l1th August ; at Broussa there seems to have been no clearance till the first weeks of September, but this is stated to have been one of the last places touched(252). At Adrianople, however, the Armenians were not deported till the middle of October ; and at K., in the Sandjak of Kaisaria, not till the 12th/15th November.
The south-eastern outposts of the Armenian Dispersion were left to the last, although their immediate neighbours in the Cilician highlands had been taken at the very beginning. The villagers of Djibal Mousa were not summoned till the 13th July; Aintab was not touched till the 1st August, and then only cleared gradually during the course of the month. The summons to Ourfa, which was answered, as at Djibal Mousa, by defiance, was not delivered till the last week in September.
Glancing back over this survey, we can discern the Central Government's general plan. The months of April and May were assigned to the clearance of Cilicia; June and July were reserved for the east; the western centres along the Railway were given their turn in August and September; and at the same time the process was extended, for completeness' sake, to the outlying Armenian communities in the extreme south-east. It was a deliberate, systematic attempt to eradicate the Armenian population throughout the Ottoman Empire, and it has certainly met with a very large measure of success ; but it is not easy to present the results, even approximately, in a statistical form. The only people in a position to keep an accurate account of the numbers affected were the Ottoman authorities themselves ; but it is unlikely that they have done so, and still more unlikely that they would ever divulge such figures to the civilised world. We are compelled to base our estimates on the statements of private persons, who were excluded from detailed investigation by the jealous suspicion of the Government officials and were seldom able to observe events in more than a limited section of the field. We must make our computations by piecing together these isolated data from private sources, and since Oriental arithmetic is notoriously inexact (and this is scarcely less true of the Nearer than of the Further East), we shall only make use of testimony from foreign witnesses of neutral nationality. Such witnesses may be assumed to be comparatively free from unconscious exaggeration and completely innocent of purposeful misrepresentation, and we can accept their statements with considerable assurance.
The first step is to establish the number of Armenians living within the Ottoman frontiers at the moment the deportations began. All the other figures ultimately depend upon this, but it is harder than any to obtain, for there are no independent foreign estimates of this on record, and the, discrepancy between the native estimates is extreme(253). The Armenian Patriarchate, after an enquiry conducted in 1912, placed the number as high as 2,100,000(254) ; the Ottoman Government, in its latest official returns, puts it at 1,100,000 and no more. Both parties have an equal political interest in forcing their figures, but the Armenians are likely to have had a greater respect for exactitude, or at any rate a stronger sense of the futility of falsification. The most "neutral" course under the circumstances is to halve the difference, and to take the number provisionally as being 1,600,000, with the qualification that the true figure certainly lies between this and 2,000,000, and probably approaches more closely to the latter. The rest of the necessary figures can fortunately be drawn from foreign neutral testimony, in which such baffling discrepancies are rarer.
The second step is to estimate the number of those who have escaped deportation. There are the refugees who have escaped it by crossing the frontier---182,000 into the Russian Caucasus and 4,200 into Egypt, according to detailed and trustworthy returns(255). There are also two important Armenian communities in Turkey where practically all but the leaders have been left unmolested---those of Smyrna and Constantinople. At Constantinople about 150,000 Armenians must still remain. Then there are the Catholic and Protestant Millets, which were nominally exempted from deportation, and the exempted converts to Islam. It is impossible to estimate the numbers in these categories with any plausibility, for the conduct of the authorities in respect of them was quite erratic. Many of the converts to Islam(256), as well as Armenians of the other denominations, were given the same treatment as the Gregorians, and the actual percentage of conversions is unascertainable, for they were encouraged in some places and discouraged in others. We must also allow for those who managed to elude the Government's net. As a general rule, this category is more numerous in reality than it appears to be, and this is especially so in the Near East. But in the present case the Young Turks seem to have put a Prussian thoroughness into the execution of their scheme, and the margin of ineffectiveness was evidently narrow. In the towns, such as Zeitoun, Hadjin, Sivas, X., and Erzeroum, where we have sufficient testimony to cross-check the estimates presented, the clearance, by deportation or massacre, seems to have been practically complete. At Erzeroum, for instance, there were 20,000 Armenians before the clearance began, and when it was over there were not more than 100 left(257). Concealment on any considerable scale can only have been practised in the villages, yet the number of those who have emerged from hiding since the Russian occupation is extraordinarily small. According to the investigations of the Patriarchate, there were 580,000 Armenians in 1912 in the Vilayets of Erzeroum, Bitlis and Van, which are now within the Russian lines(258). The American Relief Committee has recently been informed by its agents on the spot that there are now only 12,100 left alive there(259). Whatever arbitrary margin of reduction the absence of confirmatory statistics may make it necessary to subtract from the former figure, the proportion borne to it by the 12,100 survivors remains infinitesimal. Putting the communities at Constantinople and Smyrna and the refugees together at about 350,000, we shall certainly not be reckoning too low if we allow a quarter of a million for the Protestants, Catholics, converts and others who were spared, and estimate the total number of Armenians in Turkey. who escaped deportation at not more than 600,000.
This leaves at least 1,000,000 to be accounted for by deportation and massacre, and probably 1,200,000 or more.
The third step is to estimate what proportion of these million Armenians has perished and what proportion survived, and here again our material is scanty and generalisation unsafe, the procedure of the authorities being erratic in this respect also. In certain vilayets, like Van and Bitlis, there was no deportation at all, but massacre outright ; in others, like Erzeroum and Trebizond, and again at Angora, deportation and massacre were equivalent, the convoys being butchered systematically at an early stage on the road. In Cilicia, on the other hand, the men as well as the women seem to have been genuinely deported, and the convoys seem only to have been reduced by sickness and exhaustion. Yet even where there was no wholesale massacre on the journey, a convoy might practically be exterminated by degrees. A large combined convoy, for instance, of exiles from Mamouret-ul-Aziz and Sivas, set out from Malatia 18,000 strong and numbered 301 at Viran Shehr, 150 at Aleppo(260). In this case, however, the wastage appears to have been exceptional. We have one similar instance of a convoy from Harpout which was reduced on the way to Aleppo from 5,000 to 213, a loss of 96 per cent.(261) ; but in general the wastage seems to fluctuate, with a wide oscillation, on either side of 50 per cent.; 600 out of 2,500 (24 per cent.) reached Aleppo from a village in the Harpout district(262); 60 per cent. arrived there out of the first convoy from the village of E. (near H.), and 46 per cent. out of the second; 25 per cent. arrived out of a convoy from the village of D. in the same neighbourhood(263). We shall certainly be well within the mark if we estimate that at least half those condemned to massacre or deportation have actually perished.
We can cheek this estimate to some extent by the record of arrivals at certain important centres of traffic on the exile routes, or at the final destinations of the convoys. On the 16th August, 1915, for instance, an exceedingly competent neutral resident at Constantinople stated that, to his knowledge, there were then 50,000 exiles scattered along the route from Bozanti (the first break in the Baghdad line) to Aleppo ; on the 5th November, another witness(264), who had just traversed this route, wrote back from Aleppo that he had passed 150,000 exiles between there and Konia. Again, 13,155 exiles had reached or passed through Aleppo by the 30th July, 1915, and 20,000 more arrived there between that date and the 19th August(265). By the 3rd August 15,000 of these had been transmitted alive to Der-el-Zor, and this was only the beginning of the arrivals in the Zor district. No exiles reached Damascus before the 12th August, but between that date and the 3rd October, 1915, 22,000 of them had come through(266). These are isolated data, and prove little in themselves, but in its Bulletin of the 5th April, 1916, the American Relief Committee has published a cable recently received in the United States from a competent source, in which the total number of Armenian exiles alive at that time in the regions of Der-el-Zor, Damascus and Aleppo is estimated roughly at 500,000(267). This figure is possibly an exaggeration, but it is not incompatible with our two previous conclusions, that the total number of Armenians affected by the Young Turks' scheme was at least a million, and that at least 50 per cent. of these have perished. To the alleged 500,000 survivors in the three regions mentioned we must add an uncertain but inconsiderable margin for the exiles who may have been planted at Mosul or who may still, in March, 1916, have been held up on the road; and this will raise the original number affected to something approaching 1,200,000, which we considered, on other grounds, to be nearer the real figure than the bare million which we accepted.
We can sum up this statistical enquiry by saying that, as far as our defective information carries us, about an equal number of Armenians in Turkey seem to have escaped, to have perished, and to have survived deportation in 1915; and we shall not be far wrong if, in round numbers, we estimate each of these categories at 600,000.
The exact quantitative scale of the crime thus remains uncertain(268), but there is no uncertainty as to the responsibility for its perpetration. This immense infliction of suffering and destruction of life was not the work of religious fanaticism. Fanaticism played no more part here than it has played in the fighting at Gallipoli or Kut, and the "Holy War" which the Young Turks caused to be proclaimed in October, 1914, was merely a political move to embarrass the Moslem subjects of the Entente Powers. There was no fanaticism, for instance, in the conduct of the Kurds and chettis, who committed some of the most horrible acts of all, nor can the responsibility be fixed upon them. They were simply marauders and criminals who did after their kind, and the Government, which not only condoned, but instigated, their actions, must bear the guilt. The peasantry, again (own brothers though they were to the Ottoman soldiery whose apparent humanity at Gallipoli and Kut has won their opponents' respect), behaved with astonishing brutality to the Armenians who were delivered into their hands; yet the responsibility does not lie with the Turkish peasantry. They are sluggish, docile people, unready to take violent action on their own initiative, but capable of perpetrating any enormity on the suggestion of those they are accustomed to obey. The peasantry would never have attacked the Armenians if their superiors had not given them the word. Nor are the Moslem townspeople primarily to blame; their record is not invariably black, and the evidence in this volume throws here and there a favourable light upon their character. Where Moslem and Christian lived together in the same town or village, led the same life, pursued the same vocation, there seems often to have been a strong human bond between them. The respectable Moslem townspeople seldom desired the extermination of their Armenian neighbours, sometimes openly deplored it, and in several instances even set themselves to hinder it from taking effect. We have evidence of this from various places---Adana(269), for instance, and AF.(270) in Cilicia, the villages of AJ. and AK.(270) in the AF. district, and the city of Angora. The authorities had indeed to decree severe penalties against any Moslem as well as any alien or Greek who might be convicted of sheltering their Armenian victims. The rabble naturally looted Armenian property when the police connived, as the rabble in European towns might do; the respectable majority of the Moslem townspeople can be accused of apathy at worst ; the responsibility cannot rest with these.
The guilt must, therefore, fall upon the officials of the Ottoman Government, but it will not weigh equally upon all members of the official hierarchy. The behaviour of the gendarmerie, for example, was utterly atrocious ; the subordinates were demoralised by the power for evil that was placed in their hands ; they were egged on by their chiefs, who gave vent to a malevolence against the Armenians which they must have been harbouring for years ; a very large proportion of the total misery inflicted was the gendarmerie's work ; and yet the gendarmerie were not, or ought not to have been, independent agents. The responsibility for their misconduct must be referred to the local civil administrators, or to the Central Government, or to both.
The local administrators of provinces and sub-districts---Valis, Mutessarifs and Kaimakams--- are certainly very deeply to blame. The latitude allowed them by the Central Government was wide, as is shown by the variations they practised, in different places, upon the common scheme. In this place the Armenian men were massacred; in that they were deported unscathed; in that other they were taken out to sea and drowned. Here the women were bullied into conversion; here conversion was disallowed; here they were massacred like the men. And in many other matters, such as the disposal of Armenian property or the use of torture, remarkable differences of practice can be observed, which are all ascribable to the good or bad will of the local officials. A serious part of the responsibility falls upon them---upon fire eaters like Djevdet Bey or cruel natures like the Governor of Ourfa(271) ; and yet their freedom of action was comparatively restricted. Where they were evilly-intentioned towards the Armenians they were able to go beyond the Central Government's instructions (though even in matters like the exemption of Catholics and Protestants, where their action was apparently most free, they and the Central Government were often merely in collusion)(272) ; but they might never mitigate their instructions by one degree. Humane and honourable governors (and there were a certain number of these) were powerless to protect the Armenians in their province. The Central Government had its agents on the spot---the chairman of the local branch of the Committee of Union and Progress(273), the local Chief of Gendarmerie, or even some subordinate official(274) on the Governor's own administrative staff. If these merciful governors were merely remiss in executing the instructions, they were flouted and overruled; if they refused to obey them, they were dismissed and replaced by more pliant successors. In one way or another, the Central Government enforced and controlled the execution of the scheme, as it alone had originated the conception of it ; and the Young Turkish Ministers and their associates at Constantinople are directly and personally responsible, from beginning to end, for the gigantic crime that devastated the Near East in 1915.
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