AND THE WAR
AN ARMENIAN'S POINT OF VIEW
WITH AN APPEAL TO BRITAIN AND
THE COMING PEACE CONFERENCE
A. P. HACOBIAN.
1. Quoted in The New Armenia of New York, January 1, 1917. The italics are mine.
2. Quoted in Guerre Sociale (Paris), September 16, 1915.
3. "The Treatment of Armenians in. the Ottoman Empire. Documents presented to Viscount Grey of Fallodon, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, with a preface by Viscount Bryce (Hodder & Stoughton).
4. Armenians are especially indebted to the Manchester Guardian and The Times for their valuable services to their cause, humanity and truth in exposing the reign of terror in Armenia and the Turk's affectation of "clean-fighting." Part 101 of The Times History and Encyclopedia of the War was the first detailed account of what had happened in Armenia since the outbreak of war, and I may add that, considering the difficulties of obtaining information, it is a remarkably well-informed account.
5. Mr. Israel Zangwill concludes a moving and eloquent tribute to the agony of Armenia in The New Armenia (New York) of March 1 1917, entitled---"The Majesty of Armenia," in the following words---"I bow before this higher majesty of sorrow. I take the crown of thorns from Israel's head and I place it upon Armenia's."
Is it not a strange fact that of all contemporary authors and publicists of note, it should have fallen to a famous and gifted Jew to Pay the first tribute to "the majesty" of Armenia's martyrdom for the Christian faith?
6. Mr. P. W. Wilson's sympathetic and appreciative articles in The Westminster Gazette and The Daily News and Leader of February 3, 1917, appeared after the above was written. While I am most grateful to Mr. Wilson and the two great organs of British public opinion, I avail myself of this opportunity to make one or two observations on some of the points Mr. Wilson has raised
"The first impulse of the refugee" has not only been "to start a shop" but also to start a school and improvise the means of continuing the publication of the newspaper he was publishing in Van before the exile, as the Belgians have done here under more favourable circumstances. The toleration practised by Armenians and their Church is not due to adversity, but he true understanding of Christianity. The spirit of toleration breathes through the pages of the history of the Armenian Church from the earliest times.
Mr. Wilson says: "It is doubtless regrettable that the Armenians should have failed to recommend their progressive conception of life to the Moslems around them." This is a striking example of the misconception that so often exists in the minds of even the most sympathetic observers of Armenian affairs. Mr. Wilson knows no doubt for how much prestige counts in the East. If the European missions with all the prestige of their great nations, governments, embassies consulates, etc., behind them (to say nothing of the unlimited funds at their disposal) have had such little success in Moslem countries, is it reasonable to blame the Armenians, oppressed, harried, tortured, massacred, plunged into the depths of misery, for not having fared better? What respect could the Armenian's religion inspire among his Moslem neighbours who murdered his bishops and priests, desecrated his churches and inflicted the most revolting insults upon the outward symbols of his faith, while his powerful co-religionists stood by and did nothing? Under these circumstances what better service could the Armenian render his religion than die for it? In happier days, the early Armenian Christians were largely instrumental in converting the Georgians.
7. It is some consolation to know, as some reports say, that the Arabs have treated these unfortunates kindly. It is an indication of---and a credit to---their superior civilization.
8. Since this chapter was written, the following authoritative and important piece of evidence on this much-debated subject has appeared in, The Weekly Dispatch of March 4, 1917, from the pen of General Sir O'Moore Creagh, V.C.--
". . . I have experience of the Turk. He is a merciless oppressor, whose real character is often hidden behind a pleasant manner, and who is ready to cut your throat with a sort of savage courtesy. Appeal to his fanaticism, and in the trenches he has no fear of death; but he is very subject, in case of reverse, to cowardly panic, which to a considerable extent detracts from his worth as a soldier. . . .
"I know some of our men who have met the Turk both on the Tigris and in Gallipoli speak of him as a clean fighter. Certainly when he meets his match he fights fairly enough, but when he is an easy victor he is remorseless and merciless; and robs, murders, and ravishes with the unrestrained savagery which lies at the base of his character. The British prisoners taken by the Turk in the present war have been disgracefully treated, and, as we know, denied clothing, medicine, and the ordinary necessaries of life, starved, and even refused shelter in extremes of heat and cold. The people who are always ready to praise the Turk as a clean fighter should remember that he has a lot to answer for in the present war."
9. See Appendix, p. 188.
10. See Sir Edwin Pears's article in The Contemporary Review, October 1916. (I note this with the deepest regret, for Armenians are under a heavy debt of gratitude to Sir Edwin Pears for his generous and authoritative defence of their cause in the past.)
11. In reply to a question by Colonel Yate in thee House of Commons on February 12, 1917: ---"Mr. Hope said repeated representation had been made to the Turkish Government to allow U. S. representatives to visit the camps, but up to now without success. Efforts, however, would be continued. Information had reached the Government that the conditions under which officers were interned were fairly satisfactory, but the condition of other prisoners was deplorable."---Evening Standard.
Truth says, in its issue of February 21, 1917: ---"I have in my possession a letter written last autumn by a British Army officer, one of the defenders of Kut, who was then at a place called Vozga, 160 miles from Tigris Valley railhead. The unfortunate prisoner complains bitterly of the privations which he and others have to endure at the hands of the Turks."
12. "Armenia is dying, but she will be born again---the little blood that is left to her is the precious blood from which will arise a heroic posterity. A people that refuses to die will not die. After the victory of our armies, which are fighting for justice and liberty, the Allies will have great duties to fulfil. And the most sacred of these duties will be to bring back to life the martyred peoples, Belgium and Serbia. Then they will assure the security and independence of Armenia. Bending over her they will say to her: 'Rise, sister! suffer no more. Henceforth you are free to live according to your genius and your faith!' "
13. Armenians have from time to time opened schools for Kurdish children, but their efforts were not successful, mainly owing to the unfriendly attitude of the Turkish authorities.
14. Pierre Loti, the well-known French writer, who was an ardent Turkophile before the war, after adding his quota to the current, and, one is constrained to say, cheap, comments on the lack of courage and numberless other failings of the Armenians, adds the following P.S. in his Turquie Agonisante (pp. 94-95) after a longer sojourn in the country and closer contact with realities. (I give the translation from the French.)
"Before concluding I desire to make honourable, sincere and spontaneous amends to the Armenians, at least as regards their attitude in the ranks of the Ottoman Army. This is certainly not due to the protestations which they have inserted in the Constantinople Press by the power of gold." [This is a curious admission by Pierre Loti; one of the stock cries of the Turkophiles is that the Turk is above "bakshish."] "No, I have many friends among Turkish officers; I have learned from them, and there can be no doubt, that my earlier information was exaggerated, and that, notwithstanding a good number of previous desertions, the Armenians placed under their orders conducted themselves with courage. Therefore, I am happy to be able to withdraw without arrière pensée what 1 have said on this subject, and I apologize."
Of all British games and sports Armenians in different parts of the British Empire, the Dutch Colonies and Persia have manifested a natural predilection for Rugby Football, in which physical courage comes into play more than in most other games. In recent Years the Armenian College of Calcutta won the Calcutta Schools' Cup three years in succession, which gave it the right to retain the trophy. I am glad to see in the March issue of Ararat that the Boy Scouts of the same college, under Scoutmaster Dr. G. D. Hope, have won the King's Flag, presented by His Majesty to the troop having the largest number of King's Scouts in India and Burmah.
15. I may here point out that---though it is stated in the admirable historical summary in the Blue-book (p. 649) that "the number of those who have emerged from hiding since the Russian occupation is extraordinarily small"---this number has been growing very considerably of late, as may be seen from Mr. Backhouse's telegram to the chairman of the Armenian Refugees (Lord Mayor's) Fund, dated Tiflis, November 27, 1916, published in the newspapers.
16. Compare an Armenian officer's evidence, Blue-book, p. 231, ". . . they laid the blame for this defeat upon the Armenians, though he could not tell why."
17. In an article on "The Armenian Massacres" in the April Contemporary Review, Mr. Lewis Einstein, ex-member of the staff of the United States Embassy in Constantinople, says: "Talaat attributed the disasters that befell the Turks at Sarikamish, in Azerbaijan and at Van, to the Armenian volunteers."
18. Le Sémaphore de Marseille, November 20, 1915.
19. I am indebted to my friend Mr. H. N. Mosditchian for the following account of an incident which throws some light on the ways of the Turk---
"The massacres of Sassoon in 1893-1894, first described at the time by Dr. Dillon in The Daily Telegraph, and the first of the series that drenched Armenia with the blood of over 200,000 of her sons and daughters, raised such a cry of horror and indignation throughout the civilised world that Great Britain, France and Russia, through their Embassies at Constantinople, prepared a Scheme of Reforms, known as the Scheme of the 11th of May 1895, and after much difficulty and long negotiations obtained thereto the approval of Abd-ul-Hamid, 'the Red Sultan.'
"I was with the Patriarch when the Hon. M. H. Herbert, Secretary to the British Embassy, brought to the Patriarchate the good tidings of the Sultan's acceptance of the Scheme. Upon his special advice, the Patriarch sent there and then telegraphic instructions to all the Armenian Bishoprics in the provinces to chant Te Deums in the churches and to offer up prayers for the benign and magnanimous Padishah!
"I was again with the Patriarch a day or two after when telegrams began to pour in from the provinces announcing a fresh outbreak of massacres throughout the country. I hastened to the Embassies of the Six Great Powers to give them the appalling news and to ask for their immediate assistance. As is well known, they did or could do nothing, and the massacres went on, unchecked and unbridled, assuming every day larger dimensions and a better organised thoroughness . . . ...
I called on Judge Terrell, the American Ambassador, also. "I am not at all surprised," said he, "at these fresh massacres. I knew they would be coming, so much so that the moment I heard that the Sultan was about to affix his signature to the Scheme of Reforms, I hastened to the Grand Vezir and insisted upon his sending telegraphic orders to all the Valis to take good care that no American subject was hurt. The Grand Vezir protested of course that there was no necessity for such orders inasmuch as peace and security reigned supreme in all the Vilayets, but I told him that I knew what was going to happen shortly as well as he did, and refused to leave until he had despatched the telegrams in my presence." Judge Terrell then told me that it had long been known to him that the Valis of all the Vilayets had received standing orders from the Sultan to massacre the Armenians (a) whenever they should discover any revolutionary movement among them, (b) whenever they should hear of a British, French or Russian invasion of Turkish territory, and (c) whenever they should hear that the Sultan had agreed to and signed a Scheme of Reforms.
20. Visitors to the San Francisco Exhibition will have seen and admired the work of the Armenian sculptor Haik Partigian, whose exhibits, I am told by one who saw them, were among the best, if not the best, of all the exhibits in the Sculpture Section. Russia's great marine painter Aivazovsky was an Armenian. The recently instituted Society of Armenian Artists is holding its first exhibition in Tiflis at the time of writing.
21. It was reported in the Tiflis papers, after the above was written, that Mr. Mantashian, the Baku oil king, has made a further donation of £60,000 for agricultural improvements, and offered thirty thoroughbreds to improve the breed of horses in Armenia.
22. Some of the most distressing and disgraceful cases of Turkish bestiality appeared in Doctor (Major) Aspland's report on the hospital at Van, which was under his charge as representative of the Lord Mayor's Armenian Relief Fund. Describing some of the individual cases brought to him for treatment, Dr. Aspland says---
"Here is a young woman leaving hospital to-day, who was raped by eight Kurds. She has suffered for months, and even now, in spite of operations, will be crippled for the rest of her life. Here is a small girl aged five, similarly treated by Turks, and is now lying in plaster of Paris in order to recover from injury to the hip joint."---(Ararat, October 1916, p. 172.)
23. Compare this with the diary of a Turkish officer, reported in the Russkaia Viedomosti (p. 75).
24. Mr. Vartkes was an Armenian deputy in the Ottoman Parliament, who was murdered, together with another deputy, Mr. Zollrab, when he was being escorted by gendarmes from Aleppo to be court-martialled at Diyarbekir ,(see Documents 7 and 9).---EDITOR.
25. Our Responsibilities for Turkey, by the Duke of Argyll, K.G., K.T., John Murray, 1896, p. 72.
26. The supersession of Article 16 of the Treaty of San Stefano by Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin.
27. Town Topics of February 10, 1917, had the following: "The idiotic and ignorant criticism of the Navy one hears occasionally, recalls an immortal answer by a harassed First Lord, during an earlier Armenian atrocity (1895-96)---
" 'Will the right honourable gentleman tell the House definitely whether it is proposed to send a British battleship to Armenia?' asked the bore who worried about every country but his own.
" 'It is not proposed to send any ships there,' replied the Minister gravely. 'Navigation, I am informed by expert advisers at the Admiralty, has not been good in the vicinity of Ararat since the cruise of the Ark.' "
Would to God that this intelligence had reached the Foreign Offices of Europe twenty years earlier, before the signing of the Treaty of Berlin.
28. The Cyprus Convention.
29. A friend of mine, a Turkish Armenian well acquainted with local conditions, told me that £50,000,000 would be a conservative estimate of the material loss of the 1,200,000 massacred, deported, enslaved, but in all cases despoiled, Armenians.
30. M. J. de Morgan says in an article in La Revue de Paris (May 1, 1916): "Les Arméniens sont des Orientaux par leur habitat seulement mais des Européens par leurs origines, leur parler, leur religion, leurs murs et leurs aptitudes."
31. The Retch, the organ of the Constitutional Democrats in Russia, has published the following in its issue of July 28, 1916 (O.S.)
"The scheme of settling Russian emigrants in the occupied parts of Turkish Armenia, recently discussed in the Duma, is being energetically carried out. This matter has been the subject of a lively discussion between the Emigration and Military authorities. Investigations are in progress, not only in the districts near the frontier, but also further afield, the fertile Mush valley being the object of special attention. Agricultural battalions have been in course of organization since last autumn and already number 5000 men. More will be found presently. Armenians and Georgians are excluded. The task of these young arms is to cultivate the fields on which investigations have been carried out, under the supervision of agricultural experts, in order to facilitate the provisioning of the army. The question of emigrating the families of these men is also under consideration.
"Side by side with this scheme there exists another scheme of settling Cossacks in Turkish Armenia, on similar lines to what has already been done in Northern Caucasus with good results. Those who have conceived these schemes have in view the creation of a sufficiently broad zone inhabited by Russians, separating the Russian Armenians from the Turkish Armenians.
"Armenian refugees are gradually returning to their country and resuming the work of cultivating their lands. They usually settle in the villages that have suffered least, their own villages having been totally ruined.
"To avoid confusion, the Grand Duke Nicholas issued a Ukase in March last. warning these returned refugees to keep themselves in readiness to vacate these districts on the establishment of Russian Civil Administration. In the same Ukase the Commander-in-Chief of the Caucasian Army has decreed that the vacant lands in the plains of Alashkert, Diadin and Bayazid may be given in hire up to the time of the return of their rightful owners. General Yudenitch has issued orders, however, prohibiting the settlement in these places of any other immigrants except Russians and Cossacks. Only those natives are permitted to return who are able to prove ownership of land or property by legal documents. This arrangement makes it impossible for the natives (Armenians) to return to their homes because it is ridiculous to speak of title-deeds, when dealing with land in Turkey; and as for other documents which prove ownership, these always get lost during flight.
"In the above three plains, also in parts of the plain of Bassain, the surviving native inhabitants are debarred from returning to their homes and resuming their peaceful occupations."
32. The Times, April 19, 1917.
33. By a curious irony of events, at the time these lines were written by the great English statesman, Egypt was governed by an Armenian Prime Minister, Nubar Pasha, while the victorious Russian Army in the Caucasus was under the command of the Armenian General Loris Melikoff, the victor of Kars, who later became Minister of the Interior and one of the most trusted advisers of the Czar Liberator. It is interesting to note that Egypt had an Armenian Prime Minister during the reign of the Khalif Al-Mustansir (1036-94) by the name of Badr-el-Gamali (probably a variation of Bedros Gamalian), "who governed wisely and well for twenty years (1073-94)."---See ADRIAN FORTESCUE: The Lesser Eastern Churches, p. 237.
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