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James Bryce

THE TREATMENT OF ARMENIANS IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE

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[page 285]

VIII. VILAYET OF TREBIZOND, AND SANDJAK OF SHABIN KARA-HISSAR.

The Vilayet of Trebizond lies between Erzeroum and the Black Sea, and consists of a long, narrow littoral, shut off from its hinterland by a wall of mountains on the south. The town of Shabin Kara-Hissar is situated about seventy miles west of Baibourt, near the upper course of the Kelkid Irmak.

The population of this region is very mixed. The substratum is Lazic (a Caucasian race) and Greek ; but advanced guards of the Kurdish migration have penetrated into the mountains overlooking the coast, while the towns and ports have been occupied, since the Ottoman conquest in the fifteenth century, by large colonies of Armenians and Turks, who lived there peaceably side by side for four centuries—until June, 1915.

The deportations began in the last week of that month. Their nominal destination was the same as that of the convoys from the Vilayet of Erzeroum, but in this case there seems never to have been any intention of conducting the Armenians alive to their journey's end. At Trebizond, a number of them were herded on to boats and drowned in the open sea. Such convoys as started by land were massacred within a day's journey of the city, and their fate was shared by the convoys from Kerasond. The Armenians of Shabin Kara-Hissar took warning, and resisted the Government's decree. Troops were sent against them, and every Armenian in the town and district was put to the sword,

[page 286] TREBIZOND.

72. TREBIZOND : REPORT PROM A FOREIGN RESIDENT AT TREBIZOND, COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.

Passages included between brackets are inserted from the version of the same document published in the brochure " Quelques Documents sur le Sort des Armeniens, 1915 " (Geneva, 1915).

On Saturday, the 26th June, the proclamation regarding the deportation of all Armenians was posted in the streets. On Thursday, the 1st July, all the streets were guarded by gendarmes with fixed bayonets, and the work of driving the Armenians from their homes began. Groups of men, women and children, with loads and bundles on their backs, were collected in a short cross-street near my residence, and when a hundred or so had been gathered, they were driven past my residence on the road toward ------, in the heat and dust, by gendarmes with fixed bayonets. They were held outside the city until a group of about 2,000 had been collected, and then sent on. Three such groups, making about 6,000 altogether, were sent from here during the first three days ; and smaller groups from------and the vicinity, sent later, amounted to about 4,000 more.

The weeping and wailing of the women and children was most heart-rending. Some of these people were from wealthy and refined circles. Some were accustomed to luxury and ease. There were clergymen, merchants, bankers, lawyers, mechanics, tailors, and men from every walk of fife. The Governor-General told me that they were allowed to make arrangements for carriages, but nobody seemed to be making any arrangements. I know of one wealthy merchant, however, who paid £15 Turkish (about £13 10s. sterling) for a carriage to take himself and wife to ------, and when he arrived at the station where they were being collected, at------, about ten minutes' distance from the city, they were commanded by the gendarmes to leave the carriage, which was sent back to the city.

The whole Mohammedan population knew that these people were to be their prey from the beginning, and they were treated as criminals. In the first place, from the date of the proclamation, the 25th June, no Armenian was allowed to sell anything, and everybody was forbidden, under penalty, to buy anything from them. How, then, were they to provide funds for the journey ? For six or eight months there has been no business whatever in Trebizond, and people have been eating up their capital. Why should they have been prohibited from selling rugs or anything they had to sell, to secure the needed money for the journey ? Many persons who had goods which they could have sold if they had been allowed to do so, were obliged to start off on foot without funds and with what they could gather up from their homes and carry on their backs. Such persons natur-

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[page 287] FOREIGN RESIDENT.

ally soon became so weak that they fell behind and were bayoneted and thrown into the river, and their bodies floated down past Trebizond to the sea, or lodged in the shallow river on rocks, where they remained for ten or twelve days and putrefied, to the disgust of travellers who were obliged to pass that way. I have talked with eye-witnesses, who state that there were many naked bodies to be seen on snags in the river fifteen days after the affair occurred, and that the smell was something terrible.

On the 17th July, while I was out on a ride with a German resident, we came across three Turks digging a grave in the sand for a naked body which we saw in the river near by. The corpse looked as though it had been in the water for ten days or more. The Turks said they had just buried four more further up the river. Another Turk told us that a body had floated down the river and out into the sea a few moments before we arrived.

By the 6th July (Tuesday) all the Armenian houses in Trebizond, about 1,000, had been emptied of their inhabitants and the people sent off. There was no inquiry as to who were guilty or who were innocent of any movement against the Government. If a person was an Armenian, that was sufficient reason for his being treated as a criminal and deported. At first all were to go except the sick, who were taken to the municipal hospital until they were well enough to go. Later, an exception was made for old men and women, pregnant women, children, those in Government employment and members of the Roman Catholic Church. Finally it was decided that the old men and women and the Catholics must go too, and they were sent along towards the last. A number of fighters have been loaded with people at different times and sent off towards <Samsoun>. It is generally believed that such persons were drowned. During the early days, before the deportation commenced, a large caique or lighter was loaded with men supposed to be members of the Armenian Committee, and sent off towards <Samsoun>. Two days later, <a certain Vartan,> a Russian subject, who had been one of those who started in the boat, returned overland to Trebizond, badly wounded about the head and so crazy that he could not make himself understood. All he could say was " Boom, boom." He was arrested by the authorities and taken to the municipal hospital, where he died the following day. A Turk said that this boat was met not far from Trebizond by another boat containing gendarmes, who proceeded to kill all the men and throw them overboard. They thought they had killed them all, but this Russian, who was big and powerful, was only wounded and swam ashore unnoticed. A number of such caiques have left Trebizond loaded with men, and usually they return empty after a few hours.

Totz, a village about two hours from Trebizond, is inhabited by Gregorian and Catholic Armenians and Turks. Here, according to a reliable witness, a wealthy and influential Armenian.

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[page 288] TREBIZOND.

<Boghos Marimian,> and his two sons were placed one behind the other and shot through. Forty-five men and women were taken a short distance from the village into a valley. <The wife and daughters of an Armenian named Artes> * were first outraged by the officers of the gendarmerie, and then turned over to the gendarmes to dispose of. According to this witness, a child was killed by beating its brains out on a rock. The men were all killed, and not a single person survived from this batch of forty-five.

The plan to save the children by placing them in schools or orphanages in Trebizond, under the care of a committee organized and supported by the Greek Archbishop, of which the Vali was president and the Archbishop vice-president, with three Mohammedan and three Christian members, has been abandoned, and the girls are now being given exclusively to Mohammedan families and thus scattered†. The suppression of the orphanages and the scattering of the children was a great disappointment to us and to the Greek Archbishop, who had worked hard for the plan and secured the support of the Vali ; but <Nail Bey,> the local head of the Committee of Union and Progress, who was opposed to the plan, succeeded in thwarting it very quickly. Many of the boys appear to have been sent to------, to be distributed among the farmers. The best looking of the older girls, who were retained as caretakers in these orphanages, are kept in houses for the pleasure of members of the gang which seems to rule affairs here. I hear on good authority that a member of the Committee of Union and Progress here has ten of the handsomest girls in a house in the central part of the city, for the use of himself and his friends. Some of the younger girls have been taken into respectable Mohammedan houses. Several of the former pupils of the American Mission are now in Mohammedan homes near the Mission, and have not been visited by <Nail Bey,> but of course the majority of them are not so fortunate.

The 1,000 Armenian houses are being emptied of furniture by the police one after the other. The furniture, bedding and everything of value is being stored in large buildings about the city. There is no attempt at classification, and the idea of keeping the property in "bales under the protection of the Government, to be returned to the owners on their return," is simply ridiculous. The goods are piled in without any attempt at labelling or

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* " The women."—American version.
The origination of this plan is recorded in an earlier {undated) report from the same hand, from which the following sentences are a quotation :—
" The children attending the American school conducted by--------------, also those children left with them by persons being deported, have all been taken and placed in a school organised by a local committee, of which the Vali is president and the Greek Metropolitan vice-president. Into this school all the Armenian children, females up to fifteen years and males to ten years of age, are being placed as soon as the parents are sent off. Children above these ages go with their parents."

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[page 289] FOREIGN RESIDENT.

systematic storage. A crowd of Turkish women and children follow the police about like a lot of vultures, and seize anything they can lay their hands on, and when the more valuable things are carried out of a house by the police, they rush in and take the balance. I see this performance every day with my own eyes. I suppose it will take several weeks to empty all the houses, and then the Armenian shops and stores will be cleared out. The commission which has this matter in hand is now talking of selling this great collection of household goods and properties, in order to pay the debts of the Armenians. The German Consul told me that he did not believe the Armenians would be permitted to return to Trebizond, even after the end of the war.

<Arab merchants, under British protection, were included in the deportation, as well as all Armenians with Russian, Persian or Bulgarian passports. Ovhannes Arabian, the Dragoman of the British Consulate, could take nothing with him but the clothes he stood in.>

I have just been talking with a young man who has been performing his military service on the " inshaat tabouri " (construction regiment), working on the roads out toward Gumush-khané. He told me that 15 days ago all the Armenians, about 180, were separated from the other workmen, marched off some distance from the camp and shot. He heard the report of the rifles and later was one of the number sent to bury the bodies, which he stated were all naked, having been stripped of clothing.

A number of bodies of women and children have lately been thrown up by the sea upon the sandy beach below the walls of the Italian Monastery here in Trebizond, and were buried by Greek women in the sand where they were found.

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[page 290] TREBIZOND.

73. TREBIZOND : EXTRACTS FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH COMM. G. GORRINI, LATE ITALIAN CONSUL-GENERAL AT TREBIZOND*, PUBLISHED IN THE JOURNAL "IL MESSAGGERO," OF ROME, 25th AUGUST, 1915.

For over four years I was Consul-General at Trebizond, with jurisdiction over practically the whole Black Sea littoral, from the Russo-Turkish frontier to the neighbourhood of Constantinople, and over five provinces in the interior of Asia Minor (Eastern Anatolia, Armenia and Kurdistan)—districts chiefly inhabited by Turks, Armenians and Kurds, with a considerable sprinkling of Persians, Russians, Greeks and Arabs. For the last ten months, moreover, I had also been responsible for the protection of the very numerous Russian subjects and Russian interests, as well as the Greek and Montenegrin, and also, to some extent, the French, the English, and the American, with others of minor account. . . .

As for the present internal condition of the Ottoman Empire, I can only answer for my own district. In my district the present condition of things is almost desperate. The population is showing true Moslem resignation in the way it is bearing the existing situation—the ruin and desolation of individuals and community, the holocaust of all and everything for a war which no one desired, but which was forced upon them by Enver Pasha, and which will lead to the ruin and dismemberment of all that still remains of the Ottoman Empire. But the Moslem and Christian populations can do nothing more—they have reached the extreme limit of their effort. The oxygen is being administered by the Germans, who are trying to prolong the agony of the dying Empire, but will not be able to perform the miracle of restoring life to a corpse. Apart from a few lunatics, a speedy peace, even if it involves the foreign occupation of Ottoman territory, is the prayer of all. There is no courage for a rebellion. The Germans and the " Committee of Union and Progress " are hated and detested by all, but only in the intimacy of the heart and in confidential conversation, for the Germans and the Committee constitute the one genuine, solid organisation at present existing in Turkey—a masterly and most rigorous organisation, which does not hesitate to use any weapon whatever ; an organisation of audacity, of terror, and of mysterious, ferocious revenge. . . .

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* Signor Gorrini left Trebizond on the 23rd July, 1915, in the interval between the Italian declarations of war against Austria-Hungary and against Turkey. He hired an open motor-launch with a Lazic skipper and crew, and took with him two servants and the Montenegrin Kavass of the ocal branch of the Ottoman Bank. The coastwise voyage from Trebizond to Constantinople took seven days and nights. They touched at Kerasond, Samsoun, Sinope, Ineboli, Kidros, Zonguldak, Zacharia, Chilé and Faro d'Anatolia, without landing, however, at any of these places. From Constantinople Signor Gorrini travelled via Dedeagatch and Palermo to Rome, where he gave this interview to the representative of " Il Messaggero. "

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[page 291] ITALIAN CONSUL-GENERAL.

As for the Armenians, they were treated differently in the different vilayets. They were suspect and spied upon everywhere, but they suffered a real extermination, worse than massacre, in the so-called " Armenian Vilayets." There are seven of these, and five of them (including the most important and most thickly populated) unhappily for me formed part of my own Consular jurisdiction. These were the Vilayets of Trebizond, Erzeroum, Van, Bitlis and Sivas.

In my district, from the 24th June onwards, the Armenians were all " interned "—that is, ejected by force from their various residences and despatched under the guard of the gendarmerie to distant, unknown destinations, which for a few will mean the interior of Mesopotamia, but for four-fifths of them has meant already a death accompanied by unheard-of cruelties.

The official proclamation of internment came from Constantinople. It is the work of the Central Government and the " Committee of Union and Progress." The local authorities, and indeed the Moslem population in general, tried to resist, to mitigate it, to make omissions, to hush it up. But the orders of the Central Government were categorically confirmed, and all were compelled to resign themselves and obey.

The Consular Body intervened, and attempted to save at least the women and children. We did, in fact, secure numerous exemptions, but these were not subsequently respected, owing to the interference of the local branch of the " Union and Progress Committee " and to fresh orders from Constantinople.

It was a real extermination and slaughter of the innocents, an unheard-of thing, a black page stained with the flagrant violation of the most sacred rights of humanity, of Christianity, of nationality. The Armenian Catholics, too, who in the past had always been respected and excepted from the massacres and persecutions, were this time treated worse than any—again by the orders of the Central Government. There were about 14,000 Armenians at Trebizond—Gregorians, Catholics, and Protestants. They had never caused disorders or given occasion for collective measures of police. When I left Trebizond, not a hundred of them remained.

From the 24th June, the date of the publication of the infamous decree, until the 23rd July, the date of my own departure from Trebizond, I no longer slept or ate ; I was given over to nerves and nausea, so terrible was the torment of having to look on at the wholesale execution of these defenceless, innocent creatures.

The passing of the gangs of Armenian exiles beneath the windows and before the door of the Consulate ; their prayers for help, when neither I nor any other could do anything to answer them ; the city in a state of siege, guarded at every point by 15,000 troops in complete war equipment, by thousands of police agents, by bands of volunteers and by the members of the " Committee of Union and Progress " ; the lamentations, the

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[page 292] TREBIZOND. ITALIAN CONSUL-GENERAL.

tears, the abandonments, the imprecations, the many suicides, the instantaneous deaths from sheer terror, the sudden unhingeing of men's reason, the conflagrations, the shooting of victims in the city, the ruthless searches through the houses and in the countryside ; the hundreds of corpses found every day along the exile road ; the young women converted by force to Islam or exiled like the rest ; the children torn away from their families or from the Christian schools, and handed over by force to Moslem families, or else placed by hundreds on board ship in nothing but their shirts, and then capsized and drowned in the Black Sea and the River Devirmen Deré—these are my last ineffaceable memories of Trebizond, memories which still, at a month's distance, torment my soul and almost drive me frantic. When one has had to look on for a whole month at such horrors, at such protracted tortures, with absolutely no power of acting as one longed to act, the question naturally and spontaneously suggests itself, whether all the cannibals and all the wild beasts in the world have not left their hiding places and retreats, left the virgin forests of Africa, Asia, America and Oceania, to make their rendezvous at Stamboul. I should prefer to close our interview at this point, with the solemn asseveration that this black page in Turkey's history calls for the most uncompromising reproach and for the vengeance of all Christendom. If they knew all the things that I know, all that I have had to see with my eyes and hear with my ears, all Christian powers that are still neutral would be impelled to rise up against Turkey and cry anathema against her inhuman Government and her ferocious " Committee of Union and Progress," and they would extend the responsibility to Turkey's Allies, who tolerate or even shield with their strong arm these execrable crimes, which have not their equal in history, either modern or ancient. Shame, horror and disgrace !

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[page 293] TREBIZOND. KAVASS OF THE ITALIAN CONSULATE.

74. TREBIZOND : NARRATIVE OF THE MONTENEGRIN KAVASS OF THE LOCAL BRANCH OF THE OTTOMAN BANK, PUBLISHED IN THE ARMENIAN JOURNAL " AREV " OF ALEXANDRIA, 2nd OCTOBER, 1915.

The Kavass of the Local Branch of the Ottoman Bank at Trebizond, a Montenegrin, who left Trebizond in Signor Gorrini's company* and is at the present moment in Cairo, has made the following statement to Mr. Malezian, Secretary of the General Armenian Union of Benevolence :—

" The very evening of the day on which the order arrived from Constantinople, they threw into the sea about forty of the intellectuals and the members of political parties, saying to them : ' You are to be sent into exile by the sea route.'

" At the present moment there is not a single Armenian left at Trebizond except two employees of the Ottoman Bank, who will also be deported as soon as other persons arrive from Constantinople to take their place.

" Children have been converted to Islam and handed over to Mohammedan families. Those who cry and do not keep quiet have their throats cut.

" After the Armenians had gone, their houses were confiscated.

" The whole thing was organized by the members of the Committee of Union and Progress.

" The exiles were not allowed to take with them either money or clothes or provisions. Five hundred Armenian soldiers were disarmed, and then deported and massacred on the road. As for the other exiles, they must have been massacred without exception, for the news received from Djevizlik (a village six hours from Trebizond, on the one and only road leading to Gumushkhané) makes it certain that the exiles were seen passing that place in batches, while beyond Djevizlik no one has seen them pass. At the same time, the river Yel-Deyirmeni brought down every day to the sea a number of corpses, mutilated and absolutely naked, the women with their breasts cut off."

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* " I hired the motor launch for myself and three members of my household, one of them a Montenegrin kavass who was under our protection."— The Italian Consul, Signor Gorrini, in the interview published in the Rome journal " Il Messaggero," 25th August, 1915.

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[page 294] KERASOND, TREBlZOND AND SHABIN KARA-HISSAR.

75. KERASOND (KIRESOUN), TREBIZOND AND SHABIN KARA-HISSAR : EVIDENCE COLLECTED BY AN ARMENIAN GENTLEMAN FROM EYE-WITNESSES NOW IN ROUMANIA ; COMMUNICATED BY THE CORRESPONDENT OF THE LONDON " TIMES " AT BUKAREST.

Kerasond.—Much has been written lately about the Armenian massacres in Turkey, but it is only now that we are receiving more precise and detailed information, from eyewitnesses who, by some means or other, have escaped the scene of the most horrible atrocities ever known in this world.

The atrocities of Kerasond are described by a prominent Greek of that town, who succeeded in obtaining a passage on board a Greek ship bound for Roumania with a cargo of nuts. On her voyage across the Black Sea, this ship was met by two Russian torpedo boats, which took on board the crew and this gentleman among them, sank the ship, transported the crew to Sevastopol, and there set them free. This gentleman had been an eye-witness of all that happened in Kerasond, and he describes the atrocities as follows :—

"It is impossible to express in words the humiliations and atrocities that the Armenians of Kerasond have had to undergo. One morning the Government announced, through the public crier, that every male Armenian, old or young, must immediately go to the Government Building, where an important communication was to be made to them. Those who neglected to comply with this order were threatened with imprisonment. The Armenians obeyed, as there was no alternative in a town where they were in minority ; but as soon as they had arrived at the Government Building, they were surrounded by hundreds of gendarmes and driven straight to prison. At mid-day their families, seeing that nobody returned, collected together and went in a body to the Government Building. They demanded that; their husbands should be set free. The gendarmes replied with the bayonet, and dispersed the crowd, while those who still insisted in their protest were sent to join their husbands in prison. That night was passed by the poor Armenians in the prison, while all night long their families mourned and wept. I visited several Armenian neighbours and tried to calm them, but they were all convinced that they would never see their people again, as they had guessed latterly, from the attitude of the Turks, that some plot was being prepared against them. Next morning the prisoners were told that they were to be exiled to Kara-Hissar (a town inland from Kerasond) and that they were only to take with them provisions for five days. Their wives were notified of this, and in the afternoon, under the escort of hundreds of gendarmes, they were marched out of the prison on to the road leading to Kara-Hissar, and divided up into several separate batches. Several days passed, and then a few telegrams reached various families, signed by their husbands or brothers

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[page 295] REFUGEES IN ROUMANIA.

and announcing that they had arrived in safety at Kara-Hissar. But unfortunately these telegrams were merely forged by the Government in order to calm down those left behind, who had not yet ceased to demand the return of their dear ones. Their true fate was very different. A fortnight later, I met a friend who told me that he had given protection to a young Armenian who had escaped from the party of Armenians that were sent to Kara-Hissar, and that this young man gave horrible descriptions of their experiences. I went to see this young man at my friend's house. He was an honest business man in the town, so that I do not question for a moment the honesty of his declaration in the present case, which he made to the following effect :—

" Our party consisted of 350 men, mostly young fellows. The next day after our departure from Kerasond, we reached a spot on the banks of the River Kara Su. It was lunch time, and the gendarmes ordered us to stop and eat. We had just begun to do so when guns were fired on us from all sides, and I saw many fall dead. I was wounded myself in the arm and collapsed on my side from the pain. The firing continued, and I fainted. I only recovered consciousness to find myself in the river with hundreds of dead bodies floating round me. My wound did not prevent me from swimming, so that I struggled out of the river, and at night-fall walked back to the town. I was afraid to go to my family, so I asked shelter of my friend here ; but as my prolonged presence may bring him harm, I am going home to-night."

In fact, the Government had announced that any Turk or Greek giving protection to an Armenian would be punished with death. So that night the young man went to his house ; but he was soon found out, and under the pretext of sending him to hospital for his wound they took him away and he has never been heard of since.

This was the end of the male population. The women were dealt with in the same fashion. They were likewise herded by force into the prison, and marched under escort in batches along the same road leading to Kara-Hissar. They were not massacred, but treated with extreme brutality and forced to walk for long hours, so that many died of exhaustion, and many others committed suicide by throwing themselves into the river with their children in their arms. Some went mad through inability to endure the brutalities and humiliations inflicted on them by the gendarmes and by the Turkish villagers they met on the way. The small children under three years of age were allowed to be carried along by their mothers, but the children between the ages of three and fifteen, both girls and boys, were all distributed among Mohammedan families, with instructions to convert them to Islam. The Armenians' houses were sealed with the Government's seal, but it is clear that they were first stripped of their furniture and placed at the disposal of Turkish immigrants.

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[page 296] KERASOND, TREBIZOND AND SHABIN KARA-HISSAR.

This is the tragic history of the extermination of the 3,000 Armenians of Kerasond.

One old Armenian only escaped death by embracing the Mohammedan religion ; but that only served to save his own life, as his son and wife were sent off with the rest.

Kara-Hissar is a town three days inland from Kerasond, Kerasond being its port. The Armenian population of this city, guessing the intentions of the Turks, took up their arms and fled into the mountains surrounding the town. The gendarmes and soldiers sent in their pursuit had several encounters with them, but they failed every time to drive them out of their mountain positions. In my opinion their positions are good and can resist attacks, but their supply of food may soon come to an end, and in their isolation they may starve, if no help reaches them*,

Trebizond.—During the last massacres (1896) Trebizond suffered the most, and this time also it has been the scene of the most fiendish atrocities. These are described : by a young Armenian girl who was an eye-witness of them. She was saved through the protection of the late Italian Consul at Trebizond, who was allowed to leave in a motor boat for Constantinople†, whence he went to Italy and sent this girl to some relatives of hers in Roumania. She gives the following account of her experiences :—

" In the morning my father, a Russian subject, was summoned by a gendarme and taken away to the Government Building. A few hours passed, and my mother went to find out what had happened to him. She did not return either, and, being thus left alone in the house, I went to our neighbour, the Italian Consul, and asked for his protection. He immediately disgursed me as a servant girl in the Consulate. Every day I used to see hundreds of Armenians, men and women in separate batches, passing our house under escort—mothers carrying their children on one arm and a package of provisions on the other. That was all they were allowed to take. The Kavass of the Consulate used to come in every day and report to the Consul all that was going on in the town. Business was at a standstill, all the shops were closed, and you met nothing in the streets but Armenians escorted by gendarmes. Many young girls were forced to marry Mohammedans. All the children were collected and distributed to Turkish families to be brought up as Mohammedans. Several leading Armenians committed suicide by throwing themselves down from the windows of their houses. All the Armenians who were Russian subjects (there were forty-five of them) were

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* This was written before it was known that the Armenians of Kara-Hissar had been overwhelmed by force and massacred to the last woman and child, with their bishop at their head.—EDITOR.
† " I hired the motor launch for myself and three members of my household".—Signor Gorrini in the Rome journal " II Messaggero," 25th August, 1915.

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[page 297] REFUGEES IN ROUMANIA.

put on board a sailing ship bound for Kerasond, but on the way they were thrown into the sea and shot at by the gendarmes sent with them. This we verified later on, when the Consul was allowed to leave Trebizond in a motor boat, in which I accompanied him as servant girl. On the way a sailor on the launch, in answer to a question from the Consul, said that he had refused to take those forty-five Russian subjects in his sailing boat because he knew what fate was marked out for them on the way ; and, in fact, when we arrived at Kerasond, we discovered that not only had those forty-five people never arrived (though they were put on board the boat under the pretext that they were to be exiled to the districts inland from Kerasond), but that not a single Armenian was left in the town itself. We were told the same thing all along the coast—at Tireboli, Ordou, Samsoun, Ineboli, etc.* The wife of the late Secretary of the British Consulate at Trebizond (himself a British subject) was forced to marry a Turk; the rest of the family—the Secretary, his brothers, his uncles, etc., who were all British subjects too—were exiled to the interior of the country, and nothing has been heard of them since. Many women have offered to become Mohammedans but have been refused. Only one family in Tireboli, called A., obtained leave to remain by turning Mohammedan."

This is confirmed by a telegram received lately by a gentleman in Constantinople, who has business connections with the family in question. The telegram was signed " A. Zadé Mehmed Sirry."

The plan of the Government has been the same everywhere —to convert the children to Islam, and to march the male and female population under escort into the interior of the country, until the last of them has dropped dead with exhaustion. As to their houses, the furniture was distributed among the officers and soldiers. Pianos, side-boards, and other objects too luxurious for soldiers' houses were sold by auction, where the best buyers, in many districts, were Jews, who considered the price of 50 piastres too high for a piano, and tried to buy them at 10-15 piastres. The houses thus emptied were given over to Turkish immigrants or paupers. The copper kitchen utensils, and, in fact, everything made of copper, were carefully packed, and sent, by different means, to Constantinople, where the Germans were anxiously waiting for them as their share of the plunder.

It is only in Constantinople and Smyrna that the Armenians have not been exiled ; but that does not mean that they there escape their share of the general misfortune. Most of the leading Armenians there, including doctors, deputies, wholesale merchants, journalists, etc., were exiled to the interior, and nothing has

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* " Of the 200 Armenian families at Ordou, 160 have embraced Islam, under pressure of threats and violence. Of the 400 Armenian families at Kerasond, 200 have embraced Islam to escape persecution ; the rest have been deported."—New York Journal " Gotchnag," 28th August, 1915.

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[page 298] Kerasond, Trebizond and Shabin Kara-Hissar. Refugees in Roumania.

been heard of them since. The requisitioning officer takes away anything he finds in an Armenian shop, and many have thus been reduced to closing their shops, having nothing left to sell. Only one man among those deported from Constantinople was brought back, having consented to become a Mohammedan. This is Mr. B. of the B. Bros. firm, the largest export and import business in Constantinople. He has been forced to pay £5,000 for the building of a Mosque in Kaisaria, to build a Turkish school in Constantinople, to wear a turban, and to pray seven times a day, as a proof of his sincere devotion to his new religion.

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[page 299] Trebizond and Erzeroum. " Times " Correspondent at Buhar est.

76. TREBIZOND AND ERZEROUM : DESPATCH FROM THE CORRESPONDENT OF THE LONDON " TIMES " AT BUKAREST, DATED BUKAREST, 18th MAY, AND PUBLISHED ON THE 22nd MAT, 1916.

Since the entry of the Russian troops into Trebizond it has become possible to lift the veil of mystery that has hitherto shrouded the fate of the Armenian population in this prosperous port. The troops on their arrival found all the Armenian houses plundered and for the most part in ruins. Doors, windows, shutters, and all woodwork had been carried away. There was no opposition on the part of the authorities.

The deportation of the Armenians, which began in June, was carried out here, as elsewhere, in accordance with instructions from Constantinople. The leading families were the first to suffer. Some 300* of these received the order to prepare for emigration and purchased a number of wagons for the transport of their property, but four days after their departure all the wagons were brought back to the town. The emigrants had been massacred and their property plundered.

Other groups, each of several hundred families, followed. This process went on for some time, but eventually new methods were adopted. The police entered the houses of the remaining Armenians, forcibly expelled them, drove them through the streets, and locked up the houses. The whole Armenian population of Trebizond, numbering some 10,000 souls, was thus exterminated. It is hoped, however, that some hundreds of persons may yet be found hidden in the villages in the neighbourhood.

At Erzeroum, where the Armenian population was considerably greater, being estimated at 35,000, practically the same programme was carried out. The proceedings, which began in the middle of May, were inaugurated by the arrest and imprisonment of 400 young Armenians.

Many families, after being expelled from their houses, were kept waiting for several days in the streets before being taken to their fate. At the entrance to the town the processions of exiles encountered tax-gatherers, who insisted on the payment of arrears of taxation, although the unfortunate people had left all their property behind them. Only a few artisans, who were required to work for the Army, were allowed to remain in the town. By the beginning of August the whole Armenian population had disappeared from Erzeroum. Only the Bishop remained. On the 6th August two police officers appeared at his house and communicated the order for departure. The Bishop had taken

* Including Muggerditch Zarmanian, a contractor employed by the Ottoman Army.—Information furnished to the writer by Armenian refugees in Roumania.

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[page 300] Trebizond and Erzeroum. " Times " Correspondent at Buhar est.

precautions to secure some horses for the transport of his effects, but these were now stolen. He tried to purchase others, but at the last moment he was informed that he was not allowed to take anything with him. He was then removed to an unknown destination.

German officers stationed in the town and the German Consul manifested open approval of these proceedings. Among the spoils which fell to the Turks were several Armenian girls, and a share in this living booty was conceded to the Germans.

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Contents   Cover   Map    Title page   Insert    Contents (as in the book)
Correspondence   Preface   Letters    Memorandum
Chapter I   II   III    IV    V   VI    VII   VIII   IX   X   XI    XII   XIII   XIV
XV   XVI   XVII   XVIII   XIX   XX
Summary   Annexe   Index of place   Message

Acknowledgements:

Source: Viscount Bryce The Treatment of Armenians.London, 1916
Scanned by: Irina Minasyan
OCR: Irina Minasyan
Corrections: Anna Vrtanesyan, Lina Kamalyan

See also:
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