THE TREATMENT OF ARMENIANS IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE
XIII. THRACE, CONSTANTINOPLE, BROUSSA, AND ISMID.
These districts are divided officially into the Vilayet of Adrianople, the Sandjak of Chataldja, the Vilayets of Constantinople and Broussa, and the Sandjak of Ismid, which contains the first section of the Anatolian Railway. Together they constitute the metropolitan area of the Ottoman Empire, and for many centuries this area had attracted a strong Armenian immigration, in spite of its remoteness from the original home of the Armenian race.
At Constantinople the number of the Armenians had risen to more than 150,000, and in wealth and importance they were becoming serious rivals of the Greeks. In Thrace they had established themselves not only at Adrianople but in all the lesser towns, and seemed likely to reap the benefit of the expulsion of the Greek and Bulgarian elements, which the Ottoman Government had been effecting systematically since the Balkan War. There was a flourishing colony of them at Broussa, the chief city on the Asiatic littoral of the Sea of Marmora, and there were not less than 25,000 of them at Adapazar, in the hinterland of Ismid. This metropolitan region had practically become the centre of gravity of Armenian commerce, and the organisation of the Gregorian Church in the Ottoman Empire was centralised here as well. The Armenian Patriarch had his residence at Constantinople, the administrative centre of the Ottoman Government, and there was a Gregorian Theological Seminary at Armasha, a country town in the vicinity of Ismid.
The Deportation Scheme had emanated from the Government at Constantinople, but the home provinces were among the last to which it was applied. The smaller towns of Thrace seem to have been cleared towards the beginning of August ; the clearance was more or less contemporaneous at Broussa and Ismid; the Seminary at Armasha was broken up by the wholesale exile of pupils and teachers, and the flourishing Armenian villages in the district shared the same fate ; at Constantinople, the Government compiled a register of Armenian inhabitants, singling out those who were immigrants from the provinces from those actually born in the city, and a considerable number of prominent people in the former class had been deported by the middle of August. However, the Government seems either never to have intended to apply the scheme to Constantinople in its full rigour, or at any rate to have yielded, in the course of applying it, to representations from authoritative quarters. The measure was never here made universal, while at Adrianople it seems hardly to have been put into practice at all until the 10th October, though it was executed then with particular stringency.
The Armenians deported from the metropolitan districts do not seem often to have been massacred on the road—there were no Kurdish tribes or " Chetti " bands at hand. They were despatched towards the Arabian desert along the Anatolian Railway, and this, rather than any clemency on the Government's part, accounts for the two months' grace that they received. The Armenians further down the line had been sent off in June and July, and the metropolitan districts had to wait until the consequent congestion had abated. The fate of all those deported by the railway is described in the documents contained in the section (XIV.) following this.
[page 390] METROPOLITAN DISTRICTS.
(a) Thrace : Survey of the situation*, published on the 28th August, 1915.
At Adrianople, all Armenian officials in any administrative, public or financial service have been dismissed by order of the Government. The Turkish soldiers transferred here from other districts are committing unheard-of atrocities. The Armenians are continually exposed to persecution. About fifty Armenians from the city have been imprisoned or exiled. The Armenians are forbidden to go abroad, or even to travel within the boundaries of the Province. The Armenians of Keshan have been exiled. The Armenian boatmen of Silivri have been imprisoned, on the charge of revictualling the English submarines.
The Armenian Church and Monastery at Dhimotika have been confiscated by the Government. They gave two weeks' grace to the Armenians of this locality in which to emigrate to other parts.
The Armenians of Malgara were also given two weeks' grace before their exile. Their houses are to be occupied by Turkish refugees from Serbia.
The Armenians of Tchorlu have been deported.
(b) Constantinople : Statement*, published on the 4th September, 1915.
In all the quarters of Constantinople they have begun to make a register of the Armenians, entering on separate lists those actually born in Armenia and those whose birthplace is Constantinople. It is thought that they are going to deport the immigrants from Armenia.
Six Armenian pupils of the Normal School of Ottoman Teachers at Constantinople have been poisoned during a meal. One of them—Khosrov, born at Van—has died ; the five others are under treatment in hospital. The Turkish press at Constantinople is beginning to prepare public opinion for the loss of Armenia. The Tanin and the Sabah, in particular, have devoted articles to the subject, preaching the idea that it is in Turkey's best interest to have a homogeneous population. In consequence, they argue, the Armenians must be eliminated as irreconcilable enemies.
(c) Constantinople and the neighbourhood : Statement* published on the 2nd October, 1915.
According to a despatch published in the American Press, the Armenians of the Pera quarter (of Constantinople) have taken flight. Nearly 4,000 Armenians from Constantinople have found asylum in Bulgaria. Recently there was a rumour that all the Armenians in the Scutari quarter were going to be deported. . Enver Pasha has confirmed these rumours, and added that, if he chooses, he can have all the Christians of Constantinople
* Source unspecified.
[page 391] INFORMATION IN " GOTCHNAG."
deported within a fortnight, and leave no one there but Turks and Germans. According to another rumour, the Armenians of Scutari and Ortakeui have already been deported. The villages on the upper Bosphorus have likewise been cleared of their Armenian inhabitants. We have been informed by letter that the Armenian girls who were being educated at the American school at Constantinople have been carried off by the Turks.
At Broussa they have converted all the rich Armenians to Islam ; the poor have been deported. Their children have been sold at 20 piastres each (3s. 4d.).
At Smyrna, several Armenians were recently hanged. The Austrian Consul on the spot requested the Austrian Ambassador at Constantinople to demand an explanation from the Turkish Government. He received the reply that the Armenians possess a Patriarchate, and ought to make any representations through this channel. " As for you, if you are our allies, you ought not to meddle in such questions."
[page 392] CONSTANTINOPLE.
Yon must by now have received my second letter. To-day I shall not be able to write you very much, for time is short and I am extremely depressed in spirit.
Besides, what would you have me write ? For ever it is calamities, miseries and sorrows.
The last news is that the Seminarists of Armasha have been sent to Constantinople and put under the charge of the Patriarchate. The whole congregation, with its Superior at its head, has been deported and the Convent has been confiscated ; the Superior has even been robbed of the £400 (Turkish) realised by the sale of the Convent's live stock and various other properties.
A month ago they began to deport the unmarried men from the provinces who had established themselves at Constantinople. So far they have deported from four to five thousand persons, and this without warning and without giving them time to put their affairs in order. The families of those deported to Ayash and Etchangeri† had been given notice to leave Constantinople, but afterwards this order was reconsidered. Is this the beginning of the deportation of the Armenian population of Constantinople, for which the Government has so far shown a certain consideration?
The majority of those who had been deported to Ayash and Etchangeri have been brought back to Angora ; at the present moment we have no news of them, and no news either of those who have remained at Ayash and Etchangeri. As I wrote to you in my last letter, they also have been assassinated. Indeed, a connection of the Prefect of Police actually said : " The Armenians are making demonstrations at Sofia, Roustchouk and other places, and are presenting protests. We have given them their answer by exterminating the prisoners at Ayash."
As for the deportations from Anatolia and Armenia, they are being continued systematically. The whole Armenian population of Konia and Angora is on the road, and is at present concentrated along the fine of the Baghdad Railway, in the last extremity of misery. They are being sent to Tarsus and Aleppo, to be forwarded in due course to the desert.
In consequence of certain diplomatic representations, the Government had given instructions not to deport the Catholic or Protestant Armenian families, or those whose bread-winners had been mobilised. But these instructions have been very speedily withdrawn, and are only followed in a small number of places.
* Date unspecified.
† Kiangri, Kingri.
[page 393] ARMENIAN INHABITANT.
The families of mobilised Armenian soldiers who had got as far as the course of the Railway, had received orders to wait, but we hear now that they have been subjected to brutal treatment. These women, who were concentrated at Eregli, beyond Konia, had made representations to the Government and claimed the restoration of their mobilised sons. The result of these representations is not yet known.
The situation of the exiles in Syria is lamentable. The despatch of relief is urgently required, in order at least to save the survivors. Let the Armenian colonists abroad come to their aid before it is too late. A halfpenny saves a life. Don't disdain to give this halfpenny.
[page 394] Adrianople. " Times " Correspondent at Bukarest.
I have received information in regard to the wholesale extirpation of the Armenian population of Adrianople.
On the 10th October the Turkish police arrested 45 Armenian inhabitants who had become Bulgarian subjects. The prisoners were transported to Constantinople, and thence to Asia Minor, with the exception of 10 who escaped and took refuge in the Bulgarian Legation at Pera. On the intervention of the Bulgarian Government these persons obtained liberty to return to Karagatch. In regard to the fate of the remaining 35 the Porte professes ignorance.
Shortly afterwards, all the Armenians in Adrianople—about 1,600 persons—were arrested, and the men immediately deported to Asia Minor. The women and children were detained two days in prison before removal, and were subjected to brutal treatment by their captors. Several were subsequently placed in sailing vessels for transportation to Asia Minor. Two of the vessels foundered off Rodosto and most of those on board were drowned. Some of the exiled families were sold at derisory prices, for the most part to Jews.
A deputation from Karagatch proceeded to Sofia to invoke the intervention of the Government, but have received no reply to their petition. A memorial previously addressed to the Bulgarian Government by another deputation gives a frightful picture of the sufferings of Armenian prisoners in Asia Minor at the hands of the Turkish authorities.
The document furnishes a list of 29 districts in which the whole Armenian population, numbering some 835,000 persons, have been either killed or exiled or forcibly converted to Islam. One ecclesiastic was burnt alive, five were hanged or otherwise killed, and ten were imprisoned.
[page 395] BROUSSA. REPORT FROM A FOREIGN VISITOR.
It was inevitable that the Armenians, whose deportation from Broussa and the environs had been ordered a few days before my arrival, should occupy some of my attention. It is doubtful whether the full significance of this measure can be realized without a visit to the interior, where the results may be seen in all their appalling details. Words are inadequate to describe the utter misery and destitution of these hordes of emigrants who are to-day roaming all over Asia Minor. The roads are crowded with thousands upon thousands of these unfortunate wretches, considering themselves lucky if they are able to procure —at the sacrifice of a small fortune—an ox-cart for their families and a few belongings ; many of them journeying on foot—men, women and children, tired, haggard, and half-starved —the pictures of want and desolation. Broussa was among the last of the more important cities to receive the order for the deportation of the Armenians, so that I had occasion to see the application of the measure from the very beginning. Thus I met the first contingents of the exiles between Broussa and Yeni-Shehr. The authorities had given them three days in which to clear out, with the result that they could not sell any of their property, even had there been buyers. All personal property, such as furniture, clothes, tools, etc., which they could not take with them, had to be left behind, and the Turks quite openly distributed them among themselves, often even in the presence of their owners ! As regards the houses evacuated by the Armenians, a little more red tape was gone through, but the effect was the same. The Armenian proprietor was called before a magistrate, made to sign a document that he had sold the house to a certain individual (of course always a Moslem), and was given a roll of banknotes. No sooner had he left the room than the money was taken from him by the police and returned to the magistrate, to be used in hundreds of similar cases !
I realised, of course, that I was quite powerless—even unofficially—to interfere with these proceedings. But there were certain other points which came to my knowledge and about which I did not hesitate to speak to the Vali—always quite informally only—as they seemed to me a useless and senseless aggravation in a situation which was already trying enough. In the first place, hundreds of Catholic and Protestant Armenians had been ordered away—many of them had even left—although, according to the decision of the Government, they had a right to remain. I obtained from the Vali the promise that in future these two denominations should not be disturbed, and that those who had " by mistake " been sent away should be called back. This was done, and during the next few weeks a number of Catholic and Protestant families returned. I then asked that those ordered
[page 396] BROUSSA.
to leave should be given at least a week, and in a few special cases even two weeks, in which to get ready. This enabled many families to make the most necessary preparations for the journey. A few casual remarks to the Vali about flogging and forcible conversions of women and girls to Mohammedanism seem to have put a stop also to these two outrages—at least, so I was informed at the American School, which was in close contact with everything going on in the Armenian community. I cannot but refer in this connection to the altogether admirable work done by the ladies of this institution in helping the unfortunate exiles in the most unselfish and efficient manner. But for their devotion and practical assistance, the sufferings of many families must needs have been much greater.
Unfortunately, the hardships of exile and privation are not the only dangers to which the Armenians are exposed. There can be no doubt that many of them—chiefly men—have been massacred in cold blood. Although no instances of this seem to have occurred during my stay in Broussa, I was informed by very trustworthy sources that, shortly before my arrival, about 170 of the most prominent Armenians from Broussa and neighbouring towns had been shot near Adranos, whither they had been exiled in June. I have all the more reason to credit this report because, when I made inquiries concerning two of the men, the brothers A., whose relatives live in America and who are insured with American companies, the Vali replied evasively, but finally said that he had heard that they escaped from custody and had disappeared !
However, even if no Armenians had been killed outright, the result would be the same, for the deportation as carried out at present is merely a polite form of massacre. Unless the whole movement be stopped at once, there is, I am firmly convinced, not the slightest chance of any of the exiles surviving this coming winter, except possibly the very wealthiest amongst them.
Nor do the authorities make any secret of the fact that their main object is the extermination of the whole Armenian race. The Vali admitted quite frankly : " We are determined to get rid, once and for all, of this cancer in our country. It has been our greatest political danger, only we never realized it as much as we do now. It is true that many innocents are suffering with the guilty, but we have no time to make any distinctions. We know it means an economic loss to us, but it is nothing compared with the danger we are thereby escaping ! "
Without commenting on the truth or falsity of these remarks, the fact remains that the Turks are rapidly depleting their country of some of the thriftiest, most intelligent, and, in many respects, the most valuable elements of their population. One has only to walk through the streets of any town in the interior to realize how this deportation has wrought havoc with the life of
[page 397] REPORT FROM A FOREIGN VISITOR.
community. Nearly all doctors, dentists, tailors, carpenters are gone—in short, every profession or trade requiring the least skill has been stopped, not to mention the complete stagnation of all business of any consequence. Even Turks are realizing the danger, and in some villages they petitioned the authorities to allow certain Armenians to remain ! It is therefore all the more surprising that the Ottoman Government persists in this shortsighted policy, for there can be little doubt that every place left vacant by an Armenian will—irrespective of the outcome of the European conflict—have to be filled by a foreigner, as the Turk has proved himself totally incapable of doing this kind of work.
[page 398] ADAPAZAR.
On the 1st August the beating began in the church. The object of this was to force the people to bring in any ammunition and firearms they might have. Most of the people accepted their fate in silence, but one man said boldly : " You must answer to God in heaven for these things."
" What do I care for your God in heaven ? He says you are good people and I must not beat you ; but he is not good, we must kill him."
A mother threw herself in front of her consumptive son, and herself received the stripes. A German woman tried to save her Armenian husband. " Get out of the way or I will beat you," cried the Beast. " I don't care for the Emperor himself ; my orders come from Talaat Bey."
Some Armenian ladies came to intercede with the Beast, and for a day or two the beatings were less vigorous.
Then came the awful Saturday, the day of darkness and horror. Women came to our house saying : " They are beating the Armenian men to death, and they are going to beat the women next !" I ran to a neighbour's house and there found men and women crying. The Protestant brethren had gotten out of the church and were telling their story. " They are beating the men frightfully," they cried. " They say they will throw us into the River Sakaria ; they will send us into exile ; they will make Mohammedans of us ; they will beat our women next ; they are coming to the house."
" Come to the school and I will put up the American flag," I said. Soon after, more women came to the school to find out if I could do something.
" We will go to the mayor ; we will go to the Beast," said they, " and we are all losing our heads ! "
Then our woman doctor came, crying frightfully. She had been down to the church to care for the wounded. Then the trustee came. " I want you to take my money and give it to my son if I die," said he. Then he sat down and wept, the tears rolling down his face.
At last I could endure it no longer. " I am going to the church ; I do not care what you say," I exclaimed. I did not know the way and every one was afraid to show me, but I found it by inquiring. One man said : " You are going to the church ? It is hell there." I arrived and walked past the guards at the gate without looking at them, and came to the door and lo, one of the trustees came to meet me. We walked up and down the church together and he remarked : " I think the police do not like to see you." I said : " They had better not ; I am going to America to tell of all these things." He said there was one
[page 399] FOREIGN RESIDENT.
Turkish soldier outside the church in tears. He said he had been crying three days and nights because of the awful treatment of the Armenian people. Some of the people were shut up ten days in the church, but special favour was shown to the Protestants ; none were beaten, and they had more liberty to go in and out. During all this time the Armenian shops were closed, and Armenians were not allowed to go to market to buy food or even to their gardens to gather their fruits, so that many were on the verge of starvation.
Three days after this the beating ceased and we were beginning to take courage again ; a few Armenian shops were opened ; but the next morning early, which was Sunday, news came that all the Armenians in Adapazar, numbering about 25,000, were to be sent into exile. They were to go to Konia by freight train, if they could pay their passage, and then to Mosul by carriage— on foot a journey of weeks and months. Such awful stories came to us about things that had happened to those who went on foot, that people sold their last possessions to get enough to pay their train passage. They were afraid to take money with them. The poor had none to take ; the rich must leave all their property behind. If they took money they feared violence. By Wednesday there were no goods trains to send them by, as so many had gone, but all the people were turned out into the streets to await their turn—many for several days—except the Protestants, who were allowed to come to the Protestant church to wait, while some of the wealthy people remained in their houses. The Protestants, in Adapazar especially, were in good favour with the Government, and their condition is somewhat hopeful.
A card has been received, written three weeks after the exile began, from Eski Shehr, telling how some of the Protestants in the hotel there were allowed to have their church services on Sunday and were being well treated. They thought it possible that they might be able to rent houses and remain there. If this is indeed true it will be a very great blessing.
[page 400] ADAPAZAR.
For several months there had been occasional exiles from Adapazar, but we felt safe because we had a good Mayor and a good Military Commander in the city. They were our friends. The Commander frequently joined us in our daily games of croquet, while the sick soldiers watched us from the windows. We gave a garden party to all the officers. They liked us and would have spared the school and the Protestants had they been able. But one day little Arousiag, one of our youngest pupils, came to us, a refugee, with only the clothes on her back. She had been staying with relatives at Sabandja, but the whole village had been exiled. As she had been born in America, of naturalized parents, she was saved, and I was afterwards able to bring her to her parents in America.
Soon after, some villagers whom I knew came from another mountain village, Tchalgara, and from their lips I heard how for seven days the men had been shut up in the church and beaten —especially the priest—until some fainted. The Government was searching for weapons, and the men were beaten until they either produced their own or secured others to surrender. Then in Bardezag, our nearest neighbouring missionary city, similar things happened. We did not know what was going on in the interior, although occasional vague rumours had come to us.
Then horrible cruelties began in Adapazar. About 500 important men were imprisoned in the Gregorian church. Those belonging to the Socialist Party were mercilessly beaten. Most accepted their fate in silence, but one man said boldly : " You must answer to God in Heaven for these things." " You have no God but me," was the response, and the man was beaten till his feet were red with blood. " What do I care for your Mayor ? " continued the Beast, as he was called : " He says you are good people, but he is no good himself. Kill me if you wish," he continued, " but ten men will come to take my place." A mother threw herself in front of her invalid son and herself received the stripes. A German woman tried to save her Armenian husband. " Get out of the way or I'll beat you," cried the Beast ; " I do not care for the German Emperor himself, my orders come from Talaat Bey." But afterwards the man was released. When I heard these things I knew it was of no use for me to try to interfere ; if the Beast would not listen to a German, he certainly would not to an American.
One day two of our delicate ladies went to see the Beast— to plead, like Queen Esther, for their people—saying, by this act : " If I perish, I perish." They found a man of fine appearance who had been educated in Europe, and who received them most politely. " We have heard bad things about you," they said, but now we see that you are a good man. Can't you persuade
[page 401] FOREIGN RESIDENT—FULLER STATEMENT.
the people to surrender their arms without beating them ? " " I am glad to see you so patriotic," he responded, " and would be glad of your assistance. You go, too, to the houses and persuade the people to give up their arms, and it will be well with them." So these two ladies hired a carriage and drove up and down the city, exhorting the people to surrender all their arms.
For a day or two the beatings were less. Then came the awful Saturday—the day of darkness and horror. Someone came running to the school-house crying : " They are beating the men in the church to death, and are going to begin on the women next."
I ran over to the neighbour's house and there I found men and women crying. Two of our Protestant brethren had escaped from the church and were telling their story. " They are beating the men frightfully," they cried. " They say they will throw us into the River Sakaria ; they will send us all into exile ; they will make Mohammedans of us. They are going to the houses to beat the women next." I begged the women to come to the school and I would put up the American flag, but they did not wish to leave their houses to be pillaged, although they promised to come if necessary.
Soon after, more women came to the school, frantic to do something. " We will go to the Beast ; we will go to the Mayor," they cried, and we were all losing our heads. Then our lady doctor came. She had been to the church to care for the wounded and the tears were streaming down her face. Then one of the school trustees came. " I want you to take my money and give it to my son if I die," he said. Then he sat down and the tears streamed down his face and mine. At last I could endure it no longer. " I am going to the church ; I don't care what you say !" I exclaimed, and I put on my hat and started. I did not know the way to the Gregorian church and everyone was afraid to show me, so I had to find my way by inquiry. " You are going to the church ? " asked one man : " It is hell there." I arrived. I walked past the guards without even looking at them, and there at the open door stood one of the trustees, Mr. Alexanian. " Can't I speak to the police and get you out ? " I asked. The other trustees had already left. " No," he said, " I am superintendent now."
The beatings had ceased for a time, in order that leading men might go out to search for weapons. Mr. Alexanian would write down their names as they went out, erasing them when the men returned. " I am glad I was here last night," he continued, "for I have been able to help the poor people to-day." How many of us would be glad of the privilege of spending a sleepless, bedless, chairless night for the sake of being useful ? He told the same sad story of awful beatings. No Protestant had been beaten. The Turks have always been favourable towards the Protestants,
[page 402] ADAPAZAR.
especially in Adapazar. This trustee told how after the beatings he went outside the church and found a Turkish soldier in tears, who said he had been crying three days and nights because of the wrongs inflicted upon the Armenian people. So you see there are some good Turks. It is the Government that is responsible, not all the people.
Soon after this, an important exile returned, the father of our two sweetest kindergarten children, and the head of a society. Great anxiety was felt on his behalf, for we feared he would be hanged and we grieved for his refined and delicate wife. He answered boldly at the trial. " Why do you punish these men ? If there is any fault it is mine, and yet I also am guiltless. This society was organized with the permission of the Government. You allowed us to obtain firearms." Which was ail very true. The Government was hatching a diabolical scheme to send all the Armenians into an endless exile, and wished first to disarm them.
Sunday brought new terrors but no especial troubles. On Monday the Beast left the city, and our hearts were filled with a subdued rejoicing, even though he said he would return on Wednesday. We did not believe it. We thought he had been recalled on account of his cruelties. As to the man himself, he was an ex-convict, having been implicated in a conspiracy against the Government and sentenced to a thousand years imprisonment. He was working for his liberty by carrying on this devilish work, and, to give himself courage for it. he drank heavily of the most intoxicating liquor.
During these ten days of imprisonment all Armenian shops were closed. The Armenians could not go to market to buy provisions or even to gather the produce of their gardens. Many were on the verge of starvation. On Saturday evening a few shops were opened, and we began to take heart a little. Some were fearful of exile, but I declared it would be impossible to send from twenty to thirty thousand Armenians from one city into exile, though a few would doubtless be sent. At this time the Government collected taxes from the Christians a year in advance—a bad sign. On Sunday morning I was awakened early by someone calling below my window. I put out my head and was informed that all the Armenians in Adapazar were to be sent into exile. As early as possible I went to the Mayor to intercede for the people, but it was useless. He would not even promise to protect our American property, and out of the entire city I could save only little Arousiag, who was American born.
From that Sunday onwards, the streets were full of Armenians trying to sell their possessions for a mere pittance. All was very quiet—the silence of despair. Even the Turks looked serious, for they knew that their city was financially ruined, as the Armenians are the most thrifty and skilful of all the peoples of Turkey. In spite of apparent quiet, however, robbery was,
[page 403] FOREIGN RESIDENT—FULLER STATEMENT.
not lacking. A poor servant girl was trying to sell her sewing machine—her only possession—and when she refused to sell it for four dollars, a man seized it and ran away with it. A few days later, the husband of one of our school servants was bringing their machine to our school when a man snatched it from his shoulders.
The people who had any money went to Konia (the ancient Iconium) in goods-trucks, being allowed to take only a few possessions with them. They were told to leave their possessions in the churches and they would be safeguarded, but the same promise had been made in Sabandja, and the church had been looted almost before the people were out of the city, so nobody trusted this promise. The exiles were crowded on the top of their possessions, sixty to eighty people in a truck marked for forty people. Some missionaries from the south met a train-load of these refugees and described their condition as miserable in the extreme. One girl had hanged herself on the way ; others had poison with them. Mothers were holding out their beautiful babies and begging the missionaries to take them. A Turkish officer ordered the Americans off, saying : " These Armenians are dangerous people ; they may have bombs."
From Konia they were to go by foot or carriage to a desert place called Mosul, in Mesopotamia, Those who had no money must make the entire journey on foot. Such dreadful stories came to their ears as to the treatment of those who walked—of how people were not allowed to sell them bread, of how they were robbed, and families separated, the men slain and the women and girls given to the Turks, the children sold to be brought up as Mohammedans—that people sold their last possession so as to be able to go as far as possible by train.
They were afraid to take money with them, lest they should be robbed by the way. They must leave all their property behind, and as soon as they vacated their houses, refugees from Macedonia took possession of them. What a lamentable condition—to be poor and in danger of starvation ; to be rich, accustomed to luxury and refinement, and then suffer all these things ; to be a woman, especially a pretty woman, with all a woman's dangers (some in Constantinople told me they would disfigure their faces if they were exiled) ; to be a man and see all these things and yet be unable to lift a finger in resistance ; to be there and endure ; to be here and imagine !
How can the people keep their faith in God during such trials ? How many will deny and curse Him ? How many will accept Mohammedanism ! Or how many will remain faithful to the end, and say through their tears : " Though He slay me —or worse than slay me—yet will I trust in Him ? " Again and again they said to me : " Oh, if they would only kill me now, I would not care ; but I fear they will try to force me to become a Mohammedan."
[page 404] ADAPAZAR.
What was the meaning of all this ? It was the death blow aimed at Christianity in Turkey, or, in other words, the extermination of the Armenian people—their extermination or amalgamation. And why ? At the beginning of the struggle, or soon after, the Holy War was declared. This signified a purpose to kill all Christians, the reward for which is eternal pleasure in the Mohammedan paradise. At first Turkey declared that the Holy War was directed only against nations at war with herself, but later she waged it against all Christians.
The Armenians were so patient, so silent and uncomplaining. We came very near to each other in those days. " You have made our sorrows your sorrows," they said to me : " You have an Armenian heart." But as the realization of what their exile actually meant dawned upon me, I could neither eat nor sleep. One day I said to my friends : "I cannot comfort you to-day ; you must comfort me. I think I feel worse than if I were going into exile myself." And they were so brave and cheerful that I did actually carry away cheer and comfort from that home.
I had planned to remain with my friends until all were gone, but that was impossible. The Protestants were given special favours ; they were the last to go, and were allowed to remain in their homes or in the church, while on the Wednesday of that week all other Armenians were turned out into the streets to wait their turn to go. There they waited, with their baggage, for days, by the roadside near the station.
So, with a sad heart, on the Friday of that exile week, I bade farewell to the group of friends gathered at the school-house door and with little Arousiag mounted on to the top of my goods in the ox-cart, fearing to trust my possessions out of my sight a moment. I put up an umbrella to protect me from the rain and the curious gaze of others. I felt and looked like an exile myself. When we reached Constantinople, everything looked so peaceful and quiet that I felt disappointed. We had received no news from the city for some time, and thought that it must be nearly in the hands of the enemy. To see women and children all dressed in the height of fashion, and seemingly indifferent to the misery of the world, was a painful contrast.
Not only did I leave terror behind me. In Constantinople also every man's heart was failing him for fear. There were rumours that Constantinople also would be evacuated, and awful stories of the separation of families, of the Mohammedanizing of Christians, reached our ears. " This is worse than massacre," again and again they said : " Only let them kill us now." Everybody was frantic to leave the country, and the police stations were crowded with people seeking, too often in vain, for permission to go to America, Bulgaria, or Roumania. No men at all were allowed to go. They were left behind to be exiled or massacred. On some days women were given permission to leave, and on other days they were refused. It took me, an
[page 405] FOREIGN RESIDENT—FULLER STATEMENT.
American, two days to get my papers, with help from the Embassy, and at every step I feared difficulty or refusal because of Arousiag, and also another Armenian girl whom I was bringing with me.
On the train just before we reached the boundary-line, an Armenian family was sent back. Two of our graduates joined us in Bulgaria, and they were said to be the last Armenians to leave Constantinople. I know that some American ladies who joined us later were not allowed to bring a servant with them, although she was badly needed to help them with their babies.
At last we were out of the land of the dreadful Turk, but alas ! a part of us has been left behind. In all our silent hours visions float before our mental eyes. As we passed through desolate-looking provinces on our journey, I could see marching, marching, without food or water or rest, my poor friends—the sun beating down upon their heads, the cruel faces and rods of their oppressors urging them on when they were ready to faint with weariness and hunger. No place to buy bread, no bed to lie upon except the bare earth—only marching, marching always. And I wondered whether the sublime faith and courage with which they had started out would fail them in the end. And thinking of these things the words of the Psalmist became my words : " My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, ' Where is thy God ? ' "
But there is a brighter side to the picture. One Sunday on my voyage I turned to Revelation to see if I could find a message for these days, and lo ! there it was in Rev. vii., 13-17 :—" These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. . . . They shall hunger no more neither thirst any more ; neither shall the sun light upon them nor any heat. . . . And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
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
Viscount Bryce The Treatment of Armenians.London, 1916