THE TREATMENT OF ARMENIANS IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE
XIV. THE ANATOLIAN RAILWAY.
The Anatolian Railway runs diagonally across Anatolia from the Asiatic suburbs of Constantinople to the Gulf of Iskanderoun (Alexandretta), but, beyond Konia, the line is in the hands of the Baghdad Railway Company, and the construction of this section is still incomplete. The tunnel through the Taurus Range is not yet open to traffic, and the present rail-head is at Bozanti, on the northern side of the mountains. In the Adana plain, a short section of line has long been in working order between Adana itself and the ports of Mersina and Alexandretta. But beyond this, again, there is another breach of continuity at the Amanus Range, and this second mountain barrier has also to be crossed by road before the traveller reaches the railway system that radiates from Aleppo.
The Anatolian Railway follows an ancient artery of trade, and there were important Armenian colonies in the chief places along its course, as well as in places lying off the railway towards the north-east. But the track of the line forms the general limit of Armenian expansion, and defines the Armenian " sphere of influence " in Asiatic Turkey as against the Greek. The only considerable colony of Armenians south-west of the Anatolian Railway is at Smyrna, where they seem to have suffered less severely than in other parts of the Ottoman Empire—we know no more than that a few of the leading Armenians there were hanged.
The deportation of the Armenian colonies in the railway zone appears to have been started during the months of June and July. Their numbers were soon swelled by the still larger streams of exiles from the metropolitan districts (see section XIII. above), and the traffic on the line became hopelessly congested. The hardships of travel in crowded cattle-trucks were painful enough, but now at every station on the line crowds of exiles were detrained to await their turn for transport for interminable periods. The central tableland of Anatolia, which the railway traverses, has a very high average altitude, and even in summer the climate is severe. The exiles were turned out on to the open plateau in an absolutely destitute condition, without food or shelter—here 2,000, here 5,000, here 11,000, here 12,000, here 15,000, here 30,000. These facts
and figures are vouched for, by a number of unimpeachable witnesses, in the documents contained in this section. The witnesses write from half-a-dozen different points along the railway, and one of them was himself an exile, experiencing in person the horrors of a concentration camp. But the misery of detention was as nothing compared with what the exiles suffered when their turn came to be carried on to rail-head and driven across the mountains on foot. There are frightful descriptions of their condition by a witness who saw them when they had reached the Adana Plain, and still more terrible accounts of the survivors who had lived to traverse the second mountain barrier and were dragging themselves towards Aleppo.
This agonising journey along the route of the railway was protracted for more than three months. The exiles were mostly uprooted from their homes in August ; the first documents date from the beginning of September, and by that date the foremost batches had hardly begun their marches across the first mountain range ; the last documents were written in November, and still the vast body of the exiles had not reached Adana, but were huddled together—stationary through exhaustion—on the south-eastern slopes of Taurus and Amanus, between the summits and the plain. One of the latest witnesses reckons the number here at 150,000.
[page 409] ANATOLIAN RAILWAY. FOREIGN PHYSICIAN.
104. THE ANATOLIAN RAILWAY : NARRATIVE OF A JOURNEY, DURING THE DEPORTATION OF THE ARMENIANS, BY A PHYSICIAN OF FOREIGN NATIONALITY, WHO HAD BEEN RESIDENT IN TURKEY FOR TEN YEARS ; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.
A journey through Asia Minor even in "normal" times can be understood only by those who have had the " experience " of travel in Turkey. During war-time there is simply no accommodation at all. Passenger traffic was limited to one train a week until shortly after the time of which I write, when that was cut off too, leaving no train connection with the interior open to the civilian.
On this particular journey, not many hours elapsed before the fact was forced upon one's consciousness that things were not as they used to be. One felt the sense of unwelcomeness, the aloofness of all fellow-passengers. Conversations were in an undertone, no joviality—looks of suspicion, as if to say : "Who is that infidel who dares intrude himself in such times as these ? "
At the first large station a sight burst upon my view which, although I knew and was prepared for it, was nevertheless a shock. There was a mob of a thousand or more people huddled about the station and environs, and long strings of cattle-trucks packed to suffocation with human beings. It was the first glimpse of the actual deportation of the Armenians. Our train drew up to the station, but there was no confusion, no wailing, no shouting, just a mob of subdued people, dejected, sad, hopeless, past tears—looking backward to abandoned homes, to husbands, fathers, brothers who had been torn from them ; looking forward to a death in the desert, or to a living death in the hands of captors who were compelled, " by political and military necessity," to free their land of the curse of a nation which had grown powerful while they themselves stagnated. There were guards everywhere among the people, making communication with them impossible. The advent of a foreigner among them was the sign for eager enquiring looks from some, as if to say : " Can it be that he brings deliverance for us ; " while others seemed to accept their lot in settled despair.
The town from which many of these had come, I learned later, was cleaned out completely, except for perhaps a dozen old women too feeble to undertake the journey. A missionary compound in the same town was left unguarded by the Government while, for four successive nights, marauders from a neighbouring village came, and, smashing doors and windows, helped themselves to such things as they could carry away.
Our train sped away, taking with us as many cattle-trucks, packed with men, women and children, as the locomotive could pull. In these trucks one could see improvised hammocks swung above the crowd squatting upon the floor, and in these hammocks
[page 410] ANATOLIAN RAILWAY.
the tiny babies—the only individuals in all that crowd oblivious to the horrors of the situation, but doomed nevertheless, in all their innocence, to pay the penalty of human jealousy and greed.
The scenes just described were repeated at various stations ; but at the station of—— , as I looked across the fields to the river, I heard the Turkish commander say : " Yes, I have 30,000 here under my charge." Then I looked as far along the river as I could see, and it was one mass of improvised blanket tents, their only protection from the parching heat of the mid-summer sun. Where this multitude were to get food for their long journey I was unable to see, for although most of them were as yet but a few days' journey from their homes, they could take but a bit of grain and almost no money with them. Can you imagine the sanitary condition of a camp of 30,000, when absolutely no provision is made, not even as much as would be made for so many cattle ?
During the weary days of travel I had as my companion a Turkish captain, who, as the hours dragged by, came to look on me with less of suspicion, growing quite friendly at times. Arrived at —— , the captain went out among the Armenian crowd and soon returned with an Armenian girl of about fifteen years. She was forced into a compartment of an adjoining railway coach, in company with a Turkish woman. When she saw that her mother was not allowed to accompany her she began to realise something of the import of it all. She grew frantic in her efforts to escape, scratching at the window, begging, screaming, tearing her hair and wringing her hands, while the equally grief-crazed mother stood on the railway platform, helpless in her effort to save her daughter. The captain, seeing the unconcealed disapproval in my face, came up and said : " I suppose, Effendi, you don't approve of such things, but let me tell you how it is. Why, this girl is fortunate. I'll take her home with me, raise her as a Moslem servant in my home. She will be well cared for and saved from a worse fate—besides that, I even gave the mother a lira gold piece for the girl." And, as though that were not convincing enough, he added : " Why, these scoundrels have killed two of our Moslems right here in this city within the last few days," as though that were excuse enough, if excuse were needed, for annihilating the whole Armenian race. I could not refrain from giving him my version of the rotten, diabolical scheme, which, however, fell from his back like water.
It was pitiful to see rough Turkish hawkers offering for sale, from wagons in the street, articles of all kinds stolen or bought for a pittance from the Armenians. As I passed by, one held up for the inspection of a number of Turkish women a child's white coat, and as I looked at it a vision flashed through my mind of a little girlie across the sea, whom I had seen in a little
[page 411] FOREIGN PHYSICIAN.
coat of just about that size, and who looked up into my face and called me "Daddy."
I learned here, too, of a nurse who had been in one of the mission hospitals, who two days before my arrival there had become almost crazed by the fear of falling into the hands of the human fiends, and had ended her life with poison. Were these isolated or unusual instances, it would excite no comment in this year of unusual things, but when we know of these things going on all over the Empire, repeated in thousands of instances, we begin to realise the enormity of the crimes committed. I spoke again to the captain : " Why are you taking such brutal measures to accomplish your aim ? Why not accept the offer of a friendly nation, which offers to pay transportation if you will send these people out of your country to a place of safety ? " He replied : " Why, don't you understand, we don't want to have to repeat this thing again after a few years. It's hot down in the deserts of Arabia, and there is no water, and these people can't stand a hot climate, don't you see ? " Yes, I saw. Anyone could see what would happen to most of them, long before Arabia was reached.
Leaving the railways I travelled several days by wagon across country. Arrived at—— , I found the process of deportation in full swing, the streets of the Armenian quarter of the city thronged with Armenians, Turkish civilians and Turkish officials. Officers standing in the street directed lesser officers in their work of turning out the households, one after another. The men of these households hurried about to find animals or wagons, paying exorbitant prices out of the little sum which represented all their savings, while others offered rugs and articles of all sorts for sale, that they might get enough money to hire a donkey. Most were unable to get animals at any price, and simply bundled together a few personal belongings and set out, in a dazed condition, not realising what it meant, except that they must go. One old Armenian gentleman, on leaving, accosted his Turkish neighbour, kissing his hand and bidding affectionate good-bye, which was reciprocated by the Turk ; evidently these two had for long years been ' good neighbours.' Crowds of Turkish women were going about insolently prying into house after house to find valuable rugs or other articles. After being accosted by the police, I returned to my wagon, and, while waiting there, heard the inn-keeper call to one of his men, and say in a stage whisper : " You go out and get rugs—rugs, you understand, by all means get rugs ; and, say, don't pay too much ; not more in any case than two medjids (6s. 4d.)." While I waited, the man brought rugs by the armload ; they were placed in a room in the inn, while the innkeeper and other men discussed their value and gloated over the purchase for a mere pittance. Four men came by, bearing a corpse covered with a black cloth. Fearing lest
[page 412] ANATOLIAN RAILWAY.
they might in this way smuggle out valuables, the innkeeper strode out and flung up the cloth, exclaiming: " What have you fellows got there ? "
This general plan of deportation I saw carried out in several towns. Such animals and carriages as were available were loaded with goods and sent to the outskirts of the town, where they waited until all were ready ; then they were joined by the crowds on foot and all went off together. It was pitiful enough as they set out, but I met group after group on the road " on the march "— and these travel-stained, worn and haggard—on and on, and on to their death. Ah, yes, one can stand almost any hardship if hope fills the breast and home and friends are at the journey's end.
We passed one group of about 900 souls and only two mounted and armed gendarmes. " Why didn't they kill the gendarmes ? " has been asked me. That is easy enough, to be sure, but, having killed their guards, they remain at the mercy of the first band of armed men they meet, and they must go to villages, for the mountains of Turkey cannot support life. My wagon driver showed the tenderness (?) of his heart by remarking, as we passed this group : " Effendi, it is almost more than I can stand to see women and little children in such condition. But," he continued, " there are some fine-looking girls in that bunch. I'll get one when I get to the next town." He then started to tell me some of the atrocious things of which the Armenians are accused. I found that, as time went on and the deportation gained momentum, the common people came to believe more and more the grossly exaggerated stories and whole-cloth lies manufactured for the very purpose of exciting the sympathy of the common people towards the scheme. Arrived at—— , I found the Armenian market-place closed and the shop doors shut and sealed by the Government, although as yet but a small proportion of the Armenian population had been deported from that particular place. Fourteen prominent Armenian merchants were hanged that night in this city. Passing to —— , I found the missionaries besieged with terror-stricken Armenian friends and neighbours who were living in daily terror of orders to move. The general deportation orders came a day or two later, and the people swarmed about the missionaries, beseeching help for life and protection of property. One can scarcely understand the strain to which the missionaries were subjected ; and yet how helpless they were, imprisoned, as it were, in a country which was in the throes of war and shut off from intervention by foreign powers.
Rich, proud Armenians, crushed by the blow, seemed to age years in these days. Some, with tears streaming down their faces, came beseeching us to find a way out for them. Public auction of household and private effects was held in the market square. No one was allowed to buy by private sale, and the
[page 413] FOREIGN PHYSICIAN.
prices had to be approved by the officials. Orders came permitting the sale of houses and lands at auction, which raised the question in their minds : " If we sell for cash, in all probability our money will be taken from us, or if for Government promissory notes, will they have any value ? " An order came exempting Protestants from the general deportation, and we rejoiced at the prospect of saving even a few. The result of this favour was, however, a distribution of Protestants, five to ten families each, to surrounding Turkish villages, where, surrounded by a Moslem community, they were forced to become Moslem or to suffer terrible persecution. As far as I can learn, no one attempts to pass judgment on any Armenian Protestant or Gregorian who has so " turned. " All we could do was to advise against it, realising as we did what it meant for them to marry into Moslem homes, as those who " turned " were forced to do. God alone knows the tremendous pressure brought to bear upon them, and the self-sacrificing spirit in which many of them sought in this way to save their own families from death by signing a scrap of paper. These papers were printed forms, indicating that the signer accepts of his free will and in full conscience the tenets of the Moslem faith.
When we consider the number forced into exile and the number beaten to death and tortured in a thousand ways, the comparatively small number that turned Moslem is a tribute to the staunchness of their hold on Christianity. Those who " turned" found that the Moslems were not true to their promise to leave such unmolested, for in many places these were forced to go into exile later on, although they were counted as Moslems. In one city about 1,000 families turned Moslem, but this being too large a number might be considered a menace, so they were deported all the same.
If the events of the past year demonstrate anything, they show the practical failure of Mohammedanism in its struggle for existence against Christianity—in its attempt to eliminate a race which, because of Christian education, has been proving increasingly a menace to stagnating Moslem civilisation. We may call it political necessity or what not, but in essence it is a nominally ruling class, jealous of a more progressive Christian race, striving by methods of primitive savagery to maintain the leading place.
[page 414] ESKI SHEHR.
We shall perish of hunger ; we have had to leave behind us everything we possess, and they are robbing us of the little money that we have brought with us, robbing us even of our clothes. Most of us have not a penny left. It is a cruel situation. The ferocity of the minor officials passes all limits. The evening before last, two gendarmes looted the tents of the exiles from the village of Kelidj (who had only arrived that day). Incidentally they wounded some of them with a perfect rain of blows. They also tried to carry off forty or fifty tents, and then one of them came to announce that the Tchaoush must be conciliated. We collected 400 piastres (£3 6s. 8d.) and handed it over to them on condition they left us in peace ; one of the exiles sold his single blanket for 4 piastres in order to pay his share of the subscription. Most of us were plundered on the road. Before the exiles reach a station they are told : " You can start off, we will see that your baggage follows you ; " and they are sent on their journey after their money, too, has been taken from them. During the journey the sick were abandoned by the roadside. Some threw their children into the rivers, others committed suicide. Why don't people at least send us some relief ?
Many have lost members of their family, and no one knows where they are. The exiles from the districts of Ismid and Broussa have been exposed at each station to indescribable sufferings, and are only waiting for the approach of death. From Eski Shehr to Konia the uplands are covered with the tents occupied by the Armenians. This frightful suffering inspires no pity in the ruthless officials, who throw themselves upon their wretched victims, armed with whips and cudgels, without distinction of sex or age.
During the last two days they have begun to transport the exiles further afield—free of charge ! All that has happened here is nothing compared with what has been going on beyond Eregli and Bozanti. I have seen with my own eyes the convoy that marched to Konia on foot, and I simply cannot describe the condition of the old women and children. They had ceased to be human. Having obeyed the deportation order, they had paid a toll of 300 victims, and the widows had been marched over the mountains. As for the men, there were not many of them. There were other exiles who had been forced to come on foot, from all parts, because no general order has been issued for transporting the exiles by railway. The gendarmes demand enormous sums for granting the exiles permission to
* Name withheld.
[page 415] ARMENIAN VICTIM.
encamp from place to place and rest. But whether they go by train or on foot, the exiles are condemned in any case to pillage and ill-usage.
They are now beginning to deport the people in Syria and the Lebanon as well, and the first convoy of them has reached Konia They are filling their places with Mohammedan emigrants from Europe. They distribute thirty loaves among 130 people, and even that not everywhere.
[page 416] AFIUN KARA HISSAR. ARMENIAN WITNESS.
Some of the exiles have been sent to Konia, but on the bleak uplands of Afiun Kara Hissar, under canvas, or, in many cases, without tents at all, there are about 11,000 exiles in misery. Most of them have been reduced to an indescribable condition. They endured all kinds of hardships on their journey, and a large proportion of them died on the road. Many fathers have been compelled to abandon their children on the road. They have been obliged to march day after day on foot, pricked on at the point of yataghans and deluged with curses. In the struggle to keep up this unending journey on foot, they have been forced to abandon by the road such possessions as they had taken with them, even the most necessary articles, and they are now naked and shelterless on the frozen plateau.
This pitiful mass of sufferers is composed of Armenians from the towns and villages of Balikesri, Pandemia, Erendjik, Hai Keui, Mikhalidj, Kassaba, Broussa, Gemleyik, Benli, Marmardjik, Karsakh, Gurlé, Yenidjé, Djera, Ezli, Adapazar, Karasu, Yalova, Tchoukour, Karsz, Kelidj, Shaklak, Mess Nor Keui, Tchingiler, Orta Keui and Keremet.
There are about ten priests from these villages among them.
The rich have become poor, and the poor, naked, famished and deplorably miserable, without help and without hope, are compassed by all the terrors of death. Exposed to freezing blasts and drenching rain, their life is one long agony. One would rather die than see such a spectacle.
The railway has been requisitioned for the transport of troops, so they have decided to leave this unfortunate mass of people here for an indefinite period. There is no means of escaping from this terrible life of exposure to the elements. The only means is death, and they are dying in numbers every day. There have been twelve deaths only to-day.
* Name of writer withheld.
[page 417] AFIUN KARA HISSAR. SECOND ARMENIAN WITNESS.
107. AFIUN KARA HISSAR : RESUME OF A LETTER* DATED AFIUN KARA HISSAR, 2nd/15th OCTOBER, 1915 ; APPENDED TO THE MEMORANDUM (DOC. 11), DATED 15/28th OCTOBER, 1915, FROM* A WELL-INFORMED SOURCE AT BUKAREST.
The 16,000 deported Armenians who were living in the tents have been sent to Konia, in cattle-trucks. At night, while thousands of these unfortunate people, without food or shelter, shiver with cold, those brutes who are supposed to be their guardians attack them with clubs and push them towards the station. Women, children and old men are packed together in the trucks. The men have to climb on to the top of the trucks, in spite of the dreadful cold. Their cries are heart-breaking, but all is in vain. Hunger, cold and fatigue, together with the Government's deeds of violence, will soon achieve the extermination of this last remnant of the Armenian people, the former inhabitants of the Sandjak of Ismid, the Vilayet of Broussa and the neighbourhood. In spite of the great misery that prevails among the exiles, the Government took from them by force one hundred Turkish liras for the " Defense Nationale."
* Name of writer withheld.
[page 418] AFIUN KARA HISSAR.
Mr. and Mrs. A., Miss B., a Greek student from our College who wished to come to America to study, my husband and I left BO., and, after travelling all day and night, reached Afiun Kara Hissar about nine o'clock the next morning. We had three hours to wait in Kara Hissar, so we took a carriage at the station and drove to the home of an Armenian doctor there—a well educated, fine young doctor, whom we had met on our previous visit to Kara Hissar. We found his wife and two small children at home, but the doctor had been taken a year ago to work for the wounded Turkish soldiers.
The wife had heard of the exiling of all the Armenians from different towns around her, and so she was packing a few things to take with her when her hour came to go. That hour arrived while we were in her home. All the Armenians were ordered to be at the station in twenty-four hours, to be sent—where ? They did not know, but they did know that they had to leave everything—the little homes they had worked for for years, the few little things they had collected—all must be left to the plunder of the Turks.
It was one of the saddest hours I ever lived through ; in fact, the hours that followed on the train, from Kara Hissar to Constantinople, were the saddest hours I ever spent.
I wish I could picture the scene in that Armenian home, and we knew that in hundreds of other homes in that very town the same heart-breaking scenes might be witnessed.
The courage of that brave little doctor's wife, who knew she must take her two babies and face starvation and death with them. Many began to come to her home—to her, for comfort and cheer, and she gave it. I have never seen such courage before. You have to go to the darkest places of the earth to see the brightest lights, to the most obscure spot to find the greatest heroes.
Her bright smile, with no trace of fear in it, was like a beacon light in that mud village, where hundreds were doomed.
It was not because she did not understand how they felt ; she was one of them. It was not because she had no dear ones in peril ; her husband was far away, ministering to those who were sending her and her babies to destruction.
"Oh ! there is no God for the Armenians," said one Armenian, who, with others, had come in to talk it over.
Just then a poor woman rushed in to get some medicine for a young girl who had fainted when the order came.
[page 419] AMERICAN TRAVELLER.
Such despair, such hopelessness you have never seen on human faces in America.
" It is the slow massacre of our entire race," said one woman.
" It is worse than massacre ! " replied another man.
The town crier went through all the streets of the village, crying out that anyone who helped the Armenians in any way, gave them food, money or anything, would be beaten and. cast into prison. It was more than we could stand.
" Have you any money ? " my husband asked the doctor's wife. " Yes," she said ; "a few liras ; but many families will have nothing."
After figuring out what it would cost us all to reach Constantinople, we gave them what money we had left in our small party. But really to help them we could do nothing, we were powerless to save their lives.
Already the Turks had taken our American school and church, and after a big procession through the streets had dedicated our church as a mosque and turned our school into a Turkish school-taken down the Cross and put up the Crescent.
Some weeks before, they had exiled our faithful Armenian pastor, who for a great many years had toiled there, as he himself told us, " to make a little oasis in that desert."
For many weeks Mr. C. of our College in BO. had stayed in Kara Hissar to try and get back our church and school, but nothing could be done. The Turks had named our church " Patience Mosque," because, they said, they had waited so many years to get it.
It was with broken hearts that we left the town, and hardly had we started on our way when we began to pass one train after another crowded, jammed with these poor people, being carried away to some spot where no food could be obtained. At every station where we stopped, we came side by side with one of these trains. It was made up of cattle-trucks, and the faces of little children were looking out from behind the tiny barred windows of each truck. The side doors were wide open, and one could plainly see old men and old women, young mothers with tiny babies, men, women and children, all huddled together like so many sheep or pigs—human beings treated worse than cattle are treated.
About eight o'clock that evening we came to a station where there stood one of these trains. The Armenians told us that they had been in the station for three days with no food. The Turks kept them from buying food ; in fact, at the end of these trains there was a truck-full of Turkish soldiers ready to drive these poor people on when they reached the Salt Desert or whatever place they were being taken to.
Old women weeping, babies crying piteously. Oh, it was awful to see such brutality, to hear such suffering.
[page 420] AFIUN KARA HISSAR. AMERICAN TRAVELLER.
They told us that twenty babies had been thrown into a river as a train crossed—thrown by the mothers themselves, who could not bear to hear their little ones crying for food when there was no food to give them.
One woman gave birth to twins in one of those crowded trucks, and crossing a river she threw both her babies and then herself into the water.
Those who could not pay to ride in these cattle-trucks were forced to walk. All along the road, as our train passed, we saw them walking slowly and sadly along, driven from their homes like sheep to the slaughter.
A German officer was on the train with us, and I asked him if Germany had anything to do with this deportation, for I thought it was the most brutal thing that had ever happened. He said : " You can't object to exiling a race ; it's only the way the Turks are doing it which is bad." He said he had just come from the interior himself and had seen the most terrible sights he ever saw in his life. He said : " Hundreds of people were walking over the mountains, driven by soldiers. Many dead and dying by the roadside. Old women and little children too feeble to walk were strapped to the sides of donkeys. Babies lying dead in the road. Human life thrown away everywhere."
The last thing we saw late at night and the first thing early in the morning was one train after another carrying its freight of human lives to destruction.
Another man on the train said that in one train he was in the mothers begged him to take their children to save them from such a death.
He said that an Armenian, a leading business man in Harpout, told him that he would rather kill his four daughters with his own hand than see the Turks take them from him. This Armenian was made to leave his home, his business and all he had and start off with his family to walk to whatever place the Turks desired to exile him to.
When we reached a station near Constantinople, we met a long train of Armenians that had just been exiled from Barde-zag.
My husband and Mr. A. talked with one of the native teachers from our American school. Among other things he said that an old man was walking in the street in Bardezag when the order came to leave. The old man was deaf and did not understand what was going on, so, because he made no move to leave the town, the soldiers brutally shot him down in the street. The teacher said he could buy no food, for the soldiers kept them from buying any.
The crying of those babies and little children for food is still ringing in my ears. On every train we met we heard the same heart-rending cries of little children.
[page 421] TOWN OF Q. REPORT FROM DR. D.
The conditions are so bewildering here that it is hard to know how to present a general view of the situation. The deportation is still going on in full force, and yet shows unaccountable stoppages and delays. I suppose that the vis a tergo emptying out the population is so out of proportion to the executive ability to keep the channels of travel open that the result is this great damming back of the current that has filled the cities from Eski Shehr to the Taurus mountains. Beyond that I know very little. Exemptions and delays are granted with no apparent reason, often, however, with the plainest of reasons, viz., the enriching of the police. The amount of extortion practised must extend into thousands of liras.
Dr. E. will tell you of what he has seen on the way here. I will try not to duplicate what he says. The information that I have from P. is reliable. The Protestants of Q. who were there have all returned here, though many difficulties were thrown in their way. There were about 15,000 exiles in P., but there has been a steady stream pouring in that direction and the number must be larger now, except for the number sent on into the mountains from there. How many there are at Bozanti, the terminus of the railway, I have not been able to learn. Whether they are now being sent on to Tarsus and Adana, I cannot learn with certainty. Reports have it that travel beyond Adana is cut off, and so the exiles are not being sent, as before, beyond Aleppo.
In P. the exiles are encamped in the open fields in the neighbourhood of the railway station. No protection is provided for them, and they have none, except such tenting as they can make up for themselves out of carpets, coarse matting, cloaks, gummy sacks, sheets, cotton cloth, tablecloths, or handkerchiefs, all of which I have seen used here in Q. There are no sanitary arrangements for this horde, and every available spot is used for depositing excrement. The stench of the region is described as appalling. Here in Q. I have seen how the adjoining field, entirely open as it was, was so thickly covered with excrement that it seemed impossible to step anywhere, while women and girls, as well as others, were defecating there in the daytime simply because there was absolutely no screen or protection anywhere. When it is considered that diarrhoea and dysentery are rife, you can imagine the results. The region there, as well as here, is exceedingly malarial, and this is the time of year for it. I have no knowledge of how many deaths have taken place.
After a time, large numbers of the exiles at P. were allowed to find shelter in the town, where they rented houses and for a time were better off. But they were not allowed to rest in quiet. Suddenly the order would come from the police that all were to
[page 422] TOWN OF Q.
leave for Bozanti, and the whole number who were in the town, perhaps 5,000, would be driven (and I mean literally driven under the lash) into the streets with all their goods and be rushed to the encampment. There perhaps 100 wagons would be ready and 500 people find places and be sent off. The rest were then left to stay in the encampment or bribe their way back to the town again and re-rent their houses, until another alarm and driving forth. Every such onslaught meant several medjids of expense for every family for transporting their goods and bedding to and fro, and this in addition to the bribes paid to the police for the privilege of going back to the town. Such bakshishes had to be paid to the police for every favour asked, from medjids* to liras, † No one could go to present a petition to the Governor without bribing the police first. In the encampment the police would come along in the morning and order all tents in a certain section to be taken down, saying they were to start for Bozanti, and this order would be enforced instantly with scourge and club. The terror of the people, from the reports they had of that journey " beyond "—of pillage, murder, outrage, stealing of girls and starvation—was such that they were always ready to purchase a few days' respite if they had any money to do it with. No train or wagon is ready, so when enough money is brought out, the people are graciously allowed to put up their tents again twenty feet away from their former site. The sick, the aged—none were respected. The people have described to me the terror of that constantly recurring order, " Down with the tents ! " with the whip behind it.
For those who did have to start, the conditions were still worse. They must hire wagons brought there for them, and the drivers charge four times the ordinary price. It must be paid, or they will be driven out to go on foot, and, of course, in that case, can take no bedding and hardly any food with them. The drivers acknowledge afterwards that the police take one half of the price paid. It is impossible for me to tell you all the means of extortion employed. I know of a family here who had to pay nineteen liras to hire a wagon and hamals and get permission from the police to move from the filthy encampment to a small, horribly crowded hotel near by. The hotel-keepers charge a lira a day for a little room with three or four dirty beds in it, and then share this with the police.
Protestants are supposed to be freed. The story of my contest with the officials here, before the Vali arrived, shows how they had planned to get all sent away before his arrival by concealing the order for exemption.
The Protestants who were already in P. were notified that they were free, yet had to pay fifty liras to the police to get their permit to leave. At the station, where they went to get third-class tickets, they were told that there were no third-class
* About 35. 2d.
† Slightly less than a pound sterling.
[page 423] REPORT FROM DR. D.
coaches left and that they must take second-class. After purchasing these tickets two-thirds of them were put into third-class coaches after all. It was merely a trick to separate them from more of their money. Of course, they were glad to have third-class coaches, for, coming here first, the exiles were compelled to pay the full fare and then packed forty or fifty together in box-trucks, cattle-trucks, or even open flat trucks. The Railway seems to be as conscienceless in wringing the money out of them as the Government or the Turks.
The whip and club are in constant use by the police, and that upon women and children too. Think what it is for people, many of them cultivated, educated, refined, to be driven about in this way like dogs by brutes. I have seen women black and blue from the beating they have received. A woman with a fractured thigh at the station was being helped by friends intending to bring her to the hospital. A commissary of police came along and ordered her to be dragged back into the carriage. A boy yesterday in the encampment here was struck on the head by a policeman and killed. The pastor of the church at O. was beaten with a whip and his forehead cut open, in a great gash, by a blow from a club, for saying that he was a Protestant and asking for his freedom. He is not freed yet in P. Two of his daughters we took into the hospital as nurses when the family first passed through here.
Dr. E. will tell you of conditions here in Q. The Vali is a good man, but almost powerless. The Ittihad Committee and the Salonika Clique rule all. The Chief of Police seems to be the real head. The Vali came here on the promise that Q. should be spared. Then he was delayed in Constantinople day after day until the deportation here should be accomplished. He was furious when he heard of it on his way here, and he is likely to resign soon. I am telling you what a close friend of his, a travelling companion, told me.
The Armenians of N. sent here were forced to come by wagon. The Circassians of the region knew of it and followed after and robbed them, and shot one girl. Gendarmes were sent out after the Circassians, but only took their turn in completing the stripping of the party.
Another party was sent in the same way and was attacked at night by Circassians, and one of the men was shot through the thigh—a horrible wound. He died here in the hospital a few hours later. We have one boy and one girl here in the hospital who were run over by trains, compelling the amputation of the leg. Three hundred families from Baghtchedjik are in Eski Shehr. About two hundred of the men were in market, nearly a mile from the encampment, when the police came on them and drove them out at once to start on foot for Q., without letting them go back to their families or get money. They are here now, begging me to try to communicate with their families. The mail
[page 424] TOWN OF Q.
is closed to all such communications. Telegrams innumerable are given in at the office, the money received and then the telegram never sent—(witness two long telegrams I sent you).
During the last four days the inhabitants of the villages above Baghtchedjik have been poured in here, and are filling the encampment. They come from a cool and well-watered region. They are thrown out here in this burning heat, without shelter and with a water supply so scanty that there is a constant struggle at the fountain to get their jars filled. The sickness that we are seeing among them is heart-rending. Many are simply overcome with the heat. Our dispensary floor is covered all day with sick in all stages. A little girl died here this morning. Others, moribund, will perhaps hardly get back to their tents. We are trying to refresh them with yoghourt and water-melons. They are too sick to take bread.
Hardly anything makes me so hot as the thought of the soldiers' families. The men—the fathers, brothers, sons and husbands—are serving in the Turkish Army as loyally as any, and their families—their children, wives and sisters—are driven off in this inhuman manner. Soldiers' families are also said to be exempt from deportation, but in countless cases they are swept away with the rest. The wife must put in a special petition claiming her relationship. This petition has to be paid for, for she cannot write Osmanli. It must be stamped with the regular stamp, the additional stamp, the Hidjaz Railway stamp and the War-Aid stamp. Then, after the usual delays of " Go and come again," a telegram is written to the Army Post where she says the soldier is, and this she must pay for—thirty to sixty piastres*—and all this when she and the children are hungry for bread with no money to buy it. A woman came for treatment yesterday with three children, two almost dying. She happened to mention that she was a soldier's wife. I asked why she did not get free by that. " They wanted thirty-one piastres for the telegram and I had nothing," was her reply. Oh! I wish you could see the abominable cruelty of their treatment and the diabolical ingenuity of the ways devised to strip them of all their money before bringing them to their deaths—for that is where it will surely end for all these people, unless some means of stopping it is soon found. Whether the taking of Constantinople will be such a means or not will depend, I suppose, on whether the present Government succeeds in making its escape and continuing its rule in the interior.
An " Exiles' Commission " has come here from Constantinople. It was announced that their business was to be to settle the exiles in this vilayet and not make them go further. Telegrams from Enver Pasha were received stating this before the Commission came. Now they have come, and it appears that their duty is merely to clear the choked channels and speed up the
*Five to ten shillings.
[page 425] REPORT FROM DR. D.
traffic. They have announced that they have come not to settle the exiles but to drive them on. Since beginning this letter I have learned that the stream has begun to flow again from P. and Bozanti to Adana and on, and it is reported that now the destination is Arabia.
I must add a report from Angora, whence I have received to-night what I have every reason to believe to be an accurate account. Some two or three weeks ago, about two hundred of the chief Armenians at Angora were imprisoned, then taken at night in wagons, thirty or forty at a time, to the banks of the Kizil Irmak, and there killed. Eighteen of the employees of the Railway and the director of the Ottoman Bank were among these. I had this on good authority then, and it is confirmed now. Within this past week all the Armenian men, whether Gregorian, Protestant or Catholic, have been taken, stripped to shirt and drawers, tied together and taken away and heard of no more. The women and girls have been distributed to the Turkish villages, the Turks coming and looking over the girls and choosing what they wanted. I could give you the name of one of the wealthiest men in Angora, whose wife and three daughters were taken away before his eyes, and who went crazy. Three hundred boys were circumcised. The name of the railway official was told me who saw one hundred of these done, and reported it. The region from Angora to Polatlu (on the railway) is said to have been the scene of such outrages as cannot be described. It is reported that this complete extermination applies to the whole of the Angora Vilayet outside the Kaisaria Sandjak, but my accurate information does not cover this.
It is openly stated by officials here that the exemption of Protestants and Catholics is only temporary, and the trend of events seems to me to give colour to this.
The saddest part of all this is our utter impotence to do anything to stay the awful deeds that are being perpetrated.
[page 426] TOWN OF Q.
Although you are already well informed as to the Armenian situation in this region, I am taking the liberty to add a few notes from personal observation on the way here, chiefly from what I saw at Eski Shehr, Alayund and Tchai.
At Eski Shehr there are about 12,000 to 15,000 exiles in the fields about the station, evidently in great need and distress. The majority of them appear to be without shelter, and what shelter they have consists of the flimsiest kind of tent, improvised out of a few sticks covered with rugs or carpets in a few instances, but often only with cotton cloth—absolutely no protection from the heavy autumn rains which will soon be coming. The station-master, whom I have known as a reliable man for several years, told me that the people had been treated with every kind of brutality, the police ostensibly trying to prevent the Turks from molesting them by day, but aiding and abetting them by night. I myself noticed that in several places large groups of young women and girls were being kept separate from the rest and guarded (?) by the police, and was told that in several instances the police had allowed them to be outraged. At the present, instances of actual violence were not so common, but there was no provision made for feeding them and the people were quickly spending what little cash they had to buy provisions at exorbitant rates. Certainly they seemed to have little or nothing in the way of supplies, and many looked pinched and sickly. About thirty to forty deaths were taking place every day. Germans whom I overheard talking while on the way to Eski Shehr, and also the German hotel-proprietress at Eski Shehr, were loud in their condemnation of the whole affair as being conducted in the most brutal and horrible way.
At Alayund there were perhaps 5,000 exiles in about the same condition. They were from Broussa for the most part, and those with whom I was able to converse told the same tales. Within two weeks the Government had made two distributions of bread, neither of them sufficient for more than one day, and had given nothing else. I myself saw police beating the people with whips and sticks when a few of them, in a perfectly orderly way, attempted to talk to some of their fellow-exiles on the train, and they were treated in general as though they were criminals who had no claim to consideration of any kind. What talking I did, I had to do with them rather surreptitiously, of course.
At Tchai I saw perhaps a couple of thousand in the same condition. Here the men and women were together, and the Turks had not succeeded in carrying off more than two girls. By keeping constant guard the Armenians, although unarmed, had been able to frighten the assailants away. They said that all the men there would die rather than give up any of their
[page 427] REPORT FROM DR. E.
women, and that, as the Turks were not so numerous, they felt safer, but dreaded what was awaiting them when the order came to move on. A heavy rain had fallen at Tchai and occasioned great suffering, followed by sickness and some deaths, especially among the children. A good many of the people had gone insane.
A conductor on the train told me that, although the order had come for the return of the Protestants and the Catholics, he had seen about 100 to 150 of the latter from Ismid re-deported towards Angora and in this direction, even after they had gone through the form of having been returned to their homes. In their second deportation they were to be scattered—a few to each Turkish village in the region.
At Q. about the same conditions exist, although we are fortunate in having a good Vali. However, he is much handicapped by some powerful men of the Committee,* who are opposed to him and accuse him of undue clemency. Even a prominent Armenian of this city warned him not to be too kind lest he be sent away (the above was an Armenian connected with the railway, and therefore not deported). The Protestants here are very grateful to you for securing them exemption from deportation. However, they are in much distress, for the Government has sealed up all their shops and will not let them conduct any business, so that what little cash they have is rapidly being exhausted.
All of the above and much that I might add is as nothing, however, to what the railway employees report as going on at the end of the line, where the people leave the railway and set. out on foot, only to be set upon by brigands, who rob, outrage and kill all the way from Bozanti to Adana and beyond. At Angora also there has been great slaughter, according to all reports.
Whether these unfortunate people are sent on towards the east or whether they remain where they are along the road, their future is very dark, and it means annihilation for the whole race unless they can be quickly reinstated in their homes with permission to carry on their business, or else taken out of the country altogether. Even if they are left just as they are, two or three months will probably see the end of most of them. The climate of the interior is very different from that of Constantinople, and the nights are already cold. We shall do the best we can here, but can hardly touch the outer edge of the national wretchedness and misery, which is written so clearly on the despairing faces of the people, especially of the women and girls, that enquiry and investigation are almost unnecessary to confirm the horrible truth. We are using every means we can, however, to see as much as possible ourselves and get reliable information of the rest.....
* Of Union and Progress.
[page 428] TOWN OF Q.
P.S.—I have had to wait several days to find a suitable messenger, and the delay has enabled me to get a pretty comprehensive view of the situation. There are at present in Q. about 5,000 to 10,000 Armenian refugees, mostly from the Broussa, Ismid and Bardezag regions ; a few hundreds come from Eski Shehr, Ak Shehr and other places nearer by. The people are, for the most part, encamped in the fields near the railway station, much as they are at the places above described. The protection is, for the most part, very flimsy, and there is a considerable proportion of the people whose things have been stolen from them and who are simply lying out in the open with no protection from the scorching sun by day or from the dew and dampness by night. This state of affairs produces a vast number of cases of malaria and dysentery, and also of heat prostration, and one cannot walk a few paces through the camp without seeing sick lying everywhere, especially children. There are, of course, no sanitary arrangements at all, and last night the stench that came from the camp was overpowering. Conditions are ripe for an epidemic at any time, especially as these people have not, like the soldiers, received any prophylactic treatment. Until very recently the Government had done absolutely nothing for the refugees ; during the last few days they have been giving the adults one piastre * and the children twenty paras f a day, which is, of course, insufficient to feed them adequately. The people have no occupation and stand and lie about listlessly ; a steady stream of them passes up and down the main street, begging or peddling their small remaining stock of clothing, rugs, embroidery, &c. At night the people are not molested as much as they were at first, but this is probably due chiefly to the fact that the best of everything has been taken away from them by this time and that a vast assemblage of sickly and half-starved people is naturally comparatively safe from molestation. There are a fair proportion of the Armenians who have managed to keep some money and goods, and who are fairly comfortable for the time being in houses and rooms that they rent. These, however, have troubles of their own, for the police try to get money out of them by frightening them, saying that they are next on the list to be sent off to Bozanti, that their papers are made out wrong, &c. Numbers of anxious parents have been to us, beseeching us to take their daughters as nurses or servants in order to protect them from the Turks. We have employed as many as we dared— not that we are afraid for ourselves, but that we have to think of our own regular nurses and employees, who would be in danger if we overstepped the mark. But it is terrible to refuse asylum to girls whom we know to be in danger. Yesterday an unusually pretty and refined young girl of fifteen was brought to us by her parents ; she had been pursued all the way from
* Slightly more than twopence.
† Slightly more than a penny.
[page 429] REPORT FROM DR. E.
Broussa by an Army officer, but they had been able to elude him and the police as well. Our hospital is too public to shelter her, and we are still looking for a place for her. Most of the people in town are scared to do anything at all, foreigners included, but we do not propose to show the white feather, and are only waiting for certain official persons to return from P., where they went a few days ago in order to get larger liberties for Red Cross activities. At present our hospital has taken in all the soldiers and refugees that it can, and we are seeing sick refugees in the clinic all day long. To-day I counted 21 women and children in one of our waiting-rooms, mostly lying on the floor from sheer exhaustion, one child moribund, two others nearly so, and half the rest of the group quite likely to die in a few days, if they are allowed to remain where they are in the camp. Many of the villagers are mountaineers, and, lying out on the hot dusty plain by day and exposed to the cold of night, they quickly succumb. To-day I took a little girl into the hospital who had been perfectly well until four days ago, when everything was stolen from the mother and she had no place to lay her except on the ground, so that she quickly got up a dysentery and died a few hours after admission to the ward. The family were respectable Protestant people from Ismid. Hardly had the little girl died and the sheets been changed than another child, this time a boy, was put into the same bed ; his leg had been cut off by a railway-truck and apparently there was nobody to take care of him. We found that the mother had been forcibly separated from her children further back on the road. In that same ward lies a young girl who has recently had her leg amputated for the same accident, and who to-day was crying and screaming because some friends had told her that her parents had suddenly been deported to P. without having been given a chance to see her. It is all horrible, horrible—no mere description can adequately portray the awful suffering of these unfortunate people, whose only crime is that they are Armenians.
If a few of the men have had revolutionary ideas, I am convinced that the vast majority of them have had no more idea of rising against the Government than have their helpless wives and children. The suffering we see is utterly unlike anything confronting the Americans in Constantinople. Sad as is the lot of many of the poor soldiers, they at least have the comfort of kindness and sympathy, and the realisation that the enemy is sharing the same lot. But these people are being deliberately done to death at a sufficiently slow pace to allow their oppressors the opportunity of choosing out such of their women and their goods as they care for and getting all their money away from them before they die. Dr. and Mrs. D. went through the massacres of '94 and '96, and they and Miss H. and I have been through two revolutions, one massacre and two wars since then, but we all agree that we have never seen anything like this. Another
[page 430] TOWN OF Q. REPORT FROM DR. E.
outrageous side of it is that many of the fathers and brothers of these women and children are in the Army, fighting the country's battles. Such was the case with the dying child that was brought to the clinic this afternoon, and with another who will probably be in the same condition soon.
In addition to the medical work, we have begun distributing bread and fruit at the hospital twice a day, and a few quilts to those who are most needy. But this is very inadequate, and we hope to get the Government's permission to keep a large number of the sick m the city under our supervision with a couple of Armenian physicians to assist us. Many of the people had heard of the offer of transportation to America some time before I came here, and sigh that it might be realised. Unless political circumstances allow of their speedy restoration to their homes or their bona fide establishment in new places, transportation to America seems their only hope, or else the nation will be annihilated, and that very soon......
[page 431] TOWN OF Q. LETTER FROM DR. E.
Since my writing to you last the situation has changed considerably, although the general need and suffering remain. The whole encampment near the railway has been cleared out and sent on, with the exception of some tents belonging to families with contagious cases, such as diphtheria, scarlet fever, etc., which are being attended to by the Beledié physician. There remain, however, a very large number of people in the city, some say as many as 20,000, who are still permitted to stay here—probably through bribes to the police, friends in the Government, etc. Although the above number may be an exaggeration, one sees crowds of Armenians everywhere in town, and we have the same crowd of about 500 every day to feed, and more patients coming to the clinic than we have time to see.
Soon after the great deportation that preceded the arrival of the new Vali, Miss H. and I drove out to PP. Han, the first station on the railway towards P., just to follow up the crowd, as a large number had been driven off on foot with the expectation of taking the railway later on. PP. Han is about three hours from here by carriage, and, even so near to Q. as this, we found 100 people sitting and lying about the station in utter destitution. They had been there three days ; most of them had eaten up all the provisions they had and looked haggard and emaciated— veritable famine victims such as one sees in pictures of what occurs in India. On leaving Q. they had been promised food along the way, and the gendarmes there left, saying " geledjek," but the fact was that they had had no provision whatsoever made for them. The train from Q. came along while we were there, and most of the people dragged themselves to the carriages and endeavoured to get on, but were pushed back by the gendarmes, partly because they had no tickets and partly because there was no room ; so the poor people turned back bitterly and hopelessly to where they had been sitting or lying about the station. There is a village an hour or two away from the station, and a Turkish baker had driven to the station to sell bread, but as there was no money to buy, the grown-up people looked at it from the distance, while the little gaunt children drew near to stare at it wistfully. I bought enough to give each person there a loaf, and many declared that it was the first food they had had for three days. Some of the people there were intelligent and educated— their sufferings were even greater than those of the villagers, who were more accustomed to hardship. There were two women there desperately sick, with puny babies tugging away at the breast and getting nothing, their pathetic cries mingled with the groans of the mothers in physical and mental anguish. Among the hundred people there were not half-a-dozen tents, and these improvised and of the flimsiest description. All the rest of the people were lying out in the open, day and night, many without
[page 432] TOWN OF Q. LETTER FROM DR. E.
even a blanket or quilt. Half-a-mile from the station I found two old women who were crawling about on hands and knees, too weak to walk ; they had been carried off on a wagon, ostensibly to go to a village, but, once out of sight of the gendarmes, the driver had dropped them in the field and hurried away. All without exception looked forward to certain death by starvation, nor could we see any other future for them. A few miles further on, we found a little heap of clods that had been apparently piled together and then scattered, and near it a bundle of rags full of a child's bones. The skull, with the scalp still clinging to it, was lying a yard or two away. Evidently there had been a hasty burial, and the dogs had come and torn the grave to pieces and devoured the body. That same day we found another dead body by the roadside—an old woman wrapped in a torn quilt ; also a woman about 40 years old sitting alone by the road, miles away from any city or village, with feet bare and swollen, almost pulseless, and evidently crazed from terror and exposure, muttering something about Turks who were coming to cut her throat, about her people who had left her behind, and so forth. A little further on, lying beside an empty wayside stable, we found an old woman, half-naked, pulseless, muttering in low delirium and with only a few hours to live. We rifted her into the old stable, covered her with an old quilt that we found near her, and drove back to the city, weighed down with the thought of the awful suffering that is going on all over the country, especially to the south-east of us, of which we see such terrible examples at our very doors.
Our new executive is affable and pleasant enough, but is hand and glove with the clique here and impresses me as insincere. After pushing the deportation vigorously for a few days, things have quieted down again, and the Armenians in town are having their hopes revived, although we see nothing to ground them upon. The hunger and want in the city are increasing ; to-day we fed over 600. It is blessed work, even if it seems to have no future for the recipients. A lot of the exiles are well qualified to earn a living, but the police will not allow them to work.
Next time you write, I should be interested to know if the case of Vartouhi, whose sisters from Gumuldjina were abducted, was taken up by the Bulgarian Ministry.
A side-light on the rate of extermination of the Armenians is thrown by a glance at mortality statistics in our hospital, which I have been studying lately. In ordinary years the average mortality from all causes is about 4 per cent. This year, among 500 to 600 soldiers we have taken in, it has been about 6 per cent., the increase being doubtless due to the lowered vitality of the soldiers in general. The mortality among Armenians—exiles —who have been admitted to our wards has been over 30 per cent., and this in spite of the fact that we have taken in only the ordinary run of maladies and that there has been no epidemic ! The nation is being systematically done to death by a cruel and crafty method, and their extermination is only a question of time.
[page 433] TOWN OF Q. FURTHER LETTER FROM DR. E.
Profiting by a medical call to Bozanti to see the family of a railway employee, I have at last had a chance which I have been waiting for for some time, namely, to investigate the conditions to the south-east of us. The journey there and back was very tedious and disagreeable ; the locomotives burn only wood, and the trains take just about twice the ordinary time to cover the distance. About every three or four hours the train has to stop to load wood on the tender, and when it comes to a steep grade the train has to be divided into two, the locomotive taking up half of it and then returning for the other half. There is still transportation of Armenians going on, but most of the movement is in the other direction, great numbers of raw Arab recruits being brought from Syria and the Hauran and sent on to Eski Shehr and Constantinople. The men are of the wildest type, thinly clad, many of them having neither shoes nor stockings. They suffer greatly from the cold, which is already becoming severe, and are treated with great brutality by their officers, whom I saw beating and stoning and cursing them all along the way.
Leaving on Sunday, the 21st, I spent the next day at P. There were about 2,000 exiles there, of whom about a third had permission from the Government to remain on account of being artizans or, in the cases of women and children, of being members of soldiers' families. The remainder were more or less under the ban, and were dragging out a wretched existence dodging the police, but preferring such a life to the fate of being sent on into the mountains to starve. The artizans above-mentioned were receiving a loaf of bread a day from the Government and being forced to work for nothing ; also the soldiers' families were receiving rations, but in no case sufficient. I heard many stories of how the Armenians had been refused transportation by train, and had been forced to hire wagons at exorbitant rates, ten liras and more from P. to Tarsus, or else had been driven off on foot, leaving most of their belongings behind them. I saw great piles of baggage heaped up at the station, at least five or six hundred pieces, that had been abandoned, and was told that probably there had been three thousand in all. Most of this property had been confiscated as " metrouk " (abandoned) and had been partitioned among the officials or sold, while a good deal had been stolen by the Turks in the town. About a hundred children had been abandoned on account of sickness or of their being too young to walk. The Turks had taken all but about twenty of these and adopted them as Moslems, and I found the remainder of them in the care of a poor Armenian woman, who with the help of some of the Armenians in the town was trying to look after them. They were all in a dark, wretched room, about
[page 434] TOWN OF Q.
nine by twelve feet—miserable specimens of humanity they were. Seven of them in that room actually looked sick, and all of them pinched and pale and insufficiently clothed. The kind-hearted woman in charge was not only nursing a baby of her own but actually trying to make her small supply of milk suffice for two of the littlest refugees as well, who were sick and for whom there was no cow's milk to be had. Being in such wretched condition they were not much in demand, but from time to time, she told me, the Turks would come round to see if there were any worth taking off, especially girls. The Government was doing absolutely nothing for these children.
Deportation in P. was still in progress, about a hundred wagon-loads of people having been driven off a few days before I arrived. One of the parties, consisting of husband, wife, two boys and one girl, had been set upon near BE. by robbers. Upon some resistance being offered by the man, the whole party was stabbed to death, the little girl of six years having first been foully outraged. This story is authentic, and the Government is now making investigation and promises to punish the " guilty " when they are found.
Near the station I found about two hundred people who had been driven out of the town, and were crowded into a couple of abandoned and tumble-down houses, in filth and misery indescribable. I started to look at the sick, but gave it up as a bad job, as almost all were sick and no medicine would make them well as long as they were obliged to live under such conditions. There were a few tents spread outside on the frozen ground, and the condition of the people in them was about the same as that of those in the houses. In the evening, when I took the train, some of the people were trying to buy tickets, when I saw an officer deliberately pulling them away from the window and beckoning to Turks to take their places and to their friends to crowd about the window, apparently with the intention of delaying the Armenians so that they should miss the train, which now takes passengers only once a week. I managed to crowd in and buy tickets for four of them, the officer meanwhile telling the rest of them that there were no tickets for them that night. Fortunately the train was so late that I think all must have eventually gotten tickets. This in itself is a small incident, but is a sample of the continual nagging and harassing that is going on when there is no opportunity to do something worse. The regular resident Armenians of P. have for the most part been allowed to remain, through the goodwill of the Kaimakam, but are, of course, subjected to constant nagging. They are frequently invited to become Moslems, and even J. Effendi, who is a Protestant, is nagged by one of the Turkish officials, who is trying to get his youngest daughter to marry him. All Armenians there are in great anxiety and fear, and I could see that they were nervous about being seen with me, so that I had some difficulty in seeing
[page 435] FURTHER LETTER FROM DR. E.
and hearing what I wanted. In Q. they seem to take a great deal of comfort in our presence in the city and in being able to apply to us in a way that does not excite suspicion. Also, some of the police are our friends and refrain from making trouble.
Going on to Bozanti, I found only about 250 refugees. These were scattered along the long valley that leads towards Tarsus, and were altogether the most wretched of the exiles that I have yet seen. They are the remnants of the vast encampment that has been there during the past months, and are all too poor to hire any conveyance to Tarsus, eighteen hours away, while their women and children are too feeble to attempt the journey on foot. About two-thirds of the people had wretched tents of some description, and the rest had no shelter at all. They had sold what had not been stolen from them, and many were half-naked. All were famished and wretched, with despair written on their pinched and haggard faces-; a large number were sick, and I counted five corpses in half-an-hour. Of the latter, two were still stretched out in the tents, one was being buried, and two had been thrown out by the roadside. There is no available shelter for these people in Bozanti, even if they had permission to use it. The Government sends some bread to them from time to time, but with no regularity. Most of them were villagers, but some from good families. I found a pretty young girl with her mother in one of the tents, whom I recognised as having seen in Q. The girl had been in danger of being abducted by the police while here, so her mother had hurried her on to Bozanti ; but there the money gave out, and they had nothing left but some scanty bedding, a few dishes, a little clothing and three medjidias. Beside their tent were two others, whose occupants, like them, were people of some breeding and refinement, but in similar destitution, and with only women and children in all the three tents. In another tent I found a young girl who had been carried off by the gendarmes but rescued by the station employees at Bozanti. I was told that she had been a bright and attractive girl, but when I saw her she was thin and emaciated and had become idiotic. The valley was strewn with graves, and many of them had been torn open by dogs and the bodies eaten. I was told that considerably over a thousand people had died at Bozanti, and about the same number at P.— how many thousands all along the way from Constantinople to Mesopotamia, no one can tell. People coming from that region say that not one person in ten ever reached Zor, and that those people who have gotten there have nothing but starvation before them. From the statements of railway officials and others I should think that not less than 500,000 people must have passed through Bozanti.
At P., in addition to distributing some money, I left 30 liras to be spent for the people by J. Effendi and the Armenian
[page 436] TOWN OF Q. FURTHER LETTER FROM DR. E.
Beledié physician there (a first-rate and very capable fellow), paying especial attention to the waifs above mentioned. At Bozanti I bought a donkey-load of bread and distributed it to the refugees, gave out a considerable amount of cash in small sums, hired several camels and horses that were then available to take some of the people on to Tarsus as soon as possible, and left 20 liras with my host to hire wagons next day and send on more of the people (wagons there can now be hired quite cheaply). If we get word that they reached Tarsus safely, I think we can arrange to send on the rest. Tarsus is at least warmer and better in every way than the bleak mountains among which they are staying now, and we can only hope that things may take a turn for the better before they are driven into the desert. The Vali here is now very friendly, and assures us that at least all Protestants will be allowed to remain here and will not be molested, but that others will be sent off soon to the towns (kazas), though not to the villages. We all breathe easier with the chief of police and his cronies now no longer in Q.
[page 437] KONIA. ARMENIAN WITNESS.
Immediately after the recall of the Vah, Djelal Bey, who had left the exiles' tents with tears in his eyes, more than 80,000 Armenians—men, women and children—were driven away from their tents and directed towards the south, beaten along with whips and clubs. It was a heart-rending sight. The poor people, who were already in rags, had to abandon what blankets or clothes they possessed and start on foot. Parents had lost their children, women were looking for their husbands, but the wild gendarmerie flogged without mercy all those who cried or entreated. The tents were full of corpses, which dogs were devouring. More than thirty people died daily from hunger and cold. All along the railway line from Konia to Karaman, Eregli and Bozanti (the rail-head), hundreds of thousands of Armenians were herded along by the gendarmes. Tired and hungry, they begged bread from the passengers and the railway officials. The few families that had managed to remain in Konia at the cost of great sacrifices, have also received the order to leave the town. The Government has published a report on alleged crimes committed by the Christians, and especially by the Armenians, against the Moslems. By such means it deliberately exasperates the Turks more and more. On the journey the number of deaths goes on increasing.
* Name of writer withheld.
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114. BAGHDAD RAILWAY : DIARY OF A FOREIGN RESIDENT* IK THE TOWN OF B., ON A SECTION OF THE LINE ; EDITED BY WILLIAM WALTER ROCKWELL, ESQ., PH.D., AND PUBLISHED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF (1916).
30th June, 1915.
The skies are dark here, and people have been in and out all day—these of all classes, and every one with the same question: " What of the night ? " The news from BV. was not encouraging. A few influential Turks here want to help, but dare not. Some women went by carriage to see an influential man and his family in a vineyard ; were well received. Each had her part ; —— was assigned that of shedding tears, but I do not think she did so alone. It has been like a funeral here. Several families have been notified to be at the station with all their members and their beds on Monday next, when they would be told their destination. P.'s brother and Q. head the list ; the others are poorer people. They are working for a week of grace in which to settle business affairs. Isn't it awful—and all are asking: " Who next ? " Such drawn and tired faces as we have seen all day.
Half the town want to " store " things here, to be ours if they never return ; rugs, coppers, etc.—but we may be blown up, who knows ?
Times here are lively. In B. people get two orders at once, and then ask which one they must obey ? Conditions in BV. are hard. The Vali's brother is against the Armenians. People of all sorts and conditions come from morning until night to ask questions and to weep. The conditions here are far from cheerful.
Several families go to-morrow (only one of them a Protestant). The Government says they will go a few at a time. I doubt their sending widows, and, for all their positive assertions, I still feel it in my bones that there will be modifications of the order. People come from morning till night to talk.
I am giving up the room downstairs for a store-room —— says he has 5,000 liras' worth of mortgages and farms, etc., which he can't store. The R.'s have eight times as much out among the ruling race. I suspect that leading families are to go first. Every one trembles.
We had a comfortably full chapel both morning and evening, and two beautiful sermons suitable for the time. Many Greeks and Gregorians present. The Greeks are being sent from Constantinople. —— urged upon the people their going away in a right spirit, remembering the blessings of the past, opportunities
* Mother of the " Miss B." of Sect. I., Doc. 8.
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as a nation for education, business and church life, to pay their debts to Moslems, to help the poor among them, to go as evangelists in faith and courage. It was comforting and inspiring.
Eighty-three men from Kaisaria (without their families), the most influential man in the Protestant community among them, came to-day en route for Aleppo. They say that spies are everywhere now-a-days. What days these are, and when will they end ?
Last night the city districts across the river were notified to be ready. The Commissaire (chief of police) is registering families all over the city, and says they are to go at least fifty at a time and that vigorous measures will now be taken, etc. These are miserable, anxious days for everybody.
One does not know what to say of the situation here. There seemed to be a holding up yesterday. Some who went to be registered were sent home to wait till called for. In the meantime, Arab women were going through—— Agha's district (where word had been given the previous evening to pack up and leave), and were buying all sorts of things, rugs, coppers, etc., at one-third or one-fifth their value. Things worth a lira* sometimes went for a mejidiaf, etc. There is trouble in every family.
I've been out in the market getting cloth so as to give sewing to some poor women, and also to get the news. I met the Armenian priest at S.'s store. He is pretty certain there is no help for the people. However, he is going through his congregation and making out a list of all the lame and halt and deaf and blind and old and soldiers' families, to lay before the Government as exceptions. He had a hope of gaining their case.
A few wretched people from Zeitoun are in the churchyard. They were left behind somewhere, but are now here, and I hear that one woman was likely to be confined last night.
Streets are full of Moslem women of the common sort, buying freely, talking loudly, and, I fear, getting goods " charged." Merchants do not seem glad to see them.
Some say that Armenians in BV. have paid £10,000 (Turkish) to buy exemption ; others say forty families are to leave soon.
I made several calls and saw many in the streets. It was pitiful to find the gateways blocked by crowds of Moslem women demanding what there was for sale ; even pushing into houses after hearing there was nothing for sale. In one house of our congregation is a woman with three little children. The mother had sold her few decent clothes, bought coarse flour and made
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a pile of the hardest and poorest thin bread I've seen for many a day. She needed her clothes badly enough, but, with hungry children, she needed money more. I gave her a medjidia. T.'s wife was at home selling and packing, quite cheerful, but says T.'s old mother mourns the years of labour given to the vineyard, etc. (naturally). Her neighbours had torn some sheets of corrugated zinc from their roofs to sell. The Government forbade it.
Many people actually left on Monday, so that in all over forty families have gone, and many more are to go next Thursday. Our baker went on two hours' or less notice. He left bread in the oven, and gathered up wheat that was drying. He has a lame wife and three children, and his half-blind mother went also. There seems to be no help. (N.B.—The poor baker died soon on the way.)
A few families have left BV. and several men have left AE., with families to follow. The poverty and distress of the people is heartbreaking. The poor family from BM., which you gave help to and who have seven daughters, are to go next Monday. This intense heat has pulled the eldest daughter down so that she is confined to her bed. I fear it is tuberculosis. Doctor says so. The family will ask delay. There isn't much chance of their getting it.
—— (the Moslem doctor) examines people and says to the sick, " You can go," and gives a stimulant. The mother of the R. brothers is to go on Monday. I hope we can keep the boys here.
I've bought a cow for which I paid three liras (fifty-four shillings). Others would not have paid so much, but it means food and money for the journey.
Wages in the factory have been cut down, as people are willing to work at any price if they can escape exile.
Over forty more families left this morning. Most of them were very poor, and it was a sad sight to see them going to the station on foot, loaded down with small children, jugs, baskets and bundles. They were not laughing or talking at all ; some of the children were crying ; better off people went to the train by carriage, but looked no happier. Thus far soldiers' families seem to be exempt.
Sixty men from AE. were on the train as exiles this morning ; more are to follow. The train runs now for military and exile service from AE. I can't even write letters, my mind is so upset.
School is still an open question. The Turks are taking note of stock in shop to-day.
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One of the boys, about twelve years old, was returning home to the vineyard and was robbed and wounded a little. After the murder of young—— last week, we are thankful this boy was not seriously hurt. The incident shows the spirit of the times.
Miss—— has just come from AE. She saw the AE. People being loaded into carts sent by the Government, and carriages hired by themselves, to be deported. Seventy families came as far as B. in the night. —— 's family got a day longer. George was summoned in the night to help them. He went on horseback, and hasn't returned. Many are to leave here on Monday.
Such a full day ; people coming, coming, a constant stream, to deposit things, to get eye-medicine, salve for sores, to ask for help, to beg all manner of things, shoes, money, tents and so on. I did something for each asker, but not much. There was a mad rush to the station—one stream of vehicles of all descriptions, carrying goods to the station, families on top in most cases. The regular passenger train pulled out sometime before — o'clock. The live freight was so overfull that many were left until to-morrow—among them —— , who has been ill for weeks. Their goods are at the station, and their house locked and sealed ; —— is lying under an empty goods-truck, very weak and miserable.
The people in BW. are now threatened with deportation. There are scarcely half-a-dozen mature men left in the village since the last massacre, but plenty of women and children.
A group of people from Talas have come. The women have been robbed, and some of the girls in their party had suffered terrible things. The party had sons in military service, and others in business in America.
Miss—— went to BV. to-day. We saw the people (put by themselves) off for AG. Besides many B. people we know, there were fifty carriages full of AE. people, including Protestants and many big Armenian families. Seventy families came up a few days ago. —— 's shop was shut up and sealed so quickly that they got only three packages out before the Government was on hand to close up. Little —— even left his coat in his haste. Between 800 and 900 liras' worth of goods were in the store. Their house is new, and newly furnished. They were to have come on last night, but six days more were granted, because of new-born baby and wife's being too weak.
There has been an uprising of Armenian runaways and Kurds, and a meeting in conflict near Marash. A few soldiers killed. This event has disturbed still more the minds of the Turks. The sea-coast towns are to be emptied in two weeks, they say. Turks will go to the mountains.
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There seems to be a holding up of deportation to last until after Bairam at least, and we hope longer. There is no hold up for AE.
Dr. L. arrived here from AC. He said there was no place as quiet and safe as this region ! In AC. a thousand families have been told to leave, and among them are the families of all their teachers. So there was no hope of opening the College unless something very unexpected occurred soon. There have been extensive massacres all through that region, at Malatia, Besné, Adiaman, etc. The Marash region is all afire—runaways stirring up to wrath and revenge being taken by massacre, the Turks wanting an excuse to do their worst. Nothing has been heard from Marash for some time. He knows of special trouble and killing at Fundadjak (five hours from Marash). Ourfa region is all excitement, people being exiled and made away with en route. He mentioned many killed that we knew.
One thousand Zeitoun people have died in exile, they say. The city is full now with exiles from Adapazar and that region. The son of —— of Talas died in Osmania. The family were exiled, and the hardships of the journey were too much for the professor.
Many Zeitoun people are wandering about the streets of B. They say they were driven from the Konia Vilayet. They reported to the Kaimakam here, who said he had no orders about them and would not meddle, they might do just as they pleased. (Later they were driven on). Dr. L. appealed personally to U. Pasha for permission to do general relief work. He was flatly refused. U. said the Government would attend to its own business. Dr. L. says they will do so, and are doing so in regions to the east, and people are dying in many ways ; it's a part of the policy.
Dr. L. says the Arabs at Der-el-Zor (where Armenians are exiled) are kindly, and treat women well. The climate is hot and dry, and warm river-water is all there is to drink, and he fears cholera and typhoid, as bodies are continually seen floating down the rivers (massacre victims).
Crowds of Zeitoun people, sent away from Sultania, went on to-day towards BM. I fear they go to death. Between 600 and 700 have died already of hardship and illness.
I made some Bairam calls on Turks and was well received, but one cannot be at all sure of the heart of any one these days.
Have just returned from the priest's house. I went to get a girl's story. The girl was a day-pupil of Miss V.'s* at X., about fifteen years old. Officers came to many houses and said they were to be exiled, but school-girls were to be excepted, and
* The " Miss A. " of Sect. XI.
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they took the girls " back to school ; " not to their own school, though, but to a Turkish barracks, where they were on exhibition and chosen as the property of certain officers. This girl was claimed by one ; the others, over a hundred, were carried in automobiles to Constantinople. Fifteen of them were this girl's friends. This girl was brought here with exiles from somewhere. She refused the attentions of the officer claiming her. The priest heard of her and went to investigate. The officer complained that not one smile had she ever given him. The priest said she would never smile on him, and left him to think over-night on the matter. In the morning he said he didn't want her against her will. The priest secured the girl, and the officer has gone his way on to Aleppo. The priest can't afford to keep her, and I have written to the BV. school about her. Perhaps we here can raise 10 liras for her and send her to school. She left her mother two months ago. Her family were exiled at once.
W., X.'s sister and her child were here an hour ago, en route from the north (where the Zeitoun people were first sent). She tells dreadful tales. What will be the end of it all ? The streets are full of exiles begging for bread. —— and relatives are all here, and Partani's sister. I am buying—— 's bed to lighten her luggage and fill her purse. She tells of babies left to die on the roadside, as the mothers could carry them no longer. Many tell me this.
A young man from —— was just in. Two hundred and fifty families are en route from there. The city swarms with exiles, and many are at—— .
Our —— boys and families are also in the procession. The Nigdé people have begun to move on from here. The Adapazar people are à la franca and some of them very rich. Thirty more carriages from AE. last night.
Robberies are common, and girls carried off, and three Armenians killed at BY.
The stream of arrivals continues to flow into B. The poor people on foot simply drop down utterly exhausted, and many are dying of hunger and fatigue. Three quite large children died in the Gregorian churchyard yesterday ; another is badly off with smallpox ; a middle-aged man there is dying—— Hodja has been over there this morning to minister to him. A crowd of those ill were carried off to the Turkish hospital yesterday. —— and his family are still here from BV., waiting for the rest of his family—mother and brothers and their families. The advance line has arrived and tell him that his relatives lost almost everything from their homes. Plunderers threw their goods from the windows, and partners carried off rugs, bedding, &c. and some money they had. His brothers had been in prison.
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I helped yesterday a blind man (led by his wife) who had been driven from Bor ; also an old woman with snowy white hair who was hungry and penniless. I got Y. to make up a dress for a young woman, and Z. made a skirt for another young married woman whose clothes were in tatters. A crowd are in our churchyard. I sent them soap for a wash and bath, and shavings, &c, for fuel.
There has been a pause in the B. deportation, waiting for the present crowd to pass on. AE. people are again on the move. I hear that only five Armenian families will be left in AE. One is the dealer in iron for the Railway, and the others are employed for business dealings with the Government.
People here are dealt with very gently as compared with treatment received in northern districts and to the east.
B. presents a strange sight these days with literally thousands of strangers in our streets. These are from places all the way up to Adapazar, and they are of all types and degrees of civilisation, " some in rags, and some in tags, and some in velvet gowns." The church was full this morning.
I went by the Gregorian church yesterday and looked into the yard. Such a sight ! Such a pandemonium of noises ! In that crowd there are deaths every day, from disease, hunger and exhaustion. I sent money to help a few, but any help any of us can give is but a drop in an ocean of misery.
According to a wire from our Ambassador, Catholics and Protestants are excused from exile. It seems to be true. I suppose our people in AG. will be called back now. Now for the red tape to get a full and correct list of the Protestant villages and strangers !
I have written for some relief money. One poor Zeitoun woman is too ill to travel, but her husband has been driven on— forced to leave her here. She is at the church. Some people are in our churchyard, some in hans, and some have rented houses in which to rest for a few days. The Zeitoun people are " free," but are driven from place to place. They are, as a whole, ragged, dirty and covered with vermin, and hungry, and afraid of the purpose of the Government.
There is danger of cholera breaking out. Two died in the churchyard who had symptoms of it. The Government is trying to drive away the poorest of the people, chiefly Zeitoun people. They say there is cholera in Aleppo. Was there ever a year like this ?
A lot of people from Nigdé were called from our service by the police to start on, this afternoon. The Government is not quite pleased over the new order for exemption of Protestants and
[page 445] DIARY OF A FOREIGN RESIDENT.
Catholics. The Zeitoun people are watched closely, and one must not help them.
—— 's letters do not—cannot—exaggerate it. The state to which things have come is indicated by—— 's very casual remark last night : " Well, to-morrow we'll first go out and see who has died."—" I hope that woman in the church has."—" I wish that child would, but I'm afraid she won't."
Yesterday and the day before, most of those in the open— those absolutely too sick to move along being excepted—were driven out with whips. We fear they have but gone to BZ. (outside the town), to suffer still worse. Many have been even deprived of their bedding, or at least separated from it and forbidden to hunt it up. There is never a day but some die. —
Those able to hire houses have escaped from being driven on, by keeping out of sight, as the driving is done with much cruelty but no system.
In our church a very à la franca family from —— had an addition the day they arrived. They have been given a few days' grace.
I've been out to BZ., where conditions are still worse than in the city. Saw one old woman by the road, dying. People walked by her, lying out in the blazing sun, with scarcely a look. The sight is too common. Thousands are out there, and no shade or shelter of any kind, except such as the people themselves can manage to put up.
I go out with —— every day, and come back sure I've merely had a nightmare.
Streams of Yozgad people have come, and the word is that 10,000 are en route from Constantinople. Some Broussa people are here now—new-comers. Yesterday was a hard day, heartbreaking. I went to the train, a long one, to see over forty B. families off, and others besides. Among the B. people were—— , —— , AB., and his sick wife, taken from bed to go and almost carried aboard the train. —— 's sister and husband, her daughter Akabé and Akabé's family go on Saturday, and our dear, kind, and just neighbour—— and his family. He looked white with pain at going, and his wife, well, she could talk, though far from happy. Notwithstanding—— 's assurances that —— and—— could remain as boarders, their boys were taken. The Kaimakam evidently had not been notified by the Vali. The Kaimakam seems to have a heart, but is hard pressed, I am told, by the rich and influential Turks in B., who are making life a burden for him.
Another of those wretched old women without money, food, friends, or bed, and ill, has finished her pilgrimage. Three remain
* Note by Dr. Rockwell :—This letter, by a man, is inserted here to reflect the situation from a man's point of view.
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in the Gregorian yard, and three men in the same hopeless condition. I do not see how they live. The old women raise a cry for water when I go. I sent—— with iced " iran " yesterday and to-day. The woman with a fever is better. Two girls, without beds, are now ill. I am getting excelsior beds filled for them to-day. The woman with a burnt arm has moved on. The train was to go to CD. From where will they be fed there ?
Things get worse and worse. Mr.—— called last night and told me he saw a telegram from U. Pasha, saying : " Let not the Americans and consuls be seen helping the exiles or appearing with them at stations and public places."
—— "s name is down to go to-morrow. We are doing our best to save him. I've sent to Mr. AG. for help, and may have to go myself to the Kaimakam.
—— went to AE. yesterday with a letter to Mr. AG. About our boys and teachers. I've little hope from that quarter, but give him his opportunity. Mr. AH. put —— 's case before the Kaimakam strongly yesterday, as our man. The Kaimakam is well disposed, but is under heavy pressure to send every Armenian without exception. Anyway, I may be able to save his family.
Crowds of people went to-day. There was only one passenger carriage, for which people paid. All others were crowded en masse into goods-trucks, and driven with whips like so many cattle. One old man, who had spoken and prayed beautifully in our morning prayer meeting yesterday (a Protestant from Yozgad), turned, when the police called him, to call his townsman. He was struck with a stone and asked if it was his business to call people. He quietly accepted the rebuke.
At BV. the proclamation was given out on Saturday from the housetops all over the city that every Armenian of whatever church would leave BV. without delay.
No notice has been served on the Protestants here as yet. The Kaimakam accepted it that they were to remain. He has assured me that he will do his best to save—— as our teacher. But this morning—— was demanded by the police and taken from our yard to be sent at once. You may believe it, he was fairly wild. Said he couldn't go at once, hadn't change of clothes, and he would write and ask for a few days' time. I signed his petition, and a boy ran to the Government while a policeman led him to the station. George gave him money and collected three blankets for him. The Kaimakam sent me greetings and the message that he would attend to the matter. At the station—— was arrested for coming so late, and thus attempting to be left behind. The train was still there but full, and he was rushed
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back and put into prison ! I suspected that the Kaimakam was taking this way to secure delay, and I still think so. Hence I made no enquiries, intending to do so after the train pulled out. Some time later,—— returned all out of breath, saying he could stay until Wednesday, and he drove up to the vineyard to give his wife details. She knew nothing of the proceedings of the day.
Yesterday, after service, a nice looking middle-aged woman came to me with her arm in a sling and said it pained her, and could I do something for it. I took her upstairs and called Nurse—— , and we found a stab in her shoulder and dressed it. She said she and her son were stabbed by bashi bazouks on the way. To stop the bleeding they had stuffed in earth, and this and the blood had caked well.
I took Nurse—— to see some other patients. The old woman who usually raises herself and asks for water seemed unconscious, and didn't answer even when I said " cold water " and put a few drops on her head. She was alive but getting cold, and died in the night. This morning the man in the corner was also released. He came only two days ago, and was in a most wretched condition.
The other night I found the woman with short grey hair just able to reach up and call : " Water, water." An Armenian woman lifted her head and she drank, but fell back at once, and we found her hands icy cold, and saw she was dying. We straightened out her rags, and got an old pillow under her head. She was soon released.
This morning Nurse—— and I started out again for the churchyard. Sitting opposite the gate was the fat police commissioner who is so cruel. He called out to "Madame ——." I stopped and explained that we were only looking after a woman who had met with an accident on the road. But I was told decidedly that I was not to go into that yard again ; that the Government would send food ! doctors ! medicines ! and foreigners were not to help or interfere. So I returned.
So many young women and pretty girls come to me here and in the street, asking with tears what is to become of them.
The woman and her son with sword-cuts came this afternoon. No one was around, so the gate-man let them in and I dressed the wounds. Both doing well. I gave new bandages and other needfuls, so that, if they could not come again, or were driven on the road to-morrow, they could care for the wound. They were most grateful. They are Protestants, and intelligent ; were robbed of money. I gave them a little for food—shall give more if I see them again. AC. got through ; no trouble about keeping boys in the yard now. Little fellows run for all. Massacre near Yozgad ; the air heavy with the odour of unburied bodies. Some of
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our travellers came by them. Dr. BB.* and the hospital still in X. when the exiles left, but things in a bad way generally. AD.'s postcard tells of AG. BM. seems quiet at present.
The woman I was forbidden to nurse got over here yesterday leaning on a friend and by help of a cane. George was here, and we gave the heel a good dressing but couldn't get all the broken bone out. The flesh is getting clean. The poor old woman cried and said she was hungry. I fed her and gave her a little money. She hopes to get here again to-morrow, but she suffers excruciating pain when her foot rests on the ground.
There will soon be a lull, I suppose, as the town is getting well emptied, not a Christian butcher left, and only two Moslems.
The pot is boiling harder and harder. Another special train takes nearly all left of B. Armenians.—— and his family were all hustled off this morning as " a dangerous man who had tried to help exiles." Talas people are here now (came last night) and tell sad tales.
R. feels helpless and it looks that way now, as things get worse every day. The powers that be have their own plans and listen to no one. On all sides one hears a wail of distress. Every man, woman, and child has come from —— , leaving most of their possessions behind. Even their preacher is here, and is ordered to " move on." I have " cabbaged " the three little fellows who were our pupils, and am keeping them here, as they were of our last year's boarders. No one will look them up. Two little orphan boys (new ones) were offered from these, but I couldn't take them. They too must " move on."
To what straits all are now reduced ! The woman with a broken heel was here this morning and I took two more pieces of crushed bone from it. She bears it well. I think the loose pieces are about all out now. I did it up and made a sort of burlap outer covering as a protection. I gave her some food, for she cried and said she was dying of hunger. Only the helpless (and a few others) are now left here. The —— people are at the station. Crowds of people have been shipped off. AE. people are coming now. Poor —— is still in prison.
We are nearly crazy with difficulties. I hardly think A J. will be sent, but no one knows. AF. is here from BV., and reports that some five days ago a telegram was received from some German " sefer " ordering that every Armenian should stay where he was, whether at home or abroad. In BV. the Government hurried people off all the more, but now the order has leaked out, and probably is known here, as there was a lull to-day, and the Vali passed last evening to —— and saw the Kaimakam en
* See Section XI.
[page 449] DIARY OF A FOREIGN RESIDENT.
route. —— and —— are to leave on Thursday. Circassians are to take the houses of the common people, and officers those of the wealthier ones.
—— reports that Marash Protestants were called back-almost compelled to come. In Adana it looks as if the deportation were an alternative for a massacre. Exiles are not wanted anywhere.
No Christians left in Bor. Zeitoun was burned by the runaways and Fundadjak is in ruins ; also Deré Keui and another neighbouring village.
BV. is being emptied of every Armenian, and the foreigners fear they also may have to go, if there is an invasion on the coast. I do not think conditions are as bad here.
Dr.—— says we must not think of Red Cross work as the Society has not the funds, but must let the Turks run things on their own responsibility. The Turks expect an invasion and are sending their families away.
Some rich Samsoun people here to-day. —— says that the three families among whom she is are to go to Konia.
A stranger priest died here yesterday from exhaustion and heart-break, etc.
No exiles to-day ; there seems to be a calm for a few hours.
Life is getting fuller and fuller of problems here. Affairs here are in a very critical condition.
[page 450] TOWN OF AE.
(a) Undated Report.
Two days ago an order was received here for the immediate deportation of the entire Armenian population of AE., consisting of about 1,800 souls. Yesterday nearly 300 persons were sent to —— , and to-day many more have been ordered to be ready to leave. In anticipation of their deportation, the Armenians are selling all their non-portable goods for a song. Sewing machines sold for 1 1/2 medjidias, iron bedsteads for a few piastres, and so on. The Government is allowing each person only a few metaliks per day for food, and transports only a little baggage. The present destination of the deported persons is—— . Apart from their actual distress and misery, the terror of these people is indescribable. Stories of the massacre of thousands of Armenians in the interior now reach here. Some of these appear to be well founded, but I presume that you have been fully informed of what has transpired in the regions of—— .
(b) Report dated 11th September, 1915.
Thousands of additional Armenians from the North have arrived here and been transported to the Aleppo region. Six thousand have been deported from the city of Adana, without the exception supposedly given to Catholics and Protestants. The congestion of people at the various stations en route caused terrible suffering and hardships to the refugees. The authorities no longer appear disposed to grant exceptions in favour of teachers and pupils of American schools, and, despite intervention, St. Paul's College at Tarsus has been suffering in this respect.
(c) Report dated 22nd September, 1915.
This report opens with the mention of a fear among the Ottoman authorities at AE. that the Allies were about to make a landing there, and proceeds as follows :—
Naturally one of the first results of the above fear was a general rush to complete the deportation of Armenians from Adana. The number of Armenians sent from that city now totals about 25,000, and this is in addition to the many thousands coming from the North that pass through. The misery, suffering and hardships endured by these people are indescribable. Deaths are innumerable. Hundreds of children are constantly being abandoned by their parents, who cannot bear to see them suffer or who have not the strength to look after them. Many are left by the roadside, and cases of their being thrown from railway-carriage windows are reported. Petty cruelties by police and officials increase the sad plight of these people. Conditions in this vicinity are reported to be moderate in comparison with those between Osmania and Aleppo, where the congested masses
[page 451] REPORTS FROM A FOREIGN RESIDENT.
and lack of facilities render the problem of feeding and transporting these people an impossible task. Protestant and Catholic Armenians continue to be deported, and the same measures are also applied in towns like Hadjin.
d) Memorandum dated 27th September, 1915.
I submit herewith the following general details to supplement my various reports concerning the deportation of Armenians and the circumstances responsible for the sufferings and the deaths of many of these people.
(1) The lack of proper transportation facilities is the most mportant factor in causing this misery. The long distances
not covered by railways, between Tarsus and Bozanti on the north and Osmania and Radjou (near Aleppo) to the south, and the lack of carts and carriages, compel many to go afoot. The carts are of the most primitive kind and are usually loaded with the effects of the travellers, on which they must find places to sit. Only those with ample means can afford the luxury of carriages, which for from two to four days' journey cost from £6 to £20 sterling. In addition to the payment of their ' fare,' the travellers are frequently ' held up ' for more money by the driver or accompanying gendarme ; otherwise they are obliged to descend and walk. While in general the Government furnishes carts, these are far from sufficient, and the railway transportation has in most cases had to be paid for by the people themselves. The local section of the Baghdad Railway was a great convenience, nevertheless, in furthering the march of the exiles, but unfortunately of late its services have «been considerably required for military transport purposes, and the Armenians have consequently had to find other means of conveyance or else to walk.
(2) While formerly cases of violence to Armenians were rare in this district, of late there have been flagrant cases of highway robbery, while reports of violations of women and girls are more numerous and apparently well founded. Forced conversions, which were formerly only reported from the interior, are now taking place here. Thus in Adana the many Armenian orphan girls whose parents were killed in the massacres of 1909 were told either to leave or become Moslems. A small number had the courage to leave, and were without any shelter or refuge. I had advised the American missionaries not to take in any too great number of outsiders into their institution, as they would thereby jeopardise their present inmates. Miss K., however, secured the consent of the authorities to place these girls in private homes, which she found for them after much difficulty. The work of the German mission at Harounia on behalf of Armenian girls must also be commended in this connection, and the benevolent attitude of His Excellency the Governor General towards girls'-schools must also be pointed out, with the hope that the same will continue.
[page 452] TOWN OF AE.
(3) No attempt has been made of late to solve adequately the problem of feeding the Armenian exiles. This is true both of the stations along the route of deportation and in the larger cities. Thus at Osmania, where for the past few weeks there have always been from forty to sixty thousand people, the food supply is scarcely enough for one-third of that number, so that all are either on short rations or without any food at all. This is responsible for the illness which prevails and the numerous deaths which are reported. This it is which compels mothers to abandon their children, whom they cannot bear to see suffer or are too weak to carry along.
Apart from the general distress brought upon the persons deported, the effect of the deportation measures is becoming more and more apparent on the economic situation of this province. The great majority of the stores and bazaars are shut, and it is difficult to purchase one's daily requirements. Most of the merchandise belonging to Armenian merchants is in sealed stores. The creditors of Armenian merchants were in most cases able to secure the value of their outstanding credits through taking goods in payment. As the greater part of the business of this district in most lines was in the hands of Armenians, the consequences of their deportation are only too apparent for the future of the Adana Province.
(e) Report dated 30th October, 1915.
The stream of deported Armenians from the north continues unabated. Recent arrivals were in a terribly wretched condition, and their sufferings from insufficient food and raiment are indescribable. The police and other officials also prohibit their receiving assistance, which makes it evident that slow death is the ultimate fate of the majority.
Three rabid members of the Union and Progress Committee of Adana were expelled from that city because of the manner in which they were hounding the Armenians out of the city. It is stated that they even planned incendiary measures against Armenian houses and buildings, and among others reported to have been endangered was that of the American Mission. At the request of the missionaries, I directed the attention of the authorities to the matter.
The new law concerning the real estate and personal property of deported persons is being carried out in a manner which, I fear, will leave little if anything for the Armenians. Their houses are being inhabited by mouhadjirs, officials, etc., at ridiculously low rents. The goods of deported merchants are being taken possession of by commissions designated for this purpose, and abuses of all kinds are reported. The President of the Commission, Ali Seidi Bey, was recently removed—some say because he opposed the manner in which these measures were being applied.
[page 453] REPORTS FROM A FOREIGN RESIDENT.
Baron Oppenheim, who has been with Djemal Pasha, passed through here recently on his way to Constantinople. German reading-rooms, where all manner of literature in favour of the German cause is displayed and distributed, have been established in AE. and Adana. The Baron is their principal supporter. The German school in Adana was also re-opened recently with great éclat. The personal relations between the American missionaries and their German co-workers in this province are of the most cordial nature.
(f) Report dated 4th November, 1915.
The stream of deported Armenians from Anatolia to Syria continues. In enumerating the various distressing elements connected with this movement, I perhaps failed to point out the terribly insanitary conditions that prevail in the vicinity of the camps or stations near Tarsus and Osmania. These result in part from their overcrowded state, but largely also from the imperfect burial of the corpses of the victims of starvation and disease. The mortality among the deported is daily increasing in percentage, and, when the rains set in, the toll will be frightful. The feeding problem is completely neglected, and will become worse in the future, as even the regular population is beginning to suffer because of a scarcity of wheat. The crop this year was only one-half the normal yield, and there were enormous shipments to Constantinople for the army.....
(g) Report dated 6th November, 1915.
An order has been received by the authorities to stop further deportations of Armenians. This, however, refers only to the few thousand natives of the towns of AE., B., and Adana, who have hitherto escaped deportation. On the other hand, the many thousands in the camp near B. were ordered to be sent away to make room for others coming from the north. An important Imperial Commissioner has also arrived to investigate the abuses of local officials regarding the taking of the personal property of the deported Armenians.
His Excellency Von der Goltz Pasha arrived at B. to-day en route for Aleppo, where he is to make his headquarters, according to reliable reports.
[page 454] TA URUS AND AMANUS PASSES. LETTER FROM DR. L.
116. THE TAURUS AND AMANUS PASSES : EXTRACTS FROM A LETTER, DATED ALEPPO, 5th NOVEMBER, 1915, FROM DR. L., A FOREIGN RESIDENT IN TURKEY, TO MR. N. AT CONSTANTINOPLE ; COMMUNICATED BY THE AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR ARMENIAN AND SYRIAN RELIEF.
As I telegraphed to you from Adana, I had an uneventful journey. I felt that I could not give a whole week to Konia ; no one met me at the train, and I did not have time to go up to the city. Very large numbers of Armenians on the road, suffering hunger, nakedness and cold. Very many of them very old or very young, or delicate women on foot, carrying burdens, or children, etc., etc. I saw Miss M. and left £100 (Turkish) with her. She can use it for the refugees en route between Osmania and Entilli. Aleppo is the great centre from which to do relief work, and the need is beyond estimate. The 150,000 or more refugees will, I suppose, pass on through here ; they are now on the road between Konia and Aleppo. There are large numbers in the city now, and large numbers within reach from here. Trustworthy native friends are able to use considerable sums—in small amounts. The Katholikos is being sent from here to Jerusalem......
There is, unfortunately, no way to reach effectively the many thousands en route—10,000 between Bozanti and Tarsus ; 20,000 at Tarsus ; 40,000 between Osmania and Islohia (which is now the head of the rail) ; and 40,000 to 50,000 at Kotmo. I saw Djemal Pasha this morning about our teachers at Aintab. He seems friendly, and told me to ascertain whether any order had been sent from the Ministry of the Interior and the Vali of Aleppo. I will let you know if anything comes of it.
P.S.—Typhus has broken out here.
[page 455] AMANUS PASSES. SWISS RESIDENTS IN TURKEY.
(a) Report by Fräulein M., dated 16th November, 1915.
I have just returned from a ride on horseback through the Baghtché-Osmania plain, where thousands of exiles are lying out in the fields and on the roads, without any shelter and completely at the mercy of all manner of brigands. Last night, about 12 o'clock, a little camp was suddenly attacked. There were about 50 to 60 persons in it. I found men and women badly wounded—bodies slashed open, broken skulls and terrible knife-wounds. Fortunately I was provided with clothes, so I could change their blood-soaked things and then bring them to the next inn, where they were nursed. Many of them were so much exhausted from the enormous loss of blood that they died, I fear, in the meantime. In another camp we found thirty or forty thousand Armenians. I was able to distribute bread among them. Desperate and half-starved, they fell upon it ; several times I was almost pulled down off my horse. A number of corpses were lying about unburied, and it was only by bribing the gendarmes that we could induce them to allow their burial. Mostly, the Armenians are not allowed to perform the last offices of love for their relatives. Dreadful epidemics of typhoid-fever broke out everywhere ; there was a victim of it practically in every third tent. Nearly everything had to be transported on foot ; men, women and children carried their few belongings on their backs. I often saw them break down under their burden, but the soldiers kept on driving them forward with the butt-ends of their rifles, even sometimes with their bayonets. I have dressed bleeding wounds on the bodies of women that had been caused by these bayonet thrusts. Many children had lost their parents and were now without any support. Three hours' distance from Osmania two dying men were lying absolutely alone in the fields. They had been here for days without food or even a drop of water, after their companions had continued their march. They had grown as thin as skeletons, and only their heavy breathing showed that there was still life in them. Unburied women and children were lying in the ditches. The Turkish officials in Osmania were very obliging ; I succeeded in obtaining many concessions from them, and many hardships were remedied. I obtained carriages to pick up the dying people and bring them in to town.
(b) Report by Fräulein O. on a visit to the exiles' camp at Mamouret, 26th November, 1915.
We saw thousands of tiny low tents, made of thin material. An innumerable crowd of people, of all ages and every class of society ! They were looking at us partly in surprise, partly with the indifference of desperation. A group of hungry, begging
[page 456] AMANUS PASSES.
children and women were at our heels : " Hanoum, bread ! Hanoum, I am hungry ; we have had nothing to eat to-day or yesterday ! "
You had only to look at the greedy, pale, suffering faces to know that their words were true. About 1,800 loaves could be procured. Everybody fell greedily upon us ; the priests who were charged with the distribution of the bread had almost to fight for their lives ; but it was by no means sufficient, and no further bread was to be had. A crowd of hungry people stood imploringly before us. The gendarmerie had to keep them back by force. Suddenly the order for departure was given. If anybody was slow in striking their tent, it was torn down with the bayonet. Three carriages and a number of camels were held in readiness. A few wealthy people quickly hired the carriages, while others less well-to-do loaded a camel with their things. The wailing of the poor, the old and the sick filled the air : " We can't go any further, let us die here." But they had to go on. We were at least able to pay for a camel for some of them, and to give small change to others in order to buy bread at the next station ; clothes, sewn at the Mission Station in Adana, were also distributed. Soon the immense procession was moving on. Some of the most miserable were left behind (others rested there already in the newly-dug graves). As many as 200—destitute, old or sick—are said to have waited there for help to come. The misery was increased a hundredfold by the severe rain and cold that had set in. Everywhere convoys left dying people in their track—little children and invalids perishing. Besides all this the epidemic was spreading more and more.
(c) Report by Fräulein M. on a visit to the exiles' camp at Islohia, 1st December, 1915.
It had rained three days and three nights ; even in our houses we were acutely sensible of the cold and damp. ' As soon as possible, I set out on my way. About 200 families had been left behind at Mamouret. They were unable to proceed through exhaustion or illness. In this rain the soldiers, too, felt no inclination to rouse them up and drive them on, so they were lying about in what might have been a lake. There was not a single dry thread left in their ragged bedding. Many women had their feet frost-bitten ; they were quite black and in a state for amputation. The wailing and groaning was horrible. Everywhere there were dying people in their last agonies or dead bodies lying in front of the tents. It was only by " bakshish " that the soldiers could be persuaded to bury them. It seemed a comfort to them when we came with dry clothes ; they could change their things and get some bread and small change. Then I drove in a carriage along the whole route to Islohia. Though I had seen much distress before, the objects and the scenes I saw here defy description. A frailly-built woman was sitting by the
[page 457] SWISS RESIDENTS IN TURKEY.
roadside with her bedding on her back, and a young baby strapped on at the top of it ; in her arms she had a two-year-old child— its eyes were dim and it was at its last gasp. The woman had broken down in her distress and was weeping in a heart-breaking way. I took her with me to the next camp, where the child died ; then I took care of her and sent her on her way. She was so grateful. The whole carriage was packed with bread. I kept on distributing all the time. We had three or four opportunities of buying fresh supplies. These thousands of loaves were a great help to us. I was also able to hire some hundreds of animals to help the poor people forward. The camp at Islohia itself is the saddest thing I have ever seen. Right at the entrance a heap of dead bodies lay unburied. I counted 35, and in another place 22, in the immediate neighbourhood of the tents of those who were down with virulent dysentery. The filth in and around these tents was something indescribable. On one single day the burial committee buried as many as 580 people. Men were fighting for bread like hungry wolves. One saw hideous scenes. With what timidity and apathy these poor people often stared at me, as though they wondered where this assistance came from ! For some weeks now many camps have been provided daily with bread. Of course, everything has to be done as unobtrusively as possible. We are so thankful to God that we may at least do something.
(d) Letter from Fräulein M. to Mr. N., dated 13th December, 1915, on the way to Aleppo.
I should have written long before this, but during these last weeks I have been more on the road than at home, and the work in the camps was often so urgent that I could not find time for anything else. I suppose you have had, in the meantime, the receipt for the 200 liras you sent me. Many thanks for the quick response. I only wish you could see these poor people yourself ; you would get an impression of the absolutely dreadful need and distress that these camps conceal. It is simply indescribable ; one has to have seen it oneself. So far I have had no difficulty whatever ; on the contrary, the officials here are most obliging, and grateful for everything we are doing for the poor people. You will find some reports enclosed which Miss O. copied for you as well ; they will give you an idea of what we are doing here. Up to the present we have worked in four camps, twelve hours distant. We were often able to distribute about 10 to 20 liras' worth of bread a day ; besides this, we gave flour, clothes and nirra to many sick people, to help them on the long journey. Sometimes it happened that in some places we did not have nearly enough bread—in such cases we provided the people with money to buy bread at the next bakery along the route.
Now we are on our way to Aleppo, and Miss O. will stay there some weeks, D.V., to prepare everything for another
I I 2
[page 458] AMANUS PASSES. SWISS RESIDENTS IN TURKEY.
journey to Der-el-Zor. I intend to come back soon, since there is still much work to do on the Mamouré-Islohia route, and it seems to me that we ought not to give up the work among the distressed so long as any of them are left in this place, for if we did they would absolutely die of starvation. Judging by our recent experience, we shall need about 300 to 400 liras a month. Dr. L. told me to send you word about this, because I should get the money from you. It would be better not to stop the work for lack of money, because the poor people would suffer by it. If, however, you think that less money ought to be spent, or that the whole work should be given up, please send me a telegram in time, so that we may stop doing it. If not, will you please be so kind as to send me the amount. To-day I have asked you by wire to send me 400 liras—200 for Mamouré and 200 for Islohia-Hassan-Beyli.
I hope you are well. We got a message that Dr. L. is down with typhus. I hope that God will soon give him new strength. Fräulein 0. and I both send you our best wishes.
[page 459] Smyrna—Damascus—Smyrna. Itinerary of a Foreign Traveller.
I left here (Smyrna) on the 16th September, 1915, for Aleppo. I first saw the Armenians at Afiun Kara Hissar, where there was a big encampment of people—probably 10,000—who had come down from the Black Sea. They were encamped in tents made of material of all descriptions, and their condition was deplorable.
The next place where I saw them was at Konia, also a large encampment. There I saw the first brutality. I saw a woman with her baby separated from her husband. He was put on our train, while she was forcibly held back and prevented from getting on to the train. At the next place, where there were said to be about 50,000, their condition was terrible. They were camped on both sides of the railway track, extending fully half a mile on either side. Here they had two wells from which they could get water, one of which was a very long way from the encampment, the other at the railway station platform. At daybreak the Armenians came in crowds—women and children and old men— to the well to get water. They fought among themselves for a place at the well, and the gendarmes, to keep them in order, flogged several people. I saw women and children repeatedly struck with the whips and sticks in the hands of the gendarmes. Later, I had occasion to pass through the camp on the way to the town of Osmania, and had an opportunity to see the condition of the people there. They were living in tents, like those above described, and their condition was miserable. The site of the encampment had been used several times over by different convoys of Armenians, and no attempt at sanitation had been made, either by the Turks or by the Armenians themselves, with the result that the ground was in a deplorable condition and the stench in the early morning beyond description. At Osmania they were selling their possessions in order to obtain money to buy food. One old man begged me to buy his silver snuff-box for a piastre, in order that he might be able to buy some bread.
From Osmania I travelled by carriage to Radjou, and passed thousands of Armenians en route to Aleppo. They were travelling in ox-carts, on horseback, on donkey-back and on foot—the majority of them children, women and old men. I spoke to several of these people, some of whom had been educated in the American Mission Schools. They told me that they had travelled for two months. They were without money and food, and several expressed their wish that they might die rather than go on and endure the sufferings that they were undergoing. The people on the road were carrying with them practically all their household possessions, and those who had no carts or animals were carrying their goods on their backs. It was not unusual to see
[page 460] SMYRNA—DAMASCUS—-SMYRNA.
a woman with a big pack wrapped up in a mattress and a little child of a few months old on the top of the pack. They were mostly bare-headed, and their faces were swollen from the sun and exposure. Many had no shoes on, and some had their feet wrapped in old pieces of rag which they had torn from their clothing. At Entilli there was an encampment of about 10,000, and at Kotmo a large encampment of 150,000. At this place, adjacent to their encampment, were Turkish troops, who exacted " bakshish " from them before they would let them go on the road to Aleppo. Many who had no money had had to stay in this camp since their arrival there about two months before. I spoke with several Armenians here, and they told me the same stories of brutal treatment and robbery at the hands of the gendarmes in charge as I had heard all along the road. They had to go at least half-a-mile for water from this encampment, and the condition of the camp was filthy. From Kotmo on to Aleppo I witnessed the worst sights of the whole journey. Here the people began to give out in the intense heat and dearth of water, and I passed several who were prostrate—actually dying of thirst. One woman, whom I assisted, was in a deplorable condition, unconscious from thirst and exhaustion ; and further on I saw two young girls who had become so exhausted that they had fallen on the road, and lay with their already swollen faces exposed to the sun. The road for a great distance was being repaired and paved with cracked stone ; on one side of the road was a footpath, but many of the Armenians were so dazed from fatigue and exposure that they did not 'see this footpath, and were walking—and many of them bare-footed—on this cracked stone, with their feet bleeding as a result of it. The destination of all these Armenians is Aleppo. Here they are kept crowded together in all available vacant houses, hans, Armenian churches, courtyards and open plots. Their condition in Aleppo is beyond description. I personally visited several of the places where they were kept and found them starving and dying by the hundred every day. In one vacant house which I visited I saw women, children and men all in the same room, lying on the floor, so close together that it was impossible to walk between them. Here they had been for months, such of them as had survived, and the condition of the floor was filthy. Many were lying in their own excrement !
The British Consulate was filled with these exiles, and from this place the dead were removed almost every hour. Coffin-makers throughout the city were working late into the night making rough boxes for the dead whose relatives or friends could afford to give them decent burial. Most of the dead were simply thrown into two-wheeled carts, which made a daily round to all the places where the Armenians were confined. These carts were open at first, but afterwards covers were made for them. An Armenian physician whom I know, and who is treating hundreds
[page 461] ITINERARY OF A FOREIGN TRAVELLER.
of these suffering Armenians who have become ill through exposure on the journey and through hunger and thirst, told me that there are hundreds dying daily in Aleppo from starvation and as a result of the brutal treatment and exposure that they have undergone on the journey from their native places. Many of these suffering Armenians refuse alms, saying that the little money so obtained will only prolong their sufferings and that they prefer to die. Prom Aleppo those who are able to pay are sent by train to Damascus ; those who have no money are sent by road to the interior, towards Der-el-Zor. In Damascus I found conditions practically the same as in Aleppo, and hundreds are dying every day. From Damascus they are sent still further south into the Hauran, where their fate is unknown. Several Turks whom I interviewed told me that the motive of this exile was to exterminate the race, and in no instance did I see any Moslem giving alms to Armenians, it being considered a criminal offence for anyone to aid them.
I remained in Damascus and Aleppo about a month, leaving for Smyrna on the 26th October. All along the road I met thousands of these unfortunate exiles still coming into Aleppo. The sights I witnessed on this return journey were more pitiful than those I had seen on my outward journey to Aleppo. There seems to be no end to the convoy which moves over the mountain range from Bozanti south. Throughout the day, from sunrise to sunset, the road as far as one can see is crowded with these exiles. Just outside Tarsus I saw a dead woman lying by the roadside, and further on I passed two more dead women, one of whom was being carried from the roadside to be buried by two gendarmes. Her legs and arms were so emaciated that the bones were nearly through her flesh, and her face was swollen and purple from exposure. Further on I saw two gendarmes carrying a dead child between them away from the road to where they had dug a grave. Many of these soldiers and gendarmes who follow the convoy carry spades, and as soon as an Armenian dies they take the corpse away from the roadside and bury it.
The open spaces round the hans en route are used as camping-places for the Armenians, and the ground is littered with refuse and human excrement, the stench from which is unbearable. I saw many people who had been in good circumstances forced to lie in this filth. Their clothes were rags and many had no shoes. The mornings were cold and many were dying from exposure. There are very few young men in these convoys ; the majority are women and children, accompanied by a few old men over fifty years of age. At Bairamoglu I talked with a woman who had become demented from the sufferings she had undergone. She told me that her husband and father had both been killed before her eyes and that she had been forced for three days to walk without rest. She had with her two little
[page 462] SMYENA—DAMASCUS—SMYRN A.
children, and all had been without bread for a day. I gave her some money, which she told me would probably be taken from her before the day was over.
Turks and Kurds meet these caravans as they pass through the country and sell them food at exorbitant prices. I saw a small boy about seven years old riding on a donkey with his baby brother in his arms. They were all that was left of his family. Many of these people go for days without bread, and they become emaciated beyond description. I saw several fall from starvation, and only at certain places along this road is there any water. Many die of thirst. Some of the Armenians who can afford it hire carriages. These are paid for in advance, and the prices charged are exorbitant. At many places, like Bozanti, for example, where there is an encampment of Turkish soldiers, there is not enough bread for these Armenians, and only two hours from Bozanti I met a woman who was crying for bread. She told me that she had been in Bozanti for two days and was unable to obtain anything to eat except what travellers like myself had given her. Many of the beasts of burden belonging to the Armenians die of starvation. It is not an unusual sight to see an Armenian removing a pack from the dead animal and setting it on his own shoulders. Many Armenians told me that, although they are allowed to rest at night, they get no sleep because of the pangs of hunger and cold. These people march all the day through at a shuffling gait, and for hours do not speak to one another. At one place where I stopped on the road for lunch I was surrounded by a crowd of little children, all crying for bread. Many of these little tots are obliged to walk barefoot along the road, and many of them carry a little pack on their backs. They are all emaciated, their clothes are in rags and their hair in a filthy condition. The filth has bred millions of flies, and I saw several babies' faces and eyes covered with these insects, their mothers being too exhausted to brush them away. Disease has broken out in several places along the road, and in Aleppo several cases of typhus fever among the Armenians were reported when I left.
Many families have been separated, the men being sent in one direction and the women and children in another. I saw one woman who was with child, lying in the middle of the road crying, and over her stood a gendarme, threatening her if she did not get up and walk. Many children are born on the way, and most of these die, as their mothers have no nourishment for them.
None of these people have any idea where they are going or why they are being exiled. They journey day after day along the road, with the hope that they may somewhere reach a place! where they may be allowed to rest, and I saw several old men carrying on their backs the tools of their trade, probably with the hope that they may some day settle down somewhere. The road over the Taurus Mountains is, in places, most difficult, and often
[page 463] ITINERARY OF A FOREIGN TRAVELLER.
the crude conveyances, drawn by buffaloes, oxen and milch cows, are unable to take the grades, and are abandoned and overturned by the gendarmes into the ravine below ; the animals are turned loose. I saw several carts, piled high with baggage and with a number of Armenians on the top of that, break down and throw their occupants on to the road. One of the drivers, who was a Turk and who had collected his fare in advance from the people he was driving, considered it a huge joke when one woman broke her leg from such a fall.
There seems to be no cessation of the streams of these Armenians pouring down from the north, from Angora and the region round the Black Sea. Their condition grows worse every day. The sights that I saw on my return journey were worse than those on my outward journey, and now that the cold weather and winter rains are setting in, deaths are more numerous. The roads in some places are almost impassable.
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