THE TREATMENT OF ARMENIANS IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE
XV. CILICIA (VILAYET OF ADANA AND SANDJAK OF MARASH).
Cilicia occupies the south-eastern corner of Anatolia, overlooking the Gulf of Iskanderoun (Alexandretta), and falls into two sharply contrasted regions—the fertile, malarious coastal plain of Adana, traversed by a section of the Baghdad Railway, and the hill-country inland to the north-east of it, where the lines of Taurus are broken by the upper courses of the Sarus and Pyramus (Sihoun and Djihoun) and spread out fanwise into a maze of high valleys and mountain blocks.
Until the spring of 1915, Cilicia was one of the chief centres of the Armenian race in Turkey, and there was no region, with the possible exception of Van, which they succeeded in making and keeping so thoroughly their own. The Armenian Dispersion in north-eastern Anatolia and the suburban districts round the coasts of Marmora, numerous and wealthy and influential though it was, still constituted no more than an urban class, and even in the towns was usually in a minority. The Cilician highlands, on the other hand, were sown thick with Armenian peasant communities—small but prosperous hill towns and villages, of which the most important were Hadjin and Zeitoun in the north, but which stretched in an unbroken chain from the Taurus to the southern spurs of the Amanus, until, at Dört Yöl, they touched the north-eastern comer of the Mediterranean.
The Cilician Armenians were mainly shepherds and husbandmen, but they were also one of the most civilised and progressive sections of the Armenian race. Schools, both Armenian and American, had been established in the mountains, and the mountaineers were in close contact with Adana, Tarsus, Mersina and the other ports and cities of the Adana plain, where commerce and industry were almost entirely in the hands of the Armenian element—an element constantly reinforced from the reservoir of Armenian population in the highlands.
The Cilician Armenians seemed destined to play an important part in the future development of the Ottoman Empire. Their country was of peculiar strategical and commercial importance, for it was to be traversed by the main artery of the Empire, the Baghdad Railway, in the most vital section of its course, where it has to negotiate two mountain-barriers and approach most nearly to the Mediterranean coast. And meanwhile the Armenian population itself was here steadily increasing in numbers, while in almost every other part of Turkey it had been receding under the continuous repression to which it had been subjected since 1878. This increase was the more remarkable because Cilicia had been especially visited by the last outbreak of massacre, which occurred in 1909.
All this, however, only rendered the Cilician Armenians more obnoxious in the Ottoman Government's eyes, and the war gave it the opportunity it coveted for rooting them out. A universal deportation of all the Armenians in the Empire may or may not have been contemplated before the breach between the Turks and Armenians at Van, in the middle of April, 1915 ; but, as far as Cilicia is concerned, there is no doubt whatever that the scheme was devised and put in train before any of the events at Van occurred. Fighting began at Van on the 20th April ; the first Armenians had been deported from Zeitoun on the 8th April, twelve days before, and by the 19th a convoy of them had already arrived in Syria (Doc. 138). The Cilician deportations, at any rate, must therefore have been planned at least as early as March, and probably earlier still.
And there is one special feature about the execution of the scheme in Cilicia which makes it evident that it was carried out deliberately and thought out far ahead. Immediately the Armenians were evicted fro?n their villages, their houses were assigned to Moslem refugees. We have occasional evidence of the same practice, during June, in the Vilayets of Erzeroum and Trebizond ; but in these cases the Moslem intruders, where we can trace their origin, generally prove to have been Turks or Kurds from the adjoining districts on the east, who had just evacuated their own homes in consequence of the first Russian occupation of Van. Their installation in Armenian houses was apparently extempore and conceivably only provisional. On the other hand, the " mouhadjirs " brought by the Ottoman Government to Zeitoun, Hadjin and the other towns and villages of the Cilician highlands, were all of them Moslem refugees from Europe —from the Roumelian Vilayets ceded by Turkey in 1913, as a result of the Balkan War. They had been on the Government's hands for over two years, and during all that time they had remained stranded in Thrace or along the Aegean littoral. But now they had been transported from these western fringes of the Empire to the other extremity of the Anatolian Railway, and by the 8th April, 1915, they were in readiness to occupy the homes of the Armenians in Cilicia immediately their rightful owners had started on their road to exile. This is clear proof that, at any rate in Cilicia, the deportation was not only planned systematically, but planned a long time in advance.
Its execution began at Zeitoun in April, and was extended to all the highland villages in the course of May and June. In the cities of the plain and the coast, on the other hand, it did not become drastic till the first week in September—a tacit avowal that the official pleas of Armenian disloyalty and strategical necessity were a pretext hardly intended to be taken seriously even by their authors.
The Zeitounlis were deported in two directions—half of them to Sultania (see Documents 123 and 125) in the Anatolian Desert, and half to the Mesopotamian Sandjak of Der-el-Zor (see Document 145). The exiles at Sultania were subsequently removed to Der-el-Zor to join the rest, and the later convoys seem all to have taken the south-eastward road. The deportation was conducted by the
gendarmerie with the same brutality as elsewhere, but the Cilician country is free of nomadic Kurds, so that there was here less wholesale massacre on the way. On the last stages of their journey to Zor the exiles were harassed by the Arab nomads of the steppe but these are a milder race than their Kurdish flours. The chief alleviation of the Cilicians' fate was their geographica position. The distance they had to traverse was comparatively, and they only began to die in large numbers after reaching their destination.
[page 468] ARMENIAN COLONY IN EGYPT.
119. CILICIA : ADDRESS (WITH ENCLOSURE), DATED 3rd JULY, 1915, PROM THE ARMENIAN COLONY IN EGYPT TO HIS EXCELLENCY LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIR J. G. MAXWELL, COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF HIS BRITANNIC MAJESTY'S FORCES IN EGYPT.
(a) Address from the Armenian Colony.
We addressed ourselves recently to your Excellency to obtain your authorisation to send three emissaries to Cilicia, in order to inform ourselves of the true situation in that country.
While we are profoundly grateful to your Excellency for your courtesy in granting this authorisation, we now desire to inform you that trustworthy information, furnished by official persons who have arrived from Syria in the course of the present week, shows that the situation in Cilicia has undergone a complete transformation. On this account the despatch of the emissaries is, for the moment, postponed ; the actual state of affairs calls for altogether different measures.
Cavalliere Gauttieri, the Italian Consul at Aleppo, and certain foreign residents at Alexandretta and Adana, as well as others from Bitlis and Harpout, who travelled across Cilicia and all arrived here last Monday on board a neutral vessel, give the following account of what has occurred :—
The town of Zeitoun, which was exclusively inhabited by Armenians and is famous for its heroic struggles against the Turks, took warning by the manifest intention of the Ottoman Government to take advantage of the favourable moment created by the war for effecting the extermination of the Armenian race, and revolted several months ago. Dört Yöl and Hassan Beyli (a large Armenian village half way between 'Marash and Dört Yöl) were preparing to take the same action. The Turkish Government tried to subdue Zeitoun by military force, but all its efforts remained fruitless ; its troops were decimated, and had to beat a retreat several times over. At that stage of affairs the local authorities, by order of the Central Government, employed the following stratagem : they threatened the Kathohkos of Cilicia, an old man of 75 years, that if the Zeitounlis refused to capitulate they would have the whole Armenian population massacred, while they assured the Zeitounlis that, in case they laid down their arms, they would be in no way interfered with. On the urgent recommendation of the Katholikos, the Zeitounlis, thinking that they were fulfilling a patriotic duty, laid down their arms to save their compatriots ; and the inhabitants of Dört Yöl and Hassan Beyli did the same thing for the same reason. Thereupon the Government treacherously proceeded to deport the inhabitants of Zeitoun and the afore-mentioned places en masse, and to replace them by Moslem emigrants from
[page 469] ADDRESS TO GENERAL MAXWELL.
Macedonia. At the same time they began to persecute the peaceful populations of the plains—those of Marash, Aintab, Sis and Adana, and so on—who are thus threatened now with imminent massacre. It is worth noting that the towns situated on the coast—Mersina, Alexandretta, Selefka and Kessab—continue to enjoy relative tranquillity. Notwithstanding all these persecutions, there are certain localities, scattered over the whole extent of Cilicia, where groups of Armenian fighting-men have entrenched themselves solidly in the mountains and are putting up an indefatigable resistance to the Turkish troops. Whenever they can, they leave their positions to go to the rescue of the defenceless people of the cultivated lands, always hoping that aid will come to them from abroad, and that, thus reinforced, they will be able to drive their historic oppressor from the country. The same hope is cherished by the whole Christian population of these regions, and one may say that the Moslems themselves are convinced that all this country will, before long, be occupied by the Allies.
That is the present situation in Cilicia, as it was unfolded to us by the official persons whom we have mentioned above.
(b) Resume of Travellers' Reports, enclosed with the Address.
My official informants are unanimous in asserting that the object pursued in Cilicia by the Turkish Government is neither more nor less than the complete extermination of the Armenian element. The philanthropic efforts put forward by the Italian and American Consular Bodies, with a view to preventing the execution of this sinister plan, have remained without fruit, since the mandate for destruction and massacre emanated from the Central Government itself. The Turks, with the Government officials at their head, everywhere declare openly that the extermination of the Armenian element in Turkey is for them one of the necessities of national salvation, it being understood that the Allies protect the Armenians, and that they afford a permanent pretext for foreign intervention in the country's affairs. The Governor of Aleppo, a fair and liberal-minded man, who is personally opposed to this criminal policy, has avowed it to the European Consuls, declaring that the military commanders have only executed faithfully the orders received from the Sublime Porte, and emphasising this in the case of Fakhri Pasha, who is the representative of Djemal Pasha, the supreme commander of the military forces in Syria and Palestine. Among the other official persons responsible for the atrocities that have been committed, they mention the Mutessarif of Marash and the Kaimakam of Zeitoun. Latterly Marash and Zeitoun have been consolidated into an independent Sandjak by order of the Central Government, and so the above-mentioned functionaries are no longer under the control of the Vali of Aleppo.
The German Consul at Aleppo, of whom we shall have more
[page 470] ARMENIAN COLONY IN EGYPT.
to say below, made an extremely significant declaration to the Consul of a Power which has since joined the Allies :—
" However painful and deplorable the condition may be to which the Armenians find themselves reduced, the Turkish Government could take no other course towards them, in view of the fact that they have everywhere cast in their lot with the enemies of Turkey."
Zeitoun.—The Turkish troops which marched against Zeitoun and presided, after the capitulation, over the deportation of the Zeitounlis, were commanded by German officers. The Turks have torn from their homes in this way all the inhabitants of Zeitoun, Furnus, Alabash, Geben and the neighbouring districts, and have sent them off in batches to Der-el-Zor, to Djibal Hauran, and towards various unexplored regions of the desert. The women have been sent to Konia, an exclusively Turkish district. In place of the Armenians they had installed at Zeitoun a number of Moslem refugees from Macedonia.
Marash.—This town was relatively tranquil till a short time ago ; now it is the scene of all kinds of atrocities and persecutions. Hundreds of Armenian families have been driven out and marched away, no one knows where. These atrocities have been committed in the presence and with the connivance of the German Consul at Aleppo, according to the testimony of a large number of Armenians which has been recorded by the European Consular authorities.
Hassan Beyli.—This unfortunate village, which had been already so cruelly tried during the Cilician massacres of 1909, has this time been destroyed root and branch. The inhabitants have been deported.
Dört Yöl presents the same tragic spectacle. Though there have been no massacres here in the literal sense of the word, the arrests and expulsions en masse continue without abatement. The story is already well-known of the German spy who came to Dört Yöl disguised as a British officer—how he incited them to revolt against the Turkish Government, and the arrests and partial massacre that came of it. The story of this piece of treachery is also confirmed by the Italian Consul from Alexandretta. The village of Dört Yöl, once so prosperous, is now plunged in frightful misery.
At Aintab, Sis and Adana the Armenians have so far been less molested and persecuted than elsewhere. The arrests are less numerous ; but sinister rumours are current, which are propagated by the Turks, and the terror of imminent butchery haunts the inhabitants of these towns, who are strong in numbers but absolutely bereft of all means of defence and of all protection against the danger of extermination by which they are menaced.
[page 471] ADDRESS TO GENERAL MAXWELL.
Ourfa groans under a Governor of the name of Haidar Bey, who as his own wife avows, has committed atrocities of all kinds wherever he has exercised authority. He is the notorious organiser of the butcheries at Mardin. The Armenian monastery at Ourfa has been confiscated by the authorities and transformed into an asylum for the British and Russian subjects who have been put under arrest in Cilicia.
The Turkish Forces.—The Turks do not dispose of military forces of any importance in Cilicia ; the troops they have there are not a permanent garrison, and their number is not constant.
[page 472] CILICIA.
The deportation began some six weeks ago with 180 families from Zeitoun, since which time all the inhabitants of that place and its neighbouring villages have been deported, also most of the Christians in Albustan and many from Hadjin, Sis, Kars Pazar, Hassan Beyli and Dört Yöl.
The numbers involved are approximately, to date, 26,500. Of these about 5,000 have been sent to the Konia region, 5,500 are in Aleppo and the surrounding towns and villages, and the remainder are in Der-el-Zor, Rakka and various places in Mesopotamia, even as far as the neighbourhood of Baghdad.
The process is still going on, and there is no telling how far it may be carried. The orders already issued will bring the number in this region up to 32,000, and there have been as yet none exiled from Aintab, and very few from Marash and Ourfa.
The following is the text of the Government order* covering the case :—"Art. 2nd. : The commanders of the Army, of independent army corps and of divisions may, in case of military necessity, or in case they suspect espionage or treason, send away, either singly or in mass, the inhabitants of villages or towns and install them in other places."
The orders of commanders may have been reasonably humane, but the execution of them has been for the most part unnecessarily harsh and in many cases accompanied by horrible brutality to women and children, to the sick and the aged. Whole villages were deported at an hour's notice, with no opportunity to prepare for the journey—not even, in some cases, to gather together the scattered members of the family, so that little children were left behind. At ti,3 mountain village of Geben the women were at the wash-tub, and were compelled to leave their wet clothes in the water and take the road barefooted and half-clad, just as they were. In some cases they were able to carry part of their scanty household furniture or implements of agriculture, but for the most part they were allowed neither to carry anything nor to sell it, even where there was time to do so.
In Hadjin well-to-do people, who had prepared food and bedding for the road, were obliged to leave it in the street, and afterwards suffered greatly from hunger.
In many cases the men (those of military age were nearly all in the Army) were bound tightly together with ropes or chains. Women with little children in their arms, or in the last days of pregnancy, were driven along under the whip like cattle. Three different cases came under my knowledge where the woman was delivered on the road and, because her brutal driver hurried her along, she died of haemorrhage. I also know of one case where
* See Doc. 83 and Annexe C. to the Historical Summary.
[page 473] LETTER FROM DR. L.
the gendarme in charge was a humane man and allowed the poor woman several hours' rest and then procured a wagon for her to ride in. Some women became so completely worn out and hopeless that they left their infants beside the road. Many women and girls have been outraged. At one place the commander of gendarmerie openly told the men to whom he consigned a large company that they were at liberty to do what they chose with the women and girls.
As to subsistence, there has been a great difference in different places. In some places the Government has fed them ; in some places it has permitted the inhabitants to feed them ; in some places it has neither fed them nor permitted others to do so. There has been much hunger, thirst and sickness and some real starvation and death.
These people are being scattered in small units, three or four families in a place, among a population of different race and religion and speaking a different language. I speak of them as being composed of familiet, but four-fifths of them are women and children, and what men there are, for the most part, are old or incompetent.
If means are not found to help them through the next few months, until they get established in their new surroundings, two-thirds or three-fourths of them will die of starvation and disease.
[page 474] TOWN OF BM.
Central Turkey has reached a crisis in its history. There are grave problems to face. In many parts the accumulated work of years has been washed away in a few weeks by the great and terrible flood of deportation, and we are again on bed-rock. We understand that, between the middle of May and the middle of June, 26,000 people were deported, and that the number is to reach 32,000. When I left BM., on the 14th June, Zeitoun had been practically emptied of Armenians. Only one, or perhaps two families, who were originally not of Zeitoun and who were in the employment of the Government and necessary to it, were left in Zeitoun, and even they were not allowed to live in houses, but were living in a church. The place is now occupied by Macedonian Moslem refugees. They began by cutting down the fruit trees, laden with green fruit, and using them for firewood, and by cutting down the green grain and using it for fodder. One man demanded the mule that had carried him there from the Moslem katerdji, who had been asked by the Government to convey the man to Zeitoun—or Yeni Shehr, as I think it is now to be called. When the katerdji naturally demurred, the man killed the katerdji and took the mule. So lawless are they that the Government seems afraid of them, and so leaves them strictly alone. As far as I know, at that date not an Armenian was left in Albustan and all its region, in Furnus and all its region, in Geben and all its region, or in Gourksoun and all its region (I don't remember the other places that have been swept clean), and Fundadjak and Deré Keui and all that region expected to move any day. Indeed, the Government says that the plan is that all Cilicia shall be entirely cleared, except for Sis, Adana and BM., where the serving class shall be left. Some officials say that all but about three hundred rich and influential families of BM. shall be left, but no one believes them and all from the highest to the lowest are preparing to leave. The same officials say that Sis and Adana will not be touched, but we know that some from there have been taken already. As you may know, Marash was this year made an independent " Sandjak," like Ourfa, and this has made this infamous work more easy. The Vali of Aleppo resisted all efforts at deportation in his district, but the day we left Aleppo we were informed by him that he had been removed to Konia, so by this time deportation is very probably in full swing in the Aintab field. When we were in Aleppo I saw some of the first one hundred families to be deported from Hadjin, and the rest of Hadjin were expected the day we left, or within the next few days. The man who has been deporting in Diyarbekir, and, worse, has been killing people by beating or scalding them to death—one person said: "He is killing them alive ! "—was
[page 475] FOREIGN RESIDENT.
transferred about the middle of June to Ourfa, with the evident purpose of letting him continue his work there. To go out into other fields, I might add that a private code telegram from Mardin received about the 24th June said that massacres had begun there.
Why is there this deportation ? There are many theories When the people asked, the answer was : " It is an order from Constantinople." One official, who is being worked nearly to death by this extra work of deportation, said one day : " It is all right for people in Europe to deport. They simply put people on a train and send them wherever they wish "—and much more along that line, which led us to believe that Germany has a hand in it. Indeed, we know that, when Turkish officials are» easing up on these poor people, German officials step in and make things hard.
Where are they going ? Some are being scattered, one or two families to a village, among Moslem villages, evidently with the idea of forcing them to become Moslems ; others are being taken from their mountain homes and are being driven across the desert towards Baghdad. German officers, who came into Aleppo one night on their way from Baghdad to Constantinople, said that they first met this weary train two days out of Baghdad, and that the road the thousands they had met were marching along was marked or outlined by the bodies of their dead.
Who are these people ? Women and children, tottering old men and babes. The men, twenty-one to thirty-five or forty years old, have practically all gone to the war, so these women are at the mercy of those in charge of them. Some soldiers are as kind to them as circumstances permit ; others farm the women out for the night to the men of the villages near which they camp, or march in themselves, as a bull might into a herd of cows. This is not guesswork, but well-known fact. Some women kill themselves by jumping into the rivers, to escape, but others, for the sake of their children, endure.
Some of the circumstances that make this deportation especially cruel are these. As a general rule village people get their new clothes in the autumn. Now they are expecting to go up into the mountains with their flocks, and so will wear out the old rags of last year's clothes and be ready for the new clothes after harvest. So, at best, they are very ill-provided for a journey. Not only this, but the Government takes special pains in many, if not most, instances to prevent their taking what clothes they have. The first to be summoned were some families in Zeitoun. Early one Saturday morning, as usual, the industrious housewives donned their old washing clothes and began their Saturday's washing. Without warning, all of a sudden, a terrible knocking was heard at many doors. In a minute the soldiers came pouring in, saying that the people in those houses were wanted immediately at the Government House. Not a moment was given to don
[page 476] TOWN OF BM.
dress or shoes, but, in night-clothes or washing rags, the mothers and a few fathers snatched sleeping children out of their beds, the women throwing a shawl over their heads as they ran. Of course, many children were left behind, and there are many pathetic stories of little boys and girls, eight or nine years old, stumbling along the road, hardly able from sheer weariness to walk, yet carrying their little baby brother or sister, because, as their mother was being taken away by the soldiers, she had said : " Look after baby and never leave him (or her)."
Geben's turn came later, so the people had heard of the deportation and gotten ready, although the Government assured them again and again that that district was not to be deported. Time went on, and no order came. The Government said : "Why will you not believe ? Why do you sit here waiting for that which is not coming ? See, your flocks are suffering for want of pasture. Be sensible, and go to the mountains as usual." Some brave ones started out, and nothing happened. So, in great joy, the flocks started for the mountains. One morning the women were putting into the tub the clothes that had got dirty during all those weary weeks of waiting, that they might go to their mountain places with clean clothes. Such was the need of washing that they wore the fewest clothes possible, that they might take everything nice and clean. Hardly an hour had passed, or at least a very short time, before some soldiers presented themselves to these women with the command " March ! " while others accosted those who had gone to the mountains with the flocks with the command " Leave all and march !" So they were forced to leave all their clothes in the tub and their flocks on the mountains, and march !
In Albustan, when friendly Moslems wished to buy things of the Armenians and so give them ready money for the road, the Government stationed soldiers in all the Armenian streets to prevent this, so all they could sell was what they smuggled out by the back door.
Another factor that adds horror to the situation is the fact that most of the horses, mules and donkeys have been taken by the Government for the use of the Army. So now the people have practically no animals to carry their own loads, and the Government can furnish few. Sometimes they force an Armenian from a distant village, who happens to have kept a poor old lame horse or two, to help transport people. He hears on the way that orders have come for the deportation of his own family. Of course, if he can steal away in the night to go to the help of his own family, he does so. Or the soldiers make a raid on some neighbouring Moslem villages and gather up the few donkeys that are left. Their owners know that, if these donkeys once reach some large centre, they will never see them again. So these poor people, who have been tramping along all day, must keep awake all night to keep the donkeys from being stolen by their owners,
[page 477] FOREIGN RESIDENT.
who are sneaking round watching their chance. So the mothers are obliged to walk and carry their little children as best they can. Some throw their little ones into the river or leave them under a bush by the road, that they may be able to manage those that are left. One mother threw one child in and jumped in with the other in her arms. The heart-breaking cry is : " Won't you take my daughter and save her from the horrors of the road % She was educated in your schools ; surely you can take her and save her ?" Or : " My little one, my darling ! Take her, take him ! How can I trudge on, day after day, over the rocks or the burning sands of the desert, and carry and feed and keep my darling ? "
There is not an Armenian family in BM., I suppose, but has given clothes and money and food, till now they say : " We have nothing left but what we shall need on the road when we are summoned." They could not stand the bitter cry of the mothers, and many, many have taken children, saying : " If we put a little more water in the soup, it will be enough for all," and yet they say : " When we are summoned, what is to become of these children ? To be sure, they have had a few more days of security and life, but then—what ? " . . . .
Still another factor adds to the horror, and that is : a Government that is not able to feed even its soldiers, how is it to obey the beautiful paper instructions and see that the people are well fed and lack for nothing ? In BM., for over a month, Christian churches have been giving two meals a day to the three thousand people to whom the Government gives two small stale loaves of bread a day, and I suppose it is safe to say that those fed are never for any two or three days running the same people. Each party stays two or three days, or even a week, but nearly every day some are coming and others going. This, as you may suppose, is a terrible drain on those from whom the Government has used nearly every means to extract the last penny, even hanging a man in the market-place because he did not pay ten pounds when asked for it ! Hanging is so common in BM. now that it creates little stir. It is only when someone happens to mention having seen a man hanging in the market yesterday or the day before that we even hear of it. The people are looking into their fast-emptying larders, and asking : " How long will it last ? " In Aintab the people are not even allowed to feed the refugees, who are now sent by a long detour round the town to prevent anyone's seeking to feed them. Some good Aintab people took a lot of water-bottles right out to the cross-roads two hours or more away, to give to the refugees as they started out on their desert journey ; but they were not allowed to give them, and had sadly to take them home again.
And how are the people going % As they come into BM., weary and with swollen and bleeding feet, clasping their babes to their breasts, they utter not one murmur or word of complaint ;
[page 478] TOWN OF BM. FOREIGN RESIDENT.
but you see their eyes move and hear the words : " For Jesus' sake, for Jesus' sake !"
The Albustan people were brought by a roundabout way which no one knew, because, we think, the soldiers were afraid to follow the direct road past what used to be Zeitoun. So, instead of coming in two days they wandered for eight days in the mountains, many of them having not a morsel to eat for the last two days. After they had been in BM. for nearly twenty-four hours, Badvelli V. came up to see us. Even then he was so weary and his lips were so parched that it seemed a great effort for him to speak. Suddenly he threw up his head and squared his shoulders, and a new tone came into his voice, as he said : I want to tell you of my great joy. As my people left their houses, their lands, their all, there was not one murmur or complaint, but with joy—yes, with joy—we left all ! And I can say that I believe my people to-day to be nearer to Christ than they have ever been before."
I saw the wife of the Gourksoun preacher. She was so tired that, m spite of herself, perhaps even unknown to herself, her lips quivered as she spoke, and yet there was nothing but a smile or a cheery word to be seen or heard from those lips. Someone asked her how she came, and she said that for a few hours they hired an animal for one pound (I think that was the sum), but that most of the time she walked. I looked at her—a delicate woman, who could hardly be expected to walk three or four miles, to say nothing of all those miles, climbing up over the mountains or tramping among the rocks—and I said: "Walk' How could you ? " She turned to me, and a look of almost childlike trust and wonder came into her face, as she answered : " I don't know. We felt no weariness ; the road was not hard. It just seemed as though God put out His arms and carried us."
[page 479] ZEITOUN. PASTOR DIKRAN ANDREASIAN.
122. ZEITOUN : ANTECEDENTS OF THE DEPORTATION, RECORDED BY THE REV. STEPHEN TROWBRIDGE, SECRETARY OF THE CAIRO COMMITTEE OF THE AMERICAN RED CROSS, FROM AN ORAL STATEMENT BY THE REV. DIKRAN ANDREASIAN, PASTOR OF THE ARMENIAN PROTESTANT CHURCH AT ZEITOUN.*
On the 10th August, 1914, the Turkish authorities in Zeitoun made a declaration of " seferbeylik," which in Turkish military parlance means that every man in the district under 45 years of age should be prepared to leave at short notice for active service in the Army. Every man, Moslem or Christian, was required to secure a " vesiké " or certificate from the Government stating that he had fulfilled the preliminary conditions and was ready for military service.
Hundreds upon hundreds, chiefly Moslem Turks, from the surrounding country came to the Zeitoun Government Building, and while going through the formalities were entertained hospitably by the Armenians of the town. These Armenians were also summoned, and they began seriously to consider whether it would be best to agree to this. (It is only since 1909 that any Christians have been allowed in the Turkish Army, though in ancient times the Janissaries were a very important section of the Ottoman troops.)
Many of the Zeitounlis took to the mountains to escape military service. Among these were about twenty-five thoroughgoing ruffians who made their living by deeds of violence. This small band, sincerely disliked and dreaded by the peaceable and thrifty people of Zeitoun, came down upon a company of new Turkish (Moslem) recruits, stripped them and enraged them by the insolence of their language. Thereupon Haidar Pasha, the Mutessarif of Marash, came out about the 31st August with 600 soldiers. He brought with him some Christian notables from Marash to " persuade " the Zeitounlis.
<The people of Zeitoun knew of this, and Yeghia Agha Yenidounyaian, one of the notables, advised Nazaret Tchaoush, his cousin, to meet Haidar Pasha with 500-600 armed young men, as he felt that Haidar Pasha's motives were not good. But Nazaret Tchaoush answered : " No, it may be that his coming means death to me ; but I would rather die than see Zeitoun ruined, as I know well that this is not the time for opposition." All the party leaders were of the same opinion, for they knew that they were not ready for a prolonged struggle, and that the European Powers were not in a position to come to their help. So> no opposition was offered to this force.
The Pasha demanded the surrender of the twenty-five outlaws who had attacked the new recruits. Every one of these was
* The passages included between brackets are taken from the (fuller) Armenian version of Pastor Andreasian's narrative (Doc. 130), " A Red Cross Flag That Saved Four Thousand." These passages have been translated for the Editor by Mr. G. H. Paelian.
[page 480] ZEITOUN.
secured and actually handed over to the Turkish Government. This would seem to have answered the Pasha's utmost demand, but, as a matter of fact, he was not satisfied, and made a proclamation demanding the surrender of all weapons and firearms. On the pretext of making the Armenians own up to the possession of rifles, torture and the bastinado were used with terrible cruelty. Many prominent citizens had their feet beaten into a mangled pulp. Those who had no rifles made desperate efforts to purchase some from their neighbours, in order to be able to deliver them up and escape the torture*.
There were in all about 200 Martini rifles among the 8,000 people of Zeitoun, and some 150 of these were seized in this fashion by the Turkish officers. A quantity of old-fashioned guns and pistols were collected and confiscated. The Pasha in returning to Marash took away with him a number of the Armenian notables, allowing the soldiers to insult and beat them on the road. Certain classes of the Armenians were also taken to the Marash barracks " for military service," but after terrible experiences many of them escaped and returned to Zeitoun.
The old troubles began again. On the pretext of finding deserters, houses were searched in the most lawless manner, and relatives and even neighbours were cruelly beaten. The fathers of some " deserters " almost died under the beating, <among them Nazaret Tchaoush himself>. The women and girls in the " deserters' " families were attacked and violated. Again and again young Armenian girls were outraged by the coarse Turkish soldiers. Even the young men who were not deserters were beaten " lest they might desert later." Of course, trade had long been at a standstill, and now large quantities of private property were being confiscated on these various pretexts. Then, <about the end of February,> some ignorant hotheads met one night and planned to attack the Government Building. This plot was frustrated by the Armenian notables, <among whom was Baba Agha Besilosian, the most influential of them all,> because they felt it would be doomed to failure. The Arashnort (Armenian bishop and head of the community) felt it his duty to notify the Government of this plot.
These are the facts. How can anyone charge the people of Zeitoun with desiring or attempting an insurrection ?
About twenty-five of the young men who had been brutally treated by the Turkish officers took to the mountains. These twenty-five attacked and killed nine Turkish mounted police on the way to Marash. The whole Armenian population of Zeitoun was against this, and openly said so. A night attack by this reckless band, <who had taken refuge in the adjacent monastery,> was frustrated by Government troops aided by a great mass of the Armenian people. Yet it became evident that the Government was only watching for pretexts to destroy Zeitoun root and branch.
* See Docs. 68, 82 and 94.
[page 481] PASTOR DIKRAN ANDREASIAN.
Gradually 5,000 soldiers were gathered about the town, <and on the 24th March/ 6th April an Armenian delegation was sent to Zeitoun from Marash. Among these were the Rev. A. Shiradjian, Father Sahag, a Catholic monk, and Herr Blank, who persuaded the Armenians to inform the Government of the whereabouts of the insurgents and follow the instructions of the Government, to ensure their own safety and the safety of the other Armenians in Cilicia. The Armenians unanimously accepted the proposal, and told the Government that the insurgents were in the monastery.
The next day, the 25th March/7th April, the attack on the monastery began. The new Mutessarif of Marash wished to invest the monastery, but Captain Khourshid opposed him, saying that he would be able to get hold of all the insurgents dead or alive " within two hours."
The fight continued until nightfall, when the Turks decided to burn the monastery. But during the night the insurgents rushed out, killed an officer and many soldiers and escaped to the mountains, leaving only a few of their men behind them. The Turks lost between 200 and 300. On the 26th March/8th April the Turks burned the monastery, thinking that the insurgents were still there.
After this,*> fifty prominent families were sent into exile ; a few days later, sixty more, then a whole quarter, and another and another. Finally the remainder were all sent at once. By the time the Rev. Dikran Andreasian left, no families whatever remained. Even the Armenian inscriptions over the arches of churches were hacked to pieces by order of Khourshid Bey, the commander of the troops, and the name of Zeitoun was changed to Souleimania (after a Turkish officer who was killed on the Marash road). The Turkish Mufti of Zeitoun, in his report, stated that in the course of all these events, such as the storming of the monastery, 101 Turkish soldiers were killed and 110 wounded. Over against this we may add that 8,000 Armenians who had no evil intention against the Government were outraged and despoiled beyond all endurance, and were at last driven out according to a methodical plan born of the Germans—driven out into hideous misery and suffering in the arid plains of Mesopotamia.
The Zeitounlis were longing for the Allies to carry all before them at Gallipoli. They were hoping for a sweeping defeat of the Turks ; but there was no insurrection. The one or two seditious plots were opposed and frustrated chiefly by the Armenians of a saner mind. The evidence is convincing that the destruction of the people of Zeitoun was a deliberate Turco-German plan.
* The author of Doc. 123 states (page 483, line 24) that the first batch of Zeitounlis were deported the morning following the night on which the insurgents in the monastery escaped. This would be the 8th April. The author of Doc. 121, on the other hand, states (page 475, line 44) that the first deportation from Zeitoun took place on a Saturday. This would be the 10th April, 1915.—EDITOR.
[page 482] EXILES FROM ZEITOUN.
Sunday, 14th March, 1915.
This morning I had a long conversation with Mr.------ about events at Zeitoun. He has managed to obtain some information regarding the little Armenian town, although all direct communication with it has been interrupted. Turkish troops have left Aleppo for Zeitoun—some say 4,000, some 6,000, others 8,000. With what intention, one wonders ? Mr.------, who has been there himself during last summer and this winter, assures me that the Armenians have no wish to revolt and are prepared to put up with anything the Government may do. Contrary to the old-established custom, a levy was made at Zeitoun at the time of the August mobilisation, and they did not offer the slightest resistance. None the less, the Government has played them false. In October, 1914, their leader, Nazaret Tchaoush, came to Marash with a " safe conduct " to arrange some special points with the officials. In spite of the " safe conduct " they imprisoned him, tortured him, and put him to death. Still the people of Zeitoun remained quiet. Bands of zaptiehs (Turkish gendarmes), quartered in the town, have been molesting the inhabitants, raiding shops, stealing, maltreating the people and dishonouring their women. It is obvious that the Government are trying to get a case against the Zeitounlis, so as to be able to exterminate them at their pleasure and yet justify themselves" in the eyes of the world.
-th April, 1915.
Three Armenians from Dört Yöl were hanged last night in the chief squares of Adana. The Government declare that they had been signalling to the British warship or warships stationed in the Gulf of Alexandretta. This is untrue ; for I know, though I dare not put the source of my information on paper, that only one Armenian from Dört Yöl has had any communication with the English.
Two more Armenians from Dört Yöl have been hanged at Adana.
Three Armenians have been hanged at Adana. We were out riding to-day, and the train came into the station just as we reached the railway. Imagine our indignation when we saw a cattle-truck filled with Armenians from Zeitoun. Most of these mountaineers were in rags, but a few were quite well dressed. They had been driven out of their homes and were going to be transplanted, God knows where, to some town in Asia Minor.
[page 483] DIARY OF A FOREIGN RESIDENT AT B.
It seems we have returned to the days of the Assyrians, if whole populations can be exiled in this way, and the sacred liberty of the individual so violated.
-th April (the next day).
We were able to see the unfortunate refugees, who are still here to-day. These are the circumstances of their departure from Zeitoun, or rather this is the tragedy which preceded their exile, though it was not the cause of it.
The Turkish gendarmes outraged several girls in the town, and were attacked in consequence by about twenty of the more hot-headed young men. Several gendarmes were killed, though all the while the population as a whole was opposed to bloodshed and desired most earnestly to avoid the least pretext for reprisals. The twenty rebels were driven out of the town and took refuge in a monastery about three-quarters of an hour's distance from the town. At this point the troops from Aleppo arrived. The Zeitounlis gave them lodging, and it seemed that all was going excellently between the populace and the 8,000 soldiers under their German officers.
The Turks surrounded the monastery and attacked it for a whole day ; but the insurgents defended themselves, and, at the cost of one man slightly wounded, they killed 300 of the regular troops. During the night, moreover, they managed to escape.
Their escape was as yet unknown to the town when, about nine o'clock on the following morning, the Turkish Commandant summoned about 300 of the principal inhabitants to present themselves immediately at the military headquarters. They obeyed the summons without the least suspicion, believing themselves to be on excellent terms with the authorities. Some of them took a little money, others some clothing or wraps, but the majority came in their working clothes and brought nothing with them. Some of them had even left their flocks on the mountains in the charge of children. When they reached the Turkish camp, they were ordered to leave the town at once without returning to their homes. They were completely stupefied. Leave ? But for where ? They did not know.
They had been unable even yet to learn their destination, but it is probable that they are being sent to the Vilayet of Konia. Some of them have come in carriages and some on foot.
I heard to-day that the whole population of Dört Yöl has been taken away to work on the roads. They continue to hang Armenians at Adana. It is a point worth remembering that Zeitoun and Dört Yöl are the two Armenian towns which held their own during the Adana massacres of 1909.
A new batch of Zeitounlis has just arrived. I saw them marching along the road, an interminable file under the Turkish
[page 484] EXILES FROM ZEITOUN.
whips. It is really the most miserable and pitiable thing in the world. Weak and scarcely clothed, they rather drag themselves along than walk. Old women fall down, and struggle to their feet again when the zaptieh approaches with lifted stick. Others are driven along like donkeys. I saw one young woman drop down exhausted. The Turk gave her two or three blows with his stick and she raised herself painfully. Her husband was walking in front with a baby two or three days old in his arms.
Further on an old woman had stumbled, and slipped down into the mud. The gendarme touched her two or three times with his whip, but she did not stir ; then he gave her several kicks with his foot ; still she did not move ; then he kicked her harder, and she rolled over into the ditch ; I hope that she was already dead.
These people have now arrived in the town. They have had nothing to eat for two days. The Turks forbade them to bring anything with them from Zeitoun, except, in some cases, a few blankets, a donkey, a mule, or a goat. But even these things they are selling here for practically nothing—a goat for one medjidia(3s. 2d.), a mule for half a lira (nine shillings). This is because the Turks steal them on the road. One young woman who had only been a mother eight days, had her donkey stolen the first night of the journey. What a way of starting out ! The German and Turkish officers made the Armenians leave all their property behind, so that the mouhadjirs (refugees) from Thrace might enter into possession. There are five families in ------'s house ! The town and the surrounding villages (about 25,000 inhabitants) are entirely destroyed.
Between fifteen and sixteen thousand exiles have been sent towards Aleppo, but they are going to be taken further. Perhaps into Arabia ? Can the real object be to starve them to death ? Those who have passed through our town were going to the Vilayet of Konia ; there, too, there are deserts.
Letters have come which confirm my fears. It is not to Aleppo that the Zeitoimlis are being sent, but to Der-el-Zor, in Arabia, between Aleppo and Babylonia. And those we saw the other day are going to Kara-Pounar, between Konia and Eregli, in the most arid part of Asia Minor.
Certain ladies here have given blankets and shoes to some of the poorest. The local Christians, too, have shown themselves wonderfully self-sacrificing. But what can one do ? It is a little drop of charity in the ocean of their suffering.
News has come from Konia. Ninety Armenians have been taken to Kara-Pounar. The Zeitounlis have arrived at Konia. Their sufferings have been increased by their having had to wait
[page 485] DIARY OF A FOREIGN RESIDENT AT B.
—some of them 8, some 15, some 20 days—at Bozanti (the terminus of the Anatolian Railway in the Taurus, 2,400 feet above sea level). This delay was caused by the enormous masses of troops passing continually through the Cilician Gates ; it is the army of Syria which is being recalled for the defence of the Dardanelles.
When the exiles reached Konia, they had eaten nothing, according to our news, for three days. The Greeks and Armenians at once collected money and food for their relief, but the Vali of Konia would not allow anything of any kind to be given to the exiles. They therefore remained another three days without food, at the end of which time the Vali removed his prohibition and allowed food to be served out to them under the supervision of the zaptiehs.
My informant tells me that, after the departure of the Armenians from Konia for Kara-Pounar, he saw an Armenian woman throw her new-born baby into a well ; another is said to have thrown hers out of the window of the train.
A letter has come from Kara-Pounar. I know the writer of it, and can have no doubt of his truthfulness. He says that the 6,000 or 8,000 Armenians from Zeitoun are dying there from starvation at the rate of 150 to 200 a day. So from 15,000 to 19,000 Zeitounlis must have been sent into Arabia, the total population of the town and the outlying villages having been about 25,000.
The whole garrison of ------ and of Adana have left for the Dardanelles. There are no troops left to defend the district if it should be attacked from outside.
-th May (the next day).
New troops have arrived, but they are untrained.
The last batch of Zeitounlis passed through our town to-day, and I was able to speak to some of them in the han where they had been put. I saw one poor little girl who had been walking, barefoot, for more than a week ; her only clothing was a torn pinafore ; she was shivering with cold and hunger, and her bones were literally pushing through her skin.
About a dozen children had to be left on the road because they could not walk any further. Have they died of hunger? Probably, but no one will ever know for certain. I also saw two poor old women without any hair left, or with hardly any. When the Turks drove them out of Zeitoun they had been rich, but they could not take anything with them beyond the clothes they were wearing. They managed somehow to hide five or six gold pieces in their hair, but, unfortunately for them, the sun glinted on the metal as they marched along and the glitter attracted the notice
[page 486] Exiles from Zeitoun. Diary of a Foreign Resident at B.
of a zaptieh. He did not waste any time in picking out the pieces of gold, but found it much quicker to tear the hair out by the roots.
I came across another very characteristic case. A citizen of Zeitoun, formerly a rich man, was leading two donkeys, the last remnants of his fortune. A gendarme came along and seized their bridles ; the Armenian implored him to leave them, saying that he was already on the verge of starvation. The only answer he received from the Turk was a shower of blows, repeated till he rolled over in the dust ; even then the Turk continued beating him, till the dust was turned into a blood-soaked mud ; then he gave a final kick and went off with the donkeys. Several Turks stood by watching ; they did not appear to be at all surprised, nor did any of them attempt to intervene.
The authorities have sent a number of people from Dört Yöl to be hanged in the various towns of Adana Vilayet.
There is a rumour of a partial exodus from Marash. It is going to be our town next.
Dört Yöl has also been evacuated and the inhabitants sent into Arabia. Hadjin is threatened with the same fate. There has been a partial clearing out of Adana ; Tarsus and Mersina are threatened too, and also Aintab.
[page 487] Exiles from Zeitoun. Resident at B.—Further Statement.
About the middle of April, about 150 Armenian families belonging to Zeitoun came to B. This is what they told us about the circumstances under which they had to leave their village.
After a battle that took place one day before their departure, between the Ottoman troops and 25 young men of Zeitoun, who had rebelled when they were asked to join the Army (a battle in which 300 soldiers perished, but in which the population of Zeitoun took no part), these families were called to the Government Building without any previous explanation and without any other information. Most of them were rich and went to the Government without misgivings. There they were informed that they had to leave their village instantly. They were then all obliged to abandon all that they had in their houses, their cattle and even part of their families (for, not knowing why they had been called away, many of them had left their children at home). This is what I heard from one of the Armenian exiles in the first convoy from Zeitoun. They came to B., but when some of them went to the American Mission in this town, they did not yet know where they were to be planted. Most of them were in the greatest anxiety on account of the children whom they had left tending the cattle and whom they had not been able to take with them.
The first group was not in a very bad state, because it was composed of the first families of the city, and they could in large part provide for their immediate needs (carriages and food). But, a few days later, new bands appeared in a most deplorable condition ; their number was nearly two thousand people.
Many, in fact, most of them, went on foot, getting food every two or three days, and in general lacking the most necessary clothes. The Christian population of B. tried to help them, but, whatever their efforts, what they could do was like a drop of water in the ocean. Also, they were not all allowed to enter the city ; they had to sleep out of doors in no matter what weather, and the soldiers that guarded them put all sorts of difficulties in the way of the population of B., who wanted to help the refugees. We saw some of them on the road. They went slowly, most of them fainting from want of food. We saw a father walking with a one-day-old baby in his arms, and behind him the mother walking as well as possible, pushed along by the stick of the Turkish guard. It was not uncommon to see a woman fall down and then rise again under the stick. Some of them had a goat, a donkey, or a mare ; when they reached B., they were obliged to sell them for five, ten, or fifteen piastres,* because the Turkish soldiers took them away from them. I saw one who sold his goat to a Turk
* 1 piastre=2d.
[page 488] EXILES FROM ZEIT0UN.
for six piastres. I saw an Armenian pushing two goats ; a policeman (zabit) came and carried away the animals and, because the poor man protested, beat him mercilessly, until he fell in the dust senseless. Many Turks were present ; no one stirred.
A young woman, whose husband had been imprisoned, was carried away with her fifteen-days-old baby, with one donkey for all her baggage. After one day and a half on the road, a soldier stole her donkey and she had to go on foot, her baby in her arms, from Zeitoun to Aleppo.
A reporter, Mr. Y., told us that, while the refugees were on the way to Bozanti, his carriage was stopped all the time by refugees asking for bread.
The third and last band numbered 200 people. It reached B. on the 13th May, about seven o'clock. They were put in a han, where I went to visit them. They had all come on foot from Zeitoun to B., and had had nothing to eat for two days—days when it rained abundantly. Accompanied by one of my pupils, I made one or two translations from the Armenian, because we were under the surveillance of a policeman.
As soon as the Armenian refugees left their houses, mouhadjirs (Moslem refugees) from Thrace took possession of them. The Armenians had been forbidden to take anything with them, and they themselves saw all their goods pass into other hands. There must be about 20,000 to 25,000 Turks in Zeitoun now, and the name of the town seems to have been changed into that of Yeni Shehr.
I saw a girl three and a half years old, wearing only a shirt in rags. She had come on foot from Zeitoun to B. She was terribly spare and was shivering from cold, as were also all the innumerable children I saw on that day (Monday, the 14th May*).
An Armenian told me that he had abandoned two children on the way because they could not walk, and that he did not know whether they had died of cold and hunger, whether a charitable soul had taken care of them, or whether they had become the prey of wild beasts. I learned later that this was far from being a unique case. Many children seem to have been thus abandoned. One seems to have been thrown into a well.
As I passed through Konia, I went to see Dr. AB.†, and this is what he told me : When the first refugees from Zeitoun came to' Konia, the Christian population bought food and clothes for them ; but the Vali refused to allow them any communication with the refugees, pretending that they had all that they wanted. A few days later, however, they could get the help they needed. The fact is that the Government gave them only very bad bread, and that only every two or three days. Dr. AB. told me that a woman threw her dying baby from the window of the train.
* The 14th May, 1915, was a Friday.—EDITOR.
† Author of Doc. 125.
[page 489] RESIDENT AT B.—FURTHER STATEMENT.
The refugees from Zeitoun have been directed to Kara-Pounar, one of the most unhealthy places in the Vilayet of Konia, situated between Konia and Eregli, but nearer the latter. Many of them have died, and the mortality is increasing every day. The malaria makes ravages among them, because of the complete lack of food and shelter. How cruelly ironic to think that the Government pretends to be sending them there to found a colony ; and they have no ploughs, no seeds to sow, no bread, no abode ; in fact, they are sent with empty hands.
Only part of the Zeitounlis seem to be at Kara-Pounar ; the others seem to have been sent to Der-el-Zor, on the Euphrates ; there their condition is still worse, and they ask as a favour to be sent to Kara-Pounar.
The Armenians of Adana received orders to leave the town, without being told where they were to go. Many of them came to B., others went to Osmania. But they were all recalled to Adana. Is it intended to send them somewhere else, or are they to remain in Adana % I could not find this out for certain before leaving B.
A great panic reigns among the Armenian population in B., because it was said that they also were to be exiled. But nothing has happened there yet.
From Konia, again, more than 200 Armenians have been sent to Kara-Pounar. Among them is Mr. AC. On Thursday, 90 people were notified to be ready to leave on Saturday, the 26th May.* The Armenians dare not leave their houses.
* The 26th May, 1915, was a Wednesday.—EDITOR.
[page 490] EXILES FROM ZEITOUN.
In hope of having opportunity to send by Miss FF., I can write freely. Have you any means by which you can send me as much as fifty liras for relief of the Zeitounlis in Sultania ? The Government has now left them to starve. At first, rations of bread were given ; then 150 drams of flour to each per day (children under five not being counted at all) ; then their amount was reduced to 100 drams. It is now four weeks that this has been cut off entirely. The people are not allowed to scatter over the country in search of work. They can only search the fields for roots and herbs, and there have been several cases of poisoning from this food. The exiles from Konia, numbering 107 (men who have money and supplies sent to them from their homes) took up a subscription among themselves and subscribed 1,400 piastres a week towards supplying bread for the starving. I have sent personal gifts from ourselves and our friends of five or six liras a week ; but these sources are becoming exhausted. Later Mr. GG., whom Dr. EE. knows, has been "pardoned" by the Vali and has returned here. He has been the leader among the exiles in trying to secure food for the Zeitounlis. I called on him this evening to get accurate information of their state. It is worse even than I knew. The number is over 7,000, 2,200 having been sent without coming through Konia, so that I had no account of them. The facts about the cutting off of all food for them are as I have stated. A bin-bashi, an Arnaout,* who went there on military service, was greatly moved by what he saw, and sent a strong telegram demanding rations to be given to the families of the men (about 300) who were drafted into the Labour Regiment after being sent to Sultania. This he could do in his military capacity, and it was accepted by the War Department. This provided for about 1,600, leaving, however, nearly 6,000 with nothing. The number of deaths up to last week was 305. Dr. Stepanian, of Baghtchedjik, has distinguished himself by self-sacrificing work for the poor. He testifies to seeing deaths from starvation already.
The refugees are "housed " principally in great camel stables and such like. It is a great camel region, the Government having requisitioned 4,000 of these animals from there. The cattle and animals of the Zeitounlis were mostly requisitioned by the Government en route. What they managed to conceal and bring with them has been put under requisition, but not taken. Meanwhile, the owners are forbidden to sell, are unable to use, and are compelled to feed these animals, because the Government holds them responsible to deliver them when called for. I have before heard
[page 491] FOREIGN RESIDENT AT KONIA.
of refinements of devilry, but I have seen instances this year that have burned into my soul. The manifest purpose to destroy these people by starvation cannot be denied.
I find that it is the exiles from Ak Shehr and Baghtchedjik, who are also at Sultania, who have been more generous than those of Konia in giving of their own means. The Kaimakam has been very good, giving out of his scanty purse to help and favouring the efforts of others, in spite of the official attitude in Konia. Dr. Stepanian, of Baghtchedjik, whom you perhaps know, is one of the " Commission " there for distributing all assistance that may be sent Can you in any way get money to put at my disposal, so that I can send ten liras a week ? With this we may be able to get enough from others here to provide ten paras per person. Of course, this is nothing, but may we not do something ?
[page 492] TOWN OF AF.
The events connected with the banishment of the Armenians of the AF. region by the Turkish Government began on the 14th May. On that day the Alai Bey, or Justice of the Court Martial, arrived in AF. from Aleppo, the seat of the Court Martial. The three days following his arrival were spent in seclusion, very probably in consulting with secret agents. On the 18th, 19th and 20th May he had conferences with the elders of the city. He demanded in a very courteous manner that the city should deliver up all arms, and all deserters from the army and other outlaws. He desired that they should comply with his request within the next three days. He took an oath on his honour that, if his demands were obeyed, all would be well for the people of AF. and in no way should harm come to them. In case of disobedience, however, he said that he had at his call three thousand soldiers, who would enforce his demands.
Towards the last of the conferences, however, the Alai Bey's attitude grew threatening, and the people were filled with alarm. The elders and spiritual heads of the communities were at a loss what counsel to give. If they delivered up their arms and were betrayed, they might all be massacred ; if they retained them, it would mean open opposition to the Government. A number of the leaders came to consult with Miss B. and me, and we supported the party which stood for full compliance with the requests. It was finally almost unanimously decided that this should be done, and a general response seemed to follow.
By Sunday, the 23rd May, all but three or four of the deserters had delivered themselves up and about seventy Martinis had been surrendered. C. Bey seemed pleased with the results, and the people were beginning to grow more tranquil. At three o'clock in the afternoon, about two thousand soldiers, cavalry and infantry, entered the city. The local centurion had prepared for their coming by taking forcible possession of the Gregorian Boys' School, the Monastery (which was used for orphanage purposes, the orphans being sent out as the soldiers entered), and the Protestant Boys' Academy. Miss B. immediately put in a protest at the Government House against occupying the last-named building. The cavalry was sent to another building belonging to a certain philanthropic society, for whose properties Miss B. was responsible. As the buildings were empty and not in use, it seemed best to allow this without a protest. The following morning we called upon the cavalry officer, D. Bey, were very courteously received, and were given assurances that the property should be well cared for, which assurances were kept. The Boys' Academy building was not freed of soldiers, but only a very few were stationed there, and all rooms we desired we kept locked. Guards of soldiers were placed in all conspicuous
[page 493] FOREIGN RESIDENT.
parts of the city, a squad being on duty night and day at the head of the private road which leads to the American Board Compound.
Towards evening on Monday, the 24th, the ammunition and load-animals of the troops came in. The soldiers with these were sent to a building belonging to another institution in the city. This building, though unoccupied because of the absence of the missionaries, was filled with property. Word was sent to Miss B., but before she could get there the attendant had been forced to open the door. She protested to the police in charge, and, finding it useless, sought audience with the justice of court martial. He promised to empty it the following day, and this was carried out.
On the 25th May, Miss B. again called on the Alai Bey to present several personal requests, such as permission to take flour to the mill without molestation, to have our road and premises free from the trespass of soldiers, etc. All was readily and courteously granted. She also reported the gun in our possession, which had been registered in the name of our steward. He smiled graciously and asked whether we did not want a few more ; he had plenty, he said, to give us. In the days that followed there was repeated pressure, always more drastic, for ammunition of all kinds and the delivery of deserters. C. Bey gave repeated assurances that, if the deserters were delivered up, no one would be exiled. On the 27th May a large number of the leading men were imprisoned, and, after that, every day added to their numbers.
The strain upon the people was now so great that the majority could neither eat nor sleep. We were in the same case, and were up from very early until late in the evening to meet the many who came to consult with us. On the morning of the 28th, a party of women from the city besought our aid. The husbands of nearly all of them had been thrown into prison, and they and their children were left defenceless in their homes, with no suggestion of what the future held in store. At their request, then, Miss B. and I interviewed both C. Bey and E. Bey, the military commander. We besought them to distinguish between the innocent and the guilty, and asked mercy for the women and children. We were again received with entire courtesy, but had no satisfaction. The Alai Bey took pains to explain to us that, as we had come from a land of freedom, where people lived in a more enlightened way, we could not fully understand the necessary actions of the Turkish Government ; that there existed a Committee among the Armenian people which was harmful to the Government, but that our hearts and minds were pure and the people easily deceived us.
The last of the deserters was delivered up on the 30th May, and the total number of guns was one Mauser and ninety Martinis.
[page 494] TOWN OF AF.
The Alai Bey, however, insisted that there were yet many more guns hidden by the people, either in the city or on the mountains. The soldiers were accordingly set at work to dig into walls and refuse heaps and search all the houses for guns. With the exception of some powder, the results were insignificant. The people of the city charged the soldiers with themselves hiding guns and ammunition in and about the walls of dwellings, for the purpose of securing convictions.
Meanwhile, the atmosphere grew worse and worse, and on the 3rd June it became known that the deportation was about to begin. In response to the desire of the people we, together with Miss F., a German lady, made a last plea before the officers. The only result was that we received permission to send telegrams. We sent messages to Mr. N. and the Ambassador, but afterwards learned that no such messages were ever transmitted. The men to be exiled the following morning were released from prison in the afternoon. Miss B. and I, together with the Protestant pastor, called upon all the families who were going. In the morning we asked permission for the school-girls of the exiled families to remain with us, and were refused on the ground that only the Vali could give such permission. We immediately telegraphed to the Vali, but, as usual, received no answer. The Alai Bey, however, personally gave us permission to keep three girls, as well as the privilege of receiving gifts from our friends who were going away.
Thirty leading Protestant and Gregorian families were marched away in the first batch. Gendarmes were placed to prevent relatives and friends from accompanying those sent out, but Miss B. and I always passed freely among them, giving aid wherever we could. Four days later G. Effendi, our steward and chief servant, received notice to go. Miss B. again interviewed the Alai Bey with respect to the case of G. Effendi. She said that we were greatly dependent upon him, and asked that he might be left among the last to be sent. The Alai Bey granted one day's delay, but his decision was not carried out in fact. The following morning he was the first to be driven from his house by the soldiers.
By the 10th June, about 150 households had been deported, and new papers were being distributed every day. Some of the men had now been imprisoned fifteen days. They were usually released the day before leaving, and had no chance of making preparations for the journey. The Alai Bey left the same day, delegating the work of further deportation to the military commander and the Kaimakam of AF. The soldiers left some two weeks later. The deportation of the people of AF. continued throughout the summer, until, by the 1st October, only a very few men and their families and about 250 widows and soldiers families remained.
[page 495] FOREIGN RESIDENT.
It was the intention of the Government to provide animals for those sent into exile, as the people of AF. had very few animals of their own and were obliged to journey over rough mountain roads. Horses, mules, camels and donkeys were levied upon all the surrounding villages, whether Christian or Turk. The owners were obliged to go with the animals. It can readily be seen that many of them bore the travellers no good will, and vented whatever cruelty they pleased upon them. Gendarmes were also sent along with the convoys, presumably for protection, but very often they themselves became the greatest menace, and almost never succeeded in preventing the raids made upon the defenceless exiles by marauding bands. Towards the latter part of the summer the supply of animals was so diminished, so many having died upon the road, that Circassian carts were used for transporting the people. The exiles from AF. were sent first to AG., and from there by slow degrees to Aleppo. There is a well-travelled caravan road to AG. by way of AH., which can also be used by the rude mountain cars. This, however, the exiles were not permitted to use, but were forced to travel over a stony and very difficult road leading over a high mountain pass. The entire village of Shar and the Armenian population of Roumlou were deported soon after the deportations began in AF. Being agricultural villages, they came for the most part with their own carts. When they reached the pass, they begged to be allowed to go by way of AH., so that they might have the benefit of their cars ; but this was denied them. All the carts had to be abandoned at the river, and, throwing most of their possessions into the stream, they took what little they could carry, and started up the stony way on foot.
At the beginning of September a very large percentage of the remaining population of AF. was deported, consisting for the most part of the very poor, and including many widows. As very few animals and carts came in response to the call of the Government, a large number of men, women and children started on the long journey on foot, carrying on their backs or strapping to their persons the very few articles deemed most necessary.
Miss B. and I found our position in the face of such terrible events a most difficult one. We felt obliged to help the Armenian people in every way possible, and at the same time felt we could not have a break with the Government, nor give up our cordial relations with the Moslem families. We felt responsible for the American property situated in and about AF., and also had Armenian orphan teachers and girls in the compound, for whose protection our lives were not too costly. One of the great problems was in connection with the property of the exiled families. They had been told by the Alai Bey that they could place the property left behind wherever they pleased. Naturally everyone wished to put it under our care. We could have filled our whole compound full of all imaginable household articles and treasures, to
[page 496] TOWN OF AF.
say. nothing of horses, cows, goats, etc. As we had no American gentleman to advise us, and, moreover, wished always to deal in such a way as not to involve the Consul or the Embassy, we decided in general against the taking of property. That which we did accept we paid for, and the purchasing was always to help those in such desperate need. The Government came to understand this, and respected us accordingly.
From the time when the first people left, in early June, until October, we were very fortunate in having the opportunity to render some financial help. Miss B. passed through the line of gendarmes guarding the villages of Shar and Roumlou, and was enabled to leave some pounds with the head men of the villages for the aid of the very poor. To the outgoing people of AF. we gave freely, according to our limited means, and even occasionally could help exiles from other villages passing through from the Kaisaria country. We succeeded also, with the aid of a Greek and a Turk, in sending some relief to the villagers of AJ. and AK. before they left. We felt confident that the authorities knew something of the extent to which we were helping the people, but we encountered no open opposition.
Our servants were nearly all sent away early in the deportation, so that extra and unaccustomed work was imposed upon us. Miss B., for example, always had to take the post in person to the Government Building. Providing for the food supply, and dealing with our shepherd and the villagers who came to sell things, often fell to us personally. A large part of the time we had no cook. Another tax upon our strength and time was the battle with the swarms of locusts which visited Syria and Cilicia. They first appeared in early June and ravaged the country till September. They destroyed our vineyards, and we had to fight day after day to keep them out of the compound. When we destroyed those hatched on our premises, their places were quickly filled by armies coming down the mountain side. When I left, many of the villages were suffering from the lack of food due to the locust scourge.
Another problem was how to relieve, in some small measure at least, the suffering in the city caused by lack of food. A great many widows and orphans and soldiers' families were left with no means of support, after the more well-to-do families had been deported. Moreover, the industrial work, which employed a considerable number of widows, was closed with the coming of the court martial officer. The two Bible Women, up to the time when they also were deported, worked heroically, with the little means that we could spare them each week, to meet and provide for the cases of greatest need. We bought large quantities of cheap wheat to help towards this end. The only shop left open was that of the druggist, so there was no way of obtaining any supplies. The lack of soap and salt was very keenly felt. As our own supply was limited, we could not give freely as we wished,
[page 497] FOREIGN RESIDENT.
but finally Miss B., in spite of all the demands upon her strength and time, made considerable quantities of soap, so that at least the women might wash their clothes occasionally. All who received it were most grateful, and the supply was never sufficient.
Miss B. and I personally never suffered any discourtesy from either the official or village Turk. Our situation was often delicate, and, in such a case as the affair connected with the Government Industrial, the Kaimakam ignored our rights and courteously took everything into his own hands ; but, on the whole, we were well treated. When we asked Mr. H. to come to our aid from Marash and the Government prevented him from coming, the Kaimakam sent the chief of police to explain the case to us, and assured us that we need not fear, that we were the guests of the Government, and that not a hair of our heads should be injured. When I left AF, although I had the escort of Miss J., the Consul's kavass and their gendarme, the. captain in AF. sent with me as a personal escort his best horseman. The postal official showed himself very friendly, and did us many personal favours. When money was sent us through the post office, he tried always to pay in gold or silver, and in such a way that we might get it quickly into the hands of the people. He knew we used it to help those condemned to be exiled. When the first convoys of exiles were driven out of AF. his mother was unable to leave her bed for two weeks, she was so depressed by what she saw and heard. She spoke with great vigour against the terrible events that were happening.
Our head teacher, Miss K., and her mother were with us in the compound. They have Moslem relatives, two of whom were officers' families in AF. These were especially friendly to us, and visited us frequently. They were all outspoken against the horrors. One time U. Effendi had failed to visit us, as was his custom, and, when we asked the reason, he said he was ashamed to come because he could bring us no good news. We saw Moslem women loudly wailing with the Christians when the first families were sent out. When the Alai Bey first came, he called the Mufti and asked his approval of what he was about to do ; but the Mufti refused to sanction it, and said he could see no good in it. This same Mufti was a strong personal friend of one of the leading Protestant Armenians (our special friend and adviser), and he tried in every way to save him from exile, but in vain. When M. Agha left, the Mufti took possession of his house and all his properties for him. He also said he would stand as protector of the Americans and the American compound after M. Agha was gone.
Some of the village aghas also expressed themselves freely to us, both on the matter of the war and on the calamity which had befallen the Armenians. They said that such cruelty would not go unavenged, and that their day of reckoning would come.
[page 498] TOWN OF AF.
They complained bitterly that there were now no artisans or shopkeepers left to supply their wants, and that in a short time they themselves would be in desperate want. Our watchman at the summer residence showed us his foot half-naked, because he could not find a shoemaker in all AF. to mend it. All the surrounding Turkish, Kurdish and Circassian villages were in the same need.
A Kurdish Sheikh, N. Effendi, from a village not far from AF., visited the city twice only during the summer. The first time he only remained about an hour, and, with the tears streaming down his cheeks, he said he would return to his village at once ; that he could not endure such sights. The second time he came to bid farewell to O. Effendi, his Armenian friend. He kissed each of his children, pressing them to his heart, and left again in tears. A Kurd also brought us the secret information that the new Shar church building had been partially destroyed by dynamite.
The Moslems of AK. and AJ. were very much opposed to the exiling of the Armenians from those villages. They said they were not guilty of anything, possessed no weapons, lived peacefully and were friends with them, and were, besides, their artisans and tradesmen. Through their efforts they put off the deportation about three months ; but, in the end, even they were unable to save them. The Turks of AK. ought to have special mention for their honourable attitude throughout the whole affair. Miss K.'s uncle, an officer in AK., broke a water jar over the head of a young Moslem who had entered into a room to molest an Armenian soldier's wife. He said he was obliged to defend the unprotected who dwelt under the shadow of his house. Once when Miss B. was passing through the streets of AF., she was appealed to by two gendarmes who had been ordered to expel from their home for deportation an aged man and his wife and their bed-ridden son. The gendarmes said : " How shall we do this thing ? " and begged Miss B. to beseech the authorities for mercy. These are samples of faint gleams of light in the midst of four months of horrible darkness. Pages and pages might be Written on the barbaric and relentless cruelty of the many.
Throughout the summer Miss B. and I were confronted with the question whether we had come to Turkey only to work for the Christians, or whether we would also be willing, now that the Armenians were gone, to take Moslem children into our school. These inquiries finally resulted in expressions on the part of several officers' families of a desire to place their daughters in our school. Every week there were inquiries as to when a decision would be made as to the opening of our school. One Moslem woman even went so far as to inquire about the clothing necessary to prepare for her daughter. Whether they were sincere or not, of course, we cannot tell ; but the desire seemed to be a general one.
[page 499] FOREIGN RESIDENT.
There is yet one more phase in connection with the summer's events. Shortly after the deportation of the Armenian families of AF. took place, about thirty families of Mouhadjirs were sent in by the Government to take their place. These unfortunate people were refugees from Roumelia since the time of the Balkan War. For two years they had been wandering, always sent on by the Turkish Government from place to place, and finally placed in the houses just vacated by those who were likewise to face months of wandering and homelessness. Four families came to five close to our end of the city. We at once decided to show them friendliness. They responded in a touching way, came frequently to call, and poured out their over-burdened hearts. When they first came, the men were too weak to work ; all were subject to chills and fever, and, of the whole village from which these people had come, only two children were living. One of the women spoke with horror at having to live in a house with such associations, saying that only they knew what such suffering meant. The morning when I left and bade them good-bye, one of these Mouhadjir women threw her arms about me and begged me not to go.
Miss Vaughan and I saw the departure of hundreds of Armenians into a hopeless exile. It was heart-breaking and too awful even to imagine in detail ; yet we praise the God of all mankind, whether Moslem or Christian, that we were permitted to see the spirit of Christian faith and humility manifested by so many in the darkest period of Armenian history. There may have been examples of hard-heartedness and cursing against God and an utter losing of faith, but we did not personally come in contact with them. How often did we pray together with those about to go and, with the tears streaming down our faces, beseech God to keep our faith sure ! How often did men and women clasp our hands at parting, saying : " Let God's will be done. We have no other hope ! " P. Effendi, the Protestant preacher, came to our compound the morning of his leaving and asked that, with the girls and teachers, we might all have worship together. His young wife, who was about to become a mother, was left to our care. Whether they were ever reunited I do not know. With entire calm he read from God's word, and prayed God's protection for all of us who were left behind. At the close he asked that the girls should sing " He leadeth me."
" Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."
[page 500] TOWN OF AF.
1. Q. was a young man who had graduated from the law school at Constantinople, and in the winter and early spring of 1915 had served in the Mounted Imperial Guard. Not being well, he returned to his home in AF. a few weeks before the deportation began. Upon the arrival of the court-martial and army officers, he was at once chosen to serve them as a military attendant, and was dressed in full uniform. He was in constant attendance upon them till the evening of the 3rd June, when he was roughly stripped of his uniform and told to be ready for exile in the morning. We saw him go off with the convoy on foot, not even an animal having been granted him.
2. R. was for years a Government officer at AF. At the time when the officers and army entered AF., he was away in the villages on Government business. Two days before the day set for deportation, his wife was notified. She and the four small children were left alone to prepare for the journey. The husband returned from the villages a few hours before the time when the families were deported, having had no information whatever of what was taking place.
3. S.'s husband had been in Syracuse, N.Y., for two years, and she was left alone in AF. with two small children. He intended to send for her as soon as conditions were favourable. Her parents were deported early in the season, and, at the time, she asked permission of the Alai Bey to go with them, as otherwise she was left friendless. She even begged to go. He refused and said: " Have no fear, my daughter, you will not be sent off. Remain quietly in your place." Early in September, she was deported in company with a great many other defenceless women.
4. When the soldiers were digging for ammunition and guns in the walls and refuse heaps of AF., they found in a wall close to a house an iron ball wrapped in a piece of cloth. The woman of the house, a young bride, happened to be standing before the door, and the soldiers noticed that the cloth of her apron was the same as that in which the ball was wrapped. The woman was seized, sent to Adana and thrown into prison. This was on the last day of May, and in October she was still in prison. The Bible Woman in Adana discovered her there, and said her condition was horrible. She is confined in a small room with three or four Turkish women of desperate character, living in terrible filth and mostly without food.
5. The pastor of Tchomakly, a village near Everek, passed through AF. en route for the desert. He is a Marsovan graduate and a pastor in the Kaisaria district. He had been assured by the Everek Kaimakam that nothing should happen to him, and that, even if the village were deported, he would not be included, as he was not a native of the place. At three o'clock in the morning
[page 501] FOREIGN RESIDENT.
soldiers entered the village, roused all the inhabitants and told them to be ready to depart in two hours. When they came to the pastor's door, they said: " You also must go. You went to Talas to talk with the Americans a few days ago." His wife, not having suitable shoes, had her feet bound up in skins.
6. Lydia was the wife of a soldier who, at the time when the court-martial officer came to AF., was a deserter and in hiding. However, he surrendered to the authorities, was pardoned, and was sent to the coast with the labour gang. She was assured by the court-martial officer (and, after his departure, by many of the local officers) that she should never be deported, in consideration of her being a soldier's wife. Throughout the summer, however, they played with her. Again and again she was given notice to leave, and then, upon entering a personal petition at the Government House and stating her case, she would be assured upon their word of honour that she would never be deported. The chief of police gave us the same assurance. Finally, early one morning, gendarmes came to her door and roughly told her to be ready to go in a few hours. She again took her three small children and went to the Government House. All in vain. She was given two camels for herself, the loads and the children. A fourth child was born under the burning sun of AG., and when she arrived in Aleppo with the child dead, she was only able to reach the hospital.
7. T. was for four years in charge of the Government Industrial in AF. This was closed when deportation began. He did his work so well that this Industrial was the best business in AF. He was living quietly in the building, guarding the property and stock of the Industrial. In the middle of September, when almost all the rest of AF. were exiled, he also received notification to go. Gendarmes came in the evening after dark and drove him, his invalid wife, and four children to the Govern ment Building. There they were to wait for animals or a cart to take them on their journey. In company with hundreds of others, they sat down on the bare ground in front of the Government Building, gathering their few possessions close to them lest they should be stolen. He and his family remained there two days and three nights before being sent on, and were exposed during one of these nights to a terrible rainstorm. They were within ten minutes of their home, but were not permitted to go there for shelter. His wife secretly made her way to our compound to ask for a little bread, as their supply for the journey was already gone.
[page 502] ADANA.
When Turkey became a belligerent in the November of last year (1914), there were Armenians and other Christians servilig in the Army under arms. Many of these came under fire both at the Dardanelles and in the expedition against Egypt. Later, the arms were taken away from the Armenians, and those in the Army were converted into "Labour Regiments," to which were attached the very considerable number of Armenians drafted into the Army later. These men were employed in road building, transport, trenching, etc., and rendered extensive and very important service. When the arms were taken from them, a feeling of anxiety took possession of the Armenians, in the thought that this action of the authorities might portend something. However, much was done in the Adana Province to reassure the people that Governmental action would be discriminating and severity exercised only against blameworthy or suspected people. In pursuance of this policy a number of men whose names had been listed during and after the massacre period of 1909 were put under arrest or surveillance.
In the early winter, the British and French war-vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean bombarded some points on the Gulf of Alexandretta, notably the town of Alexandretta and the branch line of the Baghdad Railway that runs to Alexandretta. The town of Dört Yöl—almost entirely Armenian—lies quite near the head of the Gulf on the plain of Issus about 20 miles from Alexandretta, and is a station on the line. That branch line of the railway was put out of commission. The Government officials made charge that the Dört Yöl people had communication with the hostile ships, affording them valuable information. A number of them were brought before the court-martial and imprisoned, of whom some were executed by hanging. Men were arrested and imprisoned in other places, notably Hadjin, and brought before the court-martial. These and other acts of the Government officials increased the anxiety, but in April the exiles from Zeitoun on their way to Konia (Iconium) passed through the city of Adana. They had suffered terribly, but they had considerable property with them, and also cattle and sheep. It was announced that these people would be settled on lands in the Konia district. This was somewhat reassuring, and there was hope that wholesale deportation or massacre was not in contemplation.
However, this assurance was converted into consternation. At midnight, in the latter part of April, gendarmes went through the city rapping at certain doors, searching the houses for arms and informing the inmates that in three days they were to be deported. In the third week in May, 70 families (three to four hundred people—men, women and children) were sent off in the
[page 503] FOREIGN RESIDENT.
direction of Konia. They had not reached the Cilician Gates Pass in the Taurus Mountains when they were turned back with the announcement that they had been pardoned and were to return to their homes. The joy of their return was almost equal to the consternation caused by the order for deportation. However, exiles from north of the Taurus (Marsovan, Kaisaria, etc.) in considerable numbers were passing through Adana to the Aleppo district. The explanation given was that that was being done because of revolutionary agitation in those districts. As nothing of overt import had been done on the part of the Armenians in Cilicia, the people of the district were reassured. There was an influential element among the Moslems—including influential officials—who opposed oppressive measures. The Governor was, to all appearances, strongly opposed. Insistent orders from Constantinople forced the deportation of groups of Armenians. Early in the movement towards Aleppo, men were left free to take their families or leave them. No massacring was done, though there was an uneasy feeling that it might occur. In this way various batches were deported, from whom word was received of their safe arrival in the Aleppo district. However, the suffering of deportation—abandonment of home and property and friends, the exposure and hunger on the road, the insanitary state of the concentration camps, and the rough treatment by gendarmes, and in many cases outrage and pillage—all this, though heart-breaking in itself, was not as bad as, or rather was much less horrible than, the torture of the crowds that suffered in the north and east.
Later in the year there was a distinct effort to save many of the Armenians. This effort synchronised with the order to exempt Catholics and Protestants. It seemed a success, and everybody was greatly encouraged. But an emissary from the Committee of Union and Progress at Constantinople arrived at that time, and was able to overturn the arrangement and secure an order for the immediate deportation of all. Exception was later made of some widows, of the wives and children of men serving in the labour regiments, and of men working in mills under Government contract and in the Baghdad Railway construction.
The great drive took place in the first week of September, when two-thirds of the Armenian population of Adana City were deported. Hadjin and Dört Yöl were treated very much more harshly, both in the process of eviction and on the road. The people were allowed to dispose of some of their properties, which they did at a great sacrifice ; still, they had to abandon the great mass of their properties, which was later confiscated. I would call attention to the fact that the appalling nature of the deportation is none the less appalling because there was comparatively less torture and outrage. It is only fair to state that one Moslem was scourged to death for participation in the robbery of some Christians that were being deported.
[page 504] ADANA. FOREIGN RESIDENT.
It is not merely the suffering of the outlawed and deported people that is appalling, but the effect of it all on the country. Two-thirds of the business of Adana City was dependent on Armenians, and the markets seemed deserted after they were driven out. The disaster to the whole province from the material standpoint is beyond calculation. However, it would appear that the whole scheme was intended to be a relentless effort on the part of the central authorities either to exterminate the Armenian nation or to reduce them to a condition like that of the people of Moab, as described by Isaiah in the last clause of the 16th chapter : "A remnant very small and of no account." The enormity is not so much in the torture, massacring, outrage, etc., as in the intention and effort to exterminate a nation. The Armenians have endured massacre and outrage and persecution and oppression ; this, however, shatters all hope of life and a future.
The Armenian Protestant communities are all deported with the pastors and leaders, but the men deported are a tower of strength to the suffering people in their exile. Let me quote from W. Effendi, from a letter he wrote a day before his deportation with his young wife and infant child, and with the whole congregation : " We now understand that it is a great miracle that our nation has lived so many years amongst such a nation as this. From this we realise that God can and has shut the mouths of lions for many years. May God restrain them ! I am afraid they mean to kill some of us, cast some of us into most cruel starvation and send the rest out of this country ; so I have very little hope of seeing you again in this world. But be sure that, by God's special help, I will do my best to encourage others to die manly. I will also look for God's help for myself to die as a Christian. May this country see that, if we cannot live here as men, we can die as men. May many die as men of God. May God forgive this nation all their sin which they do without knowing. May the Armenians teach Jesus' life by their death, which they could not teach by their life or have failed in showing forth. It is my great desire to see a Reverend Ali, or Osman, or Mohammed. May Jesus soon see many Turkish Christians as the fruit of his blood.
" May the war soon end, in order to save the Moslems from their cruelty (for they increase in that from day to day), and from their ingrained habit of torturing others. Therefore we are waiting on God, for the sake of the Moslems as well as of the Armenians. May He appear soon."
[page 505] ADANA. SECOND FOREIGN RESIDENT.
From the time Turkey began to mobilise in the autumn of 1914, before entering into the war, fear and questioning naturally took hold of the Armenians. First there was the unreasonable and irregular way in which the men were drafted into the Army or Labour Regiments ; and then there was the news concerning the harsh and cruel treatment of the male population of Dört Yöl, where all from the ages of about 16 to 70 years were suddenly sent away en masse to work on the roads in the Hassan Beyli district—this, on the mere rumour that fruit and food had been conveyed from Dört Yöl to one of the Allies' warships.
This was followed by a few selected men from Dört Yöl being hanged at intervals in the streets of Adana. One night in the winter (1914-15) the Government sent officers round the city into all Armenian houses, knocking the families up and demanding that all weapons should be given up, or actually searching for them. Think of the fright of many of them, thus rudely awakened ; this action was the death-knell to many hearts. Soon after this, Armenians whose names had been registered as having escaped or defended themselves during the massacres of 1909, or who were found in possession of arms, or were under some other accusation, were collected and imprisoned. I am not sure what happened to these.
Then came the news of Zeitoun being deported. These hardy mountaineers were destined for Sultania, a low malarial district on the plain beyond Konia. Most of these villagers passed through Tarsus en route, save those who had died on the way. A Tarsus graduate from Zeitoun who had hoped to become a teacher, voluntarily followed his mother, a widow, to Sultania, for the reason that she had no one to take care of her, neither she nor his sister with her four children, as the latter's husband was imprisoned in Marash.
" Why imprisoned ? " I asked. " I do not know any reason," the boy replied. This boy recounted to me how the people had to live in this sultry region. Some one hundred souls, regardless of any distinction, among them a College Professor and a few leading people from Konia, were for a time crowded into the largest house in the place. They could not sleep, many were sick, children and babies crying, the heat great. Other houses were occupied likewise ; probably many people camped around. These poor people were not allowed to do anything to earn money or to go beyond a certain distance. Those who still had money for food helped the more needy as far as they could. This same student told me that while he was in Sultania 750 had died. Then the remainder were all despatched back to Tarsus to be forwarded to the Arabian desert.
[page 506] ADANA.
I may say here that thousands and thousands of Armenians passed from the north over the Cilician plain, telling heart-rending stories of massacre or brutal treatment on the journey. Some mothers had given all the money in their possession to save their daughters from being violated. One said she had given 22 liras for a certain distance only. Poor women had to leave their babies and young children by the roadside ; they were too exhausted to carry them any longer. The suffering of some in childbirth cannot be dwelt upon. One such, not of the poorest class, was thrust out of her house in —— when deportation began, and cruelly forced along the road. She died after two hours.
As long as I live I can never forget the camp I saw twice near Geulik station, not far from Tarsus. Here there were 10,000 to 15,000 Armenians awaiting further deportation towards the desert. They were in the broiling sun, with no shade or shelter save the rudest arrangements—anything that came to hand thrown over poles or sticks. There were all kinds of people and families of all ages, crowded together within a certain radius, beyond which they might not go. They looked scorched by the sun, their clothes were fast wearing out, and there were poor little children, boys and girls, taken from school, with simply nothing to do but await their fate, which mercifully they could not realise as the adults could. There was a stream of water a little distance off, and if only it had been clean it would have been a boon. It was used for rinsing clothes as well as drinking. There were no sanitary arrangements whatever, and the air was impregnated with foul odours. We witnessed all this from the train, which drew up at the station alongside the camp. The Government would not allow any help in money, food, or medicine to be given ; if they knew of anyone so doing, they stopped it. In Tarsus, Mrs. X., who was working among the refugees all the time, trying to show sympathy and give help in any little way possible, was stopped at last. But I must go back to Adana.
As the Armenian men of Adana were drafted into the Army or Labour Battalions, and the Armenian shops were robbed at pleasure without payment, great numbers of families did not know where to look for food, and even the wealthier business men were beginning to see destitution looming ahead.
I think it was at the end of April (or May) that some thirty picked families (few of them particularly wealthy) were ordered to leave their homes for an unknown destination. This looked like the beginning of deportation ; but owing, as we had reason to believe, to pressure being put on the Government at that time by the American Ambassador, who did his utmost to save Adana, Tarsus and Mersina from deportation, all these families save a few young men were allowed to return to their homes
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within three weeks. No one could understand this strange transaction, but fresh hope awoke in people's hearts. It was short lived.
Circumstantial stories of all kinds of oppression and cruelty in one place or another kept arriving day after day, but no one even then could foretell what exactly was coming or what special fate was in store for themselves. Gradually the people became hopeless. All hearts were sorely tested, but those that knew their God proved their strength and peace in Him. Some were enabled to go farther—to cast themselves upon God's will and accept this cup of suffering (so imminent) as from the Father's hand. Oh, those were terrible days of suspense and heart-strain. In my house, in a Greek quarter, I was able to give room to a family I had long known. The wife had been a Bible Woman in the city for twelve years; the son was a graduate of the college, and there were two daughters—one a teacher and the other just graduated from the American school. The husband had care of the Protestant church buildings, and he used to bring back the news daily from the market. Many were the prayers which went up to God from this dear woman and others who sought to comfort the people. Never before had so many meetings been held in the poor city homes among the women, who crowded outside the doors if there was no room inside. Fifty, sixty or eighty were quite usual numbers. The church services also were unusually crowded, and God granted new life to many hearts, especially among the young men remaining.
Then the orders for the deportation of Adana came. The people, of course, did not know what to do with their things, while those who lived from hand to mouth had not the wherewithal to get food even to start with, let alone other necessities. What could be sold was sold, but the things went for a mere nothing, except in a few cases, where goods were bought to befriend and help the sellers. The Missionaries had not money to spare to buy, with all the numbers beseeching help. Those who could sell nothing had to leave all their belongings and stores save what they could carry with them. One Armenian preacher who was constantly appealed to at this time, from morning until night, by the distracted multitude—asking whether their names were called yet, what was to be done, and so on—expressed the situation thus : " It is as if the people were drowning in a sea of trouble and each one were trying to catch at a straw to save himself."
To give an example of the stony-hearted attitude of the Government official in charge of this work of deportation, I may cite the case of a young man of good mental ability, who for many years had been teaching and helping the blind in many ways. Through spinal disease he had become very badly deformed and could not walk. He was taken down to the Sarai
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in a bath-chair, hoping to elicit pity and not be cast adrift with his deaf mother, whom he supported. The only answer he received was : " Get out with you and be gone; the sooner the better." Some money was given to this crippled young man, but long before reaching Aleppo he had spent all on conveyances.
Another instance of the inhumanity of man towards his fellows in suffering, of which we have since heard and read over and over again until our hearts can bear no more, was the treatment accorded to, and pity withheld from, the Armenian people from all regions who were being transported by railway during the great heat. They were packed like cattle, and as train after train passed through Adana station, the people cried out for water and thrust out their hands beseechingly, but to no avail, although water was actually at hand. No one must show them any mercy. This we heard from witnesses living near the station, who said that they could not endure the sight, and did not know how to remain where they were. When some of our special friends were starting, at the station, one of our party, Dr. Z., tried to give a basket of grapes to a family, but was not permitted. What happened to the crowds after they reached Aleppo we did not then know. From our deported Adana people there came piteous messages for money, as the little in hand was soon exhausted. Some short letters came through from the Aleppo centre. One wrote : " Better drown your girls than let them come here." Another, well known to me, wrote to his sisters, who were at the American school : "Be thankful you have such a place to be in as the place where you are, and that you are not here."
It is computed that 20,000 were deported from Adana alone. We can testify to the mercy which permitted our Cilieian people to go en masse, i.e., in families, save for those members already taken by the Government, ostensibly for the Army or the Labour Regiments. As far as we heard, those who were able to obtain means of transit and continued their journey from Osmania (whither they went by rail) to Aleppo, were not attacked or massacred on the way. How many were left behind sick or died in Osmania cannot be said.
Circumstances obliged me and some other members of the Missionary Circle to be away from the heat of the plain for part of July and August, and it was during these weeks that the great deportation en masse of the Armenian population took place from Adana. Though absent, one was straining for news all the time. When we were in the hills above Tarsus, details of the refugees and their plight were constantly being sent by Mrs. X. to her daughter and son-in-law, in whose company I was. One could only write " farewells " before the word to start was actually given, feeling sure that the order to depart would be extended to all our friends without exception. Our American friends said, in their kindness : " We are glad you were not here ;
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it was too heart-breaking to bear." And, indeed, on our return the whole atmosphere of the place, the empty houses and streets of the city with scarcely an Armenian to be seen, spoke more of death than the burnt, empty city after the massacres of 1909.
I conclude with quotations from a letter written by a fellow-worker of many years standing. He and his wife and other members of his family left with the crowd of Protestants in August, 1915. The letter was given me about two weeks later by a relative. It reads thus :—
" God can shut again the mouths of lions. Do you know that God has shut the mouths of many lions for many years ? We now understand that it is a great miracle that our nation (the Armenians) has lived so many years among such a nation (the Moslems). Oh, how can men become such devils in so short a time ? May God restrain them. I am afraid they mean to kill some of us, cast some of us into most cruel starvation, and send the rest into the desert ; so I have very little hope of seeing you again in this world. But be sure that, by God's special help, I will do my best to encourage others to die manfully. I will also await God's help for myself, to die as a Christian.
" May this country see that, if we cannot live here as men, we can die as men. May many die as men of God. May God forgive this nation (the Moslems) all their sin which they do without knowing. . . . May Jesus soon see many Mohammedan Christians as the fruit of His blood.
" May the war soon end, in order to save the Moslems from their cruelty and savagery, for they increase in devilry from day to day, and from their ingrained habit of torturing their fellow men. Therefore we are waiting on God, for the sake of the Moslems as well as the Armenians. May He soon appear."
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