TWO WAR YEARS IN CONSTANTINOPLE
[page 42] TWO WAR YEARS
The great Armenian persecutions—The system of Talaat and Enver—A denunciation of Germany as a cowardly and conscienceless accomplice.
In spite of all, I returned to Constantinople from my first visit to the Dardanelles with very little diminution of friendly feeling towards the Turks. My first experience when I returned to the capital was the beginning of the Armenian persecutions. And here I may as well say at once that my love for present-day Turkey perished absolutely with this unique example in the history of modern human civilisation of the most appalling bestiality and misguided jingoism. This, more than everything else I saw on the German-Turkish side throughout the war, persuaded me to take up arms against my own people and to adopt the position I now hold. I say "German-Turkish," for I must hold the German Government as equally responsible with the Turks
[page 43] IN CONSTANTINOPLE
for the atrocities they allowed them to commit.
Here in neutral Switzerland, where so many of these unfortunate Armenians have taken refuge and such abundance of information is available, so much material has been collected that it is unnecessary for me to go into details in this book. Suffice it to say that the narration of all the heart-rending occurrences that came to my personal knowledge during my stay in Turkey, without my even trying to collect systematic information on the subject, would fill a book. To my deep sorrow I have to admit that, from everything I have heard from reliable sources—from German Red Cross doctors, officials and employees of the Baghdad Railway, members of the American Embassy, and Turks themselves—although they are but individual cases—I cannot regard as exaggerated such appalling facts and reports as are contained for example in Arnold Toynbee's Armenian Atrocities.1
In this little book, however, which partakes
1 This and other works on the subject came to my notice for the first time a few days before going to press. Before that (in Turkey, Austria, and Germany) they were quite unprocurable.
[page 44] TWO WAR YEARS
more of the nature of an essay than an exhaustive treatise, my task will be rather to determine the system, the underlying political thought and the responsibility of Germany in all these horrors—massacres, the seduction of women, children left to die or thrown into the sea, pretty young girls carried off into houses of ill repute, the compulsory conversion to Islam and incorporation in Turkish harems of young women, the ejection from their homes of eminent and distinguished families by brutal gendarmes, attacks while on the march by paid bands of robbers and criminals, "emigration" to notorious malaria swamps and barren desert and mountain lands, victims handed over to the wild lusts of roaming Bedouins and Kurds—in a word, the triumph of the basest brutality and most cold-blooded refinement of cruelty in a war of extermination in which half a million men, and according to some estimates many more, have perished, while the remaining one and a half million of this most intelligent and cultured race, one of the principal pioneers of progress in the Ottoman Empire, see nothing but complete extinction staring them in the face through the rupture of family
[page 45] IN CONSTANTINOPLE
ties, the deprivation of their rights, and economic ruin.
The Armenian persecutions began in all their cruelty, practically unannounced, in April 1915. Certain events on the Caucasus front, which no number of lies could explain away, gave the Turkish Government the welcome pretext for falling like wild animals on the Armenians of the eastern vilajets—the so-called Armenia Proper—and getting to work there without deference to man, woman, or child. This was called "the restoration of order in the war zone by military measures, rendered necessary by the connivance of the inhabitants with the enemy, treachery and armed support." The first two or three hundred thousand Armenians fell in the first rounding up.
That in those outlying districts situated directly on the Russian frontier a number of Armenians threw in their lot with the advancing Russians, no one will seek to deny, and not a single Armenian I have spoken to denies it. But the "Armenian Volunteer Corps" that fought on the side of Russia was composed for the most part—that at least has been proved
[page 46] TWO WAR YEARS
beyond doubt—of Russian Armenians settled in Transcaucasian territory.
So far as the Turkish Armenians taking part are concerned, no reasonable being would think of denying Turkey as Sovereign State the formal right of taking stringent measure against these traitors and deserters. But if I expressly recognise this right, I do so with the big reservation that the frightful sufferings undergone for centuries by a people left by their rulers to the mercy of marauding Kurds and oppressed by a government of shameless extortioners, absolutely absolve these deserters in the eyes of the whole civilised world from any moral crime.
And yet I would willingly have gone so far for the benefit of the Turks, in spite of their terrible guilt towards this people, as perhaps to keep my own counsel on the subject, if it had merely been a case of the execution of some hundreds under martial law or the carrying out of other measures—such as deportation—against a couple of thousand Armenians and these strictly confined to men. It is even possible that Europe and America would have pardoned Turkey for taking even stronger
[page 47] IN CONSTANTINOPLE
steps in the nature of reprisals or measures of precaution against the male inhabitants of that part of Armenia Proper which was gradually becoming a war zone. But from the very beginning the persecutions were carried on against women and children as well as men, were extended to the hundred thousand inhabitants of the six eastern vilajets, and were characterised by such savage brutality that the methods of the slave-drivers of the African interior and the persecution of Christians under Nero are the only thing that can be compared with them.
Every shred of justification for the Turkish Government in their attempt to establish this as an "evacuation necessary for military purposes and for the prevention of unrest" entirely vanishes in face of such methods, and I do not believe that there is a single decent German, cognisant of the facts of the case, who is not filled with real disgust of the Young Turkish Government by such cold-blooded butchery of the inhabitants of whole districts and the deportation of others with the express purpose of letting them die en route. Any-
[page 48] TWO WAR YEARS
one with human feelings, however pro-Turkish he may be politically, cannot think otherwise.
This "evacuation necessary for military purposes" emptied Armenia Proper of men. How often have Turks themselves told me—I could mention names, but I will not expose my informants, who were on the whole decent exceptions to the rule, to the wrath of Enver or Talaat—how often have they assured me that practically not a single Armenian is to be found in Armenia! And it is equally certain that scarcely one can be left alive of all that horde of deported men who escaped the first massacres and were hunted up hill and down dale in a state of starvation, exposed to attacks by Kurds, decimated by spotted typhus, and finally abandoned to their fate in the scorching deserts of Northern Mesopotamia and Northern Syria. One has only to read the statistics of the population of the six vilajets of Armenia Proper to discover the hundreds of thousands of victims of this wholesale murder.
But unfortunately that was not all. The Turkish Government went farther, much farther. They aimed at the whole Armenian
[page 49] IN CONSTANTINOPLE
people, not only in Armenia itself, but also in the "Diaspora," in Anatolia Proper and in the capital. They were at that time some hundred thousand. In this case they could scarcely go on the principle of "evacuation of the war zone," for the inhabitants were hundreds of miles both from the Eastern front and from the Dardanelles, so they had to resort to other measures.
They suddenly and miraculously discovered a universal conspiracy among the Armenians of the Empire. It was only by a trick of this kind that they could succeed in carrying out their system of exterminating the entire Armenian race. The Turkish Government skilfully influenced public opinion throughout the whole world, and then discovered, nay, arranged for, local conspiracies. They then falsified all the details so that they might go on for months in peace and quiet with their campaign of extermination.
In a series of semi-official articles in the newspapers of the Committee of Young Turks it was made quite clear that all Armenians were dangerous conspirators who, in order to shake off the Ottoman yoke, had collected firearms
[page 50] TWO WAR YEARS
and bombs and had arranged, with the help of English and Russian money, for a terrible slaughter of Turks on the day that the English fleet overcame the armies on the Dardanelles.
I must here emphasise the fact that all the arguments the Turkish Government brought against the Armenians did not escape my notice. They were indeed evident enough in official and semi-official publications and in the writings of German "experts on Turkey." I investigated everything, even right at the beginning of my stay in Turkey, and always from a thoroughly pro-Turkish point of view. That did not prevent me however, from coming to my present point of view.
Herr Zimmermann, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, has only got to refer to the date of his letter to the editorial staff of my paper, in which he speaks of my confidential report to the paper on this subject which went through his hands and aroused his interest, and he will find what opinions I held as early as the summer of 1916 on the subject of the Armenian persecutions—and this without my having any particular sympathy for the Armenians, for it was not till much later
[page 51] IN CONSTANTINOPLE
that I got to know them and their high intellectual qualities through personal intercourse.
Here I can only give my final judgment on all these pros and cons, and say to the best of my knowledge and opinion, that after the first act in this drama of massacre and death—the brutal "evacuation of the war zone" in Armenia Proper—the meanest, the lowest, the most cynical, most criminal act of race-fanaticism that the history of mankind has to show was the extension of the system of deportation, with its wilful neglect and starvation of the victims, to further hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the Capital and Interior. And these were people who, through their place of residence, their surroundings, their social status, their preoccupation in work and wage-earning, were quite incapable of taking any active part in politics.
Others of them, again, belonged to families of high social standing and culture, bound to the land by a thousand ties, coming of a well-to-do, old-established stock, and from traditional training and ordinary prudence holding themselves scrupulously apart from all revolutionary doings. All were surrounded by a
[page 52] TWO WAR YEARS
far superior number of inhabitants belonging to other races.
This diabolical crime was committed solely and only because of the Turkish feeling of economic and intellectual inferiority to that non-Turkish element, for the set purpose of obtaining handsome compensation for themselves, and was undertaken with the cowardly acquiescence of the German Government in full knowledge of the facts.
Of this long chain of crime I saw at least the beginning thousands of times with my own eyes. Hardly had I returned from my first visit to the Dardanelles when these persecutions began in the whole of Anatolia and even in Constantinople, and continued with but slight intermissions of a week or two at different times till shortly before I left Constantinople in December 1916.
That was the time when in the flourishing western vilajets of Anatolia, beginning with Brussa and Adabazar, where the well-stocked farms in Armenian hands must have been an eyesore to a Government that had written "forcible nationalisation" on their standard, the whole household goods of respectable fam-
[page 53] IN CONSTANTINOPLE
ilies were thrown into the street and sold for a mere nothing, because their owners often had only an hour till they were routed out by the waiting gendarme and hustled off into the Interior. The fittings of the houses, naturally unsaleable in the hurry, usually fell to the lot of marauding "mohadjis" (Mohammedan immigrants), who, often enough armed to the teeth by the "Committee," began the disturbances which were then exposed as "Armenian conspiracies."
That was the time when mothers, apparently in absolute despair, sold their own children, because they had been robbed of their last penny and could not let their children perish on that terrible march into the distant Interior.
How many countless times did I have to look on at that typical spectacle of little bands of Armenians belonging to the capital being escorted through the streets of Pera by two gendarmes in their ragged murky grey uniforms with their typical brutal Anatolian faces, while a policeman who could read and write marched behind with a notebook in his hand beckoning people at random out of the crowd with an imperious gesture, and if their papers
[page 54] TWO WAR YEARS
showed them to be Armenians, simply herding them in with the rest and marching them off to the "Karakol" of Galata-Seraï, the chief police-station in Pera, where he delivered up his daily bag of Armenians!
The way these imprisonments and deportations were carried on is a most striking confutation of the claims of the Turkish Government that they were acting only in righteous indignation over the discovery of a great conspiracy. This is entirely untrue.
With the most cold-blooded calculation and method, the number of Armenians to be deported were divided out over a period of many months, indeed one may say over nearly a year and a half. The deportations only began to abate when the downfall of the Armenian Patriarchate in summer 1916 dealt the final blow to the social life of the Armenians. They more or less ceased in December 1916 with the gathering-in of all those who had formerly paid the military exemption tax —among them many eminent Armenian business men.
What can be said of the "righteous, spontaneous indignation" of the Armenian Govern-
[page 55] IN CONSTANTINOPLE
ment when, for example, of two Armenian porters belonging to the same house—brothers —one is deported to-day and the other not till a fortnight later; or when the number of Armenians to be delivered up daily from a certain quarter of the town is fixed at a definite figure, say two hundred or a thousand, as I have been told was the case by reliable Turks who were in full touch with the police organisation and knew the system of these deportations?
Of the ebb and flow of these persecutions, all that can be said is that the daily number of deportations increased when the Turks were annoyed over some Russian victory, and that the banishments miraculously abated when the military catastrophes of Erzerum, Trebizond, and Erzindjan gave the Government food for thought and led them to wonder if perhaps Nemesis was going to overtake them after all.
And then the method of transport! Every day towards evening, when these unfortunate creatures had been collected in the police-stations, the women and children were packed into electric-trams while the men and boys were compelled to go off on foot to Galata with a
[page 56] TWO WAR YEARS
couple of blankets and only the barest necessities for their terrible journey packed in a small bag. Of course they were not all poor people by any means.
This dire fate might befall anyone any day or any hour, from the caretaker and the tradesman to members of the best families. I know cases where men of high education, belonging to aristocratic families—engineers, doctors, lawyers—were banished from Pera in this disgusting way under cover of darkness to spend the night on the platforms of the Haidar-Pasha station, and then be packed off in the morning on the Anatolian Railway—of course they paid for their tickets and all travelling expenses!—to the Interior, where they died of spotted typhus, or, in rare cases after their recovery from this terrible malady, were permitted, after endless pleading, to return broken in body and soul to their homes as "harmless." Among these bands herded about from pillar to post like cattle there were hundreds and thousands of gentle, refined women of good family and of perfect European culture and manners.
For the most part it was the sad fate of
[page 57] IN CONSTANTINOPLE
those deported to be sent off on an endless journey by foot, to the far-off Arabian frontier, where they were treated with the most terrible brutality. There, in the midst of a population wholly foreign and but little sympathetic to their race, left to their fate on a barren mountain-side, without money, without shelter, without medical assistance, without the means of earning a livelihood, they perished in want and misery.
The women and children were always separated from the men. That was the characteristic of all the deportations. It was an attempt to strike at the very core of their national being and annihilate them by the tearing asunder of all family ties.
That was how a very large part of the Armenian people disappeared. They were the "persons transported elsewhere," as the elegant title of the "Provisional Han" ran, which gave full stewardship over their well-stocked farms to the "Committee" with its zeal for "internal colonisation" with purely Turkish elements. In this way the great goal was reached—the forcible nationalisation of a land of mixed races.
[page 58] TWO WAR YEARS
While Anatolia was gradually emptied of all the forces that had hitherto made for progress, while the deserted towns and villages and flourishing fields of those who had been banished fell into the hands of the lowest "Mohadjr"—hordes of the most dissipated Mohammedan emigrants—that stream of unhappy beings trickled on ever more slowly to its distant goal, leaving the dead bodies of women and children, old men and boys, as milestones to mark the way. The few that did reach the "settlement" alive—that is, the fever-ridden, hunger-stricken concentration camps—continually molested by raiding Bedouins and Kurds, gradually sickened and died a slower and even more terrible death.
Sometimes even this was not speedy enough for the Government, and a case occurred in Autumn 1916—absolutely verified by statements made by German employees on the Baghdad Railway—where some thousands of Armenians, brought as workers to this stretch of railway, simply vanished one day without leaving a trace. Apparently they were simply shipped off into the desert without more ado and there massacred.
[page 59] IN CONSTANTINOPLE
This terrible catalogue of crime on the part of the Government of Talaat is, however, in spite of all censorship and obstruction, being dealt with officially in all quarters of the globe —by the American Embassy at Constantinople and in neutral and Entente countries— and at the conclusion of peace it will be brought as an accusation against the criminal brotherhood of Young Turks by a merciless court of all the civilised nations of the world.
I have spoken to Armenians who have said to me, "In former times the old Sultan Abdul-Hamid used to have us massacred by thousands. We were delivered over by well-organised pogroms to the Kurds at stated times, and certainly we suffered cruelly enough. Then the Young Turks, as Adana 1909 shows, started on a bloodshed of thousands. But after what we have just gone through we long with all our hearts for the days of the old massacres. Now it is no longer a case of a certain number of massacred; now our whole people is being slowly but surely exterminated by the national hatred of an apparently civilised, apparently modern, and therefore infinitely more dangerous Government.
[page 60] TWO WAR YEARS
"Now they get hold of our women and children and send them long journeys on foot to concentration camps in barren districts where they die. The pitiful remains of our population in the villages and towns of the Interior, where the local authorities have carried out the commands of the central Government most zealously, are forcibly converted to Islam, and our young girls are confined in Turkish harems and places of low repute.
"The race is to vanish to the very last man, and why? Because the Turks have recognised their intellectual bankruptcy, their economic incompetence, and their social inferiority to the progressive Armenian element, to which Abdul-Hamid, in spite of occasional massacres, knew well enough how to adapt himself, and which he even utilised in all its power in high offices of state. Because now that they themselves are being decimated by a weary and unsuccessful war of terrible bloodshed that was lost before it was begun, they hope in this way to retain the sympathy of their peoples and preserve the superiority of their element in the State.
"These are not sporadic outbursts of wrath,
[page 61] IN CONSTANTINOPLE
as they were in the case of Hamid, but a definitely thought-out political measure against our people, and for this very reason they can hope for no mercy. Germany, as we have seen, tolerates the annihilation of our people through weakness and lack of conscience, and if the war lasts much longer the Armenian people will have ceased to exist. That is why we long for the old régime of Abdul-Hamid, terrible as it was for us."
Has there ever been a greater tragedy in the history of a people—and of a people that have never held any illusions as to political independence, wedged in as they are between two Great Powers, and who had no real irredentistic feelings towards Russia, and, up to the moment when the Young Turks betrayed them shamefully and broke the ties of comradeship that had bound them together as revolutionaries against the old despotic system of Abdul-Hamid, were as thoroughly loyal citizens of the Ottoman Empire as any of the other peoples of this land, excepting perhaps the Turks themselves.
I hope that these few words may have given sufficient indication of the spirit and outcome
[page 62] TWO WAR YEARS
of this system of extermination. I should like to mention just one more episode which affected me personally more than anything I experienced in Turkey.
One day in the summer of 1916 my wife went out alone about midday to buy something in the "Grand Rue de Péra." We lived a few steps from Galata-Seraï and had plenty of opportunity from our balcony of seeing the bands of Armenian deportees arriving at the police-station under the escort of gendarmes. Familiarity with such sights finally dulled our sympathies, and we began to think of them not as episodes affecting human individuals, but rather as political events.
On this particular day, however, my wife came back to the house trembling all over. She had not been able to go on her errand. As she passed the "karakol," she had heard through the open hall door the agonising groans of a tortured being, a dull wailing like the sound of an animal being tormented to death. "An Armenian," she was informed by the people standing at the door. The crowd was then dispersed by a policeman.
"If such scenes occur in broad daylight in
[page 63] IN CONSTANTINOPLE
the busiest part of the European town of Pera, I should like to know what is done to Armenians in the uncivilised Interior," my wife asked me. "If the Turks act like wild beasts here in the capital, so that a woman going through the main streets gets a shock like that to her nerves, then I can't live in this frightful country." And then she burst into a fit of sobbing and let loose all her pent-up passion against what she and I had had to witness for more than a year every time we set a foot out of doors.
"You are brutes, you Germans, miserable brutes, that you tolerate this from the Turks when you still have the country absolutely in your hands. You are cowardly brutes, and I will never set foot in your horrible country again. God, how I hate Germany!"
It was then, when my own wife, trembling and sobbing, in grief, rage, and disgust at such cowardliness, flung this denunciation of my country in my teeth that I finally and absolutely broke with Germany. Unfortunately I had known only too long that it had to come.
I thought of the conversations I had had about the Armenian question with members of
[page 64] TWO WAR YEARS
the German Embassy in Constantinople and, of a very different kind, with Mr. Morgenthau, the American Ambassador.
I had never felt fully convinced by the protestations of the German Embassy that they had done their utmost to put a check on the murderous attacks on harmless Armenians far from the theatre of war, who from their whole surroundings and their social class could not be in a position to take an active part in politics, and on the cold-blooded neglect and starvation of women and children apparently deported for no other reason than to die. The attitude of the German Government towards the Armenian question had impressed me as a mixture of cowardice and lack of conscience on the one hand and the most short-sighted stupidity on the other.
The American Ambassador, who took the most generous interest in the Armenians, and has done so much for the cause of humanity in Turkey, was naturally much too reserved on this most burning question to give a German journalist like myself his true opinion about the attitude of his German colleagues. But from the many conversations and discussions
[page 65] IN CONSTANTINOPLE
I had with him, I gathered nothing that would turn me from the opinion I had already formed of the German Embassy, and I had given him several hints of what that opinion was.
The attitude of Germany was, in the first place, as I have said, one of boundless cowardice. For we had the Turkish Government firmly enough in hand, from the military as well as the financial and political point of view, to insist upon the observance of the simplest principles of humanity if we wanted to. Enver, and still more Talaat, who as Minister of the Interior and really Dictator of Turkey was principally responsible for the Armenian persecutions, had no other choice than to follow Germany's lead unconditionally, and they would have accepted without any hesitation, if perhaps with a little grumbling, any definite ruling of Germany's even on this Armenian question that lay so near their hearts.
From hundreds of examples it has been proved that the Germany Embassy never showed any undue delicacy for even perfectly legitimate Turkish interests and feelings in matters affecting German interests, and that
[page 66] TWO WAR YEARS
they always got their own way where it was a question, for example, of Germans being oppressed, or superseded by Turks in the Government and ruling bodies. And yet I had to stand and look on when our Embassy was not even capable of granting her due and proper rights to a perfectly innocent German lady married to an Armenian who had been deported with many other Armenians. She appealed for redress to the German Embassy, but her only reward was to wait day after day in the vestibule of the Embassy for her case to be heard.
Turks themselves have found cynical enjoyment in this measureless cowardice of ours and compared it with the attitude of the Russian Government, who, if they had found themselves in a similar position to Germany, would have been prepared, in spite of the Capitulations being abolished, to make a political case, if necessary, out of the protection due to one poor Russian Jew. Turks have, very politely but none the less definitely, made it quite clear to me that at bottom they felt nothing but contempt for our policy of letting things slide.
Our attitude was characterised, secondly, by
[page 67] IN CONSTANTINOPLE
lack of conscience. To look on while life and property, the well-being and culture of thousands, are sacrificed, and to content oneself with weak formal protests when one is in a position to take most energetic command of the situation, is nothing but the most criminal lack of conscience, and I cannot get rid of the suspicion that, in spite of the fine official phrases one was so often treated to in the German Embassy on the subject of the "Armenian problem," our diplomats were very little concerned with the preservation of this people.
What leads me to bring this terrible charge against them? The fact that I never saw anything in all this pother on the part of our diplomats when the venerable old Armenian Patriarch appeared at the Embassy with his suite after some particularly frightful sufferings of the Armenian population, and begged with tears in his eyes for help from the Embassy, however late—and I assisted more than once at such scenes in the Embassy and listened to the conversations of the officials—I never saw anything but concern about German prestige and offended vanity. As far as I saw, there was never any concern for the fate of the Ar-
[page 68] TWO WAR YEARS
menian people. The fact that time and again I heard from the mouths of Germans of all grades, from the highest to the lowest, so far as they did not have to keep strictly to the official German versions, expressions of hatred against the Armenians which were based on the most short-sighted judgment, had no relation to the facts of the case, and were merely thoughtless echoes of the official Turkish statements.
And cases have actually been proved to have occurred, from the testimony of German doctors and Red Cross nurses returned from the Interior, of German officers light-heartedly taking the initiative in exterminating and scattering the Armenians when the less-zealous local authorities who still retained some remnants of human feeling, scrupled to obey the instructions of "Nur-el-Osmanieh" (the headquarters of the Committee at Stamboul).
The case is well known and has been absolutely verified of the scandalous conduct of two German officers passing through a village in far Asia Minor, where the Armenians had taken refuge in their houses and barricaded them to prevent being herded off like cattle.
[page 69] IN CONSTANTINOPLE
The order had been given that guns were to be turned on them, but not a single Turk had the courage to carry out this order and fire on women and children. Without any authority whatsoever, the two German officers then turned to and gave an exhibition of their shooting capacities!
Such shameful acts are of course isolated cases, but they are on a par with the opinions expressed about the Armenian people by dozens of educated Germans of high position -not to speak of military men at all.
A case of this kind where German soldiers were guilty of an attack on Armenians in the interior of Anatolia, was the subject of frequent official discussion at the German Embassy, and was finally brought to the notice of the authorities in Germany by Graf Wolff-Metternich, a really high-principled and humane man. The material result of this was that through the unheard-of cowardice of our Government, this man -who in spite of his age and in contrast to the weak-minded Freiherr von Wangenheim, and criminally optimistic had made many an attempt to get a firmer grip of the Turkish Government -was
[page 70] TWO WAR YEARS
simply hounded out of office by the Turks and weakly sacrificed without a struggle by Berlin.
What, finally, is one to think of the spirit of our German officials in regard to the Armenian question, when one hears such well-verified tales as were told me shortly before I left Constantinople by an eminent Hungarian banker (whose name I will not reveal) ? He related, for example, that "a German officer, with the title of Baron, and closely connected with the military attaché," went one day to the bazaar in Stamboul and chose a valuable carpet from an Armenian, which he had put down to his account and sent to his house in Pera. Then when it came to paying for it, he promptly set the price twenty pounds lower than had been stipulated, and indicated to the Armenian dealer that in view of the good understanding between himself (the officer) and the Turkish President of police, he would do well not to trouble him further in the matter! I only cite this case because I am unfortunately compelled to believe in its absolute authenticity.
Shortsighted stupidity, finally, is how I characterised the inactive toleration on the part of our Imperial representatives of this policy
[page 71] IN CONSTANTINOPLE
of extermination of the Armenian race. Our Government could not have been blind to the breaking flood of Turkish jingoism, and no one with any glimmer of foresight could have doubted for a moment since the summer of 1915 that Turkey would only go with us so long as she needed our military and financial aid, and that we should have no place, not even a purely commercial one, in a fully turkified Turkey.
In spite of the lamentations one heard often enough from the mouths of officials over this well-recognised and unpalatable fact, we tolerated the extermination of a race of over one and a half million of people of progressive culture, with the European point of view, intellectually adaptable, absolutely free from jingoism and fanaticism, and eminently cosmopolitan in feeling; we permitted the disappearance of the only conceivable counterbalance to the hopelessly nationalistic, anti-foreign Young Turkish element, and through our cowardice and lack of conscience have made deadly enemies of the few that will rise from the ruins of a race that used to be in thorough sympathy with Germany.
[page 72] TWO WAR YEARS
An intelligent German Government would, in face of the increasingly evident Young Turkish spirit, have used every means in their power to retain the sympathies of the Armenians, and indeed to win them in greater numbers. The Armenians waited for us, trembled with impatience for us, to give a definite ruling. Their disappointment, their hatred of us is unbounded now—and rightly so—and if a German ever again wants to take up business in the East he will have to reckon with this afflicted people so long as one of them exists.
To answer the Armenian question in the way I have done here, one does not necessarily need to have the slightest liking or the least sympathy for them as a race. (I have, however, intimated that they deserve at least that much from their high intellectual and social abilities. One only requires to have a feeling for humanity to abhor the way in which hundreds of thousands of these unfortunate people were disposed of; one only requires to understand the commercial and social needs of a vast country like Turkey, so undeveloped and yet so capable of development, to place the highest value on the preservation of this restless,
[page 73] IN CONSTANTINOPLE
active, and eminently useful element; one only requires to open one's eyes and look at the facts dispassionately to deny utterly and absolutely what the Turks have tried to make the world believe about the Armenians, in order that they might go on with their work of extermination in peace and quiet; one only requires to have a slight feeling of one's dignity as a German to refuse to condone the pitiful cowardice of our Government over the Armenian question.
The mixture of cowardice, lack of conscience, and lack of foresight of which our Government has been guilty in Armenian affairs is quite enough to undermine completely the political loyalty of any thinking man who has any regard for humanity and civilisation. Every German cannot be expected to bear as light-heartedly as the diplomats of Pera the shame of having history point to the fact that the annihilation, with every refinement of cruelty, of a people of high social development, numbering over one and a half million, was contemporaneous with Germany's greatest power in Turkey.
In long confidential reports to my paper I
[page 74] TWO WAR YEARS
made perfectly clear to them the whole position with regard to the Armenian persecutions and the brutal jingoistic spirit of the Young Turks apparent in them. The Foreign Office, too, took notice of these reports. But I saw no trace of the fruits of this knowledge in the attitude of my paper.
The determination never to re-enter the editorial offices of that paper came to me on that dramatic occasion when my wife hurled her denunciation of Germany in my teeth. I at least owe a personal debt of gratitude to the poor murdered and tortured Armenians, for it is to them I owe my moral and political enfranchisement.
Harry. Two War Years in Constantinople. USA: George H. Doran Company,