Armenian Genocide ; Eye-Witness Accounts ( Part 3)

In 1916, a book was published entitled “The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-16. Documents presented to Viscount Grey of Fallodon, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs”, by Viscount Bryce which contained a comprehensive collection of documents produced by a variety of people who were eye-witnesses to the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire. This research and abridged summary is taken directly from an original copy published at the time by His Majesty’s Stationery Office in London.


Document 8 : Extracts from a letter, dated Athens 8th/21st July 1915, from an Armenian formerly resident in Turkey to a prominent Armenian in Western Europe.

Events have been taking place in Turkey of which I imagine that you have no first-hand or reliable information on account of the strict censorship and scarcity of travellers…

They just began to inform me by saying that the condition of the Armenians in Cilicia was awful. The town of Dort Yol after having been cleared of its Armenian population has been peacefully occupied by Turkish families, and not by the military authorities….The whole of the Armenian inhabitants have been sent away – turned out of their homes – and are naturally suffering from hunger….Before evacuation, some nine leading merchants were hanged on the accusation that they were in communication with the British fleet and were spying for the Allied forces.

…The Turks of Tarsus and Adana are showing the same disposition as they did before the massacres of 1909.

Missionaries from Beirut state that the same persecution is being carried out against Christian Syrians.

…And then from correspondents at Bitlis, his informants had had news that whole villages were embracing Mohammedanism in order to escape tortures, as the object of the massacres was not simply to kill but to torture.

The American Ambassador at Constantinople, after asking the Turkish government to stop the massacres went to the German Ambassador. But Herr Wangenheim said he could not interfere in any way with Turkey’s internal affairs!

All these informants do not hide their belief, based on what they have actually seen, that German policy is at the back of the movement for a clean Mohammedan “Turkey for the Turks”.

I will give your Excellency another coincident piece of evidence. In May 1914 I travelled with Dr Niazim Bey…The Doctor said that the work of the Turkish Government was very complicated, and he laid all the fault of it on the ancestors of the modern Turks who….had not been far-sighted enough to cleanse all of the country they ruled of the Christian element….Had they done this bit of cleaning up at a time when nobody could protest, there would have been an easy task now for the heads of the Government in governing…

The Russian retreat has intoxicated the Turks. They think they have their chance now and evidence shows that their almighty ally Germany encourages them in their effort at house cleansing. The note of the Allied Powers is no different…

I believe that the Germans did not want to exterminate the Armenians unless the latter proved of military danger in the present game; but I imagine the Armenians have incurred the Germans’ displeasure in this regard.

…is proved by the fact that wholesale massacres and deportations have been specific to regions of which the inhabitants might be of especial help to an invading army. For instance Dort Yol and Zeitoun would be of excellent help had the Allies made a landing at Payas….Take the case of Erzeroum, again a frontier town, which besides individual hangings, has been the scene of wholesale massacres; while towns far away from the theatre of war such as Angora, Broussa, Konia, Constantinople etc although not exempted from persecution, have still not been subjected to wholesale massacres and deportations.

Document 9 : Letter dated 3rd / 16th August 1915, conveyed beyond the Ottoman frontier by an Armenian refugee from Cilicia in the sole of her shoe.

In haste and in secret I seize this opportunity of bringing to your ears the cry of agony which goes out from the survivors of this terrible crisis through which we are passing at the moment. They are exterminating our nation, mowing it down. Perhaps this will be the last cry from Armenia that you will hear; we have no longer any fear of death, we see it close at hand, this death of the whole people. We are waifs who cry for the lives of our brothers. These lines cannot describe our misery; it would need volumes of reports to do justice to that.

At the present moment there are…more than 10,000 deported widows and children ( among the latter one sees no boys above eleven years of age). They have been on the road from three to five months; they have been plundered several times over, and have marched along naked and starving; the Government gave them on one single occasion a morsel of bread….they are so exhausted that they cannot stand upright ; the majority have great sores on their feet, through having had to march barefoot.

…My friends, I have not time to tell you more; one may say with truth that not a single Armenian is left in Armenia; soon there will be none left in Cilicia either. The Armenian, robbed of  his life, his goods his honour, conveys to you his last cry for help – help to save the lives of the survivors! Money to buy them bread! There is a rumour here that the Government will allow the women and the children under 17 years of age to leave the country. How are they to do it? Where are they to go? What ship is to take them? Who will provide the funds? From moment to moment we are waiting for relief, to stave off the death of the Nation. Be quick, never mind how ; send us money, we have no means of communication!

The urgent need is money! Make that clear to the Armenian colony in America. Money! Money!

1600 Armenians have had their throats cut in the prisons of Diyarbekir…there is not a single man left above the age of 13 years; the girls have been outraged mercilessly; we have seen their mutilated corpses tied together in batches of 4, 8 , or 10 and cast into the Euphrates. The majority had been mutilated in an indescribable manner.

The above facts have been gathered from official sources and eye-witnesses.

Black famine reigns in this town; we have 15000 deported Armenians here, who are being sent on in batches to Arabia. The whole of Armenia is being cleared out.

I sign this letter with my blood!

Categories: Armenian Genocide

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