CHAPTER VII

NEW LIGHT ON THE ARMENIAN MASSACRES

(1914-1915)

 

IN 1915, the time of the vast extermination of Armenians, Consul Jesse B. Jackson was stationed at Aleppo, and greatly distinguished himself by the aid, which he gave those unfortunate people. As Consul Jackson was in these horrible scenes, it would be interesting to read his reports, if they were obtainable, but unfortunately they are not. Quotation can fortunately be made from the account, here published for the first time, of a native-born American citizen who was at Aleppo and was an eye-witness of the things which he describes:

“The forerunner of events in which the unfortunate Armenians were to be massacred and forced to undergo the most severe hardships occurred at Zeitun, a town situated about five days’ journey north of Aleppo, in February, 1915, when, with great reluctance, the Armenians were made to submit to disarmament by the Turks. Following the Zeitun incident, similar action was taken in Aintab, Alexandretta, Marash, Urfa, etc.”

 “Shortly after the disarmament of the Armenians in the above-mentioned places, the deportations began, which were so destructive to the Armenian race and were carried out on orders from the Turkish officials in Constantinople.”

“Throughout the terrible days of the deportation, Consul Jackson was repeatedly called upon to render assistance and to use every effort to prevent the deportation of any one in Aleppo. This, during the time when he represented fifteen different countries and was protecting their various interests. (This was during the war, of course, before Turkey severed relations with the United States.) It can be readily seen that his position was a very delicate one, and every move on his part had to be made with the utmost care in order not to call down upon him and especially his assistants, the displeasure of the Turkish authorities.”

“While Consul Jackson was endeavoring to the best of his ability to stop a massacre in Aleppo, news began to leak in of the terrible atrocities that were occurring in connection with the deportations from Sivas, Harput, Trebizonde, Bitlis, Diarbekir, Mardin, Caesarea, Konia, Adana, Mersina and other cities and towns in the district.”

“Gradually small numbers sent away from the above mentioned towns began to arrive in Aleppo, relating the harrowing details of the deportations, or the actual killing of relatives and friends, or the unbelievable brutalities of the gendarmes toward young girls, and more attractive women, or the carrying off by Turks and Kurds of beautiful girls and countless other atrocious crimes committed against them.”

“One of the most terrible sights ever witnessed in Aleppo was the arrival, early in August, 1915, of some five thousand terribly emaciated, dirty, ragged and sick women and children, three thousand on one day and two thousand the following day. These people were the only survivors of the thrifty and prosperous Armenians of the province of Sivas, carefully estimated to have been originally over three hundred thousand souls. And what became of the balance? From the most intelligent of those that reached Aleppo, it was learned that in early spring of 1915 the men and boys over fourteen years old had been called to the police stations in that province on different mornings stretching over a period of several weeks and had been sent off in groups of from one thousand to two thousand each, tied together with ropes and that nothing had over been heard of them thereafter. Their fate has been recorded in the annals of God, so is needles to dwell thereon here. These survivors related the most harrowing experiences that they endured en route, parting from their homes as they did before Easter, traveling perhaps a thousand miles and reaching Aleppo in August, about four months afterward, afoot, without sufficient food, and even denied drink by the brutal gendarmes when they came to the wells by the way side. Hundreds of the prettiest women and girls had been stolen by the Turkish tribes who came among them every day.”

Of the fate of the men and boys over fourteen, who were carried away and never heard of again, many corroborating accounts were received at Smyrna. It is certain that they were killed, the Turks chopping many of them to death with axes, to save ammunition.

As we are still dealing with the systematic extermination of Christians previous to the burning of Smyrna by the Turks, a few pages will be devoted to the destruction of the Armenian nation, the most horrible crime in the history of the human race in its details of lust and savagery and suffering, as well as in extent, and which definitely outlaws its perpetrators from the society of human beings and from the fellowship of civilized nations, until such time as full repentance is convincingly shown and an honest effort made, in so far as possible, to make reparation.

There have probably been destructive movements that have cost more lives than that of the extermination of the Christians by the Turks. Tamerlane, for instance, swept over vast stretches of country, killing and burning for the mere love of destruction. He spared neither Mussulman nor Christian. But there were features of fiendish cruelty and long-drawn-out suffering in the Ottoman persecution of the Christians that did not characterize the methods of Tamerlane.

Reference will be made to the most notable official collections of evidence on the subject, and two important documents, reports of American eyewitnesses, will be given. These latter have never before been published. One of the fullest and most reliable sources of information on the Armenian massacres is the official publication of the British Parliament, 1915 entitled “The Treatment of the Armenians”, containing documents presented to Viscount Grey of Falloden, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, by Viscount Brice. A copy can be found in the Library of Congress, at Washington. These documents really constitute a large volume, giving evidence from all sources as to the Armenian butcheries amid extermination by slow torture. Much of the testimony here given is so revolting, and so outrages all human feelings and sensibilities, that one refrains from quoting it.

Lord Grey, then British Secretary of State, on receiving these documents, wrote to Viscount Bryce:

“My Dear Bryce: It Is a terrible mass of evidence, but I feel it ought to be published and widely studied by all who have the broad interests of humanity at heart. It will be valuable, not only for the immediate information of public opinion as to the conduct of the Turkish Government toward this defenseless people, but also as a mine of information for historians in the future.

(Signed) GREY OF FALLODEN

Various opinions of distinguished people are given as to the credibility of this evidence. Among others, Gilbert Murray, the famous scholar and poet, says:

“The evidence of these letters and reports will bear any scrutiny and overpower any skepticism.”

An expert on the matter of evidence, Moorfield Storey, formerly President of the American Bar Association, writes cautiously but conclusively:

“In my opinion, the evidence which you print is as reliable as that upon which rests our belief in many of the universally accepted facts of history, and I think it establishes beyond any reasonable doubt the deliberate purpose of the Turkish authorities practically to exterminate the Armenians, and their responsibility for the hideous atrocities which have been perpetrated upon that unhappy people.”

Other works to be consulted in this connection, filled with corroborating and overwhelming testimony are: “Beginning Again at Ararat”, by Doctor Mabel E. Elliott; “Shall This Nation Die”, by Reverend Joseph Naayem; and most convincing of all, the “Secret Report on the Massacres of Armenia”, by Doctor Johannes Lepsius, German missionary and President of the German Orient Mission. Doctor Lepsius’ explanation of the necessity for the secrecy of his report, which was made to his “friends of’ the mission, is illuminating:

“Dear Friends of the Mission: The following report which I am sending to you absolutely confidentiality, has been printed as a manuscript. It can not, either as a whole or in part, be given to the public, nor utilized. The censor can not authorize, during the war, publications concerning events in Turkey. Our political and military interests oblige us with imperious demands. Turkey is our ally. In addition to having defended her own country, she has rendered service to us ourselves by her valiant defense of the Dardanelles. Our fraternity of arms with Turkey imposes, then, obligations, but it does not hinder us from fulfilling the duties of humanity.”

“But, if we must be quiet in public, our conscience does not, however, cease to speak. The most ancient people of Christianity is in danger of being wiped out, in so far as it is in the power of the Turks; six sevenths of the Armenian people have been despoiled of their possessions, driven from their firesides, and, in so far as they have not accepted Islam, have been killed or deported into the desert. The same fate has happened to the Nestonians of Syria, and part of the Greek Christians have suffered.”

Doctor Lepsious prepares his report in the manner of true German scholar. It is detailed, exhaustive and authoritative.

A prominent foreign official, not a German, has already been mentioned, who was constrained to keep silent as to Turkish atrocities. How strong the Turk is! He can do what he pleases, can break all time laws of God and man, and everybody, for some reason or other, must keep quiet about it. A redeeming feature of German complicity in the Armenian horrors was the acquittal by a German court of the Armenian who wreaked justice upon Talaat Bey. It is said that the testimony of German missionaries influenced the court to render that judgment.

The heart-rending and harrowing details of the wholesale murder of the Armenians can be drawn out indefinitely. Suffice it to say that, in addition to actual and repeated killings on a grand scale, the plant of doing to death by the slow torture of deportation is one of the most devilish that depraved and fiendish brains have ever conceived.

A fresh contribution to the subject confirmatory of all that has hitherto been written is the report of Walter M. Geddes, of the MacAndrews and Forbes Company, of New York, which was handed to me by Mr. Geddes a short time before his unfortunate death in Smyrna. Mr. Geddes being dead, no fear exists of prejudicing him with the Turks by using his name. It is perhaps the most remarkable account of a great historic massacre by slow torture that has ever been written, and derives its vividness of detail from the fact that the writer describes the things that he actually saw.

 

 

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