CHAPTER XVI

THE TURKS ARRIVE

 

ON THE morning of the ninth of September, 1922, about eleven o’clock, frightened screams were heard. Stepping to the door of my office, I found that a crowd of refugees, mostly women, were rushing in terror upon the Consulate and trying to seek refuge within, and that they were very properly being kept out by the two or three bluejackets assigned for the defense of the consular property.

One glance from the terrace which overlooked the quay made evident the cause of their terror. The Turkish cavalry were filing along the quay, on their way to their barracks at the Konak at the other end of the city. They were sturdy-looking fellows passing by in perfect order. They appeared to be well-fed and fresh. Many of them were of that Mongolian type which one sees among the Mohammedans of Asia Minor.

From the fact that not all the troops of Mustapha Khemal were provided with the smart uniforms of his picked troops, much has been made by Turkish apologists of the difference between “regulars” and “irregulars”. Any one who saw those mounted troops passing along the quay of Smyrna would testify, if he knew anything at all of military matters, that they were not only soldiers, but very good soldiers indeed, thoroughly trained and under perfect control of admirable officers. And any one who knows anything of Turkish character will testify that the Turk is essentially a soldier, extraordinarily amenable to the orders of his superiors. The Turk massacres when he has orders from headquarters and desists on the second when commanded by the same authority to stop. Mustapha Khemal was worshipped by that army of “regulars” and “irregulars” and his word was law.

As the Turkish cavalry was entering Smyrna on the morning of the ninth, some fool threw a bomb. The Turkish officer commanding the cavalry division received bloody cuts about the head. All the testimony is to the effect that he rode unconcernedly on. That is what a Turk would do, for of the courage of the race there is no doubt. It has been stated that this bomb was thrown by an Armenian, but I have seen no proof of the assertion, nor can the statement that the throwing of this bomb precipitated the massacre of the Armenians, be reconciled with the Turkish claim that their troops were so exasperated with the atrocities of the Greek army that they could not be restrained when reaching Smyrna. Armenians are not Greeks, and the fury of the Turks burst first upon their usual victims.

On the evening of the ninth, the looting and killing began. Shooting was heard in various parts of the town all night, and the following morning native-born Americans, both men and women, began to report seeing corpses lying about in the streets in the interior of the town. Nureddin Pasha, the Turkish commander-in-chief, issued a command that everybody was to go peacefully about his business and that order should be preserved. This caused a momentary feeling of security among a certain element of the non-Mussulman population, so that a number of shops that had been closed were reopened.

But this confidence was not of long duration, for the looting spread and the savagery increased. At first, civilian Turks, natives of the town, were the chief offenders. I myself saw such civilians armed with shotguns watching the windows of Christian houses ready to shoot at any head that might appear. These had the air of hunters crouching and stalking their prey. But the thing that made an unforgettable impression was the expression on their faces. It was that of an ecstasy of hate and savagery. There was in it, too, a religious exaltation, but it was not beautiful, it was the religion of the Powers of Darkness. One saw, too, all the futility of missionary work and efforts of conversion. Here was complete conviction, the absolute triumph of error and the doctrine of murder and pitilessness. There was something infinitely sad in those pale writhing faces on which seemed to shine the wan light of hell. One could not help pitying those men even while they were killing. One thought of lost souls and the torments of the damned. Those killers were unhappy.

The last Greek soldiers disappeared from Smyrna on the evening of the eighth and the Turks rapidly took over the town. Mounted patrols and little squads of soldiers began to appear on the streets, serving as police.

These were well enough behaved. There were credibly reported instances of minor Turkish officers interfering with the looters and evil-doers, and even of instances of kindness being shown to non-Mussulman natives. I saw no such kindness, however. If I had, I should be eager to report it, but I am willing to accept the testimony of others. The panic among the native Christians was now increasing to an alarming extent.

As the looting spread and the killing increased the American institutions were filled with frightened people. These institutions in Smyrna were the Intercollegiate Institute, a seminary for young girls; the Y. W. C. A., housed in a large building and surrounded by a garden and tennis court, and the Y. M. C. A.

The night of the tenth the shooting could still be heard in the Christian quarters and frightened people were besieging the doors of these institutions and screaming and begging in God’s name to be let in. A number of bluejackets were stationed in both the girls’ school and the Y. W. C. A., and if any of them chance to read these lines they will confirm the statement that the conduct of the American women teachers connected with the American institutions in and about Smyrna was without exception, above praise. There was not one who showed the least indication of fear or nervousness under the most trying circumstances; not one who flinched or wobbled for an instant throughout a situation which had scarcely a parallel in the history of the world for hideousness and danger. They endured fatigue almost beyond human endurance, that they might do all in their power to save their charges and give comfort and courage to the frightened hunted creatures who had thrown themselves on their protection. Such women as these throw imperishable luster on the name of American womanhood. Since none of them gave up or showed the white feather, we may conclude that they were worthy representatives of a worthy sisterhoood—the American Woman. For the men nothing need be said, for American men are expected to come up to the mark. I was proud of my whole colony at Smyrna.

Mention should be made of Jacobs, director of the Y. M. C. A. He was and is still, doubtless, famous for a genial smile which he himself calls the Y. M. C. A. smile.” Proceeding along the quay on an errand of mercy in connection with the refugees, he was stopped by several Turkish soldiers, searched and robbed of a sum of money. Continuing his route, he hailed a Turkish officer to whom he complained. The officer asked him; “Did they take it all”, “Fortunately, no,” replied Jacobs. “Well then,” said the officer, “hand over what you have left,” which Jacobs was compelled to do. As he left he was shot at, but fortunately not bit. This incident I did not see, but it was related to me by other Americans.

The Turks were now making a thorough and systematic job of killing Armenian men. The squads of soldiers which had given the inhabitants a certain amount of comfort, inspiring the belief that the regular army was beginning to function and would protect the citizens, were chiefly engaged in hunting down and killing Armenians. Some were dispatched on the spot while others were led out into the country in squads and shot, the bodies being left in piles where they fell. The Americans belonging to the various charitable institutions, whose duties took them into the interior of the town, reported an increasing number of dead and dying in the streets.

A native-born American reported that he had seen a man beaten to death with clubs by the Turks, “till there was not a whole bone left in his body.” The unwillingness of all the eye-witnesses to say anything that might offend the Turks and thus compromise their interests, shows how difficult it has been to get the full extent of the hideous and shameful truth.

Another native-born American, representative of a well-known tobacco firm, came white and trembling into the Consulate and reported that he had seen a terrible sight, “just around the corner.” A number of Turkish soldiers had stopped an old man and commenced talking to him. The old man had thrown up his hands, the fingers spread in an attitude of supplication, whereupon one of the soldiers had split his hands with a sword, cut off his wrists and hewn him down.

The loot was now being driven out of the bazaars and the Armenian quarter by the cartload, and cartloads of corpses, as of beef or sheep, were being sent into the country.

The following is found in my memoranda dated September 12, 1922: “A party of Americans saw nine cartloads of dead bodies being carried off in the neighborhood of the Konak (Turkish government house) and another party saw three such cart-loads in the neighborhood of the Point Station.”

Captain Hepburn, one of the naval officers, counted thirty-five dead bodies on the road leading to Paradise, a small village near Smyrna, where the American International College is situated.

At Boudja, another village, largely inhabited by English and other foreigners, there was a well-known and wealthy Dutch family by the name of De Jong. It was reported that Mr. and Mrs. De Jong had been murdered by Turkish soldiers. Concerning this affair, the following details were furnished me by Mr. Francis Blackler, one of the prominent members of the American community at Smyrna, head of the well-known firm of Griffith and Company, that does an extensive business with America. Mr. Blackler may be mentioned as neither he nor his wife, a lady of exceptional culture and refinement, has any idea of returning to Smyrna, at least under present conditions.

I believe I was the first,” he said, “to find and recognize the bodies of the De Jongs. I was passing along the street after the Turkish cavalry had passed through and I saw two bodies lying on the road. I stooped down and looked and immediately exclaimed, ‘Why, that’s Mr. De Jong!’ Glancing at the other, I saw that it was Mrs. De Jong, The bodies were perforated with bullet holes. I notified the relatives and we took them away and buried them.”

About this time, Sir Harry Lamb, the distinguished and able British consul-general, came to me and asked if I could send two automobiles to Bournabat to get Doctor Murphy and the women of his family. Besides my own car, there were quite a number of autos at my disposal, as the Americans of Smyrna owned many, practically all of which they had put at the disposition of the Consulate and the Relief Organization.

Doctor Murphy was a retired army surgeon who had been in the British Indian service. He was living with his two daughters on pension at Bournabat, an aged man with a high record. Sir Harry related that Turks had entered the Murphy home and told the doctor not to be frightened, as they meant harm to no one. They had simply come to violate the women. His daughters, fortunately, had hidden themselves in a room up-stairs, but the eyes of the Turks fell upon a young and pretty servant. They attempted to seize her, when she fell on her knees and threw her arms about the legs of the aged doctor and begged him to save her. The old hero tried to protect the girl in so far as his feeble strength would allow, but he was beaten over the head with muskets, kicked, and the girl torn from him by the Turks. They then proceeded to accomplish their foul purpose. Sir Harry added that the doctor was in a desperate state and the women nearly dying from fright. The automobiles were sent and the Murphys brought down. The doctor died of his injuries.

   The Archbishop Chrysostom came to the Consulate but a short time before his death, together with the Armenian Archbishop. Chrysostom was dressed in black. His face was pale. This is the last time that I saw this venerable and eloquent man alive. He was a constant friend of Americans and American institutions and used all his influence with the clergy and the government in favor of the support of our schools, our Y. W. C. A. and Y. M. C. A. It is doubtful if there is any member of our foreign missionary, educational and philanthropic institutions who will dispute this statement. He frequented them all and often addressed their members.

As he sat there in the consular office, the shadow of his approaching death lay upon his features. Some who read these lines—some few, perhaps— will understand what is meant. At least twice in my life I have seen that shadow upon a human visage and have known that the person was soon to die.

   Monseigneur Chrysostom believed in the union of Christian churches, in a united effort in the cause of Christ and the better education of the Eastern clergy. Neither he nor the Armenian bishop spoke to me of their own danger, but they asked me if nothing could be done to save the inhabitants of Smyrna.

The tales vary as to the manner of Chrysostom’s death, but the evidence is conclusive that he met his end at the hands of the Ottoman populace. A Turkish officer and two soldiers went to the offices of the cathedral and took him to Nureddin Pasha, the Turkish commander-in-chief, who is said to have adopted the medieval plan of turning him over to the fanatical mob to work its will upon him. There is not sufficient proof of the veracity of this statement, but it is certain that he was killed by the mob. He was spit upon, his beard torn out by the roots, beaten, stabbed to death and then dragged about the streets. His only sin was that he was a patriotic and eloquent Greek who believed in the expansion of his race and worked to that end. He was offered a refuge in the French Consulate and an escort by French Marines, but he refused, saying that it was his duty to remain with his flock. He said to me: “I am a shepherd and must stay with my flock.” He died a martyr and deserves the highest honors in the bestowal of the Greek church and government. He merits the respect of all men and women to whom courage in the face of horrible death makes an appeal.

   Polycarp, the patron saint of Smyrna, was burned to death in the stadium overlooking the town. The Turk roams over the land of the Seven Cities and there is none to say him nay, but the last scene in the final extinction of Christianity was glorified by the heroic death of the last Christian bishop.

   Looking from the door of the Consulate, I saw a number of miserable refugees with their children, bundles and sick, being herded toward the quay by several Turkish soldiers. One gray-haired old woman was stumbling along behind, so weak that she could not keep up, and a Turkish soldier was prodding her in the back with the butt of his musket. At last he struck her such a violent blow between the shoulder-blades that she fell sprawling upon her face on the stony street.

   Another old woman came screaming to me, crazy with grief, crying, “My boy! My boy!” The front of her dress was covered with blood. She did not say what had happened to her boy, but the copious blood told its own story.

   Mrs. Cass Arthur Reed, wife of the dean of the American College at Paradise, near Smyrna, thus describes the stripping and beating of her father, the venerable president, as also of Sergeant Crocker, an American navy officer:

   “On September 11, 1922, American Marines who were on the lookout from the roof of the college notified their chief that the American settlement house, belonging to the college, was being looted by the Turkish soldiers. So the chief and father rode over to the settlement house in the college car, carrying the American flag. They informed the men that this was American property they were looting and asked why they were doing it? Father explained it was a community house and served the Turks as well as Christians in its work. They seized both men and stripped them of their clothes, valuables and money, shoes and stockings, and beat them both with a club five feet long and three inches in diameter. Sergeant Crocker was the officer who was beaten. He took the club over to the college afterward. Before he was stripped of his clothes he, of his own accord, took off his revolver and showed the Turkish soldiers that he did not mean to hurt them. They beat both men severely and separated them so they could not stand together. They beat them with the butt end of their rifles and with this big club I have mentioned. Then they demanded of Doctor MacLachlan that he hand over the Marines guarding his college. He said he was not a military man and had no control over the Marines, who had been sent by the American Government to protect the American property and the refugees in it.”

   They hit him on the head, limbs, crushed the big toe of his right foot, all the time lunging at him to run, which he refused to do knowing they would put bullets in his back if he did. What he considered saved his life was that he kept calm through the whole procedure, saying they could kill him if they wished, but he wanted to explain why he was there and why he wanted them to stop robbing the Armenian property. One man lunged at him with a bayonet, and father put out his hand to grasp it and cut his palm. When the soldier drew back to get another lunge at him, the bayonet remained in father’s hand. He was naked all this time. Then they lamed his left foot, breaking the tendons in the back of his knee so that he fell to the ground. He endeavored throughout the whole thing to keep his feet and he saved the blows on his head by putting up his arms. Several times they stood him up a few yards away and threatened to blaze at him.”

   “During this time, one of the Turkish students, who had seen the thing from the college, ran over. While the guns were pointed at father, he threw him-self on the butt ends of the rifles and beseeched the men not to kill him, that he was a good man. They then accused this student of being an infidel and he swore that he was a true Moslem and he was wearing Khemal’s picture on his arm and also wearing a fez. Sergeant Crocker had given the order to his men on the roof of the college not to fire or use their machine guns. Two of the Marines chased over to help when they saw what was going on. Sergeant Crocker ordered them to retreat in order to save Doctor MacLachlan’s and his own life. The Turks placed Doctor MacLachlan up against a wall and were about to shoot him when, at the very moment, a young Turkish officer appeared on horse-back and ordered them to desist.” They obeyed immediately and went away, proving by their immediate obedience that they were regular troops under good discipline.

The following details concerning the attack on President MacLachlan and Sergeant Crocker were furnished me by another eye-witness of the scene:

“When the bluejackets in the main building saw the predicament of their chief and that he was in danger of being ill-treated, they ran to his rescue. Sergeant Crocker spreading his arms motioned them backward, saying: ‘Retire! Retire! Don’t shoot! Retire!’

“This they did, and after they had covered some distance in this manner, he gave the order: ‘Wheel and run!’

“They obeyed, whereupon the Turkish soldiers opened up a lively fusillade on the running Marines, and their rifle fire was so rapid and continual that it reminded me of a machine gun. Fortunately none of the Americans was hurt.”

The following looting of American property occurred at Paradise, as described to me by an American lady connected with the college:

“In September, 1922, every American house at Paradise had an American flag, back and front, and all have been broken into except two.

“Lately, while the chief of the Turkish army, who had billeted himself at the president’s house, was eating there with his band playing on the campus, the Turks looted the dean’s house, right on the same campus.”

Meanwhile, in the city of Smyrna itself, the hunting and killing of Armenian men, either by hacking or clubbing or driving out in squads into the country and shooting, caused an unimaginable panic. There was no help anywhere in sight. The battle-ships of the Great Powers, including America, could not interfere for various reasons and there were instances of persons who had reached them being sent back to the shore.

This man-hunt was now being participated in by squads of the Turkish army. Armenians soon disappeared from the streets, either through death or concealment. The proclamation had been issued that any one concealing an Armenian in his house would be brought before the court-martial—a justly dreaded tribunal. One instance will show what terror this edict inspired in the hearts of all—even foreign subjects. A prominent Dutch subject related the following incident, which he witnessed from the deck of his small private yacht:

“Over by Cordelio (a suburb of Smyrna), I saw a young couple wade out into the sea. They were a respectable, attractive pair and the man was carrying in his arms a small child. As they waded deeper and deeper into the water, till it came nearly up to their shoulders, I suddenly realized that they were going to drown themselves. I therefore pushed out to them in a boat and with the promise that I would do what I could to save them, managed to get them to shore. They explained that they were Armenians, and knowing that the man would certainly be killed and the wife, who was young and pretty, either outraged or taken into a harem and their baby left to die, they had determined to drown themselves together. I took them to several places and tried to get them in, but without success. I finally conducted them to a large school whose building and garden were full of people, rang the bell, and, when a sister came to the door explained the situation to her. When she heard that they were Armenians, she shut the door. I went away leaving them sitting on the steps of the school.”

And there we shall leave them with the hope that in some miraculous way they were saved, which. Is not probable. This incident is not related to throw discredit on the personnel of the foreign school. They thought that if they took in an, Armenian couple, they might endanger the safety of the hundreds of people whom they were protecting, most, if not all of whom were of their own religion and therefore their especial charges.

As the Armenians had all disappeared from the streets, it was supposed that the men who had escaped had taken refuge in their own quarter, a well-built, Europeanized section of the town, within well-defined limits. Before proceeding to what happened next, it should be explained that the soldiers were helped in picking out Armenians in the streets by native spies, who accompanied them and pointed out victims. I could not recognize the nationality of those foul and slimy reptiles, the spies. I was told by some that they were Jews, but I have no proof to substantiate the statement. Of course many of the informers were Turks, and it is possible that they were all of that race, as they would naturally aid their own troops.

When Armenian hunting became too poor in the streets of Smyrna, their precinct was closed to all except Turks by soldiers stationed at the street entrances, after which the sack and massacre were conducted methodically. I did not myself attempt to enter the Armenian section, but I was repeatedly informed by those with whom I was in contact that ingress was not permitted. Americans who saw into the quarter from their windows, stated that there was not a house that escaped, so far as could be seen. All were broken into, looted, the furniture smashed and thrown into the streets. What happened to the inhabitants can easily be left to the imagination it is easy to form a mental picture of those families, cowering in their homes, with their wives, their daughters and their babes, waiting for the crash of a rifle butt on their doors.

 

 

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