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 square 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. 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 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
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 Zeitounlis 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—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 the 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 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
The authorities have sent a number of people from
Dört Yöl to be hanged in the various towns of Adana
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.