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9. Extracts from the Records of a German who died in Turkey.

Between the 28th July and the 20th August, 1915, I travelled to Marash. At Beshgöz, between Killis and Aintab, it was a subject of conversation among the villagers that the deportation of the Armenians would begin at Aintab too on the following day. A little while after, a well-dressed gentleman, a Circassian, according to his appearance, being partly in mufti and partly in officer’s uniform, joined the group of talkers and asked: “From what part of the town are people being sent away? By what road do they go? What kind of people are they? Are they people from whom anything is to be got?” When one of the persons present asked him whether he was a civilian or in military service, he said smilingly: “Is there a finer opportunity of being a soldier than now?” The same person said afterwards: “This time Germany has given these unbelieving swine a lesson which they will not forget.”2

On hearing this, I could not refrain from replying that it was soiling the name of Germany to mention it in connection with the things which I had just been compelled to hear. On my return journey I heard that the first convoys from Aintab, consisting almost exclusively of well-to-do families, were stripped to their shirts, [67]and I was assured from several sides that this was done with the connivance of the Government authorities, with whom the above-mentioned questionable gentleman must, according to all appearances, have been in relation. At Karaböyük, between Aintab and Marash, I met a convoy of Armenians, consisting of about forty women and children and five or six men. Close in front of them, at a distance of about 180 yards, 100 newly-enlisted soldiers were marching. There was a young lady among the women, a teacher, who for several years had been in German employment; she had just recovered from a serious attack of typhoid fever. The soldiers wanted her and a young wife, whose husband is at present a soldier in Damascus, to spend the night with them, and used force to make them. It was only through the Mohammedan mule drivers coming to the assistance of the women, that the soldiers could be kept off during their three attacks.

On the 6th August the Armenian village of Fundadjak, near Marash, a place of about 3,000 inhabitants, was battered down to the ground. The population, consisting almost exclusively of mule drivers, had, during the preceding three months, been frequently compelled to transport Armenians in the direction of the Euphrates. They had seen the corpses in the Euphrates, and had also observed with their own eyes the selling and raping of women and girls.

In an Armenian school at Marash I saw over 100 women and children with bullet wounds in their legs and their arms, and with all sorts of mutilations; among them were children of one to two years.

On the 13th August, 34 Armenians, including two boys twelve years old, were shot at Marash. Again, on the 15th August, 24 were shot and 14 were hanged. [68]The 24 who were shot were tied together with a heavy chain that went round their necks, and were made to stand up together in one mass. They were shot in the presence of the Mohammedan population behind the American College. With my own eyes I saw the bodies, while still convulsed by the agonies of death, being abandoned to the license of the rough civilian mob, who pulled the hands and feet of the corpses; and during the next half-hour the policemen and gendarmes shot continuously with revolvers on these corpses, some of which were terribly disfigured, while the population looked on with amusement. Afterwards the same people marched up and down in front of the German Hospital and shouted, “Vashasin Almanya (Long live Germany).3 Again and again I have been told by Mohammedans that it was Germany which caused the Armenians to be extirpated in this way.

On the way from the town to the farm I saw, on the outskirts of the town, a human head lying on a dung-heap, which was used as a target by Turkish boys. In Marash itself, during my stay there, Armenians were every day killed by the civil population, and the corpses were left for days in the open sewers or elsewhere.

Kadir Pasha said to me at Marash: “I know that, in pursuance of an order from the Government, the whole male population within the area of the 4th Army Corps was killed.”

On the 20th August, 19154, at six o’clock in the evening, it was proclaimed at Marash that, according to the order of the Vali of Adana, all males over 15 years of age (5,600 altogether) must be assembled outside the [69]town, ready for marching, by mid-day on Saturday; any one of them found in the town after 12 o’clock would be shot on the spot. Everyone knew the meaning of this order, and we lived through hours of most awful terror. At the last moment the Vali’s order, owing to the intervention of the very humane Governor of Marash, was modified to the extent that the men would be allowed to leave with their families. Only on the 18th August the Vali had sent for the clerical authorities, and had given them an assurance that the Armenians in Marash would not be deported. Thus the first who had to leave the town had to do so without any previous preparation.

In the village of Böveren, near Albistan, all the Armenian inhabitants, 82 in number, with the exception of a boy twelve years old, who jumped into the water and escaped, were killed.

In the neighbourhood of Zeitoun the inhabitants of a village infested by the smallpox were deported. The patients suffering from smallpox, including those whose eyesight had been destroyed by the illness, were lodged in hans (i.e. inns) at Marash, in which deported persons from other districts were lodged already.

At Marash I saw a convoy, consisting of about 200 persons, among whom were several blind. A mother, of the age of about 60, led her daughter, who was lame from birth; in this manner they started on their journey on foot. After an hour’s march a man collapsed near the Erkeness bridge; he was robbed and killed. Four days afterwards we still saw his corpse lying in a ditch.

Last night I called on an acquaintance; he had given hospitality to a mother and her child who had been deported from Sivas—the two survivors of a family of 26 persons who had been deported from Sivas three [70]months before and had reached Marash in the last few days.

In Aintab I saw a written order of the Governor of the town, prohibiting the purchase on the part of the Mohammedan population of any objects belonging to the deported Armenians. The same Governor caused preparations to be made for a raid on the deported persons. Two convoys were robbed of everything, down to the shirts of the people belonging to them.

About 2,800 persons deported from Gürün were attacked and robbed at Airan-Pounar (12 hours to the north-east of Marash) by eight brigands, who wore uniforms, partly officer’s uniform and partly private’s. At Kisyl Gedjid, 1½ hours short of Airan-Pounar, the eight brigands joined the gendarmes escorting the convoy and had a long conversation with them. At Airan-Pounar the gendarmes ordered the people to divide into two parties; the few men formed one party, and the women the other party. The women were stripped naked and robbed of everything; four women and two girls were dragged away in the night and violated; five of them returned on the following morning. In a defile of the Engissek-Dagh the whole convoy was completely plundered by Turks and Kurds. In this assault 200 persons were killed; 70 severely wounded persons had to be left behind, and more than 50 more were taken along with the convoy. I met the convoy, then consisting of about 2,500 persons, at Karaböyük. The people were in an indescribable state of misery; one hour short of Karaböyük two men were lying on the road, one with two and the other with seven knife-wounds; further on there were two exhausted women; still further four women, including a girl of 13, with a two days’ old baby in her arms, wrapped in rags. A man of about 60, who was lying in the road with a [71]deep wound (inflicted by a dagger), as long as a finger and two fingers wide, told me that he had left Gürün with 13 animals. All the animals and all his goods were taken away from him at Airan-Pounar, and he had dragged himself away on foot, until he reached a place about an hour short of Karaböyük, where he fell down exhausted.

These people had all been in easy circumstances; the value of the goods, the animals and the money of which they were robbed, is estimated at T£8,000. Those who were exhausted were left lying on the road; corpses can be seen lying on both sides of it. Among the 2,500 persons of whom this convoy was composed I saw no males, with the exception of about 30–40. All males over the age of 15 were taken away in the sight of the women, and were probably killed. These Armenians were intentionally transported by circuitous routes and over dangerous paths. By the direct road to Marash they would have arrived in four days, and they have been on the road for over a month. They had to travel without animals, without beds, without food; once in every day they received a thin slice of bread, and then not enough to satisfy their hunger. Four hundred of them (Protestants) have in the meantime arrived at Aleppo; out of these two or three die every day.

The raid at Ainar-Pounar was carried out with the connivance of the Kaimakam at Albistan, who made them pay him T£200, and promised the people that he would see that they reached Aintab safely. The Kaimakam at Gürün made them pay him T£1,020, and gave the same assurances. I saw a man who, together with others, handed this sum to the Kaimakam in the club room at Gürün. In the neighbourhood of Aintab several women belonging to this convoy were violated in the night by civilian inhabitants of Aintab. On the occasion [72]of the raid at Airan-Pounar men were tied to trees and burnt alive. While the Armenians at Gürün were actually leaving the town, the Mollahs called the faithful to prayer from the roofs of the Christian Churches. An eye-witness told me about a dispute between two brothers relating to the booty at Airan-Pounar; one of them said: “For these four loads I have killed forty women.”

At Marash a Mohammedan of the name of Hadji, whom I have known for years, told me the following incident: “At Nissibin, I and all the mule-drivers were locked up in a han; several young women belonging to Furnus were violated during the night by the gendarmes escorting the convoy and by civilians.”

At Aintab, at the office of the Commissioner of Police, a Mohammedan Agha said in my presence to an Armenian: “In such and such places letters have been found. What are your relations with this man? I have often told you to become a Mohammedan: if you had listened to me, you would have escaped all the disagreeable things to which your nation is exposed.”

Out of 18,000 persons who were deported from Kharput and Sivas, 350 arrived at Aleppo (consisting of women and children); out of 1,900 deported from Erzeroum, only eleven—one sick boy, four girls and six women—reached that town. A convoy of women and girls had to walk the 65 hours from Ras-el-Ain to Aleppo along the railway line, notwithstanding the fact that at the same time the railway carriages, which had been used for the transport of soldiers, were returning empty. Mohammedan travellers, who came along this way, report that the roads are impassable owing to the many corpses lying unburied on both sides of the road, the smell of which is poisoning the air. Of those “remaining over,” who so far have not been sent further on, 100–120 persons have died at Aleppo up to the present, [73]in consequence of the hardships of the journey. The starving and emaciated women and children, on their arrival at Aleppo, fell on the food like wild beasts. In the case of many of them the digestive organs had ceased to work; after having devoured one or two spoonfuls they put the spoon aside. The Government alleges that the deported persons receive food, but in the case of the above-mentioned convoy, which came from Kharput, a distribution of bread took place only once in three months.

The Government does not merely neglect to make any provision for the people; on the contrary, it causes everything to be taken away from them. At Ras-el-Ain a convoy of 200 girls and women arrived in a state of complete nudity; their shoes, their chemises, everything, in short, had been taken away from them, and they were made to walk for four days under the hot sun—the temperature was 122 degrees in the shade—in their condition of nakedness, jeered at and derided by the soldiers of their escort. Mr. X. told me that he himself had seen a convoy, consisting of 400 women and children, in the same state. Whenever the wretched exiles appealed to the humanity of the officials, the reply was: “We have strict orders from the Government to treat you in this way.”

At first the dead in Aleppo were brought to the cemetery in the coffins provided by the Armenian Church. This was done by “Hamals” (professional porters), who received two piastres for each dead. When the “Hamals” were unable to cope with the whole work, the women themselves brought their dead to the cemetery—the babies in their arms, the bigger children laid on sacks and carried by four women, one at each corner. I saw corpses carried to the cemetery across a donkey’s [74]back. A friend of mine saw a dead body tied to a stick, which was carried by two men. Another friend saw a cart drawn by oxen going to the cemetery with a full load of corpses. The two-wheeled cart was too large to pass the narrow cemetery-gate, whereupon the driver, without any hesitation, turned it round and emptied it; then he dragged the dead bodies to their respective graves by the arms and legs. At the present moment five or six carts are in use, which take the dead to the cemetery. In one of the hans, which is called a hospital, I saw on a Sunday something like 30 corpses lying about in a yard, which was about 25 yards wide and 50 yards long. About 20 had already been buried on that day. The 30 corpses remained lying there until the evening. My wife got them carried away in the darkness by engaging three “Hamals,” to whom she gave a medjidié (about 3s. 2d.) each. In the case of one of the corpses the skin adhered to the hands of the “Hamals,” showing how far the process of decomposition had already gone. Dying persons and persons suffering from serious illnesses, about 1,000 altogether, were lying among the dead, under the burning sun. The whole scene was more terrible than anything I had ever seen, even than the shooting of the 24 people at Marash in the summer, which has been described above. Nearly all the people suffered from diarrhœa. Channels had been dug in the ground within the courtyard, by the side of which the dying were placed, with their backs towards the channel, so that the emptyings of their bowels could pass into it at once. Whenever anyone died, he was removed, and his melancholy place was filled by another. It happened frequently that persons who were carried away as dead gave signs of life when they were near the grave; they were dragged aside, until it was certain that death had supervened. [75]One young girl recovered so far that she could be carried back to the town, and one person who had been buried in the evening was found sitting on his grave the next morning. Several corpses had been thrown into one grave, and he was on the top; in the twilight only a thin layer of earth had been put over him. In Tel-Abiad Mr.— saw open graves with 20–30 corpses. The graves were filled up with earth when it was no longer possible to put any more corpses into them. Mr.— told me that it was impossible to go near these places owing to the stench, and yet the deported persons had to encamp in the immediate vicinity. Out of 35 orphans who were kept in one room at Aleppo, 30 died in a week for want of nourishment. Mr.— says that on his journey to this place he saw corpses everywhere on the road, and that a Kurd boasted to him of having killed 14 children.

On Sunday, the 12th August, 1915, I had to go to the station of the Damascus railway at Aleppo, and was able to see the loading into cattle trucks of about 1,000 women and children. With us in Germany the cattle are allowed more space than those wretched people; 90 per cent. of them had death written on their faces. There were people among them who literally had no time allowed them for dying. On the previous evening a convoy had been taken away, and on the next morning the dead bodies of two children, about half grown up, were found, who had died during the loading of the trucks and had been left lying on the platform.

On the 13th September, 1915, the following telegraphic order from the Commander-in-Chief of the 4th Army, Djemal Pasha, was brought to the notice of the inhabitants: “All photographs, which may have been taken by the engineers or other officers of the Bagdad Railway Construction Company relating to the convoys [76]of Armenians, are to be delivered within 48 hours, together with the negatives, to the Military Commissariat of the Bagdad Railway at Aleppo. Any contravention of this order will be punished by court-martial.”

Several times I saw women and children search for scraps of food in the dustheaps: anything that was found was devoured immediately. I saw the children gnawing at raw bones which they had picked up in corners used as urinals.

On the road between Marash and Aintab the Mohammedan population of a village wanted to distribute water and bread among a convoy of 100 families, but the soldiers escorting the convoy prevented this. Four-fifths of the deported persons are women and children; the majority of the men have been called up for the Army.

Twenty thousand persons who had been deported by way of Marash were not allowed to pass on to Aintab and obtain supplies of food, though the direct caravan route goes through Aintab.

At Ras-el-Ain there are at present about 1,500 women and children, the only survivors out of several thousands, who, together with their husbands and fathers, were deported from Kharput and the surrounding country. Among these 1,500 persons there is not a single male over the age of 10–12 years. These people, healthy or sick, are left lying from morning till evening in the sun without food and without protection against a temperature of 109½ degrees in the shade, and they are in the arbitrary power of their guards. Mr. L.— who during the last month had, in conversation with me, used the expression “Armenian rabble”—spoke literally as follows: “I am not a man who is easily touched, but after what I have seen at Ras-el-Ain I cannot keep the tears away. I did not think it possible that such [77]acts of ill-treatment and violence, outraging all rules of humanity, could be perpetrated in our century.”

A “Tchaoush” (Sergeant-Major) of the name of Suleiman took 18 women and girls and sold them to Arabs, charging 2–3 mejidiés (6s. 4d.—9s. 6d.) for each of them. A Turkish police-commissary said to me: “We have lost all count of the numbers of women and girls who were taken away by the Arabs and Kurds, either by force or with the connivance of the Government. This time we have carried out our operations against the Armenians according to our heart’s desire; not one out of ten has been left among the living.”

While I am writing this down, my wife has returned from a walk into the town, and reports tearfully that she met a convoy of over 800 Armenians, all bare-footed, with torn clothes, carrying their scanty possessions on their backs, together with their babies.

In Besné the whole population, consisting of 1,800 souls, principally women and children, were expatriated; it was alleged that they were to be deported to Ourfa. When they reached the Göksu, a tributary of the Euphrates, they were compelled to take their clothes off, and thereupon they were all massacred and thrown into the river.

On a single day latterly 170 corpses were observed drifting down the Euphrates, on other days 50–60. Mr. A., an engineer, saw 40 corpses in the course of one ride. Those which are stranded on the river bank are devoured by the dogs, those on sandbanks in mid-stream by the vultures.

The above-mentioned 800 Armenians had been deported from the district of Marash. They had been told that they would be taken to Aintab, and they were to provide themselves with food for two days. When [78]they reached the neighbourhood of Aintab the soldiers said: “We have made a mistake, we were meant to go to Nissibin.” No food was supplied by the authorities, and no opportunities for the purchase of provisions were given. At Nissibin the word went round: “We came the wrong way; we were meant to go to Mumbidj.” There again the soldiers said: “We came the wrong way; we were meant to go to Bab.” In this manner they had to wander about for seventeen days, abandoned to the arbitrary pleasure of their escort. During the whole time no provisions were supplied by the Government, and their scanty possessions had to be given away in exchange for bread.

One mother, whose eldest daughter was taken away by force, threw herself in despair into the Euphrates with her two remaining children.

Said, an emigrant from Tripoli, who had been a groom in Mr. L.’s stables for four years with a monthly salary of 400 piastres (about £3), enlisted as a volunteer for the war, in order to be able, according to his own statement, to take part in the slaughter of a few Armenians. A nice house in an Armenian village near Ourfa was promised him (he hinted) by way of reward.

Two Circassians who were in the service of Mr. E., a storekeeper, enlisted as volunteers for the war on the same ground.

The head of a Circassian village community, Tchordekli, speaking of the war volunteers from his village, said to an acquaintance of mine: “Ev yikmak itchun giderler” (They go in order to ruin whole families).

At Arab Pounar a Turkish Major, who spoke German, expressed himself as follows: “I and my brother took possession of a young girl at Ras-el-Ain, who had been left on the road. We are very angry with the Germans [79]for doing such things.” When I contradicted them, they said: “The Chief of the General Staff is a German; von der Goltz is Commander-in-Chief, and ever so many German officers are in our Army. Our Koran does not permit such treatment as the Armenians have to suffer now.5 At Nuss Tell a Mohammedan inspector made similar remarks to a clerk. When I taxed him with this utterance in the presence of others, he said: “It is not only I who say this; everyone will tell you the same tale.”

At Biredjik the prisons are filled every day and emptied over night. Tell Armen, a village of 3,000 inhabitants, was raided, the inhabitants were massacred, thrown dead or alive into the wells, or burnt. Major von Mikusch was a witness of the devastation. A German cavalry captain saw unburied corpses between Diyarbekir and Ourfa on both sides of the road, with their throats cut. Innumerable unburied corpses of children were seen on the way by Mr. S.

At Tel-Abiad seventeen dead or dying persons were left behind near the station, on the departure of a convoy. Two railway officials afterwards had all seventeen buried.

All the convoys of Armenians have for the last few days been taken into these parts. The statement made by Mr. N. is entirely in accord with the reply given to me by the Chairman of the Deportation Commission, when I made an application in favour of four Armenian children: “You do not grasp our intentions; we want to destroy the Armenian name. Just as Germany will only let Germans exist, so we Turks will only let Turks.6 [80]

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