Ernest Hemingway: A Witness to the Armenian Genocide
The young American writer, ERNEST HEMINGWAY lived in Toronto from 1920 until 1924. During that period he worked for The Toronto Star as a reporter and covered a wide range of events including the Greco-Turkish War. The following excerpts are two of the fifteen dispatches sent by the author from Constantinople that offer a glimpse into the tragic finale of Turkish atrocities.
October 9, 1922
Hamid Bey's office is at the top of a steep hill beyond an old seraglio and houses the Red Crescent (equivalent to our Red Cross) of which Hamid Bey is one of the leaders and where attendants in Red Crescent khaki carry out the orders of the Angora (Ankara) government.
"Canada is anxious about the possibility of a massacre of Christians when Kemal enters Constantinople," I said.
Hamid Bey, big and bulky, with gray mustache, wing-collared and with a porcupine haircut, looked over his glasses and spoke French.
"What have the Christians to fear" he asked. "They are armed and the Turks have been disarmed. There will be no massacre. It is the Greek Christians who are massacring the Turks now in Thrace. That?s why we must occupy Thrace to protect our people."
That is the only guarantee of protection Constantinople Christians have, except the Allied police force, while toughs from Crimea to Cairo are gathered in Constantinople hoping that the patriotic orgy of Kemal's triumphant entry will bring a chance to start a fire in the tinder-dry, wooden tenements and begin killing and looting. The Allied police force is compact and efficient, but Constantinople is a great sprawling city of a million and a half, crowded with a desperate element.
October 18, 1922
The Rumanian and Armenian consulates can be distinguished from the others, however, by the long lines of their citizens, stretched out like the ticket line waiting to get into a big hockey match at the Arena, who are trying to get passports or visas. The Armenians, Jews and Rumanians are clearing out of Constantinople. They are selling their property at any sacrifice and getting out. The government issues statements urging them not to be foolish, assuring them all measures of protection for the inhabitants will be taken, that patrols are being reinforced, that there is no danger. But the Armenians and Jews and the Jewish Rumanians have heard all that before. It is probably all true, they reason, but we aren't going to take chances. Sooner or later the Kemal troops are going to enter Constantinople, or else there is going to be war and the Armenians, Jews and Greeks cannot forget Smyrna. So they go. With a history of a thousand years of massacre behind them, it is hard for the racial fear to be quieted, no matter who makes the promises.
Copyright AGBU Magazine