Germany And The Balkans -lt19150806

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GERMANY AND THE BALKANS



TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES

AUGUST 6, 1915

Sir, In a recent discussion in the House of Lords upon the massacres and outrages now being perpetrated by Turks upon the Christian races of Asia Minor, Lord Crewe is reported to have said:

Wholesale massacre and deportation have been carried out under the guise of necessity for the evacuation of the certain districts. It is also true that the crimes have not been challenged by German officials, whose presence and influence might have been mitigated the sufferings of the people, but a curse to the people. These officials have shown a cynical disregard of the country and its inhabitants.

May I point out that this is by no means the first occasion upon which German officials have aided and abetted the Turks in Similar abominations. From personal experience I could quote several instances, but will continue myself to one.

In September, 1903, the Bulgarian population of Macedonia, after a long spell of acute suffering, rose in revolt against the Turks. Being admirably organized and bravely led, The Comitadjis, or members of the Bulgarian Committee, obtained, at first, considerable success. I myself witnessed several small encounters in which bands of 20 to 30 Bulgars came off distinctly best against whole Turkish companies, or battalions, supported by guns. The revolt began to assume most serious proportions. The Sultan Abdul Hamid, became very much alarmed. Telegrams poured out from the Palace. The whole Turkish Army was mobilized. The local Commander-in-Chief, Omer Rushdi Pasha was hastily "ungummed." The local Governor-General quite obviously lost his nerve and head. The Inspector of the European Provinces. Hilmi Pasha, hurried to replace him, but failed to restore either confidence or order. The record of Bulgarian successes increased from day to day. At this critical moment the German Emperor stepped in to save the situation. Serving in the Great General Staff at Berlin was a Prussian officer, Captain von Goeben, who, under De Wet, had fought against us throughout the South African War, and who therefore had first-hand knowledge of Lord Kitchener's system of "drives." Drives, said the Emperor to the Sultan, might solve the Macedonian problem. Von Goeben, accordingly, was dispatched at once to the Turkish Army headquarters at Monastir, where, for all practical purposes, he assumed complete command. Drives were duly organized, the Turkish soldiery being strengthened by Arnauts, or Albanian bashi-bazouks, and the riffraff of the Turkish towns.

Von Goeben was successful. Failing to catch the Comitadjis, who remained in the forests and hills, he arranged to round up their less mobile relatives and friends instead. Villages were destroyed wholesale. Old men, women, and children were mercilessly slaughtered and in the most disgusting manner. Following in von Goeben's tracks I found, for instance, Bulgarian children mutilated or half burnt but living, and on more than one occasion. Bulgarian women who been partially skinned alive--"their stockings taken off" as the Arnauts used to say. I saw other and worse sights which cannot be described in print. In this manner and by these means "normal" conditions were eventually restored. Incidentally, Major von Goeben, promoted for his gallant deeds, committed suicide a few years later whilst in prison awaiting trial on a charge of murdering his own commanding officer in his bed.

I enclose my card and remain yours, &c.,

A ROVING ENGLISHMAN



A hard copy of this article or hundreds of others from the time of the Armenian Genocide can be found in The Armenian Genocide: News Accounts From The American Press: 1915-1922




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