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Why The Armenians Were Killed -ld19161111
THE LITERARY DIGEST
WHY THE ARMENIANS WERE KILLED
PUBLIC OPINION (New York) combined with THE LITERARY DIGEST
Published by Funk & Wagnalls Company (Adam W. Wagnals, Press.; Wilfred J. Funk, Vice-Pres.; Robert J. Cuddiby, Treas.; William Neisel, Sec'y), 354-360 Forth Ave., New York
The Literary Digest for November 11, 1916 THE ARMENIANS, it appears, has only himself to blame for all his woes. If he would stay conquered and have no national aspirations and contribute his intelligence to the furtherance of Turkish wealth and comfort, the Turk would not massacre him or send him into exile. The massacres began almost as soon as the war started, and it has taken two years for an explanation to be forthcoming. The position of the Turkish Government has never been fully understood, says the Turkish Foreign Minister, Halil Bey, in an interview with the Associated Press representative, which comes from Vienna be way of Berlin and London. "The Young Turks have always looked upon the Armenians as a valuable assert of the Turkish Empire," says Halil Bey. "The fact is, we needed them," he acknowledges, and for these reasons:
"The country's commerce was largely in their hands, and as farmers the Armenians have a great value. We did not look upon them as valuable chattels, however. We were willing to give them an equal share in the Government, which we did, as is shown by the fact that before the outbreak of the war we had a large number of Armenians in the Chamber of Deputies and also several Senators and a Minister. Nearly all the Vice-Ministers were Armenians, because we recognized the ability of the Armenians and were ready to give them their political rights in the tenancy of a proportionate number of public offices.
"After the revolution all went for time, and the Young Turks hoped they had finally found a solution to the problem which had vexed the old regime in Turkey for many years and had retarded the progress of the country. The Balkan War, However, caused the Armenians again to take up their separatist ideals. Committees formed an organization with the intention of securing for the Armenians an autonomous Government."
The Turkish Minister would be "the last man to deny a people self-government," but the case of the Armenians, he thinks, was not one for autonomy:
"The Armenians spread throughout Asia Minor and southern Russia are merely a majority in the districts usually designated as Armenian. Armenian autonomy, therefore, would lead to the loss of the independence of the other Ottoman races. Under these conditions even the Young Turks were opposed to the Armenian plan, but in justice they wanted to give the Armenians a fuller share in the Government, which was done, and even our worst traducers can not deny that.
"When the war broke out we knew exactly what the Armenians were doing. More bombs, rifles, ammunition, ad money had been brought into the country, and their organization was made even more perfect. I was then President of the Chamber of Deputies and was very fond of the Armenians members, as I had always been a friend of that race. So I called the Armenian representatives together and asked what they intended doing. At the end of the conversation I told them I could sympathize with their ideals and had always done so as long as they were not entirely separatist.
" 'Gentlemen.' I said. 'I fully understand your position and hope that you understand ours. We have engaged in a war in which we may go down. That will be your opportunity to make arrangements with the Entente, but bear in mind that the Ottoman Government will apply the most severe measures if you act against the Turks before you can meet the Entente Powers with clean hands, which you can do by supporting us so far and no further than the law demands. I think the Entente statesmen will see the correctness of such conduct and will recognize your claim to autonomy. You can then take up the work where we left off and to which I wish you every success, but bear in mind that we are not gone yet, and that the slightest false move on your part will bring trouble to all Armenians. Sit quiet and let us try this issue. When you are sure we have lost, go over to the Entente and get from them all you can.' "
Halil Bey represents the Ottoman Government as one on this point, "realizing that the opportunity for the Armenians might come"; but despite this "the Armenians rose when the Russians invaded Asia Minor, and the Turkish Government took the measure which had been outlined to the Armenian leaders beforehand." The Armenian organization, it is declared made it impossible to confine the steps taken against them to a single locality in rebellion, "because the organization was so perfect that only a sweeping measure at the first hint of an uprising could meet the situation," Halil Bey continues:
"I will say that loss to the Ottoman Empire through the deportation of the Armenians has been immense. The Armenian is able and industrious, and, therefore, valuable in the economic scheme; but what could be done? We were at war and obliged, therefore, to employ every means to make secure our own position, which was betrayed so basely through our confidence."
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