Death Of Armenian People -ld19151002

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The Literary Digest for October 2, 1915

It is a period marking the death of nations, and the one to reach the goal first seems to be the victim of the Jahad which was to overwhelm the Allies. Instead of having any such result, the Holy War is merely extinguishing the race who were Christians when our ancestors were offering hearten sacrifices in the dense forests of Europe. "Turkey is now in the act of murdering Armenia, and she has almost completed her work," says Vincent Yardum in the New York Times. All able-bodied males, we are told, have perished in prisons or on the gallows. Old men, women, and children have been driven out of their homes and sent into exile toward Arabia, where they never arrive. Death from starvation or from the attacks of plundering Mohammedans overtakes most of them. The American Armenian Relief Fund Committee issues in The Churchman (New York) a letter dated Constantinople, June 15, 1915, and purporting to come from "a high authority whose word is not top be doubted." We quote:

"The Public in America are unaware of the great crisis through which the Armenian nation in Turkey is passing at present. Indeed, our knowledge of the actual condition of the provinces is very little, because of the strict censorship to which communications with the interior are subjected, and because of the absolute interdiction against traveling on the part of Armenians; yet you will have an idea of what we know already. The Armenian nation is dwindling between life and death at this moment in every part of Turkey. I will pass over the misery caused by arbitrary confiscations, the ravages of typhus, the conscription of men between eighteen and fifty, and the imprisonment and exile during the last two months of thousands of Armenians. About the beginning of April, immediately after the events of Van, Armenian houses, schools, churches, and diocesan offices were searched, by the order of the Central Government, even in the poorest country corners, and consequently many people were thrown into prison for possessing arms, which were hitherto permitted, and for books and pictures publicly sold. In the jails of Cesarea alone 500 Armenians are incarcerated to-day, besides those who have been exiled, by administrative orders only and without any guilt, to places inhabited solely by Moslems. But this condition of affairs is much milder than of the provinces of Cilicia and of those bordering the Caucasus. The Turkish Government is executing to-day the plan of scattering the Armenians of the Armenian provinces, profiting from the troubles of the European powers and from the acquiescence of Germany and Austria. This scheme began to be carried out first in Cilicia. The whole of the population of Zeitum, destroyed, and its neighborhood, and the greater part of those of Marsh and Hassanbeyly were deported forcibly and without notice. . . . . . .

"The condition of the Armenians is extremely aggravated since my last letter. It is not Armenian population of Cilicia only which has been deported wholesale and exiled to the deserts. Armenian commutes from all the provinces of Armenia--from Erzerum, Trebisond, Sivas, Kharput, Bitlis, Van, and Diarbekir, also from Samsun, Cesarea, and Ourfa--a population of 1,500,000--are marching to-day, the stick of forced pilgrimage in hand, toward the Mesopotamian wilderness, to live among Arabias and Kurdish savage tribes. It is evident that these poor people can take with them only a little of their good and property, owing to the impossibility of transportation and the insecurity of traveling. Very few of them will be able to reach the spots designated for their exile, and those who do will perish from starvation, if no immediate relief reaches them. There are no means of communicating with the people in the provinces, as the scattered people are not permitted to send any telegraphic dispatches. However, we hope that it will not take very long to find out their present locations and to reach them somehow or other. I trust that the Armenians of America will hasten, on being informed of the distress of their parents, children, and relatives, to send us funds, so that their lives may be saved. I hope also that the American charitable public, on hearing the condition of this ill-fated nation, already in the throes of death, will not refuse its helping hand. Immediate action is necessary. Every day that passes carries away many victims of starvation. It would be superfluous to add anything more. You may conceive from these lines that we are facing the extermination of a nation. Is it that God Almighty, not deeming sufficient the unlimited sufferings of this people in the past ages, has left the bitterest cup to be tasted in this twentieth century? It is in the name of starving population of 1,500.000 that urgent appeals should be made to the charitable public of America."

The Chicago Daily news prints a dispatch from Sofia, Bulgaria, giving an account of the activities of Henry Morgentau, the American Ambassador to Turkey, who recently made an offer to the Turkish Government to raise $1,000,000 to transport to America the Armenians who thus escaped the general massacres:

"Enver Pasha, the Minister of War, and Talaat Bey, Minister of the Interior, accepted the offer, and September 3 the Ambassador asked the Government at Washington to appoint a committee of five Americans, whom he recommended, to take charge of the great undertaking. Mr. Morgerntau declined, however, to give me their names when I saw him recently in Constantinople.

"Since May,' said the Ambassador, '350,000 Armenians have been slaughtered or have died of starvation. There are 550,000 Armenians who could now be sent to America, and we need help to save them. One million dollars is too little for the purpose of the transporting them, as it takes $100 to equip, feed, and transport one men. Perhaps $5,000,000 will be necessary. I should like to see each of the Western States raise a fund to equip a ship to bring the number of settlers it wants. The Armenians are a moral, hard-working race, and would make good citizens to settle the less thickly populated parts of the Western States.'

"Turks admit that the Armenian persecution is the first step in a plan to get rid of Christians, and that Greeks will come next. Jews also are marked for slaughter or expulsion. American missionaries must also be driven out, for Turkey henceforth is to be for Turks alone. The Sheik-ul-Islam, on being questioned, said that the deportation of the Armenians was contrary to Moslem law, but that he was powerless in the face of military despotism.

"Foreigners in Constantinople hold the Germans, in part at least, responsible for the persecution of the Armenians, for they are doing nothing to prevent the distribution of inflammatory literature among the savage tribes inciting them to attack Christians."

Viscount Bryce, formerly Ambassador to the United States, writes to the Associated Press to enlist the aid of America in this crisis. "If anything can stop the destroying hand of the Turkish Government," he thinks, "it will be an expression of the opinion of neutral nations, chiefly the judgment of humane America." He writes:

"Soon after was broke out between Turkey and the Allies, the Turkish Government formed, and since has carrying out with relentless cruelty, a plan for extirpating Christianity by killing off Christians of the Armenian race. . . . . . .

"In Trabizond City, where the Armenians numbered over 10,000, orders came from Constantinople to seize all Armenians. Troops hunted them, drove them to the shore, took them to sea, threw them overboard, and drowned them all--men, women, and children. This was seen and described by the Italian Counsel.

"Some in the country escaped by professing to accept Islam, and a quarter of a million escaped over the Russian frontier, but perhaps half a million were slaughtered or deported, and those deported are fast dying from ill-treatment, disease, or starvation. The roads and the hillsides are strewn with corpses of innocent peasants.

"We can all try to send aid to the miserable refugees now in Russian territory, but what man can stop the massacres? Not the Allied Powers at war with Turkey. Only one Power can take action for that purpose. It is Germany. Would not the expression of American public opinion, voicing the conscience of neutral nations, lead Germany to check the Turkish Government?"

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