For Armenia -nm19151007

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OCTOBER 7, 1915

Our action in behalf of the unhappy Armenians has so far been confined to an "informal" request addressed to Count von Bernstorff suggesting the exercise of German influence in Turkey. There is no question that the atrocities visited upon the Armenians are inspired from Constantinople as part of a regular policy which continues the worst traditions of the Hamidian tactics. Apparently, the only reply to our plea has been a statement from von Bernstorff quoting the authority of a German Consul to the effect that the reports from Asia Minor have been greatly exaggerated. It is an echo of Germany's curt finality regarding the "armed Lusitania," regarding the "hostile Arabic," regarding ever so many questions upon which a mere assertion from Berlin has been held to establish that a thing is so, on the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. But the evidence piling in from Armenia, through missionary, commercial, and private sources, refuse to be so dismissed. The intimation that these charges have been inspired from Petrograd for obvious reasons, is an insult to the disinterested men and women who for years have labored in Turkey and who are in the best position to know. Their evidence is not prejudiced. American missionaries have no dislike for the Turkish people. It is quit the other way. The good qualities of the Mohammedan population, when freed from evil suggestion from Constantinople, have always been emphasized by our missionaries. If they now speak out against what bears many signs of a deliberate attempt to extirpate a race, something more than an "unanswerable" official communication from German sources is called for.

The exigencies of war will not explain the deportations in mass of the Armenian population, not to speak of massacres, enforced conversions, and wholesale imprisonments. When the press of this country protested against the hardships visited upon the people of Poland, and notably the Jews, Petrograd was at pains with an emphasize that the inevitable conditions arising in an area of war. The answer was insuffication. It is different with the Armenians. The fighting in the Caucasus has touched only the frontier of Turkey . The operations in the Caucasus have from the first assumed the character of deadlock, and are bound so to continue, with no sweeping back and forth of armies such as has brought woe upon Poland. It is not in the area of war alone that the Armenians are suffering, but hundreds of miles behind the Turkish front, in Harput, in Sivas, in Marash, in Hadjin. In these remote places there cannot be the slightest question of Armenians lending aid and comfort to the enemy. Thither have flocked the refugees from the frontier of war and the population forcibly deported. The Government's hatred has followed them into their places of refuge. We are evidently dealing, not with the passions and lusts of a war-maddened soldiery, but with a deliberate policy of persecution.

On the Grounds of humanity, on the grounds of our special interest in the Armenian people, who, as a the Outlook states, have come forth as a race largely through the efforts of American missionaries, we are entitled to address our protests in the only quarter where they have a chance of being listened to. If Berlin intimates that the Armenian question has been brought forward as part of a pro-Ally campaign, it will only be assuming that blindly partisan attitude which Berlin is so fond of ascribing to the American press. Our newspapers did not allow their sympathies to stand in the way of sharp protest against Russia's treatment of the Jews. To the extent that there have been Russian atrocities they have been described with great detail in most of the metropolitan newspapers; and between conditions in Poland and in Armenia, so far as the responsibility of the respective Governments and the magnitude of the evil are concerned, there can be no comparison. Nor has our public protest been without avail. The polish population, expelled by the interior of Russia. Measures for their relief, carried on under the limitations of Russian efficiency, are being worked on a large scale. The Jews of the Pale have been permitted to settle everywhere in Russia outside of the two capitals. This may not be evidence of a change of heart on the part of the Russian Government. But if it has been forced by public opinion in neutral countries, there is all the more reason behalf of Armenia.

The great difference is that Constantinople is impervious to the opinion of the outside world. The men in control are fighting a desperate battle, and may feel at liberty to disregard neutral susceptibilities. But Berlin has shown recently that it does not hold American opinion so lightly. Were we to exercise pressure directly upon Turkey, the German Government would have much more ground to suspect our motives than if we protest to Berlin. We are thereby recognizing German paramount in Turkish affairs, even if we couple German responsibility with German ascendancy. We need not emphasize too far the anomalies of the Teuton-Turkish alliance, but a German alliance with a Government that is systematically engaged in destroying a Christian folk must fall sharply even on a world's conscience hardened by many disillusions. So far as sentiment in this country is concerned, Germany's moral battle-front has been irreparably damaged on its northern flank in Belgium. It cannot be that Berlin is content to allow another Belgium to develop on its southern flank in Armenia.

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