Germany's Sins Indicated By A German -ld19171006
THE LITERARY DIGEST
GERMANY'S SINS INDICTED BY A GERMAN
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 October 6, 1917
THE RESPONSIBILITY for the slaughter of Armenia is placed by a German writer squarely on the shoulders of a "criminal gang of Young Turks," abetted by the German authorities. This writer, like the author of "J'Accuse," is sickened by the deeds of his country's Government. The charge of made by Dr. Harry Sturmer, a former war-correspondent and officer in the German Army. Extracts from his book, "Two War-Years in Constantinople," published recently in Bern, are printed in the New York Evening Post, which observes by way of explanation: "It was the certain evidence of the German Government's responsibility for these Armenian atrocities which led Dr. Sturmer eventually to turn against Germany and to write the truth about what he knew and had seen while in Constantinople." It is the Turkish Government again, and not the Turkish people, which is charged with carrying out the atrocities. Eighty per cent of the common people are, by some, acquitted of holding any sympathy with these acts, and many of the Armenians still living, orphans principally, exist on Turkish charity. Dr. Sturmer writes:
"The Turkish Government . . . had condemned the whole Armenian people, not only that part which lived in Armenia, but also that part inhabiting the 'Deaspora,' in Anatolia and in the capital. That meant several hundred thousand more. But the pretext used in the six Armenian vilayets, 'evacuation of the war-zone,' would not serve for a population living hundreds of kilometers from the front. Therefore, other means were used. A general conspiracy was discovered among the Armenians throughout the Empire. The Government could accomplish its ends only by such a cynical falsehood, and so attain to the extermination of the entire Armenian race.
"Carefully deceiving the general public of the whole world, the Turkish Government invented, in fact, ordered, local plots to be invented, and forged proof to be supplied, so that it might quietly go on with its program of extermination covering a number of months. A series of official articles was published in the newspapers of Young Turk Committee's control stating that all Armenians were dangerous conspirators, who had intended with arms and bombs, and with English and Russian gold in their pockets, to massacre all the Turks on the day the English Fleet forced the Dardanelles; their avowed object was to shake off the Ottoman yoke.
"I wish particularly to sate in this connection that I know all the arguments that the Turkish Government could bring to bear against the Armenians; enough was written on this subject by official and unofficial publications, such, for instance, as the transactions of the Society of Turkenkenner. I have investigated all the material available, even at the very beginning of my stay in Turkey, when I was still a Turcophil. . . . Not till much later were my sympathies aroused through personal acquaintanceship with and appreciation for the race's high intellectual qualities.
"Here I can only give my judgement of all this argument pro and con, according to my best knowlidge and conscience; my conclusion is that, aside from the first act of murder en masse in Armenia proper, the deportation to exterminate additional hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the capital and the interior, constitutes the basest, most cynacal, most deceitful, most criminal deed due to the consciousness, on the part of its perpetrators, that they were inferior in industry and culture to this non-Turkish element, due to a desire to equalize the inequality by brute force. . . . It was a deed perpetrated with the cowardly consent of the German Government, in full possession of all the facts,"
Dr. Sturmer gives an inside picture of the manner, with the key to the method, employed in ridding Turkey of its most thrifty people:
I myself, with my own eyes, have often seen the first link forged in that terrible chain of crime. I had hardly returned from my first Dardanelles trip when the persecutions in Constantinople and Anatolia broke loose simultaneously. They furnished the most striking street scenes of the war, continuing, with short interruptions, until shortly before I left. In Anatolia, in Brusa, and Adabazar are well-cultivated Armenian farms, which must have been a thorn in the flesh of a Government bearing the inscription of 'forcible nationalization' on its banners. Here the household goods of respectable families were thrown out on the streets and sold for a song, because the poor creatures had often not even an hour in which to settle up their affairs before the waiting policeman took them away. Here the house-furnishings, which could not be sold on account of a hasty departure, fell, without any payment, to savage Mohadjirs (Mohammedan immigrants). These Mohadjirs frequently broke out into open violence. They had been armed to the teeth by the 'Committee (of Union and Progress). These disturbances were then attributed to 'Armenian plots.' Those were the days when mothers in the depths of despair drowned their children because they couldn't bear to see the poor little things perish on that dreary march into the interior.
"How often have I not to look at that typical picture of a little troop of Armenians marching through the capital, escorted by two policemen, savage and dull of countenance, clothed in ragged, dark-gray uniforms. Behind this group walked a policeman who could read and write, with a notebook in his hand. Now and then he would beckon to some one among the bystanders and coolly include him in the procession in case the newcomer's papers showed him to be an Armenian. Then he would go forward to deliver his daily cargo of Armenians at the Caracol in Galata Serai, the principal police-station of Pera (the European quarter).
"The way in which the arrests and deportations were made definitely gives the lie to the Government's attempted justification through indignant allegation of a great conspirasy. On the contrary, the deportations of Armenians, conducted in the most cold-blooded manner, covered a period of many months, almost a year and a half. The deportations only began to slow down at the time the Armenian Patriarch was banished, in the summer of 1916, an act which gave a death-blow to the race's cultural existence; when, later, in December, 1916, all the men who had secured military exemption through payment of an exemption tax -- and most of the Armenians prominent in commerce were of this number -- nevertheless found themselves called to the colors, then, finally, the end of the persecution was in sight. What is to be said about this 'justifiable, spontaneous indignation' which' for instance' deported one of two brothers, Armenian laborers, this week and the other two weeks later? And what of the system that settled the quota of deportable Armenians to be furnished by each quarter of the city daily at a certain figure, at two hundred, a thousand, as the case may be? I was sure that this was the way things were arranged by Turks in close touch with the police officials who knew how the machinery of deportation worked.
"In general, the observation was made that the number of daily deportations increased whenever the Turks were wrought up by a new defeat at the hands of the Russians; on the other hand, when the fall of Erzerum, of Trebizond, and Erzingan gave the Government serious food for thought and the country's rulers began to reflect that the hand of a retributory Nemesis might be coming down on them, then the deportations fell off noticeably.
"And now for the method of method of transportation. Every day, toward evening, the unhappy creatures were gathered at the police-stations, and then the trolley company would furnish several cars, into which the women and children were crowded. The men and boys had to walk down to Galata, carrying a few blankets and the most indispensable of their belongings packed in bundles. This procession was made up not only of poor people. It was recruited from all classes, from trades-people and hucksters to the best families. This thing might happen to any Armenian at any hour; I personally know of cases where men of good education, belonging to long-established and prominent families, engineers, doctors, and lawyers, were taken in this unspeakable manner at twilight out of Pera, and had to lie throughout a freezing night on the platform of the station at Haidar-Pasha, and then were sent by the Anatolian Railroad to the interior. Naturally they had to pay for their own railroad tickets. Once in the interior. Once in the interior they perished of typhus, or, in exceptional cases, after having survived this terrible disease, broken in body and spirit, were allowed to return after endless representations to the Government that they were 'harmless.' "
Always, it is said, in deportation, the women were separated from the men. A special case of a disrupted family will be found in the personal narrative of an Armenian lad now in this country printed in the department of "Personal Glimpses." Dr. Sturmer proceeds:
"By destination of all family ties, it was calculated that the kernel of the race's strength would be destroyed. In this way disappeared a large part of the race. . . . .
"While Anatolia was thus empties of all those elements which hither to had signified progress, while brutal Mohadjirs -- hordes of vagabond Mohammedan immigrants -- seized this prey of deserted villages and cities and blooming acres, the stream of unfortunates, on their way to a distant goal, gradually melted away, leaving behind the corpses of women and children, of old men and boys, as memorials. The few who managed to reach the place of 'settlement,' that is to say, the concentration-camp infested with fever, surrounded by hostile Bedouins and Kurds, camps offering only starvation as an inducement to settlement, these few faces a slow but much more frightful death.
"Sometimes matters did not move quickly enough for the Government; in the fall of 1916 occurred a well-authenticated case -- authenticated by German officials of the Bagdad Railway -- when several thousand Armenians, sent to this stretch of railroad as laborers, simply disappeared without leaving a trace behind ['spurlos verschwunden' are the words the author uses, similar to those of Count Luxburg]. It is to be assumed that they were simply taken into the desert and massacred. Official book is being kept of the signs of Talaat's Government -- in spite of the censorship, and the watch kept on the border. This book is being kept by the American Embassy as well as in the neutral and Entente countries. And when peace negotiations begin this criminal gang of Young Turks will be relentlessly charged with the balance against them in court where all the civilized nations will sit as judges."
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