Germany And The Armenian Massacres -nyt191911

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Germany and the Armenian Massacres


Germany and the Armenian Massacres

Official documents from Berlin

A COLLECTION of German official documents compiled by Dr. Johannes Lepsius, founder of the German Orient Mission and President of the German Armenian Society, was published in Berlin with the authority of the Wilhelmstrasse toward the end of August, 1919. It is entitled "Germany and Armenia: 1914-1918," and is a volume of over 500 pages, issued by the Potsdam Tempelverlag. Dr. Lepsius asked leave last November, after the Berlin revolution, to consult the archives of the German Foreign Office for correspondence bearing upon Armenia, and Dr. Soft, then Foreign Secretary, informed him that if he would collate and publish the documents in question the Foreign Office would abandon its projected White Book upon Armenia in order to avoid duplication. The book that resulted from this arrangement is the first full and authentic account of the relations existing between Germany and Turkey. Basing his investigations on free and unlimited examination of all German official correspondence from Turkey, Dr. Lepsius, as editor, assumes complete responsibility for his exhaustively documented work.

Dr. Lepsius disclaims any desire to accuse or to exculpate any one. But his array of evidence shows that from the Imperial Chancellor in Berlin down to the lowest grade official in Anatolia, the whole of the German Foreign Service knew day by day what was happening in Armenia. Hindenburg and Ludendorff were as well aware of every detail as were the veteran von der Goltz and Liman von Sanders. The Main Committee of the Reichstag shared the guilty secret. Yet nothing effective was done to bring the Turks to their senses. At Constantinople the German Ambassador of the day confined himself to making academic representations at stated intervals. The Turks in return gave Germany to understand that it was her business to win the war, and not to meddle in Turkish internal affairs. The Germans, for their part, appreciated only too clearly the retort to which their own policy of deportation in France and Belgium ultimately exposed them. Dr. Lepsiu's labors also afford the German public its first comprehensive view of what he describes as "perhaps the greatest persecution of Christians of all time."

The drama opened in Constantinople with an Oriental St. Bartholomew's Night on April 25, 1915, when 600 Armenian notables were arrested, deported, and done to death. In Armenia itself a so-called "rising" at Van furnished the pretext for the wholesale massacres and deportations that continued until the end of the year. And from December, 1915, began the period of systematic conversion to Islam. In this proceeding German diplomacy was prepared to acquiesce, on the ground that "in the East creed and nationality are synonymous." But even the German diplomatists had to acknowledge that the Degree of Aug. 1, 1916, determining the political and religious rights of the Armenians, was designed to terminate the very existence of the Armenian Nation.

Dr. Lepsius estimates that before the war 1.845.450 Armenians had their homes in the Ottoman dominions. During the war the Turks deported nearly 1.400.000 persons, and of these no fewer than 1.000.000 perished, not including some 50.000 to 100.000 Armenians of the Caucasus who are also "missing." No other nation, Dr. Lepsius observes, even among those that took direct part in the war, can show such a record of loss. The value of Armenian property confiscated by the Turks is estimated at marks (nominally $250.000.000).

Dr. Lepsius couples the ferocious greed of the Young Turks with the trumped-up raison d'état of the Nationalist Constantinople Committee as the mainspring of the policy of extermination. Talaat, Halil, and Enver are exhibited as its most conspicuous exponents.

The Young Turks remained willfully blind to the inevitable loss of economic, and indeed of military, efficiency that followed from the persecution of the Armenians.

But there is nobody here now [wrote Count Paul Wolff-Metternich, then Ambassador, to Herr von Bethmann Hollweg in 1910] strong enough to tame the many-headed hydra of the committee, with its chauvinism and fanaticism. The committee insists that the last remnants of the Armenians shall be devoured, and the Government has to submit. But there is now little left for the hungry wolves of the committee to extort from these wretched creatures. To "Turkify" means to expel or to kill everything that is not Turkish - it means to destroy and forcibly to annex other people's property. Herein for the moment, and in the childish repetition of French Liberal phrases, consists the vaunted new birth of Turkey.

Prince Hohelche on one occasion, and Count Wolff-Metternich in another, urged von Bethmann Hollweg to consider the expediency of publicly dissociating Germany from the Armenian horrors by means of articles in the German press. The ingenuous proposal evoked no response from the Wilhelmstrasse. On the contrary, the North-German Gazette, the Berlin semi-official organ, was allowed to publish Turkish official denials of the massacres and vigorous protests against the enemy press that the Ottoman Government had anything to do with any "excesses" that might have been committed.

The last phase of Turkish militancy was inaugurated by the Brest-Litovsk Treaty in March, 1918, and extended, as far as Dr. Lepsius's documents are concerned, down to the capture of Baku in September, 1918. On the strength of the Brest Treaty the Turks occupied not only the assigned districts of Ardahan, Kars, and Batum, but advanced into the more densely populated Armenian lands beyond. As this advance threatened to engage too deeply the Turkish reserves, which he desired to see employed nearer home, Ludendorff in June, 1918, addressed from German Main Headquarters a strong remonstrance, based entirely a strong remonstrance, based entirely on military considerations, to Enver. Hindenburg indorsed Ludendorff's injunction, and pleaded "as a Christian" that the Caucasus populations might be preserved. Enver returned an evasive reply.

An indictment of the attitude of the Central Powers in the face of Turkey's avowed purpose to exterminate the Armenian Nation is contained in a dispatch from Tiflis addressed to the Berlin Foreign Office in Aug.20, 1918, by the Bavarian General, Baron Kress von Kressenstein, sometime Chief of Staff to Djemal Pasha's Fourth Turkish Army in Syria, who, after the Brest-Litovsk conference, had been appointed German High Commissioner in the Caucasus, with instructions to study the Armenian question on the spot. In this dispatch Baron von Kressenstein said:

If all the despairing cries for help on the part of the Government and clergy of Armenia pass unheeded, the responsibility for the annihilation of this ancient Christian people will lie forever upon Germany and Austria. History will not, and can not admit that the two great Christian empires of Central Europe were not in a position to impose their will upon their Asiatic ally, at least in such a case as this, where the life and death of a whole people are at stake.

As for the entry of the Turks, under Nuri pasha into Baku on Sept. 16-17, 1918, it appears from an extraordinary dispatch sent by Lieut. Col. Paraquin, the German Chief of Staff to the Turkish Eastern Army Group, that the Turks did not even spare the nationals of their German ally. In this dispatch Colonel Paraquin said that he was besieged by German residents begging for protection, and on their heels followed the neutral Consuls on a similar errand. These appeals were communicated to the Pashas with an urgent request for attention. But the Pashas and their suites were engrossed in the preparations for a full-dress banquet. While the Pashas and their German confederates made merry the inhabitants of Baku were being plundered and murdered. "The Turks," says Colonel Paraquin, "did not allow themselves to be disturbed."

In the evening the Danish Consul appeared in the great hall of the Hotel Metropole, where the conviviality's were in full swing, and reported to Colonel Paraquin that German houses were being plundered and that the lives of the occupants were in danger. The German Colonel thereupon strode up to Nuri Pasha and in a loud voice said to him:

Your Excellency, I beg of you now at last to take effective steps for the protection of the Germans. If not, I shall be compelled to report to the German Embassy at Constantinople how little you protect German life and property!

Nuri was taken aback, but protested that he had done everything possible. The Colonel pointed out that not a single senior officer had yet visited the town, and that the troops, instead of being told off on guard duty, had merely been paraded for inspection. The Colonel declares that, although the moment was not one for polite amenities, he employed no word or gesture that might be calculated to give offense. Nevertheless, on the following day, Sept.18, Halil Pasha sent his aide de camp to Colonel Paraquin with a message to say that, in view of the Colonel's conduct toward Nuri Pasha in public the day before, he was relieved of his post as Chief of Staff to the Eastern Army Group.

All the satisfaction that General von Kressenstein, the German High Commissioner at Tiflis, could get from Nuri was an assurance in French that any "little accidents" that might have occurred would be repaired.

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