Pope May Make New Plea To Kaiser -nyt19151209

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December 9, 1915

T. P. O'Connor Hears He Will Be Asked to Take Action to Save the Armenians


Resolves to Work On Despite the Terrible Events That Have Stopped its Work for Armenia.

London, Nov 20 -- T. P. O'Connor is well known, among his other activities, as one of the veteran friends of the Armenians, and he today dictated a statement in reference to the recent massacres and the debate in the House of Commons. He says:

"If it were not for the quarter of a million of refugees that have to be helped, housed, and fed, and if I were to yield to a mood, I would feel almost too full of despair about Armenia to say one other word on the subject."

"Three or four years ago, when it seemed possible to raise the Armenian question again, I joined with others in forming an Armenian Committee; and for a couple of years everything seemed to be going in our favor."

"After negotiations of two years we at last succeeded in drafting a scheme for reform in Armenia, to which we got the assent of all the European Governments, and two general Inspectors were actually appointed to carry out these reforms just before the war began. And now the sequel is the most hideous and cruel massacre of Armenians that has ever occurred. You will acknowledge I have some cause for despondency."

"However, the British Armenian Committee have resolved to work on, and they were immensely encouraged by the information they received of the great wave of sympathy and of horror which had passed over America, and of the creation of an American Armenian Committee and of the splendid assistance poured forth from America to the refugees in Russia and Egypt."

"We approached the British Foreign Office with a request for an opportunity of raising a debate in the House of Commons and Lord Robert Cecil, who is the best Under Secretary of the Foreign Office in my time at once backed our request, and the result was the debate of last Tuesday night."

"It was a brief debate, but it was one of the most thrilling I have ever heard. It was initiated by Aneurim Williams who is the Chairman of our committee, I followed, and then there was a brief speech from Lord Robert Cecil. It will perhaps be some satisfaction to the American Armenian Committee that their work largely supplied our material."

"On the morning of the debate there was distributed a pamphlet on Armenia written by Arnold Toynbee, a brilliant man of letters, to all the members of the House. I was surprised to find that, amid the mass of literature at such a time, it had already been read by the majority of the House, and its ghastly story had moved everybody. But it ought to be noted that the greater part of the materials for Mr. Toynbee's pamphlet had been supplied by the report off the American Armenian Committee. I may go further and say that the burden of all the speeches was that it was to America more than any other nation that we should look with the most hope for preventing further massacre and for helping those who have escaped massacre."

"There was, however, some difference of opinion on an unofficial request made by me and the official answer of Lord Robert Cecil as to how America could best help. I ventured to suggest that the British Government might make an appeal to President Wilson and to the American Government to take official action. Lord Robert Cecil, however, pointed out that it was impossible for the British Government to dictate or even to suggest to the governments of independent neutral countries what their duty was. 'It is' he said, 'for each Government to settle exactly what it ought to do with reference to foreign Governments.' "

"I however, put as a second line of action that we should make a strong appeal to the sympathy and support of the generous and humane people of the United States themselves to bring relief to the oppressed Armenians, and Lord Robert cordially took up this suggestion. We also look with hope to the intervention of the Pope. Lord Robert Cecil was able to inform the House that humanity was grateful to the Pope for the steps he had already taken and I understand that the Pope will be asked to make a direct appeal to the German Kaiser in addition to the appeal he has already made to the Sultan."

"Another of our requests to the Government was that the British armies and ships should, where possible do their best to rescue any Armenians escaping from massacre, as the French ships had done in the case of 4,000 refugees whom they had been able to land in Egypt, and I understand instructions of this kind have already been sent, and with some good results."

"Finally, I would suggest that the American and British Armenian Committees should keep in constant touch with each other, if necessary by cable. I and others have already had correspondence with Mr. Oscar Straus and Mr. Samuel Dutton, and I trust that by working together we may do something, especially for the refugees. Money is coming in to us in considerable quantities, especially considering all the other demands upon the generosity of the British people; and we have already been able to send to the Armenian Catholikos something like L8,000 or L10,000 and we shall send more as promptly as the money comes in."

Thanks to [ASA] for digitizing this article.