Protest of German Teachers Against Massacres Of Armenians -nyt191511

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Protest of German Teachers Against Massacres of Armenians


This protest to the German Foreign Office was written and signed by the Faculty of the German High School at Aleppo, Turkey, and came into the possession of the British Government through the censorship of the mails. A copy of it was found in a letter written by Dr. Edward Graetner, one of the signers, from Basle, Wsitzerland, on July 7, to a distinguished German theologian in a neutral country. It is presented here, with the private letter of Dr. Graetner, as documentary confirmation of the current reports of atrocities committed by the Turks against the Christian Armenians in Turkey.

ALEPPO, Oct. 8, 1915.

We humbly beg to report the following to the Foreign Office:

We feel it our duty to call the attention of the Foreign Office to the fact that our school work, the formation of a basis of civilization, and the instilling of respect in the natives will be henceforward impossible if the German Government is not in a position to put an end to the brutalities inflicted here on the exiled wives and children of murdered Armenians.

In face of the horrible scenes which takes place daily near our school buildings before our very eyes, our school work has sunk to a level which is an insult to all human sentiments. How can we masters possibly read the stories of "Snow-white and the Seven Dwarfs" with our Armenian children, how can we bring ourselves to decline and conjugate, when in the courtyards opposite and next to our school buildings death is reaping a harvest among the starving compatriots of our pupils?

Girls, boys, and women, all practically naked, lie on the ground breathing their last sighs amid the dying and among the coffins put out ready for them.

Frothy to fifty people reduced to skeletons are all that is left of the 2,000 to 3,000 healthy peasant women driven down here from Upper Armenia. The good-looking ones are decimated by the vice of their jailers, while the ugly ones are victimized by beatings, hunger, and thirst. Even those lying at the water's edge are not allowed to drink. Europeans are prohibited from distributing bread among them. More than a hundred corpses are taken out daily from Aleppo.

All this is taking place before the eyes of highly placed Turkish officials. Forty to fifty people reduced to skeletons are lying heaped up in a yard near our school. They are practically insane, and have forgotten how to eat. If one offers them bread they push it indifferently aside. They utter low groans and await death.

Ta-a-lim el alman (the cult of the Germans) is responsible for this, the natives declare.

It will always remain a terrible stain on Germany's honor among the generations to come.

The more educated inhabitants of Aleppo maintain that the Germans do not really approve of these outrages. Perhaps the German people, too, are ignorant of these events. How would it be possible otherwise for the usually truth-loving German press to report the humane treatment of Armenians accused of high treason? But it may be that the German Government's hands are tied by reason of certain contracts. No-- when it is a question of thousands of helpless women and children who are being driven to certain death by starvation the words "opportun" and "Kompetenzvertage" can no longer have any meaning. Every cultured human being is competent to intervene, and it is, in fact, his sacred duty to do so. Our esteem among the generations to come is at stake. The more refined Turks and Arabs shake their heads sorrowfully when they see brutal soldiers bringing convoys through the town of women far advanced in pregnancy, whom they beat with cudgels, these poor wretches being hardly able to drag themselves along.

There are, moreover, dreadful hecatombs of Human beings, as shown in the enclosed decree of Djemal Pasha.

This is a proof that in certain places the light is feared, but people have not yet the will to put an end to these scenes, which are degrading to mankind.

We know that the Foreign Office has already received descriptions of the local condition of affairs from other sources. Since, however, the procedure of deportation has no way been ameliorated, we feel it more than ever our duty to submit this report for your perusal.

Above all, we realize to the full the danger with which German prestige is here threatened.


In his own letter, Dr. Graetner gives further details of what he witnessed:

I am going to tell you more about the Armenians episode, for this time the question was not one of the traditional massacres, but of nothing more nor less than the complete extermination of the Armenians in Turkey. This fact Talaat Bey's Turkish officials cynically admitted with some embarrassment to the German Consul. The Government first made out that they only wanted to clear the war zone and to assign new dwellings to the emigrants.

They began by enticing the most warlike of the mountaineers out of their rocky fastnesses. This they did with the help of the securities of the Turkish Empire, of the heads of their own churches, of the American missionaries, and of one German Consul. Thereupon began expulsions from everywhere, even from districts to which the war will never be carried. How these were effected is shown from the fact that out of the 18,000 people driven out of Kharput and Sivas only 350 reached Aleppo, the protest of these were by no means at the end of their troubles. Those who did not die here (the cemeteries are full) were driven by night to the Syrian steppes, toward the Zor on the Euphrates. Here a very small percentage frap out their existence, threatened by starvation.

I state this as an eyewitness. I was there in October of last year and saw with my own eyes several Armenian corpses floating in the Euphrates or lying about the steppe.

The Germans, with a number of laudable exceptions, witness these things quite unperturbed, holding out the following excuse:

"We just need the Turks, you see!"

I know for a fact, moreover, that an employee of the German Cotton Association and one on the Baghdad Railroad were forbidden to help the Armenians. German officers have also raised a complaint against their Consul for his sympathy with the Armenians, and a German teacher, although most capable, was not appointed to a school of the Turko-German Association on account of his having an Armenian wife. They are afraid that the Turks might take offense at this. The Turks are less considerate.

"The question is one of a Turkish internal affair; we must not mix ourselves up in it !"This is what one constantly hears people say. One it was a question, however, of persuading the Armenians to yield, they did mix themselves up in it !

The Armenians of Urfa, seeing the fate which had befallen their compatriots from other districts, refused to leave their city and offered resistance. Thereupon no less a person than Count Wolf von Wolfskehl ordered the town to be bombarded, and after the surrender of 1,000 Armenian men he had not the power to prevent their being massacred.

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