Saw Armenians Go Starving To Exile -nyt19160216

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Story of a Journey Through Turkey as Told to the Board of Missions.


"The Slow Massacre of a Race," a Victim Calles It--Babies Thrown into Rivers.

FEBRUARY 6, 1916

The story of a journey through Turkey, from a port on the Mediterranean to Constantinople, is told in the January bulletin of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions by a member of the party who recently arrived in this country. The trustworthiness of the narrator is vouched for by the board.

The journey to Constantinople began on a Monday morning, a few weeks ago. The first stop was a little village where the party had to remain three hours. While there the travelers went to the home of a young Armenian woman, the wife of an Armenian physician who had a year before gone to the front as a member of the Medical Corps of the Turkish Army. The fact that her husband was at the front for Turkey and ministering to Turkish wounded and sick did not little children from exportation by the Turks came, ordered her and the children to leave, and then plundered the house.

"It was one of the saddest hours I ever lived through," says the person who tells this story, "and we knew that in hundreds of other homes in that very town the same heartrending scenes might be witnessed. The courage of that little woman who knew she must take her two babies and faces starvation and death with them! Her smile was like a beacon in that mud village, where hundreds were-doomed. Her husband was far away, ministering to those who were sending her and her babies to destruction.

" 'It is the slow massacre of our entire race," said one woman. 'It is worse than massacres, replied a man.

"The town crier went through all the streets of the village, crying out that any one who helped the Armenians in any way, gave them food, money, or anything would be beaten and cast into prison. To help them we could do nothing; we were powerless to save their lives.

"Already the Turks had taken the American school and church, and after a procession through the streets had consecrated the church into a mosque and made the school a Turkish school. They had taken down the cross and put up the crescent. Some weeks before they had exiled the faithful Armenian pastor, who for a great many years had toiled there, as he said, 'to make a little oasis in the desert.'

"Hardly had we left the town when we began to meet one train after another, crowded, jammed with these poor people being carried away to some spot where no food could be obtained. At every station we stopped we came side by side with one of these trains. It was made up of cattle cars, and the faces of little children were looking out from behind the barred windows of each car. The side doors were open, and one could plainly see old men and old women, young mothers with tiny babies, men, women, and children all huddled together--human beings treated worse than cattle are treated.

"About 8 o'clock that evening we came to a station where stood one of these trains. The Armenians told us that they had been in the station for three days, with no food. They said the Turks forbade their buying food. At the end of each train was a car of Turkish soldiers, ready to drive the poor people on when then they reached the desert, or to whatever place they were being taken.

"They told us that twenty babies had been thrown into a river as a train crossed, thrown by the mothers themselves, who could not bear to hear their little ones crying for food when there was no food to give them. One woman gave birth to twins in one of those crowded cars, and crossing a river she threw both her here babies and then herself into the water. Those who could not pay to ride in these cattle cars were forced to walk. All along the road, as our train passed, we saw them walking slowly and sadly along driven from their homes like sheep to the slaughter.

"A German officer was on the train with us, and I asked him if Germany had anything to do with this exile, for I thought it was the most brutal thing that had ever happened. He said, "You can't object to exiling a race; it's only the way the Turks are doing it which is bad." He said he had just come from the interior himself and had seen the most terrible sights he ever saw in his life. Hundreds of people were walking over the mountains, driven by soldiers. Many were dead and dying by the roadside. Old women and dying by the roadside. Old women and little children too feeble to walk were strapped to the sides of donkeys Babies lay dead in the road. Human life thrown away everywhere."

"Another man on the train said that in one train he was in the mothers bagged him to take their children, to save them from such a death. He said that an Armenian, a leading business man in ------, told him that he would rather kill his four daughters with his own hand than see the Turks take them from him. This Armenian was made to leave his home, his business and all he had, and started off with his family to weak to whatever place the Turks desired to exile him.

"When we reached a station near Constantinople we met a long train of Armenians that had just been exiled. Some of our party talked with one of the native teachers from the American school. Among other things he said that an old man was walking the street when the order came to leave. The old man was deaf and did not understand. Because he made no move to leave the soldiers shot him down in the street.

"On every train we met we heard the heartrending cries of little children."

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