The Armenians In Asia Minor -om19150818

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AUGUST 18, 1915

On July 28, in the British House of Lords, the Earl of Crewe, Lord President of the Council, replaying to a question by Viscount Bryce concerning the killing of Christians in Armenia, said that such crimes had increased both in number and in degree of atrocity. The Armenians have often suffered outrage and massacre, and the present was offers a new opportunity for oppression.

As far back as last January some one hundred thousand persons from the Turkish and Persian Armenia provinces had taken refuge at Etchmiadzin, at the foot of Mount Ararat, in Russian Armenia, where they appealed for relief to the head of the Armenia Church and to their compatriots. They had been chiefly suffering from the wild Kurdish tribes along the border.

In May, however, the Armenians of Asia Minor had to meet another oppressor, the Turkish Government. It issued an order, the execution of which at Brusa (the city which the Turks may make their capital if Constantinople falls) is thus described by an eye-witness:

The police at midnight swooped down upon the homes of all Armenians whose names had been put on the proscribed list sent from Constantinople. These men were arrested and the minutest search made of their homes for possible revolutionary documents. The young Armenians were then ordered into the army; the older men were deported into the interior, while women and children who were not carried off in an opposite direction were left to shift for themselves. In thousands of cases the deportation has been carried out on such a basis that families, broken up by the Turkish official will never be reunited.

Another report at hand in a letter just received by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions from a British resident of Constantinople:

Zeitun has ceased to exist as an Armenian town. The inhabitants have been scattered, the city occupied by Turks, and the very name changed. The same is true, to a large extent, of Hadjin, except, I believe, the name has not been altered. The Armenians of the regions of Erzerum, Bitlis, and Erzingan have under torture been covered to Islam. Hardin reports 1895 (the year of the infamous massacre) conditions as prevailing there. The tale is awful to the last degree. . . . The inhabitants of cities like Zeitun and Hadjin are driven out like cattle and made to march long distances under the burning sun, hungry and thirsty. For instance, large numbers from Zeitun have recently reached Adana utterly destitute, many having been left to die along the road. More than a thousand families Hadjin recently arrived in Aleppo in the last degree of misery, and yet the proposes to send them mach farther. Husbands are forcibly separated from wives and sent to places long distance apart. Children are similarly separated from parents.

We learn that some twenty thousand Turks from Thrace were taken to Zeitun and established in houses that for generations belonged to the Armenians, while the former owners were scattered to the extreme ends of the Empire, one portion being sent to the sandy deserts at the head of the Persian Gulf and the other to malarial marshes in the interior.

So critical is the situation that Mr. Morgenthau, our Ambassador at Constantinople, who, almost single-handed, is fighting to prevent a wholesale slaughter, has asked and obtained the co-operation of the Ambassadors there of Turkey's allies, Baron von Wangenheim and Margrave Pallavincini. They have joined our Ambassador in trying to convince the Turkish Government that a renewal of the Atrocities of the former Turkish regime would be a crime.


We have been so accustomed to thinking of the Armenians as resident only in Turkey that we often lose sight of the fact that they also live in Russia and in Persia. The news which comes to hand from Persia is as ghastly in its details as that which has been received from Asia Minor. The city of Salmast, for instance, has been completely destroyed by the Kurds. One of the survivors writes:

Hundreds of old people and children remained behind in the ill-omened "Valley of Blood," unable to reach Duzlac. Those who could go on tottered as they walked. Here a dozen women and children, buried in a chasm of snow, were crying out for help. There a cart had been upset into a deep ravine with all its passengers and animals. One woman, unable to walk further, fell on the snow and gave birth to a child. A few yards away, another, made insane by suffering, leaped over a cliff, at the bottom of which hungry wolves were whining. Such scenes were repeated all along the route. I saw one woman, whose husband had just been killed, walking with all her clothes frozen, one child in her arms, another on her back, and the oldest walking by her side. A sick woman was telling how her husband and children had been butchered before her eyes. She begged to be killed too, but instead she was subjected to treatment worst than death. The wailing of the children, woman, and old people was heartrending. Many of the refugees were swept away in trying to cross the streams, and dead bodies by hundreds lined the road.

Again, near Urumia, where Americans have a most efficient hospital and mission, four thousand Armenians were killed outright. Crowds of men, women, and children took refuge in the churches, but these were burned down and the poor refugees slaughtered like trapped rats. Nor was this the worst. For many days the field around Salmast and Urumia were strewn with dead bodies, for no kindred or friends were left to give them interment. The marauders allowed them to fester and rot on the open ground. No wonder that from the Azerbaijan Province of Persia alone there has been an exodus of some two score thousand into Russia.

The time is thus indeed ripe for the friends of the Armenians to show whether they mean anything by their friendship. An American Armenian Relief Fund has been established under the direction of such men as Bishops Greer and Rhinelander, the Rev. Dr. James L. Barton, Rabbi Harris, ex-President Eliot, and Mr. Oscar Straus. The treasurers are Messrs. Brown Brothers & Co., Bankers, 59 Wall Street, New York City, who will transmit all funds in equal parts to the head of the Armenian Church at Etchmiadzin, and to Mr. W. W. Peet, treasurer of the American board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions at Constantinople. The Armenian colonists, especially in the United States and in other parts of the world, have already sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to relieve their people, but the misery needs the help of all friends of the Armenians as well.

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