Arnold Joseph Toynbee.

Armenian atrocities, the murder of a nation online

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■i lordbryce'' r>






London. New York. Toronto.



.•-'. ..-_* i' :« c.&



Evtry place mar this map, villi the exception

deportations, or m or both, between April and N

The nine places underlined were the destinations mat
■>• for death.

* Dhitnotika, Malgara, and Keshan, ia Thrace, are too far

tided in square brackets, has been the scene of either

*&* . . .

"such of the deported Armenians as reached them, as waiting'

appear oa this map, but they must be added to the list.



Statement by Lord Bryce
I.— Armenia before the Massacres ... 17
II.— The Plan op the Massacres ...

HI.— The Road to Death

IV.— The Journey's End

V.— False Excuses

VI.— Murder Outright

YIL— The Toll of Death

VIII. The Attitude of Germany






As His Majesty's Government have, of course,
been unable to obtain, except from one or two
quarters, such as the Consul at Tiflis quoted by
Lord Cromer, any official information with regard
to what has been passing in Armenia and Asiatic-
Turkey, I think it right to make public some
further information which has reached me from
various sources — sources which I can trust,
though for obvious reasons I cannot, by men-
tioning them here, expose my informants to
danger. The accounts come from different quarters,
but they agree in essentials, and in fact confirm
one another. The time is past when any
harm can be done by publicity ; and the fuller
publicity that is given to the events that have
happened the better it will be, because herein lies

* The version here printed embodies Lord Bryce's owr
revision and enlargement of the official report of hit
epeech delivered in the House of Lords on October 6tb

the only possible chance that exists of arresting
tlies" massacres, if they have not yet been com*

I am grieved to say that such information Us has
reached mc from several quarters goes to show that
the number of those who have perished in the
various ways to which I shall refer is very targe.
It lias been estimated at the figure of 800,000.
Though hoping that figure to be tar beyond the
mark, \ cannot venture to pronounce it incredible,
for there has beeu an unparalleled destruction of
life all over the country from the frontiers of Persia
to the Sea of Marmora, only a very few of the cities
on the Aegean Coast having so far escaped. This
is so, because the proceedings taken have been so
carefully premeditated and systo maticaUy carried
out with a ruthless efficiency previously unknown
among the Turks. The massacres are the result of
a policy which, as far as cau 1 taint ! . has

n entertained for some considerable time by the
gang of unscrupulous adventurers who arc now
in possession of the Government of the Turkish
Kmpire. Tin-' ted to pul ir in practice until

they thought the favourable moment had come, and
that moment seems to have arrived ab >ut the month
of April. That was the time when the-*.* orders
were issued, orders which cam.' down in every case
from Constantinople, and which the officials found


themselves obliged to carry out on pain of

There was no Moslem passion against the Ar-
menian Christians. All was done by the will of
the Government, and done not from any religious
fanaticism, but simply because they wished, for
reasons purely political, to get rid of a non-Moslem
element which impaired the homogeneity of the
Empire, and constituted an element that might not
always submit to oppression. All that I have
learned confirms what has already been said else-
where, that there is no reason to believe that in
this case Musulman fanaticism came into play at
all. So far as can be made ont, though of course
the baser natures have welcomed and used the
opportunities for plunder which slaughter and
deportations afford, these massacres have been
viewed by the better sort of religions Moslems
with horror rather than with sympathy. It would
be too much to say that they have often attempted
to interfere, but at any rate they do hot seem to
have shown approval of the conduct of the Turkish

There is nothing in the precepts of Islam which
justifies the slaughter which has been perpetrated. I
am told on good authority that high Moslem religious
authorities condemned the massacres ordered by
Abdul Hamid, and these are far more atrocious.

In some cases the Governors, being pious and
humane men, refused to execute the orders that
had reached them, and endeavoured to give what
protection they could to the unfortunate Armenians.
In two cases I have heard of the Governors being
immediately dismissed for refusing to obey the
orders. Others more pliant were substituted, and
the massacres were carried out.

As I have said, the procedure was exceedingly
systematic. The whole Armenian population of
each town or village was cleared out, by a house-to-
house search. Every inmate was driven into the
street. Some of the men were thrown into prison,
where they were put to death, sometimes with
torture ; the rest of the men, with the women and
children, were marched out of the town. When
they had got some little distance they were
separated, the men being taken to some place
among the hills where the soldiers, or the Kurdish
tribes who were called in to help in the work
of slaughter, despatched them by shooting or
bayonetting. The women and children and old
men were sent off under convoy of the lowest
kind of soldiers — many of them just drawn from
gaols — to their distant destination, which was
sometimes one of the unhealthy districts in the
centre of Asia Minor, but more frequently the large
desert in the province of Der el Zor, which lies east of

Aleppo, iii the direction of the Euphrates. They were
driven along by the soldiers day after day. ;ill on
loot, beaten or left behind to perish if they could
not keep up with the caravan : many fell by the
way, and many died of hunger. No provisions
were given them by the Turkish Government, and
they had already been robbed of everything thej
possessed. Not a i'rw of the women were stripped
naked and made to travel in that condition beneath
aborning sun. Some of the mothers went mad
and threw away their children, being unable to
carry them Further. The caravan route was
marked by a line of corpses, and comparatively
few seem to have arrived at the destinations
Avhich had been prescribed for them — chosen, no
doubt, because return was impossible and because
there was little prospect that any would survive
their hardships. E have had circumstantial
accounts of; these, deportations which bear internal
evidence of being veracious, and I was told by
an American friend who lias lately returned
from Constantinople that he had heard accounts
at Constantinople, confirming fully those which
had come to me, and that what had struck
him was the comparative calmness with which
these atrocities were detailed by those who had
first-hand knowledge of them. Tilings which we
find scarcely credible excite little surprise in
Turkey. Massacre was the ov<h>v of the day


in Eastern Ruinelia in 1876, and, in 1895-6, in
Asiatic Turkey.

When the Armenian population was driven from
its homes, many of the women were not killed, but
reserved for a more humiliating fate. They were
mostly seized by Turkish officers or civilian
officials, and consigned to their harems. Others
were sold in the market, but only to a Moslem
purchaser, for they were to be made Moslems by
force. Never again would they see parents or
husbands — these Christian women condemned at one
stroke to slavery, shame and apostasy. The boys
and girls were also very largely sold into slavery,
at prices sometimes of only ten to twelve shillings,
while other boys of tender age were delivered to
dervishes, to be carried off to a sort of dervish
monastery, and there forced to become Musulmans.

To oive one instance of the thorough and
remorseless way in which the massacres were carried
out, it may suffice to refer to the case of Trebizond,
a case vouched for by the Italian Consul who was
present when the slaughter was carried out, his
country not having then declared war against
Turkey. Orders came from Constantinople that
all the Armenian Christians in Trebizond were to
be killed. Many of the Moslems tried to save their
Christian neighbours, and offered them shelter in
their houses, but the Turkish authorities were


implacable. Obeying the orders which they had
received, they hunted out all the Christians,
gathered them together, and drove a great crowd
of them down the streets of Trebizond, past the
fortress, to the edge of the sea. There they were
all put on board sailing boats, carried out some
distance on the Black Sea, and there thrown over-
board and drowned. Nearly the whole Armenian
population of from 8,000 to 10,000 were destroyed —
some in this way, some by slaughter, some by
being sent to death elsewhere. After that, any
other story becomes credible ; and I am sorry to
say that all the stories that I have received con-
tain similar elements of horror, intensified in some
cases by stories of shocking torture. But the most
pitiable case is not that of those whose misery was
ended by swift death, but of those unfortunate
women who, after their husbands had been killed
and their daughters violated, were driven out with
their young children to perish in the desert — where
they have no sustenance, and where they are the
victims of the wild Arab tribes around them. It
would seem that three-fourths or four-fifths of the
whole nation has been wiped out, and there is no
case in history, certainly not since the time of
Tamerlane, in which any crime so hideous and
upon so large a scale has been recorded.

Let me add, because this is of some importance in


viuw of the excuses which, as we understand, the
German Government are putting forward, and which
their Ambassador in Washington is stated to have
given, when he talked about " the suppression of
riots/' for the conduct of those who are their allies,
that there is no ground for the suggestion that
there had been any rising on the part of the
Armenians. A certain number of Armenian volun-
teers have fought on the side of the Russians in
the Caucasian Army, but they came, as I have
been informed, from the Armenian population
of Trans- Caucasia. It may be that some few
Armenians crossed the frontier in order to tight
alongide their Armenian brethren in Trans -Caucasia
for Russia, but at any rate, the volunteer corps
which rendered such brilliant service to the
Russian Army in the first part of the war was
composed of Russian Armenians living in the
Caucasus. Wherever the Armenians, almost wholly
unarmed as they were, have fought, they have
fought in self-defence to defend their families and
themselves from the cruelty of the ruffians who
constitute what is called the Government of the
country. There is no excuse whatever upon any
such ground as some German authorities and
newspapers allege, for the conduct of the Turkish
Government. Their policy of slaughter and depor-
tation has been wanton and unprovoked. It


appears to be simply an application of the maxim
once enunciated by Sultan Abdul Hamid : " The
way to get rid of the Armenian question is to
get rid of the Armenians " ; and the policy of
extermination has been carried out with far more
thoroughness and with far more bloodthirsty
completeness by the present heads of the Turkish
Administration — they describe themselves as the
Committee of Union and Progress — than it was in
the time of Abdul Hamid.

There are still, I believe, a few places in which
the Armenians, driven into the mountains, are
defending themselves as best they can. About
5,000 were taken off lately by French cruisers on
the coast of Syria, and have now been conveyed to
Egypt, and they tell us that in the heights of
Sassoon and in Northern Syria, possibly also in
the mountains of Cilicia, there are still a few bands,
with very limited provision of arms and munitions,
valiantly defending themselves as best they can
against their enemies. The whole nation, therefore,
is not yet extinct, so far as regards these refugees
in the mountains, and those who have escaped into
Trans- Caucasia ; and I am sure we are all heartily
agreed that every effort should be made that can
be made to send help to the unfortunate survivors,
hundreds of whom are daily perishing by want and


disease. It is all that we in England can now do;
let us do it, and do it quickly.

I have not so far been able to obtain any
authentic information regarding the part said to
have been taken by German officials in directing or
encouraging these massacres, and therefore it would
not be right to express any opinion on the subject.
But it is perfectly clear that the only chance of
saving the unfortunate remnants of this ancient
Christian nation is to be found in an expression
of the public opinion of the world, especially that
of neutral nations, which may possibly exert some
influence even upon the German Government and
induce them to take the only step by which the
massacres can be arrested. They have hitherto
stood by with callous equanimity. Let them now
tell the Turkish Government that they are prepar-
ing for themselves a well-earned retribution, and
that there are some things which the outraged
opinion of the world will not tolerate.




Tin '/following statement is based upon uuimpeaeh-

able testimonies. There are the narratives of
missionaries — Germans as well as Swiss, Americans
and other citizens of neutral countries. There are
reports from consuls on the spot, including, again,
the representatives of the German Empire. There
are numerous private letters and letters published in
the Allied and the neutral press, which record the
evidence of eye-witnesses as to what they have seen.
And there are the scries of personal depositions
which have already been published by a Com-
mittee of distinguished citizens of the United States,
The nmre closely these, independent pier < s f evidence
are examined, the more precisely they prove to bear
cue another out, sometimes even in the minutest di tails.
The facts contained in them are here presented with
full assurance of their truth. It is of course im-
possible to name such sources of evidence as have not
yet been named in print, because this would expose
to imminent danger such of them as are within the
Tu ) 7t' ish dominions.



The German War began by working horror
and desolation in unaccustomed places — peaceful
Belgium and the industrial heart of France.
Latterly it has also succeeded in aggravating the
wounds of countries already stricken sore. Poland
has learnt to envy her condition before August,
1914 ; the Balkan peoples have been robbed of their
last hope of fraternity ; and now, on the Eastern
fringe of Germany's arena, the intermittent sufferings
of the Armenian race have culminated in an
organised, cold-blooded attempt on the part of
its Turkish rulers to exterminate it once and for
all by methods of inconceivable barbarity and

The Armenians are perhaps the oldest established

of the civilised races in Western Asia, and they
are certainly the most vigorous at the present day
Their home is the tangle of high mountains be-
tween the Caspian, the Mediterranean, and the
Black Seas. Here the Armenian peasant has lived


from time immemorial the hardworking life he was
leading till the eve of this ultimate catastrophe.
Here a strong, civilised Armenian kingdom was the
first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its
national religion. Here Church and people have
maintained their tradition with extraordinary
vitality against wave upon wave of alien conquest
from every quarter.

For many centuries past, however, Armenia has
not been co-extensive with the Armenian race ; for
in the Eastern provinces of the Turkish Empire
we find the same phenomenon of racial inter-
mixture and disintegration as has been produced in
the Balkans by the operation of the Turkish regime.
Under the malignant administration of the Moslem
conqueror, the Kurds, also an ancient race, but one
which has remained uncivilised, have spread out
from their old seats over the Armenian's ancestral
mountains. They prefer a wilderness for the
pasturage of their sheep and goats, and look
askance at the neat villages and well - tilled
fields of the original inhabitants of the land.
Thus the Armenian has lost the undivided posses-
sion of his proper country ; but he has recompensed
himself by finding many new homes beyond its
borders. For the Armenian is not only an indus-
trious peasant, he has a talent for handicraft and
intellectual pursuit?. The most harassed village in


the mountains would never despair of its village

school, and these schools were avenues to a wider
world. He has also that talent for commerce
which the Jew displays in Eastern Europe and
the Greek in the Levant, and he plays a similar
role himself, as the skilled workman and the man
of business, in the interior of Asiatic Turkey. Every
town in Northern Syria and Anatolia had, eight
months ago, its populous, prosperous Armenian
quarter — the focus of local skill, intelligence and
trade, as well as of the town's commercial relations
with Constantinople and Europe. At Constanti-
nople itself, the Armenian population had risen to
more than 200,000, and there were nearly as many
in Tiflis, the capital of Russian Trans-Caucasia.
Trans-Caucasia, in fact, with its orderly Christian
government and its promising economic develop-
ment, had become a second home of the Armenian
race. The Katholikos, or head of the Armenian
Church, resides in Russian territory, at Etchmiad-
zin, and there were perhaps 750,000 Armenians on
the northern side of the Russo-Turkish frontier.
Eight months ago, however, these represented a
minority of the race, for about 1,200,000 still
remained under Turkish rule. Rather more than
half this majority was to be found in the original
Armenia, east of the upper Euphrates and north
of the Tigris. The rest were scattered through all


the towns between the Euphrates and Constanti-
nople. Their numbers were especially strong in
the Adana district of Cilicia, a rich plain bordering
on the north-east corner of the Mediterranean, while
in the mountain fastnesses above the plain the hill
towns of Zeitoun and Hadjin were flourishing
centres of Armenian life.

The condition of these twelve hundred thousand
people — about <S per cent, of the total population of
the Turkish Empire — had always been unenviable.
They were treated as a subject race, and lacked the
right of bearing arms, a status which, in a lawless
country, left them peculiarly at the mercy of their
individual Moslem neighbours. But there were
advantages to write off against such drawbacks.
Among a rather stupid, conservatively inclined
Turkish population, their commercial genius gave
them a virtual monopoly of trade, and a corre-
spondingly large share in the wealth of the country.
Hard-earned gains might often in individual cases
be reft away by local tyranny ; but the Armenian's
gifts were really indispensable to his meters, and
their general recognition of this fact was shown by
the general toleration he received from them. In
fact, the subject, Christian, intellectual Armenian
and the dominant, Moslem, agrarian Turk had
settled down into an effective, if rough and
ready, equilibrium.


This old-established adjustment of the Armenian
problem was first assailed by Sultan Abd-ul-
Hamid. His Balkan experience had taught him
the policy of keeping the races of his Empire in
hand by setting" them to massacre one another.
Applying it to his Eastern provinces, where he
feared that the intelligent and 'active Christian
population might seek liberty as the Bulgars had
sought it and obtained it at Russia's hands in
1878, he redoubled exactions, introduced new
oppressions, and ended by enlisting the services of
the Kurdish tribesmen as " Hamidieh Cavalry."
Official badges and modern rifles were served
out to the Kurds in their new capacity, and
they were initiated into their welcome duty.
The results were the unprecedented Armenian
massacres under official direction, that horrified
the civilized world in 1895 and 1896, and
evoked from Gladstone the last public speech
of his old age. When Abd-ul-Hamid was over-
thrown in 1908 and the " Committee of Union and
Progress " proclaimed constitutional government
and equal civil rights for all Ottoman citizens,
there seemed hope of better things ; but the
Ottoman Constitution was followed in less than a
year by the equally atrocious though less wide-
spread massacres of Adana. Even that paroxysm

passed, but it left a chronic evil behind. Mr. Noel
Buxton, who travelled in Turkish Armenia a few
months before the outbreak of the present war,
reported that the Young Turks had recklessly
followed the Hamidian policy of arming the Kurds,
and that a fresh disaster was possible at any
moment. Then came the war. Turkey entered it
on the German side, and the crimes began which
will be narrated in the following pages.

The evidence on which the following account is
based is drawn from various quarters. Some of it
has appeared already in print. A smaller part
has been sent privately to Lord Bryce, who has
many personal links with the Armenian people.
It agrees completely with other material incor-
porated in the Report (published in full in
the United States on October 4th. 1915) of
the American Committee of Inquiry — a body
of twenty-five members, including two ex-
ambassadors to the Porte, and f'>\\\' directors
of American mission - work in the Ottoman
Empire, as well as persons of such individual
eminence as Cardinal Gibbons, Bishops Greer
and Rhinelander, Dr. Charles W. Eliot (Ex-
President of Harvard University), Mr. Charles
R. Crane, Mr. Stephen S. Wise and Mr. John R.


Motfe.* The evidence is indeed abundant and
direct, and it is also appalling in the uniformity
with which it unfolds its otherwise scarcely
credible tale. Part of it is from the mouth of
neutral witnesses — European or American travellers
and men of business who have returned from the
interior of Turkey since the horrible work began,
or permanent residents sufficiently protected by
their status to be able to communicate what they
have seen on the >pot. Testimony of this
unequivocal character tonus the backbone of the
American Committee's statement ; but even in
these eases the evidence has to be presented, from

•American Committee ox Armenian Atrocities.

70, Fifth Avenue, New York,
James L. Barton,! Samuel T. Duttox,

Chairman. Secretary

Charles R. Crane,

Cleveland H. Dodge, Frank Mason North.

Charles W. Eliot. Harry V. Osborn.

James Cardinal Gibbons. Rt. Rev. P. Rhinelander.

Rt. Rev. David II. Greer. Karl Davis Robinson.

Norman Hapgood. William W. Rockwell.

William 1. Haven. Isaac N. Seligman.

Maurice H. Harris. William Sloane.

Arthur Curtis James. Edward Lincoln Smith.

Frederick Lynch. Oscar S. Strans.

H. Pereira Mend is. Stanley White.

John R. jfclott Stephen S. V,

j Secretary of the American Mission? Board.


motives of precaution, in an anonymous form, and
in dealing with testimony from native Armenian
sources the necessity for the strictest reticence i3
even more apparent. The crime has been com-
mitted without pretext, but no excuse for continuing
it in the cases of individuals who had exposed its
horrors, would come amiss to its authors and
organisers. Nevertheless, the witness of the
Armenians to their own sufferings is as clear as
the evidence of their better protected friends.
It is headed by the statement of the Katholikos
himself, transmitted from Russia to the Armenian
National Defence Union in the U.S., and pub-
lished on September 27th in the American press;
and his words are borne out by a confidential
letter which another high Armenian ecclesiastic,
resident in this case in neutral territory, has

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Online LibraryArnold Joseph ToynbeeArmenian atrocities, the murder of a nation → online text (page 1 of 7)