Herbert Adams Gibbons.

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The Blackest Page


Modern History

Events in Armenia in 1915
The Facts and the Responsibilities


Herbert Adams Gibbons, pld.

Author of

"The Foundation of the Ottoman Empire," "The
New Map of Europe," etc.

G. P, Putnam's Sons

New York and London

Zbc Imicfterbocftec press


( vN V-..



Copyright, 1916



Ube "fftnfcftcrbocJjcr iprcss, "Ittew l^orl;

"And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is
Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not:
am I my brother's keeper?"

Genesis iv., 9.


** » » T 1 *

The Blackest Page of
Modern History


rllE war that started on August i,
IQ14, has gradually involved na-
tions, large and small, not origin-
ally participants. Other nations, large and
small, while still managing to maintain
an official neutrality, have found them-
selves drawn into diplomatic controversies
with both groups of belligerents. With the
exception of South America, the continents
of the world have sent contingents to fight
in Europe. The destinies of Africa, Asia,
and Australia are at stake, and the destinies

* % c

. ,6 ' i he Blackest Pao^e

of the western hemisphere willy long before
the end is reached, he influenced vitally hy
the tremendous events that are taking place
in Europe. We can, then, without exag-
geration, call the war that was provoked hy
the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Servia,
a world war.

Still in the midst of war, still prejudiced
hy our sympathies and our interests ^ neither
participants nor spectators are in a position
to form a definitive judgment upon the
many problems of the origin of the war, and
upon controversial points that have arisen
between the belligerents and between belliger-
ents and neutrals, because of acts of war.

But can we assume the attitude of suspend-
ing judgment in regard to all^ that has hap-
pened since August, IQ14, and aU that is
happening to-day? The world at heart is
not cold-blooded. The world at heart is not

Of Modern History 7

hopelessly selfish. The world at heart is
not deaf to the appeal of the innocent and
helpless. Else we should have reason
indeed to believe in the complete disappear-
ance of our twentieth-cefitury Christian
civilization. If some issues are deb at-
able, if some events are obscure, if some
charges and counter-charges cannot be
determined, there are others that can be

It is because the Armenian massacres
in Turkey are clearly established, because
responsibilities can be definitely fixed, and
because an appeal to humanity can be made
on behalf of the remnant of the Armenian
race in the Ottoman Empire without the
slightest suspicion of political interest, that
I feel it advisable and imperative at this
moment to call attention to what is undoubt-
edly the blackest page in modern history, to

8 Blackest Page of Modern History

set forth the facts, and to point out the

Herbert Adams Gibbons.

Paris, December i, 191 5.



Foreword .-5

Introductory . . . . .11


In April, 19 15, the Ottoman Govern-
ment Began to Put into Execution
throughout Turkey a Systematic
AND Carefully-Prepared Plan to
Exterminate the Armenian Race.
In Six Months Nearly a Million
Armenians have been Killed. The
Number of the Victims and the
Manner of their Destruction are
without Parallel in Modern History i 7


The Armenians, as a Race, have never
been, and are not, a menace to the
Security of Turkey. They are
Blameless of the Charge of Dis-
loyalty, which has been the Excuse
for their Massacre and Deportation 30


10 Contents



The Preservation of the Armenian
Element is Absolutely Indispensa-
ble TO the Well-being and Pros-
perity of the Ottoman Empire. It
HAS BEEN Proved through Centuries
that Christians and Moslems are
Able to Live in Peace and Amity
in Turkey, which is Equally the
Country of Both . . . -43


The German Government could have
Prevented this Effort at Exter-
minating the Armenian Race, but
HAS Chosen not to Do so. There is
Grave Reason to Believe the Ger-
man Government has Welcomed, if
not Encouraged, the Disappear-
ance of the Armenians from Asia
Minor, for the Furtherance of
German Political and Commercial
Designs on the Ottoman Empire . 54

Conclusion 65

Sources 69


IN the summer of 1908, when the
Young Turks compelled Abdul Ha-
mid to re-establish the constitution
he had granted, and almost immedi-
ately suppressed, at the beginning of
his reign thirty years before, they had
a good press throughout the civilized
world. Writers of all nations lauded the
Young Turks, and described in glowing
terms the wonderful future of the Otto-
man Empire under the regime of Liberty,
Equality, and Fraternity. The goodwill
of Europe and America, and practical
encouragement as well, was given to the
reformers of Turkey in every possible

way. Especially among the Powers,


12 The Blackest Page

Great Britain and France aided the
Young Turks to establish the new regime
by lending them money and capable ad-
visers for the Treasury and Navy, the
two departments of the Turkish Govern-
ment that were the weakest.

One has only to look through the
files of the newspapers of Occidental
Europe to establish the truth of this
statement. As one of the group of
writers for the European and American
press on Turkish affairs, during the first
difficult (and disappointing!) years of
the constitutional regime, I can say
honestly that our loyalt}^ to the Young
Turks was unswerving. In the hope that
the end would justify the means, I am
afraid that there was not one of us who
did not occasionally sin against his own
convictions by suppressio veri, if not by

Of Modern History 13

actual stiggestio falsi. Occidental diplo-
macy was just as loyal to Young Turkey
as was Occidental journalism. Successive
Grand Viziers assured me that the loyal
co-operation of London and Paris, through
willingness to forbear criticism and to
leave much unsaid, had made possible
the maintenance of the newly-established
constitution throughout the first difficult
winter, and the weathering of the storm
of Abdul Hamid's attempted counter-

It was my fortune to go to Turkey dur-
ing the first month of the new regime, and
to live in Asia Minor and Constantino-
ple until after the disastrous war with
the Balkan States. From 1908 to 1913,
I enjoyed exceptional opportunities of
travelling in European and Asiatic
Turkey, of becoming acquainted with the

14 The Blackest Page

men who were guiding the destinies of
the Ottoman Empire, and of witnessing
the fatal events that changed in five
years the hope of regeneration into the
despair of dissolution. At Smyrna, at
Constantinople, and at Beirut, I took
part in the fetes to celebrate the birth
of the new regime, and saw the ostensible
reconciliation of Christian, Moslem, and
Jewish elements. Christian priests and
Moslem ulema embraced each other and
drove through the streets in triumphal
procession in the same carriages.

Above all, from the very beginning, I
was in a position to become intimately
acquainted with the Armenians of Turkey
and to find out their real sentiments
towards the Young Turks and the new
regime. I was in Adana, in April, 1909,
when their enthusiastic loyalty was re-

Of Modern History 15

warded by a massacre of thirty thou-
sand of them in CiHcia and northern
Syria. I was able to observe the attitude
of the Armenians before the massacre.
Their blood was spilled before my eyes
in Adana. I was with them in different
places after the fury of the massacre had

This preamble in the first person is
reluctantly written. But I feel that it
must be given, in order that I may antici-
pate exception to my statements on the
ground that I am "not acquainted with
the problem," and that "it is impossible
for an outsider to form a judgment on
these matters." For I have always
found that the Turk and his friends y when
you speak to them on the Armenian
question, flatly deny your facts and
challenge the competency of your judg-

1 6 Blackest Page of Modern History

ment. It is necessary, then, for me to
state that the facts set forth here are given
with intimate personal knowledge of their
authenticity, and that the judgments
passed upon these facts are the result of
years of study and observation at close


In April, 191 5, the Ottoman Govern-
ment Began to Put into Execution
throughout turkey a systematic
AND Carefully-prepared Plan to
Exterminate the Armenian Race.
In Six Months Nearly a Million
Armenians have been Killed.
The Number of the Victims and
THE Manner of their Destruc-
tion ARE without Parallel in
Modern History.

IN the autumn of 1914, the Turks began
to mobilize Christians as well as
Moslems for the army. For six
months, in every part of Turkey, they

a 17

1 8 The Blackest Page

called upon the Armenians for military
service. Exemption money was accepted
from those who could pay. A few weeks
later the exemption certificates were dis-
regarded, and their holders enrolled.
The younger classes of Armenians, who
did not live too far from Constantinople,
were placed, as in the Balkan wars, in the
active army. The older ones, and all the
Armenians enrolled in the more distant
regions, were utilized for road, railway,
and fortification building. Wherever
they were called, and to whatever task
they were put, the Armenians did their
duty, and worked for the defence of
Turkey. They proved themselves brave
soldiers and intelligent and industrious

In April, 19 15, orders were sent out
from Constantinople to the local author-

Of Modern History 19

ities in Asia Minor to take whatever
measures were deemed best to paralyse
in advance an attempt at rebellion on the
part of the Armenians. The orders im-
pressed upon the local authorities that
the Armenians were an extreme dan-
ger to the safety of the empire, and sug-
gested that national defence demanded
imperatively anticipatory severity in
order that the Armenians might be
rendered harmless.

In some places, the local authorities
replied that they had observed no sus-
picious activity on the part of the Arme-
nians and reminded the Government that
the Armenians were harmless because they
possessed no arms and because the most
vigorous masculine element had already
been taken for the army. There are
some Turks who have a sense of pity

20 The Blackest Page

and a sense of shame! But the majority
of the Turkish officials responded with
alacrity to the hint from Constantinople,
and those who did not were very soon

A new era of Armenian massacres

At first, in order that the task might be
accomplished with the least possible risk,
the virile masculine Armenian population
still left in the cities and villages was
summoned to assemble at a convenient
place, generally outside the town, and
gendarmes and police saw to it that the
summons was obeyed. None was over-
looked. When they had rounded up the
Armenian men, they butchered them.
This method of procedure was generally
feasible in small places. In larger cities,
it was not always possible to fulfil the

Of Modern History 21

orders from Constantinople so simply and
promptly. The Armenian notables were
assassinated in the streets or in their
homes. If it was an interior city, the
men were sent off under guard to ' * another
town. " In a few hours the guard would
return without their prisoners. If it
was a coast city, the Armenians were
taken away in boats outside the har-
bour to ** another port." The boats
returned astonishingly soon without the

Then, in order to prevent the possibil-
ity of trouble from Armenians mobilized
for railway and road construction, they
were divided in companies of from three
hundred to five hundred and put to work
at intervals of several miles. Regiments
of the Turkish regular army were sent
''to put down the Armenian revolution, "

22 The Blackest Page

and came suddenly upon the little groups
of workers plying pickaxe, crowbar, and
shovel. The ''rebels" were riddled with
bullets before they knew what was
happening. The few who managed to
flee were followed by motmted men, and
shot or sabred.

Telegrams began to pour in upon
Talaat bey at Constantinople, announc-
ing that here, there, and everywhere
Armenian uprisings had been put down,
and telegrams were returned, congratu-
lating the local officials upon the success
of their prompt measures. To neutral
newspaper men at Constantinople, to
neutral diplomats, who had heard vaguely
of a recurrence of Armenian massacres,
this telegraphic correspondence was shown
as proof that an imminent danger had
been averted. "We have not been cruel.

Of Modern History 23

but we admit having been severe/* de-
clared Talaat bey. ' * This is war time. * *

Having thus rid themselves of the
active manhood of the Armenian race,
the Turkish Government still felt uneasy.
The old men and boys, the women and
children, were an element of danger
to the Ottoman Empire. The Armeni-
ans must be rooted out of Turkey. But
how accomplish this in such a way that
the Turkish Ambassador at Washington
and the German newspapers might be
able to say, as they have said and are still
saying, **A11 those who have been killed
were of that rebellious element caught
red-handed or while otherwise commit-
ting traitorous acts against the Turkish
Government, and not women and children,
as some of these fabricated reports would "
have the Americans believe?" Talaat

24 The Blackest Page

bey was ready with his plan. Deporta-
tion — a regrettable measure, a military
necessity — but perfectly humane.

From May until October the Ottoman
Government pursued methodically a plan
of extermination far more hellish than the
worst possible massacre. Orders for de-
portation of the entire Armenian popu-
lation to Mesopotamia were despatched
to every province of Asia Minor. These
orders were explicit and detailed. No
hamlet was too insignificant to be missed.
The news was given by town criers that
every Armenian was to be ready to leave
at a certain hour for an unknown desti-
nation. There were no exceptions for
the aged, the ill, the women in pregnancy.
Only rich merchants and bankers and
good-looking women and girls were al-
lowed to escape by professing Islam,

Of Modern History 25

and let it be said to their everlasting
honour that few availed themselves of
this means of escape. The time given
varied from two days to six hours. No
household goods, no animals, no extra
clothing could be taken along. Food
supply and bedding was limited to what
a person could carry. And they had to
go on foot under the burning sun through
parched valleys and over snow-covered
mountain passes, a journey of from three
to eight weeks.

When they passed through Christian
villages where the deportation order
had not yet been received, the travellers
were not allowed to receive food or
ministrations of any sort. The sick and
the aged and the wee children fell by the
roadside, and did not rise again. Women
in childbirth were urged along by bayo-

26 The Blackest Page

nets and whips until the moment of de-
liverance came, and were left to bleed
to death. The likely girls were seized
for harems, or raped day after day by the
guards until death came as a merciful
release. Those who could committed
suicide. Mothers went crazy, and threw
their children into the river to end their
sufferings. Hundreds of thousands of
women and children died of hunger, of
thirst, of exposure, of shame.

The pitiful caravans thinned out, first
daily, and later hourly. Death be-
came the one thing to be longed for: for
how can hope live, how can strength
remain, even to the fittest, in a journey
that has no end? And if they turned
to right or left from that road to hell,
they were shot or speared. Kurds and
mounted peasants hunted down those

Of Modern History 2^

who succeeded in escaping the roadside

They are still putting down the Arme-
nian revolution out there in Asia Minor.
I had just written the above paragraph
when an English woman whom I have
known for many years came to my home.
She left Adana, in Cilicia, only a month
ago. Her story is the same as that of
a hundred others. I have the identical
facts, one eye-witness testimony corrobo-
rating the other, from American, English,
German, and Swiss sources. This English
woman said to me, ''The deportation is
still going on. From the interior along
the Bagdad Railway they are still being
sent through Adana on the journey of
death. As far as the railway exists, it is
being used to hurry the work of extermin-
ation faster than the caravans from the

28 The Blackest Page

regions where there are no railways.
Oh! if they would only massacre them,
and be done with it, as in the
Hamidian days! I stood there at
the Adana railway station, and from
the carriages the women would hold
up their children, and cry for water.
They had got beyond a desire for
bread. Only water! There was a
pump. I went down on my knees to
beg the Turkish guard to let me give
them a drink. But the train moved on,
and the last I heard was the cry of those
lost souls. That was not once. It was
almost every day the same thing. Did
Lord Bryce say eight hundred thou-
sand? Well, it must be a million now.
Could you conceive of human beings
allowing wild animals to die a death
like that?"

Of Modern History 29

But the Turkish Ambassador in Wash-
ington declares that these stories are
"fabrications, " and that "no women and
children have been killed.''


The Armenians, as a Race, have
never been, and are not, a men-
ACE TO THE Security of Turkey.
They ARE Blameless of the Charge
of Disloyalty, which has been
THE Excuse for their Massacre
AND Deportation.

IN commenting upon the report of the
American Committee, on Armenian
Atrocities, Djelal Munif bey, the
Turkish Consul- General in New York,
declared: ''However much to be deplored
may be these harrowing events in the
last analysis, we can but say the Arme-
nians have only themselves to blame/'


Blackest Page of Modern History 31

Djelal Munif bey went on to explain that
the Armenians had been planning a
revolution, and were killed by the Turkish
soldiers only after they had been caught
"red-handed with arms in their hands,
resisting lawful authority/*

This has been the invariable explan-
ation for the massacre of Armenians in
Turkey. We heard it in 1 895-1 896 and
in 1909. We have been hearing it again
in 19 1 5. But facts to substantiate it
have never been given. On the other
hand, there exists overwhelming evi-
dence of the most convincing character
to show how inadmissible it is as an ex-
planation, how baseless it is as a charge.

I have talked personally with, or have
seen letters and reports from, American
missionaries and consular officials of all
nations, who were witnesses of the massa-

32 The Blackest Page

cres of 1895 and 1896. At that time, as
a result of unendurable persecution and
injustice, certain organizations of young
men, of the type the French call exaltes,
banded together in secret societies, an
imitation of internal organizations in
Russia, agitated, within the Ottoman
Empire and abroad, for a more favour-
able treatment of Armenians and other
Christians. Some of these exaltes cer-
tainly advocated, and tried to work for,
the independence of Armenia. But the
propaganda never gained favour in
ecclesiastical circles, nor ground among
the great mass of the Armenian popula-
tion in Turkey. Except in the vilayet
of Van, the Armenians no longer formed
the majority of the population. They
were too scattered throughout the empire
to have serious hope of winning independ-

Of Modern History 33

ence, such as the Greeks, Bulgarians,
Servians, and Rumanians had succeeded
in obtaining in the Balkan peninsula.'
In the 1909 massacre, I was on the
ground at the time, and studied these
charges. I demonstrated to my own
satisfaction (and to that of a number of
newspaper men, including Germans) the

* I do not mean by this statement to deny that the edu-
cated Armenians, just as every other people under the
yoke of another race, have not longed, in their most inti-
mate sentiments, for the day when national aspirations
would be realized. But, the Armenians are above all a
practical people, and they did not look for what they knew
was impossible of realization. In the correspondence
concerning Armenian people in the Chancelleries of the
Great Powers and in the archives of the Sublime Porte,
the question has always been to obtain reforms that would
secure for tJie A rmenians only those privileges and only that
measure of security and freedom, to which they had the right
as Ottoman subjects to aspire. In 19 13, the Powers, among
whom was Germany, proposed to the Turkish Government
a plan for reforms in Asia Minor, which was accepted and
decreed by Turkey, but which was not put into execution.
Up to the time of this terrible crime of the past few months,
the Armenians demanded, and were glad to have obtained
in Turkey, only those reforms that Turkey had agreed
herself to put into effect.


34 The Blackest Page

total lack of foundation of this charge
against the Armenians of Cilicia. Not one
Armenian out of a himdred had anything
to do with the revolutionary societies.
The lower classes were too ignorant to
be affected by such a propaganda. The
Armenian Church denounced the folly
of the visionaries. College professors
spoke and wrote against it. The wealthy
city classes frankly let the agitators know
that they were not only passively, but
also actively, opposed to the propaganda.
The Turks had nothing whatever to
fear from Armenian revolutionaries. They
knew this. More than that, they knew
just who the exaltes were. The Turkish
Government was well able to assure itself
that the propagandists were not to be
feared. If they had feared them, they
could easily have laid their hands on

Of Modern History 35

them any time they wanted to. In
Adana, the arrest of from thirty to forty
young men would have gathered into the
net all the agitators. Instead of that,
six thousand were massacred there, and
half the city burned. Then the Arme-
nian revolution was trumped up as an

The hideous miscarriage of justice of
the court martial after the Adana mas-
sacre was the beginning of the downfall
of the Young Turk regime. It was a
demonstration of the mockery of the
Young Turk assertion that the Ottoman
Empire was to be reconstructed on the
principles of Liberty, Equality, and Fra-
ternity. From that day to this, their every
act has given the lie to their profession.
I say hideous miscarriage of justice, be-
cause no element in the empire had wel-

36 The Blackest Page

corned more heartily the advent of the
constitutional regime, no element had
supported the Young Turks more loyally
than the Armenians. If they erred at all
during those first nine months of the
constitutional era, it was in showing so
openly — and so joyously — ^their touching
faith in the men of Salonika. They
accepted the revolution as sincere. Their
support of the new regime was sponta-
neous and enthusiastic. They believed
in the Young Turks — until they were
undeceived by the Young Turks them-

After the massacre had stopped, on
word from Constantinople ^ I heard a Young
Turk officer address the survivors in the
courtyard of the American Mission at
Tarsus. He assured them that the danger
was over, that it had been due to the

Of Modern History 37

counter-revolution of Abdul Hamid, and
that now they might feel assured that
Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity were
really theirs. He told the Armenians
that the Young Turks had suffered
equally with them, and that they had
been companions in misfortune. With
sublime faith, sublime even though stupid,
the bulk of the Armenians believed once
more. They accepted the explanation- of
the massacre, and continued to support
the Ottoman Government.

During the four years after Adana, I
spent most of my time in Constantinople,
and I was constantly with the leaders of
the Armenian race. Never once did I
hear an Armenian ecclesiastic or other
Armenian of weight and reputation speak

1 3

Online LibraryHerbert Adams GibbonsThe blackest page of modern history; events in Armenia in 1915, the facts and the responsibilities → online text (page 1 of 3)