I have often been impressed with the hopelessness of making people who have not been eye-witnesses, comprehend the dreadful character of the massacres which were carried on by the Turks against the Christian population of the Orient. I have never been able to describe sights that I have witnessed in such manner as to make my listeners actually see and understand. It frequently happens that people, sitting in their comfortable houses, lay aside an article or book on the subject, with the remark: “We are fed up on Armenian atrocities.”
Here is another strong point of the Turk’s position: he has killed so many human beings and over so long a period of time that people are tired of hearing about it. He can, therefore, continue without interference.
In Doctor Elliott’s “Beginning Again at Ararat”, gives the following story of a young girl, heard in the rescue home in Turkey, of which she was in charge:
“I was twelve years old, I was with my mother. They drove us with whips and we had no water. It was very hot and many of us died because there was no water. They drove us with whips, I do not know how many days and nights and weeks, until we came to the Arabian Desert. My sisters and the little baby died on the way. We went to a town, I do not know its name. The streets were full of dead, all cut to pieces. They drove us over them. I kept dreaming about that. We came to a place on the Desert, a hollow place in the sand, with hills all around it. There were thousands of us there, many, many thousands, all women and girl children. They herded us like sheep into the hollow. Then it was dark and we heard firing all around. We said, “The killing has begun.” All night we waited for them, my mother and I, we waited for them to reach us. But they did not come, and in the morning, when we looked around, no one was killed. No one was killed at all. They had not been killing us. They had been signaling to the wild tribes that we were there. The Kurds came later in the morning, in the daylight; the Kurds and many other kinds of men from the Desert; they came over the hills and rode down and began killing us. All day long they were killing; you see, there were so many of us. All they did not think they could sell, they killed. They kept on killing all night and in the morning—in the morning they killed my mother.”
This quotation is given because it condenses in a few vivid and convincing words the clearest description that has appeared anywhere of the character of the Turkish “deportations” of the Armenians. All the official documents and the testimony of a host of American, German and other eye-witnesses corroborate the accuracy of this picture.
In the report of the Military Mission to Armenia, commonly known as the “Harbord Mission,” published by the American Association for International Conciliation, in June, 1920, is to be found the following passage:
“Meanwhile there have been organized official massacres of the Armenians ordered every few years since Abdul Hamid ascended the throne. In 1895, one hundred thousand perished. At Van, in 1908, and at Adana and elsewhere in Cilicia in 1909, over thirty thousand were murdered. The last and greatest of these tragedies was in 1915. Massacres and deportations were organized in the spring of 1915, under a definite system, the soldiers going from town to town. Young men were first summoned to the government building in each village and then marched out and killed. The women, the old men and the children were, after a few days, deported to what Talaat Pasha called “Agricultural Colonies,” from the high, breeze-swept plateaus of Armenia to the malarial flats of the Euphrates and the burning sands of Syria and Arabia. The dead, from this wholesale attempt on the race, are variously estimated at from five hundred thousand to a million, the usual figure being about eight hundred thousand. Driven on foot under a hot sun, robbed of their clothing and such petty articles as they carried, prodded by bayonets if they lagged, starvation, typhus, and dysentery left thousands dead by the trail side, etc., etc.”
I have in my possession another report of a credible European who witnessed the destruction of the Armenians at Aleppo and elsewhere, which gives many details similar to those found in the memorandum of Mr. Geddes, but I refrain from offering it here for fear of wearying the readers. In view of the difficulty of producing the testimony of eye-witnesses, and as this report has never been published, it is a valuable historical document. Enough has been said, however, to convince the reader that the extermination of the Christians of Turkey was an organized butchery, carried out on a great scale, and well under way before the Greeks were sent to Smyrna. We have seen it in operation in the days of Abdul Hamid, “the butcher,” we have seen it more fully developed and better organized under Talaat and Enver, those statesmen of the “Constitution.” We shall behold it carried out to its dire finish by Mustapha Khemal, the “George Washington” of Turkey.
This part of the story would not be complete if I passed over in silence the systematic extermination, and the satiating of all the lowest passions of man or beast which characterize Turkish massacres of the Greeks and Armenians of the Pontus. There have been, from time to time, descriptions of the massing of bands of these wretched people at different points on the shores of the Black Sea where they had arrived after long journeys on foot and indescribable hardships, and of the relief given them by American organizations. Often officers of these organizations, or American missionaries, have uttered cries of protest, which have caused a momentary feeling of wonder in the minds of the American people, or have passed unheeded. Yet the systematic massacre, deportation, plundering and violation that went on among the Christians of once prosperous region of the Black Sea is one darkest and foulest pages even in Turkish history.
The flourishing communities of Amasia, Caesaria, Trebizonde, Chaldes, Rhodopolis, Colonia, centers of Greek civilization for many hundreds of years have been practically annihilated in a persistent campaign of massacre, hanging, deportation, fire and rape. The victims amount to hundreds of thousands, bringing the sum total of exterminated Armenians and Greeks in the whole of the old Roman province of Asia up to the grand total of one million, five hundred thousand. Thus has been created that “regenerated” Turkey, which has been compared in some quarters to Switzerland and the United States.