The Turkish genocides
Translation into English by Henrik Ræder Clausen
Published by Foreningen Dansk Kultur, www.danskkultur.dk
Dedicated to the memory of those who suffered and died during these events.
This document is freely redistributable.
The day of the Armenians……………………………………………………………………………………………..3
The idea of establishing an Osmannic empire………………………………………………………………….6
The fate of Armenia……………………………………………………………………………………………………..6
The Sultan Abdul Mejid promise………………………………………………………………………………….10
The Macedonian Speech by Georg Brandes (1902)…………………………………………………………11
The massacre on the Bulgarian population…………………………………………………………………….12
Lecture by Georg Brandes in Berlin February 2nd 1903………………………………………………….13
The genocide against the Armenians, 1875-1876……………………………………………………………16
The genocides in the Osmannic Empire 1908-1918………………………………………………………..25
A change in Muslim practices………………………………………………………………………………………27
Where did the deported go?…………………………………………………………………………………………31
Eyewitness accounts of the massacres 1915-1918…………………………………………………………..32
The massacre on the Greeks 1923…………………………………………………………………………………38
The final elimination of the Greeks 1955………………………………………………………………………39
The day of the Armenians
April 24th marks the ‘Crystal night’ of the Armenians. This is the day when the government of Turkey initiated the genocide of the Armenians in East Anatolia. 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Turks in 1915 and 1916 in their attempt to destroy Armenia. Only in a smaller enclave in Caucasus did the Armenians survive, as well as in various pockets in the Middle East outside the reach of Turkey. But the Turkish state has since 1915 systematically lied to its people about this genocide. And the various international partners of Turkey have turned a blind eye in this matter. In some circles it has even become politically correct to ignore this.
In his speech in Obersalzberg on August 22nd 1939 Hitler told his army leaders with respect to the pending invasion of Poland: “Who today talks about the Armenians?” In other words, the brutality of the Germans would quickly be forgotten. And that would probably have been the case had the Germans won the war. A non-admitted crime becomes an incitement to others to commit similar acts, which we’ve seen both in the 40’s in Europe and in the 90’s in Africa.
When the Canadian parliament in 2004 declared that the Turkish killing of the Armenians in 1915 constituted genocide, the Turkish government sent a strong official protest to the Canadian parliament.
The Armenian day on April 24th should be turned into an official holocaust memorial day, and the Turkish genocide of the Armenians should be internationally recognized and condemned. It should no longer be permitted to let Turkey get away for free from their genocide on the Armenians. Turkey must be forced to publicly condemn the genocide on the Armenians in 1915, abroad as well as at home.
A fundamental problem here is that genocide is permissible according to Islam. In the Quran, Sura 4:91, is a recommendation of genocide on people who refuse to become Islamic. Turkey must also here be forced to distance itself from Islam.
Niels Erik Søndergård
Rasmus Rasks Allé 95
5250 Odense SV
‘Genocide’ is a concept that most people associate with the two large ideologies of the 20th century, communism and Nazism, who in termination camps, through hunger and deportations killed millions and millions of individuals. In particular the dreadful fate of the Jews comes to mind in the context of genocide. But others were also on the list of groups to be extinguished for their religiousness rather than their ethnicity. In the Soviet Union millions were killed for the sole reason that they were Christians. Of the originally 40.000 churches so many were closed or destroyed that at a time only 40 churches were active in the Soviet Union. And for Nazism, in particular Catholics were hated. In Poland alone, one third of the priests, monks and nuns were murdered. Even the Catholic bishop of Berlin was shot.
The third large ‘ism’, which stands behind a series of genocides of which few have ever heard, is Islam. Though being a religion, it is at the same time an extensive body of law and a system for society. With the institution of the Islamic caliphate and in the wake of the Islamic conquests, one people after another was destroyed. Genocide followed genocide, in particular at the conquest of Buddhist and Hinduistic areas, where millions were ruthlessly murdered. This booklet will restrain itself to the genocides that took place within the area of the Turkish caliphate in recent times, in particular the years 1875 through 1955. Here in particular the genocide of the Armenians stand out, also because of the inaction of the European countries. But also the genocides against the Macedonians, Bulgarians and Greeks will be covered.
The sources are chosen as broadly as possible: From Ernest Hemingway over Georg Brandes to the Danish heroine Karen Jeppe, who worked herself out for the dying Armenian people. Furthermore there are accounts from German, English and German consuls and officers, and a personal account of the atrocities a small Armenian girl endured during one of the Armenian death marches. The tale of the Armenian girl Serpouhi is in its simplicity and terror so grasping that it shows the vastness of the atrocities that took place.
My diligent research after broad sources led me to read horrors I had not thought possible. And I am not ashamed by stating that many tears were felled during the writing of this book.
The idea of establishing an Osmannic empire
Within the last 30 years waves of immigrants from Islamic countries have hits the shores of Europe. During this time Denmark alone has seen the establishing of a dozen organisations who wish to re-establish the Islamic empire, the Turkish caliphate, which ruled major parts of Europe, including Hungary, Crimea, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus and parts of Ukraine.
Today Berlin has a population of at least 250,000 Turks and has developed into a capital of many of the Turkish Islamic movements who wish to re-instate the caliphate. The share of Turkish fundamentalists grows rapidly in Europe, now with 3.5 million Turks in Germany and 100,000 in Denmark. That the number of particular radical fundamentalists grows can be seen in Denmark, where Mille Görüs under the name DMGT now has 46 branches in Denmark and, with the support of city councils in Helsingør and Århus, have started to work on a new mosque and a school respectively, where hatred against non-Muslims is groomed.
The movement “New Osmanners”, another Turkish-Islamic movement striving for the
rebuilding of the caliphate, have their European headquarters in Berlin and have just issued a folder with this contents, describing the construction of a new European Osmannic empire in accordance with the instructions of the Quran:
“The Osmannic Empire was an empire of believers, who achieved world domination. Their extensive tolerance and respect for their fellow humans are still today a role model and completely outstanding throughout all empires throughout the history of the world. It has never repressed or exterminated anyone. They even set others under their protection, respected them highly, and strived to learn everything good from them, without doing any harm themselves. They permitted the conquered people to keep their traditions in their secular and religious life, and even maintained the churches of the Christians. The Osmannic Empire applied the bidding of Allah in daily practice and did not distinguish between private faith and the public sphere. The sultan was not egoistic, as were the emperors of earlier times, but was without egoism only serving his people.”
“The Osmanners were Muslims. They practised the true Islam full of love and tolerance, full of respect for others, honour and many other good qualities, which in the democracies are completely lost. They respected Jews and Christians highly for being believers…”
Similarly, the information folder for “The New International Osmanners” reads:
“That Islam has not been propagated by sword and fire is a scientific realisation. An exodus caused by hunger and climatic changes in the Arabic peninsula is the cause of its spreading, absolutely no religious wars from the side of Islam. Capitalism and its democracies have the sole purpose to cover the problems, divert public attention, veil the truth and keep quiet about it. Democracy gives bad forces the opportunity to gain power, so that manipulation, corruption, egoism and crimes are expanding through politics and the entire society without any chance for the government to prevent it. In the Osmannic Empire things were completely different. We therefore with a new caliphate modelled on the virtues of the Osmannic Empire.”
Source: Central office for The New Osmanners in Europe, Bellermanstrasse 95, Berlin.
The fate of Armenia
After Muhammad from 622 AD onwards had conquered and extinguished one tribe after another, his successors, the caliphs, went after the neighbouring countries. As early as the 7th century the Arabs sacked Armenia for the first time. For long periods battles raged between the East Roman Empire and Islam for the control of this part of the world. The Muslim armies advanced bit by bit, and eventually the Armenians had no chances. After the conquest of Amorium in 781 AD, the caliph al-Mitasim ordered the prisoners to be auctioned away in bundles of 10, because there was so many of them.
By the sacking of Thessaloniki in 903 22,000 Christians were given to the Arabic officers or sold as slaves. In 1064 sultan Alp Arslan laid Georgia and Armenia bare, and thousands were summarily executed. Written sources from Palestine, Egypt, Armenia and Anatolia, where Christian areas had been conquered and colonized, tells us that Christians unable to pay the djizya tax to the Muslims instead were obligated to deliver their children. They could then deduct a certain amount from the poll tax. The idea was systematically developed during the time of sultan Orkan in 1326, so that the Christians in Armenia and on the Balkans routinely would deliver their children to the Muslims as a tax. In the 9th century the Armenian people desperately attempted to throw the Arab Islamic yoke. But the army of the caliph moved into the country, and a mass slaughter followed, which coloured the entire country red from blood. One Islamic ruled followed the other, until the Islamic Turkish caliphate took over in the 16th century.
The legal status of Christians and Jews in the Islamic caliphate was disastrous. Aage Meyer Benedictson describes it in detail:
The lot given Christian people under the rule of Islam was founded on the principle that the ‘herd’, as the Christians were called (they were thought of as animals), lived only at the mercy of the Muslims, the ‘herd’ had no inherent rights… The Christian subjects were slaves, who Allah in his grace had given to his victorious children. They owed the believers everything: property, for the sultan was master of all property, and their work. Furthermore they had to pay severe taxes, for the sultan was also the owner of their bodies.
Thousands of Christian boys at age 4 to 8 were taken from the Christian homes,
circumcised, shaved and through a raising in Islamic tradition were turned into a solid army, which for long periods was the most fearful weapon of Turkey. The Christians suffered the humiliation to be subdued by their own stolen children. No Christian had a right to carry weapons, they were to obey or die, and because their faith was false, so were their hearts. They were outside the law, their testimony to a judge was valid only if verified by a Muslim.
The most scary, though, was the ideology that Islam tried to impart on the Muslims, that disbelievers would never do a good deed. If they did so anyway, it was merely an expression of Allah working through an impure tool. A Christian was a disregarded serf. In his clothing he was to be different so that all could see that here comes an infidel. The Christians were to stop and wipe the shoes for every passing Muslim, if he so desired. A cloth for this purpose should always be carried by a Christian or a Jew … Christians were not permitted to ring bells. Their lives were a teaching in humiliation and submission. They worked, but had their enemies steal the fruits of their labour. (Meyer Benedictson s. 131-132)
In 1453 the Turkish caliphate had conquered the capital of the East Roman Empire, the Christian city of Constantinople, and thus removed the last bulwark against Islam. From that age the entire Balkans were in the hands of Islam from Armenia through Ukraine, Crimea, Hungary, Bosnia, Albania and Serbia. Violent campaigns into Poland, Austria and Germany all the way to Nuremberg shook the European continent who had been indifferent to the plight of the Armenians and of Constantinople, Until then it was thought in the European capitals that “The holy grave is well guarded.” Now they were themselves in the line of fire. Any option for rebellion or liberation for Armenia and the Balkans were more remote than ever. Bloodbath followed bloodbath. The Armenians and other Christians, like Jews who refused to become Muslims, tarry their lives in submission and poverty, a destiny they could only escape by themselves becoming Muslms.
The most violent killings of the Armenians took place in the years 1876 through 1918 in several great waves. The number killed and exterminated is still in disputed. Turkey claims today that those who died did so only because of rebellion against the state, and that the number was quite limited. In reality between 300,000 and 1 million were killed in the years between 1876 and 1903. In the years 1915 to 1918 systematic killings of another 1 million to 1½ million Armenians took place. The combined number exceeds 2 million.
Ingeborg Maria Sick writes in her excellent book about Karen Jeppe, who spent her entire life helping Armenian children, about the terrible deportations that took place in 1916, where the Islamic caliph ordered events so horrific that it exceeds ones imagination, even when you take into account the Nazi killings of the Jews 25 years later. “Who can bear to hear of children cut into pieces with the scissors of their mothers, or of men held captive witnessing the rape of their small daughters, and then cut apart before their eyes. No, we do not wish to think of this. But they suffered this.”
But that actually corresponds to episodes in the life of Muhammad himself. His adopted son was to punish a woman for theft. He then decapitates her grandchildren before her eyes, and has her torn apart by camels while her daughters witness it. Muhammad praises his adopted son and as appreciation of his efforts gives her the daughters as slaves, and a cane with a silvery head.
Ingeborg Maria Sick writes: “In Urfa, the Edessa of king Abgar, the killings raged for three terrible days – and the last night the Turks put the city’s Armenian population to the torch in the refuge they had sought in the cathedral of the city. A grand fire, raising to the skies as a recall of emperor Nero’s living torches in Rome.” (p. 15). In Germany the priest Johannes Lepsius and rev. Lohman started a large movement among Christians in support of the Armenian people. In France, the Catholics organised large relief efforts. There was also published the magazine “Pro Armenia” with notables as Jaurés and Clemenceau. Switzerland established an aid committee like Denmark and Norway.
The Danish efforts are mainly known through the tireless efforts of Karen Jeppe to help her beloved Armenia. The first great Armenian aid collection in Denmark was inspired by king George of Greece. It was directed by the Danish queen Louise and her lieutenant Hennings. In the wake of this in particular the Christian association “Kvindelige Missionsarbejdere” (“Women missionary workers”) made a great share of the work.
The deportations in Armenia were remarkable, as the entire Armenian population was to be eliminated, not only in Armenia itself, but in all towns from Mesopotamia through Mosul. The goal was clear: complete elimination. The coded telegrams from the Turkish minister of foreign affairs to the prefect of Aleppo, later smuggled to the west, were clear. We shall quote just two:
“On request of the Djmi (the Young Turks Committee for Progress) the government has decided to exterminate all Armenians in Turkey. Without concern for women, children, the ill, feelings or conscience, their existence shall now be put to an end.”
Later this cipher telegram:
“We have heard that some of the persons mentioned have been sent to Syria or Palestine. This is an unforgivable error. Their goal for them is only one: Nothingness”
What did the west do? Governments did almost nothing. It was left to minor church
organisations and individuals to take action. The European states had too much at stake, and how could you take part for one religion against another?
To the Police office of Aleppo!
It has earlier been announced, that the Government on behalf of the Committee has decided to completely exterminate all Armenians present in Turkey. Those opposing this command can no longer be considered friends of the government (meaning ‘traitors’). Without regard to women, children or the ill, however depressive the tools of destruction may seem, without consideration of feeling or conscience, their existence must be terminated.
Minister of internal affairs, Tala’at.
This amoral attitude lead to the governments remaining passive. Ingeborg Maria Sick asks in her book “Pigen fra Danmark” about Karen Jeppe:
“They let them die. Could we have done otherwise? Yes, shouldn’t we? Is Christianity a great moral power – or not? Did it stand up as one man, when the greatest political prosecution erupted, waking, praying, fight, fast with them over there? Christians suffered with them; first and last the faithful delegates, God be praised also from Denmark, and others who expended their power to ease the suffering of the martyr people.” (p. 18)
Some of those who were running children homes or in other ways attempted to provide help, paid with their lives. The punishment for hiding an Armenian was capital. On this account both Americans and Europeans were executed, but where was the outrage from the secular, supposedly humanitarian European governments? They were silent.
Already during the first major pogroms dating back to 1876 Europe was silent, and the only friend of the Christians in Caucasus was Russia. Many of the countries had suffering 400-500 years of Muslim occupation, murders and exploitation, but the European powers were busy tending their own matters or even go into alliance with the suppressors.
Kaiser Wilhelm II proclaimed towards the Muslim world that he secretly had converted to Islam, in the hope that Muslim troops would rebel against England. That was partly successful, in that Muslims contingents in India and areas of what was to become Pakistan declared jihad, in that a Muslim cannot be fighting under the sovereignty of an infidel Christian queen.
The Sultan Abdul Mejid promise
In the 19th century the Islamic empires and the caliphate were increasingly weakened, as they stiffened in poverty and corrupt suppression, all while Europe advanced economically, scientifically and eventually also religiously through a major Christian awakening towards the end of the century. Factories and churches were built everywhere. And people were hearing accounts of the horrible suppression suffered by the Christians in the countries under Islamic occupation.
Strong pressure from the Christian public caused the sultan, in order to win sympathy and support from the European governments, to in 1839 issue the Hatt-i-Sjerif declaration (“The Noble Parchment”), where the sultan promised all subjects in all his conquered territories, indiscriminately of race and religion, protection of life, honour and property. Thus the sultan initiated a string of promises of improving the situation for Christians and Jews. But for the Christians, these promises were worse than nothing.
The governments of Europe now leaned back and pointed out the extensive tolerance found in Islam. Only in the major cities, where European diplomats lived, there was a short ease of conditions for the Christians. In all other places, the conditions worsened. As written by Aage Meyer Benedictsen, the people of supremacy would never subject themselves to demands from those openly called “Infidel Christian dogs” (p. 158).
After the Crimean war, where the western powers protected Turkey and guaranteed its borders, meaning its conquests and submission of dozens of Christian people, the sultan further granted a promise to the western power in 1856: “Hatt i Humajun” (the Imperial Parchment), where he promised all his subjects civil rights. “As all religious confessions enjoy and also in the future shall enjoy freedom in all my countries, not a single of my subjects shall encounter hindrances to exercise the belief, he confesses in, and must not suffer the slightest pressure in this respect.” (Aage Meyer Benedictsen p. 159)
In order to not open up inwardly, they let their population know what the treaty signified internally by a public hanging of the Armenian Hovakoim, because he out of confidence in the promises from the treaty had reverted to Christianity after he and his family had been forced with violence to convert to Islam. As a further humiliation during the hanging a hat, symbolizing Europe, was attached to his dead body, implicitly signifying a hanging of infidel Europe. The new promise was not tested further by any other of the forced converts to Islam. But one could say that the sultan merely acted as a good Muslim by following the law of the Quran of capital punishment to those who leave Islam.
Now it was important to show the subdued Christian peoples who was the lord and who was the slave. The Greek war of liberation had shown, that the Christians were now prepared to fight for their freedom. They needed urgently to prevent this. Every time European governments inquired about the state of things, they were met from the Islamic side with understanding, friendliness and a proud reporting of the great freedom and tolerance which had always reigned in Islam. Most let themselves be appeased.
Thus sultan after sultan had the freedom to commit one genocide after another against the Serbs, Macedonians, Bulgarians, Greeks and the Armenians. In the following we will in particular look at the genocides against the Macedonians and the Bulgarians. The so-called Macedonian speech by Danish author Georg Brandes (1902), here quoted from “Collected works of Georg Brandes”, is an important document in this context.
The Macedonian Speech by Georg Brandes (1902)
“While the class struggle as a fight for bread rages in the highest civilized countries of Europe and America, the less civilized countries are at the onset of the 20th century in a state more usually associated with the Middle Ages, with daily humiliations and killings, arson, rape and every kind of torture. The horrors caused by Muslim Turkey in Macedonia, and the disgrace against the Jewish population in Romania are, day by day, becoming increasingly incriminating, but at the same time Europe, being witness to the extermination of the Armenians, become increasingly indifferent to what happens in Macedonia and Romania in front of everyone. (countries conquered by the Islamic Ottoman Empire and forcibly being assimilated into the caliphate, controlled by violence and subversion).
In the spring the Macedonian intelligentsia launched the French bi-weekly “Le Mouvement Macedonien”, which has reported the Turkish rule of horror week for week. Several times this magazine attached illustrations to the text, as in July the picture of Macedonian leaders hanged at the bid of the Turks, and in August the picture of Turkish military police who, standing with their sabres, proudly were photographed in Monastir with cut-off heads of captured Macedonians on a little table in front of them.
In parts of the European press there has been a trend, supported by the Turkish representatives, to portray the violence committed by regular and irregular Turkish
troops against the Christians as a retaliations for their criminal raids. Thus the desperate defence of the suppressed are depicted as provocations. The rebellious flocks, which currently cover Macedonia, are not formed by order of the revolutionary committees.
Some farmer, whose wife had been raped by the Muslims before his eyes while tied aback, or whose children had been subjected to hours of torture, or subjected to bastonade (beating under the feet) to the edge of death, collects a group of equally minded victims, who wish to take revenge. Some shepherd, whose flock they have abducted and who owns nothing but his gun, which he buried deep in the forest just in case, assembles a small selection of other desperates around him. More frequently yet a young teacher or doctor is persecuted by the Turkish police, escapes into the mountains, because he prefers death to the torture that awaits him in prison. Around him assembles a dozen others persecuted or threatened like
himself, young men who have been chained and whipped like everyone who fell in the hands of the Turkish Muslims.
Who can wonder about their savagery, when they escape the torture? Five farmers in the village of Eksjisu, and the teacher in Zelemitsje, Natsef, were after being whipped under their feet subjected to the torture that consists in the skull being squeezed with tongs until it squeaks. Then buried to their necks in garbage to remain in this state for three days, then hung up heads down. Two of them died thereof, the four others were taken to Monastir and escaped. Scenes like these take place literally on a daily basis all year round, all over Macedonia. When the magazine “The Macedonian Movement” in recent weeks not has been published, it is probably explainable by the country being completely ablaze. Through the Austrian magazine “Die Zeit” we are being kept updated on the most important matters in the Macedonian issue.
The first thing undertaken by Turkish troops when arriving to a Macedonian village is to demand the delivery of all weapons. If you are scared into delivering them, the soldiers start the pillage. Thus the unhappy population survives under a regime of terror. The battle between the soldiers and the guerrillas is conducted with a passion and disregard for danger unprecedented in military history.
In Kadion near Perlepe a small group of rebels were surprised by the Turks in an old tower. They defended themselves an entire day and part of the night, and when they had exhausted their supply of gunpowder killed themselves with potassium cyanide. When the Turks entered the tower at dawn, they found seven bodies. Leader of the group was Metodi Patsjef, a young teacher from Ukrida, lively, energetic, loud, known for being outspoken against the Muslim rule, and sentenced three years prison for murder, in spite of his innocence and the presence of an alibi. When he was released from prison, where he had met others innocently jailed like himself, he had only the single wish to take revenge on his executioners. He found death trying. Will the same happen to all other brave leaders against the Muslim occupation that happened to him? Will we see the Macedonians share the fate of the Armenians?”
No European popular movement was strong enough to make their governments interfere. While the population were taken by the dawning Christian awakening, the politicians were of a different kin. For them only cold calculations and realpolitik were taken into consideration. The political calculations won, and in particular the distrust towards Russia. Russia had repeatedly intervened with force to protect one Christian population after another, when the massacres became too violent, but the secularized European governments would not let religion influence them. They were worried that the Tsar and Russia would have too great influence over the Christians in the Balkans, in Greece and in Turkey. England and France repeatedly forced the Russian relief troops back with threats of interventions and talk of the good intentions of Turkey.
To what extent the political calculus was decisive can be seen from the British Bluebook-Turkey 1876, which is a reply from the British representative in Constantinople (Istanbul), Sir Henry Elliot, to the British minister of foreign affairs. His words reveal with no hesitation the terrible truth of the so-called civilized European policies. This Bluebook is written on the occasion of the indignation among the Christians in the British population after the killings in Bulgaria.
He writes: “We can and should feel enraged over the useless and dull hardness with which the Bulgarian liberation movement was crushed; but the forced position in which England finds itself, demanding to refrain from any changes detrimental to ourselves, must not let us influence by the question of how many lives were lost in Bulgaria; the terrible atrocities cannot be enough reason to give up our policies, which should rightly be followed out of regard to our welfare.”
It was this policy of closed eyes towards the transgressions of Islam, conquests and slaughters, that made possible for one genocide to follow another on European soil: Serbs, Jews, Greeks, Macedonians, Bulgarians, Armenians. And the same can be heard today, when apologists, being indifferent to the Islamic genocides, praise the openness and tolerance of Islam as well as the beauty of the Quran.
The massacre on the Bulgarian population
In 1876 an article about the massacres in Bulgaria reached the English through an article by the American journalist J. A. Mac Gahan, who was employed at The London Daily News. He had arrived to Istanbul (Constantinople) three months after the massacres and travelled on into Bulgaria to see with his own eyes what had taken place. The article presented to the English on August 7th 1876 was but a small selection of the terrible stories, which later became an entire book, and was to guide the journalist for the rest of his life. Here follows a short excerpt of his arrival to the Bulgarian city of Batak. The Christian population in Bosnia and Herzegovina had rebelled against the Islamic occupation forces. Soon also the Bulgarians got restless. The suppression had been too brutal. But the attempts of liberation lead to terrifying massacres.
Gahans description of his arrival to Batak goes as follows:
“I counted, while I was still sitting on the horse, about 100 craniums of women and children outside the city, all craniums completely cleaned by animals. We then entered the town. On both sides of the roads were heaps of skeletons amongst the ruins, or fully dressed where they had stumbled. It was skeletons of women and girls with shoulder-long brown hair. We reached the church. Here the ground was entirely covered by skeletons, craniums and rotting, dressed bodies. The stench was unbearable. Then I entered the graveyard. The entire graveyard was filled with bodies stacked one meter tall, only partly covered by earth. Everywhere small hands, feet and heads of children with the prettiest hair was peeking out. Inside the church matters were worse. On the floor was heaps of rotting, uncovered bodies. I had never experienced anything as shocking and terrifying. … In the school, which used to be a beautiful building, 200 women and children had been burned alive.
Everywhere in the city the same scenario repeated itself … The man who committed these atrocities – Achmed Aga – has now been promoted by the sultan and remains governor of this district. No crime committed by the Turks were ever punished or even prosecuted. The persons behind the terrible actions against the inhabitants of Batak were thinking they were preforming the work of Allah.” (Poul Fregosi s. 394) A Bulgarian Muslim fifth column unit had even assisted the Turks in massacring their own people.
The congress of Berlin in 1878, which was presided by Bismark and had participants from Russia, Austria, England, France, Italy and Turkey, forced the sultan to yield Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia freedom from Muslim occupation and suppression, which initially ended 500 years of violent Muslim colonization efforts, which however has been resumed during the last 20 years with the Islamisation of Kosovo, which includes destruction of almost all ancient churches through detonation, demolition or burning, and the expulsion of the original Serbian population.
Lecture by Georg Brandes in Berlin February 2nd 1903
This lecture was held after the two “lesser” genocides on the Armenians in 1876 and 1894-96 etc. up to 1900. The number killed in these years has been counted anywhere from 300.000 to a million, according to which author one refers to. Brandes had not experienced the genocides himself and had not travelled there, in contrast to for instance Karen Jeppe. His sources were mainly Aage Meyer Benedictsen as well as German and English articles.
“Even the rulers are today forced to take into consideration a strong and uniformly spoken opinion, and it is therefore important to shout, until such public opinion awakens in all countries. Bodies of dead children in the street, killed by adherents of “The Religion of Peace”. Not least in the German lands. They all know that the Turkish Armenia during the last decade has been a scene of such horrors that the established history of the world hardly reports anything similar even from the worst of times. Nobody had, before we experienced it, thought it possible that an entire population could be held subject to such extortions, torture and mass killings. The blood of hundreds of thousands is screaming to the heavens …
I know that Turkey is a power connected to Germany with bonds of friendship. … Raising the cause for the Armenians in the public opinion of Germany might now have decisive effect. If the Armenians had nothing going for them but their disasters, it would be impossible to reject their participation. They have suffered what can hardly be spoken, much less described, as the listeners would hold their hands over their ears. Merely stating that 300.000 lives have been lost makes merely a superficial impression, and does not trigger much imaginative power.
What use is for instance the message that in 1894 a three week long massacre took place in the villages around Musj, that men, women and children indifferently were cut down, that everywhere violence was committed against the women before they died, that you would give 200 or 300 women at a time to the soldiers for rape, before they were killed with bayonets or sabres!
What use is it to relate what a German traveller reports from the place: In Kendranz the kurds had given each other word to rape any woman aged 5 or above! Or to tell: In another place up to 60 young women and girls were locked into a small church, delivered to the soldiers for raping, and finally killed by them. Blood eventually streamed out through the church doors. To make an unforgettable impression, one needs to go into detail. That hundreds of thousands have been killed makes less of an impression that how they were killed individually. A woman fell to her knees and begged the soldiers to spare her life – in reality two lives. “Is it a boy or a girl?”, the soldiers shouted. And they bet seven medsjidie on a boy. “Now, let’s have a look!”, and cut open her stomach. The person relating this can relate all circumstances and the names of the witnesses. In another location the Kurds took as to if they were able to cut the heads of four children in one stroke, and settled the bet before the eyes of the mothers.
In Trebisund on the first day of the bloodbath an Armenian exited a bakery, where he had bought bread for his ill wife and his children. He was surprised by a raving band of Muslims. He begged for mercy. The pretended to accept not to harm him. He believes them and thanks them sincerely. But they were merely making jest. They tie his feet together. They chop off one hand and slaps his face with the bloody hand. They then chop off the other hand. Then they suggest him to make the sign of the cross, while others suggest him to shout louder, in order that his God may hear him. One cuts off his ears, first stuffs them into his mouth, then throw them in his face. Another shouts: “The mouth of the Effendi must be punished for rejecting such a delicious snack!” And they cut out his tongue. “Now he can no longer blaspheme.” One pops out one of his eyes. The terribly contracted face, the spasms of the poor body encourage these fanatics: they pop out the other eye and cuts off his feet, before they give him the final cut by a dagger stab in the throat.
(Many ladies are crying; others stand up, quite a few leave the hall.)
Later, in a report from the English consulate in Erserúm a scene is described from the village Semál, taking place before the bloodbath: The Armenian Azó had rejected turning in some of the best men in the place. The Muslim judge Talib Effendi and two Turkish captains let him be tortured a whole night. First he received bastonade (extended beating under the feet with sticks). Then they tied him naked with arms spread out to two ledges, and the whipping started. The unfortunate could not move a limb; the contractions in his face revealed his sufferings. The more he screamed, the more they beat him. He begged his executors to kill him. He tried to break his skull against the ledges. It was prevented.
When he still rejected to witness against his own, not wished to taint himself with innocent blood, Talib first let his beard tear out with tongs, then let his body be treated with glowing iron, burned him on his hands, in the face, the feet and on even more sensitive parts of the body. With a glowing tong his tongue was burned. Three times he fainted, but remained defiant. In the neighbouring room his wife and children, stiffened from fear, were forced to hear his suffering.
And then the imprisonment in Bitlis, for one, where the inmates, hobbled together by the hundreds, at times unable to either lie down or sit up in the horrible dirt, were also starved and subjected to torture. I know it and have felt it. You – my audience – have heard me with displeasure. You have pressed yourself to not shout at me: “Enough! Enough!”
I have noted that many ladies have left the hall. It has been gruesome to listen to this. I ask you to multiply the sufferings I have related to you by several hundred thousand and to consider what the ladies from Berlin could not stand hearing, the Armenians have suffered a hundred thousand times over.
This has taken place in our time, in the previous decade, four to five days of travel away from here – and we have let it happen, and have done nothing to prevent it. For a long time Europe was warned. The preparations for the murders in Sassún were so public that the English consulate in Erserúm in a long report requested protection for the Armenian people. England rejected to “interfere in the internal affairs of a friendly power.”. This is the eternal formula.
And this is the unheard: That though Europe is no longer ignorant, these atrocities continue. Even now Armenians are robbed of their freedom, property and cut down in scores. I could bring examples by the hundreds.
One example: On the 3rd of July 1900 five hundred Kurds surrounded the village Spaghánk. With bullets, sabres and bayonets they went to work. Women and children ran out to beg the soldiers for mercy. The smallest children were, still alive and screaming, lifted in the air on the bayonets; the women were undressed, abused and murdered. The village priest, an elderly of 80,had both sides of his mouth cut open and his jaws yanked out. The stomach of a pregnant woman Timene, married to the priests assistant, was cut open; the child cut into pieces and the woman killed, stabbed 50 times.
In 1878 the patriarch of the Armenian church, Nerses, send men with letters of empowerment to the congress in Berlin. And he had luck to make the congress develop article 61, which appears to ensure the future of the Armenians. This article, promises still unfulfilled, remains the hope any friend of the Armenian cause must cling to.
Europe appeared to have taken the suppressed under its protection. Unfortunately the participation was not meant in earnest. And the circumstance that the Armenians had dared to direct their petition to Europe further angered the bitterness against them in the Turkish government.
The Armenian institute in Constantinople (Istanbul) was closed, teaching Armenian history, assembling, holding parties, lectures etc. banned. The press was subjected to severe censorship. Imprisonment and persecutions increased in frequency. The Kurds were organized against the Armenians as cavalry regiments under the name Hamidiéh. The sultan provided these irregular troops his own name and he released them on their unfortunate neighbours to plunder them and beat them down. When the Armenians took up resistance, the government had an excuse to use mass torture and mass killings in order to eradicate the infidel, i.e. Christian, population.
At the congress in Berlin the Ottoman government had in article 61 obligated itself to enact the necessary reforms, guarantee the security of the Armenians, and to be held accountable therefore from time to time. The signatories were granted the right of surveillance of the implementation of these measures. In 15 years thereafter Turkey pacified the western powers by empty rhetoric.
And if Turkey then motivated itself to respond to the insisting notes from the English, Russian and French representatives by enacting a massive bloodbath, they were only encouraged to do so – admitted even by the eager and well informed patriot traveller Paul Rohrbach – because the excellent relationship with Germany made it possible for the Turkish government. Due to the lack of unity they were able to slip through and silence the Armenians by means of bayonets and lances, sharp sabres and glowing iron, rape and arson.
No one can deny that individual German women as well as men proved themselves helpful. German generosity has taken care of the orphans and helped raise them. Everyone also knows the speech of Eduard Bernstein, and it is known to all that a man like Lepsius, who tellingly lost his priest employment for this, has thrown in everything in order to relate to his fellow Germans the truth regarding the Armenians.
None the less, without the close relationship between the German empire and the Turkish government, the greatest political crime of the previous century would not have been possible. Therefore it is vital, not least in Germany, to create an opinion in support of the Armenian people.
In the most famous ancient Icelandic saga a woman throws the blood-soaked cape of his killed husband over a relative, who showed little inclination to take her part, in order to move him to take revenge of the dead. In this case nobody considers revenge. But if it were possible to throw the cape, stiff with the blood of the Armenian victims, on the shoulders of the German people, in order to move the German government to demand security and freedom for the survivors of the ancient and honourable Armenian tribe, this would be most useful.
(Collected works of Brandes, volume XVII)
The genocide against the Armenians, 1875-1876
In 1876 a new sultan ascended the throne as leader of the Islamic caliphate, the Osmannic Empire. Muhammed had in his time been prime minister, supreme judge and commander of the army, and he was followed by caliphs who had the same extensive power. The caliphate, which was founded in accordance with Islamic law, incorporated the most important of the areas conquered by Islam: Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Kurdistan, Greece and finally Constantinople, which had been renamed to Islambul. Furthermore, these areas behind Constantinople had also been conquered: Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Bosnia and Serbia.
Most of the conquered areas were entirely Christian countries, but the special Islamic law, which prevented Muslims to convert to Christianity, and meant that children of mixed marriages were forced to be Muslims, and the fact that conversion to Islam was mandatory for holders of public offices, caused the proportion of Christians to fall, while the Muslim increased. The special Islamic war tax, which Muslim countries could only be extracted from non-Muslims, had as a consequence that many felt themselves forced to become Muslims, if they were to survive difficult times.
Nevertheless, even at the ascent of Abdul Hamit as sultan in 1876, only 40 % of the population in Turkey itself were Turks. The Kurds were also Muslims, but even in the year 1900 9 million Christians lived in the area that constitute present-day Turkey. Today, a mere century later, only 50,000 remain. What happened to the rest?
Abdul Hamid wanted to strengthen the Muslim rule over the subdued populations in novel ways. Until then, Islam had decimated the number of Christians by forcing them to deliver their children to Muslims, and many Christian women were incorporated into Muslim harems through marriage. The novelty was to completely eradicate the Christian population. Among the subjects of the sultan the Armenians were the most diligent and successful. For more than a millennium they had survived Muslim persecutions and extermination attempts. Each time they arose anew and became thrifty traders with a culture where art and poetry were highly appreciated.
The tools used by sultan Abdul Hamit were the Turkish army and the Turkish police, and the Kurdish people, who are Muslims. He equipped the Kurds with modern rifles and gave them the relevant military skills. Serpouhi Tavoukdijan writes in his book “Expatriate” that in return for their weapons their task was to murder Armenians. They were given the right to rape Armenian women free of penalty and to look Armenian houses and shops belonging to the murdered.
In the beginning the Armenians put up some resistance, in spite of their almost complete lack of weapons. Then Abdul Hamid reinforced the Kurds with regular Turkish troops and let proclaim a “Holy war” against the infidels in the country. Endless killings of civilians broke lose, executed by Turkish army units and civilian Muslims. The killings took place in the eastern, western, northern and southern Turkey, everywhere Armenians were to be found. So many were murdered and starved “that the diligent defender of Islam had to admit, that the Armenians no longer could be of particular danger to the Ottoman state, at least not for the next generations time. He was forced to declare the holy war ended.” (Tavoukdjian, p. 18)
He was forced to do this as several countries, not least France, had been alerted to the systematic genocides taking place in the Islamic empire. The European countries had so far turned the blind eye to the genocide and the terrible oppression suffered by the Christian populations there. But the killings continued in remote areas.
In January 1896 a booklet was published in London with the title “The haunting Horror in Armenia” (subtitled: “Who will be damned for this?”) A black front page with bloody red letters covered this 64 page booklet, which was meant to alert the British to the events. The booklet describes the terrifying massacres in Turkey 1875-1876 and warns that equally terrifying events might be on their way. The booklet also provides statistics of Armenian massacres dating from September 30th to November 30th 1875. These are original Turkish statistics.
Here is stated that in Armenian cities hunger reduced the population by 75,000 and in villages the number was reduced by 350,000. On top of this comes the number of directly killed Armenians: In Armenian cities 20,000, villages 3,300. During less than one year a total of 2,500 villages were completely eliminated. A statistics of who executed the massacres is also provided.
In Constantinople only 172 were murdered. This was done by the police on the 30th of September. In Trebizunt the Turkish army killed 800 with assistance from civilian Turks. In Baiburt on October 13th 1000 Armenians were killed by Turkish civilians. In Bitlis on October 25th 900 were killed by soldiers and Kurdish Muslims. In Kara Hissar on October 25th 450 were murdered by Turkish military and Turkish and Kurdish civilians. In Erzerum on October 30th 800 were killed by civilian Turks and Turkish military. In Urfa on November 3rd 300 were killed. In Arabkir on November 6th 2000 were killed by Kurds and Turks. In Malatia on November 6th 250 were killed. In Haarpoot on November 11th 1000 were killed by Turkish soldiers and civilians Turks and Kurds. In Sivas on November 12th 1200 were killed by Turkish soldiers and civilians In Marsovan on November 15th 125 were killed by Turks. In Cesarea on November 30th 1000 were killed by Muslim Kirgisians and Turks.
The list is much more comprehensive, but the dates and the exact number of killed Armenians is lacking for many cities. The huge number who subsequently starved to death were victims of new laws forbidding Armenians to purchase food, which caused hunger and death, first among the Armenian population in the cities. The trade ban was total, all selling to and buying from Armenians was forbidden. The book relates that in Erzerum, after the relatively modest massacres of 800 killed, 5000 Armenians remained, who had no possibility to purchase even a single slice of bread.
As most Armenians lived in villages, a different tactic was applied here, namely the total destruction of the villages and every kind of Armenian agriculture and crops. The only persons permitted to buy food and survive were those who had converted to Islam. The message to destroy the Armenian villages was distributed through the mosques and passed on to the faithful muslims: “According to the Sunni-law, the killing and plunder of infidels is as much an act of worship and prayer.” (p. 51).
If the Armenians got any notion of what was about to happen, they went to the village leaders, who told them that they had nothing to fear, they were under protection. A few days later a common signal was given in the village, whereupon the Muslim neighbours and soldiers attacked the Armenians, looted, raped and murdered in a frenzy. After a few days of killing the surviving Armenians were ordered to dig mass graves, throw the bodies therein, and burn them in the same fashion the prophet in his days had mass graves dug out for the unarmed Jews in Medina.
The author continues to describe how surviving women and children after the example of Muhammad in Medina were distributed among Muslim men and became forced converts. (p. 51-52). The booklets adds a further warning: “It appears that the plan to exterminate and destroy Armenian villages, which turned out to be a huge success, will be applied to other minorities of the caliphate, and that already now a regime of terror is ruling Constantinople (Istanbul) (p. 52). The booklet, authored by W. T. Staed, was intended to warn England against the horrors still to come from Muslim side against non-Muslim minorities in the conquered territories, and was therefore printed in large stocks and sold at only 1 Shilling apiece. But it became known only in Christian circles. The rulers and people in power turned the deaf ear to it and thereby became accomplices to some of the worst genocide in the history of mankind.
The Sultan Abd-Ul-Hamid massacre 1895-96
The genocides of sultan Abd-Ul-Hamid were ordered from the highest place, the sultan himself, with active participation from the entire Islamic clergy and thousands of imams. Most of the large massacres had so far taken place in the outskirts of Persia and Mesopotamia, but the new sultan decided that the battle against the Christians should take place at the heart of the empire. The original population should be eliminated for good, and Turkey, originally a Christian country, should now become purely Islamic.
Islamic law commands that people and religions conquered by Muslims must be exterminated if they do not belong to the three protected groups: Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians. Therefore Buddhists and Hindus were killed without mercy wherever Islamic armies conquered new territories. A Buddhist and a Hindu had the choice of converting to Islam or be killed. Now sultan Abd-Ul-Hamid applied the same rule to Christians inside the empire: Either become Muslims or die.
The killings were initiated in the summer of 1894 in the city of Sussan, where 1200 Christians were killed, men, women and children. They were, however, not given the opportunity to become Muslims. Furthermore some Christian women were taken as plunder, that is, slaves for the sexual use of Muslim men.
Initially the sultan disguised the killings by increasing the tax on infidelity to prohibitively high levels. When the citizens were unable to pay, the sultan as punishment gave the Muslim Kurdish neighbours freedom to kill Christians in the area, and as a reward take over the houses and lands of the infidels, in accordance with the promises of the Quran that the faithful may take over the lands of the infidels. This order was subsequently extended to one village after another. If any village chose to defend itself, the Turkish army would attack them with cannons. The first order from the sultan to the Kurdish Muslims went as follows: “Take from the Christian dogs what you desire.”
When the killings became known, England demanded to know what was going on, and demanded inspectors placed in Constantinople. But the sultan denied all demands and used his right to ‘taqiyia’, that is lying towards infidels for the good of Islam: He denied all guilt and told that all the stories were only due to rumours and slander initiated by the Armenians against Islam.
Using his best acting skills, the sultan pretended to be deeply insulted by the English accusations and demands, and took contact to the pope in Rome requesting protection of the innocent (himself!). (Aage Meyer Benedictsen p. 2) While the west was conducting polite diplomacy and the sultan calmed the European worries, he simultaneously prepared for the final showdown with the “Armenian slanderers and hate preachers”. The first demand was for all Christians to hand over their weapons. Which were subsequently distributed to their Muslim neighbours! “
All was now prepared, and the time came around. It is clear that the killings were perceived by the general public as the will of the sultan. It was also obvious that they were executed according to minutely executed and guided plans, that they started and stopped on cue. And it is clear that not a single of the murderers or rapists ever were punished, and that leading civil servants were rewarded and promoted for their participation, while the reluctant were removed or punished. This was no spontaneous outbreak of fanaticism or public rage.” (Aage Meyer Benedictsen p. 193)
Trumpets blowing or the muezzin calling to prayer from the minarets initiated the genocide in each location, and trumpets sounding from the mosques ended each round of killings. Care was taken not to kill Europeans, as that would cause problems. The population was killed and their The Armenian Katholichos Mekrtitj Crimean “Hajrik” property divided; this was used as a lure to intensify the killings. The killings were undertaken with such discipline that a single gesture from an unarmed gendarme could keep the murderous mob away from American property.
The overture to the killings took place in Constantinople on September 30th 1895 and continued in Trapezunt, where the Armenians were driven out to be thrown in the sea and drowned. This procedure continued in the cities Erzingian, Baibuart, Bitlis, Erzerum, Arabkir, Diabekir, Malatia, Kharput and Sivar, and culminated in the terrible Christmas killings in Urfa 1895.
At Christmas the entire Armenian population of Urfa was rounded up and locked into the Christian cathedral, which was then set on fire. 1200 burned to death. Later killings took place in Constantinople and in Van in 1896. The written orders in the city of Arabkir is typical for the orders preceding the killings:
“All who are children of Muhammad, must now perform their duty and kill all Armenians, plunder their houses and burn them. Not a single Armenian must be spared!” Thus was the order of the sultan. “Those who do not obey this are to be considered Armenians themselves, and killed. Therefore every Muslim must show his obedience to the government and Islam by first killing the Christians, who lived in friendship with him!” (Meyer Benedictsen p. 195-196)
The supreme military leader of Anatolia in Erzingian distributed this command with an additional remark: “Kill the pigs.” The mob, who were incited to the killings and confiscating their property was protected by regular units of the Turkish army, who immediately opened fire if the Christians sought to defend themselves. They would either use cannons against the housing areas or merely watch passively.
“Left behind in the disgraced, destroyed homes sat the women and children among the bleeding bodies of their kin, themselves stiff from horror. In some places also the women were killed, but in most places the victors merely subjected them to abuse, rape and looting, and numerous flocks of orphans would wander about. The Armenian killings were initiated by the Turkish administration in order to gain the understanding and support of the Muslim population! (Meyer Benedictsen p. 195-196)
The intention was to use terror to drive as many as possible to Islam. That was the essence of the Abd-ul-Hamid plan. Therefore all men had to be murdered. Women could pass as slaves in Muslim homes, and children raised to be Muslims by killing their parents. This brought the caliph closer to his goal, the complete elimination of the original Christian population, whose country the Turks had occupied. The Turkish authorities in several instances gave the Christian population hits that by circumcision and conversion to Islam they would avoid death, “for this is the will of Allah and the prophet!”, it was said.
With high-strung forced ceremonies and circumcision of hundreds of Christians it was confirmed that they wanted to avoid death. At the same time it was made clear that those who did not follow suit could expect a terrible death. In particular in the provinces of Sivas, Bitlis, Van and Diabekir villages of forced conversions could be counted by the hundreds.
In 60 villages in the province of Karput not a single priest was left alive, not a single church remained. 568 churches in this area were levelled, while another 282 were converted to mosques. In a total of 559 villages those Armenians who survived the massacres were forced to convert to Islam. After the massacres all crucifixes were broken in public, the holy Bible spatted upon, its papers torn out and used for toilet paper.
An example shows what would take place if one would not forsake ones faith. In Biredjik, where 240 families who refused to become Muslims were destroyed, one old man was made an example of what would happen to the Christians who refused to become Muslims. When he refused to swear off Christ, he had his clothes torn off and was placed on burning charcoal. While he was writhing in agony, the Bible was held before his eyes and he was told to find some prophecies in the Bible worth trusting. Then he was nailed to planks. It happened several times that the instructions in the Quran to crucify the infidels was carried out. Then they shouted at him: “Call upon England! Call upon your Christ! Let him take you down!”
The worst fate awaited the leading Christian Armenians: teachers, doctors and priests. First they were arrested, then subjected to terrifying torture. Their hair was scorched with fire, the remaining hair and nails pulled out with tongs. They were then hanged for hours head down, while the executioners burned holes in their bodies with glowing rods. Often their wives and children were forced to watch the gruesome torture.
As the atrocities continued, more and more Armenians sought to defend themselves. As they had no weapons it was difficult, but in Zeitun in Kilikia seven Armenian villages defended themselves along with four Turkmenian. These villages were like birds nests on the sides of mountains. 10,000 inhabitants here resisted the attacks of 60,000 Turkish soldiers from November 1895 through February 1896. The population of Zeitun was spared after interference from the English Consul.
But what else did Europe do during this?
Nothing. They preferred to maintain friendly relations with Turkey and the sultan. The
words of the sultan that it was just a set of unfriendly rumours against Islam were believed! “Islam is a religion of peace!” It was repeated over and over. This soon caused trouble for the sultan, for how to exterminate the Armenians in Constantinople, where the European diplomats were located?
The opportunity came in 1896. In order to attract European attention and help, 20 young Armenians occupied a bank and threatened to blow up the building, unless the Europeans helped them avoid total annihilation. They miscalculated. The sultan issued a statement declaring that Armenians were now attacking Turks everywhere, and that strict punishment was due.
Next day the systematic cleansing of the Armenians commenced. Quarter for quarter they were taken away and murdered. Thousands were beaten to death with clubs and iron rods. Long rows of horse charts were lined up to drive the heaps of bodies away from the streets. The killings lasted two days and stopped as suddenly as they had started. In these two days 6000-7000 Armenians were killed in the city, while the European press declared their understanding for the need of the Turks to defend themselves! In Germany, though, Dr. Johannes Lepsius in his book “Eine Anklage” (An Accusation) systematically documented the genocide through eyewitness accounts. But nothing happened.