TURKEY AND THE ARMENIAN ATROCITIES
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MASSACRES AT TREBIZOND AND ERZRUM.
Importance and General Prosperity of Both Cities — Threats by the Turks — Terror Among; the Armenians — Suddenness of the Attacks — Murder and Pillage by Regular Soldiers, Under the Eye of Foreign Consuls — Ferocity of the Turks — Testimony of Eye-Witnesses — Terrible Scenes at the Burial of the Victims.
The city of Trebizond is one of the most beautifully situated in the Turkish Empire. On the eastern end of the Black Sea, occupying the southern slope of a picturesque range of mountains, which extends all the way from Constantinople to the Persian border, it has been since the time of Xenophon one of the most important places of the region. For centuries it was the starting-point of caravans to Persia, and all the Persian trade passed through its harbor, notwithstanding that that scarcely deserved the name, being little more than an open roadstead. The city itself has grown far beyond the original bounds, and there has seemed to be less of that fear which compelled the crowding together of the houses. Up the valleys of the mountains, and along the coast on either side, there extend gardens and vineyards, with many pleasant residences. Its population of about 45,000 is divided between Turks, Armenians and Greeks, the Turks being in a bare majority, and the Armenians somewhat outnumbering the Greeks. There are also consular representatives of the principal European countries, as well as of the United States. Up till within a few years trade has been brisk and the people acquired a reputation throughout the
[page 407] COMMERCIAL INFLUENCE
East for shrewdness of dealing. After the treaty of Berlin, and the occupation of Batum by the Russians, considerable trade that had formerly passed through Trebizond was diverted to Batum, and the wagons of the Circassians took the place of the mule and horse caravans of the overland route by way of Erzrum and Van. An effort was made to relieve the situation by the building of a very good carriage road over the mountain, south to Erzrum, a distance of about 180 miles. But the increasing disturbances in the region of Van, and over the mountains to Khoi and Tabriz proved more than an offset for the building of the road, and trade once diverted could to only a limited degree be brought back again into the old channel. Thus Trebizond has lost not a little of its importance. It is still, however, a city of considerable influence and its people are looked upon with more or less suspicion by the Turkish Government. Its proximity to Russia brought it within reach of the Russian Armenian agitators, and although the general tone of the Armenian community was thoroughly conservative there was sufficient noise made to create an impression of disturbance. The events in Constantinople narrated in the previous chapter created excitement all over the empire, and it was natural that in Trebizond the feeling should be quite intense.
About October 2d, two days after the disturbance in Constantinople, an Armenian, supposed to be a revolutionist, made a personal attack upon Bahri Pasha, the former governor of Van, who had been dismissed in consequence of the pressure brought to bear by the English Government after the disturbances at Sassun. It was said that the attack was purely a personal matter, the man seeking vengeance for injustice done to himself and his family in the city of Van, The
[page 408] DISTURBANCE.
Turks, however, took for granted that it was another move in the same line as that at Constantinople and the disturbances early in the year at Marsovan. Coincident with this was the arrival of the news from Constantinople and the excitement on every hand was greatly increased. The Turks seemed to believe that all the Armenians were banded together and in armed rebellion against the government, represented that they were afraid of an attack from the Armenians, and even in some cases took measures to put their families in places of safety.
On Friday night, October 4th, there were extensive movements of armed men on the streets. At about 11 o’clock they seemed to disperse and nothing specially worthy of mention occurred through the night. On Saturday night, Oct. 5th, the excitement in town was very intense. The European Consuls had a consultation and going in a body to the governor, earnestly pressed him to arrest those who were exciting the people to acts of outrage. This he declined to do, but promised in his own way to do the right thing. Until Monday, Oct. 7th, matters seemed to be quieting down when an incident stirred up the excitement anew. On the previous Friday night, the son of a leading Turk of the town was wounded on the street, some say by one of his companions, others that he was shot by an Armenian whom he was trying to arrest. On Monday he died and the funeral revived the excitement in an intensified form, and loud and many were the threats of massacre that night, and hundreds of the Armenians rushed to places of safety. Nothing occurred, perhaps, on account of rain. The next morning, October 8th, all dispersed in the hope that the danger was past. Men went to their shops, and were encouraged to open them
[page 409] INHUMAN BUTCHERIES.
as they had not done for two or three previous days. Suddenly, like a clap of thunder in a clear sky, the blow fell at about 11 A. M., Oct. 8th. Unsuspecting people walking along the streets were shot ruthlessly down. Men standing or sitting quietly at their shop doors were instantly dropped with a bullet through their heads or hearts. Their aim was deadly and there were few, if any, wounded men. Some were slashed with swords until life was extinct. They passed through the quarters where only old men, women and children remained, killing the men and large boys, generally permitting the women and younger children to live. For five hours this horrid work of inhuman butchery went on, the cracking of musketry, sometimes like a volley from a platoon of soldiers, but more often single shots from near and distant points, the crashing in of doors, and the thud, thud, of sword blows sounded on the ear.
Then the sound of musketry died away and the work of looting began. Every shop of an Armenian in the market was gutted, and the victors in this cowardly and brutal war loaded themselves with the spoils. For hours bales of broadcloth, cotton goods and every conceivable kind of merchandise passed along without molestation to the houses of the spoilers. The intention evidently was to impoverish, and as near as possible to blot out the Armenians of the city. So far as appearances went the police and soldiers distinctly aided in this savage work. They were mingled with the armed men, and so far as could be seen, made not the least effort to check them. Apparently they took care to see that the right ones — that is, Armenians, were killed; also that an offer of surrender might be made to all that were found unarmed. To any found with arms no quarter was given, but large numbers were shot
[page 410] MASSACRES SPREADING TO VILLAGES.
down without any proffer of this kind. This talk of surrender would seem to be on the supposition that all were in an attitude of resistance. One poor fellow when called on to surrender, thought he was called on to give up his religion, and when he refused he was hacked to pieces in the presence of his wife and children. The next day the city was in a great stir because news had come that the village Armenians, thoroughly armed, were on their way to attack the town. The real fact, however, seemed to be that the massacre was extending to the villages, though the constant effort was to show that this affair was only the quelling of an insurrection — like Sassun. Not one of the perpetrators of these outrages was arrested or disarmed, but all moved about with the utmost freedom to accomplish their nefarious purposes. On the other hand many of the Armenians were in prison.
The following account of the experience of an agent of the American Bible Society, who had been in the service for many years, and was a most valued man, will give an idea of the situation.
Krikor was at the government building, getting his passport to return, when the massacre began. He was with three others, and when the soldiers endeavored to put them out into the street, he refused to go, showing his special passport from Constantinople as a reason why he should not go. Two of his companions were instantly killed; the third was saved by Greeks who hid him two days in a trough of bread. But Krikor was able to delay a little by showing his passport. He then remonstrated with the guard, giving him at the same time a lira ($4.40). This did not conquer the guard, who still continued to threaten him. But a second lira was more effective, and Krikor remained He demanded to see the
[page 411] KRIKOR’S THRILLING EXPERIENCE.
Pasha, but was told he was busy at the telegraph office, where, in fact,
he remained in constant communication with Constantinople during the entire
Another guard ordered him off, and was bought off like the first, but he took Krikor into the court near the prison. Here were soldiers who were threatening him when a Turk appeared who, though he did not know him, was influenced by mercy and immediately took charge of him. This Turk, an official in the prison, went with him to the “ Bekje,” a doorkeeper, saying to him, “ This man is a friend of mine, a Turk, but he resembles an Armenian so much that he is afraid to go on the street lest he may be killed; you look after him.” This the “ Bekje” did, and although through the afternoon many Turks came and glared at him, he was unmolested. Finally a clerk who knew him came by and said, “ This is an infidel; why do you allow him to remain here?” Krikor had presence of mind to say, “ No, it is you who are an infidel; get out of here,” and the man slunk away. After dusk the friendly Turk came again to him, and took him into the prison, where he found a number of other Armenians, most of them officials in the Government House. Here he guarded them for two days — false alarms of death coming often, keeping them in constant fear.
Finally, at night, the friendly Turk came in and took him out with him, going by a roundabout way to Mr. Parmelee’s house, where he was safe under the American flag. Here he remained with some 150 others, for 10 days. At last his Turkish friend succeeded in getting him a passport to return to Constantinople, and when he first reached home he could not speak a word for joy. Some of the richest Armenians in Trebizond reached Constantinople in rags and poverty — so
[page 412] MASSACRE AT BAIBURT.
wretched that even their own friends did not recognize them at first.
From Trebizond the wave of excitement spread southward, following the line of the road to Erzrum. The first place reached was the city of Gumushkhane, famous for the silver mines from which it received its name, and which furnished the ore for the silversmiths of Trebizond and Constantinople. As in most mining districts the population was turbulent, and easily aroused. Details of the strife are wanting, at least such as furnish the basis of a reliable statement, but in general it is known that the Christian quarter of the city was practically destroyed.
From Gumushkhan the tide swept on to Baiburt, a thriving city of perhaps 15,000 inhabitants, Turks and Armenians. At Baiburt the road to Erzingan, the military headquarters for the whole region, branches off from that to Erzrum, and another gathers the trade of the Valley of Chorok. The Faiburt Armenians were noted for their intense national feeling and a vigor of character that frequently held the Turks in check. They were also regarded as among the shrewdest and most unscrupulous of their race. It was therefore to be expected that the Turks should take advantage of the general excitement to put down the men whom they hated and feared. The outbreak at Gumushkhane had occurred three days after the massacre at Trebizond, and two days later still the blow fell upon Baiburt. Here again there are few details available, but the Constantinople correspondent of the London Times, who had the best sources of information, estimated the number of killed at 1,000.
After the disturbances at Trebizond and these two places, all eyes turned to Erzrum, about eighty miles southeast of
[page 413 - illustration]
[caption] Lord Ashbourne. Marquis of Lansdowne. Lord James. Sir M. W. Ridley. Mr. Chaplin. Lord Balfour. C. T. Ritchie. A. J. Balfour. Lord Halsbury. . M. H. Beach. Mr. Goschen. Joseph Chamberlain. Lord Hamilton. Duke of Devonshire. Lord Cross. Earl Cadogan. Lord Salisbury. COUNCIL OF THE GOVERNMENT OF GREAT BRITAIN REGARDING THE ARMENIAN QUESTION.
[page 414 - illustration]
[caption] SQUARE OF THE ATMEIDAN AND MOSQUE OF ST. SOPHIA, IN CONSTANTINOPLE. On the left is an obelisk from Luxor, Egypt, and on the right is the column of serpents whose three heads formed the tripod in which the priestess sat who uttered the famous oracles in Delphi, Greece. The mosque is the most interesting building in Constantinople, famous for its mosaics and pillars, many of which came from the temple of Diana at Ephesus.
[page 415] ERZRUM
Baiburt. The city of Erzrum has been throughout the rule of the Turks the most important and influential city of Eastern Turkey. It has been a trade center, being the meeting-place of the various routes from the eastern end of the Black Sea to Persia, Bagdad and Central Asia Minor. It has also been the seat of the Governor-General of the Province, though the largest military force is at Erzingan, about ninety miles west, largely on account of the necessity of keeping the mountainous section occupied by the Dersim Kurds in order. It was thus the seat of consulates of the different European Powers interested in Eastern Turkey, chiefly England, Russia and France. Situated on a high plateau about 6,000 feet above the sea and surrounded by high mountains, the climate is very severe and the winters’ cold and summers’ heat are intense. Its proximity to the Russian border has made it the object of attack in the different Russo-Turkish wars and twice, in 1829 and 1878, it fell into Russian hands, being released only by special treaty stipulations. In the Crimean war it was saved by General Williams’s heroic defense of Kars. Of its population, estimated at 40,000, the Turks formed the great majority, though the Armenian community was strong, both in numbers, wealth and character.
Next to Van, Erzrum has been looked upon by the Armenians as belonging peculiarly to them, and as was natural the revolutionary party sought to exert their influence in it. That they so signally failed is but another proof of the inherent weakness of the movement and the general conservatism of the nation in regard to aggressive action against the Turkish Government. There was, however, much anxiety, and the tension of feeling between the two races had increased greatly. Only a spark was needed to start the Turks, while
[page 416] DISTURBANCES AT ERZRUM.
some Armenians were doubtless ready to begin, though in a city where they number 10,000 and the Mussulmans 30,000, including a large number of soldiers, it was sure to turn against the 10,000, who were, besides, almost all unarmed. For some days the Turks had been threatening to kill the Christians. Heroes from the Trebizond massacre, from the pillaging at Baiburt, from Erzingan and Kemakh, and from other places had come to Erzrum as the most likely place for another similar game. These men had boasted how much they had got, and all had the gold fever.
The time had been set several times, but nothing had been done and the Armenians had been induced to think that much of the threatening was mere words. The police patrol was very strong and apparently every means was used to preserve peace. Consequently the Armenians were all in their places when suddenly, shortly after noon on Wednesday, October 30th, the cry was raised, “ They have commenced firing in the market.”
A mob of Turks including many soldiers was seen running towards the market, firing right and left into the houses, from a few of which the fire was returned. The resident American missionary, Mr. Chambers, had been to the post-office to send a telegram to Bitlis to the Americans to say that all was right in Erzrum, and to inquire how they were. On his way back through the long, straggling market he noticed a general uneasiness. Then he passed an Armenian who was running from one shop to the other telling his brethren to close their shops and run, for the firing would soon commence. But he had heard such words as these so many times that he paid no particular attention to them. Farther down in the markets he saw some shops already closed and some being locked
[page 417] TURKISH OUTRAGES.
up as he passed. But this had been done before, and several merchants had moved a large part, of their best goods up to the mission building to be stored, until every corner was full. He passed on, walking rapidly, and before the Archbishop’s house he saw a certain Murad having some trouble with a young and excited Turk. Evidently Murad had just taken away a dagger from him and given it back after some words. Mr. Chambers overheard an Armenian say, “ He’s given it back to him.” This Murad, it was said on very good authority, had killed a number of Christians in the riots of 1890 in Erzrum. He was a police officer who watched every stranger that came to Erzrum; but on this occasion he behaved well, for in his quarter, which was thronged with Armenian shops, the mob was unable to commit any violence.
Mr. Chambers walked on for five minutes from the spot where he had seen Murad, when he heard shots behind him. The people began to run, and he followed suit. Some friends told him afterward that the Turks had fired at him, but he did not know whether it was the mob or the soldiers. He met one of the patrols of 20 soldiers, under command of an officer, who were supposed to keep the peace. These men had drawn their revolvers and were shooting right and left down the street and into the windows. The bullets whistled unpleasantly near to Mr. Chambers, who walked on until he was safe at his home in the mission building. All this time a perfect fusilade was going on, mostly in the direction of the bazaar. In the extreme western part of the city a large fire had broken out, the smoke of which drifted across the large barracks that are situated in that part of the city. There seven Armenians resisted the attack of the soldiers, who fired on them, riddled
[page 418] DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY.
the house with bullets, and then set fire to it, and it continued to burn for 20 hours.
The attack was simultaneous on different sections of the city where Armenians resided. Whenever an Armenian appeared and the soldiers (who did by far the most of the killing, as well as plundering) could get a shot at him or cut him down with sword or dagger, they did so. The doors of the houses were broken open by force and the contents of the houses carried off. Everything that could not be carried off was destroyed. Boxes and furniture were broken to pieces. Pepper and pickles were mixed with flour that could not be removed, and the bread, often the provision for a week, was thrown on the floor and stamped to dust. As if to be sure that it would not be eaten by the hungry, a jar of pickled cabbage, or something of that kind, would be broken over it and trampled into it. As if the soldiers could not carry off all they wanted, a number of women attended them and carried off the plunder. An eye-witness reports that in one street he saw some officers lead a detachment of soldiers to two Armenian houses; the commanding officers themselves broke open the doors, entered and looted the whole house, stripping it completely. All through the afternoon and evening the suspense was intense. In the beautiful moonlight the Turks could be seen carrying away the plunder, while occasionally a volley of shots rang out on the night air.
All day Thursday the disturbance continued, though in somewhat less degree. An Armenian, speaking of his experience on that day, said that in the morning the soldiers entered his house. He and his family were driven out. The soldiers rifled the old man’s pockets, took his watch and chain, but did not harm him. A soldier on the roof told the son to stand
[page 419] DEFENSELESS PEOPLE KILLED.
still or he would shoot him. But he dodged quickly under the lee of the wall and ran for the British Consulate, which he succeeded in reaching. Later he saw the same soldier, who had threatened to shoot him if he moved, acting as a special guard at the Italian Consulate. One of the guard before the English Consulate asked him sarcastically, “ Which Consulate is this ? ” “ The British,” was the reply. “ And this ? ” “ The Italian.” “Well, where’s the Armenian Consulate? You were going to have a kingdom (beylik); you got a ‘ beylik ’ yesterday.” In rifling the village of Purnagaban, a prominent Armenian, after being seized by the soldiers, with the naked sword at his breast, was asked, “ You wanted a ‘beylik;’ here’s your ‘beylik.’ ” Another Armenian told how the soldiers on Thursday morning had taken his watch and rifled his pockets. The “ dragoman ” of the British Consulate, who had gone up to the Government House just before the massacre began, told his experience. He was with one of the “ cavasses.” On their way he heard an officer speak roughly to an unruly Turk as follows: — “ Can’t you keep quiet now; wait until it begins and then you can do what you like.” In many places on the long way up he saw the soldiers all drawn up ready for the massacre. At the Serai he found not an official, which was very remarkable as this was a very busy time. All the lower officials were away. Both he and the “ cavass ” saw the storm brewing and hastened to return. They were about half-way, near an open market where fruit and grain and wood are sold, when the soldiers began to fire on the defenseless people. He relates that he saw one Armenian run up to a Turkish officer, throw his arms round him and beseech him to save him, but the officer pushed him away from him with both hands, drew his revolver, and shot him. Another, a black-
[page 420] DREADFUL SCENES ENACTED.
smith, they beat over the head with clubs as he ran until he fell, and then three soldiers standing within a few feet of him fired three bullets into him. One of them who looked at the body a moment saw the convulsive movements, and said to his companions, “ Look, the dog isn’t dead yet; look, look.” For two hours the dragoman saw this from a safe place. The soldiers did the work, shooting every Christian they could see.
In the afternoon Mr. Chambers, with the English and Italian Consuls, and Tewfik Bey, of Shakir Pasha’s suite, made a tour of the Armenian quarter between Gumruk street and the limits of the city on the east. What they saw there beggars description. A long large barracks with a parade ground in front is situated on the eastern side of the street. When the massacre began these soldiers fired volley after volley into the houses, and then looted them. Those who had not escaped were murdered in their houses by the soldiers. In one house they saw two young brides brutally murdered lying on carpets bespattered with blood, disfigured, and almost naked. In another house were two men butchered in a barbarous way, splinters of broken boxes and doors, windows shattered to pieces, the plastering torn and broken, everything in ruin.
In very many cases Armenians came to the guard-houses for protection, and almost invariably they were first examined, and then shot down in cold blood. Sometimes this was done to single individuals, sometimes they were shot down in groups. During that awful four hours, the military gave no quarter to men found in the shops and streets, and in very many cases not even to men found in the houses. The wounds of the dead bodies were awful beyond description. Even the wounded had awful wounds. Mr. Chambers helped to dress the wounds, which included the amputation of the right hand
[page 421] ONE REDEEMING FEATURE.
and left thumb, of a man who had sixteen. Ten of them were on his head, all of them horrible gashes. Another he helped to dress, had three horrible gashes on his head, two dagger wounds in his back, and a bullet through his left hand. Coal oil had been poured on him preparatory to burning. A little nine-year old boy had his arm amputated. But this is enough to give an idea of the determined onslaught. One soldier declared that he used ten packages of ammunition, each package containing twelve rounds, making in all 120 rounds of ammunition shot away by one man in four hours.
There was one redeeming feature. Many Turks (civilians) rescued Armenians who appealed to them. They kept them in their houses or in their shops, till it was safe to send them home. In one instance a Turk hid an Armenian under a pile of wool in the Armenian’s own shop. When the shop was attacked, the Turk went in and helped to distribute the goods, trying in the meantime to turn the attention of the soldiers from the wool. However, they demanded the wool, which he was forced to give. Soon the Armenian began to appear. The soldiers were for shooting him at once. The Turk protested and prevented that. Then they insisted on searching his person and taking his purse and watch. Then the Turk said, “ I am a Moslem. I have had no share in this plunder; the purse and watch must fall to me.” The soldiers again demanded to kill him. The Turk whispered something to (the officer in command, and they said that as the man was such a bad Armenian, he should be kept for hanging. After much persuasion the soldiers consented to this, so the Turk marched off the Armenian as if to the Government House, to be kept for hanging. However he got him to a place of safety, and later, restoring his purse and watch, sent him home.
[page 422] QUIET RESTORED.
A large number of Armenians were saved by the good will of Turkish friends. This is all the more remarkable as the threats of slaughter against the Armenians seemed to be quite universal on the part of the Turks, and generally Turks joined with the soldiers in plundering the shops of their Christian neighbors.
By noon on Thursday, all was quiet again. The soldiers were bringing Armenians, who had managed to escape the slaughter by hiding in all sorts of places, to their homes. Many were brought to the Mission House first, where they again saw their kinsfolk. One was a sick and poor woman whose house had been entered by the soldiers. She fell at their feet and besought them to leave the few things she had in her home. One of the soldiers seized a “ kalian” and struck her on the forehead, knocking her senseless. Quiet continued all day long, but the people could not be induced to return to their homes. Some went there to find everything cleaned out.
Thursday night passed much as the previous night had, and Friday morning came. This was the Moslem Sunday, and the terror of the Armenians was renewed. They had no confidence in the soldiers at all, and the Turks, as well as the soldiers, told them that the killing would begin again. Especially were the Bishop’s house and the Sanassarian school threatened. The women with babies, girls, and more men flocked to the mission building until the building and enclosed garden held little short of 500 frightened people, who could not be induced to return to their homes. But gradually they ventured to go to their homes, and night found the crowd reduced to 200. The Turks made preposterous statements about the number of revolutionists, and arms and ammunition
[page 423] COWARDLY TURKS.
hidden in the Armenian church and Sanassarian school. Apparently they had been too cowardly to attack the place with their rifles, and now they threatened to bombard it from the forts. The English Consul here lent his good services as mediator. The places were searched quietly by the Turkish officials, and, of course, not a weapon or a revolutionist was found, for there are no more law-abiding citizens in the Ottoman Empire than the gentlemen in charge of the Sanassarian school. They are fine, cultured men, who desire nothing more than peace to conduct their educational enterprise. In 1890, at the time of the riot, this same charge, equally unfounded, was made against them. But the affair in that year was really a riot, for a mob and not soldiers paraded the streets, looting and spoiling. In that year the English Consul lived in the mission building, where every glass was smashed in with stones.
It was natural that there should be the wildest statements as to the number of killed. Some put it at 2,000. The best estimate available makes it 800 to 1,000. Nearly all were men. Not a single dead Turk was reported or seen. A dragoman of one of the Consulates, who saw the firing for two hours in the bazaars, said that all the soldiers were out, fully armed, to the number of 3,000. They were not content with shooting a man once, but they fired at each one three and four times. He boldly declared that the government officials had ordered the soldiers to begin to kill. The patrol who held the foot of the street occupied by the American Mission House and several Consulates, deliberately squatted behind a pile of newly-chopped wood in front of the French Consulate and put the entrance to the Health Office under fire to prevent the Armenians from seeking refuge there. The English
[page 424] AN EYE-WITNESS’S STORY.
Consul stopped this, threatening to fire on them if they continued. Both the English and French Consuls, whose houses adjoin each other, were on their housetops when the attack began, and found the bullets whistling so unpleasantly near that they deemed it advisable to go below.
An eye-witness describes the scene on Friday afternoon as most horrible. He went with one of the cavasses of the English Legation, a soldier, his interpreter, and a photographer (Armenian) to the Armenian Gregorian Cemetery. The municipality had sent down a number of bodies, friends had brought more, and a horrible sight met his eyes. Along the wall on the north, in a row 20 feet wide and 150 feet long, lay 321 dead bodies of the massacred Armenians. Many were fearfully mangled and mutilated. He saw one with his face completely smashed in with a blow of some heavy weapon after he was killed: some with their necks almost severed by a sword cut; one whose whole chest had been skinned and his forearms cut off, while the upper arm was skinned of flesh. He asked if the dogs had done this. “No, the Turks did it with their knives.” A dozen bodies were half burned. All the corpses had been rifled of all their clothes except a cotton under-garment or two. These white under-clothes were stained with the blood of the dead, presenting a fearful sight. The faces of many were disfigured beyond recognition, and all had been thrown down, face foremost, in the dust of the streets and mud of the gutters, so that all were black with clotted blood and dust. Some were stark naked, and every body seemed to have at least two wounds, and some a dozen. In this list of dead there were only three women, two babies, a number of young children, and about thirty young men of 15 to 20.
[page 425] HORRIBLE ATROCITIES.
A crowd of a thousand people, mostly Armenians, watched him taking photographs
of their dead. Many were weeping beside their dead fathers or husbands. The
Armenian photographer saw two children, relatives of his, among the dead.
Some Armenian workmen were engaged excavating a deep trench twenty feet square,
close by, to bury the corpses. Here, too, was a peculiar scene. The space
of this trench contained many graves, and on one side were a number of skulls,
perhaps twenty in all, and a pile of bones found in the excavating. He left
the sad sight sick at heart. Apart from the rest was the horribly mutilated
corpse of an Armenian priest, with whom a story is connected. He came from
a village in the plain, Tevnik, where he had been attacked a few days before
and his house looted. At the same time, to save his life, he signed a paper
promising to pay the robbers 100 liras. As soon as he was free, he made for
Erzrum to make complaint. This man, it was said, was the first Armenian killed.
He was in the Serai, on his business, when he was shot dead in the premises
with several other defenseless Armenians. This is the way it began at the
deserted Serai, and is the other side of the story.
The news of the massacre at Erzrum created a great shock everywhere. That in such a city, in the very presence of English, French and Russian Consuls, with high dignitaries of the Turkish Government in command, such scenes should occur was in itself a matter of great moment. That the killing and pillaging should be carried on by the soldiers under the direct command of their officers, showed conclusively that it was no mere mob outbreak. Of course, there were various stories told. Among them was one to the effect that seven Armenians had run into the Government House
[page 426] OUTBREAK OF SICKNESS.
and made directly for the audience rooms of Raouf Pasha. These had fired their revolvers right in the faces of those they met, but two of them were killed and five taken prisoners before they had done any harm. This was pretty hard to believe, for at the outside entrance of the Serai were always stationed at least two soldiers, and generally a dozen or more were strolling about fully armed.
More than that, assurance upon assurance had been given that if the Armenians would be quiet there would be no trouble. The commanding officers claimed to be very indignant that the soldiers had been guilty of looting and it was said that they had done their best to stem the torrent. To those, however, who know Turkish officers and soldiers, this statement will carry little weight. Nine days after the massacre there was still great anxiety. Then commenced an outbreak of sickness, the result of the terrible nervous strain, of insufficient food and the general privation. Then, too, stragglers came in from the villages on the Passen, Khanus and Alashgerd plains, with their own stories of horrors, until it seemed as if the cup of suffering was more than full.
Table of Contents
| The Cover, Frontispiece, Title Page, Copyright
Introduction | Preface | Turkey in Asia (map) | Table of Contents (as in the book)
List of Illustrations | 1. The Turkish Empire | 2. Population and Languages | 3. Religions
4. The Turks | 5. The Kurds | 6. The Armenians | 7. The Greeks | 8. Other Oriental Churches
9. Rise and Decline of Ottoman Power | 10. Turkey and Europe | 11. Russia and Turkey
12. Mahmud II | 13. Reform and Progress | 14. Treaties of Paris and Berlin
15. Condition of the Christians | 16. The Turkish Government | 17. Protestant Missions in Turkey
18. The Armenian Question | 19. General Situation in 1894 | 20. The Sassun Massacre
21. Politics and Massacre at Constantinople | 22. Massacres at Trebizond and Erzrum
23. Massacres in Harput District | 24. Aintab, Marash and Urfa | 25. Character of the Massacres
26. Religious Persecution | 27. Relief Work | 28. Partition of Turkey | 29. America and Turkey
30. General Survey | Alphabetical Index
Bliss, Rev. Edwin Munsell . Turkey and the Armenian Atrocities.
Edgewood Publishing Company , 1896
J. Rendel Harris
& B. Helen Harris, Letters
from the Scenes of the Recent Massacres in Armenia