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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Kasab Taburu (Butcher Brigade), Part Fifteen

       "As far west as Adrianople, in Thrace, in March 1916, Consular Agent Charles E. Allen described his view of the process of Turkification and general ethnic cleansing.  Once agein the Turks employed forced conversions to Islam and installed muhajirs in the homes of deported Armenians, but in this case the Greeks, who were the largest Christian population there, were the worst hit.  The authorities are working toward 'the Turkification of Thrace,' Allen wrote Morgenthau.  'They are simply expelling' the Greeks and seizing their property, and "installing" Muslims in their houses.  About half the Greek population of Thrace had already been deported back to Greece, and the few remaining Armenians had already been converted to Islam to avoid death, and would 'be required to intermarry with the Turks.'  Allen conjectured that 'this method of securing the disappearance of the Armenian race' might have been promoted by the Germans in order to prevent more killing, as 'the Turks would probably have preferred a quicker and more effective method.'
       Not far from Adrianople, in Ovajik, just west of Constantinople, ten-year-old Serouphi Tvoukdjian woke to find the town crier ordering all Armenian families to prepare to be deported in four days.  They were 'herded into side-entrance box cars,' taken by rail to Konia and Adana,  and then released and forcibly marched into the Syrian desert.  Farther west in the great port city of Smyrna, the American consul, George Horton, documented a similar Turkification frenzy in a report to Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan in February 1915.  'I have the honor to inform you,' he wrote, 'that lawless Turkish bands are appearing in increasing numbers in this district and are spreading a reign of terror among the Christians of all races.'  Horton closes his letter to Bryan with the refrain of a song Turkish students in Smyrna were singing:
                                            Revenge!  Revenge!  Revenge!
                                             Let us kill, let us cut to pieces,
                                             Let us swim in blood up to our knees,
                                             Revenge!  Revenge!  Revenge!
                                             Let us wipe the stain from our clothes.
       Farther south along the Mediterannean coast, in Adana Province, which still bore the scars of the 1909 massacre, Consul Edward Nathan reported the same pattern of massacre and deportation that was in motion in all other areas of Turkey.  Writing to Ambassador Morgenthau on July 26, 1915, Nathan informed him that 'deportation measures on a large scale' are to be carried out 'against Armenians in the cities of Adana, Tarsus and Mersina.'
       So rapid and massive was the deportation from Adana and its vilayet that in Katma, at the eastern edge of Cilicia, Shukru Aghzarian and some of the other surviving deportees 'found about 200,000 Armenian deportees living in tents without food or water.'  Hundreds were dying by the day, and to make this worse, the 'local Turks,' Aghzarian writes, 'threw offal into the wells' and 'often cut the ropes' on the water buckets.
       Nathan emphasized that the Ottoman government had sent a 'member of the Special Commission on Deportations. . . to superintend the matter.'  The deportees were forced to give all their real estate titles to the authorities, and the rest of their immovable wealth, he noted, was 'taken possession of by the Government.'  The entire region, Nathan explained, was being stripped of its 'best commercial element.'  Because the Armenians were the chief employees of foreign businesses such as the Singer Manufacturing Company, the German agricultural machine companies, and the various petroleum companies, the impact on the region would be disasterous."  The Burning Tigris by Peter Balakian, pgs.  269-71.

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