File No. 763.72/1294
The Ambassador in Turkey (Morgenthau) to the Secretary of State
Constantinople, November 16, 1914.
[Received December 11.]
Sir: In continuation of my despatch No. 127, dated November 7, 1914, on political affairs, I have the honor to report that on the 11th instant, early in the morning, I was informed that the British Embassy was in the possession of the police.1 I went there immediately and was informed that new orders had been issued that [Page 148]morning to search all embassies and consulates for wireless apparatus. The police agreed to discontinue their search until I had conferred with the director general of the police. Mr. Tarler visited the French Embassy and found similar conditions there with the exception of the fact that the officers in charge there informed him that they would continue to search the buildings, and that furthermore they would not allow him or the Ambassador to enter the premises unless accompanied by the chief of police. The Servian Legation and the British Consulate General had also been entered; many of the caretakers, kavasses, and the French Vice Consul were arrested but immediately released. The police had also requisitioned twenty horses and two carriages from the British Embassy and six horses from the French Embassy.
I immediately sought the Minister of the Interior to whom I strongly protested. As I informed you in my No. 18, of November 12, noon, he apologized for the occurrence stating that the police had acted under orders from the military authorities without his knowledge and he sent for the chief of police whom he obliged to apologize to me. I also protested to the Minister of War who disclaimed all blame for entering the embassies by stating that he had ordered a general search for wireless apparatus but that he had not given any detailed directions as to how it was to be carried out. He promised to call at the Embassy formally to apologize. Undoubtedly during my interviews with both ministers all the premises entered had been searched. It was agreed that no further search should be made and that I might seal the embassies and consulates for a week, which I did. I pointed out to the ministers that by doing this the individual operating the wireless apparatus would either have been discovered by the end of the week or the authorities would be assured that the embassies and consulates were not being used as wireless stations.
Before closing up the British Consulate General the police seized some firearms and ammunition. Before allowing Mr. Tarler to seal the British Embassy, another officer had arrived who stated that he wished to enter a certain locked room there as he believed it contained arms. Mr. Tarler promptly notified me and as soon as I was able to communicate with the chief of police, the necessary orders were given to allow the Embassy to be sealed without further delay. By special arrangement the French dragoman and vice consuls and servants were allowed to remain on the premises in their respective houses, and the same privilege was accorded to the servants of the British Embassy.
That evening I discussed the matter with the Austrian Ambassador who is dean of the Diplomatic Corps, and he agreed that I should protest to the Ottoman Government. On the following day I submitted to the Grand Vizier a formal protest against this unprecedented violation of the principles of international law.
On the 12th instant, I had the Belgian Legation sealed and on the 15th the Servian. The Belgian Minister and his secretary had departed two days previously.
The Ottoman Government has promulgated an order forbidding the use of the post for all correspondence excepting that written in French, Turkish, or Arabic. All sealed envelopes to our consulates in Turkey have been refused. I have taken this matter up with the [Page 149]Porte, and, pending their consideration of it, I am enabled to transmit my consular correspondence with the assistance of the Ministry of the Interior. The only cablegrams in code which will be communicated from the telegraph office are those addressed to the Department. The Minister of War has, however, made a special arrangement to have my code telegrams to consuls transmitted through his office.
On the 11th instant, a formal declaration of war was made by Imperial irade. I have the honor to enclose herewith copy and translation1 of a proclamation issued on the 12th instant, declaring a holy war. This manifesto was undoubtedly calculated to inflame the religious fanaticism of the Moslems and a demonstration was made by them on the 14th which forms the subject of a separate despatch.
On the 13th instant, a number of Persians paraded to this Embassy and on the broad ground of humanity and our world-wide endeavors to assure peace, they handed me a protest in behalf of their country against the aggression of Russia and England.
On the 13th instant, three Turkish transports were sunk in the Black Sea and the officers and crews consisting of 219 men and several passengers were taken prisoners by the Russians.
It is generally quiet here, but there is apprehension that in case an unfortified town is bombarded by the Allied fleets, all British subjects and French citizens will be taken as prisoners and held as hostages.
I have [etc.]