File No. 867.4016/90

The Ambassador in Turkey ( Morgenthau ) to the Secretary of State


924. My telegrams numbers 841 and 858.1 Turkish anti-Armenian activities continue unabated. Reports, of which you will receive copies, are constantly received from our consuls and others, of horrors to which large numbers of innocent and helpless people of this race are being subjected. Armenian population is fast being swept from the Ada Bazar and Izmid. Bardizag, some 50 miles from Constantinople, has been lately threatened, but the Minister of State has granted two weeks’ delay, and unless something can be done to arrest this atrocious campaign, these people also will be forced from their homes and herded like cattle into the arid and hostile wastes [Page 986] of the interior, where the greater number, possibly excepting those who in desperation embrace Mohammedanism, will doubtless perish by murder or slow starvation. Minister of Trade and Commerce and Minister of the Interior have promised me permission for Armenians in Constantinople to leave the country on agreement never to return. Minister of the Interior says that he realizes no Armenians can remain friendly to Turkish Government after present treatment and hints at drastic measures against all in Constantinople if slightest offense is committed against Government. In view of the ease with which pretexts are created in this country, these statements cause me uneasiness. The German and Austrian Ambassadors have promised me to exert their influence, but I doubt the efficacy of their representations unless they are specifically instructed by their Governments to insist on the cessation of the acts now being perpetrated and the taking of strong protective measures for the thousands already on the way to their doom.

There remain a considerable number of American missionaries at various points in the interior and though these people are prevented from rendering any adequate assistance to the Yakutsk victims and are viewed with considerable suspicion on account of their sympathies, yet I do not think they are in any personal danger now. I have this phase of riots constantly in mind and will take every measure possible for their protection and departure, should events necessitate. For the present I am inclined to think with Peet and others, that it is better for them to remain where they are in case of possible relief measures.

I earnestly beg the Department to give this matter urgent and exhaustive consideration with a view to reaching a conclusion which may possibly have the effect of checking this Government and certainly provide opportunity for efficient relief which now is not permitted. It is difficult for me to restrain myself from doing something to stop this attempt to exterminate a race, but I realize that I am here as Ambassador and must abide by the principles of non-interference with the internal affairs of another country. Unless you should deem this such an exceptional state of affairs, the Department will direct me to register an unequivocal protest on behalf or our Government. I offer for serious consideration the following suggestions in the hope that they may be of assistance in reaching a conclusion in the matter which is at once urgent and delicate and further complicated by our representation of so many other foreign interests:

That the United States Government on behalf of humanity urgently request the Turkish Government to cease at once the present campaign and to permit the survivors to return to their homes if not in the war zones, or else to receive proper treatment;
That if our present relations permit, an official appeal be made to the Emperor of Germany to insist on Turkey, his ally, stopping this annihilation of a Christian race;
That a vigorous official demand be made without delay for the granting of every facility to Americans and others to visit and render pecuniary and other assistance they may desire to Armenians already affected by Government deportation.

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I believe the third suggestion might prove the most acceptable under the circumstances and that a strong and unyielding stand in this matter of our right to advance immediate aid to these helpless people will in itself imply our protesting attitude. The advance of such assistance might be the means of saving thousands during this period of the war tension, after which the situation may assume more hopeful proportions.

  1. Latter not printed.