File No. 763.72/13362

The Ambassador in France ( Sharp) to the Secretary of State


3816. The following is the reply of General Bliss to the Secretary of State’s telegram received by him on the afternoon of April 18 from the American Ambassador in Paris, where it was received on April 17, and the one dated in Washington April 25, which was handed to General Bliss by the American Ambassador at 8.30, April 27.

When I received the first of the above telegrams I discussed it at once with my British colleagues. It was evident that certain information must be obtained from London, which was immediately called for. This information was received by me from the British War Office yesterday, May 5. It was accompanied by a statement that it was much desired that the matter should not be formally discussed by the body of military representatives at Versailles. I infer that this desire is due to possible diplomatic differences with the French. The statement of British War Office is as follows:

1. Early in December it became apparent that the Russian armies in the Caucasus could no longer be relied on for the defense of Armenia, and on the 18th of December an armistice was declared on the whole Caucasus, pending the conclusion of peace. Meantime, on the 19th of December as an outcome of the meeting of the War Cabinet held on the previous day the Caucasus military agent was instructed to authorize the Armenian and Georgian authorities to buy arms and equipment from the Russians for such forces as they were likely to be able to put in the field and to promise such financial assistance as they might require in rouble notes.

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[Believing] that the only hope of success lay in uniting the various elements—Armenians, Georgians and Tatars—in common opposition to the Turks, every effort was made to effect this purpose through the national councils and the national leaders both in Trans-Caucasus and abroad, but to no avail. The Baku Tatars were openly pro-Turk while many of the Georgians shared the same sympathies. The Armenians alone were on the whole sincere, but even Andronik himself eventually declared that he was surrounded by “traitors and betrayers.” Erzerum fell on the 11th March and Baturn on the 13th April. The peace negotiations which were being conducted at Trebizond have been broken off by the Trans-Caucasian Government contrary to the wishes of the Georgian delegates. The end, however, is near and inevitable but, although the occupation of Armenia by the Turks can only be regarded as one of the tragedies of the war, it should be recognized that all possible efforts were made to save the Armenians from the Bolshevik revolution and the [collapse of] the Russian Army which was protecting them.

As to the above, I have conferred further with my British colleagues here and they express the positive opinion that every aid has been given to the Armenians and Georgians that it is possible to give under existing circumstances. It is probable that the military representatives at Versailles will agree today upon a formal joint opinion that it is desirable that the United States should declare the existence of a state of war between them and the Ottoman Empire but not for the present with Bulgaria. I hope to be able to give the American Ambassador the formal opinion of the military representatives to-night.1 This action, if taken, may have beneficial effect upon Armenian situation. I further suggest that until British Government withdraws its opposition to formal consideration of Armenian question by the military representatives better results may be obtained for the present by direct diplomatic correspondence between the Government at Washington and that of Great Britain. Bliss.
  1. See ante, pp. 227228.