The Project Gutenberg EBook of Crescent and Iron Cross, by E. F. Benson This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: Crescent and Iron Cross Author: E. F. Benson Release Date: February 17, 2004 [EBook #10881] Language: English Character set encoding: US-ASCII *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CRESCENT AND IRON CROSS *** Produced by Jonathan Ingram, L Barber and PG Distributed Proofreaders
Fresh items of news respecting internal conditions in Turkey are continually coming in, and if one waited for them all, one would have to wait to the end of the war before beginning to write at all on this subject. But since such usefulness as this book may possibly have is involved with the necessity of its appearance before the end of the war, I set a term to the gathering of material, and, with the exception of two or three notes inserted later, ceased to collect it after June 1917. But up to then anything that should have been inserted in surveys and arguments, and is not, constitutes a culpable omission on my part.
Map 1 - The Turkish Empire (Top)
Map 2 - The Turkish Empire (Bottom)
Map 3 - The Balkan States 1878 & 1914
The maker of phrases plies a dangerous trade. Very often his phrase is applicable for the moment and for the situation in view of which he coined it, but his coin has only a temporary validity: it is good for a month or for a year, or for whatever period during which the crisis lasts, and after that it lapses again into a mere token, a thing without value and without meaning. But the phrase cannot, as in the case of a monetary coinage, at once be recalled, for it has gone broadcast over the land, or, at any rate, it is not recalled, and it goes on being passed from hand to hand, its image and superscription defaced by wear, long after it has ceased to represent anything. In itself it is obsolete, but people still trade with it, and think it represents what it represented when it came hot from the Mint. And, unfortunately, it sometimes happens that it is worse than valueless; it becomes a forgery (which it may not have been when it came into circulation), and deceives those who traffic with it, flattering them with an unfounded possession.
Such a phrase, which still holds currency, was once coined by Lord Aberdeen in the period of the Crimean War. 'Turkey is a sick man,' he said, and added something which gave great offence then about the advisability of putting Turkey out of his misery. I do not pretend to quote correctly, but that was the gist of it. Nor do I challenge the truth of Lord Aberdeen's phrase at the period when he made it. It possibly contained a temporary truth, a valid point of view, which, if it had been acted on, might have saved a great deal of trouble afterwards, but it missed then, and more than misses now, the essential and salient truth about Turkey. The phrase, unfortunately, still continued to obtain credit, and nowadays it is a forgery; it rings false.
For at whatever period we regard Turkey, and try to define that monstrous phenomenon, we can make a far truer phrase than Lord Aberdeen's. For Turkey is not a sick man: Turkey is a sickness. He is not sick, nor ever has been, for he is the cancer itself, the devouring tumour that for centuries has fed on living tissue, absorbing it and killing it. It has never had life in itself, except in so far that the power of preying on and destroying life constitutes life, and such a power, after all, we are accustomed to call not life, but death. Turkey, like death, continues to exist and to dominate, through its function of killing. Life cannot kill, it is disease and death that kill, and from the moment that Turkey passed from being a nomadic tribe moving westwards from the confines of Persia, it has existed only and thrived on a process of absorption and of murder. When first the Turks came out of their Eastern fastnesses they absorbed; when they grew more or less settled, and by degrees the power of mere absorption, as by some failure of digestion, left them, they killed. They became a huge tumour, that nourished itself by killing the living tissues that came in contact with it. Now, by the amazing irony of fate, who weaves stranger dramas than could ever be set on censored stages, for they both take hundreds of years to unravel themselves, and are of the most unedifying character, Turkey, the rodent cancer, has been infected by another with greater organisation for devouring; the disease of Ottomanism is threatened by a more deadly hungerer, and Prussianism has inserted its crab-pincers into the cancer that came out of Asia. Those claws are already deeply set, and the problem for civilised nations is first to disentangle the nippers that are cancer in a cancer, and next to deprive of all power over alien peoples the domination that has already been allowed to exist too long.
The object of this book is the statement of the case on which all defenders of liberty base their prosecution against Turkey itself, and against the Power that to-day has Turkey in its grip.
Historical surveys are apt to be tedious, but in order to understand at all adequately the case against Turkey as a ruler and controller of subject peoples, it is necessary to go, though briefly, into her blood-stained genealogy. There is no need to enter into ethnological discussions as to earlier history, or define the difference between the Osmanli Turks and those who were spread over Asia Minor before the advent of the Osmanlis from the East. But it was the Osmanlis who were the cancerous and devouring nation, and it is they who to-day rule over a vast territory (subject to Germany) of peoples alien to them by religion and blood and all the instincts common to civilised folk. Until Germany, 'deep patient Germany,' suddenly hoisted her colours as a champion of murder and rapine and barbarism, she the mother of art and literature and science, there was nothing in Europe that could compare with the anachronism of Turkey being there at all. Then, in August 1914, there was hoisted the German flag, superimposed with skulls and cross-bones, and all the insignia of piracy and highway robbery on land and on sea, and Germany showed herself an anachronism worthy to impale her arms on the shield of the most execrable domination that has ever oppressed the world since the time when the Huns under Attila raged like a forest fire across the cultivated fields of European civilisation. To-day, in the name of Kultur, a similar invasion has broken on shores that seemed secure, and it is no wonder that it has found its most valuable victim and ally in the Power that adopted the same methods of absorption and extermination centuries before the Hohenzollerns ever started on their career of highway robbery. But like seeks like, and perhaps it was not wholly the fault of our astonishing diplomacy in Constantinople that Turkey, wooed like some desirable maiden, cast in her lot with the Power that by instinct and tradition most resembled her. Spiritual blood, no less than physical blood, is thicker than water, and Gott and Allah, hand-in-hand, pledged each other in the cups they had filled with the blood that poured from the wine-presses of Belgium and of Armenia.
For centuries before the Osmanli Turks made their appearance in Asia Minor, there had come from out of the misty East numerous bodies of Turks, pushing westwards, and spreading over the Euphrates valley and over Persia, in nomadic or military colonisations, and it is not until the thirteenth century that we find the Osmanli Turks, who give their name to that congregation of races known as the Ottoman Empire, established in the north-west corner of Asia Minor. Like all previous Turkish immigrations, they came not in any overwhelming horde, with sword in one hand and Koran in the other, but as a small compact body with a genius for military organisation, and the gift, which they retain to this day, of stalwart fighting. The policy to which they owed their growth was absorption, and the people whom they first began to absorb were Greeks and other Christians, and it was to a Christian girl, Nilufer, that Osman married his son Orkhan. They took Christian youths from the families of Greek dwellers, forced them to apostatise, gave them military training, and married them to Turkish girls. It was out of this blend of Greek and Turkish blood, as Mr. D.G. Hogarth points out, that they derived their national being and their national strength. This system of recruiting they steadily pursued not only among the Christian peoples with whom they came in contact, but among the settlements of Turks who had preceded them in this process of pushing westwards, and formed out of them the professional soldiery known as Janissaries. They did not fight for themselves alone, but as mercenaries lent their arms to other peoples, Moslem and Christian alike, who would hire their services. This was a policy that paid well, for, after having delivered some settlement from the depredations of an inconvenient neighbour, and with their pay in their pocket, they sometimes turned on those who had hired their arms, took their toll of youths, and finally incorporated them in their growing empire. Like an insatiable sponge, they mopped up the sprinklings of disconnected peoples over the fruitful floor of Asia Minor, and swelled and prospered. But as yet the extermination of these was not part of their programme: they absorbed the strength and manhood of their annexations into their own soldiery, and came back for more. They did not levy those taxes paid in the persons of soldiers for their armies from their co-religionists, since Islam may not fight against Islam, but by means of peaceful penetration (a policy long since abandoned) they united scattered settlements of Turks to themselves by marriages and the bond of a common tongue and religion.
Their expansion into Europe began in the middle of the fourteenth century, when, as mercenaries, they fought against the Serbs, and fifty years later they had a firm hold over Bulgaria as well. Greece was their next prey; they penetrated Bosnia and Macedonia, and in 1453 attacked and took Constantinople under Mohammed the Conqueror. Still true to the policy of incorporation they continued to mop up the remainder of the Balkan Peninsula, and at the same time consolidated themselves further in Asia Minor. By the beginning of the seventeenth century their expansion reached its utmost geographical limits, but already the Empire held within it the seeds of its own decay, and by a curious irony the force that should still keep it together was derived not from its own strength, but from the jealousies of the European Powers among themselves, who would willingly have dismembered it, but feared the quarrels that would surely result from the apportionment of its territories. The Ottoman Empire from then onwards has owed its existence to its enemies.
Its weakness lay in itself, for it was very loosely knit together, and no bond, whether of blood or religion or tongue, bound to it the assembly of Christian and Jewish and non-Moslem races of which it was so largely composed. The Empire never grew (as, for instance, the British Empire grew) by the emigration and settlement of the Osmanli stock in the territories it absorbed: it never gave, it only took. From the beginning right up to the last quarter of the nineteenth century, it has been a military despotism, imposing itself on unwilling and alien tribes whom it drained of their blood, and then left in neglect until some further levy was needed. None of its conquered peoples was ever given a share in the government; they were left unorganised and, so to speak, undigested elements under the Power which had forced them into subjection, and one by one the whole of the European peoples included in that uncemented tyranny have passed from under Turkish control. Turkey in Europe has dwindled to a strip along the Bosporus to the Sea of Marmora and the Dardanelles, Egypt has been lost, Tripoli also, and the only force that, for the last hundred years has kept alive in Europe the existence of that monstrous anachronism has been the strange political phenomenon, now happily extinct, called the Balance of Power. No one of the Great Powers, from fear of the complications that would ensue, could risk the expulsion of the Turkish Government from Constantinople, and there all through the nineteenth century it has been maintained lest the Key of the Black Sea, which unlocked the bolts that barred Russia's development into the Mediterranean, should lead to such a war as we are now passing through. That policy, for the present, has utterly defeated its own ends, for the key is in the pockets of Prussia. But all through that century, though the Powers maintained Turkey there, they helped to liberate, or saw liberate themselves, the various Christian kingdoms in Europe over which at the beginning of the eighteenth century Turkey exercised a military despotism. They weakened her in so far as they could, but they one and all refused to let her die, and above all refused to give her that stab in the heart which would have been implied in her expulsion from Constantinople.
For centuries from the first appearance of the Osmanlis in north-west Asia Minor down to the reign of Abdul Hamid, the Empire maintained itself, with alternate bouts of vigour and relapses, on the general principle of drawing its strength from its subject peoples. Internally, from whatever standpoint we view it, whether educational, economic, or industrial, it has had the worst record of any domination known to history. Rich in mineral wealth, possessed of lands that were once the granary of the world, watered by amazing rivers, and with its strategic position on the Mediterranean that holds the master-key of the Black Sea in its hands, it has remained the most barbaric and least progressive of all states. Its roads and means of communication remained up till the last quarter of the nineteenth century much as they had been in the days of Osman; except along an insignificant strip of sea-coast railways were non-existent; it was bankrupt in finance and in morals, and did not contain a single seed that might ripen into progress or civilisation. Mesopotamia was once the most fertile of all lands, capable of supporting not itself alone, but half the civilised world: nowadays, under the stewardship of the Turk, it has been suffered to become a desert for the greater part of the year and an impracticable swamp for the remainder. Where great cities flourished, where once was reared the pride of Babylon and of Nineveh, there huddle the squalid huts of fever-stricken peasants, scarce able to gain their half-starved living from the soil that once supported in luxury and pomp the grandeur of metropolitan cities. The ancient barrages, the canals, the systems of irrigation were all allowed to silt up and become useless; and at the end of the nineteenth century you would not find in all Mesopotamia an agricultural implement that was in any way superior to the ploughs and the flails of more than two thousand years ago. But so long as there was a palace-guard about the gates to secure the safety of the Sultan and his corrupt military oligarchy, so long as there were houris to divert their leisure, tribute of youths to swell their armies, and taxes wrung from starving subjects to maintain their pomp, there was not one of those who held the reins of government who cared the flick of an eyelash for the needs of the nations on whom the Empire rested, for the cultivation of its soil that would yield a hundredfold to the skilled husbandman, or for the exploitation and development of its internal wealth. While there was left in the emaciated carcase of the Turkish Empire enough live tissue for the cancerous Government to grow fat on, it gave not one thought to the welfare of all those races on whom it had fastened itself. Province after province of its European dominions might be lost to it, but the Balance of Power still kept the Sultan on his throne, and left the peoples of Asia Minor and Syria at his mercy. They were largely of alien religion and of alien tongue, and their individual weakness was his strength. Neglect, and the decay consequent on neglect, was the lot of all who languished under that abominable despotism.
With the accession in 1876 of Abdul Hamid, of cursed memory, there dawned on the doomed subject peoples of the Ottoman Empire a day of bloodier import than any yet. The year before and during that year had occurred the Bulgarian atrocities and massacres, and the word 'massacre' lingered and made music in Abdul Hamid's brain. He said it over to himself and dwelt upon it, and meditated on the nature and possibilities of massacre. The troubles which massacre had calmed had arisen before his accession out of the establishment of the Bulgarian Exarchate, which corresponded to the Greek Patriarchate, and was given power over districts and peoples whom the Greeks justly considered to belong to them by blood and religion. Greek armed bands came into collision with Bulgarian bands, and in order to calm these disturbances by thoroughly effectual means, irregular Turkish troops were sent into Bulgaria, charged with the command to 'stop the row,' but with no other instructions. Indiscriminate killing, with all the passions and horrors that bloodshed evokes in the half-civilised, followed, and there was no more trouble just then in the disturbed districts, for there was none to make trouble. In 1876 Abdul Aziz was deposed by a group of king-makers under Midhat Pasha, Murad V. reigned shadow-like for three months, and during the same year Abdul Hamid was finally selected to fill the throne, and stand forth as the Shadow of God. It was a disturbed and tottering inheritance to which he succeeded, riddled with the dry-rot of corruption, but the inheritor proved himself equal to the occasion.
For a little while he was all abroad, and at the bidding of Midhat, who had placed him on the throne, he summoned a kind of representative Turkish Parliament, by way of imbuing the Great Powers with the idea that he was an enlightened Shadow of God bent on reform. This parody of a Parliament lasted but a short time: it was no more than a faint, dissolving magic-lantern picture. In the spring of 1877 Rumania, under Russian encouragement, broke away from Turkish rule. Turkey declared war on Russia, and in 1878 found herself utterly defeated. At Adrianople was drawn up the Treaty of San Stefano, creating an independent Bulgarian state, and, in the opinion of Great Britain and Germany, giving Russia far greater influence in the Balkan Peninsula than was agreeable to that disastrous supporter of Turkey, the Balance of Power. In consequence the Treaty of San Stefano was superseded by the Treaty of Berlin.
In those arrangements Abdul Hamid had no voice, but he was well content to sit quiet, think about what was to be done with what was left him, and thank his waning crescent that once again the Balance of Power had secured Constantinople for him, leaving him free to deal with his Asiatic dominions, and such part of Europe as was left him, as he thought fit. He could safely trust that he would never be ejected from his throne by a foreign Power, and all he need do was to make himself safe against internal disturbances and revolutions which might upset him. And it was then that he begot in the womb of his cold and cunning brain a policy that was all his own, except in so far as the Bulgarian atrocities, consequent on feuds between Bulgars and Greeks, may be considered the father of that hideous birth. But it was he who suckled and nourished it, it was from his brain that it emerged, full-grown and in panoply of armour, as from the brain of Olympian Zeus came Pallas Athene. This new policy was in flat contradiction of all the previous policy, as he had received it from his predecessors, of strengthening Turkey by tributes of man-power from his subject tribes, but it would, he thought, have the same result of keeping the Turk supreme among the alien elements of the Empire. Times had changed; it behoved him to change the methods which hitherto had held together his hapless inheritance.
Now Abdul Hamid was not in any sense a wise man, and the ability which has been attributed to him, in view of the manner in which he successfully defied the civilisations of Europe, is based on premisses altogether false. He never really defied Europe at all; he always yielded, secure in his belief that Europe in the shape of the Balance of Power, was unanimous in keeping him where he was. He never even risked being turned out of Constantinople, for he knew--none better--that all Europe insisted on retaining him there. As regards wisdom, there was never a greater fool, but as regards cunning there was never a greater fox. He had a brain that was absolutely impervious to large ideas: the notion of consolidating and strengthening his Empire by ameliorating its internal conditions, by bringing it within speaking distance of the influence of civilisation and progress, by taking advantage of and developing its immense natural resources, by employing the brains and the industry of his subject races, seems never to have entered his head. He could easily have done all this: there was not a Power in Europe that would not have lent him a helping hand in development and reform, in the establishment of a solvent state, in aiding the condition of the peoples over whom he ruled. In whatever he did, provided that it furthered the welfare of his subjects, whether Turk, Armenian, or Arab, the whole Concert of Europe would have provided him with cash, with missionaries, with engineers, and all the resources of the arts and sciences of peace and of progress. But being a felon, with crime and cunning to take the place of wisdom, he preferred to develop his Empire on his own original lines. In Europe he was but suffered to exist. There remained Asia.
The policy of previous Osmanli rulers has already been roughly defined. They strengthened themselves and the military Turkish despotism round them by absorbing the manhood of the tribes over which they had obtained dominion. Abdul Hamid reversed that policy; he strengthened the Turkish supremacy, not by drawing into it the manhood of his subject peoples, but by destroying that manhood. In proportion, so his foxlike brain reasoned, as his alien subjects were weak, so were the Turks strong. A consistent weakening of alien nations would strengthen the hold of those who governed the Ottoman Empire. It was as if a man suffered from gout in his foot: he could get rid of the gout by wholesome living, the result of which would be that his foot ceased to trouble him. But the plan which he adopted was to cause his foot to mortify by process of inhuman savagery. When it was dead it would trouble him no longer.
He was well aware that the Turkish people only comprised some forty per cent, of the population of the Turkish Empire: numerically they were weaker than the alien peoples who composed the rest of it. Something had to be done to bring the governing Power up to such a proportionate strength as should secure its supremacy, and the most convenient plan was to weaken the alien elements. The scheme, though yet inchoate, had been tried with success in the case of the Bulgarians and Greeks, and to test it further he stirred up Albanians against the inhabitants of Old Servia with gratifying results. They weakened each other, and he further weakened them both by the employment of Turkish troops in Macedonia to quell the disturbances which he had himself fomented. There were massacres and atrocities, and no more trouble just then from Macedonia. Having thus tested his plan and found no flaw in it, he settled to adopt it. But European combinations did not really much interest him, for he was aware that the Great Powers, to whose sacred Balance he owed the permanence of his throne, would not tolerate interference with European peoples, and he turned his attention to Asia Minor. There were excrescences there which he could not absorb, but which might be destroyed. He could use the knife on living tissues which the impaired digestion of the Ottoman Empire could not assimilate. So he hit on this fresh scheme, which his hellish cunning devised with a matchless sense of the adaptation of the means to the end, and he created (though he did not live to perfect) a new policy that reversed the traditions of five hundred years. That is no light task to undertake, and when we consider that since his deposition, now nine years ago, that policy has reaped results undreamed of perhaps by him, we can see how far-sighted his cunning was. To-day it is being followed out by the very combination that deposed him; his aims have been fully justified, and for that precise reason we are right to classify him among the abhorred of mankind. He had an opportunity such as is given to the few, and he made the utmost of it, even as his greater successor on the throne of Turkey for the present, namely Wilhelm II. of Prussia, has done, in the service of the devil. 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant,' must surely have been his well-deserved welcome, when he left the hell he had made on earth for another.
Of all his subjects the Armenians were the most progressive, the most industrious, the most capable. They therefore contributed, according to that perverted foxlike mind, one of the greatest menaces to the stability of his throne, which henceforth should owe its strength to the weakness of those it governed. They, as all the world knows, are a peaceful Christian people, and it was against them that Abdul Hamid directed the policy which he had tested in Europe. The instruments he employed to put it in force were the Kurds, a turbulent shepherd race marching with and mixed up among the Armenians. By this means he had the excuse ready that these massacres were local disturbances among remote and insubordinate tribes, one of whom, however, the Kurds, he armed with modern rifles and caused to be instructed in some elementary military training. Their task was to murder Armenians, their pay was the privilege to rape their girls and their women, and to rob the houses of the men they had killed. The Armenians resisted with at first some small success, upon which Abdul Hamid reinforced the Kurds with regular troops, and caused it to be proclaimed that this was a war of Moslems against the infidel, a Holy War. Moslem fanaticism, ever smouldering and ready to burst into flames, blazed high, and a fury of massacres broke forth against all Armenians, east and west, north and south. The streets of Constantinople ran with their blood, and before Abdul Hamid was obliged by foreign civilised Powers to stop those holocausts, he had so decimated the race that not for at least a generation would they conceivably be a menace again even to that zealous guardian of the supremacy in its own dominions of the Ottoman power. Very unwillingly, when obliged to do so, he whistled off his bands of Kurds, and dismissed them: unwillingly, too, he gave orders that the Armenian hunts which had so pleasantly diverted the sportsmen of Constantinople, must be abandoned: then was decreed a 'close time' for Armenians, the shooting season was over. There is no exaggeration in this: eye-witnesses have recorded how at the close of the business day in Constantinople, shooting parties used literally to go out, and beat the coverts of tenement houses for Armenians, of whom there were at that time in Constantinople some 150,000. But when Abdul Hamid had finished his sport, I do not think more than 80,000 at the most survived. These were saved by the protests of Europe, and perhaps by the knowledge that if all the Armenians were killed, there could never be any more shooting. The Kurds also had lost a considerable number of men, and that was far from displeasing to the yellow-faced butcher of Yildiz. A little blood-letting among those turbulent Kurds was not at all a bad thing.
Here, then, we see defined and at work the new Ottoman policy with regard to its peoples. Hitherto, it had been sufficient to take from them its fill of man-power, and leave the tribe in question to its own devices. There was no objection whatever to its developing the resources of its territory, to its increasing in prosperity and in population. Indeed the central Power was quite pleased that it should do so, for when next the gathering of taxes and youths came round the collectors would find a creditable harvest awaiting them. Such a tribe received no encouragement or help from the Government; that would have been too much to expect, but as long as it kept quiet and obedient it might, without interference, prosper as well as it could. But now, in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, all that was changed; instead of a policy of neglect there was substituted a policy of murder. The state no longer considered itself secure when in various parts of its dominions its subjects showed themselves progressive and industrious. They had to be kept down, and clearly the most efficient way of keeping people down was killing them. Let it not be supposed for a moment that either the first massacre, or any that followed, was the result of local disturbances and fanaticism. It was nothing of the sort: each was arranged and planned at Constantinople, as the official means, invented by the arch-butcher, Abdul Hamid, of maintaining in power the most devilish despotism that has ever disgraced the world. Something had to be done to prevent the alien tribes in Asia slipping out of the noose of Ottoman strangulation, even as the European tribes had done, and forming themselves into separate and independent states. A ruler with progressive ideas, one who had any perception of the internal prosperity which alone can render an empire stable, would have made the attempt to weld his loose and wavering domination together by encouraging and working for the prosperity of its component peoples, so that he might, though late in the day, give birth to a Turkey that was strong, because its citizens were prosperous and content. Not so did Abdul Hamid; the Turkey that he sought to establish was merely to be strong because he had battered into a blood-stained pulp the most progressive and the most industrious of the alien peoples over whom he ruled.
It is significant that, while yet the blood of the murdered Christians was scarcely washed from the streets of Constantinople, the Emperor Wilhelm II. visited his brother-sovereign at Yildiz, after making his tour throughout the Holy Land. The two can hardly, in their intimate conversations, have completely avoided the subject of the massacres; but after all, that was not such an unmanageably awkward topic, for Wilhelm II. could tactfully have reminded Abdul Hamid that his own throne also was based on the murderous progress of the Teutonic Knights. Then there was the war between Turkey and Greece only lately concluded to discuss, and there again--for the Emperor's sister was Crown Princess of Greece--conversation must have been a shade difficult. Altogether, in spite of the Emperor's lifelong desire to visit the Holy Places in Palestine, it was an odd moment for a Christian monarch to visit the butcher of Constantinople. But the truth is that Wilhelm II. had a very strong reason for going to see his brother, for the fruit of German policy in Turkey was already ripening and swelling on the tree, and the minor disadvantages of visiting this murderous tyrant while still his hands were red with blood was more than compensated for by the advantages of having a heart-to-heart talk with him on other subjects. Germany had already begun her peaceful penetration, and the real motive of the Emperor's visit was, after swords and orders had been exchanged, to make the definite request that bodies of colonising Germans should be allowed to settle on the Sultan's dominions in Asia Minor, and a hint no doubt was conveyed that there would be plenty of room for them now that there were so many Armenian farms unfortunately without a master. But, like Uriah Heep, the Emperor had attempted to pluck the fruit before it was ripe, or, to use a more exact simile, before he was tall enough to reach it. In vain he represented to Abdul Hamid the immense advantages which would result to Turkey by the establishment of those Gott-like German settlers in Asia Minor. Out of his colossal egalo-megalomania, of which we know more now, he thought that any request which the All-Highest should deign to make must instantly be granted. But he met with a perfectly flat refusal, and the baffled All-Highest left Constantinople in an exceedingly bad temper, which quite undid all the good that the balm in Gilead and the sacred associations of Jerusalem had done him. It is pleasant to think of the Pan-Islamic merriment with which Abdul Hamid must have viewed the indignant exit of his Christian brother, who had come such a long way to see him, and was so tactful about the Armenian atrocities. He might perhaps--for those Christians were very odd pigs--have expressed horror or remonstrance. Not at all: he was much too anxious to get his request granted, to make himself disagreeable. But did his Christian brother really think that all those massacres over which Abdul Hamid had spent so much time and money, had been arranged in order to settle those nasty progressive Germans in the lands that had been so carefully depopulated? Why, the whole point of them had been that the Armenians were too progressive and prosperous, thus constituting a menace to the central Government, and certainly Abdul Hamid was not meaning to put in their place settlers even more progressive and with a stronger backing behind them. So off went the All-Highest back home again, very much vexed with Abdul Hamid, and possibly (if that was not sacrilegious) with himself for having been in too great a hurry. There was more spade-work to be done yet before Turkey was ripe for open and avowed colonisation by the Fatherland.
The episode, strictly historical, is of a certain importance, for it shows the date at which Wilhelm II. thought that the time had come for Germans to colonise Turkey. The peaceful penetration (which now amounts to perforation) was even then pretty far advanced. But Abdul Hamid seems to have seen the significance of the request, and for some little while after that German influence had a certain set-back in Turkey. The date of this marks an era, and Germany, 'deep patient Germany,' set to work again, in no way discouraged, to set her cancer-nippers in the cancer that already had begun to eat the live tissues round it.
In the year 1908 a military group in Constantinople, styling itself the 'Young Turk' party, seized and deposed Abdul Hamid, and shut him up at Salonika, there to spend the remainder of his infamous days. They put forth a Liberal programme of reformation, one that earned them at the moment the sympathy of civilised Europe (including Germany), and the Balance of Power very mistakenly and prematurely heaved a sigh of relief. For upwards of a century it had maintained in Constantinople the corrupt and bloody autocracy of the Sultans, fearing the European quarrels that would attend the dismemberment of that charnel-house of decay known as the Ottoman Empire, and now (just for the moment) it seemed as if a sudden rally had come to the Sick Man, and he showed signs of returning animation and wholesome vitality. The policy of the Powers, after a century of failure, looked as if it was justifying itself, and they were full of congratulations towards Turkey and each other. But never, in the whole century of their pusillanimous cacklings, had they made a greater mistake.
Whether the Young Turks ever meant well or not, whether there was or was not a grain of sincerity in this profession of their policy, is a disputed question. There are those who say that originally they were prompted by patriotic and high-minded aims, when they proclaimed their object of 'Organisation,' and of reform. But all are agreed that it matters very little what their original aims were, so speedily did their Liberal intentions narrow down to an Ottomanisation such as Adbul Hamid had aimed at, but had been unable to accomplish before his evil sceptre ceased to sway the destinies of his kingdom. In any case this programme earned its authors the sympathy of Europe, and probably this, and no more than this, prompted it. They wished to establish themselves, unquestioned and undisturbed, and did so; and I do not think we shall be far wrong if we take the original Young Turk programme about as seriously as we took the parody of a Parliament with which Abdul Hamid opened (as with a blessing) his atrocious reign. The very next year (1909) they permitted (if they did not arrange) the Armenian massacres at Adana, and the Balance of Power began faintly to wonder whether the Young Turks in their deposition of Abdul Hamid had not slain an asp and hatched a cockatrice. Given that their aims originally were sincere, we can but marvel at the swiftness of the corruption which in little more than a year had begun to lead them not into paths of reform and Liberal policy, but along the road towards which the butcher they had deposed had pointed the way. It must have made Abdul Hamid gnaw his nails and shake impotent hands to see those who had torn him from his throne so soon pursuing the very policy which he invented, and to which he nominally owed his dethronement. Strange, too, was it that his overthrow should come from the very quarter to which he looked for security, for it was on the army that each Sultan in turn had most relied for the stability of his throne. But Abdul Hamid, in order, perhaps, to deal more effectually with the subject races he wished to exterminate, had introduced a system of foreign training for the officers of his army, a course of Potsdam efficiency, and it was just they, on whom Sultans from time immemorial had relied, who knocked the prop of the army away from him. Though publicly, for the edification of Europe his deposers professed a Liberal policy, it was not on account of Armenian massacres that they turned him off his throne, but because of the muddle and corruption and debility of his rule. Herein we may easily trace the hand of Germany, no longer publicly beckoning as when Wilhelm II., just after the first Armenian massacres, made his request of the Sultan for the establishment in Turkey of German colonists, but working underground, sapping and mining like a mole. For Germany, her mind already fixed on securing Turkey as an instrument of her Eastern policy, wanted a strong Turkey, and without doubt desired to bring an end to the disorganisation and decay of the Empire, and create and at the same time interpenetrate an efficient state that should be useful to her. We may take it for granted that she, like the rest of Europe, welcomed any sign of regeneration in the Ottoman Empire, but there was an ulterior purpose behind that. Turkey, already grasped by the Prussian hand, must be in that hand a weapon fit for use, a blade on which she could rely. She strengthened the Turkish army by the introduction of Prussian discipline, and worked on good material. Already she has realised her ambition in this respect, and now controls the material which she then worked on.
The troubled years of the Balkan wars which followed this false dawn, coupled with the loss of all the territory which remained to the Ottoman Empire in Europe, with the exception of Thrace, caused an immediate reaction from the open-minded policy of the Young Turks, if we decide to credit them at the outset with a sincere purpose. Organisation by a slightly different spelling became Ottomanisation, and the aims of the Young Turks were identified with those of the Nationalist party which followed out and developed into a finished and super-fiendish policy the dreams of Abdul Hamid. He, as we have seen, had invented the idea of securing Ottoman supremacy in the Empire, not as before by absorption of the strength of its subject peoples, but by their extermination, and this formed part of the new programme which was to be more efficiently administered. Already, in 1909, the experimental massacre at Adana took place, and the Young Turk party, with its possibly Liberal aims, had become a party that had as its main object a system of tyranny and murder such as the world had never seen. Simultaneously Turkey itself, Nationalist party and all, became enslaved to German influence. Link by link the chains were forged and the manacles welded on, and before the European War broke out in 1914, the incarceration of Turkey in Germany was complete, and Wilhelm II. had a fine revenge for the snub inflicted on him by Abdul Hamid when he proposed the scheme of German colonisation in the lands depopulated by the Armenian massacres of 1895.
From the first the aim of the Nationalists, who thus formed so deadly a blend with the Young Turk party, was Ottomanisation, or the establishment within the Empire of an Ottoman domination which should be pure and undefiled, and in which none of the subject peoples, be they Armenians or Kurds, Arabs or Greeks or Jews, Christian or Moslem, should have any part. The inception of the scheme was no doubt inspired by the example given by Prussia's treatment of the Poles, and Hungary's of Roumans and Slovaks. But in thoroughness of method Prussia's pupil was to prove Prussia's master, for it aimed not merely at expropriation, but extermination, and sought to become strong, not merely by weakening alien elements, but by abolishing them. It did not set this out quite explicitly in its manifestoes and the resolutions of its congresses, but two extracts, the first from the proceedings of the 'Committee of Union and Progress,' held in Constantinople in 1911, have a sinister suggestiveness about them for which the acts and measures of the Committee had already supplied the comment.
'The formation of new parties in the Chamber or in the country must be suppressed, and the emergence of new Liberal ideas prevented. Turkey must become a really Mohammedan country, and Moslem influence must be preponderant. Every other religious propaganda must be suppressed.... Sooner or later the complete Ottomanisation of all Turkish subjects must be effected; it is clear, however, that this can never be attained by persuasion, but that we must resort to armed force.... Other nationalities must be denied the right of organisation, for decentralisation and autonomy are treason to the Turkish Empire.'
Could there be a completer reversion to the policy of Abdul Hamid, than this formal resolution, passed within three years of the time when the Young Turks deposed him? The conviction begins to dawn on one--as it began to dawn on the Balancers of Power--that he owed his downfall not to his illiberal and butcherous policy, but because he was not thorough enough.
The second extract, from a pamphlet by Jelal Noury Bey, may be added, which defines the policy, not with regard to the Christian or Jewish subjects of the Turks, but with regard to the Arabs, Moslem by creed, and the guardians of the Holy Cities.
'It is a peculiarly imperious necessity of our existence for us to Turkise the Arab lands, for the particularistic idea of nationality is awaking among the younger generation of Arabs, and already threatens us with a great catastrophe. Against this we must be fore-armed.'
The design of Ottomanisation soon began to take practical form. Ottomanisation was to be the highest expression of patriotism, and any means which secured it, massacres such as, in 1909, had taken place at Adana, or the treatment accorded to the Greeks and Bulgarians who remained in Thrace after the Balkan wars, were in accordance with the new 'Liberal' gospel. Thrace was the only territory left to the Turks in Europe, and as it was largely populated by Greeks and Bulgarians, it could not be considered as sufficiently Ottomanised. A massacre under the very eyes of Europe was perhaps dangerous, so it sufficed to put the entire non-Turkish population over the frontier and lay hands on their property. In fact this was the first of the 'deportation' schemes which, in 1915, proved so successful with the Armenians, and the effect of it was that neither Greeks nor Bulgarians were left in Thrace. Then followed the expulsion of Greeks from the Mediterranean sea-board, but this was never completely carried out because the European war intervened, and the attention of the Nationalists was claimed by their over-lord. Later, as we shall see, a further deportation of Greeks was begun, but again that was stopped, for Germany saw that it would never do to have her Turkish allies murdering settlers of the same blood as those she hoped would become her allies. Of course, when it was only a question of Armenians she did not interfere.
The design, then, of the new 'Liberal' regime, of which those three measures, the massacres at Adana, the expulsion of Greeks and Bulgarians from Thrace, and of Greeks from the sea-board of the Mediterranean, were early instances, was to restore the absolute supremacy of the Turks in the Ottoman Empire. It was obvious that the problem was one of considerable difficulty, since the Turks at the time composed only some forty per cent, of the whole population. They numbered about 8,000,000, while in the Empire were included about 7,000,000 Arabs, 2,000,000 Greeks, 2,000,000 Armenians, and 3,000,000 more of smaller nationalities, such as Kurds, Druses, and Jews. But the Turks were backed by Germany, and nowadays, since the abolition of the Capitulations, which leaves all alien races unprotected by foreign Powers, such as survive, after the extermination of the Armenians, are completely at the mercy of the Government in Constantinople. All these peoples speak a different language from the Turks, and have a different religion, for the Nationalist party, with a view to the Ottomanisation of the Arabs, have definitely stated that Arab Moslems are not of the true faith, and that their own Allah (in whose name they subsequently exterminated the Armenians) is the God of Love--German equivalent Got--whereas the Arab Allah is the God of vengeance. The sinister motive in this discovery needs no comment, for it is obvious that it releases the Ottoman Government from the prohibition in the Koran, whereby Moslem may not fight against Moslem. Therefore the Arabs were declared not to be true Moslems. Later on, that motive was translated into practical measures.
Among the first tasks with regard to the Arabs that faced the Nationalist party from what we may call the pacific side of their mission was to substitute the Turkish language for Arabic. Kemal Bey, a Nationalist of Salonika, with the help of Ziya Bey, collected round him a group of young writers, and these proceeded to translate the Koran out of Arabic into Turkish, and to publish the prayers for the Caliphate in their own language, and orders went out that these revised versions should be used in all mosques. Turkish was to be the official language for use in all public proclamations, and, with Prussian thoroughness, it was even substituted on such railway tickets as had hitherto been printed in Arabic. The new Turkish tongue (Yeni Lisan) had also to be purged of all foreign words, but here some difficulty was experienced, for Persian and Arabic formed an enormous percentage in the language as hitherto employed, and the promoters of this Ottoman purity of tongue found themselves left with a very jejune instrument for the rhapsodies of their patriotic aims. Poets in especial (for the Nationalists, like all well-equipped founders of romantic movements, had their bards) found themselves in sore straits owing to the limited vocabulary; and we read of one, Mehmed Emin Bey, who was forced to publish his odes in small provincial papers, since no well-established journal would admit so scrannel an expression of views however exalted. But the translation of the Koran was the greatest linguistic feat, and Tekin Alp, the most prominent exponent of Nationalism, refers to it as one of the noblest tasks undertaken by the new movement. It mattered not at all that by religious ordinance the translation of the Koran into any other tongue was a sin. 'The Nationalists,' he tells us, 'have cut themselves off from the superstitious prejudice.' A further attempt was made to substitute Turkish letters for Arabic letters in the alphabet, but this seems to have presented insuperable difficulties, and I gather that it has been abandoned.
Here, then, is the definite statement of the Nationalists' hostility to all things Arab, and we shall see how they translated it into practice. Even Moslems were but cattle for them, as also were Armenians and Greeks and Kurds. Armenians were doomed to be the first complete sacrifice on the bloody altar of the Nationalists, and, as a Turkish gendarme engaged in that sacrifice said to a Danish Red Cross nurse, 'First we kill the Armenians, then the Greeks, and then the Kurds.' And if he had been a Progressive Minister he would certainly have added, 'And then the Arabs.'
It was not only within the present limits of the Ottoman Empire that the Committee of Union and Progress proposed to accomplish their unitive purpose, for after having seen a glorious and exclusive Turkey arise over the depopulated territories of their alien peoples, a vaster vision, for an account of which we are indebted to Tekin Alp, opened before their prophetic eyes. Out of the 10,000,000 inhabitants of Persia they claim that one-third are of true Turkish blood, and in the new Turkey which, so they almost pathetically hope, will be established at the conclusion of the European War by the help of Wilhelm II., those Persian Turks must be incorporated into the true fold of Allah, God of Love. The province of Adarbaijan, for instance, the richest and most enlightened district of Persia, they claim, is entirely Turkish, and here the needful rectification will be made in the new atlases that bear the imprimatur of Potsdam. Similarly, all the country south of the Caucasus must rank as Turkish territory, since the Turks form from fifty to eighty per cent, of the population; all Kazan, for the same reason, is truly Turkish, with the alluvial plains of the Volga, while the Crimea, so Tekin Alp discovers, is also a lost sheep longing for the Turkish fold. All this is Turkey (or Turania) Irredenta, and, may we not add:--
'Jerusalem and Madagascar And North and South Amerikee.'
And then what a glorious future awaits the Power that Europe once thought of as a sick man. 'With the crushing of Russian despotism,' exclaims Tekin Alp, 'by the brave German, Austrian, and Turkish armies, thirty to forty million Turks will receive their independence. With the ten million Ottoman Turks this will form a nation of fifty millions, advancing towards a great civilisation which may perhaps be compared to that of Germany, in that it will have the strength and energy to rise even higher. In some ways it will be even superior to the degenerate French and English civilisations.'
The arithmetic and the enthusiasm of the foregoing paragraph are, of course, those of Tekin Alp, from whose book, The Turkish and Pan-Turkish Ideal, the quotation is made. The work was published in 1915, and, appearing as it did after the beginning of the European War, it is but natural to find in it an expression not only of the Nationalist aims for Turkey, but of the Prussian aims for Turkey, or, to speak more correctly, of the dream which Prussia has induced in a hypnotised Turkey. It sets forth in fact the bait which Prussia has dangled in front of Turkey, the hunger for which has inspired the projected future which is here sketched out; and significantly enough this book has been spread broadcast over Turkey by the agency of German propagandists. The Ottomanisation of the Empire, the vision of its further extension, free from all consideration of subject peoples, was exactly the lure which was most likely to keep the Turks staunch to their Prussian masters. It will be noticed that there is no suggestion of the Turks recovering their lost provinces and kingdoms in Europe, Greece, Bulgaria, Rumania, Servia, and the rest, for it would never do to let Fox Ferdinand awake from his hypnotic sleep of a sort of Czardom over the Balkans, or cease to dangle dreams, that included even Constantinople before the shifty eye of King Constantine So, before Turkey was spread the prospect of appropriating Russian and Persian spoils: Prussia had already given the lost Turkish kingdoms in Europe elsewhere, but would there not be a dismembered Russian Empire to dispose of? The Crimea, the province of Kazan, the province of Trans-Caucasia: all these might be held before Turkey's nose, as a dog has a piece of meat held up before it to make it beg. Then there was the province of Adarbaijan: certainly Turkey might be permitted to promise herself that, without incurring the jealousy of Austria or Bulgaria. Greedily Turkey took the bait. She gulped it down whole, and never considered that there was a string attached to it, or that, should ever the time come when Germany, the conqueror of the world, would be in a position to reward her Allies with the realisation of the dreams she had induced, the string would be pulled, and up, with retchings and vomitings, would come these succulent morsels of Russia and Persia. Indeed these bright pictures flashed on to the sheet as the visions of Nationalists are but the slides in a German magic-lantern, designed to keep Turkey amused, and it was with the same object that Ernst Marré, in his Die Türken und Wir nach dem Kriege, was bidden to make other pictures ready in case Turkey grew fractious or sleepy. 'From the ruins of antiquity,' he says, when speaking of the Ottoman Empire, 'new life will spring, if we can manage to raise the treasures which time and sand have covered.' Then he remembers that he must be less Pan-Germanic for the moment, and dangles the bait again. 'In doing this,' he adds, 'we are benefiting Turkey. The Turkish state is no united whole, and it has always been very difficult to govern. Turks, Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, cannot be welded together. This is a war of liberation for Turkey.... Only by energetic interference, and by "expelling" the obstinate Armenian element could the Ottoman Empire get rid of a Russian domination.... The non-Turkish population of the Ottoman Empire must be Ottomanised.'
There is no need for further quotations, which might be multiplied indefinitely. The Prussian programme is for the moment identical with the Turkish Nationalist programme: Turkey, in order to be kept 'in with' Germany, must be encouraged to dream of depopulated Armenia (that dream has come tragically true) and of annexations in Russia and Persia. All this fitted in with the Turkish programme: Germany had scarcely to inspire, only to encourage. That encouragement she gave, for, simultaneously she was penetrating Turkey as water penetrates a sponge, and reducing it to the position of a vassal state. To keep Turkey happy she allowed the Armenian massacres to run their deadly course, and only interfered with other massacres when they did not suit her purpose. But supposing (to suppose the impossible) that a peace to the European War was dictated by Germany, how much of the future Pan-Turkish programme would be realised? Would there be a Turkey at all? I think not: there would be a Germany in Europe, and a Germany in Asia, where Turkey once was. Indeed, in all but name, they are in existence now; so complete, as we shall see, has been Germany's penetration of the Ottoman Empire. Just for the present she calls herself Turkey in those regions; that is her incognito. But Turkey as an independent Power has already ceased to exist, and Tekin Alp and the Nationalists still dream on with rainbow visions of Ottomanisation, the vistas of which stretch far into Persia and the plains of the Volga. And all the while she has been put out like a candle, and all that is left of her is the smouldering wick ready to be pinched between the horny fingers of her stepmother. There she stands, her stepmother, with her grinning teeth already disclosing the Wolf....
Whatever the end of the European War may be, in no circumstances can the dreams of the Nationalists be realised. Even if Germany and her arms were so victorious that Russia lay at her feet a mere inert carcase ready for the chopper, she would no more dream of giving Russian provinces to an independent Turkey than she would hand over to her Berlin itself. And if, as we know, Germany can never be victorious, will the Allies once more strive to keep the Sick Man alive, or leave in his ruthless power the peoples whom he is longing to exterminate? Even Tekin Alp can hardly expect that.
Here then, in brief, is the policy of New Turkey. Its subject peoples--Armenians, Arabs, Greeks, Kurds, and Jews--are to be totally unrepresented in its councils, though together they number sixty per cent, of the population of the Empire. But they are not only to be unrepresented in Government--they are, if the programme is to be carried conclusively out, to have no existence. In accordance with the plans of the murderous ruffians who to-day administer the Nationalist policy, those of the Armenians who have not fled beyond the frontiers have already been exterminated, and the same fate threatens Arabs, Greeks, and Jews. Hence, when the Allied Governments wrote their joint note to President Wilson, they stated that among their aims in the war was 'the liberation of the peoples who now lie beneath the murderous tyranny of the Turks.' From that avowed determination they will never recede.
NOTE.--It is to be hoped that Tekin Alp's pamphlet, Turks and the Pan-Turkish Ideal, may soon be accessible to English readers. The author is a Macedonian Jew who writes under the pseudonym of Tekin Alp, and his mind is such that he appears to find romance in the idea of a united Turkey purged by indiscriminate massacre from all alien elements. But he sets forth with admirable lucidity the aims of the Nationalist party and the steps already achieved by them in their progress towards their ideal. Already the sequestered ladies of the harem have come out of their retirement and join in the crusade, and not only do men give lectures to women, but 'women mount the platform and address the men.' There are corporations to advance economic organisations, boy-scout centres all over the Empire, and 'intellectual parties' among the guilds of merchants--England and Russia appear as the most virulent foes of Pan-Turkism, 'the colossus of darkest barbarism joined with the colossus of a degenerate civilisation.'
In the second part of his pamphlet Tekin Alp passes on with an enthusiasm which is as sincere as it is pathetic to the vision of a tremendous Turkey, extending from Thrace on the west to the Desert of Gobi on the east. It embraces, as his map shows, Egypt as far south as Victoria Nyanza, Arabia, Persia, the greater part of India, the littoral of the Black Sea, the plains of the Volga, the circuit of the Caspian Sea and the Aral Sea, and in the north-east nearly touches Tomsk. All this naturally is dependent on complete German victory in the war, and, pathetically enough, Tekin Alp appears to think that his ideal Turkey will meet with the approval of Germany. Indeed it is no wonder that his pamphlet is circulated broadcast by German propagandists, for it is precisely what Germany wants Turkey to believe.
The romance of the movement appeals also very strongly to Ziya Gök Alp, the official bard of the butchers of Constantinople. He has written a sort of Ode to Attila, quoted by Tekin Alp, which is a fine frenzy in favour of barbarism. This preposterous poem begins:
'I do not read the famous deeds of my ancestors in the dead, faded, dusty leaves of the history books, but in my own veins, in my own heart. My Attila, my Huns, those heroic figures which stand for the proud fame of my race, appear in those dry pages to our malicious and slanderous age as covered with shame and disgrace, while in reality they are no less than Alexander and Caesar,' etc. etc.
I have been at present unable to ascertain whether it is true that the German Emperor has set it to music, under the impression that it refers to him and the German armies. It is very popular in Prussia, which need arouse no surprise.
We have traced in brief the backward progress of Ottoman domination, and have seen how, from the rough and ready methods of a military barbarism, the Turks evolved a more emphatic and a more highly organised negation of all those principles which we may sum up under the general term of civilisation. The comparatively humane neglect of the unfortunate alien peoples herded within the frontiers of earlier Sultans was improved upon by Abdul Hamid, who struck out the swifter and superior methods of maintaining the dominating strength of the Turkish element in the kingdom not by the absorption of subject peoples, but by their extermination. This in turn, this new and effective idea, served as a first sketch of an artist with regard to his finished picture, and starting with that the Nationalist party enlarged and elaborated it into that masterpiece of massacre which they exhibited to the world in the years 1915 and 1916 of the Christian Era, when from end to end of the Empire there flashed the signal for the extermination of the Armenian race. Abdul Hamid was but tentative and experimental as compared to their systematised thoroughness, but then the Nationalist party had learned thoroughness under the tutelage of its Prussian masters. And in addition to instruction they had had the advantage of seeing how Prussian firmness, with the soothing balm of Kultur to follow, had dealt with the now-subject remnant of Belgians. That was the way to treat subject people: 'the first care of a state is to protect itself,' as Enver and Talaat could read in the text-books now translated into Turkish, in copies, maybe, presented to them by their Master in Berlin, and Turkey could best show the proof of her enlightenment and regeneration, by following in the footsteps of Prussian Kultur. Perhaps a few thousand innocent men might suffer the inconvenience of having their nails torn out, of being bastinadoed to death, of being shot, burned or hanged, perhaps a few thousand girls and women might die by the wayside in being deported to 'agricultural colonies,' might fall victims to the lusts of Turkish soldiers, or have babes torn from their wombs, but these paltry individual pains signified nothing compared to the national duty of 'suffering the state to run no risks.' As one of this party of Union and Progress said, 'The innocent of to-day may be the guilty of to-morrow,' and it was therefore wise to provide that for innocent and guilty alike there should be no to-morrow at all. Years before the statesmanship of Abdul Hamid had prophetically foreseen the dawning of this day, when he remarked 'The way to get rid of the Armenian question is to get rid of the Armenians,' and temporarily for twenty years he did get rid of the Armenian question. But when, in 1915, Talaat Bey completed his arrangements for a further contribution to the solution of the same problem, he said, 'After this, there will be no Armenian question for fifty years.' As far as we can judge, he rather under-estimated the thoroughness of his arrangements.
The history of its solution falls under two heads, of which the first concerns the manner in which it was solved in Armenia itself, where the population was almost exclusively Armenian, both in towns and in the country. Here the eastern and north-eastern frontiers of Turkey, across which lie the province of Russian Trans-Caucasia and Persia, pass through the middle of districts peopled by men of Armenian blood, and when, in the autumn of 1914, the Turks made their entry into the European War, their eastern armies, operating against Russia, found themselves confronted by troops among whom were many Armenians, while in their advance into the Persian province of Adarbaijan, there were in the ranks of their opponents, Armenians and Syriac Christians. They advanced in fact, in the first weeks of the war, into a country largely peopled with men of the same blood as those on their own side of the frontier. Though the edict had not yet come from Constantinople for the massacre of the Armenians (Talaat Bey did not complete his arrangements till the following April), the slaughter of them began then, first in the advance of the Turkish armies, and following on that movement, which lasted but a few weeks, in their subsequent retreat before the Russians. All villages through which the Turkish armies passed were plundered and burned, all the inhabitants on whom the Turks could lay their hands were killed. Sometimes women and children were given to the Kurds, who formed bands of irregular troops in conjunction with the Turkish army, and these were outraged before they were slaughtered. A price was put on every Christian head, and in the Turkish retreat the corpses were thrust into the wells in order to pollute them. The excuse for this, as given by German apologists (not apologists, perhaps, so much as supporters and adherents of the policy), was that since behind the Turkish lines the country was populated by a race of the same blood as that through which they advanced, and then retreated, extermination was necessary in order to prevent or to punish treachery and collusion. But I have been nowhere able to find that there were instances of such, nor that the Turks put forward that excuse themselves. Indeed it would have been an unnecessary explanation, for but a few months after the opening of the war, Talaat Bey's plans were complete, and the extermination of Armenians hundreds of miles from any sphere of military operations rendered it needless to say anything about it, or to invent instances of treachery if there were actually none to hand.
Simultaneously the massacre of Armenians behind the Turkish lines began. The whole male population of the district round Bitlis was murdered, so too were all males in Bitlis itself. Then all women and children were driven in, as a herdsman might drive sheep, from the reeking villages round, and, for purposes of convenience, concentrated in Bitlis. When they were all collected, they were driven in a flock to the edge of the Tigris, shot, and the corpses were thrown into the river. That was the solution of the Armenian question in Bitlis.
North-west of Bitlis, and some sixty miles distant, lies the town of Mush. It used to contain about 25,000 Armenian inhabitants, and in the district round there were some three hundred villages chiefly consisting of Armenians. Arrangements were on foot for a general massacre there when the arrival of Russian troops at Liz, some fifteen hours' march away, caused the execution of it to be put off for a while, and up till July a few folk only had been shot, and a few beaten to death, as a warning to those treacherously inclined. Then the Russians, in the face of superior forces, had to retire again, and the massacres were put on a systematic footing. The account which follows is based on four independent authorities: (1) The statement of a German eye-witness in Mush in charge of an Armenian orphanage; (2) the statement of a woman deported from a village near, and subsequently killed by Kurds; (3) information from refugees escaped to Trans-Caucasia; (4) the journal Horizon of Tiflis. These supplement each other, often verify each other, and in no instance are contradictory.
Rumours of an impending massacre reached Mush before the end of 1914, at a time when the massacres across the frontier had begun. The Mutessarif of Mush, an intimate friend of Enver Pasha, had openly declared that 'at an opportune moment' the slaughter of the whole Armenian race was contemplated, and later Ekran Bey corroborated this in the presence of the American and German Consuls. Enver indeed seems to have been the chief organiser with regard to the massacres in Armenia itself, while Talaat Bey saw to the fate of those dispersed in towns throughout the rest of Turkey. During the whole of that winter, a very severe one, signs of the approaching extermination multiplied. In the villages round fresh taxes were introduced, and when Armenians were unable to pay they were beaten to death, while, if they resisted, the village in question was burned. But by July 1915 (after the unavoidable delay caused by the proximity of Russian troops) all was ready, and the massacre began in earnest.
Four battalions of Turkish troops arrived from Constantinople, and an order was given that all Armenians must leave the town within three days, after 'registering themselves' at the Government office. The women and children were to remain, but their money and their property would be confiscated. Within two hours after that, owing, I suppose, to fresh orders from Constantinople, the guns opened fire on the crowds in the streets flocking to the registry offices, and after that systematic house-to-house murder began. Prominent Armenians were tortured to death, houses containing women and children were set on fire, a body of men collected together was thrown into the river, girls were outraged and slaughtered. For two days the massacre continued, and by the end of the second day the Armenian question was solved as regards Mush.
In the surrounding villages the same Prussian thoroughness was observed, and out of all the inhabitants of the plain 5000 only seemed to have survived, who fled to Sasun (there to be subsequently massacred in 1916), while a few from outlying villages escaped to the Russian troops. In certain villages the girls and young women were given to the Kurd soldiery, who raped them publicly in the presence of their families, not sparing girls of eight and ten years of age, who then, bleeding and violated, were shot in company with the old women, for whom the Kurds (inspired by Allah, the God of Love) had no use. Elsewhere, as the story of a deported woman from Kheiban tells us, the women guarded by Kurdish troops were driven out of their villages, leaving behind the corpses of the men and of old women who could not walk, and for days were marched along the roads, nearly naked, under the fierce heat of the July sun. Once every other day they were given bread, but all did not get it, and many fell exhausted by the wayside, and were either whipped to their feet again or allowed to lie down and die. As they passed through villages Kurds would come out and rape a girl or two, and when they halted at night their guards would come among them.... Some few escaped; the rest, in dwindling company, went on through days of blinding sun and nights of shame till at last there were only a few remaining. It was not worth while going farther, for the work of Enver Pasha was nearly done, and the rest were pushed into the river. One alone survived, who could swim, and she, with her two-year-old baby on her back, got across the stream and made her way to a village where were a party of Armenians who had escaped massacre. She arrived there at midnight, and at first they thought she was a ghost. To them she told her story of the outraged and ever-dwindling caravan of helpless women and girls driven onwards all day beneath the smiting arrows of the sun, and encamped by the wayside, where they halted with their barbarous guards and their lusts for a terror by night. Of them none but this one was left, who had carried her baby with her every step of that infernal pilgrimage. Two days afterwards he died from want of nourishment, and before the week was out the mother fell into the hands of a body of patrolling Kurds, and was killed.
So the problem of the village of Kheiban was solved, and if in the history of the crimes that have blackened the earth with wanton cruelty and made God to hide His face, there is any so atrocious a tale, I do not know it. But if among the annals of heroism and of mother-love we want to find a nobler record than that of this woman of Kheiban, equally am I at a loss as to where we should look for it. Among the true and golden legends of the world shall that which she did be inscribed for a memorial of her.
Northward from Mush, and Bitlis lies the province of Erzerum, with the town of the same name, that contained in the autumn of 1914 some 20,000 Armenians. Here the first hint of coming trouble was the order that all Armenian soldiers serving in Turkish ranks should be disarmed. This was followed in June by another order that all the inhabitants of the hundred villages in the district should leave their homes at two hours' notice. They numbered between 10,000 and 15,000 persons. Of these a few took refuge with friendly Kurds, but of the remainder a few only lived to reach Erzinjan, where they were again deported, and the rest were murdered as they marched. In Erzerum itself orders were received by Tahsin Bey, the Vali of the town, that all Armenians were to be killed without distinction of age or sex. He refused to carry this order out, but his unwillingness was overruled. Simultaneously, the German Consul telegraphed protests to his Ambassador at Constantinople, and was told that Germany could not interfere in the internal affairs of Turkey.
The convoy numbered, when it left Baiburt, some 15,000 persons, and it reached Erzinjan in safety. There the massacres had already taken place, and the women and children had been deported, for they found no Armenians there. But the convoy had not yet arrived at its goal, and it started out again moving south by east till it came to Kamakh. There bands of Kurds descended on them, and in the space of seven days every male above fifteen years of age, including an aged priest of ninety, was killed. Thereafter a pilgrimage of women, as from Kheiban, moved southwards across plain and mountain, and every day its numbers were diminished, for the youthful and the good-looking were carried off by brigands. At night they were halted outside villages, and the gendarmes and villagers took what they chose. Many died from hunger and heat-stroke: others were left by the wayside. When they came to the banks of the river Kara-Su there was a debauch of horror. Women and girls and little children were raped and mutilated, and the children who still survived were thrown into the river. Those who could swim were shot. Thereafter the movements of this caravan are hard to trace. Probably there was then but little left of it. But others followed on the same route 'through fields and hillsides dotted with swollen and blackened corpses that filled and fouled the air with their stench.' Some of them reached Mosul, some reached Aleppo, another collecting station, where, by the mouth of other witnesses, we shall hear of them again.
Corroborative and additional evidence is given by the Danish Red Cross nurses who, with a noble disregard of their own safety, accompanied one of these caravans from Erzerum to Erzinjan. They speak of the massacres at Kamakh, of the killing by the river, and of a battue through the cornfields, where the wheat was high, into which some Armenians had escaped. At one time these Danish Sisters were in the charge of a gendarme who had superintended a massacre of 3000 women and children driven from their homes into the country, rounded up and killed. He told the Sisters that this was the best method of getting rid of them, for they should be made to suffer first, and besides it would be inconvenient for Moslems to live in a village with so many corpses about. At another place they came to a shambles, where Armenian soldiers, deprived of their arms, and sent to make roads, had been slaughtered: at another there were three gangs of labourers, one Moslem, one Greek, and one Armenian. These latter were guarded. Presently, as they proceeded along their road, they looked round and saw that the Armenian gang was being formed up by itself, a little off the highroad....
And so the ghastly record went on all over Armenia. At one place only, the town of Van, was any resistance organised. There, after the massacre had begun, some 1500 Armenians got hold of arms (probably many of these men were soldiers who had not yet had their arms taken from them), and for the space of twenty-seven days defended themselves against five thousand Turkish troops, till the Russian advance relieved them. During that advance Armenian refugees, into whose districts the massacres had not yet penetrated, fled for refuge to the invading army, and in all some 250,000 Armenians under its protection crossed in safety the Russian frontier into Trans-Caucasia. How many died on the way from hunger and exhaustion is not known. Cholera, dysentery, and spotted fever broke out among them, and the path of their passage was lined with dead and dying. Companies of Kurds made descents upon them, taking toll of their maidenhood, but, with the Russian line to protect them at their rear, they struggled on out of the cemetery and brothel of their native country, and out of the accursed confines of that hell on earth, the Ottoman Empire, leaving behind them the murdered myriads of their husbands and their sons, their violated wives and daughters. Through incredible hardships they passed, but, unlike the other pilgrimages we have briefly traced, they moved not towards death, but towards safety and life, and their dark steps were lightened with Hope.
Before the last of those who survived the hunger and the pestilence of that pilgrimage had reached Russian soil, it is probable that in all Armenia there was not a man of their race left alive, nor a woman either unless she had accepted Islamism and the life of the harem. A peaceful and progressive nation had been wiped out with every accompaniment of horror and cruelty and bestial lust, and in Armenia itself there would never more be an Armenian question. Abdul Hamid had hinted at the solution of it, and had made, as we have seen, experiments in that direction; but it was reserved for Enver Pasha and Talaat Bey, enlightened men of the Young Turk party, with the advantages of a Prussian example, to complete the work. Already Enver had said that he would never rest until the last Armenian in the Ottoman Empire had been killed, and before the end of 1915, as far as Armenia itself went, he was able to see a reasonable prospect of repose before him. But there was much work still left to do in other provinces.
We have seen that for the extirpation of Armenians in Armenia proper, the excuse put forward, if not by the Turks themselves, by their German apologists, was the necessity of guarding against treachery in the vicinity of the Turkish army, and against spying and collusion between the Armenians behind the Russian lines and those behind Turkish lines. The same pretext was put forward for the massacres and deportations from Thrace, from Constantinople, and from the shores of the Sea of Marmora. Here, if anywhere, there may be thought to be some justification for measures which might have been undertaken for the sake of public safety. At any rate, there were definite charges brought against Armenians in these districts, and the Armenian boatmen of Silivri, for instance, were imprisoned, but not, as far as I know, massacred, on the charge of revictualling English submarines, which at that time, as the reader will remember, had penetrated into the Sea of Marmora, and indeed had reached Constantinople itself. It is not, of course, consonant with Turkish or Prussian justice to substantiate charges before inflicting penalties, it is sufficient in the new World-justice to accuse. But here round Constantinople, there was some pretence at procedure before resorting to murder and deportation. A register was drawn up of all Armenians resident in the capital, dividing into separate classes those who were born in Constantinople, and those who were immigrants from Armenia, with a view to deporting those who were not native to the city. Here, I think, we may see traces of the Prussian instinct for tabulation, for classification, for category-mongering. Enver and his colleagues lost patience with these dilatory tactics. The Armenians of the province of Brussa were deported wholesale, and long before the registration lists of Constantinople were finished, all Armenians were moved out of the town. Ten thousand males were massacred in the mountains of Ismid, and the Armenian women and children taken into collecting stations for deportation to 'agricultural colonies' (so the phrase ran in the Pecksniff language of Prussia) situated in the Anatolian desert, in the desert of Arabia, and in malarious marshes on the Euphrates. With this clearing out of Armenians from Thrace, from Constantinople, and from Armenia itself, we have finished with our first class of the Armenian atrocities. For it reasons were at least invented by German apologists. Military necessities, which here, as in Belgium, knew no law, dictated it; the frightfulness involved was incidental to War. But such considerations were not even alleged for the second class of the murder-scheme. Before passing on, it will be well to review, quite shortly, the reasons which dictated it, and penetrate into the infernal councils of Enver Pasha and Talaat Bey.
The text of the scheme is to be found in the defined policy of the Young Turk party as set forth in their Congress of 1911. 'Turkey must become a really Mohammedan country, and Moslem ideas and Moslem influence must be preponderant.... Sooner or later the complete Ottomanisation of all Turkish subjects must be effected: it is clear, however, that this can never be attained by persuasion, but that we must resort to armed force.'
There is the text that was expanded into the discourse of murder; it is the definition of a policy. Within a few years there followed the European War, and that probably was the immediate cause of its being put into effect. No more admirable opportunity for Ottomanisation could present itself, for the entry of Turkey into the war was most unpopular with the bulk of the Turkish population, and it was advisable to bribe them into acceptance of it. The bribe was the houses, the property, the money and the trade that throughout the length and breadth of Turkey was in Armenian hands. For the Armenians were by far the wealthiest of the alien populations, and some 90 per cent. of Turkish trade passed through their shops and offices. Here, then, was the psychological moment: Turkey for the Turk was the aim of the Committee of Union and Progress, and with a discontented population, unwilling to fight, the moment had come for restoring to the Turk this mass of property which at present belonged to an alien race. War might have its drawbacks and its clouds, but war would be seen to have its advantages and its silver linings, if out of it there came this legacy of Armenian wealth. And by the same stroke Turkey could get rid of those thousands of meddlesome missionaries, American and French, who spread religion and learning and other undesirable things among the cursed race. Once remove the cursed race, and there would be an end of their instructors also, for there would be none to instruct. 'Thanks to their schools,' so we read in the Hilal, an organ of the Young Turks, 'foreigners were able to exercise great moral influence over the young men of the country.... By closing them (i.e. by exterminating their pupils) the Government has put an end to a situation as humiliating as it was dangerous.'
Such, then, was the spirit that animated Enver and Talaat, and during the winter of 1914-15 they perfected their plans. The Armenian race was to cease, and the Valis and other officials were, each in his district, to see to the thoroughness of its cessation. Sometimes, as happened at Erzerum, the Vali in question, not having the broad out-look of Enver, or quaintly and curiously having a womanish objection to the national duty of flogging men to death and giving over young girls to a barbarous soldiery, remonstrated with the authorities, or even refused to obey orders. Such a one was instantly removed from his office, and a stauncher patriot substituted. All was put on an orderly footing: here Kurds were to be employed on the old Abdul Hamid formula, who by way of wage would enjoy the privilege of raping as many women and girls out of their hapless convoy as seemed desirable, while in agricultural districts they were allowed also to take over the sheep and cattle of their murdered victims. Here, in towns where there was more chance of resistance than in scattered homesteads, it would be wise to employ regular troops, backed, if necessary, by artillery, to whom would be entrusted the murder of the whole male population, after suitable tortures, supposing the executioners had a taste for the sport, and to them was given the right of general plunder. Then, as soon as the number and capacity of the vacant houses were telegraphed to Constantinople, occupiers from the discontented townsfolk and natives of Thrace were assigned to them. Sometimes there would be a big school building to give away as well, but that was not always so, for it might be more convenient to assemble Armenians there for purposes of registration or so forth, and then, if it happened to catch fire, why Enver would understand that such accidents would occur. Among other careful and well-thought-out instructions came the order that, when possible, the murders should not take place in the town, but outside it, for clean Allah-fearing Moslems would not like to live in habitations defiled by Christian corpses. But, above all, there must be thoroughness; not a man must be left alive, not a girl nor a woman who must not drag her outraged body, so long as breath and the heart-beat remained in it, to, or rather towards those 'agricultural colonies,' as Talaat Bey, in a flash of whimsical Prussian humour, called them. One was advantageously situated in the middle of the Anatolian desert at the village of Sultanieh. There, for miles round, stretched the rocks and sands of a waterless wilderness, but no doubt the women and children of this very industrious race would manage to make it wave with cornfields. Another agricultural colony, by way of contrast, should be established a couple of days' journey south of Aleppo, where the river loses itself in pestilential and malarious swamps. Arabs could not live there, but who knew whether those hardy Armenians (the women and children, of them at least who had proved themselves robust enough to reach the place) would not flourish there out of harm's way? After the swamps one came to the Arabian desert, and there, a hundred miles south-east, was a place called Deir-el-Zor; wandering Arab tribes sometimes passed through it, but, arrived there, the Armenians should wander no more. In those arid sands and waterless furnaces of barren rock there was room for all and to spare. Sultanieh, the swamps, and Deir-el-Zor: these were the chief of Talaat Bey's agricultural colonies.
There must be collecting stations for these tragic colonists, centres to which they must be herded in from surrounding districts: one at Osmanieh, let us say, one at Aleppo, one at Ras-el-Ain, one at Damascus. And since it would be a pity to let so many flowers of girlhood waste their sweetness on the desert air of Deir-el-Zor, slave markets must be established at these collecting stations. There would be plenty of girls, and prices would be low, but the reverend ministers of Allah the God of Love, the Ulemas, the Padis and the Muftis, should be accorded a preferential tariff. Indeed they should pay nothing at all; they should just choose a girl and take her away, and, with the help of Allah the God of Love, convert her to the blessed creed. No one was too young for these lessons.... A little abstemiousness would not hurt these pampered Christians, so when they set out on their marches they need not be provided with rations or water. Perhaps some might die, but Talaat had no use for weaklings at his agricultural colonies. Nor must there be any poking and prying on the part of those interfering American missionaries; and so Talaat Bey put all the agricultural colonies out of bounds for foreigners....
There was no hurry over these deportations, for the plea of military exigencies, which had caused the deportations in Armenia itself to be terminated by massacre with a rapidity almost inartistic, did not apply to Armenians so far from the seat of war. Their picnics could be conducted quietly and pleasantly in the leisurely Oriental manner. Even the men need not be murdered absolutely out of hand. Strong young fellows might be stripped and tied down and then beaten to death by bastinadoing the feet till they burst, or by five hundred blows on the chest and stomach. Their cries would mingle with the screams of their sisters in the embrace of Turkish soldiers. And, talking of embraces, if a woman was desirable, she need not walk all the way to Deir-el-Zor, but by embracing Islamism be transferred to a harem. But these were details that might be left to individual taste: there were no precise instructions save that no Armenian men must be discoverable in the Ottoman Empire at all, and no women save those who had become Turkish women, or who were at work on the waterless and the malarial agricultural colonies.
Talaat Bey reviewed his finished scheme. He thought it would do, and Enver Pasha agreed with him, and Jemal Bey (who soon after styled himself Jemal the Great), the Military Governor of Syria, and so responsible for the last stages of their pilgrimage, thought it would do very well indeed. And instructions were sent out to every town in the Empire where there were Armenians, in accordance with the programme of Talaat Bey.
How Enver carried out his part of the programme in Armenia itself we have seen, and by the end of the year (1915) his work was done, and Armenia was Armenia no longer. But operations, as I have said, were conducted in a more leisurely manner elsewhere, and the agony of that butchery protracted. But Jemal got to work at once in the thickly populated district round Zeitun. He had had no success in the campaign of the winter in the direction of the Suez Canal, and his troops were hungry for some sort of victory. The Zeitunlis were hardy independent mountaineers, who were possessed of arms, and Jemal thought it more prudent not to dally with deportations, but conduct a regular campaign against them. For two or three months they resisted, entrenching themselves in the hills, but they could not hold out against artillery and the modern apparatus of war, and the whole tribe was wiped out. That done, Jemal became Jemal the Great by reason of his national services, and paid a visit to Germany. On his return we shall hear of him again.
Meanwhile, from all the reports that have arrived from missionaries and others, we may take one or two, almost at random. At certain places, as in the governments of Ismid, Angora and Diarbekr, the Armenian population was completely wiped out. Sometimes tortures were added, as at a certain Anatolian town where there was a big Armenian school, in which a number of professors and instructors, some of whom had studied in America, in Scotland, and in Germany, had for years been working.
What happened to them was this:--
(1) Professor A served the College thirty-five years, and taught Turkish and history. He was arrested without charge, the hair of his head and beard were pulled out in order to secure damaging confessions. He was starved and hung up by the arms for a day and a night and repeatedly beaten. He was then murdered.
(2) Professor B, who had served the College thirty-three years, and taught mathematics, suffered the same fate.
(3) Professor C, head of the preparatory department, had served the College for twenty years. He was made to witness the spectacle of a man being beaten almost to death, and became mentally deranged. He was murdered with his family.
(4) Professor D, who taught mental and moral sciences, was treated in the same way as Professor A. He also had three finger nails pulled out by the roots, and was subsequently murdered.
Similarly, at Diarbekr, the Armenians were collected in batches of 600, taken out of the town, and killed to the last man. Among them was the Armenian Archbishop; his eyes and nails were dragged out before he was butchered.
Or let us take a look at some of the collecting camps. At one, described by an eye-witness, we find that the convoy had arrived after several months of travel. More than half were already dead, they had been pillaged by bandits and Kurds seven times. They were forbidden to drink water when they passed by a stream, three-quarters of the young women and girls had been kidnapped, the rest were compelled to sleep with the gendarmes who conducted them. At Osmanieh it was decided to deport the women and children by train. They lay about the station starving and fever-stricken. When the train arrived many were jostled on to the line, and the driver yelled with joy, crying out, 'Did you see how I smashed them up?'
At another camp typhus broke out; those who died of it were left unburied, as vouched for by a Turkish officer, in order to increase the infection....
Urfa was another collecting camp for the Armenians in that district, and the following account is based on the information of an eye-witness. Here, before the concentration began, the Armenians living in the town offered resistance to the Turks, and held out until Fahri Bey, second in command to Jemal the Great, arrived with artillery, bombarded the town, and massacred every Armenian there. Quiet being thus restored, the bands of deported began to arrive. They came by rail or on foot, and, with the Prussian love of tabulation, were divided into three groups.
The first group consisted of old men, old women, and young children. They, guarded by gendarmes, were sent marching through the desert to Deir-el-Zor. Few, if any, ever arrived there, all dying by the way.
The second group, consisting of able-bodied men, was led off in batches and slaughtered. Among them were Zohrab and Vartkes, Armenian deputies who had been brought there from Constantinople.
The third group consisted of young marriageable girls. Some, perhaps, found their way into harems.
From Aleppo (one of the final concentration camps before such as were left of the convoys set forth for their goal, the swamps or the desert round Deir-el-Zor) we have the detailed evidence of Dr. Martin Niepage, High Grade teacher in the German Technical School. This gentleman, with a courage and a humanity to which the highest tribute must be paid, addressed a report of protest to the German Ambassador at Constantinople, and wrote an open letter to the Reichstag on the subject of what he had seen with his own eyes in that town. In his preliminary matter he speaks as follows:--
'In dilapidated caravanserais I found quantities of dead, many corpses being half-decomposed, and others still living among them who were soon to breathe their last. In other yards I found quantities of sick and dying people, whom nobody was looking after.... We teachers and our pupils had to pass them every day. Every time we went out we saw through the open windows their pitiful forms, emaciated and wrapped in rags. In the morning our school children, on their way through the narrow streets, had to push past the two-wheeled ox-carts on which every day, from eight to ten rigid corpses without coffin or shroud, were carried away, their arms and legs trailing out of the vehicle.'
From the report itself:--
'Out of convoys which, when they left their homes on the Armenian plateau, numbered from two to three thousand men, women, and children, only two or three hundred survivors arrived here in the south. The men were slaughtered on the way, the women and girls, with the exception of the old, the ugly and those who are still children, have been abused by Turkish soldiers and officers.... Even when they are fording rivers they do not allow those dying of thirst to drink. All the nourishment they receive is a daily ration of a little meal sprinkled on their hands.... Opposite the German Technical School at Aleppo, a mass of about four hundred emaciated forms, the remnant of such convoys, is lying in one of the caravanserais. There are about a hundred children (boys and girls) among them, from five to seven years old. Most of them are suffering from typhoid and dysentery. When one enters the yard, one has the impression of entering a madhouse. If one brings food, one notices that they have forgotten how to eat.... If one gives them bread, they put it aside indifferently. They just lie there quietly waiting for death.'
Dr. Niepage wrote this report in the hope of saving such as then (1915) survived. No notice whatever was taken of it, and his postscript, written in May 1916, records the fact that 'the exiles encamped at Ras-el-Ain on the Bagdad Railway, estimated at 20,000 men, women and children, were slaughtered to the last one.'
Before the end of 1915 the German authorities, who had refused to interfere in the massacres, and both in the official press and through official utterances had expressed their support of this Ottomanisation of the Empire, began to think that you might have too much of a good thing, and that the massacres had really gone far enough. Their reason was clear and explicit: there would be a very serious shortage of labour in the beet-growing industry and in the harvest-fields, for which they had sent grain and artificial manures from Germany. There had been some talk, they said, of saving 500,000 Armenians out of the race, but, in the way things were going on, it seemed that the remnant would not nearly approach that figure. Would not the great Ottomanisers temper their patriotism with a little clemency? Talaat Bey disagreed: he wanted to make a complete job of it, but Jemal the Great, fresh from his visit to Germany, supported the idea, and, in spite of Talaat's opposition, made a spectacular exhibition of clemency, in which, beyond doubt, we can trace an 'Imitatio Imperatoris,' in the following manner.
There was at the time a large convoy of men and women in Constantinople which was to be led out for murder and deportation, and Jemal gave orders that it should be spared and sent back to its highland home. He gave orders also that the entire convoy should be informed who was their saviour, and should be led in procession past his house and show their gratitude. All day the sorry pageant lasted, the ragged, half-starved crowd streamed by the house of Jemal the Great, with murmurs of thanksgiving and uplifted hands, and all manner of obeisances, while Jemal the Great stood in his porch with stern, impassive face, and hand on his sword-hilt in the best Potsdam manner, and acknowledged these thanksgivings....
There had been some talk that at certain of these concentration camps there was no water supply, and he gave orders, did Jemal the Great and the Merciful, that water should be sent. A train consisting of trucks of water accordingly was despatched to one of those camps, situated in the desert, with no supply nearer than six miles, and an eye-witness describes its arrival. The mob of Armenians, mad with thirst, surrounded it, and, since everything must be done in an orderly and seemly manner, were beaten back by the Turkish guards, and made to stand at a due distance for the distribution. And when those ranks, with their parched throats and sun-cracked lips, were all ready, the Turkish guards opened the taps of the reservoirs, and allowed the whole of their contents to run away into the sand. Whether Jemal the Great planned that, or whether it was but a humorous freak on the part of the officials, I cannot say. But as a refinement of cruelty I have, outside the page of Poe's tales, only once come across anything to equal it, and that in a letter from the Times' correspondent at Berne on April 11, 1917. He describes the treatment of English prisoners in Germany: 'An equally common entertainment with those women (German Red Cross nurses) was to offer a wounded man a glass, perhaps, of water, then, standing just outside his reach, to pour it slowly on the ground.' Could those sisters of mercy have read the account of Jemal's clemency, or is it merely an instance of the parallelism of similar minds?
So the empty train returned, and Jemal the Great caused it to be known in Berlin that he was active in securing a proper water supply for the famous agricultural settlements in the desert, and loud were the encomiums in the press of the Central Powers over the colonisation of Syria by the Armenians, the progress and enlightenment of the Turks, and the skilful and humane organisation of Jemal the Great.
There is no difficulty in estimating to-day the number of Armenian men who survive in the Turkish Empire. All appeals to the Prussian overlords, such as were made by Dr. Niepage, and the belated remonstrance of the Prussians themselves when they foresaw a dearth of labour for the husbandry of beet and cereals, fell on deaf ears, and I cannot see any reason for supposing that Armenian men exist any more in the Empire. It is more difficult to judge of the numbers of women who, by accepting the Moslem creed and the harems, are still alive. Certainly in some districts there were considerable 'conversions,' and Dr. Niepage rates them as many thousands. But the willingness to accept those conditions was not always a guarantee for their being granted, and I have read reports where would-be converts were told that 'religion' was a more serious matter than that, and, instead of being accepted, they were massacred. But even if Dr. Niepage is right, we can scarcely consider these women as constituting an Armenian element any more in the country. The work of butchery, the torture, the long-drawn agonies of those inhuman pilgrimages have come to an end because there are no more Armenian victims available. Apart from those who escaped over the Russian frontier, and the handful who sought refuge in Egypt, the race exists no longer, and the seal has been set on the bloodiest deed that ever stained the annals of the barbarous Osmanlis. It is not in revenge on the murderers, but in order to rescue the other subject peoples, Arabs, Greeks, Jews, who are still enclosed within the frontiers of the Empire, that the Allied Governments, in their answer to President Wilson, stated that among their aims as belligerents, was the 'liberation of the peoples who now lie beneath the murderous tyranny of the Turks.' There is defined their irreducible demand: never again, after peace returns, will the Turk be allowed to control the destinies of races not his own. Too long already--and to their disgrace be it spoken--have the civilised and Christian nations of Europe tolerated at their very doors a tyranny that has steadily grown more murderous and more monstrous, because they feared the upset of the Balance of Power. Now at least such Powers as value national honour, and regard a national promise as something more than a gabble of ink on a scrap of paper, have resolved that they will suffer the tyranny of the Turk over his alien subject peoples to continue no longer. It is the least they can do (and unhappily the most) to redeem the century-long neglect of their duty. Even now, as we shall see in a subsequent chapter, the direst peril threatens those other peoples who at present groan under Turkish rule, and we can but pray that the end of the war will come before Arabs or Greeks or Jews suffer the same fate as has exterminated the Armenians. Too often have we been too late; we must only hope that another item will not have to be added to that miserable list, and that, when the day of reckoning comes, no half-hearted and pusillanimous policy will stay our hands from the complete execution of that to which we stand pledged. The Balance of Power has gone the way of other rickety makeshifts, but there must be no makeshift in our dealings with the Turk, no compromise and no delay. What shall be done with those who planned and executed the greatest massacres known to history matters little; let them be hanged as high as Haman, and have done with them. But what does matter is that at no future time must it be in the power of a Government that has never been other than barbaric and butcherous, to do again as it has done before.
NOTE ON JEMAL THE GREAT
Jemal the Great has very obligingly done what I suggested we might expect him to do, and has kicked against the German control of the Syrian army. General von Falkenhayn was sent to take supreme command, and on June 28th of this year Jemal the Great refused to receive orders from him. In consequence General von Falkenhayn refused responsibility for any offensive movement there if Jemal remained in command.
This promised well for trouble between Turks and Germans, but we must not, I am afraid, build very high hopes on it, for Germany has dealt with the situation in a masterly manner. Jemal was already Minister of Marine as well as commander of the Syrian army, so the Emperor asked him to pay another visit to Berlin, and he has been visiting Krupp's works and German naval yards, and we shall find probably that in the future his activities will be marine rather than military, and that von Falkenhayn will have a free hand in Syria.
But this will prove rather disappointing for Jemal, since it seems beyond mere coincidence that towards the end of August Herr von Kuhlmann, the new German Foreign Minister, induced the Turkish Government (while Jemal was at Berlin) to put their navy and their merchant fleet under the orders of the German Admiralty, and already many Turkish naval officers have been replaced by Germans. Thus Jemal will find himself deprived of his military command, because the navy so urgently needed his guiding hand, while his guiding hand over the navy will be itself guided by the German Admiralty.... In fact, it looks rather like checkmate for Jemal the Great, and an end to the trouble he might have given the German control.
On the eve of his leaving Germany, as yet unconscious probably of the subordination of the entire Turkish fleet to the German Admiralty, he gave an interview to a representative of the Cologne Gazette, which deserves more than that ephemeral appearance. It shows Jemal the Great in a sort of hypnotic trance induced at Potsdam. 'The German fleet,' he says, 'is simply spotless in its power, and a model for all states which need a modern navy--a model which cannot be surpassed.' ... He went for a cruise in a submarine which proceeded 'so smoothly, elegantly, calmly and securely that I had the impression of cruising in a great steamship.' ... He was taken to Belgium, and describes the 'idyllic life there': in the towns 'the people go for walks all day long,' and in the country the peasants blithely gather in the harvest with the help of happy prisoners.' (He does not tell us where the harvest goes to, any more than the Germans tell us where the Turkish harvests go to.) He was taken to General Headquarters, which he describes as 'majestic.' Finally he was taken into the presence of the All-Highest, and seems to have emerged in the condition in which Moses came down from Sinai.... But one must not altogether despair of Jemal the Great. It is still possible that, on his return to Constantinople, when he found that his position, as Minister of Marine was but a clerkship in the German Admiralty, the hypnotic trance began to pass off, and his ambitions to re-assert themselves. He may yet give trouble to the Germans if properly handled.
It is impossible to leave this heart-rending tale of the sufferings of the Armenian people under the Turks without some account of that devoted band of American missionaries who, with a heroism unsurpassed, and perhaps unequalled, so eagerly sacrificed themselves to the ravages of pestilence and starvation in order to alleviate the horrors that descended on the people to whom they had been sent. Often they were forcibly driven from the care of their flocks, often in the extermination of their flocks there was none left whom they could shepherd, but wherever a remnant still lingered there remained these dauntless and self-sacrificing men and women, regardless of everything except the cause to which they had devoted themselves. They recked nothing of the dangers to which they exposed themselves so long as there was a child or a woman or a man whom they could feed or nurse. Terrible as were the sufferings through which the Armenians passed, they must have been infinitely more unbearable had it not been for these American missionaries; small as was the remnant that escaped into the safety of Persia or Russian Trans-Caucasia, their numbers must have been halved had it not been for the heroism of these men and women. While the German Consuls contented themselves with a few faint protests to their Ambassador at Constantinople, followed by an acquiescence of silence, the missionaries constituted themselves into a Red Cross Society of intrepid workers, and, as one well-qualified authority tells us, 'suffered as many casualties from typhus and physical exhaustion as any proportionate body of workers on the European battlefields.' Fully indeed did they live up to the mandate of the American board that sent them out: 'Your great business is with the fundamental doctrines and duties of the Gospel.'
At the opening of the European War the American Missions had been at work for nearly a hundred years, and were disseminated over Anatolia and Armenia. They had opened 163 Protestant churches and 450 schools, they established hospitals, and in every possible way spread civilisation in a country where the spirit of the governing class was barbarism. It was not their object to proselytise. 'Let the Armenian remain an Armenian if he will,' so ran the instructions from which I have already quoted, 'the Greek a Greek, the Nestorian a Nestorian, the Oriental an Oriental,' and in the same wise and open-minded spirit they encouraged native Protestant Churches which were independent of them and largely self-supporting. Naturally in a country governed by monsters like Abdul Hamid and Enver Pasha in later days, they earned the enmity which is the tribute of barbarians to those who stand for civilisation, and when, owing to the extermination or flight of their Armenian flocks, they were left without a charge, and their schools were closed, we find a paean of self-congratulation going up from the Turkish press inspired by the butchers of Armenia. But till the massacres and the flight were complete, they gave themselves to the 'duties of the Gospel,' and their deeds shine like a star into the blackness of that night of murder.
I will take as an example of the superb heroism of those men and women the diary of an American lady attached to the mission at Urmia, a document that, anonymously, is one of the noblest, least self-conscious records I have ever read. The period of it extends over five months.
Early in January 1915 the Russian troops were withdrawn from Urmia, which lies on the frontier between Turkey and Persia, and simultaneously the Moslem population began to plunder the Christian villages, the inhabitants of which fled for refuge to the missions in the city. Talaat's official murder-scheme was not completed yet, but the Kurds, together with the Turks, had planned a local massacre at Geogtapa, which was stopped by the American doctor of this mission, Dr. Packard, who, at great personal risk, obtained an interview with the Kurdish chief, and succeeded in inducing him to spare the lives of the Christians, if they gave up arms and ammunition and property. The American flag was hoisted over the Mission buildings, and before a week was out there were over ten thousand refugees housed in the yards and rooms, where they remained for five months, the places of the dead being taken by fresh influxes. The dining-room, the sitting-room, the church, the school, were all given over to these destitute people, and from the beginning fear of massacre, as well as prevalence of disease, haunted the camp. It was impossible to move dead bodies outside; they had to be buried in the thronged yards, and every day children were born. But here is the spirit that animated their protectors. 'We have just had a Praise meeting,' records the diarist at the close of the first fortnight, 'with fifty or sixty we could gather from the halls and rooms near, and we feel more cheerful. We thought if Paul and Silas, with their stripes, could sing praises in prison, so could we.'
The weeks, of which each day was a procession of hours too full of work to leave time for anxiety, began to enrol themselves into months, and the hope of rescue by a Russian advance made their hearts sick, so long was it deferred. Refugees from neighbouring villages kept arriving, and there was the constant problem before these devoted friends of their flock, as to how to feed them. All such were welcome, and eager was the welcome they received, though every foot of space in the buildings and in the yards was occupied. But somehow they managed to make room for all who came, and for those villagers who, under threat of torture and massacre, had apostatised, there was but yearning and sorrow, but never a word of blame or bitterness. Sometimes there was a visit of Turkish troops to search for concealed Russians, and, as our diarist remarks, 'We can't complain of the monotony of life, for we never know what is going to happen next. On Tuesday morning we had a wedding in my room here. The boy and girl were simple villagers.... The wedding was fixed for the Syrian New Year, but the Kurds came and carried off wedding clothes and everything else in the house. They all fled here, and were married in the old dirty garments they were wearing when they ran for their lives.... Their only present was a little tea and sugar that I tied up in a handkerchief and gave to the bride.'
The eternal feminine and the eternal human speak there; and there, for this gallantest of women, were two keys that locked up the endless troubles and anxieties that ceased not day or night. But sometimes the flesh was weak, and in the privacy of her diary she says, 'How long, O Lord?' But for that there was the master-key that unlocks all wards, and a little further on we read, 'One of the verses that helps to keep my faith steady is, "He that spared not His own Son." For weeks we have had no word from the outside world, but we "rest in Jehovah and wait patiently for Him."'
The conditions inside the crowded yards grew steadily worse. Dysentery was rife, and the deaths from it in that narrow space averaged thirty a day. The state of the sufferers grew so terrible that it was difficult to get any one to look after them at all, and many were lying in the open yards, and the weather, which hitherto had been warm, got cold, and snow fell. It was with the greatest difficulty that food could be obtained for those in health, and that of a kind utterly unsuitable to the sick, while in the minds of their nurses was the bitter knowledge that with proper diet hundreds of lives could have been saved, and hundreds of cases of illness avoided.
For the dead there was but a small percentage of coffins available, and 'the great mass are just dropped into the great trench of rotting humanity (in the yard). As I stand at my window I see one after another of the little bodies carried by ... and the condition of the living is more pitiful than that of the dead--hungry, ragged, dirty, sick, cold, wet, swarming with vermin. Not for all the wealth of all the rulers of Europe would I bear for one hour their responsibility for the suffering and misery of this one little corner of the world alone. A helpless unarmed Christian community turned over to the sword and the passion of Islam!'
On the top of this came an epidemic of typhoid, twenty-seven cases on the first day. Outside in the town the Turkish Consul began hanging Christians, and the missioners were allowed to take the bodies and bury them. There were threats that the mission would be entered, and all young men (possible combatants) killed, but this fear was not realised. The typhoid increased, and the doctor of the mission and others of the staff fell ill with it; but the patience and service of the remainder never faltered, while the same spirit of uncomplaining suffering animated the refugees. 'Mr. McDowell,' so the diarist relates, 'saw a tired and weary woman with a baby in her arms, sitting in one of the seats, and said to her, "Where do you stay?" She said "Just here." "How long have you been here?" "Since the beginning." (two months) she replied. "How do you sleep at night?" "I lay the baby on the desk in front of me, and I have this post at the back to lean against. This is a very good place. Thank you very much."'
In April there comes a break in the diary after the day on which the following entry is made:--
'I felt on Sunday as if I ought to get my own burial clothes ready, so as to make as little trouble as possible when my time comes, for in these days we all go about our work knowing that any one of us may be the next to go down. And yet I think our friends would be surprised to see how cheerful we have kept, and how many occasions we find for laughing: for ludicrous things do happen. Then, too, after dwelling so intimately with Death for three months, he doesn't seem to have so unfriendly an aspect, and the "Other Side" seems near, and our Pilot close beside us.... I find the Rock on which I can anchor in peace are the words of Christ Himself: "Where I am, there ye may be also." ... That is enough, to be where He is....'
Then comes a break of two months, during which the writer was down with typhoid. She resumes again in June, finding that death has made many changes, and gets back to work again at once. By that time the Russians had entered Urmia, a thanksgiving service was held, the refugees dispersed, and the American Mission went quietly on with its normal work.
Now I have taken this one instance of the work of Americans at Urmia to show in some detail the character of the work that they were doing, and the Christian and humanising influence of it. But all over Armenia and Anatolia were similar settlements, and, as already mentioned, at the time of the massacres there were established there over a hundred of their churches and over four hundred schools, and from these extracts which concern only one not very large centre, it may be gathered what leaven of civilising influence the sum of their energies must have implied. That lamp shone steady and clear, a 'kindly light' in the darkness of Turkish misrule, and in the havoc of the massacres a beacon of hope, not always reached by those hapless refugees. Indeed it seems to have been only on the frontier that the missions were able to save those foredoomed hordes of fleeing Christians; in Armenia and in Anatolia generally the massacres and 'deportations' were complete, and by the end of 1915 all American missions were closed, for there were none to tend and care for. Even if the massacres had not occurred, the entry of America into the war would have resulted in a similar cessation of their work, and most probably in a massacre of the American missioners themselves. Their withdrawal, of course, was hailed with a peacock scream of pride by that enlightened body under Talaat and Enver, called the New Turkish party of Progress, for their presence was a bar to the Turkish notions of civilisation, in that their influence made for humanity, and health and education. Now 'the humiliating and dangerous situation' (to quote from the columns of Hilal) was put an end to, and Turkish progress could make headway again.
Similarly in Syria the outbreak of war put an end to 'the humiliating and dangerous situation' of the presence of French schools and missions. There, for many years, French missioners had done the same work as Americans in Armenia, work in every sense liberal and civilising, but undenominational in religious matters and unproselytising. That came to an end earlier than the organisations in Armenia, and in Syria now, as over the rest of the Turkish people, Arabs and Jews and Greeks have nothing except German influence and Kultur to stand between them and the spirit of Turkish progress of which the Armenian massacres were the latest epiphany. Germany, as we have seen, stood by and let the Armenian massacres go on, professing herself unable to interfere in the internal affairs of Turkey, though at the time there was not a single branch of Turkish industries, railways, telegraphs, armies, navies over which she had not complete control, exercising it precisely as she thought fit.
It is useless, then, to base any confidence in the safety of Jews, Greeks, and Arabs from suffering the same fate as the Armenians, on a veto from Germany. If it suits Germany to let those unfortunate peoples be murdered or deported to agricultural colonies, Germany will assuredly not stir a finger on their behalf nor prevent a repetition of the horrors I have dealt with in the previous chapter. Sooner than risk her hold over Turkey by enforcing unacceptable demands, she will, unless other considerations of self-interest determine her, let further massacres occur, if Talaat Bey insists on them. That spokesman of her policy, Ernst Marré, makes this perfectly explicit in his book, Die Türken und Wir nach dem Kriege, upholding from the German standpoint the right of Turkey and the wisdom of Turkey in dealing with her subject peoples as she had dealt with the Armenians. 'The Turkish State,' he tells us, 'is no united whole: Turks, Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, cannot be welded together.' (This, by a somewhat grim and ominous coincidence, is in exact accordance with a remark made to a Danish Red Cross Sister by a Turkish gendarme then engaged in massacring Armenians: 'First we get rid of the Armenians,' he said, 'then the Greeks, then the Kurds.') Or again, in defence of the Armenian massacres, 'Only by energetic interference and by expelling of the obstinate Armenian element, could the Ottoman Empire get rid of a Russian dominion.' Or again, 'The non-Turkish population of the Ottoman Empire must be Ottomanised.' Here, then, is the German point of view: the Ottoman Government will be right to 'dispose of' its subject peoples as it thinks fit. So far from interfering, Germany endorses, and German influence to-day is all that stands between 'the murderous tyranny' and its subject peoples. French, English, and finally American pressure can no longer, since the entry of these nations into the war, be exercised within the frontiers of the Ottoman Empire, and the only protection of defenceless aliens is the German Government. It did not stir a finger to save the Armenians, until it saw that depopulation threatened the prosperity of its industries, and it is idle to expect that it will do more if the consolidation of Turkish supremacy demands a further campaign of murder. Greeks, Arabs, and Jews are all completely at the mercy of Talaat's murder-schedules. The only chance that can save them is that further extermination may not suit Germany's political aims, and that she may find it worth her while to be peremptory, and forbid instead of endorsing.
There are unhappily many signs that the butchers of Constantinople are planning further massacres. In February of this year preliminary measures were begun against the Greeks settled in Anatolia. Many were forcibly proselytised, their property was confiscated, and they were forbidden to carry on their businesses. Deportations also occurred, and all Greeks were removed from many villages in Anatolia, into the interior, presumably to 'agricultural colonies' such as those provided for Armenians. They suffered terribly from hunger and exposure, and it is estimated that ten per cent. of them died on their marches. Since then, however, there has been no more heard of any extension of those measures, and there seems to have been as yet no massacre of Greeks. It is reasonable to infer that Germany has in this case intervened. She still hoped to win Greece over to the Central European Powers, and clearly any massacre of Greeks by her own Allies was not desirable. King Constantine, among his endless vacillations and pusillanimous treacheries, probably made a firm protest on the subject. But in the kaleidoscope of war, should Greece come to the side of the Allies, it seems most probable that there will occur a wholesale massacre of Greeks. From what we know of the principles on which German Kultur is based, the most optimistic can scarcely hope that the very faintest remonstrance will emanate from Berlin.
The case of the Arabs in Syria is even more precarious. From the moment that the policy of the Young Turks was evolved, namely, to consolidate Osmanli supremacy by the weakening of its subject peoples, the Ottoman Government has been waiting for its opportunity to get rid of the 'Arab menace.' As we have seen, they began by substituting Turkish for Arabic as a written language in all official usages from the printing of the Koran and the prayers for the Sultan down to the legends on railway tickets. The Arab spirit, according to one of the spokesmen of the New Turk party, had to be suppressed, the Arab lands had to become Turkish colonies. 'It is a peculiarly imperious necessity of our existence,' we read in Jelal Noury Bey's propaganda, 'to Turkise the Arab lands, for the particularistic idea of nationality is awaking among the younger generations of Arabs, and already threatens us with a great catastrophe.' Against the Arabs the Young Turks formed and fostered a special animosity; they were powerful and warlike, and Enver, Talaat, and others saw that the idea of an Osmanli supremacy could never be realised unless very drastic measures were taken against them. The tenets of Islamism, it is true, forbade Moslems to fight Moslems, but Islamism, as a binding force, was already obsolete in the counsels of the new regime, having given place to Kultur. Of all their subject peoples, the Young Turks hated the Arabs the most, and, had not the European War intervened, there is no doubt that the Armenian massacres, already being planned, would have been followed by Arab massacres. But the armed and warlike Arabian tribes were not so easy to deal with as the defenceless Armenians, and Turkish troops could not be spared in sufficient numbers to render an Arab massacre the safe, pleasant, and lucrative pursuit that massacres should be. But Jemal the Great, black with his triumph over the Armenians at Zeitun, was Military Governor of Syria, and, the Armenian question being solved, he began to get to work on the Arab question. Owing to the expulsion of the French Missions from Syria in 1914, we have no such full or detailed information as we have from Americans in Armenia, and the following account is mainly derived from the Arabic journal Mokattam, published in Cairo, the information in which is based on the account given by a Syrian refugee. It agrees with pieces of evidence that have come to hand from other sources.
Ever since the beginning of the war Syria has been an area of direst poverty, starvation, and sickness, which have been the natural co-operators in Jemal's policy there. All supplies have been commandeered for the troops (including by special clause from Potsdam, the German troops); even fish caught by the fishermen of Lebanon have to be handed over to the military authorities, and the shortage of supplies in Smyrna, for instance, is such that at the end of 1916 there were two hundred deaths daily from sheer starvation, while Germany was importing from Turkey hundreds of tons of corn and of meat. Thus this was no natural shortage, for though supplies were low all over the Turkish Empire, there was not dearth of that kind. It was an artificial shortage made possible by German demands, and made intentional by Jemal's policy. Beirut was in no better case than Smyrna; Lebanon perhaps was in sorer straits than either. Money was equally scarce, and it fitted Jemal's policy that this should be so, for when Americans in Beirut had raised funds in America for the relief of the destitute, the Turkish Government forbade their distribution. Arabs and Greeks were dying by the hundred all over the provinces, and the beneficent decrees of nature must not be interfered with. In the streets of towns the poor have been fighting over scraps of sugarcane and orange peel; in the country, to quote from Molcattam, 'no sooner do wild plants and beans start to grow than the fields are filled with women and children who pick them and use them as food.' Except for military purposes (including the victualling of German troops) transportation has ceased to exist, and this, too, was part of the policy of Jemal the Great.
On the heels of famine, like a hound behind a huntsman, came typhus. In the province of Aleppo before the summer of 1916, over 8000 persons had died of it. Doctors and medicines were unobtainable, for all were requisitioned for the needs of the army, and in Damascus and Tripoli, in Hama and Homs, the epidemic spread like a forest fire. No help was sent from Constantinople, none was permitted to be brought by the charitable from abroad, for famine and pestilence among the Arabs were working for the policy of Jemal the Great. There were no troops to spare who should hasten on the work, but the work was progressing by swift and 'natural' means. Hunger and pestilence--behold the finger of Allah the God of Love! How superior He showed Himself to the discarded Allah of the Arabs. 'Ring down the curtain,' said Jemal the Great, 'and let no news of the ways of Allah get abroad!' So a strict surveillance was established on the coast, all boats were chained to the shore, and if any attempted to swim out to ships of the Allied nations which passed, the coast guards had orders to shoot him down. Too much news about Armenian massacres filtered through; there should not now be such leakage. And when starvation and pestilence had firmly established themselves, Jemal the Great went down to see what his personal exertions could effect. All was working in accordance with his plan; the poorer classes of Arabs were dying like flies, but mortality was not so successful among the wealthier, who could, to some extent, purchase food. So Jemal the Great set to work among them. He began by hanging the heads of Syrian-Arabs in Damascus, Beirut, and other cities. No semblance of trial, no prosecution or arraignment, were necessary: he established courts-martial under military control, made lists of the accused, and ordered the courts-martial to condemn them to death. Sometimes he made mistakes, appointing as the members of his court-martial men who were not such sturdy patriots as he, and refused to sentence for no crime the accused whom he nominated. He remedied such mistakes by appointing new boards of more seasoned stuff. Moslem and Christian alike were brought before them, and a general accusation of pro-French tendencies seems to have been sufficient to secure a sentence of death or lifelong imprisonment. He aimed not at the poor and the obscure, for whom hunger and pestilence were providing, but at the rich and the influential. The higher clergy in Christian circles, Bishops and Monsignors, were a favourite target, and among Moslems influential Sheikhs. Sometimes there was a parody of a trial; sometimes the parody was dispensed with, and when the black curtain was last raised over Syria, Jemal the Great had disposed of over eight hundred of the heads of the most influential of Syrian Arabs. He had got rid, in fact, of the whole House of Lords, and something more. Those who are acquainted with 'feudal values' among the Arabs will understand what that means. He decapitated, not individuals only, but groups. For devilish ingenuity in this combination of starvation and pestilence for the poor, and death or lifelong imprisonment for the chiefs, Jemal the Great must take rank with Abdul Hamid and the contrivers of the Armenian massacres. He cannot, it is true, owing to lack of troops, obtain the swift results of Enver in Armenia, but between typhus, starvation, and courts-martial, his solution of the Arab question in Syria is making steady progress. And those measures, hideously efficient in themselves, are, beyond any doubt whatever, only the precursors of more sweeping exterminations of the Arab race, which will be effected after the war, if the Allied Powers do not step in to save it. The Faithful of the Holy City, Mecca, have revolted and thrown off the Turkish yoke, and while the war lasts, and Turkish troops are otherwise occupied under Teutonic supervision, they will be able to maintain their independence, for there is no considerable body of Turks which can seriously threaten them. But the Syrian Arabs, so long as the war lasts, are being, and will be, the victims of a quiet scheme of extermination, which, if long continued, will be as complete as that devised and carried out by the butchers of Constantinople for the peoples of Armenia. It is not in the interest of the Germans to save them, and no check is being put on Jemal the Great to hinder him from assisting starvation and typhus to ravage the country, and supplementing their deadly work by court-martial without trial.
Equally significant of the rage for the destruction of Arabs was the treatment of the Bagdad Arab army corps. In spite of the need for troops one half of it was sent from Bagdad to Erzerum in the depth of winter, without any provision of warm clothing. There, in those cold uplands, the men died at the rate of fifty to sixty a day. Their commanding officer was a Turk, and a creature of Enver's, called Abdul Kader. Though these troops had fought admirably, he openly called them Arab traitors, and his orders seem to have been merely to get rid of them. There were no courts-martial; they were just taken into a climate which killed them.
While for the last thirty years the Armenians and Syrians have emigrated in large numbers from the Ottoman Empire, there has been a large immigration of Jews into it. This movement was originally due to the persecution they suffered in Russia. Germany and Austria were closed to them, and, flying from the hideous pogroms that threatened them with extermination, they begun to settle in Palestine. Wealthy compatriots such as Baron Edmond de Rothschild assisted them, and, with the amazing versatility of their race, they, trades-people and town-folk, adapted themselves to new conditions, turned their wits towards husbandry and agriculture, and during the last thirty years have flourished and multiplied in a manner quite unrealised by the western world. In 1881 there were not more than 25,000 of them in the home of their race, but by the beginning of the European War, when their immigration ceased for the present, they numbered 120,000 souls. Till then the Ottoman Government adopted the ancient Turkish policy of neglect towards them, for they were not powerful enough numerically to earn the honour of a massacre, and, in addition, they were useful settlers. Backed by powerful Western influence, French, English, and German alike, they improved out of knowledge the values of the lands where they established themselves, and by intelligent management, by conserving and increasing the water supply with irrigation and well-digging, they have brought many thousand acres into cultivation. Originally refugees, fleeing from outrageous persecutions, their immigration by degrees took on a different spirit. Not only were they coming out of captivity, but they were entering into the ancient Land of Promise again. Zionism, the spirit of the returning exiles, animated them, and, according to their prophets, they realised that 'The Lord shall comfort Zion, He shall comfort all her waste places.' They had sowed in tears; now, on their return, they were reaping in joy, and, though their land was still under the infidel yoke, they were allowed to dwell in peace, busy, industrious, with the halo of home-coming in their hearts. They paid, of course, their Turkish taxes, but these were not levied in any oppressive manner, and their colonies were thrifty, self-governing, and prosperous. Already before the war, one-tenth of the cultivated land in Palestine was in their hands, they had their own schools, their own methods of organisation, and, more significant than all, Hebrew became a living language again. Germany, intent on her penetration of Turkey, made an attempt to Germanise them also (for Germany, as we shall see, has a very special interest in these Jewish colonies), shook her head over Zionism, for which she tried to substitute Prussianism, and wanted to make the German language compulsory in Jewish schools at Haifa and Jaffa, but her effort completely failed. Nothing could show the inherent vitality of this Jewish colonisation more strikingly.
These Jewish settlers then were left in peace; from minuteness they escaped the notice of the Young Turk party in its schemes for the complete Ottomanisation of the Empire, and, until the present year 1917, no mention of 'the Jewish question' was propounded. But it will he remembered that in 1915, certain Jewish refugees, taking warning from the Armenian massacres, fled to Egypt, and there founded a Zionist mule-corps, which served under the English in the Gallipoli campaign. It seems very probable that it was this that directed the attention of Jemal the Great to the Jewish colonies in Palestine: possibly it was merely that he was a more thorough Ottomaniser than his colleagues in Constantinople. In any case he ordered the 'deportation' of all Jews from Jaffa, Gaza, and other agricultural districts. All Jews were commanded to leave Jaffa within forty-eight hours, no means of transport was given them, and they were forbidden to take with them either provisions or any of their belongings. Eight thousand Jews were evicted from Jaffa alone, and their houses were pillaged, and they robbed, maltreated, and many were murdered. Thus, and in no other way had the massacres of the Armenians begun, and, that there should be no mistake about it, Jemal threatened them explicitly with the fate of the Armenians. Next day Ludd was evacuated also; the evacuation of Haifa and Jerusalem was threatened, and artillery was sent to Jerusalem. There can be no doubt in fact that Jemal planned and began to carry out a massacre of all Jews.
At that point the Germans intervened, and for the present (but only for the present, for so long in fact as Germany has complete control over all Turkish internal affairs, in which she protested she could not meddle) the Jewish colonies in Palestine seem to be safe. The German chief of the General Staff telegraphed to Berlin that the 'military considerations' on which Jemal based his deportations did not exist, and Herr Cohn in the Reichstag drew the Imperial Chancellor's attention to this. How seriously the menace was regarded in Germany, and how far the deportations had gone may be gathered from his words, 'Is the Imperial Chancellor prepared to influence the Turkish Government in such a manner as to prevent with certainty--so far as this is still possible--a repetition in Palestine of the Armenian atrocities?' This was sufficient: Germany, who could not dream of interfering in Turkish internal affairs when only the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Armenians was concerned, sent her order, and, for the present, Jemal the Great has been unable to proceed with the solution of the Jewish question in Turkey, which he had just discovered. We need not yet in fact give Jemal his Jew. But some sort of explanation to soothe the exasperation of the Turks in not being allowed to murder when and how and where they pleased, was thought advisable, and the explanation (an extraordinarily significant one) was given in an inspired paragraph of the Frankfurter Zeitung not long after. 'The valuable structure of Zionist cultural work, in which the German Empire must have well founded interest in view of future and very promising trade relations, will, it is very much to be hoped, be preserved from destruction so far as purely military requirements do not make it necessary. Pan-Turkish ideals have no sort of meaning in Palestine where practically no Turks dwell.'
The full significance of her intervention on behalf of the Jews, when neither the extermination of the Armenians, the persecution of the Arabs, nor the deportation of the Greeks moved Germany to any decided action or energetic protest, must be left, in so far as it concerns the future, to another chapter. But as regards the present and the past it will be useful to consider here what has prompted her to make a protest (which we may regard, so long as her foot is on the neck of the Turks, as having been successful) against these projected massacres. Certainly it was not humanity; it was not the faintest desire to save innocent people in general from being murdered wholesale, for in the similar case of the Armenians, her bowels of compassion were not moved. Or, possibly, if we incline to lenience, we may say that she was sorry for the Armenians, but could not then risk a disagreement with their murderers who were her allies, whereas now, feeling herself more completely dominant over the Turks than she then did, she could risk being peremptory, especially since there was that saving clause about military requirements. For during the Armenian massacres, the Dardanelles expedition was still on the shores of Gallipoli, and the menace to Constantinople acute. It was possible that if she opposed a firm front to the Armenian massacres, the Turks, already on the verge of despair with regard to saving the capital from capture, might have made terms with the Allies. But now no such imminence of danger threatened them, and, with Germany's domination over them vastly more secure than it had been in 1915, she could afford to treat them less as allies and more as a conquered people. This alone might have accounted for her unprecedented impulse of humanity in the minds of those who still attribute such instincts to her, but she had far stronger reasons than that for wanting to save the Jews of Palestine.
Her policy with regard to them is set forth in a pamphlet by Dr. Davis Treitsch, called Die Jüden der Türkei, published in 1915, which is a most illuminating little document. These Jewish colonies, as we have seen, came from Russia, and as Germany realised, long before the war, they might easily form a German nucleus in the Near East, for they largely consisted of German-speaking Jews, akin in language and blood to a most important element in her own population. 'In a certain sense,' says Dr. Treitsch, 'the Jews are a Near Eastern element in Germany and a German element in Turkey.' He goes on with unerring acumen to lament the exodus of German-speaking Jews to the United States and to England. 'Annually some 100,000 of these are lost to Germany, the empire of the English language and the economic system that goes with it is being enlarged, while a German asset is being proportionately depreciated.... It will no longer do simply to close the German frontiers to them, and in view of the difficulties which would result from a wholesale migration of Jews into Germany itself, Germans will only be too glad to find a way out in the emigration of those Jews to Turkey--a solution extraordinarily favourable to the interests of all three parties concerned.'
Here, then, is the matter in a nutshell: Germany, wide-awake as ever, saw long ago the advantage to her of a growing Jewish population from the Pale in Turkey. She was perhaps a little overloaded with them herself, but in this immigration from Russia to Palestine she saw the formation of a colony that was well worth German protection, and the result of the war, provided the Palestinian immigrants were left in peace, would be to augment very largely the number of those settling there. 'Galicia,' says Dr. Treitsch, 'and the western provinces of Russia, which between them contain more than half the Jews in the world, have suffered more from the war than any other region. Jewish homes have been broken up by hundreds of thousands, and there is no doubt whatever that, as a result of the war, there will be an emigration of East European Jews on an unprecedented scale.' This emigration, then, to Palestine was, in Germany's view, a counter-weight to the 100,000 annually lost to her through emigration to America and England. With her foot on Turkey's neck she had control over these German-speaking Jews, and saw in them the elements of a German colony. Her calculations, it is true, were somewhat upset by the development of the Zionist movement, by which those settlers declared themselves to have a nationality of their own, and a language of their own, and Dr. Treitsch concedes that. 'But,' he adds, 'in addition to Hebrew, to which they are more and more inclined, the Jews must have a world-language, and this can only be German.'
This, then, in brief, and only up to the present, is the story of how the Jewish massacres were stayed. The Jews were potential Germans, and Germany, who sat by with folded hands when Arabs and Armenians were led to torture and death, put up a warning finger, and, for the present, saved them. In her whole conduct of the war, nothing has been more characteristic than her 'verboten' to one projected massacre and her acquiescence in others. But, as for her having saved the Jews out of motives of humanity, 'Credant Judaei!'
It was commonly said at the beginning of this war that, whatever Germany's military resources might be, she was hopelessly and childishly lacking in diplomatic ability and in knowledge of psychology, from which all success in diplomacy is distilled. As instances of this grave defect, people adduced the fact that, apparently, she had not anticipated the entry of Great Britain into the war at all, while her treatment of Belgium immediately afterwards was universally pronounced to be not a crime merely, but a blunder of the stupidest sort. It is perfectly true that Germany did not understand, and, as seems likely in the light of innumerable other atrocities, never will understand, the psychology of civilised peoples; she has never shown any signs up till now, at any rate, of 'having got the hang of it' at all. But critics of her diplomacy failed to see the root-fact that she did not understand it merely because it did not interest her. It was not worth her while to master the psychology of other civilised nations, since she was out not to understand them, but to conquer them. She had all the information she wanted about their armies and navies and guns and ammunition neatly and correctly tabulated. Why, then, since this was all that concerned her, should she cram her head with irrelevant information about what they might feel on the subject of gas-attacks or the torpedoing of neutral ships without warning? As long as her fumes were deadly and her submarines subtle, nothing further concerned her.
But Europe generally made a great mistake in supposing that Germany could not learn psychology, and the process of its distillation into diplomacy when it interested her. The psychology of the French and English was a useless study, for she was merely going to fight them, but for years she had been studying with an industry and a patience that put our diplomacy to shame (as was most swiftly and ignominiously proven when it came into conflict with hers) the psychology of the Turks. For years she had watched the dealings of the Great Powers with Turkey, but she had never really associated herself with that policy. She sat quietly by and saw how it worked. Briefly it was this. For a hundred years Turkey had been kept alive in Europe by the sedulous attentions of the Physician Powers, who dared not let him die for fear of the stupendous quarrels which would instantly arise over his corpse. So there they all sat round his bed, and kept him alive with injections of strychnine and oxygen, and, no less, by a policy of rousing and irritating the patient. All through the reign of Abdul Hamid they persevered: Great Britain plucked his pillow from him, so to speak, by her protectorate of Egypt; Russia tweaked Eastern Rumelia from him; France deprived him of his hot-water bottle when she snatched at the Constantinople quays, and they all shook and slapped him when he went to war with Greece in 1896, and instantly deprived him of the territory he had won in Thessaly. That was the principle of European diplomacy towards Turkey, and from it Germany always held aloof.
But from about the beginning of the reign of the present German Emperor, German or rather Prussian diplomacy had been going quietly about its work. It was worth while to study the psychology of the Turks, because dimly then, but with ever-increasing distinctness, Germany foresaw that Turkey might be a counter of immense importance in the great conflict which was assuredly drawing nearer, though as yet its existence was but foreshadowed by the most distant reflections of summer lightning on a serene horizon. But if Turkey was to be of any profit to her, she wanted a strong Turkey who could fight with her (or rather for her), and she had no use for the Sick Man whom the other Powers were bent on keeping alive, but no more. Her own eventual domination of Turkey was always the end in view, but she wanted to dominate not a weak but a strong servant. And her diplomacy was not less than brilliant simply from the fact that on the one hand it soothed Turkey instead of irritating, and, on the other, that it went absolutely unnoticed for a long time. Nobody knew that it was going on. She sent officers to train the Turkish army, well knowing what magnificent material Anatolia afforded, and she had thoroughly grasped the salient fact that to make any way with Oriental peoples your purse must be open and your backshish unlimited. 'There is no God but backshish, and the Deutsche Bank is his prophet.'
For years this went on very quietly, and all over the great field of the Ottoman Empire the first tiny blades of the crop that Germany was sowing began to appear. To-day that crop waves high, and covers the whole field with its ripe and fruitful ears. For to-day Turkey is neither more nor less than a German colony, and more than makes up to her for the colonies she has lost and hopes to regain. She knows that perfectly well, and so do any who have at all studied the history and the results of her diplomacy there. Even Turkey itself must, as in an uneasy dream, be faintly conscious of it. For who to-day is the Sultan of Turkey? No other than William II. of Germany. It is in Berlin that his Cabinet meets, and sometimes he asks Talaat Bey to attend in a strictly honorary capacity. And Talaat Bey goes back to Constantinople with a strictly honorary sword of honour. Or else he gives one to William II. from his soi-disant master, the Sultan, or takes one back to his soi-disant master from his real master. For no one knows better than William II. the use that swords of honour play in deeds of dishonour.
The object of this chapter is to trace and mount the hewn and solid staircase of steps by which Germany's present supremacy over Turkey was achieved.
Apart from the quiet spade-work that had been going on for some years, Germany made no important move till the moment when, in 1909, the Young Turk party, after the forced abdication of Abdul Hamid, proclaimed the aims and ideals of the new regime. At once Germany saw her opportunity, for here, with her help, might arise the strong Turkey which she desired to see, instead of the weak Turkey which all the other European Powers had been keeping on a lowering diet for so long (desirous only that it should not quite expire), and from that moment she began to lend, or rather let, to Turkey in ever-increasing quantities, the resources of her scientific and her military knowledge. It was in her interests, if Turkey was to be of use to her, that she should educate, and irrigate, and develop the unexploited treasures of human material, of fertility and mineral wealth; and Germany's gold, her schools, her laboratories were at Turkey's disposal. But in every case she, as in duty bound to her people, saw that she got very good value for her outlay.
Here, then, was the great psychological moment when Germany instantly moved. The Young Turks proclaimed that they were going to weld the Ottoman Empire into one homogeneous and harmonious whole, and by a piece of brilliant paradoxical reasoning Germany determined that it was she who was going to do it for them. In flat contradiction of the spirit of their manifestoes, which proclaimed the Pan-Turkish ideal, she conceived and began to carry out under their very noses the great new chapter of the Pan-Germanic ideal. And the Young Turks did not know the difference! They mistook that lusty Teutonic changeling for their own new-born Turkish babe, and they nursed and nourished it. Amazingly it throve, and soon it cut its teeth, and one day, when they thought it was asleep, it arose from its cradle a baby no more, but a great Prussian guardsman who shouted, 'Deutschland über Allah!'
Only once was there a check in the growth of the Prussian infant, and that was no more than a childish ailment. For when the Balkan wars broke out the Turkish army was in the transitional stage. Its German tutors had not yet had time to inspire the army with German discipline and tradition; they had only weeded out, so to speak, the old Turkish spirit, the blind obedience to the Ministers of the Shadow of God. The Shadow of God, in fact, in the person of the Sultan, had been dragged out into the light, and his Shadow had grown appreciably less. In consequence there was not at this juncture any cohesion in the army, and it suffered reverse after reverse. But a strong though a curtailed Turkey was more in accordance with Prussian ideas than a weak and sprawling one, and Germany bore the Turkish defeats very valiantly. And that was the only set-back that this Pan-Prussian youngster experienced, and it was no more than an attack of German measles which he very quickly got over. For two or three years German influence wavered, then recovered, 'with blessings on the falling out, that all the more endears.'
It is interesting to see how Germany adapted the Pan-Turkish ideal to her own ends, and, by a triumphant vindication of Germany's methods, the best account of this Pan-Turkish ideal is to be found in a publication of 1915 by Tekin Alp, which was written as German propaganda and by Germany disseminated broadcast over the Turkish Empire. An account of this movement has already been given in Chapter II., as far as the Turkish side of it is concerned, and it remains only to enumerate the German contribution to the fledging of this new Turkish Phoenix. The Turkish language and the Turkish Allah, God of Love, in whose name the Armenians were tortured and massacred, were the two wings on which it was to soar. Auxiliary soaring societies were organised, among them a Turkish Ojagha with similar aims, and no fewer than sixteen branches of it were founded throughout the Empire. There were also a Turkish Guiji or gymnastic club, and an Izji or boy scouts' club. A union of merchants worked for the same object in districts where hitherto trade had been in the hands of Greeks and Armenians, and signs appeared on their shops that only Turkish labour was employed. Religious funds also were used for similar economic restoration.
Germany saw, Germany tabulated, Germany licked her lips and took out her long spoon, for her hour was come. She did not interfere: she only helped to further the Pan-Turkish ideal. With her usual foresight she perceived that the Izji, for instance, was a thing to encourage, for the boys who were being trained now would in a few years be precisely the young men of whom she could not have too many. By all means the boy scout movement was to be encouraged. She encouraged it so generously and methodically that in 1916, according to an absolutely reliable source of information, we find that the whole boy scout movement, with its innumerable branches, was under the control of a German officer, Colonel von Hoff. In its classes (derneks) boys are trained in military practices, in 'a recreational manner,' so that they enjoy--positively enjoy (a Prussian touch)--the exercises that will fit them to be of use to the Sultan William II. They learn trigger-drill, they learn skirmishing, they are taught to make reports on the movements of their companies, they are shown neat ways of judging distances. They are divided into two classes, the junior class ranging from the ages of twelve to seventeen, the senior class consisting of boys over seventeen, but not yet of military age. But since Colonel von Hoff organised this, the military age has been extended, and boys of seventeen have got to serve their country on German fronts. Prussian thoroughness, therefore, saw that their training must begin earlier; the old junior class has become the senior class, and a new junior class has been set on foot which begins its recreational exercises in the service of William II., Got and Allah, at the age of eight. It is all great fun, but those pigeon-livered little boys who are not diverted by it have to go on with their fun all the same, for, needless to say, the Izji is compulsory on all boys. Of course they wear a uniform which is made in Germany and is of a 'semi-military' character.
The provision of soldiers and sailors, then, trained from the early age of eight, was the first object of Germany's peaceful and benign penetration. As from the Pisgah height of the Pan-Turkish ideal she saw the promised land, but she had no idea of seeing it only, like Moses, and expiring without entering it, and her faith that she would enter it and possess it and organise it has been wonderfully justified. She has not only penetrated, but has dominated; a year ago towns like Aleppo were crammed with German officers, while at Islahie there were separate wooden barracks for the exclusive use of German troops. There is a military mission at Mamoura, where all the buildings are permanent erections solidly built of stone, for no merely temporary occupation is intended, and thousands of freight-cars with Belgian marks upon them throng the railways, and on some is the significant German title of 'Military Headquarters of the Imperial Staff.' There are troops in the Turkish army, to which is given the title of 'Pasha formation,' in compliment to Turkey, but the Pasha formations are under command of Baron Kress von Kressenstein, and are salted with German officers, N.C.O.'s, and privates, who, although in the Turkish army, retain their German uniforms.
This German leaven forms an instructional class for the remainder of the troops in these formations, who are Turkish. The Germans are urged to respect Moslem customs and to show particular consideration for their religious observances. Every German contingent arriving at Constantinople to join the Pasha formations finds quarters prepared on a ship, and when the troops leave for their 'destination' they take supplies from depots at the railway station which will last them two or three months. They are enjoined to write war diaries, and are provided with handbooks on the military and geographical conditions in Mesopotamia, with maps, and with notes on the training and management of camels. This looks as if they were intended for use against the English troops in Mesopotamia, but I cannot find that they have been identified there. The greatest secrecy is observed with regard to those Pasha formations, and their constitution and movements are kept extremely well veiled.
Wireless stations have been set up in Asia Minor and Palestine, and these are under the command of Major Schlee. A Turkish air-service was instituted, at the head of which was Major Serno, a Prussian officer, and Turkish aviators are now in training at Ostend, where they will very usefully defend their native country. At Constantinople there is a naval school for Turkish engineers and mechanics in the arsenal, to help on the Pan-Turkish ideal, and with a view to that all the instructors are German: a floating dock is in construction at Ismid, and the order has been placed with German firms. It will be capable of accommodating ships of Dreadnought build, which is a new departure for the strictly Pan-Turkish ideal. The cost is £740,000, to be repaid three years after the end of the war. Similarly, by the spring of this year, Germany had arranged to start submarine training in Constantinople for the Turks, and a submarine school was open and at work in March. A few months later it was established at the island of Prinkipo, where it is now hard at work under German instructors. Other naval cadets were sent to Germany for their training, and Turkish officers were present at the battle of Jutland in June 1916, and of course were decorated by the Emperor in person for their coolness and courage.
Still more men were needed, and in November a fresh levy of boys was raised regardless of whether they had reached the military age or not. This absorbed the senior class of the boy scouts, who hitherto had learned their drill in a 'recreationary manner.' Neither Jews nor Christians are exempt from service, and frequent press gangs go round Constantinople rounding up those who are in hiding.
Again the Prussian Moloch was hungry for more, and in December 1916 the Turkish Gazette announced that all males in Asia Minor between the ages of fourteen and sixty-five were to be enrolled for military service, and in January of this year, 1917, fresh recruiting was foreshadowed by the order that men of forty-six to fifty-two, who had paid their exemption money, should be medically examined to see if they were fit for active service. This fresh recruiting was also put in force in the case of boys, and during the summer of 1917 all boys above the age of twelve, provided they were sound and well-built, were taken for the army. Wider and wider the net was spread, and in the same month a fresh Turco-German convention was signed, whereby was enforced a reciprocal surrender in both countries of persons liable to military service, and of deserters, and simultaneously all Turks living in Switzerland, and who had paid exemption money, were recalled to their Germanised fatherland. By now the first crops of the year were ripening in Smyrna, and in default of civilian labour (for every one was now a soldier) they were reaped by Turkish soldiers and the produce sent direct to Germany.
Already in August 1916, certificates of Ottoman nationality had been granted to Serbians resident in the Empire who were willing to become Ottoman subjects, and their 'willingness' was intensified by hints that incidents akin to the Armenian massacres might possibly occur among other alien peoples. They had to sign a declaration that they would not revert to their former nationality, and thus, no doubt, many Serbs passed into the Turkish army. Further enrolments were desirable, and, in March 1917, all Greeks living in Anatolia were forcibly proselytised, their property was confiscated, and they were made liable to military service. Unfortunately all were not available, for of those who were removed from the villages where they lived to military centres, ten per cent. died on the forced marches from hunger and exposure. That was annoying for the German recruiting agents, but it suited well enough the Pan-Turkish ideal of exterminating foreign nationalities. When trouble or discontent occurred among the troops, it was firmly dealt with, as, for instance, when, in November 1916, there were considerable desertions from the 49th Division. On that occasion the order was given to fire on them, and many were killed and wounded. The officer who gave the order was commended by the Prussian authorities for his firmness. Should such an incident occur again, it will no doubt be dealt with no less firmness, for, in April 1917, Mackensen was put in supreme command of all troops in Asia Minor. But in spite of this desertions have largely increased lately, and during the summer deserters out of all the Turkish armies were believed to number about 200,000. Many of those have formed themselves into brigand bands, who make the roads dangerous for travellers. The exchange of honours goes on, for not long ago, in Berlin, Prince Zia-ed-Din, the Turkish Sultan's heir, presented a sword of honour to the Sultan William II. Probably he gave him good news of the progress of the German harbour works begun in the winter at Stamboul, and himself learned that the railway bridge which the Turks proposed to build over the Bosporus was not to be proceeded with, for the German high command had superseded that scheme by their own idea of making a tunnel under the Bosporus instead, which would be safer from aircraft.
Such up-to-date, though in brief outline, is the history of the establishment of the Prussian octopus grip on military and naval matters in Turkey. We have largely ourselves to blame for it. Upon that pathetic and lamb-like record of our diplomacy during the months between the outbreak of the European War, and the entry of Turkey into it in October 1914, it would be morbid to dwell at any length, though a short summary is necessary. As we all know now, Turkey had concluded a treaty with Germany early in August, and when our Ambassador in Constantinople, Sir Louis Malet, who was on leave in England at that date, returned to his post on August 16th, all that Turkey wanted was to gain time in which to effect her mobilisation. This she did, with complete success, and our Ambassador telegraphed to England stating his perfect confidence in the sincerity with which the Grand Vizier professed his friendship for England. All through those weeks of August and September this confidence appeared to continue unabated. The Moderate party in Turkey--that is to say, the hoodwinking party--were reported to be daily gaining strength, and it was most important that the Allies should give them every assistance, and above all not precipitate matters. All was going well: all we had to do was to wait. So we waited, still blindly confident in the sincerity of Turkey's friendship for England, while the mobilisation of the Turkish forces proceeded merrily. By the end of September this was nearly complete, and quite suddenly the Ambassador informed the Foreign Office that Turkey appeared to be temporising. That was perfectly true, but the period of temporisation was nearly over, and by mid-October Turkey had something like 800,000 men under arms, and for nine weeks Enver Pasha had had his signed treaty with Germany in his pocket. Possibly this diplomatic procrastination was useful to us, for it enabled us to bring troops from India in security, and send others to Egypt. But without doubt it was useful to the Turks, for it enabled them to mobilise their armies, and to strengthen enormously the defences of the Dardanelles. Then came the day when Germany and Turkey were ready, the attack was made on Odessa, and out of Constantinople we went. We climbed into the railway carriages that took the last rays of English influence out of the Ottoman Empire, and steep were the stairs in the house of a stranger! Turks are not much given to laughter, but Enver Pasha must at least have smiled on that day.
Already, of course, German influence was strong in the army, which now was thoroughly trained in German methods, but that army might still be called a Turkish army. Nowadays, by no stretch of language can it be called Turkish except in so far that all Turkish efficient manhood is helplessly enlisted in it, for there is no branch or department of it over which the Prussian octopus has not thrown its paralysing tentacles and affixed its immovable suckers. Army and navy alike, the wireless stations, the submarines, the aircraft, are all directly controlled from Berlin, and, as we have seen, the generalissimo of the forces is Mackensen, who is absolutely the Hindenburg of the East. But thorough as is the control of Berlin over Constantinople in military and naval matters, it is not one whit more thorough than her control in all other matters of national life. Never before has Germany been very successful in her colonisation; but if complete domination--the sucking of a country till it is a mere rind of itself, and yet at the same time full to bursting of Prussian ichor--may be taken as Germany's equivalent of colonisation, then indeed we must be forced to recognise her success. And it was all done in the name and for the sake of the Pan-Turkish ideal. Even now Prussian Pecksniffs like Herr Ernst Marré, whose pamphlet, Die Türken und Wir nach dem Kriege, was published in 1916, continue to insist that Germany is nobly devoting herself to the well-being of Turkey. 'In doing this,' he exclaims in that illuminating document, 'we are benefiting Turkey.... This is a war of liberation for Turkey,' though omitting to say from whom Turkey is being liberated. Perhaps the Armenians. Occasionally, it is true, he forgets that, and naively remarks, 'Turkey is a very difficult country to govern. But after the war Turkey will be very important as a transit country.' But then he remembers again and says, 'We wish to give besides taking, and we should often like to give more than we can hope to give.' Let us look into this, and see the manner in which Germany expresses her yearning to impoverish herself for the sake of Turkey.
All this reorganisation of the Turkish army was of course a very expensive affair, and required skilful financing, and it was necessary to get the whole of Turkey's exchequer arrangements into German hands. A series of financial regulations was promulgated. The Finance Minister, during 1916, was still Turkish, but the official immediately under him was a German. He was authorised to deposit with the Controllers of the Ottoman National Debt German Imperial Bills of £T30,000,000, and to issue German paper money to the like amount. This arrangement insures the circulation of the German notes, which are redeemable by Turkey in gold two years after the declaration of peace. Gold is declared to be the standard currency, and no creditor is obliged to accept in payment of a debt more than 300 piastres in silver or fifty in nickel. And since there is no gold in currency (for it has been all called in, and penalties of death have been authorised for hoarders) it follows that this and other issues of German paper will filter right through the Empire. At the same time a German expert, Dr. Kautz, was appointed to start banks throughout Turkey in order to free the peasants from the Turkish village usurer, and in consequence enslave them to the German banks. Similarly a German was put at the head of the Ottoman Agricultural Bank. These new branches worked very well, but it is pleasant to think that one such was started by the Deutsche Bank at Bagdad in October 1916, which now has its shutters up. Before this, as we learn from the Oesterreichischer Volkswirt (June 1916), Germany had issued other gold notes, in payment for gold from Turkey, which is retainable in Berlin till six months after the end of the war. (It is reasonable to wonder whether it will not be retained rather longer than that.) These gold notes were accepted willingly at first by the public, but the increase in their number (by the second issue) has caused them to be viewed with justifiable suspicion, and the depreciation in them continues. But the Turkish public has no redress except by hoarding gold, which is a penal offence. That these arrangements have not particularly helped Turkish credit may be gathered from the fact that the Turkish gold £1, nominally 100 piastres, was very soon worth 280 piastres in the German paper standard, and it now fetches a great deal more.
Again, the Deutsche Orientbank has made many extensions, and is already financing cotton and wool trade for after the war. The establishment of this provoked much applause in German financial circles, who find it to be an instance of the 'far-reaching and powerful Germano-Austrian unity, which replaces the disunion of Turkish finance.' This is profoundly true, especially if we omit the word 'Austrian' inserted for diplomatic reasons. Again we find Germany advancing £3,000,000 of German paper to the Turkish Government in January 1917, for the payment of supplies they have received from Krupp's works and (vaguely) for interest to the German Financial Minister. This, too, we may conjecture, is to be redeemed after the war in gold.
In March of this year we find in the report of the Ottoman Bank a German loan of £1,000,000 for the purchase of agricultural implements by Turkey, and this is guaranteed by house-taxes. In all up to that month, as was announced in the Chamber of Deputies at Constantinople, Germany had advanced to Turkey the sum of £142,000,000, entirely, it would seem, in German paper, to be repaid at various dates in gold. The grip, in fact, is a strangle-hold, all for Turkey's good, as no doubt will prove the 'New Conventions' announced by Zimmermann in May 1917, to take the place of the abolished Capitulations, 'which left Turkey at the mercy of predatory Powers who looked for the disruption of the Ottoman Empire.' Herr Zimmermann does not look for that: he looks for its absorption. And sees it.
The industrial development of Turkey by this benevolent and disinterested Power has been equally thorough and far-reaching, though Germany here has had a certain amount of competition by Hungary to contend against, for Hungary considered that Germany was trespassing on her sphere of interest. But she has been able to make no appreciable headway against her more acute partner, and her application for a monopoly of sugar-production was not favourably received, for Germany already had taken the beet industry well in hand. In Asia Minor the acreage of cultivation early in 1917 had fallen more than 50 per cent. from that under crops before the war, but owing to the importation of machinery from the Central Powers, backed up by a compulsory Agricultural Service Law, which has just been passed, it is hoped that the acreage will be increased this year by something like 30 per cent. The yield per acre also will be greatly increased this year, for Germany has, though needing artificial manures badly herself, sent large quantities into Turkey, where they will be more profitably employed. She has no fear about securing the produce. This augmented yield will, it is true, not be adequate to supply the needs of Turkey, who for the last two years has suffered from very acute food shortage, which in certain districts has amounted to famine and wholesale starvation of the poorer classes. But it is unlikely that their needs will be considered at all, for Germany's needs (she, the fairy godmother of the Pan-Turk ideal) must obviously have the first call on such provisions as are obtainable. Thus, in the new preserved meat factory at Aidin, the whole of the produce is sent to Germany. Thus, too, though in February 1917 there was a daily shortage in Smyrna of 700 sacks of flour, and the Arab and Greek population was starving, no flour at all was allowed to be imported into Smyrna. But simultaneously Germany was making huge purchases of fish, meat, and flour in Constantinople (paid for in German paper), including 100,000 sheep. Yet such was the villainous selfishness of the famine-stricken folk at Adrianople that, when the trains containing these supplies were passing through, a mob held them up and sold the contents to the inhabitants. That, however, was an isolated instance, and in any case a law was passed in October 1916, appointing a military commission to control all supplies. It enacts that troops shall be supplied first, and specially ordains that the requirements of German troops come under this head. (Private firms have been expressly prohibited from purchasing these augmented wheat supplies, but special permission was given in 1915 to German and Austro-Hungarian societies to buy.) A few months later we find that there are a hundred deaths daily in Constantinople from starvation, and two hundred in Smyrna, where there is a complete shortage of oil. But oil is still being sent to Germany, and during 1916 five hundred reservoirs of oil were sent there, each containing up to 15,000 kilogrammes. Similarly during this summer the price of fruit has gone up in Smyrna, for the Germans have reopened certain factories for preserving it and turning it into jam, which is being sent to Germany. The sugar is supplied from the new beet-fields of Konia. But Kultur must be supplied first, else Kultur would grow lean, and the Turkish God of Love will look after the Smyrniotes. It is no wonder that the blockade of Germany does not produce the desired result a little quicker, for food is already pouring in from Turkey, and when the artificial manures have produced their early harvest the stream will become a torrent.
The same paper (October 1916) announces to the Anatolian merchants that transport is now easy, owing to the arrival of engines and trucks from Germany, while Die Zeit (February 1917) prophesies a prosperous future for this Germano-Turkish cotton combine. Hitherto Turkey has largely imported cotton from England; now Turkey--thanks to German capital on terms above stated--will, in the process of internal development so unselfishly devised for her by Germany, grow cotton for herself, and be kind enough to give a preferential tariff to Germany.
A similarly bright future may be predicted for the sugar-beet industry at Konia, where are the irrigation works already referred to. Artesian wells have been sunk, and there is the suggestion to introduce Bulgarian labour in default of Turkish. As we have seen, Hungary attempted to obtain a monopoly with regard to sugar, but Germany has been victorious on this point (as on every other where she competes with Hungary), and has obtained the concession for a period of thirty years. She reaped the first-fruits this last spring (1917), when, on a single occasion, 350 trucks laden with sugar were despatched to Berlin. A similar irrigation scheme is bringing into cultivation the Makischelin Valley, near Aleppo, and Herr Wied has been appointed as expert for irrigation plant in Syria. There has been considerable shortage of coal, but now more is arriving from the Black Sea, and the new coal-fields at Rodosto will soon be giving an output.
Indeed, it would be easier to enumerate the industries and economical developments of Turkey over which Germany has not at the present moment got the control than those over which she has. In particular she has shown a parental interest in Turkish educational questions. She established last year, under German management, a school for the study of German in Constantinople; she has put under the protection of the German Government the Jewish institution at Haifa for technical education in Palestine; from Sivas a mission of schoolmasters has been sent to Germany for the study of German methods. Ernst Marré surmises that German will doubtless become compulsory even in the Turkish intermediate (secondary) schools. In April 1917, the first stone of the 'House of Friendship' was laid at Constantinople, the object of which institution is to create among Turkish students an interest in everything German, while earlier in the year arrangements were made for 10,000 Turkish youths to go to Germany to be taught trades. These I imagine were unfit for military service. With regard to such a scheme Halil Haled Bey praises the arrangement for the education of Turks in Germany. When they used to go to France, he tells us, 'they lost their religion' (certainly Prussian Got is nearer akin to Turkish Allah) 'and returned home unpatriotic and useless. In Germany they will have access to suitable religious literature' (Gott!) 'and must adopt all they see good in German methods without losing their original characteristics.' Comment on this script is needless. The hand is the hand of Halil Haled Bey, but the voice is the voice of Potsdam. Occasionally, but rarely, Austrian competition is seen. Professor Schmoller, in an Austrian quarterly review, shows jealousy of German influence, and we find, in October 1916, an Ottoman-Austrian college started at Vienna for 250 pupils of the Ottoman Empire. But Germany has 10,000 in Berlin. At Adana (where are the German irrigation works) the German-Turkish Society has opened a German school of 300, while, reciprocally, courses in Turkish have been organised at Berlin for the sake of future German colonists. In Constantinople the Tanin announces a course of lectures to be held by the Turco-German Friendship Society. Professor von Marx discoursed last April on foreign influence and the development of nations, with special reference to Turkey and the parallel case of Germany. A few months later we find Hilmet Nazim Bey, official head of the Turkish press, proceeding to Berlin to learn German press methods. A number of editors of Turkish papers will follow him, and soon, no doubt, the Turkish press will rival Cologne and Frankfort.
So much for German education, but her penetrative power extends into every branch of industry and economics. In November 1916, a Munich expert was put in charge of the College of Forestry, and an economic society was started in Constantinople on German lines with German instructors. Inoculation against small-pox, typhoid, and cholera was made compulsory; and we find that the Turkish Ministers of Posts, of Justice, and of Commerce, figureheads all of them, have Germans as their acting Ministers. In the same year a German was appointed as expert for silkworm breeding and for the cultivation of beet. Practically all the railways in Asia Minor are pure German concerns by right of purchase. Germany owns the Anatolian railway concession (originally British), with right to build to Angora and Konia; the Bagdad railway concession, with preferential rights over minerals; they have bought the Mersina-Adana Railway, with right of linking up to the Bagdad Railway; they have bought the Smyrna-Cassaba Railway, built with French capital. They have secured also the Haidar Pasha Harbour concession, thereby controlling and handling all merchandise arriving at railhead from the interior of Asia Minor. Already on the Bagdad Railway the big tunnels of Taurus and Amanus are available for narrow-gauge petrol-driven motors, and the broad-gauge line will soon be complete. Meanwhile railway construction is pushed on in all directions under German control, and the Turkish Minister of Finance (August 1916) allocated a large sum of German paper money for the construction of ordinary roads, military roads, local government roads, all of which are new to Turkey, but which will be useful for the complete German occupation which is being swiftly consolidated. To stop the mouths of the people, all political clubs have been suppressed by the Minister of the Interior, for Prussia does not care for criticism. To supply German ammunition needs, lead and zinc have been taken from the roofs of mosques and door-handles from mosque-gates, and the iron railings along the Champs de Mars at Pera have been carted away for the manufacture of bombs. Not long after eight truck-loads of copper were sent to Germany: these, I imagine, represent the first produce of copper roofs and utensils. A Turco-German convention signed in Berlin in January of this year, permits subjects of one country to settle in the other while retaining their nationality and enjoying trading and other privileges. In Lebanon Dr. König has opened an agricultural school for Syrians of all religions. In the Homs district the threatening plague of locusts in February 1917 was combatted by Germans; and a German expert, Dr. Bucher, had been already sent to superintend the whole question. For this concerns supplies to Germany, as does also the ordinance passed in the same month that two-thirds of all fish caught in the Lebanon district should be given to the military authorities (these are German), and that every fish weighing over six ounces in the Beirut district should be Korban also. The copper mines at Arghana Maden, near Diarbekr, are busy exporting their produce into Germany; the coal-mines at Rodosto will very soon be making a large output.
In the same noble spirit, we must suppose, German legal reforms were introduced in December 1916, to replace the Turkish Shuriat, and in the same month all the Turks in telegraph offices in Constantinople were replaced by Germans. Ernst Marré gives valuable advice to young Germans settling in Turkey. He particularly recommends them, knowing how religion is one of the strongest bonds in this murderous race, to 'trade in articles of devotion, in rosaries, in bags to hold the Koran,' and points out what good business might be built up in gramophones. Earlier in this year we find a 'German Oriental Trading Company' founded for the import of fibrous materials for needs of military authorities, and a great carpet business established at Urfa with German machinery that will supplant the looms of Smyrna. A saltpetre factory is established at Konia by Herr Toepfer, whose enterprise is rewarded with an Iron Cross and a Turkish decoration. The afforestation near Constantinople, ordered by the Ministry of Agriculture, is put into German hands, and in the vilayet of Aidin (April 1916) ninety concessions were granted to German capitalists to undertake the exploitation of metallic ores. Occasionally the German octopus finds it has gone too far for the moment, and releases some struggling limb of its victim, as, for instance, when we see that, in September 1916, the German Director's stamp for the 'Imperial German Great Radio Station' at Damascus has been discarded temporarily, as that station 'should be treated for the present as a Turkish concern.'
A 'Trading and Weaving Company' was established at Angora in 1916, an 'Import and Export Company' at Smyrna, a 'Trading and Industrial Society' at Beirut, a 'Tobacco Trading Company' at Latakieh, an 'Agricultural Company' at Tripoli, a 'Corn Exporting Company' in Lebanon, a 'Rebuilding Commission' (perhaps for sacked Armenian houses) at Konia. More curious yet will be a Tourist's Guide Book--a Baedeker, in fact--for travellers in Anatolia, and the erection of a monument in honour of Turkish women who have replaced men called up for military duty. Truly these last two items--a guide-book for Anatolia, and a monument to women--are strange enterprises for Turks. A new Prussian day is dawning, it seems, for Turkish women as well, for the Tanin (April 1917) tells us that diplomas are to be conferred on ladies who have completed their studies in the Technical School at Constantinople.
It is needless to multiply instances of German penetration: I have but given the skeleton of this German monster that has fastened itself with tentacles and suckers on every branch of Turkish industry. There is none round which it has not cast its feelers--no Semitic moneylender ever obtained a surer hold on his victim. In matters naval, military, educational, legal, industrial, financial, Germany has a strangle-hold. Turkey's life is already crushed out of her, and, as we have seen, it has been crushed out of her by the benevolent Kultur-mongers, who, among all the Great Powers of Europe, invested their time and their money in the achievement of the Pan-Turkish ideal. Silently and skilfully they worked, bamboozling their chief tool, Enver Pasha, even as Enver Pasha bamboozled us. As long as he was of service to them they retained him; for his peace of mind at one time they stopped up all letter-boxes in Constantinople because so many threatening letters were sent him. But now Enver Pasha seems to have had his day; he became a little autocratic, and thought that he was the head of the Pan-Turkish ideal. So he was, but the Pan-Turkish ideal had become Pan-Prussian, and he had not noticed the transformation. Talaat Bey has taken his place; it was he who, in May 1917, was received by the Emperor William, by King Ludwig, and by the Austrian Emperor, and he who was the mouthpiece of the German efforts to make a separate peace with Russia. Under Czardom, he proclaimed, the existence of Turkey was threatened, but now the revolution has made friendship possible, for Russia no longer desires territorial annexation. And, oh, how Turkey would like to be Russia's friend! Enver Pasha has of late been somewhat out of favour in Berlin, and I cannot but think it curious that when, on April 2, 1917, he visited the submarine base at Wilhelmshaven, he was very nearly killed in a motor accident. But it may have been an accident. Since then I cannot find that he has taken any more active part in Pan-Turkish ideals than to open a soup-kitchen in some provincial town, and lecture the Central Committee of the Young Turks on the subject of internal affairs in Great Britain. I do not like lectures, but I should have liked to hear that one.
I have left to the end of this chapter the question of Germany's knowledge of, and complicity in the Armenian massacres. From the tribune of the Reichstag, on January 15, 1916, there was made a definite denial of the existence of such massacres at all; on another subsequent occasion it was stated that Germany could not interfere in Turkish internal affairs.
In view of the fact that there is no internal affair appertaining to Turkey in which Germany has not interfered, the second of these statements may be called insincere. But the denial of the massacres is a deliberate lie. Germany--official Germany--knew all about them, and she permitted them to go on. A few proofs of this are here shortly stated.
(1) In September 1915, four months before the denial of the massacres was made in the Reichstag, Dr. Martin Niepage, higher grade teacher in the German Technical School at Aleppo, prepared and sent, as we have seen, in his name, and that of several of his colleagues, a report of the massacres to the German Embassy at Constantinople. In that report he gives a terrible account of what he has seen with his own eyes, and also states that the country Turks' explanation with regard to the origin of these measures is that it was 'the teaching of the Germans.' The German Embassy at Constantinople therefore knew of the massacres, and knew also that the Turks attributed them to orders from Germany. Dr. Niepage also consulted, before sending his report, with the German Consul at Aleppo, Herr Hoffman, who told him that the German Embassy had been already advised in detail about the massacres from the consulates at Alexandretta, Aleppo, and Mosul, but that he welcomed a further protest on the subject.
(2) These reports, or others like them, had not gone astray, for in August 1915, the German Ambassador in Constantinople, Baron Wangenheim, made a formal protest to the Turkish Government about the massacres.
There is, then, no doubt that the German Government, when it officially denied the massacres, was perfectly cognisant of them. It was also perfectly capable of stopping them, for they were not local violences, but wholesale murders organised at Constantinople. In support of this view I find an independent witness stating that 'there is no Turk of standing who will not readily declare that it would have been perfectly possible for Germany to have vetoed the massacres had she chosen.' Germany had indeed already given assurances that such massacres should not occur. She had assured the Armenian Katholikos at Adana that so long as Germany has any influence in Turkey he need not fear a repetition of the horrors that had taken place under Abdul Hamid. Had she, then, no influence in Constantinople, or how was it that she had obtained complete control over all Turkish branches of government? The same assurance was given by the German Ambassador in April 1915, to the Armenian Patriarch and the President of the Armenian National Council.
So, in support of the Pan-Turkish ideal, and in the name of the Turkish Allah, the God of Love, Germany stood by and let the infamous tale of lust and rapine and murder be told to its end. The Turks had planned to exterminate the whole Armenian race except some half-million, who would be deported penniless to work on agricultural developments under German rule, but this quality of Turkish mercy was too strained for Major Pohl, who proclaimed that it was a mistake to spare so many. But he was a soldier, and did not duly weigh the claims of agriculture.
The choice was open to Germany; Germany chose, and let the Armenian massacres go on. But she was in a difficulty. What if the Turkish Government retorted (perhaps it did so retort), 'You are not consistent. Why do you mind about the slaughter of a few Armenians? What about Belgium and your atrocities there?'
And all the ingenuity of the Wilhelmstrasse would not be able to find an answer to that.
I do not say that Germany wanted the massacres, for she did not. She wanted more agricultural labour, and I think that, if only for that reason, she deprecated them. But she allowed them to go on when it was in her power to stop them, and all the perfumes of Arabia will not wash clean her hand from that stinking horror.
Here, then, are some of the problems which those who, at the end of the war, will have to deal with the problem of Turkey must tackle. It is just as well to recognise that at the present moment Turkey is virtually and actually a German colony, and the most valuable colony that Germany has ever had. It will not be enough to limit, or rather abolish, the supremacy of Turkey over aliens and martyrised peoples; it will be necessary first to abolish the supremacy of Germany over Turkey. To do this the victory of our Allied Nations must be complete, and Germany's octopus envelopment of Turkish industries severed. Otherwise we shall immediately be confronted with a Germany that already reaches as far as Mesopotamia. That is done now; and that, before there can come any permanent peace for Europe, must be undone. Nothing less than the complete release of that sucker and tentacle embrace will suffice.
As throwing a sidelight on the German complicity in the Armenian massacres, the following is of interest. It is known that when Metternich succeeded Wangenheim as German Ambassador in Constantinople, he brought with him a speech, written in Berlin, which, by the Kaiser's orders, he was to read when presenting his credentials to the Sultan. This contained a sentence which implied that Germany had been unable to stop the Armenian massacres. Talaat refused to allow the speech to be read, obviously because it threw the responsibility of the massacres on to the Turks, whereas the accepted opinion in Turkey was that they took place with the connivance and even at the instigation of the Germans. Eventually a compromise was arrived at, and the speech in toto was read privately, the part referring to the Armenian massacre not being published.... It is a pity that Germany is always found out....
Let us commit the crime of lèse-majesté, and assume (though the Emperor Wilhelm II. has repeatedly announced the contrary) that Germany is not at the conclusion of the European War to find herself in possession of the world. She has prepared her plans in anticipation of the auspicious event; in fact she has had a most interesting map of Europe produced which, except by its general shape, is scarcely recognisable. The printing of it, it is true, was a little premature, for it shows what Europe was to have been like in 1916, and the apportionments are not borne out by facts. But assuming that there is some radical error about it all from her point of view, and assuming that there will not be either a conclusive peace favourable to Prussian interests, or even an inconclusive peace, but one in which the Allies will be able to dictate and enforce their own terms, the magnitude of the problems that will await their decision may well appal the most ingenious of their statesmen. And of all those problems none, it is safe to prophesy, will be found more difficult of solution than that which will deal with the future of the corrupt and barbarous Government which has for centuries made hell of the Ottoman Empire. We know more or less what will happen to Alsace and Lorraine, to Belgium, to the Trentino, because in those cases the claims of one or other of our Allies to demand a particular settlement are quite certain to be agreed to by those not so immediately and vitally concerned. But in the Balkans these problems will be more complicated because of conflicting interests, and most complicated of all will they be in Turkey. One thing, however, is certain, that there can be no going back to the conditions that existed there before the war.
Ever since the Osmanlis came out of remoter Asia into the Nearer East and into Europe, the government of their Empire has gone from bad to worse. In the early days, as we have seen, their policy was to absorb the strength of their subject peoples by incorporating the youth of them into the Turkish army, by giving them Turkish wives, and by converting them to Mohammedanism. Such was the foundation of the Empire and such its growth. But having absorbed their strength, the Sultan's Government neglected them until they milked them again. They were allowed to prosper if they could: all that was demanded of them was a toll of their strength. They were cattle, and for the right to graze on Turkish lands they paid back a pail of their milk of manhood. But an empire founded on such principles contains within it active and prolific seeds of decay, and, as we have seen, more stringent measures had to be resorted to in order to preserve the supremacy of the ruling people. Instead of absorbing their strength, Abdul Hamid hit upon the new method of killing them, so that the Turks should still maintain their domination. And the policy set on foot by him was developed but a few years ago into a scheme of slaughter, which in atrocity has far surpassed the killings of Attila, of whom the Nationalist poet sings, or even the designs of the deposed Sultan. The Armenian nation, with the exception of such part of it as has escaped into Russian territory, has been exterminated, and similar measures have been planned and indeed begun, against the Greeks, the Arabs, and the Jews.
In consequence of this, in consequence also of the European War, the policy of the Balance of Power as regards Turkey has been at length abandoned. The Allies have definitely declared in their joint note to President Wilson their aims in the war, and for those they have pledged themselves to fight until final and complete victory wreathes their arms. Among these aims are:--
(1) The liberation of the peoples who now lie beneath the murderous tyranny of the Turks.
(2) The expulsion from Europe of the Ottoman Empire, which has proved itself so radically alien to Western civilisation.
For a century that most inharmonious of orchestras called the Concert of Europe has, owing to the exigencies of the Balance of Power, kept Turkey together, and in particular has maintained the centre of its government at Constantinople simply because the Balance of Power would be upset if anybody else held the key of the straits that separate Russia from the Mediterranean. England, above all others, was instrumental in preserving that precarious Balance, and England now must confess the utter failure of her policy there throughout a century. It is humiliating to acknowledge the complete collapse of that which for so many decades has been the keystone of our ruling with regard to our Eastern Empire, but the arch has collapsed; Germany pulled the keystone out, and all our efforts to exclude Russia from free access to the Mediterranean have only resulted in letting Germany in. To-day she holds Constantinople, and the bitter pill must be swallowed. The situation, as it stands at this moment, is infinitely worse than it could have been for a century back, if at any moment during those hundred years we had done what we always ought to have done, and declared that the anachronism of Turkey being in Europe was more intolerable than anything that could happen in consequence of her expulsion. But we have acknowledged that now. We have also acknowledged the even greater anachronism of Turkey being allowed to dispose of the destinies of any of those peoples who inhabit the territories of the Ottoman Empire, for the Allies, in their joint Note, have declared that the remedy of these two monstrous abuses forms an essential part of their aim in the war, which in costliness of life and of treasure has already far exceeded any cataclysm that could have come to Europe through its doing its clear and Christian duty with regard to Turkey during the preceding hundred years. And among the benefits which eventually mankind will reap in the fields that have been sown by the blood of the slain will be the fact that the Confusion of Europe will have accomplished a task which the Concert of Europe was too craven of consequences to undertake; and Constantinople and the subject peoples of the Turks will have passed from the yoke of that murderous tyranny for ever.
We will take these two avowed aims of the Allies in order, and first try to draw (though with diffident pencil) some sketch of what will be the confines of the Ottoman Empire, when we pluck the fruits of the great crusade against the barbarism of Turkey and of Germany. It is quite useless to attempt to keep the map as it was, and peg out claims within the Empire where we shall proclaim that Arabs and Greeks and Armenians shall live in peace, for it is exactly that plan which has formed a century's failure. At the International Congress of Berlin, for instance, a solemn pact was entered into by Turkey for the reform of the Armenian vilayets. She carried out her promise by slaughtering every Armenian male, and outraging every Armenian woman who inhabited them. The soi-disant protectorate of Crete was not a whit more successful in securing for the Cretans a tolerable existence, and the Allies had to bring it to an end twenty years ago, and free them from the execrable yoke; while finally the repudiation by Turkey of the Capitulations, which provided some sort of guarantee for the safety of foreign peoples in Turkey, has shown us, if further proof was needed, the value of covenants with the Osmanli. It must be rendered impossible for Turkey to repeat such outrages: the soil where her alien peoples dwell must be hers no more, and any Turkish aggression on that soil must be, ipso facto, an act of war against the European Power under the protection of whom such a province is placed.
The difficulty of this part of the problem is not so great as might at first appear. We do not, when we come to look at it in detail, find such a conflict of interests as would seem to face us on a general view. Even the precarious Balance of Power was not upset by a quantity of similar adjustments made by the Concert of Europe during the last hundred years. The Powers freed Serbia, giving Turkey first a suzerainty over her, and finally abolishing that: they freed Bulgaria, they freed Greece, Eastern Rumelia, Macedonia, Albania. But, as by some strange lapse of humanity, they always regarded the subject peoples of Turkey in Asia as more peculiarly Turkish, as if at the Bosporus a new moral geography began, and massacre in Asia was comparatively venial as compared with massacre in Europe. But now the Allies have said that there must be no more massacres in Asia, nor any possibility of them. To secure this, it will be necessary to sever from Turkey the lands where the alien peoples dwell, and form autonymous provinces under the protectorate of one or other of the allied nations. In most cases we shall find that there is a protecting Power more or less clearly indicated, whose sphere of interest is obviously concerned with one or other of these new and independent provinces.
The alien race which for the last thirty years has suffered the most atrociously from Turkish inhumanity is that of the Armenians, and it is fitting to begin our belated campaign of liberation with it. If the reader will turn to the map at the end of this book, he will see that the district marked Armenia lies at the north-west corner of the old Ottoman Empire, and extends across its frontiers into Russian Trans-Caucasia. That indicates the district which once was peopled by Armenians. To-day, owing to the various Armenian massacres, the latest of which, described in another chapter, was by far the most appalling, such part of Armenia as lies in the Ottoman Empire is practically, and probably absolutely, depopulated of its Armenian inhabitants. Such as survive, apart from the women whose lives were spared on their professing Islamism and entering Turkish harems, have escaped beyond the Russian frontier, and are believed to number about a quarter of a million. In the meantime their homes have partly been destroyed and partly occupied by mouhadjirs from Thrace, and by the Kurds who were largely instrumental in butchering them. Their lands have been appropriated haphazardly, by, any who laid hands on them.
Here the problem is of no great difficulty. The robber-tenants must be evicted, and the remnant of the Armenians repatriated. Without exception they escaped into Trans-Caucasia from villages and districts near the frontier, else they could never have escaped from the pursuing Turks and Kurds. Naturally, this remnant of a people will not nearly suffice to fill their entire province, but in order to satisfy the claims of justice at all adequately, the whole district of Armenia, as Armenia was known before its people were exterminated, must be amputated by a clean cut out of the Ottoman Empire and placed, in an autonomous condition in a new protected province, which will include all the vilayets of Armenia.
There is no doubt about a prosperous future for Armenia if this is done, and to do less than this would be to fail signally as regards the solemn promise made by the Allies when they stated to President Wilson their aims in the war. The Armenians have ever been a thrifty and industrious people, possessed of an inherent vitality which has withstood centuries of fiendish oppression. With facilities given them for their re-settlement, and with foreign protection to establish them, they will, beyond question, more than hold their own against the Kurds. As a nation they are, as we have seen, partly agricultural in their pursuits; but a considerable proportion of them (and these the more intelligent) are men of business, merchants, doctors, educationalists, and gravitate to towns. Constantinople, as we shall see, will be open to them again, where lately they numbered nearly as many as the entire remnant of their nation numbers now; so, too, will be the cities of Syria, of Palestine, and of Mesopotamia in the New Turkey which we are attempting to sketch. They will probably not care to settle in the towns and districts that will remain in the hands of their late oppressors and murderers.
In the work of their repatriation none will be more eager to help than the American missionaries, who, at the time of the last massacre, as so often before, showed themselves so nobly disregardant of all personal danger and risk in doing their utmost for their murdered flock, and who have explicitly declared their intention of resuming their work. With regard to the eviction of Kurds that will be necessary, it must be remembered that the Kurd is a trespasser on the plains and towns of Armenia, and properly belongs to the mountains from which he was encouraged to descend by the Turks for purposes of massacre. Out of those towns and plains he must go, either into the mountains of Armenia from whence he came, or over the frontier of Armenia into the New Turkey presently to be defined. He must, in fact, be deported, though not in the manner of the deportations at which he himself so often assisted.
The Armenians who will thus be reinstated within the boundaries of their own territory, will be practically penniless and without any of the means or paraphernalia of life, and the necessary outlay on supplies for them, and the cost of their rehabilitation would naturally fall on the protecting Power. They will, however, be free from the taxes they have hitherto paid to the Turks, and it should not be difficult for them by means of taxes far less oppressive, to pay an adequate interest on the moneys expended on them. These would thus take the form of a very small loan, the whole of which could easily be repaid by the Armenians in the course of a generation or so. Once back on their own soil, and free from Turkish tyranny and the possibility of it, they are bound to prosper, even as they have prospered hitherto in spite of oppressions and massacres up till the year 1915, when, as we have seen, the liberal and progressive Nationalists organised and executed the extermination from which so few escaped.
It is hardly necessary to point out who the protecting Power would be in the case of the repatriated Armenians, for none but Russia is either desirable or possible. With one side along the Russian frontier of Trans-Caucasia, the New Armenia necessarily falls into the sphere of Russian influence.
It has been suggested that not only Armenia proper, but part of Cilicia should also become a district of the repatriated Armenians, with an outlet to the sea. But while it is true that complete compensation would demand this, since Zeitun and other districts in Cilicia were almost pure Armenian settlements, I cannot think that such a restoration is desirable. For, in the first place, the extermination of the Zeitunlis (as carried out by Jemal the Great) was practically complete. All the men were slaughtered, and it does not seem likely that any of the women and girls who were deported reached the 'agricultural colony' of Deir-el-Zor in the Arabian desert. It is therefore difficult to see of whom the repatriation would consist. In the second place, the New Armenia will be for several generations to come of an area more than ample for all the Armenians who have survived the flight into Russia, and it obviously will give them the best chance of corporate prosperity, if the whole of them are repatriated in a compact body rather than that a portion of them should be formed into a mere patch severed from their countrymen by so large a distance. Another sphere of influence also will be operating near the borders of Cilicia, and to place the Armenians under two protecting Powers would have serious disadvantages. In addition they never were a sea-going people, and I cannot see what object would be served by giving them a coast-board. In any case, if a coast-board was found necessary, the most convenient would be the coast-board of the Black Sea, lying adjacent to their main territory.
If it seems clear that for New Armenia the proper protecting Power is Russia, it is no less clear that for the freed inhabitants of New Syria, Arabs and Greeks alike, the proper protecting Power is France. Historically France's connection with Syria dates from the time of the Crusades in 1099; it has never been severed, and of late years the ties between the two countries have been both strengthened and multiplied. The Treaties of Paris, of London, of San Stefano, and of Berlin have all recognised the affiliation; so, too, from an ecclesiastical standpoint, have the encyclicals of Leo XIII. in 1888 and 1898. Similarly, it was France who intervened in the Syrian massacres of 1845, who landed troops for the protection of the Maronites in 1860, and established a protectorate of the Lebanon there a few years later, which lasted up till the outbreak of the European War. France was the largest holder, as she was also the constructor, of Syrian railways, and the harbour of Beirut, without doubt destined to be one of the most flourishing ports of the Eastern Mediterranean, was also a French enterprise. And perhaps more important than all these, as a link between Syria and France, has been the educational penetration which France has effected there. What the American missionaries did for Armenia, France has done for Syria, and according to a recent estimate, of the 65,000 children who attended European schools throughout Syria, not less than 40,000 attended French schools. When we consider that that proportion has been maintained for many years in Syria, it can be estimated how strong the intellectual bond between the Syrian and the French now is. The French language, similarly, is talked everywhere: it is as current as is modern Greek in ports of the Levant.
In virtue of such claims few, if any, would dispute the title of France to be the protecting Power in the case of Syria. Here there will not be, as was the case with the Armenians, any work of repatriation to be done. Such devastation and depopulation as has been wrought by Jemal the Great, with hunger and disease to help him, was wrought on the spot, and, though it will take many years to heal the wounds inflicted by that barbaric plagiarist of Potsdam, it is exactly the deft and practical sympathy of the French with the race they have so long tended, which will most speedily bring back health to the Syrians.
It will be with regard to the geographical limits of a French protectorate that most difficulty is likely to be experienced; there will also be points claiming careful solution, as will be seen later, with regard to railway control. Northwards and eastwards the natural delimitations seem clear enough: northwards French Syria would terminate with, and include, the province of Aleppo, eastwards the Syrian desert marks its practical limits, the technical limit being supplied by the course of the Euphrates. But southwards there is no such natural line of demarcation; the Arab occupation stretches right down till it reaches the Hedjaz, which already has thrown off the Turkish yoke and, under the Shereef of Mecca, declared its independence. Inset into this long strip of territory lies Palestine.
Now to make one single French protectorate over this very considerable territory seems at first sight a large order, but the objections to any other course are many and insuperable. Should the line of French influence be drawn farther north than the Hedjaz, under what protection is the intervening territory to be left? At present it is Turkish, but inhabited by Arabs, and, unless the Allies revoke the fulness of their declaration not to leave alien peoples under the 'murderous tyranny' of the Turks, Turkish it cannot remain. But both by geographical situation and by racial interest, it belongs to French-protected Syria, and there seems no answer to the question as to what sphere of influence it comes under if not under the French. Just as properly, if we take this view of the question, the Sinaitic Peninsula, largely desert, would fall to Egypt, the French protectorate being defined westwards at Akabah. That the Eastern side of the Gulf of Suez should not be under the same control as the Western has always been an anomaly, admitted even by the sternest opponents of the status of Egypt; and in the absence of any canal corresponding to that of Suez, and debouching into the Red Sea via the Gulf of Akabah, the most advanced champion of French influence in the Near East would see no objection to this rectified frontier. There is no question of competition involved. The proposed change is but a rational rectification of the present status.
This scheme of delimitation leaves Palestine inset into the
French protectorate of Syria, and it is difficult to see to
whom the protectorate of Palestine should be properly assigned
except to France. Italy has no expansive ambitions in that
sector of the Mediterranean; England's national sphere of
influence in this partition of the districts now occupied by
alien peoples in the Ottoman Empire lies obviously elsewhere;
and since the Jews, who settled in ever-increasing numbers in
Palestine before the war, and will assuredly continue to settle
there again, come and will come as refugees from the Russian
Pale, it would be clearly inadvisable to assign to Russia the
protectorate of her own refugees. The only other alternative
would be to create an independent Palestine for the Jews, and
the reasons against that are overwhelming. It would be merely
playing into the hands of Germany to make such an arrangement.
For the last thirty years Germany has watched with personal and
special interest this immigration of Jews into Palestine,
seeing in it not so much a Jewish but a German expansion.
Indeed, when, in the spring of this year, as we have noticed, a
massacre and deportation of Jews was planned and begun by
Jemal, Germany so far reversed her usual attitude towards
massacres in general, and her expressed determination never to
interfere in Turkey's internal affairs, as to lodge a
peremptory protest, and of course got the persecution instantly
stopped. Her reason was that Pan-Turkish 'ideals' (the
equivalent for the massacre of alien people) had no sort of
meaning in Palestine. But the Pan-Germanic ideals had a great
deal of meaning in Palestine, as Dr. Davis Treitsch (Die
Jüden der Türkei) very clearly states. For 'as a
result of the war,' he tells us, 'there will be an emigration
of East-European Jews on an unprecedented scale
... the disposal of the East European Jews will be a problem for Germany
(and) Germans will be only too glad to find a way out in the emigration of those Jews to Turkey, a solution extraordinarily favourable to the interests of all three [sic] parties concerned. There are grounds for talking of a German protectorate over the whole of Jewry.'
Now this is explicit enough; Germany clearly contemplated a protectorate over Palestine, and if the Jews who are German-speaking Jews are left independent, there is nothing more certain than that, after the war, her penetration of Palestine will instantly begin. These colonists are, and will be, in want of funds for the development and increase of their cultivated territories, and when we consider the names of the prominent financiers in the Central Empires, Mendelssohn, Hirsch, Goldsmid, Bleichroeder, Speyer, to name only a few, we cannot be in much doubt as to the quarter from which that financial assistance will be forthcoming, on extremely favourable terms. It is safe to prophesy that, if Palestine is given independence without protectorate, in three years from the end of the war it will be under not only a protectorate, but a despotism as complete as ever ruled either Turkey or Prussia. True it is that the Zionist movement will offer, even as it has offered in the past, a strenuous opposition to Germanisation, but it would be crediting it with an inconceivable vitality to imagine that it will be able to resist the blandishments that Germany is certainly prepared to shower on it. For great as is the progress the Jewish settlers made in Palestine during the twenty or twenty-five years before the war, and strong as is the spirit of Zionism, the emigrants do not as yet number more than about 120,000, nor have they under crops more than ten per cent. of the cultivated land of Palestine. They are as yet but settlers, and their work is before them. If left without a protectorate they will not be without a protectorate long, but not such an one as the Allies desire. A protectorate there must be, and no reason is really of weight against that protectorate being French. Let that, then, extend from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates, and from Alexandretta to where the Hedjaz already prospers in its self-proclaimed independence. It will be completely severed from Turkey by tracts under protection of one or other of the Allied Powers, any expedition through which would be an act of war.
The Euphrates, then, will form the eastern boundary of the French protectorate: it will also, it is hoped, form the western boundary of the English protectorate, which we know as Mesopotamia. Just as no other Power has any real claim to Armenia, except Russia, just as Syria can fall to no other than France, it seems equally clear that the proper sphere of English influence is in this plain that stretches southwards from the semicircle of hills where the two great rivers approach each other near Diarbekr to the head of the Persian Gulf. As Germany very well knows, it is intimately concerned with our safe tenure of India, and the hold the Germans hoped to gain over it, and have for ever lost, by their possession of the Bagdad Railway was vital to their dreams of world-conquest. Equally vital to England was it that Germany should never get it. But its importance to us as a land-route to India is by no means the only reason why an English sphere of influence is indicated here: it is the possibilities it harbours, which, as far as can be seen, England is the only Power capable of developing, that cause us to put in a claim for its protectorate which none of our Allies will dispute.
To restore Mesopotamia to the rank it has held, and to the rank it still might hold among the productive districts of the East, there is needed a huge capital for outlay, and a huge population of workers. Even Germany, in her nightmare of world-dominion, from which she shall be soon dragged screaming-awake, never formulated a scheme for the restoration of Southern Mesopotamia to its productive pre-eminence, and never so much as contemplated it, except as an object that would be possible of realisation after the Empire of India had fallen over-ripe into her pelican mouth. Therein she was perfectly right--she usually is right in these dreams of empire in so far as they are empirical--for she seems dimly to have conjectured in these methodical visions, that India was the key to unlock Southern Mesopotamia. But nowhere can I find that she guessed it: I only guess that she guessed it.
This problem of capital outlay and of the necessary man-power for work and restoration applies exclusively to Southern Mesopotamia, which we may roughly define as the district stretching from Samara on the Tigris and Hit on the Euphrates to the Persian Gulf. Northern Mesopotamia, as Dr. Rohrbach points out in his Bagdadbahn, needs only the guarantee of security of life and property to induce the Kurds to descend from the hills and the Bedouin Arabs to settle down there; and by degrees, under a protectorate that insures them against massacre and confiscation of property, there seems no doubt that the area of cultivation will spread and something of the ancient prosperity return. The land is immensely fertile: it is only Ottoman misrule, which here, as everywhere else, has left desolation in the place of prosperity and death in place of life. The rainfall is adequate, the climate suitable to those who will naturally spread there: it needs only freedom from the murderous tyranny that has bled it for centuries past, to guarantee its future prosperity.
But Southern Mesopotamia is a totally different proposition. The land lies low between the rivers, and, though of unparalleled fertility, yields under present conditions but a precarious livelihood to its sparse population. For nine months of the year it is a desert, for three months when its rivers are in flood, a swamp. Once, as we all know, it was the very heart of civilisation, and from its arteries flowed out the life-blood of the world. Rainfall was scarcely existent, any more than it is existent in Southern or Upper Egypt; but in the days of Babylon the Great there were true rulers and men of wisdom over these desiccated regions, who saw that every drop of water in the river, that now pours senselessly through swamp and desert into the sea, was a grain of corn or a stalk of cotton. They dug canals, they made reservoirs, and harnessed like some noble horse of the gods the torrents that now gallop unbridled through dreary deserts. The black land, the Sawad, was then the green land of waving corn, where three crops were annually harvested and the average yield was two hundredfold of the seed sown. The wheat and barley, so Herodotus tells us, were a palm-breadth long in the blade, and millet and sesame grew like trees. And in these details the revered Father of Lies seems to have spoken less than the truth, for the statistics we get elsewhere more than bear out his accounts of its amazing fertility. From its wealth before his day had arisen the might of Babylon, and for centuries later, while the canals still regulated the water supply, it remained the granary of the world. More than a thousand years after Herodotus there were over 12,500,000 acres in cultivation, and the husbandmen thereof with the dwellers in its cities numbered 5,000,000 men. Then came the Arab invasion, which was bad enough, but colossally worse was the invasion of the Osmanli. Truly 'a fruitful land maketh He barren, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.'
But the potentiality for production of that great alluvial plain is not diminished; the Turks could not dispose of that by massacre, as a means of weakening the strength of their subject peoples. It is still there, ready to respond to the spell of the waters of Tigris and Euphrates, which once, when handled and controlled, caused it to be the Garden of the Lord.
Not long before the present European War Sir William Willcocks, under whose guidance the great modern irrigation works at Assouan were constructed, was appointed adviser to the Ottoman Ministry of Public Works, and his report on the Irrigation of Mesopotamia was issued in 1911. He tells us that the whole of this delta of the Sawad is capable of easy levelling and reclamation. It would naturally be a gigantic scheme, and he takes as a basis to start on the question of the refertilisation of 4,000,000 acres. Into the details of it we need not go, but his conclusions, calculated on a thoroughly conservative basis, give the following results. He proposes to restore, of course with modern technical improvements, the old system of canals, and, allowing for interest on loans, estimates the total expense at £26,000,000 (or the cost of the war for about three days). On this the annual value of the crops would pay 31 per cent. The figures need no enlargement in detail and no comment.
But now comes the difficulty: the construction of the irrigation works is easy, the profits are safe so long as the Tigris and 'the ancient river,' the river Euphrates, run their course. But all the irrigation works in the world will not raise a penny for the investor or a grain for the miller unless there are men to sow and gather the crops. A million are necessary: where are they to come from? And the answer is 'Egypt and India.'
This is precisely why the protectorate of Mesopotamia and its future must be in English hands, why no other country can undertake it with hope of success. Even the ingenious Dr. Rohrbach, whose Bagdadbahn I have quoted before, is forced to acknowledge that there is no solution to the man-power problem except by the 'introduction of Mohammedans from other countries where the climatic conditions of Irak prevail.' It is true that he starts upon the assumption that Mesopotamia will remain Turkish (under a German protectorate, as we read between his lines), with which we must be permitted to disagree, but his conclusion is quite correct. Even under German protection he realises that citizens of well-governed states will not flock by the million to put themselves under Turkish control, and he dismisses as inadequate the numbers of Syrians, Arabs, Armenians and Jews who can be transported to Mesopotamia from inside the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire. Their numbers are even more inadequate since the Armenian massacres permitted by Dr. Rohrbach's Fatherland, and even he cannot picture a million of his own countrymen forsaking the beer-gardens for summers in the Sawad. He does not positively state our answer, that it is from India and Egypt that the man-power will be supplied, but, as mentioned before, I think he guesses it. His prophetic gifts are not convincing enough to himself to let him state the glorious future, when India and Egypt shall become German, but that, I feel sure, is his vision: 'he sees it, but not now; he beholds it, but not nigh.'
But we can give the answer which he does not quite like to state, since for the English it is clearly more easily realisable. The native labour we can supply from Egypt and India, especially India, will furnish a million labourers, and, if we wished, two millions without difficulty. But no Power except England can furnish it. And that, I submit, is the solution of the problem of Mesopotamia; a solution well within the power of English enterprise to attain in the hands of such men as have already bridled the Nile, the water-horsemen of the world. And I cannot do better, in trying to convey the spirit in which this work of reclamation should be undertaken, than by quoting some very noble words from Sir William Willcocks's report, in which he speaks of the desolation that has come to this garden of fruitfulness through wicked stewardship.
'The last voyage I made before coming to this country was up the Nile from Khartoum to the Equatorial lakes. In this most desperate and forbidding region I was filled with pride to think I belonged to a race whose sons, even in this inhospitable waste of waters, were struggling in the face of a thousand discouragements to introduce new forest trees and new agricultural products and ameliorate in some degree the conditions of life of the naked and miserable inhabitants. How should I have felt, if in traversing the deserts and swamps which to-day represent what was the richest and most famous tract in the world, I had thought that I was the scion of a race in whose hands God has placed, for hundreds of years, the destinies of this great country, and that my countrymen could give no better account of their stewardship than the exhibition of two mighty rivers flowing between deserts to waste themselves in the sea for nine months of the year, and desolating everything in their way for the remaining three? No effort that Turkey can make can be too great to roll away the reproach of those parched and weary lands, whose cry ascends to heaven.'
But the harvests of Mesopotamia, when gathered in, must needs be transported, and for that railways are necessary. Water transport would, of course, carry them easily down to the Persian Gulf, but the supply will be mainly, if not wholly, wanted westwards, and it must be conveyed to the shores of the Mediterranean. Already, in preparation for world-conquest, Germany has proceeded far with her construction of the Bagdad Railway, which was intended, after her absorption of Turkey, to link up Berlin with her next Oriental objective, namely, India; the Taurus has been tunnelled, the Euphrates bridged, and but for a hiatus of a few miles the line is practically complete from Constantinople into Northern Mesopotamia. But its route was chosen for German strategic reasons, for the linking up of Berlin with Constantinople and Bagdad. This, it may be permitted to say, does not form part of the schemes of the Allies: it is to snap rather than weld such links that they have taken the field. What we want in the matter of railway transport for the harvests of Mesopotamia, and generally for our Eastern communications, is not a line that passes through Turkish and German soil, and terminates at Berlin, but one which, after the directest possible land-route, reaches the Mediterranean and terminates in suitable ports.
The reader therefore is requested to unthink the present Bagdad Railway altogether, to 'scrap' it in his mind, as it will be probably scrapped on the map, since it is utterly useless for our purposes. For taking Aleppo as (roughly) the half-way house in the existent line, we find that the western half of it lies in Asia Minor, in territory which, as we shall see, will remain Turkish, while the eastern half of it makes a long detour instead of striking directly for Bagdad. After our experience with Turkey there is nothing less conceivable than that we should allow a single mile of our new Mesopotamia Railway to run through the territory of the Turks, for who knows that she might not (say when harvests are ripe and ready for delivery), on any arbitrary pretext, close or destroy the line, even as before now she has closed the Dardanelles? Besides, for our purposes, a line that goes to Constantinople (in whosoever hands Constantinople may be after the war) is out of the way and altogether unsuitable. Eastwards, again, from Aleppo the present Bagdad line is circuitous and indirect, admirably adapted to the German purposes for which it was constructed, but utterly unadapted to ours.
Let us then 'scrap' the existent Bagdad route altogether, and consider not what the Germans want, but what we want, which, as has been already stated, is a direct land communication with suitable Mediterranean ports. Of those there are three obvious ones, Alexandretta, Tripoli, and Beirut, of which Beirut is a long way the first in importance and potentiality of increased importance. Two possible routes therefore would seem to suggest themselves, one running from Alexandretta to Aleppo, and thence following pretty closely the course of the Euphrates till it reaches Hit, and from there striking directly to Bagdad. Aleppo is already connected with Tripoli and El Mina (the actual port of Tripoli), and also with Beirut by branch lines making a junction at Homs, and thus all those ports will be brought together on one system. But if the reader will glance at the map, he will see that by far the most direct communication with Bagdad would be to run the railway direct from there to Homs, thus making Homs rather than Aleppo the central junction of the system. From Homs lines would run northward to Aleppo, due west to Tripoli, and south-west to Beirut. Either of those routes, in any case, would be infinitely preferable to the long loop which the present Bagdad Railway traverses, as planned on German lines and for German requirements. The new railway will thus lie exclusively in territory under French and English protectorate, and will probably be their joint enterprise and property.
Prospectively then, as regards the fulfilment of the solemn pledge of the Allies to liberate subject peoples from the murderous tyranny of the Turks, we have discussed the future of Armenia, of Syria, of Palestine, and of Mesopotamia. All those are well defined districts, and the demarcation of their respective protectorates should not present great difficulties. But there remains, before we pass on to the problem of Constantinople, a further district less easily defined, largely inhabited by European peoples whose liberty in the future we are pledged to secure. This is the Mediterranean coastline to the south and west of Asia Minor, the towns of which have been so extensively peopled and made prosperous by Greeks and Italians. Similarly among those of our European Allies who are desirous and capable of Eastern expansion, there remains one, Italy, whose rights to partake in this Turkish partition we have not yet considered. In the shifting kaleidoscope of national war-politics, it seems at the moment of writing by no means impossible that Greece, having at length got rid of a treacherous and unstable Reuben of a monarch, may redeem her pledge to Serbia, in which case, no doubt, she too would state the terms of her desired and legitimate expansion. But these would more reasonably be concerned with the redistribution of the Balkan Peninsula, which does not come within the scope of this book, and we may prophesy without fear of invoking the Nemesis that so closely dogs the heels of seers, that Italy will legitimately claim (or perhaps has already claimed) the protectorate of this valuable littoral. Certain it is that, when peace returns, the large population of Greeks and Italians once resident (and soon again to be) on these coasts, must be given the liberty and security which they will never enjoy so long as they remain in Turkish hands, and the hands that have earned the right to be protecting Power are assuredly Italian. Along the south coast a line including the Taurus range would seem to suggest a natural frontier inland from Adana on the east to the south-west corner of Asia Minor, and from there a similar strip would pass up the coast as far as, and inclusive of, Smyrna. That at least Italy has every right to expect, and there seems no great fear that among the International Councils there will arise a dissentient voice. The inland boundary on the west coast is the difficult section of this delimitation, and into the details of that it would be both rash and inexpedient to enter.
We pass, then, to the second avowed object of the Allies, namely, the expulsion from Europe of the Ottoman rule, which has proved itself so radically alien to Western civilisation. This must be taken to include not only the expulsion of the Turkish control from Thrace and Constantinople, but from the eastern side as well of the Bosporus, the Sea of Marmora, and the Dardanelles. At no future time must Turkey be in a position to command even partially a single yard of that momentous channel through which alone our Allies, Russia and Rumania, have access to the Mediterranean. Though this was not formally stated in the Allies' reply to President Wilson, it is clearly part and parcel of the object in view, for while the Ottoman Empire retains the smallest control on either side of either of the Straits, she is so far able to interfere in European concerns, in which she must never more have a hand. The east shore, then, of the Straits and the Sea of Marmora, as well as the west, must be under the control of a Power, or a group of Powers, not alien to Western civilisation. Germany and her allies therefore, no less than Turkey, must be excluded from the guardianship of the Straits.
As we have had previous occasion to note, this ejection of the Turkish power from Constantinople is the absolute reversal of European and, in especial, of English policy for the last hundred years. No crime that the Ottoman Government could commit, no act of barbarism, would ever persuade us to do away with the anachronism of Turkey's existence in Europe; but at last the seismic convulsion of the war has knocked this policy into a heap of disjected ruins, and it can never be rebuilt again on the old lines. For among our other avowed objects in prosecuting the war to its victorious end, we have pledged ourselves to uphold the right which all peoples, whether small or great, have to the enjoyment of full security and free economic development. But while Turkey can close the Straits at her own arbitrary will, or at the bidding of a superior and malevolent Power, and block the passage of ships from Russian and Rumanian ports into the Mediterranean, the economic development of both these countries is seriously menaced. Three times within the last six years has she exercised that right, and while she holds the shores of the Straits she can at any moment blockade all southern Russian ports. That such power should be in the hands of any nation is highly undesirable; that it should be in the hands of a corrupt despotism like Turkey, especially now that Germany, as things stand, can dictate to Turkey when and what she pleases, is a thing unthinkable by the most improvident of statesmen. Already we have paid dearly enough for the pusillanimity of a hundred years: it is impossible that we should ever allow a similar bill to be again presented. Whatever be the guardianship of the Straits, whoever the holder of Constantinople, it will not be Turkey.
At the beginning of the war, and indeed till after the revolution in Russia, it was announced and stated as an axiom that on the conclusion of peace, Russia should be the door-keeper of what after all is her own lodge-gate. Subsequently, in the unhappy splits and disintegration of her Government, it was announced that she favoured peace without annexation--in other words, that she neither claimed nor desired the guardianship of Constantinople. But I think we should be utterly wrong if we regarded that as an expression of the will of the Russian people: it is far more probable that it was the expression of the will of Germany, directly inspired by German influence with a view to concluding a separate peace with Russia. As we have seen, it had its due effect in Turkey, and Talaat Bey gave vent to pious ejaculations of thanksgiving, that now all cause of quarrel with Russia was removed, and Turkey and she could be friends. It is possible that when out of the confused cries there again rises from Russia the clear call of the people's voice, we shall find her wishing to set in order her own house before she projects herself on new missions, but, as far as the manifesto of 'peace without territorial annexation' goes, we shall be wise to regard it for the present with the profoundest suspicion. It sounds far more like the tones of the Central European wolf than those of Little Red Riding Hood's proper grandmother.
But be Russia's decision what it may, the Turk will hold sway no longer in Thrace or Constantinople, or on the shores of the Straits of the Sea of Marmora. There is, of course, no question of deporting the whole of the Turkish population that lives in those regions, nor would it be desirable, even if it were possible, to realise Gladstone's robust vision of seeing every Turk, 'bag and baggage,' clear out from the provinces they have desolated and profaned. But if not under Russia, then under the joint control of certain of the Allied Powers there will be a complete reconstruction of the administration of those districts. The headquarters of the protectorate will doubtless be at Constantinople, which will be reorganised somewhat on the lines of the Treaty Port of Shanghai, and will be open to the ships of all nations. The security of the town must be assured by a military garrison either of mixed troops of the controlling nations, or possibly by a rotation of troops drawn from the armies of each in turn. More important even than this will be the adequate control of the Straits by sea. A naval base must be formed, which by the gospel of the freedom of the seas (but not according to St. Goeben and the submarine disciples) will constitute a patrolling police force of the waters. Whether the system of fortifications and defences that lately rendered the Dardanelles impregnable shall be retained or not is a question demanding the most careful consideration. Some will hold that they should be maintained in order to insure that none but the guarantors of the freedom of the Straits shall ever take possession of them: others that they shall be utterly dismantled and destroyed, so that the closing of the Straits shall be an impossibility. The matter really turns on the question as to the extent to which the Allies will have the prudence to cut Germany's claws when the war is over. It is eminently to be hoped that they will be cut so short that never again will they be able to show those chiselled talons beyond her velvet--that sense, in fact, will allow sentiment no word to say. Unfortunately, there are a great many people the basis of whose character consists of a washy confidence in the good intentions of everybody. Most mistakenly they call it Christianity.
Here, then, has been outlined the effect of the Allies' declared aims. Such territories as Turkey holds in Europe, such control as she possesses over the free passage of the Straits must pass from her, and the alien peoples, who for centuries have fainted and bled underneath her infamous yoke, must be led out of the land of bondage. As we have seen throughout preceding chapters, it was the fixed policy of the Ottoman Government to rid itself of their presence, and already it has gone far in its murderous mission. Indeed the avowed aims of the Allies, when accomplished, will do that work for her, for the Allies are determined to remove those peoples from Turkey. The difference of execution, however, consists in this, that they will not remove Arabs and Greeks and Italians and Jews, as Turkey has already done with the Armenians by the simple process of massacres, but by a process no less simple, namely, of taking out of the territories of the Ottoman Empire the districts where such peoples dwell. The Allies will accomplish, in fact, for the Turks that policy of Ottomanisation which was the aim of Abdul Hamid, and has been the aim of his more murderous successors. Turkey shall henceforth be for the Turks: she shall no more be in 'danger' from the defenceless nations, who at present exist within her borders. The Sultan of Turkey, in some year of grace now not far distant, will find that his Ottomanisation has been done for him, and, though his realm is curtailed, he will have his rest broken no more by the thought of Arab risings, nor will he have to devise measures that will solve the Arab question. Except for a strip along the west and south coast, all Asia Minor and Anatolia will be his from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, but Syria, Armenia, the coast of Asia Minor, Palestine, and Mesopotamia shall have passed from him. It is no dismemberment of an Empire that the Allies contemplate, for they cannot dismember limbs that never belonged to the real trunk. It was a despotic military control that the Osmanlis had established, they always regarded their subject peoples as aliens, whom they did not scruple to destroy if they exhibited symptoms of progress and civilisation. Henceforth the Turkish Government shall govern Turks, and Turks alone. That for many years has been its aim, and, by the disastrous dispensation of fate, it has been largely able to realise its purpose. Now, though by different methods, the Allies will see thorough accomplishment of it. There will be no question, of course, of turning out or of deporting Turks who live in Syria, in Armenia, in Constantinople, for the ways of the Allies are not those of Talaat and Enver and Jemal the Great. Where to-day Turks dwell, there shall they continue to dwell, but they must dwell there in peace in equal liberties and rights with the once-subject peoples whom the Allies shall have delivered. If they do not like that they can migrate, not by forced marches and under the guardianship of murderous Kurds, but in protection and security, to the lands where they can still enjoy the beneficent sway of their own governors, and be Ottomanised to the top of their bent. But Syrians and Armenians and Greeks and Jews will be Ottomanised no longer.
The Turk was always a fighter, disciplined and courageous, and he has never lost that virtue of valour. But he has been a fighter because he has always lived under a military despotism which demanded his services, and it is much to be doubted whether his qualities in this regard will for the future be exercised as they have been in the past. For the Turkish armies, in so far as they have consisted of Turks, have been chiefly, if not wholly, recruited from the peasantry of Anatolia, who, when not summoned to their country's colours, or ordered to maltreat and massacre, are quiet, rather indolent folk, content to plough their lands and reap an exiguous but sufficient harvest. And for their lords and governors, who, until Prussia assumed command of the Turkish armies, there will no longer be either the possibility of further conquests as in the old Osmanli days, or, in less progressive times, the necessity for securing Ottoman supremacy over the huge ill-knit lands which it governed. But now, instead of having alien and defenceless tribes within their borders, tribes forbidden to bear arms and chafing at the Turkish yoke, they will see free peoples under the protectorates of Powers that are capable of self-defence and, if necessary, of inflicting punishment. Russia, France, England, Italy, all allied nations, will be established in close proximity to the Turkish frontiers, and the New Turkey will be as powerless for aggression as she will be for defence, should she provoke attack. But within their borders there may the Osmanlis dwell secure and undisturbed, so long as they conform to the habits of civilised people with regard to their neighbours, and it is a question whether, now that the military despotism which has always misguided the fortunes of this people, has no possible fields for conquest, and no need of securing security, the nation will not settle down into the quiet existence of small neutral countries. Perhaps the last chapter of its savage and blood-stained history is already almost finished, and in years to come some little light of progress and of civilisation may be kindled in the abode where the household gods for centuries have been cruelty and hate.
It will not be sufficient for the fulfilment of the Allies' aims as regards Turkey to free from her barbarous control the subject peoples dwelling within her borders, for Turkey herself has to be delivered from a domination not less barbaric than her own, which, if allowed to continue, would soon again be a menace to the peace of the world. We have seen in a previous chapter how deeply set in her are Germany's nippers, how closely the octopus-embrace envelops her, and we now have to consider how those tentacles must be unloosed from their grip, and what will be the condition of the victim, already bled white, when that has been done. In the beginning, as we have seen, Germany obtained her hold by professing a touchingly beautiful and philanthropic desire to help Turkey to realise her national ideals, and her Pecksniffs, Tekin Alp and Herr Ernst Marré, were bidden to write parallel histories, the one describing the aims of the Nationalist party, the other the benevolent interest which Germany took in them. Occasionally Herr Ernst Marré could not but remember that he was a German, and permitted us to see the claws of the cat, without quite letting it out of the bag, but then he pulled the strings tight again, and only loud comfortable purrings could be heard, the Prussian musings over the 'liberation' of Turkey which she was helping to accomplish. But nowadays, so it seems to me, the strings have been loosened, and the claws and teeth are clearly visible. It is not so long since Dr. Schnee, Governor of German East Africa, sent a very illuminating document to Berlin from which I extract the following:--
'Do you consider it possible to make a regulation prohibiting Islam altogether? The encouragement of pig-breeding among natives is recommended by experts as an effective means of stopping the spread of Islam....'
That seems clear enough, and I can imagine Talaat Bey, with
his sword of honour in his hand, exclaiming with the Oysters in
Alice in Wonderland:--
'After such kindness that would be
A dismal thing to do.'
But I am afraid that Germany is contemplating (as indeed she has always done) a quantity of dismal things to do, and is now, like the Walrus and the Carpenter, beginning to let them appear. She has taken the Turkish oysters out for a nice long walk, and when the war is over she proposes to sit down and eat them. And did she not also interfere in the affair of Jewish massacres and declare that 'Pan-Turkish ideals have no sort of meaning in Palestine'? That must have been almost an unfriendly act from Turkey's point of view, for it cannot be stated too clearly that part of the price which Germany paid for Turkey's entry on her side into the war, was the liberty, as far as Germany was concerned, of managing her internal affairs, massacres and the rest, as best suited the damnable doctrines of Ottomanisation. The other Powers could not interfere, for they failed to force the Dardanelles, and Germany promised not to. That promise, of course, was binding on Germany for just so long as it suited her to keep it, and it suited her to keep it, on the whole, during the Armenian massacres. And in that matter her refusal to interfere is, among all her crimes, the very flower and felicity of her vileness.
Signs are not wanting that Turkey is beginning to realise the position in which she has placed herself, namely, that of a bankrupt dependant at the mercy of a nation to whom that quality is a mere derision. Lately a quantity of small incidents have occurred, such as disputes over the ownership of properties financed by Germany and the really melodramatic depreciation in the German coinage, which unmistakably show the swift ebb of Turkey's misplaced confidence. More significant perhaps than any is a transaction that took place in May 1917, when Talaat Bey and Enver Pasha took the whole of their private fortunes out of the Deutsche Bank in Constantinople, and invested them in two Swiss banks, namely, the Banque Nationale de Suisse, and the Banque Fédérale: they drew out also the whole funds of the Committee of Union and Progress, and similarly transferred them. This operation was not effected without loss, for in return for the Turkish £1 they received only thirteen francs. But it is significant that they preferred to lose over fifty per cent. of their capital, and have the moiety secure in Switzerland to leaving it in Constantinople. It is certain therefore that at both ends of the scale a distrust of German management has begun. A starving population has wrecked trains loaded with food-stuffs going to Germany, and at the other end the men with the swords of honour and dishonour deem it wise to put their money out of reach of the great Prussian cat. That the Germans themselves are not quite at their ease concerning the security of their hold may also be conjectured, for they are, as far as possible, removing Turkish troops from Constantinople, and replacing them with their own regiments. An instance of this occurred in June 1917, when, owing to the discontent in the capital, it was found necessary to guard bridges, residences of Ministers, and Government offices. But instead of recalling Turkish troops from Galicia to do this, they kept them there in the manner of hostages, mixed up in German regiments, and sent picked bodies of German troops to Constantinople. Fresh corps of secret police have also been formed to suppress popular manifestations. They are allowed to 'remove' suspects by any means they choose, quite in the old style of bag and Bosporus, but the organisation of them is German. And well may the German Government distrust those signs of popular discontent in a starving population: already the people have awoke to the fact that the German paper money does not represent its face-value, and, despite assurances to the contrary, it is at a discount scarcely credible. Three German £1 notes are held even in Constantinople to be the equivalent of a gold £1, while in the provinces upwards of five are asked for, and given, in exchange for one gold pound. It is in vain that German manifestoes are put forth declaring that all Government offices will take the notes as an equivalent for gold, for what the people want is not a traffic with Government offices, but the cash to buy food. Even more serious is the fact that Austrian and Hungarian directors of banks will no longer accept these scraps of paper. In vain, too, is it that the hungry folk see the walls of the 'House of Friendship' rise higher and higher in Constantinople, for every day they see with starving eyes the trains loaded with sugar from Konia, and the harvests raised in Anatolia with German artificial manures guarded by German troops and rolling westwards to Berlin. According to present estimates the harvest this year is so vastly more abundant than that of previous years, that no comparison, as the Minister of Agriculture tells his gratified Government, is possible. But the poorer classes get no more than the leavings of it when the armies, which include the German army, have had their wants supplied. The governing classes, whom it is necessary to feed, are not yet suffering, for the Germans grant them enough, issuing rations to such families as are proved adherents of the German-Turkish combination, and until the pinch of want attacks them we should be foolishly optimistic if we thought that a starving peasantry would cause the collapse or the defection of Germany's newest and most valuable colony. There is enough discontent to make Germany uneasy, but that is all. Long ago she proved the efficiency of her control, and the successful pulling of her puppet-strings, and no instance of that is more complete than the brief story of Yakub Jemil and the extinction of him and his party, which, though it happened a full year ago, has only lately been completely transmitted. Yakub Jemil was an influential commander of a frontier guard near the Black Sea coast. In July 1916 he went to Constantinople, accompanied by his staff (which included the informant from whom this account is derived), and, being cordially received by Enver and Talaat, discussed the situation with them. He pointed out the demoralising effect of the Armenian massacres, and the danger of Jemal the Great's attitude towards the Arabs in Syria, realising, and seeking to make them realise, the stupendous folly of making enemies of the subject peoples, and urging the re-establishment of cordial relations between the Turks and them. That, considering that Enver and Talaat were responsible (under the Germans) for the Armenian massacres, was a brave outspeaking. He went on to say that Turkey was at war not on behalf of herself, but on behalf of Germany, and that it would be wise of the Government to consider the possibility of a separate peace with the Powers of the Entente. He was heard with interest, and took his leave. He remained in Constantinople, and his views obtained him many adherents, not only among Turkish officers whose sympathies were already alienated from Germany, but among members of the Committee of Union and Progress. But before long his adherents began to disappear, and he asked for another interview with Talaat. He was received, as the informant states, 'with open arms,' for Talaat seized and held him, called for the guard, and he was searched, and on him were found certain documents which proved him to hold the views he had already expressed. That now, was enough. He was 'interrogated' for two days (interrogation is otherwise called torture), and was then hanged. Subsequently 111 officers and men in the army also disappeared. Some were marched into the Khiat Khana Valley, opposite Pera, and were stabbed: others were sent under escort to the provinces and murdered. No courts-martial of any kind were held.
Meantime the efficacy of our naval blockade is largely discounted by Germany's new source of supply. Possibly in the ensuing winter of 1917-18 conditions may get unbearable, but if the Turkish Government only two years ago massacred more than a million of its subjects, it would be absurd to expect that the starving of a million more would produce much effect on the Ministers of the Turkish God of Love. The people are, of course, told, with suitable statistics, how famine is decimating England and France, and how the total starvation of those unfortunate countries is imminent. Indeed, of all the signs of want of confidence in their German overlords, by far the most promising are the facts that Talaat and Enver have sent their money out of the country, and that Jemal the Great has a swelled head. On these facts there is a certain justifiable optimism to be based. It will do no good to consider them academically in London; but are there not practical channels to reach the instincts of the Turkish triumvirate that might be navigated?
Now Turkey is completely bankrupt, and we must ask ourselves why Germany ever bargained for the repayment in gold, after the war, of the millions she had lent the Turks in paper, if she knew that Turkey could never repay her. True, the loans had only cost her the paper the notes were printed on, so that in no case could she prove a loser, but how could she be a gainer? The answer to that question shouts at us from every acre of Turkish soil. The immense undeveloped riches of Turkey supply the answer. Some indeed are already being developed, and the labour and most of the materials have been paid for by the German paper notes. There are the irrigation works at Adana, there is the beet-sugar industry at Konia, the irrigation works in the Makischelin Valley, the mineral concessions of the Bagdad Railway, the Haidar Pasha Harbour concessions, the afforestation scheme near Constantinople, the cotton industry in Anatolia--there is no end to them. Turkey may not be able to pay in cash, but over all these concessions already working, and over a hundred more, of which the concessions have been granted, Germany has a complete hold, and her victim will pay in minerals and cotton and sugar and corn. She will pay over and over and over again, as none who have the smallest knowledge of Kultur-finance can possibly doubt. She is bled white already, and for the rest of time bloodless and white will she remain. Only one event can possibly avert her fate, and that is the victory of the Allies.
We have been so bold as to assume that this is not an impossible contingency, and on that assumption there is a brighter future for Turkey than the Prussian domination could ever bring her. Bankrupt she is, but, as Germany saw, she is rich in possibilities even with regard to the restricted territory to which she will surely find herself limited, and it is a pleasant chance for her that Germany has already been so busy in developing the resources of Anatolia. For Germany may safely bet her last piece of paper money that she will not lay a finger on them.
The Turkey of the future is to be for the Turks; not for the persecuted Armenians, nor for the Arabs, nor for the Greeks, and assuredly it is not to be for the Prussians. While the war lasts, Germany may draw supplies from the fields her artificial manures have enriched, and from the acres that her paper money has planted, but after that no more. Her Ottomanising work will be over. Such development (and it is far from negligible) as she has done in Syria will be continued under French protection for the Arabs, such as she has done in Mesopotamia under English protection, and such as she has done in Anatolia will be continued by the Turks to drag them out of the utter insolvency that she has brought them to. Never before has a country so justly and so richly deserved the repudiation of a debt incurred by the confidence trick. Not a civilised Government in the world would dream of enforcing payment, any more than a magistrate would enforce a payment to some thimble-rigger returning from a race-meeting.
The roar of battle still renders inaudible all voices save its own, but already the dusk begins to gather over the halls where sit the War-lord and those who, for the realisation of their monstrous dreams, loosed hell upon the world, and in the growing dusk there begin to steal upon the wall the letters of pale flame that to them portend the doom, and to us give promise of dawn. Faintly they can see the legend Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin....