Shall the Monster of Turkey be Punished at Last for the Most Frightful Crimes Ever Committed?
Why a Unique Appeal for Ravished Armenia Is Stirring Christian America.
By Clive Marshall
Cablegrams announcing the definite occupation of Constantinople by the allied forces show that the Beast of Turkish lust and cruelty, which the Germans loosed in 1915 against the Christian peoples of the Near East, has at last been brought to bay.
The Gorilla is at bay, but not yet chained. Its hands are still dropping with the blood of new victims, and the Armenian massacres go on, despite the fact that death penalties are being pronounced upon the Turkish officials who originally carried out the secret instructions of Berlin.
Bringing the Guilty to Justice
Dr. Rachid, former governor of the province of Diarbekr, and lts. Chakri and Haroun are under sentence for their part in the massacres of 1915; the new Sultan, Mohammed VI., is shedding tears and professing a broken heart over the slaughter of so many of his “beloved” subjects, and the British military governors who now control Constantinople have begun in a thorough and methodical way to work of reform which will eventually bring security and peace to the persecuted victims of Turkish oppression.
But cruelty and violence and lust, particularly when accompanied by religious frenzy, cannot be stifled as easily as they are awakened, and simultaneously with the cables which tell that the work is under way come other messages describing fresh massacres and horrors.
At the very moment when the allies were entering Constantinople, bangs of former Turkish soldiers were massacring ten thousand Armenians while evacuating the towns of Baku, Olti and Ardashan, in the Russian Caucasus.
While the new Sultan was giving out interviews deploring the happenings of 1915 and 1916, bands of young Armenian girl captives were being marched naked through the mountain snow by maurauding tribesmen and subjects to treatment as frightful as anything which happened in the first two years of the war.
Information received through diplomatic channels shows that the Turkish authorities in many provinces, despite Turkey’s defeat, are continuing to pursue a brutal attitude toward the Christian populations of the empire, and are still inciting the Ottoman people to fanatical outrages against the non-Moslems.
Where Massacre Follows Massacre
Many signs of organization among the Turks for new massacres are being noted, and the Turkish press, wherever it is still free of allied censorship, is still expressing hostility toward the Christians.
Where the Turks themselves are powerless any longer to continue their deportations and massacres, they are encouraging the Tartars and Kurds and other savage tribesmen to prey upon the Armenian villages. The difficulty which the allie are having in bringing about a cessation of the outrages may be easily understood in the light of history. When Germany cut off easter Europe from the protection of the civilized nations, and instigated the Turks to a ‘holy war,” it was not a new Beast that the Kaiser unchained, but one which had been intermittently active for centuries, and which was again straining at its leash.
The modern Christian persecutions in Turkey, which probably reached their height under the former Sultan Abdul Hamid, or “Abdul the Damned.” as he was known in Europe, had broken out many times, but were put a stop to finally a number of years ago by the threatening attitude of England and other Christian nations.
Another influence which operated in a different and peculiar way to stop the Turkish atrocities of a generation ago was the curious sentimental and literary friendship which grew up between France and Turkey as the result of the writing of Pierre Loti and his school.
Pierre Loti went to Constantinople as a naval attache, and with the additional prestige of an already brilliant literary reputation. He was charmed by the outward culture and suave exterior of the Turkish aristocrats who entertained him with a lavishness unequalled save in the Arabian Nights tales, and, as a result, a kind of a literary cult sprang into being which depicted the Turk as a picturesque and charming person–a scoundrel at heart, perhaps, but a romantic and polished scoundrel whose freedom from moral scruples was to be admired rather than deplored in a modern dull and puritanical world. This cult was devoid of political significance, but had the result of making the cultivated Turk a welcome individual in the salons and banking houses of Paris and other European capitals. It even affected in a lesser degree the attitude of the so-called literati of America. And the point of all this was that the Turks, finding themselves for the first time enjoying a kind of friedship and sympathetic understanding with cultivated western peoples, were slow to resume a policy of outrage toward the Armenians which would have not only gotten them into serious political trouble, but at the same time would have destroyed the Pierre Loti legend and the pleasant relations which had sprung from it.
When Restraint Was Removed
The outbreak of the world war, accompanied by the first temporary victories of the central powers, destroyed at one blow all these restraining influences.
There was no longer any political restraint, because the allies could no longer enforce their commands upon Turkey, while the sentimental relations with cultivated people outside of Germany were automatically destroyed by the fact that Turkey took sides with the Kaiser, and hoped that she would later be able to force any relations she wished upon the world as a co-conquerer with the Huns.
The diplomatic records prove that the Germans took advantage of this new situation deliberately to incite and encourage the Turks to a renewal of their worst persecutions and atrocities. And this was easy to accomplish because the tools they had to work with included religious mania, racial hatred and the opportunity for the unrestrained indulgence of the savage Turkish passions.
The three years which followed constitute one of the blacked records in human history. More than 1,000,000 Christians were massacred; hundreds of thousands of Christian girls were tortured and forced into Turkish harems; nearly 4,000,000 people were driven into poverty and exile.
Martyred Christian Girls
Young and beautiful Armenian girls, many of whom had been brought up in gentle and refined surroundings, were the ones who suffered most terribly in this carnival of lust and butchery.
Imagine a girl of this type–as gently reared as a daughter in your own home–being seized bythe brutal Turks, and forces to choose between willingly entering a harem or sseing her mother slain before her very eyes! That is exactly what happened in the case of one Armenian girl, and to make it all the more terrible, the mother was killed in spite of the fact that the girl secrificed honor to save her.
When the wholesale deportations began, the Turks would go through the caravans before they started, picking out all the attractive girls between the ages of 10 and 20, tearing them from their parents and keeping them to satisfy their own brutal passions or selling them into the harems of the officials.
The Bryce report and other records tell of girls who were violated, whipped to death, crucified, buried alive in the sand, forced to walk with iron horse shoes nailed to their feet, subjected to mediaeval tortures to force them to give up their religion.
While thousands were killed, or died from the terrible treatment, hundreds of thousands of others are still alive and destitute, while the number of their relatives and parents who are still homeless and starving, mounts into the millions.
The Armenian people had no government and were not politically a separate nation, so that it was impossible to extend them government aid as was done in the case of Belgium and the devastated regions of France. In fact, it is still impossible to do so.
The Great Appeal to America
To meet the situation, an American committee for Armenian and Syrian relief was formed, including in its membership such men as Samuel T. Dutton, Cleveland H. Dodge, former Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, former President William Howard Taft, Cardinal Gibbons and others.
This committee raised millions of dollars by private subscriptions and has been carrying on an enormous work, under government authorisation, but still faces monumental tasks. Millions of people are still starving, no government aid is yet available, and huge sums must still be raised.
To aid in this work, the Armenian leader and patriot, Gen. Andranik, unable to send an official ambassador or minister to Washington, has seen a young girl to America as the unofficial ambassadress of her persecuted people, to tell America of the great need. Her name is Aurora Mardiganian. She saw her own parents and her brothers and sisters murdered before her very eyes, and was herself for two years a prisoner in Turkish harems and a victim of savage marauding tribes. To aid her in presenting her story to the people of this nation, the American committee has produced an astounding photodrama in which the girl herself appears, and which depicts the great massacres which she witnessed, the martyrdom of her nation, and her own terrible adventures. This tremendous spectacle will be shown by the committee in the leading American cities under the title of “Ravished Armenia.” to aid in raising new funds for relief in the Near East.
The Armenians are a Christian people, and Christian America, today the richest of nations, is being called on to help them in their dire need.