New Eyewitness Stories of Armenian Massacres That Have Grown More Terrible Since the Turk Secured the Backing of German “Kultur”–A Young Girl’s Heartrending Narrative of the Outrage of Torture of Hundreds of Her Friends at the Hands of Turkish Officers and Vicious Kurds
Some who fell by the wayside. Starvation, exposure and attacks by Kurds worked together to pile up this heap of corpses along the main road of escape to the Russian borders. Thousands lay unburied in this way for days–a horrible sight for the refugees who came later along the same road.
By Abram I. Elkus
Former ambassador to Turkey, who witnessed the horrors of the Armenian massacres until diplomatic relations with Turkey were severed.
If what I seen of tragedy and suffering, day after day, in the once populous, thriving towns of Armenia, Kurdistan and Asia Minor could be transplanted for just ten hours and re-enacted in the midst of any large city in the United States all America would ring with the story of the most abject spectacle the world has ever witnessed.
Think of hundreds of thousands of bodies of men and women whose only crime was that were worshiped God strewn along the highways of Turkey in Asia, beaten, prodded, stabbed or shot to death. Think of half a million children starving to death. Think of a mother seeing her daughters, stripped of their clothing, their white flesh gleaming in the opalescent moonlight, carried away across the saddle, bars of the Kurdish brigands to a tent-covered harem in the midst of the desert–carried away, screaming, pleading, but helpless and doomed to live their youth as playthings of cruel, sensuous masters, to be tossed into the desert to die of thirst when their masters tire of them.
Think of thousands of young girls, from 10 years of to 20, dragged from their beds, or from their schoolrooms, made to witness the murder of their brothers, mothers and fathers, and then carried away to be sold at $1 apiece, or even less, to thick-lipped, cruel-eyed Turks, who bargained for the privilege of buying and selling the human flesh of girlhood with the Germans as the price of their alliance with the German kaiser!
Read here the story of Souloukh Kheiban, daughter of Meghlou Kheiban, who has killed. Read the story of Zevart Kharibian, “Zevart, the beautiful.” Is there written any place in history of the world a more horrible indictment of that German ruthlessness against which America is fighting–that German ruthless which prostrated Belgium, sunk the Lusitania, and, even worse than all, gave the Turks the right to enslave the girlhood of Armenia after massacring its parents in return for the privilege of using Turkish guns?
More than 200,000 young Armenian girls are today in Turkish harems, or slaves in the tents of Kurds. Of 2,000,000 Armenians in Asia Minor and along the Caucasus scarcely more than 200,000 remain alive today, and these are refugees, penniless, hungry, with nothing but rags on their backs.
The Story of Souloukh Kheib
(As told to the Hon. Gordon Paddock, American consul at Tubriz.)
My father kept a little shop in our native town, Moush. There were about 900 of us Armenians in this town and about 3,000 Turks, Persians, and city-dwelling Kurs. My younger sister and I took lessons of missionary, while my brother sometimes went on trading missions to near-by towns.
Twice during our lives there had been outbreaks of the Turks against the Armenians, but each time my father had escaped and had saved us by paying all his savings to the Turks for our ransom.
One night in 1915, while we were sleeping peacefully, there was a great noise in the city. When we ran to look out of our homes we saw Turkish troops riding through the streets, with the terrible Kurds riding among them. My father said at once, “They were the Turkish garrison at Van. They have ridden over here to massacre us.”
My father, brother, sister, mother and I went into the plains behind our street and lay flat on the ground. All the while we heard the most terrible shrieks and screams in the city. Near dawn my brother ventured into the city.
When he came back his news was most horrible. The Turks had entered all the Armenian homes and had dragged the younger women into the streets and out to the edge of the city, where they subjected them to horrible experiences. They gathered up all the Armenian men they could find and disported themselves by plucking out their eyebrows, tearing off their fingernails, and setting their beards and hair afire. Some of the women they stripped naked and then cut off their breasts. They did not seem to want to kill any of the Armenians outright. They tortured to death as many as they would during that terrible night.
When the sun came up they send word that all Armenians who had lived through the night could return to their homes and business and they would not be harmed if they would turn in their arms.
One by one the girls who had been carried to the plains at the edge of the city crept back back to their homes, ashamed and weak. Some of them died as soon as they had received their fathers’ blessings.
At noon the Turks rode away. Two weeks later they came again, this time with order that all Armenians must be deported at once to Kharpout.
This time Kurdish women, with knives, who came to help the men. All the Armenians were gathered in a square. The Turks and Kurds would go into a house and drive the inhabitants into the street, where others would drive them to the square. Whenever the Kurdish women would see a pretty girl they would try to stick their knives in her, and ofttimes they succeeded.
The Turks carried six or seven small houses from the town and set them in the middle of the square, and into these they dragged all the beautiful Armenians girls, some as young as 10 years old, and then the Turks would go into these houses to take their choice of the girls.
Each girl when she was dragged into the houses was made to take off her clothing before the soldiers. Sometimes they would make the girl swear that she had renounced Christianity and would accept the faith of Islam. When this was asked of a girl, when she refused her fingernails and toenails were pulled out, and then her breasts cut off.
Or her father and mother would be brought before her and tortured until they died, or until she forswore her religion.
My sister and I were both dragged into these houses. My mother shrieked when she missed me and saw them dragging me into the houses in the center of the square, and ran as if to rescue me. A Kurd grabbed her and set fire to her hair. My brother ran to her and put the fire out.
At last the Turks and Kurds collected us and started with us toward Kharpout. Those of us who had had our clothes taken from us were forced to walk naked. On the way the Armenians of other villages joined us, having undergone similar experiences.
After we had been walking several days the older women began to drop from fatigue. Whenever a woman dropped to the ground the soldier nearest her would cry out to his comrades and they would all ride up to her eyes, or cut off her legs or a hand, and leave her to die. When we stopped along the route it was not unusual for the Kurds and Turks to take girls and amuse themselves, forcing our parents and brothers to witness the outrages.
When we reached Khozmo Pass our guards turned west, toward the Euphrates. At nightfall we all managed–my family–to slip out of the circle of guards and lie down until, in the morning, the woeful caravan moved onward. Then we made our way to Kharpout.
When we left our caravan only 300 of the original 6,000 were alive, and nearly all of these girls were the girls whom the guards cared for.
At Kharpout we found friends among the missionaries. There had been no massacre yet at Kharpout, but we had been there but nine days when the Turkish troops who garrisoned the town received order to order all Armenians to turn in their arms. Early that night a soldier came and took my sister and I to another part of the house, where I was given to another Turkish officer, while my sister was given to the one who had found us.
The next morning a company of 600 Armenians, we among them, was marshaled in front of the garrison and started out of town to the north, under a guard of Kurds. Almost all those in this party were women. We were being taken, our guards told us, to Sivas, where a party of rich Turks were to buy us and take us to Scutari.
After seven days we were met on the road by a company of Turkish soldiers from Sivas, who were sent out to meet us. That night there was great reveling by the Kurds and Turks, with the younger women as victims. The officers declared they would not take us to Sivas until they were finished with us themselves. My father and brother were almost crazy with grief at having to witness the degradation of myself and my life sister. Father raised a cry and the Kurds at once put my brother and father to torture. I saw them both die in horrible agony.
I had covered myself with sand and was not missed. As daylight came I saw my sister, naked, being carried away by Djevedet Bey, a Kurdish officer, who I recognized as the commander of the Turks at Van. He carried her across his saddle. All the other Kurds carried pretty girls with them, leaving only half of the original party with the Turks to be taken into Sivas.
I was not missed and managed to make my way back to Kharpout. Here my missionary friends hid me until a party of travelers took me in disguised to Trebizond. There I was taken to Mr. Paddock, the American consul at Tabriz who was in Trebizond on a mission. He proided a home for me in Bagdad with friends, who are caring for me.