“Where is Armenia?” asked Joe after the boys and Uncle Harry were comfortably seated in the library.
Uncle Harry drew the big globe of the world closer in order that they might look at it in the light. Turning it around, he looked closely at the portion showing Western Asia, between Caspian sea and the Mediterranean.
“Here is Armenia” said Uncle Harry, indicating with his pencil that district which lies southeast of the Black Sea, about three hundred miles deep.
“But why do you ask Joe?” said he.
“You told us last friday you would tell us about it, so I have been looking for news about it in the newspapers.”
“What did you find?” asked Uncle Harry.
“I found several long articles telling about some trouble over there, but I couldn’t tell just what it was, except that the Turks seem to be oppressing the people who live in Armenia and driving them out of the country.”
“What is the reason for it all, Uncle Harry?” asked Jimmy.
“I’ll try to tell you, boys” said he. “If we are going to keep up with the news we cannot avoid the terrible state of affairs in Armenia. It is a long way from here to Armenia and the people of this county are different in many ways from the Armenians, but still they are people like us with lives to live. And our hearts must go out to them in all that they are going through.”
“Tell us about it, Uncle Harry.”
Uncle Harry thought for a moment for the words to express himself.
“Centuries ago” said he “Armenia was a country and had its own government. In the course of time, however, great changes occurred, and it happened that Armenia was divided between Russia, which is to the north; Persia, which is to the east; and Turkey, which is to the west. It is Turkish Armenia to which the newspapers are referring to these days.“
“The Armenians have little in common with the Turks. There is little sympathy between the peoples. The Turks are Mohammedan and the Armenians are, in part, Christians. The Turkish government has always seemed to treat the Armenians with suspicion and cruelty. The Armenians have, naturally, resented this kind of treatment, and perhaps they have hoped vaguely some day to govern themselves again. And so the Turks have come to hate the Armenians and the Armenians have come to fear the Turks, although the Armenians are, for the most part, peaceful, industrious, home-loving people.”
“Every now and then this hatred on the part of the Turks breaks out in the form of oppression and massacre. In 1894 and 1895, under Abdul Hamid, then Sultan of Turkey, hundreds of thousands of Armenians were tortured and driven from their homes.”
“Then the Turks left them alone for a number of years, didn’t they?”
“Yes.” said Uncle Harry, “but during the last year the Turks have again begun to oppress the Armenians. No words can express the frightful treatment they are receiving at the hands of the Turks. The Turk’s religion permits him to use almost any methods, however harsh, toward those who do not believe in Mohammed. The entire Armenian people, men, women, and children, are being driven from their homes, robbed of all they own, shot down by the thousands, subject to the most horrible tortures. The Turks have had no mercy. Already more than 800,000 have been killed outright or driven away to die in the wilderness. A whole nation is being slaughtered, practically wiped out.”
Uncle Harry paused for a moment. He had spoke with such earnestness that the boys hesitated to break the silence. Finally Jimmy said:
“And is all this taking place because the Turks and the Armenians don’t like each other?”
“Only in part,” answered Uncle Harry. “At this time no one can say definitely just what is back of it all. But it is known that Abdul Hamid, when he was Sultan, was in favor of Germans sending colonist to Asia Minor. The Young Turks, think very much as Abdul Hamid used to think. It is known that Germany wants an outlet in the Mediterranean or on one of the great gulfs that open into the Indian Ocean, and some well-informed people say that the Armenians are now being driven out of Armenia to make room for the Germans.”
Joe reached across the table for his geography book. Opening it to a map of Asia Minor he studied it closely for a moment.
“I don’t see, Uncle Harry,” said he, “how the Germans would get a seaport on the Indian Ocean just because they sent people out to live in Armenia. Armenia is hundreds and hundreds of miles away from the Persian Gulf, and that is the nearest gulf that opens into the Indian Ocean.”
“I’ll tell you,” replied Uncle Harry. “In Armenia, Germany would have an outlet for hundreds and thousands of her people who are too crowded at home. But that is only the first part of the story. If she should occupy Armenia she would be so much nearer the valley of the Euphrates through which the Baghdad Railway runs from Constantinople to Baghdad and the seaports on the Persian Gulf. And if Germany should have control of the Euphrates Valley and the Baghdad Railway, she would have an outlet for commerce to India and the Far East.”
Jimmy had been pondering which Uncle Harry was explaining about the Euphrates Valley and the Baghdad Railway. When Uncle Harry stopped speaking, he looked up and said:
“I was thinking, Uncle Harry, what terrible times the Armenians must be going through. Why don’t some of the other countries step in and stop it?”
“The other European countries are too busy fighting,” answered Uncle Harry. “The only country which would have much influence with Turkey is Germany, and Germany has not protested; some people say it is not in her interest to do so. The United States did send Turkey a message of protest, but the Turkish government sent back word that the Armenians were dangerous people, and that anyway, Turkey had a right to do what it wanted with its own subjects.”
“Now plans are on foot in this country to raise large sums of money and bring over to this country the great number of Armenians who are homeless. The Armenians, as I said, are peaceful and industrious and would doubtless make very good citizens. Mr. Morgenthau, who is our Ambassador at Constantinople, has written to the people of this country urging strongly that something be done, and done right away to help the Armenians. So, in all possibility, Uncle Sam will lend a helping hand to the Armenians, as he has done to the homeless Belgians.”
Uncle Harry looked at his watch. Goodnight, boys” he said. “I’ll be over next thursday night. Uncle Sam has established a new record, and I want to tell you about it.”