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Title: Ambassador Morgenthau's Story
Author: Morgenthau, Henry
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                    [Illustration: HENRY MORGENTHAU

       American Ambassador at Constantinople from 1913 to 1916]



                              AMBASSADOR
                             MORGENTHAU’S
                                 STORY

                                  BY
                           HENRY MORGENTHAU

               _Formerly American Ambassador to Turkey_

                       [Illustration: colophon]

                              ILLUSTRATED

                      GARDEN CITY       NEW YORK
                       DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
                                 1919

                          COPYRIGHT, 1918, BY
                       DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
                ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THAT OF
                  TRANSLATION INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGES,
                      INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIAN



                                  TO
                            WOODROW WILSON


THE EXPONENT IN AMERICA OF THE ENLIGHTENED PUBLIC OPINION OF THE WORLD,
WHICH HAS DECREED THAT THE RIGHTS OF SMALL NATIONS SHALL BE RESPECTED
AND THAT SUCH CRIMES AS ARE DESCRIBED IN THIS BOOK SHALL NEVER AGAIN
DARKEN THE PAGES OF HISTORY



PREFACE


By this time the American people have probably become convinced that the
Germans deliberately planned the conquest of the world. Yet they
hesitate to convict on circumstantial evidence and for this reason all
eye witnesses to this, the greatest crime in modern history, should
volunteer their testimony.

I have therefore laid aside any scruples I had as to the propriety of
disclosing to my fellow countrymen the facts which I learned while
representing them in Turkey. I acquired this knowledge as the servant of
the American people, and it is their property as much as it is mine.

I greatly regret that I have been obliged to omit an account of the
splendid activities of the American Missionary and Educational
Institutions in Turkey, but to do justice to this subject would require
a book by itself. I have had to omit the story of the Jews in Turkey for
the same reasons.

My thanks are due to my friend, Mr. Burton J. Hendrick, for the
invaluable assistance he has rendered in the preparation of the book.

                                         HENRY MORGENTHAU.

October, 1918.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                                             PAGE

I. A German superman at Constantinople                                 3

II. The “Boss System” in the Ottoman Empire
and how it proved useful to Germany                                   20

III. “The personal representative of the
Kaiser.” Wangenheim opposes the
sale of American warships to Greece                                   41

IV. Germany mobilizes the Turkish army                                61

V. Wangenheim smuggles the _Goeben_ and
the _Breslau_ through the Dardanelles                                 68

VI. Wangenheim tells the American Ambassador
how the Kaiser started the war                                        82

VII. Germany’s plans for new territories, coaling
stations, and indemnities                                             90

VIII. A classic instance of German propaganda                         96

IX. Germany closes the Dardanelles and so
separates Russia from her Allies                                     105

X. Turkey’s abrogation of the capitulations.
Enver living in a palace, with
plenty of money and an imperial bride                                112

XI. Germany forces Turkey into the war                               123

XII. The Turks attempt to treat alien enemies
decently, but the Germans
insist on persecuting them                                           130

XIII. The invasion of the Notre Dame de
Sion School                                                          147

XIV. Wangenheim and the Bethlehem Steel
Company. A “Holy War” that
was made in Germany                                                  157

XV. Djemal, a troublesome Mark Antony.
The first German attempt to get a
German peace                                                         171

XVI. The Turks prepare to flee from Constantinople
and establish a new capital
in Asia Minor. The Allied fleet
bombarding the Dardanelles                                           184

XVII. Enver as the man who demonstrated
“the vulnerability of the British
fleet.” Old-fashioned defenses of
the Dardanelles                                                      202

XVIII. The Allied armada sails away, though
on the brink of victory                                              217

XIX. A fight for three thousand civilians                            232

XX. More adventures of the foreign residents                         253

XXI. Bulgaria on the auction block                                   262

XXII. The Turk reverts to the ancestral type                         274

XXIII. The “Revolution” at Van                                       293

XXIV. The murder of a nation                                         301

XXV. Talaat tells why he deports the Armenians                       326

XXVI. Enver Pasha discusses the Armenians                            343

XXVII. “I shall do nothing for the Armenians,”
says the German Ambassador                                           364

XXVIII. Enver again moves for peace. Farewell
to the Sultan and to Turkey                                          385

XXIX. Von Jagow, Zimmermann, and German-Americans                    397



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


Henry Morgenthau                                           _Frontispiece_

                                                             FACING PAGE

Mrs. Henry Morgenthau with Soeur Jeanne                                8

Constantinople from the American Embassy                               9

Beylerbey palace on the Bosphorus                                     16

The American Embassy at Constantinople                                16

Henry Morgenthau, American Ambassador to Turkey, 1913-1916            17

Talaat Pasha, ex-Grand Vizier of Turkey                               48

Turkish infantry and cavalry                                          49

Bustány Effendi                                                       56

Mohammed V, late Sultan of Turkey                                     57

Wangenheim, the German Ambassador                                     68

The Sultan, Mohammed V, going to his regular Friday prayers           72

Talaat and Enver at a military review                                 73

Baron Von Wangenheim, German Ambassador to Turkey                     80

Djemal Pasha, Minister of Marine                                      81

The Marquis Garroni, Italian Ambassador to the Sublime Porte in 1914 112

M. Tocheff, Bulgarian Minister at Constantinople                     112

The American summer Embassy on the Bosphorus                         113

Enver Pasha, Minister of War                                         120

Saïd Halim, Ex-grand Vizier                                          121

Sir Louis Mallet and M. Bompard                                      136

Gen. Liman von Sanders                                               137

German and Turkish officers on board the _Goeben_                    144

Bedri Bey, Prefect of Police at Constantinople                       145

Djavid Bey, Minister of Finance in Turkish Cabinet                   145

The British Embassy                                                  176

Robert College at Constantinople                                     177

The American Embassy Staff                                           184

The Modern Turkish soldier                                           185

The Ministry of War                                                  200

The Ministry of Marine                                               200

Halil Bey in Berlin                                                  201

Talaat and Kühlmann                                                  201

General Mertens                                                      201

The Red Crescent                                                     208

Enver Pasha                                                          209

Turkish quarters at the Dardanelles                                  240

Looking north to the city of Gallipoli                               241

The British ship _Albion_                                            248

The Dardanelles as it was March 16, 1915                             249

Tchemenlik and Fort Anadolu Hamidié                                  264

Fort Dardanos                                                        265

The American ward of the Turkish hospital                            272

Students of the Constantinople College                               273

Abdul Hamid                                                          304

A characteristic view of the Armenian country                        305

Fishing village on Lake Van                                          312

Refugees at Van crowding around a public oven,
hoping to get bread                                                  313

Kaiser William II, in the uniform of a Turkish
Field Marshal                                                        328

Interior of the Armenian church at Urfa                              329

Armenian soldiers                                                    336

Those who fell by the wayside                                        337

A view of Harpoot                                                    337

View of Urfa                                                         368

A relic of the Armenian massacres at Erzingan                        368

The funeral of Baron von Wangenheim                                  369



AMBASSADOR MORGENTHAU’S STORY



CHAPTER I

A GERMAN SUPERMAN AT CONSTANTINOPLE


When I began writing these reminiscences of my ambassadorship, Germany’s
schemes in the Turkish Empire and the Near East seemed to have achieved
a temporary success. The Central Powers had apparently disintegrated
Russia, transformed the Baltic and the Black seas into German lakes, and
had obtained a new route to the East by way of the Caucasus. For the
time being Germany dominated Serbia, Bulgaria, Rumania, and Turkey, and
regarded her aspirations for a new Teutonic Empire, extending from the
North Sea to the Persian Gulf, as practically realized. The world now
knows, though it did not clearly understand this fact in 1914, that
Germany precipitated the war to destroy Serbia, seize control of the
Balkan nations, transform Turkey into a vassal state, and thus obtain a
huge oriental empire that would form the basis for unlimited world
dominion. Did these German aggressions in the East mean that this
extensive programme had succeeded?

As I picture to myself a map which would show Germany’s military and
diplomatic triumphs, my experiences in Constantinople take on a new
meaning. I now see the events of those twenty-six months as part of a
connected, definite story. The several individuals that moved upon the
scene now appear as players in a carefully staged, superbly managed
drama. I see clearly enough now that Germany had made all her plans for
world dominion and that the country to which I had been sent as American
Ambassador was one of the foundation stones of the Kaiser’s whole
political and military structure. Had Germany not acquired control of
Constantinople in the early days of the war, it is not unlikely that
hostilities would have ended a few months after the Battle of the Marne.
It was certainly an amazing fate that landed me in this great
headquarters of intrigue at the very moment when the plans of the Kaiser
for controlling Turkey, which he had carefully pursued for a quarter of
a century, were about to achieve their final success.

For this work of subjugating Turkey, and transforming its army and its
territory into instruments of Germany, the Emperor had sent to
Constantinople an ambassador who was ideally fitted for the task. The
mere fact that the Kaiser had personally chosen Baron Von Wangenheim for
this post shows that he had accurately gauged the human qualities needed
in this great diplomatic enterprise.

The Kaiser had early detected in Wangenheim an instrument ideally
qualified for oriental intrigue; he had more than once summoned him to
Corfu for his vacations, and here, we may be sure, the two congenial
spirits had passed many days discussing German ambitions in the Near
East. At the time when I first met him, Wangenheim was fifty-four years
old; he had spent a quarter of a century in the diplomatic corps, he had
seen service in such different places as Petrograd, Copenhagen, Madrid,
Athens, and Mexico, and he had been chargé at Constantinople, several
years afterward coming there as ambassador. He understood completely all
countries, including the United States; his first wife had been an
American, and Wangenheim, when Minister to Mexico, had intimately
studied our country and had then acquired an admiration for our energy
and progress. He had a complete technical equipment for a diplomat; he
spoke German, English, and French with equal facility, he knew the East
thoroughly, and he had the widest acquaintance with public men.
Physically he was one of the most imposing persons I have ever known.
When I was a boy in Germany, the Fatherland was usually symbolized as a
beautiful and powerful woman--a kind of dazzling Valkyrie; when I think
of modern Germany, however, the massive, burly figure of Wangenheim
naturally presents itself to my mind. He was six feet two inches tall;
his huge, solid frame, his Gibraltar-like shoulders, erect and
impregnable, his bold, defiant head, his piercing eyes, his whole
physical structure constantly pulsating with life and activity--there
stands, I would say, not the Germany which I had known, but the Germany
whose limitless ambitions had transformed the world into a place of
horror. And Wangenheim’s every act and every word typified this new and
dreadful portent among the nations. Pan-Germany filled all his waking
hours and directed his every action. The deification of his emperor was
the only religious instinct which impelled him. That aristocratic and
autocratic organization of German society which represents the Prussian
system was, in Wangenheim’s eyes, something to be venerated and
worshipped; with this as the groundwork, Germany was inevitably
destined, he believed, to rule the world. The great land-owning Junker
represented the perfection of mankind. “I would despise myself,” his
closest associate once told me, and this represented Wangenheim’s
attitude as well, “if I had been born in a city.” Wangenheim divided
mankind into two classes, the governing and the governed; and he
ridiculed the idea that the upper could ever be recruited from the
lower. I recall with what unction and enthusiasm he used to describe the
Emperor’s caste organization of German estates; how he had made them
non-transferable, and had even arranged it so that the possessors, or
the prospective possessors, could not marry without the imperial
consent. “In this way,” Wangenheim would say, “we keep our governing
classes pure, unmixed of blood.” Like all of his social order,
Wangenheim worshipped the Prussian military system; his splendid bearing
showed that he had himself served in the army, and, in true German
fashion, he regarded practically every situation in life from a military
standpoint. I had one curious illustration of this when I asked
Wangenheim one day why the Kaiser did not visit the United States. “He
would like to immensely,” he replied, “but it would be too dangerous.
War might break out when he was at sea, and the enemy would capture
him.” I suggested that that could hardly happen as the American
Government would escort its guest home with warships, and that no nation
would care to run the risk of involving the United States as Germany’s
ally; but Wangenheim still thought that the military danger would make
any such visit impossible.

Upon him, more than almost any diplomatic representative of Germany,
depended the success of the Kaiser’s conspiracy for world domination.
This German diplomat came to Constantinople with a single purpose. For
twenty years the German Government had been cultivating the Turkish
Empire. All this time the Kaiser had been preparing for a world war, and
in this war it was destined that Turkey should play an almost decisive
part. Unless Germany should obtain the Ottoman Empire as its ally, there
was little chance that she could succeed in a general European conflict.
When France had made her alliance with Russia, the man power of
170,000,000 people was placed on her side, in the event of a war with
Germany. For more than twenty years Germany had striven diplomatically
to detach Russia from this French alliance, but had failed. There was
only one way in which Germany could make valueless the Franco-Russian
Alliance; this was by obtaining Turkey as an ally. With Turkey on her
side, Germany could close the Dardanelles, the only practical line of
communication between Russia and her western allies; this simple act
would deprive the Czar’s army of war munitions, destroy Russia
economically by stopping her grain exports, her greatest source of
wealth, and thus detach Russia from her partners in the World War. Thus
Wangenheim’s mission was to make it absolutely certain that Turkey
should join Germany in the great contest that was impending.

Wangenheim believed that, should he succeed in accomplishing this task,
he would reap the reward which for years had represented his final
goal--the chancellorship of the Empire. His skill at establishing
friendly personal relations with the Turks gave him a great advantage
over his rivals. Wangenheim had precisely that combination of force,
persuasiveness, geniality, and brutality which was needed in dealing
with the Turkish character. I have emphasized his Prussian qualities;
yet Wangenheim was a Prussian not by birth but by development; he was a
native of Thüringen, and, together with all the push, ambition, and
overbearing traits of the Prussian, he had some of the softer
characteristics which we associate with Southern Germany. He had one
conspicuous quality which is not Prussian at all--that is, tact; and, as
a rule, he succeeded in keeping his less-agreeable tendencies under the
surface and showing only his more ingratiating side. He dominated not so
much by brute strength as by a mixture of force and amiability;
externally he was not a bully; his manner was more insinuating than
coercive; he won by persuasiveness, not by the mailed fist, but we who
knew him well understood that back of all his gentleness there lurked a
terrific, remorseless, and definite ambition. Yet the impression left
was not one of brutality, but of excessive animal spirits and good
nature. Indeed, Wangenheim had in combination the jovial enthusiasm of a
college student, the rapacity of a Prussian official, and the
happy-go-lucky qualities of a man of the world. I still recall the
picture of this huge figure of a man, sitting at the piano, improvising
on some beautiful classic theme--and then suddenly starting to pound out
uproarious German drinking songs or popular melodies. I still see him
jumping on his horse at the polo grounds, spurring the splendid animal
to its speediest efforts--the horse never making sufficient speed,
however, to satisfy the ambitious sportsman. Indeed, in all his
activities, grave or gay, Wangenheim displayed this same restless spirit
of the chase. Whether he was flirting with the Greek ladies at Pera, or

[Illustration: MRS. HENRY MORGENTHAU

(On the right). Wife of the American Ambassador at Constantinople from
1913 to 1916, with Soeur Jeanne (on the left), head of the French
Hospital]

[Illustration: CONSTANTINOPLE FROM THE AMERICAN EMBASSY

Showing (in the centre of the picture) the buildings of the Ministry of
Marine, on the famous Golden Horn, with the city beyond]

spending hours over the card table at the Cercle d’Orient, or bending
the Turkish officials to his will in the interest of Germany, all life
was to him a game, which was to be played more or less recklessly, and
in which the chances favoured the man who was bold and audacious and
willing to pin success or failure on a single throw. And this greatest
game of all--that upon which was staked, as Bernhardi has expressed it,
“World empire or downfall”--Wangenheim did not play languidly, as though
it had been merely a duty to which he had been assigned; to use the
German phrase, he was “fire and flame” for it; he had the consciousness
that he was a strong man selected to perform a mighty task. As I write
of Wangenheim, I still feel myself affected by the force of his
personality, yet I know all the time that, like the government which he
served so loyally, he was fundamentally ruthless, shameless, and cruel.
But he was content to accept all the consequences of his policy, however
hideous these might be. He saw only a single goal, and, with the realism
and logic that are so characteristically German, Wangenheim would brush
aside all feelings of humanity and decency that might interfere with
success. He accepted in full Bismarck’s famous dictum that a German must
be ready to sacrifice for Kaiser and Fatherland not only his life but
his honour as well.

Just as Wangenheim personified Germany, so did his colleague,
Pallavicini, personify Austria. Wangenheim’s essential quality was a
brutal egotism, while Pallavicini was a quiet, kind-hearted,
delightfully mannered gentleman. Wangenheim was always looking to the
future, Pallavicini to the past. Wangenheim represented the mixture of
commercialism and medieval lust for conquest which constitute Prussian
_welt-politik_; Pallavicini was a diplomat left over from the days of
Metternich. “Germany wants this!” Wangenheim would insist, when an
important point had to be decided; “I shall consult my foreign office,”
the cautious Pallavicini would say, on a similar occasion. The Austrian,
with little upturned gray moustaches, with a rather stiff, even slightly
strutting, walk, looked like the old-fashioned Marquis that was once a
stock figure on the stage. I might compare Wangenheim with the
representative of a great business firm which was lavish in its
expenditures and unscrupulous in its methods, while his Austrian
colleague represented a house that prided itself on its past
achievements and was entirely content with its position. The same
delight that Wangenheim took in Pan-German plans, Pallavicini found in
all the niceties and obscurities of diplomatic technique. The Austrian
had represented his country in Turkey many years, and was the dean of
the corps, a dignity of which he was extremely proud. He found his
delight in upholding all the honours, of his position; he was expert in
arranging the order of precedence at ceremonial dinners, and there was
not a single detail of etiquette that he did not have at his fingers’
ends. When it came to affairs of state, however, he was merely a tool of
Wangenheim. From the first, indeed, he seemed to accept his position as
that of a diplomat who was more or less subject to the will of his more
powerful ally. In this way Pallavicini played to his German colleague
precisely the same part that his emperor was playing to that of the
Kaiser. In the early months of the war the bearing of these two men
completely mirrored the respective successes and failures of their
countries. As the Germans boasted of victory after victory Wangenheim’s
already huge and erect figure seemed to become larger and more
upstanding, while Pallavicini, as the Austrians lost battle after battle
to the Russians, seemed to become smaller and more shrinking.

The situation in Turkey, in these critical months, seemed almost to have
been purposely created to give the fullest opportunities to a man of
Wangenheim’s genius. For ten years the Turkish Empire had been
undergoing a process of dissolution, and had now reached a state of
decrepitude that had left it an easy prey to German diplomacy. In order
to understand the situation, we must keep in mind that there was really
no orderly, established government in Turkey at that time. For the Young
Turks were not a government; they were really an irresponsible party, a
kind of secret society, which, by intrigue, intimidation, and
assassination, had obtained most of the offices of state. When I
describe the Young Turks in these words, perhaps I may be dispelling
certain illusions. Before I came to Turkey I had entertained very
different ideas of this organization. As far back as 1908 I remember
reading news of Turkey that appealed strongly to my democratic
sympathies. These reports informed me that a body of young
revolutionists had swept from the mountains of Macedonia, had marched
upon Constantinople, had deposed the bloody Sultan, Abdul Hamid, and had
established a constitutional system. Turkey, these glowing newspaper
stories told us, had become a democracy, with a parliament, a
responsible ministry, universal suffrage, equality of all citizens
before the law, freedom of speech and of the press, and all the other
essentials of a free, liberty-loving commonwealth. That a party of Turks
had for years been struggling for such reforms I well knew, and that
their ambitions had become realities seemed to indicate that, after all,
there was such a thing as human progress. The long welter of massacre
and disorder in the Turkish Empire had apparently ended; “the great
assassin”, Abdul Hamid, had been removed to solitary confinement at
Saloniki, and his brother, the gentle Mohammed V, had ascended the
throne with a progressive democratic programme. Such had been the
promise; but, by the time I reached Constantinople, in 1913, many
changes had taken place. Austria had annexed two Turkish provinces,
Bosnia and Herzegovina; Italy had wrenched away Tripoli; Turkey had
fought a disastrous war with the Balkan states, and had lost all her
territories in Europe except Constantinople and a small hinterland. The
aims for the regeneration of Turkey that had inspired the revolution had
evidently miscarried, and I soon discovered that four years of so-called
democratic rule had ended with the nation more degraded, more
impoverished, and more dismembered than ever before. Indeed, long before
I had arrived, this attempt to establish a Turkish democracy had failed.
The failure was probably the most complete and the most disheartening in
the whole history of democratic institutions. I need hardly explain in
detail the causes of this collapse. Let us not criticize too harshly the
Young Turks, for there is no question that, at the beginning, they were
sincere. In a speech in Liberty Square, Saloniki, in July, 1908, Enver
Pasha, who was popularly regarded as the chivalrous young leader of this
insurrection against a century-old tyranny, had eloquently declared
that, “To-day arbitrary government has disappeared. We are all brothers.
There are no longer in Turkey Bulgarians, Greeks, Servians, Rumanians,
Mussulmans, Jews. Under the same blue sky we are all proud to be
Ottomans.” That statement represented the Young Turk ideal for the new
Turkish state, but it was an ideal which it was evidently beyond their
ability to translate into a reality. The races which had been maltreated
and massacred for centuries by the Turks could not transform themselves
overnight into brothers, and the hatreds, jealousies, and religious
prejudices of the past still divided Turkey into a medley of warring
clans. Above all, the destructive wars and the loss of great sections of
the Turkish Empire had destroyed the prestige of the new democracy.
There were plenty of other reasons for the failure, but it is hardly
necessary to discuss them at this time.

Thus the Young Turks had disappeared as a positive regenerating force,
but they still existed as a political machine. Their leaders, Talaat,
Enver, and Djemal, had long since abandoned any expectation of reforming
their state, but they had developed an insatiable lust for personal
power. Instead of a nation of nearly 20,000,000, developing happily
along democratic lines, enjoying suffrage, building up their industry
and agriculture, laying the foundations for universal education,
sanitation, and general progress, I saw that Turkey consisted of merely
so many inarticulate, ignorant, and poverty-ridden slaves, with a small,
wicked oligarchy at the top, which was prepared to use them in the way
that would best promote its private interests. And these men were
practically the same who, a few years before, had made Turkey a
constitutional state. A more bewildering fall from the highest idealism
to the crassest materialism could not be imagined. Talaat, Enver, and
Djemal were the ostensible leaders, yet back of them was the Committee,
consisting of about forty men. This committee met secretly, manipulated
elections, and filled the offices with its own henchmen. It occupied a
building in Constantinople, and had a supreme chief who gave all his
time to its affairs and issued orders to his subordinates. This
functionary ruled the party and the country something like an American
city boss in our most unregenerate days; and the whole organization thus
furnished a typical illustration of what we sometimes describe as
“invisible government.” This kind of irresponsible control has at times
flourished in American cities, mainly because the citizens have devoted
all their time to their private affairs and thus neglected the public
good. But in Turkey the masses were altogether too ignorant to
understand the meaning of democracy, and the bankruptcy and general
vicissitudes of the country had left the nation with practically no
government and an easy prey to a determined band of adventurers. The
Committee of Union and Progress, with Talaat Bey as the most powerful
leader, constituted such a band. Besides the forty men in
Constantinople, sub-committees were organized in all important cities of
the empire. The men whom the Committee placed in power “took orders” and
made the appointments submitted to them. No man could hold an office,
high or low, who was not indorsed by this committee.

I must admit, however, that I do our corrupt American gangs a great
injustice in comparing them with the Turkish Committee of Union and
Progress. Talaat, Enver, and Djemal had added to their system a detail
that has not figured extensively in American politics--that of
assassination and judicial murder. They had wrested power from the other
factions by a deed of violence. This _coup d’état_ had taken place on
January 26, 1913, not quite a year before my arrival. At that time a
political group, headed by the venerable Kiamil Pasha, as Grand Vizier,
and Nazim Pasha, as Minister of War, controlled the Government; they
represented a faction known as the “Liberal Party,” which was chiefly
distinguished for its enmity to the Young Turks. These men had fought
the disastrous Balkan War, and, in January, they had felt themselves
compelled to accept the advice of the European powers and surrender
Adrianople to Bulgaria. The Young Turks had been outside the breastworks
for about six months looking for an opportunity to return to power. The
proposed surrender of Adrianople apparently furnished them this
opportunity. Adrianople was an important Turkish city, and naturally the
Turkish people regarded the contemplated surrender as marking still
another milestone toward their national doom. Talaat and Enver hastily
collected about two hundred followers and marched to the Sublime Porte,
where the ministry was then sitting. Nazim, hearing the uproar, stepped
out into the hall. He courageously faced the crowd, a cigarette in his
mouth and his hands thrust into his pockets.

“Come, boys,” he said, good humouredly, “what’s all this noise about?
Don’t you know that it is interfering with our deliberations?”

The words had hardly left his mouth when he fell dead. A bullet had
pierced a vital spot.

The mob, led by Talaat and Enver, then forced their way into the council
chamber. They forced Kiamil, the Grand Vizier, to resign his post by
threatening him with the fate that had overtaken Nazim.

As assassination had been the means by which these chieftains had
obtained the supreme power, so assassination continued to be the
instrument upon which they depended for maintaining their control.
Djemal, in addition to his other duties, became Military Governor of
Constantinople, and in this capacity he had control of the police; in
this office he developed all the talents of a Fouché, and did his work
so successfully that any man who wished to conspire against the Young
Turks usually retired for that purpose to Paris or Athens. The few
months that preceded my arrival had been a reign of terror. The Young
Turks had destroyed Abdul Hamid’s régime only to adopt that Sultan’s
favourite methods of quieting opposition. Instead of having one Abdul
Hamid, Turkey now discovered that she had several. Men were arrested and
deported by the score, and hangings of political offenders--opponents,
that is, of the ruling gang--were common occurrences.

The weakness of the Sultan particularly facilitated the ascendancy of
this committee. We must remember that Mohammed V was not only Sultan but
Caliph--not only the temporal ruler, but also head of the Mohammedan
Church. As religious leader he was an object of veneration to millions
of devout Moslems, a fact which would have given a strong man in his
position great influence in freeing Turkey from its oppressors. I
presume that even those who had the most kindly feelings toward the
Sultan would not

[Illustration: BEYLERBEY PALACE ON THE BOSPHORUS

Where Abdul Hamid was confined from the time when he was taken from
Saloniki until his recent death--a photograph taken from the launch of
the _Scorpion_, the American guardship at Constantinople]

[Illustration: THE AMERICAN EMBASSY AT CONSTANTINOPLE

Where Ambassador Morgenthau conducted American diplomatic affairs from
the fall of 1913 to the spring of 1916. After Turkey came into the war
Mr. Morgenthau accepted charge of the affairs of nine other nations]

[Illustration: HENRY MORGENTHAU, AMERICAN AMBASSADOR TO TURKEY,
1913-1916]

have described him as an energetic, masterful man. It is a miracle that
the circumstances which fate had forced upon Mohammed had not long since
completely destroyed him. He was a brother of Abdul Hamid--Gladstone’s
“great assassin”--a man who ruled by espionage and bloodshed, and who
had no more consideration for his own relatives than for the massacred
Armenians. One of Abdul Hamid’s first acts, when he ascended the throne,
was to shut up his heir apparent in a palace, surrounding him with
spies, restricting him for society to his harem and a few palace
functionaries, and constantly holding over his head the fear of
assassination. Naturally Mohammed’s education had been limited; he spoke
only Turkish, and his only means of learning about the outside world was
an occasional Turkish newspaper. So long as he remained quiescent, the
heir apparent was comfortable and fairly secure, but he knew that the
first sign of revolt, or even a too curious interest in what was going
on, would be the signal for his death. Hard as this ordeal was, it had
not destroyed what was fundamentally a benevolent, gentle nature. The
Sultan had no characteristics that suggested the “terrible Turk.” He was
simply a quiet, easy-going, gentlemanly old man. Everybody liked him and
I do not think that he harboured ill-feeling against a human soul. He
could not rule his empire, for he had had no preparation for such a
difficult task; he took a certain satisfaction in his title and in the
consciousness that he was a lineal descendant of the great Osman;
clearly, however, he could not oppose the schemes of the men who were
then struggling for the control of Turkey. In the replacement of Abdul
Hamid, as his master, by Talaat, Enver, and Djemal, the Sultan had not
greatly improved his personal position. The Committee of Union and
Progress ruled him precisely as they ruled all the rest of Turkey--by
intimidation. Indeed they had already given him a sample of their power,
for the Sultan had attempted on one occasion to assert his independence,
and the conclusion of this episode left no doubt as to who was master. A
group of thirteen “conspirators” and other criminals, some real ones,
others merely political offenders, had been sentenced to be hanged.
Among them was an imperial son-in-law. Before the execution could take
place the Sultan had to sign the death warrants. He begged that he be
permitted to pardon the imperial son-in-law, though he raised no
objection to viséing the hangings of the other twelve. The nominal ruler
of 20,000,000 people figuratively went down upon his knees before
Talaat, but all his pleadings did not affect this determined man. Here,
Talaat reasoned, was a chance to decide, once for all, who was master,
the Sultan or themselves. A few days afterward the melancholy figure of
the imperial son-in-law, dangling at the end of a rope in full view of
the Turkish populace, visibly reminded the empire that Talaat and the
Committee were the masters of Turkey. After this tragical test of
strength, the Sultan never attempted again to interfere in affairs of
state. He knew what had happened to Abdul Hamid, and he feared an even
more terrible fate for himself.

By the time I reached Constantinople the Young Turks thus completely
controlled the Sultan. He was popularly referred to as an
“irade-machine,” a phrase which means about the same thing as when we
refer to a man as a “rubber stamp.” His state duties consisted merely
in performing certain ceremonies, such as receiving ambassadors, and in
affixing his signature to such papers as Talaat and his associates
placed before him. This was a profound change in the Turkish system,
since in that country for centuries the Sultan had been an unquestioned
despot, whose will had been the only law, and who had centred in his own
person all the power of sovereignty. Not only the Sultan, but the
Parliament, had become the subservient creature of the Committee, which
chose practically all the members, who voted only as the predominant
bosses dictated. The Committee had already filled several of the most
powerful cabinet offices with its followers, and was reaching out for
the several important places that, for several reasons, still remained
in other hands.



CHAPTER II

THE “BOSS SYSTEM” IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE AND HOW IT PROVED USEFUL TO
GERMANY


Talaat, the leading man in this band of usurpers, really had remarkable
personal qualities. Naturally Talaat’s life and character proved
interesting to me, for I had for years been familiar with the Boss
system in my own country, and in Talaat I saw many resemblances to the
crude yet able citizens who have so frequently in the past gained power
in local and state politics. Talaat’s origin was so obscure that there
were plenty of stories in circulation concerning it. One account said
that he was a Bulgarian gipsy, while another described him as a Pomak--a
Pomak being a man of Bulgarian blood whose ancestors, centuries ago, had
embraced the Mohammedan faith. According to this latter explanation,
which I think was the true one, this real ruler of the Turkish Empire
was not a Turk at all. I can personally testify that he cared nothing
for Mohammedanism for, like most of the leaders of his party, he scoffed
at all religions. “I hate all priests, rabbis, and hodjas,” he once told
me--hodja being the nearest equivalent the Mohammedans have for a
minister of religion. In American city politics many men from the
humblest walks of life have not uncommonly developed great abilities as
politicians, and similarly Talaat had started life as a letter carrier.
From this occupation he had risen to be a telegraph operator at
Adrianople; and of these humble beginnings he was extremely proud. I
visited him once or twice at his house; although Talaat was then the
most powerful man in the Turkish Empire, his home was still the modest
home of a man of the people. It was cheaply furnished; the whole
establishment reminded me of a moderately priced apartment in New York.
His most cherished possession was the telegraph instrument with which he
had once earned his living. Talaat one night told me that he had that
day received his salary as Minister of the Interior; after paying his
debts, he said, he had just one hundred dollars left in the world. He
liked to spend part of his spare time with the rough-shod crew that made
up the Committee of Union and Progress; in the interims when he was out
of the cabinet he used to occupy the desk daily at party headquarters,
personally managing the party machine. Despite these humble beginnings,
Talaat had developed some of the qualities of a man of the world. Though
his early training had not included instruction in the use of a knife
and fork--such implements are wholly unknown among the poorer classes in
Turkey--Talaat could attend diplomatic dinners and represent his country
with a considerable amount of dignity and personal ease. I have always
regarded it as indicating his innate cleverness that, though he had had
little schooling, he had picked up enough French to converse tolerably
in that language. Physically, he was a striking figure. His powerful
frame, his huge sweeping back, and his rocky biceps emphasized that
natural mental strength and forcefulness which had made possible his
career. In discussing matters Talaat liked to sit at his desk, with his
shoulders drawn up, his head thrown back, and his wrists, twice the
size of an ordinary man’s, planted firmly on the table. It always seemed
to me that it would take a crowbar to pry these wrists from the board,
once Talaat’s strength and defiant spirit had laid them there. Whenever
I think of Talaat now I do not primarily recall his rollicking laugh,
his uproarious enjoyment of a good story, the mighty stride with which
he crossed the room, his fierceness, his determination, his
remorselessness--the whole life and nature of the man take form in those
gigantic wrists.

Talaat, like most strong men, had his forbidding, even his ferocious,
moods. One day I found him sitting at the usual place, his massive
shoulders drawn up, his eyes glowering, his wrists planted on the desk.
I always anticipated trouble whenever I found him in this attitude. As I
made request after request, Talaat, between his puffs at his cigarette,
would answer “No!” “No!” “No!”

I slipped around to his side of the desk.

“I think those wrists are making all the trouble, Your Excellency,” I
said. “Won’t you please take them off the table?”

Talaat’s ogre-like face began to crinkle, he threw up his arms, leaned
back, and gave a roar of terrific laughter. He enjoyed this method of
treating him so much that he granted every request that I made.

At another time I came into his room when two Arab princes were present.
Talaat was solemn and dignified, and refused every demand I made. “No, I
shall not do that”; or, “No, I haven’t the slightest idea of doing
that,” he would answer. I saw that he was trying to impress his princely
guests; to show them that he had become so great a man that he did not
hesitate to “turn down” an ambassador. So I came up nearer and spoke
quietly.

“I see you are trying to make an impression on these princes,” I said.
“Now if it’s necessary for you to pose, do it with the Austrian
Ambassador--he’s out there waiting to come in. My affairs are too
important to be trifled with.”

Talaat laughed. “Come back in an hour,” he said. I returned; the Arab
princes had left, and we had no difficulty in arranging matters to my
satisfaction.

“Someone has got to govern Turkey; why not we?” Talaat once said to me.
The situation had just about come to that. “I have been greatly
disappointed,” he would tell me, “at the failure of the Turks to
appreciate democratic institutions. I hoped for it once, and I worked
hard for it--but they were not prepared for it.” He saw a government
which the first enterprising man who came along might seize, and he
determined to be that man. Of all the Turkish politicians whom I met I
regarded Talaat as the only one who really had extraordinary native
ability. He had great force and dominance, the ability to think quickly
and accurately, and an almost superhuman insight into men’s motives. His
great geniality and his lively sense of humour also made him a splendid
manager of men. He showed his shrewdness in the measures which he took,
after the murder of Nazim, to gain the upper hand in this distracted
empire. He did not seize the government all at once; he went at it
gradually, feeling his way. He realized the weaknesses of his position;
he had several forces to deal with--the envy of his associates on the
revolutionary committee which had backed him, the army, the foreign
governments, and the several factions that made up what then passed for
public opinion in Turkey. Any of these elements might destroy him,
politically and physically. He understood the dangerous path that he was
treading, and he always anticipated a violent death. “I do not expect to
die in my bed,” he told me. By becoming Minister of the Interior, Talaat
gained control of the police and the administration of the provinces, or
vilayets; this gave him a great amount of patronage, which he used to
strengthen the power of the Committee. He attempted to gain the support
of all influential factions by gradually placing their representatives
in the other cabinet posts. Though he afterward became the man who was
chiefly responsible for the massacre of hundreds of thousands of
Armenians, at this time Talaat maintained the pretense that the
Committee stood for the unionization of all the races in the empire, and
for this reason his first cabinet contained an Arab-Christian, a Deunme
(a Jew by race, but a Mohammedan by religion), a Circassian, an
Armenian, and an Egyptian.

He made the latter Grand Vizier, the highest post in the Government, a
position which roughly corresponds to that of Chancellor in the German
Empire. The man whom he selected for this office, which in ordinary
times was the most dignified and important in the empire, belonged to
quite a different order of society from Talaat. Not uncommonly bosses in
America select high-class figureheads for mayors or even governors, men
who will give respectability to their faction, yet whom, at the same
time, they think they can control. It was some such motive as this which
led Talaat and his associates to elevate Saïd Halim to the Grand
Vizierate. Saïd Halim was an Egyptian prince, the cousin of the Khedive
of Egypt, a man of great wealth and great culture. He spoke English and
French as fluently as his own tongue and was an ornament to any society
in the world. But he was a man of unlimited vanity and ambition. His
great desire was to become Khedive of Egypt, and this had led him to
trust his political fortunes to the gang that was then ascendant in
Turkey. He was the heaviest “campaign contributor,” and, indeed, he had
largely financed the Young Turks from their earliest days. In exchange
they had given him the highest office in the empire, with the tacit
understanding that he should not attempt to exercise the real powers of
his office, but content himself with enjoying its dignities.

Germany’s war preparations had for years included the study of internal
conditions in other countries; an indispensable part of the imperial
programme had been to take advantage of such disorganizations as existed
to push her schemes of penetration and conquest. What her emissaries
have attempted in France, Italy, and even the United States is apparent,
and their success in Russia has greatly changed the course of the war.
Clearly such a situation as that which prevailed in Turkey in 1913 and
1914 provided an ideal opportunity for manipulations of this kind. And
Germany had one great advantage in Turkey which was not so conspicuously
an element in other countries. Talaat and his associates needed Germany
almost as badly as Germany needed Talaat. They were altogether new to
the business of managing an empire. Their finances were depleted, their
army and navy almost in tatters, enemies were constantly attempting to
undermine them at home, and the great powers regarded them as seedy
adventurers whose career was destined to be brief. Without strong
support from an outside source, it was a question how long the new
régime could survive. Talaat and his Committee needed some foreign power
to organize the army and navy, to finance the nation, to help them
reconstruct their industrial system, and to protect them against the
encroachments of the encircling nations. Ignorant as they were of
foreign statecraft, they needed a skilful adviser to pilot them through
all the channels of international intrigue. Where was such a protector
to be obtained? Evidently only one of the great European powers could
perform this office. Which one should it be? Ten years before Turkey
would naturally have appealed to England. But now the Turks regarded
England as merely the nation that had despoiled them of Egypt and that
had failed to protect Turkey from dismemberment after the Balkan wars.
Together with Russia, Great Britain now controlled Persia and thus
constituted a constant threat--at least so the Turks believed--against
their Asiatic dominions. England was gradually withdrawing her
investments from Turkey, English statesmen believed that the task of
driving the Turk from Europe was about complete, and the whole
Near-Eastern policy of Great Britain hinged on maintaining the
organization of the Balkans as it had been determined by the Treaty of
Bucharest--a treaty which Turkey refused to regard as binding and which
she was determined to upset. Above all, the Turks feared Russia in 1914,
just as they had feared her ever since the days of Peter the Great.
Russia was the historic enemy, the nation which had given freedom to
Bulgaria and Rumania, which had been most active in dismembering the
Ottoman Empire, and which regarded herself as the power that was
ultimately to possess Constantinople. This fear of Russia, I cannot too
much insist, was the one factor which, above everything else, was
forcing Turkey into the arms of Germany. For more than half a century
Turkey had regarded England as her surest safeguard against Russian
aggression, and now England had become Russia’s virtual ally. There was
even then a general belief, which the Turkish chieftains shared, that
England was entirely willing that Russia should inherit Constantinople
and the Dardanelles.

Though Russia, in 1914, was making no such pretensions, at least openly,
the fact that she was crowding Turkey in other directions made it
impossible that Talaat and Enver should look for support in that
direction. Italy had just seized the last Turkish province in Africa,
Tripoli, at that moment, was holding Rhodes and other Turkish islands,
and was known to cherish aggressive plans in Asia Minor. France was the
ally of Russia and Great Britain, and was also constantly extending her
influence in Syria, in which province, indeed, she had made great plans
for “penetration” with railroads, colonies, and concessions. The
personal equation played an important part in the ensuing drama. The
ambassadors of the Triple Entente hardly concealed their contempt for
the dominant Turkish politicians and their methods. Sir Louis Mallet,
the British Ambassador, was a high-minded and cultivated English
gentleman; Bompard, the French Ambassador, was a similarly charming,
honourable Frenchman, and both were personally disqualified from
participating in the murderous intrigues which then comprised Turkish
politics. Giers, the Russian Ambassador, was a proud and scornful
diplomat of the old aristocratic régime. He was exceedingly astute, but
he treated the Young Turks contemptuously, manifested almost a
proprietary interest in the country, and seemed to me already to be
wielding the knout over this despised government. It was quite apparent
that the three ambassadors of the Entente did not regard the Talaat and
Enver régime as permanent, or as particularly worth their while to
cultivate. That several factions had risen and fallen in the last six
years they knew, and they likewise believed that this latest usurpation
would vanish in a few months.

But there was one active man in Turkey then who had no nice scruples
about using such agencies as were most available for accomplishing his
purpose. Wangenheim clearly saw, what his colleagues had only faintly
perceived, that these men were steadily fastening their hold on Turkey,
and that they were looking for some strong power that would recognize
their position and abet them in maintaining it. In order that we may
clearly understand the situation, let us transport ourselves, for a
moment, to a country that is nearer to us than Turkey. In 1913
Victoriano Huerta and his fellow conspirators gained control of Mexico
by means not unlike those that had given Talaat and his Committee the
supreme power in Turkey. Just as Huerta murdered Madero, so the Young
Turks had murdered Nazim, and in both countries assassination had become
a regular political weapon. Huerta controlled the Mexican Congress and
the offices just as Talaat controlled the Turkish Parliament and the
chief posts of that state. Mexico under Huerta was a poverty-stricken
country, with depleted finances, exhausted industries and agriculture,
just as was Turkey under Talaat. How did Huerta seek to secure his own
position and rehabilitate his distracted country? There was only one
way, of course--that was by enlisting the support of some strong foreign
power. He sought repeatedly to gain recognition from the United States
for this reason and, when we refused to deal with a murderer, Huerta
looked to Germany. Let us suppose that the Kaiser had responded; he
could have reorganized Mexican finances, rebuilt her railroads,
reëstablished her industries, modernized her army, and in this way
obtained a grip on the country that would have amounted to virtual
possession.

Only one thing prevented Germany from doing this--the Monroe Doctrine.
But there was no Monroe Doctrine in Turkey, and what I have described as
a possibility in Mexico is in all essentials an accurate picture of what
happened in the Ottoman Empire. As I look back upon the situation, the
whole thing seems so clear, so simple, so inevitable. Germany, up to
that time, was practically the only great power in Europe that had not
appropriated large slices of Turkish territory, a fact which gave her an
initial advantage. Germany’s representative at Constantinople was far
better qualified than that of any other country, not only by absence of
scruples, but also by knowledge and skill, to handle this situation.
Wangenheim was not the only capable German then on the ground. A
particularly influential outpost of Pan-Germany was Paul Weitz, who had
represented the _Frankfurter Zeitung_ in Turkey for thirty years. Weitz
had the most intimate acquaintance with Turks and Turkish affairs; there
was not a hidden recess to which he could not gain admittance. He was
constantly at Wangenheim’s elbow, prompting, advising, informing. The
German naval attaché, Humann, the son of a famous German archæologist,
had been born in Smyrna, and had passed practically his whole life in
Turkey; he not only spoke Turkish, but he could also think like a Turk,
and the whole psychology of the people was part of his mental equipment.
Moreover, Enver, one of the two main Turkish chieftains, was on friendly
terms with Humann. When I think of this experienced trio, Wangenheim,
Weitz, and Humann, and of the charming and honourable gentlemen who were
opposed to them, Mallet, Bompard, and Giers, the events that now rapidly
followed seem as inevitable as the orderly processes of nature. By the
spring of 1914 Talaat and Enver, representing the Committee of Union and
Progress, practically dominated the Turkish Empire. Wangenheim, always
having in mind the approaching war, had one inevitable purpose: that was
to control Talaat and Enver.

Early in January, 1914, Enver became Minister of War. At that time Enver
was thirty-two years old; like all the leading Turkish politicians of
the period he came of humble stock and his popular title, “Hero of the
Revolution,” shows why Talaat and the Committee had selected him as
Minister of War. Enver enjoyed something of a military reputation,
though, so far as I could discover, he had never achieved a great
military success. The revolution of which he had been one of the leaders
in 1908 had cost very few human lives; he commanded an army in Tripoli
against the Italians in 1912--but certainly there was nothing Napoleonic
about that campaign. Enver himself once told me how, in the Second
Balkan War, he had ridden all night at the head of his troops to the
capture of Adrianople, and how, when he arrived there, the Bulgarians
had abandoned it and his victory had thus been a bloodless one. But
certainly Enver did have one trait that made for success in such a
distracted country as Turkey--and that was audacity. He was quick in
making decisions, always ready to stake his future and his very life
upon the success of a single adventure; from the beginning, indeed, his
career had been one lucky crisis after another. His nature had a
remorselessness, a lack of pity, a cold-blooded determination, of which
his clean-cut handsome face, his small but sturdy figure, and his
pleasing manners gave no indication. Nor would the casual spectator have
suspected the passionate personal ambition that drove him on. His
friends commonly referred to him as “Napoleonlik”--the little
Napoleon--and this nickname really represented Enver’s abiding
conviction. I remember sitting one night with Enver, in his house; on
one side hung a picture of Napoleon; on the other one of Frederick the
Great; and between them sat Enver himself! This fact gives some notion
of his vanity; these two warriors and statesmen were his great heroes
and I believe that Enver thought fate had a career in store for him not
unlike theirs. The fact that, at twenty-six, he had taken a leading part
in the revolution which had deposed Abdul Hamid, naturally caused him to
compare himself with Bonaparte; several times he has told me that he
believed himself to be “a man of destiny.” Enver even affected to
believe that he had been divinely set apart to reëstablish the glory of
Turkey and make himself the great dictator. Yet, as I have suggested,
there was something almost dainty and feminine in Enver’s appearance. He
was the type that in America we sometimes call a matinée idol, and the
word women frequently used to describe him was “dashing.” His face
contained not a single line or furrow; it never disclosed his emotions
or his thoughts; he was always calm, steely, imperturbable. That Enver
certainly lacked Napoleon’s penetration is evident from the way he had
planned to obtain the supreme power, for he early allied his personal
fortunes with Germany. For years his sympathies had been with the
Kaiser. Germany, the German army and navy, the German language, and the
German autocratic system exercised a fatal charm upon this youthful
preacher of Turkish democracy. After Hamid fell, Enver went on a
military mission to Berlin, and here the Kaiser immediately detected in
him a possible instrument for working out his plans in the Orient, and
cultivated him in numerous ways. Afterward Enver spent a considerable
time in Berlin as military attaché, and this experience still further
endeared him to Germany. The man who returned to Constantinople was
almost more German than Turkish. He had learned to speak German
fluently, he was even wearing a moustache slightly curled up at the
ends; indeed, he had been completely captivated by Prussianism. As soon
as Enver became Minister of War, Wangenheim flattered and cajoled the
young man, played upon his ambitions, and probably promised him
Germany’s complete support in achieving them. In his private
conversation Enver made no secret of his admiration for Germany.

Thus Enver’s elevation to the Ministry of War was virtually a German
victory. He immediately instituted a drastic reorganization. Enver told
me himself that he had accepted the post only on condition that he
should have a free hand, and this free hand he now proceeded to
exercise. The army still contained a large number of officers, many of
whom were partisans of the murdered Nazim and favoured the old régime
rather than the Young Turks, Enver promptly cashiered 268 of these, and
put in their places Turks who were known as “U. and P.” men, and many
Germans. The Enver-Talaat group always feared a revolution that would
depose them as they had thrown out their predecessors. Many times did
they tell me that their own success as revolutionists had taught them
how easily a few determined men could seize control of the country; they
did not propose, they said, to have a little group in their army
organize such a _coup d’état_ against them. The boldness of Enver’s move
alarmed even Talaat, but Enver showed the determination of his character
and refused to reconsider his action, though one of the officers removed
was Chukri Pasha, who had defended Adrianople in the Balkan war. Enver
issued a circular to the Turkish commanders, practically telling them
that they must look only to him for preferment and that they could make
no headway by playing politics with any group except that dominated by
the Young Turks.

Thus Enver’s first acts were the beginnings in the Prussification of the
Turkish army, but Talaat was not an enthusiastic German like his
associate. He had no intention of playing Germany’s game; he was working
chiefly for the Committee and for himself. But he could not succeed
unless he had control of the army; therefore, he had made Enver, for
years his intimate associate in “U. and P.” politics, Minister of War.
Again he needed a strong army if he was to have any at all, and
therefore he turned to the one source where he could find assistance, to
Germany. Wangenheim and Talaat, in the latter part of 1913, had arranged
that the Kaiser should send a military mission to reorganize the Turkish
forces. Talaat told me that, in calling in this mission, he was using
Germany, though Germany thought that it was using him. That there were
definite dangers in the move he well understood. A deputy who discussed
this situation with Talaat in January, 1914, has given me a memorandum
of a conversation which shows well what was going on in Talaat’s mind.

“Why do you hand the management of the country over to the Germans?”
asked this deputy, referring to the German military mission. “Don’t you
see that this is part of Germany’s plan to make Turkey a German
colony--that we shall become merely another Egypt?”

“We understand perfectly,” replied Talaat, “that that is Germany’s
programme. We also know that we cannot put this country on its feet with
our own resources. We shall, therefore, take advantage of such technical
and material assistance as the Germans can place at our disposal. We
shall use Germany to help us reconstruct and defend the country until we
are able to govern ourselves with our own strength. When that day comes,
we can say good-bye to the Germans within twenty-four hours.”

Certainly the physical condition of the Turkish army betrayed the need
of assistance from some source. The picture it presented, before the
Germans arrived, I have always regarded as portraying the condition of
the whole empire. When I issued invitations for my first reception, a
large number of Turkish officials asked to be permitted to come in
evening clothes; they said that they had no uniforms and no money with
which to purchase or to hire them. They had not received their salaries
for three and a half months. As the Grand Vizier, who regulates the
etiquette of such functions, still insisted on full uniform, many of
these officials had to remain absent. About the same time the new German
mission asked the commander of the second army corps to exercise his
men, but the commander replied that he could not do so as his men had no
shoes!

Desperate and wicked as Talaat subsequently showed himself to be, I
still think that he at least was not then a willing tool of Germany. An
episode that involved myself bears out this view. In describing the
relations of the great powers to Turkey I have said nothing about the
United States. In fact, we had no important business relations at that
time. The Turks regarded us as a country of idealists and altruists, and
the fact that we spent millions building wonderful educational
institutions in their country purely from philanthropic motives aroused
their astonishment and possibly their admiration. They liked Americans
and regarded us as about the only disinterested friend whom they had
among the nations. But our interests in Turkey were small; the Standard
Oil Company did a growing business, the Singer Company sold sewing
machines to the Armenians and Greeks; we bought a good deal of their
tobacco, figs, and rugs, and gathered their licorice root. In addition
to these activities, missionaries and educational experts formed about
our only contacts with the Turkish Empire. The Turks knew that we had
no desire to dismember their country or to mingle in Balkan politics.
The very fact that my country was so disinterested was perhaps the
reason why Talaat discussed Turkish affairs so freely with me. In the
course of these conversations I frequently expressed my desire to serve
them, and Talaat and some of the other members of the Cabinet got into
the habit of consulting me on business matters. Soon after my arrival, I
made a speech at the American Chamber of Commerce in Constantinople;
Talaat, Djemal, and other important leaders were present. I talked about
the backward economic state of Turkey and admonished them not to be
discouraged. I described the condition of the United States after the
Civil War and made the point that our devastated Southern States
presented a spectacle not unlike that of Turkey at that present moment.
I then related how we had gone to work, developed our resources, and
built up the present thriving nation. My remarks apparently made a deep
impression, especially my statement that after the Civil War the United
States had become a large borrower in foreign money markets and had
invited immigration from all parts of the world.

This speech apparently gave Talaat a new idea. It was not impossible
that the United States might furnish him the material support which he
had been seeking in Europe. Already I had suggested that an American
financial expert should be sent to study Turkish finance and in this
connection I had mentioned Mr. Henry Bruère, of New York--a suggestion
which the Turks had received favourably. At that time Turkey’s greatest
need was money. France had financed Turkey for many years, and French
bankers, in the spring of 1914, were negotiating for another large
loan. Though Germany had made some loans, the condition of the Berlin
money market at that time did not encourage the Turks to expect much
assistance from that source.

In late December, 1913, Bustány Effendi--a Christian Arab, and Minister
of Commerce and Agriculture, who spoke English fluently (he had been
Turkish commissioner to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893)--called and
approached me on the question of an American loan. Bustány asked if
there were not American financiers who would take entire charge of the
reorganization of Turkish finance. His plea was really a cry of despair
and it touched me deeply. As I wrote in my diary at the time, “They seem
to be scraping the box for money.” But I had been in Turkey only six
weeks, and obviously I had no information on which I could recommend
such a large contract to American bankers. I informed Bustány that my
advice would not carry much weight in the United States unless it were
based on a complete knowledge of economic conditions in Turkey. Talaat
came to me a few days later, suggesting that I make a prolonged tour
over the empire and study the situation at first hand. He asked if I
could not arrange meanwhile a small temporary loan to tide them over the
interim. He said there was no money in the Turkish Treasury; if I could
get them only $5,000,000, that would satisfy them. I told Talaat that I
would try to raise this amount for them, and that I would adopt his
suggestion and inspect his Empire with the possible idea of interesting
American investors. After obtaining the consent of the State Department,
I wrote to my nephew and business associate, Mr. Robert E. Simon, asking
him to sound certain New York institutions and bankers on making a
small short-time collateral loan to Turkey. Mr. Simon’s investigations
soon disclosed that a Turkish loan did not seem to be regarded as an
attractive business undertaking in New York. Mr. Simon wrote, however,
that Mr. C. K. G. Billings had shown much interest in the idea, and
that, if I desired, Mr. Billings would come out in his yacht and discuss
the matter with the Turkish Cabinet and with me. In a few days Mr.
Billings had started for Constantinople.

The news of Mr. Billings’s approach spread with great rapidity all over
the Turkish capital; the fact that he was coming in his own private
yacht seemed to magnify the importance and the glamour of the event.
That a great American millionaire was prepared to reinforce the depleted
Turkish Treasury and that this support was merely the preliminary step
in the reorganization of Turkish finances by American capitalists,
produced a tremendous flutter in the foreign embassies. So rapidly did
the information spread, indeed, that I rather suspected that the Turkish
Cabinet had taken no particular pains to keep it secret. This suspicion
was strengthened by a visit which I received from the Chief Rabbi
Nahoum, who informed me that he had come at the request of Talaat.

“There is a rumour,” said the Chief Rabbi, “that Americans are about to
make a loan to Turkey. Talaat would be greatly pleased if you would not
contradict it.”

Wangenheim displayed an almost hysterical interest: the idea of America
coming to the financial assistance of Turkey did not fall in with his
plans at all, for in his eyes Turkey’s poverty was chiefly valuable as a
means of forcing the empire into Germany’s hands. One day I showed
Wangenheim a book containing etchings of Mr. Billings’s homes,
pictures, and horses; he showed a great interest, not only in the
horses--Wangenheim was something of a horseman himself--but in this
tangible evidence of great wealth. For the next few days several
ambassadors and ministers filed into my office, each solemnly asking for
a glimpse at this book! As the time approached for Mr. Billings’s
arrival, Talaat began making elaborate plans for his entertainment; he
consulted me as to whom we should invite to the proposed dinners,
lunches, and receptions. As usual Wangenheim got in ahead of the rest.
He could not come to the dinner which we had planned and asked me to
have him for lunch, and in this way he met Mr. Billings several hours
before the other diplomats. Mr. Billings frankly told him that he was
interested in Turkey and that it was not unlikely that he would make the
loan.

In the evening we gave the Billings party a dinner, all the important
members of the Turkish Cabinet being present. Before this dinner,
Talaat, Mr. Billings, and myself had a long talk about the loan. Talaat
informed us that the French bankers had accepted their terms that very
day, and that they would, therefore, need no American money at that
time. He was exceedingly gracious and grateful to Mr. Billings, and
profuse in expressing his thanks. Indeed, he might well have been, for
Mr. Billings’s arrival enabled Turkey at last to close negotiations with
the French bankers. His attempt to express his appreciation had one
curious manifestation. Enver, the second man in the Cabinet, was
celebrating his wedding when Mr. Billings arrived. The progress which
Enver was making in the Turkish world is evidenced from the fact that,
although Enver, as I have said, came of the humblest stock, his bride
was a daughter of the Turkish Imperial House. Turkish weddings are
prolonged affairs, lasting two or three days. The day following the
Embassy dinner, Talaat gave the Billings party a luncheon at the Cercle
d’Orient, and he insisted that Enver should leave his wedding ceremony
long enough to attend this function. Enver, therefore, came to the
luncheon, sat through all the speeches, and then returned to his bridal
party.

I am convinced that Talaat did not regard this Billings episode as
closed. As I look back upon this transaction, I see clearly that he was
seeking to extricate his country, and that the possibility that the
United States would assist him in performing the rescue was ever present
in his mind. He frequently spoke to me of Mr. “Beelings,” as he called
him, and even after Turkey had broken with France and England, and was
depending on Germany for money, his mind still reverted to Mr.
Billings’s visit; perhaps he was thinking of our country as a financial
haven of rest after he had carried out his plan of expelling the
Germans. I am certain that the possibility of American help led him, in
the days of the war, to do many things for me that he would not
otherwise have done. “Remember me to Mr. Beelings” were almost the last
words he said to me when I left Constantinople. This yachting visit,
though it did not lack certain comedy elements at the time, I am sure
ultimately saved many lives from starvation and massacre.



CHAPTER III

“THE PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE KAISER”--WANGENHEIM OPPOSES THE SALE
OF AMERICAN WARSHIPS TO GREECE


But even in March, 1914, the Germans had pretty well tightened their
hold on Turkey. Liman von Sanders, who had arrived in December, had
become the predominant influence in the Turkish army. At first Von
Sanders’ appointment aroused no particular hostility, for German
missions had been called in before to instruct the Turkish army, notably
that of Von der Goltz, and an English naval mission, headed by Admiral
Limpus, was even then in Turkey attempting the difficult task of
reorganizing the Turkish navy. We soon discovered, however, that the Von
Sanders military mission was something quite different from those which
I have named. Even before Von Sanders’ arrival it had been announced
that he was to take command of the first Turkish army corps, and that
General Bronssart von Schnellendorf was to become Chief of Staff. The
appointments signified nothing less than that the Kaiser had almost
completed his plans to annex the Turkish army to his own. To show the
power which Von Sanders’ appointment had given him, it is only necessary
to say that the first army corps practically controlled Constantinople.
These changes clearly showed to what an extent Enver Pasha had become a
cog in the Prussian system. Naturally the representatives of the
Entente Powers could not tolerate such a usurpation by Germany. The
British, French, and Russian Ambassadors immediately called upon the
Grand Vizier and protested with more warmth than politeness over Von
Sanders’ elevation. The Turkish Cabinet hemmed and hawed in the usual
way, protested that the change was not important, but finally it
withdrew Von Sanders’ appointment as head of the first army corps, and
made him Inspector General. However, this did not greatly improve the
situation, for this post really gave Von Sanders greater power than the
one which he had held before. Thus, by January, 1914, seven months
before the Great War began, Germany held this position in the Turkish
army: a German general was Chief of Staff; another was Inspector
General; scores of German officers held commands of the first
importance, and the Turkish politician who was even then an outspoken
champion of Germany, Enver Pasha, was Minister of War.

After securing this diplomatic triumph Wangenheim was granted a
vacation--he had certainly earned it--and Giers, the Russian Ambassador,
went off on a vacation at the same time. Baroness Wangenheim explained
to me--I was ignorant at this time of all these subtleties of
diplomacy--precisely what these vacations signified. Wangenheim’s leave
of absence, she said, meant that the German Foreign Office regarded the
Von Sanders episode as closed--and closed with a German victory. Giers’s
furlough, she explained, meant that Russia declined to accept this point
of view and that, so far as Russia was concerned, the Von Sanders affair
had not ended. I remember writing to my family that, in this mysterious
Near-Eastern diplomacy, the nations talked to each other with acts, not
words, and I instanced Baroness Wangenheim’s explanation of these
diplomatic vacations as a case in point.

An incident which took place in my own house opened all our eyes to how
seriously Von Sanders regarded this military mission. On February 18th,
I gave my first diplomatic dinner; General Von Sanders and his two
daughters attended, the General sitting next to my daughter Ruth. My
daughter, however, did not have a very enjoyable time; this German field
marshal, sitting there in his gorgeous uniform, his breast all sparkling
with medals, hardly said a word throughout the whole meal. He ate his
food silently and sulkily, all my daughter’s attempts to enter into
conversation evoking only an occasional surly monosyllable. The
behaviour of this great military leader was that of a spoiled child.

At the end of the dinner Von Mutius, the German chargé d’affaires, came
up to me in a high state of excitement. It was some time before he could
sufficiently control his agitation to deliver his message.

“You have made a terrible mistake, Mr. Ambassador,” he said.

“What is that?” I asked, naturally taken aback.

“You have greatly offended Field Marshal Von Sanders. You have placed
him at the dinner lower in rank than the foreign ministers. He is the
personal representative of the Kaiser and as such is entitled to equal
rank with the ambassadors. He should have been placed ahead of the
cabinet ministers and the foreign ministers.”

So I had affronted the Emperor himself! This, then, was the explanation
of Von Sanders’ boorish behaviour. Fortunately, my position was an
impregnable one. I had not arranged the seating precedence at this
dinner; I had sent the list of my guests to the Marquis Pallavicini, the
Austrian Ambassador and dean of the diplomatic corps, and the greatest
authority in Constantinople on such delicate points as this. The Marquis
had returned the list, marking in red ink against each name the order of
precedence--1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. I still possess this document as it came
from the Austrian Embassy, and General Von Sanders’ name appears with
the numerals “13” against it. I must admit, however, that “the 13th
chair” did bring him pretty well to the foot of the table.

I explained the situation to Von Mutius and asked M. Panfili,
_conseiller_ of the Austrian Embassy, who was a guest at the dinner, to
come up and make everything clear to the outraged German diplomat. As
the Austrians and Germans were allies, it was quite apparent that the
slight, if slight there had been, was unintentional. Panfili said that
he had been puzzled over the question of Von Sanders’s position, and had
submitted the question to the Marquis. The outcome was that the Austrian
Ambassador had himself fixed Von Sanders’ rank at number 13. But the
German Embassy did not let the matter rest there, for afterward
Wangenheim called on Pallavicini, and discussed the matter with
considerable liveliness.

“If Liman von Sanders represents the Kaiser, whom do you represent?”
Pallavicini asked Wangenheim. The argument was a good one, as the
ambassador is always regarded as the _alter ego_ of his sovereign.

“It is not customary,” continued the Marquis, “for an emperor to have
two representatives at the same court.”

As the Marquis was unyielding, Wangenheim carried the question to the
Grand Vizier. But Saïd Halim refused to assume responsibility for so
momentous a decision and referred the dispute to the Council of
Ministers. This body solemnly sat upon the question and rendered this
verdict: Von Sanders should rank ahead of the ministers of foreign
countries, but below the members of the Turkish Cabinet. Then the
foreign ministers lifted up their voices in protest. Von Sanders not
only became exceedingly unpopular for raising this question, but the
dictatorial and autocratic way in which he had done it aroused general
disgust. The ministers declared that, if Von Sanders were ever given
precedence at any function of this kind, they would leave the table in a
body. The net result was that Von Sanders was never again invited to a
diplomatic dinner. Sir Louis Mallet, the British Ambassador, took a
sardonic interest in the episode. It was lucky, he said, that it had not
happened at his Embassy; if it had, the newspapers would have had
columns about the strained relations between England and Germany!

After all, this proceeding did have great international importance. Von
Sanders’s personal vanity had led him to betray a diplomatic secret; he
was not merely a drill master who had been sent to instruct the Turkish
army; he was precisely what he had claimed to be--the personal
representative of the Kaiser. The Kaiser had selected him, just as he
had selected Wangenheim, as an instrument for working his will in
Turkey. Afterward Von Sanders told me, with all that pride which German
aristocrats manifest when speaking of their imperial master, how the
Kaiser had talked to him a couple of hours the day he had appointed him
to this Constantinople mission, and how, the day that he had started,
Wilhelm had spent another hour giving him final instructions. I reported
this dinner incident to my government as indicating Germany’s growing
ascendancy in Turkey and I presume the other ambassadors likewise
reported it to their governments. The American military attaché, Major
John R. M. Taylor, who was present, attributed the utmost significance
to it. A month after the occurrence he and Captain McCauley, commanding
the _Scorpion_, the American _stationnaire_ at Constantinople, had lunch
at Cairo with Lord Kitchener. The luncheon was a small one, only the
Americans, Lord Kitchener, his sister, and an aide making up the party.
Major Taylor related this incident, and Kitchener displayed much
interest.

“What do you think it signifies?” asked Kitchener.

“I think it means,” Major Taylor said, “that when the big war comes,
Turkey will probably be the ally of Germany. If she is not in direct
alliance, I think that she at least will mobilize on the line of the
Caucasus and thus divert three Russian army corps from the European
theatre of operations.”

Kitchener thought for a moment and then said, “I agree with you.”

And now for several months we had before our eyes this spectacle of the
Turkish army actually under the control of Germany. German officers
drilled the troops daily--all, I am now convinced, in preparation for
the approaching war. Just what results had been accomplished appeared
when, in July, there was a great military review. The occasion was a
splendid and a gala affair. The Sultan attended in state; he sat under a
beautifully decorated tent where he held a little court; and the Khedive
of Egypt, the Crown Prince of Turkey, the princes of the imperial blood
and the entire Cabinet were also on hand. We now saw that, in the
preceding six months, the Turkish army had been completely Prussianized.
What in January had been an undisciplined, ragged rabble was now
parading with the goose step; the men were clad in German field gray,
and they even wore a casque-shaped head covering, which slightly
suggested the German _pickelhaube_. The German officers were immensely
proud of the exhibition, and the transformation of the wretched Turkish
soldiers of January into these neatly dressed, smartly stepping,
splendidly manœuvring troops was really a creditable military
achievement. When the Sultan invited me to his tent I naturally
congratulated him upon the excellent showing of his men. He did not
manifest much enthusiasm; he said that he regretted the possibility of
war; he was at heart a pacifist. I noticed certain conspicuous absences
from this great German fête, for the French, British, Russian, and
Italian ambassadors had kept away. Bompard said that he had received his
ten tickets but that he did not regard that as an invitation. Wangenheim
told me, with some satisfaction, that the other ambassadors were jealous
and that they did not care to see the progress which the Turkish army
had made under German instruction. I did not have the slightest question
that these ambassadors refused to attend because they had no desire to
grace this German holiday; nor did I blame them.

Meanwhile, I had other evidences that Germany was playing her part in
Turkish politics. In June the relations between Greece and Turkey
approached the breaking point. The Treaty of London (May 30, 1913) had
left Greece in possession of the islands of Chios and Mitylene. A
reference to the map discloses the strategic importance of these
islands. They stand there in the Ægean Sea like guardians controlling
the bay and the great port of Smyrna, and it is quite apparent that any
strong military nation which permanently held these vantage points would
ultimately control Smyrna and the whole Ægean coast of Asia Minor. The
racial situation made the continued retention of these islands by Greece
a constant military danger to Turkey. Their population was Greek and had
been Greek since the days of Homer; the coast of Asia Minor itself was
also Greek; more than half the population of Smyrna, Turkey’s greatest
Mediterranean seaport, was Greek; in its industries, its commerce, and
its culture the city was so predominantly Greek that the Turks usually
referred to it as _giaour Ismir_--”infidel Smyrna.” Though this Greek
population was nominally Ottoman in nationality it did not conceal its
affection for the Greek fatherland, these Asiatic Greeks even making
contributions to promote Greek national aims. The Ægean islands and the
mainland, in fact, constituted _Graecia Irredenta_; and that Greece was
determined to redeem them, precisely as she had recently redeemed Crete,
was no diplomatic secret. Should the Greeks ever land an army on this
Asia Minor coast, there was little question that the native Greek
population would welcome it enthusiastically and coöperate with it.

Since Germany, however, had her own plans for

[Illustration: TALAAT PASHA, EX-GRAND VIZIER OF TURKEY

In 1914, when the war broke out, Talaat was Minister of the Interior and
the most influential leader in the Committee of Union and Progress, the
secret organization which controlled the Turkish Empire. A few years ago
Talaat was a letter-carrier, and afterward a telegraph operator in
Adrianople. His talents are those of a great political boss. He
represented Turkey in the peace negotiations with Russia and his
signature appears on the Brest-Litovsk treaty.]

[Illustration: TURKISH INFANTRY AND CAVALRY

In January, 1914, the Turkish Army was a ragged, undisciplined force.
These troops, drilled by German military instructors, show the result of
six months’ training.]

Asia Minor, inevitably the Greeks in this region formed a barrier to
Pan-German aspirations. As long as this region remained Greek, it formed
a natural obstacle to Germany’s road to the Persian Gulf, precisely as
did Serbia. Any one who has read even cursorily the literature of
Pan-Germania is familiar with the peculiar method which German
publicists have advocated for dealing with populations that stand in
Germany’s way. That is by deportation. The violent shifting of whole
peoples from one part of Europe to another, as though they were so many
herds of cattle, has for years been part of the Kaiser’s plans for
German expansion. This is the treatment which, since the war began, she
has applied to Belgium, to Poland, to Serbia; its most hideous
manifestation, as I shall show, has been to Armenia. Acting under
Germany’s prompting, Turkey now began to apply this principle of
deportation to her Greek subjects in Asia Minor. Three years afterward
the German admiral, Usedom, who had been stationed in the Dardanelles
during the bombardment, told me that it was the Germans “who urgently
made the suggestion that the Greeks be moved from the seashore.” The
German motive, Admiral Usedom said, was purely military. Whether Talaat
and his associates realized that they were playing the German game I am
not sure, but there is no doubt that the Germans were constantly
instigating them in this congenial task.

The events that followed foreshadowed the policy adopted in the Armenian
massacres. The Turkish officials pounced upon the Greeks, herded them in
groups and marched them toward the ships. They gave them no time to
settle their private affairs, and they took no pains to keep families
together. The plan was to transport the Greeks to the wholly Greek
islands in the Ægean. Naturally the Greeks rebelled against such
treatment, and occasional massacres were the result, especially in
Phocaea, where more than fifty people were murdered. The Turks demanded
that all foreign establishments in Smyrna dismiss their Greek employees
and replace them with Moslems. Among other American concerns, the Singer
Manufacturing Company received such instructions, and though I
interceded and obtained sixty days’ delay, ultimately this American
concern had to obey the mandate. An official boycott was established
against all Christians, not only in Asia Minor, but in Constantinople,
but this boycott did not discriminate against the Jews, who have always
been more popular with the Turks than have the Christians. The officials
particularly requested Jewish merchants to put signs over their doors
indicating their nationality and trade--such signs as “Abraham the Jew,
tailor,” “Isaac the Jew, shoemaker,” and the like. I looked upon this
boycott as illustrating the topsy-turvy national organization of Turkey,
for here we had a nation engaging in a commercial boycott against its
own subjects.

This procedure against the Greeks not improperly aroused my indignation.
I did not have the slightest suspicion at that time that the Germans had
instigated these deportations, but I looked upon them merely as an
outburst of Turkish ferocity and chauvinism. By this time I knew Talaat
well; I saw him nearly every day, and he used to discuss practically
every phase of international relations with me. I objected vigorously to
his treatment of the Greeks; I told him that it would make the worst
possible impression abroad and that it affected American interests.
Talaat explained his national policy: these different _blocs_ in the
Turkish Empire, he said, had always conspired against Turkey; because of
the hostility of these native populations, Turkey had lost province
after province--Greece, Serbia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Herzegovina,
Egypt, and Tripoli. In this way the Turkish Empire had dwindled almost
to the vanishing point. If what was left of Turkey was to survive, added
Talaat, he must get rid of these alien peoples. “Turkey for the Turks”
was now Talaat’s controlling idea. Therefore he proposed to Turkify
Smyrna and the adjoining islands. Already 40,000 Greeks had left, and he
asked me again to urge American business houses to employ only Turks. He
said that the accounts of violence and murder had been greatly
exaggerated and suggested that a commission be sent to investigate.
“They want a commission to whitewash Turkey,” Sir Louis Mallet, the
British Ambassador, told me. True enough, when this commission did bring
in its report, it exculpated Turkey.

The Greeks in Turkey had one great advantage over the Armenians, for
there was such a thing as a Greek government, which naturally has a
protecting interest in them. The Turks knew that these deportations
would precipitate a war with Greece; in fact, they welcomed such a war
and were preparing for it. So enthusiastic were the Turkish people that
they had raised money by popular subscription and had purchased a
Brazilian dreadnaught which was then under construction in England. The
government had ordered also a second dreadnaught in England, and several
submarines and destroyers in France. The purpose of these naval
preparations was no secret in Constantinople. As soon as they obtained
these ships, or even the one dreadnaught which was nearing completion,
Turkey intended to attack Greece and take back the islands. A single
modern battleship like the _Sultan Osman_--this was the name the Turks
had given the Brazilian vessel--could easily overpower the whole Greek
navy and control the Ægean Sea. As this powerful vessel would be
finished and commissioned in a few months, we all expected the
Greco-Turkish war to break out in the fall. What could the Greek navy
possibly do against this impending danger?

Such was the situation when, early in June, I received a most agitated
visitor. This was Djemal Pasha, the Turkish Minister of Marine and one
of the three men who then dominated the Turkish Empire. I have hardly
ever seen a man who appeared more utterly worried than was Djemal on
this occasion. As he began talking excitedly to my interpreter in
French, his whiskers trembling with his emotions and his hands wildly
gesticulating, he seemed to be almost beside himself. I knew enough
French to understand what he was saying, and the news which he
brought--this was the first I had heard of it--sufficiently explained
his agitation. The American Government, he said, was negotiating with
Greece for the sale of two battleships, the _Idaho_ and the
_Mississippi_. He urged that I should immediately move to prevent any
such sale. His attitude was that of a suppliant; he begged, he implored
that I should intervene. All along, he said, the Turks regarded the
United States as their best friend; I had frequently expressed my desire
to help them; well, here was the chance to show our good feeling. The
fact that Greece and Turkey were practically on the verge of war, said
Djemal, really made the sale of the ships an unneutral act. Still, if
the transaction were purely a commercial one, Turkey would like a chance
to bid. “We will pay more than Greece,” he added. He ended with a
powerful plea that I should at once cable my government about the
matter, and this I promised to do.

Evidently the clever Greeks had turned the tables on their enemy. Turkey
had rather too boldly advertised her intention of attacking Greece as
soon as she had received her dreadnaughts. Both the ships for which
Greece was now negotiating were immediately available for battle! The
_Idaho_ and _Mississippi_ were not indispensable ships for the American
navy; they could not take their place in the first line of battle; they
were powerful enough, however, to drive the whole Turkish navy from the
Ægean. Evidently the Greeks did not intend politely to postpone the
impending war until the Turkish dreadnaughts had been finished, but to
attack as soon as they received these American ships. Djemal’s point, of
course, had no legal validity. However great the threat of war might be,
Turkey and Greece were still actually at peace. Clearly Greece had just
as much right to purchase warships in the United States as Turkey had to
purchase them in Brazil or England.

But Djemal was not the only statesman who attempted to prevent the sale;
the German Ambassador displayed the keenest interest. Several days after
Djemal’s visit, Wangenheim and I were riding in the hills north of
Constantinople; Wangenheim began to talk about the Greeks, to whom he
displayed a violent antipathy, about the chances of war, and the
projected sale of American warships. He made a long argument about the
sale, his reasoning being precisely the same as Djemal’s--a fact which
aroused my suspicions that he had himself coached Djemal for his
interview with me.

“Just look at the dangerous precedent you are establishing,” said
Wangenheim. “It is not unlikely that the United States may sometime find
itself in a position like Turkey’s to-day. Suppose that you were on the
brink of war with Japan; then England could sell a fleet of dreadnaughts
to Japan. How would the United States like that?”

And then he made a statement which indicated what really lay back of his
protest. I have thought of it many times in the last three years. The
scene is indelibly impressed on my mind. There we sat on our horses; the
silent ancient forest of Belgrade lay around us, while in the distance
the Black Sea glistened in the afternoon sun. Wangenheim suddenly became
quiet and extremely earnest. He looked in my eyes and said:

“I don’t think that the United States realizes what a serious matter
this is. The sale of these ships might be the cause that would bring on
a European war.”

This conversation took place on June 13th; this was about six weeks
before the conflagration broke out. Wangenheim knew perfectly well that
Germany was rushing preparations for this great conflict, and he also
knew that preparations were not yet entirely complete. Like all the
German ambassadors, Wangenheim had received instructions not to let any
crisis arise that would precipitate war until all these preparations had
been finished. He had no objections to the expulsion of the Greeks, for
that in itself was part of these preparations; he was much disturbed,
however, over the prospect that the Greeks might succeed in arming
themselves and disturbing existing conditions in the Balkans. At that
moment the Balkans were a smouldering volcano; Europe had gone through
two Balkan wars without becoming generally involved, and Wangenheim knew
that another would set the whole continent ablaze. He knew that war was
coming, but he did not want it just then. He was simply attempting to
influence me at that moment to gain a little more time for Germany.

He went so far as to ask me to cable personally to the President,
explain the seriousness of the situation, and to call his attention to
the telegrams that had gone to the State Department on the proposed sale
of the ships. I regarded his suggestion as an impertinent one and
declined to act upon it.

To Djemal and the other Turkish officials who kept pressing me I
suggested that their ambassador in Washington should take up the matter
directly with the President. They acted on this advice, but the Greeks
again got ahead of them. At two o’clock, June 22d, the Greek chargé
d’affaires at Washington and Commander Tsouklas, of the Greek navy,
called upon the President and arranged the sale. As they left the
President’s office, the Turkish Ambassador entered--just fifteen minutes
too late!

I presume that Mr. Wilson consented to the sale because he knew that
Turkey was preparing to attack Greece and believed that the _Idaho_ and
_Mississippi_ would prevent such an attack and so preserve peace in the
Balkans.

Acting under the authorization of Congress, the administration sold
these ships on July 8, 1914, to Fred J. Gauntlett, for $12,535,276.98.
Congress immediately voted the money realized from the sale to the
construction of a great modern dreadnaught, the _California_. Mr.
Gauntlett transferred the ships to the Greek Government. Rechristened
the _Kilkis_ and the _Lemnos_, those battleships immediately took their
places as the most powerful vessels of the Greek Navy, and the
enthusiasm of the Greeks in obtaining them was unbounded.

By this time we had moved from the Embassy to our summer home on the
Bosphorus. All the summer embassies were located there, and a more
beautiful spot I have never seen. Our house was a three-story building,
something in the Venetian style; behind it the cliff rose abruptly, with
several terraced gardens towering one above the other; the building
stood so near the shore and the waters of the Bosphorus rushed by so
rapidly that when we sat outside, especially on a moonlight night, we
had almost a complete illusion that we were sitting on the deck of a
fast sailing ship. In the daytime the Bosphorus, here little more than a
mile wide, was alive with gaily coloured craft; I recall this animated
scene with particular vividness because I retain in my mind the contrast
it presented a few months afterward, when Turkey’s entrance into the war
had the immediate result of closing this strait. Day by day the huge
Russian steamships, on their way from Black Sea ports to Smyrna,
Alexandria, and other cities, made clear the importance of this little
strip of water, and explained the bloody contests of the European
nations, extending over a thousand years, for its possession. However,
these early summer

[Illustration: BUSTÁNY EFFENDI

Ex-Minister of Commerce and Agriculture in the Turkish Cabinet. He came
to Mr. Morgenthau in January, 1914, seeking American assistance in
financially rehabilitating Turkey]

[Illustration: MOHAMMED V, LATE SULTAN OF TURKEY

His majesty was a kind-hearted old gentleman, entirely ignorant of the
world and lacking in personal force and initiative. The lower picture
shows the Sultan’s carriage at the American Embassy, waiting to take Mr.
Morgenthau to an imperial audience]

months were peaceful; all the ambassadors and ministers and their
families were thrown constantly together; here daily gathered the
representatives of all the powers that for the last four years have been
grappling in history’s bloodiest war, all then apparently friends,
sitting around the same dining tables, walking arm in arm upon the
porches. The ambassador of one power would most graciously escort to
dinner the wife of another whose country was perhaps the most
antagonistic to his own. Little groups would form after dinner; the
Grand Vizier would hold an impromptu reception in one corner, cabinet
ministers would be whispering in another; a group of ambassadors would
discuss the Greek situation out on the porch; the Turkish officials
would glance quizzically upon the animated scene and perhaps comment
quietly in their own tongue; the Russian Ambassador would glide about
the room, pick out someone whom he wished to talk to, lock arms and push
him into a corner for a surreptitious _tête-à-tête_. Meanwhile, our sons
and daughters, the junior members of the diplomatic corps, and the
officers of the several _stationnaires_, dancing and flirting, seemed to
think that the whole proceeding had been arranged solely for their
amusement. And to realize, while all this was going on, that neither the
Grand Vizier, nor any of the other high Turkish officials, would leave
the house without outriders and bodyguards to protect them from
assassination--whatever other emotions such a vibrating atmosphere might
arouse, it was certainly alive with interest. I felt also that there was
something electric about it all; war was ever the favourite topic of
conversation; everyone seemed to realize that this peaceful, frivolous
life was transitory, and that at any moment might come the spark that
was to set everything aflame.

Yet, when the crisis came, it produced no immediate sensation. On June
29th we heard of the assassination of the Archduke of Austria and his
consort. Everybody received the news calmly; there was, indeed, a
stunned feeling that something momentous had happened, but there was
practically no excitement. A day or two after this tragedy I had a long
talk with Talaat on diplomatic matters; he made no reference at all to
this event. I think now that we were all affected by a kind of emotional
paralysis--as we were nearer the centre than most people, we certainly
realized the dangers in the situation. In a day or two our tongues
seemed to have been loosened, for we began to talk--and to talk war.
When I saw Von Mutius, the German chargé, and Weitz, the
diplomat-correspondent of the _Frankfurter Zeitung_, they also discussed
the impending conflict, and again they gave their forecast a
characteristically Germanic touch; when war came, they said, of course
the United States would take advantage of it to get all the Mexican and
South American trade!

When I called upon Pallavicini to express my condolences over the
Archduke’s death, he received me with the most stately solemnity. He was
conscious that he was representing the imperial family, and his grief
seemed to be personal; one would think that he had lost his own son. I
expressed my abhorrence and that of my nation for the deed, and our
sympathy with the aged emperor.

“_Ja, Ja, es ist sehr schrecklich_” (yes, yes, it is very terrible), he
answered, almost in a whisper.

“Serbia will be condemned for her conduct,” he added. “She will be
compelled to make reparation.”

A few days later, when Pallavicini called upon me, he spoke of the
nationalistic societies that Serbia had permitted to exist and of her
determination to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina. He said that his
government would insist on the abandonment of these societies and these
pretentions, and that probably a punitive expedition into Serbia would
be necessary to prevent such outrages as the murder of the Archduke.
Herein I had my first intimation of the famous ultimatum of July 22d.

The entire diplomatic corps attended the requiem mass for the Archduke
and Archduchess, celebrated at the Church of Sainte Marie on July 4th.
The church is located in the Grande Rue de Pera, not far from the
Austrian Embassy; to reach it we had to descend a flight of forty stone
steps. At the top of these stairs representatives of the Austrian
Embassy, dressed in full uniform, with crêpe on the left arm, met us,
and escorted us to our seats. All the ambassadors sat in the front pew;
I recall this with strange emotions now, for it was the last time that
we ever sat together. The service was dignified and beautiful; I
remember it with especial vividness because of the contrasting scene
that immediately followed. When the stately, gorgeously robed priests
had finished, we all shook hands with the Austrian Ambassador, returned
to our automobiles, and started on our eight-mile ride along the
Bosphorus to the American Embassy. For this day was not only the day
when we paid our tribute to the murdered heir of this medieval
autocracy; it was also the Fourth of July. The very setting of the two
scenes symbolized these two national ideals. I always think of this
ambassadorial group going down those stone steps to the church, to pay
their respect to the Archduke, and then going up to the gaily decorated
American Embassy, to pay their respect to the Declaration of
Independence. All the station ships of the foreign countries lay out in
the stream, decorated and dressed in honour of our national holiday, and
the ambassadors and ministers called in full regalia. From the upper
gardens we could see the place where Darius crossed from Asia with his
Persian hosts 2,500 years before--one of those ancient autocrats the
line of which is not yet entirely extinct. There also we could see
magnificent Robert College, an institution that represented America’s
conception of the way to “penetrate” the Turkish Empire. At night our
gardens were illuminated with Chinese lanterns; good old American
fireworks, lighting up the surrounding hills and the Bosphorus, and the
American flag flying at the front of the house, seemed almost to act as
a challenge to the plentiful reminders of autocracy and oppression which
we had had in the early part of the day. Not more than a mile across the
water the dark and gloomy hills of Asia, for ages the birthplace of
military despotisms, caught a faint and, I think, a prophetic glow from
these illuminations.

In glancing at the ambassadorial group at the church and, afterward, at
our reception, I was surprised to note that one familiar figure was
missing. Wangenheim, Austria’s ally, was not present. This somewhat
puzzled me at the time, but afterward I had the explanation from
Wangenheim’s own lips. He had left some days before for Berlin. The
Kaiser had summoned him to an imperial council, which met on July 5th,
and which decided to plunge Europe into war.



CHAPTER IV

GERMANY MOBILIZES THE TURKISH ARMY


In reading the August newspapers, which described the mobilizations in
Europe, I was particularly struck with the emphasis which they laid upon
the splendid spirit that was overnight changing the civilian populations
into armies. At that time Turkey had not entered the war and her
political leaders were loudly protesting their intention of maintaining
a strict neutrality. Despite these pacific statements, the occurrences
in Constantinople were almost as warlike as those that were taking place
in the European capitals. Though Turkey was at peace, her army was
mobilizing, merely, we were told, as a precautionary measure. Yet the
daily scenes which I witnessed in Constantinople bore few resemblances
to those which were agitating every city of Europe. The martial
patriotism of men, and the sublime patience and sacrifice of women, may
sometimes give war an heroic aspect, but in Turkey the prospect was one
of general listlessness and misery. Day by day the miscellaneous Ottoman
hordes passed through the streets. Arabs, bootless and shoeless, dressed
in their most gaily coloured garments, with long linen bags (containing
the required five days’ rations) thrown over their shoulders, shambling
in their gait and bewildered in their manner, touched shoulders with
equally dispirited Bedouins, evidently suddenly snatched from the
desert. A motley aggregation of Turks, Circassians, Greeks, Kurds,
Armenians, and Jews, showing signs of having been summarily taken from
their farms and shops, constantly jostled one another. Most were ragged
and many looked half-starved; everything about them suggested
hopelessness and a cattle-like submission to a fate which they knew that
they could not avoid. There was no joy in approaching battle, no feeling
that they were sacrificing themselves for a mighty cause; day by day
they passed, the unwilling children of a tatterdemalion empire that was
making one last despairing attempt to gird itself for action.

These wretched marchers little realized what was the power that was
dragging them from the four corners of their country. Even we of the
diplomatic group had not then clearly grasped the real situation. We
learned afterward that the signal for this mobilization had not come
originally from Enver or Talaat or the Turkish Cabinet, but from the
General Staff in Berlin and its representatives in Constantinople. Liman
von Sanders and Bronssart were really directing the complicated
operation. There were unmistakable signs of German activity. As soon as
the German armies crossed the Rhine, work was begun on a mammoth
wireless station a few miles outside of Constantinople. The materials
all came from Germany by way of Rumania, and the skilled mechanics,
industriously working from daybreak to sunset, were unmistakably
Germans. Of course, the neutrality laws would have prohibited the
construction of a wireless station for a belligerent in a neutral
country like Turkey; it was therefore officially announced that a German
company was building this heaven-pointing structure for the Turkish
Government and on the Sultan’s own property. But this story deceived no
one. Wangenheim, the German Ambassador, spoke of it freely and
constantly as a German enterprise.

“Have you seen our wireless yet?” he would ask me. “Come on, let’s ride
up there and look it over.”

He proudly told me that it was the most powerful in the world--powerful
enough to catch all messages sent from the Eiffel Tower in Paris! He
said that it would put him in constant communication with Berlin. So
little did he attempt to conceal its German ownership that several
times, when ordinary telegraphic communication was suspended, he offered
to let me use it to send my telegrams.

This wireless plant was an outward symbol of the close though
unacknowledged association which then existed between Turkey and Berlin.
It took some time to finish such an extensive station and in the interim
Wangenheim was using the apparatus on the _Corcovado_, a German merchant
ship which was lying in the Bosphorus opposite the German Embassy. For
practical purposes, Wangenheim had a constant telephone connection with
Berlin.

German officers were almost as active as the Turks themselves in this
mobilization. They enjoyed it all immensely; indeed they gave every sign
that they were having the time of their lives. Bronssart, Humann, and
Lafferts were constantly at Enver’s elbow, advising and directing the
operations. German officers were rushing through the streets every day
in huge automobiles, all requisitioned from the civilian population;
they filled all the restaurants and amusement places at night, and
celebrated their joy in the situation by consuming large quantities of
champagne--also requisitioned. A particularly spectacular and noisy
figure was that of Von der Goltz Pasha. He was constantly making a kind
of viceregal progress through the streets in a huge and madly dashing
automobile, on both sides of which flaring German eagles were painted. A
trumpeter on the front seat would blow loud, defiant blasts as the
conveyance rushed along, and woe to any one, Turk or non-Turk, who
happened to get in the way! The Germans made no attempt to conceal their
conviction that they owned this town. Just as Wangenheim had established
a little Wilhelmstrasse in his Embassy, so had the German military men
established a sub-station of the Berlin General Staff. They even brought
their wives and families from Germany; I heard Baroness Wangenheim
remark that she was holding a little court at the German Embassy.

The Germans, however, were about the only people who were enjoying this
proceeding. The requisitioning that accompanied the mobilization really
amounted to a wholesale looting of the civilian population. The Turks
took all the horses, mules, camels, sheep, cows, and other beasts that
they could lay their hands on; Enver told me that they had gathered in
150,000 animals. They did it most unintelligently, making no provision
for the continuance of the species; thus they would leave only two cows
or two mares in many of the villages. This system of requisitioning, as
I shall describe, had the inevitable result of destroying the nation’s
agriculture, and ultimately led to the starvation of hundreds of
thousands of people. But the Turks, like the Germans, thought that the
war was destined to be a very short one, and that they would quickly
recuperate from the injuries which their methods of supplying an army
were causing their peasant population. The Government showed precisely
the same shamelessness and lack of intelligence in the way that they
requisitioned materials from merchants and shopmen. These proceedings
amounted to little less than conscious highwaymanship. But practically
none of these merchants were Moslems; most of them were Christians,
though there were a few Jews; and the Turkish officials therefore not
only provided the needs of their army and incidentally lined their own
pockets, but they found a religious joy in pillaging the infidel
establishments. They would enter a retail shop, take practically all the
merchandise on the shelves, and give merely a piece of paper in
acknowledgment. As the Government had never paid for the supplies which
it had taken in the Italian and Balkan wars, the merchants hardly
expected that they would ever receive anything for these latest
requisitions. Afterward many who understood officialdom, and were
politically influential, did recover to the extent of 70 per cent.--what
became of the remaining 30 per cent. is not a secret to those who have
had experience with Turkish bureaucrats.

Thus for most of the population requisitioning simply meant financial
ruin. That the process was merely pillaging is shown by many of the
materials which the army took, ostensibly for the use of the soldiers.
Thus the officers seized all the mohair they could find; on occasion
they even carried off women’s silk stockings, corsets, and baby’s
slippers, and I heard of one case in which they reinforced the Turkish
commissary with caviar and other delicacies. They demanded blankets from
one merchant who was a dealer in women’s underwear; because he had no
such stock, they seized what he had, and he afterward saw his
appropriated goods reposing in rival establishments. The Turks did the
same thing in many other cases. The prevailing system was to take
movable property wherever available and convert it into cash; where the
money ultimately went I do not know, but that many private fortunes were
made I have little doubt. I told Enver that this ruthless method of
mobilizing and requisitioning was destroying his country. Misery and
starvation soon began to afflict the land. Out of a 4,000,000 adult male
population more than 1,500,000 were ultimately enlisted and so about a
million families were left without breadwinners, all of them in a
condition of extreme destitution. The Turkish Government paid its
soldiers 25 cents a month, and gave the families a separation allowance
of $1.20 a month. As a result thousands were dying from lack of food and
many more were enfeebled by malnutrition; I believe that the empire has
lost a quarter of its Turkish population since the war started. I asked
Enver why he permitted his people to be destroyed in this way. But
sufferings like these did not distress him. He was much impressed by his
success in raising a large army with practically no money--something, he
boasted, which no other nation had ever done before. In order to
accomplish this, Enver had issued orders which stigmatized the evasion
of military service as desertion and therefore punishable with the death
penalty. He also adopted a scheme by which any Ottoman could obtain
exemption by the payment of about $190. Still Enver regarded his
accomplishment as a notable one. It was really his first taste of
unlimited power and he enjoyed the experience greatly.

That the Germans directed this mobilization is not a matter of opinion
but of proof. I need only mention that the Germans were requisitioning
materials in their own name for their own uses. I have a photographic
copy of such a requisition made by Humann, the German naval attaché, for
a shipload of oil cake. This document is dated September 29, 1914. “The
lot by the steamship _Derindje_ which you mentioned in your letter of
the 26th,” this paper reads, “has been requisitioned by me for the
German Government.” This clearly shows that, a month before Turkey had
entered the war, Germany was really exercising the powers of sovereignty
at Constantinople.



CHAPTER V

WANGENHEIM SMUGGLES THE “GOEBEN” AND THE “BRESLAU” THROUGH THE
DARDANELLES


On August 10th, I went out on a little launch to meet the _Sicilia_, a
small Italian ship which had just arrived from Venice. I was especially
interested in this vessel because she was bringing to Constantinople my
son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Wertheim, and their three
little daughters. The greeting proved even more interesting than I had
expected. I found the passengers considerably excited, for they had
witnessed, the day before, a naval engagement in the Ionian Sea.

“We were lunching yesterday on deck,” my daughter told me, “when I saw
two strange-looking vessels just above the horizon. I ran for the
glasses and made out two large battleships, the first one with two
queer, exotic-looking towers and the other one quite an ordinary-looking
battleship. We watched and saw another ship coming up behind them and
going very fast. She came nearer and nearer and then we heard guns
booming. Pillars of water sprang up in the air and there were many
little puffs of white smoke. It took me some time to realize what it was
all about, and then it burst upon me that we were actually witnessing an
engagement. The ships continually shifted their position but went on and
on. The two big ones turned and rushed furiously for the little one, and
then

[Illustration: WANGENHEIM, THE GERMAN AMBASSADOR

     In front of his lodge, where he spent much of his time in the
     August and September months of 1914, rejoicing in German victories.
     From here he directed by wireless the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_
     and brought them into Constantinople
]

apparently they changed their minds and turned back. Then the little one
turned around and calmly steamed in our direction. At first I was
somewhat alarmed at this, but nothing happened. She circled around us
with her tars excited and grinning and somewhat grimy. They signalled to
our captain many questions, and then turned and finally disappeared. The
captain told us that the two big ships were Germans which had been
caught in the Mediterranean and which were trying to escape from the
British fleet. He said that the British ships are chasing them all over
the Mediterranean, and that the German ships are trying to get into
Constantinople. Have you seen anything of them? Where do you suppose the
British fleet is?”

[Illustration: THE DARDANELLES AND THE BLACK SEA]

A few hours afterward I happened to meet Wangenheim. When I told him
what Mrs. Wertheim had seen, he displayed an agitated interest.
Immediately after lunch he called at the American Embassy with
Pallavicini, the Austrian Ambassador, and asked for an interview with my
daughter. The two ambassadors solemnly planted themselves in chairs
before Mrs. Wertheim and subjected her to a most minute, though very
polite, cross examination. “I never felt so important in my life,” she
afterward told me. They would not permit her to leave out a single
detail; they wished to know how many shots had been fired, what
direction the German ships had taken, what everybody on board had said,
and so on. The visit seemed to give these allied ambassadors immense
relief and satisfaction, for they left the house in an almost jubilant
mood, behaving as though a great weight had been taken off their minds.
And certainly they had good reason for their elation. My daughter had
been the means of giving them the news which they had desired to hear
above everything else--that the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ had escaped
the British fleet and were then steaming rapidly in the direction of the
Dardanelles.

For it was those famous German ships, the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_,
which my daughter had seen engaged in battle with a British scout ship!

The next day official business called me to the German Embassy. But
Wangenheim’s animated manner soon disclosed that he had no interest in
routine matters. Never had I seen him so nervous and so excited. He
could not rest in his chair more than a few minutes at a time; he was
constantly jumping up, rushing to the window and looking anxiously out
toward the Bosphorus, where his private wireless station, the
_Corcovado_, lay about three quarters of a mile away. Wangenheim’s face
was flushed and his eyes were shining; he would stride up and down the
room, speaking now of a recent German victory, now giving me a little
forecast of Germany’s plans--and then he would stalk to the window again
for another look at the _Corcovado_.

“Something is seriously distracting you,” I said, rising. “I will go and
come again some other time.”

“No, no!” the Ambassador almost shouted. “I want you to stay right where
you are. This will be a great day for Germany! If you will only remain
for a few minutes you will hear a great piece of news--something that
has the utmost bearing upon Turkey’s relation to the war.”

Then he rushed out on the portico and leaned over the balustrade. At the
same moment I saw a little launch put out from the _Corcovado_ toward
the Ambassador’s dock. Wangenheim hurried down, seized an envelope from
one of the sailors, and a moment afterward burst into the room again.

“We’ve got them!” he shouted to me.

“Got what?” I asked.

“The _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ have passed through the Dardanelles!”

He was waving the wireless message with all the enthusiasm of a college
boy whose football team has won a victory.

Then, momentarily checking his enthusiasm, he came up to me solemnly,
humorously shook his forefinger, lifted his eyebrows, and said, “Of
course, you understand that we have sold those ships to Turkey!

“And Admiral Souchon,” he added with another wink, “will enter the
Sultan’s service!”

Wangenheim had more than patriotic reasons for this exultation; the
arrival of these ships was the greatest day in his diplomatic career. It
was really the first diplomatic victory which Germany had won. For years
the chancellorship of the empire had been Wangenheim’s laudable
ambition, and he behaved now like a man who saw his prize within his
grasp. The voyage of the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ was his personal
triumph; he had arranged with the Turkish Cabinet for their passage
through the Dardanelles, and he had directed their movements by wireless
in the Mediterranean. By safely getting the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_
into Constantinople, Wangenheim had definitely clinched Turkey as
Germany’s ally. All his intrigues and plottings for three years had now
finally succeeded.

I doubt if any two ships have exercised a greater influence upon history
than these two German cruisers. Few of us at that time realized their
great importance, but subsequent developments have fully justified
Wangenheim’s exuberant satisfaction. The _Goeben_ was a powerful battle
cruiser of recent construction; the _Breslau_ was not so large a ship,
but she, like the _Goeben_, had the excessive speed that made her
extremely serviceable in those waters. These ships had spent the few
months preceding the war cruising in the Mediterranean, and when the
declaration finally came they were taking on supplies at Messina. I have
always regarded it as more than a coincidence that these two vessels,
both of them having a greater speed than any French or English ships in
the Mediterranean, should have been lying not far from Turkey when war
broke out. The selection of the _Goeben_ was particularly fortunate, as
she had twice before visited Constantinople and her officers and men
knew the Dardanelles perfectly. The

[Illustration: THE SULTAN, MOHAMMED V, GOING TO HIS REGULAR FRIDAY
PRAYERS]

[Illustration: TALAAT AND ENVER AT A MILITARY REVIEW

Observing the transformation worked in the Turkish army by its German
drill-masters. Talaat is the huge, broad-shouldered man at the right;
Enver is the smaller figure to the left]

behaviour of these crews, when the news of war was received, indicated
the spirit with which the German navy began hostilities; the men broke
into singing and shouting, lifted their Admiral upon their shoulders,
and held a real German jollification. It is said that Admiral Souchon
preserved, as a touching souvenir of this occasion, his white uniform
bearing the finger prints of his grimy sailors!

For all their joy at the prospect of battle, the situation of these
ships was still a precarious one. They formed no match for the large
British and French naval forces which were roaming through the
Mediterranean. The _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ were far from their native
bases; with the coaling problem such an acute one, and with England in
possession of all important stations, where could they flee for safety?
Several Italian destroyers were circling around the German ships at
Messina, enforcing neutrality and occasionally reminding them that they
could remain in port only twenty-four hours. England had ships stationed
at the Gulf of Otranto, the head of the Adriatic, to cut them off in
case they sought to escape into the Austrian port of Pola. The British
navy also stood guard at Gibraltar and Suez, the only other exits that
apparently offered the possibility of escape. There was only one other
place in which the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ might find a safe and
friendly reception. That was Constantinople. Apparently the British navy
dismissed this as an impossibility. At that time, early in August,
international law had not entirely disappeared as the guiding conduct of
nations. Turkey was then a neutral country, and, despite the many
evidences of German domination, she seemed likely to maintain her
neutrality. The Treaty of Paris, which was signed in 1856, as well as
the Treaty of London, signed in 1871, provided that war ships should not
use the Dardanelles except by the special permission of the Sultan,
which could be granted only in times of peace. In practice the
government had seldom given this permission except for ceremonial
occasions. Under the existing conditions it would have amounted
virtually to an unfriendly act for the Sultan to have removed the ban
against war vessels in the Dardanelles, and to permit the _Goeben_ and
the _Breslau_ to remain in Turkish waters for more than twenty-four
hours would have been nothing less than a declaration of war. It is
perhaps not surprising that the British, in the early days of August,
1914, when Germany had not completely made clear her official opinion
that “international law had ceased to exist,” regarded these treaty
stipulations as barring the German ships from the Dardanelles and
Constantinople. Relying upon the sanctity of these international
regulations, the British navy had shut off every point through which
these German ships could have escaped to safety--except the entrance to
the Dardanelles. Had England, immediately on the declaration of war,
rushed a powerful squadron to this vital spot, how different the history
of the last three years might have been!

“His Majesty expects the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ to succeed in
breaking through!” Such was the wireless that reached these vessels at
Messina at five o’clock on the evening of August 4th. The twenty-four
hours’ stay permitted by the Italian Government had nearly expired.
Outside, in the Strait of Otranto, lay the force of British battle
cruisers, sending false radio messages to the Germans, instructing them
to rush for Pola. With bands playing and flags flying, the officers and
crews having had their spirits fired by oratory and drink, the two
vessels started at full speed toward the awaiting British fleet. The
little _Gloucester_, a scout boat, kept in touch, wiring constantly the
German movements to the main squadron. Suddenly, when off Cape
Spartivento, the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ let off into the atmosphere
all the discordant vibrations which their wireless could command,
jamming the air with such a hullabaloo that the _Gloucester_ was unable
to send any intelligible messages. Then the German cruisers turned
southward and made for the Ægean Sea. The plucky little _Gloucester_
kept close on their heels, and, as my daughter had related, once had
even audaciously offered battle. A few hours behind the British squadron
pursued, but uselessly, for the German ships, though far less powerful
in battle, were much speedier. Even then the British admiral probably
thought that he had spoiled the German plans. The German ships might get
first to the Dardanelles, but at that point stood international law
across the path, barring the entrance.

Meanwhile Wangenheim had accomplished his great diplomatic success. From
the _Corcovado_ wireless station in the Bosphorus he was sending the
most agreeable news to Admiral Souchon. He was telling him to hoist the
Turkish flag when he reached the Strait, for Admiral Souchon’s cruisers
had suddenly become parts of the Turkish navy, and, therefore, the usual
international prohibitions did not apply. These cruisers were no longer
the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_, for, like an oriental magician,
Wangenheim had suddenly changed them into the _Sultan Selim_ and the
_Medilli_. The fact was that the German Ambassador had cleverly taken
advantage of the existing situation to manufacture a “sale.” As I have
already told, Turkey had two dreadnaughts under construction in England
when the war broke out. These ships were not exclusively governmental
enterprises; their purchase represented what, on the surface, appeared
to be a popular enthusiasm of the Turkish people. They were to be the
agencies through which Turkey was to attack Greece and win back the
islands of the Ægean, and the Turkish people had raised the money to
build them by a so-called popular subscription. Agents had gone from
house to house, painfully collecting these small sums of money; there
had been entertainments and fairs, and, in their eagerness for the
cause, Turkish women had sold their hair for the benefit of the common
fund. These two vessels thus represented a spectacular outburst of
patriotism that was unusual in Turkey, so unusual, indeed, that many
detected signs that the Government had stimulated it. At the very moment
when the war began, Turkey had made her last payment to the English
shipyards and the Turkish crews had arrived in England prepared to take
the finished vessels home. Then, a few days before the time set to
deliver them, the British Government stepped in and commandeered these
dreadnaughts for the British navy.

There is not the slightest question that England had not only a legal
but a moral right to do this; there is also no question that her action
was a proper one, and that, had she been dealing with almost any other
nation, such a proceeding would not have aroused any resentment. But the
Turkish people cared nothing for distinctions of this sort; all they
saw was that they had two ships in England, which they had greatly
strained their resources to purchase, and that England had now stepped
in and taken them. Even without external pressure they would have
resented the act, but external pressure was exerted in plenty. The
transaction gave Wangenheim the greatest opportunity of his life.
Violent attacks upon England, all emanating from the German Embassy,
began to fill the Turkish press. Wangenheim was constantly discoursing
to the Turkish leaders on English perfidy and he now suggested that
Germany, Turkey’s good friend, was prepared to make compensation for
England’s “unlawful” seizure. He suggested that Turkey go through the
form of “purchasing” the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_, which were then
wandering around the Mediterranean, perhaps in anticipation of this very
contingency, and incorporate them in the Turkish navy in place of the
appropriated ships in England. The very day that these vessels passed
through the Dardanelles, the _Ikdam_, a Turkish newspaper published in
Constantinople, had a triumphant account of this “sale,” with big
headlines calling it a “great success for the Imperial Government.”

Thus Wangenheim’s manœuvre accomplished two purposes: it placed
Germany before the populace as Turkey’s friend, and it also provided a
subterfuge for getting the ships through the Dardanelles, and enabling
them to remain in Turkish waters. All this beguiled the more ignorant of
the Turkish people, and gave the Cabinet a plausible ground for meeting
the objection of Entente diplomats, but it did not deceive any
intelligent person. The _Goeben_ and _Breslau_ might change their names,
and the German sailors might adorn themselves with Turkish fezzes, but
we all knew from the beginning that this sale was a sham. Those who
understood the financial condition of Turkey could only be amused at the
idea that she could purchase these modern vessels. Moreover, the ships
were never incorporated in the Turkish navy; on the contrary, what
really happened was that the Turkish navy was annexed to these German
ships. A handful of Turkish sailors were placed on board at one time for
appearance sake, but their German officers and German crews still
retained active charge. Wangenheim, in his talks with me, never made any
secret of the fact that the ships still remained German property. “I
never expected to have such big checks to sign,” he remarked one day,
referring to his expenditures on the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_. He
always called them “our” ships. Even Talaat told me in so many words
that the cruisers did not belong to Turkey.

“The Germans say they belong to the Turks,” he remarked, with his
characteristic laugh. “At any rate, it’s very comforting for us to have
them here. After the war, if the Germans win, they will forget all about
it and leave the ships to us. If the Germans lose, they won’t be able to
take them away from us!”

The German Government made no real pretension that the sale had been
_bona fide_; at least when the Greek Minister at Berlin protested
against the transaction as unfriendly to Greece--naïvely forgetting the
American ships which Greece had recently purchased--the German officials
soothed him by admitting, _sotto voce_, that the ownership still
remained with Germany. Yet when the Entente ambassadors constantly
protested against the presence of the German vessels, the Turkish
officials blandly kept up the pretence that they were integral parts of
the Turkish navy!

The German officers and crews greatly enjoyed this farcical pretence
that the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ were Turkish ships. They took
delight in putting on Turkish fezzes, thereby presenting to the world
conclusive evidence that these loyal sailors of the Kaiser were now
parts of the Sultan’s navy. One day the _Goeben_ sailed up the
Bosphorus, halted in front of the Russian Embassy, and dropped anchor.
Then the officers and men lined the deck in full view of the enemy
embassy. All solemnly removed their Turkish fezzes and put on German
caps. The band played “Deutschland über Alles,” the “Watch on the
Rhine,” and other German songs, the German sailors singing loudly to the
accompaniment. When they had spent an hour or more serenading the
Russian Ambassador, the officers and crews removed their German caps and
again put on their Turkish fezzes. The _Goeben_ then picked up her
anchor and started southward for her station, leaving in the ears of the
Russian diplomat the gradually dying strains of German war songs as the
cruiser disappeared down stream.

I have often speculated on what would have happened if the English
battle cruisers, which pursued the _Breslau_ and the _Goeben_ up to the
mouth of the Dardanelles, had not been too gentlemanly to violate
international law. Suppose that they had entered the Strait, attacked
the German cruisers in the Marmora, and sunk them. They could have done
this, and, knowing all that we know now, such an action would have been
justified. Not improbably the destruction would have kept Turkey out of
the war. For the arrival of these cruisers made it inevitable that
Turkey, when the proper moment came, should join her forces with
Germany. With them the Turkish navy became stronger than the Russian
Black Sea Fleet and thus made it certain that Russia could make no
attack on Constantinople. The _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_, therefore,
practically gave the Ottoman and German naval forces control of the
Black Sea. Moreover, these two ships could easily dominate
Constantinople, and thus they furnished the means by which the German
navy, if the occasion should arise, could terrorize the Turks. I am
convinced that, when the judicious historian reviews this war and its
consequences, he will say that the passage of the Strait by these German
ships made it inevitable that Turkey should join Germany at the moment
that Germany desired her assistance, and that it likewise sealed the
doom of the Turkish Empire. There were men in the Turkish Cabinet who
perceived this, even then. The story was told in Constantinople--though
I do not vouch for it as authentic history--that the cabinet meeting at
which this momentous decision had been made had not been altogether
harmonious. The Grand Vizier and Djemal, it was said, objected to the
fictitious “sale,” and demanded that it should not be completed. When
the discussion had reached its height Enver, who was playing Germany’s
game, announced that he had already practically completed the
transaction. In the silence that followed his statement this young
Napoleon pulled out his pistol and laid it on the table.

“If any one here wishes to question this purchase,” he said quietly and
icily, “I am ready to meet him.”

A few weeks after the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ had

[Illustration: BARON VON WANGENHEIM, GERMAN AMBASSADOR TO TURKEY

     He was personally selected by the Kaiser to bring Turkey into line
     with Germany and transform that country into an ally of Germany in
     the forthcoming war--a task at which he succeeded. Wangenheim
     represented German diplomacy in its most ruthless and most
     shameless aspects. He believed with Bismarck that a patriotic
     German must stand ready to sacrifice for Kaiser and Fatherland not
     only his life, but his honour as well. With wonderful skill he
     manipulated the desperate adventurers who controlled Turkey in 1914
     into instruments of Germany.
]

[Illustration: DJEMAL PASHA, MINISTER OF MARINE

     In 1914 Djemal headed the Police Department; it was his duty to run
     down citizens who were opposing the political gang then controlling
     Turkey. Such opponents were commonly assassinated or judicially
     murdered. Afterward Djemal was Minister of Marine, and as such
     violently protested against the sale of American warships to
     Greece. Then he was sent to Palestine as Commander of the Fourth
     Army Corps, where he distinguished himself as leader in the
     wholesale persecutions of the non-Moslem population
]

taken up permanent headquarters in the Bosphorus, Djavid Bey, Minister
of Finance, happened to meet a distinguished Belgian jurist, then in
Constantinople.

“I have terrible news for you,” said the sympathetic Turkish statesman.
“The Germans have captured Brussels.”

The Belgian, a huge figure, more than six feet high, put his arm
soothingly upon the shoulder of the diminutive Turk.

“I have even more terrible news for you,” he said, pointing out to the
stream where the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ lay anchored. “The Germans
have captured Turkey.”



CHAPTER VI

WANGENHEIM TELLS THE AMERICAN AMBASSADOR HOW THE KAISER STARTED THE WAR


But there was one quarter in which this transaction produced no
appreciable gloom. That was the German Embassy. This great “success”
fairly intoxicated the impressionable Wangenheim, and other happenings
now aroused his _furor Teutonicus_ to a fever heat. The _Goeben_ and the
_Breslau_ arrived almost at the same time that the Germans captured
Liége, Namur, and other Belgian towns. And now followed the German sweep
into France and the apparently triumphant rush for Paris. In all these
happenings Wangenheim, like the militant Prussian that he was, saw the
fulfilment of a forty-years’ dream. We were all still living in the
summer embassies along the Bosphorus. Germany had a beautiful park,
which the Sultan had personally presented to the Kaiser’s government;
yet for some reason Wangenheim did not seem to enjoy his headquarters
during these summer days. A little guard house stood directly in front
of his embassy, on the street, within twenty feet of the rushing
Bosphorus, and in front of this was a stone bench. This bench was
properly a resting place for the guard, but Wangenheim seemed to have a
strong liking for it. I shall always keep in my mind the figure of this
German diplomat, in those exciting days before the Marne, sitting out on
this little bench, now and then jumping up for a stroll back and forth
in front of his house. Everybody passing from Constantinople to the
northern suburbs had to pass along this road, and even the Russian and
French diplomats frequently went by, stiffly ignoring, of course, the
triumphant ambassadorial figure on his stone bench. I sometimes think
that Wangenheim sat there for the express purpose of puffing his cigar
smoke in their direction. It all reminded me of the scene in Schiller’s
Wilhelm Tell, where Tell sits in the mountain pass, with his bow and
arrow at his side, waiting for his intended victim, Gessler, to go by:

    “Here through this deep defile he needs must pass;
     There leads no other road to Küssnacht.”

Wangenheim would also buttonhole his friends, or those whom he regarded
as his friends, and have his little jollifications over German
victories. I noticed that he stationed himself there only when the
German armies were winning; if news came of a reverse, Wangenheim was
utterly invisible. This led me to remark that he reminded me of a toy
weather prophet, which is always outside the box when the weather is
fine but which retires within when storms are gathering. Wangenheim
appreciated my little joke as keenly as the rest of the diplomatic set.

In those early days, however, the weather for the German Ambassador was
distinctly favourable. The good fortune of the German armies so excited
him that he was sometimes led into indiscretions, and his exuberance one
day caused him to tell me certain facts which, I think, will always have
great historical value. He disclosed precisely how and when Germany had
precipitated this war. To-day his revelation of this secret looks like
a most monstrous indiscretion, but we must remember Wangenheim’s state
of mind at the time. The whole world then believed that Paris was doomed
and Wangenheim reflected this attitude in his frequent declarations that
the war would be over in two or three months. The whole German
enterprise was evidently progressing according to programme.

I have already mentioned that the German Ambassador had left for Berlin
soon after the assassination of the Grand Duke, and he now revealed the
cause of his sudden disappearance. The Kaiser, he told me, had summoned
him to Berlin for an imperial conference. This meeting took place at
Potsdam on July 5th. The Kaiser presided and nearly all the important
ambassadors attended. Wangenheim himself was summoned to give assurance
about Turkey and enlighten his associates generally on the situation in
Constantinople, which was then regarded as almost the pivotal point in
the impending war. In telling me who attended this conference Wangenheim
used no names, though he specifically said that among them were--the
facts are so important that I quote his exact words in the German which
he used--”_die Häupter des Generalstabs und der Marine_”--(The heads of
the general staff and of the navy) by which I have assumed that he meant
Von Moltke and Von Tirpitz. The great bankers, railroad directors, and
the captains of German industry, all of whom were as necessary to German
war preparations as the army itself, also attended.

Wangenheim now told me that the Kaiser solemnly put the question to each
man in turn: “Are you ready for war?” All replied “yes” except the
financiers. They said that they must have two weeks to sell their
foreign securities and to make loans. At that time few people had looked
upon the Sarajevo tragedy as something that would inevitably lead to
war. This conference, Wangenheim told me, took all precautions that no
such suspicion should be aroused. It decided to give the bankers time to
readjust their finances for the coming war, and then the several members
went quietly back to their work or started on vacations. The Kaiser went
to Norway on his yacht, Von Bethmann-Hollweg left for a rest, and
Wangenheim returned to Constantinople.

In telling me about this conference Wangenheim, of course, admitted that
Germany had precipitated the war. I think that he was rather proud of
the whole performance, proud that Germany had gone about the matter in
so methodical and far-seeing a way, and especially proud that he himself
had been invited to participate in so epoch making a gathering. I have
often wondered why he revealed to me so momentous a secret, and I think
that perhaps the real reason was his excessive vanity--his desire to
show me how close he stood to the inner counsels of his emperor and the
part that he had played in bringing on this conflict. Whatever the
motive, this indiscretion certainly had the effect of showing me who
were really the guilty parties in this monstrous crime. The several
blue, red, and yellow books which flooded Europe during the few months
following the outbreak, and the hundreds of documents which were issued
by German propagandists attempting to establish Germany’s innocence,
have never made the slightest impression on me. For my conclusions as to
the responsibility are not based on suspicions or belief or the study of
circumstantial data. I do not have to reason or argue about the matter.
I know. The conspiracy that has caused this greatest of human tragedies
was hatched by the Kaiser and his imperial crew at this Potsdam
conference of July 5, 1914. One of the chief participants, flushed with
his triumph at the apparent success of the plot, told me the details
with his own mouth. Whenever I hear people arguing about the
responsibility for this war or read the clumsy and lying excuses put
forth by Germany, I simply recall the burly figure of Wangenheim as he
appeared that August afternoon, puffing away at a huge black cigar, and
giving me his account of this historic meeting. Why waste any time
discussing the matter after that?

This imperial conference took place July 5th and the Serbian ultimatum
was sent on July 22d. That is just about the two weeks’ interval which
the financiers had demanded to complete their plans. All the great stock
exchanges of the world show that the German bankers profitably used this
interval. Their records disclose that stocks were being sold in large
quantities and that prices declined rapidly. At that time the markets
were somewhat puzzled at this movement but Wangenheim’s explanation
clears up any doubts that may still remain. Germany was changing her
securities into cash for war purposes. If any one wishes to verify
Wangenheim, I would suggest that he examine the quotations of the New
York stock market for these two historic weeks. He will find that there
were astonishing slumps in prices, especially on the stocks that had an
international market. Between July 5th and July 22d, Union Pacific
dropped from 155½ to 127½, Baltimore and Ohio from 91½ to 81, United
States Steel from 61 to 50½, Canadian Pacific from 194 to 185½, and
Northern Pacific from 111⅜ to 108. At that time the high
protectionists were blaming the Simmons-Underwood tariff act as
responsible for this fall in values, while other critics of the
Administration attributed it to the Federal Reserve Act--which had not
yet been put into effect. How little the Wall Street brokers and the
financial experts realized that an imperial conference, which had been
held in Potsdam and presided over by the Kaiser, was the real force that
was then depressing the market!

Wangenheim not only gave me the details of this Potsdam conference, but
he disclosed the same secret to the Marquis Garroni, the Italian
Ambassador at Constantinople. Italy was at that time technically
Germany’s ally.

The Austrian Ambassador, the Marquis Pallavicini, also practically
admitted that the Central Powers had anticipated the war. On August
18th, Francis Joseph’s birthday, I made the usual ambassadorial visit of
congratulation. Quite naturally the conversation turned upon the
Emperor, who had that day passed his 84th year. Pallavicini spoke about
him with the utmost pride and veneration. He told me how keen-minded and
clear-headed the aged emperor was, how he had the most complete
understanding of international affairs, and how he gave everything his
personal supervision. To illustrate the Austrian Kaiser’s grasp of
public events, Pallavicini instanced the present war. The previous May,
Pallavicini had had an audience with Francis Joseph in Vienna. At that
time, Pallavicini now told me, the Emperor had said that a European war
was unavoidable. The Central Powers would not accept the Treaty of
Bucharest as a settlement of the Balkan question, and only a general
war, the Emperor had told Pallavicini, could ever settle that problem.
The Treaty of Bucharest, I may recall, was the settlement that ended the
second Balkan war. This divided the European dominions of Turkey,
excepting Constantinople and a small piece of adjoining territory, among
the Balkan nations, chiefly Serbia and Greece. That treaty strengthened
Serbia greatly; so much did it increase Serbia’s resources, indeed, that
Austria feared that it had laid the beginning of a new European state,
which might grow sufficiently strong to resist her own plans of
aggrandizement. Austria held a large Serbian population under her yoke
in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and these Serbians desired, above everything
else, annexation to their own country. Moreover, the Pan-German plans in
the East necessitated the destruction of Serbia, the state which, so
long as it stood intact, blocked the Germanic road to the Orient. It had
been the Austro-German expectation that the Balkan War would destroy
Serbia as a nation--that Turkey would simply annihilate King Peter’s
forces. This was precisely what the Germanic plans demanded, and for
this reason Austria and Germany did nothing to prevent the Balkan wars.
But the result was exactly the reverse, for out of the conflict arose a
stronger Serbia than ever, standing firm like a breakwater against the
Germanic flood.

Most historians agree that the Treaty of Bucharest made inevitable this
war. I have the Marquis Pallavicini’s evidence that this was likewise
the opinion of Francis Joseph himself. The audience at which the Emperor
made this statement was held in May, more than a month before the
assassination of the Grand Duke. Clearly, therefore, we have the
Austrian Emperor’s assurances that the war would have come irrespective
of the assassination at Sarajevo. It is quite apparent that this crime
merely served as the convenient pretext for the war upon which the
Central Empires had already decided.



CHAPTER VII

GERMANY’S PLANS FOR NEW TERRITORIES, COALING STATIONS, AND INDEMNITIES


All through that eventful August and September Wangenheim continued his
almost irresponsible behaviour--now blandly boastful, now depressed,
always nervous and high strung, ingratiating to an American like myself,
spiteful and petty toward the representatives of the enemy powers. He
was always displaying his anxiety and impatience by sitting on the
bench, that he might be within two or three minutes’ quicker access to
the wireless communications that were sent him from Berlin via the
_Corcovado_. He would never miss an opportunity to spread the news of
victories; several times he adopted the unusual course of coming to my
house unannounced, to tell me of the latest developments, and to read me
extracts from messages which he had just received. He was always
apparently frank, direct, and even indiscreet. I remember his great
distress the day that England declared war. Wangenheim had always
professed a great admiration for England and, especially, for America.
“There are only three great countries,” he would say over and over
again, “Germany, England, and the United States. We three should get
together; then we could rule the world.” This enthusiasm for the British
Empire now suddenly cooled when that power decided to defend her treaty
pledges and declared war. Wangenheim had said that the conflict would
be a short one and that Sedan Day would be celebrated in Paris. But on
August 5th, I called at his embassy and found him more than usually
agitated and serious. Baroness Wangenheim, a tall, handsome woman, was
sitting in the room reading her mother’s memoirs of the war of 1870.
Both regarded the news from England as almost a personal grievance, and
what impressed me most was Wangenheim’s utter failure to understand
England’s motives. “It’s mighty poor politics on her part!” he exclaimed
over and over again. His attitude was precisely the same as that of
Bethmann-Hollweg with the “scrap of paper.”

I was out for a stroll on August 26th, and happened to meet the German
Ambassador. He began to talk as usual about the German victories in
France, repeating, as was now his habit, his prophecy that the German
armies would be in Paris within a week. The deciding factor in this war,
he added, would be the Krupp artillery. “And remember that this time,”
he said, “we are making war. And we shall make it _rücksichtslos_
(without any consideration). We shall not be hampered as we were in
1870. Then Queen Victoria, the Czar, and Francis Joseph interfered and
persuaded us to spare Paris. But there is no one to interfere now. We
shall move to Berlin all the Parisian art treasures that belong to the
state, just as Napoleon took Italian art works to France.”

It is quite evident that the battle of the Marne saved Paris from the
fate of Louvain.

So confidently did Wangenheim expect an immediate victory that he began
to discuss the terms of peace. Germany would demand of France, he said,
after defeating her armies, that she completely demobilize and pay an
indemnity. “France now,” said Wangenheim, “can settle for
$5,000,000,000; but if she persists in continuing the war, she will have
to pay $20,000,000,000.”

He told me that Germany would demand harbours and coaling stations
“everywhere.” At that time, judging from Wangenheim’s statements,
Germany was not looking so much for new territory as for great
commercial advantages. She was determined to be the great merchant
nation, and for this she must have free harbours, the Bagdad railroad,
and extensive rights in South America and Africa. Wangenheim said that
Germany did not desire any more territory in which the populations did
not speak German, for they had had all of that kind of trouble they
wanted in Alsace-Lorraine, Poland, and other non-German countries. This
statement certainly sounds interesting now in view of recent happenings
in Russia. He did not mention England in speaking of Germany’s demand
for coaling stations and harbours; he must have had England in mind,
however, for what other nation could have given them to Germany
“everywhere?”

All these conversations were as illuminating to me as Wangenheim’s
revelation of the conference of July 5th. That episode clearly proved
that Germany had consciously started the war, while these grandiose
schemes, as outlined by this very able but somewhat talkative
ambassador, showed the reasons that had impelled her in this great
enterprise. Wangenheim gave me a complete picture of the German Empire
embarking on a great buccaneering expedition, in which the spoils of
success were to be the accumulated riches of her neighbours and the
world position which their skill and industry had built up through the
centuries.

If England attempted to starve Germany, said Wangenheim, Germany’s
response would be a simple one: she would starve France. At that time,
we must remember, Germany expected to have Paris within a week, and she
believed that this would ultimately give her control of the whole
country. It was evidently the German plan, as understood by Wangenheim,
to hold this nation as a pawn for England’s behaviour, a kind of hostage
on a gigantic scale. In that case, should England gain any military
advantage, Germany would attempt to counter-attack by torturing the
whole French people. At that moment German soldiers were murdering
innocent Belgians in return for the alleged misbehaviour of other
Belgians, and evidently Germany had planned to apply this principle to
whole nations as well as to individuals.

All through this and other talks, Wangenheim showed the greatest
animosity to Russia.

“We’ve got our foot on Russia’s corn,” he said, “and we propose to keep
it there.”

By this he must have meant that Germany had sent the _Goeben_ and the
_Breslau_ through the Dardanelles and that by that master-stroke she
controlled Constantinople. The old Byzantine capital, said Wangenheim,
was the prize which a victorious Russia would demand, and her lack of an
all-the-year-round port in warm waters was Russia’s tender spot--her
“corn.” At this time Wangenheim boasted that Germany had 174 German
gunners at the Dardanelles, that the strait could be closed in less
than thirty minutes, and that Souchon, the German admiral, had informed
him that the strait was impregnable. “We shall not close the
Dardanelles, however,” he said, “unless England attacks them.”

At that time England, although she had declared war on Germany, had
played no conspicuous part in the military operations; her “contemptible
little army” was making its heroic retreat from Mons. Wangenheim
entirely discounted England as an enemy. It was the German intention, he
said, to place their big guns at Calais, and throw their shells across
the English Channel to the English coast towns; that Germany would not
have Calais within the next ten days did not occur to him as a
possibility. In this and other conversations at about the same time
Wangenheim laughed at the idea that England could create a large
independent army. “The idea is preposterous,” he said. “It takes
generations of militarism to produce anything like the German army. We
have been building it up for two hundred years. It takes thirty years of
constant training to produce such generals as we have. Our army will
always maintain its organization. We have 500,000 recruits reaching
military age every year and we cannot possibly lose that number
annually, so that our army will be kept intact.”

A few weeks later civilization was outraged by the German bombardment of
English coast towns, such as Scarborough and Hartlepool. This was no
sudden German inspiration, but part of their carefully considered plans.
Wangenheim told me, on September 6, 1914, that Germany intended to
bombard all English harbours, so as to stop the food supply. It is also
apparent that German ruthlessness against American sea trade was no
sudden decision of Von Tirpitz, for, on this same date, the German
Ambassador to Constantinople warned me that it would be very dangerous
for the United States to send ships to England!



CHAPTER VIII

A CLASSIC INSTANCE OF GERMAN PROPAGANDA


In those August and September days Germany had no intention of
precipitating Turkey immediately into the war. As I then had a deep
interest in the welfare of the Turkish people and in maintaining peace,
I telegraphed Washington asking if I might use my influence to keep
Turkey neutral. I received a reply that I might do this provided that I
made my representations unofficially and purely upon humanitarian
grounds. As the English and the French ambassadors were exerting all
their efforts to keep Turkey out of the war, I knew that my intervention
in the same interest would not displease the British Government.
Germany, however, might regard any interference on my part as an
unneutral act, and I asked Wangenheim if there would be any objection
from that source.

His reply somewhat surprised me, though I saw through it soon afterward.
“Not at all,” he said. “Germany desires, above all, that Turkey shall
remain neutral.”

Undoubtedly Turkey’s policy at that moment precisely fitted in with
German plans. Wangenheim was steadily increasing his ascendancy over the
Turkish Cabinet, and Turkey was then pursuing the course that best
served the German aims. Her policy was keeping the Entente on
tenterhooks; it never knew from day to day where Turkey stood, whether
she would remain neutral or enter the war on Germany’s side. Because
Turkey’s attitude was so uncertain, Russia was compelled to keep large
forces in the Caucasus, England was obliged to strengthen her forces in
Egypt and India, and to maintain a considerable fleet at the mouth of
the Dardanelles. All this worked in beautifully with Germany’s plans,
for these detached forces just so much weakened England and Russia on
the European battle front. I am now speaking of the period just before
the Marne, when Germany expected to defeat France and Russia with the
aid of her ally, Austria, and thus obtain a victory that would have
enabled her to dictate the future of Europe. Should Turkey at that time
be actually engaged in military operations, she could do no more toward
bringing about this victory than she was doing now, by keeping
considerable Russian and English forces away from the most important
fronts. But should Germany win this easy victory with Turkey’s aid, she
might find her new ally an embarrassment. Turkey would certainly demand
compensation and she would not be particularly modest in her demands,
which most likely would include the full control of Egypt and perhaps
the return of Balkan territories. Such readjustments would have
interfered with the Kaiser’s plans. Thus he had no interest in having
Turkey as an active ally, except in the event that he did not speedily
win his anticipated triumph. But if Russia should make great progress
against Austria, then Turkey’s active alliance would have great value,
especially if her entry should be so timed as to bring in Bulgaria and
Rumania as allies. Meanwhile, Wangenheim was playing a waiting game,
making Turkey a potential German ally, strengthening her army and her
navy, and preparing to use her, whenever the moment arrived for using
her to the best advantage. If Germany could not win the war without
Turkey’s aid, Germany was prepared to take her in as an ally; if she
could win without Turkey, then she would not have to pay the Turk for
his coöperation. Meanwhile, the sensible course was to keep her prepared
in case the Turkish forces became essential to German success.

The duel that now took place between Germany and the Entente for
Turkey’s favour was a most unequal one. The fact was that Germany had
won the victory when she smuggled the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ into
the Sea of Marmora. The English, French, and Russian ambassadors well
understood this, and they knew that they could not make Turkey an active
ally of the Entente; they probably had no desire to do so, but they did
hope that they might keep her neutral. To this end they now directed all
their efforts. “You have had enough of war,” they would tell Talaat and
Enver. “You have fought two wars in the last four years; you will ruin
your country absolutely if you get involved in this one.” The Entente
had only one consideration to offer Turkey for her neutrality, and this
was an offer to guarantee the integrity of the Ottoman Empire. The
Entente ambassadors showed their great desire to keep Turkey out of the
war by their disinclination to press to the limit their case against the
_Breslau_ and the _Goeben_. It is true that they repeatedly protested
against the continued presence of these ships, but every time the
Turkish officials maintained that they were Turkish vessels.

“If that is so,” Sir Louis Mallet would urge, and his argument was
unassailable, “why don’t you remove the German officers and crews?”
That was the intention, the Grand Vizier would answer; the Turkish crews
that had been sent to man the ships which had been built in England, he
would say, were returning to Turkey and they would be put on board the
_Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ as soon as they reached Constantinople. But
days and weeks went by; these crews came home, and still Germany manned
and officered the cruisers. These backings and fillings naturally did
not deceive the British and French foreign offices. The presence of the
_Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ was a standing _casus belli_, but the Entente
ambassadors did not demand their passports, for such an act would have
precipitated the very crisis which they were seeking to delay, and, if
possible, to avoid--Turkey’s entrance as Germany’s ally. Unhappily the
Entente’s promise to guarantee Turkey’s integrity did not win Turkey to
their side.

“They promised that we should not be dismembered after the Balkan wars,”
Talaat would tell me, “and see what happened to European Turkey then.”

Wangenheim constantly harped upon this fact. “You can’t trust anything
they say,” he would tell Talaat and Enver, “didn’t they all go back on
you a year ago?” And then with great cleverness he would play upon the
only emotion which really actuates the Turk. The descendants of Osman
hardly resemble any people I have ever known. They do not hate, they do
not love; they have no lasting animosities or affections. They only
fear. And naturally they attribute to others the motives which regulate
their own conduct. “How stupid you are,” Wangenheim would tell Talaat
and Enver, discussing the English attitude. “Don’t you see why the
English want you to keep out? It is because they fear you. Don’t you
see that, with the help of Germany, you have again become a great
military power? No wonder England doesn’t want to fight you!” He dinned
this so continually in their ears that they finally believed it, for
this argument not only completely explained to them the attitude of the
Entente, but it flattered Turkish pride.

Whatever may have been the attitude of Enver and Talaat, I think that
England and France were more popular with all classes in Turkey than was
Germany. The Sultan was opposed to war; the heir apparent, Youssouff
Isseddin, was openly pro-Ally; the Grand Vizier, Saïd Halim, favoured
England rather than Germany; Djemal, the third member of the ruling
triumvirate, had the reputation of being a Francophile--he had recently
returned from Paris, where the reception he had received had greatly
flattered him; a majority of the Cabinet had no enthusiasm for Germany;
and public opinion, so far as public opinion existed in Turkey, regarded
England, not Germany, as Turkey’s historic friend. Wangenheim,
therefore, had much opposition to overcome, and the methods which he
took to break it down form a classic illustration of German propaganda.
He started a lavish publicity campaign against England, France, and
Russia. I have described the feelings of the Turks at losing their ships
in England. Wangenheim’s agents now filled columns of purchased space in
the newspapers with bitter attacks on England for taking over these
vessels. The whole Turkish press rapidly passed under the control of
Germany. Wangenheim purchased the _Ikdam_, one of the largest Turkish
newspapers, which immediately began to sing the praises of Germany and
to abuse the Entente. The _Osmanischer Lloyd_, published in French and
German, became an organ of the German Embassy. Although the Turkish
Constitution guaranteed a free press, a censorship was established in
the interest of the Central Powers. All Turkish editors were ordered to
write in Germany’s favour and they obeyed instructions. The _Jeune
Turc_, a pro-Entente newspaper, printed in French, was suppressed. The
Turkish papers exaggerated German victories and completely manufactured
others; they were constantly printing the news of Entente defeats, most
of them wholly imaginary. In the evening Wangenheim and Pallavicini
would show me official telegrams giving the details of military
operations, but when, in the morning, I would look in the newspapers, I
would find that this news had been twisted or falsified in Germany’s
favour. A certain Baron Oppenheim travelled all over Turkey
manufacturing public opinion against England and France. Ostensibly he
was an archæologist, while in reality he opened offices everywhere from
which issued streams of slander against the Entente. Huge maps were
pasted on walls, showing all the territory which Turkey had lost in the
course of a century. Russia was portrayed as the nation chiefly
responsible for these “robberies,” and attention was drawn to the fact
that England had now become Russia’s ally. Pictures were published,
showing the grasping powers of the Entente as rapacious animals,
snatching at poor Turkey. Enver was advertised as the “hero” who had
recovered Adrianople; Germany was pictured as Turkey’s friend; the
Kaiser suddenly became “Hadji Wilhelm,” the great protector of Islam,
and stories were even printed that he had become a convert to
Mohammedanism. The Turkish populace was informed that the Moslems of
India and of Egypt were about to revolt and throw off their English
“tyrants.” The Turkish man-on-the-street was taught to say, “_Gott
Strafe England_,” and all the time the motive power of this infamous
campaign was German money.

But Germany was doing more than poisoning the Turkish mind; she was
appropriating Turkey’s military resources. I have already described how,
in January, 1914, the Kaiser had taken over the Turkish army and
rehabilitated it in preparation for the European war. He now proceeded
to do the same thing with the Turkish navy. In August, Wangenheim
boasted to me that, “We now control both the Turkish army and navy.” At
the time the _Goeben_ and _Breslau_ arrived, an English mission, headed
by Admiral Limpus, was hard at work restoring the Turkish navy. Soon
afterward Limpus and his associates were unceremoniously dismissed; the
manner of their going was really disgraceful, for not even the most
ordinary courtesies were shown them. The English naval officers quietly
and unobservedly left Constantinople for England--all except the Admiral
himself, who had to remain longer because of his daughter’s illness.

Night after night whole carloads of Germans landed at Constantinople
from Berlin; the aggregations to the population finally amounted to
3,800 men, most of them sent to man the Turkish navy and to manufacture
ammunition. They filled the cafés every night, and they paraded the
streets of Constantinople in the small hours of the morning, howling and
singing German patriotic songs. Many of them were skilled mechanics, who
immediately went to work repairing the destroyers and other ships and
putting them in shape for war. The British firm of Armstrong & Vickers
had a splendid dock in Constantinople, and this the Germans now
appropriated. All day and night we could hear this work going on and we
could hardly sleep because of the hubbub of riveting and hammering.
Wangenheim now found another opportunity for instilling more poison into
the minds of Enver, Talaat, and Djemal. The German workers, he declared,
had found that the Turkish ships were in a desperate state of disrepair,
and for this he naturally blamed the English naval mission. He said that
England had deliberately let the Turkish navy go to decay and he
asserted that this was all a part of England’s plot to ruin Turkey!
“Look!” he would exclaim, “see what we Germans have done for the Turkish
army, and see what the English have done for your ships!” As a matter of
fact, all this was untrue, for Admiral Limpus had worked hard and
conscientiously to improve the navy and had accomplished excellent
results in that direction.

All this time the Germans were working at the Dardanelles, seeking to
strengthen the fortifications, and preparing for a possible Allied
attack. As September lengthened into October, the Sublime Porte
practically ceased to be the headquarters of the Ottoman Empire. I
really think that the most influential seat of authority at that time
was a German merchant ship, the _General_. It was moored in the Golden
Horn, at the Galata Bridge, and a permanent stairway had been built,
leading to its deck. I knew well one of the most frequent visitors to
this ship, an American who used to come to the embassy and entertain me
with stories of what was going on.

The _General_, this American now informed me, was practically a German
club or hotel. The officers of the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ and other
German officers who had been sent to command the Turkish ships ate and
slept on board. Admiral Souchon, who had brought the German cruisers to
Constantinople, presided over these gatherings. Souchon was a man of
French Huguenot extraction; he was a short, dapper, clean-cut sailor,
very energetic and alert, and to the German passion for command and
thoroughness he added much of the Gallic geniality and buoyancy.
Naturally he gave much liveliness to the evening parties on the
_General_, and the beer and champagne which were liberally dispensed on
these occasions loosened the tongues of his fellow officers. Their
conversation showed that they entertained no illusions as to who really
controlled the Turkish navy. Night after night their impatience for
action grew; they kept declaring that, if Turkey did not presently
attack the Russians, they would force her to do so. They would relate
how they had sent German ships into the Black Sea, in the hope of
provoking the Russian fleet to some action that would make war
inevitable. Toward the end of October my friend told me that hostilities
could not much longer be avoided; the Turkish fleet had been fitted for
action, everything was ready, and the impetuosity of these
_kriegslustige_ German officers could not much longer be restrained.

“They are just like a lot of boys with chips on their shoulders! They
are simply spoiling for a fight!” he said.



CHAPTER IX

GERMANY CLOSES THE DARDANELLES AND SO SEPARATES RUSSIA FROM HER ALLIES


On September 27th, Sir Louis Mallet, the British Ambassador, entered my
office in a considerably disturbed state of mind. The Khedive of Egypt
had just left me, and I began to talk to Sir Louis about Egyptian
matters.

“Let’s discuss that some other time,” he said. “I have something far
more important to tell you. They have closed the Dardanelles.”

By “they” he meant, of course, not the Turkish Government, the only
power which had the legal right to take this drastic step, but the
actual ruling powers in Turkey, the Germans. Sir Louis had good reason
for bringing me this piece of news, since this was an outrage against
the United States as well as against the Allies. He asked me to go with
him and make a joint protest. I suggested, however, that it would be
better for us to act separately and I immediately started for the house
of the Grand Vizier.

When I arrived a cabinet conference was in session, and, as I sat in the
anteroom, I could hear several voices in excited discussion. Among them
all I could distinctly distinguish the familiar tones of Talaat, Enver,
Djavid, the Minister of Finance, and other members of the Government. It
was quite plain, from all that I could overhear through the thin
partitions, that these nominal rulers of Turkey were almost as
exasperated over the closing as were Sir Louis Mallet and myself.

The Grand Vizier came out in answer to my request. He presented a
pitiable sight. He was, in title at least, the most important official
of the Turkish Government, the mouthpiece of the Sultan himself, yet now
he presented a picture of abject helplessness and fear. His face was
blanched and he was trembling from head to foot. He was so overcome by
his emotions that he could hardly speak; when I asked him whether the
news was true that the Dardanelles had been closed, he finally stammered
out that it was.

“You know this means war,” I said, and I protested as strongly as I
could in the name of the United States.

All the time that we were talking I could hear the loud tones of Talaat
and his associates in the interior apartment. The Grand Vizier excused
himself and went back into the room. He then sent out Djavid to discuss
the matter with me.

“It’s all a surprise to us,” were Djavid’s first words--this statement
being a complete admission that the Cabinet had had nothing to do with
it. I repeated that the United States would not submit to closing the
Dardanelles; Turkey was at peace, the Sultan had no legal right to shut
the strait to merchant ships except in case of war. I said that an
American ship, laden with supplies and stores for the American Embassy,
was outside at that moment waiting to come in. Djavid suggested that I
have this vessel unload her cargo at Smyrna: the Turkish Government, he
obligingly added, would pay the cost of transporting it overland to
Constantinople. This proposal, of course, was a ridiculous evasion of
the issue and I brushed it aside.

Djavid then said that the Cabinet proposed to investigate the matter;
that, in fact, they were discussing it at that moment. He told me how it
had happened. A Turkish torpedo boat had passed through the Dardanelles
and attempted to enter the Ægean. The British warships stationed outside
hailed the ship, examined it, and found that there were German sailors
on board. The English Admiral at once ordered the vessel to go back;
this, under the circumstances, he had a right to do. Weber Pasha, the
German general who was then in charge of the fortifications, did not
consult the Turks but immediately gave orders to close the strait.
Wangenheim had already boasted to me, as I have said, that the
Dardanelles could be closed in thirty minutes and the Germans now made
good his words. Down went the mines and the nets; the lights in the
lighthouses were extinguished; signals were put up, notifying all ships
that there was “no thoroughfare” and the deed, the most high-handed
which the Germans had yet committed, was done. And here I found these
Turkish statesmen, who alone had authority over this indispensable strip
of water, trembling and stammering with fear, running hither and yon
like a lot of frightened rabbits, appalled at the enormity of the German
act, yet apparently powerless to take any decisive action. I certainly
had a graphic picture of the extremities to which Teutonic bullying had
reduced the present rulers of the Turkish Empire. And at the same moment
before my mind rose the figure of the Sultan, whose signature was
essential to close legally these waters, quietly dozing at his palace,
entirely oblivious of the whole transaction.

Though Djavid informed me that the Cabinet might decide to reopen the
Dardanelles, it did not do so. This great passageway has now remained
closed for more than four years, from September 27, 1914. I saw, of
course, precisely what this action signified. That month of September
had been a disillusioning one for the Germans. The French had beaten
back the invasion and had driven the German armies to entrenchments
along the Aisne. The Russians were sweeping triumphantly through
Galicia; already they had captured Lemberg and it seemed not improbable
that they would soon cross the Carpathians into Austria-Hungary. In
those days Pallavicini, the Austrian Ambassador, was a discouraged,
lamentable figure. He confided to me his fears for the future, telling
me that the German programme of a short, decisive war had clearly failed
and that it was now quite evident that Germany could win, if she could
win at all, which was exceedingly doubtful, only after a protracted
struggle. I have described how Wangenheim, while preparing the Turkish
army and navy for any eventualities, was simply holding Turkey in his
hand, intending actively to use her forces only in case Germany failed
to crush France and Russia in the first campaign. Now that that failure
was manifest, Wangenheim was instructed to use the Turkish Empire as an
active ally. Hitherto, this nation of 20,000,000 had been a passive
partner, held back by Wangenheim until Germany had decided that it would
be necessary to pay the price of letting her into the war as a real
participant. The time had come when Germany needed the Turkish army, and
the outward sign that the situation had changed was the closing of the
Dardanelles. Thus Wangenheim had accomplished the task for which he had
been working, and in this act had fittingly crowned his achievement of
bringing in the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_. Few Americans realize, even
to-day, what an overwhelming influence this act wielded upon future
military operations. Yet the fact that the war has lasted for so many
years is explained by this closing of the Dardanelles.

For this is the element in the situation that separated Russia from her
allies, that, in less than a year, led to her defeat and collapse,
which, in turn, was the reason why the Russian revolution became
possible. The map discloses that this enormous land of Russia has just
four ways of reaching the seas. One is by way of the Baltic, and this
the German fleet had already closed. Another is Archangel, on the Arctic
Ocean, a port which is frozen over several months in the year, and which
connects with the heart of Russia only by a long, single-track railroad.
Another is the Pacific port of Vladivostok, also ice bound for three
months, which is in connection with Russia only by the thin line of the
Siberian railway, 5,000 miles long. The fourth passage was that of the
Dardanelles; in fact, this was the only practicable one. This was the
narrow gate through which the surplus products of 175,000,000 people
reached Europe, and nine tenths of all Russian exports and imports had
gone this way for years. By suddenly closing it, Germany destroyed
Russia both as an economic and a military power. By shutting off the
exports of Russian grain, she deprived Russia of the financial power
essential to successful warfare. What was perhaps even more fatal, she
prevented England and France from getting munitions to the Russian
battle front in sufficient quantity to stem the German onslaught. As
soon as the Dardanelles was closed, Russia had to fall back on Archangel
and Vladivostok for such supplies as she could get from these ports. The
cause of the military collapse of Russia in 1915 is now well known; the
soldiers simply had no ammunition with which to fight. The first half of
the year 1918 Germany spent in an unsuccessful attempt to drive a
“wedge” between the French and English armies on the western front; to
separate one ally from another and so obtain a position where she could
attack each one separately. Yet the task of undoing the Franco-Russian
treaty, and driving such a “wedge” between Russia and her western
associates, proved to have been an easy one. It was simply a matter, as
I have described, of controlling a corrupt and degenerate government,
getting possession, while she was still at peace, of her main
executives, her army, her navy, her resources, and then, at the proper
moment, ignoring the nominal rulers and closing a little strip of water
about twenty miles long and two or three wide! It did not cost a single
human life or the firing of a single gun, yet, in a twinkling, Germany
accomplished what probably three million men, opposed to a well-equipped
Russian force, could not have brought to pass. It was one of the most
dramatic military triumphs of the war, and it was all the work of German
propaganda, German penetration, and German diplomacy.

In the days following this bottling up of Russia, the Bosphorus began to
look like a harbour which has been suddenly stricken with the plague.
Hundreds of ships arrived from Russia, Rumania, and Bulgaria, loaded
with grain, lumber, and other products, only to discover that they could
go no farther. There were not docks enough to accommodate them, and
they had to swing out into the stream, drop anchor, and await
developments. The waters were a cluster of masts and smoke stacks, and
the crowded vessels became so dense that a motor boat had difficulty in
picking its way through the tangled forest. The Turks held out hopes
that they might reopen the water way, and for this reason these vessels,
constantly increasing in number, waited patiently for a month or so.
Then one by one they turned around, pointed their noses toward the Black
Sea, and lugubriously started for their home ports. In a few weeks the
Bosphorus and adjoining waters had become a desolate waste. What for
years had been one of the most animated shipping ports in the world, was
ruffled only by an occasional launch, or a tiny Turkish caïque, or now
and then a little sailing vessel. And for an accurate idea of what this
meant, from a military standpoint, we need only call to mind the Russian
battle front in the next year. There the peasants were fighting German
artillery with their unprotected bodies, having few rifles and few heavy
guns, while mountains of useless ammunition were piling up in their
distant Arctic and Pacific ports, with no railroads to take them to the
field of action.



CHAPTER X

TURKEY’S ABROGATION OF THE CAPITULATIONS--ENVER LIVING IN A PALACE, WITH
PLENTY OF MONEY AND AN IMPERIAL BRIDE


Another question, which had been under discussion for several months,
now became involved in the Turkish international situation. That was the
matter of the capitulations. These were the treaty rights which for
centuries had regulated the position of foreigners in the Turkish
Empire. Turkey had never been admitted to a complete equality with
European nations, and in reality she had never been an independent
sovereignty. The Sultan’s laws and customs differed so radically from
those of Europe and America that no non-Moslem country could think of
submitting its citizens in Turkey to them. In many matters, therefore,
the principle of ex-territoriality had always prevailed in favour of all
citizens or subjects of countries enjoying capitulatory rights. Almost
all European countries, as well as the United States, for centuries had
had their own consular courts and prisons in which they tried and
punished crimes which their nationals committed in Turkey. We all had
our schools, which were subject, not to Turkish law and protection, but
to that of the country which maintained them. Thus Robert College and
the Constantinople College for Women, those wonderful institutions which
American philanthropy has erected on the Bosphorus, as well as

[Illustration: THE MARQUIS GARRONI, ITALIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE SUBLIME
PORTE IN 1914]

[Illustration: M. TOCHEFF, BULGARIAN MINISTER AT CONSTANTINOPLE IN
1914]

[Illustration: THE AMERICAN SUMMER EMBASSY ON THE BOSPHORUS

Not far away, across the Strait, which is here only a mile wide, Darius
crossed with his Asiatic hosts nearly 2,500 years ago]

hundreds of American religious, charitable, and educational
institutions, practically stood on American territory and looked upon
the American Embassy as their guardian. Several nations had their own
post offices, as they did not care to submit their mail to the Ottoman
postal service. Turkey likewise did not have unlimited power of taxation
over foreigners. It could not even increase their customs taxes without
the consent of the foreign powers. In 1914 it could impose only 11 per
cent. in tariff dues, and was attempting to secure the right to increase
the amount to 14. We have always regarded England as the only free-trade
country, overlooking the fact that this limitation in Turkey’s customs
dues had practically made the Ottoman Empire an unwilling follower of
Cobden. Turkey was thus prohibited by the Powers from developing any
industries of her own; instead, she was forced to take large quantities
of inferior articles from Europe. Against these restrictions Turkish
statesmen had protested for years, declaring that they constituted an
insult to their pride as a nation and also interfered with their
progress. However, the agreement was a bi-lateral one, and Turkey could
not change it without the consent of all the contracting powers. Yet
certainly the present moment, when both the Entente and the Central
Powers were cultivating Turkey, served to furnish a valuable opportunity
to make the change. And so, as soon as the Germans had begun their march
toward Paris, the air was filled with reports that Turkey intended to
abrogate the capitulations. Rumour said that Germany had consented, as
part of the consideration for Turkish aid in the war, and that England
had agreed to the abrogation, as part of her payment for Turkish
neutrality. Neither of these reports was true. What was manifest,
however, was the panic which the mere suggestion of abrogation produced
on the foreign population. The idea of becoming subject to the Turkish
laws and perhaps being thrown into Turkish prisons made their flesh
creep--and with good reason.

About this time I had a long conference with Enver. He asked me to call
at his residence, as he was laid up with an infected toe, the result of
a surgical operation. I thus had an illuminating glimpse of the Minister
of War _en famille_. Certainly this humble man of the people had risen
in the world. His house, which was in one of the quietest and most
aristocratic parts of the city, was a splendid old building, very large
and very elaborate. I was ushered through a series of four or five
halls, and as I went by one door the Imperial Princess, Enver’s wife,
slightly opened it and peeked through at me. Farther on another Turkish
lady opened her door and also obtained a fleeting glimpse of the
Ambassadorial figure. I was finally escorted into a beautiful room in
which Enver lay reclining on a semi-sofa. He had on a long silk dressing
gown and his stockinged feet hung languidly over the edge of the divan.
He looked much younger than in his uniform; he was an extremely neat and
well-groomed object, with a pale, smooth face, made even more striking
by his black hair, and with delicate white hands, and long, tapering
fingers. He might easily have passed for under thirty, and, in fact, he
was not much over that age. He had at hand a violin, and a piano near by
also testified to his musical taste. The room was splendidly tapestried;
perhaps its most conspicuous feature was a daïs upon which stood a
golden chair; this was the marriage throne of Enver’s imperial wife. As
I glanced around at all this luxury, I must admit that a few
uncharitable thoughts came to mind and that I could not help pondering a
question which was then being generally asked in Constantinople. Where
did Enver get the money for this expensive establishment? He had no
fortune of his own--his parents had been wretchedly poor, and his salary
as a cabinet minister was only about $8,000. His wife had a moderate
allowance as an imperial princess, but she had no private resources.
Enver had never engaged in business, he had been a revolutionist,
military leader, and politician all his life. But here he was living at
a rate that demanded a very large income. In other ways Enver was giving
evidences of great and sudden prosperity, and already I had heard much
of his investments in real estate, which were the talk of the town.

Enver wished to discuss the capitulations. He practically said that the
Cabinet had decided on the abrogation, and he wished to know the
attitude of the United States. He added that certainly a country which
had fought for its independence as we had would sympathize with Turkey’s
attempt to shake off these shackles. We had helped Japan free herself
from similar burdens and wouldn’t we now help Turkey? Certainly Turkey
was as civilized a nation as Japan?

I answered that I thought that the United States might consent to
abandon the capitulations in so far as they were economic. It was my
opinion that Turkey should control her customs duties and be permitted
to levy the same taxes on foreigners as on her own citizens. So long as
the Turkish courts and Turkish prisons maintained their present
standards, however, we could never agree to give up the judicial
capitulations. Turkey should reform the abuses of her courts; then,
after they had established European ideas in the administration of
justice, the matter could be discussed. Enver replied that Turkey would
be willing to have mixed tribunals and to have the United States
designate some of the judges, but I suggested that, inasmuch as American
judges did not know the Turkish language or Turkish law, his scheme
involved great practical difficulties. I also told him that the American
schools and colleges were very dear to Americans, and that we would
never consent to subjecting them to Turkish jurisdiction.

Despite the protests of all the ambassadors, the Cabinet issued its
notification that the capitulations would be abrogated on October 1st.
This abrogation was all a part of the Young Turks’ plan to free
themselves from foreign tutelage and to create a new country on the
basis of “Turkey for the Turks.” It represented, as I shall show, what
was the central point of Turkish policy, not only in the empire’s
relations to foreign powers, but to her subject peoples. England’s
position on this question was about the same as our own; the British
Government would consent to the modification of the economic
restrictions, but not the others. Wangenheim was greatly disturbed, and
I think that his foreign office reprimanded him for letting the
abrogation take place, because he blandly asked me to announce that I
was the responsible person! As October 1st approached, the foreigners in
Turkey were in a high state of apprehension. The Dardanelles had been
closed, shutting them off from Europe, and now they felt that they were
to be left to the mercy of Turkish courts and Turkish prisons. Inasmuch
as it was the habit in Turkish prisons to herd the innocent with the
guilty, and to place in the same room with murderers, people who had
been charged, with minor offenses, but not convicted of them, and to
bastinado recalcitrant witnesses, the fears of the foreign residents may
well be imagined. The educational institutions were also apprehensive,
and in their interest I now appealed to Enver. He assured me that the
Turks had no hostile intention toward Americans. I replied that he
should show in unmistakable fashion that Americans would not be harmed.

“All right,” he answered. “What would you suggest?”

“Why not ostentatiously visit Robert College on October 1st, the day the
capitulations are abrogated?” I said.

The idea was rather a unique one, for in all the history of this
institution an important Turkish official had never entered its doors.
But I knew enough of the Turkish character to understand that an open,
ceremonious visit by Enver would cause a public sensation. News of it
would reach the farthest limits of the Turkish Empire, and it was
certain that the Turks would interpret it as meaning that one of the two
most powerful men in Turkey had taken this and other American
institutions under his patronage. Such a visit would exercise a greater
protective influence over American colleges and schools in Turkey than
an army corps. I was therefore greatly pleased when Enver promptly
adopted my suggestion.

On the day that the capitulations were abrogated, Enver appeared at the
American Embassy with two autos, one for himself and me, and the other
for his adjutants, all of whom were dressed in full uniform. I was
pleased that Enver had made the proceeding so spectacular, for I wished
it to have the widest publicity. On the ride up to the college I told
Enver all about these American institutions and what they were doing for
Turkey. He really knew very little about them, and, like most Turks, he
half suspected that they concealed a political purpose.

“We Americans are not looking for material advantages in Turkey,” I
said. “We merely demand that you treat kindly our children, these
colleges, for which all the people in the United States have the warmest
affection.”

I told him that Mr. Cleveland H. Dodge, President of the trustees of
Robert College, and Mr. Charles R. Crane, President of the trustees of
the Women’s College, were intimate friends of President Wilson. “These,”
I added, “represent what is best in America and the fine altruistic
spirit which in our country accumulates wealth and then uses it to found
colleges and schools. In establishing these institutions in Turkey they
are trying, not to convert your people to Christianity, but to help
train them in the sciences and arts and so prepare to make them better
citizens. Americans feel that the Bible lands have given them their
religion and they wish to repay with the best thing America has--its
education.” I then told him about Mrs. Russell Sage and Miss Helen
Gould, who had made large gifts to the Women’s College.

“But where do these people get all the money for such benefactions?”
Enver asked.

I then entertained him for an hour or so with a few pages from our own
“American Nights.” I told him how Jay Gould had arrived in New York, a
penniless and ragged boy, with a mousetrap which he had invented, and
how he had died, almost thirty years afterward, leaving a fortune of
about $100,000,000. I told him how Commodore Vanderbilt had started life
as a ferryman and had become America’s greatest railroad “magnate”; how
Rockefeller had begun his career sitting on a high stool in a Cleveland
commission house, earning six dollars a week, and had created the
greatest fortune that had ever been accumulated by a single man in the
world’s history. I told him how the Dodges had become our great “copper
kings” and the Cranes our great manufacturers of iron pipe. Enver found
these stories more thrilling than any that had ever come out of Bagdad,
and I found afterward that he had retold them so frequently that they
had reached almost all the important people in Constantinople.

Enver was immensely impressed also by what I said about the American
institutions. He went through all the buildings and expressed his
enthusiasm at everything he saw, and he even suggested that he would
like to send his brother there. He took tea with Mrs. Gates, wife of
President Gates, discussed most intelligently the courses, and asked if
we could not introduce the study of agriculture. The teachers he met
seemed to be a great revelation.

“I expected to find these missionaries as they are pictured in the
Berlin newspapers,” he said, “with long hair and hanging jaws, and hands
clasped constantly in a prayerful attitude. But here is Dr. Gates,
talking Turkish like a native and acting like a man of the world. I am
more than pleased, and thank you for bringing me.”

We all saw Enver that afternoon in his most delightful aspect. My idea
that this visit in itself would protect the colleges from disturbance
proved to have been a happy one. The Turkish Empire has been a
tumultuous place in the last four years, but the American colleges have
had no difficulties, either with the Turkish Government or with the
Turkish populace.

This visit was only an agreeable interlude in events of the most
exciting character. Enver, amiable as he could be on occasion, had
deliberately determined to put Turkey in the war on Germany’s side.
Germany had now reached the point where she no longer concealed her
intentions. Once before, when I had interfered in the interest of peace,
Wangenheim had encouraged my action. The reason, as I have indicated,
was that, at that time, Germany had wished Turkey to keep out of the
war, for the German General Staff expected to win without her help. But
now Wangenheim wanted Turkey in. As I was not working in Germany’s
interest, but as I was anxious to protect American institutions, I still
kept urging Enver and Talaat to keep out. This made Wangenheim angry. “I
thought that you were a neutral?” he now exclaimed.

“I thought that you were--in Turkey,” I answered.

Toward the end of October, Wangenheim was leaving nothing undone to
start hostilities; all he needed now was a favourable occasion.

Even after Germany had closed the Dardanelles, the German Ambassador’s
task was not an easy one. Talaat was not yet entirely convinced that his
best policy was war, and, as I have already said, there was still plenty
of pro-Ally sympathy in official quarters. It was Talaat’s plan not to
seize all the cabinet offices at once,

[Illustration: ENVER PASHA, MINISTER OF WAR

     A man of the people, who, at 26, was a leader in the revolution
     which deposed Abdul Hamid and established the new régime of the
     Young Turks. At that time the Young Turks honestly desired to
     establish a Turkish democracy. This attempt failed miserably and
     the Young Turk leaders then ruled the Turkish Empire for their own
     selfish purposes, and developed a government which is much more
     wicked and murderous than that of Abdul Hamid. Enver is the man
     chiefly responsible for turning the Turkish army over to Germany.
     He imagines himself a Turkish combination of Napoleon and Frederick
     the Great
]

[Illustration: SAÏD HALIM, EX-GRAND VIZIER

     Saïd is an Egyptian prince, who provided campaign money for the
     political activities of the Young Turks, and, as a reward, was made
     Grand Vizier. In this position he was not permitted to exercise any
     real authority. He was promised that when the Young Turks succeeded
     in expelling England from Egypt, he should become Khedive
]

but gradually to elbow his way into undisputed control. At this crisis
the most popularly respected members of the Ministry were Djavid,
Minister of Finance, a man who was Jewish by race, but a Mohammedan by
religion; Mahmoud Pasha, Minister of Public Works, a Circassian; Bustány
Effendi, Minister of Commerce and Agriculture, a Christian Arab; and
Oskan Effendi, Minister of Posts and Telegraphs, an Armenian--and a
Christian, of course. All these leaders, as well as the Grand Vizier,
openly opposed war and all now informed Talaat and Enver that they would
resign if Germany succeeded in her intrigues. Thus the atmosphere was
exciting; how tense the situation was a single episode will show. Sir
Louis Mallet, the British Ambassador, had accepted an invitation to dine
at the American Embassy on October 20th, but he sent word at the last
moment that he was ill and could not come. I called on the Ambassador an
hour or two afterward and found him in his garden, apparently in the
best of health. Sir Louis smiled and said that his illness had been
purely political. He had received a letter telling him that he was to be
assassinated that evening, this letter informing him of the precise spot
where the tragedy was to take place, and the time. He therefore thought
that he had better stay indoors. As I had no doubt that some such crime
had been planned, I offered Sir Louis the protection of our Embassy. I
gave him the key to the back gate of the garden; and, with Lord
Wellesley, one of his secretaries--a descendant of the Duke of
Wellington--I made all arrangements for his escape to our quarters in
case a flight became necessary. Our two embassies were so located that,
in the event of an attack, he might go unobserved from the back gate of
his to the back gate of ours. “These people are relapsing into the
Middle Ages,” said Sir Louis, “when it was quite the thing to throw
ambassadors into dungeons,” and I think that he anticipated that the
present Turks might treat him in the same way. I at once went to the
Grand Vizier and informed him of the situation, insisting that nothing
less than a visit from Talaat to Sir Louis, assuring him of his safety,
would undo the harm already done. I could make this demand with
propriety, as we had already made arrangements to take over British
interests when the break came. Within two hours Talaat made such a
visit. Though one of the Turkish newspapers was printing scurrilous
attacks on Sir Louis he was personally very popular with the Turks, and
the Grand Vizier expressed his amazement and regret--and he was entirely
sincere--that such threats had been made.



CHAPTER XI

GERMANY FORCES TURKEY INTO THE WAR


But we were all then in a highly nervous state, because we knew that
Germany was working hard to produce a _casus belli_. Souchon frequently
sent the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ to manœuvre in the Black Sea,
hoping that the Russian fleet would attack. There were several pending
situations that might end in war. Turkish and Russian troops were having
occasional skirmishes on the Persian and Caucasian frontier. On October
29th, Bedouin troops crossed the Egyptian border and had a little
collision with British soldiers. On this same day I had a long talk with
Talaat. I called in the interest of the British Ambassador, to tell him
about the Bedouins crossing into Egypt. “I suppose,” Sir Louis wrote me,
“that this means war; you might mention this news to Talaat and impress
upon him the possible results of this mad act.” Already Sir Louis had
had difficulties with Turkey over this matter. When he had protested to
the Grand Vizier about the Turkish troops near the Egyptian frontier,
the Turkish statesman had pointedly replied that Turkey recognized no
such thing as an Egyptian frontier. By this he meant, of course, that
Egypt itself was Turkish territory and that the English occupation was a
temporary usurpation. When I brought this Egyptian situation to Talaat’s
attention he said that no Ottoman Bedouins had crossed into Egypt. The
Turks had been building wells on the Sinai peninsula to use in case war
broke out with England; England was destroying these wells and the
Bedouins, said Talaat, had interfered to stop this destruction.

At this meeting Talaat frankly told me that Turkey had decided to side
with the Germans and to sink or swim with them. He went again over the
familiar grounds, and added that if Germany won--and Talaat said that he
was convinced that Germany would win--the Kaiser would get his revenge
on Turkey if Turkey had not helped him to obtain this victory. Talaat
frankly admitted that fear--the motive, which, as I have said, is the
one that chiefly inspires Turkish acts--was driving Turkey into a German
alliance. He analyzed the whole situation most dispassionately; he said
that nations could not afford such emotions as gratitude, or hate, or
affection; the only guide to action should be cold-blooded policy.

“At this moment,” said Talaat, “it is for our interest to side with
Germany; if, a month from now, it is our interest to embrace France and
England we shall do that just as readily.”

“Russia is our greatest enemy,” he continued; “and we are afraid of her.
If now, while Germany is attacking Russia, we can give her a good strong
kick, and so make her powerless to injure us for some time, it is
Turkey’s duty to administer that kick!”

And then turning to me with a half-melancholy, half-defiant smile, he
summed up the whole situation.

“_Ich mit die Deutschen_,” he said, in his broken German.

Because the Cabinet was so divided, however, the Germans themselves had
to push Turkey over the precipice. The evening following my talk with
Talaat, most fateful news came from Russia. Three Turkish torpedo boats
had entered the harbour of Odessa, had sunk the Russian gunboat
_Donetz_, killing a part of the crew, and had damaged two Russian
dreadnaughts. They also sank the French ship _Portugal_, killing two of
the crew and wounding two others. They then turned their shells on the
town and destroyed a sugar factory, with some loss of life. German
officers commanded these Turkish vessels; there were very few Turks on
board, as the Turkish crews had been given a holiday for the Turkish
religious festival of _Bairam_. The act was simply a wanton and
unprovoked one; the Germans raided the town deliberately, in order to
make war inevitable. The German officers on the _General_, as my friend
had told me, were constantly threatening to commit some such act, if
Turkey did not do so; well, now they had done it. When this news reached
Constantinople, Djemal was playing cards at the Cercle d’Orient. As
Djemal was Minister of Marine, this attack, had it been an official act
of Turkey, could have been made only on his orders. When someone called
him from the card table to tell him the news, Djemal was much excited.
“I know nothing about it,” he replied. “It has not been done by my
orders.” On the evening of the 29th I had another talk with Talaat. He
told me that he had known nothing of this attack beforehand and that the
whole responsibility rested with the German, Admiral Souchon.

Whether Djemal and Talaat were telling the truth in thus pleading
ignorance I do not know; my opinion is that they were expecting some
such outrage as this. But there is no question that the Grand Vizier,
Saïd Halim, was genuinely grieved. When M. Bompard and Sir Louis Mallet
called on him and demanded their passports, he burst into tears. He
begged them to delay; he was sure that the matter could be adjusted. The
Grand Vizier was the only member of the Cabinet whom Enver and Talaat
particularly wished to placate. As a prince of the royal house of Egypt
and as an extremely rich nobleman, his presence in the Cabinet, as I
have already said, gave it a certain standing. This probably explains
the message which I now received. Talaat asked me to call upon the
Russian Ambassador and ask what amends Turkey could make that would
satisfy the Czar. There is little likelihood that Talaat sincerely
wished me to patch up the difficulty; his purpose was merely to show the
Grand Vizier that he was attempting to meet his wishes, and, in this
way, to keep him in the Cabinet. I saw M. Giers, but found him in no
submissive mood. He said that Turkey could make amends only by
dismissing all the German officers in the Turkish army and navy; he had
his instructions to leave at once and he intended to do so. However, he
would wait long enough in Bulgaria to receive their reply, and, if they
accepted his terms, he would come back.

“Russia, herself, will guarantee that the Turkish fleet does not again
come into the Black Sea,” said M. Giers, grimly. Talaat called on me in
the afternoon, saying that he had just had lunch with Wangenheim. The
Cabinet had the Russian reply under consideration, he said; the Grand
Vizier wished to have M. Giers’s terms put in writing; would I attempt
to get it? By this time Garroni, the Italian Ambassador, had taken
charge of Russian affairs, and I told Talaat that such negotiations
were out of my hands and that any further negotiations must be conducted
through him.

“Why don’t you drop your mask as messenger boy of the Grand Vizier and
talk to me as Talaat?” I asked.

He laughed and said: “Well, Wangenheim, Enver, and I prefer that the war
shall come now.”

Bustány, Oskan, Mahmoud, and Djavid at once carried out their threats
and resigned from the Cabinet, thus leaving the government in the hands
of Moslem Turks. The Grand Vizier, although he had threatened to resign,
did not do so; he was exceedingly pompous and vain, and enjoyed the
dignities of his office so much that, when it came to the final
decision, he could not surrender them. Thus the net result of Turkey’s
entrance into the war, so far as internal politics was concerned, was to
put the nation entirely in the hands of the Committee of Union and
Progress, which now controlled the Government in practically all its
departments. Thus the idealistic organization which had come into
existence to give Turkey the blessings of democracy had ended by
becoming a tool of Prussian autocracy.

One final picture I have of these exciting days. On the evening of the
30th I called at the British Embassy. British residents were already
streaming in large numbers to my office for protection, and fears of ill
treatment, even the massacre of foreigners, filled everybody’s mind.
Amid all this tension I found one imperturbable figure. Sir Louis was
sitting in the chancery, before a huge fireplace, with large piles of
documents heaped about him in a semi-circle. Secretaries and clerks were
constantly entering, their arms full of papers, which they added to the
accumulations already surrounding the Ambassador. Sir Louis would take
up document after document, glance through it and almost invariably drop
it into the fire. These papers contained the embassy records for
probably a hundred years. In them were written the great achievements of
a long line of distinguished ambassadors. They contained the story of
all the diplomatic triumphs in Turkey of Stratford de Redcliffe, the
“Great Elchi,” as the Turks called him, who, for the greater part of
almost fifty years, from 1810 to 1858, practically ruled the Turkish
Empire in the interest of England. The records of other great British
ambassadors at the Sublime Porte now went, one by one, into Sir Louis
Mallet’s fire. The long story of British ascendency in Turkey had
reached its close. The twenty-years’ campaign of the Kaiser to destroy
England’s influence and to become England’s successor had finally
triumphed, and the blaze in Sir Louis’s chancery was really the funeral
pyre of England’s vanished power in Turkey. As I looked upon this
dignified and yet somewhat pensive diplomat, sitting there amid all the
splendours of the British Embassy, I naturally thought of how once the
sultans had bowed with fear and awe before the majesty of England, in
the days when Prussia and Germany were little more than names. Yet the
British Ambassador, as is usually the case with British diplomatic and
military figures, was quiet and self-possessed. We sat there before his
fire and discussed the details of his departure. He gave me a list of
the English residents who were to leave and those who were to stay, and
I made final arrangements with Sir Louis for taking over British
interests. Distressing in many ways as was this collapse of British
influence in Turkey, the honour of Great Britain and that of her
ambassador was still secure. Sir Louis had not purchased Turkish
officials with money, as had Wangenheim; he had not corrupted the
Turkish press, trampled on every remaining vestige of international law,
fraternized with a gang of political desperadoes, and conducted a
ceaseless campaign of misrepresentations and lies against his enemy. The
diplomatic game that had ended in England’s defeat was one which English
statesmen were not qualified to play. It called for talents such as only
a Wangenheim possessed--it needed that German statecraft which, in
accordance with Bismarck’s maxim, was ready to sacrifice for the
Fatherland “not only life but honour.”



CHAPTER XII

THE TURKS ATTEMPT TO TREAT ALIEN ENEMIES DECENTLY BUT THE GERMANS INSIST
ON PERSECUTING THEM


Soon after the bombardment of Odessa I was closeted with Enver,
discussing the subject which was then uppermost in the minds of all the
foreigners in Turkey. How would the Government treat its resident
enemies? Would it intern them, establish concentration camps, pursue
them with German malignity, and perhaps apply the favourite Turkish
measure with Christians--torture and massacre? Thousands of enemy
subjects were then living in the Ottoman Empire; many of them had spent
their whole lives there; others had even been born on Ottoman soil. All
these people, when Turkey entered the war, had every reason to expect
the harshest kind of treatment. It is no exaggeration to say that most
of them lived in constant fear of murder. The Dardanelles had been
closed, so that there was little chance that outside help could reach
these aliens; the capitulatory rights, under which they had lived for
centuries, had been abrogated. There was really nothing between the
foreign residents and destruction except the American flag. The state of
war had now made me, as American Ambassador, the protector of all
British, French, Serbian, and Belgian subjects. I realized from the
beginning that my task would be a difficult one. On one hand were the
Germans, urging their well-known ideas of repression and brutality,
while on the other were the Turks, with their traditional aversion to
Christians and their natural instinct to maltreat those who are
helplessly placed in their power.

Yet I had certain strong arguments on my side and I now had called upon
Enver for the purpose of laying them before him. Turkey desired the good
opinion of the United States, and hoped, after the war, to find support
among American financiers. At that time all the embassies in
Constantinople took it for granted that the United States would be the
peacemaker; if Turkey expected us to be her friend, I now told Enver,
she would have to treat enemy foreigners in a civilized way.

“You hope to be reinstated as a world power,” I said. “You must remember
that the civilized world will carefully watch you; your future status
will depend on how you conduct yourself in war.” The ruling classes
among the Turks, including Enver, realized that the outside world
regarded them as a people who had no respect for the sacredness of human
life or the finer emotions and they keenly resented this attitude. I now
reminded Enver that Turkey had a splendid opportunity to disprove all
these criticisms. “The world may say you are barbarians,” I argued;
“show by the way you treat these alien enemies that you are not. Only in
this way can you be freed permanently from the ignominy of the
capitulations. Prove that you are worthy of being emancipated from
foreign tutelage. Be civilized--be modern!”

In view of what was happening in Belgium and northern France at that
moment, my use of the word “modern,” was a little unfortunate. Enver
quickly saw the point. Up to this time he had maintained his usual
attitude of erect and dignified composure, and his face, as always, had
been attentive, imperturbable, almost expressionless. Now in a flash his
whole bearing changed. His countenance broke into a cynical smile, he
leaned over, brought his fist down on the table, and said:

“Modern! No; however Turkey shall wage war, at least we shall not be
‘modern.’ That is the most barbaric system of all. We shall simply try
to be decent!”

Naturally I construed this as a promise; I understood the changeableness
of the Turkish character well enough, however, to know that more than a
promise was necessary. The Germans were constantly prodding the Turkish
officials, persuading them to adopt the favourite German plan against
enemy aliens. Germany has revived many of the principles of ancient and
medieval warfare, one of her most barbaric resurrections from the past
being this practice of keeping certain representatives of the
population, preferably people of distinction and influence, as hostages
for the “good behaviour” of others. At this moment the German military
staff was urging the Turks to keep foreign residents for this purpose.
Just as the Germans held non-combatants in Belgium as security for the
“friendliness” of the Belgians, and placed Belgian women and children at
the head of their advancing armies, so the Germans in Turkey were now
planning to use French and British residents as part of their protective
system against the Allied fleet. That this sinister influence was
constantly at work I well knew; therefore it was necessary that I should
meet it immediately, and, if possible, gain the upper hand at the very
start. I decided that the departure of the Entente diplomats and
residents from Constantinople would really put to the test my ability to
protect the foreign residents. If all the French and English who really
wished to leave could safely get out of Turkey, I believed that this
demonstration would have a restraining influence, not only upon the
Germans, but upon the underlings of the Turkish official world.

As soon as I arrived at the railroad station, the day following the
break, I saw that my task was to be a difficult one. I had arranged with
the Turkish authorities for two trains; one for the English and French
residents, which was to leave at seven o’clock, and one for the
diplomats and their staff, which was to go at nine. But the arrangement
was not working according to schedule. The station was a surging mass of
excited and frightened people; the police were there in full force,
pushing the crowds back; the scene was an indescribable mixture of
soldiers, gendarmes, diplomats, baggage, and Turkish functionaries.

One of the most conspicuous figures was Bedri Bey, prefect of police, a
lawyer politician, who had recently been elevated to this position, and
who keenly realized the importance of his new office. Bedri was an
intimate friend and political subordinate of Talaat and one of his most
valuable tools. He ranked high in the Committee of Union and Progress,
and aspired ultimately to obtain a cabinet position. Perhaps his most
impelling motive was his hatred of foreigners and foreign influence. In
his eyes Turkey was the land exclusively of the Turks; he despised all
the other elements in its population, and he particularly resented the
control which the foreign embassies had for years exerted in the
domestic concerns of his country. Indeed, there were few men in Turkey
with whom the permanent abolition of the capitulations was such a
serious matter. Naturally in the next few months I saw much of Bedri; he
was constantly crossing my path, taking an almost malicious pleasure in
interfering with every move which I made in the interest of the
foreigners. His attitude was half provoking, half jocular; we were
always trying to outwit each other--I attempting to protect the French
and British, Bedri always turning up as an obstacle to my efforts; the
fight for the foreigners, indeed, almost degenerated into a personal
duel between the Prefect of Police and the American Embassy. Bedri was
capable, well educated, very agile, and not particularly ill-natured,
but he loved to toy with a helpless foreigner. Naturally, he found his
occupation this evening a congenial one.

“What’s all the trouble about?” I asked Bedri.

“We have changed our minds,” he said, and his manner showed that the
change had not been displeasing to him. “We shall let the train go that
is to take the ambassadors and their staffs. But we have decided not to
let the unofficial classes leave--the train that was to take them will
not go.”

My staff and I had worked hard to get this safe passage for the enemy
nationals. Now apparently some influence had negatived our efforts. This
sudden change in plans was producing the utmost confusion and
consternation. At the station there were two groups of passengers, one
of which could go and the other of which could not. The British and
French ambassadors did not wish to leave their nationals behind, and the
latter refused to believe that their train, which the Turkish officials
had definitely promised, would not start sometime that evening. I
immediately called up Enver, who substantiated Bedri’s statement. Turkey
had many subjects in Egypt, he said, whose situation was causing great
anxiety. Before the French and English residents could leave Turkey,
assurances must be given that the rights of Turkish subjects in these
countries would be protected. I had no difficulty in arranging this
detail, for Sir Louis Mallet immediately gave the necessary assurances.
However, this did not settle the matter; indeed, it had been little more
than a pretext. Bedri still refused to let the train start; the order
holding it up, he said, could not be rescinded, for that would now
disarrange the general schedule and might cause accidents. I recognized
all this as mere Turkish evasion and I knew that the order had come from
a higher source than Bedri; still nothing could be done at that moment.
Moreover, Bedri would let no one get on the diplomatic train until I had
personally identified him. So I had to stand at a little gate, and pass
upon each applicant. Everyone, whether he belonged to the diplomatic
corps or not, attempted to force himself through this narrow passageway,
and we had an old-fashioned Brooklyn Bridge crush on a small scale.
People were running in all directions, checking baggage, purchasing
tickets, arguing with officials, consoling distracted women and
frightened children, while Bedri, calm and collected, watched the whole
pandemonium with an unsympathetic smile. Hats were knocked off, clothing
was torn, and, to add to the confusion, Mallet, the British Ambassador,
became involved in a set-to with an officious Turk--the Englishman
winning first honours easily; and I caught a glimpse of Bompard, the
French Ambassador, vigorously shaking a Turkish policeman. One lady
dropped her baby in my arms, later another handed me a small boy, and
still later, when I was standing at the gate, identifying Turkey’s
departing guests, one of the British secretaries made me the custodian
of his dog. Meanwhile, Sir Louis Mallet became obstreperous and refused
to leave.

“I shall stay here,” he said, “until the last British subject leaves
Turkey.”

But I told him that he was no longer the protector of the British; that
I, as American Ambassador, had assumed this responsibility; and that I
could hardly assert myself in this capacity if he remained in
Constantinople.

“Certainly,” I said, “the Turks would not recognize me as in charge of
British interests if you remain here.”

Moreover, I suggested that he remain at Dedeagatch for a few days, and
await the arrival of his fellow British. Sir Louis reluctantly accepted
my point of view and boarded the train. As the train left the station I
caught my final glimpse of the British Ambassador, sitting in a private
car, almost buried in a mass of trunks, satchels, boxes, and diplomatic
pouches, surrounded by his embassy staff, and sympathetically watched by
his secretary’s dog.

The unofficial foreigners remained in the station several hours, hoping
that, at the last moment, they would be permitted to go. Bedri, however,
was inexorable. Their position was almost desperate. They had given up
their quarters in Constantinople, and now found themselves practically
stranded. Some were taken in by friends for the night, others found
accommodations

[Illustration: SIR LOUIS MALLET

(On the left.) British Ambassador in Constantinople when the war began.
To the right is M. Bompard, the French Ambassador.]

[Illustration: GENERAL LIMAN VON SANDERS

This is the head of the military mission sent by the Kaiser to
Constantinople in the latter part of 1913, to reorganize the Turkish
army in preparation for the coming war. He really directed the Turkish
mobilization in August, 1914--three months before Turkey declared war.]

in hotels. But their situation caused the utmost anxiety. Evidently,
despite all official promises, Turkey was determined to keep these
foreign residents as hostages. On the one hand were Enver and Talaat,
telling me that they intended to conduct their war in a humane manner,
and, on the other, were their underlings, such as Bedri, behaving in a
fashion that negatived all these civilized pretensions. The fact was
that the officials were quarrelling among themselves about the treatment
of foreigners; and the German General Staff was telling the Cabinet that
they were making a great mistake in showing any leniency to their enemy
aliens. Finally, I succeeded in making arrangements for them to leave
the following day. Bedri, in more complaisant mood, spent that afternoon
at the embassy, viséing passports; we both went to the station in the
evening and started the train safely toward Dedeagatch. I gave a box of
candy--”Turkish Delights,” to each one of the fifty women and children
on the train; it altogether was a happy party and they made no attempt
to hide their relief at leaving Turkey. At Dedeagatch they met the
diplomatic corps, and the reunion that took place, I afterward learned,
was extremely touching. I was made happy by receiving many testimonials
of their gratitude, in particular a letter, signed by more than a
hundred, expressing their thanks to Mrs. Morgenthau, the embassy staff,
and myself.

There were still many who wished to go and next day I called on Talaat
in their behalf. I found him in one of his most gracious moods. The
Cabinet, he said, had carefully considered the whole matter of English
and French residents in Turkey, and my arguments, he added, had greatly
influenced them. They had reached the formal decision that enemy aliens
could leave or remain, as they preferred. There would be no
concentration camps, civilians could pursue their usual business in
peace, and, so long as they behaved themselves, they would not be
molested.

“We propose to show,” said Talaat, “by our treatment of aliens, that we
are not a race of barbarians.”

In return for this promise he asked a favour of me: would I not see that
Turkey was praised in the American and European press for this decision?

After returning to the embassy I immediately sent for Mr. Theron Damon,
correspondent of the Associated Press, Doctor Lederer, correspondent of
the _Berliner Tageblatt_, and Doctor Sandler, who represented the Paris
_Herald_, and gave them interviews, praising the attitude of Turkey
toward the foreign residents. I also cabled the news to Washington,
London, and Paris and to all our consuls.

Hardly had I finished with the correspondents when I again received
alarming news. I had arranged for another train that evening, and I now
heard that the Turks were refusing to visé the passports of those whose
departure I had provided for. This news, coming right after Talaat’s
explicit promise, was naturally disturbing. I immediately started for
the railroad station, and the sight which I saw there increased my anger
at the Minister of the Interior. A mass of distracted people filled the
inclosure; the women were weeping, and the children were screaming,
while a platoon of Turkish soldiers, commanded by an undersized popinjay
of a major, was driving everybody out of the station with the flat sides
of their guns. Bedri, as usual, was there, and as usual, he was clearly
enjoying the confusion; certain of the passengers, he told me, had not
paid their income tax, and, for this reason, they would not be permitted
to leave. I announced that I would be personally responsible for this
payment.

“I can’t get ahead of you, Mr. Ambassador, can I?” said Bedri, with a
laugh. From this we all thought that my offer had settled the matter and
that the train would leave according to schedule. But then suddenly,
came another order holding it up again.

Since I had just had a promise from Talaat I decided to find that
functionary and learn what all this meant. I jumped into my automobile
and went to the Sublime Porte, where he usually had his headquarters.
Finding no one there, I told the chauffeur to drive directly to Talaat’s
house. Sometime before I had visited Enver in his domestic surroundings
and this occasion now gave me the opportunity to compare his manner of
life with that of his more powerful associate. The contrast was a
startling one. I had found Enver living in luxury, in one of the most
aristocratic parts of the town, while now I was driving to one of the
poorer sections. We came to a narrow street, bordered by little rough,
unpainted wooden houses; only one thing distinguished this thoroughfare
from all others in Constantinople and suggested that it was the abiding
place of the most powerful man in the Turkish Empire. At either end
stood a policeman, letting no one enter who could not give a
satisfactory reason for doing so. Our auto, like all others, was
stopped, but we were promptly permitted to pass when we explained who we
were. As contrasted with Enver’s palace, with its innumerable rooms and
gorgeous furniture, Talaat’s house was an old, rickety, wooden,
three-story building. All this, I afterward learned, was part of the
setting which Talaat had staged for his career. Like many an American
politician, he had found his position as a man of “the people” a
valuable political asset, and he knew that a sudden display of
prosperity and ostentation would weaken his influence with the Union and
Progress Committee, most of whose members, like himself, had risen from
the lower walks of life. The contents of the house were quite in keeping
with the exterior. There were no suggestions of Oriental magnificence.
The furniture was cheap; a few coarse prints hung on the walls, and one
or two well-worn rugs were scattered on the floor. On one side stood a
wooden table, and on this rested a telegraph instrument--once Talaat’s
means of earning a living, and now a means by which he communicated with
his associates. In the present troubled conditions in Turkey Talaat
sometimes preferred to do his own telegraphing!

Amid these surroundings I awaited for a few minutes the entrance of the
Big Boss of Turkey. In due time a door opened at the other end of the
room, and a huge, lumbering, gaily-decorated figure entered. I was
startled by the contrast which this Talaat presented to the one who had
become such a familiar figure to me at the Sublime Porte. It was no
longer the Talaat of the European clothes and the thin veneer of
European manners; the man whom I now saw looked like a real Bulgarian
gypsy. Talaat wore the usual red Turkish fez; the rest of his bulky form
was clothed in thick gray pajamas; and from this combination protruded a
rotund, smiling face. His mood was half genial, half deprecating; Talaat
well understood what pressing business had led me to invade his
domestic privacy, and his behaviour now resembled that of the
unrepentant bad boy in school. He came and sat down with a good-natured
grin, and began to make excuses. Quietly the door opened again, and a
hesitating little girl was pushed into the room, bringing a tray of
cigarettes and coffee. Presently I saw that a young woman, apparently
about twenty-five years old, was standing back of the child, urging her
to enter. Here, then, were Talaat’s wife and adopted daughter; I had
already discovered that, while Turkish women never enter society or act
as hostesses, they are extremely inquisitive about their husbands’
guests, and like to get surreptitious glimpses of them. Evidently Madame
Talaat, on this occasion, was not satisfied with her preliminary view,
for, a few minutes afterward, she appeared at a window directly opposite
me, but entirely unseen by her husband, who was facing in the other
direction, and there she remained very quiet and very observant for
several minutes. As she was in the house, she was unveiled; her face was
handsome and intelligent; and it was quite apparent that she enjoyed
this close-range view of an American ambassador.

“Well, Talaat,” I said, realizing that the time had come for plain
speaking, “don’t you know how foolishly you are acting? You told me a
few hours ago that you had decided to treat the French and English
decently and you asked me to publish this news in the American and
foreign press. I at once called in the newspaper men and told them how
splendidly you were behaving. And this at your own request! The whole
world will be reading about it to-morrow. Now you are doing your best to
counteract all my efforts in your behalf; here you have repudiated your
first promise to be decent. Are you going to keep the promises you made
me? Will you stick to them, or do you intend to keep changing your mind
all the time? Now let’s have a real understanding. The thing we
Americans particularly pride ourselves on is keeping our word. We do it
as individuals and as a nation. We refuse to deal with people as equals
who do not do this. You might as well understand now that we can do no
business with each other unless I can depend on your promises.”

“Now, this isn’t my fault,” Talaat answered. “The Germans are to blame
for stopping that train. The German Chief of Staff has just returned and
is making a big fuss, saying that we are too easy with the French and
English and that we must not let them go away. He says that we must keep
them for hostages. It was his interference that did this.”

That was precisely what I had suspected. Talaat had given me his
promise, then Bronssart, head of the German Staff, had practically
countermanded his orders. Talaat’s admission gave me the opening which I
had wished for. By this time my relations with Talaat had become so
friendly that I could talk to him with the utmost frankness.

“Now, Talaat,” I said, “you have got to have someone to advise you in
your relations with foreigners. You must make up your mind whether you
want me or the German Staff. Don’t you think you will make a mistake if
you place yourself entirely in the hands of the Germans? The time may
come when you will need me against them.”

“What do you mean by that?” he asked, watching for my answer with
intense curiosity.

“The Germans are sure to ask you to do many things you don’t want to do.
If you can tell them that the American Ambassador objects, my support
may prove useful to you. Besides, you know you all expect peace in a few
months. You know that the Germans really care nothing for Turkey, and
certainly you have no claims on the Allies for assistance. There is only
one nation in the world that you can look to as a disinterested friend
and that is the United States.”

This fact was so apparent that I hardly needed to argue it in any great
detail. However, I had another argument that struck still nearer home.
Already the struggle between the war department and the civil powers had
started. I knew that Talaat, although he was Minister of the Interior,
and a civilian, was determined not to sacrifice a tittle of his
authority to Enver, the Germans, and the representatives of the
military.

“If you let the Germans win this point to-day,” I said, “you are
practically in their power. You are now the head of affairs, but you are
still a civilian. Are you going to let the military, represented by
Enver and the German staff, overrule your orders? Apparently that is
what has happened to-day. If you submit to it, you will find that they
will be running things from now on. The Germans will put this country
under martial law; then where will you civilians be?”

I could see that this argument was having its effect on Talaat. He
remained quiet for a few moments, evidently pondering my remarks. Then
he said, with the utmost deliberation,

“I am going to help you.”

He turned around to his table and began working his telegraph
instrument. I shall never forget the picture; this huge Turk, sitting
there in his gray pajamas and his red fez, working industriously his own
telegraph key, his young wife gazing at him through a little window and
the late afternoon sun streaming into the room. Evidently the ruler of
Turkey was having his troubles, and, as the argument went on over the
telegraph, Talaat would bang his key with increasing irritation. He told
me that the pompous major at the station insisted on having Enver’s
written orders--since orders over the wire might easily be
counterfeited. It took Talaat some time to locate Enver, and then the
dispute apparently started all over again. A piece of news which Talaat
received at that moment over the wire almost ruined my case. After a
prolonged thumping of his instrument, in the course of which Talaat’s
face lost its geniality and became almost savage, he turned to me and
said:

“The English bombarded the Dardanelles this morning and killed two
Turks!”

And then he added:

“We intend to kill three Christians for every Moslem killed!”

For a moment I thought that everything was lost. Talaat’s face reflected
only one emotion--hatred of the English. Afterward, when reading the
Cromer report on the Dardanelles, I found that the British Committee
stigmatized this early attack as a mistake, since it gave the Turks an
early warning of their plans. I can testify that it was a mistake for
another reason, for I now found that these few strange shots almost
destroyed my plans to get the foreign residents out of Turkey. Talaat
was enraged, and I had to go over much of the

[Illustration:

© Underwood & Underwood

GERMAN AND TURKISH OFFICERS ON BOARD THE “GOEBEN”

     All the men, except the ones at the extreme left and extreme right,
     are Germans. Two months before Turkey entered the European war,
     Admiral Souchon--the central figure in this group--controlled the
     Turkish navy. All this time the German Government maintained that
     it had “sold” the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ to Turkey.
]

[Illustration: BEDRI BEY, PREFECT OF POLICE AT CONSTANTINOPLE

     A leader of the Young Turks and an intimate friend of Talaat. Mr.
     Morgenthau’s attempts to protect the English and French became a
     contest between himself and Bedri, who accepted the German view
     that foreigners should not be treated with “too great leniency”.
]

[Illustration: DJAVID BEY, MINISTER OF FINANCE IN TURKISH CABINET

     A Jew by race but a Mohammedan by religion; an influential member
     of the Young Turk party. He was Pro-Ally in his sympathies, and
     resigned when Turkey entered the war on Germany’s side, though
     afterward he resumed office.
]

ground again, but finally I succeeded in pacifying him once more. I saw
that he was vacillating between his desire to punish the English and his
desire to assert his own authority over that of Enver and the Germans.
Fortunately the latter motive gained the ascendancy. At all hazard, he
was determined to show that he was boss.

We remained there more than two hours, my involuntary host pausing now
and then in his telegraphing to entertain me with the latest political
gossip. Djavid, the Minister of Finance, he said, had resigned, but had
promised to work for them at home. The Grand Vizier, despite his
threats, had been persuaded to retain his office. Foreigners in the
interior would not be molested unless Beirut, Alexandretta, or some
unfortified port were bombarded, but, if such attacks were made, they
would exact reprisals of the French and English. Talaat’s conversation
showed that he had no particular liking for the Germans. They were
overbearing and insolent, he said, constantly interfering in military
matters and treating the Turks with disdain.

Finally the train was arranged. Talaat had shown several moods in this
interview; he had been by turns sulky, good-natured, savage, and
complaisant. There is one phase of the Turkish character which
Westerners do not comprehend and that is its keen sense of humour.
Talaat himself greatly loved a joke and a funny story. Now that he had
reëstablished friendly relations and redeemed his promise, Talaat became
jocular once more.

“Your people can go now,” he said with a laugh. “It’s time to buy your
candies, Mr. Ambassador!”

This latter, of course, was a reference to the little gifts which I had
made to the women and children the night before. We immediately
returned to the station, where we found the disconsolate passengers
sitting around waiting for a favourable word. When I told them that the
train would leave that evening, their thanks and gratitude were
overwhelming.



CHAPTER XIII

THE INVASION OF NOTRE DAME DE SION


Talaat’s statement that the German Chief of Staff, Bronssart, had really
held up this train, was a valuable piece of information. I decided to
look into the matter further, and, with this idea in my mind, I called
next day on Wangenheim. The Turkish authorities, I said, had solemnly
promised that they would treat their enemies decently, and certainly I
could not tolerate any interference in the matter from the German Chief
of Staff. Wangenheim had repeatedly told me that the Germans were
looking to President Wilson as the peacemaker and I therefore used the
same argument with him that I had urged on Talaat. Proceedings of this
sort would not help his country when the day of the final settlement
came! Here, I said, we have a strange situation; a so-called barbarous
country, like Turkey, attempting to make civilized warfare and treat
their Christian enemies with decency and kindness, and, on the other
hand, a supposedly cultured and Christian nation, like Germany, which is
trying to persuade them to revert to barbarism. “What sort of an
impression do you think that will make on the American people?” I asked
Wangenheim. He expressed a willingness to help and suggested, as my
consideration for such help, that I should try to persuade the United
States to insist on free commerce with Germany, so that his country
could receive plentiful cargoes of copper, wheat, and cotton. This was
a subject to which, as I shall relate, Wangenheim constantly returned.

Despite Wangenheim’s promise I had practically no support from the
German Embassy in my attempt to protect the foreign residents from
Turkish ill treatment. I realized that, owing to my religion, there
might be a feeling in certain quarters that I was not exerting all my
energies in behalf of these Christian peoples and religious
organizations--hospitals, schools, monasteries, and convents--and I
naturally thought that it would strengthen my influence with the Turks
if I could have the support of my most powerful Christian colleagues. I
had a long discussion on this matter with Pallavicini, himself a
Catholic and the representative of the greatest Catholic power.
Pallavicini frankly told me that Wangenheim would do nothing that would
annoy the Turks. There was then a constant fear that the English and
French fleets would force the Dardanelles, capture Constantinople, and
hand it over to Russia, and only the Turkish forces, said Pallavicini,
could prevent such a calamity. The Germans, therefore, believed that
they were dependent on the good graces of the Turkish Government, and
would do nothing to antagonize them. Evidently Pallavicini wished me to
believe that Wangenheim and he really desired to help. Yet this plea was
hardly frank, for I knew all the time that Turkey, if the Germans had
not constantly interfered, would have behaved decently. I found that the
evil spirit was not the Turkish Government, but Von Bronssart, the
German Chief of Staff. The fact that certain members of the Turkish
Cabinet, who represented European and Christian culture--men like
Bustány and Oskan--had resigned as a protest against Turkey’s action in
entering the war, made the situation of foreigners even more dangerous.
There was also much conflict of authority; a policy decided on one day
would be reversed the next, the result being that we never knew where we
stood. The mere fact that the Government promised me that foreigners
would not be maltreated by no means settled the matter, for some
underling, like Bedri Bey, could frequently find an excuse for
disregarding instructions. The situation, therefore, was one that called
for constant vigilance; I had not only to get pledges from men like
Talaat and Enver, but I had personally to see that these pledges were
carried into action.

I awoke one November morning at four o’clock; I had been dreaming, or I
had had a “presentiment,” that all was not going well with the Sion
Sœurs, a French sisterhood which had for many years conducted a
school for girls in Constantinople. Madame Bompard, the wife of the
French Ambassador, and several ladies of the French colony, had
particularly requested us to keep a watchful eye on this institution. It
was a splendidly conducted school; the daughters of many of the best
families of all nationalities attended it, and when these girls were
assembled, the Christians wearing silver crosses and the non-Christians
silver stars, the sight was particularly beautiful and impressive.
Naturally the thought of the brutal Turks breaking into such a community
was enough to arouse the wrath of any properly constituted man. Though
we had nothing more definite than an uneasy feeling that something might
be wrong, Mrs. Morgenthau and I decided to go up immediately after
breakfast. As we approached the building we noted nothing particularly
suspicious; the place was quiet and the whole atmosphere was one of
peace and sanctity. Just as we ascended the steps, however, five Turkish
policemen followed on our heels. They crowded after us into the
vestibule, much to the consternation of a few of the sisters, who
happened to be in the waiting room. The mere fact that the American
Ambassador came with the police in itself increased their alarm, though
our arrival together was purely accidental.

“What do you want?” I asked, turning to the men. As they spoke only
Turkish, naturally they did not understand me, and they started to push
me aside. My own knowledge of Turkish was extremely limited, but I knew
that the word “Elchi” meant “Ambassador.” So, pointing to myself, I
said,

“Elchi American.”

This scrap of Turkish worked like magic. In Turkey an ambassador is a
much-revered object, and these policemen immediately respected my
authority. Meanwhile the sisters had sent for their superior, Mère
Elvira. This lady was one of the most distinguished and influential
personages in Constantinople. That morning, as she came in quietly and
faced these Turkish policemen, showing not a sign of fear, and
completely overawing them by the splendour and dignity of her bearing,
she represented to my eyes almost a supernatural being. Mère Elvira was
a daughter of one of the most aristocratic families of France; she was a
woman of perhaps forty years of age, with black hair and shining black
eyes, all accentuated by a pale face that radiated culture, character,
and intelligence. I could not help thinking, as I looked at her that
morning, that there was not a diplomatic circle in the world to which
she would not have added grace and dignity. In a few seconds Mère Elvira
had this present distracting situation completely under control. She
sent for a sister who spoke Turkish and questioned the policemen. They
said that they were acting under Bedri’s orders. All the foreign schools
were to be closed that morning, the Government intending to seize all
their buildings. There were about seventy-two teachers and sisters in
this convent; the police had orders to shut all these into two rooms,
where they were to be held practically as prisoners. There were about
two hundred girls; these were to be turned out into the streets, and
left to shift for themselves. The fact that it was raining in torrents,
and that the weather was extremely cold, accentuated the barbarity of
this proceeding. Yet every enemy school and religious institution in
Constantinople was undergoing a similar experience at this time. Clearly
this was a situation which I could not handle alone, and I at once
telephoned my Turkish-speaking legal adviser. Herein is another incident
which may have an interest for those who believe in providential
intervention. When I arrived in Constantinople telephones had been
unknown, but, in the last few months, an English company had been
introducing a system. The night before my experience with the Sion
Sœurs, my legal adviser had called me up and proudly told me that his
telephone had just been installed. I jotted down his number, and this
memorandum I now found in my pocket. Without my interpreter I should
have been hard pressed, and without this telephone I could not have
immediately brought him to the spot.

While waiting for his arrival I delayed the operations of the policemen,
and my wife, who fortunately speaks French, was obtaining all the
details from the sisters. Mrs. Morgenthau understood the Turks well
enough to know that they had other plans than the mere expulsion of the
sisters and their charges. The Turks regard these institutions as
repositories of treasure; the valuables which they contain are greatly
exaggerated in the popular mind; and it was a safe assumption that,
among other things, this expulsion was an industrious raiding expedition
for tangible evidences of wealth.

“Have you any money and other valuables here?” Mrs. Morgenthau asked one
of the sisters.

Yes, they had quite a large amount; it was kept in a safe upstairs. My
wife told me to keep the policemen busy and then she and one of the
sisters quietly disappeared from the scene. Upstairs the sister
disclosed about a hundred square pieces of white flannel into each one
of which had been sewed twenty gold coins. In all, the Sion Sœurs had
in this liquid form about fifty thousand francs. They had been fearing
expulsion for some time and had been getting together their money in
this form, so that they could carry it away with them when forced to
leave Turkey. Besides this, the sisters had several bundles of
securities, and many valuable papers, such as the charter of their
school. Certainly here was something that would appeal to Turkish
cupidity. Mrs. Morgenthau knew that if the police once obtained control
of the building there would be little likelihood that the Sion Sœurs
would ever see their money again. With the aid of the sisters, my wife
promptly concealed as much as she could on her person, descended the
stairs, and marched through the line of gendarmes out into the rain.
Mrs. Morgenthau told me afterward that her blood almost ran cold with
fright as she passed by these guardians of the law; from all external
signs, however, she was absolutely calm and collected. She stepped into
the waiting auto, was driven to the American Embassy, placed the money
in our vault, and promptly returned to the school. Again Mrs. Morgenthau
solemnly ascended the stairs with the sisters. This time they took her
to the gallery of the Cathedral, which stood behind the convent, but
could be entered through it. One of the sisters lifted up a tile from a
particular spot in the floor, and again disclosed a heap of gold coins.
This was secreted on Mrs. Morgenthau’s clothes, and once more she walked
past the gendarmes, out into the rain, and was driven rapidly to the
Embassy. In these two trips my wife succeeded in getting the money of
the sisters to a place where it would be safe from the Turks.

Between Mrs. Morgenthau’s trips Bedri had arrived. He told me that
Talaat had himself given the order for closing all the institutions and
that they had intended to have the entire job finished before nine
o’clock. I have already said that the Turks have a sense of humour; but
to this statement I should add that it sometimes manifests itself in a
perverted form. Bedri now seemed to think that locking more than seventy
Catholic sisters in two rooms and turning two hundred young and
carefully nurtured girls into the streets of Constantinople was a great
joke.

“We were going at it early in the morning and have it all over before
you heard anything about it,” he said with a laugh. “But you seem never
to be asleep.”

“You are very foolish to try to play such tricks on us,” I said. “Don’t
you know that I am going to write a book? If you go on behaving this
way, I shall put you in as the villain.”

This remark was an inspiration of the moment; it was then that it first
occurred to me that these experiences might prove sufficiently
interesting for publication. Bedri took the statement seriously, and it
seemed to have a sobering effect.

“Do you really intend to write a book?” he asked, almost anxiously.

“Why not?” I rejoined. “General Lew Wallace was minister here--didn’t he
write a book? ‘Sunset’ Cox was also minister here--didn’t he write one?
Why shouldn’t I? And you are such an important character that I shall
have to give you a part. Why do you go on acting in a way that will make
me describe you as a very bad man? These sisters here have always been
your friends. They have never done you anything but good; they have
educated many of your daughters; why do you treat them in this shameful
fashion?”

This plea produced an effect; Bedri consented to postpone execution of
the order until we could get Talaat on the wire. In a few minutes I
heard Talaat laughing over the telephone.

“I tried to escape you,” he said, “but you have caught me again. Why
make such a row about this matter? Didn’t the French themselves expel
all their nuns and monks? Why shouldn’t we do it?”

After I had remonstrated over this indecent haste Talaat told Bedri to
suspend the order until we had had a chance to talk the matter over.
Naturally this greatly relieved Mère Elvira and the sisters. Just as we
were about to leave, Bedri suddenly had a new idea. There was one detail
which he had apparently forgotten.

“We’ll leave the Sion sisters alone for the present,” he said, “but we
must get their money.”

Reluctantly I acquiesced in his suggestion--knowing that all the
valuables were safely reposing in the American Embassy. So I had the
pleasure of standing by and watching Bedri and his associates search the
whole establishment. All they turned up was a small tin box containing a
few copper coins, a prize which was so trifling that the Turks disdained
to take it. They were much puzzled and disappointed, and from that day
to this they have never known what became of the money. If my Turkish
friends do me the honour of reading these pages, they will find that I
have explained here for the first time one of the many mysteries of
those exciting days.

As some of the windows of the convent opened on the court of the
Cathedral, which was Vatican property, we contended that the Turkish
Government could not seize it. Such of the sisters as were neutrals were
allowed to remain in possession of the part that faced the Vatican land,
while the rest of the building was turned into an Engineers’ School. We
arranged that the French nuns should have ten days to leave for their
own country; they all reached their destination safely, and most are at
present engaged in charities and war work in France.

My jocular statement that I intended to write a book deeply impressed
Bedri, and, in the next few weeks, he repeatedly referred to it. I kept
banteringly telling him that, unless his behaviour improved, I should be
forced to picture him as the villain. One day he asked me, in all
seriousness, whether he could not do something that would justify me in
portraying him in a more favourable light. This attitude gave me an
opportunity I had been seeking for some time. Constantinople had for
many years been a centre for the white-slave trade and a particularly
vicious gang was then operating under cover of a fake synagogue. A
committee, organized to fight this crew, had made me an honorary
chairman. I told Bedri that he now had the chance to secure a
reputation; because of the war, his powers as Prefect of Police had been
greatly increased and a little vigorous action on his part would
permanently rid the city of this disgrace. The enthusiasm with which
Bedri adopted my suggestion and the thoroughness and ability with which
he did the work entitle him to the gratitude of all decent people. In a
few days every white-slave trader in Constantinople was scurrying for
safety; most were arrested, a few made their escape; such as were
foreigners, after serving terms in jail, were expelled from the country.
Bedri furnished me photographs of all the culprits and they are now on
file in our State Department. I was not writing a book at that time, but
I felt obliged to secure some public recognition for Bedri’s work. I
therefore sent his photograph, with a few words about his achievement,
to the New York _Times_, which published it in a Sunday edition. That a
great American newspaper had recognized him in this way delighted Bedri
beyond words. For months he carried in his pocket the page of the
_Times_ containing his picture, showing it to all his friends. This
event ended my troubles with the Prefect of Police; for the rest of my
stay we had very few serious clashes.



CHAPTER XIV

WANGENHEIM AND THE BETHLEHEM STEEL COMPANY--A HOLY WAR THAT WAS MADE IN
GERMANY


All this time I was increasing my knowledge of the modern German
character, as illustrated in Wangenheim and his associates. In the early
days of the war, the Germans showed their most ingratiating side to
Americans; as time went on, however, and it became apparent that public
opinion in the United States almost unanimously supported the Allies,
and that the Washington Administration would not disregard the
neutrality laws in order to promote Germany’s interest, this friendly
attitude changed and became almost hostile.

The grievance to which the German Ambassador constantly returned with
tiresome iteration was the old familiar one--the sale of American
ammunition to the Allies. I hardly ever met him that he did not speak
about it. He was constantly asking me to write to President Wilson,
urging him to declare an embargo; of course, my contention that the
commerce in munitions was entirely legitimate made no impression. As the
struggle at the Dardanelles became more intense, Wangenheim’s insistence
on the subject of American ammunition grew. He asserted that most of the
shells used at the Dardanelles had been made in America and that the
United States was really waging war on Turkey.

One day, more angry than usual, he brought me a piece of shell. On it
clearly appeared the inscription “B.S.Co.”

“Look at that!” he said. “I suppose you know what ‘B.S.Co.’ means? That
is the Bethlehem Steel Company! This will make the Turks furious. And
remember that we are going to hold the United States responsible for it.
We are getting more and more proof, and we are going to hold you to
account for every death caused by American shells. If you would only
write home and make them stop selling ammunition to our enemies, the war
would be over very soon.”

I made the usual defense, and called Wangenheim’s attention to the fact
that Germany had sold munitions to Spain in the Spanish War, but all
this was to no purpose. All that Wangenheim saw was that American
supplies formed an asset to his enemy; the legalities of the situation
did not interest him. Of course I refused point blank to write to the
President about the matter.

A few days afterward an article appeared in the _Ikdam_ discussing
Turkish and American relations. This contribution, for the greater part,
was extremely complimentary to America; its real purpose, however, was
to contrast the present with the past, and to point out that our action
in furnishing ammunition to Turkey’s enemies was hardly in accordance
with the historic friendship between the two countries. The whole thing
was evidently written merely to get before the Turkish people a
statement almost parenthetically included in the final paragraph.
“According to the report of correspondents at the Dardanelles it appears
that most of the shells fired by the British and French during the last
bombardment were made in America.” At this time the German Embassy
controlled the _Ikdam_, and was conducting it entirely in the interest
of German propaganda. A statement of this sort, instilled into the minds
of impressionable and fanatical Turks, might have the most deplorable
consequences. I therefore took the matter up immediately with the man
whom I regarded as chiefly responsible for the attack--the German
Ambassador.

At first Wangenheim asserted his innocence; he was as bland as a child
in protesting his ignorance of the whole affair. I called his attention
to the fact that the statements in the _Ikdam_ were almost identically
the same as those which he had made to me a few days before; that the
language in certain spots, indeed, was almost a repetition of his own
conversation.

“Either you wrote that article yourself,” I said, “or you called in the
reporter and gave him the leading ideas.”

Wangenheim saw that there was no use in further denying the authorship.

“Well,” he said, throwing back his head, “what are you going to do about
it?”

This Tweed-like attitude rather nettled me and I resented it on the
spot.

“I’ll tell you what I am going to do about it,” I replied, “and you know
that I will be able to carry out my threats. Either you stop stirring up
anti-American feeling in Turkey or I shall start a campaign of
anti-German sentiment here.

“You know, Baron,” I added, “that you Germans are skating on very thin
ice in this country. You know that the Turks don’t love you any too
well. In fact, you know that Americans are more popular here than you
are. Supposing that I go out, tell the Turks how you are simply using
them for your own benefit--that you do not really regard them as your
allies, but merely as pawns in the game which you are playing. Now, in
stirring up anti-American feeling here you are touching my softest spot.
You are exposing our educational and religious institutions to the
attacks of the Turks. No one knows what they may do if they are
persuaded that their relatives are being shot down by American bullets.
You stop this at once, or in three weeks I will fill the whole of Turkey
with animosity toward the Germans. It will be a battle between us, and I
am ready for it.”

Wangenheim’s attitude changed at once. He turned around, put his arm on
my shoulder, and assumed a most conciliatory, almost affectionate,
manner.

“Come, let us be friends,” he said. “I see that you are right about
this. I see that such attacks might injure your friends, the
missionaries. I promise you that they will be stopped.”

From that day the Turkish press never made the slightest unfriendly
allusion to the United States. The abruptness with which the attacks
ceased showed me that the Germans had evidently extended to Turkey one
of the most cherished expedients of the Fatherland--absolute government
control of the press. But when I think of the infamous plots which
Wangenheim was instigating at that moment, his objection to the use of a
few American shells by English battleships--if English battleships used
any such shells, which I seriously doubt--seems almost grotesque. In the
early days Wangenheim had explained to me one of Germany’s main purposes
in forcing Turkey into the conflict. He made this explanation quietly
and nonchalantly, as though it had been quite the most ordinary matter
in the world. Sitting in his office, puffing away at his big black
German cigar, he unfolded Germany’s scheme to arouse the whole fanatical
Moslem world against the Christians. Germany had planned a real “holy
war” as one means of destroying English and French influence in the
world. “Turkey herself is not the really important matter,” said
Wangenheim. “Her army is a small one, and we do not expect it to do very
much. For the most part it will act on the defensive. But the big thing
is the Moslem world. If we can stir the Mohammedans up against the
English and Russians, we can force them to make peace.”

What Wangenheim evidently meant by the “Big thing” became apparent on
November 13th, when the Sultan issued his declaration of war; this
declaration was really an appeal for a _Jihad_, or a “Holy War” against
the infidel. Soon afterward the Sheik-ul-Islam published his
proclamation, summoning the whole Moslem world to arise and massacre
their Christian oppressors. “Oh, Moslems!” concluded this document. “Ye
who are smitten with happiness and are on the verge of sacrificing your
life and your goods for the cause of right, and of braving perils,
gather now around the Imperial throne, obey the commands of the
Almighty, who, in the Koran, promises us bliss in this and in the next
world; embrace ye the foot of the Caliph’s throne and know ye that the
state is at war with Russia, England, France, and their Allies, and that
these are the enemies of Islam. The Chief of the believers, the Caliph,
invites you all as Moslems to join in the Holy War!”

The religious leaders read this proclamation to their assembled
congregations in the mosques; all the newspapers printed it
conspicuously; it was spread broadcast in all the countries which had
large Mohammedan populations--India, China, Persia, Egypt, Algiers,
Tripoli, Morocco, and the like; in all these places it was read to the
assembled multitudes and the populace was exhorted to obey the mandate.
The _Ikdam_, the Turkish newspaper which had passed into German
ownership, was constantly inciting the masses. “The deeds of our
enemies,” wrote this Turco-German editor, “have brought down the wrath
of God. A gleam of hope has appeared. All Mohammedans, young and old,
men, women, and children, must fulfil their duty so that the gleam may
not fade away, but give light to us forever. How many great things can
be accomplished by the arms of vigorous men, by the aid of others, of
women and children!... The time for action has come. We shall all have
to fight with all our strength, with all our soul, with teeth and nails,
with all the sinews of our bodies and of our spirits. If we do it, the
deliverance of the subjected Mohammedan kingdoms is assured. Then, if
God so wills, we shall march unashamed by the side of our friends who
send their greetings to the Crescent. Allah is our aid and the Prophet
is our support.”

The Sultan’s proclamation was an official public document, and dealt
with the proposed Holy War only in a general way, but about this same
time a secret pamphlet appeared which gave instructions to the faithful
in more specific terms. This paper was not read in the mosques; it was
distributed stealthily in all Mohammedan countries--India, Egypt,
Morocco, Syria, and many others; and it was significantly printed in
Arabic, the language of the Koran. It was a lengthy document--the
English translation contains 10,000 words--full of quotations from the
Koran, and its style was frenzied in its appeal to racial and religious
hatred. It described a detailed plan of operations for the assassination
and extermination of all Christians--except those of German nationality.
A few extracts will fairly portray its spirit: “O people of the faith
and O beloved Moslems, consider, even though but for a brief moment, the
present condition of the Islamic world. For if you consider this but for
a little you will weep long. You will behold a bewildering state of
affairs which will cause the tear to fall and the fire of grief to
blaze. You see the great country of India, which contains hundreds of
millions of Moslems, fallen, because of religious divisions and
weaknesses, into the grasp of the enemies of God, the infidel English.
You see forty millions of Moslems in Java shackled by the chains of
captivity and of affliction under the rule of the Dutch, although these
infidels are much fewer in number than the faithful and do not enjoy a
much higher civilization. You see Egypt, Morocco, Tunis, Algeria, and
the Sudan suffering the extremes of pain and groaning in the grasp of
the enemies of God and his apostle. You see the vast country of Siberia
and Turkestan and Khiva and Bokhara and the Caucasus and the Crimea and
Kazan and Ezferhan and Kosahastan, whose Moslem peoples believe in the
unity of God, ground under the feet of their oppressors, who are the
enemies already of our religion. You behold Persia being prepared for
partition and you see the city of the Caliphate, which for ages has
unceasingly fought breast to breast with the enemies of our religion,
now become the target for oppression and violence. Thus wherever you
look you see that the enemies of the true religion, particularly the
English, the Russian, and the French, have oppressed Islam and invaded
its rights in every possible way. We cannot enumerate the insults we
have received at the hands of these nations who desire totally to
destroy Islam and drive all Mohammedans off the face of the earth. This
tyranny has passed all endurable limits; the cup of our oppression is
full to overflowing.... In brief, the Moslems work and the infidels eat;
the Moslems are hungry and suffer and the infidels gorge themselves and
live in luxury. The world of Islam sinks down and goes backward, and the
Christian world goes forward and is more and more exalted. The Moslems
are enslaved and the infidels are the great rulers. This is all because
the Moslems have abandoned the plan set forth in the Koran and ignored
the Holy War which it commands.... But the time has now come for the
Holy War, and by this the land of Islam shall be forever freed from the
power of the infidels who oppress it. This holy war has now become a
sacred duty. Know ye that the blood of infidels in the Islamic lands may
be shed with impunity--except those to whom the Moslem power has
promised security and who are allied with it. [Herein we find that
Germans and Austrians are excepted from massacre.] The killing of
infidels who rule over Islam has become a sacred duty, whether you do it
secretly or openly, as the Koran has decreed: ‘Take them and kill them
whenever you find them. Behold we have delivered them unto your hands
and given you supreme power over them.’ He who kills even one
unbeliever of those who rule over us, whether he does it secretly or
openly, shall be rewarded by God. And let every Moslem, in whatever part
of the world he may be, swear a solemn oath to kill at least three or
four of the infidels who rule over him, for they are the enemies of God
and of the faith. Let every Moslem know that his reward for doing so
shall be doubled by the God who created heaven and earth. A Moslem who
does this shall be saved from the terrors of the day of Judgment, of the
resurrection of the dead. Who is the man who can refuse such a
recompense for such a small deed?... Yet the time has come that we
should rise up as the rising of one man, in one hand a sword, in the
other a gun, in his pocket balls of fire and death-dealing missiles, and
in his heart the light of the faith, and that we should lift up our
voices, saying--India for the Indian Moslems, Java for the Javanese
Moslems, Algeria for the Algerian Moslems, Morocco for the Moroccan
Moslems, Tunis for the Tunisan Moslems, Egypt for the Egyptian Moslems,
Iran for the Iranian Moslems, Turan for the Turanian Moslems, Bokhara
for the Bokharan Moslems, Caucasus for the Caucasian Moslems, and the
Ottoman Empire for the Ottoman Turks and Arabs.”

Specific instructions for carrying out this holy purpose follow. There
shall be a “heart war”--every follower of the Prophet, that is, shall
constantly nourish in his spirit a hatred of the infidel; a “speech
war”--with tongue and pen every Moslem shall spread this same hatred
wherever Mohammedans live; and a war of deed--fighting and killing the
infidel wherever he shows his head. This latter conflict, says the
pamphlet, is the “true war.” There is to be a “little holy war” and a
“great holy war”; the first describes the battle which every Mohammedan
is to wage in his community against his Christian neighbours, and the
second is the great world struggle which united Islam, in India, Arabia,
Turkey, Africa, and other countries is to wage against the infidel
oppressors. “The Holy War,” says the pamphlet, “will be of three forms.
First, the individual war, which consists of the individual personal
deed. This may be carried on with cutting, killing instruments, like the
holy war which one of the faithful made against Peter Galy, the infidel
English governor, like the slaying of the English chief of police in
India, and like the killing of one of the officials arriving in Mecca by
Abi Busir (may God be pleased with him).” The document gives several
other instances of assassination which the faithful are enjoined to
imitate. Second, the believers are told to organize “bands,” and to go
forth and slay Christians. The most useful are those organized and
operating in secret. “It is hoped that the Islamic world of to-day will
profit very greatly from such secret bands.” The third method is by
“organized campaigns,” that is, by trained armies.

In all parts of this incentive to murder and assassination there are
indications that a German hand has exercised an editorial supervision.
Only those infidels are to be slain, “who rule over us”--that is, those
who have Mohammedan subjects. As Germany has no such subjects, this
saving clause was expected to protect Germans from assault. The Germans,
with their usual interest in their own well-being and their usual
disregard of their ally, evidently overlooked the fact that Austria had
many Mohammedan subjects in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Moslems are
instructed that they should form armies, “even though it may be
necessary to introduce some foreign elements”--that is, bring in German
instructors and German officers. “You must remember”--this is evidently
intended as a blanket protection to Germans everywhere--”that it is
absolutely unlawful to oppose any of the peoples of other religions
between whom and the Moslems there is a covenant or of those who have
not manifested hostility to the seat of the Caliphate or those who have
entered under the protection of the Moslems.”

Even though I had not had Wangenheim’s personal statement that the
Germans intended to arouse the Mohammedans everywhere against England,
France, and Russia, these interpolations would clearly enough have
indicated the real inspiration of this amazing document. At the time
Wangenheim discussed the matter with me, his chief idea seemed to be
that a “holy war” of this sort would be the quickest means of forcing
England to make peace. According to this point of view, it was really a
great peace offensive. At that time Wangenheim reflected the conviction,
which was prevalent in all official circles, that Germany had made a
mistake in bringing England into the conflict, and it was evidently his
idea now that if back fires could be started against England in India,
Egypt, the Sudan, and other places, the British Empire would withdraw.
Even if British Mohammedans refused to rise, Wangenheim believed that
the mere threat of such an uprising would induce England to abandon
Belgium and France to their fate. The danger of spreading such
incendiary literature among a wildly fanatical people is apparent. I was
not the only neutral diplomat who feared the most serious consequences.
M. Tocheff, the Bulgarian Minister, one of the ablest members of the
diplomatic corps, was much disturbed. At that time Bulgaria was neutral,
and M. Tocheff used to tell me that his country hoped to maintain this
neutrality. Each side, he said, expected that Bulgaria would become its
ally, and it was Bulgaria’s policy to keep each side in this expectant
frame of mind. Should Germany succeed in starting a “Holy War” and
should massacres result, Bulgaria, added M. Tocheff, would certainly
join forces with the Entente.

We arranged that he should call upon Wangenheim and repeat this
statement, and that I should bring similar pressure to bear upon Enver.
From the first, however, the Holy War proved a failure. The Mohammedans
of such countries as India, Egypt, Algiers, and Morocco knew that they
were getting far better treatment than they could obtain under any other
conceivable conditions. Moreover, the simple-minded Mohammedans could
not understand why they should prosecute a holy war against Christians
and at the same time have Christian nations, such as Germany and
Austria, as their partners. This association made the whole proposition
ridiculous. The Koran, it is true, commands the slaughter of Christians,
but that sacred volume makes no exception in favour of the Germans and,
in the mind of the fanatical Mohammedan, a German _rayah_ is as much
Christian dirt as an Englishman or a Frenchman, and his massacre is just
as meritorious an act. The fine distinctions necessitated by European
diplomacy he understands about as completely as he understands the law
of gravitation or the nebular hypothesis. The German failure to take
this into account is only another evidence of the fundamental German
clumsiness and real ignorance of racial psychology. The only tangible
fact that stands out clearly is the Kaiser’s desire to let loose
300,000,000 Mohammedans in a gigantic St. Bartholomew massacre of
Christians.

Was there then no “holy war” at all? Did Wangenheim’s “Big Thing” really
fail? Whenever I think of this burlesque _Jihad_ a particular scene in
the American Embassy comes to my mind. On one side of the table sits
Enver, most peacefully sipping tea and eating cakes, and on the other
side is myself, engaged in the same unwarlike occupation. It is November
14th, the day after the Sultan has declared his holy war; there have
been meetings at the mosques and other places, at which the declaration
has been read and fiery speeches made. Enver now assures me that
absolutely no harm will come to Americans; in fact, that there will be
no massacres anyway. While he is talking, one of my secretaries comes in
and tells me that a little mob is making demonstrations against certain
foreign establishments. It has assailed an Austrian shop which has
unwisely kept up its sign saying that it has “English clothes” for sale.
I ask Enver what this means; he answers that it is all a mistake; there
is no intention of attacking anybody. A little while after he leaves I
am informed that the mob has attacked the Bon Marché, a French dry-goods
store, and is heading directly for the British Embassy. I at once call
Enver on the telephone; it is all right, he says, nothing will happen to
the embassy. A minute or two after, the mob immediately wheels about and
starts for Tokatlian’s, the most important restaurant in
Constantinople. The fact that this is conducted by an Armenian makes it
fair game. Six men who have poles, with hooks at the end, break all the
mirrors and windows, others take the marble tops of the tables and smash
them to bits. In a few minutes the place has been completely gutted.

This demonstration comprised the “Holy War,” so far as Constantinople
understood it. Such was the inglorious end of Germany’s attempt to
arouse 300,000,000 Mohammedans against the Christian world! Only one
definite result did the Kaiser accomplish by spreading this inciting
literature. It aroused in the Mohammedan soul all that intense animosity
toward the Christian which is the fundamental fact in his strange
emotional nature, and thus started passions aflame that afterward spent
themselves in the massacres of the Armenians and other subject peoples.



CHAPTER XV

DJEMAL, A TROUBLESOME MARK ANTONY--THE FIRST GERMAN ATTEMPT TO GET A
GERMAN PEACE


In early November, 1914, the railroad station at Haidar Pasha was the
scene of a great demonstration. Djemal, the Minister of Marine, one of
the three men who were then most powerful in the Turkish Empire, was
leaving to take command of the Fourth Turkish Army, which had its
headquarters in Syria. All the members of the Cabinet and other
influential people in Constantinople assembled to give this departing
satrap an enthusiastic farewell. They hailed him as the “Saviour of
Egypt,” and Djemal himself, just before his train started, made this
public declaration:

“I shall not return to Constantinople until I have conquered Egypt!”

The whole performance seemed to me to be somewhat bombastic. Inevitably
it called to mind the third member of another bloody triumvirate who,
nearly two thousand years before, had left his native land to become the
supreme dictator of the East. And Djemal had many characteristics in
common with Mark Antony. Like his Roman predecessor, his private life
was profligate; like Antony, he was an insatiate gambler, spending much
of his leisure over the card table at the Cercle d’Orient. Another trait
which he had in common with the great Roman orator was his enormous
vanity. The Turkish world seemed to be disintegrating in Djemal’s time,
just as the Roman Republic was dissolving in the days of Antony; Djemal
believed that he might himself become the heir of one or more of its
provinces and possibly establish a dynasty. He expected that the
military expedition on which he was now starting would make him not only
the conqueror of Turkey’s fairest province, but also one of the powerful
figures of the world. Afterward, in Syria, he ruled as independently as
a medieval robber baron--whom in other details he resembled; he became a
kind of sub-sultan, holding his own court, having his own selamlik,
issuing his own orders, dispensing freely his own kind of justice, and
often disregarding the authorities at Constantinople.

The applause with which Djemal’s associates were speeding his departure
was not entirely disinterested. The fact was that most of them were
exceedingly glad to see him go. He had been a thorn in the side of
Talaat and Enver for some time, and they were perfectly content that he
should exercise his imperious and stubborn nature against the Syrians,
Armenians, and other non-Moslem elements in the Mediterranean provinces.
Djemal was not a popular man in Constantinople. The other members of the
triumvirate, in addition to their less desirable qualities, had certain
attractive traits--Talaat, his rough virility and spontaneous good
nature, Enver, his courage and personal graciousness--but there was
little about Djemal that was pleasing. An American physician who had
specialized in the study of physiognomy had found Djemal a fascinating
subject. He told me that he had never seen a face that so combined
ferocity with great power and penetration. Enver, as his history showed,
could be cruel and bloodthirsty, but he hid his more insidious
qualities under a face that was bland, unruffled, and even agreeable.
Djemal, however, did not disguise his tendencies, for his face clearly
pictured the inner soul. His eyes were black and piercing; their
sharpness, the rapidity and keenness with which they darted from one
object to another, taking in apparently everything with a few
lightning-like glances, signalized cunning, remorselessness, and
selfishness to an extreme degree. Even his laugh, which disclosed all
his white teeth, was unpleasant and animal-like. His black hair and
black beard, contrasting with his pale face, only heightened this
impression. At first Djemal’s figure seemed somewhat insignificant--he
was undersized, almost stumpy, and somewhat stoop-shouldered; as soon as
he began to move, however, it was evident that his body was full of
energy. Whenever he shook your hand, gripping you with a vise-like grasp
and looking at you with those roving, penetrating eyes, the man’s
personal force became impressive.

Yet, after a momentary meeting, I was not surprised to hear that Djemal
was a man with whom assassination and judicial murder were all part of
the day’s work. Like all the Young Turks his origin had been extremely
humble. He had joined the Committee of Union and Progress in the early
days, and his personal power, as well as his relentlessness, had rapidly
made him one of the leaders. After the murder of Nazim, Djemal had
become Military Governor of Constantinople, his chief duty in this post
being to remove from the scene the opponents of the ruling powers. This
congenial task he performed with great skill, and the reign of terror
that resulted was largely Djemal’s handiwork. Subsequently Djemal
became a member of the Cabinet, but he could not work harmoniously with
his associates; he was always a troublesome partner. In the days
preceding the break with the Entente he was popularly regarded as a
Francophile. Whatever feeling Djemal may have entertained toward the
Entente, he made little attempt to conceal his detestation of the
Germans. It is said that he would swear at them in their presence--in
Turkish, of course; and he was one of the few important Turkish
officials who never came under their influence. The fact was that Djemal
represented that tendency which was rapidly gaining the ascendancy in
Turkish policy--Pan-Turkism. He despised the subject peoples of the
Ottoman country--Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Circassians, Jews; it was his
determination to Turkify the whole empire. His personal ambition brought
him into frequent conflict with Enver and Talaat, who told me many times
that they could not control him. It was for this reason that, as I have
said, they were glad to see him go--not that they really expected him to
capture the Suez Canal and drive the English out of Egypt. Incidentally,
this appointment fairly indicated the incongruous organization that then
existed in Turkey. As Minister of Marine, Djemal’s real place was at the
Navy Department; instead of working in his official field the head of
the navy was sent to lead an army over the burning sands of Syria and
Sinai.

Yet Djemal’s expedition represented Turkey’s most spectacular attempt to
assert its military power against the Allies. As Djemal moved out of the
station, the whole Turkish populace felt that an historic moment had
arrived. Turkey in less than a century had lost the greater part of her
dominions, and nothing had more pained the national pride than the
English occupation of Egypt. All during this occupation, Turkish
suzerainty had been recognized; as soon as Turkey declared war on Great
Britain, however, the British had ended this fiction and had formally
taken over this great province. Djemal’s expedition was Turkey’s reply
to this act of England. The real purpose of the war, the Turkish people
had been told, was to restore the vanishing empire of the Osmans, and to
this great undertaking the recovery of Egypt was merely the first step.
The Turks also knew that, under English administration, Egypt had become
a prosperous country and that it would, therefore, yield great treasure
to the conqueror. It is no wonder that the huzzahs of the Turkish people
followed the departing Djemal.

About the same time Enver left to take command of Turkey’s other great
military enterprise--the attack on Russia through the Caucasus. Here
also were Turkish provinces to be “redeemed.” After the war of 1878,
Turkey had been compelled to cede to Russia certain rich territories
between the Caspian and the Black seas, inhabited chiefly by Armenians,
and it was this country which Enver now proposed to reconquer. But Enver
had no ovation on his leaving. He went away quietly and unobserved. With
the departure of these two men the war was now fairly on.

Despite these martial enterprises, other than warlike preparations were
now under way in Constantinople. At that time--in the latter part of
1914--its external characteristics suggested nothing but war, yet now it
suddenly became the great headquarters of peace. The English fleet was
constantly threatening the Dardanelles and every day Turkish troops
were passing through the streets. Yet these activities did not chiefly
engage the attention of the German Embassy. Wangenheim was thinking of
one thing and of one thing only; this fire-eating German had suddenly
become a man of peace. For he now learned that the greatest service
which a German ambassador could render his emperor would be to end the
war on terms that would save Germany from exhaustion and even from ruin;
to obtain a settlement that would reinstate his fatherland in the
society of nations.

In November, Wangenheim began discussing this subject. It was part of
Germany’s system, he told me, not only to be completely prepared for war
but also for peace. “A wise general, when he begins his campaign, always
has at hand his plans for a retreat, in case he is defeated,” said the
German Ambassador. “This principle applies just the same to a nation
beginning war. There is only one certainty about war--and that is that
it must end some time. So, when we plan war, we must consider also a
campaign for peace.”

But Wangenheim was interested then in something more tangible than this
philosophic principle. Germany had immediate reasons for desiring the
end of hostilities, and Wangenheim discussed them frankly and cynically.
He said that Germany had prepared for only a short war, because she had
expected to crush France and Russia in two brief campaigns, lasting not
longer than six months. Clearly this plan had failed and there was
little likelihood that Germany would win the war; Wangenheim told me
this in so many words. Germany, he added, would make a great mistake if
she persisted in fighting to the point of

[Illustration: THE BRITISH EMBASSY

This establishment and many others came under Mr. Morgenthau’s
protection when Turkey entered the war. At one time the American
Ambassador represented ten nations at the Sublime Porte.]

[Illustration: ROBERT COLLEGE AT CONSTANTINOPLE

Founded by Americans more than fifty years ago. Turkey’s best
educational institution and the place where many of the intellectual
leaders of the Balkans have received their education.]

exhaustion, for such a fight would mean the permanent loss of her
colonies, her mercantile marine, and her whole economic and commercial
status. “If we don’t get Paris in thirty days, we are beaten,”
Wangenheim had told me in August, and though his attitude changed
somewhat after the battle of the Marne, he made no attempt to conceal
the fact that the great rush campaign had collapsed, that all the
Germans could now look forward to was a tedious, exhausting war, and
that all they could obtain from the existing situation would be a drawn
battle. “We have made a mistake this time,” Wangenheim said, “in not
laying in supplies for a protracted struggle; it was an error, however,
that we shall not repeat; next time we shall store up enough copper and
cotton to last for five years.”

Wangenheim had another reason for wishing an immediate peace, and it was
a reason which shed much light upon the shamelessness of German
diplomacy. The preparation which Turkey was making for the conquest of
Egypt caused this German ambassador much annoyance and anxiety. The
interest and energy which the Turks had manifested in this enterprise
were particularly giving him concern. Naturally I thought at first that
Wangenheim was worried that Turkey would lose; yet he confided to me
that his real fear was that his ally might succeed. A victorious Turkish
campaign in Egypt, Wangenheim explained, might seriously interfere with
Germany’s plans. Should Turkey conquer Egypt, naturally Turkey would
insist at the peace table on retaining this great province and would
expect Germany to support her in this claim. But Germany had no
intention then of promoting the reëstablishment of the Turkish Empire.
At that time she hoped to reach an understanding with England, the
basis of which was to be something in the nature of a division of
interests in the East. Germany desired above all to obtain Mesopotamia
as an indispensable part of her Hamburg-Bagdad scheme. In return for
this, she was prepared to give her endorsement to England’s annexation
of Egypt. Thus it was Germany’s plan at that time that she and England
should divide Turkey’s two fairest dominions. This was one of the
proposals which Germany intended to bring forth in the peace conference
which Wangenheim was now scheming for, and clearly Turkey’s conquest of
Egypt would have presented complications in the way of carrying out this
plan. On the morality of Germany’s attitude to her ally, Turkey, it is
hardly necessary to comment. The whole thing was all of a piece with
Germany’s policy of “realism” in foreign relations.

Nearly all German classes, in the latter part of 1914 and the early part
of 1915, were anxiously looking for peace and they turned to
Constantinople as the most promising spot where peace negotiations might
most favourably be started. The Germans took it for granted that
President Wilson would be the peacemaker; indeed, they never for a
moment thought of any one else in this capacity. The only point that
remained for consideration was the best way to approach the President.
Such negotiations would most likely be conducted through one of the
American ambassadors in Europe. Obviously, Germany had no means of
access to the American ambassadors in the great enemy capitals, and
other circumstances induced the German statesmen to turn to the American
Ambassador in Turkey.

At this time a German diplomat appeared in Constantinople who has
figured much in recent history--Dr. Richard von Kühlmann, afterward
Minister for Foreign Affairs. In the last five years Dr. Von Kühlmann
has seemed to appear in that particular part of the world where
important confidential diplomatic negotiations are being conducted by
the German Empire. Prince Lichnowsky has described his activities in
London in 1913 and 1914, and he figured even more conspicuously in the
infamous peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Soon after the war started Dr.
Von Kühlmann came to Constantinople as Conseiller of the German Embassy,
succeeding Von Mutius, who had been called to the colours. For one
reason his appointment was appropriate, for Kühlmann had been born in
Constantinople, and had spent his early life there, his father having
been president of the Anatolian railway. He therefore understood the
Turks as only one can who has lived with them for many years.
Personally, he proved to be an interesting addition to the diplomatic
colony. He impressed me as not a particularly aggressive, but a very
entertaining, man; he apparently wished to become friendly with the
American Embassy and he possessed a certain attraction for us all as he
had just come from the trenches and gave us many vivid pictures of life
at the front. At that time we were all keenly interested in modern
warfare, and Kühlmann’s details of trench fighting held us spellbound
many an afternoon and evening. His other favourite topic of conversation
was _Welt-Politik_, and on all foreign matters he struck me as
remarkably well informed. At that time we did not regard Von Kühlmann as
an important man, yet the industry with which he attended to his
business attracted everyone’s attention even then. Soon, however, I
began to have a feeling that he was exerting a powerful influence in a
quiet, velvety kind of way. He said little, but I realized that he was
listening to everything and storing all kinds of information away in his
mind; he was apparently Wangenheim’s closest confidant, and the man upon
whom the Ambassador was depending for his contact with the German
Foreign Office. About the middle of December, Von Kühlmann left for
Berlin, where he stayed about two weeks. On his return, in the early
part of January, 1915, there was a noticeable change in the atmosphere
of the German Embassy. Up to that time Wangenheim had discussed peace
negotiations more or less informally, but now he took up the matter
specifically. I gathered that Kühlmann had been called to Berlin to
receive all the latest details on this subject, and that he had come
back with the definite instructions that Wangenheim should move at once.
In all my talks with the German Ambassador on peace, Kühlmann was always
hovering in the background; at one most important conference he was
present, though he participated hardly at all in the conversation, but
his rôle, as usual, was that of a subordinate and quietly eager
listener.

Wangenheim now informed me that January, 1915, would be an excellent
time to end the war. Italy had not yet entered, though there was every
reason to believe that she would do so by spring. Bulgaria and Rumania
were still holding aloof, though no one expected that their waiting
attitude would last forever. France and England were preparing for the
first of the “spring offensives,” and the Germans had no assurance that
it would not succeed; indeed, they much feared that the German armies
would meet disaster. The British and French warships were gathering at
the Dardanelles; and the German General Staff and practically all
military and naval experts in Constantinople believed that the Allied
fleets could force their way through and capture the city. Most Turks by
this time were sick of the war, and Germany always had in mind that
Turkey might make a separate peace. Afterward I discovered that whenever
the military situation looked ominous to Germany, she was always
thinking about peace, but that if the situation improved she would
immediately become warlike again; it was a case of sick-devil,
well-devil. Yet, badly as Wangenheim wanted peace in January, 1915, it
was quite apparent that he was not thinking of a permanent peace. The
greatest obstacle to peace at that time was the fact that Germany showed
no signs that she regretted her crimes, and there was not the slightest
evidence of the sackcloth in Wangenheim’s attitude now. Germany had made
a bad guess, that was all; what Wangenheim and the other Germans saw in
the situation was that their stock of wheat, cotton, and copper was
inadequate for a protracted struggle. In my notes of my conversations
with Wangenheim I find him frequently using such phrases as the “next
war,” “next time,” and, in confidently looking forward to another
greater world cataclysm than the present, he merely reflected the
attitude of the dominant junker-military class. The Germans apparently
wanted a reconciliation--a kind of an armistice--that would give their
generals and industrial leaders time to prepare for the next conflict.
At that time, nearly four years ago, Germany was moving for practically
the same kind of peace negotiations which she has suggested many times
since and is suggesting now; Wangenheim’s plan was that representatives
of the warring powers should gather around a table and settle things on
the principle of “give and take.” He said that there was no sense in
demanding that each side state its terms in advance.

“For both sides to state their terms in advance would ruin the whole
thing,” he said. “What would we do? Germany, of course, would make
claims which the other side would regard as ridiculously extravagant.
The Entente would state terms which would put all Germany in a rage. As
a result, both sides would get so angry that there would be no
conference. No--if we really want to end this war we must have an
armistice. Once we stop fighting, we shall not go at it again. History
presents no instance in a great war where an armistice has not resulted
in peace. It will be so in this case.”

Yet, from Wangenheim’s conversation I did obtain a slight inkling of
Germany’s terms. The matter of Egypt and Mesopotamia, set forth above,
was one of them. Wangenheim was quite insistent that Germany must have
permanent naval bases in Belgium, with which her navy could at all times
threaten England with blockade and so make sure “the freedom of the
seas.” Germany wanted coaling rights everywhere; this demand looks
absurd because Germany has always possessed such rights in peace times.
She might give France a piece of Lorraine and a part of Belgium--perhaps
Brussels--in return for the payment of an indemnity.

Wangenheim requested that I should place Germany’s case before the
American Government. My letter to Washington is dated January 11, 1915.
It went fully into the internal situation which then prevailed and gave
the reasons why Germany and Turkey desired peace.

A particularly interesting part of this incident was that Germany was
apparently ignoring Austria. Pallavicini, the Austrian Ambassador, knew
nothing of the pending negotiations until I myself informed him of them.
In thus ignoring his ally, the German Ambassador meant no personal
disrespect; he was merely treating him precisely as his Foreign Office
was treating Vienna--not as an equal, but practically as a retainer. The
world is familiar enough with Germany’s military and diplomatic
absorption of Austria-Hungary, but that Wangenheim should have made so
important a move as to attempt peace negotiations and have left it to
Pallavicini to learn about it through a third party shows that, as far
back as January, 1915, the Austro-Hungarian Empire had ceased to be an
independent nation.

Nothing came of this proposal, of course. Our Government declined to
take action, evidently not regarding the time as opportune. Both Germany
and Turkey, as I shall tell, recurred to this subject afterward. This
particular negotiation ended in the latter part of March, when Kühlmann
left Constantinople to become Minister at The Hague. He came and paid
his farewell call at the American Embassy, as charming, as entertaining,
and as debonair as ever. His last words, as he shook my hand and left
the building, were--subsequent events have naturally caused me to
remember them:

“We shall have peace within three months, Excellency!”

This little scene took place, and this happy forecast was made, in
March, 1915!



CHAPTER XVI

THE TURKS PREPARE TO FLEE FROM CONSTANTINOPLE AND ESTABLISH A NEW
CAPITAL IN ASIA MINOR--THE ALLIED FLEET BOMBARDING THE DARDANELLES


Probably one thing that stimulated this German desire for peace was the
situation at the Dardanelles. In early January, when Wangenheim
persuaded me to write my letter to Washington, Constantinople was in a
state of the utmost excitement. It was reported that the Allies had
assembled a fleet of forty warships at the mouth of the Dardanelles and
that they intended to attempt the forcing of the straits. What made the
situation particularly tense was the belief, which then generally
prevailed in Constantinople, that such an attempt would succeed.
Wangenheim shared this belief, and so in a modified form, did Von der
Goltz, who probably knew as much about the Dardanelles defenses as any
other man, as he had for years been Turkey’s military instructor. I find
in my diary Von der Goltz’s precise opinion on this point, as reported
to me by Wangenheim, and I quote it exactly as written at that time:
“Although he thought it was almost impossible to force the Dardanelles,
still, if England thought it an important move of the general war, they
could, by sacrificing ten ships, force the entrance, and do it very
fast, and be up in the Marmora within ten hours from the time they
forced it.”

[Illustration: THE AMERICAN EMBASSY STAFF

under the Ambassadorship of Mr. Morgenthau.]

[Illustration: THE MODERN TURKISH SOLDIER

In the uniform and equipment introduced by the Germans. The fez--the
immemorial symbol of the Ottoman--is replaced by a modern helmet.]

The very day that Wangenheim gave me this expert opinion of Von der
Goltz, he asked me to store several cases of his valuables in the
American Embassy. Evidently he was making preparations for his own
departure.

Reading the Cromer report on the Dardanelles bombardment, I find that
Admiral Sir John Fisher, then First Sea Lord, placed the price of
success at twelve ships. Evidently Von der Goltz and Fisher did not
differ materially in their estimates.

The situation of Turkey, when these first rumours of an allied
bombardment reached us, was fairly desperate. On all sides there were
evidences of the fear and panic that had stricken not only the populace,
but the official classes. Calamities from all sides were apparently
closing in on the country. Up to January 1, 1915, Turkey had done
nothing to justify her participation in the war; on the contrary, she
had met defeat practically everywhere. Djemal, as already recorded, had
left Constantinople as the prospective “Conqueror of Egypt,” but his
expedition had proved to be a bloody and humiliating failure. Enver’s
attempt to redeem the Caucasus from Russian rule had resulted in an even
more frightful military disaster. He had ignored the advice of the
Germans, which was to let the Russians advance to Sivas and make his
stand there, and, instead, he had boldly attempted to gain Russian
territory in the Caucasus. This army had been defeated at every point,
but the military reverses did not end its sufferings. The Turks had a
most inadequate medical and sanitary service; typhus and dysentery broke
out in all the camps, the deaths from these diseases reaching 100,000
men. Dreadful stories were constantly coming in, telling of the
sufferings of these soldiers. That England was preparing for an invasion
of Mesopotamia was well known, and no one at that time had any reason to
believe that it would not succeed. Every day the Turks expected the news
that the Bulgarians had declared war and were marching on
Constantinople, and they knew that such an attack would necessarily
bring in Rumania and Greece. It was no diplomatic secret that Italy was
waiting only for the arrival of warm weather to join the Allies. At this
moment the Russian fleet was bombarding Trebizond, on the Black Sea, and
was daily expected at the entrance to the Bosphorus. Meanwhile, the
domestic situation was deplorable: all over Turkey thousands of the
populace were daily dying of starvation; practically all able-bodied men
had been taken into the army, so that only a few were left to till the
fields; the criminal requisitions had almost destroyed all business; the
treasury was in a more exhausted state than normally, for the closing of
the Dardanelles and the blockading of the Mediterranean ports had
stopped all imports and customs dues; and the increasing wrath of the
people seemed likely any day to break out against Talaat and his
associates. And now, surrounded by increasing troubles on every hand,
the Turks learned that this mighty armada of England and her allies was
approaching, determined to destroy the defenses and capture the city. At
that time there was no force which the Turks feared so greatly as they
feared the British fleet. Its tradition of several centuries of
uninterrupted victories had completely seized their imagination. It
seemed to them superhuman--the one overwhelming power which it was
hopeless to contest.

Wangenheim and also nearly all of the German military and naval forces
not only regarded the forcing of the Dardanelles as possible, but they
believed it to be inevitable. The possibility of British success was one
of the most familiar topics of discussion, and the weight of opinion,
both lay and professional, inclined in favour of the Allied fleets.
Talaat told me that an attempt to force the straits would succeed--it
only depended on England’s willingness to sacrifice a few ships. The
real reason why Turkey had sent a force against Egypt, Talaat added, was
to divert England from making an attack on the Gallipoli peninsula. The
state of mind that existed is shown by the fact that, on January 1st,
the Turkish Government had made preparations for two trains, one of
which was to take the Sultan and his suite to Asia Minor, while the
other was intended for Wangenheim, Pallavicini, and the rest of the
diplomatic corps. On January 2d, I had an illuminating talk with
Pallavicini. He showed me a certificate given him by Bedri, the Prefect
of Police, passing him and his secretaries and servants on one of these
emergency trains. He also had seat tickets for himself and all of his
suite. He said that each train would have only three cars, so that it
could make great speed; he had been told to have everything ready to
start at an hour’s notice. Wangenheim made little attempt to conceal his
apprehensions. He told me that he had made all preparations to send his
wife to Berlin, and he invited Mrs. Morgenthau to accompany her, so that
she, too, could be removed from the danger zone. Wangenheim showed the
fear, which was then the prevailing one, that a successful bombardment
would lead to fires and massacres in Constantinople as well as in the
rest of Turkey. In anticipation of such disturbances he made a
characteristic suggestion. Should the fleet pass the Dardanelles, he
said, the life of no Englishman in Turkey would be safe--they would all
be massacred. As it was so difficult to tell an Englishman from an
American, he proposed that I should give the Americans a distinctive
button to wear, which would protect them from Turkish violence. As I was
convinced that Wangenheim’s real purpose was to arrange some sure means
of identifying the English and of so subjecting them to Turkish
ill-treatment, I refused to act on this amiable suggestion.

Another incident illustrates the nervous tension which prevailed in
those January days. I noticed that some shutters at the British Embassy
were open, so Mrs. Morgenthau and I went up to investigate. In the early
days we had sealed this building, which had been left in my charge, and
this was the first time we had broken the seals to enter. About two
hours after we returned from this tour of inspection, Wangenheim came
into my office in one of his now familiar agitated moods. It had been
reported, he said, that Mrs. Morgenthau and I had been up to the Embassy
getting it ready for the British Admiral, who expected soon to take
possession!

All this seems a little absurd now, for, in fact, the Allied fleets made
no attack at that time. At the very moment when the whole of
Constantinople was feverishly awaiting the British dreadnaughts, the
British Cabinet in London was merely considering the advisability of
such an enterprise. The record shows that Petrograd, on January 2d,
telegraphed the British Government, asking that some kind of a
demonstration be made against the Turks, who were pressing the Russians
in the Caucasus. Though an encouraging reply was immediately sent to
this request, it was not until January 28th that the British Cabinet
definitely issued orders for an attack on the Dardanelles. It is no
longer a secret that there was no unanimous confidence in the success of
such an undertaking. Admiral Carden recorded his belief that the strait
“could not be rushed, but that extended operations with a large number
of ships might succeed.” The penalty of failure, he added, would be the
great loss that England would suffer in prestige and influence in the
East; how true this prophecy proved I shall have occasion to show. Up to
this time one of the fundamental and generally accepted axioms of naval
operations had been that warships should not attempt to attack fixed
land fortifications. But the Germans had demonstrated the power of
mobile guns against fortresses in their destruction of the emplacements
at Liége and Namur, and there was a belief in some quarters of England
that these events had modified this naval principle. Mr. Churchill, at
that time the head of the Admiralty, placed great confidence in the
destructive power of a new superdreadnaught which had just been
finished--the _Queen Elizabeth_--and which was then on its way to join
the Mediterranean fleet.

We in Constantinople knew nothing about these deliberations then, but
the result became apparent in the latter part of February. On the
afternoon of the nineteenth, Pallavicini, the Austrian Ambassador, came
to me with important news. The Marquis was a man of great personal
dignity, yet it was apparent that he was this day exceedingly nervous,
and, indeed, he made no attempt to conceal his apprehension. The Allied
fleets, he said, had reopened their attack on the Dardanelles, and this
time their bombardment had been extremely ferocious. At that hour things
were going badly for the Austrians; the Russian armies were advancing
victoriously; Serbia had hurled the Austrians over the frontier, and the
European press was filled with prognostications of the break up of the
Austrian Empire. Pallavicini’s attitude this afternoon was a perfect
reflection of the dangers that were then encompassing his country. He
was a sensitive and proud man; proud of his emperor and proud of what he
regarded as the great Austro-Hungarian Empire; and he now appeared to be
overburdened by the fear that this extensive Hapsburg fabric, which had
withstood the assaults of so many centuries, was rapidly being
overwhelmed with ruin. Like most human beings, Pallavicini yearned for
sympathy; he could obtain none from Wangenheim, who seldom took him into
his confidence and consistently treated him as the representative of a
nation that was compelled to submit to the overlordship of Germany.
Perhaps that was the reason why the Austrian Ambassador used to pour out
his heart to me. And now this Allied bombardment of the Dardanelles came
as the culmination of all his troubles. At this time the Central Powers
believed that they had Russia bottled up; that they had sealed the
Dardanelles, and that she could neither get her wheat to market nor
import the munitions needed for carrying on the war. Germany and Austria
thus had a stranglehold on their gigantic foe, and, if this condition
could be maintained indefinitely, the collapse of Russia would be
inevitable. At present, it is true, the Czar’s forces were making a
victorious campaign, and this in itself was sufficiently alarming to
Austria; but their present supplies of war materials would ultimately be
exhausted and then their great superiority in men would help them little
and they would inevitably go to pieces. But should Russia get
Constantinople, with the control of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus,
she could obtain all the munitions needed for warfare on the largest
scale, and the defeat of the Central Powers might immediately follow;
and such a defeat, Pallavicini well understood, would be far more
serious for Austria than for Germany. Wangenheim had told me that it was
Germany’s plan, in case the Austro-Hungarian Empire disintegrated, to
incorporate her 12,000,000 Germans in the Hohenzollern domain, and
Pallavicini, of course, was familiar with this danger. The Allied attack
on the Dardanelles thus meant to Pallavicini the extinction of his
country, for if we are properly to understand his state of mind we must
remember that he firmly believed, as did almost all the other important
men in Constantinople, that such an attack would succeed.

Wangenheim’s existence was made miserable by this same haunting
conviction. As I have already shown, the bottling up of Russia was
almost exclusively the German Ambassador’s performance. He had brought
the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ into Constantinople, and by this
manœuvre had precipitated Turkey into the war. The forcing of the
strait would mean more than the transformation of Russia into a
permanent and powerful participant in the war; it meant--and this was by
no means an unimportant consideration with Wangenheim--the undoing of
his great personal achievement. Yet Wangenheim showed his apprehensions
quite differently from Pallavicini. In true German fashion, he resorted
to threats and bravado. He gave no external signs of depression, but his
whole body tingled with rage. He was not deploring his fate; he was
looking for ways of striking back. He would sit in my office, smoking
with his usual energy, and tell me all the terrible things which he
proposed to do to his enemy. The thing that particularly preyed upon
Wangenheim’s mind was the exposed position of the German Embassy. It
stood on a high hill, one of the most conspicuous buildings in the town,
a perfect target for an enterprising English admiral. Almost the first
object the British fleet would sight, as it entered the harbour, would
be this yellow monument of the Hohenzollerns, and the temptation to
shell it might prove irresistible.

“Let them dare destroy my Embassy!” Wangenheim said. “I’ll get even with
them! If they fire a single shot at it, we’ll blow up the French and the
English embassies! Go tell the Admiral that, won’t you? Tell him also
that we have the dynamite all ready to do it!”

Wangenheim also showed great anxiety over the proposed removal of the
Government to Eski-Shehr. In early January, when everyone was expecting
the arrival of the Allied fleet, preparations had been made for moving
the Government to Asia Minor; and now, at the first rumbling of the
British and French guns, the special trains were prepared once more,
Wangenheim and Pallavicini both told me of their unwillingness to
accompany the Sultan and the Government to Asia Minor. Should the Allies
capture Constantinople, the ambassadors of the Central Powers would
find themselves cut off from their home countries and completely in the
hands of the Turks. “The Turks could then hold us as hostages,” said
Wangenheim. They urged Talaat to establish the emergency government at
Adrianople, from which town they could motor in and out of
Constantinople, and then, in case the city were captured, they could
make their escape home. The Turks, on the other hand, refused to adopt
this suggestion because they feared an attack from Bulgaria. Wangenheim
and Pallavicini now found themselves between two fires. If they stayed
in Constantinople, they might become prisoners of the English and
French; on the other hand, if they went to Eski-Shehr, it was not
unlikely that they would become prisoners of the Turks. Many evidences
of the flimsy basis on which rested the Germano-Turkish alliance had
come to my attention, but this was about the most illuminating.
Wangenheim knew, as did everybody else, that, in case the French and
English captured Constantinople, the Turks would vent their rage not
mainly against the Entente, but against the Germans who had enticed them
into the war.

It all seems so strange now, this conviction that was uppermost in the
minds of everybody then--that the success of the Allied fleets against
the Dardanelles was inevitable and that the capture of Constantinople
was a matter of only a few days. I recall an animated discussion that
took place at the American Embassy on the afternoon of February 24th.
The occasion was Mrs. Morgenthau’s weekly reception--meetings which
furnished almost the only opportunity in those days for the
foregathering of the diplomats. Practically all were on hand this
afternoon. The first great bombardment of the Dardanelles had taken
place five days before; this had practically destroyed the
fortifications at the mouth of the strait. There was naturally only one
subject of discussion: Would the Allied fleets get through? What would
happen if they did? Everybody expressed an opinion, Wangenheim,
Pallavicini, Garroni, the Italian Ambassador; D’Anckarsvard, the Swedish
Minister; Koloucheff, the Bulgarian Minister; Kühlmann; and
Scharfenberg, First Secretary of the German Embassy, and it was the
unanimous opinion that the Allied attack would succeed. I particularly
remember Kühlmann’s attitude. He discussed the capture of Constantinople
almost as though it was something which had taken place already. The
Persian Ambassador showed great anxiety; his embassy stood not far from
the Sublime Porte; he told me that he feared that the latter building
would be bombarded and that a few stray shots might easily set afire his
own residence, and he asked if he might move his archives to the
American Embassy. The wildest rumours were afloat; we were told that the
Standard Oil agent at the Dardanelles had counted seventeen transports
loaded with troops; that the warships had already fired 800 shots and
had levelled all the hills at the entrance; and that Talaat’s bodyguard
had been shot--the implication being that the bullet had missed its
intended victim. It was said that the whole Turkish populace was aflame
with the fear that the English and the French, when they reached the
city, would celebrate the event by a wholesale attack on Turkish women.
The latter reports were, of course, absurd; they were merely
characteristic rumours set afloat by the Germans and their Turkish
associates. The fact is that the great mass of the people in
Constantinople were probably praying that the Allied attack would
succeed and so release them from the control of the political gang that
then ruled the country.

And in all this excitement there was one lonely and despondent
figure--this was Talaat. Whenever I saw him in those critical days, he
was the picture of desolation and defeat. The Turks, like most primitive
peoples, wear their emotions on the surface, and with them the
transition from exultation to despair is a rapid one. The thunder of the
British guns at the straits apparently spelled doom to Talaat. The
letter carrier of Adrianople seemed to have reached the end of his
career. He again confided to me his expectation that the English would
capture the Turkish capital, and once more he said that he was sorry
that Turkey had entered the war. Talaat well knew what would happen as
soon as the Allied fleet entered the Sea of Marmora. According to the
report of the Cromer Commission, Lord Kitchener, in giving his assent to
a purely naval expedition, had relied upon a revolution in Turkey to
make the enterprise successful. Lord Kitchener has been much criticized
for his part in the Dardanelles attack; I owe it to his memory, however,
to say that on this point he was absolutely right. Had the Allied fleets
once passed the defenses at the straits, the administration of the Young
Turks would have come to a bloody end. As soon as the guns began to
fire, placards appeared on the hoardings, denouncing Talaat and his
associates as responsible for all the woes that had come to Turkey.
Bedri, the Prefect of Police, was busy collecting all the unemployed
young men and sending them out of the city; his purpose was to free
Constantinople of all who might start a revolution against the Young
Turks. It was a common report that Bedri feared this revolution much
more than he feared the British fleet. And this was the same Nemesis
that was every moment now pursuing Talaat.

A single episode illustrates the nervous excitement that prevailed. Dr.
Lederer, the correspondent of the _Berliner Tageblatt_, made a short
visit to the Dardanelles, and, on his return, reported to certain ladies
of the diplomatic circle that the German officers had told him that they
were wearing their shrouds, as they expected any minute to be buried
there. This statement went around the city like wild fire, and Dr.
Lederer was threatened with arrest for making it. He appealed to me for
help; I took him to Wangenheim, who refused to have anything to do with
him; Lederer, he said, was an Austrian subject, although he represented
a German newspaper. His anger at Lederer for this indiscretion was
extreme. But I finally succeeded in getting the unpopular journalist
into the Austrian Embassy, where he was harboured for the night. In a
few days, Lederer had to leave town.

In the midst of all this excitement, there was one person who was
apparently not at all disturbed. Though ambassadors, generals, and
politicians might anticipate the worst calamities, Enver’s voice was
reassuring and quiet. The man’s coolness and really courageous spirit
never shone to better advantage. In late December and January, when the
city had its first fright over the bombardment, Enver was fighting the
Russians in the Caucasus. His experiences in this campaign, as already
described, had been far from glorious. Enver had left Constantinople in
November to join his army, an expectant conqueror; he returned, in the
latter part of January, the commander of a thoroughly beaten and
demoralized force. Such a disastrous experience would have utterly
ruined almost any other military leader, and that Enver felt his
reverses keenly was evident from the way in which he kept himself from
public view. I had my first glimpse of him, after his return, at a
concert, given for the benefit of the Red Crescent. At this affair Enver
sat far back in a box, as though he intended to keep as much as possible
out of sight; it was quite apparent that he was uncertain as to the
cordiality of his reception by the public. All the important people in
Constantinople, the Crown Prince, the members of the Cabinet, and the
ambassadors attended this function, and, in accordance with the usual
custom, the Crown Prince sent for these dignitaries, one after another,
for a few words of greeting and congratulation. After that the visiting
from box to box became general. The heir to the throne sent for Enver as
well as the rest, and this recognition evidently gave him a new courage,
for he began to mingle with the diplomats, who also treated him with the
utmost cordiality and courtesy. Enver apparently regarded this
favourable notice as having reëstablished his standing, and now once
more he assumed a leading part in the crisis. A few days afterward he
discussed the situation with me. He was much astonished, he said, at the
fear that so generally prevailed, and he was disgusted at the
preparations that had been made to send away the Sultan and the
Government and practically leave the city a prey to the English. He did
not believe that the Allied fleets could force the Dardanelles; he had
recently inspected all the fortifications and he had every confidence in
their ability to resist successfully. Even though the ships did get
through, he insisted that Constantinople should be defended to the last
man.

Yet Enver’s assurance did not satisfy his associates. They had made all
their arrangements for the British fleet. If, in spite of the most
heroic resistance the Turkish armies could make, it still seemed likely
that the Allies were about to capture the city, the ruling powers had
their final plans all prepared. They proposed to do to this great
capital precisely what the Russians had done to Moscow, when Napoleon
appeared before it.

“They will never capture an existing city,” they told me, “only a heap
of ashes.” As a matter of fact, this was no idle threat. I was told that
cans of petroleum had been already stored in all the police stations and
other places, ready to fire the town at a moment’s notice. As
Constantinople is largely built of wood, this would have been no very
difficult task. But they were determined to destroy more than these
temporary structures; the plans aimed at the beautiful architectural
monuments built by the Christians long before the Turkish occupation.
The Turks had particularly marked for dynamiting the Mosque of Saint
Sophia. This building, which had been a Christian church centuries
before it became a Mohammedan mosque, is one of the most magnificent
structures of the vanished Byzantine Empire. Naturally the suggestion of
such an act of vandalism aroused us all, and I made a plea to Talaat
that Saint Sophia should be spared. He treated the proposed destruction
lightly.

“There are not six men in the Committee of Union and Progress,” he told
me, “who care for anything that is old. We all like new things!”

That was all the satisfaction I obtained in this matter at that time.

Enver’s insistence that the Dardanelles could resist caused his
associates to lose confidence in his judgment. About a year afterward,
Bedri Bey, the Prefect of Police, gave me additional details. While
Enver was still in the Caucasus, Bedri said, Talaat had called a
conference, a kind of council of war, on the Dardanelles. This had been
attended by Liman von Sanders, the German general who had reorganized
the Turkish army; Usedom, the German admiral who was the
inspector-general of the Ottoman coast defenses, Bronssart, the German
Chief of Staff of the Turkish army, and several others. Every man
present gave it as his opinion that the British and French fleets could
force the straits; the only subject of dispute, said Bedri, was whether
it would take the ships eight or twenty hours to reach Constantinople
after they had destroyed the defenses. Enver’s position was well
understood, but this council decided to ignore him and to make the
preparations without his knowledge--to eliminate the Minister of War, at
least temporarily, from their deliberations.

In early March, Bedri and Djambolat, who was Director of Public Safety,
came to see me. At that time the exodus from the capital had begun;
Turkish women and children were being moved into the interior; all the
banks had been compelled to send their gold into Asia Minor; the
archives of the Sublime Porte had already been carried to Eski-Shehr;
and practically all the ambassadors and their suites, as well as most
of the government officials, had made their preparations to leave. The
Director of the Museum, who was one of the six Turks to whom Talaat had
referred as “liking old things” had buried many of Constantinople’s
finest works of art in cellars or covered them for protection. Bedri
came to arrange the details of my departure. As ambassador I was
personally accredited to the Sultan, and it would obviously be my duty,
said Bedri, to go wherever the Sultan went. The train was all ready, he
added; he wished to know how many people I intended to take, so that
sufficient space could be reserved. To this proposal I entered a flat
refusal. I informed Bedri that I thought that my responsibilities made
it necessary for me to remain in Constantinople. Only a neutral
ambassador, I said, could forestall massacres and the destruction of the
city, and certainly I owed it to the civilized world to prevent, if I
could, such calamities as these. If my position as ambassador made it
inevitable that I should follow the Sultan, I would resign and become
honorary Consul-General.

Both Bedri and Djambolat were much younger and less experienced men than
I, and I therefore told them that they needed a man of maturer years to
advise them in an international crisis of this kind. I was not only
interested in protecting foreigners and American institutions, but I was
also interested, on general humanitarian grounds, in safeguarding the
Turkish population from the excesses that were generally expected. The
several nationalities, many of them containing elements which were given
to pillage and massacre, were causing great anxiety. I therefore
proposed to Bedri and Djambolat that the three of us form a kind of a
committee to take control in the approaching crisis.

[Illustration: THE MINISTRY OF WAR

     This was the headquarters of Enver Pasha. It was in this building
     that Enver gave Mr. Morgenthau his promise not to ill-treat enemy
     aliens. “Will you be modern?” asked the American Ambassador.
     “No--not modern,” said Enver, probably thinking of Belgium, “that
     is the most barbaric system of all--Turkey will simply try to be
     decent!”
]

[Illustration: THE MINISTRY OF MARINE

     Headquarters of Djemal, who, soon after war started, went to Syria
     as commander of the Fourth Army Corps. Later Enver occupied this
     office in addition to that of Minister of War. The position was not
     an onerous one, as the Turkish navy played little part in the war.
]

[Illustration: HALIL BEY IN BERLIN

     President of the Turkish Parliament and a leader of the Young
     Turks--afterward Minister for Foreign Affairs.
]

[Illustration: TALAAT AND KÜHLMANN

     Kühlmann, now Foreign Minister, was in 1915 in Constantinople,
     acting as go-between in peace negotiations.
]

[Illustration:

© Underwood & Underwood

GENERAL MERTENS

The German chief technical officer at the Dardanelles and Admiral Von
Usedom, inspector general of Ottoman coast defenses.]

They consented and the three of us sat down and decided on a course of
action. We took a map of Constantinople and marked the districts which,
under the existing rules of warfare, we agreed that the Allied fleet
would have the right to bombard. Thus, we decided that the War Office,
Marine Office, telegraph offices, railroad stations, and all public
buildings could quite legitimately be made the targets for their guns.
Then we marked out certain zones which we should insist on regarding as
immune. The main residential section, and the part where all the
embassies are located, is Pera, the district on the north shore of the
Golden Horn. This we marked as not subject to attack. We also delimited
certain residential areas of Stamboul and Galata, the Turkish sections.
I telegraphed to Washington, asking the State Department to obtain a
ratification of these plans and an agreement to respect these zones of
safety from the British and French governments. I received a reply
indorsing my action.

All preparations had thus been made. At the station stood the trains
which were to take the Sultan and the Government and the ambassadors to
Asia Minor. They had steam up, ready to move at a minute’s notice. We
were all awaiting the triumphant arrival of the Allied fleet.



CHAPTER XVII

ENVER AS THE MAN WHO DEMONSTRATED “THE VULNERABILITY OF THE BRITISH
FLEET”--OLD-FASHIONED DEFENSES OF THE DARDANELLES


When the situation had reached this exciting stage, Enver asked me to
visit the Dardanelles. He still insisted that the fortifications were
impregnable and he could not understand, he said, the panic which was
then raging in Constantinople. He had visited the Dardanelles himself,
had inspected every gun and every emplacement, and he was entirely
confident that his soldiers could hold off the Allied fleet
indefinitely. He had taken Talaat down, and by doing so he had
considerably eased that statesman’s fears. It was Enver’s conviction
that, if I should visit the fortifications, I would be persuaded that
the fleets could never get through, and that I would thus be able to
give such assurances to the people that the prevailing excitement would
subside. I disregarded certain natural doubts as to whether an
ambassador should expose himself to the dangers of such a situation--the
ships were bombarding nearly every day--and promptly accepted Enver’s
invitation.

On the morning of the 15th, we left Constantinople on the _Yuruk_. Enver
himself accompanied us as far as Panderma, an Asiatic town on the Sea of
Marmora. The party included several other notables: Ibrahim Bey, the
Minister of Justice; Husni Pasha, the general who had commanded the
army which had deposed Abdul Hamid in the Young Turk revolution; and
Senator Cheriff Djafer Pasha, an Arab and a direct descendant of the
Prophet. A particularly congenial companion was Fuad Pasha, an old field
marshal, who had led an adventurous career; despite his age, he had an
immense capacity for enjoyment, was a huge feeder and a capacious
drinker, and had as many stories to tell of exile, battle, and hair
breadth escapes as Othello. All of these men were much older than Enver,
and all of them were descended from far more distinguished ancestors,
yet they treated this stripling with the utmost deference.

Enver seemed particularly glad of this opportunity to discuss the
situation. Immediately after breakfast, he took me aside, and together
we went up to the deck. The day was a beautiful sunny one, and the sky
in the Marmora was that deep blue which we find only in this part of the
world. What most impressed me was the intense quiet, the almost desolate
inactivity of these silent waters. Our ship was almost the only one in
sight, and this inland sea, which in ordinary times was one of the
world’s greatest commercial highways, was now practically a primeval
waste. The whole scene was merely a reflection of the great triumph
which German diplomacy had accomplished in the Near East. For nearly six
months not a Russian merchant ship had passed through the straits. All
the commerce of Rumania and Bulgaria, which had normally found its way
to Europe across this inland sea, had long since disappeared. The
ultimate significance of all this desolation was that Russia was
blockaded and completely isolated from her allies. How much that one
fact has meant in the history of the world for the last three years! And
now England and France were seeking to overcome this disadvantage; to
link up their own military resources with those of their great eastern
ally, and to restore to the Dardanelles and the Marmora the thousands of
ships that meant Russia’s existence as a military and economic, and
even, as subsequent events have shown, as a political power. We were
approaching the scene of one of the great crises of the war.

Would England and her allies succeed in this enterprise? Would their
ships at the Dardanelles smash the fortifications, break through, and
again make Russia a permanent force in the war? That was the main
subject which Enver and I discussed, as for nearly three hours we walked
up and down the deck. Enver again referred to the “silly panic” that had
seized nearly all classes in the capital. “Even though Bulgaria and
Greece both turn against us,” he said, “we shall defend Constantinople
to the end. We have plenty of guns, plenty of ammunition, and we have
these on terra firma, whereas the English and French batteries are
floating ones. And the natural advantages of the straits are so great
that the warships can make little progress against them. I do not care
what other people may think. I have studied this problem more thoroughly
than any of them, and I feel that I am right. As long as I am at the
head of the War Department, we shall not give up. Indeed, I do not know
just what these English and French battleships are driving at. Suppose
that they rush the Dardanelles, get into the Marmora and reach
Constantinople; what good will that do them? They can bombard and
destroy the city, I admit; but they cannot capture it, as they have
only a few troops to land. Unless they do bring a large army, they will
really be caught in a trap. They can perhaps stay here for two or three
weeks until their food and supplies are all exhausted and then they will
have to go back--rush the straits again, and again run the risk of
annihilation. In the meantime, we would have repaired the forts, brought
in troops, and made ourselves ready for them. It seems to me to be a
very foolish enterprise.”

I have already told how Enver had taken Napoleon as his model, and in
this Dardanelles expedition he now apparently saw a Napoleonic
opportunity. As we were pacing the deck he stopped a moment, looked at
me earnestly, and said:

“I shall go down in history as the man who demonstrated the
vulnerability of England and her fleet. I shall show that her navy is
not invincible. I was in England a few years before the war and
discussed England’s position with many of her leading men, such as
Asquith, Churchill, Haldane. I told them that their course was wrong.
Winston Churchill declared that England could defend herself with her
navy alone, and that she needed no large army. I told Churchill that no
great empire could last that did not have both an army and a navy. I
found that Churchill’s opinion was the one that prevailed everywhere in
England. There was only one man I met who agreed with me, that was Lord
Roberts. Well, Churchill has now sent his fleet down here--perhaps to
show me that his navy can do all that he said it could do. Now we’ll
see.”

Enver seemed to regard his naval expedition as a personal challenge from
Mr. Churchill to himself--almost like a continuation of their argument
in London.

“You, too, should have a large army,” said Enver, referring to the
United States.

“I do not believe,” he went on, “that England is trying to force the
Dardanelles because Russia has asked her to. When I was in England I
discussed with Churchill the possibility of a general war. He asked me
what Turkey would do in such a case, and said that, if we took Germany’s
side, the British fleet would force the Dardanelles and capture
Constantinople. Churchill is not trying to help Russia--he is carrying
out the threat made to me at that time.”

Enver spoke with the utmost determination and conviction; he said that
nearly all the damage inflicted on the outside forts had been repaired,
and that the Turks had methods of defense the existence of which the
enemy little suspected. He showed great bitterness against the English;
he accused them of attempting to bribe Turkish officials and even said
that they had instigated attempts upon his own life. On the other hand,
he displayed no particular friendliness toward the Germans. Wangenheim’s
overbearing manners had caused him much irritation, and the Turks, he
said, got on none too well with the German officers.

“The Turks and Germans,” he added, “care nothing for each other. We are
with them because it is our interest to be with them; they are with us
because that is their interest. Germany will back Turkey just so long as
that helps Germany; Turkey will back Germany just so long as that helps
Turkey.”

Enver seemed much impressed at the close of our interview with the
intimate personal relations which we had established with each other. He
apparently believed that he, the great Enver, the Napoleon of the
Turkish Revolution, had unbended in discussing his nation’s affairs with
a mere ambassador.

“You know,” he said, “that there is no one in Germany with whom the
Emperor talks as intimately as I have talked with you to-day.”

We reached Panderma about two o’clock. Here Enver and his auto were put
ashore and our party started again, our boat arriving at Gallipoli late
in the afternoon. We anchored in the harbour and spent the night on
board. All the evening we could hear the guns bombarding the
fortifications, but these reminders of war and death did not affect the
spirits of my Turkish hosts. The occasion was for them a great lark;
they had spent several months in hard, exacting work, and now they
behaved like boys suddenly let out for a vacation. They cracked jokes,
told stories, sang the queerest kinds of songs, and played childish
pranks upon one another. The venerable Fuad, despite his nearly ninety
years, developed great qualities as an entertainer, and the fact that
his associates made him the butt of most of their horse-play apparently
only added to his enjoyment of the occasion. The amusement reached its
height when one of his friends surreptitiously poured him a glass of
eau-de-cologne. The old gentleman looked at the new drink a moment and
then diluted it with water. I was told that the proper way of testing
_raki_, the popular Turkish tipple, is by mixing it with water; if it
turns white under this treatment, it is the real thing and may be safely
drunk. Apparently water has the same effect upon eau-de-cologne, for the
contents of Fuad’s glass, after this test, turned white. The old
gentleman, therefore, poured the whole thing down his throat without a
grimace--much to the hilarious entertainment of his tormentors.

In the morning we started again. We now had fairly arrived in the
Dardanelles, and from Gallipoli we had a sail of nearly twenty-five
miles to Tchanak Kalé. For the most part this section of the strait is
uninteresting and, from a military point of view, it is unimportant. The
stream is about two miles wide, both sides are low-lying and marshy, and
only a few scrambling villages show any signs of life. I was told that
there were a few ancient fortifications, their rusty guns pointing
toward the Marmora, the emplacements having been erected there in the
early part of the nineteenth century for the purpose of preventing
hostile ships entering from the north. These fortifications, however,
were so inconspicuous that I could not see them; my hosts informed me
that they had no fighting power, and that, indeed, there was nothing in
the northern part of the straits, from Point Nagara to the Marmora, that
could offer resistance to any modern fleet. The chief interest which I
found in this part of the Dardanelles was purely historic and legendary.
The ancient town of Lampsacus appeared in the modern Lapsaki, just
across from Gallipoli, and Nagara Point is the site of the ancient
Abydos, from which village Leander used to swim nightly across the
Hellespont to Hero--a feat which was repeated about one hundred years
ago by Lord Byron. Here also Xerxes crossed from Asia to Greece on a
bridge of boats, embarking on that famous expedition which was to make
him master of mankind. The spirit of Xerxes, I thought, as I passed the
scene of his exploit, is still quite active in the world! The Germans
and Turks had found a less romantic use for this,

[Illustration: THE RED CRESCENT

It here marks a Turkish Field Hospital, as a warning to aviators not to
bomb.]

[Illustration: ENVER PASHA

     “I shall go down in history,” this Turkish leader told Mr.
     Morgenthau “as the man who demonstrated the vulnerability of
     England and her fleet. I shall show that her navy is not
     invincible.”
]

the narrowest part of the Dardanelles, for here they had stretched a
cable and anti-submarine barrage of mines and nets--a device, which, as
I shall describe, did not keep the English and French underwater boats
out of the Marmora and the Bosphorus. It was not until we rounded this
historic point of Nagara that the dull monotony of flat shores gave
place to a more diversified landscape. On the European side the cliffs
now began to descend precipitously to the water, reminding me of our own
Palisades along the Hudson, and I obtained glimpses of the hills and
mountain ridges that afterward proved such tragical stumbling blocks to
the valiant Allied armies. The configuration of the land south of
Nagara, with its many hills and ridges, made it plain why the military
engineers had selected this stretch of the Dardanelles as the section
best adapted to defense. Our boat was now approaching what was perhaps
the most commanding point in the whole strait--the city Tchanak, or, to
give it its modern European name, Dardanelles. In normal times this was
a thriving port of 16,000 people, its houses built of wood, the
headquarters of a considerable trade in wool and other products, and for
centuries it had been an important military station. Now, excepting for
the soldiers, it was deserted, the large civilian population having been
moved into Anatolia. The British fleet, we were told, had bombarded this
city; yet this statement seemed hardly probable, for I saw only a single
house that had been hit, evidently by a stray shell which had been aimed
at the near-by fortifications.

Djevad Pasha, the Turkish Commander-in-Chief at the Dardanelles, met us
and escorted our party to headquarters. Djevad was a man of culture and
of pleasing and cordial manners; as he spoke excellent German I had no
need of an interpreter. I was much impressed by the deference with which
the German officers treated him; that he was the Commander-in-Chief in
this theatre of war, and that the generals of the Kaiser were his
subordinates, was made plainly apparent. As we passed into his office,
Djevad stopped in front of a piece of a torpedo, mounted in the middle
of the hall, evidently as a souvenir.

“There is the great criminal!” he said, calling my attention to the
relic.

About this time the newspapers were hailing the exploit of an English
submarine, which had sailed from England to the Dardanelles, passed
under the mine field, and torpedoed the Turkish warship _Mesudié_.

“That’s the torpedo that did it!” said Djevad. “You’ll see the wreck of
the ship when you go down.”

The first fortification I visited was that of Anadolu Hamidié (that is,
Asiatic Hamidié) located on the water’s edge just outside of Tchanak. My
first impression was that I was in Germany. The officers were
practically all Germans and everywhere Germans were building buttresses
with sacks of sand and in other ways strengthening the emplacements.
Here German, not Turkish, was the language heard on every side. Colonel
Wehrle, who conducted me over these batteries, took the greatest delight
in showing them. He had the simple pride of the artist in his work, and
told me of the happiness that had come into his days when Germany had at
last found herself at war. All his life, he said, he had spent in
military practices, and, like most Germans, he had become tired of
manœuvres, sham battles, and other forms of mimic hostilities. Yet
he was approaching fifty, he had become a colonel, and he was fearful
that his career would close without actual military experience--and then
the splendid thing had happened and here he was, fighting a real English
enemy, firing real guns and shells! There was nothing brutal about
Wehrle’s manners; he was a “_gemütlich_” gentleman from Baden, and
thoroughly likable; yet he was all aglow with the spirit of “_Der Tag_.”
His attitude was simply that of a man who had spent his lifetime
learning a trade and who now rejoiced at the chance of exercising it.
But he furnished an illuminating light on the German military character
and the forces that had really caused the war.

[Illustration: PLAN _of_ ANADOLÜ HAMIDIEM BATTERY, March 1915.]

Feeling myself so completely in German country, I asked Colonel Wehrle
why there were so few Turks on this side of the strait. “You won’t ask
me that question this afternoon,” he said, smiling, “when you go over to
the other side.”

The location of Anadolu Hamidié seemed ideal. It stands right at the
water’s edge, and consists--or it did then--of ten guns, every one
completely sweeping the Dardanelles. Walking upon the parapet, I had a
clear view of the strait, and Kum Kalé, at the entrance, about fifteen
miles away, stood out conspicuously. No warship could enter these waters
without immediately coming within complete sight of her gunners. Yet the
fortress itself, to an unprofessional eye like my own, was not
particularly impressive. The parapet and traverses were merely mounds of
earth, and stand to-day practically as they were finished by their
French constructors in 1837. There is a general belief that the Germans
had completely modernized the Dardanelles defenses, but this was not
true at that time. The guns defending Fort Anadolu Hamidié were more
than thirty years old, all being the Krupp model of 1885, and the rusted
exteriors of some of them gave evidences of their age. Their extreme
range was only about nine miles, while the range of the battleships
opposing them was about ten miles, and that of the _Queen Elizabeth_ was
not far from eleven. The figures which I have given for Anadolu Hamidié
apply also to practically all the guns at the other effective
fortifications. So far as the advantage of range was concerned,
therefore, the Allied fleet had a decided superiority, the _Queen
Elizabeth_ alone having them all practically at her mercy. Nor did the
fortifications contain very considerable supplies of ammunition. At that
time the European and American papers were printing stories that train
loads of shells and guns were coming by way of Rumania from Germany to
the Dardanelles. From facts which I learned on this trip and
subsequently I am convinced that these reports were pure fiction. A
small number of “red heads”--that is, non-armour-piercing projectiles
useful only for fighting landing parties--had been brought from
Adrianople and were reposing in Hamidié at the time of my visit, but
these were small in quantity and of no value in fighting ships. I lay
this stress upon Hamidié because this was the most important
fortification in the Dardanelles. Throughout the whole bombardment it
attracted more of the Allied fire than any other position, and it
inflicted at least 60 per cent. of all the damage that was done to the
attacking ships. It was Anadolu Hamidié which, in the great bombardment
of March 18th, sank the _Bouvet_, the French battleship, and which in
the course of the whole attack disabled several other units. All its
officers were Germans and eighty-five per cent. of the men on duty came
from the crews of the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_.

Getting into the automobile, we sped along the military road to
Dardanos, passing on the way the wreck of the _Mesudié_. The Dardanos
battery was as completely Turkish as the Hamidié was German. The guns at
Dardanos were somewhat more modern than those at Hamidié--they were the
Krupp model of 1905. Here also was stationed the only new battery which
the Germans had established up to the time of my visit; it consisted of
several guns which they had taken from the German and Turkish warships
then lying in the Bosphorus. A few days before our inspection the Allied
fleet had entered the Bay of Erenkeui and had submitted Dardanos to a
terrific bombardment, the evidences of which I saw on every hand. The
land for nearly half a mile about seemed to have been completely churned
up; it looked like photographs I had seen of the battlefields in
France. The strange thing was that, despite all this punishment, the
batteries themselves remained intact; not a single gun, my guides told
me, had been destroyed.

“After the war is over,” said General Mertens, “we are going to
establish a big tourist resort here, build a hotel, and sell relics to
you Americans. We shall not have to do much excavating to find them--the
British fleet is doing that for us now.”

This sounded like a passing joke, yet the statement was literally true.
Dardanos, where this emplacement is located, was one of the famous
cities of the ancient world; in Homeric times it was part of the
principality of Priam. Fragments of capitals and columns are still
visible. And the shells from the Allied fleet were now ploughing up many
relics which had been buried for thousands of years. One of my friends
picked up a water jug which had perhaps been used in the days of Troy.
The effectiveness of modern gunfire in excavating these evidences of a
long lost civilization was striking--though unfortunately the relics did
not always come to the surface intact.

The Turkish generals were extremely proud of the fight which this
Dardanos battery had made against the British ships. They would lead me
to the guns that had done particularly good service and pat them
affectionately. For my benefit Djevad called out Lieutenant Hassan, the
Turkish officer who had defended this position. He was a little fellow,
with jet-black hair, black eyes, extremely modest and almost shrinking
in the presence of these great generals. Djevad patted Hassan on both
cheeks, while another high Turkish officer stroked his hair; one would
have thought that he was a faithful dog who had just performed some
meritorious service.

“It is men like you of whom great heroes are made,” said General Djevad.
He asked Hassan to describe the attack and the way it had been met. The
embarrassed lieutenant quietly told his story, though he was moved
almost to tears by the appreciation of his exalted chiefs.

“There is a great future for you in the army,” said General Djevad, as
we parted from this hero.

Poor Hassan’s “future” came two days afterward when the Allied fleet
made its greatest attack. One of the shells struck his dugout, which
caved in, killing the young man. Yet his behaviour on the day I visited
his battery showed that he regarded the praise of his general as
sufficient compensation for all that he had suffered or all that he
might suffer.

I was much puzzled by the fact that the Allied fleet, despite its large
expenditures of ammunition, had not been able to hit this Dardanos
emplacement. I naturally thought at first that such a failure indicated
poor marksmanship, but my German guides said that this was not the case.
All this misfire merely illustrated once more the familiar fact that a
rapidly manœuvring battleship is under a great disadvantage in
shooting at a fixed fortification. But there was another point involved
in the Dardanos battery. My hosts called my attention to its location;
it was perched on the top of the hill, in full view of the ships,
forming itself a part of the skyline. Dardanos was merely five steel
turrets, each armed with a gun, approached by a winding trench.

“That,” they said, “is the most difficult thing in the world to hit. It
is so distinct that it looks easy, but the whole thing is an illusion.”

I do not understand completely the optics of the situation; but it seems
that the skyline creates a kind of mirage, so that it is practically
impossible to hit anything at that point, except by accident. The gunner
might get what was apparently a perfect sight, yet his shell would go
wild. The record of Dardanos had been little short of marvellous. Up to
March 18th, the ships had fired at it about 4,000 shells. One turret had
been hit by a splinter, which had also scratched the paint, another had
been hit and slightly bent in, and another had been hit near the base
and a piece about the size of a man’s hand had been knocked out. But not
a single gun had been even slightly damaged. Eight men had been killed,
including Lieutenant Hassan, and about forty had been wounded. That was
the extent of the destruction.

“It was the optical illusion that saved Dardanos,” one of the Germans
remarked.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE ALLIED ARMADA SAILS AWAY, THOUGH ON THE BRINK OF VICTORY


Again getting into the automobile, we rode along the shore, my host
calling my attention to the mine fields, which stretched from Tchanak
southward about seven miles. In this area the Germans and Turks had
scattered nearly 400 mines. They told me with a good deal of gusto that
the Russians had furnished a considerable number of these destructive
engines. Day after day Russian destroyers sowed mines at the Black Sea
entrance to the Bosphorus, hoping that they would float down stream and
fulfil their appointed task. Every morning Turkish and German mine
sweepers would go up, fish out these mines, and place them in the
Dardanelles.

The battery at Erenkeui had also been subjected to a heavy bombardment,
but it had suffered little. Unlike Dardanos, it was situated back of a
hill, completely shut out from view. In order to fortify this spot, I
was told, the Turks had been compelled practically to dismantle the
fortifications of the inner straits--that section of the stream which
extends from Tchanak to Point Nagara. This was the reason why this
latter part of the Dardanelles was now practically unfortified. The guns
that had been moved for this purpose were old-style Krupp pieces of the
model of 1885.

South of Erenkeui, on the hills bordering the road the Germans had
introduced an innovation. They had found several Krupp howitzers left
over from the Bulgarian war and had installed them on concrete
foundations. Each battery had four or five of these emplacements so
that, as I approached them, I found several substantial bases that
apparently had no guns. I was mystified further at the sight of
a herd of buffaloes--I think I counted sixteen engaged in the
operation--hauling one of these howitzers from one emplacement to
another. This, it seems, was part of the plan of defense. As soon as the
dropping shells indicated that the fleet had obtained the range, the
howitzer would be moved, with the aid of buffalo teams, to another
concrete emplacement.

“We have even a better trick than that,” remarked one of the officers.
They called out a sergeant, and recounted his achievement. This soldier
was the custodian of a contraption which, at a distance, looked like a
real gun, but which, when I examined it near at hand, was apparently an
elongated section of sewer pipe. Back of a hill, entirely hidden from
the fleet, was placed the gun with which this sergeant had coöperated.
The two were connected by telephone. When the command came to fire, the
gunner in charge of the howitzer would discharge his shell, while the
man in charge of the sewer pipe would burn several pounds of black
powder and send forth a conspicuous cloud of inky smoke. Not unnaturally
the Englishmen and Frenchmen on the ships would assume that the shells
speeding in their direction came from the visible smoke cloud and would
proceed to centre all their attention upon that spot. The space around
this burlesque gun was pock-marked with shell holes; the sergeant in
charge, I was told, had attracted more than 500 shots, while the real
artillery piece still remained intact and undetected.

From Erenkeui we motored back to General Djevad’s headquarters, where we
had lunch. Djevad took me up to an observation post, and there before my
eyes I had the beautiful blue expanse of the Ægean. I could see the
entrances to the Dardanelles, Sedd-ul-Bahr and Kum Kalé standing like
the guardians of a gateway, with the rippling sunny waters stretching
between. Far out I saw the majestic ships of England and France sailing
across the entrance, and still farther away, I caught a glimpse of the
island of Tenedos, behind which we knew that a still larger fleet lay
concealed. Naturally this prospect brought to mind a thousand historic
and legendary associations, for there is probably no single spot in the
world more crowded with poetry and romance. Evidently my Turkish escort,
General Djevad, felt the spell, for he took a telescope and pointed at a
bleak expanse, perhaps six miles away.

“Look at that spot,” he said, handing me the glass. “Do you know what
that is?”

I looked but could not identify this sandy beach.

“Those are the Plains of Troy,” he said. “And the river that you see
winding in and out,” he added, “we Turks call it the Mendere, but Homer
knew it as the Scamander. Back of us, only a few miles distant, is Mount
Ida.”

Then he turned his glass out to sea, swept the field where the British
ships lay, and again asked me to look at an indicated spot. I
immediately brought within view a magnificent English warship, all
stripped for battle, quietly steaming along like a man walking on
patrol duty.

“That,” said General Djevad, “is the _Agamemnon_”!

“Shall I fire a shot at her?” he asked me.

“Yes, if you’ll promise me not to hit her,” I answered.

We lunched at headquarters, where we were joined by Admiral Usedom,
General Mertens, and General Pomiankowsky, the Austrian Military Attaché
at Constantinople. The chief note in the conversation was one of
absolute confidence in the future. Whatever the diplomats and
politicians in Constantinople may have thought, these men, Turks and
Germans, had no expectation--at least their conversation betrayed
none--that the Allied fleets would pass their defenses. What they seemed
to hope for above everything was that their enemies would make another
attack.

“If we could only get a chance at the _Queen Elizabeth_!” said one eager
German, referring to the greatest ship in the British navy, then lying
off the entrance.

As the Rhein wine began to disappear, their eagerness for the combat
increased.

“If the damn fools would only make a landing!” exclaimed one--I quote
his exact words.

The Turkish and German officers, indeed, seemed to vie with each other
in expressing their readiness for the fray. Probably a good deal of this
was bravado, intended for my consumption--indeed, I had private
information that their exact estimate of the situation was much less
reassuring. Now, however, they declared that the war had presented no
real opportunity for the German and English navies to measure swords,
and for this reason the Germans at the Dardanelles welcomed this chance
to try the issue.

Having visited all the important places on the Anatolian side, we took a
launch and sailed over to the Gallipoli peninsula. We almost had a
disastrous experience on this trip. As we approached the Gallipoli
shore, our helmsman was asked if he knew the location of the minefield,
and if he could steer through the channel. He said “yes” and then
steered directly for the mines! Fortunately the other men noticed the
mistake in time, and so we arrived safely at Kilid-ul-Bahr. The
batteries here were of about the same character as those on the other
side; they formed one of the main defenses of the straits. Here
everything, so far as a layman could judge, was in excellent condition,
barring the fact that the artillery pieces were of old design and the
ammunition not at all plentiful.

The batteries showed signs of a heavy bombardment. None had been
destroyed, but shell holes surrounded the fortifications. My Turkish and
German escorts looked at these evidences of destruction rather seriously
and they were outspoken in their admiration for the accuracy of the
allied fire.

“How do they ever get the range?” This was the question they were asking
each other. What made the shooting so remarkable was the fact that it
came, not from Allied ships in the straits, but from ships stationed in
the Ægean Sea, on the other side of the Gallipoli peninsula. The gunners
had never seen their target, but had had to fire at a distance of nearly
ten miles, over high hills, and yet many of their shells had barely
missed the batteries at Kilid-ul-Bahr.

When I was there, however, the place was quiet, for no fighting was
going on that day. For my particular benefit the officers put one of
their gun crews through a drill, so that I could obtain a perfect
picture of the behaviour of the Turks in action. In their mind’s eye
these artillerists now saw the English ships advancing within range, all
their guns pointed to destroy the followers of the Prophet. The bugleman
blew his horn, and the whole company rushed to their appointed places.
Some were bringing shells, others were opening the breeches, others were
taking the ranges, others were straining at pulleys, and others were
putting the charges into place. Everything was eagerness and activity;
evidently the Germans had been excellent instructors, but there was more
to it than German military precision, for the men’s faces lighted up
with all that fanaticism which supplies the morale of Turkish soldiers.
These gunners momentarily imagined that they were shooting once more at
the infidel English, and the exercise was a congenial one. Above the
shouts of all I could hear the singsong chant of the leader, intoning
the prayer with which the Moslem has rushed to battle for thirteen
centuries.

“Allah is great, there is but one God, and Mohammed is his Prophet!”

When I looked upon these frenzied men, and saw so plainly written in
their faces their uncontrollable hatred of the unbeliever, I called to
mind what the Germans had said in the morning about the wisdom of not
putting Turkish and German soldiers together. I am quite sure that, had
this been done, here at least the “Holy War” would have proved a
success, and that the Turks would have vented their hatred of Christians
on those who happened to be nearest at hand, for the moment overlooking
the fact that they were allies.

I returned to Constantinople that evening, and two days afterward, on
March 18th, the Allied fleet made its greatest attack. As all the world
knows, that attack proved disastrous to the Allies. The outcome was the
sinking of the _Bouvet_, the _Ocean_, and the _Irresistible_ and the
serious crippling of four other vessels. Of the sixteen ships engaged in
this battle of the 18th, seven were thus put temporarily or permanently
out of action. Naturally the Germans and Turks rejoiced over this
victory. The police went around, and ordered each householder to display
a prescribed number of flags in honour of the event. The Turkish people
have so little spontaneous patriotism or enthusiasm of any kind that
they would never decorate their establishments without such definite
orders. As a matter of fact, neither Germans nor Turks regarded this
celebration too seriously, for they were not yet persuaded that they had
really won a victory. Most still believed that the Allied fleets would
succeed in forcing their way through. The only question, they said, was
whether the Entente was ready to sacrifice the necessary number of
ships. Neither Wangenheim nor Pallavicini believed that the disastrous
experience of the 18th would end the naval attack, and for days they
anxiously waited for the fleet to return. The high tension lasted for
days and weeks after the repulse of the 18th. We were still momentarily
expecting the renewal of the attack. But the great armada never
returned.

Should it have come back? Could the Allied ships really have captured
Constantinople? I am constantly asked this question. As a layman my own
opinion can have little value, but I have quoted the opinions of the
German generals and admirals, and of the Turks--practically all of
whom, except Enver, believed that the enterprise would succeed, and I am
half inclined to believe that Enver’s attitude was merely a case of
graveyard whistling. In what I now have to say on this point, therefore,
I wish it understood that I am giving not my own views, but merely those
of the officials then in Turkey who were best qualified to judge.

Enver had told me, in our talk on the deck of the _Yuruk_, that he had
“plenty of guns--plenty of ammunition.” But this statement was not true.
A glimpse at the map will show why Turkey was not receiving munitions
from Germany or Austria at that time. The fact was that Turkey was just
as completely isolated from her allies then as was Russia. There were
two railroad lines leading from Constantinople to Germany. One went by
way of Bulgaria and Serbia. Bulgaria was then not an ally; even though
she had winked at the passage of guns and shells, this line could not
have been used, since Serbia, which controlled the vital link extending
from Nish to Belgrade, was still intact. The other railroad line went
through Rumania, by way of Bucharest. This route was independent of
Serbia, and, had the Rumanian Government consented, it would have formed
a clear route from the Krupps to the Dardanelles. The fact that
munitions could be sent with the connivance of the Rumanian Government
perhaps accounts for the suspicion that guns and shells were going by
that route. Day after day the French and British ministers protested at
Bucharest against this alleged violation of neutrality, only to be met
with angry denials that the Germans were using this line. There is no
doubt now that the Rumanian Government was perfectly honourable in
making these denials. It is not unlikely that the Germans themselves
started all these stories, merely to fool the Allied fleet into the
belief that their supplies were inexhaustible.

Let us suppose that the Allies had returned, say on the morning of the
nineteenth, what would have happened? The one overwhelming fact is that
the fortifications were very short of ammunition. They had almost
reached the limit of their resisting power when the British fleet passed
out on the afternoon of the 18th. I had secured permission for Mr.
George A. Schreiner, the well-known American correspondent of the
Associated Press, to visit the Dardanelles on this occasion. On the
night of the 18th, this correspondent discussed the situation with
General Mertens, who was the chief technical officer at the straits.
General Mertens admitted that the outlook was very discouraging for the
defense.

“We expect that the British will come back early to-morrow morning,” he
said, “and if they do, we may be able to hold out for a few hours.”

General Mertens did not declare in so many words that the ammunition was
practically exhausted, but Mr. Schreiner discovered that such was the
case. The fact was that Fort Hamidié, the most powerful defense on the
Asiatic side, had just seventeen armour-piercing shells left, while at
Kilid-ul-Bahr, which was the main defense on the European side, there
were precisely ten.

“I should advise you to get up at six o’clock to-morrow morning,” said
General Mertens, “and take to the Anatolian hills. That’s what we are
going to do.”

The troops at all the fortifications had their orders to man the guns
until the last shell had been fired and then to abandon the forts.

Once these defenses became helpless, the problem of the Allied fleet
would have been a simple one. The only bar to their progress would have
been the minefield, which stretched from a point about two miles north
of Erenkeui to Kilid-ul-Bahr. But the Allied fleet had plenty of
mine-sweepers, which could have made a channel in a few hours. North of
Tchanak, as I have already explained, there were a few guns, but they
were of the 1878 model, and could not discharge projectiles that could
pierce modern armour plate. North of Point Nagara there were only two
batteries, and both dated from 1835! Thus, once having silenced the
outer straits, there was nothing to bar the passage to Constantinople
except the German and Turkish warships. The _Goeben_ was the only
first-class fighting ship in either fleet, and it would not have lasted
long against the _Queen Elizabeth_. The disproportion in the strength of
the opposing fleets, indeed, was so enormous that it is doubtful whether
there would ever have been an engagement.

Thus the Allied fleet would have appeared before Constantinople on the
morning of the twentieth. What would have happened then? We have heard
much discussion as to whether this purely naval attack was justified.
Enver, in his conversation with me, had laid much stress on the
absurdity of sending a fleet to Constantinople, supported by no adequate
landing force, and much of the criticism since passed upon the
Dardanelles expedition has centred on that point. Yet it is my opinion
that this exclusively naval attack was justified. I base this judgment
purely upon the political situation which then existed in Turkey. Under
ordinary circumstances such an enterprise would probably have been a
foolish one, but the political conditions in Constantinople then were
not ordinary. There was no solidly established government in Turkey at
that time. A political committee, not exceeding forty members, headed by
Talaat, Enver, and Djemal, controlled the Central Government, but their
authority throughout the empire was exceedingly tenuous. As a matter of
fact, the whole Ottoman state, on that eighteenth day of March, 1915,
when the Allied fleet abandoned the attack, was on the brink of
dissolution. All over Turkey ambitious chieftains had arisen, who were
momentarily expecting its fall, and who were looking for the opportunity
to seize their parts of the inheritance. As previously described, Djemal
had already organized practically an independent government in Syria. In
Smyrna Rahmi Bey, the Governor-General, had often disregarded the
authorities at the capital. In Adrianople Hadji Adil, one of the most
courageous Turks of the time, was believed to be plotting to set up his
own government. Arabia had already become practically an independent
nation. Among the subject races the spirit of revolt was rapidly
spreading. The Greeks and the Armenians would also have welcomed an
opportunity to strengthen the hands of the Allies. The existing
financial and industrial conditions seemed to make revolution
inevitable. Many farmers went on strike; they had no seeds and would not
accept them as a free gift from the Government because, they said, as
soon as their crops should be garnered the armies would immediately
requisition them. As for Constantinople, the populace there and the
best elements among the Turks, far from opposing the arrival of the
Allied fleet, would have welcomed it with joy. The Turks themselves were
praying that the British and French would take their city, for this
would relieve them of the controlling gang, emancipate them from the
hated Germans, bring about peace, and end their miseries.

No one understood this better than Talaat. He was taking no chances on
making an expeditious retreat, in case the Allied fleet appeared before
the city. For several months the Turkish leaders had been casting
envious glances at a Minerva automobile that had been reposing in the
Belgian legation ever since Turkey’s declaration of war. Talaat finally
obtained possession of the coveted prize. He had obtained somewhere
another automobile, which he had loaded with extra tires, gasolene, and
all the other essentials of a protracted journey. This was evidently
intended to accompany the more pretentious machine as a kind of “mother
ship.” Talaat stationed these automobiles on the Asiatic side of the
city with chauffeurs constantly at hand. Everything was prepared to
leave for the interior of Asia Minor at a moment’s notice.

But the great Allied armada never returned to the attack.

About a week after this momentous defeat, I happened to drop in at the
German Embassy. Wangenheim had a distinguished visitor whom he asked me
to meet. I went into his private office and there was Von der Goltz
Pasha, recently returned from Belgium, where he had served as governor.
I must admit that, meeting Goltz thus informally, I had difficulty in
reconciling his personality with all the stories that were then coming
out of Belgium. That morning this mild-mannered, spectacled gentleman
seemed sufficiently quiet and harmless. Nor did he look his age--he was
then about seventy-four; his hair was only streaked with gray, and his
face was almost unwrinkled; I should not have taken him for more than
sixty-five. The austerity and brusqueness and ponderous dignity which
are assumed by most highly-placed Germans were not apparent. His voice
was deep, musical, and pleasing, and his manners were altogether
friendly and ingratiating. The only evidence of pomp in his bearing was
his uniform; he was dressed as a field marshal, his chest blazing with
decorations and gold braid. Von der Goltz explained and half apologized
for his regalia by saying that he had just returned from an audience
with the Sultan. He had come to Constantinople to present his majesty a
medal from the Kaiser, and was taking back to Berlin a similar mark of
consideration from the Sultan to the Kaiser, besides an imperial present
of 10,000 cigarettes.

The three of us sat there for some time, drinking coffee, eating German
cakes, and smoking German cigars. I did not do much of the talking, but
the conversation of Von der Goltz and Wangenheim seemed to me to shed
much light upon the German mind, and especially on the trustworthiness
of German military reports. The aspect of the Dardanelles fight that
interested them most at that time was England’s complete frankness in
publishing her losses. That the British Government should issue an
official statement, saying that three ships had been sunk and that four
others had been badly damaged, struck them as most remarkable. In this
announcement I merely saw a manifestation of the usual British desire
to make public the worst--the policy which we Americans also believe to
be the best in war times. But no such obvious explanation could satisfy
these wise and solemn Teutons. No, England had some deep purpose in
telling the truth so unblushingly; what could it be?

“_Es ist ausserordentlich!_” (It is extraordinary) said Von der Goltz,
referring to England’s public acknowledgment of defeat.

“_Es ist unerhört!_” (It is unheard of) declared the equally astonished
Wangenheim.

These master diplomatists canvassed one explanation after another, and
finally reached a conclusion that satisfied the higher strategy.
England, they agreed, really had had no enthusiasm for this attack,
because, in the event of success, she would have had to hand
Constantinople over to Russia--something which England really did not
intend to do. By publishing the losses, England showed Russia the
enormous difficulties of the task; she had demonstrated, indeed, that
the enterprise was impossible. After such losses, England intended
Russia to understand that she had made a sincere attempt to gain this
great prize of war and expected her not to insist on further sacrifices.

The sequel to this great episode in the war came in the winter of
1915-16. By this time Bulgaria had joined the Central Powers, Serbia had
been overwhelmed, and the Germans had obtained a complete, unobstructed
railroad line from Constantinople to Austria and Germany. Huge Krupp
guns now began to come over this line--all destined for the Dardanelles.
Sixteen great batteries, of the latest model, were emplaced near the
entrance, completely controlling Seddul-Bahr. The Germans lent the
Turks 500,000,000 marks, much of which was spent defending this
indispensable highway. The thinly fortified straits through which I
passed in March, 1915, is now as impregnably fortified as Heligoland. It
is doubtful if all the fleets in the world could force the Dardanelles
to-day.



CHAPTER XIX

A FIGHT FOR THREE THOUSAND CIVILIANS


On the second of May, 1915, Enver sent his aide to the American Embassy,
bringing a message which he requested me to transmit to the French and
British governments. About a week before this visit the Allies had
landed on the Gallipoli peninsula. They had evidently concluded that a
naval attack by itself could not destroy the defenses and open the road
to Constantinople, and they had now adopted the alternative plan of
despatching large bodies of troops, to be supported by the guns of their
warships. Already many thousands of Australians and New Zealanders had
entrenched themselves at the tip of the peninsula, and the excitement
that prevailed in Constantinople was almost as great as that which had
been caused by the appearance of the fleet two months before.

Enver now informed me that the Allied ships were bombarding in reckless
fashion, and ignoring the well-established international rule that such
bombardments should be directed only against fortified places; British
and French shells, he said, were falling everywhere, destroying
unprotected Moslem villages and killing hundreds of innocent
non-combatants. Enver asked me to inform the Allied governments that
such activities must immediately cease. He had decided to collect all
the British and French citizens who were then living in Constantinople,
take them down to the Gallipoli peninsula and scatter them in Moslem
villages and towns. The Allied fleets would then be throwing their
projectiles not only against peaceful and unprotected Moslems, but
against their own countrymen. It was Enver’s idea that this threat,
communicated by the American Ambassador to the British and French
governments, would soon put an end to “atrocities” of this kind. I was
given a few days’ respite to get the information to London and Paris.

At that time about 3,000 British and French citizens were living in
Constantinople. The great majority belonged to the class known as
Levantines; nearly all had been born in Turkey and in many cases their
families had been domiciled in that country for two or more generations.
The retention of their European citizenship is almost their only contact
with the nation from which they have sprung. Not uncommonly we meet in
the larger cities of Turkey men and women who are English by race and
nationality, but who speak no English, French being the usual language
of the Levantine. The great majority have never set foot in England, or
any other European country; they have only one home, and that is Turkey.
The fact that the Levantine usually retains citizenship in the nation of
his origin was now apparently making him a fitting object for Turkish
vengeance. Besides these Levantines, a large number of English and
French were then living in Constantinople, as teachers in the schools,
as missionaries, and as important business men and merchants. The
Ottoman Government now proposed to assemble all these residents, both
those who were immediately and those who were remotely connected with
Great Britain and France, and to place them in exposed positions on the
Gallipoli peninsula as targets for the Allied fleet.

Naturally my first question when I received this startling information
was whether the warships were really bombarding defenseless towns. If
they were murdering non-combatant men, women, and children in this
reckless fashion, such an act of reprisal as Enver now proposed would
probably have had some justification. It seemed to me incredible,
however, that the English and French could commit such barbarities. I
had already received many complaints of this kind from Turkish officials
which, on investigation, had turned out to be untrue. Only a little
while before Dr. Meyer, the first assistant to Suleyman Nouman, the
Chief of the Medical Staff, had notified me that the British fleet had
bombarded a Turkish hospital and killed 1,000 invalids. When I looked
into the matter, I found that the building had been but slightly
damaged, and only one man killed. I now naturally suspected that this
latest tale of Allied barbarity rested on a similarly flimsy foundation.
I soon discovered, indeed, that this was the case. The Allied fleet was
not bombarding Moslem villages at all. A number of British warships had
been stationed in the Gulf of Saros, an indentation of the Ægean Sea, on
the western side of the peninsula, and from this vantage point they were
throwing shells into the city of Gallipoli. All the “bombarding” of
towns in which they were now engaging was limited to this one city. In
doing this the British navy was not violating the rules of civilized
warfare, for Gallipoli had long since been evacuated of its civilian
population, and the Turks had established military headquarters in
several of the houses, which had properly become the object of the
Allied attack. I certainly knew of no rule of warfare which prohibited
an attack upon a military headquarters. As to the stories of murdered
civilians, men, women, and children, these proved to be gross
exaggerations; as almost the entire civilian population had long since
left, any casualties resulting from the bombardment must have been
confined to the armed forces of the empire.

I now discussed the situation for some time with Mr. Ernest Weyl, who
was generally recognized as the leading French citizen in
Constantinople, and with Mr. Hoffman Philip, the Conseiller of the
Embassy, and then decided that I would go immediately to the Sublime
Porte and protest to Enver.

The Council of Ministers was sitting at the time, but Enver came out.
His manner was more demonstrative than usual. As he described the attack
of the British fleet, he became extremely angry; it was not the
imperturbable Enver with whom I had become so familiar.

“These cowardly English!” he exclaimed. “They tried for a long time to
get through the Dardanelles, and we were too much for them! And see what
kind of a revenge they are taking. Their ships sneak up into the outer
bay, where our guns cannot reach them, and shoot over the hills at our
little villages, killing harmless old men, women, and children, and
bombarding our hospitals. Do you think we are going to let them do that?
And what can we do? Our guns don’t reach over the hills, so that we
cannot meet them in battle. If we could, we would drive them off, just
as we did at the straits a month ago. We have no fleet to send to
England to bombard their unfortified towns as they are bombarding ours.
So we have decided to move all the English and French we can find to
Gallipoli. Let them kill their own people as well as ours.”

I told him that, granted that the circumstances were as he had stated
them, he had grounds for indignation. But I called his attention to the
fact that he was wrong; that he was accusing the Allies of crimes which
they were not committing.

“This is about the most barbarous thing that you have ever
contemplated,” I said. “The British have a perfect right to attack a
military headquarters like Gallipoli.”

But my argument did not move Enver. I became convinced that he had not
decided on this step as a reprisal to protect his own countrymen, but
that he and his associates were blindly venting their rage. The fact
that the Australians and New Zealanders had successfully effected a
landing had aroused their most barbarous instincts. Enver referred to
this landing in our talk; though he professed to regard it lightly, and
said that he would soon push the French and English into the sea, I saw
that it was causing him much concern. The Turk, as I have said before,
is psychologically primitive; to answer the British landing at Gallipoli
by murdering hundreds of helpless British who were in his power would
strike him as perfectly logical. As a result of this talk I gained only
a few concessions. Enver agreed to postpone the deportation until
Thursday--it was then Sunday; to exclude women and children from the
order, and to take none of the British and French who were then
connected with American institutions.

“All the rest will have to go,” was his final word. “Moreover,” he
added, “we don’t purpose to have the enemy submarines in the Marmora
torpedo the transports we are sending to the Dardanelles. In the future
we shall put a few Englishmen and Frenchmen on every ship we send down
there as a protection to our own soldiers.”

When I returned to our embassy I found that the news of the proposed
deportation had been published. The amazement and despair that
immediately resulted were unparalleled, even in that city of constant
sensations. Europeans, by living for many years in the Levant, seem to
acquire its emotions, particularly its susceptibility to fear and
horror, and now, no longer having the protection of their embassies,
these fears were intensified. A stream of frenzied people began to pour
into the Embassy. From their tears and cries one would have thought that
they were immediately to be taken out and shot, and that there was any
possibility of being saved seemed hardly to occur to them. Yet all the
time they insisted that I should get individual exemptions. One could
not go because he had a dependent family; another had a sick child;
another was ill himself. My ante-room was full of frantic mothers,
asking me to secure exemption for their sons, and of wives, who sought
special treatment for their husbands. They made all kinds of impossible
suggestions: I should resign my ambassadorship as a protest; I should
even threaten Turkey with war by the United States! They constantly
besieged my wife, who spent hours listening to their stories and
comforting them. In all this exciting mass there were many who faced the
situation with more courage.

The day after my talk with Enver, Bedri, the Prefect of Police, began to
arrest some of the victims.

The next morning one of my callers made what would ordinarily have
seemed to be an obvious suggestion. This visitor was a German. He told
me that Germany would suffer greatly in reputation if the Turks carried
out their plan; the world would not possibly be convinced that Germans
had not devised the whole scheme. He said that I should call upon the
German and Austrian ambassadors; he was sure that they would support me
in my pleas for decent treatment. As I had made appeals to Wangenheim
several times before in behalf of foreigners, without success, I had
hardly thought it worth while to ask his coöperation in this instance.
Moreover, the plan of using non-combatants as a protective screen in
warfare was such a familiar German device that I was not at all sure
that the German Staff had not instigated the Turks. I decided, however,
to adopt the advice of my German visitor and seek Wangenheim’s
assistance. I must admit that I did this as a forlorn hope, but at least
I thought it only fair to Wangenheim to give him a chance to help.

I called upon him in the evening at ten o’clock and stayed with him
until eleven. I spent the larger part of this hour in a fruitless
attempt to interest him in the plight of these non-combatants.
Wangenheim said point blank that he would not assist me. “It is
perfectly proper,” he maintained, “for the Turks to establish a
concentration camp at Gallipoli. It is also proper for them to put
non-combatant English and French on their transports and thus insure
them against attack. As I made repeated attempts to argue the matter,
Wangenheim would deftly shift the conversation to other topics.
According to my record of this talk, written out at the time, the German
Ambassador discussed almost every subject except the one upon which I
had called.

“This act of the Turks will greatly injure Germany----” I would begin.

“Do you know that the English soldiers at Gaba Tepe are without food and
drink?” he would reply. “They made an attack to capture a well and were
repulsed. The English have taken their ships away so as to prevent their
soldiers from retreating----”

“But about this Gallipoli business,” I interrupted. “Germans themselves
here in Constantinople have said that Germany should stop it----”

“The Allies landed 45,000 men on the peninsula,” Wangenheim answered,
“and of these 10,000 were killed. In a few days we shall attack the rest
and destroy them.”

When I attempted to approach the subject from another angle, this master
diplomatist would begin discussing Rumania and the possibility of
obtaining ammunition by way of that country.

“Your Secretary Bryan,” he said, “has just issued a statement showing
that it would be unneutral for the United States to refuse to sell
ammunition to the Allies. So we have used this same argument with the
Rumanians; if it is unneutral not to sell ammunition, it is certainly
unneutral to refuse to transport it!”

The humorous aspects of this argument appealed to Wangenheim, but I
reminded him that I was there to discuss the lives of between 2,000 and
3,000 non-combatants. As I touched upon this subject again, Wangenheim
replied that the United States would not be acceptable to Germany as a
peacemaker now, because we were so friendly to the Entente. He insisted
on giving me all the details of recent German successes in the
Carpathians and the latest news on the Italian situation.

“We would rather fight Italy than have her for our ally,” he said.

At another time all this would have greatly entertained me, but not
then. It was quite apparent that Wangenheim would not discuss the
proposed deportation, further than to say that the Turks were justified.
His statement that it was planned to establish a “concentration camp” at
Gallipoli unfolded his whole attitude. Up to this time the Turks had not
established concentration camps for enemy aliens anywhere. I had
earnestly advised them not to establish such camps, thus far with
success. On the other hand, the Germans were protesting that Turkey was
“too lenient” and urging the establishment of such camps in the
interior. Wangenheim’s use of the words “concentration camps in
Gallipoli” showed that the German view was at last prevailing and that I
was losing my battle for the foreigners. An internment camp is a
distressing place under the most favourable circumstances, but who,
except a German or a Turk, ever conceived of establishing one right in
the field of battle? Let us suppose that the English and the French
should assemble all their enemy aliens, march them to the front, and
place them in a camp in No Man’s Land, directly in the fire of both
armies. That was precisely the kind of a “concentration camp” which the
Turks and Germans now intended to establish for the resident aliens of
Constantinople--for my talk with Wangenheim left no doubt in my mind
that the Germans were parties to the plot.

[Illustration: TURKISH QUARTERS AT THE DARDANELLES

These dugouts, for the most part, were well protected. The Turks
defended their batteries with great heroism and skill.]

[Illustration: LOOKING NORTH TO THE CITY OF GALLIPOLI

This part of the Dardanelles is practically unfortified.]

They feared that the land attack on the Dardanelles would succeed, just
as they had feared that the naval attack would succeed, and they were
prepared to use any weapon, even the lives of several thousand
non-combatants, in their efforts to make it a failure.

My talk with Wangenheim produced no results, so far as enlisting his
support was concerned, but it stiffened my determination to defeat this
enterprise. I also called upon Pallavicini, the Austrian Ambassador. He
at once declared that the proposed deportation was “inhuman.”

“I will take up the matter with the Grand Vizier,” he said, “and see if
I can’t stop it.”

“But you know that is perfectly useless,” I answered. “The Grand Vizier
has no power--he is only a figurehead. Only one man can stop this, that
is Enver.”

Pallavicini had far finer sensibilities and a tenderer conscience than
Wangenheim, and I had no doubt that he was entirely sincere in his
desire to prevent this crime. But he was a diplomat of the old Austrian
school. Nothing in his eyes was so important as diplomatic etiquette. As
the representative of his emperor, propriety demanded that he should
conduct all his negotiations with the Grand Vizier, who was also at that
time Minister for Foreign Affairs. He never discussed state matters with
Talaat and Enver--indeed, he had only limited official relations with
these men, the real rulers of Turkey. And now the saving of 3,000 lives
was not, in Pallavicini’s eyes, any reason why he should disregard the
traditional routine of diplomatic intercourse.

“I must go strictly according to rules in this matter,” he said. And, in
the goodness of his heart, he did speak to Saïd Halim. Following this
example Wangenheim also spoke to the Grand Vizier. In Wangenheim’s case,
however, the protest was merely intended for the official record.

“You may fool some people,” I told the German Ambassador, “but you know
that speaking to the Grand Vizier in this matter is of about as much use
as shouting in the air.”

However, there was one member of the diplomatic corps who worked
wholeheartedly in behalf of the threatened foreigners. This was M.
Koloucheff, the Bulgarian Minister. As soon as he heard of this latest
Turco-German outrage, he immediately came to me with offers of
assistance. He did not propose to waste his time by a protest to the
Grand Vizier, but announced his intention of going immediately to the
source of authority, Enver himself. Koloucheff was an extremely
important man at that particular time, for Bulgaria was then neutral and
both sides were angling for her support.

Meanwhile, Bedri and his minions were busy arresting some of the doomed
English and French. The deportation was arranged to take place Thursday
morning. On Wednesday, the excitement reached the hysterical stage. It
seemed as if the whole foreign population of Constantinople had gathered
at the American Embassy. Scores of weeping women and haggard men
assembled in front and at the side of the building; more than three
hundred gained personal access to my office, hanging desperately upon
the Ambassador and his staff. Many almost seemed to think that I
personally held their fates in my hand; in their agony of spirit some
even denounced me, insisting that I was not exerting all my powers in
their behalf. Whenever I left my office and passed into the hall I was
almost mobbed by scores of terror-stricken and dishevelled mothers and
wives. The nervous tension was frightful; I seized the telephone, called
up Enver, and demanded an interview.

He replied that he would be happy to receive me on Thursday. By this
time, however, the prisoners would already have been on their way to
Gallipoli.

“No,” I replied, “I must see you this afternoon.”

Enver made all kinds of excuses; he was busy, he had appointments
scheduled for the whole day.

“I presume you want to see me about the English and French,” he said.
“If that is so, I can tell you now that it will be useless. Our minds
are made up. Orders have been issued to the police to gather them all by
to-night and to ship them down to-morrow morning.”

I still insisted that I must see him that afternoon and he still
attempted to dodge the interview.

“My time is all taken,” he said. “The Council of Ministers sits at four
o’clock and the meeting is to be a very important one. I can’t absent
myself.”

Emboldened by the thought of the crowds of women that were flooding the
whole Embassy I decided on an altogether unprecedented move.

“I shall not be denied an interview,” I replied. “I shall come up to the
cabinet room at four o’clock. If you refuse to receive me then, I shall
insist on going into the council room and discussing the matter with the
whole Cabinet. I shall be interested to learn whether the Turkish
Cabinet will refuse to receive the American Ambassador.”

It seemed to me that I could almost hear Enver gasp over the telephone.
I presume few responsible ministers of any country have ever had such an
astounding proposition made to them.

“If you will meet me at the Sublime Porte at 3:30,” he answered, after a
considerable pause, “I shall arrange to see you.”

When I reached the Sublime Porte I was told that the Bulgarian Minister
was having a protracted conference with Enver. Naturally I was willing
to wait, for I knew what the two men were discussing. Presently M.
Koloucheff came out; his face was tense and anxious, clearly revealing
the ordeal through which he had just passed.

“It is perfectly hopeless,” he said to me. “Nothing will move Enver: he
is absolutely determined that this thing shall go through. I cannot wish
you good luck, for you will have none.”

The meeting which followed between Enver and myself was the most
momentous I had had up to that time. We discussed the fate of the
foreigners for nearly an hour. I found Enver in one of his most polite
but most unyielding moods. He told me before I began that it was useless
to talk--that the matter was a closed issue. But I insisted on telling
him what a splendid impression Turkey’s treatment of her enemies had
made on the outside world. “Your record in this matter is better than
that of any other belligerent country,” I said. “You have not put them
into concentration camps, you have let them stay here and continue their
ordinary business, just as before. You have done this in spite of strong
pressure to act otherwise. Why do you destroy all the good effect this
has produced by now making such a fatal mistake as you propose?”

But Enver insisted that the Allied fleets were bombarding unfortified
towns, killing women, children, and wounded men.

“We have warned them through you that they must not do this,” he said,
“but they don’t stop.”

This statement, of course, was not true, but I could not persuade Enver
that he was wrong. He expressed great appreciation for all that I had
done, and regretted for my sake that he could not accept my advice. I
told him that the foreigners had suggested that I threaten to give up
the care of British and French interests.

“Nothing would suit us better,” he quickly replied. “The only difficulty
we have with you is when you come around and bother us with English and
French affairs.”

I asked him if I had ever given him any advice that had led them into
trouble. He graciously replied that they had never yet made a mistake by
following my suggestions.

“Very well, take my advice in this case, too,” I replied. “You will find
later that you have made no mistake by doing so. I tell you that it is
my positive opinion that your cabinet is committing a terrible error by
taking this step.”

“But I have given orders to this effect,” Enver answered. “I cannot
countermand them. If I did, my whole influence with the army would go.
Once having given an order I never change it. My own wife asked me to
have her servants exempted from military service and I refused. The
Grand Vizier asked exemption for his secretary, and I refused him,
because I had given orders. I never revoke orders and I shall not do it
in this case. If you can show me some way in which this order can be
carried out and your protégés still saved, I shall be glad to listen.”

I had already discovered one of the most conspicuous traits in the
Turkish character: its tendency to compromise and to bargain. Enver’s
request for a suggestion now gave me an opportunity to play on this
characteristic.

“All right,” I said. “I think I can. I should think you could still
carry out your orders without sending all the French and English
residents down. If you would send only a few, you would still win your
point. You could still maintain discipline in the army, and these few
would be as strong a deterrent to the Allied fleet as sending all.”

It seemed to me that Enver almost eagerly seized upon this suggestion as
a way out of his dilemma.

“How many will you let me send?” he asked quickly. The moment he put
this question I knew that I had carried my point.

“I would suggest that you take twenty English and twenty French--forty
in all.”

“Let me have fifty,” he said.

“All right--we won’t haggle over ten,” I answered. “But you must make
another concession. Let me pick out the fifty who are to go.”

This agreement had relieved the tension, and now the gracious side of
Enver’s nature began to show itself again.

“No, Mr. Ambassador,” he replied. “You have prevented me from making a
mistake this afternoon; now let me prevent you from making one. If you
select the fifty men who are to go, you will simply make fifty enemies.
I think too much of you to let you do that. I will prove to you that I
am your real friend. Can’t you make some other suggestion?”

“Why not take the youngest? They can stand the fatigue best.”

“That is fair,” answered Enver. He said that Bedri, who was in the
building at that moment, would select the “victims.” This caused me some
uneasiness; I knew that Enver’s modification of his order would
displease Bedri, whose hatred of the foreigners had shown itself on many
occasions, and that the head of the police would do his best to find
some way of evading it. So I asked Enver to send for Bedri and give him
his new orders in my presence. Bedri came in, and, as I had suspected,
he did not like the new arrangement at all. As soon as he heard that he
was to take only fifty and the youngest he threw up his hands and began
to walk up and down the room.

“No, no, this will never do!” he said. “I don’t want the youngest, I
must have notables!”

But Enver stuck to the arrangement and gave Bedri orders to take only
the youngest men. It was quite apparent that Bedri needed humouring, so
I asked him to ride with me to the American Embassy, where we would have
tea and arrange all the details. This invitation had an instantaneous
effect which the American mind will have difficulty in comprehending. An
American would regard it as nothing wonderful to be seen publicly riding
with an ambassador, or to take tea at an embassy. But this is a
distinction which never comes to a minor functionary, such as a Prefect
of Police, in the Turkish capital. Possibly I lowered the dignity of my
office in extending this invitation to Bedri; Pallavicini would probably
have thought so; but it certainly paid, for it made Bedri more pliable
than he would otherwise have been.

When we reached the Embassy, we found the crowds still there, awaiting
the results of my intercession. When I told the besiegers that only
fifty had to go and these the youngest, they seemed momentarily
stupefied. They could not understand it at first; they believed that I
might obtain some modification of the order, but nothing like this.
Then, as the truth dawned upon them, I found myself in the centre of a
crowd that had apparently gone momentarily insane, this time not from
grief, but from joy. Women, the tears streaming down their faces,
insisted on throwing themselves on their knees, seizing both my hands,
and covering them with kisses. Mature men, despite my violent
protestations, persisted in hugging me and kissing me on both cheeks.
For several minutes I struggled with this crowd, embarrassed by its
demonstrations of gratitude, but finally I succeeded in breaking away
and secreting myself and Bedri in an inner room.

“Can’t I have a few notables?” he asked.

“I’ll give you just one,” I replied.

“Can’t I have three?” he asked again.

“You can have all who are under fifty,” I answered.

But that did not satisfy him, as there was not a solitary person of
distinction under that age limit. Bedri really had his eye on Messieurs
Weyl, Rey, and Dr. Frew. But I had one “notable” up my sleeve whom I was
willing to concede. Dr. Wigram, an Anglican clergyman, one of the most
prominent men in the foreign colony, had pleaded with me, asking

[Illustration: THE BRITISH SHIP “ALBION”

Shelling the fortifications at the Inner Strait. The splashes near the
ship show that the Turks are replying vigorously.]

[Illustration: THE DARDANELLES AS IT WAS MARCH 16, 1915

     When Ambassador Morgenthau, at the invitation of the Turkish
     Government, visited all the batteries. He found the batteries well
     defended, but short of ammunition and completely outranged by the
     guns of the Allied fleets. On March 19th the Germans and Turks were
     prepared to retreat to Anatolia and leave Constantinople at the
     mercy of the British. The Allies abandoned the attack at the
     precise moment when complete victory was in their grasp.
]

that he might be permitted to go with the hostages and furnish them such
consolation as religion could give them. I knew that nothing would
delight Dr. Wigram more than to be thrown as a sop to Bedri’s passion
for “notables.”

“Dr. Wigram is the only notable you can have,” I said to Bedri. So he
accepted him as the best that he could do in that line.

Mr. Hoffman Philip, the _Conseiller_ of the American Embassy--now
American Minister to Colombia--had already expressed a desire to
accompany the hostages, so that he might minister to their comfort. This
manifestation of a fine humanitarian spirit was nothing new in Mr.
Philip. Although not in good health, he had returned to Constantinople
after Turkey had entered the war, in order that he might assist me in
the work of caring for the foreign residents. Through all that arduous
period he constantly displayed that sympathy for the unfortunate, the
sick, and the poor, which is innate in his character. Though it was
somewhat irregular for a representative of the Embassy to engage in such
a hazardous enterprise as this one, Mr. Philip pleaded so earnestly that
finally I reluctantly gave my consent. I also obtained permission for
Mr. Arthur Ruhl of _Collier’s_ and Mr. Henry West Suydam, of the
Brooklyn _Eagle_, to accompany the party.

At the end Bedri had to have his little joke. Though the fifty were
informed that the boat for Gallipoli would leave the next morning at six
o’clock, he, with his police, visited their houses at midnight, and
routed them all out of bed. The crowd that assembled at the dock the
next morning looked somewhat weather-beaten and worse for wear. Bedri
was there, superintending the whole proceeding, and when he came up to
me, he good-naturedly reproached me again for letting him have only one
“notable.” In the main, he behaved very decently, though he could not
refrain from telling the hostages that the British airplanes were
dropping bombs on Gallipoli! Of the twenty-five “Englishmen” assembled
there were only two who had been born in England, and of the twenty-five
“Frenchmen” only two who had been born in France. They carried satchels
containing food and other essentials, their assembled relatives had
additional bundles, and Mrs. Morgenthau sent several large cases of food
to the ship. The parting of these young men with their families was
affecting, but they all stood it bravely.

I returned to the Embassy, somewhat wearied by the excitement of the
last few days and in no particularly gracious humour for the honour
which now awaited me. For I had been there only a few minutes when His
Excellency, the German Ambassador, was announced. Wangenheim discussed
commonplaces for a few minutes and then approached the real object of
his call. He asked me to telegraph to Washington that he had been
“helpful” in getting the number of the Gallipoli hostages reduced to
fifty! In view of the actual happenings this request was so preposterous
that I could scarcely maintain my composure. I had known that, in going
through the form of speaking to the Grand Vizier, Wangenheim had been
manufacturing his protest for future use, but I had not expected him to
fall back upon it so soon.

“Well,” said Wangenheim, “at least telegraph your government that I
didn’t ‘_hetz_’ the Turks in this matter.”

The German verb “_hetzen_” means about the same as the English “sic,” in
the sense of inciting a dog. I was in no mood to give Wangenheim a clean
bill of health, and told him so. In fact, I specifically reported to
Washington that he had refused to help me. A day or two afterward
Wangenheim called me on the telephone and began to talk in an excited
and angry tone. His government had wired him about my telegram to
Washington. I told him that if he desired credit for assistance in
matters of this kind, he should really exert himself and do something.

The hostages had an uncomfortable time at Gallipoli; they were put into
two wooden houses with no beds and no food except that which they had
brought themselves. The days and nights were made wretched by the
abundant vermin that is a commonplace in Turkey. Had Mr. Philip not gone
with them, they would have suffered seriously. After the unfortunates
had been there for a few days I began work with Enver again to get them
back. Sir Edward Grey, then British Secretary for Foreign Affairs, had
requested our State Department to send me a message with the request
that I present it to Enver and his fellow ministers; its purport was
that the British Government would hold them personally responsible for
any injury to the hostages. I presented this message to Enver on May
9th. I had seen Enver in many moods, but the unbridled rage which Sir
Edward’s admonition now caused was something entirely new. As I read the
telegram his face became livid, and he absolutely lost control of
himself. The European polish which Enver had sedulously acquired dropped
like a mask; I now saw him for what he really was--a savage,
bloodthirsty Turk.

“They will not come back!” he shouted. “I shall let them stay there
until they rot!”

“I would like to see those English touch me!” he continued.

I saw that the method which I had always used with Enver, that of
persuasion, was the only possible way of handling him. I tried to soothe
the Minister now, and, after a while, he quieted down.

“But don’t ever threaten me again!” he said.

After spending a week at Gallipoli, the party returned. The Turks had
moved their military headquarters from Gallipoli and the English fleet,
therefore, ceased to bombard it. All came back in good condition and
were welcomed home with great enthusiasm.



CHAPTER XX

MORE ADVENTURES OF THE FOREIGN RESIDENTS


The Gallipoli deportation gives some idea of my difficulties in
attempting to fulfil my duty as the representative of Allied interests
in the Ottoman Empire. Yet, despite these occasional outbursts of
hatred, in the main the Turkish officials themselves behaved very well.
They had promised me at the beginning that they would treat their alien
enemies decently, and would permit them either to remain in Turkey, and
follow their accustomed occupations, or to leave the empire. They
apparently believed that the world would judge them, after the war was
over, not by the way they treated their own subject peoples but by the
way they treated the subjects of the enemy powers. The result was that a
Frenchman, an Englishman, or an Italian enjoyed far greater security in
Turkey than an Armenian, a Greek, or a Jew. Yet against this disposition
to be decent a persistent malevolent force was constantly manifesting
itself. In a letter to the State Department, I described the influence
that was working against foreigners in Turkey. “The German Ambassador,”
I wrote on May 14, 1915, “keeps pressing on the Turks the advisability
both of repressive measures and of detaining as hostages the subjects of
the belligerent powers. I have had to encounter the persistent
opposition of my German colleague in endeavouring to obtain permission
for the departure of the subjects of the nationalities under our
protection.”

Now and then the Turkish officials would retaliate upon one of their
enemy aliens, usually in reprisal for some injury, or fancied injury,
inflicted on their own subjects in enemy countries. Such acts gave rise
to many exciting episodes, some tragical, some farcical, all
illuminating in the light they shed upon Turkish character and upon
Teutonic methods.

One afternoon I was sitting with Talaat, discussing routine matters,
when his telephone rang.

“_Pour vous_,” said the Minister, handing me the receiver.

It was one of my secretaries. He told me that Bedri had arrested Sir
Edwin Pears, had thrown him into prison, and had seized all his papers.
Sir Edwin was one of the best-known British residents of Constantinople.
For forty years he had practised law in the Ottoman capital; he had also
written much for the press during that period, and had published several
books which had given him fame as an authority on Oriental history and
politics. He was about eighty years old and of venerable and
distinguished appearance. When the war started I had exacted a special
promise from Talaat and Bedri that, in no event, should Sir Edwin Pears
and Prof. Van Millingen of Robert College be disturbed. This telephone
message which I now received--curiously enough, in Talaat’s
presence--seemed to indicate that this promise had been broken.

I now turned to Talaat and spoke in a manner that made no attempt to
conceal my displeasure.

“Is this all your promises are worth?” I asked. “Can’t you find anything
better to do than to molest such a respectable old man as Sir Edwin
Pears? What has he ever done to you?”

“Come, come, don’t get excited,” rejoined Talaat. “He’s only been in
prison for a few hours, and I will see that he is released.”

He tried to get Bedri on the wire, but failed. By this time I knew Bedri
well enough to understand his methods of operation. When Bedri really
wished to be reached on the telephone, he was the most accessible man in
the world; when his presence at the other end of the wire might prove
embarrassing, the most painstaking search could not reveal his
whereabouts. As Bedri had given me his solemn promise that Sir Edwin
should not be disturbed, this was an occasion when the Prefect of Police
preferred to keep himself inaccessible.

“I shall stay in this room until you get Bedri,” I now told Talaat. The
big Turk took the situation good-humouredly. We waited a considerable
period, but Bedri succeeded in avoiding an encounter. Finally I called
up one of my secretaries and told him to go out and hunt for the missing
prefect.

“Tell Bedri,” I said, “that I have Talaat under arrest in his own office
and that I shall not let him leave it until he has been able to instruct
Bedri to release Sir Edwin Pears.”

Talaat was greatly enjoying the comedy of the situation; he knew Bedri’s
ways even better than I did and he was much interested in seeing whether
I should succeed in finding him. But in a few moments the telephone
rang. It was Bedri. I told Talaat to tell him that I was going to the
prison in my own automobile to get Sir Edwin Pears.

“Please don’t let him do that,” replied Bedri. “Such an occurrence would
make me personally ridiculous and destroy my influence.”

“Very well,” I replied, “I shall wait until 6.15. If Sir Edwin is not
restored to his family by that time, I shall go to the Police
Headquarters and get him.”

As I returned to the Embassy I stopped at the Pears residence and
attempted to soothe Lady Pears and her daughter.

“If your father is not here at 6.15,” I told Miss Pears, “please let me
know immediately.”

Promptly at that time my telephone rang. It was Miss Pears, who informed
me that Sir Edwin had just reached home.

The next day Sir Edwin called at the Embassy to thank me for my efforts
in his behalf. He told me that the German Ambassador had also worked for
his release. This latter statement somewhat surprised me, as I knew no
one else had had a chance to make a move, since everything transpired
while I had been in Talaat’s office. Half an hour afterward I met
Wangenheim himself; he dropped in at Mrs. Morgenthau’s reception. I
referred to the Pears case and asked him whether he had used any
influence in obtaining his freedom. My question astonished him greatly.

“What?” he said. “I helped you to secure that man’s release! _Der alte
Gauner!_ (The old rascal.) Why, I was the man who had him arrested!”

“What have you got against him?” I asked.

“In 1876,” Wangenheim replied, “that man was pro-Russian and against
Turkey!”

Such are the long memories of the Germans! In 1876, Sir Edwin wrote
several articles for the London _Daily News_, describing the Bulgarian
massacres. At that time the reports of these fiendish atrocities were
generally disbelieved and Sir Edwin’s letters placed all the
incontrovertible facts before the English-speaking peoples, and had much
to do with the emancipation of Bulgaria from Turkish rule. This act of
humanity and journalistic statesmanship had brought Sir Edwin much fame
and now, after forty years, Germany proposed to punish him by casting
him into a Turkish prison! Again the Turks proved more considerate than
their German allies, for they not only gave Sir Edwin his liberty and
his papers, but permitted him to return to London.

Bedri, however, was a little mortified at my successful intervention in
this instance and decided to even up the score. Next to Sir Edwin Pears,
the most prominent English-speaking barrister in Constantinople was Dr.
Mizzi, a Maltese, 70 years old. The ruling powers had a grudge against
him, for he was the proprietor of the _Levant Herald_, a paper which had
published articles criticizing the Union and Progress Committee. On the
very night of the Pears episode, Bedri went to Dr. Mizzi’s house at
eleven o’clock, routed the old gentleman out of bed, arrested him, and
placed him on a train for Angora, in Asia Minor. As a terrible epidemic
of typhus was raging in Angora, this was not a desirable place of
residence for a man of Dr. Mizzi’s years. The next morning, when I heard
of it for the first time, Dr. Mizzi was well on the way to his place of
exile.

“This time I got ahead of you!” said Bedri, with a triumphant laugh. He
was as good-natured about it and as pleased as a boy. At last he had
“put one over” on the American Ambassador, who had been unguardedly
asleep in his bed when this old man had been railroaded to a fever camp
in Asia Minor.

But Bedri’s success was not so complete, after all. At my request Talaat
had Dr. Mizzi sent to Konia, instead of to Angora. There one of the
American missionaries, Dr. Dodd, had a splendid hospital; I arranged
that Dr. Mizzi could have a nice room in this building, and here he
lived for several months, with congenial associates, good food, a
healthy atmosphere, all the books he wanted, and one thing without which
he would have been utterly miserable--a piano. So I still thought that
the honours between Bedri and myself were a little better than even.

Early in January, 1916, word was received that the English were
maltreating Turkish war prisoners in Egypt. Soon afterward I received
letters from two Australians, Commander Stoker and Lieutenant
Fitzgerald, telling me that they had been confined for eleven days in a
miserable, damp dungeon at the War Office, with no companions except a
monstrous swarm of vermin. These two naval officers had come to
Constantinople on one of that famous fleet of American-built submarines
which had made the daring trip from England, dived under the mines in
the Dardanelles, and arrived in the Marmora, where for several weeks
they terrorized and dominated this inland sea, practically putting an
end to all shipping. The particular submarine on which my correspondents
arrived, the _E_ 15, had been caught in the Dardanelles, and its crew
and officers had been sent to the Turkish military prison at Afium Kara
Hissar in Asia Minor. When news of the alleged maltreatment of Turkish
prisoners in Egypt was received, lots were drawn among these prisoners
to see which two should be taken to Constantinople and imprisoned in
reprisal. Stoker and Fitzgerald drew the unlucky numbers, and had been
lying in this terrible underground cell for eleven days. I immediately
took the matter up with Enver and suggested that a neutral doctor and
officer examine the Turks in Egypt and report on the truth of the
stories. We promptly received word that the report was false, and that,
as a matter of fact, the Turkish prisoners in English hands were
receiving excellent treatment.

About this time I called on Monsignor Dolci, the Apostolic Delegate to
Turkey. He happened to refer to a Lieutenant Fitzgerald, who, he said,
was then a prisoner of war at Afium Kara Hissar.

“I am much interested in him,” said Monsignor Dolci, “because he is
engaged to the daughter of the British Minister to the Vatican. I spoke
to Enver about him and he promised that he would receive special
treatment.”

“What is his first name?” I asked.

“Jeffrey.”

“He’s receiving ‘special treatment’ indeed,” I answered. “Do you know
that he is in a dungeon in Constantinople this very moment?”

Naturally M. Dolci was much disturbed but I reassured him, saying that
his protégé would be released in a few days.

“You see how shamefully you treated these young men,” I now said to
Enver, “you should do something to make amends.”

“All right, what would you suggest?”

Stoker and Fitzgerald were prisoners of war, and, according to the usual
rule, would have been sent back to the prison camp after being released
from their dungeon. I now proposed that Enver should give them a
vacation of eight days in Constantinople. He entered into the spirit of
the occasion and the men were released. They certainly presented a sorry
sight; they had spent twenty-five days in the dungeon, with no chance to
bathe or to shave, with no change of linen or any of the decencies of
life. But Mr. Philip took charge, furnished them the necessaries, and in
a brief period we had before us two young and handsome British naval
officers. Their eight days’ freedom turned out to be a triumphal
procession, notwithstanding that they were always accompanied by an
English-speaking Turkish officer. Monsignor Dolci and the American
Embassy entertained them at dinner and they had a pleasant visit at the
Girls’ College. When the time came to return to their prison camp, the
young men declared that they would be glad to spend another month in
dungeons if they could have a corresponding period of freedom in the
city when liberated.

In spite of all that has happened I shall always have one kindly
recollection of Enver for his treatment of Fitzgerald. I told the
Minister of War about the Lieutenant’s engagement.

“Don’t you think he’s been punished enough?” I asked. “Why don’t you let
the boy go home and marry his sweetheart?”

The proposition immediately appealed to Enver’s sentimental side.

“I’ll do it,” he replied, “if he will give me his word of honour not to
fight against Turkey any more.”

Fitzgerald naturally gave this promise, and so his comparatively brief
stay in the dungeon had the result of freeing him from imprisonment and
restoring him to happiness. As poor Stoker had formed no romantic
attachments that would have justified a similar plea in his case, he had
to go back to the prison in Asia Minor. He did this, however, in a
genuinely sporting spirit that was worthy of the best traditions of the
British navy.



CHAPTER XXI

BULGARIA ON THE AUCTION BLOCK


The failure of the Allied fleet at the Dardanelles did not definitely
settle the fate of Constantinople. Naturally the Turks and the Germans
felt immensely relieved when the fleet sailed away. But they were by no
means entirely easy in their minds. The most direct road to the ancient
capital still remained available to their enemies.

In early September, 1915, one of the most influential Germans in the
city gave me a detailed explanation of the prevailing military
situation. He summed up the whole matter in the single phrase:

“We cannot hold the Dardanelles without the military support of
Bulgaria.”

This meant, of course, that unless Bulgaria aligned herself with Turkey
and the Central Empires, the Gallipoli expedition would succeed,
Constantinople would fall, the Turkish Empire would collapse, Russia
would be reëstablished as an economic and military power, and the war,
in a comparatively brief period, would terminate in a victory for the
Entente. Not improbably the real neutrality of Bulgaria would have had
the same result. It is thus perhaps not too much to say that, in
September and October of 1915, the Bulgarian Government held the
duration of the war in its hands.

This fact is of such preëminent importance that I can hardly emphasize
it too strongly. I suggest that my readers take down the map of a part
of the world with which they are not very familiar--that of the Balkan
States, as determined by the Treaty of Bucharest. All that remains of
European Turkey is a small irregular area stretching about one hundred
miles west of Constantinople. The nation whose land is contiguous to
European Turkey is Bulgaria. The main railroad line to Western Europe
starts at Constantinople and runs through Bulgaria, by way of
Adrianople, Philippopolis, and Sofia. At that time Bulgaria could muster
an army of 500,000 well-trained, completely organized troops. Should
these once start marching toward Constantinople, there was practically
nothing to bar their way. Turkey had a considerable army, it is true,
but it was then finding plenty of employment repelling the Allied forces
at the Dardanelles and the Russians in the Caucasus. With Bulgaria
hostile, Turkey could obtain neither troops nor munitions from Germany.
Turkey would have been completely isolated, and, under the pounding of
Bulgaria, would have disappeared as a military force, and as a European
state, in one very brief campaign.

I wish to direct particular attention to this railroad, for it was,
after all, the main strategic prize for which Germany was contending.
After leaving Sofia it crosses northeastern Serbia, the most important
stations being at Nish and Belgrade. From the latter point it crosses
the River Save and later the River Danube, and thence pursues its course
to Budapest and Vienna and thence to Berlin. Practically all the
military operations that took place in the Balkans in 1915-16 had for
their ultimate object the possession of this road. Once holding this
line Turkey and

[Illustration]

Germany would no longer be separated; economically and militarily they
would become a unit. The Dardanelles, as I have described, was the link
that connected Russia with her allies; with this passage closed Russia’s
collapse rapidly followed. The valleys of the Morava and the Maritza, in
which this railroad is laid, constituted for Turkey a kind of waterless
Dardanelles. In her possession it gave her access to her allies; in the
possession of her enemies, the Ottoman Empire would go to pieces. Only
the accession of Bulgaria to the Teutonic cause could give the Turks and
Germans this advantage. As soon as Bulgaria entered, that section of the
railroad extending to the Serbian frontier would at once become
available. If Bulgaria joined the Central Powers as an active
participant, the conquest of Serbia would

[Illustration: TCHEMENLIK AND FORT ANADOLU HAMIDIÉ

     The latter, the works in the background, was the chief
     fortification on the Asiatic side. It inflicted the most damage on
     the Allied fleet and was the chief object of the fleet’s attack. It
     was almost entirely manned by German officers and men.
]

[Illustration: FORT DARDANOS

     These guns date from 1905. It was not until Bulgaria entered the
     war and Serbia was overwhelmed that the Germans reinforced the
     Dardanelles. Now this strait is as completely fortified as
     Heligoland. Probably all the fleets of the world could not force
     the passage to-day.
]

inevitably follow, and this would give the link extending from Nish to
Belgrade to the Teutonic powers. Thus the Bulgarian alliance would make
Constantinople a suburb of Berlin, place all the resources of the Krupps
at the disposal of the Turkish army, make inevitable the failure of the
Allied attack on Gallipoli, and lay the foundation of that Oriental
Empire which had been for thirty years the mainspring of German policy.

It is thus apparent what my German friend meant when, in early
September, he said that, “without Bulgaria we cannot hold the
Dardanelles.” Everybody sees this so clearly now that there is a
prevalent belief that Germany had arranged this Bulgarian alliance
before the outbreak of the war. On this point I have no definite
knowledge. That the Bulgarian king and the Kaiser may have arranged this
coöperation in advance is not unlikely. But we must not make the mistake
of believing that this settled the matter, for the experience of the
last few years shows us that treaties are not to be taken too seriously.
Whether there was an understanding or not, I know that the Turkish
officials and the Germans by no means regarded it as settled that
Bulgaria would take their side. In their talks with me they constantly
showed the utmost apprehension over the outcome; and at one time the
fear was general that Bulgaria would take the side of the Entente.

I had my first personal contact with the Bulgarian negotiations in the
latter part of May, when I was informed that M. Koloucheff, the
Bulgarian Minister, had notified Robert College that the Bulgarian
students could not remain until the end of the college year, but would
have to return home by June 5th. The Constantinople College for Women
had also received word that all the Bulgarian girls must return at the
same time. Both these American institutions had many Bulgarian students,
in most cases splendid representatives of their country; it is through
these colleges, indeed, that the distant United States and Bulgaria had
established such friendly relations. But they had never had such an
experience before.

Everybody was discussing the meaning of this move. It seemed quite
apparent. The chief topic of conversation at that time was Bulgaria.
Would she enter the war? If so, on which side would she cast her
fortunes? One day it was reported that she would join the Entente; the
next day that she had decided to ally herself with the Central Powers.
The prevailing belief was that she was actively bargaining with both
sides and looking for the highest terms. Should Bulgaria go with the
Entente, however, it would be undesirable to have any Bulgarian subjects
marooned in Turkey. As the boys and girls in the American colleges
usually came from important Bulgarian families--one of them was the
daughter of General Ivanoff, who led the Bulgarian armies in the Balkan
wars--the Bulgarian Government might naturally have a particular
interest in their safety.

The conclusion reached by most people was that Bulgaria had decided to
take the side of the Entente. The news rapidly spread throughout
Constantinople. The Turks were particularly impressed. Dr. Patrick,
President of Constantinople College for Women, arranged a hurried
commencement for her Bulgarian students, which I attended. It was a sad
occasion, more like a funeral than the festivity that usually took
place. I found the Bulgarian girls almost in a hysterical state; they
all believed that war was coming immediately, and that they were being
bundled home merely to prevent them from falling into the clutches of
the Turks. My sympathies were so aroused that we brought them down to
the American Embassy, where we all spent a delightful evening. After
dinner the girls dried their eyes and entertained us by singing many of
their beautiful Bulgarian songs, and what had started as a mournful day
thus had a happy ending. Next morning the girls all left for Bulgaria.

A few weeks afterward the Bulgarian Minister told me that the Government
had summoned the students home merely for political effect. There was no
immediate likelihood of war, he said. But Bulgaria wished Germany and
Turkey to understand that there was still a chance that she might join
the Entente. Bulgaria, as all of us suspected, was apparently on the
auction block. The one fixed fact in the Bulgarian position was the
determination to have Macedonia. Everything, said Koloucheff, depended
upon that. His conversations reflected the general Bulgarian view that
Bulgaria had fairly won this territory in the first Balkan war, that the
Powers had unjustly permitted her to be deprived of it, that it was
Bulgarian by race, language, and tradition, and that there could be no
permanent peace in the Balkans until it was returned to its rightful
possessors. But Bulgaria insisted on more than a promise, to be redeemed
after the war was over; she demanded immediate occupation. Once
Macedonia were turned over to Bulgaria, she would join her forces to
those of the Entente. There were two great prizes in the game then
being played in the Balkans: one was Macedonia, which Bulgaria must
have; and the other Constantinople, which Russia was determined to get.
Bulgaria was entirely willing that Russia should have Constantinople if
she herself could obtain Macedonia.

I was given to understand that the Bulgarian General Staff had plans all
completed for the capture of Constantinople, and that they had shown
these plans to the Entente. Their programme called for a Bulgarian army
of about 300,000 men who would besiege Constantinople twenty-three days
from the time the signal to start should be given. But promises of
Macedonia would not suffice; the Bulgarian must have possession.

Bulgaria recognized the difficulties of the Allied position. She did not
believe that Serbia and Greece would voluntarily surrender Macedonia,
nor did she believe that the Allies would dare to take this country away
from them by force. In that event, she thought that there was a danger
that Serbia might make a separate peace with the Central Powers. On the
other hand, Bulgaria would object if Serbia received Bosnia and
Herzegovina as compensation for the loss of Macedonia--she felt that an
enlarged Serbia would be a constant menace to her, and hence a future
menace to peace in the Balkans. Thus the situation was extremely
difficult and complicated.

One of the best-informed men in Turkey was Paul Weitz, the correspondent
of the _Frankfurter Zeitung_. Weitz was more than a journalist; he had
spent thirty years in Constantinople; he had the most intimate personal
knowledge of Turkish affairs, and he was the confidant and adviser of
the German Embassy. His duties there were actually semi-diplomatic.
Weitz had really been one of the most successful agencies in the German
penetration of Turkey; it was common talk that he knew every important
man in the Turkish Empire, the best way to approach him, and his price.
I had several talks with Weitz about Bulgaria during those critical
August and early September days. He said many times that it was not at
all certain that she would join her forces with Germany. Yet on
September 7th Weitz came to me with important news. The situation had
changed over night. Baron Neurath, the Conseiller of the German Embassy
at Constantinople, had gone to Sofia, and, as a result of his visit, an
agreement had been signed that would make Bulgaria Germany’s ally.

Germany, said Weitz, had won over Bulgaria by doing something which the
Entente had not been able and willing to do. It had secured her the
possession at once of a piece of coveted territory. Serbia had refused
to give Bulgaria immediate possession of Macedonia; Turkey, on the other
hand, had now surrendered a piece of the Ottoman Empire. The amount of
land in question, it is true, was apparently insignificant, yet it had
great strategic advantages and represented a genuine sacrifice by
Turkey. The Maritza River, a few miles north of Enos, bends to the east,
to the north, and then to the west again, creating a block of territory,
with an area of nearly 1,000 square miles, including the important
cities of Demotica, Kara Agatch, and half of Adrianople. What makes this
land particularly important is that it contains about fifty miles of the
railroad which runs from Dedeagatch to Sofia. All this railroad, that
is, except

[Illustration]

this fifty miles, is laid in Bulgarian territory; this short strip,
extending through Turkey, cuts Bulgaria’s communications with the
Mediterranean. Naturally Bulgaria yearned for this piece of land; and
Turkey now handed it over to her. This cession changed the whole Balkan
situation and it made Bulgaria an ally of Turkey and the Central Powers.
Besides the railroad, Bulgaria obtained that part of Adrianople which
lay west of the Maritza River. In addition, of course, Bulgaria was to
receive Macedonia, as soon as that province could be occupied by
Bulgaria and her allies.

I vividly remember the exultation of Weitz when this agreement was
signed.

“It’s all settled,” he told me. “Bulgaria has decided to join us. It was
all arranged last night at Sofia.”

The Turks also were greatly relieved. For the first time they saw the
way out of their troubles. The Bulgarian arrangement, Enver told me, had
taken a tremendous weight off their minds.

“We Turks are entitled to the credit,” he said, “of bringing Bulgaria in
on the side of the Central Powers. She would never have come to our
assistance if we hadn’t given her that slice of land. By surrendering it
immediately and not waiting till the end of the war, we showed our good
faith. It was very hard for us to do it, of course, especially to give
up part of the city of Adrianople, but it was worth the price. We really
surrendered this territory in exchange for Constantinople, for if
Bulgaria had not come in on our side, we would have lost this city. Just
think how enormously we have improved our position. We have had to keep
more than 200,000 men at the Bulgarian frontier, to protect us against
any possible attack from that quarter. We can now transfer all these
troops to the Gallipoli peninsula, and thus make it absolutely
impossible that the Allies’ expedition can succeed. We are also greatly
hampered at the Dardanelles by the lack of ammunition. But Bulgaria,
Austria, and Germany are to make a joint attack on Serbia and will
completely control that country in a few weeks. So we shall have a
direct railroad line from Constantinople into Austria and Germany and
can get all the war supplies which we need. With Bulgaria on our side no
attack can be made on Constantinople from the north--we have created an
impregnable bulwark against Russia. I do not deny that the situation had
caused us great anxiety. We were afraid that Greece and Bulgaria would
join hands, and that would also bring in Rumania. Then Turkey would have
been lost; they would have had us between a pair of pincers. But now we
have only one task before us, that is to drive the English and French at
the Dardanelles into the sea. With all the soldiers and all the
ammunition which we need, we shall do this in a very short time. We gave
up a small area because we saw that that was the way to win the war.”

The outcome justified Enver’s prophecies in almost every detail. Three
months after Bulgaria accepted the Adrianople bribe, the Entente
admitted defeat and withdrew its forces from the Dardanelles; and, with
this withdrawal, Russia, which was the greatest potential source of
strength to the Allied cause and the country which, properly organized
and supplied, might have brought the Allies a speedy triumph,
disappeared as a vital factor in the war. When the British and French
withdrew from Gallipoli that action turned adrift this huge hulk of a
country to flounder to anarchy, dissolution, and ruin.

The Germans celebrated this great triumph in a way that was
characteristically Teutonic. In their

[Illustration: THE AMERICAN WARD OF THE TURKISH HOSPITAL]

[Illustration: STUDENTS OF THE CONSTANTINOPLE COLLEGE (An American
institution)

On the terrace of the American Embassy. The young man to the left of Mr.
Morgenthau is M. Koloucheff, Bulgarian Minister to Turkey.]

minds, January 17, 1916, stands out as one of the big dates in the war.
There was great rejoicing in Constantinople, for the first Balkan
express--or, as the Germans called it, the _Balkanzug_--was due to
arrive that afternoon! The railroad station was decorated with flags and
flowers, and the whole German and Austrian population of Constantinople,
including the Embassy staffs, assembled to welcome the incoming train.
As it finally rolled into the station, thousands of “hochs” went up from
as many raucous throats.

Since that January 17, 1916, the Balkanzug has run regularly from Berlin
to Constantinople. The Germans believe that it is as permanent a feature
of the new Germanic Empire as the line from Berlin to Hamburg.



CHAPTER XXII

THE TURK REVERTS TO THE ANCESTRAL TYPE


The withdrawal of the Allied fleet from the Dardanelles had consequences
which the world does not yet completely understand. The practical effect
of the event, as I have said, was to isolate the Turkish Empire from all
the world excepting Germany and Austria. England, France, Russia, and
Italy, which for a century had held a restraining hand over the Ottoman
Empire, had finally lost all power to influence or control. The Turks
now perceived that a series of dazzling events had changed them from
cringing dependents of the European Powers into free agents. For the
first time in two centuries they could now live their national life
according to their own inclinations, and govern their peoples according
to their own will. The first expression of this rejuvenated national
life was an episode which, so far as I know, is the most terrible in the
history of the world. New Turkey, freed from European tutelage,
celebrated its national rebirth by murdering not far from a million of
its own subjects.

I can hardly exaggerate the effect which the repulse of the Allied fleet
produced upon the Turks. They believed that they had won the really
great decisive battle of the war. For several centuries, they said, the
British fleet had victoriously sailed the seas and had now met its first
serious reverse at the hands of the Turks. In the first moments of
their pride, the Young Turk leaders saw visions of the complete
resurrection of their empire. What had for two centuries been a decaying
nation had suddenly started on a new and glorious life. In their pride
and arrogance the Turks began to look with disdain upon the people that
had taught them what they knew of modern warfare, and nothing angered
them so much as any suggestion that they owed any part of their success
to their German allies.

“Why should we feel any obligation to the Germans?” Enver would say to
me. “What have they done for us which compares with what we have done
for them? They have lent us some money and sent us a few officers, it is
true, but see what we have done! We have defeated the British
fleet--something which neither the Germans nor any other nation could
do. We have stationed armies on the Caucasian front, and so have kept
busy large bodies of Russian troops that would have been used on the
western front. Similarly we have compelled England to keep large armies
in Egypt, in Mesopotamia, and in that way we have weakened the Allied
armies in France. No, the Germans could never have achieved their
military successes without us; the shoe of obligation is entirely on
their foot.”

This conviction possessed the leaders of the Union and Progress Party
and now began to have a determining effect upon Turkish national life
and Turkish policy. Essentially the Turk is a bully and a coward; he is
brave as a lion when things are going his way, but cringing, abject, and
nerveless when reverses are overwhelming him. And now that the fortunes
of war were apparently favouring the empire, I began to see an entirely
new Turk unfolding before my eyes. The hesitating and fearful Ottoman,
feeling his way cautiously amid the mazes of European diplomacy, and
seeking opportunities to find an advantage for himself in the divided
counsels of the European powers, gave place to an upstanding, almost
dashing figure, proud and assertive, determined to live his own life and
absolutely contemptuous of his Christian foes. I was really witnessing a
remarkable development in race psychology--an almost classical instance
of reversion to type. The ragged, unkempt Turk of the twentieth century
was vanishing and in his place was appearing the Turk of the fourteenth
and the fifteenth, the Turk who had swept out of his Asiatic fastnesses,
conquered all the powerful peoples in his way, and founded in Asia,
Africa, and Europe one of the most extensive empires that history has
known. If we are properly to appreciate this new Talaat and Enver and
the events which now took place, we must understand the Turk who, under
Osman and his successors, exercised this mighty but devastating
influence in the world. We must realize that the basic fact underlying
the Turkish mentality is its utter contempt for all other races. A
fairly insane pride is the element that largely explains this strange
human species. The common term applied by the Turk to the Christian is
“dog,” and in his estimation this is no mere rhetorical figure; he
actually looks upon his European neighbours as far less worthy of
consideration than his own domestic animals. “My son,” an old Turk once
said, “do you see that herd of swine? Some are white, some are black,
some are large, some are small--they differ from each other in some
respects, but they are all swine. So it is with Christians. Be not
deceived, my son. These Christians may wear fine clothes, their women
may be very beautiful to look upon; their skins are white and splendid;
many of them are very intelligent and they build wonderful cities and
create what seem to be great states. But remember that underneath all
this dazzling exterior they are all the same--they are all swine.”

Practically all foreigners, while in the presence of a Turk, are
conscious of this attitude. The Turk may be obsequiously polite, but
there is invariably an almost unconscious feeling that he is mentally
shrinking from his Christian friend as something unclean. And this
fundamental conviction for centuries directed the Ottoman policy toward
its subject peoples. This wild horde swept from the plains of Central
Asia and, like a whirlwind, overwhelmed the nations of Mesopotamia and
Asia Minor; it conquered Egypt, Arabia, and practically all of northern
Africa and then poured into Europe, crushed the Balkan nations, occupied
a large part of Hungary, and even established the outposts of the
Ottoman Empire in the southern part of Russia. So far as I can discover,
the Ottoman Turks had only one great quality, that of military genius.
They had several military leaders of commanding ability, and the early
conquering Turks were brave, fanatical, and tenacious fighters, just as
their descendants are to-day. I think that these old Turks present the
most complete illustration in history of the brigand idea in politics.
They were lacking in what we may call the fundamentals of a civilized
community. They had no alphabet and no art of writing; no books, no
poets, no art, and no architecture; they built no cities and they
established no lasting state. They knew no law except the rule of might,
and they had practically no agriculture and no industrial organization.
They were simply wild and marauding horsemen, whose one conception of
tribal success was to pounce upon people who were more civilized than
themselves and plunder them. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries
these tribes overran the cradles of modern civilization, which have
given Europe its religion and, to a large extent, its civilization. At
that time these territories were the seats of many peaceful and
prosperous nations. The Mesopotamian valley supported a large
industrious agricultural population; Bagdad was one of the largest and
most flourishing cities in existence; Constantinople had a greater
population than Rome, and the Balkan region and Asia Minor contained
several powerful states. Over all this part of the world the Turk now
swept as a huge, destructive force. Mesopotamia in a few years became a
desert; the great cities of the Near East were reduced to misery, and
the subject peoples became slaves. Such graces of civilization as the
Turk has acquired in five centuries have practically all been taken from
the subject peoples whom he so greatly despises. His religion comes from
the Arabs; his language has acquired a certain literary value by
borrowing certain Arabic and Persian elements; and his writing is
Arabic. Constantinople’s finest architectural monument, the Mosque of
St. Sophia, was originally a Christian church, and all so-called Turkish
architecture is derived from the Byzantine. The mechanism of business
and industry has always rested in the hands of the subject peoples,
Greeks, Jews, Armenians, and Arabs. The Turks have learned little of
European art or science, they have established very few educational
institutions, and illiteracy is the prevailing rule. The result is that
poverty has attained a degree of sordidness and misery in the Ottoman
Empire which is almost unparalleled elsewhere. The Turkish peasant lives
in a mud hut; he sleeps on a dirt floor; he has no chairs, no tables, no
eating utensils, no clothes except the few scant garments which cover
his back and which he usually wears for many years.

In the course of time these Turks might learn certain things from their
European and Arab neighbours, but there was one idea which they could
never even faintly grasp. They could not understand that a conquered
people were anything except slaves. When they took possession of a land,
they found it occupied by a certain number of camels, horses, buffaloes,
dogs, swine, and human beings. Of all these living things the object
that physically most resembled themselves they regarded as the least
important. It became a common saying with them that a horse or a camel
was far more valuable than a man; these animals cost money, whereas
“infidel Christians” were plentiful in the Ottoman countries and could
easily be forced to labour. It is true that the early Sultans gave the
subject peoples and the Europeans in the empire certain rights, but
these in themselves really reflected the contempt in which all
non-Moslems were held. I have already described the “Capitulations,”
under which foreigners in Turkey had their own courts, prisons,
post-offices, and other institutions. Yet the early sultans gave these
privileges not from a spirit of tolerance, but merely because they
looked upon the Christian nations as unclean and therefore unfit to
have any contact with the Ottoman administrative and judicial system.
The sultans similarly erected the several peoples, such as the Greeks
and the Armenians, into separate “millets,” or nations, not because they
desired to promote their independence and welfare, but because they
regarded them as vermin, and therefore disqualified for membership in
the Ottoman state. The attitude of the Government toward their Christian
subjects was illustrated by certain regulations which limited their
freedom of action. The buildings in which Christians lived should not be
conspicuous and their churches should have no belfry. Christians could
not ride a horse in the city, for that was the exclusive right of the
noble Moslem. The Turk had the right to test the sharpness of his sword
upon the neck of any Christian.

Imagine a great government year in and year out maintaining this
attitude toward many millions of its own subjects! And for centuries the
Turks simply lived like parasites upon these overburdened and
industrious people. They taxed them to economic extinction, stole their
most beautiful daughters and forced them into their harems, took
Christian male infants by the hundreds of thousands and brought them up
as Moslem soldiers. I have no intention of describing the terrible
vassalage and oppression that went on for five centuries; my purpose is
merely to emphasize this innate attitude of the Moslem Turk to people
not of his own race and religion--that they are not human beings with
rights, but merely chattels, which may be permitted to live when they
promote the interest of their masters, but which may be pitilessly
destroyed when they have ceased to be useful. This attitude is
intensified by a total disregard for human life and an intense delight
in inflicting physical human suffering which are not unusually the
qualities of primitive peoples.

Such were the mental characteristics of the Turk in his days of military
greatness. In recent times his attitude toward foreigners and his
subject peoples had superficially changed. His own military decline and
the ease with which the infidel nations defeated his finest armies had
apparently given the haughty descendants of Osman a respect at least for
their prowess. The rapid disappearance of his own empire in a hundred
years, the creation out of the Ottoman Empire of new states like Greece,
Serbia, Bulgaria, and Rumania, and the wonderful improvement which had
followed the destruction of the Turkish yoke in these benighted lands,
may have increased the Ottoman hatred for the unbeliever, but at least
they had a certain influence in opening his eyes to his importance. Many
Turks also now received their education in European universities; they
studied in their professional schools, and they became physicians,
surgeons, lawyers, engineers, and chemists of the modern kind. However
much the more progressive Moslems might despise their Christian
associates, they could not ignore the fact that the finest things, in
this temporal world at least, were the products of European and American
civilization. And now that one development of modern history which
seemed to be least understandable to the Turk began to force itself upon
the consciousness of the more intelligent and progressive. Certain
leaders arose who began to speak surreptitiously of such things as
“Constitutionalism,” “Liberty,” “Self-government,” and to whom the
Declaration of Independence contained certain truths that might have a
value even for Islam. These daring spirits began to dream of overturning
the autocratic Sultan and of substituting a parliamentary system for his
irresponsible rule. I have already described the rise and fall of this
Young Turk movement under such leaders as Talaat, Enver, Djemal, and
their associates in the Committee of Union and Progress. The point which
I am emphasizing here is that this movement presupposed a complete
transformation of Turkish mentality, especially in its attitude toward
subject peoples. No longer, under the reformed Turkish state, were
Greeks, Syrians, Armenians, and Jews to be regarded as “filthy giaours.”
All these peoples were henceforth to have equal rights and equal duties.
A general love feast now followed the establishment of the new régime,
and scenes of almost frenzied reconciliation, in which Turks and
Armenians embraced each other publicly, apparently signalized the
absolute union of the long antagonistic peoples. The Turkish leaders,
including Talaat and Enver, visited Christian churches and sent forth
prayers of thanksgiving for the new order, and went to Armenian
cemeteries to shed tears of retribution over the bones of the martyred
Armenians who lay there. Armenian priests reciprocally paid their
tributes to the Turks in Mohammedan mosques. Enver Pasha visited several
Armenian schools, telling the children that the old days of
Moslem-Christian strife had passed forever and that the two peoples were
now to live together as brothers and sisters. There were cynics who
smiled at all these demonstrations and yet one development encouraged
even them to believe that an earthly paradise had arrived. All through
the period of domination only the master Moslem had been permitted to
bear arms and serve in the Ottoman army. To be a soldier was an
occupation altogether too manly and glorious for the despised Christian.
But now the Young Turks encouraged all Christians to arm, and enrolled
them in the army on an equality with Moslems. These Christians fought,
both as officers and soldiers, in the Italian and the Balkan wars,
winning high praise from the Turkish generals for their valour and
skill. Armenian leaders had figured conspicuously in the Young Turk
movement; these men apparently believed that a constitutional Turkey was
possible. They were conscious of their own intellectual and industrial
superiority to the Turks, and knew that they could prosper in the
Ottoman Empire if left alone, whereas, under European control, they
would have greater difficulty in meeting the competition of the more
rigorous European colonists who might come in. With the deposition of
the Red Sultan, Abdul Hamid, and the establishment of a constitutional
system, the Armenians now for the first time in several centuries felt
themselves to be free men.

But, as I have already described, all these aspirations vanished like a
dream. Long before the European War began, the Turkish democracy had
disappeared. The power of the new Sultan had gone, and the hopes of
regenerating Turkey on modern lines had gone also, leaving only a group
of individuals, headed by Talaat and Enver, actually in possession of
the state. Having lost their democratic aspirations these men now
supplanted them with a new national conception. In place of a democratic
constitutional state they resurrected the idea of Pan-Turkism; in place
of equal treatment of all Ottomans, they decided to establish a country
exclusively for Turks. I have called this a new conception; yet it was
new only to the individuals who then controlled the destiny of the
empire, for, in reality, it was simply an attempt to revive the most
barbaric ideas of their ancestors. It represented, as I have said,
merely an atavistic reversion to the original Turk. We now saw that the
Turkish leaders, in talking about liberty, equality, fraternity, and
constitutionalism, were merely children repeating phrases; that they had
used the word “democracy” merely as a ladder by which to climb to power.
After five hundred years’ close contact with European civilization, the
Turk remained precisely the same individual as the one who had emerged
from the steppes of Asia in the Middle Ages. He was clinging just as
tenaciously as his ancestors to that conception of a state as consisting
of a few master individuals whose right it is to enslave and plunder and
maltreat any peoples whom they can subject to their military control.
Though Talaat and Enver and Djemal all came of the humblest families,
the same fundamental ideas of master and slave possessed them that
formed the statecraft of Osman and the early Sultans. We now discovered
that a paper constitution and even tearful visits to Christian churches
and cemeteries could not uproot the inborn preconception of this nomadic
tribe that there are only two kinds of people in the world--the
conquering and the conquered.

When the Turkish Government abrogated the Capitulations, and in this way
freed themselves from the domination of the foreign powers, they were
merely taking one step toward realizing this Pan-Turkish ideal. I have
alluded to the difficulties which I had with them over the Christian
schools. Their determination to uproot these, or at least to transform
them into Turkish institutions, was merely another detail in the same
racial progress. Similarly, they attempted to make all foreign business
houses employ only Turkish labour, insisting that they should discharge
their Greek, Armenian, and Jewish clerks, stenographers, workmen, and
other employees. They ordered all foreign houses to keep their books in
Turkish; they wanted to furnish employment for Turks, and enable them to
acquire modern business methods. The Ottoman Government even refused to
have any dealings with the representative of the largest Austrian
munition maker unless he admitted a Turk as a partner. They developed a
mania for suppressing all languages except Turkish. For decades French
had been the accepted language of foreigners in Constantinople; most
street signs were printed in both French and Turkish. One morning the
astonished foreign residents discovered that all these French signs had
been removed and that the names of streets, the directions on street
cars, and other public notices, appeared only in those strange Turkish
characters, which very few of them understood. Great confusion resulted
from this change, but the ruling powers refused to restore the detested
foreign language.

These leaders not only reverted to the barbaric conceptions of their
ancestors, but they went to extremes that had never entered the minds of
the early sultans. Their fifteenth and sixteenth century predecessors
treated the subject peoples as dirt under their feet, yet they believed
that they had a certain usefulness and did not disdain to make them
their slaves. But this Committee of Union and Progress, led by Talaat
and Enver, now decided to do away with them altogether. The old
conquering Turks had made the Christians their servants, but their
parvenu descendants bettered their instruction, for they determined to
exterminate them wholesale and Turkify the empire by massacring the
non-Moslem elements. Originally this was not the statesmanlike
conception of Talaat and Enver; the man who first devised it was one of
the greatest monsters known to history, the “Red Sultan,” Abdul Hamid.
This man came to the throne in 1876, at a critical period in Turkish
history. In the first two years of his reign, he lost Bulgaria as well
as important provinces in the Caucasus, his last remaining vestiges of
sovereignty in Montenegro, Serbia, and Rumania, and all his real powers
in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Greece had long since become an independent
nation, and the processes that were to wrench Egypt from the Ottoman
Empire had already begun. As the Sultan took stock of his inheritance,
he could easily foresee the day when all the rest of his domain would
pass into the hand of the infidel. What had caused this disintegration
of this extensive Turkish Empire? The real cause, of course, lay deep in
the character of the Turk, but Abdul Hamid saw only the more obvious
fact that the intervention of the great European Powers had brought
relief to these imprisoned nations. Of all the new kingdoms which had
been carved out of the Sultan’s dominions, Serbia--let us remember this
fact to her everlasting honour--is the only one that has won her own
independence. Russia, France, and Great Britain have set free all the
rest. And what had happened several times before might happen again.
There still remained one compact race in the Ottoman Empire that had
national aspirations and national potentialities. In the northeastern
part of Asia Minor, bordering on Russia, there were six provinces in
which the Armenians formed the largest element in the population. From
the time of Herodotus this portion of Asia has borne the name of
Armenia. The Armenians of the present day are the direct descendants of
the people who inhabited the country three thousand years ago. Their
origin is so ancient that it is lost in fable and mystery. There are
still undeciphered cuneiform inscriptions on the rocky hills of Van, the
largest Armenian city, that have led certain scholars--though not many,
I must admit--to identify the Armenian race with the Hittites of the
Bible. What is definitely known about the Armenians, however, is that
for ages they have constituted the most civilized and most industrious
race in the eastern section of the Ottoman Empire. From their mountains
they have spread over the Sultan’s dominions, and form a considerable
element in the population of all the large cities. Everywhere they are
known for their industry, their intelligence, and their decent and
orderly lives. They are so superior to the Turks intellectually and
morally that much of the business and industry had passed into their
hands. With the Greeks, the Armenians constitute the economic strength
of the empire. These people became Christians in the fourth century and
established the Armenian Church as their state religion. This is said to
be the oldest Christian Church in existence.

In face of persecutions which have had no parallel elsewhere these
people have clung to their early Christian faith with the utmost
tenacity. For fifteen hundred years they have lived there in Armenia, a
little island of Christians surrounded by backward peoples of hostile
religion and hostile race. Their long existence has been one unending
martyrdom. The territory which they inhabit forms the connecting link
between Europe and Asia, and all the Asiatic invasions--Saracens,
Tartars, Mongols, Kurds, and Turks--have passed over their peaceful
country. For centuries they have thus been the Belgium of the East.
Through all this period the Armenians have regarded themselves not as
Asiatics, but as Europeans. They speak an Indo-European language, their
racial origin is believed by scholars to be Aryan, and the fact that
their religion is the religion of Europe has always made them turn their
eyes westward. And out of that western country, they have always hoped,
would some day come the deliverance that would rescue them from their
murderous masters. And now, as Abdul Hamid, in 1876, surveyed his
shattered domain, he saw that its most dangerous spot was Armenia. He
believed, rightly or wrongly, that these Armenians, like the Rumanians,
the Bulgarians, the Greeks, and the Serbians, aspired to restore their
independent medieval nation, and he knew that Europe and America
sympathized with this ambition. The Treaty of Berlin, which had
definitely ended the Turco-Russian War, contained an article which gave
the European Powers a protecting hand over the Armenians. How could the
Sultan free himself permanently from this danger? An enlightened
administration, which would have transformed the Armenians into free men
and made them safe in their lives and property and civil and religious
rights, would probably have made them peaceful and loyal subjects. But
the Sultan could not rise to such a conception of statesmanship as this.
Instead, Abdul Hamid apparently thought that there was only one way of
ridding Turkey of the Armenian problem--and that was to rid her of the
Armenians. The physical destruction of 2,000,000 men, women, and
children by massacres, organized and directed by the state, seemed to be
the one sure way of forestalling the further disruption of the Turkish
Empire.

And now for nearly thirty years Turkey gave the world an illustration of
government by massacre. We in Europe and America heard of these events
when they reached especially monstrous proportions, as they did in
1895-96, when nearly 200,000 Armenians were most atrociously done to
death. But through all these years the existence of the Armenians was
one continuous nightmare. Their property was stolen, their men were
murdered, their women were ravished, their young girls were kidnapped
and forced to live in Turkish harems. Yet Abdul Hamid was not able to
accomplish his full purpose. Had he had his will, he would have
massacred the whole nation in one hideous orgy. He attempted to
exterminate the Armenians in 1895 and 1896, but found certain
insuperable obstructions to his scheme. Chief of these were England,
France, and Russia. These atrocities called Gladstone, then eighty-six
years old, from his retirement, and his speeches, in which he denounced
the Sultan as “the great assassin,” aroused the whole world to the
enormities that were taking place. It became apparent that unless the
Sultan desisted, England, France, and Russia would intervene, and the
Sultan well knew, that, in case this intervention took place, such
remnants of Turkey as had survived earlier partitions would disappear.
Thus Abdul Hamid had to abandon his satanic enterprise of destroying a
whole race by murder, yet Armenia continued to suffer the slow agony of
pitiless persecution. Up to the outbreak of the European War not a day
had passed in the Armenian vilayets without its outrages and its
murders. The Young Turk régime, despite its promises of universal
brotherhood, brought no respite to the Armenians. A few months after the
love feastings already described, one of the worst massacres took place
at Adana, in which 35,000 people were destroyed.

And now the Young Turks, who had adopted so many of Abdul Hamid’s ideas,
also made his Armenian policy their own. Their passion for Turkifying
the nation seemed to demand logically the extermination of all
Christians--Greeks, Syrians, and Armenians. Much as they admired the
Mohammedan conquerors of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, they
stupidly believed that these great warriors had made one fatal mistake,
for they had had it in their power completely to obliterate the
Christian populations and had neglected to do so. This policy in their
opinion was a fatal error of statesmanship and explained all the woes
from which Turkey has suffered in modern times. Had these old Moslem
chieftains, when they conquered Bulgaria, put all the Bulgarians to the
sword, and peopled the Bulgarian country with Moslem Turks, there would
never have been any modern Bulgarian problem and Turkey would never have
lost this part of her empire. Similarly, had they destroyed all the
Rumanians, Serbians, and Greeks, the provinces which are now occupied
by these races would still have remained integral parts of the Sultan’s
domain. They felt that the mistake had been a terrible one, but that
something might be saved from the ruin. They would destroy all Greeks,
Syrians, Armenians, and other Christians, move Moslem families into
their homes and into their farms, and so make sure that these
territories would not similarly be taken away from Turkey. In order to
accomplish this great reform, it would not be necessary to murder every
living Christian. The most beautiful and healthy Armenian girls could be
taken, converted forcibly to Mohammedanism, and made the wives or
concubines of devout followers of the Prophet. Their children would then
automatically become Moslems and so strengthen the empire, as the
Janissaries had strengthened it formerly. These Armenian girls represent
a high type of womanhood and the Young Turks, in their crude, intuitive
way, recognized that the mingling of their blood with the Turkish
population would exert a eugenic influence upon the whole. Armenian boys
of tender years could be taken into Turkish families and be brought up
in ignorance of the fact that they were anything but Moslems. These were
about the only elements, however, that could make any valuable
contributions to the new Turkey which was now being planned. Since all
precautions must be taken against the development of a new generation of
Armenians, it would be necessary to kill outright all men who were in
their prime and thus capable of propagating the accursed species. Old
men and women formed no great danger to the future of Turkey, for they
had already fulfilled their natural function of leaving descendants;
still they were nuisances and therefore should be disposed of.

Unlike Abdul Hamid, the Young Turks found themselves in a position where
they could carry out this holy enterprise. Great Britain, France, and
Russia had stood in the way of their predecessor. But now these
obstacles had been removed. The Young Turks, as I have said, believed
that they had defeated these nations and that they could therefore no
longer interfere with their internal affairs. Only one power could
successfully raise objections and that was Germany. In 1898, when all
the rest of Europe was ringing with Gladstone’s denunciations and
demanding intervention, Kaiser Wilhelm the Second had gone to
Constantinople, visited Abdul Hamid, pinned his finest decorations on
that bloody tyrant’s breast, and kissed him on both cheeks. The same
Kaiser who had done this in 1898 was still sitting on the throne in
1915, and was now Turkey’s ally. Thus for the first time in two
centuries the Turks, in 1915, had their Christian populations utterly at
their mercy. The time had finally come to make Turkey exclusively the
country of the Turks.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE “REVOLUTION” AT VAN


The Turkish province of Van lies in the remote northeastern corner of
Asia Minor; it touches the frontiers of Persia on the east and its
northern boundary looks toward the Caucasus. It is one of the most
beautiful and most fruitful parts of the Turkish Empire and one of the
richest in historical associations. The city of Van, which is the
capital of the vilayet, lies on the eastern shores of the lake of the
same name; it is the one large town in Asia Minor in which the Armenian
population is larger than the Moslem. In the fall of 1914, its
population of about 30,000 people represented one of the most peaceful
and happy and prosperous communities in the Turkish Empire. Though Van,
like practically every other section where Armenians lived, had had its
periods of oppression and massacre, yet the Moslem yoke, comparatively
speaking, rested upon its people rather lightly. Its Turkish governor,
Tahsin Pasha, was one of the more enlightened type of Turkish officials.
Relations between the Armenians, who lived in the better section of the
city, and the Turks and the Kurds, who occupied the mud huts in the
Moslem quarter, had been tolerably agreeable for many years.

The location of this vilayet, however, inevitably made it the scene of
military operations, and made the activities of its Armenian population
a matter of daily suspicion. Should Russia attempt an invasion of
Turkey one of the most accessible routes lay through this province. The
war had not gone far when causes of irritation arose. The requisitions
of army supplies fell far more heavily upon the Christian than upon the
Mohammedan elements in Van, just as they did in every other part of
Turkey. The Armenians had to stand quietly by while the Turkish officers
appropriated all their cattle, all their wheat, and all their goods of
every kind, giving them only worthless pieces of paper in exchange. The
attempt at general disarmament that took place also aroused their
apprehension, which was increased by the brutal treatment visited upon
Armenian soldiers in the Caucasus. On the other hand, the Turks made
many charges against the Christian population, and, in fact, they
attributed to them the larger share of the blame for the reverses which
the Turkish armies had suffered in the Caucasus. The fact that a
considerable element in the already changed forces was composed of
Armenians aroused their unbridled wrath. Since about half the Armenians
in the world inhabit the Russian provinces in the Caucasus and are
liable, like all Russians, to military service, there were certainly no
legitimate grounds for complaint, so far as these Armenian levies were
_bona fide_ subjects of the Czar. But the Turks asserted that large
numbers of Armenian soldiers in Van and other of their Armenian
provinces deserted, crossed the border, and joined the Russian army,
where their knowledge of roads and the terrain was an important factor
in the Russian victories. Though the exact facts are not yet
ascertained, it seems not unlikely that such desertions, perhaps a few
hundred, did take place. At the beginning of the war, Union and
Progress agents appeared in Erzeroum and Van and appealed to the
Armenian leaders to go into Russian Armenia and attempt to start
revolutions against the Russian Government; and the fact that the
Ottoman Armenians refused to do this contributed further to the
prevailing irritation. The Turkish Government has made much of the
“treasonable” behaviour of the Armenians of Van and have even urged it
as an excuse for their subsequent treatment of the whole race. Their
attitude illustrates once more the perversity of the Turkish mind. After
massacring hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the course of thirty
years, outraging their women and girls, and robbing and maltreating them
in every conceivable way, the Turks still apparently believed that they
had the right to expect from them the most enthusiastic “loyalty”. That
the Armenians all over Turkey sympathized with the Entente was no
secret. “If you want to know how the war is going,” wrote a humorous
Turkish newspaper, “all you need to do is to look in the face of an
Armenian. If he is smiling, then the Allies are winning; if he is
downcast, then the Germans are successful.” If an Ottoman Armenian
soldier should desert and join the Russians, that would unquestionably
constitute a technical crime against the state, and might be punished
without violating the rules of all civilized countries. Only the Turkish
mind, however--and possibly the Junker--could regard it as furnishing an
excuse for the terrible barbarities that now took place.

Though the air, all during the autumn and winter of 1914-15, was filled
with premonitions of trouble, the Armenians behaved with remarkable
self-restraint. For years it had been the Turkish policy to provoke the
Christian population into committing overt acts, and then seizing upon
such misbehaviour as an excuse for massacres. The Armenian clergy and
political leaders saw many evidences that the Turks were now up to their
old tactics, and they therefore went among the people, cautioning them
to keep quiet, to bear all insults and even outrages patiently, so as
not to give the Moslems the opening which they were seeking. “Even
though they burn a few of our villages,” these leaders would say, “do
not retaliate, for it is better that a few be destroyed than that the
whole nation be massacred.”

When the war started, the Central Government recalled Tahsin Pasha, the
conciliatory governor of Van, and replaced him with Djevdet Bey, a
brother-in-law of Enver Pasha. This act in itself was most disquieting.
Turkish officialdom has always contained a minority of men who do not
believe in massacre as a state policy and cannot be depended upon to
carry out strictly the most bloody orders of the Central Government.
Whenever massacres have been planned, therefore, it has been customary
first to remove such “untrustworthy” public servants and replace them by
men who are regarded as more reliable. The character of Tahsin’s
successor made his displacement still more alarming. Djevdet had spent
the larger part of his life at Van; he was a man of unstable character,
friendly to non-Moslems one moment, hostile the next, hypocritical,
treacherous, and ferocious according to the worst traditions of his
race. He hated the Armenians and cordially sympathized with the
long-established Turkish plan of solving the Armenian problem. There is
little question that he came to Van with definite instructions to
exterminate all Armenians in this province, but, for the first few
months, conditions did not facilitate such operations. Djevdet himself
was absent fighting the Russians in the Caucasus and the near approach
of the enemy made it a wise policy for the Turks to refrain from
maltreating the Armenians of Van. But early in the spring the Russians
temporarily retreated. It is generally recognized as good military
tactics for a victorious army to follow up the retreating enemy. In the
eyes of the Turkish generals, however, the withdrawal of the Russians
was a happy turn of war mainly because it deprived the Armenians of
their protectors and left them at the mercies of the Turkish army.
Instead of following the retreating foe, therefore, the Turks’ army
turned aside and invaded their own territory of Van. Instead of fighting
the trained Russian army of men, they turned their rifles, machine guns,
and other weapons upon the Armenian women, children, and old men in the
villages of Van. Following their usual custom, they distributed the most
beautiful Armenian women among the Moslems, sacked and burned the
Armenian villages, and massacred uninterruptedly for days. On April
15th, about 500 young Armenian men of Akantz were mustered to hear an
order of the Sultan; at sunset they were marched outside the town and
every man shot in cold blood. This procedure was repeated in about
eighty Armenian villages in the district north of Lake Van, and in three
days 24,000 Armenians were murdered in this atrocious fashion. A single
episode illustrates the unspeakable depravity of Turkish methods. A
conflict having broken out at Shadak, Djevdet Bey, who had meanwhile
returned to Van, asked four of the leading Armenian citizens to go to
this town and attempt to quiet the multitude. These men made the trip,
stopping at all Armenian villages along the way, urging everybody to
keep public order. After completing their work these four Armenians were
murdered in a Kurdish village.

And so when Djevdet Bey, on his return to his official post, demanded
that Van furnish him immediately 4,000 soldiers, the people were
naturally in no mood to accede to his request. When we consider what had
happened before and what happened subsequently, there remains little
doubt concerning the purpose which underlay this demand. Djevdet, acting
in obedience to orders from Constantinople, was preparing to wipe out
the whole population, and his purpose in calling for 4,000 able-bodied
men was merely to massacre them, so that the rest of the Armenians might
have no defenders. The Armenians, parleying to gain time, offered to
furnish five hundred soldiers and to pay exemption money for the rest;
now, however, Djevdet began to talk aloud about “rebellion,” and his
determination to “crush” it at any cost. “If the rebels fire a single
shot,” he declared, “I shall kill every Christian man, woman, and”
(pointing to his knee) “every child, up to here.” For some time the
Turks had been constructing entrenchments around the Armenian quarter
and filling them with soldiers and, in response to this provocation, the
Armenians began to make preparations for a defense. On April 20th, a
band of Turkish soldiers seized several Armenian women who were entering
the city; a couple of Armenians ran to their assistance and were shot
dead. The Turks now opened fire on the Armenian quarters with rifles
and artillery; soon a large part of the town was in flames and a regular
siege had started. The whole Armenian fighting force consisted of only
1,500 men; they had only 300 rifles and a most inadequate supply of
ammunition, while Djevdet had an army of 5,000 men, completely equipped
and supplied. Yet the Armenians fought with the utmost heroism and
skill; they had little chance of holding off their enemies indefinitely,
but they knew that a Russian army was fighting its way to Van and their
utmost hope was that they would be able to defy the besiegers until
these Russians arrived. As I am not writing the story of sieges and
battles, I cannot describe in detail the numerous acts of individual
heroism, the coöperation of the Armenian women, the ardour and energy of
the Armenian children, the self-sacrificing zeal of the American
missionaries, especially Doctor Ussher and his wife and Miss Grace H.
Knapp, and the thousand other circumstances that made this terrible
month one of the most glorious pages in modern Armenian history. The
wonderful thing about it is that the Armenians triumphed. After nearly
five weeks of sleepless fighting, the Russian army suddenly appeared and
the Turks fled into the surrounding country, where they found
appeasement for their anger by further massacres of unprotected Armenian
villagers. Doctor Ussher, the American medical missionary whose hospital
at Van was destroyed by bombardment, is authority for the statement
that, after driving off the Turks, the Russians began to collect and to
cremate the bodies of Armenians who had been murdered in the province,
with the result that 55,000 bodies were burned.

I have told this story of the “Revolution” in Van not only because it
marked the first stage in this organized attempt to wipe out a whole
nation, but because these events are always brought forward by the Turks
as a justification of their subsequent crimes. As I shall relate, Enver,
Talaat, and the rest, when I appealed to them in behalf of the
Armenians, invariably instanced the “revolutionists” of Van as a sample
of Armenian treachery. The famous “Revolution,” as this recital shows,
was merely the determination of the Armenians to save their women’s
honour and their own lives, after the Turks, by massacring thousands of
their neighbours, had shown them the fate that awaited them.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE MURDER OF A NATION


The destruction of the Armenian race in 1915 involved certain
difficulties that had not impeded the operations of the Turks in the
massacres of 1895 and other years. In these earlier periods the Armenian
men had possessed little power or means of resistance. In those days
Armenians had not been permitted to have military training, to serve in
the Turkish army, or to possess arms. As I have already said, these
discriminations were withdrawn when the revolutionists obtained the
upper hand in 1908. Not only were the Christians now permitted to bear
arms, but the authorities, in the full flush of their enthusiasm for
freedom and equality, encouraged them to do so. In the early part of
1915, therefore, every Turkish city contained thousands of Armenians who
had been trained as soldiers and who were supplied with rifles, pistols,
and other weapons of defense. The operations at Van once more disclosed
that these men could use their weapons to good advantage. It was thus
apparent that an Armenian massacre this time would generally assume more
the character of warfare than those wholesale butcheries of defenseless
men and women which the Turks had always found so congenial. If this
plan of murdering a race were to succeed, two preliminary steps would
therefore have to be taken: it would be necessary to render all Armenian
soldiers powerless and to deprive of their arms the Armenians in every
city and town. Before Armenia could be slaughtered, Armenia must be made
defenseless.

In the early part of 1915, the Armenian soldiers in the Turkish army
were reduced to a new status. Up to that time most of them had been
combatants, but now they were all stripped of their arms and transformed
into workmen. Instead of serving their country as artillerymen and
cavalrymen, these former soldiers now discovered that they had been
transformed into road labourers and pack animals. Army supplies of all
kinds were loaded on their backs, and, stumbling under the burdens and
driven by the whips and bayonets of the Turks, they were forced to drag
their weary bodies into the mountains of the Caucasus. Sometimes they
would have to plough their way, burdened in this fashion, almost waist
high through snow. They had to spend practically all their time in the
open, sleeping on the bare ground--whenever the ceaseless prodding of
their taskmasters gave them an occasional opportunity to sleep. They
were given only scraps of food; if they fell sick they were left where
they had dropped, their Turkish oppressors perhaps stopping long enough
to rob them of all their possessions--even of their clothes. If any
stragglers succeeded in reaching their destinations, they were not
infrequently massacred. In many instances Armenian soldiers were
disposed of in even more summary fashion, for it now became almost the
general practice to shoot them in cold blood. In almost all cases the
procedure was the same. Here and there squads of 50 or 100 men would be
taken, bound together in groups of four, and then marched out to a
secluded spot a short distance from the village. Suddenly the sound of
rifle shots would fill the air, and the Turkish soldiers who had acted
as the escort would sullenly return to camp. Those sent to bury the
bodies would find them almost invariably stark naked, for, as usual, the
Turks had stolen all their clothes. In cases that came to my attention,
the murderers had added a refinement to their victims’ sufferings by
compelling them to dig their graves before being shot.

Let me relate a single episode which is contained in one of the reports
of our consuls and which now forms part of the records of the American
State Department. Early in July, 2,000 Armenian “amélés”--such is the
Turkish word for soldiers who have been reduced to workmen--were sent
from Harpoot to build roads. The Armenians in that town understood what
this meant and pleaded with the Governor for mercy. But this official
insisted that the men were not to be harmed, and he even called upon the
German missionary, Mr. Ehemann, to quiet the panic, giving that
gentleman his word of honour that the ex-soldiers would be protected.
Mr. Ehemann believed the Governor and assuaged the popular fear. Yet
practically every man of these 2,000 was massacred, and his body thrown
into a cave. A few escaped, and it was from these that news of the
massacre reached the world. A few days afterward another 2,000 soldiers
were sent to Diarbekir. The only purpose of sending these men out in the
open country was that they might be massacred. In order that they might
have no strength to resist or to escape by flight, these poor creatures
were systematically starved. Government agents went ahead on the road,
notifying the Kurds that the caravan was approaching and ordering them
to do their congenial duty. Not only did the Kurdish tribesmen pour
down from the mountains upon this starved and weakened regiment, but the
Kurdish women came with butcher’s knives in order that they might gain
that merit in Allah’s eyes that comes from killing a Christian. These
massacres were not isolated happenings; I could detail many more
episodes just as horrible as the one related above; throughout the
Turkish Empire a systematic attempt was made to kill all able-bodied
men, not only for the purpose of removing all males who might propagate
a new generation of Armenians, but for the purpose of rendering the
weaker part of the population an easy prey.

Dreadful as were these massacres of unarmed soldiers, they were mercy
and justice themselves when compared with the treatment which was now
visited upon those Armenians who were suspected of concealing arms.
Naturally the Christians became alarmed when placards were posted in the
villages and cities ordering everybody to bring their arms to
headquarters. Although this order applied to all citizens, the Armenians
well understood what the result would be, should they be left
defenseless while their Moslem neighbours were permitted to retain their
arms. In many cases, however, the persecuted people patiently obeyed the
command; and then the Turkish officials almost joyfully seized their
rifles as evidence that a “revolution” was being planned and threw their
victims into prison on a charge of treason. Thousands failed to deliver
arms simply because they had none to deliver, while an even greater
number tenaciously refused to give them up, not because they were
plotting an uprising, but because they proposed to defend their own
lives

[Illustration: ABDUL HAMID

     Known in history as the “Red Sultan” and stigmatized by Gladstone
     as “the great assassin.” It was his state policy to solve the
     Armenian problem by murdering the entire race. The fear of England,
     France, Russia, and America, was the only thing that restrained him
     from accomplishing this task. His successors, Talaat and Enver, no
     longer fearing these nations, have more successfully carried out
     his programme.
]

[Illustration: A CHARACTERISTIC VIEW OF THE ARMENIAN COUNTRY]

and their women’s honour against the outrages which they knew were being
planned. The punishment inflicted upon these recalcitrants forms one of
the most hideous chapters of modern history. Most of us believe that
torture has long ceased to be an administrative and judicial measure,
yet I do not believe that the darkest ages ever presented scenes more
horrible than those which now took place all over Turkey. Nothing was
sacred to the Turkish gendarmes; under the plea of searching for hidden
arms, they ransacked churches, treated the altars and sacred utensils
with the utmost indignity, and even held mock ceremonies in imitation of
the Christian sacraments. They would beat the priests into
insensibility, under the pretense that they were the centres of
sedition. When they could discover no weapons in the churches, they
would sometimes arm the bishops and priests with guns, pistols, and
swords, then try them before courts-martial for possessing weapons
against the law, and march them In this condition through the streets,
merely to arouse the fanatical wrath of the mobs. The gendarmes treated
women with the same cruelty and indecency as the men. There are cases on
record in which women accused of concealing weapons were stripped naked
and whipped with branches freshly cut from trees, and these beatings
were even inflicted on women who were with child. Violations so commonly
accompanied these searches that Armenian women and girls, on the
approach of the gendarmes, would flee to the woods, the hills, or to
mountain caves.

As a preliminary to the searches everywhere, the strong men of the
villages and towns were arrested and taken to prison. Their tormentors
here would exercise the most diabolical ingenuity in their attempt to
make their victims declare themselves to be “revolutionists” and to tell
the hiding places of their arms. A common practice was to place the
prisoner in a room, with two Turks stationed at each end and each side.
The examination would then begin with the bastinado. This is a form of
torture not uncommon in the Orient; it consists of beating the soles of
the feet with a thin rod. At first the pain is not marked; but as the
process goes slowly on, it develops into the most terrible agony, the
feet swell and burst, and not infrequently, after being submitted to
this treatment, they have to be amputated. The gendarmes would bastinado
their Armenian victim until he fainted; they would then revive him by
sprinkling water on his face and begin again. If this did not succeed in
bringing their victim to terms, they had numerous other methods of
persuasion. They would pull out his eyebrows and beard almost hair by
hair; they would extract his finger nails and toe nails; they would
apply red-hot irons to his breast, tear off his flesh with red-hot
pincers, and then pour boiled butter into the wounds. In some cases the
gendarmes would nail hands and feet to pieces of wood--evidently in
imitation of the Crucifixion, and then, while the sufferer writhed in
his agony, they would cry:

“Now let your Christ come and help you!”

These cruelties--and many others which I forbear to describe--were
usually inflicted in the night time. Turks would be stationed around the
prisons, beating drums and blowing whistles, so that the screams of the
sufferers would not reach the villagers.

In thousands of cases the Armenians endured these agonies and refused to
surrender their arms simply because they had none to surrender.
However, they could not persuade their tormentors that this was the
case. It therefore became customary, when news was received that the
searchers were approaching, for Armenians to purchase arms from their
Turkish neighbours so that they might be able to give them up and escape
these frightful punishments.

One day I was discussing these proceedings with a responsible Turkish
official, who was describing the tortures inflicted. He made no secret
of the fact that the Government had instigated them, and, like all Turks
of the official classes, he enthusiastically approved this treatment of
the detested race. This official told me that all these details were
matters of nightly discussion at the headquarters of the Union and
Progress Committee. Each new method of inflicting pain was hailed as a
splendid discovery, and the regular attendants were constantly
ransacking their brains in the effort to devise some new torment. He
told me that they even delved into the records of the Spanish
Inquisition and other historic institutions of torture and adopted all
the suggestions found there. He did not tell me who carried off the
prize in this gruesome competition, but common reputation throughout
Armenia gave a preëminent infamy to Djevdet Bey, the Vali of Van, whose
activities in that section I have already described. All through this
country Djevdet was generally known as the “horseshoer of Bashkale” for
this connoisseur in torture had invented what was perhaps the
masterpiece of all--that of nailing horseshoes to the feet of his
Armenian victims.

Yet these happenings did not constitute what the newspapers of the time
commonly referred to as the

[Illustration]

Armenian atrocities; they were merely the preparatory steps in the
destruction of the race. The Young Turks displayed greater ingenuity
than their predecessor, Abdul Hamid. The injunction of the deposed
Sultan was merely “to kill, kill”, whereas the Turkish democracy hit
upon an entirely new plan. Instead of massacring outright the Armenian
race, they now decided to deport it. In the south and southeastern
section of the Ottoman Empire lie the Syrian desert and the Mesopotamian
valley. Though part of this area was once the scene of a flourishing
civilization, for the last five centuries it has suffered the blight
that becomes the lot of any country that is subjected to Turkish rule;
and it is now a dreary, desolate waste, without cities and towns or life
of any kind, populated only by a few wild and fanatical Bedouin tribes.
Only the most industrious labour, expended through many years, could
transform this desert into the abiding place of any considerable
population. The Central Government now announced its intention of
gathering the two million or more Armenians living in the several
sections of the empire and transporting them to this desolate and
inhospitable region. Had they undertaken such a deportation in good
faith it would have represented the height of cruelty and injustice. As
a matter of fact, the Turks never had the slightest idea of
reëstablishing the Armenians in this new country. They knew that the
great majority would never reach their destination and that those who
did would either die of thirst and starvation, or be murdered by the
wild Mohammedan desert tribes. The real purpose of the deportation was
robbery and destruction; it really represented a new method of massacre.
When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations,
they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they
understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no
particular attempt to conceal the fact.

All through the spring and summer of 1915 the deportations took place.
Of the larger cities, Constantinople, Smyrna, and Aleppo were spared;
practically all other places where a single Armenian family lived now
became the scenes of these unspeakable tragedies. Scarcely a single
Armenian, whatever his education or wealth, or whatever the social class
to which he belonged, was exempted from the order. In some villages
placards were posted ordering the whole Armenian population to present
itself in a public place at an appointed time--usually a day or two
ahead, and in other places the town crier would go through the streets
delivering the order vocally. In still others not the slightest warning
was given. The gendarmes would appear before an Armenian house and order
all the inmates to follow them. They would take women engaged in their
domestic tasks without giving them the chance to change their clothes.
The police fell upon them just as the eruption of Vesuvius fell upon
Pompeii; women were taken from the wash-tubs, children were snatched out
of bed, the bread was left half baked in the oven, the family meal was
abandoned partly eaten, the children were taken from the schoolroom,
leaving their books open at the daily task, and the men were forced to
abandon their ploughs in the fields and their cattle on the mountain
side. Even women who had just given birth to children would be forced to
leave their beds and join the panic-stricken throng, their sleeping
babies in their arms. Such things as they hurriedly snatched up--a
shawl, a blanket, perhaps a few scraps of food--were all that they could
take of their household belongings. To their frantic questions “Where
are we going?” the gendarmes would vouchsafe only one reply: “To the
interior.”

In some cases the refugees were given a few hours, in exceptional
instances a few days, to dispose of their property and household
effects. But the proceeding, of course, amounted simply to robbery. They
could sell only to Turks, and since both buyers and sellers knew that
they had only a day or two to market the accumulations of a lifetime,
the prices obtained represented a small fraction of their value. Sewing
machines would bring one or two dollars--a cow would go for a dollar, a
houseful of furniture would be sold for a pittance. In many cases
Armenians were prohibited from selling or Turks from buying even at
these ridiculous prices; under pretense that the Government intended to
sell their effects to pay the creditors whom they would inevitably leave
behind, their household furniture would be placed in stores or heaped up
in public places, where it was usually pillaged by Turkish men and
women. The government officials would also inform the Armenians that,
since their deportation was only temporary, the intention being to bring
them back after the war was over, they would not be permitted to sell
their houses. Scarcely had the former possessors left the village, when
Mohammedan _mohadjirs_--immigrants from other parts of Turkey--would be
moved into the Armenian quarters. Similarly all their valuables--money,
rings, watches, and jewellery--would be taken to the police stations for
“safe keeping,” pending their return, and then parcelled out among the
Turks. Yet these robberies gave the refugees little anguish, for far
more terrible and agonizing scenes were taking place under their eyes.
The systematic extermination of the men continued; such males as the
persecutions which I have already described had left were now violently
dealt with. Before the caravans were started, it became the regular
practice to separate the young men from the families, tie them together
in groups of four, lead them to the outskirts, and shoot them. Public
hangings without trial--the only offense being that the victims were
Armenians--were taking place constantly. The gendarmes showed a
particular desire to annihilate the educated and the influential. From
American consuls and missionaries I was constantly receiving reports of
such executions, and many of the events which they described will never
fade from my memory. At Angora all Armenian men from fifteen to seventy
were arrested, bound together in groups of four, and sent on the road in
the direction of Caesarea. When they had travelled five or six hours and
had reached a secluded valley, a mob of Turkish peasants fell upon them
with clubs, hammers, axes, scythes, spades, and saws. Such instruments
not only caused more agonizing deaths than guns and pistols, but, as the
Turks themselves boasted, they were more economical, since they did not
involve the waste of powder and shell. In this way they exterminated the
whole male population of Angora, including all its men of wealth and
breeding, and their bodies, horribly mutilated, were left in the valley,
where they were devoured by wild beasts. After completing this
destruction, the peasants and gendarmes gathered in the local tavern,
comparing notes and boasting of the number of “giaours” that each had
slain. In Trebizond the men were placed in boats and sent out on the
Black Sea; gendarmes would follow them in boats, shoot them down, and
throw their bodies into the water.

When the signal was given for the caravans to move, therefore, they
almost invariably consisted of women, children, and old men. Any one who
could possibly have protected them from the fate that awaited them had
been destroyed. Not infrequently the prefect of the city, as the mass
started on its way, would wish them a derisive “pleasant journey.”
Before the caravan moved the women were sometimes offered the
alternative of becoming Mohammedans. Even though they accepted the new
faith, which few of them did, their earthly troubles did not end. The
converts were

[Illustration: FISHING VILLAGE ON LAKE VAN

In this district about 55,000 Armenians were massacred.]

[Illustration: REFUGEES AT VAN CROWDING AROUND A PUBLIC OVEN, HOPING TO
GET BREAD

     These people were torn from their homes almost without warning, and
     started toward the desert. Thousands of children and women as well
     as men died on these forced journeys, not only from hunger and
     exposure, but also from the inhuman cruelty of their guards.
]

compelled to surrender their children to a so-called “Moslem Orphanage,”
with the agreement that they should be trained as devout followers of
the Prophet. They themselves must then show the sincerity of their
conversion by abandoning their Christian husbands and marrying Moslems.
If no good Mohammedan offered himself as a husband, then the new convert
was deported, however strongly she might protest her devotion to Islam.

At first the Government showed some inclination to protect these
departing throngs. The officers usually divided them into convoys, in
some cases numbering several hundred, in others several thousand. The
civil authorities occasionally furnished ox-carts which carried such
household furniture as the exiles had succeeded in scrambling together.
A guard of gendarmerie accompanied each convoy, ostensibly to guide and
protect it. Women, scantily clad, carrying babies in their arms or on
their backs, marched side by side with old men hobbling along with
canes. Children would run along, evidently regarding the procedure, in
the early stages, as some new lark. A more prosperous member would
perhaps have a horse or a donkey, occasionally a farmer had rescued a
cow or a sheep, which would trudge along at his side, and the usual
assortment of family pets--dogs, cats, and birds--became parts of the
variegated procession. From thousands of Armenian cities and villages
these despairing caravans now set forth; they filled all the roads
leading southward; everywhere, as they moved on, they raised a huge
dust, and abandoned débris, chairs, blankets, bedclothes, household
utensils, and other impedimenta, marked the course of the processions.
When the caravans first started, the individuals bore some resemblance
to human beings; in a few hours, however, the dust of the road plastered
their faces and clothes, the mud caked their lower members, and the
slowly advancing mobs, frequently bent with fatigue and crazed by the
brutality of their “protectors,” resembled some new and strange animal
species. Yet for the better part of six months, from April to October,
1915, practically all the highways in Asia Minor were crowded with these
unearthly bands of exiles. They could be seen winding in and out of
every valley and climbing up the sides of nearly every mountain--moving
on and on, they scarcely knew whither, except that every road led to
death. Village after village and town after town was evacuated of its
Armenian population, under the distressing circumstances already
detailed. In these six months, as far as can be ascertained, about
1,200,000 people started on this journey to the Syrian desert.

“Pray for us,” they would say as they left their homes--the homes in
which their ancestors had lived for 2,500 years. “We shall not see you
in this world again, but sometime we shall meet. Pray for us!”

The Armenians had hardly left their native villages when the
persecutions began. The roads over which they travelled were little more
than donkey paths; and what had started a few hours before as an orderly
procession soon became a dishevelled and scrambling mob. Women were
separated from their children and husbands from their wives. The old
people soon lost contact with their families and became exhausted and
footsore. The Turkish drivers of the ox-carts, after extorting the last
coin from their charges, would suddenly dump them and their belongings
into the road, turn around, and return to the village for other
victims. Thus in a short time practically everybody, young and old, was
compelled to travel on foot. The gendarmes whom the Government had sent,
supposedly to protect the exiles, in a very few hours became their
tormentors. They followed their charges with fixed bayonets, prodding
any one who showed any tendency to slacken the pace. Those who attempted
to stop for rest, or who fell exhausted on the road, were compelled,
with the utmost brutality, to rejoin the moving throng. They even
prodded pregnant women with bayonets; if one, as frequently happened,
gave birth along the road, she was immediately forced to get up and
rejoin the marchers. The whole course of the journey became a perpetual
struggle with the Moslem inhabitants. Detachments of gendarmes would go
ahead, notifying the Kurdish tribes that their victims were approaching,
and Turkish peasants were also informed that their long-waited
opportunity had arrived. The Government even opened the prisons and set
free the convicts, on the understanding that they should behave like
good Moslems to the approaching Armenians. Thus every caravan had a
continuous battle for existence with several classes of enemies--their
accompanying gendarmes, the Turkish peasants and villagers, the Kurdish
tribes and bands of _Chétés_ or brigands. And we must always keep in
mind that the men who might have defended these wayfarers had nearly all
been killed or forced into the army as workmen, and that the exiles
themselves had been systematically deprived of all weapons before the
journey began.

When the victims had travelled a few hours from their starting place,
the Kurds would sweep down from their mountain homes. Rushing up to the
young girls, they would lift their veils and carry the pretty ones off
to the hills. They would steal such children as pleased their fancy and
mercilessly rob all the rest of the throng. If the exiles had started
with any money or food, their assailants would appropriate it, thus
leaving them a hopeless prey to starvation. They would steal their
clothing, and sometimes even leave both men and women in a state of
complete nudity. All the time that they were committing these
depradations the Kurds would freely massacre, and the screams of women
and old men would add to the general horror. Such as escaped these
attacks in the open would find new terrors awaiting them in the Moslem
villages. Here the Turkish roughs would fall upon the women, leaving
them sometimes dead from their experiences or sometimes ravingly insane.
After spending a night in a hideous encampment of this kind, the exiles,
or such as had survived, would start again the next morning. The
ferocity of the gendarmes apparently increased as the journey
lengthened, for they seemed almost to resent the fact that part of their
charges continued to live. Frequently any one who dropped on the road
was bayoneted on the spot. The Armenians began to die by hundreds from
hunger and thirst. Even when they came to rivers, the gendarmes, merely
to torment them, would sometimes not let them drink. The hot sun of the
desert burned their scantily clothed bodies, and their bare feet,
treading the hot sand of the desert, became so sore that thousands fell
and died or were killed where they lay. Thus, in a few days, what had
been a procession of normal human beings became a stumbling horde of
dust-covered skeletons, ravenously looking for scraps of food, eating
any offal that came their way, crazed by the hideous sights that filled
every hour of their existence, sick with all the diseases that accompany
such hardships and privations, but still prodded on and on by the whips
and clubs and bayonets of their executioners.

And thus, as the exiles moved, they left behind them another
caravan--that of dead and unburied bodies, of old men and of women dying
in the last stages of typhus, dysentery, and cholera, of little children
lying on their backs and setting up their last piteous wails for food
and water. There were women who held up their babies to strangers,
begging them to take them and save them from their tormentors, and
failing this, they would throw them into wells or leave them behind
bushes, that at least they might die undisturbed. Behind was left a
small army of girls who had been sold as slaves--frequently for a
medjidie, or about eighty cents--and who, after serving the brutal
purposes of their purchasers, were forced to lead lives of prostitution.
A string of encampments, filled by the sick and the dying, mingled with
the unburied or half-buried bodies of the dead, marked the course of the
advancing throngs. Flocks of vultures followed them in the air, and
ravenous dogs, fighting one another for the bodies of the dead,
constantly pursued them. The most terrible scenes took place at the
rivers, especially the Euphrates. Sometimes, when crossing this stream,
the gendarmes would push the women into the water, shooting all who
attempted to save themselves by swimming. Frequently the women
themselves would save their honour by jumping into the river, their
children in their arms. “In the last week in June,” I quote from a
consular report, “several parties of Erzeroum Armenians were deported on
successive days and most of them massacred on the way, either by
shooting or drowning. One, Madame Zarouhi, an elderly lady of means, who
was thrown into the Euphrates, saved herself by clinging to a boulder in
the river. She succeeded in approaching the bank and returned to
Erzeroum to hide herself in a Turkish friend’s house. She told Prince
Argoutinsky, the representative of the ‘All-Russian Urban Union’ in
Erzeroum, that she shuddered to recall how hundreds of children were
bayoneted by the Turks and thrown into the Euphrates, and how men and
women were stripped naked, tied together in hundreds, shot, and then
hurled into the river. In a loop of the river near Erzinghan, she said,
the thousands of dead bodies created such a barrage that the Euphrates
changed its course for about a hundred yards.”

It is absurd for the Turkish Government to assert that it ever seriously
intended to “deport the Armenians to new homes”; the treatment which was
given the convoys clearly shows that extermination was the real purpose
of Enver and Talaat. How many exiled to the south under these revolting
conditions ever reached their destinations? The experiences of a single
caravan show how completely this plan of deportation developed into one
of annihilation. The details in question were furnished me directly by
the American Consul at Aleppo, and are now on file in the State
Department at Washington. On the first of June a convoy of three
thousand Armenians, mostly women, girls, and children, left Harpoot.
Following the usual custom the Government provided them an escort of
seventy gendarmes, under the command of a Turkish leader, a Bey. In
accordance with the common experience these gendarmes proved to be not
their protectors, but their tormentors and their executioners. Hardly
had they got well started on the road when ---- Bey took 400 liras from
the caravan, on the plea that he was keeping it safely until their
arrival at Malatia; no sooner had he robbed them of the only thing that
might have provided them with food than he ran away, leaving them all to
the tender mercies of the gendarmes.

All the way to Ras-ul-Ain, the first station on the Bagdad line, the
existence of these wretched travellers was one prolonged horror. The
gendarmes went ahead, informing the half-savage tribes of the mountains
that several thousand Armenian women and girls were approaching. The
Arabs and Kurds began to carry off the girls, the mountaineers fell upon
them repeatedly, violating and killing the women, and the gendarmes
themselves joined in the orgy. One by one the few men who accompanied
the convoy were killed. The women had succeeded in secreting money from
their persecutors, keeping it in their mouths and hair; with this they
would buy horses, only to have them repeatedly stolen by the Kurdish
tribesmen. Finally the gendarmes, having robbed and beaten and violated
and killed their charges for thirteen days, abandoned them altogether.
Two days afterward the Kurds went through the party and rounded up all
the males who still remained alive. They found about 150, their ages
varying from 15 to 90 years, and these they promptly took away and
butchered to the last man. But that same day another convoy from Sivas
joined this one from Harpoot, increasing the numbers of the whole
Caravan to 18,000 people.

Another Kurdish Bey now took command, and to him, as to all men placed
in the same position, the opportunity was regarded merely as one for
pillage, outrage, and murder. This chieftain summoned all his followers
from the mountains and invited them to work their complete will upon
this great mass of Armenians. Day after day and night after night the
prettiest girls were carried away; sometimes they returned in a pitiable
condition that told the full story of their sufferings. Any stragglers,
those who were so old and infirm and sick that they could not keep up
with the marchers, were promptly killed. Whenever they reached a Turkish
village all the local vagabonds were permitted to prey upon the Armenian
girls. When the diminishing band reached the Euphrates they saw the
bodies of 200 men floating upon the surface. By this time they had all
been so repeatedly robbed that they had practically nothing left except
a few ragged clothes, and even these the Kurds now took; and the larger
part of the convoy marched for five days almost completely naked under
the scorching desert sun. For another five days they did not have a
morsel of bread or a drop of water. “Hundreds fell dead on the way,” the
report reads, “their tongues were turned to charcoal, and when, at the
end of five days, they reached a fountain, the whole convoy naturally
rushed toward it. But here the policemen barred the way and forebade
them to take a single drop of water.” Their purpose was to sell it at
from one to three liras a cup and sometimes they actually withheld the
water after getting the money. “At another place, where there were
wells, some women threw themselves into them, as there was no rope or
pail to draw up the water. These women were drowned and, in spite of
that, the rest of the people drank from that well,” the dead bodies
still remaining there and polluting the water. Sometimes, when the wells
were shallow and the women could go down into them and come out again,
the other people would rush to lick or suck their wet, dirty clothes, in
the effort to quench their thirst. When they passed an Arab village in
their naked condition the Arabs pitied them and gave them old pieces of
cloth to cover themselves with. Some of the exiles who still had money
bought some clothes; but some still remained who travelled thus naked
all the way to the city of Aleppo. The poor women could hardly walk for
shame; they all walked bent double.

On the seventieth day a few creatures reached Aleppo. Out of the
combined convoy of 18,000 souls just 150 women and children reached
their destination. A few of the rest, the most attractive, were still
living as captives of the Kurds and Turks; all the rest were dead.

My only reason for relating such dreadful things as this is that,
without the details, the English-speaking public cannot understand
precisely what this nation is which we call Turkey. I have by no means
told the most terrible details, for a complete narration of the sadistic
orgies of which these Armenian men and women were the victims can never
be printed in an American publication. Whatever crimes the most
perverted instincts of the human mind can devise, and whatever
refinements of persecution and injustice the most debased imagination
can conceive, became the daily misfortunes of this devoted people. I am
confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such
horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the
past seem almost insignificant when compared with the sufferings of the
Armenian race in 1915. The slaughter of the Albigenses in the early part
of the thirteenth century has always been regarded as one of the most
pitiful events in history. In these outbursts of fanaticism about 60,000
people were killed. In the massacre of St. Bartholomew about 30,000
human beings lost their lives. The Sicilian Vespers, which has always
figured as one of the most fiendish outbursts of this kind, caused the
destruction of 8,000. Volumes have been written about the Spanish
Inquisition under Torquemada, yet in the eighteen years of his
administration only a little more than 8,000 heretics were done to
death. Perhaps the one event in history that most resembles the Armenian
deportations was the expulsion of the Jews from Spain by Ferdinand and
Isabella. According to Prescott 160,000 were uprooted from their homes
and scattered broadcast over Africa and Europe. Yet all these previous
persecutions seem almost trivial when we compare them with the
sufferings of the Armenians, in which at least 600,000 people were
destroyed and perhaps as many as 1,000,000. And these earlier massacres,
when we compare them with the spirit that directed the Armenian
atrocities, have one feature that we can almost describe as an excuse:
they were the product of religious fanaticism and most of the men and
women who instigated them sincerely believed that they were devoutly
serving their Maker. Undoubtedly religious fanaticism was an impelling
motive with the Turkish and Kurdish rabble who slew Armenians as a
service to Allah, but the men who really conceived the crime had no such
motive. Practically all of them were atheists, with no more respect for
Mohammedanism than for Christianity, and with them the one motive was
cold-blooded, calculating state policy.

The Armenians are not the only subject people in Turkey which have
suffered from this policy of making Turkey exclusively the country of
the Turks. The story which I have told about the Armenians I could also
tell with certain modifications about the Greeks and the Syrians. Indeed
the Greeks were the first victims of this nationalizing idea. I have
already described how, in the few months preceding the European War, the
Ottoman Government began deporting its Greek subjects along the coast of
Asia Minor. These outrages aroused little interest in Europe or the
United States, yet in the space of three or four months more than
100,000 Greeks were taken from their age-long homes in the Mediterranean
littoral and removed to the Greek Islands and the interior. For the
larger part these were bona-fide deportations; that is, the Greek
inhabitants were actually removed to new places and were not subjected
to wholesale massacre. It was probably for the reason that the civilized
world did not protest against these deportations that the Turks
afterward decided to apply the same methods on a larger scale not only
to the Greeks but to the Armenians, Syrians, Nestorians, and others of
its subject peoples. In fact, Bedri Bey, the Prefect of Police at
Constantinople, himself told one of my secretaries that the Turks had
expelled the Greeks so successfully that they had decided to apply the
same method to all the other races in the empire.

The martyrdom of the Greeks, therefore, comprised two periods: that
antedating the war, and that which began in the early part of 1915. The
first affected chiefly the Greeks on the seacoast of Asia Minor. The
second affected those living in Thrace and in the territories
surrounding the Sea of Marmora, the Dardanelles, the Bosphorus, and the
coast of the Black Sea. These latter, to the extent of several hundred
thousand, were sent to the interior of Asia Minor. The Turks adopted
almost identically the same procedure against the Greeks as that which
they had adopted against the Armenians. They began by incorporating the
Greeks into the Ottoman army and then transforming them into labour
battalions, using them to build roads in the Caucasus and other scenes
of action. These Greek soldiers, just like the Armenians, died by
thousands from cold, hunger, and other privations. The same
house-to-house searches for hidden weapons took place in the Greek
villages, and Greek men and women were beaten and tortured just as were
their fellow Armenians. The Greeks had to submit to the same forced
requisitions, which amounted in their case, as in the case of the
Armenians, merely to plundering on a wholesale scale. The Turks
attempted to force the Greek subjects to become Mohammedans; Greek
girls, just like Armenian girls, were stolen and taken to Turkish harems
and Greek boys were kidnapped and placed in Moslem households. The
Greeks, just like the Armenians, were accused of disloyalty to the
Ottoman Government; the Turks accused them of furnishing supplies to the
English submarines in the Marmora and also of acting as spies. The Turks
also declared that the Greeks were not loyal to the Ottoman Government,
and that they also looked forward to the day when the Greeks inside of
Turkey would become part of Greece. These latter charges were
unquestionably true; that the Greeks, after suffering for five centuries
the most unspeakable outrages at the hands of the Turks, should look
longingly to the day when their territory should be part of the
fatherland, was to be expected. The Turks, as in the case of the
Armenians, seized upon this as an excuse for a violent onslaught on the
whole race. Everywhere the Greeks were gathered in groups and, under the
so-called protection of Turkish gendarmes, they were transported, the
larger part on foot, into the interior. Just how many were scattered in
this fashion is not definitely known, the estimates varying anywhere
from 200,000 up to 1,000,000. These caravans suffered great privations,
but they were not submitted to general massacre as were the Armenians,
and this is probably the reason why the outside world has not heard so
much about them. The Turks showed them this greater consideration not
from any motive of pity. The Greeks, unlike the Armenians, had a
government which was vitally interested in their welfare. At this time
there was a general apprehension among the Teutonic Allies that Greece
would enter the war on the side of the Entente, and a wholesale massacre
of Greeks in Asia Minor would unquestionably have produced such a state
of mind in Greece that its pro-German king would have been unable longer
to keep his country out of the war. It was only a matter of state
policy, therefore, that saved these Greek subjects of Turkey from all
the horrors that befell the Armenians. But their sufferings are still
terrible, and constitute another chapter in the long story of crimes for
which civilization will hold the Turk responsible.



CHAPTER XXV

TALAAT TELLS WHY HE “DEPORTS” THE ARMENIANS


It was some time before the story of the Armenian atrocities reached the
American Embassy in all its horrible details. In January and February
fragmentary reports began to filter in, but the tendency was at first to
regard them as mere manifestations of the disorders that had prevailed
in the Armenian provinces for many years. When the reports came from
Urumia, both Enver and Talaat dismissed them as wild exaggerations, and
when, for the first time, we heard of the disturbances at Van, these
Turkish officials declared that they were nothing more than a mob
uprising which they would soon have under control. I now see, what was
not apparent in those early months, that the Turkish Government was
determined to keep the news, as long as possible, from the outside
world. It was clearly the intention that Europe and America should hear
of the annihilation of the Armenian race only after that annihilation
had been accomplished. As the country which the Turks particularly
wished to keep in ignorance was the United States, they resorted to the
most shameless prevarications when discussing the situation with myself
and with my staff.

In early April the authorities arrested about two hundred Armenians in
Constantinople and sent them into the interior. Many of those who were
then deported were educational and social leaders and men who were
prominent in industry and in finance. I knew many of these men and
therefore felt a personal interest in their misfortunes. But when I
spoke to Talaat about their expulsion, he replied that the Government
was acting in self-defense. The Armenians at Van, he said, had already
shown their abilities as revolutionists; he knew that these leaders in
Constantinople were corresponding with the Russians and he had every
reason to fear that they would start an insurrection against the Central
Government. The safest plan, therefore, was to send them to Angora and
other interior towns. Talaat denied that this was part of any general
concerted scheme to rid the city of its Armenian population, and
insisted that the Armenian masses in Constantinople would not be
disturbed.

But soon the accounts from the interior became more specific and more
disquieting. The withdrawal of the Allied fleet from the Dardanelles
produced a distinct change in the atmosphere. Until then there were
numerous indications that all was not going well in the Armenian
provinces; when it at last became definitely established, however, that
the traditional friends of Armenia, Great Britain, France, and Russia,
could do nothing to help that suffering people, the mask began to
disappear. In April I was suddenly deprived of the privilege of using
the cipher for communicating with American consuls. The most rigorous
censorship also was applied to letters. Such measures could mean only
that things were happening in Asia Minor which the authorities were
determined to conceal. But they did not succeed. Though all sorts of
impediments were placed to travelling, certain Americans, chiefly
missionaries, succeeded in getting through. For hours they would sit in
my office and, with tears streaming down their faces, they would tell me
of the horrors through which they had passed. Many of these, both men
and women, were almost broken in health from the scenes which they had
witnessed. In many cases they brought me letters from American consuls,
confirming the most dreadful of their narrations and adding many
unprintable details. The general purport of all these first-hand reports
was that the utter depravity and fiendishness of the Turkish nature,
already sufficiently celebrated through the centuries, had now surpassed
themselves. There was only one hope of saving nearly 2,000,000 people
from massacre, starvation, and even worse, I was told--that was the
moral power of the United States. These spokesmen of a condemned nation
declared that, unless the American Ambassador could persuade the Turk to
stay his destroying arm, the whole Armenian nation would disappear. It
was not only American and Canadian missionaries who made this personal
appeal. Several of their German associates begged me to intercede. These
men and women confirmed all the worst things which I had heard, and they
were unsparing in denouncing their own fatherland. They did not conceal
the humiliation which they felt, as Germans, in the fact that their own
nation was allied with a people that could perpetrate such infamies, but
they understood German policy well enough to know that Germany would not
intercede. There was no use in expecting aid from the Kaiser, they
said--America must stop the massacres, or they would go on.

Technically, of course, I had no right to interfere. According to the
cold-blooded legalities of the situation,

[Illustration:

© Underwood & Underwood

KAISER WILLIAM II, IN THE UNIFORM OF A TURKISH FIELD MARSHAL

     He remained acquiescent, refusing to intercede, while his allies,
     the Turks, murdered anywhere from 600,000 to 1,000,000 Armenians.
     This assassination of a whole people was the worst outcome of the
     Prussian doctrine,--that anything is justified which promotes the
     success of German arms. After the massacre was over, the Kaiser
     decorated the Sultan, precisely as in 1898, after Abdul Hamid had
     just massacred 200,000 Christians, he visited that potentate and
     publicly embraced him.
]

[Illustration: INTERIOR OF THE ARMENIAN CHURCH AT URFA

     Where many Armenians were burned. The Armenian Church was
     established in the fourth century; it is said to be the oldest
     state Christian church in existence.
]

the treatment of Turkish subjects by the Turkish Government was purely a
domestic affair; unless it directly affected American lives and American
interests, it was outside the concern of the American Government. When I
first approached Talaat on the subject, he called my attention to this
fact in no uncertain terms. This interview was one of the most exciting
which I had had up to that time. Two missionaries had just called upon
me, giving the full details of the frightful happenings at Konia. After
listening to their stories, I could not restrain myself, and went
immediately to the Sublime Porte. I saw at once that Talaat was in one
of his most ferocious states of mind. For months he had been attempting
to secure the release of one of his closest friends, Ayoub Sabri, and
Zinnoun, who were held as prisoners by the English at Malta. His failure
in this matter was a constant grievance and irritation; he was always
talking about it, always making new suggestions for getting his friends
back to Turkey, and always appealing to me for help. So furious did the
Turkish Boss become when thinking about his absent friends that we
usually referred to these manifestations as Talaat in his “Ayoub Sabri
moods.” This particular morning the Minister of the Interior was in one
of his worst “Ayoub Sabri moods.” Once more he had been working for the
release of the exiles and once more he had failed. As usual, he
attempted to preserve outer calm and courtesy to me, but his short,
snappy phrases, his bull-dog rigidity, and his wrists, planted on the
table, showed that it was an unfavourable moment to stir him to any
sense of pity or remorse. I first spoke to him about a Canadian
missionary, Dr. McNaughton, who was receiving harsh treatment in Asia
Minor.

“The man is an English agent,” he replied, “and we have the evidence for
it.”

“Let me see it,” I asked.

“We’ll do nothing for any Englishman or any Canadian,” he replied,
“until they release Ayoub and Zinnoun.”

“But you promised to treat English in the employ of Americans as
Americans,” I replied.

“That may be,” rejoined the Minister, “but a promise is not made to be
kept forever. I withdraw that promise now. There is a time limit on a
promise.”

“But if a promise is not binding, what is?” I asked.

“A guarantee,” Talaat answered quickly.

This fine Turkish distinction had a certain metaphysical interest, but I
had more practical matters to discuss at that time. So I began to talk
about the Armenians at Konia. I had hardly started when Talaat’s
attitude became even more belligerent. His eyes lighted up, he brought
his jaws together, leaned over toward me, and snapped out:

“Are _they_ Americans?”

The implications of this question were hardly diplomatic; it was merely
a way of telling me that the matter was none of my business. In a moment
Talaat said this in so many words.

“The Armenians are not to be trusted,” he said, “besides, what we do
with them does not concern the United States.”

I replied that I regarded myself as the friend of the Armenians and was
shocked at the way that they were being treated. But he shook his head
and refused to discuss the matter. I saw that nothing could be gained by
forcing the issue at that time. I spoke in behalf of another British
subject who was not being treated properly.

“He’s English, isn’t he?” answered Talaat. “Then I shall do as I like
with him!”

“Eat him, if you wish!” I replied.

“No,” said Talaat, “he would go against my digestion.”

He was altogether in a reckless mood. “_Gott strafe England!_” he
shouted--using one of the few German phrases that he knew. “As to your
Armenians, we don’t give a rap for the future! We live only in the
present! As to the English, I wish you would telegraph Washington that
we shall not do a thing for them until they let out Ayoub Sabri and
Zinnoun!”

Then leaning over, he struck a pose, pressed his hand to his heart, and
said, in English--I think this must have been almost all the English he
knew:

“Ayoub Sabri--he--my--brudder!”

Despite this I made another plea for Dr. McNaughton.

“He’s not American,” said Talaat, “he’s a Canadian.”

“It’s almost the same thing,” I said.

“Well,” replied Talaat, “if I let him go, will you promise that the
United States will annex Canada?”

“I promise,” said I, and we both laughed at this little joke.

“Every time you come here,” Talaat finally said, “you always steal
something from me. All right, you can have your McNaughton!”

Certainly this interview was not an encouraging beginning, so far as the
Armenians were concerned. But Talaat was not always in an “Ayoub Sabri
mood.” He went from one emotion to another as lightly as a child; I
would find him fierce and unyielding one day, and uproariously
good-natured and accommodating the next. Prudence indicated, therefore,
that I should await one of his more congenial moments before approaching
him on the subject that aroused all the barbarity in his nature. Such an
opportunity was soon presented. One day, soon after the interview
chronicled above, I called on Talaat again. The first thing he did was
to open his desk and pull out a handful of yellow cablegrams.

“Why don’t you give this money to us?” he said, with a grin.

“What money?” I asked.

“Here is a cablegram for you from America, sending you a lot of money
for the Armenians. You ought not to use it that way; give it to us
Turks, we need it as badly as they do.”

“I have not received any such cablegram,” I replied.

“Oh, no, but you will,” he answered. “I always get all your cablegrams
first, you know. After I have finished reading them I send them around
to you.”

This statement was the literal truth. Every morning all uncoded
cablegrams received in Constantinople were forwarded to Talaat, who read
them, before consenting to their being forwarded to their destinations.
Even the cablegrams of the ambassadors were apparently not exempt,
though, of course, the ciphered messages were not interfered with.
Ordinarily I might have protested against this infringement of my
rights, but Talaat’s engaging frankness about pilfering my
correspondence and in even waving my own cablegrams in my face gave me
an excellent opening to introduce the forbidden subject.

But on this occasion, as on many others, Talaat was evasive and
non-committal and showed much hostility to the interest which the
American people were manifesting in the Armenians. He explained his
policy on the ground that the Armenians were in constant correspondence
with the Russians. The definite conviction which these conversations
left upon my mind was that Talaat was the most implacable enemy of this
persecuted race. “He gave me the impression,” such is the entry which I
find in my diary on August 3d, “that Talaat is the one who desires to
crush the poor Armenians.” He told me that the Union and Progress
Committee had carefully considered the matter in all its details and
that the policy which was being pursued was that which they had
officially adopted. He said that I must not get the idea that the
deportations had been decided upon hastily; in reality, they were the
result of prolonged and careful deliberation. To my repeated appeals
that he should show mercy to these people, he sometimes responded
seriously, sometimes angrily, and sometimes flippantly.

“Some day,” he once said, “I will come and discuss the whole Armenian
subject with you,” and then he added in a low tone in Turkish:

“But that day will never come!”

“Why are you so interested in the Armenians, anyway?” he said, on
another occasion. “You are a Jew; these people are Christians. The
Mohammedans and the Jews always get on harmoniously. We are treating the
Jews here all right. What have you to complain of? Why can’t you let us
do with these Christians as we please?”

I had frequently remarked that the Turks look upon practically every
question as a personal matter, yet this point of view rather stunned me.
However, it was a complete revelation of Turkish mentality; the fact
that, above all considerations of race and religion, there are such
things as humanity and civilization, never for a moment enters their
mind. They can understand a Christian fighting for a Christian and a Jew
fighting for a Jew, but such abstractions as justice and decency form no
part of their conception of things.

“You don’t seem to realize,” I replied, “that I am not here as a Jew but
as American Ambassador. My country contains something more than
97,000,000 Christians and something less than 3,000,000 Jews. So, at
least in my ambassadorial capacity, I am 97 per cent. Christian. But
after all, that is not the point. I do not appeal to you in the name of
any race or any religion, but merely as a human being. You have told me
many times that you want to make Turkey a part of the modern progressive
world. The way you are treating the Armenians will not help you to
realize that ambition; it puts you in the class of backward, reactionary
peoples.”

“We treat the Americans all right, too,” said Talaat. “I don’t see why
you should complain.”

“But Americans are outraged by your persecutions of the Armenians,” I
replied. “You must base your principles on humanitarianism, not racial
discrimination, or the United States will not regard you as a friend and
an equal. And you should understand the great changes that are taking
place among Christians all over the world. They are forgetting their
differences and all sects are coming together as one. You look down on
American missionaries, but don’t forget that it is the best element in
America that supports their religious work, as well as their educational
institutions. Americans are not mere materialists, always chasing
money--they are broadly humanitarian, and interested in the spread of
justice and civilization throughout the world. After this war is over
you will face a new situation. You say that, if victorious, you can defy
the world, but you are wrong. You will have to meet public opinion
everywhere, especially in the United States. Our people will never
forget these massacres. They will always resent the wholesale
destruction of Christians in Turkey. They will look upon it as nothing
but wilful murder and will seriously condemn all the men who are
responsible for it. You will not be able to protect yourself under your
political status and say that you acted as Minister of the Interior and
not as Talaat. You are defying all ideas of justice as we understand the
term in our country.”

Strangely enough, these remarks did not offend Talaat, but they did not
shake his determination. I might as well have been talking to a stone
wall. From my abstractions he immediately came down to something
definite.

“These people,” he said, “refused to disarm when we told them to. They
opposed us at Van and at Zeitoun, and they helped the Russians. There is
only one way in which we can defend ourselves against them in the
future, and that is just to deport them.”

“Suppose a few Armenians did betray you,” I said. “Is that a reason for
destroying a whole race? Is that an excuse for making innocent women
and children suffer?”

“Those things are inevitable,” he replied.

This remark to me was not quite so illuminating as one which Talaat made
subsequently to a reporter of the _Berliner Tageblatt_, who asked him
the same question. “We have been reproached,” he said, according to this
interviewer, “for making no distinction between the innocent Armenians
and the guilty; but that was utterly impossible, in view of the fact
that those who were innocent to-day might be guilty to-morrow”!

One reason why Talaat could not discuss this matter with me freely, was
because the member of the embassy staff who did the interpreting was
himself an Armenian. In the early part of August, therefore, he sent a
personal messenger to me, asking if I could not see him alone--he said
that he himself would provide the interpreter. This was the first time
that Talaat had admitted that his treatment of the Armenians was a
matter with which I had any concern. The interview took place two days
afterward. It so happened that since the last time I had visited Talaat
I had shaved my beard. As soon as I came in the burly Minister began
talking in his customary bantering fashion.

“You have become a young man again,” he said; “you are so young now that
I cannot go to you for advice any more.”

“I have shaved my beard,” I replied, “because it had become very
gray--made gray by your treatment of the Armenians.”

After this exchange of compliments we settled down to the business in
hand. “I have asked you to come to-day,” began Talaat, “so that I can
explain our

[Illustration: ARMENIAN SOLDIERS

     Until 1908 no Armenian was allowed to serve in the Ottoman army. In
     the Balkan Wars, they distinguished themselves by their bravery and
     skill. In the present war, the Turks have taken away their arms and
     transformed them into pack animals and road labourers.
]

[Illustration: THOSE WHO FELL BY THE WAYSIDE

     Scenes like this were common all over the Armenian provinces, in
     the spring and summer months of 1915. Death in its several
     forms--massacre, starvation, exhaustion--destroyed the larger part
     of the refugees. The Turkish policy was that of extermination under
     the guise of deportation.
]

[Illustration: A VIEW OF HARPOOT

Where massacres of men took place on a large scale]

position on the whole Armenian subject. We base our objections to the
Armenians on three distinct grounds. In the first place, they have
enriched themselves at the expense of the Turks. In the second place,
they are determined to domineer over us and to establish a separate
state. In the third place, they have openly encouraged our enemies. They
have assisted the Russians in the Caucasus and our failure there is
largely explained by their actions. We have therefore come to the
irrevocable decision that we shall make them powerless before this war
is ended.”

On every one of these points I had plenty of arguments in rebuttal.
Talaat’s first objection was merely an admission that the Armenians were
more industrious and more able than the dull-witted and lazy Turks.
Massacre as a means of destroying business competition was certainly an
original conception! His general charge that the Armenians were
“conspiring” against Turkey and that they openly sympathized with
Turkey’s enemies merely meant, when reduced to its original elements,
that the Armenians were constantly appealing to the European Powers to
protect them against robbery, murder, and outrage. The Armenian problem,
like most race problems, was the result of centuries of ill-treatment
and injustice. There could be only one solution for it, the creation of
an orderly system of government, in which all citizens were to be
treated upon an equality, and in which all offenses were to be punished
as the acts of individuals and not as of peoples. I argued for a long
time along these and similar lines.

“It is no use for you to argue,” Talaat answered, “we have already
disposed of three quarters of the Armenians; there are none at all left
in Bitlis, Van, and Erzeroum. The hatred between the Turks and the
Armenians is now so intense that we have got to finish with them. If we
don’t, they will plan their revenge.”

“If you are not influenced by humane considerations,” I replied, “think
of the material loss. These people are your business men. They control
many of your industries. They are very large tax-payers. What would
become of you commercially without them?”

“We care nothing about the commercial loss,” replied Talaat. “We have
figured all that out and we know that it will not exceed five million
pounds. We don’t worry about that. I have asked you to come here so as
to let you know that our Armenian policy is absolutely fixed and that
nothing can change it. We will not have the Armenians anywhere in
Anatolia. They can live in the desert but nowhere else.”

I still attempted to persuade Talaat that the treatment of the Armenians
was destroying Turkey in the eyes of the world, and that his country
would never be able to recover from this infamy.

“You are making a terrible mistake,” I said, and I repeated the
statement three times.

“Yes, we may make mistakes,” he replied, “but”--and he firmly closed his
lips and shook his head--”we never regret.”

I had many talks with Talaat on the Armenians, but I never succeeded in
moving him to the slightest degree. He always came back to the points
which he had made in this interview. He was very willing to grant any
request I made in behalf of the Americans or even of the French and
English, but I could obtain no general concessions for the Armenians.
He seemed to me always to have the deepest personal feeling in this
matter, and his antagonism to the Armenians seemed to increase as their
sufferings increased. One day, discussing a particular Armenian, I told
Talaat that he was mistaken in regarding this man as an enemy of the
Turks; that in reality he was their friend.

“No Armenian,” replied Talaat, “can be our friend after what we have
done to them.”

One day Talaat made what was perhaps the most astonishing request I had
ever heard. The New York Life Insurance Company and the Equitable Life
of New York had for years done considerable business among the
Armenians. The extent to which this people insured their lives was
merely another indication of their thrifty habits.

“I wish,” Talaat now said, “that you would get the American life
insurance companies to send us a complete list of their Armenian policy
holders. They are practically all dead now and have left no heirs to
collect the money. It of course all escheats to the State. The
Government is the beneficiary now. Will you do so?”

This was almost too much, and I lost my temper.

“You will get no such list from me,” I said, and I got up and left him.

One other episode involving the Armenians stirred Talaat to one of his
most ferocious moods. In the latter part of September, Mrs. Morgenthau
left for America. The sufferings of the Armenians had greatly preyed
upon her mind and she really left for home because she could not any
longer endure to live in such a country. But she determined to make one
last intercession for this poor people on her own account. Her way home
took her through Bulgaria, and she had received an intimation that Queen
Eleanor of that country would be glad to receive her. Perhaps it was
Mrs. Morgenthau’s well-known interest in social work that led to this
invitation. Queen Eleanor was a high-minded woman, who had led a sad and
lonely existence, and who was spending most of her time attempting to
improve the condition of the poor in Bulgaria. She knew all about social
work in American cities, and, a few years before, she had made all her
plans to visit the United States in order to study our settlements at
first hand. At the time of Mrs. Morgenthau’s visit the Queen had two
American nurses from the Henry Street Settlement of New York instructing
a group of Bulgarian girls in the methods of the American Red Cross.

My wife was mainly interested in visiting the Queen in order that, as
one woman to another, she might make a plea for the Armenians. At that
time the question of Bulgaria’s entrance into the war had reached a
critical stage, and Turkey was prepared to make concessions to gain her
as an ally. It was therefore a propitious moment to make such an appeal.

The Queen received Mrs. Morgenthau informally, and my wife spent about
an hour telling her all about the Armenians. Most of what she said was
entirely new to the Queen. Little had yet appeared in the European press
on this subject, and Queen Eleanor was precisely the kind of woman from
whom the truth would be concealed as long as possible. Mrs. Morgenthau
gave her all the facts about the treatment of Armenian women and
children and asked her to intercede in their behalf. She even went so
far as to suggest that it would be a terrible thing if Bulgaria, which
in the past had herself suffered such atrocities at the hands of the
Turks, should now become their allies in war. Queen Eleanor was greatly
moved. She thanked my wife for telling her these truths and said that
she would investigate immediately and see if something could not be
done.

Just as Mrs. Morgenthau was getting ready to leave she saw the Duke of
Mecklenburg standing near the door. The Duke was in Sofia at that time
attempting to arrange for Bulgaria’s participation in the war. The Queen
introduced him to Mrs. Morgenthau; His Highness was polite, but his air
was rather cold and injured. His whole manner, particularly the stern
glances which he cast on Mrs. Morgenthau, showed that he had heard a
considerable part of the conversation. As he was exerting all his
efforts to bring Bulgaria in on Germany’s side, it is not surprising
that he did not relish the plea which Mrs. Morgenthau was making to the
Queen that Bulgaria should not ally herself with Turkey.

Queen Eleanor immediately interested herself in the Armenian cause, and,
as a result, the Bulgarian Minister to Turkey was instructed to protest
against the atrocities. This protest accomplished nothing, but it did
arouse Talaat’s momentary wrath against the American Ambassador. A few
days afterward, when routine business called me to the Sublime Porte, I
found him in an exceedingly ugly humour. He answered most of my
questions savagely and in monosyllables, and I was afterward told that
Mrs. Morgenthau’s intercession with the Queen had put him into this
mood. In a few days, however, he was as good-natured as ever, for
Bulgaria had taken sides with Turkey.

Talaat’s attitude toward the Armenians was summed up in the proud boast
which he made to his friends: “I have accomplished more toward solving
the Armenian problem in three months than Abdul Hamid accomplished in
thirty years!”



CHAPTER XXVI

ENVER PASHA DISCUSSES THE ARMENIANS


All this time I was bringing pressure upon Enver also. The Minister of
War, as I have already indicated, was a different type of man from
Talaat. He concealed his real feelings much more successfully; he was
usually suave, cold-blooded, and scrupulously polite. And at first he
was by no means so callous as Talaat in discussing the Armenians. He
dismissed the early stories as wild exaggerations, declared that the
troubles at Van were merely ordinary warfare, and attempted to quiet my
fears that the wholesale annihilation of the Armenians had been decided
on. Yet all the time that Enver was attempting to deceive me, he was
making open admissions to other people--a fact of which I was aware. In
particular he made no attempt to conceal the real situation from Dr.
Lepsius, a representative of German missionary interests. Dr. Lepsius
was a high-minded Christian gentleman. He had been all through the
Armenian massacres of 1895, and he had raised considerable sums of money
to build orphanages for Armenian children who had lost their parents at
that time. He came again in 1915 to investigate the Armenian situation
in behalf of German missionary interests. He asked for the privilege of
inspecting the reports of American consuls and I granted it. These
documents, supplemented by other information which Dr. Lepsius
obtained, largely from German missionaries in the interior, left no
doubt in his mind as to the policy of the Turks. His feelings were
aroused chiefly against his own government. He expressed to me the
humiliation which he felt, as a German, that the Turks should set about
to exterminate their Christian subjects, while Germany, which called
itself a Christian country, was making no endeavours to prevent it. From
him Enver scarcely concealed the official purpose. Dr. Lepsius was
simply staggered by his frankness, for Enver told him in so many words
that they at last had an opportunity to rid themselves of the Armenians
and that they proposed to use it.

By this time Enver had become more frank with me--the circumstantial
reports which I possessed made it useless for him to attempt to conceal
the true situation further--and we had many long and animated
discussions on the subject. One of these I recall with particular
vividness. I notified Enver that I intended to take up the matter in
detail and he laid aside enough time to go over the whole situation.

“The Armenians had a fair warning,” Enver began, “of what would happen
to them in case they joined our enemies. Three months ago I sent for the
Armenian Patriarch and I told him that if the Armenians attempted to
start a revolution or to assist the Russians, I would be unable to
prevent mischief from happening to them. My warning produced no effect
and the Armenians started a revolution and helped the Russians. You know
what happened at Van. They obtained control of the city, used bombs
against government buildings, and killed a large number of Moslems. We
knew that they were planning uprisings in other places. You must
understand that we are now fighting for our lives at the Dardanelles and
that we are sacrificing thousands of men. While we are engaged in such a
struggle as this, we cannot permit people in our own country to attack
us in the back. We have got to prevent this no matter what means we have
to resort to. It is absolutely true that I am not opposed to the
Armenians as a people. I have the greatest admiration for their
intelligence and industry, and I should like nothing better than to see
them become a real part of our nation. But if they ally themselves with
our enemies, as they did in the Van district, they will have to be
destroyed. I have taken pains to see that no injustice is done; only
recently I gave orders to have three Armenians who had been deported
returned to their homes, when I found that they were innocent. Russia,
France, Great Britain, and America are doing the Armenians no kindness
by sympathizing with and encouraging them. I know what such
encouragement means to a people who are inclined to revolution. When our
Union and Progress Party attacked Abdul Hamid, we received all our moral
encouragement from the outside world. This encouragement was of great
help to us and had much to do with our success. It might similarly now
help the Armenians and their revolutionary programme. I am sure that if
these outside countries did not encourage them, they would give up all
their efforts to oppose the present government and become law-abiding
citizens. We now have this country in our absolute control and we can
easily revenge ourselves on any revolutionists.”

“After all,” I said, “suppose what you say is true, why not punish the
guilty? Why sacrifice a whole race for the alleged crimes of
individuals?”

“Your point is all right during peace times,” replied Enver. “We can
then use Platonic means to quiet Armenians and Greeks, but in time of
war we cannot investigate and negotiate. We must act promptly and with
determination. I also think that the Armenians are making a mistake in
depending upon the Russians. The Russians really would rather see them
killed than alive. They are as great a danger to the Russians as they
are to us. If they should form an independent government in Turkey, the
Armenians in Russia would attempt to form an independent government
there. The Armenians have also been guilty of massacres; in the entire
district around Van only 30,000 Turks escaped, all the rest were
murdered by the Armenians and Kurds. I attempted to protect the
non-combatants at the Caucasus; I gave orders that they should not be
injured, but I found that the situation was beyond my control. There are
about 70,000 Armenians in Constantinople and they will not be molested,
except those who are Dashnaguists and those who are plotting against the
Turks. However, I think you can ease your mind on the whole subject as
there will be no more massacres of Armenians.”

I did not take seriously Enver’s concluding statement. At the time that
he was speaking, massacres and deportations were taking place all over
the Armenian provinces and they went on almost without interruption for
several months.

As soon as the reports reached the United States the question of relief
became a pressing one. In the latter part of July, I heard that there
were 5,000 Armenians from Zeitoun and Sultanié who were receiving no
food whatever. I spoke about them to Enver, who positively declared that
they would receive proper food. He did not receive favourably any
suggestion that American representatives should go to that part of the
country and assist and care for the exiles.

“For any American to do this,” he said, “would encourage all Armenians
and make further trouble. There are twenty-eight million people in
Turkey and one million Armenians, and we do not propose to have one
million disturb the peace of the rest of the population. The great
trouble with the Armenians is that they are separatists. They are
determined to have a kingdom of their own, and they have allowed
themselves to be fooled by the Russians. Because they have relied upon
the friendship of the Russians, they have helped them in this war. We
are determined that they shall behave just as Turks do. You must
remember that when we started this revolution in Turkey there were only
two hundred of us. With these few followers we were able to deceive the
Sultan and the public, who thought that we were immensely more numerous
and powerful than we were. We really prevailed upon him and the public
through our sheer audacity, and in this way we established the
Constitution. It is our own experience with revolutions which makes us
fear the Armenians. If two hundred Turks could overturn the Government,
then a few hundred bright, educated Armenians could do the same thing.
We have therefore deliberately adopted the plan of scattering them so
that they can do us no harm. As I told you once before, I warned the
Armenian Patriarch that if the Armenians attacked us while we were
engaged in a foreign war, that we Turks would hit back and that we would
hit back indiscriminately.”

Enver always resented any suggestion that American missionaries or other
friends of the Armenians should go to help or comfort them.

“They show altogether too much sympathy for them,” he said over and over
again.

I had suggested that particular Americans should go to Tarsus and
Marsovan.

“If they should go there, I am afraid that the local people in those
cities would become angry and they would be inclined to start some
disturbance which might create an incident. It is better for the
Armenians themselves, therefore, that the American missionaries should
keep away from them.”

“But you are ruining the country economically,” I said at another time,
making the same point that I had made to Talaat. And he answered it in
almost the same words, thus showing that the subject had been completely
canvassed by the ruling powers.

“Economic considerations are of no importance at this time. The only
important thing is to win. That’s the only thing we have on our mind. If
we win, everything will be all right; if we lose, everything will be all
wrong anyhow. Our situation is desperate, I admit it, and we are
fighting as desperate men fight. We are not going to let the Armenians
attack us in the rear.”

The question of relief to the starving Armenians became every week a
more pressing one, but Enver still insisted that Americans should keep
away from the Armenian provinces.

“How can we furnish bread to the Armenians,” Enver declared, “when we
can’t get enough for our own people? I know that they are suffering and
that it is quite likely that they cannot get bread at all this coming
winter. But we have the utmost difficulty in getting flour and clothing
right here in Constantinople.”

I said that I had the money and that American missionaries were anxious
to go and use it for the benefit of the refugees.

“We don’t want the Americans to feed the Armenians,” he flatly replied.
“That is one of the worst things that could happen to them. I have
already said that it is their belief that they have friends in other
countries which leads them to oppose the Government and so brings down
upon them all their miseries. If you Americans begin to distribute food
and clothing among them, they will then think that they have powerful
friends in the United States. This will encourage them to rebellion
again and then we shall have to punish them still more. If you will give
such money as you have received to the Turks, we shall see that it is
used for the benefit of the Armenians.”

Enver made this proposal with a straight face, and he made it not only
on this occasion but on several others. At the very moment that Enver
suggested this mechanism of relief, the Turkish gendarmes and the
Turkish officials were not only robbing the Armenians of all their
household possessions, of all their food and all their money, but they
were even stripping women of their last shreds of clothing and prodding
their naked bodies with bayonets as they staggered across the burning
desert. And the Minister of War now proposed that we give our American
money to these same guardians of the law for distribution among their
charges! However, I had to be tactful.

“If you or other heads of the Government would become personally
responsible for the distribution,” I said, “of course we would be glad
to entrust the money to you. But naturally you would not expect us to
give this money to the men who have been killing the Armenians and
outraging their women.”

But Enver returned to his main point.

“They must never know,” he said, “that they have a friend in the United
States. That would absolutely ruin them! It is far better that they
starve, and in saying this I am really thinking of the welfare of the
Armenians themselves. If they can only be convinced that they have no
friends in other countries, then they will settle down, recognize that
Turkey is their only refuge, and become quiet citizens. Your country is
doing them no kindness by constantly showing your sympathy. You are
merely drawing upon them greater hardships.”

In other words, the more money which the Americans sent to feed the
Armenians, the more Armenians Turkey intended to massacre! Enver’s logic
was fairly maddening; yet he did relent at the end and permit me to help
the sufferers through certain missionaries. In all our discussions he
made this hypocritical plea that he was really a friend of this
distracted nation and that even the severity of the measures which he
had adopted was mercy in disguise. Since Enver always asserted that he
wished to treat the Armenians with justice--in this his attitude to me
was quite different from that of Talaat, who openly acknowledged his
determination to deport them--I went to the pains of preparing an
elaborate plan for bettering their condition. I suggested that, if he
wished to be just, he should protect the innocent refugees and lessen
this suffering as much as possible, and that for that purpose he should
appoint a special committee of Armenians to assist him and send a
capable Armenian, such as Oskan Effendi, formerly Minister of Posts and
Telegraphs, to study conditions and submit suggestions for remedying the
existing evils. Enver did not approve either of my proposals; as to the
first, he said that his colleagues would misunderstand it, and, as to
Oskan, he said that he admired him for his good work while he had been
in the Cabinet and had backed him in his severity toward the inefficient
officials, yet he could not trust him because he was a member of the
Armenian Dashnaguist Society.

In another talk with Enver I began by suggesting that the Central
Government was probably not to blame for the massacres. I thought that
this would not be displeasing to him.

“Of course I know that the Cabinet would never order such terrible
things as have taken place,” I said. “You and Talaat and the rest of the
Committee can hardly be held responsible. Undoubtedly your subordinates
have gone much further than you have ever intended. I realize that it is
not always easy to control your underlings.”

Enver straightened up at once. I saw that my remarks, far from smoothing
the way to a quiet and friendly discussion, had greatly offended him. I
had intimated that things could happen in Turkey for which he and his
associates were not responsible.

“You are greatly mistaken,” he said. “We have this country absolutely
under our control. I have no desire to shift the blame on to our
underlings and I am entirely willing to accept the responsibility myself
for everything that has taken place. The Cabinet itself has ordered the
deportations. I am convinced that we are completely justified in doing
this owing to the hostile attitude of the Armenians toward the Ottoman
Government, but we are the real rulers of Turkey, and no underling would
dare proceed in a matter of this kind without our orders.”

Enver tried to mitigate the barbarity of his general attitude by showing
mercy in particular instances. I made no progress in my efforts to stop
the programme of wholesale massacre, but I did save a few Armenians from
death. One day I received word from the American Consul at Smyrna that
seven Armenians had been sentenced to be hanged. These men had been
accused of committing some rather vague political offense in 1909; yet
neither Rahmi Bey, the Governor General of Smyrna, nor the Military
Commander believed that they were guilty. When the order for execution
reached Smyrna these authorities wired Constantinople that under the
Ottoman law the accused had the right to appeal for clemency to the
Sultan. The answer which was returned to this communication well
illustrated the extent to which the rights of the Armenians were
regarded at that time:

“Technically, you are right; hang them first and send the petition for
pardon afterward.”

I visited Enver in the interest of these men on Bairam, which is the
greatest Mohammedan religious festival; it is the day that succeeds
Ramazan, their month of fasting. Bairam has one feature in common with
Christmas, for on that day it is customary for Mohammedans to exchange
small presents, usually sweets. So after the usual remarks of
felicitation, I said to Enver:

“To-day is Bairam and you haven’t sent me any present yet.”

Enver laughed.

“What do you want? Shall I send you a box of candies?”

“Oh, no,” I answered, “I am not so cheap as that. I want the pardon of
the seven Armenians whom the court-martial has condemned at Smyrna.”

The proposition apparently struck Enver as very amusing.

“That’s a funny way of asking for a pardon,” he said. “However, since
you put it that way, I can’t refuse.”

He immediately sent for his aide and telegraphed to Smyrna, setting the
men free.

Thus fortuitously is justice administered and decision involving human
lives made in Turkey. Nothing could make clearer the slight estimation
in which the Turks hold life, and the slight extent to which principle
controls their conduct. Enver spared these men not because he had the
slightest interest in their cases, but simply as a personal favour to me
and largely because of the whimsical manner in which I had asked it. In
all my talks on the Armenians the Minister of War treated the whole
matter more or less casually; he could discuss the fate of a race in a
parenthesis, and refer to the massacre of children as nonchalantly as we
would speak of the weather.

One day Enver asked me to ride with him in the Belgrade forest. As I
was losing no opportunities to influence him, I accepted this
invitation. We autoed to Buyukdere, where four attendants with horses
met us. In our ride through the beautiful forest, Enver became rather
more communicative in his conversation than ever before. He spoke
affectionately of his father and mother; when they were married, he
said, his father had been sixteen and his mother only eleven, and he
himself had been born when his mother was fifteen. In talking of his
wife, the Imperial Princess, he disclosed a much softer side to his
nature than I had hitherto seen. He spoke of the dignity with which she
graced his home, regretted that Mohammedan ideas of propriety prohibited
her from entering social life, but expressed a wish that she and Mrs.
Morgenthau could meet. He was then furnishing a beautiful new palace on
the Bosphorus; when this was finished, he said, the Princess would
invite my wife to breakfast. Just then we were passing the house and
grounds of Senator Abraham Pasha, a very rich Armenian. This man had
been an intimate friend of the Sultan Abdul Aziz, and, since in Turkey a
man inherits his father’s friends as well as his property, the Crown
Prince of Turkey, a son of Abdul Aziz, made weekly visits to this
distinguished Senator. As we passed through the park, Enver noticed with
disgust that woodmen were cutting down trees and stopped them. When I
heard afterward that the Minister of War had bought this park, I
understood one of the reasons for his anger. Since Abraham Pasha was an
Armenian, this gave me an opportunity to open the subject again.

I spoke to him of the terrible treatment from which the Armenian women
were suffering.

“You said that you wanted to protect women and children,” I remarked,
“but I know that your orders are not being carried out.”

“Those stories can’t be true,” he said. “I cannot conceive that a
Turkish soldier would ill-treat a woman who is with child.”

Perhaps, if Enver could have read the circumstantial reports which were
then lying in the archives of the American Embassy, he might have
changed his mind.

Shifting the conversation once more, he asked me about my saddle, which
was the well-known “General McClellan” type. Enver tried it and liked it
so much that he afterward borrowed it, had one made exactly like it for
himself--even including the number in one corner--and adopted it for one
of his regiments. He told me of the railroads which he was then building
in Palestine, said how well the Cabinet was working, and pointed out
that there were great opportunities in Turkey now for real-estate
speculation. He even suggested that he and I join hands in buying land
that was sure to rise in value! But I insisted in talking about the
Armenians. However, I made no more progress than before.

“We shall not permit them to cluster in places where they can plot
mischief and help our enemies. So we are going to give them new
quarters.”

This ride was so successful, from Enver’s point of view, that we took
another a few days afterward, and this time Talaat and Dr. Gates, the
President of Robert College, accompanied us. Enver and I rode ahead,
while our companions brought up the rear. These Turkish officials are
exceedingly jealous of their prerogatives, and, since the Minister of
War is the ranking member of the Cabinet, Enver insisted on keeping a
decorous interval between ourselves and the other pair of horsemen. I
was somewhat amused by this, for I knew that Talaat was the more
powerful politician; yet he accepted the discrimination and only once
did he permit his horse to pass Enver and myself. At this violation of
the proprieties, Enver showed his displeasure, whereat Talaat paused,
reined up his horse, and passed submissively to the rear.

“I was merely showing Dr. Gates the gait of my horse,” he said, with an
apologetic air.

But I was interested in more important matters than such fine
distinctions in official etiquette; I was determined to talk about the
Armenians. But again I failed to make any progress. Enver found more
interesting subjects of discussion.

He began to talk of his horses, and now another incident illustrated the
mercurial quality of the Turkish mind--the readiness with which a Turk
passes from acts of monstrous criminality to acts of individual
kindness. Enver said that the horse races would take place soon and
regretted that he had no jockey.

“I’ll give you an English jockey,” I said. “Will you make a bargain? He
is a prisoner of war; if he wins will you give him his freedom?”

“I’ll do it,” said Enver.

This man, whose name was Fields, actually entered the races as Enver’s
jockey, and came in third. He rode for his freedom, as Mr. Philip said!
Since he did not come in first, the Minister was not obliged, by the
terms of his agreement, to let him return to England, but Enver
stretched a point and gave him his liberty.

On this same ride Enver gave me an exhibition of his skill as a
marksman.

At one point in the road I suddenly heard a pistol shot ring out in the
air. It was Enver’s aide practising on a near-by object. Immediately
Enver dismounted, whipped out his revolver, and, thrusting his arm out
rigidly and horizontally, he took aim.

“Do you see that twig on that tree?” he asked me. It was about thirty
feet away.

When I nodded, Enver fired--and the twig dropped to the ground.

The rapidity with which Enver could whip his weapon out of his pocket,
aim, and shoot, gave me one convincing explanation for the influence
which he exercised with the piratical crew that was then ruling Turkey.
There were plenty of stories floating around that Enver did not hesitate
to use this method of suasion at certain critical moments of his career;
how true these anecdotes were I do not know, but I can certainly testify
to the high character of his marksmanship.

Talaat also began to amuse himself in the same way, and finally the two
statesmen started shooting in competition and behaving as gaily and as
carefree as boys let out of school.

“Have you one of your cards with you?” asked Enver. He requested that I
pin it to a tree, which stood about fifty feet away.

Enver then fired first. His hand was steady; his eye went straight to
the mark, and the bullet hit the card directly in the centre. This
success rather nettled Talaat. He took aim, but his rough hand and wrist
shook slightly--he was not an athlete like his younger, wiry, and
straight-backed associate. Several times Talaat hit around the edges of
the card, but he could not duplicate Enver’s skill.

“If it had been a man I was firing at,” said the bulky Turk, jumping on
his horse again, “I would have hit him several times.”

So ended my attempts to interest the two most powerful Turks of their
day in the fate of one of the most valuable elements in their empire!

       *       *       *       *       *

I have already said that Saïd Halim, the Grand Vizier, was not an
influential personage. Nominally, his office was the most important in
the empire; actually, the Grand Vizier was a mere place-warmer, and
Talaat and Enver controlled the present incumbent, precisely as they
controlled the Sultan himself. Technically the ambassadors should have
conducted their negotiations with Saïd Halim, for he was Minister for
Foreign Affairs; I early discovered, however, that nothing could be
accomplished this way, and, though I still made my Monday calls as a
matter of courtesy, I preferred to deal directly with the men who had
the real power to decide all matters. In order that I might not be
accused of neglecting any means of influencing the Ottoman Government, I
brought the Armenian question several times to the Grand Vizier’s
attention. As he was not a Turk, but an Egyptian, and a man of education
and breeding, it seemed not unlikely that he might have a somewhat
different attitude toward the subject peoples. But I was wrong. The
Grand Vizier was just as hostile to the Armenians as Talaat and Enver. I
soon found that merely mentioning the subject irritated him greatly.
Evidently he did not care to have his elegant ease interfered with by
such disagreeable and unimportant subjects. The Grand Vizier showed his
attitude when the Greek Chargé d’Affaires spoke to him about the
persecutions of the Greeks. Saïd Halim said that such manifestations did
the Greeks more harm than good.

“We shall do with them just the opposite from what we are asked to do,”
said the Grand Vizier.

To my appeals the nominal chief minister was hardly more statesmanlike.
I had the disagreeable task of sending him, in behalf of the British,
French, and Russian governments, a notification that these Powers would
hold personally responsible for the Armenian atrocities the men who were
then directing Ottoman affairs. This meant, of course, that in the event
of Allied success, they would treat the Grand Vizier, Talaat, Enver,
Djemal and their companions as ordinary murderers. As I came into the
room to discuss this somewhat embarrassing message with this member of
the royal house of Egypt, he sat there, as usual, nervously fingering
his beads, and not in a particularly genial frame of mind. He at once
spoke of this telegram; his face flushed with anger, and he began a long
diatribe against the whole Armenian race. He declared that the Armenian
“rebels” had killed 120,000 Turks at Van. This and other of his
statements were so absurd that I found myself spiritedly defending the
persecuted race, and this aroused the Grand Vizier’s wrath still
further, and, switching from the Armenians, he began to abuse my own
country, making the usual charge that our sympathy with the Armenians
was largely responsible for all their troubles.

Soon after this interview Saïd Halim ceased to be Minister for Foreign
Affairs; his successor was Halil Bey, who for several years had been
Speaker of the Turkish Parliament. Halil was a very different type of
man. He was much more tactful, much more intelligent, and much more
influential in Turkish affairs. He was also a smooth and oily
conversationalist, good natured and fat, and by no means so lost to all
decent sentiments as most Turkish politicians of the time. It was
generally reported that Halil did not approve the Armenian proceedings,
yet his official position compelled him to accept them and even, as I
now discovered, to defend them. Soon after obtaining his Cabinet post,
Halil called upon me and made a somewhat rambling explanation of the
Armenian atrocities. I had already had experiences with several official
attitudes toward the persecutions; Talaat had been bloodthirsty and
ferocious, Enver subtly calculating, while the Grand Vizier had been
testy. Halil now regarded the elimination of this race with the utmost
good humour. Not a single aspect of the proceeding, not even the
unkindest things I could say concerning it, disturbed his equanimity in
the least. He began by admitting that nothing could palliate these
massacres, but, he added that, in order to understand them, there were
certain facts that I should keep in mind.

“I agree that the Government has made serious mistakes in the treatment
of the Armenians,” said Halil, “but the harm has already been done. What
can we do about it now? Still, if there are any errors we can correct,
we should correct them. I deplore as much as you the excesses and
violations which have been committed. I wish to present to you the view
of the Sublime Porte; I admit that this is no justification, but I
think there are extenuating circumstances that you should take into
consideration before judgment is passed upon the Ottoman Government.”

And then, like all the others, he went back to the happenings at Van,
the desire of the Armenians for independence, and the help which they
had given the Russians. I had heard it all many times before.

“I told Vartkes” (an Armenian deputy who, like many other Armenian
leaders, was afterward murdered), “that, if his people really aspired to
an independent existence, they should wait for a propitious moment.
Perhaps the Russians might defeat the Turkish troops and occupy all the
Armenian provinces. Then I could understand that the Armenians might
want to set up for themselves. Why not wait, I told Vartkes, until such
a fortunate time had arrived? I warned him that we would not let the
Armenians jump on our backs, and that, if they did engage in hostile
acts against our troops, we would dispose of all Armenians who were in
the rear of our army, and that our method would be to send them to a
safe distance in the south. Enver, as you know, gave a similar warning
to the Armenian Patriarch. But in spite of these friendly warnings, they
started a revolution.”

I asked about methods of relief, and told him that already twenty
thousand pounds ($100,000) had reached me from America.

“It is the business of the Ottoman Government,” he blandly answered, “to
see that these people are settled, housed, and fed until they can
support themselves. The Government will naturally do its duty! Besides,
the twenty thousand pounds that you have is in reality nothing at all.”

“That is true,” I answered, “it is only a beginning, but I am sure that
I can get all the money we need.”

“It is the opinion of Enver Pasha,” he replied, “that no foreigners
should help the Armenians. I do not say that his reasons are right or
wrong. I merely give them to you as they are. Enver says that the
Armenians are idealists, and that the moment foreigners approach and
help them, they will be encouraged in their national aspirations. He is
utterly determined to cut forever all relations between the Armenians
and foreigners.”

“Is this Enver’s way of stopping any further action on their part?” I
asked.

Halil smiled most good-naturedly at this somewhat pointed question and
answered:

“The Armenians have no further means of action whatever!”

Since not far from 500,000 Armenians had been killed by this time,
Halil’s genial retort certainly had one virtue which most of his other
statements in this interview had lacked--it was the truth.

“How many Armenians in the southern provinces are in need of help?” I
asked.

“I do not know; I would not give you even an approximate figure.”

“Are there several hundred thousand?”

“I should think so,” Halil admitted, “but I cannot say how many hundred
thousand.”

“A great many suffered,” he added, “simply because Enver could not spare
troops to defend them. Some regular troops did accompany them and these
behaved very well; forty even lost their lives defending the Armenians.
But we had to withdraw most of the gendarmes for service in the army
and put in a new lot to accompany the Armenians. It is true that these
gendarmes committed many deplorable excesses.”

“A great many Turks do not approve these measures,” I said.

“I do not deny it,” replied the ever-accommodating Halil, as he bowed
himself out.

Enver, Halil, and the rest were ever insistent on the point which they
constantly raised, that no foreigners should furnish relief to the
Armenians. A few days after this visit the Under-Secretary of State
called at the American Embassy. He came to deliver to me a message from
Djemal to Enver. Djemal, who then had jurisdiction over the Christians
in Syria, was much annoyed at the interest which the American consuls
were displaying in the Armenians. He now asked me to order these
officials “to stop busying themselves in Armenian affairs.” Djemal could
not distinguish between the innocent and the guilty, this messenger
said, and so he had to punish them all! Some time afterward Halil
complained to me that the American consuls were sending facts about the
Armenians to America and that the Government insisted that they should
be stopped.

As a matter of fact, I was myself sending most of this information--and
I did not stop.



CHAPTER XXVII

“I SHALL DO NOTHING FOR THE ARMENIANS” SAYS THE GERMAN AMBASSADOR


I suppose that there is no phase of the Armenian question which has
aroused more interest than this: Had the Germans any part in it? To what
extent was the Kaiser responsible for the wholesale slaughter of this
nation? Did the Germans favour it, did they merely acquiesce, or did
they oppose the persecutions? Germany, in the last four years, has
become responsible for many of the blackest pages in history; is she
responsible for this, unquestionably the blackest of all?

I presume most people will detect in the remarks of these Turkish
chieftains certain resemblances to the German philosophy of war. Let me
repeat particular phrases used by Enver and other Turks while discussing
the Armenian massacres: “The Armenians have brought this fate upon
themselves.” “They had a fair warning of what would happen to them.” “We
were fighting for our national existence.” “We were justified in
resorting to any means that would accomplish these ends.” “We have no
time to separate the innocent from the guilty.” “The only thing we have
on our mind is to win the war.”

These phrases somehow have a familiar ring, do they not? Indeed, I might
rewrite all these interviews with Enver, use the word Belgium in place
of Armenia, put the words in a German general’s mouth instead of
Enver’s, and we should have almost a complete exposition of the German
attitude toward subject peoples. But the teachings of the Prussians go
deeper than this. There was one feature about the Armenian proceedings
that was new--that was not Turkish at all. For centuries the Turks have
ill-treated their Armenians and all their other subject peoples with
inconceivable barbarity. Yet their methods have always been crude,
clumsy, and unscientific. They excelled in beating out an Armenian’s
brains with a club, and this unpleasant illustration is a perfect
indication of the rough and primitive methods which they applied to the
Armenian problem. They have understood the uses of murder, but not of
murder as a fine art. But the Armenian proceedings of 1915 and 1916
evidenced an entirely new mentality. This new conception was that of
_deportation_. The Turks, in five hundred years, had invented
innumerable ways of physically torturing their Christian subjects, yet
never before had it occurred to their minds to move them bodily from
their homes, where they had lived for many thousands of years, and send
them hundreds of miles away into the desert. Where did the Turks get
this idea? I have already described how, in 1914, just before the
European War, the Government moved not far from 100,000 Greeks from
their age-long homes along the Asiatic littoral to certain islands in
the Ægean. I have also said that Admiral Usedom, one of the big German
naval experts in Turkey, told me that the Germans had suggested this
deportation to the Turks. But the all-important point is that this idea
of deporting peoples _en masse_ is, in modern times, exclusively
Germanic. Any one who reads the literature of Pan-Germany constantly
meets it. These enthusiasts for a German world have deliberately
planned, as part of their programme, the ousting of the French from
certain parts of France, of Belgians from Belgium, of Poles from Poland,
of Slavs from Russia, and other indigenous peoples from the territories
which they have inhabited for thousands of years, and the establishment
in the vacated lands of solid, honest Germans. But it is hardly
necessary to show that the Germans have advocated this as a state
policy; they have actually been doing it in the last four years. They
have moved we do not know how many thousands of Belgians and French from
their native land. Austria-Hungary has killed a large part of the
Serbian population and moved thousands of Serbian children into her own
territories, intending to bring them up as loyal subjects of the empire.
To what degree this movement of populations has taken place we shall not
know until the end of the war, but it has certainly gone on extensively.

Certain German writers have even advocated the application of this
policy to the Armenians. According to the Paris _Temps_, Paul Rohrbach
“in a conference held at Berlin, some time ago, recommended that Armenia
should be evacuated of the Armenians. They should be dispersed in the
direction of Mesopotamia and their places should be taken by Turks, in
such a fashion that Armenia should be freed of all Russian influence and
that Mesopotamia might be provided with farmers which it now lacked.”
The purpose of all this was evident enough. Germany was building the
Bagdad railroad across the Mesopotamian desert. This was an essential
detail in the achievement of the great new German Empire, extending from
Hamburg to the Persian Gulf. But this railroad could never succeed
unless there should develop a thrifty and industrious population to feed
it. The lazy Turk would never become such a colonist. But the Armenian
was made of just the kind of stuff which this enterprise needed. It was
entirely in accordance with the German conception of statesmanship to
seize these people in the lands where they had lived for ages and
transport them violently to this dreary, hot desert. The mere fact that
they had always lived in a temperate climate would furnish no impediment
in Pan-German eyes. I found that Germany had been sowing those ideas
broadcast for several years; I even found that German savants had been
lecturing on this subject in the East. “I remember attending a lecture
by a well-known German professor,” an Armenian tells me. “His main point
was that throughout their history the Turks had made a great mistake in
being too merciful toward the non-Turkish population. The only way to
insure the prosperity of the empire, according to this speaker, was to
act without any sentimentality toward all the subject nationalities and
races in Turkey who did not fall in with the plans of the Turks.”

The Pan-Germanists are on record in the matter of Armenia. I shall
content myself with quoting the words of the author of “Mittel-Europa,”
Friedrich Naumann, perhaps the ablest propagator of Pan-German ideas. In
his work on Asia, Naumann, who started life as a Christian clergyman,
deals in considerable detail with the Armenian massacres of 1895-96. I
need only quote a few passages to show the attitude of German state
policy on such infamies: “If we should take into consideration merely
the violent massacre of from 80,000 to 100,000 Armenians,” writes
Naumann, “we can come to but one opinion--we must absolutely condemn
with all anger and vehemence both the assassins and their instigators.
They have perpetrated the most abominable massacres upon masses of
people, more numerous and worse than those inflicted by Charlemagne on
the Saxons. The tortures which Lepsius has described surpass anything we
have ever known. What then prohibits us from falling upon the Turk and
saying to him: ‘Get thee gone, wretch!’? Only one thing prohibits us,
for the Turk answers: ‘I, too, I fight for my existence!’--and indeed,
we believe him. We believe, despite the indignation which the bloody
Mohammedan barbarism arouses in us, that the Turks are defending
themselves legitimately, and before anything else we see in the Armenian
question and Armenian massacres a matter of internal Turkish policy,
merely an episode of the agony through which a great empire is passing,
which does not propose to let itself die without making a last attempt
to save itself by bloodshed. All the great powers, excepting Germany,
have adopted a policy which aims to upset the actual state of affairs in
Turkey. In accordance with this, they demand for the subject peoples of
Turkey the rights of man, or of humanity, or of civilization, or of
political liberty--in a word, something that will make them the equals
of the Turks. But just as little as the ancient Roman despotic state
could tolerate the Nazarene’s religion, just as little can the Turkish
Empire, which is really the political successor of the eastern Roman
Empire,

[Illustration: VIEW OF URFA

One of the largest towns in Asia Minor.]

[Illustration: A RELIC OF THE ARMENIAN MASSACRES AT ERZINGAN

Such mementos are found all over Armenia.]

[Illustration: THE FUNERAL OF BARON VON WANGENHEIM

The German Ambassador to Turkey. Mr. Morgenthau (in evening dress) is
walking with Enver Pasha. Immediately in front of them is Talaat
Pasha.]

tolerate any representation of western free Christianity among its
subjects. The danger for Turkey in the Armenian question is one of
extinction. For this reason she resorts to an act of a barbarous Asiatic
state; she has destroyed the Armenians to such an extent that they will
not be able to manifest themselves as a political force for a
considerable period. A horrible act, certainly, an act of political
despair, shameful in its details, but still a piece of political
history, in the Asiatic manner.... In spite of the displeasure which the
German Christian feels at these accomplished facts, he has nothing to do
except quietly to heal the wounds so far as he can, and then to let
matters take their course. For a long time our policy in the Orient has
been determined: we belong to the group that protects Turkey, that is
the fact by which we must regulate our conduct.... We do not prohibit
any zealous Christian from caring for the victims of these horrible
crimes, from bringing up the children and nursing the adults. May God
bless these good acts like all other acts of faith. Only we must take
care that deeds of charity do not take the form of political acts which
are likely to thwart our German policy. The internationalist, he who
belongs to the English school of thought, may march with the Armenians.
The nationalist, he who does not intend to sacrifice the future of
Germany to England, must, on questions of external policy, follow the
path marked out by Bismarck, even if it is merciless in its
sentiments.... National policy: that is the profound moral reason why we
must, as statesmen, show ourselves indifferent to the sufferings of the
Christian peoples of Turkey, however painful that may be to our human
feelings.... That is our duty, which we must recognize and confess
before God and before man. If for this reason we now maintain the
existence of the Turkish state, we do it in our own self-interest,
because what we have in mind is our great future.... On one side lie our
duties as a nation, on the other our duties as men. There are times,
when, in a conflict of duties, we can choose a middle ground. That is
all right from a human standpoint, but rarely right in a moral sense. In
this instance, as in all analogous situations, we must clearly know on
which side lies the greatest and most important moral duty. Once we have
made such a choice we must not hesitate. William II has chosen. He has
become the friend of the Sultan, because he is thinking of a greater,
independent Germany.”

Such was the German state philosophy as applied to the Armenians, and I
had the opportunity of observing German practice as well. As soon as the
early reports reached Constantinople, it occurred to me that the most
feasible way of stopping the outrages would be for the diplomatic
representatives of all countries to make a joint appeal to the Ottoman
Government. I approached Wangenheim on this subject in the latter part
of March. His antipathy to the Armenians became immediately apparent. He
began denouncing them in unmeasured terms; like Talaat and Enver, he
affected to regard the Van episode as an unprovoked rebellion, and, in
his eyes, as in theirs, the Armenians were simply traitorous vermin.

“I will help the Zionists,” he said, thinking that this remark would be
personally pleasing to me, “but I shall do nothing whatever for the
Armenians.”

Wangenheim pretended to regard the Armenian question as a matter that
chiefly affected the United States. My constant intercession in their
behalf apparently created the impression, in his Germanic mind, that any
mercy shown this people would be a concession to the American
Government. And at that moment he was not disposed to do anything that
would please the American people.

“The United States is apparently the only country that takes much
interest in the Armenians,” he said. “Your missionaries are their
friends and your people have constituted themselves their guardians. The
whole question of helping them is therefore an American matter. How,
then, can you expect me to do anything as long as the United States is
selling ammunition to the enemies of Germany? Mr. Bryan has just
published his note, saying that it would be unneutral not to sell
munitions to England and France. As long as your government maintains
that attitude we can do nothing for the Armenians.”

Probably no one except a German logician would ever have detected any
relation between our sale of war materials to the Allies and Turkey’s
attacks upon hundreds of thousands of Armenian women and children. But
that was about as much progress as I made with Wangenheim at that time.
I spoke to him frequently, but he invariably offset my pleas for mercy
to the Armenians by references to the use of American shells at the
Dardanelles. A coolness sprang up between us soon afterward, the result
of my refusal to give him “credit” for having stopped the deportation of
French and British civilians to the Gallipoli peninsula. After our
somewhat tart conversation over the telephone, when he had asked me to
telegraph Washington that he had not _hetzed_ the Turks in this matter,
our visits to each other ceased for several weeks.

There were certain influential Germans in Constantinople who did not
accept Wangenheim’s point of view. I have already referred to Paul
Weitz, for thirty years the correspondent of the _Frankfurter Zeitung_,
who probably knew more about affairs in the Near East than any other
German. Although Wangenheim constantly looked to Weitz for information,
he did not always take his advice. Weitz did not accept the orthodox
imperial attitude toward Armenia, for he believed that Germany’s refusal
effectively to intervene was doing his fatherland everlasting injury.
Weitz was constantly presenting this view to Wangenheim, but he made
little progress. Weitz told me about this himself, in January, 1916, a
few weeks before I left Turkey. I quote his own words on this subject:

“I remember that you told me at the beginning,” said Weitz, “what a
mistake Germany was making in the Armenian matters. I agreed with you
perfectly. But when I urged this view upon Wangenheim, he threw me twice
out of the room!”

Another German who was opposed to the atrocities was Neurath, the
Conseiller of the German Embassy. His indignation reached such a point
that his language to Talaat and Enver became almost undiplomatic. He
told me, however, that he had failed to influence them.

“They are immovable and are determined to pursue their present course,”
Neurath said.

Of course no Germans could make much impression on the Turkish
Government as long as the German Ambassador refused to interfere. And,
as time went on, it became more and more evident that Wangenheim had no
desire to stop the deportations. He apparently wished, however, to
reëstablish friendly relations with me, and soon sent third parties to
ask why I never came to see him. I do not know how long this
estrangement would have lasted had not a great personal affliction
befallen him. In June, Lieutenant Colonel Leipzig, the German Military
Attaché, died under the most tragic and mysterious circumstances in the
railroad station at Lule Bourgas. He was killed by a revolver shot; one
story said that the weapon had been accidentally discharged, another
that the Colonel had committed suicide, still another that the Turks had
assassinated him, mistaking him for Liman von Sanders. Leipzig was one
of Wangenheim’s intimate friends; as young men they had been officers in
the same regiment, and at Constantinople they were almost inseparable. I
immediately called on the Ambassador to express my condolences. I found
him very dejected and careworn. He told me that he had heart trouble,
that he was almost exhausted, and that he had applied for a few weeks’
leave of absence. I knew that it was not only his comrade’s death that
was preying upon Wangenheim’s mind. German missionaries were flooding
Germany with reports about the Armenians and calling upon the Government
to stop the massacres. Yet, overburdened and nervous as Wangenheim was
this day, he gave many signs that he was still the same unyielding
German militarist. A few days afterward, when he returned my visit, he
asked:

“Where’s Kitchener’s army?

“We are willing to surrender Belgium now,” he went on. “Germany intends
to build an enormous fleet of submarines with great cruising radius. In
the next war, we shall therefore be able completely to blockade England.
So we do not need Belgium for its submarine bases. We shall give her
back to the Belgians, taking the Congo in exchange.”

I then made another plea in behalf of the persecuted Christians. Again
we discussed this subject at length.

“The Armenians,” said Wangenheim, “have shown themselves in this war to
be enemies of the Turks. It is quite apparent that the two peoples can
never live together in the same country. The Americans should move some
of them to the United States, and we Germans will send some to Poland
and in their place send Jewish Poles to the Armenian provinces--that is,
if they will promise to drop their Zionist schemes.”

Again, although I spoke with unusual earnestness, the Ambassador refused
to help the Armenians.

Still, on July 4th, Wangenheim did present a formal note of protest. He
did not talk to Talaat or Enver, the only men who had any authority, but
to the Grand Vizier, who was merely a shadow. The incident had precisely
the same character as his _proforma_ protest against sending the French
and British civilians down to Gallipoli, to serve as targets for the
Allied fleet. Its only purpose was to put Germans officially on record.
Probably the hypocrisy of this protest was more apparent to me than to
others, for, at the very moment when Wangenheim presented this so-called
protest, he was giving me the reasons why Germany could not take really
effective steps to end the massacres. Soon after this interview,
Wangenheim received his leave and went to Germany.

Callous as Wangenheim showed himself to be, he was not quite so
implacable toward the Armenians as the German naval attaché in
Constantinople, Humann. This person was generally regarded as a man of
great influence; his position in Constantinople corresponded to that of
Boy-Ed in the United States. A German diplomat once told me that Humann
was more of a Turk than Enver or Talaat. Despite this reputation I
attempted to enlist his influence. I appealed to him particularly
because he was a friend of Enver, and was generally looked upon as an
important connecting link between the German Embassy and the Turkish
military authorities. Humann was a personal emissary of the Kaiser, in
constant communication with Berlin and undoubtedly he reflected the
attitude of the ruling powers in Germany. He discussed the Armenian
problem with the utmost frankness and brutality.

“I have lived in Turkey the larger part of my life,” he told me, “and I
know the Armenians. I also know that both Armenians and Turks cannot
live together in this country. One of these races has got to go. And I
don’t blame the Turks for what they are doing to the Armenians. I think
that they are entirely justified. The weaker nation must succumb. The
Armenians desire to dismember Turkey; they are against the Turks and the
Germans in this war, and they therefore have no right to exist here. I
also think that Wangenheim went altogether too far in making a protest;
at least I would not have done so.”

I expressed my horror at such sentiments, but Humann went on abusing the
Armenian people and absolving the Turks from all blame.

“It is a matter of safety,” he replied; “the Turks have got to protect
themselves, and, from this point of view, they are entirely justified in
what they are doing. Why, we found 7,000 guns at Kadikeuy which belonged
to the Armenians. At first Enver wanted to treat the Armenians with the
utmost moderation, and four months ago he insisted that they be given
another opportunity to demonstrate their loyalty. But after what they
did at Van, he had to yield to the army, which had been insisting all
along that it should protect its rear. The Committee decided upon the
deportations and Enver reluctantly agreed. All Armenians are working for
the destruction of Turkey’s power--and the only thing to do is to deport
them. Enver is really a very kind-hearted man; he is incapable
personally of hurting a fly! But when it comes to defending an idea in
which he believes, he will do it fearlessly and recklessly. Moreover,
the Young Turks have to get rid of the Armenians merely as a matter of
self-protection. The Committee is strong only in Constantinople and a
few other large cities. Everywhere else the people are strongly ‘Old
Turk’. And these old Turks are all fanatics. These Old Turks are not in
favour of the present government, and so the Committee has to do
everything in their power to protect themselves. But don’t think that
any harm will come to other Christians. Any Turk can easily pick out
three Armenians among a thousand Turks!”

Humann was not the only important German who expressed this latter
sentiment. Intimations began to reach me from many sources that my
“meddling” in behalf of the Armenians was making me more and more
unpopular in German officialdom. One day in October, Neurath, the German
Conseiller, called and showed me a telegram which he had just received
from the German Foreign Office. This contained the information that Earl
Crewe and Earl Cromer had spoken on the Armenians in the House of Lords,
had laid the responsibility for the massacres upon the Germans, and had
declared that they had received their information from an American
witness. The telegram also referred to an article in the _Westminster
Gazette_, which said that the German consuls at certain places had
instigated and even led the attacks, and particularly mentioned Resler
of Aleppo. Neurath said that his government had directed him to obtain a
denial of these charges from the American Ambassador at Constantinople.
I refused to make such a denial, saying that I did not feel called upon
to decide officially whether Turkey or Germany was to blame for these
crimes.

Yet everywhere in diplomatic circles there seemed to be a conviction
that the American Ambassador was responsible for the wide publicity
which the Armenian massacres were receiving in Europe and the United
States. I have no hesitation in saying that they were right about this.
In December, my son, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., paid a visit to the
Gallipoli peninsula, where he was entertained by General Liman von
Sanders and other German officers. He had hardly stepped into German
headquarters when an officer came up to him and said:

“Those are very interesting articles on the Armenian question which
your father is writing in the American newspapers.”

“My father has been writing no articles,” my son replied.

“Oh,” said this officer, “just because his name isn’t signed to them
doesn’t mean that he is not writing them!”

Von Sanders also spoke on this subject.

“Your father is making a great mistake,” he said, “giving out the facts
about what the Turks are doing to the Armenians. That really is not his
business.”

As hints of this kind made no impression on me, the Germans evidently
decided to resort to threats. In the early autumn, a Dr. Nossig arrived
in Constantinople from Berlin. Dr. Nossig was a German Jew, and came to
Turkey evidently to work against the Zionists. After he had talked with
me for a few minutes, describing his Jewish activities, I soon
discovered that he was a German political agent. He came to see me
twice; the first time his talk was somewhat indefinite, the purpose of
the call apparently being to make my acquaintance and insinuate himself
into my good graces. The second time, after discoursing vaguely on
several topics, he came directly to the point. He drew his chair close
up to me and began to talk in the most friendly and confidential manner.

“Mr. Ambassador,” he said, “we are both Jews and I want to speak to you
as one Jew to another. I hope you will not be offended if I presume upon
this to give you a little advice. You are very active in the interest of
the Armenians and I do not think you realize how very unpopular you are
becoming, for this reason, with the authorities here. In fact, I think
that I ought to tell you that the Turkish Government is contemplating
asking for your recall. Your protests for the Armenians will be useless.
The Germans will not interfere for them and you are just spoiling your
opportunity for usefulness and running the risk that your career will
end ignominiously.”

“Are you giving me this advice,” I asked, “because you have a real
interest in my personal welfare?”

“Certainly,” he answered; “all of us Jews are proud of what you have
done and we would hate to see your career end disastrously.”

“Then you go back to the German Embassy,” I said, “and tell Wangenheim
what I say--to go ahead and have me recalled. If I am to suffer
martyrdom, I can think of no better cause in which to be sacrificed. In
fact, I would welcome it, for I can think of no greater honour than to
be recalled because I, a Jew, have been exerting all my powers to save
the lives of hundreds of thousands of Christians.”

Dr. Nossig hurriedly left my office and I have never seen him since.
When next I met Enver I told him that there were rumours that the
Ottoman Government was about to ask for my recall. He was very emphatic
in denouncing the whole story as a falsehood. “We would not be guilty of
making such a ridiculous mistake,” he said. So there was not the
slightest doubt that this attempt to intimidate me had been hatched at
the German Embassy.

Wangenheim returned to Constantinople in early October. I was shocked at
the changes that had taken place in the man. As I wrote in my diary, “he
looked the perfect picture of Wotan.” His face was almost constantly
twitching; he wore a black cover over his right eye, and he seemed
unusually nervous and depressed. He told me that he had obtained little
rest; that he had been obliged to spend most of his time in Berlin
attending to business. A few days after his return I met him on my way
to Haskeuy; he said that he was going to the American Embassy and
together we walked back to it. I had been recently told by Talaat that
he intended to deport all the Armenians who were left in Turkey and this
statement had induced me to make a final plea to the one man in
Constantinople who had the power to end the horrors. I took Wangenheim
up to the second floor of the Embassy, where we could be entirely alone
and uninterrupted, and there, for more than an hour, sitting together
over the tea table, we had our last conversation on this subject.

“Berlin telegraphs me,” he said, “that your Secretary of State tells
them that you say that more Armenians than ever have been massacred
since Bulgaria has come in on our side.”

“No, I did not cable that,” I replied. “I admit that I have sent a large
amount of information to Washington. I have sent copies of every report
and every statement to the State Department. They are safely lodged
there, and whatever happens to me, the evidence is complete, and the
American people are not dependent on my oral report for their
information. But this particular statement you make is not quite
accurate. I merely informed Mr. Lansing that any influence Bulgaria
might exert to stop the massacres has been lost, now that she has become
Turkey’s ally.”

We again discussed the deportations.

“Germany is not responsible for this,” Wangenheim said.

“You can assert that to the end of time,” I replied “but nobody will
believe it. The world will always hold Germany responsible; the guilt of
these crimes will be your inheritance forever. I know that you have
filed a paper protest. But what does that amount to? You know better
than I do that such a protest will have no effect. I do not claim that
Germany is responsible for these massacres in the sense that she
instigated them. But she is responsible in the sense that she had the
power to stop them and did not use it. And it is not only America and
your present enemies that will hold you responsible. The German people
will some day call your government to account. You are a Christian
people and the time will come when Germans will realize that you have
let a Mohammedan people destroy another Christian nation. How foolish is
your protest that I am sending information to my State Department. Do
you suppose that you can keep secret such hellish atrocities as these?
Don’t get such a silly, ostrich-like thought as that--don’t think that
by ignoring them yourselves, you can get the rest of the world to do so.
Crimes like these cry to heaven. Do you think I could know about things
like this and not report them to my government? And don’t forget that
German missionaries, as well as American, are sending me information
about the Armenians.”

“All that you say may be true,” replied the German Ambassador, “_but the
big problem that confronts us is to win this war_. Turkey has settled
with her foreign enemies; she has done that at the Dardanelles and at
Gallipoli. She is now trying to settle her internal affairs. They still
greatly fear that the Capitulations will again be forced upon them.
Before they are again put under this restraint, they intend to have
their internal problems in such shape that there will be little chance
of any interference from foreign nations. Talaat has told me that he is
determined to complete this task before peace is declared. In the future
they don’t intend that the Russians shall be in a position to say that
they have a right to intervene about Armenian matters because there are
a large number of Armenians in Russia who are affected by the troubles
of their co-religionists in Turkey. Giers used to be doing this all the
time and the Turks do not intend that any ambassador from Russia or from
any other country shall have such an opportunity in the future. The
Armenians anyway are a very poor lot. You come in contact in
Constantinople with Armenians of the educated classes, and you get your
impressions about them from these men, but all the Armenians are not of
that type. Yet I admit that they have been treated terribly. I sent a
man to make investigations and he reported that the worst outrages have
not been committed by Turkish officials but by brigands.”

Wangenheim again suggested that the Armenians be taken to the United
States, and once more I gave him the reasons why this would be
impracticable.

“Never mind all these considerations,” I said. “Let us disregard
everything--military necessity, state policy, and all else--and let us
look upon this simply as a human problem. Remember that most of the
people who are being treated in this way are old men, old women, and
helpless children. Why can’t you, as a human being, see that these
people are permitted to live?”

“At the present stage of internal affairs in Turkey,” Wangenheim
replied, “I shall not intervene.”

I saw that it was useless to discuss the matter further. He was a man
who was devoid of sympathy and human pity, and I turned from him in
disgust. Wangenheim rose to leave. As he did so he gave a gasp, and his
legs suddenly shot from under him. I jumped and caught the man just as
he was falling. For a minute he seemed utterly dazed; he looked at me in
a bewildered way, then suddenly collected himself and regained his
poise. I took the Ambassador by the arm, piloted him down stairs, and
put him into his auto. By this time he had apparently recovered from his
dizzy spell and he reached home safely. Two days afterward, while
sitting at his dinner table, he had a stroke of apoplexy; he was carried
upstairs to his bed, but he never regained consciousness. On October
24th, I was officially informed that Wangenheim was dead. And thus my
last recollection of Wangenheim is that of the Ambassador as he sat in
my office in the American Embassy, absolutely refusing to exert any
influence to prevent the massacre of a nation. He was the one man, and
his government was the one government, that could have stopped these
crimes, but, as Wangenheim told me many times, “_our one aim is to win
this war_.”

A few days afterward official Turkey and the diplomatic force paid their
last tribute to this perfect embodiment of the Prussian system. The
funeral was held in the garden of the German Embassy at Pera. The
inclosure was filled with flowers. Practically the whole gathering,
excepting the family and the ambassadors and the Sultan’s
representatives, remained standing during the simple but impressive
ceremonies. Then the procession formed; German sailors carried the bier
upon their shoulders, other German sailors carried the huge bunches of
flowers, and all members of the diplomatic corps and the officials of
the Turkish Government followed on foot.

The Grand Vizier led the procession; I walked the whole way with Enver.
All the officers of the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_, and all the German
generals, dressed in full uniform, followed. It seemed as though the
whole of Constantinople lined the streets, and the atmosphere had some
of the quality of a holiday. We walked to the grounds of Dolma Bagtche,
the Sultan’s Palace, passing through the gate which the ambassadors
enter when presenting their credentials. At the dock a steam launch lay
awaiting our arrival, and in this stood Neurath, the German Conseiller,
ready to receive the body of his dead chieftain. The coffin, entirely
covered with flowers, was placed in the boat. As the launch sailed out
into the stream Neurath, a six-foot Prussian, dressed in his military
uniform, his helmet a waving mass of white plumes, stood erect and
silent. Wangenheim was buried in the park of the summer embassy at
Therapia, by the side of his comrade Colonel Leipzig. No final
resting-place would have been more appropriate, for this had been the
scene of his diplomatic successes, and it was from this place that, a
little more than two years before, he had directed by wireless the
_Goeben_ and the _Breslau_, and safely brought them into Constantinople,
thus making it inevitable that Turkey should join forces with Germany,
and paving the way for all the triumphs and all the horrors that have
necessarily followed that event.



CHAPTER XXVIII

ENVER AGAIN MOVES FOR PEACE--FAREWELL TO THE SULTAN AND TO TURKEY


My failure to stop the destruction of the Armenians had made Turkey for
me a place of horror, and I found intolerable my further daily
association with men who, however gracious and accommodating and
good-natured they might have been to the American Ambassador, were still
reeking with the blood of nearly a million human beings. Could I have
done anything more, either for Americans, enemy aliens, or the
persecuted peoples of the empire, I would willingly have stayed. The
position of Americans and Europeans, however, had now become secure and,
so far as the subject peoples were concerned, I had reached the end of
my resources. Moreover, an event was approaching in the United States
which, I believed, would inevitably have the greatest influence upon the
future of the world and of democracy--the presidential campaign. I felt
that there was nothing so important in international politics as the
reëlection of President Wilson. I could imagine no greater calamity, for
the United States and the world, than that the American nation should
fail to indorse heartily this great statesman. If I could substantially
assist in Mr. Wilson’s reëlection, I concluded that I could better serve
my country at home at this juncture.

I had another practical reason for returning home, and that was to give
the President and the State Department, by word of mouth, such
first-hand information as I possessed on the European situation. It was
especially important to give them the latest side lights on the subject
of peace. In the latter part of 1915 and the early part of 1916 this was
the uppermost topic in Constantinople. Enver Pasha was constantly asking
me to intercede with the President to end the war. Several times he
intimated that Turkey was war-weary and that its salvation depended on
getting an early peace. I have already described the conditions that
prevailed a few months after the outbreak of the war, but, by the end of
1915, they were infinitely worse. When Turkey decided on the deportation
and massacre of her subject peoples, especially the Armenians and
Greeks, she had signed her own economic death warrant. These were the
people, as I have already said, who controlled her industries and her
finances and developed her agriculture, and the material consequences of
this great national crime now began to be everywhere apparent. The farms
were lying uncultivated and daily thousands of peasants were dying of
starvation. As the Armenians and Greeks were the largest taxpayers,
their annihilation greatly reduced the state revenues, and the fact that
practically all Turkish ports were blockaded had shut off customs
collections. The mere statement that Turkey was barely taking in money
enough to pay the interest on her debt, to say nothing of ordinary
expenses and war expenses, gives a fair idea of her advanced degree of
exhaustion. In these facts Turkey had abundant reasons for desiring a
speedy peace. Besides this, Enver and the ruling party feared a
revolution, unless the war quickly came to an end. As I wrote the State
Department about this time, “These men are willing to do almost anything
to retain their power.”

Still I did not take Enver’s importunities for peace any too seriously.

“Are you speaking for yourself and your party in this matter,” I asked
him, “or do you really speak for Germany also? I cannot submit a
proposition from you unless the Germans are back of you. Have you
consulted them about this?”

“No,” Enver replied, “but I know how they feel.”

“That is not sufficient,” I answered. “You had better communicate with
them directly through the German Embassy. I would not be willing to
submit a proposition that was not indorsed by all the Teutonic Allies.”

Enver thought that it would be almost useless to discuss the matter with
the German Ambassador. He said, however, that he was just leaving for
Orsova, a town on the Hungarian and Rumanian frontier, where he was to
have a conference with Falkenhayn, at that time the German
Chief-of-Staff. Falkenhayn, said Enver, was the important man; he would
take up the question of peace with him.

“Why do you think that it is a good time to discuss peace now?” I asked.

“Because in two weeks we shall have completely annihilated Serbia. We
think that should put the Allies in a frame of mind to discuss peace. My
visit to Falkenhayn is to complete arrangements for the invasion of
Egypt. In a very few days we expect Greece to join us. We are already
preparing tons of provisions and fodder to send to Greece. And when we
get Greece, of course, Rumania will come in. When the Greeks and
Rumanians join us, we shall have a million fresh troops. We shall get
all the guns and ammunition we need from Germany as soon as the direct
railroad is opened. All these things make it an excellent time for us to
take up the matter of peace.”

I asked the Minister of War to talk the matter over with Falkenhayn at
his proposed interview, and report to me when he returned. In some way
this conversation came to the ears of the new German Ambassador, Graf
Wolf-Metternich, who immediately called to discuss the subject. He
apparently wished to impress upon me two things: that Germany would
never surrender Alsace-Lorraine, and that she would insist on the return
of all her colonies. I replied that it was apparently useless to discuss
peace until England first had won some great military victory.

“That may be so,” replied the Graf, “but you can hardly expect that
Germany shall let England win such a victory merely to put her in a
frame of mind to consider peace. But I think that you are wrong. It is a
mistake to say that Great Britain has not already won great victories. I
think that she has several very substantial ones to her credit. Just
consider what she has done. She has established her unquestioned
supremacy of the seas and driven off all German commerce. She has not
only not lost a foot of her own territory, but she has gained enormous
new domains. She has annexed Cyprus and Egypt and has conquered all the
German colonies. She is in possession of a considerable part of
Mesopotamia. How absurd to say that England has gained nothing by the
war!”

On December 1st, Enver came to the American Embassy and reported the
results of his interview with Falkenhayn. The German Chief-of-Staff had
said that Germany would very much like to discuss peace but that Germany
could not state her terms in advance, as such an action would be
generally interpreted as a sign of weakness. But one thing could be
depended on; the Allies could obtain far more favourable terms at that
moment than at any future time. Enver told me that the Germans would be
willing to surrender all the territory they had taken from the French
and practically all of Belgium. But the one thing on which they had
definitely settled was the permanent dismemberment of Serbia. Not an
acre of Macedonia would be returned to Serbia and even parts of old
Serbia would be retained; that is, Serbia would become a much smaller
country than she had been before the Balkan wars, and, in fact, she
would practically disappear as an independent state. The meaning of all
this was apparent, even then. Germany had won the object for which she
had really gone to war; a complete route from Berlin to Constantinople
and the East; part, and a good part, of the Pan-German “Mittel Europa”
had thus become an accomplished military fact. Apparently Germany was
willing to give up the overrun provinces of northern France and Belgium,
provided that the Entente would consent to her retention of these
conquests. The proposal which Falkenhayn made then did not materially
differ from that which Germany had put forward in the latter part of
1914. This Enver-Falkenhayn interview, as reported to me, shows that it
was no suddenly conceived German plan, but that it has been Germany’s
scheme from the first.

In all this I saw no particular promise of an early peace. Yet I thought
that I should lay these facts before the President. I therefore applied
to Washington for a leave of absence, which was granted.

I had my farewell interview with Enver and Talaat on the thirteenth of
January. Both men were in their most delightful mood. Evidently both
were turning over in their minds, as was I, all the momentous events
that had taken place in Turkey, and in the world, since my first meeting
with them two years before. Then Talaat and Enver were merely desperate
adventurers who had reached high position by assassination and intrigue;
their position was insecure, for at any moment another revolution might
plunge them into the obscurity from which they had sprung. But now they
were the unquestioned despots of the Ottoman Empire, the allies of the
then strongest military power in the world, the conquerors--absurdly
enough they so regarded themselves--of the British navy. At this moment
of their great triumph--the Allied expedition to the Dardanelles had
evacuated its positions only two weeks before--both Talaat and Enver
regarded their country again as a world power.

“I hear you are going home to spend a lot of money and reëlect your
President,” said Talaat--this being a jocular reference to the fact that
I was the Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Democratic National
Committee. “That’s very foolish; why don’t you stay here and give it to
Turkey? We need it more than your people do.”

“But we hope you are coming back soon,” he added, in the polite (and
insincere) manner of the oriental. “You and we have really grown up
together; you came here about the same time that we took office and we
don’t know how we could ever get so well acquainted with another man. We
have grown fond of you, too. We have had our differences, and pretty
lively ones at times, but we have always found you fair, and we respect
American policy in Turkey as you have represented it. We don’t like to
see you go, even for a few months.”

I expressed my pleasure at these words.

“It’s very nice to hear you talk that way,” I answered. “Since you
flatter me so much, I know that you will be willing to promise me
certain things. Since I have you both here together this is my chance to
put you on record. Will you treat the people in my charge considerately,
just the same as though I were here?”

“As to the American missionaries and colleges and schools,” said
Talaat--and Enver assented--”we give you an absolute promise. They will
not be molested in the slightest degree, but can go on doing their work
just the same as before. Your mind can rest easy on that score.”

“How about the British and French?” I asked.

“Oh, well,” said Talaat, smiling, “we may have to have a little fun with
them now and then, but don’t worry. We’ll take good care of them.”

And now for the last time I spoke on the subject that had rested so
heavily on my mind for many months. I feared that another appeal would
be useless, but I decided to make it.

“How about the Armenians?”

Talaat’s geniality disappeared in an instant. His face hardened and the
fire of the beast lighted up his eyes once more.

“What’s the use of speaking about them?” he said, waving his hand. “We
are through with them. That’s all over.”

Such was my farewell with Talaat. “That’s all over” were his last words
to me.

The next day I had my farewell audience with the Sultan. He was the same
gracious, kindly old gentleman whom I had first met two years before. He
received me informally, in civilian European clothes, and asked me to
sit down with him. We talked for twenty minutes, and discussed among
other things the pleasant relations that prevailed between America and
Turkey. He thanked me for the interest which I had taken in his country
and hoped that I would soon return. Then he took up the question of war
and peace.

“Every monarch naturally desires peace,” he said. “None of us approves
the shedding of blood. But there are times when war seems unavoidable.
We may wish to settle our disputes amicably, but we cannot always do it.
This seems to be one of them. I told the British Ambassador that we did
not wish to go to war with his country. I tell you the same thing now.
But Turkey had to defend her rights. Russia attacked us; and naturally
we had to defend ourselves. Thus the war was not the result of any
planning on our part; it was an act of Allah--it was fate.”

I expressed the hope that it might soon be over.

“Yes, we wish peace also,” replied His Majesty. “But it must be a peace
that will guarantee the rights of our empire. I am sure that a civilized
and flourishing country like America wants peace, and she should exert
all her efforts to bring about a peace that shall be permanent.”

One of the Sultan’s statements at this interview left a lasting
impression. This was his assertion that “Russia attacked us.” That the
simple-minded old gentleman believed this was apparent; it was also
clear that he knew nothing of the real facts--that Turkish warships,
under German officers, had plunged Turkey into the war by bombarding
Russian seaports. Instead of telling him the truth, the Young Turk
leaders had foisted upon the Sultan this fiction of Russia as the
aggressor. The interview showed precisely to what extent the ostensible
ruler of Turkey was acquainted with the crucial facts in the government
of his own empire.

In our interview Talaat and Enver had not said their final farewells,
telling me that they would meet me at the station. A few minutes before
the train started Bedri came up, rather pale-faced and excited, and
brought me their apologies.

“They cannot come,” he said, “the Crown Prince has just committed
suicide.”

I knew the Crown Prince well and I had expected to have him as a fellow
passenger to Berlin; he had been about to make a trip to Germany, and
his special car was attached to this train. I had seen much of Youssouf
Izzeddin; he had several times invited me to call upon him, and we had
spent many hours talking over the United States and American
institutions, in which subject he had always displayed the keenest
interest. Many times had he told me that he would like to introduce
certain American governmental ideas in Turkey. This morning, when we
were leaving for Berlin, the Crown Prince was found lying on the floor
in his villa, bathed in a pool of blood, with his arteries cut. Youssouf
was the son of Abdul-Aziz, Sultan from 1861 to 1876, who, gruesomely
enough, had ended his days by opening his arteries forty years before.
The circumstances surrounding the death of father and son were thus
precisely the same. The fact that Youssouf was strongly pro-Ally, that
he had opposed Turkey’s participation in the war on Germany’s side, and
that he was extremely antagonistic to the Committee of Union and
Progress gave rise to many suspicions. I know nothing about the stories
that now went from mouth to mouth, and merely record that the official
report on the death was that it was a case of “suicide.”

“_On l’a suicidé!_” (they have suicided him!), remarked a witty
Frenchman, when this verdict was reported.

This tragic announcement naturally cast a gloom over our party, as our
train pulled out of Constantinople, but the journey proved to be full of
interest. I was now on the famous Balkanzug, and this was only the
second trip which it had made to Berlin. My room was No. 13; several
people came to look at it, telling me that, on the outward trip, the
train had been shot at, and a window of my compartment broken.

Soon after we started I discovered that Admiral Usedom was one of my
fellow passengers. Usedom had had a distinguished career in the navy;
among other things he had been captain of the _Hohenzollern_, the
Kaiser’s yacht, and thus was upon friendly terms with His Majesty. The
last time I had seen Usedom was on my visit to the Dardanelles, where he
had been Inspector General of the Ottoman defenses. As soon as we met
again, the admiral began to talk about the abortive Allied attack. He
again made no secret of the fears which he had then entertained that
this attack would succeed.

“Several times,” he said, “we thought that they were on the verge of
getting through. All of us down there were very much distressed and
depressed over the prospect. We owed much to the heroism of the Turks
and their willingness to sacrifice an unlimited number of human lives.
It is all over now--that part of our task is finished.”

The Admiral thought that the British landing party had been badly
prepared, though he spoke admiringly of the skill with which the Allies
had managed their retreat. I also obtained further light on the German
attitude toward the Armenian massacres. Usedom made no attempt to
justify them; neither did he blame the Turks. He discussed the whole
thing calmly, dispassionately, merely as a military problem, and one
would never have guessed from his remarks that the lives of a million
human beings had been involved. He simply said that the Armenians were
in the way, that they were an obstacle to German success, and that it
had therefore been necessary to remove them, just like so much useless
lumber. He spoke about them as detachedly as one would speak about
removing a row of houses in order to bombard a city.

Poor Serbia! As our train sped through her devastated districts I had a
picture of what the war had meant to this brave little country. In the
last two years this nation had stood alone, practically unassisted by
her allies, attempting to stem the rush of Pan-German conquest, just as,
for several centuries, she had stood as a bulwark against the onslaughts
of the Turks. And she had paid the penalty. Many farms we passed were
abandoned, overgrown with weeds and neglected, and the buildings were
frequently roofless and sometimes razed to the ground. Whenever we
crossed a stream we saw the remains of a dynamited bridge; in all cases
the Germans had built new ones to replace those which had been
destroyed. We saw many women and children, looking ragged and half
starved, but significantly we saw very few men, for all had either been
killed or they were in the ranks of Serbia’s still existing and valiant
little army. All this time trains full of German soldiers were passing
us or standing on the switches at the stations where we slowed up, a
sufficient explanation for all the misery and devastation we saw on our
way.



CHAPTER XXIX

VON JAGOW, ZIMMERMANN, AND GERMAN-AMERICANS


Our train drew into the Berlin station on the evening of February 2,
1916. The date is worth mentioning, for that marked an important crisis
in German-American relations. Almost the first man I met was my old
friend and colleague, Ambassador James W. Gerard. Mr. Gerard told me
that he was packing up and expected to leave Berlin at any moment, for
he believed that a break between Germany and the United States was a
matter only of days, perhaps of hours. At that time Germany and the
United States were discussing the settlement of the _Lusitania_ outrage.
The negotiations had reached a point where the Imperial Government had
expressed a willingness to express her regrets, pay an indemnity, and
promise not to do it again. But the President and Mr. Lansing insisted
that Germany should declare that the sinking of the _Lusitania_ had been
an illegal act. This meant that Germany at no time in the future could
resume submarine warfare without stultifying herself and doing something
which her own government had denounced as contrary to international law.
But our government would accept nothing less and the two nations were,
therefore, at loggerheads.

“I can do nothing more,” said Mr. Gerard. “I want to have you talk with
Zimmermann and Von Jagow, and perhaps you can give them a new point of
view.”

I soon discovered, from my many callers, that the atmosphere in Berlin
was tense and exceedingly anti-American. Our country was regarded
everywhere as practically an ally of the Entente, and I found that the
most absurd ideas prevailed concerning the closeness of our relations
with England. Thus it was generally believed that Sir Cecil Spring-Rice,
the British Ambassador in Washington, met regularly with President
Wilson’s Cabinet and was consulted on all our national policies.

At three o’clock Mr. Gerard took me to Von Jagow’s house and we spent
more than an hour there with the Foreign Minister. Von Jagow was a
small, slight man of nervous disposition. He lighted cigarette after
cigarette during our interview. He was apparently greatly worried over
the American situation. Let us not suppose that the German Government
regarded lightly a break with the United States. At that time their
newspapers were ridiculing and insulting us, and making fun of the idea
that Uncle Sam would go to war. The contrast between these journalistic
vapourings and the anxiety, even the fear, which this high German
official displayed, much impressed me. The prospect of having our men
and our resources thrown on the side of the Entente he did not regard
indifferently, whatever the Berlin press might say.

“It seems to us a shame that Mr. Lansing should insist that we declare
the _Lusitania_ sinking illegal,” Von Jagow began. “He is acting like a
technical lawyer.”

“If you want the real truth,” I replied, “I do not think that the United
States is particular or technical about the precise terms that you use.
But you must give definite assurances that you are sorry for the act,
say that you regard it as an improper one, and that it will not occur
again. Unless you do this, the United States will not be satisfied.”

“We cannot do that,” he answered. “Public opinion in Germany would not
permit it. If we should make a declaration such as you outline, the
present Cabinet would fall.”

“But I thought that you had public opinion here well under control?” I
answered. “It may take a little time but certainly you can change public
sentiment so that it would approve such a settlement.”

“As far as the newspapers are concerned,” said Von Jagow, “that is true.
We can absolutely control them. However, that will take some time. The
newspapers cannot reverse themselves immediately; they will have to do
it gradually, taking two or three weeks. We can manage them. But there
are members of Parliament whom we can’t control and they would make so
much trouble that we would all have to resign.”

“Yet it seems to me,” I rejoined, “that you could get these members
together, explain to them the necessity of keeping the United States out
of the war, and that they would be convinced. The trouble is that you
Germans don’t understand conditions in my country. You don’t think that
the United States will fight. You don’t understand President Wilson; you
think that he is an idealist and a peace man, and that, under no
circumstances, will he take up arms. You are making the greatest and
most costly mistake that any nation could make. The President has two
sides to his nature. Do not forget that he has Scotch-Irish blood in
him. Up to the present you have seen only the Scotch side of him. That
makes him very cautious, makes him weigh every move, makes him patient
and long-suffering. But he has also all the fire and combativeness of
the Irish. Let him once set his jaws and it takes a crowbar to open them
again. If he once decides to fight, he will fight with all his soul and
to the bitter end. You can go just so far with your provocations but no
farther. You are also greatly deceived because certain important members
of Congress, perhaps even a member of the Cabinet, have been for peace.
But there is one man who is going to settle this matter--that is the
President. He will settle it as he thinks right and just, irrespective
of what other people may say or do.”

Von Jagow said that I had given him a new impression of the President.
But he still had one more reason to believe that the United States would
not go to war.

“How about the German-Americans?” he asked.

“I can tell you all about them,” I answered, “because I am one of them
myself. I was born in Germany and spent the first nine years of my life
here. I have always loved many things German, such as its music and its
literature. But my parents left this country because they were
dissatisfied and unhappy here. The United States gave us a friendly
reception and a home, and made us prosperous and happy. There are many
millions just like us; there is no business opportunity and no social
position that is not open to us. I do not believe that there is a more
contented people in the world than the German-Americans.” I could not
reveal to him my own state of mind, as I was still ambassador, but I
could and did say:

“Take my own children. Their sympathies all through this war have been
with England and her allies. My son is here with me; he tells me that,
if the United States goes to war, he will enlist immediately. Do you
suppose, in case we should go to war with Germany, that they would side
with you? The idea is simply preposterous. And the overwhelming mass of
German-Americans feel precisely the same way.”

“But I am told,” said Von Jagow, “that there will be an insurrection of
German-Americans if your country makes war on us.”

“Dismiss any such idea from your mind,” I replied. “The first one who
attempts it will be punished so promptly and so drastically that such a
movement will not go far. And I think that the loyal German-Americans
themselves will be the first to administer such punishment.”

“We wish to avoid a rupture with the United States,” said Von Jagow.
“But we must have time to change public sentiment here. There are two
parties here, holding diametrically opposed views on submarine warfare.
One believes in pushing it to the limit, irrespective of consequences to
the United States or any other power. The present Cabinet takes the
contrary view; we wish to meet the contentions of your President. But
the militaristic faction is pushing us hard. They will force us out of
office if we declare the _Lusitania_ sinking illegal or improper. I
think that President Wilson should understand this. We are working with
him, but we must go cautiously. I should suppose that Mr. Wilson, since
he wishes to avoid a break, would prefer to have us in power. Why should
he take a stand that will drive us out of office and put in here men
who will make war inevitable between Germany and the United States?”

“Do you wish Washington to understand,” I asked, “that your tenure of
office depends on your not making this declaration?”

“We certainly do,” replied Von Jagow. “I wish that you would telegraph
Washington to that effect. Tell the President that, if we are displaced
now, we shall be succeeded by men who advocate unlimited submarine
warfare.”

He expressed himself as amazed at my description of President Wilson and
his willingness to fight. “We regard him,” said Von Jagow, “as
absolutely a man of peace. Nor do we believe that the American people
will fight. They are far from the scene of action, and, what, after all,
have they to fight for? Your material interests are not affected.”

“But there is one thing that we will fight for,” I replied, “and that is
moral principle. It is quite apparent that you do not understand the
American spirit. You do not realize that we are holding off, not because
we have no desire to fight, but because we wish to be absolutely fair.
We first wish to have all the evidence in. I admit that we are reluctant
to mix in foreign disputes, but we shall insist upon our right to use
the ocean as we see fit and we don’t propose to have Germany constantly
interfering with that right and murdering our citizens. The American is
still perhaps a great powerful youth, but once he gets his mind made up
that he is going to defend his rights, he will do so irrespective of
consequences. You seem to think that Americans will not fight for a
principle; you apparently have forgotten that all our wars have been
over matters of principle. Take the greatest of them all--the Civil War,
from 1861 to ’65. We in the North fought to emancipate the slaves; that
was purely a matter of principle; our material interests were not
involved. And we fought that to the end, although we had to fight our
own brothers.”

“We don’t want to be on bad terms with the United States,” Von Jagow
replied. “There are three nations on whom the peace of the world
depends--England, the United States, and Germany. We three should get
together, establish peace, and maintain it. I thank you for your
explanation; I understand the situation much better now. But I still
don’t see why your Government is so hard on Germany and so easy with
England.”

I made the usual explanation that we regarded our problem with each
nation as a distinct matter and could not make our treatment of Germany
in any way conditional on our treatment of England.

“Oh, yes,” replied Von Jagow, rather plaintively. “It reminds me of two
boys playing in a yard. One is to be punished first and the other is
waiting for his turn. Wilson is going to spank the German boy first,
and, after he gets through, then he proposes to take up England.”

“However,” he concluded, “I wish you would cable the President that you
have gone over the matter with me and now understand the German point of
view. Won’t you please ask him to do nothing until you have reached the
other side and explained the whole thing personally?”

I made this promise, and Mr. Gerard and I cabled immediately.

At four-thirty o’clock I had an engagement to take tea with Dr.
Alexander and his wife at their home. I had been there about fifteen
minutes when Zimmermann was announced! He was a different kind of man
from Von Jagow. He impressed me as much stronger, mentally and
physically. He was tall, even stately in his bearing, masterful in his
manner, direct and searching in his questions, but extremely pleasing
and insinuating.

Zimmermann, discussing the German-American situation, began with a
statement which I presume he thought would be gratifying to me. He told
me how splendidly the Jews had behaved in Germany during the war and how
deeply under obligations the Germans felt to them.

“After the war,” he said, “they are going to be much better treated in
Germany than they have been.”

Zimmermann told me that Von Jagow had told him about our talk and asked
me to repeat part of it. He was particularly interested, he said, in my
statements about the German-Americans, and he wished to learn from me
himself the facts upon which I based my conclusions. Like most Germans,
he regarded the Germanic elements in our population as almost a part of
Germany.

“Are you sure that the mass of German-Americans would be loyal to the
United States in case of war?” he asked. “Aren’t their feelings for the
Fatherland really dominant?”

“You evidently regard those German-Americans as a distinct part of the
population,” I replied, “living apart from the rest of the people and
having very little to do with American life as a whole. You could not
make a greater mistake. You can purchase a few here and there, who will
make a big noise and shout for Germany, but I am talking about the
millions of Americans of German ancestry. These people regard themselves
as Americans and nothing else. The second generation particularly resent
being looked upon as Germans. It is practically impossible to make them
talk German; they refuse to speak anything but English. They do not read
German newspapers and will not go to German schools. They even resent
going to Lutheran churches where the language is German. We have more
than a million German-Americans in New York City, but it has been a
great struggle to keep alive one German theatre; the reason is that
these people prefer the theatres where English is the language. We have
a few German clubs, but their membership is very small. The
German-Americans prefer to belong to the clubs of general membership and
there is not a single one in New York, even the finest, where they are
not received upon their merits. In the political and social life of New
York there are few German-Americans who, as such, have acquired any
prominent position, though there are plenty of men of distinguished
position who are German in origin. If the United States and Germany go
to war, you will not only be surprised at the loyalty of our German
people, but the whole world will be. Another point; if the United States
goes in, we shall fight to the end, and it will be a very long and a
very determined struggle.”

After three years I have no reason to be ashamed of either of these
prophecies. I sometimes wonder what Zimmermann now thinks of my
statements.

After the explanation Zimmermann began to talk about Turkey. He seemed
interested to find out whether the Turks were likely to make a separate
peace. I bluntly told him that the Turks felt themselves to be under no
obligations to the Germans. This gave me another opportunity.

“I have learned a good deal about German methods in Turkey,” I said. “I
think it would be a great mistake to attempt similar tactics in the
United States. I speak of this because there has been a good deal of
sabotage there already. This in itself is solidifying the
German-Americans against you and is more than anything else driving the
United States into the arms of England.”

“But the German Government is not responsible,” said Zimmermann. “We
know nothing about it.”

Of course I could not accept that statement on its face value--recent
developments have shown how mendacious it was--but we passed to other
topics. The matter of the submarine came up again.

“We have voluntarily interned our navy,” said Zimmermann. “We can do
nothing at sea except with our submarines. It seems to me that the
United States is making a serious mistake in so strongly opposing the
submarine. You have a long coast line and you may need the U-boat
yourself some day. Suppose one of the European Powers, or particularly
Japan, should attack you. You could use the submarine to good purpose
then. Besides, if you insist on this proposed declaration in the
_Lusitania_ matter, you will simply force our government into the hands
of the Tirpitz party.”

Zimmermann now returned again to the situation in Turkey. His questions
showed that he was much displeased with the new German Ambassador, Graf
Wolf-Metternich. Metternich, it seemed, had failed in his attempt to
win the good will of the ruling powers in Turkey and had been a trial to
the German Foreign Office. Metternich had shown a different attitude
toward the Armenians from Wangenheim, and he had made sincere attempts
with Talaat and Enver to stop the massacres. Zimmermann now told me that
Metternich had made a great mistake in doing this and had destroyed his
influence at Constantinople. Zimmermann made no effort to conceal his
displeasure over Metternich’s manifestation of a humanitarian spirit. I
now saw that Wangenheim had really represented the attitude of official
Berlin, and I thus had confirmation, from the highest German authority,
of my conviction that Germany had acquiesced in those deportations.

       *       *       *       *       *

In a few days we had taken the steamer at Copenhagen, and, on February
22, 1916, I found myself once more sailing into New York harbour--and
home.


                                THE END

[Illustration]

                        THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS
                          GARDEN CITY, N. Y.





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