1/9/1915 Turkey’s Armenian deportations create railway construction problems

Turkey’s extermination of its Armenian minority continues. As well as outright massacres, Armenians are being deported from their places of residence and sent on death marches to uninhabitable concentration camps in the desert. The policy is intended to create an ethnically pure Turkish Anatolia that can more easily be defended against the Ottoman Empire’s enemies.

In some ways the killings and deportations are weakening Turkey’s war effort. German engineers are overseeing the construction of a railway line to link Constantinople with Baghdad, which would greatly improve the ramshackle communications of the vast empire. Many of the labourers working to build the railway are Armenian or members of the Greek minority, especially those performing skilled tasks. But now the Germans notice that the Armenians and Greeks are visibly in terror of their lives, bearing the signs of having been roughed up by assailants they are afraid to name. This worries the Germans, for if they lose their skilled workers construction of the railway will grind to a halt.

In the Cilician town of Adana, the German consul confronts the local authorities, demanding that the Armenians be left alone. The consul is able to cite communications received from Talaat, Turkey’s interior minister, ordering that the deportation and persecution of the Armenians is to halt. But the Adana governor brushes off the German complaints, replying ominously that he will deal with the Armenians as he sees fit.

image source:

Constantinople-Baghdad railway (Global Security)

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