6/10/1915 Turkey’s ongoing extermination of the Armenians

Across Anatolia the Turkish authorities are continuing their harsh campaign against the Armenian minority. Some Armenians are being summarily killed, while the rest are being rounded up and sent on death marches to remote areas where they can be expected to die of thirst, starvation or exposure. Some Armenians are in revolt against the Turkish government, mostly in response to the massacres and deportations, but the majority of the victims of this genocidal campaign are non-combatants: men, women and children. The campaign is directed from Constantinople by Mehmed Talaat, the Minister for the Interior, with local authorities and the sinister Special Organisation playing their part in organising the deportations and killings.

From the point of view of the Turkish authorities, the campaign is going well. Regional governors in many areas report that there are no Armenians left in their localities. But in some areas the deportation of the Armenians is beginning to create problems for the Turks. German engineers are working to build a railway line from Constantinople to Baghdad. Many of the locally recruited skilled workers on this project are Armenian. Now that they are being deported to the Syrian desert or are fleeing to avoid this fate the railway construction work slows to crawl.

In Adana, meanwhile, the Turkish governor has expelled the Armenian inhabitants of the town. Unfortunately for the Turks, the Armenians were such a key part of the town’s life that with them gone the civic infrastructure collapses. Adana becomes a ghost town; without the Armenians it no longer functions as liveable space.

The campaign against the Armenians is not universally supported. German and Austro-Hungarian diplomats across the Ottoman Empire report that many Turks oppose the deportations and massacres, for religious and humanitarian reasons. Some do what they can to save the lives of Armenians. But in other areas, incited by the Special Organisation, Turkish and Kurdish residents attack and kill Armenian deportees as they are being marched by.

image sources:

map (The Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute)

Armenian deportees near Harpoot (Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies)

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