3/11/1915 Falkenhayn seeks protection for Armenian railway workers

Turkey’s armies are battling the Allies in Gallipoli, Mesopotamia and the Caucasus. Within the Ottoman Empire the extermination of the Armenians continues. Members of this troubling minority are either being immediately killed or deported to concentration camps in inhospitable regions where thirst and hunger will do the Turks’ job for them.

This murderous campaign is causing some misgivings on the part of Turkey’s German and Austro-Hungarian allies. Some of this is purely humanitarian, with the indiscriminate killing of the Armenians seen by many as an affront to civilised values. The killing of Catholic and, especially, Protestant Armenians particularly concerns the Germans. German diplomats requested better treatment for these Armenians but have been fobbed off by the Turkish authorities.

The Germans also have more practical considerations. Many of the skilled workers building the railroad between Constantinople and Baghdad are Armenians. With these people in danger of deportation or murder (if they have not already suffered these fates), work on the railroad is in danger of grinding to a halt. This would be a disaster for the Germans, as the railway is a vital element in their plans to project power into the Middle East.

Now Falkenhayn, the German army’s chief of staff, takes the unusual step of directly telegramming Enver Pasha, Turkey’s minister of war and the pre-eminent leader of the Ottoman Empire. Falkenhayn requests guarantees that the railway workers will be left in peace to continue their vital labours. Enver’s staff file the telegram away carefully with the other protests received concerning their treatment of the Armenians.

image sources:

The Daily Gate City (WWI covered live, @ThisDayInWWI on Twitter)

Constantinople-Baghdad railroad (At a slight angle to the universe)

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