Armenian, Assyrian and Hellenic Genocide News

1914: The Hellenic Genocide in the Danish Archives

Posted: Saturday, March 06, 2004 at 06:30 AM CT


Background

The official Turkish position on the 1915 genocide is that no such genocide has taken place, whether it relates to Greeks, Armenians or Assyrians. A multitude of documents, however, demonstrate the resolve of the Young Turks to rid themselves of the Christian minority and build a new Turkish state.

A large number of this evidence consists of reports by foreign missions (consulates and embassies). Some reports such as those of Mortgenhau, the American Ambassador in Constantinople in 1915, are very well known. There are others, which have not been published yet. The Danish Consul in Smyrna has written the following reports in 1914. <1> These letters have been inscribed in English.

These letters alone do not constitute proof of the Hellenic Genocide in Minor Asia. However, there are already many documents and reports which substantiate the claim that a genocide took place. New evidence simply strengthens the thesis that the Young Turks have conducted a planned genocidal campaign against the Greek minority of the Empire.

In the last few years, some Turkish academics such as Taner Akçam, a distinguished researcher, have recognised the role played by the “Special Organization” (Teşkilat-ı Mahsusa), the first Turkish intelligence organization in the twentieth century, in the genocide of the Christian peoples. <2> The Special Organization is the forerunner of the Turkish Intelligence Agency (MIT). The Young Turks had decided to free criminals from prisons, organize them under the supervision of the Special Organization.<3>

It is evident that the gangs the Danish Consul is referring to in his letters are those organized by the Teskilat-i Mahsusa. The Consul calls these gangs “Bashibozuks” in the tradition of the Bashibozuks in the Ottoman Empire <4>, not being aware that Teskilati Mahsusa organized the attacks on Christians, with the sole purpose of exterminating them.

 Letter 1
Consulat Royal Smyrne.
de Denmark Journal no: 72 – No. 5
(---)

le 19 Juin 1914 Disorders in the Villayet of Aidin


Sir .

I have the honour to confirm my letter of the 15th Inst. and to report to your Excellency as follows:

About three months ago the Governor General of Smyrna (.) acting as I understand on instructions from the Ministry made an inspection in the small towns situated on the coast of this province. It would appear that in the course of this tournée administrative he gave semi official orders to the sub governors to force the greek population resident therein to evacuate these towns. No order of expulsion was decreed but the Turkish officials were to make use of the tortuous and vexatious measures so well-known to them.-

The like instructions were, I understand, given by the Governors of the other maritime provinces.-

The reason for this measure was from what I gather, the belief that so long as the Greeks were in possession of Chios & Mitylene, the presence of a kindred population on the opposite littoral constituted a source of danger to the Empire. As a result of these instructions a severe boycott was shortly after proclaimed and measures, many and different, were adopted to compel

To His Excellency
Mr. C. E. Wandel
H. M’s Minister resident
CONSTANTINOPLE

(page 2)
this population to quit their bearths and homes.-

As the rayah <5> Greeks clung however to their fields it was decided to take more active steps.-

The immigration of Thracian & Macedonian refugees gave the local authorities the opportunity for more harassing measures.-

A proclamation was issued that in order to house the mouhadjirs <6>, one room out of every three in the dwelling belonging to the rayah Greeks was to be given to them; further the local Authorities were to see to the execution of this order.-

The results are easily comprehensible. Unable to live with their guests, the Greek rayah began to emigrate, selling their property for what they could get for it and seeking new lands for their exertions, but the process was naturally a slow one as in a land where the peasant has little money it was naturally difficult to realise property from one day to another.-

The local authorities then determined to activate matters and more imperious orders were sent from head quarters.-

As a direct consequence of these orders trouble broke out at Adramyt, on the coast just opposite the northern part of Mitylene.-

After open hints that it would be advisable for them to leave the place, menaces that they would be done to death were resorted to, and finally the threats began to take shape in the murder of villagers returning from their fields and the waylaying of townsmen.-

A reign of terror was instituted and the panic stricken Greeks fled as fast as they could to the neighbouring island of Mitylene.-

Soon the movement spread to Kemer, Kilissekeuy, Kinick, Pergamos and Soma. Armed bands of Bashibozuks attacked the people residing therein, lifted their cattle, drove them from their

(page3)
farms and took forcible possession thereof.-

The details of what took place harrowing, women were seduced, girls were ravished, some of them dying from the ill-treatment received, children at the breast were shot down or cut with their mothers.-

Not content with driving the rayahs out, these blood-thirsty emissaries of a “so called Constitutional Government” then attacked the property of foreigners driving out their employees lifting their cattle, and looting their farms. In answer to complaints made to the Authorities the reply was “let foreigners go and buy farms in their own lands”.-

From Pergamos the bands advanced to Dikili driving out the people and looting the town, then, dividing forces, some bands took the direction of Menemen and others went south towards Phocea.-

In the Menemen district the villages of Ali-Agha and Gerenkieuy were partly sacked after having been looted, the affrighted inhabitants fleeing in all directions.-

At Serekieuy, a village in the same district, the people determined to resist and a fierce fight took place lasting from 8 ½ at night till about one o’clock in the morning when the villagers’ ammunition having failed a hand to hand struggle was sternly fought in which most of the defenders, who were by far the minority, fell, after having heroically fought for their lives and for the honour of their women.-

The few survivors who escaped sought refuge in Menemen which the bands then threatened, but as this town is one of some 20.000 inhabitants they dared not openly attack it, but satisfied themselves with shooting inhabitants who straved out of its near neighbourhood.-

The inhabitants thereupon decided to leave it but before so doing & perhaps hoping against hope, they determined to send away their wives and daughters.-

(page 4)
On the 13th Inst. some 700 women and about 3 to 400 children came to the railway station with the intention of taking train for Smyrna but by orders of Government no tickets would be given to them & the train passed without stopping.-

The scenes that followed are indescribable, the tears and screams of the women, the cries of the children, the attempts of the men to commander the train, all proved fruitless. The gendarmerie on duty drove them back and with black despair in their hearts they sadly turned once more towards the homes they had abandoned. A few miles further down at the village of Ouloujak the bashibozouks drove away all the cattle belonging to greeks and ordered the inhabitants , on threat of death, to leave the place. The unfortunate villagers were only too ready to comply with these arbitrary orders but once again, by order of the Vali <7>, the station-master was forbidden to deliver tickets & trains passed without stopping.-

Afraid to return they lay huddled for two days and nights in the neighbourhood of the station, vainly calling to the passengers in the through trains to get assistance sent them.-

I shall take the liberty of continuing any report in a few days, as soon as some reliable particulars from the ill-fated quarters come to hand.-

Meanwhile, I remain,
Yours Excellency’s obedient servant

Alfred van der …
(signature)

 

 LETTER 2
(seal)

Consulat Royal Smyrne.
de
Danemark Journal No. 75 – no. 8

(----)
25th. June 1914 Disorders in the Vilayet of Aidin


Sir,

In continuation of my despatch of the 19th Inst., I beg further to report as follows:

The bands of bashibozouks who had gone south of Menemen after looting all the villages on their way attacked Phocea on the night of the 12th, June on the three sides and ably assisted by the Cretans who work at the salt depots soon turned it into a shambles.-

Quoting from the words of an eye witness ‘within a quarter of an hour after the assault had begun every boat in the place was full of people trying to get away and when no more boats could be had the inhabitants sought refuge on the little peninsula on which the lighthouse stands. I saw eleven bodies of men and women lying dead on the shore. How many were killed I could not say but trying to get into a house of which the door stood ajar I saw two dead bodies lying in the entrance hall. Every shop in the place was looted and the goods that could not be carried away were wantonly destroyed.-
Although news was received in Smyrna that
To His Excellency
Mr. C. E. Wandel
H. M’s Minister Resident
CONTANTINOPLE

(page 2)
that trouble had broken out at Phocea matters were at first kept secret and it was only two days after that a French steam tug on its way to Makaronia conveyed the news of the disaster.-

Seeing a vast number of people gathered on the promontory and making signals of distress the people on the tug put into Phocea took off some 700 half starved wretches and conveyed then to Mitylene.-

The authorities in that place then sent boats and transported the remaining 5/6000 Phoceans to that island. At the present day the place is quite abandoned by the Greek element.-

Contemporaneously, with these murderous attacks upon the towns & villages noth of Smyrna a movement to expel the Greek population on the Kara Bournou peninsula was set on foot.-

A lot of 600 Mouhadjir families were landed at Kato-Panayia , or to give it its official name Assari-Tchiftlik, who drove the villagers out of their homes and took possession of their houses and goods, leaving the rightful owners to seek food and a roof where best they could.-

Another lot were landed at Chesmé and marched to Alatsata the inhabitants of which were forced by government officials to abandon their houses and property in favour of the new comers.-

The loss to these poor people will be well understood when it is considered that Alatsata was a town of some 15.000 inhabitants, since tenths of whom were Greeks and that a single Greek is not to be found there to-day.-

The next step was to drive out the people of Chesmé and the usual threats were made with the result that , preferring to leave of their own free-will rather then to be driven away, out of 13.000 Greeks about thirty men whose business prevents their leaving remain, the rest having sought refuge in Chios or Samos.-

As the expulsion from the places above named did not however quite clear the Kara Bournou peninsula and the bay of Smyrna, of the Greek element, the attention of the authoritiers was

(page 3)
then directed to the minor places.-

Reis-Déré, Ovalik, Kilisman, Saip, Vourla, Narli-Déré and Abdoulah-Tchiftlik . Here again threats again were uttered and as these did not seem to have immediate effect, daily murders and ill-treatment were resorted to. The panic stricken people with the execution of the inhabitants of Vourla sought relief by flying to Long Island where 6500 were collected at one moment, without shelter of any kind and without food. Thanks to the energy of the Russian Consul General, Mr. Kalmykcv, who has proven himself a man, some flour and other provisions were sent and finally these victims also were taken off to the Greek islands.-

From computations made, 70-80.000 persons have been expelled. Apart the loss to the people driven out, which amounts to about ₤ 2.000.000-, the loss to the country is irreparable. The inhabitants of the maritime parts of the province were , with the exception of the inhabitants of Aivali, a peaceful and hard working class. This province as is well known is sparsely populated there are hundreds of miles over which the plough has not passed. There was no necessity therefore to force them out in order to make way for others. To drive them out is to deprive the country of the benefit accruing to it from their work, to reduce the cultivation, to lower the revenues, to increase the price of labour. It is safe to predict that for many years to come this province will feel the disastrous effects of this wretched policy.-

To turn now to the mission of the Minister of the Interior.-
Immediately on his arrival in this province Talaat Bey tried to put a stop to the movement that had been inaugurated under his auspices.-

He went from town to town making the speeches to the public promising them full redress and perfect security; and while this farce was going on no one dared to go out of his house at night or to his fields by day without being shot at or mercilessly ill-

(page 4)
treated.-

To give as examples, at Tireh, Eudemish and Baindir the Greeks are openly boycotted and driven back by the bashibozooks when they attempt to go to their tobacco plantations and vines.-

At Menemen no greek who values his life dare go out of the precincts of the town and the same may be told with equal truth of Magnasia, Axar, Soma and Pergamos. In the Kara Bournou peninsula all the cattle has been lifted by government officials and the robbery has been made in open day and in presence of Europeans.-

To add one more act to this pitiable farce the Imperial government applied for delegates to show civilised Europe that the work of restitution is sincerely carried on and is now promenading these gentlemen in motor cars & special trains, giving them good dinners and fine wines, while the victims of its atrocities are begged their bread or living on the charity eked out to them. What these representatives of the Great Powers will have to tell I know not but, in case, one thing is absolutely certain that whatever their report is the tyrannous measures will not cease, though they may be carried on less openly, as in the communication of the Grand Vizier to the American Companies here conclusively proves.-

In communication to the Singer Co. here in Smyrna the United Consul General Horton says that he is instructed by is Ambassador to inform it that he has obtained the promise of the Grand Vizier that for two months the greek employees will not be molested but that at the expiration of that time they must be replaced.-

This communiqué is more eloquent than any words of mine.-

I am Your Excellency’s
Most obedient servant,

Alfred van der …
(signature)

 

 Letter 3

(seal)
Consulat Royal de Smyrne. 26th, May 1915
Danemark

J.N. 40 – No. 12


Sir,

In continuation of my respects of 12th. ult. I now have the honour to report as follows:

The local situation, to all outward appearances, has not changed in the last months. Perfect security reigns and no one is worried or annoyed in any way. Notwithstanding that Smyrna is almost daily visited by aeroplanes which endeavour to cast bombs on the fortified spots of the vicinity, the subjects of the belligerent powers seem indeed to enjoy special protection from the Local Authorities and most notably from the Governor – General of this Vilayet. His Excellency Rahmi Bey, and it would look as if the powers that be, wish to make them feel that they are honoured guests, which under the circumstances seems to be of a good policy.-

But while this happy stats of affairs exists with regard to personnel, rights and liberties, this country is beginning to feel very seriously the strain of the war.-

1o. Many of the leading firms and even some of the banks have been compelled to reduce the pay of their staffs.-

2o. Thousands of artisans find themselves out of work by the closure

To His Excellency
Mr. C. E. Wandel
His Majesty’s Minister Resident
CONSTANTINOPLE

(page 2)
factories & works.-
3o. The savings, the people have made, have little by little been spent.-

4o. The agriculturers can obtain no money to work their plantations, so that the fruit & other crops will naturally be small.-

5o. The want of coal has materially reduced the means of communication.

6o. After the closing of the port of Smyrna by the Turkish Government, when war was declared, the small port of Vourla, situated at a distance of 20 miles of Smyrna, was opened to navigation & as this small port is connected with the town by a chaussée running alongside the sea-shore, traffic up to a certain extent was kept going, but the practical closure now of this small port too through embargo being laid by the belligerent naval forces on a great many articles declared as contraband of war have increased to almost famine-prices the cost thereof. Owing to these new measures steamers have stopped calling at Vourla.-

7o. The shortage of stocks on the one hand and speculation on the other have raised the prices of goods still existing on the market from 25% to 75%.-

8o. Only a few thousand tin-cases of petroleum exist and this is doled out to the people.

Again while the money in circulation is as above said becoming shorter and the prices of foodstuffs rising, thus rendering the conditions of living more and more difficult daily, the needs of government demand the imposition of new taxes and this of course increases the burthen.-

True to tell only one half of the Temettu tax has been collected and the Moratorium laws have relieved the strain in a measure , but nevertheless the outlook is very dark.-

All those, and they can be counted by thousands who could leave this place have sought new fields elsewhere especially in Greece, but though the exodus has been great, inasmuch as only subjects of foreign neutral powers were allowed

(page 3)
to go, the conditions have not altered.-

The relief committees have also done good work, but while their means are limited, the scope of their work is hourly increasing.-

It is in fact earnestly to be desired that peace is restored shortly for if this state of affairs continues for the next three or four months starvation will face the people.


I am Your Excellency’s
most obedient servant

Alfred van der …
(signature)

NOTES

<1> Det Danksa Rigsarkivet, , Serie Gesandtskapet I Konstantinopel, Nr 355, Volym: Noter og inderetningar om den politiske utvickling 1914-1922, Verdkrigen – Rapporter fra Smyrna, nov.1914 - marts 1916.
<2> See T Akçam, Insan Hakları ve Ermeni Sorunu, , Imge Kitabevi, Ankara, 1999.
<3> For further information see M Iliadis, Oi Tourkikes Mistikes Plirofories and MIT, , 2nd edition, Lavirinthos, Athens, 1998, pp. 23-93.
<4> Basibozuks were irregular troops; it literally translates as “the head is kaput”, which clearly indicates the nature of these irregular troops used by the Ottomans.
<5> Subjugated.
<6> Turkish refugees from the Balkans.
<7> Provincial Governor




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