Page 3561

3561 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

had released the Turkish Government from

the control, slight as it was, which the concert of European powers had hitherto exerted. On one side the belligerents were

Turkey's allies, and the men who planned

the massacre relied upon their victory to

shield themselves "from the vengeance of

the Western powers and Russia, which had

always stood between the malignant hostility of the Ottoman Government and the

helplessness of its Christian subjects. The

denunciation of the Capitulations broke

down the legal barrier of foreign protection,

behind which many Ottoman Christians

had found more or less effective shelter.

Nothing remained but to use the opportunity and strike a stroke that would

never need repetition. After this,' said

Talaat Bey, when he gave the final signal,

'there will be no Armenian question for

fifty years.'"

From Constantinople orders were sent

to begin the horrid work, and the local

officials were obliged to carry out the work

whether or not they wished to do so.

"The procedure was exceedingly systematic," says Lord Bryce, who investigated the atrocities. "The whole Armenian

population of each town and village was

cleared out by a house-to-house search.

Every inmate was driven into the street.

Some of the men were thrown into prison,

where they were put to death, sometimes

with torture; the rest of the men, with

the women and children, were marched

out of the town. When they had got

some little distance they were separated,

the men being taken to some place among

the hills where the soldiers, or the Kurdish

tribes who were called in to help in the

work of slaughter, dispatched them by

shooting or bayoneting. The women and

children and old men were sent off under

convoy of the lowest kind of soldiers many of them just drawn from gaols to their distant destination, which was

sometimes one of the unhealthy districts

in the center of Asia Minor, but more

frequently the large desert in the province

of Der el Zor, which lies east of Aleppo,

in the direction of the Euphrates. They

were driven along by the soldiers day after

day, all on foot, beaten or left behind to

perish if they could not keep up with the

caravan; many fell by the way, and many

died of hunger. No provisions were given

them by the Turkish Government and

they had already been robbed of everything they possessed. Not a few of the

women were stripped naked and made

to travel in that condition beneath a

burning sun. Some of the mothers went

mad and threw away their children, being

unable to carry them further. The caravan route was marked by a line of corpses,

and comparatively few seem to have

arrived at the destinations which had

been prescribed for them-chosen, no

doubt, because return was impossible

and because there was little prospect

that any would survive their hardships.

"When the Armenian population was

driven from its homes, many of the women

were not killed, but reserved for a more

humiliating fate. They were mostly seized

by Turkish officers or civilian officials,

and consigned to their harems. Others

were sold in the market, but only to a

Moslem purchaser, for they were to be

made Moslems by force. Never again

would they see parents or husbands these Christian women condemned at one

stroke to slavery, shame, and apostasy.

The boys and girls were also very largely

sold into slavery, at prices sometimes of

only ten to twelve shillings, while other

boys of tender age were delivered to

dervishes, to be carried off to a sort of dervish monastery, and there forced to become

Mussulmans.

"To give one instance of the thorough

and remorseless way in which the massacres

were carried out, it may suffice to refer to

the case of Trebizond, a case vouched

for by the Italian Consul who was present

when the slaughter was carried out, his

country not having then declared war

against Turkey. Orders came from Constantinople that all the Armenian Christians in Trebizond were to. be killed.

Many of the Moslems tried to save their

Christian neighbors, and offered them

shelter in their houses, but the Turkish

authorities were implacable. Obeying the