Will Armenia Subsist As a Nation?

By Henry Doulcet, Archbishop of Diclea

[The Nation; November 4, 1915]

To the Editor of The Nation:

Sir: "Will Armenia continue to exist as a nation? is a question ever occurring to the mind at this moment when one is allowed to consider other matters than shells, bombs, submarines, and the high price of exchange. If the Armenian people were succumbing under the attacks of open war, their fortune would be simply that of the many, too many, alas! who are gallantly falling on the battlefields of the old world, without any precursory sign of peace so far showing itself. But such is not their case. They die as a ransom paid for the decay of the Ottoman domination in Europe. The lower it falls, the fiercer is the revenge taken upon them, as if they were accountable for the fall. And what is worse, one European Power has been found acute and unscrupulous enough at the same time to traffic with the lives of these unfortunate victims for the advantage of its own selfish purposes. Ever since a German Empire was revived, and, through its representative at the Sublime Porte, began to manifest its views concerning the development of German influence in Asia, the Armenian nation has been condemned to the rôle of a martyr.

Already, in 1872, Ambassador Eichmann bartered with the Grand Vizier, Avni Pacha, and instigated him to exile the Armenian patriarch Hassoun, who had been the protector of the heroic Zeituniots. (Perhaps I ought to explain that Zeitun and some parts of Silicia form the so-called Armenia Minor which was the last Armenian kingdom under the Lusignan dynasty, whereas Armenia Major, near Ararat, lost its independence as far back as the eleventh century. And when came the massacres of Sassun in the month of August, 1894, and of Constantinople in the same month two years later, followed by the murder of about a hundred thousand Armenians in the country districts, Germany's silence in the presence of Abdul Hamid cannot be specially blamed, for the shame was common to all the Christian Powers. However, it is to be noted that while public meetings in Paris, London, and other capitals gave vent to protestations, at Berlin only one voice was raised in the name of outraged humanity, that of Dr. Lepsius, the court preacher, who was immediately discharged from his post by the Kaiser. In this connection, we should record the fact of the laudable initiative taken by Denmark in calling the pro-Armenian congress at Brussels in 1902, which was followed by several others, all in vain, however, because they were not supported by the respective governments of the nations which brought them together.

In the meantime, the persecution of the Armenians continued to rage all over Turkey until it reached its climax of violence, and hypocrisy at Adana in 1907, when the guilty Young Turks, who had succeeded to the Red Sultan as the masters of the Ottoman Empire, received only praise instead of reproach for their crimes. No wonder, therefore, that they are able at the present moment to carry on their work of destruction with more systematic hatred than ever. The news is distressing. The official organ of the Young Turks, the Tanine, has not hesitated to print that this time will see the end of Armenia, for the young men are forced to serve in the army, the old men sent off into the desert to die of hunger, all women imprisoned in the harems and islamized, while children, of both sexes are sold at auction at Constantinople under the very eyes of the Germans who rule there. Only a few thousand people have been able to reach Beirut, where they were saved by a French man-of-war and the American cruisers, the Chester and Des Moines, which conveyed them to Egypt. It is even declared by the fugitives that the German Consul at Alep, a certain Rossler, went to Aintab to preside at the massacres. But whether this be true or not, my own conclusion, based on a full knowledge of Armenia and Armenian affairs, is to the effect that if Germany wins in the present war, Armenia is doomed; but if she is beaten, there still remains hope that so long as the old Haikan Bible is read in the churches of California, Rome, and Etchmiradzin, Armenia will survive as a nation.

Archbishop of Dioclea.
Paris, October 10.

© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013

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