Shall Armenia Perish? (by Henry Morgenthau)

The Independent (February 28, 1920)

By Henry Morgenthau

Former Ambassador to Turkey, and National
Vice-Chairman of Near East Relief

Two hundred and fifty thousand Christian Armenian women enslaved in Turkish harems call to the people of America for liberation! One hundred thousand women already rescued by Near East Relief agents from harems will perish unless support from America is continued! Two hundred and fifty thousand children, orphaned by the unspeakable Turks, are calling in the only English they know, "Bread, Uncle Sam." One million two hundred thousand destitute, homeless, clotheless adults look to the giant in the West for the succor that will keep them from annihilation. What shall our answer be?

If they were good enough to fight and die for us when we needed their help so sorely, are they not good enough to be given some crumbs from our plenty?

Since the beginning of the war, the Turkish Armenians have been largely refugees. A simple, agricultural people, they have been exiled from their farms and deprived of all opportunity to support themselves. Now, more than a year after the armistice, they are still living the life of nomads, able to continue alive only by virtue of American philanthropy. If ever unmerited suffering called for succor the plight of the Armenians should be heeded now. A few months more and it may be relief will come too late for those myriads whom only we can save.

Let the American slogan now become-Serve Armenians for a little while longer with life's necessities that they may be preserved for the day of national freedom and rebirth, which no people more truly and greatly deserves.

The belief, held by some persons, that Turkey has repented and can do not further harm, is without foundation. The group that led Turkey into the war on the side of Germany is now in the saddle. The Turk has not been disarmed and these leaders are now aiding the Tartars. Kurds and Bolshevists are urging them on to kill and rob the surviving Armenians at every opportunity. The deportations and massacres during the war were not spontaneous uprisings of unorganized mobs, but were the working out of a well-plotted plan of wholesale extermination in which regular Turkish officers and troops took part as if in a campaign against an enemy in the field.

More than 2,000,000 persons were deported. The system was about the same everywhere. The Armenians, men, women and children, would be assembled in the marketplace. Then the able-bodied men would be marched off and killed by being shot or clubbed in cold blood at some spot which did not necessitate the trouble of burial.

Next the women would be sorted out. Agents of the Turk officers picked the youngest and fairest for their masters' harems. Next the civil officials had their pick, and then the remainder either were sold for one medjidi-a silver coin valued at about 80 cents-or were driven forth to be seized by the lower class Turks and Kurds.

As a last step, those who remained, mothers, grandmothers, children, were driven forth on their death pilgrimages across the desert of Aleppo, with no food, no water, no shelter, to be robbed and beaten at every halt, to see children slain in scores before their eyes, and babies dashed to death against rocks or spitted on the bayonets of the soldier guards.

If America is going to condone these offenses, if she is going to permit to continue conditions that threaten and permit their repetition, she is party to the crime. These peoples must be freed from the agony and danger of such horrors. They must not only be saved for the present but either thru governmental action or protection under the League of Nations they must be given assurance that they will be free in peace and that no harm can come to them.

New York.

Image of article Index of Press Reports