Mary Louise Graffam was a
missionary who was written about in a loving manner (the author happened to be
her brother-in-law) in Armenian
Affairs Magazine. I conducted a search to learn more about her, and
the "Internet" claim-to-fame of the missionary thus far is that she
has been identified as a "witness to genocide" in 2003's America
and the Armenian genocide of 1915, edited by Jay ("The Great War") Winter. Witness
to genocide, or witness to suffering?
advocate Jay Winter ("The Great War")
As Sam Weems wrote, "It appears,
the Armenians consider every Armenian who was removed to be a victim of
genocide. Relocation is not genocide." That goes for blatantly
one-sided pro-Armenians such as Jay Winter.
revelation made below is that Graffam (who died of cancer in 1921) asked
permission of the Sivas Governor to accompany her
Armenian friends who were being relocated, and permission was granted. That's
a strange way to run an extermination campaign, to allow a hostile foreign
witness to tag along. In addition, she continued to treat Turkish soldiers
(very much to her credit, recognizing non-Christians as human beings) in
military hospitals. If she believed there were an extermination campaign, why
would she have lent a hand to the evil forces responsible? That makes no sense
My curiosity was aroused
as to what sort of a "genocide witness" the missionary made, and I
analyzed her chapter from the aforementioned book, as well. (Where I learned
of her ulterior motives for treating Turks... her reasons were not as
"pure-hearted" as I initially thought from the first article. She
also — at least at the time of the events — lets the Ottoman
government completely off the hook!)
There is also speculation
that she might have worked undercover for American intelligence.
|Mary Louise Graffam
Armenian Affairs, Winter
1949-1950, Vol. I, No. 1, pp. 62-65
Mary Louise Graffam By ERNEST C. PARTRIDGE
ONE of the most interesting characters I have known was Mary Louise
Graffarn, the missionary of the American Board of Missions. who became famous in the first
World War as the only American who trekked across Asia Minor in the early spring of 1915
during the deportation of the Armenians for several weeks with the girls of her school and
the several hundred members of the Armenian Protestant Church of Sivas.
I first came to know Polly Graffam in her freshman year at Oberlin
College, where we worked at the same college boarding house, she earning her board washing
dishes and I waiting on tables. We became acquainted helping each other in the rush of
finishing work and getting to class on time. The next year her younger sister joined us.
After my seminary course Winona and I were married and after a two years’ pastorate, we
went to Sivas, an interior station in Turkey for a life of service in the education of
Armenians. One year later, the position of principal of our girls’ high school being
vacant, Mary joined us, and gave the following twenty years to devoted service for the
people of Turkey.
The striking quality of Mary Graffam was her versatility. She did
well anything she undertook. She was a successful teacher and a capable administrator. For
thirteen years to the outbreak of World War I her activity was largely in educational
work, but she never limited herself to the school. Soon after her arrival in Sivas and
before she could read Armenian with ease she had to play the organ for the church service.
She could do this acceptably but she could not read the words of the hymn fast enough to
keep up with the music. Our teachers used to tell stories of her mistakes. a favorite
pastime of those close to new missionaries. One mistake they still speak of was on the
line of the gospel hymn, "leaving our cares we fly away and are at rest." The
words sorrows and hens are much alike, so she was singing, "leaving our chickens we
fly away." Another time during her early months in school she had introduced a young
man into the girls’ high school to teach singing, an unheard of thing then for a man to
teach in a girls’ school. She was present as chaperon. The beardless teacher called for
an eraser. And she calling a pupil, and confusing two words much alike, surpich and
saprich, called for a barber for the young man. This teacher, by the way, was the
distinguished Western Electric engineer, Dr. Garabed Paelian. But things like this never
fazed her. in every circumstance she tried to do her best and came through somehow.
Polly Graffam was very practical. She was a good seamstress, and
made many clothes for herself and her sister. During her early years in Sivas she trained
an Armenian tailor to make ladies’ dresses and coats, and for years he did most of the
work for our American ladies under her supervision. She had a good deal of talent in
languages, was a good student of Latin and Greek in college. A summer vacation in
Switzerland to recuperate from a severe case of typhoid gave her the opportunity to
acquire a speaking knowledge of French, which stood her in good stead during the years of
the first World War, when she was able to help French and other foreign officers and
civilians interned in her city. Her best foreign language was Armenian, but while in
military hospital work she acquired a speaking knowledge of Turkish. She was thanked by
the British and French governments for her service to their people, decorated by the
Turkish government for her service to soldiers and civilians. She was given an honorary
degree by her Alma Mater for humanitarian service during the war.
A Fun Fact About
"...[D]uring the Sykes-Picot
negotiations, Russia had insisted that Sivas and Lesser Armenia should go to
France and in return she should get the Kurdish populated Hakkiari-Mush in the east.
The reason had been Tsarist Russia’s desire to have ‘as few Armenians as
possible’ in the Russian territory and to be relieved of Armenian ‘nationalist
Akaby Nassibian, “Britain and the Armenian Question,
1915-1923,” 1984, p. 108
Although she had no special training in financial
matters, in the crisis of 1913-1914, when no one else seemed to have time for
accounts, she took over the station treasury. When in the early winter she joined a
party to Erzroum near the Russian front, as a volunteer Red Cross worker in the
Turkish army hospitals, she dumped her accounts on my desk, and I had the surprising
experience for the only time in my life of getting a balance sheet the first time.
During the winter of 1914 a typhus epidemic broke
in the Turkish army on the Russian front, 200 miles north from our city. An army
medical inspector sent from Constantinople told me after his trip that 1,000 men a
day for the preceding 60 days had died of the disease, on the road up to the front.
In this crisis our missionary physician, Doctor Clark, responded to a call from Army
hospitals in that city. In addition to the Doctor the party included our
American-born nurse, Mrs. Sewny, a Swiss nurse, Miss Zenger, Miss Graffam and a
pharmacist. These people spent the winter scattered in the military hospitals of the
city. On arrival there word came that Mrs. Sewny’s husband, an army doctor, was
dying in a village near the front several hours’ ride away. The two ladies started
off at once on horseback in the deep snow, to find the doctor in a collapse
following typhus, from which he died the next day. With the aid of a Turkish soldier
they made a box out of the doors of the cabin and brought the body on a packsaddle
back to burial in the cemetery in Erzeroum. There Miss Graffam was assigned as
manager of a hospital for Turkish officers, many of whom had frozen feet. This was a
small institution under the patronage of a group of ladies, wives of the mayor and
high ranking officers. Her experiences that winter would fill a book.
With the approach of spring and the persistent
rumors of deportations of the Armenians, Miss Zenger was anxious to return to Sivas
to look after her orphans, so she and Mary Graffam started back home. Khans, 1 where they stopped at nights. were. full of sick soldiers, and
every morning under the wagons in the enclosure they would see bodies of men who had
died during the night. About a third of the way to Sivas Miss Zenger was taken with
a severe case of typhus and died and was buried in the city of Erzingan. Fearing the
same fate might befall her we sent out two of our teachers to meet her. When they
met she was riding in a one horse araba 2 with a
decrepit horse, sitting in the rain under a tarpaulin. She was very worn out and
fatigued but received no permanent injury from the wracking experiences of the
In the meantime plans for the deportations of all Armenians
followed in this manner. All weapons of every kind, even pocket knives were collected on
the plea that they were needed b the army, but this collection affected only the Armenian
population. A little later 1,000 Armenian men and women were thrown into prison, and thus
the 25,000 Armenians in the city were deprived of all weapons and the best of its male
leadership. After the deportation was completed these men were taken out of the city,
compelled to dig their own graves and then knocked on the head, stripped and buried. Among
these men were many of our friends of years. The whole faculty of Sivas Teachers College
were thus murdered, either here or on the road. Among them were two men of fine education
and talent — Roupen Racubian, a post graduate student with two years’ work at
Columbia, our professor of education, and Michael Frengulian, a graduate of Oberlin
College, our teacher of sciences.
To return to the deportation, I was assured by the Governor of the
province and the Commanding General of the army at Sivas that this was an agricultural
colonization scheme, that the people were to be moved under protection of the army, which
was to supply them with army rations on the road. We hoped this was true but did not for a
moment believe it. When the deportations began, Mary Graffam asked permission of the
Governor to go with her pupils and friends; and much to our surprise it was permitted. She
took with her my saddle horse and two wagons, one loaded with flour for food, and the
other for giving short lifts for those who fell by the wayside. After several days on the
road the men were taken away, and no one of them was ever heard of again. After several
weeks of this trek she was ordered to return to Sivas, which she did, the last few hours,
driving the carriage when they took her driver away. In the meantime, as our educational
work had been entirely disrupted, it was decided that our family should return to America
for an overdue furlough, in order to be ready to return after the war and gather up the
broken remnants of our work.
For some months, Dr. Clark arid his associates were busily occupied
with medical work in our hospital, doing Red Cross work for sick soldiers, and caring for
the orphans who had not been deported. Several months later, as the Russian army was
moving towards Sivas, all the members of our station were ordered out. Miss Graffam was
finally given permission to remain with one companion, her associate. Mary Fowle. She died
of typhus. and for about two years Mary Graffam was the only foreigner in the city,
excepting a few Frenchmen and Englishmen. She had a group of girl teachers and older
orphans, who at the time of the deportations were working in our hospital. These were
given the choice of going on the road with the deportees or remaining in medical work,
with no guarantee on our part of our ability to protect them. Toward the end of the war it
is said there were 5,000 patients in the military hospitals of the city, many typhus
patients. and the head nurses were her girls. It can be said to the credit of the Turkish
doctors that they protected these nurses and no indignity was experienced by any of them.
Very soon after the Armistice, the Armenians who had lived
in this territory and all the way up to the Black Sea, who had survived began to
trek back, and then Mary Graffam with the help of her girls, began a new era of
expanding relief work. She had done such work as much as she could for straggling
Armenians, but now it became a major problem. For several months after the Armistice
she managed this growing burden. I reached Sivas just before Easter, 1919, and found
her with several hundred orphans, and the job of giving a pittance of bread relief
to some 3,000 women and children. In the course of a few weeks, with the arrival
from America of volunteer relief workers, I was in charge of a Near East Relief
staff which included 17 American workers, a physician, three nurses, and orphanage
and industrial workers.
It was definitely planned that, as soon as she could put her
wartime accounts into shape Mary Graffam should return home for a long overdue
vacation. But I had the misfortune to break my arm cranking a car, and not having a
chauffeur, got run down, developed a case of chronic appendicitis, and was sent to
Constantinople for an operation. When finally I came home for a surgical operation
and a rest, Mary was loathe to leave her charges. She said she had seen all the
agony, and now she wanted to stay on and see things build up again. So she tried to
stick it out, and finally died in Sivas from an overworked heart, following an
operation for cancer.
Mary Graffam’s was an active and very useful life, which she
enjoyed and to which she gave herself fully. There was none of the awareness of a
martyr’s spirit in her, but she was just as truly a martyr as those Armenian
pupils and friends whom she had accompanied to Mesopotamia and helped to lighten the
burdens and sufferings on the road to their Golgotha.
|More on Mary Graffam
Before we move on to our analysis of the
"Witness to Genocide" chapter of America and the Armenian genocide of
1915, let's check out a few other Graffam references from other writers in that
Suzanne E. Moranian provides the following in her
"American missionary relief efforts" chapter (p. 190):
American missionaries serving in Turkey received warnings that the Armenians were in
danger before Turkey entered the war in November 1914. In September of that year, a
German army Colonel visited American evangelist Mary L. Graffam in Turkey. "He
was a Christian, although a German," Graffam explained, "and he tried to
warn us of things which might take place in the coming summer; this showing that the
deportations were planned as early as this." The Colonel told her that "a
certain fate was in store for all Armenians, but if the Germans were in the country,
there would be no massacres." (Source: Mary L. Graffam, "Miss Graffam's
Own Story," 28 June 1919, ABC 16.5, vol. 6, no. 262, ABCFM archives.
Graffam related the above in 1919, through a stenographer, according to Billington
Wishful thinking on the part of
this supposed German that his people's presence would prevent the massacres that
followed... on both sides.
Here we are getting a taste of
what an unreliable witness Mary Graffam was. The missionaries stopped at nothing to
pass on the stories of their beloved Armenians, and were not above making stories up
themselves. Why? It was their Godly duty to vilify the Turk, clearly spelled out in
their prayers. The hearsay we are being asked to accept here from an unnamed German
is that the resettlement policy was a done deal, even before the war started. As if
such a Herculean and expensive effort would take priority over what was most
important: the defense of the motherland in the face of three merciless superpowers
that would hit the ailing empire from all sides, making good on the secret treaties
they had planned between themselves.
We know from the progression of
events of real history that the Ottomans looked the other way (as far as taking
drastic action) regarding the wave of Armenian rebellions for as long as possible.
As the military situation grew more desperate, the first consideration of moving the
Armenian community out came with this May
2, 1915 telegram.
Congress of Dashnakstsutiun, sitting in Erzerum in the autumn of 1914, had been
offered autonomy by Turkish emissaries, if it would actually assist Turkey in
Akaby Nassibian, “Britain and the Armenian
Question, 1915-1923,” 1984, p. 107; in other words, the Turks were hoping
to enlist the aid of their own Armenian citizens in the desperate
battle-for-survival to follow, where every able-bodied man was needed. Yet, before
the autumn of 1914 (if the mysterious German officer visited prior to September
22, when it was still summer), the Ottomans were planning the
"deportation" and potential extermination of the Armenians they so
So Mary Graffam is attempting
to have us believe that the fate of the Armenians was all pre-determined by the
government. However, as you'll read further, Mary Graffam herself let the
government off the hook. That's a significant contradiction.
We get an idea of
Graffam's extremism from Richard Hovannisian's "US post war commission" chapter (p.
"No witness advocated Armenian independence more fervently than
Mary Louise Graffam, a long-time Oberlin missionary and teacher at Sivas (Sepastia).
As a witness to the genocidal atrocities, she told the (King-Crane) Commission that to
leave the Armenians with the Turks would be "beyond human imagination."
Sounds like Graffam would have
found agreement with British Colonel Rawlinson, when he was quoted by Robert Dunn
(in World Alive, A Personal Story, 1952, p. 358) as having said:
"'An Armenia without
Armenians! Turks under Christian rule?' His lips smacked in irony under the droopy
red moustache. 'That's bloodshed — just Smyrna over again on a bigger
Of course, Rawlinson was
referring to Turks living under ethnic-cleansing Armenians as being "beyond
human imagination," arguing against the mandate that would have insured
Armenian independence. Yet Graffam only reserved sympathy for the Armenians, in
loyal missionary style... an attitude no true Christian would stomach.
Hovannisian also wrote (p.
"Harbord was told by Dr. Ernest Partridge and
his sister-in-law Mary Louise Graffam that, of the nearly 200,000 Armenians of the (Sivas)
province, only about 10,000 survived and these in a completely servile status."
(To supplement the above,
"Miss Graffam's Own Story"  tells us: "Out of 30,000 people
there are about 3,000 left." [Referring to Sivas, the city.] The Armenian
Patriarch provided a complete Sivas total of 16,000, from his 1921 report to the
British. The pre-war  population for the province was 182,912, according to
McCarthy, up from Capt. Norman's 132,307 in 1895.)
(Even the missionaries didn't
go as overboard as U.S. Consul madman J. B. Jackson, who — as Peter Balakian
gleefully repeated in his "Burning
Tigris" — reported only 5,000 emaciated and sick women and
children were the only survivors from the Armenian population of Sivas, where over
300,000 souls had once lived.)
Missionaries like Graffam had
clear sailing with the Christian sympathizers heading the King-Crane and Harbord
Commissions. Note how she and her missionary relative could have had no authentic
idea as to how many Armenians had actually survived; throwing out a figure that was
only 5% of the original population certainly worked to evoke better sympathy,
Partridge himself documented how
Armenians were returning in droves after war's end, which would have been highly
unlikely had such a small percentage survived. (Particularly if we keep in mind many
survivors chose not to return, or had escaped the resettlement in the first place,
moving to other regions on their own accord... such as 50,000 to Iran, and 500,000
to Transcaucasia, according to Hovannisian. Of an original pre-war population of 1.5
million overall, the Patriarch himself recorded up to 644,900 were in what remained
of the empire, after war's end and before Sèvres.)
Bearing false witness against
their neighbor came naturally to missionaries like Graffam. This sin was justified
in their minds, probably, as long as the greater Christian good could be
What might be described as a
greater sin in this day and age is that there are authors who still point to
missionary testimony as valid today... such as the authors of America and the
Armenian genocide of 1915, a propaganda book edited by Jay Winter.
|Witness to Genocide,
or Witness to Suffering?
"Mary Louise Graffam: witness to genocide" is
Susan Billington Harper's contribution to the book mentioned above.
The Armenians have succeeded in planting their "colonists"
(in Hovannisian's and other Armenians' word) throughout Western society to better accept
the warped Armenian version of events as the common wisdom... sort of like in Invasion
of the Body Snatchers, these single-minded "Pod People" are now present in
all walks of life. An Armenian editor resides at National Geographic Magazine, for
example. When articles on Armenia surface, readers get hit with the usual propaganda, such
as 1.5 million exterminated Armenians.
The mission of "Pod People" is to convert others into
being similar Pod People.
One, Dr. Levon Andoyan, has infiltrated the United States
government's greatest harbinger of truth, the Library of Congress ("LoC"). It's
shocking that Armenian propaganda litters the web site of the LoC itself. The head
librarian since 1987, James H. Billington, is solidly in the Armenians' corner.
Unthinkable, when one considers his position should entail the very essence of
impartiality. One wonders whether his mind was corrupted through the prevalence of
Armenian propaganda earlier in life, or whether Armenians in the LoC whispered in his ear
and poisoned his mind. Regardless, Billington has become such an apologist for the
Armenians, he actually tarnished the glorious name of the Library of Congress as a
co-sponsor of a Sept. 2000 Armenian conference that resulted in the book, America and
the Armenian genocide of 1915. (The driving force was the Armenian National Institute,
headed by Rouben Adalian, who has no tolerance
for deviation from the Armenian line... no matter how minor, even by fellow Armenians. Can
you imagine? As if such a conference had any chance of being objective, and Billington
incredibly allowed the Library of Congress to get mixed up with such an unscholarly
An appreciation for Armenian propaganda sadly running in the family,
the author of the Graffam piece is Billington's own daughter, Susan Billington Harper.
...[M]issionaries ... often felt they had become do-it-yourself
"Protestant Diplomacy and the Near
East," Joseph L. Grabill, 1971
Billington Harper provides the background on her
On 14 August 1901, Mary Louise
Graffam, a shy teacher from the National Cathedral School for Girls in Washington,
D.C., left Boston for a new life as an educational missionary for the American Board
of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in Ottoman Turkey. She embarked on
what promised to be a fairly conventional missionary career as the head of Female
Education in the Near Eastern mission post of Sivas, an established American mission
station. Little did she know that she would be thrust, instead, into the horrors of
twentieth-century warfare and would become a first-hand witness to genocide
conducted by a government against a portion of its own people.
The author is not happy about Graffam's current
Surprisingly no serious
account, let alone major biography, of Graffam has ever appeared, despite the
existence of numerous unpublished documents, oral and written histories in Armenian,
scattered primary source materials as well as general works on the Armenian Genocide
and missionary history that mention her heroic resistance to the massacres... This
neglect is particularly startling since she was a celebrated figure in the United
States during and after the First World War, not only among missionaries but also
among government officials and the general public. (The
footnote credits a multitude of Armenian sources, and a debt of gratitude is
included for Levon Avdoyan, Ara Sarafian, and Dr. Osgan Kechian of the Pan Sebastia
Rehabilitation Union, Inc.)
As with many biographers, I'd presume
Billington Harper began to see her subject through rose-colored glasses, and would
be hard pressed to accept that Graffam's claims could be less than the gospel truth.
I'd suspect the reason why no one glorified Graffam among the ranks of serious
scholars in later years is because ... she was a missionary. Missionaries cannot be
accepted as reliable sources because their beliefs are staked on faith, and not
reality. Exactly as what lies at the core of Armenian genocide advocates; genuine
history must be passed over in the interest of maintaining the myth of innocence for
Armenians, and the image of barbarism for the Turks. In short, bigotry is a driving
force among both missionaries and "Armenian genocide" advocates.
Regardless, it doesn't seem fair for Graffam to
have been so forgotten these many years later. Such an unrelenting champion of the
Armenian cause should have been practically deified by the Armenians, for those who
hold "gratitude" high as a value. (After six-to-eight centuries of
prosperity among the Turks, alas, it was this lack of gratitude that caused the
Armenians to rebel in their Ottoman nation's darkest hour. Armenians would go on to
attack even their greatest friends, such as Reverend Barton and President Wilson.)
Missionary Mary Louise
General Harbord, whose Christian-sympathizing
mind was further corrupted by Graffam, gushed over her as follows: "It is no
disparagement of other zealous and efficient missionaries to say that Miss Mary
Graffam is the outstanding missionary figure in this part of Asia . . . [She has
played] a part in the stirring events of the last six years which has probably never
been equaled by any other woman in the chronicles of missionary effort."
("Investigating Turkey and Trans-Caucasia," Harbord, 1920.)
(I find it interesting that Harbord used the
word "zealous" as a positive trait. Is that a good thing, to be a zealot?
It's surely an appropriate word for a missionary, giving up all in life for the
purpose of faith; to the extent of moving to a faraway corner of the world.)
Billington Harper tells us open evangelization
among Muslims was forbidden by law, and that "the ABCFM
had earlier adopted an indirect strategy that focused primarily on the education of
Armenian and Greek Christian populations. The implicit longer-term goal was to
increase the faith and witness of indigenous Christian populations so that they
would become motivated themselves to spread the faith to Muslims."
Graffam's colleague in Sivas, Henry Holbrook wrote, shortly after his arrival in
1913: "It is almost maddening to be actually here in the heart of the Moslem
world — to whose crying appeal we consecrated our lives ... — and yet be forced
to realize that there is at present practically nothing we can do directly for these
young Turks. In the present condition of the country anything like active
anti-Moslem propaganda would be a dreadful blunder — the Moslem world will never
be won by militant methods but only by infinite patience and love."
The missionaries had a curious way of
exhibiting this "love."
Graffam first tried to get into the business of
altering others' lives in 1895, attempting to gain a post in Japan doing
"direct evangelistic or missionary work rather than teaching in a school,"
an educational role she soon had to accept, resigning herself to try and get to the
hearts of Muslims in indirect fashion. As for Holbrook, we're informed "his expectation of a long and peaceful career as an educator of
young Armenian and Greek children was dashed when he was brutally and mysteriously
murdered in 1913 by Turkish bandits." The contrast between
"good" and "evil" is clearly established with Billington
Harper's phrasing; I guess the implication (with the word, "mysteriously")
is that the Turkish bandits (perhaps Graffam was also an "eyewitness" to
this mini-genocide; otherwise, how can we be sure of the identity of the killers?)
is that the bad Turks snuffed out the missionary's life because he was a Christian.
Background on our missionary heroine: "Mary Louise Graffam was born in the small town of Monson, Maine, and
moved to Andover, Massachusetts, at the age of five. She was raised with a younger
sister, Winona, in a Christian home - probably Congregational.". She
experienced a "spiritual awakening at the age of fourteen,"
and "decided to become a foreign missionary during her
freshman year at Oberlin College," a missionary training college from
which she graduated in 1894 (and for which Graffam had to pay off her college debts
by working as a high-school teacher for six years, postponing her missionary dreams
in Japan. Shouldn't such education have been free, or close to it? As if
missionaries didn't sacrifice everthing else in their lives, as soldiers for their
cause.) Graffam was thirty-years old, 5 feet 7, 127 pounds and in good health when
the missionary offer came through in 1901. She would spend the remaining twenty
years of her life (save for a brief U.S. visit in 1909-10, which she devoted to
further service for Armenians; see below) in the city of Sivas, "composed of roughly 30,000 Armenians within a total population of
75,000." (Since Billington Harper prefers to rely on pro-Armenian
sources, perhaps these figures were provided by the Patriarch.)
(P. 220:) Graffam
contracted a serious case of typhoid in 1903, from which she recovered in
Switzerland, and the mission school struggled from 1909 to cope with declining
enrollments caused by a serious famine and, later, an outbreak of typhus. Mary
responded to these needs by helping locally and fund raising internationally... To
raise funds, she returned to America in 1909 where she gave speeches about famine in
Turkey, and assisted newly arrived Armenian immigrants on Ellis Island in New York.
What are we being told? Even before the war
began, conditions were so grim, the missionary herself became a victim of disease
— which was not as serious a problem as it would be during the war years. Famine
was the true culprit, however, during this pre-war stage. (Pre-WWI, that is; the
Ottoman Empire had its hands full with three other wars during this period, two in
the Balkans and one with Italy.) Both of these killers would become exacerbated as
WWI began; in the case of famine, because few men were left to till the fields after
mobilization. The British naval blockade was so successful, people began to drop
like flies from hunger, without discrimination. The disease tolls, likewise, hit the
Ottoman Empire worse than the other nations involved in the conflict. Yet, when the
Armenians died of these conditions that affected everyone, they became victims of
A comparison of soldiers who died of disease
— American: 60,800. British: 108,000; French: 179,000; German: 166,000; Russian:
395,000. None suffered more than the Turks; General Harbord believed 600,000 were
killed from typhus alone; about half of the 2.5 million man army was admitted to
often inadequate hospitals and infirmaries. Deaths from disease exceeded battle
losses. And these are the results for the soldiers, the difference between life and
death for the nation. Civilians, who were treated with less priority, were a
Fighting had erupted 200 miles
away on the Russian Front and a typhus epidemic was raging in the town of Erzerum.
The Sivas mission offered to send a Red Cross unit to assist in caring for the sick
and wounded until reinforcements arrived from greater distances. Thus, Graffam left
Sivas for Erzerum with a small party consisting of the mission's doctor, two nurses,
and a pharmacist, to volunteer as a nurse for a Red Crescent Hospital on the frozen
Russian Front. "I did not go to help the Turks particularly," she recalled
in 1919, "I went to work with the Turks, thinking that possibly I could get on
the good side of some of the pashas, and it might help us later on, for I felt the
time was coming when we would need such help."
What kind of a "Christian" was Mary
Graffam, anyway? Here are these poor Turkish soldiers (of whom even her ABCFM
colleague Dr. Clarence Ussher reported: "the Turkish soldier...was not
protected from heat and cold, nor from sickness") who had nothing to do
with the diabolical "genocide" plans that Graffam was a
"witness" to, and she only decided to help the Turks to get leverage for
the people who really counted in her good book, the Christian Armenians. This is a
typical attitude of the false Christian missionaries; the Muslims simply did not
rate as equal human beings, in contrast to the teachings of Jesus:
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there
is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in
Christ Jesus." (Gal 3.28)
apparently never forgot Graffam's hospital services during this early phase of the
war. They continued to send her letters of appreciation until the time of her death,
she received the decoration of the Red Crescent by Imperial Grade from the Turkish
government in 1917, and it appears likely that Turkish officers extended practical
favors to her during the remainder of the war that helped her to accomplish more
difficult and subversive missions that still lay ahead."
Billington Harper continues: "Early in 1915, after the military campaign had subsided, she
and one of the nurses, Marie Zenger, started back to Sivas. The inns were full of
soldiers dying of typhus and the roads were lined with dead and dying men and
horses." Doesn't that sound familiar to the bodies found on roads we
hear of in genocide accounts? The implication is that these were all Armenians, and
were "murdered." Yet, as early as 1915, we can see indications that the
Ottoman Empire was a graveyard. As conditions deteriorated and the situation became
more desperate later in the year, you can bet even more people died of famine and
disease. The ones accounted for here are soldiers, but famine and disease spared no
one. Billington Harper documents (p. 223): "Typhus was
rampant throughout north-eastern Turkey and sick and hungry deportees had begun to
arrive from the Black Sea coast." The question needs to be asked: of the
ones who died, what killed these "deportees"? (Let's keep in mind the
Ottoman government also "deported" some of its Muslim citizens out of the
"war zone" and these Ottomans "deported" themselves when the
Russians and Armenians invaded and acted in inhumane manner... to say nothing of the
Muslims who were truly "deported" forever from their lands in Russia, and
— among those who weren't slaughtered — later from Armenia.) Not to say there
weren't Armenians who couldn't keep up with the caravans and met a fatal end —
unfortunately, it was "1915" and it was the bankrupt, resource-challenged
"Sick Man of Europe." But the big picture is: Since most of the Armenians
died of famine and disease, the same for all other Ottomans (including the
soldiers), isn't it a despicable conclusion to conclude the cause of these deaths
must have been "murder"?
We're told "Michael
Frengulian and Rupen Racubian, both degree men from American colleges... were both
marked men, and would be in constant danger . . . Both were later murdered, one in
the deportation, the other was taken out of prison, in a systematic murder scheme,
by which two [sic] men a day were taken out of jail, escorted outside the
city by police, compelled to dig trenches, knocked in the head, stripped and buried.
These men were the picked leaders of the Armenian residents." The
source: Ernest and Winona Partridge, "Mary Louise Graffam: A Missionary
Heroine," from the ABCFM Individual Biographies, p. 9 [With the helpful
Billington Harper addition to the footnote, "Other sources suggest it was 200
men per day." Why not? The more the merrier.]
I'm not saying these men did not die; I wasn't
there, and neither were you. But let's examine the "murder" charges. One
died in the "deportation" (that word means banishment outside a country's
borders. The Armenians were not moved out of the country, but around
the country. "Deportation" is the choice word, because it sounds more
handily "evil"... like when the Russians deported over 700,000 Muslims
with the clothes on their back, kicking them out of their ancient homes forever, and
when the 1992 Armenians and Russians deliberately frightened away nearly a million
Karabagh Azeris [unlike the 1915 Armenians, who were allowed to return], and of whom the hypocritical and
bigoted Western world did not shed a single tear in the former case and almost none
in the latter.) How did one of these men die in the "deportation"? We're
not told. But if he died of famine or disease like everyone else was dying, how
irresponsible and dishonest of the Partridge missionaries to use the word
"murder." As far as the details regarding how the other one was killed...
was our dishonest missionary source actually there, with a front row seat? Of course
he was not. Did he have a motive to make the Turks look as bad as possible? Of
course he did.
Did these men deserve to be among those
arrested? Miss Graham makes them out to be the finest men, brave and generous.
Perhaps they were... but chances are they weren't so innocent. College professors
from... America? The greatest mischief in this "genocide" episode was
created by foreign Armenians; imagine those connected with missionaries. The mission
schools, whether they intended on doing so or not, fostered discontentment and
subversion among the previously satisfied Armenians. The Protestant missions made
trouble for the Sultan as well as for the Armenian church. The missionaries often
thought of themselves as meddling consuls. If anything, "enlightened"
Armenians from America were not going to able to restrain themselves from especially
adding fuel to the revolutionary spirit.
WHAT ELSE WAS HAPPENING IN SIVAS?
uprisings seen in the neighbouring provinces after the declaration of war were
equally seen in Sivas and its environs. An Armenian priest by the name of
Seponil from the village of Yayci in the district of Karahisar visited
villages on the pretext of collecting aid for the Church, gathered Armenians
and said to them"
"The Ottomans entered the war in which they will be
defeated. Russians will soon enter Erzurum, and come up to here. Russians will
beat the Army in front, we in the rear. The hour has come to use the arms that
we had distributed to you in time."
"...Large scale incidents were preventedin the region thanks to the
necessary measures taken by the government in time, yet Armenians still
committed massacres and atrocities in the region." (From Archive
Documents about the Atrocities and Genocide Inflicted Upon Turks by
The Sivas governor in an internal telegram (never meant to be released
publicly, and therefore can not be construed as propaganda) wrote on April 22,
1915, two days before the Armenians' cherished "Date of Doom":
to the statement of the suspects who were caught, the Armenians have armed
30,000 people in this region,15,000 of them have joined the Russian Army, and
the other 15,000 will threaten our Army from the rear..."
from the mouth of an Armenian prisoner, and all of these Armenians originated
from just one region of the Ottoman Empire... putting into plan their
did the locals handle such a threat?
conscription of all Turkish men up to the age of 50 years old had left the
local villages practically unprotected and vulnerable to Armenian
depredations. This condition made hunting down the rebels problematic. The
greater need by far, at least in Sivas, was simply to provide for the
protection of the Muslim villagers themselves, and the local Jandarma were
hard pressed to accomplish this." ("Ordered to Die: A
History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War," Edward J. Erickson)
Dr. Hamparsum Boyajian
of the leaders of the Sivas rebels was the notorious MURAD, a Hunchak terrorist
behind many of the rebellions of the 1890s. He had become an Ottoman
Parliamentarian, quitting in 1915 to
betray Ottoman Armies, as he directed guerilla wars from the Yildiz Mountains.
It looks like there may have been two Murads, both from Sivas. Still checking
this; the one referred to here may not have been Boyaciyan.)
to this internal army
report, every Armenian over 13, based on confessions by Armenians,
were forced to enroll in Armenian committees as functionaries or
soldiers... in Van, Bitlis, Erzurum, Karahisar, and second most important
cities, Sivas, Kayseri, and Diyarbekir.
"We know from both
documentary evidence and statistics that inter-communal warfare between
Christians and Muslims was a major cause of death. The province of Sivas,
for example, was not in the war zone; the Russian army never reached that far.
180,000 of the Muslims of Sivas died." (Justin McCarthy.)
By the way: let's take a look
at the "genocide map" that this chapter's book, "America and the
Armenian Genocide of 1915" made sure to include. See where Sivas is?
Smack-dab in the middle of the
country. Now when genocide advocates ask, "how come Armenians away from the
eastern war zone were deported," you'll know the answer. (For example, see Q.
17 of Dennis Papazian's deceptive "What
Every Armenian Should Know.") The whole country was a war zone, with
treacherous Armenians lurking in every corner.
When the Armenians of Sivas
were ordered to give up their arms, Graffam remembered: A photographer in Sivas was
called to the Government House to photograph the collection of arms, but as they did
not make an impressive showing he was asked to return the next day when he noticed
that a great many pieces of Turkish ammunition had been added, and his photograph of
this last collection was used as official evidence that the Armenians were armed
against the Turks. (Miss Graffam's Own Story.)
We don't need Miss Graffam to tell us the
Armenians weren't armed. We know from many Western sources the Armenians were armed with secret caches of weapons,
uniforms, ammunition and even artillery, throughout the Empire. We know from a
Dashnak minister in Tiflis that the Russians provided a quarter-million rubles for
the initial cost of arming the Armenians. We know the
wealthy and prosperous Armenians could afford the most sophisticated guns and
rifles, such as the Mauser, which worked like machine guns. If Armenians were asked
to surrender their arms, we can be certain not everyone complied. But the specific
question to be asked here is, did Miss Graffam witness the "original" pile
of arms? Of course not. Who was in a position to view the alleged "before"
and "after" piles? Ottoman government officials. So who gave this
sensitive information to Miss Graffam... these Ottoman government officials?
Did author Susan Billington Harper even
consider the holes in this, and all the other stories? No, she did not. Why not?
153 - DISPATCHING
THE GENDARMERIE WHO ACTED INAPPROPRIATELY TO THE MILITARY COURT
[Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior to the governor of the sanjak of
Urfa, regarding court martial of the gendarmerie accompanying the convoys sent from
Urfa to Rakka, due to their inappropriate acts arising of negligence.] 28 Z. 1333 (6
Over a thousand Ottomans were convicted
of crimes against the life and property of Armenians during the war. At least twenty
officers were executed. More orders on the protection of Armenians may be read here.
Another set designed
to safeguard the lives of Armenians and their properties, found in the British
Archives (Sonyel, Shocking new documents, London,1975; F.O. 371/9158 E.5523) :
Article 21. Should emigrants be attacked on their journey or
in camps, the assailants will be immediately arrested, and sent to martial law court.
Article 22. Those who take bribes or gifts from the emigrants, or who rape the
women by threats or promises, or those who engage in illicit relations with them, will
immediately be removed from office, will be sent to the martial law court and will be
Not all these orders were followed; but
they prove the Ottomans' hearts were in the right place. As the "Witness to
Genocide" herself relates below, "Most of the
higher officials are at their wits end to stop these abuses and carry out the orders
which they have received, but this is a flood and it carries all before it."
"To subvert the constraints of censorship,
Graffam devised several strategies to improve communication with the outside world. First,
she utilized a code that would be recognizable to other members of her missionary
community but not to the censors."
Billington Harper spends several pages attempting to
make sense of these cryptic messages, when the meaning for most was open to
interpretation. Not that one needs to analyze these messages to see what was on Graffam's
mind, as she also had opportunity to send messages that were not censored (through
consular and diplomatic channels), and after the war, she let it all hang out in her
dictated "Miss Graffam's Own Story."
"The larger story of Graffam's
role as a valuable source of information to the American government, and of America's
response to her reports and to the reports of other missionaries, lies outside the scope
of this particular investigation," the author tells us,
adding in the footnote: "It remains an open question as to
whether Graffam was operating as an intelligence officer for the United States during the
war years. I was unable to unravel this issue, but further research may do so."
As the "deportations" began, Graffam
"Three times they came to us and
took away our men. Finally I became desperate and I decided to visit the prison, if
possible. I went to the Chief of Police (one of the ringleaders) and I was permitted to
visit the men, and this I did several times after that. This went for several weeks and
when all the men of importance were in prison, then the Vali called two or three of the
remaining men and the Armenian bishop, saying that on the following Monday (this was
Friday) the deportations would begin. The men were to go by one road and their families by
another. I was at the bank when I heard the news and went at once to the Vali, commander,
etc., trying to do something and was told that the Armenians were going to the Euphrates
valley, that was all."
While it was Billington Harper's intention to
highlight whatever bits of inhumanity, these accounts are interesting in how they deviate
from the usual Armenian propaganda. We're often told the men were all rounded up and
killed. Graffam also gives us the same conclusion, ultimately, but we can see it was not
an instantaneous process. Not only was there a "several weeks" of prison time
(why? If the idea was to kill them), but more importantly, Graffam was permitted to visit
these men on a somewhat regular basis. If the idea was to kill these men off, the
resource-challenged state would have had no reason to keep these men alive (by even
feeding them), and they surely would not have wanted a potential "witness to
genocide" to get the idea of what should have been terrible treatment. The Gestapo
surely did not permit foreign observers to visit the people that were taken away, no
matter how fluent the foreigner might have been in the German language:
"When arrest and deportation
orders were issued in Sivas, Graffam rushed to the Chief of Police and used her fluent
Turkish to persuade him to let her visit arrested Armenian men in prison. She then tried
unsuccessfully to persuade the Sivas Vali, Mora Bey, to release the men and to abandon
deportation orders. When these efforts failed, she simply announced to the Vali that she
would accompany the Armenians on the deportation, to see if they would really be as safely
cared for as he had claimed. "The Vali was very much surprised, but said
nothing," she wrote afterwards. Taking this as his consent, she began frantically to
prepare for departure with her students and teachers."
This is the most remarkable, genocide-busting
revelation in all of "Miss Graffam's Own Story." If the idea was to purposefully
exterminate these Armenians, it is inconceivable that a hostile foreign agent would have
been permitted to tag along... simply out of the realm of possibility.
"Graffam was allowed to proceed on a
deportation with 3,000 of her Armenian friends and college colleagues for five days, going
as far as the town of Malatia... She recalled: 'It was as a special favor to the Sivas
people who had not done anything revolutionary, that the Vali announced that the men who
were not yet in prison should go with their families.' ... During the next five days,
Graffam observed and partly experienced all the early stages of genocide: robberies,
deprivations of water and food, beatings, kidnappings."
Genocide is the act of intentionally and systematically destroying
members of a group, because they belong to that group. If one desires to prove genocide,
one needs to go a lot farther than dwelling on injustices that may take place for
different reasons. "Robberies, deprivations of water and food, beatings, kidnappings
" have happened ad infinitum throughout human history without the result being
"genocide." As I'm writing this in September 2005, an awful hurricane
("Katrina") has hit New Orleans, in Louisiana. Those who were too poor holed
themselves up in a sports stadium, and complete civil disorder resulted in the days to
follow. Robberies, deprivations of water and food, beatings, kidnappings, along with rape
and murder, were all experienced.
Nobody is denying the Armenians suffered awfully during the
relocation process. What is not proven is whether the central government intended for the
things that went wrong to have gone wrong. Graffam herself didn't believe so at the time
of the occurrences, as we'll soon examine. From what she has written, it doesn't sound
like the government agents, save for the bad gendarmes (assuming her account is to be
believed... Graffam was not an impartial witness), were complicit in the goings-on. (She
appears to have "revised" her views in 1919; we know how the Armenians and their
supporters feel about revisionists.)
"As they were still near home, she
believed that gendarmes protected them and 'no special harm was done.' However, by the
second night, 'we began to see what was before us': The gendarmes would go ahead and have
long conversations with the villagers and then stand back and let them rob and trouble the
people until we all began to scream, and then they would come and drive them away."
Was this a game? It doesn't sound like these chats — assuming they
took place — were within earshot, so whatever was discussed is open to speculation. How
many of us, first of all, would choose to be a party to torment helpless people because
the police ordered us to? Naturally, Graffam and her admirer (Billington Harper) are going
to prefer perpetuating the image of Turks as grossly immoral, and thus such bad behavior
would come naturally; however, another missionary was closer to the truth when he wrote:
"...[T]he Turks are vastly superior morally to the
Europeans... the Turks are vastly more moral respecting women than Europeans... One often
hears stories of the grossest immorality of the Turks, and he hears them just as often
Elder Tanner, “Who Can
be So Polite and Courteous As a Turk” from History of the Turkish Mission. (The
Mormon missionaries, themselves persecuted, were sometimes not as bigoted as Protestant
and Catholic ones).
However, what makes this story especially ridiculous is that the
gendarmes would allow these sadists to have their fun, and then "come and drive them away"... what in the
world was the point?
If the idea was to deprive the Armenians of their possessions so
that they may "die quicker," why would the state "share the wealth"
among the masses? To use a Holocaust parallel, most of us are aware of how meticulously
the Nazis stockpiled everything (of the Jewish arrivals at the camps) that was of worth.
Genocide zealots eager for Holocaust parallels always remind us one murder motive of the
Ottoman government was to plunder the wealth of the Armenians. Why then would the
gendarmes... who were presumably under "genocide orders"... have allowed
criminal gangs to cart away the loot?
[The men were collected and promised return]
"but the night passed and only one man came back from those who were taken, to tell
the story of how every man was compelled to give up all his money and were taken to
prison. The next morning they collected the men who had escaped the night before."
So all the men were taken away to prison (that's code for
"massacred") and the one who got away... rejoined the "death march"?
Was he out of his mind? (Note how first we are told only one man had escaped... but in the
last sentence, the ones who escaped suddenly became pluralized.)
We get horror stories as the following: "Although
officials at Hassan Chalebe extorted 45 liras from the Sivas company — now numbering by
Graffam's estimation perhaps 2,000 people — in return for the promise of protection from
5 or 6 gendarmes, no protection materialized. 'As soon as the men left us,' Graffam
recalled: the Turkish Arabajis began to rob the women saying 'you are all going to be
thrown into the Tokma Su [River], so you might as well give your things to us and then we
will stay by you and try to protect you.' Every Turkish woman that we met said the same
thing. The worst were the gendarmes who really did more or less bad things. One of our
school girls was carried off by the Kurds twice but her companions made so much fuss that
she was brought back."
I'm not sure I follow regarding the 5 or 6 gendarmes... the caravan
already had gendarmes, the ones who " did more or less bad
things." Were these supposed to be 5 or 6 "good" gendarmes? Even if
they were "good," if they were added to the already existing "bad"
gendarmes, were the gendarmes in each camp then going to be at each others' throats?
Another oddball notion regards the "Turkish Arabajis" who
demonstrated their bad intentions by robbing the people, and terrified them into thinking
they would all be murdered. Who would believe the bandits would make good on their promise
to "protect" the women? In addition, if the bandits were given a free hand to
rob these women, why would they need to "persuade" the women to give up their
goods? What was to stop the bandits from taking whatever they wanted? The logic here is as
loopy as Hitler needing to persuade his officers to rest easy with genocidal notions by explaining, "Who, after all, remembers
the extermination of the Armenians?" (As if the omnipotent and megalomaniacal
Fuehrer needed to rationalize his actions.)
Many thousands of Sivas' Armenian men had formed
bands. Since these caravans were guarded by only a handful of sometimes unprofessional
gendarmes, why weren't these Armenian men on guard, in case the Turks tried their familiar
"massacre" tricks? This is the question a
U.S. senator raised while the mandate was being considered, comparing with how men
from the USA would have behaved against a dominating force, if the Americans' women and
children were threatened.
"One of our school girls was carried off
by the Kurds twice but her companions made so much fuss that she was brought back."
I wonder why people inclined to rape and murder would have cared about that
Perhaps we are being asked to believe the Kurds were thieves with
honor, which probably had some truth:
"By now, Graffam was becoming truly
exhausted in her efforts to plead with persecutors. 'I was on the run all the time from
one end of the company to the other,' she wrote. Sometimes the slightest mercies from
Turkish and Kurdish persecutors produced in her an almost pathetic gratitude and even
admiration, similar to the apologetic and sympathetic feelings sometimes developed by
hostages for their hostage-takers. Graffam wrote grudgingly of her Kurdish persecutors
shortly after she was ordered to leave the deportation that 'My hat was very big and the
Kurds always made friends with me . . . These robbing murdering Kurds are certainly the
best looking men I have seen in this country. They steal your goods but not everything.
They do not take your bread nor your stick.'"
Regardless of how good-looking these Kurds were, they were
"murdering and robbing." If they, along with the gendarmes, were so out of
control, what prevented them from victimizing Miss Graffam herself? Who would have cared
if she happened to have, as Billington Harper explains, an "obviously
privileged status as the only foreigner present"?
"...[S]he also began to witness the
magnitude of the disaster that awaited the "thousands and thousands" of
deportees camping here: When we approached the bridge of the Tokmu Su it was certainly a
fearful sight. As far as the eye could see over the plain was this slow moving line of
oxcarts. For hours not a drop of water on the road and the sun pouring down its very
But the peculiar thing is, we are being led to believe all of these
people were marked for death. If the idea was to kill them off, what stopped the
"Nazi" Ottomans from doing so? Here, Graffam describes the basic necessities
having been denied, yet there were Armenians as far as the eyes could see.
More Kurdish action; from the episodes Graffam related, looks like
the Kurds got most of the rap:
"The Kurds working in the fields made
attacks continually ... I saw the Kurds robbing the bodies of those not yet entirely dead.
I walked or rather ran back and forth until we could see the bridge. In the midst of this
chaos, Graffam attempted to continue in her role as foreign advocate for the Armenian
exiles: The hills on each side of the bridge were white with Kurds who were throwing
stones on the Armenians who were slowly winding their way to the bridge. I ran ahead and
stood on the bridge in the midst of a crowd of Kurds until I was used up. I did not see
anyone thrown into the water, but they said and I believe that an Elmas that has done
handwork for me for years was thrown over the bridge by a Kurd. Our Bodville's wife was
riding on a horse with a baby in her arms and a Kurd took hold of her to throw her over
when another Kurd said 'She has a baby in her arms' and they let her go... The last day
before reaching the river the people were crazy for water. The Kurds would sell water to
them and if they liked the looks of any of the young girls, they would carry them off; if
they did not like them they killed them."
Got that? The pretty girls were enslaved. The rest were killed.
Logical result: Zero Armenian girls left.
No government involvement
Note how Billington Harper, our
"objective" author, relates the following; Graffam must obviously have
been mistaken in thinking the government was not to blame:
Despite increasing evidence of
Turkish government officials' complicity in the massacres occurring around her, when
Graffam was writing from Malaria on 7 August 1915, she was reluctant to accuse them
openly of murder. It is possible that she felt constrained simply by the possibility
of interception by censors. However, it is also likely (and perhaps understandable)
that she was finding it impossible to believe that a government would willingly
order the extermination of a portion of its own people. Graffam was, after all,
witnessing a disaster of unprecedented proportions. It was the first large-scale
modern genocide. In describing the Sivas Vali's decision not to allow her to
complete the journey to Ourfa with the Armenian exiles, she wrote on 7 August 1915:
"That seemed to me a very great mistake on the part of the government, for
although the horrors of the present situation among the Armenians are sufficient,
the false reports are so many, that a report of an eyewitness would have been
of value if I could have continued the whole way."
How amusing that Graffam regarded herself as an
impartial witness, helping to save face for the Ottoman government. What's more
interesting is that even she was aware of the depth of Armenian propaganda, alluding
to the many false reports.
At this early date, Graffam
still apparently believed that eyewitness reports of the deportations would benefit
the government by undermining "false reports" and she seemed almost
reluctant to draw the dire conclusions suggested by the orders from Constantinople
that forbade her to proceed to Ourfa. As she recognized the complexity of local
Turkish and Kurdish involvement in the crimes, noting that some seemed fully to
support actions against the Armenians while others were reluctant or even resistant
to the actions, she was also still hesitant to issue general condemnations against
the Turkish government. She had little way of determining the reliability of
explanations and reassurances being offered by local government officials with whom
she interacted during these desperate days. In August 1915, Graffam wrote (perhaps
with censors in mind, but perhaps also with some sincerity): "I am not in
any way criticizing the government. Most of the higher officials are at their wits
end to stop these abuses and carry out the orders which they have received, but this
is a flood and it carries all before it." From her limited perspective in
the midst of the first tragedy of this sort in history, and in response to repeated
denials of wrongdoing on the part of the many local officials with whom she spoke,
she was still at least partly willing to believe that the government was not behind
the crimes unfolding before her eyes.
"I am not in any way criticizing the
government. Most of the higher officials are at their wits end to stop these abuses
and carry out the orders which they have received, but this is a flood and it
carries all before it." Isn't that the concise description as to what
actually took place, as much as Susan Billington Harper desires to pooh-pooh it.
This was a resettlement the Turks reluctantly considered only after too many examples of Armenian rebellion
and treachery the moment
the ailing Empire entered the war in November 1914.... just as the revolutionary
leaders had planned. All the official orders had the safekeeping of the Armenians in mind. When the bankrupt country
hit hard by famine and disease at all corners needed to undertake the colossal task
of transporting hundreds of thousands, things were bound to go wrong. Particularly
in the midst of desperate wartime, with superpower enemies at every gate... a
shortage of manpower and resources, corrupt and/or revengeful locals and the chaos
of overall conditions all contributed to the tragedies that resulted. Yet, the
reality is: the majority of the Armenians survived. From a pre-war population of 1.5
million, the Armenian Patriarch reported up to 644,900 in the Empire after war's
end, and before the implementation of Sèvres. Add to this figure the hundreds of
thousands of refugees who made their way to other lands not controlled by the
Ottomans. For example, Richard Hovannisian estimated 50,000 in Iran and ten times
as many in Transcaucasia.
ELSE WHO BELIEVED IN NO GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT AND NO GENOCIDE:
"It is unlikely that a precise order to exterminate every
single Armenian came down from the ruling Turkish triumvirate of Tallat [sic]
Bey, Minister of the Interior, Enver Pasha, Minister of War, and Djemal
Pasha, Minister of the Navy. The responsibility of these men for
collective deportation is clear; but deportation — a time-honoured
strategy in nineteenth-century Turkey — while tantamount to death for
the old, the weak and the infirm, was not genocide."
Prof. Jay Winter, Editor of the propaganda book this
chapter was a part of. From his earlier work, THE GREAT WAR, 1996, Penguin
Books, P. 148. Here is an analysis of
his earlier views.
Yet, Billington Harper, in her haste to make her reader
believe it was all systematically planned, gives later examples from "Miss
Graffam's Own Story" that indicate her change of heart:
For instance [she recounted in
1919] there was a very deep ravine where the Turks used to cast the people and they
were killed, but the number of people who suffered this particular form of death was
very great so that finally the ravine became very full, and I know of two women who
were thrown in after this ravine was full and they were not killed. When they
regained consciousness they had to crawl through the dead bodies to get out.
Now this is the typical example of
orally-passed Armenian horror story that goes off the deep end.... as with this one, where another missionary
related that "The Turks also took all the babies in the town and threw them
into the river until it overflowed its banks." (Or this one, where an Armenian
related that yet another missionary saw "corpses... piled high to the top of
the trees.") Remember: as proven in their prayers from the period, the
missionaries' Godly mission was to vilify the Turk. Even if some were more
pure-hearted, it must have been irresistible for them to believe just about any
fantastic account told by their beloved Christian Armenians.
How many bodies would it take to fill up a
ravine, or to cause a river to overflow? The numbers would be, for all practical
purposes, "astronomical." Where did all of these ravine bodies go? Nobody
was going to take a shovel to bury these bodies, especially if they had been left at
a ravine for such a long time. Since these mass murders occurred outside today's
borders of modern Turkey, why haven't they been excavated? Since the mortality was
"1.5 million," how insurmountable would it be (with the Armenians' deep
pockets) to dig up a few thousand of these bones? Why haven't the Armenians given it
a go these many years? The Turks performed many excavations, a sampling of the
half-million that were killed from Armenian (and some Russian) treatment. Those like
Susan Billington Harper don't care about these "less human" victims, of
The Turkish Government has repeatedly
been accused of trying to “end the Armenian question by ending the
Armenians,” but the evidence of many persons who travelled through the
country shortly after the previous disturbances is, that with very rare
exceptions only able-bodied men were slain, and not the women, children, or
aged. This in itself would confirm the opinion that the measures were purely
repressive and, however severe, were taken in the interest of public safety.
Unfortunately the Turk never deigns to
explain his own case, and thus the pro-Armenians always manage to hold the
field, appalling the public by incessant reiteration and exaggeration as to
the number of victims, and apparently valuing to its full extent the wisdom of
the old Eastern proverb: give a lie twenty-four hours’ start, and it will
take a hundred years to overtake it. Later on, when the true figures become
available, only a very few inquisitive people realize the falsity of the
C. F. Dixon-Johnson, The Armenians, 1916
Graffam also gives a "personally
witnessed" massacre account in Malatia where "You
could tell where a massacre had taken place by the migration of birds and dogs,"
that Billington Harper provides to "prove" genocide. Whether or not this
particular account was true, nobody is denying there were massacres. But as "My
Lai" demonstrated, massacres do not always lead to "genocide." Who
were behind these massacres? Were they government agents, acting under orders?
Quite possibly, they were Kurds. On her trip
home to Sivas (where her Armenian driver was "taken away
and killed because a Turk had recognized his true identity, the Partridges add"):
"There are regular
places along the road where the official records of those who were killed were kept.
Accurate records were saved and when the Kurds killed the Armenians they kept a
record, and then went to these officially designated places to collect their money
which the government had promised."
That's the closest Graffam has come to
"genocidal proof." (Of course, hearsay is not factual proof, especially if
the source is a conflicted missionary.) It must have cost the bankrupt Ottomans a
fortune to pay the Kurds, who sound to have done such a complete job of
"annihilation." (I wonder what proof the Kurds needed to present, to
confirm the people killed? For example, in the Belgian Congo [toll: 10 million
killed, many mutilated], the proof was chopped-off right hands.) It's remarkable
that Miss Graffam managed to get the skinny on this confidential information... she
must have "befriended" a lot of Kurds and Turks. Or did she simply accept
the word of her beloved Armenians?
Here is where we can pin down Graffam's
The above comes from her 1919 account, Miss
Graffam's Own Story, as told to a stenographer. The information she provides is
of paramount importance... it demonstrates the government was involved. Yet for all
the opportunities she had to relay previous messages, from the censored variety to
the freely written "official reports" she released through consular and
diplomatic channels, she evidently did not reveal this critical information that she
"witnessed" all the way back in 1915. Quite the contrary, her 1915
accounts let the government off the hook. Can we imagine what a field day Morgenthau
would have had with some real genocidal proof, had the energetic missionary put her
mind to collecting the real evidence?
Perhaps the missionary was confusing the matter
with this other reward policy.
As she became more fervent in 1919, she might
well have been thinking her Godly duty was being served by making greater
incriminating statements. (Another 1919 example being the German
who foretold the "genocide" in 1914.) Shame on her, and shame on present
day partisans who pass off these reports as "fact."
"Back in Sivas, local
government officials presented her with a cruel ultimatum: either she stay in Sivas
to care for remaining orphans in the Swiss Orphanage, or the orphans would also be
deported. Graffam opted to stay. Her sister and brother-in-law, who had since
returned to America, believed that 'the underlying motive' for this government offer
'was the unwillingness to have her come back to America, and tell the story of the
deportations as she saw them.'"
At this point in the story, it appears there is
nothing to stop Graffam and the Partridges from making up all sorts of claims. If
these brutal Turks really wanted to seal Graffam's lips, the easiest thing to
arrange in what sounds like no man's land would have been a little
"accident." (After all, it is in the nature of "The Terrible
Turk" to kill... isn't it?)
"She also obtained
permission to begin visiting Armenian men in prison condemned to death by edict
without trial. These numbered between 1,000 and 2,000 (estimates vary). Every night,
between 100 and 200 of them were taken to a spot a few miles from the city where
they were 'compelled to dig trenches, disrobe, knocked in the head, [and] thrown
into the trenches and buried.' Graffam wrote: 'I went to the prison every night to
say good-bye to them.' In the case of imprisoned Michael Frengulian, the graduate of
Oberlin College and Professor of Mathematics who had earlier rescued her on the road
from Erezrum, she shared his agonized deliberations about whether to accept his
captors' offer to save his life by converting to Islam and teaching in a government
school. Frengulian refused the offer and Graffam returned the next morning to find
an empty prison cell..."
Looks like the monstrous Turks didn't even
bother to kill these Armenians... they appear to have been knocked in the head, and
buried alive. (I wonder who "saw" these events taking place... it
certainly was not our "eyewitness to genocide.") Graffam is pulling out
the stops, here. Funny how the Turks have spotted her to be a dangerous conveyor of
genocidal information, and yet they are still kind enough to grant her a pass to
prison. And what's Michael Frengulian doing, still behind bars after all this time?
(Earlier in this chapter — not related here — the reader was given the strong
impression [via Graffam's coded messages] Mike was already a goner.)
And there's the old "forced conversion to
Islam" bugaboo rearing its ugly, propagandistic head. Even some of those
Armenians who tried this "conversion" trick were not exempted from the
relocation process. This is the sort of "gold" that missionaries loved to
exploit for the Christian sympathizing masses back home. Noble Christian is given
one last chance to save his life, and he refuses... better to die than to be a
heathen! (Heck, I would have converted, and when the coast was clear, converted
back.) I wonder why the Ottoman Turks suddenly thought of the "forced
conversion" angle, when for six centuries, the Empire was famed for its
tolerance? (Maybe they figured the "forced conversion" of the
missionary-brainwashing, particularly in imperialist Christian-controlled colonies,
worked out to be an advantageous deal... what did "tolerance" get the
Ottomans, after all? Much backstabbing, and the vicious slander that goes on to this
After the war, not
incidentally, a small fortune was spent by the puppet Ottoman government — in an
attempt to appease these unrelenting accounts of propaganda — to track down some
of these "victims" of forced conversion, to get them back to their
previous state. ("Even women who had
married Muslim men of their own accord were summoned one by one, and were asked
again if they had consented, and those who declared that they were pleased were left
to their wishes.")
It wasn't just the refugees who were exposed to famine. Take a
look at this Turkish victim "whom Armenians wanted
to kill by lighting a fire on his abdomen"; (Collection
of Photographs, First World War, Album no. 4,
Photo No. 69, Archives of the Department of Military
History and Strategic Studies, Turkish General Staff.)
It seems the good Christian missionary turned a blind eye
to the other skeletal sufferers.
Lt. General Sir W. N. Congreve
to Chief of Imperial General Staff,
General Sir Henry Wilson, Cairo, 19 October 1919:
"I did not see a thin
(Armenian refugee) amongst a
good many thousand I saw, and most looked cheery
too. The massacres seem to have been a good deal
"'At this time,'
Graffam remembered in 1919, 'I was like a skeleton and looked like a refugee myself.
I was half crazed, I could not be left alone, and yet I could not give in ...
because refugees were beginning to come from Marsovan and other places.' The needs
of refugees being so much greater than her own, Graffam once again became fully
absorbed in providing assistance, first to orphans and prisoners, and then also to
the many Armenian soldiers who had not yet been killed."
Now what are these refugees doing, coming back
so soon? (We don't know exactly what time frame this is, but I suspect perhaps
within a year after the "deportation" experience?)
And why weren't those Armenian soldiers killed
"They were not killed at
first and we had regiments of Armenian soldiers to care for. I knew every man in
every regiment and they used to come and see me until finally the Turks posted a
notice outside my yard and then caught and killed twenty Armenians who tried to get
to me. We were able to help them a little through the doctors."
On one hand, it sounds like the soldiers were
free to travel ("they used to come and see me")
and the next, twenty were killed... as if the Turks were looking for an excuse to
kill them? Let me repeat... why weren't they already killed? And let's not forget
the new question... why were these soldiers allowed to travel freely? (Weren't they
supposed to be put under a tight leash, marked for death?)
(Naturally, the epilogue to this tale is that
after a year and a half all the soldiers were put into prison, transported to "where they were needed" [Graffam learning of this through
the German consul], 2,000 killed, some converting to Islam, "Some of the soldiers hid in the mountains, in caves, and it was part
of our relief work to try and get food to them." Graffam tells us these
soldiers were shipped to "a certain place" that presumably was not
revealed, and yet she was still able to help the Armenian soldiers. I guess her
Armenian network must have been in the know, as to the location.)
But if these soldiers were allowed to travel
freely (and even of those who escaped, if otherwise), of the ones who went to the
mountains, how many decided to join the war that the Armenians had treacherously
declared against their own nation? There was already a huge network of rebels in
"...10s of thousands of Armenians of Sivas who formed chette bands
did not serve..."
Justin McCarthy, March 24, 2005,
in a speech before
theTurkish Grand National Assembly. The professor prefaced this statement with
the information that there were 50,000 Armenian men from the eastern "war
zone" who did not serve in the Ottoman army, men Enver Pasha was
depending on before he embarked on the disastrous Sarikamish campaign. (From
the autumn 1914 Dashnak conference in Erzurum, where
Ottoman-Armenians falsely promised their loyalty.) There were many more
Armenians from other regions, such as Miss Graffam's Sivas, who also avoided
conscription, or deserted. She gives the propagandistic idea that all the
Armenian men were killed, which is nonsense — otherwise, what took some
2,500 years to reach a worldwide population of 3 million could not have more
than doubled to 7 million, in less than a century.
What happened was that the men escaped in
droves to serve in the armies of the enemy, or to hit the Ottoman Army in the
back, from their mountain retreats. If Graffam was supporting these traitors
("it was part of our relief work to try and get food
to them"), she would certainly have been guilty of
"treason" (see next paragraph). But the main point here is that 10s of thousands of Sivas Armenians formed
chette bands (chettes were lawless gangs,
committing all kinds of mayhem.. like the Kurds Graffam provided examples of),
and Graffam deceptively makes not a single reference to this fact, in her zeal
to present the notion of martyred, innocent Christians. .
The 2,000 Armenian soldiers
put to death appears to be true. Some of the perpetrators paid for this crime, when
General Vehib instigated court-martial proceedings, and hanged a few of those
responsible. Strange, isn't it, that an Ottoman commander would do such a thing, if
there were truly a government-backed genocide policy?
Quite the contrary, Vehib Pasha was only
following his government's orders. Talat Pasha sent the following August 29, 1915
telegram to the Governors of Hüdaverdigar, Ankara, Konya, Izmit, Adana, Maras,
Urfa, Halep, Zor, Sivas, Kütahya, Karesi, Nigde, Mamuretülaziz, Diyarbekir,
Karahisar-i Sahib, Erzurum and Kayseri Provinces and sub-Provinces:.
"The purpose of the Government regarding the moving of Armenians from their
original settlements is to prevent their anti-governmental actions; and to
discourage their ambitions of establishing an Armenian State. Their massacre is
completely out of question; on the contrary the safety of the groups during
immigration should be ensured; and while measures for their catering should be
taken, the 'Immigrants Allocation' should be used to meet the cost. Armenians who
are allowed to stay in their original settlements should not be relocated
afterwards. As it was stated before the immigration of the dependents of military
forces; Protestant and Catholic Armenians; and artisans (in accordance with the
need) are definitely prohibited by the Government severe legal measures. Against
the gendarmes and government officials who attack the immigrating groups or those
who lead such attacks severe legal measures should be taken and such individuals
should immediately be Court-Martialed. Relevant provincial and sub-provincial
authorities shall be held responsible for such events." (DH. EUM 2. Branch,
68/80; see this page's bottom for source.)
Let's bear in mind no Armenians were tried for
the slaughter of the same number of Turkish prisoners, as reported by Ohanus
Appressian in "Men Are Like
That" (p. 132):
In this movement we took with
us three thousand Turkish soldiers who had been captured by the Russians and left on
our hands when the Russians abandoned the struggle. During our retreat to Karaklis
two thousand of these poor devils were cruelly put to death. I was sickened by the
brutality displayed, but could not make any effective protest. Some, mercifully,
were shot. Many of them were burned to death. The method employed was to put a
quantity of straw into a hut, and then after crowding the hut with Turks, set fire
to the straw. One thousand of these prisoners were spared because it was known in
Europe that we had inherited a large number of them from the Russians, and that no
doubt an accounting would have to be made for them some day. The thousand who were
spared were later liberated, as we had no means of caring for prisoners. No doubt
they again took up arms against us; so in a way the killing of the two thousand was
We're told "Graffam
was tried for treason and narrowly missed death by execution." She must
have been cleared of all charges, since it doesn't sound like she faced any
that she would surely, sooner or later, suffer death at the hands of the Turks for
she was continually persecuted and interfered with in her relief work. She
determined to call her life as dearly as possible. Having reached this conclusion
deliberately, she lost all fear and pursued her plans, disregarding all the
obstacles put in her way. She constantly appealed to the officials citing their own
religion, 'What will you say at the Day of Judgment?' The Turks could not understand
her and became afraid of her."
It appears the Turks kept cowering in her wake:
After the war, Graffam was well
placed to assume leadership of the Sivas Unit of the Near East Relief, which had
been incorporated by an act of the United States Congress. Eventually, Graffam
directed a staff of twenty Americans in bringing supplies and assistance by railroad
to returning deportees and other victims of the war. Rumors of her influence became
widespread in the region. When a representative of an Armenian relief organization
was approaching Sivas early in 1919, he struck up a conversation with a refugee:
"How are the Armenians in Sivas," he asked? "Oh they are safe,"
was the reply. "How so," asked the American? "Miss Graffam is in
Sivas, and the Turks are all afraid of her," was the reply.
After an Armenian surgeon ("one of the best in whom she had complete confidence")
operated on her once she fell ill, she died (although we're told "The operation was successful," in a classic case of the
old gag, "The operation was a success, but the patient died"; to
Billington Harper, the Armenians can do no wrong) on August 23 [or the 17th], 1922,
"mourned by the thousands whose lives she had saved and
for whom she gave her own."
from one of Miss Graffam's students
Get set for an
example of "Armenian Oral History":
"With their puritanical, evangelical
zeal, these same missionaries set out to enlighten the Armenians, who had already
practiced Christianity in their Armenian Orthodox churches.
Throughout twenty centuries of religious wars and persecution, the Armenians had held
fast to their Christian beliefs. This division caused by these missionaries created a
separation in the church, a division the Armenian people did not need at such a time.
Miss Mary Graffam, a missionary from the United States, was director of the American
Girls School of Sivas. Soon, she became the favorite teacher of many of us girls in
Sivas. She left her home in Andover, Massachusetts, and came to Turkey at the age of
thirty. In June 1891, she had graduated from Oberlin College where she majored in
mathematics. Her decision to go to Turkey as a missionary found her in Sepastia in the
autumn of 1901. For twenty years, she taught stories from the Bible that made the
characters come alive. She was the principal who counseled and encouraged me in my
studies. From her, I learned the Old and New Testaments.
The missionaries, who wrote about us Armenians in their letters to America, watched,
to their horror, our starvation, disease and death by torture. They tried to help as
best they could . . . to no avail.
We heard that from 1915 to 1921 Miss Graffam joined the Armenian women on the march to
Malatia, enduring the same hardships. Her already declining health suffered.
Friends told me that the Turkish government interfered with her wish to be part of the
march because they did not want any American witnesses. She described her eyewitness
account of these infernal events in the "Missionary Herald" issue of
December 1915. She would complain to the Turks over and over, Asvadsma Ga (There is a
God)' to no avail. They stripped her and beat her over and over. Soon afterwards,
she died. According to her wishes, they buried her in Sepastia, in the garden
adjoining the Girls' School. Forty-two students from her orphanage sang over her
Naturally (in the
third-from-last paragraph) the missionaries wrote about the Armenians'
"starvation, disease and death by torture"... even though the last item
was nothing they could have directly witnessed. The "starvation, disease and
death" of Muslims didn't matter.
As for the last
paragraph, if the Ottoman (here it's "Turkish") government was afraid they
"did not want any American witnesses," why did they allow Graffam to be
part of the march... that the author herself reveals in the previous paragraph?
(Where we are told "Graffam
joined the Armenian women on the march"; we know from Graffam's
own story there were men as well as women.) The author does not even make an attempt
at explanation. But, of course, friends told her, and it's always good enough
for pro-Armenians to be told.
Otherwise, what good would the hearsay of "Armenian Oral History" serve?
We get a good taste of the worth of such "Armenian Oral History" ... from
the author, we learn Graffam's repeated beatings (of course, she would have needed
to be stripped first, by the Lustful,
Terrible Turks) led to her death.
My Mother's Will to Survive," by Alice Tashjian. A friend of the
author's revealed on an Internet forum that Ms. Tashjian once had lunch with Bernard
Lewis, and the friend assured readers that Prof. Lewis had difficulty sleeping that
night. I can assure you if such were the case, a guilty conscience would have had
nothing to do with it. Prof. Lewis must have been hit with a bad case of "Armenius
Miss Graffam's Own Story, with the help of
the accounts of her missionary relatives, tells us — in true missionary fashion
— that the Turks were trying to knock off every Armenian in sight. While she let
the Ottoman government off the hook at first, she must have "revised" her
views, particularly with that bit where she wrote the government paid the Kurds to
do the killing work. Assuming she believed in what she wrote, or whether she was
doing her Godly duty... hearsay does not constitute factual evidence, regardless of
how much her doting mini-biographer loves to accept every claim at face value.
Those who wish to get to the bottom of the real
facts can't afford to form conclusions on the strength of religious
"faith"... the real truth-seeker must consider "reality." As
much as missionaries and current day genocide advocates zealously press the notion
that there was a full-fledged extermination policy going on, the reality is that the
majority of Armenians survived. If the idea was for the government to murder all the
Armenians, the representative of Armenian Protestants, Zenop Bezjian, could not have
told Ambassador Morgenthau (in Sept. 1915)
that the "Armenians at Zor were fairly well satisfied; that they have
already settled down to business and are earning their livings; those were the first
ones that were sent away and seem to have gotten there without being
Morgenthau was told half a million Armenians
were displaced, and Toynbee reported the same number of survivors by early April of
1916 ["Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire"]. The previous
month, Vahan Cardashian (in a letter to Lord Bryce) quoted Morgenthau as having said
the Ottoman attitude toward Armenians was passive and that the "Armenians
were found in good numbers in almost all the interior cities of Turkey." [The
Armenian Review, Winter 1957, p. 107.] The Nazis kept chugging along with their
extermination efforts well into the final days of WWII. The Ottomans stopped the
resettlement policy in 1916, and allowed the refugees to return at war's end.
Mary Louise Graffam observed a very brutal
period of human history, where everyone suffered.... but because of her extremist
agenda and faith-based partisanship (as we read above,
Hovannisian wrote, "No witness advocated Armenian
independence more fervently than Mary Louise Graffam"), she dishonestly chose to highlight only one side of the story. She
was a witness to suffering, the exclusive suffering of the people she deemed most
valuable, while ignoring the suffering of those who did not measure as much on (her
idea of) the humanity scale. Only to those who champion propaganda could she be
labeled a "witness to genocide."