Tall Armenian Tale


The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


  The Story Behind Ambassador Morgenthau's Story  
First Page


Major Players
Links & Misc.


Mahmut Ozan
Edward Tashji
Sam Weems


Professor Heath W. Lowry
The ISIS Press, İstanbul - Turkey, 1990


With Thanks to www.eraren.org


Why Was Ambassador Morgenthau's Story Written?

ANY examination of the genesis of the Morgenthau 'Story,' must begin by focusing on a letter the Ambassador addressed to his friend and confidant, United States President Woodrow Wilson, on November 26, 1917. For it is in this previously unpublished letter that Morgenthau set forth both his idea of writing a book, and his aims and objectives in desiring to do so. He combined his concept with an appeal for the President's 'blessing' as it were for his proposal. Given the fact that his sole aim was fostering public support for the United States war effort by writing a work of anti-German, anti Turkish propaganda which would "win a victory for the war policy of the government," he not surprisingly received it. He couched his idea to Wilson in the following terms:

"...Greatly discouraged at the amount of outright opposition and the tremendous indifference to the war, as well as by the lack of enthusiasm among the mass of those who are supporting the war...

I am considering writing a book in which I would lay bare, not only Germany's permeation of Turkey and the Balkans, but that system as it appears in every country of the world. For in Turkey we see the evil spirit of Germany at its worst - culminating at last in the greatest crime of all ages, the horrible massacre of helpless Armenians and Syrians. This particular detail of the story and Germany's abettance of the same, I feel positive will appeal to the mass of Americans in small towns and country districts as no other aspect of the war could, and convince them of the necessity of carrying the war to a victorious conclusion...

We must win a victory for the war policy of the government and every legitimate step or means should be utilised to accomplish it."1

In its simplest form, this study intends to evaluate the ensuing work from the perspective of whether or not, as written, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story exceeds or adheres to his own criteria of utilising "every legitimate means" to reach his stated goal of convincing the "mass of Americans" to support the war.

Within a year of the date of Morgenthau's letter to Wilson, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, as the work he proposed was eventually titled, had been written; serialised in monthly installments in one of America's best-known magazines, The World's Work (circulation: 120,000);2 appeared in over a dozen of the country's largest newspapers with a combined circulation of 2,630,256; 3 released with great fanfare as a book by Doubleday, Page & Co.,4 and already accumulated sales of several thousand copies (by July 1st of the following year those sales would reach 22,234 copies).5



In short, Morgenthau's goal of contributing to America's war effort by authoring a book which would in his words, "appeal to the mass of Americans in small towns and country districts as no other aspect of the war could,"6 had been attained in a manner which must have exceeded even his wildest expectations. Indeed, no sooner had World's Work begun its installments of the book's opening chapters in May,1918, than Morgenthau received an offer from Hollywood for the film rights of his 'story,' an offer companied by the promise of $25,000 for said rights. After initial excitement, and the writing of a basic film treatment,7 Morgenthau's enthusiasm for a career in the movies cooled following receipt of a second letter from President Wilson which expressed his disapproval in no uncertain terms. Wilson wrote:

"I appreciate your consulting me about the question whether the book shall be translated into motion pictures, and I must frankly say that I hope you will not consent to this... Personally I believe that we have gone quite far enough in that direction. It is not merely a matter of taste, -I would not like in matters of this sort to trust my taste; but it is also partly a matter of principle... There is nothing practical that we can do for the time being in the matter of the Armenian massacres, for example, and the attitude of the c (? Country?) toward Turkey is already fixed. It does not need enhancement."8

Less than a year earlier it had been the approval of Wilson which Morgenthau sought prior to beginning the book project, and, indeed, it was only when Wilson had blessed the proposal and written: "I think your plan for a full exposition of some of the lines of German intrigue is an excellent one and I hope you will undertake to write and publish the book you speak of,"9 that Morgenthau responded positively to preliminary inquiries from Burton J. Hendrick of Doubleday, Page & Company's The World's Work, 10 and the project began to materialise. It would be somewhat surprising to find the President of the United States of America and an ex-Ambassador communicating on a topic of this nature. But, this was wartime and, as the Morgenthau-Wilson correspondence illustrates, from its inception, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story was conceived as an integral part of 'President Wilson's Story' as well. It was a desire to increase support for Wilson's war effort which prompted Morgenthau to write an anti-German, anti Turkish work, which would convince the American public of the "necessity of carrying the war to a victorious conclusion,"11 In other words, as envisaged by Morgenthau, his 'story' was intended as wartime propaganda, i.e., as a contribution to the Entente war effort. It is against this background that we must attempt to examine how and by whom the book was actually written, as well as the larger questions concerning the accuracy or lack thereof of the 'story' it purports to tell.


The largest public collection of papers relating to the life and career of Ambassador Henry Morgenthau (1856-1946), is preserved in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Housed in the Library's 'Manuscript Division; under the title 'The Papers of Henry Morgenthau; they consist of approximately 30,000 items which are made available to researchers in the form of a set of 41 reels of microfilm. In the present study references to materials in this collection will be given in the following format: LC: PHM-Reel No. -followed where applicable (as in the case of correspondence) by a date. In the case of the present document, the citation is LC: PHM-Reel No. 8 - HM letter to President Woodrow Wilson of November 26,1917.

The World's Work was a monthly publication owned in this period by Doubleday, Page 8z Co., the New York publishers. Beginning in its Apnl,1918 edition with an article by Burton J. Hendrick entitled: "Ambassador Morgenthau's Story-Introductory Article,' this periodical serialised in seven installments (which ran between May and November), the Morgenthau book. To Professor Robert J. Rusnak of Rosary College in Illinois, I am indebted among other things, for the circulation figures of The World's Work. Prof. Rusnak's doctoral dissertation was devoted to a study of this journal and its impact.

The second major collection of Morgenthau Papers is housed in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York, as part of the collection titled: The Papers of Henry Morgenthau, Jr ;' Ambassador Morgenthau's only son who served for many years as a member of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Cabinet. This collection, comprising some 414 linear feet, is divided into eleven series, of which Series nos.8 and 10 contain papers relating to Ambassador Morgenthau. Specifically Scries No. 8, the 'Gaer File; is material collected by Joseph Gaer, Morgenthau Junior's collaborator in his unpublished autobiography. In this series we find a typed transcript of all correspondence between Ambassador Morgenthau and his son. Material in this series which is cited in this study, will appear as: .FDR: HMJ/Gaer-Box No. . Series No.10 is titled the 'Papers of Henry Morgenthau, Sr.' and consists of some 10 linear feet of primarily business and personal correspondence. When cited in this study, items from this collection will appear as: FDR: HMS-Box No.

The circulation figures for the newspapers which published Ambassador Morgenthau's Story are found in a letter from Frank Doubleday of Doubleday Page & Co. (Morgenthau's publisher), to Henry Morgenthau, Sr. of October 17,1918 (FDR: HMS - Box No.12). This letter was originally accompanied by a list of the actual papers which were running the serialised version of the book. Unfortunately, this list is lost or separated from the letter.

Having worked in Libraries and Archives in a number of countries, I would b&127; remiss were I not to express my thanks and appreciation to the staff of the Roosevelt Library, who made my all too brief stay in Hyde Park a working pleasure. In particular my research benefited from the gracious assistance provided by Ms. Susan Y. Elter, an Audiovisual Archivist at this facility.

FDR:HMS-Box1)To.12 (Letter of October 17,1918 from Doubleday to Morgenthau) mentic Zs that the publisher has arranged windows in Macy's, Brentano's, Wanamaker's, Scribner's, etc., in addition to sending out advance copies of the book and various publicity releases.

The third major collection of materials utilised in this study, arc the personal papers of the late Burton J. Hendrick. Hendrick, a distinguished author and journalist was the individual who actually 'ghosted' the Morgenthau book. Through a New York Times obituary (March 25, 1949), which detailed the life and achievements of Hendrick, I was able to trace his grandson, a Hobart Hendrick, Jr. of Hamden, Connecticut, who most graciously answered all my queries. He, in turn, put me in touch with a cousin, Martha Rusnak of Winfield" Illinois, whose husband, Robert Rusnak, a professor of History at Rosary College, has actually written on his wife's grandfather. Professor Rusnak most kindly provided me copies of a number of documents from the 'Papers of Burton J. Hendrick; which are in their collection. Those included correspondence between Morgenthau and Hendrick, and, in particular an unpublished Rusnak study on Hendrick, called: "'To Cast Them in the Heroic Mold': Court Biographers - The Case of Burton Jesse Hendrick." Professor Rusnak also informed me that Hendrick had participated in the Columbia University Oral History Project and been interviewed by Alan Nevins shortly before his death in 1949. Material cited in this study from the Hendrick materials supplied by Prof. Rusnak will appear as: Hendrick/Rusnnk together with a description of the actual item being referred to.

The sales information figures given here are found in a handwritten document in the Hendrick/Rusuak papers which is headed: "Statement of Profit and Loss to July l,1919 on 'Ambassador Morgenthau's Story' by Henry Morgenthau:' This document, apparently written by Morgenthau himself, shows sales as of that date totalling 22,234 copies.

LC: PHM - Reel No. 8 : HM Letter to President Woodrow Wilson of November 26,1917.

Hendrick/Rusnak Among the material provided by Robert Rusnak relating to the Morgenthau-Hendrick collaboration, is a typed 8 page document titled: "Proposal for a Moving Picture on tho Near East, Based to a Considerable Extent on Ambassador Morgenthau's Story." Across the top of this document is the following handwritten note: "This great scheme (for which the moving picture people o f offered us $25,000) was busted by the was suddenly coming to an end! B.J.H."

LC: PHM - Reel Nu. 8: President Woodrow Wilson letter to Henry Morgenthau of June 14,1918. The emphases in this quotation and throughout this study are the present author's.

LC: PHM-Reel No. 8: President Woodrow Wilson letter to Henry Morgcnthau of November 27,1917. Interestingly, whereas Morgenthau's November 26,1917 letter to Wilson has never been published, he did include the President's answer in his 1922 autobiography, All In A Life-Time. New York (Doubleday, Page 8z Co.),1.922. p.297, and cites it as the reason he wrote his book.

FDR:HMS - Box No. 11 : Frank Doubleday letter to Henry Morgenthau of November 7,1917; Henry Morgenthau letter to Frank Doubleday of November 12,1917 in which Morgenthau states:

"Since Mr. Hendrick called upon me I have again carefully considered the advisability of writing a book about my experiences in Turkey and have now definitely concluded that this is not the time to publish it:' However, upset by lack of public support for the war, two week later he asked the President's blessing and following receipt of Wilson s November 27,1917 letter changed his mind and immediately entered into serious negotiations with the publisher. See also: Frank Doubleday letters to Henry Morgenthau of 23 November and 5 December 1917, and Arthur Page to Henry Morgenthau letters of 8 December and 20 December 1917. By the latter date, all contract arrangements for the book had been completed.

LC:PHM-Reel No. 8: HM Letter to President Woodrow Wilson of November 26, 1917.

  Whose 'Story' is it?


Our sources for the history of Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, are two collections of surviving Morgenthau papers, one housed in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., which is known a 2 The Papers of Henry Morgenthau (Hereafter: LC: PHM),12 and the other, part of the Henry Morgenthau, Jr. Papers in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York (Hereafter: FDR: HMS).13 These two collections, which comprise literally tens of thousands of documents, must be supplemented by a wide variety of published and unpublished materials, the most important of which are the papers of the well-known Pulitzer Prize winning journalist,l4 biographer and historian, Burton J. Hendrick. 14 For, not only did Ambassador Morgenthau need the approval of President Woodrow Wilson to proceed with the plan for the book which bears his name, more importantly he needed the skilled hand of Burton J. Hendrick, to actually write the work in question. In point of fact, it appears that the actual concept of the book originated in the mind of Hendrick, who first suggested it to Morgenthau in April of 1916.15 It is through an examination of several thousand letters and documents in the above-mentioned collections that eventually the rather murky origins of the work in question emerge. To unravel the many threads which went into Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, we must begin by discussing the various sources upon which it was based.

First and foremost, is a typed-transcript called 'Diary' which covers the actual period of Morgenthau's sojourn in Istanbul (Constantinople), that is, the period from November 27, 1913 (the date of Morgenthau's arrival in the Ottoman Capital), to his departure from Turkey on February 1,1916,16 a period of twenty six months. From internal evidence, in particular Morgenthau,s comments about dictating to his secretary, a Turkish Armenian named Hagop S. Andonian,17 it appears that on a regular basis Morgenthau related his day's experiences to Andonian, who in turn typed them up for posterity. Though extremely detailed, in particular as regards his contacts with the Young Turk leaders, Said Halim Pasha, Enver Pasha, and Talaat Bey, the version of events recorded in his daily 'Diary' entries often bears little relationship (as will subsequently be demonstrated) to the descriptions of the same meetings and discussions narrated in Ambassador Morgenthau's Story. Despite this problem 9 there can be no doubt ; that the key source material upon which the book was based is the daily record preserved in the 'Diary.'

In addition to his 'Diary,' and based primarily upon it, Morgenthau was in the habit of writing a lengthy 'round robin' type weekly letter to various members of his family back home in the United States. 18 These letters were likewise prepared by Hagop S. Andonian, Morgenthau's personal secretary, and indeed often, as Morgenthau tells us in a letter of May 11,1915, actually written by him:

"I have really found it impossible to sit down and dictate a letter quietly. So I have instructed Andonian to take my diary and copy it with some elaborations of his own. Of course this relieves me of all responsibility for any errors."19

It was then a combination of the Morgenthau 'Diaries' and 'letters' which served as the basic raw material out of which the work was ultimately assembled. These two sources were supplemented in some instances by copies of actual reports received by Morgenthau in Constantinople, or dispatched by him to Washington, D.C.20 Stated differently, these formed the skeletal framework upon which the finished product was to be hung.

With this background in mind we must now turn to an examination of the actual manner in which the book was written, and to the even more complex question of by whom it was written. In this regard, in each and every edition, the author appeared solely as: Henry Morgenthau. And today, seventy two years after its appearance, no one has ever suggested in print that anyone but Morgenthau authored Ambassador Morgenthau's Story.21 Despite this fact, there are abundant clues scattered about in the surviving Morgenthau material to provide us hints as to the identity of the work's actual author. First and foremost, is an acknowledgment made by Morgenthau in the 'Preface' to both the book's American and British editions, where he wrote: "My thanks are due to my friend, Mr. Burton J. Hendrick, for the invaluable assistance he has rendered in the preparation of this book."22 This acknowledgment is, to say the least, an understatement. For in point of fact, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story emerged from the pen of Burton J. Hendrick, with the editorial assistance of a large number of individuals, including Morgenthau himself. In addition, he was assisted by his Armenian secretary Hagop S. Andonian who followed Morgenthau to the States and lived with him throughout the period in which the book was under preparation.

Very little is known concerning the life of Hagop S. Andonian. In numerous appearances of his name in both the 'Diary' and 'Letters' he is generally referred to by Morgenthau as "my secretary," though on occasion he clearly fulfilled the role of "Dragoman," (translator) as well.23 The 'Diary' records the fact that he was a frequent guest at the Morgenthau table, and often accompanied the Ambassador to the movies in the evening. From a reference in Morgenthau's family 'Letter' of July 15, 191424, it appears that Andonian was a student at the American run Robert College around the turn of the century. A surviving photograph of the Embassy staff taken during Morgenthau's tenure, shows him to have been in his early thirties at that time. While nothing specific has apparently survived to shed light on the question of why he returned to the United States with the Morgenthaus, a 'Diary' entry for February 8, 1916 clearly establishes that he left Turkey with the Ambassador. On that date in describing a shipboard masquerade party en route to New York, Morgenthau records that his son "Henry was dressed as a Greek and Andonian as a Turkish lady. "25 Among the surviving Morgenthau correspondence is a copy of a letter addressed by the Ambassador on January 9, 1918 to the Honorable Breckenridge Long, Third Assistant Secretary of State, requesting that official's assistance in obtaining a deferment from military service for his secretary, Mr. Hagop S. Andonian. This letter includes the following paragraph:

"You probably know that with the approval of the President, I have undertaken to write a book. Mr. Andonian is assisting me in the preparation of that work and owing to his intimate knowledge of the east and his unusual experience, his services to me are really indispensable".26

This passage establishes three facts of interest: a) One reason for Andonian's being in the U.S. was to assist Morgenthau with the book; b) the actual work on the book had begun by the beginning of January 9, 1918, and, c) by 1918 Andonian was eligible for military service in the U.S.

There are also three short references to Andonian in Morgenthau's 1918 Diary/Appointments Calendar: 1) an entry for April 26, 1918 which reads: 'Dictated at Yale Club to Andonian and examined galley proofs of second instalment next book;' 2) an entry for April 17, 1918 reading: 'Dictated all day to Andonian and Hendrick and, 3) a two-word notice on September 9, 1918 which reads: 'Andonian left.'27 The next and final references to Andonian in the Morgenthau Papers are two handwritten letters dated December 16 1920 and December 24, 1920 28. Written from Istanbul on a letterhead bearing the names: 'Haig, Nichan, Hagop Andonian' and listing their role as agents for the 'Sun Insurance Company,' and as real estate brokers, Andonian writes to inquire about the truth of rumors then circulating in the Ottoman capital to the effect that Morgenthau is to be appointed by the U.S. President to mediate between the Kemalist and Armenian forces. Andonian offers his services to Morgenthau should these rumors prove true (they didn't).

To anyone familiar with Turco-Armenian history in the post war period, the question of a possible relationship between Morgenthau's Secretary Hagop S. Andonian and, Aram Andonian, the author of the collection of forged documents known as: The Memoirs of Naim Bey: Turkish Official Documents Relating to the Deportations and Massacres of Armenians, London (Hodder & Stoughton), 1920, immediately comes to mind. Both were natives of Istanbul and shared the rather uncommon surname of 'Andonian,' which raises the possibility that they may have indeed been related. To date, no additional information on this question has been uncovered.

Another key figure who had significant input in the preparation of the book was Arshag K. Schmavonian, yet another Turkish Armenian who, in 1918 was in the employ of the State Department in Washington, D.C. as a 'special adviser,' and who had worked as Morgenthau's interpreter in Istanbul and accompanied him in all meetings with Turkish officials. Schmavonian's role as friend confidant and adviser to Morgenthau both during and after his stay in Istanbul is easily traceable in the various surviving Morgenthau Papers. Indeed, almost from the day of his arrival in Turkey, Morgenthau relied upon Schmavonian as his eyes and ears in what must have seemed an alien environment given the fact that Morgenthau knew neither Turkish, French, Greek nor Armenian, the four principal languages spoken in the Ottoman Capital. Already, in a 1914 interview given shortly after his arrival in Turkey to a correspondent of The New York Herald, Morgenthau acknowledged his dependence on Schmavonian in the following terms:

"It will be my duty to dive into the very heart of things surrounding me. With the help of the Legal Adviser of the Embassy, Mr. Schmavoni, who knows the Orient so well, I shall be able to master the task in a more or less satisfactory manner in a few weeks."

There is hardly a page of the Morgenthau 'Diary' which does not contain reference to Arshag K. Schmavonian. He accompanied Morgenthau on almost every official visit he paid to members of the Young Turk Government, he sat in on Morgenthau's meetings with American businessmen (many of whose legal affairs he handled in Turkey), he participated in all meetings with the American missionary interests (whose legal affairs he also handled), and, also assisted Morgenthau in the writing of his cables to Washington, D.C. The National Archives in Washington, D.C. houses a collection of Schmavonian Papers.31 Though the overwhelming majority of these papers deal with, Schmavonian's representations of various American business and missionary interests, they also preserve a few handwritten notes from Morgenthau to Schmavonian, all of which bear the salutation: 'My dear Mr. Schmavonian.' In the Morgenthau papers there are also a large number of letters from Arshag Schmavonian to Ambassador Morgenthau, covering the years 1914-1921.32 All of the letters written prior to 1919 bear the salutation: My Dear Chief.'

The extent to which Morgenthau relied upon his Armenian adviser can be partially measured by a speech he gave when raising funds for Armenian and Syrian Relief following his return to the United States. Of Schmavonian, he wrote:

"The first man I found in the Embassy whom I could lean upon for all kinds of assistance, the man who has done the yeoman work of the American Embassy, is an Armenian [Schmavonian]. He has been connected with our Embassy for sixteen years. I found him to be an unusual man, held in high regard by the Turkish authorities. My private secretary [Andonian] was also an Armenian.

Through these two men I became acquainted with some Armenian priests and with patriots and professors, and learned not only to respect but to love and admire many of the Armenians."33

Nor did this relationship end with Morgenthau's departure from Turkey. The two men were reunited in 1917 when Morgenthau was sent by President Wilson to Europe, and Schmavonian joined him once again in the role of interpreter. Then, following the rupture of relations between Turkey and the United States, Mr. Schmavonian was transferred late in 1917 to Washington, D.C. where he remained in the capacity of a 'Special Adviser' until his death in January, 1922. Morgenthau wrote a moving tribute to his memory, which illustrates the closeness of their relationship:

'Great was my pleasure to find upon meeting Mr. Schmavonian that the enthusiastic praise of my predecessors [Ambassadors Straus and Rockhill] was not only fully justified, but had failed to do him adequate justice. He had all the traditions of the office most methodically stored away in his mind, and made them accessible to me at any time, day or night, at a moment's notice, and it was the same as to all the American missionary and educational activities in Turkey. He was so eminently just, and so absolutely truthful, that every one with whom he came in contact, promptly recognised the sterling qualities, and soon learned to love their possessor.

'He was a delightful social companion and graced any assembly which he attended. The services which he rendered to the United States government and to all the Ambassadors at Constantinople, to the missionary interests, American business interests, and the Armenian and Jewish populations in Turkey, were unexcelled by anyone.

'He was unobtrusive to a fault, and never claimed any credit for himself. His devotion to his mother and to the service possessed him completely, and he was always thoroughly loyal to his own people, the Armenians.

'The United States has lost one of its most faithful servants, and I, one of my dearest friends.'34

Some idea of the extent of Schmavonian's role in shaping Ambassador Morgenthau's Story may be had by an examination of his surviving correspondence with Morgenthau during the period in which the book was written:

a) January 16, 1918 letter from Schmavonian to Morgenthau responding to an earlier request for the names and titles of various Ottoman Cabinet members during Morgenthau's tenure 35

b) January 26, 1918 letter from Morgenthau to Schmavonian asking him to supply facts based on the cables and dispatches which Morgenthau sent the Department of State from Turkey. 36

c) An enclosure of August 29, 1918 of comments on Morgenthau's manuscript prepared by the State Department, appears to have been written by Schmavonian as well, thus raising the possibility that he was (as might logically be expected) the official in the Department assigned to comment on the draft of Morgenthau's book. 37

d) September 3, 1918 Morgenthau to Schmavonian letter, clearly establishes that it was Schmavonian who was commenting on Morgenthau's manuscript. When Morgenthau writes:

'I am sending by this mail our article No. 7, the first half of the Armenian story... I do hope that in your good natured and accommodating way, you will work over time, and I will promise you that I shall not write more books that have to get the approval of the State Departanent.' 38

In short, Schmavonian was a key aide to Morgenthau both throughout his tenure in Turkey, as well as during the months in which Ambassador Morgenthau's Story was being written in 1918. He was even entrusted by the State Department with the task of approving Morgenthau's manuscript. .

Despite his role at each and every stage of the project, he is not mentioned by name in Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, an oversight which is hard to comprehend. This is particularly so in light of the fact that he is named in Morgenthau's 1922 autobiography: All in A Life Time. In this book, which Morgenthau wrote in collaboration with French Strother, Scnmavonian appears (as he in reality was) a close confidant of Morgenthau.39 Can it be that Morgenthau felt that reference to his dependence upon his Armenian assistants (Andonian is not mentioned either) might appear strange in a book devoted partially to the Armenian Question?

Yet another participant in the project was 'the U.S. Secretary of State, Robert Lansing who (at the President s behest?) read and commented upon every chapter of the work in progress. The nature of Lansing's role will be discussed below; however, a number of letters, dating from the gestation period of the book fully illustrate that it was not insignificant:

a) Lansing to Morgenthau letter of April 2, 1918, in which the Secretary states: "I am returning herewith the first installment of the proof of your book which I have read with particular interest... I have made various marginal notes suggesting certain alterations or omissions in the text before publication and I trust that you will agree with these suggestions".

b) Lansing to Morgenthau letter of April 27, 1918, accompanying another segment of the draft manuscript "accompanied by a few suggestions which after careful consideration we venture to propose."

c) Lansing to Morgenthau letter of August 29, 1918, together with proof sheets and more suggestions;

d) Lansing to Morgenthau letter of September 17, 1918 with "suggestions and remarks,"

e) Morgenthau to Lansing letter of September 22, 1918 asking permission to acknowledge in the Preface to the published book, his appreciation for the "trouble taken by the Secretary of State Robert Lansing in reading the manuscript and of the many valuable wise suggestions he has made;"

f) Lansing to Morgenthau letter of October 2, 1918 declining Morgenthau's wish to acknowledge his assistance with the book on the grounds "that on the whole it would be advisable not to mention my name in connection with the book."40

When one recollects the fact that prior to beginning his project, Morgenthau received the written blessings of the President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, and, that as the work progressed, each chapter received the personal stamp of approval of the U.S. Secretary of State Robert Lansing, it is clear that Morgenthau's book may be said to bear the imprimatur of the United States Government.

This said, what literary merit the work has, and all its reviewers found it very readable indeed, is purely the result of Hendrick. While Hendrick was never accorded his due in terms of open recognition of his role in 'ghosting' the story, he was well paid for his efforts, as a surviving letter from Morgenthau to him dated July 5, 1918 attests. In lieu of a formal written contract, which does not appear to have existed between the two men, Morgenthau wrote the following to Hendrick:

I desire to put in writing that I intend to transfer to you a share of the income of the book, 'Ambassador Morgenthau's Story,' about to be published by Doubleday, Page & Company.

'The definite arrangement is to be made when your work on the book is completed, but if anything should happen to me in the meantime, I hereby direct my Executors to arrange that you are to receive two-fifths of any profits that are coming to me from Doubleday, Page & Company, until you have received Ten Thousand [$10,000) Dollars, and that the first five thousand ($5,000) Dollars coming to me are to paid to you on account.'41

Hendrick, an individual fully deserving of serious scholarly study in his own right, must have been fully satisfied with the final 'arrangement' made at the completion of the book. From a receipt which has survived in the Morgenthau papers we may surmise that whatever the final agreement was, it guaranteed Hendrick's 40% share throughout the life-time of the book. It shows that in the period between January 2,1932 and July l,1932, that is, fourteen years after its initial publication, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story was still in print. In this six month span it registered a grand total of $2.00 in sales, of which the author's one-half share, i.e., $1.00, was divided as follows:

Mr. Burton J. Hendrick's 40% share . . . . . 40

Mr. Henry Morgenthau's 60% share . . . . . 60 42 Thus fourteen years after its initial publication, the American edition of the book was still providing income to Hendrick and Morgenthau. As for Hendrick's feelings, they were recorded in an Oral History interview he gave the historian Alan Nevins at Columbia University, a few months before his death in 1949. He stated:

"I had one job of 'ghosting.' That was the elder Henry Morgenthau's Reminiscences. That book created quite a good deal of interest. I worked with Henry all the time.

He was an interesting character. Henry Morgenthau was a very capable person, very chummy and good natured and was a very successful man. He, of course, made a great fortune here in New York in real estate...The writing of my books on Sims and Morgenthau was very interesting - more or less of a job..."

Hendrick44 who within ten years of the publication of the Morgenthau book was to receive three Pulitzer Prizes, one for the book he co-authored with Admiral William S. Sims: The Victory at Sea (recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in History in 1920), and two in Biography for his 1922 work, the Life and Letters of Walter H. Page and in 1928 for his second Page volume entitled The Training of an American, was already in 1918 a well-known journalist who had done stints as an editorial writer with The New York Evening Post, McClure's Magazine, and The World's Work. In these positions, in the words of his New York Times obituary writer, Hendrick "developed a reputation for painstaking accuracy,' honest thinking and good humor and developed an appetite for research in subjects of great historical interest." The Times obituary goes on to say that "critics of his biographies and histories almost invariably would remark that his freshness and penetrating analysis bore the mark of his early journalistic training." 45

Ironically, at least one reviewer of Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, a 'W.K.K.' writing in December 5, 1918 issue of the Detroit Michigan News, instinctively sensed that Morgenthau must have had a journalistic collaborator when he wrote:

"...Henry Morgenthau, our Ambassador to Turkey in the first year of the war, is either a born journalist, or else he had journalistic help in the preparation of his volume; for 'Ambassador Morgenthau's Story' is pure journalese.."46

What we are faced with is less the memoirs of one individual, Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, than a memoir by committee as it were. Morgenthau's Istanbul notes (consisting of his 'Diary' and Family 'Letters'), are reworked initially by Morgenthau and Andonian, together with Hendrick; edited for content by Schmavonian (on behalf of the State Department); then fine tuned' by the Secretary of State Robert Lansing (on behalf of the Executive); and, finally written down as Ambassador Morgenthau's Story by Burton J. Hendrick.

As to the question of whose story it really is, as our subsequent examination will illustrate, it is a collective story bearing only a cursory relationship to what was actually experienced by Henry Morgenthau during his tenure in Turkey.


See: Footnote #1 above.

See: Footnote #3 above

See: Footnote #5 above

FDR: HMS - Box No. 9: Burton J. Hendrick letter to Henry Morgenthau of April 7, 1916, in which Hendrick refers to discussions with Morgenthau of the possibility of Doubleday, Page 8z Co. publishing a book which would appear in a series of "personal narratives of all the big people who have figured in this war." This is apparently the earliest surviving document which specifically relates to the book project.

LC: PHM-Reel No. 5 (Containers 3£ 4): Contain the only known ropy of this daily record of Morgenthau's sojourn in Turkey. Simply labelled as the 'Diary; this document provides a day by day account of Morgenthau's activities while in Constantinople. When cited in the present study, I have listed the following information: LC: PHM-Reel No.5: 'Diary' date:. All references in the text to 'Diary' refer to this key source of information on Morgenthau's day by day contemporary record of his activities.

References of this nature include the following: LC: PHM - Reel No. 5: 'Diary' entries for September 25,1914, February 19,1915. The July 8,1915 entry reads: "We worked at the book from 7:15 to 8. Then Schmavonian and Writhe took supper with n. " This passage raises two possibilities: a) that others than Andonian may have also had a hand m compiling the 'Diary' and, b) that Morgenthau's 'Diary' may have all along been envisaged as the outline for a book he intended to publish. Given the fact that he does not appear to have ever kept such a detailed 'Diary' at any other stage of his life, this interpretation may well be true.

Copies of Morgenthau letters arc found primarily in two separate sections (series) of the FDR Library - Morgenthau Papers. Specifically, they are in the FDR: HMS/Boxes 5, 7, 8,10 and in the FDR: I-IMJ/Gaer- Boxes Nos. I-2. While clearly based on the 'Diary' entries for the period they describe, there is often additional data found in the 'Letters' in that they provide a useful supplement to the sometimes laconic 'Diary' entries.

FDR: HMS-Box 7: HM to children letter of May 11,1915. That this comment does not relate solely to the May ll,1915 letter is confirmed by FDR: HMJ/Gaer- Box 1-2: HM letter to Henry Morgenthau, Jr. of September l,1915, where we read: "I am sending you one of the copies of the general letter which recently has been written by Andonian, so don't blame me if it is too impersonal and skeletonish:' On another occasion we find the following in a letter: "1 don't know whether you folks all noticed the difference in style between this letter and the preceding ones. I have dictated this one myself and filled the mere skeleton notes that I gave Andonian and from which the recent letters were written:' (FDR: HMS - Box No. 8: Letter of 7/13/1915 - p.l5)

Copies and 'paraphrases' and Morgenthau's cable traffic are found scattered throughout the LC: PHM-See, in particular, Reels No. 5, 7, 8,17. This material was compared with copies of Morgenthau's official reports preserved in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. In particular: Record Group 59 - General Records of the Department of State: Decimal File 867.4106 - Race Problems (Microfilm Publication 353: Reels 43-48).

Henry Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story. New York (Doubleday, Page & Co.),1918. (hereafter: AMS).

AMS: p. vii.

LC: HMS - Reel No. 5 for March 15-16,1915, where Andonian accompanied Morgenthau to the Dardanelles in that capacity.

FDR: HMS - Box No. 5.

LC: PHM-Reel No5.

LC: PHM - Reel No.:8

LC: PHM - Reel No.6.

FDR: HMS - Box No.13.

LC: PHM-Reel No. 37-date is illegible.

LC: PHM-Reel No.5.

National Archives: Record Group No. 84-Personal Correspondence of Arshag K. Schmavonian - 4 Boxes.

FDR: HMS -Boxes No. 5 (17letters from 1914), 9 (4 letters from 1916),10 (2 letters from 1916),12 (3 letters from 1919),14 (5 letters from 1921).

LC: PHM - Reel No. 22.

LC:PHM-Reel No.40

LC:PHM-Reel No.8

FDR:HMS-Box No.12.

FDR:HMS-Box No.12.

FDR:HMS-Box No.12

Henry Morgenthau (in collaboration with French Strother), All In A Life Time, New York (Doubleday, Page & Co.),1922. See: pp.178,187, 215, 216, 224, 227, 259, and 266.

FDR: HMS - Box No.l2.

Hendrick/Rusnnk: Morgenthau to Hendrick letter of July 5,1918.
LC: PHM-Reel No.l7.

I am indebted to Mr. Ronald J. Grele, Director of the 'Oral History Research Office' at Colombia University's Butler Library, for a copy of the 62 page Nevins interview entitled: 'The Reminiscences of Burton J. Flendrick.' The passage quoted above is taken from pages 31-32 of this interview, and is a summary of Hendrick's comments. In addition to the Hendrick materials discussed earlier in what I have termed the Hendrick/Rusnak Collection, and the Nevins interview, there are also 75 Hendrick letters in the archives of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City. I am informed by Ms. Nancy Johnson, the 'AAAL' Librarian, that this material consists primarily of letters relating to Hendrick's membership in the 'AAAL; an organisation to which he was elected in 1923, and of which he remained a member until his death in 1949.

The most detailed work on Hendrick's career is Robert Rusnak's unpublished paper entitled: "To Cast Them in the Heroic Mold": Court Biographers - The Case of Burton J. Hendrick." I am indebted to the author for a copy of this study. Additional biographical information has been consulted in the following reference" works: a Obituary notice. 'Burton Hendrick, Historian, 78, Dies, The New York Times, Friday, March 25,1949. p.23. (Hereafter: Hendrick, Times: p.23.) b) Burton Jesse Hendrick entry in: The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Vol. XXXVIII., page 476. Ann Arbor, MI (University Microfilms),1967. c) Louis Filler, "Burton Jesse Hendrick," entry in The Encyclopedia Americana (International Edition). Vol.14, page 91. Danbury, CT (Grolier Inc.) ND. d) Burton Jesse Hendrick entry in the 1922-1923 Who's Who in America. Vol.12, page 1482. Chicago (A.N. Marquis & Co.),1923.

Hendrick, Times: p.23.

LC: PHM - Reel No. 40.

Advertisement appearing in The Jewish Criterion, Oct. 11, 1918; "The only authoritative record of an eye-witness of the part Turkey played in the war...The Murder of the Armenian Nation is described in the opening chapters of this historical document -- how the Turk, having 'vanquished' the Allied fleet, reverted to type and indulged in wholesale massacres which have shocked the world." Morgenthau's work is then described as an "important contribution to the history of the great war..." (Thanks to Gokalp.)

The Intent and Scope of the 'Story'

 The key questions with which the remainder of this study is concerned are these: how much of Ambassador Morgenthau's Story which doesn't originate from the 'Diary' or 'Letters' comes from the fertile journalistic imagination of Burton J. Hendrick, and how much of it was invented by Morgenthau in support of his aim of writing a sensational book damning the Turks and Germans and thereby stirring up support for the war among his fellow Americans? In the same vein, what was the nature of the input from U.S. Secretary of State Robert Lansing? That is, did he confine himself to censoring potentially embarrassing diplomatic disclosures on the part of Morgenthau, or did he take an active role in attempting to blacken the reputations of Turks and Germans alike in keeping with his Presidential employer's and the author's stated aims? Were Morgenthau's views of the disputes between Turks and Armenians shaped by his Armenian eyes and ears, namely Arshag K. Schmavonian and Hagop S. Andonian?

Most importantly, what were Morgenthau's real views of the Turkish leaders and German diplomats he dealt with during his tenure in Constantinople and how (and to the extent possible why) had these views been altered some two years later when Ambassador Morgenthau's Story was written?

For the benefit of those unfamiliar with Morgenthau's book, it may be necessary to set forth its basic themes, which are four in number, in summary form:1) German · imperialistic motives led the naive Young Turk Government into the war; 2) The Young Turk leadership, in particular Talaat Bey and Enver Pasha, decided to use the cover of the war to once and for all 'Turkify' the Ottoman Empire. To aid this objective they conceived and perpetrated a plot to exterminate the Ottoman Armenian population, whom they falsely accused of aiding and abetting their Russian enemy in wartime; 3) Henry Morgenthau was a lone voice tirelessly attempting to dissuade the evil Talaat and Enver from their nefarious scheme of destroying the Armenians; and, 4) Morgenthau's efforts failed for the sole reason that the one man who could have persuaded the Turks to alter their action, the German Ambassador Baron Wangenheim, sat idly by and refused to speak on behalf of the helpless Armenians.

Morgenthau's themes are given credibility by virtue of the fact that throughout his 'Story,' literally from beginning to end, his troika of villains, Wangenheim, Talaat and Enver, repeatedly condemn themselves with their own voices of his charges, i.e., over and over Morgenthau provides us first-person accounts, complete with quotation marks, of comments allegedly made by these individuals which buttress his contentions as to their roles. Indeed, the only crime that they did not openly confess to, if Morgenthau's account is accepted, was that of 'genocide,' and that only because the term had not yet been coined.

The question we must ask is, did these alleged conversations actually occur in the manner described by Morgenthau/Hendrick? To answer this query we must compare a series of statements in the book with the parallel accounts provided in the 'Diary,' 'letters,' and reports submitted by Morgenthau to the Secretary of State Lansing in Washington, D.C.

At the outset, one fact is indisputable: None of the statements given in quotation marks throughout the book, and purporting to be comments made by one or another Turkish or German official, are based on written records. There simply are no such statements' recorded in any of the sources used in writing Ambassador Morgenthau's Story. Stated differently, the use of such quoted statements is simply a literary convention adopted by Hendrick in telling Morgenthau's 'Story.' Their purpose can only have been to make the words put into the mouths of the various players more believable. While this does not de facto establish that they were false, it does mean that we should subject them to far greater scrutiny than they have hitherto received.

The Treatment of Talat Bey: a Case Study


The principal villain of Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, and the subject of its greater invective, is Talaat Bey, the Ottoman Minister of Interior. An examination of the treatment accorded him, therefore, will serve to establish the inexplicably wide discrepancies between events as recorded by Morgenthau in his 'Diary' and 'letters,' that is, during his actual sojourn in Constantinople (November, 1913 - January,1916), and in his 1918 book. While in no way comprehensive, the following examples, presented in the order in which they appear in Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, will serve to illustrate this point:

1) In describing "Talaat, the leading man in this band of usurpers," Morgenthau states:

"I can personally testify that he cared nothing for Mohammedanism for, like most of the leaders of his party, he scoffed at all religions. 'I hate all priests, rabbis. and hodjas,' he once told me."44

In point of fact, there is not a single reference in any of Morgenthau's contemporary Constantinople papers to support this statement. To the contrary, the sole reference to Talaat's religious attitudes is found in a 'Diary' entry for July 10, 1914, where, in describing a small supper party he gave on the previous evening for Talaat Grand Rabbi Nahoum and his wife, and Schmavonian, Morgenthau recorded:

"Talaat told me the other evening that he was the most religious in cabinet; and that Djavit had none and Djemal little." 49

Even were it not known that Talaat Bey was indeed the most religious of the Young Turk leadership

Morgenthau's own Diary' and 'Letters' contain literally dozens of references to the close relationship which existed between Talaat and the Grand Rabbi Haim Nahoum, leader of the Ottoman Jewish communities which make the quote attributed to him in which he allegedly stated to Morgenthau his "hate (of) all Priests Rabbis, and Hodjas," extremely unlikely.50

Why then did Morgenthau choose to portray Talaat Bey as an atheist, when his own 'Diary' gives the lie to his contention? The obvious answer is that he felt it would be useful in generating the desired disgust and revulsion on the part of his intended audience to portray the villain of the piece as a godless atheist rather than as a supporter of religion, even if it were Islam.

2) In a section of his work dealing with the forced return of Greek settlers on the Aegean coast of Anatolia to the islands from which they originated (in late spring and early summer 1914), Morgenthau writes:

"By this time I knew Talaat well; I saw him nearly every day, and he used to discuss practically every phase of international relations with me. I objected to his treatment of the Greeks; I told him that it would make the worst possible impression abroad and that it affected American interests."51

Contrary to Morgenthau's claim of almost daily intimacy with Talaat Bey, a thorough analysis of his 'Diary' entries for the period between January l ,1914 and July 2,1914, establishes that Morgenthau and Talaat met on a total of only twenty occasions, of which only eight were actual substantive meetings, the remainder being social events where they happened to be guests at the same dinner parties.52 Throughout the period in question, Morgenthau saw Talaat for substantive purposes an average of only once every three weeks. Indeed, during the height of the expulsions (Mid-May - June 1914) Talaat and Morgenthau did not meet at all. Morgenthau's 'Diary' records meetings only on May 4th and again on July 2, 1914.53

Nor does the 'Diary' record a single instance, despite Morgenthau's assertion, in which the Ambassador remonstrated with Talaat Bey over his treatment of the Greeks. To the contrary, it establishes that the matter was the subject of discussion in only one of their meetings, that of July 2,1914, an occasion on which Morgenthau simply recorded Talaat's reasoning for relocating the Greeks without any indication that he objected to it in any manner whatsoever:

"Schmavonian and I called on Talaat. He was very determined to have Greeks of the country, not cities, leave their country he said the, Greeks here pay taxes to Greece Government collected by Metropolitan; he says they want their islands back admitted Greek superiority in education and mercantile capacities..."54

In the weekly letter to his family of July 15, 1914, he records the same conversation as follows:

"In the afternoon, I paid a visit on Talaat. He was extremely frank... They are unquestionably determined to have such Greeks as live out of their cities to part from their country as peaceably and as soon as possible. The thing that seemed to annoy him most was that these very Ottoman Greeks are paying taxes to the Hellenic Government, and some of the very money that is earned on Turkish soil will be used to pay for the ships that Greece has just purchased from us. My secretary [Hagop S. Andonian] just informs me that when he attended Robert College twelve years ago, the Greek students used to pay every week something from their pocket money as a contribution to the Hellenic fleet. Talaat admitted to me that they either want the islands back or the Greeks expelled from the mainland.' 55

Far from remonstrating with Talaat Bey over the Ottoman treatment of their Greek population, there is not a hint in anything Morgenthau recorded to suggest that he found their policy unacceptable. Why then in 1918 does he claim that "I objected to his treatment of the Greeks," or that he "saw him [Talaat] nearly every day" and "he used to discuss practically every phase of international relations with me? 56 Once again, there can be only one reason: he is laying the groundwork for his claim of intimacy with Talaat on one hand, and, on the other, seeking to establish his credentials as a defender of any and all minorities persecuted by the hands of the Moslem Turks.

3) In attempting to describe the motivations impelling Talaat's treatment of minorities, Morgenthau writes:

"...Talaat explained his national policy; these different blocs in the Turkish Empire, he said, had always conspired against Turkey; because of the hostility of these native populations, Turkey had lost province after province — Greece, Serbia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Egypt and Tripoli. In this way the Turkish Empire had dwindled almost to the vanishing point. If what was left of Turkey was to survive, added Talaat, he must get rid of these alien peoples. 'Turkey for the Turks' was now Talaat's controlling idea." 57

This alleged conversation, complete with Talaat's use of the phrase "Turkey for the Turks," was, according to Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, part of the same discussion referred to above in which Talaat explained his desire to force the Greek settlers along the Aegean Coast to return to their original homes on the islands. As we have already seen, no reference to anything supporting Talaat's alleged views on 'Turkey for the Turks' was recorded by Morgenthau in either his 'Diary' or 'Letter' dealing with that meeting.

Why then did Morgenthau put these words into the mouth of Talaat Bey? Again, the answer is simple: he wanted to have the strongest figure among the Young Turk triumvirate embracing verbally what is one of the major leitmotifs of Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, namely, it was runaway Turkish nationalism which prompted their attempt to "exterminate" the Armenians. This theme, which does not find a single iota of support in either the 'Diary' or the 'Letters,' runs throughout his book. Over and over we read statements such as 'Turkey for the Turks,' 58 'In his eyes Turkey was the land exclusively of the Turks; he despised all the other elements in its population,'59 'It was his determination to Turkify the whole Empire. 60 'They decided to establish a country exclusively for Turks,'61 'Their passion for Turkifying the nation seemed to demand logically the extermination of all Christians,'62 and, 'The time had finally come to make Turkey exclusively the country of the Turks.'63 It is almost as if we are being subjected to some kind of 'subliminal' repetition designed to convince us that the Young Turks were racist ideologies. If Morgenthau himself had come to believe this of the Turks in 1918, he had certainly done so after leaving Turkey in 1915, for seemingly nothing he recorded during his sojourn in Constantinople serves to buttress such a view.

4) In describing a meeting with Talaat on October 29, 1914, in which the topic of discussion was the Turkish German alliance, Morgenthau relates the following discussion:

"At this meeting Talaat frankly told me that Turkey had decided to side with the Germans and to sink or swim with them. He went again over the familiar grounds, and added that if Germany won  — and Talaat said that he was convinced that Germany would win — the Kaiser would get his revenge on Turkey if Turkey had not helped him to obtain his victory." 64

In other words, Talaat is portrayed here as an individual who has taken a real politik decision and decided to side with Germany on the grounds that in his own opinion she is going to win the war. While no family letter covering this meeting has survived, Morgenthau did record his actual impressions of his October 29,1914 meeting with Talaat in his 'Diary,, presumably within hours of its occurrence. This is what he wrote:

"Called... on Talaat... We had a most interesting talk, He admitted frankly that they had decided to side with Germans; sink or swim with them; he said they had to have strong country to lean on and if they had not agreed to depend on Germans, they when defeated would have been first to suggest cutting up Turkey; they were prepared to swim or sink with them." 65

In the book, Morgenthau has twisted his 'Diary' entry to transform a very reluctant Talaat, one who has no opinion as to the likely outcome of the war, one who has simply embraced the lesser of two evils in a hope to stay afloat, into a calculating pro-German, who, having weighed the alternatives, comes down on the German side because of a belief in German invincibility. Why? Because it hardly suits his thesis to have his key villain not firmly committed to the evil German war machine. Once again, Morgenthau has sacrificed any claim to historical accuracy for what can only be termed the short-term propaganda coup.

5) In discussing a late evening visit on the night of November 3, 1914 to Talaat's home for the purpose of protesting the treatment of English and French civilians, Morgenthau writes:

"'Well, Talaat,' I said, realising that the time had come for plain speaking, 'don't you know how foolishly you are acting? You told me a few hours ago that you had decided to treat the French and English decently and you asked me to publish this news in the American and foreign press...

A piece of news which Talaat received at that moment over the wire almost ruined my case... Talaat's face lost its geniality and became almost savage, he turned to me and said:

"The English bombarded the Dardanelles this morning and killed two Turks.'

And then he added:

'We intend to kill three Christians for every Moslem killed!'

...Finally the train was arranged. Talaat had shown several moods in this interview; he had been by turns sulky. good-natured, savage and complaisant.." 66

This account, which covers some six pages in the Morgenthau book, portrays Talaat Bey as some kind of eccentric child, beguiled by the candor of Morgenthau into eventually acceding to his every wish. A good part of it consists of alleged conversations given as direct quotations. Much is made of Talaat Bey, who started life as a telegraphist, "sitting there in his grey pyjamas and his red fez, working industriously his own telegraph key, 67 etc. etc. In point of fact, the entire source for this six page uninterrupted dialogue between Talaat and Morgenthau is the following entry in his 'Diary' for November 3,1914:

Arshag K. Schmavonian

Arshag Schmavonian

"Schmavonian and I went to [Sublime] Porte and then to Talaat's house, he in pajamas, wife peeping through doors. Bedri appeared phone working. I put it strong that I had spread news all the world and if they balked condemnation follows; he admitted it was general German Chief of Staff who had just returned thought they were too lenient and interfered. There is already conflict between civil and military and Germans and Turks; troubles ahead; Promised to try and let foreigners [stay in) interior unless Beirut, Smyrna, or other unprotected ports were bombarded, then all would be kept as hostages. Smyrna Governor would inform our Consul that three Christians be killed for every Moslem that was killed. Dardanelles had been bombarded from 8:30 to 8:40 and two Turks killed At 7:45 Talaat told us train could go. We returned to station about 8:10 when it was announced it could go. Such joy." 68

Here is an almost classic case of the account in Ambassador Morgenthau's Story bearing almost no resemblance to the passage in the 'Diary' upon which it should have been based. From the portrayal of Talaat "this huge Turk" hunched over his telegraph machine and "banging the key with increasing irritation,"69 (when in point of fact he was speaking on the telephone), to his alleged response to the bombing of the Dardanelles which had resulted in two civilian deaths, of promising to 'kill three Christians for every Moslem killed, 70 (combining two totally unrelated events out of sequence), that is, from start to finish, the entire section appears to be nothing more real than the rambling of an overactive imagination; Again, the question is why? Here too, it is Morgenthau s intent to portray Talaat Bey, as his prototypical Turk, as bestial, crude, and vicious in his actions. Only the cajoling influence of the American Ambassador, Henry Morgenthau can stem the unpredictable, dangerous Turk. In reality, the Minister of Interior, and de facto head of government of a state to which Morgenthau was accredited as Ambassador of a foreign country, received him in a crisis situation at home, and spent some time resolving the issue of foreigners who were citizens of belligerent nations wishing to leave the country without exit visas, via a series of phone calls. This act of gracious kindness is twisted into a parody of fact in which Talaat is depicted as an emotionally unstable, petulant schoolboy who can only be controlled by the firm-speaking Henry Morgenthau. While Burton Hendrick could be excused if he had misunderstood the laconic entries in the 'Diary ' it appears that all the fictional detail in this section of the book had to have been added in 1918 by Morgenthau himself.

6) Many times it is hard to find any linkage between the passages in the book and the 'Diary' references they are obviously supposed to be drawn from. One such example is the following. Morgenthau et al. write:

"I called on Talaat again. The first thing he did was to open his desk and pull out a handful of yellow cablegrams.

Why don't you give this money to us?' he said, with a grin.

What money?' I asked.

Here is a cablegram for you from America, sending you a lot of money for the Armenians. You ought not to use it that way; give it to us Turks, we need it as badly as they do.'

'I have not yet received any such cablegram.' I replied.

'Oh, no, but you will,' he answered. 'I always get all your cablegrams first, you know. After I have finished reading them I send them around to you. 71

Not only does Talaat Bey read other people's mail, he brags about it. Not only does he carry out the 'extermination' of the Armenians, he is so heartless that he actually dares to ask Morgenthau to give him the money which generous Americans have collected for the relief of these suffering people. It takes a careful reading of the Morgenthau 'Diary' to find the entry that served as the source for this statement. It reads.

"He [Talaat] asked me if I would take additional money offered by U.S. to me by cable received today; it was an admission that he had read or knew contents of my telegram. 72

There are several problems with the interpretation of this passage given in Ambassador Morgenthau's Story:

a) The 'Diary' entry for its source is dated October 14, 1914, a full six months prior to the onset of the Armenian deportations, and at least ten months prior to the arrival of any American aid earmarked for Armenians,

b) The 'Diary' entry makes it clear that Morgenthau has already received the telegram in question, i.e., Morgenthau does not suggest that Talaat is referring to a message he has not already seen;

c) Morgenthau only infers from Talaat's question that he has seen, or has been informed of a cable on the subject of funds; he is not so informed by Talaat himself who, in the book, brags of receiving all cables prior to Morgenthau ever seeing them.

Clearly, Hendrick, with the tacit approval of Morgenthau, has simply fabricated yet another discussion between Talaat and Morgenthau for the purpose of portraying the Turkish leader as a thoroughly disgusting and inhuman character.

7) On occasion, Morgenthau even goes beyond 'poetic license' and literally records alleged conversations which, have no foundation whatsoever in either the Diary or the 'Letters. In perhaps the most damning indictment of this nature, Morgenthau writes:

"One day Talaat made what was perhaps the most astonishing request I had ever heard. The 'New York Life Insurance Company' and the 'Equitable Life of New York' had for years done considerable business among the Armenians. The extent to which these people insured their lives was merely another indication of their thrifty habits.

'I wish,' Talaat now said, 'That you would get the American Life Insurance Companies to send us a complete list of Armenian policy holders. They are practically all dead now and have left no heirs to collect the money. It of course all escheats to the state. The Government is beneficiary now. Will you do so?

This was almost too much, and I lost my temper. 'You will get no such list from me,' I said, and I got up and left him. 73

Perhaps more than any single incident related in Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, this callous disregard for human life and decency etches itself into the reader's memory. Surely, no one could have invented such a conversation. It must have occurred as related by Morgenthau. But did it? A careful examination of everything written by Morgenthau from the beginning of the Armenian deportations in April of 1915 to the date of his departure, on February 1, 1916, fails to locate a single reference to this alleged conversation. Given the fact that we have hundreds of references in the 'Diary' for this period to Talaat and to matters affecting the treatment and mistreatment of Armenians, this lacuna is difficult to explain. Morgenthau, in addition, filed numerous reports to the Department of State relating to Armenians, not one of which makes any reference to this discussion. Finally, for the period in question we have a complete run of 'Family Letters,' comprising several hundred pages, which are literally filled with references to meeting with Talaat and discussion of the treatment of Armenians. Their contents refer to every single day during the last twelve months of Morgenthau's tenure in Turkey, and yet, they too, fail to make any reference to Talaat's callous request that the Turkish Government be recognised as the beneficiary of the insurance policies held by the very Armenians whose lives had been lost as a result of the treatment they had been accorded. More telling than his argument by absence' is the fact that this is the only alleged conversation between Talaat and Morgenthau mentioned in Ambassador Morgenthau's Story for which there is no basis, either in the 'Diary' or the 'Letters.' In short, this appears to be rioting more than an attempt to further darken the already fully tarnished image Morgenthau has painted of Talaat Bey.

It is upon closer examination of the Morgenthau Papers that an even more disturbing explanation for Morgenthau's having included this bit of fiction in his book, suggests itself. When one goes back over the 'Diary' entries prior to the period of the Armenian deportations, i.e., prior to April 24, 1915, one sees that Morgenthau did in fact discuss the affairs of one the companies named in his book with Talaat Bey. On April 3, 1915 (a full three weeks prior to the beginning of the deportations), we see the following entry:

"Called on Talaat at Minister of Commerce's Office, spoke to him about 'New York Life Insurance Company's funds. 74

Can it be that it was this two line entry in Morgenthau's Diary which served as the springboard from which Hendrick constructed the alleged conversation discussed above? As in the discussion on Talaat Bey reading Morgenthau's cables and suggesting that money earmarked for Armenians be given to his government, is it possible that Hendrick has simply fabricated (presumably with the connivance of Morgenthau) this entire episode? Once again, the answer is, yes. While there was an issue involving funds belonging to the New York Life Insurance Company which had been frozen in Turkey, it had nothing to do with Ottoman Armenians. To the contrary, a series of entries in Morgenthau's 'Diary' for the months of March and April 1915 allow us to state categorically that the issue was just the opposite of what was portrayed in the book.

We may summarise the 'Diary' entries relative to the 'New York Life Insurance Company' issue, as follows.

1) On 24 March, a Mr. Feri, the Constantinople representative of the Insurance Company, paid a visit to Morgenthau and informed him that the Ottoman Government was refusing to release their bank accounts because their company headquarters was in Paris, France (a country with which the Ottoman Empire was then at war);75

2) On 29 March, Morgenthau took up the company's problem in a discussion with Talaat Bey, who informed him of the following: "as to the New York Life funds, the company had never registered and they don't want them to withdraw their funds, as they fear that they would not pay their losses here; 76

3) As noted above, on 3 April, Morgenthau's 'Diary' notes that he "called on Talaat at Minister of Commerce's office; spoke to him about New York Life Insurance Company's funds; 77

This then is the extent of references to the New York Life Insurance Company funds in the Morgenthau papers. The March 29, 1915 entry makes it clear that, far from wanting to serve as the beneficiary of deceased policy holders, Talaat's and the Turkish Government's interest was in making sure that the company maintained enough capital in Turkey, so as to guarantee their ability to pay any future claims which might arise under their coverage.

Simple logic tells us Morgenthau's account must be false, as his 'Diary' establishes that throughout his tenure in Constantinople, the New York Life Insurance Co. had its own representative in the Ottoman capital; that is, had Talaat Bey wanted a list of their clients he had only to demand it. 78

Once again, the question we must ask is: Why does this passage appear in Ambassador Morgenthau's Story in the first place? In addition to the by now obvious aim on the part of Morgenthau, namely, to blacken the reputation of Talaat Bey in every conceivable fashion and whenever possible, there may well have been an even more venal reason for the inclusion of this passage. A thorough reading of the Morgenthau papers shows that at the very time Morgenthau's book was being written he was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Equitable Life Assurance Society of New York. 79 Indeed, his 'Diary' for the year 1918 shows that on March 21 he attended a meeting of the Equitable Life Assurance Company at 12:00 and then met with Burton J. Hendrick at 2:30 80 (presumably to work on the manuscript). Morgenthau, who had been elected a member of the Society's board at ifs December 1,1915 meeting, 81 was very proud of his being so recognised and even wrote his son Henry Jr. to the effect that: "I think my selection as one of the Trustees of the 'Equitable Life Assurance Society' shows that the financial powers are already realising that my name and advise [sic. advice] will be of some value. 82 It may well be that the passage in question was nothing more than a 'plug' for the life insurance business. By naming the 'Equitable Life Assurance Society' and praising Armenians for having the foresight to insure their lives, Morgenthau may simply have been throwing in a free advertisement for his fellow trustees who had the good sense to recognise back in 1915 that, in his words "my name and advise will be of some value." While there is no way to advance this suggestion beyond the realm of hypothesis, one thing is clear - there is nothing in the Morgenthau papers to suggest that the alleged conversation between Talaat Bey and Morgenthau ever transpired.

8) Not satisfied with relating fictitious conversations between himself and Talaat, Morgenthau also at times simply brings together events which transpired on separate occasions, thereby creating a totally erroneous impression. A case in point of this technique concerns the most serious discussion Morgenthau ever had with Talaat on the treatment of the Armenians. This talk, which occurred on August 8, 1915, took place at the initiative of Talaat who sent word to Morgenthau (through their mutual friend, the Grand Rabbi Haim Nahoum) that he wanted to see the American envoy alone, that is, without his Armenian escort-interpreter Arshag K. Schmavonian as he desired to discuss "Armenian matters. 83

Morgenthau's version of this meeting in his 'Story' begins as follows:

"In the early" of part of August...he sent a personal messenger to me, asking if I could not see him alone he said that he himself would provide the interpreter. This was the first time that Talaat had admitted that his treatment of the Armenians was a matter with which I had any concern. The interview took place two days afterward. It so happened that since the last time I had any visited Talaat I had shaved my beard. As soon as I came in the burly Minister began talking in his customary bantering fashion.

'You have become a young man again,' he said: `You are so young now that I cannot go to you for advice any more.'

'I have shaved my beard,' I replied, 'because it had become very grey — made grey by your treatment of the Armenians."'

In actual fact, the 'beard incident' occurred not in the course of the August 8, 1915 meeting on 'Armenian matters,' but rather a month earlier on 3 July when Morgenthau's 'Diary" records the following:

"...Talaat teased me about having shaved beard and said I had become young and he would no longer take my advice...I told him I shaved it because it grew grey on account of treatment of Armenians. 85

By juxtaposing the banter of the 3 July conversation with the very serious appointment on the "Armenian matters" which occurred a month later, Morgenthau creates the impression that Talaat was not very serious in asking him to come discuss the Armenian question on 8 August. How could he be serious when he began a talk about life and death matters by joking about Morgenthau's beard?

It is only when we read the actual 'Diary' entry for August 8,1915, that we realise just how serious the talk actually was:

"I called on Talaat. He had his man there to interpret for me. First he spoke English but as Talaat himself noticed he was very slow, he asked him to try German which worked better. Talaat told me that he greatly preferred that I should always come alone when I had any Armenian matters to discuss with him. By this he admits that he was willing to discuss Armenian affairs with me. He told me that they based their objections to the Armenians on three distinct grounds:

1) that they had enriched themselves at the expense of the Turks;

2) that they wanted to domineer over them and establish a separate state;

3) that they have openly encouraged their enemies, so that they have come to the irrevocable decision to make them powerless before the war is ended.

I argued in all sorts of ways with him but he said that there was no use; that they had already disposed of three-fourths of them, that there were none left in Bitlis, Van, Erzeroum, and that the hatred was intense now that they have to finish it. I spoke to him about the commercial losses, he said that they did not care, that they had figured it out and knew it would not exceed for the banks etc. five million pounds. He said they want to treat the Armenians like we treat the negroes, I think he meant like the Indians. I asked him to make exceptions in some few cases which he promised to do; he also definitely promised that the people living in Constantinople could depart. I asked him about the removal of some sixty people,. he said those are people who have come here from Izmid. It was simply impossible to move him. He said they would take care of the Armenians at Zor and elsewhere but they did not want them in Anatolia. I told him three times that they were making a serious mistake and would regret it. He said, 'we know we have made mistakes, but we never regret. 86

In tone and content that was a far more serious discussion than the account in Ambassador Morgenthau's Story implies. There is no-hint of banter in the 'Diary' entry; far from it, Talaat emerges as being extremely candid. A close reading of his comments as recorded in Morgenthau's 'Diary' suggests that his comparison of their plans for the Armenians with the American treatment of the Negroes may have been, despite Morgenthau's suggestion, well spoken. It is in fact 'segregation' which he is referring to, as is clear from the final statement attributed to Talaat on this matter, to wit, "He said they would take care of the Armenians at Zor and elsewhere but they did not want them in Anatolia. 87

Why does Morgenthau not challenge Talaat on this statement Because it is not out of keeping with what he is hearing at that time from others, including Zenop Bezjian, the 'vekil' (representative) of the Armenian Protestants in the Ottoman Empire. A month after the above-mentioned conversation with Talaat, Morgenthau receives a visit from Bezjian, which he records in his 'Diary' in the following terms:

"Zenop Bezjian, Vekil of Armenian Protestants, called. Schmavonian introduced him; he was his schoolmate. He told me a great deal about conditions [in the interior). I was surprised to hear him report that 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 massacred. He gave me a list where the various camps are and he thinks that over one half million have been displaced. He was most solicitous that they should be helped before winter set in." 88

All comments in Ambassador Morgenthau's Story notwithstanding, as late as September 1915, Morgenthau had not firmly concluded that the Armenians were the subject of an attempted 'extermination' by the Young Turk leadership.

9) In addition to inventing conversations, on occasion Morgenthau and Hendrick take unsubstantiated rumor, surround it with quotation marks and put it in Talaat's mouth as well. One such example is the following passage, which reads:

"Talaat's attitude toward the Armenians was summed up in the proud boast which he made to his friends: 'I have accomplished more toward solving the Armenian problem in three months than Abdul Hamid accomplished in thirty years.' 89

Given the violent means by which Sultan Abdulhamid II responded to the Armenian uprising in 1895-1896, this boast attributed to Talaat can not help but send a chill down the spine of the reader. For what Talaat is implicitly saying is that he has killed more Armenians in three months than Abdulhamid did in thirty years. Once again, he has the criminal publicly boasting of his crime. One's only question can be who are the friends in whom Talaat thus confided, and which of them passed his boast along to Morgenthau?

Morgenthau's 'Diary' entry for July 18,1915 provides us the answer to these queries, he writes:

"Gates told me Talaat had said that he has accomplished more in three months about crushing the Armenians than Abdul Hamid could do in thirty three years."90

About the last person one would expect to see listed among the 'friends' of Talaat Bey is Caleb Gates, the former American missionary who served as President of Robert College during Morgenthau's tenure in Constantinople. Far from being 'friends' they were hardly acquainted, as is clear from Gates' own book: Not To Me Only. Not surprisingly, Gates does not choose to repeat the rumor he mentioned to Morgenthau in his own writing or to record it as fact. 91 Morgenthau suffered from no such inhibition himself. If it served the general purpose of casting Talaat in a negative light it was deemed worthy of inclusion in his book. Even rumor, if dressed up with quotation marks and placed in the mouth of Talaat Bey, found its place in Ambassacior Morgenthau's Story. Understandably, this Gates-inspired rumor did not find its way into Morgenthau's weekly 'Letter' of July 22,1915. For Morgenthau's views of Talaat in 1915 were far different than in 1918 when his book was written.

Baron Von Wangenheim

0) Discussing a chance meeting with the German Ambassador Wangenheim, which occurred on October 15, 1915, Morgenthau states:

"A few days after his [Wangenheim's] return, I met him on his way to Haskeuy; He said that he was going to the American Embassy and together we walked back to it. I had been recently told by Talaat that the intended to deport all the Armenians who were left in Turkey and his statement had induced me to make a final plea to the one man in Constantinople who had the power to end the horrors. 92

A close examination of Morgenthau's 'Diary' and 'letters, establishes that, contrary to the claim in this passage, Morgenthau had not seen Talaat Bey at all during the first half of October (nor had he been told anything resembling is during his four previous meetings on September 6,13, 20 and 30,1915).93 What he had heard was gossip, passed on not by Talaat Bey as he alleges, but rather by his two Armenian staff members, Schmavonian and Andonian. His 'Diary ' entry for October 7, 1915 includes the following comments.

Schmavonian today received two absurdly contradictory statements, one from an Armenian Deputy who said that Talaat Pasha had stated to him that nothing further would be done against the Armenians, that now they intended to take [up] the question of their Greek subjects; while another man told him that they contemplated to complete matter. Andonian reported to me about Armenian Patriarch's interview yesterday with Talaat. Talaat's statements to the Patriarch were not at all reassuring. He had said that all their measures against the Armenians were perfectly justified, had expressed great resentment at Armenians having tried to secure European intervention to establish a proper government and introduce reforms in Anatolia and had said that they were just waiting for such a chance to punish the Armenians...When Patriarch answered that they ought to punish responsible parties and not women and children; he said these things are inevitable!"94

In other words, Morgenthau's statement in his book relevant to his October 15, 1915 meeting with Wangenheim, should have read, "I had been recently told by Schmavonian that he had been told by an unnamed man that the Turks were contemplating to complete the matter and deport the remaining Armenians," rather than his claim that: "I had been recently told by Talaat that he intended to deport all the Armenians who were left in Turkey." Once again, we see Morgenthau take rumors passed on to him, this time by his Armenian adviser/interpreter as coming from an unnamed source, and credit them to Talaat.

11) Given the consistency with which Morgenthau has misquoted, modified statements of, and simply fabricated most of the remarks he has attributed to Talaat, it seems only fitting that his description of his final meeting prior to his departure from Istanbul with the Turkish leaders should also be noteworthy primarily for its lack of veracity. He begins his account by saying:

"I had my farewell interview with Enver and Talaat on the thirteenth of January."95 and even in this short sentence manages to falsehood a) he did not hold a farewell interview with Talaat and Enver at all but met each man separately; and, b) his separate meetings with Talaat and Enver actually occurred on January 29, 1916. 96

With this less than auspicious beginning, one might well wonder how Margenthau is going to record his leave-taking from the Turkish leaders, Talaat Bey and Enver Pasha, with whom his. "Diary" and "Letters" show he had enjoyed friendly social and professional relations. He begins with the following statement:

"But we hope you are coming back soon, he Talaat added, in the polite (and insincere) manner of the oriental. 97

The reminder to the reader that Talaat was not even sincere in his leave-taking appears at first glance to be typical Morgenthau-Hendrick invective. However, an examination of other surviving documents relating to the book, establishes that in this instance the slander's author was none other than the Honorable Robert Lansing, the U.S. Secretary of State. As noted earlier, Morgenthau sent drafts of each section of his "Story" to Lansing, who personally commented on them. Indeed, just prior to the book's publication, Morgenthau wrote Lansing asking permission to acknowledge the "trouble taken by Secretary of State Robert Lansing in reading the manuscript and of the many valuable and wise suggestions he has made. 98 Lansing declined the honor with "I'm sure that you will agree with me that on the whole it would be advisable not to mention my name in connection with the book."99 Morgenthau agreed, and helped perpetrate an important omission which has lasted until today. For Lansing's comments (in his own hand), were taken seriously by Morgenthau and the present example illustrates their nature. In the Morgenthau-Hendrick draft of the closing chapters of Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, the passage quoted above actually read:

"But we hope you are coming back soon,' he [Talaat] added. We feel almost as though you were one of us." 100

Lansing's contribution was to pencil in the phrase: "with the usual insecure oriental politeness,"101 an emendation which Morgenthau immediately instructed Hendrick to incorporate.l02 Not only was Lansing's input totally uncalled for, but also a reading of Morgenthau's 'Diary' entry relevant to his final meeting with Talaat Bey fully illustrates the real nature of the relationship enjoyed by the two men:

"I also called on Talaat and requested his promise that he would not interfere with any American or other interests entrusted to me or [with) the Jews. He promised to everything except that he wanted to reserve the right to have a little fun with the British and French. He said that his promise only held good if I came back...

I asked Talaat whether I should call on the Sultan to say good bye and he said that I certainly should and that he would arrange it. 103

Anyone reading this passage realises that, contrary to what Lansing implied, there was a frank and open friendship linking the American Ambassador and the Ottoman Minister of the Interior. Why does Morgenthau allow the inclusion of so much slanderous material regarding Talaat Bey two years after the fact? The answer is simple and relates to the fact that Morgenthau was writing a piece of wartime propaganda with the expressly stated purpose of mobilising support for President Wilson's war effort. He consciously down played the close relationships he enjoyed with the Young Turk leadership throughout his sojourn in Constantinople and sacrificed truth for the greater good of helping to generate anti-Turkish sentiment which would transform itself into pro-war sentiment.

It is in the final section of Morgenthau's comments on his farewells with Talaat, that he establishes just how far he is willing to stretch the truth:

"And now for the last time I spoke on the subject that had rested so heavily on my mind for many months. I feared that another appeal would be useless, but I decided to make it.

"How about the Armenians?"

Talaat's geniality disappeared in an instant. His face hardened and the fire of the beast lighted up his eyes once more.

'What's the use of speaking about them?' he said, waving his hand. 'We are through with them. That's all over.'

Such was the farewell with Talaat. 'That's all over' were his last words to me."104

As we have seen, Morgenthau's 'Diary' contains nothing even vaguely resembling this closing harangue. Only one thing can really be said about the manner in which Morgenthau and Hendrick portrayed Talaat: it was consistent. It moved from slander to slander and when it seemed to lag near the end, Secretary of State Robert Lansing was on hand to pick up the level of the invective once again.


Throughout Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, Talaat I3cy is vilified in every conceivable fashion. See: AMS - pp. 20-24, 34-40, 50-51, 58, 78, 99-100,123-127,137-145, 154,172,194-95,198-99, 253-55, 286, 326-342, and 390-392. A grimmer portrait is hard to imagine, nor one less in keeping with what is generally known about Talaat's character. I have used contemporary English spelling as found in Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, rather than modern Turkish orthography throughout this study. Hence 'Talaat' rather than 'Talat' and 'Abdul Hamid' for Abdulhamid:

AMS: p. 20.

LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: 'Diary' entry for July 10,1914. See also: FDR: HMS- Box No.5 Morgenthau family Letter of July 15,1914 pp. 10-11.

LC: PHM-Reel No.5: Morgenthau's 'Diary' entries for the entire period of his stay in Turkey, are full of entries dealing with his close social relationship with Talaat Bey and Grand Rabbi Haim Nahoum. Only two examples will suffice to illustrate that relationship: 1) On February 16, 1914 Morgenthau's Diary includes the following note. We dined at Rabbi Nahoum. May, Helen, Ruth, Schmavonian, Talaat and I, and remained until, talking; and, 2) Just three days later on February 19,1914, the diary includes the following: "Talaat, Nahoum and Schmavonian were here for supper; we had a very intense talk about Turkish conditions."

51. AMS: p. 50.

52. LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Entries for the period between January 1,1914 and July 2 1914.

53. LC: PHM-Reel No. S: See the entries for the period between May 4,1914 and July 2,1914.

54. LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Entry for July 2,1914.

55. FDR: HMS - Box No. 5: Morgenthau family 'Letter' of July 15, 1914, pp.3-4.

56. AMS: p. 50.

AMS: p. 51.

AMS: p.116. Labelled as the "central point of Turkish policy.

AMS: p.133. Sentiment attributed to Bedri Bey, the Prefect of the Police in the Capital.

AMS: p.174. Stated to be the aim of Djemal Pasha.

AMS: pp. 283-84. Stated to be the goal of the Young Turks.

AMS: p. 290. Given as a rationale for wanting to kill non-Turks.

AMS: p. 292. Given as Turkey's wartime agenda.

AMS: p.124.

LC: PIIM-Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diary' entry for October 29,1914.

66. AMS: pp.141-l46.

AMS: p.144.

LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diary' entry for November 3,1914.

AMS: p.144.

AMS: p.144.

71. AMS: p. 332.

72. LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diary' entry for October 10,1914.

73. AMS: p. 339.

LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diary' entry for April 3,1915.

LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Morgcnthau 'Diary' entry for March 24,1915.

LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Morgcnthau 'Diary' entry for March 29,1915.

LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diary' entry for April 3,1915.

LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diary' entry for October 5,19l5, records the following in regard to the status of the New York Life Insurance Company,' in Istanbul "Representatives of the New York Life Insurance Company and their lawyer called for advice about what steps to take about registering under the new law." Clearly, with representatives stationed in Istanbul, any and all information which the Government might wish to obtain concerning the business affairs of this company was easily available. That Talaat Bey would ask Morgenthau for information on any matter concerning this Company is unlikely.

Indeed, Morgenthau had a long-time relationship with Equitable, going back at least as far as 1905, when as a member of the 'policy-holders committee' he successfully fought to protect the Company from Edward H. Harriman. For a detailed account of his role with Equitable, see: Burton J. Hendrick, "Ambassador Morgenthau's Story-Introductory Article," The World's Work, April,1918. pp.620- 637. See: LC: PHM - Reel No. 7 for a letter of December 2,1915 (while Morgenthau was still Ambassador in Turkey), appointing him a 'Director of the Society' of the 'Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States.'

LC: PHM-Ree1 No. 6: Morgenthau 'Diary' entry for March 21,1918.

LC: PHM - Reel No. 7: Equitable Life's S.S. McCurdy letter to Morgenthau of December 2,1915.

FDR: HMJ/Gaer- Box Nos.1-2: In a letter addressed to "My Dear Children," of June 29,1915, Morgenthau discusses his selection as a 'Trustee' of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, suggesting that he may initially have been chosen as a Trustee (prior to June 29,1915), and then, subsequently, elevated on December I,1915 to the position of 'Director' of the Society.

Although Morgenthau fails to name the messenger in his book, the 'Diary entry for August 5,1915 makes it clear that, as was often the case, Talaat had chosen to communicate with Morgenthau via their mutual friend, the Grand Rabbi of the Jewish Community, Haim Nahoum: When I returned I found Mrs. Nahoum who said her husband had a message for from Talaat. I sent for him and they stayed for supper, Nahoum told me that Talaat wanted me to call on him without Schmavonian as he wanted to talk to me about Armenian matters." (LC: PHM - Reel No. 5) It may be that Morgenthau's failure to name Nahoum as the messenger stems from the fact that having systematically portrayed Talaat Bey as a less than desirable character, he did not want to have to answer queries from his co-religionists as to why the leader of the Jewish Community in the Ottoman Empire was on such intimate terms with evil incarnate.

AMS: p. 336.

LC: PIIM-Reel No. 5: Morenthau 'Diary' entry for July 3,1915

LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diary' entry for August 8,1915.

LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diary' entry for August 8,1915.

LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diary entry for September 26,1915. See also: FDR: HMS-Box No. B: In his family 'Letter' of October 16,1915 (pp.5-6) Morgenthau adds the phrase: "in the interior' to his comment that Bezjian told him "a great deal about conditions..." -.thereby clarifying the nature of their discussion.

AM5: p. 342.

LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diar'&127; entry for July I8,1915.

Caleb Gates, Not To Me Only. Princetown (Princetown University Press),1940. See pp. 188- for Gates' less than flattering portrait of Talaat. However, despite numerous anecdotes about his relations with Talaat during the war years, Gates makes no reference to the 'gossip' he passed on to Morgenthau, which the latter chose to present to the world as fact.

AMS: p. 380.

LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diary' entries for Scptcmber,1915. See also: FDR: FIMS - Box No. 8: Morgenthau to family 'Letters' of September 13,1915. and October l,10,16, and 25,1915.

LC: PHM-Reel No. S: Morgenthau 'Diary' entry for October 7,1915.

AMS: p. 390.

LC: PHM-Reel No.5: Morgenthau "Diary" entry for January 29, l916.

AMS :p. 391

FDR: HMS - Box No.12: Morgenthau to Lansing letter of September 22,1918.

FDR: HMS - Box No.12: Lansing to Morgcnthau letter of October 2,1918.

FDR: HMS - Box No.12: Page 6 of 'Article Nine' appended to the Lansing to Morgenthau letter of October 2,1918.

FDR: HMS - Box No.12: Ibid.

FDR: HMS - Box 12: Morgenthau to Hendrick letter of October 3,1918 includes the following passages: "Enclosed please find suggestions of the Secretary of State. I have marked the pages upon which they appear in the typewritten article which we sent him. I think most of the suggestions are good.. In regard to suggestion 3, I think it would be well to insert at the end of line 13, after the word "ADDED", WITH THE USUAL INSINCERE ORIENTAL POLITENESS!"

LC:PHM-Reel No.5: Morgenthau "Diary" entry for January 29, 1916

A Contemporary view of Ambassador Morgenthau's Story

Nor was the treatment accorded Talaat Bey by Morgenthau unique in any way. A similar comparison of the comments he made about Enver Pasha (and other Young Turk leaders), and the German Ambassador Wangenheim, with his actual opinions of their characters as recorded in his daily 'Diary,' in the 'Letters' to his family members, and even in the dispatches he sent to the Department of State in Washington, D.C., establishes a similar lack of veracity in Ambassador Morgenthau's Story. The best that can be said in defence of Morgenthau's rewriting of history is that between his departure from Turkey at the beginning of February, 1916 and two years later when the book was written in 1918, he must have radically altered his opinion about the cause and effect of events on which he had reported. An alternative explanation, and one which seems far more likely, is that he so truly believed in the justness of his goal to stir up public opinion in favor of President Wilson's war policies, that he convinced himself he was serving the greater good by making crude stereotypes of three individuals (Talaat, Enver and Wangenheim), whose friendship and confidence he had shared throughout his tenure in Constantinople. Therefore he portrayed them as evil incarnate, in his desire to 'personalise' the evil of the war.

Did no one comprehend the enormity of the injustice perpetrated by Morgenthau's book? This is the question which must occur to anyone who systematically compares the written records compiled by Morgenthau in the course of his twenty six month sojourn in Turkey (a record which shows him to have been a fairly active participant in a very complex game of international politics), with the crude half truths and outright falsehoods which typify his book from cover to cover. A single letter, fortuitously preserved among the Morgenthau papers in the Roosevelt Library,105 addressed to the Ambassador by George A. Schreiner, proves that at least one of his contemporaries took strong exception to his efforts.

Dated December 11,1918, the Schreiner letter, written by a distinguished foreign correspondent who had served in Turkey from February through the end of 1915, literally gives voice to all the queries we must have after this examination. We recognise Schreiner's name from references to him in Ambassador Morgenthau's Story. 106 in the 'Diary' entries for 1915,107 and from mention in the weekly family 'Letters' as well. 108 There can in fact be no question that Morgenthau and Schreiner saw quite a bit of one another in 1915 as the 'Diary' records the two men met on no less than thirty occasions between the dates of 9 February and 31 May.109 In his book, Morgenthau refers to Schreiner as "the well-known American correspondent of the 'Associated Press,110 while in the Diary en for February 9, 1915, he adds the information that Schreiner was a "special travelling correspondent of the 'Associated Press of America"' whose stories were carried in "937 daily papers."111

Schreiner, whose letter to Morgenthau was occasioned by a chance meeting in the State Department (in December, 1918) as well as by the fact that he had recently read Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, addressed him in the following terms:

"…. I am writing this letter under the impression that the peace of the world will not gain by such extravagant efforts as yours. Before there can be understanding among peoples each must have the right perspective of things, and that perspective consists of knowing the true proportions of right and wrong."

"Since I knew Baron Wangenheim probably better than you did, I do hope that future historians will pay little attention to what you said of the man. But it has ever been easy to slander the dead. You know as well as I do that the German ambassador was not at all the figure you and your collaborator have fashioned.

Ambassador Morgenthau: Unethical

The unethical lawyer 

Nor did you possess in Constantinople that omniscience and omnipotence you have arrogated unto your self in the book. In the interest of truth I will also affirm that you saw little of the cruelty you fasten upon the Turks. Besides that you have killed more Armenians than ever lived in the districts of the uprising. The fate of those people was sad enough without having to be exaggerated as you have done. I have probably seen more of the Armenian affair than all the Armenian attaches of the American embassy together.

"… To be perfectly frank with you, I cannot applaud your efforts to make the Turks the worst being on earth, and the German worse, if that be possible, You know as well as I do, that Baron Wangenheim all but broke relations with the Turks on one occasion, when to his pleas for the Armenians he was returned a very sharp answer by Talaat Bey, then minister of the interior. Has it ever occurred to you that all governments reserve to themselves the right to put down rebellion? It seems to me that even Great Britain assumed that stand towards the Fathers of the Republic. That the effort of the Turk went beyond all reasonable limits is most unfortunate, but have you ever considered for a moment that in the East they do not view things with the eye of those of the Occident?

"… I wonder what your erstwhile friends in Constantinople think of that effort. Enver especially fares poorly, and this after you had made so much of him. Is it not a fact that Enver Pasha was as enlightened a young leader as could be found? Of course, he was rather inexperienced, as you know somewhat impulsive and given to being confidential, often in the case of untrustworthy characters. Apart from that he was in no respect what you picture him. Of course, if we are to take it for granted that we of the West are saints, then the Turk is any good. You will agree with me, no doubt, that the Turks count among the few gentlemen still in existence.

"I do not want you to look upon this as a declaration of war. My purpose in mentioning these matters is to let you know that there is at least one human being not afraid to break a lance with an ex ambassador of the United States. Ultimately truth will prevail. I have placed my limited services at her command... Of diplomatic events on the Bosphorus more will be heard as soon as I can get at my notes and documents now in Europe. I do not rely on memory in such cases, as my book may have shown to you already. Being a newspaper man, instead of a diplomat, I must be careful in what I say." 112

Almost seventy two years were to pass before Schreiner's claim that "ultimately truth will prevail,' was to even begin to tarnish the self image of "omniscience and omnipotence" which Morgenthau attributed to himself in his 'Story,' and, before Morgenthau's efforts "to make the Turk the worst being on earth," were to be queried. Ironically, it was Morgenthau's penchant for keeping old letters that accounts for the fortuitous survival of the Schreiner letter. 113

Schreiner's analysis of Morgenthau's aims and objectives was correct. Without being privy to the Wilson-Morgenthau correspondence prior to the Ambassador's decision to produce his book, Schreiner realised and rejected the rationale that such a work could in any way contribute to the "peace of the world," due to its failure to distinguish the "true proportions of right and wrong."

Likewise, he understood and rejected Morgenthau's efforts to blacken the reputation of the deceased German Ambassador Wangenheim, as well as those of Talaat Bey and Enver Pasha, and the Turks in general. And he did so on the grounds that from first hand experience he knew that this was not the way Morgenthau actually felt while in Constantinople. Further, Schreiner rejects Morgenthau's treatment of the Armenian persecutions and charges him with having "killed more Armenians than ever lived in the districts of the uprisings." In so doing, Schreiner makes the interesting point "that I have probably seen more of the Armenian affair than all the Armenian attaches of the American embassy together." That he had indeed been an eyewitness to events in Anatolian is shown by an examination of Schreiner's book on his experiences in Turkey: From Berlin to Baghdad: Behind the Scenes in the Near East,114 in which he details meeting the first convoy of Armenian deportees (those who had revolted in Zeytun), on the road near Adana on April 26 1915.115 Upon his return to Constantinople he wrote up these experiences and presented them to Morgenthau, thereby providing the Ambassador the first eyewitness account of the deportations he received. Indeed, the original of this document, dated and signed by Schreiner on May 24, 1915, is still preserved in the Morgenthau papers. 116

Perhaps we owe the survival of the Schreiner letter in the Morgenthau material to the veiled threat with which it ends. When Schreiner states: "of diplomatic events on the Bosphorus more will be heard as soon as I can get at my notes and documents now in Europe," Morgenthau may have taken it as a sign of Schreiner's intent to place before the public the kinds of charges found in the letter. If that was the case, his fears were not rewarded. Schreiner did indeed write a book attacking Wilson's habit of sending untrained individuals as Ambassadors to European capitals in wartime, and, as might be expected, Morgenthau is one of his case studies of this practice. However, The Craft Sinister, as his book was titled, adds little detail to the charges contained in the letter. 117 This despite a comment in his 'Preface' which leads the reader to think otherwise:

"It is to be hoped that the future historian will not give too much heed to the drivel one finds in the books of diplomatist-authors. I at least have found these books remarkably unreliable on the part played by the author. It would seem that these literary productions are on a par with the 'blue books' published by governments for the edification of the public and their own amusement, as in some cases I will show."118

What Schreiner contents himself with doing, in a chapter titled "Diplomacy in Turkey," is to detail the close relationship which existed between Morgenthau and his German counterpart, Baron Wangenheim, and, likewise, the very warm friendship in which Morgenthau held Enver Pasha. He prefaces his remarks on the Wangenheim Morgenthau relationship by saying:

"But the books of diplomatists must not be taken too seriously. The ambassador who avers that from the very inception of trouble he was with this or with that side may be doing nothing more than presenting just one side of his attitude, with slight exaggerations, possibly. The fact in this case is, Mr. Morgenthau was well liked by the German diplomatists in Pera, and, long after the outbreak of the War, was not averse to being known as a friend of Baron Wangenheim." 119

As for Morgenthau's contacts with Talaat Bey and Enver Pasha, Schreiner writes:

"Among the men who especially cultivated the new United States ambassador was Enver Pasha, who was a welcome guest at the teas or luncheons of Mme. Morgenthau long after Turkey had entered the War. Talaat Bey, too, was on the best terms with the American ambassador, and so were a number of other officials and officers." 120

Anyone doubting the accuracy of Schreiner's statements in this regard has only to peruse the pages of Morgenthau's 'Diary' and family 'Letters.' As late as January 12,1916, just two weeks before he left Constantinople for good, Morgenthau records the following exchange with Talaat Bey:

"I then tried for Talaat Bey and he agreed to receive me. We called on him and found him in very good humor... In speaking about our not seeing each other, I told him he should come to see me. He told me he could not come until he was invited. So I asked him for what he wanted to be invited, lunch or supper. He preferred luncheon, so I invited him and asked whom else I should invite. He said Halil [Minister of Foreign Affairs]. I said allright and he said you need not invite him, I will bring him, I can answer for him." 121

Three days later, on 15 January, Morgenthau recorded his reaction to the luncheon in the following terms:

"At 12:30 Talaat and Halil came and we went over our business and then we had lunch at which Philip and Schmavonian joined us. It was a very strange proceeding so to say to have the government come to me to transact business.

"We had a very elegant luncheon, and they both, as I told them 'the stout members of the Cabinet,' displayed extraordinary appetite..." 122

It is simply impossible to reconcile the above bantering tone, which a scant two weeks prior to Morgenthau's final departure from Turkey still marked the two men's relationship, with the portrayal of Talaat Bey as a devil incarnate which permeates Ambassador Morgenthau's Story from beginning to end.

The fact is, as Schreiner said so openly in his letter to Morgenthau, and as a comparison between the facts as recorded in Morgenthau's 'Diary' and 'Letters' and the text of Ambassador Morgenthau's Story so clearly illustrates, the book is a fictionalised account woven around real events and real characters in such a manner as to give it the gloss of factual history.


FDR: HMS - Box No.12: Schreiner to Morgenthau letter of December 11,1918.

AMS: p. 225: Interestingly, Morgenthau claims to have "secured permission" for Schreiner to visit the war-zone in the Dardanelles, a statement strongly contradicted both by the testimony of the Morgenthau Diary entries dealing with his relationship with the journalist, and, in the Schreiner letter as well. In regard to Morgenthau's claim, Schreiner wrote: "Such minor matters as that you were responsible for my trip to the Dardanelles, when that was at all the case, I can afford to overlook..." (FDR: HMS - Box No.12) -Schreiner to Morgenthau letter of December 11,1918.

LC: PIIM-Reel No. 5: Morgcntllau 'Diary entries for 1915 show that Schreiner visited on the following dates: 2/9, 2/10, 2/11, 2/14, 2/15, 2/16 (twice), 2/18, 2/20, 2/22, 2/23, 2/25, 2/26, 2/27, 3/2, 3/16, 4/5, 4/6 (twice), 4/9, 4/13, 4/14, 4/15, 4/16, 4/17, 4/18, 4/22, 5/23, 5/24, 5/31, 6/8, 7/2, 7/12, 8/9, 8/27, and 8/29/1915.

FDR: IIMS-Box Nu. 7: Family 'Letter' of March 15,1915, p. 9, where Morgenthau comments on Schreiner, who was covering the Dardanelles campaign at the time of Morgenthau's two-day visit, in the following terms: "We then returned to our ship where I was met by the two American reporters, one representing the American Associated Press, and the other the Chicago Daily News, and I willingly submitted to an interview. They acted like a couple of young fellows off on a fishing trip. They told me they were being very well treated and given every opportunity to witness the fight. They are both strongly pro-German. Schreiner, of the Associated Press, was born in South Africa and fought against the English there. The other one Swing is the grandson of a former President of Holyoke College." (LC: P IM - Reel No. 5: 'Diary' entries for February-March,1915).

LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diary' entries for dates between February 9, 1915 and May 31,1915.

AMS: p. 225.

LC: PIIM - Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diary' entry for February 9,1915.

FDR: FIMS - Box No.12: Schreiner to Morgenthau letter of December 11,1918.

While scattered throughout several reels of the 'Library of Congress: Papers of Henry Morgenthau' material, there are letters dealing with the book, most are clearly in the nature of congratulatory notes. Schreiner's is the only example of a letter written by a close acquaintance of Morgenthau in the Constantinople period expressing strong disagreement with the views set forth in the book.

Among the numerous publications of George A. Schreiner, that dealing in greatest detail with his assignment in Turkey, is: From Berlin to Bagdad: Berlin the Scenes in the Near East. I New York (Harper & Brothers),1918. Strangely, this 350 page detailed diary-like account of the nine month period in 1915 which Schreiner spent in Turkey, seldom if ever is mentioned in 'Bibliographies' of books dealing with the period of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War. It is an eyewitness account to some of the most significant clashes of the Dardanelles campaign and many other interesting events. (Hereafter: Schreiner, Near East).

Schreiner, Near East: pp.18213, a chapter titled: "Armenia's Red Caravan of Sorrow,' is evidently the earliest eyewitness account of the 1915 Armenian deportations.

LC: PHM-Reel No. 22: A two-page single spaced typewritten document, bearing the title: "Statements concerning Armenians met on road from Bozanti to Tarsus" and signed: George A. Schreiner Constantinople, May 24,1915.

George A. Schreiner, The Craft Sinister: A Diplomacy Political History of the Great War and its Causes-Diplomacy and International Politics and Diplomatists as Seen at Close Range by an American Newspaperman who Serve in Central Europe as War and Political Correspondent. New York (G. Albert Geyer),1920. For American diplomacy in Turkey, see: pp.110-135 in particular. (Hereafter: Schreiner, Craft Sinister).

Schreiner, Craft Sinister: p. xxi.

Schreiner, Craft Sinister: p.126.


LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diary' entry of January 12,1916.

LC: P IM-Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diary entry for January 15,1916.

Why Bother With Ambassador Morgenthau's Story Today? 


Were this book to have remained simply the memoirs of a successful real-estate developer, turned campaign fund-raiser, who was rewarded for his efforts not with the cabinet post of Secretary of the Treasury, which he sought, but with the lesser political plum of Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, we could forget Henry Morgenthau as the world would have done half a century ago. But this is not the case. In 1990, seventy two years after its initial appearance, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story is still in print. In the same year it has been repeatedly cited on the floors of the U.S. Congress, by a host of well-meaning Senators, as proof of the fact that the Young Turk Government planned and carried out a 'genocide' against its Armenian minority.l23 Currently, a number of 'Genocide and Holocaust Studies Curricula Guides' which are in use in high schools in the U.S. expose students to passages from the book as furnishing examples of the twisted minds that can plan and perpetrate a genocide, etc. etc.l24 In short, far from having found the well-earned rest it deserves, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story remains today a lynch pin in the body of literature which has and continues to present the Turks as some of the unrepentant genocidal villains of history. 

While the purpose of the present study is less an examination of the question of whether or not the fate of the Ottoman Armenians ought to be described as 'genocide,' and more of an attempt to distinguish between the reality and the fantasy in Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, we must need be cognisant of the broader implications it suggests. 

In addition to his role as the U.S. envoy in Constantinople, Morgenthau must be seen as the key figure in disseminating reports to the rest of the world about the wartime suffering of the Ottoman Armenians. Indeed, there are three names generally associated with spreading the Armenian saga while the war continued. They are Lord Bryce, whose 1916 compilation of documents entitled: The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, sounded the first alert; the German Protestant Pastor Johannes Lepsius, whose 1917 18 Le Rapport Secret du Dr. Johannes Lepsius sur les Massacres D'Arméninne,126 spread word to the rest of Europe; and, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, which appeared simultaneously in Europe and the United States in 1918. What is less known is the relationship between these three works, and, in particular, the role played by Henry Morgenthau in each of them. 

On July 31, 1915, Morgenthau's 'Diary' contains the following account of the first meeting between the American envoy and the German Pastor Lepsius: 

"At 3 p.m. Dr. Johannes Lepsius, from Potsdam, called. He told us a great deal about the Armenian matters and was anxious to know what we knew... Lepsius seems to be really in earnest to do something. He suggests going to Geneva from here and appeal to the International Red Cross, heads of the neutral nations, and Pope join in universal protest."127

The family 'Letter' which discusses this meeting repeats the above and adds the following: "I arranged an interview between Tsamados, the Greek Charge d' Affairs and Lepsius, as the Professor wanted to know how the Greeks were treated."128 So impressed was Morgenthau by this meeting that on the very same day he sent a cipher telegram to the State Department requesting permission to provide all the information the Embassy had on file to Lepsius. In his words: 

"The Doctor [Lepsius] proposed to submit matter to International Red Cross for common action to try to induce Germany to demand a cessation of these horrors. He earnest requests access to information Embassy has on file. Will give him if Department has no objection. 129 

Though the request for access to information originated with Lepsius, the tone of Morgenthau's cipher makes it absolutely clear that he concurred with it. As a follow up to their 31 July meeting, Morgenthau invited Lepsius to dinner on the evening of August 3, 1915. Morgenthau's 'Diary' entry for that day records the following on their discussion: 

"We had a long and full discussion about Armenian affairs. Lepsius told us about his past activities in the matter... Lepsius thinks little can be done at present to stop the deportations but that he will go to Switzerland, Geneva, to stir up International Red Cross. I told him that he should see Helferich, and explain to him that this will be the economic destruction of Turkey and that the Germans would and empty husk when they obtained possession. I sent for Schmavonian and he came and participated in the discussion after supper."130 

On August 6, 1915, Morgenthau received a cipher telegram from Secretary of State Robert Lansing in Washington which stated that: "You are authorised to use your discretion in matter of giving Lepsius access to files."131 

Then on August 11, 1915, Lepsius once again visited Morgenthau and informed him that he "had expected to have interview with Enver that afternoon but had little hopes of accomplishing anything; that the authorities seemed set upon carrying through their scheme."132 On 14 August, Lepsius visited Morgenthau once again. The 'Diary' provides the following account of their meeting 

"Lepsius called, I gave him some of the reports to read and a translation of an Arabian pamphlet. He told me all about his interview with Enver. [He) was surprised how freely Enver talked to him about their plans to rid themselves of the Armenians. Enver told him that this was their opportunity and they were going to use it. He told him about 111e same thing that he had told me."33 

The family 'Letter' of August 2,1915 contains a passage which serves to clarify somewhat the opening sentence of the 'Diary' entry, due to the fact that from the 'Diary' it is unclear whether Morgenthau simply let Lepsius look over some reports ["I gave him some of the reports to read"), or whether he actually was given copies of the reports from the Embassy files. The 'Letter' indicates that in fact Lepsius was provided copies of the materials: 

Dr. Lepsius called and I gave him some of the reports we had received from our various Consuls and also the translation of a pamphlet written in Arabic."134 

Even without the above passages, a simple comparison of the accounts published in the Lepsius books with the reports submitted to Morgenthau by his Consuls and the American missionaries alike, would serve to establish that Morgenthau was a key source for the Lepsius work. Given the fact that Lepsius spent only a month in the Ottoman capital during the war, and that the number of German missionaries in the interior of Anatolia was relatively small, it is not surprising that much of his material on the deportations should have been derived from American Protestant missionary sources. The fact that Morgenthau's "discretion" consisted of giving Lepsius open access to his Embassy's files and copies of their contents, suggests that he may well have been stretching the intent of Lansing's instructions to their limit. 

Even more interesting is the fact that Morgenthau apparently chose to interpret Lansing's semi-approval in the case of Lepsius to mean that he was free to use his "discretion" whenever the occasion arose. And arise it did. Less than a month after receiving Lansing's cipher, Morgenthau received a letter from Lord James Bryce, with whom he had become acquainted in the course of a 1914 trip to Palestine. 

Bryce, who had already lent his name to Wellington House's propaganda usage of atrocity stories, in the case of the Report of the Committee on Alleged German Outrages, or the 'Bryce Report,' as it was commonly known, after commenting on the reports of "shocking massacres committed on the Armenians," comes to the real purpose of his letter. He asks: 

"If any reports come to your Embassy from the American missionaries scattered through Asiatic Turkey which would cast light on the situation, possibly you would allow me to see them occasionally. Your own consular reports would of course be sent to your own Government only." 135 

If Morgenthau bothered to request permission in this instance, a thorough examination of his papers and of the General Records of the U.S. Department of State, where, presumably copies of his cables should be, has failed to uncover it. But he certainly wasted no time in responding to Lord Bryce's request. Even a preliminary comparison of the documents in Bryce's 1916 The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, with the preserved copies of the reports submitted to Morgenthau, clearly establishes the extent to which he served as a source for Bryce.136 or was he bothered by Bryce's reminder (or was it a hint to the contrary?) that his own 'consular reports' should of course be sent only to the State Department. For, within a few months of their submission the reports of the American Consul J. B. Jackson from Aleppo were published, albeit anonymously, in the Bryce volume.137

That this was no coincidence, i.e., that the British had not gotten hold of this material from other sources, is confirmed by no less an authority than Morgenthau himself, who, writing in the Red Cross Magazine of March,1919 said the following about his role in supplying material to Bryce:

"I took occasion, in order that the facts might be accurately recorded, to have careful records kept of the statements which were made to me by eye-witnesses of the massacres. These statements included the reports of refugees of all sorts, of Christian missionaries, and of other witnesses... Much of the material which I collected has already been published in the excellent volume of documentary material collected by Viscount Bryce. 

When one realises that this material which forms the backbone of what was one of the most effective pieces of wartime propaganda directed against the Turks was supplied to British intelligence by a neutral United States Ambassador where it was published as part of the British efforts to stir up the American public opinion against the Turks and Germans, with an eye to getting America into the war, one can not help but wonder about the discretion of Morgenthau himself.l3s Nor was the Bryce report the only British propaganda effort to make use of the Morgenthau material. Arnold Toynbee, described in one study on British propaganda during the First World War, as "the distinguished historian and member of Wellington House who became something of a specialist in atrocity propaganda, described and condemned the Turks in Armenian Atrocities: Murder of a Nation (London, 1915) and The Murderous Tyranny of the (Tur)k (London, 1917)."140 What is not mentioned is the fact that many of the atrocity stories published by Toynbee in the 1915 work, were supplied by none other than Henry Morgenthau. 141 

Leaving aside the all important question of the value of the material supplied by Morgenthau, one fact is indisputable, namely, his key role in the genesis of all the wartime atrocity books relating to the Turkish treatment of Armenians. Through his role as a conduit for material flowing to the German Lepsius and England's Lord Bryce and Arnold Toynbee, et al., Henry Morgenthau was a major factor in the shaping of American public opinion vis-à vis Turks and Armenians long before he ever approached President Wilson late in 1917 with the project which ultimately became Ambassador Morgenthau's Story. 

That such an important book has not until this monograph ever been the subject of a single published study, would be inconceivable in any historical field except that narrow subfield known as 'Turco-Armenian History,' where all too often, raw emotion serves as a substitute for dispassionate scholarship, and propaganda passes for history. 

What can be said of scholars working on the Armenian 'genocide,' who, in publication after publication, over the past decades quote the outright lies and half truths which permeate Morgenthau's 'Story' without ever questioning even the most blatant of the inconsistencies? 142 This, despite the fact that their bibliographies indicate that they have utilised the Morgenthau Papers in the Library of Congress collections wherein the 'Diary' is preserved. 143 

One can not help but wonder how many of the young Armenians who turned to the terrorist assassinations of Turkish officials (and bystanders) in tl1e 1970's and early 1980's, were influenced by reading Ambassador Morgenthau's Story? How many of them came to view innocent individuals not even born at the time of the First World War as fair game for terrorist attack simply because they were ethnic descendants of Talaat Bey, who (according to Morgenthau) bragged that he had "accomplished more toward solving the Armenian problem in three months than Abdul Hamid accomplished in thirty years. The duty of scholars is to find, nourish and preserve truth. It should not be to help perpetuate hate by disseminating fantasy as fact and outright lies as truth. Henry Morgenthau, Sr. has been dead for forty four years. It is long past the time that his book should likewise be laid to rest. His legacy rightfully lies in the 'Diary, his family 'Letters' and his cabled dispatches and written reports in the form of letters submitted to the U.S. Department of State during his twenty six month stay in Turkey. They, and they alone, are the real Ambassador Morgenthau's Story. 


The Congressional Records-Senate' for the dates of February 20-22 and 27,1990 are full of references to Morgenthau's 'Story' as proof of contention that the Ottoman Armenians were victims of a Turkish perpetrate ed 'genocide' during World War I.

A good case in point (one of many) is the Margot Stern Strum and William S. Parsons, Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behvior. Watertown, Massachusetts (International Education),1982, a curriculum which is widely used in a variety of states throughout the country. In pp. 31682 of this guide a chapter titled: 'The Armenians -A Case of a Forgotten Genocide- Do We Learn From Past Experiences?," makes frequent use of Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, including lengthy quotations on pp. 322-323, 367-68 and 372. 

Great Britain: The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire: Documents Presented to Viscount Grey of Fallodon, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. With a Preface by Viscount Bryce. London (Hodder & Stoughton),1916. This tome of over 700 pages in length was actually compiled by the historian, Arnold Toynbee. (Hereafter: Toynbee: Treatment). 

Lepsius, Johannes: Le Rapport Secret du Dr. Jolannes Lepsius sur les Massacres 'Arménie. Paris (Payot & Cie.).1918. 

LC: PHM -Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diary' entry for July 31,1915. 

FDR: HMS - Box No. 8: Morgenthau 'Letter' of August 9,1915, p.9.

NA; Record Group 59: 867.4016/83 for text of Morgenthau to Secretary of State telegram of July 31,1915. See also:

LC: PIIM-Reel No. 7:'Paraphrase' in Morgenthau papers of cipher telegram to the Department of State, dated July 31,1915. 

NA: Record Croup 59: 867.4016/83 telegram of August 4,1915 from Lansing to Morgenthau. See also: LC: PHM- Reel No. 7:'Paraphrase' in Morgenthau papers of cipher telegram from Lansing in Washington dated 4 August and received August 6,1915. 

LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diary' entry for August 11,1915. 

LC: PHM-Reel No. 5: Morgenthau 'Diary' entry for August 14, 79l5. 

FDR: HMS - Box No. 8: Morgenthau Letter dated August 23 1915 .5 

LC: PIIM - Reel No. 7: Bryce to Morgenthau letter of August 7,1915. For a discussion of the manner in which Lord Bryce lent the credibility of his name to the propaganda efforts of Wellington House which were designed to bring the United States into the war, see: Michael Sanders & Philip M. Taylor, British Propaganda During the First World Wnr,1914-1918. London (The Macmillan Press),1982. pp. 143-144. (Hereafter: Sanders/Taylor, Propaganda). 

Morgenthau's papers, in particular: LC: PHM- Reels No. 7 arul22, contain copies of a large number of missionary, consular and traveler reports, submitted to Morgenthau between early May and the end of 1915. 

See for example, Toynbee, Armenians: p. 547:'Aleppo: Series of Reports From a Foreign Resident at Aleppo; Communicated by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief: Report dated 12th May 1915.' The "foreign resident" at Aleppo was none other than the American Consul J.B. Jackson, and the passage in question is taken directly from a report he submitted to Morgenthau (See: LC: PHM - Reel No. 7). 

Henry Morgenthau, "The Greatest Horror in History,' Red Cross Magazine (March,1919), p.8. 

Sanders/Taylor, Propaganda: pp.144-46.

Sanders/Taylor, Propaganda: pp.145-46. 

A comparison of the contents of Arnold J. Toynbee s: Armenian Atrocities: TI Murder of a Nation. London (Hodder & Stoughton), 7915, and The Murderous Tyranny of to Turks. London (Hodder & Stoughton),1917, with the missionary, consular, and traveler reports preserved in the Morgenthau papers (See: LC: PHM - Reels Nos. 7 m 22) establishes this fact. On the basis of the surviving record it is impossible to state with certainty that Morgenthau passed the material directly to Bryce/Toynbee. He may have done so through intermediaries. 

A case in point is the Armenian-American scholar Richard G. Hovannisian, who from his early works such as: Richard G. Hovannisian, Armenia on the Road to Independence, 1918. Berkeley (University of California),1967. p;52 until the recent: Richard G. Hovannisian, ed., The Armenian Genocide in Perspective. New Brunswick (Transaction Books),1986: pp.29-30 (in his article entitled: "Historical Dimensions 1878-1923" ' and, again on p. 112 in his article: "The Armenian Genocide and Patterns of Denial"), makes frequent use of quotations from Morgenthau. Clearly, Hovannisian, whose current activities focus on lecturing and writing on those who attempt to deny the historical reality of the Armenian 'genocide' (most recently, his: "Patterns of Denial Fail to Veil Genocide," in Armenian International Magazine. Volume l., No. I (July,1990), pp.16-17), might benefit from a more careful examination of the sources upon which he bases his characterisation of the fate of the Ottoman Armenians. 

Richard C. Hovannisian, The: a Bibliography Relating to the Deportations, Massacres, and Dispersion of the Armenian People,1915-1923. Cambridge, Massachusetts (Armenian Heritage Press),1980. On page 13, in a listing of collections of papers preserved in the U.S. Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Hovannisian makes the following reference to the Morgenthau papers: "Henry Morgenthau Sr. (includes hundreds of reports about the massacres and the Ambassador's futile attempts to intercede). Despite the fact that such reports number in the dozens rather than the hundreds, Hovannisian's statement implies (given the absence of published studies in 1980 based on these papers), that he must indeed have examined the 'Papers of Henry Morgenthau' preserved in the Library of Congress. 

  Holdwater's Closing Comment

And yet, Professor Levon Marashlian writes a letter to a major newspaper stating Morgenthau's testimony is "unimpeachable"... in addition to his mentor, Richard Hovannisian, referring to Morgenthau as a valid source.

Professor Lowry, how you must have suffered when the Armenian forces, led by Peter "Mr. Double Killing" Balakian, mobilized against you, easily recruiting famous literary names who only relied on the Armenians' side of the story, in their blind ignorance or racism, and harassed your good reputation and psychological well-being for two years... the effects of which continue, thanks to the ubiquitous Armenian web sites reporting on what a Turk-Tool you were, in an attempt to keep discrediting you.

 The only thing that matters is the quality of your research, when all is said and done. The impeccable job you have done on "The Story Behind Ambassador Morgenthau's Story," along with the few of your other works that I have read (featured on this TAT web site), speaks for itself. You have much to be proud of.


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