Historical Photo of the Forced Eviction of Armenians of Erzurum

Historical Photo of the Forced

Within the framework of the special project “100 stories about the Armenian Genocide in photos”, the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute published a photo showing one of the episodes of the forced eviction of Armenians of Erzurum (Karin). The shot with people walking along the road towards Mesopotamia was made near the village of Sushykhir.

The author of the photo was Austrian biologist Victor Pitschmann. By the order of the German government, he was stationed in Erzurum from 1914 until the end of World War I where he was engaged in the formation of Turkish mountain rifle units, while at the same time drawing up maps of military operations in the Middle East for the main government body in Germany.

While traveling through Western Armenia and collecting information, he managed to take photographs of the forced eviction of Armenians. It is noteworthy that among the people captured in Pitschmann’s photographs, there are no men — only women with children can be seen on them. Most of the Armenian men had already been killed by that time.

The expulsion of the Armenian population from the province of Erzurum began in early July 1915. Historical sources and testimonies of the survivors speak of the terrible fate of the Erzurum Armenians. About 35-40 thousand Armenians were evicted from the city of Erzurum and the surrounding villages to Derjan, Yerznka, and Sebastia (Sivas).

Very few of them managed to survive and reach the desert of Deir ez-Zor. The exiles were killed along the way – men were shot or chopped with axes, women were raped and killed, many of them died of disease, thirst, hunger, and exhaustion. Inevitable death was awaiting the remaining helpless children and sick and infirm people.

“Armenian women, children, old people were burned and chopped, drowned in rivers, shot in whole groups, thrown from cliffs into gorges. Hungry and frozen people were put to death with cruel torture. Thousands of people died from epidemics on foot and during breaks. The inhabitants of the plains of Erzurum and Basen, women, children, and the elderly expelled from their native villages were forced to get to Mesopotamia.”

These lines were written by the Deputy Consul of Germany in Erzurum Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter in 1915.

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