The Armenian Tragedy – The Story of Ambassador Morgenthau

In the history of the United States, there were two ambassadors who managed to express their views on the Armenian Genocide, despite its official silence. One of them was the last U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau, who wrote the remarkable book “The Armenian Tragedy – The Story of Ambassador Morgenthau.” In the foreword, Morgenthau writes: “By this time, Americans probably realized that the Germans had deliberately planned to conquer the whole world and establish global dominance.

However, they are hesitant to openly accuse, relying only on circumstantial evidence, and for this reason, all witnesses of the greatest crime in modern history must not remain silent.

Thus, I cast aside doubts and decided to tell my compatriots about the facts I became aware of when I represented the American people in Turkey. I acquired this knowledge while serving the American people, and it belongs to them as much as it does to me.

I deeply regret that I had to keep silent about the activities of American missions and educational institutions in Turkey, but to give them their due, I would have had to write another book. For the same reason, I said nothing about the situation of the Jews in Turkey.”

Archival documents about the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire shed light on many aspects of the monstrous massacre. There is evidence of Imperial Germany’s responsibility for the Armenian Genocide. It was Germany that gave the Young Turks the idea of deportation and extermination of the peaceful Armenian population, labeling Armenians as the “fifth column” in the Ottoman Empire, acting in the interests of Russia.

The descendants of the Ottomans are unlikely to resemble any of the people I once knew. They don’t hate, they don’t love, they don’t harbor hostility or attachment to anyone for a long time. They just fear. And it’s quite understandable that they attribute to others the motives of their own behavior.

For centuries, the Turks’ attitude towards the Armenians and other subordinate peoples was barbaric. Their methods were always cruel, coarse, and unscientific. They bashed the brains of Armenians with clubs – this unpleasant metaphor is the most accurate illustration of the primitive methods used to address the Armenian issue.

The Turks knew how to kill, but in their execution, killing was not an art. The events of 1915-1916 demonstrated the emergence of new features. It’s about the concept of deportation.

Over the past five centuries, the Turks have invented countless ways to exterminate their Christians, but it never occurred to them that they could be expelled from the homes where their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers lived and sent to a lifeless desert.

Where did this idea come from? Admiral Usedom, one of the major German naval experts in Turkey, told me how the Germans recommended this deportation to the Turks.

But the main point is that today, this idea of deporting people en masse is inherently German. It can be encountered by anyone reading Pan-German literature…” writes Morgenthau.

At the same time, the German Ambassador Baron von Wangenheim wrote on May 31, 1915: “… Enver Pasha intends to, with the aim of thwarting Armenian espionage and preventing new mass Armenian uprisings, close most Armenian schools and newspapers using the martial law, prohibit mail correspondence, and relocate to Mesopotamia all the families that are not entirely blameless.

He strongly asks that we do not interfere with him in this. Of course, the Turkish measures will again lead to great indignation in the entire world that is hostile to us and will also be used against us… Of course, these actions carry harshness towards the Armenian population.”

However, I hold the opinion that we should perhaps soften these measures in form, but not oppose them in principle.” Two ambassadors and two polar views on the extermination of people. Note that Morgenthau was Jewish, while Wangenheim was Christian… By the way, in May 1915, the German ambassador died of a heart attack.

The personal library of the US Ambassador to Istanbul, Henry Morgenthau, was handed over to the Armenian Genocide Museum in Washington (AGMA). “We are extremely grateful to the Morgenthau family for entrusting the museum with this invaluable collection of books, which reflects the depth of thought of the ambassador-humanitarian,” said Van Krikorian, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Construction of the American Museum of the Armenian Genocide.

“In the pantheon of heroes who fought against the denial of the Genocide, Morgenthau’s name is immortal,” he noted.

Ambassador Morgenthau’s personal library includes books he acquired during his diplomatic service in Istanbul. The collection also includes the ambassador’s autobiography, “Instructions to US Diplomatic Officials,” which is a copy of the official edition held by the US State Department.

The second American diplomat to earn the respect of the Armenian people was John Evans, who publicly declared that the 1915 massacre was a genocide. During a meeting on February 19, 2005, with representatives of the Armenian community in San Francisco, John Evans stated, “Today I will call it the Armenian Genocide.”

Later, on February 28, 2005, speaking at the US embassy in Armenia, John Evans wished to clarify his statement from February 19. “I used the word ‘genocide’, which expresses my personal view – John Evans’s, not that of a political figure.”

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, he emphasized that his words were not a slip of the tongue. “I knew that using the word ‘genocide’ did not align with US policy. But 90 years is a long time, and it’s time to call things by their names,” John Evans stated.

In September 2006, the diplomat left Armenia and officially left the US State Department. “By July 2005, it was perfectly clear that they intended to kick me out.”

“The decision to recall US Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, was made by the State Department two months ago,” stated in 2006 the Los Angeles TV company “Horizon” by the chief editor of the Californian Courier newspaper, Arut Sasunyan.

According to him, while John Evans is still in office, “Armenians around the world have a duty to defend not just the ambassador, but more importantly, to raise the issue of recognizing the Armenian Genocide in the US. “If we remain silent, no one will take any action. Armenians around the world will never forget what Ambassador Evans did.

“At our initiative, throughout America where there are Armenian communities, as well as in Armenia, there is a campaign in support of John Evans with the slogan ‘We will not remember the words of enemies, but the silence of friends’,” Sasunyan emphasized.

The editor of the Californian Courier also noted that the US ambassador proved to be more committed than President George Bush. “Both during his first and second election campaigns, Bush promised to recognize the Armenian Genocide but never did. John Evans did,” Sasunyan said.

John Marshall Evans was awarded the “Henry Morgenthau” medal for outstanding services in public service. “Ambassador Evans is a man of firm principles, and if the US aspires to remain a bastion of democracy and freedom for people worldwide, they should not punish the truth about the Armenian Genocide.

This especially applies to public officials representing US interests abroad,” stated the chairman of the board of trustees of the Armenian Assembly of America, Zhirayr Ovnanian.

The leadership of the Assembly has awarded Ambassador John Evans an honorary award for his courage in the matter of recognizing the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey, which is an example worthy of emulation.

Meanwhile, in 2006, John Evans was still trying to deflect the wrath of the State Department. In his interview with the author of these lines on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, he stated:

“I would like to refer to President Bush’s message from April 24th, where he notes: ‘Today we remember one of the most terrible tragedies of the 20th century – the mass murder and deportation of 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.”

It was a tragedy for all of humanity, one that neither we nor the entire world should forget. We mourn this tragic chapter of history and understand that it remains a painful wound for Armenia and for those who believe in freedom, tolerance, and the value of human dignity.

In the souls of people – in Armenia, the US, and Armenians living worldwide – it is admirable that they managed to overcome these sufferings and proudly preserved their ancient culture, traditions, and faith.

I would also like to recall the words of Deputy Secretary of State Dan Fried, which he spoke in March of this year. “The US position on the events of 1915 has not changed. We believe the best way forward is through a productive dialogue among historians, which will pay tribute to these horrific events – the mass murders and forced deportations.

1.5 million people were killed and became innocent victims. However, we prefer to promote reconciliation and peace, based on an understanding of history and not its denial.

We believe that the tragedy of 1915, the killings, hold exceptional significance, and their historical evaluation should be provided not by politicians but by representatives of the public and scholars. This process began in Turkey, where it should take place.”

These two American diplomats did a monumental deed – they called things by their real names and will forever remain in the memory of the Armenian people. It’s worth adding that a portion of Morgenthau’s ashes is buried in the “Memory Wall” of the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Tsitsernakaberd.

ин Karina Ter-Saakyan

Translated by Vigen Avetisyan

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