The German Evaluation of the Turkish Aggression Against Armenians in 1918 – Yu. Barsegov

The German Evaluation

The need for a separate section for the documents on this short-term period is explained by several considerations.

It was the culmination point of the Ottoman Empire’s implementation of its pan-Turkic policy of territorial expansion. It was also the point of the spread of the Armenian Genocide policy beyond the pre-war Russian-Turkish border, to the South Caucasus subservient to Russia. Besides, it was a prerequisite for creating a second Turkish state in the region – the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic, a subject of territorial disputes with neighboring states. At the same time, the second subject of the territorial dispute in question appeared, which was the Republic of Armenia.

At the same time, the first attempt was made to resolve the territorial dispute with the support of the Ottoman Empire. The testimony of an ally of the Ottoman Empire, Germany, has special evidential force since this country pandered to the committal of the Armenian Genocide and was responsible for the creation of military and political prerequisites for the Turkish invasion of the South Caucasus in accordance with the predatory Brest-Litovsk treaty.

We provided only a small part of the documents confirming the spread of the Turkish-Azerbaijani practice of territorial expansion and the Armenian Genocide to Karabakh and the entire South Caucasus as an integral part of the political program of the pan-Turkic territorial expansion.

Major General Otto von Lossow, Germany’s military attache in Constantinople who was well-informed of the plans of the Ottoman Empire, stated on May 15, 1918: “The Turks proceeded with the complete extermination of Armenians in Transcaucasia.”

More details about this, including information about the participation of future “Azerbaijanis” in the Armenian Genocide, is provided by German Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Johann Heinrich Graf von Bernstorff in his report to the German Foreign Ministry of May 23, 1918:

“The annexation by the Turks of the Elisabethpol and Baku governorates with the consent of the Tatar population has already taken place. At the same time, the Turks advanced towards Baku and took positions there in order to expel the Bolsheviks.

The Turkish troops are on the front south of Akhalkalaki and are moving in the direction of Tiflis and Erivan. Kurdish and Tatar volunteers escort the Turkish army, committing plunder and killings in Armenian cities.

All men are taken away. To avoid clashes, Armenian troops are moving east. The Armenian population hastily goes to the east and should soon face the Tatars, which will lead to a massacre. The Turkish policy indicates that Turkey will not give an ultimatum and will achieve a fait accompli with regard to the ownership of the territory. The Armenian population will not have even a bit of land to live on.”

Germany’s attitude towards the territorial expansion of the allied Turkish Empire in Armenia beyond the borders provided by the rapacious Brest-Litovsk Treaty and towards the policy of the genocide of the Armenian population in the Caucasus is reflected in a number of documents.

The German Foreign Ministry in a telegram dated May 26, 1918, instructed the ambassador to inform the Turkish government that Germany “could neither approve nor support the further offensive of the Turkish troops in the Caucasus and the Turkish propaganda outside the counties of Kars, Ardahan, and Batum”.

The Kaiser government urged the government of the allied Ottoman Empire to “guarantee the appropriate treatment of Armenians in the areas occupied by Turkey.” It was stated that the Turkish government could no longer count “on the protection or support of military or diplomatic actions undertaken without their [Germany’s] consent or contrary to their advice.”

Germany disclaimed “all responsibility for such unauthorized actions” and announced that “Turkey should bear the responsibility for their consequences. If, as a result of arbitrary divisive actions, the general situation of Turkey deteriorated and the achievement of goals guaranteed by the treaty was questioned, Turkey would have to agree with this… Similarly, Germany would not be able “to defend Turkey if the Turkish side committed atrocities against the Christian population of the Caucasus.”

In this “strictly personal and top secret” document, the ambassador’s attention was drawn to the need to “guarantee proper treatment of Armenians.” In the Armenian issue, the Germans could no longer “be satisfied with mere assurances from Turkey.”

A real idea of the Turks’ intention to seize the Caucasian part of Armenia and exterminate its Armenian population is given by the minutes of a meeting at the German Reich Chancellor’s office of June 3, 1918, at which the issue of Turkey’s plans in the Caucasus was discussed.

General von Lossow noted that in the eastern part of the Transcaucasia, “Turkey had already had long-standing pan-Islamist points of contact. The country had a desire to seize the whole Caucasus not to restore order but to rob the country.”

He pointed out that “the ruling party of Talaat, which wanted to exterminate all Armenians not only in Turkey but also outside its borders,” sought to seize “all of Armenia up to the approaches to Erivan and Etchmiadzin.”

At the same meeting, German Foreign Minister Richard von Kühlmann noted that “the Turks were planning a new massacre of Armenians” and stated that Germany “did not intend to take responsibility for this before the world”.

On June 3, 1918, von Kühlmann informed the German ambassador to the Ottoman Empire about the Ottomans’ intent to exterminate Armenians: “Completely ignoring their promises, the Turks are achieving their goal of exterminating Armenians in the Caucasus or are allowing this to happen by passive approval.”

The telegram of the head of the German military mission in the Caucasus Major General Friedrich Kress von Kressenstein on the Turkish policy of exterminating the Armenians of the Caucasus of July 11, 1918, stated that “the Turks systematically aimed at… the extermination of the several hundred thousand Armenians whom they had left alive for now.”

On August 4, 1918, he also reported to the Foreign Ministry of Germany on the spread of the Turkish policy of the Armenian Genocide to Nagorno-Karabakh. General Kress von Krestenstein wrote:

“Here, I give a description of the present state of Armenia – what it is on the basis of my own observations and conversations with authoritative people. At present, Armenia is surrounded by Turks, except for Erivan and its outskirts, and is limited to a small high-mountainous area completely unfit for life.

The Turks did not follow the conditions of the Batum Treaty in regard to Armenians which they composed themselves. They occupied a number of areas on the other side of the border, the loss of which is very painful for Armenia since they were deprived of their last fertile areas.

Currently, Turkey wants to launch an offensive from Azerbaijan on Karabakh populated by Armenians and ravage the local population under the pretext that the local Armenians are aggressively opposed to Muslims. The Turkish policy is clear.

The Turks have the intention to exterminate the Armenians. Armenians are being pursued wherever possible – they are provoked for a pretext for new attacks…”

Referring to the Turkish invasion of Karabakh, the head of the German military mission in the Caucasus reported: “Recently, the Turks attempted to invade the purely Armenian province of Karabakh from Azerbaijan and disarm its population. If we do not prevent them from doing this, then we won’t able to prevent the mountain people of Karabakh capable of defending themselves from fighting against the Muslims.”

Field Marshal von Hindenburg in his memoirs, noting the connection between the Turkish “policy of the extermination of Armenians” and the Pan-Turkic ideology, indicated that “Turkey pursued a policy of the extermination of Armenians” in Transcaucasia. He wrote: “The terrible events… took place throughout the Ottoman Empire… and also occurred in the Armenian part of Transcaucasia by the end of the war.”

An excerpt from the book of Yu. Barsegov “Nagorno-Karabakh in international law and world politics”




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