About Relocation

Although the foreign observers, who were at the locations of relocation, wrote that the Ottoman Government’s performance was perfect and done with care in spite of war conditions, the western press preferred to mislead the events. Likewise, although Edward Natan, the consul of America in Mersin, reported that relocation has been carried out regularly, (1) the Ambassador of U.S.A. in Istanbul, Morgantau, has related the events in a completely opposite way to his country and the American press has used these events against Turks. According to the claims issued in the newspapers, Morgantau bribed the Ottoman Government and purchased some Armenians to send them to America; furthermore he has saved some English, Russian and French citizens in Istanbul. A Turkish citizen in U.S.A. reported all these lies and false information used by the press on September 14th 1915 (2).

In the frame of the reports of English consuls in Iran, claims such as killing of 1.000.000 Armenians was discussed in the English Parliament and the parliament decided to protest the Turkish Government. Furthermore, the “Blue Book” published about the Armenian events in England included news claiming that over a third of 1.800.000 Armenians claimed to exist in the Ottoman country were murdered. (3)

Against those ill — willed publications, some objective Western press members have reported that the events were falsely communicated on purpose. In an article issued in a Stockholm newspaper which uses the headline “Massacre in the Ottoman Province, Where the Armenians live”, the absurdity of such claims and the reasons for creating such false news were explained. (4)

The Ottoman Government has declared the English claims to be false on January 4th 1917 with the signature of the Undersecretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (5) In the denial letter, it has been expressed that the Armenian population living in the Ottoman country has never reached 1.000.000, that this amount has decreased due to the migrations that took place before the war and the claims were denied. In the same document, it was pointed out that the Germans were held responsible for the murders of Armenians in an article of a certain issue of the “Times”.

Halacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf, Facts Relating to the Armenian Displacement (1915), TTK Publication, Ankara, 2001.

1) See document 664.
2) See document 665
3) DH, EUM, 2nd Branch, File 1, document 23 (see document 668)
4) DH, EUM, 2nd Branch, File 1, document 76 (see document 669)
5) DH, EUM, 2nd Branch, File 1, document 23 (see document 668).

The migration was sometimes stopped during relocation both due to the weather conditions and congestion. Starting from November 25, 1915, with the orders sent to the provinces, the migration has been provisionally interrupted due to winter. (1) On February 21st 1916, an order was sent to all provinces to stop the Armenian relocation. However, it has been indicated that this would not cover the harmful people, the ones related with the committees would be immediately collected and sent to Zor province subdivision. (2)

Upon the administrative and military necessity, a general order was sent stating that as of March 15th 1916, the Armenian migration was stopped and no relocation would be made for any reasons thereafter. (3)

After the completion of relocation, since the Armenians were mostly settled mostly in Syria province, the Armenian Patriarchy in Istanbul was closed on August 10th 1916 and moved to Jerusalem. Sis and Akdamar Cathogicospacies were united and moved to Jerusalem. (4) The chairmanship of the newly established patriarchy has been given to Sis Cathogicospos Sahak Efendi. (5)

Following the end of the 1st World War, Ottoman Government has issued a decree for the return of the Armenians subjected to relocation to their former locations. In the letter sent by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Mustafa Pasha to the Prime Ministry on January 1919, it is indicated that orders have been given to the related places for the transportation of the Armenians, who wanted to return, to their former locations and that the necessary precautions have been taken. (6) The decree of return prepared by the government, dated December 31st 1918 is as follows:

1- Only the ones, who want to return, will be migrated, except those people, no one else will be touched.

2- The precautions necessary will be taken for assuring a good journey, and for preventing housing and catering shortage in the returning locations; the migration and returning transactions will be started after contact is established with the administrators of the regions they will return to and after the necessary precautions are taken.

3- The abandoned houses and lands will be returned to the owners.

4- The houses of the ones, where formerly immigrants have been placed, will be evacuated.

5- A few families may be settled in the same location temporally in order to provide sufficient housing.

6- Buildings such as churches, schools and the income generating locations will be returned to the society they belong to.

7- If requested, the orphans will be returned to their guardians, who will be carefully determined, or to their societies, after their identifications are carefully determined.

8- The ones, who have converted their religions, will be able to return to their former religion if they want to.

9- Among the Armenian women, who have married to Muslims and converted their religions will be free to return to their former religion. In this case their marriage act will be automatically canceled. The problems relating to the ones, who do not want to return to their former religion and not wish to divorce from their husbands will be dissolved by the courts.

10- The Armenian properties, which are not in anyone’s ownership, will be returned to their first owners and the return of those which have become the property of treasury will be decided with the approval of the property officers. Further explanatory minutes will be prepared about this issue.

11- The property sold to the Muslim immigrants will be delivered to their first owners gradually as their owners return. Article 4 will be definitely applied.

12- If the Muslim immigrants have made repairs and additions in the houses and stores that will be returned to their former owners, or if they have planted the lands and olive groves, the rights of both sides will be observed.

13- The immigration and expenses of the Armenians in need will be met from the Military College Allowance.

14- The amount of transportation made until the current time and the amount of transportation made and the target location of such transportation will be notified on the fifteenth and last days of each month.

15- The Armenians, who have left the Ottoman borders and who want to return, will not be accepted until a new order is issued.

The provisions of the decree explained herein above were valid for the Greek immigrants as well as the Armenians.

Halacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf, Facts Relating to the Armenian Displacement (1915), TTK Publication, Ankara, 2001.

1) Coding Office, no 57/273; no 58/124; no 58/161; no 59/123; no 60/190
2) Coding Office, no 61/72
3) Coding Office, no 62/21
4) For the new regulation made in 1916 for the Armenian Patriarchy, see Y. H. Batur, Turkish Revolution History, III/3, p. 57-59.
5) Coding Office, no 66/202; no 66/220; no 63/136
6) BA, BEO, no 341055. This letter of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has also been transferred to the Ministry of Courthouse and Sects due to its relation, on 26 Kanun-u evvel 1334 (January 8th 1919), by the Prime Ministry.

With an order issued on June 10, 1915, the properties of the Armenians subjected to displacement have been taken under protection. In accordance with the order, it has been decided to sell the properties by auction that may decay and the animals or the production houses that must be operated, by the commissions that were established and by auction and to send the money to their owners.

It is understood that the Ottoman Government showed great care in the implementation of this order. In order to prevent any misuse, a great care has been shown. Through the Commission on Abandoned Property, the money coming through the auction in the names of their owners was paid to the owners of such property. (1) When there was some gossip was made during these sales, the government has sent a coded telegraph to the governors, provinces and Commissions on Left Properties on August 3rd 1915 and forbidden the purchase of those properties by the state officers because this could lead to some misuses. (2) But, thereafter, this decision has been canceled in some province on the condition of paying the real value with cash. (3)

The government has taken all precautions in order to prevent any kind of unlawful actions. Likewise, in a coded telegraph sent to the Chairmanship of Commission on Abandoned Property of Sivas on August 11th 1915, it has been requested to take the precautions that would prevent profiteering and misuses. (4) Again on the same date, with an order sent to all provinces, the precautions to be taken and the applications to be performed about this issue were indicated in the form of articles (5)

In accordance with this order: “no suspected person would be permitted to enter the evacuated regions; in case some people have purchased properties against cheap prices, the sales would be canceled and the real value of the property would be determined so that illegal interests would be prevented; the displaced Armenians would be permitted to take any goods they want with themselves; among the goods that can not be carry away like, the ones that would decay would be sold, but the goods that would not decay would be protected in the name of their owners; care would be paid not to lose touch with the owner of the immovable assets that would be hired, transferred and pledged and if there was any applications carried out in violation of these provisions starting from the date of commencement of the migration, they would be canceled; that no disputes would be allowed about such goods; the Armenians subjected to migration would be permitted to sell their properties to anybody except the foreigners” (6)

The provisions in these orders were applied with great care and the art and commerce enterprises that remained from the Armenians were transferred in high prices to settlement companies, which were established, their real value. (7) The Commission on Abandoned Property has sent the money from sold properties to their owners. (8)

Halacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf, Facts Relating to the Armenian Displacement (1915), TTK Publication, Ankara, 2001.

1) Coding Office, no 53/303
2) Coding Office, no 54-A/259
3) Coding Office, no 55/107
4) Coding Office, no 54-A/385

5) For the texts of the laws issued about the properties of the displaced Armenians, see “Ahar mahallere nakledilen eshasin ve düyun ve matlubat-i metrukesi hakkinda kanun-u muvakkat”, Takvim-i Vekayi, September 14th 1331 and 18 Zilkade 1333, no. 2303, 7 year; furthermore, see Y.H.Bayur, Turkish Revolutions History, Ankara 1957, III/3, p. 45-46

6) Coding Office, no 54-A/388
7) Coding Office, no 61/31; no 60/275; no 60/277
8) Coding Office, no 57/348; no 57/349; no 57/350

The Government has written notices to all provinces before beginning the Armenian relocation and requested them to take precautions to meeting all needs of the companies that would pass through their regions and to stock food. (1)

Various orders have been given to Immigrant and Tribe Settling Directorate for food — beverage provision. (2) Sükrü Bey, the Immigrant and Tribe Settling Director was individually in charge for the determination and provision of the needs. (3) It is understood from the documents that a total of 2.250.000 kurus has been allocated to meet the needs of the companies and of this amount, 400.000 kurus has been allocated to Konya, 150.000 to Izmit province subdivision, 200.000 to Eskisehir province subdivision, 300.000 to Adana province, 300.000 to Halep province, 100.000 to Syria province, 300.000 to Ankara province, (4) 500.000 to Mousul province. (5)

Furthermore, the provinces could aid the immigrants from their own budgets and sometimes new money allocations were sent from the center in accordance with the condition of needs. (6) Meanwhile, a certain amount of money sent from America to be given to Armenian immigrants has been distributed to the Armenians under the knowledge of the government, by the American missioners and consuls. (7) Besides this, it has been understood that some Armenians living in America have secretly sent the money they collected among themselves to the Armenians subjected to immigration. (8)

The Ottoman Government, while spending such great amounts of money for relocation on one hand, either delayed or completely canceled the debts owed either to the state or individuals of the Armenians subjected to migration. Likewise in a coded telegraph sent by Talat Pasha to Maras Governor on June 1, 1915, he requested not to take back the debts of Armenians and in another order sent to all provinces on August 4th 1915, the tax debts of the displaced Armenians were postponed (9).

On the other hand, health officers have been assigned to the migrating companies for providing therapy in case of illness. (10) Furthermore, the legal proceedings about the criminal suspects, who were among the ones subjected to migration, were delayed. (11)

Halacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf, Facts Relating to the Armenian Displacement (1915), TTK Publication, Ankara, 2001.

1) Coding Office, no 55/291; no 55/341; no 57/345; no 57/351
2) Coding Office, no 55/152; no 55/291; no 55/341; no 55-A/17; no 55-A/135; no 57/110
3) Coding Office, no 55-A/16 (telegraph dated August 18th 1331 / August 31st 1915)
4) Coding Office, no 55-A/17

5) The budget of the Directorate of Settlement of Tribes and immigrants for the year 1331 was 78.000.000 kurus and 1332 budget was 200.000.000 kurus and this amount was spent for the Armenians, Greeks and Arabs subjected to relocation and the Muslims coming from the regions invaded by the enemy (BA, BEO, no. 334063).

6) Coding Office, no 53/305, no 55-A/118
7) Coding Office, no 60/281
8) Coding Office, no 60/178
9) Coding Office, no 54-A/268
10) Coding Office, no 54-A/226

11) With a notification sent from the Courthouse and Sects Ministry to the Office of the Grand Vizier, it is notified that a decision for judging the ones that are migrated at the locations they are sent to and the ones that are not migrated at the locations they were at (BA, BEO, no. 329176).

The relocation decision has not been applied to all Armenians. At the beginning, a part of the Armenians living in the regions (In Urfa, Germis and Birecik, Erzurum, Aydin, Trabzon, Edirne, Canik, Cannakkale, Adapazari, Halep, Bolu, Kastamonu, Tekirdag, Konya and Karahisar-i sahib) have been kept out of the scope of migration. (1) But, thereafter, when it has been certain that these people were also involved in various severity events, majority of them been subjected to migration. (2) The ill and the blind were not subjected to relocation and the Catholic and the Protestant ones, the soldiers and their families, the officers, merchants, some workers and masters were not subject to migration, either. Likewise, in the telegraphs sent to the provinces, it is requested not to move the ill, the blind, the disabled and the old and to settle them in the city centers. (3)

With the telegraphs sent to the related provinces on August 2, 1915 and August 15th 1915, it has been ordered not to subject the Armenians from the Catholic and Protestant sects to migration and to settle them in the cities they were currently in and to notify the number of their population. (5) The ones that have been subjected to migration by mistake have been settled in the cities they were currently in. (6). But among the ones that were kept out of the scope of migration, the ones that were observed to have harmful actions have been sent to new settlement regions regardless of their being Catholic or Protestant. (7)

In the coded telegraph sent to the provinces on August 15 1915, the Armenians providing service as officers and health personnel in the Ottoman army and their families have not been subjected to migration and left at their locations. (8) Besides this, the Armenians working in the branches of Ottoman Bank, in the Turkish Tobacco Monopoly and in some consulates have not been subjected to relocation, either, as long as they remained loyal to the government and their good behavior continued.

Furthermore, orphans and widowed women have not been subjected to migration and have been taken under protection in the villages and orphanages. (10) The children, who became orphans during the transportation have been sent to Sivas and settled in the orphanages there. (11) A general order was issued on April 30, 1916 about the Armenian families needing protection. With this order, the families with no guardians, whose male members either were transported or were in military service, were settled in the villages and towns, where there were no Armenians and their catering were met from the Immigrants’ Allowance. The children up to 12 were given to Muslim families at locations, where the orphanages were not sufficient and their education and development have been provided. 30 kurush was paid to the poor Muslim families to meet the expenses of the children from the Immigrants’ Allowance. Young and widowed women were permitted to marry Muslim men with their own will. (12)

Halacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf, Facts Relating to the Armenian Displacement (1915), TTK Publication, Ankara, 2001

1) Coding Office, no 54-A/155; no 56/ 114; no 56/ 225; no 56/ 226; no 57/89; no 57/177; no 59/ 218

2) Coding Office, no 54-A/271; no 54-A / 272 (July 22nd 1331/ August 4th 1915)
3) Coding Office, no 56/27; no 67/186
4) Coding Office, no. 54-A/ 251; no 55/20
5) Coding Office, no. 56/112 (September 6th 1331/ September 19th 1915, to Konya province)

6) About this issue, orders have been sent via telegraph to Sivas (Coding Office 56/176), Mamuretülaziz and Diyarbekir provinces (Coding Office no 56/172) on September 14th 1331 / September 26th 1915; to Konya (Coding Office, no 58/2) and Ankara (Coding Office, no 58/159) provinces on 1 Tesrinisani 1331 / November 14th 1915.

7) A telegraph in this way has been sent to Adana province on August 1331 / September 2nd 1915 (Coding Office, no. 55-A/23).

8) Coding Office, no. 55/18

9) Coding Office, no 56/36 (September 3rd 1331 / September 16th 1915); no 56/243 (September 17th 1331 / September 30th 1915); no 56/360 (September 28th 1331 / October 11th 1915).

10) Coding Office, no 54/411; no 54/450; no 54-A / 325
11) Coding Office, no 61/18-20

12) This order has been sent to Adana, Erzurum, Edirne, Halep, Hüdavendigar, Sivas, Diyarbekir, Mamuretülaziz, Konya, Kastamonu, Trabzon provinces and Izmit, Canik, Eskisehir, Karahisar-i sahib, Maras, Urfa, Kaysri, Nigde possessorships (Coding Office, no 63/147) and to Ankara province on May 17th 1332 / May 30th 1916 (Coding Office no 64/162).

Some Armenians have died as the result of the attacks made to some companies during the movement of Armenians towards their new settlement regions, especially by the Arabic tribes between Aleppo - Zor and Armenian committee member Urban. As understood from a coded telegraph dated January 8th 1916, the attacks on the roads between Aleppo and Meskene resulted in the death of many Armenians, (1) and that approximately 2.000 of the Armenians moving from Diyarbekir to Zor and from Saruc to Halep through Menbic road were robbed by the Urban tribes (2).

Again in Diyarbakir region, it has been notified that the gangs and the bandits killed almost 2.000 people including Armenians and Non - Muslims. Upon this event, it has been notified severely that such events should be immediately stopped and peace should be absolutely provided on the route of the companies, otherwise that province would be held responsible for the actions of the bandits. (3)

A coded telegraph sent to Diyarbekir, Mamuretülaziz and Bitlis provinces on June 14th 1915 informing that another company of 500 people were killed as the result of the Kurd attacks between Erzurum — Erzincan road. Upon this event, the use of any kind of instruments against the attacks of the villagers and the tribes and severe punishment of the ones attempting murder and usurpation had been ordered. (4)

The Ottoman government has shown extra ordinary efforts for providing food and the security of the companies while fighting against the enemy. It has shown great sensitivity about the murders and robberies, to which Armenians have been subjected to and tried to provide the safe performance of this transportation. With the instructions written to the administrations in the provinces, to which the transportation was made, the ones attacking the Armenian companies have been punished. The government, following up the precautions taken about this issue, has asked how many were punished harmed to the Armenian convoys, in the coded telegram it sent to Erzurum, Adana, Ankara, Halep, Hüdavendigar, Diyarbekir, Sivas, Trabzon, Konya, Mamoretülaziz provinces and Urfa, Izmit, Zor, Karesi, Kayseri, Kütahya, Maras, Karahisar administrators on September 5 1915. (5)

On the other hand, Investigation Commissions have been established for determining the officers, who showed reluctance or unlawful actions during the transportation of the Armenian companies. A commission consisting of Muhtar Bey, Ankara Province civil service investigator, and Kaymakam Muhiddin Bey, Izmir Gendarme Regional Investigator under the chairmanship of Asim Bey, first chief of Interrogation Court has been sent to Adana, Halep, Suriye, Urfa, Zor and Maras regions (6) and a commission to which Ismail Hakki Bey, member of State Council has also participated, under the chairmanship of Hulusi Bey, chairman of Court of Appeal has been sent to Hüdavendigar, Ankara, Izmit, Karasi, Kütahya, Eskisehir, Kayseri, Karahisar-i sahib and Nigde regions. (7)

A third commission consisting of Nihad, Public Prosecutor of Istanbul Court of First Instance and Ali Naki Bey, a Gendarme Major under the chairmanship of Mazhar Bey, former governor of Bitlis has been appointed in Sivas, Trabzon, Erzurum, Mamuretülaziz, Diyarbekir, Bitlis and Canik regions. In a coded confidential telegraph sent to Mazhar Bey, who was the chairman of this commission and was in Sivas at that time, the commission has been requested to carry out the necessary investigations at the locations they visited and then to report the results of such investigations continuously to the center. (8)

In accordance with the instructions given to the commissions, gendarme, police officers or directors would be sent to the Court Martial in accordance with the result of the investigation to be carried out about them. A list of the ones sent to the Court Martial would be given to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The results of the investigations to be carried out about the governors and district governors would be first submitted to the Ministry of Internal affairs and the transactions would be carried out in accordance with the order given. If there occurred any misuse among the Court Martial chairmen or members and military officers, those people would be notified to the related army commanderships.

In the light of the reports given by the investigation commissions, many officers misusing their duties (stealing money and goods from the companies, causing the companies be subject to violation because of not performing their protection duties as required, acting in violation of the transportation order) have been discharged. Some of them have been judged at the Court Martial and have been sentenced to heavy punishments. (9)

Halacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf, Facts Relating to the Armenian Displacement (1915), TTK Publication, Ankara, 2001

1) Coding Office, no. 59/244
2) Coding Office, no. 56/140; 55 — A/144
3) Coding Office, no. 54/406; no 54 — A/73; no 54 — A/248
4) Coding Office, no 54/9; no 54/162
5) Coding Office, no 55-A/84
6) Coding Office; no 56/186
7) Coding Office; no 56/355; no 58/38
8) Coding Office, no 56/267
9) Coding Office, no 58/278; no 58/141; no. 55-A/156; no. 55-A/157; no 61/165; no 57/116; no 57/416; no 57/105; no 59/235; no 54-A/326; no 59/196

The number of Armenians who were made to migrate through various means was strictly controlled, both at departure, and at the arrival of a convoy to its new destination. According to figures taken from pertinent documents of the Ottoman Archives: A total of 438.758 people were relocated and 382.148 of these safely reached their new destinations. As can be seen, the number of casualties had occurred as follows: 500 people on the road between Erzurum and Erzincan; 2000 in Meskene, between Urfa and Aleppo and 2000 others on the outskirts of Mardin were massacred in attacks launched by bandits or nomadic Arabs. Another 5000 people were killed in attacks on convoys passing through Dersim. It was understood from these documents that many people had also fallen victim to hunger while on the road. Apart from these, some 25-30 thousand people had lost their lives when struck by fatal diseases such as typhoid and dysentery. In all, an estimated 40 thousand casualties had been registered during relocation.

The remaining 10-16 thousand people were made at stay in provinces they had reached, when the implementation of relocation was brought to an end. For instance, on April 26, 1916, orders were given to provide the return to and the settlement in the province of Konya of those Armenians setting out form the province to new destinations. On the other hand, many other Armenians are believed to have fled to either Russia or to Western countries, including the Unites States.

As a matter of fact, according to the pertinent documents, 50.000 of the Armenian soldiers serving in the Ottoman Army joined the Russian forces, and some other 50.000 Armenian soldiers went to America to be trained in the US Army to fight against the Turkish Army. In fact, the letter of an Armenian called Murad Muradyan- who was an advocate in Elazig later immigrated to America — shows such information. In the concerned letter, Muradyan mentions that some Armenians were escaped to Russia and America and later 50.000 of those trained soldiers went to Caucassia. As it can be understood from all the concerned documents, many of Armenian subjects of the Ottoman State were scattered through various countries especially to U.S.A. and Russia, before and during the war. For example, Artin Hotomyan who was a tradesman in America sent a letter to the Chieftain of Security on January 19, 1915 and stated that thousands of Armenians migrated to U.S.A. and they were facing with hunger and hardships.

All the documents clarify that there had not been a genocide occurred during relocation.

Halacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf, Ermeni Tehcirine Ait Gercekler (1915), TTK Publication, Ankara, 2001.

The regions Armenians evacuated and resettled in were stated in the cryptic message dated 23 May 1915 by Talat Pasha sent to the 4th Army Command. In his aforementioned cryptic message, having provided the information regarding the Armenians to be transported to other provinces, Talat Pasha communicated that it would be suitable for the Armenians evacuated from the provinces of Erzurum, Van and Bitlis to be resettled in the Southern part of the province of Mousul, and in the sub-division of Zor and in the sub-division of Urfa excluding the Central City; and also those evacuated from the vicinities of Adana, Aleppo and Maras, to be resettled in the Eastern part of the province of Syria along with the Eastern and Southeastern part of the province of Aleppo.

However, due to the fact that Armenian rebellions and massacres went on; and order dated 5 July 1915 was sent to the provinces of Adana, Erzurum, Bitlis, Aleppo, Diyarbekir, Syria, Sivas, Trabzon, Mamuretülaziz and Mousul, to the Office of the President of” Commission on Abandoned Properties in Adana”,. And to the Governors of the Subdivisions of Zor, Maras, Canik, Kayseri and Izmit; and it was stated that the regions allocated for the resettlement of Armenians were broadened upon need.

Accordingly, the following shows how the region where Armenians were transported and resettled, was determined ensuring that the Armenian population should not exceed 10% of the Moslem population:

1. The eastern and southern regions of the province of Mousul including the villages and towns in the subdivision of Kerkük 80 km from Iranian border;

2. East and south of the sub-division of Zor including the settlements in Habur and Euphrates River valley, 25 km within the Diyarbekir boder;

3. Villages and towns in the east, south and south-west of the province of Aleppo, excluding the northern part; towns and villages 25 km away from the railway route including the sub-divisions of Havran and Kerek in the province of Syria.(*)

Halacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf, Ermeni Tehcirine Dair Gerekceler -Realities on the Armenian Immigration - (1915), TTK Publications, Ankara, 2001.

(*) G.K., no: 54/315

In accordance with the Law on Transport and Resettlement dated 27 May 1915, and communiqué determining the forms of implementation of this law, the Armenian convoys were gathered in certain centers along the crossroads such as Konya, Diyarbekir, Cizre, Birecik and Aleppo, to be distributed to the new settlement areas.

The immigration routes were chosen among the closest possible roads, so as immigrants not to come across any difficulties. Furthermore, the concern to ensure security and protection for the convoys played on important role in the choice of routes. Therefore, ones transferred from Kayseri and Samsun took the route via Malatya; just as the ones from Sivas, Mamuretülaziz, Erzurum and its environs took the route to Mousul via Diyarbekir-Cizre road (1). However, cases where that the roads were too crowded, or upon a possibility of disorder in sub-divisions, these routes were changed (2). The ones en route from Urfa via Re’sülayn and Nusaybin were transferred via Siverek in order to protect them from the attacks of Arabian and other tribes (3).

The convoys en route from Western Anatolia along Kütahya-Karahisar — Konya — Karaman- Tarsus were transferred via Kars-i Maras — Pazarcik to Zor. (4) Locations with railroad and river — transportation facilities were preferred in choosing all these routes. The idea that travel by train or the river travel were the safest ways then, played an important role in this choice. Therefore, almost all the immigrants from Western Anatolia were transported by train (5). Convoys transferred via Cizre road were also carried by train or river boats called “Sahtur”. (6) In places where train or river transports were not available, the convoys were gathered at certain centers, and took the train from these centers.

The state used all its resources available, to implement an orderly immigration process, and to prevent the convoys from any possible harm, in spite of circumstances that prevailed due to war. However, there arose difficulties at times to find vehicles transporting immigrants due to the need to dispatch military and food items to the front continuously. Therefore, railway stations were congested. It being harvest season the vehicles were scarce, which caused delays in transportation at times, (7) as well as difficulties in the movement of the convoys. In spite of all these difficult circumstances and adverse conditions, the government succeeded, in an orderly fashion, to transport the immigrating Armenians to their new locations of resettlement.

In fact, US Consul in Mersin, Edward Natan, in his report dated 30 August 1915, submitted to the Ambassador Morganthau, stated that the railway route from Tarsus to Adana was full of Armenians; and that they traveled from Adana onwards with a ticket; and despite some difficulties due to crowds of people, the government organized this process in the most orderly fashion; and that the Government did not allow any act of violence or disorder, provided sufficient number of tickets to the immigrants and assisted those who were in need. (9).

Halacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf, Ermeni Tehcirine Dair Gercekler - Realities on the Armenian Immigration - (1915), TTK Publications, Ankara, 2001.

1) Cryptic Item., no: 54-A/157; no: 56/280; no: 56/387.
2) Cryptic Item., no: 56-278; no: 58/280; no: 56/308.
3) Cryptic Item., no: 57/277.
4) Cryptic Item., no: 65/95.
5) DH. EUM. Dept. 2, 68/99; Dept. 2, 68/94; Dept. 2, 68/81; Dept. 2, 68/67; Dept. 2, 68/96.
6) DH. EUM. Dept 2, 68/101.
7) E.g. Cryptic Item, no: 54-A/393.
8) Cryptic Item, No: 54-A/59; no: 54-A/96
9) EUM, File 2D/13 (see Document 664).

“Temporary Law on the Measures Implemented by the Military against those Opposing the Government Implementations at Wartime” also known as “Immigration Law-Tehcir Law” was resolved on 27 May 1915. (1) The Law was published in the Official Gazette of the time, Takvim-i Vekayi, on 1 June 1915 and came into force. (2)

Article 1 of the before mentioned temporary law authorizes, the commanders of the Army, Army-corps and Divisions to take military measures against those opposing government orders, country’s defense, and the protection of peace; and against those organizing armed attacks and resistance, and kill rebels during aggression and uprising in wartime. The second article authorizes the same commanders to transfer and resettle on a single basis or in mass, the people living in villages and towns who are found to be engaged in espionage or treason.

The properties owned by the Armenians subjected to immigration were protected under an order (3) dated 10 June 1915. “Commission on Abandoned Properties” comprising of a president and two members, one administrative and one financial, was established. These commissions are to determine Armenian properties in the villages and towns that are evacuated, and to keep detailed record books. One of the books is to be kept in the regional churches, one to be submitted to the regional administration, and one shall be kept by the commission. Non-durable goods and animal stock shall be auctioned and the money shall be kept. In location where a commission is not appointed, the provisions of the communiqué shall be enforced by the officers in the regions. Both the commission and the regional administrators shall be responsible for the protection of these properties until the Armenians return.

As it can be understood from the law dated 27 May 1915 and order dated 10 June 1915, the immigration implementation initiated by Talat Pasha and approved by the Parliament covers “the regions that threaten the security of the front directly”. The first of these regions includes the vicinities of Erzurum, Van and Bitlis, which constitute the background of Caucasian and Iranian fronts. The second region is provinces of Mersin-Iskenderun, which constitute the background of the Sinae front. Because, in these regions, Armenians were collaborating with the enemy and were engaged in activities facilitating the landing of the enemy forces.

However, the law regarding “the measures implemented by the military against those opposing the government implementations at wartime” is an authorizing law intended to protect the state and its legal order. One of the most important characteristics of this law is that “not a name of any ethnic group or community was mentioned nor even suggested in the text of the law”. The Ottoman citizens of Moslem, Greek and Armenian origin covered under this law were subjected to immigrate from their own place and resettle elsewhere. To regard this law as being directed against one particular ethnic group is an indication of a lack of information, or else, intentional behavior... (4)

Halacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf, Ermeni Tehcirine Dair Gerekceler — Realities on the Armenian Immigration — (1915), TTK Publication, Ankara 2001.

1) Bayur, ibid., III/3, p.40; Gürün, ibid., 214.
2) Takvim-i Vekayi’, 18 Recep 1333/19 May 1331, 7th year, no:2189; Y.H. Bayur, ibid, III/3, p.30
3) ATBD, December 1982, ibid., no:81, document 1832
4) Yildirim, Dr. Hüsamettin, Ermeni Iddialari ve Gercekler — Armenian Claims and Realities- Ankara 2000, p. 21

One of the most significant Armenian allegations regarding the immigration implementations is the telegrams, which —also allegedly- contained Talaat Pasha’s orders for killing the Armenians. However, Talaat Pasha himself has expressed in number of occasions that the measures taken with regard to Armenians have no object of massacring them in any way. In fact; in a cryptic telegraph —communiqué wired on August 29, 1915 to the Governors of Hüdaverdigar, Ankara, Konya, Izmit, Adana, Maras, Urfa, Halep, Zor, Sivas, Kütahya, Karesi, Nigde, Mamuretülaziz, Diyarbekir, Karahisar-i Sahib, Erzurum and Kayseri Provinces and sub-Provinces; the purpose of the immigration was explained as the follows (1).

“The purpose of the Government regarding the moving of Armenians from their original settlements is to prevent their anti-governmental actions; and to discourage their ambitions of establishing an Armenian State. Their massacre is completely out of question; on the contrary the safety of the groups during immigration should be ensured; and while measures for their catering should be taken, the “Immigrants Allocation” should be used to meet the cost. Armenians who are allowed to stay in their original settlements should not be re-located afterwards. As it was stated before the immigration of the dependents of military forces; protestant and catholic Armenians; and artisans (in accordance with the need) are definitely prohibited by the Government severe legal measures. Against the gendarmes and government officials who attack the immigrating groups or those who lead such attacks severe legal measures should be taken and such individuals should immediately Court-Martialled. Relevant provincial and sub-provincial authorities shall be held responsible for such events.

In another cryptic note sent to Ankara on May 27 1915 it was said that; “The measures taken by the Government regarding the Armenians are based on the necessity to ensure and protect the welfare and order of the Country. Exclusion of the Catholic and Protestant Armenians —who are at present observed as impartial at the present- from immigration, is the indication that the Government has no intention to massacre them” (2).

However, the communiqué which was issued by the Government for deporting the terrorist Armenians and their Gang leaders has been understood incorrectly in some places. Hence, several Armenian Bands, which were caught, were sent to places in which they continued their actions more freely. Upon such occurrence’s Talaat Pasha issued another communiqué on June 1, 1915, stressing that such Armenians should be transported to the places where they would not be able to continue their harmful actions, and also there deportations should be limited to the terrorists and rebels only (3).

Furthermore, in still another cryptic note dated June 13, 1915 dispatched to Mamuretüllaziz province, it was stated that the Armenians, besides those who were handed to the Court Marshall should be kept at suitable locations within the province under a previous order, hence not necessarily sent to Mousul province (4).

In a cryptic note dated June 14, 1915 which was sent to Erzurum, Diyarbekir, Mamuretülaziz and Bitlis provinces, after stressing that the Armenians should be protected during the immigration process; it was mentioned that it was natural to take measures against those who would try to flee or rebel against the gendarmes; however in no case Moslem peoples should be involved in such corrective acts; and also no opportunities should be set to start conflicts between the Moslems and Armenians.

Coming to the telegraph which is the core of the alleged claims of Armenian massacre (5).

An Armenian named Aram Andonian referred to it in his book, titled : “Memoirs of Naim Bey / Official Turkish Documents Regarding the Deportation and Massacre of the Armenians” published in London in 1920. This book was published under the titles: “Official Documents Regarding the Massacre of the Armenians”; and “The Gross Offence, the Last Armenian Massacre and Talat Pasha; the Originals of the Signed Official Telegraphs” in Paris and Boston respectively.

The telegraphs in the book, which were attributed to Talat Pasha, are false documents, which were originated to create a “massacre criminal”. As a result of the examination and research which was carried out by Messrs. Sinasi Orel and Süreyya Yuca on the subject documents a number of positive evidences, which prove the falsity of them were found. Among these evidences are: “that the person named Naim Bey — from whom the documents have been said that obtained- had never been employed in the “Celleppo Re-Settlement Department, that neither the said documents were authentic, nor the type of the papers were the same of those used in the official communication of that time; that the original counterparts were not among the Ministry of Interior documents in the Prime Ministry’s Archives; that the deed numbers on the documents could not fond in the registration logs of the relevant department; that there were some mistakes on the dates according to Mohammedan and Gregorian Calendars; that there were inconsistencies between the signatures; and there were some big grammatical and spelling mistakes in them.”

Furthermore, although it was mentioned that; “the original copies of the documents which were used in the book were kept at the Armenian Office in Manchester” since then they have persistently been concealed from the examination of the World opinion, and since their “authenticity was based on the report of the Aleppo Armenian Unit during the Ottoman times; is an important indication of the falsehood of the alleged claims of Armenian massacre.

Hallacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf, Ermeni Tehcirine Dair Gerekceler (1915), TTK Yayini, Ankara, 2001.

Published by:
Turkish Hutorical Association, Ankara, 2001.

1) DH. EUM 2. Branch, 68/80
2) DH. EUM 2. Branch, 68/71; 2. Branch 68/84 (see doc: 192, 200)
3) DH. EUM 2. Branch, 68x101 (see doc 217).
4) An Armenian group which consisted of 26.064 people and lived in Aleppo were not actually included in the immigration process. Because; the population re-settled in the new settlement location were brought from Anatolia. On the other hand while the number of those who arrived at Aleppo were given as around a hundred thousand, (see: DH EUM. 2nd Branch, 68/80) the population arrived here was taken as 100.000.
5) OREL, Sinasi, YUCA Sureyya, Ermenilerce Talat Pasa’ya Atfedilen Telgraflarin Gercek Yüzü, Turkish Historical Association Publication, Ankara 1983.

The decision regarding migration was taken under compulsion, in order to prevent the harmful acts of Armenians, who stabbed the Ottoman State that was their own state, in order to establish an independent Armenia. Documents confirm how the Russians and the Entente States deceived and provoked Armenians. (1)

The Armenians who were deceived by such promises as to be given the lands they obtained during the War and that their independence to be recognized; established a number of revolutionary societies (2). Armenians, who started their terrorist activities before the immigration process, continued these activities even during the immigration. They collaborated with the enemy both in the border areas and in the inner regions, and applied genocidal activities to the Moslem people (3).

Ottoman Government decided to compile the documents expressing the cruelties of the Armenians in a book and requested the documents and photographs of Armenian massacres (4). Those documents and photographs collected in a book and published under the title of Ermeni Komitelerinin Faaliyetleri ve Ihtilal Hareketleri/ Mesrutiyetin Ilanindan Once ve Sonra (5).

Armenian cruelties continued after the First Wold War as well. In fact, one of the most striking examples of such activities is the one committed in Nahcivan by an Armenian band of 1.200 people under the command of an Armenian named Hanov (6). Furthermore, it is understood from the telegraphs dispatched on 3 and 7 March 1920 respectively by Mümtaz Bey who was then the acting Governor of “Mamuretül Aziz” Province, that the Armenians protected by the French Forces in the region were then under the delmion of establishing an independent Armenia from Clicia to Adana provinces (7).

Upon such developments, Enver Pasha, acting Head Commander, in order to find a solution to this problem, sent the following note to Talat Pasha on May 2, 1915.

“Armenians domiciled around Lake Van, and in Van Provincial Governorate are always ready for an uprising. I think that the Armenians should be moved from these places, and centers of revolt be dissipated. According to the information given by the 3rd Army Command, the Russians caused the Moslems within their own boundaries to immigrate over our boundaries in miserable conditions. Both as a retaliation to this act, and to ensure the aim I mentioned above, either the said Armenians should be transported into the Russian land together with their families; or they should be distributed in the various regions in Anatolia also with their families. I kindly request from you the selection of the most suitable alternative and act accordingly. However, I personally prefer that the revolting people and their families be sent beyond our borders; and Moslem people their families be re-settled in their place” (8).

With this letter, which may be accepted as the first sign of the intention of immigration process, Enver Pasha requested of dispersion of Armenians in order to avoid their uprising act. According to the said letter, it is clear that the implementations would be made only in locations where the Armenians revolted; and it was carried out accordingly.

Talat Pasha, not wishing to waste time due to the urgency and importance of the matter, initiated the re-settlement implementation without waiting for the resolution of the Parliament hence did not hesitate to undertake such a heavy responsibility by himself (9). Talat Pasha, who took first considered to start immigration of the Armenians domiciled in Van, Bitlis and Erzurum regions out of the War area. He informed Tahsin Bey, Cevdet Bey and Mustafa Abdulhalik Bey, Governors of Erzurum, Van, and Bitlis Provinces respectively on the matter by cryptic communiqués dd. May 9, 1995. Talat Pasha in his above — mentioned cryptic message communicated that the Armenians concentrated in certain regions to start revolts and uprising were decreed to immigrate towards the south, and that every possible assistance should be given to the Governors in order for this decree to be implemented. Talaat Pasha noted that a communiqué concerning the issue was sent to the Supreme Military Command to the Commanders of the 3rd and 4th Armies. He informed that it would be advantageous if the implementation was undertaken in areas to cover the southern part of Erzurum along with Van, the critical sub-provinces in Bitlis, and especially the vicinities of Mus, Sasun, and Talori; and requested from the Governors to immediately initiate the implementation in cooperation with the army commanders.

Furthermore, Talat Pasha issuing a cryptic communiqué to the 4th Army Command dated 23 May 1915, listed the location requested to be evacuated as follows:

1. The provinces of Erzurum, Van ad Bitlis;

2. The subdivision of Maras excluding the city of Maras;

3. Villages and towns within the boundaries of the sub provinces of; Iskenderun, Beylan (Belen), Cisr-i Sugur and Antioch excluding the central sub province of the Province of Aleppo;

4. The sub-divisions of Adana, Mersin, Kozan and Cebel-i Bereket excluding the cities of Adana, Sis (Kozan) and Mersin;

Accordingly; Armenians evacuated from Erzurum, Van and Bitlis were decreed to be transferred to the southern part of Mousul along with the sub-division of Zor and sub-division of Urfa excluding the central city: and the Armenians evacuated from the vicinities of Adana, Aleppo and Maras to be transferred to the eastern part of the Province of Syria along with the eastern and southeastern part of the Province of Aleppo. To supervise and manage the immigration process, State Inspectors, Ali Seydi Bey and Hamid Bey were appointed to the Adana region, and to the regions of Aleppo and Maras, respectively.

It was stipulated that the Armenians arriving at the new locations of resettlement were to be settled either in the houses that they would build in the existing villages or towns; or in the villages that they would re-establish in the locations identified by the government; and that the Armenian villages were to be at least of 25 km away from the Baghdad Railway.

The protection of lives and properties of Armenians following the process of immigration, and provision of their needs such as food, drink and rest were left to the regional authorities along the transfer route. It was decreed that the immigrating Armenians to be allowed to carry along all of their belongings and arrangements about their established properties were to be prepared and submitted to the authorities concerned (11).

In order for the immigrating Armenians not to re-constitute dens of conspiracy, the Supreme Military Command communicated a letter dated 26 May 1915 to the Ministry of Interior, considering the following aspects:

1. The population of the Armenians in the locations they newly immigrated to should not be in excess of 10% of the population of the existing tribes and Moslems.

2. The villages the Armenians to be re-established should not be bigger than fifty houses each.

3. The Armenian immigrant families should not change houses either for the purposes of travel or transfer (12).

A short while after the Ministry of Interior’s measures were came in force, Russian, French and English governments issued a joint declaration stating that in the Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia, which they referred as “Armenia”, Armenians had been killed with in a month. In addition, they declared that the Ottoman Government is responsible for these events (13).

Upon the spread of the issue in international arena in this manner, Talaat Pasha, sent a communiqué dated 26 May 1915 to the Prime Ministry in order to provide a legal basis for the implementation of the immigration (14). In this communiqué, having stated that the invaders promoted discrimination among the Armenians, who were Ottoman citizens, and assisted them, in order to realize their invasory desires; that the uprising Armenians took variety of means to hinder the progress of the operation of the Turkish Army fighting against the enemy; that they abstracted the transport of food items, weapons and ammunition to the soldiers, that they collaborated with the enemy; that a group of them joined the enemy rank, and organized armed attacks against the military units and innocent civilians; that they massacred and pillaged in cities and towns; and that they provided food to the enemy navy and disclosed critical military zones to the enemy, Talaat Pasha noted that a radical measure needed to be taken for the security of the state and on this account, the Armenians rioting in war zones needed to be immigrated to other regions.

This communiqué of the Ministry of Interior was submitted immediately to the Parliament along with another communiqué written by the Prime Ministry. Talat Pasha’s statement having been reiterated in the Prime Ministry’s communiqué, it was expressed that the initiation of the immigration implementation was rightly made for the security of the state and that it was necessary to implement this policy methodically and systematically. (15) And the Parliament decreed to ratify the implementation on the some date.

In the Parliamentary decree, it was noted that it absolutely necessary to block through effective methods such harmful activities for having a negative impact on the existence and the security of the state, and that the measures by the Ministry of Interior on this account were rightfully and duly taken. Furthermore, a communiqué was issued regarding the determination of the immovable properties owned by the immigrating Armenians by a commission to be appointed, and the creation of job opportunities suitable for the conditions of the Armenians in their new locations, and the assistance to be given on the account of Immigrant’s Compensation. It was requested that an order to be written to those concerned in order to ensure the implementation of immigration securely (16).

The following communiqué dated 30 Mays 1915 sent by the Prime Ministry to the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of War and the Ministry of Finance, the regulations of implementation of the immigration were stated: (17)

a) The Armenians shall be transported to the regions allocated in a comfortable manner, ensuring the security of their lives and property.

b) Their food and drink expenses shall be covered by the Immigrant’s Compensation until they settle in their new houses.

c) Real estate and land shall be provided for them in accordance with their former financial status.

d) The government shall build houses for those in need, and provide seeds, and agricultural equipment for the farmers and agricultural experts.

e) The movables they left behind shall be delivered, and after the determination of their immovable properties settled, these shall be distributed among the Moslem immigrants to be setting in their place. Income generating from places that are not within the expertise of these immigrants such as olive, mulberry and orange groves, vineyards, shops, inns, factories and warehouse shall be either auctioned or rented and their compensations shall be recorded in deposit by savings fund to be paid to their owners.

f) Special commissions shall implement all these issues and an order shall be issued in this regard.

Halacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf, Ermeni Tehcirine Dair Gercekler — Realities on the Armenian Immigration- (1915), TTK, Yayini, Ankara, 2001

1) Cryptic Item, no: 45/115 (sent a communiqué about this matter to the provinces of Van, Bitlis, Mamüretüaziz, Adana, Diyarbekir and Sivas, via the telegram dated 23 September 1916)
2) DH. EUM. Division 2, File 1, document 45/2 (see document 670).
3) Cryptic Item. , NoB 6; no; 62/24; no: 63/175; no; 64/92; no: 64/163; no; 64/194; no: 66/51; no: 46/56; no: 66/192; BA, BED, no: 343464 (see document 784).
4) Cryptic Item, no: 62/57; 62/58; 63/241.
5) Istanbul 1916. The same work was translated in French, in 1917, in Istanbul and published as an abridged version under the title Les Allogations et les Mouvements Révolutionnairs des Comités Arméniens— (Ankara, 1981)
6) Letter dated 1 February 1920 from the Ministry of Interior to the Prime Ministry (BA: BEO, no; 341351).
7) Security, File 2 F/3; Security, File 2 F75 see document 799 and 800.
8) ATBD, December 1982, no: 81, document 1830
9) Bayur, ibid, III/3, 38.
10) G.K., no: 15/200; no: 52/281-282
11) G.K, no: 53/94
12) General Staff, no: 1/1, Folder 44 File 207, F 2-3, quoted by, K. Gürün, ibid, p.213.
13) Bayur, ibid, III/3, p. 37
14) BA, BED, no: 326758
15) Parliamentary Decree, Book no: 198, Decree no: 163 (see document 123); Bayur ibid. III/3, pp. 40-42.
16) Bayur, ibid, III/3, pp. 40-42
17) BA, BED, no: 326758

The Arabic originated word “tehcir” means “emigration / immigration”, it definitely not means “deportation” or “exile”. Hence the law commonly known as the “Tehcir Law” is the same as “Temporary Law On The Military Measures To Be Taken For Those Who Resist The Governmental Acts And Supplementation’s.” The word used to explain the implementation in line with this law is “tenkil” in the Ottoman language and means “transport- not the equivalent of “deportation”, “exile” or “proscription” in Latin originated languages.

The immigration, which was started with the orders of Talaat Pasha, and approved by the Government and the Parliament as a measure against the Armenian riots and massacres, which had arisen in a number of places in the Country - pre - dominantly in Van province, was only implemented only in the regions in which such riots and massacres affected the security of the fronts directly. The first area was Erzurum, Van and Bitlis Vicinities which formed the rear part of the Caucasian - Iran Front; and the second was Mersin - Iskenderun Region which formed the rear part of the Sina Front. In both of these regions, Armenians had collaborated with the enemy and involved in activities to facilitate the enemy’s invasion.

Later, the scope of the immigration was widened in order to include the Armenians in the other provinces, who rioted, collaborated with the enemy and screened the activities of Armenian Gangs. Although the Catholic and Protestant Armenians were excluded from immigration at the beginning, later those whose harmful activities were observed, were also relocated.

Since 1915, numerous papers, reports, books, etc. were written and published about the immigration implementation. The Armenians, by using false documents have succeeded to deceit the World for a long time. The rumor about Armenian holocaust (!) which expressed at first as three hundred thousand and later increased to three million has no basis at all. In fact, although English and French authorities have extensively studied the Ottoman archives during their occupation in Istanbul have failed to find even a single document hinting about such holocaust.

Had the Ottoman State intended to make genocide on Armenians; could not they realize such an act at the places where the Armenians live? Why would it be necessary “to immigrate” them for such an intention? Why did they undertake the significant fiscal and material costs of their security, safety, health and food of the immigrating Armenians? During this immigration and re-settlement process which lasted approximately 1,5 year from May 1915 until October 1916, why would the central and local administrations take measures to ensure the lives and properties of Armenians in spite of the difficult war circumstances? In addition, would it be necessary to accept great administrative, military and financial burden —as if opening a new front- to protect and secure these people?

The answers to these questions shall be sufficient to understand the real intention of the Ottoman State. Also there is no logical explanation that why the Ottoman State suddenly changed its policy towards a community which had always been called as “millet-i sadika” (loyal people) due to their being really faithful to the Government. Hence the party whose attitude had changed was not the Ottoman Government, but the Armenians who were deceived by the independence promises of Russia and the Entente States.

In conclusion, it can be said that the Armenian Immigration which was a necessary measure to ensure the State Security and Safety is among one of the most
successful transportation and re-settlement processes; and has no intention whatsoever to annihilate Armenians.

Halacoglu, Prof. Dr. Yusuf, Ermeni Tehcirine Dair Gerekceler (1915), TTK Yayini, Ankara, 2001.


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