637) "Excerpts" from Heath Lowry's The Story behind Ambassador Morgenthau's Story

Excerpted from Harry E. Barnes, “Genesis of the World War (New York, Knopf, 1926) pp. 241-247”

The luxuriant and voluptuous Legend was not only the chief point in the AIIied propaganda against Germany after the publication of Mr. Morgenthau’s book, but ft has also been tacitly accepted by Mr. Asquith in his apology, and solemnly repeated by Bourgeois and Pages in the standard conventional French work, both published since the facts have been available which demonstrate that the above tale is a complete fabrication. The myth has been subjected to withering criticism by Professor Sidney B. Fay in the Kriegschuldfrage for May 1925. (Quoted from Holdwater's TAT bulletin)

About “The Story behind Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story”
Heath W. Lowry ISBN 975-428-81210 The Isis Press – 1990

Foreword: Ambassadors are normally expected to provide factual, honest and unbiased reporting about the countries where they serve. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, served in Istanbul for 26 months from Nov,27,1913 to February 1916 for a total of 26 months. He was of Jewish faith, active Zionist and was offered this position in return to his large assistance in the campaign of Woodrow W. Wilson. His book was first printed in 1918 in New York by Doubleday & Co. and is still being used as a reliable source of information in USA. Followings are some of the phrases he used, to describe Turks with his objectivity(!)

“The Turk is” “psychologically primitive”(p.236),

“bully and coward who can be brave as a lion when things are going his way, but cringing, abject, and nerveless when reverses are overwhelming him” (p.275),
They are ‘like most primitive peoples, wear their emotions on the surface” (p.195)
and ‘basic fact underlying the Turkish mentality is its utter contempt for other races” (p.276),
they are “inarticulate, ignorant and poverty-ridden slaves” (p.13),
“barbarous” (p.147),
“brutal” (p.149),
“ragged and unkempt” (p.276),
“parasites” (p.280),
“they do not hate, they do not love, they have no lasting animosities or affections, They only fear.” (p.99)

- Above, courtesy of Holdwater – These complimentary words are endorsed by other British Statesmen with below examples:

Mr. Gladstone, at the age of eighty six, emerged from retirement to make at Liverpool a last speech against the “unspeakable Turk”, whose empire deserved to be “rubbed off the map” as a “disgrace to civilization” and a “curse to mankind”. (p.562 - Lord Kinross –“ The Ottoman Centuries”)

Lloyd George went further, “he did not know what the Turks contributed either to culture, to art, or to any aspect of human progress. They were a ‘human cancer, a creeping agony in the flesh of the lands which they misgoverned, and rotting every fibre of life’. The hour had struck on the great clock of destiny for settling accounts with the Turk. Lloyd George was glad that the Turk was to be called to a final account for his long record of infamy against humanity in this gigantic battle” (p. 53)
“Nobody was bound by a speech” (p.116)

(Akaby Nassibian – Britain and the Armenian Question 1915-1923)

(P.4) 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” 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 films rights of his ‘story’.

(P.5) President Wilson expressed his disapproval in no uncertain terms. “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”.

(P.6) In other words, as envisaged by Morgenthau, his ‘story’ was intended as wartime propaganda, i.e., as a contribution to the Entente war effort.

(P.8) 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. It is through the examination of several thousand letters and documents in the above mentioned collections that eventually the rather murky origins of the work in questions emerge. From internal evidence, in particular Morgenthau’s comments about dictating to his secretary, a Turkish-Armenian named Hagop S, Andonian, it appears that on a regular basis Morgenthau related his day’s experiences to Andonian, who in turn typed them up for posterity.

(P.9) 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, These letters were likewise prepared by Hagop S. Andonian. His 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 Andonin to take my diary and copy it with some elaborations of his own. Of course this relieves me of all responsibility for any errors.”

(P.10) First and foremost, in an acknowledgement 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 his book.” 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.

(P.11-13) From a reference in a Morgenthau’s family letter of July 15, 1914, 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 Morgenthau’s, a ‘Diary’ entry for February 8, 1916 clearly establishes that he left Turkey with the Ambassador. 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”.

This passage establishshes 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.

(P.14) 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 Morgethau’s interpreter in Istanbul and accompanied him in all meetings with Turkish officials.

(P.18) 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. 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 goodnatured and accommodating way, you will work over time and I will promise you that I shall not write more books that have to get approval of the State department.

(P.19) 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 chaper 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 illustrated 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 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”… (other letters followed)

(P.20) When one recollects the fact that prior to beginning of this project, Morgenthau received the written blessings of the President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, and, that as the work progressed, each chaper 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 normal written contract, which does not appear to have existed between the two men, Morgenthau wrote the following to Hendrick:

(P.21) “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 and 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 and Co, until you have received Ten Thousand Dollars, and that the first five thousand Dollars coming to me are to be paid to you on account”. Mr. Burton J. Hendrik’s share is 40 cents and Henry Morgenthau’s share is 60 cents for every Dollar income.

(P.22) Hendrick who within ten years of publication of the Morgenthau book was to receive three Pulitzer Prizes, one for the book he ca-authored with Admiral William S. Sims : The Victory at Sea (recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in History in 1920) and two in Biography of 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….

(P.23) 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 Morgenthua must have had a journalistics collaborator when he wrote:

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

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 Morgenthau’s Story by Burton J. Hendrick.

(P.25) 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 the 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 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 ?

(P.26) 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 naïve 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 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 creditability by virtue of the fact that throughout his ‘Story’, literally from beginning to end, his troika 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 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 terms had not been yet coined.

(P.27) At the outset, one fact is indisputable: None of the statements given in quotation marks throughout the book, and purporting 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 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.

(P.30) 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”. 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’

(P.31) 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. 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 a supporter of religion, even if it were Islam.

(P.32) In late spring and early summer 1914, Morgenthau writes:

“By this time I knew Talaat well: I saw him really 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”.

Contrary to Morgenthau’s claim of almost daily intimacy with Talaat Bey, a thorough analysis of his ‘Diary’ entries for the period between January 1, 1914 and July 2, 1914, establishes that Morgenthau and Talaat met 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. 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.

(P.39) 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 been added in 1918 by Morgenthau himself.

(P.50) A close reading of his comments as recorded in Morgenthau’s ‘Diary’ suggest 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”. 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 ‘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 the 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”.

(P.51) 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.

(P.54) 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 January “.

(P.55) Even in this short sentence manages to incorporate two falsehoods: a- he hid 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.

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

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. 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 the many valuable and wise suggestions he has made.”

(P.56) Lansing’s contribution was to pencil in the phrase: “with the usual insincere oriental politeness”.

(P.57) “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”.

Anyone reading this passage realizes 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 later after the fact ? The answer is simple and relates to the fact that Morgenthau was writing a piece of wartime propaganda with expressly stated purpose of mobilizing support for President Wilson’s war effort, He consciously downplayed 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 into pro-war sentiment.

(P.59) The best that can be said in defense 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.

(P.60) … 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 an evil incarnate, in his desire to ‘personalize’ the evil of the war. Did 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 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, 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 queries we must have after this examination. We recognize Schreiner’s name from references to him in Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, in the “Diary” entries for 1915, and from mention in the weekly family “Letters” as well.

(P.61) 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. In his book, Morgenthau refers to Schreiner as “the well-known American correspondents of the ‘Associated Press’, while in the ‘Diary’ entry for February 9, 1915 he adds the information that Schreiner was a “special traveling correspondents of the Associated Press of America” whose stories were carried in 937 daily papers.” Schreiner, whose letter to Morgenthau was occasioned by a chance meeting in the Department of State 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…”

(P.62) “Since I knew Baron Wangenheim probably better than you did, I do hope that the 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 collaborators have fashioned”. “Nor did you possess in Constantinople that omniscience and omnipotence you have arrogated onto yourself 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 Turk 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 eyes 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?

(P.63) “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 no 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 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,

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.

(P.64) Likewise, Schreiner 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. 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 beenan eyewitness to the events in Anatolia is shown by an examination on Schreiner’s book on his experiences in Turkey’ “From Berlin to Baghdat:Behind the Scenes in the Near East” 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.

(P.65) 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. 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. This despite a comment on the ‘Preface’ which leads the reader to think otherwise:

“It is hoped that the future historian will not give to 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 par with the ‘blue books’ published by governments for the edification and their of the public and their own amusement, as in some cases I will show”.

(P.69) In 1990, seventy-two years after the 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.

(P.70) 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 furnishing examples of the twisted minds that can plan and perpetrate genocide, etc. etc. 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.

(P.71) Indeed, there are three names generally associated with spreading the Armenian saga while 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 1917-1918 Le Rapport Secret du Dr. Johannes Lepsius sur les Massacres D’Armmenie, 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. J. Lepsius from Postdam, 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 the universal protest.

(P.72) The family “Letter” which discusses this meeting repeats the above and adds the following: “I arranged an interview between Tsamados, the Greek Charge d’Affaires and Lepsius, as the Professor wanted to know how the Greeks were treated”. 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 earnestly request access to information Embassy had on file. Will give him if Department has no objection.

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 21 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 this will be the economic destruction of Turkey and that the Germans would find empty husk when they obtained possession. I sent for Schmavonian and he came and participated in the discussion after supper.”

(P.74) … 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 this 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 been stretching the intent of Lansing’s instructions to their limit. 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 “Bruce 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.”

(P.76) When one realizes 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 Turks

(P.77) What is not mentioned is the fact that many of the atrocity stories published by Toynbee in 1915 work, were supplied by none other than Henry Morgenthau. 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-Ã -vis Turks and Armenians long before he ever approached President Wilson late in 1917 with the project which ultimately became Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story.

(P.78) One can not help but wonder how many young Armenians who turned to the terrorist assassinations of Turkish officials (and bystanders) in the 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.

(P.80) 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 inconsistencies? This despite the fact that their bibliographies indicate that they have utilized the Morgenthau Papers in the Library of Congress collections wherein the ‘Diary’ is preserved.

Kindly provided by Sukru S Aya


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