09 July 2007

1800) Swedish Explorer Sven Hedin On The Armenians

Sven Hedin (1865-1952), the Swedish writer, geographer, and explorer of Asia, penned the 1917 book, Bagdad, Babylon, Ninive, revealing his encounters with relocated Ottoman-Armenians... helping us to understand the fallacy of "genocide."

As a biography of Hedin tells us, he was the last person to receive a Swedish knighthood (1902). His classical work, Through Asia, appeared in 1898. "Hedin had a phenomenal memory and his books, with their vivid details, are still fascinating reading for anyone who is interested in Asian cultures."

http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com

Sven Hedin, as he appeared circa 1916

Upon accepting work as a tutor in Azerbaijan, Hedin travelled on horseback leading to 1887's A Journey Through Persia and Mesopotamia; he "learned to speak Tatar and Persian." He received his Ph.D. in 1892. Soon celebrated in his country, Hedin became a member of the Swedish Academy in 1913. Given Russia's historic hostility toward Sweden, Hedin sympathized with Germany in both world wars. ("In one of his books he warned of Russian expansion and spoke for strong military defence and a political orientation towards Germany.") As with Charles Lindbergh, once Nazi Germany showed its true stripes during WWII, Hedin's initial support turned into disenchantment. ("Everything has gone wrong in the Third Reich. Hitler has gradually become mad.")

Naturally, ad hominem detractors who choose to focus on the messenger, rather than the message, will use this spotty chapter of Hedin's life in an attempt to discredit him. Yet there were no Nazis in 1916, and Sven Hedin provided his account of the Armenians as he saw the actual events unfold... as the rare, genuinely objective Western eyewitness. Note how Hedin totally tore apart Lord Bryce and the dishonesty of the British position. An absolutely integral conclusion of Hedin's, as relevant today as it was back then:

"Next to the religious hypocrisy, nothing is so disgusting as the swindle which impels only political business under the disguise of mercy and exploits the suffering of others heinously, in order to make the political opponents, the Turks and their allies (Germans and Austrians) abhorrent."

"Political business under the disguise of mercy..." does that not describe to a tee the ways of the Genocide Industry? Shamelessly capitalizing upon selective human suffering under the "cloak of goodness," while really furthering hatred and racism against their chosen historical villains, whose own suffering is meaningless to these "human rights champions."

The following was excerpted in the 1918 book, Från Persien i stiltje och storm (literally translated as "From Persia in Composition and Tempest"), by that other Swedish eyewitness, Major Hjalmar Pravitz, and was provided in a March 2006 report by Dr. Mete Soytürk, translated from Swedish to German. Many thanks to Dr. Oylar Saguner for helping with the German-to-English translation, but reader, please beware: there are imperfections, so please do not take the following as an official translation. The intent is to give you a pretty good idea of what Dr. Sven Hedin had written, and that's it.

Baghdad, Babylon, Niniveh

Sven Hedin
Baghdad, Babylon, Niniveh
1917

First Chapter
Turkey in the World War

A Swede cannot observe the fight of the Ottomans against Russia attentively enough. Because it affects the future of his homeland closer than many of my compatriots want to admit. So far Russia was also our hereditary enemy — the current coup (the Russian October revolution of 1917) will demonstrate in the near future whether the hereditary enemy will be transformed into a friend. Since Karl XII opened the eyes of the Europeans regarding the Muscovite danger and the irrefutable political goal of his neighbors called for the destruction of the Slavic great power, Sweden and Turkey had the same vital interest: The victory of the one was also to the other's advantage. The defeat of the one was also to damage the other. The Swedish misfortune always gave the Russian Tsars free hands in the south. Turkish defeats secured their back against dangerous enemies, allowing them, if they considered it necessary, to direct their attention towards our borders.

The common political interests of Sweden and Turkey however did not allow them to unite for a useful co-operation, not even where it was only for the purposes of defense. But the geographic locations of both, which makes the two flanks of the Muscovite Empire, forced one or the other to undertake an extraordinary role. Sweden holds Russia away from the sea and closes her connections to Western Europe. Russia until now — under the Scepter of the Tsars — always felt our bare existence as a drowning pressure; the teachings of the World War have affirmatively confirmed this truth. Russian foreign policy wants to blow up these ties. On the other hand, the future security of Sweden and Turkey can be achieved at no cheaper price than by implementation of the plans of Karl XII! Because the new system of government, with which Russia just surprised the world, does not give any endorsement for the future. Nothing could be more irresponsible than to blindly ignore their existence!

The position of Turkey to the Western European question in the modern sense resulted, when the Muscovites, without historical right headed towards the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, and declared without misinterpretation that their goal is "freeing Czargrad (Constantinople)"! At the same time Karl XII wanted to collect all forces for the common fight against an enemy, whose character and development possibilities were never understood with a prophetic glance better than him, and as no other before and after him. But he called in vain Sweden, Poland and Turkey. His plan didn't come to execution, not just because the Western European powers rendered help to the Russians. After Karl XII, Sweden as well as Poland and Turkey were weakened by internal quarrels, which were initiated and helped by Russia and England, at that time as now were in fraternal unity. Poland disappeared. Sweden was saved just in time by Gustav the IIIrd. The fatal Treaty of Kucuk Kaynarca (1774), however, opened the eyes of the Turks to the [Russians'] dark plans, already introduced by the Tsar Peter the Great. Already at that time the march over the Turkish realm had begun, with the penetrating Russian march towards the Mediterranean.

The plan of the Entente, to overpoweringly defeat the Central Powers in the world war which was now raging, had its roots in the Balkan Peninsula. The Ottomans were clear on the goal of the Russians: England and Russia knew themselves that in order to implement their intention over the Turkish realm they had to extend their hands to each other and that everything possible had to be offered in order to enforce a free course. Thus, for both parties concerned, it was a fight to live or die. The Sublime Porte had to decide: The war or the fall? There was for them no other consideration. For the first time after two hundred years, Karl XII's thoughts were resurrected and the target at which Sweden had set her whole strength upon arose again. This time the neighbors in the west were also on the post. Only Karl XII's own country was missing in the row — even an essence of the spirit of the "Iron Head" was missing with his descendant heroes. Sweden nevertheless worked with her geographical location.

Actually the Turks had no other choice if they wanted to stay alive. Neutral Turkey would have met the same tragic fate like the pursued, flared out, drowned Greece, whose only crime was to wish to stay away from the world-mincing fight. In this case, Constantinople would have now Russian and English invaders, as Athens enjoys the English and French. If any trace of doubt or fatigue would ever have seized Turkey in the course of the world war, then the Duma Speech of the Russian Prime Minister Trepov on 2 December 1916 would ensure a new iron resistance. He actually confessed that an agreement with Great Britain, France and Italy in 1915 had determined "the definitive right of Russia to the straits (the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles) and to Constantinople". It was "to be or not to be" for the Turks on the stage.

Those who now believed that the new Russia would decline from such war goals, would experience a great disappointment. The first revolutionary government at least insisted on the right over the Dardanelles and Constantinople, and the Foreign Minister Milyukov transferred unchanged the "Russian realm thought" which Trepov had formed into the words: "the keys to the Bosphorus and to the Dardanelles, Oleg's sign over the gate of Constantinople — that is the centuries old internal dream of the Russian people since the old times of her existence."[... ]

What did Turkey win at the end by the fact that she steadfastly maintained the course, which she set at the beginning of the war? Now, she has secured herself for a while, the length of which we can not grasp at the moment. By preventing the connection between Russia and England, she contributed effectively to the fall of the Tsarist Empire. Russian strength is understood in dissolution — no state can lead a successful war at the same time of going through a revolution. In this tremendous fight, which is reaching now its end, the Muscovites cannot force the Ottomans any longer to fall on the knee. Also the coincidental superiority of England in Mesopotamia will not change anything. Because the decision of the World War falls at the battlefields of Europe; additionally, the English World Empire is trembling in its foundations. The service, that Turkey carried out indirectly for Germany, must also be brought to notice at the same time. Great Britain's engagement together with Russia over the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus was one of the conditions for defeating Germany. With Gallipoli, this dream turned into something to be ashamed of [...]

Germany will go against the new era strong and powerful. Then also the Ottoman people can be sure of [earning] thanks for her honorable participation in the liberation war of the Germans.

Sixth Chapter
Among Nomads and Armenian Refugees

When the storm and the wind blowing in my face forced me also during the daytime to look for the protection of steep canyon walls or camp on the land, those generally forced stays that put my patience on hard tests, at the same time allowed possibility to complete my provisions and to learn about the life of the Nomads at the shore of the Euphrates from the closest distance. They were from the stock of Arabs of the Beni-Said, who had in the area around 16 villages[…] These nomads enjoy a limitless freedom at the wide shores of Euphrates. When the grass of the steppe around the village was dried and gone, they would move away with their herds and tents to new prairies […] The winter of 1915/16 was very hard they said, and a lot of snow had fallen.

http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com

Dr. Sven Hedin: globe-trotter

Beside the black tents of the Arabs on the banks, often hundreds of white tents at the shores of the Euphrates had shown up. These were the camps of the Armenian refugees. I have met those unhappy people already several times as I went to the shore during the daytime or in the evenings. Once in the vicinity of the fortress Dschabar, I met a group of them; many were women and children, on the way to Deir-el-Zor and Mosul. With all those bread, eggs and meat served on board the ferryboat. I learned of their misery more precisely as I arrived in the city of Rakka, which lays at the foot of an isolated mountain group with 5 tops, on 18 April (1916) […]. On the left bank numerous women were busy with the laundry as the children dabbled with the water and the "Sakkas," the water carriers, filled their leather bags and carried them to the city on donkey backs, which was the only waterline that Rakka possessed. […] Rakka was also famous because Harun-al-Rashid preferred to spend summers here. My wish for antiquities, by the way, was not allowed by the governor, since their export was forbidden.

I spoke with the French translator as an officer was taking care of some matters with the Kaimakam He was an Armenian from Constantinople and came to Rakka via Aleppo and Meskene with a swarm of people who were retained there for thirty six days. We saw their tents at the right shore, which abounded with women and children. One estimated their number to be 5,000; they had been refused from areas at the Caucasian border. The interpreter who spoke French fluently offered his services to the Kaimakam, and was accepted at once. […]. An Armenian physician from Erivan who was in Rakka for many years, accompanied me through the dusty roads of the boring town. According to his assurance, the Armenian colony of Rakka could be counted at about 1,500 persons.

On our way an army of poor children and women followed us on our heels; all Armenians; and as I came by a cookie shop where fresh round bread loaves laid on its tables, I couldn't deny the satisfaction of buying the whole content of the shop and distribute to the starving. […]. It was a cordial happiness to see them eating, and with a painful commiseration I thought about the five thousand, who were smeltering at the other shore.[…].

The persecution of the Armenians, especially the cruelties against innocent women and children belong to the darkest chapter of the World War. It only surpasses the cruelties with which the two million Russian resident Germans at the beginning of the war who were forcefully taken to the most dangerous and filthiest areas of Siberia where they were to wait to share the wretched sacrifice of East Prussia. But what the English are loudly letting out to the world over their trombones about the Armenian massacres is unbelievably exaggerated and forces one to contradict. In his speech at the House of Lords on 6 October 1915 Lord Bryce alleged that Turkey wants to exterminate her non-Muslim people because it disturbs the unity of the state and do not accept to always defer to their oppressed state. Turkey has 21 Million inhabitants; more than one fourth are Christian and Jews. The Jews, count almost a million, do not have anything to complain about against Turks in contrast to Russia, where they were exposed to most infuriating besetment, and the Christians in Syria and other parts of Turkey live with the patrons of the country in good agreement, at least during this war where they were not troubled in any way. The Armenians constitute only the fourth part of the whole Christianity of the Turkish Empire.

Lord Bryce denies that the Armenians had shown themselves to work against their government unlawfully. But a brochure by Arnold Toynbee in Oxford, which contains just that speech of the lord, assures that 250,000 Armenians had deserted over the Russian border, and now constitute the only "hope of and the support" of the Armenian race! The 750,000 Armenians who (according to a different section of the very same brochure!) live in Transcaucasia and are Russian subordinates, do not belong to the Armenian race? According to the most dependable population census of Armenia in "Petermanns Reports [Mitteilungen]" (Volume 42, 1896), they are actually 958,000. Lord Bryce wishes to have heard of only "isolated" deserters and asserts that the voluntary corps which performed such valuable services for the Russian Army at the beginning of the war, consisted solely of Russian Armenians who were living in the Caucasus. About this only the Turkish authorities can give competent information. The Armenians have not proven themselves so innocent, as they were described by the lord in earlier opportunities either in Turkish or in Russian Asia. The mad attempt of Armenians to charge the Ottoman Bank in Constantinople caused the massacres of 1896; and the carnage among Armenians in Baku of 1903 was the result of the political homicides, the latter exercised by Russian officials. The Tatars thought to earn the thankfulness of the Russians by slaughtering the Armenians; she granted it as expected; and as she finally intervened, the cruelties were already over. As I sojourned in Nahichevan at the end of November 1905, the Armenians, as I reported in my book "Over the Land to India" (Volume 1, p.95 f.), massacred forty men, women and children in the Tatar village of Ikran; and in Nahichevan itself a Tatar was shot by them as he was conducting evening prayer in the open air. Afterwards the Tatars thereabouts killed an Armenian and the vendetta went on.

Lord Bryce is certainly an honorable man — so are they all, all honorable men! But what he tells about the horrifying cruelties during the demarcation of the Caucasian battle zone before the occupation by the Russians does not correspond to the other information in the referenced brochure. Lord Bryce says 800,000 Armenians found death while being transported to the southern regions. But in the brochure it is said (see p.15 of the Danish translation) that almost half of the 1,200,000 Armenians of the Turkish Empire were "systematically slain." If 250,000 actually fled to Russia and half of the remaining was murdered, the remainder would be about 475,000 but not 800,000! Completely apart from all of this, 5,000 had saved themselves to Port Said and a great number of them stayed on in Turkish services. Alone in the city of Mersina, according to Bryce's letter to the press dated 26 December 1915, 25,000 Armenians were dispatched to the south! But it is unfortunate that this city had only 22,000 inhabitants at the outbreak of the war, among which — according to Baedeker and "Petermanns Reports" — there were no Armenians at all!

The statistics of the Armenian Patriarchate, who had attached the collective notice of the European envoys for the implementation of the reforms according to Article 61 of the Berlin Treaty, toward the vilayets where Armenians reside, are just as thoughtless. According to the subject notice as many Armenians (780,700) as Mohammedans (776,500) reside in the related districts. In actuality, the former comprised of only one-sixth of the population.

The intention of this false information is quite clear. The Germans should be the guilty ones!

"If someone takes the statistics to prove something, the least that can be expected is their correctness!"

They haven't done anything against these cruelties, as if Turkey would undergo the authority of Germany without further ado!

Where does the author of the referred brochure know that Germany never took such a step? I can assure him that he was in a terrible error and his belief of Germany standing behind such orders in Turkey is also wrong! Turkey entered the war according to her own decision, own interest and not to please Germany. The shameful treatment of Greece already proves that they could not have remained neutral!

With the same kind of inconsistencies, a memorandum with 700 pages was sent to the English Parliament on October 1916: "The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-1916: Document presented to Viscount Grey of Fallodon by Viscount Bryce." Here we suddenly hear from the mouth of the American newspaper correspondent Henry Wood — what was not unknown by any means to Lord Bryce at his speech on 6 October 1915 — the Armenians were in open revolt against Turks; that they held Van and several other cities, intending to build an independent government! The Turkish Government had every right to apply martial law against the ones who were up in arms whom, additionally, were warned ahead of time! According to the same memorandum (p.12) about a million Armenians were deported from Erzerum, Trebizond, Sivas, Harput, Bitlis and Diarbekir. But these vilayets had only about 600,000 Armenian people before the war! The vilayets Erzerum, Bitlis and Van which now lay in the territories beyond the Russian borders should count according to the investigations of Patriarchate in 1912, about 580,000 Armenians: in actuality they were 331,000! In May 1916 the provided figure (according to p. 664 of Bryce's blue book) for Armenian survivors was only 1,150,000 and the number of the executed amounted to a minimum of 600,000, not 800,000 after all, as he was alleging a year ago! The Armenian Patriarchate counts altogether 2,100,000 Armenians in the Turkish Empire, the Turkish Government only 1,100,000! So Lord Bryce estimates an average value about 1,600,000, tends however more to 2,000,000 because he needs this for his higher calculation! According to the estimate by Lynch there were 2,100,000 Armenians in the whole of Asia and according to the one by Selenoy-Seydlitz from the year 1896, 2,600,000. This would give an average value of 2,350,000. From this, 985,000 Armenians who live in Russia and 50,000 who live in Persia should be deducted. So, for Turkey, only 1,350,000 are left. Apart from this 150,000 Armenians live in Constantinople and Smyrna; this assumption of Lord Bryce (p.11) matches with secure sources. This would give altogether 1,500,000 Armenians in the whole Turkish Empire, a number given in the memorandum by Lord Bryce (p.11) and matches with the calculations by Professor Philippsons in the year 1915.

If we deduct the 1,150,000 survivors from the total sum, by no means 600,000, or 800,000 and even over one million Armenians could have perished. The numbers which are alleged by the Englishman are not even close to the truth. Only this I wanted to get straightened.

The cruelties are detestable where and by whom they were committed, and no honest man can endorse them. If someone takes the statistics to prove something, the least that can be expected is their correctness!

On top of it, wasn't it the English who worked to represent Armenians before the world community? Lord Kitchener told me once how he reinstated the peace just by exterminating the men of weapons in the Sudan and the French sources hold outrageous pictures of the concentration camps in Transvaal where the Boer women and children starved to death in the tens of thousands! And doesn't the faith of Ireland cry out to the sky? In a merciless war which lasted 150 years long, two-thirds of the population was eradicated. Only their high fertility saved the Irish race from perdition. "As the English," wrote the Irishman George Chatterton-Hill in the periodical "Ord och Bild" (1916, pp.561), "couldn't eliminate them by simple murder or through laws which would force the entire nation out of the country, they tried another method which they tried in India: organized starvation. And this method has proven itself to be very effective. In seventy years from 1841 to 1911 the population figure fell from 8,196,597 to 4,381,951!. During the three years of the so called great famine (1846-1848) over one million persons died of hunger in the middle of rich grain fields in Ireland! In those three years not less than 50 million pound-sterling worth of foodstuff (grains and cattle) was exported to England under the charge of British bayonets, in order to pay taxes to the British State and rent to the absentee British landlords. Within the three years (1849-1851) about 400,000 persons died due to deprivations.

If the so called 'protector of the small nations' amongst the 380 million human beings who by a strange quirk of fate came under their "protection," can not find enough elbow-room for their philanthropic engagement, then she should at least knock at the door of her closest allies instead of knocking at the door of the Central Powers! There is much more to correct in Russia than in Turkey! The telegram which was sent by the General Secretary of the Union of the oppressed peoples of Russia, Baron Friedrich Ropp to Lloyd George on 21 December 1916 found him apparently very occupied with other things! Perhaps the revolutionary Russian Government itself will hear this shocking scream for help?"

Also in neutral countries, books and brochures about the suffering of Armenians are written and the governments were interrogated. I just ask if only pure philanthropy was at work here. Because it does not make any distinction between Armenians and Belgians on one side and — East Prussians (Russian Germans), Polish, Russian Jews, Serbians, Macedonians, Greeks and Turks on the Balkans on the other side! Next to the religious hypocrisy, nothing is so disgusting as the swindle which impels only political business under the disguise of mercy and exploits the suffering of others heinously, in order to make the political opponents, the Turks and their allies (Germans and Austrians) abhorrent […].

Seventh Chapter
German Artillery on the way to Baghdad

[…] To my greatest surprise, the arrived person was a countryman of mine (Swede), Nils de Maré, major in the Persian Service. The evening before he was with Major Pousette (Swede) and sixteen Austrians who were flown from Russian captivity in Taskent and could muddle themselves through Persia and arrived at Sabcha. Maré was on his way to Sweden; he took part in the retreat over Kirmanshah to Chanikin and he has witnessed so much during the battles with the Russians who were pressing after, that the hours of our togetherness just flew away. […]

German artillerymen were laying around the fire in groups, chatting alongside boiling cauldrons and ladled soup with big dippers to their dishes. At the same time the Turkish soldiers and coxes[?] looking like color spots with their clothing, who were consulting over the impending journey to Deir-el-Zor […]

On this day, we have seen also the first grasshopper; she has landed at the edge of the ferry, Kerit killed her and shouted at vermin by making his hands like a cone around his mouth that she gorges the "bread of the people"; but they came in hundreds and Kerit had to leave them willy-nilly at the edge of the ferry.[…]

But I have seen German comrades first again in the evening in light brown clay houses and the five minarets of the small Arabian city of Deir-el-Zor, that in the middle of the abundant green of the pasture and the plantations ornamented with chestnut and walnut trees; with her numerous water wells and her traffic rich wooden bridge which rests on stone pillars.[…]

Not a moment of victory but shaking sad news reached me on the Easter of 1916: Three days ago, on the 19th of April, the Field Marshal von der Goltz, after returning from an inspection tour to Kut-el-Amara, died of typhoid fever!

Deir-el-Zor is the official Turkish name of the city; normally one says only Ed-Der, which means monastery. Zor identifies the land between Palmyra, Ed-Der, Chabur, Sindchar, Nesibin and Rakka. The number of inhabitants (of the city) does not amount to more than 5 to 6,000; according to Max von Oppenheim about 6 or 7,000 Mohammedans and 700 Christians. […] Active trading was carried on and Deir-el-Zor is an important junction on the caravan routes between Aleppo and Baghdad, Damascus and Mosul.

After given a letter and a telegram home at the post, I looked for one of the larger houses of the city where as I heard, a fellow citizen, Mrs. Major Eriksson lived.[…] Upon seeing me off, Mrs. Eriksson gave me a letter to her husband who once was under German service at Kasr-i-Shirin; at the pushing forward of the Russian forces he came finally to the city of Chanikin at the Turkish-Persian boarder. Since I did not meet him there, I sent the letter to him with a German officer. Only after my departure did Major Eriksson come to Baghdad also — however only to die. He lies buried at the Christian cemetery of the City of the Caliphs; his body though should be brought to Sweden later on. […]

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© Holdwater
 © www.tallarmeniantale.com This image is located at http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com The source site of this article gets revised often, as better information comes along. For the most up-to-date version, and the related photos, the reader may consider reviewing the direct link as follows:

www.tallarmeniantale.com/hedin-sven.htm
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