As written by Grigoris Balakian
The German officers on their way to Palestine and the Mesopotamian front had no choice but to pass before the Bagche [Asia Minor] station [train]. All of them used offensive language with regard to the Armenians. They considered us to be engaging in intrigue, ready to strike the Turkish army from the rear, and thus traitors to the fatherland…deserving of all manner of punishment.
Although most of the Armenians living in Turkey had been deported, scattered, and martyred in the spring of 1915, a few hundred thousand survivors still perishing in the deserts to the south—wasting away to nothing. Nevertheless the German officers’ Armenophobic fury continued, and not a word of compassion was heard from their lips. On the contrary, they justified the Ittihad government, saying, “You Armenians deserve your punishment. Any state would have punished rebellious subjects who took up arms to realize national hopes by the destruction of the country.”
When we objected, asking if other states would dare to massacre women and children, along with men, and annihilate an entire race on account of a few guilty people, they replied: “Yes, it’s true that the punishment was a bit severe, but you must realize that during such chaotic and frightful days of war as these, it was difficult to find the time and means to separate the guilty from the innocent.” This was also the merciless answer of the chief executioners—Talaat, Enver, Behaeddin Shakir, Nazim—and their Ittihad camarilla.
The German officers pretended ignorance of the widespread slaughter of more than a million innocent Armenians, irrespective of sex and age, and referred only to deaths by starvation and the adversities of travel during the deportations. Thus they exonerated the Turkish government, saying that its inability to provide for hundreds of thousands of deportees in a disorganized land like Asia Minor was not surprising. Meanwhile Turkish government officials prevented the starving refugees from receiving bread distributed by the Austrians and Swiss, stating, “Orders have come from Constantinople not to give any assistance. We cannot allow either bread or medicine to be given. The supreme order is to annihilate this evil race. How dare you rescue them from death?” The German officers would often speak of us as Christian Jews and as blood sucking usurers of the Turkish people.
What a falsification of the wretched realities prevailing in Asia Minor, and what a reversal of roles! Yes indeed, there was an oppressor. Either the Germans were consciously distorting the facts and roles, or the Turks had really convinced them that the Turks were the victims and the Armenians were criminals. How appropriate it is to recall here this pair of Turkish sayings: “The clever thief has the master of the house hanged” and “The one who steals the minaret prepares its sheath in advance, of course.”
Many German officers had no qualms about turning over to the Turkish authorities Armenian youths who had sought refuge with them; they knew full well that they were delivering them to their executioners. If an Armenian merely spoke negatively about a German—be he the emperor or [Baron] von der Goltz Pasha [a German military aide to the Ottoman Empire], or the average German—or dared to criticize German indifference toward the Armenian massacres, he was immediately arrested and turned over to the nearest Turkish military or police authority. And if the Germans found a certain Armenian particularly irritating, they pinned the label of spy on him.
Mistaking me for an Austrian, a few German officers boasted of having turned over several Armenians to the Turkish police, adding with a laugh, “Only the Turks know how to talk to the Armenians.”