Adonis Diaries

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“I killed Armenians”: Diaries of a Turkish Captain Azil Kemal

You may read the first part

Captain Azil Kemal wrote in his diaries:

Monday April 26, 1915:

“After I finished my mission of exterminating all the Armenians in the village of Ilije last saturday, I received another mission from Colonel Tewfik bey Monasterli to locate an Armenian terrorist couple who assassinated the German officer Otto von Bommel in the town of Mamahatoun, in the Erzurum province in East Turkey. The German consul in this province was Scheuber-Richter.

While waiting to meet with the colonel, I joined a group of officers who were bragging about their ingenuous methods of disposing of Armenians. The methods at this junction of the extermination order were pretty artisanal.

Midhat Chukru took care of the town of Isbir: “I ordered the people who could walk to move to a field outside town and to dig a ditch 2 meters deep. They brought their own shovels and tools. Totally naked, I commanded the lot to descend to the ditch and to lie down and fill the ditch. And we buried them alive. The ones who looked up were shot in the head…”

I was enjoying these stories and could not listen to the remaining methods: The colonel had arrived.

Mamahatoun was about 100 km from Ilije and it took us 2 days to arrive at night. I declined the invitation of the kaymakam Cengiz Efkan (administrative servant of a canton or caza) to share dinner with him and sleep in his palace.

Early the next morning, I waited in the police post overlooking main square and let the zapties (soldiers and police force) and the Tchetes loose on the Armenian houses and shops. Yesterday, the Moslem properties had white circles printed on their doors.

The Tchetes are irregulars who were freed from prison for common crimes, and they depended of the Central Committee of the Ittihad party.

The Tchetes were to follow a procedure in the extermination process.

As 4 of them enter a house, first they kill the handicapped and elder people, they proceed to grabbing the babies in their legs and banging their heads on walls, then they raped the girls and slaughtered them afterward, and they loot all the valued objects they liked.

Killing in houses in the larger towns were prohibited for fear of spreading epidemics.

The product in shops were confiscated for the troops on the frontlines.

Many Chechens and Cherkessk volunteered for these dirty jobs on the promise of getting a house in the burned Armenian towns and villages…

And suddenly a total Silence hovered over the place. Cengiz said: “The job is finished. They are all dead

The sergeant shouted: “We caught the couple assassin of the German officer”

Sergeant Chemsi was cursing the couple “khenzil guiavour” (infidel pig)

Siranouch and Stepan Mardikian denied any wrongdoing. They were tortured in public. As the hands of the spouse were shopped off, Stepan had to satisfy the Turks with whatever charges they wanted him to confess. And they were shot.

I later learned that it was the vali of Erzurum who ordered the assassination in order to set the German officers against the Armenians. (Is it probable that this young German officer expressed opposition to the methods of killing?)

At night, I heard someone crying in the forest. A 20 year-old Turkish soldier was crying his heart out. I finally managed to hear the reason “It is not the killing of Armenians. It is the brutal methods used that do not dignify the human being. I cannot kill babies or rape women…”




June 2021

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