Document: Archive Documents

The following is only a small selection from the materials available on 1915 Genocide. For more documents please visit the links in the right hand-side menu, under "In the other sites."

National Archives, Foreign Office, Report of the Swedish Embassy to the Foreign Office, July 6, 1915
National Archives, Foreign Office, Report of the Swedish Embassy to the Foreign Office, July 22, 1915
National Archives, Foreign Office, Report of the Swedish Embassy to the Foreign Office, September 2, 1915
National Archives, Foreign Office, Report of the Swedish Embassy to the Foreign Office, January 5, 1917
National Archives, Foreign Office, Report of the Swedish Embassy to the Foreign Office, August 20, 1917

The National Archives, State Department, Report of the Swedish Embassy to the Foreign Office, July 6, 1915

Ud 1902 Dose Vol 1148
Legation the Suede
Constantinople, July 6, 1915
Persecution of Armenians.
N: o 137 Confidential.
D. No. 4137 gr. 21 AFD. U Objective 1

Mr. Minister,

The persecutions of the Armenians have assumed terrifying proportions, and everything indicates that the Young Turks like to take this opportunity, when of different reasons there are no effective external pressure to be feared, to once and for all put an end to the Armenian question. The means for this are quite simple and consists in the extermination of the Armenian nation. Their measures stop at nothing, and by the side of the occasional massacres, they have now resorted to the deport the Armenians from areas where they have been settled for centuries or have had their origins, and scatter them in different parts of the, geographically seen, wide empire. Thus, it seems that the Armenians in towns along the Black Sea coast are being dispersed throughout the interior of the country, while those in Erzerum, numbering nearly 60,000 have been driven southward, to Mesopotamia, etc. with refined cruelty the men are being sent in one direction and families in another. It should be easy to imagine, what distress and sufferings the deportees thus should be subjected to.

It is hardly be the Turkish people, who acts on its own accord, but the whole movement originates from the authorities and behind it standing the Young Turk Committee, which now shows what ideas it really harbors.

The Armenians have indeed much to blame themselves, but even if one or thousands allowed themselves to be bought by Russia, have intrigued and conspired against the government, etc., it is, nevertheless, extreme to allow 1 million Armenians to suffer for this on the most severe manner.
< br>
The German Ambassador has in written protested to the Porte, but what can Germany or any other Great Power do, as long as the war lasts. That the Central Powers would threaten Turkey is presently unthinkable, and most of the other Great Powers are already at war against Turkey. After its end, Europe must again intervene here; at the moment, the Turks are doing everything conceivable to justify how this action is. Through the upsetting manner which the Armenians are treated, Turkey is now, more than ever, casting judgement upon itself, but in the current critical situation of the Turks and in the view of the highly flaming xenophobia, it is probably useless to try to explain for them the danger this poses. "On retrouvera toujours la Turquie!" Well true, but when, and in what condition will then the unfortunate Armenian nation be in, which has never been under greater challenges than now. What would happen to those 150,000 Armenians here in Constantinople, if the Straits are forced by the English, thus shudders in truth back the imagination.

His Excellency
Mr. Wallenberg
Minister for Foreign Matters.

With reverence humbly
C. Anckarsvärd


Back to Top


The National Archives, State Department, Report of the Swedish Embassy to the Foreign Office, July 22, 1915

Ud 1902 Dose Vol 1148
Legation the suede
Constantinople July 22, 1915
persecution of Turkish subjects of Greek nationality.
N: o 155
D. No. 4155 gr. 21 AFD. Case U

Mr. Minister,

It is not only Armenians, but also Turkish subjects of Greek nationality, who are currently being subjected to severe persecution. Here present Greek charge d'affaires states that the number of the Greeks in the villages of Marmara coasts, on islands in the mentioned sea, and at certain parts of the Bosphor, who are forced out of house and homes, is amounting to about 60,000 people, mostly women, children and elderly men. Similar evacuation measures would in principle be decided against the Greek population on the coast of Smyrna, living within a distance of 10 km from sea-shore. Three envoys, who have been sent by the Patriarchate to bring relief and monetary support to those driven-out, often under the open sky and destitute of all, have been refused to enter into any direct contact with these unfortunate crowds of people.

It could, according Mr. Tsamados, not be a question of anything but a war of extermination against the Greek nation in Turkey, and as measures herein, they also use forced Islamisation, apparently in order that, if after the war yet another European intervention for the protection of the Christians is brought up, it should then be as few left of them as possible.

The Greeks, who after the Balkan War ended last summer were forced to emigrate partly from Thrace and partly from other parts of Turkey, are by Mr. Tsamados estimated to be no less than 200,000. Some of these, however, had found work in those of Greece conquered parts of Macedonia.

His Excellency
Mr. Wallenberg
Minister for Foreign Matters.

With reverence humbly
C. Anckarsvärd


Back to Top


The National Archives, State Department, Report of the Swedish Embassy to the Foreign Office, September 2, 1915

Ud 1902 Dose Vol 1148
Legation the Suede
Constantinople September 2, 1915
persecution of Armenians.
N: o 182 Confidential.
D. No. 4182 gr. 21 AFD. U Objective 1
170 B. 18/8 15.

Mr. Minister,

From the German Ambassador I have today, for confidential use, but the official despatch received in written the attached memorandum, which the Embassy has on the 9:th of past August submitted to the Porte in regard to the Armenian question.

German Embassy's lastest "démarche" is equal futile as the first one. The only thing that could have had any effect, would be measures of a different sort than the protest notes, which at its height could be able to contribute to weakening the accusations against Germany for being accessory. For that matter, such action would now be too late. It is estimated here that over a half million Armenians are lost, killed or died as a result of of disease and hunger after their expulsion. The six so-called Armenian vilayets learn to be totally cleansed of at least the Armenian-Catholic Armenians. The Roman-Catholic and Protestant Armenians have received less roughness. They have started in Constantinople to expel those Armenians who had moved here from the province. It is obvious that the Turks seek this opportunity now during the war to exterminate the Armenian nation, so that when peace comes, no Armenian question longer exists. The Turks say that, upon the Russian conquest of the city of Van, the Armenian population in the neighborhood massacred over 100,000 Turks. Even if the accusation is not unfounded, however, this figure is certainly highly exaggerated. That the Armenians, however, acted very carelessly, as they lent themselves to help the Russian troops, is certain, but equally certain is that the Turks have allowed their epreisals reach such an extent and in a way that for all times will allow them to appear as a barely half-civilized nation. But, regardsless of the judgment of history, it should not be ruled out that this error by the Turks will avenge itself by Turkey's putting under guardianship, something which in the name of justice and humanity should have happened at least 100 years ago. It should be noted that the persecution of Armenians have occurred at the instigation of the Turkish authorities and is initially not a spontaneous eruption of Turkish fanaticism, although this fanaticism is tulized and matters. The tendency to make Turkey inhabited only by Turks, may even emerge in an appalling way also against the Greeks and other Christians.

It was a dangerous decision to allow Turkey to declare the "holy" war, and Germany's responsibility in this respect may fall quite heavily. This applies not only to Turkey but also large parts of the world, where the Musulman population is under the control of civilized nations.

His Excellency
Mr. Wallenberg
Minister for Foreign Matters.

With reverence humbly
C. Anckarsvärd


Back to Top


The National Archives, State Department, Report of the Swedish Embassy to the Foreign Office, January 5, 1917

Legation the Suede
Constantinople, January 5, 1917
Statements on the situation in Turkey.
N: o 9, Confidential
B. 12 75/5 16

Mr. Minister,

A member of the Austrian Embassy, a reputable and known for his prudence and moderation, has told me the below mentioned summerized statements about the situation here.

Of the ease and the speed, which the otherwise so unbearably slow Turkish government gave its consent to the Central Powers' Peace Note, it is evident, in what degree the rulers here yern for the peace. The same applies to the marked depression, which followed after the negative reply by the Entente became publicly known. For example, when among the Turkish officers it is reflected that a peace now would be dangerous for Turkey and that, thus, they should continue until the Central Powers could dictate the peace while ensuring Turkey's territorial integrity as it existed before the war, then it is an empty sham, arrogance, chauvinism and humbug. The sooner the better must every responsible Turk desire that his country might achieve peace and be able to start repairing the heavy losses which the war has caused. The sooner, he must also wishe, that the sacrifizing of the Turkish soldiers for other than direct Turkish war aims, ends and the same is the relation to the huge debt to Tyskalnd. Turkey will probably hardly consider itself obliged to repay this debt, and this would presumably be greater than its ability.

Turkish government's position might have become extremely critical, if the country loses part of its territory at the end of the war. Russia occupies the part of Eastern Anatolia, and there is a danger to England at last conquering Baghdad. The tremendous decline in government revenues shows how bad, awfully bad the economic issues have been handled here during the war. The situation, however, could have been completely different, if Turkey had followed the Central Powers' advice to let them take over even the internal organization of supplies and similar questions. For this, however, they did not have their eyes on, and so it has gone the way it went, i.e. the resources are exceedingly strained, much more than they needed to be, the trade is crippled and disorganized, the currency situation is preplexed with exaggerated decrease in the value of the bank notes, whose increasing flood pushes up the prices on necessities. Worse than this, however, is the extermination of the Armenians, which might have been prevented if German advisers had in time given the same authority over the civil administration which the German officers actually exercise over army and navy.

Even if Germany would now accept to recognize the cancellation of the capituation, it is probable that in Austria-Hungary, with its deeper experience of the Orient and with those among their own subjects widely dispersed interests in Turkey, will come to take the proper time and carefully consider before making a decision, which might make it impossible for Christians to live in this country. In any case, it seems likely that as soon as the war ends, the Great Powers rediscover each other to make decisions concerning Turkey.

Above mentioned statements come, as I have mentioned, from a diplomatic official of a government allied with Turkey. Your Excellency can then imagine how the neutral diplomats consider the situation here.

His Excellency
Mr. Wallenberg
Minister for Foreign Matters.

With reverence humbly,
C. Anckarsvärd


Back to Top


The National Archives, State Department, Report of the Swedish Embassy to the Foreign Office, August 20, 1917

Legation the Suedede
Constantinople August 20, 1917
The general situation in Turkey in the fourth war beginning.
N: o 232, 3 car. Confidential
D. No. 6232

Your Excellency,

Among the Central Powers, Turkey has doubtless suffered most of the war. Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria have certainly also severly felt its burden, but these countries may find, however, encouragement and solace in military success and the fact that considerable hostile areas are in their hands, at the same time that Turkey sees large parts of Armenia, Syria and Mesopotamia in the hands of the enemy, while the danger still threatens the Dardanelles.

Turkey, however, is a vast country, and the lost parts of the country be far away from the real Turkish provinces, whence the fall of Erzurum and Baghdad as well as Englishmen's dangerous proximity to the Jaffa have not made a stronger impact on the bulk of the population for whom the concept of native land is limited to their own province or village, and who in addition has during the last 100 years become accustomed to see the country's borders subjected to constant amputations. For more thoughtful Ottomans, however, the significance of the shrinkage of the empire becomes undoubtedly more clear clearer and how the government can not stimulate the suffering people, neither by pointing to conquests nor even by, with the exception of the Dardanelles, the more generally conducted successful defense.

However, it is chiefly on the war following increase of the prices that has made an impression on the Ottoman people, but this impression is so much deeper, as the common man is exceedingly hard hit by it. The rising prices has reached such a degree that is difficult to imagine and consequently the following privations and sufferings are so great that people want peace at any price. The increase of prices continues constantly, as showed in the attached table / Appendix Nr 1 /. It has several causes: the rulers' lack of organizational skills, the military far outstretched requisitions, obstruction of the domestic trade, the almost total crippling on foreign trade and ultimately production's strong diminishing because of reduced labor, caused partly by mobilization and partly also by the extermination of the Armenian race. All this has together eventually exhausted the supplies, both the provision as well as other necessities to such extent that the price on certain items and among them most necessary items such as rice, bulgor, sugar, petroleum, etc. have risen by 1,000, 2,000 and up to 5,000% / see table, Appendix Nr 1 /. Those in power and their friends have also contributed in this matter through, for them a most rewarding work. There has been hope for some relief by this year's harvest, which looked promising. There are no certain data about it, but it would appear that it would fail to fulfill the hopes everywhere, even though considerable efforts have been made to fill the labor shortage in the agricultural machinery, purchased in Germany and Austria-Hungary. In some areas and in especially in the most fretile grain-producing regions, the drought has taken its toll. The harvest in 1916 was estimated at 30% of the normal; the current year's can perhaps not be set much higher or about 50% of the normal.

The outlook for the war winter of 1917-1918 is not encouraging. Coal and wood have reached incredible prices. The meat, which otherwise usually occurs abundantly in Turkey, is also beginning to be scarce. If the harvest is insufficient, they will stand before a famine. Already now it is reported from the authoritative sources that 30 to 40 people in Constantinople die daily directly from starvation and that the situation in Asia Minor, especially in Palestine and Lebanon, is supposed to be even more desperate. Doubtless, the mortality rate by hunger is much greater if one would include those who die because of prolonged malnutrition and thereby decreased resistance to all sorts of diseases and therefore easily fall victim to the many epidemics which constantly rage in the East.


If the living conditions of the people seems almost hopeless, then the empire's finances give all but any rosy picture. The public debt grows in a manner which is highly disturbing.

Turkey has since old times been knwon to experiment with bad business and these have obviously not been improved during the war; on the contrary. Before the war, the country's debt amounted to 180 million LTQ. / - 3.6 billion Reichsmarks /, which only with difficulty could pay its interest. The amount has now been, through short-term loans principally in Germany, but also in Austria, doubled and is assumed to currently amount to around 330,000,000 LTQ / - 6.6 billion Reichsmarks / and will of course grow yet further. How should this debt be paid off and how can even its interest be paid, since the annual income mounts only to 22 million LTQ / - 240 million Rmk. /. At the beginning of last March, Finance Minister Djavid Bey gave a statement in the Chamber of Deputies on the economic situation. There he said: "If our allies agree to a fairly considerable time skipping repayment and interest, I hope, that after the war we shall be able to bear the burden of debt, which has heaped upon us. Shall the Allied consent to it and if they agree, which price shall the country then have to pay?

It is granted that the situation of such matters, as just described above, must provoke dissatisfaction with the government. This is also the case and the discontent is even so strong that it would trigger a revolution in most other countries. It seems, however, unlikely that this will happen here, due to people's lack of organizational skills.

The only political firm body, which occurs, is the within Young Turk party formed Committee Union et Progres, with Talaat, Enver, Halil, Dr. Nazim and Midat Chukriin its helm. This organization is doubtless very strong. It keeps the army and police in its hand and has filled all the senior positions, both officers as well as public officials, with their secure adherents, where the elections to the Chamber of Deputies have been arranged by Talaat so that any opposition within it practically does not exist. This should be the case even less this year than before, because new elections are to be held in 1918, and a deputy, who makes opposition, thereby loses the prospect of reelection.

In the Senate, however, one can expect attacks on the government. Here, Ahmed Riza Bey, the former chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, who above others fights those in power, but since he does not have any large number of devotees, his criticism does not exert any stronger influence.

Turkey's history clearly shows that a revolution can only be done by the army, i.e. by the officers. It is therefore important to keep them in good humor. For this, they have therefore done their outmost. Enver Pasha is not niggardly in promotions. The officers receive 25% increase of salary during the war, whereby they also receive provisions and other necessities from the state to pre-war prevailing prices. Higher officers obtain even such large quantities of these goods, that they can sell them with substantial profit in the general market. Even civil officials benefit in the same way, although in a far less extent than the officers.

The government, thus, relies chiefly on the army and officials and finds its position so well, that it takes little regard for the people in need. People are put off with moral consolation. Turkey has, asserts the government, already achieved such a large gain that it now occupies a respected position among the European countries. For the country, humiliating surrendering, is neutralized etc.

Certain measures have been taken against the situation of the provisions, which, however, appear to be pretended, since they lead to almost no results as it naturally is, because the business owners belong to the government's closest friends. Just today the establishment of a new international business department is announced, which shall be subordinate to the War Ministry. Regarding its authority, which appears to be very large, please refer to the announcement, see Appendix Nr. 2.

This is doubtless a step in the right direction, but it all depends on the performance and the expectations in that respect can hardly be very high.

In a situation of extreme exhaustion, the Turkish people will allow itself to be led through the fourth winter of war. Some revolution seems not to be achieved. The government remains in hudvudsak the same and one or another personnel shift does not seem to lead to any change in the governance principle. The fermenting resentment of the people would at most take the form of spontaneous attack against one or another minister, Enver in particular. This is in front of other objects of public hatred, and several times this month, rumors circulate about attacks on him. Whether there is any basis for these rumors is difficult to say when the highly censored newspapers do not mention anything about this. Enver is in any case very well guarded and therefore difficult to access. When it is found appropriate, to strike necessary fear, the government does not hesitate to use violent means. There are public hangings in the streets, see attached picture, Appendix Nr. 3

Regarding the government's plans for the future, it seems quite doubtless that a major offensive against Baghdad is prepared for upcoming October or November, probably under the leadership of the now in the Turkish service, Falkenhayn. Lots of heavy artillery and other war materials arrive from Germany and it is reported that they await a not so small number of troops from there. Large stock of provisions and materials seems to be heaped around Aleppo and Mosul. In regard to the situation in the army and the prospects for success of such an operation, I refer to the attached report from the military attaché.

His Excellency Mr. Admiral Lindman
ETC. etc. etc.
With reverence humbly,
G. Ahlgren


Back to Top