Ambassador Morgenthau's Story

ambassador morgenthaus story

By Henry Morgenthau Snr.
Doubleday Page and Co, New York 1918.

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Ambassador Morgenthau's Story is the published memoir of Henry Morgenthau Senior, covering the time when he was American Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913-1916. The book has often been used as a primary source regarding Turkish atrocities against Ottoman Christians.

As Ottoman authorities began exterminating Armenians in 1914-1915, Morgenthau's desk was flooded with reports nearly every hour by the American consuls residing in different parts of the Empire documenting the massacres and deportations that were taking place. Along with the extermination of the Armenians, Morgenthau's memoir also details massacres and deportations committed on native Greeks and Assyrians. Faced with the accumulating evidence, he officially informed the U.S. government of the activities of the Ottoman government and asked for it to intervene.

The American government however, voiced little official reaction. Morgenthau held high-level meetings with the leaders of the Ottoman Empire to help alleviate the position of the Christians but his protestations were waived and ignored. He famously admonished the country's Interior Minister Talaat Pasha, stating that "Our people will never forget these massacres."

Morgenthau wrote:

Acting under Germany's prompting, Turkey now began to apply this principle of deportation to her Greek subjects in Asia Minor... This procedure against the Greeks not improperly aroused my indignation. I did not have the slightest suspicion at that time that the Germans had instigated these deportations, but I looked upon them merely as an outburst of Turkish ferocity and chauvinism. By this time I knew Talaat well; I saw him nearly every day, and he used to discuss practically every phase of international relations with me. I objected vigorously to his treatment of the Greeks; I told him that it would make the worst possible impression abroad and that it affected American interests... "Turkey for the Turks" was now Talaat's controlling idea.1

Their [the Young Turks] passion for Turkifying the nation seemed to demand logically the extermination of all Christians---Greeks, Syrians, and Armenians.2

The Armenians are not the only subject people in Turkey which have suffered from this policy of making Turkey exclusively the country of the Turks. The story which I have told about the Armenians I could also tell with certain modifications about the Greeks and the Syrians. Indeed the Greeks were the first victims of this nationalizing idea.3

The Turks adopted almost identically the same procedure against the Greeks as that which they had adopted against the Armenians.4

1. Morgenthau, Henry, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1919, p. 49.
2. Ibid, p. 290.
3. Ibid, p. 323.
4. Ibid, p. 324.


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