Ottoman Government’s Excuse for Participating in War Ridiculed
by Clemenceau, Who Says 
Nation Is Not Fit to Rule Peoples.

Salt Lake Telegram
27 June 1919.

By Associated Press. 
PARIS, June 27—-The allied council
has replied to the Turkish memoran-
dum, saying that it could not accept
the Turkish claim that its territories
be restored undiminished.
The statement of Damad Ferld
(Sherif) Pasha, delivered to the coun-
cil of ten Tuesday, June 17, respecting
the Turkish position, and also the re-
ply of the allied and associated gov-
ernments, dated June 26, were made
public today. The Turkish note fol-
“Gentlemen; I should not be bold
enough to come before the high assem~
bly if I thought that the Ottoman peo-
ple has incurred any share of responsi-
bility in the war which has ravaged
Europe and Asia with fire and sword.
"I apologize in advance for the de-
velopment which I must give to my
statement, for I am in point of fact de-
fending today before the public opin-
ion of the whole world and before his-
tory a most complicated and ill under-
stood case.
"In the course of thé war nearly the
whole civilized world was shocked by
the recital of the crimes alleged to
have been committed by the Turks.
It is far from my thought to cast a veil
over these misdeeds, which are such
as to make the conscience of mankind
shudder with horror forever. Still less,
wlll I endeavor to minimize the degree
of guilt of the actors in the great
drama. The aim which I have set for
myself is that of showing to the world,
with proofs in my hand, who are the
truly responsible authors of these ter-
rible crimes.
“We are under no illusions in re-
gard to the extent of the dissatisfac-
tion which surrounds us; we are ab-
solutely convinced that a mass of un-
fortunate events has made Turkey ap-
pear in an unfavorable light. How-
ever, when the truth has once been
brought to light it will warn civilized
nations and posterity against passing
an unjust judgement upon us.
"The responsibility for the war in
tho East—assumed, without the knowl-
edge of the sovereign or of the people,
in the Black sea, by a German ship
commanded by a German admiral—
rests entirely with the signatories of
the secret treaties, which were un-
known alike to the Ottoman people and
to the European chancellories.
‘These agreements were concluded
between the government of the kaiser
and the heads of the revolutionary
committee, who at the beginning of
1914 had placed themselves in power
by means of coup d'etat. I call to
witness the official dispatches ex-
changed between the representatives of
France and Great Britain and thelr re-
spective governments during the three
months which preceded the outbreak of
hostilities between Turkey and the em-
pire of the czars.
"When war had once been declared
the eternal covetousness of Russia as
regards Constantinople was skillfully
represented to the people as an immi-
nent danger and anxiety for the preser-
vation of national existence thereupon
rendered the struggle a desperate one.
Our archives are, moreover, thrown en-
tirely open te an inquiry which would

enable the statements which I have
the honor to make to this high assem-
bly to bo amply confirmed.
"In regard lo the other tragic events
I beg leave to repeat here the declara-
tions which I have repeatedly made to
the Ottoman senate. Turkey deplores
the murder of a great number of her
Christian conationals as much as she
does that of Moslems, properly speak-
ing. In point of fact, the committee of
union and progress, not content with
the crimes perpetrated against Chris-
tians, condemned to death by every
means 3,000,000 Moslems.
"Several hundreds of thousands of
these unfortunate beings, hunted from
their homes, are still wandering about
today in the middle of Asia Minor
without shelter and without any relief
for their very existence. And even if
they returned to thelr provinces they
would find themselves just as destitute,
for a large number of towns and vil-
lages, both Moslem and Christian, have
been completely destroyed. Asia Minor
is today nothing but a vast heap of
“The new government, notwith-
standing its vigilant care, has been as
yet unable to mitigate the disastrous
effects of the cataclysm. It will always
be easily possible to confirm my as-
sertions by an inquiry undertaken on
the spot.
"It is necessary, however, to dismiss
any theory of racial conflict or any
explosion of religious fanaticism. More-
over, the Turkish people, at a time
when violence could strive successfully
against right, showed itself able to re-
spect the lives, the honor and the sa-
cred feelings of the Christian nations
subject to its laws. It would be fairer
to judge the Ottoman nation by its
long history as a whole, rather than
by a single period which shows it In
tho most disadvantageous light.
"Whatever be the names by which
they are called, the principles and the
methods of both Russian and Turkish
revolutionaries are the same, namely,
to destroy society in order to seize its
ruins by putting its members out of
the way and taking possession of their
property. Europe and America are en-
deavoring, at the cost of immense sac-
rifices, to deliver the Slav people,

whose ostensible attitude toward the
entente is scarcely different at the
present time from that of the Turks,
for both have been reduced to silence,
and both are paralyzed by an unheard
of tyranny.”
The memorandum goes on to state
that the truth has begun to filter
through and that the trial of the
Unionists at Constantinople has proven
the responsibility of the leaders of the
committee for the war and the other
tragic events. It is asserted the mis-
sion of Turkey will henceforth be de-
voted to an intensive economic and in-
tellectual culture, in order to become a
useful factor in the league of nations.
It is stated the Ottoman people de-
sire to see the end of continued occu-
pation of its territories and it is as-
serted this occupation has resulted in
excesses committed to the hurt of the
Moslem population.
"It desires with equal earnestness
the maintenance on the basis of the

status quo antebellum, of the integ-
rity of the Ottoman empire, which
during the last forty years has been
reduced to the least possible limits.
“It, lastly, wishes to be granted in
Thrace, to the northwest of Adrian-
ople where the Mohammedan popula-
tion is in an overwhelming majority,
a frontler line which wlll render pos-
sible the defense of Adrianople and
"What we ask for thus, is moreover
completely in conformity with Presi-
dent Wilson's principles, which we in-
voked when we requested an armistice.
A fresh parceling out of the Ottoman
empire would entirely upset the bal-
ance of the east.
"Even a plebiscite would not solve
the question, for the supreme interests
of more than 300,000,000 Moslems are
involved and they form an important
fraction of the whole of the human
“The conscience of the world could
only approve conditions of peace which
are compatible with right, with the
aspirations of peoples, and with emi-
nent justice.”
The allied reply follows:
“The council of the principal allied
and associated powers have read with
the most careful attention the mem-
orandum presented to them by your
excellency on June 17, and, in accord-
ance with the promise then made, de-
sire now to offer the following obser-
vation upon it.
“In vour recital of the political in-
trigues which accompanied Turkey’s
entry into the war and of the tragedies
which followed it, your excellency
makes no attempt to excuse or qualify
the crimes of which the Turkish gov-
ernment was then guilty. It is admit-
ted directly, or by implication, that
Turkey had no cause of quarrel with
the entente powers; that she acted as
tho subservient tool of Germany, that
the war, began without excuse and
conducted without mercy, was accom-
panied by massacres whose calculated
atrocity equals or execeds anything in
recorded history.
“But it is argued that these crimes
Were committed by a Turkish govern—-
ment for whose misdeeds the Turkish
people were not responsible; that there
was in them no element of religious
fanaticism; that Moslems suffered from
them not less than Christians, that
they were entirely out of harmony with
Turkish tradition; as historically ex-
hibited in the treatment by Turkey of
subject races; that the maintenance of
the Turkish empire is necessary for
the religious equilibrium of the world
so that, policy, not less than justice,
requires that its territories should be
restored undiminished as they existed
when the war broke out.
"The council can neither accept this
conclusion nor the argument by which
it is supported. They do not, indeed,
doubt that the present government of
Turkey profoundly disapproves of the
policy pursued by its predecessors.
Even if considerations of morality did
not weight with it—as doubtless they
did—consideration of expediency would
be conclusive. As individuals, its
members have every motive, as well
as every right, to repudiate the actions
which have proved so disastrous to
their country.
"But, speaking generally, a nation
must be governed by the government
which rules it, which directs its for-
eign pollcy, which contols its armies.
Nor can Turkey claim any relief from
the legitimate consequences of this
doctrine merely because her affairs,
at a most critical moment in her his-
tory, had fallen into tho hands of
men utterly devoid of the principle of
pity, could not even command suc-
"It seems, however, that the claim
for complete territorial restoration put
forward in the mmeorandum is not
based merely on the plea that Turkey
should not be required to suffer for the
sins of her ministers. It has a deeper
ground. It appeals to the history of
Turkish rule in the past and to the
conditions of affairs In the Moslem
"Now, the council is anxious not to
enter into unnecessary controversy or
to inflict needless pain on your ex-
cellency, and the delegates who accom-
pany you. It wishes well to the Tur-
kish people and admires their excel-
lent qualities. But it cannot admit
that among those qualities are to be
counted capacity to rule over alien
races. The experiment has been tried

too long and too often for there to be
the least doubt as to its result.
"History tells us of many Turkish
successes and of many Turkish de-
feats; of nations conquered and na-
tions freed.
"The memorandum itself refers to

the reductions that have taken place
in the territories recently under Ot-
toman sovereignty. Yet in all these
changes there is no case to be found,
either in Europe or Asia, or Africa,
in which the establishment of Turk-
ish rule in any country has not been
followed by a diminution of material
prosperity and a fall in the level of
culture. Nor is thera any case to
bo found in which the withdrawal of
Turkish rule has not been followed by
a growth in material prosperity and
a rise in the level of culture.
"Neither among the Christians of
Europe nor among the Moslems of
Syria, Arabia and Africa, has the Turk
done other than destroy, wherever he
has conquered; never has he shown
himself able to develop in peace what
he has won by war. Not in this di-
rectlon do his talents lie.
"The obvious conclusion from these
facts would seem to be that, since
Turkey has, without the least excuse
or provocation, deliberately attacked
the entente powers and been defeated,
she has thrown upon the victors the
heavy duty of determining the destiny
of the various populations in her hete-
rogeneous empire. This duty the
counc!l of the principal allied and as-
sociated powers desires to carry out
as far as may be in accordance with
the wishes and permanent interests of
the populations themselves.
"But the council observes with re-
gret that the memorandum introduces
in this connection a wholly different
order of consideration based on op-
posed religious rivalries. The Turk-
ish empire is, it seems, to be pre-
served unchanged, not so much be-
cause this would be to the advantage
either of the Moslems or of the Chris-
tians within its borders, but because
its maintenance is demanded by the
religious sentiment of men who never
felt the Turkish yoke, or have forgot-
ten how heavily it weighs on those
who are compélled to bear it.
"But surely there never was a sen-
timent less justified by facts. The
whole course of the war exposes its
hollowness. What religious issue is
raised by a struggle in which Protest-
ant Germany, Roman Catholic Aus-
tria, Orthodox Bulgaria and Moslem
Turkey banded themselves together to
plunder their neighbors?
"The only savor of deliberate fa-
naticism perceptible in these trans-
actions was the massacra of Chris-
tian Armenians by order of the Turk-
ish government. But your excellency
has pointed out that, at the very same
time and by the very same authority,
unoffending Moslems were being
slaughtered, in circumstances suffi-
ciently horrible and in numbers suf-
ficiently large, to mitigate if not wholly
remove any suspicion of religious par-
"During the war, then, there was
little evidence of sectarian animosity
on the part of any of the governments
and no evidence whatever so far as
the entente powers were concerned.
Nor has anything since occurred to
modify this judgment. Every man's
conscience has been respected, places
of sacred memory have been carefully
guarded: the states and peoples who
were Mohammedan before the war are
Mohammedan atill.
"Nothing touching religion has been
altered, except the security with which
it may be practiced, and this, wher-
ever allied control exists, has certain-
ly been altered for the better.
"If it be replied that the diminu-
tion in the territories of a historic Mos-
lem state must injure the Moslem
cause in all lands, we respectfully sug-
gest that, in our opinion, this is an
error. To thinking Moslems through-
out the world, the modern history of
the government enthroned at Constan-
tinople can be no source of pleasure
or pride.
"For reasons we have already in-
dicated, the Turk was there attempt-
ing a task for which he had little
aptitude and in which he has con-
sequently had little success. Set him
to work in happier circumstances; let
his energies find their chief exercise
in surroundings more congenial to his
genius, under new circumstances less
complicated and difficult, with an evil
tradition of corruption and intrigue
severed, perhaps forgotten, why should
he not add luster to his country and
thus, indirectly, to his religion, by
other qualities than those of courage
and discipline, which he has always
so conspicuously displayed?
"Unless we are mistaken, your ex-
cellency should understand our hopes.
In an impressive passage of your
memorandum, you declare it to be
your country's mission to devote it-
self to ‘an intensive economic and
intellectual culture.”
"No change could be more startling
or impressive; none could bo more
beneficial. If your excelleney is able
to initiate this great process of de-
velopment in men of the Turkish race,
you will deserve, and will certainly re-
receive the assistance we are able
to give you.


Source: Salt Lake Telegram | 1919-06-27 | Turk Plea to be Left with Territory Intact Rejected by Entente | | Utah Digital Newspapers