THE editor of a great Paris journal once remarked that he attributed the extraordinary success of his publication to the fact that he had discovered that each man had at least one story to tell.
I have been for many years in the Near East—about thirty in all—and have watched the gradual and systematic extermination of Christians and Christianity in that region, and I believe it my duty to tell that grim tale, and to turn the light upon the political rivalries of the Western World, that have made such a fearful tragedy possible.
Though I have served for the major part of time as an American consular officer, I am no longer acting in that capacity, and have no further connection with the United States Government. None of the statements, which I make, therefore, has any official weight, nor have I in any way drawn upon State Department records or sources of information. I write strictly in my capacity as a private citizen, drawing my facts from my own observations, and from the testimony of others whom I quote.
I was in Athens in July, 1908, when, at the instigation of the Young Turks’ “Committee of Union and Progress” the Saloniki army revolted and demanded the immediate putting into effect of the Constitution of 1876, which had become a dead letter, and I noted the reaction produced upon Greece by that apparently progressive move.
I was in Saloniki shortly after and witnessed the sad awakening of the non-Mussulman elements of that part of the Balkans to the fact that the much vaunted “Constitution” meant no liberty for them, but rather suppression, suffering and ultimate extinction.
I was in Smyrna in May of 1917, when Turkey severed relations with the United States, and I received the oral and written statements of native-born American eye-witnesses of the vast and incredibly horrible Armenian massacres of 1915-16— some of which will be here given for the first time; I personally observed and otherwise confirmed the outrageous treatment of the Christian population of the Smyrna vilayet, both during the Great War, and before its outbreak. I returned to Smyrna later and was there up until the evening of September 11, 1922, on which date the city was set on fire by the army of Mustapha Khemal, and a large part of its population done to death, and I witnessed the development of that Dantesque tragedy, which possesses few, if any parallels in the history of the world.
One object of writing this book is to make the truth known concerning the very significant events and to throw the light on an important period during which colossal crimes have been committed against the human race, with Christianity losing ground in Europe and America as well as in Africa and the Near East.
Another object is to give the church people of the United States the opportunity of deciding whether they wish to continue pouring millions of dollars, collected by contributions small and great, into Turkey for the purpose of supporting schools, which no longer permit the Bible to be read or Christ to be taught; whether, in fact, they are not doing more harm than good to the Christian cause and name, by sustaining institutions which have accepted such a compromise!
Another object is to show that the destruction of Smyrna was but the closing act in a consistent program of exterminating Christianity throughout the length and breadth of the old Byzantine Empire; the expatriation of an ancient Christian civilization, which in recent years had begun to take on growth and rejuvenation spiritually, largely as a result of the labors of American missionary teachers. Their admirable institutions, scattered all ever Turkey, which have cost the people of the united States between fifty million and eighty million dollars, have been, with some exceptions closed, or irreparably damaged, and their thousands of Christian teachers and pupils butchered or dispersed. This process of extermination was carried on over a considerable period of time, with fixed purpose, with system, and with painstaking minute details; and it was accomplished with unspeakable cruelties, causing the destruction of a greater number of human beings than have suffered in any similar persecution since the coming of Christ.
I have been cognizant of what was going on for a number of years and when I came back to America after the Smyrna tragedy and saw the prosperous people crowded in their snug warm churches, I could hardly restrain myself from rising to my feet and shouting: “For every convert that you make here, a Christian throat is being cut over there; while your creed is losing ground in Europe and America, Mohammed is forging ahead in Africa and the Near East with torch and scimitar.”
Another reason is to call attention to the general hardening of human hearts that seems to have developed since the days of Gladstone—a less exalted and more shifty attitude of mind. This is partly due to the fact that men’s sensibilities have been blunted by the Great War, and is also in large measure a result of that materialism which is engulfing our entire civilization.