Armenian Genocide – German Ambassador von Wangenheim
Ambassador Von Wangenheim
Another outstanding and historic, most valuable German document for my collection! This is the passport of Baron von Wangenheim, German Ambassador in Constantinople / Ottoman Empire. Wangenheim was a witness to the Armenian Genocide, where an estimated 1.5 million people were killed.
Hans Freiherr von Wangenheim (1859–1915) – German diplomat. Ambassador Extraordinary to Mexico. German Minister at Athens, 1909-12. During World War I, from 1912 to October 25, 1915, was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. The displayed passport was also used for his return to Constantinople; the last visa entry was 14 September 1915. Von Wangenheim died just four weeks later on 25 October 1915 in Constantinople. Ambassador Von Wangenheim
WANGENHEIM POISONED, A ROME RUMOR SAYS; Sudden Death of German Ambassador at Constantinople Still a Mystery. Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES, Oct 27, 1915
In 1914, after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Ismael Enver, the Ottoman General Minister of War, asked if an alliance with Germany could happen. Andrew Mango continues with history at this time in his book Ataturk. Here he describes the jumbled alliance structure that existed that would threaten the current relationship between Germany and the Ottoman Empire. For instance, Germany had already claimed war against Russia, and it had an alliance with Austria-Hungary. This agreement with the Ottoman Empire would allow Germany to take a leadership role in alliance-making before World War I. It would also force Russia and Serbia to alliance-make to condemn the assassination.
His passport photo has almost the size of a postcard!
A witness of the Armenian Genocide
As allies during the war, the Imperial German mission in the Ottoman Empire included both military and civilian components. Germany had brokered a deal with the Sublime Porte to commission the building of a railroad stretching from Berlin to the Middle East, called the Baghdad Railway. Germany’s diplomatic mission at the beginning of 1915 was led by Ambassador Hans Freiherr von Wangenheim (who was later succeeded by Count Paul Wolff Metternich following his death in 1915). Like Morgenthau, von Wangenheim began to receive many disturbing messages from consul officials around the Ottoman Empire detailing the massacre of Armenians. From the province of Adana, Consul Eugene Buge reported that the CUP chief had sworn to kill and massacre any Armenians who survived the deportation marches. In June 1915, von Wangenheim sent a cable to Berlin reporting that Talat had admitted that the deportations were not “being carried out because of ‘military considerations alone’.” One month later, he concluded that there “no longer was a doubt that the Porte was trying to exterminate the Armenian race in the Turkish Empire.”
Another notable figure in the German military camp was Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter, who documented various massacres of Armenians. He sent fifteen reports regarding “deportations and mass killings” to the German chancellery. His final report noted that fewer than 100,000 Armenians were left alive in the Ottoman Empire: the rest having been exterminated (German: ausgerottet). Scheubner-Richter also detailed the methods of the Ottoman government, noting its use of the Special Organization and other bureaucratized instruments of genocide.
The Germans also witnessed the way Armenians were burned, according to Israeli historian Bat Ye’ or, who writes: “The Germans, allies of the Turks in the First World War … saw how civil populations were shut up in churches and burned, or gathered en masse in camps, tortured to death, and reduced to ashes”. German officers stationed in eastern Turkey disputed the government’s assertion that Armenian revolts had broken out, suggesting that the areas were “quiet until the deportations began.” Other Germans openly supported the Ottoman policy against the Armenians. As Hans Humann, the German naval attache in Constantinople said to US Ambassador Henry Morgenthau:
I have lived in Turkey for the more substantial part of my life … and I know the Armenians. I also know that both Armenians and Turks cannot live together in this country. One of these races has got to go. And I don’t blame the Turks for what they are doing to the Armenians. I think that they are entirely justified. The weaker nation must succumb. The Armenians desire to dismember Turkey; they are against the Turks and the Germans in this war, and they, therefore, have no right to exist here.
In a genocide conference held in 2001, professor Wolfgang Wipperman of the Free University of Berlin introduced documents evidencing that the German High Command was aware of the mass killings at the time but chose not to interfere or speak out.
Further reading: Recently Discovered Telegram Reveals Evidence For Armenian Genocide
Ambassador Von Wangenheim
Presently reading Barbara Tuchman’s grandfather Henry Morgenthau’s fascinating autobiographical account of his time as neutral US ambassador to the Sublime Porte; wherein His excellency von Wangenheim’s last days in Constantinople loom large behind the sealed Dardanelles. A larger than life character whose ambition and diplomatic talent had an enormous long-term effect on the shape of history, at the outset of a war he did not live to see.
Unfortunately, it appears this passport photograph is the only picture of him. Thanks for writing this up and sharing this very rare and historic document.
Thank you Joel for your feedback which is well appreciated. Best Tom