Soldiers preparing to receive General Gouraud, in Mersin, Cilicia, Syria (Now in Turkey), A 19 927 – 10 December 1919
Autochrome picture of French Senegalese soldiers standing to attention under an Armenian flag, in Cilicia, Turkey. Probably taken during the short-lived Armenian Autonomous Zone when the Allies were trying to set up a home for refugees and survivors of the Armenian Genocide
In the picture above are shown some of the children of the 4000 Armenian refugees now at Port Said. This remnant of a martyred nation fled from Turkish soldiers and hid among the rocks, waving a Red Cross, until rescued by the French. Below is a rescued Armenian family in camp at Port Said.
May 28 1919, Constantinople–The Ottoman Empire’s loss in the war opened the possibility that those responsible for the Armenian Genocide would be brought to justice. The highest-placed culprits, including Enver, Talaat, and Djemal Pasha, had fled to Germany in early November, but many remained. The new Ottoman government was eager to pin the blame on the Young Turks in an attempt to distance themselves from the regime that had brought them into the war and carried out the genocide. However, the separation between the old and new governments was not as wide as they claimed; two members of a committee organized to investigate the genocide had been implicated themselves.
The Allies had never truly made up their mind about how to deal with the war crimes of their enemies. The Peace Conference in Paris had recommended the creation of a High Court under the League of Nations that would try those involved, and the British largely proceeded on this basis. The French, and many in the British Foreign Office, were cooler to this idea and preferred that the Turks try their own. Nevertheless, the British were embarrassed by the fact that the Turkish government could clearly not be trusted to hold the trials themselves. On May 20, after mass demonstrations, 41 prisoners had been released, and many others had conveniently escaped. Further demonstrations threatened to storm the prison and release the remaining captives. To keep them out of reach of the Turkish government and people, the British sent the remaining prisoners to Malta on May 28.
May 14 1919, Paris–The Allies were well aware of the Armenian genocide, from reports of both survivors and neutral observers, and there was strong public support for the Armenian cause in the Allied countries. Although the Armenians had secured their independence the previous year at Sardarabad, they still faced threats from the Soviets to the north and the Turks still occupied large amounts of territory that had had considerable Armenian populations before the genocide. The Armenians recognized they needed outside protection, especially now that their usual patron, the Russians, could no longer be relied upon.
In late February, an Armenian delegation to Paris asked for recognition, large territorial concessions from Turkey, and protection under the United States. On May 14, Wilson agreed that the United States would take on Armenia as a mandate under the League of Nations. The proposed area was huge, stretching as far as the Mediterranean (and thus running into French claims in the area, though Clemenceau did not object). This was a promise that Wilson must have known he could not fulfill; he had even previously told the Supreme Council that “he could think of nothing the people of the United States would be less inclined to accept than military responsibility in Asia.” The Senate, under Republican control, would certainly not agree to an American mandate over territories of a power they had never been at war with.
An Armenian militiaman, or fedayi. The Ottoman Empire killed over one million people during the Armenian genocide, massacring men and sending women and children to starve in the desert. However many Armenians took up arms and fought back against Ottoman persecution, such as this militiaman or the 150,000 Armenians who volunteered with the Russian army.