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Emet m'Tsiyon

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Armenian Genocide: The German Role in It as Seen by Eitan Belkind & Aaron Aaronsohn

Writing from neutral Denmark in 1916 during WW I to Judge Julian Mack, a prominent American Zionist, Aaron Aaronsohn stated:
Did I not in private talks and public lectures [in the USA before WW I], warn against the German danger?
[Shmuel Katz, The Aaronsohn Saga (Jerusalem: Gefen 2007), p 73]
Aaronsohn understood that Germany [and Austria-Hungary] were making possible the Armenian massacres, which he feared would eventually be extended to the Jews. Indeed, recent research has shown how deeply involved German forces were in the massacres. But Aaronsohn was aware of German collaboration in the Ottoman Empire's genocide of the Armenians as it was happening. He submitted a report to the British entitled Pro-Armenia. Here he referred to Sarah Aaronsohn's eyewitness experiences of the massacres. His report or memorandum was distributed by the British among their officials who were involved in the war with the Ottoman Empire and with the Middle East. But curiously, the British left out two passages:
1-- Aaronsohn's criticism of the Germans for not pressuring the Ottoman government to stop the massacres; and
2-- his forecasts that the Ottoman state might do the same to other Christian subject peoples in the empire as well as to the Jews. [S Katz, p119]
Ronald Florence's account, Lawrence and Aaronsohn (New York: Viking 2007), agrees with Katz's account of Aaronsohn's attitude towards the Germans and German collaboration with the Ottoman state in the genocide. Katz is well known for his excellent, extensive biography of Ze'ev Jabotinsky. However, before writing about stirring events Katz was active in the Jewish nationalist Zionist movement led by Jabotinsky up until 1940, when he died, and later by Menahem Begin. Katz was part of the high command of the Irgun Tsva'i Le'umi, National Military Organization, an underground body that fought the British and drove them out of Israel, at least out of that part of the Land of Israel that became the State of Israel in the 1947-1949 War of Independence.

It is not clear why those two passages were omitted from the distributed version of Aaronsohn's report by British officials. But Aaronsohn clearly feared the extension of the Armenian genocide to the Jews. The expulsion of 9,000 Jews from homes in Jaffa and Tel Aviv in 1917 only confirmed this fear. Both Katz' and Florence's books make clear that the Jews in the Land of Israel at the time lived in fear. It was a fear shared by Eitan Belkind, whose eyewitness account of the genocide we have been quoting in instalments on Emet m'Tsiyon. This fear was the prime reason for formation of the NILI underground.

We now go on to the last instalment of passages from Belkind's book about the Armenian genocide. This passage shows how Belkind too saw the German attitude towards the genocide.
I sent a letter to my niece, Tsilya,who was a student in Berlin. . . . my letter [was] sent by German military mail, where I described everything that had happened to the Armenians.I got my letter back with a request never to write to her about such things again, to beware of the German military mail, because my letters might get opened by censors. , , ,
In Deir ez-Zor, I stayed with the pharmacist Arto, who now had five Armenian wives whom he married so as to save their lives. He told me that about 30 Armenian women were working in the military hospital. This had been Doctor Bekhor's way of rescuing them.
I must mention that all the time I was in Aram-Naharayim, I was unable to eat the splendid fish from the Euphrates, which I liked very much, remembering that those fish had fed off the corpses of murdered Armenians, including young children. . . .
While still in Damascus. . . I gave my records about the Armenian massacres to Yosef Lishansky.
When we returned [to the agricultural] testing station [in Atlit, Israel, near Zikhron Ya`aqov], I stayed with Sarah [Aaronsohn, sister of Aaron]. She told me that my records of Armenian massacres, which she had sent to Egypt [to the British], had made a great impression.
In my trips in the south of Syria and Iraq I saw with my own eyes the extermination of the Armenian nation. I watched the atrocious murders and saw children's heads cut off and watched the burning of innocent people whose only wrongdoing was to be Armenian. . . .
On the advice of the Germans, the Turks perpetrated brutal massacres of the Armenians by the hands of the Circassian Muslim fanatics.
Eitan Belkind's book, That's How It Was, the Story of a Member of Nili (Tel Aviv: 1977),
[ כך זה היה : סיפורו של איש ניל''י [תל אביב: משרד הבטחון 1977]

Aaronsohn seems to have been prophetic about the coming Holocaust in his remarks about the Germans.
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Coming: More on Obama the war candidate -- his mask drops with a loud bang, More on the anti-Jewish racism of the "Peace Process," Jews in Jerusalem, Hebron, the Land of Israel, archeological updates, peace follies, propaganda, etc.

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