by Robert Fisk
The Turks are preparing to smother the 100th anniversary of their Holocaust against the Christian Armenians of the Ottoman Empire in 1915.To other, earlier refugees. The Turks are preparing to smother the 100th anniversary of their Holocaust against the Christian Armenians of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 with commemorations of their victory over the Allies at Canakkale (Gallipoli) the same year. But each month brings yet further proof – in the testimony of Westerners – of what Turkey still officially denies: that the genocide of the Armenians was a fact of history. Now come the memoirs of Alec Glen, a British army doctor of the 1914-18 war – written privately for his sons, but published by his family – which record the further agony of the Armenians.
Entitled In the Front Line: A Doctor in War and Peace, Dr Glen’s account includes the fate of the Armenians of Caucasia as the Turks tried to spread their pan-Turkic rule to the east in 1918 – after the original massacre of one-and-a-half million Armenians three years earlier. Marching through north-western Iran towards Baku, Dr Glen writes of how his British-Indian force began to pass several thousand Armenian refugees in a day.
“It was an amazing and tragic sight … now and then we passed at a roadside a dying person, or one already dead and half-eaten by dogs and jackals… we lifted some of the younger ones who might recover on to the mules and carried them forward to the next village.
“Salisbury Craig [a fellow British doctor] told me later that he attended an old refugee in the road who, before he died, gave him a leather belt full of sovereigns, which he asked him to spend to help the refugees.”