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Chapter III The Intent And Scope Of The 'Story'

Lowry Heath W.*
The Story Behind Ambassador Morgenthau's Story

 !àåğ ="justify">CHAPTER III


The key questions with which the remainder of this study is concerned are these: how much of Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story which doesn’t originate from the ‘Diary’ or ‘Letters’ comes from the fertile journalistic imagination of Burton J. Hendrick, and how much of it was invented by Morgenthau in support of his aim of writing a sensational book damning the Turks and Germans and thereby stirring up support for the war among his fellow Americans? In the same vein, what was the nature of the input from U.S. Secretary of State Robert Lansing? That is, did he conffine himself to censoring potentially embarrassing diplomatic disclosures on the part of Morgenthau, or did he take an active role in attempting to blacken the reputations of Turks and Germans alike in keeping with his Presidential employer’s and the author’s stated aims? Were Morgenthau’s views of the disputes between Turks and Armenians shaped by his Armenian eyes and ears, namely Arshag K. Schmavonian and Hagop S. Andonian? Most importantly, what were Morgenthau’s real views of the Turkish leaders and German diplomats he dealt with during his tenure in Constantinople and how (and to the extent possible why) had these views been altered some two years later when Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story was written?

For the benefit of those unfamiliar with Morgenthau’s book, it may be necessary to set forth its basic themes, which are four in number, in summary form: 1) German -imperialistic motives led the naive Young Turk Government into the war; 2) The Young Turk leadership, in particular Talaat Bey and Enver Pasha, decided to use the cover of the war to once and for all Turkify’ the Ottoman Empire. To aid this objective they conceived and perpetrated a plot to exterminate the Ottoman Armenian population, whom they falsely accused of aiding and abetting their Russian enemy in wartime; 3) Henry Morgenthau was a lone voice tirelessly attempting to dissuade the evil Talaat and Enver from their nefarious scheme of destroying the Armenians; and, 4) Morgenthau’s efforts failed for the sole reason that the one man who could have persuaded the Turks to alter their action, the German Ambassador Baron Wangenheim, sat idly by and refused to speak on behalf of the helpless Armenians.

Morgenthau’s themes are given credibility by virtue of the fact that throughout his ‘Story,’ literally from beginning to end, his troika of villains, Wangenheim, Talaat and Enver, repeatedly condemn themselves with their own voices of his charges, i.e., over and over Morgenthau provides us first—person accounts, complete with quotation marks, of comments allegedly made by these individuals which buttress his contentions as to their roles. Indeed, the only crime that they did not openly confess to, if Morgenthau’s account is accepted, was that of ‘genocide,’ and that only because the term had not yet been coined.
The question we must ask is, did these alleged conversations actually occur in the manner described by Morgenthau/Hendrick? To answer this query we must compare a series of statements in the book with the parallel accounts provided in the ‘Diary,’ ‘Letters,’ and reports submitted by Morgenthau to the Secretary of State Lansing in Washington, D.C.

At the outset, one fact is indisputable: None of the statements given in quotation marks throughout the book, and purporting to be comments made by one or another Turkish or German official, are based on written records. There simply are no such statements recorded in any of the sources used in writing Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story. Stated differently, the use of such quoted statements is simply a literary convention adopted by Hendrick in telling Morgenthau’s ‘Story.’ Their purpose can only have been to make the words put into the mouths of the various players more believable. While this does not defacto establish that they were false, it does mean that we should subject them to far greater scrutiny than they have hitherto received.

* Author -
- The Story Behind Ambassador Morgenthau's Story
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ERAREN - Institute for Armenian Research

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