The content of this book is a time window into WWI Era when tragedy has struck not only the Armenian but also the Greek, Nestorian and Syrian Peoples for their Christian belief. Millions have perished at the hands of Ottoman Turks and their proxies, Kurd mercenaries. It is estimated that between 3.5 Million people have lost their lives during this era. These events are considered to be the first Holocaust of the 20th Century.
"Is it easy to kill, to shed blood?" Hakim asked.
"There is nothing to it, nothing at all. After the first kill, all the others are."
Hakim interrupted him nervously,
"I have robbed, but I have never killed, not even a sheep."
"You will," the Chieftain said.
"I will have to murder?" Hakim questioned.
"To kill Armenians is not murder. It is legalized execution. We Kurds are not guilty of murdering the Giaourji. We are merely the instruments performing a service. We do not slay, we execute. Is the knife that stabs the life out of a sheep guilty of murder? Enough nonsense! Now go and pass the word to our men of what we are supposed to engage in by Executive Permission: Kill, Kill, and Kill!"
Hakim stood up for a second then sat down again.
"How will I know a Turk from an Armenian, hah? They all dress alike..." Hakim insisted.
"Pull their pants down; a Christian is never circumcised."
It is our hope that such tragedies can be prevented if we strive to raise the awareness of all Peoples on Earth no matter their religious belief... Amen!
All truth passes through three stages:
First it is ridiculed; second, it is violently opposed; and third, it is accepted as self-evident."
Arthur Schopenhauer (1778-1860)
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ONE NATION UNDER SEIGE
A World War One Era True Story of Survival and Valor
By WILLIAM P. CHAD
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 William P. Chad
All rights reserved.
Before the Storm
There is a wide cycloid terrain in Central Asia Minor, Northeast of Malatia: the provincial Capital of Mamouret-ul-Aziz, where the Tokma River winds and twists its way through the fertile Büyük Vadi before meeting the greater Euphrates River. This Big Valley is surrounded by a great breast of hills and rock-ribbed mountains from whose Canyon's small streams flow down to meet the bed of the Tokma Su. Along the banks of its tributaries, Kurdish hamlets survived the change of seasons. There are groves of apricot trees and white mulberry orchards. The leaves of the mulberry trees are fed to the silkworms and its fruit dried into raisins then fermented to distill the forbidden liqueur, Raki. There are wheat fields and chickpea plots that stretch across The Vadi's floor like a patched quilt of varied greens and golden grains. Its plantations of grapevines give a special pride to their owners. The ruby-red grapes are as famous throughout the land for the moist raisins they form into, as are the sour-sweet dried mesh-mesh fruits, which have the taste of the earth and sun baked into them.
The days are monotonous and slowly moving for most of the natives. Each person is a duplicate of its parents, each house a hatchery in the boredom of uncertainty and fear of change. Children are born but many of them are dying at an early age. Some are crippled and others are deprived of sight by a myriad of diseases for which there is no adequate medical aid.
The seasons are unreasonably difficult but beautiful. When the rains come down from high skies above bringing in the much needed water, they tell stories of far-away lands before reaching the Büyük Vadi. Such water may have caressed the leaves of the palm trees of Syria after catching the sunrays in the arches that span between the clouds moving away from The Valleys of Lebanon. It could have been carried along by the gulf-stream near the shores of Arabia only to be turned into a crystal of ice onto the slopes of the Caucasus Mountains. It may have hovered over the streets of Constantinople forming a part of its murky fog, and glistened on the young grass blades of April in Grecian fields. Having sailed up to the heavens above, it could have been part of the cloud mountain echoing with thunder. At the close of long seasons of still weather, it can have hung in fleecy veils many miles above the Earth then descend many times over in showers to refresh the Earth; it sparkled and it bubbled in mossy fountains in the country, a post prelude to Spring when the meadows and fields are lush with the deep green of planted grains and the breezes are laden with a thousand invigorating ambrosial fragrances. A multitude of flower scents are fanned by the air currents into The City from the orchards below, in the foothills. Peasants sit in the shade of fig trees, on doorsteps or in courtyards, legs crossed under their limbs, arms folded across the chest, waiting for the Geneses of things to come.
The summers are radically hot and the Anatolian sun sears the Earth. Autumn paints The Vadi with muted browns and gold like ormolu. The curving hills are checkered with soft tan, coral pink, and the infernal bronze of dried grasses.
Dew points appear and disappear and before long a cold chill stirs the air. The caustic clouds of winter freeze the soil shortly thereafter. The frolicking white season begins with its dervish winds. They whirl down from The Steppes and The Highlands into The Valleys. Creased with pleats of white, etched against the sky, the mountains stand majestic and silent in their new frocks of deciduous snow, while here and there a huge black boulder seems to have ripped through the glossy satin surface, like a grotesque ornament ...
It was the Fifth Year in the reign of Mohammed the Fifth, Reshad, Sultan of Turkey, who ascended the throne on April 27, 1909, after Abdul Hamid, the Red Sultan, was deposed by the Young Turks. It was, also, the Tenth Month of the Christian Calendar of 1913.
An early winter tipi has dropped snow over the housetops and into the quaint narrow streets of Malatia. The snow drifted down upon The Courtyards and walled gardens. The little ponds and pools even the rivers turned their surfaces into ice. The mummified trees stood against the garden walls with their swaddling flakes of loosely packed snow. The October wind came down hard from the nearby mountains into The City and the snow swiveled around in eddies creeping inside through the doors that hung loosely in their hinges. The mud-brick homes had their narrow stone barred windows set high, facing the streets with intricate lattices, which effectually prevented anyone on the street from looking in if tall enough to glance inside. The windows opening into The Courtyards and gardens were set low and they did not fit in perfectly. The wind sang its asthmatic song through the cracks of the apertures and the cold air whistled in its tiresome song while the early morning stars, specks of pulsating light, stood with bravado upon the still dark but slowly fading away clear night sky, until sunlight consumed their luminous bodies into nothingness.
In the distance, from the balcony of the minaret, one could hear the Muezzin chanting the Ezon-sharki, the call to Morning Prayer,
"Allah-il-Allahu, Allah-il-Allahu, Allah-il-Allahu" ...
His clear melody of veneration went out over the still inert city in a soul-stirring, provocative cadence.
"I witness that there is no other God but Allah!
I witness that Mohammed is His prophet.
Come to prayer. Come to prayer.
Come to the house of praise.
Allah is Almighty. Allah is Almighty.
There is no God but Allah" ...
In the Armenian Quarters of The City, whose Christian Ancestors had inhabited Malatia long before the hordes of Turks invaded Asia Minor in the 11th Century A.D., Sheshoon Nana Chaderjian was holding her newborn grandson while the mother of the unnamed child slept the sleep of exhaustion. His father, Garabet, sat on the floor beside the bed of his wife, Makroohi, with the devoted concern of a novice husband coupled with mixed emotions. It had been a difficult first birth and Makroohi yelled during the entire course of her labor,
"Never again, never again, never again" ...
For a very passionate girl whose sensual appetite was not easily satisfied, he wondered,
"Never again what?"
Garabet became aware of the initial Ezon of the day, an indication that he should be on his way to the place of his employment. Nearly an hour walk, he had to thread through the inner city and a labyrinth of narrow streets with endless flat-roofed parapets of white washed fronts and heavily grilled windows. He then had to cross the North Bridge over the Kirk Gozi, the main tributary of the Tokma Su bordering the Kishla. From there, it was a brisk walk up an incline between the estates of the Malatia's Senator, Hashim Bey, and its Mutasarief, Nader Bey, before reaching his destination, the Christian Mission School for the handicapped. The school, supported by The Mission Board of the Lutheran Church of Germany, was meant to be a House of Mercy by its founder, Herr Pastor Ernst Cristoffel, who was reconstructing the original dilapidated buildings into a walled compound, has named it Bethesda. The place was once known as the Char Dag, and the name persists to this day in Malatia.
Garabet rose to his feet and put on his long, heavy black overcoat and his red fez. For the most part, the Armenians of Anatolia dressed as Turks did.
Sheshoon Nana's eyes followed her son's movements with disapproval.
"Today of all days, the day of your son's birth, must you go, my son?" she asked. "The day of your son's birth" ... she repeated as though afraid he has failed to hear her grumble because Garabet continued to get dressed.
"Dear Mother", he said softly. "Today and all days, I must go".
"Phoof! My son, such loyalty is better deserved elsewhere. What has it brought to you? More work, yes. What will it get you? Once again, more work. Appreciation, no! I, myself, have not seen it. It is not German to show appreciation."
She glanced at the child in her arms.
"Look," she added. "You wanted a boy and she gave you a son with so much difficulty. It was not the same with me. Your father did not leave me when you were born."
There was always concern in the scolding of his mother who has never failed to bring a pleasant smile to his usually somber face. Smoothing his mustache, he realized that he grew older although he seemed years younger than his age. He crossed the room toward his mother and smiled down at her. The youngest of her ten children, and her favorite, he meant the whole world to her. Her other nine children, had perished during one massacre or another in Sivas. There were some grandchildren still living, but she did not know where they were. She returned his smile, resignedly.
He took her face into his hands, kissed her gently on each eye and said to her,
"I must go, and you know it, Mama."
"So you must son, so you must!" she reproved.
Five little fingers reached up in their sleep and touched his hand. He looked at his son in his own mother's arms.
"Is the child all right?" he asked. "He doesn't cry much" ...
"He is asleep, my son, asleep. Children do not cry all the time. Sometimes they do it at night, but not always. It was a long trip he just ended today. He had to endure nine dangerous months of survival in the womb then cross over into this world of giants with his tiny feet, wow! I'll wager, someday, when he will have reason to shout, the world will stand still and listen to him."
Garabet straightened up.
"My son, I have a boy, I am a father. Herr Christoffel will be pleased," he said and lifting the collar of his coat up against his neck he left the room. When he was in the open passageway leading to the street exit be- tween the two apartments of the building, he heard the jarring voice of the baby ...
"He is a loud mouth," Garabet thought as he opened the door and walked out into the snow-carpeted byway. He pulled the door shut behind him. As he walked away he thought,
"Mother is right. That voice will echo beyond Malatia!" He smiled with delight. "That's my son, my boy."
Inside the Chaderjian flat, the child's demanding voice has awakened his mother. All the shushing and rocking done by his Grandmother, Sheshoon Nana, would not quail the sudden eruption of rebellion he expressed at having been thrust into a new world from his mother's amniotic cave.
Makroohi raised herself a little onto her pillow. She echoed her husband's comment,
"The baby has a loud voice, Sheshoon Nana. I have not been told what the child is?"
"It is a human," Sheshoon Nana teased.
"Sheshoon Nana!" She was used to her mother-in-law's occasional good-natured banter. "Is the baby a boy or a girl?"
Sheshoon Nana's large, youthful, pitch-black eyes, which Garabet has inherited, beamed with un-aging brilliance. She chuckled,
"It's a boy it's a boy it's a boy!" She moved to the bed and laid the child in his mother's outstretched arms.
Makroohi gave the boy her breast and instantly there was peace in the room. The maternal fear that there might be something wrong with the newborn has clouded Makroohi's face. She looked at her mother-in-law for assurance.
Sheshoon Nana noticed Makroohi's expression of concern. She asked,
"What is it, my child?"
"He has no hair!"
"I predict," she laughed, hiding her tooth-sparse mouth with her hand, "He'll have so much hair that we will name him Samson. Hair he will have, fear not." She moved toward the fireplace where some couscous was slowly cooking with its usual 'put-put' clatter.
Makroohi pressed the child gently against her body. She winced. There was some pain in her breast where the baby was feeding. His eyes were closed and his mouth instinctually worked itself, suckling. There was some pleasure in his feeding for her as well. She looked about and noticed that her husband was absent.
"Has Garabet gone to work?" she asked.
"Ahman, yes," the Grandmother answered poking the fire with a stick. "He left a few moments ago, hari-ef! I asked him not to leave, but he had to go."
"Yes, he had to go," Makroohi repeated to reassure Sheshoon Nana. "Your son is a good provider. If he did not work for the demanding German Missionary what else would he do? Work for a Turk? I, myself, would not like it."
There was a soft tapping at the door. Sheshoon Nana stopped stirring the porridge-like cereal, which she was preparing for their breakfast and went to the door. It was Pearlanteen, their immediate neighbor from across the hall and wife of their Landlord, Sarkish Elmarian. She whispered,
"Has the child come, Makroohi must have given birth by now?"
"Yes, yes, she did," the proud Old Lady whispered and opened the door wider to let her in. "It has come. Please come in. It is a boy!"
"A boyyy ..." Parlanteen cooed noisily as she advanced into the room. "I told Makroohi it would be a boy, I knew it. I knew it from the way she carried him, just like me a year ago when I had my Adoorshin. I knew it!" Her voice had a timbre when excited, which made it sound high-pitched and annoying.
"The way she carried him. A lot of difference that makes," Sheshoon Nana remarked.
"Haba! Don't you see it's a boy, as I said it would?"
The Old Lady evoked the sign of the cross. Even though her son was now a proselyte Protestant because Makroohi's father had been a Congregational Minister, Sheshoon Nana still adhered to her old habit retained from being raised in the Armenian Mother Church.
"God save us from volunteer soothsayers," she said. "Yet, you are right. We have a boy; yes we have one. He is Nanain's sonny boy, Son-in-Law to the King of Joy!"
Pearlanteen went directly to the boy's bed, leaned over and peered at the feeding baby.
"Makroohi, he looks just like you," she remarked.
"You think so?"
"I, myself, think so."
"Ahman, who knows?" Sheshoon Nana chided gently. This was her grandson they were talking about. "Even he may look like his father when he will have hair on his head."
"He doesn't have any hair," Pearlanteen gasped. "But my Adoorshin did, black like mine. He takes after my side of the family."
"I have been assured by a most knowing person, my son will have hair. And she should know for she had ten of her own. And they all had hair on their heads."
"This is true except for my granddaughter, Ardemis, who was born hairless," Sheshoon Nana confirmed. "They say that those of us who have fair-hair children are white Armenians of royal blood."
A sudden and loud knock at the outside door has startled them. They looked at each other in panic. None seemed to breath, none spoke. They listened intently. What now? They couldn't tell whether it was a friend asking admission or a foe such as an irate Turk, or a marauding Cheteh, a brigand that has come to rob them. They waited for a second knock. The only sound in the room one could hear was the crackling of the fire and the 'put-put' of the cooking porridge. Pearlanteen paled. Frightened, she could hear her heart's gallop. Even though it was her building, Makroohi made no effort to go to the gate.
"Who could be out there at this early hour," she asked.
No one answered her. Sheshoon Nana rose to her feet with some difficulty for she was of an age that made her joints stubborn to motion. A second knock was heard then a third followed. The Old Lady pulled a shawl over her shoulders and moved toward the front door. She opened the door slightly then she peered out with caution. It was a friend, the Danish Medical Missionary. She was known as the Chap-chalee for Schwester Oerts was never without her ornate shapka in this mid-Anatolian Moslem city, which was so stringent on Islamic traditions, where all women must cover their heads.
Jensine Oerts had learned to speak Armenian and Turkish with an accent. This helped her in dealing with the powerful customs and superstitions while offering Christian advice and medical aid.
"Paree-looss," the European said in Armenian. "Sheshoon Nana, may I come in?"
Pressing the snow behind the door against the wall with some difficulty, Sheshoon Nana opened it wider.
"Please do come in. What an honor!" She bobbed her head in consent. "Come in, we have a new baby born to my son this morning," she continued chattering while guiding the guest to their quarters.
In the meantime, Pearlanteen had taken the baby into her arms and was standing in the middle of the room making cooing sounds to him. His unfocused eyes shifted to Schwester Oerts who peered down at him like a curious child examining a nest of robin eggs. She asked,
"It is what?"
"It is a male child," Pearlanteen answered.
"Yes, Schwester Oerts, it is as I wished, a boy," Makroohi said.
"It is a healthy child," Schwester Oerts expressed a professional opinion, "and his name is ...?" she asked.
"It is not for me to decide without his father and Sheshoon Nana," Makroohi smiled. "It has been suggested that we might call him Samson; he has so much hair."
Excerpted from ONE NATION UNDER SEIGE by WILLIAM P. CHAD. Copyright © 2013 William P. Chad. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Acknowledgement: To Ruth.................... xi
Prologue: Mission Bethesda.................... xiii
Chapter I: Before the Storm.................... 1
Chapter II: To Be or Not To Be.................... 27
Chapter III: Angels of Death.................... 50
Chapter IV: Lucifer of Malatia.................... 76
Chapter V: Acts of God.................... 99
Chapter VI: Memories Have A Name.................... 133
Chapter VII: Choked to Death.................... 170
Chapter VIII: Once a Bey Always a Bey.................... 192
Chapter IX: Deutschland Über Alles.................... 219
Chapter X: End of War.................... 242
Chapter XI: After the Storm.................... 274
Chapter XII: Turmoil on Earth.................... 298
Chapter XIII: Danger Still Lurking Around.................... 324
Chapter XIV: Facing the Beast.................... 354
Chapter XV: Beware of Dogs.................... 382
Chapter XVI: Cities on Fire & Greeks on Death Marches.................... 401
Chapter XVII: In the Grips of Death.................... 429
Chapter XVIII: Mass Exodus & Karma in Action.................... 453
Chapter XIX: Once a Dog Always a Dog.................... 467
Chapter XX: Out of Turkey.................... 485
Epilogue: Road to Freedom.................... 501
Important Data.................... 503
Resources: External Links.................... 505
Foreign Words & Expressions.................... 507