The Lions of Marash: Personal Experiences with American Near East Relief, 1919-1922
The Lions of Marash is an eye-witness account by an American Near East Relief official of the tragic events which resulted in the annihilation of the Armenian population of Marash, in Central Anatolia, following World War I.
On 10 February 1920, the French garrison at Marash withdrew abruptly under cover of darkness, thus abandoning more than twenty thousand Armenians to the Turkish Nationalist forces. The French pullout caused considerable embarrassment in Paris and roused a storm of angry protest in England and the United States, but for the Armenians of Marash, and all of Cilicia, it led to renewed massacre and to final exodus.
American philanthropy administered through Near East Relief, successor organization to the American Committee for Relief in the Near East, saved thousands of starving Armenian women and children from Turkish marauders. Workshops and other rehabilitative establishments built by ACRNE and NER slightly mitigated the bitter disappointments arising from the American refusal to ensure the Armenian people a collective future by accepting a protective mandate over the independent Armenian state that had been sanctioned by the Paris Peace Conference. In Cilicia NER worked among the repatriates for four years and, after the total Armenian exodus in 1922, attempted to assist the refugee throngs to resettle in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and other lands of the Middle East.
Among the scores of men and women who responded to the ACRNE call for volunteers in 1919 was Stanley E. Kerr, then an officer in the United States Army Sanitary Corps. First serving at Aleppo in a multiplicity of positions, including clinical biochemist, and photographer, Kerr transferred in the autumn of 1919 to Marash, where he took charge of American relief operations after the French withdrawal. In view of the fact that many Turks regarded the Americans as collaborators with the French and Armenians, it was at no small risk that Kerr and his courageous colleagues stayed at their posts to help the thousands of Armenians whom the French had deserted. Indeed, the uncertainties of a hostage-like existence did not end until Kerr departed for Beirut with the last caravan of Armenian orphans in 1922.
Now, fifty years after leaving Cilicia, Dr. Kerr presents his account of the happenings of Marash. Although his personal experiences form the basis for narrative, the author has also utilized the studies and memoirs of French officers, and priests, Turkish military historians, and Armenian survivors, particularly prominent Protestant and Catholic spokesmen.
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Marash on 20 January 1920
War on the Eastern Front
Resistance at Zeitun and Fundijak
Deportation from Marash
Wartime Relief Work in Aleppo
The Occupation of Cilicia
Unrest in Syria
Devastation and Massacre
Places of Defense and Refuge
Mediation a Military Reversal
Betrayal of a Trust
Victory for the Nationalists
Restoration of Order
PART TWO THE MARASH REBELLION
The French Occupation of Marash
Preparations for Conflict
Assignment to Marash
Harassment of the French
Disaster at Christmas
The Marash Rebellion
Events in the Mission Compound
The Sheikhs Quarter
MuslimChristian Encounters 281
The End of Zeitun
Life under the Nationalist Regime
The Final Exodus
Aintab Aleppo already American Anatolia Arab armed Armenians army asked attack barracks began British brought buildings called camp Captain carried Christian Church Cilicia Colonel column commander compound decided detachment East escaped escort feared February fighting finally fire flag forces four French gendarmes German girls given guard hands hill homes hospital hundred January Kherlakian killed knew Kurds later leaders learned leave legionnaires letter Lieutenant living Major Marash March massacre military Miss mission monastery morning moved Muslim Mustafa mutasarrif Nationalist night Normand occupied officer orphanage Ottoman Pasha passed population prepared protection quarter reached refugees Relief remained replied reported rifle road Saint sent shot soldiers street supplies taken thousand took troops Turkish Turks turned Urfa village wall Wilson withdrawal women wounded young Zeitun