Introduction of the Commission Report
Turkey-World Center of News Interest
Originally printed in Editor & Publisher, V.55, No. 27, 2nd Section, December 2, 1922
<a href="kncr.html">Go to the Commission Report</a>
<a href="postkc.htm">Go to Appendix of the Commission Report</a>
<A HREF="http://www.lib.byu.edu/~rdh/wwi/1918p.html">Return to Post-1918 Documents</a>
NB: A selection of audio recordings of Armenian laments and songs, held at the Library of Congress is linked here. Part of the Cowell Collection, the songs were sung by Vartan S. Shapazian and Joe Bedresian, and recorded by Sidney Robertson Cowell in Fowler, California on October 30, 1939, and form part of a group of field materials documenting Vartan S. Shapazian performing Armenian and Armeno-Turkish songs on October 30, 1939, collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell. These are in the 'Real Audio' format, and may be played online, or saved to file.
The group includes:
<A HREF="http://lcweb2.loc.gov/afc/afccc/audio/a426/a4266b2.ram">Derzor chollerenda</a> (Armenian exiles in the desert of Derzor):
<A HREF="http://lcweb2.loc.gov/afc/afccc/audio/a424/a4241a3.ram">Mountains of Erzeroum</a>; and
<A HREF="http://lcweb2.loc.gov/afc/afccc/audio/a424/a4241b1.ram">Turkish March</a> (Joe Bedresian, performer).
Turkey-World Center of News Interest
A preface to the publication of the King-Crane Commission Report, published in Editor & Publisher, 19
The Vital Significance of the Report That Follows
Facts are first. The world is askew today because facts have been concealed
or perverted. If in 1918-1919, the world had seen the international situation
stripped of all camouflage, with every secret treaty opened and every national
condition made clear, it would have insisted upon a totally different outcome
of events. Today's world tragedy is an illustration of the old teaching
that "Where there is no vision the people perish"; and of- the
later word, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."
One of the great suppressed documents of the peace-making period was
the comprehensive King-Crane Report upon conditions in Turkey. This was
the work of the official American Commission sent from Paris when the question
of mandates in Turkey was up before the "Big Four." It went out
with instructions to report the facts as it found them. The text makes clear
why the Report should have been rigorously concealed by a then spineless
State Department. Yet if it had been published promptly, as intended, it
would completely have altered the current of events in Turkey, and possibly
also have changed the whole American attitude toward post-war international
responsibilities. Certainly it would have freed us from a flood of unfounded
propaganda, and it might easily have saved the lives of possibly a million
persons needlessly sacrificed since the war.
There would have been no need of a Lausanne Conference, or of a Graeco-Turkish
war, or of a disruption of allied co-operation in the Near East, or of any
of the tragic and tremendous events there which now threaten the wreck of
civilization, if the King-Crane Report had been published.
Uncolored and authenticated and disseminated facts are more powerful
than any of the schemes of statesmen or conclusions of conferences.
Today EDITOR & PUBLISHER gives to the newspaper-makers of the world,
and to the general public, as a timely and essential source-book of facts-the
facts that have been most needed and least known-the full text of this long-suppressed,
much-discussed King-Crane Report.
The document is one that is needed by every editorial writer in the world;
every teacher or student of history; every clergyman and friend of missions
and education in the Levant; every person doing business in the Near East;
every member of Congress; every foreign office everywhere;-in short everybody
who, in a propaganda-ridded day, desires a body of uncolored and unquestioned
facts concerning the most important present international issue.
Not all the conclusions of the report are today applicable. Alas, the
consequences it predicted have come to pass in many respects. The vindication
of the value of the findings lies in the calamities which have since overtaken
the Near East. Nevertheless, there is a flood of light shed upon present
obscurities by this document.
It tactfully but fearlessly reveals the clashing ambitions of the allies
It exposes the evils of the secret treaties.
It makes clear the glaring contrast between the solemn pledges of the
European nations to the peoples of the Near East and their imperialistic
It conservatively portrays the passion of these ancient peoples for America,
and their confidence in her integrity, good will and unselfishness.
It, shows plainly why America should not have taken a mandate for Armenia
It boldly lays down a project for a Pan-Turkish mandate in three groups,
for America; which the allies, who wanted Turkish loot, by no means favored;
and which time and events have now made impracticable.
It sets forth, so that even a wayfaring man may not err, the basic conditions
of the Near East.
It prenounces the doom of Zionism.
It portrays an incredible co-operation between Moslems and Christians,
in pursuit of the goal of "self-determination."
It shows, with uncanny prescience, the effect of the Smyrna massacres
by the Greeks upon the reawakening of the Turks.
It proves the untenability of European claims upon Turkish territory.
Likewise it makes plain the unfitness of the old Ottoman Empire to rule
or to continue to live.
It nullifies the censorship and propaganda which have veiled the facts
concerning the Near East from the eyes of the world.
This report, in the highest sense, is a journalistic triumph. For it
shows how a small group of American reporters, or investigators, took an
assignment to find out the bed-rock facts upon one of the most clouded and
intricate international situations in the world. They went about their task
with all the canniness, caution and courage of good correspondents. Moreover,
they not only fearlessly discovered the facts and clearly set them forth,
but they also followed them to their conclusions.
Ignorance, bias and selfish interests, aided by their trusty handmaidens,
censorship and propaganda, had brought the Paris Peace Conference to a standstill
upon the disposition of Turkey. There was no agreement upon the fundamental
facts of the case.
Thereupon President Wilson proposed that a joint allied Commission should
be sent to Turkey to ascertain the true conditions, and especially the desires
of the peoples concerned, respecting the nations which should become mandatories,
as was the oft-expressed intent of the peacemakers. This, be it remembered,
was in the days when the principle of "self-determination" and
the other allied war aims still retained a degree of sanctity. So obviously
right and reasonable was President Wilson's suggestion, that the other three
members of the "Big Four" agreed "in principle."
"In principle" is a venerable and invaluable diplomatic phrase,
in this case as so often, it meant the opposite of "in practice."
For the European nations shilly-shallied for a time and then refused to
send out commissions. Apparently, the facts were the last things that were
desired in some quarters. So the American Commissioners of the International
Commission on Mandates in Turkey went alone, fully accredited.
It cannot too often or too strongly be said that the King-Crane Report
supersedes all the views and counsel of speakers and writers who are "Near
Eastern experts." Most of the latter, from entirely honorable motives,
are partisans of one or more of the many sides of this question which today
has the world by the throat.
America is full of propaganda that is perilous. For example, a large
body of churchmen, who are apparently quite ignorant of the facts involved
in recent events in Anatolia, and who have never heard of atrocities by
Greeks, such as are on official record, are clamoring that America send
an army and a navy to the Mediterranean to do something or other to the
Turks! This is, of course, sheer hysteria, which will break on the granite
courage and knowledge and good sense of Secretary of State Hughes; but it
is nevertheless an awesome spectacle of the possibility of how an uninformed
democracy might precipitate the gravest consequences.
There are many eloquent speakers, and writers with moving pens, who are
having an extraordinary effect upon the public opinion of America today,
in this pivotal matter of the Near East. Some of them are pro-Turk, some
are pro-Greek; many are pro-Armenian; many are pro-Zionist, a few are pro-Syrian,
pro-Bulgarian, pro-Arab, or pro-Egyptian. Others, in great number, are pro-British,
pro-French, pro-Italian or pro-German. Most of them function from sincere
conviction: only a few are mere hirelings.
It is a service of highest value that EDITOR & PUBLISHER does in
discrediting and largely nullifying these by presenting the cold, matured
facts in the case, as fully gathered and fearlessly stated by a responsible,
unbiased American group of investigators.
If the leaders of American thought read this document through carefully,
and then file it for future reference, the propagandist may be silenced.
And it is the plain duty of the press to do exactly this thing. Try as they
may, newspapers cannot always escape the taint of foreign propaganda in
news received from abroad. But at least they may combat propaganda at home.
The peace of the world. and the safety of our country, require that foreign
propaganda be dealt with vigorously by men whose sanity is stronger than
Perhaps the post-war cleavage between the policies of the Allies and
of the United States, and the basis for the King-Crane Commission, were
never more succinctly explained than by President Wilson's first allusion
in Paris to the network of secret treaties that there were revealed:
"As the United States of America were not bound by any of the secret
treaties in question, they are quite ready to approve a settlement on the
basis of facts."
Secret treaties largely caused the war; they certainly prolonged it;
and . they wrecked the peace. Out of secret treaties has grown that international
distrust which is probably the gravest factor in a world full of evil forces.
Secret treaties have made war-time allies present-day enemies. They have
begotten in America a lack of confidence in the nations of the Old World
that is the real reason for this country's holding aloof from international
obligations. If it were not for the secret treaties, disclosed at Paris,
there would have been a different kind of League of Nations, and the United
States would have been in it. There is simply no measuring the harm that
has been done to humanity by the perpetuation of this first characteristic
of the old diplomacy.
Most of these secret treaties concern Turkey, the choicest bit of war
loot for the victors. The first of the lot had to do with Constantinople,
and the last- so far as the world knows-dealt with Mosul and its oil, and
this treaty was drawn up by the British and French in February, 1919, a
month after the Peace conference, with its pledge of "open covenants,
openly arrived at," had formally opened. Any honest man may be excused
for the use of strong language in characterizing this impenitent diplomacy
which stultified the soldier dead and the aims for which they died.
Summarized, the principal secret treaties among the allies, or sub-divisions
of the allies, are given below. They must be borne in mind if the King-Crane
report is to be understood.
Ever since the days of Peter the Great, Russia had coveted Constantinople,
so, in March, 1915, by a series of three notes exchanged between Russia,
France and Great Britain, Constantinople was promised to Russia, after the
allies had won the war. The other allies were to have compensations elsewhere
in Turkey, and Britain was also to be given the "neutral zone"
in Persia, with its rich petroleum perquisites This treaty also provided
for independent rule of the Moslem holy cities, and, if possible, the caliphate
was to be taken away from the Turks. By it Britain abandoned her historic
policy of nursing "The Sick Man of Europe." When the Revolutionists
came into power in Russia they renounced this treaty and made a battle-cry
of the phrase, "No annexations and no contributions (indemnities)."
Most sordid and cynical and shameless of all the secret treaties, and
described by Mr. Balfour at one of the Peace Conference sessions in a cynical
and sardonic speech that is perhaps unmatched in the annals of friendly
international negotiations, was "The Treaty of London," .signed
in April, 1915. This was Italy's price for entering the war. In addition
to giving Italy amazing stretches of territory within the Austrian Empire,
and the best port in Albania, and making the Adriatic an Italian lake, plus
territorial extensions in Africa, the treaty awarded the Italians the Dodecanese
Islands in the Aegean, off the shore of Turkey, and territory in Turkey
equal to what Britain or France would get! Incidentally, the Italians demanded
a share of the German indemnity, and a loan from Great Britain of £50,000,000.
By a later secret treaty in April, 1917, Italy was promised a still larger
zone in Anatolia, and Smyrna also, if the Russians agreed. Since revolutionary
Russia was about to denounce secret treaties it never approved. Consequently,
Paris had heated discussions as to Italian rights in Smyrna; and the squabble
ended in the Greek expedition of May 15, 1919, to circumvent the Italians.
It was this adventure, with its attendant excesses, which called into existence
the Turkish Nationalist movement, which has since become victorious over
the Christian powers. If there had been no secret treaties there would be
no Near Eastern crisis today.
As early as March, 1916, what is known as the Sazanof-Paleologue Treaty
between Russia and France, gave to Russia the land lying between Persia
and the Black Sea. It extended France's prospective territory in Turkey
over a large section of Asia Minor and Syria clear to the Tigris River.
Two months later came the famous and troublesome "Sykes-Picot Agreement,"
between France and Great Britain. By this secret treaty, France was to have
Syria down as far as the famous Crusader port of Acre. Great Britain was
to have Haifa, potentially the best port on the coast. She was also to receive
Lower Mesopotamia. The cities of Damascus, Homs and Aleppo were to go to
some future "Arab State -and already King Hussein, of the Hejaz, was
on Great Britain's payroll! Explicitly, no other nation-meaning Italy-was
to be allowed any rights in the Arabic-speaking parts of the Ottoman Empire.
From the day of its signing until now this agreement has been smeared
with oil, and other forms of commercialism and imperialistic exploitation,
as the reader of the King-Crane Report has seen. One of the rawest sessions
of the plenipotentiaries at Paris was held in Lloyd George's apartment on
March 20. It was but of this acrimonious discussion that there was born
President Wilson's suggestion for the sending of a commission of inquiry
to Turkey, which resulted in the King-Crane Report. He said.[NOTE:
See "The Turkish Empire as Booty," which is Chapter Four of Volume
One of Ray Stannard Baker's "Woodrow Wilson and World Set.]
"The point of view of the United States was . . . indifferent to
the claims both of Great Britain and France over peoples, unless those peoples
wanted them. One of the fundamental principles to which the United States
adhered was the consent of the governed
The present controversy
broadened into a case affecting the peace of the whole world....
He would send it (the Commission) with carte blanche to tell the facts as
they found them."
So against the old diplomacy of secret treaties and intrigues, America
opposed the basic journalistic principle of the facts, fully and fearlessly
Looking backward, it now seems rather guileless of President Wilson and
America and the little nations to have assumed that the facts of international
conditions should determine conclusions. We today understand that the secret
treaties, and not the war aims that fired the hearts of the allied soldiers,
and not the ascertained actualities, fixed the outcome of negotiations.
The poison of those bargains and intrigues so vitiated the atmosphere at
Paris that all possibility of true faith disappeared. Distrust supplanted
confidence and good will.
America's ignorance of the secret treaties, which nullified all of our
guiding principles in carrying on the war, was shared by the peoples of
the allied nations.
Even when the Bolsheviks made public these documents which rubbed off
the glamor of allied idealism, the world gave no real heed. Trustful America
was least of all aware of the existence of these secret treaties: President
Wilson heard of them first at Paris.
That is why the Americans thought that a Commission to find out and report
the facts would be finally determinative. They could not escape from the
dominance of those ideals of self-determination" or "consent of
the governed" which had come down from Declaration of Independence
days. With a rude jolt our people learned, or will learn after reading the
King-Crane report, that the peoples released from Turkey's sway by the war
got what they did not want.
This fact-finding commission heard the voice of the little peoples clamoring
for American leadership and protection: such is the note that prevades the
dryest section of the report like an aroma: but their cry fell on deaf ears
Throughout the Orient, in thousands of cafes and caravansaries and conferences
of neighbor with neighbor, wonderment has been expressed by Turk, Greek,
Arab, Armenian, Jew, Syrian, and Druze, not to mention Europeans, as to
what has become of the American Mission and its report, which they all dreamed
would bring tranquillity and a new order to the troubled Near East. They
know the reality of the application of the secret treaties and the strife
they have caused; they do not understand the disappearance of the Great
Hope which the American Commission represented.
After all, the secret treaties, applied, have had their chance, and failed.
They have brought no boon to any one of the covetous European powers that
its own people would not gladly now have it surrender. The apparent gains
have proved to be only real losses and tragedy. Europe is hated today in
the East because her old discredited way prevailed after the armistice,
instead of the new way of the welfare of the peoples concerned. It needs
only a strong drive by the press of America, and by the liberal | press
of Europe, to make secret treaties forever outlaw and anathema.
Fancy suggests that perhaps the scimitar of the Turk has severed the
Gordian knot of diplomatic entanglements which could not be untied at Paris.
It may be that there is anew, in a greatly limited sense, an opportunity
for the application of certain of the fair, free, fact-based recommendations
of the King-Crane Commission.
The Report given herewith is its findings.. EDITOR & PUBLISHER presents
the entire document in full, omitting only the tables of contents, substituting
instead, where necessary, additional headlines that will indicate the nature
of the separate sections. Footnotes are added to bring the story up to date.
In addition to the King-Crane Report, this present publication contains
a Summary of the Treaty of Sèvres, the Balfour Declaration upon Zionism,
the Turkish Nationalist Pact, the Guarantee given the subject peoples of
Turkey by Great Britain and France, and such other documents as may shed
light upon the present world crisis around the eastern Mediterranean.
The report of the American Military Mission to Armenia, headed by Major
General James G. Harbord, now Chief of Staff of the U. S. Army, dealing
with its investigations in Turkey and the Caucasus in the fall of 1919,
cannot be published herewith, because of its length. It is available to
the public at the Government Printing Office as Senate Document No. 266,
and is indispensable to every one who would understand the Armenian situation
and America's possible relation thereto. These quotations fairly show the
conclusions of this Harbord report and their agreement with the findings
of the King-Crane Report:
"A plebiscite fairly taken would in all probability ask for an American
mandate throughout the Empire.* * * In its belief that the Armenian problem
is only to be solved by a mandatory which should include also Constantinople,
Anatolia, Turkish Armenia, and the Transcaucasus, the Mission has the concurrence
of many Americans whose views, by reason of long residence in the Near East,
are entitled to great weight. Such Americans are practically a unit in believing
that the problems of Armenia, Anatolia, Constantinople and Transcancasia
must be considered as an inseparable whole.
"No duty of modern times would be undertaken under so fierce a glare
of publicity. Such a mandate would hold the center of the international
stage with the spotlight from every foreign office and from every church
steeple in the world focussed upon it. No nation could afford to fail, or
to withdraw when once committed to this most serious and difficult problem
growing out of the great war. No nation incapable of united and nonpartisan
action for a long period should undertake it.
"We would again point out that if America accepts a mandate for
the region visited by this mission, it will undoubtedly do se from a strong
sense of international duty, and al the unanimous desire so expressed at
least of its colleagues in the League of Nations. Accepting this difficult
task without previously securing the assurance of conditions, would be fatal
of success. The United States should make its own conditions as a preliminary
to consideration of the subject-certainly before and not after acceptances,
for there are a multitude of interests that will conflict with what any
American would consider a proper administration of the country. Every possible
precaution against international complications should be taken in advance.
In our opinion there should be specific pledges in terms of formal agreements
with France and England, and definite approval from Germany and Russia of
the dispositions made of Turkey and Transcaucasia, and a pledge to respect
Turkey has been the acid test of the loyalty of the Allies to their plighted
faith. All the world knows what tragic consequences have befallen mankind
because Europe was not equal to the opportunity of the new day. At least
three governments have fallen in as many separate lands, and the legitimate
ambitions of no less than three oppressed nationalities have been thwarted,
because, as the report makes clear, the diplomats of Europe could not rise
to the level of their soldiers in France.
Whether also the wonderful new spirit and aspiration of the Eastern peoples,
called into life by the Allied war aims have been permanently dashed and
deadened, only events can tell. Certainly this report was penned at the
day of the opportunity of ages.
From a newspaper standpoint, the King-Crane Report may be criticised
for its failure to "play up" the sensational zeal for America
which it encountered everywhere. By cumulative facts and statistics it does
make plain that America is first in the hearts of the people of Bible lands.
Modesty and self-restraint doubtless kept it from attempting to tell a tale
that is really beyond America's understanding. "They little know of
America, who only America know." General Harbord puts the subject straightforwardly
in the conclusion of his report:
"Without visiting the Near East, it is not possible for an American
to realize even faintly, the respect, faith and affection with which our
Country is regarded throughout that region. Whether it is the world-wide
reputation which we enjoy for fair dealing, a tribute perhaps to the crusading
spirit which carried us into the Great War, not untinged with hope that
the same spirit may urge us into the solution of great problems growing
out of that conflict, or whether due to unselfish and impartial missionary
and educational influence exerted for a century, it is the one faith which
is held alike by Christian and Moslem, by Jew and Gentile, by prince and
peasant in the Near East. It is very gratifying to the pride of Americans
far from home. But it brings with it the heavy responsibility of deciding
great questions with a seriousness worthy of such faith. Burdens that might
be assumed on the appeal of such sentiment would have to be carried for
not less than a generation under circumstances so trying that we might easily
forfeit the faith of the world. If we refuse to assume it, for no matter
what reasons satisfactory to ourselves, we shall be considered by many millions
of people as having left unfinished the tack for which we entered the war,
and as having betrayed their hopes.
Although it is likened to a great journalistic investigation, the Report
differs from a newspaper story in that it masses at the beginning the apparently
uninteresting detailed data. These are, however, the essential foundation
for the tremendous generalizations that follow. We have omitted nothing
from the Report, however "dry" it may appear to a cursory glance.
Every line is as submitted, except that the tables of contents are left
out, and the detailed Syrian tabulations, which are covered by the summary.
The Commission's spelling of native names is followed, although in some
cases it departs from the common usage.
One further explanatory paragraph. Naturally, as is accounted for by the date of its production, this Report assumes that there would be erected by the Paris Conference an effective League of Nations, of which the United States would be a member. It all must be read in terms of what might have been; as well as for its bearing upon present conditions.
Frequent allusions, in dispatches from the Near East and from Lausanne,
to the "Turkish Nationalist Pact," have not made clear to the
American public the portentousness of Nationalist Turkey's "Declaration
of Independence," adopted by the Angora Assembly in January, 1920.
This is the document which the Turks declare is the irreducible minimum
of their claims at Lausanne:
"The Members of the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies recognize and affirm
that the independence of the State and the future of the Nation can be assured
by complete respect for the following principles, which represent the maximum
of sacrifice which can be undertaken in order to achieve a just and lasting
peace, and that the continued existence of a stable Ottoman Sultanate and
society is impossible outside of the said principles:
"First Article.-Inasmuch as it is necessary that the destinies of
the portions of the Turkish Empire which are populated exclusively by an
Arab majority, and which on the conclusion of the armistice of the 30th
of October, 1918, were in the occupation of enemy forces, should be determined
in accordance with the votes which shall be freely given by the inhabitants,
whole of those parts whether within or outside the said armistice-line,
which are inhabited by an Ottoman Moslem majority, united in religion, m
race and in aim, imbued with sentiments of mutual respect for each other
and of sacrifice, and wholly respectful of each other's racial rights and
surrounding conditions, form a whole which does not admit of division for
any reason in truth or in ordinance.
"Second Article.-We accept that, in the case of the three Sanjaks
which united themselves by a .general vote to the mother country when they
first were free, recourse should again be had, if necessary to a free popular
"Third Article.-The determination of the juridical status of Western
Thrace also, which has been made dependent on the Turkish peace, must be
effected in accordance with the votes which shall be given by the inhabitants
in complete freedom.
"Fourth Article.-The security of the city of Constantinople which
is the seat of the Caliphate of Islam, the capital of the Sultanate, and
the headquarters of the Ottoman Government, and of the Sea of Marmora must
be protected from every danger. Provided this principle is maintained, whatever
decision may be arrived at jointly by us and all other Governments concerned,
regarding the opening of the Bosphorus to the commerce and traffic of the
world, is valid.
"Fifth Article.-The rights of minorities as defined in the treaties
concluded between the Entente Powers and their enemies and certain of their
associates shall be confirmed and assured by us-in reliance on the belief
that the Moslem minorities in neighboring countries also will have the benefit
of the same rights
"Sixth Article.-It is a fundamental condition of our life and continued
existence that we, like every country should enjoy complete independence
an liberty in the matter of assuring the means of our development, in order
that our national and economic development should be rendered possible and
that it should be possible to conduct affairs in the form of a more up-to-date
"For this reason we are opposed to restrictions inimical to our
development in political, judicial, financial, and other matters.
"The conditions of settlement of our proved debts shall likewise
not be contrary to these principles.
"January 28, 1920."
NOTE-This document is not a part of the King Crane Report, but is presented to bring up-to-date the information contained in this supplement.
Seldom in history has so brief a document been the foundation of so great a world-commotion as the Balfour Declaration upon Zionism. It is merely a single sentence of sixty-eight words addressed by Mr. A. J. Balfour, on November 2, 1917, to Lord Rothschild. Yet the Zionists of every country acclaimed it as the charter of a new state, the assurance of a new day for universal Jewry.