The Murder of Consuls in Turkey (The Illustrated London News, June 17, 1876)

The following account of the massacre of the French and German Consuls at Salonica is communicated to us, with the portraits which we have engraved, by their brother, Mr. Alfred Abbott:-

“On May 5 Aretizar Villayet, a Christian girl, about fourteen years old, who had been snatched by the Turks from the village of Bogdanza two days before, was transported by train to Salonica, where, according to existing rules, she might appear before the Government and abjure the religion of her forefathers. In another carriage followed the mother of this girl. Arrived at the railway terminus, the mother, screaming, begged every Christian present to help her daughter, who was made by force to change her faith. All the people who happened to be there at once hastened to snatch the girl from the hands of three Ottomans who accompanied her. One of them was Emin Effendi, a member of the Council of Salonica, and one of the most influential Turks as regards fanaticism and inimical feelings towards the Christians.

At the moment the carriage of Mr. Pericles Hajji Lazzaro, Consul of the United States, happened to be there waiting the arrival of its owner by the same train from Vodina, where he had been on a tour of pleasure during three days, accompanied by the Greek Consul, Mr. Vatikiotes, and by Mr. Mavrocordato, a gentleman from Athens. The gentlemen did not arrive by that train; so the Christians, seeing the carriage empty, took advantage of this coincidence and put the girl and her mother into it, accompanying them as far as the City Gate, and all the time begging the coachman to take her where she might be in safety.

On the morrow (Saturday), towards noon, a number of Turks, headed by a committee of five, came to the Konak, and appeared before the Governor, near whom was seated the Mufti [religious head], named Ibrahim Bey, a member of the upper council of the Villayet, a very influential rich and fanatic Mohammedan. A Christian gentleman was also present. The committee demanded the immediate discovery of the girl and her delivery into their hands; otherwise they threatened to revenge themselves. Ibrahim Bey approved and supported their demand. The Pasha did not even to reprove them, or try to disperse the crowd; on the contrary, he promised to satisfy them fully. He therefore sent at once a committee to Mr. Hajji Lazzaro’s house in search of the girl, while, on the other side he looked on gently at the armed mob, which under the guidance of Emin Effendi, and with the encouragement of Allay Bey (Colonel of the police), was congregating at the mosque attached to the Government House.

At the same time, public criers throughout the town invited all the faithful Mussulmans to arm themselves and assemble within the above-mentioned mosque; and the Imams from the tops of the minarets excited the people against the Giaours [Infidels]. Some officers, with guards, distributed arms and cartridges to the already infuriated mob.

About three o’clock the French and German Consuls were informed of all this disturbance, and wished if possible to prevent the immediate danger to the Christians. They thought it their duty to go to the Governor, and represent to him the urgent necessity of taking serious measures for the tranquilisation of the excited Turkish populace. But having arrived at the gate of the Government House, they met Emin Effendi, who, it appears, told them treacherously that the Pasha was at the mosque.

Under such circumstances the Consuls always go straight to the Pasha. Emin Effendi therefore conducted them to the mosque, and took them into the room where the Council was assembled, and where the Pasha came in afterwards. Whilst there the Consul of Germany, Mr. Henry Abbott, wrote a letter to Mr. N. Hajji Lazzaro, brother of the then absent American Consul; and, supposing him from the rumours which were afloat to be cognisant of the girl’s hiding-place, requested him to give up the girl. He also wrote another note to his own brother, Mr. Alfred Abbott, representing to him the necessity of finding out and sending up the girl, and saying that he and their brother-in-law, Mr. Moulin, were prisoners in the mosque, and that if the girl was not given up the consequences might be serious.

As soon as Mr. Alfred Abbott received his brother’s note, which, either through fatality or purposely, did not reach him immediately, he ran everywhere he thought the girl might be found, and, having discovered her at last, he delivered her into the hands of the Cavass of the English Consulate, who conducted her immediately to the Lyceum.

But the treacherous villains never intended to wait for the girl. The French and German Consuls had already been butchered in the presence of the Governor, Kefat Pasha, and of all the members of the two Councils, all the principal officers of the City Guard, and all the Turkish notabilities of the town. Not one of these undertook to protect the innocent victims and not a drop of Turkish blood was spilt on their behalf. Many are the proofs the Consuls did not remain alive more than half an hour in the mosque. The Turks were thirsting for their blood, and would on no account lose the opportunity. They fell upon their unarmed victims, and butchered them with various instruments in such a manner that no one can behold their mutilated bodies without feelings of horror and loathing for the instigators and perpetrators of such a savage massacre. Each of the corpses bears more than thirty wounds, and wounds so deep that they must certainly have expired at the first blows; and the rest was evidently done after death.

This shows the ferocity at which the Turks had arrived and is too characteristic of their immemorial barbarity. It is in vain that the upper functionaries of Stamboul may have Frenchified themselves a little - the masses remain such as they were centuries ago, without a particle of civilisation.

After the death of the martyrs - for such they must be called - their persons were robbed of whatever valuables they had possessed - such as watches, chains, rings, and money - part of their clothing, and boots, and in such a condition they were dragged, face downwards, out of the room. They were laid on the ground, so that their mouths and body were full of earth. Their bodies bear unquestionable proofs of having been stamped upon; and they were left thus, like dead dogs, in the midst of the street. It was only towards half-past nine in the evening, after the Pasha had in vain exhausted all his exhortations to the representative of the absent Greek Archbishop to hasten and bury the dead secretly, that their bodies were delivered to their families.

It must be observed that when we say the Consuls went to the mosque, it is not meant that they went within the temple, but only into the grounds of the mosque, where the room stands in which the council was held, and in which the Consuls were butchered. This place is always open, and everyone of every creed is admitted, without the Turks considering it a profanation.

M. Jules P. Moulin, the French Consul, was married three years and three months ago to the sister of Mr. Henry Abbott, German Consul. The first named was approaching his fortieth year; he leaves a widow, twenty six years of age, and two orphans, a girl nearly two years old, and a boy just a year and a month old. Mr. Henry Abbott was in his thirty-fourth year, and leaves a young widow, twenty seven years old. The official papers of Paris and Berlin speak highly of the official conduct and personal qualities of the two victims. Their untimely and horrible death, which they met in courageously performing their duty, is a crowning proof of their high character. As to the esteem that they both enjoyed at Salonica, it is shown by the fact that all the Christian population, a great part of the Israelites [Jews], expressed their deeply felt sympathy by keeping their shops and offices closed during fourteen days, from the day of the massacre to that of the burying the dead.”

The two portraits are copied from photographs by Abdullah Brothers, of Constantinople.

image from Illustrated London News

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