AMBASSADOR MORGENTHAU’S PERSONAL LIBRARY DONATED TO THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE MUSEUM OF AMERICA
The personal library of U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, renowned
for his extraordinary efforts to bring American and international
attention to the Turkish government’s deportation and massacres of
Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, has been donated to the Armenian
Genocide Museum of America (AGMA) in Washington, DC.
"We are extremely grateful to the Morgenthau family for entrusting this
invaluable collection of books to the museum, which provides a window
into the breadth and depth of the Ambassador’s intellectual acumen and
his humanitarian outlook," said Van Z. Krikorian, museum trustee and
chairman of the project’s Building and Operations Committee. "In the
pantheon of heroes who have fought against genocide, the Morgenthau
name is legendary. This collection is priceless and wonderful
Thanksgiving news," added Krikorian.
The gift of Ambassador Morgenthau’s personal library, which has
been privately held by his family since his death in 1946, comes to
AGMA from Henry Morgenthau III, the son of Henry Morgenthau, Jr.,
and the grandson of the Ambassador. In making the gift to AGMA,
Henry Morgenthau III said "I am only putting Ambassador Morgenthau’s
effects where they belong."
Ambassador Morgenthau’s personal library includes books he acquired
during his term of service in the Ottoman Empire, and others obtained
in preparation for his diplomatic posting to expand his knowledge
of the region, its history and people. The collection also includes
Ambassador Morgenthau’s autographed copy of the official State
Department publication "Instructions to the Diplomatic Officers of
the United States," which he was provided upon his appointment.
Krikorian said the Ambassador Morgenthau collection will be used by the
research library, and to enhance the museum’s exhibits depicting the
Ambassador’s life and work. Ambassador Morgenthau was a naturalized
American from a German Jewish family and a successful lawyer active
in Democratic Party politics. With the election of President Woodrow
Wilson, he was appointed United States Ambassador to the Sublime
Porte in 1913.
"Ambassador Morgenthau played a central role in documenting the
Armenian Genocide, and the items related to his diplomatic service
are critical pieces of his life story," Krikorian said. "No one
individual before Ambassador Morgenthau had so prominently alerted the
international community to the consequences of the mass atrocities
perpetrated against the Armenian population in Ottoman Turkey and
analyzed the mechanisms of a state system devised to extinguish an
entire people. Remarkably, the recent publication of Talaat Pasha’s
diary dispositively confirms what Ambassador Morgenthau reported and
wrote at the beginning of the last century."
While in Constantinople, Ambassador Morgenthau had personal contact
with the Young Turk leaders of the Ottoman Empire and architects
of the Armenian Genocide, especially the Minister of the Interior,
Talaat. When news of the deportations and massacres began to reach the
Embassy in April 1915, Ambassador Morgenthau attempted to intervene
to alleviate the plight of the Armenian population. He forwarded to
Washington the stream of alarming reports he received from U.S.
consulates in the interior of the Ottoman Empire that detailed the
extent of the measures taken against the Armenians.
On July 16, 1915, Morgenthau cabled the U.S. Department of State his
own dispatch whose alarm resonates to this day. He called the Young
Turk policy of deportation "a campaign of race extermination." In
effect, he became the first person to officially transmit to the
American government news that a state-sponsored systematic genocide
Drained by his disappointment in averting this disaster, Ambassador
Morgenthau returned to the United States in 1916. For the remainder of
the war years he dedicated himself to raising funds for the surviving
Armenians. Ambassador Morgenthau was particularly instrumental in the
founding of the Near East Relief organization which became the main
U.S. private agency to deliver critical assistance to the survivors
of the Armenian Genocide.
To bring his case to the attention of the public, he published
"Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story" in 1918, a memoir of his years in
Turkey in which he stressed the German influence and role in the
Ottoman Empire. While he held Germany responsible for starting World
War I, he placed the blame for the atrocities committed against the
Armenians entirely upon the shoulders of the Young Turk Ittihadist
cabinet which he characterized as a violently radical regime.
Ambassador Morgenthau titled the chapter on the Armenians "The Murder
of a Nation," and described the deportations and the atrocities as a
"cold-blooded, calculating state policy." He avowed at the time "I
am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no
such horrible episode as this."