#34: Hostile supervision (1920-1921)

In December a Turkish lawyer, Saduk Bey Mehami, came and announced that he had been appointed Comisser of us Americans in Relief work, and also in education. We accepted the former in view of all the circumstances, but protested the latter for the College and Girls' School had been fully authorized by the Ottoman Government for many years. Our protest was unavailing. Saduk Bey was notoriously hostile to us. He was commonly quoted as saying that he would not rest till our campus was turned into a barley field again. His bitterness was probably due, at least in part, to the fact that he had taken possession of a College house, occupied by an Armenian professor, who had disappeared in the deportation, and he refused to pay any rent until it was collected under the authority of the British. The Comisser made things trying for us beyond all precedent. Yet in January, when I telegraphed Constantinople recommending the appointment of an American to reside in Angora, at least as a *liason* representative for the interchange of information and for better mutual understanding, I received a message of thanks from the Great National Assembly at Angora. That was in 1921.

Christmas eve just before, I had received a confidential message from a visiting American to the effect that I was the next man marked for deportation. And one day when I was summoned to the government an associate asked me whether I had my belt on, meaning to inquire whether I had money on my person, so indicating his doubt as to whether I would ever come back. I offered to withdraw as Director of N. E. R., but no one criticized my management and no one wanted to accept my responsibility.


On the evening of February 12, Zeki Effendi Ketani, our head Turkish teacher, after presiding at a meeting of the Turkish students' literary society, was assassinated in the street on his way home and within twenty-four hours was dead. We had no doubt that his death was caused by Turks who could not bear to have one of their own number happy in helping us to conduct an American and Christian school.

Almost that very day the headquarters of the Army Division covering our region were brought to Merzifon with General Jemil Jahid in command. Troops were assembled in considerable numbers.


For long hours that wintry day, the officers eagerly sought for arms and ammunition in every nook and corner, without finding anything, for there was nothing to find. British officers, when they left with their soldiers, had offered us a supply of at least a few first-class weapons and recommended us to accept and hold them for some possible emergency, but we had refused to receive them. Our city governor, a colonel in military rank, who accompanied me to conduct the search of my house, was friendly and kind. He looked things over rapidly as Mrs. White escorted us about. Then the Governor and I sat down to chat, drink coffee and listen to the victrola together.

NEXT: "Pontus" (1921)