OUT OF THE DEPTHS
Written by Diana Abgar and originally published in 1910
“Oh that my head were waters and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of my people.”
A book has been written and published in Japan, its title “Niku Dan” translated into English, reads, “Human Bullets.” This little book, a narrative of the siege of Port Arthur, after being read through the length and breadth of the empire, found translators to translate it into the best known of languages; and its young author, himself an actor in the siege, was summoned to the presence of his sovereign to be thanked and praised. The book is a graphic narrative of the most terrible siege in history, wherein is vividly portrayed the deadly struggle of the besiegers. It contains as an acknowledgement of its merit, a page on which is recorded the Field Marshal’s appreciation, and another page bearing the Commanding General’s commendation.
In simple narrative the author carries the reader through appalling scenes of horror, and as we read we are made to realize the slaughter of the enemy’s machine guns, of their ground-mines, electric-wire entanglements, and exploding shells; we are made to hear the roar of the artillery fire dealing death and destruction, and there rises before us the mental vision of the fierce hand to hand conflict, and the dead and dying lying thickly in the dark ravine.
“For hill and battle plain,
With dying men and slain,
Grew mountain heights of pain,
And mine is boundless woe.”
The grim warrior who stormed and took the most impregnable fortress in the world gives expression to his feelings on his own great achievement, in saddest words.
“And mine is boundless woe,”
For the grim warrior’s heart is cleft in twain for the human bullets that under his command hurled themselves to their death.
In the world’s greatest war, human bullets were sacrificed for the protection of hearths and homes and a nation’s existence, moreover the human bullets were made of men who fought and died for sovereign and country.
But there is a counter picture of horrors in which also there has been a sacrifice of human bullets, made not only of men but of women and children, human bullets, not of soldiers, themselves fortified and equipped with instruments of slaughter for fighting and grappling with the foe, but human bullets of unarmed men, of helpless women and children, of youth and old age, caught like rats in a rat-trap; and these human bullets have been sacrificed to the savage lusts of murder and plunder of the world’s fiercest oppressors, and to the political and commercial interests of civilized nations.
In the first decade of the civilized twentieth century, a horrible and wanton slaughter of unarmed men, of helpless women and children has been perpetrated with all the accessories of cruelties unsurpassed for their fiendishness: whole towns and villages have been desolated, homes pillaged and destroyed, not only men, but women and children subjected to hideous deaths and nameless horrors, which no pen could depict in their true realism, and the details could never go into print, and this wanton slaughter, even as the many of a similar nature that have preceded it, has come and gone like a ripple on a smooth sea.
No cry of horror has risen from the hearts of civilized nations! Turkey can butcher the helpless victims of her greed and carnivorous instincts with impunity, since Christendom and Civilization are busy only with Turkish concessions, with land grabbing and money making.
“Human Bullets”! “Human Bullets”! here are human bullets of heavier rain than at the world’s grimmest siege; here are “sure death detachments” hurled to a more pitiful fate; and the civilized world does not care, for Armenian Massacres come and go, and the civilized world is getting used to them. But in the eternal order of things, a Nemesis follows human actions, be they of individuals or of nations. Material Prosperity is a great and good thing, but Moral Prosperity is greater and better. The Armenians may be done to their death, the last remnants of an ancient civilization may be exterminated and consigned in their blood to oblivion; but to the nations grown great in material prosperity that for their own selfish interests can allow and condone this hellish extermination, history teaches a mighty lesson. The moral cancer eating into the moral sense of nations, saps moral prosperity which in its turn undermines material prosperity. Great Empires once flourishing have decayed through moral poverty. History repeats itself.