Ambassador Morgenthau's Story

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Ambassador Morgenthau's Story
Ambassador Morgenthau's Story By Henry Morgenthau.png
Author Henry Morgenthau, Sr.
Original title Ambassador Morgenthau's Story
Country USA
Language English
Subject Literature / Memoirs
Publisher Doubleday, Page
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 407 pages

Ambassador Morgenthau's Story (1918) is the title of the published memoirs of Henry Morgenthau, Sr. covering the time when he was Woodrow Wilson's[1] American ambassador to Constantinople, 1913-1916. The book took over two years to complete. The ghostwriter for Henry Morgenthau was Burton J. Hendrick. However, a comparison with official documents filed by Morgenthau in his role as ambassador shows that the book must have been structured and written extensively by Morgenthau himself.

The book has been used as a primary source regarding Turkish atrocities against the Armenians (the Armenian Genocide), and the Greeks (the Greek Genocide).

When published, the book came under criticism by two prominent American historians regarding its coverage of Germany in the weeks before the onset of the war.


The former American Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Morgenthau relates his experience with German-Ottoman relations during the World War. He referred to the CUP as the "Boss System" in the Ottoman Empire, and related how it was proved useful to Germany to bring the Empire to its side. Also the book gives details of Germany's influence in preventing the sale of American warships to Greece. Germany's plans for new territories, coaling stations, and indemnities and closing the Dardanelles and so separates Russia from her Allies. Ottoman Empire's abrogation of the capitulations.

On the Van Resistance[edit]

The book include a picture of the Armenian refugees at Van.[2] The Van had an Armenian provisional government which gave relief to the destitute.

Morgenthau reports from Aleppo and Van. As he quoted the testimonies of the consulate officials, both justified the deportations as necessary to the conduct of the war, suggesting that the complicity of the Armenians of Van with the Russian forces that had overtaken the city justified the persecution of all ethnic Armenians.

In his memoirs, Morgenthau later suggested that, "When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact."

Discussions with Turkish leaders[edit]

See also: Talat Pasha
Photograph of Mehmet Talat Pasha as provided in his memoirs

It was some time before the story of the Armenian atrocities reached the American Embassy in all its details. Ambassador Morgenthau raised the issue with Talaat Pasha and Enver Pasha in person. When Morgenthau asked both whether the information reaching the embassy was reliable, the tendency was at first to regard them as mere manifestations of the disorders that had prevailed in the Armenian provinces for many years. When the consular reports came from Van and then Urfa, both Enver Pasha and Talaat Pasha dismissed them as wild exaggerations.

Audio recording of Chapter 24, "The Murder of a Nation", from Ambassador Morgenthau's Story.

The ambassador asked the U.S. Government to intervene, but the United States was not at that time a participant in World War I and could only have made written or verbal protests to the Turkish authorities. This was not done and Morgenthau was left without leverage beyond his personal rapport with those in power; when that failed, he drew international media attention to the genocide and organized private relief efforts.


In his Ph.D. thesis of 1957, Ralph Elliot Cook notices that the pronounced anti-German outlook of the book is absent of Morgenthau's archives.[3]

In 1990, Heath Lowry publishes an analyzis comparing several allegations of Morgenthau in his book with Morgenthau's personal archives (personal diary, dispatches to Washington, letters to his family), finding many discrepancies and concluding that Morgenthau's allegations against Turkish leaders in his book are unsubstantiated by his archives.[4] Gilles Veinstein, professor of Ottoman and Turkish history at the Collège de France considers as "rather instructive" Heath Lowry's analyzis about Morgenthau[5]

Guenter Lewy "checked some of these alleged differences and found them real", especially about the meetings between Morgenthau and Talat Pasha, so shares Heath Lowry's main conclusions about Ambassador Morgenthau's Story.[6]

Ambassador Morgenthau's Story was republished by Wayne State University Press in 2003, edited by Peter Balakian, with a foreword by Robert Jay Lifton, an introduction by Roger W. Smith, and an epilogue by Henry Morgenthau III.


Some of the photographs contained in the memoirs include:

Other editions[edit]

See also[edit]

  • Secrets of the Bosphorus by Henry Morgenthau, Sr. (1918) .


  1. ^ The book was dedicated to Wilson.
  2. ^ Ambassador Morgenthau's Story. 1918. Chapter Twenty-Seven
  3. ^ The United States and the Armenian Question, 1894-1924, Flechter School of Law and Diplomacy, 1957, p. 129
  4. ^ The Story Behin "Ambassador Morgenthau's Story", Istanbul: The Isis Press, 1990
  5. ^ "Trois questions sur un massacre", L'Histoire, April 1995.
  6. ^ The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey, Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2005, pp. 140-142.
  7. ^ Ambassador Morgenthau's Story. 1918. Chapter Twenty-Seven

External links[edit]