This photo depicts an episode of deportation of Erzurum Armenians to Mesopotamia, near the village of Sushehir. The photo was taken by the Austrian biologist Victor Pitchman (1881-1956). By the order of German Government, from 1914 until the end of the First World War, Pitchman had organized Turkish mountain-shooter military units, at the same time mapping the ongoing military operations in the Middle East for the German General Staff. Traveling and carrying out collecting works in the territory of Western Armenia he managed to take photos of Armenians’ deportation scene.
It is remarkable, that in the photos taken by V. Pitchman no men are seen in the deportation caravans, only women and children. The majority of Armenian men were already killed.
The deportation of Armenian population of Erzurum started in July 1915. Historical sources and evidences of survivors prove the cruel fate of Erzurum Armenians. 35-40 thousand Armenians were deported from Erzurum and surrounding villages to Derjan, Erzincan, Sebastia (Sivas), even to Der Zor desert. Very few of the deportees could survive.
Moreover, Armenians were slaughtered on the road of deportation; men were shot to death, or killed by axe in groups; women were raped and killed or died on the road from various diseases, thirst and starvation; lonely and helpless children and weak were inevitably condemned to death.
“They killed the women, children, and elderly people by burning them to death, shearing, strangling the rivers, group shooting and rolling them from the rocks to deep rifts. Starving and frosted people were condemned to death through brutal torture.
Thousands of deported Armenians were dying on the way and epidemics in deportation camps. The population of Erzurum and Bassen valleys – women, children and elder people – were deported from their villages and forced to reach Mesopotamia”.