(research December 2009)
A 3 page Foreign Office File, held in the UK National Archives at Kew and closed under the Archives Act for 50 years until 1966, testifies to contemporary humanitarian anguish on the status of Armenian refugees in 1915, and British Government failure to intervene (FO N157 T/239). The (Liberal) Marquess of Crewe, when Secretary of State for India, pleaded to fellow Liberal Reginald McKenna, as Chancellor of Exchequer, for help. Crewe wrote:
'Lord Bryce has written to the Prime Minister about the state of affairs at re Armenians at Tiflis, where Armenian refugees are collecting in great numbers, and in the neighbourhood of which town there are said to be several hundred thousands absolutely destitute and perishing from want and disease. Lord Bryce says that attempts are being made to obtain subscriptions in England, but he suggests that no charity can cope with the situation, and that his Majesty's Government might think fit to make a contribution for the support of these refugees.
From the reports that we have received from our Consul at Batoum, I think that Lord Bryce's account is probably not exaggerated, and I should like to have your views as to whether the Government could properly make a contribution, say of Forty thousand pounds, for relief work. If you think there is any use in pursuing this question further I would make preliminary enquiries from the Russian Government.'
Files then simply notes that 'The Chancellor has told Lord Crewe that he cannot agree to this proposal.'
(Viscount Bryce spoke on the Armenian atrocities in Parliament in 1915 and in 1916 with Arnold Toynbee compiled The Blue Book, documenting the massacres).