TWO WAR YEARS IN CONSTANTINOPLE
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The tide of war—Enver's offensive for the "liberation of the Caucasus"—The Dardanelles Campaign; the fate of Constantinople twice hangs in the balance— Nervous tension in international Pera—Bulgaria's attitude—Turkish rancour against her former enemy—-German illusions of a separate peace with Russia—King Ferdinand's time-serving—Lack of munitions in the Dardanelles—A mysterious death: a political murder?—The evacuation of Gallipoli— The Turkish version of victory—Constantinople unreleased — Kut-el-Amara — Propaganda for the "Holy War"—A prisoner of repute—Loyalty of Anglo-Indian officers—Turkish communiqués and their worth—The fall of Erzerum—Official lies— The treatment of prisoners—Political speculation with prisoners of war—Treatment of enemy subjects—Stagnation and lassitude in the summer of 1916—The Greeks in Turkey—Dread of Greek massacres—Rumania's entry—Terrible disappointment—The three phases of the war for Turkey.
It will be necessary to devote a few lines to a review of the principal features of the war,
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so far as it affected the life of the Turkish capital, in order to have a military and political background for what I saw among the Turks during my twenty months' stay in their country. To that I will add a short description of the economic situation.
When I arrived in Constantinople, Turkey had already completed her first winter campaign in the Caucasus, and had repelled the attack of the Entente fleet on the Dardanelles, culminating in the events of March 18th, 1915. But Enver Pasha had completely misjudged the relation between the means at his disposal and the task before him when, out of pure vanity and a mad desire for expansion, he undertook a personally conducted offensive for "the liberation of the Caucasus." The terrible defeats inflicted on the Turkish army on this occasion were kept from the knowledge of the people by a rigorous censorship and the falsification of the communiqués. This was particularly the case in the enormous Turkish losses sustained at Sarykamish.
Enver had put this great Caucasus offensive in hand out of pure wanton folly, thinking by so doing to win laurels for himself and to have
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something tangible to show those Turkish ultra-Nationalists who always had an eye on Turkestan and Turan and thought that now was the time to carry out their programme of a "Greater Turkey." It was this mad undertaking, bound as it was to come to grief, that first showed Enver Pasha in his true colours. I shall have something to say about his character in another connection, which will show how gravely he has been over-estimated in Europe.
From the beginning of March 1915 to the beginning of January 1916 the situation was practically entirely commanded by the battles in the Dardanelles and Gallipoli. It has now been accepted as a recognised fact even in the countries belonging to the Entente that the sacrifice of a few more ships on March 18th would have decided the fate of the Dardanelles. To their great astonishment the gallant defenders of the coast forts found that the attack had suddenly ceased. Dozens of the German naval gunners who were manning the batteries of Chanakkalé on that memorable day told me later that they had quite made up their minds the fleet would ultimately win, and that
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they themselves could not have held out much longer. Such an outcome was expected hourly in Constantinople, and I was told by influential people that all the archives, stores of money, etc., had already been removed to Konia.
It is a remarkable fact that for a second time, in the first days of September, the fate of Constantinople was again hanging in the balance—a fact which is no longer a secret in England and France. The British had extended their line northwards from Ariburnu to Anaforta, and a heroic dash by the Anzacs had captured the summit of the Koja-Jemen-Dagh, and so given them direct command of the whole peninsula of Gallipoli and the insufficiently protected Dardanelles forts behind them. It is still a mystery to the people of Constantinople why the British troops did not follow up this victory. The fact is that this time again the money and archives were hurried off from Constantinople to Asia, and a German officer in Constantinople gave me the entertaining information that he had really seriously thought of hiring a window in the Grand' Rue de Péra, so that he and his family
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might watch the triumphal entry of the Entente troops! It would be easier to enjoy the joke of this if it were not overshadowed by such fearful tragedy.
I have already indicated the dilemma in which I was placed on my first and second visits to the Gallipoli front. I was torn by conflicting doubts as to whom my sympathies ought ultimately to turn to—to the heroic Turkish defender, who was indeed fighting for the existence of his country, although in an unsuccessful and unjust cause, for German militarism and the exaggerated jingoism of the Young Turks, or to those who were officially my enemies but whom, knowing as I did who was responsible for the great crime of the war, I could not regard as such.
In those September days I had already had some experience of Turkish politics and their defiance of the laws of humanity, and my sympathies were all for those thousands of fine colonial troops—such men as one seldom sees— sacrificing their lives in one last colossal attack, which if it had been prolonged even for another hour might have sealed the fate of the Straits and would have meant the first deci-
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sive step towards the overthrow of our forces; for the capture of Constantinople would have been the beginning of the end. I am not ashamed to confess that, German as I am, that was the only feeling I had when I heard of the British victory and the subsequent British defeat at Anaforta. The Battle of Anaforta was the last desperate attempt to break the resistance in the Dardanelles.
While the men of Stamboul and Anatolia— the nucleus of the Ottoman Empire—were defending the City of the Caliph at the gate of the Dardanelles, with reinforcements from Arab regiments when they were utterly exhausted in the autumn, the other half of the metropolis, the cosmopolitan Galata-Pera, was trembling for the safety of the attacking Entente troops, and lived through the long months in a state of continual tension, longing always for the moment of release.
There was a great deal of nervous calculation about the probable attitude of Bulgaria among both the Turks and the thousands of thoroughly illoyal citizens of the Ottoman Empire composing the population of the capital. From lack of information and also as a result
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of Bulgaria's long delay in declaring her attitude, an undue optimism ruled right up to the last moment among those who desired the overthrow of the Turks.
The Bulgarian question was closely bound up with the question of the munitions supply. The Turkish resistance on Gallipoli threatened to collapse through lack of munitions, and general interest centred—with very varied desires with regard to the outcome—on the rare ammunition trains that were brought through Rumania only after an enormous expenditure of Turkish powers of persuasion and the application of any amount of "palm-oil."
I was present at Sedd-ul-Bahr at the beginning of July, when, owing to lack of ammunition, the German-Turkish artillery could only reply with one shot to every ten British ones, while the insufficiently equipped factories of Top-hané and Zeitun-burnu, under the control of General Pieper, Director of Munitions, were turning out as many shells as was possible with the inferior material at their disposal, and the Turkish fortresses in the Interior had to send their supply of often very antiquated ammunition to the Dardanelles.
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The whole dramatic import of the situation, which might any day give rise to epoch-making events, was only too evident in Constantinople. It is not to be wondered at that everyone looked forward with feverish impatience to Bulgaria's entry either on one side or the other.
But, in spite of all this, the Turks could scarcely bear the sight of the first Bulgarian soldiers who appeared in autumn 1915 in full uniform in the streets of "Carihrad." The necessary surrender of the land along the Maritza right to the gates of the holy city of "Edirne" (Adrianople) was but little to the liking of the Turkish patriots, and even the successful issue of the Dardanelles campaign, only made possible by Bulgaria's joining the Central Powers, was not sufficient to win the real sympathies of the Turks for their new allies. It was not until much later that the position was altered as a result of the combined fighting in Dobrudja. Practically right up to the end of 1916, the real, short-sighted, jingoistic Turk looked askance at his new ally and viewed with irritation and distrust the desecration of his sacred "Edirne," the symbol of his national renaissance, while the ambition of all politi-
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cians was to bring Bulgaria one day to a surrender of the lost territory and more.
Even in 1916 I found Young Turks, belonging to the Committee, who still regarded the Bulgarians as their erstwhile cunning foe and as a set of unscrupulous, unsympathetic opportunists who might again become a menace to them. They even admitted that the Serbs were "infinitely nicer enemies in the Balkan war," and appealed to them very much more than the Bulgarians. The late Prince Yussuf Izzedin Effendi, of whose tragic death I shall speak later, was always a declared opponent of the cession of the Maritza territory.
The possibility of Bulgaria's voluntarily surrendering this territory and possibly much more through extending her own possessions westward if Greece joined the Entente, had a great deal to do with Turkey's attitude during the whole of 1916, and goes far to explain why she dallied so long over the idea of alienating Greece, and used all sorts of chicanery against the Ottoman and Hellenic Greeks in Turkey. Another and much more important factor was, as we shall see, fundamental racehatred and avarice.
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As the question as to which side Bulgaria was to join was of decisive moment for Turkish politics, I may perhaps be permitted to add a few details from personal information. I had an interesting sidelight on the German attempts to win over Bulgaria from a well-informed source in Sofia. Everyone was much puzzled over the apparent clumsiness of the German Ambassador in Sofia, Dr. Michahelles, in his diplomatic mission to gain help from Bulgaria. King Ferdinand, of course, made great difficulties, and at a very early stage of the proceedings he turned to the Prime Minister, Radoslavoff, and said: "Away with your German Jews! Why don't you take the good French gold?" (referring, of course, to the offered French loan).
The king was cunning enough in his own way, but he was a poor politician and utterly vacillating, for he had no sort of ideals to live up to and was prompted by a spirit of unworthy opportunism, and it needed Radoslavoff's threat of instant resignation to bring him to a definite decision. The transference shortly afterwards of the German Ambassador to a northern post strengthened the im-
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pression in confidential circles in Sofia that he had been lacking in diplomacy.
The truth was that he had received most contradictory instructions from Berlin, which did not allow him to do his utmost to win Bulgaria for the German cause. The Imperial Chancellor seems even then—it was after the great German summer offensive against Russia—to have given serious consideration to the possibility of a separate peace with Russia, and was quite convinced that Russia would never lay down arms without having humiliated Bulgaria, should the latter prove a traitor to the Slavic cause and turn against Serbia.
In diplomatic circles in Berlin this knowledge and the decision—so naïve in view of all their boasted Weltpolitik—to pursue the quite illusory dream of a separate peace with Russia, seemed to outweigh, at any rate for some time, anxiety with regard to the state of affairs in Gallipoli and the complete lack of munitions shortly to be expected, and lamed their initiative in their dealings with Bulgaria.
It is probably not generally known that here again the military party assumed the lead in politics, and took the Bulgarian matter in
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hand themselves. In the space of no time at all, Bulgaria's entry on the German side was an accomplished fact. It was Colonel von Leipzig, the German military attaché at the Constantinople Embassy, that clinched the matter at the critical moment by a journey to Sofia, and the whole thing was arranged in less than a fortnight. But that journey cost him his life. On the way back to the Turkish capital Herr von Leipzig—one of the nicest and most gentlemanly men that ever wore a field-grey uniform—visited the Dardanelles front, and on the little Thracian railway-station of Uzunköprü he met his death mysteriously. He was found shot through the head in the bare little waiting-room of this miserable wayside station.
It so happened that on my way to the Dardanelles on that day at the end of June 1915, I passed through this little station, and was the sole European witness of this tragic event, which increased still further the excitement already hanging over Constantinople in these weeks of lack of ammunition and terrible onslaughts against Gallipoli, and which had already risen to fever-heat over the nervous ru-
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mours that were going the rounds as to Bulgaria's attitude. The occurrence, of course, was used by political intriguers for their own ends.
I wrote a warm and truly heartfelt appreciation of this excellent man and good friend, which was published in my paper at the time, and it was not till long afterwards, weeks, indeed, after my return, that I had any idea that the sudden death of Herr von Leipzig on his return from a mission of the highest political importance was looked upon by the German anti-English party as the work of English spies in the service of Mr. Fitzmaurice, who was formerly at the English Embassy in Constantinople.
I was an eye-witness of the occurrence, or rather, I was beside the Colonel a minute after I heard the shot, and saw the hole in his revolver-holster where the bullet had gone through. I heard the frank evidence of all the Turks present, from the policeman who had arrived first on the scene to the staff doctor who came later, and I immediately telegraphed to my paper from the scene of the
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accident, giving them my impression of the affair.
On my return to Constantinople I was invited to give evidence under oath before the German Consulate General, and there one may find the written evidence of what I had to say: a pure and absolute accident.
I must not omit to mention here that the German authorities themselves in Constantinople were so thoroughly convinced that the idea of murder was out of the question, that Colonel von Leipzig's widow, who, believing this version of the story, hurried to Turkey, to make her own investigations, had the greatest difficulty in being officially received by the Embassy and Consulate. I had a long interview with her in the "Pera Palace," where she complained bitterly of her treatment in this respect. I have tarried a little over this tragic episode as it shows all the political ramifications that ran together in the Turkish capital and the dramatic excitement that prevailed.
The day came, however, when the Entente troops first evacuated Anaforta-Ariburnu, and then, after a long and protracted struggle, Sedd-ul-Bahr, and so the entire Gallipoli Pe-
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ninsula. The Dardanelles campaign was at an end.
The impossibility of ever breaking down that solid Turkish resistance, the sufferings of the soldiers practically starved to death in the trenches during the cold winter storms, the difficulties of obtaining supplies of provisions, drinking water, ammunition, etc., with a frozen sea and harbourless coast, anxiety about the superior heavy artillery that the enemy kept bringing up after the overthrow of Serbia— everything combined to strengthen the Entente in their decision to put an end to the campaign in Gallipoli.
The Turkish soldiers had now free access to the sea, for all the British Dreadnoughts and cruisers had disappeared; the warlike activity which had raged for months on the narrow Gallipoli Peninsula suddenly ceased; Austrian heavy and medium howitzers undertook the coast defence, and a garrison of a few thousand Turkish soldiers stayed behind in the Narrows for precaution's sake, while the whole huge Gallipoli army in an endless train was marched off to the Taurus to meet the Russian advance threatening in Armenia.
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But Constantinople remained "unrelieved." And from that moment a dull resignation, a dreary waiting for one scarcely knew what, disappointment, and pessimism took the place of the nervous tension that had been so apparent in those who had been longing for the fall of the Turkish capital.
But the Turks rejoiced. It is scarcely to be wondered at that they tried to construe the failure of the Gallipoli affair as a wonderful and dazzling victory for Islam over the combined forces of the Great Powers. It is only in line of course with Turkish official untruthfulness that, in shameless perversion of facts, they talked glibly of the irresistible bayonet attacks of their "ghazi" (heroes) and of thousands of Englishmen taken prisoner or chased back into the sea, whereas it was a well-known fact even in Pera that the retreat had been carried out in a most masterly way with practically no loss of life, and that the Turks themselves had been caught napping this time; but to lie is human, and the Turks owed it to their prestige to have an unmistakable and great military victory to form the basis of that "Holy War" that was so long in
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getting under weigh; and when all is said and done, their truly heroic defence really was a victory.
The absurd thing about all these lies was the way they were foisted on a public who already knew the true state of affairs and had nothing whatever to do with the "Holy War."
The Turks made even more of the second piece of good fortune that fell to their lot— the fall of Kut-el-Amara. General Townshend became their cherished prisoner, and was provided with a villa on the island of Halki in the Sea of Marmora, with a staff of Turkish naval officers to act as interpreters.
In the neighbouring and more fashionable Prinkipo he was received by practically everyone with open arms, and once even a concert was arranged in his honour, which was attended by the élite of Turkish and Levantine Society—the Turks because of their vanity and pride in their important prisoner of war, the Levantines because of their political sympathy with General Townshend, who, although there against his will, seemed to bring them a breath of that world they had lost all contact with
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for nearly two years and for which they longed with the most ardent and passionate desire.
On the occasion of the Bairam Festival—the highest Musulman festival—in 1916, the Turkish Government made a point of sending a group of about seventy Anglo-Indian Mohammedan officers, who had been taken prisoner at the fall of Kut and were now interned in Eski-Shehir, to the "Caliph City of Stamboul," where they were entertained for ten days in different Turkish hotels and shown everything that would seem to be of value for "Holy War" propaganda purposes.
I had the opportunity of conversing with some of these Indian officers in the garden of the "Petit Champs," where their appearance one evening made a most tremendous sensation. I had of course to be very discreet, for we were surrounded by spies, but I came away firmly convinced that, in spite of their good treatment, which was of course not without its purpose, and most unceasing and determined efforts to influence them, the Turkish propaganda so far as these Indian officers was concerned had entirely failed and that their loyalty to England remained absolutely unshak-
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en. Will anyone blame me, if, angry and disgusted as I was at all these Turkish intrigues— it was shortly after that dramatic scene of the tortured Armenian which called forth that denunciation of Germany from my wife—I said to a group of these Indians—just this and nothing more!—that they should not believe all that the Turks told them, and that the result of the war would be very different from what the Turks thought? One of the officers thanked me with glowing eyes on behalf of his comrades and himself, and told me what a comfort my assurance was to them. They had nothing to complain of, he said, save being cut off from all news except official Turkish reports.
The very most that even the wildest fancy could find in events like Gallipoli and Kut-el-Amara was brought forward for the benefit of the "Holy War," but, despite everything, the propaganda was, as we have seen, a hopeless failure. Reverses such as the fall of Erzerum, Trebizond, and Ersindjan, on the contrary, which took place between the two above-mentioned victories, have never to this day been even so much as hinted at in the of-
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ficial war communiqués for the Ottoman public. For the communiqués for home and foreign consumption were always radically different.
It was not until very much later, when the Turkish counter-offensive against Bitlis seemed to be bearing fruit, that a few mild indications of these defeats were made in Parliament, with a careful suppression of all names, and the newspapers were empowered to make some mention of a "purely temporary retreat of no strategic importance" which had then taken place. The usual stereotyped report of 3,000 or 5,000 dead that was officially given out after every battle throughout the whole course of operations in the Irak scarcely came off in this case, however, and, to tell the truth, Erzerum and these countless English dead reported in the Irak did more than anything else to undermine completely the people's already sadly shaken confidence in the official war communiqués.
If there was a real victory to be celebrated, the most stringent police orders were issued that flags were to be flown everywhere—on every building. Surely it is only in a land like
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Turkey that one could see the curious sight I witnessed after the fall of Bucharest—the victorious flags of the Central Powers, surmounted by the Turkish crescent, flying even from the balconies of Rumanian subjects, because there had been a definite police warning issued that, in the case of non-compliance with the order, the houses would be immediately ransacked and the families inhabiting them sent off to the interior of Anatolia. Under the circumstances, refusal to carry out police orders was impossible. That was the Turkish idea of the respect due to individual liberty.
This gives me an opportunity to say something of the treatment of prisoners. I may say in one word that it is, on the whole, good. Justice compels me to admit that the Turk, when he does take prisoners, treats them kindly and chivalrously; but he takes few prisoners, for he knows only too well how to wield his bayonet in those murderous charges he makes. Indeed, apart from the few hundred that fell into their hands in the Dardanelles or on the Russo-Turkish front, together with the crews of a few captured submarines, all the Turkish prisoners of war come from Kut-el-Amara.
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But the primitive Turk is all too sadly lacking in the comforts of life himself to be able to provide them for his prisoners. Without the help of the Commission that works under the protection of the American Embassy for the relief of the Entente prisoners, and sends piles of warm clothing, excellent shoes (which rouse the special envy of the Turks), chocolate, cakes, etc., to the Anatolian camps, these men, accustomed to European ways of life, would be in a sad plight.
The repeated and "humiliating marching of prisoners of war through the streets of Constantinople to show them off to the childish gaze of a people much influenced by externals, might with advantage be dispensed with. And it was certainly not exactly kind to make wounded English officers process past the Sultan at the Friday's "Selamlik"; it was rather too like slave-driving methods and the abuses of the Middle Ages.
I was an unwilling witness of one most regrettable incident that took place shortly before I left Constantinople. In this case the sufferings of some unfortunate prisoners of war were cruelly exploited for political ends.
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A whole troup of about 2,000 Rumanians, from Dobrudja, were hounded up and down the streets of Pera and Stamboul in a purposely destitute and exhausted condition, so that the appearance of these poor wretches, who hung their heads dejectedly and had lost all trace of military bearing, might give the impression that the Turks were dealing with a very inferior foe and would soon be at the end of the business. This is how the authorities were going to increase the confidence of the doubting population!
The Turkish escort had apparently given these prisoners nothing to drink on the way— although the Turk, being a great water-drinker himself, knows only too well what a man needs on a dusty journey of several days on a transport train—for with my own eyes I saw dozens of them simply flinging themselves like animals full length on the ground when they reached the Taksim Fountain, and trying to slake their terrible thirst. It was with pitiable trickery like this—for which no doubt Enver Pasha was responsible, for the simple Turkish soldier is much too good-natured not to share his bread and water with his prisoners—that
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attempts were made, at the expense of all feelings of humanity, to cheer up the uneducated masses.
The Turkish Government, however, apart from a few cases of reprisals, where the prisoners were treated in an even more barbaric and primitive manner, did not, as a general rule, go the length of interning civilians. This was not without its own good grounds. In the first place, a very large part of the trade of the country lay in the hands of these Europeans, and they were consequently absolutely indispensable to the Turks in their everyday commercial life; secondly, a Government that had systematically rooted out the Armenians, hanged Arabian notables, and brutally mishandled the Greeks, could scarcely dispense, in the eyes of Europe, with the very last pretence of being more or less civilised; and, lastly, perhaps the fear of being brought to book later on may have had a restraining influence on them—we saw how growing anxiety about the Russian advance on the Eastern front led, at any rate for a time, to a discontinuance of Armenian persecutions.
Besides all this, hundreds and thousands of
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Turks were resident in enemy countries, and of course the desire was to avoid reprisals. So the Government contented itself with threats and subterfuges, after a first unsuccessful attempt to expose a large number of French subjects to fire from the enemy guns in Gallipoli—a plan which failed entirely, owing to the energetic opposition of officials of the American Embassy who had accompanied these chosen victims to Gallipoli. Every means was used, however, even announcements in the newspapers and a Vote of Credit "for the removal of enemy subjects to the interior," to keep the sword of Damocles for ever hanging over the heads of all subjects of Entente countries, even women and children.
From the fall of Kut-el-Amara up to the time of Rumania's entry into the war, there were no important episodes of a military or political nature from the particular point of view of Turkey. (The Arabian catastrophe I will deal with in another connection.) With the ebb and flow of war and constant anxiety about Russia's movements, time passed slowly enough. It was well known that the Turkish offensive was already considerably weakened
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and the lack of means of transport was an open secret. Starvation and spotted fever raged at the Front as well as in the interior and the capital. Asiatic cholera even made its appearance in European Pera, but was fortunately successfully combated by vaccination.
Further decisive Russian victories on the west and the Gulf of Alexandretta were expected after the fall of Ersindjian, for the ambition and personal hatred against the Turks of the Grand Duke Nicolai Nicolajivitch, commanding the armies in Armenia, would probably stop short at nothing less than complete overthrow of the enemy. Simple-minded souls, whose geography was not their strong point, reckoned how long it would take the Russians to get from Anatolia and when the conquest of Constantinople would take place.
The less optimistic among those who were panting for final emancipation from the Young Turkish military yoke set their hopes on the entry of Rumania. In all circles Rumania's probable attitude was fairly clear, and no one ever doubted that she would be drawn into the war.
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In consequence of the new operations after Rumania's declaration of war, the revival of the offensive in Macedonia, and the events in Athens, all eyes were turned again to the ever-doubtful Greece. The Greek element, Ottoman and Hellenic combined, in Constantinople alone may be reckoned at several hundred thousand. Never were sympathies so great for Venizelos, never was the spirit of the Irredenta so outspoken as among the Greeks in Turkey, who had been the dupes since 1909 of every possible kind of Young Turkish intrigue. In contrast to the Armenians, the great mass of whom thought and felt as loyal Ottoman citizens right up to the very end when Talaat and Enver's policy of extermination set in against them—in contrast to these absolutely helpless and therefore all the more easy victims to the Turkish national lust of persecution, the attitude of the Greek citizens was all the more marked.
Since the Greeco-Turkish war of 1912-13 and the impetus given to Pan-Hellenism by the successful issue of the war, there is not one single Greek in either country—no matter what his social standing—that has not ardently
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looked forward to and desired the overthrow of Turkey. But the Greek is much too clever to let his feelings be seen; and he is not so unprotected as the Armenian. And so up to the present time the Turk has confined himself more to small intrigues against the Greek population, except in a few remote districts— more especially the shores of the Black Sea— where massacres like those organised among the Armenians have been carried out, but on a very much smaller scale.
Sympathy with Venizelos and the Irredentistic desire for Greece to throw in her lot with the Entente are counterbalanced, however, in the case of the Greeks living in Turkey, by grave anxiety as to their own welfare if it came to a break between the two countries. Turkish hatred of the Greeks knows no bounds, and it was no idle fear that made the Greeks in Constantinople tremble, in spite of their satisfaction politically, when the rumours were afloat in autumn 1916 of King Constantine's abdication and Greece's entry on the side of the Entente.
But the ideas as to how the Turks would act towards them in such a case were diametrically
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opposed even among those who had lived in the country a long time and knew the Turkish mind exactly. Many expected immediate Greek massacres on the largest scale; others, again, expected only brutal intrigues and chicanery, economic ruin; still others thought that nothing at all would happen, that the Turks were already too demoralised, and that at any rate in Pera the far superior Greek element would completely command the situation. This last I considered mere megalomaniac optimism in view of the fact that Turkey was still unbroken so far as things military were concerned, and I believe that those people were right who believed that Greece's entry on the side of the Entente would be the signal for the carrying out of atrocities against all Greeks, at any rate in the commercial world.
It would be interesting to know which idea the German authorities favoured. That the event would pass off without damage being done, they apparently did not believe, for in those days when Greece's decision seemed to be imminent, the former Goeben and the Breslau, which had been lying at Stenia on the Bosporus, were brought up with all speed and an-
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chored just off the coast with their guns turned on Pera, and the German garrison, as I knew from different officers, had orders to be prepared for an alarm.
Did the Germans think they were going to have to protect Turks or Greeks in the case of definite news from Athens? Was it Germany's intention to protect the European population, who had nothing to do with the impending political decision, although they might sympathise with it—was it Germany's intention to protect them, at any rate in this instance, from the Turkish lust of extermination? Had these two ships, now known as the Jawuz Sultan Selim and the Midilli, not belonged for a long time to the Imperial Ottoman Navy?
When Rumania flung off her shackles, there was great rejoicing in Pera, and even the greatest pessimists believed that relief was near and would be accomplished within two months at latest. But another and more terrible reverse absolutely destroyed the last shred of anti-Turkish hope, and the victories in Rumania, especially the fall of Bucharest, combined with the speech of the Russian minister
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Trepoff, had the effect of sending over solid to the side of the Government even the few who had hitherto, at least in theory, formed an opposition, although a powerless one.
Victories shared with the Bulgarians, too, did away with the last remains of unfriendly feelings towards that people and consolidated the Turko-Bulgarian Alliance. Indeed, one may say that for Turkey the third great phase of the war began with the removal of all danger of the fall of Constantinople through the collapse of the Rumanian forces.
The first comprised the time of the powerful attacks directed at the very heart of the Empire, its most vulnerable point, and ended with the English-French evacuation of Gallipoli. The second was the period of alternate successes and reverses, almost a time of stagnation, when practically all interest was centred on the Russian menace in Asia Minor and the efforts made to withstand it. It ended equally successfully with the removal of the Russian menace from the Balkans. The third will be the phase of increasing internal weakness, of the dissipation of strength through the sending of troops to Europe, of the successful renewal
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of the English offensive in Mesopotamia, perhaps even of an English-French offensive against Syria and of the final revolt of all the Arabian lands, ushered in by the events in the Hedjaz and the founding of a purely Arabian Caliphate. The third phase cannot last longer than the year 1917; it will mean the decision of the whole European war.
Stuermer, Harry. Two War Years in Constantinople. USA: George H. Doran