- Armenian Literature, History, Religion in in Russian
Harry Stuermer


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Anti-war and pro-Entente feelings among the Turks— Turkish pessimism about the war—How would Abdul-Hamid have acted?—A war of prevention against Russia—Russia and a neutral Turkey— The agreement about the Dardanelles—A peaceful solution scorned—Alleged criminal intentions on the part of the Entente; the example of Greece and Salonika—To be or not to be?—German influence— Turkey stakes on the wrong card—The results.

There has been no lack of cross currents against the war policy of the Young Turkish Government. Ever since the entry of Turkey into the war, there has been a deeply rooted and unshakeable conviction among all kinds and conditions of men, even in the circles of the Pashas and the Court—the people of Turkey take too little interest in politics and are composed of far too heterogeneous elements for there to be anything in the nature of what we call "public opinion"—that Turkey's alliance with the Central Powers was a complete

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mistake and that it can lead to no good. It is of course known that since the outbreak of war Turkey has not only been under martial law and in a state of siege, but that under the regime of a brutal military dictatorship, with its system of espionage, personal liberty has been practically null and void. Any expressions of disapproval, therefore, or agitations against the "committee" are naturally only possible in most intimate circles, and that with all secrecy. Little or nothing of the true opinions of this or that personage ever trickles through to publicity, and so it is utterly impossible, except from quite detached symptoms, to get any proper idea of what are the real thoughts and feelings of those cultured Turks who do not belong to the "Ittihad" and have no part in their system of pillage and aggrandisement.

In spite of the limited information available it will be worth while, I think, to go into these counter-streams a little more fully. In pretty well every grade of society and among all nationalities in Turkey, there is the conviction that the old Sultan Abdul-Hamid would never have committed the fateful error of declaring


war against the Entente and binding himself hand and foot to Germany. In the case of Turkey's remaining neutral, the Entente had formally promised her territorial integrity; Turkey refused. She felt herself driven to a war of prevention, principally through fear of the power of Russia. The statements made by those who agreed with Enver and Pasha and pushed for the war, that Turkey in the case of non-participation would be completely thrown on the mercy of a victorious Russia and that Russia's true aim in the war was the Dardanelles and Constantinople, have never been authenticated. There are still Turks, anti-Russian Turks, who even admitted this possibility, and yet believed the word of the Entente—at any rate of the Western Powers— and trusted to England's throwing her weight into the scale against Russia's plans of conquest, if Turkey remained neutral. They saw and still see no necessity for the Turkish Government to have entered on a war of prevention.

Russia's aim was the Straits and Constantinople—well and good. But Russia would by hook or by crook have had to come to a friendly

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agreement with Turkey and could not have simply broken a definite promise given by the combined Entente to Turkey. It would have been quite different if Russia had demanded Constantinople from the Western Powers as the price of her participation in the war against Germany; then, but only then, the Entente would perhaps have had to come to an agreement satisfying Russia on this head. But Russia had quite other ideas, and long before Turkey's entry into the war and without any prospects of getting Constantinople, she flung her whole weight against Germany and Austria right at the beginning of the war.

The treaty with regard to Constantinople between the Western Powers and Russia was not signed till six months after Turkey declared war, and England would certainly never have allowed Russia to encroach on a really neutral or sympathetically neutral Turkey. Then, but only then, there might have been some foundation in fact for the ideas one heard advanced by German-Turkish illusionists who would still have liked to believe that there was continual dissension within the Entente, even long after the official notification


of the Anglo-Russian treaty with regard to the Straits, and by some even after the speech of the Russian minister Trepoff, that the English occupation of the islands at the entrance to the Dardanelles, which could be made into a second Gibraltar, aimed chiefly at blocking the Straits and preventing Russia from gaining undisturbed possession of Constantinople. Specially optimistic people even look to that chimerical antagonism between Russia and England for the salvation of Turkey, should Germany be finally overcome.

Whether she liked it or not, then, Russia would have had to come to a friendly agreement with Turkey, had the latter remained neutral, in order to gain the desired goal. And this goal would have been necessarily limited, by the fact of Turkey's non-entry on the enemy side, rather to the stoppage of German Berlin-Baghdad efforts at expansion, the prevention of any strangulation of the enormous Russian trade in the south and desperate opposition to any attempt to keep Russia away from the Mediterranean, than to an attack on Turkey and her vital interests. And who knows whether under such an agreement, bound as

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it was to give Russia certain liberties and privileges in the Straits, Turkey also might not have got much in exchange, at any rate on financial lines, and might not also have obtained permission at last to develop Armenia by that west-to-east railway so long desired by the Turks and so strongly opposed by the Russians ?

Would the terrible bloodshed in the present war, the complete economic exhaustion entailed, and the risk of a doubtful outcome of the fight for existence or non-existence not have been far outweighed by the prospect, in the case of a friendly agreement with Russia, of seeing the orthodox cross again planted on the Hagia Sophia, an international régime established in Constantinople—with certain Russian privileges and the satisfaction of certain Russian moral demands, it is true, but otherwise nothing to disturb Turkish life in Stamboul or in any way prejudice Turkish prestige? Even the prospect of having to raze the forts on the Straits to the ground in order to give free access from the Mediterranean, or the necessity of having to inaugurate a more humane and beneficent policy in Armenia, perhaps with


European supervision over the carrying out of the reforms would surely have been preferable to the present state of affairs. These would all have ensured for Turkey a long period of peace, capital wealth and intellectual and social improvement, perhaps at the expense of a momentary hurt to her feelings,—but these had been far more severely wounded already, as, for example, when she had to look on helplessly while bit after bit of her Empire was torn from her. It would have been impossible for Russia to get more than this from Turkey had she remained neutral. Her sovereignty and territorial integrity would have been completely guaranteed.

But Turkey thought she had to stake all, her whole existence, on one card, and she staked on the wrong one, as is recognised now by thousands of intelligent Turks. Believers in the war policy followed by the Government make themselves hoarse maintaining that if Russia had not gradually overpowered a neutral Turkey to win Constantinople completely, at any rate the Entente would have finally forced her to join their side; in either case, therefore, war was inevitable. They point to Salonika, and,

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in face of all reason, maintain that the Entente Powers would in all probability have treated Turkey exactly as they treated Greece. They forget that their geographical position is entirely different, and would have a very different effect on military tactics. If Turkey had remained a sympathetic neutral, so would Bulgaria; or else the whole of the Balkan States, from Roumania and Bulgaria to Greece, would have joined the Entente right at the beginning. In either case there would have been no necessity at all for Turkey to join, for what military obligations had she to fulfil? The Entente would certainly never have driven Turkey to fight, simply to get the benefit of the Turkish soldiers available; there is no truth whatever in the statements circulated about unscrupulous compulsion with this end in view.

The benefit for the Entente of Turkey's sympathetic neutrality would have been so enormous that they would most certainly have been content with that. Neither in Germany nor in Turkey is there any doubt whatever in military circles that it was Turkey's entry into the war on the German side and her blocking


of the Straits, and so preventing Russia from obtaining supplies of ammunition and other war material, that has so far saved the Central Powers. Had Turkey remained neutral, constant streams of ammunition would have poured into Russia, Mackensen's offensive would have had no prospect at all of success, and Germany would have been beaten to all intents and purposes in 1915. The Turks do not scruple to let Germany feel that this is so on every suitable or unsuitable occasion.

The Entente would certainly never have moved a finger to disturb Turkey's sympathetic neutrality and drive her into war. There would have been tremendous material advantages for Turkey in such a neutrality. Instead of being impoverished, bankrupt, utterly exhausted, wholly lost, as she now is, she might have been far richer than Roumania has ever been. There is one thing quite certain, and that is that Abdul-Hamid would never have let this golden opportunity slide of having a stream of money pouring in on himself and his country. And certainly Turkey would not have lacked moral justification had she so acted.

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These considerations I have put forward rather from the Turkish anti-war point of view than from my own. They are opinions expressed hundreds of times by thoroughly patriotic and intelligent Turks who saw how the ever more intensive propaganda work of the German Ambassadors, first Marschall von Bieberstein, then Freiherr von Wangenheim, gradually wormed its way through opposition and prejudice, how the German Military Mission in Constantinople tried to turn the Russian hatred of Germany against Turkey instead, how, finally, those optimists and jingoists on the "Committee," who knew as little about the true position of affairs throughout the world as they did of the intentions of the Entente or the means at their own disposal, proceeded to guide the ship of State more and more into German waters, without any reference to their own people, in return for promises won from Germany of personal power and material advantage. These were those days of excitement and smouldering unrest when Admiral von Souchon of the Goeben and the Breslau, with complete lack of discipline towards his superior, Djemal Pasha, arranged with the


German Government to pull off a coup without Djemal's knowledge—chiefly because he was itching to possess the "Pour le Mérite" order— and sailed off with the Turkish Fleet to the Black Sea. (I have my information from the former American Ambassador in Constantinople, Mr. Morgenthau, who was furious at the whole affair.)1

These were the days when Enver and Talaat threw all their cards on the table in that fateful game of To Be or Not to Be, and brought on their country, scarcely yet recovered from the bloodshed of the Balkan War, a new and more terrible sacrifice of her manhood in a war extending over four, and later five, fronts. The whole result of this struggle for existence depended on final victory for Germany and that was becoming daily more doubtful; in fact, Ottoman troops had at last to be dispatched by German orders to the Balkans and Galicia.

1 Djemal Pasha learnt the news that Admiral von Souchon had bombarded Russian ports, and so made war inevitable, one evening at the Club. Pale with rage, he sprang up and said: "So be it; but if things go wrong, Souchon will be the first to be hanged."

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Turkey had, too, to submit to the ignominy of making friends with her very recent enemy and preventing imminent military catastrophe by handing over the country along the Maritza, right up to the gates of the sacred city of Adrianople, to the Bulgarians. She had to look on while Armenia was conquered by the Russians; while Mesopotamia and Syria, in spite of initial successes, were threatened by English troops; while the "Holy War" came to an untimely end, the most consecrated of all Islam's holy places, Mecca, fell away from Turkey, the Arabs revolted and the Caliphate was shattered; while her population in the Interior endured the most terrible sufferings, and economic and financial life tended slowly and surely towards complete and hopeless collapse.

Not even yet, indeed now less than ever, is there any general acceptance among the people of the views held by Enver and Talaat and their acolytes. Not yet do intelligent, independent men believe the fine phrases of these minions of the "Committee," who are held in leading strings by these dictators partly through gifts of money, office, or the oppor-


tunity to enrich themselves at the expense of the people, partly through fear of the consequences should they revolt, or of those domestic servants who call themselves deputies and senators. On the contrary, it is no exaggeration to say that three-quarters of the intelligent out-and-out Turkish male population—quite apart from Levantines, Greeks, and Armenians— and practically the entire female population, who are more sensitive about the war and whose hearts are touched more deeply by its immeasurable suffering, have either remained perfectly friendly to England and France or have become so again through terrible want and suffering.

The consciousness that Turkey has committed an unbounded folly has long ago been borne in upon wide circles of Turks in spite of falsified reports and a stringent censorship. There would be no risk at all in taking on a wager that in private conversation with ten separate Turks, in no way connected with the "Committee," nine of them will admit, as soon as they know there is no chance of betrayal, that they do not believe Turkey will win, and that, with the exception of the much-feared

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Russia, they still feel as friendly as ever towards their present enemies. "Quoi qu'il arrive, c'est toujours la pauvre Turquie qui va payer le pot cassé." ("Whatever happens, it's always poor Turkey that'll have to pay the piper") and "Nous avons fait une grande gaffe" ("We have put our foot in it") were the kind of remarks made in every single political discussion I ever had in Constantinople —even with Turks.

So much for the men, who judge with their reason. What of the women? The one sigh of cultured Turkish women, up to the highest in the land—who should have a golden book written in their honour for their readiness to help, their sympathy, and humanity in this war—is: "When shall we get rid of the Boches; when will our good old friends, the English and the French, come back to us?" Nice results, these, of German propaganda, German culture, German brotherhood of arms! What a sad and shameful story for a German to have to tell! Naturally the drastic system of the military dictatorship precludes the public expression of such feelings, but one needs only have seen with one's own eyes the


looks so often cast by even real Turkish cultured society at the German Feldgrauen who often marched in close formation through the streets of Constantinople—for a time they used to sing German soldiers' songs, until that was prohibited at the express wish of the Turkish Government to see how the land lies.

There was a marked and ill-concealed contrast in the coldness shown to Imperial German officers and the lavish affection showered on the Austrians and Hungarians who used for a time often to pass through Constantinople on their way to the Dardanelles or Anatolia with their heavy artillery. They were a great deal more sociable than their German comrades, and one could not fail to note the significance of such freely voiced comments as "N'est-ce pas, ils sont charmants les Autrichiens?" ("The Austrians are delightful, aren't they?") The sight of us Germans, especially the very considerable German garrison stationed for a time in the Capital, awakened in the Turks, however much they might recognise the military necessity for their presence, remarkable ideas about the future "German Egyptising of Turkey," and everyone blamed Enver Pasha

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as the man responsible for Germany's penetrating thus far.

A Turk in a high official position—whose name I shall naturally not divulge—even went so far as to say to me in an intimate personal discussion we were having one day between friend and friend: "We Turks are and will always remain, in spite of the war, pro-English and pro-French so far as social and intellectual life is concerned; and it would need twenty years of hard propaganda work on Germany's part, quite different from her present methods, to change this point of view, if it ever could be changed." He went on to recall the time of the pro-English era, and the enthusiastic demonstrations that had taken place at the Sirkedji station when the horses were taken out of the English Ambassador's carriage. "I was there myself," he said, "and believe me, apart from the war, heaps of us are at bottom still of the same mind." And, growing heated, he added: "What is your Embassy, tell me? Is it really an Embassy? No representation, no intimate intercourse with us, or at best only with your political agents, no personal charm, nothing but brusque


demands and a most humiliating economic neglect of the Turkish population. The English and the French and even the Russians would treat us quite differently."

This man is no exception in his ideas. He is a thorough Young Turk, who holds with the "Committee" through thick and thin and has to thank them for a very pleasant billet, but he is, besides, a youngish man with a modern European education. He is thoroughly imbued, as are all of his kind, with modern French ideas, and even the war cannot alter that. It only needs the final collapse of the Central Powers, and then the break-down of the whole political system under the direction of these jingoistic emancipationists who think they can get on without Europe, and the Turks will all, every one of them, be as thoroughly pro-English and pro-French as they ever were and will hate Germany and everything German with fanatical hatred.

Towards Hungary, their blood relation, they will probably retain some friendliness in memory of their alliance in the Great War and the cause of Turanism; they will be quite indifferent to Bulgaria; they will lose their fear of

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Russia and come to an agreement with her; but after the war there will be no bridging the gulf between Turkey and Germany, and if Germany, on the conclusion of peace, is allotted any part of smaller Turkey by the rest of the European Powers, she will have to reckon for many a long year with the very chilly relations that will exist between Germans and Turks. Even those who went heart and soul into the war as a war of defence against Turkey's powerful northern neighbour foresee that when peace is declared Turkey will, so far as her enormous indebtedness to Germany permits, rather throw herself on the mercy of England and France and America and beg from them the capital necessary for reconstruction and for freeing them from the hated German influence-—an aversion which is already evident in hundreds of different ways. Even Germany is beginning to recognise the existence of this tendency, which, hand in hand with the jingoistic attempt to turkify commercial life, bodes ill for German activity in Turkey after the war.

These are the opinions of the educated classes. The people, however, the poor, igno-


rant Turkish people, were ready long ago to accept any solution that would liberate them from their terrible sufferings. The Turkish people have not the mental calibre of our German people which will perhaps make them fight on, just for the sake of leaving no stone unturned, even after it is quite evident that they are tending towards final collapse. The stake for which they are fighting is not so valuable to this agricultural people, who with an inferior and extortionate set of rulers have never been able really to enjoy life, as it is to the population of a modern industrial country like Germany, where every political gain or loss has a direct result on their own pockets; defeat will certainly have much less effect on the Oriental. One can therefore speak with confidence of a general longing for the end of the war at any price. The Turks have had quite enough of suffering, and there are limits to what even these willing and mutely resigned victims can bear.

Nevertheless it is quite certain that the courageous Turkish soldier, in obedience to iron discipline and in unconditional submission to his Padishah, will continue to defend his lost

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cause to the very last drop of his blood, with an unquestioning resignation that absolutely precludes the idea of any defection within the army. Only a purely political military revolution, originating with the better-informed officers, who now really no longer believe in ultimate victory, is within the bounds of possibility.

But the most confiding endurance on the part of the Turkish soldier, even when the military cause has long been lost, will not hinder this same soldier, when he is once more back in his own home as a peasant, from realising that European influence and European civilisation are a very competent protection against the miserably retrogressive Turkish rule, and that he has drawn more material profit from that single example of European activity, the Baghdad Railway, than from all Turkish official reforms put together, and so would willingly see Europe exercising a powerful control in his country. He would accept the military collapse of his country which he had so long and so bravely defended, and the dramatic political changes, with a quietly submissive "Inshallah." And although, deprived as he is of every kind


of information and without even the beginnings of knowledge, he perhaps still believes in ultimate victory for the Padishah, he will probably heave a sigh of relief when the unexpected collapse comes, and he will not take long to understand what it means for him: freedom and happiness and an undreamt-of material well-being under strong European influence.

The late successor to the throne, Prince Yussuf Izzedin Effendi, was the highest of those in high authority who openly represented the pessimistic anti-war tendency. It was for this that he was murdered or perhaps made to commit suicide by Enver Pasha. The whole truth about this tragic occurrence can only be sifted to the bottom when the dictators of the "Committee" are no longer in their place and light finally breaks on Turkey. Whether it was murder or suicide, the death of the successor to the throne is one of the most dramatic scandals of Turkish history, and Enver Pasha has his blood, as well as the blood of so many others, on his head. As far as is possible during the war, Europe has already collected all the information available on the subject. I myself was in Constantinople when the tragic oc-

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currence took place, and I can speak so far from personal experience.

In connection with this sensational event, the world has already heard how Yussuf Izzedin was kept for years under the despotic Abdul-Hamid shut off from the world as a semi-prisoner in his beautiful Konak of Sindjirli-kuyu, just outside the gates of Constantinople, where he became a sufferer from acute neurasthenia. In recent years, however, his health had improved and, although latently hostile to the men of the "Committee" and their politics, he had come more into the foreground, especially after the recapture of Adrianople, which he visited with full pomp and ceremony as Crown Prince of the Turkish Empire. While the Gallipoli campaign was going on, he even made a journey to the front to greet his soldiers. Early one morning he was found lying dead in a pool of his own blood with a severed artery. He had received his death wound in exactly the same place and exactly the same way as his father, Sultan Abdul-Aziz, who fell a victim to Abdul-Hamid's hatred. The political significance of Yussuf Izzedin's death is perfectly clear. What we want to do now is


to demonstrate Enver Pasha's moral culpability in the matter and to show how he was more or less directly the murderer of this quiet, cultured, highly respected, and thoroughly patriotic man, who was some day to ascend the throne of Turkey.

So much at least seems to be clear, that Prince Izzedin, who was naturally interested in retaining his accession to the throne undisturbed and who in spite of his neurasthenia was man enough to stand up for his own rights, foresaw ruin for his kingdom by Turkey's entry into the war on the side of Germany. He was more far-seeing than the careless adventurers and narrow-minded fanatics of the "Committee" and recognised that the letting-go of the treasured Pan-Islamic traditions of old Sultan Hamid was a grave mistake which would lead to the alienation of the Arabs, and which endangered both the Ottoman Caliphate and Ottoman rule in the southern parts of the Empire. He could not console himself for the evacuation of the territory round Adrianople, right up to the gates of the sacred city, which meant much to him as the symbol of national enlightenment. He had a real per-

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sonal dislike for upstarts of the stamp of Enver and Talaat. Apart from these differences of opinion and personal sympathies and antipathies, deep-rooted though these undoubtedly were, Yussuf Izzedin was and always would have been a thorough "Osmanli" with fiery nationalistic feelings, who wished for nothing but the good of his Empire and his country. And yet he was got rid of.

It would be difficult for the present Turkish Government to prove that the successor to the throne, apart from his feeling of sorrow that his country had been drawn into the war, apart from his readiness to conclude an honourable separate peace at the first possible moment, did anything which might have caused them trouble. The officials of the Turkish Government had themselves made repeated efforts through their Swiss Ambassadors to find out how the land lay, and whether they could conclude a separate peace; so they had no grounds at all for reproaching Prince Yussuf Izzedin, who, as a leader of this movement, naturally let no opportunity of this kind slide. But he was far too clever not to know that any attempt in this direction behind the backs of the present


Government would have no chance of success so long as Turkey was held under the iron fist of Germany.

Perhaps the "Committee" had something to fear for the future, when the time came for the reverses now regarded as inevitable. Yussuf would then make use of his powerful influence in many circles—notably among the discontented retired military men—to demand redress from the "Committee." Enver, true to his unscrupulous character, quite hardened to the sight of Turkish blood, and determined to stick to his post at all costs—for it was not only lucrative, but flattering to his vanity—was not the man to stick at trifles with a poor neurasthenic, who under the present military dictatorship was absolutely at his mercy. He therefore decided on cold-blooded murder.

The Prince, well aware of the danger that threatened him, tried at the last moment to leave the country and flee to safety. He had even taken his ticket, and intended to start by the midday Balkan train next day to travel to Switzerland via Germany. He was forbidden to travel. Whether, feeling himself thus driven into a corner and nothing but death at the hand

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of Enver's creatures staring him in the face, he killed himself in desperation, or whether, as thousands of people in Constantinople firmly believe, and as would seem to be corroborated by the generally accepted, although of course not actually verified, tale of a bloody encounter between the murderers and the Prince's bodyguard, with victims on both sides, he was actually assassinated, is not yet settled, and it is really not a matter of vast importance.

One thing is clear, and that is that Izzedin Effendi did not pay with his life for any illoyal act, but merely for his personal and political opposition to Enver. He is but one on this murderer's long list of victims. The numerous doctors, all well known creatures of the "Committee" or easily won over by intimidation, who set their names as witnesses to this "suicide as a result of severe neurasthenia"— a most striking and suspicious similarity to the case of Abdul-Aziz—have not prevented one single thinking man in Constantinople from forming a correct opinion on the matter. The wily Turkish Government evidently chose this kind of death, just like his father's, so that they could diagnose the symptoms as those of


incurable neurasthenia. History has already formed its own opinion as to how much freewill there was in Abdul-Aziz' death! The opinions of different people about Prince Yussuf's death only differ as to whether he was murdered or compelled to commit suicide. "On l'a suicidé" was the ironical and frank comment of one clever Old Turk. We will leave it at that.

The funeral of the successor to the throne was a most interesting sight. I sent an article on it to my paper at the time, which of course had only very, very slight allusions to anything of a sinister character; but it did not find favour with the censor at the Berlin Foreign Office. The editorial staff of the paper evidently saw what I was driving at, and wrote to me: "We have revised and touched up your report so as at least to save the most essential part of it;" but even the altered version did not pass the censor's blue pencil. But I had at any rate the moral satisfaction of knowing that of all the papers with correspondents in the Turkish capital, mine, the Kölnische Zeitung, was the only one that could publish nothing, not a single line, about this important and

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highly sensational occurrence, for I simply wrote nothing more. That was surely clear enough!

When in 1913, after the unsuccessful counter-revolution, Mahmud Shevket Pasha was assassinated and was going to be buried in Constantinople, the "Committee" issued invitations days beforehand to all foreign personages. This time nothing of the sort happened; and even the Press representatives were not invited to be present. On the former occasion everything possible was done, by putting off the interment as long as possible and repeatedly publishing the date, by lengthening the route of the funeral procession, to give several thousands of people an opportunity of taking part in the ceremony.

This time, however, the authorities arranged the burial with all speed, and the very next day after the sensational occurrence the body was hurried by the shortest way, through the Gülhané Park, to the Mausoleum of Sultan Mahmud-Moshee. The coffin had been quietly brought in the twilight the evening before from the Kiosk of Sindjirlikuyu on the other side of Pera on the Maslak Hill, to the top of


the Serail. Along the whole route, however, wherever the public had access, there were lines of police and soldiers; and the bright uniforms of the police who were inserted in groups of twenty between every single row of the procession of Ministers, members of the "Committee" and delegaters who walked behind the coffin, were really the most conspicuous thing in the whole ceremony. Enver Pasha passed quite close to me, and neither I, nor my companions, could fail to note the ill-concealed expression of satisfaction on his face.

The most beautiful thing about this whole funeral, however, was the visit paid me by the Secretary-General of the Senate, the minute after I had reached home (and I had driven by the shortest way). With a zeal that might have surprised even the simplest minded of men, he offered to tell me about the Prince's life, lingering long and going into exhaustive detail over the well-known facts of his nervous ailment. Then, blushing at his own awkwardness and importunity, he begged me most earnestly to publish his version of all the details and circumstances of this tragic occurrence, "which no other paper will be in a posi-

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tion to publish." Naturally it was never written.

So, once more, in the late summer of 1916, Enver Pasha, who was so fond of discovering conspiracies and political movements in order to get rid of his enemies, and go scot free himself, had a fresh opportunity of reflecting, with even more foundation than usual, on the firmness of his position and the security of his own life.

It is perhaps time now to give a more comprehensive description of this man. We have already mentioned in connection with the failure of his Caucasus offensive that Enver has been extraordinarily overestimated in Europe. The famous Enver is neither a prominent intellectual leader nor a good organiser—in this direction he is far surpassed by Djemal Pasha —nor an important strategist. In military matters his positive qualities are personal courage, optimism, and, consequently, initiative which is never daunted by fear of consequences, also cold-bloodedness and determination; but he is entirely lacking in judgment, power of discrimination, and largeness of conception. From the German point of view he is particu-


larly valuable for his unquestioning and unconditional association with the Central Powers, his readiness to do anything that will further their cause, his pliability and his zeal in accommodating himself even to the most trenchant reforms. But it is just these qualities that make enemies for him among retired military men and among the people.

Regarded from a purely personal point of view, Enver Pasha is, in spite of the fulsome praise showered on him by Germans inspired by that most pliant implement, German militarism, one of the most repugnant subjects ever produced by Turkey. Even from a purely external point of view his appearance does not at all correspond with the picture of him generally accepted in Germany from flattering reports and falsified photographs. Small of stature, with quite an ordinary face, he looks rather, as one of my journalistic colleagues said, like a "gardener's boy" than a Vice-General and War Minister, and anyone who ever has the opportunity I have so often had, of looking really closely at him, will certainly be repelled by his look of vanity and cunning. It was really most painful to have to listen to him

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(he has always been a bad and monotonous speaker) in the Senate and the Lower House at the conclusion of the Dardanelles campaign reading his report in a weak, halting voice, but with the disdainful tone of a dictator. Every third word was an "I." Even the Turkish Press accorded this parliamentary speech a fairly frosty reception.

Besides this, Enver is one of the most coldblooded liars imaginable. Time and again there has been no necessity for him to say certain things in Parliament, or to make certain promises, but apparently he found cynical enjoyment in making the people and Parliament feel their whole inferiority in his eyes. What can one think, for example, of such performances as this? At the end of 1916 when the discussion about military service for those who had paid the exemption tax (bedel) was going on, he gave an unsolicited and solemn assurance before the whole House that he had no intention whatever of calling up certain classes until the Bill had been finally passed and that it would show that he was really desirous of sparing commercial life as far as possible in the calling up of men. Exactly two hours after


this speech the drum resounded through all the streets of Stamboul and Pera, calling up all those classes over which Enver had as yet no power of jurisdiction, and which he said he wanted to keep back because to tear them away from their employment would mean the complete disorganisation of the already sadly disordered commercial life of the country.

This was Talaat's opinion, too, and he offered a firm resistance to Enver's plan, which it appears had been introduced by command of the German Government. In this case, however, resistance was useless, and had to give way to military necessity. If Enver said something in Parliament—this at any rate was the general conclusion—one might be quite certain that exactly the opposite would take place. He has now gained for himself the reputation of being a liar and a murderer among all those who are not followers of the "Committee."

In contrast to Talaat, who is at least intelligent enough to keep up appearances and cunning enough to hold himself well in the background, Enver's personal lack of integrity in money matters is a subject of most shameful knowledge in Constantinople. It is pretty well

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generally known how he has made use of his position as Military Dictator to gain possession for himself of property worth thousands of pounds, and how in his financial dealings with Germany hundreds have found their way into his own pocket—up till the winter of 1915-1916, according to an estimate from confidential Turkish circles and from German sources I will not name, he had already managed to collect something like two million pounds, reckoned in English money. This son of a former lowly conducteur in the service of the Roads and Bridges Board, whose mother, as I have been assured by Turks is the case, plied in Stamboul the much-despised trade of "layer-out" of corpses, now lives in his Konak in more than princely luxury, with flowers and silver and gold on his table, having married, out of pure ambition, a very plain-looking princess. That is the true portrait of this much-coddled darling of the Young Turks, and latterly of the German people as well. This is the idol of so many admiring German women, who are bewitched by his more than adventurous career and the halo surrounding him which he has enhanced by every known


and unknown means of self-advertisement. Enver's character won for him in "Committee" circles personal dislike and bitter, though veiled, enmity even from his colleagues who were of exactly the same political persuasion as himself. Of his relations towards the infinitely more important Djemal Pasha we have already spoken; we shall speak in a moment of his relations to Talaat. In the world of the retired military men, however, who had been badgered about by Enver, neglected and simply forcibly pensioned off by hundreds before the war because of their divergent political opinions, and even thrown into the street, the War Minister was heartily hated. A very large part of them were of the same political views as the murdered successor to the throne, and their opinion of the Great War was as we have already indicated. They pointed bitterly to Enver as the all-too-pliable servant of Germany, who was only too ready to sacrifice the flower of Ottoman youth on those far battlefields of Galicia at a sign from the German Staff, and open door after door to German influence in the Interior with-

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out even attempting to protect the land of his fathers from invasion and decay.

As we have said, political revolutions in Turkey usually start in military circles, not among the people, and there was an actual attempt in this direction in the autumn of 1916. Either by chance or by someone's betraying the plot, it was discovered by Enver in time, and the number of military men and Old Turkish personages associated with them, imprisoned in Constantinople alone, reached six hundred. At the head of the movement stood Major Yakub Djemil Bey.

During the whole of the summer of 1916 Enver's position had been looked upon as quite insecure. The knowledge of his greed in money matters, his tactless pushing, and his ruthless brutality had totally alienated a wide circle of people, and many believed that he would soon have to resign.

In addition to this, a deep inward antagonism reigned between him and Talaat, the real leader and by far the most important statesman of Turkey, which was far more than a cleverly veiled personal dislike. There was a constant struggle for power going on be-


tween the two men. By the end of May the crisis had become pretty acute, although outward appearances were still preserved and only well-informed circles knew anything at all about the matter. Enver had at that time to hurry back from the Irak, where he was on a visit of inspection with the German Chief of Staff and the Military Attaché, in order to safeguard his post. In confidential circles, the outbreak of open enmity between the two was fully expected; but this time again Talaat was the cleverer. He felt that, in spite of his own greater influence and following, in spite of his real superiority to Enver, he might perhaps, if he tried conclusions with him while he was still in command of the army, find himself the loser and, in view of Enver's murderous habits, pay for his rashness with his life. So he decided not to risk a decisive battle just yet. He was too patriotic, also, to let things come to an open break during the difficult time of war. Talaat disappeared for a short time on a visit of inspection to Angora, and things settled down to their old way again.

There is still internal conflict going on. But Enver, with boundless ambition and no fine

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feelings of honour, clings to his post, and has shown by the way he dealt with the instigators of the conspiracy mentioned above that nothing but force will move him from his post, and that he will never yield to public opinion or the criticism of his colleagues. He was troubled by no qualms, in spite of the widely circulated opinion that he would certainly jeopardise his life if he went on in the same ruthless way towards the retired military men. He simply had the leader, Yakub Djemil Bey, hanged like a common criminal, and the whole of his followers, for the most part superior officers and highly respected persons, turned into soldiers of the second class, and put in the front-line trenches.

Enver's removal would not alter the whole Young Turkish regime much, but it would take from it much of its ruthless barbarity, and its most repugnant representative would vanish from the picture. It would also be a severe blow for Germany and her militaristic policy of driving Turkey mercilessly to suicide. It would be a godsend to the anti-German Djemal Pasha. From a political point of view it would mean, far more than Talaat's appoint-


ment as Grand Vizier, the absolute supremacy of that statesman.

At bottom probably less ruthless than Enver and certainly cleverer, there is no doubt but that he would pursue his jingoistic ideas in the realm of race-politics, but at any rate he would not want any military system of frightfulness. Enver's removal from office will come within the range of near possibility as soon as the new British operations against Southern Palestine and Mesopotamia have produced a real victory. Turkey is not in a good enough military position to prevent this, and the whole world will soon recognise that it is this servant of Germany, this careless optimist and very mediocre strategist who is to blame for the inexorable breaking-up of the Ottoman Empire.

The contrast I have noted between Enver and Talaat provides the opportunity for saying a few words about Talaat, now Pasha and Grand Vizier, and by far the most important man of New Turkey. As Minister of the Interior, he has guided the whole fate of his country, except in purely military matters, as uncrowned king. It is he more than anyone else who is the originator of the whole system of

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home politics. Solidity of character, earnestness, freedom from careless optimism, and conspicuous power of judgment distinguish him most favourably from Enver, who possesses the opposite of all these qualities. A high degree of intelligence, an enormous knowledge of men, an exceptional gift of organisation and tireless energy combined with great personal authority, prudence and reserve, calm weighing of the actual possibilities—in a word, all the qualities of the real statesman—raise him head and shoulders above the whole of his colleagues and co-workers. It would be unjust to doubt his ardent patriotism or the honesty of his ideas and intentions. Talaat's character is so impressive that one often hears even Armenians, the victims of his own original policy of persecution, speak of him with respect, and I have even heard the opinion expressed that had it not been for Talaat's cleverness, the Committee would have gone much further with their mischievous policy.

But his high intellectual abilities do not prevent him from suffering from that same plague of narrow-minded, jingoistic illusion peculiar to the Pan-Turks. He is as if intoxicated with


a race-fanaticism that stifles all nobler emotions. Talaat is too methodical and clever not to avoid all intentional ruthlessness, but in practice his system, which he follows out with inflexible logic to the bitter end, turns out to be just as brutal as Enver's intrinsically more brutal policy. And although he accommodates himself outwardly to modern European methods and knows how to utilise them, the ethics of his system are out-and-out Asiatic. When Talaat speaks in the "Committee," there is very rarely the slightest opposition. He has usually prepared and coached the "Committee" so well beforehand that he can to all appearance keep in the background and only follow the majority. With the exception of a few military affairs, everything has always taken place that he has proposed in Parliament.

Beside this man, whose sparkling eyes, massive shoulders, broad chest, clean-cut profile and exuberant health denote the whole unbounded energy of the dictator, the good-natured, degenerate, and epileptically inclined Sultan, Mehmed V, "El Ghazi" ("the hero"), is but a weak shadow. But if we fully recognise Talaat's high intellectual qualities, we should

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like all the more to emphasise that he must be held personally responsible more than all the others for everything that is now happening in Turkey, so far as it is not of a military character. The spirit reigning in Turkey to-day, the spirit of Pan-Turkish jingoism, is Talaat's spirit. The Armenian persecutions are his very own work. And when the day of reckoning comes for the Turkey of the "Committee of Union and Progress," it is to be hoped that Europe as judge and chastiser and avenger of an outraged civilisation, will lay the chief blame on Talaat Pasha rather than on his far weaker colleague Enver.

All his eminent qualities, however, do not prevent this intellectual leader of Turkey, the most important man, beside the Sultan, in the land, from showing signs of something that is typical of the whole "Committee" clique with their dictatorial power, and which we may perhaps be allowed to call parvenuishness. At all points we see the characteristics of the parvenu in this statesman and one-time adventurer and in these creatures of the "Committee" who have recently become wealthy by certain abuses—I would remind you only of the Requisitions—


and by a lucrative adherence to the ruling clique. There are of course individual cases of distinguished men of good birth throwing in their lot with the "Committee," but they are extremely rare, and they only help to give an even worse impression of the average Young Turk belonging to the Government. Their past is usually extremely doubtful, and their careers have been somewhat varied.

No one of course would ever think of setting it down as a black mark against Talaat, for example, that he had to work his way up to his present supreme position from the very modest occupation of postman and postal coach conductor on the Adrianople road, via telegraph assistant and other branches of the Post Office; on the contrary, such intelligence and energy are worthy of the highest praise. But Talaat's case is a comparatively good one, and it is not so much their low social origin that is a drawback to these political leaders of Turkey, as their complete lack of education in statesmanship and history, which unfits them for the high rôle they are called upon to fill. Naturally it is not exactly pleasant when a man like Herr Paul Weitz, the correspondent of

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the Frankfurter Zeitung, and a political agent, can boast with a certain amount of justification that he has given tips of money to many of the present members of the "Committee"—in the real sense of the word, not in the political meaning of backshish! It is no wonder, then, that German influence won its way through so easily!

Even yet Talaat's lowly origin is a drawback to him socially, and, in spite of his jovial manner and his complete confidence in his own powers, he sometimes feels himself so unsure that he rather avoids social duties. Probably one of the reasons of his long delay in accepting the post of Grand Vizier—he was already definitely marked out for it in the summer of 1915—was his own inner consciousness that his whole past life unfitted him socially for the duties of such an office. That he has now decided to accept it, is only the logical sequence of the system of absolute Turkification, which, with its plan of muzzling and supplanting all non-Turkish elements, had of course to get rid of the Egyptian element in the Government, represented by Prince Halim Saïd, the late


Grand Vizier, and his brother, the late Minister of Public Works.

There are far more outstanding cases of incompatibility between social upbringing and present activity among the "Committee." I will simply take the single example of the Director General of the Press, Hikmet Bey. Mischievous Pera still gives him the nickname of "Sütdji" ("milkman"), because—although it is no reproach to him any more than in Talaat's case—he still kept his father's milk shop in the Rue Tepé Bashi in Pera before he managed to get himself launched on a political career by close adherence to the Committee. Sometimes, of course, one inherits from a low social origin far worse things than social inferiority. Perhaps Djemal Pasha's murderous instincts are to be traced to the fact that his grandfather was the official hangman in the service of Sultan Mahmud, and that his father still retained the nick-name of "hangman" among the people.

One only needs to cast a glance at the Young Turks who are the leaders of fashion in the "Club de Constantinople"—after the English and French members are absent—with Ger-

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man officers who have been admitted as temporary members at a reduced subscription, and one will find there, as in the more exclusive "Cercle d'Orient," and in the "Yachting Club" in Prinkipo in the summer-time, individuals belonging to the "Committee" whose lowly origin and bad manners are evident at the first glance. Talaat, who is himself President of the Club, knows exactly how to get his adherents elected as members without one of them being blackballed. People who used not to know what an International Club was, and who perhaps, in accordance with their former social status, got as far as the vestibule to speak to the Concierge, are now great "club men" and can afford, with the money they have amassed in "clique" trade and by the famous system of Requisitions, to play poker every evening for stakes of hundreds of Turkish pounds. One single kaleidoscopic glance into the perpetual whirl of any one of these clubs, which used to be places of friendly social intercourse for the best European circles, is quite sufficient to see the class of degenerate, greedy parvenus that rule poor, bleeding, helpless, exhausted Tur-


key. One cannot but be filled with a deep sympathy for this unfortunate land.

The Turks of decent birth are disgusted at these parvenus, I have had conversations with many an old Pasha and Senator, true representatives of the refined and kindly Old Turkish aristocracy, and heard many a word of stern disapproval of the "Committee" quite apart from their divergent political opinions. There is a whole distinguished Turkish world in Constantinople who completely "boycott Enver and his consorts socially, although they have to put up with their caprices politically. "I don't know Enver at all," or "Je ne connais pas ces gens-là" ("I don't know these people"), are phrases that one very often hears repeated with infinite disdain. In all these cases it is the purely personal side—birth and manners—that repels them.

Socially the cleft between the two camps is far deeper than it is politically, for many of these same people accommodate themselves, though with reluctance in their heart, to sharing at least formally as Senators in the responsibility for the present Young Turkish policy. They have to do so, for otherwise they

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would simply be flung mercilessly by Enver's Clique on to the streets to beg for bread. This is how it comes about to-day that, with very few exceptions, the Senators, who, to tell the truth, have as little practical say as the members of the Lower House, are all outwardly complaisant followers of the "Committee." The more doctrinal, but at any rate courageous and honourable opposition of Ahmed Riza is likewise of very little significance. Once, about the middle of December, 1916, Enver even went so far as to hurl the epithet "shameless dog" at Ahmed Riza in the Senate without being called to order by the President.

The Deputies are also, with even fewer exceptions than the Senators—only one or two are reasonable men—all slaves pure and simple of Enver and Talaat. The Lower House is nothing but a set of employees paid by the Clique. In other countries now at war the Lower House may have sunk to the level of a laughing-stock; in Turkey it has become the instrument of crime. And it is these same toadies and parasites, who daily carry out this military dictator's will in Parliament, that he


daily treats with scarcely veiled irony and open and complete disdain. These are the "representatives of the people" in Turkey in wartime!


Source: Stuermer, Harry. Two War Years in Constantinople. USA: George H. Doran Company, 1917.
Provided by: Aram Arkun, Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center
Scanned by: Karen Vrtanesyan
OCR: Lina Kamalyan

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