Enver Pasha

Nation: Turkey

Military Leader

Birth Date: November 22, 1881
Turkey Enver Pasha Military Leader Cover
I. Birth and Education
II. Young Turks
III. Assumption of Turkish Army Leadership
[British White Paper] Interrogation of Egyptian Policeman
[American Review Aug 1915] Interview with Enver Pasha
[Djemal Pasha Memoirs] Enver Pasha in World War I
[Morgenthau] Enver Pasha on the Armenians
I. Birth and Education
Enver Bey (later Enver Pasha) was born in Istanbul on November 22, 1881. His father was a pure but poor Turk, and his mother was an Albanian. According to one tale, the father was a wood-turner who did odd jobs around the Yildiz-Kiosk.

Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II had a fondness for carpentry and woodwork. Attracted by the wood-turner's efficiency, he promised that the son - who was later to dethrone him - should have a military education.

Enver in due time entered the military academy at Monastir, where he became a close student of history and military science. Later he studied in France and Germany, where he learned to speak French and German fluently.

Enver Pasha, Turkish leader. (1920). In M. C. Darnton (Ed.), Harper's pictorial library of the world war (Vol. 9, p. 270). Harper & Bros: New York & London.
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II. Young Turks
When Enver returned to Turkey from his studies, he joined the Young Turk movement, becoming the leader of the Committee of Union and Progress. Their supposed objective was limitation of the power of the Sultan and the establishment of a constitution. When in 1908 the time for action came, Enver disguised as a lemonade-peddler slipped through the Sultan's military lines and passed word to the committee at Salonica. The Young Turks won, and at the burial of the victims of the revolution, Enver made his famous speech: "We are brothers. Arbitrary government has disappeared. Under the same blue sky we are all equal. We all glory in being Ottomans."

Although the idea of equality of races in Turkey soon proved to be an iridescent dream, Enver's speech achieved one material result. The princess who was later to become his wife first saw and heard the poetic young orator here. Meanwhile, Enver returned to Berlin as a military attache, only to be recalled after a year by a counter-revolution. He hurried home to Constantinople and had Abdul Hamid II deposed and replaced by his younger brother, Mohammed V, who was later to become Enver's relative by marriage.

Enver Pasha, Turkish leader. (1920). In M. C. Darnton (Ed.), Harper's pictorial library of the world war (Vol. 9, pp. 270-272). Harper & Bros: New York & London.
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III. Assumption of Turkish Army Leadership
At the beginning of January 1914, Enver Bey was given the portfolio of war in the Turkish cabinet and promoted to the rank of brigadier general, with the title of "Pasha". As a conspicuous Young Turk, Enver Pasha, as he was now called, was expected to use his official powers in order to strengthen the hold which the Committee of Union and Progress had upon the army; but public opinion was not quite prepared for the sweeping exercise of power with which he inaugurated his administration. Assuming to himself the office of Chief of The General Staff, and calling to his side Hafiz Hakki Bey (former military attache at Vienna), Enver Pasha proceeded to place on the retired list almost 300 army officers, among whom were Ibrahim Pasha, Mahmud Mukhtar Pasha, and other famous leaders. Over 500 subalterns and 200 civil employees in the Department of War were also discharged.

A second feature of Enver Pasha's regime in the War Office was the predominance of German influence. Enver Pasha himself had served as a military attache in Germany, and his most trusted lieutenant had been military attache at Vienna. Arrangements were made for a Germany military mission to Turkey, and the German general, Liman von Sanders, was to assume command of the first Ottoman Army corps while directing a thorough reorganization of the Turkish land forces. So strenuous a protest was made by Russia and the other powers of the Triple Entente against this triumph of German military influence, that General von Sanders was deprived of his command and installed as inspector-general of the Ottoman army, with the rank of marshal, for five years. With the aid of other German officers, during the summer of 1914, he carried out a general reform and redistribution of the Turkish army.

Turkey. (1915). In F. M. Colby (Ed.), The new international year book: a compendium of the world's progress for the year 1914 (p. 709). New York: Dodd, Mead and Company.
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[British White Paper] Interrogation of Egyptian Policeman
From Correspondence Respecting Events Leading to the Rupture of Relations with Turkey.

Presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of His Majesty. November 1914.

[Published as a British White Paper, MISCELLANEOUS, No. 13 (1914). Cd. 7628.]

[Cf. No. 181, encl., p. 215.]

Enclosure I in No. 125.
Interrogatories of Lieutenant Mors.

Mulazim Awal Robert Casimir Otto Mors, Egyptian Police, examined states:

"At Constantinople I was acquainted with a German official who was formerly in the German diplomatic agency in Cairo. This gentleman, whose name I must refuse to give, was in agreement with the Turkish Government on the subject of military operations in Egypt, and as he knew that I knew Egypt very well, he conducted me to Enver Pasha, the Turkish Minister of War. The latter questioned me on the military situation; if it were true that the British had disarmed the Egyptian army, &c. I replied that I did not know, and thought it unlikely. I then left the presence of Enver, and he remained talking with the German official. I forgot to mention that he asked me if I would participate in operations in Egypt. I replied that I would only participate in open military action. I was afterwards informed by the German official that Enver had sent officers from the Turkish army to Egypt to prepare native public opinion for action in favour of Turkey. I also heard from the German official that one of Enver's emissaries was an officer of the Egyptian army, but I did not know his name then. I must mention here that I understood from various things and from conversations that I overheard between the said German official and various people that he had the intention of sending printed matters and explosives to Egypt. I also understood that it was the Egyptian army officer who was charged with the transport of these things..."

Alexandria, September 28, 1914.

The Times. (1919). Correspondence respecting events leading to the rupture of relations with Turkey. In The Times documentary history of the war diplomatic part 3 (Vol. IX, pp. 162-163). London: Printing House Square.
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[American Review Aug 1915] Interview with Enver Pasha
From an article and interview of Enver Pasha by Lewis R. Freeman in the August 1915 issue of The American Review of Reviews:

A Magnetic Personality

It was, I think, K's card of introduction, coupled with the fact that I brought late news of the doings on the Tripolo-Egyptian frontier and in the deserts beyond Damascus and Aleppo, that finally won me an interview with Enver Bey at the time when men with more weighty European credentials than mine were being put off from day to day. I found him all that K had said - small in stature, but remarkably well set up, strikingly handsome, and with an indefinable, but compelling, magnetism, which made itself felt through the curtain of dignified reserve which masks the real Enver. At a casual meeting, this reserve, with a certain characteristic detachment of manner, might well impress one as the young patriot's dominating trait, and such, indeed, was my feeling until a chance remark I made regarding the way in which Arabs of Mesopotamia and Syria were clamoring to be led to Tripoli, how several had even worked their way across to Aleppo with my caravan, brought a warm flush of color to his cheeks and a glint of moisture to his eyes.

"Ah, my brave Arabs!" he cried affectionately. "If I could only gather them in from all their desert ways, and arm them properly, then," - and he waved his hand contemptuously toward the hills beyond which lay the Italian outposts - "these would be swept away like sand before sirocco. But I fear it cannot be. They are drifting in by tens and scores, where I need hundreds and thousands."

Much that we spoke of was germane only to the events of the moment, and I am, therefore, setting down only that which was illuminative of Enver himself or of happenings which have followed.

Why a German Alliance Was Preferred

"The plans of all of the powers have always been entirely selfish as far as Turkey was concerned," said Enver, with a bitterness not incomprehensible under the circumstances. "For years Russia has coveted Constantinople, to say nothing of the rest of Turkey along the Black Sea and south of the Caucasus, and Britain has endeavored to keep us just strong enough to prevent Russia from realizing these ambitions. (It was an Englishman who first called us the "Sick Man".) Finally came the Kaiser with his scheme of a chain of German-controlled states from the Baltic to the Persian Gulf, and for the success of this plan a strong, not a weak, Turkey is a sine qua non. Russia would wipe us off the map, England would keep us weak, Germany would make us strong. All selfish motives on the face of them, no doubt, but can you wonder which alternative is the least repugnant to us Turks, especially to us Young Turks, who have done our best to avoid being enmeshed in the nets of British and Russian diplomacy and intrigue which held helpless our predecessors? I think I will not need to say more to answer your question as to why it was Germany obtained the Bagdad railway concession, why the Hedjaz line was built by Germans, and why the Germans are recasting our military establishment."

A Real Turkish Nationality

"Do you care to speak of your so-called Turkish reform program?" I asked as a final question, warned by the Sheiks and officers gathering under the flap of the reception tent that a conference was about to be held. Enver hesitated for a moment, and then, his eyes lighting with the enthusiasm kindled by the project which I have since learned was the one nearest his heart, rose to his feet and spoke briefly and to the point, the meantime grasping my hand in a warm grip of farewell.

"Real Turkish unification is my dearest wish, and any international political arrangement which will leave me a free hand to work for that, I will subscribe to. Turkey contains a great many Christians as well as Mohammedans. The latter I would regenerate from within, not from without. The West has little that we need save battleships and shrapnels, and if it would leave us alone we would not need even these. Nor can the Occident give us anything better to follow than the precepts of the Koran.

For us Mohammedans, I would purify the old faith, not bring in a new one. There are close to a score of them, as you know. But for our Christian peoples, I would let them follow their own faith in peace and security, something they have not always been able to do in the past. I would offer them everything that England, or Greece or France could, more than Russia ever would, and by this means I would make them Turkish subjects in fact as well as in name. Great Britain, a Christian power, has made good subjects of the Mohammedans in India; why shall not Turkey, a Mohammedan power, make good subjects of Christians in the Ottoman Empire? A real Turkish nation is my dream; a nation able at last to stand upon its own legs."

And for just this, Enver has been fighting, with his back against the wall, for ten years. For just this he continued to fight, with his back against the wall, for two years more; and for just this he is fighting, still with his back against the wall today. Keeping up for several months longer his hopeless fight at the head of his devoted Arabs in Tripoli, he was called home to take up another hopeless fight after the Turkish army - half fed and half ammunitioned - had been swept by the victorious Bulgars down to the Tchatalja lines, at the very door of Constantinople. Overridden and overruled in council, the impetuous young patriot, goaded to desperation by the incompetence and corruption of the regime in power, struck down the Minister of War and leapt himself into the emptied saddle. It was too late, as it proved, to drive back the Bulgars - now reinforced by the Greeks and Serbs - although the campaign he launched to this end was most ably conducted. A few months later, however, when the Balkan allies fell out and Greece and Serbia attacked Bulgaria, the watchful Enver was ready with a force which lost no time in recapturing Adrianople and restoring to Turkey a not inconsiderable portion of the territory which had just been wrested from her by the allies.

Freeman, L. R. (1915). Enver Pasha: Turkish patriot. The American Review of Reviews, 52(2), 183-184.
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[Djemal Pasha Memoirs] Enver Pasha in World War I
Excerpt from Ahmed Djemal Pasha's Memories of a Turkish Statesman, 1913-1919:

In August 1915, when the course of the military expedition in Mesopotamia was taking an unfavorable turn for us, Enver Pasha asked me if I would take over the civil and military administration of that region.

I replied that at the very time when the secret intrigues of the Arab revolutionaries in Syria and Palestine had shown that the situation in those provinces had become extremely difficult my absence would most probably have far worse consequences, but that if he did not agree with me I was prepared to go to Baghdad. Enver Pasha was of the same opinion, however, and proposed Marshal von der Goltz for the post of Commander-in-Chief in Iraq. The Marshal accepted and was duly sent there.

As I have said, the year 1915 passed in preparations for the second campaign against the Canal. As I had an idea that the German General Staff did not attribute to these preparations the importance due to them, I traveled to Constantinople in November to draw Enver Pasha's serious attention to the fact. I stayed there a fortnight and then returned to Damascus without having achieved very much.

As the English and French had retired after the evacuation of the Dardanelles, I invited Enver Pasha to come to Syria to see for himself the result of the preparations I had been making in the desert. He came in February 1916, and after making an extended tour of inspection together in Syria, Palestine, and the Sinai Desert, we went to visit Medina.

Sherif Faisal, who was then at Headquarters, accompanied us on this visit.

Enver Pasha was highly satisfied with the organization of the desert L. of C. We both came to the conclusion that it was certainly impossible to cross the Canal and drive the English out of Egypt, but that it would be quite feasible to fortify ourselves securely on the eastern bank and prevent the passage of merchant ships with our heavy batteries.

Djemal, A. (1922). The desert force. In Memories of a Turkish statesman, 1913-1919 (pp. 167-168). London: Hutchinson & Co.
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[Morgenthau] Enver Pasha on the Armenians
From the Memoirs of Henry Morgenthau, Sr., who was the United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913 to 1916:

All this time I was bringing pressure upon Enver also. The Minister of War, as I have already indicated, was a different type of man from Talaat. He concealed his real feelings much more successfully. He was usually suave, cold-blooded, and scrupulously polite. And at first he was by no means so callous as Talaat in discussing the Armenians. He dismissed the early stories as wild exaggerations, declared that the troubles at Van were merely ordinary warfare, and attempted to quiet my fears that the wholesale annihilation of the Armenians had been decided on.

Yet all the time that Enver was attempting to deceive me, he was making open admissions to other people a fact of which I was aware. In particular he made no attempt to conceal the real situation from Dr. Lepsius, a representative of German missionary interests. Dr. Lepsius was a high-minded Christian gentleman. He had been all through the Armenian massacres of 1895, and he had raised considerable sums of money to build orphanages for Armenian children who had lost their parents at that time. He came again in 1915 to investigate the Armenian situation in behalf of German missionary interests. He asked for the privilege of inspecting the reports of American consuls and I granted it. These documents, supplemented by other information which Dr. Lepsius obtained, largely from German missionaries in the interior, left no doubt in his mind as to the policy of the Turks. His feelings were aroused chiefly against his own government. He expressed to me the humiliation which he felt, as a German, that the Turks should set about to exterminate their Christian subjects, while Germany, which called itself a Christian country, was making no endeavours to prevent it.

From him Enver scarcely concealed the official purpose. Dr. Lepsius was simply staggered by his frankness, for Enver told him in so many words that they at last had an opportunity to rid themselves of the Armenians and that they proposed to use it. By this time Enver had become more frank with me the circumstantial reports which I possessed made it useless for him to attempt to conceal the true situation further and we had many long and animated discussions on the subject. One of these I recall with particular vividness. I notified Enver that I intended to take up the matter in detail and he laid aside enough time to go over the whole situation.

"The Armenians had a fair warning," Enver began, "of what would happen to them in case they joined our enemies. Three months ago I sent for the Armenian Patriarch and I told him that if the Armenians attempted to start a revolution or to assist the Russians, I would be unable to prevent mischief from happening to them. My warning produced no effect and the Armenians started a revolution and helped the Russians. You know what happened at Van. They obtained control of the city, used bombs against government buildings, and killed a large number of Moslems. We knew that they were planning uprisings in other places. You must understand that we are now fighting for our lives at the Dardanelles and that we are sacrificing thousands of men. While we are engaged in such a struggle as this, we cannot permit people in our own country to attack us in the back. We have got to prevent this no matter what means we have to resort to. It is absolutely true that I am not opposed to the Armenians as a people. I have the greatest admiration for their intelligence and industry, and I should like nothing better than to see them become a real part of our nation. But if they ally themselves with our enemies, as they did in the Van district, they will have to be destroyed. I have taken pains to see that no injustice is done; only recently I gave orders to have three Armenians who had been deported returned to their homes, when I found that they were innocent. Russia, France, Great Britain, and America are doing the Armenians no kindness by sympathizing with and encouraging them. I know what such encouragement means to a people who are inclined to revolution. When our Union and Progress Party attacked Abdul Hamid, we received all our moral encouragement from the outside world. This encouragement was of great help to us and had much to do with our success. It might similarly now help the Armenians and their revolutionary programme. I am sure that if these outside countries did not encourage them, they would give up all their efforts to oppose the present government and become law-abiding citizens. We now have this country in our absolute control and we can easily revenge ourselves on any revolutionists."

"After all," I said, "suppose what you say is true. why not punish the guilty? Why sacrifice a whole race for the alleged crimes of individuals?"

"Your point is all right during peace times," replied Enver. "We can then use Platonic means to quiet Armenians and Greeks, but in time of war we cannot investigate and negotiate. We must act promptly and with determination. I also think that the Armenians are making a mistake in depending upon the Russians. The Russians really would rather see them killed than alive. They are as great a danger to the Russians as they are to us. If they should form an independent government in Turkey, the Armenians in Russia would attempt to form an independent government there. The Armenians have also been guilty of massacres; in the entire district around Van only 30,000 Turks escaped, all the rest were murdered by the Armenians and Kurds. I attempted to protect the non-combatants at the Caucasus; I gave orders that they should not be injured, but I found that the situation was beyond my control. There are about 70,000 Armenians in Constantinople and they will not be molested, except those who are Dashnaguists and those who are plotting against the Turks. However, I think you can ease your mind on the whole subject as there will be no more massacres of Armenians."

I did not take seriously Enver's concluding statement. At the time that he was speaking, massacres and deportations were taking place all over the Armenian provinces and they went on almost without interruption for several months.

Morgenthau, H. (1919). Enver Pasha discusses the Armenians. In Ambassador Morgenthau's Story (pp. 343-346). Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Company.
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