Committee of Union and Progress
|Committee of Union and Progress|
|إتحاد و ترقى
İttihad ve Terakki Cemiyeti
|Leaders after 1913||"Three Pashas" (Enver Pasha, Talaat Pasha, Djemal Pasha)|
|Slogan||Hürriyet, Müsavaat, Adalet (Liberty, Equality, Justice)|
|Headquarters||Istanbul (formerly in Salonica)|
|Politics of Turkey
The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) (Turkish: İttihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti) began as a secret society established as the "Committee of Ottoman Union" (Turkish: İttihad-ı Osmanî Cemiyeti) in Istanbul in February 6, 1889 by medical students Ibrahim Temo, Çerkez Mehmed Reşid, Abdullah Cevdet, İshak Sükuti, Ali Hüseyinzade, Kerim Sebatî, Mekkeli Sabri Bey, Selanikli Nazım Bey, Şerafettin Mağmumi, Cevdet Osman and Giritli Şefik. It was transformed into a political organization (and later an official political party) by Bahaeddin Sakir, aligning itself with the Young Turks in 1906, during the period of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. In the West, members of the CUP were usually called "Young Turks" while in the Ottoman Empire, its members were known as Unionists. However, at the beginning of the Armenian Genocide, the Young Turks disaffiliated themselves from the CUP.
Begun as a liberal reform movement in the Ottoman Empire, the party was persecuted by the Ottoman imperial government for its calls for democratization and reform in the Empire. A major influence on the committee was Meji-era Japan, a backward state that successfully modernized itself without sacrificing its identity. The CUP's intentions were to copy the Japanese example, and modernize the Ottoman Empire to end its status as the perpetual "sick man of Europe". The ultimate aim of the CUP was to return the Ottoman Empire to its former status as one of the world's great powers. Once the party gained power in the Young Turk Revolution in 1908 and consolidated its power in the 1912 "Election of Clubs" and the 1913 Raid on the Sublime Porte, it grew increasingly more splintered and volatile (and after attacks on the Empire's Turkish citizens during the Balkan Wars of 1912–13, nationalist) as its three leaders, Enver Pasha, Talaat Pasha, and Djemal Pasha, formed the triumvirate known as the Three Pashas and gained de facto rule over the Ottoman Empire and the party itself. During World War I, this leadership was responsible for the Armenian Genocide, among other acts.
At the end of World War I, most of its members were court-martialled by the sultan Mehmed VI and imprisoned. A few members of the organization were executed in Turkey after trial for the attempted assassination of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1926. Members who survived continued their political careers in Turkey as members of the Republican People's Party (Turkish: Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, CHP) and other political parties in Turkey.
The Committee of Union and Progress was an umbrella name for different underground factions, some of which were generally referred to as the "Young Turks". The name was officially sanctioned to a specific group in 1906 by Behaeddin Shakir. The organization was based upon the revolutionary Italian Carbonari. In 1902, there occurred a party congress in Paris, in which two factions clashed. One led by Prince Sabahaddin favored a policy of Ottomanism, where all the people of the multi-ethnic, multi-religious empire would be united by a common loyalty to the empire regardless of one's ethnicity or religion, and where power would be devolved down to the provinces. Prince Saabahaddin believed that the only reason why separatist movements existed amongst such peoples as the Armenians was due to the oppressive policies of Abdulhamid II, and if only the empire would treat its Armenian minority better, then the Armenians would become loyal Ottomans. Another faction, which proved to the dominant one was led by Ahmed Riza, who while not being opposed to Ottomanism outright insisted upon a very centralized, unitary state in which Turks would be the dominant group, arguing that devolving power down to the groups like the Armenians would be only the first step towards the establishment of an Armenian state. Ultimately, Prince Sabahaddin and his followers ended leaving the CUP over disagreements over what sort of state the empire should be after the planned revolution against Sultan Abdulhamid.
Revolutionary Era: 1906–1908
The CUP, which always greatly admired Japan for modernizing itself after the so-called Meiji Restoration of 1867-68, were much impressed by Japan's victory over Russia in 1905, and after the Russian-Japanese war, the CUP was obsessed with the idea of copying the Japanese. The Young Turks were especially expressed with the way the Japanese had been able to embrace Western science and technology without losing their "Eastern spiritual essence", an example that was especially inspiring to them because many in the Ottoman empire believed that the embrace of Western science and technology were diametrically opposed to Islam. To the CUP, for whom science was something of a religion, the Japanese example seemed to show how the Ottoman empire could embrace the science of the West without losing its Islamic identity. The CUP had an obsession with science, above all the natural sciences (CUP journals devoted much text to chemistry lessons), and the Unionists often described themselves as "societal doctors" who would apply modern scientific ideas and methods to solve all social problems. Alongside the unbounded faith in science, the CUP embraced social Darwinism and the völkisch, scientific racism that was so popular at German universities in the first half of the 20th century. In the words of the sociologist Ziya Gökalp, the CUP's chief thinker, the German racial approach to defining a nation was the "one that happened to more closely match the condition of 'Turkishness', which was struggling to constitute its own historical and national identity". The French racist Arthur de Gobineau whose theories had such a profound impact upon the German völkisch thinkers in the 19th century was also a major influence upon the CUP. The Turkish historian Taner Akçam wrote that the CUP were quite flexible about mixing pan-Islamic, pan-Turkic and Ottomanist ideas as it suited their purposes, and the Unionists at various times would emphasize one at the expense of the others depending upon the exigencies of the situation. All that mattered in the end to the CUP was that the Ottoman empire become great again, and that the Turks be the dominant group within the empire. Through the Central Committee of the CUP was made up of intense Turkish nationalists, until the defeat in the First Balkan war in 1912-13, the CUP did not stress its Turkish nationalism in public as it would offend the non-Turkish population of the empire. A further problem for the CUP was that the majority of the ethnic Turks of the empire did not see themselves as Turks at all, but rather simply as Sunni Muslims who happened to speak Turkish. The Turkish historian Taner Akçam that at the time of the First World War that "It is even questionable whether the broad mass of Muslims in Anatolia at the time understood themselves as Turks, or Kurds, rather than as Muslims". Through the CUP was dedicated to a revolutionary transformation of Ottoman society by its "science-conscious cadres" , the CUP were conservative revolutionaries who wished to retain the monarchy and Islam's status as the state religion as the Young Turks believed that the sultanate and Islam were an essential part of the glue holding the Ottoman empire together.
The CUP had built an extensive organization, having a presence in towns, in the capital, and throughout Europe. Under this umbrella name, one could find ethnic Albanians, Bulgarians, Arabs, Serbians, Jews, Greeks, Turks, Kurds, and Armenians united by the common goal of changing the Ottoman absolute monarchical regime. The CUP professed to be fighting for the restoration of the democratic 1876 Constitution, but its internal organization and methods were intensely authoritarian with its cadres expected simply to follow orders from the Central Committee. Joining the CUP was by invitation only, and those who did join had to keep their membership secret. Those who joined the CUP had to swear a sacred oath with the Koran in the right hand and a sword or dagger in the left hand to unconditionally obey all orders from the CUP Central Committee; to never reveal the CUP's secrets and to keep their own membership secret; to be willing to die for the fatherland and Islam at all times; and to follow orders from the Central Committee to kill anyone whom the Central Committee wanted to see killed, including one's own friends and family. The penalty for disobeying orders from the Central Committee or attempting to leave the CUP was death. To enforce its policy, the Unionists had a select group of especially dedicated Young Turks known as the fedâiin, whose job was to assassinate those CUP members who disobeyed orders, disclosed its secrets or were suspected of being police informers. Operating as an underground revolutionary group led the CUP to adopt a paranoid mindset with almost everyone outside of the CUP being seen as an enemy. The CUP saw themselves as a scientific elite, whose superior knowledge would save the empire; one Unionist later recalled the atmosphere as: "Being an Unionist was almost a type of God-given privilege".
During the early years of the 20th century, and especially from 1906 onwards, the CUP had enjoyed great success in recruiting army officers, especially from the Third Army based in Macedonia. The Ottoman region of Macedonia comprised what is now modern northern Greece, Macedonia, southern Serbia, south-western Bulgaria, Kosovo, and Albania. The lawless, backward, impoverished, crime-ridden and very violent region of Macedonia was full of Greek, Serbian and Bulgarian guerrillas sponsored by their respective national governments, which when they were not fighting the Ottomans, were busy fighting each other. In early 20th century, Macedonia was in a state of “protracted low-level civil war. “. In some of the rural areas of Macedonia, not only was there no Ottoman government, but there was no government at all, with the rule of the gun reigning in an atmosphere of anarchy. The atrocities committed against Muslim civilians in Macedonia, whatever they be Turkish or Albanian by the anti-Ottoman guerrillas greatly angered the Ottoman officers sent to suppress them, and gave many of them their first taste of Turkish nationalism. In turn, the Ottoman forces perpetuated atrocities against the Christian population, leading to a never-ending cycle of revenge.
One of the principle diplomatic problems in19th century Europe was the so-called "Eastern Question", which concerned what to do with the declining Ottoman empire. In 1897, Russia and Austria, both of whom had rival designs upon the empire had agreed to put the Eastern Question "on ice", and agreed to co-operate in the Balkans instead of competing. In October 1903, the Austrian and Russian governments announced the Mürzsteg Scheme for reform to settle the Macedonian Question. The Russians and Austrians announced that the only reasons for why Macedonia was in a such state of chaos was because the Ottoman administration was corrupt, brutal, incompetent, nepotistic and very biased against Christians, and to remedy these problems, the Sublime Porte was to carry out a set of wide-ranging reforms under the supervision of "civil agents" appointed by the European Great Powers. In November 1903, the Ottoman government reluctantly accepted the Mürzsteg Scheme, something that enraged the CUP which saw the Mürzsteg Scheme as outrageous Western inference in the internal affairs of the empire. In November 1905, warships of the British, French, Italian, and Austrian navies threatened to bombard Salonica unless the Ottoman government agreed to extend the powers of the European "civil agents" in Macedonia and allow European policemen to command the local gendarmerie; Abdulhamid again reluctantly bowed to the demands of the West. After 1905, the gendarmerie in Macedonia were commanded by British, French, Austrian, Italian and Russian police officers, something that was widely resented by Ottoman Muslims, who believed that this was part of a Western plot to take Macedonia away from the empire. In such a context, the officers of the Third Army believed the Ottoman state needed drastic reforms in order to survive, and thus made the appeal of a modernizing organization like the CUP especially seductive to them. The fact that the Christian population of Macedonia-whatever they be Greek, Serb, Macedonian, Bulgarian or Vlach-were engaged in more or less constant rebellion against the Ottoman empire, together with the revolutionary activities of Armenian nationalists in Anatolia led many Ottoman officers to see the entire Christian population of the empire as disloyal and treasonous. Furthermore, the contrast between the poverty of almost all the Muslim population of Macedonia vs. the relative prosperity of the parts of the Christian population made a considerable impression on the Third Army junior officers, who complained bitterly in private that the Muslims were falling further and further behind the Christians in their own empire, and that something had to be done about this. Most of the Ottoman officers serving in the CUP were junior officers, but the widespread belief that the empire needed reforms led to the senior officers of the Third Army to turn a blind eye to the fact that most of the junior officers had joined the CUP.
Sultan Abdulhamid II persecuted the members of the CUP in an attempt to hold on to absolute power, but was forced to reinstitute the Ottoman constitution of 1876, which he had originally suspended in 1878, after threats to overthrow him by the CUP in the 1908 Young Turk Revolution. The revolution had been sparked by a summit in July 1908 in Reval, Russia (modern Tallinn, Estonia) between King Edward VII of Great Britain and the Emperor Nicholas II of Russia. Popular rumor within the Ottoman empire had it that during the summit a secret Anglo-Russian deal was signed to partition the Ottoman empire. Through this story was not true, the rumor led to the CUP (which had many army officers as its members) to act. From its HQ in Salonica (modern Thessaloniki, Greece), the CUP ordered the Third Army to march on Constantinople. However, after the meeting of the goal to change the regime of Abdulhamid, in the absence of this uniting factor, the CUP and the revolution began to fracture and different allegiances began to emerge. The first success of the new regime came in September 1908 when the European powers were asked to withdrew their civil agents and police officers from Macedonia, a request that was promptly agreed to.
The Young Turk Revolution played a significant role in the evolution of Committee of Union and Progress from a revolutionary organization to a political party.
Change through revolution
The revolution and CUP's work had a great impact on Muslims in other countries. The Persian community in Istanbul founded the Iranian Union and Progress Committee. Indian Muslims imitated the CUP oath administered to recruits of the organization. The leaders of the Young Bukhara movement were deeply influenced by the Young Turk Revolution, and saw it as an example to emulate. Reflecting their intense Japanophilia, the new regime proclaimed its intention to remake the Ottoman empire into the "Japan of the Near East". In their own minds, the Central Committee of the CUP saw themselves as playing a role analogous to that of the oligarchy of Meiji Japan, and the revolution of 1908 as an event comparable to the brief civil war that had toppled the Tokugawa shogunate in 1867-68. One Unionist Colonel Pertev Bey wrote after the revolution of 1908: "We will rise shortly...with the same brilliance as the Rising Sun of the Far East did a few years ago! In any case, let us not forget that a nation always rises from its own strength!". An additional attraction for Japan as a role model for the Unionists were that the Japanese had modernized while keeping their women in an extremely subservient position within their society; the all-male Young Turks did not wish for Ottoman women to become anything like the women of the West, and instead wanted to preserve the traditional roles for women. In an inversion of Western paranoia about the "Yellow Peril", the Young Turks often fantasised about creating an alliance with Japan that would unite all the peoples of "the East" to wage war against and wipe out the much hated Western nations that dominated the world, a "Yellow wave" that would wash away European civilization for good. For the Young Turks, the term yellow (which was in fact a derogatory Western term for East Asians, based upon their perceived skin color) stood for the "Eastern gold", the innate moral superiority of Eastern peoples over the corrupt West. In the eyes of the Unionists, it was the civilizations of the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and the Far East that were the superior civilizations to Western civilization, and it was merely an unfortunate accident of history that the West had happened to become more economically and technologically advanced then the Asian civilizations, something that they were determined to correct.
The Unionists believed that the secret behind the success of the West was science, and that the more scientifically advanced a nation was, the more powerful it was. The Turkish historian Handan Nezir Akmeșe that the essence of the CUP was the "cult of science" and an strong sense of Turkish nationalism. Influenced very strongly by French intellectuals such as Auguste Comte and Gustave Le Bon, the Unionists had embraced the idea of rule by a scientific elite. For the Young Turks, the basic problem of the Ottoman empire were its backward, impoverished status (today, the Ottoman empire would be considered a third world country) and the fact that most of its Muslim population were illiterate; thus, most Ottoman Muslims could not learn about modern science even if they had wanted to. Furthermore, the Young Turks had embraced Social Darwinism and pseudo-scientific biological racism as the basis of their philosophy with history being seen as a merciless racial struggle with only the strongest "races" surviving. For the CUP, the Japanese government had ensured that the "Japanese race" were strongest in East Asia, and it was their duty was to ensure that the "Turkish race" become the strongest in the Near East. For the CUP, just as it was right and natural for the superior "Japanese race" to dominate "inferior races" like the Koreans and the Chinese, likewise it would be natural for the superior "Turkish race" to dominate "inferior races" like Greeks and the Armenians. This Social Darwinist perspective explains how the Unionists were so ferocious in their criticism of Western imperialism (especially if directed against the Ottoman empire) while being so supportive of Japanese imperialism in Korea and China. When Japan annexed Korea in 1910, the Young Turks supported this move under the Social Darwinist grounds that the Koreans were a weak people who deserved to taken over by the stronger Japanese both for their own good and the good of the Japanese empire. Along the same lines, the Social Darwinism of the Unionists led them to see the Armenians and the Greek minorities, who tended to be much better educated, literate and wealthier then the Turks and who dominated the business life of the empire as a threat to their plans for a glorious future for the "Turkish race".
For purposes of enlisting public support from a Turkish public that was the most part devoutly Muslim (the Koran says all Muslims are equal in the eyes of Allah, so the theory of a superior "Turkish race" might seem blasphemous), and out of the fear of alienating those Ottoman Muslims who were not Turks like the Arabs, the Albanians and the Kurds, the CUP's pseudo-scientific theories about the "Turkish race" were usually not publicly proclaimed. Already within the early years of the 20th century, the Japanese had started to champion the ideology of Pan-Asianism, under which all of the Asian peoples were to united under the leadership of Japan, the strongest of the Asian nations and as the "great Yamato race", the most racially superior of the Asian peoples as a justification for their imperialism. The CUP were greatly influenced by Japanese Pan-Asianism, which served as a template for their ideology of Pan-Islamism, where all of the world's Muslims were to united in the Ottoman empire, led of course by the "Turkish race". An American historian Sven Saaler noted the "important connections" between the Japanese Pan-Asian and the Ottoman Pan-Islamist movements in the early 20th century as well as the "astonishing parallels" between the two movements. The ultimate aim of the CUP was to modernize the Ottoman empire to recapture its former greatness, and just as the modernized Meiji Japan had defeated Russia in 1905, so too would the modernized Ottoman state defeat the Western nations. To help with their plans for modernization, the CUP created a number of semi-official organisations such as the Ottoman Navy League, the Ottoman Red Crescent Society and the Committee for National Defense that were intended to engage the Ottoman public with the entire modernization project, and to promote their nationalist, militaristic ways of thinking amongst the public. The CUP planned on taking back all of the territory that the Ottomans had lost during the course of the 19th century and under the banner of Pan-Turkic nationalism to acquire new territory in the Caucasus and Central Asia. As part of its plans to make the Ottoman empire great again, the CUP leadership stated to engage in an "...increasingly radicalized demographic engineering program aimed at the ethnoreligious homogenization of Anatolia from 1913 till the end of World War I".
In 1909, there was a countercoup by Islamists against the CUP, which culminated in the 31 March Incident, when reactionaries rebelled against the restoration of the constitutional system and retook power in Istanbul in support of Sultan Abdulhamid II's absolute rule. However, the CUP easily defeated the reactionaries by organizing the "Army of Action" (Turkish: Hareket Ordusu) and taking back Istanbul within a few days.
During the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, Pan-Islamism had become a hugely important part of the state ideology as Abdul Hamid had often stressed his claim to be the Caliph. The claim that Abdul Hamid was the Caliph, making him the political and spiritual leader of all Muslims not only caught on within the Ottoman empire, but throughout the entire Dar-al-Islam (the "House of Islam", i.e the Islamic world), especially in India. At that time, British India comprised all of modern day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Despite deposing Abdul Hamid in 1909, the CUP continued his Pan-Islamic policies. For the CUP, keeping the Sultanate-Caliphate in being had the effect of not only reinforcing the loyalty of Ottoman Muslims to the empire, but was also an useful foreign policy tool. The fact that Indian Muslims seemed to have far more enthusiasm for the Ottoman Sultan-Caliph then they did for the British King-Emperor was a matter of considerable concern for British decision-makers. The fear that the Sultan-Caliph might declare jihad against the British, and thereby plunge India into a revolt by its Muslims was a constant factor in British policy towards the Ottoman empire. On the other side, starting in 1897 Germany had a policy of Weltpolitik (World Politics), in which the Reich sought to become the world's dominant power. As part of its program of Weltpolitik, Germany had courted the Ottoman empire through a policy of providing generous loans to the Ottoman state (which had gone bankrupt in 1881, and which had trouble getting loans as a result), weapons and German officers to train the Ottoman army. The price of these loans, weapons and the German military mission to train the army were that the Ottoman state had to favor German corporations when awarding railroad concessions and other public works, thus pushing the empire further into the German political and economic sphere of influence. An official German-Ottoman alliance was not signed until 1914, but from 1898 onwards, there was an unofficial German-Ottoman alliance. In 1898, the German Emperor had visited the empire, in course of which Wilhlem II had proclaimed himself the "protector of Islam" before a cheering crowd. A large part of the reason for the German interest in the Ottomans was the belief by decision-makers in Berlin that the Sultan-Caliph could mobilize all of the world's Muslims to Germany's cause. Beyond that, having the Ottoman empire as an ally would mean that in the event of a war, Russian and especially British forces that otherwise would be deployed against Germany would be sent to fight the Ottomans instead. In 1914, the German Emperor Wilhelm II read a message on the margin on a diplomatic cable from St. Petersburg reading: "Our consuls in Turkey and India, our people must incite the entire Islamic world to a savage revolt against this...cursed, perfidious, conscience-less nation [Russia].
The Unionist Vision of the Future
In the words of the Turkish historian Handan Nezir Akmeșe, the commitment of the Unionists to the Constitution of 1876 that they professed to be fighting for was only "skin deep", and was more of a rallying cry for popular support than anything else. The primary influences on the Unionists were the French scientist Gustave Le Bon and the German General Baron Colmar von der Goltz. Le Bon argued that democracy was only just mindless mob rule and the best form of the government was a rule by a scientific elite. As a leading Unionist Enver Pasha was to write in 1912: "As a soldier, I believe in the absoluteness of the army. For a governing system, I believe in a 'mild' system of Constitutionalism. However, it is an obligation to get rid of all those who desire to be part of the ruling body. As a Frenchman [Gustave Le Bon] once wrote: "Before the Republic, there used to be only one autocrat in France, now, there are hundreds of them as all MPs struggle to gain supreme power."" Equally important given the large numbers of Army officers as Unionists was the influence of Goltz, who trained an entire generation of Ottoman officers, the so-called "Goltz generation". Goltz was a militarist, Social Darwinist and an ultra-nationalist who saw war as something necessary, desirable and inevitable, writing: "It [war] is an expression of the energy and self-respect which a nation possesses…Perpetual peace means perpetual death!". Goltz’s most important idea, which was to greatly influence the Unionists was that of the "nation in arms", that henceforward in modern war, the side that could mobilize best the entire resources of its society would be the one that would win, and as such the best thing that could done was to militarize one’s society in peacetime to ensure that it would be a "nation in arms" when the inevitable war came. Goltz, who spoke fluent Turkish and was very popular with the officers he had trained expressed a great deal of admiration for the Turks as a naturally warlike people, in contrast to his country where he believed that hedonism was rendering the next generation of young German men unfit for war. After Goltz published an article praising the Young Turk Revolution in 1908, one Unionist Major Ali Fuad wrote in response:
“This article written by our Honorable Master should be repeatedly read by all soldiers from field marshal to lieutenant…it always should be read...and should be taken as a guide in all our efforts and initiatives…I assure you, Honorable Master…that we shall stick exactly to your advice and we shall regard it as our guide”.
Goltz was also an intense Anglophobe who believed that the great struggle of the coming 20th century would be a world war between Britain and Germany for the mastery of the world; for him it was self-evident that the world was just too small for the British and German empires to co-exist, and he urged his protégés in the Ottoman Army to ensure that the empire fought on the side of his country when the inevitable Anglo-German war broke out.
However as great as the influence of Goltz and Le Bon were on the Unionists, the primary example for the Young Turks was Japan. Germany was the role model for the technical and organizational aspects of modernization while Japan was the overall societal model. The fact that an Asian nation like Japan had defeated Russia in 1905, the traditional enemy of the Ottoman empire was very inspiring to the Unionists, and Unionist newspapers all portrayed Japan's victory as a triumph not only over Russia, but also over Western values. Influenced by Goltz’s "nation in arms" theory, the Unionists held that in war the moral state of the nation was just as important as such aspects as technology and the level of training. The Young Turks greatly admired the Japanese in they had embraced the Western technology and science while at the same time rejecting Western cultural values. Instead, the Japanese held fast to their traditional values of bushido ("the way of the warrior"), and had an educational system designed to indoctrinate every Japanese young man with the belief that there was no higher duty than to be die for the Emperor and every Japanese young woman there was no higher duty than to bear sons who would die for the Emperor. The Unionists were much impressed with how the Japanese had fought the Russian-Japanese war, especially at the siege of Port Arthur (modern Lüshun, China) where the Japanese infantry advanced on the Russian trenches, only to be mowed down time after time by the Russian machine guns, suffering thousands of dead in each assault, yet the Japanese soldiers, full of their belief in bushido, were honored to die for their Emperor. As such, the Japanese kept on assaulting the Russian lines at Port Arthur, despite their enormous losses. The Japanese soldiers indoctrinated since their earliest days into Japanese ultra-nationalism and bushido had fought fanatically for their nation, an example the CUP was keen to emulate. By contrast, the Unionists noted how the Russian soldiers had no idea of what they were fighting for in Manchuria or why their country was at war with Japan, and with nothing to believe in, clung only to their lives and fought poorly as they had no wish to die for a cause that was unfathomable to them.
A major factor in Unionist thinking was the "devaluation of life", the belief that Eastern peoples like the Japanese and the Turks attached no value to human life including their own, and unlike the Westerners who allegedly clung pathetically to their lives when confronted with danger, Easterners supposedly died willingly and happily for the cause. The Unionists intended to emulate the Japanese example by creating a militaristic educational system designed to make every man a soldier and every woman into essentially a soldier-making machine; the concept of jihad would play the same role in motivating the Turkish soldier to fight and die for the Caliph (regarded as Allah's representative on the Earth) as bushido did for the Japanese soldier to die for his Emperor (regarded by the Japanese as a living god). Ultimately for the Unionists, war was a test of wills, and the side that had the stronger will and hence lesser fear of death would always prevail, and as an Eastern people who supposedly cared nothing for the value of human life, the Unionists believed that the Turks had an innate advantage over the decadent West. It was accepted by the Unionists that provided that an Eastern army had the same level of training and technology as a Western army, the Eastern army had the advantage because of their greater will to win. It was believed by the Unionists that the combination of German training and weapons together with the greater willingness to die motivated by their own superior Islamic and Turkish traditions would make the Ottoman military invincible in war. As Turkish nationalists, the Unionists argued that: "We Turks are a first-class warrior nation." The Ottoman victories over Western nations like over the Serbs at Kosovo in 1389, which ended Serbia as an independent kingdom; over the French, Hungarian, German and other Christian knights at Nicopolis in 1396, which ended the crusade proclaimed by Pope Boniface IX; the fall of Constantinople in 1453 which ended the Eastern Roman Empire; and the battle of Mohacs in 1526 which led to conquest of Hungary were used by the Unionists to argue that the Turks were naturally the greatest soldiers in the world. As it were, the Turks had in the viewpoint of the Unionists had become lazy since those glorious days, and had what the Turks needed now was a series of reforms to allow the Turkish society to become the "nation in arms".
Second Constitutional Era: 1908–1912
The first 1908 election to the Ottoman parliament, the General Assembly of the Ottoman Empire, after the Young Turk Revolution netted the Committee of Union and Progress only 60 of the 275 seats, despite its leading role in the revolution. Other parties represented in Parliament at this time included the Armenian nationalist Dashnak and Hunchak parties (four and two members respectively) and the main opposition, the Liberty and Entente party, sometimes referred to by Ottoman historians as the "Liberal Union". The CUP did not take power after the Revolution, but chose to monitor power the politicians from the sidelines. The Turkish historian Handan Nezir Akmeșe wrote:
"The CUP believed that it could exercise the role of the guardian of the Revolution most effectively outside the government. It was numerically weak and was based on a restricted geographical base. A majority of its members were resident in Macedonia and it had, as yet, no branch in the capital. More importantly, however, in a society where rank and age were two important measures of respect and reliability to govern, the mostly young and relatively inexperienced members of the CUP lacked the social prestige necessary to wield authority in the government. Most possibly, the CUP, by becoming a legitimate political party did not want to compromise its organisational integrity for in its internal structures, it was an authoritarian and hierarchical body. Besides, it would be easier to put the blame on a government in which they did not want an active and official part, for any wrong doings; they could continue to play the main role behind the scenes."
On 5 August 1908, the CUP told the government that current Grand Vizer Mehmed Said Pasha was unacceptable to them, and had Kamil Pasha appointed Grand Vizer. On 14 February 1909 Kamil who proved too independent was forced to resign and replaced with Hüseyin Hilmi Pasha. A sign of how the CUP power worked occurred in February 1909, when Ali Haydar who just been appointed ambassador to Spain went to the Sublime Porte to discuss his new appointment with the Grand Vizier Hüseyin Hilmi Pasha, only be to be informed by the Grand Vizer he needed to talk to a man from the Central Committee who was due to arrive shortly.
On 16 August 1909, the government passed the "Law of Associations", which banned ethically based political parties. On 16 September 1909, the government passed the "Law for the Prevention of Brigandage and Sedition on 16 September 1909, which created "special pursuit battalions" to hunt down guerrillas in Macedonia, made it illegal for private citizens to own firearms and imposed harsh penalties for those who failed to report the activities of guerrillas. . At the same time, the government expanded the educational system by founding new schools while at the same time announcing that henceforward Turkish would be the only language of instruction. From the summer of 1909 onwards the nature of the rebellions in Macedonia changed. The Christian communities largely ceased their rebellious activities while the Albanians who were 70% Muslim and until that time had been the most loyal group in Macedonia now started to rebel against the Ottoman state. Until that time, it had always been assumed by the Unionists that Islam would ensure the loyalty of the Muslim Albanians, so the frequent Albanian revolts came as a surprise. One of the principle causes of the Albanian rebellions was the decision to impose Turkish as the language in schools together with another law announcing that Albanian could only written in the Arabic alphabet while the majority of Albanians had wished to adopt the Latin alphabet. After crushing one Albanian revolt in 1909, another one broke in March 1910. While 40, 000 troops were being sent into Macedonia, an ethnic Albanian Deputy representing Skopje named Necib Draga stated in Parliament in April 1910: "…Is it wise, during the establishment of a new regime, to pressurize immediately with unprecedented taxes and disciplinary measures a people whose special conditions have been taken into account for five hundred years, whether due to maladministration or sagacity? I leave this to your conscience. I am saying, with courage, in your presence that the desired outcome will not be obtained through martial law and diverse pressures." By the fall of 1910, the uprising had been crushed, many Albanian nationalists executed and a systematic attempt was being made to crush Albanian national feeling by banning Albanian newspapers and private schools. In March 1911, yet another Albanian revolt broke out, but this time, the government chose negotiation by sending the Sultan Mehmed V to visit Macedonia in June 1911 to proclaim an amnesty for those Albanian rebels who agreed to lay down their arms. In September 1911, Italy submitted an ultimatum containing terms clearly meant to inspire rejection, and following its duly expected rejection, invaded Tripolitania. The Unionist officers in the Army were determined to resist the Italian aggression, and a great many of the best Young Turk officers including Enver Pasha, his younger brother Nuri, the future president Mustafa Kamel, Suleyman Askeri, Ali Fethi and Yakub Cemil all departed to Libya to fight the Italians. With many of the Unionist officers in Libya, this weakened the power of the CUP.
As a result of the "Law of Associations", which shut down ethnically based organizations and clubs, by the time of the second general election in 1912, the smaller ethnic parties had coalesced with the Liberal Union. Now alarmed at the success of Liberal Union and increasingly radicalized, the CUP won 269 of the 275 seats through electoral fraud and violence, which led to the nickname "Election of Clubs" (Turkish: Sopalı Seçimler). In most republics, this is the margin required for wholesale transformation of the constitution, but the Ottoman Empire was technically a constitutional monarchy, although it is unlikely Sultan Mehmed V could have prevented the revision of the constitution. In April 1912, the Albanians again rebelled, and by the end of June much of the ethnic Albanian areas of Macedonia were in the hands of the insurgents. In May 1912, a group of anti-Unionist officers in the Army calling themselves the Savior Officers Group started to openly challenge the authority of the government. The fraudulent electoral result of the "Election of Clubs" had badly hurt the popular legitimacy of the CUP, and faced with widespread opposition, the CUP-backed government of Said Pasha resigned on 9 July 1912. For the moment, the CUP had driven from power.
On 5 August 1912, the government shuttered Parliament. Just prior to that, it had succeeded in passing the "Law for the Prevention of Brigandage and Sedition", a measure ostensibly intended to prevent insurgency against the central government, which assigned that duty to newly created paramilitary formations. These later came under the control of the Teşkilat-i Mahsusa. This Parliamentary session was very short due to the outbreak of the First Balkan War; sensing the danger, the government won passage of a bill conscripting dhimmis into the army. This proved too little and too late to salvage the Ottoman toehold in southeast Europe; the Ottomans lost Albania, Macedonia, and western Thrace. In the spring and summer of 1912, a Balkan League uniting Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Montenegro was formed. Following rumors of war, the Grand Vizer Ahmed Muhtar Pasha ordered a partial mobilization. On 30 September, the armies of the Balkan League mobilized. On 1 October the Ottoman Empire began to mobilize. Knowing that war was near, the government made peace with Italy and ceded Libya in order to pull its troops out of Africa. On October 8 1912 Montenegro declared war. A week later, the other states of the Balkan League presented an ultimatum containing terms meant to be unacceptable such as the end of the Ottoman mobilization; on 15 October the Ottoman government responded by declaring war on the states of the Balkan League. Since the Ottoman mobilization was only partly completed due to the poor roads and a sparse railroad network in the empire, the result was an utter disaster and by the beginning of December, the Ottomans had lost almost all their possessions in Europe with the Bulgarians at the very gates of Constantinople by the time an armistice was signed on 3 December 1912. In less than two months, the nearly 600-year old Ottoman presence in the Balkans had ended. Rumelia, the Turkish name for the Balkans was considered to be just as much part of the empire's heartland as Anatolia, and its loss was keenly felt.
During the war against Italy, the Central Committee had established the so-called Special Organization to conduct guerrilla operations against the Italians in Libya. In 1913 in the aftermath of the Balkan wars, the Special Organization was established in Anatolia with the aim of conducting guerrilla warfare should Anatolia be occupied by the armies of the Balkan League. Those who once served as fedâiin assassins during the years of underground struggle were often assigned as leaders of the Special Organization. The ultra-secretive Special Organization was answerable to the Central Committee, but worked closely with the War and Interior ministries.
Right from the time of the Young Turk Revolution, the secretive Committee dominated by its shadowy Central Committee sparked many dubious conspiracy theories about the CUP. Between 1910 and 1916, antisemitic Judeo-Masonic conspiracy theories regarding the party were fuelled within the British government through diplomatic correspondence from Gerard Lowther (British Ambassador to Istanbul) and Gilbert Clayton (Chief of British intelligence in Egypt). Lowther's anti-Semitism led him to see the entire CUP as a creation of the Jews, something that he took for granted because prior to the Young Turk Revolution, the CUP was based in Salonica, a city Lowther noted whose population was half Jewish. Lowther took the viewpoint that because Russia was the world's greatest anti-Semitic power, that everything the Jews supposedly did as part of their alleged plotting was directed against Russia. Since an informal Anglo-Russian alliance had emerged with the 1907 Anglo-Russian Entente, Lowther reasoned that the Jews were now also working against the British empire. Lowther's highly inaccurate reporting about the CUP as one solid bloc ignored the existence of factions within the CUP Central Committee, and as such the British never attempted to play off one faction against another.
Coup and aftermath: 1913–1914
In spite of parliamentary elections, non-partisan figures from the pre-revolutionary period known as the "Old Turks" still dominated the Ottoman cabinet, known as the Sublime Porte. The Grand Vizier Mehmed Kamil Pasha and his minister of war, Nazım Pasha, became targets of the CUP, which overthrew them in a military coup d'état known as the Raid on the Sublime Porte on 23 January 1913, which brought the CUP directly to power. The coup was justified under the grounds that Kamil Pasha was about to "sell out the nation" by agreeing to a truce in the First Balkan War. The intentions of the new leadership was to break the truce, and renew the war against Bulgaria. The new regime was dominated by a triumvirate that comprised Enver Pasha, Taalat Pasha and Djemal Pasha. The term Pasha was a honorific title in the Muslim world for especially distinguished men and was not a surname; the "Three Pashas" were not related. Most Turks in this period did not have surnames. It was not until 1934 that a law was passed requiring all Turks to take a surname. The first task of the new regime was to found the National Defense League on 1 February 1913 which was intended to mobilize the entire resources of the empire for an all-out effort to turn the tide. . On 3 February 1913 the war resumed. The new government staked all on a daring operation in which the 10th Army Corps were to make an amphibious landing at the rear of the Bulgarians at Şarköy while the Straits Composite Force was to break out of the Gallipoli peninsula. The operation failed due to a lack of co-ordination with heavy losses. Following reports that the Ottoman Army had at most 165, 000 troops to oppose the 400, 000 of the Balkan League together with news that morale in the army was poor, the government agreed to an armistice on 1 April 1913. On 20 July 1913, following the breakout of the Second Balkan War, the Ottomans attacked Bulgaria and 21 July 1913 Enver Pasha retook Edirne, which been humiliatingly lost to the Bulgarians in March 1913, making him a national hero. After taking back Edirne, the Special Organization of Unionist fedais and junior officers were send to organize the Turkish population of Thrace to wage guerrilla warfare against the Bulgarians. By the terms of the Treaty of Bucharest in September 1913, the Ottomans regained some of the land lost in Thrace during the First Balkan War.
Enver Pasha, the Minister of War was easily the most charismatic of the three who ruled, and as a war hero was the one most popular with the public. The Turkish historian Handan Nezir Akmeșe wrote: "Within the triumvirate, Enver’s position was unique, thanks to his absolute control over the army: he could not always override his colleagues, but they could never override him". A megalomaniac whose personal heroes were Napoleon and Frederick the Great, Enver Pasha saw himself as one of history's great men whose destiny was to not only lead the Ottoman empire back to its former greatness, but also to new heights. Enver had once served as the Ottoman military attaché to Germany, an experience which left him with a profound love of German militarism and a firm belief that Germany could never be defeated in a war. Enver planned to take back all of the Balkan states which had won their independence from the Ottoman empire; Egypt and Cyprus from the British; Algeria and Tunisia from the French; Libya from the Italians and all of the lands that the Russians had taken from the Ottomans such as the Ukraine, Bessarabia and the Crimea plus the entire Caucasus region and the Kuban plain, which had never been Ottoman. The Volga river was to be the final northern frontier of the empire. In addition, Enver planned to conquer all of Russian Central Asia, and then to follow it up by invading China to annex Chinese Turkestan (the modern Xinjiang region of China). Regarding the empire's archenemy Russia-which had defeated the Ottomans so many times in the wars of the 18th and 19th centuries-Enver envisioned nothing less then the end of Russia as a great power. Finally, Enver planned to conquer Persia (modern Iran) and Afghanistan as the prelude to invading India, which would also be added to the empire. The Israeli historian Major Efraim Karsh wrote that these grandiose plans for the empire reflected Enver's massive ego just as much as it did his intense Turkish nationalism.
The emerging government could hardly be called constitutional. Indeed, 1913 was a period of government by assassination as Nazım and then his successor Mahmud Sevket Pasha were both slain, Nazım at the very instant the CUP seized power. The following year, new legislation made the CUP the Empire's only legal political party; all provincial and local officials reported to "Responsible Secretaries" chosen by the party for each vilayet. Right from the start, the triumvirate which dominated the CUP did not accept the outcome of the Balkan wars as final, and a major aim of the new regime was to take back all of the territory which been lost. Enver Pasha made a speech in 1913 which he said: "
"How could a person forget the plains, the meadows, watered with the blood of our forefathers, abandon those places where Turkish raiders had hidden their steeds for six hundred years, with our mosques, our tombs, our dervish retreats, our bridges, and our castles, to leave them to our slaves, to be driven out of Rumelia to Anatolia, this was beyond a person's endurance. I am prepared to gladly sacrifice the remaining years of my life to take revenge on the Bulgarians, the Greeks and the Montenegrins".
Another Unionist stated that "The people of the Balkans turned Rumelia into a slaughterhouse of the Turks". He added that the entire movement was obsessed with taking back Rumelia (the Ottoman name for the Balkans), and to have revenge for the humiliating defeat of 1912. A school textbook from 1914 captured the burning desire for revenge:
"In the year 1330  the Balkan states allied against the Ottoman government…In the meantime, they shed the blood of many innocent Muslim and Turkish people. Many women and children were massacred. Villages were burnt down. Now in the Balkans under every stone, there lay thousands of dead bodies, with eyes and stomachs carved out, awaiting revenge…It is our duty to our fatherland, as sons of the fatherland, to restore our stolen rights, and to work to take revenge for the many innocent people whose blood were shred in abundance. Then let us work to instil that sense of revenge, love of fatherland and sense of sacrifice for it."
The loss of Rumelia had reduced the need for Ottomanism while the defeat in the First Balkan War had seemingly showed that the empire's Christian population were always disloyal, thus allowing for a more public display of Turkish nationalism. In the aftermath of the First Balkan War with the humiliating loss of Rumelia together with thousands of refugees from Rumelia bearing tales of atrocities committed by the Greek, Montenegrin, Serb and Bulgarian forces, a marked anti-Christian and xenophobic mood settled in amongst many Muslims in Anatolia.
The first part of the plan for revenge was to go on a massive arms-buying spree, buying as many weapons from Germany as possible while importantly asking for a new German military mission to be sent to the empire, which would not only train the Ottoman army, but also command Ottoman troops in the field. In December 1913, the new German military mission under the command of General Otto Liman von Sanders arrived to take command of the Ottoman Army; in practice, Enver who was determined to uphold his own power did not allow the German officers the sort of wide-ranging authority over the Ottoman Army that the German-Ottoman agreement of October 1913 had envisioned. At the same time, the Unionist government was seeking allies for the war of revenge it planned to launch as soon as possible. General Ahmed Izzet Pasha, the Chief of the General Staff recalled: "…what I expected from an alliance based on defense and security, while others’ expectations depended upon total attack and assault. Without doubt, the leaders of the CUP were anxiously looking for ways to compensate for the pain of the defeats, which the population blamed on them." An extensive purge of the Army was carried out in January 1914 with about 1, 100 officers including 2 field marshals, 3 generals, 30 lieutenant-generals, 95 major-generals and 184 colonels whom Enver had considered to be inept forced to take early retirement. Right from the time of the 1913 coup d’état, the new government planned to wage a total war, and wished to indoctrinate the entire Turkish population, especially the young people for the said planned total war. In June 1913, the government founded the Turkish Strength Association, a paramilitary group run by former army officers to which all young Turkish men were encouraged to join. The Turkish Strength Association featured much physical exercise and military training intended to let the Turks become the "warlike nation in arms" and ensure that the current generation of teenagers "who, in order to save the deteriorating Turkish race from extinction, would learn to be self-sufficient and read to die for fatherland, honor and pride". Besides for engaging in gymnastics, long-distance walking, running, boxing, tennis, football jumping, swimming, horse-riding, and shooting practice, the Turkish Strength Association handed out free medical books, opened dispensaries to treat diseases like tuberculosis and ran free mobile medical clinics. The chief ideologue of the CUP, Ziya Gökalp wrote the anthem of the Turkish Strength Association, Yeni Atilla, ("New Atilla"). In May 1914, the Turkish Strength Association was replaced with the Ottoman Strength Clubs, which were very similar except for the fact that the Ottoman Strength Clubs were run by Ministry of War and membership was compulsory for Turkish males between the ages of 10-17. Even more so than the Turkish Strength Association, the Ottoman Strength Clubs were meant to train the nation for war with an ultra-nationalist propaganda and military training featuring live-fire exercises being an integral part of its activities. In the aftermath of the First Balkan War, a much greater emphasis was put on Turkish nationalism with the Turks being gloried in endless poems, pamphlets, newspaper articles and speeches as a great warrior nation who needed to recapture their former glory. Along the same lines was a new emphasis on the role of women, who the duty of bearing and raising the new generation of soldiers, who had to raise their songs to have "bodies of iron and nerves of steel". Reflecting Goltz's influence, especially his "nation in arms" theory, the purpose of the society under the new regime was to support the military.
Absent the wartime atmosphere, the CUP did not purge minority religions from political life; at least 23 Christians joined it and were elected to the third Parliament. This is one possible motivation for the entry into the war, another being the "pan-Turkic" ideology of the party which emphasized the Empire's manifest destiny of ruling over the Turkic people of Central Asia once Russia was driven out of that region. Notably, two of the "Three Pashas", Enver Pasha and Djemal Pasha, would in fact die in the Soviet Union leading Muslim anti-Communist movements years after the Russian Revolution and the Ottoman defeat in World War I.
In January 1914, Enver had decided to save the empire, Anatolia would have become ethnically Turkish. To that end, the Special Organization was deployed in the spring of 1914 to begin a terror campaign against the Greek population in the Smyrna (modern İzmir) area with the aim of "cleansing" the area. The purpose of the campaign was described in a CUP document:
"The Committee of Union and Progress made a clear decision. The source of the trouble in western Anatolia would be removed, the Greeks would be cleared out by means of political and economic measures. Before anything else, it would be necessary to weaken and break the economically powerful Greeks."
The campaign did not proceed with the same level of brutality as did the Armenian genocide during 1915 as the Unionists were afraid of a hostile foreign reaction, but during the "cleansing" operations in the spring of 1914 carried out by the CUP's Special Organization is estimated to have caused at the deaths of at least 300, 000 Greeks with thousands more terrified Greeks fleeing across the Aegean to Greece. In July 1914, the "cleansing operation" was stopped following protests from the ambassadors to the Porte with the French ambassador Maurice Bompard speaking especially strongly in defense of the Greeks. In many ways, the operation against the Greeks in 1914 was a trial run for the operations that were launched against the Armenians in 1915.
In the summer of 1914, the German ambassador Hans von Wangenheim launched a public relations campaign designed to swing public opinion towards the Reich. Wangenheim on behalf of the German government secretly purchased Ikdam, the empire's largest newspaper, which under the new ownership began to loudly abuse Britain, France and Russia as Islam's greatest enemies while reminding its readers that the German Emperor was the self-proclaimed "protector" of Islam. Increasing large numbers of Germans, both civilians and soldiers began to arrive in Constantinople, who as the American ambassador Henry Morgenthau reported filled all the cafes and marched through the streets "in the small hours of the morning, howling and singing German patriotic songs" while German officers were "rushing through the streets every day in huge automobiles". As the German military mission to train and lead the Ottoman army expanded, the Ottoman army changed as Morgenthau described it: "What...had been an undisciplined, ragged rabble was now parading with the goose step; the men were clad in German field gray, and they even wore a casque-shaped head covering, which slightly suggested the German Pickelhaube". Morgenthau further noted that the German officers "were immensely proud" because they changed "the wretched Turkish soldiers of January into these neatly dressed, smartly stepping, splendidly maneuvering troops". As the German influence increased, diplomats from Britain, France and Russia correspondingly very unwelcome in Constantinople. Morgenthau wrote that the British ambassador Sir Louis du Pan Mallet had played his hand poorly as he "had not purchased Turkish officials with money, as had Wagenheim; he had not corrupted the Turkish press, trampled on every remaining vestige of international law, fraternized with a gang of political desperadoes, and conducted a ceaseless campaign of misrepresentations and lies against his enemy."
On 2 August 1914, the Ottoman and German governments signed a secret offensive-defensive alliance. The purpose of this alliance was to bring the Ottomans into World War I. On 4 August 1914, Wangenheim informed the Ottoman cabinet that the German Mediterranean squadron was sailing towards the Ottoman empire during the famous pursuit of the Goeben and Breslau,and requested that the Ottomans grant the squadron sanctuary once it arrived. On 6 August 1914, the grand vizer Said Halim Pasha told Wangenheim that the Goeben and Breslau would only be allowed to enter Ottoman waters if the German government agreed to back the Ottoman demands made during the negotiations for the Ottoman-German alliance for German support of Ottoman plans for expansionism into the Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia. With the British Mediterranean fleet in hot pursuit of the German ships, Wangenheim agreed to accept the 6-point programme demanded by the Ottoman government, and on 10 August 1914, the German Mediterranean squadron sailed into Constantinople. On August 16, a phony deal was signed with the Ottoman government supposedly buying the Goeben and Breslau for $86 million US, but with the German officers and crews remaining on abroad; under international law as a neutral the Ottomans could only allowed the warships to remain for 24 hours before interning them. In practice, the German warships despite officially becoming part of the Ottoman navy remained part of the Germany navy, not the least because no money had actually been exchanged. On 24 September 1914, the commander of the German Mediterranean squadron, Admiral Wilhelm Souchon was appointed commander of the Ottoman navy. On 27 September 1914, the Ottoman government in defiance of the 1841 treaty regulating the use of the Turkish straits linking the Black Sea to the Mediterranean closed the Turkish straits to international shipping, which was an immense blow to the Russian economy as Russian exports from Odessa were carried by ships via the Turkish straits. The Finance Minister who was opposed to entering the war later recalled:"Everything possible was done at the time to act in a way that would violate our neutrality towards the Entente countries...German soldiers and officers continued to arrive in Istanbul, in civilian dress, by way of Rumania and Bulgaria".
In order to rally public support for the war, the triumvirate wanted it to appear like the empire was the victim of Allied aggression. To achieve this goal, the CUP deployed the so-called "Special Organization" to stage raids over the border into Russia in August–September 1914 out of the hope that the Russians would respond by declaring war. As it was the Russians were fully engaged with Germany and Austria, and the Russian government chose to ignore the raids. In the meantime, a conflict had arouse between Enver and the Germans. Enver told the German ambassador Wangenheim that before the Ottoman empire went to war, he needed at least $20 US million in gold (this was in 1914 money; the equivalent sum today would be hundreds of billions) from Germany to pay for military modernization; the money had to come from Germany as the Ottoman state simply did not have the required $20 million. After handing over the requested $20 million in gold, the Germans were enraged to be told by Enver that he needed at least another $20 million to pay for his military reforms. As Germany was doing very well in the opening months of the war, and it appeared likely to win the war in 1914 with German armies advancing rapidly onto Paris in August–September 1914, the German government was not inclined to grant Enver's second request. On 11 October 1914, the triumvirate met with Wangenheim to inform him quite firmly there was no chance of the Ottomans entering the war until the gold was handed over. It was not until October 1914 when become clear that Germany was not going to win the war in 1914 that the second $20 million worth of gold was handed over. On 12 October, Wangenheim told Enver that the gold was on its way from Berlin to Constantinople. On 21 October, Enver informed the Germans that his plans for the war were now complete and he was already moving his troops towards eastern Anatolia to invade the Russian Caucasus and to Palestine to attack the British in Egypt. To provide a pretext for the war, on 25 October Enver told Souchon to attack the Russian Black Sea ports in the expectation that Russia would declare war in response. On 29 October 1914, the German warships SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau with Ottoman gunboats in support attacked the Russian Black Sea ports of Odessa, Sebastopol and Novorossiysk. On 30 October 1914, the triumvirate called a special session of the Central Committee to explain that the time for the empire to enter the war had now come. On 31 October, the Ottoman cabinet defined the war aim as: "the destruction of our Muscovite enemy [Russia] in order to obtain thereby a natural frontier to our empire, which should include and unite all the branches of our race". Nicholas II did not want a war with the Ottoman empire as his country was already busy fighting (and losing) the war against Germany, but the very public naval attacks against his country was a provocation that could not be ignored. After the act of aggression against his country on 29 October, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Sazonov submitted an ultimatum to the Sublime Porte demanding that the Ottomans intern all of the German military and naval officers in their service; after its rejection Russia declared war on 2 November 1914. On 5 November, Britain and France declared war on the empire. On 11 November, the Sultan-Caliph issued a declaration of jihad against Russia, Britain and France, ordering all Muslims everywhere in the world to fight for the destruction of those nations. The diplomats from the Auswärtiges Amt who saw the formal declaration of jihad as it was delivered by sheikh-ul-Islam Mustafa Hayri Bey in a public park and other imams elsewhere were deeply disturbed by the speeches announcing the jihad. Even through Germans and Austrians were declared exempt from the jihad, the speeches announcing the jihad had very marked xenophobic, anti-Western and anti-Christian tones, with many of the speakers making statements that all Muslims should kill all Christians everywhere (except for Germans and Austrians).
War and Genocide
Right from the beginning of the war, the Unionist leadership had envisioned the war as a total war in which the resources of the entire society were to be engaged, and so the war proved to be. So many men were conscripted into the war, that the government was forced for employ hundreds of thousands of women in previously male-dominated fields, indeed for many Turkish women the this was the first time that they had ever worked. In 1915, the Ottoman Strength Clubs were renamed as the Ottoman Youth Clubs designed to train the entire Turkish youth for the war. During the war, the military reforms of 1913-14 paid off in that the Ottoman Army fought considerably better than it had done in the First Balkan War in 1912, and at the end of the war, had been defeated, but crucially not destroyed.
Although the CUP had worked with the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire to reinstall constitutional monarchy against Abdul Hamid II, factions in the CUP began to view the Armenians as a fifth column that would betray the Ottoman cause after World War I with nearby Russia broke out; these factions gained more power after the 1913 Ottoman coup d'état. Indeed, the first major offensive the Turks undertook in World War I was an unsuccessful attempt to drive the Russians from the portion of partially classic Armenia, which they had retaken in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877. After the failure of this expedition, the CUP's leaders (Enver, Djemal, and Talaat, known collectively as the "Three Pashas") were involved in ordering the deportations and massacres of between 1 and 1.5 million Armenians in 1915–1916, known to history as the Armenian Genocide. The government would had liked to resume the "cleansing operations" against the Greek minority in western Anatolia, but this was vetoed by Wangenheim, who informed the Sublime Porte if the operations against the Greeks resumed, then Germany would cease the supply of arms. As the Ottoman empire had almost no modern industry, the empire was almost entirely dependent upon weapons from Germany to fight the war. In Greece public opinion was badly split between pro-German and pro-Allied factions, the Greek King Constantine I was married to the sister of Wilhelm II, and the Greek royal family were receiving bribes from the Auswärtiges Amt, and so for all these reasons, it was seen as quite possible to bring Greece into the war on the side of the Central Powers. Seen from the perspective of Berlin, it would undesirable to have the Reich's ally the Ottoman empire to sent thousands more ethnic Greek refugees fleeing into Greece.
The Special Organization played a key role in the Armenian genocide. The Special Organization, which was made of especially fanatical Unionist cadres was expanded from the August 1914 onwards. Talaat Pasha, the Interior Minister gave orders that all of the prisoners convicted of the worse crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, etc could have their freedom if they agreed to join the Special Organization to kill Armenians and loot their property. Besides for the hardened career criminals, the rank and file of the Special Organization killing units comprised Kurdish tribesmen attracted by the prospect of plunder and refugees from Rumelia, who were thirsting for the prospect of revenge against Christians after been forced to flee from the Balkans in 1912. The recruitment of hardened career criminals straight from the prison system into the Special Organization explains the very high incidence of rape during the Armenian genocide. As explained in the key indictment at the trial (in absentia) of the Three Pashas, the Armenian Genocide massacres were spearheaded by the Special Organization (Ottoman Turkish: تشکیلات مخصوصه, Teşkilât-ı Mahsusa) under its leader, the Turkish physician Dr. Behaeddin Shakir. The Special Organization was much feared by all and were by all accounts the ones responsible for the worse violence against the Armenians. Besides for genocide against the Armenians, the CUP regime waged the Assyrian genocide against the Assyrian minority and the Pontic Greek genocide against the Pontic Greeks in Pontus.
The dissolution of the CUP was achieved through military trials.
As the military position of the Central Powers disintegrated in October 1918, the government resigned. A new Grand Vizier, Ahmed Izzet Pasha, negotiated the Armistice of Mudros at the end of the month. The position of the CUP was now untenable, and its top leaders fled three days later.
British forces occupied various points throughout the Empire, and through their High Commissioner Somerset Calthorpe, demanded that those members of the leadership who had not fled be put on trial, a policy also demanded by Part VII of the Treaty of Sèvres formally ending hostilities between the Allies and the Empire. The British carried off 60 Turks thought to be responsible for atrocities to Malta, where trials were planned. The new government obligingly arrested over 100 party and military officials by April 1919 and began a series of trials. These were initially promising, with one district governor, Mehmed Kemal, being hanged on April 10.
Any possibility of a general effort at truth, reconciliation, or democratization was, however, lost when Greece, which had sought to remain neutral through most of World War I, was invited by France, Britain, and the United States to occupy western Anatolia in May 1919. Turkish nationalist leader Mustafa Kemal rallied the Turkish people to resist. Two additional organizers of the genocide were hanged, but while a few others were convicted, none completed their prison terms. The CUP and other Turkish prisoners held on Malta were eventually traded for almost 30 British prisoners held by Nationalist forces, obliging the British to give up their plans for international trials.
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As the defeat loomed in 1918, the CUP founded the an underground group known as the Karakol (guard) and set up secret arms depots to wage guerrilla war against the Allies when they reached Anatolia. The Karakol constituted the core of the post-war Turkish National Movement. After its dissolving itself in 1918, many former Unionists were actively engaged in the Turkish national movement that emerged in 1919, usually from their work within the Karakol group. The Turkish historian Handan Nezir Akmeșe wrote about the legacy of a decade of Unionist government in 2005:
"The War of Independence proved to the total war which Enver and other nationalist officers had envisaged over many years: one which would secure the independence of the Turkish population of the Empire and prove the ultimate stimulus to, and the test of, their loyalty and devotion to their fatherland. Its successful outcome reflected the involvement and mobilization of all sections of society, and the military victory resulted in the foundation of a new and independent Turkish state. Critics have blamed the Unionists, and Enver in particular, for wantonly involving the Ottoman Empire in the First World War and so ensuring its destruction. However, it can equally be argued that if the nationalist officers had not identified the army with civilian Turkish society, secured the restoration of the constitution in 1908, engaged in a fundamental reevaluation of Ottoman ideology, seen the army as the school of the nation and defender of the rights of the people, and consequently assumed the responsibility for infusing their own particular martial and moral values into society as a whole, as well as achieving technical reforms that enabled the Ottoman armies to perform so remarkably well in the First World War, neither the Ottoman army nor the Ottoman society of 1918 would have been ready to wage the War of Independence. In other words, if it had not been for the Unionist officers there would have been no Turkish nation-state."
The CUP has at times been identified with the two opposition parties that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk attempted to introduce into Turkish politics against his own party in order to help jump-start multiparty democracy in Turkey, namely the Progressive Republican Party and the Liberal Republican Party. While neither of these parties was primarily made up of persons indicted for genocidal activities, they were eventually taken over (or at least exploited) by persons who wished to restore the Ottoman Caliphate. Consequently, both parties were required to be outlawed, although Kazim Karabekir, founder of the PRP, was eventually rehabilitated after the death of Atatürk and even served as speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.
It was also Karabekir who crystallized the modern Turkish position on the controversial Armenian Genocide, telling Soviet peace commissioners that the return of any Armenians to territory controlled by Turks was out of the question, as the Armenians had perished in a rebellion of their own making. Historian Taner Akçam has identified four definitions of Turkey which have been handed down by the first Republican generation to modern Turks, of which the second is "Turkey is a society without ethnic minorities or cultures." While the postwar reconstruction of Eastern Europe was generally dominated by Wilsonian ideas of national self-determination, Turkey probably came closer than most of the new countries to ethnic homogeneity due to the subsequent population exchanges with neighboring countries (e.g. population exchange between Greece and Turkey).
Atatürk was particularly eager that Islamism be marginalized, leading to the tradition of secularism in Turkey. This idea was culminated by the CUP in its more liberal heyday, as it was one of the first mass movements in Turkish history that abandoned political Islam.
In popular culture
- In the 2010 alternate history novel Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld, the Young Turk Revolution in 1908 fails, igniting a new revolution at the start of World War I.
- پاره، دولت اعليه، قوسطنطنيه، رشاد، 1908 ۲۰
- Vahit İpekçi, Dr. Nâzım Bey’in Siyasal Yaşamı, Yeditepe Üniversitesi Atatürk İlkeleri ve İnkılap Tarihi Enstitüsü, İstanbul 2006
- Ali Haydar Bayat, Hüseyinzade Ali Bey, 1998
- Worringer, Renee Ottomans Imagining Japan: East, Middle East, and Non-Western Modernity at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, London: Palgrave, 2014 pages 21-22.
- Celil Layiktez, THE HYSTORY OF FREEMASONRY IN TURKEY
- Akçam, Taner A Shameful Act, London: Macmillan, 2007 page 62.
- Worringer, Renee Ottomans Imagining Japan: East, Middle East, and Non-Western Modernity at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, London: Palgrave, 2014 pages 53-54.
- Worringe, Renée ""Sick Man of Europe" or "Japan of the near East"?: Constructing Ottoman Modernity in the Hamidian and Young Turk Eras" pages 207-230 from International Journal of Middle East Studies, Volume 36, Issue # 2, May 2004 pages 210-211
- Worringe, Renée ""Sick Man of Europe" or "Japan of the near East"?: Constructing Ottoman Modernity in the Hamidian and Young Turk Eras" pages 207-230 from International Journal of Middle East Studies, Volume 36, Issue # 2, May 2004 pages 210-211 & 222
- Akçam, Taner A Shameful Act, London: Macmillan, 2007 page 57.
- Akçam, Taner A Shameful Act, London: Macmillan, 2007 pages 52-53.
- Akçam, Taner A Shameful Act, London: Macmillan, 2007 page 53.
- Akçam, Taner A Shameful Act, London: Macmillan, 2007 pages 53-54.
- Akçam, Taner A Shameful Act, London: Macmillan, 2007 pages 51-52.
- Akçam, Taner A Shameful Act, London: Macmillan, 2007 page xxiv.
- Akçam, Taner A Shameful Act, London: Macmillan, 2007 pages 59 & 67-68.
- Akçam, Taner A Shameful Act, London: Macmillan, 2007 page 58.
- Akmeșe, Handan Nezir The Birth of Modern Turkey The Ottoman Military and the March to World I, London: I.B Tauris, 2005 page 53
- Akçam, Taner A Shameful Act, London: Macmillan, 2007 pages 57-58.
- Akçam, Taner A Shameful Act, London: Macmillan, 2007 page 59.
- Akmeșe, Handan Nezir The Birth of Modern Turkey The Ottoman Military and the March to World I, London: I.B Tauris, 2005 pages 50-51
- Akmeșe, Handan Nezir The Birth of Modern Turkey The Ottoman Military and the March to World I, London: I.B Tauris, 2005 page 52
- Akmeșe, Handan Nezir The Birth of Modern Turkey The Ottoman Military and the March to World I, London: I.B Tauris 2005 page 47
- Akmeșe, Handan Nezir The Birth of Modern Turkey The Ottoman Military and the March to World I, London: I.B Tauris, 2005 pages 50-52
- Akmeșe, Handan Nezir The Birth of Modern Turkey The Ottoman Military and the March to World I, London: I.B Tauris, 2005 page 47
- Akmeșe, Handan Nezir The Birth of Modern Turkey The Ottoman Military and the March to World I, London: I.B Tauris, 2005 pages 47-48
- Akmeșe, Handan Nezir The Birth of Modern Turkey The Ottoman Military and the March to World I, London: I.B Tauris, 2005 pages 52-53
- Akmeșe, Handan Nezir The Birth of Modern Turkey The Ottoman Military and the March to World I, London: I.B Tauris, 2005 page 58
- Worringe, Renée ""Sick Man of Europe" or "Japan of the near East"?: Constructing Ottoman Modernity in the Hamidian and Young Turk Eras" pages 207-230 from International Journal of Middle East Studies, Volume 36, Issue # 2, May 2004 page 208.
- Worringe, Renée ""Sick Man of Europe" or "Japan of the near East"?: Constructing Ottoman Modernity in the Hamidian and Young Turk Eras" pages 207-230 from International Journal of Middle East Studies, Volume 36, Issue # 2, May 2004 page 213.
- Worringer, Renee Ottomans Imagining Japan: East, Middle East, and Non-Western Modernity at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, London: Palgrave, 2014 page 186.
- Worringer, Renee Ottomans Imagining Japan: East, Middle East, and Non-Western Modernity at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, London: Palgrave, 2014 pages 54-55.
- Worringer, Renee Ottomans Imagining Japan: East, Middle East, and Non-Western Modernity at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, London: Palgrave, 2014 pages 55-56.
- Worringe, Renée ""Sick Man of Europe" or "Japan of the near East"?: Constructing Ottoman Modernity in the Hamidian and Young Turk Eras" pages 207-230 from International Journal of Middle East Studies, Volume 36, Issue # 2, May 2004 page 216.
- Akmeșe, Handan Nezir The Birth of Modern Turkey The Ottoman Military and the March to World I, London: I.B Tauris, 2005 page 34.
- Akmeșe, Handan Nezir The Birth of Modern Turkey The Ottoman Military and the March to World I, London: I.B Tauris, 2005 page 35.
- Worringer, Renee Ottomans Imagining Japan: East, Middle East, and Non-Western Modernity at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, London: Palgrave, 2014 page 193.
- Worringer, Renee Ottomans Imagining Japan: East, Middle East, and Non-Western Modernity at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, London: Palgrave, 2014 page 257.
- Akçam, Taner A Shameful Act, London: Macmillan, 2007 page 150.
- Worringer, Renee Ottomans Imagining Japan: East, Middle East, and Non-Western Modernity at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, London: Palgrave, 2014 pages 41, 53, 69, 81-82, 188, 224-227,& 260-261.
- Saaler, Sven Review of The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan-Islamic and Pan-Asian Thought by Cemil Aydin pages 441-443 from Pacific Affairs, Volume 81, Issue #3 Fall 2008 page 442.
- Worringe, Renée ""Sick Man of Europe" or "Japan of the near East"?: Constructing Ottoman Modernity in the Hamidian and Young Turk Eras" pages 207-230 from International Journal of Middle East Studies, Volume 36, Issue # 2, May 2004 page 222.
- Özbek, Nadi̇r "Defining the Public Sphere during the Late Ottoman Empire: War, Mass Mobilization and the Young Turk Regime (1908-18)" pages 795-808 from Middle Eastern Studies, Volume 43, Issue # 5 September 2007 pages 796-797.
- Karsh, Efraim Review of The Rise of the Young Turks: Politics, the Military, and Ottoman Collapse by M. Naim Turfan pages 439-440 from The International History Review, Volume 23, Issue # 2 June 2001 page 440.
- Schull, Kent Review of The Young Turks’ Crime against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire by Taner Akçam pages 974-976 from The Journal of Modern History, Volume 86, Issue # 4 December 2014 page 975.
- Mombauer, Annika Helmuth Von Moltke and the Origins of the First World War, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001 page 120.
- Akçam, Taner A Shameful Act, London: Macmillan, 2007 page 113.
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