|Nickname(s)||The Hero of Kut
Yenimahalle, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
|Died||August 20, 1957
|Allegiance|| Ottoman Empire
Halil Kut (1881 – August 20, 1957) was an Ottoman and Turkish regional governor and military commander. Halil Pasha was the uncle of Enver Pasha, who was the War Minister during World War I and one of the main organizers of the Armenian Genocide and the Assyrian genocide.
He oversaw the massacre of Armenian men, women and children in Bitlis, Mush, and Beyazit. Many of the victims were buried alive in specially prepared ditches. He also crossed into neighboring Persia and massacred the Armenian, Assyrian, and Persian population.
Kut claimed in his memoirs that he personally killed "more or less" 300,000 Armenians. During a meeting at Yerevan in the summer of 1918, in front of many Armenians Kut declared: "I have endeavored to wipe out the Armenian nation to the last individual."
For three years following his graduation he served the Third Army in Macedonia. When the constitutional order was restored in 1908, the government sent him to Iran to organize dissidence against the Shah whom Persia had installed during the Persian Constitutional Revolution. After the Countercoup (1909) of 13 April 1909, he was called back and became the commander of the Imperial Guard.
Initially he was at Salonica to command the mobile gendarmerie units in the region and was involved in fighting insurgents and bandits prior to the Balkan Wars. He also commanded a unit during Balkan Wars. He was among the group of young officers sent to Libya (Trablusgarp) in 1911 to organize the defense against the Italian invasion during the Italo-Turkish War. Before World War I, he served as the commander of the gendarmerie regiment in Van.
World War I
When Turkey entered the World War, he was working at the High Command in Constantinople. He later served as the divisional commander in 3rd Ottoman army on the Russian border, thereby also involved in operations against the Armenians who were allied to the Russians. Later, he was one of the senior commanders of the Ottoman forces in Mesopotamia, now Iraq, during World War I.
In 1915, he was the commander of the forces capturing Kut in southern Iraq and taking General Townshend prisoner. After this successful campaign, he was promoted to General. He was appointed governor of the Baghdad province (present day Iraq and Kuwait combined) and was also the commander of the Sixth Army from 19 April 1916 till the end of the war in 1918.
His greatest success during his tactical - after 19 April 1916 operational - command in Iraq was the encirclement and 143 day Siege of Kut, and the eventual surrender of the British Expeditionary Armies on 29 April 1916. However, credit for this success is shared with his senior officer and predecessor as Commander of the 6th Ottoman Army, German Field-Marshal Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz, who had died 10 days before.
In 1917, Halil Pasha was ordered by the Minister of Defense Enver Pasha to move some of his troops to the Persian Campaign  It was an unsuccessful attempt to destabilize the British supported government there. This limited his ability to defend Baghdad and led to the Fall of Baghdad. After which fresh British forces were massed at the Iraq front after this surrender.
Halil Pasha had a supporting role in the Armenian Genocide. He took part in the civilian killings during the Siege of Van and was also the uncle of Enver Pasha, one of the Three Pashas who had organized the genocide. Kut had conducted "the massacre" of Armenian battalions as stated by the German Vice-consul of Erzurum and later testified by a soldier who had been under his command by saying, "Halil had the entire Armenian population (men, women and children) in the areas of Bitlis, Mus, and Beyazit also massacred without pity. My company received a similar order. Many of the victims were buried alive in especially prepared ditches." Others, such as German vice-consul of Erzurum Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter, reported that "Halil Bey's campaign in northern Persia included the massacre of his Armenian and Syrian battalions and the expulsion of the Armenian, Syrian, and Persian population out of Persia ..." In his memoirs, he would proudly admit to his role in the genocide and his intention to kill every Armenian in the world. Halil had also tried to justify the genocide and accused the Armenians of being a threat to the Ottoman Empire. His exact words (literally translated) are:
The Armenian nation, which I had tried to annihilate to the last member of it, because it tried to erase my country from history as prisoners of the enemy in the most horrible and painful days of my homeland, the Armenian nation, which I want to restore its peace and luxury, because today it takes shelter under the virtue of the Turkish nation. If you remain loyal to the Turkish homeland, I'll do every good thing that I can. If you hook on several senseless Komitadjis again, and try to betray Turks and the Turkish homeland, I will order my forces which surround all your country and I won't leave even a single breathing Armenian all over the earth. Get your mind.
He was jailed by the British Occupying Forces in Constantinople, but escaped and fled to Moscow. In accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Moscow (1921) signed between the Ankara Government and the Soviet leadership, he carried the gold bullion sent by Lenin to Ankara, to pay for Turkey's return of Batum to the Soviets. Since he was not permitted to stay in Turkey at the time, he first moved back to Moscow and then to Berlin.
- Biographical note - Khalil Pasha - downloaded from FirstWorldWar.com, January 13, 2006.
- Gaunt, David (2006). Massacres, resistance, protectors: muslim-christian relations in Eastern Anatolia during world war I (1st Gorgias Press ed.). Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias. ISBN 1-59333-301-3.
- Kiernan, Ben (2008). Blood and Soil: Modern Genocide 1500–2000. Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 0-522-85477-X.
- Winter, J. M. (2003). America and the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-511-16382-1.
- "Kutülamara kahramanı Halil Kut dün vefat etti", Milliyet, August 21, 1957.
- Kiernan 2008, p. 413.
- Gaunt 2006, p. 109.
- Winter 2003, p. 65.
- Babikian, Aris (June 3, 1998). "Wall of silence built around Armenian genocide". The Ottawa Citizen. p. A14.
- Pritchard, Maria. Genocide. RW Press. p. 1971. ISBN 1-909284-27-0.
- Simon, Rachel (1987). Libya between Ottomanism and nationalism: the Ottoman involvement in Libya during the War with Italy (1911-1919). K. Schwarz. p. 140.
- The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol.7, Edited by Hugh Chisholm, (1911), 3; "Constantinople, the capital of the Turkish Empire...".
- M. Taylan Sorgun,"Bitmeyen Savaş",1972. Memoirs of Halil Paşa
- M. Taylan Sorgun,"Bitmeyen Savaş",1972,p195.
- Kiernan, Ben (2008). Blood and soil : a world history of genocide and extermination from Sparta to Darfur. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Publishing. p. 413. ISBN 0-522-85477-X.
- Gaunt, David (2006). Massacres, resistance, protectors: muslim-christian relations in Eastern Anatolia during world war I (1st Gorgias Press ed.). Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias. p. 109. ISBN 1-59333-301-3.
- Halil Paşa (transcribed by Taylan Sorgun), İttihat ve Terakki'den Cumhuriyet'e Bitmeyen Savaş, Kamer, İstanbul, 1997, pp. 240–41, Turkish text: Vatanımın en korkunç ve acı günlerinde vatanımı düşmana esir olarak tarihten silmeye kalktıkları için son ferdine kadar yok etmeye çalıştığım Ermeni Milleti, bugün Türk milletinin âlicenaplığına sığındığı için huzura ve rahata kavuşturmak istediğim Ermeni milleti. Eğer siz Türk vatanına sâdık kalırsanız elimden gelen her iyi şeyi yapacağım. Eğer yine bir takım şuursuz komitacılara takılarak Türk'e ve Türk vatanına ihanete kalkarsanız bütün memleketinizi saran ordularıma emir vererek dünya üstünde nefes alacak tek Ermeni bırakmayacağım, aklınızı başınıza alın.
- Biography of Halil Kut at Turkey in the First World War website