Topal Osman

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Topal Osman

Topal Osman Agha (1883, Giresun, Trebizond Vilayet – 2 April 1923, Ankara) was a Turkish militia leader of the late Ottoman and early Republican periods. He commanded the 42nd Giresun Volunteer Regiment and 47th Giresun Volunteer Regiment. His last rank was Lieutenant-colonel of militia (Milis Yarbayı).[1]


Balkan Wars[edit]

He was a veteran of the 1912–1913 Balkan Wars, where he became lame in one foot (Turkish: topal).

Armenian Genocide[edit]

Topal Osman was known to have been responsible for massacres against Armenians during the Armenian Genocide in the Pontus region where he was stationed during World War I.[2][3][4][5] While in Trabzon, Osman made a name for himself in the spring of 1915 as commander of a squadron of gangs.[6] Osman, along with Ishak Çavuş, were known to have partaken in the drowning and massacres of the local Armenian population.[7] During this time, Osman had also profiteered from the confiscation of assets and property belonging to the Armenians.[3]

Greek Genocide[edit]

After the first world war Topal Osman Pasha continued his operations in the Black Sea region, this time targeting rebellious Christian Pontic Greeks during the Turkish war of independence. He is seen as one of the key perpetrators of the Greek Genocide, particularly in the northern region of Turkey historically known as Pontus. According to Mustafa Kemal's recent biographer, Topal Osman was a "sadistic ethnic cleanser of Armenians and Greeks."[8] Osman along with his gang of cut throats, were responsible for massacres, deportations, destruction and confiscation of property, extortion, rapes and other atrocities throughout this region including the cities, towns and villages of Samsun, Marsovan, Giresun, Tirebolu, Unye, Havza and Bulancak.[9] He was however refused arms and cooperation by the government and inhabitants of Trabzon, where multicultural pro-Ottoman ideals were stronger due to inter-ethnic and religious family ties. Out of anger for this refusal, Topal Osman sacked some houses in a Christian neighborhood before being forced out of the city by armed Turkish port workers and officials. Together with his subsequent murder of Trabzon deputy Ali Şükrü Bey (leader of the first Turkish opposition party) this led to long standing animosity between the nationalist government of Mustafa Kemal and the population of Trabzon.[10]

Koçgiri Rebellion[edit]

Murder of Ali Şükrü Bey[edit]

For his work in the national movement, Osman became commander of Mustafa Kemal's special Bodyguard Regiment.[11] and his loyal vassal[clarification needed] Captain of militia Mustafa Kaptan was appointed the commander of the Guard Battalion of the Grand National Assembly.[12] He choked Trabzon deputy Ali Şükrü Bey (tr) to death on 27 March 1923, allegedly in response to Şükrü's criticism of Mustafa Kemal.[13]

Topal Osman Affair[edit]

Mustafa Kemal ordered İsmail Hakkı Bey, who was the commander of the Presidential Guard Battalion, to take Topal Osman and his fellows into custody.[1] Osman was surrounded at his hideout in Seyran Bağları wards, and in the resulting exchange of fire, was wounded and captured on 1 April 1923. Later that day, under İsmail Hakkı's orders, he was executed by a shot to the head.[14]

On 2 April, at the insistence of the "Second Group", his body was dug up and hung at the gate of the parliament building (today War of Independence Museum) for exhibition to the public.[15] According to some sources, his decapitated corpse was hung in the Ulus Square.[16][17] He now rests in Giresun.[18]


Toktamış Ateş of Istanbul University claims that former primer minister Tansu Çiller had once promised to open a university in Topal's name.[19]

A statue of him was erected in his home town of Giresun in 2007. The erection of the statue has been linked to retired General Veli Küçük, currently under arrest for serving as a member of Ergenekon.[20] Küçük's first attempt to erect the statue was in 1981, but it was blocked by the Turkish Historical Society. Küçük tried again in 2001 but failed in his attempt after strong opposition from Mayor Mehmet Işık. It was finally erected in 2007 with the assistance of Ali Kara, chairman of the local small businessmen group of Giresun. Kara was one of the figures whose deposition was taken during the Ergenekon investigation.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Doğan Avcıoğlu, Millî Kurtuluş Tarihi, 1838'den 1955'e, Cilt 3, İstanbul Matbaası, 1974, p. 1195. (in Turkish)
  2. ^ Clark, Bruce (2006). Twice a stranger : the mass expulsion that forged modern Greece and Turkey. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press. p. 113. ISBN 0674023684. 
  3. ^ a b Gawrych, George W. (2013). The Young Atatürk: From Ottoman Soldier to Statesman of Turkey. I.B.Tauris. p. 180. ISBN 0857733273. 
  4. ^ Gerlach, Christian (2010). Extremely Violent Societies: Mass Violence in the Twentieth-Century World. Cambridge University Press. p. 118. ISBN 1139493515. 
  5. ^ Jerjian, George (2003). The truth will set us free: Armenians and Turks reconciled. GJ Communication. p. 26. 
  6. ^ Raymond Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide: A Complete History, I.B.Tauris, 2011, ISBN 9781848855618, p. 221.
  7. ^ Raymond Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide: A Complete History, I.B.Tauris, 2011, ISBN 9781848855618, p. 486.
  8. ^ Shenk, R. America's Black Sea Fleet: The U.S. Navy Amidst War and Revolution, 1919-1921". Naval Institute Press 2012. 50-51
  9. ^ Black Book: The Tragedy of Pontus, The Central Council of Pontus, Athens 1922, 20-21
  10. ^ Twice a Stranger: The Mass Expulsions that Forged Modern Greece and Turkey, p.112-116 Bruce Clark, 2006, Harvard University Press.
  11. ^ Taner Akçam, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility, ISBN 0-8050-7932-7, p. 341-2.
  12. ^ Cemal Şener, Topal Osman Olayı, Ant Yayınları, 1992, p. 105. (in Turkish)
  13. ^ Ayşe Hür, "Çağımızın Bir (Başka) Kahramanı", Birikim, February 2006 (in Turkish)
  14. ^ "1923 Timeline". Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Retrieved 4 September 2008. 
  15. ^ Ergün Aybars, İstiklâl Mahkemeleri: 1923-1927, Kültür ve Türizm Bakanlığı, 1982, p. 14. (in Turkish)
  16. ^ Uğur Mumcu, Kürt-İslam Ayaklanması, 1919-1925, Tekin Yayınevi, 1991, p. 194. (in Turkish)
  17. ^ Vahakn N. Dadrian, Taner Akçam, Tehcir ve Taktil: Divan-ı Harb-i Örfî Zabıtları İttihad ve Terakki'nin Yargılanması: 1919-1922, p. 214. (in Turkish)
  18. ^ Teoman Alpaslan, Topal Osman Ağa efsanesi, Kum Saati Publishing, 2007.[page needed]
  19. ^ Ateş, Toktamış (15 June 2006). "Topal Osman ya da Osman Ağa". Bugün (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 6 December 2008. Retrieved 4 September 2008. Sayın Tansu Çiller başbakanken, Giresun'a bir 'Topal Osman Üniversitesi' vadetmesi, doğrusu canımı çok sıkmıştı. 
  20. ^

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