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İsmail Enver
November 22, 1881(1881-11-22) – August 4, 1922 (aged 40)
Ismail Enver.jpg
Ismail Enver
Nickname Enver Pasha
Place of birth Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Place of death Çeğen, Tajikistan, Soviet Union
Allegiance Ottoman Empire
Rank General, Minister of War
Unit Third Army
Battles/wars Italo-Turkish War, Balkan Wars, Battle of Sarikamish, Basmachi Revolt
Other work Revolutionary

İsmail Enver Efendi (Ottoman Turkish: اسماعيل انور) (November 22, 1881 – August 4, 1922), known to Europeans during his political and military career as Enver Pasha (Turkish: Enver Paşa) or Enver Bey, was a Turkish military officer and a leader of the Young Turk revolution. He was the main leader of the Ottoman Empire in both Balkan Wars and World War I.


Early life and career

Enver Bey was born to a not well-to-do family in Constantinople.[1][2] According to Mark Mazower his father was a Turkish bridge-keeper and his mother an Albanian peasant.[3] He studied for different degrees in military schools in the empire and finally he graduated from the Harp Akademisi in 1903. He became a Major in 1906. He was sent to the Third Army, which was stationed in Salonica. During his service in the city, he became a member of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP).

Rise to power

In 1908, the Young Turk Revolution broke out in Salonica, and the young Enver quickly became one of its military leaders. The successful revolt brought the CUP to power, ushering the so-called "Second Constitutional Era" of the Ottoman Empire. During the course of the next year, a reactionary conspiracy to organize a countercoup culminated in the "31 March Incident", which was put down. Enver Bey took an active role in the suppression of the uprising in the government. Afterwards, he was sent to Berlin as a military attaché, where he grew to admire the German military culture, and strengthened the military ties between Germany and the Ottoman Empire, inviting German officers to reform the Ottoman Army.

In 1911, Italy launched an invasion of the Ottoman province of Trablusgarp (modern Libya), starting the Italo-Turkish War. Enver decided to join the defense of the province and left Berlin for Libya. There, he assumed the overall command, but in the end Italy took control of Libya and Enver Bey had to return to Istanbul. In 1912, thanks to his active role in the war, he was made Lieutenant Colonel in 1912. However, the defeat cost the CUP in popularity, and it fell from government, to be replaced by the Liberal Union. In October 1912, the First Balkan War broke out, where the Ottoman armies suffered severe defeats at the hands of the Balkan League. These military reversals weakened the government, and gave Enver his chance to grab for power. In a coup in January 1913, the Young Turks took power, with Enver as War Minister, and left the peace negotiations then under way in London. The renewed hostilities only worsened the Empire's situation, however, as the two major remaining strongholds of Adrianople (Edirne) and Yannina fell to the Bulgarians and the Greeks, respectively, forcing the Ottomans to concede defeat at the Treaty of London.

In June 1913, however, the Second Balkan War broke out between the Balkan Allies. Enver Bey took advantage of the situation and led an army into Eastern Thrace, recovering Adrianople from the Bulgarians, who had concentrated their forces against the Serbs and Greeks. After this success, Enver Bey became a Pasha.

After these political and military achievements, he introduced a military dictatorship that came to be called the Three Pashas (Enver Pasha, Talat Pasha, and Cemal Pasha). In 1914, he was again Minister of War in the cabinet of Sait Halim Pasha, and married HIH Princess Emine Naciye Sultan (Istanbul, Ortaköy, Ortaköy Palace, November 25, 1898 – Istanbul, Nişantaşı, Nişantaşı Palace, December 5, 1957), the daughter of Prince Süleyman, thus entering the royal family. His power grew steadily while Europe marched towards total war.

World War One

Enver Pasha, depicted on a First World War German postcard.

Enver Pasha was an architect of the Ottoman-German Alliance, and expected a quick victory in the war that would benefit the Ottoman Empire. Without informing the other members of the Cabinet, he allowed the two German warships SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau, under the command of German admiral Wilhelm Souchon to enter the Dardanelles to escape British pursuit; the subsequent "donation" of the ships to the neutral Ottomans worked powerfully in Germany's favor, despite French and Russian diplomacy to keep the Ottoman Empire out of the war. Finally on October 29, the point of no return was reached when Admiral Souchon, now Commander-in-Chief of the Ottoman navy, took Goeben, Breslau and a squadron of Ottoman warships into the Black Sea and raided the Russian ports of Odessa, Sevastopol and Theodosia. Russia declared war on Ottoman Empire on November 2, and Britain followed suit on November 5. Most of the Turkish cabinet members and CUP leaders were against such a rushed entry to the war, but Enver Pasha thought that it was the right thing to do.

As soon as the war started, October 31, 1914, Enver ordered that all men of military age report to army recruiting offices. The offices were unable to handle the vast flood of men and long delays occurred. This had the effect of ruining the crop harvest for that year.[citation needed]


War Minister

Enver proved ineffective as War Minister, and frequently over the next four years the Germans had to support the Ottoman government with generals such as Otto Liman von Sanders, Erich von Falkenhayn, Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz, and Friedrich Freiherr Kress von Kressenstein. The Germans also gave the Ottoman government military supplies, soldiers, and fuel.

Enver Pasha’s message to the army and the people was “war until final victory”. During the war, living conditions deteriorated rapidly, and discontent grew. The government of CUP spent much more money than it took in, and the inflation rate over the four years of war was greater than 1600%.[citation needed]

Defeat at Sarikamish, 1914

Enver Pasha assumed command of the Ottoman forces arrayed against the Russians in the Caucasus theatre. He wanted to encircle the Russians, force them out of Ottoman territory and take back Kars and Batumi, which had been ceded after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. Enver thought of himself as a great military leader, while the German military adviser, Liman von Sanders, thought of him as a military buffoon.[4] Enver ordered a complex attack on the Russians, placed himself in personal control of the Third Army, and was utterly defeated at the Battle of Sarikamish in December–January 1914–1915. His strategy seemed feasible on paper, but he had ignored the external conditions such as the terrain and the weather. Enver's army (90,000 men) was defeated by the Russian force (100,000 men) and in the subsequent retreat, tens of thousands of Turkish soldiers died. This was the single worst defeat of an Ottoman army in all of World War I. On his return to Istanbul, Enver Pasha started blaming his failure on the region's local Armenians, initiating the repressive measures against the empire's Armenian population that were an early stage of the Armenian Genocide[5][6][7][8].

Commanding the forces of the capital 1915 – 1918

Enver Pasha, middle, accompanied by Djemal Pasha (right), in a visit to Jerusalem, following the end of the Gallipoli campaign.

After his defeat at Sarıkamısh, Enver returned to Istanbul and took command of the Turkish forces around the capital. He was confident that the capital was safe from any Allied attacks.[9] The British and French were planning on forcing the approaches to Istanbul in the hope of knocking the Ottomans out of the war. A large Allied fleet, largely composed of older battleships unfit for duty against the German High Seas Fleet, assembled and staged an attack on the Dardanelles on March 18, 1915. The attack (the forerunner to the failed Gallipoli campaign) left the Turks - and Enver - demoralized. As a result, Enver turned over command to Liman von Sanders, who led the successful defence of Gallipoli. Later, after many towns on the peninsula had been destroyed and women and children killed by the Allied bombardment, Enver proposed setting up a concentration camp for the remaining French and British citizens in the empire. Henry Morgenthau, the American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, managed to convince Enver not to go through with this plan.[10]

Army of Islam

During 1917, due to the Russian Revolution and subsequent Civil War, the Russian army in the Caucasus had ceased to exist. At the same time, the CUP managed to win the friendship of the Bolsheviks with the signing of the Ottoman-Russian friendship treaty (January 1, 1918). Enver looked for victory when Russia withdrew from the Caucasus region. When Enver discussed his plans for taking over southern Russia, the Germans told him to keep out. Undeterred, Enver ordered the creation of a new military force called the Army of Islam which would have no German officers. Enver's Army of Islam avoided Georgia and marched through Azerbaijan. Third Army was also moving forward to pre-war borders.

The Third Army, moved towards the Democratic Republic of Armenia, which formed the frontline in the Caucasus. General Tovmas Nazarbekian was the commander on the Caucasus front and Andranik Toros Ozanian took the command of Armenia within the Ottoman Empire. Vehib Pasha forced Armenians to retreat and then captured Trabzon, where the Russians had left huge quantities of supplies. Then the army turned towards Georgia.

The Army of Islam, under the control of Nuri Pasha, moved forward and attacked with General Lionel Charles Dunsterville at Baku. General Dunsterville ordered the evacuation of the city on September 14, after six weeks of occupation, and withdrew to Iran; most of the Armenian population escaped with British forces. The Ottomans and their Azeri allies, after the Battle of Baku, entered the city on September 15.

However, after the Armistice of Mudros between Great Britain and Ottoman Empire on October 30, Ottoman troops were replaced by the Triple Entente. These conquests in the Caucasus counted for very little in the war as a whole.

Armistice and exile

Faced with defeat, the Sultan dismissed Enver from his post as War Minister on October 4, 1918, while the rest of Talat Pasha's government resigned on October 14, 1918. On October 30, 1918, the Ottoman Empire capitulated by signing the Armistice of Mudros. Two days later the "Three Pashas" all fled into exile. On January 1, 1919, the new government expelled Enver Pasha from the army. He was tried in absentia in the Turkish Courts-Martial of 1919-20 for crimes of “plunging the country into war without a legitimate reason, forced deportation of Armenians and leaving the country without permission” and condemned to death.[11]

Enver first went to Germany in October 1918 where he communicated and worked with German Communist figures like Karl Radek. He envisioned a cooperation between the new Soviet Russian government against the British, and went to Moscow. There he was received well, and established contacts with representatives from Central Asia and other exiled CUP members as the director of the Soviet Government's Asiatic Department.[12] He also met with Bolshevik leaders, including Lenin. He tried to support the Turkish national movement and corresponded with Mustafa Kemal, giving him the guarantee that he didn't intend to intervene in the movement in Anatolia. Enver Pasha went to Baku between September 1–8, 1920 to take part in the failed "Congress of Eastern Peoples", representing Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. He later returned to Berlin where he tried to establish a secret organization that would transfer Russian military assistance to Turkey, an attempt that eventually failed.

Pan-Turkism and death, 1921-22

On July 30, 1921, with the Turkish War of Independence in full swing, Enver decided to return to Anatolia. He went to Batum to be close to the new border. However, Mustafa Kemal didn't want him among the Turkish revolutionaries. Mustafa Kemal had stopped all friendly ties with Enver Pasha and the CUP as early as 1914, and he explicitly rejected the pan-Turkic ideas and what Mustafa Kemal perceived as Enver Pasha's utopian goals (see: Kemalism). Enver Pasha changed his plans and traveled to Moscow where he managed to win trust of the Soviet authorities. In November 1921 he was sent by Lenin to Bukhara in Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic to help suppress an uprising against the local pro-Moscow Bolshevik regime. However, instead he made secret contacts with some of the rebellion's leaders and, along with a small number of followers, defected to the basmachi side. His aim was to unite the numerous basmachi groups under his own command and mount a co-ordinated offensive against the Bolsheviks in order to realize his pan-Turkish dreams. After a number of successful military operations he managed to establish himself as the rebels' supreme commander, and turned their disorganized forces into a small but well-drilled army. His command structure was built along German lines and his staff included a number of experienced Turkish officers.[13]

On August 4, 1922, however, as he allowed his troops to celebrate the Idi Qurbon holiday and kept a guard of 30 men at his headquarters near the village of Ab-i-Derya near Dushanbe, the Red Army Bashkir cavalry brigade under the command of Yakov Melkumov (Agop Melkumian) launched a surprise attack. According to some sources, Enver and some 25 of his men mounted their horses and charged the approaching troops, during which Enver was killed by machine-gun fire.[14] In his memoirs Enver Pasha's aide Yaver Suphi Bey stated that Enver Pasha died of a bullet wound right above his heart during a cavalry charge.[15] Alternatively, according to Melkumov's memoirs, Enver managed to escape on horseback and hid for four days in the village of Chaghan. His hideout was located after a Red Army officer infiltrated the village in disguise. Melkumov's troops then stormed Chaghan, and in the ensuing combat Enver was killed by Melkumov himself.[16][17] [18]

Enver's body was buried near Ab-i-Derya. In 1996, his remains were brought to Republic of Turkey and reburied in Istanbul.


By his marriage, he had:

  • HH Princess Dr. Mahpeyker Enver Hanımsultan (1917 - 2000), married and divorced, Dr. Fikret Urgup (1918 - ?), and had issue, one son:
    • Hasan Urgup, unmarried and without issue
  • HH Princess Turkan Enver Hanımsultan (1919 - 1989), married HE Huvayda Mayatepek, Turkish Ambassador to Denmark, and had issue, one son:
    • Osman Mayatepek (b. 1950), unmarried and without issue
  • HH Prince Sultanzade Captain Ali Enver Beyefendi (1921 - Australia, December 1971), married and had issue, one daughter:
    • Arzu Enver Hanımsultan (b. 1955), married ... Sadıkoğlu[citation needed]

His widow remarried in 1923 his brother HE Damat Mohammed Kamil Beyefendi (1900 - 1962), and had one daughter:

  • HH Princess Rana Killigil Hanımsultan, married ... Eldem and had two children:
    • Ceyda Eldem (b. 1952)
    • Edhem Eldem (b. 1960)


  1. ^ Ground warfare: an international encyclopedia, Vol.1, Ed. Stanley Sandler, (ABC-CLIO, 2002), 265.
  2. ^ His own CV, published in Hanioğlu, Şükrü (ed.) "Kendi Mektuplarında Enver Paşa." Der Yayınları, İstanbul 1989, p.267
  3. ^ Mazaower, Mark "Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews 1430-1950."
  4. ^ Fromkin, David (2001). A peace to end all peace: the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the modern Middle East. New York: H. Holt. pp. 119. ISBN 0-8050-6884-8. 
  5. ^ Palmer-Fernandez, Gabriel. "Encyclopedia of Religion and War", p.139. Published 2003, Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0415942462
  6. ^ Tucker, Spencer. "World War I", p.394. Published 2005, ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1851094202
  7. ^ Balakian, Peter. "The Burning Tigris", p.184. Published 2003, HarperCollins. ISBN 0060198400.
  8. ^ Akcam, Taner. "A Shameful Act", p.143. Published 2006, Henry Holt & Co. ISBN 0805079327.
  9. ^ Moorehead, Alan. "Gallipoli", p.79. Published 1997, Wordsworth Editions. ISBN 1853266752
  10. ^ Moorehead, Alan. "Gallipoli", p.166-168. Published 1997, Wordsworth Editions. ISBN 1853266752
  11. ^ Refuting Genocide
  12. ^ Moorehead, Alan. "Gallipoli", p.300. Published 1997, Wordsworth Editions. ISBN 1853266752
  13. ^ Peter Hopkirk "Setting the East Ablaze", London, 1984.
  14. ^ Feridun Kandemir, "Enver Paşa'nın Son Gũnleri", pp.65-69, Gũven Yayınevi, 1955
  15. ^ Yaver Suphi Bey, "Enver Paşa'nın Son Günleri" p.239 Çatı Kitapları 2007 ISBN 9758845286
  16. ^ Interview with Y.Melkumov (In Russian) in the Armenian daily "Novoe Vremya" [1]
  17. ^ Мелькумов Я. А., "Туркестанцы"(Memoirs), Moscow, 1960 (in Russian)
  18. ^ "Ratnik" Magazine- Civil War in Central Asia


  • Fromkin, David (1989). A Peace to End All Peace, Avon Books.

See also

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

We have destroyed the former by the sword, we shall destroy the latter through starvation.

İsmail Enver (November 22, 1881August 4, 1922), known to Europeans during his political career as Enver Pasha (Turkish: Enver Paşa) or Enver Bey, was a Turkish military officer and a leader of the Young Turk revolution. He was the main leader of the Ottoman Empire in both Balkan Wars and World War I. He was held highly responsible for the Armenian Genocide and was tried in absentia in the Turkish Courts-Martial of 1919-20 for crimes of "plunging the country into war without a legitimate reason, forced deportation of Armenians and leaving the country without permission" and condemned to death. A few years later, a Red Army detachment of a Bashkir cavalry launched a surprise attack, during which he was killed in 1922.


  • The Ottoman Empire should be cleaned up of the Armenians and the Lebanese. We have destroyed the former by the sword, we shall destroy the latter through starvation.
    • Quoted in "The Evil 100" – Page 35 – by Martin Gilman Wolcott – Social Science - 2004
  • Ah, my brave Arabs! If I could only gather them in from all their desert ways, and arm them properly... But I fear it cannot be. They are drifting in by tens and scores, where I need hundreds and thousands.
    • Quoted in "The American Review of Reviews" - Page 184 - by Albert Shaw – 1915
  • The plans of all of the powers have always been entirely selfish as far as Turkey was concerned. For years Russia has coveted Constantinople, to say nothing of the rest of Turkey along the Black Sea and south of the Caucasus, and Britain has endeavored to keep us just strong enough to prevent Russia from realizing these ambitions. Finally came the Kaiser with his scheme of a chain of German-controlled states from the Baltic to the Persian Gulf. Russia would wipe us off the map, England would keep us weak, and Germany would make us strong. All selfish motives on the face of them, no doubt, but- can you wonder which alternative is the least repugnant to us Turks, especially to us Young Turks, who have done our best to avoid being enmeshed in the nets of British and Russian diplomacy and intrigue which held helpless our predecessors? I think I will not need to say more to answer your question as to why it was Germany obtained the Bagdad railway concession, why the Hedjaz line was built by Germans, and why the Germans are recasting our military establishment.
    • Quoted in "The American Review of Reviews" - Page 184 - by Albert Shaw – 1915
All who seek to enrich those who do not work should be destroyed.
  • Real Turkish unification is my dearest wish, and any international political arrangement which will leave me a free hand to work for that, I will subscribe to. Turkey contains a great many Christians as well as Mohammedans. The latter I would regenerate from within, not from without. The West has little that we need save battleships and shrapnels, and if it would leave us alone we would not need even these.
    • Quoted in "The American Review of Reviews" - Page 184 - by Albert Shaw – 1915
  • We are taking care of our troops today, hence their loyalty. Formerly a rifle was given to a man and he had to shift for himself.
    • Quoted in "The Armenian Genocide: News Accounts from the American Press, 1915-1922" - Page 7 - by Richard Diran Kloian - History – 1985
  • All who seek to enrich those who do not work should be destroyed.
    • Quoted in "Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination" - Page 405 - by Ben Kiernan - Social Science - 2007
  • How could a person forget about the plains, the meadows, watered with the blood of our forefathers; abandon those places where Turkish raiders had hidden their steeds for a full four 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 Montenegrans.
    • Quoted in "A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility" - by Taner Akcam - History - 2007 - Page 115
  • The transformation of the Islamic world into one of revolution, as His Majesty has desired, had been in preparation for some time and had now been put into action.
    • August 19, 1914. Quoted in "A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility" - by Taner Akcam - History - 2007 - Page 132
  • The threat could be eliminated by removing the Armenians from the places where they lived and sending them to other places.
    • Quoted in "A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility" - by Taner Akcam - History - 2007 - Page 143
  • If the Russians retreat, they are done.
    • Quoted in "The Armenian Review" - Page 89 - by Hairenik Association - Armenia – 1948
  • You are greatly mistaken. We have this country absolutely under our control. I have no desire to shift the blame onto our underlings and I am entirely willing to accept the responsibility myself for everything that has taken place.
    • In reply to US Ambassador Morgenthau who was deploring the massacres against Armenians and attributing them to irresponsible subalterns and underlings in the distant provinces. Quoted in "The burning Tigris: the Armenian genocide and America's response" - Page 374 - by Peter Balakian - History - 2003
We have this country absolutely under our control. I have no desire to shift the blame onto our underlings and I am entirely willing to accept the responsibility myself for everything that has taken place.
  • How can we furnish bread to the Armenians when we can't get enough for our own people? I know that they are suffering and that it is quite likely that they cannot get bread at all this coming winter. But we have the utmost difficulty in getting flour and clothing right here in Constantinople.
    • Quoted in "The Armenians, from Genocide to Resistance: From Genocide to Resistance" - Page 82 - by Gérard Chaliand, Yves Ternon - Social Science – 1983
  • We can then use Platonic means to quiet Armenians and Greeks, but in time of war we cannot investigate and negotiate. We must act promptly and with determination. I also think that the Armenians are making a mistake in depending upon the Russians. The Russians really would rather see them killed than alive. They are as great a danger to the Russians as they are to us. If they should form an independent government in Turkey, the Armenians in Russia would attempt to form an independent government there.
    • Quoted in "The Armenians, from Genocide to Resistance: From Genocide to Resistance" - Page 81 - by Gérard Chaliand, Yves Ternon - Social Science – 1983
  • The Armenians had a fair warning of what would happen to them in case they joined our enemies. Three months ago I sent for the Armenian Patriarch and I told him that if the Armenians attempted to start a revolution or to assist the Russians, I would be unable to prevent mischief from happening to them. My warning produced no effect and the Armenians started a revolution and helped the Russians. You know what happened at Van. They obtained control of the city, used bombs against government buildings, and killed a large number of Moslems. We knew that they were planning uprisings in other places. You must understand that we are now fighting for our lives at the Dardanelles and that we are sacrificing thousands of men. While we are engaged in such a struggle as this, we cannot permit people in our own country to attack us in the back. We have got to prevent this no matter what means we have to resort to. It is absolutely true that I am not opposed to the Armenians as a people. I have the greatest admiration for their intelligence and industry, and I should like nothing better than to see them become a real part of our nation. But if they ally themselves with our enemies, as they did in the Van district, they will have to be destroyed. I have taken pains to see that no injustice is done; only recently I gave orders to have three Armenians who had been deported returned to their homes, when I found that they were innocent. Russia, France, Great Britain, and America are doing the Armenians no kindness by sympathizing with and encouraging them. I know what such encouragement means to a people who are inclined to revolution. When our Union and Progress Party attacked Abdul Hamid, we received all our moral encouragement from the outside world. This encouragement was of great help to us and had much to do with our success. It might similarly now help the Armenians and their revolutionary programme. I am sure that if these outside countries did not encourage them, they would give up all their efforts to oppose the present government and become law-abiding citizens. We now have this country in our absolute control and we can easily revenge ourselves on any revolutionists.
    • Quoted in "Immigration and Asylum: From 1900 to the Present" - Page 188 - by Matthew J. Gibney, Randall Hansen - Social Science - 2005

About Enver

  • I remember that when Enver Pasha was killed, I said "good." After all, it was the three of them- Talat, Enver, and Djemal-that took the life of a nation in their hands.
    • Genocide survivor

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