Ο Μουσταφάς Κεμάλ Ατατούρκ

Η σελίδα είναι υπό κατασκευή λόγο μετάφρασης στα Ελληνικά

Contents:

  • Extracts from Ataturk’s memoirs.
  • The early days of Kemal’s youth.  
  • Kemal, the young revolutionary officer. The creation of the “Motherland and Freedom Society.”  
  • The braking of the “First World War.”  
  • The Battle for Gallipoli. Kemal is becoming a hero.  
  • The Armistice conditions Kemal strongly criticized.  
  • The meeting between Kemal and the Sultan during 1918.  
  • Two alternatives for the ”Eastern question”  
  • Reforms introduced by the Sultan during the 19th century. Tanzimat
  • Istanbul under Occupation and the general situation on May 1919.  
  • The situation in Anatolia and Pontus-  
  • How the Greeks of Pontus describe the situation
  • The Resignation of Kemal Atatourk and the open confrontation with the Sultan

Introduction

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was a hero of his country that still lives in the hearts and minds of his people. He was really what his name means, the “Father” of the Turkish people.

He was the person who managed to give back pride to a nation that was totally humiliated out of its defeats during the Balkan wars and the First World War, which Turkey joined on the side of Germany. Germany was also interested to take advantage of the eminent colapse of the Ottoman Empire.

http://nickkouzos.com/New_Folder/Infront%20of%20Costandinouple%20DSC00801.JPG

Sketch published in Petit Journal at the time.

He was the winner in the battle of Dardanelle during 1915, he was the man who had the courage to stand up against the Allied forces, after the First World War and overthrow the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

The First World War defeat lead to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Kemal was the founder of modern Turkey and his influence has been so great, that even today, Turkey follows his principles and directions.

For the Greek Nation, Mustafa Kemal has been the “ultimo” enemy, as he managed to reconstruct the Turkish Nation and gain credibility as a leader, within his own country as well as internationally. For the Greeks, he did all that at the expense of millions of Christians, Greeks and Armenians who used to live under Ottoman rule for centuries.

By reading through his “Memoirs” one can form a direct opinion of his views and vision. I personally, tried to find out how this great but controversial personality of our time was thinking about these minorities and to what extend he was responsible for what Greeks believe were actions of Genocide of all Christian populations of Asia Minor.

By reading through his Memoirs one can see that Kemal Ataturk was a top military tactician, a great visionary, a patriot and extremely shrewd politician. I did not manage to get any direct views about how he was thinking on the subject of minorities so I have to form a judgment on the subject just by observations on the historic results.

Extracts from Ataturk’s memoirs.

I find it useful to quote some extracts from Ataturk’s Memoirs that “bring out” his way of thinking and the strength of his character.

I have used as main source of reference a compilation of Ataturk’s memoirs published by Ilhan Aksit a respected Turkish writer and Archeologist and a book about Kemal written by Alexander Jevankoff a specialist on modern Turkish history.

The early days of Kemal’s youth.

Kemal was born in Salonica during 1881. Salonica was still under Ottoman rule at that time. He enrolled at the Military Cadet school of Salonica and later, during 1896 enters the Senior Military School in Monastir.

Obviously Kemal started his adult life in geographical locations with continuous national confrontations involving Greeks, Bulgarians and Serbs. Both Salonica and Monastir were very soon taken away from the Ottoman Empire.

Kemal is writing in his memoirs:

“I showed a lot of interest in my history lessons especially Turkish history…. I had just started my second year in high school when war was declared on Athens to counter the constant Greek aggression. The army marched through Monastir in full strength.

I was living the most exciting days of my youth. Despite my young age, I wanted very much to participate in this war. I was about to join up with the volunteer detachments. The Greek army was annihilated. However, despite the victory that the Turkish army had earned the Padishah signed an Armistice under the pressure of various European states.

Celebrations were taking place in the streets of Monastir again with reverberating shouts of “ Long live the Padishah!” This was the first time I did not join in this wish.”

 In March 1899 Mustafa Kemal joins the General Staff Academy in Constantinople from where he graduates as Staff Captain in five years.

Kemal developed a strong, negative opinion about the State Administration very early in his life, as early as his student days at the General Staff College.

He states in his memoirs:

“Our country was in a terrible state, while I was in my junior year in the year 1901, we did not believe that the leading officers would find a way out of this situation.”

Kemal, the young revolutionary officer. The creation of the “Motherland and Freedom Society.”

One year later at the General Staff Academy, at the age of 21, he states:

“ New thinking began to shape me and my friends. We saw how evil was the governing of our country.”

At this period he was influenced with readings from Namik Kemal an intellectual reformist who influenced the Young Turks who have taken further their ideas to the extend that they became advocates of a deep Nationalistic reformation that would require to sacrifice a lot against any other Nationalistic tendencies that were in existence at the time, such as the Armenian, the Arabic or the Balkan Nationalities (Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian).

Namik Kemal was very much against the reforms that the Ottoman Empire tried to introduce during the 19th century. See further down: Reforms introduced by the Sultan during the 19th century. Tanzimat

So, very soon started his underground activities, he was arrested and imprisoned for a few months. In spite of this he continued with persistence. So, when he was send by the Army to Syria, a form of exile, he formed an underground organization “Motherland and Freedom Society”. That was 1906.

He relocated to Macedonia where he believed the ground was more appropriate for the promotion of his objectives.

An extract from his introductory speech to some of his friends in Salonica reads as follows:

 We have some urgent obligations to curry out against this unlucky nation. Our sole objective is to save it. To day, they wish to separate the Rumelia region in Macedonia from the homeland. Foreigners are now exercising their partial and actual influence and control over parts of the country. The Padishah is one who is capable of committing all evils, who thinks of nothing but his pleasures and sultanate. The people are being crushed under tyranny and oppression. There is death and collapse in a country in which there is no freedom. The reason for all advancement and formation is liberty. I established a society in Syria. We have started the struggle against tyranny and oppression. I came to set up the foundations of this society here as well. It is imperative to work in secrecy and awaken the organization. I expect self sacrifice from all of you. I invite you to the task of revolting against this damning oppression, tearing down this rotten, worn-out administration, the people to rule themselves, in short, to save the Motherland.”

Later the “Motherland and Freedom Society” is integrated into the “Committee of Union and Progress.”  Kemal officially joins this organization the 29th of October 1907. Eight months later the New Turks revolution brings back the constitutional government. That was the first success of the revolutionary movement.

http://nickkouzos.com/New_Folder/1907%20Kemal%20became%20member%20of%20New%20Turks..jpg

The oppressed minorities of Asia Minor initially supported the principles and declarations of the New Turks organization, because, as it can be observed in the speeches Kemal was giving, were inspired by ideals such as freedom and liberty. That was a huge mistake on their part because exactly the opposite was happening. The New Turks was basically an organization of nationalist revolutionaries, where as the Ottoman Empire had the characteristics of a multinational state.

It was at the time of Sultan Abdoul Hamit and his predecessors that any person of any nationality Albanian, Romeos (Greek of the Ottoman Empire), Armenian, Arab, Kirkasian or Kurd could climb up the top civil servant position. In fact it is surprising to note that the Frenchman Zouanin wrote in 1840 that if an Ottoman was called a Turk it was considered an insult at that time!!!

 http://nickkouzos.com/New%20Turks/The%20committee%20of%20parliamentary%20ellections%201908%20DSC01107.jpg

The committee of parliamentary elections 1908

http://nickkouzos.com/New%20Turks/Greek%20members%20of%20the%20Ottoman%20parliament%201908%20DSC01112.jpg

Greek Members of the Ottoman Parliament

http://nickkouzos.com/New%20Turks/Vive%20la%20constitution%201908%20DSC01110.jpg

Vive la costitution 1908

http://nickkouzos.com/New%20Turks/The%20new%20laws%20of%201909%20DSC01108.jpg

The new laws of 1909

http://nickkouzos.com/New%20Turks/The%20revolution%20of%20New%20Turks%20DSC01102.jpg

The revolution of the New Turks

http://nickkouzos.com/New%20Turks/New%20Turks%20in%20Gildiz%20Palace%201909%20DSC01105.jpg

The new Turks in Gildiz Palace 1909

The braking of the “First World War.”

The braking of the First World War found Kemal in Tripoli where he went to fight the Italians. He was immediately called back to Istanbul to receive new orders about the new front. In his memoirs he states:

“ Upon my return to Istanbul I was deeply saddened to hear of the Komanova defeat in Egypt, that Salonika had fallen and that the Bulgarians had advanced as far as the outskirts of Catalka near Istanbul.  I just was not able to believe that the Turkish Army could be beaten so easily and so fast.”

It was at that time that Kemal warned the officers about the importance of the narrow passage, which was located north of  Gallipoli and he was immediately appointed to the command of Dardnelle the location that proved to be very important for his military involvement a few years later after a period that was assigned to Sophia as an  Attaché.

The Battle for Gallipoli. Kemal is becoming a hero.

The Battle of Gallipoli was a turning point for the war and for the military carrier of Kemal it may even be said that it was the turning point for the survival of the Turkish nation.

Kemal is saying in his memoirs:

After loosing the sea battle on March 18th of 1915, the enemy (he means the Allies) wanted to gain control of the Straits by launching an assault of the Gallipoli peninsula. It was then that an Army under the name of the Mediterranean Allied Forces started to gather on the Limni Island. This Army was made up of Australian, New Zeland, English and French troops and an Indian Brigade.

As for us we had the second army to counter this force. The German Marshall, Liman Von Sanders was appointed to head this army. The army commander had the idea that the attack would occur from the Asian side and Gallipoli and had his troops positioned according to this idea. I was of the opinion that the attack would come from Seddulbahir which was the furthest most point from Kabatepe and Gallipoli. The 19thDivision , of which I was given the command of, was positioned as a reserve army at Bigali.

Finally the enemy began landing where I had mentioned on the morning of April the 25th of 1915.

I will not give here the description of the battles Kemal was engaged to with the allies for months in this area, but I will quote some extracts from his memoirs:

… It was here that we came across a very interesting scene. And I think it was the most crucial moment of this historical event. I saw that the unit put in charge of shore observation was running retreating. I personally went to the front of these soldiers.

-I asked why are you running away?

-“Sir, the enemy!”

-“One does not run from the enemy.”

-“We run out of ammunition.”

-“If you don’t have any ammunition you still have your bayonets.” I said.

So I screamed to them to fix their bayonets.

When I commanded these privates to fix their bayonets and “hit the ground”, the enemy privates “hit the ground” 

as well. 

And it was at this moment that we had won. I gave the 57th and 77th Regiments their orders. In fact I had

 added this to the verbal orders I had given to the commanders:

“ I am not ordering you to attack. I am ordering you to die. Other forces and commanders might take our place during the time it takes for us to die.”

Finally by the November the 10th the enemy pulled out of Dardanelles. The total loss of lives, were 250.000 Turkish soldiers and a similar number from the Allied forces.

The Battle of Gallipoli made Kemal a hero and helped him to survive later when his revolutionary ideas and actions against the Sultan were becoming more widely known. Never the less the whole involvement of Turkey in the Balkan wars and the First World War were disastrous leading to the total collapse not only of the Ottoman Empire but of the main economic infrastructure of the country including the agriculture. The Albanian uprising, the Balkan wars, the war of Tripoli had already caused the loss of significant lives when the First World War started. Out of the 2.800.000 men conscribed in the Turkish Army, around 300.000 to 600.000 were killed, 400.000 were injured while the number of deserters and unaccounted for were estimated around 1.500.000. At the same time a significant percentage of the minority population, Armenians, Greeks and Syrians, who consisted a major part of the middle class in the Ottoman Empire, were exterminated by Massacres or persecutions. (see other pages in this site) “The Greek Turkish confrontation.”

It is interesting to note that by reading through carefully the pages of Kemal’s memoirs one cannot get even a glimpse of his thoughts or his intentions about the Greek and Armenian minorities in Asia Minor. Kemal appears not to be involved with any actions influenced by the New Turks leading to persecutions or by actions of the Sultan who proclaimed his sacred war after November 1914, when Russia, Great Britain and France declared war to Ottoman Empire. His first mention of any involvement starts with his trip to Samsun, in the area of Pontus, during 1919.

Kemal much prefers to talk about the multiple war fronts his country had to face from 1914 to 1919, and what a multiple front that was!

The Russian front in Erzurum, the Syrian front, Aleppo, Canakkale, Azerbaijan, Iran e.c.t.

It was evident that, for the Ottoman Empire, the end was very close. (1918)

The Armistice conditions Kemal strongly criticized.

Kemal is stating in his memoirs:

“I knew that despite all the catastrophes, I could make the Turks’ presence felt once I could take command of the rest of the Army….”

…..While I was working with my friends on these principles, I received this order from Istanbul.”

“The following are the Armistice conditions we maid with the Allied Nations. Every army needs to be informed and must immediately apply all pertinent provisions…”

And Kemal continues:

I came up with the opinion that the Ottoman Empire was quite willing to unconditionally surrender herself to the enemy without any conditions. Not only that but there were also promises to help the enemy invade the country.

Allot of turmoil was taking place in Istanbul, the group that Kemal was commanding was dissolved, Kemal proceeded to Istanbul on November 13th,1918.. While was crossing to the European side he noticed Averof the Greek Battle ship.

“ .. I noticed many enemy battleships, among them was the battle ship Averof, that had dropped anchor in Bosphorus. I was quite disappointed at this view.

In fact I told myself that I should not have come to Istanbul. I held the belief that the arriving battleships were going to depart the same way they came.

In spite of these views, a lot of Turks in Istanbul were very happy for the end of fighting, but not for long, the shame of foreign occupation ended all that.

No need to say that the Greeks were very enthusiastic with all the developments. In Constantinople there were more than 200.000 Greeks with 130 Greek Orthodox Churches. The Greek troops in Constantinople are feeling very mach at home. They don’t loose any opportunity to humiliate the Turks and make them understand that Constantinople will return back to its Mother country.

Kemal at his despair, he placed a phone from the Ottoman Parliament to request a meeting with Padishah Vahdettin. The meeting took place immediately during November 22nd 1918.

The meeting between Kemal and the Sultan during 1918.

The meeting between Kemal and The Sultan was a historic moment that represented the agony of a dying world and the dynamic coming to power of a group of Nationalists, which was fighting for survival among national and International Wars that shacked the area and reshaped the world at the time.

.

Kemal is writing about this meeting that was arranged on November 22 1918:

“ While I was making my opening comments and enlightening him and warning him on a basis of a constructive exchange of thoughts, he pulled the rug out from under me saying:

-I am quite sure that the army’s commanders and officers, like you very much. Can you give me your confidence that I will not succumb to any evil doings from them?

I was not able to immediately grasp the meaning and purpose of such a question, so I asked;

-do you have information and perceptions related to opposing activity by the army?

He closed his eyes and gave neither a positive nor a negative response. He asked the same question, I answered him and said.

-As it is, I only arrived in Istanbul a few days ago, I do not know exactly what the situation is here. However, I do not think there would be a reason for any commanders and officers to take a stand against Your Honor. That is why I can assure you that you should not expect any evil doings.

He commented in a very suspicious manner of speaking.

-I am not only talking about today, but for tomorrow as well…

This last sentence got me really thinking:

May be there is a possibility that the Padishah is going to make a move tomorrow that might affect the army’s, patriotic commanders and officers. By deceiving me he wanted assurances from me on their behalf that they wouldn’t cause any disruption. Could there have been any benefit for myself or the country, with such an explanation? The man sitting across from me looked like he had made his decision along time ago… I went out of Vadettin’s room feeling very hopeless…..

…..The streets of Istanbul were filled with Allied soldiers and their bayonets, whereas one could not see the deep blue water of the Bosphorus for the numerous battleships with their guns aimed at both shores…….

 

In order for the reader to fully understand and appreciate the impact that Kemal’s movement was making, at the time, one needs to examine closely what each side (the Sultan and Kemal), were really representing, and what the international scene was, with different interested parties (the Great Powers of the world), each one pursuing, by different means, its own aspirations and interests. So it is imperative at this point to make a parenthesis and give some of the background and the conditions in the Ottoman Empire.

The best way to convey the atmosphere that was prevailing at the time, which also formed the background for the Balkan Wars and the First World War, is to give an extract from an article written by James Brice at the beginning of the 20th century.

The decline of the Ottoman Empire was at the time so certain and was progressing so fast that the question the world was razing was not how it may be saved but how and who will inherit it. So James Brice, in his articles, was analyzing the alternatives.

So, he comments about the alternatives:

Article by James Brice Published 1912.

Two alternatives for the ”Eastern question”

Introduction to the article included an article written by the same author during 1905.

“The Balkan question” Published by Luigi Villari, John Murray, London

…….

“For example the European territories of Ottoman Empire could easily be gained by Russia or be shared between Russia and Austria or between these two with some concessions to Italy and Greece. Smaller sharing could go to the Bulgarians, the Serbs and the Vlachs or other local minorities which will gradually loose their identity and will be absorbed by the Slavic populations of the two empires.

Asiatic Turkey could be absorbed by the Caucasian Russia or could be shared between the Tsar and one or more European Nations with interest to expand in the area.

The wretched subjects of the Ottoman Empire would welcome such eventuality, Muslims and Christians as well.

Let us not forget that the Muslims are expecting to gain from the disruption of the existing system as much as the Christians as well.

Even the least progressive European Governments can guarantee life safety, the property of individuals and it allows wealth concentration, population increase and makes provisions for the education of people.

After all Egypt developed under the British Administration and Bosnia progressed under Austrians.

The Christian minorities did not want to be incorporated with the Austrians or the Russians. This was not because they preferred the Turks but because an advanced collapse of the Ottoman Empire would enforce their aspirations for the Christian nations, which the Austrian and the Russian occupation would destroy.

Hence the overall advantage would eventually be for the inhabitants of the Turkish provinces

So, under this general climate and after the total defeat of the Ottoman army the Sultan was not in a position to do any thing else but compromise. He was basically in the hands of the Allied Powers.

The process that led the Ottoman Empire to this impossible situation did not start just with the Balkan Wars or the First World War, the decline was the result of many years of incompetent autocratic administration that could not adapt to the needs of the emerging world. Some measures to reform the administration and the way the Ottoman Empire was looking at the new world were taken during the first half of the 19th century, but the results did not save the situation as the efforts to westernize the state resulted in the destruction of the local industry and the total dependence of the Turkish economy to the western powers that eventual caused Bankruptcy due to over borrowing after the Crimean War at the end of 19th century.

Reforms introduced by the Sultan during the 19th century. Tanzimat

  The Ottoman Empire under Sultan Abdoul Medit, is at the crossroads of a blind alley of its past and an attempt to introduce a set of reforms that is known as Tanzimat.

These reforms resulted in the loss of state control in commerce and production.

The reforms will become the start of the liberalization of the Turkish economy.

In addition, reforms in the state organization that try to imitate western practices and standards become a vehicle for an easier western penetration to the Ottoman financial, administrative, political and social infrastructure. For example the “Baltaliman” trade agreement of 1938, that the Sultan signed with England and later with other western nations became the milestone for the unconditional surrender of the Ottoman market to western competition and as a result an important stage in the process of western penetration. The next stage would be the massive influx of European capital in basic sectors of the Ottoman economy which inevitably lead to the total dependence of the Ottoman state to the western economies.

This actually happened very fast and one could see the population, especially in cities like Constantinople, Ismir and Thessalonica, to develop new consumer habits that could not be satisfied by local industries.

A good example is the increase of imports of cotton textiles from England at the expense of local textile industry.

The agricultural production is increased during the second half of the 19th century and exports are increased to Western Europe mainly for England.

With the adaptation and total focus of agricultural exports to western economies the Ottoman agriculture becomes even more dependant on west.

The state naturally desires to increase agricultural production so that it may increase the income from these exports and changes the state of land leasing that used to exist introducing reforms for land ownership. As a result large agricultural areas become even more dependant on the west.

But this increase of agricultural production results in even more industrial and consumer imports from west, as a result the local industry suffers even more.

The next stage now is the influx of western capital.

The state loan that the Ottoman Empire made during the Crimean War and subsequent loans that followed the next twenty years forced the Ottoman Empire to bankruptcy during 1875.

The Greeks of Asia Minor, being in contact with west and having a natural inclination to trade and commerce managed to control a significant part of imports and exports with the west especially with England.

All these reforms and results greatly influenced the thinking and the events that followed later.

One cannot avoid but make historical parallels with today’s events and draw conclusions about how history repeats itself.

Istanbul under Occupation and the general situation on May 1919.

After this long explanatory parenthesis, let us go back to the sequence of events and let us see how things were evolving through the eyes of Kemal.

 Istanbul was occupied by the British and their allies including the Greeks.

“People could only go out of their homes to obtain their basic needs, whereas they had to cower and hunch over in fear along the walls lining the streets in order not to be on the receiving end of rather unpleasant insults. It seemed as though the vothings rices of hundreds of thousands of those residing in the enormous city of Istanbul had been extinguished. The only ising up through the Istanbul skyline were the voices, insults, flags and bayonets belonging to the enemy.

I was amazed there were still those aware that there was a Sultanate, a government and an existence.  I made up my mind to pass over into Anatolia……

….. It was around the time I was thinking about going through with this, the government proposed to send me to Anatolia as an inspector. I gladly accepted this proposal on APRIL30, 1919

What an excellent break, fortune had prepared such positive conditions for me that I cannot even begin to describe how thrilled I was. I remember biting my lip from all the excitement as I departed from the Ministry.

The cage has been opened and in front of me waited a big, wide world. I was like a bird flapping its wings, ready to fly….

…..I learned that IZMIR was being occupied by the Greeks while I was saying goodbye to the Ottoman Ministers at the Sublime Porte on May 15th. The Ministers appeared very hopeless.

On May 16th, 1919, I embarked aboard the tramp steamer “Bandirma” that the Minister of the Navy, had assigned to me.

I landed at Samsun on the 19th of May of 1919. This was the general situation at that time:  

 

·        The group of powers, which included the Ottoman Government, had been defeated in the Great War.  

·        The Ottoman Army had been crushed on every front and an armistice had been signed under severe conditions.  

·        The prolongation of the Great War had left the people exhausted and impoverished.  

·        Vahdettin, the degenerate occupant of the throne and the Caliphate, was seeking for some despicable way to save his person and his throne, the only object of his anxiety.  

·        The army had been deprived of their arms and ammunition.  

·        The Entente Powers did not consider it necessary to abide by the terms of the Armistice. Their warships and troops remained in Istanbul.  

·        The Vilayet of Adana was occupied by the French  

·        Urfa, Maras and Antep were under British occupation.

 

·        In Antalya and Konya were the Italians.  

·        There were British soldiers in Merzifon and Samsun.  

·        Foreign officers, officials and their agent provocateurs were very active in all directions.  

·        The Greek Army, with the consent of the Entente Powers too, had landed in Izmir. (May 15th 1919).

  

·        Christian elements-Greeks and Armenians- are also at work all over the country. They are trying either openly or in secret, to realize their own particular ambitions and in doing so, to hasten the break-up of the state.  

·        Mavri Mira, a Greek organization which has been established by the Patriarchate in Istanbul, is forming bands of irregular soldiers. It is organizing meetings and spreading propaganda  

·        The Greek Red Cross and the official Emigrant Affair commission supports the work of Mavri Mira, and the Armenian Patriarch, is also working with them.

 

·        An other society which is headquartered in Istanbul, called Pontus, works openly and successfully in Trabzon, Samsun and along the entire Black Sea Coast.  

Because of the horrifying seriousness of the situation, certain well-known people have began to organize movements to remedy it. These include:  

1.      The Thracian- Pashaeli Union in Erdin.

2.      The Union for defense of National Rights of Eastern Provinces in Erzurum.

3.      The league for the Secession of Trabzon and the surrounding province.

4.      Also some young patriots in Izmir have been holding meetings in an attempt to resist the threat of Greek annexation.

The situation in Anatolia and Pontus-

….I had two army corps directly under my command but also had the authority to give orders to the military units in the surrounding inspection zone. You might ask why they sent me to Anatolia with the intention of banishing me from Istanbul. The answer is that they were not really aware of what they were doing. Their excuse for getting rid of me was that it was necessary for me to go to Samsun to give an on –the-spot report on the unsettled state of affairs in the province and to take all necessary measures to deal with it. In order to do this I had asked and had been granted special authority and special powers

….My first order was to  run the Pontus dreamers out of Samsun.  

Once security was restored in the

 vicinity, I established contact with the entire army and then proceeded to Havza on May 25th.

Meanwhile I had been informed that the provinces of Manisa and Aydin had been occupied by the Greek Army. 

After remaining in Havza from May 25th to June 12th, I moved on to Amasya. During this time I sent out circulars to 

all commanding officers and high civilian officials, urging them to expedite the formation of national organizations 

all over the country. I swore that in working with the nation, I was going to sacrifice everything to achieve our 

independence. The people had not been fully informed about the occupation of Izmir and later of Manisa and 

Aydin.”

What Kemal was describing in the above lines was basically  a major attack which was executed by Turkish elements for the extermination of the Greeks in the areas of Pontus and Caucasus. Whole villages and towns were then totally eliminated.

This was encouraged and supported by Kiazim Karabekir the ex General of the Ottoman Army who had, by now, joined Kemal’s forces.  

But let us see how the Greeks of Pontus describe the situation in an Internet site:

“According to the reports of the German Ambassador in Constantinople, Metternih , the new Turks were trying to make excuses for the deportation of Greeks that used to leave in the coasts of Black Sea saying that the Russians had provided arms and equipment to the Greek population and for this reason they were afraid of a Greek uprising. This argument never the less is unsubstantiated since the population that was mainly deported consisted of children women and old people. The younger population that was capable to bear arms they had already enlisted in the army and were on the mountains and abroad.

The Austrian Ambassador in Constantinople Pallavicini described the last events of  Pontos in Vienna on the 19th of December 1916 and on the 2nd of January 1917, referring to the tragedy of Amisos;

On 11th of December 1916 5 Greek villages were destroyed and later were burned. The inhabitants were deported.

On the 12th of December 1916 in the surrounding of the town more villages are burned.

On the 14th of December 1916 complete villages are burned with the schools and the Churches.

On the 17th of December 1916 the Turks burned 11 villages in the area of Samsud. The destruction continues. The villagers are brutalized. 18 villages are totally burned and 15 partly burned, around 6O women are raped. Churches were violated and destroyed. The genocide “ala Turk” is mute, sly, with some sort of eastern foxiness, it does not have theoretical background, but rather practical, where looting is the philosophy, The “so called” deportations, exiles of the total population of complete villages, these devastating trudges in the snow, of women, children and old men- the young men are already enlisted in the army or working in the special Tamirat Tabourou and Amele Tabourou*– do not lead to any Auschwitz, a concentration camp with the organized, diabolic, extermination methods that eliminates the physical human existence- no, it was an Auschwitz “on the move”, the people were dying on root, in the middle of the road, they were not marching to go somewhere, no, they were marching to die from hardships, the cold, the hunger, the human humiliation.

* Tamirat Tabourou and Amele Tabourou, units of approximately 1000 men who were forced to obligatory labor with minimum food and water. The prisoners were dying by the thousands. Re: F. Sartioux Asia Minor p.172,173

The tragic predicament of the Greek populations was lending itself for diplomatic exploitation because, due to the war, the English, the French and the Russians were absent  from Asia Minor. America made its presence dynamically known with president Thomas Woodrow Wilson who imposed his political solution for the Eastern Problem that was known as the “policy of the 14 points”

The very competent Ambassador of USA in Constantinople H. Morgenthau was closely observing the policies of the New Turks and was publicly objecting to the methods adopted for the solution of the Greek problem in Asia Minor.

The “non existent” Muslim class in Pontos was created, after the genocide of the Armenians and the Greeks, by the “ nouveau rich” criminals who accumulated riches from the properties they robed. The descendants of the bigger executioner of the Greeks Tοπάλ Oσμάν are today millionaires and the conveyors of the Turkish middle class ideology.

It is not a historic exaggeration to accept that a large percentage of today’s Turkish middle class,  is the creation of the small independent murderous gangs of robbers, the police and army collaborators, who fought under the tolerance, the cover and support of New Turks, “Kemalist” and after Kemal Governments.

Till today, I don’t believe that historians attributed objectively the huge contribution made by the Bolsheviks to the Turkish National Assembly and consequently to the shuttering of Hellenism of Asia Minor. It has not been adequately pointed out that due to the financial and military support from them the Government of Kemal managed at the most critical moment to stand on its feet and to take publicly the decision to exterminate all Christian populations, without the fear for retaliations from the allies.

In the Greek files there exist reports from the French and English secret services, which describe creepy details of atrocities of the “Kemalists”. How would reports like this have reached the Greek hands? It is unknown. Most probably the same people from the secret services of the Great powers, indignant with the stand taken by their governments, gave their reports to the Greek Government.

J. Gerard writes, introducing G. Horton’s book The Blight of Asia: “.. The fact that twenty centuries after the birth of Christ a small and backward people, such as the Turks, managed to commit such crimes against civilization and the progress of the world, should make all nations to stand and think.. we turned a deaf ear to the desperate cries for help of the Christians who were dying , even if we new very well that America was their only hope and now, it is evident, in our country, that there is a tendency which grows all the time, to cover up the crimes of the Turks and forgive them in order to gain material benefits and profit from them”.

These political statements have additional weight when made by an American citizen and statesman because they are free of any prejudice.

The reports of the unpublished files of the various Ministries of exterior and of other public and private files for the drama of the Hellenism of Pontos has no end. In total, up to the obligatory population exchange, more than 350.000 Greeks from Pontos found miserable death from the New Turks and “Kemalists” in the cities and the villages, the ravines and the mountains, in exiles and the prisons, the units of obligatory labor and in the Turkish army as Ottoman citizens.

The Resignation of Kemal Atatourk and the open confrontation with the Sultan

From this point onwards, Kemal had the control of the Turkish National moovement and he refused  to obey orders to return to Istanbul . He was in open confrontation with the Sultan and the goverment.

Finally on the 8th of July he sent a telegram to the Sultan and the Minister of Defence anouncing in this way his resignation from the Army.

At the same time  he anounced his decision to the People of Erzouroum  where he went after Sivas and Tokat.

After this development the Sultan issued an order, (signed by Nazim Pasha ) to the Chief of Staff for the arest of Kemal.

The reply from the Army was negative and was distributed openly to the rest of the heads of the Army units……..

MUSTAFA KEMAL ATATURK

Contents:

  • Extracts from Ataturk’s memoirs.
  • The early days of Kemal’s youth.  
  • Kemal, the young revolutionary officer. The creation of the “Motherland and Freedom Society.”  
  • The braking of the “First World War.”  
  • The Battle for Gallipoli. Kemal is becoming a hero.  
  • The Armistice conditions Kemal strongly criticized.  
  • The meeting between Kemal and the Sultan during 1918.  
  • Two alternatives for the ”Eastern question”  
  • Reforms introduced by the Sultan during the 19th century. Tanzimat
  • Istanbul under Occupation and the general situation on May 1919.  
  • The situation in Anatolia and Pontus-  
  • How the Greeks of Pontus describe the situation
  • The Resignation of Kemal Atatourk and the open confrontation with the Sultan

Introduction

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was a hero of his country that still lives in the hearts and minds of his people. He was really what his name means, the “Father” of the Turkish people.

He was the person who managed to give back pride to a nation that was totally humiliated out of its defeats during the Balkan wars and the First World War, which Turkey joined on the side of Germany. Germany was also interested to take advantage of the eminent colapse of the Ottoman Empire.

http://nickkouzos.com/New_Folder/Infront%20of%20Costandinouple%20DSC00801.JPG

Sketch published in Petit Journal at the time.

He was the winner in the battle of Dardanelle during 1915, he was the man who had the courage to stand up against the Allied forces, after the First World War and overthrow the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

The First World War defeat lead to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Kemal was the founder of modern Turkey and his influence has been so great, that even today, Turkey follows his principles and directions.

For the Greek Nation, Mustafa Kemal has been the “ultimo” enemy, as he managed to reconstruct the Turkish Nation and gain credibility as a leader, within his own country as well as internationally. For the Greeks, he did all that at the expense of millions of Christians, Greeks and Armenians who used to live under Ottoman rule for centuries.

By reading through his “Memoirs” one can form a direct opinion of his views and vision. I personally, tried to find out how this great but controversial personality of our time was thinking about these minorities and to what extend he was responsible for what Greeks believe were actions of Genocide of all Christian populations of Asia Minor.

By reading through his Memoirs one can see that Kemal Ataturk was a top military tactician, a great visionary, a patriot and extremely shrewd politician. I did not manage to get any direct views about how he was thinking on the subject of minorities so I have to form a judgment on the subject just by observations on the historic results.

Extracts from Ataturk’s memoirs.

I find it useful to quote some extracts from Ataturk’s Memoirs that “bring out” his way of thinking and the strength of his character.

I have used as main source of reference a compilation of Ataturk’s memoirs published by Ilhan Aksit a respected Turkish writer and Archeologist and a book about Kemal written by Alexander Jevankoff a specialist on modern Turkish history.

The early days of Kemal’s youth.

Kemal was born in Salonica during 1881. Salonica was still under Ottoman rule at that time. He enrolled at the Military Cadet school of Salonica and later, during 1896 enters the Senior Military School in Monastir.

Obviously Kemal started his adult life in geographical locations with continuous national confrontations involving Greeks, Bulgarians and Serbs. Both Salonica and Monastir were very soon taken away from the Ottoman Empire.

Kemal is writing in his memoirs:

“I showed a lot of interest in my history lessons especially Turkish history…. I had just started my second year in high school when war was declared on Athens to counter the constant Greek aggression. The army marched through Monastir in full strength.

I was living the most exciting days of my youth. Despite my young age, I wanted very much to participate in this war. I was about to join up with the volunteer detachments. The Greek army was annihilated. However, despite the victory that the Turkish army had earned the Padishah signed an Armistice under the pressure of various European states.

Celebrations were taking place in the streets of Monastir again with reverberating shouts of “ Long live the Padishah!” This was the first time I did not join in this wish.”

 In March 1899 Mustafa Kemal joins the General Staff Academy in Constantinople from where he graduates as Staff Captain in five years.

Kemal developed a strong, negative opinion about the State Administration very early in his life, as early as his student days at the General Staff College.

He states in his memoirs:

“Our country was in a terrible state, while I was in my junior year in the year 1901, we did not believe that the leading officers would find a way out of this situation.”

Kemal, the young revolutionary officer. The creation of the “Motherland and Freedom Society.”

One year later at the General Staff Academy, at the age of 21, he states:

“ New thinking began to shape me and my friends. We saw how evil was the governing of our country.”

At this period he was influenced with readings from Namik Kemal an intellectual reformist who influenced the Young Turks who have taken further their ideas to the extend that they became advocates of a deep Nationalistic reformation that would require to sacrifice a lot against any other Nationalistic tendencies that were in existence at the time, such as the Armenian, the Arabic or the Balkan Nationalities (Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian).

Namik Kemal was very much against the reforms that the Ottoman Empire tried to introduce during the 19th century. See further down: Reforms introduced by the Sultan during the 19th century. Tanzimat

So, very soon started his underground activities, he was arrested and imprisoned for a few months. In spite of this he continued with persistence. So, when he was send by the Army to Syria, a form of exile, he formed an underground organization “Motherland and Freedom Society”. That was 1906.

He relocated to Macedonia where he believed the ground was more appropriate for the promotion of his objectives.

An extract from his introductory speech to some of his friends in Salonica reads as follows:

 We have some urgent obligations to curry out against this unlucky nation. Our sole objective is to save it. To day, they wish to separate the Rumelia region in Macedonia from the homeland. Foreigners are now exercising their partial and actual influence and control over parts of the country. The Padishah is one who is capable of committing all evils, who thinks of nothing but his pleasures and sultanate. The people are being crushed under tyranny and oppression. There is death and collapse in a country in which there is no freedom. The reason for all advancement and formation is liberty. I established a society in Syria. We have started the struggle against tyranny and oppression. I came to set up the foundations of this society here as well. It is imperative to work in secrecy and awaken the organization. I expect self sacrifice from all of you. I invite you to the task of revolting against this damning oppression, tearing down this rotten, worn-out administration, the people to rule themselves, in short, to save the Motherland.”

Later the “Motherland and Freedom Society” is integrated into the “Committee of Union and Progress.”  Kemal officially joins this organization the 29th of October 1907. Eight months later the New Turks revolution brings back the constitutional government. That was the first success of the revolutionary movement.

http://nickkouzos.com/New_Folder/1907%20Kemal%20became%20member%20of%20New%20Turks..jpg

The oppressed minorities of Asia Minor initially supported the principles and declarations of the New Turks organization, because, as it can be observed in the speeches Kemal was giving, were inspired by ideals such as freedom and liberty. That was a huge mistake on their part because exactly the opposite was happening. The New Turks was basically an organization of nationalist revolutionaries, where as the Ottoman Empire had the characteristics of a multinational state.

It was at the time of Sultan Abdoul Hamit and his predecessors that any person of any nationality Albanian, Romeos (Greek of the Ottoman Empire), Armenian, Arab, Kirkasian or Kurd could climb up the top civil servant position. In fact it is surprising to note that the Frenchman Zouanin wrote in 1840 that if an Ottoman was called a Turk it was considered an insult at that time!!!

 http://nickkouzos.com/New%20Turks/The%20committee%20of%20parliamentary%20ellections%201908%20DSC01107.jpg

The committee of parliamentary elections 1908

http://nickkouzos.com/New%20Turks/Greek%20members%20of%20the%20Ottoman%20parliament%201908%20DSC01112.jpg

Greek Members of the Ottoman Parliament

http://nickkouzos.com/New%20Turks/Vive%20la%20constitution%201908%20DSC01110.jpg

Vive la costitution 1908

http://nickkouzos.com/New%20Turks/The%20new%20laws%20of%201909%20DSC01108.jpg

The new laws of 1909

http://nickkouzos.com/New%20Turks/The%20revolution%20of%20New%20Turks%20DSC01102.jpg

The revolution of the New Turks

http://nickkouzos.com/New%20Turks/New%20Turks%20in%20Gildiz%20Palace%201909%20DSC01105.jpg

The new Turks in Gildiz Palace 1909

The braking of the “First World War.”

The braking of the First World War found Kemal in Tripoli where he went to fight the Italians. He was immediately called back to Istanbul to receive new orders about the new front. In his memoirs he states:

“ Upon my return to Istanbul I was deeply saddened to hear of the Komanova defeat in Egypt, that Salonika had fallen and that the Bulgarians had advanced as far as the outskirts of Catalka near Istanbul.  I just was not able to believe that the Turkish Army could be beaten so easily and so fast.”

It was at that time that Kemal warned the officers about the importance of the narrow passage, which was located north of  Gallipoli and he was immediately appointed to the command of Dardnelle the location that proved to be very important for his military involvement a few years later after a period that was assigned to Sophia as an  Attaché.

The Battle for Gallipoli. Kemal is becoming a hero.

The Battle of Gallipoli was a turning point for the war and for the military carrier of Kemal it may even be said that it was the turning point for the survival of the Turkish nation.

Kemal is saying in his memoirs:

After loosing the sea battle on March 18th of 1915, the enemy (he means the Allies) wanted to gain control of the Straits by launching an assault of the Gallipoli peninsula. It was then that an Army under the name of the Mediterranean Allied Forces started to gather on the Limni Island. This Army was made up of Australian, New Zeland, English and French troops and an Indian Brigade.

As for us we had the second army to counter this force. The German Marshall, Liman Von Sanders was appointed to head this army. The army commander had the idea that the attack would occur from the Asian side and Gallipoli and had his troops positioned according to this idea. I was of the opinion that the attack would come from Seddulbahir which was the furthest most point from Kabatepe and Gallipoli. The 19thDivision , of which I was given the command of, was positioned as a reserve army at Bigali.

Finally the enemy began landing where I had mentioned on the morning of April the 25th of 1915.

I will not give here the description of the battles Kemal was engaged to with the allies for months in this area, but I will quote some extracts from his memoirs:

… It was here that we came across a very interesting scene. And I think it was the most crucial moment of this historical event. I saw that the unit put in charge of shore observation was running retreating. I personally went to the front of these soldiers.

-I asked why are you running away?

-“Sir, the enemy!”

-“One does not run from the enemy.”

-“We run out of ammunition.”

-“If you don’t have any ammunition you still have your bayonets.” I said.

So I screamed to them to fix their bayonets.

When I commanded these privates to fix their bayonets and “hit the ground”, the enemy privates “hit the ground” 

as well. 

And it was at this moment that we had won. I gave the 57th and 77th Regiments their orders. In fact I had

 added this to the verbal orders I had given to the commanders:

“ I am not ordering you to attack. I am ordering you to die. Other forces and commanders might take our place during the time it takes for us to die.”

Finally by the November the 10th the enemy pulled out of Dardanelles. The total loss of lives, were 250.000 Turkish soldiers and a similar number from the Allied forces.

The Battle of Gallipoli made Kemal a hero and helped him to survive later when his revolutionary ideas and actions against the Sultan were becoming more widely known. Never the less the whole involvement of Turkey in the Balkan wars and the First World War were disastrous leading to the total collapse not only of the Ottoman Empire but of the main economic infrastructure of the country including the agriculture. The Albanian uprising, the Balkan wars, the war of Tripoli had already caused the loss of significant lives when the First World War started. Out of the 2.800.000 men conscribed in the Turkish Army, around 300.000 to 600.000 were killed, 400.000 were injured while the number of deserters and unaccounted for were estimated around 1.500.000. At the same time a significant percentage of the minority population, Armenians, Greeks and Syrians, who consisted a major part of the middle class in the Ottoman Empire, were exterminated by Massacres or persecutions. (see other pages in this site) “The Greek Turkish confrontation.”

It is interesting to note that by reading through carefully the pages of Kemal’s memoirs one cannot get even a glimpse of his thoughts or his intentions about the Greek and Armenian minorities in Asia Minor. Kemal appears not to be involved with any actions influenced by the New Turks leading to persecutions or by actions of the Sultan who proclaimed his sacred war after November 1914, when Russia, Great Britain and France declared war to Ottoman Empire. His first mention of any involvement starts with his trip to Samsun, in the area of Pontus, during 1919.

Kemal much prefers to talk about the multiple war fronts his country had to face from 1914 to 1919, and what a multiple front that was!

The Russian front in Erzurum, the Syrian front, Aleppo, Canakkale, Azerbaijan, Iran e.c.t.

It was evident that, for the Ottoman Empire, the end was very close. (1918)

The Armistice conditions Kemal strongly criticized.

Kemal is stating in his memoirs:

“I knew that despite all the catastrophes, I could make the Turks’ presence felt once I could take command of the rest of the Army….”

…..While I was working with my friends on these principles, I received this order from Istanbul.”

“The following are the Armistice conditions we maid with the Allied Nations. Every army needs to be informed and must immediately apply all pertinent provisions…”

And Kemal continues:

I came up with the opinion that the Ottoman Empire was quite willing to unconditionally surrender herself to the enemy without any conditions. Not only that but there were also promises to help the enemy invade the country.

Allot of turmoil was taking place in Istanbul, the group that Kemal was commanding was dissolved, Kemal proceeded to Istanbul on November 13th,1918.. While was crossing to the European side he noticed Averof the Greek Battle ship.

“ .. I noticed many enemy battleships, among them was the battle ship Averof, that had dropped anchor in Bosphorus. I was quite disappointed at this view.

In fact I told myself that I should not have come to Istanbul. I held the belief that the arriving battleships were going to depart the same way they came.

In spite of these views, a lot of Turks in Istanbul were very happy for the end of fighting, but not for long, the shame of foreign occupation ended all that.

No need to say that the Greeks were very enthusiastic with all the developments. In Constantinople there were more than 200.000 Greeks with 130 Greek Orthodox Churches. The Greek troops in Constantinople are feeling very mach at home. They don’t loose any opportunity to humiliate the Turks and make them understand that Constantinople will return back to its Mother country.

Kemal at his despair, he placed a phone from the Ottoman Parliament to request a meeting with Padishah Vahdettin. The meeting took place immediately during November 22nd 1918.

The meeting between Kemal and the Sultan during 1918.

The meeting between Kemal and The Sultan was a historic moment that represented the agony of a dying world and the dynamic coming to power of a group of Nationalists, which was fighting for survival among national and International Wars that shacked the area and reshaped the world at the time.

.

Kemal is writing about this meeting that was arranged on November 22 1918:

“ While I was making my opening comments and enlightening him and warning him on a basis of a constructive exchange of thoughts, he pulled the rug out from under me saying:

-I am quite sure that the army’s commanders and officers, like you very much. Can you give me your confidence that I will not succumb to any evil doings from them?

I was not able to immediately grasp the meaning and purpose of such a question, so I asked;

-do you have information and perceptions related to opposing activity by the army?

He closed his eyes and gave neither a positive nor a negative response. He asked the same question, I answered him and said.

-As it is, I only arrived in Istanbul a few days ago, I do not know exactly what the situation is here. However, I do not think there would be a reason for any commanders and officers to take a stand against Your Honor. That is why I can assure you that you should not expect any evil doings.

He commented in a very suspicious manner of speaking.

-I am not only talking about today, but for tomorrow as well…

This last sentence got me really thinking:

May be there is a possibility that the Padishah is going to make a move tomorrow that might affect the army’s, patriotic commanders and officers. By deceiving me he wanted assurances from me on their behalf that they wouldn’t cause any disruption. Could there have been any benefit for myself or the country, with such an explanation? The man sitting across from me looked like he had made his decision along time ago… I went out of Vadettin’s room feeling very hopeless…..

…..The streets of Istanbul were filled with Allied soldiers and their bayonets, whereas one could not see the deep blue water of the Bosphorus for the numerous battleships with their guns aimed at both shores…….

 

In order for the reader to fully understand and appreciate the impact that Kemal’s movement was making, at the time, one needs to examine closely what each side (the Sultan and Kemal), were really representing, and what the international scene was, with different interested parties (the Great Powers of the world), each one pursuing, by different means, its own aspirations and interests. So it is imperative at this point to make a parenthesis and give some of the background and the conditions in the Ottoman Empire.

The best way to convey the atmosphere that was prevailing at the time, which also formed the background for the Balkan Wars and the First World War, is to give an extract from an article written by James Brice at the beginning of the 20th century.

The decline of the Ottoman Empire was at the time so certain and was progressing so fast that the question the world was razing was not how it may be saved but how and who will inherit it. So James Brice, in his articles, was analyzing the alternatives.

So, he comments about the alternatives:

Article by James Brice Published 1912.

Two alternatives for the ”Eastern question”

Introduction to the article included an article written by the same author during 1905.

“The Balkan question” Published by Luigi Villari, John Murray, London

…….

“For example the European territories of Ottoman Empire could easily be gained by Russia or be shared between Russia and Austria or between these two with some concessions to Italy and Greece. Smaller sharing could go to the Bulgarians, the Serbs and the Vlachs or other local minorities which will gradually loose their identity and will be absorbed by the Slavic populations of the two empires.

Asiatic Turkey could be absorbed by the Caucasian Russia or could be shared between the Tsar and one or more European Nations with interest to expand in the area.

The wretched subjects of the Ottoman Empire would welcome such eventuality, Muslims and Christians as well.

Let us not forget that the Muslims are expecting to gain from the disruption of the existing system as much as the Christians as well.

Even the least progressive European Governments can guarantee life safety, the property of individuals and it allows wealth concentration, population increase and makes provisions for the education of people.

After all Egypt developed under the British Administration and Bosnia progressed under Austrians.

The Christian minorities did not want to be incorporated with the Austrians or the Russians. This was not because they preferred the Turks but because an advanced collapse of the Ottoman Empire would enforce their aspirations for the Christian nations, which the Austrian and the Russian occupation would destroy.

Hence the overall advantage would eventually be for the inhabitants of the Turkish provinces

So, under this general climate and after the total defeat of the Ottoman army the Sultan was not in a position to do any thing else but compromise. He was basically in the hands of the Allied Powers.

The process that led the Ottoman Empire to this impossible situation did not start just with the Balkan Wars or the First World War, the decline was the result of many years of incompetent autocratic administration that could not adapt to the needs of the emerging world. Some measures to reform the administration and the way the Ottoman Empire was looking at the new world were taken during the first half of the 19th century, but the results did not save the situation as the efforts to westernize the state resulted in the destruction of the local industry and the total dependence of the Turkish economy to the western powers that eventual caused Bankruptcy due to over borrowing after the Crimean War at the end of 19th century.

Reforms introduced by the Sultan during the 19th century. Tanzimat

  The Ottoman Empire under Sultan Abdoul Medit, is at the crossroads of a blind alley of its past and an attempt to introduce a set of reforms that is known as Tanzimat.

These reforms resulted in the loss of state control in commerce and production.

The reforms will become the start of the liberalization of the Turkish economy.

In addition, reforms in the state organization that try to imitate western practices and standards become a vehicle for an easier western penetration to the Ottoman financial, administrative, political and social infrastructure. For example the “Baltaliman” trade agreement of 1938, that the Sultan signed with England and later with other western nations became the milestone for the unconditional surrender of the Ottoman market to western competition and as a result an important stage in the process of western penetration. The next stage would be the massive influx of European capital in basic sectors of the Ottoman economy which inevitably lead to the total dependence of the Ottoman state to the western economies.

This actually happened very fast and one could see the population, especially in cities like Constantinople, Ismir and Thessalonica, to develop new consumer habits that could not be satisfied by local industries.

A good example is the increase of imports of cotton textiles from England at the expense of local textile industry.

The agricultural production is increased during the second half of the 19th century and exports are increased to Western Europe mainly for England.

With the adaptation and total focus of agricultural exports to western economies the Ottoman agriculture becomes even more dependant on west.

The state naturally desires to increase agricultural production so that it may increase the income from these exports and changes the state of land leasing that used to exist introducing reforms for land ownership. As a result large agricultural areas become even more dependant on the west.

But this increase of agricultural production results in even more industrial and consumer imports from west, as a result the local industry suffers even more.

The next stage now is the influx of western capital.

The state loan that the Ottoman Empire made during the Crimean War and subsequent loans that followed the next twenty years forced the Ottoman Empire to bankruptcy during 1875.

The Greeks of Asia Minor, being in contact with west and having a natural inclination to trade and commerce managed to control a significant part of imports and exports with the west especially with England.

All these reforms and results greatly influenced the thinking and the events that followed later.

One cannot avoid but make historical parallels with today’s events and draw conclusions about how history repeats itself.

Istanbul under Occupation and the general situation on May 1919.

After this long explanatory parenthesis, let us go back to the sequence of events and let us see how things were evolving through the eyes of Kemal.

 Istanbul was occupied by the British and their allies including the Greeks.

“People could only go out of their homes to obtain their basic needs, whereas they had to cower and hunch over in fear along the walls lining the streets in order not to be on the receiving end of rather unpleasant insults. It seemed as though the vothings rices of hundreds of thousands of those residing in the enormous city of Istanbul had been extinguished. The only ising up through the Istanbul skyline were the voices, insults, flags and bayonets belonging to the enemy.

I was amazed there were still those aware that there was a Sultanate, a government and an existence.  I made up my mind to pass over into Anatolia……

….. It was around the time I was thinking about going through with this, the government proposed to send me to Anatolia as an inspector. I gladly accepted this proposal on APRIL30, 1919

What an excellent break, fortune had prepared such positive conditions for me that I cannot even begin to describe how thrilled I was. I remember biting my lip from all the excitement as I departed from the Ministry.

The cage has been opened and in front of me waited a big, wide world. I was like a bird flapping its wings, ready to fly….

…..I learned that IZMIR was being occupied by the Greeks while I was saying goodbye to the Ottoman Ministers at the Sublime Porte on May 15th. The Ministers appeared very hopeless.

On May 16th, 1919, I embarked aboard the tramp steamer “Bandirma” that the Minister of the Navy, had assigned to me.

I landed at Samsun on the 19th of May of 1919. This was the general situation at that time:  

 

·        The group of powers, which included the Ottoman Government, had been defeated in the Great War.  

·        The Ottoman Army had been crushed on every front and an armistice had been signed under severe conditions.  

·        The prolongation of the Great War had left the people exhausted and impoverished.  

·        Vahdettin, the degenerate occupant of the throne and the Caliphate, was seeking for some despicable way to save his person and his throne, the only object of his anxiety.  

·        The army had been deprived of their arms and ammunition.  

·        The Entente Powers did not consider it necessary to abide by the terms of the Armistice. Their warships and troops remained in Istanbul.  

·        The Vilayet of Adana was occupied by the French  

·        Urfa, Maras and Antep were under British occupation.

 

·        In Antalya and Konya were the Italians.  

·        There were British soldiers in Merzifon and Samsun.  

·        Foreign officers, officials and their agent provocateurs were very active in all directions.  

·        The Greek Army, with the consent of the Entente Powers too, had landed in Izmir. (May 15th 1919).

  

·        Christian elements-Greeks and Armenians- are also at work all over the country. They are trying either openly or in secret, to realize their own particular ambitions and in doing so, to hasten the break-up of the state.  

·        Mavri Mira, a Greek organization which has been established by the Patriarchate in Istanbul, is forming bands of irregular soldiers. It is organizing meetings and spreading propaganda  

·        The Greek Red Cross and the official Emigrant Affair commission supports the work of Mavri Mira, and the Armenian Patriarch, is also working with them.

 

·        An other society which is headquartered in Istanbul, called Pontus, works openly and successfully in Trabzon, Samsun and along the entire Black Sea Coast.  

Because of the horrifying seriousness of the situation, certain well-known people have began to organize movements to remedy it. These include:  

1.      The Thracian- Pashaeli Union in Erdin.

2.      The Union for defense of National Rights of Eastern Provinces in Erzurum.

3.      The league for the Secession of Trabzon and the surrounding province.

4.      Also some young patriots in Izmir have been holding meetings in an attempt to resist the threat of Greek annexation.

The situation in Anatolia and Pontus-

….I had two army corps directly under my command but also had the authority to give orders to the military units in the surrounding inspection zone. You might ask why they sent me to Anatolia with the intention of banishing me from Istanbul. The answer is that they were not really aware of what they were doing. Their excuse for getting rid of me was that it was necessary for me to go to Samsun to give an on –the-spot report on the unsettled state of affairs in the province and to take all necessary measures to deal with it. In order to do this I had asked and had been granted special authority and special powers

….My first order was to  run the Pontus dreamers out of Samsun.  

Once security was restored in the

 vicinity, I established contact with the entire army and then proceeded to Havza on May 25th.

Meanwhile I had been informed that the provinces of Manisa and Aydin had been occupied by the Greek Army. 

After remaining in Havza from May 25th to June 12th, I moved on to Amasya. During this time I sent out circulars to 

all commanding officers and high civilian officials, urging them to expedite the formation of national organizations 

all over the country. I swore that in working with the nation, I was going to sacrifice everything to achieve our 

independence. The people had not been fully informed about the occupation of Izmir and later of Manisa and 

Aydin.”

What Kemal was describing in the above lines was basically  a major attack which was executed by Turkish elements for the extermination of the Greeks in the areas of Pontus and Caucasus. Whole villages and towns were then totally eliminated.

This was encouraged and supported by Kiazim Karabekir the ex General of the Ottoman Army who had, by now, joined Kemal’s forces.  

But let us see how the Greeks of Pontus describe the situation in an Internet site:

“According to the reports of the German Ambassador in Constantinople, Metternih , the new Turks were trying to make excuses for the deportation of Greeks that used to leave in the coasts of Black Sea saying that the Russians had provided arms and equipment to the Greek population and for this reason they were afraid of a Greek uprising. This argument never the less is unsubstantiated since the population that was mainly deported consisted of children women and old people. The younger population that was capable to bear arms they had already enlisted in the army and were on the mountains and abroad.

The Austrian Ambassador in Constantinople Pallavicini described the last events of  Pontos in Vienna on the 19th of December 1916 and on the 2nd of January 1917, referring to the tragedy of Amisos;

On 11th of December 1916 5 Greek villages were destroyed and later were burned. The inhabitants were deported.

On the 12th of December 1916 in the surrounding of the town more villages are burned.

On the 14th of December 1916 complete villages are burned with the schools and the Churches.

On the 17th of December 1916 the Turks burned 11 villages in the area of Samsud. The destruction continues. The villagers are brutalized. 18 villages are totally burned and 15 partly burned, around 6O women are raped. Churches were violated and destroyed. The genocide “ala Turk” is mute, sly, with some sort of eastern foxiness, it does not have theoretical background, but rather practical, where looting is the philosophy, The “so called” deportations, exiles of the total population of complete villages, these devastating trudges in the snow, of women, children and old men- the young men are already enlisted in the army or working in the special Tamirat Tabourou and Amele Tabourou*– do not lead to any Auschwitz, a concentration camp with the organized, diabolic, extermination methods that eliminates the physical human existence- no, it was an Auschwitz “on the move”, the people were dying on root, in the middle of the road, they were not marching to go somewhere, no, they were marching to die from hardships, the cold, the hunger, the human humiliation.

* Tamirat Tabourou and Amele Tabourou, units of approximately 1000 men who were forced to obligatory labor with minimum food and water. The prisoners were dying by the thousands. Re: F. Sartioux Asia Minor p.172,173

The tragic predicament of the Greek populations was lending itself for diplomatic exploitation because, due to the war, the English, the French and the Russians were absent  from Asia Minor. America made its presence dynamically known with president Thomas Woodrow Wilson who imposed his political solution for the Eastern Problem that was known as the “policy of the 14 points”

The very competent Ambassador of USA in Constantinople H. Morgenthau was closely observing the policies of the New Turks and was publicly objecting to the methods adopted for the solution of the Greek problem in Asia Minor.

The “non existent” Muslim class in Pontos was created, after the genocide of the Armenians and the Greeks, by the “ nouveau rich” criminals who accumulated riches from the properties they robed. The descendants of the bigger executioner of the Greeks Tοπάλ Oσμάν are today millionaires and the conveyors of the Turkish middle class ideology.

It is not a historic exaggeration to accept that a large percentage of today’s Turkish middle class,  is the creation of the small independent murderous gangs of robbers, the police and army collaborators, who fought under the tolerance, the cover and support of New Turks, “Kemalist” and after Kemal Governments.

Till today, I don’t believe that historians attributed objectively the huge contribution made by the Bolsheviks to the Turkish National Assembly and consequently to the shuttering of Hellenism of Asia Minor. It has not been adequately pointed out that due to the financial and military support from them the Government of Kemal managed at the most critical moment to stand on its feet and to take publicly the decision to exterminate all Christian populations, without the fear for retaliations from the allies.

In the Greek files there exist reports from the French and English secret services, which describe creepy details of atrocities of the “Kemalists”. How would reports like this have reached the Greek hands? It is unknown. Most probably the same people from the secret services of the Great powers, indignant with the stand taken by their governments, gave their reports to the Greek Government.

J. Gerard writes, introducing G. Horton’s book The Blight of Asia: “.. The fact that twenty centuries after the birth of Christ a small and backward people, such as the Turks, managed to commit such crimes against civilization and the progress of the world, should make all nations to stand and think.. we turned a deaf ear to the desperate cries for help of the Christians who were dying , even if we new very well that America was their only hope and now, it is evident, in our country, that there is a tendency which grows all the time, to cover up the crimes of the Turks and forgive them in order to gain material benefits and profit from them”.

These political statements have additional weight when made by an American citizen and statesman because they are free of any prejudice.

The reports of the unpublished files of the various Ministries of exterior and of other public and private files for the drama of the Hellenism of Pontos has no end. In total, up to the obligatory population exchange, more than 350.000 Greeks from Pontos found miserable death from the New Turks and “Kemalists” in the cities and the villages, the ravines and the mountains, in exiles and the prisons, the units of obligatory labor and in the Turkish army as Ottoman citizens.

The Resignation of Kemal Atatourk and the open confrontation with the Sultan

From this point onwards, Kemal had the control of the Turkish National moovement and he refused  to obey orders to return to Istanbul . He was in open confrontation with the Sultan and the goverment.

Finally on the 8th of July he sent a telegram to the Sultan and the Minister of Defence anouncing in this way his resignation from the Army.

At the same time  he anounced his decision to the People of Erzouroum  where he went after Sivas and Tokat.

After this development the Sultan issued an order, (signed by Nazim Pasha ) to the Chief of Staff for the arest of Kemal.

The reply from the Army was negative and was distributed openly to the rest of the heads of the Army units……..