Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Fate of the Three Pashas

Young Turk Ceremony Declaring the Return of the 1876 Ottoman Constitution

Five years after the Young Turks came to power a triumvirate of three men that had been had been involved in the Revolt of 1908 came to dominate Turkish politics. The Committee for Union and Progress had been steered at first by centrist, moderate elements. A series of disasters befell the empire, though, that would give opportunity for more determined types, the sort of politician that the army could support enthusiastically. In 1913 the stage was set for the men known to history as the Three Pashas.  

Talat Pasha (Mehmed Talat, 1874–1921) was one of the earliest leaders of the Young Turk movement, spending time in prison for subversive activities. After the revolution of 1908 he was elected as a deputy to Parliament and subsequently held important ministerial posts. He gave up his hopes to form an alliance with Russia and, after delaying as long as possible turned to the Germans and worked with Enver to enter the war on their side.

During the war, as Minister of the Interior, he ordered the infamous deportation of the Armenian Christians. At war's end he was grand vizier (prime minister) and after the surrender, with Enver and Jemal, fled to Germany where, three years later, he was assassinated by an Armenian.

Jemal Pasha (Ahmet Jemal, 1872–1922) was a professional army officer who displayed skills as both an administrator and a propagandist. After the coup of 1913, Jemal became the highly important governor of Constantinople and was quite influential in formulating foreign policy for the government.  His preference was to join in an alliance with France, but his efforts failed, and he eventually joined his fellow pashas in favoring fighting in alliance with Germany.

He opened the war as minister of marine, later becoming military governor of Syria and commander of the Turkish Fourth Army. T.E. Lawrence  reports he was considered a butcher by the empire's Arab subjects and was later sentenced to death in absentia for hanging Arabs suspected of treason. After the war he fled Turkey and died in Tbilisi, Georgia in 1922 at the hand of an Armenian assassin.

Enver Pasha (Ismail Enver, 1881–1922) was also a professional army officer, one with dream of expanding the Ottoman Empire. He was one of the organizers of the 1908 Revolt and advanced rapidly afterward, serving with distinction as attaché to Berlin and in the Tripoli War. He led the coup that gave the Young Turks full power in 1913 and entered the cabinet as minister of war. The most pro-German of the Young Turks, he played the key role in joining the war on Germany's side.

His military leadership and planning during the war, however, were disastrous. When defeat came he fled to Germany, pursued his grandiose fantasies throughout the Middle East and Asia, and was shot by the Red Army in Central Asia where he was trying raise a revolt against the Bolshevik government in August 1922.


  1. Some great moustaches here. Isn't the bottom one Blackadder IV? (Brits of a certain age may understand).

  2. They were eventually followed by Atatürk, Mustafa Kemal, who undertook to westernize Turkey.

  3. This is a wonderful report, without any doubt. May i know which online sources you are using to collect this type of information? Anyhow, Great sharing. I will bookmark it.

  4. Pashas family was faimilar to many history readers. I am great fan of history books. I always like to read books and blogs about different cultures. This is really nice of you to share the turk history for the readers.