The boots of Enver Pasha

The boots of Enver Pasha

Azeri journalist Fuad Seferov, who lives in Moscow, published a photograph of Enver Pasha’s boots on exhibit in the Russian Museum of War, in a piece he wrote for the Medya Günlüğü website on June 4.

The story says the British-made boots were taken under protection by Red Army officers, identified as Yakov Melkumov and A. Pankeyev, who were after him. Enver Pasha, the former defense minister of the Ottoman government, was eventually killed by the Red Army on Aug. 4, 1922 near the Changa village in the foot of the Pamir Mountains of Central Asia, which is now within the borders of Tajikistan.

Known as the Committee of Union and Progress (İTC) who dragged the country into World War I on the side of Germany, through a “fait accompli” in the words of his comrade, the prime minister of the Ottoman government, Talat Pasha, was only 41 years old when he was killed by the platoon led by Melkumov.

Melkumov was an alias used by Hakob Melkumyan in the Red Army. He was actually a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, or the Dashnaktsutyun Party. Enver Pasha was in the first ranks of a death list of Dashnaks resolved in the Ninth Congress of the party in Yerevan on Sep. 27, 1919.

The Dashnaks had decided to find and kill all former Turkish officials, who took part in the Ottoman and Azeri governments during 1915-1918. The term “genocide” was not invented yet but “revenge” was. The entire plan was called “Operation Nemesis.” It was masterminded and supervised by Armen Garo, aka Karekin Pastırmacıyan.

Garo had led one of the first urban terrorism examples on Aug. 26, 1896 by raiding the Ottoman Bank in Istanbul and demanding Armenian independence in six provinces, during which nine of the Dashnak militants were killed in a clash with Turkish police.

Later, Pastırmacıyan had collaborated with the İTC against Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II and was elected as an MP from Erzurum following the 1908 revolution. In time, the İTC and Dashnaks became arch enemies, especially after the Dashnaks collaborated with the invading Russian armies after Enver Pasha declared a war on them in 1914.

The first murder committed by the the Dashnaks as part of Operation Nemesis was the assassination of former Azeri Prime Minister Fatali Khan Khoyski on Sep. 19, 1920 in Tbilisi, Georgia. It was followed by the murder of the Dashnak’s “enemy number one” Talat Pasha on July 15, 1921 in Berlin.

Former Azeri Interior Minister Behbud Khan Javanshir was assassinated in front of Pera Palace hotel in Istanbul three days later on July 18, 1921. Former Ottoman Prime Minister Said Halim Paşa was assassinated in Rome on Dec. 5, 1921 and Cemal Paşa of the İTC triumvirate was murdered in Tbilisi on July 21, 1922.

Enver Pasha had actually attempted to return to Turkey with intentions to take the leadership for the War of Independence from his lifelong rival Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) Pasha and continue his pan-Turkish line. His pan-Turkish dreams had also led thousands of Turkish troops to freeze to death while confronting the Russian armies in the Caucasus in the winter of 1915, before the forced migration of Armenians had been ordered by Talat Pasha.

Kemal Pasha did not permit Enver Pasha’s return. A new Turkish state was to be built and it should not be stained with the sins of the past. Enver Pasha then tried to infiltrate into the Congress of the People’s of the East by the Communist International in Baku in 1921, but Turkish communists did not want him either. Enver Pasha then wanted to join the pan-Turkist/socialist Basmacı (Raider) Movement led by Zeki (Validov) Velidi Togan, resisting the Red Army in Central Asia.

Even they did not want to join forces with Enver Pasha, finding his politics too “adventurous.” It was a Dashnak militant in a Red Army uniform who killed Enver Pasha on Aug. 4, 1922, almost two weeks after Cemal. Apparently, according to Seferov’s story, he kept his boots and carried them to Moscow as a reminder of the history.

For a while, it was a tragic life for the country he led, for the millions of people who suffered one way or another and for himself. There are still admirers of Enver Pasha’s expansionist foreign policy, sometimes as a mixture of pan-Turkist and pan-Islamist ideologies.

Thank God, they cannot find a way to influence the main policies any longer. With every day, more Turks understand what Atatürk meant when he said, “Peace at home, peace in the world.”

Enver Pasha, First World War, history