I sent the following telegram of the 7 th July, to all the commanding officers:
1. The national forces, which are formed and organised for the preservation of our independence, are protected against any kind of attack or interference. The national will is sovereign in regard to the guidance of the fate of the State and the people. The Army is the willing servant of the national will.
2. If, for some reason or other, inspectors and commanders should be removed from their command, they may transfer it to their suc cessors provided that these have the necessary qualifications to work with, them; they should, however, remain in the district where they have any influence and continue to carry on their national duties as before. If, on the other hand, men should be appointed who might have been responsible for incidents similar to those that took place at Smyrna, the command is not to be handed over to them, and the inspec tors and the other commanders will refuse to recognise such appoint ments, and declare that they have entirely lost their confidence in them.
3. If, on account of pressure exercised by the Entente Powers for the purpose of facilitating the occupation of the country, the Govern ment should order any Coips or any part of the Army or of any national organisation to be disbanded, such order must neither be taken any notice of nor obeyed.
4. The Army will resist any influence or interference which would produce the weakening or dissolution of anti-annexation societies or unions for the defence of national rights, the efforts ^of which are aimed at the maintenance and preservation of national independence.
5. The Civil Administration, in the same way as the Army, is the lawful protector of the union for the defence of national rights and anti-annexation leagues in their effort to safeguard the independence of the State and the Nation.
6. If any part of the country is attacked, the entire nation is ready to stand up for its rights. In that case, each district will imme diately communicate with the others in order to insure co-operation and joint action.
These instructions were addressed to each of the Army Comman ders and all commanders of Corps in Anatolia and Rumelia, as well as to every other person concerned.
Five or six days after this circular had been sent out, I received a telegram in cipher from Kawak signed by “Refet, commanding 4 6
the III rd Corps/ dated the 13 th July. This is the text of the tele gram:
“Colonel Selaheddin, the Chief of the War Department, has arrived from Constantinople on board on English ship to supersede me. The Ministry has commanded me to return on the same vessel. Selaheddin Bey will work in the interest of our cause. As things are at the present moment, I think I would be doing right if handed over the command to him, and I have sent in my resignation to the Ministry of War. I will give you further particulars in a special message. I am leaving for Sivas. Will you be good enough to send your reply to me through Arif Bey, commanding the 5 th Division at Amasia.”
I must confess that I was not at all satisfied with Refet Bey s action. Constantinople had been informed of his co-operation with me. If a man who is regarded as a member of this active body arrives on board an English ship to supersede him, it must directly and naturally follow that he is serving the designs of the English.
Even allowing that this is no more than a mere surmise, Refet Bey ought not suddenly to have surrendered his command, but ought at least to have waited until he had heard what I thought about it.
On the other hand, if he had had sufficient confidence to hand over his command to a successor, I should have thought that it would have been better if he had remained there for some time longer, so that he could work with him and explain the situation and our own views to him, and at the same time have put himself into communication with me before he left. But as I was now facing an accomplished fact, there was nothing left for me to do but console myself with these two considerations :
Firstly, the expression in Refet Bey s telegram “Selaheddin Bey will work in the interest of our cause/ was a definite statement; secondly, Refet Bey had not actually left for Constantinople.
As it was, I sent a message to all the commanding officers, drawing their attention to the fact that “if they made the mistake of going to Constantinople, they would be doing something for which the country might be called upon to pay dearly, and, therefore, in future we should be very careful to carry out our programme strictly.” On the same day, the 14** July, I sent a telegram in cipher to Refet Bey contain ing, amongst other things, this expression : “The news that Selaheddin will take care to carry through our plans has made our comrades very happy indeed and has encouraged them very much.” To Selaheddin personally I sent the following telegram : July 14 th .
To the commanding officer of the 5 th Division at Amasia: For Refet Bey.
“Do you consider it advisable to send the following telegram to Selaheddin Bey?” Mustapha Kemal
To Selaheddin Bey Effendi.
“We are very glad to hear of your departure from the narrow sur roundings of Constantinople and that you are taking refuge in the sacred bosom of the nation and can join your companions in their patriotic labours. The Almighty will give us the victory in our united endeavours to gain our sacred aim. I greet you with brotherly feelings/ (Mustapha Kemal) Kiasim
Colonel, C. O. S., III rd Army Inspection
The first signs of doubt and uncertainty about Selaheddin Bey arose through this same Refet Bey, who had shown his confidence in him when he said that “Selaheddin Bey will work for the cause/ and who, after he had handed his command over to him, had left for Sivas.
Refet Bey s telegram from Amasia, indeed, expressed not only doubt concerning Selaheddin, but also contained certain other im portant things. If you will allow me, I will read it to you.
Urgent. Strictly confidential. No. 719.
From Amasia, I3 t!l July, 1919.
To the officer commanding the XV th Army Corps at Erzerum. For His Excellency Mustapha Kemal Pasha. “You know Selaheddin Bey. We must be very careful not to alarm him suddenly. Kiasim Pasha must get into correspondence with him under the pretence of congratulating him, and in doing so he must be very careful what he says. I have heard nothing yet about the recall of Hamid Bey. Something has happened to detain him. There is scarcely any hope that he will stay here after he has been recalled. Nevertheless, I shall work on him. It is certain that the English will do all they can to induce me to return. But I shall remain here and do what is necessary, as the situation demands. From what I can hear from Englishmen and an American passing through here, Kiasim Pasha is also in danger. Once more, I advise you to be very careful and watch what it going on.”
Commanding the 5 th Division. 4 8
Hamid Bey, who is mentioned in the telegram, was at that time Governor of Samsoon. Refet Bey had known him for a long time. He had already recommended him to me soon after we had arrived at Samsoon. He was convinced that he was a man who combined in himself the necessary qualifications to work loyally with us in the interests of the cause. We had succeeded in getting him appointed to Samsoon by writing to the Grand Vizier and, privately, to Djevad Pasha, Chief of the General Staff.
Could there have been any doubt at aU that such a person would sooner or later be dismissed? Refet Bey, however, stated that steps were being taken to detain him. “To detain” him but where? 1 Something has happened” but what ? and by whose authority? He added that he did not think that he would remain in that district if he were dismissed from his office, but all the same, “I shall work on him”! But where would he go to? To Constantinople? How? Has he not been working with us till now?
In his telegram Refet Bey says that he considers it certain that the English will exert pressure on the Government to have him re called, but that nevertheless he will remain on the spot ^and act according to circumstances. The position, however, was quite clear, and I had indicated in the instructions I had circulated on the 7^ July what he was to do (No. 2 of the instructions). No other steps were to be undertaken.
Refet Bey had been able to learn from the Englishmen and an American travelling through that “Kiasim Pasha was also in danger.” What did all this mean? To what should we attribute the attitude of these men who should be the very first to give proof of their firmness, and yet who appear to be dreaming of imaginary dangers and put their faith in others who are certainly not our well-wishers and who speak of these fanciful dangers in a tone of conviction?
At the end of his telegram, Refet preaches to us all, including myself, and advises me personally to be “very careful and watch what is going on.”
The interpretation of the expression “very careful” I leave to the judgment of sane persons of understanding.
If the person who advised me to proceed carefully would have given me this advice before he had abandoned his post, it seems to me that he would have acted with far greater sincerity.
Hamid Bey had sent me this short telegram on the 14^ July from Samsoon : “I have learned from a confidential source that I have been recalled. I expect the order to reach me in a day or two. I shall then go to Constantinople.”
If I had already regretted that Refet Bey had given up his command, I was very sorry indeed to learn on the very same day that another comrade on whom we had absolutely relied had taken up an incom prehensible attitude on an important question, just as though we were still living under normal conditions.
On the 15 th July, I sent this message to Hamid Bey;
“My dear brother, the news has reached us that Ibrahim Edhem Bey has been appointed to succeed you. I have written to Refet Bey, asking him to accompany you when you go into the interior. I cannot think what can induce you to go to Constantinople. While we are trying to draw our friends who can be useful to us away from Constantinople and bring them to Anatolia, so that we can let the good patriots have an opportunity of co-operating in carrying out our ideals, you want to go into the narrow and dependent environ ment of the metropolis to say nothing worse of such a proceeding. We do not approve at all of your attitude. Join Refet. Either stay in the district of Sivas with him or come to us by whatever route you prefer. We are waiting for a straightforward answer from you.” (Document 34.)
The telegram we received from Hamid Bey, Governor of Djanik, five days later, the 2O th July, from Samsoon was couched in these words :
“The nation, driven to despair by the ever-increasing scandals in Constantinople, is trusting that a ray of hope will come from the east. The people have endowed these places and those who dwell in them with such phantastic shapes and forms that I ask myself whether they are real. I am ashamed of my own indifference.
“Surely we are not asleep. We are eager to do something. But I have come to the conclusion that we are going to be entangled in theories and that we have chosen the longest road to arrive at our goal. The time and the condition of affairs in the country will not allow us to go on waiting. The situation is getting worse every moment. Therefore, we must decide promptly what we are going to do, and do it at once.
“I suggest that we sent telegrams to the Sultan simultaneously from all parts of the country. Let us tell him straightforwardly that the people, seeing clearly what the scandals that have been perpetrated for the last ten months under his very eyes, just to humour him and suit his frame of mind, will lead to, have decided, at all costs, to take the reins of government into their own hands. We ought to add that in future we shall decline to recognise either himself or his Government unless a Cabinet possessing the confidence of the nation is formed within forty-eight hours, and unless within the same time it has been decided to convene a constitutional assembly. There is no reason that I know of why this should not be done. Let us go forward! Let us trust that the nation, traditionally accustomed to bend its neck under the yoke, will stand loyally behind us.”
Considering that Hamid Bey told us five days before that he intended to go to Constantinople if he should be recalled, I think you will find his telegram rather energetically worded, but all the same it shows a decided and active spirit. The Governor wonders whether things are really what they seem and whether the nation may look for a ray of hope coming from the east. He must think us to be dolts and fools, who do not know what we are doing or how to act decisively and quickly. He would have done better if, after having said all this, he had not aired his opinions, which only showed his total incapabil ity of judging rightly.
History is teeming with examples showing what fate awaits people whose battle-cry is “Onward! and let us trust that the nation that is accustomed to be downtrodden will follow us!” Statesmen, and espe cially the leaders of a nation, ought never to allow themselves to be carried away by such absurd nonsense. Hamid Bey did not refer at all in his telegram to the advice we had given him about going into the interior with Refet Bey. In our message of the 2i st July, we had told Hamid Bey that: “With God s help, everything will turn out just as we wish. But before we can form a Cabinet possessing the con fidence of the nation, we must establish the power that is to stand behind it. This result can be attained only by calling together the congress of the Eastern Provinces and later on the general congress at Sivas.”