The I2 th Sep- tember, at the moment when the rupture between Anatolia and Stambul took place
If you will allow me, I shall first make some remarks on a question that you will consider very important. As you probably know, Ferid Pasha s Government had given formal orders for the election of the legislative body. But up to that time, that is to say, the I2 th Sep- tember, at the moment when the rupture between Anatolia and Stam- bul took place, this order had not been carried out. You will under stand that after the turn of events that had taken place, it was urgently necessary for us to concern ourselves with this question. We began to do so on the 13 th September. (Document 86.)
Instead of going into lengthy details, it win be better if I place before you the general instructions we issued for this purpose. Here they are:
Telegram. T 3 th September, 1919.
To the XIII th Army Corps at Balikesri, to the XII th at Konia, to the XIII th at Diarbekr, to the XV at Erzerum, the XX th at Angora, to the 17 th Division at Brusa, the 58 th Division at Tshine, the 6i st Division at Panderma, the I st Army Corps, via the 6i st Division, the n th Division at Nigdeh, and the Vilayets and autonomous Sanjaks and the authorities in towns where there are Branches of the “Union for the Defence of the Rights.”
On account of the reactionary attitude of the Government and in order to secure the defence of our rights in these most dangerous days through which we are passing, the election and speedy meeting of a National Assembly is our most urgent duty to undertake.
The Government has deceived the people and has postponed the elections from month to month. In the same manner, on different pretexts, it has postponed the execution of the order it had eventually issued. The Note which Fend Pasha has just laid before the Peace Conference shows that he will surrender our vilayets beyond the Taurus.
His next step, which will be to make the frontier line pass through the Vilayet of Smyrna after having previously come to an agree ment with the Greeks distinctly shows his intention of giving up the territory already occupied by the Greeks.
Last of all, the thoughtless and malicious policy pursued by him in other occupied parts of the country, enables us to foresee in a similar way that he will expose the country and the nation to dis memberment and confront them with an accomplished fact by signing the Peace Treaty before the National Assembly can meet.
In these circumstances, the General Assembly of the Congress urges the Army and the people to be watchful, and declares that it is in the vital interest of the nation to proceed as rapidly as possible in the following manner:
1. The town authorities and the “Unions for the Defence of the Rights ” must immediately set to work to complete all the necessary preparations for the elections to take place in the shortest possible time that the law sanctions.
2. The number of deputies must now be fixed in proportion to the number of the inhabitants of each sanjak, and the Representative Committee must be duly informed in advance.
The question of the candidates will be settled in later correspondence.
3. Any difficulties that may arise that will be liable to postpone the preparations for the elections must be guarded against imme diately, so that the elections can take place as quickly as possible.
You are requested to bring the foregoing to the knowledge of the authorities of the different towns and the committees for the “Defence of the Rights in your district, and assist in hastening on the arrangements.
The Representative Committee.
Fend Pasha s Government remained obdurate. It persisted in its obstinacy, as you know, till it was overthrown. But it seemed exceed ingly dangerous to leave the country without guidance for an indefinite time. So, during the night of the 13 th September, I drafted the follow ing resolutions, which I circulated first in the form of an inquiry intended to produce expressions of opinion, and later as an order, without taking any notice of certain objections:
I beg to inform you in the following statement of certain proposals that have been considered by the Congress.
They will be laid before the General Assembly for discussion and will be carried through after you have expressed your opinion on them. We hope to be informed of that opinion before the evening of the 15 th September.
The General Assembly of the Congress feels itself obliged to break off all relations with a Government which interprets the will of nation in an unsatisfactory way, which regards the national actions and the national proceedings as unlawful, and which, although we have never ceased in a legal and legitimate manner to prove our unfailing fidelity to the Padishah-Caliph, interposes itself like a solid wall between the nation and its Sovereign, and which arms the citizens to fight against one another and tear each other to pieces.
In these circumstances, the General Assembly considers it to be its duty to inform you of the resolutions they have arrived at : I. The official business of the State will in future, as hitherto, be carried on strictly according to the laws in force and in the name of His Imperial Majesty, The lives, property and honour, as well as the rights of all citizens, without distinction of race or creed, will be protected.
2. The State officials will continue to exercise their offices; adapting themselves, however, to the legitimate wishes of the nation. But those who are not willing to do so will ipso facto be considered to have resigned their posts, and will be temporarily superseded by other qualified persons.
3. Those officials who work actively against the aims of the nation and the national movement, will render themselves liable to severe punishment, for the sake of the security of the people and their religion.
4. Whoever, whether he be a discharged official or a private individual, does anything that is contrary to the national resolutions or makes propaganda that is calculated to spread confusion among the people, will likewise be very severely dealt with.
5. The welfare and happiness of the country and people can only be secured by right and justice, and by the maintenance of order throughout the country.
The Assembly trusts that the Commanders of Corps, the Valis and the autonomous Mutessarifs will adopt measures to effect this.
6. In anticipation of the moment when, after we have succeeded in laying the demands of the nation before our Sovereign, we shall also have succeeded in forming a proper Government possessing the confidence of the nation, the Representative Committee of the Sivas Congress will remain in office and continue to conduct the affairs of the nation.
7. These resolutions are to be communicated to all the general committees of the national unions and to be publicly circulated.
I will not disguise the fact that this declaration gave rise to a great deal of criticism, sometimes of an insignificant kind but at others it was rather violent, and we had to encounter active resistance and face hostile demonstrations and threats. The criticisms and objections, by the way, were not directed solely against what I have just read to you.
At the same time they applied to other points also, and to give you a clear idea of this I must ask you to let me give you a short account of some correspondence that was exchanged on the subject. On the 14 th September, the Committee of the “Defence of Rights” at Erzingan telegraphed to us: “We have unanimously resolved that it would be advisable to grant the Government a final extension of forty-eight hours before putting our decision into execution.” After all, this was rather a harmless proposal.
I will now quote from a long telegram in cipher, dated the 14 th September, that we recived from Djevdet Bey, commanding the XIII th Army Corps at Diarbekr:
“If we break with the Government completely and appoint the Representative Committee of a congress to act as the leading authority, our opponents and all those who entertain political ideas will construe it to be a revolt against the Caliph, and this will confuse the minds of some people.
“Has the question of providing for the requisite expenditure been considered, and has anything been done to cover the cost of the pay and food of the officials and the Army, in case the situation will be prolonged for any length of time?
“The Government is under the tutelage of England. No pressure, no effort on our part, could bring a Government into power that would act differently. If the English, with the consent of the Cabinet, were to get the idea into their heads of carrying out an extensive programme of occupation, have you decided to take up arms against them? And how far do you feel assured of success in the event of our being forced to do that?
“Would it be in the highest interests of our country to carry our obstinacy as far as this?” (Document 88.)
In their telegram of the 15 th September, the committee at Erzemm expressed the opinion “that we will have to obtain the consent of the general committees and to insert a special clause in the regulations before the 6 th clause of the resolutions can be carried out” that is to say, the one relating to the establishment of the Representative Committee as the highest authority in the land.
Ilias Bey telegraphed from Malatia on the 15^ September that “in his opinion, while reserving his acquiescence, he thought the right thing to do would be to postpone the matter until the population of the Vilayet of El Aziz had been fully informed of the aims and objects of the Congress, thus giving them time to think it over.” (Document 89.)
The General Committee in the town of Sivas itself, where we were living at the time, sent us a long account, which began by saying, “it is evident from the whole of the resolutions arrived at, that the intention is to proclaim a provisional administration.” It further drew our attention to the fact that cc this did not seem to be supported by the regulations of the union or by any clause in them/ In the end, it advised us “to confine our proceedings within a reasonable compass and seek for proper means to put them into execution before we laid our considered demands calmly and sincerely before His Majesty/ 7 (Document 90.)
Servet Bey, a member of the Representative Committee, who, in spite of our invitation and pressing, had declined to join us and had invented all kinds of excuses for not taking part in the Sivas Congress, sent the following non-ciphered message to us on the 15 th September, beginning with the devout Arabic expression : “Salaam aleikum/*
“We have received the manifesto issued by the Sivas Congress and your other communications. We have submitted our reply to it to His Excellency at his own request. In the first place, it appears that the Sivas Congress has taken up the position of a General Congress and has created a Representative Committee, contrary to our reso lutions.
“The Sivas Congress had no authority to provide for the possi bility of introducing its members into our Executive Committee.
“The rupture with the Government is an accomplished fact. It will produce a very bad impression that the Representative Committee has been appointed the highest authority in the land. This cannot possibly be done.
“The Sivas Congress is not competent to alter the regulations passed at Erzerum. The Congress must be subordinate to the re presentative body of the Eastern Provinces.
“You may be certain that public opinion, which has been passing through a period of agitation caused by the resolutions passed at Erzerum, must regard all other decisions with suspicion.”
Servet Bey closed his message with this protest:
“We cannot agree to any measures which exceed the scope of the resolutions agreed upon by the Erzerum Congress/ (Document 91.)
Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha, commanding the XV th Army Corps, telegraphed to us on the 15 th September: “I have read the document which Servet Bey, Izzet Bey and Seki Bey, members of the Trebizond delegation persons whom I know intimately and in whom I have the greatest confidence and the highest opinion of wish to send in reply to the question put to them by the Sivas Congress. I understand and share the actual ideas on which they have based their remarks/
Then he laid down his opinions about the details of the different I2 9
points, and said : “The Erzerum Congress met in the name of the Eastern Provinces. As for the Sivas Congress, it represents the entire nation and, therefore, it is natural that it should be represented by a special body. But the Representative Committee of the Eastern Provinces has been automatically abolished by this. Nevertheless, it still exists at the present moment. At the utmost, it could only include those persons who have become members of the Representative Committee of Sivas and who already were members of the Represen tative Committee of the Eastern Provinces, if any were to be asked to resign from that committee.
“The Sivas Congress represents the interests of the whole nation ; the representative body of the Eastern Provinces confines itself exclusively to defending the special rights and interests of the latter.
“As for the highest authority and the competence of the Represen tative Committee, this is the chief question in this affair. I am ab solutely of your opinion that nothing should be done rashly. With regard to Arts, i to 5 of the proposals of the Representative Com mittee, I think that it is superfluous not only to make them a question to be voted upon, but also to publish them in the form of a pro clamation or as an expression of opinion.” (Document 92.)
I will now read you the telegraphic reply we sent to Servet Bey at Trebizond and our answer to Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha.
The former was worded thus :
To Servet Bey, Trebizond.
We have not yet received a reply from the committee at Trebizond to our question. We asked His Excellency Kiasim Pasha for his opinion also on this question.
Naturally, we cannot understand the necessity of bringing these two opinions into connection with one another.
I will answer your remarks in their proper order.
Firstly, it is generally known that the Sivas meeting was in the nature of a General Congress. You are the first man who has told me that it had been suggested it could have any other character.
As to the question of the Representative Committee, it is essentially the same as that elected by the Erzerum Congress.
Rauf Bey, Bekir Sami Bey, Raif Effendi and Sheikh Hadji Fewsi Effendi are here with me at Sivas at the present time.
Although some of our colleagues are still away, the majority of them are doing their duty. We have no doubt that you know all about this, because, feeling how important it was, I had asked you while I was still at Erzerum to come to Sivas, and I told you then that I was leaving with the others.
After It had been fully discussed and decided that a general con gress at Sivas was empowered to increase the Representative Com mittee by the addition of new members under Art. 8 of our regulations there had been no further question concerning this, but, on the contrary, we had found that this provision would ensure that the committee would be fully representative.
We did nothing more about it at the Sivas Congress. With regard to the rupture with the Government., it cannot be considered as an infraction of Art. 4 of our fundamental resolutions.
The cause of it is the treason of the Government, a possibility that could not be provided for in these resolutions, because it had never entered into the mind of any one.
After all, we are not responsible for the actual fact, but the Govern ment themselves. It is irrevocable that we carry out the terms of our telegram in cipher. We cannot depart from them in any particular.
We thought it right to take the initiative in obtaining your consent to this. You must decide whether you will join us or not.
I should like to draw your attention to this:
To-day, when the whole of Anatolia and the whole of Rumelia feel compelled to march forward on the road they have both chosen to take, it is absolutely necessary for us to identify ourselves with the views of the majority rather than with those of the minority, and afterwards convert the latter to our own views.
If you have any better proposal to offer about our work and our qualifications for doing it, I shall be glad to hear of it.
When you carefully examine to-day the attitude which we thought it right to assume, you cannot help seeing that it is accurately in accord with the programme laid down in the fundamental resolutions accepted by the Erzerum Congress. I cannot see a single point in which we have exceeded them.
I must, therefore, ask you to define what we have done contrary to these regulations to cause Your Excellencies to hesitate to join us.
The only thing that we have not been able to prevent is the wretched attitude of the Government, which timidly confides the de stiny of the country and of the nation to the caprices of …. (illegible) and has sacrificed them to their own personal interests. If there is any possible way of meeting the situation by taking a different course than the one we are now following, I shall be greatly obliged to you if you will let me know what it is. Mustapha Kemal. The introduction to the long reply we sent to Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha reads as follow:
We have received the open telegram sent by Servet Bey and Izzet Bey to the Representative Committee on the questions that the General Committee of Trebizond had referred to them. The Represen tative Committee considers that it should not have been sent open, because its circulation might give rise to some doubt, considering that it reflects no more than the personal opinion of these gentlemen. The Representative Committee in their circular letter had not asked for the opinion of Izzet Bey and Servet Bey, but for that of the Trebi- zond Committee.
However, I think we ought to give you some information about the private telegram which shows you the view held by Izzet Bey and Servet Bey, as well as your own, which, as Your Excellency indicates, had been communicated in reply to these gentlemen and to the Representative Committee.
A. Firstly, it is unfortunate that the Representative Committee has not able to discover the real motive that induced these two gentle men to make the remarks of which you are aware.
B. Art. 4 of the declaration gives the reasons for the establishment of a provisional administration and the way in which it is to be established. The steps that have been taken on account of the recent events, which are known everywhere and reveal the treason, have never for a moment aimed at creating a provisional administration. Con sequently, there is no reason to try to find any connection between this and Art. 4. The object of these measures is to discover a way to give the Sultan directly a description of what is going on and to ask him to form a legitimate Government.
C. The Sivas Congress by resolution has elected a special body, which is entitled to act in the name of the delegates of the western districts of Anatolia and the Erzerum Congress, which would represent the entire Eastern Provinces. In creating this body, it has apparently assumed the character of a General Congress representing the whole of Anatolia and of Rumelia, and is, therefore, representative of the whole nation.
This Congress has adopted the resolutions of the Erzerum Congress and the organisation created by it in toto, but has considerably widened them. It follows that the Union for the Defence of the Rights of Eastern Anatolia” consolidated and at the same time extended itself under the more comprehensive title of the “Union for the Defence of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia/ This, after all, was the realisation of the highest aim which Art. 3 of the regulations and the fundamental resolutions of the Congress laid down as an unalterable object.
The General Congress at Sivas has confirmed its full confidence in the Representative Committee elected by the Erzerum Congress in the name of the eastern unions and has recognised it in its entirety as representative of the “Union for the Defence of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia.”
Evidently there is no question of regarding the resolutions passed by the General Congress at Sivas, those by the Erzerum Congress, the Representative Committee of the “Union for the Defence of the Rights of Eastern Anatolia” and the Representative Committee of the “Union for the Defence of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia” as totally different things. To make such a distinction between them would be extremely fatal to the chief object of the union which we are all striving to attain as our sacred ideal.
Therefore, when we look at matters from this point of view, there are no representative bodies which annul one another, nor members who should be called upon to retire if they happened to belonged to another committee.
The only representative body belonging to our union, which to-day comprises the whole of Anatolia and Rumelia, is at Sivas, where it continues to carry on its functions with the co-operation of five, out of the nine, members who were elected in the usual way by the Congress of Erzerum.
To leave Western Anatolia, whose rights, interests and privileges are not in any way less important than those of the Eastern Provinces, in a subordinate position and ignore her rightful and well-founded claims and proposals, is a proceeding that our reason forbids us to tolerate.
It is because our Representative Committee was called upon to deal with this, that is was enlarged by the addition of six new mem bers. (Document 93.)
This telegram, which contained references to many other matters, was also communicated verbally to the Trebizond Committee.
These questions involved further extensive correspondence.
It happened even that telegrams antagonistic to us were sent from Trebizond to other vilayets with the forged signature of the Trebizond Branch of the “Union for the Defence of the Rights.” (Document 94.)
At length, after a fortnight had passed, we received another tele gram from Trebizond, but this time it was not from Servet Bey. I had better quote this telegram verbatim, so that you may get a close view of the situation then prevailing.
To His Excellency Mustapha Kemal Pasha. For the Representative Committee at Sivas.
The following telegram from the civil authorities of Trebizond is now being sent to Constantinople.
A copy of it has been handed to the officer commanding the XV th Corps. Ali Riza
Commandant. I st October, 1919.
Copy of the telegram.
To His Highness Ferid Pasha, Grand Vizier, Constantinople.
The inhabitants of Trebizond, with the dignity and calmness that
are their natural characteristics, have heard the national cry of protest
that is being raised throughout Anatolia. The people have come to
the end of their patience.
If Your Highness possesses the slightest patriotic sentiment, you can no longer remain at the head of the Government.
President of the Town Council.
Husni, Mehmed, Salih, Mehmet Awni, Ahmed Shefik Mehmet, Temel, Members.
On the 17 th September, I received a telegram in cipher from Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha, addressed personally to myself.
This telegram, which was couched generally in exceedingly cor dial and brotherly terms, contained several warnings.
“Pasha,” he said, “the communications and circular notes coming from Sivas are sent sometimes in the name of the Representative Committee and at others in your own. An example of the latter was when you sent those communications and warnings addressed to the Government in Constantinople on the lo* 11 September. Will you believe me when I tell you that the communications signed in your own name are the cause of friendly and sincere criticism, even by those who love and honour you most? You can yourself judge what consequences and reactionary feelings can be produced by them. Therefore, I beg you to send all the resolutions arrived at by the Representative Committee- and the Congress signed merely in the name of the Representative Committee/ This was the ending of the telegram:
“It is in the interests of the nation that Your Excellency, what ever happens, will not appear prominently.
“I am sure that you will accept these requests that we think it right to send you in a friendly spirit. I have not yet been informed what persons or bodies have been interrogated and who are stated to be united,
“I kiss your hands.” (Document 96.)
Surely it is necessary to explain and discuss the circumstances which apparently could have led Kiasim Pasha to express his sincere doubts and objections.
As I do not wish the opinion I held at that time to be affected by what occurred subsequently, I prefer to give you the exact wording of the reply that I sent:
To His Excellency Kiasim Pasha, commanding the XV th
Army Corps. Reply. 19 th September, 1919.
My dear brother, the friendly language you employed when you informed me of your conviction, the deep sincerity of which I do not for a moment doubt, can only help to strengthen the brotherly bonds that unite us and afford me the most cordial satisfaction.
Be assured that I perfectly understand your anxiety. No com munication was sent to the Government on the g m September signed by myself.
I happened to be at the Telegraph Office on a certain day and accidentally noticed that Aadil Bey, the Minister of the Interior, was handing in some messages. Remembering the stupid answers -he had sent to Reshid Pasha, Vali of Sivas, I turned round to him in quite a personal way and remonstrated with him rather sharply you know how I can do this.
The conversation was quite of a private character. All the messages we sent to the Government or the Sovereign or to foreign countries were signed as coining from the Congress itself or the “Representative Committee/ One letter only, addressed to the American Senate and which you know all about, was, according to the resolution of the Congress, signed by five persons including myself.
In the same way we continued to use the signature “Representative Committee” in all non-ciphered correspondence with the authorities of Anatolia. But we found out that this gave an unfavourable im pression and produced a feeling of distrust in certain quarters. In fact, the names of persons and the authority they represented, that were included in this indefinite term, were not disclosed; therefore, it was not publicly known who was responsible for these messages. From Kastamuni, Angora, Malatia, Nigdeh, Djanik (Samsoon) and other places, people began to put themselves into telegraphic com munication directly with me.
Signs of doubt began to appear. I was asked whether I was actu ally working in conjunction with the persons who were hiding their identity under the title of the “Representative Committee/ Servet Bey at Trebizond, who had received the messages from the Represen tative Committee in very bad part and had drawn many erroneous conclusions concerning the character and the composition of this committee, asked me to come personally to the telegraph instrument. After we had discussed the matter by telegraph, he declared that all this misunderstanding was due to the fact that the title chosen for the signature suggested that somebody was posing as the “Represen tative Committee/ All this caused us, even before your brotherly warning came, to consider very carefully this question of the signature. As the Representative Committee was not the executive committee of a secret society, but comprised the representatives of a lawful union which had been formed in a legal manner with the official consent of the people, we considered it to be obligatory for us to follow the usual practice laid down by law, by having all our resolu tions and communications signed by a responsible person. We thought that any doubt that existed about our lawful position that would fall on the Representative Committee if their communications and publications were signed in the name of a fictitious authority, would certainly considerably counterbalance the prejudice that could possibly arise from a signature that might be exploited by the hostile propaganda circulated by the enemies of the national movement. In the end, we unanimously decided that all our communications should be signed personally by somebody. In spite of their previous decision, when I received your friendly warning I proposed to the Committee to bring this question up again. My colleagues, however, again decided unanimously, being influenced by the foregoing reasons and considerations, to mention in the text of all such documents that it had been drawn up by the special resolution of the Representative Committee. As I was involved personally in this question, I considered it correct for me to remain neutral during these discussions. After the principle of a personal signature had been adopted, a discussion arose as to whether somebody else should not take my place. My colleagues raised the following objections to this suggestion.
The whole world knows the part I am playing in this movement. If we begin to-day to let the correspondence be signed by someone else and if my name ceased to appear, it would immediately be con cluded that discord and dissention reigned among us, and, whoever might be appointed to sign in my stead, it would immediately be thought that I am in an unlawful position that prevented me from coming conspicuously forward, and that the national movement is tainted by some illegality. But apart from this, even if we were to decide to empower another person possessing general confidence to sign, the same doubts that are raised to-day about myself would certainly be attached to my successor. He would find himself obliged to hand over his authority to someone else, which would lead to perpetual change and which would eventually reduce us to a con dition of weakness, I cannot imagine how such a result as this could appeal to you.
It is true that we calculated, particularly at first, that my own person would present a target for attack from every side. These anticipated attacks were actually delivered from within the country itself, as well as from abroad, but hitherto they have turned out, with God s help, completely in my favour. The Government and certain evil-disposed opponents have been overthrown in all their assaults. As for foreign countries, very close relations have been established with Americans, French and English. Their Plenipotenti aries came to Sivas and arrived at a good understanding. We know, with absolute certainty, that they have sent reports to their Govern ments that prove that the national movement to which we belong is far from having been instigated by two or three persons, but, on the other hand, bears the stamp of a truly national and general character.
You are aware that, on account of the characteristic mentality of our country, it is impossible to prevent the ca.hiTrmi.es which certain despicable people invent and circulate about those who are taking more or less leading parts as pioneers in a movement of this kind. But, after all, the same thing occurs in every country. The only thing we considered would be effective against such obstacles would be to go on, without hesitating a moment, and tread the road we had chosen in a spirit of unshakable unity and concord.
You are surely convinced that I prefer to proceed in my acts and in affairs of public interest with the unanimous and loyal consent of my honourable colleagues, instead of following my own personal opinion. Nevertheless, I would be glad to hear your friendly ob servations on the subject. I greet you cordially and respectfully.
Between the 12 th September, the date on which we suspended intercourse with the Government in Stambul, and the overthrow of Ferid Pasha s Cabinet, we repeatedly sent messages to the Sultan, to the representatives of Foreign Powers, to the Prefecture of Con stantinople and the whole of the Press. (Document 97.)
No doubt you will recall that on the 20 th September a Proclam ation was issued by the Sultan, with a supplement to it by Ferid Pasha, the Grand Vizier. (Document 98.)
I would like to bring to your recollection once more the main points of it :
1. The policy followed by the Government resulted in the tragic events at Smyrna having attracted the sympathetic attention of the civilised States and nations of Europe.
2. A special delegation has begun to institute an impartial inquiry on the spot. Our clear rights are beginning to be recognised by the civilised world.
3. We are not confronted by any decision or proposal intended as an attack against our national unity.
4. Some people speak of so-called dissention, which is supposed to exist between the people and the Government.
5. The present state of affairs can only lead to the postponement of the elections, which we desire to carry through as soon as possible in accordance with the regulations laid down by law, as well as the meeting of the Chamber of Deputies, the existence of which is more necessary than ever, because the peace negotiations will very shortly take place.
6. I expect complete subjection to the orders of the Government from all my people.
7. The sense of fair-play on the part of the Great Powers and the spirit of justice exhibited by European and American public opinion, strengthen us in our hope for a speedy peace which would save our own dignity and our position in the world.
As you see, the publication of this Proclamation took place at a time when relations and communications between the country and the Government had already been interrupted and while we per severed in maintaining this rupture.
If our orders and instructions had been taken into due consider ation this message ought not to have been brought before the eyes of the public anywhere in Anatolia. I shall read you a telegram which will show you that, in spite of our orders and in opposition to our point of view, this publication had been circulated in several localities:
To the Commandant of Trebizond.
The officials and inhabitants of the town must be informed im mediately about the Proclamation which His Majesty has deigned to issue to his people, so that everybody shall be aware of the shameless presumption shown by the present Cabinet of traitors, who continue to deceive our good ruler in case there are any who may still be ignorant of this.
What stands out most conspicuously in this Proclamation and shows how His Majesty s heart is overflowing with love and anxiety for his nation and country, is the fact that the petition presented by the people, in which they complained of the treason of the Government, has not yet been laid before the Sovereign.
The sincerity of expression which characterises this Proclamation provides beyond doubt that His Majesty would not permit the members of the Cabinet to remain for a moment longer in office if he knew that they employed the weapon of treachery against the people.
It is on the people, therefore, that the duty rests at the present moment to manifest their unalterable devotion and loyalty to then- glorious Padishah, and to make certain that the assurance shall reach the steps of the Imperial Throne that the Nation and the Army, united in striving for the same object, will work together to protect the unquestionable rights of His Majesty, as well as the very existence of the country and the nation; and that, in opposition to them, this Cabinet of traitors conceal this legitimate movement of his faithful subjects from him, and only bring it to his knowledge in quite a different light.
We enclose the text of the telegram that will be sent by the in habitants of Erzerum. Kiasim Kara Bekir
2i st September, 1919. Commanding the XV* 11 Army Corps.
Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha informed me about this telegram and added:
“Has Your Excellency anything to say about this? This Imperial Proclamation provided the nation with a new reason for bringing the truth before the eyes of the Padishah. The inhabitants of Erzerum will take this opportunity to denounce once more all the crimes perpetrated by the Cabinet. I shall also communicate the text of it to your honourable Committee, so that they may take notice of it, and, if they think fit, also send a telegram.” Kiasim Kara Bekir.
We went to the Telegraph Office and sent off this reply:
Undoubtedly you are aware that we were unable to distribute the documents about the treachery of Fend Pasha s Cabinet as widely as we wanted to do in the smallest towns and villages. Even if we had succeeded in doing so, it would not have been at all certain that the people would have arrived at the truth by comparing them with our messages.
Having been informed beforehand that the Sublime Porte was drawing up such a Proclamation, we thought it would be well to prevent its circulation from confusing the minds of the people.
Considering that all official relations with Constantinople had been broken off, we thought that this Proclamation, emanating not from the Palace itself but from the Sublime Porte, accompanied by some remarks made by Ferid Pasha himself, not having reached Sivas, Angora, Kastamuni and certain places, had also not been received elsewhere. Before this Proclamation was issued to the nation, the people ought to have had an opportunity of laying their petitions and complaints before the Sovereign.
That is why we did not think it advisable to aid the circulation of the Proclamation; but as soon as it had been read by the persons interested in certain places, like Erzerum and Sivas, it clearly became necessary, as you suggest, to send telegrams from every office to Constantinople. Mustapha Kemal.
To counteract as far as possible the effect which the Imperial Proclamation would surely produce in certain minds, the only thing we thought most advisable to do was to draw up a reply to the Sultan, rejecting the assertions made in this Proclamation, and to publish and circulate it so that the people could have a chance of studying it. This is what we did. (Document 99.)
I had come to the definite conclusion that there were some at Trebizond who, without the people being aware of it, were them selves very patriotic and loyal and had assumed the right per sonally to represent the national conscience in this district; thus we did not succeed in carrying on the national movement and the resolutions arrived at as satisfactorily in this town as we would have wished. I had no doubt about the fact that a certain Galib Bey, who was Vali of Trebizond, was somehow involved in this hostile movement. I considered it advisable to commission Halil Bey, who was at Torul, near Trebizond, and had not yet taken over the command of his division, to organise the national movement in Trebizond and its vicinity. We wrote to this effect to the Commander of the XV th Army Corps.
In his reply, which he sent on the 20 th September, he put forward certain suggestions, one of which was that “at this critical moment it would, perhaps, be impossible for us to face the difficulties that might arise if Halil Bey took up his official duties, for we are con cealing his presence here from the English.” Later on he said: “If Halil Bey should send you any communications without my know ledge, I beg you to take no notice of them.” (Document 100.)
We replied to Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha in a telegram in cipher on the 22 nd September, telling him that the English danger was non existent, so far as we could see. But, as he appeared to think we ought to take a strong hand, we asked him to do whatever he thought necessary to meet the situation in Trebizond. (Document 101.)
While this correspondence was being carried on with the Com mander of the XV th Corps, Lt.-Colonel Halil Bey, of Torul, began meanwhile to put himself into direct communication with us. As we did not wish to leave his messages unanswered, we kept him informed about the position. On the 27^ September, we received a telegram in cipher from the Commander of the XV th Army Corps, which to a certain extent was a reply to ours of the 22 nd September. After he had told us that he had carried through his principle, the result of long experience, which consisted in informing and enlightening the people first and then arresting those who appeared to be refractory, he informed us that he had sent Rushdi Bey, commanding the 9 t]1 Division, with his Chief of Staff, to Trebizond to take over the command of the 3 rd Division temporarily, because Halid Bey did not appear to him to be the right man for Trebizond. He then expressed the conviction that “with regard to our conception of the English question, I hold the opinion that we must avoid showing any open and active hostility to them as long as possible.”
In my private and personal reply to him on the 29^ September, I said:
“We are now perfectly well informed as to the public opinion prevailing in the Vilayet of Trebizond. We are in correspondence with all the chief places of the sanjaks and kazas in this vilayet, with the exception of Trebizond itself. But after the arrest and removal of the Vali, some doubts have been disseminated. (At a signal from me, Halid Bey had arrested the Vali and had sent him under escort to Erzerum.) I shall now tell you the reasons I had in my mind when I sent Rushdi Bey to Trebizond to take over the temporary command of the 3 rd Division,
“In the first place, it was Halid Bey who had arrested the Vali. If Ruhsdi Bey were sent there a few days afterwards it would appear to evil-minded persons in the place to be a criticism of the attitude taken up by Halid Bey.
“Secondly, Halid Bey, who was waiting to take over the command of his Division in difficult circumstances, might be astounded to find somebody else replacing him in the critical and historical period through which we were passing. I ask you, therefore, to abandon your plan. At the same time, I am very loth to interfere with the military matters of your Army Corps/ (Document 103.)
On the 2 nd October, Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha wrote to me telling me in detail what had been done at the request of Halid Bey, and said that he had been ordered to go to Erzerum to have the situation fully explained to him. (Document 104.) Now, Djevad Abbas Bey, my senior A.D.C., had received a private telegram in cipher on the I st October, signed by Tarik, the adjutant of the 3 rd Division. The last sentence of it read:
Testerday the commanding officer demanded from the Army Corps that the conditions under which the command of the 3 rd Division is now being carried on should be altered. If the Army Corps does not accept this proposal, I have to inform you that, whether I receive the order or not, he will take over the actual command of the Di vision, he will detach himself from the Army Corps according to previous intentions, and will recognise the Congress itself as his sole and immediate superior authority. Will you inform His Excellency the Pasha about this in due course/ (Document 105.)
About two weeks later I received the following telegram, dated 17 th October, from Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha:
“In order to carry on the national movement within my command, it is absolutely necessary in my opinion to enforce strict discipline in future, so that the military spirit and the principle of subordination shall not be weakened. Experience proves everywhere and in all undertakings that where firmness is not combined with foresight the aim in view is fraught with danger, however brilliant it may appear to be. “Respect for the principle of subordination and a cautious attitude are specially necessary at Trebizond, where there are representatives of England and France.
“It unfortunately happened that, in disobedience of distinct orders given to him, Halid Bey went personally in uniform and arrested the Vali, a proceeding that immediately gave rise to all kinds of criticisms that were passed from mouth to mouth, as a result of his strange attitude.” (I have already mentioned the name of the person who had instigated Halid Bey to take this step,) “If Halid Bey is going to act like this during the elections, the English will be certain to repeat their procedure in regard to him and this will lead to difficulties.”
(We asked Halid Bey and a number of others to whom we could appeal to help us quite privately in setting the elections on foot and to secure their agreement with the will of the nation. As far as I am personally concerned, I am quite at a loss to understand what difficult situation could inevitably arise from anything the English might do.) “Consequently I ask you not to carry on any correspondence with him, but give your orders to him through me. I further beg you to give me your opinion about the election of Halid Bey as deputy for any particular district, and whether you think that his personal attitude would lead to any adverse criticism/
I simply replied to this on the ig th October by saying: “I cannot say anything about the election of Halid Bey as a deputy, because I know nothing about his views.”
There was no end to the questions that cropped up during the following days, before the overthrow of Ferid Pasha s Cabinet, and the difficulties we had to encounter were equally numerous. It would tire you too much if I attempted to tell you all about them, so I shall confine myself to mentioning a few facts only, which will be supplementary, I think, to what you know already.
On the recommendation of Ali Galib, Osman Nuri Bey had been appointed Mutessarif of Dersim by the Government, and when he arrived at Sivas on the 8 t]1 September we detained him.
Muheddin Pasha, Vali of Angora, whose treachery against the national movement was fully substantiated, had gone on a circular tour for a special purpose and on the 13^ September happened to be at Tshorum. We ordered the Commanders of the Army Corps at Angora and of the 5^ Caucasian Division at Samsoon to arrest this official and send him under strong escort to Sivas. He was actually brought a prisoner to Sivas. I had a personal interview with him. After I had warned and advised him, I sent him, because of his advanced age, to Constantinople via Samsoon. Sami Fethi, Mutessarif of Tshorum, was also privately requested several days later to come to Sivas.
On the i6 th September we ordered the officer commanding the Division at Nigdeh to arrest the Mutessarif of that place, the Collector of Taxes, and the Commissioner of Police, who had shown themselves antagonistic to the national movement, and to send them, also under escort, to Sivas.
Ibrahim Bey, Vali of Kastamuni, was known personally to Colonel Kiasim Bey (my C.O.S. when I was an Inspector in the Army). This is the reason we had entrusted him with all manner of secrets and carried on correspondence with him in cipher. The Government ordered him to return to Constantinople. Instead of directly refusing to obey this order, for some unexplained reason he left Kastamuni and went to Constantinople, where he was immediately arrested. Stambul had appointed somebody else, who had arrived at Ineboli on the i6 th September, to take his place. We gave the requisite order to the competent authority in that town to arrest him. An inter esting little incident followed, about which I trust I may speak at some length. After I had personally observed certain symptoms of hesitation and uncertainty in the Vilayet of Kastamuni and at Kastamuni itself, I requested Ali Fuad Pasha, who was at Angora, to send a capable and trustworthy officer there. Fuad Pasha sent Colonel Osman Bey as Commandant of the place. Osman Bey ar rived at Kastamuni exactly on the i6 th September. We expected him to arrest the Vali, who had simultaneously arrived. After having given him orders to this effect, I waited at the Telegraph Office for news. Night had fallen and I was unable to speak to anybody at Kastamuni who could give me the information I required. During the night, Colonel Osman Bey, Commandant at Kastamuni and the district, came to the Telegraph Office and sent me the following message:
“I have arrived at Kastamuni to-day. Through the machinations of Government agents, the provisional Vali and the Commander of the Gendarmerie, I was arrested in my house. I have only just been liberated by some of our officers, who are all the very soul of patriot ism. I have promptly retaliated by arresting both the provisional Vali and the Commander of the Gendarmerie. I have taken possession of the Telegraph Office. The position is very serious. I beg the Congress to send all their resolutions here to enlighten the loyal population of this town. I hear that the new Vali has landed at Ineboll. What shall I do about it? I shall wait at the telegraph instrument until I receive authority from the Congress to appoint a temporary Vali and the other officials.”
My exchange of telegrams with Osman Bey then continued thus :
I asked him: “Are you really master of the situation there? How many men have you at your disposal? Who are the really trustworthy persons among the leading officials in the vilayet? What is the name of the new Vali who you have heard has arrived at Ineboli?”
Osman Bey replied: “I am complete master of the vilayet. All I want is the support of the Congress and to be kept well informed of all that is going on. The Vali is said to be a discharged official who was at one time Vali of Konia. His name is Ali Riza. My troops consist of a battalion of 250 men and a machine-gun detachment with four machine-guns. I have been unable as yet to get into touch with the inhabitants. Among the high officials of the vilayet is Fend Bey, the General Treasurer/
I gave Osman Bey the following order: “You are authorised immediately to take up your duties temporarily as Vali and to take the entire civil administration and the armed power into your own hands. Be ready to airest the Vali immediately on his arrival. Do not hesitate to use force against all those who offer resitance to your authority. If the General Treasurer of the vilayet is the same Ferid Bey whom I met at Diarbekr, he may be relied upon to help you. Inform the Mutessarif of Bolu immediately of your authority and of the attitude you are taking up. Command him in our name to adopt the same attitude towards Constantinople. Issue the same orders, as coming direct from me, to Tewfik Bey, the Mutessarif of Sinope. What cipher are you using?”
Osman Bey replied: “I shall transfer the office of acting Vali to Ferid Bey, the General Treasurer. I cannot take it myself. Ferid Bey is the same man you know. The Mutessarif of Sinope is also a man whom you know. He has been dismissed. We have appointed Remsi Bey, commanding the gendarmerie, temporarily in his place. I have been informed that Mashar Tewfik is at Sinope. The cipher key is in the possession of the Commander of the Gendarmerie who is under arrest I shall order him to hand it over to me and will inform you of the result/
Our telegraphic conversation proceeded in this way: Question: “Have you another cipher key? Where is Ferid Bey at the present moment? Has he been told about the position of affairs?”
Answer: “No, he has not yet been informed. I had sent for him and he has just come. I have not brought any cipher key with me, because I hoped that I would be able to use the official cipher here.”
Question: “Who commands the gendarmerie battalion there? What is the strength of the Division? Is it under your own command?”
Answer: “Emin Bey, commanding the gendarmerie, is here with me now. He is working with me. The gendarmerie numbers about thirty-five men. Halid Bey, chief of the police, is also at my side now and is working with me. He can dispose of over forty men. As Sherif Bey, in command of the infantry battalion, is a rather foolish man, we thought it advisable to arrest him. Emin Bey, commanding the gendarmerie battalion, holds the rank of captain. Ferid Bey, the General Treasurer, has just arrived; he is standing by my side.”
Question: “Will you be good enough to tell me something about Emin Bey?”
Answer: “He is Emin Bey of Uskub, whom you know and whose commission dates from 1902. He greets you.”
Then I dictated the following to the telegraph clerk: “Thanks, I remember Emin Effendi very well indeed. Have you explained the position to Ferid Bey? You can send important news to us by the official government cipher. If the Commander of the Gendarmerie at Sinope who administers the sanjak is not reliable, you must look for some other man to take his place. Do you want any help?”
To this he replied: “I shall be able to see a little later on whether I shall require reinforcements or not. The Commander of the Gen darmerie battalion is quite a new hand and I have not yet been able to form any opinion about him.”
After I had asked Osman Bey whether there was anything more that he wanted to say and whether he had yet spoken to Ferid Bey about the situation, and after I had received his reply to these questions, I sent him the following official telegram:
i6 th September, 1919.
To Osman Bey and Ferid Bey Effendi.
“I wish you success in all your undertakings. We are awaiting further information about the situation and would like to hear that you have arrested the Vali, who must surely arrive at any moment.”
Kemal Pasha IO Some days after Fend Bey had become acting Vali and Osman Bey Commandant of Kastamuni and its surroundings, I ordered them to come once more to the telegraph instrument, and asked them for further news.
They informed me that they had sent telegrams to the desired effect to the Office of the Government in Constantinople, signed by all of them, and that these messages had also been published in all the vilayets and sanjaks. Then they asked me several other questions : “Pasha, the people are very anxious to know, i. whether the public opinion of the other vilayets is favourable to us or not? 2. how long you think this abnormal state of affairs will continue? 3. what you intend to do if the Cabinet persist in their resistance? We beg you to answer these questions.”
It was easy to see that these questions were ask by the people who were troubling the acting Vali and the Commandant. It was worth while to answer them,
I sent them a long message, that kept the telegraph line between Sivas and Kastamuni occcupied for many hours. What I said may be condensed into this:
1. The national movement, full of energy and glowing with enthusiasm, is actively going on even in the remotest parts of the country. The inhabitants, even of the smallest villages, and the Army, down to the smallest units, are responding loyally to our efforts and cheerfully follow our instructions in complete unity.
2. The position which you describe as being abnormal will change automatically on the day when the population of Kastamuni abandon their miserable pessimism, which comes from their habit of looking upon the present state of affairs as abnormal, and will stand firm to the last, determined to realise our common ideal.
3. It is natural that the Cabinet will persist in their attitude. Before thinking how we can overcome their resistance, we must first carry through what we have decided to do in every direction and by all possible means.
What, for instance, has been done at Bolu? Can we be certain that all official communication between Constantinople and all the towns lying this side of Bolu has actually been cut?
We are still awaiting news that they were told to send us here. In my opinion this is the first step that would destroy the Cabinet s power of resistance if it extended as far as Constantinople. But if the Cabinet continue to show their misguided obstinacy, there would surely be other and still more effective ways left to us. The Vali and Commandant added: “The Vali who had embarked at Ineboli to return to Constantinople had received on his arrival at Songuldak the f ollowing order from the Minister of the Interior : Bolu and its surroundings are free. Disembark at Songuldak and get into communication with the places in your vilayet. Remain there until you get further orders/ The Vali actually landed at Songuldak, and began to send out threats from there. Ferid Bey and Osman Bey had commanded the Mutessarif of Songuldak to arrest the Vali and send him overland to Kastamuni. The Mutessarif had disobeyed this order, but the Vali, who heard of this, did not feel himself safe any longer and returned to Stambul.” (Document 106.)
I have mentioned before that Ali Fuad Pasha, commanding the XX th Corps at Angora, had followed certain instructions and taken steps in the name of the Congress.
Ali Fuad Pasha had been appointed by the Congress to the rank of Commander of the National Forces in Western Anatolia. As, from the standpoint of the national movement, he regarded Eski-Shehr and the surrounding territory as a military zone, he appointed Atif Bey, Lt.-Colonel in the cavalry, commander of this zone, and Omar Lutfi Bey, commanding the 23 rd Division, commander of the Afium Kara Hissar zone.
I have already indicated that we had to pay particular attention to this Division from the first days we arrived in Anatolia.
The Government in Constantinople had appointed Hamdi Pasha to succeed Ali Fuad Pasha, and had sent him to take up his duties.
Hamdi Pasha got as far as Eski-Shehr. On the i6 to September he was told to return to Stambul.
The English ordered Atif Bey, commanding the national forces in the Eski-Shehr zone to be arrested, and he was sent to Constanti nople. An officer commanding the national forces ought to have known better than to fall so easily into the hands of the enemy. This lack of foresight on his part led to a great deal of trouble in Con stantinople in the effort to obtain his release.
As you are probably aware, at that time there were English troops in Eski-Shehr.
Fuad Pasha himself, with all the national troops he could muster, had gone to Djemshid, a place near Eski-Shehr, and had surrounded the town.
General Solly-Flood, in command of the Allied Troops at Eski- Shehr, wrote a letter to Fuad Pasha which contained expressions that could only be regarded as an insult to the honour and dignity of the national troops and the officers commanding them. We were satisfied that the General had exceeded his authority, and forthwith sent a protest to the foreign representatives in Constantinople.
The General sent a deputation, consisting of a staff officer^and an officer belonging to the English Control Commission at EsH-Shehr, which arrived on the 25 th September. They were received by Fuad Pasha and they gave him every assurance that the English had no intention of interfering in any way with our internal affairs and our national movement.
At the same time, the English tried to find out whether it would be more agreeable to us if they withdrew their troops from Mersiwan. We promptly gave them to understand that we would be very pleased indeed if they would do so.
They actually proceeded to withdraw their troops from Mersiwan with all their munitions and baggage, marching to Samsoon and embarking for Constantinople.
After we had become masters in Eski-Shehr, we thought of sending Fuad Pasha to the districts of Brusa and Biledshik.
Djemal Bey, Vali of Konia, had become one of the most important supporters in Anatolia of Ferid Pasha s Cabinet. The impossibility for Djemal Pasha, Army Inspector at Konia and who had been in Constantinople, to return to Anatolia, and the hesitating attitude of Selaheddin Bey, commanding the Army Corps at Konia, who had suddenly left for Constantinople without telling anybody he was going, had made Djemal Bey undisputed master of Konia and the surrounding district. It was necessary that we should send someone there who was well acquainted with our plans.
We chose Refet Bey, who was with us at Sivas, and he started at once. When the news reached Konia that the Representative Com mittee had sent a military commander there, the patriots were roused. To counteract this, Djemal Bey tried to form a bodyguard for himself by setting free all the criminals, murderers and other jail-birds, and arming them.
The loyal population of Konia rose against such an infamous act, determined to perform their patriotic duty.
As soon as Djemal Bey saw this, he fled to Constantinople on the 26 th September. (Document 107.) The people, who had assembled in the Town Hall, elected Hodsha Wehbi Effendi as acting Vali.
I remember a strange incident that occurred at this time and which I cannot help relating to you. On his way from Sivas to Konia Refet Bey sent me a telegraphic message. In it he told me that, in order to secure the success of his com mission in the district of Konia, he ought to hold the rank and author ity of Inspector of the II nd Army Corps.
Later on, after Refet Bey had been sent into the district of Bolu from Angora to quell a rising there, he sent me a telegram in cipher in which he applied for the dignity of Pasha to be conferred on him, giving as his reason for making the application that it would make a very good impression on the people.