Enver Ismail Pasha (Turkish: İsmail Enver Paşa) (November 22nd, 1881 – August 4th, 1922) was the Ottoman Minister of War during World War 1 and was part of the Young Turks organization. From 1913-1918, Enver Pasha was the leader of the Ottoman Empire during World War 1 and is responsible for the Armenian Genocide, which saw the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians, and 500,000 Greeks and Assyrians. He is one of the Three Pashas.
Enver Pasha was born in Istanbul in 1881. His father was Turkish and his mother was a peasant of Albanian descent. At a young age, Enver was very active in Turkic nationalism, and become active in the Young Turk Revolution which occurred in 1908. As a result, Enver became active in Turkish nationalism and quickly rose the ranks in the Ottoman Army.
Rise to Power
In 1910, Enver was active in the Italo-Turkish war, which saw the invasion of Ottoman Tripolitania by Italian forces. He managed to mobilize 20,000 soldiers to fight against Italy, however, war erupted in the Balkans, known as the Balkan Wars, and Enver had to divert his troop to the Balkans to fight against the Greek, Serb, and Montenegrin forces which soon overtook all Ottoman presence in the region.
In 1913, after the Balkan nations defeated the Ottomans, the Ottoman government stagnated and became extremely weak. As a result, Enver Pasha saw this as a chance to take over the Ottoman Empire. Along with Talaat Pasha and Djemal Pasha, the Three Pashas launched a coup d'etat in 1913, and they fully assumed power.
As the Second Balkan War erupted, Enver commanded his soldiers and defeated the Bulgarians in Adrianople, fully putting the city under Ottoman control again.
World War 1 and the Armenian Genocide
As the Ottoman Empire became broke and desperate for allies, Enver Pasha decided to turn to the German Empire for help. On August 2nd, 1914; Enver Pasha signed an alliance with the Kaiser. As a result, the Ottomans would later join the Central Powers in World War 1. However, the Ottomans would not join until November 1914.
As German troops dressed in Ottoman uniform attack Crimea, the Ottoman Empire was officially at war with Enver Pasha as the leader.
The first battle Enver Ismail Pasha would command is the Battle of Sarikamish, in which he commanded a force of Ottoman troops against the Russian army and Armenian volunteers in the Caucasus. However, it was proven to be a military failure and many Ottoman troops suffered for a lack of clothing and food. As a result, Pasha did not command as general for the rest of the war and mostly stayed in the Ottoman capital of Istanbul.
However, Enver Pasha became more obsessed with Turanism, Turkic nationalism. Along with that, anti-Armenian sentiment grew, and in 1915, Pasha ordered all Armenian intellectuals in Istanbul to be killed. Eventually, 1.5 million Armenians would be relocated to the Syrian desert, however many died of starvation and dehydration, which other Armenian women were raped by Turkish soldiers. Enver Pasha accused the Armenians of helping the Russian Empire, which whom the Ottomans were at a state of war with. Enver also wanted to make a pure Muslim state, and he eventually targeted other Christian minorities such as Pontic Greeks and Assyrians. As a result of his actions, nearly all Pontic Greeks were wiped out ending the ancient community.
As the near ending of WWI approached in 1918, more people grew distrusted of Enver Pasha. On October 4th, 1918; the Ottoman Sultan removed Pasha off of his Minister of War position. Enver's comrades Talaat and Djemal Pasha also lost power in the same month. On October 30th, 1918, the Ottomans signed an Armistice. The Three Pashas all fled from the Ottoman Empire two days later as a result.
In January 1919, a new government within the Ottoman Empire held a court tribunal condemning Enver Pasha for "plunging the country into war without a legitimate reason, forced deportation of Armenians and leaving the country without permission" however, Enver Pasha was not present as he fled to Germany.
Return to Turkey and second exile
Enver returned to Turkey, however, he wasn't welcomed by Turkish nationalists such as Mustafa Kemal. As a result, Pasha fled to Moscow and worked with the communist revolutionaries, however, he defected to the Basmachi movement, a self-determination movement of Central Asian Muslim Turks who resisted Imperial Russian and Soviet rule.
Enver Pasha's death has several versions, however, the most common and accepted one was that he charged at several Red Army members commanded by Yakov Melkumov killed Enver. Enver Pasha rode on his horse and died from machine gun fire while holding onto his pocket Quran. Consequently, his Quran was taken by the communists and sent to an archive.
Pasha's actions saw the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the deaths of 2 million Christians who lived within the Ottoman Empire. As a result, many view him as an evil man for differing reasons, as many blame him for the downfall of the empire while Armenians blame him for massacring 1.5 million Armenians.