Young Turks

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Postcard about the revolution with Enver Bey and the Bulgarian text Long live freedom, long live the people, long live the fatherland

The Young Turks ( Ottoman ژون تركلر Turkish Jön Türkler and French Jeunes-Turcs ) were a political movement in the Ottoman Empire that had been illegally working towards liberal reforms and a constitutional form of government since the end of the 19th century . The aim was to strengthen the empire, which was weakened in terms of foreign policy and threatened with collapse internally, through systematic political, military and economic modernization. The most important Young Turkish party was the İttihat ve Terakki ("Committee for Unity and Progress").


First Congress of the Young Turks in Paris in 1902

Carrier of movement

The Young Turks movement was supported by modernist sections of the educated elite. The movement emerged in 1889 with the establishment of the secret organization İttihad-ı Osmani Cemiyeti ("Association for the Unity of the Ottomans") at the Military Medical School in Istanbul by the students İbrahim Temo , İshak Sükûti and Abdullah Cevdet . The Young Turks followed the line of earlier reform movements in the Ottoman Empire (see Tanzimat ) and in particular that of the Young Ottomans , a predecessor movement of the Young Turks. In contrast to the Young Turks, the Young Ottomans also included experienced politicians who could have ruled the country if they had come to power. However, the Young Turks could not show a single person experienced in government and therefore did not want to take over the government themselves when they first came to power in 1908, but left it to the government. They limited themselves to the intention of establishing a constitution and saw themselves as a powerful committee that only monitored compliance with the constitution.

A moderate tendency among the Young Turks had connections at court and was led by Prince Sabahaddin , a relative of the imperial Ottoman house. More important, however, were the “little people” who had risen to the functional elite of the state (civil servants, teachers, officers ) through modern education and who were to set the tone very soon after the Young Turkish Revolution of 1908. An alliance developed between radical intellectuals ( Ziya Gökalp , Nâzım ), civil bureaucrats ( Talât Pascha ) and the ultimately decisive officers ( Enver Pascha , Cemal Pascha ) - especially after the Young Turks came to power for the second time .

The low social origin of the most important Young Turkish leaders meant that they were content with political offices in the "second row" and left representative leadership positions to people from higher circles: In the first Young Turkish government phase from 1908–1912, these were Young Turkish politics More or less close representatives of the old political elite, in the second phase of government from 1913–1918 initially military leaders belonging to the Young Turks (Marshal Schevket Pascha , Grand Vizier 1913) or princes (Prince Said Halim Pascha , member of the viceroyal house of the Khedives of Egypt , Grand Vizier 1913-1917).

Shevket Pasha

It was only in the final phase of the Young Turkish regime that Talât Pascha, a man from the "bottom" rose to Grand Vizier in 1917/18 . In this way, the leadership of the government and the party were closely interlinked for a short time, whereas previously they were only loosely networked - which meant that the Grand Vizier and parts of the ministers often passed resolutions by the Central Committee of the Young Turks and individual ministers who had a seat and vote in them bypassed and presented with a fait accompli.

German influence on the Young Turks and their ideology

Through German intellectuals living in Istanbul , such as Alexander Parvus (in the city from 1910 to 1914) and Friedrich Schrader ("Ischtiraki", active in Istanbul from 1891 to 1918), contacts with the German SPD were established very early on . The successor party to the Young Turks, the Republican People's Party (CHP), is today a full member of the Socialist International . However, after the military coup in 1913, these socialist and left-liberal intellectuals largely lost their influence on the Young Turkish movement, which was increasingly shaped by conservative-nationalist ideologies represented by people like Hans Humann . This then resulted in racist agitation against non-Muslim minorities, against which Schrader and his colleagues Paul Weitz and Max Rudolf Kaufmann , all three employees of the left-wing liberal Frankfurter Zeitung , fought in vain during the war.

In addition, the Young Turkish movement was supported by liberal publicists such as Ernst Jäckh and Friedrich Naumann , who hoped for new expansion opportunities for the German economy through a German-Turkish alliance. Jäckh and Naumann, who had never lived in Istanbul, partially supported the right-wing nationalist wing of the Young Turks and their ethnic-nationalist ideology in journalism and, in contrast to Schrader, Weitz and Kaufmann, justified the violent crackdown on non-Muslim minorities such as the Armenians as a war-related necessity . Jäckh was also the driving force behind the plan to build a German-Turkish "House of Friendship" in a central location in Istanbul. The corresponding architecture competition was organized by the Deutscher Werkbund in 1916 and later documented by the young Theodor Heuss . However, the project did not get beyond the laying of the foundation stone in April 1917. These lively contacts between young Turks and democratic intellectuals in Germany were one of the reasons for the strong economic ties between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Turkish Republic, after the signing of the German-Turkish friendship treaty in 1941, which indirectly led to the immigration of two million Turkish people Citizens of West Germany since the German-Turkish recruitment agreement of October 1961. Max Rudolf Kaufmann, who from 1952 worked in Bonn as secretary of the German-Turkish Society Bonn and Middle East advisor of Inter Nationes , played an important role in the Turkish policy of the young Federal Republic until 1963.

Another close connection developed after 1908, and specifically between 1913 and 1918, between the Young Turkish officers of the Ottoman Army and their military advisers of the Army of the German Empire who were increasingly brought into the country under the Young Turkish War Minister Enver Pascha . The most influential of these German military advisers, who also largely marginalized the socialist and liberal advisors of the Young Turks who played a strong role until 1913 and who fought them in part (arrest and deportation of the Swiss Max Rudolf Kaufmann in 1916), was the German naval attaché Hans Humann , a son of the famous archaeologist and excavator of the Pergamon Altar Carl Humann .

Due to the focus of the Young Turkish exile in Paris before 1908, many Young Turkish politicians also had close contacts to France, which in the spring of 1914 led to (unsuccessful) explorations by the Navy Minister Cemal Pascha about an Ottoman-French alliance and when the power changed in Istanbul in autumn 1918 should play a role again when the German-friendly fraction of the Young Turks was replaced at short notice by the Francophile and Anglophile fraction.

Foundation of the Young Turkish Movement

The focus of the Young Turks before their successful revolution of 1908 were the European provinces of the Ottoman Empire, which were seriously threatened by neighboring states, above all Macedonia with its center Saloniki . In 1907 delegates from the very different wings of the Young Turks met in Saloniki (now Greece ) and founded the “ Committee for Unity and Progress ” ( İttihad ve Terakki Fırkası , which is why the Young Turks are also called “Ittihadists”). There began in 1908 under the leadership of Enver Pascha and Talât Pascha in July 1908 a successful military revolt against the absolutist ruling Sultan Abdülhamid II. The Young Turks forced the re-enactment of the constitution of 1876 , which had been suspended since 1878, and finally deposed the reluctantly cooperating Sultan in 1909 after he had supported an unsuccessful conservative counter-coup.

It was not until May 1908 that the committee had agreed not to work in secret anymore. The most important goal of the Ittihadists was the reintroduction of the constitution of 1876. To this end, the committee had agreed to also commit acts of violence against followers of Sultan Abdülhamids , following the example of the French Revolution . The police chief of Selanik Nâzım Bey was shot or shot on June 11, 1908 (he had conducted an interrogation against some Ittihadists in February), Şemsi Pasha on July 7, 1908 in Manastır (a spy of the Sultan), Hakkı Bey on July 6 1908 in Saloniki (Hakkı Bey was a member of a commission of the Sultan to investigate the incidents in Macedonia , which at that time still belonged to the Ottoman Empire), the Mufti of the Regiment of Manastır on July 10, 1908, on July 12, 1908 the Sultan Adjutant Sadık Pascha, Garrison commander Osman Hidayet Pasha the same day he was reading a Sultan's law.

Izmir Greeks celebrate the restoration of the constitution on August 2, 1908
Even Armenians in Istanbul celebrate with the slogan "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"

Young Turkish Revolution 1908

The start of the revolution for the reintroduction of the constitution of 1876 was formed by the uprising of Ahmed Niyazi Bey , which on July 3, 1908 with 400 men - including 200 soldiers and 200 civilians and Başı Bozuk  - retreated to the mountains of Macedonia. The later Minister of War Enver was also among the insurgents. The civilians should be used for tax collection. Ahmed Niyazi wanted to establish an administrative system on the mountains and intended a long-lasting uprising against the sultan's palace. From his letters to various governors on the first day of his revolt it emerges that he initially acted independently of the İttihat Committee; in the scriptures he did not refer to himself as an İttihat member, but as a "leader of 200 men".

The İttihat ve Terakki took an active part in the uprising on July 6, 1908. In her writings to governors, she referred to them as "governors of the illegal government". It was only after receiving the news of Ahmed Niyazi's revolt that the palace in Istanbul became aware that the constitutional movement in Rumelia was much more widespread than assumed, so that the palace first considered using the army. To suppress the revolt, Sultan Abdülhamid II sent Şemsi Pasha, one of his pashas, ​​whom he trusted most and who was also a spy of the palace. Şemsi Pascha was murdered by Atıf (Kamçıl) in front of the post office in Manastır ( Bitola ) on July 7th, shortly after a telegram was sent to Istanbul . This murder of a palace spy was a severe blow to the sultan's absolutism.

On July 12, 1908, Marshal (Müşir) Osman Pasha was sent to Manastır, but he found a disloyal army. The İttihat ve Terakki, on the other hand, gained strength. In the meantime, almost all Bulgarians were supporters of İttihat ve Terakki and the Muslims, who traditionally supported the Sultan, were gradually won over as İttihat ve Terakki supporters. In mid-July, İttihat ve Terakki could already assume that there would be a supportive majority in Rumelia. The local authorities in Rumelia became increasingly restless due to the unsafe situation. Hilmi Pascha , Inspector General for Rumelia from 1903 to 1908, reported to the Sultan in mid-July that almost all officers of the 3rd Army in Rumelia had connections to İttihat ve Terakki. In addition, there were the above-mentioned increasing attacks on the palace against loyal people.

On July 15, 1908, the Sultan made one last and unsuccessful attempt to bring the situation under control by sending 18,000 soldiers to Macedonia. On July 20, Muslims from Manastır besieged military camps and protested for the implementation of the constitution. Similar uprisings took place in Gribava, Elasma, Kizano, Köyler, Şerefiye and Firzovik in Vilayet Kosovo . The unorganized protest march in Firzovik, Kosovar, which was initially directed against an excursion by the German-Austrian railway to the village of Sarayiçi, turned into a pro-constitutional uprising against the sultan through skilful guidance by İttihat ve Terakki members. Here the Sultan was given an ultimatum. An oath was taken to storm the palace in Istanbul should the sultan fail to proclaim the 1876 constitution.

Abdülhamid on his way to the mosque after being forced to enact the constitution

The İttihat ve Terakki intended to introduce the constitution first in the Vilayet Macedonia. If successful, the constitution should be extended to the entire Ottoman Empire. On July 23, 1908, the constitution was finally promulgated in various cities in Macedonia. The proclamation of the constitution in Selanik (Saloniki) was scheduled for July 27th, but was brought forward because Sultan Abdülhamid II telegraphed on July 24th, 1908 that he would bow to the will of the people and accept it, the constitutional one To reintroduce monarchy. On the same day in Istanbul the Sultan announced the reintroduction of the 1876 ​​constitution .

Ahmed Niyazi and Enver were celebrated as freedom heroes in the summer days of 1908. In several places in the Balkans and Anatolia, there were public hugs between the various peoples of the Ottoman Empire under the slogan of brotherhood. In announcements it was heard that Turks, Greeks, Bulgarians, Armenians and all peoples and religious communities of the empire would unite to form Ottoman citizens . The driving force of the revolution was, as was always heard in the statements made during the revolution, to prevent the fall of the Turkish Empire. This requires a constitutional government and the complete equality of all citizens regardless of language, religion and ethnicity. The principle of the Young Turks was "Fatherland, freedom, equality, brotherhood ". In the history of the Ottoman Empire, the last era of the empire began, called the “ Second Constitutional Period ” ( İkinci Meşrutiyet ).

The Young Turks in power (1908–1912)

At the reopening of the Ottoman Parliament on December 17, 1908, Sultan Abdülhamid gave the opening speech. In it he also explained why he had closed parliament in 1878. According to this, the people were not ready for constitutionalism due to the level of education . In his speech, he referred to schools that he had established in many areas of the empire during the time and noted that the educational level of the people had increased since then. When the people announced their wish for the constitution to be introduced, he had swiftly promulgated the constitution despite different voices.

The new Sultan Mehmed V (center) with Enver Pascha (right) and Ahmet Niyazi Bey

Abdülhamid's brother and successor Mehmed V (1909–1918) became a powerless tool of the Young Turkish government after the revolution. As a result of the "oriental question" , the Ottoman politicians' fear of the ruin of the fatherland developed into a syndrome. The trigger for the revolution of the Young Turks was the meeting of the British King with the Russian Tsar in Reval in June 1908. The Young Turks believed that with this meeting the moment of the final decline of the empire had come, which they wanted to prevent with the introduction of the constitutional system. What turned out to be an illusion, however: Immediately after the revolution, Austria-Hungary proclaimed the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina , Bulgaria declared its independence, Crete united with Greece, Italy occupied Tripoli in 1911 and finally, in October 1912, the loss-making Balkan War began .

At the beginning of their government in 1908/09, the Young Turks attempted to set up a parliamentary-constitutional government in the Ottoman Empire, which also tried to integrate Christian and non-Turkish Islamic minorities in the multi-ethnic state of the Ottomans for participation or autonomy. One attempted to cooperate in particular with the organized representatives of the Armenians , the Albanians and the Bulgarians . These efforts met with a positive response, especially among progressive intellectuals from these minorities.Examples are the Armenian publicist and university professor Diran Kelekian , who became editor-in-chief of the most important Istanbul daily newspaper Sabah in 1908 and who, as a professor at the university, had taught many of the Young Turkish leaders.

However, this democratic-parliamentary attempt to reform the empire was largely unsuccessful. Not only conservative resistance in the Ottoman elite and in parts of the officer corps contributed to this, but also the enormous deficits in modernity in large parts of society. The decisive factor, however, was the unbroken desire of minority peoples for national independence and the imperialism of neighboring Christian states that was associated with it. As early as 1908, Austria-Hungary had used the turmoil of the revolution in the Ottoman Empire to formally annex the Ottoman province of Bosnia-Herzegovina , which it had administered since 1878, and the state of Bulgaria , which had been formally autonomous since 1878 and still subject to the sultan , had simultaneously proclaimed its independence. In 1911/12 the Ottoman Empire, ruled by the Young Turks, lost its North African province of Tripoli  - today's Libya  - and some islands in the Aegean Sea to attacking Italy .

This military defeat led to the overthrow of the Young Turkish government by its conservative opponents in mid-1912. But in the final phase of the war against Italy, war was declared on the Ottoman Empire in October 1912 by the Balkan states of Serbia , Bulgaria , Greece and Montenegro . In the so-called First Balkan War , the Ottoman Empire lost all European provinces, and even the capital Istanbul was threatened quickly. These defeats completely destroyed the reputation of the conservative, “liberal” government and made it easier for the Young Turks to regain power.

The military coup of the Enver-Cemal-Talât triumvirate in 1913

After the fighting ended, it was necessary to negotiate how the conquests should be divided. At the end of 1912, a conference of ambassadors of the great powers had met in London to negotiate the reorganization of the Balkans ( Great Britain , France , Germany , Russia , Austria-Hungary and Italy ). Russia, Italy and Austria-Hungary pursued their own interests.

Ahmed Niyazi Bey was executed in 1913

In these negotiations - the London Treaty was concluded on May 30, 1913 - the Conservative Government had no choice but to accept the loss of the important city of Edirne to Bulgaria. The Young Turks made a military coup on January 23, 1913, led by Enver Pascha . After the young Turkish Grand Vizier, Marshal Mahmud Schevket Pascha, who was initially also important, fell victim to an assassination attempt by the overthrown liberals in June 1913, Enver Pascha formed a " triumvirate " with Cemal Pascha and Talât Pascha , which ruled the Ottoman Empire from then until 1918. The assumption of supreme command of the Mesopotamia Army at the end of 1914, however, weakened Cemal's position: Until 1916/17 he operated far from the center of power Istanbul and was no longer part of the inner circle of those in power around Enver and Talât. In addition, this “triumvirate” was dependent on other, lesser-known party leaders who played an important role behind the scenes in the Central Committee: for example Nâzım or Bahattin Şakir .

Bulgaria, which seemed overwhelming, waged the Second Balkan War of 1913 alone against all of its previous allies and against Romania. In the course of this, the Ottoman Empire took advantage of the fact that the Bulgarian troops were deployed against Greece and Serbia in the west and marched into eastern Thrace, which had been evacuated by Bulgarian troops . In this way, Edirne was regained under Enver's command in the summer of 1913 - an important gain in prestige for the new regime. In the comparatively stable cabinet of the new Grand Vizier Prince Said Halim Pascha (June 1913 to February 1917) Talât took over the Ministry of the Interior as early as 1913; Enver and Cemal followed in 1914 when they took over the War Ministry and the Navy Ministry respectively. Talât himself became Grand Vizier for a short time between February 1917 and October 1918, while Enver served as his deputy.

In the course of these wars, the initially democratically-minded Young Turkish movement turned into a dictatorship. At the same time, the state had lost important provinces to neighbors, the state finances were just as ruined by the war as the defeated army. Worst of all, however, were the massacres of the Muslim population of the Muslim population by the armed forces of the Christian states during the First Balkan War, which cruelly murdered significant parts of the Muslim population and caused most of the survivors to flee to the reduced Ottoman Empire in Asia Minor . After the war, bilateral agreements on population exchange were added. Among the ideologues of the Young Turks, more and more Turkish-nationalistic and even Turkic-racist ideas prevailed over halfway pluralistic (young Ottoman) ideas that also allowed the Christian ethnic groups to participate. Enver Pasha in particular dreamed of the establishment of a Greater Turkish "Turanian" empire, including Azerbaijan , Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan , and even parts of China.

However, from 1913 the defeated Ottoman Empire had completely different concerns: In Asia Minor, a large number of Balkan refugees had to be looked after. At the same time, the reduced empire had become much more Islamic than before due to the loss of territory in Europe, which was accompanied by the loss of many Christian subjects, and the parallel admission of Muslim refugees from Europe, which affects the situation of the remaining Christian minorities in Asia Minor - especially the Greeks and Armenians  - made less favorable and less secure. These minorities therefore sought to rely more on Christian protective powers, which in turn increased the Young Turks' distrust of them.

The Young Turks in the First World War

In November 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered the First World War on the side of the German- led Central Powers against the Entente Powers led by Great Britain, France and Russia . After severe military defeats by the Ottomans, the Young Turkish leadership accused the Christian minorities, especially the Armenians, of supporting the Christian war opponent Russia and of high treason against the Ottoman Empire. The Armenians were accused of espionage for the enemy and of preparing uprisings. This may have been the case with small political groups, but it was completely unfounded as a collective charge against the entire Armenian people. Against this background, the Ottihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti organization formed the Ottoman government in 1915 to initiate the genocide of the Armenians . During deportations to the Syrian desert near Deir ez-Zor , the majority of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire perished from thirst, hunger, disease and murder until 1916. It is scientifically discussed whether the Young Turks pursued a genocide plan from the start or whether their anti-Armenian policy went through various phases of escalation in the course of 1915, which led to genocide . Ultimately, the Young Turkish leadership seems to have been trying to prevent future problems with the Christian minorities.

Disguised and justified as war-related measures, hundreds of thousands have been forcibly evicted from their homes since April 1915 and deported to far-flung provinces - mostly to the north of what is now Syria . From the beginning these deportations were accompanied by murders - first through the early mass killing of arrested ethnic group leaders and intellectuals, later through the systematic shooting of all male Armenians drafted for military service, but then soon disarmed and grouped in labor battalions. The defenseless women, children and old people, on the other hand, were sent on long hikes with great privation, where they succumbed to the hardships, but also repeatedly fell victim to acts of violence by accompanying troops or attacking Kurds . The protective claim that there were only fatalities as a result of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the deportations is therefore not correct. Cemal Pascha , one of those responsible, already admitted in exile that the victims were “partly killed”, “partly perished on the way through hunger and misery”. Rape and robbery of women or children were cruel side effects, but more often saved the lives of the abductees if they were Islamized .

The Grand Vizier and Minister of the Interior of the Ottoman Empire Talaat Pasha officially only organized deportations. Formally there were orders to protect and care for the deportees. Unofficially, however, the minister organized a murder-ready Young Turkish party militia and placed as fanatical provincial officials as possible in important positions (and at the same time deliberately deposed officials who were too “moderate” and “humane”) in order to achieve the extensive annihilation of the Armenians. As commander in chief in the internment area of ​​Syria, Cemal Pasha apparently tried to protect the survivors arriving there as much as possible; but here, too, there were obviously double command structures which again thwarted this official policy.

The Armenian Patriarch in Istanbul informed the German embassy that around 1.2 million Armenians were living in the provinces affected by deportations. The majority of these people were unable to flee and were therefore victims of systematic evictions and murders. On the other hand, the 80,000 Armenian residents of Istanbul were not deported - presumably due to the international diplomacy that was particularly present there - only a number of their leaders were arrested and later murdered.

The death toll remains controversial to this day. Reports by German diplomats did not consider estimates of 800,000 to 1 million deaths to be exaggerated. This coincides with the estimate of the US Ambassador Henry Morgenthau Sr. , who suspected 600,000 to 1 million victims. The former Young Turkish minister Cemal Pascha, despite his humanitarian intervention attempts as a member of the Ittihad leadership, who was primarily responsible for the genocide, expressed the lower estimate of 600,000 Armenian victims in German exile, which he also saw offset against simultaneous Turkish victims of Armenian counter-attacks between 1915 and 1920 wanted to. The later Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk assumed that 800,000 Armenians were killed by an American diplomat in 1920.

In contrast to many representations, the killing was not limited to the undoubtedly worst years of 1915/16. Numerous deportees later died in the Syrian internment camps. In Eastern Anatolia , the alternating war successes of the Ottomans and the Russians led to further massacres: in 1916/17 Armenian auxiliary troops marched west with the victorious Russians, who exercised “retaliation” on Muslim residents for the fate of their Armenian compatriots. In 1917/18, after the collapse of the Russian Empire, the Ottomans moved east again and, for their part, exercised “retribution” on Christians. In the summer of 1918, during the Ottoman occupation of Azerbaijan, there were Muslim massacres of Armenians in the capital Baku . Between 1918 and 1921 the Armenians tried again to establish their own state and expelled or massacred Muslim minorities before Ataturk's troops conquered a large part of Eastern Anatolia in 1920/21 and practiced “retaliation” on the Armenians. This mixture of war and civil war continued in Asia Minor and the Caucasus well into the 1920s.

Fate of the Young Turks after their defeat in 1918

In autumn 1918 the Young Turkish regime was overthrown due to the defeat of the Central Powers and with it the Ottoman Empire. First, the German-friendly wing of the Young Turks - the government under Talât and Enver - had to resign on October 14, 1918 and make way for the Entente-friendly wing of the Young Turks under the new Grand Vizier Ahmed Izzet Pascha . But even this moderate Young Turkish government had to give way on November 11, 1918 and cede power to the liberals, who were overthrown in 1913.

In 1919 - under pressure from the victorious Entente Powers, which occupied Istanbul and a large part of the Ottoman Empire, as well as at the instigation of the internal political opponents of the Young Turkish rule - military courts of the new liberal sultan's government tried the leaders of the Young Turkish movement because of the Armenian genocide committed during the World War Law. Several executions took place, but several of the main culprits - including the former triumvirate - evaded the death sentence by fleeing abroad, particularly to Germany. There the most prominent did not escape the acts of revenge of Armenian organizations:

  • In 1921 the former interior minister and grand vizier Talaat Pascha was murdered in Berlin,
  • In 1921 his predecessor as Grand Vizier Said Halim Pasha was murdered in Rome,
  • In 1922, the former naval minister Cemal Pascha, who had lived in Berlin for a long time but had now moved to Tbilisi, fell victim to an Armenian assassin.

Only Enver Pasha was not the victim of an assassination attempt; He fell in 1922 in Uzbekistan on the side of Islamist - Pan-Turkist partisans ( Basmachi ) in the fight against Soviet troops - ultimately himself a victim of his dream of a large Turkish empire.

With the three Young Turkish leaders Enver, Talât and Cemal, Mustafa Kemal Pascha , who had dominated Turkish Asia Minor since 1920 , later Ataturk, had a tense relationship despite his own membership in the Young Turkish Party. These were considered to be the main culprits for the Armenian genocide ; That is one of the reasons why Ataturk did not want to see her in the ranks of his Turkish national movement . Enver Pascha also had many opponents in the Ottoman army because of his bad military decisions. His star finally faded after Mustafa Kemal defeated the Greek invading forces in 1921/22 and - together with almost the entire Greek minority - expelled them from Asia Minor. Other Young Turkish politicians submitted to the new hero and liberator and continued their careers in the Turkish Republic proclaimed by Ataturk in 1923.

Aftermath of the Young Turks in Ataturk's Republic from 1923

The former Young Turkish Party played a dominant role in organizing Ataturk's national movement since 1920 . The Turkish citizens who had appropriated the property of the displaced and / or murdered Armenians and were interested in keeping it permanently were an important supporter of the same. Even such Young Turkish politicians or officials who were charged with genocide could become members of the Ataturk movement; some later rose to ministerial offices, including Şükrü Kaya (formerly Sükrü or Schukri Bey), who was responsible for deportations during the World War , and who was not only General Secretary of Ataturk's “Republican People's Party”, but also between 1927 and 1938 also served as Interior Minister of the Turkish Republic. By such nationalists the “Entente-subservient” governments of the new Sultan Mehmed VI. (1918–1922) fought, they also fought against the threat of their own prosecution for genocide crimes.

The search for perpetrators in Turkey thus had clear limits, especially since “national unity” seemed to be more important in an existence-threatening civil war. This civil war, waged between 1920 and 1923, which expanded into a war against Greece, which was aggressively advancing into Asia Minor, not only prevented the planned division of Turkey from Asia Minor by founding an authoritarian Turkish Republic (1922/23), but also led to an exchange of the Greek population Minority in Asia Minor with the Turkish minority in the Greek areas.

At the same time, Ataturk concluded an agreement with Soviet Russia (the later Soviet Union ) on the division of the briefly independent state of Armenia since 1918 , which included both formerly Russian and formerly Ottoman territories. The Turkish and Russian conquests led to renewed acts of violence against the Armenians in 1920/21. Previously, however, Armenian extremists had also cruelly avenged themselves on Turkish population groups in Eastern Anatolia for the Young Turkish genocide.

In Ataturk's Turkey, the surviving Armenians were forced to exercise extreme restraint. Only recently has the buried but not lost identity of forced Islamic survivors been discussed.

Adoption of the term

Younger politicians or partisans with radical ideas that they tried to push through within their political group were sometimes referred to as "Young Turks". In English the term “Young Turks” was common. Today in Germany the term Junge Wilde is more used. Probably best known in Germany at the Young Turks of the FDP to the North Rhine-Westphalian politician Walter Scheel , Wolfgang Döring and Willi Weyer have been that in 1956 in Dusseldorf , the Cabinet Arnold III collapsed and with the SPD under Prime Minister Fritz Steinhoff entered into a coalition. In doing so, they provided an important impetus for the positioning of the FDP as a force of the political center, which from the 1960s was capable of forming a coalition with both the CDU / CSU and the SPD.

An American media network chose the name The Young Turks based on the Young Turks movement.


  • Feroz Ahmad: The Young Turks. The Committee of Union and Progress in Turkish Politics 1908–1914 . Oxford University Press, Oxford 1969, ISBN 0-19-821475-8 .
  • Feroz Ahmad: The young Turks. Struggle for the Ottoman Empire, 1914-1918 . Istanbul Bilgi University Press, Istanbul 2019, ISBN 978-605-399-530-2 .
  • M. Talha Çiçek: War and state formation in Syria. Cemal Pasha's governorate during World War I, 1914-17 . Routledge, London 2014, ISBN 978-0-415-72818-8 .
  • Mihran Dabag : Young Turkish Visions and the Armenian Genocide . In: Mihran Dabag, Kristin Platt : Structure of Collective Violence in the 20th Century (Genocide and Modernity; Vol. 1). Verlag Leske and Budrich, Opladen 1998, ISBN 3-8100-1822-8 .
  • François Georgeon (Ed.): "L'ivresse de la liberté." The revolution de 1908 in l'Empire Ottoman. Peeters, Paris 2012, ISBN 978-90-429-2495-6 .
  • Mehmet Hacısalihoğlu: The Young Turks and the Macedonian Question (1890-1918) . Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, Munich 2003, ISBN 978-3-486-56745-8 .
  • M. Şükrü Hanioğlu: The Young Turks in opposition . Oxford University Press, New York 1995, ISBN 0-19-509115-9 .
  • M. Şükrü Hanioğlu: Preparation for a Revolution. The Young Turks, 1902-1908 . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2001, ISBN 0-19-513463-X .
  • Hasan Kayalı: Arabs and Young Turks: Ottomanism, Arabism, and Islamism in the Ottoman Empire, 1908–1918 . University of California Press, Berkeley 1997 ( online ).
  • Jeremy Salt: The last Ottoman wars. The human cost, 1877-1923 . The University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City 2019, ISBN 978-1-60781-704-8 .
  • Thierry Zarcone: La Turquie. De l'Empire ottoman à la République d'Ataturk . Editions Gallimard, Paris 2005, ISBN 2-07-030658-5 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Young Turk  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Klaus Kreiser, Christoph K. Neumann A Little History of Turkey, Stuttgart 2009, p. 351.
  2. Feroz Ahmad İttihat ve Terakki 1908–1914 , p. 42 f.
  3. Feroz Ahmad İttihat ve Terakki 1908–1914 , p. 41, p. 43.
  4. Max Rudolf Kaufmann: Experiences in Turkey 50 Years Ago: Journal for Cultural Exchange, Volume 12, Institute for Foreign Relations, pp. 237–241 (1962).
  5. The House of Friendship in Constantinople. A competition between German architects. With an introduction by Theodor Heuss. Edited by the German Werkbund and the German-Turkish Association. Munich 1918.
  6. Feroz Ahmad İttihat ve Terakki 1908–1914 , Turkish translation by The Young Turks , p. 18.
  7. Feroz Ahmad İttihat ve Terakki 1908–1914 , pp. 18–31.
  8. Feroz Ahmad İttihat ve Terakki 1908–1914 , pp. 24–26.
  9. Şükrü Hanioğlu Preparation for a revolution: the Young Turks, 1902-1908 , pp 472 in the Google Book Search
  10. Feroz Ahmad İttihat ve Terakki 1908–1914 , pp. 27–31.
  11. Feroz Ahmad İttihat ve Terakki 1908–1914 , p. 32.
  12. Feroz Ahmad İttihat ve Terakki 1908–1914 , pp. 33–36.
  13. ^ Klaus Kreiser, Christoph K. Neumann A Little History of Turkey , Stuttgart 2009, p. 358.
  14. Feroz Ahmad İttihat ve Terakki 1908–1914 , p. 34; Document of July 23, 1908 from Bonham to Barclay on the course of the proclamation of the constitution in drama ; it also tells how the assembled Christians and Muslims took an oath for the constitution
  15. Feroz Ahmad İttihat ve Terakki 1908–1914 , The Young Turks , p. 61 f.
  16. ^ Edward J. Erickson: Defeat in detail: The Ottoman Army in the Balkans, 1912–1913 , page 247. ISBN 0-275-97888-5 in the Google book search (English), accessed on January 20, 2011.
  17. Young Turks at (English)