"Spirit Of Doom" Hangs Over Turks -nyt19150505
"SPIRIT OF DOOM" HANGS OVER TURKS
Observer Feels it Despite Gigantic Preparations to Meet Attck of Allies
BULGARIA THE CHIEF FEAR
Dardanelles Expected to Hold out Against Any Force of Less Than 300,000
ALLIES MAKE NEW ADVANCE
British War Office Announced Defeat of All Attacks and Progress Into Interior of Peninsula
MAY 5, 1915
Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES. CONSTANTINOPLE, (via Bucharest,) April 28, (Dispatch to London Daily Chronicle).--An observer in Constantinople cannot be struck by the widespread unpopularity of the war. Against the Russians there is naturally a certain historical animus; toward the British there is at most indifference, but for the French there is a warm and sincere affection. The sympathies of the Greek portions of the population are openly for the Allies, while the Armenians express the same sentiments more cautiously.
But the most curious feature is the attitude of the Jews, who are in many ways the intellectuals. Ever since the revolution, Jewish influence has been enormous in Turkey, and it has been said their Zionist aims had seriously undermined the loyalty of the Arabs. Apparently , however, Enver Pasha has decided Arab support is worth a great deal more than of the Jews, and various steps have been taken to force the Jews into Turkish mould. Jewish disaffection is no slight matter, and it is more significant as Jewish influence had hitherto worked powerfully for Germany.
To these elements, Greek, Armenian, and Jewish, must be added the anti-Enver section of Young Turks lead by the Heir Apparent. With this movements are associated many Turkish business men and minor officials, who have been hard hit by the war. It is no exaggeration to say that barely 5 per cent of the population of the empire is enthusiastic for the war, while over 50 per cent, are frankly or covertly hostile.
But it would be a great miscalculation to reckon on this as an immediate factor. The only domestic event which might lead to Turkey's climbing down is the removal of Enver Pasha. The terror of this decoratively dominating figure causes criticism to sink to limpid whispers in secluded corners. Even neutrals have their life made unbearable by a plague of spies and agents provocateurs, though I personally met with nothing but courtesy from Turkish officials.
German Influence Grown.
Every day tightens the German grip on Turkey. All circumstantial stories of von der Goltzs proposing a separate peace at the war council are idle chatter. Germany holds grimly on to Turkey both for her own sake and as a lever separate Great Britain and Russia. The Government is preparing for every eventuality. Eski Shehir has been chosen as the new capital if Constantinople falls. I have visited this town in the swampy upland valley high among hills in the heart of Asia Minor, 80 miles from the Bosporus on the Anatolian Railway. It occupies an excellent strategic position.
I found work feverishly proceeding to improve the streets and sanitary conditions. Over 200 houses have been commandeered for official use, and thither then families of high official were sent in February and still remain there, owing to the dread of a Bulgarian attack on Constantinople.
The Turkish Ministry of War places the total figure of men under the colors at 322, 000, but probably this is an overstatement. I should estimate the actual number at 800,000, including 200,000 Christians, who are being used for building trenches, railways, roads, and bridges. The rest are divided into five.
The first, commanded by Field Marshal Von Der Goltz, about 100,000 strong is encamped at the Adrianople-Tchataldja lines and Constantinople. The second with 150,000, under Djemal Pasha, threatens Egypt, while the third. 50,000 strong, operates from Baghdad. The fourth about 18,000 is the Caucasus army. The fifth, under General Von Sanders, composed of picked draft of about 70,000 at Dardanelle, with 15,000 at Smyrna. The headquarters are at Gallipolis. In addition there is a detached force of 20,000 at the disposal of Admiral Suchon for the defense of the Bosporus.
New batches of reservists are arriving daily at the depots, but arms and uniforms are insufficient or inefficient for future formations. It is noticeable many relief infantrymen wear a bandolier of soft-nosed bullets quite openly. The question of ammunition despite official assurances is causing anxiety. The order was issued last week commanding the coast artillery to enjoin strict economy of fire, but as large quantities are still available there is no immediate.
The Dardanelles have been further strengthened. Since March obstacles have been placed in the way of submarine navigation and the whole British Navy could not force the strait in its present condition by a simple naval action.
It is the current opinion here that landing less than 300,000 men offers little chance of success and the Turks are confident the Allies have no such force available. Their nervousness is due solely for fear of Bulgarian co-operation with Allies. Fort Hamidieh only is manned mostly by Germans; the others are garrisoned by Turkish officers and men with a sprinkling of Germans.
The campaign in the Caucasus is almost at a standstill owing to typhus. On the average, 150 men succumb daily and vigorous measures have been taken to counteract the epidemic, which is raging under indescribably awful conditions. Every available doctor is being died. The commander is contemplating in consequence white drawing into the fortified region of Erzrum there to await the advance of the Russians through the infected region.
Meanwhile the Egyptian expedition is more and more absorbing the energitic and hopes of the Turks. No doubt the next attempt in about two months time will be of a much more formidable character than the last. A light gauged railway is being constructed branching off the Hedjas line, northeast of Akaba, and will be finished six weeks from now. Howitaers have been sent with German gunners for transport over this line.
I made a careful inquiry into the relations of Turks and Germans in the army. There has been some friction between German and Turkish officers due to Teutonic tactlessness, but the rank and file does not resent anything. Under the stern compulsion of his new task-masters the Turk is acquiring a magnificent machine-like efficiency. It would be foolish belittle the admirable work done by the Germans in Turkey on underestimate the resultant vitality in resources and strength of the Ottoman Empire.
Yet it is true that over this land a stranger feels hovering a spirit of doom.
A hard copy of this article or hundreds of others from the time of the Armenian Genocide can be found in The Armenian Genocide: News Accounts From The American Press: 1915-1922