Enver Says Turks Had To Fight -nyt19150420b

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Young War Minister and Generalissimo Lays Blame on Russia and Britain


Not the Ethnological Carcass It Has Been Called---Army of 2,000,000 Well Prepared


Thinks Dardanelle Safe --Natives Friendly to Americans, Despite Shipment of Arms to Allies

APRIL 20, 1915

CONSTANTINOPLE, April 18, (via London, April 20.)-- "I am glad you asked that question. This is not a war of the Turkish Government, but a war of the Turkish people," said Enver Pasha, the most remarkable men in Turkey, who at the age of 33 years is War minister and Generalissimo of the Ottoman army , to the Associated Press correspondent in the first interview ever given to the American press.

"Undoubtedly the world finds difficulty in understanding that the Turkey of today is no longer the Turkey of the past, but that, nevertheless, is a fact which should de apparent to all impartial observers," he continues.

The world's youngest Commander in Chief typifies the Young Turks in intellectual attainments and ideals. The conversation with him was carried on in German, and, besides having a thorough command of the German language, he speaks excellent French. Enver Pasha would be boyish in appearance, but for a rather heavy brown mustache. Alert, frank eyes, and pleasing manners make him a delightful conversationalist. He has, moreover, a well-deserved reputation for being the handsomest man in the Turkish Army.

When the correspondent entered, Enver Pasha shook hands cordially and said:

"I am sorry to have kept you waiting but I am very busy all day. You have come to interview me ? Well, I will make an exception in your favor. I am averse to talking to men of the press. What do you want?"

"The exact reason for Turkey participating in the war," was the reply.

Forced Into the War.

"You refer, no doubt," said Enver Pasha," to the assertions in the newspapers of Great Britain, France, and Russia that Turkey entered the war to help Germany. That is very true at this moment, not when we mobilized. Today Austria, Hungary and Germany help us; we help them. But we mobilized because there was no way out.

Long before we took this step Russia had grown ugly on the Black sea and in the Caucasus, invading our territory there, while England had already operated against Mesopotamia, and had concentrated a fleet before the Dardanelle. We were unwilling to start the ball rolling, and even after Russian attacked our fleet in the Black Sea we still waited one week before war was declared.

"We new that Turkey would again be led to the slaughter block; being unwilling that this should happen, we took the only course open. We Turks feel that we have a right to exist, especially when the best of us are straining every effort and are catching up with other countries in intellectual and material development. I believe that there is much good in the Turkish people, contrary to what our traducers say. At any rate, we are about to prove it.

"There was a time when Turkey was merely a Government clique, which was not trusted by the people, but gradually the people are beginning to feel that they themselves are Turkey. I think that this is the healthiest sign here today, and there is also the promise that the progress of all civil life will be rapid."

At this moment the War Minister's Chief of Staff entered with papers. When these were disposed of the interview was continued.

"We are taking care of our troops today," said Enver Pasha; "hence their loyalty. Formerly a rifle was given to a man and he had to shift for himself as best he could. Today we see that his land is cultivated in his absence. Each village has this system. while a man is at the front his neighbors till his soil.

"This measure has been so effective that the area of cultivated land is 20 per cent greater than ordinary," he went on. When a man is in the field we see that he is cared for, simply perhaps, but sufficiently. The Turkish soldier, moreover, now known how to shoot well. This is instilling the confidence he formerly lacked."

Get Rid of Army's Dead Wood.

To the question as to what was responsible for the better quality of troops, which has been so very apparent, Enver Pasha replied:

"When I reached the head of the army I discharged on my second day in????? about 3,000 old officers who had formerly been merely a burden on the Ottoman military establishment. Next I made every effort to have a common soldiers feel that he was part of the service, instead of the subject of it. It can hardly be believed the difference this made. The men now have an esprit de corps."

"How did you manage to mobilize your army of almost two millions with limited resources?" he was asked.

That was a problem, of course, but we overcame it. we had a lot of old Snider rifles ready for the junk market. These I caused to be distributed among the gendarmerie, taking from them their modern rifles. There was formerly a large gendarmerie force in Turkey," explained Enver Pasha, smiling. "Now it is not so great -- we don't need it. So we armed many men with new rifles. Today every man at the front is well armed. It was a case of helping yourself. We did it."

Replying to questions as to the present status of the campaign, the Generalissimo said:

"Conditions in the Caucasus are more satisfactory. Regarding the situation in the Dardanelles, I will say we are fully confident that it has been demonstrated that fighting down the forts there will be a huge task for the Allies. But even should that happen we would still be masters of the situation there by means of howitzers, mines, and a fleet which is not so incoming up the strait would be obliged to move in single file and the effectiveness of our protective measure should be apparent."

In view of the fact that some excitement has been observed in Turkey because of the export of arms and ammunition from the United States to the Powers of the Triple Entente, particularly Russia, Enver Pasha was asked for his views on this subject, and replied;

Friendly to Americans in Turkey.

"The matter has occupied us for some time--even the populace, but you may have notice that there has been no anti-American outbreak on that account. Since the elimination of the Capitulations, this was the first situation in which the Turkish people might express resentment in a drastic way, but our of a few manufacturers is not the fault of those Americans living here, and, therefore, our old good relations continue.

"We are not savages, who hold the innocent responsible for something not their fault. There are still living in this city under the nominal protection of your embassy, plenty of English and French. They have not been molested despite the fact that our own people have not been treated kindly in France and England. Young Turkey is ready to demonstrate that no particular group holds monopoly on gentlemanliness and so we shall continue taking the best of care of everybody, no matter what the provocation."

"When the Capitulations were abolished everybody thought that foreigners in Turkey were unsafe, but time has shown that foreigners were never safer as you must have observed. But the export of arms and ammunition from the United States to the Entente Powers can have but one result-useless killing. Turkey, like Germany and Austria-Hungary is determined to win this war and there is every indication that we will."

Speaking of Turkey after the war Enver Pasha said:

"Turkey will emerge from this war truly united and stronger than ever. The war is popular with the people now because it has given the Government an opportunity that it takes an interest in the people and is for the people.

"Not wishing to show favors, we called everybody able to serve to arms, with the result that we got more than we needed. Many of the surplus men are now building road everywhere even railroads. During the last month we completed fifteen kilometers in Anatolia, and during the last three months forty kilometers , so constructed, were given over to traffic. In Syria also we have built ????toward the Sues Canal.

Army of the New Era, too.

"In addition, the war has brought together under a superior class of officers 2,000,000 men, and the schooling given them is bound to result in good. We are fostering the spirit hero that one must work for others also and that the old era of devil take hindmost is over."

The War Minister, commenting on the work of The Associated Press correspondent in Turkey, said that it had been described as they were, and added that he had given orders that the correspondent be permitted to go anywhere.

"We have no secrets," he said. "Describe everything you see. Though our experience with some newspapers has been sad, we are willing to trust those who do not require their correspondents to lie to them. What I have said will possibly have no influence; that is the reason why so far I have refused to be interviewed."

The correspondent ventured the opinion that everything has some influence replying to which Enver Pasha said:

"God grant it will. We Turks have long been dented a fair hearing before the public. We are so used to slander that we are now willing to convince the world with arms that we are not the ethnological carcass some claim."

The interview with the War Minister took place in the War Department Building, which presented an extremely busy scene. Before the turn of the correspondent came many others saw the Minister, among them Turkish leaders from all parts of the empire, Arabs, Persians, and Indians most of them in European dress, waited for hours to see the young man who guides the military and, to some extent, the political fortunes of Turkey.

The contrasts about the large and well-furnished chamber were many. None was so striking, however, as when the muezzin on the ministry minaret called the faithful to prayer, and was answered the next minute by a concert rendered by a splendid military band, which played German marches and opera selections, and ended with a weird Turkish air.

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