The Unspeakable Turk

: Winning A Cause World War Stories

Although the great issues of the war were decided, and victory was

finally won, by the fighting on the western front, the British

campaigns in Palestine and in Mesopotamia were in no small way

responsible for the final result. The fighting in this theater of the

war was against the Turkish allies of Germany. The Turks were

originally one of the Tartar tribes, dwelling in Asia, east of the

Caspian Sea. Many of these
ribes passed over into Europe, where they

are now known as the Lapps, the Finns, the Bulgarians, and the Magyars

or Hungarians. More of these Tartar tribes migrated to Asia Minor and

adopted the Mohammedan religion. The Turks were one of these. They

served first as hired soldiers, but were finally united by their

leader, Seljuk, into a strong people called the Seljukian Turks. Their

power grew rapidly and soon they captured the city of Jerusalem. They

also invaded Europe and captured Constantinople, in 1453, where they

have ever since been a menace to civilization.

Less than a year after William II became Emperor of Germany, the

imperial yacht, the Hohenzollern, steamed through the Mediterranean

into the narrow Dardanelles and, saluted by forts on both shores,

passed on to Constantinople, the capital of the Moslem Kalif and the

Sultan of Turkey, Abdul Hamid II.

The head of the Catholic church is called the Pope; the head of the

Eastern church, the Patriarch; and the head of the Mohammedan, the

Kalif. Just as Catholics, no matter of what country they are citizens,

recognize the authority of the Pope in matters of religion, so

Mohammedans, with few exceptions, are guided in these matters by the


William II was accompanied by the Empress, his wife, and this was their

first ceremonial visit to any of the crowned heads of Europe. Why did

the German Kaiser select Abdul Hamid for this high honor?

The Germans were received with great joy. The entire city of

Constantinople was decorated with the gorgeous display that only an

eastern city makes. The visit was evidently greatly appreciated by the

Mohammedan Kalif and the Sultan of Turkey; and his people, at his

orders doubtless, made the Germans realize how proud they were at being

thus honored by the Kaiser.

What attraction brought these two strange monarchs together? And why

was the visit repeated nine years later in 1898? Did William II feel

in 1889 that Abdul Hamid was a man after his own heart, more nearly so

than any other ruler in Europe? And was he sure of it in 1898?

Certain it is, that while the greetings were cordial in 1889, they were

much more so in 1898; for on this second visit, the Kaiser kissed the

Kalif on both cheeks and called him brother. Then after having made

arrangements for the German building and the German control of the

Berlin to Bagdad railway, William II went on to Jerusalem. There he

stood in homage before the Holy Sepulcher, and afterward before the

manger in Bethlehem. A few days later in Damascus, a chief Moslem

city, he spoke to the Mohammedan officers then ruling the Holy Land,

and in the course of his speech said, His Majesty, the Sultan Abdul

Hamid, and the three hundred million Mohammedans who reverence him as

Kalif may be sure that at all times the German Kaiser will be their


Abdul Hamid was a Turk, a Mohammedan, and a Sultan. As a Turk, he

believed all other people were no better than animals; and that it was

no more of a sin to kill a man, woman, or child of another race than it

was to kill a dog or a rat. As a Mohammedan, he believed that killing

a Christian gained merit in the eyes of Allah (which is the Mohammedan

word for God). And as a Sultan, he remembered how he had lost Serbia,

Bosnia, Bulgaria, and Roumania. These Balkan states together with

Bosnia were formerly a part of Turkey in Europe. Most of their

inhabitants were Christians and were more progressive than the Turks.

As they advanced in education and wealth, they revolted and gained

their independence in 1878. As Turkey lost these, the Sultan feared he

might lose Armenia, his last remaining Christian province. This was

Turkey's Armenian problem. The Sultan attempted to solve it in true

Turkish manner,--adopted later by the Huns in Belgium, but never

carried out so relentlessly as in Armenia.

Between the two visits of Kaiser William II, Abdul Hamid had been able

to put into effect some of the ideas in which he believed. First he

made a plan to kill about two million of his subjects living in

Armenia. Here it was that Noah is said to have landed with the ark on

Mt. Ararat after the flood had partially subsided, and here was a

people called Armenians and a country called Armenia long before the

time of Christ. But the Turk said in the days of Abdul Hamid, There

is no such country as Armenia, and the Armenians were ordered never to

use the word or to speak of their country for it had disappeared, and

they now lived in a Turkish province. Abdul Hamid determined the

people should also disappear.

It seems almost impossible for Americans in the twentieth century to

believe that such a story can be true. They can easily believe it of a

thousand years ago, but not of twenty-five years ago. Yet it is beyond

doubt. Henry Morgenthau, American Ambassador to Turkey during the

first two years of the World War, has written the story of the attempts

by the Turkish government to massacre the Armenian Christians in 1895

and in 1915.

He writes: Abdul Hamid apparently thought there was only one way of

ridding Turkey of the Armenian problem--and that was to rid her of the

Armenians. The physical destruction of two million men, women, and

children by massacres, organized and directed by the state, seemed to

be the one sure way of forestalling the further disruption of the

Turkish Empire. . . . Yet Abdul Hamid was not able to accomplish his

full purpose. Had he had his will, he would have massacred the whole

nation in one hideous orgy.

In 1895-96 nearly two hundred thousand Armenians were put to death on

one pretext or another, usually in the most horrible ways, and in many

cases after the most terrible torture. The entire race would have been

exterminated if Christian Europe and America had not risen in protest.

But no word of protest came from Abdul Hamid's good friend, William II.

Instead, the Kaiser visited, within two years after these terrible

massacres, the monarch who was now called throughout Europe, Abdul the

Damned, and kissing him on both cheeks, called him brother!

Why did the Kaiser love the Sultan and Kalif so greatly? Perhaps

because they were kindred spirits. It certainly could not be because

of Abdul Hamid's knowledge and intellectual power, for he was very

ignorant, and not at all the type of mind that would impress a German.

He was very superstitious and suspicious, always fearing attempts upon

his life. A lot of books on chemistry, imported by an American

missionary, were seized by the Turkish customs officers because they

claimed they were intended to injure the Sultan. When the missionary

asked for an explanation, the officer opened one of the books and

pointed to the expression H[subscript 2]O, which occurred very

frequently in it. Now H[subscript 2]O is the chemical symbol for water

and means that two atoms of hydrogen unite with one atom of oxygen to

form one molecule of water. However, Abdul Hamid, or his officers,

believed that H stood for Hamid, 2 for II, and O for nothing, and that

H[subscript 2]O was a secret way of saying to the Christians in Turkey,

Abdul Hamid II is nothing.

It is also said that Constantinople was lighted only by gas long after

electric lights were used in other large cities, because the red

Sultan, as he was also often called on account of his bloody deeds,

would allow neither dynamite nor dynamos to be brought into the city

where he lived. He knew of the destructive power of dynamite and could

never be made to believe that a dynamo was not equally to be feared!

The German Kaiser was not charmed by the brilliancy and the

intelligence of the Great Assassin. He may have admired his deeds

but he probably loved him for what he thought he could get out of him

and his country. It seems clear now that even in 1889, at the

beginning of his reign, William II began to plan a Greater Germany and

possibly World Domination. Certainly he soon dreamed of a German

Middle Europe reaching from the North Sea to the Persian Gulf and

crossed from Berlin to Bagdad by a German controlled railroad. It

seems too that he realized he must have Turkey as an ally and that to

accomplish his ends, he might possibly be obliged to bring about a Holy

War with all the Mohammedan world fighting the Christian. The

Mohammedans considered the Kaiser one of themselves and referred to him

as His Islamic Majesty. In the World War he attempted to cause this

Holy War but failed because the Mohammedans in Arabia did not recognize

the Sultan of Turkey as Kalif. The two holy cities of the Mohammedans

in Arabia are Mecca where the prophet, Mohammed, was born and Medina

where he died. Whoever rules over these cities is the Mohammedan

Kalif. When the Kaiser attempted to bring on a Holy War, the Arabians

joined the Allies, founded the independent kingdom of Hedjaz, and

recognized its king as the Kalif.

The red Sultan must have known that the Kaiser would not object to

his massacres of the Armenians and the strengthening of Turkish rule,

for these only aided the purposes of Germany. But Abdul Hamid was

forced to abdicate by a revolution of his own people before the

Armenians were exterminated and before the Kaiser's dream was realized.

By 1915, however, the Great Assassin's power was in the hands of

Turks who held the same beliefs and sought to carry out the same plans

as he had in 1895. And now England, France, Russia, and Italy, all

engaged in war, were unable to interfere, and the Turks felt very sure

the United States would not trouble them.

Now Enver Pasha and Taalat Pasha, the real rulers of Turkey, determined

that there should be no blunder or mistake; they would exterminate the

nearly two million Christian Armenians, who were Turkish subjects, and

thus remove a serious problem in the management of Turkey and all

danger of the Armenians rendering assistance to the Allies.

One of the chief indictments of the German government, under William

II, is that it uttered no protest while the Armenian men in the vigor

of life were taken from the villages by the hundred and shot, or killed

in more brutal ways, and the old men, women, and children obliged to

march off to a distant desert part of Asia Minor, or to the malarial

swamps of the Euphrates. Of course, they nearly all died on the way.

About one million Armenians were exterminated in this way in 1915. The

German government could have stopped it by a word. But how could they

say the word? They had hardly finished their Belgian atrocities and

were still deporting men and girls from Belgium and France. No protest

came from the Kaiser, his ministers; or his people.

The Armenians dress very largely in red. A common costume of women and

girls is striking even at a distance because of the amount of red in

it. The same is true to a less degree of the men. The hordes of old

men, old women, the sick, and the frail, with children of all ages

marching mile after mile, often in cold and rain with no food except

what they had been able to seize as they were driven on a moment's

notice from their homes and villages, leaving their strong men brutally

slaughtered, have been called red caravans of death, and in truth

they were caravans of victims seeking, desiring, praying for death, and

marching on till death relieved them.

In 1915, the Turkish armies in Palestine, under German leadership,

attempted to gain possession of the Suez Canal, in order to prevent

supplies passing through on Allied ships. Although the Turks made

several attempts to block the canal, they were all unsuccessful. After

these numerous attacks on the canal, England realized that the only

safe way to protect her Egyptian possessions was to gain Palestine. In

1916 a plan was made for an offensive into the Holy Land. The plan was

first tried by General Maxwell and then by General Murray, but both

attempts were unsuccessful.

In June, 1917, the English transferred General Allenby, then fighting

on the western front, to the command of the Egyptian expeditionary

forces. He immediately began to lay plans for an offensive into

Palestine, with the city of Jerusalem as his main objective. The Turks

were strongly fortified in southern Palestine, on a line extending from

the coast city of Gaza to the inland city of Beersheba. Allenby's plan

was to attack the left flank of the enemies' line, capturing Beersheba,

where he counted on renewing his water supply. To aid the successful

advancement of his main offense, he sent a small body of troops toward

the city of Gaza, situated on the enemies' right flank. This was done

to draw the Turkish reserves toward Gaza, where they would expect the

main offense to take place. The British warships in the Mediterranean

helped in this movement, by bombarding the town as the land forces

approached it. The plan was put into effect on October 30. On the

next day the city of Beersheba was taken by surprise, and the Turkish

left flank was routed. After renewing his supply of water at

Beersheba, General Allenby advanced on Gaza, which was captured with

little resistance. Although greatly hampered by poor water supply and

tremendous transportation difficulties, he drove the Turks north and by

a successful engagement at Junction Station cut their forces in two.

By this time the Turks in Jerusalem were becoming greatly disturbed by

Allenby's rapid advance. Enver Pasha, the famous Turkish commander,

rushed to the city to rally his generals, but after studying the

situation, he left the city the next day. Soon after Enver's hurried

departure, General Falkenhayn arrived. Military supplies were moved

north of the city and the Germans prepared to leave. The remaining

Turks were under the command of Ali Fuad Pasha, who by proclamations

and entreaties, tried to rally the people of the city.

Meanwhile General Allenby had moved north and captured the city of

Jaffa, situated on the Mediterranean, a little northwest of Jerusalem.

From Jaffa, by hard fighting he advanced through the Judean hills,

towards the Holy City. Jerusalem was occupied by English troops on

December 9, 1917, and General Allenby made his official entrance on

December 11. Soon after the occupation of the city by the English, a

proclamation was read, amidst great cheering, announcing freedom of


[Illustration: The official entry of General Allenby into Jerusalem,

December 11, 1917. With the exception of a few years, 1099-1187, and

1229-1244, the city, until General Allenby's entry, had been under

Mohammedan control from the seventh century. The clock tower is a

modernized minaret, on the balcony of which the muezzin summons to

prayer the faithful Mohammedans.]

Part of the proclamation is as follows. Since your city is regarded

with affection by the adherents of three of the great religions of

mankind, and its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and

pilgrimages of multitudes of devout people of these three religions for

many centuries, therefore, do I make it known to you that every sacred

building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment,

pious bequest, or customary place of prayer of whatsoever form of the

three religions will be maintained and protected according to the

existing customs and beliefs of those to whose faith they are sacred.

The capture of Jerusalem was hailed by the entire civilized world as

one of the greatest accomplishments of the war. Although it was taken

for strategical reasons, the fact that the Holy City was once more in

the hands of Christians meant more to the world than the military

advantage gained by its capture. Jerusalem is generally thought of

only as a peaceful shrine of many nations; it is in reality a fortress

more often contested, perhaps, than any other city in the world. Until

captured by General Allenby, Jerusalem had been, except for two brief

intervals, under Mohammedan control for almost thirteen centuries. Now

that it is once more in Christian hands, it appears probable that it

will remain so forever.

After capturing the city, the English began to strengthen its

fortifications against counter-attacks. They also fortified the coast

city of Jaffa which they had captured just previous to the advance on

Jerusalem. The Turks made several attempts to recapture their lost

ground, but all were unsuccessful. The English were unable to resume

their offensive the following spring, because of the crisis which

compelled them to send a large part of their forces to Europe to check

the new German drive on the western front. It was not until September

18, 1918, that General Allenby started his next offensive. The object

of this was the capture of Damascus, the capital of Syria. He started

his advance on a line extending from Haifa on the coast, across

Palestine to the Arabian Desert. Although strongly opposed by a

Turkish army numbering at least 100,000 men, he advanced by remarkable

forced marching and hard fighting on Damascus, which he occupied

October 1, 1918. During the offensive on Damascus, he captured over

70,000 prisoners and 350 guns. Included in these figures were several

Turkish commanders and German and Austrian troops numbering more than

200 officers and 3000 privates.

Damascus is the most beautiful city in Asiatic Turkey and is the oldest

city in the world. There is a Turkish prophecy, many centuries old,

made in fact when the Turks were at the height of their power, that

some day they would be conquered and driven back to the place from

which they came. The prophet said, When the end is at hand, Damascus

will be taken by the infidels. An Imam wearing a green turban and a

green robe will ascend to the top of a green minaret with his last

salavat. He will call all the faithful about him and they will all

then start on a journey to the place from whence they came.

Because of this prophecy, there is a Turkish saying known to all Turks

educated or ignorant, dweller in city or in obscure village, which

reads, Evelli Sham, Akhuri Sham. Now Sham is the Turk's name for

Damascus, Evelli means first, and Akhuri means last: and the

meaning of the saying in English would be something like this,

Damascus is everything to the Turk, and when it falls all is lost.

Probably the prophet had no idea that Damascus would or could be taken

from the south by forces led across the desert as General Allenby led

the English. If Damascus should be captured from the north, all of the

Turkish dominion would have to be conquered before the foe reached

there. So the Turks have repeated with a feeling of security, Evelli

Sham, Akhuri Sham.

The capture of Damascus opened the way to Aleppo, situated on the

Constantinople-Bagdad railroad about 180 miles to the north. The

Turkish troops, routed by the rapid advance of the British on Damascus,

gave very little resistance to Allenby in his drive on Aleppo. The

English entered Aleppo on Saturday morning, October 26, and stopped

Turkish traffic on the Constantinople-Bagdad railway at this point. On

October 29, General Marshall's forces defeated the Turks at Kaleh

Sherghat, cutting off their communications with Mosul. The combined

victories of Allenby in Palestine and Marshall in Mesopotamia left the

remaining Turkish forces helpless. Turkey signed an armistice October

30, 1918, which was virtually the same as an unconditional surrender,

and meant the end of the unspeakable Turk in Europe.