10/4/1919 Glimmers of justice for the Armenians as the butcher of Yozgat goes to the gallows

During the war the Turkish authorities attempted to exterminate the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire, either by violent murder or by sending them on death marches to inhospitable desert regions where they could be left to die of hunger and thirst. Now Turkey has been defeated and its capital is under Allied occupation. It will be some time before the Allies agree a peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire, but in the meantime they are pressuring the Turks to pursue those who directed and perpetrated the mass killing of the Armenians. The main architects of the slaughter (the ruling triumvirate of Enver, Djemal and Talaat) have by now fled the country but persons lower down the chain are now beginning to face justice.

In trials, prosecutors are able to demonstrate that the mass murder was not accidental but directed from the centre by Enver, Djemal and Talaat, who are convicted and sentenced to death in absentia. Today justice catches up with the first of their subordinates. Mehmed Kemal was the lieutenant governor of Yozgat, responsible for the murder of thousands of Armenians. Today after his conviction by a Turkish court, he is hanged in Constantinople. Calthorpe, head of the Allied occupation of Constantinople, hopes that this is a sign that the Turkish authorities are now committed to pursuing the murderers of the Armenians. However Kemal’s funeral turns into a nationalist demonstration, with mourners hailing Kemal as a martyr to the British.

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The trial of Mehmed Kemal (I think) (Aravot: Turks continue commemorating Armenian Genocide murderers: Conference in Turkey on ‘The Armenian Question and Governor Kemal Bey’)

The Karalian family in Yozgat, before the war (Houshamadyam: a project to reconstruct Ottoman Armenian town and village life)

3/2/1919 Carving up Turkey

As a defeated power, the Turks are going to have to accept the loss of their empire in the Middle East. The exact shape of arrangements there is still up for grabs, as there is a welter of contradictory agreements in place between Britain, France, the Arabs, and Zionist Jews. More worryingly for the Turks, Allied eyes are also turning towards their Anatolian heartland. Venizelos, the leader of Greece, presents his country’s claims to the Paris Conference today. He argues that his country should be granted much of European Turkey and also much of Anatolia’s Aegean coast. He cites the Greek inhabitants of these regions and the ancient links they have to Hellenic culture. While he is at it, he also claims much of Albania, but he is careful not to antagonise the British by advancing claims on Cyprus. And he avoids appearing too greedy by not making any explicit claims on allied-occupied Constantinople itself.

Venizelos’s claims receive a favourable hearing from the Allies, with Lloyd George particularly enthusiastic. The British prime minister has formed a warm relationship with Venizelos himself, but he also sees a strong Greece as a useful British ally in the Eastern Mediterranean. His military men are less enthusiastic, warning that an attempt by the Greeks to establish themselves in Anatolia may well provoke a determined Turkish reaction. Their warnings go largely unheeded.

The one Allied power that is signally unimpressed by Greek claims is Italy. Italy’s leaders also want to take over Albania and they are eyeing up some of the same Anatolian coastal areas as the Greeks. Graeco-Italian relations are further complicated by the Italian occupation of various Greek-speaking islands in the Aegean.

The Allies are also trying to assert their power within Turkey, not just in the occupied zone but beyond it. Here their goal is to have those responsible for atrocities against the Armenians or Allied troops arrested and tried. However this is all proving a bit difficult. The Allies can arrest people in the occupied zone, but beyond that the Turkish authorities are reluctant to do the Allies’ bidding. Calthorpe, Britain’s high commissioner in Constantinople, reports that the Turkish Sultan fears for his own safety if he cooperates too readily with Allied attempts to prosecute war criminals. Nevertheless, the British continue to insist to the Turks that there must be justice for the terrible crimes that were committed.

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Greek ambitions (Wikipedia: Megali Idea)

30/10/1918 The Armistice of Mudros: Turkey exits the war #1918Live

The Allied victories in Palestine and Syria have brought them to borders of Anatolia. Rather than face invasion of their heartland the Turks have requested an armistice, using Townshend (captured with his army at Kut in 1916) as a go-between. Now after four days of discussions Turkish negotiators agree an armistice with Britain’s Admiral Calthorpe onboard the Agamemnon, anchored in the harbour of the Lemnos port of Mudros.

Under the terms of the armistice, the Turks are to demobilise their army, release all prisoners of war and hand over all warships to the Allies. German and Austro-Hungarian troops are given a month to depart from the Ottoman Empire. Constantinople is to come under Allied occupation and the Allies will be allowed to occupy other parts of the Ottoman Empire to “restore order”. The Turks are also obliged to withdraw their forces from Cilicia, a region that the French are interested in acquiring. Turkish forces are to be withdrawn from the Transcaucasian territories they conquered after the collapse of Russian power there.

The armistice specifically authorises the Allies to occupy the Armenian areas of eastern Anatolia in the event of disorder. The Turks are also required to release any Armenian prisoners, a sign of Allied intentions to hold accountable those responsible for the Turkish regime’s crimes against them.

The armistice will come into effect tomorrow.

map source (Edmaps: Historical Maps of the Caucasus)