Mirrors Of Moscow

by Louise Bryant

Lenin and his subordinates:

Enver Pasha and the Mohammedans


No man I ever met lives so completely in the immediate moment as Enver Pasha; the past he puts behind him, the future he leaves to Allah. His only hero is Napoleon. In Moscow he was the avant coureur of the new understanding between Russia and the Mohammedan world, which means Turkey, Afghanistan, Persia, Bokhara and enough of India to shake the British Empire.

Any man who has brains and gives all his being to the task in hand is bound to possess personality and power and, very likely, charm. Enver Pasha certainly has charm, in spite of his very obvious opportunism, and the cruelty and lack of conscience which a fatalistic belief inspires. Interested in himself above all things, he is a curious contrast to those meri who are trying to blot out individualism and make the state all-important.

As far as there was any social life in Moscow, Enver was, for the nonce, the social lion. Some future historian will probably call him the Don Juan of the revolution, though it is only fair to say that he resisted this alluring doom with an uncomplimentary coldness; he was too absorbed in politics to be interested in social conquest. The real reason for the shower of attention bestowed on him by the ladies of Moscow was the natural reaction of those ladies to a life almost unendurably monotonous and difficult.

There was something very pitiful about the way actresses smiled at Enver across the footlights and unearthed old pictures of him in his elaborate War Minister regalia, when he still wore the "Kaiser" moustache, the gold braid and numerous medals. One evening we went to the dressing room of a prima donna where we were invited for tea during an intermission. Enver sat stiffly in his chair, refusing to talk, but his uncle, Halil Pasha, the former Commander of the Mesopotamian and Caucasian fronts, caused much merriment by fighting a sham duel with wooden swords. His opponent was a singer dressed as a medieval knight.

Besides the actresses several of the old aristocracy were gracious to Enver and even the pretty wife of a Commissar attached to the Foreign Office wrote him what would have been considered an intriguing note, in another time and place. She offered to teach him Russian if he would teach her l"rench and he replied curtly that he was not a "professor."

But Enver was not always over-serious and unbending. In a certain small circle of friends he was quite otherwise. And circumstances, which so largely decide our destinies, gaye me an opportunity to know him as well as one alien to his religion could know him. He was allotted by the Foreign Office quarters in the little palace where I was living. For half a year I saw him everyday, sat next to him at table and occasionally we went to the theatres and the Turkish Embassy. During that time Enver told me a great deal about his life and his ambitions.

He had known my husband in Constantinople, and was away from Moscow at the time of my husband's death. As soon as he returned he called on me, bringing Halil and the Turkish Ambassador, Ali Fued Pasha, with him. All three were extremely kind and sympathetic. From that moment until I left Moscow the Turks did everything possible to make life less tragic for me, and I gained an insight into the Turkish character which I had never imagined. The Turks have a peculiar capacity for friendship. And friendship, once given, has no bournes; a friend is a friend through everythingsorrow, dishonor, poverty, as well as wealth and success. An enemy, on the other hand, is beyond all consideration; he is spared nothing, forgiven nothing.

Enver has the personal vanity of the enthusiast and he imagines that everything he does he does well. The only way to cope with his conceit is to be brutally frank. I discovered early in our acquaintance that frankness by no means offends him. One of Enver's nicest qualities is that he likes to discover his faults as well as his virtues; he is eager to improve himself.

He has a passion for making pencil sketches of people he meets and always goes about with a pencil and a pad of paper in his pocket. In the house where we lived he made sketches of all the guests and all the servants. He made, in all, six very uninteresting portraits of me. One morning when the tea was more tasteless than ever and the bread especially sour and muddy so that I felt I could not manage to eat a single bite, I could not help feeling unpleasantly resentful to see Enver busy with his sketches and full of enthusiasm. And while I sat staring at the terrible meal, he proceeded to make a life-size portrait of me which was incredibly bad. I remember that I wondered where on earth he ever got such a large piece of paper in Russia. When he had finished the sketch he signed his name with a flourish and presented it to me. I took it but said nothing. Enver has the curiosity of a child, and, after a long silence, he asked me if it was possible that I did not really like it. I said that I thought he had no talent for drawing. He became suddenly quite angry and said in a low voice, "But do you realize I have signed my name to it?"

"Your name doesn't mean anything on a picture," I explained. "If it was an order for an execution or an advance it would be another matter. You can't make a good drawing just by signing your name to it."

He frowned and then grew cordial as suddenly as he had grown angry. He rose and bowed to me in a most courtly way. "You can't imagine," he said, "how pleasing arrogance is to me." His three dominating characteristics being bravery, hauteur and recklessness, he imagined that these motives also guided the actions of his friends.

Enver never seemed to be able to loaf in the easy manner of most Orientals. His mental and physical vitality is more like that of an enthusiastic and healthy American. Every morning he rose early to go for a long walk, he read a great deal, took at least three lessons in some foreign language every week and was constantly writing articles for Turkish papers which he printed on a hand press in his own room, and he held almost daily conferences either with the Russians or the Mohammedans. He does not drink or smoke and is devoutly religious.

He likes any discussion which reveals another person's deepest emotions. If he cannot rouse one any other way he does so by some antagonistic remark which often he does not mean at all. For example, he is extremely liberal in his opinions about women and does not think they should be excluded from political life. Nevertheless, he said to a young actress at tea one afternoon in my apartment, when they were talking about woman suffrage, that she would be better off in a harem. Being an ardent feminist, she rose and fairly shouted at him: "Enver Pasha, you may be a great man in the East, but just listen to me I I am one of the first actresses of my profession. In my world it is every bit as great and important for me to remain an actress as it is for you in your world to remain a warrior or a diplomat."

Enver took his scolding in very good humor. Afterwards he told me that he had never liked this actress before. "Independence is a great thing in women. Our women lack it and many of them are just puppets on this account."

He was always extremely interested in American ideas and American opinions. He said he could never understand why Americans were so sentimental about Armenians. "Do they imagine that Armenians never kill Turks? That is indeed irony."

At the table he used to ask Mr. Vanderlip questions about his proposed Kamchatka concessions. V anderlip, like many Californians, is rather violently anti-Japanese. His idea of having a naval base at Kamchatka amused Enver. He said Vanderlip was killing two birds with one stone, that he wished to manceuver the American Government into a war with Japan, prove himself a patriot, and at the same time protect his own interests and grow rich. "So that," said Enver, "if it really came about-the next war would be for Vanderlip and should be known as 'Vanderlip's War.' " When I asked, "Would you be sorry to see America and Japan at war?" he replied, "Not if England was involved. Anything which tends to draw England's attention away from us or which weakens the great powers, naturally gives Turkey a better chance for reconstruction. You understand that I'm not saying I want to see another war; I am simply saying that if those nations interested in destroying Turkey are occupied elsewhere it relieves us of war burdens and gives us a chance to carry out our own destinies."

He tried to get Mr. Vanderlip's reaction on women by the same tactics he employed with the actress. One day he said, "I have three wives and I'm looking for another." This was not true, but Mr. Vanderlip proved entirely gullible. "Good heavens," he said, regarding Enver in shocked surprise, "we Anglo-Saxons consider one wife enough tyranny. . . . "

"Naturally," Enver conceded, suavely, "with one there must be tyranny but with three or four or a hundred. . . . Ah, you must agree that is quite a different matter."

His sudden appearance in Moscow during the blackest days of the blockade as well as the blackest days for the Central Powers proves him an incomparable solider-of-fortune. With two suits of clothes, a pair of boots, a good revolver and a young German mechanician whom he could trust, he started by aeroplane from Berlin to Moscow. The story of how they had to land because of engine trouble near Riga, of how he was captured and spent two months in the Riga jail just at the moment when the whole Allied world was calling loudest for his blood, will remain a story which will have scanty advertisement from those British Secret Service men who like so well to turn journalists and write .their own brave autobiographies.

Enver sat in the Riga jail as plain "Mr. Altman" who could not speak anything but German. He was scrutinized by eyery Secret Service man in the vicinity and pronounced unanimously a Jewish German Communist of no importance. By appearing humble, inoffensive and pleasant, he soon worked his way into the confidence of the warden, was released and escaped to Moscow. He arrived just in time to rush off for the dramatic Baku conference.

The Communists understood perfectly well that Enver Pasha was not at the Oriental Conference as a sudden and sincere convert to Internationalism, and he knew that they knew. Both Zinoviev and Enver were actors taking the leading roles in a significant historical pageant. The results are really all that matter, since the motives will soon be forgotten.

When Enver turned to Moscow he had no other place to turn to and when Zinoviev took him to Baku, Zinoviev knew no other means of effectively threatening the English in order to change their attitude on the blockade. Zinoviev could not complain about Enver's shallow attitude towards Socialism since there was hardly anything Socialistic about Zinoviev's appeal for a "holy war." Enver summed up his feelings about the new alliance thus: "For the future of Turkey and the future of the East a friendship with Russia is worth more to the Turks than any number of military victories. And we have to build that friendship while we have the opportunity."

His way of living without any regrets and as if there were no to-morrows is rather startling at times. I remember when Talaat Pasha, his lifelong friend, was murdered by an Armenian in Berlin, he read the message with no show of emotion and his only comment was: . "His time had come!" But against an excessive temptation on the part of fate to record Enver's death prematurely, in his own words, he "sleeps with one eye open," carries a dagger and a loaded automatic. Once when we talked about the possibility of his being assassinated he said, "I have been near death so many times that these days I live now seem to be a sort of present to me."

Enver is no open sesame to those who do not know him well. He really has the traditional Oriental inscrutability. The first two or three times I talked with him, we stumbled along rather lamely in French. Someone suggested to me that he probably spoke several languages which, for some unknown reason, he would not admit. So one day I said abruptly, "Oh, let's speak English." He looked at me with one of his sudden, rare smiles and answered in my own language, "Very well, if you prefer it."

When I asked him how he learned English he told me he had learned it from an English spy. "He came to me as a valet and professed deep love for Turkey. For several months we studied diligently. One day I thought I would test his love for Turkey so I ordered him to the front. He was killed. Later, we found his papers."

"Were you surprised?" I asked him.

"Why, not at all," said Enver. "He really showed a great deal of pluck. The only thing I had against him was that he taught me a lot of expressions not used at court."

"Like what?"

"Like 'don't mention it,' " said Enver, laughing.

"And the terrible thing about learning such an expression," he said, "is that it is so sharp and so definite and often fits an occasion so aptly that it flashes in one's mind and can't be forgotten. American slang is extremely picturesque and expressive, but it is not dignified enough to be used by diplomats."

Everyone is familiar with Enver's "direct action" method of playing politics. One of the ways he was wont to remove troublesome rivals in the days of the Young Turk Revolution was to go out and shoot them with his own hand. This "impulsiveness" got him into grave trouble with the Soviets in spite of all his sensible utterances to the contrary. When he was "shifted" to Bokhara so that he would not be in the way of either Kemal or the Russians, he got bored and started a war of his own. One night he fled into the hills of Afghanistan and soon began to gather recruits around him. A few nights after that one of the principal officials of the Bokharan Republic also fled to join Enver. This performance was repeated until over half the Bokharan cabinet had fled. Then fighting began and we got vague rumors of battles, but only through the Soviet press.

In August, 1922, we heard that Enver had been killed, that his body had been found on the field of battle. There was even romance surrounding him and his supposed death. Stories were circulated that when the body was picked up and examined, the letters of an American girl were found next his heart. I went to see Jacob Peters, who has charge now of all the Eastern Territory and who was then in Moscow. He laughed heartily and said he would show me the "information." It consisted of three very hazy telegrams which had been three weeks on the way. The men who sent the telegrams and discovered the body had never seen Enver. There was no mention of letters. And Peter's opinion of the whole affair was that there was nothing at all authentic in the story or else it was "a trick of Enver's to sham being dead."

Peters' theory proved true. Within a few days fighting began again and Enver began to win.

He had conceived the notion of uniting all Turkestan and Bokhara and Keiva to the Angora government. It places the Soviets in a strange position. They may have to give in to him, though he will not actually be an "enemy," because neither the Turks nor the Russians can afford to break their treaty. Therefore, his private war in the south embarrasses the Soviets much more than it does Kemal, who needs only to disavow any connection with it, as do all the Turkish officials. If Enver wins he will add a nice slice to Turkish territory; if he loses, Turkey will be in the same position as before.

Enver, while he will always maintain a great prestige in the Mussulman world, will never oust Kemal. Mustapha Kemal Pasha is the great popular hero of a victorious Turkey, which but for him might never have even survived. There were times in the past when Enver was more important than Kemal, but that can never happen again in Kemal's life. Both men rose from the ranks and both are the sons of peasants. And Kemal at this moment is more important than the Sultan. Greater than that no man can be under the banners of Mohammed.

One can hardly over-estimate the importance of the new Mohammedan unity, that new patriotic energy which has taken the place of the former lethargy and which already reaches out far beyond the borderland of the Faithful. The Mussulman world is reviving after a long sleep: And not only Mohammedans are uniting but the entire East and Middle East. Aside from Japan, a significant harmony is rapidly taking place, a harmony which evolves itself into a tremendous power. This power may decide the world's destiny before any other generation.

Enver and Kemal Pasha, being aware of the purport of beginning that great concord by interwoven treaties with Russia, read the stars well. There must come a day also when that great sleeping giant, China, will be part of this alliance. And the seeds of that friendship have also been planted. The Chinese official delegations which came to Moscow were not only well received by the Russians, but they hob-nobbed with the Mohammedans like brothers.