Karl Radek


The Assassination
of Djemal Pasha

(12 August 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 68, 12 August 1922, pp. 507–508.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2020). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Talaat Pasha, the leader of the Young Turk Revolution and head of the Young Turk Government fell at the hands of an Armenian nationalist. The next to fall was Djemal Pasha, Governor General of Bagdad, one of the leading spirits in the Young Turk Party, probably also a victim of the Dashniakists. The old generation is slowly disappearing, that generation which attempted to resist European, imperialism and to maintain the independence of Turkey, without divesting itself of any of the old ruling class privileges, and with the selfsame methods that the ruling class had used. And now, the leader of the Young Turks, Enver Pasha enters upon a crazy adventure, betraying not only the Soviet Government, the only honest friend of the uprising Mussulmen, but also the Turkish people, and all the oppressed Mussulman nationalities.

What was this Young Turk revolution of 1909? It was not a movement of the masses, although it drew great masses into its ranks. The Young Turk revolution was merely an attempt to rouse the militant, energetic elements of the Turkish land-owning class against the dismemberment of Turkey, which English imperialism and Russian Czarism had decided at Reval.

The regime of Abdul Hamid not only tyrannized the Turkish masses, but it drew upon itself the enmity of the very classes upon which his power was based. When the old enemies of Turkey, English militarism and Russian Czarism, united to dismember Turkey, the most energetic elements among the army officers united with the bureaucrats and the priests, and succeeded in overthrowing Abdul Hamid. Their well-wishers among the modern publicists applauded the act, but declared that it was insufficient, and that the peasant masses must be drawn into the revolution for that was the only way to secure their victory. Useless advice, for not only has it never happened in history that a ruling class was willing to relinquish some of its privileges for the salvation of the fatherland, without some pressure from the masses, but the political position of this young revolutionary Turkey made such a move impossible. The war of 1911, the invasion of Turkey by the Balkan states, all this did not yet menace the life interests of the Turkish people, from an historical standpoint, right was with Bulgaria in that war, for it liquidated the expansion policy of the Turkish land-owner, and the road to national unity was smoothened to the Bulgarians and Serbians. In that war, the Young Turks were fighting tor the interests of the landowners, and against those of the Turkish peasants. The Turkish peasant was called upon to risk his life, so that a handful of Pashas might live comfortably at the expense of the Bulgarians and the Serbians. The preparations for the defense of national independence against the encroachments of European militarism, the large expenes for the army, which reached into the hundreds of millions, the ever rising taxes, – all this hindered the development of the Turkish peasants’ struggle for internal reforms. The Young Turk Party drew its power, not from the newly rising class, but from the old, corrupt, feudal and bureaucratic class, and could not even rid the country of the old corruption which sucked the last bit of vitality out of the Turkish people.

When the World War broke out, and Turkey was forced to enter on the side of Germany, it was clearly realized that this war would decide the life or death of old Turkey. The Turkish peasants drew from this knowledge the force which enabled them to suffer pains as no other country in the war suffered. The ruling class of Turkey, the Young Turk Party, set all its forces to the defense of the nation’s independence; they went so far as to decide the extermination of the whole Armenian people. There is no doubt that the robber interests of the local bureaucracy played a great role in this decision, but neither is there any doubt that the leaders of the Young Turks, Talaat Pasha and Enver Pasha were driven to this act by reason of governmental necessity. The imperialistic European powers were using the Armenians to break up the Turkish front. The Turkish leaders were faced with the question: Life or Death. No less than the Turks, the English lords and the Czaristic Russian diplomats are responsible for the Armenian blood that was shed. And when the Dashniakists, the party of Armenian nationalism, make the Young Turk leaders pay with their heads for the sufferings of the Armenians people, they are betraying this people. For it is not the Allies who can save the rest of that martyred people; safety lies only in a peace treaty with Turkey which recognizes the Armenian independence, not only in word but in fact.

After the defeat of Turkey, the masses turned away from the Young Turks. They condemned the Young Turk Party as responsible for the war, although in truth, war was forced upon Turkey. They condemned the party for the corruption of the officials, who hid their selfish aims behind the flags, “Save the Fatherland”. Mustapha Kemal Pasha who organized the Turkish resistance against the Entente had to make another appeal to the masses. The best elements among the Young Turks have never given up their work Some of them attempted to establish connections with the Soviets. And in justice to Talaat Pasha we must declare that he understood the significance of the Soviet Power at a time when the greatest dangers menaced it. In September 1919, during the Denikin advance, Talaat Pasha began negotiations with the foreign representatives of Soviet Russia, and propagated the idea of a Russo-Turkish understanding. Enver Pasha attempted to come to Russia, in spite of all the danger involved. His pride, his rivalry with Kemal, caused him to turn traitor. He did not understand that to attempt a revolution in Turkey at the time of the war with Greece would not result in a more popular government, but would bring about the victory of the Entente. How lightly he took the revolutionary cause, was proved later by his Bashmakan uprising. Enver Pasha declared thai the World Revolution had begun, and that the subjugated Mussulmen must ally themselves with the European proletariat and its vanguard, the Soviet Republic. But when the cause of the Revolution demanded sacrifices from the Musselmen of Middle Asia, which sacrifices roused dissatisfaction among the Musselman population, sorely tried by the intervention and the blockade; when Bashmakian bands took advantage of that discontent and raised their arms against the Soviets, Enver Pasha joined these bands; and he betrayed not only Soviet Russia, but also the cause of Musselman liberation. Djemal Pasha, a man of keen and cool intelligence, condemned the acts of Enver. The Angora Government condemned them also. But words alone are insufficient. The Angora Government must realize that the liberation of the Turkish people is possible only through alliance with the revolutionary proletariat. This does not exclude the possibility of making peace with the Western powers, if the terms of peace be found favorable; but Turkey must realize that these are only passing successes, that the final liberation of the turks is possible only through alliance with Russia. Turkey must conclude peace with the non-Turkish nationalities living on its territory, in order to remove any field of activity for the imperialistic intrigues. Turkey must make all efforts to raise the status of its working masses. We greet with pleasure the decree of the Angora Government which allows the calling of a Turkish Communist Congress. The Turkish Communist Party is not a proletarian party. It is a party which attempts to unite the peasants fighting for their interests, and those intellectuals who have broken with the past. At the present moment the peasantry and the intelligentsia of Turkey have no interest in a revolution. Their present task is to support the movement for national liberation, and to influence that movement so that it will defend the interests of the people. The war will stop in Turkey. But the ravage of war can be healed only when the interests of the peasantry become the ruling interests of the land. The old rats in the palaces of Constantinople will never be able to understand this; but the better elements among the Turkish officers and the intellectuals are beginning to understand. The old Turkey is dead. Turkey must either be a Turkey of the people, or else cease to exist. It seems to us that Djemal Pasha, son of an old noble family, had understood this as well as Talaat Pasha, son of a railway worker. And this must also be understood by all Turks, who have shared the sufferings of the heroic Turkish troops on the Grecian front.

Last updated on 5 May 2020