The relationship between 1915 and 1914

I donand’t know if this is something unique to our culture, but we generally donand’t like to discuss our past in depth at the risk of revealing both the good and bad deeds of our ancestors.
In this respect, World War I is a good example, as it represents a major turning point in our history.
Many countries, including France, Germany and Belgium — which have suffered greatly from the tragedies associated with this war — have been discussing this period in all respects, but Turkey opts to keep silent about it. Last year, 2014, we didnand’t see any remarkable events in Turkey. The Armenian genocide — a dark page in our past — emerged as a major agenda item. We discussed the genocide issue not because we wanted to, but because we were forced to do so. The government chose to commemorate the Gallipoli victory on April 24 in an effort to cast a cloud over this tragic day for Armenians. This is really painful and not promising for Armenians around the world and in Turkey.
Actually, this applies to Turks as well. Indeed, this implies that we are unable to discuss the sorrowful and deeply shadowy pages of our history. Thus, we cannot question the place of Talat and Enver Paia in our history and their impact on our current democratic culture in terms of military coups.
We donand’t know why Turkey decided to enter World War I, who influenced that decision and what the consequences of that decision were. If we hadnand’t been an instrument of the German Empireand’s war and instead dodged that war, the history of Turkey and the Middle East would have been different. If we hadnand’t gone to war, our andquotArmenian issueandquot might have continued to exist like our current andquotKurdish issue,andquot but there would not have been any genocide. If we hadnand’t become part of the war, the Ottoman Empire might still have collapsed, but the political geography of the Middle East would have been drawn differently and the very foundations of the many disasters we today experience would not have been laid down so deeply.
The darkest pages of our recent past can certainly be attributed to Talat and Enver Paia. As we fail to discuss those pages, there are still fans of those paias we have their statues in our cities and we give their names to our streets and squares. They continue to poison our political atmosphere. The level with which these paias were instruments of the German Empire is clear proof of why we were involved in World War I in the first place.
The German General Staff that started the war was planning to conquer Paris in a few weeks. But it soon became clear that this plan was not realistic and the war was proving to be more arduous than they originally thought. By fall, the German troops were hardly making any progress. To the east, Austrian troops had been defeated by the Russians. Berlin sought to expand the frontline and started to pressure the Ottoman Empire to go war.
The Ottoman Empire had good relations with Germany, but its army had been exhausted in the Balkan Wars and was hardly ready for another aenture. A closer look at the Ottoman Empireand’s 1914 budget is enough to see that the defense expenditures had decreased considerably and therefore the empire was not making any preparations for the war. Although Enver Paia and his supporters were exerting pressure on the Ottoman state, trying to lure the empire into the war, they were unable to make any progress. Not only Grand Vizier Said Halim Paia but virtually all of the viziers were against the idea of going to war. The memorandum sent by German Ambassador Hans Freiherr von Wangenheim to Berlin on Sept. 19, 1914, portrayed the situation in the empire well enough:
andquotWith his war plans, Enver Paia is getting lonelier each day. There are doubts about Germanyand’s winning the war. Only with a coup dand’andeacutetat can Enver Paia overcome the obstacles, but this possibility is weaker today than it was 10 days ago. and’Of course, we are with you, but donand’t expect us to do something that would amount to suicide,and’ [Grand Vizier] izzet Paia told Liman [Liman Von Sanders, commander of the Ottoman Army during World War I].andquot
Enver Paia stages the coup not in Istanbul but in the Black Sea. He gives the order to shell Russian vessels and ports. The vessel that does the shelling is German and its crew is from Germany, but the order is from Enver Paia. Securing Enver Paiaand’s decision with the promise of sending 6 million gold marks in andquotaidandquot to the Ottoman Empire, the Germans obtain a written order from Enver Paia so that the Turks cannot argue that they have been dragged into war unwillingly. When the news about the shelling of Odessa and other ports comes to Istanbul, Grand Vizier Said Halim Paia cries thinking about its consequences. Then comes the disaster of Sarikamii in 1914, the scapegoating of the Armenians and forced relocation and genocide in 1915. The conspiratorial, pro-coup state culture is not specific to Enver Paia, as it is still alive and continues to produce new scapegoats.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman