1918-07-30-DE-002
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Link: http://www.armenocide.net/armenocide/armgende.nsf/$$AllDocs/1918-07-30-DE-002
Source: DE/PA-AA/R 11054
Publication: DuA Dok. 419 (gk.)
Central register: 1918-A-32652
Edition: Caucasus Campaign
Date of entry in central register: 08/03/1918 a.m.
Embassy/consular serial number: No. 204
Translated by: Vera Draack (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 04/15/2012


From the Ambassador in Constantinople (Bernstorff) to the Reichskanzler (Hertling)

Report



Pera, 30 July 1918

1 Enclosure. [The enclosure (1) quoted consists of a letter from Lyncker to the Supreme Headquarters, a telegram from Hindenburg to Enver Pasha as well as a letter from von Seeckt to the Supreme Headquarters. A further enclosure (2) is attached to the written statement without having been identified as an enclosure.]

I have the honour of respectfully presenting to Your Excellency transcripts of two reports by the local Deputy German Military Representative to the Commander of the General Staff of the Army and a telegram from Field Marshal von Hindenburg to Enver Pasha.


Bernstorff

Enclosure 1


Copy

Constantinople, 30 July 1918

No. 9244/ secret mission.

According to information from General von Lossow, he received Your Excellency's letter through the Foreign Office in Berlin and assisted in formulating the Office's reply.

The final opinion of the Turkish Supreme Army Command on the necessity of further military operations in Azerbaijan has been written down in a letter from General von Seeckt, sent to Your Excellency today, of which I was informed.

It is not possible to verify from here just how correct the news is from the Ottoman Supreme Army Command on British action in north-west Persia, as well as the control of Baku by Armenian gangs. At any rate, Djulfa and Täbris are now securely held by Turkey after a Turkish infantry regiment first marched into Täbris on 27 July while another, which had occupied the town until then, left Täbris on 28 July to join the 4th A. K.

I have, however, come to the conclusion that Enver, for his part, is honestly attempting to clear up the disputes with the Georgians and to satisfy their local claims in order to achieve free use of the train. Hopefully, General von Kress will succeed in convincing the Georgian Government of Enver's sincerity with regard to accommodating it. This is especially true of the planned evacuation of the border area under dispute around Karaklissa. Concerning the question of administration of the oil fields, the pipe line and the railway, Enver will certainly not evade the wishes of the Supreme War Command; what matters to Enver is achieving a free hand both militarily and politically in Azerbaijan (see telegram Kress No. 5 dated 18 July), and for this he is prepared to make economic concessions on a large scale. The battles along the Erivan-Djulfa railway line, which have meanwhile come to an end due to the seizure of Nachitshevan and the retreat of the Armenian forces into the eastern mountains, merely served to secure this important access line for the other operations.

I am of the opinion that, due to the present opinion at headquarters aiming towards further goals, it will not be difficult to settle all questions under dispute between Georgia and Turkey, including the question of the seizure of Baku, and that the best means of achieving this will be a personal discussion between Your Excellency and Enver. I have only found a completely negative opinion on the part of the Turkish Supreme Army Command with regard to the question of the return of the Armenians.


[Lyncker]

To the Commander of the General Staff of the Army, German Supreme Headquarters.


Constantinople, 30 July 1918

Secret!

Field Marshal von Hindenburg sends a telegram on 29 July 1918 to Your Excellency under No. 34378.

[Lyncker]

His Excellency, the Minister of War and Vice-Generalissimo, Enver Pasha.

Constantinople, 30 July 1918.


Secret!

From the enclosed map Your Excellency can see the measures taken by the British side so far in Persia. Their goal of establishing a connected operative front from Persia using Rescht-Enzeli-Baku-Volga area-Czech-Slovakian troops to the Murman area can be considered as having been reached. There is increasingly more news that Täbris and even Djulfa have been occupied by the enemy, but this has not yet been confirmed. It has not yet been possible to gather sufficiently strong Turkish forces in Persia with which to put a stop to the British advance. Wehib Pasha's disobedience, bordering almost on high treason, and Enver's indecision or inability to take action against him in good time were the cause of this failing, which cannot be rectified. I must reproach myself that I was not able to have Wehib removed sooner. There was certainly no lack on my part of every kind of effort. The change in command, which took place led to further delays. The new Commander-in-Chief only arrived in Batum on 28 July; I expect an improvement both from him and from the German staff. In the meantime, the interim commanding officer, Essad Pasha, took the first steps, albeit hesitantly and only under constant urging. As the leader of the 3rd Army, he thought only of himself and his own army – an occurrence, which is, unfortunately, almost a matter of course here – and attempted to keep it as strong as possible. In addition, Wehib's ideas continued to have an effect on him.

The third reason for the delay of the operation, which, regretfully, still exists today, is the denial of the use of the train. Despite Your Excellency's order, General von Kress does not accept any transports of the troops. All of my attempts to convince him of the necessity of this have failed. Political considerations have kept priority over clear military necessities. More and more weeks go by as questions and remonstrances pass back and forth. Far be it from me to underestimate the fault of Turks with regard to these delays, but in my opinion it is now of less importance to determine the question of guilt and more important to achieve something that is in everyone's general interest. Should an unfriendly policy be pursued in Georgia and Azerbaijan against the Turks, then the operation is impossible in Persia. Thus, I must request of Your Excellency once again to give the order that the control on the train be lifted.

The Armenians build an important link in the enemy front. According to the latest news, they have taken Baku. The Armenians' liaison with the British is obvious. At this moment, we must not look after the Armenians, but rather regard them as the enemy. This is an impossible state of affairs: to be allied with the Turks and to speak up for the Armenians. It is my belief that every consideration, be it Christian, sentimental or political, must make way for the severe, but clear necessity of war.

Should it prove to be true that the Armenians rule in Baku, then every chance of our gaining control of the area and their mineral resources by means of negotiation will fade away. As we are not in a position to send stronger German troops to the Caucasus, the only remaining option is to give the Turks a free hand militarily in Azerbaijan and to confine ourselves to economic concessions. I believe that a decision by Your Excellency in this sense is of the greatest necessity, as is that of the use of the train. Otherwise, our prospects of breaking through the hostile eastern front at a point, which is still weak today will dwindle steadily.


[von Seeckt]

To the Commander of the General Staff of the Army, German Supreme Headquarters.


Enclosure 2

General von Lossow

B. No. 694.


Berlin, 4 August 1918

To the Commander of the General Staff of the Army, Operation Division B and Political Division Supreme Headquarters.

The report by General von Seeckt dated 30 July 1918 on the situation at the Turkish eastern front was sent to me in transcript from Constantinople.

I am of the opinion that Enver Pasha and the extremely nationalistic members of the Committee behind him are the driving force for the Turkish Turanian and Caucasian policy.

The active and passive resistance which seems to be opposing the march-off of the largest part of the Turkish forces in the Caucasus towards Baghdad-Mosul is, in my opinion, not to be charged to Wehib Pasha, Essad Pasha or now the new army leader, Halil Pasha; rather, I am sorry to say that I believe that although Enver Pasha gives orders which are shown to General von Seeckt and the German officers at Headquarters and which are to move the troops towards Mesopotamia, secret counter-orders are given of which the German officers know nothing, ordering the troops to remain in the Caucasus and northern Persia.

I do not believe that I can be accused to taking Wehib's side, especially after what I have previously reported both orally and in writing, but I consider it to be extremely probable that Wehib wanted a policy for the Caucasus which was much more understanding and moderate than Enver's; at least, I believe that I can conclude this from statements made by Wehib, Kalil, the Minister of Justice, and all the people about these two men during the negotiations in Batum.

We do not wish to pursue an unfriendly policy against the Turks in Georgia and Azerbaijan, but rather to pursue a policy there together with the Turks, both in the Caucasus and in Persia, which ensures us of the friendship and economical support of these countries.


* * *

On the 3rd of this month I had a long discussion with Zeki Pasha on the situation in the Caucasus. He considers it to be the only possible policy for Turkey in the Caucasus and northern Persia that it work towards satisfying the Georgians, Armenians, Tartars and Persians and making them friends with Turkey. Should Turkey now take away parts from Georgia, Armenia and Persia, it would make enemies everywhere in these countries, and at the final peace conference, in which the Entente would also have an important say, Turkey would have to return everything. Then, instead of having friendly neighbouring countries in the Caucasus and Persia, it would have hostile countries as neighbours. But if the people of the Caucasus and the Persians were satisfied at the final peace conference, then the Entente would also not become greatly involved, but would have to sanction the created status, and Turkey would then have friendly nations at its eastern borders with which it could perhaps also enter into alliances in future.

This sensible policy will probably be approved without hesitation. Armenia in particular will expect the Entente, especially the United States, to intervene at the final peace conference. If Turkey restricts itself to the borders of the Treaty of Brest, and if we should thus create together with the Turks an Armenia, which is more or less capable of surviving, then perhaps the Armenians themselves will adopt a moderate position at the final peace conference. If an Armenia is created in accordance with the present Turkish ideas, which is in no way capable of surviving, then it is probable that Turkey will have to surrender not only the entire Caucasian Armenia, but also a part of Turkish Armenia. At the final peace conference, this will result in a chain of difficulties and ill-feelings, both for Turkey and possibly even more for us.

Zeki Pasha is of the opinion that both the German Supreme Army Command as well as the Foreign Office and our Ambassador must constantly continue to petition the Turkish Government and the Turkish Supreme Army Command in this sense. Even though we have not yet had any success with such petitions with either Enver Pasha or the Turkish Government, it is to be hoped that in time reason will prevail and the circles in Constantinople, which hold the same views as Zeki Pasha will win influence.


von Lossow


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