Who's Who - Mehmed Talaat Pasha

Mehmed Talaat Pasha Mehmed Talaat Pasha (1874-1921) was a prominent leader of the Young Turk movement and was Grand Vizier from 1917-18.

Born in Edirne in the Ottoman Empire Talaat was the son of a minor official and during his early career worked variously in a telegraph office and as a postal officer.  Nevertheless at this early stage Talaat developed a political restlessness that saw him arrested for subversive activity in 1893.

With the success of the Young Turk revolution of 1908 (in which he played a leading part) Talaat was appointed deputy for Edirne in Parliament and, the following year, elevated to the Cabinet as Minister of the Interior.  He was subsequently appointed Minister of Post and then elected Secretary General of the Committee of Union and Progress in 1912, further boosting his power base within the party.

Unusually among the Young Turk leadership Talaat favoured allying with the Entente Powers prior to war in 1914, notably with Russia.  With his diplomatic overtures to the Allies ignored however he eventually sided with his rival Enver Pasha in proposing an alliance with the Central Powers led by Germany.

War with the Entente Powers consequently followed in November 1914.  Unlike his colleagues Talaat faced the prospect of war with some apprehension, uncertain of the Ottoman Empire's likelihood of success in the coming conflict.  At best he viewed participation as a sizeable gamble.

As Minister of the Interior Talaat was faced with the responsibility of ensuring Turkey's domestic ability to conduct war, consequently subordinating Ottoman society to support the army's requirements.

Controversially his office oversaw the deportation of the Armenians from the Ottoman Empire's eastern provinces (and therefore susceptible to Russian influence) to Syria and Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) in April 1915 following the rebels' capture of the city of Van.

Some 600,000 Armenians perished in the twentieth century's first case of mass genocide.  Talaat's subsequent denials of knowledge or involvement were generally disregarded by most observers both at the time and more recently.

In February 1917 Talaat was made Grand Vizier.  He held this position until his resignation on 14 October 1918, immediately prior to Turkey's unconditional surrender to the Allies (and not far ahead of the Allies' occupation of Constantinople itself).

Having fled, along with Enver Pasha and Djemal Pasha, to Germany aboard a German ship, he was subsequently murdered in Berlin on 15 March 1921 in an act of revenge by an Armenian assassin.

"Lance corporal bacon" was the name used by Anzac soldiers to describe very fatty bacon with a sliver of lean meat running through it.

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