Childhood & Early Life
Enver Pasha was born Ismail Enver, on November 22, 1881, in Istanbul, Constantinople Vilayet, Ottoman Empire. He grew up in his upper-class family, with four younger siblings: two brothers and two sisters. His father, Ahmed, was an Albanian–Turkish bridge keeper, while his mother, Ayse, was of Albanian descent.
When he was 6 years old, his family moved to Monastir, where Enver began his early education. Ever since he was a child, Enver looked forward to a military career. He thus attended various military schools.
He completed his education from the ‘War Academy’ in 1899. Around this time, his political thoughts developed to a great extent. He was sympathetic about the inclusion of democratic institutions in the Empire, which did not sit well with the Sultan. He, along with his uncle, Halil, was brought to the imperial palace to be interrogated for his political ideologies.
He graduated from the ‘Harp Akademisi’ in 1903, as a captain. He eventually earned the rank of major general in 1906 and was sent to the ‘Third Army.’ He was then stationed in the city of Salonica, where his political aspirations became stronger.
It is said that while in Salonica, he joined the ‘Committee of Union and Progress’ (CUP). However, this was never confirmed.
Continue Reading Below
The Young Turk Revolution and His Rise to Power
His uncle, Halil, who was of the same age as Enver, often shared his political views with Enver. Both of them joined the ‘Ottoman Freedom Society,’ while it was in its early stages of development. Enver and his group of revolutionaries aimed at abolishing the rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II and establish freedom and a constitution in the Ottoman Empire.
Enver was still quite young back then. He was given a crucial role to play in the ‘CUP’-led revolution to establish the democratic values in the Empire. The chief commander of Salonica, Nazim Bey, who also happened to be Enver’s brother-in-law, was assassinated by him. The revolution, known as the ‘Young Turk Revolution,’ began in the mountains of Macedonia in the late 1900s.
The revolution was so powerful that the sultan had no choice but to accept all of the ‘CUP’s demands. Hence, a constitutional regime was inaugurated in July 1908. The parliament, too, was reactivated.
In 1909, the sultan was deposed and replaced by Sultan Mehmet V. According to the constitution, the real control of the kingdom was transferred to the parliament. The ‘CUP’ and the ‘Liberation Army’ became the main driving forces ruling the country, and Enver became the chief of staff of the ‘Liberation Army.’
When the Italian forces attacked the Ottoman Empire, Enver was one of the military generals who fought in the battles. The conflict with Italy ended with the Ottomans withdrawing their claims on Libya. The loss of Libya cost the ‘CUP’ a great deal in terms of popularity, and the ‘Liberal Union’ party took over the parliament.
However, in the early 1910s, another war broke out in the Balkans. The ‘Balkan League’ attacked hard, and several Ottoman territories were lost after the ‘Ottoman Army’ suffered back-to-back defeats. The government was weakened, and Enver led his people to take the power back from the ‘Liberal Union.’
In January 1913, the ‘CUP’ regained their power and a triumvirate, called the “Three Pashas,” was introduced. It included Enver, Djemal Pasha, and Talaat Pasha. Enver took charge as the minister of war. However, the years that followed weakened the condition of the kingdom, as two major territories of the Ottoman Empire, Adrianople and Yannina, fell into the hands of the Bulgarians and the Greeks respectively.
However, during the Second Balkan War, Enver led his army to take back Adrianople from the Bulgarians. This led to a massive surge in his popularity in his kingdom, and as Europe was pushed into the World War, he became one of the strongest men in the Ottoman Empire.
In 1914, he sided with Germany as the First World War broke out. The Ottomans embarked into a defensive alliance against Russia. Enver urged the youth of his country to join the military. Ottoman entered the World War, siding with the ‘Central Powers’ in November 1914, and Enver worked closely alongside the German generals in the ‘Ottoman Army.’
Enver’s motivation for entering the war was the expansion of Turkey, and he thought that Germany would easily win the war. However, things began looking bleak only a few months into the war. Moreover, Turkey’s decision of entering the war had weakened the entire infrastructure of the country. However, the Russian withdrawal from the war offered some hope.
The tides turned once again following the Palestinian and the Mesopotamian meltdowns. This forced Turkey to withdraw from the war. In October 1918, Enver was removed from his position of the minister of war. He was also expelled from the army in January 1919. All three of the “Pashas” were forced into exile.
He was then tried for dragging the country into the war for no real reason and was sentenced to death. He, however, fled to Germany and then to Russia, and began working with the Soviet Union. During all this time, he desperately wanted to return to his country and regain power.
In July 1921, the Turkish War of Independence broke out, and Enver returned to Anatolia. However, Mustafa Kemal, one of the main faces of the revolution, did not want Enver to be one of the revolutionaries. Nevertheless, Enver made contacts with some rebels discretely, and following a few successful military operations, he re-established himself as a powerful military commander.
Family, Personal Life & Death
In 1914, Enver Pasha married HIH princess Emine Naciye Sultan. She was the daughter of Prince Suleyman. Enver had three children with her, Mahpeyker Hanımsultan , Türkan Hanımsultan, Sultanzade Ali Bey.
On August 4, 1922, he was celebrating at a feast in a village in Bukharan People’s Soviet Republic, when he was attacked by the Russian forces. He tried to resist the attack along with his 30 men near the Chegan Hill but was eventually killed.
He was buried near the village of Ab-i-Derya (modern-day Tajikistan). His grave remained there for many years, and in 1996, his remains were brought back to Turkey and reburied in Istanbul.