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Halil Kut
Halil Kut
Nickname The Hero of Kut
Kutülamare Kahramanı
Born 1881
Died August 20, 1957(1957-08-20) (aged 76)
Place of birth Yenimahalle, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Place of death Istanbul, Turkey
Allegiance  Ottoman Empire
Rank Mirliva
Unit Sixth Army

Halil Kut (1881-August 20, 1957)[1] was an Ottoman and Turkish regional governor, military commander and Armenian Genocide perpatraitor. Halil Pasha was the uncle of Enver Pasha, who was the War Minister during World War I and one of the main organizers of the Armenian Genocide.

He oversaw the massacre of all Armenian men, women and children in Bitlis, Mush, and Beyazit. Many of the victims were buried alive in especially prepared ditches.[2] He also crossed into neighboring Persia and massacred the Armenian, Syrian, and Persian population.[3]

Kut claimed in his memoirs that he personally killed "more or less" 300,000 Armenians.[4][2][5] During a meeting at Yerevan in the summer of 1918, in front of many Armenians Kut declared: "I have endeavored to wipe out the Armenian nation to the last individual."[2][4][6]

Early career

He graduated from the War Academy (Staff College) at Constantinople[7][8] in 1905 as a Distinguished Captain (Mümtaz Yüzbaşı).

For three years following his graduation he served the Third Army in Macedonia. When the constitutional order was restored in 1908, the government sent him to Iran to organize dissidence against the Shah which Persia had the Persian Constitutional Revolution. After the Countercoup (1909) of 13 April 1909, he was called back and became the commander of the Imperial Guard.

Initially he was involved in fighting insurgents and bandits around Selanik prior to the Balkan Wars. He was at Salonica to command the mobile gendarmerie units in the region. He was also commanded a unit during Balkan Wars.[9] He was among the group of young officers sent to Libya (Trablusgarp) in 1911 to organize the defense against the Italian invasion during the Italo-Turkish War. Before World War I, he served as the commander of the gendarmerie regiment in Van.

World War I

When Turkey entered the World War, he was working at the High Command in Constantinople. He later served as the divisional commander in 3rd Ottoman army on the Russian border, thereby also involved in operations against the Armenians who were allied to the Russians. Later, he was one of the senior commanders of the Ottoman forces in Mesopotamia, now Iraq, during World War I.

In 1915, he was the commander of the forces capturing Kut in southern Iraq and taking General Townshend prisoner. After this successful campaign, he was promoted to General. He was appointed governor of the Baghdad province (present day Iraq and Kuwait combined) and was also the commander of the Sixth Army from 19 April 1916 till the end of the war in 1918.

His greatest success during his tactical - after 19 April 1916 operational - command in Iraq was the encirclement and 143 day Siege of Kut, and the eventual surrender of the British Expeditionary Armies on 29 April 1916. However, credit for this success is shared with his senior officer and predecessor as Commander of the 6th Ottoman Army, German Field-Marshal Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz, who had died 10 days before this surrender.

In 1917, Halil Pasha was ordered by the Minister of Defense Enver Pasha to move some of his troops to the Persian Campaign [10] It was an unsuccessful attempt to destabilize the British supported government there. This limited his ability to defend Baghdad and led to the Fall of Baghdad. After which fresh British forces were massed at the Iraq front after this surrender.

Armenian Genocide

Halil Pasha had a supporting role in the Armenian Genocide. He took part in the civilian killings during the Siege of Van and was also the uncle of Enver Pasha, one of the Three Pashas who had organized the genocide. In his memoirs, he would proudly admit to his role in the genocide and his intention to kill every Armenian in the world. Halil had also tried to justify the genocide and accused the Armenians of being a threat to the Ottoman Empire, a common claim in Armenian Genocide denial. His extact words (literally translated) are:

The Armenian nation, which I had tried to annihilate to the last member of it, because it tried to erase my country from history as prisoners of the enemy in the most horrible and painful days of my homeland, the Armenian nation, which I want to restore its peace and luxury, because today it takes shelter under the virtue of the Turkish nation. If you remain loyal to the Turkish homeland, I'll do every good thing that I can. If you hook on several senseless Komitadjis again, and try to betray Turks and the Turkish homeland, I will order my forces which surround all your country and I won't leave even a single breathing Armenian all over the earth. Get your mind.[11]

Late years

He was jailed by the British Occupying Forces in Constantinople, but escaped and fled to Moscow. In accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Moscow (1921) signed between the Ankara Government and the Soviet leadership, he carried the gold bullion sent by Lenin to Ankara, to pay for Turkey's return of Batum to the Soviets. Since he was not permitted to stay in Turkey at the time, he first moved back to Moscow and then to Berlin.

He was permitted to return to Turkey after the declaration of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. He died in 1957 in Istanbul.

See also



  1. "Kutülamara kahramanı Halil Kut dün vefat etti", Milliyet, August 21, 1957.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Kiernan 2008, p. 413.
  3. Gaunt 2006, p. 109.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Winter 2003, p. 65.
  5. Babikian, Aris (June 3, 1998). "Wall of silence built around Armenian genocide". p. A14. 
  6. Pritchard, Maria. Genocide. RW Press. p. 1971. ISBN 1-909284-27-0. 
  7. Simon, Rachel (1987). Libya between Ottomanism and nationalism: the Ottoman involvement in Libya during the War with Italy (1911-1919). K. Schwarz. p. 140. 
  8. The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol.7, Edited by Hugh Chisholm, (1911), 3; "Constantinople, the capital of the Turkish Empire...".
  9. M. Taylan Sorgun,"Bitmeyen Savaş",1972. Memoirs of Halil Paşa
  10. M. Taylan Sorgun,"Bitmeyen Savaş",1972,p195.
  11. Halil Paşa (transcribed by Taylan Sorgun), İttihat ve Terakki'den Cumhuriyet'e Bitmeyen Savaş, Kamer, İstanbul, 1997, pp. 240–41, Turkish text: Vatanımın en korkunç ve acı günlerinde vatanımı düşmana esir olarak tarihten silmeye kalktıkları için son ferdine kadar yok etmeye çalıştığım Er­meni Milleti, bugün Türk milletinin âlicenaplığına sığındığı için huzura ve rahata kavuşturmak istediğim Ermeni milleti. Eğer siz Türk vatanına sâdık kalırsanız elimden gelen her iyi şeyi yapacağım. Eğer yine bir takım şuursuz komitacılara takılarak Türk'e ve Türk vatanına ihanete kalkarsanız bütün memleketinizi saran ordularıma emir vererek dünya üstünde nefes alacak tek Ermeni bırak­mayacağım, aklınızı başınıza alın.

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