Halil Kut

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Halil Kut
Halil Kut.png
Nickname(s)The Hero of Kut
Kutülamare Kahramanı
Born1881 (1881)
Yenimahalle, Istanbul, Ottoman Empire
Died20 August 1957(1957-08-20) (aged 75–76)
Istanbul, Turkey
Allegiance Ottoman Empire
RankMajor general
UnitSixth Army
Battles/warsBalkan Wars
Italo-Turkish War
World War I

Halil Kut (1881 – 20 August 1957)[1] was an Ottoman-born Turkish regional governor and military commander. Halil Pasha was the uncle of Enver Pasha, who was the War Minister during World War I. He is famous for his victory over the British forces at the Siege of Kut.

One of the main organizers of the Armenian and Assyrian genocides, he oversaw the massacre of Armenian men, women and children in Bitlis, Mush, and Beyazit. Many of the victims were buried alive in specially prepared ditches.[2] He also crossed into neighboring Persia and massacred Armenians, Assyrians and Persians.[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[edit]

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 whom Persia had installed during 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 at Salonica to command the mobile gendarmerie units in the region and was involved in fighting insurgents and bandits prior to the Balkan Wars. He 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[edit]

When the Ottoman empire entered World War I, Kut was working at the High Command in Istanbul. He served as the Military commander of the Istanbul Vilayat between January and December 1914.[10] He later served as the divisional commander in 3rd Ottoman army on the Russian border, as part of the Caucasus Campaign. Later, he was one of the senior commanders of the Ottoman forces in Mesopotamia, now Iraq, during World War I.[citation needed]

In 1915, he was the commander of the forces capturing Kut in southern Iraq and taking General Townshend, 481 officer and 13,300 soldiers prisoners. 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

In 1917, Halil Pasha was ordered by the Minister of Defense Enver Pasha to move some of his troops to the Persian Campaign [11] 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[edit]

Halil Pasha had a major role in the Armenian Genocide. He took part in the civilian killings during the Siege of Van in 1915. Under orders, Kut had conducted the massacre of his own Armenian battalions. A Turkish officer in Halil's force testified that "Halil had the entire Armenian population (men, women and children) in the areas of Bitlis, Muş, and Beyazit also massacred without pity. My company received a similar order. Many of the victims were buried alive in especially prepared ditches."[12]

The German vice-consul of Erzurum Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter reported that "Halil Bey's campaign in northern Persia included the massacre of his Armenian and Syrian battalions and the expulsion of the Armenian, Syrian, and Persian population out of Persia ..."[13] After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I he was charged for his role in the Armenian Genocide before the Turkish Court-Martials. Kut was arrested in January 1919[14] and later exiled to Malta but managed to evade prosecution flee from detention to Anatolia in August 1920.[15]

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. His exact words (literally translated) are:

The Armenian nation, because it tried to erase my country from history as prisoners of the enemy in the most horrible and painful days of my homeland, which I had tried to annihilate to the last member of, 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.[16]

The Government of Turkey does not accept that these events amounted to genocide, see Armenian Genocide denial.

Later years[edit]

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 Batumi 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. His last wish was to have rakı (an alcoholic drink) poured on his grave, which led to controversy amongst conservatives in Turkey.[17]

See also[edit]


  • Biographical note - Khalil Pasha - downloaded from FirstWorldWar.com, January 13, 2006.
  • Gaunt, David (2006). Massacres, resistance, protectors: muslim-christian relations in Eastern Anatolia during world war I (1st Gorgias Press ed.). Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias. ISBN 1-59333-301-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Kiernan, Ben (2008). Blood and Soil: Modern Genocide 1500–2000. Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 0-522-85477-X.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Winter, J. M. (2003). America and the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-511-16382-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)


  1. ^ "Kutülamara kahramanı Halil Kut dün vefat etti", Milliyet, 21 August 1957.
  2. ^ a b c Kiernan 2008, p. 413.
  3. ^ Gaunt 2006, p. 109.
  4. ^ a b Winter 2003, p. 65.
  5. ^ Babikian, Aris (June 3, 1998). "Wall of silence built around Armenian genocide". The Ottawa Citizen. 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 Encyclopædia 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. ^ Dadrian, Vahakn N. (1991). "The Documentation of the World War I Armenian Massacres in the Proceedings of the Turkish Military Tribunal". International Journal of Middle East Studies. 23 (4): 559. ISSN 0020-7438.
  11. ^ M. Taylan Sorgun,"Bitmeyen Savaş",1972, p195.
  12. ^ Kiernan, Ben (2008). Blood and soil: a world history of genocide and extermination from Sparta to Darfur. Carlton, Vic.: Melbourne University Publishing. p. 413. ISBN 0-522-85477-X.
  13. ^ Gaunt, David (2006). Massacres, resistance, protectors: muslim-christian relations in Eastern Anatolia during world war I (1st Gorgias Press ed.). Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias. p. 109. ISBN 1-59333-301-3.
  14. ^ Dadrian, Vahakn N.; Akçam, Taner (2011). Judgment at Istanbul: The Armenian Genocide Trials. Berghahn Books. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-85745-251-1.
  15. ^ Kévorkian, Raymond (2011-03-30). The Armenian Genocide: A Complete History. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 794. ISBN 978-0-85771-930-0.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Kut'ül Amare komutanı: Mezarıma rakı dökün