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Remembered Today:

Erzurum, Turkey, War Memorial Wall


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I do not want to get into the political debate on what happened in the area around here in 1915. I am very well aware of what did.


I want some help on identifying this memorial wall that I photographed a couple of weeks ago while wandering around (as on does) in Erzurum in Eastern Turkey. The sculptures are particularly graphic and striking and indeed horrific. My photos are below..


Has anyone any information of this particular memorial - I have tried to get information online, and as far as I can see no other photos exist, which is surprising. I assume from the uniforms that it refers to 1915 and not to 1895 events


As I say, it's the memorial I am trying to get information on, not the politics












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I am almost entirely ignorant of the situation here, but would this be the occasion which is seen from the Cossack side in John Buchan's "Greenmantle"? Pray forgive me if this is a silly question.


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My in depth knowledge is limited too, but as an Irishman, I know that getting impartial interpretations in difficult situations like the internal situation in Turkey in 1915 are well nigh impossible.


Travelling through Eastern Turkey, it was a difficult to get an impartial view as it would be in Dublin or Belfast of mass deaths


I was not there to research WW1 events, I was passing through the area on a route between Iran and Istanbul.


I came across this memorial quite by chance, and thought that there must be lots of references to it - but nothing I could find.  Hence this topic

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Hi everyone,


My first chance since I came back from the UK to get on GWF so this is new to me - in all ways! Certainly an interesting piece of work, and although my missis hails from the next province, she knows nowt about it... I'll certainly ask around. I can share the concern about the politics behind this one, especially as my missis' family settled in the region in the 1930's in what must have been an essentially empty town after 1915. 



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Thanks Julian


For what its worth this is the Google Earth photo of the context. It is in the city centre



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Thanks. I am not quite certain where to start but I'll give it a go as it is a fascinating piece given how it shows men with 'Enverli' helmets bearing arms against ordinary locals... Odd one this, in many ways. Especially given the region's Iğdır Soykırım Anıt-Müzesi and Erzurum being... - but let me say no more here!

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After purposefully staying away from the topic events of 1915 in eastern Turkey for many years (my father was in the Turkish Fifth Army in 1915, but in the far west of Turkey), I finally studied it under the mentoring of two people; one a personal friend here in Philadelphia, a former Turkish citizen of 100% Armenian ancestry; the second being an e-friend, a European resident in Turkey for many years. Without going into (many) specifics, the Armenian insurrection lasted from 1894 till perhaps 1923, and lots of people got killed, of all sorts of nationalities. For example, I believe that Act One may have been the killing of 100-200,000 Kurds by another group, to be left un-named. On the other hand, I think a lot of people were "offed" by the Kurds in 1915. If you study the period, the complexity of events is staggering.  My guess is that the death toll among civilians from about ten ethnic groups not starting with "A" was about a million. Lots of people write or opine about this mess without actually knowing any facts. 


Just glancing at the pictures of the memorial, a theme seems to be one group of civilians happily killing civilians of another group, with regular Turkish forces intervening. My bet is that if you actually know the details of civilian clothing and ethnic dress of the various groups of the period, you might be able to sort out the drift of the events depicted. I can guess, but won't. There was a rather heated thread about some of these events on this Forum some years ago, eventually the Moderators erased the entire long thread. It started with someone who probably didn't know anything about the matter posting pictures of naked corpses and heads on stakes, stating that the victims were "A"s, another Forumite said that the pictures were lifted from a book written by his father, and that the corpses were "T"s, adding the village and the date of the murders. It went downhill from there. I know little about the events of 1915 after some years of reading about the period in several languages, rarely English, most people posting on these events seemingly actually knew nothing, haven read propaganda in English.  


Quite a memorial, however.


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Thanks for your input bob.


As I put in my OP , I am aware of the controversies here, so want to try to keep the discussion to the memorial itself.


As you say, with knowledge, it may be possible to identify who the civilians are from their dress. I would add that there appear to be two groups of soldiers, and the same could apply there. I really do not have the knowledge can anyone help


What struck me was that there was no inscription on the memorial, and nobody seemed to know (or be willing to say) anything about it, even though it was, and had been for many years, visible on the street.



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  • 1 month later...



This had me looking also.


The fighting around this city was mixed between the Ottoman Army and forces under Russian control (Russian Army and their allies, like the rebellion of the ethnic minorities).


Does this show Ottoman soldiers killing or Russian and their allies killing or both?


Erzurum was an Ottoman Fortress - part of the 3rd Army command Area


Erzurum Fortress Garrison was captured by Russians Feb 1916

Col Alaaddin 1914 to Ahmet Pasha 1914-15 to Posselt Pasha (German) 4-15 to Ahmet Fevzi Pasha 2-16  

CofS - Maj Mehmet Emin (Koral) to Capt Sefik Avni (Özüdogru) 1915/16

staff officer - Capt Sefik Avni (Özüdogru) 1914 and Arty commander - LtCol Stange (German) 1914 to Posselt Pasha (German) to Yusuf Haydar & Maj Nuri Bey

6xArtillery Bns

11th Heavy Arty Regt (Fortress) 

12th Heavy Arty Regt (Fortress) - Yusuf Haydar Bey
Garrisoned - at Palandöken Capt Ömer - at Topalak Capt Agah - at Höyükle Capt  Hüseyin - at Uzun Ahmet Maj Ömer - at Çilligöl  Maj Harputlu Fevzi - at Çobandere Maj Faruk - at Sivisli Maj Serafettin - at Tafta unknown - at Karagöbek Capt Resit


7x Fortress Infantry Regts (names or numbers unknown) and what they garrisoned also unknown


Erzurum Jandarma Regt - Maj Rustu 1914 Jandarma Regt from the city of Erzurum formed into Frontier Guard Bn's

This area wasn't retaken till later in the war with the Russians collapse in 1917-18


So what period does the wall show is strange, for a Turkish people sensitive to what happen around there during the war?






Edited by stevebecker
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Hi, all;


Just looked a bit more closely at this fascinating piece, just noticed that the (seemingly) officer on horseback has a baby spitted on his sword. 

Nice touch! The officer and an enlisted man seem to have something resembling a bit of a bill on their caps, which if true rules out their being Turkish.

Nor would the authorities allow such a depiction. So probably Russians. Certainly enough Turkish civilians were killed in the events there during WW I.


Again, we should step carefully here. But in the defense of the Turkish authorities, I could point out that atrocities committed by all of the victorious allies

after WW II, in the course of which a number of my family members were killed, and others almost died, still generate fierce resistance, private and governmental,

if mentioned. No more on this topic.,     (I mean no more discussion from me of matters leaning toward recent Turkish politics.)

Edited by bob lembke
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I think bob is right in that the figures appear to be an anti Russian and there Allies depiction of the events during the war of the rough treatment they received after the Fortress fell in Feb 1916.


The Ottoman soldiers are shown with the enver helmets and fez, while Russians and shown with the service cap.


This area saw atrocities by both sides and the Ottomans were not the only ones to do ethnic clearing, the loss of Van in 1915 to rebels caused the Ottomans to be hard on these ethnic peoples, but like the Jewish peoples in Russia, Poland and Germany pre WWI saw them also have a hard time under these more (so called) enlighten govts.


But truth be told these times are still with us, as the Turkish people are still under attack by these same rebels 100 years later fighting over the same questions?


Who is right or wrong is not my place to say, being an outsider



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