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C H A P T E R V I Dissension over Transcaucasia, 1918 W HEN THE Tsarist regime was toppled in March 1917 the Russian "Caucasian army" was deep in Ot­ toman territory, with such major towns as Trabzon, Erzurum, and Van lying well behind its lines. As war weari­ ness and revolutionary propaganda spread through Russia in the following months, military discipline deteriorated. Follow­ ing the example first set on the European front an increasing number of Russian soldiers in the Turkish theater of war re­ sorted to "self-demobilization." In agreement with the OHL, which was content to let the demoralization and disintegra­ tion of Russia's armed forces run its natural course, the Turk­ ish troops in eastern Anatolia made virtually no effort to ex­ ploit the thinning of the Russian lines for the reconquest of lost ground. In fact, from June onward hostilities on the RussoTurkish front all but ceased. During the autumn of 1917 more and more sections of the Russian front and much of the hinterland were taken over by various Transcaucasian volunteer units, including a large num­ ber of Armenian troops. After the Bolsheviks seized power in Petrograd these Transcaucasian formations and "a few hun­ dred Russian officers" were practically the only elements the Russian theater commander, General Przhevalskii, could still rely on for holding the lines against the Turks.1 But the Turks, well aware of the Bolsheviks' commitment to end the war and confident of obtaining a negotiated withdrawal of Russian troops from their soil before long, remained militarily passive in the weeks following Lenin's successful coup. On November 1See Miihlmann, deutsch-tiir\ische Wafjenbiindnis, pp. 131-35; Allen and Muratoff, pp. 442-57; Kazemzadeh, Struggle for Transcaucasia, pp. 32-62, passim·, Richard Pipes, The Formation of the Soviet Union, rev. edn. (Cambridge, Mass., 1964), pp. 98-102; and D. M. Lang, A Modern History of Soviet Georgia (New York, 1962), pp. 192-99. Dissension over Transcaucasia, 1918 26 the new rulers in Petrograd formally approached Germany and her allies with a ceasefire proposal, and a week later armi­ stice negotiations opened at Brest-Litovsk, with Gen. Max Hoffmann acting as the principal spokesman for the Central Powers and Gen. Zeki Pasa attending as chief representative of the Ottoman empire. As might be expected the Porte wished to have a provision for prompt Russian withdrawal from all occupied Ottoman territory included in the armistice terms, but Berlin was reluc­ tant to support that demand. In his recommendations to the German delegates at Brest-Litovsk Kiihlmann noted that he had no objection to an informal airing of the Turkish demand, but if the Bolsheviks should then come up with counterdemands , orif there was any indication that the conclusion of the armistice might be jeopardized because of the Porte's wishes, the matter should be dropped until regular peace negotiations were initiated. As a result of this German hesitancy no formal provisions regarding the evacuation of Turkish territory were written into the armistice agreement. Under Article III of the Brest-Litovsk Armistice, signed on December 15, the lines of demarcadon in the "Russo-Turkish theaters of war in Asia" were to be determined by agreements between the military commanders on either side, the implication being that the existingfront lines would serve as points of reference.2 While the armistice talks were still underway the Porte gave notice to Berlin and Vienna that in the impending peace ne­ gotiations with the Bolsheviks it would not merely insist on the restoration of the 1914 border but also lay claim to the Dis­ tricts of Batum, Ardahan, and Kars which had fallen to Rus­ sia after the War of 1877-78. On December 15 Enver advised the Wilhelmstrasse in a personal letter that he and his col­ leagues at the Porte expected and counted on Germany's ener2Steglich , Friedenspolitik., 1, 243-94, passim.·, Miihlmann, deutschtiir \ische Waffenbundnis, pp. 134-35, Γ 94ΐ John W. Wheeler-Bennett, Brest-Litovs\. The Forgotten Peace (London, 1938), pp. 75-93, 379-84. • l68 · rDissension over Transcaucasia, igi8 getic support in the attainment of these Ottoman objectives. According to Enver Germany was committed to give such sup­ port both by the recently signed treaty on the full restoration of Ottoman territorial sovereignty and by one of the pledges which Wangenheim had given on August 6,1914.3 Two days after Enver had dispatched this letter to Berlin Bernstorii advised the Wilhelmstrasse that he regarded the vice-generalissimo's demand for the...


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