The Influence of European Oriental Studies
The term "Turan" has been used since the 6th century as a designation of geographical space in the sense of "Barthélemy d'Herbelot (1625‒1695) introduced the term "Turan" into European scientific discourse in his work Bibliothèque orientale, published in 1697, to designate the eastern and northern areas of the river . The river begins at today's border between and and flows into the .1 In the 19th century, the meaning of the terms "Turan" and "Turanian" was expanded and they were examined together from linguistic and ethnological perspectives. The Finnish philologist and ethnologist Matthias Alexander Castrén (1813‒1852), who dealt with the Ural, Altaic and Paleo-Siberian languages, postulated a linguistic, cultural, and racial unity of the so-called Ural-Altaic peoples. The German Orientalist Friedrich Max Müller (1823‒1900) in turn introduced the term "Turanians" as a new category for the non-Indo-Germanic and non-Semitic speaking peoples of and .2", which means "land of the Turks".
The Hungarian Turkologist Armin Vámbéry (Hermann Wamberger, 1832‒1913) is regarded as the "pioneer" of the Pan-Turkist and Turanist currents.3 The linguist, ethnologist, and well-known Turkophile, undertook extensive journeys through the Empire, , , and and publicly expressed his observations in numerous lectures and books. He searched for linguistic and ethnolinguistic connections between and the so-called Altaic languages (or East Turkic idioms). He became the most important exponent of the now obsolete Ural-Altaic thesis, according to which the Hungarian language belongs to the Altaic ("Turko-Tataric") language group. According to Vámbéry, the ancestors of the Hungarians came from Central Asia and were related to the Turks. In his preface to Reise in Mittelasien (1873), Vámbéry wrote that his aim was to explore commonalities between Hungarians, Finns, and Tatars.4
Vámbéry, later referred to as the "advocate of the East", also valorized the term "Turk".5 As Vámbéry writes, educated Turks who regarded themselves as Ottomans felt "downright insulted" when he tried to enlighten them about their "Turkish" origin during a stay in in the 1880s. The Ottoman state elite, which in part consisted of Christian converts, felt committed to a high Ottoman culture that exceeded regional and ethnic differences. The relationship to a "nomadic people" that Vámbéry attributed to them was therefore felt to be an affront. In their eyes, the term "Turk" only applied to the lower people, the nomads and the peasants.6 Vámbéry attributed this perception to the fact that Islam had caused, like nowhere else in the Ottoman Empire, a "de-nationalization" and that the "present day Ottoman" was a person "in whose veins flows a vanishingly small part of Turkish blood (and) whose physicality has not the slightest trace of the typical Turk".7
Vámbéry's Turan and Ural-Altai research was in the tradition of 19th century Hungarian and Western European Oriental research. After initial resistance, his views also met with broad acceptance among the Ottoman state elite and the intelligentsia. It is probably due to Vámbéry's prominence in the Ottoman Empire that Pan-Turkism, which in the second half of the 19th century first began to articulate itself culturally and then at the turn of the century also politically, was often referred to as Turanism. In fact, both terms were often used as synonyms, both in the Ottoman Empire and in contemporary European diplomacy as well as in the Russian Empire.8 Still, the geographical scope of Turanism was greater than that of Pan-Turkism. While the latter aimed at the unity of all Turkic peoples, Turanism, sometimes also tautologically referred to as Pan-Turanism, postulated the unity of the Turkish, Mongolian and Finno-Ugric peoples. It ascribed to them the common original home " ", a mystically glorified region in the Central Asian steppe.9
Other researchers in the context of Western European Oriental Studies, which began to institutionalize in the second half of the 19th century, also provided inspiration for the idea of Pan-Turkism. While the French Orientalist Joseph de Guignes (1721‒1800) already in 1756 put the "barbaric" peoples of the Huns, Turks, and Mongols into the European historical picture,10 his compatriot and colleague Léon Cahun (1841‒1900) about a century later became the most important source of inspiration for Pan-Turkism, alongside Vámbéry. Cahun's romantically written work Introduction à l'Histoire de l'Asie; Turcs et Mongols des origines à 1405, which appeared in 1896, had a major influence on the French-speaking educated Ottoman class.11 The book could be found in all bookshops in Constantinople and was translated into Turkish in 1899 by Necip Asım Yazıksız (1861‒1935).12 Cahun's study inspired, among others, Ziya Gökalp (1876‒1924) – the most famous Pan-Turkist and thought leader of Turkish nationalism – to do his own research on the history of the "Turks" in pre-Islamic times.13 Léon Cahun described the Turks as a "conquering nation", which boasted warriors who were superior to those belonging to the Arabs and Persians. He declared not only the Mongolian warlord Genghis Khan (1162‒1227), but also the first inhabitants of Europe to be Turks. Prominent Orientalists such as the Russian schoolteacher Wilhelm Radloff (1837‒1918)14 and Vasilij Vladimirovič Bartol'd (1869‒1930)15 also provided important work on the history and linguistic diversity of and inspired future Turkologists and anthropologists. At the same time, natural-scientific influences were starting to be felt in contemporary linguistics and ethnolinguistics, for example in the case of the German philologist and Indo-Europeanist August Schleicher (1821‒1868). Following Charles Darwin's (1809‒1888) dictum of the survival of the fittest, he predicted the downfall of the inferior language groups in favor of the superior Indo-European languages.16 Subsequently, leading Turkologists and Orientalists attempted to prove that the Turkic languages are also capable of surviving and, moreover, that they are spoken by language carriers who have made an important contribution to Western civilization.
In this context, the works of Mustafa Celâleddin Paşa play a special role. The Polish emigrant (born Konstanty Polklozic Borzęcki, 1826‒1876), who converted to Islam after his flight to the Ottoman Empire in 1848 and joined the Ottoman civil service, was central to propagating the Turkish idea of unity and the civilization of the "Turks". In his book Les Turcs anciens et modernes (1869), he claimed that the Turkish language was one of the original languages that had an important influence on Latin and Greek and that the sources of Western civilization were to be found in the Turkish past. Celâleddin viewed the reproduction of the Turkish language with the Arabic-Persian alphabet as problematic. He demanded both a purification of the Turkish language from foreign elements and the adoption of the Latin alphabet.17 With these theories and others, Celâleddin Paşa laid the foundation for the developing Turkish national movement.18
On the basis of these works the Ottoman intelligentsia began to deal with the pre-Islamic past of the "Turks".19 Ahmed Vefik Paşa (1823–1891), Ottoman bureaucrat and writer, explained to his compatriots the necessity of a genuinely national history and called for decoupling ancient Turkish history from the Ottoman history.20 His contemporary Süleyman Paşa (1838-1892) focused on the prehistory of the Ottomans21 in his book Tarih-i Alem22 ("World History", 1876), which gave expression to the ideas of Western Orientalists. At a time when only classical treatises of Ottoman-Islamic history were taught in Ottoman secondary schools, Süleyman Paşa introduced for the first time compendia dealing with ancient Turkish history. Şemseddin Sami (1850‒1904), playwright, writer and translator, also devoted himself to Turkish linguistics and in 1899 published a Turkish dictionary (Kamus-i Türki),23 which would become the basis for standard contemporary Turkish for many years.24
The preoccupation with the origins of the "Turks" in the Ottoman Empire went hand in hand with the period's modernization efforts: Among the educated classes of the Ottoman Empire, interest grew in secular European culture, Western intellectual trends, technology and science. As a reaction to European philhellenism, the Ottoman hommes de lettres also increasingly devoted themselves to the history of Western philosophy, Greek antiquity, and Western literature and poetry. These studies were primarily concerned with emphasizing an equivalent standing with Europe and demonstrating that the Ottomans and Turks were also among history's "oldest" state-founding peoples.
The first cultural impulses to awaken a genuinely Turkish national feeling, which, again, had arisen under the influence of the European intellectual world and referred solely to the "Turks" in the Ottoman Empire, remained a marginal phenomenon compared with the officially promoted supranational concept of "Ottomanism". In fact, the first advances met with resistance from Islamic Orthodoxy and the Sublime Porte. Thus some of the publications from the circle of the Young Ottomans were banned as subversive, such as the poems of İbrahim Şinasi (1826-1871) from the year 1859, the linguistic research of Şemseddin Samis, and the play Vatan ("Fatherland") from Namık Kemal (1840‒1888), after its premiere in 1873.25
In a time of emerging independence efforts of the Christian peoples, Ottomanism was declared, as a kind of imperial patriotism, state policy in order to protect the multi-ethnic empire from drifting apart. The imperial decrees of 1839 and 1856 and the Ottoman Constitution adopted in 1876 were intended to create a modern territorial state, which would give its citizens, regardless of origin, equality before the law and guarantee the free exercise of religion. The reforms were primarily intended to strengthen state authority, neutralize the secessionist forces in the Empire, and thus counteract the expansionist efforts of European powers. This was especially true of Russia, which presented itself as the protector of the Orthodox populationin the Ottoman Empire. Under these circumstances, the Ottoman leadership did not find it expedient to promote nationalism based solely on Turkish ethnicity.
After it proved impossible to neutralize the Christian national movements, however, the state-sponsored policy of pan-Islamism alternately came into play. In order to help bind the Muslim imperial populations (Albanians, Arabs, Kurds) – which were also experiencing a "national awakening" – to the multi-ethnic empire, stronger appeals were made to the common bond of religion and the Islamic idea of unity (ittihad-i Islam). The expulsion of Muslim Caucasian peoples, who flowed into the Ottoman Empire on a massive scale after the conquest and pacification of the High by the Tsarist Empire, also provided new legitimacy26 for the politics of pan-Islamism under Sultan Abdülhamid II (1842‒1918). Broadly speaking, it can be said that until around 1900 the ideological foundations for a Pan-Turkist movement had been laid, but that its far-reaching political and social impact did not unfold in the Ottoman Empire until after the turn of the century. Tatar-Turkish emigrants from the Tsarist Empire played a decisive role in this process.
Russian Muslims and Pan-Turkism
For good reasons, the Russian Muslims had already developed a national consciousness before their fellow believers in the Ottoman Empire. In turn, this formed the spiritual basis for the development of political Pan-Turkism. While the raison d'être of the Ottoman state elite consisted in ensuring the cohesion of the multi-ethnic and multi-denominational multi-ethnic empire with supranational integration concepts, the Russian Muslims, on the other hand, belonged to one of the numerous foreign ethnic population groups which in the second half of the 19th century produced different varieties of a national-religious relocation movement.
The "national idea" did not emerge simultaneously among the Russian Muslims. There were various Muslim population groups in the Tsarist Empire. They differed considerably in their ethnic composition, in their cultural and political traditions as well as in their ways of life and economy. They had also had different experiences foreign rule: While the settled Volgatarians had already lived in the Russian territory since the 16th century, the nomadic Muslims of Central Asiadid not come under Russian rule until the second half of the 19th century.27 What these population groups had in common was a devotion to Islam and, as a rule, language. The dialects of the Turkic languages differed from region to region, yet mainly in phonetics and vocabulary, not typology. Communication between the speakers of most Turkic languages was therefore possible.28 The 1897 census found that about 90 percent of the Turkic-speaking inhabitants of the Tsarist Empire (who in turn made up about 11 percent of the total population) were Muslims.29 In other words, even before the "national awakening" the shared belonging to Islam offered an opportunity for identification,while language played no more than a subordinate role. For the nationally mobilized Russian Muslims, therefore, the question soon arose as to what role Islam would play in their national identity construction: Was religion secondary in comparison to the modern idea of ethnic origin and national belonging or was it a primary ideology of "integration overlaying other identities"?30
The genesis of national consciousness and the Pan-Turkist idea, which drew on the same pool of myths and symbols, were promoted by certain internal and external developments and circumstances. The Russian urge for expansion, the cultural civilizing mission, the policy of conquest, and pacification towards foreign ethnic groups and denominations played a role in this. Nonetheless, the imperial oriented Russian policy since the 18th century was not systematically anti-Muslim, but vacillated between pragmatism and open repression with aggressive forms of assimilation politics (Russification, Christianization). On the one hand, in the first half of the 18th century, the policy of assimilation was able to oppress Islamic institutions in the , since they were regarded as sources of a tradition of Muslim resistance. On the other, they reflected a willingness to cooperate with the secular Muslim elites.31 The territorialization of the Russian Empire according to the Western European concept of nation-states in the late 19th century was a major step forward in the 19th century. It was not only a reaction, among other things, to separatist nationalisms – in subjecting foreign nationalities to rigid assimilation pressure, it also evoked them.32
The development of the national idea among the Tartars in the Tsar Empire correlated with the economic and socio-cultural development stage of the respective Muslim settlement areas within the Tsarist Empire. In particular, it was the economically more developed regions around in and in in which a specific "Tatar" or "Turkish" national consciousness emerged in the 19th century. The torch bearers of the national movement were the economic (i.e. merchants and entrepreneurs) and spiritual elites, because they were directly affected by the Russian assimilation policy. For the economic elites, the Russifying homogenization pressure entailed substantial financial losses and discrimination. The development and expansion of the trade and industrial enterprises of the Tatars were constrained or even prevented by high tax burdens and the restrictive measures of the Russian government.
The regional cultural life of the Tatars was also beset more and more by Russification pressure. A number of Islamic schools (medrese) were closed and the new construction of schools and mosques were subjected to restrictions. In Kazan, the Orthodox Theological Academy sprang into action to advance the Christianization of the young Tatars by establishing the Il'minskij School (named after the Russian Orientalist Nikolai Ivanovič Il'minskij (1822‒1891) in 1863.33 Kasan-Tartar elites were confronted with the challenges of modernization in the Russian Empire, not least due to the military reform of 1874,34 which for the first time made military service compulsory for Muslims. They initially responded with an Islamic reform movement. Impulses for the "national awakening" also came from the university founded in Kazan in 1804, where Oriental studies and Tatar lessons were introduced and Tatar publicationswere produced in their printing works. Tatar publishing, which flourished in the 19th century, had extraordinary appeal even beyond the regional borders.35
In Azerbaijan as well, the industrialization beginning from the middle of the 19th century and the socio-economic transformation processes it triggered led to the emergence of an entrepreneur-capitalism and a Muslim bourgeoisie. The Russian integration pressure and the added communal conflicts with Armenians and the European colonists also encouraged a return to one's own culture. Like the Tartars in Kazan and Crimea, the Azeris reacted to the social upheavals by reshaping their social, cultural, and denominational lives. The emergence and spread of the Muslim-Turkish printing industry in the 19th century promoted the migration of ideas not only in the Muslim communities within the Tsarist Empire, but also beyond its borders. While the Ottoman Empire traditionally had a strong gravitational pull as the spiritual and intellectual center of Muslims, cultural and economic ties were even closer after the Russian-Ottoman War of 1877/1878, which sparked the mass migration of Russian Muslims to the Ottoman Empire.36
The renewal movement of Islam known as Jadidism, which combined the reformation of the Islamic religion with enlightened secular demands, is regarded as the precursor of a "modern" national consciousness.37 Not least due to the influence of the Crimean Tatar Ismail Gaspirali (1851‒1914), Jadidism stood for a reinforcing of the Muslim sense of togetherness through reformed Islam and the formation of a nation variously understood as Muslim, Turkish, or Pan-Turkist.38 The "imagined" nation was predominantly understood as the ancestral community of Turkic peoples, held together by the bond of ethnic and linguistic origin. Like other nationalisms, Jadidism also referred to a nation that had already existed historically, had been destroyed in the course of Russian colonization, and needed to be revived. For this purpose, a common writing and language culture had to be created first, just as the modern European cultural role models had already done by standardizing their respective languages.39 In the newspaper Tercüman ("Translator", 1883-1918), published by Gaspirali, the linguistic aspect of national identity was a primary focus. From this standpoint, the cultural self-determination of the Turkic peoples was only possible within the framework of linguistic standardization, which would then entail the "unity in language, thought and action" ("dilde, fikirde ve işte birlik") of the Turkic peoples.40 Gaspirali envisioned an all-Turkish language, which would be spoken from the "Crimea to , from Constantinople to " by all "Turks", by the educated as much as by the common people.41 The newly created Turkic language needed to be purified both of the ornamental components of Ottoman-Turkish and of Russian language elements and thus contribute to a better understanding of the Muslims of Russia and the Ottoman Empire.42 Until the Russian revolutionary year of 1905, the newspaper Tercüman became the most important organ of the Tatar nationalists as well as of the Jadidist language reform. It also met with great approval among the elites in the Ottoman Empire.
The idea of national self-determination as a discourse of progress spread by the Jadidists exerted influence on the Muslim intelligentsia of the Russian Empire beyond regional and national borders. For them and, with a postponement also for the Ottoman elites at the turn of the century, the European concept of the nation was seen as an indicator of modernity and progress. Depending on the region, historical period, and reform milieu, Jadidism was interpreted as Islamism, Turkism or Pan-Turkism. But unlike Pan-Turkism, which shared the secular-nationalist assumptions with Jadidism, the latter did not see any political demand to detach from the Russian Empire.43
The Volga and Crimean Tatars became pioneers of the national current not least because of the impulses emanating from Jadidism.44 In the last decades of the 19th century, political circles formed here with Pan-Turkist, Tatar national, Pan-Islamic, socialistic and liberal tendencies. Similar developments were also witnessed among the Azeris, who were linguistically more closely related to the Turks of the Ottoman Empire. Here, too, Pan-Islamic and Pan-Turkist movements found supporters who were in competition with the liberals and socialists. Pan-Islamic and Pan-Turkist ideas, on the other hand, were not mutually exclusive, but sometimes reinforced each other. As a Turk, one was generally also Muslim at the same time. Under Pan-Turkist influences, however, the point of view increasingly narrowed until Islamic history, geography, language and, finally, Islam itself came to have a "Turkish" connotation.45 The protagonists of the Turkish and Pan-Turkist currents, which were generally synonymous during this period, found their inspiration in the early works of European and Russian Oriental Studies and Turkology outlined above. They contributed considerably to giving the bourgeoning movement a scientific aura and to situating the national ideology historically. The Turkological picture of the racial and ethnic origin of the Turks, the stylization of their language and customs, and the myth of the common Turkic descent of all Turkic peoples provided powerful arguments for the Pan-Turkist activists.
One of the first to formulate the political program of Pan-Turkism was the Azerbaijani Ali Bäy Hüseynzadä (Turan) (1864‒1940). Hüseynzadä had studied medicine in , where, like most of his fellow students, he became inspired by Pan-Slavism and socialism. In the 1890s, he continued his studies in Constantinople and joined the Young Turkish secret society "İttihad-ı Osmani Cemiyeti" ("Committee of the Ottoman Union"). He took part in the Greco-Turkish War (1897) and returned afterwards to to become one of the leaders of the nationalist movement and to promote the unification of the Transcaucasian Turkic peoples with the Ottoman Empire.46 Hüseynzadä was the transnational propagandist of the Pan-Turkist movement, and his thinking was based on a secular-positivist world view. History from this perspective was understood as a development process and the nation state as the highest stage of development. The national idea was seen as the engine of progress, for only nation-conscious societies could have produced European civilization. With the slogan "Turkization, Islamization, Europeanization" ("Türkleştirmek, İslamlaştırmak, Avrupalılaştırmak"), Hüseynzadä articulated the ideological thrust beyond the borders of the Russian Empire, which became the basis of the all-Turkish movement. Not least, he inspired the theories of Ziya Gökalp, the later ideologist of Turkish nationalism.47
Under these conditions Yusuf Akçura (1876‒ca. 1935), an intellectual and politician of Kasan-Tartar origin, became a symbolic figure of Pan-Turkism, which was familiar in Russia and in the and in .48 In 1904, Akçura wrote the essay Üç tarz-ı siyaset ("Three Ways of Politics"), which was published in . Although it was initially ignored by the Ottoman public, it became the manifesto of the Pan-Turkist movement after the Young Turk Revolution of 1908.49 In the essay, Akçura settled accounts with the official state ideology of the Ottoman Empire (Ottomanism, Pan-Islamism) and saw the only possibility for the continued existence of the Ottoman Empire in the unification of all Turkic peoples. Before the Russian Revolution of 1905,50 he returned to Kazan, where he became one of the leaders of the national movement of the Kazan Tatars and co-organized the all-Islamic union "İttifak". Akçura was elected to the parliament (Duma), which was convened for the first time in Russia. In Kazan, he published the newspaper Kazan Muhbiri ("Kazan Correspondent", 1905‒1911).51 After the end of the Russian "Spring of Nations" and the resurgence of autocracy, Akçura emigrated to Constantinople in 1907, where he published the magazine Türk Yurdu ("Home of the Turks"),52 the most important organ of Pan-Turkist propaganda. He also founded the "Society of Tatar Emigrants", the "Society of Students from Russia", the "Society of Crimean Students" and the "Bukharic Charity". Together with other emigrants from Russia, he was also involved in the founding of the association "Türk Derneği" ("Turkish Association"), which, in addition to reforming the Turkish language, sought to awaken a sense of solidarity among the Turkic peoples.53
Political liberalization after the Russian Revolution of 1905 came to an abrupt end with the coup d'état of 1907. Both Pan-Turkist and national movements, with or without political demands for unification with the Ottoman Empire, were now subject to persecution and repression. Like Yusuf Akçura, politicians and intellectuals such as Ahmet Ağaoğlu (1869‒1939),54 Sadri Maksudi Arsal (1880‒1957), Resulzade Mehmet Emin (1884‒1954) and Ahmed Zeki Velidi Togan (1890‒1970), to name just a few of the prominent names, emigrated to the Ottoman Empire. Under the auspices of Pan-Turkism, they helped nationalism, understood as a guarantor of progress, to become more popular there.55 The focus of Pan-Turkism thus shifted from the Tsarist Empire to the Ottoman Empire.
Pan-Turkist movement in the Ottoman Empire
The Russian-Turkish intelligentsia was represented from the outset in the opposition movement of the Young Turks ("Committee for Unity and Progress", KEF), which had formed against the absolutist regime of Sultan Abdülhamid II. After the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, the all-Turkish idea gained more and more traction – albeit initially mostly in cultural terms, since the Pan-Turkist ideas met with reservations even at the KEF. At first, Akçura's treatise Üç tarz-ı siyaset received no notice in Ottoman politics or by the public. Pan-Turkist ideas were generally rejected by supporters of the ancien régime and a large part of the public, especially from a (Pan-)Islamic perspective.56
Pan-Turkism found an enthusiastic evangelist in Ziya Gökalp, who gathered around himself a group of disciples with the magazine Yeni Kalemler ("Young Pens"). Founded in Thessaloniki, its aim was to propagate the "new ideal" of the all-Turkish idea. In Gaspirali's sense, the journal promoted a cleansing of the Turkish language from Arabic and Persian elements and proclaimed a new literature and culture "which were to be based solely on the ancient Turkish tradition".57 Inspired by Western Oriental Studies and Turkology and endorsed by the emigrants from Russia, Gökalp created a national myth of the "imagined" common origin of the Turkic peoples from "Turan". In his poem "Turan", Gökalp thus wrote: "Vatan ne Türkiye'dir Türklere ne Türkistan - Vatan büyük ve müebbet bir ülkedir: Turan".58
The "Turkish ideal" according to Gökalp envisaged a synthesis of ethno-nationalism, modernized Islam, and European progress. Like his fellow Russians, Gökalp dreamed of a vast Turkish empire stretching from Constantinople to Attila (d. 453), Genghis Khan, and Timur (1336‒1405). The "red apple" was regarded as a symbol of the world-power aspirations of the (Pan)-Turkists.59, which would revive the ancient splendor of the rulers
The defeats of the Ottoman Empire in the Tripoli War (1911) and the Balkan War (1912) gave political Pan-Turkism a boost. After the Balkan Wars 1912/1913, the multi-ethnic empire had to forfeit its European possessions, except for 60 The uprising of the Muslim Albanians (1912) and several uprisings in and ( ) also shook the faith in the umma (community of Muslims), which supposedly stood above all nationalisms. Previously, Russia's defeat in the Japanese-Russian War (1905) had shown that the arch enemy was not invincible. The Young Turkish Committee for Unity and Progress, which had been the sole government since the coup d´état of 1913, continued to be committed to defending the unity of the still multi-ethnic and multi-denominational empire for pragmatic political reasons. At the same time, though, it took radical measures to Turkize the country. This was felt above all in the areas of economic, educational and settlement policy and had devastating effects on the already conflict-laden relations with non-Muslim communities. During this period, Pan-Turkist journalism flourished. The magazine Türk Yurdu ("Home of the Turks") was founded in 1911, under the direction of Yusuf Akçura. The organization "Türk Ocağı" ("Turkish Stove")61 was founded in 1912 to "awaken a sense of solidarity among Turks all over the world" and to contribute to elevating the "intellectual, social and economic level for achieving the perfection of the Turkish language and race".62. The defeats of the Ottoman armed forces were explained, among other things, by the soldiers' lack of patriotism.
After the Ottoman Empire entered the First World War on the side of the Central Powers, the day of reckoning with Russia seemed to have arrived. The realization of the Pan-Turkist visions, the "liberation of the brothers abroad", now looked like a real possibility. The Ottoman war propaganda openly called for Russia's destruction, and Gökalp proclaimed confidently in his "Red Ballad" ("Kızıl Elma Destanı"): "The enemy's land will be in ruins. Turkey will grow, it will become Turan". ("Düşmanın ülkesi viran olacak - Türkiye büyüyüp Turan olacak.")63
Tekin Alp (Moïs Cohen, 1883‒1961), a young Macedonian Turk and one of the leading Pan-Turkists, did not mince words in his propaganda text Türkler bu Muharebede Ne Kazanabilirler("What can the Turks gain from this war?", 1914),64 which also appeared in in 1915 under the German title Türkismus und Pantürkismus. He wrote that the unification of all Turkic peoples under Ottoman leadership could be realized by the destruction of the "Muscovite enemy":
If Russian despotism is overthrown by the brave German, Austrian and Turkish armies confronting it – as one may hope – thirty to forty million Turks will gain their independence. Together with ten million Ottoman Turks, the result will be a large nation of fifty million people advancing towards a great new civilization. It is perhaps comparable to the German civilization, for it will have the strength and ambition to ascend more and more.65
The disappointment was thus all the greater when, at the beginning of 1915, the Ottoman Army was crushed on the Caucasus front by Russian troops at 66 Like a number of non-Muslim exponents of nationalities in the Russian Empire, representatives of Muslim nationalists and Pan-Turkists also sought to gain support from the Central Powers or the . For example, a conference of the Volga Tatars, chaired by Yusuf Akçura, was organized to deal, among other things, with the formation of Tatar troop contingents, which were to be recruited from Tatar prisoners of war in Germany.67. Instead of the emancipation of the "tribal comrades" from the "Russian yoke", Ottoman territory was now under Russian control. In fact, Ottoman war strategy had anticipated that the Caucasian Muslims would revolt. The uprising of the Adschars (Muslim ) in December 1914, which was suppressed by Russian troops, was tied to the Ottoman policy of inflaming national separatists. However, there was no mass Caucasian insurgency.
Enver Paşa (approx. 1881–1922), Ottoman Minister of War during the First World War, is considered one of the most dogged fighters on behalf of Pan-Turkist policy. He took responsibility for the defeat of Sarıkamış and the invasion of Ottoman troops in 1918, which led to the temporary capture of Baku. Even after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the World War, Enver Paşa remained faithful to his Pan-Turkist vision. He died fighting against the Bolsheviks in 1922 during the Basmatschi Uprising in today's .68
The collapse of tsarism, however, seemed to open up utterly new opportunities. The February Revolution in Russia in 1917 was a tremendous lift to the national movements mobilized as early as 1905, which perpetuated after the October Revolution. The series of anti-Soviet uprisings and short-lived governments among Turkic peoples in Central Asia are just one aspect of national movements in the collapsed Russian Empire.69 However, the majority of the political organizations of the Muslim Turkic-speaking population adopted a moderate political course. Against the backdrop of the liberalization of nationality policy in the wake of the February Revolution, the pressing issue was less detachment from Russia than whether "cultural or territorial autonomy was preferable".70 Indeed, revolutionary Russia seemed to offer Muslims greater room to maneuver than the still-existing authoritarian Ottoman Empire. Most remarkable perhaps was the situation of the Azerbaijani Musavat Party: As the most important Pan-Turkist party in Azerbaijan during the First World War, it decided strike out on national Azerbaijani course after 1917.71
The collapse of the Ottoman Empire put an end to all the imperial Pan-Turkist dreams in one fell swoop. It is no exaggeration to say that it was accompanied by the demise of the emergent political Pan-Turkism. While it is open to debate just how strongly it had influenced the actual politics of the Young Turks, especially after 1913, it cannot be asserted – despite all the lofty rhetoric of Pan-Turkist expansion – that it became the dominant ideology. It is not surprising, therefore, that in the Turkish War of Independence (1918–1922) the idea of a Turkish nation-state involving Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) (1881‒1938)did not intend to alienate its only ally, the Bolsheviks.72 Pan-Turkist ambitions were thus rejected in the Republic of Turkey, founded in 1923. Finally, in the Second World War, the Pan-Turkist movement was briefly revived, albeit weakly. The German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 held out the promise of re-establishing a connection with the Muslims of the USSR. But after the German defeat at in 1943, these considerations were suppressed and outlawed.73 In contrast, the Turkish-national origin myth lives on to this day, which portrays "Turan" as the original home of the Turks and civilization-creating peoples like the Sumerians and Hittites as ancient Turks.74prevailed. It left no room for aspirations of cultural unity, which inevitably opposed , let alone for imperial Pan-Turkism. This was already dictated by the fact that the Turkish national movement around