WORLD WAR I ARMENIAN GENOCIDE 171
Both Nazim and Sakir had received their medical education in Istanbul, with Nazimgetting additional training in Paris where, as political exiles, the two doctors were preparingthe ground to overthrow the regime of Abdul Hamid. They helped precipitate the YoungTurk revolution in 1908, and thereafter became permanent fixtures in the leadership of theparty. They achieved their positions of decisive power in the 1912-18 period, during whichtime they exercised their authority from behind the scenes (except for three months duringwhich Dr. Nazim served as Minister of Education). During the post-revolutionaryperiod,Dr.Nazim briefly served as Chief Physician at Soloniki Municipal Hospital, while Dr. §akir wasProfessor of Legal (Ethical) Medicine at Istanbul Medical School.In the pre- and post-revolutionary period, they had acquired considerable expenencein forging the Ittihad party into an instrument for the homogenization of Turkey, resolutelycombatting various nationalities of the Empire who resisted assimilation and sought topreserve their ethnic identity. That cumulative experience has a bearing upon theconception, organization and implementation of a scheme of wartime genocide aimed atthe Armenians, whose selection as a target for comprehensive destruction was influencedby several factors. These included a history of protracted Turko-Armenian conflict,including episodic Turkish massacres, the demographic vulnerability of the Armenianpopulation and the progressive dismantling of the Empire through a series of armedstruggles as a result of which a host of nationalities, aided by European powers, extricatedthemselves from Ottoman oppression. As one student of the period observed, by 1913 'theAlbanians, Greeks and Slavs' were no longer subject nationalities: 'only the Armeniansand Arabs remained'.
The sway of the pan-Turanist strain in Turkish nationalism, seekingto unify all Turkic peoples under Ottoman rule, somewhat eclipsed the pan-Islamic aspectof it. This prompted the Ittihadists to focus their attention on eastern Turkey, the Caucasusand beyond, and relegate Arabistan to relative insignificance. Armenians in this respectwere the hated roadblock, and the absence of a parent state to intervene on their behalfrendered them even more vulnerable.As the proceedings of the 1919-20 Turkish courts-martial revealed, these two doctorsplayed a pivotal role in the formation, deployment and direction of the Special Organizationunits, the key, lethal instrument in the destruction of the Armenians. Its ranks were filledalmost entirely by 'bloodthirsty murderers', criminals who through special dispensation,issuing jointly from the Ministries of Justice and the Interior, were released from the manyprisons of the Empire and were organized into killer units consisting of fifty to two hundredmen each under the label of 'cete', denoting a combination of roles associated withvolunteers and brigands. They were led by a special group of officers who were graduatesof the Ottoman War Academy.
The series of indictments and verdicts by the Turkish Military Tribunal emphasize thispivotal role played by the two doctors. The key indictment read in court on 28 Apnl 1919,cites Dr. Nazim eight times, seven of which portray him as a principal organizer of theSpecial Organization killer units.
Though many of these units initially were employed asguerillas against Russia on the Caucasian border regions, the court maintained in theidictment that "these cnminals and outlaws' were mainly organized for 'massacring anddestroying the deportee convoys' of the Armenians and that other claims were pretences'used to deceive gullible people'. The indictment cites a 15 July 1915 cable from theGovernor or Erzurum province describing the 'gendarmes and brigands operating underthe name of Special Organization' as perpetrators of 'assaults and attacks'.
The eighthreference to Dr. Nazim clearly cites him as one of the ultimate decision-makers andarchitects of the genocide. He is quoted as saying that the anti-Armenian measures were