Yusuf Izzet (1876-1922)

Yusuf Izzet Pasha

Yusuf Izzet (Met Chunatuko Yusuf Izzet; Yusuf Izzet Pasha) (1876-1922) was a Circassian writer, activist, general of the Circassian/Caucasian diaspora in the later Ottoman Empire and early Turkish Republic. Yusuf Izzet’s family was one of the Circassian Shapsugh families that were exiled from their homeland Circassia (Northwest Caucasus) during the 1864 Circassian Exile launched by the Russian Empire. Yusuf Izzet was born in the Circassian village of Salihler founded by a community of exiled Circassians who settled in the Balkans, then under the rule of the Otoman Empire.

Yusuf Izzet’s father Chunatuko Ibrahim died when Yusuf Izzet was a little child and Yusuf Izzet grew up in great difficulties. He was educated in the Darussafaka High School in Istanbul where only orphans were accepted as students. He graduated from the Otoman Military Academy (Harb Okulu; Harb Akademisi) in 1896. He served at various commanding positions in the Ottoman  Army. He also fought in the 1911 Ottoman-Italian War, 1912 Balkan War; Caucasus Campaign of the Ottoman Army during the First World War and the 1920s Turkish War of Independence. He was only general of the Turkish Army who was personally present at the front during the critical Sakarya Battle of the Turkish War of Independence. Meanwhile he got married with Circassian woman writer Hayriye Melek Hunch in 1919 but they got divorced a while later due to the general turmoil of those years. Yusuf Izzet Pasha died of angina pectoris in Ankara on 15 April 1922 and was buried in the cemetery of the Haci Bayram Mosque with a military ceremony.[1]

Yusuf Izzet Pasha could speak Circassian, Turkish, German, French and Russian. Yusuf Izzet Pasha actively took part in the establishment and Circassian alphabet committee of the Istanbul-based Circassian Union and Solidarity Association (Çerkes İttihat ve Teavün Cemiyeti) between 1908-1911 when he was working at the Ottoman Military Chief of Staff. He also participated in the activities of the various Caucasus related organizations like Caucasus Independence Committee (Kafkasya İstiklal Komitesi), North Caucasus Political Immigrants Committee of Turkey (Türkiye’de Şimali Kafkasya Siyasi Komitesi), North Caucasus Society (Şimali Kafkasya Cemiyeti), Circassian Women’ Solidarity Society (Çerkes Kadınları Teavün Cemiyeti) between 1915-1919. He wrote articles for the Circassian journals named Guaze (“Guide”; 1914-1920) and Diyane (“Our Mother”, 1920). Some of his historical theses are quite debatable by today’s academic standards but his written works still contributed to the Circassian related studies. Yusuf Izzet Pasha could manage to write many of his articles when he was under active duty at the military campaigns.[2]

Yusuf Izzet Pasha’s main works are History of Caucasus (Tarih-ul Kafkas; published in Istanbul); Ancient Caucasus and Caucasian Bosphorus (Bosphorian Cimmerian) Government and Abkhazia (Istanbul 1918); The Serake or the Circassians in the Ancient Thrace (Istanbul 1918). His History of Caucasus (Tarih-ul Kafkas) was translated by Abdulhamid Galib Husht (Hust) from Turkish into Arabic and got published in Cairo, Egypt and Amman, Jordan. The book was also translated into Russian. Between 1915-1918, Yusuf Izzet Pasha also published the following texts as separate works under the general title of “The Documents I Have Found: Contributions to the Caucasus History” (Evrika'larım Yani Bulduklarım-Kafkas Tarihi'ne Zeyl): Whose ancestors are the Hittites? ("Hititler Hangi Milletin Ecdadıdırlar"); Who is Homeros?: Ancient Circassians in Iliad, Odysseia and Ancient Greece ("Homer Kimdir? İlyada ve Odise'de ve Kadim Yunanistan'da Çerkesler"); Famous Amazonians, that is the Warrior Women, are belong the Circassian Nation (Meşhur Amazonlar Yani Cengâver Kadınlar Çerkes Milletindendirler"); Circassian Who Lived in the Various Parts of the Ancient Europe ("Elyevm Avrupa'nın Cihet-i Muhtelifesinde Sâkin Çerkesler"); Racial Relations with the Circassian Nation with the Ancient Celts and Additionally the Ancient Peoples of France, Belgium and partly Austria, Italy, Scotland, England and Iceland ("Çerkes Milletinin Kadim Keltler Binaenaleyh Fransa Belçika ile, Kısmen Avusturya İtalya İskoçya İngiltere ve İzlanda Ahali-i Asliyesiyle Irken Münasebeti”).[3]



[1] Sefer E.Berzeg, Kafkasya Diasporası’nda Edebiyatçılar Ve Yazarlar Sözlüğü; Yusuf İzzet Paşa, http://tr.kafpedia.org/index.php?title=Met_Yusuf_%C4%B0zzet_Pa%C5%9Fa.

[2] Sefer E.Berzeg, Kafkasya Diasporası’nda Edebiyatçılar Ve Yazarlar Sözlüğü; Yusuf İzzet Paşa, http://tr.kafpedia.org/index.php?title=Met_Yusuf_%C4%B0zzet_Pa%C5%9Fa.

[3] Sefer E.Berzeg, Kafkasya Diasporası’nda Edebiyatçılar Ve Yazarlar Sözlüğü; Yusuf İzzet Paşa, http://tr.kafpedia.org/index.php?title=Met_Yusuf_%C4%B0zzet_Pa%C5%9Fa

Books (in Turkish);

- Kafkas Tarihi (1914, Original Edition) 2002, Ankara - KAFDAV
- Kafkas Tarihi II (Evrikalarım-Bulduklarım), 2009, Ankara - KAFDAV