Who Was Emmanuel Carasso?

His name is also spelled as Emmanuel Karasu, Emanüel Karasu, Karaso, Karassu, Karasso. I guess that this is so because he was born decades before the introduction of the Latin alphabet in Turkey. These are some basic (and very incomplete) biographical facts about Emmanuel Carasso:

- He was born in 1862.

- He originally was a lawyer in Thessaloniki in the late 19th century, when that part of Greece was still part of the Osman Empire.

- He was a Sephardic Jew.

- He also was a Freemason, a distinguished member of the lodge "Macedonia Rissorta" in Thessaloniki (founded in 1864 by the lodge "Italia" of Istanbul). It may be interesting to mention that Prime Minister Talat Pasha (1917-1918) was also a member of Karasu's lodge.

- He was one of the founders of the "Young Turks" movement in the 1890s.

- He was a member of the three-men delegation that announced his dethronement to Sultan Abdülhamid II after the counter-coup of April 1909.

- Before 1918, he was a deputy for Thessaloniki in the Turkish parliament for the Party of Union and Progress.

- He organized a conference of all Jewish organizations of Turkey on 1 November 1918 in Istanbul; at that conference, the "National Council of the Jewish Community of Turkey" was founded.

- He died in 1934.

This is an abstract of the relevant parts of an English text [1] that mentions Karasu several times:

"Salonika was also a city in which there were Freemason lodges. Emmanuel Carasso (or Karasu), a Jewish lawyer, had founded an Italian Freemason lodge in which he apparently allowed Talaat's secret society to meet when it was in hiding from the Sultan's secret police. Fitz Maurice concluded that the C.U.P. (Committee of Union and Progress) was a Latin-influenced international Jewish Freemason conspiracy; and Lowther duly reported this to the Foreign Office in London. Lowther referred to the C.U.P. as "the Jew Committee of Union and Progress." (...) In his report, Lowther pointed out that "liberte, egalite, fratenilite'' (liberty, equality, fraternity), words drawn from the French Revolution, were both the slogan of the Italian Freemasons (hence Karasu's lodge) and of the Young Turkey movement. (...) However, when the 288-man Ottoman Parliament was elected in 1908, only four Jews were elected to it, and when the C.U.P. created a Central Committee in 1909, Karasu was not elected to membership on it, nor did he ever rise to a leadership position either in the party or in the government; he was never the influential figure that foreigners supposed him to be. As deputies in Parliament, Karasu and the three other Jews bent over backwards to prove that they were Turks first and Jews only second; indeed, they supported the C.U.P.'s measures against Zionist settlement in Palestine. [Karasu, however, did attempt at various times to reconcile the aims of Zionism with those of C.U.P. nationalism.]"

If Emmanuel Carasso (Karasu), who obviously played a relatively important role in Turkish politics between the 1890s and 1919, was confused with a Turkish Prime Minister, this certainly happened because of his connection with Mehmed Talat Pasha.


Editor: More information about this very influential person named Emmanuel Carasso will be posted on this page.