Talaat Pasha was the son of a prominent member of the Ottoman army. His position in society allowed him to receive a top quality education. During his years at university, he became involved with an organization known as the Young Turks. This groups was opposed the despotic rule of Abdulhamid II and wanted to reinstate the Constitution of 1876.
Leading members of the group, including Talaat, formed the Young Turks’ administrative committee known as the C.U.P. (Committee for Union and Progress). The C.U.P. staged a failed coup d’etat against Sultan Abdulhamid in 1896. Later, in 1908, they staged a second successful coup, after which, the C.U.P. forced Abdulhamid to accept the Constitution and call for general parliamentary elections. Initially, Abdulhamid complied, but, in 1909, he launched an attempted counter-revolution. The C.U.P. regained control easily, and they had Abdulhamid exiled.
In 1911, C.U.P. seized dictatorial power over the empire. Talaat was appointed Interior Minister in the newly formed government. Two year later, Grand Vizier Sevket Pasha was assassinated in Istanbul. Control of the government was then transferred to a triumvirate made up of Talaat Pasha, along with War Minister Enver Pasha and Marine Minister Cemal Pasha. The actions of the triumvirate were not democratic by any means, but they did institute some positive reforms like a revamping of the judicial system and the rebuilding of the military under German supervision.
Unfortunately, it was also the triumvirate that led to the Ottomans allying themselves with the Germans and Austrians during World War I. During the war, the triumvirate supported a systematic effort to rid the empire of its Armenian minority. It is estimated that between seven hundred thousand and two million Armenians died as a result of massacres, forced deportations, and captivity in inhumane internment camps. In 1918, the triumvirate signed an armistice with the British, effectively ending the war for the Ottoman Empire. The leaders of the Triumvirate: Talaat, Enver, and Cemal all fled Istanbul following the signing of the armistice. Eventually, all of them met untimely deaths.