The Ottoman Empire of World War 1
The Ottoman Empire came into World War I as one of the Central Powers.
The Ottoman Empire entered the war by carrying out a surprise attack on Russia’s Black Sea coast on 29 October 1914, with Russia responding by declaring war on 5 November 1914.
Ottoman forces fought the Entente in the Balkans and the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I.
The Ottoman Empire’s defeat in the war in 1918 was crucial in the eventual dissolution of the empire in 1921.
Ottoman entry into World War I was the result of two recently purchased ships of its navy, still manned by their German crews and commanded by their German admiral, carrying out the Black Sea Raid on 29 October 1914.
There were a number of factors that conspired to influence the Ottoman government and encourage them into entering the war.
The political reasons for the Ottoman Sultan’s entry into the war are disputed. and the Ottoman Empire was an agricultural state in an age of industrial warfare.
Also, the economic resources of the empire were depleted by the cost of the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913.
The reasons for the Ottoman action were not immediately clear.
The Ottoman entry into World War I began on 29 October 1914 when it launched the Black Sea Raid against Russian ports. Following the attack, Russia and its allies (Britain and France) declared war on the Ottomans in November 1914.
The Ottoman Empire started military action after three months of formal neutrality, but it had signed a secret alliance with the Central Powers in August 1914.
The great landmass of Anatolia was between the Ottoman army’s headquarters in Istanbul and many of the theatres of war.
During Abdul Hamid II’s reign, civilian communications had improved, but the road and rail network was not ready for war.
It took more than a month to reach Syria and nearly two months to reach Mesopotamia.
To reach the border with Russia, the railway ran only 60 km east of Ankara, and from there, it was 35 days to Erzurum.
The Army used Trabzon port as a logistical shortcut to the east.
It took less time to arrive at any of those fronts from London than from the Ottoman War Department because of the poor condition of Ottoman supply ships.
The empire fell into disorder with the declaration of war along with Germany.
On 11 November a conspiracy was discovered in Constantinople against Germans and the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) in which some of the CUP leaders were shot.
That followed the 12 November revolt in Adrianople against the German military mission. On 13 November, a bomb exploded in Enver Pasha’s palace, which killed five German officers but failed to kill Enver Pasha.
On 18 November there were more anti-German plots.
Committees formed around the country to rid the country of those who sided with Germany.
Army and navy officers protested against the assumption of authority by Germans.
On 4 December, widespread riots took place throughout the country.
On 13 December, an anti-war demonstration was led by women in Konak (Izmir) and Erzurum. Throughout December, the CUP dealt with a mutiny among soldiers in barracks and among naval crews.
The head of the German Military Mission, Field Marshal von der Goltz, survived a conspiracy against his life.
Military power remained firmly in the hands of War Minister Enver Pasha, domestic issues (civil matters) were under Interior Minister Talat Pasha, and, interestingly, Cemal Pasha had sole control over Ottoman Syria. Provincial governors ran their regions with differing degrees of autonomy.
An interesting case is Izmir; Rahmi Bey behaved almost as if his region was a neutral zone between the warring states.