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Why didn't the Ottoman Empire remain neutral in WW1?

Why didn't the Ottoman Empire remain neutral in WW1?

From reading the web, I understand that the Empire was in a terrible state. This was the result of several decades of losing battles, nationalistic uprisings, and opposition to reform that resulted in the Ottoman Empire being the original reference of the "Sick man of Europe". Sultan Mehmed V knew this and wanted to remain neutral as there was little possibility for a largely agrarian society to triumph over industrialized powers.

However, for some reason, Mehmed's advisors wanted them to join the war. As a result of pressure from them, Mehmed eventually relented. This really confuses me, as there seems no reason for the Sultan to agree, or for his advisors to want a war when their position was so weak. Apprently they had lost many of their weapons in the Balkan wars a year earlier and were unable to replenish them.

Could someone provide more color on this?

EDIT: I've already read the wiki page, but it only says that they couldn't remain neutral, not why. Looking at the map, I doubt the central powers would have wanted to open another front when they are already surrounded. Considering that Russia's military was poorly armed at the time, I believe they would have preferred to focus on fighting the Germans.


First and foremost, the dire situation of the Ottoman Empire was not a reason not to join the war, but mostly a cause for joining it.

The Ottoman Empire entered the war due to their attack against the Russian fleet, but that attack was not decided by the Government as a whole but by a faction of officers. If the Government had had complete control over the military, it could have stopped them. The weakness of the Government allowed the pro-war faction to throw the Empire into the war.

Now, apart from this technicality, let's try to see the rationale1 of that faction:

  • The Ottoman Empire did not need totriumph over industrialized powers. It only needed to help some industrialized powers (Germany) to win over others (France, UK, Russia)2. Note that even smaller powers (Bulgaria, Romania) joined the war when it looked like the tide was favorable.

  • Since the Crimean War, the Ottoman Empire had kept its independence (even at the cost of most of the European part of it) due to the balance of power in Europe. The war was going to shatter that balance of power, and the Empire was still too weak to resist whoever would win the war if they wanted to take over the straits (Russia) or take away Irak or Palestine (UK) or worse. Neutrality had its own risks, too.

  • About which side to chose, it was pretty clear.

    • For centuries Russia had been pushing for an exit to the Mediterranean through the Bosphorus; in the past France and (mainly) the UK had countered that as part of the Big Game but now they were together with Russia.

    • The UK supported Egypt, who was a former Ottoman province, and also had a foothold in Kuwait.

    • OTOH, neither Germany nor Austria-Hungary had any objective that affected the Ottoman Empire (being focused in Russia and English and French colonies). And relationships with Germany were good due to economical and military interchanges.

    • In Autumn 1914, the Germans had severely beaten the Russians at Masurian Lakes and Tannenberg, and occupied a significant portion of the most industrialized regions of France. The "this war will be over by Christmas" motto was still believed and German victory seemed to be, if not imminent, very probable.

And, to be fair, the Ottoman Empire did not did that bad itself. While some of them were helped by the overconfidence of Entente officers and politicians, the Ottoman did inflict some severe defeats to their enemies (Gallipoli, Kut). It did lose some ground to the Russian and British armies, but kept fighting and resisting almost until the end of the war.


1 There are often other motives (like internal politics), not all of them completely rational (personal and organizational rivalries, prejudices, etc.) that can also influence decision making, but those are harder to pinpoint.

2 As Mussolini said when he declared war on France and UK despite being completely unprepared: "I only need a few thousand dead so that I can sit at the peace conference as a man who has fought." And, if you are in the winning side, that is not as absurd as it sounds (Romania was completely defeated yet it was later awarded large territorial gains).


Machiavelli opined in "The Prince" that if there were two powerful combatants, and you didn't join one of them, you would end up the "prey of the victor." If you pick a side and it wins, you will share in the spoils. If your side loses, "you become companions of a defeated fortune that may rise again." More to the point, Turkey was strategically placed, being able to offer or deny access to Russia via the Dardanelles, and that was all the "weapon" she needed.

When war broke out, with the British and the Russians on the same side, Turkey was torn between her historical friendliness toward Britain and her traditional hatred toward Russia. It was basically neutral toward Germany, and had a distrust of the Austrians and the Italians. But Italy dishonored its alliance with Germany (and later joined the British side), and Austria was fighting the Russians, and sometimes "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

The Germans looked like they were winning, when Turkey entered the war in late October, 1914. They had raced across northern France before being stopped at the gates of Paris. In the east, they had just slaughtered two Russian armies near Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes.

The "last straw" affected the Turkish navy, which had heretofore been pro-British because it used mainly British built ships. A naval minister named Winston Churchill held back two battleships, purchased by Turkey, for Britain's own use. The Germans sent two smaller ships, one of them a battlecruiser, escaped from Austrian ports, across the Mediterranean to Constantinople, and made them a gift to the Turks for use against the Russians in the Black Sea. This last act swung public opinion to the side of Germans, and caused Turkey to enter the war on Germany's side.


Ottoman Empire in World War I

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 1922.


Why wasn't Constantinople returned to Greece after the Ottoman Empire lost WW1?

Land changes were typically the result of major wars, especially this one. And considering that Greece was supportive of the Allies, why did they not try to regain control of the city after WW1? Did they ever lobby hard to attempt to get it in the treaty? What other factors were at play with land changes when considering Greece at the end of the war?

They tried getting a larger chunk of Turkey, but were beaten by the Turks in the Turkish War of Independence following WWI. A new treaty was put in place and the modern borders were established. IIRC, there was also a large population transfer where ethnic Greeks and Turks were swapped between the countries.

yea 1927 population exchange, millions of people migrated

Constantinople was made into a demilitarised “neutral” zone under the nominal supervision of the Entente, but in reality mostly just the British. Since the city was so important for control of the Bosporus Strait and the Black Sea, and most notably to the British all of the trade and commerce in the region, they considered it too risky to give control of the city to any one country.

Also, Greece was not exactly the most willing or enthusiastic member of the Entente. They were originally neutral and wanted to remain so, and they refused to aid the Entente in the Dardanelles campaign in 1915. Nobody felt like going out of their way to reward them with such a great prize as Constantinople.

Just to add a little to the comments about Greece during the First World War: the situation was complex. The Greek King Constantine was sympathetic to the Central Powers. He had been educated in Germany and was the Kaiser's brother-in-law. The Greek Prime Minister, Venizelos, favored the Entente and wished to join them at the start of the war. However King Constantine insisted that Greece remain neutral unless attacked by Turkey.

In 1915 Venizelos acceded to Entente requests that Greece help in the Dardanelles Campaign and aid them in supporting Serbia. However the king refused to go along and demanded the prime minister resign. A pro-royalist government took over but Venizelos won the following election on a pro-intervention platform. King Constantine took his time before asking Venizelos to form a government.

Later in the year a new crisis arose. Bulgaria was preparing to enter the war against Serbia. Greece was bound by treaty to aid Serbia in such an event, which Venizelos confirmed. King Constantine objected so strongly that Venizelos resigned and the king once again relied on pro-royalist politicians to form an administration, but was unable to prevent Britain and France from occupying Salonika, although not in time to prevent Serbia from being overrun by her enemies.

Greece now entered a period of political instability and virtual civil war. Constantine by now was openly pro-German and Venizelos formed a provisional government and began raising an army of his own. Tensions rose between the royalists and the Allied powers, who in mid-1917 forced Constantine to abdicate and go into exile.

Tensions between the pro- and anti-royalist forces remained but the Venizelos forces were expanded and took part in the 1918 final offensive on the Salonika Front that knocked Bulgaria out of the war.

This has just been a thumbnail sketch but hopefully gives some clues as to why the Allies would have hesitated to putting such a strategic location in the hands of such a tumultuous country, even if at the end the Greeks had managed to have pick the winning side in the war.


WI: both Italy and Ottoman Turkey remain neutral in WWI -- who benefits the most?

Not sure. Neither Austria-Hungary nor Russia will pull off most of their men. As long as the straits are open the Russians have some advantage. But if Germany keeps kicking them the Central Powers will likely win.

By the way, no Ottoman Empire means no Bulgaria among the Central Powers. The Bulgarians wanted to avoid a new war with the Ottoman Empire at all cost, which is really likely to happen over Western Thrace. If Bulgaria still joins the Central Powers one can be sure the Ottoman Empire joins the Entente.

Aphrodite

The Americans supplied Japan with Russian gauge locomotives during the Manchurian war. They have 30 months before the Feb Revolution, more than enough time

Importing through the Straits would shorten the lines considerably compared to Archangel and Vladivostok

The Russians had gold coming out the wazoo. About 2 billion rubles in reserves. They could also borrow using the Anglo-french method

A locomotive cost about 15,000 rubles. They had about 20000 on hand before the war so doubling them would only cost 300 million

Most of Italy's supplies were imports paid for by the British and French. No reason they don't send them onto Russia

MrHappy

Now I'm just throwing it out there because its been a while since I looked into this but I thought that Russia's inability to keep it's army and populace adequately armed and fed respectively was because of its logistical system which lacked the capability to do both and was thus overwhelmed and not as a result of not having enough supplies, it was a matter of getting those supplies it produced to the right places in a timely manner.

Now I'm not arguing that having the straits open wouldn't be a boon to the Russian Empire, but I wonder if it would have as big an impact as some are suggesting. especially with an Austria that didn't have to focus on three fronts.

ArtosStark

RMcD94

Deleted member 94680

Oberdada

GuildedAgeNostalgia

Bob in Pittsburgh

MrHappy

500K troops? Would/Could lack of winter gear and/or trench warfare materials be explinations? Both of those problems, though, would seem to be very short term impediments.

Yet I've also seen numerous photgraphs of BEF soliders, in France, obviously from the far corners of the Commonwealth, including from the Indian subcontinent. And just this morning (as I researched the "Russian rail" issue) I came across a pic of an ethnic Chinese railway unit unloading a railcar in France as part of the BEF. So some Indian Army units obviously made the trip. Perhaps this is a good topic for a seperate line of discussion.

Xsampa

ArtosStark

500K troops? Would/Could lack of winter gear and/or trench warfare materials be explinations? Both of those problems, though, would seem to be very short term impediments.

Yet I've also seen numerous photgraphs of BEF soliders, in France, obviously from the far corners of the Commonwealth, including from the Indian subcontinent. And just this morning (as I researched the "Russian rail" issue) I came across a pic of an ethnic Chinese railway unit unloading a railcar in France as part of the BEF. So some Indian Army units obviously made the trip. Perhaps this is a good topic for a seperate line of discussion.

The Indian Army could, and did, supply troops to the Western Front. However, there was a reason that they were not there for the whole war. The attrition rate in the trenches was considerable and the replacement system was less than ideal. In the case of the Indian troops, this caused problems. Indian Army units were often culturally and sometimes geographically segregated. Yet the replacements that were brought in were often taken from any unit that could spare them. Indian Army Officers were expected to know their troops and often spoke the language and understood their customs. But the Officer replacements were usually pulled from the closest source (Britain) and had little connection or understanding of the troops under their command. This combined to destroy the units moral. They were also not as familiar with the equipment, as they were only issued Lee-Enfields for the first time when they arrived in France and had almost no attached artillery and little cold weather clothing. They were withdrawn from the front in October 1915. Though the Cavalry units were retained behind the lines to be ready for the breakthrough that was definitely coming. They would occasionally be deployed as infantry but because of their mounted nature each division could only cover a brigade sized portion of front.

All of these issues probably could have been dealt with given proper attention but considering how long the British replacement system took to get up to steam it probably would have taken a while for the Indian one to be noticed.

Coulsdon Eagle

The Indian Army could, and did, supply troops to the Western Front. However, there was a reason that they were not there for the whole war. The attrition rate in the trenches was considerable and the replacement system was less than ideal. In the case of the Indian troops, this caused problems. Indian Army units were often culturally and sometimes geographically segregated. Yet the replacements that were brought in were often taken from any unit that could spare them. Indian Army Officers were expected to know their troops and often spoke the language and understood their customs. But the Officer replacements were usually pulled from the closest source (Britain) and had little connection or understanding of the troops under their command. This combined to destroy the units moral. They were also not as familiar with the equipment, as they were only issued Lee-Enfields for the first time when they arrived in France and had almost no attached artillery and little cold weather clothing. They were withdrawn from the front in October 1915. Though the Cavalry units were retained behind the lines to be ready for the breakthrough that was definitely coming. They would occasionally be deployed as infantry but because of their mounted nature each division could only cover a brigade sized portion of front.

All of these issues probably could have been dealt with given proper attention but considering how long the British replacement system took to get up to steam it probably would have taken a while for the Indian one to be noticed.

  1. The dietary requirements of Indian troops were very different to those from the British Isles, in part for religious reasons, but also different staple foods - so you add a second, even third, different strand of supplies to come over the Channel, which may to be sourced from the Empire's further reaches anyway, like rice.
  2. If you think #1) is pandering too much to the troops, and they can all eat the same as the rest of the Empire's troops without difficulty, then you've obviously never heard of the Indian Mutiny of 1857! Setting aside the issue of military discipline, the Indian Army entered into a covenant with its troops (much as the British Army did), and failure to observe the men's religious beliefs would be a serious matter.
  3. IIRC certainly the start of the Mesopotamian campaign was run by the Indian Government i.e. the Governor-General - in part because of the supply situation. I'm not sure where or when the dividing line was drawn (or removed).

Naraic

I fully believe the Indian Army could operate on the Western Front but it would be a complication.

In our timeline it was easier not to worry about as there was another front. In a world where the Ottomans were neutral they would have managed it.

There was a few things they would need to do. Supply of foods, organisation and reinforcements. It wouldn't be smooth but they would have managed eventually.

ArtosStark

IIRC the line was around Baghdad. Mesopotamia was handled mostly by Indian Expeditionary Force D, While Europe was IEF A. And the theater commanders initially answered to the head of the Indian Army, not the War Office. Though I believe after the fall of Kut the War Office took a much more active interest.

Lucius Verus

  1. The dietary requirements of Indian troops were very different to those from the British Isles, in part for religious reasons, but also different staple foods - so you add a second, even third, different strand of supplies to come over the Channel, which may to be sourced from the Empire's further reaches anyway, like rice.
  2. If you think #1) is pandering too much to the troops, and they can all eat the same as the rest of the Empire's troops without difficulty, then you've obviously never heard of the Indian Mutiny of 1857! Setting aside the issue of military discipline, the Indian Army entered into a covenant with its troops (much as the British Army did), and failure to observe the men's religious beliefs would be a serious matter.
  3. IIRC certainly the start of the Mesopotamian campaign was run by the Indian Government i.e. the Governor-General - in part because of the supply situation. I'm not sure where or when the dividing line was drawn (or removed).

You're overlooking a huge reason they sent them back, it wouldn't do to have mere Indians fight alongside the BEF like they did during 1915 comprising of 1/3 of its numbers as equals to a white man. Why they might think themselves capable of ruling themselves instead of our benevolent incompetent and lucrative British rule, you make it sound like it was just the inability to produce Halal food while ignoring the real grievances of the Indians from being impoverished and shackled by the British.

I fully believe the Indian Army could operate on the Western Front but it would be a complication.

In our timeline it was easier not to worry about as there was another front. In a world where the Ottomans were neutral they would have managed it.

There was a few things they would need to do. Supply of foods, organisation and reinforcements. It wouldn't be smooth but they would have managed eventually.

They did, they just went out of the way not to train, equip or deploy them effectively.

"Indian Expeditionary Force A of 150,000 landed in Marsailes on 30 September 1914, only six weeks after the declaration of war, they were moved to the Ypres Salient and took part in the Battle of La Bassée in October 1914. In March 1915, the 7th Meerut Division (chosen from a martial "race", god forbid the British recruited from the whole of India instead of just an ethnicity that fit their racist logic) was chosen to lead the assault in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. The Expeditionary Force was hampered by a lack of familiarity with new equipment (by design, least they think themselves equals and familiarize themselves with advanced weapons to revolt), only being issued Lee–Enfield rifles on their arrival in France and they had almost no artillery, relying on support from their neighbouring corps when in the front line."

It was also as a matter of racist and colonial policy not to train Indian officers and instead assign them arrogant and racist British officers instead. The circular logic is that Indians aren't racially fit to lead evident by the lack of good Indian officers and British gut feelings hence they shouldn't be taught to lead and forbidden by military convention to lead by education or promotion.

Just imagine throwing away a few million potential recruits because they're a rightfully paranoid two-faced oppressor wanting to both exploit India but have it fight for them too, then under training and under equipping the 150,000 they had (and instead sending their own sons as proper white men to die instead) because they had further pretentions of promising independence to the Arabs and was also intending to backstab them after the war for oil and more colonies.

Coulsdon Eagle

You're overlooking a huge reason they sent them back, it wouldn't do to have mere Indians fight alongside the BEF like they did during 1915 comprising of 1/3 of its numbers as equals to a white man. Why they might think themselves capable of ruling themselves instead of our benevolent incompetent and lucrative British rule, you make it sound like it was just the inability to produce Halal food while ignoring the real grievances of the Indians from being impoverished and shackled by the British.


They did, they just went out of the way not to train, equip or deploy them effectively.

"Indian Expeditionary Force A of 150,000 landed in Marsailes on 30 September 1914, only six weeks after the declaration of war, they were moved to the Ypres Salient and took part in the Battle of La Bassée in October 1914. In March 1915, the 7th Meerut Division (chosen from a martial "race", god forbid the British recruited from the whole of India instead of just an ethnicity that fit their racist logic) was chosen to lead the assault in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. The Expeditionary Force was hampered by a lack of familiarity with new equipment (by design, least they think themselves equals and familiarize themselves with advanced weapons to revolt), only being issued Lee–Enfield rifles on their arrival in France and they had almost no artillery, relying on support from their neighbouring corps when in the front line."

It was also as a matter of racist and colonial policy not to train Indian officers and instead assign them arrogant and racist British officers instead. The circular logic is that Indians aren't racially fit to lead evident by the lack of good Indian officers and British gut feelings hence they shouldn't be taught to lead and forbidden by military convention to lead by education or promotion.

Just imagine throwing away a few million potential recruits because they're a rightfully paranoid two-faced oppressor wanting to both exploit India but have it fight for them too, then under training and under equipping the 150,000 they had (and instead sending their own sons as proper white men to die instead) because they had further pretentions of promising independence to the Arabs and was also intending to backstab them after the war for oil and more colonies.

You may be right that a desire to fight a "white man's" war on the Western Front played a part in the decision, although I've never read anything to support that. And the Indians did carry on fighting alongside British & ANZAC troops in Palestine & Mesopotamia.

Your final point is something I've raised before - why didn't the British use (or even plan to use) the potential manpower of a fully-mobilised India, especially when the manpower issues in late 1917 / early 1918 caused the disbandment of battalions and the reduction of brigades to 3 infantry battalions. That is when I believe the idea of training & arming so many subjects in the Raj could more realistically have seen a decision in line with your comments.


Would the Ottoman Empire still exist today if they just stayed out of WW1?

Would the Ottomans be able to build an "Ottoman" national identity to deter Arab nationalism?

Could they use Islam as a glue to unite the nation?

If they stayed out of WW1 could they have crushed the Saudis and incorporated the rest of Arabia into the empire?

Would they be a global economic super power due to the massive amount of oil in their territory?

Would would their name be if they survived to present day? Ottoman Empire still? Ottoman Republic? Islamic Ottoman Republic?

Catspoke

Much would depend on how WW1 plays out. If no war or maybe an early Entente Victory (probably likely in a no Ottoman empire in war).

Lets say Russia is intact and strong (very likely if the straits were open to trade during a short war, or if no war):

I would think a moment of crisis could occur anytime in 1916 or after, probably through the early 20s. Russia's Black Sea Fleet is now quite large, lots of new Battleships, big destroyers, new cruisers.
Russia rail net has been improved.
Russia air force is very good (had a very decent aircraft industry OTL)

a) Some incident happens in Armenia or Kurdistan.
b) The "Ottomans" react, maybe even overreacts, people are dead.
c) Russia demands intervention. Popular opinion in Europe is on their side.
d) England is not interested in Russian control of the Straits, but doesn't want to worsen relations with Russia.
e) They sketch out a deal. Russia takes all of Armenia, Kurdistan, The British pick up Palestine and Jordan and Southern Iraq. The French want in, are bought off with Syria. (basically at some point the Euro powers do a Sevres on the Ottomans).

The best Ottoman result, which you hint at, is the Euro powers remain balanced and wary. A no WW1 scenario, Germany remains strong and willing to back up the Ottomans against Russian threats. Eventually the Ottomans are strong enough to shake off outside influence (discovery of oil, completion of railways). Even in this case I would think Britain would want to keep the rest of the Arabian peninsula independent. No clue politically how long the current government would hold, but I would think any Ottoman government would want to keep the empire.

However if Germany is weakened in a lost war, the Russians almost certainly try to punk the Ottomans, the British would be wise to try and back the Ottomans but may not really be able to give the level of help necessary so may need to cut the best deal she can to secure Persian gulf oil and to move the border away from the Suez Canal.

Onkel Willie

As an alternative to the scenarios above, another interesting one would be an early Central Powers victory in 1914. After enacting something akin to the "Septemberprogramm", France and Russia are neutralized in the short term. The Berlin-Baghdad Railway is probably completed and the Germans develop oil in Mesopotamia (OTL's Iraq) in a similar way to how the British did in neighbouring Iran. While the Ottomans would be happy in the short to medium term with the oil money as it allows them to modernize, later they might want to renegotiate those concessions they granted the Germans. The question is if the Germans will let them. In the face of a revanchist Russia and/or France they might. A Russia that has experienced only a short war followed by a 1905 revolution analogue will eventually grow very strong.

As to using Islam to unify the country, they might but it would still be a fairly liberal Islam compared to the Saudis or modern Iran. I don't see them incorporating Arabia directly given British objections, but they could support the Hashemites over the Saudis (and it would be great if they succeeded). With the oil under their control, becoming a global economic power is definitely within their reach under the right circumstances. As for the name, I don't see why it would change.

Anarch King of Dipsodes

Probably not.
First, the OE as it stood in 1914 was ethnically unstable, with very large discontented populations: Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, Arabs.

Second, monarchies from that period have a poor survival rate. Of 16 European monarchies, 8 survive (one after a long interregnum). There were 11 monarchies in the Middle East and North Africa then there are 7 now. (3 were established after 1914 I'm counting the UAE as 1 monarchy.)

The Sultan in 1914 was no prize, and none of his likely successors would have been much better - that is, not inspiring any sense of traditional loyalty, even among Turks.

So the first or second major political shake-up would see the monarchy abolished and there would have been several in 105 years.

SavoyTruffle

Not to guarantee Ottoman survival or anything, but wasn't part of why the European monarchies collapsed the fact that all of the Central Powers were monarchies and internal revolutions essentially completed the job that the Entente started? And Russia had its own challenges, of course.

On the other hand, you do have monarchies that were abolished for reasons entirely unrelated to either of the world wars like Portugal and Greece.

Galba Otho Vitelius

Liqmadiqkhan

Karelian

Sendô

Gurgu

While it's true that the ottomans were very unstable since the Napoleonic wars it's also true that they were slowly trying to upgrade the state bureaucracy and management( Janissary were all killed).
A neutral ottoman empire in WW1 make the war very different:
- the German and Austrian sent a shitone of supplies to the Turks, without them they probably resist more or to do even better( Germans particularly)
-Bulgaria might stay neutral as well, they joined after Gallipoli failed thinking the German/Austrian army were stronger, without this battle they might even join the entente since Russia was pressing for a revise of the Macedonian borders. if Bulgaria joins the entente Romania will join even earlier then OTL and might even avoid it's ridiculous defeat( OTL Bulgarian troops lead by mackensen crushed them). Also Bulgaria joining the entente an Romania as well will open a small resupply line for Russia through the Alexandropolis port in the Aegean sea. Also greece stay full neutral.
-If option 2 is true than the CP are encircled, so option 1 will make only bloodier their surrender but the 2 empires are doomed so ( a very BIG) maybe both surrenders earlier ( so did Austria in 1917 and germany almost after as it was obvious the loss).

the entente victory with this options make versailles different with this events:
-No USA in the war( the war end before they join)
-France is even more arrogant so even more harsh on Germany and Austria
-no Wilson point of auto-determination or secret pact declared null

  1. Germany looses elsass-lothrigen and Saarland while all Rhine is under British/french control
  2. Bulgaria gain southern Dobruja, Pirot and 3/4 of macedonia
  3. Serbian takes Bosnia,Croatia,Montenegro and Slovenia( same event as OTL) but is forced to give Istria and a part of Dalmatia to Italy( thus not happy because want ALL of Dalmatia especially Dubrovnik now in Serbian hands. the Montenegrin Royalty is opposing even more the karadorcevic and go in exile in Bulgaria or Italy( related to both through the Savoy marriage policy)
  4. Romania takes only Transylvania and gives back Southern dobruja to Bulgaria, population transfer between northern and southern part of the region.
  5. Russia take all of Poland region including Prussia ending the war earlier delays a revolution
  6. AH explodes as OTL except the polish regions going to Russia.
  7. German colonies splitted between England,France,Belgium,Italy,Japan. Italy takes Togoland and half Namibia which trades both for full control over the African Horn( eritrea and Somalia melted). the rest is splitted as OTL.
  8. No Nations league
  1. OE is still a mess but the first reform are made up with a big rail improvement( Constantinople-Baghdad railroad completed) also small autonomy is given to each region thus lowering the instability.
  2. Italy no Vittoria mutilata so Mussolini,Balbo and friends have less support
  3. Bulgaria is facing a victory rather than a defeat and minor project as the iron mines and the railroad Sofia-Alexandropolis is completed, also the small Macedonian identity doesn't form but everyone identifies as Bulgarian
  4. Russia ethnic rebellions will happen( especially polish and now German) and the incapacity of the tsar is evident, the problem of a Heir is Faced.
  5. Germany has even worse Bitter lose and even worse economy than OTL.
  1. Third Balkan war(1919-1920). Italy and Bulgaria(with Montenegrin support) against Jugoslavia,Greece and Albania. While the Italian have and embarrassing defeat at Fiume ( a great power losing to some newly formed nation. ) the Bulgarians prove to be the Balkans Prussia by spearing quickly from macedonia towards Podgorica and crushing the Small Greek army. The Italian-Bulgarian Navy wins easily. After the Bulgarians split the war in 2 fronts and enlarging the Serbian one( now going from Montenegro to Vidin) the Yugoslavian troops are moved toward the Southern front allowing the Italians to star pushing an winning thanks to number( 1 mln against 300k). By half 1920 war is over. Roma Peace conference:
    1. Italy seizes Slovenia all Dalmatia and Albanian Protectorate( annexation in 1929) and Corfu
    2. Bulgaria seizes all the Macedonian region from greece( including Salonika)
    3. Montenegro Restored with minor gains.
    • Italy goes for a right-wing government( elected) with Balbo as Prime Minister for many years. The new Leader is Charismatic and very able thus the popular Support.New roads and Railroad are built giving work to people and fighting the wall street crisis. The Libyans gain full citizenship and a better a local governor is elected( instead of the harsh graziani),Italian is the local language while the local Religion is consented.The Italian east-Africa colony has new roads and the population forced to convert to Catholicism.With a risky move a small italian Army occupies Vatican city and definitely end the papal Temporal Power, opening the Vatican archives the document with the false creation of the donation of Constantine is found and exposed, the Pope looses all the support and hope to regain territories. Balbo focuses on recover the relations with britain( worsened in the third balkan war) and by 1935 manages to sign the enter in the allies. The airforces are greatly improved( second to britain). the fleet is the second strongest of europe and 4rth in the world( britain, USA,Japan,Italy).
    • Britain as OTL without the iraq oil
    • France was the biggest winner of the war but faced many problems as OTL the nation might stay Democratic but won't ban communism.
    • Germany is the first nation to recover from the great depression, and acts as out OTL but 1-2 year before, with the austrian anschlussh in 1935 and the sudeteland regain after some pressure.
    • The OE is finally A medium-great power in a half federal monarchy and good prosperity, the national autharchy and export demand for chromium(essential for building battleships) and the oil discovery in Iraq helped to almost avoid the recession and in the end the country is only facing the Russian pression on the Caucasian borders.
    • allies( commonwealth + italy)
    • Bulgarian non aggression pact with italy( also marriage of Boris 3 with the italian king daughter), might join allies
    • revanchism from greece/Serbia on Bulgaria-italy and a nazi like government
    • third Reich creates axis, Hungary join( Romania maybe?)

    Also the Spanish civil war will occur as OTL but if ww2 start in the same moment the 2 factions might side with each side( franco with Hitler and democrats-communist with allies, thought it would be strange for a fascist to fight alongside a commie)


    So why did they do it?

    The Ottomans had done their utmost to stay out of the war. They had tried in the run-up to war to use the Germans to fight the British and the French whilst they stayed back and picked up the pieces afterwards, but in that they failed.

    They ended up throwing in their lot with the Germans and the German price for supporting Ottoman Turkey was to get them into the war. The Germans also persuaded the Ottomans to declare a jihad, or a holy war, against their British and French enemies.


    Did the United States Want to Remain Neutral in WWI?

    The United States wanted to remain neutral during WWI because it was not a signatory to the international agreements that had drawn other nations into the conflict. Disagreements occurred over who started the war.

    The Main Players

    World War I was fought between the Allies and the Central Powers, and was fought on European soil. The Allied Forces initially consisted of Britain, Belgium, France, Serbia and Russia, and eventually totaled 18 nations, including Japan, Italy and the United States. Due to economic woes and food scarcity, as well as the rise of the Bolsheviks, Russia left the conflict two months before the U.S. joined the battle. The Central Powers were made up of the Austro-Hungarian regime, Bulgaria, Germany and the Ottoman Empire.

    American Neutrality

    American citizens largely favored neutrality for a host of reasons. At this time, America was largely made up of European immigrants who were thankful to have left what they regarded as inherent ruling deficiencies across Europe, according to The Telegraph. There were disagreements over who started the war. With nationals from both sides of the conflict now living as one nation, the United States sought to limit any political divisions that could tear the country apart. President Woodrow Wilson was elected largely because of his platform of neutrality, and he is famous for declaring the United States "impartial in thought as well as in action," as stated by Politico.

    Neutrality Hangs by a Thread

    Following a trade blockade by the British against the Germans, the latter resorted to the use of a new weapon. The German U-boat initiated surprise attacks on vessels carrying soldiers and supplies to the Allied countries. The Germans used these weapons to destroy artillery, which resulted in casualties for the Allies. Many of the targeted vessels came from neutral nations (including the United States) that were trading munitions and food supplies to the Allies. By February of 1915, Germany declared war against all ships entering the conflict area, regardless of purpose, as stated by Politico.

    The Sinking of the Lusitania

    American neutrality was pushed to its limits by the attacks on trading ships, especially after the sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania. The ocean liner was carrying 1,959 passengers, including 128 Americans, as it headed from New York to Britain. After stringent protest from the U.S., Germany apologized and promised to limit the scope of its U-boat attacks. However, this did not pan out, as the Germans then sank an Italian ship and four additional U.S. merchant ships. This led President Wilson to request a declaration of war against Germany from Congress. On April 6, 1917, Congress passed the declaration of war, with the House of Representatives voting 373 to 50 and the Senate voting 82 to six in favor, according to History.

    American Values of Freedom and Democracy Are Explored


    Contents

    Greece had emerged victorious from the 1912–1913 Balkan Wars with her territory almost doubled, but found herself in a difficult international situation. The status of the Greek-occupied eastern Aegean islands was left undetermined and the Ottoman Empire continued to claim them, leading to a naval arms race and mass expulsions of ethnic Greeks from Anatolia. In the north, the Bulgaria, defeated in the Second Balkan War, harbored plans for revenge against Greece and Serbia.

    Greece and Serbia were bound by a treaty of alliance, signed on 1 June 1913, which promised reciprocal military assistance in case of an attack by a third party, referring to Bulgaria. [1] However, in the spring and summer of 1914, Greece found itself in a confrontation with the Ottoman Empire over the status of the eastern Aegean islands, coupled with a naval race between the two countries and persecutions of the Greeks in Asia Minor. On 11 June, the Greek government issued an official protest to the Porte, threatening a breach of relations and even war if the persecutions were not stopped. On the next day, Greece requested the assistance of Serbia should matters come to a head, but on 16 June, the Serbian government replied that due to the country's exhaustion after the Balkan Wars, and the hostile stance of Albania and Bulgaria, Serbia could not committed to Greece's aid and recommended that war be avoided. [2] On 19 June 1914, the Army Staff Service, under Lt. Colonel Ioannis Metaxas, presented a study it had prepared on possible military options against Turkey. This found that the only truly decisive manoeuvre, a landing of the entire Hellenic Army in Asia Minor, was impossible due to the hostility of Bulgaria. Instead, Metaxas proposed the sudden occupation of the Gallipoli Peninsula without a prior declaration of war, along with the clearing of the Dardanelles and the occupation of Constantinople so as to force the Ottomans to negotiate. [3] However, on the previous day, the Ottoman government had suggested joint talks, and the tension eased enough for Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos and the Ottoman Grand Vizier, Said Halim Pasha, to meet in Brussels in July. [4]

    In the event, the anticipated conflict would emerge from a different quarter altogether, namely, the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on 28 June led to Austria-Hungary's declaration of war on Serbia and the outbreak of the First World War a month later on 28 July 1914. [5]

    Political considerations: Venizelos and King Constantine Edit

    Faced with the prospect of an initially localized Austro-Serbian war, the Greek leadership was unanimous that the country would remain neutral despite the mutual assistance terms of the alliance with Serbia. Greece was prepared to enter the conflict only in the event of a Bulgarian intervention, in which case the entire balance of power in the Balkans would be jeopardized. [6] Furthermore, as it quickly became evident that the conflict would not remain localized but expand to a general European war, any previous considerations by the Balkan countries were upended. This was notably the case for Greece and Romania: both had a stake in maintaining the favourable status quo in the Balkans, but their interests diverged. Thus, once Romania declared its neutrality and refused to undertake any commitments in the event of a Bulgarian attack on Serbia, Greece could not count on Romanian assistance against Bulgaria or the Ottomans, and was, in the view of Venizelos, effectively left diplomatically isolated in the region. [7]

    Furthermore, the Greek political leadership was divided in its views on the likely outcome of the war, and hence on the most appropriate Greek policy regarding the combatant coalitions. Prime Minister Venizelos believed that even if Germany and her allies in the Central Powers prevailed in Central Europe, Britain, with her naval might, would prevail at least in the Near East where Greece's interests lay. Venizelos also considered that Greece's two main rivals, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire, were likely to join the Central Powers since their interests aligned with those of Germany. The conflict with the Ottomans over the islands of the eastern Aegean, or the pogroms against the Greeks in the Ottoman Empire in particular, were fresh in his mind. Moreover, as the Ottomans were clearly drifting towards the German camp, the opportunity of joint action with the Allied Powers against them should not be missed. While for the moment Venizelos was prepared to remain neutral as the best course of action, his ultimate aim was to enter the war on the side of the Allied Powers should Bulgaria attack Serbia or should the Allies make proposals that would satisfy Greek claims. [8]

    King Constantine I on the other hand, backed by Foreign Minister Georgios Streit and the General Staff, were convinced of Germany's eventual triumph and furthermore sympathized with the German militarist political system. As Greece was highly vulnerable to the Allied navies and thus unable to openly side with the Central Powers, Constantine and his supporters argued for firm and "permanent" neutrality. [9] The thinking of Streit, the King's main political advisor on the subject, was influenced by his fear of pan-Slavism (in the first instance Bulgaria, but ultimately represented by Russia) against which Germany supposedly fought, as well as by his belief that the traditional European balance of power would not be upset by the war, leaving little room for territorial gains by Greece in the event of her participation in the conflict. In particular, and in contrast to Venizelos, Streit believed that even if they won, the Allies would respect the territorial integrity of both Austria–Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. [10]

    In addition, the King and his military advisors regarded the German army as invincible, [10] while their differences with Venizelos exposed far deeper ideological divergences in Greek society as well: Venizelos represented the middle-class, liberal parliamentary democracy that had emerged after 1909, whereas the King and his supporters represented the traditional elites. Constantine was profoundly impressed by German militarism, Streit was a major proponent of royalist and conservative ideas, while the highly influential Chief of the General Staff Metaxas—who as dictator of Greece in 1936–1941 presided over a Fascist-leaning authoritarian regime—was already toying with proto-Fascist ideas. [11]

    This disagreement became evident as early as 6 August, when Streit clashed with Venizelos and submitted his resignation. Venizelos refused to accept it so as to avoid a political crisis, while the King also urged Streit to retract it, for fear that his replacement would allow Venizelos to push the government even further towards a pro-Allied course. [9] Thus, when on 25 July the Serbian government requested Greece's aid under the terms of their alliance, Venizelos replied on 2 August that Greece would remain a friendly neutral. The Greek prime minister argued that an important clause in the alliance agreement was rendered impossible: Serbia had undertaken to provide 150,000 troops in the area of Gevgelija to guard against a Bulgarian attack. Furthermore, if Greece sent her army to fight the Austrians along the Danube, this would only incite a Bulgarian attack against both countries, which possessed insufficient forces to oppose it. [12] On the other hand, Venizelos and King Constantine were in agreement when they rejected a German demand on 27 July to join the Central Powers. [13]

    Early negotiations between Greece and the Allies Edit

    Already on 7 August, Venizelos sounded out the Allies by submitting a proposal for a Balkan block against Austria–Hungary, with wide-ranging territorial concessions and swaps between the Balkan states. The plan led nowhere, primarily due to Russian involvement in the affairs of Bulgaria and Serbia, but it did signal that Venizelos was ready to abandon the territorial status quo as long as Greek interests were safeguarded. [9] On 14 August 1914, Venizelos submitted a request to Britain, France, and Russia on their stance towards Greece, should the latter aid Serbia against Bulgaria and Turkey. This was followed on 18 August by a formal offer of alliance. Venizelos' diplomatic initiative ran contrary to the Allies' intentions at the time, which were focused on enticing Bulgaria to join their cause, even offering her territorial concessions at the expense of Serbia, Romania, and Greece. For his part, Venizelos sought to counter such Allied designs by threatening the Allied governments with resignation, an eventuality which opened up the prospect of a pro-German government in Athens. Russia, which pressed for more concessions to Bulgaria, considered her geopolitical interests best served if Greece remained neutral. In addition, a Greek entry into the war on the Allied side might also precipitate the entry of the Ottomans on the side of the Central Powers, a prospect of particular concern to the British, who feared an adverse impact on the millions of Muslim colonial subjects of the British Empire should the Ottoman caliph declare war on Britain. As a result, only Britain replied to Venizelos' offer of alliance, to the effect that as long as the Ottomans remained neutral, Greece should do the same, whereas if Turkey entered the war, Greece would be welcome as an ally. [14] [15]

    These initiatives deepened the rift between Venizelos and the camp around the King. Venizelos confidently anticipated a Bulgarian attack on Serbia either as a member of the Central Powers or independently since that would be contrary to Greek interests, Greece's entry into the war on the Allies' side was a matter of time. For the King and his advisors, however, any action hostile to Germany was to be avoided, and that included opposing any Bulgarian attack on Serbia, if that was done in alliance with Germany. [16] King Constantine and Streit considered ousting the Prime Minister, but hesitated doing so given Venizelos' considerable parliamentary majority instead, on 18 August, the same day that Venizelos submitted his proposals to the Allies, Streit resigned. [16]

    In early September, the ongoing negotiations between Greece and the Ottoman Empire were stopped, as the Ottomans drifted further towards entry into the war, despite Berlin's urging them to refrain from actions that might drive Greece into the Allied camp. [16] At the same time, Britain suggested staff talks on a possible joint attack on Turkey in the Dardanelles. The suggestion was quickly dropped, because the Allies continued insisting on concessions to Bulgaria, but precipitated a major crisis between Venizelos and the King, like the latter, against Venizelos' recommendations, refused to agree to participate in an Allied attack on the Ottomans unless Turkey attacked first. On 7 September, Venizelos submitted his resignation, along with a memorandum outlining his geopolitical considerations bowing to his Prime Minister's popularity and parliamentary support, the King rejected the resignation. [10]

    On 2 December, Serbia repeated its request for Greek assistance, which was supported by the Allied governments. Venizelos asked Metaxas for the Army Staff Service's evaluation of the situation. The opinion of the latter was that without a simultaneous entry of Romania into the war on the side of the Allies, Greece's position was too risky. Following the firm refusal of Romania to be drawn into the conflict at this time, the proposal was scuttled. [17]

    On 24 January 1915, the British offered Greece "significant territorial concessions in Asia Minor" if it would enter the war in support of Serbia, and in exchange for satisfying some of the Bulgarian territorial demands in Macedonia (Kavala, Drama, and Chrysoupolis) in exchange for Bulgarian entry into the war on the Allies' side. [18] Venizelos argued in favour of the proposal, but again the opinion of Metaxas was negative, for much the same reasons: according to Metaxas, the Austrians were likely to defeat the Serbian army before a Greek mobilization could be completed, and Bulgaria was likely to flank any Greek forces fighting against the Austrians, while a Romanian intervention would not be decisive. Metaxas judged that even if Bulgaria joined the Allies, it still would not suffice to shift the balance in Central Europe in the Allies' favour. He therefore recommended the presence of four Allied army corps in Macedonia as the minimum necessary force for any substantial aid to the Greeks and Serbs. Furthermore, he noted that a Greek entry into the war would once again expose the Greeks of Asia Minor to Turkish reprisals. [19] Venizelos rejected this report and recommended entry into the war in a memorandum to the King, provided that Bulgaria and Romania also joined the Allies. The situation changed almost immediately when a large German loan to Bulgaria, and the conclusion of a Bulgarian-Ottoman agreement for the shipment of war material through Bulgaria, became known. On 15 February, the Allies reiterated their request and even offered to send Anglo-French troops to Thessaloniki. However, the Greek government again refused, its final decision again hinging on the stance of Romania, which again decided to remain neutral. [20]

    The Gallipoli Campaign and the first resignation of Venizelos Edit

    However, in February, the Allied attack on Gallipoli began, with naval bombardments of the Ottoman forts there. [21] Venizelos decided to offer an army corps and the entire Greek fleet to assist the Allies, making an official offer on 1 March, despite the King's reservations. This caused Metaxas to resign on the next day, while meetings of the Crown Council (the King, Venizelos, and the living former prime ministers) on 3 and 5 March proved indecisive. King Constantine decided to keep the country neutral, whereupon Venizelos submitted his resignation on 6 March 1915. [22] This time it was accepted, and he was replaced by Dimitrios Gounaris, who formed his government on 10 March. [23] On 12 March, the new government suggested to the Allies its willingness to join them, under certain conditions. The Allies, however, expected a victory of Venizelos in the forthcoming elections and were in no hurry to commit themselves. Thus on 12 April, they replied to Gounaris' proposal, offering territorial compensation in vague terms the Aydin Vilayet—anything more concrete was impossible since at the same time the Allies were negotiating with Italy on her own demands in the same area—while making no mention of Greece's territorial integrity vis-a-vis Bulgaria, as Venizelos had already proven himself willing to countenance the cession of Kavala to Bulgaria. [24]

    The Liberal Party won the 12 June elections, and Venizelos again formed a government on 30 August, with the firm intention of bringing Greece into the war on the side of the Allies. [25] In the meantime, on 3 August, the British formally requested, on behalf of the Allies, the cession of Kavala to Bulgaria this was rejected on 12 August, before Venizelos took office. [25]

    Bulgaria and Greece mobilize Allied landing at Thessaloniki Edit

    On 6 September, Bulgaria signed a treaty of alliance with Germany, and a few days later mobilized against Serbia. Venizelos ordered a Greek counter-mobilization on 23 September. [26] While 24 classes of men were called to arms, the mobilization proceeded with numerous difficulties and delays, as infrastructure or even military registers were lacking in the areas recently acquired during the Balkan Wars. Five army corps and 15 infantry divisions were eventually mobilized, but there were insufficient officers to man all the units, reservists tarried in presenting themselves to the recruiting stations, and there was a general lack of means of transport to bring them to their units. In the end, only the III, IV, and V Corps were assembled in Macedonia, while the divisions of I and II Corps largely remained behind in "Old Greece". Likewise, III Corps' 11th Infantry Division remained in Thessaloniki, rather than proceeding to the staging areas along the border. [27]

    As the likelihood of a Bulgarian entry into the war on the side of the Central Powers loomed larger, the Serbs requested Greek assistance in virtue of the terms of the treaty of alliance. Again, however, the issue of Serbian assistance against Bulgaria around Gevgelija was raised: even after mobilization, Greece could muster only 160,000 men against 300,000 Bulgarians. As the Serbs were too hard-pressed to divert any troops to assist Greece, on 22 September Venizelos asked the Anglo-French to assume that role. [28] The Allies gave a favourable reply on 24 September, but they did not have the 150,000 men required as a result, the King, the Army Staff Service, and large part of the opposition preferred to remain neutral until the Allies could guarantee effective support. Venizelos, however, asked the French ambassador to send Allied troops to Thessaloniki as quickly as possible, but to give a warning of 24 hours to the Greek government Greece would lodge a formal complaint at the violation of its neutrality, but then accept the fait accompli. As a result, the French 156th Division and the British 10th Division were ordered to embark from Gallipoli for Thessaloniki. [29]

    However, the Allies failed to inform Athens, leading to a tense stand-off. When the Allied warships arrived in the Thermaic Gulf on the morning of 30 September, the local Greek commander, the head of III Corps, Lt. General Konstantinos Moschopoulos, unaware of the diplomatic manoeuvres, refused them entry pending instructions from Athens. Venizelos was outraged that the Allies had not informed him as agreed, and refused to allow their disembarkation. After a tense day, the Allies agreed to halt their approach until the Allied diplomats could arrange matters with Venizelos in Athens. Finally, during the night of 1–2 October, Venizelos gave the green light for the disembarkation, which began on the same morning. The Allies issued a communique justifying their landing as a necessary measure to secure their lines of communication with Serbia, to which the Greek government replied with a protest but no further actions. [30]

    Dismissal of Venizelos the Zaimis government and the collapse of Serbia Edit

    Following this event, Venizelos presented to Parliament his case for participation in the war, securing 152 votes in favour to 102 against on 5 October. On the next day, however, King Constantine dismissed Venizelos and called upon Alexandros Zaimis to form a government. [31] Zaimis was favourably disposed to the Allies, but the military situation was worse than a few months before: the Serbs were stretched to breaking point against the Austro-Germans, Romania remained staunchly neutral, Bulgaria was on the verge of entering the war on the side of the Central Powers, and the Allies had few reserves to provide any practical aid to Greece. When the Serbian staff colonel Milan Milovanović visited Athens to elicit the new government's intentions, Metaxas informed him that if Greece sent two army corps to Serbia, eastern Macedonia would be left defenceless, so that the line of communication of both the Serbs and the Greek forces would be cut off by the Bulgarians. Metaxas proposed instead a joint offensive against Bulgaria, with the Greeks attacking along the Nestos and Strymon valleys, the Allies from the Vardar valley, and the Serbs joining in. Milovanović informed Metaxas that the pressure on the Serbian Army left them unable to spare forces for any such operation. [32] On 10 October, the Zaimis government officially informed Serbia that it could not come to her aid. Even an offer of Cyprus by the British on 16 October was not enough to alter the new government's stance. [33]

    Indeed, on 7 October the Austro-German forces under August von Mackensen began their decisive offensive against Serbia, followed by a Bulgarian attack on 14 October, without prior declaration of war. The Bulgarian attack cut off the Serbian retreat south to Greece, forcing the Serbian army to retreat via Albania. [34] The French commander-designate in Thessaloniki, Maurice Sarrail, favoured a large-scale Allied operation in Macedonia against Bulgaria, but available forces were few the British especially were loath to evacuate Gallipoli, while the French commander-in-chief, Joseph Joffre, was reluctant to divert forces from the Western Front. In the end, it was agreed to send 150,000 troops to the "Salonika Front", approximately half each French—the "Armée d'Orient" under Sarrail, with the 156th, 57th [fr] , and 122nd divisions—and British—the "British Salonika Force" under Bryan Mahon, with 10th Division, XII Corps and XVI Corps. [35]

    On 22 October, the Bulgarians captured Skopje, thus cutting off the Serbs from the Allied forces assembling in Thessaloniki. In an attempt to link up with the retreating Serbs, Sarrail launched an attack against Skopje on 3–13 November, but the French government ordered him to stop his advance. A Serbian attack on the 20th was fought off by the Bulgarians, and any hope of the Serbs linking up with Sarrail's forces evaporated. [36] As a result, though under constant pursuit, the remnants of the Serbian army retreated into Albania, aiming to reach the shores of the Adriatic, while Sarrail ordered his own forces to withdraw south towards Thessaloniki, re-crossing the Greek frontier on 13 December 1915. [37] As the Bulgarians followed closely behind the Allies and attacked them during their retreat, there was concern that they would simply continue on past the border. Lt. General Moschopoulos' requests for instructions to Athens went unanswered, but on his own initiative he deployed the 3/40 Evzone Regiment to cover the border with at least a token force. In the event, the Central Powers halted before the Greek border, for the time being. Although the Austrian commander Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf pressed to complete the victory in Serbia by clearing Albania and evicting the Allies from Thessaloniki, and forcing Greece and Romania to enter the war on the side of the Central Powers, the German high command, under Erich von Falkenhayn, was eager to end operations so as to focus on his plan to win the war by bleeding the French army dry at the Battle of Verdun. [38]


    Conclusion: The Question of Peace ↑

    From start to finish, the Ottoman government’s working assumption was that even in the event of victory, peace would be negotiated, not dictated, and that Britain, Russia, and France would survive as Great Powers. Hence its concern to ensure that its alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary should outlast the war. Hence, too, its concern to induce Germany and Austria-Hungary to endorse its abrogation of the capitulations and other restrictive treaties in advance of any peace conference, and to obtain assurances that its allies would entertain no peace proposals which might compromise the Ottoman Empire’s sovereign independence and territorial integrity. This was a concern much reinforced by the substantial losses of territory Ottoman forces suffered in Anatolia and the Fertile Crescent during the campaigns of 1916 and 1917. [11] For their part, Germany and Austria-Hungary were periodically disturbed by rumours that the Ottoman government might seek a separate peace with the Entente these fears were exaggerated. Admittedly, in 1917 and 1918 the British did put out feelers to the Ottoman Empire, just as they put out feelers to Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria. It seems doubtful that the Ottoman leadership took these contacts seriously, not least because the terms the British were prepared to offer, demanding the effective surrender of Arabia, the Fertile Crescent and “Armenia”, were such that only a defeated power could have contemplated. The contacts never reached the stage of negotiation and eventually petered out. [12] The Ottoman government held to its view that the war would be won or lost in Europe and stood by its allies until Bulgaria’s defection forced it to conclude an armistice, shortly before Austria-Hungary dissolved and Germany itself sought an end to hostilities.


    Feroze Yasamee, University of Manchester


    Were people vying to become slaves in the Ottoman Empire?

    The institution of slavery has a long and dark history, dating back to some of the earliest records of civilization. A slave was usually on the bottom-most rung of society, leading a dismal life of powerless servitude. Yet, at one point in history, a certain kind of slave enjoyed privilege and power surpassing most other members of his society. How could such a bizarre situation develop?

    It traces back to the 14th century, when the Ottoman ruler Orhan took advantage of a loophole in the Muslim law of ghanimat. The law allowed the sultan to take one-fifth of the booty his soldiers collected in battle. While booty usually meant material things, the sultan considered human captives part of the spoils. The sultan made an elite corps of slave-soldiers out of these captives they'd later become known as the Janissaries.

    By the time Orhan's son Murad I came into power, the empire wasn't raking in the booty. So Murad looked for another way to beef up his troops. He devised a brilliant and diabolical plan to breed and train children to become slaves. From a young age, he'd instill in them an undying loyalty to the sultan. But Murad didn't want to recruit ordinary Muslim children for his slave army -- he believed that Muslim children would remain loyal to their own families and seek favors for them later.

    Instead, Murad sought to kidnap Christian children from previously conquered territories to be trained for the Janissary Corps. After conversion to Islam and strict military training, these children would become loyal slave-soldiers. The sultan reasoned that these converted children would grow to despise their Christian families and remain faithful to the sultan [source: Halil].

    This system of kidnapping children, known as devsirme, lasted more than three centuries and proved incredibly successful for the Ottoman Empire. The sultans selected only the children who met strict criteria, and eventually, some parents actually sought to get their children accepted into the corps.

    Whenever the sultan wanted to boost his Janissary troops, he'd go into one of his territories, such as Greece, Austria, Albania or Serbia, to take young boys between the ages of 8 and 18 from Christian families [source: Volkan]. But not just any boy would do. The sultan's officials conducted comprehensive examinations of the children and looked for those who fit a certain list of criteria.

    When authorities arrived in a village, fathers brought out their sons for inspection. To qualify, a boy had to be strong, but untrained. His attitude was important, too -- he couldn't act spoiled. No orphans or only sons were accepted, and neither were boys who spoke any Turkish. Even if a boy satisfied all these prerequisites, he wasn't in unless he was handsome [source: Halil]. Once a boy was chosen, he was transported to Istanbul for training.

    Boys would usually undergo three to seven years of training in Istanbul. First and foremost, they were circumcised and converted to Islam. They were taught Turkish, and depending on how well they did in their training and education, they could be put on different tracks. The trainees who excelled were eventually enlisted to serve at the sultan's palace as members of the standing army. These soldiers received extensive education in math, theology, law, horsemanship and military strategy. The others were assigned to serve government officials or toil in the fields, while assimilating into Muslim society. No matter their post, they remained the sultan's slaves and could be recruited back to the palace at any time [source: Halil].

    In general, these slave-soldiers adhered to a strict code of conduct, in which obedience and manners were paramount and any violation resulted in harsh punishment. In addition, they were expected to lead a celibate life, never marrying (at least until the 16th century, when some were allowed to take wives).

    The total number of young Christians kidnapped under the devsirme system isn't known for sure. Modest estimates peg the number in the hundreds of thousands. But some think as many as 5 million boys were stolen from Christian families and raised to become slaves of the sultan [source: Halil].

    Despite being enslaved, a young boy could look forward to remarkable prospects in his life as a Janissary.

    Strict Muslims criticized the devsirme system because a ruler wasn't allowed to enslave his own Christians subjects. Supporters of the system argued that the sultan could take the children because they were descendants of conquered peoples who could be enslaved, according to the religious law. Another argument in favor of the system was that the sultan saved children's souls by converting them to Islam [source: Nicolle]

    The Appeal of a Janissary Career

    The practice of tearing children away from their families and cultures strikes us today as an outrageous violation of human rights. And the idea that anyone would desire a position as a slave seems completely contrary to common sense. To better understand why a loving parent would desire this life for his or her child, it'll help to grasp the idea of "slave" as it was perceived in the Ottoman Empire.

    Janissaries were considered kuls, which technically means "slaves," but was understood to signify servants or even officers [source: Ménage]. At the time, the title was even more distinguished than that of a subject [source: Nicolle].

    A career as a Janissary had remarkable upward mobility. We mentioned on the last page how some Janissaries received an elite education, and this advantage often prepared them for powerful and prosperous positions. For instance, an outstanding candidate immediately out of training could be assigned as a personal attendant of the sultan. After a few years at this post, he could branch out of the palace into an administrative role. But even those who didn't excel in training early on could still prove their worth and rise in the ranks. Janissaries often held high administrative positions, such as provincial governorships. There were instances, such as the case of Mehmed Pasa Sokollu, of a Janissary reaching the position of grand vizier (chief minister).

    When parents saw where a career as a Janissary could lead, some thought sacrificing their children to the sultan would provide them with a better life than they could offer. Muslim parents even tried to convince authorities to consider their children for inclusion in the Janissary corps. And some Christians attempted to bribe officials to accept their sons [source: Sugar]. In fact, one of the reasons the devsirme system of recruitment came to an end in the 16th century was because there were so many applicants who desired to become a part of the Janissary troops.

    Despite their technical slave status and significant power, the Janissaries often revolted throughout history. They usually sought reforms or a greater say in who would become sultan. Finally, in 1826, in an event known as the Auspicious Incident, the Janissaries revolted for the last time. The sultan Mahmud II dissolved the elite corps and turned cannons on the rebels, killing most of them.

    To flaunt their distinguished roles, Janissaries often sported lavish uniforms. The sultan personally gave each Janissary an embroidered cloak, and the various regiments had their own uniform colors. They also strutted around in spectacular hats, with officers getting the biggest, grandest caps complete with long plumes.


    Watch the video: Οθωμανική Αυτοκρατορία - Ομιλία κ. Λάμπρου Ψωμά (January 2022).