Did the Central Powers during World War 1 try to sue for peace before the Armistice?

Did the Central Powers during World War 1 try to sue for peace before the Armistice?

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Given their limited offensive actions during the trench warfare, the Austro-Hungarians were surely considering this was as far as they could actually advance. Didn't they put up negotiation positions through third parties before Versailles?

From what seems to be a pretty analysis, run by German universities, it looks like there were essentially no peace attempts.

After the Brest-Litovsk treaty it seems that Ludendorff really thought the war was winnable. The provisions of the treaty, far harsher than Versailles, really could have made a difference for the German domestic economy if there were a functional Russian state to meet its obligations.

The Spring Offensive of 1918 seems to be pretty clearly an attempt to capture Paris before the AEF could get established. On top of the limited documentation I think this intent shows there was little interest in a settlement.

The entire time, from 1914 to 1918, both sides tried to impose a victor's peace on the other side.

Germany didn't sue for peace, but they did talk of peace a lot on their terms, as did all the other major combatants.

In fact, insincere peace discussions never really stopped. But that was actually what made this war so revealing of the cultural norm of the participants. The negotiators on all sides routinely made demands that the other side could not possibly accept based on the latest news from the front.

And it went back and forth like that for years.

The war at sea, 1914–15

In August 1914 Great Britain, with 29 capital ships ready and 13 under construction, and Germany, with 18 and nine, were the two great rival sea powers. Neither of them at first wanted a direct confrontation: the British were chiefly concerned with the protection of their trade routes the Germans hoped that mines and submarine attacks would gradually destroy Great Britain’s numerical superiority, so that confrontation could eventually take place on equal terms.

The first significant encounter between the two navies was that of the Helgoland Bight, on August 28, 1914, when a British force under Admiral Sir David Beatty, having entered German home waters, sank or damaged several German light cruisers and killed or captured 1,000 men at a cost of one British ship damaged and 35 deaths. For the following months the Germans in European or British waters confined themselves to submarine warfare—not without some notable successes: on September 22 a single German submarine, or U-boat, sank three British cruisers within an hour on October 7 a U-boat made its way into the anchorage of Loch Ewe, on the west coast of Scotland on October 15 the British cruiser Hawke was torpedoed and on October 27 the British battleship Audacious was sunk by a mine.

On December 15 battle cruisers of the German High Seas Fleet set off on a sortie across the North Sea, under the command of Admiral Franz von Hipper: they bombarded several British towns and then made their way home safely. Hipper’s next sortie, however, was intercepted on its way out: on January 24, 1915, in the Battle of the Dogger Bank, the German cruiser Blücher was sunk and two other cruisers damaged before the Germans could make their escape.

Abroad on the high seas, the Germans’ most powerful surface force was the East Asiatic squadron of fast cruisers, including the Scharnhorst, the Gneisenau, and the Nürnberg, under Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee. For four months this fleet ranged almost unhindered over the Pacific Ocean, while the Emden, having joined the squadron in August 1914, was detached for service in the Indian Ocean. The Germans could thus threaten not only merchant shipping on the British trade routes but also troopships on their way to Europe or the Middle East from India, New Zealand, or Australia. The Emden sank merchant ships in the Bay of Bengal, bombarded Madras (September 22 now Chennai, India), haunted the approaches to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and had destroyed 15 Allied ships in all before it was caught and sunk off the Cocos Islands on November 9 by the Australian cruiser Sydney.

Meanwhile, Admiral von Spee’s main squadron since August had been threading a devious course in the Pacific from the Caroline Islands toward the Chilean coast and had been joined by two more cruisers, the Leipzig and the Dresden. On November 1, in the Battle of Coronel, it inflicted a sensational defeat on a British force, under Sir Christopher Cradock, which had sailed from the Atlantic to hunt it down: without losing a single ship, it sank Cradock’s two major cruisers, Cradock himself being killed. But the fortunes of the war on the high seas were reversed when, on December 8, the German squadron attacked the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands in the South Atlantic, probably unaware of the naval strength that the British, since Coronel, had been concentrating there under Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee: two battle cruisers (the Invincible and Inflexible, each equipped with eight 12-inch guns) and six other cruisers. The German ships were suffering from wear and tear after their long cruise in the Pacific and were no match for the newer, faster British ships, which soon overtook them. The Scharnhorst, with Admiral von Spee aboard, was the first ship to be sunk, then the Gneisenau, followed by the Nürnberg and the Leipzig. The British ships, which had fought at long range so as to render useless the smaller guns of the Germans, sustained only 25 casualties in this engagement. When the German light cruiser Dresden was caught and sunk off the Juan Fernández Islands on March 14, 1915, commerce raiding by German surface ships on the high seas was at an end. It was just beginning by German submarines, however.

The belligerent navies were employed as much in interfering with commerce as in fighting each other. Immediately after the outbreak of war, the British had instituted an economic blockade of Germany, with the aim of preventing all supplies reaching that country from the outside world. The two routes by which supplies could reach German ports were: (1) through the English Channel and the Strait of Dover and (2) around the north of Scotland. A minefield laid in the Strait of Dover with a narrow free lane made it fairly easy to intercept and search ships using the Channel. To the north of Scotland, however, there was an area of more than 200,000 square miles (520,000 square kilometres) to be patrolled, and the task was assigned to a squadron of armed merchant cruisers. During the early months of the war, only absolute contraband such as guns and ammunition was restricted, but the list was gradually extended to include almost all material that might be of use to the enemy.

The prevention of the free passage of trading ships led to considerable difficulties among the neutral nations, particularly with the United States, whose trading interests were hampered by British policy. Nevertheless, the British blockade was extremely effective, and during 1915 the British patrols stopped and inspected more than 3,000 vessels, of which 743 were sent into port for examination. Outward-bound trade from Germany was brought to a complete standstill.

The Germans similarly sought to attack Great Britain’s economy with a campaign against its supply lines of merchant shipping. In 1915, however, with their surface commerce raiders eliminated from the conflict, they were forced to rely entirely on the submarine.

The Germans began their submarine campaign against commerce by sinking a British merchant steamship (Glitra), after evacuating the crew, on October 20, 1914. A number of other sinkings followed, and the Germans soon became convinced that the submarine would be able to bring the British to an early peace where the commerce raiders on the high seas had failed. On January 30, 1915, Germany carried the campaign a stage further by torpedoing three British steamers (Tokomaru, Ikaria, and Oriole) without warning. They next announced, on February 4, that from February 18 they would treat the waters around the British Isles as a war zone in which all Allied merchant ships were to be destroyed, and in which no ship, whether enemy or not, would be immune.

Yet, whereas the Allied blockade was preventing almost all trade for Germany from reaching that nation’s ports, the German submarine campaign yielded less satisfactory results. During the first week of the campaign seven Allied or Allied-bound ships were sunk out of 11 attacked, but 1,370 others sailed without being harassed by the German submarines. In the whole of March 1915, during which 6,000 sailings were recorded, only 21 ships were sunk, and in April only 23 ships from a similar number. Apart from its lack of positive success, the U-boat arm was continuously harried by Great Britain’s extensive antisubmarine measures, which included nets, specially armed merchant ships, hydrophones for locating the noise of a submarine’s engines, and depth bombs for destroying it underwater.

For the Germans, a worse result than any of the British countermeasures imposed on them was the long-term growth of hostility on the part of the neutral countries. Certainly the neutrals were far from happy with the British blockade, but the German declaration of the war zone and subsequent events turned them progressively away from their attitude of sympathy for Germany. The hardening of their outlook began in February 1915, when the Norwegian steamship Belridge, carrying oil from New Orleans to Amsterdam, was torpedoed and sunk in the English Channel. The Germans continued to sink neutral ships occasionally, and undecided countries soon began to adopt a hostile outlook toward this activity when the safety of their own shipping was threatened.


October 1918 telegrams Edit

On 29 September 1918, the German Supreme Army Command at Imperial Army Headquarters in Spa of occupied Belgium informed Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Imperial Chancellor, Count Georg von Hertling, that the military situation facing Germany was hopeless. Quartermaster General Erich Ludendorff, probably fearing a breakthrough, claimed that he could not guarantee that the front would hold for another two hours and demanded a request be given to the Entente for an immediate ceasefire. In addition, he recommended the acceptance of the main demands of US president Woodrow Wilson (the Fourteen Points) including putting the Imperial Government on a democratic footing, hoping for more favorable peace terms. This enabled him to save the face of the Imperial German Army and put the responsibility for the capitulation and its consequences squarely into the hands of the democratic parties and the parliament. He expressed his view to officers of his staff on 1 October: "They now must lie on the bed that they've made for us." [3]

On 3 October 1918, the liberal Prince Maximilian of Baden was appointed Chancellor of Germany (prime minister), replacing Georg von Hertling in order to negotiate an armistice. [4] After long conversations with the Kaiser and evaluations of the political and military situations in the Reich, by 5 October 1918 the German government sent a message to President Woodrow Wilson to negotiate terms on the basis of a recent speech of his and the earlier declared "Fourteen Points". In the subsequent two exchanges, Wilson's allusions "failed to convey the idea that the Kaiser's abdication was an essential condition for peace. The leading statesmen of the Reich were not yet ready to contemplate such a monstrous possibility." [5] As a precondition for negotiations, Wilson demanded the retreat of Germany from all occupied territories, the cessation of submarine activities and the Kaiser's abdication, writing on 23 October: "If the Government of the United States must deal with the military masters and the monarchical autocrats of Germany now, or if it is likely to have to deal with them later in regard to the international obligations of the German Empire, it must demand not peace negotiations but surrender." [6]

In late October 1918, Ludendorff, in a sudden change of mind, declared the conditions of the Allies unacceptable. He now demanded to resume the war which he himself had declared lost only one month earlier. However, the German soldiers were pressing to get home. It was scarcely possible to arouse their readiness for battle anew, and desertions were on the increase. The Imperial Government stayed on course and Ludendorff was replaced by Wilhelm Groener. On 5 November, the Allies agreed to take up negotiations for a truce, now also demanding reparation payments. [7]

The latest note from President Wilson was received in Berlin on 6 November 1918. That same day, the delegation led by Matthias Erzberger departed for France. [8]

A much bigger obstacle, which contributed to the five-week delay in the signing of the Armistice and to the resulting social deterioration in Europe, was the fact that the French, British and Italian governments had no desire to accept the "Fourteen Points" and President Wilson's subsequent promises. For example, they assumed that the de-militarization suggested by Wilson would be limited to the Central Powers. There were also contradictions with their post-War plans that did not include a consistent implementation of the ideal of national self-determination. [9] As Czernin points out:

The Allied statesmen were faced with a problem: so far they had considered the "fourteen commandments" as a piece of clever and effective American propaganda, designed primarily to undermine the fighting spirit of the Central Powers, and to bolster the morale of the lesser Allies. Now, suddenly, the whole peace structure was supposed to be built up on that set of "vague principles", most of which seemed to them thoroughly unrealistic, and some of which, if they were to be seriously applied, were simply unacceptable. [10]

German Revolution Edit

The sailors' revolt that took place during the night of 29 to 30 October 1918 in the naval port of Wilhelmshaven spread across the whole country within days and led to the proclamation of a republic on 9 November and to the announcement of the abdication of Wilhelm II. [a] In some areas, soldiers challenged the authority of their officers and on occasion established Soldiers' Councils, such as the Brussels Soldiers' Council set up by revolutionary soldiers on 9 November.

Also on 9 November, Max von Baden handed over the office of Chancellor to Friedrich Ebert, a Social Democrat. Ebert's SPD and Erzberger's Catholic Centre Party had enjoyed an uneasy relationship with the Imperial government since Bismarck's era in the 1870s and 1880s. They were well represented in the Imperial Reichstag, which had little power over the government, and had been calling for a negotiated peace since 1917. Their prominence in the peace negotiations would cause the new Weimar Republic to lack legitimacy in right-wing and militarist eyes.

The Armistice was the result of a hurried and desperate process. The German delegation headed by Matthias Erzberger crossed the front line in five cars and was escorted for ten hours across the devastated war zone of Northern France, arriving on the morning of 8 November 1918. They were then taken to the secret destination aboard Ferdinand Foch's private train parked in a railway siding in the Forest of Compiègne. [11]

Foch appeared only twice in the three days of negotiations: on the first day, to ask the German delegation what they wanted, and on the last day, to see to the signatures. The Germans were handed the list of Allied demands and given 72 hours to agree. The German delegation discussed the Allied terms not with Foch, but with other French and Allied officers. The Armistice amounted to complete German demilitarization (see list below), with few promises made by the Allies in return. The naval blockade of Germany was not completely lifted until complete peace terms could be agreed upon. [12] [13]

There were very few negotiations. The Germans were able to correct a few impossible demands (for example, the decommissioning of more submarines than their fleet possessed), extended the schedule for the withdrawal and registered their formal protest at the harshness of Allied terms. But they were in no position to refuse to sign. On Sunday 10 November 1918, the Germans were shown newspapers from Paris to inform them that the Kaiser had abdicated. That same day, Ebert instructed Erzberger to sign. The cabinet had earlier received a message from Paul von Hindenburg, head of the German High Command, requesting that the armistice be signed even if the Allied conditions could not be improved on. [14] [15]

The Armistice was agreed upon at 5:00 a.m. on 11 November 1918, to come into effect at 11:00 a.m. Paris time (noon German time), [16] for which reason the occasion is sometimes referred to as "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month". Signatures were made between 5:12 a.m. and 5:20 a.m., Paris time.

Allied Rhineland occupation Edit

The occupation of the Rhineland took place following the Armistice. The occupying armies consisted of American, Belgian, British and French forces.

The Armistice was prolonged three times before peace was finally ratified. During this period it was also developed.

  • First Armistice (11 November 1918 – 13 December 1918)
  • First prolongation of the armistice (13 December 1918 – 16 January 1919)
  • Second prolongation of the armistice (16 January 1919 – 16 February 1919)
  • Third prolongation of the armistice (16 February 1919 – 10 January 1920) [18]

Peace was ratified at 4:15 p.m. on 10 January 1920. [19]

For the Allies, the personnel involved were all military. The two signatories were: [20]

Other members of the delegation included:

  • General Maxime Weygand, Foch's chief of staff (later French commander-in-chief in 1940) George Hope, Deputy First Sea Lord Jack Marriott, British naval officer, Naval Assistant to the First Sea Lord

For Germany, the four signatories were: [20]

    , a civilian politician
  • Count Alfred von Oberndorff, from the Foreign Ministry
  • Major General Detlof von Winterfeldt, army
  • Captain Ernst Vanselow, navy

Among its 34 clauses, the armistice contained the following major points: [21]

  • Termination of hostilities on the Western Front, on land and in the air, within six hours of signature. [20]
  • Immediate evacuation of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Alsace-Lorraine within 15 days. Sick and wounded may be left for Allies to care for. [20]
  • Immediate repatriation of all inhabitants of those four territories in German hands. [20]
  • Surrender of matériel: 5,000 artillery pieces, 25,000 machine guns, 3,000 minenwerfers, 1,700 aircraft (including all night bombers), 5,000 railway locomotives, 150,000 railway carriages and 5,000 road trucks. [20]
  • Evacuation of territory on the west side of the Rhine plus 30 km (19 mi) radius bridgeheads of the east side of the Rhine at the cities of Mainz, Koblenz, and Cologne within 31 days. [20]
  • Vacated territory to be occupied by Allied troops, maintained at Germany's expense. [20]
  • No removal or destruction of civilian goods or inhabitants in evacuated territories and all military matériel and premises to be left intact. [20]
  • All minefields on land and sea to be identified. [20]
  • All means of communication (roads, railways, canals, bridges, telegraphs, telephones) to be left intact, as well as everything needed for agriculture and industry. [20]

B. Eastern and African Fronts

  • Immediate withdrawal of all German troops in Romania and in what were the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Russian Empire back to German territory as it was on 1 August 1914, although tacit support was given to the pro-German West Russian Volunteer Army under the guise of combating the Bolsheviks. The Allies to have access to these countries. [20]
  • Renunciation of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Russia and of the Treaty of Bucharest with Romania. [20]
  • Evacuation of German forces in Africa. [20]
  • Immediate cessation of all hostilities at sea and surrender intact of all German submarines within 14 days. [20]
  • Listed German surface vessels to be interned within 7 days and the rest disarmed. [20]
  • Free access to German waters for Allied ships and for those of the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. [20]
  • The naval blockade of Germany to continue. [20]
  • Immediate evacuation of all Black Sea ports and handover of all captured Russian vessels. [20]
  • Immediate release of all Allied prisoners of war and interned civilians, without reciprocity. [22]
  • Pending a financial settlement, surrender of assets looted from Belgium, Romania and Russia. [20]

The British public was notified of the armistice by a subjoined official communiqué issued from the Press Bureau at 10:20 a.m., when British Prime Minister David Lloyd George announced: "The armistice was signed at five o'clock this morning, and hostilities are to cease on all fronts at 11 a.m. to-day." [23] An official communique was published by the United States at 2:30 pm: "In accordance with the terms of the Armistice, hostilities on the fronts of the American armies were suspended at eleven o'clock this morning." [24]

News of the armistice being signed was officially announced towards 9 a.m. in Paris. One hour later, Foch, accompanied by a British admiral, presented himself at the Ministry of War, where he was immediately received by Georges Clemenceau, the Prime Minister of France. At 10:50 a.m., Foch issued this general order: "Hostilities will cease on the whole front as from November 11 at 11 o'clock French time The Allied troops will not, until further order, go beyond the line reached on that date and at that hour." [25] Five minutes later, Clemenceau, Foch and the British admiral went to the Élysée Palace. At the first shot fired from the Eiffel Tower, the Ministry of War and the Élysée Palace displayed flags, while bells around Paris rang. Five hundred students gathered in front of the Ministry and called upon Clemenceau, who appeared on the balcony. Clemenceau exclaimed "Vive la France!"—the crowd echoed him. At 11:00 a.m., the first peace-gunshot was fired from Fort Mont-Valérien, which told the population of Paris that the armistice was concluded, but the population were already aware of it from official circles and newspapers. [26]

Although the information about the imminent ceasefire had spread among the forces at the front in the hours before, fighting in many sections of the front continued right until the appointed hour. At 11 a.m. there was some spontaneous fraternization between the two sides. But in general, reactions were muted. A British corporal reported: ". the Germans came from their trenches, bowed to us and then went away. That was it. There was nothing with which we could celebrate, except cookies." [27] On the Allied side, euphoria and exultation were rare. There was some cheering and applause, but the dominant feeling was silence and emptiness after 52 exhausting months of war. [27]

The peace between the Allies and Germany was subsequently settled in 1919, by the Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles that same year.

Many artillery units continued to fire on German targets to avoid having to haul away their spare ammunition. The Allies also wished to ensure that, should fighting restart, they would be in the most favourable position. Consequently, there were 10,944 casualties, of whom 2,738 men died, on the last day of the war. [2]

An example of the determination of the Allies to maintain pressure until the last minute, but also to adhere strictly to the Armistice terms, was Battery 4 of the US Navy's long-range 14-inch railway guns firing its last shot at 10:57:30 am from the Verdun area, timed to land far behind the German front line just before the scheduled Armistice. [28]

Augustin Trébuchon was the last Frenchman to die when he was shot on his way to tell fellow soldiers, who were attempting an assault across the Meuse river, that hot soup would be served after the ceasefire. He was killed at 10:45 a.m.

Earlier, the last British soldier to die, George Edwin Ellison of the 5th Royal Irish Lancers, was killed that morning at around 9:30 a.m. while scouting on the outskirts of Mons, Belgium.

The final Canadian, and Commonwealth, soldier to die, Private George Lawrence Price, was shot and killed by a sniper while part of a force advancing into the Belgian town of Ville-sur-Haine just two minutes before the armistice to the north of Mons at 10:58 a.m., to be recognized as one of the last killed with a monument to his name.

Henry Gunther, an American, is generally recognized as the last soldier killed in action in World War I. He was killed 60 seconds before the armistice came into force while charging astonished German troops who were aware the Armistice was nearly upon them. He had been despondent over his recent reduction in rank and was apparently trying to redeem his reputation. [29] [30]

News of the armistice only reached African forces, the King's African Rifles, still fighting with great success in Northern Rhodesia (today's Zambia), about a fortnight later. The German and British commanders then had to agree on the protocols for their own armistice ceremony. [31]

After the war, there was a deep shame that so many soldiers died on the final day of the war, especially in the hours after the treaty had been signed but had not yet taken effect. In the United States, the U.S. Congress opened an investigation to find out why and if blame should be placed on the leaders of the American Expeditionary Forces, including John Pershing. [32] In France, many graves of French soldiers who died on 11 November were backdated to the 10th. [29]

The celebration of the Armistice became the centrepiece of memories of the war, along with salutes to the unknown soldier. Nations built monuments to the dead and the heroic soldiers, but seldom aggrandizing the generals and admirals. [34] 11 November is commemorated annually in many countries under various names such as Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day, and in Poland, it is Independence Day.

The end of the Second World War in China (end of the Second Sino-Japanese War) formally took place on 9 September 1945 at 9:00 (the ninth hour of the ninth day of the ninth month). The date was chosen to echo the 1918 Armistice (on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month), and because "nine" is a homophone of the word for "long lasting" in Chinese (to suggest that the peace won would last forever). [35]

The myth that the German Army was stabbed in the back, by the Social Democratic government that was formed in November 1918, was created by reviews in the German press that grossly misrepresented British Major-General Frederick Maurice's book, The Last Four Months. "Ludendorff made use of the reviews to convince Hindenburg." [36]

In a hearing before the Committee on Inquiry of the National Assembly on November 18, 1919, a year after the war's end, Hindenburg declared, "As an English general has very truly said, the German Army was 'stabbed in the back'." [36]

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World War One - Timeline

The Balkan states of Bosnia and Herzegovina, had been annexed from Turkey and taken into the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This was strongly resented by many Serbs and Croats and a nationalist group, The Black Hand, was formed.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, and his wife, had decided to inspect Austro-Hungarian troops in Bosnia. The date chosen for the inspection was a national day in Bosnia. The Black Hand supplied a group of students with weapons for an assassination attempt to mark the occasion.

A Serbian nationalist student, Gavrilo Princip, assassinated the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, when their open car stopped at a corner on its way out of the town.

The Austrian government blamed the Serbian government for the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife and declared war on Serbia.

Although Russia was allied with Serbia, Germany did not believe that she would mobilise and offered to support Austria if necessary.

However, Russia did mobilise and, through their alliance with France, called on the French to mobilise.

Germany declared war on Russia.

Germany declared war on France. German troops poured into Belgium as directed under the Schleiffen Plan , drawn up in 1905. The British foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey, sent an ultimatum to Germany demanding their withdrawal from the neutral Belgium.

Germany did not withdraw from Belgium and Britain declared war on Germany.

The Russian army marched into Prussia. However, because of the differences in railway gauge between Russia and Prussia it was difficult for the Russians to get supplies through to their men. The Germans, on the other hand, used their railway system to surround the Russian Second army at Tannenberg before it's commander could realise what was happening. The ensuing battle was a heavy defeat for the Russians with thousands of men killed and 125,000 taken prisoner. Although the Germans won the battle, 13,000 men were killed.

Japan declared war on Germany through her alliance with Great Britain, signed in 1902

Having defeated the Russian Second army, the Germans turned their attention to the Russian First army at Masurian Lakes. Although the Germans were unable to defeat the army completely, over 100,000 Russians were taken prisoner.

Turkey entered the war on the side of the central powers and gave help to a German naval bombardment of Russia.

Because of the help given by Turkey to the German attack of Russia, Russia declared war on Turkey.

Britain and France, Russia's allies, declared war on Turkey, because of the help given to the German attack on Russia.

The German advance through Belgium to France did not go as smoothly as the Germans had hoped. The Belgians put up a good fight destroying railway lines to slow the transport of German supplies.

Despite a French counter-attack that saw the deaths of many Frenchmen on the battlefields at Ardennes, the Germans continued to march into France. They were eventually halted by the allies at the river Marne.

British troops had advanced from the northern coast of France to the Belgian town of Mons. Although they initially held off the Germans, they were soon forced to retreat.

The British lost a huge number of men at the first battle of Ypres.

By Christmas, all hopes that the war would be over had gone and the holiday saw men of both sides digging themselves into the trenches of the Western Front.

The first Zeppelins appeared over the English coast.

There outraged protests from the United States at the German U-boat campaign, when the Lusitania, which had many American passengers aboard, was sank. The Germans moderated their U-boat campaign.

Italy entered the war on the side of the Allies.

Poison gas was used for the first time during this battle. The gas, fired by the Germans claimed many British casualties.

Zeppelin airships dropped bombs on Yarmouth.

The Russians appealed for help from Britain and France to beat off an attack by the Turkish. The British navy responded by attacking Turkish forts in the Dardenelles.

Despite the loss of several ships to mines, the British successfully landed a number of marines in the Gallipoli region of the Dardenelles. Unfortunately the success was not followed up and the mission was a failure.

Winston Churchill, critical of the Dardenelles campaign, resigned his post as First Lord of the Admiralty. He rejoined the army as a battalion commander.

The use of airships by the Germans increased. Zeppelins began attacking London. They were also used for naval reconnaissance, to attack London and smaller balloons were used for reconnaissance along the Western Front. They were only stopped when the introduction of aeroplanes shot them down.

Winston Churchill served in Belgium as lieutenant colonel of the Royal Scots Fusiliers.

Romania joined the war on the side of the Allies. But within a few months was occupied by Germans and Austrians.

This was the only truly large-scale naval battle of the war. German forces, confined to port by a British naval blockade, came out in the hope of splitting the British fleet and destroying it ship by ship. However, the British admiral, Beatty, aware that the German tactics were the same as those used by Nelson at Trafalgar, sent a smaller force to lure the German's into the range of Admiral Jellicoe's main fleet. Although Beatty's idea worked, the exchange of fire was brief and the German's withdrew.

The British and German naval forces met again but the battle was inconclusive. The German ships did a great deal of damage to British ships before once again withdrawing and the British Admiral Jellicoe decided not to give chase.

Although British losses were heavier than the German, the battle had alarmed both the Kaiser and the German Admiral Scheer and they decided to keep their fleet consigned to harbour for the remainder of the war.

The first German air raid on London took place. The Germans hoped that by making raids on London and the South East, the British Air Force would be forced into protecting the home front rather than attacking the German air force.

Lloyd George became Prime Minister of the war time coalition. His war cabinet, unlike that of his predecessor, met every day. However, there was considerable disagreement among the members of the Cabinet, especially between Lloyd George and his war secretary, Sir Douglas Haig. Lloyd George suspected Haig of squandering life needlessly and was suspicious of his demands for more men and freedom of action in the field.

The Germans mounted an attack on the French at Verdun designed to 'bleed the French dry'. Although the fighting continued for nine months, the battle was inconclusive. Casualties were enormous on both sides with the Germans losing 430,000 men and the French 540,000.

This was an inconclusive battle that lasted for some five months. Although 60,000 British men were killed or seriously wounded on the first day, Field Marshall Douglas Haig ordered that the battle must continue. Although the British were the first side to use tanks in this battle, they numbered so few that their impact was negligible.

Lloyd George, who had never trusted his war minister's ability to direct the war, persuaded the Cabinet to appoint the French General Nivelle as supreme war commander over Haig's head. Haig was assured that the appointment was for one operation only and that if he felt the British army was being misused by the Frenchman he could appeal to the British government.

The operation commanded by the French General, Nivelle, went wrong and caused the loss of many French soldiers. Haig protested to the British government and advocated trying his own scheme for a breakthrough. At the resulting battle of Passchendale, Haig broke his promise to call off the battle if the first stage failed because he did not want to lose face with the government.

Following the heavy defeat at Passchendale, Lloyd George decided that he wanted Churchill in the Cabinet. Churchill was duly appointed Minister of Munitions.

The Italians had lost many men trying to hold the line between Italy and the Central Powers. British and French reinforcements were sent to hold the line.

In Germany, orders were given to step up the U-boat campaign. All allied or neutral ships were to be sunk on sight and in one month almost a million tons of shipping was sunk. Neutral countries became reluctant to ship goods to Britain and Lloyd George ordered all ships carrying provisions to Britain to be given a convoy.

The United States of America declared war on Germany in response to the sinking, by German U boats, of US ships.

The British took a large force of tanks across the barbed wire and machine gun posts at Cambrai.

Following the successful revolution by the Bolsheviks, the Russians signed an Armistice with Germany at Brest-Litovsk. The terms of the treaty were harsh: Russia had to surrender Poland, the Ukraine and other regions. They had to stop all Socialist propaganda directed at Germany and pay 300 million roubles for the repatriation of Russian prisoners.

The Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service were merged to form the Royal Air Force.

The British general, Haig, ordered the attack of the German sector at Amiens. At the same time the news came through that the allies had broken through from Salonika and forced Bulgaria to sue for peace.

The allies had taken almost all of German-occupied France and part of Belgium.

The allies had successfully pushed the Turkish army back and the Turks were forced to ask for an armistice. The terms of the armistice treaty allowed the allies access to the Dardenelles.

By the beginning of November the allies had pushed the Germans back beyond the Hindenberg line.

Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated.

At 11 am, in the French town of Redonthes, the Armistice was signed bringing the war to an end.


Ottomans and Central Powers Edit

The Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers through the secret Ottoman-German Alliance, [24] which was signed on 2 August 1914. The main objective of the Ottoman Empire in the Caucasus was the recovery of its territories that had been lost during the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), in particular Artvin, Ardahan, Kars, and the port of Batum. Success in this region would force the Russians to divert troops from the Polish and Galician fronts. [25]

German advisors with the Ottoman armies supported the campaign for this reason. From an economic perspective, the Ottoman, or rather German, strategic goal was to cut off Russian access to the hydrocarbon resources around the Caspian Sea. [26]

Germany established an Intelligence Bureau for the East on the eve of World War I. The bureau was involved in intelligence-gathering and subversive missions to Persia and Egypt, [27] and to Afghanistan, [ citation needed ] to dismantle the Anglo-Russian Entente. [28] Ottoman War Minister Enver Pasha claimed that if the Russians could be beaten in the key cities of Persia, it could open the way to Azerbaijan, as well as the rest of the Middle East and the Caucasus.

If these nations were to be removed from Western influence, Enver envisioned a cooperation between these newly established Turkic states. Enver's project conflicted with European interests which played out as struggles between several key imperial powers. The Ottomans also threatened Britain's communications with India and the East via the Suez Canal. The Germans hoped to seize the Canal for the Central Powers, or at least to deny the Allies use of the vital shipping route.

Allies Edit

Britain Edit

The British feared that the Ottomans might attack and capture the Middle East (and later Caspian) oil fields. [26] The British Royal Navy depended upon oil from the petroleum deposits in southern Persia, to which the British-controlled Anglo-Persian Oil Company had exclusive access. [26]

Oxford historian (and Conservative MP) J.A.R. Marriott summarizes the British debates on strategy for the Near East and Balkan theatre:

The War in that theatre presents many problems and suggests many questions. Whether by a timely display of force the Turk could have been kept true to his ancient connexion with Great Britain and France whether by more sagacious diplomacy the hostility of Bulgaria could have been averted, and the co-operation of Greece secured whether by the military intervention of the Entente Powers the cruel blow could have been warded off from Serbia and Montenegro whether the Dardanelles expedition was faulty only in execution or unsound in conception whether Romania came into tardily, or moved too soon, and in the wrong direction. [29]

Russia Edit

The Russians viewed the Caucasus Front as secondary to the Eastern Front. They feared a campaign into the Caucasus aimed at retaking Kars which had been taken from the Ottoman Empire during the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), and the port of Batum. [30]

In March 1915, when the Russian foreign minister Sergey Sazonov met with British ambassador George Buchanan and French ambassador Maurice Paléologue, he stated that a lasting postwar settlement demanded full Russian possession of the capital city of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople, the straits of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara, southern Thrace up to the Enos-Midia line as well as parts of the Black Sea coast of Anatolia between the Bosphorus, the Sakarya River and an undetermined point near the Bay of Izmit. The Russian Imperial government planned to replace the Muslim population of Northern Anatolia and Istanbul with more reliable Cossack settlers. [30]

Armenians Edit

The Armenian national liberation movement sought to establish an Armenian state within the Armenian Highlands. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation achieved this goal later in the war, with the establishment of the internationally recognized First Republic of Armenia in May 1918. As early as 1915, the Administration for Western Armenia and later Republic of Mountainous Armenia were Armenian-controlled entities, while the Centrocaspian Dictatorship was established with Armenian participation. None of these entities were long lasting.

Arabs Edit

The principal actor was King Hussein as head of the Kingdom of Hejaz. He led what is now called the Arab revolt, the principal objectives of which were self-rule and an end to Ottoman control of the region.

Assyrians Edit

An Assyrian nation under British and Russian protection was promised the Assyrians first by Russian officers, and later confirmed by Captain Gracey of the British Intelligence Service. Based on these representations, the Assyrians of Hakkari, under their Mar Shimun XIX Benjamin and the Assyrian tribal chiefs "decided to side with the Allies, first with Russia, and next with the British, in the hope that they might secure after the victory, a self-government for the Assyrians." [31] The French also joined the alliance with the Assyrians, offering them 20,000 rifles, and the Assyrian army grew to 20,000 men co-led by Agha Petrus Elia of the Bit-Bazi tribe, and Malik Khoshaba of the Bit-Tiyari tribe, according to Joseph Naayem (a key witness, whose account on the atrocities was prefaced by Lord James Bryce). [9] [32]

Kurds Edit

The Kurds hoped that the Allies of World War I would aid them in creating an independent Kurdish nation if they were to fight against the Ottomans, and undertook several uprisings throughout the war. Most of these, except for the uprisings of August 1917, were not supported by any of the allied powers. [33]

The Caucasus Campaign comprised armed conflicts between the Ottoman Empire and the allies, the forces of the latter including Azerbaijan, Armenia, the Central Caspian Dictatorship, and the UK as part of the Middle Eastern theatre, or alternatively named, as part of the Caucasus Campaign during World War I. The Caucasus Campaign extended from the Caucasus to eastern Asia Minor, reaching as far as Trabzon, Bitlis, Mush and Van. The warfare on land was accompanied by actions undertaken by the Russian Navy in the Black Sea region of the Ottoman Empire.

On 23 February 1917, the Russian advance was halted following the Russian Revolution, and later the disintegrated Russian Caucasus Army was replaced by the forces of the newly established Armenian state, which comprised the previous Armenian volunteer units and the Armenian irregular units. During 1918 the region also saw the establishment of the Central Caspian Dictatorship, the Republic of Mountainous Armenia, and an Allied force named Dunsterforce which was composed of elite troops drawn from the Mesopotamian and Western Fronts.

The Ottoman Empire and German Empire fought each other at Batumi after the arrival of the German Caucasus Expedition whose prime aim was to secure oil supplies. On 3 March 1918, the conflict between the Ottoman Empire and Russia ended with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and on 4 June 1918, the Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of Batum with Armenia. However, the armed conflicts extended as the Ottoman Empire continued to engage with the Central Caspian Dictatorship, Republic of Mountainous Armenia, and British Empire forces from Dunsterforce until the Armistice of Mudros was signed on 30 October 1918.

Top: Destruction in the city of Erzurum Left Upper: Russian forces Left Lower: Wounded Muslim refugees Right Upper: Ottoman forces Right Lower: Armenian refugees

The Gallipoli Campaign, February–April 1915

"Top:" The size of the stars show where the active conflicts occurred in 1915 "Left Upper:" Armenians defending the walls of Van in the spring of 1915 "Left Lower:" Armenian Resistance in Urfa "Right:" A seventy-year-old Armenian priest leading Armenians to battle field.

Over 90,000 Ottoman troops were sent to the Eastern European Front in 1916, to participate in operations in Romania in the Balkans Campaign. The Central Powers asked for these units to support their operations against the Russian army. Later, it was concluded that the deployment was a mistake, as these forces would have been better placed remaining to protect Ottoman territory against the massive Erzerum Offensive that the Russian army had begun.

The relocation of troops to the Eastern European Front was initiated by Enver. It was originally rejected by the German Chief of Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn, but his successor, Paul von Hindenburg, agreed to it, albeit with reservations. The decision was reached after the Brusilov Offensive, as the Central Powers were running short of men on the Eastern Front.

In the deployment, Enver sent the XV Army Corps to Galicia, the VI Army Corps to Romania, and the XX Army Corps and 177th Infantry Regiment to Macedonia in early 1916. The VI Corps took part in the collapse of the Romanian army in the Romanian Campaign, and were particularly valued for their ability to continue a high rate of advance in harsh winter conditions. The XV Corps was known to fight very well against the Russians in Galicia, [34] often inflicting on the Russians several times the casualties they took. [35]

Central Powers (Ottoman Empire) Edit

After the Young Turk Revolution and the establishment of the Second Constitutional Era (Turkish: İkinci Meşrûtiyet Devri) on 3 July 1908, a major military reform started. Army headquarters were modernised. The Ottoman Empire was engaged in the Turco-Italian War and Balkan Wars, which forced more restructuring of the army, only a few years before the First World War.

From the outset, the Ottoman Army faced a host of problems in assembling itself. First of all, the size of the Ottoman Army was severely limited by division within the empire: non-Muslims were exempt from the military draft, and reliable ethnic Turks made up only 12 million of the empire's already relatively small population of 22 million, with the other 10 million being minorities of varying loyalty and military use. The empire was also very poor compared to the other powers in GDP, infrastructure, and industrial capacity. As a point of comparison the empire had only 5,759 km of railway, while France had 51,000 km of railway for a fifth of the land area. Ottoman coal production was negligible (826,000 tons in 1914 compared to 40,000,000 tons for France and 292,000,000 tons for Britain), while steel production was borderline non-existent. [36] There was only one cannon and small arms foundry in the empire, a single shell and bullet factory, and a single gunpowder factory, all of which were located in the Constantinople suburbs. The Ottoman economy was almost entirely agricultural, relying on products such as wool, cotton, and hides. [37]

During this period, the Empire divided its forces into armies. Each army headquarters consisted of a Chief of Staff, an operations section, intelligence section, logistics section and a personnel section. As a long established tradition in the Ottoman military, supply, medical and veterinary services were included in these armies. Before the war, the Turkish General Staff estimated that 1,000,000 men could be mobilized at one time and that 500,000 of these were available as mobile field armies, with the rest serving in garrisons, coastal defenses, and in servicing lines of communication and transportation. [38] Approximately 900 field guns were available for the mobile army, which was 280 below war establishment, though supplies of howitzers were generally sufficient. There were an additional 900 pieces of fixed or semifixed set-up in coastal and fortress garrisons across Adrianople, Erzurum, the Bosphorous, the Dardanelles, and the Catalca. Ammunition was low there were only about 588 shells available per gun. [39] Additionally, the army estimated it needed several thousand more machine guns to fill its establishment rifles were generally efficient at 1.5 million in stock, the army still needed another 200,000.

In 1914, before the Empire entered the war, the four armies divided their forces into corps and divisions such that each division had three infantry regiments and an artillery regiment. The main units were: First Army with fifteen divisions Second Army with 4 divisions plus an independent infantry division with three infantry regiments and an artillery brigade Third Army with nine divisions, four independent infantry regiments and four independent cavalry regiments (tribal units) and the Fourth Army with four divisions.

In August 1914, of 36 infantry divisions organised, fourteen were established from scratch and were essentially new divisions. In a very short time, eight of these newly recruited divisions went through major redeployment. During the war, more armies were established 5th Army and 6th Army in 1915, 7th Army and 8th Army in 1917, and Kuva-i İnzibatiye [ citation needed ] and the Army of Islam, which had only a single corps, in 1918.

By 1918, the original armies had been so badly reduced that the Empire was forced to establish new unit definitions which incorporated these armies. These were the Eastern Army Group and Yildirim Army Group. However, although the number of armies was increasing over the four years of the war, the Empire's resources of manpower and supplies were declining, so that the Army Groups in 1918 were smaller than the armies of 1914. The Ottoman Army was still partially effective until the end of the war.

Most military equipment was manufactured in Germany or Austria, and maintained by German and Austrian engineers. Germany also supplied most of the military advisers a force of specialist troops (the Asia Korps) was dispatched in 1917, and increased to a fighting force of two regiments in 1918. The German Caucasus Expedition was established in the formerly Russian Transcaucasia around early 1918 during the Caucasus Campaign. Its prime aim was to secure oil supplies for Germany and stabilise a nascent pro-German Democratic Republic of Georgia. The new republic brought the Ottoman Empire and Germany into conflict, with exchanges of official condemnations between them in the final months of the war.

Recruitment Edit

The Ottoman Empire established a new recruitment law on 12 May 1914. This lowered the conscription age from 20 to 18, and abolished the "redif" or reserve system. Active duty lengths were set at two years for the infantry, three years for other branches of the Army and five years for the Navy. These measures remained largely theoretical during the war.

Traditional Ottoman forces depended on volunteers from the Muslim population of the empire. Additionally, several groups and individuals in the Ottoman society volunteered for active duty during the World War, the major examples being the "Mevlevi" and the "Kadiri."

There were also units formed by Caucasian and Rumelian Turks, who took part in the battles in Mesopotamia and Palestine. Among Ottoman forces, volunteers were not only from Turkic groups there were also smaller numbers of Arab and Bedouin volunteers who fought in the campaign against the British to capture the Suez Canal, and in Mesopotamia. Volunteers were considered unreliable by the organised army, due to a lack of training and a perception of mainly mercenary interests from the Arab and Bedouin volunteers. Heavy fighting also placed pressure on the Ottoman volunteer system.

Entente nations Edit

Before the war, Russia had the Russian Caucasus Army, but almost half of this was redeployed to the Prussian front after the defeats at the battles of Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes, leaving behind just 60,000 troops in this theatre. In the summer of 1914, Armenian volunteer units were established under the Russian Armed forces. Nearly 20,000 Armenian volunteers expressed their readiness to take up arms against the Ottoman Empire as early as 1914. [40] These volunteer units increased in size during the war, to the extent that Boghos Nubar, in a public letter to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, stated that they numbered 150,000. [41]

The Assyrian people of south east Anatolia, northern Mesopotamia and north western Persia also threw in their lot with the Russians and British, under the leadership of Agha Petros and Malik Khoshaba. [23]

In 1914, there were some British Indian Army units located in the southern parts of Persia. These units had extensive experience in dealing with dissident tribal forces. The British later established the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, British Dardanelles Army, Egyptian Expeditionary Force, and in 1917 they established Dunsterforce under Lionel Dunsterville, consisting of less than 1,000 Australian, British, Canadian and New Zealand troops accompanied by armoured cars, to oppose Ottoman and German forces in the Caucasus.

In 1916, an Arab Revolt began in the Hejaz. About 5,000 regular soldiers (mostly former prisoners of war of Arab origin) served with the forces of the revolt. There were also many irregular tribesmen under the direction of the Emir Feisal and British advisers. Of the advisers, T.E. Lawrence is the best known.

France sent the French Armenian Legion to this theatre as part of its larger French Foreign Legion. Foreign Minister Aristide Briand needed to provide troops for French commitment made in the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which was still secret. [42] Boghos Nubar, the leader of the Armenian national assembly, met with Sir Mark Sykes and Georges-Picot.

General Edmund Allenby, the commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, extended the original agreement. The Armenian Legion fought in Palestine and Syria. Many of its volunteers were later released from the Legion to join their respective national armies.

The Armenian national liberation movement commanded the Armenian Fedayee (Armenian: Ֆէտայի ) during these conflicts. These were generally referred to as Armenian militia. In 1917, The Dashnaks established an Armenian Corps under the command of General Tovmas Nazarbekian which, with the declaration of the First Republic of Armenia, became the military core of this new Armenian state. Nazarbekian became the first Commander-in-chief.

Recruitment Edit

Before the war, Russia established a volunteer system to be used in the Caucasus Campaign. In the summer of 1914, Armenian volunteer units led by Andranik Ozanian were established under the Russian Armed forces. As the Russian Armenian conscripts had already been sent to the European Front, this force was uniquely established from Armenians that were neither Russian subjects nor obliged to serve. The Armenian units were credited with no small measure of the success gained by the Russian forces, as they were natives of the region, adjusted to the climatic conditions, familiar with every road and mountain path, and had real incentives to fight. [43]

The Armenian volunteers were small, mobile, and well adapted to the semi-guerrilla warfare. [44] They did good work as scouts, but also took part in numerous pitched battles. [44]

In December 1914, Nicholas II of Russia visited the Caucasus Campaign. Addressing the head of the Armenian Church, and Alexander Khatisyan, president of the Armenian National Bureau in Tiflis, he said:

From all countries Armenians are hurrying to enter the ranks of the glorious Russian Army, with their blood to serve the victory of the Russian Army. Let the Russian flag wave freely over the Dardanelles and the Bosporus. Let [. ] the peoples [Armenian] remaining under the Turkish yoke receive freedom. Let the Armenian people of Turkey who have suffered for the faith of Christ receive resurrection for a new free life . [45]

Asymmetrical forces Edit

The forces used in the Middle Eastern theatre were not only regular army units which engaged in conventional warfare, but also irregular forces engaging in what is known today as "asymmetrical conflict". [ citation needed ]

Contrary to myth, it was not T. E. Lawrence or the British Army that conceptualised a campaign of internal insurgency against the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East: it was the Arab Bureau of Britain's Foreign Office that devised the Arab Revolt. The Arab Bureau had long felt it likely that a campaign instigated and financed by outside powers, supporting the breakaway-minded tribes and regional challengers to the Ottoman government's centralised rule of their empire, would pay great dividends in the diversion of effort that would be needed to meet such a challenge. The Ottoman authorities devoted far more resources to contain the threat of such an internal rebellion than the Allies devoted to sponsoring it. [ citation needed ]

Germany established its own Intelligence Bureau for the East just before the outbreak of war. It was dedicated to promoting and sustaining subversive and nationalist agitations in the British Indian Empire, as well as in the Persian and Egyptian satellite states. Its operations in Persia, aimed at fomenting trouble for the British in the Persian Gulf, were led by Wilhelm Wassmuss, [28] a German diplomat who became known as the "German Lawrence of Arabia" or "Wassmuss of Persia". [ citation needed ]

Prelude Edit

The Ottoman Empire made a secret Ottoman-German Alliance on 2 August 1914, followed by another treaty with Bulgaria. The Ottoman War ministry developed two major plans. Bronsart von Schellendorf, a member of the German military mission to the Ottoman Empire who had been appointed Assistant Chief of the Ottoman General Staff, completed a plan on 6 September 1914 by which the Fourth Army was to attack Egypt and the Third Army would launch an offensive against the Russians in Eastern Anatolia. [ citation needed ]

There was opposition to Schellendorf among the Ottoman army. The most voiced opinion was that Schellendorf planned a war which benefitted Germany, rather than taking into account the conditions of the Ottoman Empire. Hafiz Hakki Pasha presented an alternative plan, which was more aggressive, and concentrated on Russia. It was based on moving forces by sea to the eastern Black Sea coast, where they would develop an offensive against Russian territory. Hafiz Hakki Pasha's plan was shelved because the Ottoman Army lacked the resources. Schellendorf’s "Primary Campaign Plan" was therefore adopted by default. [ citation needed ]

As a result of Schellendorf's plan, most of the Ottoman operations were fought in Ottoman territory, with the result that in many cases they directly affected the Empire's own people. The later view was that the resources to implement this plan were also lacking, but Schellendorf organised the command and control of the army better, and positioned the army to execute the plans. Schellendorf also produced a better mobilisation plan for raising forces and preparing them for war. The Ottoman War Ministry's archives contain war plans drafted by Schellendorf, dated 7 October 1914, which include details regarding Ottoman support to the Bulgarian army, a secret operation against Romania, and Ottoman soldiers landing in Odessa and Crimea with the support of the German Navy. [ citation needed ]

Such was the German influence on Turkey's operations during the Palestine campaign that most of the staff posts in the Yıldırım Army Group were held by German officers. Even the headquarters correspondence was produced in German. This situation ended with the final defeat in Palestine and the appointment of Mustafa Kemal to command the remnants of the Yildirim Army Group.

During July 1914 there were negotiations between the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) and Ottoman Armenians at the Armenian congress at Erzurum. The public conclusion of the congress was "Ostensibly conducted to peacefully advance Armenian demands by legitimate means". [46] Erickson claims that the CUP regarded the congress as a cause of Armenian insurrection. [47] [ clarification needed ] and that after this meeting, the CUP was convinced of the existence of strong Armenian–Russian links, with detailed plans to detach the region from the Ottoman Empire. [47]

On 29 October 1914, the Ottoman Empire's first armed engagement with the Allies occurred when the German battlecruiser SMS Goeben and light cruiser SMS Breslau, having been pursued into Turkish waters and transferred to the Ottoman navy, shelled the Russian Black Sea port of Odessa. [ citation needed ]

New Turkish recruits marching out to a drill before the war, 1914.

The Turkish general staff of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, 1914.

1914 Edit

November Edit

Following the shelling of Odessa, Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire on 2 November 1914. The British Navy attacked the Dardanelles on 3 November. Britain and France declared war on 5 November. [48] The Ottoman declaration of Jihad was drafted on 11 November and first publicized on 14 November. [49]

First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill put forward his plans for a naval attack on the Ottoman capital, based at least in part on what turned out to be erroneous reports regarding Ottoman troop strength, as prepared by Lieutenant T. E. Lawrence. He reasoned that the Royal Navy had a large number of obsolete battleships which might be made useful, supported by a token force from the army for routine occupation tasks. The battleships were ordered to be ready by February 1916. [ citation needed ]

At the same time, the Ottoman Fourth Army was preparing a force of 20,000 men under the command of the Ottoman Minister of the Marine, Djemal Pasha, to take the Suez Canal. The attack on Suez was suggested by War Minister Enver Pasha at the urging of their German ally. The chief of staff for the Ottoman Fourth Army was the Bavarian Colonel Kress von Kressenstein, who organised the attack and arranged supplies for the army as it crossed the desert. [ citation needed ]

On 1 November, the Bergmann Offensive was the first armed conflict of the Caucasus Campaign. The Russians crossed the frontier first, and planned to capture Doğubeyazıt and Köprüköy. [50] On their right wing, the Russian I Corps moved from Sarikamish toward Köprüköy. On the left wing, the Russian IV Corps moved from Yerevan to the Pasinler Plains. The commander of the Ottoman Third Army, Hasan Izzet, was not in favour of an offensive in the harsh winter conditions, but his plan to remain on the defensive and to launch a counterattack at the right time was overridden by the War Minister Enver Pasha. [ citation needed ]

On 6 November, a British naval force bombarded the old fort at Fao. The Fao Landing of British Indian Expeditionary Force D (IEF D), consisting of the 6th (Poona) Division led by Lieutenant General Arthur Barrett, with Sir Percy Cox as political officer, was opposed by 350 Ottoman troops and four cannons. On 22 November, the British occupied the city of Basra against a force of 2900 Arab conscripts of the Iraq Area Command commanded by Suphi Pasha. Suphi Pasha and 1,200 men were captured. The main Ottoman army, under the overall command of Khalil Pasha, was located about 440 kilometres (270 mi) to the north-west, around Baghdad. It made only weak attempts to dislodge the British.

On 7 November, the Ottoman Third Army commenced its Caucasus offensive with the participation of the XI Corps and all cavalry units supported by the Kurdish Tribal Regiment. By 12 November, Ahmet Fevzi Pasha's IX Corps reinforced with the XI Corps on the left flank supported by the cavalry, began to push the Russians back. The Russians were successful along the southern shoulders of the offensive, where Armenian volunteers were effective and took Karaköse and Doğubeyazıt. [51] By the end of November, the Russians held a salient 25 kilometres (16 mi) into Ottoman territory along the Erzurum-Sarikamish axis. [ citation needed ]

Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah, the ruler of Kuwait, sent a force to Umm Qasr, Safwan, Bubiyan, and Basra to expel Ottoman forces from the area. In exchange the British government recognised Kuwait as an "independent government under British protection." [52] There is no report on the exact size and nature of Mubarak’s attack, though Ottoman forces did retreat from those positions weeks later. [53] Mubarak removed the Ottoman symbol that was on the Kuwaiti flag and replaced it with "Kuwait" written in Arabic script. [53] Mubarak’s participation, as well as his previous exploits in obstructing the completion of the Baghdad railway, helped the British safeguard the Persian Gulf from Ottoman and German reinforcements. [54]

Latin American Reactions ↑

New Perceptions of Europe ↑

During the war years, a great number of educated Latin Americans, above all the adherents of national movements, adopted a negative perception of Europe. There is no doubt that propaganda denigrating the Central Powers played a decisive role here. From their perspective, the war was an important argument in underlining Europe’s betrayal of civilization. Indeed, they were shocked and blamed the Europeans for their relapse into barbarism. [42]

Already in 1916, no matter their political conviction, several commentators such as the Mexican anthropologist Manuel Gamio (1863-1960) were stunned by the rapidity of the global conflict, which seemed to have quickly transformed into a so-called “culture war.” [43] Many images that circulated in Latin American newspapers and magazines during the war years lent credence to the perception that the European powers no longer represented superior examples to follow. For example, many media images showed the “Old World” as a greedy raptor that participated in global bloodshed. In fact, the war shook the whole value system that Europe had represented. Frequently, Europe appeared in caricatures as old and worn out.

Prior to the war, Latin American oligarchies had long identified with European civilization. From the elites’ point of view, the imitation of European cultural and social models could lead to progress and development in Latin America. To achieve these visions, some oligarchs had even advocated completely replacing the allegedly sick and racially inferior local population with immigrants from Europe. However, the hope for progress remained unfulfilled.

Therefore, some people began to voice criticisms of general conceptions of progress that focused exclusively on the “Old World”. Latin Americans increasingly reflected their frustration with the failure and one-sidedness of development models that stemmed from Europe.

Some well-known intellectuals of the pre-war period, such as the Cuban José Martí (1853-1895), the Uruguayan José Enrique Rodó (1871-1917) or the Mexican José Vasconcelos (1882-1959) had the idea that the region could do better than Europe. These intellectuals repeatedly attacked their former European tutors and discussed the wrong turns the old world had taken and that Europe should no longer serve as a model for Latin America. In addition, they referred to their own Latin American values and tried to offer alternative perspectives for a way out of the malaise. [44]

In the context of the First World War, the idea of a “golden land” – a better and more idealistic part of the West – spread in Latin America. However, reformers were also aware of the fact that their region still needed to fulfill this promising ideal. In addition, Latin America still had to fight for sovereignty and for its rights in the international context. A steadily growing number of Latin Americans adopted these views and participated in different movements such as Peruvian indigenism, which originated in 1897, or Argentine radicalism of 1898. They linked their calls for social and political reforms to new ideas and gained more influence in the public. Due to external and internal pressures, already circulating visions and existing attitudes developed a new spirit and dynamic breadth in the climate of the First World War. Many Latin American states experienced a universal political mobilization because of the war. [45]

Rise of Social Movements ↑

The war gave rise to numerous and diverse emancipatory movements. The majority of these were shaped by the interactions of internal influences and transnational entanglements across Latin America. Mexican revolutionary nationalism was one of the most well-known cases due to its 1917 Constitution, which, for example, regulated the nationalization of all mineral resources. Moreover, the governments introduced social welfare. Many urban workers and some rural workers organized themselves during this period. Under the influence of the 1917 Russian Revolution, the number of protests and strikes increased dramatically in all Latin American states. As a consequence, workers voiced their claims for their rights and for more social equality ever more loudly. [46] National problems especially in the economic sector also became a focus of the reform movements. [47] Thus, the governing oligarchies responsible for tackling dependence on foreign countries and the severe social problems in their states increasingly lost their legitimacy.

In addition, in the cities, the academically educated middle classes began to voice their demands to promote social reforms in the name of the whole nation. In connection with the war, many of the middle classes benefitted from the new circumstances and structured their public activities in nationalist parties and organizations that fought, for example, for the rights of the indigenous populations, workers or women. The movements usually combined nationalist convictions and a reformist spirit in order to achieve goals of modernization. Likewise, students’ movements emanated from Córdoba in Argentina and swept through many countries in the following years. Students indirectly connected their demands for a reform of their programs of study and the possibility of a new future for their own nation to the experience of the First World War. [48]

In general, social reform movements ranging from anarchists, indigenists, conservatives to even anti-Semitic and xenophobic organizations all placed emphasis on youth and modernity. In doing so, they claimed to represent a counterweight to the “Old World” and the oligarchies within their own countries. They juxtaposed the images of an old and worn-out Europe and that of young Latin America.

Inheritance of World War I ↑

Indeed, the majority of the groups mentioned above were willing to suffer for their visions in violent street fights. Notably in the last years of the war, the number of confrontations reached a climax in large parts of Latin America. Undoubtedly, the war left a heritage of violence. Events of the so-called “tragic weeks” that ensued in Argentina and Brazil in 1919 as well as the numerous massacres or strikes in other Latin American countries proved this. Doubtlessly, like many people in other world regions, Latin Americans had to face involvement in a global spiral of violence that expanded to a new transregional extent between 1914 and 1918. [49]

In November 1918, Latin Americans took to the streets to celebrate the news of the armistice in Europe and the end of the slaughter. Contemporaries discussed the global importance of the war and sensed its encompassing significance. This consciousness was not only restricted to the elites or the groups usually interested in politics. In fact, this insight spread to all social strata because all had shared in the experience of the effects of war.

In comparison with crises in the region during the 19 th century, the developments between 1914 and 1918 differed in longevity and intensity. Yet, it must be mentioned that the war did not directly cause the movements for social change nor the increased violence but rather served as a catalyst. In other words, the war aggravated long-standing conflicts and worsened urgent problems in Latin America which were discussed controversially in the media.

The Counter-Attack of the Central Powers ↑

The aim of the counter-attack of the Central Powers consisted first in expelling the enemy from Transylvania and next in eliminating Romania as a military factor for the rest of war and getting hold of its resources (especially food and mineral oil) which were classified as strategic. [28] They were seen as more important for supplying other fronts as well for German and Austro-Hungarian civilian territories.

The Central Powers proceeded against Romania in two directions: The First Army of confederates - a mixed union of German and Austro-Hungarian units under the command of Erich von Falkenhayn (1861-1922) - pushed the Romanian troops in Transylvania in tough battles at the end of October/early November, back across the southern Carpathian Mountains to Valachia and across the eastern Carpathian Mountains to the south-western side of Moldavia. The 9 th Army of the confederates (a mixed union of German, Bulgarian and Turkish troops) under the command of Field Marshal August von Mackensen (1849-1945) crossed from Bulgaria over the Danube at Silistra and heckled the Romanian army from the west and southeast. The aim of the common operation was to confine the Romanian army in eastern Valachia.

Admittedly, the invasion of Bucharest on 9 December 1916 did not mark the formal end of the campaign against Romania, however, the situation was stabilised insofar as the Central Powers no longer had to fear immediate danger from the Romanian side. The hostilities were delayed until early 1917 in southern Moldavia and blazed again from July until August, but the situation did not change. Russia, as an important power in the war, dropped out in March 1917 due to the revolutionary events there.

That part of the Romanian army which could be defeated due to the capture of Valachia and Dobruja was disarmed and arrested. The rest fled to Moldavia, a region which remained free and to which the Romanian court and government also fled. Reorganisation was implemented there through French military aid – a fact which outlined the growing threat for the Central Powers in 1918. When the crumbled units of the Central Powers left Romania in October, 1918, the Romanian army again came into play in Moldavia. Not only did it invade the formerly occupied Valachia and Dobruja, but it pushed forward to Transylvania and, in the spring and summer of 1919, to Central Hungary in order to combat the emerged Soviet Republic of Béla Kun (1886-1938) there.

Blockade and U-boats

With the Grand Fleet based at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands, the Royal Navy imposed a tight blockade on the North Sea to halt trade to Germany. Though of dubious legality, Britain mined large tracts of the North Sea and stopped neutral vessels. Unwilling to risk the High Seas Fleet in battle with the British, the Germans began a program of submarine warfare using U-boats. Having scored some early successes against obsolete British warships, the U-boats were turned against merchant shipping with the goal of starving Britain into submission.

While early submarine attacks required the U-boat to surface and give warning before firing, the Kaiserliche Marine (German Navy) slowly moved to a "shoot without warning" policy. This was initially resisted by Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg who feared that it would antagonize neutrals such as the United States. In February 1915, Germany declared the waters around the British Isles to be a war zone and announced that any vessel in the area would be sunk without warning.

German U-boats hunted throughout the spring until U-20 torpedoed the liner RMS Lusitania off the south coast of Ireland on May 7, 1915. Killing 1,198 people, including 128 Americans, the sinking ignited international outrage. Coupled with the sinking of RMS Arabic in August, the sinking of Lusitania led to intense pressure from the United States to discontinue what had become known as "unrestricted submarine warfare." On August 28, Germany, unwilling to risk war with the United States, announced that passenger ships would no longer be attacked without warning.

Neutral countries [ edit | edit source ]

European military alliances prior to the war.

Allies and Central Powers, early August 1914.

Allies and Central Powers, mid 1918.

The following table shows the timeline of the several declarations of war among the belligerent powers. Entries on a yellow background show severed diplomatic relations only, not actual declarations of war.

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