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Old 06-16-2010, 04:04 AM
Location: Turn right at the stop sign
1,622 posts, read 2,777,275 times
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Originally Posted by AuburnAL
The Ottomans were not as pumped up for war as everyone else. The Young Turks felt they had to fight and pick the winning side because otherwise the winners would just divide up their lands in the aftermath whether they were neutral or losers. The problem was they'd bought two dreadnoughts from British shipyards. These were modern ships paid for largely out of donations by the populace. When the war started the British government announced that the newly finished ships were to be commandeered. The Germans said we have two dreadnoughts for you and a German admiral to command them. The honor of the nation and the people squarely besmirched by Britain with Germany acting as a white knight pretty much ensured the Ottomans had to join the Central Powers.
While the two German ships in question (the battlecruiser “Goeben” and the light cruiser “Breslau”) figured prominently in Turkey’s entry into the First World War, they were by no means the carrot used to lure them into joining the Central Powers.

Goeben and Breslau were originally transferred to the Mediterranean in 1912 as a demonstration of the power and reach of Imperial Germany. Their presence took on greater significance with the signing of the “Triple Alliance Naval Convention” in October of 1913. This agreement called for Italian, Austrian, and German naval assets to assemble at the Italian port of Messina should war break out. This combined fleet, which would be under the overall command of Austrian admiral, Anton Haus, would then go into action against the French fleet in hopes of destroying it, neutralize British navy units at the same time, and seize control of the Mediterranean. As of July 1914, this was still the standing operational plan when war in Europe seemed imminent.

In the latter part of July, Goeben was under repair at the Austrian naval base at Pola, while Breslau was anchored at Messina. Anticipating that a war declaration would come any day, Goeben’s commander, Admiral Wilhelm Souchon, had his ship readied to sail and left to join Breslau at Messina to await the arrival of the Italian and Austrian fleets. But instead of the Italian fleet showing up, Souchon received word on August 2nd that Italy had renounced the Triple Alliance and declared herself neutral. Souchon left Messina and made for the coast of Algeria where, on the 3rd of August, his two ships bombarded French shore installations at Philippeville and Bone. Souchon then got word from Imperial Naval Command that a secret agreement had been signed between Turkey and Germany on August 2nd which would bring Turkey onto the side of the Central Powers. Souchon was ordered to sail for Constantinople immediately.

Souchon made first for Messina, arriving on August 5th to refuel and also to send out a request that the Austrian fleet rendezvous with him to render assistance against the British navy ships that were now searching for him and also accompany him to Constantinople. As no formal state of war yet existed between Austria and Britain, the Austrians were reluctant to do much more than escort Souchon and his ships into the Adriatic should he choose to take that route. Realizing that the kind of help he sought from the Austrians would not be forthcoming, Souchon decided to go it alone and head to Constantinople.

What ensued next was one of the more interesting, or more correctly, entertaining episodes of the opening days of the First World War. It found the Goeben and Breslau steaming around the Mediterranean, playing cat and mouse with British forces dead set on destroying the two German ships. Fortunately for the Germans, and unfortunately for the British, the speed of the Goeben and Breslau along with poor communication between London and the British ships, misinterpretation of orders, and simple bumbling on the part of British naval commanders in the Mediterranean, all combined to save the German ships from being destroyed. On the evening of August 10th, the Goeben and Breslau were safely anchored off Constantinople.

The escape of the two vessels was a major embarrassment to the British, especially First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, for whom catching and sinking Goeben and Breslau had become a crusade. In addition, their presence in the port of a, at the moment, neutral country, generated a stream of protests from British, French, and Russian diplomats. For their part, the Germans had hoped that the arrival of Goeben and Breslau would remind the Turks of their commitment to the Central Powers and prod them into action. But the Turks had other ideas. Since they were not yet at war with Britain, France, or Russia, they wished instead to hold onto their neutrality a bit longer and enter the war at a time of their choosing.

But this left the Turks with a problem. Under international law, naval ships that belonged to a nation at war were not permitted to stay in the port of a neutral country for more than 24 hours. Allied diplomats demanded that the Turks make the Germans abide by the law and leave immediately since the 24 hour period had come and gone. The Ottoman government stalled the Allies as long as possible and then announced that Goeben and Breslau had been purchased from Germany. The Turks even held a formal ceremony on August 16, 1914 in which the Turkish flag was raised aboard the ships. Goeben became the “Yavuz Sultan Selim” and Breslau was renamed “Midilli”. Everyone knew that it was nothing but a charade; the “sale”, the new names, even the “Turkish” crews which were just German sailors wearing fezzes. Britain cried foul, but the response from the Turks was basically one of “Well, if you hadn’t stolen those two battleships we paid for, this wouldn’t have happened”. Not really able to argue the point, Britain dropped their protest and resolved to wait for the day when Goeben and Breslau would reappear in the Mediterranean so they could sink them.

However, the British had already missed their chance. Admiral Souchon had no intention of leaving the safety of Turkish waters and instead, Goeben and Breslau split their time between being anchored off Constantinople and cruising through the Black Sea. And it was in the Black Sea that Goeben and Breslau would go into action and finally bring the Ottoman Empire into the war. On October 27th, Goeben and Breslau, accompanied by the rest of the Turkish fleet, steamed into the Black Sea to conduct “exercises”. Early on October 29th, the fleet split up and began to attack Russian ships and port facilities. Considering the raid a great success, Admiral Souchon returned to Constantinople and said to his wife “I have thrown the Turks into the powder keg and kindled war between Russia and Turkey”. It was long believed that the Germans, acting on their own initiative, had undertaken the operation to force the reluctant Turks to finally honor the alliance agreement signed back on August 2nd. In truth, despite what Admiral Souchon stated, he was actually acting under direct, secret orders from the Ottoman Minister of War, Enver Pasha. The Minister wanted war with Russia and desired that Souchon create a pretext for that to happen. Though Souchon didn’t exactly follow Enver Pasha’s orders to the letter, the end result was the same. Russia formally declared war on Turkey on October 31st, and Britain and France followed suit on November 5th.

For almost the entirety of the war, Goeben and Breslau were in combat primarily against the Russian Black Sea Fleet up until December of 1917 when an armistice was signed between Russia and Turkey. In January of 1918, for the first and only time since escaping to Constantinople, Goeben and Breslau entered the Mediterranean to engage British naval forces off the island of Imbros. Two British ships were sunk, but while withdrawing from the area, both Goeben and Breslau struck mines. Breslau sank and Goeben was heavily damaged, leaving the ship unable to take part in any further action before the war ended.

From a historical standpoint, the Goeben is important for two reasons. For one, she fired both the opening shots of Germany's war against France, and also those that brought the Ottoman Empire into conflict with the Allies. Secondly, she was the only German ship of her class that survived the war and didn’t end up joining the rest of the German High Seas Fleet at the bottom of Scapa Flow. The Germans officially handed Goeben over to the Turks in November 1918, and after extensive refurbishment in the 1920’s, Goeben, now designated “TCG Yavuz”, became the flagship of the Turkish Navy. She remained in that role until finally being withdrawn from service in 1953.

Last edited by TonyT; 06-16-2010 at 04:22 AM..
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Old 06-19-2010, 09:32 PM
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I did not know that. It was very enlightening.
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Old 06-24-2010, 01:59 AM
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Well prior to WW1 the Ottoman empire was regarded as a sick man of Europe as it lost a great deal of terrorities in Eastern Euorope which were formely part of their empire as well as North Africa.

Anyway the Ottoman empire desired to modernise its military and brought advanced military goods from Germany and other places and had German officers train Ottoman troops.

When war was declared between the Ottoman empire and the allies, the British and French officials believed they could easily defeat the Ottoman empire, and had plans on occupying Constantable so that allied aid could easily reach Russia in its war against Germany. The British, who had many empire troops such as New Zealand and Australia stormed Galopoli as it was not so far from Constanable. However the invasion was an disaster and the British empire troops and French troops were compelled to withdraw. The British and the empire troops would not have any major sucess against the Ottoman empire until the later stages of the war.
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Old 04-05-2011, 01:11 PM
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uhm basically the ottoman empire did not want to go under control of germany and didnt want to fight in the war , sultan mehmed IV was trying to start a peace treaty and try to settle things down. the turkish and the bosnians were the same a long time ago. they were like family but differennce in language and i guess beliefs got in the way. sort of like what happened with yugoslavia.
i am from europe i moved here in 1995 because of the war in bosnia.. i am also learning about World War one in school i hope this sort of helps i mean i am 15 i am still trying to get my story right with what EXACTLY happened.
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Old 06-28-2013, 11:21 PM
Location: Saugus, CA
98 posts, read 86,546 times
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Originally Posted by oberon_1 View Post
Let me disagree. Everyone says the Ottoman Empire was finished when WW1 started. The young Turks staged a coup and they surprised everyone who fought them. Not only they defeated the allies at Gallipoli (Churchill also was certain of a quick victory), but as you correctly say, they also defeated the British at Kut (another surprise for the allies). Alenby started his campaign in Palestine, but after conquering Jerusalem, he stalled for more then a year before advancing north towards Damascus. If the Ottomans were finished, how could they put such resistance, keeping him back for so long?
As for Italy in WW2, how many major battles did they win? Before Mussolini, Italy wasn't much of a colonial power, but the Ottoman Empire had about 400 years experience in dominating large areas and fighting wars in both Asia and Europe. The Ottomans were considered undeveloped, yet they had a great army who fought very well under dire circumstances. Can anyone explain why the Turkish soldiers didn't put down their arms and ran home?
Your saying Italy sucked & the Ottomans were great, meanwhile they lost to them very easily in Libya & the Dodecanese...
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Old 06-29-2013, 11:49 AM
Location: The Triad (NC)
31,186 posts, read 68,323,786 times
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Originally Posted by other99 View Post
prior to WW1 the Ottoman empire was regarded as a sick man of Europe as it lost a great deal of terrorities in Eastern Euorope which were formerly part of their empire as well as North Africa.

Anyway the Ottoman empire desired to (regain some territory, to not lose any more territory but mostly to hold on to the influence and income it garnered from those territories and thus chose to) modernise its military (and stake those claims) ... and brought advanced military goods from Germany (rather than the Britain it's chief competition w/r/t such colonies) and other places and had German officers train Ottoman troops.
The rest of the basic stupidity at the root of WW1 really didn't matter much to Istanbul.
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