The Ottoman Empire and World War I 

 The End of the Ottoman Empire





The Sultan Mehmed V, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Franz Joseph


As a result of these wars and cheap imports from industrialized Europe, the financial structure of the empire became very precarious , the country's finances being controlled by the Ottoman Public Debt Administration, composed of and answerable to the Great Powers.




The Ottoman Empire and World War I


By the end of the 19th century, the main reason the Empire was not entirely overrun by Western powers came from the Balance of Power doctrine. Both Austria and Russia wanted to increase their spheres of influence and territory at the expense of the Ottoman Empire, but were kept in check mostly by the United Kingdom, which feared Russian dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean . Mehmed V's only significant political act was to formally declare Jihad against the Allies on November 11, 1914.



Germany came forward with favorable offers of assistance . Also during this time the Ottoman Empire planned to construct a Baghdad Railway under German control. If it had been completed the Berlin-Baghdad railway linkages would have enabled transport and trade from Germany through a port on the Persian Gulf, from which trade goods and supplies could be exchanged directly with the farthest of the German colonies, and the world. The journey home to Germany would give German industry direct supply of oil. The tension this proposed railway caused was one of the factors that led to World War I. In the years before the war, Germany had carefully cultivated the friendship of the Turkish government. The Turkish army had been trained by Germans, and many of its officers were Germans. Although at the opening of the war Turkey declared herself neutral, she soon showed herself an ally of the Central Powers as a result of British arrogance in the Sultan Osman affair, where Ottoman government ordered large battleships , the Sultan Osman I and Resadiye, but despite the payment for both ships, the United Kingdom confiscated them at the outbreak of World War I and renamed them as HMS Agincourt and HMS Erin. This caused some ill-feeling towards Britain among the Ottoman public. One of the leaders of the military Junta, Enver Pasha had signed a secret agreement with the Kaiser on Aug 2, 1914 , the same day battleships were impounded .


The SMS Goeben


After the war broke out, there were factions supporting both sides in the conflict. What decided the matter was when the German warships Goeben and , fleeing the British fleet, went into the then neutral port of Istanbul . The Germans in a brilliant move, realizing their ships were trapped, gave them to the Turks in exchange for the battleships never delivered by the British . This sealed the alliance with the Germans, who saw them as natural allies against the Russians .The Goeben was renamed the Yavuz Sultan Selim and the Goeben became the Midilli. As Turkish ships, both continued to be operated by their German crews, although they now wore the fez as official headgear.By November Turkey was officially at war with the allies .



Soldiers of the Ottoman Empire, most soldiers wore the

traditional kalabash hat and were issued German Mauser rifles


There were several important victories in the early years of the war, such as the Battle of Gallipoli commanded by Mustafa Kemal and the Siege of Kut; but there were setbacks as well, such as the disastrous Caucasus Campaign against the Russians where the Turkish Third Army lost 90,000 men out of 130,000. The Russians advanced into eastern Turkey as far as Koprukoy and took the port of Trabzon with amphibious operations .



 Battle of Gallipoli



 Britain On The Run - The Siege of Kut Al Amara



A German Rumpler fliers over the Pyramids at Giza. The Germans flew bombing raids into Egypt from Palestine in 1915 in support of the Turkish attack on the Suez Canal. The Ottoman Empire established an air force in 1909, one of the first in the world and gained experience in the Balkan Wars.


Another Turkish offensive was aimed at the Suez Canal by the Fourth Army under the command of Ahmad Cemal in 1915. The Army marched through the Sinai and was spottrd from the air by the British. The Turks were unable to establish a beachhead on the eastern side of the canal and withdrew.


Ottoman cavalry enter Beersheba in 1917


The Arab Revolt which began in 1916 turned the tide against the Ottomans at the Middle Eastern front, where they initially seemed to have the upper hand.The interior minister of the period, Talat Pasha, expressing the fear that the ethnic Armenians of the Empire would form a Fifth Column, ordered the arrest of Armenian leaders with a circular on April 24, 1915 and sent a request for the Tehcir Law on May 29, 1915, which initiated large scale deportations and massacres of the Armenians. In response was the creation of an Armenian resistance (April 1915) movement in the province of Van and the establishment of an Armenian Administration. The Ottoman government had accused the Armenians of being in collaboration with the invading Russian forces in eastern Anatolia against their native state because of the Armenian volunteer units in the Russian Army. Organized by the Ottoman government of that time, the Ottoman soldiers and Kurdish warlords killed Armenians indiscriminately both in their villages and as they marched south to camps in the Syrian Desert, during what is known as the Armenian Genocide.



End of the War and the Empire 


The last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire,

Mehmed VI (1918-1922)



Footage of the  crowning Crowning of

Mehmed VI as last Ottoman Sultan

The end of empire and the birth of modern Turkey.

Lands lost by the empire in the aftermath of WWI


In the closing year of the war the British occupied Damascas and Palestine .A settlement based on a secret Anglo-French agreement the Ottoman empire into British and French zones of influence .France took control of Syria and Lebanon, while Britain retained Egypt and was given control of the Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq .These were to be held as 'mandates' according to the League of Nations, but in reality were defacto colonies .


Mustafa Kemal, who became known as Ataturk

, became Turkey's first president in 1923



When the Armistice of Mudros was signed in 1918, Yemen, together with Medina, was the only part of the Arabian peninsula that was still under Ottoman control. However, the Ottomans were eventually forced to cede Yemen and Medina following the armistice, along with parts of present-day Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan which were gained by the Ottoman forces during the final stages of the war, following the Russian Revolution of 1917. Under the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres, the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire was solidified.

The new countries created from the remnants of the Empire currently number 40 (including the disputed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus). Given the fact that the Turkish peasantry of Anatolia dropped to 40% of the pre-war levels, regardless of the method used in calculations, the Ottoman Empire's casualties during World War I were significant.

The occupation of Constantinople along with the occupation of Smyrna mobilized the establishment of the Turkish national movement, which won the Turkish War of Independence (1919–1922) under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha. The Sultanate was abolished on November 1, 1922, and the last sultan, Mehmed VI Vahdettin (reigned 1918–1922), left the country on November 17, 1922. The new independent Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNA) was internationally recognized with the Treaty of Lausanne on July 24, 1923. The GNA officially declared the Republic of Turkey on October 29, 1923. The Caliphate was constitutionally abolished several months later, on March 3, 1924. The Sultan and his family were declared persona non grata of Turkey and exiled. Fifty years later, in 1974, the GNA granted descendants of the former Ottoman dynasty the right to acquire Turkish citizenship .







 Reforms of the Empire

1789- 1922


 The Ottoman Military:


Sipahis (cavalry)

Ottoman, Navy