The First World War stands as one of the most devastating and sorrowful chapters in modern history. For over four years, two formidable coalitions of nations clashed in a conflict that witnessed an unprecedented scale of violence. As the guns fell silent, a grim tally of nine million soldiers and seven million civilians lay lifeless. Many millions did survive, but their lives were irreversibly altered. In truth, the world itself would never be the same.
The Ottoman Empire, often referred to as the "sick man of Europe," had, indeed, reached a state of decline. After seven centuries of conquests across three continents, the Empire had considerably contracted. It had lost territories and struggled to quell nationalist movements and a deteriorating economy in a futile bid to preserve its integrity. A frail Sultan occupied the throne, while the government was controlled by a political faction known as the Committee of Union and Progress, which saw an alliance with Germany as the only viable path forward.
The title of this website is "Turkey's War," even though during those years, the official entity was the "Ottoman Empire," and Modern Turkey was not founded until 1923. However, we shall use the terms "Turkey" and the "Turkish Army" throughout this website for several reasons. For centuries, the Ottoman Empire was commonly referred to in Western countries as "Turkey," and its military forces were known as the "Turkish Army." It's also worth noting that during the First World War, the Ottoman armed forces predominantly consisted of soldiers of Turkish ethnicity, although there were also Arabs, Caucasians, Jews, Armenians, Greeks, Slavs, and others who fought alongside the Turks under the banner of the Sultan. We will speak of the "Turkish Army" while paying tribute to all those who made sacrifices.
An additional rationale for opting to use "Turkey" rather than the "Ottoman Empire" is rooted in Turkish culture. The First World War, and particularly the defense of Gallipoli, is widely regarded as the catalyst for the "birth of a new nation." The war marked the conclusion of the Ottoman Empire and paved the way for the emergence of the Republic of Turkey. For Turks, the war spanned a continuous decade, commencing with the Turco-Italian War in Libya, followed by the Balkan Wars, the World War, and concluding with the Independence War. In essence, it was unquestionably "Turkey's War."
A wealth of literature has been dedicated to the First World War, including numerous books, documentaries, diaries, poems, and novels. However, there exists a significant dearth of resources that convey the war's narrative from the Turkish perspective. The majority of these available sources are penned in the Turkish language, rendering them inaccessible to researchers and history enthusiasts from other countries, as very few have been translated into Western languages. The use of Arabic script by the Turks during that era exacerbates the issue, making some sources even challenging for Turkish individuals who have not received specific training in Ottoman script.
This is unfortunate because, considering the overall underdevelopment of the Empire, Turkey's role in the First World War represented a remarkable achievement. Far from being a mere sideshow in the Great War, it exerted a decisive influence on the conflict's outcome. This history should be studied not solely by Turkish speakers but by the entire global community.
This is why I've chosen to establish this website. I aim to narrate the story from a Turkish perspective. Within this website, you will discover comprehensive information regarding the Turkish armed forces, their battles, notable figures, and much more. Many still hold the misconception that Turkey's involvement in the First World War was confined to the defense of Gallipoli. However, the Turkish forces engaged in multiple theatres, each with its own compelling stories.
It's important to note that this is not a professional website. It is authored and updated as time allows and is designed for a general audience rather than an academic one. Consequently, it's not advisable to rely on this site for academic reference purposes or in the context of academic papers. This doesn't imply a lack of confidence in the overall accuracy of the website's content; rather, it acknowledges that the materials on the site have not undergone formal peer review.
Please don't hesitate to share your thoughts and suggestions with me. This site welcomes contributions from all interested parties. It is essential to bear in mind that, like other websites with similar themes, the primary goal here is to disseminate knowledge and pay homage to those who endured hardship. Individuals who exploit the past to foment hatred, or those who manipulate history for their own jingoistic agendas, are not encouraged to participate. If this is your intention, kindly explore alternative platforms, rather than this website.
This site will remain a work in progress, with the addition of new content whenever the opportunity arises.
So, welcome to Turkey…The year is 1914…
Dr. Altay Atlı
Author - Turkeyswar.com
This website is dedicated to my great-grandfathers on both my mother’s and father’s sides.
Major Mehmet Ziya Bey (1888-1944) served as an officer in the Ottoman Army during the First World War, notably in the Caucasian front.
Göde Ali (1887-1956) emerged as one of the prominent leaders of the resistance in the Maraş region against the French occupation.
May they find eternal peace.