Turkey in the First World War
The First World War was one of the deadliest and most tragic events in modern history. For more than four years, two powerful groupings of nations have fought against each other as humanity witnessed violence of a scale unprecedented in history. When the guns were silent again, nine million soldiers and seven million civilians were lying dead. Many millions survived, but life could never be the the same again for them. In fact, things would never be the same for the world.
The Ottoman Empire was the sick man of Europe. This was true, after seven centuries of conquests in three different continents the Empire had shrunk to a large extent. Territories were lost and the Porte was struggling to cope with nationalist movements and a decaying economy, in an futile attempt to keep the Empire intact. There was a weak Sultan on the throne, and the government was in the hands of a political entity called Committee of Union and Progress, which saw an alliance with Germany as the only way out.
The title of this web site is “Turkey's War” although the entity was officially called “Ottoman Empire” in those years, and Modern Turkey was founded in 1923. However we will refer to Turkey and the Turkish Army in this web site due to a number of reasons. For hundreds of years the Ottoman Empire was known in Western countries simply as “Turkey” and its army as the “Turkish Army”. It is also true that during the First World War, Ottoman armed forces consisted primarily of soldiers of Turkish ethnicity, although there were also Arabs, Caucasians, Jews, Armenians, Greeks, Slavs and others fighting alongside with the Turks under the banner of the Sultan. We will talk about the "Turkish army", but honour all who have sacrificed.
Another reason for
using “Turkey” instead of the “Ottoman Empire” is that in Turkish
culture, the First World War and especially the Gallipoli defense is
considered as the occasion that led to the “birth of a new nation”. The
war brought the Ottoman Empire to an end and the Republic of Turkey
emerged from its ashes. Also, for Turks, the war went uninterrupted for
ten years, starting with the Turkish-Italian War in Libya, then the Balkan Wars, the
World War and finally the Independence War. In other words, it was
indeed “Turkey’s War”.
Major Mehmet Ziya Bey (1888-1944), who fought in the First World War at the Caucasian front as an
|Turkeyswar.com / © Altay Atlı|