Nader Sohrabi: The One Year Event Summary of the General War, 1914-1915

Harb-ı Umuminin Bir Senelik Hulasa-ı Vukuatı, Sene 1914-1915

This short pamphlet is one of the very few writings available on WWI in the uncatalogued collection of writings in Ottoman Turkish at the Library of Congress. As a government propaganda pamphlet its authors are unnamed; it is most likely written in joint collaboration with Germans. Its unusually high print and binding quality compared to other Ottoman printed matter, unscathed after passage of a century, certainly points to Germany as the place of publication. True to its title, it is an event summary of the first year of war, yet it ignores the Ottoman troubles during the very first year and instead concentrates on Germany with a highly favorable view of its accomplishments. The pamphlet’s more important goal is to justify the Ottoman government’s decision to join the War and why it chose Germany as a partner in place of Britain, France, or Russia.
The following is not a verbatim translation but the tone is more or less preserved:
Germany is an entirely peaceful nation surrounded by aggressive neighbors. Yet, it managed to live in peace for 45 years to attain unending wealth. Its scientific knowledge and method, its machinery, railroads, ships, industry, and medicine, conquered the world. Known for being trustworthy and upright, the Germans’ ability to achieve success in every field is unprecedented in world history. In the last 45 years, German population has increased from 45 to 69 million, compared to the frozen growth of France or the tiny population growth of Britain in the same period. The present German national wealth of 330 billion Marks is a stark contrast to its 1895 figure of 40 billion, and surpasses France and Britain by a huge margin. With a yearly national income of 40 billion Marks, its foreign trade has grown to 20 billion, a sharp rise in a mere decade amounting to 4/5th of Britain’s foreign trade.

Britain and France, concerned with Germany’s massive progress, decided to set the world on fire and force all countries into war, including millions of innocent in the remotest regions to get rid of German competition and guarantee their own comfort and riches. Britain, France and Russia declared war on peaceful Germany when its emperor tried to avoid the war until the very last minute; not because it feared the enemy, but to save humanity from a dreadful calamity. This is proven by its publicly released records. Britain, France and Russia, on the other hand, planned for a war they wanted. They will receive God’s punishment for the terrible calamity they have unleashed upon the world.
Germany is a friend of Islam.

The biggest reason for the Allies’ hatred of Germany was the latter’s friendly attitude toward Islam. Germany fought with all its might to bring financial and political independence to Muslim nations. German merchants in the East never used their government’s power in support of their interests. The German merchants, with the help of legitimate capital, operated as friends of indigenous merchants in an honest fashion, never putting the latter’s means into illegitimate use. They always desired prosperity and strength for Muslim merchants as they knew German interests would be better served for it. The Allies in contrast, to enrich themselves, sought Muslim destruction and division of their goods, profitable items, lands and possessions amongst themselves.
The Germans and Austrians in contrast sought mutual benefits when trading with Muslim nations, and ensured their happiness and prosperity. From 1904 on, according to secret agreements between Britain and France, the latter enjoyed freedom of action in the West, especially Morocco, and the British in the East, Egypt in particular. As a result of this agreement, in 1912 France and in 1914 Britain made Morocco and Egypt their Protectorates respectively. To balance the British and French agreement, Britain and Russia signed a treaty in 1907 and as a result, Iran, a sovereign Islamic country, came to be owned by Russia in the north and Britain in the south. The aim of these extortionist measures was obvious: Russia wanted to possess Armenia and the straits, France wanted Syria, and the British aimed at the holy lands and the Arab nations. In short, their goal was to divide up all Islamic lands and to turn every Muslim into their servant. What did the Germans think at such a time? Their dealing with Turkey provides a very good answer: Germany did all it could to bring political and economic advancement in the Islamic world. To organize the Ottoman armies, it stationed its best officers in the Ottoman lands; it lent 250 million Ottoman liras to revive its finances; it took over the construction of Berlin-Baghdad railway that is critical to Turkey and endows Asian Turkey with a new economic life. Furthermore, Germany and Austria agreed to the abolition of capitulations to rid Turkey of the Allies’ yoke. The benefits Germany and Turkey have derived from this friendship has been a 10 fold increase in trade, from 17 million Marks in 1887 to 172 in 1912. The German pro-independence attitude toward Muslims is not limited to Turkey as attested by the emperor’s recent visit to Tangiers during which he recognized the king of Morocco as its absolute ruler. If Germany desires Europeans to respect Muslim religion, beliefs, and customs, the Allies want to suffocate them with the chain of servility.

The Allies simply waited to attack Germany at an opportune moment but before doing so they sought to weaken its friends. This was the rationale behind their protest against Germany military commission to Istanbul. Meanwhile Britain that had taken up the renovation of Ottoman Navy did everything it could to render it ineffective. The Young Turkish navy would have suffered irreparable damage if it had not switched over to Germany. The Allies also tried, unsuccessfully, to convince Austria against joining Germany in its defensive war.

The rest of the pamphlet was devoted to recounting technical details of war and results of military battles in the Western and Eastern fronts, war on commerce and the crippling effect of German submarines in that war, and celebration of German success in its first year.

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