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German Involvement in Gallipoli Campaign

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  Quote Gallipoli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: German Involvement in Gallipoli Campaign
    Posted: 02-Sep-2004 at 12:43
Assist. Prof. smet Grgl
Bakent University


We are proud of our victory at Gallipoli, we deserved it. We are sorry, too, for the huge number of people we lost. On the other hand, this situation is a necessity for a war. We do not deal with the questions of if we could not finish this war with lesser lost or why we lost so many people in this war. The Turkish Nation does not question this.
During the 8,5 month Gallipoli Wars, we lost ten times as many people as we lost during the Independence War, which approximately lasted for 4 years. We won a huge victory in anakkale and saved the Turkish generation, Turkey and the independence of the Turkish nation with one tenth of the people we lost in Gallipoli. Our loss in Gallipoli is not normal; it is huge and excessive.

The reason for this loss was the few German commanders among the Turkish Army in Gallipoli Wars and especially the German commander who led the wars.
The German commanders increased the cost of our victory. They caused the Turkish Army to loose more. With the defence technique he used, the 5th Army commander Liman Pasha of Germany turned the Gallipoli Peninsula into a honeycomb on which bees would assemble. And, in return, he kept the half million English and French soldiers on this honeycomb but the Turkish soldiers paid its cost with their blood.

The main reason for this loss was that Liman Pasha gave the enemy the chance to land on the shore by changing the defence tactics the Turkish commanders had planned. Then the German Division and the Army-corps commanders often, randomly, day and night- pushed the soldiers to make counter-attacks that were not related to any war tactics. The soldiers made these counter-attacks against the destructive machine-gun fire of the enemy. Each counter-attack destroyed 5-10 thousand Turks. Even though the enemy was the side that attacked Gallipoli, the Turkish Army attacked 4-5 times more than the enemy did.

If the Turkish Army had begun the war with the defence tactics of the Turkish commanders, like in the "18th of March", Gallipoli Wars would have ended with the defeat of the English and the French in the first days of the war. In that case, we would not have lost the number of people equal to the loss of ten Independence wars.

It should not be expected that the Germans' intention in Gallipoli Wars could be clearly seen in the documents or sources, because a government hides its actual intentions toward the other one. The actual intention of a government can be revealed if they are analysed. We will define the Germans' intention in Gallipoli Wars by examining their practices.
On 24th of March 1918, the 5th Army, which would fight in Gallipoli, is ordered to be organised and Liman von Sanders, who is both a German General and a Turk Field Marshall, is appointed as the 5th Army Commander. Liman Pasha claims that this army is organised by his own ardour and says:

At last, on 24th of March, Enver decided to organise the 5th Army in the Gallipoli region. Of late years, German Embassy and Admiral usan agreed with my perpetual ardour about making the Turkish Headquarters take this decision1.

Liman makes a short explanation about his own appointment and says that Enver Pasha, on the same day, offered him the position of the 5th Army Commander, which he accepted "immediately2".
The main point here is that with the attack on 18th of March, a new front in the channel would open and the appointed commander who would defend Gallipoli and the capital city would be German. This person is the chairman of the German Improvement Commission. He came to Istanbul on 14th of December 1913 and his relationship with the Ottoman Empire was not good until the date of his appointment. The people who work for him describe Liman as follow:

He was not accepted by the Germans as an appropriate person for the Army-corps. He was incapable in adaptation to foreign conditions and was difficult in relationships with the people he worked with. He was a very proud, snobbish and angry man. He was not educated for high authority and was discourteous. 3

It was this kind of person appointed for the duty that would affect the future of World War I and of the government. Some sources claim that this appointment is related to the Enver-Liman struggle. Enver appointed Liman for this position because he did not like him and wanted him to go away from Istanbul. The reason for this extremely important appointment cannot be reduced to only a struggle. It is understood from the sources that there was a disagreement between them. Liman Pasha, in the beginning, did not completely obey Enver Pasha who was initially the Minister of the War Academy and became the Representative of Chief Commander after the war began. Liman Pasha considered himself superior to Enver Pasha who was actually superior to him. In this condition, Enver Pasha might have wanted to make him go away. Before the war began, the Turkish Ministry War Academy had argued about sending Liman Pasha back to Germany and appointing Goltz Pasha instead.5 In the end, Goltz Pasha came, but Liman's situation did not change. From the Turks' point of view, it showed that Goltz's appointment was arranged to banish Liman Pasha because of his incompatibility. However from Germans' point of view, the situation was different. During the early months of the war in November 1914 and after Sarkam Operations in February 1915, Enver Pasha offered the position of 3rd Army Commander to Liman Pasha twice.6 Liman Pasha refused this offer. Yet when the duty was becoming the army commander of Gallipoli on March of 1915 the same Liman Pasha answered: "I immediately accepted the offer".7
The question here is: Why did the Turkish Army offer this duty to this person - he is not unique - who refused the position of army commander twice before? Why did Liman Pasha immediately accept the offer related to the Gallipoli Front although he refused the offer related to Caucasian Front twice before?

There is no document for the answers of these questions, but the following conclusion is possible from the synthesis of the information available. Enver Pasha thought that Ottoman Empire was successful in World War I because of the success of Germany, so he did what the ally asked him to do. A German was appointed even as a general staff. At that point, it might have been that Germany had a request about Liman Pasha from the Ottoman Empire and then Liman Pasha was appointed as the 5th Army Commander. That Liman Pasha, who refused the position of army commander twice before, "immediately" accepted the offer related to 5th Army Commander supports the opinion below about this issue.
Germans took control on the Gallipoli front when Liman Pasha became the Army Commander of Gallipoli. Taking control on the Gallipoli Front was not limited with Liman Pasha. In the beginning of the Gallipoli Wars, there were Germans at important positions in the channel fortification; there were no Germans in Arburnu or Seddlbahir regions but in Kumkale region the commanders of the two-division army and of the division army were German. After May 1915, the number of German commanders had increased. The two-division army commanders, two group commanders, one army-corps commander were German in the Seddlbahir region. Five division army commanders and two army-corps commanders were again German in the Arburnu and Anafartalar region. A German became the army commander in the Saros region. Additionally, German officers were appointed as the group and army-corps chief and the artilleryman commanders.8

These appointments may be regarded as natural, because Germany was the ally. The German and Ottoman Empire fought together. On the other hand, we cannot see this kind of similar appointment in Caucasus, Philistine or Iraq Fronts, which were in war at the same period. In 1915, although two commanders, one of whom was the division army commander9 and one chief of general staff were German in the Caucasian Front; and one army commander, one division army chief of staff and one army-corps commander were German in the Philistine Front10 , there were no German officers in the Iraq Front.11

These data show that Germans gave a specific importance to Gallipoli and that they were determined to control the Gallipoli operation according to their plans and that they did not want to leave the operation to Turks.
zzettin allar, who worked for Atatrk as the chief of general during World War I in Gallipoli and 2,5 years after the war, wrote in his diary:

31st of March, 1915... Liman Pasha, 5th Army Commander; Usedom Pasha, Shore Inspector; Merten Pasha, Navy Commander; Weber Pasha, army-corps Commander in Anatolia; Cevat Pasha, Fortified position Commander; Esat Pasha, 3rd Army-corps Commander. It seems that the Germans want to take the control over the channel defence completely.12

The importance of Gallipoli for Germans can be indirectly seen in a German source. After explaining the Gallipoli Wars in the 9th volume of Grosse Krieg, published in 1927 and found in the German Archives, the following statements are being used about Gallipoli:

The Germans kept the enemy troops in the Gallipoli region during the summer and autumn of 1915 in Gallipoli Wars and kept them away from the (European) Western Front. On the other hand, the Germans did not use nearly any German force in this region, so this seriously helped German Western Front.

The English used 410.000 and French used 79.000 soldiers in Gallipoli Wars. During the wars, the enemy lost more than 252.000 soldiers.13

Turkey's considerable help in the Gallipoli Wars to the German Western Front is shown as an indirect result. Nevertheless it is not an indirect result. This was the Germans' expectation of the war. If the wars are examined, it is seen that German Commanders had this idea prior to the wars and they directed the wars to make these ideas realized. The important thing for them was not to rid Gallipoli of the enemy but to mass more English and French troops there. The German Western Front in Europe in difficulty could be relieved only in this way. This is evident from Liman Pasha's defence plan and practices, and the other commanders' administrations.

In the Gallipoli Wars, relieving the German Western Front by keeping half million English and French troops away from the European Western Front, and the massing of these troops to this region were not the result of these wars, but was what the Germans wanted from these wars.
The German practices that prove our approach to these issues have been examined in the paper.

1-Liman Van Sanders, Five Years in Turkey, Burak Publisher, 1968, p. 76.
2-ibid. p. 77
3-Jehuda L. Wallach, Anatomy of a Millitary Assistance, General Staff, ATASE Publisher, 1985, p. 121-122.
4-Ibid. p.158 etc.
5-ibid. p. 154-155
6-ibid. p.155-159
7-Five Years in Turkey, p. 77
8-smet Grgl, German Claims on anakkale Victory, Atatrk Reserche Center, Atatrk Ach. Cent., Issue 25, 1995.
9-smet Grgl, The Staff of 10-Year-War, Turkish History Institution, Y. Kredi Publisher, 1993, p.112-113
11-ibid. p. 162-163
12-Two and Half Years with Atatrk, Full General zzettin allar, Yap Kredi Publisher, 1993, p.34
13-The Big War in the Balkans and Turkey, Issue 95, Military Periodical, stanbul, 1934, p. 60-61.
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Cywr View Drop Down
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  Quote Cywr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Sep-2004 at 08:24
During the wars, the enemy lost more than 252.000 soldiers.

Hmm, 'the enemy'? Thats the total for Turkish killed AND wounded.

Gallipoli casualties (compiled from various sources)
  Died Wounded Total
Australia 8,709 19,441 28,150
New Zealand 2,701 4,852 7,553
Britain 21,255 52,230 73,485
France ( estimated ) 10,000 17,000 27,000
India 1,358 3,421 4,779
Newfoundland 49 93 142
Total Allies 44,072 97,037 141,109
Turkey 86,692 164,617 251,309

From the Wiki

(damn the forum software rules, i caneven edit those boxes)
Hmm, why is it on the far right
The more i learn about the new forum software, the less sense it seems to make.

Edited by Cywr
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Gallipoli View Drop Down

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  Quote Gallipoli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Sep-2004 at 09:47
According to the Turkish Armed Forces History Branch, the total number of dead is 310.000(unregistered); 55.000 (registered)
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Guests View Drop Down
  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Sep-2004 at 14:03
i don't know much about Gallipoli campaign but....seems to me like a stalemate or some kind of Pyrrhic victory. Its was just a needless bloodbath


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Jagatai Khan View Drop Down
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  Quote Jagatai Khan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Sep-2004 at 06:33
In schools they teach us "250.000 Turkish soldiers died in Gallipoli" but few yars ago a newspaper in Turkey explained the number of Turkish deaths in Gallipoli was 53.000.
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ihsan View Drop Down
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  Quote ihsan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-Oct-2004 at 14:12
Yes, the number of Turkish soldiers killed in action was approx. 55,000; whereas together with the wounded, lost, dead from sickness, etc, the total number of casualties reach near 250,000 IIRC.

Qaghan of the Vast Steppes

Steppes History Forum
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