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Turkish Historiography of the First
World War
Ömer Turan
a
a
Middle East Technical University, Ankara
Published online: 23 May 2014.
To cite this article: Ömer Turan (2014) Turkish Historiography of the First World War, Middle East
Critique, 23:2, 241-257, DOI: 10.1080/19436149.2014.905079
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Middle East Critique, 2014
Vol. 23, No. 2, 241–257, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19436149.2014.905079
Turkish Historiography of the First World
War
¨ MER TURAN
O
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Middle East Technical University, Ankara
ABSTRACT Turkish historiography on the First World War remained under the shadow of debates
about the role of the wartime Committee for Union and Progress (CUP) government for decades.
For that reason, Turkish historians preferred to work on the War of Independence (1919 – 23) under
the leadership of Ataturk rather than the First World War. Consequently, there is not a
comprehensive Turkish bibliography of the First World War on the 100th anniversary of its
commencement, despite the momentous impact of that conflict on Turkey. Nevertheless, one can
consult several accounts that military officers wrote after the war, and based on documents in
Turkish military archives. While these sources fill an important gap about military operations, they
are generally descriptive narratives with scant or no analyses. In addition, there also are many
memoirs that provide valuable information about some of the issues that are neglected in the military
accounts. In the last decade, several researchers have begun to examine many of the previously
ignored topics pertaining to events in Anatolia during the war. Even though there still is no Turkish
text that provides a comprehensive account of all the intertwined diplomatic, economic, political,
military, and social dimensions of the First World War, these recent works give hope that such a
long-needed book is on the horizon.
KEY WORDS : Armenians; Committee of Union and Progress; Dardanelles; First World War;
Ottoman Empire; Turkish Historiography; Turkish Republic; War of Independence
The Ottoman Empire was a high point of Turkish history. It was the most powerful and
most long-lasting Turkish polity, and its rule extended over three continents. The First
World War ended that empire. Therefore, the First World War occupies an important place
in Turkish history. After a hundred years, however, Turkish historians still have not
created a huge library of written works on this war. This article aims to provide an
overview of the extant Turkish literature. I will do this by: Assessing the works about the
First World War from the military, political, social, cultural and economic perspectives;
discussing their strengths and/or weaknesses; and pointing out the most studied and most
neglected aspects of the war.
During the First World War, the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) political
organization governed the Ottoman Empire. The CUP had come to power through a coup
d’e´tat, known as the Revolution of 1908. Although it had not abolished the Ottoman
Correspondence address: Omer Turan, Middle East Technical University, History Department, Ankara, Turkey.
Email: [email protected]
q 2014 Editors of Middle East Critique
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242
O. Turan
monarchy, the sultan and leading politicians loyal to him were stripped of effective
authority. The CUP initially enjoyed widespread support, but it also had opposition,
which grew stronger after 1913 and continued during the war years (see further the
article by Murat Kaya in this issue). Immediately after signing the armistice agreement
that ended the Ottoman participation in the war, the CUP government resigned and its
leaders departed Istanbul for exile in Germany. Ever since the Ottoman defeat, the
subject of the First World War in Turkey has been under the shadow of discussions about
the CUP, whose policies have remained controversial. With regard to the literature, there
are essentially two opposing camps: pro- and anti-CUP. According to the supporters of
CUP rule, neutrality was impossible during the First World War, and there was no other
choice than to align with Germany, which de facto obliged the Ottoman government to
join the war. Despite well thought-out strategy and heroism, the Ottoman army lost its
first major engagement with invading Russian forces at Sarıkamıs¸ in eastern Anatolia.
The forced deportation of the Armenians during the war was necessary, because their
leaders had revolted against the Ottoman Government and were aiding the Russians.
Nevertheless, the deportation was conducted properly under the conditions of war. The
Arabs also revolted, after being bribed by British Intelligence to betray the empire.
Despite the fact that the Ottoman forces fought bravely on all fronts, the Ottoman
Empire was considered one of the defeated powers at the end of the war, due to the
failures of Germany. The memoirs of CUP leaders, such as Talat Pasha,1 Cemal Pasha,2
and Halil Mentes¸e,3 are the best examples of this perspective. This understanding can
also be found in works that represent an official view, albeit with different shades of
meaning.
In contrast, critics of the CUP maintained that the empire could have stayed neutral and
avoided participating in the war. They claimed that CUP leaders bypassed state institutions
and mechanisms, and without informing the prime minister, propelled the empire into the
First World War. Moreover, they were too weak to resist German pressures and agreed to
remove the heavy pressure of both the British and Russian armies on German troops in
Europe by opening the Caucasus and Suez Canal fronts, which in turn caused tens of
thousands of Turkish soldiers to lose their lives. Cemal Pasha’s arrogant way of ruling
caused the Arab Revolt, and the CUP leaders unrealistic daydreaming were cataclysmic
factors in the demise of the Ottoman Empire. The books of conservative nationalists I˙smail
¨ ztuna are the best examples of this view.4 However, there
Hami Danis¸mend and Yılmaz O
are many works that fall into neither of these two camps. What I want to emphasize is that
discussions over the CUP survived in the field of history for decades. People first believed
in something then searched for proof to support their opinions. Limited sources and
difficulties in reaching Turkish and foreign archive materials paved the way for these
approaches.
1
2
3
4
T. Pas¸a (1946) Talat Pas¸a’nın Hatıraları, Enver Bolayır (ed.) (I˙stanbul: Bolayır Yayınevi).
C. Pas¸a (1922) Hatırat 1913–1922 (I˙stanbul: Ahmet I˙hsan ve S¸u¨rekası Matbaası); Erinnerungen eines
Tu¨rkischen Staatsmannes (Mu¨nchen); and A. D. Pasha (1922) Memoires of a Turkish Statesman 1913–1919
(London).
H. Mentes¸e (1986) Osmanlı Mebusan Meclisi Reisi Halil Mentes¸e’nin Anıları, I˙. Arar (ed.) (I˙stanbul: Hu¨rriyet
Vakfı Yayınları).
I˙. H. Danis¸mend (1972) I˙zahlı Osmanlı Tarihi Kronolojisi, vol. IV (I˙stanbul: Tu¨rkiye Yayınevi), pp. 410–450;
¨ ztuna (1998) Osmanlı Devleti Tarihi, vol. I (Ankara: Ku¨ltu¨r Bakanlıg˘ı), pp. 648 –669.
and Y. O
Turkish Historiography of the First World War
243
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First World War-era Sources
Two valuable Turkish books were written during the war. The first one, written by Major
Ali Rıza and published in 1916, is about the Greek army in the First World War and the
distribution of Greek and Ottoman forces, and supported by tables.5 The second source is a
smaller booklet, published in 1917, about the torpedoes and bombs that were used in the
Dardanelles, and it discusses the methods used to defeat the enemy.6 Although this book
has no listed author, I am assuming that a Turkish officer wrote it. It is obvious that these
books had limited circulation before the war ended.
During the war some reports that foreigners had published about conditions on the
Ottoman fronts were translated and printed in Turkish. Although translations are out of the
scope of this article, I will briefly touch on those published during the war years. The first is a
British government report about the military movement in Egypt from November 1914 to
March 1916. It was translated by Captain Rahmi and published in 1916.7 The second
translation, by the Intelligent Division of the Ottoman General Staff, is a British government
report about British military movement in the Dardanelles and was published in 1917.8 The
third report is about the British army’s capture of Jerusalem, written by W. T. Massey, the
official correspondent of the British Army in Iraq, and published in The Times on December
17, 1917; again the Intelligence Division of the Ottoman General Staff translated it.9
As the war was ending, some influential foreigners who had held key diplomatic
positions for their governments in the Ottoman Empire published their memoirs. The most
remarkable ones include the 1917 memoirs of Andre Mandelstam, the chief translator of
the Russian embassy in Istanbul up to the eve of the Ottoman Empire entering the war as
an ally of Germany and an enemy of Russia, Britain and France;10 the 1918 memoirs of
Henry Morgenthau, the American ambassador in Istanbul, 1913 – 1916;11 and the memoirs
of German adviser and commander for the Ottoman Empire during the war, Liman von
Sanders, which were published in 1919.12 Significantly, all three of these men were critical
of the CUP leaders. Cavid Pasha wrote and published the first Turkish book critical of
these same leaders in 1918.13 The CUP leaders felt it necessary to defend themselves
against the accusations in these published memoirs, even though they were living under
the stressful conditions of exile. Cemal Pasha’s memoirs, published in 1922, mention in
several places the names of American Ambassador Morgenthau and the Russian Embassy
translator Mandelstam, and responds to their accusations. In contrast, without mentioning
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
A. Rıza (1916) Harb-i Umumi’de Yunan Ordusu (I˙stanbul: Umumi I˙stihbarat S¸ubesi, 1332 [1916]).
C¸anakkale’de Torpillere Kars¸ı Korunma (I˙stanbul: Karargah-ı Umumi, 1333 [1917]).
Mısır’ın Mu¨dafaası, Erkan-ı Harp Kıdemli Yu¨zbas¸ısı Rahmi (tr.), (I˙stanbul: 1332 [1916]).
C¸anakkale Raporu, Hu¨samettin (tr.), (I˙stanbul: Matbaa-i Amire, 1333 [1917]).
W. T. Massey (1918) Kudu¨s Nasıl Zapt Edildi (I˙stanbul: Karargah-ı Umumi I˙stihbarat S¸ubesi, 1334 [1918]).
A. Mandelstam (1917) Le Sort de l’Empire Ottoman (Paris: Librairi Payot).
His memoires first were published in a periodical called The World’s Work in 1918, and later as a book,
H. Morgenthau (1918) Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story (New York: Doubleday).
L. von Sanders (1919) Fu¨nf jahre Tu¨rkei [Five years in Turkey], (Berlin: Auguft Scheri Gim. b. H.). The book
was translated into Turkish with the title of Tu¨rkiye’de Bes¸ Yıl and published by the Turkish General Staff in
1337 [1921]).
M. M. Cavid (1918) Irak Seferi ve I˙ttihat Hu¨ku¨metinin Hayalat ve Cehalet-i Siyasiyesi (I˙stanbul: Mu¨dafaa
Matbaası, 1334 [1918]).
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244
O. Turan
any names, Talat Pasha stated, ‘I decided to write my memoires as an answer to unjust
accusations that are directed to the Ottoman State.’14
Following the end of the First World War, military commanders began to write their
memoirs and books on the war. These include: Ali Fuad Erden, the First World War Corps
Commander in Syria, Paris’ten Tih Sahrasına;15 the book by S¸erif Ko¨pru¨lu¨,16 the second
commander of the Ninth Army Corps who fought in Sarıkamıs¸; the conference text of Fevzi
C
¸ akmak who later became the Head of Turkish General Staff, Bu¨yu¨k Harpte S¸ark Cephesi
Hareketleri;17 the memoirs of Kazım Karabekir, who worked at the headquarters of the
Turkish General Staff and later became commander of army corps, Cihan Harbine Neden
Girdik, Nasıl Girdik, Nasıl I˙dare Ettik;18 Ali Fuad Cebesoy’s memoirs, Bu¨yu¨k Harpte
Osmanlı I˙mparatorlug˘u’nun (1916 –1917) Yılındaki Vaziyeti, Biru¨ssebi-Gazze Meydan
Muharebesi ve 20. Kolordu;19 and the memoirs of Ali I˙hsan Sabis, who worked at the
headquarters of the Turkish General Staff and then became Corps Commander, Harp
Hatıralarım.20 Other commanders also wrote and published their memoirs about a front, an
event, an army, etc. during the First World War. While the authors described the events they
were involved in, they also presented their services. Some of them had documents as well.
Almost all of them were published at the Military Printing House.21 Even though they were
not published independently, some memoirs and works of First World War officials were
published as an annex to Askeri Mecmua, the military journal of the Turkish General Staff.22
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
Talat Pasha was assassinated in Berlin on March 15, 1921 by an Armenian taking revenge for what
happened to the Armenians of Anatolia during the war. His memoirs first appeared in Vakit newspaper
and subsequently were published in English as Posthumous Memoires of Talaat Pasha (1921) Current
History, 15, pp. 287 – 295. Talat Pasha’s role in the CUP government is covered in detail in the articles
in this issue.
A. F. Erden (1920) Paris’ten Tih Sahrasına (I˙stanbul: 1336 [1920]).
This was the first book critical of Sarıkamıs¸ disaster. S¸. Ko¨pru¨lu¨ (1924) Sarıkamıs¸ I˙hata Manevrası ve Meydan
Muharebesi (I˙stanbul: Necm-i I˙stiklal Matbaası, 1338 [1924]).
M. F. C¸akmak (1936) Bu¨yu¨k Harpte S¸ark Cephesi Hareketleri, S¸ark Vilayetlerimizde, Kafkasyada ve I˙randa
(Ankara: Genelkurmay Matbaası).
K. Karabekir (1937–38) Cihan Harbine Neden Girdik, Nasıl Girdik, Nasıl I˙dare Ettik?, vol. I –II (I˙stanbul:
Tecelli Basımevi).
A. F. Cebesoy (1938) Bu¨yu¨k Harpte Osmanlı I˙mparatorlug˘u’nun (1916–1917) Yılındaki Vaziyeti, Biru¨ssebiGazze Meydan Muharebesi ve 20. Kolordu (I˙stanbul: Askeri Matbaa).
Ali I˙. Sabis (1990–1993) Harp Hatıralarım, Birinci Du¨nya Harbi, Vols. I– V, T. Sabis (ed.) (I˙stanbul: Nehir
Yayınları).
A. M. Nes¸et (1930) Bu¨yu¨k Harpte Romanya Cephesinde 6. Tu¨rk Kolordusu (I˙stanbul: Askeri Matbaa); A. M.
Nes¸et (1930) Bu¨yu¨k Harpte Suriye Cephesinde 48. Piyade Fırkası (I˙stanbul: Askeri Matbaa); E. H. Miralayı
(Kurmay Albay) Baki (Vandemir) (1933) Bu¨yu¨k Harpte Kafkas Cephesi, C.II, (I˙stanbul: Askeri Matbaa);
K. Y. Nihat (1934) Balkan ve Tu¨rkiye’de Bu¨yu¨k Harp (I˙stanbul: Askeri Matbaa); A. Samih (1934) Bu¨yu¨k
Harpte Kafkas Cephesi Hatıraları (Ankara: Bu¨yu¨k Erkanı Harbiye Matbaası); Y. N. Alpkartal (1938) Bu¨yu¨k
Harpte Makedonya Cephesi (Ankara: Askeri Matbaa); K. Karabekir (1939) Erzincan ve Erzurum’un
Kurtulus¸u (I˙stanbul); A. Gu¨ndu¨z (1943) S¸eria Muharebeleri (I˙stanbul: Genelkurmay Yayınları); A. Baytın
(1946) ˙Ilk Du¨nya Harbinde Kafkas Cephesi, 29 Tu¨men ve 3 Alay Sancag˘ı (Hatıralar) (I˙stanbul: Vakit
Matbaası); A. F. Erden (1948) Cihan Harbinde 4 Ordu Mu¨cmel Tarihc esi (Ankara: Genelkurmay
Yayınları).
K. Y. Ru¨s¸tu¨ (1934) Bu¨yu¨k Harpte Baku Yollarında 5. Kafkas Fırkası, 93 Sayılı Askeri Mecmuanın Tarih
Kısmı, 34; ˙I. H. Berkok (1934) Bu¨yu¨k Harpte S¸imali Kafkasya’daki Faaliyetlerimiz ve 15. Fırkanın Harekatı
ve Muharebeleri, 94 Sayılı Askeri Mecmuanın Tarih Kısmı, 35; M. S¸. Akar (1935) C
¸ anakkale, Arıburnu
Savas¸ları ve 27. Alay, Askeri Mecmua Tarih Kısmı, 40.
Turkish Historiography of the First World War
245
Memoirs also were published in other periodicals.23 Publication of the memoirs of the First
World War commanders is still continuing.24
The memoirs mentioned above were not those of simple soldiers, as almost all Ottoman
soldiers were illiterate, as most Ottoman subjects did not know how to read and write
during those years. However, there is one soldier’s memoir, that of Yusuf Ercan, who
wrote about the establishment of the Sohum Detachment and its activities in Caucasia.
This unit was organized secretly to assist the independent movements in northern
Caucasia after the Bolshevik Revolution.25 The stories of the war from the Ottoman
soldiers’ point of view also can be seen through their letters written by themselves or their
friends.
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Creating an Official History of the First World War
The 1920s witnessed the publication of research and textbooks on the war written by the
Turkish officers. Cihan Harbi’nde Osmanlı Harekatı Tarihc esi – C
¸ anakkale Muharebatı,
published by the Military Printing House in 1922, deals with prewar developments and the
attacks on and the defense of the Dardanelles.26 Harb-i Umumi’de Osmanlı Cepheleri
Vakayii, written by Major Mehmet Emin, a teacher at the Military Academy, was written
as a general textbook. It begins with the reasons for the Ottoman Empire’s involvement in
the First World War, and then describes the war fronts in the Caucasus, Sinai and
Palestine, Iraq, Yemen, the Dardanelles and Romania.27 During these years a series of
textbooks were published for use in the military academies. They were mainly about the
Palestinian and Dardanelles fronts and published by the Printing House of the Military
Academies. Although some of the authors are not indicated, it is clear that officer teachers
of the military academies wrote all of them.28
23
24
25
26
27
28
R. Erdel (1970) Bir Yedek Subayın Birinci Du¨nya Harbi Hatıraları, Hayat Tarih Mecmuası, 1, pp. 12 –27;
I˙. Akelsoy (1970) I. Du¨nya Harbinde Bir Tu¨rk Subayının Afrika Hatıraları, Hayat Tarih Mecmuası, 5,
pp. 22–39.
F. Altay (1970) Go¨ru¨p Gec irdiklerim, On Yıl Savas¸, 1912–1919 ve Sonrası (I˙stanbul: I˙nsel Yayınları); H. Pas¸a
(1972) ˙Ittihat ve Terakki’den Cumhuriyet’e Bitmeyen Savas¸ – Kutu¨’l-Amare Kahramanı Halil Pas¸a’nın
Anıları, T. Sorgun (ed.) (I˙stanbul: Yedigu¨n Yayınları); E. Bu¨lkat (1975) Esat Pas¸a’nın C
¸ anakkale Hatıraları
(I˙stanbul: Baha Matbaası); I˙. L. Pas¸a (1988) Bir Serencam-ı Harb: Harb-i Umumi Safahatına Dair Hatırat,
B. Go¨ksel (ed.) (I˙zmir: Ku¨ltu¨r ve Turizm Bakanlıg˘ı); A. F. Erden (2003) Birinci Du¨nya Harbi’nde Suriye
Hatıraları, Alpay Kabacalı (ed.) (I˙stanbul: Tu¨rkiye I˙s¸ Bankası); I˙. C
¸ alıs¸lar (1997) On Yıllık Savas¸ın Gu¨nlu¨g˘u¨,
I˙zzettin C¸alıs¸lar, Balkan, Birinci Du¨nya ve I˙stiklal Savas¸ları (I˙stanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları).
¨ . Turan (1996) Bols¸evik I˙htilalini Takip Eden Gu¨nlerde Kuzey Kafkasya’da Bag˘ımsızlık Hareketleri ve
O
Yusuf Ercan’ın Sohum Mu¨frezesi Hatıraları, Askeri Tarih Bu¨lteni, 40, pp. 136–164.
Cihan Harbi’nde Osmanlı Harekatı Tarihc esi – C¸anakkale Muharebatı (Dersaadet; Matbaayı Askeriye, 1338
[1922]).
E. H. B. M. Emin (1922) Harb-i Umumi’de Osmanlı Cepheleri Vakayii (I˙stanbul: Erkan-ı Harbiye-i Umumiye
Matbaası).
Cihan Harbi’nde Osmanlı Harekatı Tarihc esi – C¸anakkale Muharebatı (Dersaadet (I˙stanbul): Matbaayı
Askeriye, 1338 [1922]); E. H. Y. D. Feridun (1927) Bu¨yu¨k Harp – Tu¨rk Cepheleri, Filistin Cephesi, Harp
Akademileri 1926–1927 Tedrisatı (I˙stanbul: Yıldız-Harp Akademileri Komutanlıg˘ı Matbaası); Bu¨yu¨k Harp
Tu¨rk Cepheleri, C
¸ anakkale Cephesi (I˙stanbul: Yıldız Askeri Akademiler Kumandanlıg˘ı Matbaası); Bu¨yu¨k
Harp Tu¨rk Cepheleri, Filistin Cephesi (I˙stanbul: Yıldız Askeri Akademiler Kumandanlıg˘ı Matbaası); E. H. M.
B. Bey (1929) Tu¨rk Cepheleri: C
¸ anakkale Muharebesi Notları (I˙stanbul: Harp Akademileri Komutanlıg˘ı
Matbaası).
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246
O. Turan
The most detailed political history of the First World War in Turkish is comprised of the
related books of Yusuf Hikmet Bayur’s well known series, Tu¨rk I˙nkılap Tarihi.29 The
author was a diplomat, politician, and historian. He began to write the series on an order by
the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The first volume of the series
was published in 1940. The third volume of the series covers the First World War years; it
consists of four books, published between 1953 and 1967. In his introduction to the first
volume, Bayur claims that while he was writing about the developments that led to the end
of the empire, he had to explain the events, mistakes, lies, deceits, and the unconsciousness
that played a role in the process, the characteristics of the rulers, their identities and values,
and their service to the foreigners whether willingly or unwillingly. He added that to keep
his neutrality, he widely used the words and books of people who were involved in those
events, and different kinds of documents, and then he gave his own opinion.30 He used
memoirs and both political and military history books published in Turkey and abroad.
Additionally, he used the documents of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archives,
which are still unavailable to researchers today.
The first volume of the series covers pre-war developments and events of 1914– 15. The
second book concentrates on the fighting in the Dardanelles. A likely reason for such
detailed attention is that not only was the area the site of the Ottoman Empire’s most
significant victory—Gallipoli—in an otherwise disastrous war, but also that same victory
that brought Mustafa Kemal (later Ataturk) to national attention. The third book deals with
the fighting from 1915– 1917. The forced Armenian deportation of 1915 is mentioned very
briefly in the chapter about military activities on the Caucasian front. Most of the book
describes the fighting and other events in the empire’s southern, Arab provinces (Iraq,
Syria, including Palestine and the Sinai Peninsula, and Arabia, where the hereditary ruler
of Mecca supported a British-backed uprising in 1916), and in the East (Iran and
Afghanistan). The fourth book deals with the last year of the war, covering the Bolshevik
Revolution in Russia, developments in the Caucasus and the situation of Turkic
communities in the Russian Empire, and the political, ideological and economic
developments in Turkey. Bayur contends that the CUP leaders were responsible for the
empire’s defeat because they made it join the war, and then failed to develop any effective
military strategy. Moreover, they dampened feelings of national resistance, which was a
major difficulty for the national movement in Anatolia in late 1918 and early 1919.
The most important name in terms of the Turkish official history line is Enver Ziya Karal,
who wrote a four-volume history of the late Ottoman period.31 The first volume was
published in 1946, but it is the third volume of 2,500 pages that pertains to the First World
War. However, it is the much shorter last volume, edited and published by Karal’s daughter,
Sec il Karal Akgu¨n, after his death, that is the best-known book in the series.32 It also covers
the First World War, but in only 200 pages, and it provides an evaluation that has become the
official—even popular—view of the war. According to Karal, Turkish soldiers fought with a
new consciousness of homeland in the Dardanelles, and Young Turk commanders had an
29
30
31
32
Y. H. Bayur (1953–67) Tu¨rk I˙nkılabı Tarihi, vol. III, B. 1–4 (Ankara: Tu¨rk Tarih Kurumu). Yusuf Hikmet
Bayur was the grandson of famous Ottoman Prime Minister Kamil Pasha.
Bayur, vol. III, B.1, pp. xii–xiv.
Enver Ziya Karal was a professor of Late Ottoman and Turkish Republic history.
E. Z. Karal (1996) Osmanlı Tarihi, vol. IX (to keep consistency . . . ), I˙kinci Mes¸rutiyet ve Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı
(1908–1918) (Ankara: Tu¨rk Tarih Kurumu).
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Turkish Historiography of the First World War
247
important role in developing that new consciousness. He credits Mustafa Kemal as being the
most outstanding of these commanders, asserting that the latter’s energy, firmness, and
ability to see ahead of his time influenced the First World War and its long-term results.
Karal also suggests that Mustafa Kemal prepared the direction for the Second World War.33
The Turkish Armed Forces created the largest publication pertaining to the First World
War in Turkey. The Military History and Strategic Studies (ATASE) Department of the
Turkish General Staff keeps the military archives and museums, organizes military history
activities, and produces publications. ATASE’s publication catalogue contains 13 groups,
one of which is about the First World War. In this group there were 50 books in 2012.
A few titles are the second editions of previously published books, some are memoirs, and
others are translations. However, most publications in this group are research books.34 For
example, Birinci Du¨nya Harbi’nde Tu¨rk Harbi [English translation] is the title of the most
important series of books in the First World War category. This is the most comprehensive
study the First World War from the aspect of military history. The series is comprised of
nine volumes: Volume I deals with the military preparations of the war; volume II, with
the Caucasian front; vol. III, with the Iran-Iraq front; vol. IV, with the Sinai-Palestine
front; vol. V, with the Dardanelles front; vol. VI, with the Arabian and Yemen fronts and
the Libyan movement; vol. VII, with the European fronts; vol. VIII, with Turkish naval
movements; and vol. IX, with Turkish air movements. Each volume consists of two or
three books, and each book is no less than 500– 600 pages. Each book is written by one or
more officer/s. What makes these books most valuable is that they are based on the
documents of the military archives of ATASE. Important events and movements are
described day-by-day, and division-by-division according to the documents, and they
contain many maps, sketches, and tables.35 Two other ATASE books related to the First
33
34
35
Karal, pp. 475 –476.
ATASE online website. Available at http://www.tsk.tr/9_yayinlar/9_4_genelkurmay_atase_baskanligi_
yayin_katalogu/pdf/yayin_katalogu.pdf, accessed August 1, 2013).
C. Akbay (1970) Birinci Du¨nya Harbi’nde Tu¨rk Harbi, Osmanlı I˙mparatorlug˘u’nun Siyasi ve Askeri
Hazırlıkları ve Harbe Giris¸i, vol. I (Ankara: Genelkurmay Bas¸kanlıg˘ı); N. Kır & H. Altınbilek (1978) Birinci
Du¨nya Harbi’nde Tu¨rk Harbi, Kafkas Cephesi, III. Ordu Harekatı, vol. II, B.1– 2 (Ankara: Genelkurmay
¨ kse (1979) Birinci Du¨nya Harbi’nde Tu¨rk Harbi, I˙ran – Irak Cephesi, Kuttu¨’l
Bas¸kanlıg˘ı); N. Fırat & Necati O
Ammare’nin Du¨s¸mesine Kadar Yapılan Harekat (1914–1918), vol. III, B.1 (Ankara: Genelkurmay
¨.C
Bas¸kanlıg˘ı); O
¸ alhan (2002) Birinci Du¨nya Harbi’nde Tu¨rk Harbi, I˙ran – Irak Cephesi 1914–1918, vol. III,
¨ stu¨nsoy (1979) Birinci Du¨nya Harbi’nde Tu¨rk Harbi,
B.2 (Ankara: Genelkurmay Bas¸kanlıg˘ı); Y. Okc u & H. U
Sina – Filistin Cephesi, Harbin Bas¸langıcından I˙kinci Gazze Muharebeleri Sonuna Kadar, vol. IV, B.1
¨ nalp & H. U
¨ stu¨nsoy (1986) Birinci Du¨nya Harbi’nde Tu¨rk Harbi,
(Ankara: Genelkurmay Bas¸kanlıg˘ı); K. O
Sina – Filistin Cephesi, I˙kinci Gazze Muharebesi Sonundan Mondros Mu¨tarekesi’ne Kadar Yapılan Harekat
(21 Nisan 1917–30 Ekim 1918), vol. IV, B.2 (Ankara: Genelkurmay Bas¸kanlıg˘ı); M. Saral, A. Orhon & S¸.
Erkal (1993) Birinci Du¨nya Harbi’nde Tu¨rk Harbi, C
¸ anakkale Cephesi Harekatı (Haziran 1914–25 Nisan
1915), vol. V, B.1 (Ankara: Genelkurmay Bas¸kanlıg˘ı); R. Hallı, R. Yig˘itgu¨den & M. Saral (1978) Birinci
Du¨nya Harbi’nde Tu¨rk Harbi, C
¸ anakkale Cephesi, Amfibi Harekatı, vol. V, B.2 (Ankara: Genelkurmay
¨ kse (1980) Birinci Du¨nya Harbi’nde Tu¨rk Harbi, C¸anakkale Cephesi Harekatı
Bas¸kanlıg˘ı); I˙. Teks¸u¨t & N. O
(Haziran 1915–Ocak 1916), vol. V, B.3 (Ankara: Genelkurmay Bas¸kanlıg˘ı); F. Gu¨lec (1978) Birinci Du¨nya
Harbi’nde Tu¨rk Harbi, Hicaz, Asir, Yemen Cepheleri ve Libya Harekatı (1914–1918), Vol. VI (Ankara:
Genelkurmay Bas¸kanlıg˘ı); C. Akc akayalıog˘lu (1967) Birinci Du¨nya Harbi’nde Tu¨rk Harbi, Avrupa Cepheleri,
Galic ya Cephesi, vol. VII, B.1 (Ankara: Genelkurmay Bas¸kanlıg˘ı); F. Gu¨lec (1967) Birinci Du¨nya Harbi’nde
Tu¨rk Harbi, Avrupa Cepheleri, Romanya Cephesi, vol. VII, B.2 (Ankara: Genelkurmay Bas¸kanlıg˘ı);
F. Karlıdag˘ & K. Cig˘er (1964) Birinci Du¨nya Harbi’nde Tu¨rk Harbi, Avrupa Cepheleri, Makedonya Cephesi,
vol. VII, B.3 (Ankara: Genelkurmay Bas¸kanlıg˘ı); S. Besbelli (1970) Birinci Du¨nya Harbi’nde Tu¨rk Harbi,
248
O. Turan
World War also are especially important. The first is a three-volume series of biographies
of high-ranking officers of the Turkish military, Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı’na Katılan Alay ve
¨ st Kademedeki Komutanların Biyografileri.36 The other one is about the
Daha U
administration and logistic of the Turkish military during the war, written by a group of
officers and published in the series of Tu¨rk Silahlı Kuvvetleri Tarihi.37
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New Scholarship
Germany and the Ottoman Empire were allies during the war, and the emergence and nature
of their relationship have received considerable attention in the First World War literature.
For example, Mustafa Aksakal, who has researched both Ottoman and German archival
documents, argues that after the Balkan Wars no country, other than Germany, wanted to
become an ally of the Ottoman Empire, and for that reason CUP leaders had no other choice
than to cast their lot with Berlin for they were not daydreamers but rational politicians.38
Furthermore, it was obvious that this alliance was not one between two equal powers:
Germany was the powerful state that directed and supported the Ottoman Empire with
money, weapons, and even military officers. Veli Yılmaz examines the German-Ottoman
alliance and German military support in his 1993 book.39 Several German generals held
influential positions at the Ottoman Army Headquarters and on the war fronts. Gen. Liman
von Sanders, for instance, was the commander of Ottoman forces on the Dardanelles Front.
His previously mentioned memoir and those of other German commanders contain their
observations of the Ottoman administration, army and society. Akdes Nimet Kurat
collected the reports of the German generals who were in Turkey for his useful book on
their role during the First World War.40 Disagreements and competition among German
and Ottoman officers often are revealed in their memoirs, reflecting the different interests
and positions of the German and Ottoman governments. The Caucasus front was one of the
areas where German and Ottoman positions diverged, as the Germans favored cooperating
with the Georgians, nominally subjects of the Russian Empire, and they did not want
Ottoman intervention in this region. Both Fuat Yıldırım and Mustafa C
¸ olak deal with the
Turkish-German disagreements and competition in the Caucasus in their books.41
Footnote 35 continued
36
37
38
39
40
41
Tu¨rk Deniz Harekatı, vol. VIII (Ankara: Genelkurmay Bas¸kanlıg˘ı); I˙. Go¨ymen (1969) Birinci Du¨nya
Harbi’nde Tu¨rk Harbi, Tu¨rk Hava Harekatı, vol. IX (Ankara: Genelkurmay Bas¸kanlıg˘ı).
¨ st Kademedeki Komutanların Biyografileri, vol. I –V (2009)
Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı’na Katılan Alay ve Daha U
(Ankara: ATEM Bas¸kanlıg˘ı).
¨ nal, N. Baycan, S. Kızılırmak & R. Atakan (1985) Tu¨rk Silahlı Kuvvetleri Tarihi, Birinci
Koral, Necmi, R. O
Du¨nya Harbi, I˙dari Faaliyetler ve Lojistik, vol. X (Ankara: ATASE Yayınları).
M. Aksakal (2010) Harb-i Umumi Es¸ig˘inde: Osmanlı Devleti Son Savas¸ına Nasıl Girdi (I˙stanbul: I˙stanbul
¨ niversitesi Yayınları).
Bilgi U
V. Yılmaz (1993) 1nci Du¨nya Harbi’nde Tu¨rk-Alman I˙ttifakı ve Askeri Yardımlar (I˙stanbul, 1993); see also
M. Gencer (2003) Jo¨ntu¨rk Modernizmi ve ‘Alman Ruhu’: 1908–1918 Do¨nemi Tu¨rk-Alman I˙lis¸kileri ve Eg˘itim
(I˙stanbul: I˙letis¸im Yayınları).
A. N. Kurat (1966) Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı’nda Tu¨rkiye’de Bulunan Alman Generallerinin Raporları (Ankara:
Tu¨rk Ku¨ltu¨ru¨nu¨ Aras¸tırma Enstitu¨su¨).
F. Yıldırım (2001) Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı’nda Kafkasya’da Tu¨rk-Alman Rekabeti (I˙stanbul: I˙stanbul
¨ niversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitu¨su¨, Tarih Bilimi Yayınlanmamıs¸ Yu¨ksel Lisans Tezi); and M. C¸olak
U
(2006) Alman I˙mparatorlug˘u’nun Dog˘u Siyaseti C
¸ erc evesinde Kafkasya Politikası (1914–1918) (Ankara:
Tu¨rk Tarih Kurumu).
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Turkish Historiography of the First World War
249
Intelligence and propaganda were two essential dimensions of the First World War.
Previously, information about the Turkish Secret Service, or Tes¸kilat-ı Mahsusa, was
based on the memoirs of Es¸ref Kus¸c ubas¸ı and Hu¨samettin Ertu¨rk, directors of this Ottoman
covert intelligence organization.42 In recent years new works have been published on its
diverse aspects. For example, Vahdet Keles¸yılmaz studied the Turkish Secret Service’s
activities in India, which was under the rule of the British Empire during the war, and its
contribution to the Indian independence movement.43 Safi Polat’s Master’s thesis and PhD
dissertation both are on this special organization and reveal its operations against Britishoccupied Egypt during the war, as well as its nature, administrative features and
activities.44
Other books examine domestic intelligence and propaganda activities during the war.
The notion of the empire being engaged in a jihad against its—and Islam’s—enemies was
utilized to recruit a volunteer battalion of Mevlevis, the best-known and most respected
Sufi order. According to Nuri Ko¨stu¨klu¨, who used original sources for his study of the
Mevlevis, they went to battle in their traditional costumes and with their musical
instruments, and their pictures were published in a military journal.45 The Ottomans were
not unique in trying to use propaganda to mobilize support and to discredit foes. As Salahi
Ramadan Sonyel demonstrates in his book, the British government used the deportation of
Armenians to get support for their anti-Ottoman policies.46 Servet Avs¸ar also studied
British propaganda activities,47 and Sadık Sarısaman published a book that deals with the
psychological war on the Turkish fronts.48
Scholars also are beginning to study social life, healthcare services and diseases in
Anatolia during the First World War. Previously, Tevfik Sag˘lam’s 1941 book had been the
main source on these topics,49 although the aforementioned book by Fevzi C
¸ akmak did
note that the Ottoman health organization was insufficient to deal with diseases during the
war and that on the Eastern Front in March 1915, 45.5 percent of the soldiers were sick,
while 24 percent of them died of disease. However, the 2010 edited volume, Sag˘lık
¨ zc elik that
Ordusu, has chapters by Mehmet Ali Beyhan, Ahmet Eryu¨ksel and Necmettin O
present new and useful information, documents and pictures about the services of the
Ottoman Health Organization during the First World War.50 The book by Sec il Karal
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
Es¸ref Kus¸c ubas¸ı’nın Hayber’de Tu¨rk Cengi – Tes¸kilat-ı Mahsusa Arabistan, Sina ve Kuzey Afrika Mu¨du¨ru¨
Es¸ref Bey’in Hayber Anıları (I˙stanbul: Arba Yayınları, 1997); S. N. Tansu (1964) I˙ki Devrin Perde Arkası
(I˙stanbul: Pınar Yayınevi).
V. Keles¸yılmaz (1999) Tes¸kilat-ı Mahsusa’nın Hindistan Misyonu (1914–1918) (Ankara: Atatu¨rk Aras¸tırma
Merkezi).
S. Polat (2006) The Ottoman Special Organization – Tes¸kilat-ı Mahsusa: A Historical Assessment with
Particular Reference to its Operations Against British Occupied Egypt (1914–1916) (Bilkent University,
Unpublished Master’s Thesis); idem (2012) ‘The Ottoman Special Organization – Tes¸kilat-ı Mahsusa: An
Inquiry into its Operational Characteristics (Bilkent University, Unpublished PhD Thesis).
N. Ko¨stu¨klu¨ (2010) Vatan Savunmasında Mevlevihaneler (Ankara: Atatu¨rk Ku¨ltu¨r Merkezi).
S. R. Sonyel (1994) Turco-Armenian Relations and British Propaganda during the First World War (Ankara:
Tu¨rk Tarih Kurumu).
S. Avs¸ar (2004) Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı’nda I˙ngiliz Propagandası (Ankara: Kim).
S. Sarısaman (1999) Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı’nda Tu¨rk Cephelerinde Beyannamelerle Psikolojik Harp (Ankara:
Genelkurmay Askeri Tarih ve Stratejik Etu¨d Bas¸kanlıg˘ı).
T. Sag˘lam (1941) Bu¨yu¨k Harpte 3. Ordu’da Sıhhi Hizmet (I˙stanbul: Askeri Matbaa).
F. Akben (ed.) (2010) Sag˘lık Ordusu (I˙stanbul: T.C. Sag˘lık Bakanlıg˘ı, second print).
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250
O. Turan
Akgu¨n and Murat Ulug˘tekin about the First World War activities of the Turkish Red
Crescent, based on documents from its own archive, is valuable.51 Three different scholars
have published articles on the First World War-era diseases and the preventive measures
taken against them: Mehmet Temel,52 Zafer Koylu, and Nihal Dog˘an.53 An article by
Ramazan C
¸ alık and Muzaffer Tepekaya, based on German and Ottoman sources, also
provides useful information about diseases and deaths during the First World War and
suggests that disease-related deaths may explain some of the high loss of life among the
Armenians who were deported from eastern Anatolia in 1915,54 a theme that is also found
¨ zlem Demireg˘en, Alev Keskin and
¨ zdemir.55 The 2011 book by O
in the book by Hikmet O
Fatma I˙lhan, Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı’nda Dog˘u Cephesi’nde Sag˘lık Hizmetleri,56 is based on
ATASE documents and provides valuable information about the health situation on the
Eastern front, diseases in the territory, and the preventative measures taken. Similarly,
¨ g˘u¨n describes the economic, political, and social circumstances on
the book by Tuncay O
the Caucasus front during the First World War.57
The situation of the non-Muslim citizens of the Ottoman Empire during the First World
War was critical not only politically but also militarily and socially. Some of them took
advantage of the war and revolted against Ottoman rule. Their aim was to gain their
independence with the help of the Allied Powers who were fighting against the Ottoman
State. As a military and political necessity during the war, most of the Armenians of eastern
Anatolia were deported to Syria and northern Iraq, both of which were Ottoman provinces
prior to 1919. Some Armenians also followed the retreating Russian army, resulting in them
collaborating with the enemy during the occupation of Anatolia. Turkish-Armenian
relations during the war, the revolts, the fighting, the 1915 decision to deport Armenians,
and the conduct of the deportation are still debated.58 Apart from the Armenians, the
situation of Assyrian Christian minority during the First World War has been studied by
¨ zdemir.59 Although there was a virtual civil war and lack of
Salahi Sonyel and Bu¨lent O
minority confidence in the government during the First World War, non-Muslim adult male
citizens were drafted as soldiers for the Ottoman army, although they were organized into
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
S. K. Akgu¨n & M. Ulug˘tekin (2000) Hilal-i Ahmer’den Kızılay’a (Ankara: Kızılay).
T. Mehmet (1998) Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı ve Muharebe Yıllarında Tu¨rkiye’deki Bulas¸ıcı ve Zu¨hrevi
¨ nlemler, C
Hastalıklara Kars¸ı Alınan O
¸ ag˘das¸ Tu¨rkiye Tarihi Aras¸tırma Dergisi, 8, pp. 338–339.
Z. Koylu & N. Dog˘an (2010) Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı Sırasında Osmanlı Devleti’nde Sıtma Mu¨cadelesi ve Bu
Amac la Yapılan Yeni Du¨zenlemeler, Tu¨rkiye Parazitoloji Dergisi, 3, pp. 209–215.
R. C
¸ alık & M. Tepekaya (2006) Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı Esnasında Anadolu’da Salgın Hastalıklar ve Ermeniler,
¨ niversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitu¨su¨ Dergisi, 16, pp. 205 –228.
Selc uk U
¨ lu¨mler, 1914–1918 (Ankara; Tu¨rk Tarih Kurumu).
¨ zdemir (2005) Salgın Hastalıklardan O
H. O
Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı’nda Dog˘u Cephesinde Sag˘lık Hizmetleri (Ankara: ATEM Bas¸kanlıg˘ı, 2011).
¨ g˘u¨n (1999) Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı’nda Kafkas Cephesinin I˙as¸esi (Ankara: Atatu¨rk Aras¸tırma Merkezi).
T. O
On the Armenian deportation, see Y. Halac og˘lu (2001) Ermeni Tehciri ve Gerc ekler (1914–1918) (Ankara:
¨ zdemir, K. C
¨ . Turan, R. C¸alık & Y. Halac og˘lu (2004) Ermeniler, Su¨rgu¨n ve
Tu¨rk Tarih Kurumu); H. O
¸ ic ek, O
Go¨c (Ankara: Tu¨rk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara); K. C
¸ ic ek (2005) Ermenilerin Zorunlu Go¨c u¨ (Ankara: Tu¨rk Tarih
Kurumu); Y. Sarınay (2012) 24 Nisan 1915’te Ne Oldu? Ermeni Sevk ve I˙skanının Perde Arkası (I˙stanbul:
I˙deal Ku¨ltu¨r Yayıncılık). For a bibliography about Turkish-Armenian relations and Armenian exile during the
¨ niversitesi
First World War, see E. I˙lter (1997) Tu¨rk-Ermeni I˙lis¸kileri Bibliyografyası (Ankara: Ankara U
Osmanlı Tarihi Aras¸tırma ve Uygulama Merkezi).
S. R. Sonyel (2001) The Assyrians of Turkey, Victims of Major Power Policy (Ankara: Tu¨rk Tarih Kurumu);
¨ zdemir (2008) Su¨ryanilerin Du¨nu¨ Bugu¨nu¨, Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı’nda Su¨ryaniler (Ankara: Tu¨rk Tarih
B. O
Kurumu).
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Turkish Historiography of the First World War
251
unarmed labor battalions. Although a limited numbers of Muslim soldiers were also
assigned to these battalions, the majority of them were comprised of non-Muslims. They
worked at building roads, construction, and in agriculture. Cengiz Mutlu’s Amele Taburları
is a useful work on this subject despite some weaknesses.60 The Turkish Historical Society
opened some special panels for the First World War in its Fifteenth Turkish Historical
Conference organized in 2006. The sixth volume of the proceedings of the conference
contains the papers presented in these sessions, and almost all the papers are about the
ethno-political aspects of the First World War.61
In recent years, books have been published on war prisoners, refugees, and literature
related to the First World War. Cemalettin Tas¸kıran’s book about Turkish prisoners-ofwar, based on archive documents and letters, is the first in its field.62 After Russia
withdrew from the First World War in 1917, a committee was sent there to observe the
situation of the Turkish prisoners. Yusuf Akc ura, one of the committee members, wrote a
report about their mission and observations, and this report has been republished in as an
edited volume.63 There are also two books written on foreign war prisoners,64 while Erol
Kaya’s book about Turkish refugees is interesting.65 Erol Ko¨rog˘lu has addressed the
previously neglected topic of Turkish literature during the First World War by analyzing
Turkish literature related to the war from the perspective of establishing a new national
identity.66 Nesime Ceylan also introduces and evaluates the stories of the First World War
participants.67
There are two important books written on the First World War’s socio-economic and
socio-political aspects. Zafer Toprak argues that the CUP’s statist polices led to serious
economic problems, which were the primary cause, not the actual war, for the collapse
of the Ottoman Empire.68 Mehmet Bes¸ikc i also studied the Ottoman Empire’s effort to
cope with the difficulties of permanent mobilization under total war conditions, and he
argues that the combined problems of conscription, volunteerism, paramilitary youth
organizations, desertion, and attempts to remobilize, all reshaped state-society
relations.69 However, the social and economic aspects of the First World War in the
Ottoman Empire have not been written about independently. Some social issues were
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
C. Mutlu (2007) Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı’nda Amele Taburları: 1914–1918 (I˙stanbul: IQ Yayıncılık).
XV. Tu¨rk Tarih Kongresi, Kongreye Sunulan Bildiriler, vol. VI (Ankara: Tu¨rk Tarih Kurumu, 2010).
¨ lmedim, Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı’nda Tu¨rk Esirleri (I˙stanbul: Tu¨rkiye I˙s¸ Bankası
C. Tas¸kıran (2001) Ana Ben O
Ku¨ltu¨r Yayınları).
Y. Akc uraog˘lu (2009) Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı Sonunda I˙skandinavya’dan Sibirya’ya Hilal-i Ahmer Hizmetinde,
S. K. Akgu¨n & M. Ulug˘tekin (eds) (Ankara: Tu¨rkiye Kızılay Derneg˘i); Y. Akc ura (2012) Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı
Sonrası Rusya’da Esaret Yılları, M. Karatas¸ (ed.) (Balıkesir: Altın Post Yayıncılık); and on the Turkish
prisoners-of-war who were imprisoned on Nargis Island in the Caspian Sea, see A. As¸ırlı (2013) Nargin,
Sarıkamıs¸-Kafkas Cephesi Esirlerinin Dramı, B. So¨nmez (ed.), A. Avs¸ar (trans) (I˙stanbul: Babıali Ku¨ltu¨r
Yayıncılıg˘ı).
A. Tetik, S. Demirtas¸ & S. Demirtas¸ (2009) C¸anakkale Muharebeleri’nin Esirleri – I˙fadeler ve Mektuplar –
¨ zc elik (2013) Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı’nda Tu¨rkiye’deki
vols. I, II (Ankara: Genelkurmay Bas¸kanlıg˘ı); M. O
Esirler (Ankara: Tu¨rk Tarih Kurumu).
E. Kaya (2007) Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı ve Milli Mu¨cadele’de Tu¨rk Mu¨ltecileri (Ankara: Ebabil).
E. Ko¨rog˘lu (2004) Tu¨rk Edebiyatı ve Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı (I˙stanbul: I˙letis¸im Yayınları).
N. Ceyhan (2007) Osmanlı Dag˘ılırken Ag˘layan Hikayeler 3, Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı Hikayeleri (I˙stanbul: Selis
Yayınları).
Z. Toprak (2003) I˙ttihad – Terakki ve Cihan Harbi, Savas¸ Ekonomisi ve Tu¨rkiye’de Devletc ilik 1914–1918
(I˙stanbul: Homer Kitabevi).
252
O. Turan
¨ zdemir’s book on
studied due to their political and military importance. I˙slam O
Tekirdag˘ is a good example of this tendency. During the Dardanelles campaigns,
Tekirdag˘ city, with its military barracks, hospitals, mills, port, and railway station, was
an important logistics center on the European coast.70 For this reason, Osman Ko¨se’s
article about conditions in Canik province, deserves special attention as the first work
dealing with the circumstances behind the fronts.71 Dils¸en Erdog˘an I˙nce’s article about
brigands in Aydın province during the same period is the first work in this respective
field.72
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Conclusion
The First World War, as a subject of history, has remained under-researched in
comparison with that of the Turkish War of Independence. The historians of the
Turkish Republic preferred to study the Turkish War of Independence and write the
stories of its heroes. It also can be stated that until recent years, the literature produced
about the First World War was affected by the debates over the role of the CUP:
pro-CUP historians defended whatever happened during the war, while anti-CUP
historians criticized everything the CUP government did. Memoirs long remained the
major source of information about the war, even though the motivation for writing
memoirs is not to document objective truth. Furthermore, a great percentage of
Turkish literature on the First World War is about its military aspects, written by
officers and produced by the Turkish General Staff. These memoirs, conference texts
and books naturally carry the characteristics and deficiencies of this type of literature.
The research books based on the documents in the ATASE archives are simply
descriptive narrative accounts. The most studied aspect of the war is the fighting on
the Dardanelles front.73 The Dardanelles is important not only because the defeat of
the British and French forces there was a major Ottoman victory, but also because of
the role in the fighting of Mustafa Kemal Atatu¨rk, who would later become the leader
of the Turkish War of Independence and founder of the Turkish Republic. During the
past two decades, however, the number of Turkish books related to the First World
War has been growing. Most of them are not bound to the debate about the role of the
CUP. Furthermore, these recent texts are examining not only political and military
aspects of the war but also its demographic, social and economic aspects. However,
there still is not an analytic, concise Turkish work on the military, political and social
aspects of the First World War, and this lack obliges publication companies to
translate the works of foreign authors.
Footnote 69 continued
69
70
71
72
73
M. Bes¸ikci (2012) The Ottoman Mobilization of Manpower in the First World War: Between Voluntarism and
Resistance (Leiden: Brill).
¨ zdemir (2012) C
I˙. O
¸ anakkale Muharebelerinde Tekirdag˘, Cephe Gerisinde Bir S¸ehirde Yas¸ananlar (I˙stanbul:
Akıl Fikir Yayınları).
O. Ko¨se (1999) Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı Yıllarında Canik’in I˙as¸e Durumu (1914– 1918), Belleten, 238,
pp. 775 –812.
¨ niversitesi
D. I˙. Erdog˘an (2012) Birinci Du¨nya Savas¸ı Yıllarında Aydın Vilayeti’nde Es¸kiyalık Olayları, Fırat U
Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, 1, pp. 246–256.
¨ . Keskin & C. S. So¨nmez (2010) C¸anakkale Savas¸ları Bibliyografyası (Ankara: Atatu¨rk
A. Koyuncu, O
Aras¸tırma Merkezi).
Turkish Historiography of the First World War
253
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References
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