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C H A P T E R V Peace Feelers and the Problem of the Straits, 1914-17 E VER SINCE the Anglo-French bombardment of the Dardanelles forts on November 3, 19x4 Turks and Ger­ mans alike had been working feverishly to reorganize and strengthen the defenses on both sides of the Straits. By the end of the year Wangenheim advised Berlin that it was "less likely than three months ago" that the Dardanelles could be forced by an Allied naval attack.1 Nevertheless apprehension as to what would happen in the event of a sustained Allied effort lingered on in Constantinople, if only because of the lim­ ited supply of artillery ammunition available to the defenders. As Adm. Souchon confided to Ernst Jackh during the latter's visit to Constantinople, the ammunition stock at the Dar­ danelles was sufficient for hardly more than "one engagement"; in fact, some of the Ottoman gunboats had only enough shells to fire for one minute.2 Adm. von Usedom, since September 1914 officially in chargeof all Ottoman coastal defenses, painted a similarly gloomy picture in a report to the OHL of early Jan­ uary 1915, pointing out that he could give no guarantee for the security of the Dardanelles beyond the first day of battle. Gen.Liman, on theother hand, seems to have been much more optimistic about the situation at the Straits, especially since he was convinced that a naval breakthrough to the Sea of Mar­ mara and to Constantinople itself would be of limited value to 1FO, Tiir\ei 150, Bd. 9, Wangenheim to FO, 24 Dec 1914, No. 1,715. On the military preparations at the Dardanelles after November 3, see especially Lorey, 11, 25-31. Cf. Aspinall-Oglander, 1, 34-35; Pomiankowski , pp. 109-15. 2 FO, Dt 128 Nr. 5 seer., Bd. 5, Jackh to Zimmermann, 2 Jan 1915. Cf. Tiir\ei 142, Bd. 42, Wangenheim to FO, 10 Dec 1914, No. 1,574. I40 The tProblem of the Straits, 1914-1J the Allies unless and until they could occupy and control the shorelines as well.3 During the first six weeks of 1915 the Ottoman High Com­ mand received a number of intelligence reports about the prob­ ability of an Allied naval attack, but it was apparently only on February 15 that detailed information on the concentration of Anglo-French naval forces in the eastern Mediterranean reached Constantinople.4 Four days later the expected Allied bombardment of the Dardanelles forts began, opening the first phase of the great battle at the Straits which was to drag on until the beginningof the next year. Although the Russian High Command (Stavfyi) had re­ quested Western military assistance against the Turks on sev­ eral occasions (notably at the height of Enver's ill-fated Transcaucasian campaign), Britain's decision to launch an at­ tack at the Dardanelles caused considerable misgivings at the Russian foreign office. Since the establishment of Russian con­ trol over theStraits constituted the most important Russian war aim, Sazonov in particular "intensely disliked the thought that the Straits and Constantinople might be taken by our Allies and not by the Russian forces."5 With no Russian troops avail­ able to anticipate the British in their prospective drive to Con­ stantinople Sazonov was forced to rely on purely diplomatic means to secure British and French recognition of Russia's postwar claims at the Straits. In March he obtained the neces­ sary commitment from London, and in April, after consid3 Miihlmann, deutsch-tiir\ische Waffenbiindnis, p. 43; Liman, pp. 47-48. 4Pomiankowski, p. 114; Lorey, 11, 46. For an intelligence report from Gibraltar see, for example, FO, Dt 128 Nr. 1 seer., Bd. 43, Admiralstab Berlin to FO, 20 Feb 1915. 5 See Serge Sazonov, Fateful Years (New York, 1928), p. 255; Robert J. Kerner, "Russia, the Straits and Constantinople, 1914-15," Journal of Modern History, 1 (1929), 400-15; Gottlieb, pp. 63-90; Smith, pp. 185207 ; Higgins, pp. 87-141. • I 4 I * The Troblem of the Straits, 1914-1 j erable wrangling, the French government agreed as well to Russia's acquisition of Constantinople and the Straits region after their common victory, though the consent of both West­ ern governments was accompanied by several qualifying statements.6 It appears that the British and French decision to accommo­ date Russia in the Straits question was partly influenced by fear that the Central Powers might otherwise try to lure Russia out of the war through an attractive Straits...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400877591
Related ISBN
9780691051239
MARC Record
OCLC
966854685
Pages
450
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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