Why Did The Ottomans Enter The First World War?

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Why Did The Ottomans Enter The First World War?

The Ottoman Empire had been declining since the sixteenth century because of economic, intellectual and technological stagnation. Britain and France as well as The Russian and Habsburg empires, became increasingly involved in Ottoman affairs and in competition for political and economic influence in the Ottoman Empire. The turning point came in the 1880s when Germany appeared on the scene in an attempt to extend her economic, political, and military influence in the Empire. By this time The Ottomans financial situation was desperate because of the West’s economic strangulation and on 28th July 1914 a formal Ottoman alliance proposal was presented to Germany which meant the Ottomans had decided to enter the First World War.  

The prewar relationship between the Ottoman Empire and Germany is something that there is no consensus on. There is a division between those that believe dominance of German influence in Istanbul was the reason the Ottomans entered the war and those that do not.  

However, despite Germany’s strong economic and financial power in the Ottoman empire which was gained by an increase in trade with the empire and in German investments from the 1880s-1914, Germany did not control the Ottoman economy and other European powers were still equally, if not more, involved in the Empire. Thus the reasons why the Ottomans would have freely chosen to enter the war can begin to be examined as it is unlikely that they were forced to enter into an agreement with Germany.

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It has been argued that the Ottomans entered the First World War because they believed an alliance with one of the major powers would end their isolation, which had been highlighted by the Balkan war.  They were willing to accept any alliance rather than continued isolation since they were certain that this would destroy the Ottoman Empire.

The alliance offered a form of protection against their traditional enemy Russia. The Ottomans feared that if Russia won the war it would take Istanbul, but this defensive alliance would mean that Germany would protect Ottoman territory. The Ottoman Minister ...

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