tv Ottoman Empire After World War I CSPAN November 30, 2019 7:04pm-8:01pm EST
andl america," saturday sunday here on american history tv. the author of "when the war discusses hist book, which looks at the impact of world war i on order mary ottomans -- ordinary ottomans. the national world war i museum and memorial in kansas city, missouri host of the talk as part of their annual symposium. ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the national world war i museum and memorial in kansas city, missouri. were so pleased you're joining pefor our symposium, "1919
ace?" that should have sounded there is a question mark at the end of it in case it didn't. we are thrilled to have you here on site and thrilled to have you all join us either online or via tv, because we know that these conversations are essential to not only understanding history but understanding our present. which this speaker absolutely is going to be addressing all of those things. dr. akin is an associate professor at tulane university, where he specializes in the late ottoman empire and republican of turkey. his book, "when the war came home" examines the ottoman empire's catastrophic experience of the first world war and analyzes the impact of the war on the civilian population and was named the 2018 choice award for outstanding academic title. thes the co-editor of ottoman empire middle east
-19 18 onlinee 1914 international encyclopedia of the first world war. a you have not use that as resource yet, you really need to take a look at it. encyclopedia is spectacular with global contributors, many of whom you have seen on the stage today, and on the stage if you have been here before. do check that out. thank you for the work you have put into that. he is currently working on a monograph about the ottoman empire's first -- postwar years. if you prefer to take your knowledge and set of in book form but via a good bit of your listening, you should also check out some podcasts he has on ottoman history. you can put his name into any of your favorite places to get your podcast, and listen to some great conversations.
i highly suggest that as well. you'll find out how great he is to listen to in just about 10 seconds. this afternoon, he will speak to this ongoing research and explore the ottoman moment and its dramatic impact on the at the asian -- ethnization of ottoman empire. please put your hands together. [applause] >> good afternoon. thank you for this great introduction and thank you camille for the work you put into this and my thanks in the av booth. everyone for this great museum.
it is great maybe for the exception of the chilly weather, but i am from new orleans. i want to talk about is the ottoman empire and the aftermath of the great war. understand this crucial moment in the ottoman empire and to understand middle eastern history better and get a better grasp of it, we first turn our attention to the ottoman great war experience. here we go. it's not easy to be the first speaker after the lunch break but i'll try to make it interesting. for the ottoman people, the 10 1922years between 1912 and , it was a period of crisis which was in conflict. of 1912 and 1913, the
first world war from 1914 through 1918, and then the turkish war of independence in 1919 and 1922, and exhausted the empire's capital, leaving millions of people dead, wounded and captive. widowed,of other were orphaned and grieved. it was a much larger scale than the conflict that preceded and followed it. it's four years from october 1914 to october 1918. the hope of regaining the territories lost in the previous valuable,s the most lastlso the empire's promise in africa, to the cold war against italy in 1911, 1912. importantly, achieved full
economic independence brought the ottomans into the war. the utilization by the government that the war would spread to ottoman territories and that the empire cannot survive such a massive conflict on its own. it drove them into a search for an alliance in europe. to their credit, they did everything in their power and capacity to approach great britain, france, and even russia, their archenemy, and propose them to accept the ottomans into their alliance. germans told it the other way around. the ottomans signed the treaty of alliance with germany a 1914. that same day they declare
mobilization in ottoman turkish. after three months of neutrality, the ottoman empire finally entered the war on october 29, 1914 on the side of the great powers. is a fact you are familiar with. slightly misleading. because bulgaria by that point in 1914 was not part of the alliance. i am learning -- ok. this was an alliance of three in the beginning, germany, austria, hungary, and the ottoman empire. after the bulgarians joined the , they became an alliance.
[laughter] dr. akin: over the next four years, the ottomans would find the world war. confronted the russians. they fought against the british imperial and french forces. again inht the british and the swiss canal zones and mesopotamia. troops sawtoman combat in european theaters of war to support their wartime allies germany, and austria and hungary. in macedonia and romania.
to the surprise of allies and enemies, the ottoman army prove to be more resilient than expected. although its size and strength diminished throughout the four years of the war as a result of and a high rate of desertions, it maintained the war until the very end and no one expected that. throughout the war, the ottoman was able to tie down --ge enemy contagions contingents. they fought successful battles and scored remarkable victories. such as the defense of the dardanelles, one of the most important turning points in the history of the first world war. but stiller-known
important, a siege in 1916, and surrender of the 13,000 strong british indian division. the largest and most embarrassing for the british until 1942. this was not enough to win the war. number one, it was very heavy on the ottomans in terms of human and material losses. at the beginning of the great war, the ottoman empire was estimated to be 19 to 20 million. out of the 2.9-three mobilized foreign armed forces, empire that did not have evolved
have an, it did not ,fficient transportation system and human resources basically, this is anna norma's feat. mobilizing so many men and keeping them on through long years of war was in a normal sleep difficult business. struggled with that, becausecially ottomans of what i detailed, it was extremely difficult. suffered thelation impacts of the difficulty. of the 2.9 million of soldiers mobilizing into the armed forces, the empire would suffer 770,000 fatalities. as you can see in this chart,
most of them are from epidemics and other diseases. 750,000 are wounded and as you see here, 300,000 were seriously wounded. you don't know anything about these people. in that sense, the research of is aman's great war mystery. how did families survive the war? you don't know. you cannot fight a single sentence in the literature about the ottoman great war, you cannot find anything about them. and four indid up captivity, mostly in russia and egypt, but also in places like india and burma.
many did not return to the ottoman empire. the gigantic loss of human capital had a norma's social -- enormous social consequences for the whole population. the states that were established in the region following the demise of the ottoman empire, this is not the subject of our talk today. i'm not going to talk about socialism in the ottoman empire. but let me give one interesting example that i hope you find interesting. this is a map that shows the ratio of woody hood -- of widowhood according to the 1927 census. even after a full decade, after the war, in the ottoman empire, the number of widows reached
50%. that's an enormously high number . this is despite the fact that -- of the problematic nature of with the young republic not strong enough to take a consensus. still, by enormously high 1927, numbers of widows throughout the empire. .his sort of misleads you the numbers could not be that low. this was an indicator of the weakness inic's taking census in those remote areas of the republic. by the time the guns fell silent
in october of 1918, ottoman society was completely traumatized. the casualties truly devastated , voluntaryructure -- involuntary the placement displacement, ethnic lensing. empire came under comprising today's syria, iraq, palestine, it and came under occupation, mostly by the british. in 1918, the warships crossed the straits which they did not cross during the war. they reached the imperial orital, his temple, constantinople.
the end of the war launched the empire into a painful period of instability and uncertainty. the leaders that had ruled the empire during the war fled the country in a german submarine in 1918. they left behind a largely discredited but still intact organization. the collapse of the wartime machine and the arrival of troops, and more portly, the promise of self-determination energized the empire's minorities as never before. each had aspirations of self-determination. government struggled
to navigate this complicated postwar landscape. they strove to have a defensive strategy to salvage at least the unoccupied parts of the empire. one of the major communities of the empire, the ottoman greeks, and to them self-determination meant mainland greece. you can see the propaganda posters post -- printed in 1920. the left-hand corner. is a famous greek prime minister. conference, there were economic arguments, but most importantly return of
self-determination to make territorial claims on the coastland. the ottoman greeks constitute a sizable minority. , they charm the granting greece areas, including my hometown. not anymore come off course, but until 2004. meanwhile, the armenians aimed to establish a large, independent armenia. at the end of the war, tens of thousands of survivors of the armenian genocide returned to their towns and villages in the ottoman empire to reclaim and reestablish their lives that have been destroyed.
developments are happening at the level of everyday life triggered deep, anxiety among ottoman turks who were the democratic majority. new they could count on very few supporters in paris. in their minds, the war would have lasted much shorter if ottoman had remained neutral. some were very angry, but the peacemakers, more important than that, were furious at the ottomans for wartime treatment of non-muslim minorities,
especially armenians. war, the government was engaged in ambitious engineering projects. able to act freely without foreign interference, they had jurisdiction in law enforcement. they had a monopoly on violence. villagers in world war i -- none of these were as destructive as the policies for the ottoman empire's long-established armenian community. war, thed after the genocide was publicized in western europe and the u.s. war, they after the
were a number of publications that were very popular, and movies as well. iny examples of literature the u.s. and europe. this created a deep and widespread some of the for the armenians. for the peacemakers, the long record of the government, the wartime massacres, demonstrated incapacity turks's to have a multiethnic population. just give it up. but what does that mean? although they sensed the anger and contact direct it toward them, the ottomans still harbored hope that fundamentally reform could have a new informational system based on
that would allow them a dignified place postwar. that the ottoman turks like many , they pinned their hopes of preserving the empire's historic integrity on this plan laid out by president wilson. after all, wilson had promised them such dignity in the draft of his 14 points. for those who are not familiar, the famous 14 points -- maybe not as famous as the other point famous, there was part of the ottoman empire but other nationalities which are not under turkish law should be
part of opportunity and of tom's development. and the dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees. for the ottoman turks, the 12 points indisputably recognized turkish sovereignty. it was seen as wilson's personal commitment to the turkish portions of the empire. yet, there was a problem because it did not define the borders of the turkish portion. it was a very vague statement. and it did not provide criteria to determine that. communities are wide-ranging.
if you go through the archives of great britain and france you'll see even the smallest minorities of the ottoman empire reach out to the peace conference to claim autonomy or assert rights for themselves. all of them, especially the major communities of the empire , engaged in a protracted war of words, deploying principles of self-determination and government against one another. expectedly, the ottoman minorities embrace the second part of the class and the peace conference, -- and use the peace conference to further claims for autonomy and separation from the empire. the ottoman turks on the other hand seized on the first part. in a short span of time, they became very proficient at
between greek and armenian territorial claims. me iss fascinating for that this process was not coordinated by the government or any other central body. for six months between november 2018 in may of 1919, there was a remarkable rising activism. this activism was manifested and the emergence of hundreds of local clubs and civil society organizations. acting outside the control as -- control of the authorities. they embraced self-determination. they collected material, drew up
maps and statistics, and produced historical and economic arguments. this really unprecedented activism failed to commence peacemakers in paris, to the great dismay of the ottoman turks. the conference sections as a result of long this represented a traumatic turning point in the empire, the most important turning point that came after the six months of signing the peace treaty. they decided to partition the empire. and including it's turks
so in all of these and they would later protest of the ottoman church refer to the 12 points over and over again. the harbor mission was sent to anatolia to assert the public opinion about the possible mandate, u.s. mandate found out that all the people ranging from bazra to the turkish tion to the kurds, they were very proficient in speaking hezonian. ring their stop in azaram, they would have these kind of signs.
they had paraded the ottoman public opinion before oppression gave way to disillusionment and hopelessness. dramatically changed circumstances on the ground coupled with the deep anxiety about the empire's eminent disillusion, generated an intense debate over the future of the empire and prompted a range of responses from the ottoman turks. public opinion energized and deeply divided by the question of how to escape from the device in the face of enormous internal and external difficulties. a number of solutions were proposed. one of the most popular ones was
accepting the great power of mandate. t was proposed as a means of this partition. and the numbers were small and especially the influence of people. these were all major journalists, politician, and intellectuals were all mandating for an american mandate. those who advocated of bringing the ottoman empire regarded themselves as a realist. they believed they were a vanquished people and only bicepping a great power and being under the protectional mandate. for me that could have played this perfectly was the united states. in american mandate would not only insure the empire's integrity but also bring
stability as we said this morning, bring stability and progress to this war-torn country. and last but not least frustrate the ottoman minorities claims of autonomy or independence. in contrast, those who favored an american mandate is small but influential group of intellectuals and politicians emerged as ottoman supporters of the british mandate or protection. they denounced it as a fantasy. they asserted that the only great power and a long history of friendship with the ottoman pire in particular could execute this law efficiently. for them, there's only one way power that could play such a role. 'em anyity e recent
had been a brief interview of a long, long relationship. those who had instigated this enmity, the unionist had fall from the power they believed that they would resume the amicable relationship with the empire if the ottomans appealed for support. the majority of the public remained skeptical about the andate solution. although the system would include scrutiny, through the league of nations they dismissed it as being a little more than a colonial rule. as many skeptics still admire, think about that, they still admire the president and the united states as benevolent and disinterested power. rather than abandoning the
sewnian framework, the majority of the ottoman turks and including the leadership of the nation -- nation and its resistance moment in anatolia, this is not happening over night, slowly a resistance movement was happening in anatolia conned to expose this framework. the greek occupation cemented the idea among them that having encouragement would of ring upon the alliance the armenians. they realize the need to go beyond producing this as well done before the greek og passion. they realized this was not enough. so the situation was much more
serious on the ground. they need to come up and be a different solution again being hezonianbe rick of the mission. some of the claims were dismissed of the expression of only a couple of people, only a small majority. the nation of it realized at this moment that they need to show that this is a popular demand. the concept of the government is in this way. they have against -- it is against the armenia claims. it was for the people, they argued. much is the group of intellectuals who were against it. they are all against these. and the fact that he often equated the determination with the concept of the government and popular energy, the emerging moment from the very beginning
from the first days on which presented itself is the personification of the determined self. ou know, in this bane who is actually the south that created the problem. is it the community? ethnicity, the nationality? that is the big problem that puzzled everyone at this time including eastern europeans and many others in this process. hat followed the great fall. they were indifferent. they were not nationalist yet.
in the final months of 1919, at one point they say enough is enough. they have to go back to work. this happened all the way until late early 19. after the peace conference in position of a particularly harsh peace treaty, the treaty of sur. the ottoman in august of 1920, you see how busy this period it is. we're talking about a couple of years spent. during the pening olitics.
the turkish portions that are described are -- was actually ery, very diminished here. the united states in the meantime had withdrawn into this isolationist position. of course, dr. proctor talks about that that it's not really isolation. but you understand what i'm saying here. the nationalist movement gradually changed its rect rick and changed increasing the strong anti-christian overtones.
the nation also pursued a systemic policy of the empire from one another. this policy, of course, ultimately sought to create new realities on the ground. to make it practically impossible for greeks and armenians to create sovereignty anatolia.ny part of the next three years between 1920 and 1922 would be characterized by massacres and force deportations of the ottoman. by the way, it's not specific to the ottoman turks. the turk iraq nation during this period. the greek followed by a significant portion were doing he same thing.
>> so that was the period tween 1980 and 1922 in anatolia was more disastrous than the great war. these dynamics significantly intensified under the conditions of the war between the greek occupation army and the turk iraq nation forces. by 1920, the nation has managed to create this moment in anatolia through skillful diplomacy. and they tried everything, right? now, they don't respond. hey were talking to the bull
these policies at this time significantly contributed to the defeating the enemy. the nation's visit toik against the greek army marked the ficial end of ottoman -- approximately 900,000 ottoman christians and 400,000 greek were in a homeland most of them had never even visited before. despite the devastation, the empire could have survived. and it's a religious co-existence could have been
re-established. it was an interplay between the international climate and local ambitions and governments that irreversibly widened the gap between the model majority and dashed all of these prospects forever. the interplay is within the international local dynamics led to the development of a sense of nation of cautiousness amongst turks, armenians, greeks and others. helping people of different ethnicities establish themselves for the first time as communities and with their own territories, practices, beliefs and aspirations for future. the poisonous climate created by these developments eventually contributed to the collapse of the empire in 1922. left to the widespread persecution of ottoman nonmuslims and ottoman muslims
as well and gave birth to anti-american sentiments that are still dominant in the region today. therefore to be able to better understand what's going on in the middle east today, once again we have to turn our attention to this crucial historic moment in the region. thank you. [applause] >> as you may know, we would love to open up the floor to questions. there are microphones on either side. we would invite you to come down and go ahead and ask away. again, if you are unable to come down to the microphone, you can flag me and i will walk up to you. >> i'm blinded by these lights. >> don't worry. your first question will come
from dr. drew ferguson. >> i'm wondering if you would talk about memory in the army after -- after 1920. how did the soldiers think about their -- how did the turkish soldiers think about their comrades who had been from these other ethnic groups that were on the other side of the nation-building process? was there a -- was there -- was there a conflict with how they memorialized? what did they do with the fact that some of these had served in the ottoman army? >> i have a simple question for you. we don't know. we don't know. we don't know why especially at the level of ordinary sole yers. population ttoman are from the turks. according to the same census in
1927, the level of literacy among the ottoman turks was 13%. this was higher as you can expect in major population centers but lower along the country side, much, much lower around this area. most of these soldiers, three million soldiers were a peasant force. they did not leave a good documents to us. we don't know how an ordinary soldier felt, for example or an armenian or a greek for example. and the second problem that this is problematic is that all of these memories, there was no, for example, there was no extensive history that was conducted. people that are still live, we don't have that. and probably most importantly that nationalist -- the
nation-building process and the aura it created, the climate that its created absorbed all of these memories into it. hose distinctions may be something they felt good about. and armenian soldiers could say they were as brave as we are. they got lost in the meantime. so individual memories are very ifficult to recover. so i wish i could give you a better answer. >> second question will come from the other side of the room. >> you showed the casualty figures before on screen. i was wondering why -- or why was -- why were the casualties so high? was it the quality of the
troops, the quality of the leadership or did they have a central aim that could unify the soldiery to the war's end? >> i mean, that's a good question. irst of all, infrom structural problems. nfrom structural infrastructural problems. so this map also interestingly shows the area of the empire. the same as anatolia goes all lavant but astern mesoptamia.o modern areas here?ny
here it is. the nearest railroad station was about 800 kilometers away. by infrastructure problems i mean, that you cannot really -- this was a major war zone. tens of thousands of ottoman soldiers fought there. how to bring them there. how to establish a medical service there. this is why in these numbers we see -- we see such a high number of diseases and epidemic. especially in the first half of the war, the ottomans could not .eal with the numbers they came up with more efficient solutions. t such a high number did not exist among them. the other reason is the
extremely difficult climate in eastern anatolia or in the south in mesoptamia. .hese are not these climate in fact, it's not possible to do an extent necessary help and resources to these soldiers. >> but is it also true that in the formment of the war that it was not -- that prisoner weren't taken? the arabians wouldn't treat the turkish prisoners well, nor treat thethe turks to arabians well. give to much credit to that explanation. apparently we see a very high number of prisoners here. in thet important reason
existent literature we don't encounter those kind of complaints or mention of that. i would say the infrastructure problems play a bigger role in that. >> and our next question will come from this side. >> could you speak to what we might call the rise and fall of kurdish stan? >> well, that's an interesting point, of course. [laughter] >> they were living in eastern anatolia. oman areas those with mountain yarle, sore show
political relationships, they ved mostly in tribal territories. for a long time they escaped from military service. they didn't pay taxes because and really if you read the ottoman documents you see a certain documents about the kurds as unruley disobedient people. to olitics, it was directed the armenians. there was a second sight that was less discussed. the unionist engage nled a similar process of engineering towards kurds. maybe two million, maybe less than that, but certainly a high number of turks were escaping in front of -- in 1950, 1960, 1970
in the russian army in eastern anatolia to the rest. unionists took this opportunity, the opportunity of war, took this opportunity and wanted to turn turks into obedient or effective citizens of the ottoman empire. how to do that recent of that from the turks and to separate them from the tribal leaders and to scatter them around the empire. well, some of these attempts were more successful but generally speaking -- this was a hugely ambitious project as you can tell. kurds in the aftermath of the great war like everyone else came up with their own political mbitions of independence or of autonomy within the ottoman empire. but this mostly came from the members of urban
the community. more conservative of the church population remain loyal to the nation -- turkish nation throughout the war of independence. why? because they realize -- very keen and they were right about the international public opinion favored their arch enemy the armenians. so they realize if those -- if those projects armenian independence or autonomy projects very independent that would mean the end of their own existence or make it very difficult for them to live. so this is why they remain very close and they fought side by side in the turkish war of independence, with the turks. it gets the nonmuslim against he occupying army.
this of course, you know, follows by a long history of a series of kurdish revolts who felt betrayed by the young republic. they basically claim that they lped you to establish this young country? if you emphasize your ethnic identity all by a number of turkishness, no, you don't. so a long history of kurdish revolts followed after the great ar, the biggest one in 1925, the british were there. but they were good to destroy those documents. you cannot find anything about that. very little. a silent late 1920, period all the way to the 1980's
when the demands of the turk iraq movement emerged. you know the rest. so that was a basic crash course about the kurdish movement. >> thank you so much. >> all right. >> well, ladies and gentlemen, if you would please join with me doctor. ng the [applause] announcer: you're watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. >> next on lectures and history, johnson county community college professor tai edwards teaches a class about the expansion of the united states during the spanish-american war and the acquisition of hawaii. she examines the goals of the u.s. in gaining new territory and the debate at the time about having an overseas empire.