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German Soldiers in the Ottoman Empire

by Oliver Stein

The objects in the following section of the exhibition will illustrate the presence of German soldiers in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. Nevertheless, the Prussian-Ottoman military relations reach back into the 18th century. As requested by the Ottoman sultans, multiple Prussian military missions were deployed to the Ottoman Empire on the eve of the First World War with the goal to modernize the Ottoman army. Out of the presence of the military instructors during this time emerged diverse points of cultural contact that extended far beyond...

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Oliver Stein

Prussian-German Officers Traveling in the Middle East, 1835-1914

One of the most significant Prussian-German military missions in the Ottoman Empire began as a private journey. In 1835 Captain Helmuth von Moltke asks his superiors to authorize a six-month vacation so that he can visit Greece, Constantinople and Italy. Such trips to the sites of antiquity are not rare among officers. As long as they can promise to do something useful for official purposes, they can even keep earning their salary. Accompanied by a Lieutenant, Moltke crosses through the Balkans. At the end ...

Samuel Krug

Germany & Jihad

In the first week of November 1914, the Triple Entente declared war on the Ottoman Empire. A few days later, on November 14, Turkish religious authorities presented five short fatwas (legal opinions) during a public ceremony in Istanbul. The event came to be known as the Ottoman jihad proclamation against Russia, France and the United Kingdom. The call to arms addressed the followers of Islam worldwide with two simple messages: fighting the enemies of the Ottoman Empire is a religious duty for all Muslims and harming allied forces is a great

Oliver Stein

German women in the Ottoman Empire, 1914-1918

Even in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Orient was not just a favorite destination for male travelers, but also an alluring land for women. Among them were colorful personalities on the search for adventure and freedom. This brought general renown to some, among them Lady Montagu, Ida Pfeiffer and Isabelle Eberhardt, whose publications still enjoy great popularity today. In the First World War, as thousands of German soldiers headed off to the Ottoman Empire and as many British were underway to Egypt, many women used this opportunity to ...

Samuel Krug

'Nachrichtenstelle für den Orient'

Shortly after World War One broke out, the German Foreign Office founded the propaganda organization “Nachrichtenstelle für den Orient” (NfO). The first director of the NfO was the German diplomat Max von Oppenheim (1860-1946), who wrote a memorandum in the fall of 1914. He brought forward a detailed plan for the insurrection of the Middle East and North Africa. The role of this memorandum and von Oppenheim himself is highly debated: while some regard him as the most influential actor in the German policy towards the Middle East, with close contact to Wilhelm II, others question this view and emphasize von Oppenheim’s ...

Oliver Stein

German Soldiers and the Scientific Investigation of the Ottoman Empire, 1914-1918

Long before the First World War, the landscape of the Ottoman Empire had been a point of interest for many different disciplines of Western research. While the outbreak of war interrupted the majority of civil research, diverse German military-initiated projects replaced this research during the war.

Before the First World War, German officers active as geographers and cartographers had already been working in addition ...