Victory at Gallipoli 1915, by Klaus Wolf, translated by Thomas P. Iredale, Pen & Sword Military, Barnsley, U.K., and Havertown, Pa., 2020, $52.95
Author Klaus Wolf’s military career in the Bundeswehr took him to Turkey on three NATO assignments, during which he researched the military cooperation between Turkey and Germany both before and during World War I. First published in 2008 and translated into English by the Gallipoli Association, this volume is lavishly illustrated with maps and photographs.
German involvement in the Ottoman empire dates from the mid–18th century, though its presence in the early 20th century proved key. Wolf profiles several pivotal figures from the period. Among the more complex was Field Marshal Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz, who reached Constantinople in 1909 and whom Wolf describes as “half scholar, half military, half German, half Turk, half aristocrat, half democrat, half general, half boy scout.” Arriving in May 1913 was Lt. Gen. Otto Liman von Sanders, “adroit and versatile in the art of war,” his task to reorganize the Turkish army. While more recent Turkish sources have downplayed the role the German military played in Gallipoli, their involvement was undeniably significant, from tactics to training, leadership and munitions.
The German ambassador to Constantinople, Hans von Wangenheim, according to his American counterpart Ambassador Henry Morgenthau Sr., “linked the combination of a college student’s jovial enthusiasm with the diligence of a Prussian official.” Wangenheim’s intrigues and plotting succeeded once the German warships Goeben and Breslau passed through the Dardanelles in August 1914, prompting Turkey to ally with Germany. Ottoman forces were soon fighting a million Allied troops on several fronts, troops that may have made all the difference on the Western Front—a subject of endless debate.
From April 1915 to January 1916 on the Gallipoli Peninsula upward of 2,500 Germans were directly or indirectly engaged in the fighting, of whom 530 were killed or died of wounds or sickness, while another 1,000 fell sick or were wounded. Always mindful the Allies might make another attack, the Germans maintained a significant presence in the Dardanelles through war’s end. In October 1917 Kaiser Wilhelm II personally inspected the fortifications and his troops.
A particularly impressive addition to the book is an alphabetized list of German officers who served with Ottoman forces between 1914 and ’16, among them future Third Reich naval commander Karl Dönitz and Joachim von Ribbentrop, Adolf Hitler’s future foreign minister.
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