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Chapter 17: The End of 1914 and the beginning of a Crisis
Chapter 17: The End of 1914 and the beginning of a Crisis

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“The Committee of Union and Progress was undergoing several reforms after Huseyin Hilmi Pasha took the reins of the party after the devastating defeat the CUP had been dealt with in the 1912 Ottoman General Elections. The radical Turkish nationalism ideology that much of the CUP had fallen under was stamped out and Huseyin Hilmi Pasha, himself a Muslim Ottoman Greek, who had origins in Thessaly (his ancestors being one of the multiple muslim Greeks who had been forced out of the new Kingdom of Greece in 1827) and he spoke greek fluently as well. Under his leadership, the CUP began to open up to the other minorities as well, and started to incorporate them into the political apparatus of the political party as well. In a move to suppress Turkish nationalism within the party even further, the man changed the nickname of the party from the ‘Young Turks’ to the ‘Young Ottomans’ in honor of the secret society which had brought the ideology of constitutionalism into the Ottoman Empire in 1876. All of these actions led to the partial recovery of the CUP in the 1913 Senatorial Elections, however the Liberal Union continued to hold greater seats in both legislatures of the government.

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Ahmet Riza.

Husyein Hilmi Pasha retired as the leader of the CUP party after the end of the 1913 Senatorial Election, and was instead succeeded by Ahmet Riza, a polymath who had fallen out with the CUP in 1909 over its radical Turkish nationalism. Huseyin Hilmi Pasha and Riza had reconciled with one another, and after his retirement, Riza rose to become the leader of the CUP once again.

Ahmet Riza proved himself to be an exceptional opposition leader, and he found himself in multiple heated debates with Ali Kemal in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate over policy reform and the nation itself and its forward policy. Ali Kemal for all of his brightness and competence, was just not made for debate in the manner that the polymath and competent Ahmet Riza was. Riza continued to win over multiple deputies with his eloquent, charming and charismatic speeches in the halls of the Chamber of Deputies, often challenging the policies of the Grand Vizier head on.

Riza was aiming to invoke the 1908 Constitution’s 9th article which laid out the rules for a new snap election to take place. Ali Kemal’s economic policies had been wildly successful, however the man’s own personal image had been broken by his relative’s scandals in the eyes of the public (a sexual affair with a married woman by his brother), and as such Riza knew that utilizing this opportune moment would allow him to win the elections, should one occur.

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Epicenter of the 1914 Burdur Earthquake.

Riza got his chance. Though not in a manner he had hoped. On the 4th of October, 1914, a 7 rector scale earthquake of IX (violent) intensity struck southwestern Anatolia, centered around Lake Burdur. In and around the area, around 11,000 people’s lives were directly affected by the earthquake whilst ~1000 people died in the earthquake as well. The earthquake also disrupted the railway construction going on in the area, severely pushing back Ottoman economic developmental plans in the region. In Burdur, nearly 100% of the homes were destroyed along with other significant and historical monuments. Killinc was completely diestroyed, and in Keciborlu, a small village centered around a nucleus of ottoman highways, around 85% of its houses collapsed from the earthquake. In the city of Isparta, it’s great mosque was destroyed alongside its nearby homes. Other villages near the epicenter were largely destroyed as well. The earthquake had taken place along the Fethiye-Burdur fault zone, and would become one of the three earthquakes throughout the 20th century to take place in that faultzone.

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Earthquake prone fault-zones in Anatolia.

With multiple areas in southwestern Anatolia coming under heavy subsidence, and massive infrastructural damage continued as an aftermath of the earthquake and its aftershocks, the people turned to the government. Ali Kemal personally led a forward a new stimulus bill aimed at personally involving the government on a one to one basis to relieve the people from the earthquake and rebuild the area. However quite the opposite, Riza proposed a notion of a vote of no confidence against the Ottoman Grand Vizier, citing multiple reasons, including the inability of the Kemal government to effectively respond in time to the earthquake and asked the Chamber of Deputies to confer on this notion. Ali Kemal was blistering mad about the notion, however unfortunately for him, he had made too many enemies to stay at the top anymore. The vote of no confidence against him passed 56% to 44% in the Chamber of Deputies, and Riza, triumphant, cited Article 9 of the Ottoman constitution to call for new snap elections. The government allocated the date of November 12 for the new general elections.” A Political History of Constitutional Ottoman Political History. University of Angora, 2019, 8th Edition.

“Within the Austro-Hungarian General Staff, a change in power was happening. The older Chief of Staff, Blasius von Schemua was relieved of his post after he tendered his resignation, citing health concerns. However this was merely a coverup. The man had made many political enemies within the state of the Habsburg Empire, and many archdukes now moved against his position, making his life dangerous within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

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von Schemua

He was replaced by Viktor Dankl von Krasnik. Krasnik was born in the then Imperial Austrian Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia. His father was a captain in the army from nearby venice. His secondary education took place in Gorizia where his family relocated after his father’s retirement. In 1874 he graduated from the Theresian Military Academy and was assigned to the 3rd Dragoon regiment as a second lieutenant. After the completion of a secondary education in a war school in Vienna, he became a general staff officer in 1880. For the next few decades, he would rise through the officer ranks, becoming the head of the central office of the Austrian general staff in 1899. In 1903 he became a Major General, and was given command of an infantry brigade in Trieste. In 1912, he was promoted to the title of Lieutenant Field Marshal, and received the command of the 14th Corps in Innsbruck. As such, the man was perfectly qualified to hold the title, Chief of General Staff.

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Viktor Dankl von Krasnik.

Von Krasnik soon became involved in upending the one decade old offensive doctrine that former Chief of Staff Conrad Von Hotzendorf and Schemua had made up. Instead, Krasnik decided to opt for a more defensive strategy creating more defensive layouts for the imperial army and increased the regimental columns and their cohesiveness as well, creating a min-reform within the Austro-Hungarian military.” Habsburg Commanders: How Europe Was Shaped, Imperial University of Graz, 1983.

“For the month preceding the new ottoman general snap elections, the contest between the political parties, as usual, was hot and extremely competitive with one another. The Liberal Union was highly affronted and insulted by the motion of no confidence passing the Chamber of Deputies, and fractured with the Armenakan Armenian regionalist and autonomist party, as many members of the party had supported the no confidence vote, which only served to fracture the political governing coalition led by the Liberal Union. Their only remaining ally, the Ottoman Democratic Party led by Ibrahim Temo wasn’t much better either, as while the parties were aligned and allied with one another, the Democratic Party liked to do its own thing politically, whilst being only loosely aligned or relegated with the Liberal Union. It also didn’t help that the ottoman democratic party itself wished to distance themselves from the multiple scandals surrounding Ali Kemal’s relatives, as such leading to a negative relation between the Ottoman Democratic Party and the Liberal Union, though they remained allies.

By contrast, the Committee of Union and Progress, the CUP was experiencing a revival of political thought and growth within the empire, as the level headed faction of Ahmet Riza won out in the end within the political struggles of the party. Riza was well liked by the European portion of the empire, even managing to take away a few constituencies in Albania, which was a solidly pro-Ottoman Democratic Party region. Riza toured the country and empire, giving multiple campaign speeches to the people, and used his vast language skills to aid him. When he spoke in front of the Arab population, he spoke in Arab, when he spoke in front of the Greek population, he spoke in Greek, when he spoke in front of the Turkish population, he spoke in Turkish, and so on and so forth, creating an atmosphere of trust for the new leader of the Young Ottomans. The new and revived CUP ran their platform for the elections based on new politics, promising more educational reform, which had been neglected by the Liberal Union and Ali Kemal, as the stagnating literacy rate showed, and also promised to put more direct interest and investment in the outlying states and provinces, mainly Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Epirus and Macedonia, which didn’t get as much attention as it really should have.

Meanwhile the Socialist Party, led by Huseyin Hilmi also campaigned vigorously, using their stronghold in Trabzon and their governorship within the city of Constantinople to their advantage. The Socialist party managed to win a few constituencies scattered throughout the empire and found their main base of support to be in the urbanized and industrialized cities of the empire, and Huseyin Hilmi managed to win the constituency for his own home leader’s seat in Smyrna, bringing an important electoral constituency under the influence of the Socialist Party.

The results of the 1914 general elections were:-

  • CUP: 26.7%, or 76 seats won
  • Liberal Union: 25% or 72 seats won
  • Ottoman Democratic Party: 18.3% or 52 seats won
  • Ottoman Socialist Party: 15% or 43 seats won
  • Ottoman Social Democratic Party: 6% or 17 seats won
  • Armenakan Party: 4% or 11 seats won
  • Poale Zion: 2% or 5 seats won
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The rest of the seats were scattered across various independents representing mostly rural constituencies, which tended to vote for independents more than the urban areas. The election, like so many within the Ottoman Empire, failed to give any one party a majority in parliament, however Ahmet Riza, having been given mandate by the overall majority of the votes going to his party, formed a minority government, led by his own Committee of Union and Progress Party and surprisingly the Ottoman Socialist Party which agreed to join a minority government coalition with the CUP, on the basis that cabinet positions were equally divided between the two parties.

After the coalition had been declared, Sultan Mehmed V invited Ahmet Riza to form a new government within the Ottoman Empire, and its governmental executive. Ahmet Riza soon made his cabinet. The cabinet of his government was:-

  • Grand Vizier: Ahmet Riza (CUP)
  • Minister of the Interior: Huseyin Hilmi (Socialist Party)
  • Minister of the Navy: Ciballi Mehmed Bey (Independent)
  • Minister of War: Mahmud Shevket Pasha (Independent)
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs: Curuksulu Mahmud Pasha (CUP)
  • Minister of Justice: Refik Nezvat (Socialist Party)
  • Minister of Agriculture: Mehmed Celal Bey (CUP)
  • Minister of Education: Ahmed Sukru Bey (CUP)
  • Minister of Finances, Economics, Industry, and Trade: Avraam Benaroya (Socialist)
  • Minister of Pious Foundations: Avnullah Kazimi (Socialist)
This government, which would lead the Ottoman empire for the next eight years, would ironically earn the name – the wonder cabinet, for this cabinet comprising of the best policy makers and lawmakers of the empire, would truly deliver a masterpiece to the new slowly rejuvenated Ottoman Empire.” A Political History of the Ottoman Empire in the 20th Century. University of Angora, 1999.

“The American Economy had always been a fragile thing. Every decade or so, a bank run and panic would take place. The ending months of 1914 was no different. The Panic of 1914-15 is mostly linked with the Panic of 1907 and the Panic of 1911, however the economic depression had its roots almost a century before the economic depression even began.

In 1836, President Andrew Jackson allowed the charter of the Second Bank of the USA to expire, and the USA was then stuck without a central bank, and the money supply in New York City fluctuated with the country’s annual agricultural and monetary cycle. Each autumn money flowed out of the city as harvests were purchased, and in an effort to attract money, interests rates were raised by money loaners. Foreign investors, mainly from Britain and Germany then sent their money to New York to exploit and take advantage of the higher interest rates, attracted by the new high interest schemes presented by US commercial banks. From January 1906, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a record high of 103 points on the stock market, and the market began a modest correction that would continue throughout the entire year. The April 1906 San Francisco Earthquake which devastated the city, also contributed to the market and monetary instability, prompting even greater flood of money from New York to San Francisco to prompt reconstruction of the destroyed areas of the city. This affected the British economy badly as money invested into British suppliers were diverted to San Francisco so the Bank of England raised its interest rates, partly in response to UK insurance companies paying out so much to US policy holders, and more funds remained in London than what was expected initially. From their peak stock prices in January 1906, stock prices declined by 18% by July, 1906, triggering the panic of 1907.

The Hepburn Act, which gave the Interstate Commerce Commission or the ICC the power to set a maximum railroad rate, became law in July 1906 as well, this depreciated the value of railroad securities which made the market lose 7.7% of its capitalization as well. The economy had turned volatile as a result of the loss of stocks and the Hepburn Act and a number of other shocks hit the system, the stock of the Union Pacific fell by 50 points, and an offering of New York City bonds failed. The Copper market collapsed, and in August 1906, the Standard Oil Company was fined $29 million for antitrust violations, decreasing investor confidence, leading to further stock market depreciation.

Even though the economy recovered by the end of 1907, the fact that the USA had to frequently face economic depressions after the civil war; 1873, 1893, 1904 had made the people lose confidence in their own economy. The frequency of economic crisis in the USA, and the severity of the 1907 crisis added to the concern about the outsized role that JP Morgan played within the panic and added to the impetus for reform. Congress son passed the Aldrich-Vreeland Act which established the National Monetary Commission to investigate the panic ad to propose a legislation for banking. Senator Nelson Aldrich (R-RI) went to Europe in 1909 and only returned in late 1911 having learned the continent’s new banking and economic systems in a bid to reform America’s economy on European lines.

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American newspaper detailing the Federal Reserve Act.

The National Monetary Commission passed a final report in late 1913, which was then when Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act. President Woodrow Wilson signed the legislation immediately, and the legislation was enacted on the same day, December 23, creating the Federal Reserve System. Charles Hamlin became the system’s first chairman and JP Morgan’s deputy Benjamin Strong became the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, with a permanent seat on the Federal Open Market Committee.

For a normal reader, this backstory may seem unnecessary and quite long and trepid, however for you, an economic student to understand the Panic of 1914, all of this to be understood is essential.

Whilst the Federal Reserve Act was consequential in bringing a regulatory body to American economics once and for all, America was new to the system of central banking. And as such, it made several mistakes. Former money in the USA being concentrated in local banks became concentrated in the Federal Reserve, and this hampered the ability of the reserve to work properly. The system of creating regional banks was a good one, however too few regional banks were created by the act, and as a country with 48 states, having simply 12 regional banks was simply not enough for such a large state. As monetary accessibility became all the more harder, business started to hurt. The stock index topped in mid-1914 at 111 before suddenly, the extra monetary input led to severe inflation, and the stock market started to contract again. Stocks decreased by more than 27% on December 18th, 1914 and this triggered the panic of 1914.

The first business’s to collapse, was unfortunately, the Copper industry again. Soon, the after-effects were felt all throughout the USA as the stocks dropped throughout the country. The Federal Reserve made things a little better when it froze money supply into the stocks to freeze inflation, however the damage had already been inflicted on the economy, and suddenly everyone was marching towards Wall Street collect their collateral in a panic and hurry hoping to mitigate the ongoing economic disaster.

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Americans lining up before Wallstreet during the Depression of 1914-15.

Quite more disastrously for America, the governments of France, Britain and Germany had enough of the constant economic depressions in America, and instead opted to withdraw their investments in the American banking sector, leading to a sharp decline in the economy as well. The American Great Depression had started.” A History of American Economics; Why the Federal Reserve System Had To Be Reformed. University of Chicago, 2017.

“The Alsatian Crisis of December 1914 would typify the war that was about to start. Tensions had been rising in Alsace and Lorraine ever since the 1874 German Elections over the neglect and bad behavior that Alsatians and citizens of Lorraine had to commit themselves to from the main German government. It wasn’t only French Alsatians and Lorraine’s that felt the brunt of this discrimination, however German speaking people in the region, making up the vast majority of the population, also felt the sting of discrimination. Alsace Lorraine was conquered territory. So why would it be equal in the eyes of the rest of the country? That was the thought spread in the Prussian Kingdom in the German Empire. It also didn’t help that Alsace Lorraine was a majority catholic area, and the protestant dominated German Empire, certainly didn’t like Catholics too much, which was why Bavaria, Wurttemburg and Baden had powerful autonomist and regionalist political parties as well.

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Gunther von Forstner

The first measure of the crisis came when Second Lieutenant Gunter von Forstner, spoke disparagingly of the inhabitants of Alsace Lorraine in Zabern on December 23, 1914 during a troop induction ceremony. He told his soldiers “If you are attacked, then make use of your weapon. If you stab a wackes In the process, you will get ten marks from me” Wackes was a German derogatory word for a native Alsatian (be it French or German speaking). In addition he told his men to act against French agents who had been legally allowed in Alsace Lorraine to recruit members for the French Foreign Legion.

On December 26, the two local newsppaers, the Elsasser and the Zaberner Anzeiger informed the public about these remarks and orders, and the population exploded in anger. The Alsatians had never liked that they basically lived under military occupation from the 99th Rhenish Division and 87th Rhenish Division, and now the population exploded in protests aginst this treatment by the Prussian Military. The situation turned dangerous, as French nationalist organizations encouraged the protests, and the Governor of Alsace-Lorraine, Karl von Wedel, ordered the commander of the 99th division, Adolf von Reuter, as well as the commanding general of the area, Berthold von Deimling to transfer the second lieutenant to another region of the country.

In the eyes of the military however, this was inconsistent with the pride and prestige of the German army and instead only lightly reprimanded von Forstner and delaying a potential promotion by a year. Obviously unimpressed by this decision from the military, the population continued to protest. As a further provocation, Fortsner himself showed up in public. The youthful protestors derided, and abused the lieutenant who had made the remarks. Director Mahl of the civil administration was ordered to restore peace in the city, however as Mahl himself was a local Alsatian, and himself angered by the lieutenant’s remarks, did not accept the orders pointing out that the protests had remained peaceful, thus not violating any law.

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Alsatian armed protestors during the Alsatian Crisis.

The inaction of the german military and years of boiling tension exploded all over Alsace-Lorraine as on December 30, a huge crowd of Alsatians again assembled before the barracks, which led to a very inappropriate reaction. The military of the barracks, under the threat of force of arms, dispersed the crowd, and arrested over 300 people without any legal basis. Among the prisoners were the president, two judges, and a prosecuting attorney of the Saverne Court, all of whom had been made accidental members of the crowd when exiting the nearby court. Suspiciously, most of the arrested Alsatians were all French speaking Alsatians which inflamed ethnic tensions as well. Twenty six of the arrested people (of whom 19 were ethnic French) were locked in a coal cellar overnight. The editorial rooms of one of the local papers were also checked by the army. A feeling of siege enveloped the city as machine guns were displayed openly by the 99th Division in the streets.

However this would only be the beginning of the Alsatian Crisis.” How the Great War Came To Be. University of Paris, 1998.

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Interesting changes in Austria-Hungary, but if the war is about to start within twelve months I don't see how the army can possibly reorient itself for a defensive strategy- there's a long turn around in terms of training, surveying, military exercises, communicating strategy to the officer corps etc.
 
Interesting changes in Austria-Hungary, but if the war is about to start within twelve months I don't see how the army can possibly reorient itself for a defensive strategy- there's a long turn around in terms of training, surveying, military exercises, communicating strategy to the officer corps etc.
indeed. The entire doctrine cannot be collapsed and replaced. However it will lead to interesting changes in the A-H military actions.
 
So trying to pin stuff a defensive war for germany and austria. Austria may not be wrecked badly in as compared to otl with loss of so much of the army.

Eastern front is anyone guess. In regards to the western front so a defensive germany vs france? I know the french side of the border is fortified to insane amounts but is the germans side as well?. Key french resources and factories won't fall. No belgium makes it hard for the uk to join, but not out of the question. Wasn't the french doctrine focused on offense and now they have the resources to do it. Germans if front remains at the border may be able to allow them to rotate troops in and out.

Am i wrong, I remember royal navy role was to contain the germans in the Atlantic while france handled the med? France will be forced to pick on front till british intervention. So KuK may be able to get out of the Adriatic. Friendly ottoman ports? Italy by nature of the defensive treaty means they have to join, or not.
 
So trying to pin stuff a defensive war for germany and austria. Austria may not be wrecked badly in as compared to otl with loss of so much of the army.

Eastern front is anyone guess. In regards to the western front so a defensive germany vs france? I know the french side of the border is fortified to insane amounts but is the germans side as well?. Key french resources and factories won't fall. No belgium makes it hard for the uk to join, but not out of the question. Wasn't the french doctrine focused on offense and now they have the resources to do it. Germans if front remains at the border may be able to allow them to rotate troops in and out.

Am i wrong, I remember royal navy role was to contain the germans in the Atlantic while france handled the med? France will be forced to pick on front till british intervention. So KuK may be able to get out of the Adriatic. Friendly ottoman ports? Italy by nature of the defensive treaty means they have to join, or not.
No not a defensive germany. Their actions in alsace are anything but defensive. a more defensive austria-hungary is all. Italy on whether or not it will honor its alliance ittl will be a very interesting question......
 
So in a chapter or two, war shall come to Ottomans.
no not the ottomans. The ottomans will have to deal with their own mini-conflict. A small spoiler, the Ottomans will be mostly sitting this atl great war out. It will only make a major impact in the end. And that part will be the most interesting of all!
 
no not the ottomans. The ottomans will have to deal with their own mini-conflict. A small spoiler, the Ottomans will be mostly sitting this atl great war out. It will only make a major impact in the end. And that part will be the most interesting of all!
So no Gallipoli than?
 
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