Turkey in the First World War

Proclamation of War by Sultan Mehmet Reşad

  The following text is the proclamation of war, as read by Sultan Mehmet Reşad on November 11th, 1914 in Istanbul. The proclamation was published by all major newspapers the next day and the picture below on the left shows the first page of one of the most popular daily newspapers of the time "Servet-i Fünun", which has reproduced the text.  
"To my Army, to my Navy,

After the declaration of war among the Great Powers, I had called you to arms in order to be able to protect the rights and existence of our state and country against and unjust aggression of opportunist enemies if the need would arise.

While we were thus in a state of armed neutrality, the Russian fleet, which was on its way to lay mines at the entrance of the Black Sea Straits, suddenly opened fire on a part of our Navy that was engaged in manoeuvres. As Russia was expected to correct this unjustified act of aggression, which violates the international law, this country, together with her allies Britain and France, chose to severe diplomatic relations with our country by withdrawing their ambassadors. Subsequently, Russian troops violated our borders. British and French fleets jointly bombarded the Dardanelles, whereas the British fleet shelled the port of Akaba.

In the face of these successive and treacherous acts of hostility, we were forced to leave the long desired peace and appeal to arms in alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary in order to protect our lawful interests.

Over the last three centuries, Russia has caused our great country to suffer many losses in territory and when we finally arose to that sentiment of awakening and regeneration which would increase our national welfare and our power, the Russian Empire made every effort to destroy our attempts, either with war or with all sorts of intrigues.

Russia, England and France never for a moment ceased harbouring ill-will against our great Caliphate to which millions of Muslims suffering under their tyranny are religiously and whole-heartedly devoted, and it was always these powers that started every disaster and misfortune that came upon us.

Therefore, with this holy war which we are undertaking, God willing, we will put a definitive end to the attacks made against the glory of our Caliphate as well as against our sovereignty and from the other against the existence of our country.

Those first hits inflicted by our Navy in the Black Sea and our brave soldiers in Çanakkale, Akaba and the Caucasian frontier, with the help of God and the spiritual assistance of the Prophet, have strengthened our conviction that our sacred struggle for a right cause will be victorious. Moreover, this belief of ours is also confirmed by the fact that the countries and armies of our enemies are being crushed under the valiant heels of our allies.

My brave soldiers,

Never even for a single moment abstain from strenuous efforts and self-sacrifice in our cause and this holy war we have opened against enemies who dared to undermine our religion and our beloved homeland. Throw yourselves against the enemy as lions for the life and existence of both our country and 300 million Muslims, whom I have summoned by sacred decree to a supreme struggle, depend on your victory. Prayers and good wishes of the hearts of 300 million aggrieved and innocent believers, whose faces are turned in devotion to the Lord of the universe in mosques and the holy Kaaba, are with you.

My sons, my soldiers,

No army in the world was ever honoured with a duty like yours. When executing it, show that you are the descendants of the Ottoman armies that in the past made the world tremble, so that the enemies of our religion and our country will never again dare to tread on our sacred soil and to disturb the peace of the sacred soil of Hejaz, where the holy Kabaa and the tomb of our Prophet lies. Prove our enemies effectively that they are facing an Ottoman army and navy that know how to defend their religion, their homeland and their military honour with arms and how to defy death for their Sultan.

Since right and justice are on our side, whereas hatred and tyranny are on our enemies’, there is no doubt that the divine help of God and the moral support of our glorious Prophet will guide us.

I am convinced that we will emerge from this war as a glorious and powerful country that has recovered the losses of the past. Do not forget that we are comrades-in-arms with the two bravest and magnificent armies of the world. Let those of you who are to die become messengers of victory to those who have gone before us. Let the victory be sacred and the sword be sharp for those who are to remain in life.

Sultan Mehmet Reşad" / © Altay Atlı / this page is last updated on June 26, 2006