The First World War (2003) s01e04 Episode Script

Part 4

NARRATOR: The call goes out for Jihad - Holy War.
Germany hoped her new ally Turkey would do just what it was told, and the Allies thought Turkey would be a pushover.
But the war in the Middle East went its own, wild way.
The Kaiser had been cultivating the Ottoman Empire long before the war began.
He wore a fez on state visits.
He was nicknamed Haji Wilhelm, following rumours that he had become a Muslim and made the pilgrimage to Mecca.
The 300 million Muslims scattered across the globe can be assured that the German Emperor is and will at all times remain their friend Part of Germany's interest in Ottoman Turkey was that they shared a common enemy: Russia.
Turkey's position, controlling the Dardanelle Straits, gave her the power to lock Russia up in the Black Sea.
And Turkey shared a volatile border with Russia in the Caucasus.
Russia is the hereditary enemy of the Ottoman Empire and her greatest desire is the possession of Constantinople The Ottoman Empire once stretched from the Arabian Peninsula to the gates of Vienna.
But it had lost a third of its territory in a run of disastrous wars.
The Ottoman Empire was the sick man of Europe, broke and on the verge of collapse.
The great powers have grasped us by the throat The Government can't pay monthly salaries All the public services are under the control of privileged foreign capital It would be very easy for a patriot to go out of his mind But one group of nationalist reformers planned to stop the rot - the Young Turks.
In 1909, they replaced the Sultan with his brother as a puppet, and started a programme of modernisation.
They looked for an ally to ward off predators and bankroll the future.
The ambitious Minister of War favoured Germany.
Just 32 years old, Enver Pasha had risen through the ranks, married the Sultan's niece, and lived in splendour in Constantinople, also known as Istanbul.
Enver Pasha had been military attaché in Berlin.
The Germans had the power his country needed.
I watched a parade of 33 000 German soldiers It was so excellent it makes one's mouth water The reason I love Germany is not sentimentality but the fact that she is not a danger to my beloved country On the contrary our two countries' interests go hand in hand Chief of the German General Staff, Helmuth von Moltke, ruled out Turkey as an ally.
Turkey is militarily a non-entity If Turkey was described before as a sick man it must now be described as a dying man The flamboyant Baron Max von Oppenheim made the Kaiser think again.
An archaeologist and consular official, Oppenheim passed himself off as an Islamic expert.
He was also a German agent.
He advocated a Holy War to bring down the British Empire.
When the Turks invade Egypt and India is set ablaze with the flames of revolt only then will England crumble For England is at her most vulnerable in her colonies By the outbreak of war, the Kaiser had come to see Jihad as the way to ferment revolution among the millions of Muslims under British rule.
Our consul and agents in Turkey and India must inflame the whole Mohammedan world to wild uprising for if we are to be bled to death at last England shall lose India The Ottoman Empire had found its ally Germany.
Enver bypassed the Turkish cabinet, secretly signing an alliance on 2 August 1914, while maintaining a public stance of neutrality.
Constantinople became the jump-off point for subversion to set the East ablaze.
The German Embassy became a hive of Oppenheim's raffish spies.
One group arrived from Berlin disguised as a travelling circus.
The word was, the Emir of Afghanistan had 50,000 Muslims ready to invade India.
The circus slipped out of Constantinople bound for Afghanistan, if only they could find it.
One of the Turks on the mission was Huseyin Rauf.
What do we know about Afghanistan beyond its name? I can't even visualise its place on the map I don't know how to get there Do I go via America? The irony was that Enver Pasha and the Young Turks weren't fanatical believers at all.
They went along with Germany's Jihad idea out of opportunism.
What Enver wanted was to draw together the Turkic peoples of the East into a new empire.
Enver had an army of 800,000, mainly from Anatolia, but also Arabs, Macedonians, Kurds.
It was thought to be a spent force, but Enver had reformed it.
Germany trained it.
Very considerable progress is being made in the Ottoman Army's efficiency The Turkih forces must now be regarded as a factor to be taken seriously into account But Turkey still had not publicly declared herself as Germany's ally.
And her cabinet was split over whether to fight.
But Turkey was desperate for money.
So the Germans decided to sweeten the deal, and force the Turks' hand.
Two of Germany's cruisers, the GÃben and the Breslau, were being chased across the Mediterranean by the Royal Navy.
Rather conveniently, they took refuge in Constantinople on 11 August 1914.
The presence of two German cruisers riding proudly at anchor by the Golden Horn undermined the Turk's pretence at neutrality.
So they shrugged, and told the world they had bought the ships.
Their German crews were given fezzes to wear.
Their fancy-dress antics were the talk of Constantinople.
The GÃben sailed up the Bosporus halted in front of the Russian Embassy Officers and men solmnly removed their Turkih fezzes and put on German caps The band played Deutschland Uber Alles Deutschland Uber Alles When they had spent an hour or two serenading the Russian Ambassador they put on their fezzes then picked up anchor leaving in the ears of the Russian diplomat the dying strains of German war songs The Turkish fleet, led by the GÃben and the Breslau, steamed out of the Bosporus.
On 29 October 1914, they attacked several Russian ports.
Enver Pasha had the gateway to the Black Sea mined.
The Germans paid over £5 million in gold, securing Turkey as their ally.
Turkey had joined in the First World War, pretty much on her own terms, and with her own agenda.
The Persian Muslims are threatening trouble There is a dry wind blowing through the East and the parched grasses wait the spark And the wind is blowing towards the Indian border Fiction by novelist John Buchan, but based on real fears of an Islamic Holy War.
By late 1914, Enver was looking East.
He had big ideas both for Jihad and for uniting the Turkic peoples.
Beyond the frontiers there are brethren to be liberated and bits of fatherland to be redeemed Nearly 40 years before, Russia had stolen a chunk of Eastern Turkey, along its Caucasian border.
Enver was desperate to kick the Russians off Turkish soil.
But it was an area riven with ethnic friction: Russians, Turks, Georgians, Kurds, and, on both sides of the frontier, Armenian Christians.
Loyalties in the Caucasus were hard to read, hard to be sure of.
Here at Erzurum Castle in November 1914, encouraged by the Germans, Enver Pasha took a key decision .
Though winter was closing in, he threw his army at the Russians.
Now he played the Islam card.
300 million Muslims are sighing under their chains and all our former fellow countrymen are praying for our victory and success Happy is he who falls for religion and fatherland Forward always forward for victory and fame and martyrdom and paradise In December 1914, the Turkish Ninth Corps marched through the high passes of the Allah Akbar mountains.
The aim was to sweep down on the town of Sarikamis and encircle the Russians.
The Russians at first panicked and retreated.
Enver's bold gamble nearly paid off.
But then the temperature plummeted and the Turks struggled into worsening conditions.
Enver tried to reassure them.
I see that you don't have shoes or coats but the enemy is afraid of you The Germans complained about our slowness but the snow was so deep Soldiers got lost at night some tried to light fires but many fell asleep never to wake again We realised in the morning that half the diviion had frozen to death The weather and terrain killed 25,000 Turks before they even made contact with the Russians.
The soliers were terrified of seeing the frozen corpses and they began deserting their posts We were trying to fire at the Russian troops but the mechanims of the guns had iced up We tremble to think what we lived through during those long and deadly days The scenes made one shudder.
The depressing sound of the trundling ox carts the corpses mouths open eyes staring thrown into the greedy stomach of the soil (Says Muslim prayer) On the Allah Akbar mountains, local men still say prayers for the dead of Sarikamis.
In 1919, Imdat Demir helped bury the bones.
Enver's grand offensive had ended in catastrophe.
He addressed his soldiers before leaving the front.
My friends for almost a month I have seen with my own eyes how you have attacked the enemy In spite of the harshness of the weather and all kinds of shortages you broke their resitance The Sultan and the whole nation congratulates you I am returning to Istanbul I pray that you will get more victories and not let the enemy rear his head any more I entrust you to the safekeeping of Allah Now the search for scapegoats began (Crowd cheers) Enver blamed the defeat not on himself, but on Turkish Armenians serving with the Russians in the Caucasus.
Tension between the Turks and their Armenian population was nothing new.
But now Turkey had serious fears that the Armenians were bidding for independence.
From all countries Armenians are hurrying to enter the ranks of the glorious Russian Army Let peoples remaining under the Turkish yoke receive freedom Let the Armenian people of Turkey who have suffered for the faith of Christ receive resurrection for a new free life under the protection of Russia The Russians now advanced, and the Turks fell back through Armenian areas.
Local Armenian resistance was more imagined than real.
The Turks responded with disproportionate, pre-emptive action .
Turkish Minister of the Interior Mehmet Talaat issued the following decree on 26 May 1915.
Because some of the Armenians who are living near the war zones have attacked the military forces and the innocent population certain measures are being adopted among which is the deportation of the Armenians The German Ambassador in Turkey, Baron von Wangenheim, warned Berlin of the imminent disaster.
Such a mass deportation to a destination many hundreds of kilometres away without sufficient means of transport via areas that offer neither accommodation nor food and are plagued with epidemic illness such as typhus will cost many lives especially amongst women and children The town of Harpout, key transit point of the forced Armenian exodus.
Thousands passed through here to exile in Syria, then part of the Ottoman Empire.
American Missionary Tacy Atkinson saw terrible sights in Harpout.
Thousands herded together mostly women and children the sick lying everywhere These people have been on the road six weeks They don't know where they are to go They have been attacked robbed and killed Armin T Wegner, a German medical officer stationed in Turkey, photographed the plight of the Armenians.
And the American Consul on the spot reported to his ambassador.
Sir I have to report one of the greatest tragedies in all history A revolutionary movement on the part of some of the Armenians was dicovered and severe measures taken to check it little distinction being made between people who were entirely innocent and those suspected of being participants in the movement The Armenians were marched across these mountains.
Even those who survived the journey were not safe when they reached Syria, as a German diplomat in Aleppo reported.
Out of 2000 to 3000 peasant women from the Armenian Plateau who were brought here in good health only 40 or 50 skeltons are left The prettier ones are the victims of their jailers' lust The plain ones succumb to blows hunger and thirst Every day more than a 100 corpses are carried out of Alppo Perhaps 800,000 Armenians died in all.
Whether this was an act of centrally directed genocide is still a matter of furious debate.
The Turks deny the charge, saying the Armenians died of exposure, famine and the actions of bad officials.
In June 1916, Mehmet Talaat, the Minister of the Interior who had issued the deportation order, spoke to a newspaper about Turkey's role in the disaster.
''The removal of the Armenians has become a military necessity but unfortunately through the fault of bad officials grave excesses occurred when this order was being executed'' At this point the miniter is stated to have paused and covered his eyes with his hand as if to avoid the contemplation of the terrible vision after which he continued "We are no savages" Care for the security of Turkey had to predominate over all other considerations'' On 3 January 1915, the Russian Tsar, panicking at the Turkish advance on Sarikamis, urged the Allies to attack Turkey.
The British agreed.
This is one of the greatest campaigns in history Think what Constantinople is to the East It is more than London, Paris and Berlin all rolled into one are to the West Think what its fall will mean This was the battle which might turn the war.
It could cut Germany's route to the East, unlock the Balkans and open up Russia via the Black Sea.
But first, the Navy would have to force its way through the Dardanelle Straits.
The French insisted on being involved, not wanting the British to dominate the Mediterranean.
On 18 March 1915, a combined French and British fleet attacked the Straits.
The flagship was hit by a large number of high calibre shells A turret was put out of action and all its crew killed The flames didn't spare anything Our young men a few minutes earlier so alert and courageous were all skeltons lying on the bare steel blackened carbonied The Turkish guns survived the naval bombardment.
The Allied ships were sitting ducks.
I told the battery commander Rifat Bey to increase fire He replied that shells are exploding on the decks of the enemy ships There is considerabl damage to them The French battleship Bouvet hit a mine.
Three battleships were sunk that day, three crippled, four damaged.
The Allies lost over 700 men.
It was a remarkable victory for the Ottoman Empire.
The Allies tried again.
This time, the Navy would support an amphibious landing of troops.
The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, known as Anzacs, joined French and British soldiers.
Contrary to later myth, the Anzacs weren't rough, tough diggers from the outback.
They were mostly city dwellers, many first-generation British immigrants, fighting for the mother country.
Turks like Behzade Kerim knew this would be a fight for their country's survival.
I will sacrifice myself for my faith my country my dear Istanbul I will crush the dirty loathsome hands reaching out to threaten my old father's happiness my innocent baby's life my beloved wife's honour I shall be as hard-hearted as an Englishman I salute you oh apple of my eye Istanbul Those who are about to die bid you farewell On 25 April 1915, 70,000 Allied troops went ashore on the peninsula of Gelibolu - Gallipoli.
A post-war film reconstructed the battle.
Private Robert Atkinson witnessed what was then the greatest seaborne invasion ever.
Troops in small boats being towed ashore effect a landing Terrific bombardment awful noie rolling round the cliffs surprise the Turks Splendid gunnery by the Navy Awe-inspiring scene My first experience of battle The Anzacs were landed in the wrong place.
(Gunfire) 8,000 men struggled ashore on a narrow strip of sand hemmed in by steep hills.
The men christened it Anzac Cove.
The Turks welcomed us with shrapnel and sprayed up the sea all about us but very few of us got hit There didn't seem much organiation on the shore In fact it was disorganiation Breaking out of Anzac Cove, the casualties soared.
New Zealander William Malone blamed the folly and incompetence of Australian officers.
General Braund had no defensive position no plan nothing but a murderous notion that the only thing to do was to plunge troops out of the neck of the ridge into the jungle beyond It was on these Turkish hills that Australian and New Zealand national identities were forged.
We were singing ''This bit of the world belongs to us'' Much swearing and cheering we charged up a hill so steep in places we could only just scramble up Clean over a machine gun we went men dropping all around me It was mad wild thrilling The Anzacs would have had an easier time, if it had been left to the German General Liman von Sanders.
He was holding troops back for an attack nine miles away that never came.
But a 34-year-old Turkish officer, Mustafa Kemal, climbed the peak of Chanak Bair and saw the Anzac troops approaching, and his own men fleeing.
"Why are you running away?" I asked ''The enemy sir'' they said ''You mustn't run away from the enemy'' "We've no more ammunition," they replied I ordered them to fix their bayonets and lie down and as they did so the enemy too lay down We had won time Mustafa Kemal issued a stark command.
I don't order you to attack I order you to die By the time we are dead other units and commanders will have come up to take our place He sent an angry letter to Enver Pasha, damning their German allies.
Liman von Sanders did not know either our army or our country and did not have time to study the situation properly I urge you strongly not to rely on the mental ability of the Germans headed by von Sanders whose hearts and soul are not engaged as ours are in the defence of our country The Turks contained the Anzac break-out at the cove.
Gallipoli made a hero out of Mustafa Kemal.
Within eight years, he became his country's leader, earning the name Ataturk, father of the Turks.
The British landing at V beach went badly.
The plan was to run the ship River Clyde onto the shore, her hold no longer full of coal, but men.
But she went aground further out, exposing the British to withering Turkish fire.
The enemy commanders were sending the men down the ramps But they could not escape the Turkih bullets Our fire was very effective knocking the enemy into the sea The shore at V beach was full of enemy corpses like shoal of fish The colour of the sea changed with the blood from their bodies (Machine-gun fire) The other landings went well, but initial success was not quickly exploited.
The Allied campaign, under General Sir Ian Hamilton, was cursed by poor co-ordination.
As on the Western Front, the two sides dug in to a bitter trench war.
Here, an Australian cameraman scrambles back to help his assistant under fire.
French officer Jean Giraudoux watched the war turn brutal.
The Australians massacre all the Turks One Australian told me that the Turks are their national enemy The conditions at Gallipoli were terrible.
Intense heat, bitter cold, little water.
Major Burge wrote home to his mother.
Respected madam Sitting fearlssly about 200 yards from two million bloodthirsty Turks I take up my pen I forgot to mention I've got about six feet of solid earth between me and them The sun is very hot and I am very thirsty The only thing there is to drink is water that comes from a nasty well which tastes as if it had a dead mule in it However we are given purifying tablets which are very good and make the water taste as if it had two dead mules in it To my high born royal wife Ayesha from your husband Mustafa Mahomet Captain 13th Turkish Infantry Oh Ayesha my morning star I pray God to bring this all to an end I can see our lovely Constantinople in ruins and our houses burnt to the ground These English are very persitent and there is no fear of death for them They are very cruel They watch us like wolves in the night and are upon us like the devil in the day Oh why did we join in this wicked war? Ayesha I must now take my leave of you as the sun is sinking and I must away to my devotion God bless you Ayesha I wish I were at home to give you my adorations But Ayesha never received Mustafa's letter.
It was found on his dead body by a British soldier.
The Turks lost 10,000 men in one afternoon.
As spring turned into summer, the stench of the dead became unbearable.
Eventually an armistice was called to bury the dead.
Many Turkish soldiers were illiterate.
Their experiences were reflected in their songs.
Turkish ballad (Gunfire and explosions) Disease became a major killer, particularly typhus and dysentery.
My old pal he was smart and upright as a guardsman After about 10 days to see him crawling about his backside hanging out We were trying to lower him down into the latrine I don't know what happened but he simply rolled into this foot-wide trench We couln't pull him out we didn't have any strength He drowned in his own excrement Allied resolve was weakening, as Lieutenant Colonel Fahrettin realised, writing to his father.
The moral of his troops has sunk so low as to be beyond description These fellows will eventually have to embark their troops and remove them one of these nights On 20 December 1915, they did just that.
Turkish officer Izzettin Bey was woken by the duty officer at three o'clock in the morning.
They had spotted many frigates and military transport ships They thought it was a new invasion but on the contrary the Britih were running away Their situation had become hopeless What had happened was victory and the will of Allah Turkish troops enter abandoned Allied trenches.
They did not fire on the retreating Allies, happy just to see them go.
After nine terrible months, the hills of Gallipoli fell silent.
Both sides had suffered around a quarter of a million casualties.
But for the Turks it was a triumph.
When the enemy finally withdrew Constantinople was decorated from one end to the other At night the minarets were lit up with oil lamps Everyone was full of joy Pal faces began to smile Constantinople came back to life The Germans were still trying to ignite a Holy War, Jihad, in the Middle East.
In the mosques fiery speeches are made against the English The excitement of the population is increasing 60 000 Afghan riders are ready to march The German agents, who'd slipped into the Ottoman Empire as a travelling circus, were now crossing Persia, disguised as tribesmen.
On 19 August 1915, they evaded Russian patrols and entered Afghanistan.
Their mission, to raise a Muslim army against the British and invade India.
The team had been on the road for nine months and had spent much of the time arguing about what route to take, and who was in charge.
The answer to that was German spy Oskar von Niedermayer.
Then Enver Pasha had second thoughts.
The Germans, in stirring up countries to revolt against their Russian and British masters, encouraged ideas of independence.
This clashed with Enver's vision of uniting all Muslims in an expanded, all-Turkic empire.
Enver pulled the Turks out of Niedermayer's mission, leaving the Germans to go it alone.
And when they finally reached Kabul, the Emir of Afghanistan kept them waiting another two months, before he'd even see them.
His Excellency listed the reasons why he could not receive us earlier It of course had nothing to do with anything political He compared us with tradesmen with lots of wares from which he could pick whatever he fancied and considered necessary Everything seemed to be a business transaction for him The Emir played the Germans off against the British.
Great riches, even his country's independence, were at stake.
He hit Niedermayer with a demand for £10 million and 100,000 rifles and guns.
While Niedermayer's party waited for the Emir to decide whether to invade India, they blundered about, offending Muslim sensibilities.
In order to enjoy some forbidden alcohol the soldiers secretly brewed schnapps The first drunkard a sight never before witnessed in Afghanitan as it is a religious blasphemy caused severe public anger The Emir had long been on the British payroll.
Now they upped the bribe to keep Afghanistan on side.
There were rumours of the arrival of huge money transports from India We worked it out that the closer this caravan got the icier our relationship with the Emir became Niedermayer and the Germans finally realised they were pawns in the Emir's game and abandoned the operation.
Jihad wasn't setting the East ablaze, but it still had the power to petrify the British.
And Enver had no intention of halting his expansionist plans.
He sent Colmar von der Goltz, a distinguished German Field Marshal, to take over command in Iraq and drive the war through Persia into India.
Then 72 years old, von der Goltz kept in touch with his family.
I could never have imagined that in my old age fate would take me so far out into the world and that I would travel in the steps of Alxander the Great through countries that filled our imaginations when we were young Britain decided a show of strength was needed in the Middle East, to persuade the Arabs that the British were the masters there, not the Germans or Turks.
The capture of Baghdad would create an immense impression in the Middle East especially in Persia Afghanitan and on our own frontier and would counteract the unfortunate impression created by want of success on the Dardanelles By May 1915, a British division, under Major-General Sir Charles Townshend, was advancing up the Tigris through Iraq, then part of the Ottoman Empire.
Just 25 miles short of Baghdad, they were halted by the Turkish Sixth Army.
The British fell back on Kut, a town on a loop in the Tigris.
The Turks surrounded them and the British settled in for a siege.
Major Dunn, who drew this map, wrote home on Christmas Day.
A very good dinner today mutton scotch broth salmon mayonnaise chicken confley roast duck and green peas Italian eggs chocolate and of course we toasted all our dear ones at home The British found themselves up against Colmar von der Goltz, now in charge of the besieging Turkish army, his conquest of India on hold.
Unfortunately the English have dug in well and we don't have the technical means to get rid off them Whether we will meet again in good health is in God's hand Townshend was optimistic they'd all be rescued within days.
But by January, with the food running out, their own cavalry came reluctantly to the rescue.
About three weeks ago the first horse fell under the butcher's knife Since then they have been slain daily about 20 a time We have it in steak and kidney pie horse mince, horse risols, potted horse horse soup, stuffed horse meat etc ad nauseam Hundreds of British soldiers died, trying to save Townshend's garrison.
This morning there was a strong English attack Between the battle lines the field is covered with English corpses The relieving force downstream has again failed to get through General Townshend has issued a communiqué to us ''The eyes of India and England are on us and we shall go down as heroes'' Which doesn't do us much good I'd sooner not be a hero in Kut and have plenty to eat The men are dying off fast now from starvation scurvy pneumonia The Tommies are sticking it out better than the Indian troops who refuse to eat mule or horse On 24 April, during the last, desperate days of the siege, a gallant attempt was made to send a ship carrying 270 tons of food up the Tigris to Kut.
Ali Ihsan was one of a group of Turks who stretched a cable across the Tigris, ensnaring the supply ship.
We conficated an English boat which contained all kinds of food enough to feed 5 000 for two months It was called Julnar but we renamed it Kendi Geln the Godsend Townsend became so desperate that the British made an offer to Turkish General Halil Pasha for the freedom of the garrison.
General Townshend offered to me one million English pounds for the freedom of the English Army Had this offer been made in other circumstances my answer would have been one word out of the barrel of my rifle Trying to keep my calm I replied that I took this offer as a joke Finally on 29 April 1916, after 146 days of siege, Townshend surrendered.
An even more humiliating defeat than Gallipoli.
All up now A terrible pity Never shall I forget that morning of surrender We settled down to the melancholy task of destruction Poor gunners Some were in tears as the guns they were so proud to have tended were blown to pieces The Turks marched in at noon and took over the place By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept Field Marshal von der Goltz died of typhus just before the Turkish victory at Kut, but it was in line with something he wrote, an unusually modern and prophetic view.
For me the present war is only the beginning of a long hitorical development at whose end will stand the defeat of England's world position The hallmark of the 20th century must be the revolution of the coloured races against the colonial Imperialism of Europe The evening after the fall Turks and Arabs moved through the narrow streets of the city to where we had buried the much loved Field Marshal a few days earlier The Turkih commander wanted to bring the news of the fall of Kut-el-Amara to the dead leader whose achievement it was Townshend sailed off to a comfortable captivity in Constantinople.
During the siege, 1,750 of his British and Indian soldiers had died, but the worst lay ahead.
12,000 men were marched through the desert to Baghdad.
A large percentage of the men were quite done for and couldn't possibly march another inch They were lying on the ground suffering from high fever and dysentery and were smothered from head to foot in filth and covered with flies By the war's close, over 4,000 veterans of Kut had died in prison camp, victims of wilful neglect by both Turkey and Britain.
''Never come back no more boys never come back no more The camp is becoming a bore boys it's becoming a terrible bore Shut up the old shop window put a notice over the door We're packing our kits for the jolly ol Ritz and we'll never come back no more'' The Allies had written off the Ottoman Empire from the start, but then suffered major defeats at its hands.
The Turks would see out the war.
It wasn't Allah or the Germans that kept them fighting to the end, but self-defence and political ambition.
In the next episode of The First World War, the giants Russia and Germany clash on the Eastern Front, and millions get caught in the middle.
A war without pity or rules.