The Passion of Max von Oppenheim
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5. Oppenheim’s 1914 Denkschrift

The full text of Oppenheim’s Denkschrift betreffend die Revolutionierung der islamischen Gebiete unserer Feinde [Memorandum concerning the fomenting of revolutions in the Islamic territories of our enemies], carefully prepared by the Freiburg scholar Tim Epkenhans, was published and thus made generally accessible in 2001 in the academic journal Archivum Ottomanicum (vol. 19, pp. 120–63). It will be presented here, therefore, only in its broad outlines. Our attention will focus on its reception, on the means employed to execute its proposals, including the fatwa issued in the name of the Sultan-Caliph, and on its effectiveness.

The memorandum is dated “Berlin, im Oktober, 1914.” At that time Turkey had not yet officially entered World War I. A brief reminder of the succession of events leading up to Turkey’s entry into the war will not be out of place:

On 28 July 1914 Emperor Franz Josef declared war on Serbia after rejecting a relatively accommodating Serbian response to Austria’s demand that the Serbian conspirators responsible for the assassination of the Austrian Crown Prince and his wife in Sarajevo be delivered to Vienna to stand trial there.

On 31 July Russia, as an ally of Serbia, mobilized; in response, on 1 August, Germany mobilized and declared war on Russia.

On 3 August Germany declared war on France, which was allied to Russia, and poured troops into neutral Belgium; Britain sent Germany an ultimatum demanding the withdrawal of German troops from Belgium.

On 4 August Britain declared war on Germany.

On 2 August, in view of the seeming inevitability of a major war in Europe, a secret treaty of alliance was signed by the Ottoman Empire, which feared for its future in the event of a victory of the Entente powers, and Germany, which was eager to block a crucial line of communication, through the Bosphorus, between the Western powers and their Russian ally, as well as to use the Ottomans in order to extend their influence in the Muslim world. It was not until almost three months later, however, on 25 October, that the strongly pro-German Ottoman War Minister, Enver Pasha, with the support of Navy Minister Djemal Pasha and Interior Minister Talat Pasha, instructed Rear-Admiral Wilhelm Souchon—a German naval officer who had sought refuge in Turkish waters for his warships, the Goeben and the Breslau, after they had shelled ports in French Algeria, and who had been appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Ottoman Navy—to enter the Black Sea with his warships, now reflagged as Turkish ships, renamed the Yavuz Selim and the Medilli, and manned by their original German crews wearing fezzes. Their mission was to attack Russian harbors and naval vessels. As had certainly been anticipated, this action (29 October), provoked a Russian declaration of war on Turkey (2 November). On 5 November, Russia’s allies, Britain and France, in turn declared war on Turkey.1

It was thus early November before Turkey was drawn openly into the conflict. There were significant elements in Turkey that opposed entry into the war. According to the celebrated Turkish woman writer and activist Halide Edib Adivar, “in 1914 not only the masses but most of the intellectuals and leading forces of the Unionists [i.e. the Young Turks] were against the war. Only Enver Pasha and a certain convinced military group, along with the profiteers, were in favor of war.” She herself opposed Turkish entry into the war.2 Arnold Toynbee, then a 26-year old Fellow of Balliol in the service of British Intelligence, claims to have seen a privately circulated German memo of 1916, in which it was stated that “Turkey’s entry into the War was unwelcome to Turkish society in Constantinople, whose sympathies were with France, as well as to the mass of the people, but the Panislamic propaganda and the military dictatorship were able to stifle all opposition.”3 The Ottoman cabinet itself was divided. A small but powerful war party, led by Enver, favoured immediate entry into the war; another, far less powerful group of ministers was completely committed to maintaining Turkey’s neutrality as a fundamental policy; while a third group, the largest, without opposing entry into the war in principle, held that for tactical reasons it was in Turkey’s best interest to remain neutral for as long as possible. The treaty of alliance with Germany had been negotiated by the war party without the knowledge of the other members of the cabinet. The Grand Vizier, Said Halim Pasha, who as Foreign Minister had been involved in the negotiations for the treaty and had appended his signature to it, but was—in the words of Djemal Pasha, the Navy Minister and future commander of the Fourth Turkish Army in the Sinai—“utterly opposed to our participation in the war,” insisted that the treaty be kept secret. When knowledge of it finally reached the other members of the cabinet, it was met with vehement protest on the part of the majority. The deliberate provocation constituted by the bombardment of the Russian ports by the “Turkish” fleet, similarly decided by the pro-German war party without consulting their cabinet colleagues, resulted in the Grand Vizier’s threatening to resign and in the actual resignation of several other ministers.4 Oppenheim’s memorandum was thus composed at a time when there was still some uncertainty about Turkey’s eventual role in the war, despite the pressure from Berlin and the considerable power wielded by the “Three Pashas”—War Minister Enver, Navy Minister Djemal, and Interior Minister Talat.5

Hence the emphasis, at the beginning of the memorandum, on the necessity of active Turkish co-operation, military as well as propagandistic: “The most important precondition for fomenting revolution in the Islamic territories of our enemies is the energetic co-operation of the Turks under the banner of the Sultan-Caliph.” Oppenheim goes on to observe, generally, that half-measures in support of his proposals will get nowhere: “We have to supply the Turks with men, money, and matériel, for only by deploying considerable resources can we obtain a satisfactory result.” The end, however, will be worth every effort expended to achieve it, for “only when the Turks invade Egypt and revolts break out in India will England be made to yield. Public opinion in ‘greater England’ will force the government in London either to send as much as half the fleet to India in order to protect the many Englishmen living there, as well as the billions invested in the country, and to sustain Britain’s place in the world, or—since it can be expected that England on its own [i.e. without its empire] will be unable to achieve that last goal—to make peace on terms favorable to us.”6

The memorandum makes detailed practical suggestions for creating an efficient, well-organized propaganda machine, to be run by the Turks and the Germans, with the latter in full control, but in such a way that the Turks are unaware of this.7 The aim of the propaganda is to persuade all Muslims, but especially the Muslim subjects of the British, the French, and the Russians, that the Germans are winning the war and will emerge victorious from it, and thus to encourage Muslims under British, French, and Russian rule to rise up against their foreign masters. To this end, Oppenheim proposes establishing a Nachrichtenstelle [intelligence bureau] in Berlin, to be directed by himself and staffed by German Orientalists and foreign-born lecturers, for the purpose of preparing leaflets in all the relevant languages; making use of all the German consulates in the Middle East (which should expect an appropriate increase in their monthly budgets) as well as of private German citizens in foreign service and German businessmen abroad, in order to ensure the widest possible distribution of the propaganda material; and not least, setting up information agencies or reading rooms (Nachrichtensäle) in all major population centres.8

On the question of action to be taken against the enemy, the memorandum describes in great detail the situation in the main British, French, and Russian territories inhabited by Muslims (population of the area, proportion of Muslims, whether predominantly Shi’a or Sunni, attitudes of the leaders and of the various classes of the population to rule by Christian Europeans, strength and morale of native and European armed forces, conditions that would need to be created in order to incite the people to rise up, etc.). Sections are devoted to Egypt and Arabia; Kyrgyzstan and Turkestan; Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia; and India. The first and last of these sections—on Egypt and India—are by far the most substantial and detailed, the chief enemy, in Oppenheim’s eyes, being without doubt Britain, and the potential effect of uprisings in India and Egypt on the the military capabilities of the Triple Entente, in his view, greatest.9 A successful Turkish attack on Egypt, for which the assistance of the Bedouins should be sought, would be likely to set off massive revolts in Egypt and mutinies in the Anglo-Egyptian army, resulting in closure of the Suez Canal to British ships and disruption of the crucial British connection with India. Without such action by the Turks, however, nothing can be expected of the Egyptians. (In general, Oppenheim expressed a stereotypical view of “Orientals” in this memorandum intended for German officialdom. Thus the Turks were poor organizers and would achieve nothing without German guidance; the Armenians and the Christian Georgians “probably deserve their reputation as cowards, plotters, and schemers”; the great mass of “Orientals” was in general “apathetic.”)

Further sections of the memorandum deal with the role to be played by Persia and Afghanistan and with ways of persuading their rulers to co-operate, both militarily and through propaganda, with the Central Powers.10 Again the social and political situation of both countries is described, their military potential analyzed in some detail, and the best means envisaged of overcoming the mutual distrust that Oppenheim sees as preventing a highly desirable triple alliance of the three Muslim powers: Turkey, Persia, and Afghanistan. Such an alliance, in Oppenheim’s view, would be directed chiefly toward promoting uprisings in India, both by appealing to Muslim solidarity and by means of a military push toward the Persian Gulf and the North-West Territories.11 Useful by-products of such military action are also considered, such as gaining control of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company’s wells, storage depots, and refineries and thus cutting off supplies of oil to the British fleet—as well as laying the groundwork for a German take-over of the facilities after the war. (As noted earlier, Oppenheim was always attentive to the economic and commercial possibilities inherent in the various projects, political and scholarly, that he supported.) Finally, Oppenheim suggests methods of exploiting anger and resentment among the Muslim colonial troops in the British and French armies: by dropping propaganda leaflets from the air encouraging them to desert and go over to the Germans, and by separating Muslim POWs from their French and English comrades and placing them in separate camps where they would receive favourable treatment, where all their religious needs would be catered to, and where an effort could be made with the assistance of specially brought in imams to “fanaticize” as many as possible. Those who responded best to this treatment would then be persuaded to participate in anti-Entente propaganda, and, in some cases, to return to the front to work in Germany’s interest—either by fighting on the German side or by infiltrating their former British or French units and sowing dissent and disaffection among fellow-Muslims.

The indispensable condition of Oppenheim’s proposals was that, as most Muslims, according to him, accepted the Turkish Sultan’s claim to be the Caliph or religious leader of the Ummah, all propaganda directed toward Muslims be carried out in the name of the Caliph and thus be invested with the “nimbus,” as Oppenheim put it, of the successor of the Prophet.12 “As soon as Turkey strikes, the call to Holy War and emancipation from foreign rule must immediately be sounded.”13 Oppenheim was taken at his word. On 11 November, nine days after Russia responded to the Turkish naval attacks of late October by declaring war on the Ottoman Empire, and six days after Britain and France followed suit, Turkey belatedly declared war on Britain and France and their allies. Five fatwas were drawn up and signed by Sheikh ul-Islam Khairi, the Grand Mufti of Constantinople. Couched in the form of a series of questions to and answers from the learned Sheikh, the fatwas proclaimed that the pursuit of jihad against the Entente powers was a holy obligation of every individual Muslim, including Muslims living under the rule of any one of those powers and thus subject to the harshest reprisals from their rulers, such as “death for themselves and the destruction of their families.” Any Muslim failing in this duty, it was stated, will incur the wrath of God; any Muslim who engages in combat against the soldiers of Islam (hence any Muslims fighting in the British, French, and Russian armies) will merit the fires of hell.14

On 11 November, at a solemn ceremony in the great mosque of Mehmet II the Conqueror in Constantinople, the banner of the Prophet was unfurled and Sheikh ul-Islam Khairi girded the Sultan with the sword of the Prophet. The Sultan and the War Minister, Enver Pasha, delivered fiery speeches calling upon the people to join in the struggle against the enemies of Islam. On 14 November the formal promulgation of the fatwas calling for jihad was marked by a spectacle carefully planned and directed by the German authorities, of which the Dutch Orientalist Snouck Hurgronje wrote contemptuously that it had to have reminded any Westerner “of a musical comedy of Offenbach.”15 A crowd of demonstrators, accompanied by a band, gathered in front of the German Embassy, where they were greeted from the balcony by Ambassador von Wangenheim and fourteen Moroccan, Tunisian, and Algerian POWs, specially brought in from camps in Germany to create a vivid image of the solidarity of all Muslims. Interpreter Karl Emil Schabinger, who had travelled with the group—and who later succeeded Oppenheim as head of the latter’s intelligence bureau or Nachrichtenstelle für den Orient—stood behind the POWs, prompting them to cries of “Long Live the Sultan and Caliph.” After the crowd had been harangued by the leader of the Young Turks’ Progress and Union Party and a Turkish-speaking member of Ambassdor Wangenheim’s staff, to which it responded with cheers for the Kaiser and Germany, Islam’s ally, the demonstration moved on to the Embassy of Austria-Hungary and then to the inner city, where Schabinger recounts that one of the accompanying policemen, fired up by patriotic enthusiasm, entered a hotel, took out his revolver and fired point blank at a handsome English grandfather-clock in the entrance hall.16 The next day, 15 November, the five fatwas appeared in print in the newspaper Iqdām and in French translation in the Constantinople French newspaper La Turquie. Finally, on 25 November, the official proclamation of jihad was published in Turkish in the newspaper Sabah, along with the names of the signatories, led by Sheikh ul-Islam Khairi. A French translation came out the following day in La Turquie.


In Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, published at the end of the war (1918), the American ambassador to Constantinople gives a vivid account of the proclamation and of one of the pamphlets preaching jihad that followed it. Soon after the Sultan’s declaration of war, Morgenthau writes,

the Sheik-ul-Islam published his proclamation, summoning the whole Moslem world to arise and massacre their Christian oppressors. “Oh, Moslems,” concluded this document, “Ye who are smitten with happiness and are on the verge of sacrificing your life and your goods for the cause of right, […] gather now around the Imperial throne, obey the commands of the Almighty, who, in the Koran, promises us bliss in this and in the next world; embrace ye the foot of the Caliph’s throne and know ye that the state is at war with Russia, England, France, and their Allies, and that these are the enemies of Islam. The Chief of the believers, the Caliph, invites you all as Moslems to join in the Holy War!”

The religious leaders read this proclamation to their assembled congregations in the mosques; all the newspapers printed it conspicuously; it was broadcast in all the countries which had a large Mohammedan population—India, China, Persia, Egypt, Algiers, Tripoli, Morocco, and the like; in all these places it was read to the assembled multitudes and the populace was exhorted to obey the mandate. The Ikdam [Iqdām], the Turkish newspaper which had passed into German ownership, was constantly inciting the masses. “The deeds of our enemies,” wrote this Turco-German editor, “have brought down the wrath of God. A gleam of hope has appeared. All Mohammedans, young and old, men, women and children, must fulfil their duty so that the gleam may not fade away, but give light to us for ever. How many great things can be accomplished by the arms of vigorous men, by the aid of others, of women and children! […] The time for action has come. We shall all have to fight with all our strength, with all our soul, with teeth and nails, with all the sinews of our bodies and of our spirits. If we do it, the deliverance of the subjected Mohammedan kingdoms is assured. […] Allah is our aid and the Prophet is our support.”

The Sultan’s proclamation was an official public document, and dealt with the proposed Holy War only in a general way, but about this time a secret pamphlet appeared which gave instructions to the faithful in more specific terms. […] It was printed in Arabic, the language of the Koran. It was a lengthy document […] full of quotations from the Koran, and its style was frenzied in its appeal to racial and religious hatred. It described a detailed plan of operations for the assassination and extermination of all Christians—except those of German nationality. A few extracts will portray its spirit:

O people of the faith and O beloved Moslems, consider even though but for a brief moment, the present condition of the Islamic world. For if you consider this but a little, you will weep long. You will behold a bewildering state of affairs which will cause the tear to fall and the fire of grief to blaze. You see the great country of India, which contains hundreds of millions of Moslems, fallen, because of religious divisions and weaknesses into the grasp of the enemies of God, the infidel English. You see forty millions of Moslems in Java shackled by the chains of captivity and of affliction under the rule of the Dutch. […] You see Egypt, Morocco, Tunis, Algeria, and the Sudan […] groaning in the grasp of the enemies of God and his apostle. […] Wherever you look you see that the enemies of the true religion, particularly the English, the Russians, and the French, have oppressed Islam and invaded its rights in every possible way. We cannot enumerate the insults we have received at the hands of these nations who desire totally to destroy Islam and drive all Mohammedans off the face of the earth. This tyranny has passed all endurable limits; the cup of our oppression is full to overflowing. […] In brief, the Moslems work and infidels eat; the Moslems are hungry and suffer and infidels gorge themselves and live in luxury. The world of Islam sinks down and goes backward, and the Christian world goes forward and is more and more exalted. The Moslems are enslaved and the infidels are the great rulers. This is all because the Moslems have abandoned the plan set forth in the Koran and ignored the Holy War which it commands. […] But the time has now come for the Holy War, and by this the land of Islam shall be for ever freed from the power of the infidels who oppress it. This holy war has now become a sacred duty. Know ye that the blood of infidels in the Islamic lands may be shed with impunity—except those to whom the Moslem power has promised security and who are allied with it. (Herein we find that Germans and Austrians are excepted from massacre.) The killing of infidels who rule over Islam has become a sacred duty, whether you do it secretly or openly, as the Koran has decreed: ‘Take them and kill them whenever you find them. Behold we have delivered them unto your hands and given you supreme power over them.’ He who kills even one unbeliever of those who rule over us, whether he does it secretly or openly, shall be rewarded by God. And let every Moslem, in whatever part of the world he may be, swear a solemn oath to kill at least three or four of the infidels who rule over him, for they are the enemies of God and of the faith. Let every Moslem know that his reward for doing so shall be doubled by the God who created heaven and earth. A Moslem who does this shall be saved from the terrors of the Day of Judgment, of the resurrection of the dead. […] The time has come that we should rise up as the rising of one man, in one hand a sword, in the other a gun, in his pockets balls of fire and death-dealing missiles, and in his heart the light of the faith […].”

Specific instructions for carrying out this holy purpose follow. There shall be a “heart war”—every follower of the Prophet, that is, shall constantly nourish in his spirit a hatred of the infidel; a “speech war”—with tongue and pen every Moslem shall spread this same hatred wherever Mohammedans live; and a war of deed—fighting and killing the infidel wherever he shows his head. […] “The Holy War,” says the pamphlet, “will be of three forms. First, the individual war, which consists of the individual personal deed. This may be carried on with cutting, killing instruments, […] like the slaying of the English chief of police in India, and like the killing of one of the officials arriving in Mecca by Abi Busir (may God be pleased with him).” The document gives several other instances of assassination which the faithful are enjoined to imitate. Second, the believers are told to organize “bands,” and to go forth and slay Christians. The most useful are those organized and operating in secret. “It is to be hoped that the Islamic world of to-day will profit very greatly from such secret bands.” The third method is by “organized campaigns,” that is, by trained armies.17

With the proclamation of jihad, the primary condition of Oppenheim’s project had been satisfied and the way was clear for implementing the other proposals in his memorandum. The Ottoman Fourth Army in Damascus was placed under the command of Djemal and the German Chief of Staff Kress von Kressenstein and prepared for what was to have been a surprise attack on Egypt and the Suez Canal in early 1915. A special agent was sent to the consulate at Tripoli with orders to subvert French rule in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.18 Missions to Afghanistan and Persia were organized, with the aim of persuading the rulers of those countries to engage in military actions directed against India and British interests in the Persian Gulf. Oppenheim recommended key members for both missions: Oskar Niedermayer for the mission to Afghanistan and Wilhelm Wassmuss to stir up trouble for the British in Persia.19 Convinced, as the 1914 memorandum shows him to be, of the power of propaganda, Oppenheim himself set up the so-called Nachrichtenstelle für den Orient [Orient Intelligence Bureau] under the roof of the Auswärtiges Amt in Berlin and then in offices of its own in the Tauntzienstrasse in Berlin’s West End. Its function was to gather intelligence and to spread Pan-Islamist ideas among Muslims everywhere, including those serving in the armies of the Entente, encourage participation in the jihad against the British, French, and Russian enemies of Islam, convince Muslim opinion that Germany was the friend of Islam, and, not least, counter the propaganda of the British and French by reporting on German military successes.20 For Oppenheim was realistic enough to have understood that the Muslim leaders and populations were not sufficiently “fanatical” to join in the “Holy War” if they were not convinced that by doing so they would be on the winning side.

With sections devoted to Arabia, Persia, Turkey, India, and Russia, the Nachrichtenstelle employed many German academics specializing in various branches of “Oriental studies” and a fair number of Muslim associates, chiefly from Egypt and North Africa. It was drastically underfunded, not well organized, and beset by rivalries.21 Nevertheless, in addition to placing pro-German articles in newspapers in Constantinople and elsewhere and producing a twice-monthly Arabic language news-sheet, El-Dschihad, for dissemination among Muslim POWs,22 the Bureau did turn out and arrange for distribution of a considerable quantity of leaflets and pamphlets, thanks largely to substantial contributions by Oppenheim out of his own pocket.23

The fatwas were widely distributed, on the Western front as well as in the Muslim lands, in Arabic, Persian, and other languages, as well as Turkish. It was obvious, however, that the Entente powers could easily obtain fatwas from local legal experts declaring obedience to the colonial powers lawful and binding on Muslims in their jurisdiction. In addition, Sharif Hussein of Mecca, encouraged by the British, was campaigning to have himself recognized as the legitimate Caliph, rather than the Ottoman Sultan whose right to the title of Caliph was not universally recognized by Muslims—as some German Oriental scholars and German diplomats well informed about Islam had not failed to point out, in at least one case to the Kaiser himself.24

The effectiveness of the fatwas issued by Sheikh ul-Islam Khairi was thus uncertain. Leaflets were therefore produced in which the emphasis fell on the anti-colonialist argument: atrocities committed by the colonial powers, discrimination against Muslims in the French army; British exploitation of India. Combatting British and French propaganda was a special concern of Oppenheim’s and there was a considerable output of brochures boasting of the numbers of British, French and Russian soldiers captured, ships destroyed, pieces of artillery seized, and so on. Illustrated albums designed to enliven these dry statistical accounts were provided with captions in Turkish, Arabic, Persian, and Urdu. Sometimes literary forms were put to use, as in a poem in Arabic, composed in 1915 by a member of the Young Egypt National Committee in Berlin and calling for Islamic unity and jihad. Three poems in Persian sang the praises of the German army in the form and language of Persian epics.25 A project dear to Oppenheim was the establishing of reading rooms (Nachtrichtensäle) throughout the Ottoman Empire, at which the local population could have access to the most recent news of the war and also find out about Germany, its war effort, and its industrial and commercial prowess. Oppenheim himself travelled widely to implement this project and boasted of having set up more than seventy-five such Nachrichtensäle.26 In addition, Oppenheim understood the potential of film as a medium of communication and opinion-forming and set about producing propaganda films for showing in Muslim countries. How effective all this activity was, however, is uncertain, to say the least. Oppenheim’s claim that “up to 10,000 people” a day visited some of the provincial reading rooms and 20,000 a day the reading room in Pera (the commercial centre of Constantinople) is not credible.27

As we have seen, ideas close to Oppenheim’s had been bandied about well before the war and they continued to enjoy the support of influential figures in the Auswärtiges Amt and the German army and navy. General Helmuth von Moltke, for instance, the Chief of the General Staff, was convinced, once war had broken out, that “the fanaticism of Islam” should be deployed against the British and the Russians through the fomenting of violent uprisings in India and the Caucasus.28 At the Auswärtiges Amt, Arthur Zimmermann, then Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs—he was to gain notoriety later for the so-called “Zimmermann telegram” which, as Foreign Secretary, he sent to the German Ambassador to Mexico in January 1917 and which helped to bring the United States into the War on the side of the Entente29—strongly supported exploiting Muslim resentment as an effective strategy for Germany. On 27 August, over a month before Oppenheim submitted his memorandum, the Auswärtiges Amt instructed the German Embassy in Constantinople to “ruthlessly and unsparingly (rücksichtslos und schonunglos) carry out the plan for arousing Panislamic sentiment against England and its colonial possessions.”30 In a secret World War II U.S. State Department communication Franz von Papen, who was active in Turkish affairs in both World Wars, is said to have “during World War I […] prepared several reports which he presented to the German General Staff and in which he suggested a plan for a ‘Jihad’, a Moslem Holy War and general revolt in the British Empire to be called for by the Caliph (the Sultan of Turkey) and organized by German agents.”

According to this document, however, “Von Papen was not himself the originator of the ‘Jihad’, as this had previously been taken up by several German politicians and members of the German diplomatic service, among whom particular mention may be made of Professor Max von Oppenheim, archaeologist and […] Oriental Secretary to the German Consulate-General in Cairo. Von Papen’s ideas,” the report continues, “were of special interest to German Headquarters and by order of Falkenhayn, then Chief of the German General Staff, von Papen was transferred on the entry of Turkey into the war, to the Eastern Front.”31 A comment by Ambassador Morgenthau appears to confirm the broad currency of the jihad plan. He had been informed, he relates, rather nonchalantly by his German counterpart Hans von Wangenheim of a plan to “arouse the whole fanatical Moslem world against the Christians,” as though there was nothing startling or unusual about it.32

As it happens, Wangenheim appears to have been one of a number of people who were sceptical of both the wisdom and the effectiveness of the strategies outlined by Oppenheim in his memorandum. The German Consul-General in Cairo (1906–1908), Count Bernstorff, who favoured a conciliatory policy toward Great Britain and over whose head Oppenheim had sent his memos from Cairo directly to the Auswärtiges Amt in Berlin, was another.33 Strong misgivings about his country’s Near Eastern policy in general were also voiced—directly to the Kaiser—by a German diplomat who not only had broad experience of the Orient (having served as interpreter to the German representatives in Beirut and Teheran, as consul in Baghdad and Jerusalem, as German ambassador to Morocco in Tangiers, and as a specialist in oriental affairs at the Auswärtiges Amt) but was, in addition, a respected Islamic scholar (the author of a Persian grammar and of the still standard German translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam). Friedrich Rosen, like Oppenheim, was of part-Jewish ancestry (his British-born mother Serena Anna Moscheles, though baptised at birth, was a daughter of the Czech-Jewish composer and musician Ignaz Moscheles, who had enjoyed brilliant success in London), and his career, like Oppenheim’s had suffered on that account. However, unlike the nationalist and anglophobic Oppenheim, Rosen believed good Anglo-German relations should be a cornerstone of German foreign policy and did what he could to dissuade his superiors at the Auswärtiges Amt—and on a couple of occasions, in 1907 and again in 1913, the Kaiser himself—from a policy of close co-operation with the Ottomans. Such a policy was bound, he argued, to arouse British suspicion and hostility and reinforce the British-French-Russian coalition.34 There was also scepticism among German officers and advisers attached to the Turkish army. According to one historian, “many considered [trying to unleash a Holy War against the allies] a waste of valuable manpower and resources, and very likely to backfire on them.”35

The sceptics and critics were outweighed, however, by the advocates, prominent among them Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg (who also supported Oppenheim’s intriguing with the revolutionary Indian Ghader Party to encourage terrorist action in India and mutinies among Hindu troops in the British army36) and, not least, the Kaiser himself. True, there were dissenting voices and strong misgivings about the promotion of jihad not only in sections of the general population in Germany, as word of renewed massacres of Armenians (1915–1916) spread, but among German consular officers and other Germans who witnessed atrocities committed in the name of jihad against the Armenians in their jurisdictions. Even the reaction to the massacres was relatively muted in Germany, however, compared with the outcry in other European countries.37 And a considerable pamphlet literature, some of it no doubt officially inspired, attempted to reassure ordinary Germans about their country’s alliance with a Muslim nation against other Christian, European nations.38 The author of one 80-page pamphlet, rousingly titled Hie Allah! Das Erwachen des Islam [Lo, Allah! The Awakening of Islam], recalled the profound effect upon the “entire Islamic world” of the “famous speech in which the Kaiser announced that three hundred million Mohammedans had no better friend than him.” (The allusion is to the Kaiser’s proclaiming himself the friend of Islam in a speech at the tomb of Saladin in Damascus in 1898.) Pan-Islamism, the writer wrote reassuringly, did not represent a threat to all Christian nations, and especially not to Germany, which had never attempted to subject any Muslim people to its rule, and the Sultan-Caliph’s jihad was not directed against Christians in general, but only against the enemies and oppressors of Islam. Given that Islam prefers no particular form of state, makes no ethnic or racial distinctions among the faithful, and permits each community to pursue its own interests and ideals and to adopt its own administrative forms, “it is not possible to gather all these different interests under a single umbrella and direct them toward a specific goal.” Only when Islam is threatened “can the Caliph, by proclaiming Holy War, call upon all Muslims to unite under him and serve him with all their might and main.” The outbreak of war has now “roused the feeling of community among all the Islamic peoples, irrespective of origin and race, to fever pitch, so that we can now observe the emergence of a powerful movement directed against those nations that in the course of time have overrun Muslim lands and subjected their populations to unrestrained domination and arbitrary rule”—i.e. Britain, France, and Russia, but not Germany or Austria-Hungary.39 This reassuring view of the jihad proclaimed by the Sultan-Caliph was supported by a Muslim scholar writing in a Berlin-based journal in 1916. Many non-Muslims interpret jihad “mistakenly,” he asserted, as a movement to impose the Muslim religion on the entire world.40

Another, somewhat shorter pamphlet of thirty-eight pages (Dschihad. Der Heilige Krieg des Islams und seine Bedeutung im Weltkriege [Jihad: Islam’s Holy War and its Significance in the World War], by a Dr. Gottfried Galli), which appeared in 1915, acknowledged the seeming anomaly of the Crescent fighting with the Cross against other great Christian nations and the anxieties raised in German Christian and especially missionary circles by the Armenian massacres. Nevertheless, it justified Germany’s alliance with an Islamic nation on the grounds of a common struggle against the Weltherrschaft [dominion over the whole world] that certain other nations sought to impose. With his appearance at Tangiers, his journey to Jerusalem, and his announcement at Saladin’s tomb that he was the friend of all the world’s Muslims, the Kaiser himself had taken the lead in promoting this alliance between Germany and Islam. Germany’s “Holy War” against England and the Ottoman-proclaimed jihad against the Entente powers were both inspired by the same popular resentment of foreign interference: “The Holy German War, shoulder to shoulder with the jihad, is the first fruit of [the Kaiser’s] policy and the most portentous for the entire future.” Its success, the reader was advised in the Foreword, depended on a correct understanding of jihad by the German people.

The main text proceeded, first, to emphasize that Germany herself was engaged in a Holy War “arising from the depths of popular feeling and the consciousness that what is at stake is the protection of the nations’s holiest heritage”; and, second, to reassure readers about the nature of jihad. To the question whether “such an alliance [with an Islamic nation] does not constitute a desacralizing of our own Holy War” the author answered: “A quick look at the history and doctrine of Islam demonstrates without any ambiguity that all the earlier hostility to Christians and all the horrors of earlier jihads have as little to do with the essence of Islam as the Inquisition, burning at the stake, witch-hunts, and so forth have to do with the essence of Christianity.” But what about the Armenian massacres? “Do they not demonstrate the opposite—the true nature of Islam?” The answer to that was easy: “No, no, and again no!” The massacres, the author maintained, were the product of intrigues by the English and the Armenians themselves.41 The pamphlet continued with an attack on two severe critics of Germany’s jihad strategy: Johannes Lepsius, a Protestant German Orientalist and missionary (he was the son of the founding father of German Egyptology Carl Richard Lepsius and himself a founder of the German Orient Mission), and the eminent Dutch Oriental Scholar, Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje. Lepsius had been presenting the jihad strategy as having played into the hands of the chauvinistic and irreligious Young Turks, while his Bericht über die Lage des armenischen Volkes in der Türkei (1916) was a meticulously documented denunciation of the massacres as coldly and cynically planned and executed by the Committee of Union and Progress—i.e. Enver, Talat and Djemal—in order to create, for political reasons, a uniform and homogeneous population in the Ottoman Empire.42 In his just published Deutschland und der Heilige Krieg (Leipzig, 1915; Engl. trans. The Holy War “Made in Germany,” New York, 1915) Snouck Hurgronje, for his part, as we saw earlier, denounced German scholars for publicly rallying behind an atavistic, religion-inspired form of war that they themselves had condemned in their pre-War writings.43 In contrast, the author of Dschihad: Der Heilige Krieg des Islams insisted that jihad was “a struggle for existence. The dross of bygone days has been cleaned out of it and it has been freed from fanatical hostility to those of other faiths.” Indeed, he argued, only good could come of the collaboration of Germany and Islam. Adapting two well known lines by the mid-nineteenth-century poet Emanuel Geibel, Denn es soll am Deutschen Wesen/Einstmal noch die Welt genesen [“For in days to come the world will be cured through the German spirit”], the author of the pamphlet claimed that, far from pursuing atavistic goals, Islam “is consciously seeking to cure itself through its contact with German culture.”44

Oppenheim’s project did not achieve the results its author and advocates expected. The British were not surprised by what was to have been a surprise Turkish attack on the Suez canal that would set Egypt afire, and the Turks were beaten back.45 Oppenheim had hoped through his personal contacts with Faisal, one of the sons of Hussein, the sharif of Mecca and guardian of the Muslim holy places, to win the support of the Arabs for his jihad, but he was outmanoeuvered by his British counterpart T.E. Lawrence. After playing a double game for a while, Hussein threw in his lot with the British and led the Arabs in an uprising against the Ottomans.46 The legitimacy, in Muslim eyes, of Oppenheim’s jihad, which had always been precarious, was now fatally compromised. A jihad initiated by the government of the notoriously irreligious Committee of Union and Progress and directed against only specified infidel nations, while being supported and largely directed by another infidel nation, had not been overwhelmingly convincing to begin with and it had not succeeded in arousing the “fanaticism of Islam.” Oppenheim himself seems to have acknowledged as much since, after he returned from a tour of Syria and Northern Arabia in 1915, the jihad theme played a diminished role in his propaganda literature. When, in addition, with the Arab uprising against the Ottomans, a large part of the Muslim world openly rejected his jihad, Oppenheim’s grandiose project of widespread revolt by the Muslim subjects of the Entente powers was doomed. A thoughtful analysis of the failure of the project, offered by Hans-Ulrich Seidt in two chapters (appropriately entitled “Krieg der Amateure” [War of the Amateurs] and “Gefährliche Träume” [Dangerous Dreams]), of his Berlin Kabul Moskau (2002) identifies three main causes of the failure of the project: insufficient preparation, inadequate resources, and poor organization.

Anyone looking through the series of documents entitled “Measures and incitements against our enemies” [“Unternehmungen und Aufwiegelungen gegen unsere Feinde”] in the archives of the Auswärtiges Amt and expecting to find a cool, calculated, meticulously planned “Grab for World Power” [“Griff nach der Weltmacht47] will be disappointed. There is no doubt that Max von Oppenheim was thinking boldly in terms of Germany’s bid for world power and that he conceived and proposed to the Imperial government a comprehensive and complete plan for the Orient, based on the inciting of revolution. But his plan lacked both careful preparation and sound material groundwork. The personnel and material needed for its realization were not there. […] It was inevitable that Max von Oppenheim’s dream of a “Holy War” would be followed by a painful awakening. […] The German Orientalist Ernst Jäckh who had been in Constantinople from December 12th to 22nd sounding out the chances of provoking a revolutionary upheaval of the East drew up a sobering report on January 3, after his return. In his Bericht über die Organisation in Konstantinopel zur Revolutionierung feindlicher Gebiete [“Report on the Organization in Constantinople for Fomenting Revolutions in Enemy Territories”] Jäckh painted a grim picture: “The general impression can be summed up thus: all our undertakings have been set up belatedly and in an improvised manner, for no preparations had been made in peacetime.” Jäckh’s report and the documents in the Auswärtiges Amt give evidence of a shattering discrepancy between political will and operational capacity, between ambitious goals and unavailable means. Improvisation and wishful thinking took the place of careful planning and prudent information-gathering.48

A more emotional, but no less negative assessment of the “Holy War” strategy and of Oppenheim’s part in it was given by the Constantinople correspondent of the Kölnische Zeitung, Harry Stuermer. Stuermer, who appears to have shared Lepsius’s outrage at the Armenian deportations and massacres and at Germany’s complicity, because of her alliance with the Ottomans, in what he characterized as crimes against humanity, expressed strong misgivings in reports to his newspaper and to the Auswärtiges Amt, but gave free rein to his indignation only after he left Germany in 1917. His Zwei Kriegsjahre in Konstantinopel: Skizzen deutsch-jungtürkischer Moral und Politik appeared in that same year in neutral Switzerland, where he had settled, as well as in English translation, despite efforts by the Germans to prevent its publication. Stuermer had nothing good to say of the government of the Young Turks. It was, he claimed, xenophobic, chauvinist, racist, and hypocritical:

Pan-Turkism, which seems to be the governing passion of all the leading men of the day, finds expression in two directions. Outwardly it is a constant striving for a “Greater Turkey,” a movement that for a large part in its essence, and certainly in its territorial aims, runs parallel with the “Holy War”; inwardly it is a fanatical desire for a general Turkification which finds outlet in political nationalistic measures, some of criminal barbarity, others partaking of the nature of modern reforms, beginning with the language regulations and “internal colonisation” and ending in the Armenian persecutions. […] In little-informed circles in Europe people are still under the false impression that the Young Turks of to-day, the intellectual and political leaders of Turkey in this war, are authentic, zealous, and even fanatical Mohammedans, and superficial observers explain all unpleasant occurrences and outbreaks of Young Turkish jingoism on Pan-Islamic grounds, especially as Turkey has not been slow in proclaiming her “Holy War.” But this conception is entirely wrong. The artificial character of the “Djihad,” which was only set in motion against a portion of the “unbelievers,” while the others became more and more the ruling body in Turkey, is the best proof of the untenability of this theory. The truth is that the present political regime is the complete denial of the Pan-Islamic idea and the substitution of the Pan-Turkish idea of race.49

The reality, according to Stuermer, is that the Young Turks are themselves exploiting Pan-Islamist sympathies and Muslim religious feeling as cynically, for their own political ends, as the Germans are.

The strategy, however, has not worked:

It is a very painful task for a German […] to deal with the many intrigues and machinations of our Government in [its] relation to the so-called “Holy War” (Arab. Djihad), where in [its] quest of a vain illusion [it] stooped to the very lowest means. Practically all [its] hopes in that direction have been sadly shattered. [Its] costly, unscrupulous, thoroughly unmoral efforts against European civilization in Mohammedan countries have resulted in the terrific counter-stroke of the defection of the Arabs and the foundation of a purely Arabian Caliphate under English protection. […] The so-called “Holy War,” if it had succeeded, would have been one of the greatest crimes against human civilization that even Germany has on her conscience. […] But the attempt against colonial civilization did not succeed. The “Djihad,” proclaimed as it was by the Turanian pseudo-Caliph and violently anti-Entente, was doomed to failure from the very start from its obvious artificiality. It was a miserable farce, or rather a tragicomedy, the present ending of which, namely the defection of the Arabian Caliphate, is the direct contrary of what had been aimed at with such fanatical urgency and the use of such immoral propaganda. […] The attempt to “unloose” the Holy War was due primarily to the most absurd illusions. It would seem that in Germany, the land of science, the home of so many eminent doctors of research, even the scholars have been attacked by the disease of being dazzled by wild political illusions, or surely, knowing the countries of Islam as they must, they would long ago have raised their voices against such arrant folly.50

Stuermer then zooms in on the shady characters employed by Oppenheim’s Nachrichtenstelle to spread propaganda in support of the jihad. Many of the individuals who, claiming to be devout Muslims, offered their services and received funding from the Nachrichtenstelle, were simply crooks who milked the German government—and Oppenheim himself, since he was helping to finance the program with his own money—for all they were worth:

Numerous examples […] might be cited […] of the German Embassy being made the dupe of greedy adventurers who treated them as an inexhaustible source of gold. First one would appear on the scene who announced himself as the one man to cope with Afghanistan, then another would come along on his way to Persia and play the great man “on a special mission” for a time in Pera while money belonging to the German Empire would find its way into all sorts of low haunts […] Even a bona fide connoisseur of the East like Baron von Oppenheim, who had already made tours of considerable value for research purposes right across the Arabian Peninsula, and so should have known better than to share these false illusions, doled out thousands of marks from his own pocket—and millions from the Treasury!—to stir up the tribes to take part in the Djihad.51

In the end, Oppenheim himself, looking back on the jihad plan and his propaganda efforts, admitted that they had been a washout, “ein Schlag ins Wasser”52


1   On the hesitations, orders, counter-orders, and secret counter-counter-orders culminating in the shelling of the Russian ports, see the detailed study of Carl Mühlmann, Deutschland und die Türkei 1913–1914 (Berlin-Grünewald: Dr. Walther Rothschild, 1929), pp. 71–74 (Politische Wissenschaft, Heft 7).

2   Memoirs of Halide Edib (New York and London: The Century Co., n.d., c. 1926), p. 381.

3   A. J. Toynbee, Turkey: A Past and a Future (London: Hodder and Stoughton; New York: George H. Doran Company, 1917), p. 21. Toynbee may have been citing Harry Stuermer, the Constantinople correspondent of the Kölnische Zeitung from Spring 1915 to Christmas 1916, who left Germany for Switzerland in 1917, and who likewise claimed that Turkish opinion was opposed to war (Two War Years in Constantinople: Sketches of German and Young Turkish Ethics and Politics, trans. E. Allen and the author [New York: George H. Doran Company, 1917], pp. 209–11). On anti-war sentiment in Turkey see, in addition, Rafael de Nogales, Four Years Beneath the Crescent (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1926), p. 13.

4   Djemal Pasha, Memories of a Turkish Statesman 1913–1919 (New York: George H. Doran, 1922), pp. 130–33; Mühlmann, Deutschland und die Türkei 1913–1914, pp. 39–43, 51–56, 71–77; Sina Akșin, Turkey: from Empire to Revolutionary Republic, trans. Dexter Mursaloğlu (London: Hurst & Company, 2007), pp. 95–96.

5   In a letter to Ernst Jäckh, dated Therapia (the elegant waterside district to the north of Constantinople where many embassies were located) 13 October 1914, the writer (possibly a naval officer, named Janson) complained that “we found things here very different from the way we imagined them to be in Berlin. To pick out the thing that most affects the military man: we were sent out here on the explicit understanding that we would be used in a military offensive. For the moment, there is no question of that and there is still constant discussion as to whether and when Turkey will take an active part in the war.” (Ernst Jäckh Papers, Yale. MS group 467, Princeton University Library, Microfilm 11747, box 1)

6   Denkschrift in Archivum Ottomanicum, 19 (2001): 120–63 (see Introduction, note 7 above), p. 2. (All page numbers of the Denkschrift refer to the original pagination.) Oppenheim’s prediction that Britain on its own, without the Empire, would be unable to sustain its place in the world has turned out to be entirely accurate.

7   Ibidem, p. 8.

8   Oppenheim had been pressing from the beginning for systematic conduct of a propaganda war in the Islamic lands. (Memo from Oppenheim to Bethmann Hollweg 18 August 1914; see Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, “Djihad ‘Made in Germany’: der Streit um den Heiligen Krieg 1914–1915,” Sozial. Geschichte, 18 [2003]: 7–34 [p. 11]).

9   Thus Morocco, for example, though ripe for revolt, is too divided tribally to be of more than secondary significance as far as the war itself is concerned. Moreover, the Moroccans consider their own Sultan to be the legitimate Caliph and do not recognize the Turkish Sultan as the supreme religious authority (Denkschrift, pp. 95–96).

10  Denkschrift, pp. 59–78.

11  Subsequently the Turks, fearful that German plans for the region would lead to its exploding in revolution, pursued a policy intended to “restrict the revolutionary activities of the Germans.” Instead of bringing the Persians into the German-Turkish alliance, as the Germans wished, “so as to provide the necessary backing for the progress of German operations with regard to Afghanistan and against India,” the Turks envisaged a far more conservative Holy Alliance of the three Islamic nations—Turkey, Persia, and Afghanistan—by which Persian neutrality would be reaffirmed and guaranteed. Ambassador von Wangenheim, who was sceptical of the grandiose projects developed by Oppenheim and some others at the Auswärtiges Amt, urged the Kaiser to support this move and to underwrite the neutrality of Persia, but his advice was rejected (see Jon Kimche, The Second Arab Awakening [London: Thames and Hudson, 1970], pp. 34–35).

12  Denkschrift, p. 7. Oppenheim conceded that the Moroccans claimed that their own Sultan was the true Caliph but noted that even they acknowledged the Turkish Sultan as head of the most powerful Islamic state.

13  Denkschrift, p. 7. In August 1914, the importance of the Sultan-Caliph’s proclaiming jihad to all Muslims in Asia, India, Egypt, and Africa had already been emphasized by Kaiser Wilhelm II himself when in August 1914 he pressed Enver Pasha, the Turkish War minister, to bring Turkey into the war (see Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, “Djihad ‘Made in Germany’,” Sozial.Geschichte, 18 [2003], p. 11).

14  The texts of the fatwas and of the proclamation that followed, translated into English, can be found in Geoffrey Lewis, “The Ottoman Proclamation of Jihād in 1914,” Islamic Quarterly, 19 (1975): 157–63. Lewis gives the date on which the fatwas were signed as 11 November; the date of their promulgation as 14 November, and the date of their publication in the newspaper Iqdām as 15 November. Gottfried Hagen (Die Türkei im Ersten Weltkrieg, pp. 3–4) gives the date of signing as 7 November.

15  C. Snouck Hurgronje, The Holy War “Made in Germany”, p. 50.

16  Ulrich Trumpener, Germany and the Ottoman Empire 1914–1918 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968), pp. 117–18; Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, “Djihad ‘Made in Germany’,” Sozial. Geschichte, 18 (2003), pp. 11–12.

17  Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1919), pp. 161–66.

18  Donald McKale, War by Revolution: Germany and Great Britain in the Middle East at the end of World War I, pp. 50–51.

19  See Hans-Ulrich Seidt, Berlin Kabul Moskau. Oskar Ritter von Niedermayer und Deutschlands Geopolitik; Donald McKale, War by Revolution: Germany and Great Britain in the Middle East at the end of World War I, pp. 79–85.

20  On the Nachrichtenstelle für den Orient and the related Nachrichtensäle or reading rooms, see Gottfried Hagen, “German Heralds of Holy War: Orientalists and Applied Oriental Studies,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 24 (2004): 145–62; idem, Die Türkei im Ersten Weltkrieg: Flugblätter und Flugschriften in arabischer, persischer und osmanisch-türkischer Sprache (Frankfurt a. M., Bern, New York and Paris: Peter Lang, 1990; Heidelberger Orientalistische Studien, no. 15); Herbert Landolin Müller, Islam, ğihād (“Heileger Krieg”) und Deutsches Reich, pp. 203–07; Gabriele Teichmann, “Fremder wider Willen—Max von Oppenheim in der wilhelminischen Epoche” in Geschichte zwischen Wissenschaft und Politik. Festschrift für Michael Stürmer zum 65. Geburtstag, p. 239.

21  See Tilman Lüdke, Jihad Made in Germany, pp. 117–22. Schabinger von Schowingen, who became director in March 1915 after Oppenheim had been posted to Constantinople, complained that “the Odol-Toothpaste and Mouthwash Company invests more in its advertising than Imperial Germany for its war propaganda” (cit. p. 118, note 11). Under Schabinger, who considered an annual budget of 2,000,000 marks barely adequate, the monthly allowance of the Nachrichtenstelle was 5,000 marks (Müller, Islam, ğihād und Deutsches Reich, p. 207). Schabinger’s successor in 1916, the Jewish scholar of Semitic studies Eugen Mittwoch—who was later removed by the National Socialists from his chair at the University of Berlin—put in a request to the Imperial treasury for 100,000 marks (under $2,000,000 in 2012 currency) for the year 1917–1918.

22  On this paper, see Peter Heine, “Al-Ğihād: eine deutsche Propagandazeitung im 1. Weltkrieg,” Die Welt des Islams, new series, 20 (1980): 197–99. It was published in other languages besides Arabic: Russian, Turkish, Hindi-Urdu.

23  1,012 publications in nine European and fifteen Asian languages over the four years of the war, amounting to a total of 3 million copies, according to Teichmann, “Fremder wider Willen” (as in ch. 2, note 12 above).

24  E.g. the Oriental scholar Bernhard Moritz and the diplomat Friedrich Rosen; see Friedrich Rosen, Aus einem diplomatischen Wanderleben (Berlin: Transmare Verlag, 1931), vol. 2, pp. 197, 318–19.

25  See Gottfried Hagen, “German Heralds of Holy War: Orientalists and Applied Oriental Studies,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 24 (2004): 145–62 (p. 153). For samples, see Gottfried Hagen, Die Türkei im Ersten Weltkrieg: Flugblätter und Flugschriften in arabischer, persischer und osmanisch-türkischer Sprache (as in ch. 2, note 12 above).

26  According to a memorandum printed by the Reichsdruckerei, dated “Berlin 1916,” and entitled Die Nachrichtenstelle der Kaiserlich Deutschen Botschaft in Konstantinopel und die deutsche wirtschaftliche Propaganda in der Türkei, von Max Freiherrn von Oppenheim, Kaiserlichen Minister-Residenten [The Intelligence Bureau of the Imperial German Embassy in Constantinople and German economic propaganda in Turkey, by Baron Max von Oppenheim, Imperial Minister Resident], p. 13. The memo was probably printed for distribution to a large number of embassies and Auswärtiges Amt personnel. On one of the rare copies of this text, in the University Library in Cologne, the indication “Streng vertraulich” [“Strictly Confidential”] has been crossed out.

27  Gottfried Hagen, “German Heralds of Holy War,” p. 13. Wilhelm Treue, “Max Freiherr von Oppenheim: Der Archäologe und die Politik,” Historische Zeitschrift, 209 (1999): 37–74 (pp. 70–71). As Treue notes, “Oppenheim omits to explain how 20,000 or even 10,000 people could be accommodated in a 12-hour period in a room filled with reading material.” On Oppenheim’s production of propaganda films, see Gotttfried Hagen, Die Türkei im ersten Weltkrieg, p. 41 and Gabriele Teichmann, “Fremder wider Willen—Max von Oppenheim in der wilhelminischen Epoche,” p. 243.

28  “It is of the greatest importance […] to start insurrections in India and Egypt, also in the Caucasus. By means of the treaty with Turkey, the Foreign Office will be in a position to bring this idea to realization and to excite the fanaticism of Islam” (Von Moltke to the German Foreign Office, Berlin, 5 August 1914, in Max Montgelas and Walther Schücking, eds. Outbreak of the World War: German Documents collected by Karl Kautsky, trans. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace [New York: Oxford University Press, 1924], document 876, pp. 598–99). On the strong support in German military circles for the jihad idea, see also Tilman Lüdke, Jihad Made in Germany, pp. 72–74. In his 5 August memo to the Foreign Office Moltke has a suggestion that anticipates in its impercipience Zimmerman’s notorious telegram of 1917 (see note 29 below). He urges that public opinion in America, which “is friendly to Germany,” be mobilized with the help of German-Americans; “perhaps the United States can be persuaded to undertake a naval war against England, in return for which Canada beckons to them as the prize of victory.”

29  In 1916, Zimmermann became Foreign Secretary and in that capacity was responsible for a coded telegram to the German Ambassador in Mexico, proposing that the Mexicans be promised German support for an attack on the U.S. to regain their lost territories. Unfortunately for Zimmermann, the British got hold of the telegram, succeeded in decoding it and communicated it to President Wilson. Intended no doubt to distract the Americans and keep them out of the European war, the Zimmermann telegram thus in fact helped to bring them into it.

30  Peter Hopkins, On Secret Service East of Constantinople: The Plot to Bring Down the British Empire (London: John Murray, 1994), pp. 54–55; Vahakn N. Dadrian, German Responsibility in the Armenian Genocide, p. 51; see also Mustafa Aksakal, The Ottoman Road to War in 1914, pp. 16–17.

31  U.S. National Archives II, College Park, Md. Record Group 165, Box 3053, reports on diplomatic and consular representatives accredited to foreign countries, report by the U.S. Naval Attaché, Istanbul, 14 January 1942, quoted by Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, Gold, Bankiers und Diplomate: Zur Geschichte der Deutschen Orientbank 1906–1946 (Berlin: Trafo Verlag Wolfgang Weist, 2002), p. 321.

32  “In the early days Wangenheim had explained to me one of Germany’s main purposes in forcing Turkey into the conflict. He made this explanation quietly and nonchalantly, as though it had been quite the most ordinary matter in the world. Sitting in his office, puffing away at his big black German cigar, he unfolded Germany’s scheme to arouse the whole fanatical Moslem world against the Christians. Germany had planned a real ‘holy war’ as one means of destroying English and French influence in the world. ‘Turkey herself is not the really important matter,’ said Wangenheim. Her army is a small one, and we do not expect it to do very much. […] But the big thing is the Moslem world. If we can stir the Mohammedans up against the English and the Russians, we can force them to make peace’.” (Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, pp. 160–61). See also Peter Hopkins, On Secret Service East of Constantinople, p. 55.

33  Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff, born in London, the son of a Prussian ambassador to Great Britain, was appointed German ambassador to the United States in 1908 and held the post until the outbreak of war between Germany and the U.S. in 1917. After WWI he was a founding member of the German Democratic Party, a strong supporter of the movement to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, and a President of the German Association for the League of Nations. Explicitly denounced by Hitler as one of those who bore responsibility for the collapse of Germany, he emigrated to Switzerland in 1933 and died in Geneva in 1939; see Gerhard L. Weinberg, Germany, Hitler and World War II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 38. On his “sharp disagreement” with Oppenheim’s estimate of the Panislamic movement and of Egypt’s likely response in the event of war, see Donald McKale, Curt Prüfer: German Diplomat from the Kaiser to Hitler, p. 17. In his memoirs, Bernstorff refers to his consistent “desire that Germany should live in amity with England” and to his policy as Consul-General in Cairo as “an attempt to allay the English suspicion of Germany.” He even expresses high regard for Lord Cromer, the British Consul-General in Egypt and the bête noire of Islamists, Egyptian Nationalists, and Oppenheim, and sympathizes with Cromer’s bitterness, at the end of his tenure there, at Egyptian ingratitude for the benefits and reforms he had brought to the country and at their siding against him with the Turks “who had brought nothing but disaster” (Memoirs of Count Bernstorff, trans. Eric Sutton [New York: Random House, 1936], pp. 17, 94).

34  Friedrich Rosen, Aus einem diplomatischen Wanderleben, vol. 2, pp. 176–80, 197–98.

35  Peter Hopkins, On Secret Service East of Constantinople, p. 132.

36  Oppenheim was apparently highly gratified that the network of Indian science students in Germany and Switzerland that he had secretly organized included chemistry students who were ready to undertake suicide bombings: “Sie haben sich dem Tode geweiht und unter Eid verpflichtet, den Verräter zu töten” [“They are committed to die for their cause and have sworn on oath to kill any traitor”]. Cit. Seidt, Berlin Kabul Moskau, p. 47.

37  See Margaret Lavinia Anderson, “’Down in Turkey, far away’: Human Rights, the Armenian Massacres, and Orientalism in Wilhelmine Germany,” Journal of Modern History, 79 (2007): 80–111; on protests by some German officials, military men, and residents, see Dickran H. Boyajian, Armenia: The Case for a Forgotten Genocide (Westwood, N.J.: Educational Book Crafters, 1972), pp. 337–44; Jean-Marie Carzou, Un Génocide exemplaire: Arménie 1915 (Paris: Flammarion, 1975), pp. 168–94; Vahakn N. Dadrian, German Responsibility in the Armenian Genocide, 16, 73, 119, et passim.

38  On the series of Politische Flugschriften, edited by Ernst Jäckh, Oppenheim’s colleague at the Nachrictenstelle für den Orient, and on numerous pamphlets and articles by Carl Becker and Martin Hartmann, two of Germany’s leading Oriental scholars, see Snouck Hurgronje, The Holy War “Made in Germany,” pp. 51–52, 62–64.

39  Gustav Diercks, Hie Allah! Das Erwachen des Islam (Berlin: Karl Curtius, 1914), passages cited on pp. 12, 60–61.

40  Abdul Malik Hansa Bey, “Der Panislamismus: Seine Bedeutung und seine Grenzen,” Die islamische Welt: Illustrierte Monatschrift für Politik, Wirtschaft und Kultur, 1 (1916): 18–20.

41  That was the official German-Turkish line. In 1915, after consultation with ambassador Wangenheim the Sublime Porte issued an official denial of complicity in the massacres: “Far from having condoned or organized mass murders, the Porte declared, it has merely exercised its sovereign right of self-defense against a revolutionary movement, and the responsibility for everything that had happened in the Armenian districts had to be borne exclusively by the Entente Powers themselves, because they had organized and directed the revolutionary movements in the first place.” (Trumpener, Germany and the Ottoman Empire, p. 210; see also Taner Akçam, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and Turkish Responsibility [New York: Metropolitan Books and Henry Holt and Company, 2006], p. 214; Vahakn N. Dadrian, German Complicity in the Armenian Genocide, pp. 81–83; Suzanne L. Marchand, German Orientalism in the Age of Empire, pp. 454–57).

42  Lepsius claimed that the deportations and massacres were organized by the Committee of Union and Progress, did not have the support of the Turkish people as a whole and especially not that of truly religious Muslims, and were in no way motivated by national security concerns. In addition, the efforts of von Wangenheim and, more forcefully, of his successor Count Wolff-Metternich to get the Committee to call a halt to the mas sacres—which, quite apart from moral and humanitarian considerations, the ambassadors realised were damaging to Germany’s cause in the war—had been ignored. Lepsius ended his introduction to the documents by quoting from a report by Wolff-Metternich dated 10 July 1916, which does implicate Islam itself to some extent in the policy being pursued by the Committee of Union and Progress: “The Turkish government has not allowed itself to be dissuaded from carrying out its policy of eliminating the Armenian Question by exterminating the Armenian race either by our remonstrances or by those of the American Embassy and the Papal Nuntio or by the threats of the Entente powers, still less by fear of public opinion in Western countries. […] The forced Islamisation of the Armenians should not be seen as a measure inspired by religious fanaticism, not at least in the first instance. Such sentiments were probably quite foreign to the potentates of the Young Turk movement. It remains no less the case that every true Ottoman patriot must above all profess adherence to Islam. In the East, religion and nationality are one. The history of the Turkish Empire, from its beginnings to the present time is there to demonstrate it and every Ottoman is convinced of it in the depths of his heart. Official and semi-official statements claiming the contrary, along with the entire battery of quotations from the Koran and from Islamic tradition belong to the fine phrases that are served up to Europeans since the promulgation of the firmans instituting reforms to convince them of the tolerant spirit of Islam and of the Ottomans. In the same way, if government ministers deny the stories that keep circulating about instances of religious persecution, this is above all for the sake of good form; yet their protestations do contain a grain of truth in as much as the dominant motive is not religious fanaticism, but the determination to amalgamate the Armenians with the Muslim element of the Empire.” (Archives du génocide des Arméniens, recueillies et présentées par Johannes Lepsius [Paris: Fayard, 1986], pp. 39, 58. The German text was unavailable to me; this modern French edition presents a translation of a later [1919], expanded and altered version of the Bericht, in which, having been subjected to pressure to refrain from making public statements for the duration of the war and not to “offend the sensibilities of our Turkish ally,” Lepsius undertook the task of “sanitizing to a certain degree official German records, whereby Germany could be purged of any guilt or complicity regarding the fate of the Armenians” and Turkey alone made to appear responsible for it [Vahakn N. Dadrian, German Responsibility in the Armenian Genocide, p. 155]).

43  Carl Becker, the scholar at whom Snouck Hurgronje’s attack was primarily directed, himself admitted that he had chang1ed his tune only after the outbreak of war: “In times of peace, I was always strongly opposed to the so-called Islam policy in foreign affairs; it seemed to me that it was playing with fire,” he wrote on 31 August 1914 to Ernst Jäckh, one of Oppenheim’s close collaborators (cit. Ludmila Hanisch, Die Nachfolger der Exegeten: Deutschsprachige Erforschung des Vorderen Orients in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts [Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2003], p. 80).

44  Gottfried Galli, Dschihad. Der Heilige Krieg des Islams und seine Bedeutung im Weltkriege unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Interessen Deutschlands (Freiburg i.B.: C. Troemer’s Universitätsbuchhandlung, 1915); passages cited are in the Foreword and on pp. 5, 6, 8–9, 14, 16.

45  It is often noted that the objectives of this military campaign were not clearly established and that the resources mobilized for it were inadequate. It was disruptive, but did not achieve the goal some had set for it of destroying the lifeline of the British Empire. See Jehuda L. Wallach, Anatomie einer Militärhilfe. Die preussisch-deutschen Militärmissionen in der Türkei 1835–1919 (Düsseldorf: Droste, 1976), pp. 191–96.

46  On Hussein’s complicated and drawn out double game, see the account in Djemal Pasha’s Memories of a Turkish Statesman 1913–1919, pp. 209–37. The proclamation outlining Hussein’s reasons for raising the standard against Constantinople (weak government; anti-religious legislation; arbitrary rule by Enver, Djemal, and Talat; unjust punishment, including hang1ing, of “people of rank”) is given in English translation on pp. 226–27.

47  Seidt is citing the title of F. Fischer’s groundbreaking study of 1961 (see ch. 3, note 20 above).

48  Seidt, Berlin Kabul Moskau, pp. 56–57. On reasons for the failure of the jihad, see also Landau, Politics of Pan-Islam, pp. 100–03; Tilman Lüdke, Jihad Made in Germany, pp. 122–24, 131–32, 152–54, 189–90; and Marchand, German Orientalism in the Age of Empire, pp. 446–63. Marchand quotes Ernst Herzfeld, a future collaborator of Oppenheim’s in evaluating the latter’s finds at Tel Halaf, as having considered “the jihad a farce and the war itself a crime” (p. 462). In a letter to Carl Becker, dated January 1915, Herzfeld asked “why would the [Ottoman] Empire’s subjects fight for a hated, corrupt, and deceitful regime” (p. 454). Landau argues, however, that Oppenheim’s jihad project was not quite the complete failure that “Entente sources and later historians would have us believe” and that it did win the support of some notable Muslim leaders and scholars. A similarly nuanced view of the Suez operation is offered by Jehuda L. Wallach, Anatomie einer Militärhilfe. Die preussisch-deutschen Militärmissionen in der Türkei 1835–1919, pp. 191–96. Wallach quotes a high-ranking German officer’s view that the operation was successful in tying up significant British military units, but that for the grandiose goal some people had had in mind—the destruction of the British Empire by cutting off its lifeline to India and the East—not nearly enough resources had been committed.

49  Harry Stuermer, Zwei Kriegsjahre in Konstantinopel: Skizzen deutsch-jungtürkischer Moral und Politik (Lausanne: Payot, 1917). Quoted from the English translation: Two War Years in Constantinople: Sketches of German and Young Turkish Ethics and Politics (New York: George H. Doran, 1917), pp. 152–53, 176–77.

50  Ibid., pp. 126–29.

51  Ibid., pp. 134–35.

52  Tilman Lüdke, Jihad Made in Germany, p. 186, quoting Oppenheim’s manuscript autobiography in the Hausarchiv of the Oppenheim Bank.