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Armistice of Mudros

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

HMS Agamemnon on an earlier visit to Mudros during the Dardanelles campaign in 1915
HMS Agamemnon on an earlier visit to Mudros during the Dardanelles campaign in 1915

The Armistice of Mudros (Turkish: Mondros Mütarekesi), concluded on 30 October 1918, ended the hostilities, at noon the next day, in the Middle Eastern theatre between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies of World War I. It was signed by the Ottoman Minister of Marine Affairs Rauf Bey and the British Admiral Somerset Arthur Gough-Calthorpe, on board HMS Agamemnon in Moudros harbor on the Greek island of Lemnos.[1]

As part of several conditions to the armistice, the Ottomans surrendered their remaining garrisons outside Anatolia, as well as granted the Allies the right to occupy forts controlling the Straits of the Dardanelles and the Bosporus; and the right to occupy the same "in case of disorder" any Ottoman territory in the event of a threat to their security. The Ottoman army including the Ottoman air force was demobilized, and all ports, railways, and other strategic points were made available for use by the Allies. In the Caucasus, the Ottomans had to retreat to within the pre-war borders between the Ottoman and the Russian Empires.

The armistice was followed by the occupation of Constantinople (Istanbul) and the subsequent partitioning of the Ottoman Empire. The Treaty of Sèvres (10 August 1920), which was signed in the aftermath of World War I, was never ratified by the Ottoman Parliament in Istanbul (the Ottoman Parliament was disbanded by the Allies on 11 April 1920 due to the overwhelming opposition of the Turkish MPs to the provisions discussed in Sèvres). It was later superseded by the Treaty of Lausanne (24 July 1923) following the Turkish victory at the Turkish War of Independence (1919–1923) which was conducted by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara (established on 23 April 1920 by Mustafa Kemal Pasha and his followers, including his colleagues in the disbanded Ottoman military, and numerous former MPs of the closed Ottoman Parliament in Istanbul.)

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  • ✪ Austria-Hungary Disintegrates - The Ottoman Empire Leaves the War I THE GREAT WAR Week 223
  • ✪ The Armistice of Mudros
  • ✪ Ottoman Defeat - The Occupation Of Constantinople
  • ✪ 19th May 1919: The Turkish War of Independence begins
  • ✪ World War One - 1918


Six weeks ago, the Central Powers looked to be in okay shape, even though Germany was taking a pounding on the Western Front, but when things changed, they changed fast. Bulgaria has left the war and this week, another central power follows suit. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week the Allied military leaders tried to hash out armistice terms for the western front. Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm tries to quell growing civil unrest at home by freeing political prisoners, and in the field, one battle ends in the West, even as the Italians launch a major offensive on their front. Also, by the end of last week on the Palestine Front the Arab forces under Sharif Hussein had reached the outskirts of Aleppo. British General Edmund Allenby’s army was also pretty near. Mustafa Kemal was the city’s defender. On the 25th, the Arabs in the city rose in revolt, wanting to welcome their hopeful liberators as free men. Kemal urged his troops to fight street by street. The commander of his opposition was Nuri es-Said who, like Kemal was a graduate of the Constantinople Staff College, and will far in the future be Prime Minister of Iraq. Anyhow, eventually Kemal realized that there’s not much he could do to hold the city and ordered his Ottoman forces to pull out, knowing that any further advance would lead into Anatolia- the Turkish heartland. Five miles from town he turned at Haritan and his Turkish and German troops stopped Allenby’s advance, but on the 26th, the British occupy Aleppo. The Ottoman were being threatened all over. On the 28th, British troops reach Dedegatch with the intention of invading the Empire from Europe and attacking Constantinople. By the end of the week, two British and 2 French divisions (Stevenson) reach the Maritsa River, the border with Bulgaria. To the east on the Tigris River, on the 30th, an Ottoman army surrenders to the British. “It was apparent to London that the Turkish War would soon end and there was belatedly great interest in the seizure of Mosul, with its oil resources... General Marshall was “put on notice” to gain as much ground as possible in the event of an armistice with Turkey. [Turkish commander] Hakki Bey was... in no mood to either fight or attempt to break out. He, therefore, decided to surrender his force... The British cavalry brigade made for the now totally undefended city of Mosul and occupied it on November 1, 1918” (“Ordered to Die”) On October 26th, three Ottoman negotiators reach the island of Mudros in the Aegean to begin armistice talks with the Allies. General Charles Townshend is with them. He has been a captive since the British defeat at Kut and the Ottomans asked for his help with the armistice. Talks take place aboard the Battleship Agamemnon and on November 30th, an armistice is signed, and for the Ottoman Empire this war is now over. Hostilities officially end at noon on the 31st. Under the armistice terms, the Ottomans must open the Dardanelles and Bosporus to allied warships, allow military occupation of the forts there, demobilize their forces, release all POWs, and evacuate the Arab provinces- most of which were already under Allied control. The newspaper the Times would later point out that there were a couple of weaknesses; it did not drive home to people living in Anatolia how complete the Allied victory was, and it didn’t address the security of the Armenians. I would like to now point out that the British occupation of Mosul on the 1st is a violation of the armistice. But the Ottomans aren’t the only ones asking for an armistice this week, though they are the only ones getting one. Lemme backtrack. On the 27th, in the fighting on the Italian Front, British and Italian troops managed to cross the Piave River. Now that the weather had improved and the waters subsided, the Gordon Highlanders made the first breakthrough, wading from Papadopoli Island to the east bank under a creeping barrage. The crossing was so unexpected that it caused chaos and even terror in the defenders. Bridgeheads were established and by the 29th they had pierced the Austrian 2nd line and taken 11,000 prisoners. It was the 29th that the Austrian official history wrote was the crisis day. Until then they had mostly held at the Piave and Monte Grappa had held. In fact, at Monte Grappa, by the end of the month, the Italian 4th army had taken over 20,000 casualties in a real bloodbath. Thing is, the Allies were attacking an army as it disintegrated. Hungarian troops had been allowed to go home at the end of last week, those that remained often refused to go into the lines. This example spread to Czech and Slav units, and then the German and Austrian units refused to fight since they felt like they were just replacing the Hungarians who went home. Every day was thus easier for the Allies. From the 29th on it was a general Austrian retreat, and that day, 600 Italian, French, and British aircraft bomb and machine-gun the retreating columns of men with no cover or protection.. It was a massacre, much like the attack on Ottoman forces leaving the River Jordan last month. By the 30th the number of POWs taken was growing by the tens of thousands. Vittorio Veneto fell at the end of the month and the Austrians abandoned their now outflanked positions on Monte Grappa. (Gilbert) Emperor Karl telegraphed to the Kaiser in Germany, “My people are neither capable nor willing to continue the war. I have made the unalterable decision to ask for a separate peace and an immediate armistice.” Well, the Austrians ask for an armistice, but they don’t get it yet. The Italians are stalling for time to take as much territory as they can. But Karl’s people are mostly no longer his people. On the 29th, a Czech national council takes over in Prague. The Austrian troops in the castle lay down their arms. The next day, the Croatian parliament at Agram declares that Croatia and Dalmatia are now part of a national state of Slovenes , Croats, and Serbs. The German name Agram is changed to the Slav name Zagreb. In the Slovene city of Laibach a similar declaration is made and the name similarly changed to Ljubljana. Within hours, Sarajevo declares it too has joined. On the 30th, Karl asks Hungarian leader Michael Karolyi to form a new Hungarian government; the link between Austria and Hungary is formally severed. Also that day, Karl gives the Austrian fleet to the Southern Slavs and the Danube Flotilla to Hungary. That night his armistice delegation arrives in Italy. On the 31st while he’s away, there is revolution in Vienna, while in Budapest Former Hungarian PM Count Istvan Tisza is assassinated in his home. And in the port of Pola the 31st, the Southern Slavs took over the fleet and then watched with horror as an Italian torpedo boat, which either didn’t know or didn’t care that those ships were no longer imperial, sank the battleship Viribus Unitis at anchor, killing several hundred sailors. At the end of the week, Serbian soldiers take the heights above Belgrade and open fire on the Hungarian monitors patrolling the Danube. This war actively began four years ago with the Austrians shelling Serbian positions on these very heights. As for the Kaiser, the 30th he went to Spa while German politicians discussed his abdication in favor of his son, with Germany ruled by a Council of Regency. Most in the Reichstag favored this. Many of them felt that he should sacrifice himself so his dynasty could survive. When the Kaiser got wind of this, he was pissed off; he declined, with Army Chief of Staff Paul von Hindenburg’s support. Quartermaster General Wilhelm Groener had a different proposal - that the Kaiser should go to the front and look for death. Meaning he should head for an active war zone and find a trench or something and get himself killed fighting. Even if he were just badly wounded, this would really rally the people to him and his dynasty. Martin Gilbert writes, “Hindenburg thought this a bad idea. The Kaiser’s views are not recorded.” As for the German naval order I mentioned last week that fleet commander Franz von Hipper put together, for a huge all out final attack by the whole High Seas Fleet on the British Grand Fleet: It is approved by Naval Chief of Staff Reinhard Scheer the 27th and issued on the 29th. The fleet assembled that afternoon in preparation for setting off the next day. A raid on the Thames and the Flanders coast would take place at dawn the 31st while later that day they would take on the British Fleet. However, by the evening of the 29th, the men were in a state of sedition, many convinced that their commanders would sacrifice them to sabotage armistice negotiations. Many refused to return from shore leave, and there were mutinous demonstrations aboard several ships. In fact, aboard two battleships there was outright mutiny. The mutineers gave up when torpedo boats pointed their guns at the ships, but von Hipper cancelled the order and told the fleet to disperse as he felt he could no longer count on the navy’s loyalty. Ships of the 3rd Battle Squadron arrive in Kiel at the end of the week. An armistice that was in those sailors’ thoughts was on other minds too. American Commander John Pershing still worried about the Germans re-starting things in the spring. On the 30th, he says the advance should continue until the German army unconditionally surrenders. “An armistice would revivify the low spirits of the German army and enable it to reorganize and resist later on.” British and French PMs David Lloyd George and George Clemenceau did not agree; they were confident of setting crippling armistice terms on the Germans, even if they did not actually lay down their arms. Supreme Allied Commander Ferdinand Foch too, he said he did not make war for the sake of making war, and if he could get the conditions he wants with an armistice, then so be it. There were those who mistakenly thought peace was already here. On the 27th an American artillery battery under Captain Harry Truman, future President, was moving from one zone to another when his men got the French edition of the New York Times. Its bold headline proclaimed the armistice was on. Just then German shells exploded on both sides of the road. A Sergeant said to Truman, “Captain, those god damn Germans haven’t seen the paper.” And the week comes to an end with a beginning - a new American offensive on the River Meuse, which I’ll talk about next week. This week saw the Austrians retreat from the Allies in Italy, even as their army and empire collapsed into burgeoning nations. It also saw the Ottoman Empire leave the war. I would say “and then there were two”, but that’s not true. Austria can no longer fight, so there really only is one. Germany. Last man standing. Ludendorff said a month ago, “We cannot fight the whole world.” Well, he won’t have to, he’s gone from power, but the soldiers? How long can they? If you want to learn more about the Ottoman Empire in World War 1, our friend Can actually launched a YouTube channel about exactly that. You can click right here for their “Prelude to War” video. Our Patreon supporter of the week is LT Marshall Faulds. Thank you for your support on Patreon over the years which made this show possible and made it even better along the way. Don’t forget to subscribe, see you next time.



World War I took a chaotic turn in 1918 for the Ottoman Empire. With Yudenich's Russian Caucasus Army deserting after the collapse of the Russian Empire, the Ottomans regained ground in Armenia and even pushed into formerly Russian-controlled Caucasus with, at first, Vehip Pasha's Ottoman 3rd Army and, later beginning in June 1918, with Nuri Pasha's Army of Islam which excluded German officers and men. The Caucasus Campaign put the Ottomans at odds with their ally, Germany, which had been hoping to purchase Caucasus oil from the Bolshevik government in Moscow.[a] The Ottomans wanted to establish its eastern borders[b] The Ottoman armies advanced far into Caucasus, gathering supporters as far away as Tashkent, on the eastern side of the Caspian Sea. Additionally, with the Bolsheviks in power in Moscow, chaos spread in Persia, as the Russo-British favoring government of Ahmad Shah Qajar lost authority outside of the capital. In contrast, in Syria, the Ottomans were steadily pushed back by British forces, culminating in the fall of Damascus in October 1918. Hopes were initially high for the Ottomans that their losses in Syria might be compensated with successes in the Caucasus. Enver Pasha, one of the most influential members of the Ottoman government, maintained an optimistic stance, hid information that made the Ottoman position appear weak, and led most of the Ottoman elite to believe that the war was still winnable.[2]

Developments in Southeast Europe quashed the Ottoman government's hopes. The Macedonian Front, also known as the Salonika campaign, had been largely stable since 1916. In September 1918, the Allied forces (under the command of Louis Franchet d'Espèrey) mounted a sudden offensive which proved quite successful. The Bulgarian army was defeated, and Bulgaria was forced to sue for peace in the Armistice of Salonica. That undermined both the German and Ottoman cause simultaneously, as the Germans had no troops to spare to defend Austria-Hungary from the newly formed vulnerability in Southeastern Europe after the losses it had suffered in France, and the Ottomans suddenly faced having to defend Constantinople against an overland European siege without help from the Bulgarians.[2]

Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha visited Berlin, Germany, and Sofia, Bulgaria in September 1918. He came away with the understanding that the war was no longer winnable. With Germany likely seeking a separate peace, the Ottomans would be forced to do so as well. Talaat convinced the other members of the ruling party that they must resign, as the Allies would impose far harsher terms if they thought the people who started the war were still in power. He also sought out the United States to see if he could surrender to them and gain the benefits of the Fourteen Points despite the Ottoman Empire and the United States not being at war; however, the Americans never responded, as they were waiting on British advice as to how to respond that never came. On October 13, Talaat and the rest of his ministry resigned. Ahmed Izzet Pasha replaced Talaat as Grand Vizier. Two days after taking office, he sent the captured British General Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend to the Allies to seek terms on an armistice.[2]


The British cabinet received word of the offer and were eager to negotiate a deal. The standing terms of the alliance was that the first member that was approached for an armistice should conduct the negotiations; the British government interpreted that to mean that Britain conduct the negotiations alone. The motives for this are not entirely clear, whether it was the sincere British interpretation of the alliance terms, fears that the French would insist on over-harsh demands and foil a treaty, or a desire to cut the French out of territorial "spoils" promised to them in the Sykes–Picot Agreement. Townshend also indicated that the Ottomans preferred to deal with the British; he did not know about the American contact or that Talaat had sent an emissary to the French as well but that emissary had been slower to respond back. The British cabinet empowered Admiral Calthorpe to conduct the negotiations with an explicit exclusion of the French from them. They also suggested an armistice rather than a full peace treaty, in the belief that a peace treaty would require the approval of all of the Allied nations and be too slow.[2]

The negotiations began on Sunday, October 27 on HMS Agamemnon, a British battleship. The British refused to admit French Vice-Admiral Jean Amet, the senior French naval officer in the area, despite his desire to join; the Ottoman delegation, headed by Minister of Marine Affairs Rauf Bey, indicated that it was acceptable as they were accredited only to the British, not the French.[2]

Both sides did not know that the other was actually quite eager to sign a deal and willing to give up some of their objectives to do so. The British delegation had been given a list of 24 demands, but were told to concede on any of them if pressed, except occupation of the forts on the Dardanelles and free passage through the Bosphorus; the British desired access to the Black Sea for the Rumanian front. Prime Minister David Lloyd George also wanted to make a deal quickly before the United States could step in; according to the diary of Maurice Hankey:

[Lloyd George] was also very contemptuous of President Wilson and anxious to arrange the division of Turkey between France, Italy, and G.B. before speaking to America. He also thought it would attract less attention to our enormous gains during the war if we swallowed our share of Turkey now, and the German colonies later.[2]

The Ottoman authorities, for their part, believed the war to be lost and would have accepted almost any demands placed on them. As a result, the initial draft prepared by the British was accepted largely unchanged; the Ottoman side did not know it could have pushed back on most of the clauses, and the British did not know they could have demanded even more. Still, the terms were largely pro-British and close to an outright surrender; the Ottoman Empire ceded the rights to the Allies to occupy "in case of disorder" any Ottoman territory, a vague and broad clause.[2]

The French were displeased with the precedent; French Premier Georges Clemenceau disliked the British making unilateral decisions in so important a matter. Lloyd George countered that the French had concluded a similar armistice on short notice in the Armistice of Salonica, which had been negotiated by French General d'Esperey and that Great Britain (and Tsarist Russia) had committed the vast majority of troops to the campaign against the Ottoman Empire. The French agreed to accept the matter as closed. The Ottoman educated public, however, was given misleadingly positive impressions of the severity of the terms of the Armistice. They thought its terms were considerably more lenient than they actually were, a source of discontent later when it seemed that the Allies had violated the offered terms during the Turkish War of Independence.[2]


The Armistice of Mudros officially brought hostilities to an end between the Allies and the Ottoman Empire. However, incursions by the Italians and Greeks into Anatolia in the name of "restoring order" soon came close to an outright partition of the country. The Treaty of Sèvres in 1920 officially partitioned the Ottoman Empire into zones of influence; however, the Turkish War of Independence (1919–23) saw the rejection of the treaty by Turkish nationalist forces based in Ankara, who eventually took control of the Anatolian Peninsula. Ottoman territory in Syria, Palestine, and Arabia stayed as distributed by the Treaty of Sèvres while the borders of the Turkish nation-state were set by the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.


  1. ^ The Bolsheviks had support only in Petrograd and Moscow in 1917 and 1918. After allowing both Trotsky and Lenin to return to Russia by train from Switzerland and lead the October Revolution, Germany considered the Bolshevik government a puppet state under its power. After the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, most Russians disliked the terms of the Bolshevik signed treaty and believed that the Bolsheviks were a puppet under German interests, too.
  2. ^ Under the terms of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Trabzon peace conference convened but failed to define the borders between the Ottoman Empire and the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. This led to the recognition that a state of war exists between Tiflis and Constantinople in April 1918.


  1. ^ Karsh, Efraim, Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East, (Harvard University Press, 2001), 327.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Fromkin, David (2009). A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East. Macmillan. pp. 360–373. ISBN 978-0-8050-8809-0.


  • Laura M. Adkisson Great Britain and the Kemalist Movement for Turkish Independence, 1919–1923, Michigan 1958
  • Paul C. Helmreich From Paris to Sèvres. The Partition of the Ottoman Empire at the Peace Conference of 1919–1920, Ohio 1974, S. 3–5, der gesamte Vereinbarungstext befindet sich auf S. 341f.
  • Patrick Balfour Kinross Atatürk : a biography of Mustafa Kemal, father of modern Turkey, New York 1965
  • Sir Frederick B. Maurice The Armistices of 1918, London 1943

External links

  • "Mudros Agreement: Armistice with Turkey (October 30, 1918)" (full text (in English)), volume 6, German History in Documents and Images, German Historical Institute, Washington, DC (
This page was last edited on 13 March 2019, at 22:36
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