Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Cartographic Companion to World War One in the Ottoman Lands

Amidst a number of centenary celebrations for the First World War  I wanted to compile a list of the maps we've featured over the years that touch in one way or another on the experience and consequences of the war in Ottoman lands. These include maps that I hope can help illuminate the Ottoman Empire's motives in joining the war, as well as maps actually used in the conduct of the war itself. Equally interesting are the wealth of ethnographic and irredentist maps produced after the war to contest the political disposition of Ottoman lands. Finally, another set of maps deals with the commemoration of the war, maps made during the ensuing century to celebrate or mourn its consequences. As always, questions, comments, contributions and criticisms can be addressed to Nick Danforth or the individual contributors.

Lead-Up

Intikam. Courtesy of the Atatürk Kitaplığı, this map is titled simply Intikam or Revenge. Published by the Rumeliya Muhacirin-i Islamiyesi Cemiyeti or Society of Muslim Refugees from Rumeliya, the map shows, in black, the part of the Ottoman Empire lost during the Balkan Wars from which these refugees fled. The region's most important cities, where many of these refugees had lived, appear in the small white circles.






German Asia Minor. This map, and its companion, first appeared as a supplement to Adolf Guyer-Zeller 1897 work Der Türkenherrschaft ende, or "The End of Turkish Occupation." Guyer-Zeller was a Swiss rail-road magnate, who, as these maps reveal, seemed keenly interested in the potential of German Imperialism to create to rail routes. From the Ottoman perspective, of course, maps like this offer another insight into how the empire found itself disastrously involved in World War One. If Intikam highlights the Empire's desire to avenge its territorial losses, this map, by contrast, highlights the fear of much more serious losses. Ottoman statesmen were conscious of the fact that even their allies were eager to carve up  what was left of their territory. After decades of seeing maps like these, there was ample reason for Ottomans to suspect that if they sat out the war they would lose no matter who won. When the war broke out, the CUP leadership initially tried to delay their entry until the winner was clear, but ultimately decided, with some help from Enver Pasha, that neutrality was more dangerous than the risk of ending up firmly on the losing side. From a purely strategic perspective, betting on a German victory was hardly a foolish thing to do, and as anyone who plays backgammon knows, sometimes luck can make even a smart move end in disaster.


Mapping During the War

Though the Ottomans developed their own cartographic bureaucracy, they also relied heavily on maps made by others. In World War One, this meant that they often fought not only with maps provided by the Germans, but also maps made by the countries they were fighting against. In many cases, as can be seen, they amended these maps, drawing in new towns, re-labelling geographic features in Ottoman or providing elaborate keys to transliterate the names of these features.





1915 Ottoman Ethnographic map of the Middle East. The map, found by Zach Foster, comes from the Filastin Risalesi, an official 1915 publication of the Ottoman army intended to be used as an officer’s manual for the Palestine region. The key includes:

Maronite
Durzi (Druze)
Yahudi (Jews)
Arab
Suriyeli (from Syria)
Rum (Greek / Ottoman Greek)
Turk
Turkmen yahut Turk (Turkmen or Turks)
Ismaililer (Ismaili Shiites)
Mutawalli
Nusayri.




Another map, also from Zach Foster: "World War I saw the rapid spread of diseases in the Ottoman Empire.  Soldiers who were frequently on the move between battlefronts became ideal carriers for many types of microbes, while mass deportations like those of the Armenian genocide also contributed to outbreaks. The war drove up the price of soap and made it prohibitively expensive for many across the region, further hastening the spread of diseases. And, as famine and starvation began to spread across Syria, especially Lebanon, emaciated bodies became particularly vulnerable to diseases, especially Typhus, known by some as ‘hunger typhus’ for its tenacity to attack the malnourished. Fever, TB and Cholera also spread rapidly during the war. And so the Ottomans undertake a campaign to create disinfection stations across the region, as seen above in this map of Mount Lebanon produced in (roughly) 1915. The red crescents show canteens (matam mahalleri gösterir); the dark crescents represent disinfection stations (tebhir istansyonlar gösterir); the half-red half-dark crescents indicate canteens that include a disinfection center (matam mahallerinde tebhir istasyonun mevcudunu gösterir). The disinfection centers were established under a new law called The Regulation for Communicable Diseases ( Nizam-i Emraz-i Sariye), as Dr. Tanielian has shown, which required all cases of diseases to be reported within 24 hours to the local health authorities. Although it is unclear what kind of disinfection took place at the centers – probably a combination of treatment and quarantine – this was a clear attempt to expand the role of the state in monitoring and controlling the spread of diseases."




Ethnic maps that were made for propaganda purposes during the war also helped set the stage for the intense debate over remaking the region at the war's end. This US made map showing "Subject Nationalities of the German Alliance (larger version here) offers a nice contrast with it's German counterpart here. The American map shows the subjects of the Axis powers, for whom Woodrow Wilson sought self determination. The second shows the overseas colonies of the Entente powers. To make a long story short, the Entente won, so their enemies' subjects in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East were granted independence (well, with the exception of the ones in the Middle East). The subjects of the entente would have to wait until after World War Two.






Post-War Planning

This images come from a remarkable collection of maps made using 1917 census data purporting to show the ethnic composition of the territory that the Ottoman Empire still hoped to hold on to after World War One. It is written in French, suggesting that it was intended for an international audience, suitable to serve as a visual aid at a European peace conference. (If anyone knows more about M. Salih, who made this particular set of maps, I'd be curious to know. They appeared in the IRCICA library, which has an amazing maps but little information about the source of their collection). Woodrow Wilson's emphasis on national self-determination gave many people - members of ethnic minorities but also in many cases leaders of non-Western states like Turkey - hope that any post-war settlement would recognize their political and territorial aspirations. These hopes were based both on an optimistic assessment of the role Wilson's Fourteen Points would play in peace negotiations as well as generally optimistic demographic readings of the region inhabited by members of a particular nation. In this context, the production of maps like these were part of the rhetorical arsenal of every state and minority group aspiring to statehood in the immediate post-war era.






The King-Crane Commission: An interactive map with some highlights from the King-Crane Commission Report prepared to accompany an article but possibly useful for students as well.








The New Assyria Sent in by Benjamin Trigona-Harany, who says: I've always liked this map because it signals that the adoption of a shared ethnic Assyrian identity by the Chaldeans, Nestorians and Süryani was in full swing - not to mention showing their charmingly optimistic borders for a future Assyrian state." It makes a nice addition to some of the better known plans from the post war era, including Megali Greece, Greater Albania, and Palestine














The Syrian Kingdom One of images from a pamphlet titled Dhikrá istiqlāl Sūriyā also sent along to us by Zach Foster. The first shows Faisal, best known as king of Iraq, and the second shows the territory he claimed in 1920 as part of his short-lived Arab Kingdom based in Damascus. Faysal ruled Damascus beginning in October 1918 and ending in July 1920, though he only declared himself King four months before the end. The French army refused to allow the creation of Faisal's Syrian kingdom, defeating a small contingent of Faisal's forces at the battle of Mysalun. Faisal was given Iraq as a consolation prize by the British, which his successors ruled until 1958 when they were ousted by a coup. Had Faisal's dream of a free Arab kingdom become reality, the Middle East might have been spared many of the conflicts it endured over the past century. Or maybe it still would have seen conflicts between the Arab Kingdom and its Christian minority, Kurdish minority and Zionist minority. Or between the Arab Kingdom and the Republic of Turkey. Or Iraq. Or Egypt. As Zach points out, even during his glorious short lived period of rule he struggled to convince others outside of damascus to subject themselves to his rule. James Gelvin's Divided Loyalties (p. 30) even reports that delegation of Aleppan notables used the occasion of Faisal's coronation to demand independence for their region. Suffice it to say this did not bode well for his future prospects of ruling all of Syria, let alone Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine.




French Ethnographic Map of the Levant. From Chris Gratien: a French map from roughly 1935 reflecting the colonial view of a religiously and ethnically diverse region united under the mandates of Lebanon and Syria. It gives the sense of a highly fragmented and segregated society, reflecting in no doubt policies of French rule that fostered divisions between the region's different communities. The glaring omission from the numerous markers of identity displayed on this map is the category of Arab, a long-standing entholinguistic category that would have encompassed a majority of people represented by this map. Indeed, the growing political purchase of Arab nationalism during this period made the French so uncomfortable with it as a category in the first place. (Source: CADN 1SL/1/V 2129)









The Iraqi Syrian Border. With the rise of ISIS, we've heard a lot about the artificiality of Middle Eastern borders, and there's obviously been a particular focus on the non-overrun border between Syria and Iraq. This map offers a nice reminder that the British and French themselves apparently cared so little about the stretch of desert this border went through that they actually left its delimitation up to a League of Nations committee in the 30s sometime.














Cartographic Commemoration

This is a detail from a map of Istanbul and the straits printed on a silk handkerchief and given to allied soldiers as a rather premature commemoration of their victorious Gallipoli campaign. On the bottom left of the map are the words "To Constantinople" at the mouth of the Dardenelles, while the silouhette of the city stands as the ultimate objective in the top right. On the corners are sheilds with the Australian and New Zealand flags and the words "well done" along with a the one to the left titled "Eclipse of the Star and Crescent." There's no evidence the British actually had a flag like this in mind for conquered Ottoman territory, although it certainly does a good job of getting their general intentions across. The original handkerchief is on display at the Iskenderun Deniz Muzesi, which is definitely worth a visit if you're in Iskenderun.


After the war, of course, the Republic of Turkey celebrated Gallipoli in a more traditional fashion, including images like this. Combining aspects of a map and a panorama view of the battle itself, this piece might be of more interest for its aesthetic qualities (as well as the transliterations of some of the British boat names) than as a historical document.







What the Greeks Destroyed.  Courtesy of Chris Gratien: "These maps appeared in the files of the education ministry, meaning that they were intended for a certain didactic function. The above map, which is available in numerous copies both English and Ottoman in different boxes from the national struggle period attempts to show village by village areas destroyed or partially destroyed by the Greek army underlined in red and blue respectively. I compared the numerous copies of the map that I found and all are consistent in their representation of which villages had been destroyed and to what extent. That it survives in so many copies and that it was published in both English and Ottoman Turkish emphasizes how the nationalist narrative was being deployed through maps and education in the very moment that these events were unfolding."


Map of the Armenian town of Hadjin. Again from Chris Gratien: "Members of the Armenian diaspora communities conscious of the fact that their natal villages might someday be wiped from the historical memory sought to compile information about the history and social life of towns such as Hadjin in exhaustive histories usually composed in Armenian. One such work about Hadjin was published at a fairly early date in 1942, just two decades after the French withdrawal, meaning that many who had experienced the town as adults were able to contribute. Only a few copies of The Complete History of Hadjin were published, most of which were in the possession of contributors, donors, and families from the Hadjintsi community. Some eventually made their way into university libraries. These hand-drawn maps (composed in Los Angeles during the 1940s) are scanned from one such copy.




The Turkish government's efforts to destroy the memory of Anatolia's Armenian population are both furthered and undermined by the widespread fascination with treasure hunting in rural Turkey. As discussed here, many people in southeastern Turkey are convinced that treasure lies buried in the foundations of ruined Armenian churches and monasteries. In searching for it, they inevitably destroy these monuments further, but also re-enforce the presence of the land's former inhabitants in popular memory.



Not a map, but a fantastic obituary of Lawrence of Arabia that appeared in the satirical paper Akbaba at the time of his death. Some highlights:

Istanbul is famous for its beauty, Ankara its will; Paris its liveliness, Viena its operas, Switzerland its Sanatoriums and England is famous for Lawrence.

In the deserts during the Great War the Turkish army's most feared microbe was him. 

In Lawrence's death the world's gain is as great as England's loss. Now it is more possible for nations to love each other and work together for peace.

Lawrence's death. As with any great joy it isn't easy to believe the good news.

If Lawrence is really dead... in that case people face a new fear: the fear of the hereafter.





An early cold war propaganda map showing Turkey as part of the Northern Tier, surrounded by a menacing sea of red. I think this map offers a partial rebuke to our tendency to see the experience of World War One and the "Sevres Syndrome" as the source of all Turkey's modern day militarism and nationalist paranoia. Yes, Turkey emerged from World War One, not just the War for Independence but the CUP period as well, with a political culture marked by these phenomenon. But so did most of the world. In fact, compared to some of the European countries that embraced fascism, Turkey was less militarized and less intensely xenophobic in the Republican period. And to suggest that these impulses were waiting to erupt just below the surface, kept in check only by Ataturk's personal charisma, really does seem to ignore the contingency of history.  I would argue that the experience of the Cold War, culminating in the 1980 coup, did more to enshrine these impulses in modern turkish political culture than did the social and political climate of Turkey's founding. In connecting the dots directly from 1919 to the present, it's easy to forget that Turkey spent almost a half century regionally isolated by Cold War geopolitics. There was the Soviet Union was to the North and East, Warsaw Pact Bulgaria to the West and the Soviet-aligned states of Iraq and Syria to the South. Too often now discussions of the Sevres Syndrome imply it's merely an outdated bit of paranoia that was kept alive for a hundred years by the cynically authoritarian Kemalist state. But other things happened during this time, and their impact shouldn't be overlooked.


This is not, of course, to deny that the war's negative legacy in these regards. An example can be found in this map, showing the area off limits to non-Muslims and foreigners in the early years of the Republic. It is a telling illustration of the tension that existed between the government's insistence that all Turkish citizens were Turks regardless of their religion or race and an alternative conception of national identity in which the only real Turks were Turkish-speaking Sunni Muslims. The accompanying document, also from the Cumhuriyet Arsivi, lists exceptions to this prohibition, including travelers on ferries going into or out of the city, passengers on organized tours and workers on commercial craft who did not disembark.









To end on a more somber non-cartographic note: Between 1916 And 1926, Istanbul’s Muslim residents – male and female, rich and poor -- began killing themselves at a quickly rising rate. Following a decade of fighting – the Balkan Wars, World War One, and the ensuing Greek-Turkish conflict – statistics published at the time show a jump in the number of documented suicides in all of the city's districts. It is a tragedy whose specific Turkish dimension has not been adequately discussed in the growing body of excellent work on the Ottoman experience of the Great War.












Finally, anyone interested in reading more deeply on the topics raised by these maps should check out the Ottoman History Podcast's World War One reading list, prepared by Heather Hughes:

Racial Maps

People in the past were really racist. Just how racist is one of those facts of history capable of surprising us over and over again no matter how well we think we know it. But in addition to being surprisingly offensive, many earlier ideas about race were also surprisingly bizarre. Whether you want to be encouraged by how far we've come or discouraged by how far we have to go, it is worth pausing for a minute to also reflect on just how strange and malleable a lot of our outdated ideas about race were. That is, part of what made racial thinking so pervasive and so effective was its adaptibility. As in any good pseudo-science (my own interest is modernization theory), racial hierarchies could be adjusted and re-arranged to accommodate any political goal or ideology. As long as the right people ended up on top and the right people ended up on the bottom, infinite variations were possible.


I'm not sure where this top map comes from, but the categories it depicts were pretty standard for its era. Like a great many other examples, it comes complete with a full complement of Europeans, Asians, Africans and Indians. The Arabs and most South Asians are European while the Turks, Hungarians and Finns are Asian. It shows the spread of European settlers, along the Amazon, the Trans-Siberian railroad and across the American west, as well as up from South Africa. What stands out is the somewhat anomalous category of "Dravidian and Oceanic," covering part of Madagascar, Southern India, Indonesia and the parts of Australia still predominantly settled by Aboriginees.

The map below is from Madison Grant's "The Passing of the Great Race." It shows an alternative scheme for people who don't want to share their elite European status with a bunch of unwashed Greeks, Italians and Spaniards (who are for their part treated as indistinguishable from Arabs). Remarkably, Turks get an upgrade in this schema. Instead of being ranked with the Mediterranean race they've become Alpine. This ambiguous category accommodates people like the Slavs or the Northern Italians who the British and Germans couldn't quite recognize as equals but who seemed to have something over the people to their south.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Free Syria


Two images from a pamphlet titled Dhikrá istiqlāl Sūriyā also sent along to us by Zach Foster. The first shows Faisal, best known as king of Iraq, and the second shows the territory he claimed in 1920 as part of his short-lived Arab Kingdom based in Damascus. Faysal ruled Damascus beginning in October 1918 and ending in July 1920, though he only declared himself King four months before the end. The French army refused to allow the creation of Faisal's Syrian kingdom, defeating a small contingent of Faisal's forces at the battle of Mysalun. Faisal was given Iraq as a consolation prize by the British, which his successors ruled until 1958 when they were ousted by a coup. Had Faisal's dream of a free Arab kingdom become reality, the Middle East might have been spared many of the conflicts it endured over the past century. Or maybe it still would have seen conflicts between the Arab Kingdom and its Christian minority, Kurdish minority and Zionist minority. Or between the Arab Kingdom and the Republic of Turkey. Or Iraq. Or Egypt. As Zach points out, even during his glorious short lived period of rule he struggled to convince others outside of damascus to subject themselves to his rule. James Gelvin's Divided Loyalties (p. 30) even reports that delegation of Aleppan notables used the occasion of Faisal's coronation to demand independence for their region. Suffice it to say this did not bode well for his future prospects of ruling all of Syria, let alone Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine.

Related topics on Afternoon Map include:
14 Maps of Syria's History
An Ottoman Ethnographic Map of the Middle East from 1915
French Visions of Greater Syria
A French Ethnographic Map of the Levant
A Hijaz Railway Ticket
The Turkish Annexation of Hatay
An Even More Implausible Assyrian Plan for a Post-War Middle East
And Cartoon Arabs in the Turkish Press.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ada Kale


Ada Kale, a fantastic diplomatic and cartographic oddity, was a spot of Ottoman territory that endured on the Danube River well after the Ottoman Empire had disappeared from the region. Read all about it at Strange Maps

Monday, February 16, 2015

4 Beautiful yet Horrifying Graphs of Death from Ottoman Lebanon, 1915-6



by Zach Foster

The Ottoman Empire that ruled the Middle East for the four hundred years before the First World War left behind a paper trail of tens of millions of documents, most of which remain unread for the simple reason that few people today can read them, the language itself too arcane, the paleography too illegible and the topics of administrative and bureaucrat niceties too impenetrable.

That is partly why I was so elated to find these hand-painted, colorful bar graphs depicting death rates in Lebanon in 1915-6, a year a half after the outbreak of the First World War.

Most historians remember those archival moments when they stumble across something interesting, mainly because such moments are few and far between.  Most archival work is egregiously boring, even if historians cum exotic travel adventure writers try to convince you otherwise.

My moment came on 29 September 2013.  I was doing research for my dissertation in the Ottoman Archives in Istanbul on the causes of the worst famine in the modern history of the Levant.  I was looking for documents that might help explain why so many people died, and the artistically minded Ottoman bureaucrats who ruled Lebanon during the First World War left behind more than a few clues.

The famine that befell this region—Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan—a century ago claimed the lives of some 10-15% of the population, with the death figure in Mount Lebanon exceeding 30%.  (By comparison, even the most exaggerated estimates of the current crisis in Syria place total deaths at 300,000, or roughly 1.3% of Syria’s 22 million people).  World War I was 10-15 times worse.

The Bar Graph

The bar graph above depicts the causes of death (esbab-i vefat) broken down by age group in September, October and November of 1915 in the District of Mount Lebanon, which, during World War I, included the districts of Jezzine, the Shuuf, Beirut, Keserwan, Batrun and Kura.  From left to right, the five age groups are: 1-10, 10-20, 20-40, 40-60, 60-80.  Of course, not every cause of death is represented in each age group, but here are the categories:

1) Heart disease (emraz-i kalbiye)
2) physical abjection (sefalet-i fiziyolojiye)
3) Kidney diseases (emraz-i  kilyeye)
4) Communicable diseases (fever, influenza etc.) (emraz-i sa’ire)
5) Infectious diseases (emraz-i insaniye sariye)
6) Respiratory illnesses (emraz-i turuk-i teneffüsiye)
7) Cancer and malignancy (saratan ve evram-i habise)
8) Stroke (sekte-i dimağı) 
9) Violent death (mevt-i enif)
10 Tuberculosis  (da’ül edran)
11) Birth Defects (su teşekkül viladı)*
12) Child’s diarrhea (ishal-i etfal)
13) Arteriosclerosis (tesellüb-i şeryaniye)

The primary cause of death for the 1-40 age groups was the innocuously labeled sefalet-i fiziloyojiye (dark brown), which loosely translates to physical abjection, poverty or destitution.  Also very common in most age groups were tuberculosis (bright red) and infectious diseases (spotted red) and communicable diseases (bright yellow). 

There is no mention of starvation in this graph.  This was probably not something to brag home about, certainly not for the bureaucrats ruling over the people starving to death.  Euphemisms have always been part and parcel of state practices: war ministries are peace ministries; military strikes are dove operations; and starvation is poverty or disease.

Accuracy of the Data?


How accurate is the data reflected in this table?  To answer this question, turn to charts  2, 3 and 4.


Friday, February 13, 2015

King-Crane Commission



King-Crane Commission Interactive Map: Historians' Cut

Karl Sturm put together this fantastic map for an article about the King-Crane Commission on the Atlantic website. Then I added some extended quotes from the Commission report to make the map interactive. The Atlantic editors wisely suggested that these were excessive and unwieldy, so we prepared condensed summaries for the final version. But for historians, King-Crane enthusiasts and primary source document aficionados, I couldn't resist posting this version with all the long, thoroughly unwieldy quotes intact. Now you too can savor the report's archaic and convoluted prose in digital form. It's a blend of tradition and modernity that should make any orientalist happy.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Edirne Ethnography


Another fascinating map from the IRCICA library, which brings together some of the best maps and worst lighting in Istanbul. It appeared in collection of seven or eight maps prepared by the Askeri Matbaasi, or military press, in Istanbul during the very early years of the Republic showing the military situation of the Edirne district during the Balkan Wars. The other maps cover the standard geographic features and strategic terrain you might expect to see in a military history. This map, though, shows the region's "ethnography," or what now might be called the human terrain. Specifically, it shows the villages in the area classified as "Muslim" (red), Rum, (Blue) or Bulgar (black).  Like this Ottoman ethnographic map of the Middle East from 1915, today's map is a reminder of the moment in history when religious and national affiliation (indeed the Muslim/Rum/Bulgar classification shows the ambiguous relationship between the two) became part of the military landscape.