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July 25, 1923

Die äussere Politik der Woche (The Lausanne Peace Treaty)

Die äussere Politik der Woche

The Lausanne Peace Treaty



After 171 days, the two conferences of Lausanne have come to an end, and on July 24 the peace treaty has finally been signed—an event of truly historical significance, a total success for Turkey and England, a defeat for France, and the first of the Parisian peace agreements [the Versailles Treaty of 1919] has been torn up!

When the second conference started [in Lausanne] on April 25, the issues of the borders and the status of the straits [on the Bosporus] had basically been decided. What remained pending, especially due to French pig-headedness, were principally the so-called sovereignty issues: capitulations, concessions, minority protection, financial questions. During the arduous negotiations, England secured the control over Turkey’s Asian railways, as ([see] Reuter [news agency report of] May 17) a consortium of English and Swiss banks led by the London bank Henry Schroeder took over the German stocks. The collapse of the German currency had after all made the Swiss the masters of the Orient railways. But the Swiss banks were of the opinion that this capital investment could be secured only by a great power. And hence, in a nutshell, England has taken [Germany’s] place in controlling the Orient railways between Constantinople [Istanbul] and Baghdad.

The Greco-Turkish tensions complicated the conference. On May 26, an understanding was reached in this matter. Greece accepted that Karagatch [a town close to Edirne] will go to Turkey, and in principle recognized its duty to pay reparations [for the 1919-1922 invasion], which Turkey in practice renounced; each party returns to the other the confiscated ships.

On June 2, agreement was reached with Italy, which will keep the island Castellorizza; in return, Italy will assume the part of the Turkish debt commensurate with those islands of the Dodecanese [occupied] in 1912. The last unsolved territorial question had been solved.

Points of contention remain: interest payments for the Turkish debt, prewar concessions, the evacuation of Constantinople. In this context, it was the flexibility first of the French and then of the English that made the peace treaty possible. Six weeks after ratification by Ankara [i.e. the Turkish government], Constantinople shall be free of Allied troops!


The original treaty encompassed 160 articles. The Turks have accepted 66 unchanged, have changed 33, and struck down 15; the entire third part, concerning economic stipulations (articles 71-117) were extracted from the peace treaty and will be specially negotiated later. Without this [decision], an agreement  would have been impossible.

In Europe, Turkey’s borders are such that it keeps Eastern Thrace, including Adrianople [Edirne], and Karagatch. Here, in the west the Maritza River forms the border; the Bulgarian border is that of the Neuilly Peace Treaty [of November 1919]. The border with Syria (settled in the Franco-Turkish treaty of October 1921) remains unchanged, and determining the border with Iraq (Mosul question) has been delegated to the League of Nations. As for the islands, Imbros and Tenedos remain Turkish, the remaining islands in the Eastern Mediterranean remain Greek, and Italy keeps the Dodecanese. Regarding the straits, free passage by water and air in times of war and peace has been asserted. The straits are being demilitarized, just like the riverbank and islands of the Sea of Marmara and like the upstream islands of Imbros [Gökçeada] and Tenedos [Bozcaada] (Turkish) and Lemnos and Samothrace (Greek). Constantinople may not be fortified. A League of Nations commission manages the control of the straits; it is composed by the big powers, Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Russia, and led by the Turks. It has been determined that the national minorities will have the same protection as in Poland or Czechoslovakia. The capitulations have been abolished; foreigners have no other way than to go to [?[i]] Turkish courts. The financial independence of Turkey is recognized. Turkey’s state debt as of November 1, 1914, is being divided between itself and its successor states. The Allies have renounced reparations; in return, Turkey has renounced the restitution of their assets in Vienna and Berlin that have been confiscated by the Allies and anyway were lost. [Turkey’s] complete separation from its war allies will be carried out by the time that their assets in Turkey have been liquidated. The dispute about the “dette ottomane” has not been solved and, hence, ended with a Turkish victory. The Turks want to negotiate alone with their debtors about the payment mode, especially about the currency. Already today it is clear that the Turks will pay under no condition in gold, but in paper currency; this signifies a two third reduction of their international debt; it is not possible anymore to impose, by coercion, another [payment] mode. The only yardstick Turkey uses to determine how much to compromise with its debtors is its own credit. Havingassumed 72 per cent of the Turkish state debt, France has not imposed that its debtors will be paid in gold, and although it put up a tough fight it has not been able to prevent the creation of a precedent that will become dangerous for France when the similar question of Russian bonds and their payment will become acute again. In the end, the French viewpoint was expressed in a theoretical form; Turkey did not recognize it. And France has had to humbly accept this situation. England had the same experience with concessions, especially regarding the “Turkish Petroleum Company,” where Turkey was supported by [the United States of] America. Also here, the English viewpoint that no prewar right may be violated was expressed. Turkey did not recognize it, which England accepted. In both last questions, thus, coupon payments and concessions, Turkey has not accepted any condition; it is free to turn to all other [tasks awaiting it]. [lieber die Räumung wurde schon gesprochen.[ii]] Turkey’s war ships, artillery and weapons are returned to it; it has even been granted an increase in its maximum troop levels, and only a small naval contingent, made up by all powers, stays until the straits agreement goes into effect.

Ismet Pasha [İsmet İnönü (1884-1973), head of the Turkish delegation in Lausanne and future second president of Turkey, in 1938-1950] has correctly said that Turkey has negotiated in, and left, Lausanne in an independent fashion and as an equal. It is the full master of Eastern Thrace and Constantinople, free from capitulations and concessions. Regarding the latter, she is able to carry out a real plan that takes into account its universal state interests; she will not, and does not have to, surrender to concession hunters like an exploitable colonial country. However, in the straits its sovereignty is strongly limited; the adage coined by Metternich in 1833 following the Treaty of Huntiar Istelessi, that Turkey is the “sublime portier des Dardanelles au service du czar,” is true again today—though to England’s advantage. In exchange Turkey has won England’s alliance [Bundesgenossenschaft] and assistance.

The will not to bow under a slave peace, martial courage, but also a favorable world constellation and—not to be forgotten—the Turks’ own very great skillfulness have accomplished this success. This is how an uprising and victory is possible! This is how Turkey can, and must, be an example for us.


Today, European Turkey is 24,000 square kilometers wide and has 1.5 million inhabitants. Its Asian population is estimated to be 10 million inhabitants, though it is asserted it has fallen to 5.5 million inhabitants due to war and diseases. An entirely new Turkey, enjoying an independence that in 1918 nobody thought possible, is bound to rise. The old Ottoman Empire is dead. The Caliphate has been separated from the Sultanate. Constitutionally, the Sultan is a paper tiger;[iii] sovereignty resides in the national assembly in Ankara. Kemal [Atatürk] had parliament reelected during the peace negotiations [in Lausanne]. As was to be expected, his party, the party of the “Defense of Rights,”[iv] won the majority of votes, creating [a reality] which Kemal thought to be necessary. He wants to constitutionally organize popular will, such that it carries him without hindering him. He is the personality who towers above all, and who secured [Turkey’s] liberation and the peace [of Lausanne].

The whole system of government that now can do as it pleases is called Kemalismus (there is an interesting French work, “Le kémalisme devant les Alliés,” by Michel Paillares). Now it is possible to carry out the program of the old [Ottoman] Committee of Union and Progress, which desired freedom, a constitution, etc., in order to strengthen the state and make it truly national-Ottoman. [This is] a program that until 1918 was not implementable in Turkey [i.e. the Ottoman Empire] given its ethnic mishmash, but that can be executed in a now almost purely Ottoman [i.e. Muslim] Turkey in which resides great might today. [For this task] it would have been better, however, that Turkey would have gotten rid of Constantinople, a Greek city that will only create hurdles and cause conflicts.

In Lausanne, Kemal’s top policy priority clearly was the will to conclude a peace agreement; Turkey needs a peaceful reconstruction more than anything else. It assumes its part of the old Ottoman debt, a great burden, but the banknote press has not been turning for years, and the value of the Turkish pound (in Zurich, 3.50 versus 22.78 before the war) is only marginally below that of the Czech krona, an indication that the financial situation is not unfavorable. The prospects for recovery, to begin with in the realm of finance, are good: after Austria and Bulgaria also Turkey, while Germany is descending into financial misery!

However, the economic devastations of almost twelve years of war are terrible. After all, for the first time since the fifteen century they have touched also the core territory, Anatolia, where the land and its riches are desolate and devastated. The new Turkey needs capital and people. The Greeks and Armenians have been pushed out of the country; they will be replaced by the Jews. Transforming Anatolian peasants into assiduous craftsmen and traders will take a very long time and happen certainly only with the import of much foreign capital, the regulation of which is based in the question of concessions. Nationalism is doing all it can to make this difficult and limit it; thus, all correspondence has to be in Turkish, etc. [Turkey] wishes, as it were, to introduce a system of national protectionism, for which the conditions are absent and which will complicate reconstruction. However, Turkey can count on US and British economic assistance; the country offers great future opportunities for capital. Somewhat more difficult is the problem of people, of whom there is not enough and whose aptitude for this peaceful labor still needs to be proven. After all, the [Turkish] features that created the success of Lausanne, however big they may be, will not do on their own. Do the Ottoman Turks have the aptitude for a peaceful economic activity and for a modern-type state? This is now the principal question; as it evolves, England and America are very much center stage while France and Italy are increasingly lagging and Germany is entirely neutralized.


The Balkan states have observed the negotiations in Lausanne with caution. Romania, which has a great interest in the freedom of the straits, kept totally quiet, loath of new military imbroglios. Bulgaria’s hope to gain Western Thrace are fading, and its demand for access to the [Mediterranean] sea, granted by article 48 of the Neuilly peace treaty, for the time being is not fulfilled, either. This situation is bound to lead to conflict, for it goes without saying that the Bulgarian state cannot be denied access to the sea, as all experiences of the last 15 years have shown. Yugoslavia and Greece have solved the same question in the Serbo-Greek treaty of 1914, in which Serbia got a free zone in the port of Thessaloniki, has now been put into effect by Greece, which seeks and needs a linkage with Yugoslavia after its defeats [against Turkey].

A question that concerns the Orthodox Christians of all Balkan states is the ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. It vested in Meletios IV, a loyal Greek Venizelist,[v] and Turkey today is going into battle against his institution and its political functions. In Lausanne, the Turk[s] called the removal of the Patriarchate a fundamental necessity, which after all is an exact parallel of Kemal’s policy of separating the Caliphate from the Turkish state. The energetic Patriarch is resisting, just like the Greeks who are remaining in Turkey. For the time being the peace treaty has allowed the patriarchate to continue to exist, and only somewhat curtailed its prerogatives. The politics of this Greek-Catholic Church continues to reach far and wide. It is seeking a rapprochement with the Anglican Church. And the current secession of the Orthodox Churches of Poland, Finland, and Estonia from Moscow is giving it further strength and a new platform in the east, also against the Roman [Catholic] Church which is gaining ground there. These are weighty contexts for economic and military questions, which one should never disregard and which have much potential to generate conflict.

Greece is looking back on three eventful years bracketed by [the Treaties of] Sèvres and Lausanne. The return [to power] of [King] Constantine [in 1920-1922], the campaign in Asia Minor, military collapse, military revolt, execution of the ministers, rupture of the relationship with England, Constantine’s death [in 1923], and now a peace that is called honorable but that ultimately had to be a capitulation. If Greece has nonetheless succeeded to improve its position somewhat, it’s thanks to the military and the statesman Venizelos, who is culpable of so many things, but who, in a strange twist of fate, is now returning from Lausanne as a savior of sorts.

After defeat and coup the domestic situation is insecure, perhaps dangerous. The political parties are at each other’s throat, and the wave of refugees from Eastern Thrace and Smyrna [Izmir] is a severe test for government and country. There is to be an exchange, in which whatever remains of Turkey (Resttürkei) gets entirely rid of its Greek (and also Armenian) population. As a consequence, at least one million refugees are [now] in Greece, while about half a million Greeks (and between 100,000 to 300,000 Armenians) have remained on Turkish territory. Taking back these refugees to their mother country is an extremely painful process; moreover, it is tantamount to relinquishing those Panhellenic dreams with which Venizelos led his people into dangerous adventures. But is also signifies a reinforcement of the Kingdom’s population, which has grown from 5 to 6.5 million inhabitants.

The war’s dreams have been blown away, and have cost Greece dearly. This country, too, yearns for peace and quiet, and wants to surmount the deep economic crisis of the last years that [however] can financially and in other ways certainly be fixed. Next to the Turkish pound, the Drachma is the Balkan’s best currency, and like Bulgaria, the country can export raw materials that the world economy needs. Domestically, attempts are being made to come to an understanding with the leader of the radicals, General [Ioannis] Metaxas [1871-1941], and to use elections to transition from a military dictatorship to a legal form of government.

The peace is honorable: the large [Panhellenic] program has been defeated, but the gains of the Balkan Wars [of 1912-1913] have not been touched. However, Italy remains in the Mediterranean, and the [secret 1919] treaty between [Italian Foreign Minister Tommaso] Tittoni [1855-1931] and Venizelos, which was to grant Greece the Dodecanese, has been abrogated. This pushes Greece into Yugoslavia’s arms, and more generally towards the Little Entente [between Yugoslavia, Romania, and Czechoslovakia, principally against Hungary]; both Belgrade and (for dynastic reasons) Bukarest as well as Prague, the center of the Little Entente, show understanding for this relationship and support it. Last year, Serbia and Greece again extended their alliance treaty of 1913; this, together with the natural dependence on England that has accomplished its goals also here, explains Greece’s new political orientation. One cannot but wish the country to calm down and settle, on the basis of this peace [of Lausanne] and assisted by the new organization of its military.

May the same happen in neighboring Albania with its 30,000 square kilometers and 890,000 inhabitants. Also here, there have been extreme changes: a Turkish [i.e. Ottoman] province in 1912, a free principality, in 1915 at least on paper a partition between the allies, Wilson’s intervention, and finally, for the last reason and because of the rivalry between Italy, Yugoslavia, and Greece the foundation of a self-governing Albania, which elected its own parliament in 1920 and in December 1921 became member of the League of Nations as an independent state, one which quite truly is a child of the League. It is a child also in another sense: it is a young state suffering from all children’s diseases. But the population is progressively being disarmed and pacified, and the economy is recovering. A search for a ruler is under way. The name on people’s mind is that of the brother of the Romanian crown prince, Nicholas [1903-1978], which would orient Albania, too, towards the Little Entente.

Religion and custom seem to nix a permanent unification between north and south [Albania]. But the will to see Albania as a whole independent exists and is bound to overcome the disparities, just like Serbs and Croats did [in Yugoslavia]. [Albania’s] foreign leaning is a given, and the country’s economy will progress if an energetic prince liberates the peasants and finishes feudalism, which forms the strongest remnant of the Middle Ages in the Balkan since Turkey has quit Europe.


Rivalry between the great powers has saved Turkey again. Will this peace last? Although many conflicts remain unsolved, we believe it will. People on the Balkan Peninsula and in Asia Minor are dead tired of war and yearn for quiet, and the Lausanne Peace Treaty is giving new form to certain permanent outcomes. Let’s set apart what concerns principally England: Mesopotamia, Arabia, Palestine, the Mosul Question. And we can only mention in passing that the Armenians have again been terribly treated, as a stepchild. Turkey has rejected any responsibility for them on its territory and only issued a generic promise, with which the powers have contented themselves again, and conclusively so.

Ankara-Turkey was and is entertaining tight relationships with the Ukraine, Moscow, the Caucasian republics, Afghanistan, and Persia; these take the form of alliance agreements. But nobody is talking about an Asiatic bloc from the Black Sea to India or anything of that sort, and the maxims Pan-Islam or Pan-Asian feelings are but empty words. The realities are Turkish independence and political leaning towards, and economic aid by, a big power: England!

When the first Lausanne conference ended, a participant told us that, in his view, England had on purpose provoked that break in order to make France look bad and to pave its own way to Turkey. This may have been a bit too rationalistic and Machiavellian. What is true, however, is that England’s superior diplomacy has scored a tremendous victory. The successes in the south, between India and Egypt, have remained untouched. Moreover, the question of the Straits has been solved to England’s advantage like never before in the history of the Eastern Question. After all, with American help, [the principle of] free transit in peace and war has been imposed. Given the dominance of the English Navy, this means that England rules the straits—and the Black Sea! The League of Nations commission can only work under English guidance, whose backing by the United States is all but certain. We do not need to spell out what this means strategically for England’s global empire: versus Russia, for the Near East and India, and together with England’s position in Cyprus, Crete, and Suez. As far as this core of the Eastern Question is concerned, England has scored a decisive success today. Where it had to compromise under American pressure, for instance in the question of concessions, things remain in the family, as it were. And wherever England, seemingly in solidarity with France, yielded to Turkey, it will be in a better position when these matters will again be treated: it always can offer something [in exchange] whereas France always can only make demands. Thus, Lausanne has ended in a great English success. It conclusively confirms the result of the world war, and at the same time concludes England’s pivot back to Turkey, which Lord Curzon masterfully effected during the negotiations.

France, on the other hand, is vanquished. Its duplicitous policy to secretly work with Turkey against England has failed. The Franco-Turkish agreement of October 1921 was a trump card that did not win. This agreement’s territorial concessions to Turkey, in Syria, were made in vain. Turkey dumped France, which ended up being the conference’s all-around troublemaker. One may say that France has lost a decisive battle in the Orient without the army of General [Maxime] Weygand [1867-1965] in Syria losing a single soldier. French protection of the Catholics began to disintegrate already with the separation of state and church at the start of the century, which did not consider implications for French policy in the Orient. This ideal role has basically ended. Besides, what’s the point for France to be in Syria, which costs it dearly and which will not benefit it? Economically, it is lagging everywhere. [French Prime Minister Raymond] Poincaré [1860-1934] has not pushed through the dear wishes of his backers, but suffered failure. Unlike [his predecessor Aristide] Briand [1862-1932], he is not a Turkophile. He approached the negotiations in Lausanne only tactically: Orient and Rhine, using the same pigheaded method as in the Ruhr question. The result is a ringing defeat for his state. We will increasingly note that France’s policy in the Orient has essentially faltered.

One cannot say much more about Italy, which operated more cautiously. At any rate, what are the clearly perceptible and firmly pursued aims of Mussolini’s foreign policy? All the more important was the role of North America [the United States], although it stayed in the background. A so-called “impartial observer,” its ambassador in Rome, pushed through freedom of navigation in the straits. Although far away [from Turkey], America’s victory suits England well, and it sided with Turkey against England regarding concessions, the open door policy, and—behind the scenes—petroleum, which really is the only major source of conflict between England and North America. As for Turkish nationalism, America has furthered it; [retired US] Admiral [Colby Mitchell] Chester’s [1844-1932] monumental railway concession ceded without ado all Turkish wishes regarding capitulations, language of correspondence, etc.

The last large remaining question mark is Russia. What we anticipated has happened. The Russo-Turkish commonality that was affirmed by the agreement of March 16, 1921—and more generally the commonality of all opponents of England in the Near and Middle East—has turned out to be what it was from the start: a bluff, an agitational phrase. The Turks first used Turco-Russian unity, then abandoned it. No permanent understanding is possible between Turkish nationalism and Russian Bolshevism. If he had to lean on a big power, [Turkish President Mustafa] Kemal [Atatürk, 1881-1938] decided to try and find England. As a result, Soviet Russia has been neutralized in Lausanne. Russia’s idea to treat the straits question as a matter only for the states of the Black Sea was blatantly ignored; it is England which, with Turkey’s accord, rules this disputed place of the Eastern Question. However, Russia surprised everybody when it declared it would sign the straits treaty, although this directly contravenes its interests. Obviously, all Soviet ministers clearly understand the impossibly problematic nature of this treaty for Russia. But also here, the maxim is: “take a break.” To cede here means a success in relations with England, which [Soviet People’s Commissar of Foreign Trade Leonid] Kras[s]in [1870-1926] seems to have steered into calmer waters. It also means the ability to work undisturbedly and the freedom to organize massive grain exports, which Russia is energetically preparing and for which it needs to cross the Black Sea and the Straits, something its navy can’t do by force. Hence, Russia has given in, for it yet has not returned to be a real power and is politically inactive: for the time being, for Russia is certain—and this is the weakest point of the whole Lausanne peace edifice—that when it will have regained its strength, this matter will automatically be revised.

Japan refuses to sign, because it is in favor of the open door—while advocating the exact opposite in China. We set aside broader contexts like the Russo-Japanese rapprochement, the effect of Lausanne on US-Japanese relations, etc. They are interesting but not pertinent, at any rate not for us now.


The old Ottoman Empire is done with; a new Turkey is to rise. Freedom of navigation in the straits, guaranteed by the League of Nations, is to cap a millennium that started with the Turkish conquest of Constantinople [in 1453]. It is to be the end of the previous Orientpolitik and of European rivalry at the bedstead of the “sick man” [of Europe, a derogatory term for the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire], who is not at all thinking of death, but to the contrary, feels very vital and healthy.

Turkey’s Christian minorities, especially the Armenians, have fared badly in this peace edifice. This will have an effect on the Oriental Christians. Abandoned by Europe and deprived of the protection once granted by the capitulations, they will take distance from European influence, and will and must find a modus vivendi with Turkish nationalism.

People in the entire Orient, in Asia as well as Africa, have followed the negotiations in Lausanne, which were attended by all sorts of Egyptian, Syrian, and Arab representatives. Now, these [“Oriental”] problems will begin with a vengeance, namely for England, however vague they still are.

The main issue and problem, though, is Turkey. A Kemalist has said that “of all powers in 1918, Turkey is the only victor today.” This is correct. But the question is whether a modern European type of state and economy can be developed in a peaceful and orderly fashion from Ankara. And what [German historian Leopold von] Ranke [1795-1886] once wrote, still holds: “the confrontation between different nationalities and religions in the Orient and their relationship to the Occident constitutes the largest historical-political problem of our times, decade after decade.”

Within this Occident, however, the Romanic countries lose their preeminence in the Orient more and more. England is the strongest power, together with Turkey, against Russia and France. Remember [British Prime Minister 1916-1922] Lloyd George [1863-1945] exactly a year ago: the failure of the policy towards Greece, his threat to go to war, for which he even turned to the Dominions, and the retreat he had to beat. Turkey knew—and this determined its position in Lausanne—that today no big power will again go to war over the Eastern Question. In September 1922 England was in a desperate situation: at the side of defeated Greece, against victorious Turkey and behind it, plotting, pigheaded France with its tactic of exercising pressure in the Orient to get English concessions on the Rhine.

Showing an extraordinary, statesmanlike steady hand, [British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs 1919-1924] Lord Curzon [1859-1925] has defused this situation and turned it around, to England’s advantage. He has turned into reality [German Chancellor 1871-1890, Otto von] Bismarck’s [1815-1898] bonmot that the Eastern Question is a game of patience won by the party that knows how to wait, probably without knowing. This is a great personal triumph for him and a monumental success for England. Rare is the statesman who accomplishes his highest objectives in Curzon’s fashion. He now sees realized what he wrote as a young man in his books and prepared as vice king of India. This must elevate his position and inspire and steady [British Prime Minister 1923-1924, Stanley] Baldwin’s [1867-1947] cabinet.

On April 25, we wrote in this newspaper: “The formula ‘English concessions on the Rhine versus French concessions in the Orient’ does not need to hold if English policy is firm and dominant, seeking to reach as quickly as possible a peace with Ankara, where Kemal seems to be ready, too.” English policy has been firm and dominant. England now has a free hand vis-à-vis France, and is able to increase its pressure on France. In that article, we continued: “It is in Germany’s as well as Europe’s interest that Lord Curzon makes this peace happen the way he has imagined it.” This is still our viewpoint. It was impossible to represent German interests in Lausanne; we were incapable of influencing these processes directly. For the time being, there is no German Orientpolitik and no German objectives in the Orient. We are only interested in the indirect effects of this peace on Europe and on us; and these effects ought to be, and are, significant and positive for Europe.


Lloyd George has justifiably been accused of having broken with two foremost traditions of English policy. It is said that he abandoned [British Prime Minister 1874-1880, Benjamin] Disraeli’s [1904-1881] pro-Turkish stance, and accepted that the European balance of power was destroyed. Lord Curzon reverted to Disraeli’s pro-Turkish stance after England had got the most out of its anti-Turkish stance. As this turnaround reflects permanent historical-political circumstances, it will endure. Will this success give Lord Curzon the impetus to do what it takes also in Europe? Will he tame France’s imperialism with a purposeful reparations and European policy?

On [July] 20, England at long last sent various memoranda to its allies’ embassies in London. We do not have authentic information about them. Hence, there is no reason for us to add to the flood of fake news or guesses with which English and French newspapers have swamped Germany last week. In the meantime, though, a German collapse is quickly becoming a dead serious possibility, and the danger mounts that the repercussions of Lausanne and its easing effect on England’s policy in Europe will come late for Germany!


[i] Translator’s note: Partially illegible in the original print.

[ii] Translator’s note: This sentence bit was inserted by mistake into the original German text.

[iii] Translator’s note: In actual fact, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey had abolished the Sultanate already on November 1, 1922; on November 11, the Allied delegations in Lausanne recognized the assembly’s sovereignty; and ex-sultan Mehmet VI departed Istanbul on November 17. Subsequently, in March 1924, Turkey also abolished his title of Caliph and the office of the Caliphate.

[iv] Translator’s note: Full name in English: the Association for the Defense of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia; Kemal turned it into the People’s Party in September 1923.

[v] Translator’s note: Eleftherios Venizelos (1864-1936) was Greece’s foremost nationalist leader and Prime Minister in 1910-1920 and 1928-1933.

By the late nineteenth century, Germany replaced Britain as the modern Ottoman Empire’s principal European partner. Hence, in 1914 it did not take the Ottoman government long to enter World War I at Germany‘s side, fighting Russia. After Germany‘s defeat, the new government in Berlin in June 1919 accepted the onerous Versailles Treaty. Declaring Germany and its allies the sole responsible parties for the war, it detached territories in Germany‘s east and west, imposed tremendous reparation payments, principally to France, and set strict limits to armed forces and military development (which however were soon bypassed by clandestine cooperation with the Soviets). In the postwar Ottoman Empire / nascent Turkey, developments differed—and were closely followed in Germany. From as early as 1919, especially conservative Germans saw Turkey’s action against the Allies as a model for their country, as Stefan Ihrig‘s Atatürk in the Nazi Imagination (2014) has shown.

A case in point is the text published here, in the elite conservative national daily Neue preussische Zeitung (also Kreuzzeitung), by Otto Hoetzsch (1876-1946), who in 1920-1930 served as a member of parliament for the Deutschnationale Volkspartei, the largest conservative party in the Weimarer Republic (1918-1933). To be sure, the Ottoman/Turkish postwar beginnings were as bleak as Germany‘s. In October 1918, the British-Ottoman Armistice of Mudros demobilized the army, evacuated all non-Anatolian garrisons, and stipulated the Allied occupation of Istanbul and the Straits. And in August 1920, the Treaty of Sèvres, signed by Sultan Mehmet VI but rejected by the subsequently disbanded parliament, affirmed Allied control of the Straits and Istanbul, designated Anatolia’s southwest and center-south as Italian and French influence zones, foresaw a Franco-British-influenced Kurdish state and an Armenian state in present-day eastern Turkey, and gave Thrace and Izmir to Greece, which had invaded western Anatolia in 1919 and was pushing eastwards. But these terms galvanized the Turkish National Movement (TNM), which was begun by Muslim Ottoman officers and notables in post-armistice Anatolia and was galvanized already in 1919 by the Greek invasion. To many Germans’ envy, by September 1922 the TNM was in control of almost all of present-day Turkey, due to its own military and political-diplomatic force, to Greek overreach, and to divergent Allied interests. To replace the Treaty of Sèvres, negotiations ensued from November 1922 with the Allies in the Swiss city of Lausanne. In January 1923, the Turkish and Greek delegations signed the Convention Regarding the Exchange of Greek and Turkish populations (also Lausanne Convention), by which about 1.5 million Greek Orthodox (“Greek”) inhabitants of Anatolia were forcedly exchanged for about 500,000 Muslim (“Turkish”) inhabitants of Greece. And in July 1923, all delegations signed the Treaty of Lausanne. It imposed some conditions on Turkey, including a minority protection regime patterned on earlier League of Nations models for postwar Eastern Europe. But on the whole, it was a great Turkish success. It inter alia internationally recognized the Turkish Republic, returned Istanbul and the Straits to Turkey, abolished the prewar capitulations, and absolved all perpetrators of the anti-Armenian, -Assyrian, and -Orthodox genocide from legal prosecution.


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Die Neue Preussische Zeitung (Kreuzzeitung) (July 25, 1923), p. 1-2. Original contributed by Marcus Michaelsen; translated and annotated by Cyrus Schayegh.


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