WWI Photograph & Signature of Otto Liman von Sanders
WWI Photograph & Signature of Otto Liman von Sanders; Head of the German Military Mission to the Ottoman Empire- Photograph is black and white, with a matte finish, illustrating Generalleutnant Otto Liman von Sanders in a studio portrait, wearing his German uniform, complete with braided shoulder boards, a Turkish-style hat, the Prussian Pour le Merite at the neck, the Iron Cross 2nd Class immediately below at the opening of the tunic, the Turkish Imatiaz Medal on his left breast, and the Iron Cross 1st Class below, the photograph measuring 78 mm x 110 mm, affixed to a linen matte and signed in black ink below by the Generalleutnant, encased under glass with a wooden frame, a loop on the reverse for wall hanging, measuring 151 mm x 235 mm overall. Light soiling and creasing evident on the matte, otherwise, extremely fine. Footnote: Generalleutnant Otto Liman von Sanders was a German general who served as adviser and military commander for the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. He was born on February 17, 1855, in Stolp (now Slupsk) in Pomerania province of the Kingdom of Prussia. His father was a Jewish nobleman. Like many other Prussians from aristocratic families, he joined the military and rose through the ranks to Lieutenant General. As per several Prussian generals who preceded him, he was appointed the head of a German military mission to the Ottoman Empire in 1913. For nearly eighty years, the Ottoman Empire had been trying to modernize its army along European lines. Liman von Sanders would be the last German to attempt this task. On June 30, 1914, two days after the outbreak of the First World War in Europe, the Ottoman leaders agreed to form an alliance with German against Russia, although it did not require them to undertake military action. The Ottoman Empire officially entered the war on the side of the Central Powers on October 31, 1914. Britain and France declared war on November 5th, and the Ottomans followed by declaring a "Jihad" (Holy War) later that month. The first proposal to attack the Ottoman Empire was made by the French Minister of Justice Aristide Briand on November 1914, which was rejected. Later that month Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, proposed a naval attack on the Dardanelles, based in part on erroneous reports of Ottoman troop strength. An initial attempt to force the Dardanelles by sea failed on March 18, 1915, due to gunfire from Ottoman forts on both sides of the straits. The Allies then turned to planning amphibious operations, to capture the forts and clear the strait, which led to the Battle of Gallipoli. Liman had little time to organize the defences, but he had two things in his favour. First, the Ottoman 5th Army in the Gallipoli peninsula was the best army they had, some 84,000 well-equipped soldiers in six divisions. Second, he was helped by poor Allied leadership. On April 23, 1915, the British landed a force at Cape Helles. One of Liman's best decisions during this time was to promote Mustafa Kemal (later known as Ataturk) to commander of the 19th Division. Kemal's division literally saved the day for the Ottomans. His troops marched up on the day of the invasion and occupied the ridge line above the ANZAC landing site, just as the ANZAC troops were moving up the slope themselves. Kemal recognized the danger and personally made sure his troops held the ridge line. They were never forced off despite constant attacks for the next five months. From April to November 1915, when the decision was made to evacuate was made, Liman had to fight off numerous attacks against the defensive positions. The British tried another landing at Suvla Bay, but this also was halted by the Ottoman defenders. The only bright spot for the British in this entire operation was that they managed to evacuate their positions without much loss. However, this battle was a major victory for the Ottoman army and some of the credit is given to the generalship of Liman von Sanders. Early in 1915, the previous head of the German military mission to the Ottoman Empire, Baron von der Goltz, arrived in Istanbul as military adviser to the (essentially powerless) Sultan, Mehmed V. The old Baron did not get along with Liman von Sanders and did not like the three Pashas (Enver Pasha, Cemal Pasha and Talat) who ran the Ottoman Empire during the war. The Baron proposed some major offensives against the British, but these proposals came to nothing in the face of Allied offensives against the Ottomans on three fronts (the Dardanelles, the Caucasus Front, and the newly opened Mesopotamian Front). Liman was rid of the old Baron when Enver Pasha sent him to fight the British in Mesopotamia in October in 1915. Goltz died there six months later, just before the British army at Kut surrendered. In 1918, the last year of the war, Liman von Sanders took over command of the Ottoman army during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, replacing the German General Erich von Falkenhayn, who had been defeated by British General Allenby at the end of 1917. Liman was hampered by the significant decline in power of the Ottoman army. His forces were unable to do anything more than occupy defensive positions and wait for the British attack. The attack was a long time in coming, but when General Allenby finally unleashed his army, the entire Ottoman army was destroyed in a week of fighting at the Battle of Megiddo. In the rout, Liman was nearly captured by British soldiers. After the war ended, Liman was arrested in Malta in February 1919 on charges of having committed war crimes, but he was released six months later. He retired from the German army later that year. In 1927, he published a book he had written while in captivity in Malta, about his experiences before and during the war. Two years later, on August 22, 1929, Otto Liman von Sanders died in Munich, at the age of 74.