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“1st. To withdraw immediately from the Japanese and Chinese waters German men-of-war and armed vessels of all kinds, and to disarm at once those which cannot be so withdrawn.
“2nd. To deliver on a date not later than September 15, 1914, to the Imperial Japanese Authorities, without condition or compensation, the entire leased territory of Kiaochou with a view to eventual restoration of same to China.
“The Imperial Japanese Government announce, at the same time, that, in the event of their not receiving by noon August 23, 1914, the answer of the Imperial German Government signifying an unconditional acceptance of the above advice offered by the Imperial Japanese Government, they will be compelled to take such action as they may deem necessary to meet the situation." 4
The time limit of the ultimatum expired at noon August 23. According to Baron Kato's statement, the Japanese Government had received no answer from Germany up to the last moment. The German Government did, however, on the 23rd state orally to the Japanese chargé d'affaires that it had “no reply to make to the demands of Japan.". Diplomatic negotiations were at once broken off, and war was declared by Japan on the same day.5 Four days later Austria-Hungary broke relations with Japan by recalling her ambassador from Tokio.
At the beginning of the war "the English 4 Inter. Con., No. 85, pp. 33–35. 5 G. W. B., 30. 6 A. R. B., 69.
Government ordered the seizure of two dreadnoughts that were being built for Turkey in British yards.” Turkey regarded this as an unfriendly act, especially as she had made great sacrifices for this addition to the strength of her navy, having borrowed money for it at the rate of twenty per cent. Turkish women had even sold their hair to help secure funds for the construction of these war-ships. The people had "made such great sacrifices because they regarded these vessels as agencies through which Turkey was to attack Greece and win back the islands of the Ægean." They were, therefore, very much incensed at the loss of these dreadnoughts, though the legal right of the English Government to requisition them was beyond dispute.
Britain maintained that she needed these vessels for her own protection, but would reimburse the Ottoman Government for all financial losses entailed by their seizure and, furthermore, would return them at the end of the war. The British ambassador at Constantinople, apparently, did not feel right over this. act of his Government, for he spoke of it as “Turkey's one concrete and substantial grievance against Great Britain."7
7 B. C. (13), 1, 2, 4, 34; B. C. (14), p. 3; R. O. B. (2), 10; Turkish Official Documents, Inter. Conciliation, pamphlet 86,
Despite this alleged grievance, the Porte announced its intention
intention to remain neutral. Mobilization had been decided upon early in August, but this had been done, it was said, “only because it would take months to complete, and because the Government wished not to be taken by surprise in case of aggression by Bulgaria, though they had also been alarmed by rumors of action by Russia." 8 Great Britain promised (August 7) that if neutrality were maintained by the Ottoman Government she would not “alter the status of Egypt” provided Egypt should remain quiet and “no unforeseen circumstances” should arise.9
This policy of neutrality was soon subjected to a severe strain. On August 10 two German warships, the Goeben and the Breslau, to find shelter from attack by the Allied fleet, came into the Dardanelles. Sir Edward Grey demanded that these ships be forbidden to remain in Turkish waters longer than twenty-four hours or else be interned. Instead of interning them, the Ottoman Government contended that it had bought them and promised to allow the officers and crews to return to Germany.
8 B. C. (13), 3.
According to Mr. Morgenthau, former American ambassador at Constantinople, the mobilization of the Turkish forces was carried on under the direction of German generals acting on instructions from Berlin. World's Work, June, 1918, pp. 158, 160.
9 B. C. (13), 5.
The grand vizier said that the "purchase was due to our [England's] detention of Sultan Osman [one of the ships taken over by the Government]. They must have ships to bargain with regard to question of the islands on equal terms with Greece, and it was in no way directed against Russia.” Sir Edward Grey was willing to acquiesce in the transfer, provided it was bona fide and the crews were returned to Germany at once.
The sale was, however, not bona fide, but was only a sham transaction arranged by Baron Wangenheim, the German ambassador. That such was the case was virtually admitted by both Baron Wangenheim and Talaat Pasha, the "boss of Turkey.” 10
The grand vizier contended that Turkey did not have enough sailors to man these boats until her transport returned from London. He promised that if he were given a little time gradually he would get rid of the German crews. The whole trouble, he said, was caused by the seizure of the Ottoman war-ships by the British Government. As England had not paid for the vessels, his people looked upon the act as robbery and as an indication that she intended to assist Greece in aggressive designs against Turkey." 11 10 B. C. (13), 8, 9, 11; World's Work, June, 1918, pp. 166, 11 B. C. (13), 20.
The grand vizier, however, was unable to make good his pledge that the German crews would gradually be sent home. On the contrary, the Germans on the Goeben and Breslau were reënforced by others who came from time to time and found places in the navy and the forts in strategic positions near Constantinople. German gold and war materials also were sent to the Turkish capital. The Ottoman Government was thus, in the opinion of the British and American ambassadors, entirely under the control of the Teutonic foreigners.
The British foreign office was very patient with the grand vizier despite his failure to make good his promises. The British and Russian ambassadors believed that he was sincere and really desirous of maintaining neutrality, but that he was not able to take a determined stand against the Germans. The Sultan, “a majority of the ministry, and a considerable section of the Committee of Union and Progress" were, in the opinion of the English ambassador, “opposed to so desperate an adventure as war with the Allies.” But Enver Pasha, the minister of war, seemed to be the dominating influence in the ministry and he was for war. “Dominated by a quasi-Napoleonic ideal, by political Pan-Islamism, and
12 R. O. B. (2), 36, 37, 39, 76, 86, 87, 88; B. C. (13), 31, 39, 40, 43, 46, 47, 76; B. C. (14), pp. 2, 3, 4; Turk. Doc.; World's Work, June, 1918, pp. 174, 176.