Participants in World War I The Central Powers and their colonies in orange, the Allies and their colonies in green, and neutral countries in gray.
|-||Established||June 28, 1914|
|-||Dissolved||September 27, 1940|
The Central Powers consisted of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Bulgaria. The name "Central Powers" is derived from the location of these countries. All four were located between the Russian Empire in the east and the French Third Republic and the United Kingdom in the west. The alliances made between these four nations were a result of Germany's inability to gain power on the "world stage". The Germans then decided to focus on creating an alliance of Mitteleuropa, i.e., Central Europe. The Balkans were originally desired as members of this alliance, but as the Balkans formed separate, autonomous states this was deemed impossible.
The Central Powers were composed of these nations:
- Austro-Hungarian Empire
- German Empire
- Ottoman Empire
- Kingdom of Bulgaria
- United Mexican States
On October 7, 1879, Germany and Austria-Hungary became allies and formed the Dual Alliance. On May 20, 1882, they were joined by the Kingdom of Italy in what was known as the Triple Alliance. This alliance was intended to be limited to defensive purposes only. When World War I began, the petition made by Germany and Austria-Hungary for Italian intervention was rejected by the Italian Government on the grounds of these two countries declaring war on the Kingdom of Serbia, rather than taking defensive action against it. Italy eventually entered World War I on May 23, 1915, but it fought against Germany and Austria-Hungary rather than with them, because of the land promised them in the Treaty of London made with France and Britain. This treaty promised Italy the Italian lands of the Habsburg Empire and territories in Asia Minor, Africa and the Balkans.
Ottoman Empire and BulgariaEdit
Following the outbreak of war in Europe during August 1914, the Ottoman Empire intervened at the end of October by taking action against Russia, resulting in declarations of war by the Triple Entente. Bulgaria, still resentful after its defeat in July 1913 at the hands of Serbia, Greece, Romania and the Ottoman Empire, was the second to last nation to enter the war against the Entente, invading Serbia in conjunction with German and Austro-Hungarian forces in October 1915.
In 1917 a diplomatic proposal was sent from the German Empire to Mexico to make war against the United States. The proposal came as a coded telegram dispatched by the Foreign Secretary of the German Empire, Arthur Zimmermann, on January 16, 1917, to the German ambassador in Washington, D.C., Johann von Bernstorff, at the height of World War I. On January 19, Bernstorff, per Zimmermann's request, forwarded the telegram to the German ambassador in Mexico, Heinrich von Eckardt. Zimmermann sent the telegram in anticipation of the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare by Germany on February 1, an act which German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg feared would draw the neutral U.S. into war on the side of the Allies. The telegram instructed Ambassador Eckardt that if the U.S. appeared likely to enter the war, he was to approach the Mexican Government with a proposal for military alliance. He was to offer Mexico material aid in the reclamation of territory lost during the Mexican-American War (the Southeastern section of the area of the Mexican Cession of 1848) and the Gadsden Purchase, specifically the American states of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Eckardt was also instructed to urge Mexico to help broker an alliance between Germany and the Japanese Empire.
Mexican President Venustiano Carranza assigned a general to assess the feasibility of a Mexican takeover of their former territories. The general concluded that it would be possible but extremely difficult. Germany offered to ship vital war supplies to Mexico if they accepted. With this in mind, Carranza formally accepted Zimmermann's proposals on April 14, by which time the U.S. had declared war on Germany.
Other movements Edit
Other movements supported the efforts of the Central Powers for their own reasons, such as the Irish Nationalists who launched the Easter Rising in Dublin in April 1916; they referred to their "gallant allies in Europe". In 1914, Józef Piłsudski was permitted to form independent Polish legions. Piłsudski wanted his legions to help the Central Powers defeat Russia and then side with France and the UK and win the war with them. However when it became clear that the Allies would lose he changed his mind. During the years 1917 and 1918, the Finns under C.G.E. Mannerheim and the Ukrainian and Lithuanian nationalists fought Russia for a common cause. The Ottoman Empire also had its own allies in Azerbaijan and the Northern Caucasus. The three nations fought alongside each other under the Army of Islam in the Battle of Baku. After the war many of these nations and supporters gained independence from Britain and Russia.
- Franz Josef I: Emperor of Austria-Hungary
- Karl I: Emperor of Austria-Hungary
- Count Leopold Berchtold: Austrian Foreign Minister
- István Tisza: Prime Minister of Hungary
- Conrad von Hötzendorf: Chief of the Austro-Hungarian General Staff
- Arthur Arz von Straussenburg: Chief of the Austro-Hungarian General Staff
- Anton Haus: Commander-in-Chief of the Austro-Hungarian Navy
- Maximilian Njegovan: Commander-in-Chief of the Austro-Hungarian Navy
- Wilhelm II: German Emperor
- Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg: Chancellor of the German Empire
- Erich von Falkenhayn: Chief of the German General Staff
- Paul von Hindenburg: Chief of the German General Staff
- Reinhard Scheer: Commander of the Imperial High Seas Fleet
- Erich Ludendorff: Deputy Chief of Staff of the German Army
- Wilhelm Souchon: German Naval Advisor to the Ottoman Empire
- Otto Liman von Sanders: German Army Advisor to the Ottoman Empire
- Paul Erich von Lettow-Vorbeck: German Army Commander of East Africa Campaign
- Mehmed V: Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
- Mehmed VI: Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
- Said Halim Pasha: Ottoman Grand Viziers
- İsmail Enver: Commander-in-Chief of the Ottoman Army
- Fritz Bronsart von Schellendorf: Chief of the Ottoman General Staff
- Mustafa Kemal Atatürk: Commander of the Second Army
- Ferdinand I: Czar of Bulgaria
- Vasil Radoslavov: Prime Minister of Bulgaria
- Nikola Zhekov: Commander-in-Chief of the Bulgarian Army
- Georgi Todorov: commander of the 2nd Army, deputy Commander-in-Chief
- Venustiano Carranza: President of Mexico
- Manuel Aguirre Berlanga: Secretary of the Interior
- Jesús Agustín Castro: Secretariat of National Defense
- Juan José Ríos: Commander of the 1st Army