Who's Who - Otto Liman von Sanders

Otto Liman von Sanders Otto Liman von Sanders (1855-1929), a German officer, was responsible for transforming the efficiency of the Ottoman army in the months prior to World War One.

Born on 17 February 1855 in Stolp, Pomerania Liman began his military career in 1874.  Rising to the rank of Lieutenant General the unpopular Liman served in numerous staff and divisional commands before being appointed director of a German military mission to Turkey in 1913 intended to reorganise the army of the Ottoman Empire.

Liman's appointment brought a storm of protest from Russia, who suspected German designs on the Ottoman capital.  A compromise arrangement was subsequently agreed whereby Liman was appointed to the rather less senior (and less influential) position of Inspector General in January 1914.

In the months prior to the outbreak of war in August 1914 Liman worked to improve the Turkish army's fighting capabilities.  He was nevertheless highly uncomfortable in finding himself in the dual role of diplomat and soldier.  His influence upon Turkish affairs was further notably diminished by his self-evident inclination to pursue German interests at every opportunity.

As an example of his true interests Liman attempted to persuade the Turkish government to pursue a military alliance with the Central Powers shortly after his appointment.  His inability to bring about immediate Turkish entrance to the war in August 1914 dismayed both him and his native government.

In August 1914 Liman accepted command of the Turkish First Army in the Bosporus.  The following March he was placed at the head of the Fifth Army sited at Gallipoli, and is widely credited with overseeing the failure of the Allied army's attempt to land there (under Sir Ian Hamilton).

Despite ensuing widespread popularity back home in Germany Liman's success made little impact in Turkey, and his influence remained minimal.  He was singularly unsuccessful in his attempts to prevent the Armenian massacres or to persuade War Minister Enver Pasha to cease military operations in the Caucasus in 1916.

February 1918 saw Liman in command of a combined Turkish-German force on the Palestine Front.  He was however swamped by Edmund Allenby's much larger British force in the September 1918 Battle of Megiddo (narrowly avoiding being captured in bed while in Nazareth).

With the armistice Liman returned to Constantinople to oversee the repatriation of German forces.  He was briefly arrested by the British on suspicion of war crimes in February 1919 but released in August, at which point he announced his retirement.

He died on 22 August 1929 in Munich at the age of 74.

A "lazy liz" was a heavy artillery shell fired by the Allied battleship Queen Elizabeth.

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