Otto Liman von Sanders (1855-1929)


German General Otto Liman von Sanders was the commander of the Ottoman Fifth Army. He arrived in Turkey at the end of 1913 at the request of the Young Turks to reorganize the Ottoman military. In a report to the Ottoman authorities, von Sanders wrote that the entire Greek population of Ayvalik must be deported immediately to the Interior otherwise "he would be unable to take the responsibility for the security of the army." During a tour of Ayvalik in early 1915 to inspect the military, after witnessing crowds of people, von Sanders turned to the acting commander, and said: "..have you still not thrown these infidels into the sea?"1

The deportation of the Greek population of Ayvalik to the Turkish Interior was carried out on von Sanders' orders and many died as a result.  The Ayvalik deportations took place in 1917, the destinations being Yenişehir and Bilecik located 350km and 400km to the interior. A 1919 news report recorded the arrest of von Sanders for Greek and Armenian massacres. It wrote:  

Sanders is first of the German commanders to be seized for trial for violation of the rules of warfare. And he’s going to be tried in Constantinople, too. Sanders was in command of the Turkish forces which were operating under direction of Berlin. He is known to have sanctioned Turkish Atrocities, including massacres of Greeks and Armenians.

Sanders had been arrested by British forces when he attempted to return to Germany in February 1919. He was held at Malta for six months as a war criminal. Liman von Sanders retired from the army in October 1919 and died in Munich on 22 August 1929.

1. Sakkaris, G. The History of Kydonies (Ayvalik). Athens 1920, p.219.


Further Reading:
15 Mar 1919: First Hun Held for Atrocities, The Evening Independent
Deutschland über Allah!
Atatürk in the Nazi Imagination
Two War Years in Constantinople
Ayvalik and the Ayvalik Islands (Moschonisia)




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