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Central Powers

Zweibund - the Dual Alliance - Germany and Austria-Hungary united, were the core of the Central Powers, and here join hands. The bars of Germany's flag border the top left, and those of the Habsburg Austrian Empire and ruling house the bottom right.
Text:
Schulter an Schulter
Untrennbar vereint
in Freud und in Leid!'

Shoulder to shoulder
Inseparably united 
in joy and in sorrow!

Zweibund - the Dual Alliance - Germany and Austria-Hungary united, were the core of the Central Powers, and here join hands. The bars of Germany's flag border the top left, and those of the Habsburg Austrian Empire and ruling house the bottom right.

Image text

Schulter an Schulter

Untrennbar vereint

in Freud und in Leid!'



Shoulder to shoulder

Inseparably united

in joy and in sorrow!

Other views: Larger, Back

Running through the center of Europe, with France to the west and Russia to the east, the Central Powers were initially the Zweibund or Dual Alliance of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Images of the period show the two countries "had each other's back" with soldiers facing the Entente Allies on either side. Italy's declaration of neutrality removed the third leg of the Triple Alliance, and exposed the two countries to another potential enemy.

Turkey's entry into the war expanded the alliance to a new Triple Alliance, the Dreibund. By closing the Dardanelles to Allied shipping, Turkey also isolated Russia from its allies.

Italy's entry into the war as an Entente Ally brought the last European nation with any claim to be a Great Power into the war, and threatened Austria-Hungary.

Turkey was isolated by Allied Serbia and the neutral nations of the Balkans. The bitter Balkan Wars of 1912-13 left Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania with experienced, battle-hardened armies. The Allied landing in Salonica, Greece was opposed by its king and left its position unsettled.

With the Entente Allies stymied in Galipoli, and Russia driven back by the Gorlice-Tarnow Offensive, Bulgaria determined for the Central Powers, signing a secret treaty with Germany and Austria-Hungary on July 17, 1915, concluding a military pact with Germany September 6, and mobilizing on September 23.

As Germany and Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia, Bulgaria entered the war by striking at the Allies trying to come to her aid from Salonica, and by invading Serbia from the east.

Serbia fell. The Central Powers reached from the Baltic Sea to Arabia.