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S.M. Breslau

Captains and sailors of the German battleships Goeben and Breslau signing up for the Turkish Navy. After shelling Allied ports and sinking Allied ships in the Mediterranean, the two ships had entered Turkish waters at the Dardanelles on August 8, 1914. Germany said it had sold the ships to Turkey. Claiming the ships and their crews as Turkish allowed Turkey to maintain a veil of neutrality for a time. This was dropped on October 29 when the ships sank a Russian gunboat in the Crimean Black Sea port of Odessa. The postcard's caption compares the captain to Leonidas who died leading the Greeks at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 during Xerxes's invasion in the Second Persian War.
Text:
Gli eroi della Goeben e della Breslau
The heroes of the Goeben and Breslau 
- Desideran signori?
- Il testamento Vogliam dettar.
- Sono a' vosti comandi, Nobili cuori! All'epico cimento Leonida del mar, sarete grandi!
- Si; lo giuriam per tutti i patrii avelli: In fondo . . . scapperem ai Dardanelli.
- What do you wish, gentlemen?
- We want to dictate our wills.
- I am at your service, Noble hearts! In this epic ordeal, Leonidas of the sea, you will be great!
- Yes, we swear it on the graves of our countrymen: In the end … we will escape to the Dardanelles.

Captains and sailors of the German battleships Goeben and Breslau signing up for the Turkish Navy. After shelling Allied ports and sinking Allied ships in the Mediterranean, the two ships had entered Turkish waters at the Dardanelles on August 8, 1914. Claiming the ships and their crews as Turkish allowed Turkey to maintain a veil of neutrality for a time. This was dropped on October 29 when the ships sank a Russian gunboat in the Crimean Black Sea port of Odessa. The postcard's caption compares the captain to Leonidas who died leading the Greeks at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 during Xerxes's invasion in the Second Persian War.

Image text

Gli eroi della Goeben e della Breslau



The heroes of the Goeben and Breslau



- Desideran signori?

- Il testamento Vogliam dettar.

- Sono a' vosti comandi, Nobili cuori! All'epico cimento Leonida del mar, sarete grandi!

- Si; lo giuriam per tutti i patrii avelli: In fondo . . . scapperem ai Dardanelli.



- What do you wish, gentlemen?

- We want to dictate our wills.

- I am at your service, Noble hearts! In this epic ordeal, Leonidas of the sea, you will be great!

- Yes, we swear it on the graves of our countrymen: In the end … we will escape to the Dardanelles.

Other views: Larger

On August 4, the two German battleships of the German Mediterranean Squadron, Goeben and Breslau, which had been in the Mediterranean since the First Balkan War in 1912, fired on the French-Algerian ports of Bone and Phillipville. They attacked coaling ships further east off Messina, Italy, continued across the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas evading Allied warships, and, on August 8, entered Turkish waters in the Dardanelles Strait, one of the bodies of water separating Europe from Asia and leading to the Black Sea. The ships passed the forts that defended the strait along the northern and southern shores, crossed the Sea of Marmora, and, at the mouth of the Bosphorus leading to the Black Sea, anchored in Constantinople, capital of Turkey.

A neutral nation, Turkey was obligated to impound the vessel. Instead, Germany transferred the ships and their crews to Turkey, ostensibly as recompense for Britain's seizure of two ships being built for Turkey in Britain. Goeben became the Yavuz Sultan Selim, Breslau, the Midilli, and Rear Admiral Wilhelm Souchon, commander of the squadron, was given command of the Ottoman fleet.

Although both ships were superior to any Russian ship in the Black Sea, the battle cruiser Goeben, displacing five times the tonnage of the light cruiser Breslau, and with a crew three times as large, threatened British and French ships in the Mediterranean. With the two ships able to control the Black Sea, Russian exports of food and imports of war materiel was threatened. When Turkey joined the Central Powers, a critical sea lane was closed, and traffic between the western Allies and Russia was more heavily dependent on a land route through the neutral Balkan nations of Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania.

Breslau/Midilli was mined and sunk during the Battle of Imbros, January 20, 1918.

Breslau is a battleship.

A sample technology column chart graphic

Statistics for Breslau (2)

Type Statistic Source
Displacement in Tons 4,500 Tons Inventory Item 4528, images for Breslau
Crew in Men 400 Men Inventory Item 4528, images for Breslau