The Outbreak of World War I (1962)
The British government didn't understand the deep insult (and expense) experienced by Turkey, in that those two ships had become a national obsession; on the same day that Britain officially notified Turkey that the ships were British property, Turkey formally aligned with Germany. Yet Turkey didn't actively do anything that would have been of assistance to Germany, such as declare war on Russia, or shut down Russia's access to-and-through the Black Sea, or compromise her overall neutrality with other nations . . . the Turkish government wanted to see how Germany performed in the early days of the war before fully committing herself as an ally.
On 3 August, 1914, Admiral Souchon, commander of the Goeben (pictured), was ordered to sail to Constantinople, as a show of good faith in the VERY recently agreed-upon alliance. Souchon wanted to restore his supply of coal in Italy, but Italy, still a neutral nation, refused to cooperate. In addition, the Goeben needed mechanical attention, especially with her main boilers. In order to break through to Constantinople past French & British ships, he needed the Goeben to perform at 100% capacity.
Souchon found a safe port at Messina in Sicily for repairs and coal. Churchill (the 1st Lord of the Admiralty) knew where the Goeben was located, but as of yet Britain and Germany were not at war (although by 3 August, Germany had declared war on France after entering Luxembourg and Belgium). Therefore, Churchill's orders to his ships in the Mediterranean were that they were not to be "brought into action versus a superior force". To Churchill at that point-in-time, the Austrian navy was that "Superior Force"; to the captains on the British warships, Churchill's orders meant that they could operate on their own discretion. Souchon was also in a position to act on his own discretion, in that his orders to sail to Constantinople were put on hold by Admiral Tirpitz; there was confusion as to whether the German-Turkish treaty had actually been formalized.
Souchon had almost reached North Africa, when once again he was ordered to go to Constantinople, but he was unwilling to do so until he bombarded the Algerian coast. When the Goeben shelled French positions in Algiers, Souchon raised the RUSSIAN flag, and his men were in (kind-of) Russian uniforms, in the hope that Germany wouldn't be readily identified for the attack. After that, Souchon headed east, back to Messina to resupply his battleship.
The French fleet assumed that the Goeben would continue west, and waited to engage the German warship; they had no idea that the Goeben was heading east on a portentous political mission that would result in intensifying and prolonging the war that had just started.
By that time there was a state of war between Germany and Britain, but the British could not attack the Goeben at Messina, since that was in the sphere of (still) neutral Italy. Since the British fleet couldn't enter the Strait of Messina, Admiral Milne ordered ships to patrol both exit points. However, Milne believed that the Goeben was going to head west, and only had one ship patrolling the eastern exit; Britain's best ships were not in the right location to intercept the Goeben.
Due to continued frustration by Italy's lack of cooperation, Souchon couldn't get enough coal in Messina to reach Constantinople. Then, amazingly, Souchon received orders from Admiral Tirpitz to once again place his mission to Constantinople on hold. Souchon was also informed that the Austrian navy would be of no assistance in the Mediterranean - in essence, Souchon was in command of a fleet of two ships, and it was up to him as what to do next.
Once the Goeben reached the Dardanelles, the burden was on the Turkish government whether to let the Goeben and the Breslau enter, and then to sail beyond that point. The military leader of Turkey, Enver Pasha ("The Young Turk", pictured), decided to let the Goeben and the Breslau enter the Dardanelles, and to be escorted to Constantinople. Pasha's next order was to instruct the forts guarding the entrance to the Dardanelles to fire on the British ships if they appeared. Once the Goeben and the Breslau were guided to Constantinople, the war that was just underway was guaranteed to become the nightmare of the Great War, featuring unfathomable slaughter and misery.
Due to the Goeben reaching Turkey, and forcing Turkey into war, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, and Italy (reluctantly allied with Germany) were drawn into the war. Since the Black Sea was shut down to Russian ships (Archangel was their only real port left, and it was frozen half of the year), Russia lost 98% of their exports, and 95% of its imports . . . the resulting economic catastrophe was a large factor in causing the Russian Revolution in 1917.
Also as a result of the Goeben, the ridiculously unnecessary and costly Battle of Gallipoli
occurred. Allied strength was diverted to campaigns in Mesopotamia, Suez, and Palestine, and the break-up of the Ottoman Empire occurred during the Great War . . . . all due to Admiral Souchon's decisions in command of the Goeben from August to November, 1914.