The Anglo-Ethiopian Society

Lecture - German and Ottoman plots to involve Ethiopia in World War One

Martin Plaut

Wednesday 25th October 2017

6:30pm, Warburg Lecture Room, Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AB - Public lecture (all welcome)


A hundred years ago, Germany planned to draw Ethiopia into World War One, just as Britain used the Arab tribes to attack the Ottomans and their German allies.

In January 1915 a dhow slipped quietly out of the Arabian port of Al-Wajh. On board were a group of Germans and Turks, under the guise of the Fourth German Inner-Africa Research Expedition. Led by Leo Frobenius, adventurer, archaeologist and personal friend of the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, its aim was nothing less than to encourage Ethiopia to enter World War One. They hoped to persuade Lij Iyasu, heir to the Ethiopian throne, that he should send his troops into battle. Berlin believed that an Ethiopian attack on Djibouti, Eritrea or Sudan would draw British and allied forces away from the Suez canal. This was a crucial lifeline for the allies: Britain's "jugular vein" allowing troops and supplies to be brought from Australia, New Zealand and India.

The Kaiser's aim came close to succeeding, and was only thwarted when the Ethiopian nobility and the Orthodox church, fearing that Iyasu had converted to Islam, overthrew the prince.

Martin Plaut, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and former Africa editor BBC World Service News, will talk about the evidence available of this plot, and of the ramifications, if it had succeeded.


Capacity at the venue is limited, so please reserve your place soon to avoid disappointment.

Eventbrite Tickets - German and Ottoman plots to involve Ethiopia in World War One - Lecture by Martin Plaut




First Published in News File Summer 2017

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