RUSSIAN ATTACKS ON ZONGULDAK IN WORLD WAR I (1914-1915)

Arda BAŞ

The importance of the city of Zonguldak for the Ottoman Empire grew in the 19th century when coal was discovered there. With its rich coal reserves, Zonguldak quickly drew attention of Western nations and it became even more important during World War I. The Ottoman Empire needed to meet a substantial portion of the coal needs of its capital İstanbul as well as its fleets from Zonguldak. The city’s coal mines constituted a significant factor in relieving Ottoman Empire under war conditions and in increasing its endurance. The Allied Powers, wishing to draw the Ottoman Empire out of the war quickly, advised their ally, Russia, to target coal mining and its transportation in Zonguldak. It was this recommendation that caused Russia to attack Zonguldak in its first operation in the Black Sea in World War I. In 1915, when England and France began their attacks on the Dardanelles Strait, Russia once again targeted Zonguldak in order to break Ottoman resistance in the Dardanelles front. This study aims to examine the strategic attacks by Russian fleets on Zonguldak in 1914-1915, and the events that occurred in the city in this period through a review of Ottoman archives. The main topics covered include the importance of attacks on Zonguldak within the framework of World War I as well as their effects on the city, and the measures taken by the Ottoman Empire aimed at securing Zonguldak coal mines which were among the most crucial energy resources near İstanbul, and efforts for recovery following the attacks.

Keywords: World War I, Zonguldak, Ottoman Empire, Russia, Black Sea.