From door knocking to suspicion: 250 years of Turkey-Germany relations

'Man qara'a bâban walağğa walağa', this old Arabic phrase means 'continuously knocking on a door will get you inside'. However, what does it mean for this topic?

From door knocking to suspicion: 250 years of Turkey-Germany relations

Bunyamin Keskin / World Bulletin 

Ahmed Resmî Efendi, an Ottoman diplomat from Crete, was born around 1700. Without going into details about his personal development, let us have a look at his inspirational career as a key figure in Ottoman-German relations.

Searching for a Strong Alliance

Emperor Frederick II (The Great) had started a number of wars against other Christian rulers in Europe. When he realised that Britain, Denmark, Poland and other countries were forming an alliance with the Ottoman Empire, he began to 'knock on the door' of the Sultan, Mustafa III. He sent him gifts and presents along with ambassadors. This carried on for such a long time that Mustafa III decided to send Ahmed Resmî to Prussia, as the first ambassador. With him, he sent twice the number of gifts that he received.

In the middle of July 1763, Ahmed Resmî started his journey to Prussia. On November 9, 1763, he and his companions arrived in Berlin with many horses, camels, gold and gifts. In his 'Prusya Sefaretnamesi' (report of ambassadorship in Prussia), Ahmed Resmî describes the reaction of the Germans when the Ottomans arrived in Berlin. People came from long distances to see a Muslim for the first time in their life. They did this to find answers to questions like “who are the Muslims and Ottomans?”, “how do Muslims eat?”, “how do they ride on horses?” and “how do they live?”. Ahmed Resmî Effendi noticed that the Germans were very friendly and hence he presented them with gifts from the Ottomans.

First Meeting with Frederick

Before Ahmed Resmî describes his first meeting with Frederick II, he noted a very important point in describing Frederick's struggle against other states: 'The wars between Christian states are like god’s creation of seasons: they will not change and will only end with the end of the world.'

The Ottomans began to prepare the gifts in front of the palace. They built their tents and furnished them with beautiful Ottoman furniture. The horses were decorated with lavishing ornaments. Finally, Ahmed Resmî arrived at the palace and gave the letter of Sultan Mustafa III to Frederick while saying:

'At this moment, I will give you the letter of friendship of our Sultan Mustafa, who fills this world with his throne and the Ottoman glory and beauty. He wishes friendship between his empire and Prussia. Therefore, he has sent these beautiful presents worthy for great friends like you.'

Frederick thanked him and was very surprised by the presents. This propelled him to do something that he had never done before: he gave the Ottoman helpers, who were sent to the Prussian palace, gold and other gifts.

In April 1764, the Ottoman ambassador went to the palace for the last time to receive the letter of Frederick to Sultan Mustafa III. As he bided farewell, he stated that he 'wishes that the friendship will last for a very long time and hopes his messages will arrive to Istanbul.'

Message from Ahmed Resmî for the future

In this term of ambassadorship, Ahmed Resmî wrote every detail regarding Prussia and its citizens. At the end of his 'Sefaretnâme' he wrote these important sentences, which both the Turks and Germans, especially Turks in Germany, should consider and think about:

“The fact that the things I am about to write are known by everyone, is evident that some of my friends will object to my need to write a long description. Even now, I can explain why. Twenty or thirty years later, there will no longer be talented persons that know these subjects or serve in this path. However, those that will know will come into conflict with their narration and knowledge, hence those that are trustworthy will be few and rare as the phoenix. It is for this reason that putting every story that is experienced and every incident that is witnessed on paper while our pen is strong and our hands can write is important and will result in my name being uttered with respect. From time to time, when the need to appeal to written events and documents arises, the incapability of the writers or the narrators, and the lack of interest in the listeners and hearers catch the attention. It is known by everyone that there are many events that should be narrated and remembered and yet have been thrown to the corner of negligence and forgotten. Now, just as our ancestors and colleagues have written the events and taught and informed us of 1000 year old affairs, it is our duty to humanity to write about the events of our sultan, who is the helping hand of God, for the future generation. May God almighty render these times of joy and blessing with many conquests and tidings for our country and its people with His protective shadow of compassion and protection. Amen!

Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Kasım 2013, 14:49