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Legal status Military alliance

The Central Powers (German language: Mittelmächte; Hungarian language: Központi hatalmak; Turkish language: İttifak Devletleri or Bağlaşma Devletleri; Bulgarian language: Централни сили, Tsentralni sili ) were one of the two warring factions in World War I (1914–18), composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria. This alignment originated in the Triple Alliance, and fought against the Allied Powers that had formed around the Triple Entente.

Member states

The Central Powers consisted of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. In 1915, the Kingdom of Bulgaria later joined the alliance. The name "Central Powers" is derived from the location of these countries; all four (including the other groups that supported them except for Finland and Lithuania) were located between the Russian Empire in the east and France and the United Kingdom in the west. Finland, Azerbaijan, and Lithuania joined them in 1918 before the war ended and after the Russian Empire collapsed.

Allies and Central Powers in the First World War
     Allied colonies, dominions, territories or occupied territory
     Central powers
     Central powers colonies or occupied territory
     Neutral countries

The Central Powers were composed of the following nations:[1]

  • Austria-Hungary Austro-Hungarian Empire: entered the war on 28 July 1914
  •  German Empire (including German colonial forces): 1 August 1914
  •  Ottoman Empire: secretly 2 August 1914; openly 29 October 1914
  • Bulgaria Kingdom of Bulgaria: 14 October 1915
Economic statistics of the Central Powers[2]
Population Land GDP
German Empire (plus colonies), 1914 67.0m (77.7m) 0.5m km2 (3.5m km2) $244.3b ($250.7b)
Austro-Hungarian Empire, 1914 50.6m 0.6m km2 $100.5b
Ottoman Empire, 1914 23.0m 1.8m km2 $25.3b
Kingdom of Bulgaria, 1915 4.8m 0.1m km2 $7.4b
Emirate of Jabal Shammar, 1918 ? ? ?
Central Powers total in 1914 151.3m 6.0m km2 $376.6b
Military statistics of the Central Powers[3]
Mobilized Killed in action Wounded Missing in action Total casualties Percent of casualties
German Empire 13,250,000 1,808,546 4,247,143 1,152,800 7,208,489 66%
Austro-Hungarian Empire 7,800,000 922,500 3,620,000 2,200,000 6,742,500 86%
Ottoman Empire 2,998,321 325,000 400,000 250,000 975,000 34%
Kingdom of Bulgaria 1,200,000 75,844 153,390 27,029 255,263 21%
Emirate of Jabal Shammar 9,000 ? ? ? ? ?
Central Powers total 25,257,321 3,131,890 8,419,533 3,629,829 15,181,252 66%

Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria

Following the outbreak of war in Europe during August 1914, the Ottoman Empire intervened at the end of October by taking action against Russia, resulting in declarations of war by the Triple Entente.

Bulgaria, still resentful after its defeat in July 1913 at the hands of Serbia, Greece, Romania and the Ottoman Empire, was the last nation to enter the war against the Entente, invading Serbia in conjunction with German and Austro-Hungarian forces in October 1915.

Other movements

Other movements supported the efforts of the Central Powers for their own reasons, such as the Irish Nationalists who launched the Easter Rising in Dublin in April 1916; they referred to their "gallant allies in Europe". In 1914, Józef Piłsudski was permitted by Germany and Austria-Hungary to form independent Polish legions. Piłsudski wanted his legions to help the Central Powers defeat Russia and then side with France and the UK and win the war with them. During the years 1917 and 1918, the Finns under C.G.E. Mannerheim and Lithuanian nationalists fought Russia for a common cause. With the Soviet Russia aggression of late 1917, the government of Ukraine sought a military protection first from the Central powers and later from the armed forces of the Entente. The Ottoman Empire also had its own allies in Azerbaijan and the Northern Caucasus. The three nations fought alongside each other under the Army of Islam in the Battle of Baku.

Military deaths of the Central Powers.

Armistice and treaties

Bulgaria signed an armistice with the Allies on 29 September 1918, following a successful Allied advance in Macedonia. The Ottoman Empire followed suit on 30 October 1918 in the face of British and Arab gains in Palestine and Syria. Austria and Hungary concluded ceasefires separately during the first week of November following the disintegration of the Habsburg Empire and the Italian offensive at Vittorio Veneto; Germany signed the armistice ending the war on the morning of 11 November 1918 after the Hundred Days Offensive, and a succession of advances by New Zealand, Australian, Canadian, Belgian, British, French and US forces in north-eastern France and Belgium. There was no unified treaty ending the war; the Central Powers were dealt with in separate treaties.[4]


Central Powers by date of Armistice
Flag Name Armistice
Bulgaria Bulgaria 29 September 1918
Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire 30 October 1918
Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary 4 November 1918
German Empire German Empire 11 November 1918


Central Powers treaties
Flag Name Treaty
Austria Austria Treaty of Saint-Germain
Kingdom of Bulgaria Bulgaria Treaty of Neuilly
Weimar Republic Germany Treaty of Versailles
Hungary Hungary Treaty of Trianon
Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
Treaty of Sèvres followed by
Treaty of Lausanne


Kaiser Wilhelm II, Mehmed V, Franz Joseph: The three emperors of the Central Powers.

Kaiser Wilhelm II, Franz Joseph, Mehmed V, Czar Ferdinand: The leaders of the Quadruple Alliance.

A postcard depicting the leaders of the Central Powers.

Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary

German Empire German Empire

Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire

Kingdom of Bulgaria Bulgaria

Jabal Shammar

  • Saʿūd I bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz: Amir of Jabal Shammar

Dervish State

Bandera Darfur.svg Sultanate of Darfur

  • Ali Dinar: Sultan of Darfur

Azerbaijan Azerbaijan

  • Fatali Khan Khoyski: Prime Minister of Azerbaijan from May 28, 1918 to April 14, 1919
  • Nasib Yusifbeyli: Prime Minister of Azerbaijan from April 14, 1919 to April 1, 1920
  • Samad bey Mehmandarov: Azerbaijani General of the Artillery in the Azerbaijani and Russian armies, as well as Minister of France of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic
  • Ali-Agha Shikhlinski: Artillery general of Azerbaijan

See also


  1. Meyer, G.J. (2007). A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918. Delta Trade Paperback. ISBN 0-553-38240-3. 
  2. S.N. Broadberry, Mark Harrison. The Economics of World War I. illustrated ed. Cambridge University Press, 2005, pp. 9-10.
  3. Spencer Tucker. The European powers in the First World War: an encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis, 1996, pg. 173.
  4. Davis, Robert T., ed (2010). U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security: Chronology and Index for the 20th Century. 1. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger Security International. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-313-38385-4. 

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