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The Central Powers (German: "Mittelmächte"; Hungarian: "Központi hatalmak"; Turkish: "İttifak Devletleri"; Bulgarian: "Централни сили") was one of the two sides that participated in World War I, the other being the Entente Powers.

Member states

The Central Powers consisted of the German Empiremarker, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Bulgaria. The name "Central Powers" is derived from the location of these countries.

All four were located between the Russian Empiremarker in the east and the French Third Republic and the United Kingdommarker in the west. The alliances made between these four nations were a result of Germany's inability to gain power on the "world stage". The Germans then decided to focus on creating an alliance of Mitteleuropa, which means Central Europe. The Balkans were originally desired as members of this alliance, but as the Balkans formed separate, autonomous states this was deemed impossible.

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 these nations:


On 7 October 1879, Germany and Austria-Hungary became allies and formed the Dual Alliance. On 20 May 1882, they were joined by the Kingdom of Italy in what was known as the Triple Alliance. This alliance was intended to be limited to defensive purposes only.

When World War I began, the petition made by Germany and Austria-Hungary for Italian intervention was rejected by the Italian Government on the grounds of these two countries declaring war on the Kingdom of Serbiamarker, rather than taking defensive action against it.

Italy eventually entered World War I on May 23, 1915, but it fought against Germany and Austria-Hungary rather than with them, because of the land promised them in the Treaty of London made with France and Britain. This treaty promised Italy the Italian lands of Habsburg Empire and territories in Asia Minor, Africa and the Balkans.

Ottoman Empire joins

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 joins

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 Dublinmarker in April 1916; they referred to their "gallant allies in Europe". In 1914 Józef Piłsudski was permitted by the Austrians 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 the Ukrainianmarker and Lithuanianmarker nationalists fought Russia for a common cause. The Ottoman Empire also had its own allies in Azerbaijan and the Northern Caucasusmarker. The three nations fought alongside each other under the Army of Islam in the Battle of Baku.

Military deaths of the Central Powers.


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 Syriamarker. Austriamarker and Hungary concluded ceasefires separately during the first week of November following the disintegration of the Habsburg Empire and the Italian offensive; Germany signed the armistice ending the war on the morning of 11 November 1918 after the Allied Hundred Days Offensive, a succession of advances by New Zealandmarker, Australian, Canadianmarker, Belgianmarker, Britishmarker, Frenchmarker and USmarker forces in north-eastern France and Belgium.

Central Powers by date of Armistice
Flag Name Armistice
Ottoman Empire
German Empiremarker

Military leaders

German Empire
Ottoman Empire


See also


  1. The Triple Alliance (First 8 Articles) The World War I Document Archive, Brigham Young University Library, accessed 2008-04-21
  2. Triple Alliance, 1882 Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, accessed 2008-04-21
  3. Hunt, Lynn. The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures. 3. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009.

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