In 1915, at the height of World War I, the Central Powers sent a secret mission, led by Oskar Ritter von Niedermayer and Werner Otto von Hentig, to the court of the emir of Afghanistan, Habibullah Khan. Jointly operated by the governments of Germany and Turkey, the purpose of the mission was to persuade the emir to declare full independence from the British Empire, enter the war on the side of the Central Powers and attack British India. The ultimate aim was part of Hindu-German conspiracy to provoke a nationalist revolution in India which would undermine British power in the region. Britain saw this mission as a serious and credible threat - so much so that they tried to intercept the travellers in Persia, en route from Istanbul to Kabul and subsequently deployed their own intelligence and diplomatic strategies to ensure that Afghanistan would retain its neutral position. Although the Hentig-Niedermayer expedition was ultimately unsuccessful, it had lasting consequences and served as a sign of the continuing German infatuation with the Middle East and Central Asia, which had begun under Bismarck and continued through the interwar period, until World War II.
Written in a narrative style, this book provides a gripping account of the expedition, highlighting a previously little-known aspect of World War I.
Jules Stewart is a journalist, historian and author. His books include Madrid: The History; Albert: A Life; On Afghanistan's Plains: The Story of Britain's Afghan Wars (all I.B.Tauris); Crimson Snow: Britain's First Disaster in Afghanistan; The Savage Border: The Story of the North-West Frontier; Spying for the Raj: The Pundits and the Mapping of the Himalaya and The Khyber Rifles: From the British Raj to Al Qaeda. He lives in London.
The Kaiser, the Amir and the Viceroy We're Off to Join the Circus Into the Fearful Wasteland Saved by the War The Hindu Conspiracy The Germans are Back