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Remembered Today:

Expedition Klein


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Having recently obtained an Prussian Iron Cross document to War Volunteer Karl Kirchner who served in Expedition Klein in Persia, I wondered if anyone here had undertaken any research on the subject.

The expedition  was supposed to encourage Persian and Arab tribes to rebel against the English and to attack the oil pipelines in Persia and the Middle East. It was subordinate to the Federal Foreign Office. It had 70 German specialists, including the archaeologists Conrad Preusser, Walter Bachmann and Hans Lührs, engineers and merchants, took part, as well as former Muslim prisoners of war and around 300 Austrian prisoners of war escaped from the Russians. 


I have tried to find a history of this unit in English and wondered if anyone has seen anything in there travels (the official war history "Persia" has mention of Klein)

Any help gratefully received  


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I show him as;


Klein Fritz    Capt (Maj)    staff Mesopotamia 1915 commanded Expedition Klein    1915-    Mesopotamia with Lt Luhrs in Expedition Klein in Persia attacked British oil installations in Kuzestan in 1915 later moved to free Austrian PoW's from Russians Mesopotamia (not identified) 

Lühr (Lührs) Hans     ObLt    Pilot Airforce Iran seferinde görevli sonra (staff to General Goltz) 'un yaninda pilot (After the officer in Expedition Klein the Iranian Expedition in Persia (staff to General Goltz))    1915-17    in Expedition Klein in Persia attacked British oil installations in Kuzestan in 1915 Mesopotamia (not identified)? 

Sorry but I don't show a Karl Kirchner 


Large numbers of Germans were in Mesopotamia during the war and in Iraq or Persia like this man;


Bopp Arthur    Col to Maj Gen    6. Ordu da görevli Iran'a giden birliklerin komutani (1st Army 1915 to 6th Army commander of the troops (Staff headquarters of Field Marshal Colmar von der Goltz) to Iran independent conduct of operations in Persia 1918-17) Mesopotamia    1915-18    (1860 at Stuttgart died 1928) Württemberg Ulan regiment "King William I" (2nd Württembergisches) No. 20 to Maj 1902 to WWI as Landwehr Infantry Regt No 78 & 30 to Mesopotamia 10-15 to CO 52nd Württemberg Landwehr Infantry Brigade support the White Army in the battles against the Bolsheviks in Ukraine retired 11-18 


You maybe aware that Klein and his forces were under command of this Ottoman officer during the attacks against the Oilfields of Southern Persia, and the arrival of the British in Mesopotamia;


Süleyman Askeri Bey    38th Div 11-14 & Governor of Basra     LtCol    WIA 12-4-15    born 1884 in Prizren Kosovo Vilayet died – April 14, 1915 in Berjasiya) graduated from the War Academy in 1905 to Turco-Italian War of 1911-12 & was founder of Teskilat-i Mahsusa Balkan Wars was c.o.s. of Harput Redif Division 1913 reported LtCol Süleyman Askeri Bey 11-14 WIA 12-4-15 at Shaiba Mesopotamia frustrated and deserted by most of his followers suicide soon after in Basra brother LtCol Hasan Askeri commanded 2nd Div


Another Ottoman mentioned for the Neyermayer Exp is;


Huseyin Rauf Bey (Orbay) AKA Raouf Bey     took part in the German mission to Afghanistan in 1915/16 stopped near the town of Kharind near Kermanshah 6-15 to Naval Minister     Col Naval        (27 July 1881 – 16 July 1964) (Rauf Bey Müfrezesi) to Turco-Italian War of 1911-12 & captain of Battleship Hamidiye during Balkan Wars during WWI Enver Pasha wanted him to organize the detachment in August 1914 (Rauf Bey Müfrezesi) the detachment was demolished in Sept 1915 to Chief of the Staff of the Turkish Navy 1915 member of the Turkish delegation in Brest-Litovsk in 1918 to Naval Minister (from Cemal Pasa) part Ottoman delegation for Mudros Oct 1918 arrested by the British when Istanbul was occupied and he was kept in Malta  joined the Turkish Grand Assembly as a deputy from Sivas and was appointed as the Prime Minister on July 12, 1922 to London as the Turkish Ambassador in 1942

Sorry I'll check some more sources for you





Edited by stevebecker
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Steve thats great and really appreciated....if you turn up any books or recommend any please let me know, again many thanks, Paul

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books on Persia during WW I;

Like Hidden Fire

Operations in Persia, official History written in the 1920s

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From what I can find the Germans had a number of Consuls in Persia at the time, and when the war started they became active against the British.


The Germans sent two expendions to Persia, one the Neyermayer to Persia and Afganistan to raise them against the British in India, and the Klein Expedition into Persia to attack the oil output of the British.


The Klein exp came under command of the Ottomans (under the Ottoman officer I show above), who held his forces back and only allowed limited raids into Perisa


After the British landed around Basra in 1915, Klein was given more to do but to late to do only small damage to the Oil fields. (As the pro British Arabs in these areas were against the Germans, being well paid to be pro British).


He was retained in Iraq during 1915 and given the job to help release Austrian PoWs held by the Russians by raids into northern Persia.


I am unsure about this part of the story, as to where these Austrians were held?


Either way his name disappears after Gotz comes to Bagadad, so he may have been placed on staff like Luhrs?


Sorry there's not a lot out there.





Edited by stevebecker
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Again Steve...great information, many thanks for all your help...🍻

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Again Steve many thanks 


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The book "Unter Wüstensöhnen - die deutsche Expedition Klein im Ersten Weltkrieg" (by Veit Veltzke) mentions a "Herbert Richard Clemens Kirchner".

Employee of the Baghdad Railway, war volunteer, served 1901-1904 Saxon Ulanen Regiment No.17. Joined the expedition on February 1, 1915, at the same time promoted to Unteroffizier and Ottoman Wachtmeister, later Vizewachtmeister, died in France on November 29, 1918

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On 05/04/2020 at 15:12, leibregiment said:

I have tried to find a history of this unit in English and wondered if anyone has seen anything in there travels

There are mentions of the Klein Expedition and its various participants in 'The Berlin-Baghdad Express' by Sean McMeekin

and one of the author's footnotes references this German book


Gegenspieler des Obersten Lawrence by Hans Lührs


Berlin: Vanguard,




I understand the contents to be :- The Holy War - Suleiman Askari-Bey - First foray into Persia - Preparation for the great adventure - Attacked by the English - The oil line is destroyed - The attack on Ahwas - Sergeant Nielsen's feat and death - Return from Persian Arabistan and the fall of Amara - Adventurous escape - Wassmuss - Niedermayer - Hentig - Diplomatic trip to unknown Luristan - Ending in Persia - The drama of Kut.


Edited by michaeldr
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Micheal, thanks mate very interesting.


I show these men named Kirchner in the war in Turkey


Kirchner     Lt deR    Yildirim ordusunda 11. Avci taburunda (Yildirim is at his 11th battalion (11th Jager Bn) - Reserve-Jäger-Bataillon 11    1917-18    (not identified)? spelling name?
Kirchner Hans    Kraftfarher Dvr    713th MT Co (Kraftwagenpark) Armee-Kraftwagen-Kolonne 713    1917-18     (1894 at Berlin died 2-11-18) grave at Tarabya Istanbul cause not stated? 
Kirchner Johannes    ObLtzS to Kapt-Lt Marine    UC 13 Constantinople Flotilla 1915 Went aground in a storm E of the Bosphorus 29-11-15 & UC 23 Constantinople Flotilla 1916-17 to U 43 III Flotilla 1918 U boat    1916-17    (1888 died 1945)  19 ships sunk with a total of 31,307 GRT
Kirchner Josef     Lt deR     Pion.Kp. 205 - Pionier-Kompagnie 205    1917-18    (born at Neiße O. S ) WIA 11-16
Kirchner Karl        Persia        served in Expedition Klein in Persia Mesopotamia

I did find this man 


Kirchmair (Maximilian)    ObLt (Capt)    Irak'ta (in Iraq) Mesopotamia    1916-18    Mesopotamia possibly (born at München ) Fußartillerie-Regiment 1 WIA 12-14 & 5-18 

As stated there are a lot of Germans in this part of the country, helping the Ottomans and later fighting the British.



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Michael, Steve...again excellent information...but note nothing apart from “Karl” being part of the Klein expedition....any thoughts on where to go from here?

Edited by leibregiment
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  • 3 years later...


I don't know if any use but I notice a comment in the BOWH Persian Operations which may deal with Klein and the Austrian PoW's

It appears reports reached British HQ that some two hundred AH PoW's had arrived, shown as Austrains PoW 's 200 men escaped Russian camps gathered at Isfarhan Persia

The BOWH states they were rescued by Persian Officals?

These it was stated were being formed into a force by the Germans along with the Swedish formed and officered Persian Gendmans?

While these were never confirmed the arrival of Russian Cossacks put pay to any ideas here, but the PoW's disappear from the records?

Since Klein and his small force were still at Kermanshah since Sept 1915, I don't see him advancing to Isfarhan to gather them into the fold.


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I notice the BOWH Persia stated a number of times that AH Pow's and later German PoWs escaped from Russian camps are gathering in Persia in there thousands?

All this puts the wind up the British, as the BOWH states these are fighting for either the Persians and later the Reds around the Caucusus after the Russian collaspe.

They seam to think these are wining battles for the Reds

So I don't know if we cane rely on the British accounts here's

As they seam to think the war in Persia was due to the Germans pushing to Afganistan?

The small British landing force was to save Persia from the Germans, not for the Oil.

In fact the BOWH seams to gloss over any mention of oil?

Both the British and Germans were paying out around 1 million pounds or Marks, a month in Persia 



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  • 1 month later...


Having looked further into this small force, a mate (Holger), sent me these names of members, but on checking the 

Verlustlisten 1. Weltkrieg

I failed to find them there?

Do you have any record of them?

Gramberg Hinrich    Lt Eng Marine    Erster Ingenieur (Sea) Mining Ingenieur (Engineer officer) to block the Tigris Stab Iraq Command att Suleiman Askari Bey Ottoman forces at Basra 1915 and served in Expedition Klein in Persia Mesopotamia 1914-15 to Offiziersstellvertretter / Osmanischer Leutnant 1-3-15 Minen-Offizier unter Leutnant Müller an der Kurna-Front    1914-15    (not identified)? Ex Maschinisten-Maat 1. Kompanie II. Werft-Division Wilhelmshafen V, Steuermann der Reserve (Ship's officer of Hapag-Lloyd steamer “Ekbatana“ Confiscated by the Turks at the beginning of the war and was sunk at the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab at Basra together with two other ships to block the river mouth) Gefangenschaft seit Mai 1915 (PoW 5-15

Reul Andreas    VzWachtmeister    Stab Iraq Command att Suleiman Askari Bey Ottoman forces at Basra 1915 and served in Expedition Klein in Persia Mesopotamia 1914-15    1914-15    (from Bavaria) from Bayrischen Chevauleger-Regiment No 7 to Mesopotamia schwer verwundet bei Gurna WIA 5-15 & PoW 5-15 at Gurna (not identified)? 

Sonderegger Gottfried     Vizefeldwebel    Stab Iraq Command att Suleiman Askari Bey Ottoman forces at Basra 1915 and served in Expedition Klein in Persia Mesopotamia 1914-15    1914-15    (not identified)? Schweizer Staatsbürger, früher Unteroffizier der Schweizer Armee to Ingenieur bei der Bagdad-Bahn Mesopotamia verwundet WIA 5-15 & PoW 5-15 

These men were part of the Klein force, that around that time were kept by the Ottoman commander for his own use, instead of out blowing up British Oil fields

A number were placed in a sea/river mining operation to mine the Tigris to stop British forces sailing up the Shat el Arab and the river

The all appear either wounded and captured by British forces possibly around the fighting at 1st Rota (Ruta) North of Qurna  31 to 2 June May 15

Do the British report there capture, as it may appear the Germans did not?

A Check of the British OWH Vol 1 for this area, fails to mention the capture of Germans, while on the 31 May and 1 June Ottoman mine warfare Officers were reported captured?

Edited by stevenbecker
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Steve, fantastic research "..I sense a book on the subject in the future, thanks

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Latest research has thrown a number of names of Germans in this force.

British OWH shows that there was possibly between 30 to 60 Germans in this force.

While the force may of had around that numbers not all were Germans. Many odds and sodds were sent and well and Ottomans as drivers and carriers 

At most possibly around 30 to 40 Germans were all that were in the force

Names I have found so far, all confirmed / corrected Aug 2023

Andreae or Andrae or Andre Ernst Walter     Capt / Hptm Dr Eng
Bachmann Walter    Lt Dr Prof Eng
Back Ulrich or Hermann    Lt
Basser (?)    Lt
Bauer Fritz Michael    Einjährigen-Freiwilliger
Blumenau    Lt Eng
Buddensieg Gottfried     Dr 
Bünte Walter    Lt Dr Eng
Eckström    Wachtmeister
Erdmann E. Hugo    ObLt deR
Graeff or Gräfe     Lt
Gramberg Hinrich    Lt Eng Marine
Härle    Dr
Hauck Karl Walter    Lt deR
Hoffmann Karl    Lt (Capt) 
Kirchner Herbert Richard Clemens    Unteroffizier
Kirchner Karl    Lt
Klein Fritz    Capt / Hptm (Maj)
Köhler Fritz    Unteroffizier deR
Koldewey Robert Johann    Dr Prof Eng (not part of Klein)
Krischen Fritz    Dr 
Lembrecht Wilhelm    Vizefeldwebel Marine
Lühr (Lührs) Hans     ObLt
Maresch Paul     Dr 
Müller Eugen Ludwig    Lt de L Eng
Müller-Herrings    ObLt
Nielsen    Vizefeldwebel
Preußer (Preusser) Conrad Ludwig Ernst     Lt 
Reul Andreas    VzWachtmeister
Sarre Friedrich Paul Theodor     Capt / Hptm deR Dr Prof 
Schacht Eddy Charles    Lt Dr
Schadow    Lt
Schencker    Lt
Sonderegger Gottfried     Vizefeldwebel
Stern (Stern-Rubarth) Edgar Paul    Lt de R
Thiel    Lt
Thieme     Lt
Uth Heinrich     ObLt (Capt)
Vollrath Hugo    Dr 
Wachtsmuth Friedrich    Dr

As shown a number of Germans from Civilian ships were attached for peroids, like Gramberg, its unknown if they stayed in the Force, or were attached to the Euphrat Flussabteilung (the Euphrates River Detachment) and or the same for the Tigris.

Just as you close one door another opens.

A number of those above appear to be from what was a working team at Babylon called deutschen Mesopotamien-Expedition (Assur) 

Most if not all were  Conscripted for military service by the German consul in Baghdad in Aug 1914

Headed by Dr R. Koldewey names like Buddenseig, Wachtsmuth, Luhr, Maresch, Jordan, Bunte and Bachmann, many other dirt diggers (archaeologist) serving in the Deutsche Militär-Mission visited and worked with the team like Preusser and Andrae.

All appear to have served at one time with Klein, many went back to work at Babylon during 1915 to 1917 when the British forces put an end of the team.


Edited by stevenbecker
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