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Балканский мир (1778-1923 гг.)

Фотография andy4675 andy4675 19.03 2014

Revolution, War, and Political
Violence since 1878




From Berlin to Lausanne
The End o f Empire and the Demarcation
o f National Communities, 1878—1923
The Balkans at the beginning o f the present century made one think o f a
prospective gold rush. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that
they resembled communities living on the edge o f a large tract o f very
desirable public land that was about to be opened up and given to whomsoever
managed to put their stakes down first.1
(R. H. Markham, 1931)


In the sixty years between the Serbian revolt (1804) and the consolidation
o f a unified, autonomous Romanian state (1866), national movements
had arisen throughout the Balkans and rebellions had been launched with
the purpose o f creating sovereign states. These were achieved because o f
Ottoman decline and Great Power intervention in Balkan affairs. The following
five decades, the period bracketed by the Treaties o f Berlin (1878)
and Lausanne (1923) which concluded the Eastern Crisis and Greek-Turkish
War, respectively, is a seminal one in Balkan history. Most o f the Balkan
peoples gained independence, but this entailed profound upheaval, enormous
frontier changes, and the collapse o f empire and movement o f peoples.
In the many conflicts o f this period, the Great War was, viewed from a
Balkan perspective, but one o f many and not necessarily the most devastating;
the Balkan Wars (1912—13) and Greek—Turkish War (1919—23) were
more decisive in terms o f shaping political frontiers and the ethnographic
mosaic o f the region, as they were accompanied by mass violence designed
to reorder the region s fundamental national fabric. In some cases, entire
communities were expelled from large swathes o f Balkan territory; Muslim
populations disappeared or were reduced in number either through ethnic


cleansing or formal population exchanges. It was in this tumultuous period
that the Balkans became the maligned‘powder keg’ and‘cockpit o f Europe’ ,
acquiring a dubious image in the Western imagination as a zone o f endennc
violence, instability, and perfidy.2
The Balkans in the Shadow o f the Congress
o f Berlin
The year 1878 represents a watershed in Balkan political history, the birth o f
the independent Balkans. Greece had achieved independence in 1830, but
only in 1878 was independence conferred by the Great Powers on Serbia,
Romania, and Montenegro. Bulgaria gained autonomy. For all practical purposes
the Treaty o f Berlin ended the Ottoman Empire as a significant
European power. The European possessions o f the Ottoman Empire
consisted o f a narrow piece o f territory south o f the Balkan Mountains
extending from the Black Sea to the Adriatic; this was a far cry from the
potent empire that had once reached to the gates o f Vienna. None o f the
leaders o f the Balkan states believed in 1878 that their national unifications
had yet been completed. Expansionist foreign policies after 1878 reflected
the prevailing view among ruling nationalist elites that independence was
unfinished, and laid the groundwork for conflict because o f the increasingly
incongruous claims stemming from discordant national ideologies. Each
Balkan state aspired to further territory, demanding lands ruled by its people
in the distant past regardless o f the legitimacy o f comparable historical
claims by others or the fact that these lands were inhabited by peoples o f a
different religion or nationality. The result was latent belligerence directed
at the remnants o f the Ottoman Empire in Europe and war over how the
spoils should be divided.
The Congress o f Berlin cast a long shadow over the Balkans, its decisions
setting in motion forces that shaped Balkan politics well into the interwar
period. The Berhn settlement failed to provide long-term solutions to the
national aspirations o f the Balkan peoples. The Dual Monarchy occupied
Bosnia-Herzegovina while Great Britain acquired Cyprus, in order to balance
presumed Russian influence in newly autonomous Bulgaria. Serbia
was denied an opportunity to appropriate Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina,
and the sancak (district) o f Novi Pazar, and instead found itself in a lasting
albeit initially latent confrontation with the Dual Monarchy, which


eventually led to the Sarajevo assassination in June 1914. Greece had gained
new territories in Epirus and Thessaly, but the determination o f the new
borders was left to negotiation with the Ottomans. In July 1881 the Great
Powers compelled the Ottomans to surrender most o f Thessaly and part
o f Epirus, but Greek nationalists had hoped for Crete and the Aegean Islands,
and continued to dream o f Constantinople and much o f Anatolia. Bulgarians
were deeply aggrieved by the loss o f Eastern Rumelia and Macedonia,
which remained under Ottoman rule, the former as a semi-autonomous
province under international supervision and the latter as an integral component
ol the Sultan s remaining Balkan possessions. The Bulgarian state
was squeezed between the Danube and the Balkan Mountains, with access
to the Black Sea but denied the same to the Aegean. Notwithstanding the
impermanent nature o f San Stefano Great Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece were
sufficiently troubled by the possible emergence o f such a state at their
expense that they subsequendy pushed with new vigour their own claims
in Macedonia, with an eye to a future crisis that might necessitate the
redrawing o f Balkan frontiers.The Berlin setdement was greeted in Romania
with equal bitterness. Romania had declared war on the Ottoman Empire
in 1877, during the Russo-Turkish War, but nationalist opinion was incensed
by Russia’s desertion at both San Stefano and Berlin. Romania ceded to
Russia the province o f Bessarabia, a major grain-producing region which
commanded the Danube delta. This was seen as a violation o f Romanian
sovereignty, while the proffered compensation, the much poorer northern
Dobrudja populated by Muslim Tatars and Turks, was little recompense (see
Map 3). I ’he predominantly Muslim Albanians initiated their own national
movement in 1878, fearing the future partition o f their lands by Great Power
fiat. The Treaty o f Berlin had ended the Eastern Crisis but laid the underpinnings
for new frictions.
The Eastern Crisis also greatly contributed to the ethnic reordering o f
the Balkans and to the growth o f intercommunal tensions. A significant segment
o f the Muslim population o f the Bulgarian lands— be it Turkish,
Bulgarian, Circassian, or Tatar— now became a displaced population. Many
were resetded in other parts o f the Balkans, like Macedonia and Kosovo,
while others fled to Anatoha. Likewise several Orthodox Macedonians and
Bulgarians left Macedonia for autonomous Bulgaria.3 As a result o f the
Eastern Crisis, Serbia expanded to the south-east, acquiring the town o f Nis
and adjoining territories. This resulted in an exodus o f 70,000 Mushms, the
majority oi whom were Albanians.They moved primarily to Kosovo, where


relations were strained with local Orthodox Serbs, some o f whom departed
for independent Serbia.4 In 1881 Greece acquired Thessaly, which at the
time had at least 35,000 Muslims. Although the Greek government ostensibly
worked to integrate these Muslims, within years they had all left for
Ottoman territory.5 Intercommunal tensions undoubtedly intensified across
the remaining Ottoman territories in the Balkans. Muslim refugees brought
with them tales o f persecution, while Orthodox communities recalled their
own recent victimization at the hands o f Ottoman troops and irregulars.
These personal memories o f recent traumas formed the basis o f new
collective memories.The desire for vengeance and a willingness to participate
in violence may have been stronger as a result, as the bonds between old
communities were shattered and new cleavages were formed.
Throughout much o f this period, the Dual Monarchy was the dominant
power in the Balkans. It used the Berlin settlement to extend its influence
through its occupation o f Bosnia-Herzegovina (1878), secret alliances with
Serbia (1881) and Romania (1883, renewed in 1902 and 1913) by which it
offered protection in return for economic and political concessions. It also
exercised considerable influence in Bulgaria and among the Albanians.
Extending its commercial influence, the Dual Monarchy erected a network o f
railways that culminated in the opening o f the Orient Express (1888), giving
it a stronger position than Russia until at least 1903. Russia was the least satisfied
with the Berlin settlement. It had based its entire position in the Balkans
on support o f Bulgaria, but this proved problematic as Bulgarian domestic
developments undermined Russian influence in the short term. In 1881 Russia
renewed with Germany and the Dual Monarchy the Three Emperors’ League.
Although it lapsed in 1886, Austro-Russian cooperation in the Balkans continued
into the early twentieth century. In April 1897 the Habsburg and
Russian emperors, Franz Joseph and Nicholas II, reached an understanding o f
far-reaching significance.They agreed in the short term to maintain the status
quo and advocate reform to mitigate the risk o f upheaval, even as they agreed
that Ottoman rule would eventually end. The disposition o f Bosnia-
Herzegovina and Novi Pazar was discussed, the creation o f an Albanian state
envisaged, and the partition o f the remaining Ottoman territories by the
Balkan states anticipated.6 Austro-Russian cooperation found expression in
the Muraviev—Goluchowski agreement (1897), which effectively placed the
Balkans ‘on ice’ for the next decade.7 But as the Great Powers drifted into
adversarial alliances by 1907, the escalation o f their rivalries gave Balkan developments
greater salience and ultimately set the stage for the events o f 1914.


The Politics o f Modernization in the Balkans
After 1878 the formidable tasks o f state- and nation-building in the Balkans
were carried out simultaneously with economic modernization; the former
took precedence over the latter as the nation-state worked to create the
preconditions for economic transformation. State- and nation-building
were costly enterprises, entailing an expensive commitment to creating and
sustaining administrations and militaries, providing for mass education and
modern communication networks. As one contemporary observer remarked,
commenting on Bulgarian circumstances: ‘The realization o f this liberating
ideal [Macedonian liberation] constituted one o f the chief motives
stimulating Bulgaria toward the very rapid progress it made during the
quarter o f a century [after 1878].’ The country’s domestic social and
economic development was driven by ‘the conviction that the nation must
move forward to a position where it would be able to fulfil its national
mission, namely the freeing o f all the Bulgarians and the uniting o f them in
a single, self-governing kingdom’ .8 In the late nineteenth-century Balkans,
political elites with tew exceptions viewed economic modernization and
national integration as simultaneous pursuits, which meant‘redeeming’ their
irredenta in the Ottoman Balkans. Under conditions o f foreign domination,
notions o f development and progress in the Balkans became closely
intertwined with and in fact inseparable from the nationalist project. Only
a powerful nation-state could serve as an institutional framework within
which development could take place.9
Beginning in the late nineteenth century, the independent Balkan states
participated in the modernization process. This was reflected in the growth
o f towns, impressive public works projects, the creation o f communication
networks (railways, roads, telegraphs), the commercialization o f national
economies and expanded foreign trade, the spread o f schools, literacy, and
higher education. While industrialization was slow and handicapped by the
overwhelmingly agrarian nature o f Balkan societies, which lacked the necessary
raw materials, technical skills, and domestic capital, the beginnings o f
industrial development date from this period. Romania was an exception in
so far as it managed to attract foreign investment for its lucrative oil
industry— in 1914 Romania was the fifth largest oil producer in the world—
which in turn stimulated the iron, machine, and timber industries.The nature
o f modernization in the Balkan setting entailed growing government indebtedness,
eventually leading to greater foreign control ovei national budgets
.inti economies.


State borrowing was at first directed to the construction o f railways and
conformed to European Great Power interests. Railroad construction was
enthusiastically pursued after 1878; every Balkan state established a state
railway company— Romania in 1882, Bulgaria in 1884, and Serbia in
1887— resulting in state-owned railways built by foreign concerns. Between
1885 and 1912, the total length o f railway lines in service increased dramatically
throughout the region, by 841 per cent in Bulgaria, 613 per cent in
Greece, 285 per cent in Serbia, and 160 per cent in Romania.10This entailed
assuming ever more foreign debt and greater economic dependence on
European capital markets. European lenders often insisted that revenues
from specific domestic taxes be attached to the repayment ofloans. Ottoman
state revenues were attached in this way in 1881, Greece’s in 1897, and
Bulgaria’s in 1902.” In the decade before 1914 foreign loans were directed
increasingly to military modernization. State revenues were invested in
state-building, namely, the formation of modern militaries, gendarmeries,
and state administrations. B y 19 11 public debt expenses accounted for a
significant share o f Balkan state budgets, but they were still below the
French level, while per capita military expenditure was far lower than in
Great Britain, France, and Germany.12 The region was exposed to intensive
European capital and economic penetration, and was progressively integrated
into the European capitalist economy. While it may be true that the
Balkans had by 1914 experienced only the beginnings o f industrialization
and an ‘uneven’ pattern o f development, it is undeniable that the path to
modernity had been entered upon.
Balkan political and intellectual elites, with some notable exceptions,
were deeply impressed with the achievements o f Europe, which was their
paragon o f modernity and ‘progress’ . Modernization was virtually equated
with ‘Europeanization’ , the advance o f technology, the spread o f industry
and commerce, secularization, urbanization, and the establishment o f centralized
power and institutions o f parliamentary democracy. The Balkan
states thus attempted to make the leap towards modernity and to share in
the progress being experienced by Europe. B y the turn o f the century, most
Balkan capitals no longer resembled the Ottoman towns o f decades past and
looked like modern European cities. O f the dozens o f mosques that had
once existed in these towns, only one survived into the twentieth century
111 each o f Belgrade, Sofia, and Athens: the Bajrakli Mosque (1575), the Banva
Bashi Mosque (1576), and the Fethiye Mosque (1458), respectively, although
the last o f these was no longer a place o f worship.13 Visitors to the Balkans
were often impressed with the outward trappings o f progress. An American


diplomat remarked in 1901 that Bulgaria was ‘a fine diversified country’ ,
which had made remarkable progress ‘in view o f the fact that but little more
than twenty years ago nearly every substantial thing upon it was laid waste
by devastating armies’ .14
The Balkan state also actively promoted national identity, through public
education, national churches, military service, and national holidays. While
the Balkans may have remained overwhelmingly rural by 1914, with numerically
insignificant and socially marginal proletariats and bourgeoisies,
urbanization, the advent o f new technologies, and the establishment o f
modern bureaucratic states had nonetheless undermined traditional society.
Political power in the Balkan states was not wielded by bourgeois elites, but
the dominant intelligentsias and politicized bureaucracies were committed
to modernity and determined to conform to the organizational patterns o f
the European state. As state-building was integral to the modernist project
in the Balkans, the result was centralized states with relatively large administrations.
15 The political elites were dependent on the power and prestige o f
the state. The only viable avenue o f employment for many educated Greeks,
Serbs, Bulgarians, and Romanians was the state bureaucracy, whose growth
intensified noticeably at the turn o f the century. In Bulgaria public-sector
employment was nearly 28,000 in 1904 but almost 50,000 in 19 11, while in
Greece the state apparatus grew from 23,000 to 33,000 between 1870 and
1889, an increase o f about 43 per cent.16 B y 1910 state employees exclusive
o f the military exceeded 5 per cent o f every Balkan labour force, double
that o f industrial labourers.17 The emergence o f bureaucratic ruling elites
had a powerful impact on political culture, as existing social realities reinforced
the vertical exercise o f political authority.18
Even in Romania, where the nobility controlled much o f the land, the
state was dominated by liberal nationalists drawn largely from the intelligentsia
and gentry, both o f whom associated their social prestige with
Romania’s political modernization. Their avowed cause was modernization
under state protection, by encouraging the growth o f commerce, a
Romanian middle class, and a modern bureaucracy.19 The debate over
modernization was less pronounced in Romania than elsewhere in the
Balkans; Westernization was generally supported, with only the pace o f
reform being open to debate. Theodor Rosetti’s On the Direction of Our
Progress (1873) called for the rediscovery o f the ‘vital kernel’ , the recovery o f
original values, and the rejection o f imitation. Rosetti and other conservatives
feared the political and social conséquences o f rapid change, while the


Liberal intelligentsia urged a much faster pace o f progress as there was no
choice but to adopt unhesitatingly the model o f Western development.20
In all the Balkan states, political elites were an outgrowth o f national
liberation struggles that relied, even in Romania where independence came
through diplomatic bargaining rather than revolutionary struggle, on the
state for social status and power.The decidedly centralized state apparatuses
and politicized bureaucracies that governed them proved to be attractive
instruments o f social advancement. The Balkan state was the only agent
capable o f mobilizing the necessary resources needed to pursue social
and economic reform and the concomitant tasks o f state-building and
national integration.
The Bulgarian Turnovo Constitution (1879) created a unicameral parliament,
provided for fundamental civil rights, local self-government, and
granted the franchise to all adult males over 2 1. However, the monarch was
the constitutional head o f state, commander-in-chief o f the armed forces,
with the power to promulgate laws and exercise considerable control over
the executive branch, without bearing any liability for its decisions.The first
prince o f autonomous Bulgaria, Alexander von Battenberg (r. 1879—86), suspended
the constitution while his successor, Ferdinand von Saxe-Coburg-
Gotha (r. 1886—1918), adroidy navigated its articles to establish a personal
regime. The Bulgarian political establishment and ‘governmental’ parties
were not fundamentally divided by ideology; their domestic policies scarcely
differed and they supported rapid modernization through state-building.
Under Prime Minister Stefan Stambolov (1887—94) the power o f the executive
increased a great deal, control over the military was established and the
democratic components o f the electoral system were muted.21 The absence
o f significant social divisions and Ferdinand’s control o f the military and
foreign policy— and the right to appoint the Ministers o f War and Foreign
Policy— meant that there was little over which the political parties could
fight other than the rewards o f office. B y the late nineteenth century, parties
were held together by prominent personalities and were distinguished by
their pursuit o f office. As the supply o f educated persons began to outstrip
the number o f public offices available to them, the trafficking o f public
office became a serious problem and a weapon at the disposal o f the executive.
22 As in other Balkan states, changes in government were occasioned
by extensive personnel modifications in the central and local bureaucracies.
Using patronage to exercise his influence over political leaders, Ferdinand
could topple governments by orchestrating the resignation o f his two


dependent ministers and then reconstruct the executive. This was the basis
o f his personal regime.
The considerable progress the country made by the early twentieth century
prevented widespread peasant discontent. There was, however, an
intellectual current o f anti-modernization (and anti-Occidentalism),
expressed by the playwright Dobri Vojnikov in his Civilization Wrongly
Understood (1871) and others, who glorified the ‘purity’ o f peasant life which
supposedly stood apart from the dangers o f the modern city.23 Only after
Bulgaria’s growth slowed, however, and particularly after the disastrous military
defeats o f 1913 and 1918, which facilitated massive peasant mobilization
and the emergence o f the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union (BANU) as
a serious political force, were these official policies openly questioned.
Between 1879 and 19 11, the share o f the Bulgaria budget devoted to military
expenditures fell from 40.6 per cent to 2 1.7 , but military spending
accounted for the single largest share o f the budget, followed by debt servicing
and public works. Spending on public education as a share o f the budget
increased from 1.5 per cent in 1879 to 11.2 in 19 11.24 Bulgaria’s profligate
borrowing resulted in a 70 per cent increase in debt between 1901 and 1912.
Much o f this money went to the military, which was widely regarded as the
best in the region; the size o f the military by the eve o f the Balkan wars was
87,000. Unlike its Serbian and Greek counterparts, after its birth in 1888 the
Bulgarian army never openly contested the political system. It remained an
influential and visible agent in the country’s politics, however, witnessed by
the fact that General Racho Petrov Stoyanov served as Prime Minister in
1901 and 1903-6.25
King Othon (r. 1833—62) o f Greece had ruled without a constitution or
legislative assembly, relying on a Bavarian Council o f Regents and Bavarian
troops to maintain order. The foundations o f an administration, military,
judiciary, and educational system were established, but with little Greek
input. Discontent erupted in the 3 September Revolution (1843), which
compelled Othon to grant a constitution (1844) and convene a bicameral
legislature.The 1844 constitution was a liberal document by the standards o f
the day, but it did not recognize the notion o f popular sovereignty and the
king retained considerable authority.26 His continued interference in government
provoked in 1862 another military rebellion and prompted his
(light from the country. He was succeeded by King Georgios I von
( ;liicksburg (r. 1863—1910) who in 1864 issued a constitution which acknowledged
popular sovereignty, abolished the Senate, extended the franchise


practically to all adult males, and reduced royal prerogatives, although
these were still considerable. Greek politics remained heavily dynastic,
however; political parties were highly personal and functioned as loose
coalitions grouped around powerful leaders. As in Bulgaria, competition
centred on the pursuit o f office, which was needed to satisfy the demands
o f voters-clients.27
The Greek state apparatus was appropriated predominandy by
Peloponnesian notables, whose political power was based on their role during
the revolution and in subsequent decades on state patronage. As the
Greek state progressively became more centralized, these oligarchies consolidated
their influence within the political system. The introduction of
parliamentary politics in 1864 in no way impeded their authority, as they
thrived through clientage networks. This led the satirist Emmanouil Roidis
to remark in 1875 that‘what causes parties to come into existence and compete
with each other [in Greece] is the admirable accord with which all
want the same thing: to be fed at the public expense’ .28 The state thus
assumed great importance as a source o f employment; the resultant magnified
bureaucracy stemmed both from political modernization and the
need for politicians to dispense patronage. Voters looked to politicians for
employment and protection from the exactions o f the state, which was
perceived by much o f the population as basically hostile. As a consequence,
changes in administrations resulted in frequent modifications within the
bureaucracy. Political parties lacked rudimentary structure. Significant
reforms came only after the August 1909 military coup, which led to the
ascent o f Eleftherios Venizelos and the Liberal Party in 1910 and the
constitutional and social reforms o f the following year.29
The Greek military, which emerged following the Berlin Congress,
became a significant actor in politics and the nationalist cause. Rigorous
military training was introduced and universal conscription was established
between 1879 and 1882, leading to a standing army o f 30,000. Military
officers and veterans were equally important in the national cause; military
officers comprised about 80 per cent o f the ‘National Society’ (1894), which
was active in Crete and Macedonia. In 1908, after the Young Turk Revolution,
these officers formed the Pan-Hellenic Organization and associated Military
League, which launched the 1909 coup.30 The ascent ofVenizelos and o f the
I iberal Party, rather than being the result o f a triumphant liberalizing bourgeoisie,
reflected far more the personal popularity ofVenizelos in the
aftermath o f Greece’s humiliating 1897 defeat at the hands o f the


Ottoman Empire. B y 1909, parliamentary government was widely seen as
passive and elitist while political parties were viewed as causes o f national
decline. Venizelos consciously promoted himself as an agent o f national
regeneration, and his political rise was an expression o f a new and more
vigorous Greek nationalism, which reinforced the personality-driven nature
o f Greek politics.31
Serbia’s trajectory under the Obrenovices (r. 1817—43, 1858—1903) was
similar. Society remained poorly differentiated, predominantly agrarian and
patriarchal, into the second half o f the nineteenth century.32 Several constitutions
were issued—the ‘Presentation’ Constitution (1835), the ‘Turkish’
Constitution (1838), and the‘Governors” Constitution (1869)— but the prerogatives
o f the Crown remained considerable, even after the birth in
October 1858 o f the modern Serbian National Assembly. The 1869
Constitution still conferred on the Prince (King) important powers,
including much o f the legislative and budgetary authority and the ability to
influence the composition o f the National Assembly. It was also highly
restrictive in the definition o f personal rights and political freedoms.33 Only
in the 1888 ‘Radical’ Constitution were legislative powers confirmed; the
sitting o f the National Assembly was extended to three years, secret balloting
was introduced, and suffrage was extended to most adult males. The
1903 Constitution was promulgated without royal assent following the regicide
o f that year, and was a revised version o f the 1888 document.
Modernization in Serbia produced a fissure within the political elite.
Until the middle o f the nineteenth century, the ruhng establishment,
grouped into loose coalitions o f Liberals and Progressives, favoured modernization
along European patterns.34 Under the Progressives, led from 1881
to 1886 by Milan Pirocanac, together with Cedomilj Mijatovic, Stojan
Novakovic,andMilutin Garasanin,a gradualist approach to liberal reform—
the extension o f civil rights and political freedoms through representative
government— was adopted, under the institutional leadership o f the intelligentsia.
From 1880 to 1883 Pirocanac served as premier and initiated several
modernizing reforms, including a new army and the first Serbian railways
(Belgrade—Nis—Pirot).35 Much o f the younger intelligentsia opposed this
form o f modernization, however. The populist Radical Party, formed in
1881, emerged as Serbia’s first modern political party. It became the leading
Serbian political party for the next half century, originally combining socialist,
anarchist, and peasantist elements into a militant programme marked by
uncompromising opposition to the absolutist political system and personal


regime o f Milan Obrenovic. Early Radicalism professed a programme
designed to transform the state into an ‘organic society’ rooted in traditional
Serbian institutions, such as the extended family household (zadruga) and
the commune (opstina). As such, it challenged the urban and intellectual base
o f both Liberals and Progressives. The primary role o f the state was to safeguard
the prosperity o f the people as a national community rather than
individual rights or civic freedoms. This early programme was overdy anticapitalist,
but its appeal and the party’s organizational deftness enabled the
Radicals to mobilize a significant segment o f the peasantry, thereby playing
an important role in Serbian national integration in opposition to the existing
constitutional order. The early Radical leadership constructed their
political identity on a negation o f the very principles o f the modern
European state. Following the abortive Timok Rebellion (1883), in which
several Radicals were implicated, Radicalism progressively moderated its
political programme; it was responsible for the 1888 Constitution and under
Nikola Pasic’s leadership, emerged as the dominant political party in the
country and remained in almost uninterrupted power during the first three
decades o f the twentieth century.36
After 1903 political parties generally became more important in Serbian
political life.The Radical Party was no longer a peasant party, its self-portrayal
as defender o f the peasants’ interests notwithstanding. It was run by intellectuals
and professional politicians whose increasingly etatist ideology was
committed to national consolidation through state modernization and
territorial expansion. The Serbian political system o f the antebellum period
was certainly more democratic than it had been under the Obrenovic es, but
in practice the 1903 Constitution still provided for significant executive and
royal powers; the king possessed considerable leverage over the parliament
and state budget. In the first years o f the constitutional regime, King Petar I
Karadjordjevic (r. 1903—21)—without the consent o f the National Assembly
but with the support o f the army that brought him to power—interfered in
the formation and work o f government.The period between 1903 and 1914
was one o f greater political pluralism but too brief to allow for a meaningful
expansion o f parliamentarism. As a result, Serbian politics remained highly
personalized and divisive.37 Moreover, the political role o f the military
increased significantly after 1903, as did that o f societies like ‘People’s
Defence’ (1908) and ‘Unification or Death’ (1911), better known as the
‘ 1 Mack Hand’, under Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevic-Apis.38 Much as in Greece
after 1909, the military was more assertive, its younger cadre nationalist


in orientation and committed to the ideology o f Serb irredenta and animated
by dreams o f Serbia as a South Slav Piedmont.
Montenegro entered the modern period as an autonomous theocracy
under the Orthodox metropolitans o f the Petrovic-Njegos dynasty. The
Principality o f Montenegro formally emerged in 1852 under Vladika Danilo
II who ended the theocracy and assumed the title o f Prince Danilo 1
Petrovic-Njegos (r. 1852—60). Following his assassination, his nephew Prince
Nikola I (r. 1860—1910, king, r. 1910—18) succeeded in winning independence
and enlarging the principality’s territory. State modernization was
slow and uneven. While a Constitution was promulgated in 1905 and a rudimentary
party system emerged, the principality (after 1910, kingdom) was
run more like an absolutist state than a constitutional monarchy.39
The Romanian political system was remarkably stable if less representative
than the other Balkan states, with the possible exception o f Montenegro.
The long reign o f Carol I (r. 1866—1914), which began with parliament
unanimously adopting a new constitution (June 1866) that remained in
force until 1923, contributed to this stability. The Romanian political elite,
still dominated by a few prominent personalities, organized itself into two
parties that alternated regularly in office. The luminary o f the Liberal Party,
formed in 187$, was Ion C. Bratianu, while the Conservatives, constituted
in 1880, were originally led by Barbu Catargiu and later Lascar Catargiu.
Bratianu served as prime minister from 1876 to 1888, during which time
Romania achieved independence (1878), became a kingdom (1881), and an
extensive amount o f modernizing legislation was passed on a range o f issues,
from ministerial responsibility and village structure to the organization o f
education and a modern army.40 Between 1888 and 1895 several Conservative
cabinets governed the country, and thereafter they rotated almost automatically
with Liberals until 19L8, with the Conservatives generally
representing the interests o f large landowners and Liberals the gentry,
intelligentsia, and nascent middle classes. As elsewhere in the Balkans, the
king’s role was important. Between 1881 and 1914, every government
supported by the king won at the polls.41 In addition, the political system
remained restrictive. Several electoral reforms after 1884 expanded the
franchise, but in 1913 less than 2 per cent o f the population had a direct vote
lor t he Senate and Chamber o f Deputies. If one adds those with an indirect
vote (fewer than 1.2 million), only 17.6 per cent o f the population could vote
in one way or another. Despite reform and several advances over the previous
century, and notwithstanding the stability o f the constitutional system, the


Romanian political system was clearly imperfect and served too small a
segment of society.42
The growth o f state power, which was clearly discernible in the Balkans,
was one o f the most palpable facets o f late nineteenth-century European
society. Nationalists across Europe understood that the state alone possessed
the power and apparatus needed to mobilize national resources, carry out
modernizing reform, safeguard the national interest, and overcome regionalism
and thus achieve national integration.The expansion o f state authority
reflected both the spread o f nationalism and the concomitant commitment
to modernity, all o f which was accompanied by new state demands on its
citizenry, necessitating an enormous expansion o f bureaucracy everywhere
in Europe. The Balkans were no exception. Modernity was measured in
terms o f achieving the standards o f European civilization. Balkan intellectuals
wished to participate in the European century o f technological and
industrial progress as well as social and economic transformation. A strong
state was perceived as integral to modernity and nation-building. But in a
region where the peasantry comprised a majority o f the population, statebuilding
entailed coercing peasants into supporting modernization. While
the progress that was achieved from the last two decades o f the nineteenth
century onwards was financed by foreigners and high taxation, it was necessarily
borne by the Balkan peasant.The state was the engine o f modernity
in the Balkans and was increasingly seen by Balkan elites as the only genuine
actor in social life; the politicized bureaucracy and intelligentsia, with some
honourable exceptions, compelled peasantries to conform to state structures
in the name o f modernity. Although the condition o f the Balkan
peasant varied considerably from one country to the next, the typical
peasant remained by 1914 quite poor, with small and inefficient plots
predominating. In Bulgaria and Serbia the peasants owned the land and
small holdings were the norm, whereas in the Romanian lands,Transylvania,
and much o f Croatia, the native nobilities held tide roughly to half the
arable land. Modernization and the penetration o f the market into the
countryside wrought significant changes to traditional rural life and customs.
The confluence o f state-building and the European-wide Great Depression
(1873-95) made for growing social tensions and generally reinforced the
vertical exercise o f political power.
The Serbian Timok Rebellion (1883) is emblematic o f popular resistance
to state-building in the Balkans. The Treaty o f Berlin conferred independence
on Serbia but required that Belgrade modernize its communications,


through the development o f a railway system, and raise a standing army. In
June 1883 the increasingly unpopular authoritarian regime o f King Milan
Obrenovic ordered the military to collect old firearms from the peasantry.
When the authorities implemented the order in early October 1883—
shordy after the recent Radical electoral victory had been annulled—a
rebellion occurred in the Timok region and its environs. Local officialdom
was attacked and state authority temporarily neutralized. In many places,
the Radicals assumed a leadership role but the newly formed and better
equipped Serbian military crushed the rebellion by November 1883. That
same year the so-called ‘national movement’ occurred in Croatia, which was
largely motivated by difficult rural economic circumstances and a substantial
increase in taxation resulting from the growth o f an autonomous
Croatian state apparatus.43 The prolonged agrarian crisis, combined with a
substantial growth in rural population, gave way to rapid socio-economic
differentiation in the village. The traditional peasant way o f life began
increasingly to dissolve under the operation o f market forces. The new
bureaucratic state collected taxes in money, forcing peasants into the market
and increasing their need for credit. The peasant’s struggle against exploitation
quickly became a clash against the city,44 where the modernizing state
bureaucracy had replaced the gentry as a veritable new scourge. While the
1883 rebellion in Croatia possessed a nationalist component, the underlying
causes were social and economic. In several districts, Croat peasants attacked
the local intelligentsia and threatened all government officials with death
for allegedly being in the pay o f the Magyars.45 The disturbances were soon
quelled and between September and December 1883 a commissariat governed
the countryside. A government official who investigated the causes o f
the 1883 rebellion concluded that the new state taxes and other burdens
‘feed upon the wretched peasant’, who saw ‘every civilized person as his
enemy and torturing demon. That is why one heard the slogan during the
disorders, “ All kaput asi [wearers o f city coats; townsfolk] should be killed” .’46
These scenes were reprised in the autumn o f 1918, in the waning days o f the
( ire at War, as peasant rebellions and the revolutionary ‘green cadre’ swept
across much o f eastern Croatia.
A similar situation prevailed in Romania, where the confluence o f statebuilding
and economic power was exercised upon a despondent peasantry.
The enormous divide between landed elite and peasant, greater in Romania
than elsewhere in the Balkans, led to several jacqueries, as in 1888, in which
peasants responded with an elemental anger. The great peasant revolt o f


March 1907 began in Moldavia with attacks against Jews and subsequendy
all landlords, eventually spreading to Wallachia. The following month over
120,000 troops were mobilized and the rebellion was gradually suppressed
but with great brutality. According to official statistics more than 1,000
peasants were killed, although most contemporary observers and scholars
place the number at several times the official count.47 Even in Bulgaria,
where rural conditions were more favourable, the situation o f the peasants
deteriorated. Large tracts o f formerly Mushm-owned land had been made
available for purchase after 1879, but the absence o f banks led to usurious
financial practices by private money-lenders. B y the turn o f the century,
hundreds o f villages were indebted to usurers at a time (1887—97) when state
taxes had nearly doubled. Most peasants believed they were overtaxed compared
to the towns while receiving few benefits in return, harbouring a
deepening resentment against the town and bureaucracy.48 These social
fissures suggest that the identification o f the socially dominant Balkan
countryside with the nationalizing mission o f its respective states was by no
means certain. Peasants had little influence on state policy and their perceptions
o f national interests were difficult to assess. Most peasants were likely
suspicious o f (or even apathetic i f not inimical to) the ‘Greater’ nationalist
projects o f their modernizing elites, whether in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia,
or Greece.49 Leon Trotsky was hardly alone in observing during the Balkan
Wars that while educated Serbs were generally enthusiastic about the war
against the Ottoman Turk, Serb peasant conscripts generally‘were depressed
and extremely homesick for their villages’ .50 It is hardly surprising that, in
light o f these growing social crevices within modernizing Balkan society,
the years around the turn o f the century witnessed the proliferation o f peasant
parties: the Romanian Peasants’ Party (1895, recast in and after 1918)
originally under Constantin Dobrescu-Arge§; the Bulgarian Agrarian
National Union (1899—1901) o f Aleksandur Stamboliiski; and the Croat
People’s Peasant Party (1904) o f the brothers Radic.51
Late nineteenth-century parliamentary regimes in the Balkans were thus
based on relatively liberal constitutional systems by the standards o f the time,
although in practice these regimes restricted popular participation. The modernizing
Balkan states were controlled by oligarchs or professional politicians,
even while maintaining some pluralism through legislative assemblies, which
were in most cases, with the exception o f Romania and Montenegro,
theoretically elected through universal manhood suffrage. These restrictive
parliamentary governments were reformed to varying degrees only after


military coups in Serbia (1903) and Greece (1909) or following the Great War,
as in Bulgaria, Romania, and the Balkan provinces o f the former I Iabsburg
monarchy. In the Balkan milieu modernization accordingly entailed strong
government and legitimized the unquestioned role o f the centralized state
bureaucracy and army as ‘saviours o f the nation’ . But if political modernization
in the Balkans is understood as the implementation o f the European
model o f the modern state— a centralized bureaucracy, standing professional
army, and legislature representing popular sovereignty—then Balkan patterns
after 1878 were not markedly dissimilar from wider European trends. Indeed,
the Balkan states compare favourably with Hungary (including Croatia and
Transylvania) and several southern European states, notably Italy and the
Iberian countries, and even Sweden and Belgium, where the franchise
remained highly restrictive or was broadened relatively late. In the event, the
extension o f the franchise everywhere in pre-1914 Europe tended to perpetuate
traditional elites.52 While there remained a discrepancy between modern
political institutions and traditional social structures in the Balkans before
1914, even in countries where these incongruities were absent or far less pronounced,
as in Imperial Germany, the political outcome was not necessarily
liberal. Moreover, political modernization in the Balkans was handicapped as
much by the requirements and impositions o f the European states system as
by indigenous social developmental constraints. The monarchical regimes
foisted upon the Balkan states by the Great Powers as a condition o f their
independence often frustrated and occasionally subverted democratizing
tendencies. Despite their limited economic abilities, the Balkan states
did achieve a degree o f political and cultural modernity, whether in terms
o f state expansion, commercialization, educational policies, and even
political mobilization.
Whatever the form o f government and no matter the level o f commitment
to constitutional liberalism, what all Balkan elites had in common was
a commitment to the nationalist project, the homogenization o f their societies,
and the ideology o f irredenta. Here too Balkan patterns were not at variance
with broader European trends. The seeming bellicosity and nationalist
militancy o f the Balkan states in the antebellum period was not markedly
out o f step with European attitudes and developments, particularly i f one
recalls that the Congress o f Berlin, which gave birth to the independent
Balkans, also inaugurated the ‘new’ European imperialism which in short
order partitioned the African continent.The emergence o f integral nationalism,
Social Darwinism, and mass politics at the turn o f the century gave


nationalism an illiberal and aggressive hue across the continent. The Italian
advance into Ottoman Libya in 19 11 was greeted by a domestic nationalist
enthusiasm which rivalled that o f the Balkan states the following year and
European public fervour for war in 1914.53 While European public opinion
was outraged at the regicide o f the Obrenovices (1903)— in particular the
unfortunately cruel manner in which the royals were murdered— and King
Georgios o f Greece (1913), political violence and assassination were hardly
unique to the Balkans. At the turn o f the twentieth century, assassinations
were pervasive and claimed President Marie François Sadi Carnot o f France
(1894), King Umberto o f Italy (1900), President William McKinley o f the
United States (1901), King Carlos o f Portugal (1908), and Premier José
Canalejas o f Spain (1912).54 What made the Balkan borderland distinct was
its remarkable ethnic heterogeneity, which was especially true o f the regions
remaining contested zones. It is this heterogeneity which made the policies
o f national homogenization and ideologies o f irredenta problematical in the
Balkan context; citizenship was everywhere subordinated to the dominant
nation. The weakness o f ‘civil society’ exacerbated this problem;55 the autocephalous
Orthodox churches were from their inception subordinate to the
state and served as nationalizing instruments, while bureaucracies, the
press, and autonomous social institutions were insufficiently strong to act
independently o f vested political interests. As the prevailing discourse o f
nationhood was institutionalized by the native intelligentsias and political
elites, by the first decade o f the twentieth century the attempts o f the Balkan
states to achieve national homogenization produced intense interstate rivalries,
leading eventually to violence, discriminatory practices against national
minorities, and forced population exchanges.
Balkan Imperialisms: The Macedonian Question,
1 8 7 8 - 1 9 1 4
Balkan rivalries between 1878 and 1914 centred on three regions and their
resultant ‘Questions’ : the Macedonian, Albanian, and ‘South Slav’ . At the
end o f the twentieth century, during Yugoslavia’s dissolution, these same if
somewhat reformulated ‘questions’ still bedevilled the western Balkans.
I hey revolved around the national character and ultimate disposition o f the
remaining Ottoman territories in the Balkans, from Bosnia-Herzegovina in
the north-west t hrough the sancak o f Novi Pazar and Kosovo to Macedonia


in the central Balkans. The Austro-Hungarian occupation o f Bosnia (1878)
pushed the ‘South Slav Question’ into the background, at least until
Annexation Crisis (1908—9) and Balkan Wars (1912—13), at which time the
Albanian Question also emerged as a diplomatic issue. In the decades immediately
after the Berlin Congress, the most complicated and salient
problem in the Ottoman Balkans was the Macedonian Question. From
1878 to 1912 it occupied Ottoman and European statesmen alike more than
any other single diplomatic problem, contributing significantly to regional
instability and violence.
Macedonia was o f great strategic importance, commanding the communication
route down the Morava andVardar valleys and offering both
Bulgaria and Serbia a vital oudet to the sea. It also possessed fertile plains
and considerable agricultural wealth. Control o f Macedonia would give any
Balkan state the requisite strength to be the dominant regional power. To
the Ottomans, Macedonia meant not only rule over more than one million
Muslims but also substantial tax revenues and agriculture to feed the empire.
In light o f Macedonia’s proximity to the Straits, the Great Powers could not
ignore the looming regional conflict. Among the Balkan contenders,
Bulgaria and Greece appeared to have the advantage. Although militarily
weaker than Bulgaria, the Greek position was seemingly buttressed by the
traditional role o f the Orthodox Church. However, the formation o f the
Bulgarian Exarchate created a level playing field that, when coupled with
Bulgaria’s military resources and seeming ethnographic advantage, appeared
to portend Bulgaria’s eventual triumph. Serbia seemingly had the weakest
position, as it lacked an ecclesiastical presence in Macedonia comparable to
the Greeks and Bulgarians and, according to most contemporary census
figures, had few co-nationals in the region. Romania too entered the
Macedonian context by claiming the Romance-speaking Vlachs as conationals,
but this was merely an attempt to constrain Bulgarian influence.
It was far from clear to the Great Powers which i f any Balkan state had the
most legitimate claim, insofar as legitimacy entailed stability. Reliable census
data were absent, while Balkan nationalists offered contradictory and often
questionable statistics.
Macedonia became the focal point o f Balkan rivalries following two
events: Bulgarian unification with Eastern Rumelia (1885) and the Greek—
Ottoman War (1897), resulting from the Greek nationalist claim to Crete.
The semi-autonomous Ottoman province o f East Rumelia was administered
by an international commission and provided willi a substantial


regulation (April 1879) detailing its management.The Christian governor,
appointed by the Ottoman Sultan with the sanction o f the Great Powers,
ruled with the assistance o f European administrators. A provincial
assembly was established, with a combination o f elected, appointed and
ex officio representatives. The Muslims probably possessed a majority
before 1875, but the massacres o f 1876—8 and forced emigration thereafter
created an Orthodox Bulgarian majority. Bulgarian, Turkish, and
Greek were the official languages. In September 1885 a Bulgarian nationalist
revolt in Eastern Rumelia declared union with Bulgaria. The
Ottomans hesitated to intervene without Great Power sanction, despite
the clear violation o f the Berlin Treaty. The Great Powers failed to abide
by their obligations, however. In an attempt to avoid a wider regional
conflict, a conference o f ambassadors was convened in Constantinople
(November 1885) where significant differences emerged. Only Serbia
contested unification, declaring war on Bulgaria to gain territorial compensation,
but the Bulgarian victory over the better equipped Serbian
army at Slivnitza ( 17 - 19 November) ensured that the conflict would be
brief. Peace was concluded in March 1886, with a personal union
between Bulgaria and East Rumelia. Thereafter, Bulgarian attentions
centred almost exclusively on Macedonia.
Greek policy after 1878 was driven by a powerful ideology o f irredenta,
as Greeks constituted the largest single minority in the Ottoman Empire,
with absolute or relative majorities in several strategically important
provinces.56 Greek nationalist opinion almost unanimously supported the
Megali Idea, which entailed expansion into Thessaly, Epirus, Macedonia,
and south into the Aegean Islands, including Crete. With the exception o f
Macedonia, most o f these territories had sizeable Greek-speaking
populations. When Bulgaria achieved unification in 1885, Athens tried to
secure the rest o f Epirus in compensation, but was compelled by the Great
Powers to desist. Thereafter, especially with the formation o f the National
Society (1894), Athens focused nationalist ambitions on Crete.
As part o f the Berlin settlement, in October 1878 the Ottoman governor
o f Crete and European diplomats concluded the Haleppa Pact, which
provided for a representative assembly with a Greek majority. However,
Greek brigands, supported by nationalist elements in Greece, continued to
infiltrate the island and conduct attacks against Ottoman officialdom. In 1889
the Porte suspended the Organic Regulation (1868) and the Haleppa Pact,
ruling directly through a Muslim governor and abandoning representative


institutions. In late January 1897 a group o f Cretan rebels, joined by Greeks
from the mainland, launched a revolt against the Porte and declared enosis
(union) with Greece. In February 1897 a Greek force was sent to occupy
the island under the leadership o f Prince Georgios.This force cut a swathe
o f destruction, killing thousands o f Muslims; Ottoman troops responded in
kind against Greeks. Nationalist opinion in Greece prompted the government
to intervene, thereby provoking a brief but disastrous war. In earlv
April 1897 Prince Constantine led a small force into Ottoman territory
near Janina, which the Ottoman army o f Monastir routed before moving
deep into GreekThessaly.The Great Powers imposed an armistice and peace
agreement by which the Ottomans agreed to abandon Thessaly and the
Greeks promised to pay a war indemnity to Constantinople. Great Power
intervention saved Greece from a humiliating peace and compelled the
Porte in December 1897 to grant a new autonomous government in Crete
under a Christian governor. This turned out to be Prince Georgios o f
Greece. While he was obliged to protect the remaining Muslim population,
the predominandy Greek militia secured de facto Greek influence. Crete
would not be formally annexed until October 1912, but this did not stem
the exodus o f Muslim refugees after 1897. According to the 1881 census,
there were approximately 75,000 Muslims and 200,000 Orthodox Christians
on Crete; by 1923, the Muslim population numbered fewer than 40,000.57
Despite their diplomatic victory, the Greek monarchy and government suffered
the stigma o f military defeat. They responded by recoiling from direct
confrontation with the Ottomans, renewed their emphasis on military
modernization, and competed with the Bulgarians and Serbs for control o f
Macedonia. The events o f 1885 and 1897 demonstrated that the status quo
imposed by the Berlin settlement could be challenged successfully— the
Great Powers responded to both crises by subverting the letter o f the treaty
they had crafted—and focused Balkan rivalries on Macedonia.
Macedonia did not exist as an administrative entity within the Ottoman
Balkans but was organized after 1878 into the three provinces (vilayets) o f
Salonika, Monastir, and Kosova. It stretched between Thrace and Albania,
bounded in the south by the Aegean, in the north by the Sar Mountains, and
in the west by Lake Ohrid. It had a remarkably heterogeneous population,
with no single nationality possessing a majority. According to Ottoman census
data, Macedonia was equally divided between Muslims and Christians
(see Table 2.1). Since 1870 the Ottoman authorities counted two Orthodox
millets in the Balkans, the Greek Orthodox and Bulgarian l.xarchate, with


Table 2.1 Estimated population o f Macedonia, 1882 and 1904
1882 1904
Muslim 1,083,130 1,508,507
Greek Orthodox 534.396 307,000
Bulgarian Orthodox 704,574 796,479
Catholic (Greek) 2,3    -
Vlachs - 99,000
Serbs - 100,717
Jews et al. 151,730 99.997
Total 2,476,141 2,9 11,700
Note: The 1882 figures are derived from the regular Ottoman census while the 1904 figures stem from
a special survey conducted in Macedonia by Ottoman Inspector Hiiseyin Hilmi Pasha. Macedonia is
defined as the Ottoman vilayets o f Salonika (Selanik) and Monastir (Bitola) and the district (sattcak) o f
Uskup (Skopje), which after 1878 was part o f Kosova vilayet.
Source: Stanford Jay Shaw and Ezel Kural Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey’:
Reform, Revolution, and Republic:The Rise of Modern Turkey 1808-1975 (Cambridge: CU R 1977), 208.
the latter possessing a majority among the non-Muslim population. The
towns were in the main Muslim and Greek or, in the case o f Salonika, largely
Jewish, while the countryside was predominantly Slavic and Muslim. The
Muslim population consisted primarily o f Turks, Albanians, Pomaks, and
Roma, reinforced by thousands o f new refugees after 1878. In Macedonia, as
in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the linguistic criterion did not easily lend itself to
ethnographic clarity. While in Bosnia the three Slavic communities were
linguistically virtually identical but differentiated by religion (seeTable 2.2).
the situation in Macedonia was far more labyrinthine. Macedonian Slavs
were o f the same faith as Bulgarians and Greeks, but linguistically related to
the former. Many foreigners who visited Macedonia assumed that the local
Slavs spoke a dialect o f Bulgarian, although more astute observers were far
less certain and concluded that the Macedonian Slavs were neither Serbs
nor Bulgarians.58
The political struggle for Macedonian autonomy was taken up by the
Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), founded in
1893 by a handful o f Macedonian intellectuals under Gotse Delcev. They
sought the territorial integrity o f Macedonia and the equality o f its citizens,
regardless o f nationality or creed.59 Operating under the slogan ‘Macedonia
for the Macedonians’ , IMRO envisaged an autonomous Macedonia as
part o f a wider Balkan federation. In late 1894 a rival organization known
•is the Supreme Committee (Vrhovists) was formed in Sofia, largely as an


Table 2 .2 . Population o f Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1879 and 1910
1879 19 10
Orthodox 496,485 (42.88%) 825,418 (43-49%)
Muslim 448,613 (38.73%) 6 12 ,13 7 (32.25%)
Catholic 209,391 (18.08%) 434,061 (22.87%)
Jewish 3,426 (0.29%) 11,868 (0.62%)
Other 249 (0.02%) 14,560 (0.77%)
Total 1,158,440 1,898,044
Note: Until 190$ the Orthodox population was enumerated as ‘Greek Orthodox’. Until 1901 the term
‘Mohammedan’ was used to refer to members o f the Islamic community.
Source: Srecko M. Dzaja, Bosnien-Herzegowina in der österreichisch-ungarischen Epoche, 1878-1918: Die
Intelligentsia zwischen Tradition und Ideologie (Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1994).
instrument o f the Bulgarian ruling elite. In the event, by 1897-8 IMRO had
organized regional committees in Macedonia and launched a campaign o f
violence; clashes between IMRO detachments (chetas) and the Ottoman
gendarmerie became commonplace.
Nationalist leaders in Serbia, Greece, and Bulgaria put forth their claims
to Macedonia in a myriad o f ways. Since the mid-i88os, the Balkan nationstates
pursued their interests in Macedonia by promoting relief agencies,
sympathetic churches, schools, and various cultural activities; combined
they constituted ‘missionary enterprises’ in Macedonia.60 Nationalist propaganda
was disseminated by the Bulgarian Cyril and Methodius Committee
(1884), the Serbian Saint Sava Society (1886),and the Greek National Society
(1894).61 Denying the existence o f a Macedonian Slav nationality, these
organizations based their claims on a combination o f ethnographic, cultural,
and historical proofs.62 All three claimed to have a plurality in Macedonia,
although the politics o f statistics revealed enormous anomalies.63
Cultural propaganda was followed by the activities o f militant societies,
particularly after 1897, which dispatched irregulars to Macedonia under the
guise o f brigandage. Supporting these groups were the Balkan governments
and their consuls in Macedonia, who provided money, weapons, and
diplomatic protection.
Adopting the tactical offensive, IMRO initiated an insurgency which
became a war o f attrition against the Ottoman state. The ensuing conflict
evolved into an irregular civil war in which the insurgents launched a gradual
process o f state-building. Between 1896 and 1903 IMRO employed guerrilla
tactics to good effect; small-scale operations conducted by IMRO detachments
initially focused on selected targets to prevent punitive reprisals.These


included Ottoman installations, troops, irregulars, or individuals, either opponents
o f the organization or abusive officials, thereby establishing its credentials
as ‘guardian’ o f the people.64 IMRO had virtually established a state
within a state, to the point o f collecting taxes in some areas to support its
activities.65 In many respects, this irregular civil war and accompanying patterns
o f violence resembled the post-1945 wars o f decolonization and
national liberation. Violence against civilians occurred on both sides— and
was perpetrated by irregulars sponsored by the neighbouring states— but
prior to 1903 the violence was rarely i f ever indiscriminate. During IMRO’s
1903 Ilinden (St Elijah’s Day) Uprising, centred on Monastir vilayet and lasting
from August to October, violence was designed to stir mass support for
the liberation cause by fomenting inter-communal tension, with the
expectation o f Ottoman repression, and to incite international opprobrium.
IMRO’s declaration to the Great Powers called explicidy for a Christian
governor o f Macedonia, independent o f the Porte, and collective international
control over all aspects o f administration.66 As many as 15,000 IMRO
irregulars fought 40,000 Ottoman troops over a period o f seven weeks. The
Ottoman response entailed various tactics in the countryside, including
collective punishment by regular and irregular forces, but was constrained by
European intervention. In the event, more than 100 Macedonian villages
were destroyed and 5,000 fatalities recorded on all sides. IMRO never recovered
from the suppression o f the Ilinden uprising, resorting thereafter to
more systematic forms o f terrorism.67 As IMRO came increasingly to employ
violence, it wielded it as a mechanism to induce indigenous mobilization
and attract foreign intervention. After 1903 this violence was directed at
civilians, as a form o f intimidation to deter collaboration either with the
authorities or detachments from the neighbouring states. Irregular war in
this context had a ‘signalling’ character, primarily used by both sides to shape
the population’s political behaviour. In short, political violence served as
an essential resource and possessed a strategic importance; it was seldom
gratuitous and almost always calculated.68
The political violence witnessed in Macedonia in this period possessed a
sociological dimension, reflecting existing divisions within Macedonian
society. But i f the Macedonian struggle is understood as one o f national
liberation, its ideological character predisposed it to political violence. After
all, the Balkan revolutionary tradition had a triumphant pedigree: the
Serbian (1804), Greek (1821), and Bulgarian (1876) revolutions had, despite
their vicissitudes and tribulations, ultimately met with success.This tended


only to reinforce the instrumental function o f violence for IMRO. What
gave the violence in Macedonia its seemingly pernicious character, at least
to contemporary European observers, was the absence o f structures o f
authority which might have otherwise served to constrain (‘civilize’) fighting
in the first place and minimize civilian victimization. As an irregular
civil war, the very nature o f the conflict in Macedonia— with legitimate
authorities and competing armed insurgents contesting the former and
each other— made for a complex and fluid environment where frontlines
were absent and where it was increasingly difficult to distinguish between
civilian and combatant. In this context, violence against civilians addressed
a basic problem associated with irregular war. In the Macedonian setting,
violence came to possess its own logic— not dissimilar from similar situations
before and since— but was hardly driven by 'irrational’ , ‘ tribal’ , or
‘ethnic’ hatreds or by the characteristics o f local culture.
By the turn o f the century Macedonia had become a zone o f insurgency
and political violence where IMRO contested on the one hand
detachments (chetas, andartes) sponsored by Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece
and on the other the Ottoman authorities. IM RO ’s abortive Ihnden
Uprising prompted, as its plotters had hoped, European intervention.
Austria-Hungary and Russia imposed the Miirzsteg Programme (October
1903), a reformist agenda which dictated that European officials would
supervise the local Ottoman gendarmerie and civilian administration.
The Miirzsteg Programme was never fully implemented and conditions
improved only marginally. Between 1904 and 1908 Serbian and Bulgarian
chetas and Greek andartes continued to contest Macedonia, clashing at the
same time with Macedonian detachments and Ottoman officialdom. This
violence would continue until external circumstances— the Young Turk
Revolution (1908), the fall o f Sultan Abdiilhamid II (1909), and the Bosnian
Annexation Crisis (1908-9)— brought the insurgencies to an end.
Much o f the literature on violence in the nineteenth-century Balkans
emphasizes the importance o f the bandit tradition in the region. Banditry
was hardly unique to the Balkans, however, as political and economic conditions
across southern Europe facilitated the phenomenon’s existence.
Known variously as hajduks or haiduts (among the South Slavs), klephts
(among the Greeks), haiduci (among the Romanians), and kafaks (among the
Albanians), the bandit symbolized, depending on one’s perspective, either
the struggle against oppression or simply lawlessness. In Balkan nationalist
historiography; the bandit has generally served .is .1 national hero. But the


existence o f banditry raised issues o f how the new nationalizing Balkan
states were to deal with rural lawlessness and private power.69 The wellpublicized
1870 incident in Greece, known as ‘The Dilessi (Marathon)
Murders’ , which involved the murder by Greek brigands o f English travellers,
provoked a bout o f scathing commentary throughout Europe on the
inability o f Greece to become a ‘civilized’ , modern state. Thereafter the
Greek state set about to eradicate the phenomenon while brigandage was
increasingly represented in nationalist discourse as an ‘epidemic’ transmitted
to Greece from the Ottoman Empire.70 B y the turn o f the century, all
the Balkan states had largely eradicated brigandage as an autonomous
social phenomenon.
Where banditry still possessed an important role for the Balkan state was
in its mobilization and utilization beyond state frontiers, in contested
zones such as Macedonia and Crete. The slow development o f professional
militaries, which emerged only after the Congress o f Berlin, was paralleled
by the indirect violence sponsored by nationalist organizations, volunteer and
veterans’ groups financed by these states. Balkan governments and nationalist
opinion generally extolled banditry in Macedonia as a continuation o f an
honoured national tradition.The Serbian, Bulgarian, and Greek detachments
operating in Macedonia adopted the habits and dress o f the bandit, in order
to conceal what was essentially state-sponsored violence.71 The Serb, Greek,
and Bulgarian officers who led irregular units into Macedonia all believed,
largely because o f their own states’ nationalist propaganda, that they would
find compatriots o f the same tongue who would greet them as liberators.
They were conditioned to believe in the existence o f a Serbian or Greek or
Bulgarian Macedonia, but the reality they confronted proved to be quite different
and far more complex. Invariably this led to the conviction that
Macedonia must become Serbian, Greek, or Bulgarian and the corrupting
influence o f competing propagandas should be eliminated. In practice, this
meant that the indigenous proponents o f competing claims— typically the
intelligentsia (clergy, schoolteachers, etc.)— should be driven from the land.
During the Balkan Wars they acted on this conviction.
The Balkan paramilitary units active in Macedonia until 1908 were
generally led by professional army officers. Many o f the Bulgarian chetas
were headed by officers o f Macedonian descent,72 while the Serbian officers
Kosta Milovanovic Pecanac and Pavle Blazaric Bistricki73 distinguished
themselves as leaders o f the Serb Chetniks. The Greek state had since
the Crimean War attempted to use irregulars to stir revolt among Greek


irredenta, drawing on the sizeable and distinct social group o f refugees who
had settled in Greece from Macedonia and Thessaly. During the Crimean
War, Greek nationalists incited revolt in Epirus and Thessaly and sent thousands
o f irregulars across the border to support the rebels.74 This was repeated
in Crete and Thessaly in 1866—7.The Eastern Crisis produced another wave
o f Greek irredentism and brigandage, with hundreds o f Greek officers and
soldiers joining the rebels in Ottoman Macedonia, Thessaly, and Crete.
Already by 1878 a pattern had emerged in Greece o f forming and leading
bands o f irregulars, drawn mainly from nationalist circles and refugee ranks
(Macedonia, Crete, Epirus, and Thessaly), with the participants playing prescribed
roles. When Greek units returned to Macedonia in the late 1890s,
many o f them were recruited from among refugees from Macedonia.
Originally dispossessed by Turks and Albanians they were more likely, as
John Koliopoulos has observed, to dispossess others rather than lose yet
again. Greek nationalist societies found fodder among their ranks.75 Like the
Bulgarians, Greek nationalists realized that local klephts were the sole
medium through which to reach their irredenta. Consequently, when considering
the question o f political violence in the Balkans, the importance o f
banditry as a legacy o f the Ottoman era should not be overstated. By the
early twentieth century the phenomenon had largely disappeared within
the independent Balkan states and persisted principally as a means to conceal
what was in effect state-sponsored violence.
The conflict in Macedonia represented the first instance o f modern
political violence between Orthodox peoples. The importance o f this fact
should not be underestimated. As Dimitris Livanios has argued, the violence
was in some respects crucial to the completion o f the nation-building process
in the Balkans. In the earlier Balkan revolutionary wars, Muslims had
been the primary victims o f nationalist violence. For broad segments o f the
rural population, religion still remained a far more formative reality than
nationality. The violence perpetrated between Orthodox Christians in
Macedonia served to assert the primacy o f national loyalties over religious
identities.76 One o f the primary objectives o f the guerrilla war that was
pursued in Macedonia between 1904 and 1908 by Greek, Bulgarian, and
Serbian irregulars was to compel the local Macedonian Slav peasantry to
declare themselves ‘Greeks’ , ‘Bulgarians’, o r ‘Serbs’ .This was no simple task,
as the peasantry obdurately refused to identify with these nationalist causes.
One Greek activist was met with incomprehensible stares when he asked
a group o f Macedonian peasants if they were Greek or Bulgarian. The


bewildered peasants made the sign o f the cross and answered, ‘Well, we are
Christians, what do you mean by Romaioi [Greek] or Voulgaroi [Bulgarian]?’77
The insurgent warfare between fellow Orthodox Christians gradually
shattered the common identity rooted in Orthodoxy in favour o f the
state-sponsored national identities. H ow and whether these peasants decided
in favour o f the competing claims was influenced significantly by both
coercion and opportunity. A Greek military officer who led a guerrilla unit
in Macedonia observed thatviolence— ‘thepersuasionofthegun’— ultimately
determined whether a village community opted for a Greek or Bulgarian
identity.78 In actual fact, the process was more complex and depended on a
range o f considerations that often had little to do with the national orientations
o f local communities. Nonetheless, these choices slowly but surely
produced national identities in the region.
Macedonia at the beginning o f the twentieth century thus presented a
complex set o f problems. The Ottoman leadership under Abdiilhamid II
failed to implement meaningful reform, while the majority o f Balkan
Christians under Ottoman rule no longer believed that reform would provide
either meaningful or lasting solutions to their problems. The Balkan
states had no longer term interest in Ottoman stability and promoted instead
revolutionary violence when it suited their interests. The Great Powers,
while advocating reform at critical junctures, were guided by their own
imperial interests rather than a long-term concern in successful reform as
an end in itself. The confluence o f failed Ottoman reform, Balkan state
rivalry, and Great Power competition meant that revolution and violence
would remain driving forces in Macedonia and indeed in the Balkans in the
antebellum period.
What made this problematic was that the Balkans became in the antebellum
period one o f the main theatres o f Great Power rivalry.The conclusion
o f the Anglo-French (1904) and Anglo-Russian (1907) ententes gave
Balkan issues greater salience within Great Power rivalries. The Young Turk
revolution (July 1908) led the Dual Monarchy formally to annex Bosnia-
Herzegovina, which set o ff the Annexation Crisis (1908-9) and heightened
tensions between Vienna and both Belgrade and St Petersburg. After the
June 1903 regicide in Belgrade, and the emergence o f the Karadjordjevic
dynasty, the Radical Party, and the military, Serbia’s foreign policy underwent
a basic reorientation, premised on cooperation with Russia and
Bulgaria, as a basis for a possible future Balkan confederation.79 From 1903
until the February Revolution (1917), Serbia remained in the Russian


diplomatic orbit. But Serbian-Bulgarian rapprochement proved difficult,
even though it was supported by elements in both countries. The central
issue dividing Belgrade and Sofia after 1903 was the Macedonian Question.
In Bulgaria the Macedonian Question was the primary preoccupation o f
Bulgarian nationalist discourse since 1878, and neither the crown nor the
political and military elites were prepared to renounce the Bulgarian claim.
Belgrade wished to prevent the creation o f a Great Bulgaria at virtually any
cost, but had more limited objectives in Macedonia. Like Athens, Belgrade
was amenable to partition, but even Greece and Serbia, which conducted
talks on the subject in 1892—3, failed to reach an agreement over respective
spheres o f influence.
The Serbian government initiated talks with Sofia in early 1904, which
led to the conclusion o f a Friendship Treaty (April 1904) and a customs
union (June 1905).When the latter was publicly disclosed by Bulgaria, the
I labsburg monarchy responded with harsh economic reprisals against Serbia
and the so-called Tariff (‘Pig’) War o f 19 0 6 -11. The Serbo-Bulgarian
rapprochement was briefly derailed by the Annexation Crisis, during
which Bulgaria declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire with
the tacit approval ofVienna. The Annexation Crisis deeply shocked both
Serbia and Russia and ended the decade-long Austro-Russian condominium
in the Balkans. Russia now looked to craft a regional alliance to check
Vienna’s influence, which emboldened Bulgaria and Serbia to contemplate
a Balkan solution to the Eastern Question. Protracted negotiations between
Russia, Serbia, and Bulgaria on the one hand and between Serbia and
Bulgaria on the other eventually culminated in the Serbian-Bulgarian
Treaty o f Alliance (March 1912). In March 19 11 Athens had proposed to
Bulgaria a pact against the Ottomans, which culminated in a loose alliance
between the two in May 1912 and a subsequent military convention.80 In
August 1912 Bulgaria and Montenegro concluded a verbal agreement, while
Serbia and Montenegro signed a formal alliance in October 1912. Despite
significant odds, a ‘Balkan League’ was born.
The purpose o f the Serbian-Bulgarian alliance and Balkan League was
clear from the outset. A Secret Annex to the Serbian-Bulgarian alliance
provided for a territorial settlement based on the division o f Macedonia
into Serbian and Bulgarian zones, with a contested sector to be reserved for
future Russian arbitration. Macedonia would prove to be the alliance’s
Achilles’ heel; the Serbs and Bulgarians were never able to resolve their territorial
disputes, while the Greeks and Bulgarians merely side-tracked them.


But the prospect o f gaining at the Ottoman Empire’s expense was a powerful
inducement for action. The political uncertainty caused by the Young
Turk Revolution and the Annexation Crisis only weakened the Ottoman
government’s position in the Balkans.The 1909—10 Albanian revolt and the
1911 Italian defeat o f the Ottomans in Libya fuelled the widespread perception
that the empire was in its final throes.
The Balkan Wars, 1912—1913
The first Balkan War began on 8 October 1912, with Montenegro declaring
war on the Ottoman Empire and being joined by its three Balkan allies
within weeks. In his proclamation to the nation, King Georgios I declared
that Greece was undertaking ‘the holy struggle o f justice and freedom
for the oppressed peoples o f the Orient’ . The war was a ‘justified struggle
o f civilization’ . King Ferdinand called the Bulgarian nation to arms by
invoking ‘our brothers in blood and religion [who] still do not have the
happiness to live with human dignity even now, thirty-five years after our
Liberation’ . The Bulgarian cause was ‘sacred’ , Ferdinand’s proclamation
declared, a struggle ‘o f the Cross against the Crescent, o f freedom against
tyranny’ .81 The proclamation o f King Petar o f Serbia stated that recent
events had ‘placed on the agenda a resolution o f the fate o f the Balkan
Peninsula’ .This was a war o f liberation to free ‘our brothers by blood, by
language, [and] by custom’ . King Nikola o f Montenegro called on his people
to rally to the liberation cause, as ‘ the sorrowful cry, which beckons from
Old Serbia from our oppressed brethren, cannot be endured any longer’ .82
Within days o f the initiation o f hostilities, Serbia and Bulgaria together
had mobilized nearly 600,ooo troops. Eventually the combined forces o f the
Balkan League fielded more than 700,000 men from among a combined
total population o f over 10 million. Additional levies o f reservists and
officially sanctioned irregulars would increase these numbers over the ensuing
months. They confronted two Ottoman Balkan armies, one in Thrace
and the other in Macedonia, which had a combined strength o f perhaps
250,ooo.83 The Greek navy’s seizure o f several Aegean islands effectively
prevented the Ottomans from reinforcing their Balkan garrisons. The superiority
in numbers and Western technology (modern field artillery, aerial
reconnaissance, wireless telegraphy, ships) dictated the disastrous outcome
tor the Ottomans, who for the first time confronted modern Balkan armies


rather than mere insurgents. The Bulgarians directed their main attack in
the direction o f the Ottoman capital, moving quickly into eastern Thrace,
defeating the main Ottoman force at Kirklareli and besieging Edirne
(Adrianople) by late October. The Bulgarian army advanced to C atalca, the
last Ottoman defensive line before Constantinople.The Serbian army joined
the Montenegrins in taking Pristina and Novi Pazar.The decisive battle in
Macedonia occurred at Kuraanovo, where the Serbian army inflicted defeat
on the main Ottoman force. Kumanovo decided the outcome o f the war in
Macedonia, and was immediately hailed as a great symbolic victory and
revenge for the Ottoman defeat at Kosovo polje (1389); it has been commemorated
ever since by Serb nationalists.84 Kumanovo opened the way to
Skopje and the occupation o f Kosova vilayet. By mid-November the Serbian
army had advanced to Bitola and Ohrid, where it linked up with the Greeks.
The Montenegrins had laid siege to Shkoder. In the south the Greeks
pushed into Macedonia, taking Salonika in early November, and Epirus,
where Preveze was occupied and Janina besieged. By 3 December 1912,
when the Great Powers established a two-month truce, the Ottomans had
lost their remaining territories in Europe with the exception o f a few
besieged towns. On 16 December parallel peace negotiations began in
London under British mediation; the Great Power diplomats met separately
from the representatives o f the Balkan states and Ottoman Empire. When
the truce expired on 3 February 1913 without a negotiated solution, hostilities
resumed. The Bulgarian army initiated a campaign o f ethnic cleansing
in Thrace. When Edirne fell to the Bulgarians on 28 March, a reign o f
terror descended on Muslim and Christian alike. Janina fell to the Greeks
on 6 March and Shkoder to the Montenegrins on 22 April. B y the spring
o f 1913 Ottoman rule in the Balkans had effectively come to an end.
The first Balkan War created a problematic situation in Albania, where it
became clearer with each passing day that Ottoman rule was nearing its end
and that the intention o f the Balkan League was to partition the Albanian
lands. The political initiative was taken by the Black Society for Salvation.
On 14 October 1912 it organized a meeting o f national leaders in Skopje,
appealed to the Great Powers, and organized an armed resistance to the
Balkan states.Two days later a declaration was issued to European consuls in
Skopje, demanding a unified government for the Albanian lands. On 28
November 1912 a National Assembly at Vlora (Vlore) declared Albania’s
independence and chose a Provisional Government; the declaration called
on the Balkan states to recognize the new government and cease all


operations on Albanian territory.85 The Austro-Hungarian and Italian
consuls at Vlora met with Ismail Kemal Bey, who assured them that the
Provisional Government exercised control on all unoccupied territory.86
The Albanians won the diplomatic support o f Italy, which hoped to use the
new state to extend its influence in the Adriatic, and the Dual Monarchy,
which was determined to keep Serbia from securing a direct oudet to
the sea. In December 1912 the Great Powers assembled at the London
conference accepted in principle Albanian independence.87
On 30 May 1913 the Great Powers imposed the Treaty o f London on the
combatants. The settlement granted Kosovo and parts o f north-western
Macedonia to Serbia while frustrating Belgrade’s hopes o f a corridor to the
Adriatic. Greece acquired southern Macedonia with Salonika but was
denied its ambitions in Albania. Bulgaria gained part ofThrace but most o f
Macedonia remained in Serbian and Greek hands. Denied access to the
Adriatic, Serbia sought compensation in Macedonia and found an ally in
Greece, which still hoped for additional gains in Thrace and Macedonia.
The two sides concluded a secret alliance in the spring, aimed at imposing
on Bulgaria a new arrangement in Macedonia that reflected the de facto
military reality on the ground. Russian efforts at mediation proved abortive.
The Bulgarians, who had done the bulk o f the fighting against the Ottoman
army, believed that their erstwhile allies were attempting to satisfy their own
ambitions at Bulgaria’s expense. On the night o f 29—30 June the Bulgarians
launched a surprise attack on Serbian and Greek positions in Macedonia,
initiating the second Balkan War.88
The assault proved disastrous, as Serbia and Greece were joined by
Romania, Montenegro, and the Ottoman Empire. The fighting ended by
31 July and was formally concluded on 10 August 1913 with the Treaty o f
Bucharest, between Serbia, Greece, Romania, Montenegro, and Bulgaria.
Greece extended its gains in Macedonia and Epirus while Serbia added
more Macedonian territory, at the same time as partitioning Novi Pazar
with Montenegro. Bulgaria received only a small part o f eastern Macedonia,
but managed to secure an Aegean coastline. The new frontiers were subsequendy
ratified in a series o f separate treaties between the Ottoman
Empire and Bulgaria (29 September 1913), Serbia (14 November 1913), and
Greece (14 March 1914).These treaties also regulated the status o f Ottomanowned
property and o f Muslim minorities in the Balkan states, who were
given four years to decide if they wished to remain under Christian rule or to
emigrate. (See lables 2.3-2.5.) If they opted to leave, they were theoretically


permitted to sell their property and transfer their assets to the empire. Those
who chose to remain were promised civil equality and political rights, with
the freedom to practise their religion and culture. These provisions were
never implemented, in part because the Great War created a new set o f circumstances
where Serbia and later Greece found themselves at war with the
Ottoman state. In 1912—13 alone at least 177,000 Muslims emigrated to the
Ottoman Empire, most o f them forced to flee.89 In the event, the Balkan
Wars brought the Macedonian Question to an end. The Albanian Question
was only deferred, as a third o f the Albanian population found itself outside
the new state, primarily in neighbouring Serbia. B y late 1913, the political
geography o f the Balkan Peninsula had been set and, with the minor exception
o f the Bulgarian territories on the Aegean which were ceded to Greece
in 1919, these frontiers have largely been maintained to the present day.
The Balkan Wars put an end to Ottoman rule in the Balkans. The empire
lost 83 per cent o f its land and 69 per cent o f its population in Europe. By
contrast the Balkan states had experienced enormous gains. Serbia’s population
had swelled from an estimated 2.9 million to 4.5 million (an increase
o f 55 per cent) and her territory had been enhanced to 33,891 square miles
(an 81 per cent increase).The corresponding percentage gains in population
and territory for Greece, Bulgaria, and Montenegro were significant: 67.6
and 63.6 per cent; 2.9 and 28.7 per cent; and 100 and 61.2 per cent, respectively.
90 As the Balkan states consolidated their new possessions, mosques
and schools in Anatolia overflowed with refugees from the Balkans. It is
impossible to understand Ottoman policy after 1913 without appreciating
the traumatic effect the disaster o f the Balkan Wars had on the Ottoman
Table 2 .3 . Nationality composition o f areas conquered by Greece in the Balkan Wars
19 1 1 1923 Change (%)
Muslim 746,000 124,000
1 0000
Greek 797,000 1,774,000 + 13 1
Bulgarian 145,000 o - io o
Jewish 75,000 66,000 - 1 3
Other 8,000 7,000 — I I
Total 1,770,000 1,97 1,000 + I I
Note: The 1911 figures for ‘Greek’ and ‘Bulgarian’ are estimates for members o f the two officially
recognized Orthodox millets (the Patriarchate and Exarchate, respectively) and do not necessarily
correlate to nationality, as many Macedonians (and Serbs) were counted as members o f one o f the two
millets. Similarly, the data for ‘Muslims’ include Turks, Pomaks, and Albanians.
.Sourer.Justin McCarthy, 77w Ottoman Peopbs and the find of Empire (Iondon: Arnold, 2001), i j i .


Table 2.4. Nationality composition o f areas conquered by Bulgaria in the Balkan Wars
19 11 1920 C h a n g e (%)
Muslim 328,000 179,000 -45
Greek 29,000 o - io o
Bulgarian 205,000 193,000 - 6
Jewish 1,000 1,000 - 2 3
Other 19,000 1,000 - 95
Total 582,000 373,000 - 3 6
Note: See the note toTable 2.3. In 1920 all adherents o f Orthodoxy (including Macedonians and
others) were enumerated as members o f the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and regarded officially as
Source: Justin McCarthy, The Ottoman Peoples and the End of Empire (London: Arnold, 2001), p. 151.
Table 2 .5 . Nationality composition o f areas conquered by Serbia in the Balkan Wars
19 11 1921 Change (%)
Muslim 1,241,000 566,000 “ 45
Greek/Serbian 286,000 949,000 +232
Bulgarian 782,000 o — ioo
Jewish 9,000 6,000 - 3 8
Other 22,000 18,000 - 1 7
Total 2,341.000 1,540,000 - 3 4
Note: See the notes to Tables 2.4 and 2.5. In 1921 all adherents o f Orthodoxy (designated as ‘Greek/
Serbian’) were enumerated as members o f the Serbian Orthodox Church and regarded officially as
Serbs. Unlike the Patriarchate and Exarchate, in 1911 the Serbian Orthodox Church had no official
recognition on Ottoman territory.
Source: Justin McCarthy, The Ottoman Peoples and the End of Empire (London: Arnold, 2001), 151.
psyche. The Ottomans had lost lands that had been the lifeblood o f the
Empire for centuries. In June 1913 the Young Turk Committee o f Union
and Progress (CUP) established a dictatorship that would lead the Ottoman
state to the end o f the Great War.91 The Great Powers had stood by, even as
they proclaimed their support for the status quo. An Italian journalist reporting
on the Balkan Wars thought that the Ottoman government was in a
state o f ‘putrefaction’ and attributed military incompetence to the simple
fact that Turks were Muslims.92
Several Western contemporaries and later observers attributed the widespread
brutality directed against civilians during the Balkan Wars to the
region’s backwardness. In actual fact, it is the very modernity o f the violence
which marks one o f the most striking hallmarks o f the Balkan Wars. These


wars prefigured twentieth-century warfare, combining attributes o f modern
technology (wireless telegraphy, aerial reconnaissance), national liberation,
and war on the enemy’s culture and civilian population. The ideology o f
integral nationalism was combined with the revolution in fire power and
communications with lethal consequences, drawing in, as Alan Kramer has
noted, ‘ever broader swathes o f society as victims— and as perpetrators’ .93
The widely reported atrocities were not a discrete phenomenon nor mere
by-products o f the fighting, but part o f the longer term project o f nationstate-
building and served as a prelude to the far greater carnage that befell
Europe in i9i4.94The Balkan Wars were the Ottoman state’s first‘total war’,
while the Balkan states mobilized nearly three-quarters o f a million men to
prosecute the war effort.95 Soldiers and civilians alike suffered the appalling
effects o f modern warfare, but without the infrastructure o f modern medicine.
During the wars, Habsburg medical officers noted the appalling injuries
caused by French-manufactured Serbian artillery, but they also observed that
the Bulgarian military lacked the equipment to combat lice or the bandages
needed to treat the wounded. Outbreaks o f cholera and malaria were reported
in theatre.96 A French officer with the Bulgarian army reported that sanitary
conditions were poor and basic preventative hygiene was absent.97
The violence perpetrated by the belligerents was widespread and systematic.
As Serbian troops moved into Kosovo and Macedonia in October 1912,
they proceeded to wipe out entire Albanian villages. Leon Trotsky provided
a vivid account from Serb acquaintances, who reported that in the environs
o f Kumanovo, on the Serbian—Ottoman border, entire Albanian villages had
been turned into pillars o f fire. This picture was repeated the whole way to
Skopje, which was littered with dead Albanians, many o f whom had never
seen battle. Trotsky attributed much o f the worst violence to irregulars and
reservists, although he believed that Serbian officers were ordering the
execution o f prisoners.98 In their liberated territories, the Serbian authorities
treated the population harshly, directing most o f the violence at Muslims
generally and Albanians specifically. O f Prizren’s thirty-two mosques only
two were being used for worship in 1914, while the others had been
converted into stables and barracks.The Habsburg envoy in Belgrade alleged
that the Serbian authorities sponsored or tolerated violence against Muslims
and non-Serbs in the new territories, including pillage, arson, and executions,
prompting a large exodus.99 Edith Durham witnessed the war around
Shkoder during the Montenegrin siege, travelling through villages that had
been razed to the ground and aiding those Albanian peasants who had been


expelled or fled. She noted, ‘The most piteous thing o f all was that few o f
the unhappy victims had any idea why this ruin had fallen upon them.’ 100
The International Commission on the Balkan Wars o f the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace detailed a litany o f atrocities and cruelties
committed on all sides. Reporting on conditions in territories under
Serbian and Montenegrin control, it found ‘whole villages reduced to ashes,
unarmed and innocent populations massacred en masse, incredible acts o f
violence, pillage and brutality o f every kind’ . It understood these methods
as part o f official policy, ‘with a view to the entire transformation o f the
ethnic character o f regions inhabited exclusively by Albanians’ .101 When the
Bulgarians captured Edirne in late March 1913, their violence was directed
at combatants and civilians alike, Muslim, Christian (Greek, Armenian), and
Jew.102 On the Thracian front, retreating Ottoman forces exacted revenge in
several villages.103 In one case, 600 Greek men, women, and children were
massacred by local Muslims ‘with every conceivable circumstance o f
barbarity’ .104 The British vice-consul in Macedonia, H. E. W. Young,
reported extensively on Bulgarian atrocities against civilians in Serres,
Cavalla, and Xanthi, despite the fact that the authorities had surrendered to
the Bulgarians without a tight.105 During the second Balkan War, as the
erstwhile allies wrestled for control o f Macedonia, dehumanizing propaganda
incited brutal forms o f violence; Greek posters in Athens and Salonika
depicted a Greek soldier gouging out the eyes o f a Bulgarian.106 The Greek
officer Ippokratis Papavassiliou wrote to his wife at the start o f the second
Balkan War o f the unimaginable picture o f destruction: ‘Everywhere we go
we come across desolation and misery.’ There was ‘always a burning village
in sight’ . He was unmoved by the plight o f the Bulgarians, however, whom
he described as ‘scoundrels’ and ‘monsters’ .107
As occupation regimes and rudimentary administrations were established,
various pressures were exerted on the population to conform to the new
nation-states. Orthodox priests were employed to ‘persuade’ survivors to
convert. The British consul, Young, reported o f an incident o f forced conversion
o f Bulgarian-speaking Pomaks by Bulgarian Orthodox priests and
irregulars. When Young complained to the Bulgarian authorities, he was
told that these ‘fanatical’ Muslims had signed a petition requesting conversion.
108 The Carnegie Commission concluded that the Exarchate, with
the support o f the military and civilian authorities, conducted the policy
‘systematically’ and on a massive scale, through violence and intimidation.109
The British consul in Monastir (Bitola) reported a similar phenomenon. In


this case, the Serbian authorities compelled the remaining Macedonian and
Bulgarian intelligentsia and villagers to sign a declaration o f loyalty to their
new king and to state that, since their forefathers had allegedly been Serbs,
they were merely asserting their patrimony by declaring themselves ‘Serbs’
in the present.110 As the Serbian administration was extended to Macedonia,
the Serbian Orthodox Church replaced the Exarchate as the dominant
nationalizing institution, which entailed the cultural assimilation o f the
non-Serb Orthodox population o f the region. The Bulgarian and Greek
churches performed the same function in their respective territories.
The primary objective o f the Balkan combatants had been to eliminate
potentially hostile populations through ethnic cleansing. This was to be
achieved by various means, including murder, intimidation, and expulsion.
The actions o f all the Balkan combatants were additionally driven by trepidation
that Great Power intervention would dictate a settlement at
variance with their own plans, as had occurred in the past; expelling Muslims
and others from their occupation zones served to buttress their diplomatic
claims. The result was the wholesale destruction o f villages and the murder
or expulsion o f many o f their inhabitants. The Carnegie Commission took
the burning o f villages, the forced exodus o f defeated populations, and the
war on their cultures— ethnic cleansing—as ‘a normal and traditional
incident o f all Balkan wars and insurrections’ . It saw a seemingly unbreakable
cycle o f revenge being played out: ‘What they have suffered themselves,
they inflict in turn upon others.’ 111 While Mushm civilians o f different
nationality were the primary victims o f this concerted campaign, the
Carnegie Commission found the belligerents’ treatment o f enemy
combatants to be equally harsh and a violation o f the laws and customs o f
war, in particular the Hague Convention (1907).112 The Balkan Wars
contributed immensely to the region’s reputation in the Western imagination
as a zone o f endemic violence and brutality, as conveyed by the
Carnegie Commission’s report and other contemporarv observers. What is
remarkable is that this reputation persisted, in light o f the far greater carnage
which befell Europe in 1914 and the fact that patterns o f warfare and
political violence experienced during the Great War were not dissimilar
from those o f the Balkan Wars.
The enormous scale o f violence visited upon the populations o f
Macedonia, Kosovo, and Thrace during and immediately after the wars left
.1 bitter legacy; the seeds o f revenge had been planted and would be harvested
at various critical junctures in later years. I lundrcds o f thousands o f


Muslim refugees (muhajir) fled to the relative safety o f Anatolia and within
another decade only 38 per cent o f the pre-1912 Balkan Muslim population
remained.113 The Balkan Wars proved decisive for identity politics and the
treatment o f minorities. Despite this exodus, the Balkan states now possessed
significant minority populations; they ceased being, as Serbia and Greece
had been until 1912, relatively homogeneous nation-states. The ruling
political ehtes o f these states were unaccustomed to governing multiethnic
societies. Moreover, as the second Balkan War had been the first modern
armed conflict between Balkan Orthodox nation-states, with a high level o f
popular mobilization, nationalist rhetoric, and killing on an unprecedented
scale, it could be said to mark the final victory o f secular nationalism and the
modern nation-state in the Balkans.114
It is noteworthy that some segments o f Balkan political society opposed
the march to war. Both the socialists and peasantists voiced principled opposition
to the conduct o f the Balkan Wars. The Serbian Social Democratic
Party (SSDP), founded shortly after the 1903 coup, supported liberation
from Ottoman rule but favoured social revolution and Balkan federalism.lls
In 1912, two party leaders,Trica Kaclerovic and Dusan Popovic, supported
the formation o f the Balkan League as a means o f liberating the Balkans
from Ottoman rule, while others, notably Dimitrije Tucovic and Dragisa
Lapcevic, were opposed. Lapcevic remarked in the Serbian National
Assembly in October 1912, shortly after the Serbian entry into the war, that
his party was ‘for the elimination o f the status quo in the entire Balkan
Peninsula’ , but warned strenuously that partitioning the Balkans ‘into individual
small countries will precisely create new sources o f friction among
the Balkan nations and statelets’ . He opposed war between Balkan peoples
‘not only because it would be bloody and terrible for us’ , but also because
it would, he feared, make them even more susceptible to the machinations
o f Great Power imperialism. B y placing boundaries on nationally heterogeneous
and undifferentiated Macedonia, the Balkan Wars would invariably
lead to new conflicts and undermine the prospects o f Balkan federalism.
Tucovic told an anti-war rally in late 1912 that the Serbian Socialists ‘want
the freedom o f our people while not destroying the freedom o f others’ .116
The second Balkan War and the introduction o f crude political regimes in
the ‘newly liberated territories’ confirmed the Socialists’ worst fears. The
Serbian attempt to access the Adriatic via Albanian territory was criticized
.is ‘dwarfish Balkan imperialism’ , mimicking the worst excesses ofWestern
imperialism. They presciendy argued that the Serbian government’s


violation o f the rights o f other peoples reflected its disdain o f democracy,
which ultimately would imperil the freedoms o f all citizens, including Serbs.
In 1914 the SSDP was the only member o f the Socialist Second International
to vote against military credits in its own parliament.
The Bulgarian Labour Social Democratic Party was also opposed to the
Balkan Wars. In November 1912 it questioned whether the Balkan League
would survive the defeat o f the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans, and wished
to include Turkey in its plans for a Balkan federation in light o f the existence
o f millions o f Balkan Muslims. On the eve o f the first Balkan War, the
Bulgarian peasantist leader, Aleksandiir Stamboliiski, clearly oudined his
principled opposition to war: ‘We are not seeking war with Turkey, because
we know how the horrible consequences are borne by working peasants,
who fill the barracks and who will sacrifice the most capable o f their
children on the battlefield.’ 117 The Socialist Federation o f Salonika, founded
in 1909 and consisting mainly ofjewish but also Bulgarian, Greek, and Muslim
members, supported ‘a regime o f total national equality’ . The partition o f
Macedonia and Thrace would merely lead to new conflicts between Greece,
Bulgaria, and Serbia. After the first Balkan War, the Federation supported, in a
report to the International Socialist Bureau o f the Second International, an
autonomous Macedonia.118 Indeed, much as Balkan socialists had feared, what
ensued in the immediate aftermath o f the wars were state policies o f national
homogenization directed at ‘undesirable’ minorities.119
The Great War and the Balkans
The Balkan Wars may have closed the Macedonian Question and deferred
the Albanian, but they brought to the forefront the South Slav Question.120
The Bosnian Annexation Crisis had much to do with the South Slav
Question, the most difficult nationality problem in the Habsburg monarchy.
In particular, the monarchy was concerned that its large Serb minority in
Hosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and southern Hungary, was a dangerous
irredentist force. Between 1882 and 1903, when Serbia had been a client state
o f the Dual Monarchy, the South Slav Question was hardly pressing. But
after 1903, as Austro-Serbian relations deteriorated, the idea o f settling scores
with Serbia, preferably through war, became a familiar one in Habsburg military
and political circles. The outcome o f this situation was the decision to
put an end to the ambiguous status o f Bosnia-I lerzegovina by annexing


the provinces, closing the door to Serbia’s irredentist hopes while risking a
European diplomatic crisis by unilaterally violating the terms o f the Treaty
o f Berlin. The significance o f the Bosnian Annexation Crisis is thus considerable,
but it was the Balkan Wars which left behind them an important
train o f consequences. One o f the most important o f these was the exacerbation
o f Austro-Serbian hostility. The Habsburg monarchy concluded that
Serbia was a threat, a dangerous focal point o f attraction to her South Slavs.
For her part, Serbia deeply resented the frustration o f her aims, first in
Bosnia (1908) and then Albania (1912), for which the Habsburg monarchy
was mainly responsible.
The South Slav Question provided the immediate pretext for the chain
o f events leading to the Great War. The assassination on 28 June 1914 o f the
heir to the Habsburg throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, precipitated
the actions leading to war. The Habsburg monarchy blamed Serbia for the
assassination and used the occasion to try to suppress Serbia as a Balkan
power and to forestall any possibility o f having its rule in Bosnia undermined.
The Serbian government had not planned the assassination, although some
officers o f the Serbian army had connections to the assassin, Gavrilo Princip,
and probably knew o f his plans. In the summer o f 1914, both the Habsburg
monarchy and Serbia believed that their domestic and international prestige
were in jeopardy. After gaining Germany’s promise o f support, on 28 July
1914 the Austro-Hungarian authorities declared war on Serbia, setting o ff a
chain o f events that led to the Great War. For the Serbian regime, the
humiliating terms o f the Austrian ultimatum would have undone the
progress made since 1903 in achieving independence from Habsburg
influence.121 Both sides believed that they were in a strong position to win
a limited war while neither side considered the possibility o f a wider
European conflict, nor did they believe that their differences could be settled
by negotiation. There was generally too little fear o f war.
Patterns o f warfare and violence in the Balkans during the Great War
remained unchanged from the Balkan Wars. The only significant difference
was the participation o f the Great Powers and the occupation o f much o f
the region by them. The Austro-Hungarian campaign against Serbia was
waged with considerable ruthlessness and devastating lethality, the violence
being directed against both Bosnian Serbs and the civilian population o f
Serbia during the occupation. The Habsburg authorities openly persecuted
the Serb population as a fifth column. During the war more than 5,000
Bosnian Serbs were interned in camps, o f whom between 700 and 2,200


died, and in order to pacify eastern Bosnia thousands o f Serb families were
resetded.The wartime Habsburg reprisals marked the first time in modern
Bosnian history that a significant number o f people were killed for
their national affiliation.122 The virulent anti-Serbianism o f the pre-1914
Viennese nationalist press helped condition the brutal occupation policies
o f the war.123 The Austro-Hungarian invasion at the end o f July 1914 failed
miserably, but a renewed offensive in the autumn led to the temporary
occupation o f Belgrade. B y mid-December 1914 the Serbian counteroffensive
successfully repulsed the Austro-Hungarian military, with brief
forays into both Habsburg and Albanian territories.124
The inability o f the Austro-Hungarian military to effect a decisive victory
led to a wider campaign against all perceived internal enemies. A wave
o f arrests had been made in the aftermath o f Franz Ferdinands assassination,
but following the initiation o f hostilities these were amplified to draw in
much broader segments o f Bosnian Serb society. B y the summer o f 1914, at
least 150 detained Bosnian Serbs were executed. The pursuit o f internal
enemies soon resembled a cultural war against Serbs in Bosnia, with Cyrillic
being banned and Orthodox schools closed. Moreover, as rumours spread in
the Austro-Hungarian military o f civilians and irregulars perpetrating atrocities
against soldiers, troops took it upon themselves to respond in kind,
perpetrating violence against Serb soldiers and civilians alike. In 1914 as
many as 4,000 Serb civilians may have been killed in executions and acts o f
random violence by Habsburg troops.
When the Austro-Hungarian military launched a renewed offensive in
1915, with German and Bulgarian assistance, the Serbian government and
army were forced to retreat across Albania to Corfu in the Adriatic.
Accompanied by tens o f thousands o f civilians and prisoners o f war, the
retreat to the Adriatic proved fatal for thousands. Occupied Serbia was partitioned
between the Habsburg monarchy and Bulgaria, which regained
coveted Macedonian territory. Both occupation regimes proved remarkably
harsh. B y 1916 the Bulgarian occupation regime in Macedonia had replaced
the Serbian administration and staff, the intelligentsia and clergy were
muzzled, and more than 2,000 persons were allegedly executed for resisting
the new regime. Resistance did not acquire a serious political character until
the autumn o f 1916, when the Habsburg military had to contend with Serb
irregular detachments in Montenegro attacking military installations and
railways. Resistance culminated in the month-long Toplice Uprising
(February and March 1917) under the Serbian officer Kosta Milovanovic


Pecanac, a veteran o f the Macedonian conflict and Balkan Wars. Even before
the uprising, both the Habsburg and Bulgarian occupation authorities had
exacted reprisals, including deportations and executions, against the civilian
population. O f the 5,000 insurgents who participated in the Toplice
Uprising, half were killed while thousands o f civilians were victimized during
anti-partisan operations.125 B y the following year, reprisals increased in
scope.126 The scale o f the suffering is testified to by the losses suffered by
both sides. O f the nearly 450,000 Habsburg troops deployed to Serbia
during the war, 273,000 casualties were suffered, while Serbian losses were
proportionally significantly larger: 300,000 civilians and 250,000 soldiers.127
The Great War in the Balkans was by intent a war of annihilation against the
Serbian state which, given the anti-partisan warfare accompanying the
occupation, entailed the victimization o f ever larger numbers o f civilians.
As in the Balkan Wars, the region’s weak and depleted infrastructure resulted
in massive casualties resulting from disease and hunger.128
A similar pattern was discernible in the Ottoman Empire, although the
tragedy played out there was greater in scale. Since June 1913, following the
disastrous first Balkan War, the Ottoman Empire was governed by a CU P
dictatorship which retained power until the last days o f the realm.The magnitude
o f the loss suffered during the Balkan Wars at the hands o f former
subjects was a painful pill to swallow. The widespread atrocities perpetrated
against Balkan Muslims dealt a shattering blow to Ottomanist ideals and
invigorated those with aTurkist outlook.129 The CU P leadership concluded
that the assurances o f the Great Powers as a collective were worthless, as
their previous declarations in support o f the territorial status quo were
proven to be hollow.130 This led the Ottomans to seek an alliance with a
Great Power patron. Initially rebuffed by each o f the Great Powers, the July
Crisis altered matters considerably and in August 1914 a German—Ottoman
alliance was concluded. The empire initially declared ‘armed neutrality’ as a
prelude to direct participation, in autumn 19 14.131 Even before the entry
into the war, in 1913, negotiations were started with the Greek government
for the ‘voluntary’ exchange o f populations. The Great War prevented these
transfers, however. Nevertheless, in early 1914 over 100,000 Greeks and
Armenians were expelled or fled from the Izmir (Smyrna) region, Thrace,
and the Aegean coastline to Greece, with the approval o f Ottoman authorities.
132 After the Ottoman Empire entered the Great War, thousands o f
Greeks and other Christians were deported to the interior o f Anatolia and
the islands and used as forced labour.133 The Turkist element saw the Great


War as an opportunity to augment their control and hasten the process o f
turkification.This entailed the continuation o f an anti-Greek policy in the
Aegean littoral, where according to the Greek government dozens o f Greek
villages were destroyed and 30,000 Greeks uprooted between December
1916 and February 1917.TIÙS pohcy could be interpreted as part o f a campaign
o f modernization; not only were food and other goods requisitioned
from the Greeks, contributions were exacted in money for the purpose o f
erecting barracks, installing telephones, and other infrastructure.134
Elsewhere in the Balkans, the mood in 1914 was generally sombre and
the wave o f popular enthusiasm for war seen in Paris, London, and Berlin
was almost entirely absent. Serbia had no choice and there, as in Montenegro
which sided with Serbia, the war was seen as defensive and a struggle for
national survival. War aims were articulated early on and the Serbian political
establishment hoped that an Entente victory would lead to Serb
national unification, through Serbian expansion to Bosnia-Herzegovina and
Dalmatia at the very least. In Croatia, most Croat politicians initially
supported the Habsburg war effort in the hope that it would lead to a
reorganization o f the monarchy along federalist orTrialist lines.135 But in
late 1914 a number o f Croat politicians, led by Ante Trumbic and Frano
Supilo, chose exile and established in 1915 the émigré Yugoslav Committee,
which propagandized among the Entente the cause ofYugoslav statehood.
Its activities were spurred on by fears, subsequently proven correct, that the
Entente had made extensive territorial concessions to Italy in Dalmatia
and elsewhere as inducement for the latter’s entry into the Great War.136 At
an early point, these émigrés, like their Czech and Polish counterparts,
conceptualized the Great War as a national liberation struggle. In June 1917
( he Yugoslav Committee and exiled Serbian government signed the Corfu
1 )eclaration outhning the principles o f a post-war union o f Serbs, Croats,
and Slovenes.137
In Sofia, Bucharest, and Athens, politicians were divided. While initially
opting for neutrality, none o f the Balkan states could ignore the war and the
opportunities it seemingly provided. All three weighed the decision for war
in terms o f the potential to realize long-standing nationalist programmes.138
Under Prime Minister Vasil Radoslavov (r. 19 13 -18 ), Bulgaria moved away
I mm its earlier pro-Russian course. The flood o f refugees from Macedonia
and Thrace served as an ever present reminder that the Treaty o f Bucharest
would not remain the final settlement o f the Eastern Question.139 Bulgarian
opinion remained divided as long -standing Russophile sentiment competed


with the painful trauma o f the Balkan Wars. Bulgaria thus negotiated with
both sides. In late May 1915 the Entente promised most o f Macedonia and
eastern Thrace, on the condition that Serbia gained Bosnia at the end o f the
war. However, a combination o f Entente battlefield setbacks and Serbian
refusal to concede territory in Macedonia turned Bulgaria towards an alliance
with the Central Powers, which agreed to Bulgarian terms. In October
1915 Sofia entered the war and soon occupied most o f Macedonia, where a
harsh occupation regime was implemented.140
In Romania, which had been formally allied since 1883 to the Habsburg
monarchy, the war produced a fissure among the political class. The
Conservatives were divided if sympathetic to the Central Powers while the
Liberals under Ion Bratianu were united and supportive o f the Entente.141
Bucharest adopted neutrality and was eventually courted by both sides. In
late June 1916, the British and French issued a joint threat to Bucharest that
i f it failed to enter the war on the side o f the Entente, it would lose all
prospect o f winning Transylvania. Nationalist groups similarly pressured the
government to intervene on the side o f the Entente.142 In light o f recent
Russian battlefield successes against the Habsburg monarchy, Bratianu
consented to a military convention with Britain and France on 17 August
1916. Despite some political opposition, King Ferdinand (r. 1914—27) supported
the decision and on 27 August 1916 Romania declared war on the
Dual Monarchy. While the choice for war had been made by Bratianu and
the Liberal establishment, the pressure exerted by the Entente was considerable.
In the short term, the decision seemed disastrous as the Central Powers
succeeded by December 1916 in occupying Wallachia (with Bucharest) and
Dobrudja. The Romanian government and army retreated to northern
Moldavia, but the Russian Revolutions o f 1917 isolated Romania and a new
Conservative government sued for peace on 7 May 1918. On 10 November
1918, on the eve o f the armistice, Romania re-entered the war on the side
o f the Entente.143
The Greek decision to enter the war was the most difficult and convoluted
o f all. The country had barely digested its recent territorial
acquisitions from the Balkan Wars, remained involved in southern Albania,
where Athens continued to support Greek irregulars against the nascent
Albanian state, and the political class was divided.144 Greece’s territorial gains
had stoked hopes in nationalist circles o f achieving the Megali Idea. The
debate was never over which side to support, but whether to join the Entente
or remain neutral.145 King Constantine I (r. 1913—17,1920—2) and many senior


military officers sympathized with the Central Powers, while Venizelos was
decidedly pro-Entente. The Ententes occupation o f Salonika (autumn 1915)
and Corfu (January 1916), which was used as an asylum for the retreating
Serbian army, was deeply resented in Athens.146 In May 1916 Bulgarian
troops occupied the area north o f Salonika, without Greek resistance. Both
sides thus violated Greek neutrality. In August 1916 a group o f pro-Entente
officers staged a coup in Salonika with Venizelos’s knowledge. He joined
them in October 1916 and proceeded to establish a parallel government and
army. A national schism ensued. In December 1916 an Anglo-French force
landed in Athens, but strong resistance by the Greek army and irregulars
compelled its retreat under heavy casualties. This led to an Anglo-French
naval blockade and increased occupation in the north, leaving Athens with
only the Peloponnese and southern Thessaly under its control. On 10 June
1917 the allies issued an ultimatum calling on the king to abdicate under
threat o f a renewed occupation o f Athens. The king complied and Venizelos
assumed control. Greece formally declared war on the Central Powers on 30
June 1917, the last European country to enter the Great War.147
In the end, the decision to enter the war was prolonged and difficult but,
as in the Balkan Wars, Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece sought the realization
o f their national aspirations and the fulfilment of their ideologies of
irredenta. Both the Entente and Central Powers exerted considerable pressure
on the Balkan states, including the violation o f their neutrality, but
ultimately the Great Powers did not force the politicians in question—
Venizelos, Bratianu, and Radoslavov— to act against their inclinations.148
They merely offered terms compatible with the Balkan leaders’ nationalist
aspirations. Only in the case o f Romania were these aspirations fulfilled, in
the settlement dictated at the Paris Peace Conference (1919),149 while those
o f Bulgaria were completely dashed. The peace treaties stemming from the
Paris Peace Conference shaped the post-war European order and new
Balkan frontiers. National self-determination was adopted as the guiding
principle, on the basis o f Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, but drawing
new frontiers in the heterogeneous Balkans proved problematic. The Paris
peacemakers were in the end driven by practical considerations o f a strategic
nature and a purposeful level o f vindictiveness was inevitable. Enemy
states and peoples, like the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria, faired poorly and
the resultant settlement was thus hardly ideal. The principle o f national selfdetermination
was violated on several occasions, leading to new conflicts,
population exchanges, and several states with large minority populations.


According to the Treaty o f Neuilly (27 November 1919) Bulgaria was forced
to cede Dobrudja to Romania, western Thrace to Greece, and Macedonia and
other territories to the new Kingdom o f Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes
(‘Yugoslavia’). In addition to Dobrudja, Romania acquired coveted
Transylvania with its large Magyar minority, the predominandy Romanianspeaking
Bessarabia (Moldova) from Russia, and the former Austrian province
o f Bukovina.The only new state to emerge in the Balkans was the Kingdom
o f Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, formed on 1 December 1918 and consisting o f
the South Slavic regions o f Austria-Hungary and pre-war Balkan states o f
Serbia and Montenegro.
Greek-Turkish War and the Treaty o f Lausanne
The Greek leadership under Venizelos had grand territorial ambitions at the
end o f the war, which were pursued with great vigour at the Paris Peace
Conference. However, Greece’s entry into the Great War resulted only in the
acquisition o f western Thrace and Bulgaria’s Aegean coastline. Venizelos had
hoped for additional territory at the expense ol Albania and the Ottoman
Empire. In July 1919 Greece and Italy reached agreement over the partition o f
Albania, but the Paris Peace Conference had rejected their pretensions to
Albanian territory. Thereafter, Greek leaders directed their attention to
Ottoman land, their most important goals being the acquisition o f
Constantinople and the Greek-populated littoral o f Anatolia. At the
Paris Peace Conference, the ‘overwhelmingly frank, genial and subde’ 150
Venizelos lobbied assiduously for Greek claims. These were based on a
combination o f historical proofs and inflated population statistics, extended to
southern Albania, all o f Thrace, and the Aegean islands, in addition to western
Anatolia.These had long been the treasured domain o f the Megali Idea.
Despite the objections of their experts, in May 1919 the Big Three at
Paris endorsed a Greek occupation o f Smyrna (Izmir), which had a
larger Greek population than Athens, in advance o f a peace treaty with
the Ottoman Empire. The abortive Treaty o f Sèvres (10 August 1920)
forced the greatly reduced Ottoman state to cede Smyrna and its environs
to Greece, and much o f southern Anatolia to Italy and France. The
Greeks and Allies simply ignored the ethnography o f Anatolia and the
principle o f national self-determination. Venizelos was helped considerably
by Lloyd George’s dislike o f the Muslim Turk, which he made


known in no uncertain terms. The British Foreign Secretary Lord
Curzon, in a document entitled ‘The Future o f Constantinople’ ,
expressed his loathing o f the Turk: ‘For more than five centuries, the
presence o f the Turk in Europe has been a source . . . o f oppression and
misrule.’ Lord Curzon wanted an International Commission to rule
Constantinople, the Sultan expelled, and the great Byzantine basilica o f
St Sophia reconsecrated. The Turk should be treated severely: ‘Let not
this occasion be missed o f purging the earth o f one o f its most pestilent
roots o f evil.’ 151
The Greek occupation, under British protection, was welcomed by
much o f the local Greek population. Although it had been spared warfare
during the Great War, western Anatolia experienced shortages o f food and
livestock while hundreds o f thousands o f Muslim refugees had settled there,
many o f them from the Balkans. Animosity between Greek and Turk had
already intensified as a result o f the Balkan Wars, but tensions mounted
following the arrival o f the Greek army. The Greek occupation policy was
predicated on the assumption that the Megali Idea could be secured and
made permanent only through the expulsion ot Muslims. A harsh occupation
regime ensued— documented by several Allied officials— as Greek
control was gradually extended further inland, provoking a massive
displacement o f new refugees.152 In the summer o f 1920 the Greeks pushed
into eastern Thrace and further into Anatolia in search o f empire. News o f
atrocities against the Muslim population stirred resentment and resistance,
which coalesced around the Turkish nationalist leader Mustafa Kemal
Atatiirk and his revolutionary government. The August 1922 Turkish
counter-offensive turned into a rout, as an increasingly demoralized Greek
army beat a hasty retreat, joined by streams o f refugees, to the western
littoral. Even before the war ended, Turkish forces had adopted a ruthless
scorched-earth policy, torching Greek villages and conducting their own
policy o f ethnic cleansing. The ghastly denouement came in September
1922, as tens o f thousands o f refugees crowded into heterogeneous
Smyrna.153 Turkish revenge for earlier Greek atrocities was pitiless,
culminating in the four-day Great Fire that began on 13 September. The
number o f dead remains contested, with estimates ranging from 10,000 to
more than ioo,ooo.With the destruction o f Smyrna, observed passively by
the Great Powers who had authorized the occupation o f 1919, the Greek
presence in western Anatolia, which had a history spanning nearly three
millennia, came to an abrupt and brutal end.


The Lausanne Convention (January 1923), negotiated between Greece
and the new Turkish Republic under the auspices o f the newly formed
League o f Nations, specified the first ever compulsory exchange o f populations—
ethnic cleansing in all but name— which was internationally
endorsed in the Treaty o f Lausanne (23 July 1923).The ethnographic map o f
the Aegean zone was altered radically and permanently. Approximately 1.5
million Greeks (and other Christians) left Turkey for Greece and nearly
400,000 MushmTurks migrated in the other direction.154 A Greek—Bulgarian
agreement for voluntary exchange o f populations was included in a protocol
to the Treaty o f Neuilly (1919),155 making provision for the removal o f
nearly 200,000 Slavs (Bulgarians and Macedonians) to Bulgaria. The Treaty
o f Lausanne merely confirmed on paper what had already become a welladvanced
project on the ground; by July 1923, more than a million Greeks
had already fled Anatolia.156 In a broader sense, it marked the inglorious end
o f empire and culmination o f the ‘unmixing peoples’ that had started a decade
earlier with the Balkan Wars.
The destruction o f the Greek community o f Smyrna had its immediate
roots in the Great War and the Greek effort to take possession o f the spoils
o f the disintegrating Ottoman Empire in pursuit o f the Megali Idea. It
marked the logical though hardly inevitable conclusion o f a process
initiated at the Congress o f Berlin. Whereas the Berlin settlement had
conferred independence on the nascent Balkan nation-states, the Lausanne
settlement confirmed the primacy o f the nationality principle: the homogeneous
nation-state won out over other possible types o f polity. The road
from Berlin to Lausanne was littered with millions o f casualties. In the
period between 1878 and I9i2,as many as two million Muslims emigrated
voluntarily or involuntarily from the Balkans. When one adds those who
were killed or expelled between 1912 and 1923, the number o f Muslim
casualties from the Balkan far exceeds three million. B y 1923 fewer than
one million remained in the Balkans.157 More than 300,000 Greeks and
other Christians may have perished between 1919 and 1922, with over one
million refugees resettled to Greece. I f one includes Bulgarian, Romanian,
and Serb casualties in the decade before Lausanne, the number o f victims
(dead, wounded, and refugees) exceeded six million. The ideology o f


nationalism and modern patterns o f warfare tore asunder the mosaic that
was the Ottoman Balkans.
The Balkan Peninsula o f 1923 was in many fundamental respects quite
dissimilar from the Balkans o f 1878 or even 1912. The most obvious difference
was reflected in political geography, specifically the disappearance o f
the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires and the emergence o f two new states,
Albania and the Kingdom o f Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. The new political
geography may have conformed more faithfully to the nationality principle
than the one crafted by the Berlin settlement, but the ethnolinguistic
demographics o f the region had been reshaped in an essential way. Whole
populations had been removed from their ancestral homes through war,
revolution, and violence. Some could not be moved, becoming minorities
in the new states. Integral nationahsm had exacted a heavy price. The
violence and ethnic cleansing o f this period were hardly sui generis ‘Balkan’ .
Patterns o f violence, from the Macedonian conflict to the Greek—Turkish
War, remained consistent and were determined by modernizing states.
Nevertheless, as a result o f the Balkan Wars relations between the region’s
nation-states and minority populations stood at their nadir. Serbian-
Albanian relations still have not fully recovered from these conflicts. In the
event, the state-sponsored Balkan violence differed little from the brutalities
inflicted by the Habsburg authorities during the Great War on segments
o f its own population and in occupied territories, and certainly pales
in comparison to the wartime Armenian genocide. The Great War had
radicalized mentalities and policies across Europe. Moreover, the 'small
power imperialisms’ o f the Balkan states seem pallid in relation to the far
more grandiose imperialist projects which were articulated during the Great
War by both Imperial Germany and the Entente, and implemented by the
latter after 1919 in former Ottoman lands and elsewhere. Reuben Markham’s
remark, quoted at the beginning o f this chapter, that the early twentiethcentury
Balkans resembled ‘communities living on the edge o f a large tract
o f very desirable public land that was about to be opened up and given to
whomsoever managed to put their stakes down first’ , thus seems remarkably
apt.Viewed in this light, the anti-Turkish views expressed by Lloyd George
and Lord Curzon in 1919 may not be particularly surprising. They were not
dissimilar to those ofVenizelos or other Balkan staesmen but ultimately they
were far more dangerous as they facilitated the ensuing disaster.


1. Reuben H enry Markham, Meet Bulgaria (Sofia:T h e author, 19 3 1) , 65.
2. William Miller, 7 he Balkans: Roumania, Bulgaria, Servia and Montenegro
(N ew Y o rk and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons & T . Fisher U nw in , 1907), p. vii.
3. Skender Rizaj, ‘Struktura stanovmstva Kosovskog vilajeta u drugoj polovini
X IX stoleca’ , Vranjski glasnik, 8 (1972), 9 5 - 1 10 ; and Ma rija Pandevska, Prisilni
migracii vo Makedonija 1875—1881 (Skopje: Institut za nacionalna istorija, 1993),
10 8 - 9 , 1 1 7 - 1 8 .
4. This figure is taken from Dubravka Stojanovic, ‘U spiralu zlocina: balkanski
ratovi’ , 7 M ay 2009, h ttp ://w w w.p e scan ik.ne t/content/v iew /3 0 9 2 / 14 3 / ; and
Milos Jagodic, ‘T h e Emigration o f M uslims from the N ew Serbian Regions
18 7 7 / 18 7 8 ’ , Balkanologie, 2 / 2 (Dec. 1998), at http://balkanologie.revues.org/
index265.html (both accessed Feb. 2010).


5. N ico le Immig,‘T h e “ N ew ” Muslim Minorities in Greece: B etwe en Emigration
and Political Participation, 18 8 1—1886’ , Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 29/4
(2009), 5 1 1 - 2 2 .
6. Charles and Barbara Jelavich, The Establishment of the Balkan National States,
1804-1920 (Seattle and London: University ofWashington Press, 1977), 2 12 .
7. Marian Kent, The Great Powers and the End of the Ottoman Empire (London:
Roudedge, 1996), 77.
8. Markham, Meet Bulgaria, 63.
9. See Victor R oudometof, ‘T h e Social O rigin s o f B alkan Politics: Nationalism,
Underdevelopment, and the Nation-State in Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria,
18 8 0 - 19 2 0 ’ , Mediterranean Quarterly, 1 1 / 3 (Summer 2000), 14 4 -6 3 .
10. Jo h n R. Lampe and Marvin R. Jackson, Balkan Economic History, 1550-1950: From
Imperial Borderlands to Developing Nations (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University
Press, 1982), 2 1 1 .
1 1 . J . R. Lampe, Balkans into Southeastern Europe (N ew York and London: Palgrave,
2006), 25.
12. Lampe and Jackson, Balkan Economic History, 234.
13. It is worth noting, however, that Bulgaria today has over 1,0 0 0 mosques. See
‘Second Mosque in Sofia?’ , Sofia Echo (5 Dec. 2008). In Romania several
mosques survived in northern Dobrudja, an Ottoman possession from 1420 to
1878, where the Tatar and Turkish minorities are concentrated. T h e Mangalia
Mosque (1525) is the oldest, while the Carol I Mosque in Costan(a (1910) was
reconstructed, as the name suggests, under K in g Carol I. See George Grigore,
‘Muslims in Romania’ , International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modem
World Newsletter, 3 (Ju ly 1999), 34.
14. C ited in M an n V. P u n d e ff,‘B ulga ria ’ , in Joseph Held (ed.), 77ie Columbia Flistory
of Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century (N ew York: C olumbia University Press,
1992), 68.
15. Diana Mishkova, ‘Modernization and Political Elites in the Balkans before the
First World War’ , East European Politics and Societies, 9 / 1 (Winter 1995), 63—89.
16. V ictor Roudometof, Nationalism, Globalization, and Ortho doxy .The Social Origins
of Ethnic Conflict in the Balkans (Westport, C on n .: Greenwood Press, 200 1),
16 5 -6 .
17. Ibid. 26.
18. O n Balkan economic modernization in this period, in addition to the Lampe
and Jackson book, see Daniel Ch irot (ed.), The Origins of Backwardness in Eastern
Europe: Economics and Politics from the Middle Ages until the Early Twentieth Century
(Los Angeles-Berkeley: University o f California Press, 1989); and Michael
R . Palairet, The Balkan Economies c. 1800-1914: Evolution Without Development
(Cambridge: CU P , 2004).
19. Gale Stok es,‘Social O rigin s o f East European Politics’ , in Ch irot (ed.), Origins
of Backwardness, 2 3 0 - 1 .


20. V Georgescu, The Romanians, ed. M . Calinescu and tr. A . B le y-Vroman
(Columbus, O h io: O h io State University press, 19 9 1), 183—4.
2 1. O n Stambolov, see Duncan M . Perry, Stefan Stambolov and the Emergence of
Modern Bulgaria, 1870-189% (Durham, N C : D uke University Press, 1993); and
D imitü r Ivanov, Stambolov i Bülgariia: Sbornik (Sofia: Ares pres, 1995).
22. R .J. Crampton, Short History of Bulgaria (Cambridge: CUP, 1987), 39—4o;Jelavich
and Jelavich, Establishment, 158—69.
23. See the discussion in Galia I.Valtchinova,‘B etw e en a Balkan “ H om e ” and the
“West” : Popular Conceptions o f the West in Bulgaria after 19 4 5 ’ , in Andrew
Hammond (ed.), The Balkans and the West: Constructing the European Other,
1945-2003 (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2004), 136—52.
24. See D. Mishkova, ‘Literacy and N a tion-B uildin g in Bulgaria, 1878—19 12 ’ , East
European Quarterly, 2 9 / 1 (1994), 86.
25. R oudometof, Nationalism, Globalization, and Orthodoxy, p. 167.
26. Richard C lo g g , Parties and Elections in Greece: The Search for Legitimacy (Durham,
N C : D u k e University Press, 1987), 1—17 ; Je lavich and Jelavich, Establishment,
27. C lo g g , Parties and Elections in Greece, 3—4.
28. C ited ibid. 3 -4 .
29. Ibid. 7. O n the 1909 coup and the role o f the Greek military, see S. Victor
Papacosma, The Military in Greek Politics: The 1909 Coup d ’Etat (Kent, Ohio:
Kent State University Press, 1977). A broader study o f the development o f the
Greek military is provided by Thanos Veremes, 77te Military in Greek Politics:
From Independence to Democracy (Montreal: B lack Rose, 1997).
30. Roudome tof, Nationalism, Globalization, and Orthodoxy, 166.
31. Mark Mazower, ‘T h e Messiah and the Bourgeoisie: Venizelos and Politics in
Greece, 1909—19 12 ’ , Historical Journal, 3 5 /4 (1992), 885—904.
32. Olga Popovic Obradovic, Parlamentarizam u Srbiji od 1903 do 1914 godine
(Belgrade: Sluzbeni list, 1988), 56; Andrej Mitrovic,'Problem! i pitanja modernizacije
Srbije’ ,in H ans-Georg Fleck and Igor G raovac (eds .),Dijalog Povjesnicara-
Istoricara 2 (Zagreb: Friedrich Naumann, 2000). 8 1—7. Serbian domestic
developments are also covered in Jelavich and Jelavich, Establishment, 53—67.
33. Popovic Obradovic, Parlamentarizam u Srbiji, 57—62.
34. O n the emergence o f political parties in Serbia and their views on modernization,
see Gale Stokes, Politics as Development: The Emergence of Political Parties
in Nineteenth-Century Serbia (Durham, N C : D u k e University Press, 1990):
Dubravka Stojanovic. ‘Nekohk o osobina procesa modernizacije u Srbiji
pocetkom 20. veka’ , in Fleck and Graovac (eds.), Dijalog Povijesnicara-Istoricara
2, 146—7; and Dubravka Stojanovic, ‘Politicka kultura 1 modernizacija u Srbiji
pocetkom 20. veka’ in Fleck and Graovac (eds.), Dijalog Povijesnicara-Istoricara 3
(Zagreb: Friedrich Naumann, 2 0 0 1), 158—67.
35. Latinka Perovic, ‘Milan Pirocanac: Zapadanjak u Srbiji 19. veka’ , in Latinka
Perovic (ed.), Srbija u modernizacijskim procesima 19. i 20. veka, iii. Uloga elita


(Belgrade: Institut za noviju istoriju Srbije, 2003), n —72. T h e Progressives and
Radicals represented the first two generations o f Serbian intellectuals to be
educated at European universities. See Ljubinka Trgovcevic-Mitrovic, Planirana
elita: O studentima iz Srbije na evropskim univerzitetima u 19. veku (Belgrade:
Udruzenje za drustvenu istoriju, 2003).
36. Popovic-Obradovic, Parlamentarizam u Srbiji, 62-94.
37. The standard w o rk on the p o s t-1903 p eriod is Wayne S.Vucinich, Serbia between
East and\Vest:The Events of 1903—1908 (S tanfo rd,Ca lif.: Stanford University Press.
1954). For recent reassessments o f the period and Pasic’s role in particular, see
Dubravka Stojanovic, Nikola Pasic u Narodnoj skupstini: Novo doba, 1903-1914
(Belgrade: Sluzbeni list, 1997), her Srbija i demokratija, 1903-1914 (Belgrade:
Udruzenje za drustvenu istoriju, 2004), and ‘ Istorijski problemi demokratizacije:
Primer Srbije’ , Forum Bosnae, 32 (2005). 86—98.
38. O n Apis and these societies,see David M ackenzie, Apis: The Congenial Conspirator.
The Life of Colonel Dragutin T. Dimitrijevic (Boulder, C o lo .: East European
Monographs, 1989); and Milan Zivanovic, Solunski proces 1917 (Belgrade:
Savremena administracija, 1955), w lu ch chronicles his court martial and ex e cution
by a Serbian military tribunal at Salonika in 19 17 .
39. For a recent history, see Elizabeth Roberts, Realm of the Black Mountain: A Flistory
of Montenegro (Ithaca, N Y :C o rn e ll University Press, 2007); and Joh n D. Treadway,
The Falcon and the Eagle: Montenegro and Austria-Hungary, 1908-1914 (West
Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1998).
40. Jelavich and Jelavich, Establishment, 183—4; ;|fid Georgescu, I he Romanians, 15 1—2.
4 1. Hitchins, Romania, 94.
42. Georgescu, The Romanians, 137—9.
43. For a discussion o f the peasantry in the lands o f former Yugoslavia, see the relevant
sections o f the classic study by Jo z o Tomasevich, Peasants, Politics and
Economic Change in Yugoslavia (Stanford, C a lif.: Stanford University Press, 1955).
See also Manuela D o b o s ,‘T h e Nagodba and the Peasantry in Croatia-Slavonia ,
in IvanVolgyes (ed.), The Peasantry of Eastern Europe, i. Roots o f RuralTransformation
(N ew Y o rk : Pergamon Press, 1979), 88—9.
44. Tomasevich, Peasants, 18 2 , 250.
45. Dragutin Pavlicevic, Narodni pokret 1883 u Hrvatskoj (Zagreb: L iber, 1980), 290—2,
352- 3·
46. C ited in D o b o s ,‘T h e Nagodba ', 95.
47. T h e events o f 1907 are vividly retold in R. W. Seton-Watson, A Flistory of the
Roumanians: From Roman Times to the Completion of Unity (Cambridge: CUP.
1934), 386-8; and Philip Gabriel Eidelberg, The Great Rumanian Peasant Revolt
of 1907: Origins of a Modern Jacquerie (Leiden: B rill, 1974).
48. Crampton, Short History of Bulgaria, 42—3.
49. Richard C . Hall, ‘Bulgaria, Romania and G ree c e ’ , in Richard F. Hamilton
and Holge r H. H e rw ig (eds.), The Origins of World War I (Cambridge: CUP,
2003), 391.


50. Leon Trotsky, The Balkan Wars, 19 12 -13 : The War Correspondence of Leon Trotsky
(N ew Y o rk : Resistance B o o k s , 1980), 1 2 1 .
51. See Jo h n D. B e ll, Peasants in Power: Alexander Stamboliski and the Bulgarian
Agrarian National Union, 1899-1923 (Princeton: PUP, 1977); Mark Biondich,
Stjepan Radic, the Croat Peasant Party and the Politics of Mass Mobilization, 1904—
1928 (Toronto: University o f Toronto Press, 2000); and T ib o r Ivan Berend,
History Derailed: Central and Eastern Europe in the Long Nineteenth Century (Los
Angeles-Berkeley: University o f California Press, 2003), 235—84.
52. Pamela Pilb e am ,‘From Orders to Classes: European Society in the Nineteenth
C en tu ry ’ , inT. C.W. Banning (ed.), The Oxford History o f Modern Europe (Oxford:
OUP, 2000), 12 2 - 5 .
53. See the stimulating discussion in Alan Kramer, Dynamic of Destruction: Culture
and Mass Killing in the First World War (Oxford: OUP, 2007).
54. H en ry L . Roberts, Eastern Europe: Politics, Revolution, and Diplomacy (N ew York:
Alfred A . K n o p f, 1970), 199—200.
55. C iv il society is understood here as a society with a complex o f autonomous
institutions distinguishable p rimarily from the state; a comple x o f relationships
between society and state and set o f institutions w h ich safeguard the separation
o f civil society and state; and a widespread pattern o f civil manners. See
Edward S h ils ,‘T h e Virtue o f C iv il S o c ie ty ’ , Government and Opposition, 2 6 / 1
(I99i) , 3- 20.
56. In 19 1 1 the six vilayets o f the Ottoman Balkans (Edirne, Selanik,Yenya, Monastir,
Kosova, and Iskodra) possessed, according to the Ottoman authorities, an
estimated population o f 6.3 million with a slight Muslim plurality (3.2 million,
or 51%). O n ly the largest vilayet, Edirne, possessed a Muslim plurality (55%).
Adherents o f the Orthodox Patriarchate (‘Greeks’) and Exarchate (‘Bulgarians’)
numbered 1 .5 and 1 .2 million, respectively. These figures must be treated with
caution, however. Since the data reflected confessional groups rather than
nationalities, several groups (Albanians, Macedonians, Serbs, et al.) went
uncounted, others may have been undercounted and the data distorted for
political reasons. See Kole v and Kou lo u ri (eds.), Balkan Wars, table 3, p. 26.
57. Sophia K o u fo p o u lo u ,‘Muslim Cretans in T u rk e y :T h e Reformulation o f Ethnic
Identity in an Aegean C om m un ity ’ , in Renee Hirschon (ed.), Crossing the
Aegean: An Appraisal of the 1923 Compulsory Population Exchange between Greece
and Turkey (N ew York and Oxford: Berghahn Bo o k s , 2003), 2 1 1 .
58. H enry N . Brailsford, Macedonia: Its Races and their Future (London: Methuen,
1906), 10 1 .
59. N. Lange-Akhund, The Macedonian Question (Boulder, C o lo .: East European
Monographs, 1998), 36, 42—3.
60. Thomas Comyn-Platt, The Turk in the Balkans (London: Alston Rivers, 1904), 34.
61. B eg inning in the 1880s the Serbs established over seventy schools in Macedonia
and Kosovo, one seminary in Prizren (Kosovo), and several newspapers,including
Prizren (18 71), Kosovo (1885), Carigradski glasnik (established in Constantinople,


1895), and Vardar (established in Skopje, 1908). After 1908, the Serb National
Organization was centred in Skopje. These organizations, though less numerous
than their Greek and Bulgarian equivalents, revealed the degree to which the
Serbs were able to promote their national cause in a concerted fashion in the three
decades before the Balkan Wars. See Slavenko Terzic, ‘Sinisao Kumanovske bitke
19 12 ’ , Glas javnosti (29 Oct. 2002).
62. T h e Greek claim was rooted in the allegedly Greek cultural character o f the
region since the classical period. Serb and Bulgarian claims were based on
multiple criteria. T h e i4th-cent. Serbian empire was based at Skopje, while
the medieval Bulgarian church was based at Ohrid.
63. An 1889 Serbian study claimed that Serbs constituted 2 million o f Macedonia's 2.8
million people, while a Bulgarian study published in 1900 claimed that there were
1 . 1 million Bulgarians among a total population o f 2.2 million. A Greek study
from 1904 asserted that, o f a total population o f 1 .7 million, G reeks were the single
largest nationality with 652,795 conationals. According to these incongruent estimates,
the number o f Muslims (Turks, Albanians, et al.) in Macedonia varied enormously
while Macedonians did not exist. See Kolev and Koulouri, Balkan Wars,
table 13, p. 42. O n the politics o f these statistics, at the time and since, see Iakovos
D. Michailidis,‘T h e War o f Statistics:Traditional Recipes for the Preparation o f the
Macedonian Salad’ , East European Quarterly, 3 2 / 1 (1998), 9 - 2 1 .
64. As Duncan Perry convincingly demonstrates, IM RO was by no means indiscriminate
in its violence and in those regions where it established a presence it
attempted to serve as a symbol o f law and order. Perry, The Politics of Terror
(Durham, N C : Duke University Press, 1988), 206-9.
65. Walter Lacquer, Guerrilla Warfare, 2nd edn. (N ew Brunswick, N J: T ransaction,
1998), 183.
66. T h e Declaration is reprinted in Nations and States in Southeast Europe, 48.
67. Lacquer, Guerrilla Warfare, 183.
68. T h e discussion in this section relies considerably on Stathis N. Kalyvas’s important
study on the dynamics o f violence. Kalyvas demonstrates that violence in
civil wars, in particular the victimization o f civilians, has a logic o f its own and
cannot be dismissed as irrational. Violence in these circumstances tends to be
highly brutal and deeply intimate. See Stathis N. Kalyvas, The Logic of Violence in
Civil War (Cambridge: CU P , 2007), 16 - 3 2 , 87 -209 .
69. O n the phenomenon o f banditry in the modern period, see Wendy Bracewell,
‘T h e Proud N am e o f Hajduks: Bandits as Ambiguous Heroes in Balkan Politics
and Culture", in No rm an Naimark and H olly Case (eds.), Yugoslavia and its
Historians (Stanford, C alif.: Stanford University Press, 2003), 22—36; and Andre
Gerolymatos, The Balkan Wars: Myth, Reality, and the Eternal Conflict (N ew York:
Stoddart, 200 1), 8 5 - 119 .
70. See the discussion in Rodanthi Tzanelli, ‘Haunted b y the “ E n em y ” Within:
Brigandage, Vlachian/Albanian Greekness, Turkish “ Contamination,” and
Narratives o f Greek Nationhood in the Dilessi/Marathon A ffa ir (1870) ’ Journal


of Modern Greek Studies, 2 0 / 1 (2002), 4 7 -7 4 ; and Gerolymatos, The Balkan
Wars, 85—9.
7 1. B ra c ew e ll,‘Proud N am e o f Hajduks’ , 27.
72. According to Nadine Lange-Akhund, 430 o f 1,2 8 9 Bulgarian military officers
in the late 19th century were originally from Ottoman Macedonia. See Lange-
Akhund, Macedonian Question, 44.
73. See the essays by Milan Mijalkovski, Sinisa Antonijevic, B o z ica Mladenovic,
and Aleksandar Z ivo tic, in Momcilo Pavlovic et al. (eds.), Gerila na
Balkanu: Borci za slobodu, buntovnici ili banditi (Belgrade: Institut za savremenu
istoriju, 2007).
74. Jo h n K oliopoulos, ‘Brigandage and Insurgency in the Greek Domains o f the
Ottoman Empire, 1853—1908’ , in Dimitri Gondicas and Charles Philip Issawi
(eds.), Ottoman Greeks in the Age o f Nationalism: Politics, Economy and Society in the
Nineteenth Century (Princeton: D a rwin Press, 1999), 14 3—60; and his Brigands
with a Cause: Brigandage and lrredentism in Modern Greece, 1821—1912 (Oxford:
OUP, 1987).
75. See Douglas Dakin, The Greek Struggle in Macedonia, 1897-1913 (Thessaloniki:
Institute fo r Balkan Studies, 1966).
76. For a fuller discussion o f this point see Dimitris Livaruos, “ ‘C on q u e rin g the
Souls” : Nationalism and Greek Guerrilla Warfare in Ottoman Macedonia,
1904—19 0 8 ’ , Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 23 (1999), 195—2 2 1 .
77. C ited W. M. Mazower, The Balkans (N ew York: Random House, 2000), 45.
78. Livan ios,‘C on q u e rin g the Souls’ , 197.
79. T h e Serbian-Bulgarian negotiations are discussed in Andrew Rossos, Russia and
the Balkans: Inter-Balkan Rivalries and Russian Foreign Policy, 1908-1914 (Toronto:
University o fT oronto Press, 1981).
80. Richard C . Hall, ‘Bulgaria, Romania and G re e c e ’ , in Hamilton and H e rw ig
(eds.), Origins, 406.
81. C ited in See K o le v and Kou lo u ri (eds.), The Balkan Wars, 57—8.
82. C ited in Slavenko Terzic, ‘ Smisao Kumanovske bitke 19 12 ’ , Glas javnosti
(29 O ct. 2002).
83. T h e course o f the war in the Thracian and Macedonian theatres is told in considerable
detail by Richard C . Hall, The Balkan Wars, 1912 -1913: Prelude to the
First World War (London: Routledge, 2000), 22—68. O n the Ottoman war effort,
see Edward J . Erickson, Defeat in Detail: Ottoman Army Operations in the Balkan
Wars, 19 12 -19 13 (Westport, C o n n .: Praeger, 2003).
84. See K o le v and K ou lo u ri, The Balkan Wars, 68. O n the occasion o f the ninetieth
anniversary o f the B atde o f K umanovo, the Serb historian Slavenko Terzic o f
the Historical Institute o f the Serbian Academy remarked that the battle was
‘the finale o f a lon g and difficult political and cultural struggle’ . ‘Smisao
Kumanovske bitke 19 12 ’ , Glas javnosti (29 Oct. 2002).
85. Jelavich and Jelavich, Establishment, 222—34.
86. See Kole v and K oulouri, The Balkan Wars, 9 9 - 10 1 .


87. T h e standard works on the diplomacy o f the Balkan Wars are E . C . Helmreich,
The Diplomacy o f the Balkan Wars 19 12 -19 13 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 1938); and Andrew Rossos, Russia and the Balkans: Inter-Balkan
Rivalries and Russian Foreign Policy, 1908-1914 (Toronto: University ofToronto
Press. 1981).
88. Hall, The Balkan Wars, 1912—19 13 ,107—29.
89. K o le v and K ou lo u ri (eds.), The Balkan Wars, table 17 , p. 120.
90. Ca rn eg ie Endowment fo r International Peace, Report of the International
Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars (Washington,
D C : C a rn eg ie Endowment, 1914), 418.
91. Kent, Ihe Great Powers, 15.
92. Ibid. 58.
93. Kramer, Dynamic of Destruction, 140.
94. Ibid. 136.
95. Ginio Eyal, ‘Mobilizing the Ottoman Nation during the Balkan Wars (19 12—
19x3): Awakening from the Ottoman Dream’ , War in History, 12 (2005), 156 -7 7.
96. Kramer, Dynamic oj Destruction, 135—6.
97. Kole v and Kou lo u ri, The Balkan Wars, 7 6 -7 .
98. Trotsky, The Balkan Wars, 19 12 -13 : War correspondence, 120, 2 6 6 -7 2 .
99. Kramer, Dynamic of Destruction, 136—7.
100. M. Edith Durham, The Struggle for Scutari (Turk, Slav, and Albanian) (London:
E . Arnold, 1914), 296.
10 1. C a rn eg ie Endowment, Report, 15 1.
102. Ibid. 327.
103. Ibid. 13 1 .
104. Ibid. 79.
105. Gerolymatos, The Balkan Wars, 240.
106. C a rn eg ie Endowment, Report, 97.
107. C ited in K o le v and Kou lo u ri, The Balkan Wars, 82.
108. Gerolymatos, The Balkan Wars, 2 4 1. O n the practice o f forced conversions
during the Balkan Wars, see Justin McCarthy, The Ottoman Peoples and the End
of Empire (London: Arnold, 2001), 93—4.
109. Kolev and Kou lo u ri, The Balkan Wars, 77.
n o . Gerolymatos, The Balkan Wars, 2 4 1.
i n . C a rn eg ie Endowment, Report, 73.
1 12 . Ibid. 2 0 8 - 15 .
1 13 . O n these changes, see Safet Bandzovic, ‘Ratovi i demografska deosmanizacija
Balkana, 19 12—19 4 1 ’ , Prilozi, 32 (2003), 17 9 -2 2 9 . Katrin B o e ck h provides a
detailed discussion o f the domestic ramifications o f the Balkan Wars on these
states, highlighting the negative consequences fo r their domestic political evolution.
See Ka trin B o e ckh , Von den Balkankriegen zum Ersten Weltkrieg:
Kleinstaatenpolitik und ethnische Selbstbestimmung auf dem Balkan (Munich:
R . OldenbourgVerlag, 1996).


114 . Livam os,‘T h e Quest fo r Hellenism’ , Historical Journal, 3 (2006), 67.
115 . O n the SSDP, see Dubravka Stojanovic, Iskusavanje nacela: Srpska
Socijaldemokratska partija i ratni program Srbije, 1912-1918 (Belgrade:Timit, 1994);
Branko Nadoveza, Srpski socijaldemokrati i ideja balkanske federacije do 1918
(Belgrade: Zaduzbina A ndrejevic, 2007).
116 . C ited in See K o le v and K oulouri, The Balkan Wars, 46.
117 . C ited in Richard C . Hall, ‘Bulgaria, Romania and Gree ce ’ , in Hamilton and
H e rw ig (eds.), Origins, 391.
118 . Kole v and Kou lo u ri, The Balkan Wars, 4 6 -7 . T h e Balkan Jew ish communities
o f Salonika and Monastir (Bitola) have recendy been the subject o f two com pelling
works. See Mark Mazower, Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims
and Jews, 1430-1950 (N ew York: Alfred A . K nop f, 2005); and Mark C oh en , Last
Century of a Sephardic Community: The Jews of Monastir, 1839-1943 (N ew York:
Foundation fo r the Advancement o f Sephardic Studies and Culture, 2003).
119 . B o e ckh , Von den Balkankriegen, 2 27—8.
120. O n the South Slav Question, the classic study o f R. W. Seton-Watson, The
Southern Slav Question and the Habsburg Monarchy (London: Constable & C o .,
19 1 1 ) , is still worth the read. F or a recent assessment o f this problem
and related literature, see Janko Pleterski, ‘T h e South Slav Question’ , in
M a rk Co rnwa ll (ed.), The Last Years of Austria-Hungary: A Multi-National
Experiment in Early Twentieth Century Europe (Exeter: University o f Ex e te r
Press, 2002), 119 -4 8 .
12 1 . O n Serbia and the origins o f the Great War, see the overview provided by
Richard C . H a ll,‘Serbia’ , in Hamilton and H e rw ig (eds.), Origins, 92—m .
12 2 . R . J . D on ia and J . V. A . Fine, Bosnia and Hercegovina (N ew York: Columbia
University Press, 1994), 1 18 - 19 ; and N o e l Malcolm, Bosnia: A Short History
(London: Macmillan, 1994), 158.
12 3. Christian Promitzer,‘T h e South Slavs in the Austrian Imagination: Serbs and
Slovenes in the Ch anging V iew from German Nationalism to National
Socialism’ , in N an cy M. Wingfield (ed.). Creating the Other: Ethnic Conflict and
Nationalism in Habsburg Central Europe (N ew York: Berghahn B o o k s , 2003),
193- 4·
124. A g o od starting point fo r Serbia during the Great War is Andrej Mitrovic,
Serbia’s Great War, 1914-1918 (London: Hurst, 2007), which is a shorter version
o f his Srbija u Prvom svetskom ratu (Belgrade: S tubovi kulture, 2004), and Nikola
P. Popovic, Srbi u Prvom svetskom ratu 1914—1918 (Belgrade: DMP, 1998). O n
the articulation o f Serbian war aims, see Milorad Ekmecic, Ratni ciljevi Srbije
1914 (Belgrade: Srpska knjizevna zadruga, 1973) and Dragoslav Jankovic,
Srbija i jugoslovensko pitanje 1914—1915 godine (Belgrade: Institut za savremenu
istoriju, 1973).
125. O n the Toplice Uprising, see B ozica Mladenovic (ed.), Toplicki ustanak 1917
godine (Belgrade:Vojnoistorijski Institute, 1997). O n desertion, resistance, and
the so-called ‘green cadre’ , see Bo gum il Hrabak, Dezerterstvo, zeleni kadar i


prevratna anarhija u jugoslovenskim zemljama, 1914-1918 (N o vi Sad: Institut za
istoriju, 1990). T h e Swiss criminologist Rodolphe Archibald Reiss compiled
information related to violations o f the customs o f wars by the Central Powers.
See Rodolphe A rchibald Reiss, The Kingdom of Serbia: Infringements of the Rules
and Laws of War Committed by the Austro-Bulgaro- Germans (London: G eorge
Allen & U nw in , 1919). O n occupation policies and the victimization o f civilians
in Serbia and Macedonia, see also B enjamin Lieberman, Terrible Fate:
Ethnic Cleansing in the Making of Modern Europe (Chicago: Ivan R . D ee, 2006),
8 0 -7 ; Milan Starcevic, Austrougarski zloHini u Srbiji, 1914—1918: Rodolf ArHibald
Rajs (Belgrade: C e r, 2007); Sladjana B ojk ovic, Stradanje srpskog naroda u Srbiji,
1914-1918: Dokumenta (Belgrade: Istorijski muzej Srbije, 2000); and M om c ilo
Pavlovic, Pomenik zrtvama bugarskog terora na jugu Srbije 1915—1918 (Belgrade:
Institut za savremenu istoriju, 2007).
126. Reiss, Kingdom of Serbia, 19 - 2 1 , 35 -4 2 .
127. Kramer, Dynamic of Destruction, 14 3 . In the interwar era, the Yugoslav authorities
erected more than 200 memorials and monuments to commemorate the
Balkan Wars and Great War. See Melissa Bokovoy, ‘Scattered Graves, Ordered
Cemeteries: C ommemo rating Serbia’s Wars o f National Liberation, 19 12—
19 18 ’ , in N an cy W ingfield and Maria B u cu r (eds.), Staging the Past:The Politics
of Commemoration in Habsburg Central Europe, 1848 to the Present (West Lafayette,
Ind.: Purdue University Press, 200 1), 236—54.
128. Kramer, Dynamic of Destruction, 14 0 -4 .
129. M. §iikrii Hanioglu, A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire (Princeton:
PUP, 2008), 17 3 .
130. foseph Heller, British Policy towards the Ottoman Empire, 1908-1914 (London:
Frank Cass, 1983), 80.
13 1. Hanioglu, Brief History, 177 . O n the Ottoman Empire and the Great War, see
Ulrich Tru rnpener,‘T h e Ottoman Em p ire ’ , in Hamilton and I le rw ig (eds.).
Origins, 337—55, and his ‘Turkey’s War’ , in H ew Strachan (ed.), World War I:
A History (Oxford: OUP, 1998), 8 0 -9 1.
13 2 . Kramer, Dynamic of Destruction, 139.
133. Ibid. 146; N. Naimark, Fires of Flatred (Cambridge. Mass.: Harvard University
Press, 2001), 42—4. A t the same time, Balkan Muslims, predominandy from
Macedonia and Thrace, continued to leave fo r the Ottoman Empire, with
nearly 140,000 doing so between 19 14 and 19 17 . Although precise figures are
difficult to determine, it is estimated that in the years between 19 12 and 1920,
i.e. from the Balkan Wars to the eve o f the Greek-Turkish War, approximately
413,00 0 Muslims left the Balkans fo r Ottoman territory. K o le v and K oulouri,
The Balkan Wars, table 17 , p. 120.
134. Kramer, Dynamic of Destruction, 144—6.
135. O n Croatian politics du ring the Great War, the only full-length study is
Bogdan Krizman, Hrvatska u prvom svjetskom ratu: hrvatsko-srpski politicki odnosi
(Zagreb: Globus, 1989).


136. In the A p ril 1915 Treaty o f Lon don the Entente promised several South Slav
territories to Italy, notably Istria and large parts o f Dalinatia. Although the
agreement was secret, it was disclosed to Supilo and prompted him to constitute
the Yugoslav Committees as a way o f countering Italian pretensions.
See Kenneth J . Calder, Britain and the Origins of the New Europe, 1914—iqi8
(Cambridge: CU P , 1976), 35—8.
137. O n the C o rfu Declaration, see Dragoslav JankovicJugoslovensko pitanje i Krfska
deklaracija 1917godine (Belgrade: Savremena administracija, 1967).
138. See Richard C . H all,‘Bulgaria, Romania and Gree c e ’ ,in Hamilton and H e rw ig
(eds.), Origins, 38 9 -4 13 .
139. O n Bulgaria on the eve o f and during the Great War, see Parashkeva Kishkilova,
BUlgariia 1913: krizata vüv vlastta (Sofia: AI Prof. Marin Drinov, 1998); Nikola
Nedev. BUlgariia v svetovnata voina, 1915-1918 (Sofia: A N IKO , 200 1); anti
Stancho Stanchev et al., Bülgarskata armiia v Pürvata svetovna voina (Sofia:
Voenno izd., 2005).
140. H a ll,‘Bulgaria, Romania and G re e c e ’ , 397—8.
14 1. Ibid. 399—405. O n Romania and the politics o f the Great War, see Nicolae
Petrescu-Comnen, The Great War and the Romanians: Notes and Documents on
World War I (Ia$i: Cente r for Romanian Studies, 2000); and Kurt W.Treptow,
Romania during the World War I Era (Ia§i and Pordand, Or. : C ente r fo r Romanian
Studies, 1999).
142. Hitchins, Rumania, 2 6 1.
143. H a ll,‘Bulgaria, Romania and G re e c e ’ , 404—5.
144. N . Petsales-Diomedes, Greece at the Paris Peace Conference (1919) (Thessaloniki:
Institute fo r Balkan Studies, 1978), 25—8.
145. O n Greece and the politics o f the Great War, see George B. Leon, Greece and
the Great Powers, 1914-1917 (Thessaloniki: Institute fo r Balkan Studies, 1974);
Alexander S. M itrakos, France in Greece during World War F.A Study in the Politics
0] Power (Boulder, C o lo .: East European Monographs, 1982); and Peter
Calvocoressi, Greece and Great Britain during World War I (Thessaloniki: Institute
fo r Balkan Studies, 1985).
146. Leon, Greece and the Great Powers, 29, 33, 62—6.
147. Hall, ‘Bulgaria, Romania and Gree c e ’ , 410—n .
148. Ibid. 4 x 2 - 14 .
149. These were the Treaties o f Saint Germain (10 Sept. 1919) withAu stria , N eu illy
(27 Nov. 1919) with Bulgaria, Trianon (4 Ju n e 1920) with Hungary, and Sèvres
(10 A u g . 1920) w ith the Ottoman Empire, subsequendy revised b y the Treaty
o f Lausanne (24 Ju ly 1923). T h e terms o f the treaties and their consequence
for the post-war Balkan states are discussed in C h . 3.
150. T h e description is taken from Harold Nicolson, cited in Margaret MacMillan,
Peacemakers .The Paris Peace Conference o f 1919 and its Attempt to End War (London:
Jo h n Murray, 20 0 1), 367.


15 1. C ited in Giles Milton , Paradise Lost: Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of Islam’s City
of Tolerance (2008), 1 2 1 .
152 . McCarthy, Ottoman Peoples, 12 3—3 8 ,14 5—8.
153. These events are documented in Giles M ilton ’s Paradise Lost, but also useful
are Lieberman, Terrible Fate, 9 4 -8 ; and Naimark, Fires of Hatred, 42—52.
154. Renée Hirschon, Heirs of the Greek Catastrophe: The Social Life of Asia Minor
Refugees in Piraeus, 2nd edn. (N ew York and Oxford: Berghahn B o o k s , 2006),
p. xv i; and R ené e Hirschon, ‘ “ U nm ix in g Peoples” in the Aegean R e g io n ’ , in
Renée Hirschon (ed.), Crossing the Aegean: An Appraisal of the 1923 Compulsory
Population Exchange between Greece and Turkey (N ewY o rk and O xford: Berghahn
Books, 2003), 3 - 1 2 .
155. H irschon,‘U nm ix ing Peoples’ , 7.
156. Kramer, Dynamic of Destruction, 146; Naimark, Fires of Hatred, 526.
157. Mazower, The Balkans, pp. x x x v ii—x x x v iii; and McCarthy, Ottoman Peoples,
149-6 2.


Фотография andy4675 andy4675 19.03 2014



Map i. The Balkan Peninsula: ethnolinguistic distribution, c.1910
Reprinted with permission from Paul Robert Magocsi, Historical Atlas of Central Europe, revised and
expanded edition (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002)



Фотография andy4675 andy4675 20.03 2014

Prelude to the First World War
Richard C.Hall


The Balkan Wars were a sharp and bloody series of conflicts fought in
southeastern Europe during the autumn of 1912 and the winter, spring, and
summer of 1913. In the First Balkan War, the Ottoman Empire fought a loose
alliance of Balkan states, which included Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, and
Serbia. The First Balkan War began in October 1912. An armistice in December
1912 interrupted the fighting until January 1913. Fighting resumed around two
besieged cities in Albania, one besieged city in Thrace, and in eastern Thrace
until the spring of 1913. The participants in the First Balkan War signed a
preliminary peace treaty in London on 30 May 1913.
In the Second Balkan War, Bulgaria fought a looser coalition of Greece,
Montenegro, Serbia, Romania, and the Ottoman Empire. Fighting began on 29
June 1913. By the time it ended a little over a month later, the allies had
overwhelmed Bulgaria. Peace treaties signed in Bucharest in August 1913 and
Constantinople in September 1913 concluded the Second Balkan War. In less
than one year the Balkans would again be at war.
Congress of Berlin
The concept of nationalism, appearing from France and the German countries,
swept into the Balkan Peninsula early in the nineteenth century. The initial
impact was largely cultural. Intellectuals made great efforts to standardize and
celebrate the vernacular languages of the Balkans. In doing so, they frequently
referred and connected to the medieval states that had existed in the Balkans
before the Ottoman conquest.
Soon the emphasis of nationalism became political. A strong desire to achieve
national unity motivated the Balkan states to confront their erstwhile Ottoman
conquerors. Balkan leaders assumed that only after the attainment of national
unity could their states develop and prosper. In this regard the Balkan peoples
sought to emulate the political and economic success of western Europe,
especially Germany, by adopting the western European concept of nationalism
as the model for their own national development. The Balkan peoples perceived


nationalism as a justification for the creation of specific geopolitical entities. As
Vasil Levski, a nineteenth-century Bulgarian revolutionary activist, explained,
“We are a people and want to live in complete freedom in our lands, there
where the Bulgarians live, in Bulgaria, Thrace and Macedonia.”1 This concept of
western European nationalism displaced the old Ottoman millet system in the
Balkans, which had permitted each major religious group a significant amount
of self-administration. The millet system allowed Moslems, Orthodox, Catholics,
and Jews to all live in proximity to each other without intruding upon each
other. It gave the Balkan peoples a limited degree of cultural autonomy.
The Serbs in 1803 and the Greeks in 1821 revolted against their Ottoman
overlords, partially in response to the dimly understood western European ethos
of nationalism. By 1830 an independent Greek state emerged, and at the same
time an autonomous Serbian state came into existence. The Ottomans had
conceded Montenegrin autonomy since the eighteenth century. This, however,
was more in response to the bellicosity and the remoteness of the Black
Mountain than to any overt nationalist stirring.
The successes of the Italians in 1861 and Germans in 1871 in attaining
national unity further inspired the Balkan peoples. The military aspects of the
Italian and German unifications served as examples to follow. Each Balkan
people envisioned the restoration of the medieval empires on which they based
their national ideas. The Bulgarians sought the boundaries of the First or Second
Bulgarian Empires, the Greeks the revival of the Byzantine Empire, and the
Montenegrins and Serbs sought to recover the extent of the empire of Stephan
Dushan. In 1876 Serbia and Montenegro went to war against the Ottoman
Empire to establish large national states in the western Balkan Peninsula. That
same year an anti-Ottoman revolt broke out in Bulgaria. In 1877 Russia
intervened in the Balkans on the side of the Bulgarian nationalists. After nine
months of unexpectedly hard fighting, the Russians prevailed. The Treaty of San
Stefano in March 1878, ending the Russo-Turkish War, created a large
independent Bulgarian state and enlarged Serbia and Montenegro. The Treaty of
San Stefano fulfilled the maximum territorial aspirations of the Bulgarian
nationalists. The new Bulgaria included most of the territory in the eastern
Balkan Peninsula between the Danube River and the Aegean Sea. It also
included Macedonia. For the first and only time in modern history, a Balkan
people had attained all of their national goals.
The Treaty of San Stefano met a negative response from the leading
countries of Europe, who had for the past 200 years assumed the prerogative of
arbitrating international affairs. These countries as they existed in 1878,
Germany, Great Britain, France, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Italy, were known
collectively as the Great Powers. A desire to limit the ambitions of the Russian
Empire in the Balkans and to impose order on the chaotic conditions in
Ottoman Europe, especially on the part of Austria-Hungary and Great Britain,
led the Great Powers to accept the offer of Otto von Bismarck to host a
conference to resolve the Balkan issues. Bismarck promised to serve as an


“honest broker, who really wants to do business.”2 Bismarck invited
representatives of the Great Powers to meet in the German capital. The
subsequent Congress of Berlin was attended by the leading diplomats of the
time, including Lord Salisbury of Great Britain and Count Andrassy of Austria-
Hungary. It greatly diminished the size and independence of the new Bulgarian
state. In place of a large independent Bulgaria, the Congress of Berlin
established an autonomous Bulgarian principality under Ottoman suzerainty, a
semi-autonomous Eastern Rumelia under the authority of the Ottoman sultan,
and returned Macedonia to the direct rule of the Sultan. This settlement was a
catastrophe for Bulgarian nationalism. Ivan E.Geshov, who would lead Bulgaria
into the First Balkan War in 1912, wrote,
When we in Plovdiv read in the Times in the ominous month of July 1878
the first published text of the agreement, in which a short sighted
diplomacy in Berlin partitioned our homeland, we were left crushed and
thunderstruck. Was such an injustice possible? Could such an injustice be
The Congress of Berlin also recognized the full independence of a slightly
smaller Serbia and deprived Montenegro of San Stefano-sanctioned gains in
Hercegovina, the Sandjak of Novi Pazar and northern Albania. Austria-Hungary
advanced into the western Balkans by the occupation of Bosnia-Hercegovina
and the Sandjak of Novi Pazar. These territories remained de jure parts of the
Ottoman Empire. They also remained objectives of Montenegrin and Serbian
national aspirations. Persistent Greek claims led to something of a corollary to
the Berlin settlement. In 1881, the Great Powers sanctioned the Greek
annexation of Thessaly and part of southern Epirus.
The Bulgarians soon recovered from the shock of their loses. Geshov wrote
to a friend, “Bulgaria is not only truncated but stabbed in the heart. The
operation, or better to say this series of operations, inflicted upon Bulgaria, cause
us terrible pains and will cripple us for a long time, but will not prove fatal to
us.”4 Lord Salisbury, the British advocate of a contained Russia and small
Bulgaria, indicated that a big Bulgaria was a matter of time.5 The Bulgarians
were not alone in their frustrations over the Berlin settlement. The Greeks,
Montenegrins, and the Serbs likewise perceived in the Treaty of Berlin a barrier
to their national aspirations. After 1878 all the Balkan states strove to overcome
the Berlin settlement and realize national unity.
Balkan national aspirations
The Bulgarians were the first to act against the Berlin settlement. In 1885, they
unilaterally proclaimed the unification of Bulgaria with Eastern Rumelia. The
Great Powers did not act directly to preserve the Berlin settlement. Serbia,


however, with some support from its ally Austria-Hungary, attacked Bulgaria
later that same year. In the ensuing Serbo-Bulgarian War, the Bulgarians
successfully defended their unification and administered a sharp rebuff to the
Serbs. Only the intervention of Austria-Hungary prevented a Bulgarian invasion
of Serbia. The enmity between these two Balkan Slavic states created an obstacle
to the idea of Balkan cooperation against the Berlin settlement and the
Ottoman Empire. Nor were relations between Montenegro and Serbia
conducive toward the realization of national unity. Dynastic and local rivalries
prevented these two Serbian states from mounting a pan-Serb effort against the
The idea of a Balkan alliance extended back to the 1860s, when the
Serbian government provided some shelter and assistance for Bulgarian
revolution-aries. In 1891, the Greek premier, Kharilaos Trikoupis, had
proposed a Bulgar-Greek-Serbian alliance. Neither Serbia nor Bulgaria had
responded enthusiastically at that time. The Slavic states remained aloof from
their Greek co-religionists because of lack of interest in Greek aspirations in
the Aegean and because of rivalries with the Greeks over Macedonia. In
1897 the Bulgarians and Serbs reached an ephemeral agreement for
cooperation in Macedonia.
That same year the Greeks made their second assault on the Treaty of Berlin
by attempting to annex Crete. The resulting war was over in thirty days. The
Ottomans easily deflected the Greek attack. The Great Powers, however,
intervened to prevent Constantinople from realizing any meaningful gains from
this victory and to maintain the Berlin settlement. They also landed troops in
Crete to prevent a Greek occupation and to stop Greek massacres of Moslems.
The humiliated Greeks did have to cede several points along their frontier in
Thessaly to the Ottomans. Crete, however, received autonomy under the aegis
of a Great Power commission but was forbidden a union with Greece. The
Greek failure demonstrated the difficulties that any one Balkan state faced in
confronting the fading power of the Ottoman Empire. It also greatly
undermined the confidence of the other Balkan states in the abilities of the
Greek military.
The Bulgarians looked to Thrace, the Greeks to the Aegean Islands,
especially Crete, and Epirus, the Serbs to Bosnia-Hercegovina, and the
Montenegrins to northern Albania as the locations of their aspirations.
Bulgarian, Greek, and Serbian claims all overlapped in Macedonia. The
Ottoman vilayets (provinces) of Salonika and Monastir made up most of this
fertile region in the center of the Balkan Peninsula. All three Orthodox
Christian states considered Macedonia as their own irredenta, based variously
on cultural, historical, and linguistic claims. Macedonia first became a problem
in 1870, when the Russian government pressured the Ottoman Turks to allow
the formation of a Bulgarian Orthodox church independent of the Greek
Patriarchate in Constantinople. This so-called Exarchate included churches in
Bulgaria and parts of Macedonia. Eight years later a de facto independent


Bulgarian state emerged from the Russo-Turkish War. The initial Treaty of San
Stefano in March 1878 created a big Bulgaria, which included Macedonia.
The Treaty of Berlin of July 1878 revised this settlement and returned
Macedonia to Ottoman control. Throughout the remainder of the nineteenth
century, the Bulgarians, Greeks, and Serbs contested control of Macedonia
with the Ottoman Turks and among themselves. The largest revolutionary
group, IMRO (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization) was
organized in Salonika in 1893. It adopted the slogan, “Macedonia for the
Macedonians,” and indeed at times even supported the idea of an autonomous
Macedonia within the Ottoman Empire rather than annexation of Macedonia
to Bulgaria. In part to counter IMRO, the Bulgarian government established
the Supreme Committee or External Organization in 1895. Even so, the
orientation of IMRO was clearly toward Sofia. The Greeks organized the
Ethniki Etairia in 1894 to further Greek nationalist aims in Macedonia. The
Serbs had already established the Society of Saint Sava back in 1886. All of
these groups had educational and propagandistic purposes. They also served as
adjuncts for military organizations. Not to be outdone, the Ottoman
authorities likewise armed those elements in the population favorable to them
and promoted educational and Islamic opportunities. The competition for
Macedonia among the Balkan states created an obstacle that prevented a
Balkan alliance directed against the Ottomans.
Elsewhere, the Montenegrins and Serbs both aspired to the Austro-
Hungarian occupied Sandjak (county) of Novi Pazar. The Sandjak of Novi Pazar
was a finger of the Ottoman province of Kosovo, which separated Montenegro
from Serbia. The Sandjak of Novi Pazar had a mixed population of Albanians,
Serbs, and Slavic-speaking Muslims. Montenegro and Serbia also both claimed
Kosovo, which they called Old Serbia because it was the location of the epic
battle in 1389 between a Serbian-led Balkan army and the Ottoman invaders of
the Balkan Peninsula. This area had a large Albanian population, as well as Serbs
and the usual Balkan conglomeration of Turks, Gypsies, Vlachs, and others. These
rivalries over Macedonia, Novi Pazar, and Kosovo escalated as the nineteenth
century drew to a close.
Increasingly, Macedonia became the focus of Balkan aspirations. The
Ottomans preserved their authority in Macedonia by playing the rival
Bulgarian, Greek, and Serbian factions against each other. Initially the
Bulgarians, favored by the Constantinople government, made educational
and cultural gains in Macedonia. The Bulgarians further bolstered their
situation by concluding a military alliance with Russian on 14 June 1902,
which provided for mutual aid in case of a Romanian attack.6 The next year
a revolt directed against Ottoman authority broke out in Macedonia. Led by
IMRO, it resulted in defeat and enabled the Greek and Serbian factions to
improve their situations. The failure of this revolt caused tremendous
excitement in Bulgaria. As the Bulgarian prime minister at that time, Stoyan
Danev, recalled, “For public opinion at that time Bulgarian foreign policy


revolved around only one question, Macedonia.”7 The Bulgarian army was
unprepared to intervene at that time, but it began to reorganize the next
year.8 After 1903 the Bulgarians contemplated direct military action against
the Ottoman Empire to achieve their national goals. In answer to the
Macedonian revolt, the Great Powers, led by Austria-Hungary and Russia,
formulated the Mürzteg reform program, which proposed limited reforms
for the European part of the Ottoman Empire. It served to support the
Berlin settlement, but never really gained the attention of the Ottoman
Cognizant of their own weaknesses, the Bulgarians joined an alliance with
Serbia in April 1904.9 The Karageorgeviches had come to power in Belgrade the
previous year after a strongly nationalist conspiracy within the army, known as the
Black Hand, had murdered the previous king, Alexander Obrenovich, and his
wife. Peter Karageorgevich, the new king, was much more overtly nationalistic
and coincidentally anti-Habsburg than his unfortunate predecessor. King Peter
concurred with the nationalist aspirations of his new prime minister, Nikola
Pashich. The Serbo-Bulgarian accord of 1904, actually two separate agreements,
addressed economic and political issues. It also provided for mutual military
assistance in case of an outside attack and called for united action in Macedonia
and Kosovo if these areas were threatened. Ultimately it remained unrealized
because of Austro-Hungarian pressures and because of a downturn in Serbo-
Bulgarian relations. Because of reservation about the alliance, the Bulgarians
sabotaged it by making the agreements public before the Serbs were ready.
The accession of Peter Karageorgevich to the Serbian throne also
intensified the rivalry between Serbia and Montenegro for leadership of the
Serbian nationalist cause and the establishment of a “Greater Serbia.”
Montenegro, despite its small size, had enjoyed some advantages in this
contest until 1903. Montenegro benefited from the prestige of centurieslong
resistance to the Ottomans. Prince Nikola Petrovich Njegosh of
Montenegro was a poet of some talent and acclaim. Also, Prince Nikola had
succeeded through the marriages of his daughters in becoming father-in-law
to some influential European royals. One daughter had married King Victor
Emmanuel III of Italy; two others had marr ied Russian grand dukes. A
fourth daughter was the wife of Peter Karageorgevich. This made Nikola the
father-in-law of the kings of Italy and Serbia and a relation of the
Romanovs. These dynastic connections were valuable in securing foreign aid
for impoverished Montenegro.
Neither the Karageorgeviches nor the Petrovich Njegoshes had yet
produced an heir who seemed capable of continuing the cause. One
diplomat described Crown Prince Danilo of Montenegro as, “as good as
crazy.”10 Another diplomatic source reported that Crown Prince George
Karageorgevich was not fit for any “respectable parlor.”11 Nevertheless, in
1904 the Serbs offered an alliance to Montenegro.12 Nothing resulted from
this Serbian proposal.


The defeat of Russia in the war with Japan and the outbreak of revolution in
Russia in 1905 shocked the Slavic Balkan states, who had considered the largest
Slavic state to be their protector. The Bulgarian army realized that outside
military help, meaning Russian, might not be available for dealing with events in
the Balkans.13 The Russians, who had liberated Bulgaria from the Ottomans and
who had sponsored a Great Bulgaria at San Stefano, were too weak to persevere.
The Bulgarian army endeavored to strengthen itself further to prepare for the
future war against the Ottoman Empire.
The Bosnian crisis
In July 1908 a cabal of junior officers in the Ottoman army, led by Enver Pasha,
seized control of the empire and announced a program of reform. They called
themselves the Committee for Unity and Progress, but were popularly known as
the Young Turks. They immediately announced the restoration of the 1876
constitution, which had never really served as the basis for Ottoman
government. They were especially eager to instill among all the various peoples
of the Ottoman Empire a sense of Ottoman identity, and thus forestall its
further disintegration. The Young Turks were also determined to modernize the
Ottoman armed forces. To this end, they invited German army and British naval
advisors into the country to initiate the process of the development of a strong
and viable military force. After an attempted counter-revolution in April 1909,
the Young Turks replaced the aging Sultan, Abdul Hamid II, with the more
pliant Mohammad V. The regime then sent Abdul Hamid into exile in Salonika.
This Young Turk revolt reverberated throughout the Balkan Peninsula. The
Austrians and Russian, rivals for Great Power domination in the Balkans,
attempted to achieve some of their goals before the Young Turk reforms took
effect. In September 1908 the Austro-Hungarian foreign minister, Alois
Aehrenthal, and the Russian foreign minister, Aleksander Izvolski, agreed to
mutually support each other’s goals in the Balkans. The Austrians wanted to
annex Bosnia-Hercegovina, which they had occupied since 1878. The Russians
wanted to control the strategic straits linking the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea.
Before the Russians could obtain the sanction of the other Great Powers for
their objective, the Austrians acted unilaterally. Amidst the uproar this caused, the
Russians lost their opportunity to act. Their demands that the Austrians rescind
the annexation of Bosnia-Hercegovina achieved nothing. The only concession
the Austrians made was the withdrawal of their garrisons from the Sandjak of
Novi Pazar. This crisis over the annexation of Bosnia was a diplomatic defeat for
the Russians. They began to seek a means to restore their position in the
The Young Turk revolt and the celebration of Ottoman nationhood raised
concerns in the Balkan capitals that the Balkan populations in a reformed
Turkey would be less susceptible to their nationalistic blandishments. The direct


annexation of Bosnia-Hercegovina by Austria-Hungary later that same year
caused great agitation throughout the Balkans. Both the Serbs and the
Montenegrins perceived in the Austro-Hungarian annexation of Bosnia-
Hercegovina a major setback to their national aspirations. Prince Nikola
bombastically called for “sacrifices of blood” to prevent the annexation.14 The
Serbs were also aware of their own relative weakness and isolation. To rectify
this, they began talks aimed at common action against the Habsburg Monarchy.
The result of these talks was an alliance signed on 22 October 1908.15 A major
goal of this alliance was a common border in the Sandjak of Novi Pazar, that
finger of Ottoman territory separating Montenegro and Serbia which had been
occupied by Austria-Hungary since 1878, in part to isolate Montenegro from
Serbia. Although the Austro-Hungarians did evacuate the Sandjak in 1908, the
Serbo-Montenegrin alliance did not survive the Bosnian crisis. The old
problems of national and dynastic rivalry returned to render it defunct by late
1909. The diplomatic embarrassment of Russia further emphasized the need for
the Serbian states to find Balkan allies.
The Bulgarians alone in the Balkans obtained some satisfaction from the
Bosnian crisis. They used the annexation as a cover to declare a formal
independence from the Ottoman Empire. The Bulgarians gladly perceived in the
annexation crisis a further erosion of the Berlin settlement. The Great Powers
themselves, and especially Austria-Hungary, appeared to participate in the
dismantlement of the Berlin settlement, the most important legal obstacle to the
realization of Balkan national aspirations.
The year after the Young Turk revolt, a league of Greek officers likewise
rebelled and brought about the collapse of the government. The new Greek
government asserted a more overtly nationalistic policy and attempted to take
advantage of the ongoing Balkan crisis. It immediately raised the Cretan issue.
In 1908, in the aftermath of the annexation of Bosnia—Hercegovina and the
proclamation of Bulgarian independence, Crete had announced a union with
Greece. The new government, however, was unable to effect this union.
Ottoman obstinacy and Great Power indifference again frustrated Greek
aspirations. The next year the withdrawal of the Great Power commission, which
had controlled Crete since 1898, heightened tensions between Greece and the
Ottoman Empire. In 1910 only Prime Minister Eleutharios Venizelos’ refusal to
seat Cretan representatives in the Greek parliament prevented another war
between the Greeks and the Ottomans.
Albanian stirrings
Up until this point the Albanians had staunchly supported Ottoman rule in the
Balkans. The majority of Albanians shared the Islamic faith and culture of the
Ottomans. Over the centuries they had acquired certain privileges from
Constantinople regarding taxation and the possession of weapons. Albanians made


up a majority of the population in the Ottoman provinces of Janina, Kosovo, and
Scutari and a significant portion of the population of the province of Monastir.
Albanians initially hailed the new regime in Constantinople. They hoped it
would initiate reforms leading to a recognition of Albanian autonomy within
the empire. These hopes were soon disappointed. The new government’s
centralization policies aroused fears of loss of privilege and even assimilation in
the Albanian areas of the Ottoman Empire. Discontent swept over much of the
Albanian-inhabited regions, and open revolt broke out first among the Catholic
tribes in the north but soon spread throughout the Albanian regions in the
winter and spring of 1910. In May 1911, an Albanian committee in Vlore
(Valona) demanded the unification of the Ottoman provinces of Scutari, Janina,
Kosovo, and Monastir into an autonomous Albania within the Ottoman Empire.
In an effort to restore Ottoman prestige, Sultan Mohammed V visited Kosovo in
June 1911. This had little effect on the revolt. The government never completely
succeeded in suppressing this uprising before the outbreak of the Balkan Wars.
The growth of an Albanian national self awareness in the Kosovo region
challenged Serbian pretensions there.16 This issue compelled the Serbs to act
expeditiously. They feared that Austrian machinations were behind the Albanian
unrest. The Greeks were also concerned about the Albanian revolt. The
development of Albanian particularism infringed on Greek desirada in Epirus
and threatened to involve Greece prematurely in a war with the Ottoman
Empire.17 Albanian national stirrings also threatened the aspirations of
Montenegro to parts of northern Albania, including the important city of
Scutari. Albanian nationalism threatened the national aspirations of Greece,
Montenegro, and Serbia. This common problem provided the incentive for these
three Balkan countries to act against it and increasingly to act together. By 1911
Nikola, who had granted himself the title of King of Montenegro the previous
year, involved his country in the northern Albanian revolt. He supported the
rebels against the Ottoman authorities with arms and sanctuary. To retain control
of the last important Islamic region of their European holdings, the Ottomans
sent troops to suppress the Albanian revolt. Fighting on the Balkan Peninsula
then intensified in Albania in 1911.
Formation of the Balkan league
After the crisis of 1908–9, both the Belgrade and the Sofia governments
decided to resolve their national unity issues.18 The Serbs sought support against
the escalating anti-Serbian policies of Austria-Hungary. The Bulgarians remained
focused on their aspirations in Macedonia and, to a lesser degree, Thrace. Both
governments wanted to act before the Young Turks could implement meaningful
Another reason for the intensification of Bulgarian and Serbian efforts on
national issues came from radical activists within their own countries. After


the failure of the 1903 Macedonian uprising, a revolutionary organization,
IMRO, had increased its power within Bulgaria and operated effectively
beyond the control of the Sofia government. Nor did the Bulgarian
government completely control its own Macedonian organization, the
Supremeists. Both of these organizations had strong connections within the
Bulgarian army. Likewise in Serbia, the shadowy military political action
association the Black Hand, or Union or Death, functioned within the army
outside of Belgrade governmental circles. Some senior Serbian officers,
including the Chief of Staff, General Radomir Putnik, sympathized with the
Black Hand. Both the Bulgarian and the Serbian organizations were
determined to pursue national unity with or without government sanction.19
The governments in Belgrade and Sofia recognized that to maintain control
of their respective national movements, they had to act forcefully toward the
Ottoman Empire.
Contact between Belgrade and Sofia increased in 1909. These centered
on the issue of Macedonia. As the then Bulgarian foreign minister, General
Stefan Paprikov, noted in 1909, “It will be clear that if not today then
tomorrow, the most important issue will again be the Macedonian question.
And this question, whatever happens, cannot be decided without more or
less direct participation of the Balkan states.”20 After the Bosnian crisis, the
Serbs had an additional incentive to make arrangements with the other
Balkan states. Serbian Foreign Minister Milan Milovanovich explained to
General Paprikov in 1909:
For us there is another important consideration which speaks for the
advantage of an agreement with Bulgaria. As long as we are not allied
with you, our influence over the Croats and Slovenes will be insignificant.
Outside of the differences of faith, these peoples have to a great degree
the same culture we have. They do not see Serbia as a center, however,
able to attract them. It will be something else all together, when you and
we form a powerful bloc. Then all Orthodox and Catholic Serbs, Croats
and Slovenes in the neighboring Monarchy will begin inevitably to
gravitate toward us.21
The Serbs increasingly saw Yugoslavism as a weapon to use against their
Habsburg adversaries, whom they perceived as the major opponent of a Greater
Serbia. This issue illustrated that not all Serbian aspirations were in the Balkans.
Nor did the Greeks, who dreamed of control of the entire Aegean and Cyprus,
and the acquisition of an empire in Anatolia, confine their interests to their
north. To transcend the Balkan Peninsula, the Balkan states first had to secure
their interests with and against each other.
These attempts among the Balkan states to overcome the issues that divided
them coincided with Russian resolve on a more active policy in the Balkans.22
Since their military defeat by the Japanese in 1905 and their diplomatic defeat


by the Austrians in 1909, the Russians had sought a more active role in the
Balkans. To this end, St Petersburg began to encourage the formation of an anti-
Austrian Balkan union. Beginning in 1911, Anatoli Neklyudov, the Russian
ambassador in Sofia, and Nicholas Hartwig, the Russian ambassador in Belgrade,
labored to bring Bulgaria and Serbia together again in order to solidify the
Russian position in the Balkans.
In the summer of 1911, after the failure of overtures to the Ottomans to
resolve the national issues bilaterally, the Bulgarians decided to settle the
Macedonian question. In a speech to the Grand National Parliament (subranie) in
1911, prime minister Geshov broadly hinted at the direction of Bulgarian
foreign policy, “I think it is sufficient that you remember the example of
Piedmont.”23 The Geshov government contemplated a realpolitik that might not
result in a San Stefano Bulgaria, but that could obtain for them much of
The outbreak of the Italo-Turkish war in September that same year provided
further incentive for the Balkan Slavs to hasten to reach an agreement. One
commentator observed that the Italian attack on the Ottomans, “broke the ice”
for the Balkan governments.24 Obviously the Italo-Turkish war, where one of
the Great Powers attacked the Ottoman Empire, further undermined the Berlin
settlement. In addition, it diverted the attention of and depleted the resources of
the Ottoman Empire to the advantage of the Balkan states.
That same autumn, the Bulgarians and Serbs began to exchange proposals
for an alliance treaty. The conservative prime minister Ivan E.Geshov, who
also held the portfolio for foreign affairs, oversaw the Bulgarian efforts. His
Serbian counterpart was foreign minister Milan Milovanovich, who had also
become prime minister in 1911. After three months of negotiations, at times
facilitated by Russian diplomatic assistance, the Bulgarians and Serbs arrived
at an agreement.25 This agreement, signed on 7 March 1912, provided for
military cooperation against both the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires and
an arrangement for Macedonia. The agreement recognized Bulgarian
interests in Thrace and Serbian interests in Kosovo and Albania. It stipulated
that if autonomy could not be implemented for Macedonia, Serbia and
Bulgaria would partition that area. The Bulgarians were to obtain outright
southern Macedonia, including the towns of Ochrid, Prilep and Bitola.
Northern Macedonia, including the important town of Skoplje, was assigned
by the agreement to a “disputed zone,” with the Russian tsar acting as
arbitrator if the Bulgarians and Serbs could not arrive between themselves at
a suitable arrangement for the allocation of the territory. Most Bulgarians
understood the establishment of an autonomous Macedonia as being a step
toward the Bulgarian annexation of all Macedonia. If this did not prove to
be possible, then they could fall back on the provisions in the treaty for
division of Macedonia. Although the treaty indicated that Austria was a
potential enemy, its main thrust pointed at war between the Balkan Slavic
allies and the Ottoman Empire.


The Bulgarians were by and large satisfied with this arrangement. They
obtained Serbian recognition for their claims to most of Macedonia. They were
confident that their liberator and traditional friend Russia would ensure in the
end that the “disputed zone” would also come to Bulgaria. The Serbs, however,
were not as enthusiastic about the treaty. Elements in the Serbian army,
including the chief of staff, General Radomir Putnik, were dissatisfied with the
treaty, and the leader of the Serbian Radical Party, Nikola Pashich, did not like
it. He wrote, “in my opinion we conceded too much, or better said, we
abandoned some Serbian areas which we should never have dared to abandon
even if we were left without an agreement.”26 The source of this dissatisfaction
was Macedonia. The agreement with Bulgaria gave Serbia a clear claim only to
Kosovo and the Sandjak of Novi Pazar. They would only acquire the “disputed
zone,” the northwestern corner of Macedonia, as the beneficiaries of Russian
arbitration. Many Serbs had aspirations to all Macedonia. Milovanovich’s
premature death in July 1912 removed a force for moderation in the Serbian
government. Six weeks after his death, the ardent nationalist Nikola Pashich
became prime minister and minister for foreign affairs. Never a strong partisan
of the agreement with Bulgaria, Pashich remained a strong advocate of a
maximalist Serbian agenda.
Even before the finalization of arrangements between the Bulgarians and the
Serbs, the Sofia government began to pursue talks with Athens toward a
Bulgaro-Greek alliance. The Greeks had long been interested in an arrangement
with Bulgaria directed against Turkey. In the aftermath of its humiliation in the
Cretan crisis of 1909, the government in Athens made numerous overtures to
Sofia.27 These proposals continued until the autumn of 1911, when the
Bulgarians, whose negotiations with the Serbs were ongoing, at last responded
positively. Negotiations between Greece and Bulgaria continued until the
signing of a treaty in Sofia in May 1912.28 The treaty provided for political and
military cooperation against the Ottoman empire without stipulating any
specific division of Ottoman territories. This was largely the fault of the
Bulgarians. They sought an alliance with the Greeks mainly to secure the
assistance of the Greek navy against the Ottomans. The Bulgarians had little
faith in the military abilities of the Greeks and were confident that their own
larger and stronger army could seize the territories in Macedonia they sought
before the Greeks could arrive. This arrogant attitude would have important
During the summer of 1912, the Greeks then concluded “gentlemen’s
agreements” with Serbia and Montenegro.29 The Serbs and Greeks had
negotiated throughout the summer of 1912. Although the Greeks submitted the
draft of an alliance proposal on 22 October, the arrangements were incomplete
by the time of the outbreak of war, because of issues such as the division of
conquered territory and the obligation of Greece to aid Serbia in case of
Austro-Hungarian intervention. The Greeks had no firm commitments from any
of the Slavic Balkan allies, other than the agreement to fight the Ottomans.


After the signing of the Bulgarian-Greek alliance, the Bulgarians and the
Serbs separately approached Montenegro. The Montenegrins were well aware of
the Balkan trend toward confrontation with the Ottoman Empire. Since
December 1910, King Nikola had begun to arm Catholic tribesmen in
northern Albania and to encourage attacks on centers of Ottoman authority.
Coincidentally, he began to approach the other Balkan states. In January 1911,
Nikola proposed to the Serbian ambassador in Cetinje an agreement for
“mutual advance in case of pending events in the Balkans.”30 In June 1911, he
approached the Bulgarians.31 Sofia did not respond until the arrangements with
Belgrade and Athens were in place. Then the Bulgarians replied favorably and
made an agreement in August 1912.32 The Serbs finally answered Nikola in
September 1912. The two Serbian states signed a political and military alliance
“aimed at the liberation of Serbs under the Turkish yoke” in Lucerne,
Switzerland, on 27 September.33
With the Montenegrin agreements the Balkan League was complete. It was a
flawed and flimsy diplomatic instrument, accomplished in haste and based upon
self-interest. Bulgaria had formal written alliances with Greece, Montenegro, and
Serbia. Serbia had a written agreement with Montenegro. The Greco-Serbian
and Greco-Montenegrin agreements were merely oral arrangements, difficult to
enforce. The Balkan allies were now ready to fight to complete the process of
national unity.
By the summer of 1912, Ottoman control of the Balkans had deteriorated,
especially in Albania and Macedonia. Albanian disorders became more
widespread. The bombing of a marketplace in Kochana, Macedonia, by IMRO
elements as deliberate provocation resulted in the massacre of over one hundred
Slavs there and outraged the Bulgarians. Ottoman efforts to disarm the Balkan
population came to nothing. The Ottoman military remained engaged in a
losing effort against Italy. One casualty of this string of difficulties was the Young
Turk government. At the end of August an anti-Young Turk faction in the army
brought a new government to power.
Preparations for war
In pursuit of nationalist goals the Balkan states had all built up large military
establishments. These armies all received large amounts of the national budgets.
They all became strong enough to challenge any constitutional or other political
restraint. In addition, they all attempted to pursue strong nationalist agendas of
their own. Finally, all of these military establishments viewed the possibility of
war with the Ottoman Empire as an exciting opportunity. The Serbian deputy
chief of staff, Colonel Zhivojin Mishich, later remembered,
Among all our people, and especially in the military, an unusually broad
mood in favor of this war prevailed. Absolutely no one doubted a successful


outcome. All conscripts and reserve officers, equipped for war, happy and
proud, passed through the streets of their collection places. Suddenly all
previous quarrels among the officer corps ceased, all were now brothers,
and they went off hand in hand to this holy war.34
Similar sentiments prevailed in the armed forces of the other three Balkan
allies. The announcement of mobilization generally met with enthusiasm
throughout the Balkans. Only some socialists and the Bulgarian Agrarian Party
expressed reservations about the call to arms.
There was little enthusiasm for the war on the Ottoman side. Some students
at the University of Constantinople demonstrated in favor of a war with the
Balkan states.35 Otherwise, the Ottoman capital remained complacent about the
prospect of war. The recent wars in Yemen and north Africa had blunted much
patriotic enthusiasm.
To coordinate their efforts against the Ottomans, the Bulgarian and
Serbian staffs met several times. They signed a military convention in
Belgrade on 29 April 1912. This convention provided for mutual assistance
against an Ottoman or Romanian attack against Bulgaria and against an
Austro-Hungarian attack against Serbia. Subsequent agreements on 2 July
and 28 September established the basis for the strategic conduct of the
war. The Serbs had wanted a large Bulgarian force of 100,000 men, the
equivalent of one Bulgarian army, to go to the Macedonian or Vardar
theater to insure an overwhelming victory there. General Fichev, the
Bulgarian chief of staff, argued that the eastern or Thracian theater would
be decisive and that the Bulgarians needed to use the large majority of
their forces there. Fichev’s view prevailed. In Belgrade on 28 September
the two staffs agreed that the main Bulgarian effort would be in Thrace
and that the main Serbian effort would be in Macedonia.36 Militarily this
made sense, for the Bulgarians had the larger army and could expect to
encounter larger Ottoman forces because of their proximity to the
Ottoman capital. Politically, however, Fichev’s demands located Bulgarian
forces further away from the major Bulgarian goal of the war, Macedonia.
Serbian forces were to take and occupy the parts of Macedonia promised
to Bulgaria by the March convention. Fichev himself was not unaware of
the complications this military convention would create for Bulgarian
aspirations. He made reference to Macedonia when he repeated a
Bulgarian saying to Colonel Mishich, “It is difficult for any country an
army passes through.”37 Serbian occupation of land promised to Bulgaria
would become a source of serious conflict.
The Bulgarians and Greeks also signed a formal military convention in Sofia,
but not until 5 October, after the beginning of mobilization. General Fichev
and Minister President Geshov signed for Bulgaria, and Captain Ioannes
Metaxas, the future Greek dictator, and Demeter Panas, Greek minister in Sofia,
signed for Greece. The most important aspect of this convention for the


Bulgarians was the assurance that the Greek fleet would dominate the Aegean
Sea so that the Ottomans could not transfer troops from Asia Minor to Europe
by sea.38 Bulgaria was obligated to commit the majority of its forces in
Macedonia unless the Serbs moved into Macedonia with 120,000 men. In that
case, the Bulgarians could utilize the bulk of their forces in Thrace. Both sides
also agreed not to accept an armistice without the prior agreement of the other.
The Bulgarians had little respect for the prowess of the Greek army and
sought no further agreements. They assumed that they would achieve their goals
without the aid or interference of the Greeks. They should have attempted to
reach a clearer delineation of activities in southern Macedonia, especially around
Salonika. Salonika was an obvious Greek destination but only a fanciful
Bulgarian ambition. A definite agreement about areas of action in southern
Macedonia might have avoided the race for Salonika and the overt hostility
between Greece and Bulgaria that resulted.
Once the alliance arrangements were in place, the Bulgarians began to insist
on the implementation of Article 23 of the Treaty of Berlin, which they
interpreted to mean the establishment of autonomy for Macedonia. The
Bulgarians perceived in an autonomous Macedonia an advantage that might
permit the eventual annexation of the entire area. When the Ottomans refused
to consider reforms leading to autonomy in their European provinces, the
Balkan alliance mobilized. Efforts by the Great Powers to prevent the outbreak
of war were feeble and futile. The First Balkan War began on 8 October 1912
with a Montenegrin attack on Ottoman positions. The Greeks signaled their
intentions six days later when Venizelos welcomed delegates from Crete into the
Greek parliament. This was proof of a union between Greece and Crete and a
reason, as in 1897, for war. On 17 October the Balkan League would respond to
the Ottoman declaration of war the previous day. The Balkan Peninsula was
aflame, a conflagration that would rage for the next six years.
Military forces
In many respects all the Balkan armies were very similar. The all followed
European models for training, logistics, communication, and sanitation. Except
for Montenegro, they adopted the European General Staff model. Montenegro
lacked a General Staff completely. They all fielded a variety of Europeanmanufactured
weaponry. They tended to have older Krupp and newer
Schneider-Creusot guns. There was little standardization for equipment in any of
the Balkan armies. All the Balkan armies perceived that the often illiterate
peasant infantryman, indoctrinated to some degree with the appropriate
nationalist ideology, was the basis for their military posture.
The Balkan armies were also similar in that they were largely homogenous.
None of the four states of the Balkan League contained large national
minorities. Many of the existing minorities, such as the Rom (Gypsies), were


not expected to serve. A single language of command was a unifying factor in
all the armies. Socially they were similar as well, with conscripted peasants
forming the bulk of the enlisted personnel. Their officers were a mix of
professionals from varied backgrounds, who often had some foreign training.
Reserve officers came from the small professional and commercial classes.
Those enlisted personnel who had any education received indoctrination in
the nationalist ideology of the particular country, whether it Bulgaria, Greece,
or Serbia, replete with references to medieval glories. Bulgarians learned of
the empires of Tsar Simeon (893–927), Greeks learned about the Emperor
Basil II (known as the Bulgar Slayer, 976–1025), and Montenegrins and Serbs
learned about Stefan Dushan (1331–55). These individuals had established
medieval states that briefly controlled most of the Balkan Peninsula. The
modern national states recognized these earlier ones as lineal antecedents and
as models to be emulated. Often the junior officers leading the men off to
war had served as the conveyers of this ideology when they had been
The Bulgarian army was well trained. Both its infantry and its artillery drew
praise from foreign observers. In 1910 the American military attaché in Paris,
Major T.Bentley Mott, reported after a trip to the Balkans:
The Army of Bulgaria is recognized in European military circles as having
exceptional value. It is small, well instructed, and armed with the most
modern weapons, chosen from the best constructors in Europe. It has for
years been kept as a sharpened tool, ready for immediate use to defend the
country from powerful neighbors which have repeatedly threatened or else
to undertake, alone or in conjunction with other powers, the carving out of
a larger independence or larger territory from troublesome neighbors.39
Its officers had obtained instruction in Russia, Italy, and Germany. Bulgarian staff
officers were familiar with the current military theories of the day. They sought
to implement the ideas of the French Colonel Louis de Grandmaison to carry
out the attack quickly and in force.40 Greek and Serbian officers had similar
backgrounds and similar training experiences.
The Bulgarians had a peacetime army of under 60,000 men, which
during war expanded to over 350,000. The army was organized into nine
infantry divisions, which were armed with the Mannlicher magazine rifle
with a short bayonet, and one cavalry division. In wartime each infantry
division included four machine-gun sections, which had four 8-mm Maxim
guns each. The Bulgarian infantry prided itself on its use of the bayonet and
on its night-time operations. Each infantry division had attached a field
artillery regiment containing nine batteries of four guns each. By the time
of the Balkan Wars these were Schneider-Creusot quick-firing 75-mm guns.
In addition, the Bulgarians had fifty-four six-gun batteries consisting of
older Krupp 8.7-cm guns, and twenty-four six-gun batteries of other older


guns. It also had twelve four-gun batteries of Krupp 7.5-mm mountain or
light artillery, fourteen howitzer batteries, and a number of other older guns.
For the Bulgarians, the artillery had a dual function. It was necessary to
attack and reduce the Ottoman fortresses at Adrianople and Lozengrad. Also,
since the Russo-Japanese War, the Bulgarians had noted the need for field
artillery to utilize against enemy infantry.41 Finally, the Bulgarians possessed a
small navy consisting of six small torpedo boats and the 726-ton torpedo
gunboat Nadezhda (1898). The main purpose of the Bulgarian navy was the
protection of the Black Sea coast and the prevention of any blockade that
might hamper the important connection to Russia. When the First Balkan
War broke out the Bulgarians had five airplanes of British, French, and
Russian manufacture, although they soon acquired seventeen more.
The Greeks had a peacetime army of about 25,000 men, which with
mobilization grew to 110,000 men. In war this army consisted of four
divisions and six battalions of light infantry (Evzones). The infantry weapon
was the 6.5-mm Mannlicher-Schonauer rifle. Each division had a regiment
of field artillery attached. The Greek artillery regiments consisted of three
groups of three four-gun batteries armed with Schneider-Creusot 7.5-cm
guns. In addition, the Greeks had two mountain artillery regiments with
7.5-cm Schneider-Canet guns and one heavy artillery battalion. The Greeks
also had three cavalry regiments. At the outbreak of the First Balkan War, the
Greeks possessed four aircraft. Over the course of the war, they added two
sea planes and added floats to one other plane.
Among the members of the Balkan League, only the Greeks possessed a
navy of any size and strength. The Greek navy had two main tasks in the
war. The first was to guard the mouth of the Dardanelles to interdict
Ottoman shipping in the Aegean and Adriatic Seas. This was important as it
would prevent the Ottomans from reinforcing and resupplying their
European forces. The Greek ambassador to Bulgaria, Demeter Panas,
emphasized this point in conversation with Ivan Geshov, the Bulgarian
prime minister, on the eve of the war. Panas stated that Greece could
provide 600,000 men for the war effort. This assertion met Bulgarian
incredulity. Panas explained, “We can place an army of 200,000 men in the
field and then our fleet will stop about 400,000 men being landed by
Turkey upon the southern coast of Thrace and Macedonia, between Salonica
and Gallipoli.”42 The other task was to occupy the Aegean islands still under
Ottoman control.
The pride of the Greek navy was the 10,118-ton armored cruiser
Georgios Averov. Built in Italy in 1910, the Averov carried four 23-cm guns
and eight 12-cm guns. In addition, the Greek navy had eight destroyers built
in 1912, eight built in 1906, nineteen old torpedo boats, and a submarine,
the Dolphin. It also had some old auxiliary vessels. The Greek navy consisted
of over 11,000 men.43 The commander of the navy was Rear Admiral Paul


The Montenegrins lagged behind the other Balkan states in military
training, equipment, and education. Essentially the Montenegrin army was a
militia composed of most of the males in the country. In wartime it
amounted to 35,600 men. These men were armed with a variety of Russian
Berdan and other rifles. The Montenegrins had four batteries (twenty-six
guns) of light artillery, and eight and a half batteries (thirty-four guns) of
mountain artillery. These guns were of Italian and Russian origin. Altogether
the Montenegrins had 126 guns, ranging in size from 65 to 240 mm.44 They
also had a small cavalry unit consisting of one officer and thirty men. The
Montenegrins depended to a great degree on a martial tradition for the
morale of the army. Among the Balkan armies, only the Montenegrins had
any recent experience of war. This was largely due to the chronic condition
of bellicosity that existed along the Montenegrin-Ottoman frontier. The
nature of the fighting tended to season the Montenegrins as individual
soldiers, but not as an army.
Serbia had a mobilized strength of 230,000 men organized into ten infantry
divisions and one cavalry division. The Serbian infantryman carried the 1889
Mauser model rifle. Every infantry regiment had a machine-gun section
consisting of four 7-mm Maxim guns. The Serbs had 228 Scheinder-Creusot
7.5-cm quick-firing guns and some older guns. The Serbian air force expanded
from three planes to ten over the course of the First Balkan War.
In population the Balkan states were far inferior to the Ottoman Empire.
In 1912 Bulgaria had about 4,300,000 people, Greece 2,666,000, Montenegro
250,000, and Serbia almost 3,000,000. The Ottoman Empire had around
26,000,000 inhabitants.45 Of these, around 6,000,000 lived in Europe. In the
European part of the empire around 3,500,000 inhabitants were mainly
Orthodox Christian (Bulgarian, Greek, Serbian) and around 2,300,000 were
Islamic. They were of various backgrounds (Turkish, Albanian, Slavic,
Circassian, Tartar). This large population was not necessarily an advantage.
Even though after 1908 the Ottoman government committed itself to
constitutional reform and extended the obligation to serve in the military to
all males in the empire, the army could hardly rely on the numerous
Bulgarians, Greeks, and Serbs residing within the empire to fight loyally
against their co-nationals living in independent states across the frontiers.
Many of these Orthodox Christian peoples in the European part of the
Ottoman Empire would probably assist any invasion by their co-nationals. Nor
did Arab, Armenian, and Kurdish soldiers from Asia offer unconditional loyalty.
The diverse population of the Ottoman Empire made conscription and
training difficult. The Ottoman army never attempted a sophisticated
arrangement like that devised by the Habsburg army, which had a simplified
language of command and the officers made intensive efforts to learn the
language of their troops.
After their takeover in 1908, the Young Turks attempted to reform the
Ottoman armed forces. German army officers and British naval officers


oversaw some of the reforms. In 1912 the extent and success of the reforms
remained problematical. In particular, the development of an officer corps
trained along European (German) lines was open to doubt. The Ottomans
had a fairly well-trained and well-equipped regular army (nizam). It also
depended upon an infantry reserve (redif), which was ill-trained, illequipped,
and ill-led. Non-Turkish and non-Islamic people made up a
significant portion of the redifs. Many of them had little loyalty to the
government in Constantinople and would desert during the campaigns of
the Balkan Wars.
Only about half of the Ottoman army was stationed in Europe. The other
half was scattered throughout the near-eastern regions of the Ottoman Empire,
from Anatolia to Yemen, where a guerrilla war had smoldered since 1904. Some
soldiers remained in north Africa in the aftermath of the war against the Italians.
While the Ottoman high command could draw upon these Asian forces to
obtain decisive numbers in a war against the Balkan states, it still faced the
immense difficulties of gathering these soldiers from the remote corners of the
empire and transporting them to the European battlefields.
Like the Balkan armies, the Ottoman army had equipment from various
European sources. In Europe they had four corps in Thrace based in
Constantinople and three corps in the western Balkans based in Salonika. In
wartime these corps consisted of three divisions, a sharpshooting regiment, a
cavalry brigade of three or four regiments, and an artillery regiment. An artillery
regiment had two sections of three batteries with six guns per battery, giving
thirty-six guns per regiment. Redif units, all infantry, supplemented the
Ottoman division in time of war.
Standardization was a problem. The infantry was armed with either one of
three different models of the Mauser rifle, some of 7.65 mm others of 9.5
mm, or an Henri-Martini gun. Its artillery was mostly made up of Krupp 7.5-
cm guns. The mixed population and the high levels of illiteracy in the
Ottoman army made the effective operation of modern military equipment
problematical. This was a problem, especially in the artillery. The Ottoman
army also had several cavalry formations. The Ottomans had five airplanes in
Thrace at the start of the war. None of them was in condition for flying when
war broke out.
The Ottoman fleet consisted of six armored ships, two armored cruisers,
eleven torpedo destroyers, thirty torpedo ships, and nineteen other
transportation and antiquated vessels. Its two modern vessels were the 3,800-ton
light cruiser Hamidiye (1903), which had two 6-inch and four 4.7-inch guns,
and the 9,250-ton armored cruiser Mecidiye (1904), which had two 15-cm guns
and eight 12-cm guns apiece. Together they were probably a match for the
Georgios Averov, but not separately.
The Ottomans could not turn all their attention to the troubles in the Balkan
Peninsula until they ended the war with Italy, which had engaged their efforts
since 1911. Although Ottoman-supported tribes in the interior of Ottoman


North Africa had fought the invading Italians to a stalemate, the Ottoman
government in Constantinople decided to resolve this conflict in order to
address the more serious one pending in the Balkans. On 15 October 1912,
they signed an agreement with Italy at Ouchy, Switzerland, in which they ceded
Tripoli and Cyrenaica to Italy. In return, the Italians promised to vacate the
Dodecanese Islands and Rhodes, which they had occupied during the war.46
The Ottomans then turned to Balkan problems.
The Ottomans lacked a clear plan for confronting a threat from the Balkan
Peninsula. When asked about plans, the Ottoman Minister of War, Huseyin
Nazim Pasha, a graduate of the French military academy at St Cyr, nonchalantly
replied, “There is a set of plans prepared during the time of Mahmud Sevket
Pasha. I am going to obtain and examine them.”47 This was hardly a sound basis
on which to initiate a modern military campaign.
The Ottoman army did have recent knowledge of war, largely through
fighting in Yemen, fighting the Italians in Ottoman North Africa, and the
fighting in Albania. This was of limited value, however. Yemen was remote. Also,
because the war in the Balkans immediately followed the one in North Africa,
many of the officers and men who gained military experience there were
unable to return before the Ottoman defeats in the autumn of 1912.
The mountainous topography of the Balkan Peninsula made transportation a
difficult issue for all the forces involved in the Balkan Wars. Rail lines, where
they existed, greatly facilitated movement. A trunk line extended from Belgrade
to Sofia to Adrianople and to Constantinople. This, the route of the famous
luxury train the Orient Express, allowed Bulgarian and Ottoman troops to speed
to their respective frontiers. The other important rail line branching off from this
line in the Serbian city of Nish was a secondary trunk line that ran down the
Vardar valley to Salonika. It connected to another line which ran to the main
trunk line south of Adrianople. This line, and two narrow-gauge lines extending
from Skoplje to Mitrovitsa in the Sandjak of Novi Pazar and from Salonika to
Monastir, helped the Ottomans somewhat offset the presence of the Greek fleet
in the Aegean. Unfortunately, confusion in the Ottoman railroad system
hindered mobilization. Many of the non-Moslem railroad employees were
dismissed.48 Their replacements lacked the training and experience to facilitate
smooth railroad utilization. This undermined the Ottomans’ ability to move men
and equipment to and from the battlefields. The Greeks also had rail lines
extending from Athens to their frontiers at Larissa and Trikala. Montenegro
possessed a short but convoluted narrow-gauge line extending from the Adriatic
port of Antivari (Serbian: Bar) to Vir Pazar on Lake Scutari. This was useful in
bringing supplies from the coast to Montenegrin troops besieging Scutari.
In the absence or destruction of rail lines, the combatants had to utilize the
crude roads of the Balkan Peninsula for movement. Often roads barely existed.
Motorized transportation was almost entirely lacking. Most Balkan armies
depended on horses, donkeys, or oxen to move supplies and the wounded. One
source noted that for transportation in Montenegro, “failing other agencies,


women are employed.”49 Human power helped move supplies in all the Balkan
countries. All this meant that movement of men and material during the Balkan
Wars was likely to be very slow.
The Balkan states, which depended on a national ethos for a sense of power and
legitimacy at the time of their formation, were painfully aware that they were
incomplete. All of these states sought to achieve national unity at the expense of
the increasingly decrepit Ottoman Empire, and in the case of the Serbs and
Montenegrins also at the expense of the Habsburg Empire. One major obstacle
to the attainment of this unity was the desire of the Great Powers of Europe to
maintain peace and stability throughout the European continent. The Treaty of
Berlin embodied this desire. The other major obstacle was the inability of the
Balkan states themselves to overcome their own rivalries and claims. The defeat
of Bulgarian interests in Macedonia in 1903 and pressure from Austria-Hungary
on Serbia beginning in 1904 led these two states to explore mutual cooperation.
This tendency to cooperate became more pronounced after the Bosnian crisis of
1908–9. Fears of Ottoman resurgence following the Young Turk revolt and
demonstrations of Ottoman weakness in the Italo-Turkish war further
accelerated the preparations of the Balkan states toward war. After 1911,
Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, and Serbia, with the encouragement of Russia,
acted to overcome their intra-Balkan rivalries and create a pan-Balkan alliance
directed against the Ottoman Empire. The Russians naively assumed this alliance
would serve their interests against the Habsburgs. With the finalization of
arrangements in the summer of 1912, however, its anti-Ottoman intent became
clear. By then, no amount of posturing by the Great Powers could prevent the
outbreak of war. The determination of the Balkan nations upon war was
stronger than the resolve of the Great Powers to avert war. The Balkan Peninsula
would not know peace for over six years.
The Balkan Wars of 1912–13 occurred because of the determination of the
Balkan states to resolve their issues of national unity in the face of the weakness
of the Ottoman Empire and the opposition of the Great Powers. By 1912 the
Great Powers, who had maintained peace in the Balkan Peninsula since 1878
through the mechanism of the Berlin settlement, lacked the determination to
enforce it when confronted by Balkan unity. Because of this failure they would
find themselves at war within two years.


1 Konstantin Pandev, Borbite v Makedoniya i Odrinsko, 1878–1912, Spomeni (Sofia,
1982) 5.
2 W.N.Medlicott, The Congress of Berlin and After (London, 1938) 22.
3 Ivan E.Geshov, Spomeni iz godini na borbi i pobedi (Sofia, 1916) 94.
4 Ivan E.Geshov, Lichna korespondentsiya (Sofia, 1994) no. 7 letter of 30 June 1878
o.s. to Hristo N.Puliev, 29.
5 Medlicott, 208.
6 B.D.Kesiyakov, Prinos kûm diplomaticheskata istoriya na Bûlgariya 1878–1925
(Sofia, 1925) I 20–21. See also E.C.Helmreich and C.E.Black, “The Russo-
Bulgar ian Military Convention of 1902.” Journal of Modern History IX
(December 1937) 471– 82.
7 St Danev, “Kabinetût D-r. St Danev 1901–1903 godina,” Rodina III 4 (1941)
8 Ministerstvo na Voinata, Shtab na Armiyata voenno istoricheska komisiya. Voinata
mezhdu Bûlgariya i Turtsiya 1912–13 god. (hereafter referred to as Voinata) (Sofia,
1933–7) I 83–4.
9 A.Toshev, Balkanskite voini, (Sofia, 1929–31) I 153–8. See also E.C.Helmreich,
The Diplomacy of the Balkan Wars 1912–13 (New York, 1969) 4–11.
10 Foreign Office, British Documents on the Origins of the War 1898–1914, eds
G.P.Gooch and Harold Temperley (London, 1926–38) (hereafter referred to as
BD) IX ii 454.
11 Auswärtiges Amt, Die Grosse Politik der Europäischen Kabinette 1871–1914, eds
Johannes Lepsius, Albrecht Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Friedrich Thimme
(Berlin, 1927) (hereafter referred to as GP) XXVI i 9119. In 1909 Crown
Prince George, in a fit of pique, killed his manservant. His younger brother
Alexander then replaced him as heir to the throne.
12 BD V 140.
13 Voinata I 155.
14 Ministerium des k. und k. Hauses und des Äusser n, Österreich-Ungarns
Aussenpolitik von der Bosnischen Krise 1908 bis zum Kriegsausbruch 1914.
Diplomatische Aktenstucke des Österreichisch-Ungarischen Ministerium des Äussern,
eds Ludwig Bittner, Alfred F. Pribram, Heinrich Srbik and Hans Uebersberger
(Vienna, 1930) (hereafter referred to as QUA) I 187, 198.
15 Ibid., 450, 454, 599.
16 Jovan M.Jovanovich, Borba za narodno ujedinjenje 1903–1908 (Belgrade, no date)
17 B.Kondis, “The Role of the Albanian Factor upon the Greek-Bulgarian
Understanding of 1912,” Balkan Studies 25 2 (1984) 378.


18 See Radoslav Popov, “Balkanskite dûrzhavi i krayat na krizata ot 1908–1909
g.” in V chest na Akademik Dimitûr Kosev (Sofia, 1974) 262–63.
19 See Helmreich, 40–41.
20 Voinata I 37.
21 Ibid., 36.
22 See Edward Thaden, Russia and the Balkan Alliance of 1912 (University Park,
Pennsylvania, 1965) 38–57.
23 Dnevnitsi (stenografski) na petato veliko narodno sûbranie v gr. Veliko Tûrnovo (Sofia,
1911) speech by Ivan E.Geshov, 17 July 1911 o.s. 230.
24 George Young (Diplomatist) Nationalism and War in the Near East, (Oxford,
1915) 160.
25 For text of the treaty see Kesiyakov, I 36–48; Young, 387–9; BD IX ii appendix
26 Alex N.Dragnich, Serbia, Nikola Pasic and Yugoslavia (New Brunswick, NJ, 1974)
27 Elena Statelova, “Bûlgaro-Grûtskite politicheski otnosheniya v navecherieto na
Balkanskata voina,” Izvestia na Instituta za voenna istoriya XXXVI (1984) 49.
28 For text of the treaty see Kesiyakov, I 148–151; Young, 396–400.
29 Katrin Boeckh, Von den Balkankriegen zum Ersten Weltkrieg (Munich, 1996) 29.
30 Otto Hoetzsch, ed., Die internationalen Beziehungen im Zeitalter des Imperialisms:
Dokumente aus den Archiven der zarischen und der provisorischen Regierungen
(Berlin, 1942) (hereafter referred to as RD) 3rd series I i 6.
31 Mary Edith Durham, Twenty Years of Balkan Tangle (New York, 1920) 222–3;
John D.Treadway, The Falcon and the Eagle (West Lafayette, IN, 1983) 106.
32 Voinata I 62; Kesiyakov I 45 (footnote).
33 Ernst C.Helmreich, “The Serbo-Montenegrin Alliance of September 23/
October 6, 1912,” Journal of Central European Affairs XIX (January 1960) 412–
13; Henryk Batowski, “The Failure of the Balkan Alliance of 1912,” Balkan
Studies 7 1 (1966) 113.
34 Draga Vuksanovich-Antich, Stvaranje moderne Srpske vojske. Frantsuske utitsaj na
njeno formiranje (Belgrade, 1993) 135–6.
35 Yucel Aktar, “The Impact of the 1912 War Meetings’ on the Balkan Wars,”
Revue internationale d’histoire militaire 67 (1988) 169–75.
36 See Istoriski institut Jugoslovenske narodne armije, Prvi Balkanski rat (Operatsije
Srpske vojske) ed. Branko Perovich (Belgrade, 1959) (hereafter referred to as
Rat) I 144–5; Ivan Fichev, Balkanskata voina 1912–13. Preshivelitsi, belezhki i
dokumenti (Sofia, 1941) 68–9.
37 Vojvoda Zhivojin Mishish, Moje uspomene 2nd edn (Belgrade, 1980) 268.
38 Fichev, 69; Georgi Markov, “Voennite sporazumeniya v Balkanskiya sûyuz i
obyavavaneto na obshta mobilizatsiya v Bûlgariya (Mart-Septembri 1912 g.)”
Voennoistoricheski sbornik 58 1 (1989) 18–19.
39 National Archives, Washington DC, War College Division, General
Correspondence 1902–1920, Records Group (hereafter referred to as RG)
165–5964–3. Report of Major T.Bentley Mott, 28 July 1910.
40 Philip Howell, The Campaign in Thrace 1912 (London, 1913) 56–7.
41 Yako Molhov, “Bûlgarskata artiler iya prez Balkanskata voina 1912 g.”
Voennoistoricheski sbornik 57 1 (1988) 74.
42 D.J.Cassavetti, Hellas and the Balkan Wars (London, 1914) 26.
43 Ibid., 31.
44 Novica Rakocevic, “The Organization and Character of the Montenegr in
Army in the First Balkan War,” eds Bela Kiraly and Dimitrije Djordjevic in
East Central European Society and the Balkan Wars (Boulder, 1987) 122–3.


45 The figures for the Balkan states are from Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the
Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars, Washington DC, 1913, 418 facing map.
46 The Italians did not fulfill this obligation, claiming that they needed to protect
the islands from the effects of the Balkan War. They would retain the
Dodecanese Islands until the end of the Second World War.
47 Feroz Ahmad, The Young Turks. The Committee of Union and Progress in Turkish
Politics 1908–1914 (Oxford, 1969) 113. Mehmud Shevket Pasha was Ottoman
minister of war from January 1910 until Nizam Pasha succeeded him in July 1912.
48 Cherif Pacha, Quelques réflexions sur la guerre turco-balkanique (Paris, 1913) 49.
49 General Staff, War Office (Great Britain) Armies of the Balkan States, 1914–1918
(London and Nashville, 1996); “Military Notes on the Balkan States,” 63.


Фотография Стефан Стефан 15.04 2018

История Балкан. На переломе эпох (1878–1914 гг.) / Отв. ред. К.В. Никифоров.

М.: Институт славяноведения РАН, 2017. – 504 с.


Представленный труд – четвертый, завершающий том «Истории Балкан в Новое время». На фоне борьбы великих держав рассматривается важнейший период в истории балканских государств – от получения независимости до Первой мировой войны. Этот период, связанный прежде всего с задачами модернизации балканских государств, разделен авторами издания на две части – Эпоха Берлинского конгресса и Эпоха Балканских войн.


Для историков, политологов, широкого круга читателей.



Предисловие (К.В. Никифоров)



Восточный вопрос утрачивает приоритет в европейских международных отношениях (В.Н. Виноградов)

Румыния: от завоевания независимости к рубежу XX века (В.Б. Каширин)

Политическое развитие Болгарии после освобождения (В.И. Косик)

Сербия: в поисках внешней опоры (1878–1903 гг.) (П.А. Искендеров)

Черногория после Берлинского конгресса (В.Б. Хлебникова)

Пробуждение «албанского фактора» (1878–1908 гг.) (П.А. Искендеров)

Греция: конец «эпохи романтизма» (О.В. Соколовская)

Османская империя в правление Абдул-Хамида II: зулюм, модернизация, революция (Р.Р. Субаев)



Долгий путь к рождению Антанты (В.Н. Виноградов)

Румынские маневры: 1900–1914 гг. (В.Б. Каширин)

Болгария: от независимости к Балканским войнам (В.И. Косик)

Балканский «пасьянс» Белграда (1903–1914 гг.) (П.А. Искендеров)

Черногория в начале ХХ в. (В.Б. Хлебникова)

Боснийский узел (П.А. Искендеров)

Македония: балканское «яблоко раздора» (П.А. Искендеров)

Албания на пути к независимости (1908–1914 гг.) (П.А. Искендеров)

Греция: становление европейского государства (О.В. Соколовская)

Младотурки у власти (1908–1914 гг.): от торжества свободы к новой диктатуре (Р.Р. Субаев)


Заключение (К.В. Никифоров)


Именной указатель (А.А. Леонтьева, К.В. Мельчакова)