The Balkan Wars occurred only a couple of years before
the first world war began, as a result of these wars Greece's area and
population doubled. The Ottoman Empire no longer the super
power that it once was, and now known as "The Sick Man of Europe",
was assured defeat at the onset of the First Balkan War.
The Balkan Wars reshape the map of Europe, doubling the size of
In the early years of the 20th century
the Ottoman Turks allowed the Bulgarians to change the ethnic
"Greek" character of Macedonia through persecutions, see Paulos
Melas. The persecutions of the Greeks of Macedonia and
the inability to free Crete by Greece, damaged the national conscience of
Greece. The end result was a revolution by the military that overthrew
the Greek government on the 15th of August 1909.
The overthrow of the government was widely accepted
throughout Greece and brought a new sense of pride to the nation. The
military placed Elefterios Venizelos who would later become prime minister
of Greece, see Elefterios
Venizelos as their representative in power. Venizelos managed
to bring sweeping reforms to Greece. One of his reforms was to create
a very powerful army which would eventually be used in the liberation of the
"Greek Speaking" territories.
The arrival of the Neo-Turks into power in 1908 in the
Ottoman Empire foreshadowed an impending war in the Balkans. The
Neo-Turks were an educated class and with members of the military in the
Ottoman Empire they managed to overthrow the Sultan Abdul Hamid and place on the throne his
brother Muhamad the 5th.
The occupied populations of the Balkans cheered the arrival
of the Neo-Turks as it was believed that this new class of educated leaders of
the Ottoman Empire would promote equality of all. The Neo-Turks became the
opposite of what it was believed that they would have become. These
"new thinking Turks" were in fact far crueler than the previous
Turks. Massive persecutions swept the Balkans and hundreds of
thousands were murdered under their direction. A massive attempt was
made to wipe out the ethnic groups in the Balkans, and force them to become
Turks and Muslims.
The countries of Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and
Montenegro feared for their brothers in the enslaved Balkans.
The countries then decided that their differences had to be put aside
as they shared the common desire to free their populations from
Ottoman occupation. The time to act was now when the weakened state of
the Turkish empire assured them of a Turkish defeat. To not act by the
combined forces would mean the eradication of their people either
through murder or through assimilation into the Turkish race.
Venizelos · Possibly the greatest
Greek politician of the 20th century. He was Prime Minister of
Greece during the most trying of times.
Melas · A
national Greek hero who fought for the preservation of Hellenism in
Macedonia in the early 20th century.