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The First Balkan War

The Balkan wars were different then any other wars the Turks had fought.  Though the Turks were undoubtedly good soldiers, they had been used to outnumbering their enemies in wars that they fought.  As a result of threats from many fronts, the Ottoman Empire  had  spread its large and significant army throughout its empire thus weakening it.  Though several hundred thousand troops still remained in the Balkans the alliance of Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro served many more troops than the Turks resulting in the Turkish Army being outnumbered two to one.  In the past many enemies of the Turks were not armed as heavily, this new alliance of nations was heavily armed with the newest military equipment.   The defeat of the Ottoman Empire's army  at the hands of the alliances armies in the Balkans was only a matter of time.

Knowing full well the state of the Ottoman empire and fearing the impending genocide of their peoples the alliance decided to crush the Ottoman Empire's army in the Balkans.  On the 4th of October 1914 Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro declared war on the Ottoman Empire.  The Ottoman Empire responded by declaring war on Bulgaria and Serbia and hoped for Greece to stay out of the war.  The next day Greece respecting the secret alliance it held with Serbia formally declared war on the Ottoman Empire.

The Turkish army was immediately overwhelmed by the combined forces and  began retreating on all fronts.  The Greek soldiers confident in their new army and anxious to invade the Ottoman Empire one day behind their allies ran with jubilation across the Greek-Ottoman border at Thessaly attacking the Ottoman Turkish positions.  One after another city after city fell to the advancing Greek army.  The Greek army reached as far north as the ethnic Greek city of Koritsa in modern Albania.  On the 27th of October the Greek army entered victorious into Thessalonica liberating the capital of Macedonia.  Similar victories were occurring on all fronts with Greece's allies.

Whereas the largest portion of the Greek army was liberating Macedonia a large segment was liberating Epirus from Ottoman Occupation.  The city of Ioannina with German military assistance had been fortified so strongly that it was practically impenetrable.  The Greek army fought hard and lost a great many men to capture the city of Ioannina  from the  Turkish army.   In the city of Ioannina alone thirty thousand Turkish soldiers surrendered to the Greek army upon its capture.  On the 13th of February 1913 the Greek army marched into Ioannina.  The city's population danced in the streets in jubilation over the liberation cheering on the Greek army  to further victories.

The Greek navy also shared many victories in the Aegean Sea with its admiral Paulos Kountouriotis.  The navy managed to liberate the island of Lemnos and trapped the Turkish navy in the Dardanelles. The Turkish navy tried many times to break out but was not successful.  The inability of the Turks to leave from the Dardanelles assured the liberation of the Aegean Islands. One by one the islands of the Aegean fell to the Greeks Samos, Chios, Lesvos, Imbros, Tenedos and many others.

The Bulgarians now approached the outskirts of Constantinople.  The Turks fearing a catastrophe which would result in them even losing their capital surrendered.  The Ottomans gave up practically all their holdings in the Balkans accept a little strip of land that surrounded their capital.

As a result of the war Greece received the islands of the Aegean excluding the Dodecanese, Southern Epirus, Macedonia, and Crete.  The national conscience was restored with these victories and nearly all the Greeks in Europe were now free.  Greece received nearly all the territory it demanded yet one prize it did not get "Northern Epirus".  Until this day Northern Epirus resides in foreign hands with Albania, the community of several hundred thousand Greeks living their never managing to make their dream of uniting with their homeland come true.

Bulgaria was not satisfied with the peace treaty and as a result Greece and Serbia joined together attacking Bulgaria in the Second Balkan War.  Though the Second Balkan War was much shorter then the first it was much more bloody and vicious..

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Directly Related:

Elefterios Venizelos Possibly the greatest Greek politician of the 20th century.  He was Prime Minister of Greece during the most trying of times.
Paulos Melas A national Greek hero who fought for the preservation of Hellenism in Macedonia in the early 20th century.


Other Greek Historic Events:  

  • Oxi "No" - Greece's response to an ultimatum by Italy  in the second world war which would have resulted in the subjugation of Greece to the Axis. Greece enters the war against the Axis powers.
  • Katoxi A sad time in modern Greek history when Greece was occupied by the Axis forces between 1941-1944.
  • Article on the Asia Minor Disaster (by the New York Times) A great disaster for Hellenism, the forced expulsion and murder of millions of Greeks in Turkey in the early 20th century.


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