Documents Relating to Chapter III
REPORT ADDRESSED TO THE COMMANDER OF THE KEHLIBAROV RESERVE ON THE CHARGES MADE
BY THE LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH
To the Commander Kehlibarov Reserve,
Military Magistrate at Adrianople.
The staff office of the army sends you herewith a copy of an article which appeared in an English newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, and requests you to prepare a documentary report on the matter in order to make the truth public.
In obedience to the above order, I submit the following report upon the questions at issue.
I. I entered Adrianople with the first detachments of the infantry, the twenty-third and the fifty-third, on the day that the fortress was captured, and I was immediately nominated military magistrate. I held this position until the recapture of the city by the Turks. I was therefore enabled to judge of the situation, and to know of nearly all the important events that occurred in the city and the environs, as well as the affairs that came under my personal and official notice.
II. The Turkish prisoners were taken to the island of Sarai because there were no barracks, some having been burned by the Turks, and others being infected with cholera. The Turkish officers were quartered in the one or two available ones that remained.
During the first two days the proper quantity of bread could not be given to the prisoners because even our own soldiers were on short rations. In spite of this a quarter of the portion of bread served to each Bulgarian soldier was deducted and distributed to the Turkish prisoners. Two days later a sufficient quantity of bread arrived, and thereafter equal portions were served to our soldiers and to the prisoners. The latter were never subjected to any cruelty.
III. It is true that a certain number of Turkish and Jewish houses were pillaged, but not by our soldiers. The local Greek population alone are to be blamed for these crimes. I was able to see this and to verify it personally many times from the moment of my arrival in the city. Later on, when order was reestablished in the city, numerous complaints of offences committed by the Greeks, such as the looting of houses, incendiarism, pillage and so on, were addressed to me in my official capacity by the Turkish population.
I took out more than twenty actions on such complaints. These facts may be verified by examining the papers in the office of the public prosecutor or those on my own shelves.
There is also the sacking of the mosques. For this the Greeks, who had a frenzy for looting, must again be blamed. It was the Greeks who murdered thirteen Turks in one of the mosques of the city. A number of Greeks attempted to pillage the aforesaid mosque and the neighboring Turkish house. The Turks wished to prevent them, and seeing that they were threatened fired upon the assailants, killing one Greek and wounding others. The rest of the Greeks took flight and informed a patrol that the Turks were barricaded within the mosque; that they were firing upon the passers-by; and that they intended to blow up the whole quarter with dynamite. The Bulgarian soldiers urged the Turks to open the door and to give themselves up, and upon their refusal, fired upon them. Several Turks fell and several soldiers were wounded. But the Greeks, greedy for plunder, were the sole cause of the incident. Thanks to their falsehoods, they caused the death of one of their own number.
The carpets and the books of the mosque of the Sultan Selim were never scattered. They were guarded by a sentinel and everything was replaced as it had been originally.
IV. In regard to the Turkish officer who was killed, the truth has been equally distorted. This officer was neither wounded nor sick nor escorted by a soldier. He was hiding in a house and was discovered, and when he was being taken to the guard house he tried to escape and hide in the crowd. He was captured by another soldier, upon whom he drew his revolver, but had not time to shoot before he was himself shot by his captor and fell dead. No Jew interceded for him. The officer had resisted with force. The proof is the revolver drawn from his pocket.
As to the pillage of the jeweler's shop, it is an invention pure and simple. There is no such shop in Adrianople. All the shops which sell more or less precious articles are in the Marche d'Ali-Pacha, which was guarded by sentinels from the moment the city was captured. Nor is it true that other shops were pillaged by our soldiers. The truth is, that the Greek population, knowing of the rich Turkish houses, misled our patrols by telling them that suspect persons were hiding in such and such houses, where they also were concealing fire arms, and when our soldiers went to investigate, the Greeks thrust themselves in too, and either looted whatever they could lay their hands upon then and there, or else waited till the soldiers had gone and then stole at their leisure. The Turks. themselves will, if need be, confirm all that I assert. As to the commander of the garrison, I must admit that he was most attentive to everybody and particularly, even a little too-much so, to the Turks. None of the assertions made by the newspaper are true. I never left the garrison, and I was aware of everything that happened.
The account of the incident with the Greek Metropolitan of Adrianople is a shameful lie. It was not the commander of the garrison who was arrogant and insolent, but the bishop himself. I was in the office of the aide de camp when the Greek bishop came to make the application for the See of Kavala. He entered and without waiting to be asked, seated himself in an easy chair. He crossed his legs, and without making known the object of his visit began to smoke. He would only speak on general topics, where he went every day and how polite and amiable all the people were to him. He was none the less the leading spirit of the association that bad for its object the buying of arms and the inciting of the Greek population to rebellion. , But let the facts speak: First, arms were found hidden in a Greek church. The vicar of the church declared that rifles were being procured with which to arm the local Greek population, and that the bishop knew of it. Second, a manifesto coming from the above named association, an incitement of the Greek population to rebellion against the Bulgarian authorities was signed. Third, the Greek head schoolmaster, Gilo, was arrested, in the midst of inciting the Greeks and above all.
the Turkish prisoners at Bosnakony, to rise against the Bulgarians, assuring them that they had a sufficient number of rifles and even guns. Fourth, the same Gilo, the Metropolitan, and Dr. Courtidis, formed a committee of which we know all the members, the place of meeting and the decisions taken. No steps were taken by us in this matter, first, because the commander of the garrison and the deputy of the governor opposed it, and second, because it was on the eve of the recapture of Adrianople by the Turks, and there was not sufficient time.
This committee organized a plot against the commander of the garrison,
and the authors of the attempt were arrested with revolvers in their hands.
took a public action on this account. For details of this, also, public
documents may be consulted.
All of these facts, and many others of which the Daily Telegraph does not speak, may be corroborated by public documents, and by various other proofs.
I hand in my report a little late, because I only received the order on October 23, in the evening.
Order No. 3 to the garrison at Adrianople.
Adrianople, March 15, 1913.
That one quarter of the rations of bread allotted to each soldier of the companies within the garrison and of the eastern section, be deducted, today and on March 16 and 17, and sent each day at ten a.m. to the office of the commandant in the north of the city, between the bridge of Toundja and the military depots, and allotted to the prisoners.
THE MILETITS PAPERS
1. On the Treatment of the Turkish Prisoners During the First Months Subsequent to the Taking of the Town of Adrianople
The whole of what has been said up to now, by persons whose impartiality is more than dubious, about the bad treatment to which the Turkish prisoners were subjected after the taking of Adrianople, is a tissue of revolting calumnies. The documents appended afford proof of the care taken by the military authorities for the maintenance of the prisoners both in the way of food and sanitary provision, and this despite the deplorable conditions, both as regards administration and sanitation, in which our troops found themselves on their entry into Adrianople, thanks to the fact that the Turkish authorities had destroyed all means of subsistence and primary necessaries in the town. As Appendix I shows, the vanguard of the garrison in Adrianople immediately on the entry into the town gave orders that a quarter of the bread rations of every Bulgarian trooper should be deducted for the benefit of the prisoners. It is true that the prisoners suffered from hunger during the two days immediately following the fall of the town. But the Bulgarian
soldiery were in the same case, most of them having got rid of their bread at the moment of the final assault. Those who had kept it shared it fraternally on their entry with the famishing population. Everybody was, in fact, in the same position, a position which could not immediately be remedied because they, the Turks, had destroyed the railway bridge over the Arda, which made the work of the commissariat infinitely more difficult.
The behavior of our soldiers to their Turkish fellows was beyond reproach. The very fact of victory filled the Bulgarian soldiery with generosity towards the adversary of overnight. From the day of the capture the Bulgarian soldiers mingled with the prisoners, fraternized with them and held friendly converse.
To avoid the spread of cholera and other epidemics, it was decided to bivouac the Bulgarian troops as well as the prisoners outside of the town. A sufficient number of tents could not be furnished either for the prisoners or the troops. Nevertheless, twelve sanitary tents were put up in the island of Sarai, and reserved strictly for the prisoners. All the captive Turkish doctors were retained exclusively for attendance on the prisoners. Moreover, the necessary precautions were taken for disinfection, to prevent the spread of the disease which carried off numerous victims every day among the prisoners, who were already enfeebled by the privations they had endured during the siege. An edict of March 29, issued by the head of the garrison, enumerated measures to be taken to prevent the spread of cholera among the prisoners, who were thereby ordered to receive a daily ration of 1 loaf, 100 grammes of rice and 200 grammes of meat, the same as that of the Bulgarian soldiers.
2. Housebreaking, Robbery and Pillage, Attributed to the Bulgarian Soldiery in the Town of Adrianople
It is a fact that a number of thefts by way of housebreaking and pillage did take place in the days immediately preceding and following the capture of the town, but all of these, almost without exception, are attributable to the Jewish and above all, to the Greek population. They set to work from the night of March 12, when it was obvious to everyone that the fall of the town was imminent. Pillage on the part of Greeks and Jews went on all over the town, even while our troops were effecting entry and they had to intervene to drive off the marauders with blows of the whip and flat of their swords. The Turks who had had to look on despairingly while their goods were pillaged hailed the assistance of the Bulgarian soldiers. The pillagers did not only plunder private houses; they sacked public buildings as well. Cherif-bey, director of public property, describes how the Greeks broke the doors of his house and carried off the furniture. The government offices, he says, were treated in the same way; part of their furniture being discovered later in the warehouses of the following business firms:—Moses Levi Patchavradji, the German bank, the Bank of Salonica, Avram Baruch, Toledo, Toledo-Rodrigue, Gustav Tschinare, Moses Ovaliche, and others. The firms in question stated that all the objects thus found had been purchased by them from Greeks and from some Armenians. A quantity of stolen goods were bought from a certain Djavid Ousta, son of one of the Russian consul's domestics, by the firm of Salomon Menahem. The whole of the furniture of the Turkish military club and the goods of several Turkish notables were afterwards discovered in the hands of Greeks in the vicinity. During the earliest days of the occupation hundreds of complaints were lodged by Turks, who knew the Greeks by whom they had been pillaged. Many dared not give names for fear of reprisals. The Bulgarian troops touched nothing in the mosques. The library of the Sultan Selim mosque was found to have been ransacked. This again was the work of the population, which knew its value and the desirable specimens existing there. There was a persistent rumor current to the effect that the "Selimie"
Koran, an object of great price, both on account of its antiquity and the richness of its gold binding, was in the possession of the Russian consul.
However that may be, order was restored with praiseworthy celerity on the entry of the Bulgarian troops, despite the fighting that was still going on in the southern and northwestern sections. A series of orders was issued from time to time, which aimed at establishing the fullest measure of public security and ameliorating the prisoners' lot. An order from headquarters permitted nearly half the prisoners at Adrianople to return to their homes as new citizens of the Bulgarian crown, without distinction of nationality.
An order of March 17, o. s., No. 6, issued by the head of the garrison for the amelioration of the lot of the remaining prisoners, ordered that 3,000 prisoners should be dispatched to the interior daily. Another order of March 21, o. s., enjoined the officer in charge of the prisoners to distribute a certain number of them in the villages immediately adjacent to Adrianople, Bosna-Keui, Anir-Keui, Emirii and Tatar-Keui. Other orders issued from headquarters on March 17, o. s.. No. 65, and on March 20, No. 121, and that issued by the head of the Adrianople garrison on March 29, o. s., show the consideration devoted to the case of the Turkish prisoners.
At the entry of the Bulgarian troops there were in Adrianople, over and above the prisoners, more than 25,000 Turkish peasants who had taken refuge there before the investment began. Throughout the whole period they were provided with food. A special commission was set up under the presidency of a superior officer and composed of two officials, an officer and two Turkish notables, one being the mufti of Adrianople, to restore the Turkish refugees to their villages, reestablish them in their houses, and supply the most necessitous with means to start work again on their fields. Since the Greeks used to attack Turkish refugees on their return to their homes in order to plunder them and theirs, guards of three or four soldiers were posted in every village to protect the Turks against Greek aggression. These steps were carried out and the mufti more than once expressed to our authorities the gratitude for their care felt by the Mussulman population. And yet, when the Turkish troops crossed the frontier and advanced on Adrianople and Mustapha Pasha, the first act of Turks and Greeks was to massacre most of the guards set for their protection who had not succeeded in beating a retreat. Most of the Turkish officials found in Adrianople at the taking of the town were removed with their families and those of the officers by land and sea to Constantinople. As they got on board they thanked the representatives of the Bulgarian authorities, with tears in their eyes, for the attentions they had received. These people are living and could, if needed, confirm what has been said above.
3. Alleged Excesses Committed by the Bulgarian Troops at the Evacuation of Adrianople
The allegations made by certain interested persons as to the cruelty exercised towards prisoners and population by the Bulgarian troops on evacuating Adrianople are so many revolting inventions. When the Turkish army from Tchataldja and Boulair advanced towards Adrianople, the prisoners were divided into bodies of 1,000-2,000 strong, and dispatched to the interior of Bulgaria, each body being under the convoy of twenty or thirty veterans of the territorial army. To say that the prisoners were ill-treafed, or still worse, massacred en masse on the way, is absolutely false. The very size of the escort would make such a statement hardly admissible.
4. Alleged Execution of Forty-live Greeks Who Are Said to Have Carried off Sacks of Flour from the Depot Because They Were "Dying of Starvation"
The truth about this incident, which has been grossly exaggerated by unscrupulous persons, is as follows:
On July 7, o. s., when it appeared that the Turkish troops must be near at hand, the Greeks of Karagatch, aided by those of the village of Bosna-Keui, armed themselves and took to pillage, thereby causing a fearful panic among the population. They butchered five soldiers belonging to the Territorials and some twenty Turkish prisoners working at the station. These men, who are described as "dying of starvation," profiting by the panic they had aroused, next threw themselves on the provision and clothes depots and regularly pillaged them). The sentinels on guard at the depots did no more than their duty in firing here and there on the insatiable robbers.
As to the corpses of these same Greeks, said to have been drawn up from the Maritza, the truth is as follows: The prison in Adrianople was filled with more than 262 criminals, most of whom were Greeks, 100 having been incarcerated for acts of murder against Turks and some fifty for robbery, incendiarism and outrages. On the night of July 7-8, o. s., the prisoners confined in one of the cells in an upper story, facing east upon the main street, succeeded in sawing through the bars of one of the windows, whence thirty-two made their escape by means of a belt. But when they reached the Yanak-KichIa bridge and found it guarded, the prisoners, to the number of twelve, seeing themselves threatened by a patrol coming up from behind, threw themselves into the Toundja in the hopes of swimming across. The soldiers opened fire on the fugitives and succeeded in killing them. These are the bodies seen in the Toundja.
5. Alleged Ill-Treatment Endured by the Greek Bishop of Adrianople at the Hands of the Head of the Garrison
According to information prior to the outbreak of hostilities, a committee really existed in Adrianople, in the time of the Turks, whose object was to use every available means to-secure the closing of Bulgarian schools and churches in Thrace and to Hellenize the inhabitants. The Greek bishop of Adrianople, the chairman of this committee, was in constant touch with the Greek patriarchate and the Athenian government, which supplied him with the necessary resources for pursuing the end in view. The committee's activity continued after Thrace had been conquered by our troops. It began to agitate for the autonomy of Thrace and the expulsion of the Bulgarians. Arms were distributed to the Greek population through its instrumentality and attacks made on the representatives of constituted authority. An emissary of the Athenian government, George Pouridi, was at this time at Adrianople, where he cooperated with the bishop to stir the committee to activity. On May 21, o. s., when General Savov happened to be in the Greek bishopric making a speech on the birthday of King George, Pouridi succeeded in getting out of prison and making his way to the bishopric and the room where Savov was with the intention of assassinating him. He was arrested by the chief of the guard and sent back to prison. Three attempts, of the same kind, on the life of the head of the garrison were made by Greeks, who were in each case arrested in the act of putting their design into execution. In spite of repeated demands, the Greeks never willingly handed over the arms in their possession. In the course of domiciliary visitations to houses and churches, considerable quantities of arms were discovered, abandoned by the Turks and gathered up by the Greeks. At times of most serious crisis, the telegraphic lines between Adrianople and the front were cut. The culprits—again Greeks—were arrested and delivered over to justice.
It was in view of facts like this that the head of the garrison at Adrianople was ordered to entreat the Greek bishop of the town to use his influence with his flock to induce them to behave as citizens and respect the established order, failing which the bishop himself should be held responsible for any infringement of public order which might be imputed to the Greek community. The order was carried out simply and fully as it was given. The whole story of a violent scene between the bishop and the com-
mandant is a piece of pure fantasy, as is that of the assassination of a Turkish officer and an Israelite by a soldier in the main street.
Finally what has been said above of the orders issued by the chief of
the garrison of Adrianople alone gives some idea of the pains taken to
insure order and security in, the town and its environs. On the other hand,
the papers of the examining magistrates and military procurators permit
one to state that an inquiry was opened on every crime committed; in every
case the guilty persons were arrested and condemned, irrespective of nationality,
by regularly constituted tribunals, whose sentences were strictly in accordance
with established law. The result of all this could but be excellent. Exemplary
order was established without delay, and all the citizens without distinction
of nationality enjoyed full liberty. Confirmation of this fact is afforded
by a number of foreigners of distinction who came to Adrianople, among
them an Englishman, Brigadier General R. G. Broadwood, who visited the
town shortly after it was taken, and whose statements. are not open to
doubt. The recognition by impartial persons of a state of affairs so praiseworthy
could not but excite the animosity of our adversaries who left no stone
unturned in the endeavor to deceive public opinion, and traduce the name
of Bulgaria. It may moreover not he superfluous to remark that the secretaries
of most of the foreign consulates at Adrianople, including the Russian,
are Greeks, who had always been used by the Greek bishop to prejudice the
Bulgarian cause in the eyes of their respective governments, and defend
the criminal activities of their Greek compatriots. This fact casts a curious
light upon reports issued by the secretaries of certain foreign consulates
at Adrianople, who carefully refrained from avowing their real nationality,
hidden beneath the cloak of their representation of foreign Powers.
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