Carnegie Endowment for International peace
Report ... to inquire into the causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars
The War and the Nationalities
1. Extermination, emigration, assimilation
The reader who has perused the preceding pages and followed the endless chain of deplorable events studied and described by the Commission, has doubtless discovered the common feature which unites the Balkan nations, though it is necessary to discover that war is waged not only by the armies but by the nations themselves. The local population is divided into as many fragmentary parts as it contains nationalities, and these fight together, each being desirous to substitute itself for the others. This is why these wars are so sanguinary, why they produce so great a loss in men, and end in the annihilation of the population and the ruin of whole regions. We have repeatedly been able to show that the worst atrocities were not due to the excesses of the regular soldiery, nor can they always be laid to the charge of the volunteers, the bashi-basoitk.[This term of dismal memory has taken on an altogether fresh significance during the latest wars. A bashi-basouk is no longer necessarily a Turk. He is the volunteer, the Freischarler of all the belligerent nations without distinction; the Bulgarian comitadji, the Greek andarte; generally speaking he is any combatant not wearing the uniform of the regular.] The populations mutually slaughtered and pursued with a ferocity heightened by mutual knowledge and the old hatreds and resentments they cherished.
The first consequence of this fact is, that the object of these armed conflicts, overt or covert, clearly conceived or vaguely felt, but always and everywhere the same, was the complete extermination of an alien population. In some cases this object expressed itself in the form of an implacable and categorical "order"— to kill the whole male population of the occupied regions. We are in possession of some letters from Greek soldiers, of unimpeachable authenticity. These documents, though written in our own day, throw back to the time of the Assyrian conquest. "We have taken a small number of prisoners and them we have killed, such being the orders received * * * in order that the dirty Bulgarian race may not spring up again" * * * "We are,"—such is the order,— “to burn the villages, massacre the young, and spare none but the old people, children and minors." Here the intention is clearly to spare none but those no longer capable of carrying on the race and those still young enough to lose their nationality by receiving a Greek education.
It was the same in Turkey, as we have seen in describing the events which took place in the environments of Malgara and in Thrace generally. Men, women and children were separated, and all killed without exception. Here the testimony of the Christian Arab soldier shows that, at least in certain por-
tions of the Turkish army, when the offensive was taken, the "order" was given to proceed systematically. It would be too much to assume that the outrages committed on women were the realization of an "order."
The orders given to the Slav armies were perhaps a trifle less barbarous. It does not, however, follow that there was no intention of conquering the territory without maintaining an alien population there. "Orders of extermination" were not given, orders to the contrary were indeed given [see below]. But in private conversations the same idea is constantly met. What proves that it was not a mere mode of speaking, Is the fact that the Turkish population suffered at the hands of the Bulgarians, and the Albanian population at the hands of the Servians as well. As regards the Bulgarians, this is proved by the villages in which all the Turkish quarters were burned, and which were visited by the member of the Commission in Thrace. As to the Servians, we possess authentic evidence in the shape of a letter from a member of the Servian army, published in the Servian Socialist paper Radnitchke Novine, of October 9/22. The contents of this letter resemble only too closely the letters of the Greek soldiers. True, the reference here is to an expedition made to repress a revolt. "My dear Friend," writes the soldier, "I have no time to write to you at length, but I can tell you that appalling things are going on here. I am terrified by them, and constantly ask myself how men can be so barbarous as to commit such cruelties. It is horrible. I dare not (even if I had time, which I have not) tell you more, but I may say that Liouma (an Albanian region along the river of the same name), no longer exists. There is nothing but corpses, dust and ashes. There are villages of 100, 150, 200 houses, where there is no longer a single man, literally not one. We collect them in bodies of forty to fifty, and then we pierce them with our bayonets to the last man. Pillage is going on everywhere. The officers told the soldiers to go to Prisrend and sell the things they had stolen." The paper which published this letter adds: "Our friend tells us of things even more appalling than this (!); but they are so horrible and so heartrending that we prefer not to publish them."
The object of the Albanian expedition, referred to by the correspondent of the Radnitchke Novine, is known to have been the repression of the plans of the Albanians who had at this period revolted against the Servians. The Albanian revolt was represented by the Servians as the result of the activities of the Albanians in autonomous Albania, and at the same time of Bulgarian conspiracies. These two reasons are probable enough, but they do not exclude a third,— the state of mind of the Albanian population in subjection to Servia. This population had its own reasons for complaining of the Servian administration. The event is explained in a letter from Elbassan, published by a Bulgarian paper, (L'Echo de Bulgarie, September 28/October 11), and alleged to come "from a very reliable source." The Commission was not able to verify these statements, but there are no reasons for doubting them, in view of all that has been seen and heard:
On September 20 last (new style), the Servian army carried off all the cattle of the Malesia of Dibra. The herdsmen were compelled to defend themselves, and to struggle, but they were all killed. The Servians also killed the two chieftains of the Liouma clan, Mehmed Edem and Djafer Eleuz, and then began pillaging and burning all the villages on their way: Pechkapia, Pletza and Dochichti, in lower Dibra; Alai, Beg, Machi, Para, Oboku, Klobotchichta, and Solokitzi, in upper Dibra. In all these villages the Servians committed acts of horrible massacre and outrage on women, children and old people. In the town of Dibra itself the authorities published an order to the effect that the bazaar was not to be opened on Sunday or the inhabitants to come out of their houses on that day. Forty-eight notables were arrested. When the Servians saw that the inhabitants of the pillaged villages, of which a list has been given above, had come to reclaim their cattle and were surrounding the town, they had the notables brought out of prison and killed them in the most shameless way. Henceforth terror and despair reigned among the Albanians of Dibra and the neighborhood, and they rose in revolt. They attacked the Servians with arms, or with hatchets, stones and sticks; they killed some of them and drove the rest out of the town. Nearly all of the men who were killed were Servian officials; the soldiers who remained alive fled to the other side of the Radika river.
After this story, the truth of the general description published by the same paper on October 3/16 need not be doubted: [See also the Reichspost of September 29, and the enumeration of massacres committed in the first fortnight of September, 1913, as set forth in the petition of the meeting of Albanian representatives at Scutari on September 21, quoted above.]
The following villages, with a mixed Albanian and Bulgarian population, were pillaged and burnt—Lochnani, Lissitchani, Gitoche, Dibrichta, Harlichte, Dessovo, Gradechnitsa, Ptchelopek. Many Moslem families from these villages, including women and children, were pitilessly massacred. On entering the village of Portchassie, the regular Servian army led all the husbands outside the village, and then brought the wives thither to exact money from them in the shape of ransom, if they wanted their husbands set at liberty. After the ransom had been paid, however, the wretched men were shut up in the mosque, which was then blown up with four shells. In the village of Sulp, seventy-three Albanians suffered a horrible death, and forty-seven others from the village of Ptchelopek were basely assassinated. Was it not the Prefect of Krouchevo, when the Servian army returned from the Albanian frontier, who openly told them to burn all the villages situated between Krouchevo and Okhrida ?
Thus the Albanian petitioners, who on September 21 addressed themselves to the Great Powers in the name of the populations of Djakova, Ipek, Plava, Goussinie and the ex-vilayet of Kossovo, did not exaggerate when they stated, as regards this other theater of the revolt, that "the Servian and Montenegrin regular troops undertook and did everything, from the first day on which they
invaded the Albanian territory, either to compel the inhabitants to lose their nationality, or brutally to suppress the Shkiptar race."
Houses and whole villages reduced to ashes, unarmed and innocent populations massacred en masse, incredible acts of violence, pillage and brutality of every kind—such were the means which were employed and are still being employed by the Serbo-Montenegrin soldiery, with a view to the entire transformation of the ethnic character of regions inhabited exclusively by Albanians.
We thus arrive at the second characteristic feature of the Balkan wars, a feature which is a necessary correlative of the first. Since the population of the countries about to be occupied knew, by tradition, instinct and experience, what they had to expect from the armies of the enemy and from the neighboring countries to which these armies belonged, they did not await their arrival, but fled. Thus, generally speaking, the army of the enemy found on its way nothing but villages which were either half deserted or entirely abandoned. To execute the orders for extermination, it was only necessary to set fire to them. The population, warned by the glow from these fires, fled in all haste. There followed a veritable migration of peoples, for in Macedonia, as in Thrace, there was hardly a spot which was not, at a given moment, on the line of march of some army or other. The Commission everywhere encountered this second fact. All along the railways interminable trains of carts drawn by oxen followed one another; behind them came emigrant families and, in the neighborhood of the big towns, bodies of refugees were found encamped.
At Salonica the Commission visited one of these camps, and made inquiries of the Islamic Committee, whose business it was to transport the refugees to Anatolia. They were Turkish emigrants. Some of them had left their villages several weeks ago; they came from all parts of Macedonia, from Soundja, Djoumaya-Bala, Nevrocope, Petritche, Razlogue, Tchakova, Demir-Hissar, Osmanie, Berovo, Radovitch. At the beginning of September, when the Commission made its inquiry, about 135,000 emigrants had passed through Salonica since the beginning of the second war. Each steamer starting for Anatolia carried some 2,500 bound for Mersina, Adalia or Iskenderoum. Why were they quitting their villages ? The Commission wished to learn the reason from their own lips. Some of its members went to the camp, without taking the official guide, and entered into conversation with isolated groups of emigrants:— "Who are you, whence do you come, wherefore have you departed?"—"We have come"—the old man waved his hand to indicate the plain dotted with carts— "from twenty-six different villages. It has taken us twenty-five days to get here, and we have been here for ten. We were afraid of the Bulgarians."—"Why?" Thereupon we heard the story which the reader knows from the chapter on Thrace. "But this happened during the first war, and now?"—"Now * * * the Greeks have given us the order to go." "Whither are you going? Who is feeding you?" Silence. Nobody knows.
Fig. 19,20,21.—Refugees encamped outside Salonica
Fig. 22.—The Commission listening to refugees in the Samakov square
At the Islamic Committee one thing only was known, namely that 50 Turkish pounds a day was spent on buying bread. In the last four days, 3,000 men had had their voyage to Anatolia paid for them, and the Committee's resources were at an end. The Greek government, in spite of the promises of money and land lavished to secure the departure of all these people, was doing nothing.
In Bulgaria things were very much the same. The Commission visited various places where refugees were temporarily gathered—Djoumaya, Samakov. The government estimated that as many as 111,560 emigrants fled to Bulgaria. These refugees were divided into .38 cantons. About 50,000 of them came from the parts of Macedonia now belonging to Servia or to Greece; of these only 2,400 were repatriated. Thirty thousand came from parts of Thrace which have remained under Turkish rule. These figures were published on September 12/25 (Echo de Bulgarie). On December 22/January 4, 1914, another Bulgarian paper, the Mir, published more detailed statistics of the refugees under this latter head. Unfortunately, in the course of the events of the last two months, the number of these emigrants from Turkey rose from 30,000 to 51,427 men, women and children. This was the population of 108 abandoned villages and of 10,934 houses. Winter, which was beginning when the Commission was in Bulgaria; has since come on. We learn in the letter from Haskovo, dated October 24/November 6, that those among the emigrants who possessed carts, oxen or camels were sent after the Bulgarian army to Gumurjina, and 6,209 others had to be sent by railway. Were these all the others ? The same correspondent describes them to us as being insufficiently clad and ill-sheltered, exposed to the cold and threatened with pneumonia and with typhus, sometimes lacking bread throughout whole weeks.
While the 80,000 Bulgarian refugees are addressing their supplications to Sir Edward Grey, the telegraphic agency at Athens informs us that 100,000 others, Greeks by nationality, are fleeing from Bulgarian administration. [The Athenian correspondent of the Times gives these figures on August 21; they record the numbers passing the frontier. He himself has them from an "individual coming from Macedonia" who "gave him details on the emigration movement going on in the districts of Upper Macedonia, which the Greek troops are clearing all the time." This agrees with the information received by the Commission from the refugees themselves, at Salonica and Sofia, as to the specific character of this exodus, which was prepared and encouraged by the Greek authorities who offered carts and even motors to those who agreed to emigrate. (See below.)] Exact statistics are not available, and we are aware that reliance can not be placed on figures given by popular meetings, or by official agencies. Nevertheless, it may be believed that we are not dealing here with isolated cases, but with a real exodus; a portion of the picture to be seen throughout the Balkans. The Turks are fleeing before the Christians; the Bulgarians before the Greeks and the Turks, the Greeks and the Turks before the Bulgarians, the Albanians before the Servians; and if emigration is not so general as between the Servians and the Bulgarians, the reason is that these two nations have not, so to speak, en-
countered on their own soil, while that soil coveted by each, namely Macedonia they regarded as already peopled by men of their own race. [As this chapter is going to press, Queen Eleonora of Bulgaria speaks in the Neue Freie Presse of 60,000 refugees in Bulgaria, destitute of shelter or clothing.] That is why we have to deal here with a mitigated form of the same principle of the conflict of nationalities. The means employed by the Greek against the Bulgarian, by the Turk against the Slav, by the Servian against the Albanian, is no longer extermination or emigration; it is an indirect method which must, however, lead to the same end, that of conversion and assimilation.
One example of these forced conversions during the Balkan wars has become classic—that of the pomaks by the Bulgarians. The pomaks are a people of Bulgarian mountaineers, converted to Islamism by the Turks centuries ago. To the number of some 400,000 they inhabit the high plateaus of Northern Macedonia. The male population of the nearest villages spoke Turkish and had become entirely Mahometan; the women on the other hand continued to speak Bulgarian and remained faithful to certain Slav customs. In the more remote centers, however, among the mountains of Rhodope, or Tikveche, the pomaks remain faithful to monogamy, and to their national songs; the Slav type was even purer there since they only intermarried among themselves. Unlike the Slav aristocracy in the Balkans, they had not become subject to Islam in order to safeguard their social position. It was a peasant population, although throughout two centuries the young men had served in the Turkish army, and they still preserved its warlike and fanatical spirit. Traces of forced conversion to Islam may sometimes be perceived in certain proper names of places, such as Mehrilote or Hibili (in Eastern Rhodope). There, too, the places pointed out called in Bulgarian "Delen" or "Setchen," that is to say, the place where those were "separated," who agreed to pass over to Islam, and those massacred who refused. Unhappily the modern conqueror has revived these remote historical recollections.
To revive a consciousness of lost nationality in the minds of their kinsmen, the Bulgarians employed force and persuasion, persuasion of a type as brutal as force. The Commission is unable to cite any individual instance, but there is no reason for doubting those recorded in accounts emanating from Greek or Servian sources. The story of a witness returned from Macedonia is quoted in a despatch of August 21, transmitted by the Athenian correspondent of the Times:
The Moslems were ranged in groups. Each group was given some baptismal name, generally a name honored in the Bulgarian church or in Bulgarian history. An exarchist pope then passed from group to group and took aside each of his catechumens sui generis; and while sprinkling his forehead with holy water with one hand, with the other he compelled him to bite a sausage. The holy water represented baptism, the piece of
sausage renunciation of the Moslem faith, since the Koran forbids the eating of pork. The conversion was completed by the issue of a certificate adorned with a picture of the baptism of Jesus, the price of which varied between one and three francs. A friend who arrived today from Thrace told me that what is happening in Macedonia is also happening there. He showed me two baptismal certificates. He added that the converted were obliged to give up their fez, and the converted women to walk in the streets with their faces uncovered.
In an official report to the Sub-Prefect of Kavadar, on March 2, 1913, a petty Servian official, Mr. Drakalovits, says:
At Pechtchevo (Maleche plateau) a special committee has been formed, with the Bulgarian Sub-Prefect, Chatoyev, as its President, and among its members John Ingilisov, the director of Bulgarian schools, and the priest, Chatoyev, the brother of the Sub-Prefect. This committee was instituted to convert all the Turks of Maleche to Christianity. By order of the committee, 400 peasants of the place were armed with muskets and sticks; they attacked Turks of the neighboring villages and forcibly led them into the church at Verovo, where they were all baptized. Finally on February 17, baptism was carried out at Beloro, where there were ten Turkish families and ten Bosnian (Servian) Mahometan families. Pechtchevo alone was spared, the reason being (so we were told) that the Sub-Prefect would not allow violence in the town. A Turk from Pechtchevo told us that every Turkish house had to pay two pounds for its protection. Four Turks who could not pay such a sum hanged themselves in despair in their houses. In the other Turkish villages conversions were not exacted, because the population was too poor, whereas the Turks at Pechtchevo were known to be rich.
The Commission more than once had opportunity to discuss these conversions with the Bulgarian civil and ecclesiastical authorities. They were not denied by either, although they unanimously regarded them as an outrage on humanity and a grave political error in the case of people who were to be Bulgarian subjects. The following judgment, which is no less severe than anything written even by the enemies of Bulgaria, is commended to the attention of the reader. It is that of an intellectual, the Bulgarian writer, A. Strachimirov:
Those who stand for the thought and the honor of our country ought to know that our authorities have, in the countries on the frontier inhabited by the pomaks and recently liberated, acted in a way which is a disgrace to their country and to humanity. One aim alone was kept in sight—that of personal enrichment. Conversion was only a pretext. It did not save the poor pomaks from atrocious treatment except where the priests with whom they had to deal were conscientious men. Such cases, however, were rare. The ecclesiastical mission was beneath criticism. High rewards were paid, but the priests sent to carry out this task in the pomak villages were drunkards and criminals who could not be kept in Bulgaria. The behavior
of the police was monstrous. In Bulgaria no one has and no one can have any idea of the atrocities committed by prefects, heads of police, and priests Yet at first these pomaks showed the most absolute submission to our army. In the last two decades they had conceived a hatred for Turkism. Their principal grievance was the defective condition of their mountain roads am the burden of annual duties. They knew that this state of things had been largely remedied in Bulgaria, and they held to the idea that the Bulgarian government would at least give them roads. At Dary-deri a pomak, an officer in the reserve of the Turkish army, came before the authorities and had himself baptized because he was fired by the idea that the Bulgarians brought nothing but good with them. He was at last disillusioned, and he and his children were massacred by their neighbors.
Nevertheless the Bulgarian government is not ignorant as to the steps which should be taken to satisfy the population of the annexed region and secure their gratitude. It has itself declared in a manifesto addressed "to the inhabitants of the newly liberated region, published the day after the conclusion of the Treaty with Turkey, September 16/29, 1913,"—most formal orders are given to the Bulgarian civil and military authorities to display the greatest kindness to the inhabitants of the annexed territories, to respect their faith and their nationality, to refrain from any attack on their personal liberty, and to maintain the inviolability of their houses and their property. The citizens of new Bulgaria are to enjoy, without distinction of religion or nationality, the same rights which are secured by the constitution of the kingdom to all its citizens. Respect for religious freedom and for education is enjoined, and also respect for the religious beliefs and usages, the mosques, cemeteries and other holy places of all citizens alike.
If only these maxims could be applied today and "the tragic recollection of bloody events which have involved the contending nations and their subjects in misfortune could forever disappear in the triumph of peace, love and concord!"
As a matter of fact, an understanding between Bulgaria and Turkey, based on these fair promises, is by no means impossible. Many Turks have been under the Bulgarian regime since the origin of the kingdom; they seldom had to complain of their new masters. They were always on the side of the government. On the other hand, the principle of religious and educational liberty, although rejected by the Young Turk government, is an ancient Turkish principle, to which there would be prudence in reverting, after so many trials and defeats. The fact that very few Bulgarians are left in Turkey would facilitate such a reversion. There is thus reason for hoping that the treaty of Constantinople may bring together two governments who have no longer any ground for dispute and who might find themselves in agreement, as regards the rights of their kinsmen. A happy beginning has been made in Thrace. It is now necessary to create an efficient administrative apparatus—it is far from being in existence as yet, unfortunately—to put these excellent principles in practice.
One can not say as much, unfortunately, of the work of the treaty of
Bucharest. The lines of demarcation therein laid down are far from being natural or consonant with the national tendencies of the peoples. The third treaty of Bucharest has sown a new seed of discord in its violation of the sentiment of nationality: it divides the Balkan territories on the principle on which the treaty of Vienna divided the national regions of Europe in 1815. This historical example suggests that here, too, national reaction will follow on the work of diplomatic and political reaction.
It only remains to set
out the facts, or rather to complete the outline sketched in Chapter I,
to afford convincing proof of this. What has become of Macedonia, so often
the apple of discord, now that the work of concord appears to be completed?
It displays nothing but violence, and suggests no hope of ultimate harmony.
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