Carnegie Endowment for International peace
Report ... to inquire into the causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars
CHAPTER VIIThe Moral and Social Consequences of the Wars and the Outlook for the Future of Macedonia
In the first war there was much of that cheerful response to the call to arms, that fearlessness and that heroism which have been sung by poets in all time, and which the world has ever approved. Centuries of oppression and suffering at the hands of the Turks, the unpromising outlook for good government in Macedonia because of hostile factions in the Turkish government, and the possibility of the alliance of Greece, Servia, and Bulgaria in what seemed a just and holy cause, were felt to fully justify the concerted movement against the Turks. The peasants who cheerfully left their homes and their families, while the government took their animals and their carts for purposes of transportation, went forth in a glow of national feeling and patriotism not unmixed with the thought of liberating their brothers in Macedonia. Though the instincts and motives which inspired them were primitive, they were nevertheless real and genuine and belonged to that class of better human traits which war is believed by many to call forth.
From first to last, in both wars, the fighting was as desperate as though extermination were the end sought. However glorious the public accounts appeared, the Turkish war and the war of the Allies constituted a ghastly chapter of horrors. Both among the regular troops as well as the irregular bands which accompanied the armies, there were many of low, criminal, and even bestial type, with no human feeling and no care for civilized standards, who were ready at all times to do atrocious deeds; and the history of the first war, however lofty in purpose it may have been, is tarnished by many burnings, slayings, and violations for which no possible excuse can be given. There is evidence to show that in some cases these acts were committed by soldiers acting under orders. It is to be feared that many a young man learned for the first time to commit acts of violence and crime not permitted in civilized warfare.
We have to do with the second war chiefly, and it is here that moral results and consequences are the most terrible. The nations which had been in alliance and had invoked the aid of Heaven in a war of deliverance suddenly awoke to fierce hatred of each other. National jealousy and bitterness, greed for territorial expansion, and mutual distrust, were sufficient to initiate and push forward the most uncalled for and brutal war of modem times. Those who fought side
by side at Tchataldja and Adrianople were now ready to kill, mutilate, and to torture each other.
To the man who sits at home, or to the casual observer, war assumes a certain glamor. It seems to be the open door to glory and renown. The Commission witnessed at Belgrade, at the close of the second war, the return of some of the crack Servian regiments and the celebration of the victories, with processions of soldiers, triumphal arches, banners, flowers, and music. The King, Crown Prince, distinguished officers and the populace all entered into the spirit of a grand holiday. Similar scenes were enacted at Sofia, Salonica, Athens, and Bucharest. It would be difficult to say which caused the greater joy,—the victories over the Turks or those over their former allies, the Bulgarians. In the speeches made on these occasions there was, we venture to say, little mention made of the fact that nearly one hundred thousand young men, more or less, were lost to the nation, either through death, wounds, sickness, or massacres. The mothers and sisters of the lost soldiers who, in mourning dress, were scattered numerously through the crowds, received, we venture to say, little public notice. Each of the three nations which fought, and Roumania, who seized an auspicious moment to steal a choice piece of her neighbor's territory and force her to sign a treaty at the point of the bayonet, posed before the world as those that had defended a righteous cause.
We also saw the demobilization of the Servian troops, for we met in our slow journey of two days from Belgrade to Uskub more than thirty military trains loaded with men, horses, oxen, carts, cannon, equipage, and, I fear, much property unlawfully taken from the homes and shops of noncombatants. Often the railway carriages were decorated with flowers or branches of trees. Now and then one could hear patriotic songs. Thus the going and returning of the soldiers was attended with patriotic ardor and joy.This is the brighter side of the picture; but it is the reverse side, so dark and sinister, which we are compelled to examine. Upon this picture only one ray of light seems to fall.
We visited the great military hospitals at Belgrade and Sofia and the smaller Greek hospital at Drama. In the midst of maimed, sore, and suffering humanity devoted women, some of them from other lands, some persons of high station—for example, the wives of the Servian minister in London and the Greek minister at Athens, both of American birth, and Queen Eleonora of Bulgaria— were ministering patiently and sympathetically, not only to those who were recovering, but to the dying as well, and in all cases there were a few, a very few, of the enemy receiving apparently the same care as the others. We heard also of instances of self denial and magnanimity on the battle field, and we wished that there had been more of them.
In considering the moral effects of the atrocities which have already been so fully described, we must take account of the sufferers as well as those guilty of committing them. When a band of soldiers or comitadjis, either under
orders or, as was many times the case, under the impulse of hatred greed and lust, surrounded and attacked a village, the very doors of Hell seemed to be opened. No language can describe the tortures and griefs which followed. Repeated instances of death by fright of girls and young children attest the horror of the orgy of crime which was enacted. In one house in Doxato, to which fifty persons had fled for safety, all but one little girl, Chrisanthe Andom, were slaughtered like beasts in the shambles. In the same town a well to do family of thirteen owned and occupied one of the best houses. After extorting ?3,000 from the head of the family on the promise that they would be spared, the Bulgarians and Turks proceeded to kill them all. These are typical instances of the many which are found in the depositions contained in the appendices. Can we estimate the moral effects of such atrocities upon the survivors? They are often stunned by the enormity of their losses. Despair is written on their faces. This was true of a Bulgarian and his wife in the village of Voinitsa. They stood beside a wretched shack in which they were trying to live, while a few meters away were the ruins of their once attractive home, which contained the savings of a lifetime, and which the Servians had destroyed. Widespread and almost universal maltreatment of women and girls by the soldiers of the three nations has left behind moral consequences which can not be estimated.
But what shall we say of the reflex influence upon the perpetrators? When before, in modern times, have troops been commanded by their officers to commit atrocities? That this was done is shown by letters of Greek soldiers captured by the Bulgarians and copies of which are to be seen in Appendix C. Greek officers on the other hand claim to have captured evidence that Bulgarian commanders were guilty of permitting and directing atrocities in Greek towns. The moral effect upon hundreds and thousands of young men, who either participated in or were cognizant of these crimes officially sanctioned, can not easily be effaced. Acting upon a people who have not obtained the stability of character found in older civilizations, the moral loss is irretrievable.
To this list of primary consequences must be added the long series of reports and instances of torturing, mutilating, and slaying of wounded soldiers collected by the Foreign Office at Belgrade, each report containing the names of the victims, the name of the person making the report, and properly attested by the commanding officer. Then there are instances of ill treatment of prisoners, especially of Turks by Bulgarians and of Bulgarians by the Servians and Greeks. No less serious were the sufferings of Turkish refugees, more than 200,000 in number, who were either driven out by the Greeks or who, from fear of the Bulgars, fled from the territories about to be occupied by them. We saw thousands of those refugees in and near Salonica, and thousands more at Drama and Kavala. They were always a pitiful sight, camping as they were on the open ground, without shelter, the children often being nearly naked, with winter approaching, and not knowing where they would find a home and safety.
They had left their farms and their crops, taking with them only some animals, which were often stolen from them, or which they were compelled to sell for a mere pittance. We saw some of them embarking on steamers for Asia Minor, where it is to be feared that many will die from hunger and exposure the coming winter. More than 135,000 Bulgarians were fugitives from territory newly occupied by the Greeks. This list includes priests, schoolmasters, and leading citizens whose interests and sympathies are known to be Bulgarian.
It is sufficient to refer to what has already been said about nationalities. There could be no more appealing picture of moral and social confusion than that of metropolitan bishops, schoolmasters, and notables who have been arrested, maltreated, and imprisoned without due process of law. If permitted to live, they were driven from their homes and compelled to leave behind the churches and schools which they had cherished, as well as the property belonging thereto or to them personally. Often they were prevented from communicating with their families before they were driven away. These supreme acts of intolerance on the part of Greece and Servia toward educational institutions, which had long been a saving grace in Macedonia, may find some defense in the militant nature of the national propaganda which priests and schoolmasters carried on; but such coercion and ill treatment employed by one set of Christians against another, all adherents of the same orthodox church, can not hope to escape the censure of the civilized world. They were fiendish, both in their conception and in their execution, and were appropriate only to the times of the Spanish Inquisition.
Statistics showing the number of Bulgarian, Servian, and Greek schools and teachers in Macedonia before the new alignment of territory are impressive, as showing Bulgarian enterprise in education, and in suggesting the vast moral and social harm which is wrought in their destruction. Here again the moral consequences are far reaching, for they affect 60,000 pupils and 1,600 teachers and strike a blow at the educational and social advancement of the communities involved. They also convict the Greeks and Servians of mal-administration and intolerance at the very beginning of their avowed work of reconstruction. Recalling that under the Turks there had been a high degree of liberty in education and worship, is it strange that large populations are now wishing that the Turks were again in control? In some respects, at least, war for the deliverance of Macedonia has brought to the people of that country a new set of sufferings and trials. The vice-rector of a Real Gymnasium in Salonica, attended and supported by Bulgarians, told one of the Commission of his own experience. After twenty years of service as director of science in that institution, during which time he had organized physical, chemical, and zoological laboratories equal, if not superior, to any others in that region, he had been compelled to see his work utterly destroyed. Standing in the street a few days before, he had witnessed the systematic looting of the entire building by soldiers and others, and the destruction of whatever was not carried away.
A daily journal called The Independent, published in Salonica, in its issue of September 4, publishes an interview with Mr. Tsirimocos, the Greek Minister of Public Instruction and Culture, in which he sets forth elaborate plans for primary and secondary education in Macedonia. No mention, however, is made of the schools which have been destroyed and of the hundreds of teachers who have been driven away or of his plans for filling their places.
Reference has already been made to the reflex psychological effect of these crimes against justice and humanity. The matter becomes serious when we think of it as something which the nations have absorbed into their very life,—a sort of virus which, through the ordinary channels of circulation, has infected the entire body politic. Here we can focus the whole matter,—the fearful economic waste, the untimely death of no small part of the population, a volume of terror and pain which can be only partially, at least, conceived and estimated, and the collective national consciousness of greater crimes than history has recorded. This is a fearful legacy to be left to future generations. If we look for palliating causes of these gross lapses from humanity and law, we must find them in the extreme youth of these nations, the immaturity of national and civic character, as well as in the conditions which have beset them during their long period of vassalage. Life was cheap; nothing was absolutely safe or sure ; deeds of injustice and violence were common facts in their daily lives; and danger of some kind or other was generally imminent. Events, however revolting, are soon forgotten by the outside world and it is in the inner consciousness of moral deterioration and in the loss of self respect that the nations will chiefly suffer.
There is one other fact, partly economic but distinctly social, which should not be overlooked. Including Turks, upward of a million and a half of men have been under arms during the past year. For those who have been demobilized and have returned to their homes and vocations there is little to be said in this connection, but to the large contingents which are kept in the service, composed mostly of young men, there is a probability of permanent harm. To be withdrawn from useful productive labor is bad enough; but life in the barracks, with much idleness in the streets of cities and large towns, is sure to be demoralizing and harmful. The Commission in its wanderings seemed everywhere to be enveloped by soldiers, who went to increase the number, already large, of those who thronged the cafes and places of amusement. War causes many kinds of human waste and this is one of them. The life of the recruits who are kept in service under present conditions in the Balkan States is unnatural and not favorable to moral growth.
The next portion of our inquiry relates to present social conditions in these countries and the future prospects for Macedonia. To what extent have Greece, Servia, and Bulgaria shown themselves competent to administer their new domains? What are the guaranties of their future growth in good government and the arts of civilized life? Each nation is working out its destiny under a
constitutional government in which the people are duly represented. While there is a certain instability caused by the number of political parties, there is the free play of popular will and opinion. Undoubtedly the most promising safeguards and the most important means of progress are found in the systems of education which the several nations have established. Each has its university, technical, secondary and primary schools, and all have taken steps to organize all of these forms of special education which are considered essential in modern times. Greece, by reason of her longer period of independence, has been able to extend and broaden her system and to connect it somewhat with the economic interests of the people. For example, she has a good number of agricultural schools distributed in her several provinces. Servia has also shown worthy attempts to make her schools of social importance through the study of agriculture and domestic economy. The fact that not more than seventeen per cent of the people of Servia can read and write indicates, however, that the system has not been efficiently applied so far as the elements of education are concerned. As one friend of the nation has expressed it, "Education in Servia is strong at the top and weak at the bottom."
Bulgaria, in her thirty-four years of independent existence, has made rapid progress in organizing an efficient school system. The reduction of illiteracy in Bulgaria has proceeded so rapidly during the last ten years that it is possible to predict that before many years the people will all substantially be able to read and write. Similar results may properly be expected in Greece. Bulgaria is considerably in advance of her neighbors in the relative number of schools and teachers provided, in the literacy of both males and females in the entire population, in the number of recruits who can read and write, and in the provision for secondary education. But the efficiency of school systems can not be judged by statistics alone; it is necessary to inquire concerning the results of education as seen in the social and economic life of the people. We may properly ask whether education has been effective in improving healthfulness, thrift and good taste as seen in .the homes; in modernizing commercial and industrial methods; and in raising standards of public health and sanitation.
In the capital cities, especially in Sofia, Athens, and to some extent Belgrade, we see well paved streets, a system of public water, partially constructed sewers, and many indications of civic enterprise. The beginnings in these directions are found also in some of the large towns; but in the villages, in which dwell the majority of the people, there is still a large amount of squalor, dirt, and confusion, which have been transmitted through the centuries with little change. There is too much complacency on the part of officials, too low a standard of human comfort and welfare among the masses. This conservatism and backwardness whereby the people cling to the methods of their ancestors, can only be overcome by more vigorous methods of social education than have yet been applied. Every schoolmaster and every schoolmistress should become a working agent for social regeneration, not only in the old sections of these States, but
especially in the new. They should not only train the children in habits oi cleanliness, health, and neatness, for which the studies in the official program make provision, but they should try to reach sympathetically and helpfully the parents as well. They should tactfully suggest better plans for making the homes convenient and comfortable, by the use of proper floors, simple but useful furniture, better provisions for health and decency, and the planting of grass, shrubbery, and trees. They should also encourage a healthy rivalry in these and other directions, so that the whole village may become interested in the idea of freeing itself from all obnoxious sights and smells, and in keeping its streets smooth and clean, so that every citizen may be proud of his home and its surroundings.
The relatively low place held by women in the Balkan States, as shown by the high rate of illiteracy of females, is emphasized when so large a proportion of the peasants are under arms and the hard labor in the fields must be performed by women, frequently without the aid of animals. Examples of loyalty and devotion thus afforded do not compensate for the physical and social loss. A people can not rise high in the social scale while women are permitted to bear the heaviest burdens and perform the hardest labor. The greatest social need in the Balkan States today is the raising of the standard of home life among the peasants and the elevation of women by education which is both cultural and practical.
The conditions in Macedonia make it necessary that broad, considerate, and helpful administrative methods be applied. Those forms of coercion, intolerance, and anti-social management, to which reference has been made already, give to Greece and Servia a bad name before the world. Nothing short of complete, generous provision for education undertaken along social and vocational lines will make amends for the evil done. The situation is serious and far from hopeful; something more than military force is needed. The Commission has met several governors, civil and military, in new Greece who, possessed of real sympathy, are endeavoring to help a distressed and long defrauded people to repair their losses and to enter hopefully upon a new era of security and peace. Any attempt to revert to former methods of national propaganda through bands of more or less irresponsible adventurers should be discountenanced and vigorously opposed. Such brigandage is worse than war, for it promotes incessant fear and insecurity and renders civilized life impossible.
In the older civilizations there is a synthesis of moral and social forces embodied in laws and institutions giving stability of character, forming public sentiment, and making for security. In some notable cases there is the re-enforcement. of the Church in its teaching of righteousness and charity and in its practice of social service. This is largely wanting in the Balkan States. The Church does not systematically teach either morals or religion; its bishops and priests are the employes of the State and they are the propagandists of nation-
ality. Conversion with them means a change from one nationality to another, whether accomplished by persuasion or force. Religious conviction or faith have nothing to do with it. As typical of the methods of conversion employed, a Bulgarian teacher from Macedonia reported that one Sunday the Servian soldiers surrounded a Bulgarian church. When the worshipers came out at the close of the service, a table stood before the door upon which were a paper and a revolver. They were to choose between these; either they were to sign the paper, signifying that they thus became Servians, or were to suffer death. They all signed. But what a travesty upon the true mission of a church and what a perversion of the idea of human government!
The Commission, from what they have seen and heard, indulge in no optimism regarding the immediate political future of Macedonia. Servia is now at war with Albania, Bulgaria is brooding over what she regards as her unjust treatment, and Greece is not yet sure of her tenure in some parts of the new territory. None of these nations can reduce their armies to a peace footing, for their neighbors are as ready to break treaties as they are to make them. Doubtless the greatest menace to the moral and social welfare of the Balkan States is the increasing tendency to militarism, whereby they become a prey to the agents of the makers of guns and other war material, involving enormous expenses and leading to national impoverishment. Where the economic interests of a people are mainly along agricultural lines and where scientific farming is not largely developed and where most of the people are relatively poor, there can be only a moderate annual surplus. If this is required to pay interest on the national debt, as well as to provide for the abnormal cost of occasional wars, national progress will be retarded and enterprise will be throttled. What the Balkan States need today more than anything else is a long period of assured peace so that industry and education may have a broader and richer development.
This suggests a final inquiry concerning the relations of the Balkan States to the new world movement for international cooperation and justice. The bearing of international law upon the conduct of war and the treatment of people and of private property by belligerents has already been discussed. It is the larger moral question which is here raised, for upon it depends the future destiny of the Balkan peoples. If the treaty of Bucharest had been in accord with fair play and justice, or if the question of boundaries could have been referred to mediation, there would have been stronger hopes that the interrelation of the Balkan nations could be improved and strengthened, that through cultural exchange, trade, and friendly intercourse these peoples would begin to learn what other nations have discovered, viz., that their interests are mutual, that in a high human sense they are one, that they injure themselves by trying to injure one another. Under present conditions, which this report has fully disclosed, the case seems well nigh hopeless; and yet, in each country, were found men and women of rank and education who expressed the most fervent
wish that hatreds and jealousies might be removed and that good will and cooperation might take their place. What then is the duty of the civilized world in the Balkans, especially of those nations who, by their location and history, are free from international entanglements? It is clear in the first place that they should cease to exploit these nations for gain. They should encourage them to make arbitration treaties and insist upon their keeping them. They should set a good example by seeking a judicial settlement of all international disputes. The consequences of the recent war, economic, moral, and social, are dreadful enough to justify any honest effort by any person or by any nation to alleviate the really distressing situation.
The recently dedicated Peace Palace at The Hague stands as a witness
to the new and larger patriotism. As in the long past individuals have
brought precious gifts to their favorite shrines, so have the nations of
the earth from the East and West brought to this temple their offerings
in varied and beautiful forms, thus pledging their belief that through
justice peace is to reign upon the earth. The Commission has performed
as well as it could a serious and trying duty. In reporting to the world
its findings it has felt obliged to use plain words, to make revelations
which are at once startling and painful; but its members feel like appealing
to the world for sympathy and aid on behalf of nations which have heavy
burdens to carry and hard lessons to learn, among which is the supreme
value of peace and good will.
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