Carnegie Endowment for International
Report ... to inquire into the causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars
In spite of all, the Commission did not abandon its voluntary task, impeded or not. It was not stopped, and one by one accomplished the different steps of the journey, from Belgrade to Salonica, to Athens, to Constantinople, to Sofia, from Servia to Greece, to Macedonia, to Turkey, to Thrace, to Bulgaria. The investigation required five weeks.On September 28, it returned to Paris, where it was joined by the other members who had given their authorization, and here they planned together the broad lines of the report which has required nearly a year to draw up, translate and publish.
The preparation and publication of the report has cost more time and trouble than we expected, but happily what might have been a difficulty, complete harmony between all the members of the Commission proved to be a simple matter. The plan of the work once set on foot,-the historical chapter taking the place of a general introduction,-each of the members who had personally taken part in the journey, was entrusted according to his special ability with one or two chapters, under the collective responsibility of the Commission. This explains why no chapter is signed by its author, the Commission continuing up to the end to be animated by the same spirit of unity and the same ambition for truth. Each of the authors and the office of the Commission revised the proofs sent across continents at the cost of a good many complications. The
commission meeting in Paris has acted as a reading committee, and chosen the pictures, few in number, to be published, avoiding as much as possible,-though it was no easy matter,-a vulgar collection of horrors. It was not desirable, however, to eliminate these completely, and they appear in the report as specimens, often incomplete, of the illustrations published wholesale by the newspapers. The report is followed by an appendix which the Commission would gladly have made more complete. There we had hoped to publish the official communications and protestations of the Greek and Servian governments, as well as their statistics giving the numbers of the killed, wounded and lost, and the estimate of material losses. It is not our fault, if these documents do not terminate our report, but in default of governmental information, veracious and verified information has not been wanting, as will be seen. The execution of the maps both in the text and apart from it, without which many pages of our report would be difficult to read, was carried out under the direction of e geographers, Messrs. Schrader and Aitoff. The editing of the index and the typographical correction of the proofs were entrusted to the personnel of our Paris office. The main divisions of the report forced themselves on our plan: first the causes of the two wars; then the theater of operation; the actors in the drama; the medley of nationalities engaged; the inevitable violation, or rather the non-existence of an international law in the anarchy of men and of things; finally the economic and moral consequences of the two wars, and the possible prospects for the future.
Nothing could be more necessary than the first chapter on the causes of the two wars. It was the prelude and the indispensable statement of affairs, not only for those who do not know but for those who know more or less but who forget. If our report contained nothing but this full and serious expose, at once scholarly and equitable, its publication would be amply justified. We recommend those of our readers who assert that some of our members are actuated by pro-Bulgar sympathies, to read the pages in which is unfolded, from the conquest of the Turks and their taking of Constantinople, the fatality of the acts which led to the two last wars, among these acts, the outburst of folly, the unbridled militarism against the popular will. We draw attention to the aberration of the Commander-in-Chief of the Bulgar army, General Savov, who became the leader of a military party, and his monstrous outrage which calls everything into question, makes a holy war into a butchery, turns the heroes into brutes, who in short, by himself and in spite of Europe, precipitates the second war and its unknown tomorrows. This chapter seemed to me like a mirror faithfully reflecting a mass of complications, sometimes discouraging for the historian and still more so for the diplomat, but edifying for whoever attempts to protect his country from adventurers. One sees clearly in it the fundamental distinction which we never cease making, between the war of ration and the war of conquest, between patriotism and crime.
The second chapter is both painful and absorbing. Here we shall be reproached for not taking sides. Here we ought to have said to each of the belligerents following the example of their press: "All the wrong is on the other side. The glory is entirely yours, the shame belongs only to the others."
There is to be seen what must be thought of these official classifications which pretend, in this horrible confusion where "God himself would not recognize his own," to assemble all the good under the same flag and all the bad under another. There is to be seen how the war kindled by intrigue, begins with the generosity of youth, to terminate without distinction of race, in the unloosing of the human beast. It is useless to dwell upon these massacres which we can not pass over in silence. I do not know whether an ideal war has ever existed, but it is time that the world should know what war really means. All the poet-laureates, the ephemeral glorifiers of these infamies whose authors we are commanded not only to absolve but to admire, and to hold up as examples to our children, all the crowd of officious writers are there to counterbalance our report, and to praise what we are determined to denounce in the interests of nations which require to be enlightened in regard to themselves.
Chapter III is not less lamentable, less harrowing, or less necessary, just because it will be more disagreeable to those who do not wish the truth to be known. Here the Greeks and the Bulgarians are no longer alone on the scene, the Turks and the Servians show what they can do. Here again, the Bulgarians are not spared more than the others; but the others have their share too. They will protest, they will reflect, and their reflections will do them more good than lying eulogy.
Chapter IV again holds up the mirror to an inextricable situation which must nevertheless be understood. Under the title "The War and the Nationalities," it discloses an excess of horrors that we can scarcely realize in our systematized countries, war carried on not only by armies but by mobilized gangs, and in reality by the medley of nations; local populations being "divided into as many fragments as there are nations fighting each other and wanting to substitute one for another. * * * This is the reason why so much blood was spilt in these wars. The worst atrocities were not due to the regular soldiers. * * * The populations themselves killed each other." Whoever wishes to judge of the evil and to look for more than the appearance of a remedy should meditate over this fourth chapter, and study the maps before forming too severe a judgment upon these competitions of horrors, and condemning as culprits peoples who turn and turn about, for centuries past have been crushed down.
Chapter V, "The War and International Law," is not less impartial than the preceding. Its conclusion is this: Every clause in international law relative to war on land and to the treatment of the wounded, has been violated by all the belligerents, including the Roumanian army, which was not properly speak-
ing belligerent. Public opinion has made great progress on this question of late years. I confess that in my ardent participation in the two Hague Conferences, the conventions fixing the laws and customs of war, interested me infinitely less than those organizing arbitration, mediation and good will, which tended in fact to prevent war, and not to humanize it. To humanize war seemed to me then a hypocrisy and a satire, leading to its being too easily accepted, but since then I have recognized my error. War is not declared by those who carry it on. The armies are only instruments in the hands of the governments; and these armies are recruited among the youth of each country. We at least owe to them to spare them sufferings which they have not brought upon themselves. To refuse to humanize war for fear of making it too frequent, is to let the weight of the governments' fault fall upon the soldier. In short, whatever amelioration diplomatic conferences can bring about in the horrors of war, it could never be enough. The torture of criminals is now suppressed. Should it exist-and what torture!-for soldiers and for hostile populations?The Commission has done its duty in contending that in spite of the Hague Conventions, the cruelty and ferocity and the worst outrages remained in the Balkans, the direct heritage of slavery and war.
Chapter V suggests as a subject worthy of the deliberations of the Third Hague Conference, the constitution of a permanent international commission, named in advance, and empowered in case of war to go and observe the application of its resolutions which the belligerents themselves have signed. This innovation, precisely because it would have too much reason for existence, will run a great risk of being considered indiscreet. It deserves more than to be passed over from prejudice.
We shall make a pause at Chapter VI. In an atmosphere of high and serene impartiality, the author contemplates the economic consequences of the war, and he concludes that in spite of appearances, it has been, apart from evil actions, because he does not desire to injure anyone, a bad and evil thing for every one, with the exception of course of the contractors who supplied the arms and ammunition, and the makers of wooden legs. Greece herself who is said to have made the maximum of possible gains, with the minimum of losses, because she was relatively far from the theater of war, even Greece has seen her national debt doubled. It is true that she will be able to retrieve her sacrifices by the new resources which she will draw from the islands and territories that are now part of her domain, but this is just where the question arises for her, as well as for all conquerors, even the happiest: Will the resources of which she assures herself, suffice to meet not only the expenses of the land improvement which her statesmen are unquestionably able to undertake, but also the military expenditure corresponding to her new ambitions? Here is Greece involved more deeply than she expected in the construction of armaments, competing with Italy, exposed in her turn to the temptation, to the
fascination of dreadnoughts. For this hundreds of millions of capital will have to be borrowed, taxes imposed to pay the contributors, to say nothing of the always increasing cost of maintenance and consequent temptations, because a young nation whatever the wisdom of its rulers may be, will not easily resign itself to let its armaments, on land and sea become, as they do, old fashioned in a very few years, without having made use of them; it will not let its men of war lie at anchor and its soldiers remain idle in barracks. What will happen then? Greece, the beautiful, will in her turn, be torn between the militarists on the one side who proclaim their patriotism at every opportunity by means of their journals and the voices of their impatient orators, and, on the other side by the party in favor of industry, of progress, seeing itself discredited while the sources of national riches are drained, and social revolt is engendered. * * * Greece is now going to discover how much it costs to abandon herself to the luxury of dreadnoughts. She is as yet only at the beginning. As to the other allies, and the Turks, we shall refrain from insisting upon their losses, which were very much greater, than those of Greece, or upon the dangers that threaten their future. These are only too apparent.
The moral consequences
of the Balkan wars are briefly indicated in the chapter which completes
the report. In it may be found the long reverberation of the many crimes
as disastrous for their authors as for their victims and their respective
countries. We are shown millions of human beings systematically degraded
by their own doing, corrupted by their own violence. It gives us a good
example of the evil which elsewhere we strive to denounce and to combat,
by showing us how the generations of tomorrow are corrupted by the heritage
of their forefathers, and the young men taken from the necessary and urgent
work of the farm and the workshop to be placed in the comparative idleness
of barracks, to wait for the next war. All these apprehensions for the
future are expressed without the slightest trace of animosity against one
or other of these unhappy and misguided nations, but rather with a feeling
of profound sympathy for them and for humanity. The conclusion of the chapter
evolves itself definitely: violence carries its own punishment with it
and something very different from armed force will be needed to establish
order and peace in the Balkans.
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