The Balkan Wars 1912-1913

Cyril Falls describes how, from the problems left by the Balkan Wars, sprang the greater catastrophe that overwhelmed Europe in 1914.

The prodromes to the fierce and bloody struggle in the Balkans, eventually involving Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Montenegro, Albania, and Rumania, were complex. Neither Slavs nor Greeks had ever been reconciled to the settlement that emerged from the Congress of Berlin in 1878, leaving Macedonia in Turkish hands. The annexation of Bosnia and Hercegovina by Austria in 1908 may be likened to bellows blowing on smouldering coals.

For a moment the Young Turk movement seemed to promise better things, but that hope soon faded. Had Turkey even granted Macedonia an administration there might have been no war, but this she obstinately refused to do, the result being the formation of the Balkan League between Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Montenegro.

The statesman who, rather than any other, brought it about was the Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, who took over the departments of the Army and Navy, the latter a vital asset since none of his allies possessed one. The troops on both sides were first-class fighting men, able to face almost incredible exposure on short rations.

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