Turkish Infantry, Balkan Wars


The Italian aggression under Giolitti against the Ottoman Empire in Libia and the Dodecanese islands off southern Asia Minor in 1911 made apparent the inability of the Turkish state to defend itself, giving the signal to the Balkan states to accept Russian suggestions to exploit the political uncertainty which had followed the revolution of the Young Turks of 1908 and throw off Ottoman suzerainty in the two month First Balkan War of 1912.

The following year Bulgaria sought to pre-empt Serbian nationalism by a surprise attack on that state and Greece, but was rapidly defeated by her former allies in the Second Balkan War. Turkey seized the opportunity to retrieve lost European territory and improve its position at Bulgaria's expence with the assistance of Rumania. The jubilant Turkish troops shown above are pictured during the Second Balkan War. It was into this machiavellian context of predatory brinkmanship that Austria's provocative ultimatum of 1914 to Serbia was inserted.

World War II added ideological bitterness to the regional trauma suffered in the Great War, in turn fuelling the nationalism which contributed to the break up of Yugoslavia in the late 20th century, compounding a century of strife.

The first two Balkan Wars are also significant as having contributed to the military education of Trotsky, and thus the survival of the Bolshevik revolution.

Gernsheim `Historic Events 1839-1939' Longmans London 1960

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