The Balkan Wars: Refugees

Figure 1.--One of the primary Greek objectives in the Balkan Wars was Thessaloniki. This image was labeled 'Thessaloniki survivors' and was taken sometime in 1912-13. As a result of the fighting, primarily in Macedonia, and ethnic clensing actions, thousands of refugeees streamed out of Macedonia and nearby areas into Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress: George Grantham Bain Collection.

The actual killing actions, burning villages, and other attrocities were only party of the stoty. The killings and destruction set in motion a flood of refugees seeking safety. Some half a million people were made refugees. Some sources describe this as people driven across newly-established borders-driven by 'rampaging' armies. This was partially true, but it was also part of alanned policy of ethnic cleahsing. Villagers and town folk throughout Macedonia were forced by the killings and threats to leave their homes abd farms. Some 112,000 people sought refugees in Bulgaria. About 50,000 were Macedonians. Some 157,000 refugees sought refuge in Greece. They were mostly Turks and Greeks and they settled in the properties of Macedonian refugees. Only about 1,000 refugees sought refuge in the Macedonian territory seized by the Serbs. We are not entirely sure yet why so few refugees fled to Serbian occupied areas. There were terrible events in many towns and villages througout the war zone. The Ottomans conquered the area (14th century) and ruled until the Balkan Wars. Just as in the Ausrian Empire, populations mixed relativly easily within the Empire. As nation states arose in the Balkans, there was both a desire to expand territory and to achieve a more ethically pure population. Thus we begin to see etnic cleansing operations. An example of what occurred during the Balkan Wars was Gorno (Upper) Brodi, a remote mountain village now known as Ano Vrontou in northern Greece, near the Bulgarian border. Before the Second Balkan Wars, Gorno Brodi had a Bulgarian majority and a Turkish minority. There were about 2,700 Bulgarian inhabitants (1873). The population was growing and reached 6,100 Bulgarian Christians (1900). The secretary of the exarch Dimitar Mishev reports that the villge Christian community was 6,480 Bulgarian exarchists and 240 Bulgarian patriarchists. It was the largest village in the mountanous area. The Macedonian National Liberation Organization (VMORO) was asctive in the area and activists desired to claim the area from the Ottoman for the state thy coveted. Gotse Delchev from another Macedonian nrionl liberation group (IMRO) visited the village (1913). At the time there were 1,100 houses and 8,000 mostly Bulgarian inhabitants. Despite the Macedonian interest, it was the Greeks ho evebntully seized the area. During the Balkan Wars, the Greek Army seized the area. The Bulgarian residents fled north to Bulgria, 200 of them wound up in Nevrokop (now Gotse Delchev) and 300 fled to Plovdiv. The population never recovered nd is now only a few hundred. The Bulgarian population were replaced by Greeks that were displaced from Anatolia and eastern Thrace during the Greco-Turkish War (1919-22). The numbers were only a fration of the previous Bulgarian population. The process of territirial expansion and ethnic cleanding would be cotinued with World war I which broke out after the Balkanss ended (1914-18). Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire fought with the Central Powers. Greece, Serbia, ad Rimania fought ith thr Allies. The whole tragic process would be continued in World War II (1939-45) and the break up of Yugoslavia (1990s).


Navigate the Children in History Websitee:
[Return to Main Balkans War page]
[Return to Main 20th century refugee page]
[Return to Main 20th century war page]
[About Us]
[Introduction] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Climatology] [Clothing] [Disease and Health] [Economics] [Freedom] [Geography] [History] [Human Nature] [Law]
[Nationalism] [Presidents] [Religion] [Royalty] [Science] [Social Class]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Children in History Home]

Created: 2:43 AM 10/22/2012
Last updated: 2:43 AM 10/22/2012