balkan states

Romanians have usually insisted on their direct connections to the Western world (not even via Central Europe) and on their missionary role as outposts of  Latinism and civilization among a sea of (Slavic and Turkic) barbarians. While covering the Eastern front during World War I, John Reed reported from Bucharest: “If you want to infuriate a Romanian, you need only to speak of his country as a Balkan state. ‘Balkan!’ he cries. 'Balkan! Romania is not a Balkan state. How dare you confuse us with half-savage Greeks or Slavs! We are Latins.“ This had not always been the case. Even throughout the 19th century, with the rise of "Romanianism” and its emancipation from Hellenism, as well as the purification of its strongly Slavic vocabulary, apartness was not the obsession of the Romanian idea. Reading the travelers’ accounts of a dozen Romanians… one is struck by how much as home they feel when they cross the Danube; their travelogues were written by insiders with an intuitive grasp for situations, behaviours, and words. The idea of uniqueness and complete separateness, the 'cultural Narcissism’ often encountered within 'small cultures’ [which] is the counterpart to the officially entertained isolationism was a later phenomenon, intensified to its extremes after World War I.
—  Imaning the Balkans, Maria Todorova

Map of military movements during the First Balkan War.

The First Balkan War, which lasted from October 1912 to May 1913, comprised actions of the Balkan League (Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro) against the Ottoman Empire. The combined armies of the Balkan states overcame the numerically inferior and strategically disadvantaged Ottoman armies and achieved rapid success.  As a result of the war, the allies captured and partitioned almost all remaining European territories of the Ottoman Empire. Ensuing events also led to the creation of an independent Albanian state. Despite its success, Bulgaria was dissatisfied over the division of the spoils in Macedonia, which provoked the start of the Second Balkan War.

Greece, Idomeni : Children walk through a field near a makeshift camp near the Greek village of Idomeni at the Greek-Macedonian border, on March 4, 2016, where thousands of migrants and refugees are stranded.
As the diplomatic efforts went into high gear ahead of a March 7 summit between the EU and Turkey, the human misery along the Greek-Macedonia border worsened after a night of driving rain and plummeting temperatures. The humanitarian crisis is particularly acute at the Idomeni crossing where around 12,000 people are stranded after Austria and the Balkan states imposed a cap on entries, triggering a rapidly-growing buildup in Greece.
AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI                        

Greece, Idomeni :  A child coughs as migrants and refugees run away after Macedonian police fired tear gas at hundreds of Iraqi and Syrian migrants who tried to break through the Greek border fence in Idomeni, on February 29, 2016.
Greek police said more than 6,000 people were massed at the border, in a buildup triggered by Austria and Balkan states capping the numbers of migrants entering their territory. / AFP / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI                        

4

Gallipoli

The Gallipoli Campaign took place on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey, from 25 April 1915 to 9 January 1916, during the First World War.

By 1915 the Western Front was clearly deadlocked. Allied strategy was under scrutiny, with strong arguments mounted for an offensive through the Balkans or even a landing on Germany’s Baltic coast, instead of more costly attacks in France and Belgium.These ideas were initially sidelined, but in early 1915 the Russians found themselves threatened by the Turks in the Caucasus and appealed for some relief. 

The British decided to mount a naval expedition to bombard and take the Gallipoli Peninsula on the western shore of the Dardanelles, with Constantinople as its objective. By capturing Constantinople, the British hoped to link up with the Russians, knock Turkey out of the war and possibly persuade the Balkan states to join the Allies.The naval attack began on 19 February. Bad weather caused delays and the attack was abandoned after three battleships had been sunk and three others damaged. Military assistance was required, but by the time troops began to land on 25 April, the Turks had had ample time to prepare adequate fortifications and the defending armies were now six times larger than when the campaign began.

Against determined opposition, Australian and New Zealand troops won a bridgehead at ‘Anzac Cove’ on the Aegean side of the peninsula. The British, meanwhile, tried to land at five points around Cape Helles, but established footholds in only three before asking for reinforcements. Thereafter little progress was made, and the Turks took advantage of the British halt to bring as many troops as possible onto the peninsula.

Amid sweltering and disease-ridden conditions, the deadlock dragged on into the summer.  Churchill who championed the Gallipoli Campaign eventually lost his rather pretentious but oh so British title of “First Lord of the Admiralty” due to the failure of Gallipoli. Combinations of bad leadership, planning and luck, combined with a shortage of shells and inadequate equipment, condemned the Allies to seek a conclusion in the bloody battles of the Western Front. 

For the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp (ANZAC), it was their first time fighting for their own countries, in their own Army, and in their own uniforms. They fought under the “leadership” of the British Empire but experienced a comradeship in battle and bloodshed that solidified their identify as separate Nations. Australia had only achieved self governance via Federalization in 1901.  

(I promise this is the second last post I will do on ANZACs, other than a few pictures here and there. I can’t help it, I am an Aussie.)