The Balkan Wars: British consular reports from Macedonia in the final years of the Ottoman Empire
Edited by Bejtullah Destani and Robert Elsie
I.B. Tauris in association with
the Centre for Albanian Studies, London 2014
xv + 290 pp.
The Ottoman Empire — the great power which had ruled much of southeastern Europe and the Middle East for over five centuries — was manifestly in decline by 1912. Its fall from power had been gradual, but by the early years of the twentieth century, the collapse of the mighty world that had once stretched to the very gates of Vienna seemed increasingly inevitable. New Balkan states - Serbia, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Greece - combined forces in the First Balkan War (1912-1913) to bring about its downfall. But with victory in their grasp, they were soon at one another's throats.
Nowhere was the chaos caused by the two Balkan Wars more evident and more horrific than in Macedonia. Advancing and retreating armies wrought untold destruction on the country and, with the breakdown of law and order, armed gangs robbed and terrorized the civilian population.
This volume contains 83 selected and edited consular dispatches and reports sent to the Foreign Office in London (mainly to the Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey) focusing on events in Macedonia during the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 and thereafter. Compiled for the most part by Charles Greig, British Vice-Consul in Monastir (now known as Bitola), they reveal the extent of human suffering in the southern Balkan region in the years prior to World War I. It was Greig's endeavour, among others, to point out the injustices being done to the Muslim population in and around Monastir by the victorious Christian forces and population groups. His reports, and those of the other consular officials, provide much insight into the realities of the Balkan conflagration as it affected the Monastir region.
As a first-hand, on-the-spot account, this is an invaluable source for historians of twentieth-century Europe, the lead-up to World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire.