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Subjects in FocusRailways in Modern Macedonia

Railways in Modern Macedonia

The ambitious Baron Hirsch
The railway line Thessaloniki-Skopje-Mitrovitsa
The Thessaloniki-Monastir railway line
The Thessaloniki-Constantinople railway line
Changes of the railway network
The railway personnel
Locomotives and rolling stock
Forgotten railway stations
The trains in the war
The Thessaloniki of trams and trains

Images on this page

Welcoming the Greek army at Thessaloniki station
Picture postcard with the occupation of Thessaloniki railway station in order to welcome the Greek army, 1912, Thessaloniki, G. Megas archive.

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The trains in the war

Welcoming the Greek army at Thessaloniki station
1912, Thessaloniki, G. Megas archive

In the 19th century, the most regular passenger on the Macedonian railways was the Turkish army. The trains transported thousands of conscripts and reserves whenever the circumstances required, sometimes against the Greeks, sometimes against the Bulgarians or the Serbs, but also in order to put down the frequent Albanian uprisings.

During the years of the Macedonian Struggle, 1904-1908, the safe transport of arms, ammunition and above all messages gave a distinct advantage to the Greek side, which had several patriots among the ranks of the railway staff. Conversely, for the revolutionary Bulgarian committees, the army trains posed a serious threat, which they repeatedly tried to defuse by exploiting the sabotage skills of certain pro-Bulgarian railway workers.

But the trains of Macedonia knew their greatest military glory during the First World War. Balkan, European and colonial soldiers flooded the waiting rooms and the elderly cars. As one traveller wrote in Thessaloniki station: "Two peasant women with enormous bundles and countless children are sitting on the floor waiting for some train to depart, though it is quite possible that it may not move out till tomorrow. Some enraged 'comitadjis' is conversing loudly with an Italian policeman in a completely different language. The former is boasting that for some unusual reason he has managed to avoid military service -- a difficult feat in the Balkans where if an able-bodied man does not serve in one country, it is almost certain he will be called up by another. An elderly ragged shepherd with an untreated sheepskin hanging loosely from his shoulders is leaning thoughtfully on his crook. Some well-to-do citizens and a few Greek officers getting ready to board for Athens pass into the waiting room, while amidst all this hotchpotch a small detachment of black Algerian soldiers with blue great coats and helmets marches in under the orders of an energetic lieutenant.".

Macedonian Heritage
Content courtesy Ekdotike Athenon S.A.