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Subjects in FocusThessaloniki from the 18th  to the 20th century

Thessaloniki from the 18th to the 20th century

Thessaloniki in the First World War
Vardaris Square at Thessaloniki
The cityscape of Thessaloniki
Travelling in Thessaloniki with N. G. Pentzikis
The inhabitants of Thessaloniki
Professions and trades
The Jews of Thessaloniki
The refugees in Thessaloniki
Entertainment in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki in the Balkan Wars
The fire of 1917 in Thessaloniki

Images on this page

Corps of Cretan gendarmes in Thessaloniki
Picture postcard with a corps of Cretan gendarmes in Thessaloniki, 1912-1913, Thessaloniki, G. Megas archive.

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Thessaloniki in the Balkan Wars

Corps of Cretan gendarmes in Thessaloniki
1912-1913, Thessaloniki, G. Megas archive

At 11:35 on the evening of 18 October 1912, just a few days after the 1st Balkan War was declared, a torpedo boat captained by Lt. Comm. Nikolaos Votsis surprised and sank the Turkish corvette "Fetih-i-Bulend" in the middle of Thessaloniki harbour. The success of this daring enterprise announced in the loudest and most dramatic fashion that the city's future would lie in Greek hands.

This prediction came true in less than a week. Late in the evening of 26 October, the feastday of the city's patron saint, Demetrios, the commander of the 8th Turkish army corps, Pasha Hassan Taxin, signed the protocol surrendering Thessaloniki to the advancing Greek army.

On the next day, a Greek detachment took possession of the Town Hall, while on 28, Constantine, the heir to the Greek throne, the General Staff and the 1st Division entered the city in triumph. At about the same time, permission was given to billet Bulgarian units in Thessaloniki.

The first months of freedom passed amidst a euphoric atmosphere characterized by flags and banners, abolition of the symbols of Ottoman domination (starting with the fez), reopening of the churches, regroupment of antiquities and the voluntary departure of many Muslim inhabitants.

At the same time, the city's economic and administrative reorganization proceeded, though Thessaloniki seemed temporarily to lose many of its commercial advantages.

Two violent episodes disrupted this atmosphere. On 5 March 1913, King George I, who had been residing in the city since 29 October, was assassinated on the Street of Towers by Alexandros Schinas of Serres. His motives were never fully clarified.

Furthermore, three months later the country entered into the murderous 2nd Balkan War. Only 24 hours after the start of the Greek-Bulgarian clashes, Thessaloniki was disturbed again by gunfire. On 17 June 1913, the refusal to surrender of the formerly allied Bulgarian detachments who were billeted in various parts of the town, led to heavy night-long street fighting with the Cretan gendarmes and units of the 2nd Division.

By 7 a.m. the following morning, the whole Bulgarian force had been captured. Although the city was to have much experience of war up until the mid-20th century, the Greeks were now indisputably in possession of it.

Macedonian Heritage
Content courtesy Ekdotike Athenon S.A.