Aleksandra's Note: In the beginning of the first decade of the twentieth century, the Prime Minister of Serbia began talks with the other Balkan nations of Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro. When a pro-Russian government was formed in Bulgaria in March 1911, these talks became serious and evolved into a series of secret treaties. On March 13, 1912 a pact was signed between Serbia and Bulgaria. The plan was to jointly attack the Turks as soon as it was feasible to do so. On May 29, a military convention was signed between Bulgaria and Serbia, thus formalizing their pact. Then an alliance was established between Bulgaria and Greece and on June 12 a military convention was signed between those two countries. In August of 1912 Bulgaria and Montenegro signed their mutual agreement, followed by Serbia and Montenegro signing theirs in September. A similar agreement was then signed between Greece and Montenegro. With the completion of those formal signings, the alliance of the Christian nations bordering with the Moslem Turks in the Balkans was completed. This alliance was called the "Balkan League" and its mission was to free Christian Europe from the Islamic yoke.
As becomes quite evident, many of the alliances of that time were temporary. 28 years after having been at war with each other in 1885, Serbia and Bulgaria arranged a treaty of alliance in March of 1912. They both saw in the Young Turk revolution of 1908-1909 and the Turko-Italian War of 1911-1912 the opportunity for revenge against their Turkish oppressors. That summer of 1912, tension increased steadily in the Balkans. The Ottoman Empire was in trouble. It got worse after Bulgaria dispatched a demand to the Turks on August 14 that Macedonia, which was then a Turkish province, be granted autonomy. The Turks refused to comply. The Macedonian problem would be a critical factor in the Balkan Wars, but no one at the time could have guessed just how critical a factor the Macedonian region would become in the history of the entire world.
On September 26 and 27, 1912, all the Chetnik units were ordered to cross over into the Ottoman occupied territory of Serbia and begin creating disorder amongst the Turkish military.
On September 30th the Balkan states of Bulgaria, Montenegro, Greece and Serbia, allied under the “Balkan League”, began to mobilize. With the Balkan alliances in place, the Serbian government issued a call for mobilization. The bells in all of the churches throughout the free part of Serbia chimed for all to hear. In three days, on October 5, 6, and 7 of 1912 the Serbian military concentration on the border against the Turks was completed. On October 8, tiny Montenegro declared war on the Ottoman Empire and the other Balkan allies followed on October 17th. Thus began the First Balkan War.
“Dress rehearsal”, “Precursor to WWI”, “First Phase of World War I"… Whatever descriptor you want to assign to the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, there can be no doubt that they were a harbinger of much bigger things to come...
Remembering brave Montenegro today for its fearless, and ultimately successful, defiance of the Islamic Ottoman Empire.
Crown Prince Danilo of Montenegro 1912 Balkan War Postcard
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