Balkan Peace

"For 12 years, from 1911 to 1923, Turkey was constantly at war: first, with the Italians in Tripoli and North Africa, 1911; next, with rebelling provinces in the Balkans, 1912; then Turkey was involved in the great world war, 1914; and finally fought in a continuing struggle with the Greeks for the possession of Smyrna and Asia Minor, 1919-1923. During these twelve long years Turkey and the Turks were not officially at peace for even one day. The elimination of about 4,000,000 members of the old Christian races from Asia Minor, about 1,500,000 Armenians and 2,500,000 Greeks, was a double incident of those struggles. The culmination was a Turkey for the Turks; many of their co-nationals trekked back from the periphery provinces where they had been domiciled, and resettled in Asia Minor, the Turkish heartland. Indeed, the Turkish domain was still of imperial proportions, larger in area than Germany and, according to the best information I have been able to assemble with much careful study for many years, was richer in natural resources than Germany.

When peace came, Mustapha Kemal Pasha and his associate officers began without delay a most astonishing series of reform measures. Almost more astonishing still was the fact that they confined their efforts to their own country and people and refrained from interfering in the affairs of other countries and governments, once a Turkey for the Turks was agreed to all round. The Turks manifested wonderful wisdom in stopping when they were done. They were ruthless toward the Christians of Asia Minor, but they let alien people go with the provinces which they inhabited."

[From: George E. White's "Adventuring With Anatolia College", p. 187 (Herald-Register Publishing Company, Grinnell, Iowa, March 1940)]

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"Soldiers and common people after a fight are sometimes ready to forgive, forget, and be friendly again before diplomats and theorists will accept such sweeping changes. The trend of Balkan events prepared the way by 1930 for the organization of a league among these six small powers which was commonly understood to be formed and promoted chiefly by Mr. Venizelos and Mustapha Kemal Pasha, representing respectively the Greeks and the Turks, and including besides these peoples: Albanians, Bulgarians, Yugoslavs, and Rumanians. The first two peoples were naturally secular enemies, but they had come to realize that they were to live as independent neighbors, and it would be better for both if they lived in neighborly fashion rather than as angry enemies. The other four peoples agreed to cooperate in a Balkan league, the first meeting of which was held in Athens in 1930, and they formed a pact of good will and mutual friendliness. The results of the Great War were essentially accepted. The common people did not want to fight.

Six little boys on a play field often will get on very well with one another if the big boys will only let them alone. In 1931, a second meeting of the League was held in Constantinople; a third in 1932 in Bucharest, capital of Rumania; and in 1933, Thessaloniki, a central commercial city but not a Balkan capital city, was chosen as the place of the meeting. The Balkan League was rather loosely organized, and perhaps was the better for not attempting too much offhand. I hoped to have an opportunity of attending some of the sessions of that meeting of the Balkan League, but the meeting was postponed until after I had left for America."

[From: George E. White's "Adventuring With Anatolia College", p. 189 (Herald-Register Publishing Company, Grinnell, Iowa, March 1940)]

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