Balkan War

Balkan War
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The Fall of Thessaloniki

Let's listen to Salih Bozok's own words, where and how Mustafa Kemal got the news of the fall of Thessaloniki:

One of the days when he returned from Tripoli and was waiting for a ferry in Alexandria, a Greek girl he had met in Thessaloniki recognized him.

-“Oh… Mr. Kemal, are you here?”

-“Yes…I will stay in Alexandria for a few days.”

"Won't you have a glass of my liquor?"

Mustafa Kemal is already upset about the events. He has no acquaintances in Alexandria. He did not see a reason for rejecting the invitation of the Greek girl. While they were talking from the river and the hill, the Greek girl once said to Mustafa Kemal:

-“Well… Mr. Kemal… Finally, 'ours' took Thessaloniki, huh? Mustafa Kemal was surprised:

-“Which Thessaloniki?”

As long as the Tripoli War continued, Mustafa Kemal could not receive any news from his homeland Thessaloniki, and he did not know until that time that Thessaloniki had fallen into enemy hands.

Mustafa Kemal, as if waking from a deep sleep, stood up shaking:

-"What did you say? Is Thessaloniki occupied?”

And without even waiting for her to answer, he left the table face down, slammed the door in the girl's face like a slap, and left the house with a snap of his spurs. one

How did you quit? That Beautiful Thessaloniki

The officers in Africa and Major Mustafa Kemal also returned to their homeland as fugitives and found the enemy armies on the threshold of Istanbul.

How painful it was for Mustafa Kemal. Macedonia and Thessaloniki, the matchless Macedonia and Thessaloniki, where he was born and so attached, where he grew up in the sounds of its streams and the greenery of its rich lands, and whose songs still ring in his ears, had passed into the hands of the enemy. On his return from Tripoli, he met a few of his fellow soldiers at the Meserret cafe on Babıali street. He reluctantly went to them without even saying hello. Speaking of Thessaloniki:

"How did you leave? How did you hand over that beautiful Thessaloniki to the enemy? Especially so cheap!” He was saying.

In his opinion Thessaloniki could be defended. He knew that such a disaster would come, he wanted his fellow soldiers to leave politics and prepare for him. If he had really worked as he wished, Rumeli would not have been lost. 2

If They Had Listened To Mustafa Kemal, The Balkan Disaster Would Have Been Averted

Mustafa Kemal is, above all, a self-confident man. Whatever work he has seen failing since he was a child, he stepped forward and said, 'I will do it'.

This is how he got the class sergeant at school, he was appointed as the group commander in Çanakkale, and he entered the War of Independence with this belief.

We have also learned about Mustafa Kemal's work to prevent the Balkan disaster with this aspect. Mustafa Kemal prepared defense plans while he was the Chief of Staff of the Redif Second Thessaloniki Division, to which he was appointed on 13 January 1910. These plans showed how the country would be defended if the Balkans united among themselves and one day attacked the Ottomans. Mustafa Kemal traveled all the armies in Rumeli alone to examine this work. He considered the requirements of mountains, streams and places of military importance; He had prepared these plans by carefully calculating everything.

According to the memories of Asım Us 3 , one night at Atatürk's table, the Balkan defeat is in question. They ask:

“Was the Balkan debacle an inevitable disaster? Was there no way out of this defeat?” Atatürk replied and Asım Us noted word for word:

“I was in Tripoli when the Balkan War started. If I had been at any point in Rumelia while I was not there, that Balkan debacle would not have happened. Because while we were in Thessaloniki Corps, we were thinking about the possibility of the Small Balkan states to unite and make an attack together. I had worked on the defense plans to be followed up and implemented in case of such a possibility.

One day, while working on the maps of these defense plans, Talat Pasha and Hacı Adil Bey, who was then the General Secretary of the Committee of Union and Progress, entered. They came to visit the Corps Commander. That's why they remembered me. After the greetings, Talat Pasha asked me the following as a joke:

-'Kemal Bey, you are very busy, what are you busy with?' Showing the maps in front of me:

-'These are the Rumelia Defense plan. I said, 'It is our military preparations in case the Small Balkan States unite and make an attack together' one day. Mr. Talat:

'I am not a soldier. I don't understand military stuff like this. But who will implement these defense plans you show?' asked. I point to myself with my hand:

I said 'I will do it'. Talat Bey did not speak more on this subject, he kept silent. Basically, they just stopped by me to get hearts and memories. They said goodbye and left. Later I learned that my words about defending Rumelia was very strange to Talat Bey. After leaving my room, on their way to Hacı Adil Bey:

-'Did you see our madman?' said."

This memory told by Atatürk is one of the many examples of his foresight. History has answered Talat Pasha's judgment about Mustafa Kemal. Mustafa Kemal had foreseen the future. He predicted that one day the small Balkan States would come to an agreement and unite to attack the Ottomans. For this, he prepared the necessary defense plans. He also saw himself as the only man to implement it.

Talat Pasha was one of the leaders of those who did not take the necessary precautions against the Balkan unification, thus causing the Balkan disaster, and then participating in the First World War and causing the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. And this adventure was insane. 4

1 Niyazi Ahmet Banoğlu, Nükte ve Fıkralarla Atatürk, Cilt I, İstanbul 1967, s. 58.

2 Falih Rıfkı, Babamız Atatürk, 2. Baskı, Doğan Kardeş Matbaacılık, İstanbul 1966, s. 36-37.

3 Asım Us, (1884–1967), Gazeteci, Milletvekili. 1917 yılında Ahmet 4 Niyazi Banoğlu birlikte Vakit gazetesini çıkarmışlardır.

4 Sadi Borak, Bilinmeyen Yönleriyle Atatürk, İstanbul 1966, s. 15-16.

Source: Atatürk’ten Gençliğe Unutulmaz Anılar, Ahmet Gürel, Mayıs 2009  

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