The economic and social aspects of the 1912-1913 Balkan Wars

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Mirosław Dymarski


At the dawn of the XXth century the Balkan countries were intent on waging war against Turkey. In the preparation period, however, they had severely exceeded their economic and demographic capabilities. The arms production consumed vast amounts of money, leading to an extraordinary debt of the Balkan states. The 1912-1913 wars have proved to be a veritable ordeal for the economies of the involved countries as well as their social endurance. This great sacrifice was supposed to further the national goal of defeating Turkey and finally establishing the inter-state borders, even in the face of an impending economic collapse. The Balkan conflicts turned into a war of attrition, a harbinger of what was to come during the World War I. The pre-war efforts and the cost of the actual warfare brought Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, Montenegro as well as Turkey to the brink of economical breakdown and major social turbulence. The calling of 1.3 million men to arms resulted in halting the industrial production and an agricultural crisis in the countries of the Balkan Alliance. The civilian transport sector was non-existent (since all the means and assets had been requisitioned by the military) which proved fatal to the commerce. This in turn greatly diminished the states’ tax income, further worsening the financial repercussions of the war. The number of soldiers fallen, wounded or killed by cholera were reaching hundreds of thousands. Due to the harsh war conditions and the lack of suitable attention many of the wounded have become disabled, which banned them from the work market and doomed them to social benefits. Amongst the consequences of the war were also migrations of the civilians, forced by the war itself and the following border changes. The Christian refugees alone numbered hundreds of thousands, while any real means of administering to the basic needs of the displaced masses were actually non-existent. On the Muslim side the losses amounted to 620,000 Turkish soldiers and civilians. A further 440,000 have been displaced and moved to Anatolia. Moreover the pillage, the atrocity, as well as the destruction of private property have engraved the feelings of mutual hatred and longing for a vendetta in the minds of the Balkan people.


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Dymarski, M. (2012). The economic and social aspects of the 1912-1913 Balkan Wars. Balcanica Posnaniensia. Acta Et Studia, 19, 221-230.