Book Review: The Wars Of Yesterday, The Balkan Wars And Emergence Of Modern Military Conflict 1912 - 1913

Western Thrace
Sat, 2 Mar 2019 17:18 GMT
The stimulating book “The Wars of Yesterday, The Balkan Wars and Emergence of Modern Military Conflict 1912 -1913” was published this year (2018) by “Berghahn Books” (New York and Oxford). The book was edited by Katrin Boeckh and Sabine Rutar who are Seni...
Book Review: The Wars Of Yesterday, The Balkan Wars And Emergence Of Modern Military Conflict 1912 - 1913

The stimulating book “The Wars of Yesterday, The Balkan Wars and Emergence of Modern Military Conflict 1912 -1913” was published this year (2018) by “Berghahn Books” (New York and Oxford). The book was edited by Katrin Boeckh and Sabine Rutar who are Senior Researcher at the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies in Regensburg-Germany. This study consists of four parts and fifteen chapters were written by major in the field of Balkan Wars from various countries (mostly Balkans).


Hüdayi Bekir | Guest Writer

As it is known, the Balkan Wars divide into two parts. The First Balkan War started on 30 October 1912 and enden on30 May 1913. After a short period, the Second Balkan War outbreak on June 16, 1913 and lasted until August 10, 1913. What makes the Balkan Wars important is that the Wars gave rise to World War I. For this reason, Balkan Wars has a strategic position during the formation of new world order and Balkan region for sure. The effects of nationalism can be observed from not only diplomatically and geopolitical sides but also in terms of the transformation in the military. This change extended the damage of the war and exceeded harming non-military people (civilians, wounded etc.) inevietably. This study uses this perspective in its route.

Both of the editors are from the same institute as mentioned above. Katrin Boeckh focuses pn “ethnonational conflicts” and the results of these conflicts, Christianism in Socialist countries and so on. Related to this study, Boeckh has a remarkable monography called “Von den Balkankriegen zum Ersten Weltkrieg. Kleinstaatenpolitik und ethnische Selbstbestimmung auf dem Balkan” (From the Balkan Wars to the First World War. Small state politics and ethnic self-determination in the Balkans). Another editor, Sabine Rutar, works on nationalism, working class (like minors) in Southeastern Europe. On the other hand, other authors contributed from miscellaneous countries. Some of the authors located in the Balkan region like Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Macedonia, Romania but not limited to the region. We also are able to see authors from Britain, Turkey, USA, and Israel.

The book is structured like a tripod: Policy (Diplomatic and geopolitical aspects), Military (Army, soldiers, and irregulars) and Society (Civilians, wounded, invalids). In the first part, it evaluates the Balkan Wars from the perspective of diplomacy in the region. Balkan Wars have a background were frozen by the 1878 Treaty of Berlin. The Russo - Turkish War of 1877-1878 (War of the '93, named from the Islamic calendar 1293) changed equilibriums of Balkans. The Ottoman Empire lost its power and Russia became strong power on Balkans with the end of Russo - Turkish War. Treaty of Berlin froze the status quo in Balkans for thirty-five years. (Tokay, 2018) There are three sections and two of them focuses on the diplomatic issues of the Ottoman Empire and Austrian- Hungary, Germany before the Balkan Wars and the other article elucidate what happened shortly before the Balkan Wars.

The second chapter contains conflicts in the region which are both related to militaries and the attackers. From the point of Ottoman Empire, Balkan Wars were a part of longer war series and which has been called "the ten-year war period". Because wars started with Libya 1911 (Ottoman - Italian) until the end of National Struggle in 1922. Ottoman military was continuous in military conflicts, such as Yemen and other territories. The wide geography of the Ottoman Empire occurs the problem of mobilization. Secondly, without the technological developments needed manpower. The population of the Ottoman Empire is estimating on the eve of Balkan Wars twenty-six million. Nevertheless, from this population, the number of men eligible for the military is not adequate. From this point with many battlefronts the situation of the Ottoman Empire was worse. Thirdly, on the Balkan Wars guerilla forces were used and this got an advantage to the Balkan countries. Those, which are Chetniks (Serbian irregulars) and Komits (Bulgarians). These were disadvantaged for a regular army of the Ottoman Empire (Beşikçi and Timofeev 2018).

If there is an armed conflagration in a region, there are civilians, wounded and invalids naturally. In the final chapter, readers are able to gain information about this context. Mostly civilians were badly affected at the Balkan Wars. The Balkans consist diversity of nations and that causes larger damages during conflicts. The study gives us a pile of views in this chapter from civilians to actors like Red Cross or Jews attractively.


2nd Part Next Week

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