The First Balkan War in 1912, found Greece and allies Bulgaria and Serbia close to defeating the faltering Ottoman Empire in the Macedonia region.
The Greek army was marching from victory to victory in Western Macedonia. However, serious disputes between army commander and successor to the throne Constantine and Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos were simmering. Constantine wanted to conquer Monastir to the north, while Venizelos, seeing the possibility that the Bulgarian army might take over Thessaloniki, was pushing Constantine to turn towards the capital of the region, an area of strategic importance and a yearning of all Greeks.
“You will be responsible for any delay, even for one minute,” was the urgent telegraph sent by Venizelos.
The decisive victory at the Battle of Giannitsa (October 19-20) had helped the Greek army advance easily towards Thessaloniki.
Eventually, Constantine was persuaded by his father, King George I, and on October 25 the Greek army vanguard arrived outside Thessaloniki. Hasan Tahsin Pasha, the Thessaloniki ruler, could not defend his city and had no choice but to ask for a fair deal for the surrender of the city.
On October 25 the envoys asked Constantine to allow Tahsin to withdraw with his army and weapons in Karabournou and remain there until the end of the war. Constantine, of course, rejected the term and proposed the surrender of the Ottoman army and its transport in Asia Minor with the Greek government covering the expenses.
Tahsin Pasha signed the surrender protocols of Thessaloniki. At 11 in the evening of October 26, the day of the feast of Saint Dimitrios, delegates officers Ioannis Metaxas (who later became Greece’s dictator who said “No” to the Italians) and Victor Dousmanis went to the Governor of Thessaloniki to sign the protocols of the delivery of the city to the Greek army.
According to the protocol, the Ottomans surrendered 25,000 soldiers and 1,000 officers. The arsenal of the city came to the hands of the Greek army; 70 canons, 30 machine guns, 70,000 rifles and ammunition. On the morning of October 27, two battalions of Evzones entered Thessaloniki and raised the Greek flag at Government House, while the remaining Greek forces began to take positions in the hills around the city.
At 11 in the morning of October 28, 1912 Constantine entered the headquarters in Thessaloniki and at noon a celebratory thanksgiving liturgy was held in the church of Saint Minas.
On the same day, the Bulgarian troops arrived outside Thessaloniki. General Teodorov asked to enter the city to camp. He received a negative response from Constantine initially, but after negotiations two battalions were allowed to enter the city to rest.
However, there were misunderstandings and confusion that led the entire number of Bulgarian troops to enter the city. The Bulgarians declared emphatically their presence in Macedonia, thus sowing the seeds of the Second Balkan War.
On October 29 it was the turn of King George I to enter the city and to formalize the liberation of Thessaloniki. He was received with enthusiasm by Greek residents; apathy mixed with fear by the Muslims, and with disappointment by the Jews — the largest population of the city who wanted to promote the internationalization of Thessaloniki.
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