Population movements during Greece’s ‘decade of war’, 1912–22
Population movements during Greece’s ‘decade of war’
From imperial dreams to the refugee
problem: population movements during
Greece’s ‘decade of war’, 1912–22
The twentiethcentury came to be known as the century of the refugee,
with the Great War marking the beginning of decades of forced human
mobility.1 Nevertheless, especially as far as the Balkans are concerned,
population mobility had started much earlier. By the nineteenth century,
with the prospect of a diffusing discourse of nationalism and an Ottoman
Refugees in the Austrian part of the Habsburg Empire during the First World War
‘Cities of barracks’: refugees in the Austrian
part of the Habsburg Empire during the First
The unprecedented mass displacement of civilians during the First World
War represents a crucial component of the seminal catastrophe of the
twentiethcentury. All belligerent nations confronted issues generated
by large population movements. However, while enemy aggression and
the loss of territory were the primary factors causing refugees to flee, at
the same time, the multinational Habsburg Empire forcibly evacuated
its own nationals
This book talks about the mass displacement of civilians, estimated to be 14 to 15 million, in the twentieth-century Europe during the First World War. It looks at the causes and consequences of the refugee crisis and its aftermath, and the attempts to understand its significance. Key sites of displacement extended from Belgium to Armenia, taking in France, Italy, Austria-Hungary, East Prussia, the Russian Empire, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey and Serbia. The German army's occupation of Belgium, France, Poland and Lithuania prompted the mass flight of refugees, as did Russia's invasion of East Prussia in 1914. Jewish, Ruthenian and Polish civilians in the Habsburg Empire fled their homes or were deported by the military to distant locations. Following Italy's attack on Austria-Hungary in May 1915, the Habsburg authorities ordered around 100,000 Slovenian subjects of the empire to leave. The Austrian and Bulgarian invasion of Serbia brought about a humanitarian catastrophe as civilians and the remnants of the Serbian army sought safety elsewhere. However, mass flight of civilian refugees did not begin in 1914 nor did it come to an end in 1918. Muslim refugees fled to the relative safety of Anatolia in order to escape violent persecution by Bulgarian and other forces during the Balkan Wars on 1912-13. There were complex movements of population between Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey before 1914. The complex process of repatriation and resettlement affected soldiers and civilians alike and rarely took place in stable or peaceful circumstances.
The English writer and critic John Berger regarded the twentiethcentury
as ‘the century of departure, of migration, of exodus, of disappearance:
the century of people helplessly seeing others, who were close to them,
disappear over the horizon’.1 Berger’s characterisation of ‘helplessness’
invites us to consider not only how people were rendered liable to sudden
and involuntary displacement, but also how those processes were represented at the time and subsequently. Global conflicts, revolutions and
civil wars have
also be seen in the context of the
literature on summit diplomacy, that is, multilateral or bilateral meetings
between international leaders. 90
The Paris Peace Conference of 1919, attended by David Lloyd George, Georges
Clemenceau and Woodrow Wilson, was the first summit conference of the
twentiethcentury, and during the Second World War the ‘Big
Three’ conclaves between Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill helped to
Harold Wilson and Lyndon B. Johnson: a ‘special relationship’?
The following present an essentially negative
picture of the personal relationship between Wilson and Johnson: Dickie,
‘Special’ No More; Sylvia Ellis, ‘Lyndon B.
Johnson, Harold Wilson and the Vietnam War: a not-so special
relationship?’, in Jonathan Hollowell (ed.), TwentiethCentury
Anglo-American Relations (London: Palgrave, 2001), pp.
180–204; Ritchie Ovendale
Refugee communities and the state in France, 1914–18
bypass the state because
of its failures to adequately organise aid, and thus undermined their
attachment to the wartime national community. Such an interpretation,
however, belies the central role that local identities and solidarities played
within concepts of citizenship in early twentieth-century France.
Traditionally, the French Third Republic has been viewed as a centralising, Jacobin state, as characterised by Eugen Weber in his influential
argument that after 1870 urban France ‘colonised’ the provinces using
institutions such as the army and the primary school
cleansing during the twentiethcentury, the Balkan Wars
led to considerable loss of life and to the forced resettlement of population groups.42 The Balkan Wars and the decade of political rearrangements that followed highlighted the figure of the refugee as an object of
persecution by military troops and administrative authorities and the
symbol of territorial contestation, whose life had been disrupted and who
was expected to resettle, often with little assistance.
The pattern of constant resettlement in the course of several years is
nicely illustrated in an account
Refugees and state building in Lithuania and Courland, 1914–21
Ruzeckas (ed.), Lietuva
Didžiajame kare [Lithuania during the Great War ] (Vilnius: Wydawnictwo
Vilniaus Žodis, 1939), pp. 259–67.
v 61 v
19 Lipschitz, Jews of Kurland.
20 Lietuvos ūkininkas, 3 July 1915, p. 162; Daina Bleiere, History of Latvia: the
TwentiethCentury (Riga: Jumava, 2006), pp. 76–7.
21 ‘Musų pabėgėliai’ [Our refugees], Lietuvos žinios, 18 February 1915.
22 Nemakščia, Ras. apskr. [‘Nemakščia, Raseiniai district’], Lietuvos žinios, 25
23 ‘Musų pabėgėliai’, Lietuvos žinios, 8 March 1915.
24 ‘Lietuvių neatsargumas
to organise an impressive degree of social protection for refugees,
to exemplify sacrifice and to demonstrate that Ukrainian public opinion was
sympathetic towards refugees from a different ethnic background.
The agreements between the Ukrainian party and Austrian-Hungarian,
German, Polish and Russian representations concerning refugee repatriation became the forerunner of international regulation of the new
humanitarian problem after the end of the First World War. These agreements were amongst the first to be agreed in the twentiethcentury. Many
of those who