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Liberation of Thessaloniki 26 October 1912


Aug 2, 2021
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Well since it's the day,I wanted to share a part of history with you:


On the same day, Constantine received a delegation consisting of the ambassadors of the Great Powers to Thessaloniki and Ottoman general Sefik Pasha. Tahsin Pasha offered to surrender the city without a fight and in return requested that Thessaloniki's garrison could retain its weapons and retreat to Karaburnu where it was to remain until the end of the war. Constantine rejected the Ottoman appeal, demanding a complete disarmament of the Ottomans and offering to transport them to an Asia Minor port of their choosing. At 5 a.m. on 26 October, a second Ottoman delegation appealed for 5,000 weapons to be retained during the transportation, Constantine responded by giving the Ottomans a two hour ultimatum to submit to his conditions. At 11 a.m., the 7th Greek Division crossed Gallikos river, the last aquatic barrier before the city. Around the same time, Tahsin Pasha decided to given in to the Greek demands, dispatching messengers to alert Constantine about his intentions; the latter received the news at 2 p.m.[26]

The 7th Greek Division and two Evzone battalions were immediately ordered to seize the city; while Constantine sent a message to the commander of the Bulgarian division closest to Thessaloniki advising him to divert towards a direction where his troops would be more useful. At 11 p.m., Tahsin Pasha signed a document of surrender in the presence of officers Viktor Dousmanis and Ioannis Metaxas. Under the terms of the treaty Greece captured 26,000 men and seized 70 artillery pieces, 30 machine guns, 70,000 rifles and large amounts of ammunition and other military equipment.[27] Feigning ignorance of the fact that the Ottomans had already surrendered, the Bulgarian army continued to advance towards the city. Bulgarian general Georgi Todorov requested that the control of city be split between Bulgaria and Greece. Constantine refused, allowing only two Bulgarian battalions to rest within the city. The battle marked the capture of the city and its inclusion in the Greek state, helping shape the modern map of Greece. Nevertheless the Greek capture of Thessaloniki remained a significant point of tension with Bulgaria, ultimately contributing to the outbreak of the Second Balkan War.[28]


Greek troops were closing in and Salonica was in great danger. As fighting was going on in Giannitsa, the ex-Sultan in exile, Abdülhamit II, was removed from Salonica back to Istanbul for his safety (see my article on Abdülhamit II). Meanwhile, the Greeks supported the Thessaly Army from the sea. Troops were landed on the shores east of Salonica on 5 November and on the same day a Greek destroyer sunk the Ottoman warship Feth-i Bülent, which was anchored at the port of Salonica.

The town was not only blockaded, but Greek warships, including Averof, were shelling the Turkish fortifications as well. (7)

The Governor of Salonica, Nazım Bey, asked Hasan Tahsin Paşa not to fight in the suburbs in order to protect the city and its inhabitants from harm. The Turkish commander was desperate. He had only 25,000 men, encircled by more than 100,000 Greeks and Bulgarians, and he was thinking that surrender would be a better idea than futile bloodshed. An armistice was agreed by between Hasan Tahsin Paşa and Crown Prince Constantine and on November 9, troops of the Thessaly Army occupied the city without facing resistance. One thousand Turkish officers, including Hasan Tahsin himself, and 25,000 men were taken prisoner and 70 artillery guns were confiscated. Two days later, the King of Greece, George I, entered Salonica amidst the cheers of the local Christian population. Meanwhile, the Struma Corps commanded by Ali Nadir Paşa, which was supposed to prevent the Serbian forces from reaching the Aegean shores, had surrendered as well. (7)

Constantine entering Thessaloniki

When pressed by the Bulgarians to come to terms with them, Tahsin Pasha replied “I have only one Thessaloniki, which I surrendered to the Greeks”. (1)

The British reporter, Crawford Price, conveys the image of the entrance of the Greek army to the readers of the Times (3):
«The first afternoon hours had already passed when a detachment of cavalry at the head of the Evzone battalion proceeded through the streets of Thessaloniki in this way offering an opportunity to the Greek population of the Macedonian capital to demonstrate their feelings. The flags with the Turkish crescent moon disappeared as if by magic and were replaced everywhere by blue and white Greek flags. Beautiful girls on their balconies were showering the victors with rose petals until every road was covered with a carpet of flowers and the crowd was cheering continuously. So great was the crowd which had gathered before the khaki-clad soldiers that it was only with difficulty that the soldiers were able to proceed even in simple lines.”

1985  Έκδοση 2300 Χρόνια Θεσσαλονίκης (4)a.jpg

Richard Hall comments on the surrender of Tahsin Pasha: “The Ottomans sold Salonika cheaply. Although the Greek fleet cut off the city and any hopes of reinforcement by sea, the Ottomans still had significant forces in Macedonia at the time of surrender. They might have resisted for a while on the east bank of the Vardar River, which formed a significant natural obstacle. Unfortunately, they did not even destroy the railway bridge across the river. They also might have bought valuable time by extending the negotiations and exploiting the rivalry between the Bulgarians and the Greeks. These failures were the fault of the Ottoman command. Clearly Hassan Tahsin Pasha was not up to his responsibilities.” (1)

Kenan Messare: The surrender of Thessaloniki
Kenan Messare: The surrender of Thessaloniki

Tahsin Pasha was Albanian, a son in the family of Messare. He studied at the Zossimaea School of Ioannina and married a Greek woman who had converted to Islam.

He served in the Ottoman Army for 40 years, and everywhere he left the impression of an able, modest and fair commander.

He met with Eleftherios Venizelos while he was stationed on the island of Crete.

Some observers alleged that he was in touch with Venizelos while preparing to surrender Thessaloniki.

No matter what his motives were, it is clear from the turn of events that Tahsin Pasha did not want to destroy the city, or subject it to the perils of war.

He also did not cherish the thought of the Bulgarians playing a role in the new regime of Thessaloniki.

After his captivity by the Greeks, Tahsin Pasha and his son and adjutant Kenan Messare were sent with the help of Venizelos to France and later to Lausanne, in Switzerland, where Tahsin Pasha perished in 1918.


During the First Balkan War, the Ottoman garrison surrendered Salonika to the Greek Army, on 9 November [O.S. 27 October] 1912. This was a day after the feast of the city's patron saint, Saint Demetrios, which has become the date customarily celebrated as the anniversary of the city's liberation. The next day, a Bulgarian division arrived, and Bulgarian troops were allowed to enter the city in limited numbers. Although officially governed by the Greeks, the final fate of the city hung in the balance. The Austrian government proposed to make Salonika into a neutral, internationalized city similar to what Danzig was to later become; it would have had a territory of 400–460 km2 and a population of 260,000. It would be "neither Greek, Bulgarian nor Turkish, but Jewish".[9]

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