Incident at Petrich
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The Incident at Petrich, or the War of the Stray Dog, was a Greek–Bulgarian crisis in 1925, in which there was a short invasion of Bulgaria by Greece near the border town of Petrich, after the killing of a Greek captain and a sentry by Bulgarian soldiers. The incident ended after a decision of the League of Nations.
|War of the Stray Dog|
Demir Kapia, where original incident took place
|Commanders and leaders|
|Aleksandar Tsankov||Theodoros Pangalos|
|10,000 Soldiers||20,000 Soldiers|
|Casualties and losses|
|unknown but small||unknown but small|
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The relations between Greece and Bulgaria had been strained since the start of the 20th century, with their mutual rivalry over possession of Macedonia and later Western Thrace. This had led to years of guerrilla warfare between rival armed groups in 1904–08 (cf. Macedonian Struggle), and a few years later in the open conflict between the two states in the Second Balkan War (1913) and again in the First World War (Macedonian front, 1916–18). The outcome of these conflicts was that half of the wider region of Macedonia came under Greek control after the Balkan Wars, followed by Western Thrace after the First World War, through the Treaty of Neuilly.
The majority of the population in the two regions was Bulgarian and it remained a target of Bulgarian irredentism throughout the interwar period, with two organizations, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) and the Internal Thracian Revolutionary Organisation (ITRO), based in Bulgarian territory and launching raids and terrorist attacks into Greek and Yugoslav territory. Petrich was the administrative center of the Bulgarian-held Pirin Macedonia, where in the early interwar years the IMRO practically ran a state within a state: in 1923, when the Bulgarian prime minister Aleksandar Stamboliyski's policies of reconciliation with Yugoslavia threatened its existence, IMRO played a leading role in his assassination.
There are two versions of how the incident started.
1) In the first version, the incident began on October 18, when a Greek soldier ran after his dog, which had strayed across the border from Greece at the pass Demir Kapia on Belasitsa (Belles); thus, it is sometimes referred to as the War of the Stray Dog. The border was guarded by Bulgarian sentries, and one of them shot the Greek soldier.
2) In the second version, the Greco-Bulgarian frontier incident was caused when, on October 18, Bulgarian soldiers crossed the Greek border, attacked a Greek outpost at Belasitsa and killed a Greek captain and a sentry.
Bulgarian and Greek reactionEdit
Bulgaria explained that the firing was due to a misunderstanding and expressed its regret. In addition, the Bulgarian Government proposed the formation of a mixed commission of Greek and Bulgarian officers to investigate the incident, but the Greek Government declined it as long as Bulgarian troops remained in Greek territory.
Greece in its ultimatum demanded:
- The punishment of those responsible.
- An official apology.
- Two million French francs, as compensation for the families of the victims.
In addition, on October 22, Greece sent soldiers into Bulgaria to occupy the town of Petrich with the objective of enforcing the Greek demands.
Fighting between Greek and Bulgarian forces started and Bulgaria appealed to the League of Nations to intervene in the dispute. Some chetas of Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), together with the sentries, organised defence lines against the Greeks near Petrich. Volunteers and war veterans from the whole region were summoned to join the resistance. On the other side Greece made it clear that it was not interested in Bulgarian territory, but demanded compensation.
According to the newspapers of that time the town of Petrich was captured, but in fact the League of Nations sent a telegraph to both countries ordering them to stop their armies just few hours before Greeks launched their attack to Petrich.
The League ordered:
- Greek troops should withdraw from Bulgaria
- Greece should pay £45,000 to Bulgaria.
Both countries accepted the decision, although Greece complained about the disparity between its treatment and that of Italy in the Corfu incident at 1923, since the decision showed that there were two different rules in the League, one for the Great Powers, like Italy, and another for the smaller, like Greece.
The League Council sent military attaches from France, Italy and the United Kingdom to report to it when the hostilities have ceased and to observe the withdrawal of the Greek troops. The attaches also decided that the Bulgarians should not re-occupy the territory until a certain time had elapsed in order to prevent the incidents which would occur if the Bulgarian troops began their advance too soon.
The compensation that Greece had to pay for material and morale damage was £45,000 and should pay them in two months. Over 50 people were killed before Greece complied, mostly Bulgarian civilians.
- Elaine Thomopoulos, The History of Greece, The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations, ABC-CLIO, 2011, ISBN 0313375127, p. 110.
- "LATEST CABLES". The Western Star and Roma Advertiser. Toowoomba, Qld.: National Library of Australia. 24 October 1925. p. 2. Retrieved 26 June 2013. "Greece. and Bulgaria have clashed, following a frontier incident, where a Greek captain and a sentry were shot dead at an outpost."
- "TROUBLE ON GREEK FRONTIER". The Northern Standard. Darwin, NT: National Library of Australia. 23 October 1925. p. 3. Retrieved 26 June 2013. "After attacking the Greek outpost and shooting the two men, the Bulgarians hoisted the white flag. They explained that the firing was due to a misunderstanding."
- "BULGARIA EXPLAINS". The Barrier Miner. Broken Hill, NSW: National Library of Australia. 22 October 1925. p. 1. Retrieved 26 June 2013. " The Greco-Bulgarian frontier incident was caused by Bulgarian regulars attacking a Greek outpost at Belesh and shooting dead a sentry and a captain."
- Dimitar Bechev (2009). Historical dictionary of the Republic of Macedonia. Scarecrow Press. p. 100. ISBN 0-8108-5565-8.
- Mark Biondich (2011). The Balkans: Revolution, War, and Political Violence Since 1878. Oxford University Press. pp. 112–114. ISBN 978-0-19-929905-8.
- Stupid History: Tales of Stupidity, Strangeness, and Mythconceptions Through the Ages Leland Gregory, Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2009, ISBN 0740792105, p. 255.
- Just Curious About History, Jeeves, Erin Barrett, Jack Mingo, Simon and Schuster, 2010,ISBN 0743462955, p. 78.
- Andros Odyssey: Liberation: (1900-1940) Stavros Boinodiris, iUniverse, 2010, ISBN 1440193851, p. 177.
- "Ο ΔΟΛΟΦΟΝΙΚΟΣ ΑΙΦΝΗΔΙΑΣΜΟΣ ΤΩΝ ΒΟΥΛΓΑΡΩΝ ΜΕΤΑ 24ΩΡΟΝ ΣΥΜΠΛΟΚΗΝ ΟΙ ΒΟΥΛΓΑΡΟΙ ΕΣΤΑΜΑΤΗΣΑΝ ΤΟ ΠΥΡ ΚΑΙ ΥΨΩΣΑΝ ΛΕΥΚΗ ΣΗΜΑΙΑ". ΕΜΠΡΟΣ. National Library of Greece. 21 October 1925. p. 1.
- "BULGARIA EXPLAINS". The Barrier Miner. Broken Hill, NSW: National Library of Australia. 22 October 1925. p. 1. Retrieved 27 June 2013. "He says that subsequently Bulgaria hοisted the white flag and explained that the firing was due to a misunderstanding. The Greek Government, however, despite the Bulgarian expressions of regret and explanations, is determined to throw full light on the incident."
- "GREEKS AND BULGARS". The Argus. Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 24 October 1925. p. 35. Retrieved 27 June 2013. "The Greek Prime Minister (General Pangalos) has refused the Bulgarian proposal to form a commission of inquiry into the frontier incident at Petrich while Bulgarian troops remain in Greek territory."
- "MORE FIGHTING". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 24 October 1925. p. 15. Retrieved 27 June 2013. "The Bulgarian Government proposed the formation of a mixed commission of Greek and Bulgarian officers to investigate the incident on the spot, but this was declined by the Greek Government."
- "LATEST CABLES". The Western Star and Roma Advertiser. Toowoomba, Qld.: National Library of Australia. 24 October 1925. p. 2. Retrieved 26 June 2013."the Greek Government has issued an ultimatum to Bulgaria giving a time limit 48 hours,"
- "LATEST CABLES". The Western Star and Roma Advertiser. Toowoomba, Qld.: National Library of Australia. 24 October 1925. p. 2. Retrieved 26 June 2013."the punishment of those responsible."
- "LATEST CABLES". The Western Star and Roma Advertiser. Toowoomba, Qld.: National Library of Australia. 24 October 1925. p. 2. Retrieved 26 June 2013."...an expression of regret,..."
- "LATEST CABLES". The Western Star and Roma Advertiser. Toowoomba, Qld.: National Library of Australia. 24 October 1925. p. 2. Retrieved 26 June 2013."...an indemnity of two million French francs,..."
- "BULGARIA EXPLAINS". The Barrier Miner. Broken Hill, NSW: National Library of Australia. 22 October 1925. p. 1. Retrieved 26 June 2013. "...compensation for the relatives of the killed."
- "BULGARIA EXPLAINS". The Barrier Miner. Broken Hill, NSW: National Library of Australia. 22 October 1925. p. 1. Retrieved 26 June 2013. "According to an Athens telegram the Government has decided to order the Greek troops to advance into Bulgaria and to occupy the town of Petrich, the headquarters of the Macedonian-Bulgarian committee, with the object of enforcing the Greek demands for satisfaction for a violation of Greek territory,..."
- "PETRICH NOW CAPTURED". The Barrier Miner. Broken Hill, NSW: National Library of Australia. 24 October 1925. p. 1. Retrieved 14 July 2013. "The Greek troops have attained their objective, Petrich. The Greek military operations are now regarded as ended."
- "PETRICH NOW CAPTURED". The Barrier Miner. Broken Hill, NSW: National Library of Australia. 24 October 1925. p. 1. Retrieved 14 July 2013. "Reuter's Athens correspondent from Salonika says: "The town of Petrich is officially reported captured by the Greeks.""
- "Week End Comment". Singapore Free Press. Singapore. 26 October 1925. p. 8. "...Petrich has been captured by the Greeks, to "learn the Bulgars" to be more careful."
- United Nations for the Classroom. p. 15."He also urged them to give immediate instructions to their armies until the League Council should meet. The telegraph arrived in Athens, the capital of Greece, only a few hours before the Greek army was due to attack the town of Petrich."
- Dorothy V. Jones, Toward a Just World: The Critical Years in the Search for International Justice, University of Chicago Press, 2013, ISBN 022611581X, p. 63.
- James Barros, The Greek-Bulgarian Incident of 1925: The League of Nations and the Great Powers; Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 108, No. 4 (Aug. 27, 1964), pp. 354-385.
- Dimitar Bechev, Historical Dictionary of North Macedonia, Historical Dictionaries of Europe. Rowman & Littlefield, 2019, ISBN 1538119625, p. XXX (introduction).
- Fellows, Nick (September 2012). History for the IB Diploma: Peacemaking, Peacekeeping: International Relations 1918-36. Cambridge University Press. p. 132. ISBN 978-1107613911.
- Nasu, Hitoshi (February 2009). International Law on Peacekeeping: A Study of Article 40 of the Un Charter. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers / Brill Academic. p. 51. ISBN 978-9004172265.
- Raghunath, Rai. History. p. 351.
Media related to Incident at Petrich at Wikimedia Commons
- The Greek-Bulgarian crisis of 1925 (in English)