Incident at Petrich
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|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|
The Incident at Petrich, or War of the Stray Dog, was a Greek–Bulgarian crisis in 1925, which resulted in a brief 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.
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Relations between Greece and Bulgaria had been strained since the early 20th century by their rivalry over the possession of Macedonia and later Western Thrace, which led to years of guerrilla warfare between rival armed groups in 1904 to 1908 (the Macedonian Struggle) and, a few years later, in the open conflict between Greece and Bulgaria during the Second Balkan War (1913) and the First World War (Macedonian front, 1916–1918).
The outcomes of the conflicts was half of the wider region of Macedonia coming under Greek control after the Balkan Wars, followed by Western Thrace after the First World War by the Treaty of Neuilly.
Most of the population in both regions was Bulgarian and so they remained targets of Bulgarian irredentism throughout the interwar period. Two organisations, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation (IMRO) and the Internal Thracian Revolutionary Organisation (ITRO), based in Bulgaria, launched raids and terrorist attacks into Greek and Yugoslav territory.
Petrich was the administrative centre of the Bulgarian-held Pirin Macedonia in which, during the early interwar years, the IMRO practically ran a state within a state. In 1923, Bulgarian Prime Minister Aleksandar Stamboliyski's policies of reconciliation with Yugoslavia threatened its existence and so IMRO played a leading role in his assassination.
There are two versions of how the incident started.
In the first version, the incident began on October 18 by a Greek soldier running after his dog, which had strayed across the border from Greece at the pass Demir Kapia on Belasitsa (Belles). It is thus sometimes referred to as the War of the Stray Dog. The border was guarded by Bulgarian sentries, one of whom shot the Greek soldier.
In the second version, the incident was caused on October 18 by Bulgarian soldiers, who crossed the Greek border, attacked a Greek outpost at Belasitsa and killed a Greek captain and a sentry.
Bulgarian and Greek reactions
Bulgaria explained that the firing had been caused by 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 as long as Bulgarian troops remained on Greek territory.
Also, the Greek dictatorship, led by General Theodoros Pangalos, issued an ultimatum to Bulgaria of 48 hours to punish those responsible, an official apology, and two million French francs as compensation for the families of the victims.
On October 22, Greece also sent soldiers into Bulgaria to occupy the town of Petrich with the objective of enforcing the 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.
Greece made it clear that it was not interested in Bulgarian territory but demanded compensation.
According to contemporary newspapers, the town of Petrich was captured, but the League of Nations sent a telegraph to both countries to order them to stop their armies just few hours before the Greeks launched their attack to Petrich.
The League ordered a ceasefire, Greek troops to withdraw from Bulgaria and Greece to pay £45,000 to Bulgaria.
Both countries accepted the decision, but Greece complained about the disparity between its treatment and Italy's treatment during the Corfu incident at 1923. There was one rule in the League for the great powers like Italy and another for the smaller powers like Greece.
The League Council sent military attaches from France, Italy and the United Kingdom to report to it when the hostilities ceased and to observe the withdrawal of the Greek troops. The attachés also decided that the Bulgarians should not reoccupy the territory until a certain time had elapsed to prevent incidents.
Greece had to pay for material and morale damage was £45,000 in compensation within two months.
Over 50 people had been killed, mostly Bulgarian civilians, before Greece complied.
- 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 978-0-8108-5565-6.
- 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. ISBN 9788187139690.
Media related to Incident at Petrich at Wikimedia Commons
- The Greek-Bulgarian crisis of 1925 (in English)