Destruction of the Thracian Bulgarians in 1913

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Ethnic map of the Balkans in the end of 19th century, Histoire Et Géographie, Atlas Général Vidal-Lablache, Librairie Armand Colin, Paris, 1898.
Ethnic map of the Adrianople Thrace in 1912 according to academician Lyubomir Miletich. The areas with Bulgarian majority coloured in green, Turkish - in red, Greek - in brown.
Balkan Wars boundaries.

The destruction of the Thracian Bulgarians in 1913 (in Bulgarian "Разорението на тракийските българи през 1913 година") was the extermination and ethnic cleansing of the Bulgarian population in the southern part of the region of Thrace during and shortly after the Second Balkan War. Carried out by the Ottoman army and Ottoman paramilitary forces, the areas involved included East Thrace and the Eastern Rhodope Mountains (today in the Edirne, Kırklareli and Tekirdağ provinces in Turkey, the Western Thrace region in Greece, as well as the southeastern part of Bulgarian Thrace). These events were described by the Bulgarian academician Lyubomir Miletich in a 1918 book by the same name, and also by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in their 1914 report on the Balkan wars.[1]

The murdered Thracian Bulgarians are estimated to have been 50,000- 60,000, which was 20% of the Bulgarian populaiton in Thrace, the rest Christian Bulgarians either died or fled.[2][3] The ethnic cleansing targeted 300,000 Bulgarians, who were killed or expelled.[4]


When the military actions between Serbia, Greece, Montenegro and Romania against Bulgaria were in full progress, the Ottoman Empire took advantage of the situation to recover some of its former possessions in Thrace including Edirne. In the beginning of July 1913 its forces crossed the Bulgarian border on the line Kıyıköy - Enez, settled by the Treaty of London in May 1913. Because the Bulgarian troops had all been allocated to the front with Serbia and Greece, the Ottoman armies suffered no combat casualties and moved northwards and westwards without heavy battles. Thus reoccupied territories were given back to the Ottoman Empire by the Treaty of Constantinople, signed on September 16. Despite that, the mass extermination and ethnic cleansing continued in the areas, regained by the Ottomans, even after this date. Shortly after the end of the hostilities Miletich interviewed hundreds of refugees from these regions, travelled himself in the places where these tragic events happened and systematically depicted in detail the atrocities. The entire community of the Thracian Bulgarians was wiped out.[5][6][7][8]

Population estimates[edit]

There were various estimates on the different population groups in the Vilayet of Edirne, most of whose territory consisted of Eastern Thrace. Alongside the 1911 official Ottoman figures, estimates were made by Lybomir Miletich (only of the Bulgarians and Greeks) and by Aram Andonian, an Armenian journalist and later Ottoman civil servant, in his 1912 book "The History of the Balkan war".

Non-official estimates of Edirne Vilayet[9][10]
Group According to Miletich According to Andonian
Orthodox Bulgarians 203,224 370,000
Muslim Turks NA 250,000
Greeks 200,000-250,000 220,000
Muslim Bulgarians (Pomaks) 95,502 115,000
Armenians NA 30,000
Muslim Gypsies NA 15,000
Orthodox Albanians NA 3,500
Orthodox Turks NA 3,000
Total NA 1,006,500
Ottoman population estimates of Edirne Vilayet
Group 1893[11] 1911[12]
Muslims 434,366 795,706
Greeks (EOC members) 267,220 395,872
Bulgarians (BOC members) 102,245 171,055
Armenians 16,642 33,650
Catholics 1,024 12,783
Other 827 44,552
Total 836,041 1,426,632

The Ottoman authorities divided the population by religion, so all Patriarchists were counted as Greeks and the Pomaks as Muslims. The other two sources divided the population by language, so for example 24,970 Bulgarian patriarchists and 1700 Uniates were added by Miletich to the total figure for Orthodox Bulgarians.[9]


  1. ^ Carnegie Endowment for International peace, Report to inquire into the causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars. CHAPTER III. Bulgarians, Turks and Servians, 2. Thrace.
  2. ^ Carnegie (1914). Report of the international commission to inquire into the causes and conduct of the Balkan Wars. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  3. ^ Resettlement Waves, Historical Memory and Identity Construction: The Case of Thracian Refugees in Bulgaria, pp. 68
  4. ^ Stark, Laura. "Ethnologia Europaea vol. 46:1". 
  5. ^ Стайко Трифонов. Тракия. Административна уредба, политически и стопански живот, 1912-1915. Тракийска фондация "Капитан Петко войвода", 1992, pp. 162-182
  6. ^ Проф. д-р Делчо Порязов. Погромът на тракийските българи през 1913 година - разорение и изтребление. вестник Тракия, брой 18 (25 септември 2008 г.) до брой 24 (25 декември 2008 г.))
  7. ^ Евдокия Каринтева. Село Башклисе в Балканската война. в: Спомени за Бащ Клисе. Фондация "Баш Клисе", Свиленград 2003 г.
  8. ^ Симеон Л. Стойков. Ениджия – една България, останала в миналото. Фондация "Баш клисе", Свиленград 2002 г.
  9. ^ a b The Destruction of Thracian Bulgarians in 1913, Lybomir Miletich, 1918, pp. 291 and 301
  10. ^ Erickson, Edward J. (2003). Defeat in detail: the Ottoman Army in the Balkans, 1912-1913. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-275-97888-4. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  11. ^ Kemal H. Karpat. Ottoman Population Records and the Census of 1881/82-1893 Int. J. Middle East Stud. 9 (1978), 237-274, p. 37
  12. ^ Teaching Modern Southeast European History. Alternative Educational Materials, p. 26


External links[edit]

  • On-line publication of the phototype reprint of the first edition of this book in Bulgarian here (in Bulgarian "Разорението на тракийските българи през 1913 година", Българска академия на науките, София, Държавна печатница, 1918 г.; II фототипно издание, Културно-просветен клуб "Тракия" - София, 1989 г., София; in English: "The Destruction of Thracian Bulgarians in 1913", Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, State printing house, 1918; II phototype edition, Cultural and educational club "Thrace" - Sofia, 1989, Sofia).