GREAT WAR, an international conflict that in 1914-18 embroiled
most of the nations of Europe along with Russia, the United States, the Middle East, and other
regions. The war pitted the Central Powers--mainly Germany, Bulgaria, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey--against
the Allies--mainly France, Great Britain, Greece, Russia, Italy, Japan, and, from 1917, the United
States. When a Serbian nationalist assassinated Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria at Sarajevo on
June 28, 1914, a chain of threats, ultimatums, and mobilizations was set in motion that resulted
in a general war between these two alliances by mid-August. The Great War ended with the defeat of the Central Powers.
According to American Ambassador in Istanbul, HENRY MORGENTHAU, the reason of this war was the desire of
Germany to become a great economical power, like Great Britain, seizing harbours, railroads, oil sources
in Asia, Africa and elsewhere. Germany tried to have an open road from Berlin to Baghdad and had to destroy
all the obstacles of her goal. Servia was one obstacle, in Balkans. Also Germany wanted Turkey as satellite
country and had to ged rid of from christian minorities who were pro-british.
In 1914, Greeks were divided about their participation. When Bulgaria and Turkey joined the Central Powers,
the potential stakes rose for Greece. It was likely that the end of the war would bring major border changes.
If the Central Powers won, Bulgaria might claim land in Macedonia and Thrace, at the expense of Greece. On the
other hand, if the Allies won, Bulgaria and especially Turkey would lose territory. As a noncombatant, a neutral
Greece would have no say in the peace treaty, and the lands of the Megale Idea might be awarded to rival states.
King Constantine (George having been assassinated in 1913) opposed entering
ther war, and especially opposed joining the Allied side. He expected the Central Powers to win. Prime
Minister Venizelos on the other hand was sure that the Allies would win the war,
and that Greek participation would yield benefits against Bulgaria and Turkey.
In this tense atmosphere on August 30, 1916 pro-Venizelist officers in
Thessaloniki initiated a revolutionary movement against the Greek government.
Venizelos went to Thessaloniki and formed a provisional government which had the
support of the army, effectively dividing Greece in two, with the government of
King Constantine leaning toward the Central Powers.
In a final act of pressure on Greece in June Entente demanded the abdication of
King Constantine, in their role as protecting powers and in view of the King's
obvious failure to act as a constitutional monarch. But Constantine did not
abdicate, he left Greece for Switzerland accompanied by his son Crown Prince George.
Within days of the King's departure Venizelos returned to Athens as Prime
Minister once again. On July 2, 1917 Greece declared war on the central powers
and mobilized an army of 250,000 and joined the British-French armies in the
final assault of the war in the Balkan Area, at the cost of 6,000 soldiers dead,
25,000 wounded. The crucial battle took place in 19 May 1918 at Skra of Macedonia.
For a while the Central Powers prospered. In the west Germany's armies outflanked
France's main defensive forces and swept westward through Belgium. Serbia was overrun, Romania forced to
sue for peace. Bulgaria recovered lands in Macedonia and Thrace. Later the things changed,
USA entered the war, bringing in France, hundred of thousands troops
and the position of the Central Powers began deteriorating. The Austro-Hungarian
Empire, shaken by military defeats and by nationalist uprisings, virtually disintegrated during October. Germany's great offensives on the Western
Front during April-July failed, and the Allied forces then began a steady advance that recovered
almost all of German-occupied France and part of Belgium by October 1918. German military and
civilian morale thereupon collapsed, and amid widespread political unrest the German kaiser
William II abdicated on November 9.
After their victory Great Powers rewarded Greece. Greek troops landed at Smyrna in 1919,
after 600 years of barbaric occupation. The 1920 peace treaty in Serves with
Turkey made a large part of Ionian Land an autonomous zone under Greek protection.
But Greece after the fall of Tzars had lost the russian support in the region.
Bolshevik leader Lenin supported Kemal in Turkey, withdrawing all russian troops
from the regions of Pontus and Armenia, abandoning the christian populations there,
at the mercy of turkish leaders who continued their sick and criminal plans of
exterminating all the non muslim minorities.