Thessaloniki 111 years later…

On October 26, 2023 Thessaloniki celebrates 111 years of freedom from the Ottoman Empire. Before that it was occupied for 482 years which due to the actions of the occupiers suppressed the freedom, activity, development and religious expression of its citizens.

Let us examine now the history of this largest city in Macedonia, Greece, which was founded in 315 BC by King Cassander of Macedon to honor his wife “Θεσσαλονίκη” (Thessalonike), half-sister of Alexander the Great, the greatest and most successful military commanders of all time. Cassander’s wife’s name was given due to the victory of the Macedonians over the Thessalian horsemen in the battle by Phillip II on the day she was born.

After the fall of the kingdom of Macedon Thessaloniki was called Thessalonica in Latin and became part of the Roman Republic that took over this part of Greece. To cut a long story short, it was then ruled by the Byzantine Empire until its demise in 1423 when it was handed over to the Republic of Venice, which 7 years later was sieged and captured by the Ottoman Sultan Murad II in 1430.

In view of what was stated above about the suppression of the citizens of Thessaloniki during the Ottoman rule, we have the actions of Yusuf Bey who in 1821 gave an order to kill any Greeks found in the streets of the city. As a result of that action thousands of Greeks were slaughtered in the streets. One of Yusuf’s mulas, Hayriulah, gave the description: “Every day and every night you hear nothing in the streets of Thessaloniki but shouting and moaning. It seems that Yusuf Bey, the Yeniceri Agasi, the Subasi, the hocas and the ulemas have all gone raving mad”.

History tells us that, by suppressing the freedom of Greeks it is like writing an expiry date of one regime’s rule. From the declared Greek War of Independence, 1821, the revolt that took place in Macedonia under the leadership of Emmanouil Pappas was not going to end favorably for the Ottomans.

The city’s population reached 135000 in 1917 and during the 19th century was inhabited by approximately ten thousand Bulgarians as a substantial minority.

Although in c. 1500 there were just over three thousand Jews living in Thessaloniki, and about eight thousand Muslims and Greek Orthodox Christians. The number of Jews exploded to over fifteen-thousand in 1519 after the Ottoman Emperor invited over those who were fleeing for their lives from persecution elsewhere in Europe.

A reasonable person’s questions would be:

  1. Why was there no substantial resistance from the Ottoman Empire to Greeks taking over the city?
  2. Why was the city basically handed over to the advancing Greek army?
  3. What events preceded the liberation on land and in the sea?
  4. Which other areas of Greece were liberated around that time?
  5. Were there any international involvement with volunteers in the Greek army?
  6. Why did the Garibaldi red shirts arrive late in the campaign, even though they vowed to help the Hellenic cause and establish a lasting liberal relationship between the mediterranean states?

Come to the lecture and find out.
October 29, 2023, at 4:30pm at the Greek Community building, 168 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Protected by Security by CleanTalk