War, civic mobilization and the ottoman home-front during the balkan wars: The case of children

Eyal Ginio*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Scopus citations


On 29 Kânun-1 Sâni 1328 (11 February 1913), a petition arrived at the Municipal Committee for the Settling of Refugees (İskân-i Muhacirîn Komisyonu) in Istanbul. The applicant was a youngster named Tahsin. In his petition he described his plight since the outbreak of the First Balkan War. He recounted that he was a native of İpsala, a small town situated in the province of Edirne, and mentioned that he was a primary school graduate. When the Bulgarian enemy conquered his native town two months previously, he continued, his family hastily left their native city with the general flight, hoping to reach safety in Anatolia. On the way, his father passed away while he lost his mother in the general confusion that reigned among the desperate refugees. Tahsin was able to reach Istanbul with his younger brother, Ziya. As his brother had been a student in the high school (mekteb-i sultanî) in Edirne prior to the outbreak of war, he was sent by the local authorities to a similar school in Bursa. Tahsin was left all alone. He applied to the Ministry of Education and Forestry to be enrolled, free of charge as a boarding student, in one of the schools in Istanbul or in the industrial school. However, his application was turned down on the basis of his age and lack of sufficient previous education. We learn from the subsequent correspondence between the committee and the Ministry of Education that the reason for this refusal was the fact that he had not graduated from a secondary school. Tahsin, the applicant, decided at this stage to involve the committee that dealt with the refugees' ordeals: ‘Only three months previously, I was a member of a rather big family. Now, because of the war, I am in a state of ruin and distraction.’ He implored the committee to find him a suitable school that would take charge of his education and his daily needs, signing his application as ‘Tahsin, one of the refugees of İpsala; an orphan from his father and forsaken by his mother and one who was left with no relative to protect him; one that needs compassion and assistance.’

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Wars Before the Great War
Subtitle of host publicationConflict and International Politics Before the Outbreak of the First World War
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781107478145
ISBN (Print)9781107063471
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Dominik Geppert, William Mulligan and Andreas Rose 2015.


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