5/10/1915 Political crisis in Greece as Allied troops land in Salonika

Greece is still neutral but today British and French troops begin to disembark at the port of Salonika in the north of the country. They have been invited in by Eleftherios Venizelos, the Greek prime minister. The Allied force is to assist Serbia, believed to be facing a new invasion threat, with the Bulgarians looking increasingly likely to assist the Germans and Austro-Hungarians.

Venizelos invited the Allies to Salonika because he is sympathetic to the cause of Serbia. He wants Greece to enter the war on the side of the Allies and bring its forces to the aid the Serbians. His hope is that the presence of an Allied army will swing opinion in favour of war. However, not everyone in Greece wants to abandon neutrality. Crucially, King Constantine wants to keep the country out of the conflagration engulfing Europe. Some believe that Constantine is not acting out of high-minded opposition to war but through pro-German sympathies; he has undergone military training in Germany and his wife, Queen Sophie, is the sister of the German emperor. Either way, Constantine wants Greece to stay neutral and he wants the French and British out of Salonika.

The dispute between Venizelos and Constantine paralyses Greek politics and leaves the British and French in Salonika in a difficult position. Will they be able to march north to the aid of Serbia, bringing the Greek army with them? Or will they have to defend themselves from their erstwhile hosts?

image sources:

map of the southern Balkans, with Salonika shown as Salonik (Books about Macedonia)

Constantine & Venizelos in happier times (Wikipedia)

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