8. The Donkey Assaults

Summary

The Balkan war of 1912-1913, when Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro united against Turkey and bit off most of the European part of the Sultan’s empire, is the immediate result of the Donkey assaults. They have remained in history with this name due to the usage of kamikadze-donkeys loaded with dynamite which the assassins blow up at public places, most often at oriental markets in Macedonian cities.

The bombings are prepared and executed by the Interior Macedono-Odrin Organization under the command of Todor Alexandrov. The organization is based in Sofia. The first assault is carried out on November 21st 1911, a market day, in Stip, Alexandrov’s home town. A Turkish man is killed and another 26 people injured, 3 of them badly. To avenge, a bunch of muslims start a massacre among the local Bulgarian population: 20 Bulgarians are killed and another 2000 wounded. This is precisely the reaction that the terrorists have expected. The Stip outrages people in Bulgaria. The Sofia Cathedral holds a memorial service for the victims which is followed by a huge mourning procession. At rallies, orators call the Bulgarian government to war.

On August 1, 1912 the next hell machine explodes in the central market street of Kochani. 24 people are dead, most of them Bulgarian. These victims however are nothing compared to the bloodshed that is about to follow. Soon Turkish military and muslim volunteers sweep the streets in a wave of mass violence against the Christian population which is predominantly Bulgarian. The Turkish extremities provoke diplomatic pressure and as a result an investigative committee is formed. Its report reveals that there have been 21 Bulgarians murdered and 221 injured. Another donkey-bomb explodes on September 10th in Dojran.

Protests and meetings against the Turkish atrocities flood Bulgaria. On August 12, 1912 an All-national assembly gathers in Sofia to demand immediate mobilization. These events coincide with the festivities for Bulgarian Tzar Ferdinand’s 25th year on the throne. On August 13 in the Borovetz resort a secret crown council takes the fateful decision to wage war against Turkey. Bulgaria’s allies – Greece and Serbia – agree. On October 18, 1912 all the countries of the Balkan alliance declare war to Turkey.