A last toehold in Europe: the making of Turkish Thrace, 1912-1923
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March 16, 1914, a ceremony was held in the Ottoman border town of Edirne. Once the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Edirne was reoccupied by Ottoman troops in July 1913 after a three-month occupation by Bulgarian forces. The ceremony that day, held just outside the city's defenses, marked the one-year anniversary of the main Bulgarian assault upon Edirne's principle citadel. Aside from schoolchildren from the local government school, few locals partook in the prayer services held during this event, according to British sources, Among those who spoke that day was Ahmed Riza Paşa, commander of the Ottoman 2nd Army Corps. Considering the suffering and sacrifices made by both the empire's soldiers and the old capital's inhabitants, Ahmed Riza underscored that it was important to remember this great defeat and draw lessons for the future. "We Ottomans," he explained, "conquered distant lands, but now those who have been conquered are uniting to retake their lands seized from them centuries past." In light of the Ottoman re-conquest of Edirne the citizens of the empire were obliged to fulfill an important duty. lnstill into the minds of your children, your relatives, and your friends," Ahmed Riza commanded, "the sentiment of vengeance for the blood of those martyrs that has flowed on this spot." God willing, he added, this common sense of purpose would help the country to "return once more to the glory of former days."
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