Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Happy Bulgarian Liberation Day

"March 3, Bulgaria's national day, symbolises the restoration of the third Bulgarian kingdom after almost 500 years of Ottoman rule. The treaty of San Stefano, signed on March 3 1878, was the milestone of this process and the day remains one of the most celebrated in Bulgaria's history. The San Stefano treaty ended the Russo-Turkish, which started in 1877.

Russian troops crossed the Danube River and invaded Bulgarian ethnic territory in the southern city of Svishtov.

In late July 1877, the Russian offensive was held up and the Turks launched an energetic counter-offensive.

At that critical moment, the assistance of the Bulgarian population was crucial. This was the moment that later gave grounds for Bulgarians to rightfully claim that their freedom was not a gift from the Russians.

The Bulgarians provided supplies to the Russian troops, helping them traverse the mountain regions, digging defences and collecting intelligence data. Armed units were sent to the enemy's rear. The Bulgarian volunteer unit, called "Opalchentsi", fought side by side with the Russian army against the Ottoman troops.

The battle for Shipka Pass in the Balkan Range was to crucially impact the course of military operations. It remains a battle revered by all Bulgarians.

In August, a battalion of Russian troops and Bulgarian volunteers miraculously managed to defend the pass from the powerful army of Suleiman Pasha, which was attacking from the south. Despite their numerical superiority, the Turks suffered a catastrophic defeat, while the defenders of Shipka worked miracles of bravery. At periods of complete despair and lack of ammunition, the defenders of the pass threw stones, tree trunks and the bodies of killed soldiers against the enemy.

A Russian detachment arrived just in time, providing crucial psychological support to the defenders. They counterattacked and sent the enemy running.

The Shipka battles became known to the world. Foreign reporters informed millions of readers about the course of the war. After Shipka, successful operations followed in Pleven, Sofia, Plovdiv and Shipka-Sheinovo and at the end, the Turkish command asked for peace.

On March 3 1878 in San Stefano, a village near Istanbul now called Yesilkoy, Turkey signed a preliminary peace treaty. Under this treaty the Bulgarian ethnic territories in Macedonia, Moesia and Thrace were liberated, and the Bulgarian state was restored after almost five centuries of Ottoman rule."

-From The Sofia Echo

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"threw dead soldiers at their enemies" .....What a story.
If only we could usher in centuries of live and let live.