... Balkan postcards ...

The Balkan postcards were issued for the Red Cross during World War 1. The cards have different motives from the Balkan region, and pictures of famous persons on the back. The Bulgarian cards were issued in 6 different versions, and so far I have found five different Turkish issues. If you know even more Turkish cards, I would appreciate an email!

In the lower right corner of the cards the Ottoman name of Germany (Almaniya) can be seen, indicating that the Balkan cards were issued exclusively for the German market. Furthermore, on top of each card to the left of the stamps the Ottoman word "Matbuat" can be seen. "Matbua" is the Turkish word for "Printed Matter", implying that no personal greetings should be written on the cards. This is confirmed by the fact that both cards are paid as Printed Matter (10 Para). In 1918 the international rate for regular postcards was 30 Para.

Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz
Fast jump menu:

Grand Vizier Said Halim Pasha

Admiral Wilhelm Souchon 1

Extract from hymn

Admiral W. Souchon 2

Balkan postcard cancelled in ???

Motive: W. Moralt: Moscheen Aja Sofia, Muri Osman und Adymes
Pictured: Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz

Wilhelm Leopold Colmar, Baron von der Goltz (1843-1916) was born on 12 August 1843 near Labiau in East Prussia. Goltz joined the German army in 1861, and through a widely varied career served as soldier, military lecturer (at the Military Academy of Berlin 1878-83) and writer (publishing The Nation in Arms in 1883) before becoming, in June 1883, military advisor to the Turkish army while still a Major.

Tasked with the modernisation of the Turkish army Goltz was so successful that it required the intervention of the major European powers to call a halt to the Greco-Turkish War of 1897 which Turkish forces appeared to be on the verge of winning.

Having returned to Germany in 1897 as a Lieutenant General, Goltz next saw significant service with the outbreak of war in August 1914 when he was appointed military governor of Belgium following its seizure by the German army. Deeply dissatisfied with this role - he had no appetite for oppressing the civilian populace - Goltz was consequently relieved to be despatched back to Turkey in November 1914, becoming aide-de-camp to Sultan Mehmed V.

Handed command of the Turkish First (Bosporus) Army in Mesopotamia (present day Iraq) following a power struggle with Liman von Saunders, Goltz proved unpopular with Turkish War Minister Enver Pasha. Goltz's plans for a large-scale attack upon the British in Egypt or India therefore found little favour. He was subsequently appointed to command of Sixth Army in October 1915, heralding a much-desired return to regular soldering.

Goltz successfully halted Sir Charles Townshend's Anglo-Indian army among the ancient ruins of Ctesiphon on 22 November 1915. The following month, on 8 December, Goltz followed up this success by penning Townshend's force at Kut. Having then repulsed the large British force despatched to relieve Townshend Goltz conducted the 143-day siege of Kut which finally ended with Townshend's surrender on 29 April 1916. However Goltz never lived to savour his victory: He died ten days earlier of Typhus, although rumours persisted (unproven) that he was actually poisoned by a group of Young Turk officers.


Balkan postcard cancelled in Sirkedji(?), Istanbul

Motive: E. Wuttze: Picture from Constantinople
Pictured: Grand Vizier Said Halim Pasha

The black rectangular cachet is an Ottoman censor cachet from World War I, but the text is illegible. Also the postmark is almost illegible. It may be "Scutari", but is most probably "Sirkedji". There is a large railway station with that name just below the Topkapi museum in Istanbul.

Said Halim Pasha (1863-1921) served as Ottoman Grand Vizier from 1913-16.

Said was the grandson of the Egyptian viceroy Muhammad Ali Pasha, and was educated in Turkey and Switzerland. He was appointed as a member of the state judicial council already in 1888. In 1911 he entered Mahmud Sevket's Cabinet as Foreign Minister, and following Sevket's death two years later he was made Grand Vizier.

Despite his opposition to Ottoman involvement in the First World War he nevertheless signed the Turkish treaty of alliance with Germany in 1914. He considered resignation once war began in November 1914, but was persuaded to remain at the insistence of the Young Turk administration. In 1916 Said finally resigned as Grand Vizier, taking up a seat in the Senate. Writing extensively, Said produced essays on the monarchy, Islam and current problems within the Ottoman Empire.

After the Turkish armistice of 30 October 1918 at Mudros, Said was exiled to Malta. Following his release and subsequent travel to Rome, he was murdered by an Armenian assassin on 6 December 1921.

Source: http://www.firstworldwar.com/bio/saidhalim.htm

Balkan postcard cancelled in Galata, Istanbul

Motive: Prof. B. St°wer: In den Dardanellen
Picture side: Admiral Wilhelm Souchon - Commander of the German Mediterranean Fleet

The black rectangular cachet is an Ottoman censor cachet from World War I. The card is cancelled "Voivoda (Galata)". This postal office was located beneath the Galata tower, probable where there is today a street called "Voyvoda caddesi".

Strangely enough, there seems to exist two different versions of the card with pictures and signature of Admiral Souchon. The motive side is the same (Prof. B. St°wer: In den Dardanellen), but this is the back of the second version:

Admiral Wilhelm Souchon commanded the battle cruisers Goeben and Breslau, the only two German warships stationed in the Mediterranean Seain the summer of 1914. The Goeben was one of the fastest and most powerful warships of its day. Manned by over a thousand crewmen, the ship measured 195 m in length, and carried 34 guns of various sizes. The Goeben's largest guns could accurately fire explosive shells at targets up to 24 km away. However, the two-year-old ship was plagued by defective coal-fired boilers that leaked water, causing a loss of power. Hoping to repair the Goeben before a war began, Admiral Souchon took the ship to the Adriatic port of Pola, which was controlled by Germany's Austrian allies. While the Goeben was being repaired in Pola in July 1914, Souchon's other ship, the Breslau lay anchored off the southern coast of Italy. The Breslau was in good repair, but was a smaller and less powerful vessel, with a crew of 370.

On August 1, 1914, Admiral Souchon received a wireless telegraph message informing him that Germany had declared war on Russia, and would soon declare war on France. For several months, Admiral Souchon had carried secret instructions which he was to execute in case of war with France. First, the Goeben and the Breslau were to attack French military centers in the colony of Algeria, then to flee from the Mediterranean and join the main body of the German fleet in the North Atlantic Ocean.

With the repairs to the Goeben's boilers still unfinished, Souchon departed from Pola on August 1 and steamed south to join the Breslau. On August 3, 1914, while heading west off the coast of Sicily, Admiral Souchon received the expected news that Germany had declared war on France. However, he also received an unexpected change in his orders: After attacking the Algerian coast he was no longer to sail west to the Atlantic Ocean. Instead, he was now ordered to turn around and sail east to Turkey. His new mission was to persuade the neutral Turkish government to enter the war on the side of Germany.

Following his new orders, Souchon bombarded the French colonial ports of Philippeville and Bona, Algeria, on the morning of August 4. During the bombardment he deceptively flew Russian flags to confuse the French, in violation of international treaties. After a narrow escape from the British Royal Navy, the Goeben and the Breslau reached the entrance to the port of Constantinople on August 10. Souchon's orders instructed him to force his way into the port if necessary.

In Constantinople, both German and British diplomats were meeting behind closed doors with members of the Turkish government. When the German diplomats were informed of the arrival of the Goeben and the Breslau, they persuaded the Turks to allow the ships to enter the harbor. Once Souchon's ships were safely in the harbor, the German diplomats reminded the Turks that Great Britain had recently broken a contract to supply two new battleships to the Turkish government. The British Admiralty, nervous about the threat of a European war, had decided to keep the new warships for its own use instead of transferring them to Turkey. The Germans now offered to provide the Turks with the ships they needed by selling them the Goeben and the Breslau.

After several hours of negotiation, the Turks agreed to purchase the German battle ships. Retaining their German crews, the ships were renamed the Yavuz Sultan Selim and the Midili. Wilhelm Souchon was made commander-in-chief of the Turkish navy. Still, Germany encountered significant difficulty in persuading Turkey to enter the war. After nearly twelve weeks of political manoeuvring, Souchon took his ships into the Black Sea where he bombarded the Russian cities of Odessa, Sebastopol and Novorossiysk without the knowledge or consent of the Turkish government. This act of outright aggression had the desired effect of provoking a Russian declaration of war on Turkey, which was subsequently followed up by further declarations from the other major allied powers. Thus, on 30 October 1914, Turkey had no choice than officially joining the war on the German side. It is reasonable to assume that Souchon deserves most of the credit for achieving this major foreign policy objective on behalf of his German masters.


Balkan postcard cancelled in ???

Motive: J. Frank: Constantinople, the old Roman wall
Picture side: Extract from hymn

I can say very little about this card. Unfortunately, due to the sensor cachet I cannot read the name of the hymn printed on the card.

This page is made with contributions from O. T°nseth/Norway, E. Hirschmugl/Germany and K.E. Andersen/Denmark.