Greek Orthodox Citizen Soldiers under the Ottoman Banner

Experiencing and Surviving the Great War

  • Charalampos Minasidis The University of Texas at Austin
Keywords: Greek Orthodox, citizen soldiers, Ottoman army, armed service, Labor Battalions


The Great War proved to be an unpleasant and traumatic experience for many Greek Orthodox citizen soldiers called to fight under the Ottoman banner. Although many served dutifully in arms or otherwise, few had self-legitimized their conscription. Regardless, the denomination of minority citizen soldiers by the Ottoman military authorities led to their mass assignment to unarmed positions, which could mean their transfer to the labor battalions, and possibly their death. Most Greek Orthodox were aware of labor battalions’ harsh conditions, and their transformation into killing grounds for the Armenian citizen soldiers. Based on grassroots sources such as diaries, memoirs, and interviews, I demonstrate that this discriminatory war policy was not systematic, as several recruits were later trained and armed during the war, and I argue that a new contractual relationship emerged for those skilled and literate Greek Orthodox through which they could successfully negotiate their skills to avoid the labor battalions and, thus, have greater chances of surviving the war.


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Author Biography

Charalampos Minasidis, The University of Texas at Austin

Charalampos Minasidis is a Ph.D. candidate in Modern European and Middle Eastern History at The University of Texas at Austin. His work examines the human landscape of total mobilization via the social category of citizen soldiers as a way to study Greek and Ottoman society at war during the early 20th century. He holds an MA in The History of Warfare (2008) from King’s College London, and an MA in Balkan & Turkish History (2013), a BA in Political Sciences (2014), and a BA in History (2007) from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Society for Macedonian Studies (Thessaloniki, Greece), where he worked as a research assistant from 2007 to 2012, and Epikentro Publishers published the adaptation and expansion of his second master thesis, Η Πολιτική των Ηνωμένων Πολιτειών στο Μακεδονικό Ζήτημα τη Δεκαετία του 1940 [United States Policy on the Macedonian Question during the 1940s] in 2016.

How to Cite
Minasidis, C. (2021). Greek Orthodox Citizen Soldiers under the Ottoman Banner: Experiencing and Surviving the Great War. Archiv orientální, 88(3), 341-373.