The War of the Stray Dog

Since the decline of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th Century, Bulgaria and Greece feuded over Thrace and Macedonia. Both countries considered them national territory. On 19 October 1925, near the border town of Petrich in the Demir Kapou Pass, a Greek captain chased his stray dog into Bulgaria and Bulgarian border guards shot him. The Bulgarian government attempted to apologize and asked for a joint Greek-Bulgarian commission to investigate the incident. However, the Greek dictator General Theodoros Pangalos saw an opportunity to forcefully chastise his adversary with a show of strength.

Pangalos ordered the Greek army to invade Bulgaria in order to extract compensation for the dead captain’s family. The invasion was also a cover to to strike at pockets of Macedonian dissidents who sought refuge in Bulgaria. The Greek Army seized Petrich, looted the town, and in the process killed 40 civilians. After it was found out that Greece sought assistance from Serbia, and was rebuffed, Bulgaria sought assistance from the League of Nations.

The “war” ended ten days later when the League of Nations imposed a $100,000 fine on Greece, and the Greek troops withdrew under the threat of military action by the League. The censure by the League and the quick withdrawal from Bulgaria destroyed Pangalos’ reputation in the eyes of his supporters. The same cabal that had installed him to power removed him from power the next summer.

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