On this day in 1913 during the 2nd Balkan War, the Greek Army liberated and triumphantly entered the city of Drama in Macedonia, ending 529 years of Foreign (Turkish and Bulgarian) Occupation.
The sudden Bulgarian attack on Greek and Serbian military divisions on June 16, 1913 marked the beginning of the Second Balkan War after that tripartite had successfully expelled the Ottoman’s from nearly all of its holdings in Europe.
As expected, the Greek Army was called upon to defend the territories of Macedonia that had just been liberated from Ottoman Turkish occupation during the First Balkan War. This war was characterised by its speed as it lasted only a little more than a month.
The severity of the fighting and the heavy losses were also remembered, especially since it was such a short war. The first major battle was at Kilkis-Lahana (June 9-21), where the Bulgarians were defeated and retreated almost erratically to the heights of Doirani and beyond the bridge of Strymonikos to the plain of Serres.
On June 28, 1913, the VII Division of the Greek Army was ordered by the General Staff to head for Serres and liberate it, along with Drama and Sidirokastro.
Drama was first captured by the Bulgarians from the Ottomans during the First Balkan War, and came to be known as the First Bulgarian Occupation. It was liberated and united with the Greek state on July 1, 1913 and the 21st Infantry Regiment of the 7th Division that liberated the city today bears the title “Drama”, in memory of this event.
During the First World War in 1916 it was occupied for the second time by the Bulgarians. During the Second Bulgarian Occupation, the Greek population suffered persecution, starvation, hostage-taking as well as arrests and torture by the secret Bulgarian police and the occupying Bulgarian army. During the Second Bulgarian Occupation, 4,000 Greeks died of starvation and disease.
At the same time, the Bulgarians implemented a harsh measure to exterminate the population: the displacement and hostage-taking of thousands of Greeks, including almost all the priests of Eastern Macedonia, into concentration camps and forced labor in Bulgaria. During the Second Bulgarian Occupation, 1,965 people were deported from the city of Drama, of which only 1,359 returned.
With the entry of the Germans into Greece in April 1941, during World War II, German and Bulgarian troops occupied Eastern Macedonia. The Bulgarians then launched a systematic operation to Bulgarianise the population of Drama and its region, which met strong reactions from its inhabitants. The Drama Uprising was the first mass popular uprising in Greece that took on a purely militant and revolutionary character, and occurred on the 28th-29th September 1941, when the people of Drama and the surrounding villages revolted and overthrew the Bulgarian authorities. This spontaneous uprising was violently suppressed by the Bulgarians and on September 29, 1941, the Bulgarian occupation forces, retaliating harshly, executed 3,000 patriots in the city of Drama, and surrounding towns and villages. These events had a shocking effect on the entire enslaved Greek people. The Bulgarians finally left Drama in October 1944. For this sacrifice, Drama was described as a “martyrdom city.”
Since then, Drama is an integral part of Greece and has not been under threat by the Bulgarians or Turks ever since.