The Investigation, the Offense, and the Proof: The “Balkan Atrocities” of 1912–1913 and the Law of War

By Dzovinar Kévonian

The object of this study is an early 20th century survey concerning the Balkans, which was organized and financed by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. It consisted of an investigation “on the ground” conducted just after the war by an international commission of lawyers and Balkan area experts, who were charged with investigating events in the Balkans during 1912-1913, particularly the issue of wartime atrocities. The commission, directed from Paris by Baron d’Estournelles de Constant, at that time director of the European office of the Carnegie Endowment, found itself at odds with local political realities, with individuals within the commission itself, as well as with such states as Germany and Greece. Made public during the spring of 1914, the voluminous survey report showcased new methods of “scientific” investigation (use of photographic sources, contradictory oral testimony), and tested the limits of an approach which joins pacifist investigation to political expertise.


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