Other Face of the War: Prisoners of the Ottoman-Russian War of 1877-1878 in Romania
Erzurum Teknik Üniversitesi, Edebiyat Fakültesi, Tarih Bölümü, Erzurum/ TÜRKİYE
Keywords: Pleven, Romania, Bucharest, Turkish Prisoners, 1877-1878 Ottoman- Russian War
In the Ottoman-Russian War in 1877-1878 (Russo-Turkish War, also called 93 Harbi in Turkish), around 40.000 Ottoman soldiers were taken prisoners after the Russians captured Pleven on 10 December 1877. About 30.000 of these prisoners were taken to Russia under severe winter conditions. The remaining 10.000 prisoners were left in Romania, which entered the war in alliance with the Russians against the Ottoman Empire. In this study, the sad story of the soldiers who were taken as prisoners to Bucharest after being captured in Pleven is told. This study depicts the conditions of the prisoners who were sent to Bucharest and how they continued to live on in exile. This study, which is rather human-centered than political history, portrays the consequences of the war and sufferings caused by the war from the eyes of the exiled soldiers.
Romania, which takes sides with Russia in the war against the Ottoman Empire, gained its independence with the Berlin Treaty. But Romania lost Bessarabia to Russia. For this reason, the Romanian government, which remained distant to the Russians after the war, began to cooperate with the Ottoman Empire and against the common enemy. During this period, the Romanian authorities treated Turkish prisoners as well as possible. After all, the Ottoman Empire and Romania signed a prisoner exchange agreement. This agreement was vital for the recognition of the Romanian State. After the first diplomatic contacts were settled, the relations between Romania and the Ottoman Empire gained momentum, and diplomatic representatives were established mutually. As a result, this set a political environment that is based on mutual respect and trust between the two sides. Romania gave importance to international recognition, especially by the Ottoman Empire, while the Ottomans thought that the newly established state could build a barrier against the Russians.