Istanbul During the Balkan Wars (1912–1913)

Cholera, Medicine and the Press

in Turkish Historical Review
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During the Balkan Wars (1912–1913) Istanbul suddenly found itself at the frontline of an unexpectedly disastrous conflict with its Balkan neighbours. One direct consequence of these wars, through troop mobilisation and refugee movement, was a major outbreak of cholera in the Ottoman capital. While entrepreneurs tried to turn this calamity into profit, by selling (useless) medication, the government tried to control the flow of information regarding the disease in order to better combat the epidemic and both parties used the press to achieve their goals. Despite the chaos of the war and the size of the outbreak, the acted efficiently and successfully prevented a potential disaster.

Istanbul During the Balkan Wars (1912–1913)

Cholera, Medicine and the Press

in Turkish Historical Review




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 See for example Briggs“Cholera and society” p. 88; Snowden “Cholera in Barletta” p. 81.


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  • View in gallery

    (left) Geographic distribution and intensity of the 1912 cholera outbreak in Istanbul and (right) Location of major refugee shelters in Istanbul.

  • View in gallery

    Officials in uniforms are ready to quarantine the house of a man whom they suspect to have cholera because he is vomiting. However, he points out the bottle of wine in his hand and calms them down as he had simply just had too much to drink.

  • View in gallery

    (Left) Cholera, accompanied by death is being chased away by cleanliness (nezafet) and (Right) Cholera is attacking Istanbul and the Bosporus strait during the 1911 epidemic.

  • View in gallery

    Panic in the Grand Bazaar, caused by the flu.

  • View in gallery

    The old witch, the mascot of Cadaloz, shakes an angry fist at the Nektar company who are having some trouble at their factory. “Nektar was saying that beer is a protection against cholera, but do you see now what happened to them?”

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