MARX-ENGELS: Greece was liberated by the Russians.

The historical truth about the main factor that contributed to the liberation and international recognition of Greece as an independent country in the Greek War of Independence (1821-1830), has long been pointed out by a well-known ideological opponent of Tsarist Russia, Friedrich Engels—financial sponsor of Carl Marx, with whom he co-authored many works, including The Communist Manifestoin an article in the American newspaper New-York Daily Tribune in 1853, as follows:

“When the Greeks revolted, who decided the contest? Not the plots and rebellions of Ali Pasha of Janina, not the Battle of Navarino, not the French army in the Morea, not the conferences and protocols of London, but the march of Diebitcsch's Russians across the Balkan into the valley of Maritza. And while Russia thus fearlessly set about the dismemberment of Turkey, western diplomatists continued to guarantee and to hold up as sacred the status quo and the inviolability of the Ottoman territory.”


[Friedrich Engels, “What is to Become of Turkey in Europe?—first published in the New-York Daily Tribune, No. 3748, 21 April 1853, reprinted in the New-York Weekly Tribune, No. 607, 30 April 1853Marx and Engels Collected Works (Progress Publishers: Moscow 1979), v. 12, pp. 32-36. Freely readable/downloadable here:]



As regards (a) the uprising of Ali Pasha in 1820-1822, (b) the naval Battle of Navarino in 1827, between the combined fleet of the allied Great  Powers (England, France and Russia, so-called “Protecting Powers”) and the Ottoman fleet,  (c) the military expedition of the French Army in Southern Greece (Peloponnese) in 1828, on the side of the Greeks, and (d) the conferences and agreements of the Protecting Powers on the Greek Question in 1826-1829, the following historical facts are reasonably pointed out in the footnote to the above publication:

(<Endnote 37:> Unlike the national liberation movement of the Greeks, this struggle [of Ali Pasha of Janina, Ed.] was of a feudal-separatist nature and ended in defeat in 1822...


<Endnote 27:> The aim of the [French] expedition, which was organised on the pretext of rendering assistance to the Greeks, was to counteract growing Russian influence in the Balkans and consolidate the position of France in the region...


 <Endnote 38:> These agreements [Great Powers' protocols in 1826-1829, Ed.] and the steps taken by Britain and France, who hoped to settle the [Greco-Turkish] conflict through diplomacywithout a defeat for Turkey in the Russo-Turkish war, could not make Turkey change her attitude on the Greek question. It was only after the victory of the Russian army under General Diebitsch in the 1829 campaign that Turkey agreed to make some concessions.”


[Marx and Engels Collected Works, ibid., endnotes 27, 37-38]


Hans Karl von Diebitsch

Two days before that publication, Engels had already summarized, quite epigrammatically, the historical truth about the outcome of the Greek War of Independence in another article, entitled 
The Turkish Question, in the same newspaper (New -York Daily Tribune, 19 April 1853), with just the following four words:

Russia made Greece Independent. ” 

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, The Russian Menace to Europe, ed. Paul Blackstock and Nert Hoselitz (George Allen and Unwin: London 1953) pp. 121-202. Freely readable/downloadable here:   



George Hamilton Gordon

In the following year (1854),  Engels' view on the decisive significance of the Russian military victory over the Turks in 1829 for the international recognition of Greece as an independent country was in effect confirmed by George Hamilton-Gordon, then Prime Minister of England (1852-1855), who had served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of England (1828-1830, i.e. at the time Greece attained its independence from the Ottoman yoke), by stating formally and officially, to the House of Lords, on 26 June 1854, that 
the existence of Greece as an independent kingdom is due to the impressions produced upon us by the terms of the Treaty of Adrianople.  That is, the pro-Greek Russo-Turkish war in 1828-1829, had effected not only the militaty coercion of the Ottoman Empire to accept the liberation of Greece but also the geopolitical coercion of the Great Powers to accept the liberation and international recognition of Greece as an independent countrynot as vassal state of the Ottoman Empire, as initially intended by the Great Powers. In particular, George Hamilton-Gordon came to this conclusion before the House of Lords as follows:


 Now, my Lords, the fact is, Such was the impression produced by that treatysuch was the alarm excited by its conclusionsuch were the supposed dangers which we dreaded to the existence of the Turkish empirethat the whole policy of the British Government was changed on a most material point in consequence of that treaty.

I have already, I think, referred in this House to the fact, which your Lordships well know, that at the beginning and during the progress of the Greek revolution, Mr. Canning never contemplated the existence of Greece as an independent kingdom; neither did the Duke of Wellington ever contemplate the existence of Greece as an independent kingdom, but solely as a vassal State under the suzerainty of the Porte, somewhat similar to the provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia. When, however, the Treaty of Adrianople was signed, it appeared to me, and my noble friend at the head of the Government at the time agreed with me, that the condition of the Turkish empire was so perilous in itself that it would be extremely unwise to create a State and to place it under the protection and suzerainty of an empire which itself was exposed to extreme peril, and whose existence was not to be counted on for any time with the least degree of certainty.

Therefore we agreed to propose to our allies to convert that vassal State into an independent kingdom. Our allies agreed with us, and the Porte at last assented to our proposal. Hence the existence of Greece as an independent kingdom is due to the impressions produced upon us by the terms of the Treaty of Adrianople.


Lords Sitting of June 26, 1854. Treaty of Adrianople -Explanation, Hansard's Parliamentary Debates (T.C. Hansard: London 1855), series 3, vol. 134, cc641. Freely readable/downloadable here:



This article is an adapted extract from the following book:

Jean Sharman (editing: John D. Pappas), Kapodistrias the Great

(BICENTEΝNIAL Publications: Athens 2020), pp. 114-117, 118-122.

Freely readable/downloadable as (abridged) book review here:Καποδίστριας_ο_Μέγας


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