Zeitenlick French military cemetery in Thessalonica
Source: French Consulate General in Thessalonika
Zeitenlick French military cemetery in Thessalonika, Greece, is the resting place of 8,309 soldiers killed in action for France on the Eastern front during the First World War.
In autumn 1915, the French-British expedition of the Galipoli Campaign (also called the Dardanelles Campaign) intended to cut off the Turks from the Central Powers, was an Allied failure. Bulgaria entered the war in October and soon overwhelmed the Serbians. The Entente troops landed in Thessalonika, in an initially neutral Greece, divided between Entente supporters rallied around Prime Minister Vénizélos and the sympathisers of the Central Powers represented essentially by La Cour.
This front remained immobile until the offensive in Macedonia launched on 15 September 1918. General Franchet d’Espèrey then compelled Bulgaria to request an armistice, on 29 September. Belgrade was liberated on 1 November, the catalyst for the collapse of the Austrian-German forces.
In 1923, in anticipation of the clauses of the Treaty of Lausanne, the Greek authorities conceded land close to Thessalonika to the Allies as the site of an international cemetery. The French section shelters the remains of French soldiers interred in various cemeteries in Greek Macedonia and regrouped in the new cemetery. This site also regroups the temporary graves of Italian, Serbian and Commonwealth soldiers killed in action. The inter-ally cemetery of Salonika thus came into being.
The French part covers some 3,500 square metres and contains 8,309 individual burial places, of which 208 hold the bodies of unidentified men.
An Ottoman-style chapel stands in the centre of the square.
Upkeep of the Zeitenlick military cemetery is the responsibility of the Consulate General of France. Renovations were carried out in 2012.
The soldiers are honoured twice a year: during a ceremony in late September, attended by the French association "Memorial of the Eastern Front" and official representatives of the Allied powers, and then during the Armistice commemorations on 11 November 1918.
French General Consulate in Thessalonika
8, Mackenzie King
Tel: (+30) 2310 244 030/031
Fax: (+30) 2310 282839