Saturday, October 28, 2006
90 YEARS GREEK ETHNIC CLEANSING OF BULGARIANS IN AEGEAN MACEDONIA
Stoyan G.Bojadjiev, "Macedonia-press"
When looking at the destiny of enslaved Bulgarians in Aegean Macedonia and at what they have suffered during the last 90 years two curtains that tightly screen their past have to be raised.
The first curtain had been dropped by our totalitarian regime which in the name of misunderstood and foreign international interest blared forth that our relations with their enslaver Greece were perfect and that "there were no problems between the two nations and countries".
When one speaks in his or her mother tongue at home on public places and that is why is being brought into jail - this is no problem. When the children are told every day that they are pure-blooded Hellenes and are persuaded to swear before a priest that they will pronounce no word in their mother tongue any more "the language of our enemies, Bulgarians" - this is no problem! When the Phanariot priests preach God's Word in incomprehensible language - this is no problem. When one madly brave village priest reads a sermon in his mother Bulgarian tongue and that is why he is brought into jail - this is no problem! When your compatriots are denationalized, assimilated and killed off - this is also no problem!
The second curtain had been dropped by the Greek State. It is a relative of the Berlin wall and still remains untouched. This curtain-wall has wonder features: from Greece to Bulgaria it allows any Greek to pass undisturbed whenever and as many times as he wants to come to Nessebar or Pomorie to pay respect to his or her grandparents. This wall is passed when teachers from the Greek Ministry of Education want to come. They come to organize courses on Greek language for some Greek emigrants. It is passed by some dance groups which show Greek dances and songs. There is nothing easier for hundreds of Greeks than to come to Sofia and to open shop, company or bank.
Try however to pass through this wall from Bulgaria to Greece. If you travel by a luxurious tourist bus on a journey to visit the Acropolis there will not be any trouble. But if you, as a descendant of Bulgarians chased from Macedonia, try to visit Voden, Lerin, Kostour or want to see and know your relatives left there, the wall is bullet-proof. If the hounds from the Greek consulates become aware that you were born in that region or that you have relatives there the wall becomes something more than the Majino line.
Nobody ever will give you a visa. To say nothing of a permission that you could open a shop, company or bank there. I would never believe my eyes if the Nevrokop priest Natanail, in spite of the fact that he has graduated theology in Athens, gets a permission to perform even one liturgy in Bulgarian language at the Bulgarian church in Lerin while the Greek church in the Center of Sofia resounds with chants in Greek.
The aim of this booklet is to help these curtains to be pulled down so that light and fresh air could get in. Let our unhappy compatriots feel that they are at the threshold of 21 century, that Greece fulfills honestly and publicly the obligations taken with certain international contracts and convention and keeps the human rights of its citizens - our compatriots.
We want nothing more than the Greek state wants for its compatriots for example in Albania, i.e. the right to speak in their mother tongue, the right to have their own school and to have the Bulgarian orthodox church.
In the name of the future European home, of peace and understanding in the Balkans, in the name of Greek's own interests we address to the orthodox Greek people, to its intellectuals and thinking people with the appeal: We do not want any territories. We want human rights for our own brothers in Macedonia. We want democracy in Greece to be valid also for our compatriots living there.
The sooner this happens and the wall that separates us falls the better for you, for us, for the coming generations. Please, help us to build together a new, clear and smart Balkan stage of our new European home!
* * *
As it is known after the Balkan Wars 1912-1913 the biggest part of Macedonia (52%) was given to Greece. Even till 1988 the Greeks called this part of Aegean Macedonia "Northern Greece and Thrace". Since that year the province has the name "Macedonia".
The current roots of the violation of human rights of ethnic Macedonian Bulgarians in Greece are based on the events that occurred in 1913. At that time the Greek soldiers committed outrageous atrocities over the Macedonian population /see below/.
What is happening in these territories nowadays could be read in the publications of two journalists. The English journalist W. Hild in his publication "Traveling through Aegean Macedonia" tells that he has ascertained ,,brutal violence over the local population, desecration ofgraves, breaking of grave crosses inscribed with Slav letters, even erasing the graves and burning the bones". The Australian journalist Bert Birtles in his book "Exile from Aegea" published in 1938, states "Greece does not have a Jewish problem but a Macedonian one. In the name of Hellenization the local Slav minority is chased and arrested for unimportant reasons. General Metaxas' policy to inculcate his own national spirit in the Bulgarian minority brought the changing of the native Bulgarian names with Greek ones and the prohibition of speaking in mother tongue. These countrymen who did not obey his orders or those, who tried to oppose were resettled on Greek islands without any proceedings".
Very little has changed since that time. The disfranchisement of Macedonian Bulgarians from human rights is not only a memory from the 20s and the 30s of the last century. It continues even nowadays. During that time as well as nowadays the assimilation machine works on high revolutions. The surnames and family names are changed by force, communication in the mother tongue is prohibited, Bulgarian language is eliminated forever from schools and churches, the authentic names of towns, villages and countryside are Hellenisied, there are no newspapers, books and broadcasting for the local population. The folklore, the style of living, the customs and the spirit are treated as Greek.
The statements of Mr. Burtles will be confirmed by respective proofs taken from official Greek documents and published in Greek newspapers and magazines. We have the facts for the violence over the Bulgarian population in 1912-1913 thanks to the official report of the International Commission for investigating the causes for conducting of the Balkan Wars, established by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In the International Commission took part: Dr. Josef Redlich from Vienna, Baron Constant d'Estumel - Senator and Justen Godart - Deputy of French Parliament, Dr. Walter Schbcking - Professor from Marburg, Germany, Francis Hirst - editor of the Economist, Dr. H. N. Brailsford - England, Professor Milioukov - Member of Russian Parliament, Dr. Salomon Dgon - Professor from Columbia University, USA. The Carnegie Inquiry was published in English in 1914. The same report was republished again in 1994 in USA with foreword by the famous American policy expert M. Cenan.
The republishing of the book became necessary for two reasons. The first one is the higher interest in Balkan problems as consequence of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The second one is the organized destroying by the interested parties of the copies of this report in almost all big libraries all over the world.
This 415 pages report is accompanied by numerous documents and maps and with academic precision reveals the truth for the causes and the way the Balkan Wars 1912-1913 were conducted.
The objectivity of the Commission can be illustrated by a single example, namely, the storm caused in the European press by the Greek propaganda against "the Bulgarian atrocities" exerted on Greek church leaders. The report established that: ,,Unlike the Bulgarians, the Greeks welcomed most kindfy the foreign military correspondents and provided them with various information. Bulgaria was in a state of isolation and its telegraphic connections were disrupted. Thus, for example, the newspaper „ Tan " reported that the Bulgarians had hanged the Greek Bishop in the village of Doyran. But two months later we met him in person and spoke to him. A memorial service was held for the Bishop of Kavala; however, we met him some time later in Kavala. The correspondent of the above-mentioned paper also claimed to have attended the funeral of the Bishop in Seres, the latter having been put to cruel torments before being killed. (See the report of 23 July, from Livonovo.) That very Bishop was seen by us to perform his church services." (For references, see the Report, p. 78).
* * *
The tragic fate of Bulgaria, and Macedonia, respectively, was conditioned by the geopolitical interests of two empires. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had set itself the task to usurp Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Balkans in order to get an outlet on the Adriatic Sea. The same was the purpose of the Serbian Kingdom. And, instead of seeking for an extension westwards, Serbia was pushed to look for territories to the south, along the valley of the river Vardar, and with the approval of Vienna. The British Empire restored Greece which had fallen under Turkish power. In order to protect its Imperial naval routes, England directed the Greek authorities to seek for an extension to the north, at the expense of the Bulgarian Slavonic population. The purpose was to close up the road for Bulgarians towards the Aegean Sea.
With the collaboration of its protectress, Greece moved to the north, starting from Epir and Thessalia, and penetrated the Turkish Empire, establishing Greek colonies on the Bulgarian ethnic territory - both in the towns and in the seaside villages. The Greek system of state began penetrating Macedonia with the overall collaboration of the Greek Orthodox Church.
After the establishing of the Bulgarian Exarchate in 1870, a harsh struggle began between Greece and the Bulgarian community, aimed at winning over the national awareness of the population. The Greek Orthodox Church served as a weapon of the Greek propaganda. The efforts of Greek propaganda were aimed at the Bulgarian population of Central Macedonia, i.e. the region bordered by Kostour - Seres to the south and by Ochrid - Prilep - Stroumitsa - Melnik - Nevrokop to the north. Following Greece's defeat during its 1897 War with Turkey, the Bulgarian national idea took over the Greek propaganda. IMARO was successful in overcoming the Graecoman's influence.
The Ilinden Uprising of 1903 struck the public opinion in Greece. It caused panic among the Greek state authorities who saw the danger of a complete failure of their plans for conquering Macedonia. These authorities were not so much troubled by the development of the military actions but rather by the overtures made by the Great Powers for a political settlement of the Macedonian question. In order to exert ifs influence with a view to achieving an outcome positive for Greece, the Greek government decided to make use of the disastrous end of the Ilinden Uprising. The only party to win anything at all from the Uprising was Greece.
Every textbook in modern history in Greece contains a chaptered titled ,,The Macedonian Struggle".
In 1904, the Greek government of Theotokis, on the advice of London, took energetic actions in Aegean Macedonia. A special committee ("Makedoniki komitato") was established in Athens to organize armed struggle against the Bulgarian population. Four officers were sent, among them Pavlos Melas, at present a Greek national hero. The Greek Embassy was re-structured and competent diplomats were sent there. In accordance with the preliminary plan for military actions, in 1904, the first Greek armed detachment was sent to the region of Bitolya, led by the above-mentioned Pavlos Melas; however, it was defeated near Kostour. According to the plan, the rebels had to terrorize the Bulgarian population, to support the Graecomans, and to establish points of support for the new detachments coming from Greece.
Melas was replaced by A. Santouris with a new group of officers. Throughout Greece money was raised to support these detachments.
In early 1905 new detachments were recruited (from Cretes - Mani, Roumeli, etc.) which were generously endowed by the Greek government with money and armament. On the example of the organized local Bulgarian population, the Greeks created supportive local forces and, through these Graecoman's units, organized in 1906 in Salonica military groups of young Graecomans led by Lieutenant Soumatis. Their purpose was to kill eminent revolutionaries of IMARO. These activities also involved the governing bodies of the Greek Church led by the Metropolitan Bishop Germanos Karavangelis who, together with the consuls Evgeniadis and Stornaris in Salonica led the invasion of the Greeks against the Bulgarian spirit and culture in the region of Kostour. The huge amounts of money available were distributed by two banks in Salonica which were established to serve special purposes. One of the banks was to transfer the money for bribing the Turkish pashas and senior officials so that they supported the efforts of the Greeks in their struggle against the rebellious Bulgarians. In their struggle against the IMARO revolutionaries, the Greek andarts (rebels) made use of information provided by the Turkish intelligence service, and also received frequent help from the Turks. The second bank financed and assisted the Greek tradesmen throughout Macedonia, who were boycotted by the Bulgarian population.
In early 1908, the Theotokis government entrusted the leadership of the operation called ,,The Macedonian Struggle" to Colonel Danglis, and Baltatsis was appointed Chairman of "Makedoniki komitato". The commandment was taken over by the General Staff of the Greek Army. Volunteers were summoned and in the 1907-1908 period the detachments grew up to several dozens commanded by regular officers and sergeants. Unfortunately, after the crush of the Ilinden Uprising, the resistance of the defeated IMARO grew weaker, also because of the internal conflicts between the Internal Organization and the Supreme Committee. The 1908 revolution of the Young Turks put an end to "The Macedonian Struggle". The Young Turks proclaimed a general amnesty and promised equality and civil rights to all nationalities. Under these circumstances, the internal conflict between Greeks and Bulgarians ceased. The four-year-long period of struggle proved successful for the Greeks. The Greek supremacy in the southern part of Macedonia was consolidated and a strong Greek presence was established in the disputed central region of Macedonia. The morale of the local population was strengthened up. "The Macedonian Struggle" indicated quite clearly to the European powers that the Greeks in Macedonia were to be the most important factor in the future of the Ottoman Empire. This success was due to the circumstance that the struggle was carried out with the organized efforts of the Greeks of Cretes, Thessalia and other provinces, who helped the local Greek population. That battle involved the whole Greek nation, just like in the 1811 Greek Revolution and the Cretes Uprising in the late 19-th c.
According to the British histonan Douglas Denkih, yet another factor contributed for the success of "The Macedonian Battle". That was the broad- scale propaganda carried out among the local Bulgarian population by the Greek Orthodox Church. Although non-Greek speaking, groups of that population helped the Greeks as bearers of the Christian faith against the Muhammadans.
The leaders of the Greek Orthodox Church supported fervently the actions of the Greek states In order to illustrate the activities of the Greek church, a glimpse should be taken of the bitterest enemy of the Bulgarian spirit - the Metropolitan Bishop Gennanos Karavangelis. Data about this can be found in his autobiography published by the Salonica Institute for Studies on the Balkan Peninsula ("Penelopa Delta", Salonica, 1959). There it says:
1. He was the first and most fervent champion of the emergence of the andarts (Greek rebels) movement in Macedonia.
2. For 7 years (1900-1907), in his capacity as Metropolitan Bishop of Kostour, he raised the slogan "Let no Bulgarian remain".
3. Together with the officer from the Greek Army, Captain Vardas, he inspired and did everything necessary for carrying out the massacres which shook Bulgaria and the world. The word goes about the assassination of all the people at weddings in the villages of Zagorichane (region of Kostour) and Zeieniche (region of Lerin). Here is his own testimony about the massacre in Zagorichane: "The village had over 600 houses... These were the worst Bulgarians in my diocese. When Vardas decided to punish them, he wrote to me and I sent him the names of our people (agents - author's note), so that he left them alone. In the eve of 30 March 1905, he hid himself with 300 men in the forest opposite the village. Early in the morning they entered the village and began shooting... They killed the people and put their houses to fire. On that day, 79 Bulgarian were killed. Sixty people were killed in the church where a wedding was held. The bride, the bridegroom, the priest, and some other people were slaughtered. Not many of our people suffered because I had given Vardas a list of their names and they had concealed themselves..."
4. Karavangelis also used the services of hired assassins and paid 5 pounds for each chopped off head of people pointed out by the Metropolitan Bishop. In the same way, the voyvod Lazar Poptraykov, who was wounded in the Uprising, was slaughtered by the Graecoman Kote from the village of Rulya, region of Kostour. Karavangelis paid 50 pounds and put the picture of the cut head in his office.
5. As a leader of the andarts' movement, he wrote: "The Greek detachments grew continuously and increased in numbers (he mentions the names of 30 men of Cretes who were in the lead of the detachments). I kept regular touch with them through the Consulate in Bitolya and the Metropolitan Bishops. I personally met them and instructed them to kill all priests and Bulgarian teachers."
The actions of that Metropolitan Bishop - a true incarnation of the Satan - was typical of the role of the Greek Orthodox Church in the struggle against the Bulgarians in Macedonia. The Greek efforts for overtaking the territory inhabited by Macedonian Bulgarians proved successful because of the tragic outcome of the 1903 Ilinden Uprising. Our historiographic literature offers no studies in this respect.
The efforts of the Greeks to avail themselves of the defeat of the Ilinden Uprising were duly re-paid during the Balkan Wars. Greece achieved diplomatic success unexpected even by the greatest optimists, by gaining 34,603 sq. km., or 52 per cent of the whole territory of Macedonia, which comprised the richest and most fertile land which yields two or three crops annually. Thus hundreds of thousands of Macedonian patriots were pushed away and a bloody process started of Greek assimilation of the Macedonian Bulgarians who had remained in their native land.
Above 1500 scientific works exist, written by foreigners, which prove that the Slavonic population inhabiting Macedonia identifies itself as Bulgarians, and the concepts Bulgarian and Macedonian overlap and are equal in meaning. That basic tmth is suppressed and concealed by the authorities in Athens and Skopje nowadays. According to the official Turkish statistics from the year 1900, there were 1,181,336 Bulgarians, 28,702 Greeks and 700 Serbs in Macedonia. In 1912. in Vardar Macedonia existed 761 churches with 6 bishops, 833 priests, and 641 Bulgarian schools with 1013 teachers and 37,000 students. In Aegean Macedonia there were 378 Bulgarian churches with 300 priests, and 340 Bulgarian schools with 750 teachers and 19,000 students.
In 1912-1913 the Greek troops entered Aegean Macedonia as conquerors, although their history textbooks spoke about "liberation of Macedonia". These troops undertook a systematic ethnic cleansing of the conquered territories. In this respect, they preceded the Serbian racists in their actions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bulgarian people are hardly aware of the way the Greek Army liberated" Macedonia. In that respect, however, there are international documents testifying that the Greek troops, on their way into Macedonia, were not considered liberators at all. In the face of the Bulgarian population there they saw an alien people, and they behaved as occupiers to it.
On the explicit order of the newly crowned Greek King Konstantine, the town of Kukush was set on fire. In the villages of the same district 4725 Bulgarian houses were burnt down (Report of the Bulgarian Commission, p. 315). The Bulgarian houses were burnt in the villages of Negovan, Ravna, Bogorod; in the Doyran vilayet 11 villages were burnt, in Demir Hisar - 5 villages were burnt, in Seres district 5 villages were burnt, and in Gevgely region - 15 villages were burnt, etc.
According to the final data of the Commission, the Greeks had set on fire 161 Bulgarian villages with a total of 16,000 houses (see p. 315 of the above mentioned report). The population was subjected to all possible violence in order to proclaim itself Greek. All Regulations of the occupational Greek troops were published in Greek, Turkish and Jewish. Bulgarian language did not exist. The Bulgarian population was compelled to sign declarations claiming it was Greek since ancient times, but called itself ,,Bulgarian" under the influence of the Bulgarian propaganda. Other declarations claimed that up till 1903 all were Greeks but since 1903-1906 they were forced by the Bulgarian commits to claim themselves Bulgarians. Both theses ended with the same declaration that now the liberating Greek Army had come, the population wanted to receive the benevolence of ,,our great Orthodox Greek church". The Greek eusons played the role of ,,apostles" and converted the villagers with the help of the bayonets. As an example can serve the villages in the region of Kostour: Gabresh, Drenoveni, Chernovitsa, Turie, Zagoricheni, Dambeni. In the villages of Breznitsa, Gorno and Doino Nestrame all the village people were put to prison and then where released after having proclaimed themselves Greeks (p. 197). The Muhammadans from the village of Cherveny were also proclaimed Greeks, although they spoke Bulgarian, and not Greek (p. 198).
The Greek Army entered Voden in October 18-31. Ten days later the population was told: "Your tongues will be cut off if you speak Bulgarian." The property of the villagers was taken away. The churches and the schools were closed down. The Slavonic inscriptions were erased; the priests were beaten and expelled. All people of public power in the villages of Veshtitsa, Tsrmarinovi, Piskopia, and Arsen were arrested. They were told "if you want to be free, say that you are Greeks" (p. 199).
As soon as the Second Balkan War broke out, over 200 Bulgarians from that region - priests, teachers, eminent figures and wealthy people - were arrested and sent to Salonica after assaults. In the beginning of July the whole population was compelled to sign the following declaration:
"Threatened by the rebels and under the influence of the Exarchate propaganda, we became Bulgarians. Now we profess the true faith and proclaim our Hellenic nationality."
The conduct of the Turkish Army on the territory of Aegean Macedonia was in no way different in its attitude towards the Bulgarians.
In its comprehensive report comprising 410 pages, the authoritative international commission established by the Carnegie Endowment for studying the reasons for conducting the Balkan Wars presented ample and incontestable evidence for the ethnic cleansing and assaults done by the Greek Army on the territory of Macedonia which was ,,liberated", by them. Appendix No 51, p. 307 (in the English issue) presents 28 letters sent by Greek soldiers who did their military service in the 19th Regiment of the Seventh Greek Division. These letters were meant to be sent to the soldiers' families but the post was captured and so these letters became evidence for the Commission of Inquiry. Below are given some excerpts from such letters:
Attn. Mr. Sotir Papanidou
distr. Itinou, Trikala Reka
Nesto, 12 July 1913
Here, in Rondu (Brodi) I took as captives five Bulgarians and a girl from Seres... I killed the girl. And I gouged the eyes of the Bulgarians while they were still alive.
Sincerely yours, Kosta
The Bulgarian border, 11 July 1913
Dear brother Mitso,... we put to fire every Bulgarian village from Seres to the border...
Jonnah Hristo Tsigaridis
Attn. Mr. Zaharia Kalivanis
Erfos - Milinotamos - Crates
Weput to fire every Bulgarian village we occupied, and we killed all Bulgarians we met.
S. Z. Kalivanis
The Bulgarian border, 12 July 1913
Even the cats could not escape wherever we passed. We put to fire every Bulgarian village on our way.
Your loving brother: corp. George
Mr. Demetrius Tsigarida
I was given 16 captives to take to the division. And I bought there only two of them. I killed the rest in the darkness.
Attn. Georgi Karka
1st Dept. Sanitary Corps
Argiroastro - Epir, 12 July 1913
Dear brother Georgi,
On the King's orders, we put to fire every Bulgarian village. We rape every Bulgarian woman we meet.
Regards, Nikos Zarvas
14 July 1913
Mr. Arisidi Tanasia Kampiati,
Municipality of Antama,
... We put the villages to fire and we kill the Bulgarians - women and children.
of Crates 12th Company
Attn. Corp. M. N. Logiadi - Aestroviki - Epir
We had a small combat near Strouma with refugees from Kukush and Lahna. Our guns smashed them into pieces on their way (while they were running away - author's note)
In conclusion, the International Commission claimed:
,,The documents in the possession of the Commission allow to state that there has been a policy of assimilation of the Bulgarian population in Southern Macedonia. The methods of assimilation and physical extinction have been applied systematically and without any humanness" (p. 186).
THE CHASING OF MACEDONIAN BULGARIANS AFTER 1919
After the Nei treaty was signed in 1919, according to article 56 of the same agreement Bulgaria was forced to sign the convention for free repatriation . The protocols, signed in Geneva in September 1924, in which the Bulgarian minority in Greece was placed under the supervision of the United Nations, could not be executed, because the Greek Parliament did not ratify them. An intensive chasing of the Bulgarians from Aegean Macedonia started. Ruthless terror and slaughtering of Bulgarian population took place. For example, in 1924 the Greek officer Doksaniks gave orders for the 19 local villagers, captured and brought to the district administration in the town of Ser, to be shot oh the road between Turnlis and Gorno Brodi. That was followed by countless executions of Bulgarians, refusing to be expatriated to Bulgaria. We will not mention all of the cases, because this shall be done in addition. We would like only to stress the fact that the blood of the Macedonian Bulgarians was shed again during the
Our compatriots became victims of the Greek Communist Party, that was manipulating and lying to our compatriots that it would recognize their minority status, if they fought on its side. This manipulation was done in full coordination with the bolshevik governors of Skopje and Belgrade - Aleksandar Rankovich, Milovan Djilas, Lazar Kolishevski, Tzvetko Uzunov, Michajlo Apostolski and Paskal Mitrevski. On October 14th, 1946 they stated the password ,,Now you will go down (to Aegean Macedonia). The leader of your struggle will be the Greek Communist Party". This party got down to work and organized by force the whole Bulgarian population till the end of 1947. The ones, born in 1930-1931, were also mobilized to fight in the war, although they had not yet reached 17 years. In 1948 that party mobilized the whole population - men and women in the so called assisting units for digging trenches, fortifications etc., e.g. total mobilization of the whole population of Aegean Macedonia was carried out. The blood of our compatriots was ruthlessly shed for the accomplishment of foreign ideals. They were told that their national rights would be recognized.
This war took 30 to 40 victims from every village. The total number of Macedonian victims was 20000 persons. The supreme commander was the commander of the partisans Markos who said to the ,,Epikera" newspaper journalist: ,,We kill Slavs to keep Macedonia in Greece". His statement provided him with a visa for his return to Greece (see ,,New Macedonia" newspaper from February 25th, 1992). In September 1988 the Secretary General of the Greek Communist Party said in Thessaloniki that for the Greek Communist Party there is no Macedonian minority in Greece.
According to Greek Encyclopedia (Athens 1934), volume 1, page 405 and volume 16, page 532, on the basis of the Nei Treaty, the Kalafov-Politis protocol and the Molotov-Kafandaris Treaty from 1928, during the period 1913-1932 72000 Macedonian Bulgarians were resettled from Aegean Macedonia. That is only one part of the deported population. According to the Sever Treaty Greece has assumed the following international obligations concerning the minority groups in Greece:
a) Equality regarding the other nations in the field of protection of life, freedom, civil and political rights,
b) Free use of mother tongue, other than Greek, in the private and public life,
c) Right to their own humanitarian organizations, churches, schools, and
d) the Government of the state in question must provide education in their language.
According to volume 10, page 405 of the same Encyclopedia from 1928 as a result of the accommodation of the Greek immigrants from Asia Minor, the composition of the population in Aegean Macedonia was changed and was reduced to 81 000 Slav speaking persons in the districts of Voden, Lerin, Kostour and Kozani. According to the Manual of the Greek Statistical Bureau from 1934, 81 984 persons speaking Slav language lived in Greece and 16 775 - speaking Bulgarian. These numbers were used to show the loyalty of the obligations assumed by Article 7 of the Sever Treaty, according to which the country is obliged to provide civil and political rights of the Greek citizens irrespective of their nationality or religion. In order to mislead the international organizations the Greek Ministry of education gave orders to a commission to publish a primer book for Macedonian children, named Abecedar. The book was written with Latin letters, using the dialect of Lerin-Bittolya. It remained only an unfinished project, because the obligatory education in Greek language was introduced in the schools.
On October 11, 1930 the Greek Prime Minister Elefteros Vanizelos made the following statement:
,,The issue of the Macedonian minority in Greece will be solved and I will be the first in Greece, who will engage himself to open of Macedonian schools if that is requested by the people".
Of course, these were only words and actions to mislead the foreigners.
1. ,,Eliniki Makedoniki Pigmi" - organization, fighting against Bulgarians. On January 26-27, 1926 the organization published the following regulation: ,,As from today we ban the use of Bulgarian dialect in allpublic places, in institutions, in trade relations, on meetings and gatherings, on festivities, receptions, weddings, etc. We order that the Greek language be spoken in all above stated cases. Police officers, authorities and governmental officials are not to speak with citizens in any other language but Greek".
2. During the dictatorship of Metaxas a law was passed that forbids the use of the dialect that's the way Bulgarian language was called. Here is an example:
The public prosecutor in the village of Kato Idzura (Doino Kotari), based on the Articles 143-145 of the Criminal procedures, summons Georgus Jovanis Mitrusis, citizen of Polipotamos village (Nere) to appear personally in the court hall on May 15th, 1939, Monday, at 9.00 A.M., to be put on trial because on February 19, this year was caught speaking with another person in Slav language - thus violating Article 697 of the Criminal Law and in reference to the instruction of the police No. 15/36. In case the person named above doesn't come he will be tried in absentia.
Polipotamos Public prosecutor:
April 4, 1939 (Signature illegible)
During the period 1936-1940 about 5 250 Macedonian Bulgarians were prosecuted for using Bulgarian language on public places.
3. On September 9th, 1946 the commander of the National Guard in the village of Polipotamos issued the following announcement:
,,As from today I most strictly forbid all of the citizens from age of 2 to 50 years to use any other language but Greek."
4. In the Aegean Macedonian schools the students, using Bulgarian language are punished as following:
- by pricking on the tongue with needle.
- by taking by force of castor-oil
- by feeding by force with salted fish, salted herring, after which the drinking of water is not permitted.
5. The Greek newspaper ,,Katimerini" from August 11th 1959 stated: ,,A celebration was held out in the village of Atropos (Karpeshina, - Lerin), at which the inhabitants gave an oath that they will not speak any more in their Slav dialect in the future."
6. ,,Elenikos Voras" newspaper from August 11th, 1959 informed of the same ,,event":
,,The inhabitants of Atrapos - men, women and children by raising their right hand repeated the oath which was read by the mayor:
I promise before God, the people, and official state authorities that from today I shall stop speaking the Slav dialect, which only serves as a motive for incorrect interpretation by our enemies, the Bulgarians, and that always and everywhere I shall speak only the official language of my fatherland, the Greek language in which the Holy Bible of our Jesus Christ was written."
These reports were published also in the following Greek newspapers: ,,Elinikos Voras" Thessaloniki, 4.8.1959; ,,Vima" - Athens, 78.7.1959; ,,Elpheteria" - Athens, 7.7.1959; Elinikos Voras, 8.8.1959
The persecution of the Bulgarian language was the priority task. But other activities of Bulgarian national consciousness were also persecuted:
1. Prohibition for the use of local folk dances
- ,,Stohos" newspaper, 16.4.1987: ,,We made a list of all persons, singing in a dialect (e.g. Bulgarian) at fairs, weddings, etc.
Do not sing in another language or „ idiom " but Greek, because you will curse the day you were born. "
- ,,Stohos" newspaper - 21.8.1986; In the publication: ,,The perfect danced in the rhythm of horo on the sounds ,,Free Macedonia" and,,Eleno, girl, Eleno" is mentioned that on Ascension Day in the village of Atrapos the perfect danced ring dance in the rhythm of Macedonian Slav Songs and appeals as follows:
„... Speaking and singing on any other language but Greek is not allowed. Cut their tongues off so we can save Greece".
- ,,Mahitis" newspaper - 6.8.1987 - There was a wedding with folk music in the village of Melitis (Vostarevo). Four cars with members of KIP (Greek Intelligence) blocked the wedding from all sides and recorded the music sind the speaking of the wedding.
- ,,Stohos" newspaper - 5.7.1990 - In the information about the wedding of the granddaughter of Kostidis (Kacibanov) the newspaper is fascinated that this was the only wedding on which Slav songs were not sung.
DESTROYING THE GRAVES OF LOCAL POPULATION
With the aim to wipe out any evidence for the existence of Slav minority the newspaper ,,Stohos" from 13.08.1987 writes:
,,Search well around and whenever you see in a village or in a city a grave with Slav idols - destroy it! Do not be afraid. If someone tries to stop you tell him that the nation has ordered it. Place Greece, Orthodoxy and the Armed Forces in your hearts! You are Greek! Do not forget it".
From an article in ,,Ta Moglena" newspaper, May-June 1989 can be clearly seen which other rights the local population was deprived. The article is published under heading ,,Why".
- Why files with our /Slavonic/ names are opened every day;
- Why they part us and do not promote us on important posts?;
- Why the Macedonians do not reached the ranks of ,,general"?;
- Why Macedonians are not promoted for Secretary General and Prefects Macedonian?;
- Why they do not become Macedonian Bishops or priests?;
- Why recently there is a tremendous exile and the Macedonian employees are moved from their offices?
Referring this it gives the local country men the following advice: ,,To be able to keep yourself you have to be informed. If you see ,,BMW" or Mercedes cars stopped in front the cafe you have to know that these are the gorillas of KIP and EUP /Intelligence services of Greece/, so be careful what you speak in this cafe".
In the first issue and unfortunately the last one of the published in Greek ,,Zora" newspaper from October 1993 (an attempt for publishing a paper for protection of Bulgarian population in Lerin region) there is an article ,,Inquire of the Minister of Finance and Agriculture" in which the fact is revealed that about 300 ha of land belonging to the ,,St. Pantaleimon" community is distributed without any lawful grounds among Greeks coming from USSR (Pontian Greeks). At the meeting between the countrymen and the Lerin prefect they received the following astonishing answer: ,,Let them take not only your land but your houses as well and I will do nothing because these people - citizens ofVetora village are Pontian Greeks andyou are Slavofons. Go to search your rights in Skopje and Sofia".
,,Niki" newspaper from 9.3.1946 published an article under the title: ,,Let the terror against Slavo-Macedonians stop": "So, with the arrival of the National Guard in our District, more than three thousand Slavo-Macedonians were arrested. Over one thousand were brought into court with the stereotype accusation of being member of the OHRANA and most of them were sentenced to death, long term imprisonment and confiscation of property. Over 500 rotted in the four jails in Florina, Casandra and Salonica. More than four thousand persecuted and terrorized abandoned their homes and families and were forced to run abroad. Many families in Banica, Aminteo and others were thrown out of their homes. The property of hundreds of families was confiscated. The chasing squadrons hounded the Slavo-Macedonians. They were arrested without a reason, were tortured until they were unconscious and then loaded on mules were taken to the prisons. Whole villages like Rigono, Oksia, Nanica, Setina, Trijantafilija and others were thrown in the jails and brought into courts for cooperation with the Bulgarians."
Several more important acts, depriving the citizens of Aegean Macedonia of Greek citizenship and property during the years 1946-1949.
1. Decree No.LZ/47 from 1947 with headline: ,,To deprive of Greek citizenship persons who act anti-nationally". By this decision all persons, supporting ,,the Democratic army of the Greek Communist party" were deprived of Greek citizenship.
2. Decree M/48 with legal power from January 198 for "confiscation of the entire or part of the property of the participants in the guerilla war and their assistants".
3. Decree No.48 from April 1948 for "losing property due to anti-state activities".
In the following years many decrees were passed, such as Nos. 944, 258, 800 from April 3 and July 20th 1951, for the application of Decree No.976/46 for repatriation of the persons, living near the borders. Later new laws were adopted, because these were considered insufficient.
The Minister of the National Education and Religion considering
a) the provisions of Article 46 of the Law No. 1238/82;
b) Decision No. 1/5421: proclaims that the diplomas of ,,St. Cyril and Metodius" University in Skopje are not recognized by the Ministry.
According to the denationalization policy, adopted in 1913, the use of Macedonian names was forbidden. The names received the typical Greek endings or were changed entirely. The use of the word ,,macedonian" was forbidden in order to avoid the possibility for claiming another ethnocultural identity than the Greek one.
Until several years ago Aegean Macedonia was officially called "Northern Greece" and only since August 1988 in the existing new circumstances has adopted the name ,,Macedonia". In the Greek state newspaper ,,Efimeriostis Kivemistos", issue 332 from November 21,1926 was published the law for obligatory change of the names of all of the villages and the towns, as well as the names of the rivers, mountains and regions. That way 588 towns and villages received names totally different from the Slav names that had existed for more than 12 centuries. The perfidious purpose of that action was the family memory to be razed to the ground.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR ASSIMILATION
Always regarding the more effective denationalization a number of well-considered measures have been undertaken. The consecution of these measures could be seen on the confidential document of the Greek Ministry of the Interior that we submit in the part concerning the measures which are recommended:
Republic of Greece
Ministry of public peace
National security service
Post Address: Katehaki and Gudi
Minutes N 650217-50428
After making in 6 chapters a full analysis of the situation in Aegean Macedonia the Ministry makes the following recommendations:
The activity for Free Macedonia could be successfully opposed through elimination of the language in this region. This proves that in Kostour where the use of the local language is fully eliminated this activity is entirely dead.
It is necessary for the following to be done:
1. A special state representative with relevant skills to work only on this matter. He will be independent from the Intelligence Service and will cooperate with inspectors, schools, the military, churches, etc.
2. In the State Departments only persons who do not know the local language to be appointed. The same is also valid for the schools.
3. Special workshops to be organized for all state officials and priests who work in this delicate region - Macedonia.
4. A permanent sojourn of state and other officials to be provided securing them with allowances, exemption from taxes, etc.
5. A branch of the cultural organization ,,Aristotelis" to be built in Lerin and to be financially supported for publishing books, papers, journals which to strengthen the national feeling.
6. Special obstacles to be created for those who would like to go to school to Skopje like no recognition of diplomas, no deferment of call up etc.
7. In every village, to be found persons who for payment of wage will struggle against usage of'the local dialect. These should be people having large connections and influence over the local population.
8. The persons who are members of the military forces, intelligence service, state authorities and organizations, born in this region (Lerin) to be moved to other regions of the country.
9. The military management to stimulate the acquaintances and marriages of officers from this region and other regions of Greece with Women from local villages where the local dialect is spoken.
Republic of Greece
Security Service in Salonica
Republic of Greece
Security Service in Salonica
1. "A", "C" and "D"
2. All security departments in Salonica 08.03.1982 Salonica
All for reaching the planned goal - the mother tongue to be forgotten - in 1980 a regulation was issued charging the parents to bring their children 3-4 years old to go to the so-called "Integrated Kinder Gardens" solely in order to prevent learning the mother tongue since the early childhood. Such regulation was not applied in other Greece regions.
The battle field of the Greek Civil War 1945-1949 was the Northern part of Aegean Macedonia. So to be saved hundreds of people escaped to the mountains and the children aged between 2 and 14 years age were evacuated by the Humanitarian international organizations into neighboring countries and later settled in all over the world after growing up. I personally have met such compatriots even in Central Asia at the Free market in Tashkent. The war ended long time ago but the refugees stay even now far away from their homeland. Their parents and friends live in Greece but they can not meet their children because for the ,,ethnic Macedonian child" refugees repatriation is forbidden by a special law.
On December 28, 1982 the Greek parliament passed Law 106841 which allows only ,,Greeks by origin" to repatriate to Greece.
On April 10, 1985 the Greek Government passed Law 1540/ 85 which deals with the return of property of Greek emigrants after the Civil War. Their property confiscated meanwhile can be returned to all Greek emigrants but only if they are ,,Greek by origin". The goal which is pursued is clear: The children grown up abroad neither have right to repatriate to Greece nor to inherit their parents nor to receive property left by them. This legislation breaks the resolutions accepted by UN.
On November 27, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations passed resolution 193(111)
- The General Assembly recommends the return to Greece of Greek children at present away from their homes when the children, their fathers or mothers, or in his or her absence their closest relatives express a wish to that effect;
- Invites all the Members of the United Nations and other States on whose territory these children are to be found to take the necessary measures for implementation of the present recommendation;
- Instructs the Secretary-General to request the International Committee of the Red Cross and the League of Red Cross Crescent Societies to organize and ensure liaison with the National Red Cross organizations to adopt measures in the respective countries for implementing the present recommendation;
Why the Greek Government refuses 46 years already to implement this Resolution? Because these already grown up children would speak in their mother tongue, Bulgarian, instead of Greek. And this is absolutely unacceptable for the long term Greek denationalizing policy because the entire Greek policy is based on lies, terror, frauds and the delusion for the „Hellenic origin" of Macedonian Bulgarians will crash.
My personal acquaintance Christo Lagadinov sent us from USA a letter which had been published also in the "Macedonian tribune" newspaper published in Fort Wayhe town, No. 3157 from November 4, 1993. In this letter this suffered and hero Bulgarian writes ,,In 1948 I and five fellows were in the most awful camp in Macronisio island. We had been used as brick-setters in the kitchen on the port.
One early morning a small ship arrived from which 50 boys between 13 and 17 were forced off. Everybody brought a basket or a bag with his old clothes. The camp commandant- the bloodsucker colonel Toma Silu started his speech: We brought you here for re-educating. You are children of Mother Hellene and everybody must sign a declaration that he is not ,,Bulgarico guriny" (Bulgarian swine) but is aproud Orthodox Greek". As if by miracle all children answered in chorus ,,We are Bulgarian" . The commandant tried more time again promising liberty and good meal but all children struck up again „We are Bulgarian". Then the commandant started crying like mad: "0li sti talassa" (Everybody into the sea). They were thrown stones at. Half an hour later the commandant ordered them to come out but not all,children came out some of them were drowned. Still the same night the children had been put to terrible tortures. This went on for 10 more days, then they went on board half-dead to be moved to a hospital in Athens. Before that the children had taken down different sharp objects like forks, knives, etc. in order to kill themselves. These children were from the Kostour region.
THE STRUGGLE AGAINST THE BULGARIAN CHURCH
There were 378 Bulgarian churches with 300 priests in Aegean Macedonia. Enemy No.1 of the fighting Greek phanariots was the Bulgarian Orthodox church. The leading role played by the Greek church in winning the so-called "Macedonian Struggle" was stated above.
As early as July 31 1913, the Governor of Kostour invited the Head of the Bulgarian Orthodox church and all priests and told them about the Greek Government order that they were to leave Greek territory within 48 hours. The expelled priests, all born in Macedonia, were presented with a document which stated that they were returning to Bulgaria because they were Bulgarians. ,,There cannot be Bulgarians in Greek Macedonia! any more" /,,Report..... " p.199/
On July 3 and 4 1913, 200 Bulgarian priests and teachers were arrested and sent to the Thessaloniki prison. On June 30 the last Bulgarian church was confiscated and occupied. All icons of ,,St. Cyril and Metodius" were either burnt or covered with manure. Most of the priests were sent in exile on various Greek islands. Their ups and downs are described in the ,,Mir" newspaper from October 30 1913 /,,Report....... " p.199/
At present there are no Bulgarian churches in Macedonia and no place where a divine service is carried in Bulgarian. It is made clear below what is the attitude of the Greek state towards any attempt to deliver Gods words in the local Slavo Bulgarian language.
Archimandrite Nikodim is a Macedonian Bulgarian, who graduated theology in Athens and was appointed for a reverend in a Salonica village. There he carries the services in Slav language, as the majority of the villagers speak Bulgarian. This brought over him the hatred of the bishop who fired him. Here is the full text of the declaration of this notable human rights fighter.
,,I have lived in Greece since my birth in the village of Aridea /Subotsko/, in Northern Greece. In 1975 after completing my theological studies at Athens University, I began to preach the word of God. My religious beliefs gave me the strength to withstand all the trials and tribulations which I had to endure as an activist for human rights of Macedonian people in Greece. This is the country where I was born and a country where even the basic human rights concerning the ethnic minorities are not observed. I became an open fighter for human rights since 1980, but our movement for rights for the Macedonians had started in the 70's. As a young man I witnessed of the humiliation and discrimination of the Macedonian people by the Greek authorities. I must state that the bishops of Lerin and Voden were people appointed by the Military Junta which governed Greece from 1967 to 1974. The bishop of Lerin, Agostinos is still in office as of this day. Since my colleagues and I made an open demand for the recognition of the Macedonian language, culture and ethnic identity, we were subjected to abuses and defamation of a most abominable kind. Our telephones were tapped. There was no place where we could take our grievance since this was the official policy. Although Greece has signed some humanitarian international conventions, the respective commission, where one can appeal, has still not been established.
In 1980, when I was a village priest in a village nearLerin and openly stated my belief that Macedonians should be given basic rights, bishop Agostinos had me expelled from the diocese, stating in public that I was an ,,agent of Skopje", ,,autonomist" and ,,enemy of Greece" and other similar lies.
In 1981 as a priest in Kukush for sturdy work in the name of God Ibuilt a church in the village of KukushI I was promoted by the bishop Ambrosinos to the rank of archimandrite. In 1983 the secret police /KIP/ managed through pressure over the same bishop to. convince him to shift me over to some more remote place in old Greece. This decision was annulled since my fellow villagers made a massive demonstration. In 1988 I received an honour award from the bishop Ambrozias, since during this year we have completed and inaugurated the church ,,Agios Atanasios" /village of Boriani/ in the village with the same name. This was a church made possible by my activity from idea to its realization. Thank God, that my fellow villagers stood with their wisdom by me. In October 1989 the Secret police chief visited me with a proposition to cooperate with the police concerning the Macedonian question and so I would be promoted to the rank of bishop. If I refused, I would be publicly overthrown and killed. Immediately I told all this to the "Proti" newspaper /liberal-progressive/, which supported me. The Secret police did not bother me again. But rumours about immoral doings on my side were spread along with faked pictures of these doings. These manoeuvers are known to the world and my people knew they were fabricated.
In March 1992 the newly arrived bishop in Kukush Apostolus had me removed from my parish without any explanation. I have been since then without work and parish. It is now that I understand that I am fired and removed forever.
There is much more I may add about the Macedonian minority in Greece. God is my witness that I tell the truth about the things that have happened to me.
I want to say it aloud before the world that I do not wish to become a political outcast or runaway, since I wish to continue my just fight together with my Macedonian brothers and sisters in the place where it is most needed. "
It becomes evident from this declaration what is the attitude of the Greek authorities towards the use of the mother language in local churches and how Greek authorities act against anyone who dares to fight for his right accepted by international conventions.
The harassment against Father Nikodim continues even today. Before finishing the manuscript of this book we have learned that the public prosecutor of Thessalonika has issued an accusation note against father Nikodim and his aide Foti /Fotos Tzelepis/ because when they have learned that the Kukush bishop was going to hold a service in the village church, father Nikodim has said to the villagers: ,,You have to show him that you do not want him and not let him in the church." When the bishop after all came and started the service, father Nikodim took the microphone from his hand and the service carried out in Greek was interrupted.
Father Nikodim is accused also for encouraging 30-40 people from the village Agios Atanasios /Boliyari/ to place a tractor in front of the church door and with it or with their bodies to stop the bishop from entry the church. A strong police squad was used to make this entering possible. The Thessaloniki prosecutor, Dimitrius Papageorgiu has started another prosecutor case. Accused is also the aide Fotius Tzelepis as an accomplice. The accusation is based on articles 240, 320 and 321 from the Greek Criminal code.
The Greek Orthodox Church continues to play its leading role in debulgarization. As in the beginning of the century, now at its end, it is the carrier of the Greek ,,megali idea" in the sphere of intellectual life. Still encouraged today by the memory of Germanos Karavangelis /see above/ who directly or indirectly destroyed physically hundreds of our fellow countrymen in the region of Kostour.
The Greek movie director Georgios Angelopulos decided to film a documentary about the life of people in Aegean Macedonia and precisely the day-to- day life of the people living in Lerin. A scene was shot that showed locals coming out of church service. They did not hide their Slavic identity, because of which the bishop of Lerin Agostinos Kantiotis expelled from the church all the villagers that on the question why they were not speaking Greek but Slavic, said that they were not Greeks but Macedonians. One of the expelled, Konstantin Papalazaridis, died because of ,,this shame". A funeral service and burial was refused for him. The bishop secretary told in public that: ,,Thus will be with everyone who took part in the film, that did not repent and did not receive pardon from the bishop." At the same time all local priests were given an order not to enter the homes and not to carry any religious services for the people that stood before the camera.