Saturday, October 28, 2006
The Political Situation Prior to the Appearance of the Campaign Committees
To understand the role and the place of the campaign committees, why they appear in such form and nature on the historical stage, what circumstances and reasons made them come to life, one should be reminded some moments from the situation on the Balkans in the beginning of 1941.
The population in Macedonia was unprecedentedly torn in bigger and smaller groups. For that various linguistic-groups the Serbian rulers had taken good care. But the guilt was not only theirs. There is still animosity between Protogerovists and Mihaiiovists. Serbian national socialistic organizations as Chetnik, the organization of the retired officers, the organization of the pensioners and the Sokol organization existed also until the beginning of .the war. All of them suppressed and dispersed the Bulgarian population with the aim to make them Serbs. In Macedonia operated propagandists of the Great Powers who wanted to attract the population on their side promising to resolve the Macedonian question. So the English propaganda was led by Serbian clerks and the army. The French propaganda was led by the teacher in the French school Dr. Louise D. Voos. The Italian propaganda for accession to Italy was also well organized with the assistance of the locals. The Greek propaganda was well developed. The Greeks and their followers were tolerant to the Serbian (Yugoslav) authorities. Serb, Greek and Bulgarian followers of the Greeks worked together for their mutual cause - the English. The Turkish propaganda led by Akif Alilov was faithful to the Serbian authority and together they planted the Anglophile and the Francophile policy. Even one of the most insignificant groups in Macedonia led by Dr. Simeon Berber worked for the annihilation of the Bulgarian spirit. The Jews group, that enumerated several thousand people affiliated with the ruling Serbs, carried out propaganda in favour of the democratic countries".1
All show how complicated was the situation of that time in Macedonia. The political sympathies were intertwined with the national feelings. As a rule the non-Bulgarian elements were for the English-French block and the Bulgarians - for the power of axis. Besides, some of the former revolutionary activists were not far from the thought of solving the Macedonian question through accession of Macedonia or parts of it to Italy. The followers of Ivan Mihaylov fought for the independence of Bulgarian Macedonia. In this situation the Bulgarian population was divided in different groups. It was powerless and without faith. Everybody ,,pulled the rug to himself". And time was crucial. The situation changed dynamically.
On January 4, 1941 Bogdan Filov was on the audience with Hitler and Ribentrop. The Germans insisted Bulgaria to join in the pact quickly as possible. They promised a guarantee against all complications in international aspect. If Bulgaria entered the axis it would have their assistance for taking the Aegean Sea region. Bogdan Filov asked about Macedonia as well. The Germans however firmly refused. They convinced him that it was impossible everything to be solved at once, that some things should be left to the future generations. Of course that was due to the fact that Yugoslavia was ready to enter the axis. That was why the Bulgarian government did not ask for Macedonia again and accepted the thought that Bulgaria had to enter the pact despite that the liberation of Macedonia was not ensured.2
On March 1, 1941 in Belvedere Palace a protocol for the accession of Bulgaria to the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo axis was signed. There was not a word about Macedonia in the protocol. On March 25 the same year the government of Tsvetkovich-Machek integrated Yugoslavia to the pact. On the next day in the Serbian towns appeared demonstrators with slogans against the pact. Demonstrations with similar slogans were held in Skopje but they were rather feeble. The Bulgarian population here regarded the eventual defeat of Yugoslavia as the only way to the liberation. The Anglophile Serbian intelligentsia preferred to be loyal to patrons from Versailles and completed a state coup with Dushan Simovich in the lead.3
The declaration of the new government and its denouncement of the Triparty Pact was the reason Yugoslavia to be treated as an enemy by Germany. Hitler made a decision to attack Yugoslavia simultaneously with the raid in Greece. This created conditions the Bulgarian question for Macedonia to be brought up. On April 8 a telegram from Berlin was received, in which was proposed to Bulgaria three divisions to occupy Serbian Macedonia and to administer it so that the German troops remain free.4
The military operations against Yugoslavia started on April 6, 1941. On April 10 Zagreb fell, on April 13 - Belgrade. On April 15 the seventeen years old King Petar II and the government emigrated in Greece and from there to Egypt. On April 17 - only for 11 days - the artificial Versailles creation endured serious defeat.5 Kingdom Yugoslavia, that dungeon for the nations, fell apart in several days as a result of its military failures as well as because of the unwillingness of the peoples and the national minorities to live under "one roof" in the Versailles state community, that symbolized social exploitation, denationalization and assimilation,. Great Serbian chauvinism and hegemonism.6
The Bulgarian population in Macedonia met with open joy the defeat of Kingdom Yugoslavia. It saw in it the end of the 23 years of enslavement. That is why it was not surprising that the Bulgarians from Vardar Macedonia, mobilizated in the Yugoslav army refuse to fight.7 Similar was the situation in the World War I when the Macedonian Bulgarians forcibly mobilized in the Serbian army in large numbers surrendered to the Austro-Hungarian army.
On April 18, 1941 the Bulgarian government received a telegram from Ribentrop in which specified the regions to be taken by the Bulgarian army units. According to this telegram the Bulgarian units could occupy: l) Western Thrace, limited by the dividing line of Moustafa Pasha (todays Svilengrad) - Kiupriuliu-Dedeagach as well as Eastern Macedonia - between Strouma and Mesta rivers. 2)Vardar Macedonia - to the river Vardar and the Western Territories (Zapadni Pokrainini) - to the line Pirot-Vrania-Skopje. Ribenstrop's telegram said that the line was temporary, i.e. that it could be moved to the west of the river Vardar as well. Berlin promised soon to start negotiations about the interim settlement of the territorial issues, arisen from the dissolution of Yugoslavia which actually happened. The movement of the Bulgarian army started in Vardar Macedonia on April 19, and in the Aegean region - on April 20.8
The independent state of Croatia was established in the territory of Versailles Yugoslavia Part of the Croatian seaside, Monte Negro and Dalmatia were taken by Italy. The Reich took Northern Slovenia with the town of Maribor. Southern Slovenia was occupied by Italy. Serbia was put under the direct control of Germany. Hungary received Bachka, Barania, Intermurie and Crossmurie. Bulgaria got back Tsaribrod, Bossilegrad, Pirot, Vrania and 4/5 of the territory of Vardar Macedonia, The remaining 1/5 - the western part with the towns of Tetovo, Gostivar, Debur, Kichevo, Storuga and some villages south from Ohrid - were occupied by Italy.9
The fast advancement of the German army in Macedonia created a possibility for rejection of the hated Serbian and Greek regime in the region. The lack of Bulgarian troops and authority led to a certain political vacuum in which appeared the campaign committees. The idea for the creation of similar committees did not appear at once. It was born during talks between some of the representatives of the former Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), (united). Those were the famous Pavel Shatev, Alexo Martoulkov, Hristo Ampov, Stephan Stephanov and Vassil Hadzhikimov. The break of World War II on September I, 1939 inspired the whole Bulgarian community, at the first place the refugees from the occupied parts, to seek ways for the liberation of Macedonia. The time was dynamic and everyday new things happened. On March 1 it became obvious that this time Bulgaria would try to solve the national question with the help from Germany. On March 27 as a result of the coup of General Simovich, Yugoslavia left the Thiparty Pact. The above members of the former IMRO (united) started more frequently to meet and exchange thoughts about the future of the occupied territories. Their meeting point was the Tsar Osvoboditel coffee shop and the confectionery ,,Ohrid". The main theme was what to be done about the Bulgarian cause in Macedonia. According to them the followers of Mihailov would strive for independent Macedonia and the followers of Gerov - for Macedonia in the limits of Yugoslavia. The latter would lead to needless complications if not to fratricides.10
In the course of the talks it became obvious that the task of organizing the Bulgarian population in .Macedonia had to be assigned to two energetic people - Stephan Yanakiev Stephanov and Vassil Dimitrov Hadzhikimov. The two of them had endured the unbearable terror in Vardar Macedonia. Both of them had suffered and would suffer in future for the freedom of their native land.
Vassil Dimitrov Hadzhikimov was born on October 29. 1903 in one of the biggest strongholds of Bulgarian spirit in Macedonia - Shtip's area Novo Selo. There every home gave at least one famous revolutionary. Every home gave a sacrifice for the liberation of Macedonia - at first from Turkish and later from Serbian rule. His mother was a student of Gotse Delchev, when he was a teacher in Shtip. Even more - the house of Hadzhikimov was near to the house where the famous revolutionary used to live. In the Shtip's area Novo Selo the men rarely died out of natural death. So there was no wonder that Hadzhikimov grew as a tireless fighter for the liberty of Macedonia. His life - from the youth - started in Yugoslavia. There he graduated a Serbian high school. As an eight grade student he became -a member of the Yugoslav Communist Party (YCP). The police arrested him for spreading the book ,,Land to the Peasants - Macedonia to the Macedonians" from Kosta Novakovich. After some time he started disapproving the position of Yugoslav Communist Party about the national question and became a member of the Macedonian Youth Secret Revolutionary Organization (MYSRO). In it Hadzhikimov worked until 1925 when he went to Bulgaria and joined IMRO (united). In Sofia he studied law for four years. And besides he enrolled and finished the Open University, “Consulate” specialty."
Stephan Yanakiev Stephanov was born in Kratovo. He graduated law and worked as a lawyer in Skopje. In the case against the students in Skopje in 1927 he defended the accused students from MYSRO. After the process Stephanov was attacked and beaten by Serbian volunteers. He went to Zagreb but the Yugoslav police arrested him under false pretence. He was sent to Belgrade, but managed to escape in Austria from where after some time he went to live in Bulgaria. He maintained close relations with the activists of IMRO. Stephanov spoke German and French, After the closing of the BCC he worked as a clerk in Skopje.12
The plan developed by Stephan Stephanov and Vassil Hadzhikimov consisted of the following: they consider that the conditions might force Bulgaria not to participate in the war for the liberation of Macedonia. In that case their task would be to lead the struggle for the autonomy of Macedonia. The Germans were not strangers to the idea of creating a new Macedonia under their patronage. They needed it mostly for the good communication Nish-Skopje-Salonica and because of the ore deposits. The second task was to prepare the people react if the question to which country Macedonia should be integrated was raised - to Bulgaria, Serbia (Yugoslavia), Greece, Albania or Germany the people to be prepared for actions, demonstrations, petitions and manifestations for accession to Bulgaria.
That political goal could be achieved only if two main tasks were accomplished: abolishing the Serbian and Greek police machine in Vardar and Aegean Macedonia; unification of the people in one organization. Both of them considered the second task most important and basic. The practice later proved that the old machine could be relatively easily destroyed with the entering of the Germans. The established campaign committees took the administrative power, but the unification of the people, who for one reason or another were forced to serve to the Serbian (Yugoslav) administration, turned out to be a hard, despite not unaccomplishable task.
Yugoslavia was defeated in short terms and dissolved. Negotiations were held on governmental level for the accession of Macedonia to Bulgaria. Under the changed political situation Stephanov and Hadzhikimov decided that their task would be reduced to formation of a Central Committee (CC) with a network of committees -in towns and villages - where they should take power and announce accession to Bulgaria.
Such organization of the people would be helpful for the Bulgarian authorities that would probably be established there and which would not have idea of the local conditions. The fulfillment of that task would enjoy the understanding of the Bulgarian community in Macedonia as it proved later. However Stephanov and Hadzhikimov went to Macedonia without the blessing of the government.13
On April 6, 1941 the war against Yugoslavia began, that brought liberation for the greater part of Macedonia. Stephanov and Hadzhikimov obtained travel permits for which later they would be formally convicted. In the night of April 8 they traveled from Sofia to Skopje through Deve Bair with a German truck. In Skopje they learned that not only they had travel permits, but hundreds of other citizens engaged in the commercial and administrative network for normalization of the life and the order had. Later in court in 1946 the public prosecutor based his arguments on their permits as some essential “corpus delicti” to which the accused Hadzhikimov replied that in Lenin had also received similar permit to travel from Europe to Russia. He also asked if that meant that Lenin was a German spy. “Politics and conspiracy", said Hadzhikimov, “often did not select the means to achieve the set goals."14
Formation of the Bulgarian Central Campaign Committee (BCCC) in Skopje
At that time the situation in Macedonia was favorable for the creation of an organization of the type considered by Stephanov and Hadzhikimov. The hatred towards the yesterday rulers was replaced by the unhidden joy for their defeat on the battlefield. The Bulgarian army was expected-with eagerness. In that situation local authorities were formed spontaneously even before any instructions were received. The requirements of the historical moment always have created the needed personalities. The arrival of Stephanov and Hadzhikimov appeared as the expected spark so the hearts of the people to be inflamed. The locals were eager for patriotic activities.15
It was logical that with their arrival in Skopje Stephanov and Hadzhikimov would contact their old friends: the lawyer Blagoy Popankov, the trader Ilia Atanassov and the doctor Delcho Zografski. They resided in the house of Atanas Atanassov - a relative of Hadzhikimov. Stephanov and Hadzhikimov together with other activists got down to work before the military actions were concluded. Despite their popularity among the population of Skopje they had some difficulties. People were scattered in the villages because of the bombings. The Germans had just stopped bombing Skopje and the Yugoslav aviation started bombing the bridges over the river Vardar. Under the thunder of the bombs Stephanov and Hadzhikimov ran from house to house and got in touch with Ivan Piperkov, Dr. Alexander Georgiev, Strahil Kotsev and of course with Spiro Kitinchev. The time when the said events took place was turbulent, the situation changed with days and hours. The question of power was felt in the air. It was obvious to everyone that the Serbian army would be driven away and together with it will go the hated Serbian authorities. The population could not help to be agitated. Thus on April 8 at 9 p.m. in Galichin Inn - opposite Saint Dimitur church a meeting was held, where the question: “What had to be done?" was put up. What actions should be undertaken in those crucial days in order not to omit, as it had already happened, the precise moment for liberating Macedonia.
On that meeting were present mainly followers of the idea for the liberation through independence of Macedonia, namely: Dimitur Giuzelev, Dimitur Chkatrov, Toma Klenkov, Ivan Piperkov and other popular activists of IMRO as well as members of Yugoslav Communist Party (YCP) - Kotse Stoianov, Angele Petkovski and Ilia Neshovski, invited by Traiko Popov. The latter despite a communist, member of YCP, was an active follower of the idea of IMRO for the creation of a free and independent Bulgarian Macedonian state.16 On that meeting were present the followers of Ivan Mihaylov - D. Tsilev, T. Chundev, D, Kurtov, Simon Andrev, Isak Kalaidzhiev and Nikola Kolarov.17 With the lack of agreement for the accession of Vardar Macedonia to Bulgaria the opinion of the meeting logically tended to the less greater of the two misfortunes - independent Macedonia. Representatives of the German authorities were invited on that meeting as they were regarded as liberators by the local population. The most respectful figure among the Skopje activists was Spiro Kitinchev - follower of Mihaylov who was actually the main organizer.18 On the meeting Dimitur Chkairov hold one hour speech with which he appealed for the creation of a committee, that would proclaim Macedonia an independent state under the protection of Germany.
The pure Bulgarian patriotism of the followers of IMRO of Ivan Mihaylov was out of suspicion. That organization, developing the ideas of Gotse Delchev and Todor Alexandrov, saw the solution of the Macedonian question not only in the establishment of autonomous, but of an independent and free Macedonia. The reason of setting that goal was to create awareness of the difficulties in international aspect about the unification of the Bulgarian lands. This unification had always met the opposition of the Great Powers as well of the Balkan countries. That was why the slogan for an independent Macedonia had enjoyed numerous followers and on the basis of that idea worked IMRO In that respect things led to an open Bulgarian political separation. In 1941, already in war conditions, Ivan Mihaylov continued to work for the implementation of that idea, but faced the reaction of the official Bulgarian authorities.
The participants in the meeting parted without making any special decisions, except of the conclusion for a meeting to be convened with greater part of the members for appointing the leaders and working out a programme and a statute of the committee. They printed leaflets for the citizens of Skopje, with the signatures of Spiro Kitinchev, Dimitur Chkatrov, Dimitur Giuzelev, Toma Klenkov, Ivan Piperkov and others, appealing for mobilization and resistance to the Serbian administrative authorities remaining in Skopje.19 Nevertheless, one gets the impression that the followers of Ivan Mihaylov acted hesitantly as a whole. The reason was in the disagreement among them after the beginning of the World War II. At the change of the foreign policy situation some of the activists revised their ideas of the liberation of Macedonia. In 1940 the Macedonian brotherhoods already wanted accession of Macedonia with Bulgaria and not “independent Macedonia” - a slogan raised by Mihaylov even after the capitulation of Yugoslavia. Some of the leaders, followers of Mihaylov, like the Stanishev brothers, N. Stoianov and many other stand on the positions of the Bulgarian government for accession of Macedonia. That was why there were contradictory positions at the meeting, which impeded the final decision and gave birth to rumors. Perhaps not accidentally in his diary B. Filov wrote about that meeting, calling it “committee”: “On 11 April... Antoni Nikolov (a director of the Vecher state newspaper) shared with me the rumor about a committee in Skopje, which wanted to proclaim the accession of Macedonia to Bulgaria.” It seemed that the official Bulgarian authorities had no direct information about that problem but relied on rumours. However, the following sentence spoke of Filov's lack of orientation about the intentions of Stephanov and Hadzhikimov: “I spoke with Popov and we decided to use the situation and if the rumor turns not to be true to provoke a similar decision.” The Bulgarian government together with the prime minister had no idea that on 9 April Hadzhikimov and Stephanov were already in Skopje and worked for the realization of that idea.
On the same day - April 11, Bogdan Filov had several talks about that and some other matters related to the destiny of Macedonia. He summoned Gabrovski and Sevov and analyzed with them in detail the creation of a committee in Skopje, which to proclaim the accession to Bulgaria. That declaration should be used for foreign policy purposes.
They decided to assign that task to Danail Krapchev, who had already decided to travel to Macedonia, Of course, they had to obtain permission by the Tsar, who was obviously not informed about the mission of Stephanov and Hadzhikimov. At that time they performed their noble deed without asking for anyone's agreement. When the Tsar gave his permission, Filov met Danail Krapchev. The latter was ready to take the responsibility of the mission but by the words of B. Filov, “he was not very sure of the success; as if he did not have enough connections there. He recommended more people to be involved."20 As one could see from Filov's memoir, where Danail Krapchev was powerless, Stephanov and Hadzhikimov were successful.
The name of Danail Krapchev is well known to Bulgarian historians and readers. He was a prestigious journalist, at that time a director of Zora newspaper - one of the widely read newspapers. He was born in Prilep in one of the most active followers of the idea for unification to Bulgaria. In his newspaper Krapchev constantly published articles in which he popularized the idea of unification of the Bulgarian lands.
The arrival of Stephanov and Hadzhikimov tipped the balance against the idea of independent Macedonia. They explained that riot that type of Macedonia was needed; the situation imposed the need of actions for accession of Vardar Macedonia to Bulgaria and demonstrating before the Great Powers the affiliation of the Macedonian population as part of the Bulgarian nation.21
After several days of consultations, discussions and persuasion, on April 13 in the house of Spiro Kitinchev in Skopje where from the participants in the first meeting were present only Ivan Piperkov and Spiro Kitinchev, was discussed the situation for the liberation of Macedonia from Serbian and Greek rule. The meeting took place in the yard. It was pointed out that one of the first tasks of the newly formed organization was to regulate the relations with the German authorities. The question about the name of the organization was raised. All present said at once “committee" - that word had gained permanent place in the Bulgarian's mind from the time of the struggle against the Turkish enslavers. However, Hadzhikimov insisted that the committee had to be called also “campaign" because it was formed in the name of some action, namely - taking power and accession of Vardar Macedonia to Bulgaria. All further operations of the committee should be subordinated to that main task. In the end the official name on the seal of the committee was CENTRAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE OF MACEDONIA (CCCM). The other committees were called local campaign committees (LCC).
The committees covered all Macedonia in its ethnographic Bulgarian borders. The stipulation that was made in Art! of the Resolution of the meeting, namely the territory, liberated from Serbian and Greek rulers, meant not only the territory of Vardar, but also of Aegean Macedonia On its turn that meant regulation not only of the relations with the Germans, but with Italian authorities as well, that Art. 2 was stipulated only the German authorities. In the discussions everybody was unanimous that after the respective regulation and the arrival of the Bulgarian army the function of the campaign committees would change and should adapt to Bulgarian laws so ,,in local terms the work for the benefit of Macedonia to continue" (Document N. 1).22
At the meeting the management bodies were appointed with the stipulation the Central Committee to be simultaneously local committee for Skopje and the region. A Central Committee with 32 members was chosen. It appointed an Executive Committee with the following members: Stephan Stephanov, President, Spiro Kitinchev, Deputy President, Vassil Hadzhikimov, Secretary-Organizer, Krum Organdjiev, Cashier, and Blagoy Popankov, Ivan Piperkov, Dr. Alexander Georgiev and Ilia Atanasov - Advisors. Member of the CC was also Toma Drangov, brother of the famous officer from the Bulgarian army Boris Drangov, perished in the World War I.23
The dynamics of time imposed the committee to operate actively. Immediately after the meeting, the CC had a session and took up its first task - to organize the taking of the power. A decision was made a delegation of representatives of the committee to insist before the German authorities to concede the power to the Bulgarian community, that was majority in the region. Odd enough, but at that Lime the Germans had left the local Serbian community bodies to govern in Skopje and Bitola. In parallel with this, the CC decided funds to be raised for presents for the German soldiers who resided there for Easter. The committee did not only want to show its gratitude for the long expected liberation from Serbian rulers, but to predispose the German military authorities to concede the power to the Bulgarian community (Document N. 2).24
One of the first tasks of the CC was to publish a declaration, proclaiming in the whole of Macedonia its constitution and policy. The declaration said:
Macedonia is free! Free is Macedonia forever!
The end of the rule under which Macedonia suffered until yesterday had come. The centuries-long enslavement of Macedonia - Greek, Turkish, Serbian, spiritual and political, and in XX C. economic and social as well, had finished forever,
A great ideal, THE LIBERTY, for which Macedonia had fought for centuries lead century-old fight with unprecedented heroism and numerous sacrifices is now reality.
The efforts of Tsar Boris III to put that great deed to an end were accomplished successfully and finally. The leader of one great world revolution, the leader of the German nation ordered to his brave and victorious armies together with his ally Italy to gain the freedom of our amiable Motherland, of our great martyr Macedonia.
Macedonia is free and is already in the Bulgarian national community.
The Bulgarian people in Macedonia are deeply touched and full of joy and gratitude towards the Tsar of the Bulgarians - Tsar Boris III, towards the mighty leader of the German Reich, Adolph Hitler and the Duche - the creator of friendly Italy.
Long live Tsar Boris III!
Long live Adolph Hitler - the mighty leader of the great German nation!
Long live Benito Mussolini - the Duche of the ally Italy!
Long live the freedom!
The Bulgarian Central Campaign Committee for Macedonia!''
Below followed the signatures of the BCCC members.
By means of the declaration the policy of the committee was announced: accession to Bulgaria. Despite that the Bulgarian official authorities were not yet established, in a week or two that would happen. That was why the declaration said: “Macedonia is already free and is in the Bulgarian national community."25
The policy chosen by the BCCC for direct accession of Macedonia to Bulgaria was not accidental. That line of action in fact had always been one of the two options after 1878 - of course more favourable for the Bulgarians from Macedonia. That course which at first was adopted by the followers of the Supreme Macedonian-Odrin committee, met the strong opposition of IMRO and also of other revolutionary groups that were for independent Macedonia (Ivan Mihaylov), or for autonomous Macedonia under the aegis of the United Nations, or within a Balkan federation. At the beginning of the war, however, after the peaceful integration of South Dobrudzha through diplomatic negotiations the positions of the groups was reinforced. They were for peaceful unification of the lands populated with Bulgarians without other indirect ways for that - independence, autonomy and etc. On a meeting of the presidents of the legal Macedonian organizations in Bulgaria that took place on July 15 1940 the following declaration was worked out:
“The governing councils of the Union of the Cultural Educational and Charitable Fraternities in Bulgaria, of the Macedonian Scientific Institute, of the Ilinden organization, of Macedonian Odrin Volunteers and of the Macedonian Women's Union considered their duty to announce the following
The liberated part of the Bulgarian people and the Bulgarians from and in Macedonia gave numerous bloody sacrifices in numerous rebellions and wars for the liberation of Macedonia from Turkish and later from Serbian and Greek rule.
Wherefore today, when the destiny and the political borders of the people in Europe would be determined for ages, we considered that the Macedonian question should be put up for settlement before the authoritative factors in Bulgaria and abroad so that:
MACEDONIA WHOLE AND INSEPARABLE IN ITS GEOGRAPHICAL BORDERS WOULD RETURN TO MOTHERLAND BULGARIA AND NO PARTITION WOULD BE PERMITTED.
July 15, 1940"
The declaration was signed by the presidents of the above organizations.26 That was why the development of a policy in the break of World War II for accession to Bulgaria was the idea of several people as Stephan Stephanov and Vassil Hadzhikimov, but the official course of action was of all legal organizations of the Macedonian Bulgarian refugees that were about six hundred thousand people. Part of IMRO followers shared the same views as was already mentioned.
Even more, immediately after the announcement of the above declaration the members of those organizations initiated active actions for its implementation. Right after the liberation of Macedonia they started going round the newly liberated lands and working among the population.27
In connection with the liberation of Macedonia, Western Thrace, Moravia and the Western Territories (Zapadni Pokrainini), in Bulgaria were prepared celebrations timed for April 20. With view to the situation the Prime Minister Bogdan Filov insisted that they were held a week earlier. Thus on April 13 manifestations took place in Sofia and in the country, in which were participated by refugee's organizations. At the meeting on Alexander Nevski Square in Sofia, the colonel from the reserve Kosta Nikolov, president of the Union of the Macedonian Fraternities, made an ardent speech. In front of the Assembly Hall in the name of the Macedonian Odrin volunteers a speech delivered the colonel from the reserve Petar Darvingov,28 organizer of the volunteers and Head of the Headquarters. Dimitur Yaranov and Stephan Badzhov also spoke before the legations of Germany and Italy. During the same day there were celebrations in other towns in the country. They aimed on one hand to create favorable psychological climate in the Bulgarian-German dialog about the Macedonian question, and on the other hand, public expression of the extended hand of the Motherland to the Bulgarian population in the territories, occupied by the Germans.29
The Management Board of the Macedonian Scientific Institute in Sofia took part in the celebration. In its name and in the name of the refugees from Macedonia, Professor Stephan Badzhov, member of the Management Board, stood at the head of the delegation before the German minister plenipotentiary in Sofia, Baron von Richtchofen. In his speech Professor Badzhov expressed the gratitude of the Macedonian Bulgarians to the German arms whose victories helped for the liberation of their native lands (Document No. 3).30
The beginning of Bulgarian press was set in the lands, liberated from the Serbs. After 24 years the Bulgarian language appeared again in pure Bulgarian newspapers. The newspaper was called Macedonia and most of the documents and the decisions of the CC were published in it. The newspaper had only several issues.31 Its first copy was issued on April 15, 1941, i.e. only two days after the establishment of BCCC. Director and publisher of the newspaper was Stephan Stephanov, Vassil Hadzhikimov and Boris Blagoev were editors.32
Not only the declaration of BCCC was published in the Macedonia newspaper. In a special article on page 2 was given information about the foundation of the Bulgarian Central Campaign Committee for Macedonia. In it was announced that representatives of the Bulgarian population from all parts of the newly liberated territories had gathered in Skopje and had discussed the situation after the end of the Serbian rule. They expressed their desire ,,the longing and the interests of the Bulgarians enslaved till yesterday to be correctly represented, interpreted and protected before the German triumphant army, that had occupied and liberated Macedonia, as well as before the army and the rule of the Bulgarian Tsar - liberator of Macedonia, Tsar Boris III, that were expected impatiently and with immeasurable joy." The article announced that the following decisions were taken at the meeting: Bulgarian Central Campaign Committee to be formed, which immediately to establish local committees in the whole of Macedonia. It was foreseen the funding to be based on donations. On the pages of the newspaper the CC appealed for financial support (document No. 4).29 The following appeal was in italic: “Only the organized struggle gives results. Instead of speaking - act. Unite round the Bulgarian Central Campaign Committee for Macedonia." The newspaper did not forgot to greet the Bulgarian population in Macedonia about the forthcoming celebration of Easter: “
MACEDONIA REVIVED! GREETINGS FOR EASTER!'33
BCCC settled not only the problem about the financial status of the newspaper. It took measures for the restoration of radio Skopje that was damaged on purpose by the Serbs in order not to be used by the Macedonian Bulgarians. For a short time the radio station was repaired and spread the news for the creation of the campaign committees.34
The Serbian oppressive regime as politics was liquidated, but the administrative authorities were not eliminated everywhere. In many places the old administrative bodies continued operation. The reasons for that were different. Obviously the Germans thought that if the old administrative structures did not show any resistance it was preferred they to continue operation and ensure the order.
On the conference of the CC of the Macedonian Bulgarian committees the representatives of the German authorities were not present, as they were on April 8 in Galichin Inn. That created some difficulties related to the replacement of the Serbian authorities’ power with Bulgarian ones. The delegation sent by the CC to the German commandantship received the reply that evidence was required that the citizens of the town were Bulgarians and not Serbs for the change of the administration.35
That requirement of the commandant was a reason for conducting a specific referendum. For 24 hours the Central Committee bought cloth, sew tri-colored flags and decorated every Bulgarian house. The town resembled a festively decorated Bulgarian town. The Bulgarian tri-coloured flag has fluttered round the town, regardless of the fact that there was no official representative of Bulgaria there. The committee insisted the commandant to walk round the town with his car and see that the town was Bulgarian. Only then the BCCC for Macedonia was officially recognized by the German authorities. The city hall was on disposition of the committee. The Deputy President of BCCC - Spiro Kitinchev was elected as mayor of the municipality36 and as his assistants - Blagoy Popankov, Blagoy Panchev, Kiril Zhernovski and Krum Organdzhiev. Kiril Penushliyski, Kiril Georgiev and others were appointed assistant staff.37
That success showed to the members of the CC that taking the power was not easy and they should have to fight for it. At the same time they were convinced that the struggle could be successful, only if it was well organized and all political groups acted unanimously. The fight for the power in Skopje had also shown that probably in other Macedonian towns many Serbian authorities had remained. That imposed immediate organizing of local committees. That was why the Central Committee issued a power of attorney to Vassil Hadzhikimov, the most active member, empowering him to accept funding in their account. He took the responsibility to travel round Macedonia and organize local campaign Committees (document No. 5).38
During the following days until April 16, 1941 two more meetings of the committee were held. On them were taken decisions on various organization matters, namely, Macedonian Bulgarians, soldiers in the Serbian army who were prisoners of war at the Germans to be found and released; cloth for flags to be bought - Bulgarian and German - and to be given to the poor Bulgarians for free; blank forms of the committee to be printed; a car to be hired for the secretary-organizer of the CC, Vassil Hadzhikimov to go round Macedonia and organize campaign committees in the regional centers; the person who had the right to incur financial expenses to be specified, etc. (documents No. 6 and 7).39
The Bulgarian government did not wait for a definite date to enter Macedonia. On April 17 an honorable unit of the Bulgarian army was sent to Skopje. It was met joyfully by the citizens. In connection with that BCCC sent a telegram to Tsar Boris III to which he replied: “To you, the Bulgarians from liberated Macedonia, I am thankful from all my heart for the nice greetings you have sent me about the entering of the heroic Bulgarian army in Skopje, and I am sending my sincere greetings and good wishes. The Tsar.” (Documents No. 8 and 9).40
Forming of the Local Campaign Committees
On the day after the establishment of BCCC, on April 14, together with Boris Andreev, Hadzhikimov arrived in Veles. There he found all houses having signs that they were inhabited by Bulgarians because the Germans were assaulted the Jewish homes. In the town there were demolitions from the Germans' bombings, wounded and killed people. The Veles town Hall was already taken by the Bulgarians, led by Konstantin Vanev. More precisely, the Serbian authorities had left before the German invasion.
A long discussion took place in the hall of the community center “at the presence of many people” a prolonged discussion has taken place. A conclusion was reached that a campaign committee should be formed, which to follow the line of BCCC for accession of Macedonia to Bulgaria The tasks of the committee according to the report of April 14 for its establishment were to represent Veles before all authorities and to protect its economical, political and cultural interests.
The campaign committee chose Executive Committee with Lazar Krepiev as President, Boris Andreev, Deputy President, Dr. Angel Panov, Secretary, Lazo Stoianov, Secretary and as advisors were elected Panko Brashnarov, Sazdo Hadzhipetrushev, Strahil Georgov, Dr. Dimcbe Smilev and Strahil Gigov (Document No. 10).41 As one could see the popular communist functionaries Panko Brashnarov and Strahil Gigov were among the people chosen in the management body of the campaign committee in Veles. The committee appointed the local lawyer Nikola Pavlov - Butika as mayor of the town.
Macedonia newspaper instantly informed about the event. That was the first local committee and its formation was also a historical event. Veles had a long history in national liberation struggles. That was why the formation of a local Bulgarian campaign committee was accompanied by unseen enthusiasm. The newspaper pointed out that V. Hadzhikimov had widely clarified the tasks of the committee. His words were sent off with long Bulgarian “Hurrah” - for the freedom of Macedonia, for Bulgaria and for Tsar Boris III. (Document N, 11),42
The campaign committee in Veles immediately organized an action for discovering and restoring the graves of the Bulgarian soldiers and officers who had perished during World War I. Bones of dead soldiers were found in the yard of Saint Pantaleymon church. The population had hidden the crosses from the Serbs. In that connection on May 4, Sunday, the campaign committee organized a ceremony of worship before the remains of the dead. The chief of the Bulgarian garrison in the town spoke before the people present there. The population was in high spirit despite the fact that 160 innocent citizens were killed by bombs and shells.43
In his native town of Shtip, Vassil Hadzhikimov was met by eng. Dimitur Karadzhov. The Bulgarians there, as in many other towns in Macedonia, had immediately taken power. Dimitur Karadzhov was chosen by the citizens as chairman of the municipality. Well known by his fellow-townsmen, Hadzhikimov organized a meeting, where he explained the position of the Central Committee. The citizens had elected an advisory body and an Executive Committee with Dimitar Hadzhigrigorov as president, Dr. Todor Gichev as Deputy President, Liuben Mitrov as secretary, Petar Parlev as Deputy Secretary and advisors Traicho Stanchev, Mishe Ikonomov, Slavko Garlichkov, Mishe Muftiev, Doncho Hadzhisankov, Petur Golev, Todor Yanev, Traycho Hadzhipetsov and Kotse Nikolov (Document No, 12).44 Member of the campaign committee became also Nikola Kirkov, relative to Kirkov - the participant in the Salonica outrages. Its member was also Vassil Grankov - convicted to 10 years in Serbian jail because of his activities in the campaign committee.
Shtip was badly damaged by the German bombings but that did not stop the citizens from organizing and taking measures for normalization of life, Karadzhov and Hadzhikimov liberated the Serbian families that were shut in a special camp by the town population.
The activism of the population of Shtip was not accidental. For 23 years the town was buried under the lava of Serbian hatred. ,,And the one who wants to know what is a Serbian slavery", wrote Hadzhikimov", shall come here to understand something more - what is Bulgarian spirit and strength, Rightly the people from Shtip are thought to be the most persistent and strong Bulgarians. In spite of all suffering and assimilation they have kept their language and consciousness not only their national belonging, but about the role they have played in the past for the liberation of Macedonia and would play now for the new and united Bulgaria”45
The campaign committee in Shtip organized a search of the remains of the soldiers and officers from the Bulgarian army who perished for the liberty of Macedonia during the World War I. They were found secretly buried without crosses in the church yard of “Holly Merry” in Novo Selo.
In 1915 the Eleventh Infantry Macedonian Division, formed of Bulgarians from Macedonia waged a combat in the area of the village of Krivolak, Shtip region. Against it were the armies of Entente, which consisted of representatives of different nationalities. They were sent to fight against the Bulgarian army in order to prevent the unification. Many Bulgarians from Macedonia died in the Krivolak combat. There found his death the who for his 15 years of revolutionary activities was not even wounded - Hristo Chernopeev. Ivan Mihaylov reported in his memories for his funeral as well for that of Captain Milosh Stanishev from Koukoush and that of lieutenant Tsirounkarev from Kostour: “Many people had gathered for their funeral in the school yard behind the altar of the church.” With the coming of the Serbian authorities in 1918 the graves were endangered that was why the crosses were removed. When Vardar Macedonia was liberated in April 1941 it was necessary the graves of other people that were without crosses and names to be found. Usually they were in church yards - holy places for every Bulgarian. According to Ivan Mihaylov the graves of the heroes buried in Shtip were worshipped by the local people. They were obliterated by the Serbian authorities that established after the World War II.46
After Shtip, Hadzhikimov organized a campaign committee in Kochani. President of the committee was Priest Gligor, Deputy President was Blagoy Dzhirov, Secretary was Todor Manassiev, Deputy Secretary Liubomir Efremov, Cashier - Metodi Varadinov and advisors were - Ivan Dvoiakov, Todor Varadinov, Dr. Stoyan Iliev, Gosho Trendov, Petar Popov, Dr. Apostolov and Todor Nishadzhiev. In the management body were also Blazhe Dzhidrov, Priest Gligor, Ivan Nakov, Mito Pendov, Todor Nankov, Milan Dimitriev, Boris Chakaruv, Gosho Todorov, Milan Yanakiev, Petar Nakashev, Dr. T. Apostolov, Kr. P. Georgiev, Stoyan Nikolov, Todor Varadinov, Se-rafim Zahariev, Dr. Stoyan Iliev, Todor Manassiev, Petur Popov, Lazar Babamov, Sazdo Aytoski, Mishe II, Popkov, Todor Nishandzhiev, Slave Iliev, Stephan P. Gerassimov, Boris Zahariev, Liubo E. Samitov, Dime Ivanov, Todor P. Efremov, Asparouh47, Hariklia Sarafska, Petar Ivanov, Al. Teodossiev, Dimitur Teoharov and Mctodi Varadinov.
After Kochani, V. Fladzhikimov went to the village Vinitsa, where on April 18 a local Bulgarian campaign committee was founded. At the head of the executive council was the president of the campaign committee Todor Ivanov. Deputy President was the old fighter for freedom Boris Palikrushev, Lazar Ivanov was Secretary, Cashier was Todor Gerassimov and for advisors were chosen Priest Ivan Stoykov, Milan Arsov, Trayan Doudanov, Simeon Gerassimov, Todor Bamov, Todor Karamakov, Stoimen Ivanov and Stoyan Panev (Document No. 13).48
After the establishment of a campaign committee in Vinitsa, V. Hdzhikimov organized others in Pehchevo, Tsarevo Selo (Delchevo), Berovo, Radovish and Stroumitsa. Along with the town committees were formed villages' ones.49 The president of BCCC, Stephan Stephanov organized a committee in Kratovo, his native town.
The citizens of Koumanovo, hearing the proclamation of the BCCC about its creation and from Macedonia newspaper its appeal for taking the power locally and accession to Bulgaria, immediately summoned a meeting on April 18 for the formation of a committee. For president was chosen Georgi Garev, for his deputy was chosen Dr. Yossif Andonov, for First Secretary - Ivan Dotsev, Second Secretary Vlade Lipkovski and for cashier - Vlada Shoumanov; members of the council were Dimitro Tassev, Alexander Kovachev, Alexander Dimkov, Todor Spassov and Nikola Peshev. The meeting was not attended by a representative of the CC, but the citizens unanimously adopted its ideas. They declared that would follow ,,all ideas developed BCC". The meeting was closed with loud Bulgarian “Hurrah” (Document No. 14).50
In the town of Sveti Nikola Hadzhikimov arrived on April 21. There he summoned a meeting that proceeded very animatedly. The most respected person was Toma Klinkov, but he was married for Serbian woman. (The mixed marriages between Bulgarians and Serbs were one of the ways for assimilation). That fact made him disliked by some of the people present. Some of them pulled out knives and guns. With big efforts Hadzhikimov managed to pacify them. At the end the meeting voted for Klinkov and elected him as president. For Deputy President was chosen Kiril Lazarov, for Secretary - Georgi Lazarov and for Cashier - Stoyan Yanev (Document No. 15).51
Until entering of the Bulgarian army campaign committees were formed in the most of the towns in Vardar Macedonia but they were not united in a network. That happened after the tour of Hadzhikimov in the region during which he unified the documentation and the methods of work. After Veles, Shtip, Vinitsa and Sveti Nikola he prepared himself for organizational work in the rest of the towns. The plan for his further activities, outlined in Skopje by the members of BCC, stipulated the formation of committees firstly in the western part of Vardar Macedonia and after that in Aegean Macedonia Together with Ivan Hadzhov, a teacher from one of the secondary schools in Sofia, born in Strouga, and with the driver Slave Popankov, Hadzhikimov set off to Tetovo.52
In the beginning of the drive out of the Serbian authorities was created in Prizren an Albanian committee, headed by Bedri Piani and Redzhep Mitrovitsa. The activities of that committee were directed to taking the local power in the towns of Kosovo and Metohia as well as in western Macedonia - in Tetovo, Gostivar, Debur, Slrouga and Ohrid. The committee's course of action was to work for the integration of that regions with “Great Albania” against the Italian occupation. That was why in those towns almost simultaneously were created Albanian and Bulgarian committees that started to fight between themselves. In some of the towns where there were some Serbian families faithful to Serbian chauvinism, Serbian committees were formed.53
Approaching Tetovo, Hadzhikimov was convinced that the Albanian danger should not be neglected. Gathered in groups by the road, the Albanians shouted after the car instead of greeting him, with which they expressed their pretensions not only to that area but even to Skopje. With his arrival in town Hadzhikimov and his escort found out that during the period with no authorities an Albanian committee was formed that pretended for accession with Albania. Some Serbian teachers had created a Serbian committee and the Bulgarian population had formed a “national committee” without adding Bulgarian or Macedonian to its name. There was not management body at the head of this committee. The citizens of Tetovo fought for the chairman's position - who would lead the committee and the community. “Here are the rivalry, the ambitions and the reminders of the old party groups. Political legacy of different regimes since the Turkish yoke.” The struggle was between the followers of Svetoslav Andreychin, brother of the killed by the Serbs Boris Andreychin and the respected from all citizens Trifon Apostolov. Hadzhikimov was impressed by the great organizational division of the committee, with a lot of councils. ,,Perhaps every devoted citizen of Tetovo, feeling the historical moment, sincerely strived to be part of it, or that was probably due to our fault, remainder from the old times, everybody to be first, all of us commanders and leaders." The struggle was not on principle or on interpolitical basis, nor for the main course which the committee followed. A certain-course of action was not agreed on. By the words of V. Hadzhikimov, the squabble was “repulsive”. He explained briefly the position of the BCCC and appealed for stopping the arguments in that critical for the Bulgarians moment and for placing the interests of Macedonia higher then the personal ones.54
To cohere the citizens of Tetovo V. Hadzhikimov organized a worship celebration in front of Mara Bouneva's house, who shot the Serbian hangman Velimir Prelich. The mother of Mara Bouneva - a lonely old woman - met the guests that wanted to bow before the awesome heroism of that Bulgarian woman. Everybody kissed the hand of the woman and went out of the house “as if after church”.55
The committee founded by the citizens of Tetovo was renamed in a local campaign committee. Even Hadzhikimov did not succeed to organize it in a structure similar to those of the rest of the committees. The citizens of Tetovo preserved the structure they had created. The committee had several councils: political-jurisdictional, administrative-managerial, financial, and social economical. Each council consisted of at least 5-6 advisors and the same number of “additional” ones.
In the political council were included: Svetoslav Andreychin, Mihail Serafimov, Trifon Apostolov, Al. Filipov, Nikola Veterov, Mihail Neshov, Nikola Pavlov, Mihail Zahariev, Hristo Zdravev. Additional advisors were Trpe Mihailov, Georgi Mladenov, Todor Toulev, Slavko Gerassimov, Stephan H. Naumov, Kiril Hristov. In the administrative managerial council were Trifon Apostolov, Mihail Serafimov, Kouzman Naydenov, Apostol Iv. Gyugyuvchev, Ilia Simov, Boris.M. Neshov, Simeon Kostov, Kroum Bozhinov, Trpe Iv. Boshnakov. Additional advisors were Kiril Mitroushev, D. Rostov, Andrei V. Stefchev, Nofo Dimov, Zaharia Zakov. The financial council included Hristo Zdravev, Hristo Dzhinlev, Milan H. Naumov, Al. Panov, Gougoush Gougoushev, Gligor Veterov. Additional advisors were Yastro Momirov, Doushan Veterov, Zaharia Tomov. And members of the social economical council were Bilbil Trpev, Hristo Pavlov, Simo Momirov, Andrey Ivanov, D. Sarov, Dr. Gligor Evchev, Dr. Simo Petrov, Andrey Hristov, Metodi Mihaylov. Additional advisors were Paskal Georgiev, Boris Petorushev, Peter Simov, Georgi Minov, Nikola Veterov and Mihail Neshov were secretaries of the committee.56
The committee consisted of 58 people in total - 15 intellectuals, 19 tradesmen, 13 clerks, 7 craftsmen, 1 priest, 1 worker and 2 more people. Or in the campaign committee participated 26.3 % intellectuals, 33.3 % tradesmen, 22.9 % clerks, 12.3 % craftsmen, 1.7 % priests, 1.7 % workers and 3.3 % other. The conclusion was that the members were representatives of all circles of the population. The organizing and the formation of local committees in the villages of the Tetovo region was one of the most important and task of the committee.57
Near Tetovo was the German camp for prisoners of war. The campaign committee in Tetovo, headed by Hadzhikimov succeeded in negotiating with the German military authorities and in liberating the Macedonian Bulgarians prisoners of war.
On May 24 the committee organized a manifestation in honour of the Slavonic teachers St. St. Cyril and Methodius, that was traditionally was celebrated as a day of the Bulgarian letters and culture. Every year until today that celebration had been an expression of the Bulgarian spirit. That was why even with their presence in the streets, the citizens of Tetovo (about 10 000 people) showed to the foreigners, mostly Italians, that the town and the region were pure Bulgarian. The people not only participated in the manifestation but used it to raise Bulgarian flags and slogans before the Italian authorities for accession with Bulgaria.58
That expression of the Bulgarian belonging of the population of Tetovo was imposed from the Italian occupation in that region. In the beginning of May the journalist Velko Spanchev visited Tetovo and some villages in the area. He found out that everywhere the population expected “with love and indescribable devotion” the arrival of the Bulgarian army and the establishment of the Bulgarian administrative authority. In the same time, however, as he said, the population was scared that that could not happen, i.e. it was possible that beautiful Bulgarian region to remain under foreign rule - that time Italian. His observations Panchev sent as a letter to the Bulgarian central campaign committee. The anxiety of the population, according to him, increased every hour because of the persistent activities of the Albanian propaganda and the rumours that Tetovo, Gostivar, Galichnik, Debur and Ohrid, Strouga and Ressen would be Albanian.59
The reason of those fears was rooted in the establishment of an Albanian committee in Tetovo. Under its direction, the Albanians organized big demonstrations and insisted for the liberation of Tetovo region from Italian occupation and accessed to Albania. The Muslim religion of the Albanians made them initiate actions against their own economic interest, because Tetovo region was economically related to Macedonia and to the west was bound with high mountains.
The town of Gostivar was decorated with German, Albanian, Bulgarian and Italian flags. The Bulgarian committee carried out propaganda for accession with Bulgaria, and the Albanians - for integration with Italy. In the town there were no state authorities in the town. The Italian army occupied it on May 10. The activity of the local Bulgarian campaign committee continued long after the establishment of the Italian rule, it continued to gather signatures and send petitions to the Bulgarian Tsar and other institutions for the accession of Gostivar region to Bulgaria.60
In Gostivar Hadzhikimov met Atanas Poptraykov. The latter met him with tears in his eyes and “overwhelmed him with the generosity of a man ready for revelation.” His father, an old Bulgarian priest, was brutally killed by the Serbs. Until late at night Poptraykov spoke to the guests about the torture to which were subject all Bulgarians during the Serbian rule.61 On the next day, April 23, 1941 the already established committee was reorganized and renamed in a local campaign committee. Its president was Dr. Dimitur Ivanov, Deputy President - Sofroni Petrov, Secretary - Mihail Filipov, Cashier - Andon Andonov and advisors were Silvian Despotov, Sarandi Sotirov, Tsipre Lazarov, Evgenii Trimchev, Genadii Issakiev, Roussi Avramov and Krusto Mitov (Document No. 16).62
After Gostivar and the organizing of the local campaign committee, Hadzhikimov went to the villages of Leunovo and Mavrovo -two pure Bulgarian villages with population of about 1000 people.63
The priest Spiro Lichenovski met Hadzhikimov in Debur deeply touched ,,Never, never in this life you would experience a more glorious day than this when the old priest Lichenovski was holding .my hand, with tears in his eyes, as if he was nestling Bulgaria to his breast, wrote Hadzhikimov. “Nice, honest people from Debur. It is clear for me now. Where the regime of the enslavement was most unbearable, there have grown the most honest Bulgarians - hard as steel and unbreakable as a century-old tree.” 64
An Albanian Committee was formed immediately after the surrender of Yugoslavia in Debur and started operation: demonstrations and meetings were organized in honour of the liberation and for accession to Albania. In that respect the Albanian committee was very active. It got in touch with the Central Albanian committee in Prizren on the day of its establishment. So the situation in Debar was rather specific. At that case of Italian and not of German occupation, the activities connected with the formation of a campaign committee had the features of outlaw actions. In that region the Albanians and the Italians-behaved as if the were at home. There were no Bulgarian meetings for the formation of the campaign committee, nor loud Bulgarian “Hurrah”. The meeting that took place in the home of one of the Bulgarian teachers on April 24 resolved the question. Priest Spiro Lichenovski was chosen for president, for Deputy President - Teofil Koukov, for Secretary Rafail Stamatov, for Cashier Nikola Stoyanov. Twenty people were chosen for advisors (Document No. 17).65 A few days later that committee sent in Skopje Pavel Traykov to inform BCCC about the situation in Debur (document No.18).66
According to Hadzhikimov, however, that committee could hardly perform any activity. It was possible only illegally. But the purpose of creating campaign committees was not to operate illegally, but to make the population active. In any case the committee was constituted and recognized the policy of BCCC for accession to Bulgaria.67
Despite that the meeting was secret, the Italian authorities obviously suspected something about the mission of Hadzhikimov in Debur. Due to that reason he was arrested and "taken to the Italian commandant. The Italians searched the car and confiscated the first issue of the Macedonia newspaper, issued by BCCC. After a few hours of investigation when it was that Hadzhikimov and his messenger had no intention to organize an assault they were set free to go to Ohrid Actually they were saved by people from Ohrid and Strouga who reported in BCCC in Skopje for the accident.68
Vassil Hadzhikimov did not manage to organize campaign committees in Ohrid and Strouga, or more precisely, he did not do it personally. The Italians forbade him from staying that region so he went to Ressen. That however did not mean that the citizens of the two active Bulgarian towns were left without campaign committees. On the contrary, committees were established and they were the most active in Vardar. Macedonia.
The citizens of Strouga acknowledged the declaration of BCCC in Skopje. The intellectuals in town took the initiative for convening a meeting on April 21, 1941. With several words Svetoslav Milev opened the meeting and explained its goals. He announced before the citizens present that BCCC was formed in Skopje and it appealed through the radio and the press for the establishment of committees everywhere “where Bulgarians lived”. The discussions were held “with unseen enthusiasm and rapture”. A Counseling Committee and Executive Committee with extended membership: Svetoslav Milev, President, Anastas Moysov, Deputy President, Filip Kavaev and Boris Chakurov, Secretaries, Krustio Bilianov, Cashier and five people for advisors. In the name of the members chosen, President Svetoslav Milev thanked for the great honor and confidence, and promised that the Executive Committee would work hard to the well-being of the people. He appealed the people present to support morally and financially the committee and “to work as one to the benefit of the people and for the grandeur of Bulgaria.” The meeting was closed with the Bulgarian “Hurrah”. (Document No. 19)69
The same day a booklet with the declaration on the BCCC was printed for the Bulgarians in the town and in the region. In that way the committee announced to the citizens the course of the BCCC for accession with Bulgaria and asked them as Bulgarians to arrange a festive meeting of the Bulgarian army “that could arrive any moment”. The appeal was to “all Bulgarians to meet the Bulgarian army with flowers and dressed in colorful national costumes of their native region and the houses to be decorated with Bulgarian flags” (Document No.20).70
The local campaign committee in Strouga took measures to detain people .who exercised Serbian administrative power in the region “until Bulgarian authorities were restored in Strouga". That meant the clerks from the Serbian administration should provide an account for the inventory and the cash-books (Document No. 21)71
The committee in Strouga sent its Deputy President Anastas K. Moysov to 'Skopje and empowered him to report about all matters related to the work of the committee and to the situation in the town and the region (Document No. 22).72
Due to the aspirations of Italy towards Ohrid and the obstacles to organizing the Bulgarian population, V. Hadzhikimov did not succeed to form in person a campaign committee in that sacred place. The town and the region were inhabited by Albanians. A local committee was formed immediately after the obtaining of the information for the creation of BCCC. It raised the slogan for accession with Bulgaria. An Albanian Committee was established as a counter measure and it worked for integration with Albania. The two committees organized demonstrations and meetings in the town square in the town center. Sometimes the two groups stood against each other - one with the Albanian and Italian flags, the other with Bulgarian and German ones.73
The citizens of Ressen, who lived near the dividing line with Italy, were afraid of the uncertainty and, being anxious not to remain under Serbian rule after the war, they became easy victims of the Italian-Albanian propaganda. Led by a group of local people - the mayor Georgi Danovski, his deputy Lambo Gcshtanov and Georgi Donev, wrongly informed of the situation and influenced by the destiny of Ohrid destiny, Strouga and other places occupied by the Italians, the people thought that their town had to join them. A list passed from hand to hand and the citizens signed it, convinced that they had taken the right decision. Krustio Traykov went round the houses and spread propaganda for accession with Bulgaria.74 With the help of that old fighter for liberty in 1912-1918 wars, Hadzhikimov managed to organize on April 23 a meeting on which to clarify the position of BCCC and its tasks. Donev with his whole group readily entered the committee. A local campaign committee was formed for the town of Ressen with a counselor body and an executive committee with president Krastio Traykov, President, Simeon Tatarchev, Deputy President, Dr. Vl. Tudzharovski, Secretary, Tashko Georgiev, Deputy Secretary, Nikola Spirov, Cashier, Lambo Tashev, Boyan Popov, Mihail Nochev, Petur Veliov, Pasko Strezov, Simeon Tanov and Mihail Proyov, advisors. Members of the councellor body were: Krustio Traykov, Dr. Georgi Donev, Vladimir Tudzharovski, Pande Lyapchev, Mihail Milenkov, Toma Dochov, Boris Kioropanov, Krustio Iliev, Nikola Spirov, Mihail Nonchev, Boris Bakalov, Mone Radenov - a worker, Stavre Panov - a joiner, Milan Giurchinov - a baker, Lambe Geshakov - a butcher, Simeon Tatarchev - a student, Simeon Panov - a shoemaker, Anastas Dorev, Kroum Bozhinov, Ilia Bozhinov, Pasko Strezov, Kiro Velov - a farmer, Vangel Dochov, Tashko Sekov - a driver, Tashko Georgiev, Eftim Yankov - a clerk, Al. Bossilkov - a trader, Ekim Tomov, Peter Veliov, Kroum Popov, Lambe Toshev, Pande Mishev — a worker, Dr. G. Strezov, Kruste Nizamov, Iv. Chukalev, Sotir Tashev, Milan Nechev and Alexander Bozhilov.75
On the next day Hadzhikimov organized village campaign committees in Tsarev Dvor and Asamati after which he went to Bitola. In that big administrative centre the Bulgarian population have to fight as in Skopje in order to take the municipality from the Serbian administration. Actually the struggle was not as that much against the Serbian administration than for giving evidence to the German authorities for the Bulgarian character of the town. The citizens of Bitola formed an initiative committee; that also happened in other Macedonian towns. That showed that the formation of Bulgarian committees in 1941 was a spontaneous deed of the Bulgarian population for its self-determination and not just an act of several enraptured intellectuals. Another question was that the committee in Bitola did not carry the name “campaign”. The arrival of Hadzhikimov on April 25 created order and settled the things. The structure of the committee was reorganized and campaign was added to her name. A counseling body of 43 members and an executive council of 14 members were elected. President of the committee was Dr. Boris Svetiev - active follower of IMRO, Deputy President - Petar Petsakov, Secretary - Sotir Trenchev, Deputy Secretary - Stephan Svetiev and Cashier - Stephan Traykov. For advisors were chosen Hristo Rizov, Trpko Trpkov, Nikola Dolenchanets, Mihail Frangov, Ahil Dimitrov, Peter Mihailov, Serafim Lazarov, Vangel Atsev and Bozhin Stephanov (Document No. 23).76
It was not difficult to understand why the citizens of Bitola met obstacles in establishing the Bulgarian authorities. Bitola was the second administrative center in Vardar Macedonia. There were a great number of Serbian settlers-colonists. According to the reports of Bulgarian police, there were about 1000 Serbs and 200 Serbian followers.77 The latter were more dangerous for the Bulgarians than the Serbs because they were born in Macedonia and passed for Macedonian Serbs, During the war most of the colonists were driven to their native land by the Bulgarian authorities but after the war they came back.78
As it was evident from the case with Bitola, the population in Macedonia did not expect the arrival of a person as V. Hadzhikimov who would organize the taking of power by the Bulgarians and the establishing of municipality authorities. The people acted according to the situation. Various types of bodies were formed in the different places. With the arrival of Hadzhikimov those bodies were affiliated with BCCC and were given the name ,,campaign committees". In some places it was quite the opposite: after obtaining the news for the formation of BCCC, local Bulgarian campaign committees were founded without the presence of a management body representative.
Prilep, the native town of Metodii Koussev, Danail Krapchev and Dimitur Talev, the brothers Yordan and Dimitur Chkatrov had always been a Bulgarian stronghold in Macedonia. As early as 1838 the citizens had a Bulgarian church, rejecting the dominance of the Greek Phanariot clergy. The formation of a campaign committee in the town did not pass without mishaps. The Serbs gave away the municipality and the Bulgarians organized a committee for taking of the administrative power. In spite of that, however, like the citizens of Tetovo, they could not agree who should come at the head of the municipality. The struggle for prestige was led on personal basis between the groups round the old teacher Milan Nebrekliev and of the lawyer Rampo Ivanov Toplichanets. 79
The arrival and the interference of Hadzhikimov appeared to be on time. The lawyer as more conciliatory gave priority to Milan Nebrekliev who became president of the newly formed campaign committee. The election took place during the meeting on which a decision was made the policy of the BCCC for accession with Bulgaria to be followed. The citizens perceived the idea the committee for taking the power, with its sections - cultural educational, informational, preparatory and financial, to be renamed in “advisory body” with the local campaign committee, formed on April 26. For secretary was chosen Alexander Hadzhizdravev, and for cashier - Haralambi Achev. Advisors in the executive committee were Kosta Milchinov, Kosta Zhabliankov and Milan Yoskov. The name of Dimitur Chkatrov was added to the minutes later in a different handwriting, which meant that he was not present and was chosen later on. His name actually was not among the members of the Central Bureau, that existed up to then, nor in the operating commissions. (Document No. 24).80
Even before the arrival of Hadzhikimov the members of the commission had arrested, all Serbian clerks and policemen who were guilty for the murder of several young people from Prilep, who had deserted from the Yugoslav army: The committee organized allowances by the municipality to the families of those killed in the struggle with the Serbian authorities. In the town was initiated an action finding out the graves of the Bulgarian officers and soldiers from World War I.81
On his way back to Skopje, V. Hadzhikimov founded a local campaign committee in the village of Drachevo in Skopje region. In his memoirs he indicated that at the head of the committee was a man from the Zhezhovs family, but he could not recall his name.82
The Bulgarian women from Macedonia always kept their national consciousness alert and played important role in the revolutionary struggles. In that crucial moment, abreast with the tradition, they took active part in the events. By the initiative of a group of women patriots from Skopje in the presence of the Secretary Organizer of BCCC, Hadzhikimov founded a Women's Union with BCCC. The constituent meeting was held on April 30, 1941 in the hall of the musical school in Skopje. On it was chosen the executive Committee wit the following members: Mariika Ivanova Shaleva, President, Ekaterina Voynova, Deputy President, Rada Stoycheva and Kostadinka Hadzhimaneva, Secretaries, and Sonya Atanasova and Gana Atanasova, Cashiers. As advisors were elected: Elena Ivanova, Victoria Atanassova, Kitincheva, Liuba Dimcheva, Spaska Voynova, Gana Tsvetkova, Radka Zografska (Document No. 25).83 In honour of its formation, the Women's Union with BCCC sent a greeting telegram to Tsaritsa Yoanna (Document No. 26).84
After a short stay in Skopje, Hadzhikimov together with the journalist Kroum Naoumov set off to the south and formed campaign committees in Gradsko, Valandovo, Dimirkapia, Bogdantsi, Doyran and Gevgeli.85 His final aim was Salonica.
The situation in Aegean Macedonia, however, was quite different from that in Vardar area: Instead of open meetings of the citizens, secret ones were organized. During the tour, Kr. Naoumov, who spoke German fluently, got in touch with the German commandant and the military authorities and tried to convince them that the administrative should have to be taken by the Bulgarians, Everywhere the answer was ”We have nothing against it. Give us a proof that you are majority and everything will be all right." They knew very well that by means of unbearable assimilation in Aegean Macedonia the Greek authorities had driven away greater part of the population to Bulgaria and in their place had settled lots of Greek refugees from the Asia Minor. At that time Enidzhevardar counted 9000 people and from them 6000 were Greek refugees. However that did not disturb the apostle spirit of V. Hadzhikimov. The Greeks were shocked by the defeat and were scared so they did not oppose to the active Bulgarian spirit. “A well organized minority always will be stronger than a demoralized majority."86 Of course, Hadzhikimov had in mind the changing of the ethnic feature of Aegean Macedonia in near future when the refugees from liberated Bulgaria would come back.
Before Salonica, Hadzhikimov visited the towns of Lerin, Voden, Enizhevardar and Gyumenzhe, and he managed to organize committees in Voden and Lerin.
The documents for the formation of the campaign committee in Aegean Macedonia were not preserved. V. Hadzhikimov indicated in his memoirs the following people as active participants in the committee in Lerin: Georgi Torkov, Kosta Apostolov, Pandil Giorev, Kosta Naoumov, Dimo Bachani, Filip Bozhinov Penev and Spiro Atanassov. The active members of the committee of Voden were Atanas Samarzhiev, Peter Kovachev, Hristo Radivchev, Peter Samardzhiev, Georgi Tressinchev, Sotir Koronov, Georgi Gendzhev, Georgi Hadzhipeev, Vangel Sarakinov. In the committee of Goumendzhe: Georgi Vassilev, Peter Katranov, Hristo Hadzhimichorov, Georgi Trenkov, Dino Pophristov, Dimitur Dzekov, Hristo Koussidonov, Hristo Zelenkov, Todor Todorov, Blagoy Avramov, Avramov brothers. In Enidzhevardar, Hadzhikimov did not organize a committee, but in his memoirs he pointed the most active members with whom he was in touch were Georgi Daskalov, Georgi Parishov, Mihail Mandalov, Dimitur Mandalov, Hristo Babaliev, Georgi Touchov Doumov, Dimitur Popkochov, Peter Ugrinov, Hristo Makrishov, Perikli Giupchanov, Georgi Yankoulov, Georgi Kaiafov, Kolio Kadriev, Stamat Mechov and Georgi Zeskov.87
I shall give only one example of the situation of the Bulgarian population in Aegean Macedonia, where it was subject to a continuous moral and physical torment. On September 21, 1941 the German authorities in Voden gave an order the Bulgarians from the town of Goumendje and the near villages to declare their national origin. However, the Greek municipality authorities released that order not until the evening of October 4. The deadline was at October 5, 5 p.m. The few Bulgarians who learned about that order were warned from the Greek administration that those who declare their nationality would be deported. So the German authorities did not obtain accurate data for the ethnic features that region. 88
In Salonica Hadzhikimov found an organization already created for taking the power - Club of the Bulgarians from Aegean Macedonia. The idea for the name “club” obviously came from the Bulgarian constitution clubs from 1908. That club, however, according to Hadzhikimov resembled a representative office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sofia rather than an organization which would raise the slogan for taking of the power and accession to Bulgaria, The club was under the management of Chaushev, Yaranov and Beshevliev.89 After a tour round Salonica Hadzhikimov estimated that it would be better not to establish campaign committee, but leave the activities to the club.90
The emigration from Aegean Macedonia to Bulgaria also wanted to help. A letter from the citizens of Kostour who had a committee in Sofia is preserved. The committee appealed to the Tsar of the Bulgarians, Boris III with a request for the accession of Kostour region to Bulgaria. They described in details the history of the region, proving their right to belong to Bulgaria.91
After his tour in Aegean Macedonia, Hadzhikimov returned to Skopje. He deviated to Gevgeli, where on a meeting of the population on May 29, 1941 a local campaign committee was formed. It consisted of 50 people. The president of the Executive Committee was Dr. Mitsev (Document No. 27). Deputy President was Alexander Hadzhinankov, Secretary was Todor Mandalov, Deputy Secretary - Hristo Paketchiev and Cashier - Vassil Hadzhikarkalashev.
On the next day, May 30, Hadzhikimov formed a committee in Kavadartsi, the main town of Tikvesh area. There the meeting chose for president of the committee Blagoy Atanassov. Deputy President was Hristo Seizov, Secretaries were Georgi Badev and Slavcho Temkov, Cashier Blazho Shkartov and advisors: Blagoy Elenov, Peter Todorov, Nikola Shishkov, Vassil Hadzhivassilev, Metodi Manev, Blagoy Grigorov, Pane Shahiyazov, Dimitur Apostolov, Hristo Choulev and the priest Blagoy Zaharkov (Document No. 28).92
That did not mean however that in Kavadartsi the people expected Hadzhikimov to form a committee. As in other places, it was already formed. On April 23, 1941 they had organized a meeting on which for a president of the campaign committee was chosen Vassil Seizov, The meeting voted for a greeting letter to Tsar Boris III, pronouncing him “Tsar of all Bulgarians". The letter contained an appeal “whole Macedonia to be included in the borders of United Bulgaria" (Document No. 29).93 Greeting letter was sent also to Bogdan Filov. In it the Bulgarians from Kavadartsi and the region shared their joy with the prime-minister for the liberation of “classical Bulgarian land Macedonia". They expected eagerly the Bulgarian government to take the power in the region (Document No.30).94 In the presence of Hadzhikimov only the president of the committee was changed - the Deputy President Blagoy Anastassov was chosen for that position. Not in vain in the minutes for the formation of the committee in Kavadartsi it was said that the goal of the meeting was to reorganize the committee on a broader basis among the citizens with an aim unanimity between the population in Kavadartsi to be created" to the benefit of the country and the people".45
After Kavadartsi, Hadzhikimov visited Negotin. There he stayed at the house of Doncho Moyssov, a barber, father of the well-known Lazar Moyssov, at that time a student al Kliment Ochridski Sofia University. There a campaign committee was already formed, with Yordan Bouhov at the head. That happened on April 13, 1941 when a so called community committee was formed with members Yordan Bouhov, Georgi Bozhkov, Pane Apostolov, Ivan Mishev, Boris Chavoushov, Yordan Kamchev and Dime Danailov. For president of the committee and for mayor of the town was elected Yordan Bouhov. The citizens of Negotin reported in Skopje that they have taken the municipality. In their letter to the BCCC they turned to it as if it was their government and asked for instructions for further activity (Document No. 31).96
The formation of campaign committees round Macedonia should not be examined as a deed of several activists patriots but as a people's deed, as a statement of the alert Bulgarian spirit in the crucial time of April 1941. It represented the national self-determination, a desire of the people, who after the liberation from the Serbian rule wanted to be accessed to the liberated Bulgarian Fatherland. It should be reminded without underestimating the work of the activists, that if the formation of the campaign committees was performed in an avalanche manner, the reason for that was that the Bulgarian population in Macedonia was psychologically prepared for such a sacred deed. They needed only a spark to be ignited. Not everywhere V. Hadzhikimov managed to go personally. In many places the Bulgarians took the initiative by themselves to form committees and take the power. So in Kratovo the citizens gathered on May 2 and after some discussions about the situation they formed a local campaign committee for the town and the region. Their purpose was to be “useful to the Bulgarian country". For president of the committee was chosen Dr, Trayche Manev, for Deputy President - Kotse Chepishev, for Secretaries - Dimitur Popandov and Georgi Axentiev, and for Cashier - Ilia Potsev. Advisors in the Executive Committee were Doncho Shantartakov, Georgi Ignatov, Stephan Chepishev, Risto Tsrevarov and Vakenti Goloubov (Document No. 32).97
There was no information about the formation of campaign committee in Stroumitsa. Zaria newspaper however wrote that in the town and in the villages the power was taken by the population. Civil militia was formed and armed by the German authorities.98
Interesting were also the events in Lazaropole - a big Bulgarian village in the western part of Macedonia. At the meeting where 150 people were present Yakim Georgiev and Toma Petrov explained the line and the tasks of BCCC for Macedonia. For President was chosen Yakim Georgiev, for Deputy President - Georgi Simeonov and for Cashier - Kiril Vassev (Document No. 33). The same day Yakim Georgiev informed BCCC that a campaign committee was formed in the village and requested further instructions. In a letter the population of Lazaropole acclaimed the course of BCCC for accession to Bulgaria and asked for protection of their interests before the Italian authorities until the arrival of the Bulgarian army (Document Ho. 34).100
After several days, on May 8, the president of the campaign committee in Lazaropole was changed. In the report was said that the change was implied due to health reasons. For a new president was chosen Gavril K. Koukov. The whole management was changed as well. For Deputy President was elected Ivan Petrov and for Secretaries were chosen Avram Popov and Georgi Simeonov. For Organizing Secretary was chosen Arso Ginev and for Cashier Kiril Vassilev. Members of the Executive Committee became Tosho Grouev, Stephan Stephanov, Radoil Damianov, Kouman Yoskov, Vlado Georgiev, Kruste Donev, Yanko Sekov, Atanas Kouzev, Tomo Kostov, Pane Tripounov, Tofe Fidanov, Arso Ginev. What was the real reason for this change remained unclear. A control commission and an advising council that consisted of 97 people.
It was possible the change of the management to be due to health reasons as the activity of the campaign committees was very dynamic and had to be managed by healthy and energetic people. Maybe it was not by accident that after the election of Gavril Koukov for president, the citizens sent a delegation to the Italian military authorities with an application to raise the Bulgarian flags in every house. Of course, in order to gain permission they had to raise the German and the Italian flags as well. However, the Italians did not agree easily, knowing well the inclinations of the population, its Bulgarian national belonging, and after all its aspirations for accession.
The people from Lazaropole managed to obtain what they want and showed determination and defiance. They turned their church celebration in manifestation of their desire their native land to be integrated to Bulgaria. Like during the Revival the struggle for independent church was the cornerstone for self-determination of the Bulgarians so that church celebration turned into a feast of Bulgarian spirit.
The church with its representatives should serve mostly in the name of Bulgarian. But that was not the case in Lazaropole. The priest refused the proposition of the president of the local campaign committee to mention the name of the Bulgarian Tsar in the service. It happened that instead of the church playing a leading role in the struggle for accession with Bulgaria, that role was taken by the campaign committee chosen by the peasants. (Document No. 35).101
The impressions about his tour round Macedonia as well as his consideration about the formation and the functioning of the campaign committees Hadzhikimov expressed later in a short report to the commander of the Bulgarian army in Macedonia. (Document No. 43).102
The minutes of the meeting for the formation of a campaign committee in the town of Kroushevo were not found. V. Hadzhikimov did not visit the town personally. An invitation to Tsar Boris III to join the celebrations in the town in 1903 makes it evident that a committee was already formed in the town. The invitation was signed by the deputy president of the committee and the mayor of the town, Ivan Popov. Along with expressing their joy with the liberation of Kroushevo the citizens submitted their patriotic feelings" to the Tsar. (Document No. 36).103
The social structure of the campaign committees was exceptionally variable. In the lists with hundreds of participants in the counseling bodies and the executive committees one could find the names of craftsmen, peasants, doctors, lawyers, tradesmen, millers, butchers, engineers, barbers, workers and teachers. However the clerks predominated. It was impossible exact and specific social characteristic of that movement and its power to be given. The short period during which they existed, the abrupt and underlined domination of the national element allowed only a general estimation of that activity. At the head of the movement were the intellectuals who inspired the tradesmen, craftsmen, farmers and others. As it was evident a greater part of population actively participated in the formation of the campaign committees in 1941, which added a democratic element to the task of establishing Bulgarian authorities from the very beginning, and this gave to the task a democratic character from the beginning.