Saturday, October 28, 2006
1. THE ORIGIN OF THE MACEDONIAN QUESTION AS A PART OF THE MACEDONO-THRACIAN QUESTION.
Rivalries over the Balkans are with a long history. Especially important for the future developments were the rivalries between Greeks and Romans. The native population of the Peninsula - Thracians and Illirians were partly hellenized, when the strong Roman Empire latinized them - I-Vth C. This influence is still felt among the Romanians and the Albanians. The Asiatic Barbarian tribes Ostgots, Westgots and Huns at Vth C. genocide this population, thus opening the door before the new “guests” - the Slavs. From the Antic ethnicities - Illirians, Thracians and Hellens remained only a pretty small number of people who formed latter the following nations: Albanians, Romanians and Greeks.
But if not all of the people survived, it was not the same with the names of the tribes, and the districts they used to live in. Names like Moesia, Thrace, Illiria, Macedonia, Dalmacia, Slavonia, Dobroudja, Moravia not only survived, but were used long years and centuries after the people from the original ethnicity were not existing. (There is a practice in the United States and Canada Indian words to be used for different geographical objects. Even the names of some of the states are Indian. But: nobody would say that the people from suppose Indiana are Indians. In some cases the people living in these districts used to be called by the name of the district.)
The Renaissance, with its sentimental attitude towards the Antic world, revived these names, and gave a push to the practice of renewing their use. In times of Napoleon a state named Illiria was organized and its citizens - pure Slavs, were called Illirians without having even a drop of Illirian blood. In the US cities like Memphis people have nothing to do with Egypt, but the latter was not angry with this.
In Berlin 1878 the whole body of the Bulgarian nation was divided into two main parts: liberated Bulgarians, subjects of the country called Bulgaria, and Bulgarians under foreign power. The latter, deep in their soul did not recognize the moral and the law of the foreign nations. They did not want to call themselves Turks (Ottomans), Serbs and Romanians. So they started calling themselves with the names from the Antic world: Macedonians, Thracians, Moravians and Dobroudjans. And when they formed their revolutionary organizations, and bombs started to burst, the documents of the official European representatives started very often using these words. Most often of course, was mentioned the name Macedonia. It was not only because of the Greatness of Alexander. Simply because here the Bulgarians were much a greater number than in the other districts and the struggle here was most severe.
x x x
In the mid-15th C. all the Balkan Peninsula was covered by the Ottomans. For more than 400 years the pendulum of the normal development of the Balkan peoples was stopped. In the Ottoman Empire were two kinds of people: Muslims and others. The boundaries among the smallest Balkan countries were forgotten and not valid any more. And when the 19th C. came - the Century of Liberation of Balkan countries, the first question that arose, was of course: where would be the boundaries between the Balkan countries. History was invited as an assistant - but who would recognize the history - more than 400 years have passed. New times had come: nations were formed on the basis of the ethnicities. Those nations wanted to create nation states. But what about the territories? Which is the territory to form a nation state, since long years and centuries these territories are possession of the Ottoman Empire - mixed with population of different nations and ethnicities. In this case a concept - not official, but much reasonable and just, took place: the territory of a nation would be the one over which most of the population is of a one nation. The majority would be of an absolute character - if more than half of all the population is of one nation, and of a relative character - if it is the prevailing element. (The principle of the majority of the population is not a Balkan invention, it is an universal one. Here I only remind about it.)
The nations were young and full of energy, but the Empire didn’t easily give up. The Europeans needed strong Ottoman Empire to oppose Russia. In this case the young Balkan nations had to make strong efforts to prove themselves. They had to loudly express their strength, their number, their culture, and religion. Otherwise who would believe in their majority at a given place. Besides that cultures and religions was very difficult to be differentiated. People of one and the same language were subordinates to different religions; and people from one religion spoke different languages. Where is the nation: the most important components of a nation - territory, language and religion is difficult to be taken into consideration. In this case only the loudly proclaimed self-determination of the people to be a nation would help: active participation in the education activities, active participation in the ecclesiastical struggles, in the armed struggles for independence - this is what shaped the 19th C. Balkans; this is the surrounding when the Macedonian question appeared.
All the authors unanimously claim that the Macedonian political question appeared after the Berlin Treaty, and it was as a part of the Bulgarian question. Why? Because according to the latter Bulgarian territories were left under Ottoman domination, and the struggle in the Empire continued. It was especially strong in Macedonia and this made the name of the district appear very often in the politics. Up to 1878 there was not any noise about Macedonia, it was very rarely mentioned in the European documents. In this light it seems very strange that many authors are putting the sign of equals between the name “Macedonia” and “Macedonian question”. Writing about the Macedonian question, they start writing the history of the geographical region, called “Macedonia”.
Up to 1876 in Europe the ethnical, economical and political questions, connected with the Ottoman Empire had the common name Eastern Question. It was not unless the April Uprising of 1876 took place in Bulgaria that the name “Bulgarian Question” took place in Europe as a nucleus of the Eastern Question. In Hoover Institution was found a document that expresses that it was due to two important American personalities: Dr.George Washburn and Dr.Albert L.Long. The first one was the director and the other the assistant director of the American school in Constantinople - the famous Robert College, where many of the extinguished Bulgarians were trained at the time. They were informed by the Bulgarians about the Turkish brutalities in the Philippopolis district in April 1876. “Without losing a moment of time, these two philantropic Americans set to work and persuaded their good friend Mr.Edwin Pears to send a full account of the Turkish barbarities to the London newspaper “The Daily News”. This was the first important communication that appeared in foreign newspapers and it produced the result expected of it - it horrified the public oppinion of the civilized world and set European diplomacy in motion. Full accounts of the massacres were sent by these same two Americans to all the embasies in Constantinople and also to all the more prominent members of the British Parliament, which latter circumstance led Mr. Foster, the Secretary of State for Ireland, to put a question to put a question on the subject in the House of Commons... Accordingly, it was necessary to forestall and to nullify the influence of the prejudiced British enquiry. That was the most critical moment for the cause of emancipation, because on it depended the creation of a “Bulgarian question” in European diplomacy.” And further: “Mr. McGahan’s telegram after his return from Batak and Mr.Schuyler’s report on the Turkish atrocities saved from extinction the work of emancipation begun so heroically by the Bulgarians. But without the help of Dr.George Washburn and Dr.Albert Long, who were the direct cause of this saving undertaking, Gladstone’s name would never have come to be forever bound up with the liberation of Bulgaria, and the Bulgarian nation would never have existed, and the Russian Tsar would never have proclaimed the war of emancipation.” Although the author of the document surely exagerated, it may be sure that without these representatives of the rapidly developing and ful with modern ideas New World, Bulgarian cause would have had much difficulties. And what is important for this paper, this is surely the explanation given that from 1876 on, the Bulgarian Question already strongly appeared on the European scene as a some sort a continuation of the Eastern Question. Leaving territories populated with Bulgarians under Turkish domination did not disolve the Bulgarian Question, it simply deepened the problems.
So, Bulgarian territories were left under Ottoman domination. But how do we know their boundaries? Or at least what were the developments, which led to the expression of the Bulgarian population to be the majority at certain regions, which then one could call Bulgarian.
Everyone who is familiar with the Ottoman Empire, knows that its main law is the law of the Sheriat (the religious law). According to the Sheriat the Muslims are master, no matter what language are they speaking, and the others are subordinates. All the religions had only one representative before the Sultan. The Ortodoxes had as a representative the Constaqntinople’s Patriarch. It was injustice, because according to the canons, the Ortodoxes have different Bishoprics which are not dependent from one another. On the Balkans there were together with the Constantinople (which was the traditional Byzantine), also - the Serbian bishopric in Pech (Kosovo), and the Bulgarian - in Ohrid (Macedonia). This was the tradition from the Medieval times. The transformation of the Byzantine Hellenistic ethnicity into a Greek nation tended to make the Slavic Bulgarian and Serbian people Greek. Constantinople Patriarchate, using its privileged position before the Sultan imposed everywhere in the churches the Greek language. The Ohrid Archbishopry, although called Bulgarian, was occupied by only Greek priests. These actions provoked reactions. In 1762 the Bulgarian monk Paisiy Hilendarski (born in Bansko, Macedonia), wrote the first Bulgarian history, which enlightened the people. It was rewritten and red by almost by the whole nation. The reaction of the Patriarchate was furious. Five years later - in 1767, the Bulgarian Archbishopry in Ohrid was forbidden. (About the same time the same happened with the Serbian one in Pech). This appeared the main reason for an ecclesiastical struggle, which continued a hundred years.
This struggle in fact helped the formation of the Bulgarian nation. In this struggle there was little room in the middle - one either declares himself for Bulgarian language in the churches and in schools, or for the Greek. There were people, speaking Bulgarian language, who refused their mothers’ language and preferred to choose the more “cultural” Greek one (let’s remember the case with Elsas and Loreign. The Germans there preferred in fact the French culture.) The others declared themselves Bulgarians, which meant in fact - a struggle for the renewal of the Bulgarian Ohrid Archbishopry. There was not a single man to give any idea for any other national church. (Noone even thought about whatever Macedonian church). Of course the process of developments of the Serbian national Church was in some way or other parallel, but it concerned only the territories of the Pech Patriarchate. There was not a single Serbian in the territory of the Ohrid Bulgarian Archbishopry.
At that time the interests of the Bulgarians clashed with the Russian ones’ and coincided with the Ottomans’ . Russians were against whatever division and thus weakening of the Orthodox world. The Ottomans, on the contrary, aimed at weakening the enslaved population. Thus in 1870 the Sultan edicted a Ferman with which the boundaries of the Bulgarian nation were framed; this happened on the basis of the ecclesiastical struggles. The Bulgarian church, with center in Constantinople, called Exarchate emerged, and it included all the territories of the Beylerbey (an Ottoman administrative unit) called “Roumelia”. (Roumelia included the three districts often mentioned as Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia.)
Together with the ecclesiastical struggle Bulgarian revolutionary movement gained strength. It’s culmination was the April Uprising of 1876. Suppressed with cruelties, it provoked the Peace Conference in Constantinople - December 1876 - January 1877. The participants at the Conference - the Ambassadors of the Great Powers made a proposal to the Sultan: to make two separate autonomous states for the Bulgarians - Eastern and Western. They should be on the basis of the territories where the Bulgarians had self-determinate themselves.
When the Russian Army defeated the Ottomans in 1878 in the Russia-Turkish War, on 1878, March 3rd in San-Stephano (near Constantinople) was signed the San-Stephano Peace Treaty. According to it the decisions from the Conference in Constantinople from January 1878 had to be taken into consideration. The difference was that instead of two, only one autonomous Bulgarian state should be organized.
San-Stephano Peace Treaty rendered some small portions of the Bulgarian Exarchate to Romania and Serbia as a reward for their active participation in the war. Nevertheless it united almost all of the territories, populated with a predominant Bulgarian population. Much of the bloodshed of the past thirty years at the Balkan Peninsula might have been avoided if this Treaty was allowed to stand.
Addressing the Reichstag on 19th February 1878, i.e. fortnight before the signing of the Treaty of San-Stephano, the German Chancellor Prince Otto von Bismarck said: “The ethnographic situation of Bulgaria, as I know it from authentic sources and as it appears in the best map I know - that of [German geographer Heinrich] Kiepert - is this: The boundaries of the Bulgarian nationality descend on the west, almost without any mixture, even beyond Salonica”. He argued that as they had already been drawn at the Constantinople Conference, the borders of Bulgaria would be no trouble at all to fix.
The political circles in Europe, however, were well aware that the Treaty, signed in San-Stephano was just a preliminary agreement intended to end the war rather than to achieve a durable settlement of the Bulgarian Question. On April 1, 1878, the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Salisbury sent a note to the Governments of the European Powers, listing in very specific terms Great Britain’s reasons for insisting on a revision of the Treaty of San-Stephano. The primary consideration of Downing street was that a large Slav state would be created in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, bordering on the Black Sea and the Aegean. Austria-Hungary also refused to agree that “a Greater Bulgaria should block its access to Salonica”. Germany adopted a more peculiar line of conduct vis-à-vis the Anglo-Russian dispute over the Bulgarian question after San-Stephano. Chancellor Otto von Bismarck offered to act as an “honest broker” between Russia and the West European Powers. Faced with the imminent threat of a possible war with the emerging European coalition, Russia bowed to pressure and admitted the revision of the San-Stephano Peace Treaty at a Congress of the European Powers. St. Petersburg signed an agreement with London on April 30, 1878, according to which the territory of Bulgaria would be reduced in the west and south, and the Bulgarian lands would be split into two.
In fact the Bulgarian territories were split not into two, but into several pieces: North Bulgaria, called Principality Bulgaria was a tributary (dependent from the Ottoman Empire) Principality. The district southern from the Balkan Mountain was an autonomous district, called “Eastern Roumelia”. Nevertheless the two districts were dependent by the Ottoman Empire, the Bulgarians there had for themselves the feeling to be free, at least feeling their road to freedom not so long. But the carma of the Bulgarians from the other districts was not the same. Dobroudja was given to Romania, Moravia to Serbia, Macedonia and Thrace remained in of the Ottoman Empire. Bulgarians, living in these districts, being not objects of the country Bulgaria, called themselves Moesians, Thracians, Macedonians, Dobroudjans. Later on all the ethnicities inhabiting these districts acquired these names. And it was here - on the very Berlin Treaty, when the word Macedonia appeared with a political sense: the Berlin Treaty promised to the Bulgarian population there to be granted some kind of autonomy, similar to the one, given to Crete. This promise appeared later for legitimizing the struggle of the Bulgarian population in Macedonia and Thrace against the Ottoman Empire.
The decision of the Great Powers to convene a congress in Berlin to review the San-Stephano Treaty deeply alarmed the Macedonian Bulgarians. A large-scale petition campaign was started - collecting signatures and addressing memoranda and pleas to the representatives of the Great Powers. As long as the sessions of the Berlin Congress continued, however, no armed struggle was initiated. The Bulgarians from Macedonia and Thrace still trusted the conscience of the European diplomats. They sent a note to the envoys of the Great Powers to Constantinople, which expressed their hopes that “the exellent men sitting at the High Seat, inspired by philantropic sentiments, will impose an European sanction on the San-Stephano treaty thus recovering our ultimate deliverance”. The broad strata of the Bulgarian people took an active part in this campaign. The national character of the legal action was enhanced the moet by the active participation of the Bulgarian intelligentsia in Macedonia in it.
The decisions of the Berlin Congress crushed the hopes of the Macedonian Bulgarians to live a free life. Now, along with expanding the scope of the petition campaign, the Bulgarians of Macedonia already started preparations for an armed struggle as well. Most active in these preparations turned out to be those regions in which secret preparations were made and uprisings carried out during the revolutionary crisis of 1875-1876.
After the end of the Russo-Turkish War the social and economic situation of the population in the districts remaining under Ottoman rule abruptly deteriorated. A wave of fierce settlers from the liberated lands - the Muhadjir Turks - appropriated the dwellings of the Bulgarian population, ransacked them of their property and committed acts of violence and inflames.
The reasons which led to the Kresna-Razlog Uprising - the foreign national and religious oppression and the semi-feudal methods of exploitation of the Bulgarian population in the conditions of stepped-up terror in the Ottoman Empire. The actual cause for the uprising however were the unfair decisions of the Berlin Congress which doomed the Bulgarians of Thrace and Macedonia to slavery. Therefore, the goal of the Uprising was attaining national freedom and destroying the monstrous forms of the semi-feudal Ottoman system by creating an integral Bulgarian state. The Kresna-Razlog Uprising was a direct continuation of the Bulgarian national liberation bourgeois-demovratic revolution having started during the period of the National Revival and continuing during the Russo-Turkish War. This Uprising was the embodiment of the strivings for national liberation and unification of the entire Bulgarian people at that time. The Uprising expressed the all-Bulgarian nature of the national revolution. Bulgarian patriots of all liberated and of not liberated territories fought in the ranks of the insurgents.
In order to clarify the nature of the Uprising one should make a brief review of its driving forces. The struggle was waged by the entire Bulgarian nation, but the largest masses of the Bulgarian population were the peasants. That is why the main driving force were the peasants living in the districts of Melnik, Petrich, Demirhissar, Razlog, Nevrokop and Serres. Peasants of other parts of Macedonia also took part in the Uprising. The wide participation of Bulgarian peasantry in the uprising was attributable to its aspirations to get rid of the hard socio-economic conditions and resolve the still pending and aggravated agrarian question in the region.
By that time the peasantry populating the Bulgarian lands consisted of two main groups - raya peasants and farm hands. The former owned a small lot of land and were gathered in relatively large semi-mountainous villages. The latter were practically void of land and worked as hired hand on the farms belonging to Moslem feudal lords. And that is why it was namely in Macedonia where the number of such farms was several times bigger than in the remaining Bulgarian lands that the agrarian question and the eastern, semi-feudal methods of exploitation stood with full force.
The main goal of the armed struggle though, was expressed most clearly in the letter of the Melnik rebels of December 11,1878, which they sent to the chief of the Petrich police: “We took up the arms and will not leave them until we get united with the Bulgarian Principality”. The rebels were aware that fighting for national liberation and unification they were actually fighting for the destruction of the feudal ways and for obtaining land.
Typical for the uprising was the mass-scale participation of volunteers - Bulgarians of all parts of the country. Some figures as an illustration: 100 volunteers from Sofia, 27 from Tirnovo, 65 from Pazardjik, 19 from Troyan, 31 from Pleven, 74 from Botevgrad region, 129 from the Plovdiv district, 7 from Provadia and 30 from Thrace. A large number of insurgents and leaders of different parts of Macedonia also participated in the uprising.
The main driving force of the uprising in the Razlog valley was the Bulgarian population of Bansko, Dolno and Gorno (Lower and Upper) Draglishte, Bachevo, Godlevo, Belitsa, Eleshnitsa. Here the uprising was carried out on a mass scale and, contrary to the insurrectionist operations along the valley of the river Strouma where Bulgarian volunteers of everywhere were fighting, almost all of the rebels were local Bulgarian population and formed a homogenious group. The reasons for this local activity were of social and economic nature. In their greater part the peasants here were free owners. At the same time there were social and political reasons as well. The Razlog district actively participated in the national liberation movement of the Bulgarian people. A great number of revolutionary committees which did not succeed in making the population rise in arms in 1876, now formed the main organizing bodies of the Razlog uprising. The main figures in the preparations for the April Uprising were leading this uprising now.
At the beginning the discontent and the protests of the Bulgarians from Macedonia against the unfair and reactionary Berlin dictat were spontaneous in nature. The seats of resistance of the Macedonian Bulgarians were the border towns of Kyustendil and Gorna Djoumaya where great numbers of refugees from Macedonia, hajdouk bands and ex-leaders were concentrated. Everyday there were clashes in those regions between rebel bands passing the borders and Turkish border troops, and in the interior of Macedonia clashes between bands and Turkish forces. At the same time a large portion of the emigrants from Macedonia and Thrace got concentrated in Sofia - mainly the intelligentsia, consisting of Macedonian Bulgarians. Under the form of a charity committee the latter began active prepatations for an uprising. This was helped by the arrival of Nathanail Ohridski, a former bishop of Ohrid, who not only approved the work of the Sofia emigres but took the lead of the movement imself.
The beginning of the course towards an armed uprising as a protest against the desisions of the Berlin Congress was spelt at the meeting in the Rila Monastery, held on September 8, 1878. This meeting was attended by eminent “cheti” leaders and representatives of the clergy and the intelligentsia. A decision was made to organize armed detachments to defend the border and the Bulgarian population from the bashi-bozouk attacks, and at the same time to carry out intensive preparations for an uprising. Joint struggle was organised with Petko Voivode - the chief organizer and leader of the Thracian bands.
At the end of August and the beginning of September charity committees called “Edinstvo” (Unity) began to be set up in the Principality. The initiative for this belonged to the former revolutionaries Lyuben Karavelov, Stephan Stambolov and Hristo Ivanov - Senior. The missions of the “Edinstvo” committees, as clearly expressed in their name, was to render moral and material backing to the resistance movement started among the Bulgarians in Macedonia and Thrace aimed against the decisions of the Berlin Congress. With their urgent requests for help to the Bulgarians of the Bulgarian Principality and Eastern Roumelia, the active figures of this movement contributed to the establishment of these committees.
The Kresna-Razlog Uprising opened in the morning of October 5,1878. About 400 rebels attacked the Turkish garrison at the Kresna Inns and after 18 hours of fighting succeeded to crush its resistance. Led by Adam Kalmikov, a former Russian officer, Dimiter Popgueorgiev and Stoyan Karastoilov, the rebels captured 119 soldiers and two officers. The success of the Kresna operation inspired the rebels and lowered the combat spirit of the Turkish soldiers.. Right after this victory the insurgents headed to the south and incited the rural population along the river Strouma to revolt. In co0nsequent fighting the rebels seized 43 inhabited points and established a free territory, extending in the south to the villages Belitsa and Gradeshnitsa, seized the “Karshiak” in the southwest and the “Predela” Pass in the southeast. Scores of individual bands operated outside the range of the range of direct insurrectional activities. The leaders of the uprising were approached by delegations requesting armaments and support. The entire Bulgarian population in Macedonia was excited and waiting for a chance to join in the uprising and win their freedom.
On November 8, 1878 the Uprising started in the Razlog area as well. Led by Banyo Marinov, the rebels seized Bansko - the biggest inhabitted place - and liberated the whole district.
The hostilities were supervised by the headquarters of the uprising under the command of Dimiter Popgueorgiev. In the inhabitted points there were set up Councils of Elders and local police chieves were elected as the bodies of the new revolutionary power. The duties of these bodies included the administrative structure of the liberated territories, securing the order in the district, mobilizing new fighters and providing support from the liberated Bulgarian territories.
The Turkish powers mobilized strong forces to crush the Uprising. The eight-thousand strong regular Turkish army and the huge masses of the bashi-bozouks, after heavy fightings, drouned the rebels in their blood. Hundreds of women, children and old people fell victim to the bashi-bozouk outrage. A large number of refugees headed for the free bounds of the homeland. To a large extent the division of oppinions among the leaders of the Uprising also contributed to the defeat. A Central Committee was set up only later. It included Nathanail Ohridski and the former members of the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee of 1874-1876 - start the preparations for a new uprising in the spring of the next year. To the purpose there were trained 400 insurgents with the intention to cross the frontier and form the main body ensuring the continuation of the uprising. In May 1878 this detachment entered Macedonia, but irrespective of the sympathies of the population it failed to fulfil the task set, due to the lack of efficient preliminary organization. The detachment crossed the river Vardar, destroyed the railways, fought against the Turkish forces, but was dispersed and defeated to death. This was the end of the Uprising, though the activity of a number of detachments was continued in various regions. In 1880 Ohrid was on the brink of an uprising.
In crushing the Uprising and the insurrectional unrest in Macedonia the Turkish authorities repeated the atrocities committed in suppressing the April Uprising of 1876. The Bulgarian and foreign press abunded with reports on the Turkish brutality towards the Bulgarian population all over Macedonia and first of all in the region of the Uprising. On November 14, 1878 the British “Daily News” wrote about the Macedonian massacre, that the Bulgarian village Krishnitsa, near Melnik was slaughtered by the Turkish troops killing 360 people, fifty Bulgarians fled, but the Turks overtook them and stroke them dead, the newspaper read. The British Counsul in Salonika visited the village of Banya, which was destroyed by fire, the victims in Bansko and Dobrinishte and found that nearly 600 men, women and children had been slain.
The question of the international reverberation of the Uprising was closely related to the policy of the respective state vis-a-vis the Bulgarian problem. The Turkish authorities and the press for instance were trying to misinform the European public oppinion in any possible way regarding the causes, character and range of the Uprising, the support of the Slav Committees in Russia, the participation of Russian officers in the Uprising and so on, and so forth.
With the appearance of the very first reports on the outbreak of a Bulgarian uprising in Macedonia the liberal Russian social circles tried to use it as exerting pressure on the official policy to urge the Porte to apply the Art.23 of the Berlin Treaty. “Novoye Vremya” wrote: “There happen to be Bulgarians in Macedonia. Therefore the Russian policy should thank the Porte for recognizing the Bulgarian nationality in Macedonia and advose it to carry out the reforms.” Some figures of the Interim Russian Government in Bulgaria rendered assistance in organizing the revolt. But the official Russian political line was absolutely alien to such an action. The Uprising broke out in an unfavourable foreign political situation. It could not have been backed by Russia. At that moment she was isolated with regard to Europe, a coalition having been formed against her and contradictions becoming ripe with Germany. Russia was on the brink of a new war.
The official circles in Austria-Hungary responded with alarm to the proclamation of the Uprising and the movement in the interior of Macedonia. The Vienna “Wiener Abendpost” wrote at the end of October 1878: “No doubt, the Uprising is aimed at effecting the founding of Bulgaria under the San-Stephano Peace Treaty. This is why it outstrips the importance of a local crisis and is growing into an all-European question”. The newspapers in Vienna raised a big noise around the number of rebels every day, wrote of non-existent fightings and so on. The press launched a campaign against Russia, trying to depict it as an initiator of the Uprising and accusing her of failing to fulfil the Berlin Treaty. The “Politische Korrespondenz” of October 16, 1878, wrote that “the Slav Committees in Russia supplied guns and money. The purpose of the Uprising is to attach Roumelia, Macedonia and Thrace to the Bulgarian Principality”.
The French Government’s stand was: the limitation of the Russian influence on the Balkans, which actually meant restricting the territory of the Bulgarian state. This was the reason why the outbreak of the Kresna-Razlog Uprising startled the French diplomats making them pay special attention to it. In their reports the French representatives stressed that the insurrectionist movement was Bulgarian in nature and that it was aimed at the restoration of the San-Stephano Bulgaria. The French ambassador to Constantinople Fournier reported for example that the aim of the Uprising was to stir the Bulgarian and Greek population in Eastern Roumelia, Thrace and Macedonia and to annex these three districts to the Bulgarian Principality. According to the French diplomat the insurrectionist movement strived to force Europe to alter the clauses of the Berlin Treaty in the case of Bulgaria. The French diplomats followed very attentively the slightest signs of Bulgarian-Greek rapprochment and the joint participation of the two nationalities in the Uprising. It was considered dangerous in the light of the French stand adopted.
Britain’s attitude towards the Kresna-Razlog Uprising was determined by her attitude towards Turkey, namely to keep the Ottoman possessions on the account of the Balkans and to prevent any growing Russian influence in them. Therefore several days after the Uprising broke out, the newspapers in Britain abounded in accusations over Russia that the latter was instigating the movements in Roumelia and Macedonia and those in Epirus and Thessaly. The “Times” even went as far as reccomending joint action on the part of France, Austria-Hungary and Britain to impel Russia to fulfil the Berlin Treaty.
Although without any direct political interests in the Balkans, Germany’s policy was determined by her course of rapprochment with Austria-Hungary, a fact equally unfavourable for the Kresna-Razlog Uprising. Italy did not have any specific aspirations for the Balkans, and her striving to annexe Trieste and Trentino triggered hostile action to Austria-Hungary on her part. At that the process of unification in Italy had just been completed there and she still remembered her revolutionary struggles. So the Italian representatives were the only ones not to adopt a mistrustful and hostile stand on the Kresna-Razlog Uprising.
It would be of a particular interest to follow the relation and bearing of the Kresna-Razlog Uprising to the National liberation movements of other Balkan peoples in the district. The national liberation movement of the Macedonian Bulgarians was developing in paralel to the Albanian and Greek.
The Albanian League had a specific attitude to the course of events at the time. It made it its aim to crush the Bulgarian detachments for they posed a threat to its interests, aiming to restore San-Stephano Bulgaria. We should naturally mention here the revolutionary movement of Yusuf Ali Bei, an Albanian from Debar. Though insignificant, it came out with a clearly proclaimed programme of joint struggle of the Bulgarian and Albanian population against the Turkish feudal rule. According to Yussouf Bei, the destiny of the Albanians demanded accord and friendship with the Slav peoples and principalities against the plots and claims of the Great Powers on the Balkans, and the honest Albanian patriots had to be well aware of the truth about Macedonia - in the districts, confined between Vranya, Shar, Ohrid, Kostour, up to Achichelebi area, he claimed that there lived about one milion and a half Bulgarians.
The striving of the Bulgarian rebels to organize interaction with the Greek national movement in the southern regions of Macedonia dated back to the time of the preparations for the Kresna-Razlog Uprising. It was stressed in the documents of that time that Greeks also participated in the Bulgarian detachments. The leaders of the Uprising sent over voivode Georgi Karaiskaki, a participant in the Bulgarian volunteer corps during the Russio-Turkish War, and his band to Olimpus, where he had to establish a contact and obtain the support of the local Greek detachments and of those who were passing to the north from Greece. But no alliance of the Bulgarian and the Greek elements was possible to attain.
The Kresna-Razlog Uprising made the climax of the struggles and protests of the Bulgarians in Macedonia against the decisions of the Berlin Congress. According to its purposes and missions it corresponded to the interests and expectations of all the Bulgarians from Macedonia, since it was aimed to their national liberation and unification. And that was why the Uprising strongly echoed among the Bulgarian population in the interior of Macedonia and uplifted the national liberation movement there. The Russian Consul Hitrovo reported: “All the Bulgarians are convinced that either now or in March a serious uprising will surely start. All of them arm themselves in any possible way: there is not a single family without some weapon; but many of them possess rifles acquired from the soldiers of the Sultan’s army”. Till the end of 1878 however, no more overt action was attained. Only local bands appeared here and there and preparations for an uprising were carried out in the spring of 1879.
Most important reason for the limited outcome of the Kresna-Razlog Uprising and its failure was the unfavourable foreign political situation. The liberation struggle of the Bulgarian population in Macedonia and the pursuits of unification of the entire Bulgarian people in the situation set after the Berlin Congress confronted with the interests of the Great Powers, with their resolute and overpowering stand on observing the decisions of the Berlin Treaty.
Irrespective of its falure, the Uprising had some favourable effects. It manifested the high national consciousness and nationality of the population of the area as well as its lofty strivings to throw off the national and social dominion and to live a free life in the same home country with all the other Bulgarians. With its aims and nature the Kresna-Razlog Uprising occupies its due place as a stage and continuation of the Bulgarian national bourgoeis-democratic revolution.
x x x
The failure of the uprising to lead to the liberation and unification of the other parts of the Bulgarian territories directed the attention of the Bulgarian political and strategic leaders to other main strategic objective - unification of the two Bulgarian districts - the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Roumelia, the later being under Sultans power, but still having a large autonomy. Macedonia and Thrace should have to wait.
On September 6th, 1885 the Unification was proclaimed. All the Bulgarian nation supported it. The population was exited as if a revolution has taken place. The Unification was done with almost no casualties, and no adversaries. Even the Ottoman Empire was silent, perhaps not believing that it was possible such an action, directed against the decisions of the Great Powers to take place. And here happened something that helps to understand to what extent the Great Powers were able to play poker with the small ones. Britain of course appeared to be an enemy of a greater Bulgaria. But it happened so that Russia, as if expecting to have in the face of the Bulgarians its own subordinates (citizens), did not agree with the Unification for her own reasons. When in Britain they found out that the secret preparation and the Unification were not done by Russia, London heartily congratulated the Bulgarians. And to make the absurd full, the Serbians, feeling discomforted by the rapid increase of the Bulgarian territory, declared a war to the latter.
A heavy war in a heavy time. Bulgarian army was concentrated on the Bulgaria-Turkish border. Only half of the distance was covered with railway road. More than 100 km had to be passed on foot. Noone recognized the Unification. Russia was against it. All Russian officers and functionaries, the Defense Minister in that number, a Russian General, were ordered to go to Russia; the sentimental love was over, the time for the true political interests had come. Nevertheless, hungry and exhausted Bulgarian soldiers were successful in the war. The Art of War was enriched with a one more proof that the strategists are not right when they often forget to take into consideration the impact over the soldiers of the just cause. among the rank and file of the army were many men born in the other territories - Thrace, Macedonia, Dobroudja and Moravia. Most of the “foreigners” were from Macedonia, having in mind the Bulgarian population there was most numerous. There was formed even a separate battalion, called “Macedonian”. People there were mostly born in Macedonia.
The Serbo-Bulgarian war of 1885 was successful for Bulgaria. Northern and Southern Bulgaria were united. The Strategic success led to a political one. While not a single country was ready to recognize the Unification, now the Great Powers, fearing of complications, agreed upon the matter. This is an example which simply and clearly shows how a strategic success could lead to achieving the political aims at a time when the latter are seeming impossible to be reached.
What is the importance and the place of the Unification and of the Serbo-Bulgarian war 1885 for the developments, described in this paper. First of all the relations between the two nations, being brotherly during the centuries, were broken. Bulgarians in the Morava region understood that they should either escape in Bulgaria if they want to be Bulgarians, which many of them did, or they understood that they should be turned into Serbs. Bulgaria, which was seven years ago not known to be a nation, suddenly grew up two times bigger than Serbia. This led to a discontent in Belgrade. Seven years ago the latter seemed to be the leader of the Southern Slavs. Now it was Bulgaria. She was the country from which numerous population in Thrace and Macedonia expected its liberation. But it was not only this. Seven years ago Bosnia seemed as a territory for a future enlargement of Serbia. It laid on Serbian way to the Adriatic. Now Bosnia was in Austrian hands. Serbia had no choice: she strongly concentrated its political and strategic powers to win the battle for Macedonia. Here was her access to the sea, here was her enlargement.
The Unification showed as well that Bulgaria does not have any of the Great Powers as a constant friend: there were only Powers that had their constant interests in Bulgaria. Russian nation was beloved by the Bulgarian, but it was not the case with the politicians, most of whom had in those early years understood that moral values very often contradict with the political ones.
Serbian aspirations towards Macedonia (By the way at that time the name Macedonia was used by the diplomats having in mind Bulgarian Macedonia, and it could be read whenever one reads diplomatic correspondence. In Serbia was used the name “Old Serbia” for these territories, since the usage of the name “Macedonia” would sound as a recognition of its Bulgarian character) were not dated with 1885, but this year marked its resolute conclusion that it was impossible to think any more for enlarging on the account of Bulgaria, that the territories of the latter were no more Ottoman and disputable. They were possessed and organized by a nation with a clear vision for its national interests and national security policy.
The Unification and the Serbo-Bulgarian war improved the image of Bulgaria before the Bulgarians in Macedonia and Thrace. Although thousands of refugees escaped in Bulgaria after the Uprising in 1878-79, the spirit was raised in a higher degree. The population was ready for a struggle for its liberation and unification with Bulgaria. This struggle was ahead, and sometimes it was waged in close coordination with the policy and strategy makers in Sofia, sometimes depending on the situation - with a separate policy and tactics.
II. THE MACEDONO-THRACIAN REVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATION. THE ILINDEN-PREOBRAZHENSKO UPRISING 1903
Although the territories of the Exarchate were divided into several parts, the latter continued to exist in Constantinople, nevertheless the Greek and the Ottoman authorities strongly insisted that it go to Sofia. The Exarchate appeared to be the unifying board for all the Bulgarians. One of the most important functions of the Exarchate was the organization of the education. In the new Bulgarian country there existed a state which cared about the education, but in the Empire this was not the principle. In 1900 the Exarchate had in Macedonia and Thrace 942 schools. (Its a common thing for some authors, when writing about the first and second world wars mention how the Bulgarian army is changing the existing at that moment Serbian schools with Bulgarians. The thing which is very important in this case, and the truth which apparently is saved, is that the Bulgarian army was not “changing” the schools, but only renewing the existing ones, created by the Exarchate and supported by the Bulgarian population in territories, where the Bulgarian state power was far to exist.)
All those schools existed and educated already several generations of literate Bulgarians. A Bulgarian intelligentsia was formed: most of them were teachers, because in the backward Ottoman Empire together with the unemployment among the intelligentsia was also the unwillingness of the Powers to accept Bulgarians as officers in the administrative services. A teacher, a priest and an officer of the Bulgarian army were mostly common occupations for a Bulgarian born in Macedonia and Thrace at those times. That is why there is no wonder that the revolutionary organizations that appeared, were mostly dominated by those professions: the so called “Internal” - by the teachers, and the “Supreme” - by the officers.
The bad economic and social situation of the Bulgarian population in Thrace and Macedonia was the reason that the revolutionaries here, as well as those in Bulgaria never stopped thinking about the ways of liberation and unification. But the direct reason for the creating of the first and mightiest revolutionary organization was the advance of the so called Serbian propaganda. Being the Bulgarian nation in Macedonia was the strongest, this time the Ottoman authorities did not defend it. They helped the Serbians and the Greeks. But if the Greek influence had roots and traditions, and there were Greeks in the region, it was not the case with the Serbians. They had to create Serbs artificially. And they did it. With the help of the Ottoman powers they opened schools in Macedonia although the population protested. Few studied in these schools but nevertheless the Serbian idea slowly began making her own way. And very important was for the future developments the work of the Serbian diplomat and scientist Stoyan Novakovich. According to him: “The Bulgarian idea, as it is well known to everybody, has thrown deep roots in Macedonia. That’s why I think that it is almost impossible to waver it entirely, contradicting to it only the Serbian one. I’m afraid that this latter idea wouldn’t be successful as a clear and bare contradicting for suppressing the Bulgarian idea, that is why the Serbian idea needs an ally, who would be resolutely against the Bulgarism, and it should have to be the one, who would possess the elements to attract the peoples and its feelings, dividing them from the Bulgarism. Such an ally I see in the macedonism, or at least in some support of the Macedonian dialects and the Macedonian originality.”
In order to efficiently oppose the Serbian nationalistic propaganda, the latter being pretty aggressive by the end of the 19th C., Bulgarian intellectuals in Macedonia established an organization. In 1903 they gathered in Solun (the Bulgarian name of Thessaloniki) and after a detailed analysis of the heavy socio-economic, political and ecclesiastical situation of the Bulgarian population in the two districts - Thrace and Macedonia, made the decision to organize the population into a “Bulgarian Macedono-Odrin’s Revolutionary Committees”. Later the organization was renamed to “Secret Macedono-Odrin’s Revolutionary Organization”, with the ambition to appear on the scene as an international organization, uniting the population of different nations, living in the two districts. In 1905 this same organization was renamed to “Internal Macedonia-Odrin’s Revolutionary Organization” in order to differ from the organization of the Macedono-Odrin’s emigrants in Bulgaria, called “Supreme Macedono-Odrin’s Committee”. The main idea of the latter was waging struggle for a direct unification with Bulgaria, while IMARO’S task was more thoughtful and precised into stages: first liberation and acquiring some kind of autonomy, and then - unification with Bulgaria.
Of a greater importance for the future developments is IMARO. It succeeded very soon to organize all the population into a disciplined organization. On the head very soon emerged a noble successor of Vassil Levski - the Bulgarian revolutionary leader from before the Liberation. His name was Gotse Delchev (1872-1903). He was born in Koukoush (today in Greek Macedonia - Kilkis, at that time it was a pure Bulgarian town). After studiing the classes in his native town, he went to study in the Bulgarian gymnasium in Solun. His greatest will at that time was to become an officer in the Bulgarian army, as well as it was the case with many boys from Macedonia and Thrace. Thus they hoped to help the liberation of their home countries. A month before his graduation he was expelled from the military school for his socialist ideas. Socialist ideas at that time were a fashion among the younger people, but they were forbidden in the military school. Gotse Delchev found in his native town already the founded organization, and started working with all his nature for the just cause.
But if Gotse Delchev was not successful in becoming an officer of the Bulgarian army, many other young people, born in Macedonia succeeded. In the army they formed the so called “Secret Brotherhoods”, whose mission was to render assistance to the revolutionary organizations in training the cheekiness, in stealing armament and so on. Some of these officers were high ranking men from the army - colonels and generals; there were even defense ministers and prime ministers born in Macedonia, Thrace and Dobroudja.
Macedono-Thracians emigrants in Bulgaria were a great number. They formed in 1995 the so called “Macedono-Odrin’s Organization”, on the head of which was “Macedono-Odrin’s Supreme Committee”. It’s official declaration was also a struggle for autonomy of Macedonia and Thrace. At the same time, being impatient and nervous, like all the emigrants are, impatient for the liberty to come sooner, and strongly convinced that it would come only with the help of the Bulgarian army, they directed their efforts in activities for involving the country into war with the Ottoman Empire. As a rule most of the leaders were with stronger connections with the rulers of the country, than it was the case with the “Internals”, and they often coordinated their activities with the Government. That is why they often had to suffer accusations for not being faithful to the Macedono-Thracian cause in moments when the interests of the latter differed from the interests of the Bulgarian Government, although such cases were not so many.
The idea of the “Supremes” to involve Bulgaria in liberation of Macedonia differed from the idea of the “Internals” to prepare the population for a mass revolt. That is why they insisted on an urgent preparation of an uprising. Several months after the formation of the Supreme Committee, the latter formed several detachments out of Bulgarian emigrants, revolutionaries, soldiers and officers from the army, almost all of them born in Macedonia and Thrace. Four detachments succeeded in entering Macedonia and only one - Thrace. Combat activities against the Ottoman army took place, and the result was not a great one: instead reforms, the leaders of IMORO dr.Hristo Tatarchev, Damyan Grouev and Hristo Matov and many others who were at that time in prison, were amnestied.
After the Uprising the professors of the Sofia University Miletich, Georgov and Naoumov worked a proposal for a project, which they sent to Count Lamsdorf - Foreign Minister of Russia. They appealed for Autonomous Macedonia, having in mind uniting the three parts of the district, which were dispersed among the three villayets. They wanted also that Thrace should be given autonomy too. The involvment of professors born in Macedonia in the struggle means that although mistakes were made, as a strategy the revolutionary struggle did not have an alternative. Nevertheless the later events, as well as some documents show that in Russia at that time must have been strong opposition against the pro-Bulgarian trend in the Macedono-Thracian struggle. Working in the secret archives of Ferdinand I found a note of one of his secret agents, who reveals that according to his observance the Mayor of Harmanli Kunin was supposed to be belonging to Russian secret police, and his mission was to follow the activities of the Macedono-Thracians. In his job he was supported by the pro-Russian Minister for Internal Affaires Ljudskanov.
The suppression of the Uprising sharpened the contradictions between the two revolutionary organizations and among their different wings. Noone agreed to retreat from his positions. There was a contradiction between the two ways of liberating Macedonia and Thrace: permanent revolution aiming at involving Bulgaria into a war with the Ottoman Empire, a way, which might lead and in fact led to genocide over the population by the Ottomans and thus fueling the aspirations of the neighboring Greece and Serbia towards the two districts; or - separate, autonomous way of developing the two districts until they gain energy enough to declare unification with Bulgaria ( this case was of course clear to the Greeks and the Serbs, that is why they strongly opposed autonomy). So that the end of 1902 and the beginning of 1903 was a time for live discussions, sometimes in a sharp tone between the supporters of the two theories. Anyway, having in mind the provocative character of the behavior of the “Supremes”, who declared that in the Autumn of 1903 they would again declare an uprising, the IMORO leaders took a decision at the Solun Congress held January 2-4, 1903, to declare a “Total, Strategic Uprising”, having in mind mobilizing all its units. Further this strategy was changed into participation of only strengthened chetas, while the population had to continue its peaceful occupations in order to divert atrocities from the Turkish army.
The tension arose not only from the relations between the two revolutionary organizations. A group of students from the Plovdiv (second largest city in the Principality), born in Macedonia and Thrace, being under the influence of the Anarchism, prepared terrorist activities. They intended to make their terrorist activities after the uprising, but since the Ottoman authorities started arrests, they took a decision to act. In the beginning of April 1903 they bombed Bank Ottoman in Tsarigrad, the French ship “Guadalkivir” and some other objects. When saying terrorist activities, one must not imagine the terrorism in the contemporary sense of the word. The anarchists were self-sacrificed. They did everything possible in order not to allow a single innocent victim. The only victim on the very place were only they. Of course the Turkish revenge over the Bulgarian population in Tsarigrad and Solun was awful. But the Bulgarian population suffered after every activities of the revolutionaries. If there were no revolutionaries acting at a given place, the Bulgarian population suffered again. Whatever was done or not done in the unhappy Macedonia, was bad, wrote Mercia McDermott, a British historian, an author of works over the Macedono-Thracian question.
In the middle of April in the village of Smilevo was held the regional congress of the Bitolja revolutionary district. It was of a great significance, because this was the district, which was best prepared for the insurrection, and here in fact was where it developed most actively. The congress analyzed the situation and took important decisions about the waging of the uprising. Supreme Staff was elected: Dame Grouev, captain Boris Sarafov and Anastas Lozanchev. The date for the uprising was precised: July 20. The congress of the Odrin’s district was held in the end of June. Supreme command consists also from three persons: Mihail Gerdjikov, captain Stamat Ikonomov and Lazar Madjarov. The night 5/6 August had to mark the beginning of the activities. The Supreme Staff of the Syar revolutionary district, headed by General Tsonchev himself, decided to declare the insurrection in the district at September 14, 1903. The other two districts were not active enough to be mentioned here.
In all the three districts military were incorporated in the Supreme Staffs. This shows that a process of unification of the different wings of revolutionaries was going on. After the April Congress of the Bitoya District Leadership, the Supreme Commettee Leadership with General Tsonchev on top sent an appeal towards the Bulgarian officers, saying: “Among the Bulgarian officers there are hundreds of Macedonians and Thracians, who are called by the Fatherland. Its mandatory for them that they first enter the struggle, which is waged for the Liberation of our Motherland.” The active participation of more than 50 officers from the Bulgarian army, born in Macedonia and Thrace in the Uprising is a factor of a great significance for the professional leadership. At the same time Bulgarian Government was constantly accused by the Powers for supporting the movement, and it had often to declare its neutrality, although it was not easy to be neutral. War Minister General Paprikov resigned for not being able to stop leaving the officers from the Army and their participation in the Insurrection, as well as the supply of the insurgents with armament from the army stores.
The main reason for the different dates precised by the three districts is the intention of the strategists to prolong the duration of the insurrection. Thus they expected to create the necessary conditions for Bulgaria to enter in the diplomatic and military arena. The example of the April Uprising in Bulgaria of 1876, when Europe was impressed by the Turkish attrocities and allowed Russia to attack the Ottoman Empire, inspired the strategists. And besides that the expectation that Bulgaria, Russia and Europe would help them if only they show the will to help themselves, was great and it gave them a great push ahead.According to a document from the secret archives of the King, it happened to be enough that when the King simply went in April 1903 abroad for his own matters, it gave pretext for rumours that his trip was in connection with some activity before France and Russia for improving the situation in Macedonia and Thrace.
On July 20, 1903 was declared the most powerful Bulgarian Uprising after the April one, which remained in the history with the name “Ilinden-Preobrazhenje Uprising”. An approximate, although not an entire picture about the scale of the grand struggle which enflamed in the 1903 Summer in European Turkey could be made by the datas, which were announced a year later in the MEMOIR of IMORO. According to them 26 500 insurgents from Macedonia and Thrace, organized in different formations have waged 239 combats against the Turkish army, which had mobilized in the two districts more than 350 000 men. About 6000 are estimated the dead from the Turkish army - more than the men, killed in the Turko-Greek War in 1897. From the side of the insurgents 1000 men were killed. Being respected by a strong resistance, and being incapable to overcome the insurrectionary army, the Turkish troops revenge to the defenceless population. More than 200 villages were put on fire, nearly 5000 women, children and oldmen were killed, more than 3000 girls and women forced, about 70 000 were left homeless. And if there could be any doubt about the above numbers, there is no doubt when the registers show that above 30 000 people left their homes and settled in Bulgaria.
In the Hoover Institution I found a letter from the Bulgarian Defence Minister General Paprikov to Prince Ferdinand. He analysed a talk that he had had with one of the prominent and most intelligent Macedonian revolutionary Boris Saraphov, one of the leaders of the Uprising. Saraphov was a bright Bulgarian officer of the army. Explaining the heavy situation of the Macedonian population Saraphov tried to explain that the problem is not only the physical and material suffering. The problem was also connected with the preserving the Bulgarian character of the district. Thousands of people left for Bulgaria and America, the Serbians were moving forward to form an organization, which had to help the Macedonian population. The purpose of Saraphov was of course to activate the Bulgarian politicians to eventually declare war on Turkey; this was what Saraphov did other times too. What is new in this document is that for the first time in the course of the Uprising the Serbians already appear to have understood that their anti-Bulgarian policy in Macedonia would not give fruits - so better try to help them in some way. This is in some way a development of Stoyan Novakovich’s idea for creting a Macedonian nation. And the development of this idea would be observed later in the WW2.
One of the problems often mentioned and studied is to what extent Bulgaria has helped the revolutionaries with armament. Its a big question which is impossible to be discussed here. Here is worth only mentioning that in a secret note an agent of the Tsar Ferdinand allowed himself to write to the Tsar shortly: ‘It is necessary to be bought rifles either from Roumania or from England and to send them in Macedonia.”
To what extent the assistance from Bulgaria was expected, shows a letter to Ferdinand, where was said that when in April the Tsar travelled abroad for his own affairs, this was a reason for rumours that he was gone for some talks with French and Russian representatives about the reforms - for enlarging them.
The Ilinden-Preobrazjenje Uprising is often compared with the April Uprising 1876. In a couple of its peculiarities - ideas, traditions, strategies, tactics, leadership, plans, division in revolutionary districts and more, it could be really called a second edition of the April one. It is named by the historians “a second highest top in the Bulgarian revolutionary struggle against the Ottoman Oppression”. The Ilinden-Preobrazhensko Uprising was suppressed with mass attrocities like the April one. But what was different, was the uncomfortable political situation. It did not lead to a liberation, the foreign oppression remained.
Here is worth mentioning the attitude of neighbouring Serbia during the Uprising. A strong supporter of the idea of division of Macedonia, Serbia simply expected a war between Bulgaria and Turkey to enter in the Skopje district. Belgrade’s policy directed to exploiting the difficulties of Bulgaria in 1885 and 1903 was continued later in 1913. The position of Serbia was very important for Bulgaria, which remembered 1885. A secret telegram from the Deputy Chief of the General Staff general Radko Dimitrieev sais: “The Rumanians expect that we engage in a struggle with Turkey, and they will attack us.”
Nevertheless the pressure of the Macedonian intelligence was great. A meeting of Professors and teachers of Macedonian and Thracian origin gathered in the University and decided to cover with meetings all the country with protests for the passive policy of the Government, pushing it towards war with the Ottoman Empire. The massive prtests they planned should even have the implication that the Government should leave the power to a more resolute one. Together with this a delegation was sent to the Prime-Minister to talk with him. At the same time to what extent the Uprising had moved Europe and the Ottoman Empire, could be found out in the rumour that was spread among the foreign representatives and Turkish rulers that in Spring 1904 a new Uprising was expected, this time Bulgaria would declare war on Turkey.
As a modest result of the Uprising the Great Powers granted to Austria-Hungary and Russia the initiative for reforms in the two districts. These two countries were recognized to be “mostly interested powers” in the matters of the Ottoman Empire. But the Sublime Port tried to again escape foreign intervention. In fact her activities were directed towards diminishing the unfavorable results and impressions from the Uprising. Russian Emperor Nikolay II, together with his foreign minister Count Lamsdorf met with the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz-Joseph and his foreign minister Count Goluhovski in Murzshteg, September 1903. One of their mostly significant decision was to reform the Turkish police and Gendarmerie
The reform action had to be organized by foreign officers, on the head with a General. Italian, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and German officers five years tried to do their best, but in vain. The things changed only when the Turkish people and intelligentsia took the matters in their hands and started their heavy road towards changing the Ottoman Empire into a modern Turkish state. This road was not always hand by hand with the Bulgarian interests, but anyway it changed the basis of the further relations between the two nations. In 1908 the Young Turkish Revolution took place, the whole revolutionary army came from the mountains and the forests. The sentimental and good-natured Bulgarian revolutionaries, tired from the endless struggle embraced and kissed their enemies from the yesterday. Total excitement reigned all over the Empire. When the Sultan grasped the Power again in a counter coup d’etat, a revolutionary detachment participated in the executive operation in Tsarigrad.
But the history has always been parsimonious towards the oppressed Bulgarians from Macedonia and Thrace. Two years of liberty were too much. The Young Turks were good patriots for their country, and they really did for it more than all the Great Powers in their attemps to preserve the Ottoman Empire. But their interests contradicted with the interests of the Bulgarian population. The struggle escalated, and the Balkan nations were involved in 1912-1913 into heavy wars, which continued in 1914-1918 during the First World War.
III. THE POPULATION OF MACEDONIA AND THRACE IN THE BULGARIAN ARMY DURING THE WARS FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION AND UNIFICATION 1912-1918
In 1912, the order of general mobilization for the conduct of a liberation war against Turkey stirred up universal enthusiasm in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian army was to bring off a general engagement with the age-long conqueror. An honest patriot couldn’t stay aside from the grand struggle. A larger part from the emigrants from Macedonia and Thrace in Bulgaria, about 30 000 in all, had been conscripted into the Bulgarian army and were its mobilization designees. Quite a few Macedonians and Thracians however had arrived in Bulgaria recently and had not seen service in the Bulgarian army. They were also eager to sign up. The Macedonian-Thracian societies in the larger cities and abroad avalanched the General Staff of the Bulgarian army with requests and telegrams. “The relatively numerous Macedonian emigrants in America and Europe, traveling via Serbia and Greece, were hurrying to the Bulgarian capital where their compatriots were preparing for the epic struggle”, the Central Committee of the Bulgarian volunteers from Macedonia and Thrace wrote in a Memorandum to the Allies and the US after the WW 1.
Two days after the mobilization was decreed, on September 19, 1912, the Executive Board of the Macedono-Thracian charitable brotherhoods called up all emigrants who had not served in the army. More than 5000 men were mustered. Units started to be formed and military training began. People continued to pour in during the next few days: veterans, who had fought as volunteers in the 1877-78 Russo-Turkish War, voevodes, cheta members, teachers, students, and even priests. A large number of foreigners were also willing to join the Bulgarian army and to fight for the liberation of the enslaved Bulgarians: British, French, Czechs, Poles, Croats, Slovaks and Italians. There were reports of thousands volunteering in Russia. The Armenian refugees in Bulgaria rendered up a 231-men volunteer company.
Two prominent activists of the Macedono-Odrin’s revolutionary movement, Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Protogerov and Major Peter Drvingov, were ordered by the Chief of Staff of the Army Major-General Ivan Fichev to start organizing small guerilla units, to organize and arm chetas of the IMORO, and to send them for operations in Turkey ahead of the invading troops. The organizers established a “Guerrilla Units Headquarters”, which, along with Drvingov and Protogerov included other officers born in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace. Regulations for the volunteer chetas which would operate in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace were drafted. Under these regulations, the chetas were to take an oath of allegiance to the Bulgarian motherland and the Bulgarian Sovereign. The mission of a cheta included demolition of bridges, railways, telegraph lines, stored food and weapons and roads, attacks on supply trains, and denial of enemy communications and mobility. The chetas were expected to scout enemy operations, movements and strength, and report to the nearest headquarters.
About September 23 the chetas were organized and sent into Turkish territory. Their importance was out of the question. The successes of the Bulgarian army that admired the world at that time are due to a great extent to the job, done by these well-trained men. Their activities are well-known from a historiographical point of view. Here is worth only mentioning the following document, found in the archives of Hoover Institution. Commander of the Army which was advancing in Macedonia sent a secret telegram to the Tsar, where he said that the chieftain Yane Sandanski had waited at a certain place (the exact place is not mentioned, perhaps it must be at the territory of the enemy), where he had to make a secret meeting with the Tsar. The meeting did not happen due to technical reasons. The importance of this document and of this fact comes from the idea that Sandanski has won the ill-fame as “anti-Bulgarian struggler”. He was declared by the the Titoists to be the Macedonian symbol for the anti-Bulgarian struggle. This document comes to show that Sandanski, the strongest “anti-Bulgarian” chieftain was in fact Bulgarian, who at different times had opposed the line of directly unification with Bulgaria. Now - in December 1912 he did not oppose this idea, since he was convinced Bulgaria is on the right way.
After the chetas were sent to the enemy’s disposal, the attention shifted to the formation of Macedono-Odrin’s battalions. Until the end of September six battalions were formed in Sofia. They were called on the names of famous towns in Macedonia and Thrace, which were inhabitted with strong Bulgarian population: Debr, Skopje, Solun, Bitolja, Odrin and Ohrid. In combination, they were called Macedono-Odrin’s Volunteer Corps of the Russo-Turkish War of Liberation “which had covered itself with unfading glory and exerted an irresistable and powerful hold on the hearts and minds of the younger generations”, Drvingov wrote. The Corps was reinforced with an engineer and workshop unit, a supply company, a subsistence transport and with an ambulance detachment. Volunteers were selected by a rigorous procedure because the available weapons were far fewer than those willing to be enlisted. The enlistment criteria were the same as established by the Armed Forces with the Realm Act.
Another six battalions were added to the Volunteer Corps in the following months: 7th Koumanovo, 8th Kostour, 9th Veles, 10th Prilep, 11th Syar and 12th Lozengrad. The battalions were grouped by four into three brigades, each with a headquarters. Brigade commanders wielded regimental commander authority. Order No.31 to the Regular Army dated October 11, 1912, appointed Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Protogerov Commander of 1st Brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Anton Pchelarov Commander of 2nd Brigade and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Protogerov Commander of 3rd Brigade. The Corps was authorized with a headquarters, three Macedono-Odrin’s Brigades of four battalions each, a musisian chorus, an infirmary, a supply company, a gun park, a subsistence transport and an engineer and workshop unit. Major-General Nikola Genev, a Russo-Turkish War volunteer veteran, was appointed Commander of the Corps, and Major Petr Drvingov became Executive Officer. The total strength of the Corps was 16 470 men.
Initially, the battalions and brigades were decentralized. First brigade guard railways and pursued Turkish units. Second brigade advanced in the direction of Mustafapasha (Svilengrad) - Dimotika. Its mission was to disperce the clustered bashi-bozouks and pockets of defeated regular troops, and to capture Dedeagach. Dedeagach was vital because Odrin, through which the East Thracian railway ran, was in Turkish hands and blocked the supply rout of the Bulgarian troops which at that time were deployed before Tsarigrad. Overcoming the resistance of the Gjumurdjina Group of Turkish forces, this brigade was assigned to the Kourdjali Detachment, which incorporated the 3rd Macedono-Odrin’s brigade. After a series of hard, but glorious battles, 2nd and 3rd brigades forced Aver Pasha’s Corps to surrender in the area of Merhamli on November 15 1912. The 10 000-strong Corps paraded before the victorious volunteers. Aver Pasha presented himself to General Genev and offered him his sward. The General declined to take it, with the words that the Pasha had fulfilled courageously his duty as a military.
The volunteer Corps was ordered to guard a stretch of the Sea of Marmara coast line at Sharkjoy and to defend it against a possible enemy landing. Savage battles were fought there with the erstwhile conqueror on January 26 and 28, 1913, in which the volunteers again came off with flying colors.
The Macedono-Odrin’s volunteers performed feats of valor, endurance and discipline. They realized that they were contributing to the liberation of their native lands. The command of the Bulgarian army highly commended the services of the volunteers from Macedonia and Thrace during the First Balkan War. Three thousands and one hundred and ninety eight servicemen received orders and medals. Their participation was praised by the Commander-in-Chief of the Bulgarian Army Lieutenant-General Mihail Savov: “With their glorious deeds in the area of Kirdjali, Mastanli, Balkantoressi, at Saranli, Dedeagach, Merhamli, Malgrad and Sharkoy they have justified the sacrifices which Bulgaria is making for the freedom of our brothers in Macedonia and Thrace..”
Serbia and Greece took advantage of the Bulgarian Army’s victories over Turkey in Eastern (Odrin’s Thrace and occupied Vardar and Aegian Macedonia. Their approach towards the Macedonian question has never been accompanied with respect towards the population. Their approach has always been a territorial - The territory has belonged in the past to Serbians, or to Greeks. The very first Serbian units that entered Skopje in 1912 were followed by the Serbian king, who was acclamated as wecomed in the “Dushan’s Capital”. Dushan is a successful Serbian king, the only one, who has occupied five centuries ago the district of Skopje for a certain time. This territorial approach is expressed in nowadays as well. The Greeks remind us about the deeds of Alexander the Great and the Serbians have forgot that Kossovo is populated with Albanians, they think about it with historico-geographical terms.
The Serbian and Greek occupation soon stirred up widespread discontent among the Bulgarian population. Under the leadership of the revolutionary activists, the population launched an armed struggle which grew into two uprisings against the tyrannical Serbian regime in 1913: the Tikvesh and the Ohrid-Debur uprisings. At the same time in the territories held by the Bulgarian Army the population enjoyed freedom and actively cooperated with the Bulgarian authorities. Not a single Bulgarian changed his or her name, none joined the Greek or the Serbian Army. The locals substantially assisted the Bulgarian Army during the Second Balkan War.
On June 10, 1913, the Commander of the 4th Army, who had the Macedono-Odrin’s volunteer Corps under his orders, sent a telegram to the division commanders asking them to report the state of morale in their units. The commander of the volunteer Corps, Major General Genev, answered without hesitation: “The volunteer Corps can be counted on in any offensive action. It will fight with the utmost ferocity.”
Scouts were the first to join the fray. Back in May Lieutenant Colonel Protogerov was assigned to observe and reconnoiter the combat order of Greek and Serbian troops, using the IMORO’s chetas. Protogerov detailed a total of some 200 former cheta members and voevodes from the Macedono-Odrin’s Volunteer Corps for reconnaissance missions behind enemy lines. As Major Drvingov wrote: “Seldom has an army been better informed of enemy strength and enemy deployment than the Bulgarian Army: all Macedonia was at its service.”
Early in the morning of June 17 eleven volunteer battalions and ten batteries mounted a decision attack on the Paradli - Redki Bouki heights, and four battalions and two batteries pinned the Serbs holding Sultan-tepe and Kamenitsa Cheshma. All these heights, of an altitude approximating 2000 m, were ringed by the Serbs with several rows of heavily manned trenches. The volunteers fell fiercely over the new enemy. After heavy and sustained fighting, they overran the Serb’s entire fortified position on the Paradli from the Redki Bouki Heights to the road to Kratovo west of the village of Emiritsa. Some 150 enemy soldiers were taken prisoner. The main column carried on the offence in the fortified Serbian area and reached the Skalisti Vrh above Kriva Palanka, threatening Sultantepe from the west. The right column approached the barbed wire fences in front of the enemy lines in that site. The attack was advanced on June 18, 1913. A cease-fire was ordered at the height of fighting. The volunteer Corps was entrusted with the rear guard of the retreating Bulgarian troops. By their heroic fighting the Bulgarians from Macedonia and Eastern Thrace demonstrated that they were a reliable force which could be assigned serious missions.
The 1913 Bukurest Peace Treaty left the districts of Macedonia and Thrace under foreign control: Turkish, Serbian, and Greek. It was logical to expect an active involvement of Bulgarians from Macedonia and Thrace in a future war for liberation. The outbreak of WW1, the upheaval among Bulgarians in the newly liberated parts of Macedonia, the steady influx of refugees from Serbia and Greece and of deserters from those countries’ armies gave Macedono-Odrin’s revolutionary theoretists food for thought. To avoid the mistake of the improvised formation of the Macedono-Odrin’s Volunteer Corps in the course of the First Balkan War, the revolutionary theoretists assumed that no matter what group of powers Bulgaria would join, plans should be promptly worked out for mobilization of Macedonians and Thracians into a new volunteer formation. In January 1915 Todor Alexandrov and Alexander Protogerov, in their capacity as representatives of IMORO, sought assistance from the Minister of War for the formation of a large military unit, consisting of Bulgarians, born in Macedonia and Thrace. The documents mention “military unit” rather than “Macedono-Odrin’s Volunteer Corps”. This shows that the idea of having a fundamentally new army unit rather than an enlarged-strength Volunteer Corps was already ripe in early 1915.
One important aspect of the arrangements for the new division was its manning. Soldiers were to be recruited from among the approximately 15 000 Bulgarians from Macedonia and Thrace, who had found refuge in Bulgaria from the attrocities of the Serbian, Greek and Turkish authorities in their native lands. The ex-servicemen of the Macedono-Odrin’s Volunteer Corps were another manpower pool. It was also planned to induct into this division the Bulgarians from Macedonia who had deserted from the Greek and the Serbian Army, as well as those released from Austro-Hungarian captivity. (When hostilities against Austria-Hungary broke out, a lot of Bulgarians from Macedonia, mobilized into the Serbian Army deserted and yielded themselves prisoner to the Austro-Hungarian Army. Thanks to the activities of the Macedono-Odrin’s revolutionaries, their release and transfer to Bulgaria began back in 1914). As a result, in early 1915 more than 25 000 men were available as potential members of the planned unit.
The former chief of staff of the Macedono-Odrin’s Volunteer Corps Major Peter Drvingov compiled a list of officers to assume command of the Macedono-Odrin’s division, and specified their appointments. The list included all officer positions except the division commander. Major Peter Drvingov was named Chief of Staff.. Colonels Grigor Kjurkchiev, Dimiter Mourdjev and Alexander Protogerov were nominated for the brigade commanderships. The list contained 184 officers, most of them born in Macedonia. Some of them were active participants in the Macedono-Odrin’s military brotherhoods and in the Macedono-Odrin’s revolutionary struggle, especially in the 1902 Gorna Djoumaja Uprising and in the 1903 Ilinden-Preobrajenje Uprising: Lieutenant Colonel Boris Drangov, Lieutenant Colonel Dimiter Zhostov, Lieutenant Colonel Nikola Danailov, Major Dimiter Atanassov, Major Boris Strezov, Major Ljubomir Stoenchev, Major Vladislav Kovachev, First Lieutenant Nikola Lefterov, First Lieutenant Konstantin Kondov, First Lieutenant Dimo Ayanov, Major Ivan Pozharliev, Second Lieutenant Nikola Danailov, Second Lieutenant Ivan Popov, Dr. Hristo Tatarchev, and Dr.Dimiter Vladov. The inclusion of officers with a revolutionary background was only logical. There was good reason to believe that they belonged in that very division. The strategists counted on their popularity with the enslaved population and with the soldiers of the division.
It became gradually clear that Bulgaria was taking the side of the Central Powers, hoping to regain its irredenta with their help. In the historical works there is often mentioned that Bulgaria has entered the war on the side of Germany, against the Western democracies, and against its Liberator - Russia. What is most important, Bulgaria is blamed for aggresive intentions towards Macedonia. There were found documents in the Hoover Institutions, which show that prominent Macedonian revolutionaries actively insisted on making Union with Austria-Hungary and Turkey. The reason was that the Macedonian Turkish population suffered from the Serbians and Greeks together with the Bulgarians and a common struggle against the occupators was already being waged. At the same time the Macedono-Thracian revolutionary Organization had already established pretty good relations with the Austr-Hungarians - the enemies of their enemy the Serbians. They even made several teroristic actions on the Serbian railways coordinating their efforts with the needs of the Austro-Hungarian army. In a document, found from the secret archives of Ferdinand in Hoover Institution, a prominent Macedonian revolutionary Apostol Dogramadjiev wrote a letter to Ferdinand, advising him that Bulgaria must go together with Turkey against the Balkan states. So that the Bulgarian politics of the time was strongly influenced by the Macedono-Thracian Organization.
On August 20, 1915 Prime Minister Vassil Radoslavov notified the Austro-Hungarian Minister Pleinipotentiary to Sofia Count Adam Tarnovski, that the manuscript of the Bulgarian version of a treaty of alliance approved by the Tsar was now drafted. On the same date the Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Clement Boyadjiev circulated a cryptogram to the chiefs of the divisional districts, ordering that all males aged between 25 and 45 born in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace, who had not been conscripted and had not passed through any training, be called on September 4,1915 for a 45-day training muster. Along with that, it was ordered to call for a 21-day training muster the former volunteers of the Macedono-Odrin’s Corps, on record at the regimental draft registration offices, and “all Macedonians and Thracians from the newly liberated territories, who served in the former Drama and Syar brigades.” Under this order, the draft applied to these and all those who for some reason were missing from the records of the registration offices or municipal councils. A later Ministry of War order, No.419 dated August 22, 1915 endorsed this instruction, changing the age bracket to 20-40. The idea was to extend the manpower pool to the refugees from Vardar and Aegean Macedonia. With the start of training of Bulgarians from Macedonia and Eastern Thrace, the Commander of the Division Colonel Krustyo Zlatarev, and the Chief of Staff Lieutenant Colonel Peter Drvingov drew up a mobilization directive. The unit was tentatively designated as Cadre Division. A Royal Decree No.7 dated September 9, 1915 ordered general mobilization in Bulgaria. The mobilization day began at 01.00 a.m., September 11, 1915. The army mobilization order found the Cadre Division at a stage of organization and formation, with its elements almost fully manned to wartime strength. About the end of the first M day the following report was sent to the Army Chief of Staff: “General, I humbly report that to date 33 745 enlisted men have reported for duty at the division in my charge.” The letterhead reads “11th Macedonian Division Headquarters”. This is the first document identifying the cadre division by its new name.
The news about the formation of a division out of Bulgarian refugees from Macedonia spread fast to the foreign dominated lands. more and more young able-bodied men arrived from Macedonia, wishing to join the division. The War Ministry was avalanched with dozens of requests from POWs in Austria-Hungary. Learning about the formation of the division, the grandson of Vojvode Ilyo Maleshevski arrived from Berovo and signed up. Speaking seven languages, he was appointed telegrapher at the headquarters of the 3rd Macedonian Infantry Brigade. Most members of the division were Bulgarians from the irredenta in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace. Later on, when refugees from Dobroudja appeared, they were included also in it. The Western Thrace, being a part of the Bulgarian territory, all the men, born there entered the newly formed 10th Division (territorial). All the divisions were organized on a territorial principle. Only the 11th was on ex-territorial. Thus the division continued the natural tradition of forming military units of Bulgarians, born in foreign controlled lands, who wished to fight for the Bulgarian national idea. Earlier examples included the Bulgarian Volunteer Corps during the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War of Liberation, the Macedonian Battalion in the Serbo-Bulgarian War 1885 and the Macedono-Odrin’s Volunteer Corps in the 1912-1913 Balkan Wars. The division of Bulgarians from Macedonia was one of the first Bulgarian formations to engage the Allied invaders in the area of Krivolak, sending a clear signal to the whole world that the enemy forces were unwanted in the former’s native lands.
x x x
Thanks to the combat experience amassed in earlier wars, it was possible to adopt a new approach to the organization of the IMORO chetas. Judging by this experience, the chetas could be invaluable to the army, especially in reconnaissance - provided their operations were well organized and several other conditions were met: operation of the Bulgarian troops in the Macedonian theater of operations; close coordination between troops and chetas, effected by a single coordinating center which assigns the missions, monitors and enforces their accomplishment and processes the information feed; treatment of cheta members and voivodes as servicemen with all rights and duties appertaining to this status.
To meet all these requirements, when mobilization was decreed in September 1915 IMORO with all its bodies and chetas transferred under the direct orders of the army and placed itself entirely at its service. The permanent IMORO chetas were formed into a “Guerrilla Detachment”, just as Headquarters of Guerrilla Detachments had been formed at the beginning of the First Balkan War. As one of the IMORO leaders Hristo Matov put it, the organization assumed a “military shape” during the war. IMORO Central Committee members Todor Alexandrov and Peter Chaoulev were at the disposal of the detachment headquarters. The enlistment of cheta members and voivodes had legal implications: the revolutionary activists would be court-martialled for any arbitrariness, crime, marauding, feuding or, what was a common thing - factionalism. Besides, cheta members, captured by the enemy during the Balkan Wars were treated as bandits and summarily shot. In their capacity as Bulgarian army regulars, they were supposed to qualify for POW treatment. Some chetas engaged the Serbs without formally identifying themselves as Bulgarian servicemen. There were quite a few such chetas, and the war strength of the Guerrilla Detachment varied throughout the war depending on operational needs. Some chetas were not enlisted at the outbreak of the war because chetas fighting the Serbian Police and Gendarmerie kept emerging spontaneously in Macedonia, and not all could be promptly registered in the turmoil.
The Guerrilla Detachment was formed by Ministry of War Order No.421, dated August 22, 1915. It was authorized with a detachment headquarters, intelligence gathering posts, a separate guerrilla company and guerrilla platoons. The headquarters of the detachment consisted of an executive officer, a reconnaissance section and an administration section. The administration section, a real innovation, consisted of 20 clerks and was set up to man the civil service of the territories held by the Bulgarian army in Macedonia until the Quartermaster General’s Corps would organize an administration and take over. The personnel of this section was recruited from among the most intelligent Macedonian-born soldiers in the division. Thanks to a population devoted to the Bulgarian liberation cause and to an to active revolutionary organization (IMORO), it was possible to organize a smoothly operating intelligence service on the Salonika Front. During its long history of revolutionary struggle, the organization had trained people capable of coping with this highly responsible task. In this, it was also helped by underground railroads, organized in the course of revolutionary struggle and by an established network of supporters and helpers. Such a successful and efficient intelligence and counterintelligence service would have been impossible to organize without these advantages.
After the formation of the 11th Infantry Macedonian Division and of the Guerrilla Detachment, quite a few combat-fit men remained in Macedonia. That is why, when the Bulgarian administrative authorities were established in this area, all Bulgarians aged between 20 and 40 were mobilized. Men under 20 and over 40 had to serve as ‘citizens-in-arms”.
The idea of setting up citizens-in-arms, i.e. of arming the entire combat-fit Bulgarian population, was nothing new. It had been put into practice during IMORO’s struggle against Turkish domination and developed in the course of the sustained and sanguinary struggle against Turks,Serbs and Greeks. By the time the Bulgarian forces liberated Macedonia, the population of most Bulgarian villages had long been organized into local militia chetas. This militia system only had to be switched from underground under the foreign regimes to above ground. Of course the militia also needed a tightening of discipline and increase in strength and reliability to be an efficient arm of the Bulgarian administrative authorities in mopping up the Serbian remnants and isolated gangs of Serbian deserters and cheekiness and Albanian brigands. The establishment of citizens-in-arms, consisting of the popular masses previously organized by IMORO, enhanced the army and the police capacity of enforcing law and order in Macedonia. The arming of the population is convincing proof of the high measure of confidence which the Bulgarians in the area enjoyed with the military authorities. This confidence was motivated by the same objectives and tasks pursued by the population and its vanguard, IMORO. Judging the documents on their formation and from their performance, the citizens-in-arms in Macedonia during WW1 carried on IMORO’s pre-war national revolutionary traditions.
Back when the Cadre Division was being organized in Knyazhevo, a “Replacement Battalion of the Cadre Division” was formed with Lieutenant Colonel Clement Krustev as commander. This battalion was the initial destination of Macedonian Bulgarians harassed in captivity or in service in the Serbian Army. Upon their arrival they were examined and deloused at the border checkpoints and then inducted. However, they were too many, and the battalion was soon overmanned and had to be augmented into a regiment. Order No.6 to the 11th Infantry Macedonian Division, dated September 11, 1915 recognized the replacement battalion, based in Knyazhevo into a replacement Macedonian Regiment. Because of the peculiarities of its formation, employment and missions, the regiment was under the concurrent authority of the High Command, the 11th Infantry Macedonian Division and the First Sofia Divisional District. The Regiment was billeted at the reserve sub-lieutenants’ school in Knyazhevo, and another part in Gorna Banya. A large part of the soldiers were in private accommodation. Because of the influx of men from Macedonia and for lack of premises, Company H was accommodated in dug-outs made by the soldiers themselves to the west of Knyazhevo. The commander of the Battalion Lieutenant Colonel Clement Krustev from Ohrid, was appointed commander of the Regiment.
In March 1916 the Regiment was transferred to Skopje, where it bivouacked about 1 km to the northwest of the town. The Bulgarian military and political leadership, as well as the IMORO activists, realized that the right way to employ the Regiment, which consisted mainly of Bulgarians from Macedonia, was its assignment to garrison and guard duty in the new lands. This is precisely why the Regiment was incorporated into the 2nd Occupation Brigade in 1917. On May 31, 1917 the 2nd Occupation Brigade was ordered by the Chief of the Macedonian Military Inspection District to relieve the units of the Mountain Division which until then had served as occupation troops in Macedonia. The Headquarters of the Replacement Macedonian Regiment remained together with the 1st Battalion in Skopje for garrison duty. The 2nd Battalion was assigned to guard the demarcation line with Austria-Hungary north of the Prishtina-Mitrovitsa railway to the old Serbian-Turkish border and garrisoned Prishtina, Giljani and Poduevo; the 3rd Battalion took over guard duty of the demarcation line to the south of the Shar-Planina mountain range, garrisoning Prisren, Orahovats and Ferizovo. The deployment by company was as follows: 2nd Battalion: Headquarters and Company E garrisoned Prishtina, Company F was in Poduevo, Company G in Guilyani, and Company H guarded the demarcation line with Austria-Hungary; 3rd Battalion: Headquarters and Company I garrisoned Prizren, Company K was in Ferisovo, and Companies J and L guarded the demarcation line, relieving Company A which rejoined its Battalion back in Skopje. On June 20,1917 Company K was moved by rail to Tetovo and on by road to Strouga and Pogradets. It was stationed in those two towns for garrison duty and maintenance of law and order in the post. Company K was replaced in Ferisovo by a platoon of Company I. The 3rd Battalion companies were constantly redeployed. March 1918 saw the following stationing: Company I in Orahovats, guarding the demarcation line; Company J garrisoning Suha Reka, Prizren and Ferizovo; Company K in Prizren, guarding the demarcation line; and Company L garrisoning Prizren.
The 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Replacement Macedonian Regiment were to maintain law and order in the areas of Prizren and Prishtina, assume sentry and escort duty and guard the demarcation line. The Albanian population was friendly to the Bulgarian army and especially to the units composed of Macedonian Bulgarians. It saw them as liberators rather than occupationists and was ready to fight by their side.
The positive attitude of the Albanian population to the Bulgarian troops was rooted in the joint struggle of IMORO with the Albanian and Turkish population in Macedonia against the Serbian authorities. IMORO’s ideology itself had always been international in character, although it had seldom succeeded in rallying other ethnic groups. The formation of the Mountain Division out of Bulgarians, Albanians and Turks was indicative in this respect and exemplified the implementation of IMORO’s international policy.
The integration of the Albanians and Turks in Macedonia was a Bulgarian idea, espoused by the IMORO leaders. For its part, the German Command was also interested in the possibilities of organizing the Albanian population. Around mid-1916 the German military plenipotentiary in Sofia, von Massow held negotiations with Dr. Tochkov, an IMORO activist, about organizing the Albanian population.. Von Massow suggested that the IMORO activists take up this task. On the front Dr. Tochkov met with Colonel Protogerov, consulting with him on the objectives, the resources and the manner of organizing the Albanian population. Dr. Tochkov was also instructed on the matter by the High Command. The Bulgarian High Command and IMORO agreed to organize the Albanian population with German resources and funds. To lend a military character to that organization, it was suggested to form a new division composed of Macedonian Bulgarians and to recruit Albanians into it. Both the German and the Bulgarian high commands realized that the new organization would pursue the following objectives: winning over the Albanian population in Macedonia and Kosovo to the Bulgarian cause; checking the growing influence of the Allies in Albania; fighting against Allied organized chetas; delivering rear and flank attacks on Allied units.
The Headquarters of the Regular army planned to recruit what was now called the Mountain Division in the following manner: two battalions from the Replacement Macedonian Regiment, one battalion from the 3rd Volunteer Regiment, one infantry company (to serve as machine-gun company) from other regiments, and one four-company Turkish battalion.
The formation of the units was planned as follows. The first to be set up were six battalions grouped into three regiments. Each battalion was augmented by 200 Turkish reservists and 200 Albanian volunteers. A battalion thus added up to 913-914 men, and the division totaled 3330 Bulgarians, 1200 Turks and 1200 Albanians. A German mountain artillery regiment from the 6th rapid-fire Mountain Battery was to be attached to the division.
By an order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Regular Army, Lieutenant General Nikola Zhekov, dated December 28, 1916 the Deputy Chief of the Macedonian Military Inspection District, “Colonel of the Reserve Protogerov Alexander Nikolov”, was appointed Commander of the Mountain Division. The Chief of the Regimental Draft Registration office in Shtip Lieutenant Colonel of the Reserve Ivan Stephanov Stephanov was appointed Commander of the 1st Infantry Mountain Regiment; the Commander of the 14th Replacement Battalion Lieutenant Colonel of the Reserve Raycho Nikolov Tananov was appointed Commander of the 2nd Infantry Mountain Regiment; and Lieutenant Colonel Mircho Petrov was appointed Commander of the 3rd Infantry Mountain Regiment. Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Simov was appointed Executive officer of the Division.
The High Command resolved that the Mountain Division be treated as a “local occupation force in Macedonia on a special military-administrative assignment”, placing the Division under the direct orders of the Headquarters of the Regular Army. The immediate subbordination of the Division to the strategic leadership suggests that just as the 11th Infantry Macedonian Division, being composed of Bulgarians from Macedonia, it was intended for some future political role. In the performance of its military-administrative mission, the Division also reported to the Chief of the Macedonian Military Inspection District “for the maintenance of law and order in the area”. In the course of the war, however, the Division also performed combat missions on the Salonica Front.
The successful formation of the Mountain Division increased the numerical strength of the Bulgarian Army. At a time, when the Salonica Front was starved of manpower, its formation added one more division to the combat capability of the Bulgarian Army. The importance of this division grew, bearing in mind that it performed not only combat but also law-enforcement missions. This is further evidence that most of the occupation forces in Macedonia during WW1 were composed of soldiers born in Macedonia. This fact was positive morale motivator too. The Mountain Division demonstrated the commitment and devotion of the Bulgarians in Macedonia to the liberation mission of the Bulgarian Army. It also demonstrated that the Turkish and Albanian population in Macedonia accepted a solution of the Macedonian question in favor of Bulgaria.
The successful formation of the Mountain Division proved that IMORO’s international policy was right. On the other hand, the creation of this division through integration of the Muslim population would hardly have been possible if the Internal Organization had not implemented precisely this policy in the pre-war period. Thus the Mountain Division may be described as an embodiment and materialization of IMORO’s international ideas.
It is difficult to say exactly how many Bulgarians from Macedonia fought in WW1. Quite a few of them were not members of the army proper, but policemen, civil servants, teachers, priests, taxmen, etc. Judging from available documents, more than 120 000 Bulgarians from Macedonia were involved with the Bulgarian army during WW1.
Qualification of the service of Bulgarians from Macedonia in the Bulgarian army during WW1 is far from sufficient to characterize their performance. A substantial number of Bulgarians were mobilized in the Serbian and Greek armies as well: some 50 000 in the former and 20 000 in the latter. The Bulgarian recruits, however, fiercely resisted the forced mobilization and deserted when mobilized. The important thing is that the tens of thousand of Macedonian Bulgarians not only fled the alien armies, but also wholeheartedly sought their place in the Bulgarian army. This was the most important distinctive feature of the involvement of Bulgarians from Macedonia in the Bulgarian army in WW1. They were defecting from the Serbian and the Greek army not simply to shirk military service, but to join the Bulgarian army. They felt this army as their own, fighting for their own liberation from foreign yoke, and they saw their service in this army as quite natural, legitimate, and desired.
The Bulgarians from Macedonia were happy with the Liberation. In August 1918 they prepared to celebrate the 15-th Anniversary of the Ilinden-Preobrazhenje Uprising. The prominent leaders of IMORO Todor Alexandrov and Alexandr Protogerov invited kindly as a guest at the celebration the Tsar. In the invitation that was found in the Hoover Institution nevertheless is written something that was not known up to now: they asked that some 20-30 revolutionaries, who were in Bulgarian prisons for political reasons be amnestied in order to fill the rank and files of the Macedonian Division.
Among the many interesting documents that were found in the Archives of Hoover Institution was a very interesting personal letter from the Bulgarian Ambassador in Bern Andrey Toshev, to the Bulgarian King, which shows to what extent the Bulgarians from Macedonia were present in the Bulgarian society. Andrey Toshev, who was a prominent diplomat, proposed to the King, in the course of developing the idea for proving the just struggle of the Bulgarian nation, to advise the politicians to make possible conditions that in the Government more Macedonians should enter. “Having in mind, he said, that the Chief of the General Staff is a Macedonian, one of the Army Commandants is a Macedonian, it would be suitable that in the Cabinet more prominent Macedonians should enter, no matter what Party are they members in... Let the world, and espacially Russia, see that in our country the Macedonian element is a mighty factor.” The proposal of Toshev was interesting, although it remains only a theoretical, since politicians in Bulgaria always find their Party interests more important than the national ones. But nevertheless this letter is important because it shows how much really the Macedonians influenced the Bulgarian politics and it was not the case only at that time. Again in document, found in the Hoover Institution was said the in Bulgaria in 1918 a Masonic lodge was established already, and its first Grand Maitre was selected Majot General Alexander Protogerov , a prominent Macedonian leader.
The Bulgarians in Macedonia did not reconcile themselves to the settlement of the Treaty of Bucurest, a repeat of the Treaty of Berlin. They fought fiercely against their conquerors: Turks, Serbians and Greeks, to eliminate the consequences of these treaties. They fought not only for the liberation of their native lands but also for the incorporation of these lands into Bulgaria. There are numerous proofs of this, but one of the most important is their mass involvement during the irredentist wars, waged by the Bulgarian State.
x x x
What was the attutude of USA towards Bulgarian participation in the WW1 could be seen in a document, found in the archives of the Hoover Institution. The document is titled “THE UNITED STATES AND BULGARIA’, and dated May 3, 1918. The information is about the recent discussion in the Senate the subject of American relations with Bulgaria: “The incident is of interest, as it proves that President Wilson still holds to his contention that no purpose would be served by a declaration of war on Bulgaria by the United States, but that on the contrary, his Government, by avoiding a fomal breach, may be able to further the interests both of Bulgaria and of the Allies... Perhaps the most difficult part of any scheme of action that President Wilson may have in contemplation will be to secure complete acquiescence from the countries in the Balkans that are our Allies in the settlement that will meet Bulgaria’s legitimate aspirations. In this question, however, the guiding principles are clear and unmistakable. The widest scope must be given to the claims of nationality, and the future harmonious development of the Balkans as a whole must be kept sedulously in mind.” The principle of nationalities was very well formulated by the US policy, but the ambitions of Serbia and Greece did not coincide with it. The US policy was divided between the nationality principle and the ambitions of its Allies. That was why, on the Peace Conference in Paris later on, although the American diplomacy strongly supported the right of the Bulgarians for unification, the need to make Rumania, Serbia and Greece comfortable took supremacy.
There were also other documents that are to be found in Hoover Institution and that are connected with the eventual declaring war to Bulgaria by the Unuted States. In July 1918 the Bulgarian ambassador in Bern sent a report to the Prime-Minister, where he said about the efforts of the Serbian propaganda to make the US declare war on Bulgaria. “The traditional simpathies of the Protestant Congregations towards Bulgaria have helped to neutralize the Serbian activities. The very much reswpected American missionaries Haskel and Markom were asked by the Bulgarians to go in the US and act in favour of Bulgaria, which they did successfully.
The very warm attitude of the American politicians of that time towards the Bulgarian interests could be seen also from another document. This is a secret letter to the chief of the Secret Cabinet of the King Dobrovich from the secretary of the American Consul in Sofia Murphy. The secretary was a Bulgarian from Macedonia and was fascinated with the pro-Bulgarian position of the Consul. He has secretly rewritten a letter that Murphy sent to his Government (the letter was not found in the records). The letter has to be a proof that there were many Americans on highest positions who understood the Bulgarian problems and although in some way enemies, they justified the Bulgarian position in the war.
IV. BULGARIAN CAMPAIGN COMMITTEES IN MACEDONIA 1941
The Versaille Treaty System strongly affected the Bulgarian society and influenced all the major and minor steps in its further development. The bright expectations born in the Revival for liberation of the enslaved brothers were blighted. Instead of understanding the world had proved a bad will towards the just Bulgarian cause. The Powers needed a small Bulgaria, they were not interested of the needs of the population. Bulgaria was cut from all her sides. Territories of vital importance, populated with Bulgarian population, felt under foreign domination. Southern Dobroudja was given to Romania and a vast number of refugees entered Bulgaria (1913). A part of Eastern Thrace entered in Turkey the homes of the Bulgarians being put on fire (1913), many people murdered. Western Thrace was promised autonomy and the Bulgarian outlet to White Sea seemed to be secured, but after several years this promise of the Versaille makers was only a reminiscence: Greece simply grasped Western Thrace. But what happened with Macedonia captured all the minds again. The vast Bulgarian population was not recognized any minority rights, although promised by the peacemakers. Bulgarians were denied any rights to be Bulgarians. The schools were closed, the priests and all the intelligentsia was expelled to Bulgaria. Its already a rule for the historians nowadays to write about establishing Bulgarian schools in 1941; must not be forgotten that such schools were not established, they were renovated. As for their establishment, it happened during the Ottoman yoke, a Bulgarian state did not exist at that time to do that, to finance, and to organize that. It was the Exarchate to do that, and the Bulgarian population itself sponsored it. Now the population was forced to turn those schools into Greek and Serbian ones. The population was simply to be Hellenized and Serbianized, and it had to do that in a Balkan manner - with tortures, murders, expelling to Bulgaria, prison, forceful mobilization in the army. Nowadays many are asking a banal question: since they were strong Bulgarians, how was it possible that they recognized themselves as Greeks, as Serbians, and at last as Macedonians? A banal question, which needs a banal response: before the Inquisition people recognized themselves to be witches, people in Gestapo recognized things they had not done. And it was for the same reasons - torture. There was not a single larger Bulgarian family in Macedonia between the two world wars, to be not strongly suffered from the Serbian and Greek powers.
And what is mostly important - the hope towards Bulgaria had started to decline. Bulgaria did not happen to be the country to help them, being in disorder after the WW1. She was on her knees, being compelled to have good relations with Serbia, in order to cut the international isolation. Historians ordinarily are missing this very important period of time, when Greece and especially Serbians - these great politicians among the Slavs, took advantage of the situation. The population in Macedonia continued to be strongly faithful towards Bulgaria, but the soil for cutting its roots with this country and even nation, was prepared during that period.
The heavy situation in which Bulgaria found herself forced Prime-Minister Alexander Stamboliyski - an Agrarian, to look for way to escape the international isolation. This way passed through Serbia. In a statement before Serbian journalists in Belgrade he expressed the oppinion that “the Macedonians were not Bulgarians” . This was for the first time a Bulgarian Prime-Minister said such words. The second was the Communist Prime-Minister after WW2 Georgi Dimitrov. The Macedonians did not agree with these words and declared war on him, which, they said, has nothing to do with the political struggles in Bulgaria. Macedonian Organisation, which was the only authority in the Pirin Districy, captured and occupied for 24 hours the city of Kjustendil, 60 miles from Sofia. The chetniks arrested the authorities. This was not only declaration, it was the very war. After several months they murdered the Minister of the Intermal Affairs, and in the coup d’etat against Stamboliyski the Macedonians participated actively, a Macedonian being the one to kill Stamboliyski. Macedonians at that time strongly opposed anyone who did not recognise them to be Bulgarians. Nevertheless Stamboliyski’s activity in that direction gave their evil fruits.
As it was already said, from the very beginning of the Revolutionary movement in Macedonia and Thrace, there were two strategies: immediate unification with Bulgaria or Autonomy as a necessary stage. The supporters of the two strategies often had misunderstandings and even clashes among themselves (among and not between, because sometimes the wings were several). Anyway, one is sure, the history was generous enough towards them in giving them possibilities to try their strategy, and miser enough to render them success. The autonomous trend was most powerful at the beginning of the century: the Ilinden-Preobrajenje Uprising proved its inconsistency. The immediate incorporation with Bulgaria as a strategy was realized in the wars 1912-1918, and it happened to be not successful too. The supporters of the autonomy gained strength again. And more - some of the autonomists were influenced up to that moment by the socialist movement, which after the war bore the Communism. And the latter was not only ideas and theory, but a practice accompanied with strong pressure for activity.
Thus after the WW1 there was a strong diversity among the revolutionary movement. The strong IMORO was divided into Macedonian and Thracian, since the occupators were different and conditions differed. From the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) pieces were torn - the strong at the that time Agrarian Party, supporting good relations with Serbia, created a pro-Serbian wing, which soon began clashing in Vardar Macedonia with the IMRO’s chetas. Communists created a pro-Soviet wing, which did the same. Ideas for a Balkan Federation and dissolving the Macedonian question in maybe different ways spread all over Bulgaria and Macedonia and tortured the minds of the people and deepened their disorientation. Bulgarian politicians were divided in many different groups: Agrarians and some others wanted to be faithful to the Western Powers and to Versaille; former officers from the Army, the several Liberal parties and the King were inclined for a revision of the Treaty, the Socialists and the Communists divided the society into classes and predicted clashes among them, even provoking them. A June 9th Coup d’etat of the Army, in 1923, killing the Agrarian Prime Minister Alexander Stamboliyski, was followed by the provoked by Moscow Uprising in September the same year. Several years latter political murderings were a common thing. The bright times of the Revival were finally buried.
In this situation, IMRO tryed to do its best to be faithful to its philosophy not to meddle in the political matters in Bulgaria, but to do its job in Macedonia. But in the conditions after the WW1 it was almost impossible. A part of Macedonia, which was liberated, the so called Pirin district, was turned into a main basis of the revolutionary movement. This was the territory where in fact the different wings of the Organization, the fractions and groupings found their combat field among themselves. IMRO of course was the most powerful and their leader Ivan Mihajlov was in fact a factor in the Bulgarian policy. (Macedonians have always been an important factor in the Bulgarian politics). The supporters of an anti-Bulgarian trend among the Macedonian population between the two world wars should have to research the situation in the Pirin district between the wars. There they would find enough material for their theses. Pirin was not declared to be autonomous and was not declared to be for the Macedonians. Nevertheless it was for them, and the Power of the Bulgarian Governments there was only nominal. But researching this is not at the same time a thankful job for this purpose. It would express that at a time, when the Serbian and Greek police and Gendarmerie were occupied with a denationalization, the Bulgarian Government gave in fact a full possibility for a full self-determination of the population in the Pirin district. Only people born in Macedonia had in fact the right and the possibility to arrange their matters. And the population there, as well as the Revolutionary Organizations, did not recognize any other nationality, except the Bulgarian one. Nowadays many people, in this number inexperienced historians, try to seek the appearance of the “Macedonism” as opposed to “Bulgarism” before the WW2. Of course some pro-Yugoslavian pro-Agrarian groups existed, and also pro-Soviet pro-Communist, which were opposed to the strongly nationalistic Bulgarian IMRO, but those groups were small, and were not of importance, at least at that time. Anyway, what happened in 1941 is pretty enough evidence for the feelings of the Bulgarian population in Macedonia in 1941.
x x x
The Bulgarian population in Macedonia accepted with satisfaction the defeat of Versailles Yugoslavia in 1941. In the demolition of Yugoslavia those people saw the end of their 23-year long slavery. No wonder then, that the Bulgarians from Macedonia, mobilized in the Yugoslav army, refuse to fight, lay down arms, and surrender to the Germans. The situation was similar to WW1, when Bulgarians from Macedonia, mobilized in the Serbian army surrendered en masse to the Austro-Hungarian army.
The hostilities against Yugoslavia began on April 6, 1941. The fast advance of the German troops in Macedonia created possibilities for overthrowing the odious Serbian and Greek power in the district. But the lack of Bulgarian troops and official Bulgarian powers caused certain political vacuum, in which the so called campaign committees (CC) arose.
The idea for creating such committees did not emerge at once. It arose in conversations among some representatives of the former Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (united). These were the historical figures Pavel Shatev (the only one alive at that time from the Solun’s outrages), Alexo Martulkov, Hristo Ampov, Stephan Stephanov and Vassil Hadjikimov. The outbreak of WW2 on September 1, 1939 forced the whole Bulgarian society, and particularly the fugitives from Macedonia, to seek more actively ways for the liberation of the country.
In the course of the talks it became clear that the problem of organizing the Bulgarian population in Macedonia could be solved by two active figures - Stephan Yanakiev Stephanov and Vassil Hristov Hadjikimov. They had both suffered, and would suffer again for the liberation of their native territories. Like many other Bulgarians from Macedonia, they were to be imprisoned after the war. Hadjikimov stayed in prison for more than 11 years. Stephan Stephanov perished in an attempt to escape from prison. They worked down the following plan: first, if the conditions required that Bulgaria should not engage in the war, they would struggle for the autonomy of this region; second, if there were a plebiscite for joining any of the neighboring countries, they would urge the people to take part in campaigns, demonstrations, petitions for joining Bulgaria.
According to them these political goals could be achieved only by following two basic missions: destroying the Serbian and Greek authorities in Macedonia, and uniting the people in an organization.
The Versaille Yugoslavia was destroyed in a short time. Negotiations were conducted for joining a part of Macedonia to Bulgaria. Having in mind the changes in the political situation Stephanov and Hadjikimov decided that their mission was to form a Central Committee with a network of committees in the towns and villages. Such an organization would be able to assist the Bulgarian authorities, which were to be established there and which supposedly, would not be familiar with the local conditions.
The atmosphere at that time in Macedonia was suitable for creating an organization of the kind that Stephanov and Hadjikimov had mind. The Bulgarian troops were expected with impatience. In that situation local authorities were created in some places in Macedonia even spontaneously, long before any instructions were given. The necessities of the historical moment always call for the right men. The arrival of Stephanov and Hadjikimov appeared to be just the spark, which enflamed the hearts of the people for patriotic activities. In Skopje they found their old friends - the lawyer Blagoy Popankov and the merchant Illiya Attanassov. The latter informed them that a session with representatives of different organizations would be held. The purpose of this session, where a German representative was invited, was to create an independent Republic of Macedonia. Of course they had in mind some kind of a Bulgarian Macedonian Republic. But assuming that such a republic would be under German protectorate, which would not be desirable, Stephanov and Hadjikimov rejected this idea.
On April 13, 1941 a session was held in Stephan Stephanov’s house in Skopje. According to the N1 minutes, a “Central Committee of the Macedonian Bulgarian Committees” (CCMBC) was founded. Its official name was: Bulgarian Central Campaign Committee for Macedonia (BCCCM). The Committees that would be formed in the different places throughout Macedonia were called Local Bulgarian Campaign Committees (LBCC).
The BCCCM consisted of 32 persons. It chose an executive Committee: President Stephan Stephanov, Deputy (Vice-President) Spiro Kitinchev, Secretary Vassil Hadjikimov, cashier Kroum Organdjiev and advisors Blagoy Popankov, Ivan Piperkov, Dr. Alexander Gueorgiev and Illiya Attanassov.
One of the main tasks of the BCCCM was to publish a declaration: “BULGARIANS, Macedonia is liberated! Macedonia is liberated for ever. The end of the slavery has come... The centuries-old slavery in Macedonia - Greek, Serbian and Turkish, mental and political, economic and social as well, in the 20th century, is abolished. The great ideal - l i b e r t y - for which Macedonia waged century-long struggles with an unprecedented heroism and with a lot of sacrifices, is already a reality.” Along with this, the declaration briefly declared the program before the people: unification with Bulgaria. Although the Bulgarian authorities were not established yet, the BCCCM announced in the declaration: “Macedonia is free and is already in the Bulgarian national unity”.
Bulgarian press was founded in Macedonia too. After 24 years Bulgarian words began to appear in a Bulgarian newspaper. It was called “Macedonia” and published most of the documents and the decisions of the BCCCM. Stephan Stephanov was the director of the newspaper. Radiostation Skopje was restored too.
One of the first problems the BCCCM faced with, was to take the power away from the Serbs. Paradoxically, the power was still Serbian - the Germans did not abolish the administrative authorities from the beginning. The German commandant in Skopje answered the delegation of the BCCCM that he would give the power to the Bulgarians, if only they could give him proofs that the Bulgarians predominated to Skopje.. This became a pretext for a special referendum,. Only half a day appeared to be enough for the BCCCM to prepare Bulgarian flags and to hang them outside all Bulgarian houses. All over the city there were Bulgarian flags although there was no official Bulgarian representative in it. Like any pedantic German, the commandant of Skopje drove along the streets in order to see for himself that the city was a Bulgarian one. Afterwards the administrative power of the city was given to the Bulgarians. Spiro Kitinchev was appointed the first mayor of the city.
This success showed that to establish Bulgarian rule was not an easy thing, and that a struggle should be waged for it. At the same time people got convinced that this struggle could be successful only if it was well organized, and if there was unanimity among the supporters of the different tendencies and groups. The struggle for overtaking the power in Skopje showed that in other Macedonian towns the Serbs might also have strong positions; that is why the immediate formation of local committees was necessary. This was the task of the organizing secretary - Vassil Hadjikimov - the most energetic of the workers. He traversed the whole Macedonia and organized LBCCs in towns and bigger villages.
On April 14, 1941 Vassil Hadjikimov arrived in Veles. Several persons in the town were wounded or murdered, several houses were ruined by the German bombings. Unlike in Skopje, Serbian powers in Veles had been evacuated before the arrival of the Germans. The town-hall was in the hands of the Bulgarians. The new mayor - Konstantin Vanev - was elected by the people. In the hall of the town’s cultural house, in the presence of many townsmen a long discussian took place. The townsmen decided to create a local CC, which would have to follow the directives of the BCCCM for Macedonia’s unification with Bulgaria. According to the protocol, the purposes of the Committee were: to serve as a representative of the town of Veles, to keep contacts with all the foreign powers, and to defend the townsmen’s economic, political and cultural interests.
The newspaper “Macedonia” was not late in announcing the event. This was the first LCC and its creation was also a historical event. After WW2 the town of Veles was called Titov Veles, although the Bulgarian national liberation movement in this town had long history.
The LCC in Veles immediately undertook actions for investigation and restoration of the graves of Bulgarian soldiers and officers killed in WW1. The townsmen had hidden the crosses from the graves, because the Serbs would violate them. So, on May 4, 1941 - Sunday, the CC organized a memorial service before the mortal remains.
On April 17, 1941 Vassil Hadjikimov arrived in his native town of Shtip. Here, as it was the case with many places in Macedonia, the citizens had organized Bulgarian power immediately after the Serbs had abandoned the town. Well-known to his fellow-citizens, Hadjikimov called a meeting, where he explained the directives and the positions of the BCCC. The people applauded him. In course of 23 years of Serbian slavery the best Bulgarian town in Macedonia was burried under the Serbian hatred. In his reminiscences Vassil Hadjikimov wrote: “ He, who wants to get an idea of what the Serbian slavery is, must come here and get familiar with something else: the real face of the Bulgarian spirit. The townsmen of Shtip seem to be the toghest Bulgarians. Despite sufferings and assimilations that took place, they have preserved their language. They have not only kept the awareness of their national identity, but also of the great role they had played in the past for the liberation of Macedonia.”
The next places where Hadjikimov created Ccs were Kochani, Vinitsa, Pehchevo, Tsarevo selo (Delchevo), Berovo, Radovish and Stroumitsa. Up to the arrival of the Bulgarian troops in Macedonia, Ccs were created in most of towns of the region. But they were not united in a net. This did not happen untill Vassil Hadjikimov passed through the whole region and unified the documentation and the oppinions for the work of those committees.
At the same time the Albanian population in Kossovo also created committees. Its aim was to prepare this this region, as well as some towns in Western Macedonia, for annexation by Albania. That is why in the towns of Tetovo, Gostivar, Debar, Strouga and Ohrid, Bulgarian and Albanian Committees were created and the struggles between them began. The Islam pushed the Albanians against their interests: the region of Tetovo was economically connected with Macedonia, while its western area was surrounded by high mountains.
At the time of Hadjikimov’s visit in Gostivar, this town was full of German, Albanian and Italian flags. Bulgarian and Albanian committees were struggling between themselves. On April 23rd a meeting was held, where the Bulgarian committee was reorganized as a local Bulgarian Campaign Committee. The Albanian Committee in Debar was most active. It organized demonstrations and meetings on the occasion of the liberation. There were slogans for unification with Albania. The Albanian committee here was in connection with the one in Prizren, so that the behavior of the Italians and of the Albanians expressed self-confidence. That is why here there were neither Bulgarian meetings, nor the Bulgarian simbolical shout “hurray” (the Serbian one is “zhivio”). A secret conference in a house of a Bulgarian teacher on April 24th was everything that could be done. That committee in fact could function only illegaly. The purpose of the CC was not illegal activities, but the mobilization of the whole nation.
The Italian occupational powers did not approve the activities of Vassil Hadjikimov. They arrested him for several hours. So he did not succeed in organizing Ccs in Strouga and Ohrid. However, such committees arose and were among the most active ones in Macedonia.
In one of the biggest towns of Macedonia - Bitolja, the Bulgarian population has had to wage a struggle to seize the town-hall from the Serbian administration. In fact the struggle was not against the Serbian administration, but a problem of obtaining proofs about the ethnical picture of the town, which the population had to present before the German powers. The Bitolya townsmen had organized a committee before the arrival of Hadjikimov. Such was the case with other towns in Macedonia, too. This shows that the organizations of Bulgarian Ccs in Macedonia in 1941 was a spontaneous activity of the Bulgarian nation for its self-determination, and not the initiative of several hot-hearted patriots. The fact that the Bitolya committee was not called a “Campaign Committee” was of no great significance.
Bulgarian women from Macedonia have always possessed a strong national consciousness and have always played an important part in the revolutionary struggles. In those critical days they were loyal to the tradition: on April 30, in the hall of the musical school in Skopje, a women’s CC was organized. It’s president became Maria Ivanova Shaleva.
At that time a Bulgarian club functioned in Aegean Macedonia. Vassil Hadjikimov visited some towns in Aegean Macedonia, including Salonica. He organized CCs only in some towns, such as Vodena and Lerin
Thus the whole Vardar and a part of the Aegean Macedonia were covered with CCs. Nobody could account for the exact social characteristics and the power of this movement - the Bulgarian Ccs. At the head was the intelligentsia, followed by merchants, industrials, handicraftsmen, agrarians. So, in the process of organizing the Ccs in 1941 the basic part of the population was participating actively. This testifies to their democratic character.
The creation of the Ccs should not be regarded as the isolated efforts of a small number of intellectuals. All Bulgarian in Vardar Macedonia were involved in this patriotic deed during the critical times of 1941. This was a process of whole nations self-determination, an expression of the will of the people to join Bulgaria after being liberated from the Serbian rule. Without any underestimation of the work of the organizers, it must be emphasized that their success was due to the fact that all the Bulgarians in Macedonia were ready to work for that cause; they were only waiting for the signalm. In many places Vassil Hadjikimov found organized committees, so that his problem was to only standardize the documents, titles and the directives of the work to be done by the committees. There were several places where Vassil Hadjikimov did not have the possibility to go. The population of these places formed committees nevertheless.
The main task of the Ccs was to abolish the Serbian rule and to establish a Bulgarian one. At a time when no power existed in Vardar Macedonia, before the establishment of the official power of the Bulgarian state, this rule of the people took care of everything that concerned the population: food supply, order, relations with the German and the Italian powers; liberation of captives - Bulgarians from Macedonia, who had been soldiers in the Yugoslavian army; preparation of the population to welcome the Bulgarian troops; organization of industrial and agricultural activities; education and culture, etc.
It would be an unpleasamt task to make a clear difference between the activities of the Ccs up to the arrival of the Bulgarian troops in the district, and after it. BCCC was created on the 13th April and only a week later - on 19th April, the Bulgarian troops entered the region. Certain LCCs were organized even after 19th April. Some of them were in the Bulgarian zone, others in the Italian and in the German ones. At the same time the arrival of the Bulgarian troops did not mean that Bulgarian administrative powers were organized automatically. The latter were being organized throughout a longer period of time.
In any case, undoubtedly of most important significance is the fact that in a powerless state the people succeeded in organizing a power and in declaring unification with Bulgaria. So that the mission, which the Ccs were fulfilling could be divided into: revolutionary, organizational, economic and protocol. The revolutionary mission consisted in destroying the remnants of the administrative power of the former Versaille Yugoslavia. Closely connected with the revolutionary one was the organizational mission. It consisted in organizing LCCs, which had the right and the task to provide for the life and the food for the population. The Ccs were also responsible for the cultural, educational, economic and political needs and rights of the population.
In a short time all the administrative Serbian functionaries, as well as those working in the economic, cultural and other spheres were dismissed. Thanks to the activities of the Ccs soon the factories and enterprizes began to function. This seemed to be of a vital importance for the workers, who have only their salaries to live on. Only in Skopje several days appeared to be enough for ensuring job for 3000 persons.
An important part of the activities of the Ccs was the organization of the guard in front of the shops, stores, etc. Guards were also put in front of buildings of historical, ethnographical and cultural significance of Macedonia - museums, libraries, etc.
Of a great importance was the restoration of the reading clubs. Their significance for the education of the nation during the Revival period and later on is well-known. The Serbs never had at their disposal a similar cultural institution; so their hatred towards these clubs is understandable. That is why they simply destroy them. In a short time, with the help of the Bulgarian powers the Ccs restored them. In a short time, with the help of Bulgarian powers, the CC restored them. On 9th June in Prilep the Bulgarian reading club “Nadezhda” (Hope) was restored, on 16th July - the one in Kumanovo called “Ekaterina Simidchieva”, names simbolically connected with the Bulgarian Revival, etc.
A teacher’s committee was formed too, as a department of the BCCC. Its most important task was to inform the administrative authorities about the problems connected the Bulgarian education in the liberated Macedonia. The BCCC ordered to all the LCCs to invite all the Bulgarian teachers from the primary and secondary schools in Macedonia anmd together with the former Exarchate teachers to form educational committees at every place. Through the newspaper “Macedonia” the BCCC appealed to the LCCs to make contacts with the administrative authorities and to undertake all the possible measures to preserve from plunder and anihilation their property - buildings, furniture, libraries, collections, cabinets, etc. BCCC assigned to the teachers’ communities the task to organize courses for studying the literary Bulgarian language. In the very first days the volunteers in these courses in Skopje outnumbered 800.
Of a great importance was the preserving of the public order. The functionaries of the Ccs did not allow personal revenge over the enslavers. Having in mind that the character of the Serbian regime was a forcible one, acts of revenge would have been logical. In many places the population had isolated the Serbian families in camps, although most of them were innocent. The notorious villains Vassilie Trbich, Mihail Kalamatiev, Kirkovich, Grigor Tsiklev and many others had escaped immediately after sensing the activisation of the Bulgarian population. That is why the BCCC ordered that all the Serbs and Montenegrins should be freed from the camps and prisons immediately. They were proposed to go back to their native places in Serbia and Montenegro.
A heavy situation happened in Prilep. The Serbian powers had colonized Serbians and Montenegrines in Pelagonia on the most fertile land, which was taken by force from the Bulgarians. Now the population has gathered in a camp all the colonized Serbs. According to Vassil Hadjikimov: “If I had not come on time, about midnight, the camp, where the colonists were gathered would have looked like butchery.”
What were the relations between the German military powers and the Ccs? Some Bulgarian newspapers of that time contained announcements of a propaganda nature that the administrative bodies in the Mairies had been appointed by the German powers. That was not true: they were appointed by the Ccs. Of course the German powers allowed the population to freely express their Bulgarian nationality and were tolerant towards the Ccs. The Germans accepted them as representatives of the population and as an intermediary between them and the population. So that they accepted them. At the same time it is worth noting that the German military powers allowed Albanian Ccs to be formed, which appealed for unification with Albania and for “Great Albania” under Italian protectorate. This deteriorated the relations between Italia and Bulgaria. Thus Germany worked for its own hegemony over the Balkans. So, whatever the considerations were, it looked like the German army gave the Macedonian population the possibility and the right to freely express its nationality. Thus the Bulgarians, outnumbering the other nationalities, gained the possibility to overthrow the Serbian administrative powers and to establish their own ones, corresponding to their nmational character.
That is why the very first number of the newspaper “Macedonia” published in a BCCC’s telegram to Hitler. It said that in WW1 Macedonia had been liberated with the combined heroic efforts of the German and Bulgarian troops. But after the war, according to the decisions in Versaille, Macedonia was left in slavery once again. The telegram also said that all the Macedonians (having in mind the Bulgarians from Macedonia) blessed the Germans and wished them further victories. A similar telegram was sent to Goering too, and a similar answer was received. Those relations were in conformity with the events of March 1941. The demonstrations in Macedonian towns against the Axes were feeble. This also explains why the partisan movement here was weaker in comparison with the other regions of Yugoslavia. In the face of the German troops of that time the Bulgarians from Macedonia saw their liberators.
From the very beginning of its existence the BCCC established friendly relations with Croatia’s government. One of its first tasks was to send a telegram to Dr.Ante Pavelich. Gratitude was expressed towards him, as well as to the whole Croatia’s nation for their help in the liberation of the Bulgarians from Macedonia. It is well-known that during the 1927 trial in Skopje, the Zagreb lawer Ante Pavelich was the only one to defend the accused students - Bulgarians from Macedonia.
The Ccs prepare the population for welcoming the Bulgarian troops, which were allowed to enter the district on 19th April 1941. Everywhere the troops were heartily welcomed. The population went out in the streets and squares, carried flowers and sang Bulgarian songs. The establishment of the Bulgarian administrative authorities was an official act. The German powers gave over the administrative power of the towns in the presence of the population organized by the Ccs. The German flag was taken down and the Bulgarian one was raised.
The Bulgarian tsar Boris III visited the liberated territories. He visited first the town of Shtip - this strongest Bulgarian fortress, and then - Stroumitsa, Gumurdjina, Dedeagach, Ksanti, Kavala and Drama. Two districts were formed in Vardar Macedonia - Skopje and Bitola, while in Western Thrace and Eastern Macedonia - there was one district - the Ksanti. Pirot, Tsaribrod and Bosilegrad entered the Sofia district. The governor of the Bitola district was Todor Pavlov, and in Skopje - Anton Kozarov.
Bulgarian power was established, but still many missions were to be fulfiled by the Ccs, providing food for the people, reviving of the production and the market, functioning of the administrative boards and schools - all that had to be organized by the functionaries of the Ccs. Great quantities of food were sent from Bulgaria on the request of the BCCC. Only in June a hundred railway carts with food came from Bulgaria to Skopje. The participants in the struggles against the Turks, the Greeks and Serbs were given pensions. Arable lands, which were taken from the Bulgarians and given to the Serbian colonists, were given back to their owners.
The BCCC insisted on increasing the educational work in Vardar Macedonia; they insisted on establishing one more faculty in Skopje - an agricultural one, which was necessary for Macedonia, having in mind the agricultural character of the district. The functionaries of the Ccs prompted the contacts between students from Bulgaria and Macedonia.
One of the main missions, which the BCCC started to fulfil was to help free the Bulgarians from Macedonia who were captured in the German army as soldiers in the Yugoslav army; as well as all the political prisoners from the prisons in Versaille Yugoslavia. This of course was a task for the whole Bulgarian society, and mainly for the General Staff. For this purpose a special service for prisoners of war was created. The Ministry of War contacted the German and Italian High Commandings and insisted to solve the problem with the Bulgarian prisoners of war. The Ccs prepared lists of the prisoners, which were sent to the Ministry of War. The latter sent detailed information to the BCCC: Up to the end of May 1941 were freed as follows: from the Slivnitsa camp - 3101 men, from the Vidin camp - 120, from the Petrich camp -487, from the Nikopol camp - 2361, and from the Rousse camp - 812 men; totally, up to the end of May, 10 475 men were freed and sent to their native places.
The Central Military Archives of Bulgaria kept a great number of applications for freeing of captives - Bulgarians from Macedonia, former soldiers in the Yugoslav army. Here is only an example. The father of the well-known general from the Yugoslav army - Mihaylo Apostolski - Mite Apostolov Matevski from Shtip said in his application that his son Mihail Mitev - a major on active service in the Yugoslav army, had been captured by the Germans during the war, and at that moment was in the camp near Milano, Italy. Matovski asked that his son, who, “is a Bulgarian, born from Bulgarian parents in Shtip”, be freed. “I allow myself to add that I am one of the honest Bulgarians in Shtip, I have worked for Bulgaria and for the Bulgarian idea, and during the World War 1 I used to be a volunteer in the Bulgarian army, I was wunded at the Albanian border by a bullet, and as a result I became an invalid.” And he explained that his son had begun his service in the Yugoslav army not because of any love towards this state, “but being from a poor family, he needed to find there temporary subsistence, with the hope that our country will be one day a part from the Motherland, and he would be able to serve to our dear Bulgarian Tsar and State.” On the application there was a resolution: “Rome! To be freed!”
In the course of these activities the representatives of the Ccs gave the possibility to soldiers from other nationalities to be freed from German camps. Even some Serbian soldiers were freed, with the lie that they were Bulgarians. At the same time there were Serbian officers who were not willing to be freed on such a lie, so they declared themselves true Serbians and did not want to change their nationality, not even formally. But what was most interresting - there was nobody declaring himself a Macedonian as contradicted to Bulgarian.
One of the most important missions which the Ccs fulfilled was to organize the celebration of Bulgarian public holidays in liberated Macedonia. Of course celebrations were organized by the administrative authorities, but having in mind that the members of the Ccs participated actively in them, they also took part in their organization. The celebration of 24th May in Skopje was most important. Many guests from Sofia had arrived: a great number of members of the organization “Yunak”; the President of the Macedonian Scientific Institute in Sofia, Professor Nikola Stoyanov, was among the guests too. The guests were welcomed by a brass band, the latter being trained with the initiative of the BCCC in playing Bulgarian military marches. The Mayor Blagoy Popankov read a salutatory address on behalf of the citizens of Skopje. All the people were happy, some of them were crying with joy. Brothers, sisters, relatives reunited with each other after a long separation. A little later about 100 representatives of the Macedono-Odrin’s legionaries arrived in Skopje. They were led by the member of the National Assembly, Andro Lulchev. At the railway station they were welcomed by the members of the local organization of the former volunteers - about 200 men headed by Pane Shosholchev and the secretary Hristo Gligorov. Simultaneously with the welcoming of the guests, representatives of the Bulgarians from Macedonia were sent to Sofia. A great number of children - students from Skopje, Veles, Prilep, Bitola, Ohrid, Kroushevo, Negotin, Kavadartsi and Guevgueli were going to Sofia to take part in the celebration in Sofia. There was a meeting at the railway station. Salutatory adresses were presented by the governor of the district Anton Kozarov and the Vice-Prezident of the Macedonian Women’s Union - Ekaterina Voinova. In order to participate in the celebration of 24th May in Skopje, the veteran of the revolutionary struggles Lazar Tomov - President of the Illinden Organization in Bulgaria had arrived. He carried with him the flag of the association “Vardarski Yunak”, which he had taken to Sofia after the catastrophe in 1918.
The demonstration was an impressive one. It left in the consciousness of the people the impression that the years of the slavery had already passed in history and that Bulgarian society was unanimous before the ideal for liberation and unification of the enslaved territories. In a similar manner, celebrations in honour of 24th May were also organized in all towns and villages in Macedonia.
x x x
On July 7, 1941 thje district governor Anton Kozarov issued an order N248 through which the activities of BCCC were dismissed.
The energy of Stephanov and Hadjikimov was not crashed. They started organizing the so called popular banks, whose mission was to help the small producers. Despite the heavy economic situation in Macedonia at that time, their work in this direction was useful. The only change this time was that Hadjikimov was the director, and Stephanov was the deputy. In a short while a bank was built in all major towns of Macedonia. This activity was also a successful one. And it is the most important proof that it was not up to a couple of adventurers, assisted by the case and the situation, but that both of them were Bulgarian patriots who had given much of their energy in the name of a whole nation’s benefit.
And again - towards August-September 1944, Bulgaria was facing a new catastrophe. In Macedonia there was an interregnum again. The time that needed Stephanov and Hadjikimov had come again. Several thousands of Albanian nationalists, with Albanian flags in their hands were approaching Skopje, aiming to occupy and hold the town until the treaties for the possible new borders were signed. Vassil Hadjikimov immediately summoned all the active citizens in the Chamber of Industry and explained the new situation and the new dangers for the Bulgarian population to them. He promised them that he would not hurry to run to Bulgaria and hide himself from the Serbians, but would stay with the population and help it. He created a “Central Committee of the National Militia of Macedonia.” On the head of the Committee was the secretary - Vassil Hadjikimov; members - Dr. Nikola Andonov and Stephan Stephanov - responsible for the relations with the German authorities, and Mihail Domazetov - responsible for the relations with the Bulgarian military and civil authorities.
Thus, raising the slogan “For a self-dependant Macedonia”, Hadjikimov gave the citizens armament from the depot of the Regional Police Directorate.
The German Powers appeared to be against such a committee and its activities. That is why, on September 10 a new one was found to replace the former. It was called “A Local Committee for Skopje and the neighbourhood”. The Germans tended to diminish the functions of the Committee in order that the latter should not be turned eventually into a government of the self-independent Macedonia. The activity of the Local Committee was easier to be controlled. The members of the Committee were Dr.Kosta Chohadjich - President; Vassil Hadjikimov - secretary, responsible for the administration and for the radio; members - Nikola Pavlov and Reshid Djavid - responsible for the finances, Georgi Kisselinov, Feta Raouf and Georgi Poptrayanov - for the education, Stephanov and Emin Yashar - for the National Militia, and Dr.Alexander Georgiev - for the sanitation.
A proclamation was published in the “Macedonia” newspaper towards the population of Skopje and the neighbourhood. This newspaper started to be edited again, as a continuation of the tradition of the Ccs “Macedonia” newspaper of 1941. It was announced that the Committee was formed with the purpose of preserving the order and the security in Skopje and the neighbourhood. With the same reason the National Militia was organized - to gather and arm the Bulgarians for preserving the peace and the order. It was said that this organization is not a political one, but a means for guaranteeing the national security.
As it could be observed, the Committee could be seen like some kind of continuation of BCCC’s activities of 1941. The newspaper was called “Macedonia” - as it had been called three years earlier. The same was the title of the editorial. At the time Stephan Stephanov used to write it under the heading “Our Word”. In September 1944 it was again St.Stephanov who titled it in the same way. Having in mind the new conditions it once again rose the slogan for “self-dependent, or autonomous Macedonia”.
x x x
The courts in Tito’s Yugoslavia did not forgive the freethinking and patriotism; they did not allow anybody in Macedonia to call himself “a Bulgarian”. In February 1946 a trial was held. The President of the Skopje regional court was Panta Marina, and the members were Dimiter Toplichanets and Philimena Mihailova. This court sentenced V.Hadjikimov to death, and Stephan Stephanov to 16 years of prison. They were guilty for organising the BCCC. Very soon the Supreme Court Martial replaced Hadjikimov’s punishment with 20 years of prison. After 11 years and 3 months Hadjikimov was freed. He used to live in Sofia and I had the chance to often meet him. He closed eyes on December 20, 1992, in his native town of Shtip, thus having the possibility to meet the Liberty of Macedonia from the Yugoslavia’s chains.
x x x
The lack of any interference on the part of any organized political powers at the time when the Ccs were organized, outlines the contours of a large white field over which the Bulgarians from Macedonia wrote with capital letters their will to be incorporated within Bulgaria. The Ccs were an organization which could be joined by everybody, no matter what his convictions were. The most important conclusion, which could be made about the CC is that it was in only that single case after the catastrophes at the beginning of the century, that history gave the opportunity to the Bulgarians from Macedonia to make their self-determinatiuon without any pressure. Bulgarians from Macedonia - representatives of all professions - workers, farmers, village people, townsmen, handicraftsmen, merchants, intelligentsia, members of all parties, availed of their historical chance. On this referendum they gave their vote for Bulgaria.
At the same time it must be taken into consideration that this organization is not a single and isolated form of a self-determination of the Bulgarians from Macedonia. It is only a link in the whole chain of the National liberation struggles after the Berlin Treaty.
x x x
The American authors Stephen E.Palmer, Jr and Robert R.King in their book “Yugoslav Communism and the Macedonian Question” are giving the scientific explanation of the quick formation of a Macedonian nation in Tito’s Yugoslavia, under the strong influence of the Soviet Union. While in 1941 the population in Vardar Macedonia strongly expressed its Bulgarian feelings, only several years were enough to change the direction of development of the Macedonian Question. What were the factors that both authors thought to be the most important.
First, here was the recognition that those people were not Serbians. This in fact was some kind of retreat from the Serbian traditional nationalism. This recognition came, since after the partition of Yugoslavia during the Second World War the Yugoslav Communist Party could hardly retain control over Vardar Macedonia, which was cruicial for her having in mind the strategic position of the district. Second, this kind of policy was useful to justify the retention of Vardar Macedonia within the Yugoslav federation. “An area inhabited by a population seventy percent of which was Bulgarian should justifiably belong to Bulgaria.” And since the people there strongly opposed being called Serbs, it would be impossible after the war to use this method of legalizing their retention as a part of Yugoslavia. But a non-Bulgarian, non-Serbian population of Slavs could belong to a federation of Slavic peoples as one of the fraternal nations. A third reason for recognizing the Macedonian nationality was “to eliminate the Bulgarian consciousness of the vast majority of Vardar Macedonians. Thus the party has not only recognized the nationality, but also has taken and still undertakes vigorous steps to encourage its culture to differentiate Macedonian from Bulgarian. Republican political and economic “autonomy”, the Macedonian language, reinterpretation of history, the Macedonian church, and all other attributes of a distinct nationality have played a major role in de-Bulgarizing the Macedonian population.”
That the Macedonian language didn’t exist up to the WW2 and that it was elaborated after the war, the US strategic leadership was well aware of. In a document titled ‘SITUATION IN MACEDONIA’ prepared for the Office of Strategic Services, Research and Analysis Branch, dated March 7, 1945, is said that there is not up to that time a Macedonian Alphabet, and the creating of a such was expected. “It is rumored in Skoplye that Russian linguists will assist in the formulation of a standard Macedonian language. At present little except newspapers and pamphlets is being printed in Macedonia. Textbooks for the schools will not be printed untill an alphabet has been officially adopted.” The involvement of the Soviet politics in the formation of the new nation was not only rumours. It was in 1934 when the decision of the Comintern was taken for the formation of the Macedonian nation. Nevertheless what the real purpose was, it is understandable, and this is also the conclusion of the above mentioned two American authors, that Soviet Russia needed friendly Bulgarian nation, but not a too strong and self-confident one.
The formation of the Macedonian nation was accompanied with a strong anti-Bulgarian propaganda. “No Macedonian in Yugoslavia would admit openly that he considers himself Bulgarian - it is neither wise nor safe to do so.” After the war the Tito’s propaganda machine, helped by the Bulgarian “anti-fascist” one, flooded the people with the devastations inflicted by the Bulgarian army over the territory of Vardar Macedonia. Very important document to show the opposite appears to be the above cited document: “During the occupation the Bulgarians laid road beds for two new railroad lines: one running from Kumanovo to Kriva Palanka and thence to Gershevo, the other from Kochane to Gorna Djoumaya. No work on these lines is being carried on at present.” And more: “Before the war, Macedonia, although the principal Yugoslav tobacco producer, did not have a single tobacco factory. During the occupation, the Bulgarians established plants in Shtip and Skoplye. Both are now the property of the Macedonian government. The Skoplye plant processes 1000 kgs of tobacco daily and employs 130 workers, mostly women.” Occupied nations during the WW2 would be glad to have such an occupator, to build roads and plants.
The hipocricy of the new regime entered in the everyday life of the people. In April 1946 a Congress of the Macedonian emigrants was held in Sofia. In those times all the institutions were directed to serve the policy of the Soviet Communism. The decision of Moskow coincided with the one of Belgrade. That is why the Bulgarian one had to coincide too. According to the decisions of the Macedonian Congress: “The emigrants must stress their policy of solidarity with the Yugoslav peoples to strengthen the Yugoslav Federation; and solidarity with Slavdom for the strengthening of the Slav idea led by the USSR.”
L I T E R A T U R E
1. P a l m e r, S t., J r. and K i n g, R. Yugoslav Communism and the Macedonian Question, Archon books, 1971.
2. M o n r o e, W. Bulgaria and her people, Boston, 1914.
3. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, chapter l, Macedonia.
4. P a l e s h u t s k i K. Makedonskoto osvoboditelno dvizhenie sled Prvata svetovna voina (1918-1924), S., 1993.
5. P a l e s h u t s k y, K. Makedonskiat vpros v burzhoazna Yugoslavia 1918-1941, S., 1983.
6. M i n c h e v, D. Voennorevoliutsionnata deinost na Petr Drvingov (1898-1918), S., 1990.
7. M i n c h e v, D. Blgarskite aktsionni komiteti v Makedonia - 1941.
8. M i n c h e v, D. Uchastieto na naselenieto ot Macedonia v Blgarskata armia prez prvata svetovna voina 1914-1918, S., 1994.
9. Bulgarian Military Review. The Wars of Bulgaria 1885-1945.
10. Ilindensko-Preobrazhenskoto vstanie ot 1903 godina. Voenna podgotovka I provezhdane, S., 1992.
11. Aferata “Miss Stone”. Pisma, dokumenti I materiali. Sastaviteli Konstantin Pandev and Maya Vaptsarova.
12. Albert Soniksen, Izpovedta na edin makedonski chetnik, S., 1968.
13. D o i n o v, D. Kresnensko-Razlozhkoto vstanie 1878-1879, S., 1979.
14. A n a s t a s o f f, Christ. The Tragic Peninsula: A History of the Macedonian Movement for Independence Since 1878. St.Louis: Blackwell Wielandy, 1938, 1938.
15. B a r k e r, Elizabeth. Macedonia: Its Place in Balkan Power Politics. London: Royal Institute for International Affaires, 1950.
16. B r a i l s f o r d, H.N.Macedonia: Its Races and their Future. London: Methuen, 1906.
17.The Bulgarian Question and the Balkan States. Sofia: State Printing Press, 1919.
18. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars. Washington, 1914.
19. Schevil, Ferdinand. The Balkan Problem. Chicago, 1931.
20. Vucinich, Wayne S. Serbia Between East and West: The Events of 1903-1908. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1954.