Saturday, October 28, 2006

3 War is coming again (Black hand over Europe)

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War is coming again (Black hand over Europe)

by Henri Pozzi

What inumerable legends surround it! "Organisation of bandits," say the Serbs.
"Union for a sacred aim of liberation of a people atrociously oppressed," say the Macedonians.
"The heroic personification of a greater idea," wrote Stjepan Radic on 19-th June, 1928, the eve of his assassination at Belgrade.

What is this ORIM- this Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation?

Let us go back forty years.

In 1893 Serbia and Bulgaria were still very small. The Red Sultan pressed his yoke upon the lands of Macedonia which extend from Orchrida in Albania to Adrianople in Thrace; from Mount Char, which is south of Nisch, to Salonika at the mouth of the Vardar.Three Macedonians, the oldest of whom was not thirty years of age: Dane Groueff, a teacher, Dr. Tatcheff, a young doctor and a professor, Pere Tocheff, gathered one winter evening at the village of Ressene, near Bitolj, to decide that the hour had come to put an end to it. Macedonia had suffered enough. If she were organised, if she were armed, if she had chieftains, the Turks would be thrown out.Alone, these three were going to organise her and arm her. They swore on sacred ikons to consecrate their lives to their task.Their programme, from which the ORIM has not deviated one iota in forty years, was: Prepare the Macedonian populations for armed combat against the oppressor; obtain security for the people and guarantees of order and justice in the administration.Less than three months afterwards hundreds of Macedonians, young and old, had taken the oath of the ORIM. Rich and poor, great poets such as Christo Matoff, university men like Gouchtanoff, doctors of law like Todor Saeff, professors of science, merchants, bankers, officials, doctors, celebrated officers like Boris Draganoff, and also obscure peasants, poor mountain shepherds, artisans and village teachers, all had taken the oath which bound them for ever to uncessant propaganda, to supreme devotion, without pity for traitors, without excuse for the cowardly.They were subjected to an iron discipline. Courage, integrity, purity of morals defense of the oppressed and the weak, total abnegation- they must always set the example! Any failure on the part of members of the ORIM punished as mercilessly as she strikes the enemies of the country.Soon they were a thousand, ten thousand, twenty thousand- all Macedonia!Any Macedonian, whatever his official nationality, whether Bulgarian, Roumanian or Alabanian, provided he were Christian and morally above reproach, could be a member of the organisation. It was sub-divided into groups of ten members, each one of whom obeyed a chief or voivode elected by secret vote. All the groups of a locality constituted the local organisation, directed by an elected committee. The local committee was subordinate to a central committee, which was placed under the absolute authority of the chief, chosen from among its members to be the supreme voivide of the ORIM.Immediately the ORIM set to work. In the solitudes of the mountains old soldiers trained volunteers. Soon the first shots echoed in the defiles, the first fires were lighted, the first bombs exploded in the garrisons, the stations and the official buildings. The Venitza affair in 1896; Valandovo in 1897; Enidje-Vardar in 1990; devastation and terror sown in Salonika the following year, then at Seres, then at Skoplje, then at Veles. They fought every day, everywhere, from one end to the other of Macedonia.The Macedonian falcon was soaring!On 2nd August, 1903, fires lighted on the mountain peaks from Kostom to Orchrida, signalled the 30,000 volunteers of the ORIM that the hour had sounded to chase the Turks. All Macedonia rose en bloc.The struggle was fearful; and when at last the ORIM, outnumbered, crushed, had to admit defeat, the slaughter was unimaginable. Seven thousand heads fell, 5,000 prisoners were implaed, hanged, or burned alive; 3,000 children were mutilated or eviscerated, all the women and young girls in the regions of the insurrection were violated.But Europe was affected. The Great Powers demanded autonomy for the martyrised provinces and liberty, thanks to the ORIM, began to dawn over Macedonia.But the long-awaited sun did not appear. The Young Turks had just replaced Abdul-Hamid. Hardly installed in power, they tried to settle for good their accounts with Macedonia. The massacre recommenced. The resistance of the ORIM recommenced also. Four years of struggle followed, without mercy on one side or the other; ambushes, terrorist attacks, mass executions and insurrections without cease. Conquered in their turn by the Balkan allies, the Turks left in 1912. The volunteers of the ORIM had their large part in the victory. They had guided, informed, supported the Serbo-Bulgarian armies. They had fallen by thousands on the battlefield. They had been sacrificed in vain.Macedonia, abandoned by the Turks, was dismembered by the conquerors who had turned against their Bulgarian ally after the Ottoman defeat. The Great War ended the disaster. The heart of Macedonia, Chtip, Skoplje, Bitolj, Veles, Ochrida, Guevgueli, became Serb. The rest, Xanthi, Seres, Salonika, Florina was Greek. A little corner was left to Bulgaria.And while 500,000 Macedonians, an entire people, fled the domination of the Greeks and the Serbs, still more merciless even than that of the Turks, the ORIM resumed the struggle, but this time against Belgrade and Athens.To the hangings of prisoners, the massacres of suspects, to the fearful persecutions of the people, they replied with the execution of hangmen and judges; rendering violence for violence, they matched the administrative terror by guerilla warfare, and by their infernal machines.In the last fourteen years, hundreds of Serbs stations, trains, gendarmeries, public buildings, warehouses, and muniton depots have been burnt or dynamited in annexed Macedonia. The ORIM has not disarmed.Installed in Bulgaria, where it can count on the absolute support of all Macedonian exiles, the ORIM negotiates with the enemies of Yugoslavia, concludes allinces with the revolutionary organisations of Croatia and of Slovenia, perfects her means of action, and awaits patiently the hour of the great interior crisis of Yugoslavia which, by war or revolution, will permit the liberation of Macedonia.She has her representatives in all the great European capitals, her diplomatic delegates, and her secret codes.Her chief is Ivan Mikhailoff, whom the bullet of a traitor eight years ago made the successor of the great Todor Alexandroff. He is the adversary Belgrade dreads most. By the sharpness of his political sense, by his inflexible will, by the devoted fanaticism which he inspires, he has made of the ORIM, as for all men of Macedonian blood, the very incarnation of his country.A legend persistently broadcast by the Pan-Serb propagandists declares that Ivan Mikhailoff ("Vantche" as his faithfuls call him) lives surrounded by armed guards, never sleeps twice under the same roof, never shows himself in public for fear of the reprisals of those whose parents or friends he has assassinated. Thsi legend I heard defended at Sofia even, at the Union Club, and in diplomatic circles by men from whom one had the right to expect authentic information.

Bulgaria The UnluckyTwenty years ago Bulgaria was incontestably the most powerful of the four little Christian states in the Balkan peninsula which were pushing Ottoman domination step by step out of Europe. She was not even then in possession of her natural frontiers, because the Austro-German politicians were desirous of avoiding the constitution of a Bulgarian State whose extent and force would have barred the route to the ambitions of Austria. But she was well on the way, and her power seemed to be destined to dominate in the Balkans. She had recovered Western Roumelia in 1885 as a result of a war with Serbia, which had been brought about by the diplomacy of Vienna, and thus was master of two-thirds of her own national territory. Macedonia, the third portion of the Bulgarian body, remained Turk.However, it was only Turk politically, thanks to the efforts of the Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation (the ORIM) which had galvanised the Christian populations of Macedonia to a realisation of their Bulgar blood and destiny. So well did they do their work that the first victory of the Balkan Allies in 1912 was won in the Valley of the Vardar by the volunteers of the ORIM.A profound sentiment was generated in the Balkan mind of the ethnic unity of all of the Bulgarian populations established in the peninsula, from the Black Sea to Albania, and from the Danube to the Aegean Sea.The man who reigned at Sofia possessed an exceptional intelligence, a spirit of intrigue, a total absence od scruples, a knowledge of men and a profound contempt for them, and these qualities seemed just those needed in the fetid political atmosphere of the Balkans to enable him to realise his profound dreams. In order to prevent a recurrence of the German opposition of 1878, he had formed precious friendships at Berlin and Vienna. The Russian friendship had already been established. Finally, a close alliance, in which the most insignificant eventualities had been foreseen and regulated, united him to Serbia and Greece. The Bulgarian mobilisation decree in September 1912 called to arms nearly half-a-million thoroughly trained men, filled with enthusiasm, and provided by Creusot with a crushing superiority in artillery. This peasant army, advancing irresistibly in less than six weeks to the very doors of Constantinople, stupefied Europe. The Great Powers, however, were interested in seeing to it that the Bulgars should not solve the question of the Orient and so the dream of Bulgaria was checked. There followed the armistice of 1912, the interminable negotiations at London, the refusal of the Serbs to respect the agreement which they had concluded with Sofia in regard to the division of eventual conquests; the sullen attack on the Serbian positions by the Bulgars on 29th June, 1913; the Greeks' rush to the aid of Belgrade' the intervention of Roumania who attacked the Bulgarian armies from the rear; and the treaties of Bukarest on 10th August, 1913, and of Constantinople on 29th September. If there is one thing that is widely known about the history of the two Balkan Wars, surely it is the story of the shameful way in which Bulgaria turned and attacked her ally Serbia by surprise because she (Bulgaria) believing herself to be the stronger, was determined to keep for herself alone all the fruits of the victory gained in common. The annals of Serbian history ring with this felony of Bulgaria, and how she paid the price of her treason. What a fine moral story it makes! The good little boys from whom the bad little boy tried to steal marbles, how splendid to see them triumphant and the bad little boy discomfited! The little that has so far been permitted to escape from the archives of revolutionary nations has thrown some light on the "Bulgarian felony" of 29th June, 1913. Here again we find the hidden hand of Serbia plotting and planning that Pan-Serb dream of aggrandisement which was and is charged with so much evil for Europe. Enough has been revealed to show that the responsibility for the Bulgar act does not lie with King Ferdinand. He bears the burden of enough faults without adding this one. The author of the second Balkan War was Pasitch, President of the Serb Council. I will give here my own personal contribution to the truth on this point of history. From May and June 1912, more than four months before the Greco-Serbo-Bulgar attack against the Turks, Pasitch sent instructions to his foreign agents ordering them to make it known that Belgrade intended to take to herself all the Macedonian regions.It was Pasitch who had the idea of withdrawing the Serb troops from the front at Tchataldja on the pretext of their extreme exhaustion, and of having them occupy the regions of Macedonia on which Serbia had cast her spell-notably Skoplje, Veles, Kumanovo, Kicevo, Chtip and Prilep. It was Pasitch who took the initiative to push into this same Macedonia bands of irregulars, or tchetnitzi, organised under the direction of Colonel Dimitrievitch-Apis by the Narodna Odbrana. When the hour arrived for the resistance of the Macedonian population by ruthless bloodshed. To Pasitch, finally, is due the honour of having set before the eyes of King Ferdinand the mirage of an imperial coronation at Saint-Sophia, and to have persuaded him that he could achieve this only if Constantinople were taken by the Bulgarian armies alone. And while the old fox of Nisch was thus duping Ferdinand, the Serbian Generalissimo Putnik was busy regrouping and distributing his divisions: meanwhile, the Greek general staff pushed their men along the coast of the Aegean Sea and the Macedonian regions bordering Albania; the cabinets of Belgrade and Athens busied themselves with plans for the division of the territories, promised Bukarest the territory of Dobroudja, and so insured the success of the coup which they were meditating. When the news came to Paris that the Bulgar troops had just attacked the Serbs I myself heard the triumphant exclamation of the Serbian Minister, Vesnitch: "At last we have got them!" Yes, they "got" them, as Bismarck, "got" France with the Ems dispatch. One wonders today what blindness possessed the Bulgars that they were not able to see the manouvres which were being prepared against them. Too late it was when their eyes were opened- they were literally surrounded by the Serbo-Greek armies. Yet the quality of their soldiers was so superior that they would have triumphed even then if the Roumanian armies had not stormed them in the rear, This is the true story behind the legend that the Bulgars attacked the Serbs without warning. They were obliged to do so! Their only hope of safety lay in taking the offensive before their adversaries. But unfortunately this planted the responsibility for the second Balkan War upon them and they carry the responsibility of it before the world. The same men who worked in liason with Pasitch and with Venizelos to promote the second Balkan War, were those who used their influence six years later upon the English and French plenipotentiaries to ensure that the quartering of Bulgaria might be completed to the profit of Greece and Serbia. Thus did the Machiavellism of Pasitch end in the triumph of Serbia over its old rival, Bulgaria. France should not forget, however, that her part in the second Balkan War succeeded in depriving the Allies, at the most critical hour of the World War, of the aid of Bulgaria, whose intervention on their side would probably have saved them two million lives.

Bulgaria, in fact, threw herself into the war only to regain her Macedonian territories. But she did it only after having offered her alliance to the Allies in exchange for the territories which the Serbo-Bulgar convention had formally promised to her a few years before. In 1915 Bulgar public opinion was pro-Ally, not pro-German, and its opposition to the decision of King Ferdinand and his ministers to join with Germany caused such mutinies in the army that the government of Sofia had to imprison en mass those politicians who were hostile to the intervention of their country against Russia and her Allies. The Bulgar troops in the Great War fought without enthusiasm, save when they were fighting against the Serbs or the Roumanians. They displayed an antipathy towards the Germans so violent that it was impossible to billet the soldiers of the two countries in the vicinity of each other. After the reoccupation of Macedonia and Dobroudja in 1916 (her war aims being attained) Bulgaria had but a single thought- to retire from the struggle. The peace imposed upon her by the treaty of Neuilly left her crushed: she had to pay a war indemnity proportionally much greater than that of Germany; she had more than 135,000 killed, as many invalids and mutilated; she had to give to Serbia the new Bulgarian lands of Strounitza, Bossilegrad, Tzaribrod and the Valley of Tinok; to Greece she had to surrender all Southern Thrace with Dedeagatch, Gumuldjina and Xznthi; and to Roumania, Dobroudja. Moreover she suffered the loss of Macedonia and of all access to the sea.The facts of the two Balkan wars and of the Bulgarian participation in the World War have been mentioned here only in so far as the knowledge of past facts seemed to me necessary to the proper understanding of the present situation, and notably of this peril of a Balkan War which mounts again on the horizon of Europe. The Bulgars are still indignant over the pitless way in which the Allies treated them in 1919. They are deeply sensible of the present designs of Belgrade on their national independence. Each day they are reminded of their position and their future fate by the systematic provocations and the unreasonable hostilities of their powerful neighbour. With all this, no Bulgar hides his bitterness. But I have not encountered a single one, be he minister, representative at the Sobrania, mechanic, farmer or shepherd, who did not bow before the accomplished fact. The Macedonian chiefs themselves (who have not ceased for fourteen years to struggle for liberation, not by war, but by pacific means) say simply:"We have lost the war, we must pay!" The Serb attitude, however, has remained uncompromising and hostile; the official Serb propaganda has never neglected an opportunity to prejudice, in every way possible, her neighbours in Bulgaria. The most striking example of this deliberate hatred that I know is the dispatch sent to the Agence Avala in 1928, from the frontier station of Tzaribrod, by Vasitch of the Yugoslav Legation at Sofia on the day before the Bulgarian 7 1/2% loan was floated in Paris. The aim of this loan was to support the stabilisation of the lev, and its success was of vital importance to Bulgaria. The message dispatched to the world from Tzaribrod announced that the Bulgars were massacring one another in the streets of Sofia, that the province was in revolution and that a state of siege had had to be proclaimed throughout the kingdom. All the newspapers of Europe and America reproduced it. The whole thing was a tissue of lies. The Bulgarians denied it strenuously, but it was too late, the mischief was done. The loan was saved simply because the Paris Bourse remembered that Bulgaria was the only Balkan borrower (including Yugoslavia) who returned what was lent her. Nothing reveals better the atmosphere which reigns on both sides of the frontier, as well as the true attitude of the two governments, than the welcome reserved by each of them for each other's subjects. In Bulgaria, the Yugoslav subjects come and go as freely as do the Italians, the Americans and the French. In Yugoslavia, the Bulgarian subjects, when they have succeeded in getting there at all, and God knows what difficulties the Yugoslav consular authorities create before giving them a visa, are subject to the most humiliating police supervision. Brutal expulsions await them at each step. Those who have obtained permission only to cross Yugoslavia are not permitted to leave the station when they change trains. On the morning of 6th July, 1932, I was standing on Ljubljana station, waiting for the express to Zagreb, when I saw a Bulgar being mercilessly beaten by the police for having asked to go to a pharmacy fifty yards from the station to buy some medicine for a child. Two policemen were hitting him right and left, after having torn off his collar and spat in his face. They released him only upon my intervention, which was all the more vigorous when I discovered that the sick child was a little French boy going to rejoin his parents in Bulgaria. Bulgaria has had neither minister nor charge d'affaires at Belgrade for three years. A consul represents her. Why? Because the Yugoslav government systematically refused to accept the candidates successively proposed to her by the government of Bulgaria. At Sofia, on the contrary, as everyone knows the Yugoslav Legation, and the consulate, directed by one of the cleverest and most intelligent diplomats of the Pan-Serb Government, M. Voukchevitch, is the rallying centre for all the adversaries of the present order in Bulgaria. The Yugoslav military attache at Sofia, Colonel Chektich, was convicted of having created an organisation of paid assassins for the purpose of suppressing the most conspicuous of the Macedonian chiefs. Few diplomats at Sofia consented to shake hands with him, and his departure was welcomed by all the diplomatic circle. "You are playing a dangerous game," I said in the summer of 1932 to M. Voukchevitch, whom I have known long enough under such circumstances that give me the right to speak frankly. "If a Macedonian were to shoot down one of your men here in the street, which you will agree would be his absolute right after all that your men have done, what complications would not ensue? In fact, I am compelled to believe, my dear Minister, that you are seeking for an incident?" Voukchevitch laughed. "If that incident takes place, it will be rigorously settled. I know that I am personally marked out by the ORM and the National Committee!" At the Union Club in Sofia I mentioned what I had heard in Belgrade about the aversion of the Bulgarian people for King Boris. The man to whom I mentioned this fact was not a Bulgarian, but the charge d'affaires of a nation that is quite friendly towards Belgrade. "Such a statement would be absurd," he replied, "were it not so dangerous and so calculated to make mischief. To think that a people as sensible, as basically pacific and estimable as the Serbs should permit themselves to be led by such men as are now at the head of affairs." The official Yugoslav propaganda against King Boris is, however, carried out with inconceivable stupidity. So stupid it is, in fact, that one would think the Yugoslavs were aiming to consolidate Bulgar sentiment around their sovereign. No long investigation is necessary to learn the real sentiments of the Bulgarian people towards King Boris. The Bulgars, the refugees, the Macedonians, the inhabitants of the foreign colony, all are unanimous. His popularity is complete. "He is extraordinary," said the French military attache to me after an interview with the king. "He is just in his views; he has a wonderful power of assimilation. We talked politics, literature, aviation. He knows all, he understands all, he is acquainted with all. He is an absolute charmer!" The Bulgarians love their king for his simplicity of appearance, his benevolance and his continual solicitude for the needs of the humble. Rare are the Bulgar hamlets that have not seen the sovereign's sports car stop in their midst, and the king get out and start to talk familiarly with the peasants. Thus he enters into their problems, encourages them with his counsel, and even comes discreetly to the aid of the very poor. From his father, Czar Ferdinand, he takes his precise and clear intelligence, the finesse of his mind, and the prudence and the sharpness of his political vision. And those who loved his mother find again in him the admirable qualities of heart which make Bulgaria venerate her memory. In this country, where to believe the news stories, the most nsignificant party chief or representative does not dare leave his home unless he be surrounded with armed guards; where a bullet awaits those who have forfeited the esteem of the ORIM or the Macedonian National Committee, King Boris comes and goes alone in his car with Queen Jeanne or with his chauffeur. It will be said by the enemies of Bulgaria that this is not true, and that King Boris has been attacked twice- in both cases with nearly fatal results. The first attack half-destroyed the Sveta Nedelia Church of Sofia on 16th April, 1925, where the king was to attend the funeral of one of his generals and was prevented from coming only by an unforseen chance. The second was an ambush which had been prepared for him in a deserted part of the route from Orhania to Sofia. Here again the sovereign escaped only by a miracle. For a long time these two attacks were attributed to militant communists. As a result, the popular reaction against the Bolshevist Party was such that, in spite of the intensity of the economic crisis so favourable to its propaganda, it has lost all influence on the political life of Bulgaria. "In Bulgaria," said the Red International Syndical in December 1931, "the position of the Red syndicates is very weak. It has only 1,136 adherents out of 16,000 in the textile industry, and 1,230 adherents in the tobacco industry out of 30,000 workers." It is certain that the Bolshevists participated in the attack of 16th April, 1925, but they acted only as individuals. The coup itself had been prepared by non-communist agents. As for the ambush of Orhania, that is another story. It was executed by Bulgars in the pay of foreigners."The men who surround King Boris; all the high political and administrative personnel, military and official, are imbeciles or dishonest men," said Dr. Radovanovitch to me at Belgrade. That there are not lions among them is clear from the results. The deplorable system which at each general election sweeps away the administrative personnel and replaces them by the friends and puppets of the victorious party does not succeed in pushing valuable men to the first rank at Sofia. But the Bulgarian ministers do not have a monopoly on the simpletons. And if it is true (as M. Henri Prost wrote) that the Bulgar officials, miserably paid and uncertain of their future, "display proof of their heroism by refusing the bribes which are offered to them," others, in neighboring countries, do not have this virtue. No Frenchman or Englishman who has done business with a Yugoslav, a Roumanian, or a Greek administration will contradict me when I affirm that backsheesh (which is called at Belgrade, "reimbursement of expenses"; at Athens, "for the unforseen"; and at Bukarest, "Cigarettes for Madame") has to be allowed for in the estimate of foreign corporations when they quote these nations for public contracts. Ask a certain great French corporation what it had to distribute to enable it to obtain the concession for the new bridge over the Sava! All the condemnation which the Pan-Serbs heap upon Bulgaria is an attempt to justify their attitude of hostility towards her. They pretend that Bulgaria is devoured with a desire for revenge, and they make much of her alleged secret rearmament. The Bulgars, they say, no moe accept their defeat than do the Hungarians ofr the Germans. The Yugoslavs also allege that the Bulgars are the secret allies of Fascist Italy, and allege that they have recieved from Rome enough rifles, munitions, cannons, machine-guns and equipment generally to arm more than 300,000 men." "We are not only ones to know it," says Belgrade. "The French Intelligence Service also possesses proof of it." The French War Ministry has made a study of the military situation of Bulgaria, with a view to verifying the sensational reports of the Yugoslavs. But I have reasons to doubt that they have confirmed all the information furnished by Belgrade. The treaty of Neuilly allowed Bulgaria an army of 33,000 men, made up of 20,000 soldiers, 10,000 gendarmes, foresters and customs guards, and 3,000 frontier guards. These men have to be enlisted volunteers- the officers for twenty years, the men for twelve. Bulgaria is not allowed to possess military aeroplanes, arsenals, arms or amunition factories, or more than a few dozen machine-guns and pieces of light artillery. It may be that its effective force and its armament exceed these figures by a small margin. The army may comprise about 40,000 men (of whom 4,000 are frontier guards) instead of 33,000, and may possess a number of cannon and machine-guns nearly double that authorized by the Peace Treaty. But what chance would an army like this have against Yugoslavia? Of the magnificent Bulgarian military organization of former times, no more than the shadow of a shadow survives. Twenty years ago the Bulgarian armies crushed the Turks and opposed the united Serbs and Greeks. Today she could not even resist a Greek attack. As for this secret convention with Italy, by means of which Bulgaria is alleged to have promised help to Italy in the event of an Italo-Yugoslav conflict, this has become a nightmare to the Pan-Serbs since the marriage of King Boris with Princess Jeanne of Savoy."If the Bulgars were not backed by the Macaronis," Dr. Marianovitch said to me, "they would be less insolent, or we should have given them a kick in the behind long ago. Sofia is in the pay of fascism; the gold of Mussolini greases the palm of her ministers and her henerals, just as it feeds the banditry of Mihailoff and the propaganda of the National Committee. We have proof that hundreds of Italian macjine-guns, millions of cartriges and grenades, and tons of explosives have entered Bulgaria in the past two years, hidden in oil barrels or boxes labelled Preserves or Farm Tractors. He was annoyed with me when I expressed surprise that Italy and Bulgaria, being able to communicate freely by sea, should be reduced to such subterfuge. If machine-guns and munitions from the Italians do enter Bulgaria, it is not necessary to hide them in grease casks or clothing bales. That Italy, believing in the inevitability of an armed conflict with the Yugoslavs, plays the Bulgar card against them (as she plays the Hungarian card in Central Europe) it would be an insult to her political sense to doubt. That she makes an effort to furnish them with the means of action which they lack, appears likely, since it is undeniable that any aggression against Sofia would see Rome rise up against the aggressor. But who is really at bottom to blame for this state of affirs? Let us not forget that for half-a-century now Bulgaria has been baulked by Belgrade upon every occasion that she has attempted to attain a national unity. Nor must we, when we seek to understand the nature of the qaurrel which separates the two neighbors, forget that Bulgaria, in spite of the ambush of June 1913, and in spite of the injustices of 1918, has vainly sought to live on friendly terms with her powerful neighbor. She has no more merited the implacable hostility and the incessant provocations of the Government of Belgrade than had France merited the hatred of victorious Germany from 1870 to 1914. Yugoslavia could easily have made herself a friend of Bulgaria. If this Italo-Bulgar alliance really does exist, one must agree that everything possible has been done by the Serbs to throw Bulgaria into the arms of the Italians. And, after all, what has Yugoslavia to fear from Bulgaria? She has neither howitzers nor heavy artillery. The few training-planes which she might transform into war-planes have neither speed nor power and would be annihilated at once. Her only aerodrome is near the frontier at Sofia, which serves at present as a base for French, German and Polish commercial lines to the Levant. She has no arsenals; no small-arms factories, no munition works or chemical plants for making asphyxiating gas. Her roads and railways are in an unimaginable state of ruin; her rolling-stock non-existent. Moreover, the Bulgarian people, whom a universal suffrage and a democratic spirit render masters of their destinies, wish to hear no more about war at any price, even though it be for Macedonia, which is the flesh of their flesh and the cradle of their race for which they have already fought three times. The Bulgars have no means to make war, nor dot they wish to do so. They will go to war only if the Pan-Serb imperialists, ignoring the fear of Italian intervention, and France's counsel of moderation, decide to destroy the Macedonian revolutionary organisations, and to occupy all or a part of Bulgaria. "If they did that, Gospodine," said the old priest to me as we stood before the tomb of the national poet, Ivan Vasov, among the geraniums and cedars of the garden of the Sveta Sofia, "if they did that, the bones of our dead sons would rise up and rout them." 

The Macedonian Question

In the heart of the Balkan peninsula, stretching from Lake Orchrida, which washes the Albanian frontiers, to Drima on the Aegean Sea; from Salonika to Mount Shar north of Skoplje, lies Macedonia, a beautiful country nearly three times as large as Belgium and inhabited by two and a half million people who possess the same language, the same culture, and with few exceptions, the same religion. Of this people, seventy per cent, are pure Bulgars.Behind this country lie twenty centuries of tumultious and tragic history, Rome, the Barbarians, the Crusades, Venice, the Ottoman, Alexander and the Empire of the Old World. On of the most powerful efforts for liberty of the Turks; always crushed, always regenerated, up to the victory of the Balkan Allies in 1912. A first dsitribution of Macedonian lands between Belgrade and Athens after the first Bulgar defeat in 1913. A second in 1918 after the World War and the second Bulgar defeat.Today, a heavier servitude than the old one rests upon Macedonia, because the new master are stronger than the Turks, and more violent, and Europe, this time, supports and approves them. Five to six hundred thousand Macedonians (an entire people) have sought refuge in Bulgaria since the annexation of their country by Greece and Serbia.Those who were able to leave have left, since the peace of July 1913, and since the Armistice of October 1918, rather than suffer foreign domination. All the intellectuals, all the teachers, all those whom their antecedents or their relations rendered undesirable or suspect, have been expelled since the installation of the conquerors. Thousands more, before the frontiers closed, fled and abandoned all their property, often leaving behind them all or a part of their family.Of the same blood, the same language, the same traditions as the Bulgars, they have been received by them as brothers.Finally, the Greek authorities expelled thousands of Macedonian families en bloc after the disaster of Smyrna, in order to install the Hellenic population of Asia Minor on their lands and in their homes, which they had confiscated without indemnity. The outcasts of Macedonia were shepherded by the Bulgarian Government, with the aid of the League of Nations, towards Bourgas, on the Black Sea and towards Dobroudja.There they transformed what was before only broken stones and swamps into a flourishing country. Nothing distinguishes these Bulgars of Macedonia from the Bulgars of Bulgaria in the midst of whom they live. They are neighbours in the same villages, a number of them have won high social positions, some have become ministers, even Presidents of the Bulgarian Council.Yet all have remained Macedonian. They look incessantly towards their beloved Fatherland, towards the obscure hamlets, the little white-and-rose cities of the frontier. There they were born and there most of them lived for so long that, if the barriers were removed tomorrow, every one of them would return to his native land."But your fields, the lands which the Government of Sofia have given to you and which your children and you have worked for fifteen years," I asked a Macedonian labourer near Belica, "would you abandon them?""My lands?" he replied. "They are over yonder in Macedonia. They are waiting for me. I hope to live long enough to return and sit on the stone bench which my father had placed under the apricot-trees before the door. He, also, is waiting for me."Five hundred thousand Macedonians in Bulgaria, where they are at home, where they have married, where they have nothing to fear from anyone, still think and speak as this old peasant of Belica.Fifteen hundred thousand Macedonians, in the annexed land under Greek or Serbian domination, live and have their children in the hope of this return, and in the expectation of it.What a tremendous pressure is here! What a colossal weight of desire waiting only for the right moment to take shape in action.Soon after the annexation, attempts were made to "Hellenise" or "Serbianise" the Macedonians who remained in their country, and when they attempted their first gestures of revolt, they had the breath knocked out of them by the crushing violence of their new masters. The gendarmes, the prison, the certainty that they had no chance of help from anyone, has taught them in the past fifteen years to walk straight along the road indicated to them. They have become docile, respectful, obedient. They have learned to smile through their tears.I have seen them, and the memory of the decay into which these free men have fallen makes my blood boil still.The Macedonians in Bulgaria are waiting also. But they are free, and for fifteen years they have pursued an obstinate dream that they will liberate their lost brothers. All the resources they have are consecrated to this task. There is not one among them, wherever the hazard of exile has placed him, who does not belong to a society, an association, a group of some sort destined to keep up among its members, and especially among the youth, the sentiment of national solidarity and the cult of a native land momentarily lost.These organisations have their form in associations of Macedonian women;student associations; organisations for the assistance of old people, orphans, sick; associations for propaganda abroad; all form a network that lets nothing pass between its meshes.Not a Macedonian in Bulgaria! Not a Macedonian in foreign countries! That is the national slogan. And the apex of this organization is a handful of men working in broad daylight with legal methods and means; the Macedonian National Committee, which commands its energies, centralises its resources, and directs its activities.In the shadow, beside the National Committee, but absolutely distinct from it, absolutely foreign to its work and actions, is another group of men, directed by other chiefsm the ORIM. We shall meet with it again.The Macedonian question has existed for half a century. The desire for Macedinian liberty has become a burning obsession. This determination for liberty cost the Turks their possessions in Europe. Initial cause of the two Balkan wars, it was in order to liberate Macedonia that Bulgaria prepared the coalition in 1912, and it was in order to seize her fro the victtorious Bulgars that the Serbs and the Greeks, in turn, joined against her in 1913. Macedonia was indirectly, but certainly, at the origin of the World War. A hot spot, Indeed!Since the peace of 1918 the question of Macedonia has become like a worm in the brain of Yugoslavia. To pretend to reduce the Macedonian question, as the propagandists of Belgrade try, to the proportion of an absurd struggle between a great modern state and a few handfuls of bandits, is an absurdity.A latent insurrection which has lasted fifteen years and which will surely excite a new European conflagration unless things change drastically, merits more than two or three thousand lines of trite nonsense in certain recent news stories.Whence comes the danger?From the Macedonians themselves? From legal organisations such as the National Committee, or extra-legal as the ORIM?Not at all!The peril comes from the fact that the Serbs have annexed, thanks to France's support, territories and populations which they have declared Serb when they were, and intended to remain, Bulgarian. They have been able to subject them, but they have not been able to assimilate them, and Macedonia, always ready for the insurrection, weighs upon Serbian politics like a ball and chain.In order to free themselves from this impediment, the Pan-Serb directors of Belgrade have decided to use the activity of the Macedonian nationalist organisations as an excuse for attacking Bulgaria. The Pan-Serbs have calculated in this way that they would kill two birds with one stone, and that they would compel the Macedonians to renounce all hope of liberation by destroying their support in Bulgaria. By destroying Bulgarian independence, also, they would reach Salonika and the Aegean.Pan-Serbism has been working with all its force for several years to carry out this design. The violent campaign conducted by the Pan-Serb Press Bureau in France within the last few years, by means of books and newspapers, and by faked documents has had no other object than to prepare French opinion for a Bulgaro-Yugoslav conflict.History has shown them the need for this. In June 1914, assured of the support of Russia (whose Pan-Slav party, directed by Sazonov, pushed them to action), the Pan-Serbs risked their all. French public opinion accepted the denials of the Serb Government that it had organised the double assassination at Sarajevo. It was because of the Serbs, and in order to defend their rights, that France went to war.Today, since the publication of the debates which ended in the condemnation of the assassins of the Austrian Archduke, it is no longer possible to deny that these men acted at the formal instigation of certain Serbian officials. The Provision of money, arms, forged passports, and guides for crossing the frontier as far as Sarajevo in order to ascertain the most favorable spot for the attack, the act of Gavrilo Princip and the Tchabrinovitch, has all been shown to be the work of men depending directly on the Government of Belgrade.France must not be duped by another Sarajevo staged to save the Yugoslav dictatorship.


During my visit to Bulgaria I took the opportunity of visiting Dr. Stanicheff, the President of the Macedonian National Committee.I have rarely encountered a more engaging personality than this "revolutionary." Little over fifty years of age, tall, with steel-grey hair, clear of eye, a long, fine face lengthened still more by a pointed beard, he has incarnated the determined strength of his people. I saw him last on a fine morning of August 1932, at the Committee, in Alexandra the First Street in Sofia, a few steps from the National Bank.The great Macedonian organisation has chosen for its headquarters an old bourgeois house with a ramshackle facade occupied on the ground floor by a coiffeur de dames. It is a peaceful street where lovers, because of the near-by garden, have their rendezvous. Nearly opposite, at the corner of the street leading towards the Central Post Office and the Opera, is the most important pavement shoe-shine rank in Sofia. I have often thought that they were the men whom a young colleague of mine must have taken for the sentinels who, he alleged, were posted around the National Committee. From a distance, the shinning brushes which they carry at the belt might, indeed, give the illusion of hand-grenades or Browning pistols.This place has been described as a mysterious and terrible fortress, with cellars encumbered with bombs and infernal machines, rooms barricaded and transformed into laboratories, manned by a garrison armed to the teeth, and always on the watch. This description, written in between two glasses of slivovitza on a cafe table and published last year in great Parisian journal, made thousands of honest men shudder!Yet in reality, what does one find: not even a doorman at the street door; no one on the stairs; not the shadow of a doorman in the lobby at the end of which, in a little side room, sits a simple smiling old man, scribbling addresses and keeping ledgers. Nothing which might prevent the first comer, should it suit his fancy, from entering the office of the president and shooting him down like a rabbit.Dr. Stanicheff greeted me cordially and asked my business. My answer was a follows: "I have come to the Balkans to investigate by myself, in my own manner, where and how I please. I do not want to be a machine for registering the voices of those whose opinions I like. I want to be a photographer who chooses his viewpoint and his personages for himself. I want to operate the camera and develop the negatives myself. I have NO other mission than to 'photograph' things and people at the right angle and under a good light, and to present them to the public without retouching."My host with a sign of his head showed his appreciation of my attitude."The Macedonian question," I asked. "Will you explain to me as if I knew nothing about it. I have read all the books that your friends have written about it. All the replies from Belgrade and Athens, also. If I have made an opinion, I want to forget. Give me yours."I still hear the laughter of Dr. Stanicheff:"My opinion?" he said. "It is the opinion of a man with a Serbian price on his head? But you know it in advance! It is very simple. There is no Macedonian problem!"I started. Everyone from one end to the other of the Balkans has given me the same answer! "There is no Macedonian question" was just what Dr. Radovanovitch said to me in Belgrade not eight days before.Dr. Stanicheff continued. "The word 'problem' stands for a very doubtful, controversial thing. Whereas the Macedonian question is clearness itself. To men of good faith it possesses the accuracy of a geometrical or algebraic theorem."The vast majority of Macedonians are Bulgars, at least in the proportion of four to one. They are Bulgars by origin, by custom, and by language. And all the geographers, all the philologists, be they German, Russian, English, French or Swiss, are all of the same opinion. Not fifty years ago all the Serb specialists said so too."The celebrated orientalist and historian, Louis Leger, professor at the College of France, whom the savants of the entire world recognised as their master in all Slav questions, wrote in 1917 in Le Panslavisme et l'Interet francais: 'Macedonia is almost entirely peopled with Bulgars in spite of the affirmations to the contrary of the Serbs and the Greeks whose pretensions cannot prevail against the precise declarations of independent ethnologists, such as Lejean, Kiepert, Rittich, Grigorovitch, Helferding and MacKenzie. It was only when Serbia lost Bosnia and Herzegovina by the treaty of Berlin that certain statesmen had the idea of seeking a compensation on the Macedonian side and claiming the existence of Serbs in this country, which is solely peopled with Bulgars.""M. Ludovic Naudeau, former war correspondent of the Journal in the Balkans, declared on 7th February, 1927, to the Comite National d'etudes sociales et politiques de Paris: 'Before the War, when one traveled about Macedonia, one encountered Bulgars, and not Serbs. Now Macedonia today has been baptised Serb.'"It is not necessary to be a great savant in order to substantiate our claims. We do not need to rummage in archives, to compare phonetics and to follow the migrations of races across the ages. It suffices to see, one beside the other, a Bulgar from Bulgaria and a Macedonian from Geuvgueli, from Veles or from Skoplje. Try it yourself.""The Serbs say the Macedonians are Serbs, Serbs torn from Serbia by the Ottoman conquest, five centuries ago," I told him."The Serbs said that to you, did they? Naturally! The unfortunate part of it is that they waited to make this magnificent discovery until they had need of pretext to justify their political designs on Macedonia, and that up to then there was not a single Serb to deny the exclusively Bulgarian character of Macedonia."Today, thanks to your Frenchmen who won the War for them, the Serbs have achieved their ends. They are installed in Macedonia. And they have made haste to declare solemnly, peremptorily, to the world that all the population of Macedonia are purely and undisputably Serb. As for the five hundred thousand Macedonians refuged in Bulgaria since 1913, the Serbian statistics soon reduced them to a few tens of thousands of Bulgar immigrants returned to their country of origin."Why this lie, which is so clumsy that it has become an insult even to those who use it? Thousands of Europeans of all nationalities who have come to Bulgaria in the past fifteen years have been able to verify with their own eyes the presence of Macedonian refugees and to give an account of their numbers."Why the Serbs find themselves bound to deny the evidence, you know as well as I. They have done it to avoid the application in Macedonia of the stipulations of the treaty of Saint-Germain which organised the protection of ethnic minorities in the annexed territories. In order to accomplish this it was necesary to make the Great Powers admit that the Macedonians were not Bulgars (to whom the special statutes of the treaty were applicable) but Serbs subject to all the laws of Serbia. It was also necessary, consequently, to deny the existence of the immense Macedonian emigration into Bulgaria."The move has succeeded perfectly, thanks to the support lent by certain of your statesmen to the men of Belgrade. Not one of the Macedonian requests for frontier revision has ever been examined by the League of nations. When they arrive at Geneva Belgrade says : 'No!' France supports her, all the friends of France say 'Amen!' and the trick is done.
"For the League of Nations there are no Macedonians; hence there can be no Macedonian question! And today fifty thousand Serb soldiers, gendarmes and irregulars, fourteen years after the so-called return of Macedonia to her pretended country, occupy our country and impose upon her a regime which you will be able to judge when you have seen it. "They told you at Belgrade that the violences and the abuses which we denounce exist only in our imagination and that Serbian Macedonia lies satisfied and happy under the administration of Belgrade? Naturally! Well, since you count on leaving shortly for Macedonia you will be able to judge for yourself- at least to the extent which they will permit you to do so. Over there you will see who lies, we or Belgrade. Don't try to be discreet with me. For us you will never be too outspoken. In the battle which we are waging alone, against all, for the liberty and the life of our people, there is one weapon which we never employ: the lie. "When you come back from over there, on the condition, however, that you have been able to see behind the curtain, you will think as I do! There you will see a horror that exceeds all imagination. You will find a whole people crushed without pity, tortured cruelly, assassinated by the most abominable means.""Let us forget about that, my dear Doctor," I interrupted him. "The Serbs have replied to all of the accusations made against them by your friends by categorically denying them. You pretend that they lie. They declare that it is you and your firends who lie. Well, I shall see for myself! Let us come back for a little while ago. How do you expect Belgrade, after fourteen years of uninterrupted Serb occupation, to consent, with a good will and without being constrained by force, to give up Macedonia? The independence of Macedonia? The hypothesis of the Dantzig corridor to Germany.""I know it!" agreed Dr. Stanicheff. "Today it is impossible. Too many interests are leagued against right, our right. To give satisfaction to Macedonia would be to open the door to a general revision of all the peace treaties. Unless France, without whom they cannot live, compels them to do so, they will never consent. So we must learn to wait. We know that a day will come when our legitimate aspirations will be satisfied. We shall be patient. We have waited for such a long time that we can wait still longer."But what do we demand today? Only that the Government of Belgrade gives to our misarable annexed compatriots, loyally and without reservations, all the rights and all the liberties which they agreed to give them by the treaty of Saint-Germain. That, in other words, it stops treating them like outlaws. Nothing more!"If Belgrade did that, loyally and without reservations, if property, honour, and individual liberty were guaranteed in Macedonia as they are in all civilized countries, all conflict between Yugoslavia and us would cease. Our refugees would return to their old homesteads. They would agree to be Yugoslav subjects- which does not mean Serbs!" "And Belgrade knows all this very well. They know we are ready to admit Macedonia as a sister nation with Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia, all going to form a Yugoslav Federation in which all its members would have equal rights- with a common army, common diplomacy, public finance and Parliament. This Federation, these United States of the Balkans, would form that Union of all the Southern Slavs of which the Serbs dream." "And the ORIM, my dear Doctor?" I asked. "What are you going to do with the ORIM in all these fine projects?""What programme and what intentions do you attribute to the ORIM?" he asked in reply. "The men who direct the ORIM think as do those who direct the National Committee. Many times they have publically declared that they were ready to lay down their arms if Belgrade would cease to maltreat the annexed Macedonians and give them the legal guarantees and the liberties to which they have a right. The ORIM added, however, that until then they would continue the struggle."Unfortunately, I admit, we are still a long way from this solution of justice and good sense! The Serb administration is nowhere near abandoning the methods of violence which have raised all the Macedonians up against her. She will not modify her methods. She will even aggravate them and, besides, look what is happening in Croatia." "Doctor," I said, "confess that your organisation does all it can to exasperate the Serbs. Three months ago at Nisch two bombs killed or crippled twenty people. A month ago at Chtip a gendarmerie was burned; not fifteen days ago the train I was on was dynamited in the station at Geuvgueli."Dr. Stanicheff looked straight into my eyes."If you knew me better," he said, "you would know how horrible such violence is to me. But there are cases where violence is just, where violence becomes a sacred duty. They reproach our revolutionary organisations for reprisals against the Serb administrators and police, their terrorist attacks in annexed Macedonia, but they say nothing of their deeds which have inspired our attacks."Tell me how your public opinion would have received the following facts if they had taken place in Alsace-Lorraine during the German occupation? I cite them to you among a thousand others- and I could cite worse.... "At Souchitza, which is a hamlet between Skoplje and Veles, four women, Raina Nalzev, Miyana Paneva, Victoria Andreeva and Vassa Mitreva, who refused to reveal where their husbands had fled, were whipped until they bled by Serb gendarmes who then poured petrol on their armpits and loins and set them on fire."At the village of Debrevo, a young girl of sixteen, Kostadine Miladin Tatcheva, was declared guilty of having hummed a Bulgarian song. She was stripped naked, strapped to a bench, given sixty blows of a club on her back, and then was violated by the chief of the detachment and his six men. "At Katchanik, the peasant Eftine Athanassof, suspected of having sheltered agents of the ORIM, was clubbed to death with rifle-stocks after having been crucified by the irregulars of the Serb White Hand. His neighbor in agony, Manassi Antoff, had thorns buried under the nails of his hands and feet by his executioners."At Yastermnik, by the order in the presence of the Chief of the State Police, Jika Lazitch (the man who is today Minister of the Interior of Yugoslavia) three peasants, Kostadin Demianoff, Ivan Angeloff and Georgui Stoicheff, and three peasant women Llinka Ivantcheva, Mita Dimitrieva and Mirsa Valinove, all of whom were denounced for having given refuge to revolutionists, were whipped to death before all the village. The women were first outraged in a dreadful fashion. *

* I have since verified these things for myself.
I saw the scars of the two victims at Souchitza, and heard with my own
ears from the mouths of three witnesses (whose names and addresses I had
obtained from a responsible source) the story of this abominable thing.
The truth of the atrocities of Dobrevo and Yastremnik has been certified
to me by a diplomatic representative of France. T have held in my own
hands the reports of our two agents who related them. One of these
reports ends with the following words: Such facts, which would stir
public opinion to horror if they were known, justify, unfortunately, all
the reports of the Macedonian revolutionists and are absolutely without
excuse. They maintain sentiments of hatred and a desire for revenge in
the population which only await the occasion to manifest themselves.
"A country which employs a Lazitch," said the French diplomat whose
testimony I have mentioned, "dishonours herself. This minister is a man
of blood...I have seen him at work!"

I, too. I was at Belgrade, in July 1932, dinning at the Excelsior
Restaurant behind the royal palace, with my old friend Dragomir
Stefanovitch, former charge d'affaires of Serbia at Paris during the War.
Lazitch came to sit down next to us. Stefanovitch who knew him introduced
us. I noticed his intelligent, hard eyes and brutal jaws. His nails were
black, but he talked well.

He had just returned from Macedonia where he had been organising the
State Police. I noticed one thing particularly, all the while he was
animatedly telling us risque stories about women, he did not stop picking
little flies from the table cloth which he would hold for a moment
struggling between his fingers. Then, without stopping his flow of talk,
gently, one by one, he tore off their wings, and with the end of his
cigarette, tapping lightly, unhurriedly, he forced them to crawl by
burning their abdomens.

"With the Macedonian women also," he said to us, "in order to render them
amorous, when they are insensible, we place hot irons on a good spot."

"These abominations," went on Dr. Stanicheff, "against which nothing protects our unfortunate compatriots, make it impossible to find a peaceful solution in Macedonia."Since the Serbs have occupied her, Macedonia has become a hell. Hundreds of homes and farms, entire villages, under the pretext of punishing their inhabitants because of their alleged sympathies for revolutionary organisations, have been burned by gendarmes or Serb irregulars. All our cemeteries have been profaned, all the monuments to our dead have been destroyed, all the riches of our churches, of our libraries, of our monasteries have been stolen. Innumerable women and young girls have been sullied; countless Macedonians have been tortured, beaten, imprisoned and put to death without trial. Our priests have been insulted, and our teachers too: our children have no longer the right to bear their names unless it has a Serb termination. An entire people has been deprived of the right to think, to speak or to pray, other than as their masters wish. They can no longer come and go, even from village to village, without permission; they can no longer go out in the evening after certain hours, they are crushed by taxes have no justice, have no recourse against the pleasure or the crimes of administrators and police to whom they are subjected."That is the Macedonian question, sir. The agony of a martyred people who yet do not wish to die."Imagine a man who has succeeded in finding a refuge in Bulgaria after weeks of hiding himself in the mountains, and who learns that his wife has served as a plaything, before all the terrified neighbours, for the police come to search her home. Imagine the feelings of the father whose daughter has been treated as a prostitute. Imagine the feelings of a brother whose dishonoured sister has drowned herself in despair. Do you dare call their vengeance assassination?"The Carnegie Commission, which included besides the Belgian Minister Vandervelde, two Frenchmen, M. d'Estournelles de Constant and M. Justin Godart, published a report on the Macedonian atrocities that is more overwhelming than any of our accusations."I defy you, sir, to find a single copy of their report. Belgrade has somehow succeeded in making them vanish."


We talked until the office closed. I left Dr. Stanicheff at the corner of the avenue Marie Louise. My eyes followed him as he made off among the crowd jostling each other on the burning sidewalk. He walked with head held high and with a rapid step, as unmindful of the sweltering sun as of the assassins who were perhaps waiting for him at his door, as they waited for his friend Dimitri Mihailoff in June 1932; and as they waited for Simeon Evtimoff - one of the most noble and most upright young Europeans. The Macedonian question is not solved by a long, long chalk.

Behind the barbed wiresI was taken from Sofia to see for myself the Bulgaro-Yugoslav frontier, and the barbed wire which Dr. Radovanovitch had dismissed so contemptuously. A great yellow motor-car hummed up to the hotel door before dawn, and in it two men were waiting for me. In a few seconds we were going full speed across sleeping Sofia, and heading towards Yugoslavia.No sooner had we passed the suburbs where the first trams were just starting to leave their depots, than we seemed to reach the mountains. The road thereupon became mostly a simple dirt track poised upon the edge of precipices, at the bottom of which bright gleaming threads of water could be seen winding among splendid forests and heaps of fallen rock. Rudimentary wooden foot-bridges, for the most part without railings, carried us high over dry gorges which the torrents had cut. On our left, thick forests of beech and oak scaled the rocky inclines. On the right, not a tree : they had been felled by the Turks who found that the only way they could combat the comitadjis of the ORIM was to fell the scores of thousands of acres of forests, where their adversaries concealed themselves. The silence was absolute. An unexpected sight suddenly made me seize my field-glasses. Five or six hundred yards to the left a slender black silhouette stood out against the flaming sky; a helmeted soldier with a tapering bayonet. My companion pointed his arm towards the apparition. " Serb sentinel ! " he said laconically. It was then that I saw in the dry grass ahead of us a narrow ditch, which constitutes the line of the Bulgaro-Yugoslav frontier. Behind the ditch (which is but two feet in width and about eighteen inches in depth) on the Yugoslav side are the barbed wires. Imagine a wall of steel wire six feet in height and seven feet thick. Imagine a hedge of wire whose twigs are so crossed and intercrossed, so stretched by iron stakes which maintain them, so interspersed and entangled from the ground to the top that even a little dog could not get through. That is the Yugoslav frontier. Every eight feet in the centre of the wall are round holes, a yard in diameter, two in depth, half hidden by dry bushes. In the centre of each hole is the sharp point of an iron stake. Disaster to him who seeks to slip under the wires ! Six weeks before my visit, near Guechevo(Gecevo), a woman, tired of being beaten and violated, tried to get through, and spent two agonised days impaled on one of these points.Behind the barbed wires are six, seven or eight parallel rows of pits, and reinforcing the barbed wire is a wall of cheval de frise, a yard in height, and a yard and a half in thickness. Every two hundred yards there are thatched shelters, each about the size of a large dining-room table. They are arranged to slope downwards towards the frontier in such a way as to enable men to crawl under from the Yugoslav side and to fire towards the Bulgarian side from two loop- holes provided at ground-level. Under each shelter is a rough dugout. Each evening, from twilight, a sentry mounts guard there. Between these watch-posts, among the brush and thistles, zigzags a narrow trail. All night long a police dog prowls there, and he is trained to warn the guard of any living being approaching the barbed wire from either side of the frontier. There is one of these dogs for each three watch- posts. Four machine-guns are mounted at each fort : three are turned towards the Bulgar plain, and the fourth towards the annexed villages-a fact which puzzled me in view of the Yugoslav claim that their populations are all won over to Yugoslavia. All along the mountains on the crest of which the frontier runs, the line of barbed wire and little forts runs in an unbroken line. Over hill and dale, and through the villages it goes. At Petritch, at Strezimirovci, at Izvor, at Guechvo, I saw houses where the yard was in Serbia, and the kitchen in Bulgaria. Watermelons and cucumbers in these gardens have different nationalities. To plant vegetables, or to sow grain, or to harvest, the peasant who has remained Bulgar while his fields have become Yugoslav, must get a permit from the authorities of the neighbouring city. I saw cemeteries cut in two by the frontier. Better still, even graves where the head of the dead was in the centre of the barbed wire and his feet on the outside. I saw Bulgar mothers, whose children were in Yugoslavia, come to weep a few yards from the tombs of their dearly beloved which they were forbidden to approach. What a grand thing, peace, when the conquerors understand it thus ! There is a bullet for anyone coming from the Yugoslav side to the barbed wire, even though it be only some old woman or little child who has come to try to see from afar their parents, children, or husband. On 11th August, 1931, somewhere between Besica and Nasalopsi, was to be seen the corpse of a little girl of twelve years of age, who had remained in annexed Macedonia after her parents had fled to Bulgaria. The pathetic little corpse lay four days on a mound, a hundred yards from the barbed wire, under a temperature of over a hundred in the shade. She had been killed by a machine-gun while she was throwing kisses to her mother standing on a neighbouring eminence on Bulgarian territory. "We are in a virtual state of war with Bulgaria " the chief of the Press Bureau said to me at Belgrade. Indeed ! With its man-traps, its night-watch posts, its reinforced blockhouses in which machine-guns point their leather-hooded mouths towards distant horizons, the wall of barbed wire stretches over two hundred miles. It is being reinforced, perfected, extended every day, until soon it will extend in a single block from the Danube to Albania. Under impenetrable thorn hedges are hidden fields of ditches with sharp pointed stakes. France has furnished them. They come from the front of Champagne, of Verdun, of Artois, where they protected the heroes of the Great War. To-day they imprison a people ! At two or three places, near a blockhouse, a narrow passage has been made through the barbed wires. These are closed by means of movable bars, and may be opened for the cars of foreign tourists. " I had chosen a main road to go from Yugoslavia to Bulgaria," Harry Franck, the American explorer wrote in the Indianopolis Star, on 7th March, 1932, "but on reaching the frontier I found a network of barbed wire 10 feet in height, all along the frontier. After having waited two days for permission to pass, I had to drive four days more over impracticable roads in order to find the only opening." " The work of giants ! " you will say of this hermetic enclosure ; this formidable fortification of an entire frontier. No ! The work of convicts ! The barbed wires have been stretched, the man- traps and the sentinel posts dug, and the block- houses constructed, by the Macedonian population requisitioned en masse for this work in all the villages, hamlets and farms neighbouring the frontier. One fine morning, a Sunday preferably, when all the inhabitants are assembled for church, the gendarmes arrive, reinforced by bands of irregulars, and shout : " Let's get going ! Ouste ! En route ! " For those who protest or resist, there are twenty- five cudgel blows on the buttocks, or a sound beating with rifle stocks. "If I had as many ten-dinar notes as I have horse-whipped these louts," said the inspector of police, Djoganetitch, to me last year at Veles, " I wouldn't have to wait for my pension ! " Yet Inspector Michel Djagonetitch, smiling, affable, inexhaustibly complacent, has nothing of the brute in him-so long as he is kept away from the Macedonians. I saw an old man near a frontier blockhouse in the region of Petritch whose hands were nothing but sores as a result of having stretched barbed wires. A few kilometres from Tzaribrod, I saw Serb gendarmes, jokingly throw some young Bulgar peasants head first into the midst of a network of barbed wire. The victims, their faces lacerated, rose without a word. Working on the mantraps near Nasaloksi, I saw a young girl thrown on the ground, her skirts tucked up to the waist, and given fifteen blows of a horsewhip because she didn't work fast enough. Blood streaming down her thighs, she started again with her digging. I saw and I heard many other things. I did not see them in the company of Macedonians or Bulgars, nor did I hear them from others. I saw them alone and with my own eyes. In fact, the Bulgars and Macedonians will not even know that I went there until they read these lines, if they do read them, for I was all alone, as I always am when I wish to see things for myself. It is thus that I saw the wall of wire. But the wall of wire is not all. On the crest, which runs immediately behind the ridge upon which the barbed wire has been placed, and at a distance varying from two to three miles from it, a new series of blockhouses has been constructed. They are spaced at a distance of from three to four miles, and form a much more powerful defence than do even the barbed wires. These little forts are armed with six light and 'four heavy machine-guns, and two rapid-firing guns. The blockhouses, near the barbed wires, are occupied by about ten men, but those of this second line have a garrison of about twenty-five to forty soldiers commanded by an officer. A few miles behind, situated upon yet a third range of hills, higher than the first two ranges, is a third fortified line. Placed at intervals of eight miles, and equipped with long-range guns, these garrisons are manned by a personnel of over a hundred. Still further along, on the fourth line of mountains, are supplementary forts of the most modern type, guarding from their almost inaccessible heights all this truly extraordinary organisation. From the Bulgarian hills which are close to the frontier, one can see clearly with the naked eye the essential details of the first two systems of fortification. With .field-glasses one may, on a clear day, see the whole of this quadruple barrier of steel and reinforced concrete which the Yugoslav general- staff erected " to put an end to the incursions of volunteers of the ORIM on to the territory of annexed Macedonia." That, at least, is the reason given by Belgrade to justify both the colossal expense which these works represent, and the violent and total separation of the two halves of the Macedonian peoples which it causes. Let us analyse this reason. The Pan- Serbs say that there are 10,000 of the ORIM. This figure is grossly exaggerated, of course, but let us accept that exaggeration, and even make it 15,000 or 20,000, which is pure madness. Of these few thousands, the biggest revolutionary bands which ever penetrated into annexed Macedonia did not exceed fifty men. We are asked to believe, in other words, that Yugoslavia has been compelled to fortify her frontiers in this colossal manner in order to prevent a few irregular bands from penetrating a region occupied by more than 50,000 soldiers. If it is true, what a lamentable confession of weakness it makes ! Besides what becomes of the official statements that Macedonia is happy to have become Serb again and that the comitadjis of the ORIM are received with gunfire when certain of them succeed "by chance" in penetrating into annexed Macedonia. No, the whole thing is preposterous ! It is about as ridiculous as would be a concentration of the British Fleet in the Irish channel for fear of an invasion of England by the Sinn Feiners. It is true that the barbed wires have almost entirely halted the incursions of the volunteers of the ORIM into annexed Macedonia. Henceforth they are obliged to cross Roumania and to take a train at Belgrade for Skoplje; Bitolj or Guevgueli: This is not so easy. It is also quite true that the barbed wire has transformed Serbian Macedonia into an immense prison, into an indescribable hell of violence and misery, from which it is no longer possible to escape, no longer possible to enter without special permission from the Yugoslav authorities. The jailors in this prison are not responsible to anyone. These obvious truths admitted, it is only too manifest that this formidable fortification of the Yugoslav frontier from the Danube to Albania has been effected for reasons other than those given by Belgrade or denounced by the Macedonians of Sofia. The real truth is that the Yugoslav general-staff has not forgotten the tragic lessons of the World War. It has not forgotten the Bulgar attack of 1915 and the general insurrection of Macedonia which compelled them to make their disastrous retreat from Albania. Their frontier of barbed wires makes it almost impossible for them to be attacked from the rear on the day the other trouble engages them on the North and West frontier. Thanks to the Macedonian fortifications, a few regiments of territorials will suffice to paralyse any Bulgar attack. Poor Bulgaria ! She must be flattered in an ironic sense by these colossal preparations against her. As one recedes into Bulgaria one wonders whether the whole thing is not a dream-a giant mirage thrown by the disordered minds of Belgrade. For where is the means of attack to which this mass of wire and cannon is opposed? Here and there along the Bulgarian frontier, five or six soldiers and a non-commissioned officer, armed only with rifles, occupy former Turkish custom-posts. Wretched and dilapidated, too, are the brick and earthen walls of these posts. In five minutes the machine-guns of the neighbouring Yugoslav blockhouses would transform them into colanders.

3 коментара:


umri bugarinu ,da zivee makedonija




Da zivee Makedonija - naj-bylgarskata zemja!

Umrete syrbomani!

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