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Macedonia, the Lung of Greece: Fighting an Uphill Battle

By Marcus A. Templar (November 7, 2012)


This year, Greeks all over the world are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the liberation of
Macedonia from the Ottoman yoke. It was an emotional moment for the inhabitants of Thessaloniki
when they saw the sky blue-white flag flying over the White Tower. While today the Macedonians
celebrate the liberation of the city and indeed the return of the land of Alexander the Great back to its
motherland, others challenge the present status quo.
The Greek Army entered Thessaloniki in the early hours of Saturday, October 27, 1912 (Old
Style). In a moving editorial, the newspaper Makedonia of Thessaloniki in its Sunday, October 28,
1912 edition expressed the feelings of the Macedonian Greek as follows:

With warm tears, tears of joy that floods the chest of the slave who recovers his freedom, tears of
gratitude that fulfills his existence for his liberator, we salute the Greek army that entered the
resplendent city of the Thessalonians.

This brilliant trophy of the heroic and victorious Greek Army demolishes the cornerstone of the
Turkish state from the Greek Macedonia. Of the state, which, as the kingdoms of ancient monsters
were established on layers of bones. Of the state, which has been synonymous to barbarism and
horribleness. Of the state, which holding in one hand the torch of arson and in the other the dagger
of the murderer, burned and slaughtered our life and our honor, our faith and our ethnicity, and
anything holy and sacred that we have.

And now the pulverized homeland of Aristotle and Alexander [the Great], whose every hill and every
valley, every corner and every span, are soaked in innocent Greek blood and former and recent
lamentations of the martyrs of the Faith and Fatherland, throws itself free into the warm and loving
arms of Mother Greece.
Thus, the great epic of 1821 continues.a

It is important for the Greeks to know what the Macedonian fighters did face during their struggle
to liberate Macedonia. For this reason, I am offering a summary of five chapters of an upcoming

book that I am preparing under the working title MACEDONIA: Land of Illusions, Myths, and
Falsities.
Introduction
The Seven Slavic tribes and Bulgarians appeared in the south Balkans in the 6th century.
Despite the centuries long attempts of the neighboring Slavic element to slavonize them,
Macedonian Greeks remained Hellenic.1 The reason for the failure to slavonize the Macedonian
Greeks was that the Slavs in the purely Greek provinces [of Byzantium] did not form large,
homogenous groups, and they were unable to resist the attraction of a higher cultural environment.2
In the beginning of 1902, the Greek Prime Minister, Alexander Zaimis, openly admitted, The
chief threat to Hellenism in Macedonia came, not from the Ottoman Turks, but from the Bulgarians.3
The continuous political and military involvement of the Great Powers4 officially was intended to
alleviate the plight of the Christians under Ottoman misgovernment. In reality, the same Powers
were interested (and still are) in establishing their political and military outposts in their client states
of the region.
As an antidote to the political antagonism between the Pan-Slavist movement of St. Petersburg,
Russia and the Western Powers, Bulgarian intellectuals in Macedonia found political recourse in
Marxism and Anarchism believing that if those philosophies were implemented and spread, they
would liberate not only themselves from the Ottomans, but also from the supremacy among the
Great Powers.
By the end of the 19th century, the Bulgarian idealists in Macedonia created secret societies
bracing their military groups with thugs and brigands who had re-invented themselves as patriots and
liberators while they covertly continued their old lifestyle and directly threatened the existence of
anything Greek.

Fanula Papazoglu, (Macedonian Cities in Roman Times), (Skopje: iva


Antika, 1957), 4, 333; Fanula Papazoglu, The Central Balkan Tribes in Pre-Roman Times, English Edition,
(Amsterdam: Hakkert, 1978), 268.
2
Frantiek Dvornik, Byzantine Missions among the Slavs: Ss. Constantine-Cyril and Methodius (New
Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers, 1970), 42.
3
F. R. Bridge, ed., Austro-Hungarian documents relating to the Macedonian struggle, 1896-1912
(Thessaloniki: Institute for Balkan Studies, 1976), 91.
4
In the 19th and early 20th century in Europe, Great Powers were the UK, Germany, Austria-Hungary, France,
and Russia. The Ottoman Empire had declined as a Great Power.

The Effects of the Slavic Awakening in the South Balkans


The Slavic Awakening in the south Balkans gradually appeared at the end of the 18th century in
Bulgaria, Croatia, and later in the 19th century in Serbia, and Slovenia. The 19th century was an era
of literary upheaval aka literary awakening in Europe. The Pan-Slavic movements of national
awakenings took place in the mid-19th century at the same time the communist philosophy was
spreading. Those leading various movements, being idealists, used the literary awakening as the
reason for local activities that developed into national liberation movements.
Two events caused the concept of a Greater Bulgaria, the creation of the Exarchate and the
Preliminary Treaty of San Stefano. The re-election of Gregorios VI to the Patriarchic throne in 1867
proved detrimental to the Patriarchate, as well as to Hellenism of Macedonia.5 The candidate for the
patriarchal throne, Gregorios VI, in order to fulfill his ambition, asked Count Nikolay Ignatyev, the
Russian Ambassador in Constantinople, for his support in exchange for a few concessions, one of
which was the establishment of the Bulgarian Exarchate.
Patriarch Gregorios VI was quoted as stating to Count Ignatyev, With my hands I built a bridge
toward the political independence of the Bulgarians.6 Patriarch Gregorios VI probably thought of an
autonomous Bulgarian Church within the territories between the Balkan Mountain range and Danube
River. The Patriarch was in for a big surprise.
Three years later (February 27/ March 11, 1870) and after some more Bulgarian and Russian
proposals, Sultan Abdlaziz issued a decree (frman), which established the Bulgarian Exarchate
standardizing the rules and regulations on the technical aspects of the Exarchate. The decree
offered the Exarchate jurisdiction over the entire Bulgaria north of the Balkan Mountain range (the old
Roman Moesia Inferior), plus the regions of Sofia and Ni. In addition, the Exarchate received parts
of the upper Struma valley and the dioceses of Plovdiv (Philippoupolis) and Sliven (Slymnos
), under the banner of the autonomous Greek Church.

Patriarch Gregorios VI was elected for the first time on September 26, 1835, but the Sultan dismissed him on
February 20, 1840. He was re-elected for the second time on February 10, 1867 in order to resign on June 10,
1871.
6
Je btis de mes mains, un pont l' indpendance politique des Bulgares. Ignatyev dispatch No. 128, May
14, 1867.

One man, Stojan Chomakov, a Russophobe Bulgarian extremist, who was an influential official in
the Ottoman administration, was behind Article X of the decree that established the Exarchate.7 The
articles of the decree were straight forward, except for article X, which stated that the Bulgarian
Exarchate, the constitution of which was to be settled by subsequent regulations, but which was to
be in effect independent of the Patriarch, and was to include all dioceses with a purely Bulgarian
population and in addition any other districts two-thirds or more of whose inhabitants so desired. In
addition, the decree politically established the Bulgarian ethnicity for the first time.8
The language of the two-thirds provision resulted in an inexorable and poisonous armed race
between the Exarchate Bulgarians and the Patriarchist Greeks because these were the two main
Christian ethnicities in Macedonia with religious and ethnic identities that did not always coincide and
the statistics were inaccurate. 9 Besides, the example offered by the Gevgeli District Governor of the
Province of Rumeli in document No 81/8053, dated August 21, 1905, indicates that the intimidation
that the Bulgarians exerted on the inhabitants of Negorci, just north of Gevgeli, was clear: declare
yourselves Bulgarians or you die.10
Here is how pek Yosmaoglu describes the incident:

On the evening of 20 August 1905, a shepherd named Taso Petre was grazing his sheep
on a hill outside of his village, Negore (Negortzi), in eastern Macedonia when he was
approached by four men he did not recognize." The men, all of whom were armed, ran
away after one of them handed the shepherd a letter written in Bulgarian addressed to the
inhabitants of Negorce, A day later, the police had reported the incident to the prefecture
(kaymakamltk), which had the letter translated and sent to the General Inspectorate of
Rumeli. The letter, written by a certain Vlad Vasil, apparently one of the local guerrilla
leaders, read as follows:
I greet you all. The census clerks who will be coming to your village will give you new
identification cards (nfus tezkereleri), and ask you which denomination you belong to. Tell
them we are not Rum; we are Bulgars and that you are of Bulgar denomination because
you speak Bulgarian. And don't be afraid of anyone. You will answer, "we want Bulgar
7

B. H. Sumner, Ignatyev at Constantinople: II, The Slavonic and East European Review, 11, 33 (Apr., 1933),
556-571; 567, 568.
8
B. H. Sumner, Ignatyev at Constantinople: II, The Slavonic and East European Review, 11, 33 (Apr., 1933),
556-571; passim.
9
pek K. Yosmaolu, Counting Bodies, Shaping Souls: The 1903 Census and National Identity in Ottoman
Macedonia, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 38, (Feb, 2006), 55-77, passim.
10
pek K. Yosmaolu, Counting Bodies, Shaping Souls: The 1903 Census and National Identity in Ottoman
Macedonia, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 38, (Feb. 2006), 55-77, 62.

identification cards." Villagers, look, open up your beautiful eyes. Don't have yourselves
registered Rum, because then no good will come to your children, your goods, and your
animals, you will [have to] go up the mountains. Until today we somehow forgave your
mistakes, but you could lose your well-being. Know that it is thanks to me that you have
stayed alive ... Don't imagine that you will stay in Negortzi, escape to Gevgili and be saved.
There was a man like you in Cuma-i Bala [Blagoevgrad], a Rum, he escaped to America; we
also have men over there; they killed him, keep that in mind.

According to the Russian Consul in Bitola, the komitajis did not visit villages in Macedonia,
anymore, forcing the farmers to pay them protection money, i.e. extortion, as they had done before,
but they forced the elders of the villages and the priests to sign petitions in which they declared that
their villages were Bulgarian and Exarchist. If they had refused to do so, the komitadjis murdered
them as they had done in the villages of Brusnik, Bamka, Splia (Zhuzheltsi). Thus, the elders
started another strategy. After they signed the Bulgarian petitions, they visited the Greek Consulate
in Bitola, they signed similar petitions stating that they and their villages were Greek and
Patriarchist.11
Thus, the unintended consequence of a well-disposed Patriarch would cost thousands of
peoples lives and prove detrimental to Hellenism and to the Patriarchate itself since much of the
prestige and income were connected to the lands of the Exarchate. Patriarch Gregorios VI either
discounted or overlooked the possibility that the Russians could alter the end goal after obtaining his
approval for the establishment of the Exarchate. Ignatyev describes the problem of the Russian
diplomacy as follows:
The exarchate, even in its most restraint form, offered a national core [to the Bulgarians],
which would be free to develop later. My main concern in the question, which I struggle
with, has always been to provide for the Bulgarians without breaking with the Greek national
body, protecting them from the efforts of the [Roman] Catholic and Protestant propaganda
and also keeping them in the orthodoxy and our influence.12

11

1903-1905, , , 71 (Reforms in Macedonia 19031905, Foreign Ministry, diplomatic correspondence, 71).


12
B. H. Sumner, Ignatyev at Constantinople: II, The Slavonic and East European Review, 11, 33 (Apr.,
1933), 556-571; 569. The text in French is: "L'exarchat, mme dans sa forme la plus restrainte, offrait un
noyau national qu'on serait libre de dvelopper ultrieurement." " Ma principale proccupation dans la
question, qui se dbattait, a toujours ete de procurer aux bulgares, sans rompre avec les grecs, un corps national
en les prservant des efforts de la propagande catholique et protestante et en les conservant aussi l'orthodoxie
et a notre influence."

Indeed, on one hand, the Russians ascertained that the Bulgarians had a window through which
they could obtain more than the Patriarch had wished. It was a win-win situation for the Russians
and the Sultan, since under pressure from the Pan-Slavists within the Empire and through the
Bulgarian diaspora at Odessa, Kishinev, Bucharest, Belgrade, and St. Petersburg the Russians
increased their influence with the Bulgarians. On the other hand, the Sultan achieved his goal to
play the Bulgarians against the Macedonian Greeks. At first, he divided them and then he fueled
their discord.
By 1895, the Bulgarians claimed 600 to 700 schools with 25,000 to 30,000 pupils and by 1912,
seven bishoprics in Macedonia came under the jurisdiction of the Exarchate.13 But according to
Greek sources, by the time of the Balkan Wars (1913) in the Vilayet of Thessaloniki, there were 384
Bulgarian schools educating 17,777 pupils and 571 Greek schools with 32,534 pupils. In the Vilayet
of Monastiri (Bitola) there were 272 Bulgarian schools with 16,089 pupils, and 432 Greek schools
with 25,026 pupils. The Serbs had founded schools in the areas of Kosovo Vilayet, especially in
Skopje and Kumanovo.14

13

L. S. Stavrianos, The Balkans 1815-1914 (Chicago: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963), 98.
Dimitar Bechev, Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Macedonia (Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow, 2009),
68.
14

Macedonia Rediscovered

Due to the failure of the Constantinople Conference (1876 1877), two important conventions
took place between Russia and Austria-Hungary in 1877. One took place in Budapest on January
15, 1877 and the other in Reichstadt (present-day Zkupy, Czech Republic) on July 8, 1877.15 The
participants in both meetings on the Russian side were Emperor Alexander II and Minister of Foreign
Affairs, Prince A. M. Gorakov, and on the Austro-Hungarian side Emperor Francis Joseph and
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gyula Andrssy. The Austrian Emperor introduced the idea of an
autonomous Macedonia as part of a package deal with Russia, which wanted to have a kindred
Slavic outpost in the Aegean. Under the plan, Austria would have the military control of Bosnia and
Herzegovina and in exchange, Russia would receive territories lost in the Crimean War, while
Bulgaria would be independent with additional territories of Dobrudja. Macedonia would be
autonomous within the Ottoman Empire. At that time, the territories of Macedonia included only the
region of Macedonia within Greece and the area of Pelagonia (Monastiri/Bitola, Ohrid areas).
The belief that Ignatyev created Macedonism or he is responsible for bringing the Macedonian
ethnicity into the foreground is false as it is the result of the misinterpretation of facts. The artificial
ethnicity that Ignatyev was accused of creating was the Bulgarian. Ignatyev was neither the creator
of Bulgarian nationalism nor the initiator of the struggle for a Bulgarian Church independent of the
Patriarchate. The origins of the modern era recognition of the existence of the Bulgarian nation goes
back to the generation before the Crimean War, i.e. 1833.16 In his memoirs, Ignatyev explains that
he had a lot to do with drafting and negotiating the Treaty of San Stefano as ordered, but the
instructions of what Russia wanted had come from St. Petersburg.17
Lazar Kolievski, the First President of the Executive Council of Peoples Republic of
Macedonia (April 16, 1945 December 19, 1953) explains that the Macedonian Question started
by the Russians:
Neither Marx nor Lenin, any more than Soviet academics or the leaders of the Bulgarian
socialist movement, have ever overlooked or indeed concealed the fact that tsarist Russia although objectively aiding the Balkan peoples to gain emancipation from Turkish rule, did
make this problem more difficult, turning it into a question of the Balkan interests of the
15

Alexander Onou, The Memoirs of Count N. Ignatyev: II, The Slavonic and East European Review, 10, 30
(Apr., 1932), 627-640; 627, 636.
16
B. H. Sumner, Ignatyev at Constantinople: II, The Slavonic and East European Review, 11, 33 (Apr.,
1933), 556-571; 566. Christ Anastasoff, Bulgaria's National Struggles, Annals of the American Academy of
Political and Social Science, 232, A Challenge to Peacemakers (Mar., 1944), 101-106; 103).
17
B. H. Sumner, Ignatyev at Constantinople: II, The Slavonic and East European Review, 11, 33 (Apr.,
1933), 556-571; 566-7.

European imperialists precisely because it was pursuing its own conquest rather than the
actual liberation of the Balkan peoples. History has also shown that in view of the balance of
forces at the time, San Stefano Bulgaria was a fiction; that the European powers could accept
the liberation of Bulgaria but not also the creation of a "greater Bulgaria" as an instrument of
Russian policy in the Balkans. The Peace of San Stefano was concluded (on 3 March 1878),
but San Stefano Bulgaria - never materialized because the Berlin Congress (on 13 July 1878)
opposed it. An outburst of megalomania was paid for by the tearing apart of the Bulgarian
nation. . In the article "The Macedonian question, Bulgaria and the Russian
Government", published in Lenin's Iskra (No. 45 of 1 August 1903), the founder of the
Bulgarian party, Dimitar Blagcev, wrote that the Russian tsarist policy created "the fiction of a
San Stefano Bulgaria", and that the Russian army had to lift the occupation of Bulgaria and
face arraignment by the Berlin Congress, leaving that "Bulgaria" to the Bulgarian politicians
as a great unfulfilled "national ideal"18
Although at present, the basis for the Serbian literary language is the Northern Ekavian, until
1878, the literary language of Serbia was the Eastern Herzegovinian. Istono - hercegovaki or
Eastern Herzegovinian dialect is spoken in eastern Herzegovina, NW Montenegro, the Sandjak of
Novi Pazar or Raka, eastern Bosnia, western Bosnia, Serbian Krajina, and middle Slavonia. A
letter from Pope John VIII in AD 873 to St. Methodius reveals the policy of the papacy concerning
the ancient Illyricum and the religious situation in the lands forming the cradle of the Serbians, later
called Raka.19 The Serbs built the city [Raka] soon after their conversion to Christianity at the
end of the ninth century, the center of the Serbian state was then not Duclea [Duklja], but Rascia
[Raka], where the bishopric of Ras was the national religious center.20 Porphyrogenitus refers to it
as - Rasi.21
For historical, but also for linguistic reasons, Serbia wanted to expand west to Bosnia and
Herzegovina allowing Bulgaria to expand west as well as to the area of the present day the Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Due to Gorakovs Austro-phobia, the Russians
accepted the expansion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to lands west of the Drina River (Bosnia and
Herzegovina) depriving Serbia from expanding west and giving Serbia no choice but to expand
south. Austro-Hungarian (Andrssy) and Russian (Gorakov) machinations regarding Serbia and
Bulgaria, the two Ottoman controlled Slavic peoples of the south Balkans, generated the Council of
18

Lazar Kolievski, Aspects of the Macedonian Question (Belgrade: Socialist Thought and Practice, 1980),
152-3.
19
Frantiek Dvornik, Byzantine Missions among the Slavs: Ss. Constantine-Cyril and Methodius (New
Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers, 1970), 38.
20
Frantiek Dvornik, Byzantine Missions among the Slavs: Ss. Constantine-Cyril and Methodius (New
Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers, 1970), 254, 257.
21
Constantine Porphyrogennitus, De Administrando Imperio, ed. R.J.H. Jenkins (Washington, DC: Dumbarton
Oaks, 1967) 32, 53. This area is called Old Serbia by Serbs. It includes the territory, which was the heart of
medieval Serbia, i.e. Raka (Sandak), Kosovo and Metohija and the present day FYROM (except Pelagonia,
which is Macedonia). Sometimes Old Serbia includes Montenegro.

Berlin and all its political and social costs, and pushed both Serbian and Bulgarian nationalism to
compete over the same territory.
Serb politicians and ethnographers such as Stojan Novakovi, Jovan Cviji, Aleksandar Beli, et
al. argued that the inhabitants of present day FYROM territories spoke dialects that belonged to the
transitional Serbian, i.e. Torlak dialects.22 Between 1890 and 1900, Bulgarian governments
sponsored ethnographers to draw maps of Macedonia to include the territories west of Bulgaria that
fit their political and territorial aspirations.23
Vasil Kunov, one of the enlisted inventive ethnographers, created a map of a new Macedonia,
never before imagined, allegedly inhabited mostly by Bulgarians. Considering that only a few
westerners visited Macedonia at that time, Bulgaria, assisted by Russia, was free to assert that the
majority of the Macedonians were Bulgarians when in fact they were a medley of races and
nationalities. Ottoman statistics tied to military taxation were unreliable since most Patriarchist
households registered only one male per household, while children and female residents were
completely missing from the equation. That was not true with the Exarchist households, which were
ethnically Bulgarian.24
The new map of Macedonia included the Vilayets of Monastiri, Thessaloniki, and the south region
of the Vilayet of Kosovo, and in general the Torlak speaking areas of Serbia. The sole purpose of
such effort was the annexation of the territories northwest, west, and south of Bulgaria, i.e. the
restoration of the Second Bulgarian Empire.
The annexation of Eastern Rumelia on September 18 [O.S. September 6] 1885 as a result of a
political coup on behalf of the Bulgarians in Rumelia boosted Bulgarias hope for more territorial
additions thinking that since the Great Powers had tolerated and went along with the annexation of
Eastern Rumelia, Bulgaria had an excellent chance to do the same with other territories. The
subsequent lands that Bulgaria had on its annexation list were Thrace, Dobrudja, Bosilegrad and
Tsaribrod. After the declaration of the unification massive protests broke out in Greece, who feared

22

Torlak dialects (Kraovaki, Svrlji, Luniki, Vranje, Prizren, Kumanovo Trn (Breznik), Belogradik), are
transitional between Serbian and Bulgarian). Of them, Bulgarians consider as Bulgarian those dialects that
were spoken inside the borders of Bulgaria before 1918, namely the dialects around Belogradik, western of
Berkovica, around Caribrod, Trn, Breznik, and Bosilegrad, known as Belogradik-Trn dialect. On the other,
Serbian dialects are considered those spoken west of the previously mentioned ones around Knjaevac, Pirot,
Leskovac, and Vranje. Some linguists argue that the Torlak dialects constitute a separate Slavic linguistic
group. The dialect of Skopje is positioned between Prizren and Kumanovo dialects.
23
Tihomir R. Djordjevi Macedonia (New York: McMillan, 1918), 6.
24
Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars,
(Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment, 1914) 28. pek K. Yosmaolu, Counting Bodies, Shaping Souls:
The 1903 Census and National Identity in Ottoman Macedonia, International Journal of Middle East Studies,
38, (Feb., 2006), 55-77, passim).

the creation of a greater Bulgarian state on the Balkans, calling the government to declare war on
Bulgaria. Serbia offered Greece a joint military action against Bulgaria but Greece rejected it.
While Serbia was silently working to expand its hegemony west, Bulgaria was also working to
expand its hegemony west and south. After Serbia lost Bosnia to the Austro-Hungarians, it decided
to expand south. At that point Serbias interests south coincided with Greeces interests north, but
those two opposing interests were not in conflict with each other. Serbia cared about the territories of
Old and South Serbia and Greece the traditional territory of Macedonia. Bulgaria however, aided by
Russia drove a hegemonic wedge between those two. By annexing Eastern Rumelia, Bulgaria came
closer to its geopolitical and geostrategic objectives and that was a red flag for Serbia. Serbias
government being closer to Bulgaria than Greece, was alarmed seeking pretext to war against
Bulgaria. A small detail that Serbia missed was that Russia had identified Bulgarias interests as its
own. Nicholas Karlovich Giers of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confided to a Serbian
representative at St. Petersburg that the interests of Russia come first, then those of Bulgaria, and
only after them come Serbias and he continued that sometimes the Bulgarian interests stand on an
equal footing with the Russian.25
The argument would be that Serbia has been more influential to the area of the FYROM than
Bulgaria. It is a valid argument, and also true mainly between 1918 and 1991 due to Serbias
geopolitical conditions in relation to Skopje. However, before 1918, Bulgaria was more influential
due to its historical and linguistic basis, although the inhabitants of the area were culturally more
Serbian inclined.
Regressing to the period between 1800 up until 1885, Bulgaria was working quietly in the south
Balkans. However, after the political coup that Bulgaria pulled in Eastern Rumelia in 1885, Serbia
woke up looking for reasons to stop any Bulgarian political onslaught in South Serbia. But the issue
was deeper. Bulgarias victory in Slivnitsa meant that Bulgaria with Eastern Rumelia was a
formidable opponent and if Serbia had continued to launch subtle and quiet operations, it would lose
South Serbia to Bulgaria, as well. Thus Serbia started becoming increasingly aggressive with
propagandizing not only against Bulgaria, but in the area of Monastiri (Bitola) against the Greeks.
After the Timok River forms at Zajear, Serbia, it turns north-west running next to some Serbian
towns and villages as Negotin it runs its flow to the Danube River. About 15 kms from its confluence
into the Danube, the Timok becomes a border river passing next to the Bulgarian town of Bregovo.
That area witnessed a minor hot border dispute, known as the Bregovo Dispute. In is also known as

25

Charles Jelavich, Tsarist Russia and Balkan Nationalism: Russian Influence in the Internal Affairs of
Bulgaria and Serbia, 1879-1886 (Berkeley: University of California Press 1958), 12-13.

10

the Serbian-Bulgarian War. The war erupted on November 14, 1885 and lasted only 14 days until
November 28, 1885.
The pretext for the war was the following. The river Timok, which formed and still forms part of
the border between the two countries, had slightly changed its course over the years. As a result, a
Serbian border guardhouse near the village of Bregovo had found itself on the Bulgarian bank of the
river. After some denied requests from Bulgaria to evacuate the guardhouse, Bulgaria expelled the
Serbian troops by force. Since the Ottomans did not intervene, the Serbian army attacked Bulgaria,
not just at the area of the dispute, but at an area that was convenient and closer to the new capital of
Bulgaria, Sofia.
The town of Vidin, Bulgaria, was near the border dispute and of course recipient of a Serbian
attack; it was indeed besieged by a Serbian army. Although vastly outnumbered, the Bulgarians
were victorious under a defense organized by the Bulgarian Army Captain Atanas Uzunov.
However, the Serbian Army crossed the border in the area of Pirot through Tsaribrod and virtually
unopposed advanced to the Bulgarian town of Slivnitsa about 30 kms from Sofia. The relentless
advance of the Serbian Army into the Bulgarian territory forced the main body of the Bulgarian army
to move from the Ottoman border in the southeast to the Serbian border in the northwest in defense
of the capital Sofia. The Battle of Slivnitsa was crucial to the territorial integrity of Bulgaria. But the
Bulgarians defending the very existence of their country went on to a counter-offensive passing the
borders and capturing the Serbian town of Pirot. While the Ottoman Empire was officially absent, the
Austro-Hungarian Empire threatened Bulgaria with war, had it not stop its advancement and retreat.
The result of that war not only sent some dire messages to the Serbs and Bulgarians for different
reasons, but it also led the European Powers and Serbia to acknowledge Bulgarias annexation of
Eastern Rumelia. One of the dismal consequences was the loss of trust and friendship between
Serbia and Bulgaria and instead of concentrating against their common enemy, the Ottoman Empire,
they started fighting each other perhaps not as much militarily, as they did politically.

11

The Birth and Development of the IMRO

In Thessaloniki on October 23, 1893, inspired by the Carbonari secret revolutionary societies of
early 19th-century Italy, a group of Bulgarian intellectuals ranging from simple idealists to socialists,
revolutionary socialists, and anarchists formed a secret society under the name Bulgarian
Macedonian Revolutionary Committee (BMRC).26 Members of the organization could be any
Bulgarian, irrespective of gender, who is not compromised by something wicked27
The organization had espoused narodnik socialism advocating the spreading of political
propaganda among the peasants and through them to the masses in hope that they would bring their
awakening and consequently revolt against the oppressors and upgrade their standard of living, but
always within the socialist sphere. These political emissaries oftentimes accompanied their message
with threats, harassment, or actual murder.
The political actions of the organization were based on a dual program which included a popular
revolt against the Ottoman misrule, and after the autonomy or independence had been
accomplished, a social revolution against the propertied and bourgeois classes of Macedonia would
take place with the help of the brigands of the BRMC. The result would have been the establishment
of a Social Democracy of Macedonia, i.e. a Peoples Republic. It would happen 14 years before
the Russian Revolution. While Russian politicians disliked the narodniki, the Bulgarian political elite
considered them as political allies.
The patriotic sentiment among Bulgarians was high, doing whatever possible to bring the
Bulgarian borders to those of the Treaty of San Stefano and the Exarchate. In 1895, one of the
secret societies, "The Macedo-Adrianople Committee," addressed a letter to the Great Powers,
supposedly representing all inhabitants of Macedonia, advocating "an autonomous Macedonia, with
its capital at Salonika [Thessaloniki], to be placed under a Governor-General of the predominant
ethnicity."28 Since Sofia had already placed the plan of changing the borders of Macedonia to its
taste, the term predominant ethnicity was a self-fulfilling prophesy.
In the beginning of the 20th century, not only did the leadership of the BMRC considered
themselves Bulgarians, so did all the Slavic-speaking inhabitants of Macedonia; however, within the
Bulgarian domain they regarded themselves as Macedonians. It must be noted that most of the
leadership and membership of the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization

26

The BMRC changed a number of names before winding up with the name IMRO.
Ivan Lazarov and others, (Short History of the Bulgarian nation)
(, 1993), 218.
28
William Miller, The Ottoman Empire, 1801-1913, (Charleston, S.C.: BiblioLife, 2009), 444.
27

12

(IMRO) were born and reared in Macedonia proper, i.e. the region of Macedonia within Greece, plus
the area of Pelagonia in the present day FYROM.
Krste Petkov Misirkov, designated by the Socialist Yugoslavia as the father of Macedonism,
explained the rationale behind the chosen term Macedonian Slavs.29 He also used Macedonian
Slavs. Misirkov oftentimes mentioned passim that all other nationalities living in Macedonia used an
identical geographic designator, Macedonian, with or without their own ethnic designator. Nikola
Karev declared himself Macedonian, in the same manner.
In 1903 in Sofia, Bulgaria, Misirkov published his first essay entitled What We Have Already
Done and What We Ought to Do In The Future. All other essays that he included in the book On
Macedonian Matters, published after 1914, showed more flexibility and openness about his socialist
philosophical inclination. The editor, Boris Vishinski, admitted that in his 1903 essay Misirkov was
not as outspoken as he had been in publishing these ideas, probably from fear of political
persecution.30 In his 1925 essay on Macedonian Nationalism, Misirkov explained the pro-Bulgarian
stance that he espoused at the end of the 19th century and his Macedonian nationalism with the
statement Macedonian intellectuals have sought and found, another way of fighting, i.e. an
independent Macedonian scientific way of thinking and a Macedonian national Consciousness.31
The scientific way that Misirkov had mentioned meant the scientific communism of MarxismLeninism, which at that time was at its peak. By 1925, the IMRO was already such an established
formidable force within the Bulgarian politics that it was the regulator of the Bulgarian polity and it
was part of the Bulgarian Communist Party.
In his interview with the Greek newspaper, Akropolis, Nikola Karev identified his ethnicity as
Bulgarian, but then he said that he was a Macedonian.32 Mrs. Elefterija Vambakovska of the
Institute of National History of the FYROM thought that such a statement is illogical since in her
opinion Karev could not have two ethnicities. But Karev had not declared two ethnicities. He
identified himself as a Bulgarian who lived in Macedonia. Macedonian Greeks similarly identify
themselves as ethnically Greeks, but within the Greek domain they culturally identify themselves as
Macedonians. Similarly Greeks from other parts of Greece identify themselves as Thracians,
Cretans, Thessalians, etc. based on the location of their birth. Such designation is strictly
geographical as Misirkov stated.33 Mrs. Vambakovska feels the way she does because she and her
compatriots have been educated that the Macedonian ethnicity existed at the time of the Ilinden
29

Krste P. Misirkov, On Macedonian Matters (Skopje, 1974), 159.


Krste P. Misirkov, On Macedonian Matters (Skopje, 1974), 222.
31
Krste P. Misirkov, On Macedonian Matters (Skopje, 1974), 226.
32
Utrinski vesnik, July 22, 2000, Archive No 329.
33
Krste P. Misirkov, On Macedonian Matters (Skopje, 1974), 159.
30

13

Revolt, something that Prof. Katardjiev refutes. According to Misirkov there is no contradiction in
Karevs statement. Ivan Katardzhiev, an expert on VMRO, has stated that Skopje cannot question
the Bulgarian national consciousness of the members of the organization. Even those members of
the VMRO (United) who had adopted the idea of Macedonianism maintained the view of political
separatism, but in fact, they felt Bulgarians to the end their lives34 Since the members of the VMRO
(United), which was established in 1936, nobody can believe that 1903 the fighters of Ilinden were
ethnic Macedonians. They were simply ethnic Bulgarians.
The adoption of a new identity was deemed necessary. One reason was that the new identity
was to be used effectively in order to start the agitation among the Slavic populations of the region of
Macedonia in order to set the foundation of a separate Slavic ethnicity other than Bulgarian. In
addition, by separating their own ethnicity from that of the Bulgarians of the Principality and calling
themselves Macedonians, they hoped that all nationalities of Macedonia would rally behind the
movement, but they also hoped that the Great Powers would bite the bait and support the plight of
the Macedonians.
Characteristic of the political reaction to this thinking abroad Rostkovski, the Russian Consul
Monastiri (Bitola) often said, "The Bulgarians think they are the only people in the world with brains,
and that all others are fools. Whom do they hope to deceive with their articles in Pravo and other
papers saying that the Macedonians want Macedonia for the Macedonians? We know very well
what they want!35
The developed regionalism of the IMRO had been commensurate with its members political
affiliation to socialism and anarchism. The political aims of the organization were also different from
those of the Principalitys. The implementation of their political ideology, along with their desire for
the liberation of Macedonia from bondage, boosted their regionalism, which translated into a new
identity, the Macedonian Slav.
The regionalism furthermore was deemed necessary because under the so-called Macedonian
Slavs term, the Slav speakers who lived in Macedonia could disassociate from those Bulgarians of
the Principality. Misirkov had explicitly argued against such practice as being deceptive.36 The event
that boosted the argument of the Bulgarians in Macedonia to differentiate themselves from those of
the Principality was the adoption by Bulgaria of the Eastern Bulgarian dialect as the basis for the
literary language of the Principality at the end of the 19th century.

34

Ivan Katardjiev ( ), "I believe in the Macedonian national immunity", Interview with magazine
Forum July 22, 2000, Archive # 329).
35
36

Krste P. Misirkov, On Macedonian Matters (Skopje, 1974), 44.


Krste P. Misirkov, On Macedonian Matters (Skopje, 1974), 36-85 passim.

14

The IMRO leadership realized that it would be an uphill battle to topple a well-established and
diplomatically recognized Bulgarian Principalitys polity. In addition, the IMRO realized that it would
also be an impossible task to attempt to institute a second Bulgarian state under the banner of social
democracy. At the beginning of the 20th century, at a time that social democracy, revolutionary or
not, was under the careful scrutiny of European regimes, a social democratic Macedonia would be
struck down before it started for fear of spreading to Europe threatening regime changes. The
French Commune government in the spring of 1871 was too close and the Russian revolt of 1905
served as a warning.
At that time, two other revolutionary factions appeared, the Macedonian Supreme Committee in
Sofia and a Thessaloniki based smaller group of conservatives, the Bulgarian Secret Revolutionary
Brotherhood. By 1902, the latter was incorporated into the IMRO, and its members proved very
significant in the decision-making of the organization. They are the ones that pushed the Ilinden
Revolt, although they did not participate in it. They later became the core of the IMRO right-wing
faction under Sarafov. In 1907, a communist IMRO member, Todor Panica, at the order of Jane
Sandanski, assassinated almost all IMROs right wing leadership, such as Sarafov and Garvanov.
Boris Sarafov, one of the Supremist (Verhovists) leaders, had visited almost all European capitals
and launched a marketing campaign for his cause. He gave interviews for the Bulgarian Committee,
and paid off a great number of the European mass media. In addition, he established the Balkan
Committee in London, which in fact was a Bulgarian committee strongly advocating pro-Bulgarian
views. This Balkan Committee was managed by the Buxton brothers and included some influential
staunch supporters such as Henry Noel Brailsford, Morgan Philips Price, and the correspondent of
the Times of London, James David Bourchier. The Balkan Committee sent its English
representatives to various locations of Macedonia to encourage and assist the Bulgarian members of
the IMRO. Simultaneously, the representatives of the Balkan Committee in the Balkans were in
continuous communication through the English Consuls. Due to the great influence that the
leadership of the Balkan Committee had in the English governments, it succeeded in appointing
Bulgarophiles as consuls in the Balkans.37 Even when foreign humanitarian aid was sent and
distributed by missionaries such as Lady Thompson, the British and Foreign Bible Society, and
others after the Ilinden Revolt, the aid was distributed only to the Exarchists in collaboration with the
Bulgarian komitadjis38

37

Germanos Karavagelis ( ), (: , 1958), 2327. Douglas Dakin, The Greek Struggle in Macedonia, 1897-1913 (Thessaloniki: IMXA, 1966), 150-1).
38
Germanos Karavagelis ( ), (: , 1958), 26.
Douglas Dakin, The Greek Struggle in Macedonia, 1897-1913 (Thessaloniki: IMXA, 1966), 157 fn 35).

15

The Myth of Liberation: 1903 - The Peoples Republic of Krushevo

At the early evening of Sunday, St. Elijah Day of Configuration (July 20/August 2, 1903) and
during the banquets that followed eight simultaneous weddings in the Greek community of Kushevo,
while people were enjoying the day, the IMRO staged a revolt declaring independence from the
Ottoman yoke. The instrument of independence is known as the Manifesto or Proclamation of
Krushevo and it was directed toward the Turkish population of the area. It must be noted that the
president of the ephemeral Republic of Krushevo, Nikola Karev, Kirovs cousin, was a well-known
member of the Bulgarian Workers Social Democratic Party, i.e. communist.39
In 1923, Nikola Kirov-Majski published a book, which developed into a theatrical play, Ilinden. In
the second act, second scene of the play, the character of the teacher reads the manifesto to
Nikola Karev, the President of the Krushevo Republic. Karev, tells the teacher to translate it into
Turkish and disseminate it to the Turkish villages of the area.40 The manifesto promoted in the play
as a declaration of independence, is filled with socialist parlance, which was very common for the
time and place of the play when taking into consideration the negotiations between the IMRO and the
Comintern and the establishment of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization United
(IMRO-U). One must have in mind that both Kirov and his cousin Karev were socialists. The
language of the manifesto that Skopje promotes as original is in conflict with what Kirov states in his
book published in 1935, which in fact is Kirovs diary, of the 10 day Ilinden Revolt, versus the book
published in 1924, which was the basis for a theatrical play.
According to Kirov-Majski, on July 24, 1903, that is a few days after the Bulgarians declared
independence and after they had massacred and destroyed the Greek sector, Tako P. Hristov, a
Bulgarian parliamentarian, took the original document to the Turkish village of Adalci and handed it to
a child with the directive to give it to Sinan, the mayor of the town. Hristov waited three full hours for
the answer. The document was in fact an ultimatum in the form of a letter and not a proclamation of
any type. In the meantime, from the minaret of the mosque, the hodja called together the entire male
population of the village, which had 40 households, and made the terms of the ultimatum known to
them.41 From there, Sinan sent the ultimatum to the Turkish villages of Laani (180 households) and

39

Keith Brown, The Past in Question: Modern Macedonia and the Uncertainties of Nation Princeton:
Princeton Univ. Press, 2003), 190, 209. George W. Gawrych, The Culture and Politics of Violence in Turkish
Society, 1903-14, Middle Eastern Studies, 22, 3 (Jul., 1986), 307-330; 308.
40
Nikola Kirov-Majski, Ilinden (Sofia, 1923), passim.
41
Nikola Kirov-Majski, (Krushovo and its battle for freedom) (:
, 1935), 56.

16

Debrite (250 households) which returned their response to Sinan.42 The letter-ultimatum served a
dual purpose: first, to make clear the purpose of the Revolt, and second, to serve as a warning to
the Turkish population that any collaboration with the Ottoman Army would be punishable by death.43
Under the threatening conditions set by the Bulgarian brigands, all three villages agreed not to assist
the Ottoman troops if and when they would arrive.44 Concerning the events of the Revolt, the
Bulgarian komitadjis killed innocent Greeks, burned and pillaged only Greek houses, and in general
destroyed only Greek properties.45 The Ottomans rushed an army of nine Infantry Battalions, three
Cavalry Companies, 18 artillery pieces (four Mountain and 14 Field guns), in order to crush the revolt
by looting and burning the Greek households that the Bulgarians did not have a chance to burn, and
killing innocent civilians,46 Over and above the regular forces, the bashibozuk,47 an irregular force,
the Grey Wolves of the time, came to Krushevo in order to aid the ungodly work of the Ottoman
Army.48
The toll of destruction inflicted by the Bulgarian revolutionaries and the incoming Turkish Army
was 366 houses and 203 shops, all belonging to Greeks. In total, 46 innocent Greek civilians were
murdered with many more missing. Some were murdered outside the town as they tried to escape
and others less fortunate were buried alive by their captors. The names of the victims are
enumerated in the Greek Consuls dispatch.

42

The location of the three villages is as follows: Adalci is located west of Krushevo about four kilometers as
the crow flies, Lazhani about 12 kms northeast of Krushevo as the crow flies, and Debrishte is located about 6
kms north of Lazhani as the crow flies.
43
Nikola Kirov-Majski, (Krushovo and its battle for freedom) (:
, 1935), 56 - 57.
44
Nikola Kirov-Majski, (Krushovo and its battle for freedom) (:
, 1935), 57.
45
Nicholas Ballas ( ), (: IMXA, 1962), 37-66.
Christopher Naltsas ( ),
(: IMXA, 1958), 18-22.
46
The names of the victims, their destroyed properties, their allegiance and other details are recorded in the
report of the Greek Consul in Monastiri (Bitola).
47
The Ottoman terminology of its various army services is as follows: Nizamiye = Regular Army and nizami
= a soldier of the regular army. Redif was a reservist, mostly Albanians. Bashibozuk was a civilian performing
the job of a soldier; it was essentially an irregular soldier. They were similar to the Greek
(T.E.A.). Ilavi was a second class reservist, unruly tending to have criminal behavior.
48
Christopher Naltsas ( ),
(: IMXA, 1958), 55. Greek Consul Dispatch 1903/ No 604).

17

Despite the fact that the vast majority of the victims (and their properties) were Greeks,49 the
FYROM historiography has re-baptized the victims Vlachs, Albanians, and Macedonians.50
Thus, if the FYROM historiographers call the Greek victims Macedonians, they identify
themselves to the Greeks making the Macedonians ethnically Greeks. This means that the FYROM
historiographers have invalidated their own contention that the Macedonians were not ethnically
Greeks.
If on the other hand, the historiographers call the Bulgarian villains Macedonians, they admit
guilt and responsibility for the atrocities that the liberators of Krushevo inflicted during the life of
their ephemeral republic. The Preamble of the FYROM, draws its legitimacy from the Republic of
Krushevo, which makes it a modern komitadji state. In this case, the government of the FYROM
should relinquish any and all claims as a nation of victims that the Krushevo Memorial aka
Makedonium represents.
But how is it possible for the villains and the victims of the Ilinden Revolt to belong to the same
ethnic group? Which ethnicity does the FYROM government honor in the Krushevo Memorial?
Looking at the names of the honorees, one cannot but conclude that the government of the FYROM
honors the villains, the Bulgarian bandit-rebels, the thugs, and the criminal elements re-naming them
Macedonians who killed innocent civilians, i.e. Greeks and destroyed their properties.
A symposium that took place on 27, 28 and 29 May 1968 in Ohrid, on the occasion of the 65-year
anniversary of the Ilinden Revolt. Mihailo Apastoloski gathered all information regarding the Revolt in
Krushevo and published a book entitled Ilinden 1903, in 1970.51 On page 599 of the book
Apostoloski offers a folklore song commemorating Krushevos battle.

Fire burns in Krushevo,


In Krushevo, the small Greece,
Behind Krushevos Bear Rock
Pitu Guli and 6,000 young men
threw themselves to combat.

49

Nicholas Ballas ( ), (: IMXA, 1962), 37-66.


Christopher Naltsas ( ),
(: IMXA, 1958), 18-22. Greek Consul Dispatch 1903/ No 604)
50
Nikola Kirov-Majski, (Krushovo and its battle for freedom) (:
, 1935), passim. Keith Brown, The Past in Question: Modern Macedonia and the
Uncertainties of Nation Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 2003), 17, 79, 81-82, 96, 225.
51

Mihailo Apostolski, Ilinden 1903 (Skopje: Institut za nacionalna istorija, 1970) 599.
18

The behavior and reaction of the Greek political elite between 1878 and 1904 was at best
inexcusable. To this effect was Pavlos Melas message to Bishop Karavangelis I have read your
report [to the appropriate people] at the Ministry [of Foreign Affairs]. These people here are asleep.
What can I do?52 The importance of Macedonia was remarked by Pavlos Melas to George Sourlas,
the director of schools at Nymphaion, "Macedonia is the lung of Greece; without it the rest of Greece
would be condemned to death."53
Indifference, negligence, procrastination, and sketchiness employed by the Greek political elite
and the bureaucrats of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) only impeded the work of the
Greek resistance against the Bulgarians in Macedonia.54 Besides, such an attitude gave the
impression to the Great Powers that the Greek population of Macedonia was non-existent since the
only ones fighting for freedom were the Bulgarians.55
While the Bulgarian komitadjis were well funded by the Bulgarian government and were well
armed and trained by Bulgarian officers, the Macedonian Greeks had nothing of the kind. The
Macedonian Greeks requested funding, training, and moral support from the leadership of Greece
and the Patriarchate and the only response they received was patience.56
What makes the matter worse is the fact that the weapons the komitadjis used to murder Greeks
were bought in Greek markets and military warehouses of the Kingdom of Greece. Furthermore, the
weapons (Gras, Mauser, Mannlicher-Schnauer) were transported to the Bulgarian komitadjis in
Macedonia by Greek mule drovers or .57 On at least one occasion, one of the chief
komitadjis, Vasil Tsakalarov, went in person to Athens to buy weapons.58
That Macedonia remained ethnically, socially, ecclesiastically, and linguistically Greek is because
of the determination, devotion to Hellenism, and patriotism of its own sons and daughters and to their
brave Cretan brethren who came to their assistance, not because of the current Greek political elite.
. . ;; Germanos Karavagelis
( ), (: , 1958), 17.
53
Douglas Dakin, The Greek Struggle in Macedonia, 1897-1913 (Thessaloniki: IMXA, 1966), 2n.
54
F. R. Bridge, ed., Austro-Hungarian documents relating to the Macedonian struggle, 1896-1912
(Thessaloniki: Institute for Balkan Studies, 1976), 104.
55
Thomas Frederick Tout, An Advanced History of Great Britain (New York: Longmans, Green, 1920)
680-1; Christopher Naltsas ( ),
(: IMXA, 1958), 13, 14, 19; Germanos Karavagelis ( ),
(: , 1958), 8-9, 17, 25, 44.
56
Germanos Karavagelis ( ), (: , 1958), 15.
57
Christopher Naltsas ( ),
(: IMXA, 1958), 12. Nicholas Ballas ( ),
(: IMXA, 1962), 40.
58
Germanos Karavagelis ( ), (: , 1958), 12).
52

19

Only when individuals and organizations exerted pressure on the consequent Greek governments
did Greece start supporting the struggle for survival of the Macedonian Greeks.59
The IMRO made political bedfellows with the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), aka
Young Turks, whom they assisted in their revolution of 1908. During WWI, members of the IMRO
fought as part of Bulgarias 11th Infantry Division demonstrating their brutality that surpassed even
the cruelty of the bashibozuk forces. Pursuant to Article 118 of the Treaty of Neuilly, dated
November 27, 1919, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, requested the extradition from
Bulgaria of 1,662 persons accused of having committed an act in violation of the laws and customs
of war,60 216 of whom were leaders of the IMRO.61 Members of the IMRO exhibited similar brutality
against their internal and external foes, whether as part of a power struggle or a mere antagonism,
turning the constant assassinations into a war of extermination, which lasted about 40 years. Other
members participated in terrorist activities killing indiscriminately the same citizens they theoretically
defended and destroying properties of the same people they purportedly protected. During WWI, the
IMRO as an organization seems to have faded away. In fact, its leadership was as a chameleon
constantly modifying its doctrine and means of delivery, but not its goal.
In the 1920s, the IMRO established itself as such a formidable force in Bulgaria that it effectively
controlled the region of Pirin, becoming a state within the state in the strategic southwest corner of
Bulgaria. The organization used its controlling district as its staging area for raids against Serbia and
Greece. Under pressure, Bulgarias Prime Minister Stamboliyski signed the Ni Agreement on
March 23, 1923 under which Bulgaria would undertake the obligation to stop the IMRO from raiding
Serbian lands in exchange for Serbias support of Bulgarias claim over Western Thrace at the
expense of Greece.
As already mentioned, the IMRO became known for its brutality. To understand the brutality of
the IMRO bandits, one has to know that in Bulgaria on June 9, 1923, a military coup took place

59

Christopher Naltsas ( ),
(: IMXA, 1958), 13. Douglas Dakin, The Greek Struggle in Macedonia, 1897-1913
(Thessaloniki: IMXA, 1966), 46/fn16, 35/fn34, 142, 173, 179/fn 118-119, etc.
60
ARTICLE 118
The Bulgarian Government recognises the right of the Allied and Associated Powers to bring before military
tribunals persons accused of having committed acts in violation of the laws and customs of war. Such persons
shall, if found guilty, be sentenced to punishments laid down by law. This provision will apply notwithstanding
any proceedings or prosecution before a tribunal in Bulgaria or in the territory of her allies.
The Bulgarian Government shall hand over to the Allied and Associated Powers or to such one of them as shall
so request, all persons accused of having committed an act in violation of the laws and customs of war, who are
specified either by name or by the rank, office, or employment which they held under the Bulgarian authorities.
61
Joseph S. Roucek, Balkan Politics: International Relations in No Mans Land, Westport, CT: Greenwood,
1971), 152 fn 8.

20

organized by the Secret Army Union, supported by the bourgeois parties and the king. Although the
Bulgarian Communist Party remained neutral, faithful to its policy on Macedonias autonomy, the
IMRO participated in the coup dtat against Stamboliyski and his legally elected government. The
latters stance on the maintenance of Macedonias status quo was unbearable to IMROs leadership.
Soon after the coup and Stamboliyskis return to civilian life (June 14, 1923), IMRO agents captured
him and his brother at their farm in Slavovica, near Pazardik. In an indication of their wrath, the
assassins tortured him and his brother, cut off his right hand that signed the Ni Agreement, stabbed
him 60 times, and decapitated both before burying them.62

62

Barbara Jelavich, History of the Balkans, Twentieth Century (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1984), 2, 170.

21

How to Create a Political Ethnogenesis

In pursuing their goal for an autonomous and eventually independent Macedonia under the
IMRO, its leadership negotiated with Comintern in Vienna. On May 6, 1924, the IMRO came to an
agreement under which the USSR would assist them in the creation of a Balkan Federation uniting
all parts of geographical Macedonia in exchange for IMROs services of destabilizing Bulgaria,
Greece, and Serbia. The Agreement of the two parties was published in the Vienna newsletter La
Federation Balkanique on July 15, 1924.63 In Vienna, after some internal dissention, the left wing
leadership of the IMRO founded a purely communist organization, the Internal Macedonian
Revolutionary Organization (United) (IMRO-U) as a subsidiary of the Bulgarian Communist Party.64
The founder and first leader of the Bulgarian Communist Party, Dimitar Blagoev, modified the idea of
a Balkan Federation on a socialist basis, i.e. a gradual rapprochement of existing pro-communist
regimes.65 Dimitar Vlahov, being himself a communist, pursued the same line as well. During the
same period, the two prominent right wing leaders of the IMRO, Protogerov and Aleksandrov, were
assassinated leaving Mihajlov as the only right wing leader.
In the meantime, in 1922 Bulgarian migrs from Macedonia Greece, affiliated with IMRO,
organized the pro-Bulgarian Macedonian Political Organization (MPO) (re-baptized in 1952 as the
Macedonian Patriotic Organization) in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois and they
contributed large sums of money to the IMRO. The MPO directed all resources to educating their
American-born descendants in spirit of the Macedonian aspiration which is the liberation of
Macedonia.66 They were and still are followers of the Mihailov doctrine, which according to the
Skopje Academician, Ivan Katardjiev, stood for the establishment of an independent Macedonian
state, which meant a Macedonian state of the Bulgarians in Macedonia.
In the 1930s, under pressure from the Greek and Serbian governments and the threat of war with
Greece, the Bulgarian Prime Minister, General Kimon Georgiev, grasped the nettle and destroyed
IMROs stronghold in the area of Pirin and captured more than 300 leaders of the IMRO and
armaments that could fully equip an infantry division.

63

L. S. Stavrianos, The Balkan Federation Movement A Neglected Aspect, The American Historical Review,
48, 1 (Oct., 1942), 30-51; 46.
64
Dimitar Bechev, Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Macedonia (Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow, 2009),
xxx.
65
L. S. Stavrianos, The Balkan Federation Movement A Neglected Aspect, The American Historical Review,
48, 1 (Oct., 1942), 30-51; 35.
66
Joseph S. Roucek, Balkan Politics: International Relations in No Mans Land, Westport, CT: Greenwood,
1971), 157.

22

The IMRO understood that all other ethnic groups living in Macedonia, i.e. Greeks, Jews,
Albanians, Vlachs, Turks, etc. could unconsciously be used as pawns in IMROs plans since, as
socialists, the IMRO had embraced equality and fraternity, and what was left was liberty which they
advocated. It is what the slogans Autonomous Macedonia and Macedonia for the Macedonians
were all about.67 Article I of the IMRO Constitution stated, The purpose of the Macedonian
Revolutionary Committee is to gain complete political autonomy for Macedonia.68 But while equality
and fraternity meant for the IMRO the Bulgarization of all Macedonian nationalities, for the Young
Turks it meant the Turkification of the same.69
IMRO-Us determination, constant political maneuvering, continuous political lobbying, and
unholy but suitable alliances led to the decision of the Central Committee of the Comintern to ensue,
in support of their fellow communists, the recognition of a third Slavic ethnic group in the south
Balkans in addition to the already existing Serbs and Bulgarians. Subsequently, the birth of the
Macedonian Slav nation took place on February 11, 1934.70 To that effect, Stalins understanding
of the national and colonial question, his definitions of nation and colonialism along with the political
subservience of the Socialist Workers Party of Greece (SWPG), aka, Communist Party of Greece
(CPG), were essential.71
Joseph Stalin, a Marxist, and the Bolsheviks' expert on nationhood considered that all colonies
and dependent territories have the right to separate completely from the State with which they are
connected and to form an independent State; in the same way, the possibility of territorial
annexations is ruled out.72 Per Stalin, a nation is not racial, nor is it tribal, but a historically
constituted community of people. Since nations are autonomous unions of persons regardless of
their ethnic background, ethnicity is not essentially connected with territory.73 Subsequently, the fact
that Macedonias population was ethnically heterogeneous did not matter. Stalin, in a discussion

67

Christ Anastasoff, Bulgaria's National Struggles, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social
Science, 232, A Challenge to Peacemakers (Mar., 1944), 101-106; 104.
68
Joseph S. Roucek, Balkan Politics: International Relations in No Mans Land, Westport, CT: Greenwood,
1971), 151.
69
E. H. W., The Macedonian Question: A Note on the Historical Background, Bulletin of International
News, 22, 12 (Jun. 9, 1945), 511.
70
Dimitar Vlahov, Memoari (Skopje : Nova Makedonija, 1970), 357; Dimitar Bechev, Historical Dictionary of
the Republic of Macedonia (Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow, 2009), xxx-xxxi; Hugh Poulton, Who are the
Macedonians? (London: C. Hurst), 2000, 98.
71
Joseph Stalin, Marxism and the National Question (Calcutta: Mass Pubications, 1975, and Joseph Stalin,
Marxism and the National and Colonial Question (New York: International Publishers, 1934). Eleftherios
Stavridis, ... (, 1953).
72
Joseph Stalin, Marxism and the National and Colonial Question (New York: International Publishers, 1934,
passim).
73
Joseph Stalin, Marxism and the National Question (Calcutta: Mass Pubications, 1975), passim.

23

with Vyacheslav Molotov, Edvard Kardelj, Milovan Djilas, Valeriy Zorin, admitted that the definition of
nation as it appears in his book Marxism and the National Question, That was Ilyich's - Lenin's
view. Ilyich also edited the book."74
The separate Macedonian ethnicity that the communists saw in the beginning of the 20th
century was faithful to Marxist theories on nationhood, as a product of the advent of capitalism to
Macedonia [sic] in the 19th century rather a primordial fact.75 Therefore, the IMRO believed that
Macedonia and Thrace ought to be aided by the communists in their effort towards independence.76
Nikolaos Sargologos, the representative of the SWPG, voted for the resolution that recognized the
Macedonian Slav ethnicity without the authorization of the Central Committee of the SWPG.77 That
put the Greek Communists in a very difficult position because such a vote strengthened the
Bulgarian Communist Party while it weakened the Greek. The Yugoslav delegation, realizing that
such a recognition went against the interests of their national party, voted against it. Besides,
important members of the Central Committee such as Yannis Kordatos, Thomas Apostolidis, Lefteris
Stavridis, et al. strongly disagreed with Sargologos vote.78
Sargologos, knowing the consequences, instead of returning to Athens, pocketed US$7,500 that
the Comintern gave him for his support of the SWPG and emigrated with his German wife to
Chicago, Illinois.79 On another account, the sum that Sargologos pocketed was US$15,000 which in
2014 equal approximately US$264,830.80
Just before WWII and after the Maek - Cvetkovi Agreement, Macedonists wanted to
renegotiate the borders of their Banate by splitting their Macedonia from the rest of Vardar
Banovina while inserting the recognition of their ancient Macedonian ancestry. The objections of
the Serb classicist, Nikola Vuli, that the addition into the history of ancient Macedonian ancestry
was dishonest and deceiving, since a Slavic nation has no ancient Macedonian Greek ancestry,
were to no avail.81
It is ironic that during the Macedonian Struggle the Bulgarian komitadjis did not recognize the
Greek character of Macedonia even though it was inhabited by the descendants of Alexanders the

74

Milovan Djilas, Conversation with Stalin (New York: Harcourt, Brace& World, 1962), 156-7.
Dimitar Bechev, Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Macedonia (Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow, 2009),
235.
76
Harold Laski, Communism, (London: Cass, 1968), 218.
77
Eleftherios Stavridis, ... (, 1953), 178.
78
Eleftherios Stavridis, ... (, 1953), 180-183.
79
Eleftherios Stavridis, ... (, 1953), 174-180.
80
Christos Christides, Le Camouflage macedonien (Athens, 1949), 121 in Joseph Rothschild,
81
Ivan Katardzhiev, (After the heights of Macedonian history),
Skopje 1986, 376-377.
75

24

Great Macedonians. At the instructions of Imperial Russia and its Pan-Slavists, the Bulgarians
refused to recognize the birthright of the Macedonian Greeks to their own land.82 Andrija Radovis
indications of the linguistic sacrifices of the Croats in the name of a South Slavic union were also
ineffective. In Radovis opinion, what the Macedonists wanted was ethnocentric and wrong.83
While Vuli built his arguments on ancient history, Radovi, a staunch unionist of Serbia and
Montenegro, based his assertion on the compromise that the Croatian Illyrian Movement
successfully advocated for the name of a united South Slavic state (Yugoslavia). The Croats had
accepted the tokavian / -ije dialect as their own language instead of the Zagreb Kajkavian, choosing
a unifying factor over a divisive one, while the Macedonists favored the opposite. 84 Later in 1944,
with the Yugoslavian Communist Party in power, the Macedonists did exactly what they had wanted
to do in 1939. The Peoples Republic of Macedonia within the Yugoslav federation was a fact.
Marxism was the basis for the establishment of Socialist Yugoslavia as interpreted by Aleksandar
Rankovic and later by Edvard Kardelj. Although Tito was blamed that created a new philosophy, he
clarified,
Titoism as a separate ideological line does not exist .... To put it as an ideology would be
stupid .... it is simply that we have added nothing to Marxist-Leninist" doctrine. We have only
applied that doctrine in consonance with our situation. Since there is nothing new, there is no new
ideology. Should Titoism become an ideological line, we would become revisionists; we would
have renounced Marxism. We are Marxists; I am a Marxist, and therefore I cannot be a Titoist.85

With the exception of Greece, the outcome of WWII gave the communist parties of the Balkans
the opportunity to set the foundations of the Balkan federation, oscillating between the socialist and
communist understanding of such federation. The difference is that in the socialist view the
territories of each country would remain the same forming a gradual rapprochement of existing
communist regimes. In the communist view, Macedonia would form a new country and the

82

Nicholas Ballas ( ), (: IMXA, 1962), 47.


Ivan Katardzhiev, (After the heights of Macedonian history),
Skopje 1986, 381-382.
84
What Radovi meant was that the Croats had adopted the Slavonian Ijekavian sub-dialect of the to dialect
as their literary language giving up the Kaj proper dialect, which is spoken in the areas between Zagreb and
Hungary. Croats living in South Slovenia and western Croatia speak the south Slovenian Kaj whereas the
Dalmatian Ikavian is spoken in Dalmatia, northwestern Herzegovina, and central Bosnia. The a dialects (a
jekav, a ikav, a - ikavo-ekavian, a ekav, to - akavian Ikavian) are spoken in Istria and the islands
of the Adriatic Sea.
85
Vladimir Dedijer, Josip Broz Tito Prilozi za Biografiju (Zagreb: Kultura, 1953), 432.
83

25

remaining territories of each country would form a new country, the Balkan Soviet Socialist
Federation. The last one would include Greece with its borders in Thessaly.
During the Greek civil war, former members of the IMRO fought in units known as the SlavoMacedonian National Liberation Movement, aka SNOF, having Bulgarian commanding officers and
political commissars or politruk as part of the Greek communist units of ELAS-EAM.86 They were
responsible for the kidnapping of about 28,000 Greek children from all over Greece as documented
in the U.S. Congress (HR 514/1950) and the UN (UNGA Resolutions 193/1948 and 288/1949).
Upon defeat of the communist forces, the members of SNOF, while leaving Greece for
Yugoslavia, intimidated the Slavophone population telling them that when the Greek Army comes to
their area, they would kill them all. Those who believed them left with their families for Yugoslavia.
But not all the Slavophones fell for the communist trap. Those Slavophones who stayed back were
rewarded the same protection that all citizens of Greece enjoyed.

86

Mark Mazower, The Balkans: A short Story (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2000), 4950.

26

Conclusion
God helps those who help themselves. 87
One hundred years have passed since Macedonia returned to Mother Greece. The Macedonian
Struggle of Greece continues against the descendants of the komitadjis. More than one hundred
years later, the aims of the modern komitadjis are the same, to bring Macedonia under their control.
In the past, politicians and diplomats have used deceptive arguments in order to exploit
unsuspecting Clergy as their tool to their machinations at the expense of national interests. If
politicians were sure about the earnestness of their intentions, they should make their case known
directly to the Greek people. In the year 2012, the danger to Greece still does not come from
Turkey, but from the descendants of the Bulgarian komitadjis.
At present, the same countries, which in the mid 19th century created the problem known as the
Macedonian Question for their own political reasons, are offering their services to solve the problem
by implementing their past failed foreign policies. Support on the name issue offered to the FYROM
by political parties and individuals should not surprise anyone. They follow Stalins prescription.
While the EU and NATO pressure Greece to compromise with Skopje on the name issue, Skopje
has launched a deceptive all out political and media attack utilizing its modern Sarafovs i.e. the
United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) winning the hearts and minds of foreign journalists (paying
them, as well), governments (lobbying and donating money to politicians campaigns), and the
common folk. They work as the Narodniki had done more a century ago following Marxism to the T.
The modern Narodniki give precious time and advantage to the FYROM, which hopes that even if
the country is forced to compromise on its name, the most valuable assets that communism, i.e.
Marxism through Edvard Kardelj, provided to them, the so-called ethnic identity that did not exist
before 1934 and language, unheard of before 1944, would not be touched. In Skopjes prevailing
opinion, the ethnic identity of a Slavic nation as Macedonian is the threshold to future territorial
claims in spite of any present agreement on the countrys name. The standardization of the
Macedonian[sic] language, the creation of an autocephalous Macedonian [sic] Orthodox Church and

87

A wealthy Athenian sailed with others. And after severe weather struck, and after the ship was overthrown
everyone else swam trying to save themselves, the wealthy man kept praying to Athena. He was promising
myriad things to Athena once he was saved asking for Athenas intervention. One of the shipwrecked men
went next to him and said: Along with prayers to Athena move your hands.

27

the new interpretations of history reinforced the Macedonian identity.88 The Macedonian Struggle
is here to stay, regardless of how modern politicians view it.

88

John Lampe and Mark Mazower, Ideologies and National Identities: The Case of Twentieth-Century
Southeastern Europe (New York: CEU Press, 2004), 112.

28

, [28] 1912.

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