By Marcus A. Templar
This year, Greeks all over the world are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the liberation of
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 . While today the Macedonians celebrate the
capture of the city and indeed the return of the White Tower
the Great back to its motherland, others challenge the present status quo. land of Alexander
The Greek Army entered
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
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. Macedonia
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.
Because it is important for the Greeks to know what the Macedonian fighters were facing, I am offering a summary of five chapters of an upcoming book that I am preparing under the working title
MACEDONIA: , Myths, and
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 (Papazoglu 1957, 4 & 333; 1978, 268). 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, homogeneous groups, and they were unable to resist the attraction of a
higher cultural environment” (Dvornik 1970, 42).
In the beginning of 1902, the Greek Prime Minister, Alexander Zaimis, openly admitted, “the chief threat to Hellenism in
came, not from the Ottoman Turks, but from the Bulgarians” (F. R. Bridge 1976, 91). The continuous political and military
involvement of the Great Powers
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, Macedonian Bulgarian intellectuals 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 Macedonian Bulgarian idealists 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.
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. The candidate for the patriarchal throne, Gregorios VI, in order to fulfill his ambition, asked Count Nikolay Ignatyev, the Russian Ambassador in
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” (Ignatyev dispatch No. 128, May 14, 1867). Patriarch Gregorios VI probably thought of an autonomous
Church within the territories between the Balkan Mountain range and . The Patriarch was in for a big
surprise. Danube River
Three years later (February 27/ March 11, 1870) and after a couple more Bulgarian and Russian proposals, Sultan Abdülaziz issued a decree (fırman), 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 whole of
north of the Balkan Mountain range (the old Roman Moesia Inferior), plus the
regions of Sofia and Niš. In
addition, the Exarchate received parts of
the upper Struma valley and the dioceses of Plovdiv
(Philippoupolis) and Sliven
(Sēlymnos), under the banner of the autonomous Greek Church.
One man, Stojan Čomakov, the Russophobe Bulgarian extremist, who was an influential official in the Ottoman administration, was behind Article X of the decree that established the Exarchate (Sumner 1933, 567, 568). 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 (Sumner 1933, II, passim).
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 (Yosmaoğlu 2006, passim). Besides, the example offered by the Gevgeli District Governor of the
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 (Yosmaoğlu 2006, 62). Province of Rumeli
Thus, the unintended consequence of a well-disposed Patriarch would cost thousands of people’s 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 (Sumner 1933, 569).
Indeed, on the 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 Greeks of Macedonia. At first, he divided them and then he fueled
By 1895, the Bulgarians claimed 600 to 700 schools with 25,000 to 30,000 pupils and by 1912 seven bishoprics in
under the jurisdiction of the Exarchate (Stavrianos 1963, 98). But according to Greek sources, by the time of
the Balkan Wars (1913) 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 (Bechev 2009, 68).
Because of the failure of the Constantinople Conference (1876 – 1877), two important conventions took place in 1877 between
Russia and . The one took place in Austria-Hungary Budapest on January 15, 1877 and the other in Reichstadt (present-day ) on July 8, 1877 (Onou 1932, II, 627,
636). The participants in both meetings
on the Russian side were Emperor Alexander II and Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Prince A. M. Gorčakov, and on the Austro-Hungarian side Emperor Francis Joseph
and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gyula Andrássy. The Austrian Emperor introduced the idea of
an autonomous Zákupy, Czech
Republic Macedonia as
part of 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 Greek region of Macedonia and the area of Pelagonia
(Monastiri/Bitola, Ohrid areas).
The belief that Ignatyev created Macedonism or he is responsible for bringing the Bulgarian ethnicity into the foreground is false. It is the result of the misinterpretation of facts. The artificial ethnicity that Ignatyev was accused of creating was the Bulgarian, not the Macedonian Bulgarian. “Ignatyev was neither the creator of Bulgarian nationalism nor the initiator of the struggle for a
independent of the
Patriarchate. The origins of the modern
era recognition goes back to the generation before the Crimean War,” i.e. 1833 (Sumner
1933, II, 566, Anastasoff 1944, 103). 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 Bulgarian Church Russia
wanted had come from St. Petersburg
(Sumner 1933, II, 566-7).
Although at present, the basis for the Serbian literary language is the Northern Ekavian, until 1878 the literary language of
was the Eastern Herzegovinian. Istočno-hercegovački or Eastern Herzegovinian
dialect is spoken in eastern Herzegovina,
NW Montenegro, the Sandzhak of
Novi Pazar or Raška, 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 Raška” (Dovrnik 1970,
38). The Serbs “built the city [Raška]
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 [Raška], where the bishopric
of Ras was the national religious center” (Dovrnik 1970, 254, 257). Porphyrogenitus refers to it as Ράση - Rasi
(De Administrando Imperio, 32, 53).
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 Gorčakov’s Austro-phobia, the Russians accepted the expansion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to lands west of the
River ( Bosnia
and Herzegovina) depriving Serbia
from expanding west and giving Serbia
no choice but to expand south. Austro-Hungarian
(Andrássy) and Russian (Gorčakov) machinations regarding Serbia and Bulgaria,
the two Ottoman controlled Slavic peoples of the south Balkans, generated the
Council of Berlin and all its political and social costs, and pushed both
Serbian and Bulgarian nationalism to compete over the same territory.
The Macedonian Bulgarian regionalism developed out of their resentment of the struggle between Serbian and Bulgarian nationalisms. Serb politicians and ethnographers such as Stojan Novaković, Jovan Cvijić, Aleksandar Belić, et al. argued that the inhabitants of present day FYROM territories spoke dialects that belonged to the transitional Serbian dialects, i.e. Torlak dialects. Between 1890 and 1900, Bulgarian governments sponsored ethnographers to draw maps of
to include the territories west of Bulgaria that fit their political
and territorial aspirations (Djordjević
Vasil Kunčov, one of the enlisted inventive ethnographers, created a map of a new
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 (Carnegie Report 1914, 28; Yosmaoğlu
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 boosted Bulgaria’s 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.
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). Members of the organization could be “any Bulgarian, irrespective of gender, who is not compromised by something wicked” (Lazarov et al. 1993, 218).
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
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 People’s 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" (Miller 2009, 444). Since
had already placed the plan of changing the borders of Macedonia to
its liking, 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 thought themselves as Macedonians. It must be noted that most of the leadership and membership of the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) were born and reared in
Macedonia proper, i.e. the Greek region of Macedonia 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 (Misirkov 1974, 159). He used “Macedonians” only when the topic explicitly concerned the Macedonian Bulgarians. He also used “Macedonian Slavs.” Misirkov oftentimes mentioned passim that all other nationalities living in
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
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
the 1903 essay Misirkov “was not as outspoken as he had been in publishing
these ideas,” probably from fear of political persecution (Misirkov 1974, 222). 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” (Misirkov 1974, 226). The
“scientific way” that Misirkov had mentioned meant the scientific communism of
Marxism-Leninism, 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. Sofia, Bulgaria
In his interview with the Greek newspaper, Akropolis, Nikola Karev identified his ethnicity as Bulgarian, but then he said that he was a Macedonian (Utrinski vesnik, July 22, 2000, Archive No 329). Mrs. Elefterija Vambakovska of the
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 Macedonian Bulgarian. Macedonian
Greeks similarly identify themselves as ethnically Greeks, but within the Greek
domain they identify themselves as Macedonians, Thracians, Cretans, Thessalians,
etc. based on the location of their birth. Such designation is strictly geographical as
Misirkov correctly stated (Misirkov 1974, 159).
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 Uprising, something
refutes. Considering Misirkov’s explanation,
there is no contradiction in Karev’s statement. Institute of National
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
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 the Macedonian Bulgarian thinking abroad was the response of Rostkovski, the Russian Consulate in Monastiri (
Bitola), who 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!” (Misirkov 1974), 44).
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 Principality’s. The implementation of their political ideology, along with their desire for the liberation of
bondage, boosted their regionalism, which translated into a new identity, the Macedonian Slav.
The regionalism furthermore was deemed necessary because under the name Macedonian Slavs, the Slav speakers who lived in
disassociate from those Bulgarians of the Principality. Misirkov had explicitly argued against such
practice as being deceptive (Misirkov 1974, 36-85 passim). The event that
boosted the argument of the Macedonian Bulgarians 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.
The objective of the IMRO leadership of an autonomous and eventually independent
Macedonia would be noble if their
ultimate motives were noble. The IMRO leadership
realized that it would be an uphill battle to topple a well-established and
diplomatically recognized Bulgarian Principality’s 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 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
Uprising, 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 IMRO’s right wing leadership.
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. Because of 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 (Karavagelis 1958, 23-27; Dakin 1966,
150-1). 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 Uprising, the aid was
distributed only to the Exarchists in collaboration with the Bulgarian komitadis
(Karavagelis 1958, 26; Dakin 1966, 157 fn 35).
The Myth of Liberation: 1903 - The “People’s Republic of Krushevo”
On St. Elijah Day of Configuration (July 20/August 2, 1903) in the town of
Krushevo, 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, Kirov’s cousin, was a well-known member
of the Bulgarian Workers’ Social Democratic Party, i.e. communist (Brown 2003,
190, 209; Gawrych 1986, 308).
In 1924, Nikola Kirov-Majski published a book and a theatrical play, Ilinden, and in the second act, second scene of the play, the character of the “teacher” reads the manifesto to Nikola Karev, the President of the
. Karev, tells the teacher to translate it into
Turkish and disseminate it to the Turkish villages of the area (Majski. – ЦДА Fund. 933К, оп. 1, а.е. 124, л.
1–3). 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 Krushevo Republic Skopje promotes as original is in conflict with what Kirov states in his book published in 1935, which in fact
diary, of the 10 day Ilinden Uprising, versus the book published in 1924, which
was the basis for a theatrical play.
According to Kirov-Majski, on July 24, 1903, Taško P. Hristov, a parliamentarian, took the original document to the Turkish
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 (Kirov 1935, 56). From there, Sinan sent the ultimatum to the
Turkish villages of Lažani (180
households) and Debrište (250
households) which returned their response to Sinan. The letter-ultimatum served a dual
purpose: first, to make clear the
purpose of the Uprising, and second, to serve as a warning to the Turkish
population that any collaboration with the Ottoman Army would be punishable by
death (Kirov 1935, 56 - 57). Under the threatening
conditions set by the Bulgarian revolutionaries, all three villages agreed not
to assist the Ottoman troops if and when they would arrive (Kirov 1935, 57). village of Adalci
Concerning the events of the Uprising, the Bulgarian komitadjis killed innocent Greeks, burned and pillaged only Greek houses, and in general destroyed only Greek properties (Ballas 1962, 37-66; Naltsas 1958, 18-22). 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 (Naltsas 1962,55; Greek Consul Dispatch 1903/ No 604). Over and above the regular forces, the başıbozuk, an irregular force, the Grey Wolves of the period, came to Krushevo in order to aid the ungodly work of the Ottoman Army (Naltsas 1962, 55).
The toll of destruction inflicted by the Bulgarian revolutionaries and the incoming Turkish Army was 366 houses and 203 shops, all belonging to Greeks and Greek speaking Vlachs. In total, 41 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 Consul’s dispatch.
Despite the fact that the vast majority of the victims (and their properties) were Greeks and Greek speaking Vlachs (Ballas 1962, 37-66; Naltsas 1958, 18-22; Greek Consul Dispatch 1903/ No 604), the FYROM historiography has re-baptized the victims Vlachs, Albanians, and “Macedonians” (Kirov 1935, passim; Brown 2003, 17, 79, 81-82, 96, 225).
Thus, if the FYROM historiographers call the Greek victims “Macedonians,” their contention that the ancient Macedonians were not ethnically Greeks is invalid. If on the other hand, the historiographers call the Bulgarian villains “Macedonians,” they admit guilt and responsibility for the atrocities of the “liberators” of Krushevo during the life of their ephemeral republic. The Preamble of the current komitadji state, the FYROM, draws its legitimacy from the
. In this case, the government of the FYROM
should relinquish any and all claims as a “nation of victims” that the Krushevo
Memorial represents. Republic of Krushevo
But how is it possible for the villains and the victims of the Ilinden Uprising 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 and destroyed their properties.
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?”  (Karavagelis 1958, 17). 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" (Dakin 1966, 2n).
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
(F. R. Bridge 1976, 104). 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
(Tout 1918, 680-1; Naltsas 1958, 13, 14, 19; Karavagelis 1958, 8-9, 17, 25,
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” (Karavangelis
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
Furthermore, the weapons (Gras, Mauser, Mannlicher-Schönauer) were transported
to the Bulgarian komitadjis in Kingdom of Greece Macedonia
by Greek mule drivers or αγωγιάτες (Naltsas
1958, 12; Ballas 1962, 40). On at least
one occasion, one of the chief komitadjis, Vasil Tsakalarov, went in person to Athens to buy weapons (Karavagelis
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 their brave Cretan brethren who came to their assistance, not because of the current Greek political elite. Only when individuals and organizations exerted pressure on the consequent Greek governments did
supporting the struggle for survival of the Macedonian Greeks (Naltsas 1958,
13; Dakin 1966, 46/fn16, 35/fn34, 142, 173, 179/fn 118-119, etc.).
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 the WWI, members of the IMRO fought as part of
Infantry Division demonstrating their brutality that surpassed even the cruelty
of the başıbozuk forces. They 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 1920’s, 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 their controlling district as their staging area for raids against
Serbia and Greece. Under pressure, Bulgaria’s
Prime Minister Stamboliyski signed the Niš
Agreement on March 23, 1923 under which Bulgaria
would undertake the obligation to stop the IMRO from raiding Serbian lands in
exchange for Serbia’s
support of Bulgaria’s 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
June 9, 1923, a military coup took place 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 Bulgaria Macedonia’s
autonomy, the IMRO participated in the
coup d’état against Stamboliyski and his legally elected government. The latter’s stance on the maintenance of Macedonia’s
status quo was unbearable to IMRO’s leadership.
Soon after the coup and Stamboliyski’s return to civilian life (June 14, 1923), IMRO agents captured him and his
brother at their farm in Slavovica, near Pazardžik. In an indication of their wrath, the
assassins tortured him and his brother, cut off his right hand that signed the Niš Agreement, stabbed him 60 times, and decapitated both before
burying them (Jelavich 1984, 2, 170).
How to Create an Artificial Political Ethnogenesis
In pursuing their goal for an autonomous and eventually independent
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 Macedonia in exchange for the IMRO’s 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 (Stavrianos 1942, 46). 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 (Bechev 2009, xxx). 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
(Stavrianos 1942, 35). 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 émigrés from Greek Macedonia affiliated with the 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” (Roucek 1971, 157). 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 IMRO’s stronghold
in the area of Pirin and captured more than 300 leaders of the IMRO and
armaments that could fully equip an infantry division.
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 IMRO’s 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 (Atanasoff 1944, 104). Article
I of the IMRO Constitution stated, “The purpose of the Macedonian Revolutionary
Committee is to gain complete political autonomy for Macedonia” (Roucek 1971, 151). 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 (E. H. W. 1945, 511).
IMRO-U’s determination, constant political maneuvering, continuous political lobbying, and unholy but appropriate 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 January 11, 1934 (Vlahov 1970, 357; Bechev 2009, xxx-xxxi). To that effect, Stalin’s understanding of the national and colonial question, his definitions of nation and colonialism along with the political subservience of the Socialist Worker’s Party of Greece (SWPG), aka, Communist Party of Greece (CPG), were essential (Stalin 1913 and 1934; Stavridis 1953).
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 (Stalin 1934, passim). 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 (Stalin 1913, passim). Subsequently, the fact that
Macedonia’s population was
ethnically heterogeneous did not matter.
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” (Bechev 2009, 235). Therefore, the IMRO believed that Macedonia and Thrace ought to be aided by the
communists in their effort towards independence (Laski 1968, 218).
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 (Stavridis 1953, 178). 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 (Stavridis 1953, 180-183). Knowing the consequences, Sargologos, 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 (Stavridis 1953, 174-180). Chicago, Illinois
Just before WWII and after the Maček - Cvetković 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 Vulić, 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 (Katardjiev 1986, 376-377).
It is ironic that during the Macedonian Struggle the Bulgarian komitadjis did not recognize the Greek character of
even though it was inhabited by the descendants of Alexander’s the 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 (Ballas 1962, 47). Andrija Radović’s indications of the
linguistic sacrifices of the Croats in the name of a South Slavic union were
also ineffective. In Radović’s opinion,
what the Macedonists wanted was
ethnocentric and wrong (Katardjiev 1986,
While Vulić built his arguments on ancient history, Radović, 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 Štokavian / -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.  Later in 1944, with the Yugoslavian Communist
Party in power, the Macedonists did
exactly what they had wanted to do in 1939.
The People’s Republic of “ Macedonia” within the Yugoslav
federation was a fact.
Marxism was the basis for the establishment of the 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 (Dedijer 1953:432).
With the exception of
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
would form a new country and the remaining territories of each country would
form a new country, the Balkan Soviet
Socialist Federation. The last one
would include Greece, but
with borders in Thessaly.
During the Greek civil war, former members of the IMRO fought in units known as the Slavo-Macedonian National Liberation Movement, aka SNOF, having Bulgarian commanding officers and political commissars or politruk as part of the Greek communist units of ELAS-EAM (Mazower 2000, 49–50). They were responsible for the kidnapping of about 28,000 Greek children from all over
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
God helps those who help themselves. Σὺν Ἀθηνᾷ καὶ σὺ χεῖρα κίνει.
One hundred years have passed since
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
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 directly to the Greek people. In the year 2012, the danger to
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 Stalin’s 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
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
country’s name. “The standardization of
the Macedonian[sic] language, the creation of an autocephalous Macedonian [sic]
Orthodox Church and the new interpretations of history reinforced” the “Macedonian”
identity (Lampe and Mazower 2004, 112). The
Macedonian Struggle is here to stay,
regardless of how modern politicians see it.
 Κυριακή, ΚΗ’  Οκτωβρίου 1912.
Με θερμά δάκρυα, δάκρυα της χαράς εκείνης, πού πλυμηρεί τα στήθη δούλου ανακτώντος την ελευθερίαν του, και δάκρυα της ευγνωμοσύνης εκείνης που κατακλήζει όλην του την ύπαρξιν, δια τον ελευθερωτήν του, χαιρετίζομεν τον ελληνικόν στρατόν εξερχόμενον εις την περίλαμπρον των Θεσσαλονικέων πόλιν.
Το λαμπρόν τούτο τρόπαιον του γεναίου και νικηφόρου ελληνικού στρατού κατακρυμνήζει απο της ελληνικής Μακεδονίας τον ακρογωνιαίον λίθον του Τουρικού κράτους. Του κράτους εκείνου, το οποίον, ως τα βασίλεια των αρχαίων τεράτων ιδρύετο επί στρώματος οστέων. Του κράτους εκείνου, το οποίον κατήντησε συνώνυμον πάσης βαρβαρότητος και φρηκαλεώτητος. Του κράτους εκείνου, το οποίον κρατούν εις την μίαν χείρα τον δαυλόν του εμπρησμού και εις άλλην το φάσγανον του δολοφόνου, έκαιε και εσφάγιαζε την ζωήν και την τιμήν μας, την πίστην και τον εθνισμόν μας, τα ιερά και τα όσιά μας.
Και τώρα η κονιορτοποιημένη πατρίς του Αριστοτέλους και του Αλεξάνδρου, της οποίας κάθε λόφος και κάθε κοιλάς, κάθε γωνία και κάθε σπιθαμή, είνε ποτισμένη με αθώον ελληνικόν αίμα, και έναυλος και εναγχος από τάς οιμωγάς μαρτύρων της Πίστεως και της Πατρίδος, ελευθέρα πλέον ριπτεται εις την θερμήν, την στοργικήναγκάλην της Μητρός Ελλάδος.
Ούτω συνεχίζεται η μεγάλη εποποιία του 21.
 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.
 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.
 “Je bâtis de mes mains, un pont à l' indépendance politique des Bulgares.”
 "L'exarchat, même dans sa forme la plus restrainte, offrait un noyau national qu'on serait libre de développer ultérieurement."… " Ma principale préoccupation dans la question, qui se débattait, a toujours ete de procurer aux bulgares, sans rompre avec les grecs, un corps national en les préservant des efforts de la propagande catholique et protestante et en les conservant aussi à l'orthodoxie et a notre influence."
 This area is called Old Serbia by Serbs. It includes the territory, which was the heart of medieval
i.e. Raška (Sandžak), Kosovo and Metohija and the present day FYROM (except
Pelagonia, which is Macedonia). Sometimes Old Serbia includes Montenegro.
 Torlak dialects (Krašovački, Svrljiš, Lužnički, Vranje, Prizren, Kumanovo Trŭn (Breznik), Belogradčik), are transitional between Serbian and Bulgarian). Of them, Bulgarians consider as Bulgarian those dialects that were spoken inside the borders of
before 1918, namely the dialects around Belogradčik, western of Berkovica,
around Caribrod, Trŭn, Breznik, and Bosilegrad, known as Belogradčik-Trŭn
dialect. On the other, Serbian dialects
are considered those spoken west of the previously mentioned ones around
Knjaževac, Pirot, Leskovac, and Vranje.
Some linguist argue that the Torlak dialects constitute a separate
Slavic linguistic group. The dialect of Skopje is positioned
between Prizren and Kumanovo dialects.
 The BMRC changed a number of names before winding up with the name IMRO.
 The names of the victims, their destroyed properties, their allegiance and other details are recorded in the report of the Greek Consul in Monastiri (
 «Διάβασα τήν ἐκθεσί σου στο ὑπουργεῖο. Μά ἐδῶ κοιμοῦνται. Τί νά σοῦ κάνω ἐγώ;»
 What Radović meant was that the Croats had adopted the Slavonian Ijekavian sub-dialect of the Što 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 Ča dialects (Ča – jekav, Ča – ikav, Ča -
ikavo-ekavian, Ča – ekav, Što - Čakavian – Ikavian) are spoken in Istria and
the islands of the Adriatic Sea.
 Ἀνὴρ πλούσιος Ἀθηναῖος μεθ' ἑτέρων τινῶν ἔπλει. Καὶ δὴ χειμῶνος σφοδροῦ γενομένου καὶ τῆς νηὸς περιτραπείσης, οἱ μὲν λοιποὶ πάντες διενήχοντο, ὁ δὲ Ἀθηναῖος παρ' ἕκαστα τὴν Ἀθηνᾶν
ἐπικαλούμενος μυρία ἐπηγγέλλετο, εἰ περισωθείη. Εἷς δέ τις τῶν συν νεναυαγηκότων
παρανηχόμενος ἔφη πρὸς αὐτόν· Σὺν Ἀθηνᾷ καὶ σὺ χεῖρα κίνει. (Αἲσωπος - Ἀνήρ Ναυαγός).
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 Athena’s intervention. One of the shipwrecked men went next to him and said: Along with prayers to Athena move your hands.