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Macedonia, the Lung of Greece: Fighting an Uphill Battle

By Marcus A. Templar

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 capture 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 Macedonia 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.[1]

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: Land of Illusions, Myths, and Falsities.

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, homogenous 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 Macedonia 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[2] 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.[3] 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”[4] (Ignatyev dispatch No. 128, May 14, 1867). 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 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 Bulgaria 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 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 (Yosmaoğlu 2006, 62).

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).[5]

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 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 (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).

Macedonia Rediscovered
Because of the failure of the Constantinople Conference (1876 – 1877), two important conventions took place in 1877 between Russia and Austria-Hungary. The one took place in Budapest on January 15, 1877 and the other in Reichstadt (present-day Zákupy, Czech Republic) 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 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 Bulgarian Church 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 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 Serbia 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).[6]

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 Drina 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.[7] 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 (Djordjević 1918, 6).

Vasil Kunčov, 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 (Carnegie Report 1914, 28; Yosmaoğlu 2006, passim).

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).[8] 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 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 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 Sofia 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 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 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.

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 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 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 Prof. Katardjiev refutes. Considering Misirkov’s explanation, there is no contradiction in Karev’s statement.

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 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 Macedonia from 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 Macedonia could 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 Krushevo Republic. 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 Skopje promotes as original is in conflict with what Kirov states in his book published in 1935, which in fact is Kirov’s 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 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 (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).

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[9] (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 Republic of Krushevo. In this case, the government of the FYROM should relinquish any and all claims as a “nation of victims” that the Krushevo Memorial represents.

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?” [10] (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 Macedonia (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, 44).

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 1958, 15).

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-Schönauer) were transported to the Bulgarian komitadjis in 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 1958, 12).

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. Only when individuals and organizations exerted pressure on the consequent Greek governments did Greece start 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 Bulgaria’s 11th 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 Bulgaria on 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 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 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 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 Chicago, Illinois (Stavridis 1953, 174-180).

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 Macedonia 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, 381-382).

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. [11] 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 ideologicalline does not exist …. To put it as anideology would be stupid …. it is simply that we have added nothing to Marxist-Lenin­ist” doctrine. We have onlyapplied that doctrine in consonance with our situ­ation. Since there is nothing new, there is no newideology. Should Titoism become an ideologicalline, 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 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 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 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.

God helps those who help themselves. Σὺν Ἀθηνᾷ καὶ σὺ χεῖρα κίνει.[12]
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 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 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 Skopje’s 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.

[1] Κυριακή, ΚΗ’ [28] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] 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.

[4] “Je bâtis de mes mains, un pont à l’ indépendance politique des Bulgares.”

[5] “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.”

[6] This area is called Old Serbia by Serbs. It includes the territory, which was the heart of medieval Serbia, i.e. Raška (Sandžak), Kosovo and Metohija and the present day FYROM (except Pelagonia, which is Macedonia). Sometimes Old Serbia includes Montenegro.

[7] 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 Bulgaria 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.

[8] The BMRC changed a number of names before winding up with the name IMRO.

[9] 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).

[10]«Διάβασα τήν ἐκθεσί σου στο ὑπουργεῖο. Μά ἐδῶ κοιμοῦνται. Τί νά σοῦ κάνω ἐγώ;»

[11] 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 SlovenianKaj 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.

[12] 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: Alongwith prayersto Athena move your hands.

Source: PanMacedonian.info

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