Formation of the Bulgarian Central Campaign Committee (BCCC) in Skopje

At that time the situation in Macedonia was favorable for the creation of an organization of the type considered by Stephanov and Hadzhikimov. The hatred towards the yesterday rulers was replaced by the unhidden joy for their defeat on the battlefield. The Bulgari­an army was expected-with eagerness. In that situation local author­ities were formed spontaneously even before any instructions were received. The requirements of the historical moment always have created the needed personalities. The arrival of Stephanov and Hadzhikimov appeared as the expected spark so the hearts of the people to be inflamed. The locals were eager for patriotic activi­ties.15

It was logical that with their arrival in Skopje Stephanov and Hadzhikimov would contact their old friends: the lawyer Blagoy Popankov, the trader Ilia Atanassov and the doctor Delcho Zografski. They resided in the house of Atanas Atanassov - a relative of Hadzhikimov. Stephanov and Hadzhikimov together with other ac­tivists got down to work before the military actions were concluded. Despite their popularity among the population of Skopje they had some difficulties. People were scattered in the villages because of the bombings. The Germans had just stopped bombing Skopje and the Yugoslav aviation started bombing the bridges over the river Vardar. Under the thunder of the bombs Stephanov and Hadzhiki­mov ran from house to house and got in touch with Ivan Piperkov, Dr. Alexander Georgiev, Strahil Kotsev and of course with Spiro Kitinchev. The time when the said events took place was turbulent, the situation changed with days and hours. The question of power was felt in the air. It was obvious to everyone that the Serbian army would be driven away and together with it will go the hated Serbian authorities. The population could not help to be agitated. Thus on April 8 at 9 p.m. in Galichin Inn - opposite Saint Dimitur church a meeting was held, where the question: “What had to be done?" was put up. What actions should be undertaken in those crucial days in order not to omit, as it had already happened, the precise moment for liberating Macedonia.

On that meeting were present mainly followers of the idea for the liberation through independence of Macedonia, namely: Dimitur Giuzelev, Dimitur Chkatrov, Toma Klenkov, Ivan Piperkov and other popular activists of IMRO as well as members of Yugoslav Communist Party (YCP) - Kotse Stoianov, Angele Petkovski and Ilia Neshovski, invited by Traiko Popov. The latter despite a communist, member of YCP, was an active follower of the idea of IMRO for the creation of a free and independent Bulgarian Macedonian state.16 On that meeting were present the followers of Ivan Mihaylov - D. Tsilev, T. Chundev, D, Kurtov, Simon Andrev, Isak Kalaidzhiev and Nikola Kolarov.17 With the lack of agreement for the accession of Vardar Macedonia to Bul­garia the opinion of the meeting logically tended to the less greater of the two misfortunes - independent Macedonia. Representatives of the German authorities were invited on that meeting as they were regarded as liberators by the local population. The most respectful figure among the Skopje activists was Spiro Kitinchev - follower of Mihaylov who was actually the main organizer.18 On the meeting Dim­itur Chkairov hold one hour speech with which he appealed for the creation of a committee, that would proclaim Macedonia an indepen­dent state under the protection of Germany.

The pure Bulgarian patriotism of the followers of IMRO of Ivan Mihaylov was out of suspicion. That organization, developing the ideas of Gotse Delchev and Todor Alexandrov, saw the solution of the Macedonian question not only in the establishment of autono­mous, but of an independent and free Macedonia. The reason of setting that goal was to create awareness of the difficulties in inter­national aspect about the unification of the Bulgarian lands. This unification had always met the opposition of the Great Powers as well of the Balkan countries. That was why the slogan for an inde­pendent Macedonia had enjoyed numerous followers and on the basis of that idea worked IMRO In that respect things led to an open Bulgarian political separation. In 1941, already in war conditions, Ivan Mihaylov continued to work for the implementation of that idea, but faced the reaction of the official Bulgarian authorities.

The participants in the meeting parted without making any spe­cial decisions, except of the conclusion for a meeting to be convened with greater part of the members for appointing the leaders and working out a programme and a statute of the committee. They print­ed leaflets for the citizens of Skopje, with the signatures of Spiro Kitinchev, Dimitur Chkatrov, Dimitur Giuzelev, Toma Klenkov, Ivan Piperkov and others, appealing for mobilization and resistance to the Serbian administrative authorities remaining in Skopje.19 Never­theless, one gets the impression that the followers of Ivan Mihaylov acted hesitantly as a whole. The reason was in the disagreement among them after the beginning of the World War II. At the change of the foreign policy situation some of the activists revised their ideas of the liberation of Macedonia. In 1940 the Macedonian brother­hoods already wanted accession of Macedonia with Bulgaria and not “independent Macedonia” - a slogan raised by Mihaylov even after the capitulation of Yugoslavia. Some of the leaders, followers of Mihaylov, like the Stanishev brothers, N. Stoianov and many oth­er stand on the positions of the Bulgarian government for accession of Macedonia. That was why there were contradictory positions at the meeting, which impeded the final decision and gave birth to rumors. Perhaps not accidentally in his diary B. Filov wrote about that meeting, calling it “committee”: “On 11 April... Antoni Nikolov (a director of the Vecher state newspaper) shared with me the rumor about a committee in Skopje, which wanted to proclaim the acces­sion of Macedonia to Bulgaria.” It seemed that the official Bulgarian authorities had no direct information about that problem but relied on rumours. However, the following sentence spoke of Filov's lack of orientation about the intentions of Stephanov and Hadzhikimov: “I spoke with Popov and we decided to use the situation and if the rumor turns not to be true to provoke a similar decision.” The Bul­garian government together with the prime minister had no idea that on 9 April Hadzhikimov and Stephanov were already in Skopje and worked for the realization of that idea.

On the same day - April 11, Bogdan Filov had several talks about that and some other matters related to the destiny of Macedonia. He summoned Gabrovski and Sevov and analyzed with them in detail the creation of a committee in Skopje, which to proclaim the accession to Bulgaria. That declaration should be used for foreign policy purposes.

They decided to assign that task to Danail Krapchev, who had al­ready decided to travel to Macedonia, Of course, they had to obtain permission by the Tsar, who was obviously not informed about the mission of Stephanov and Hadzhikimov. At that time they performed their noble deed without asking for anyone's agreement. When the Tsar gave his permission, Filov met Danail Krapchev. The latter was ready to take the responsibility of the mission but by the words of B. Filov, “he was not very sure of the success; as if he did not have enough connections there. He recommended more people to be involved."20 As one could see from Filov's memoir, where Danail Krapchev was powerless, Stephanov and Hadzhikimov were successful.

The name of Danail Krapchev is well known to Bulgarian histo­rians and readers. He was a prestigious journalist, at that time a di­rector of Zora newspaper - one of the widely read newspapers. He was born in Prilep in one of the most active followers of the idea for unification to Bulgaria. In his newspaper Krapchev constantly pub­lished articles in which he popularized the idea of unification of the Bulgarian lands.

The arrival of Stephanov and Hadzhikimov tipped the balance against the idea of independent Macedonia. They explained that riot that type of Macedonia was needed; the situation imposed the need of actions for accession of Vardar Macedonia to Bulgaria and dem­onstrating before the Great Powers the affiliation of the Macedonian population as part of the Bulgarian nation.21

After several days of consultations, discussions and persuasion, on April 13 in the house of Spiro Kitinchev in Skopje where from the participants in the first meeting were present only Ivan Piperk­ov and Spiro Kitinchev, was discussed the situation for the liberation of Macedonia from Serbian and Greek rule. The meeting took place in the yard. It was pointed out that one of the first tasks of the newly formed organization was to regulate the relations with the German authorities. The question about the name of the organization was raised. All present said at once “committee" - that word had gained permanent place in the Bulgarian's mind from the time of the strug­gle against the Turkish enslavers. However, Hadzhikimov insisted that the committee had to be called also “campaign" because it was formed in the name of some action, namely - taking power and ac­cession of Vardar Macedonia to Bulgaria. All further operations of the committee should be subordinated to that main task. In the end the official name on the seal of the committee was CENTRAL CAM­PAIGN COMMITTEE OF MACEDONIA (CCCM). The other com­mittees were called local campaign committees (LCC).

The committees covered all Macedonia in its ethnographic Bulgar­ian borders. The stipulation that was made in Art! of the Resolution of the meeting, namely the territory, liberated from Serbian and Greek rulers, meant not only the territory of Vardar, but also of Aegean Mace­donia On its turn that meant regulation not only of the relations with the Germans, but with Italian authorities as well, that Art. 2 was stipulat­ed only the German authorities. In the discussions everybody was unan­imous that after the respective regulation and the arrival of the Bulgar­ian army the function of the campaign committees would change and should adapt to Bulgarian laws so ,,in local terms the work for the ben­efit of Macedonia to continue" (Document N. 1).22

At the meeting the management bodies were appointed with the stipulation the Central Committee to be simultaneously local com­mittee for Skopje and the region. A Central Committee with 32 mem­bers was chosen. It appointed an Executive Committee with the following members: Stephan Stephanov, President, Spiro Kitinchev, Deputy President, Vassil Hadzhikimov, Secretary-Organizer, Krum Organdjiev, Cashier, and Blagoy Popankov, Ivan Piperkov, Dr. Al­exander Georgiev and Ilia Atanasov - Advisors. Member of the CC was also Toma Drangov, brother of the famous officer from the Bul­garian army Boris Drangov, perished in the World War I.23

The dynamics of time imposed the committee to operate actively. Immediately after the meeting, the CC had a session and took up its first task - to organize the taking of the power. A decision was made a delegation of representatives of the committee to insist before the German authorities to concede the power to the Bulgarian commu­nity, that was majority in the region. Odd enough, but at that Lime the Germans had left the local Serbian community bodies to govern in Skopje and Bitola. In parallel with this, the CC decided funds to be raised for presents for the German soldiers who resided there for Easter. The committee did not only want to show its gratitude for the long expected liberation from Serbian rulers, but to predispose the German military authorities to concede the power to the Bulgarian community (Document N. 2).24

One of the first tasks of the CC was to publish a declaration, proclaiming in the whole of Macedonia its constitution and policy. The declaration said:




Macedonia is free! Free is Macedonia forever!

The end of the rule under which Macedonia suffered until yes­terday had come. The centuries-long enslavement of Macedonia - Greek, Turkish, Serbian, spiritual and political, and in XX C. eco­nomic and social as well, had finished forever,

A great ideal, THE LIBERTY, for which Macedonia had fought for centuries lead century-old fight with unprecedented heroism and numerous sacrifices is now reality.

The efforts of Tsar Boris III to put that great deed to an end were accomplished successfully and finally. The leader of one great world revolution, the leader of the German nation ordered to his brave and victorious armies together with his ally Italy to gain the freedom of our amiable Motherland, of our great martyr Macedonia.

Macedonia is free and is already in the Bulgarian national com­munity.

The Bulgarian people in Macedonia are deeply touched and full of joy and gratitude towards the Tsar of the Bulgarians - Tsar Boris III, towards the mighty leader of the German Reich, Adolph Hitler and the Duche - the creator of friendly Italy.

Long live Tsar Boris III!

Long live Adolph Hitler - the mighty leader of the great German nation!

Long live Benito Mussolini - the Duche of the ally Italy!

Long live the freedom!

The Bulgarian Central Campaign Committee for Macedonia!''


Below followed the signatures of the BCCC members.

By means of the declaration the policy of the committee was announced: accession to Bulgaria. Despite that the Bulgarian official authorities were not yet established, in a week or two that would happen. That was why the declaration said: “Macedonia is already free and is in the Bulgarian national community."25

The policy chosen by the BCCC for direct accession of Mace­donia to Bulgaria was not accidental. That line of action in fact had always been one of the two options after 1878 - of course more favour­able for the Bulgarians from Macedonia. That course which at first was adopted by the followers of the Supreme Macedonian-Odrin committee, met the strong opposition of IMRO and also of other rev­olutionary groups that were for independent Macedonia (Ivan Mihaylov), or for autonomous Macedonia under the aegis of the United Nations, or within a Balkan federation. At the beginning of the war, however, after the peaceful integration of South Dobrudzha through diplomatic negotiations the positions of the groups was reinforced. They were for peaceful unification of the lands populated with Bul­garians without other indirect ways for that - independence, auton­omy and etc. On a meeting of the presidents of the legal Macedonian organizations in Bulgaria that took place on July 15 1940 the follow­ing declaration was worked out:

“The governing councils of the Union of the Cultural Education­al and Charitable Fraternities in Bulgaria, of the Macedonian Scien­tific Institute, of the Ilinden organization, of Macedonian Odrin Vol­unteers and of the Macedonian Women's Union considered their duty to announce the following



 The liberated part of the Bulgarian people and the Bulgarians from and in Macedonia gave numerous bloody sacrifices in numer­ous rebellions and wars for the liberation of Macedonia from Turk­ish and later from Serbian and Greek rule.

Wherefore today, when the destiny and the political borders of the people in Europe would be determined for ages, we considered that the Macedonian question should be put up for settlement before the authoritative factors in Bulgaria and abroad so that:



July 15, 1940"


The declaration was signed by the presidents of the above orga­nizations.26 That was why the development of a policy in the break of World War II for accession to Bulgaria was the idea of several people as Stephan Stephanov and Vassil Hadzhikimov, but the offi­cial course of action was of all legal organizations of the Macedonian Bulgarian refugees that were about six hundred thousand people. Part of IMRO followers shared the same views as was already men­tioned.

Even more, immediately after the announcement of the above declaration the members of those organizations initiated active ac­tions for its implementation. Right after the liberation of Macedonia they started going round the newly liberated lands and working among the population.27

In connection with the liberation of Macedonia, Western Thrace, Moravia and the Western Territories (Zapadni Pokrainini), in Bul­garia were prepared celebrations timed for April 20. With view to the situation the Prime Minister Bogdan Filov insisted that they were held a week earlier. Thus on April 13 manifestations took place in Sofia and in the country, in which were participated by refugee's organizations. At the meeting on Alexander Nevski Square in Sofia, the colonel from the reserve Kosta Nikolov, president of the Union of the Macedonian Fraternities, made an ardent speech. In front of the Assembly Hall in the name of the Macedonian Odrin volunteers a speech delivered the colonel from the reserve Petar Darvingov,28 organizer of the volunteers and Head of the Headquarters. Dimitur Yaranov and Stephan Badzhov also spoke before the legations of Germany and Italy. During the same day there were celebrations in other towns in the country. They aimed on one hand to create favorable psychological climate in the Bulgarian-German dialog about the Macedonian question, and on the other hand, public expression of the extended hand of the Motherland to the Bulgarian population in the territories, occupied by the Germans.29

The Management Board of the Macedonian Scientific Institute in Sofia took part in the celebration. In its name and in the name of the refugees from Macedonia, Professor Stephan Badzhov, mem­ber of the Management Board, stood at the head of the delegation before the German minister plenipotentiary in Sofia, Bar­on von Richtchofen. In his speech Professor Badzhov expressed the gratitude of the Macedonian Bulgarians to the German arms whose victories helped for the liberation of their native lands (Doc­ument No. 3).30

The beginning of Bulgarian press was set in the lands, liberated from the Serbs. After 24 years the Bulgarian language appeared again in pure Bulgarian newspapers. The newspaper was called Macedonia and most of the documents and the decisions of the CC were published in it. The newspaper had only several issues.31 Its first copy was issued on April 15, 1941, i.e. only two days after the establishment of BCCC. Director and publisher of the newspaper was Stephan Stephanov, Vassil Hadzhikimov and Boris Blagoev were editors.32

Not only the declaration of BCCC was published in the Mace­donia newspaper. In a special article on page 2 was given informa­tion about the foundation of the Bulgarian Central Campaign Com­mittee for Macedonia. In it was announced that representatives of the Bulgarian population from all parts of the newly liberated terri­tories had gathered in Skopje and had discussed the situation after the end of the Serbian rule. They expressed their desire ,,the long­ing and the interests of the Bulgarians enslaved till yesterday to be correctly represented, interpreted and protected before the Ger­man triumphant army, that had occupied and liberated Macedonia, as well as before the army and the rule of the Bulgarian Tsar - liberator of Macedonia, Tsar Boris III, that were expected impa­tiently and with immeasurable joy." The article announced that the following decisions were taken at the meeting: Bulgarian Central Campaign Committee to be formed, which immediately to establish local committees in the whole of Macedonia. It was foreseen the funding to be based on donations. On the pages of the newspaper the CC appealed for financial support (document No. 4).29 The fol­lowing appeal was in italic: “Only the organized struggle gives re­sults. Instead of speaking - act. Unite round the Bulgarian Central Campaign Committee for Macedonia." The newspaper did not for­got to greet the Bulgarian population in Macedonia about the forth­coming celebration of Easter: “MACEDONIA REVIVED! GREET­INGS FOR EASTER!'33

BCCC settled not only the problem about the financial status of the newspaper. It took measures for the restoration of radio Skopje that was damaged on purpose by the Serbs in order not to be used by the Macedonian Bulgarians. For a short time the radio station was repaired and spread the news for the creation of the campaign committees.34

The Serbian oppressive regime as politics was liquidated, but the administrative authorities were not eliminated everywhere. In many places the old administrative bodies continued operation. The rea­sons for that were different. Obviously the Germans thought that if the old administrative structures did not show any resistance it was preferred they to continue operation and ensure the order.

On the conference of the CC of the Macedonian Bulgarian com­mittees the representatives of the German authorities were not present, as they were on April 8 in Galichin Inn. That created some difficulties related to the replacement of the Serbian authorities’ pow­er with Bulgarian ones. The delegation sent by the CC to the Ger­man commandantship received the reply that evidence was required that the citizens of the town were Bulgarians and not Serbs for the change of the administration.35

That requirement of the commandant was a reason for conduct­ing a specific referendum. For 24 hours the Central Committee bought cloth, sew tri-colored flags and decorated every Bulgarian house. The town resembled a festively decorated Bulgarian town. The Bul­garian tri-coloured flag has fluttered round the town, regardless of the fact that there was no official representative of Bulgaria there. The committee insisted the commandant to walk round the town with his car and see that the town was Bulgarian. Only then the BCCC for Macedonia was officially recognized by the German authorities. The city hall was on disposition of the committee. The Deputy Pres­ident of BCCC - Spiro Kitinchev was elected as mayor of the mu­nicipality36 and as his assistants - Blagoy Popankov, Blagoy Panchev, Kiril Zhernovski and Krum Organdzhiev. Kiril Penushliyski, Kiril Georgiev and others were appointed assistant staff.37

That success showed to the members of the CC that taking the power was not easy and they should have to fight for it. At the same time they were convinced that the struggle could be successful, only if it was well organized and all political groups acted unanimously. The fight for the power in Skopje had also shown that probably in other Macedonian towns many Serbian authorities had remained. That imposed immediate organizing of local committees. That was why the Central Committee issued a power of attorney to Vassil Hadzhikimov, the most active member, empowering him to accept funding in their account. He took the responsibility to travel round Macedonia and organize local campaign Committees (document No. 5).38

During the following days until April 16, 1941 two more meetings of the committee were held. On them were taken decisions on vari­ous organization matters, namely, Macedonian Bulgarians, soldiers in the Serbian army who were prisoners of war at the Germans to be found and released; cloth for flags to be bought - Bulgarian and German - and to be given to the poor Bulgarians for free; blank forms of the committee to be printed; a car to be hired for the secre­tary-organizer of the CC, Vassil Hadzhikimov to go round Mace­donia and organize campaign committees in the regional centers; the person who had the right to incur financial expenses to be spec­ified, etc. (documents No. 6 and 7).39

The Bulgarian government did not wait for a definite date to enter Macedonia. On April 17 an honorable unit of the Bulgarian army was sent to Skopje. It was met joyfully by the citizens. In con­nection with that BCCC sent a telegram to Tsar Boris III to which he replied: “To you, the Bulgarians from liberated Macedonia, I am thankful from all my heart for the nice greetings you have sent me about the entering of the heroic Bulgarian army in Skopje, and I am sending my sincere greetings and good wishes. The Tsar.” (Docu­ments No. 8 and 9).40

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