The new national-liberation struggle in Vardar Macedonia, 1944-1991, Dimitar G. Gotsev


Since 25th until 30th of March 1947, in Scopije legal process is held against the central leadership of IMRO. The attorney Blagoi Popov[ski] of Prilep, state prosecutor of the trial, reads for two days the prosecutors indictment statement against 13 leading activists of IMRO.

For the truths sake, it should be mentioned, that amongst the multiple absurd, fabricated accusations, published in the newspaper "New Macedonia", the prosecutor indictment statement mentions many truthful things on the activity and aims of IMRO for the period 1945-1946.The implicit mixing of actual facts and gross political lies and slanders, leads the indictement to absurd statements. Leaving aside the fabrications and slanders, the main aims for which the accused are fighting, and according to the prosecutors indictment deserve for them the most severe punishment are:

 ­ separation of PR Macedonia from FPR Yugoslavia and creation of an independent state, which is to include the other parts of the region, under the protection of England and America.

 ­ agitation by the activists of IMRO, that the anglo-americans will support the idea for separation from Yugoslavia and its independance.

 ­ the preparation and sending of the memorandum by the leaders of IMRO to the Great Powers, with an appeal at the Paris Peace Conference the macedonian question to be justly resolved by giving the right to self-determination, separation from Yugoslavia and creation of independent Macedonia.

 -except the illegal activity, the aim of IMRO to participate in the elections for a constituent meeting in 1946, as a legal party with a separate political platform, including the question for the official acceptance of the bulgarian nationality in Macedonia and as well as its independent participation in the elections as an opponent of the "communist peoples front".

To all these truthful or false accusations, the prosecutor indicts the activists of IMRO of connections with the greek monarcho-fascist authorities and with the pan-serbian chauvinists of Milan Grol, of having contacts with the opposition in Bulgaria ­ Nikola Petkov and Kosta Loultchev, and the principal one that they are have been in contact with Ivan Michailov. All this showed in a most definitive way the destructive character of IMRO toward Yugoslavia.

For five days the accused, without right to personal lawyers, having only public defence, answer both the general accusations of the indictment and the accusations of the investigation and the prosecutor on personal "criminal" offences of each one of them, connected or not with IMRO's activity.First from the accused in defence of the common indictment of IMRO, speaks Dr. Ivanov. He declares that on behalf of his comrades, energetically protests against the, presented in the indictment act, monstruous inventions, vulgar lies and slanders against them.In this way, the authorities attempt to present them as "criminals", "terrorists", "murderers", "foreign agents" and so on, in order to justify themselves in front of the people of Macedonia and the world for the monstrous repressions and the predecided death sentences. In this tendentious and illegal creation called indictment act, Dr. Ivanov sees a well developped by UDB plan for moral, political and physical destruction, not only of the accused, but also an attempt at total discreditation, rejection and persecution of IMRO as idea, struggle and historical heritage of Macedonia. The last is very dangerous, as it aims at changing the wholesome national history of the macedonian bulgarians.

Further on, Dr. Ivanov protests against the fact, that in the indictment act, he and his comrades, activists of IMRO, are being called "agents" of the english and american imperialism, the greek monarchofascists, the pan-serbian chauvinists of Milan Grol an so on.This is not only untrue, but is insulting as well, for every macedonia patriot, bearing in mind that it is exactly against the pan-serbian and pan-greek chauvinists that IMRO has been fighting for decades. IMRO, underlines further Dr. Ivanov, although following the traditions of the historical struggles, has appeared in 1945 as an unique phenomenon, as conteraction of the new serbian slavery over Macedonia under the veil of the macedonism. The men who reestablished the IMRO are only local people with high morale and sense of responsability, with respect of the cause of Macedonia. All have good education and knowledge on the national affairs and have authority in the society.Inspite of the cruel inquisitions they have been submitted to, there had been no traitor betwen them.With their conduct they have won the respect and sympathies of fighting Macedonia.

In answer to the statement, that IMRO both in the past and at present show itself as a "varchovist" organisation, defending the pan-bulgarian interests in Macedonia, Dr. Ivanov states that, in the different periods of its history, IMRO has had different enemies and aims. Since 1893 till 1941 it is fighting against the turkish, greek and serbian slavery. Since 1945, as he points out, IMRO has its own idea and programme, in accordance with the situation of Vardar Macedonia, after the end of World War II. In the memorandum sent to the UN and the Great Powers, quoted in the indictment act, IMRO has stated clearly and exactly what are its aims and ideas. The have been dfinitely stated to the representatives of the Great Powers in Belgrade. In the indictment act, however, points out Dr. V. Ivanov, nothing is mentioned on this meeting.

We, even from the bench of the accused, appeal energetically to the Great Powers and the UN to fulfill the demands of IMRO, which are the following: 1. To be accepted and guaranteed the right of national and political self-determination of the people of Macedonia under international control. 2.At the Paris Peace Conference to be accepted the right of Vardar Macedonia in a peacefull way to leave the Yugoslavian federation. 3. Macedonia to be pronounced an independent nation with international guarantees.

These are our ideas and demands today, says Dr. Ivanov, ending that, for these ideas the best sons and daughters of Macedonia are fighting and giving their lives. The tried IMRO-ists not only in Scopije, but also in the whole of Vardar Macedonia, according to him, will defend, until the end, the righteousness of their struggle, and with dignity will meet the punishments, prepared for them by the servants of Belgrade.

The defence statement of Dr. Ivanov produces a violent reaction in the legal tribunal. There is not an qualification which has not been used against him ­ "fascist", "michailovist", "pan-Bulgarian", "traitor" and so on. The prosecutor attacks him, by stating that he and his friend, Dr. Trentchev are old "bulgarian agents", and even as students have carried out orders of Iv. Michailov in Vienna, Paris and in othr places in Europe, and now are obeying his commands. It is at his initiative, that they have created the IMRO, in order to continiue the old fight against Tito's Yugoslavia.

Dr. Ivanov answers that he has never denied his membership, as student in Vienna in the Macedonian Students Union in Europe. He has never met Iv. Michailov, and especially 1944 is the last time this could have happened. The coincidence of the ideas and struggles of IMRO in the past and now, he stresses, is inevitable, as both before and now, Yugoslavia is the biggest enemy of Macedonia. His speach is interrupted, the word taken away, and punished by the prosecutor to solitary confinement for "unprecedented audacity".

In similar way defends his ideas and himself D-r. Kosta Trentchev. He also refutes the indictement act stating, that it is built in a partisan style. The court, according to him, is not interested in the truth at all, but has one aim only ­ to accuse IMRO and its leaders of monstruous crimes, by declaring IMRO as "fascists" and "terrorist", and its members ­ sentenced as "bandits" and "murderers". Just as it had been done to IMRO and the macedonian revolutionaries, in turkish time till 1912, and afterwards by the royal serbian enslavers until 1941.

 To the accusation of the prosecutor-attorney, that IMRO has always been in service of Bulgaria, Dr. Trentchev answers: in an independent Macedonia, for which IMRO is fighting, and for which they are put to trial today, there will be no persecution of any nationality, least of all the bulgarian. More over that, the people in Macedonia do not make such difference between the notions "bulgarian" and "macedonian", the way the authorities of Yugoslavia consciously implement with precise political aims. It should not be forgotten, that till 1941, Macedonia was proclaimed as "South Banovina" and its population for "southern serbs". It is well known to the world, what were the consecquences for those that dared call themselves bulgarians. There is no difference between the policy of Belgrade till 1941 and nowadays concerning the assimilation and destruction of the bulgarians in Macedonia, concludes Dr. Trentchev. The thousands of murders of bulgarians, only for the period 1945-1946, are unquestionable proof of this. As national protest against this barbarianship, the accused have restored the IMRO, which has as aim to fight for natioanl self-determination and independent Macedonia under international guarantees, as an alternative to the, imposed from outside, Yugoslavian federation.

At this moment the attorney takes away the word from Dr. Trentchev. And not only this.The notes and film materials of several foreign jouranalists, present at the process, are confiscated by the UDB- agents, before they leave the court room.

Very interesting and courageous defence speech is made by Dr. K. Terziev. He arrives in the court room in bad physical condition. His stomach is torn by the beatings, while, at the same time, the authorities forbid any medical aid to be provided to him. They hope, that in this condition, he will give up his defence speech. Dr. Terziev, however, arrives in court and makes a big defence statement on the ideas of IMRO and Macedonia's cause.Concerning the indictment act, he states that, the things said on IMRO as an organisation, as well as for the accused, is result of base falsifications and slanders.Further on, he stresses his solidarity with his comrades in their defence of the reestablishment and activity of IMRO since 1945.

"PR Maceodnia is free in new Yugoslavia" retorts the prosecutor. Dr Terziev answers that Macedonia is not free, and that is why there is struggles in it. As one of the main accused in the trial against IMRO, he states that he wants to declare in front of the court what for IMRO is fighting since 1945, and why its leaders are not "bandits" and "fascists", as the indictment act depicts them, but are revolutionaries and popular figures, who do not accept as liberation the return of Macedonia to Yugoslavia.He mentions several reasons as arguements. The decision, Vardar Macedonia to enter the Yugoslavian Fedration, is not a decision and wish of the macedonian people, as it is said. On the contrary, it is imposed by the Great Powers and the pan-serbian chauvinists in YKP, in total rejection of the centenial struggles, victims and desires of Macedonia for freedom. If this is not so, why are all these thousands of murders of innocent people, why are the prisons and camps full of honest macedonian patriots? As far as the thousnd times repeated "national-liberation struggle",

Dr. Terziev points out, that he knows this struggle very well and can say that it was not struggle of the people of Macedonia, that this struggle is imposed from outside, by Serbia, by YKP, with pan- Serbian conquerors's aims. This is seen best by the return of the serbian colonists, these incredible marroders, murderers, and sebisators of the population, who after 1945, just as in royal Yugoslavia, have the privileges of "national fighters" and have again taken the most fertile land, confiscated from the best and most honoured bulgarian patriots, fighters for the freedom of Macedonia.The same was done with the enforcement of the serbian alphabet and the serbisation of the language, the abandonment of the macedonian alphabet and language, announced to be bulgarian, while at the same time, being in use for centuries in the schools and churches of Macedonia.No matter in what form Yugoslavia may transform itself, says Dr. Terziev, with its pan-serbian content, she cannot give Macedonia that cultural, national and spiritual freedom IMRO for decades is fighting for. Macedonia can fulfill its national strife only as free and independent state, under international guarantees.

The attorney attacks Dr. Terziev, calling him old traitor of Macedonia, being first "bulgarian agent", then becoming serbian and as reward from Belgade moving up in the career hierarchy to the position of deputy-head of a department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Dr. Terziev answers, that as member of the federalist organisation between the two wars he went to Belgrade and from there found work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is precisely in this Ministry, that he had the possibility to acquaint himself with the serbian conquerors plans on Macedonia, which after 1944, masked by the macedonism have involved not only the Vardar but also the other parts of Macedonia, exceding by far the expansionism of the pan-serbian bourgeoisie and dynasty till 1941. Dr. Terziev wanted to disclose these plans to the court in detail, so that the rightfulness of the ideas and struggles of IMRO for self- determination and independence could be seen.At this moment the prosecutor took his word away.

With extreme fury, the prosecutor-attorney and the judges attack the teacher Dimitar Peev.They insist that he tells upon whose initiative exactly, has he written the memorandum to the Great Powers for the separation of Vardar Macedonia from Yugoslavia.D. Peev explains that the memorandum is an act of the leadership of the IMRO and part of its programme. IMRO wanted the world to learn the truth on the situation in Macedonia since 1944. Therefore, it was not necessary for IMRO to wait for initiative from outside. Besides, continiues D. Peev, with its memorandum, IMRO gives idea to the Great Powers how to solve the macedonian question at the peace conference in Paris.But why is your memorandun identical with the one sent by I. Michailov to other places?, asks the attorney. Our fight is mainly national, answers D.Peev. It is impossible not to have identicity in the historical grounds of the past and present ideas and demands of IMRO. But this is pure pan- bulgarism and betrayal of Macedonia, jumps again the prosecutor. D.Peev says that, ever since its creation, IMRO has fought for the liberty of the bulgarians in Macedonia, however, who understands it how or how is it called is another question. His statement is also interrupted by the attorney, having his word taken away.

 The attorney cross examines Georgi Gotsev, as well. During his first detention, he succeds to escape and for two months he is searched for by the authorities. He is accused of entering in contact, during that time, with the bulgarian authorities and of coming back to continiue the underground work of his arrested comrades, being entrusted with the liason between IMRO and officers of the bulgarian intelligence service. G. Gotsev answers, that with the present official policy of Bulgaria on Macedonia, contacts between the bulgarian authorities and IMRO in Vardar Macedonia is not paoosible to be established. Had the organisation had such contacts, its leaders would not have ended in jail, says Gotsev. During the whole time of his"underground" activity, he was in Vardar Macedonia and only upon his return in his birthplace, was he arrested. To the direct question of the prosecutor, from where did he have a procuration as leader of IMRO, with which he not only had hid himself, but had also organized several meetings with members and followers of IMRO in Berovo, Tsarevo selo, Vinitsa, Kotchani, Shtip, Veles, Scopije and others, Gotsev answers that he has recieved this procuration in 1945 from Dr. Trentchev. Such documents had all the leaders of IMRO, but after their arrest, he was the only one to move along the "password" of the organisation.

G.Gotsev declares, that the instructions he had given were not new, but concerned only the programmes and aims of IMRO ­ to continiue with peaceful and legal means the fight for the creation of independent Macedonia, guaranteed by the Great Powers and the UN. The attorney interrupts him and demands whether the "appeal" in the Shtip- Maleshev region against the return of the colonists, done on G. Gotsev's initiative is also part of the "legal" activity of IMRO. G. Gotsev answers, that this is an activity of IMRO, and that the reaction in his region, being the strongest, is something natural. The return of the colonists, declares Gotsev, means, for Macedonia, the return of the old serbian slavery, and in Shtip and Maleshev this slavery has left black veils in every house. Therefore, there the whole population is signing the categoricl demand to have the return of the serbian colonists stopped.

The attorney changes the tone for a moment, expressing the wonder and even the regret that "such a young man" has fallen in the trap of a "criminal" organisation, having put himself in service of the enemies of "new Yugoslavia". G. Gotsev answers, that as far as youth is concerned, Gotse Deltchev and Dame Gruev were 20 years old, when they created and lead the IMRO. As far as the statement of the attorney, that IMRO is a "criminal" organisation, he states that it is presented as such only by the enemies of Macedonia. The attorney insists that he and his IMRO have nothing to do with the IMRO of Gotse and Dame. G. Gotsev answers, that in his family there have been fighters for the liberation of Macedonia for almost a century, and his father Yane Gotsev was member of IMRO and close friend of Gotse Deltchev, having participated in the Ilinden uprising, for what had been thrown in the turkish prisons. Later, as member of IMRO, had been persecuted and arrested by the serbian authorities in royal Yugoslavia. Therefore, this struggle can not be torn between the generations. It will continiue with the coming generations, until the ideal for freedom of Macedoia does not become reality. The attorney' nerves gave away and after an almost ten hours of interrogations, with insults and qualifications of the sort of "michailovist, fascist, pan-bulgarist" and others, takes away his word.

Then comes Blagoi Gashteev' turn. Besides being member of the central leadership, at his arrest and during the search in his home, UDB finds arms, left from the bulgarian army. To the question of the prosecutor, what did they need the arms for, Bl. Gashteev answers, that IMRO was hoping that there would come the day, when these arms will be necessary for the defence of independent Macedonia.

In similar way, the cause of IMRO is defended by the teacher Kiril Siveski, Metodi Popov, Assen Tempov, Boris Tcharaktchiev, Toma Davkov and the priest Nikola Popov. All accused defend courageously IMRO'deeds and their fight in the name of the bulgarian spirit and independent Macedonia.

Based upon the investigation procedures against IMRO in 1946-1947, the indictement act against the wholesome activity of the organisation since 1945 and the five-day hearings of the testimony of the leaders of IMRO in front of the Scopije Regional Court, the prosecutor Popovski asks for death penalty of all accused. The Court, however, pronounces the following sentences:

1. Dr. Konstantin Hristov Terziev -death by shooting and confiscation of his property.

2. Dr. Vassil Andonov Ivanov ­ death by shooting and confiscation of his property.

3. Dr. Kosta Nikolov Trentchev- death by shooting and confiscation of his property.

4. Metodi Popov ­ death by shooting and confiscation of his property.

5. Blagoi Gashteev ­ death by shooting and confiscation of his property.

6. Priest Nikola Popov ­ death by shooting and confiscation of his property.

7. Assen Tomov ­ death by shooting and confiscation of his property.

8. Toma Davkov, landowner ­ 20 years strict prison regime.

9. Kiril Evtimov Siveski, teacher ­ 15 years strict prison regime.

10. Georgi Gotsev, landowner ­ 12 years strict prison regime.

11. Dimitar Peev, land surveyor ­ 10 years strict prison regime.

12. Boris Tcharaktchiev, clerk ­ 15 years strict prison regime.

13. Milan Traikov, clerk ­ 8 years imprisonment.

The Supreme court in Belgrade, under the pressure from the UN and the Great Powers, cancels the death sentences of the leaders of IMRO. Only that of Dr. Konstantin Terziev is left. He is executed on April 15th 1947, near the prison of Idrizovo.

The fate of the convicts is different. The term of the sentences is gradually decreased and most of the leaders of IMRO serve 10- 12 years of hard labour imprisonment in Idrizovo, near Scopije, as well as in other prisons in former Yugoslavia. In 1957-1958 the prisoners still alive are freed. Three of them ­ Dimitar Peev of Stroumitsa, Kiril Siveski of Robevo, Berovo region, and Toma Davkov of Gorni Balvan, Shtip region, die in the prison of Idrizovo.

Of the 13 reestablishers, leaders and sentenced heros of IMRO in 1998 alive are only three. Georgi Gotsev, who because of the persecution by the serbocommunist authorities after his release from the prison, escaped with his whole family to Bulgaria, lives today in Blagoevgrad; Blagoi Gashteev lives in Stroumitsa and Boris Tcharaktchiev ­ in Scopije.

This is the course of the trial against the central leadership of IMRO in Scopije. Not less dramatic is the fate of other thousands of arrested members and followers of IMRO, tried in all other towns of Vardar Macedoia ­ Scopije, Veles, Shtip, Bitolya, Prilep, Kitchevo, Ohrid, Kavadartsi, Stroumitsa, Radovish, Kotchani, Deltchevo, Berovo and others.

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