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


The repressions and murders, the unprecedented persecution of everything bulgarian, provoke strong reaction among the population of Vardar Macedonia. An organised resistance against the new authorities arises. Amids the multiple secret organistions, having appeared after december 1944, fighting against the new serbo-communist occupation in defence of the bulgarian spirit and for independent Macedonia, the main, the biggest, the most influential and acting on the territory of whole Macedonia is the IMRO. It is reestablished in 1945 and continiues the fight for fulfilment of its aims.

 In October 1945, upon the initiative of Dr. Vassil Ivanov of Strumitsa, Dr. Kosta Trentchev of Tsarevo selo and Dr. Kosta Terziev of Koukoush, after long preliminary preparations, a secret meeting takes place in Scopije, of more than 30 notorious bulgarians of all parts of Vardar Macedonia. They discuss the situation of the bulgarian population, put by the new communist authorities of Yugoslavia in the position of an out-law.

After they conclude that the people of Macedonia was cheated by YKP, and has fallen again under pan-serbian slavery, the participants in the discussions decide to proclaim this meeting as the Ninth (reestablishing) Congress, which gives beginning to a new struggle of IMRO. A temporary statute of the organisation is prepared by Dr. V. Ivanov and voted by the Congress. In accordance with the new conditions the main postulations in it are : 1. IMRO considers the return of Vardar Macedonia as illegal, as it is done by force and treason, without democratic referendum of the people.2. IMRO will fight for official acceptance of the bulgarian nationality and the reopening of the bulgarian schools and churches, closed or forbidden without reason upon Belgrade's orders in the end of 1944. 3. IMRO will fight with all possible means., mainly legal, Vardar Macedonia, as previewed in a special paragraph of the Constitution of SFRY, to leave legally Yugoslavia, in accordance with its national and cultural interests, different from those of the other republics of the federation. 4. IMRO will insist in front of the governments of the Great Powers to support its demands for just resolution of the macedonian question on the Paris Peace Conference, with the creation of

" Free and Independent Macedonia", under the patronage of the Great Powers or the UN.

5. Members of IMRO can be all honest macedonian patriots, irrespective of their political beliefs, who in the past, as well as now, have fought and are fighting against the serbian slavery for free Macedonia

According to this temporary statute, Vardar Macedonia is divided in three organisational regions:Bitoliya, Scopije and Shtip. Central leadership is elected, consisting of 13 members.

Besides the three doctors in the central leadership are included: Metodi Popov of Boudinartsi, Blagoi Gashteev of Vladimirovo, Nikola Ivanov of Roussinovo, Georgi Gotsev of Pantcharevo, Kiril Sievski of Robovo, all of them from the Shtip organisational region; Assen Temov of Shtip, Toma Davkov of Gorni Balvan (Shtip region), Dimitar Peev and Boris Tcharktchiev of Radovish and Milan Traikov of Scopije.

To all members in the reestablishment congress, Regional #1 of Imro, is given, which contains the ideas and aims in the name of which the organisation will fight. Those, who have these instructions, are obliged to start immediately the formation of secret organisational network of IMRO in their regions. It is advised, the groups in the villages to be of three members, while in the towns ­ of five, all independent of one another, who will contact the Central Committee of IMRO through the local, district and regional leaderships.

The statute and aims of the new struggle, as well as the organistional structure are taken as idea, concept and effectuation from the already existing documents of IMRO and MYSRO, consideration being taken for the new realities in Vardar Macedonia. The more so, that Dr. V. Ivanov and Dr. K. Trentchev, as activists of the Macedonian Students Union in Vienna, Leiptzig and Paris, in the period between the world wars, are very well acquainted with these documents and the aims of the struggle of IMRO.

The organisation quickly finds its followers and by June- July 1946, when the first crack downs take place, it counts more than 10 000 organised members. Since the end of 1945 and throughout 1946, activists of IMRO actively distribute to the population type-written materials and leaflets, denouncing the crimes committed by the pan-serbian communists toward the bulgarians in Macedonia.

A statement- Memorandum, written by the leaders of IMRO, is sent in April and May to the governments of the Great Powers. In it, are described in details, the history of the macedonian question since its appearance in 1878, the struggles and victims given by the bulgarian population for its liberation from turkish and afterwards from serbian and greek slavery. Special attention is paid to the massacres, murders and terror committed by the new pan-serbian authorities after their return to Macedonia in November 1944.This is why, on behalf of the population of Vardar Macedonia, in the memorandum is requested that, the governments of the Great Powers and their ambassadors at the Paris Peace Conference, support the right of self- assesment of the population of Macedonia under international patronage, in order to certify that, it has never had, nor has anything in common in historical, national and political plan neither with the Royal nor with Tito's Yugoslavia. It is fighting for "free and independent Macedonia".

This memorandum, signed by 7 members of the leadership of IMRO ­ Dr. Vassil Georgiev, Dr. Kosta Terziev, Dr. Kosta Trentchev. Dimitar Peev, Georgi Kotsev, Kiril Siveski and the priest Nikola Popov, is dispatched to the representatives of the Great Powers in Paris by several different routes.Through his brother, Pando Ivanov, minister at the time, Dr. V. Ivanov sends the memorandun to the Prime-minister of Vardar Macedonia, Metodi Andonov -Tchento.He reads it and not only does not disagree with the statement, but declares that, the presented in the memorandum is the complete truth and those horrifying things done by L. Koulishevski, Sv. Voukmanovitch-Tempo and Al. Rankovitch, against the will of the government in Macedonia must be brought to the attention of the international public opinion.

With the appearance of the memorandum in the European capitals comes the break-through in IMRO. The treason, according to Dr. V. Ivanov's notes, has come from the outside. After the handing over of the letter in Paris to the yugoslavian delegation, those who have signed it become subjected to surveillance. Little by little, the authorities identify the leading people and the main centers of IMRO's activity.

In the beginning of May, 1946, the Prime-minister Metodi Andonov -Tchento understands, that the activity of IMRO is discovered and warns its leaders to destroy everything, that could compromise them during their arrest. He advises them to defend themselves as a legal and tolerant opposition, which, by peaceful means, defends its national and political ideas. Events develop very fast and in May and June the authorities arrest more than 3000 members of IMRO in Vardar Macedonia, together with all its leaders.The Prime-minister sends immediately Pavel Shatev to Sofia to meet representatives of the bulgarian government and to explain to them, that in Vardar Macedonia not socialism is built, but the pan-serbian chauvinists with the help of their faithful servant, L. Koulishevski, persecute everything bulgarian, change the names of living and dead bulgarians, manipulate the people of Macedonia against its brothers in Bulgaria and so on. All this, P.Shatev tells the secretary of CC of BWP(c) Traitcho Kostov demanding the cooperation of Bulgaria to intercede for the stopping of the serbian vandalism over the bulgarians in Macedonia.

 On the next day of his return from Sofia, in his office in the Ministry of Justice, comes the internal minister of Yugoslavia who arrests him and sends him to jail.

Then, the Prime-minister M.Andonov-Tchento, himself, decides to go to Paris and distribute an appeal, in which the Great Powers are requested to send an enquiry commission, to certify on the spot, that in Macedonia innocent bulgarians are murdered and repressed as well as to support the right for self-assessment of Macedonia, for her exit of the Yugoslav federation and establishment of an independent state under international guarantees. While preparing his departure, however, on July 14th 1946, he is arrested, and after four months of long investigations, becomes the first Prime-minister to be condemned to 14 years of strict regime imprisonment. And all this, because he does not want to be responsible for the accusation of his countrymen, that consciously or not, has cooperated with the serbs to return again to Macedonia and to persecute and destroy the bulgarian population like before 1941. Exactly for this reason, he supports the programme of IMRO and afterwards with dignity serves 9 full years of imprisonment, together with all other convicted IMRO-ists.

What is the fate of the arrested members of IMRO? After long investigations, accompanied by physical and psychic inquisitions, hundreds of them die unable to withstand the cruel tortures, some of them during the investigation itself. For the leaders of IMRO, a special trial is prepared, where they are to be denounced as "traitors", "bulgarian agents" and to be sentenced to death. The Memorandum case, however, achieves such publicity in the European press, that the Great Powers ­ USSR, USA, England and France send in January 1947 delegation, which is to check in place what is happening in Macedonia. Arriving in Belgrade, however, the delegation of the international powers is stopped, being told, that it can not visit Macedonia, and that its demand to meet the arrested leaders of IMRO is an interference with the internal affairs of Yugoslavia. The representatives of the Great Powers declare that they will not turn back until they meet the people of IMRO, who have sent them the memorandum.

For 10 days, the yugoslavian authorities do not want to hear of such a thing. The biggest enemies of this being Rankovitch, Tempo and Koulishevski.Then the delegates, through their embassies and missions, direct their demand to Tito personally. Forced to accept the request, the authorities in Belgrade inform the delegation of the Great Powers on their conditions :

1. ­ instead with all of the leaders of IMRO (13) they will meet only with three;2. ­ the meeting will take place in Belgrade and not in Scopije; 3. ­ the conversation will be in serbian; 4. the foreign delegates can not talk directly with the prisoners.

Insisting on such conditions, the authorities hope that the delegates of the Great Powers will give up their mission. However, they agree the meeting to take place even under these conditions.

For a whole week, the authorities in Scopije, prepare the three doctors, telling them of a meeting with some european "journalists", who were supposedly making a general enquiry on the conditions of the political prisoners on the Balkans. From the way, they were told how to behave and what to say, as Dr. Ivanov writes in his notes, it became clear to them that this was not going to be only a "journalistic" enquiry, but something more serious, concerning the essence of the struggles of IMRO in Macedonia at the time. The little that the doctors manage to say to each other, before they are taken away in a frosty January morning, from the prison of Idrizovo and driven to the Scopije airport, is that, no mater whom they meet, they have to behave with dignity and defend uncompromisingly the ideas of IMRO and the stand taken in memorandum for the Great Powers concerning the resolution of the macedonian question at the forthcoming conference in Paris.

In Belgrade, they are taken directly to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The three doctors are with bound hands at the back, but here they are additionally tied to the chairs. From the conversation of the guards, they learn that they will meet foreign diplomats. The three leaders of IMRO want to be left alone, at least for five minutes for consultation on their positions. Al. Rankovitch warns them not to forget where they are and that there is no other position exept full repentance, no mater whom they meet.

Dr. Ivanov answers that, even if they wanted, they could not forget where they are, as only in a police as his can be seen double tied, blue from inquisitions human skeletons like them.

" All IMRO-ists and bugarashi in Yugoslavia will turn to skeletons" answers back Rankovitch. Then Dr. Terziev, turns to him and says that, they do not know why they are here and that if they were to meet foreigners, they would like to be informed what is going on. And if this is made up, in order to submit them to other physical and moral tortures, they do not understand why they should have travelled that far.

A representative of the Foreign Ministry in Belgrade explains that in answer to their memorandun on the situation in Yugoslavia and especially in Macedonia, foreign representatives have arrived in Belgrade, wanting to hear personally from them, whether they still support the things they wrote in the statement. If it comes to this meeting, he advised them, they were not to speak that they are bulgarians and are fighting for independent Macedonia. This was an idea of the "bulgarian fascists" of the Ivan Michailov type, and would worsen further their situation.

Now the three leaders fully understand two things: that the representatives of the Great Powers have received their memorandum and know of their situation and, therefore, want meeting with them; and second, learn what exactly the yugoslavian authorities want to hide from the foreigners.

At the meeting with the envoys of the Great Powers, the three doctors are first adressed by the french representative. On behalf of his collegues, he declares that the commissioners of the Great Powers in the Paris Peace Talks are very well acquainted with their personal fate and the fate of their followers. He tells them, they are sent by their governments to meet them and understand what is the cause of their contradictions with the new authorities.

 The interpreter of UDB ( department of state security), however, translates that the french representative has condemned the three doctors for their "fascist" and separatist activity concerning Macedonia. Dr. Ivamov, well-knowing French, points out, that the representative of France has not said what she had translated, and with such a translation, he and his comrades will refuse conversation with the representatives of the Great Powers.

 The french diplomat understands what has happened, and violating the conditions of the authorities, turns directly to Dr. Ivanov, stating that he will ask him and his friends several questions and if they answer honestly, everything will finish quickly and without complications.

" Your excellency-answers Dr. Ivanov- You are preparing the postwar peace, while we in Macedonia are still at war. The fact that you are here, confirms my words. The memorandum sent by us to your governments is absolutely truthful ­ we would sign, even now, for every word in it. As the authorities contest it, we demand for an international enquiry, chosen by you, which is to check on the spot every fact presented by us for persecutions, repressions and murders of thousands of innocent bulgarians in Macedonia."

What actually, do you want from the Great Powers, asks the french diplomat. In our memorandum, explains Dr. Ivanov, we have depicted in detail our problems and our demands. But, I will answer you, even here. For several decades Macedonia has been three times forcefully partitioned and enslaved by its neighbours on the provisions of international dictates: in Berlin 1878, in Bucarest ­ 1913, and Neuilly ­ 1919. Europe and the world know the tragedy of the bulgarians in Macedonia and the Balkans. Today we want self-determination of the population of Macedonia under international control, in order not to have a repetition of the present bloody history. At this moment, L. Koulishevski, violently reacts, stating that "the macedonian people" has "selfdetermined" itself already, through the "national-liberation fights" and "the brotherhood and unity" with the other yugoslav peoples. Dr. Ivanov answers, that this is pure demagogy, as the people of Macedonia has not had such possibility.This is supported by the fact, that the delegates from Macedonia, headed by M. Andonov-Tchento, consiously and with fighting have forced in the new constitution of Yugoslavia the "clause" for self-determination and separation from the

Federation, if this is in the interest of any of the republics. Now, after having been convinced, that Macedonia has no historical, ethnical, economical and other cultural interest common with Yugoslavia's Federation, they demand, with a suitable political fact, through referendum, approved by the Great Powers to leave the present Federation and to be pronounced an independent state under international guarantees. This will be a just historical deed, not only for the welfare of Macedonia, but also for the peace on the Balkans, Europe and the world. This is the programme and the demand of IMRO to the Paris Peace Conference, concludes Dr. Ivanov.

Against this statement of Dr. Ivanov reacts Tempo, calling the three doctors "pronounced bulgarian chauvinists", "michailovists", "fascists" etc. declaring that their idea of

" independent Macedonia" is "fascist" and unrealizable, because Bulgaria has long ago given up the idea and has admitted that in Macedonia there are no bulgarians. Furthermore, the affiliation of Pirin Macedonia to Yugoslavia was forthcoming.

Dr. Ivanov contradicts him, that the struggle of IMRO is popular and supported by the whole population of Macedonia for centuries, before anyone had heard the word "fascist", and as far as Pirin Macedonia"s joining of Yugoslavia, he did remember there was a case of Vardar Macedonia joining Bulgaria, but there has never been the opposite.

 At that moment, the russian representative, Vladimir Velitski, turns to Dr. Trentchev, who had kept silent till that moment, asking him whether he wants to say anything as the meeting was at its end. Dr. Trentchev said that, from what he has heard and seen, he has not noticed anything hopeful. His comrades have stated the aims of IMRO's struggle, which he unreservedly supports. He underlined that for the representatives of the Great Powers it should be clear that, if in Macedonia democratic conditions had existed, they would have defended their ideas by legitimate means, something they were striving for.

Till now, said the russian representative, every thing is clear, but what would they do in the future? As far as my personal opinion is concerned, stated Dr. Trentchev, I would say that it should not be expected of us to give up or denounce our ideas. With these ideas we have been brought up, with them we live and for them we are fighting. The situation, however, at present is such that only the Great Powers, in Paris, can decide whether to present Macedonia with liberty and independence or to leave it in its present situation. Inside Macedonia, itself, it is necessary to have thousands of innocent arrested people freed and a modus vivendi to be found between the authorities and IMRO. In this situation their exellencies could intermediate, concludes Dr. Trentchev.

After this unexpected statement of Dr. Trentchev, the authorities present, announce that this is demagogy and tactical step, aimed at misleading the representatives of the Great Powers on the nature of IMRO, by presenting it as a constructive public force.

At this place, the representatives of the Great Powers express their gratitude for the meeting, having it understood that it is over.

The behaviour of the three doctors, defending the programme of IMRO in front of the representatives of the Great Powers, enfuriates the highest ranking yugoslavian communist functionaries. After the meeting, the leaders of IMRO are thrown in horse wagons and in terrible cold travel two days from Belgrade to Scopije, without any food.

This is the end of an extremely important historical moment of the newest history of the struggles of IMRO for the liberation of Macedonia.This is maybe a unique case in the history of the national-liberative movements of the bulgarians in Macedonia, when representatives of the Great Powers officially meet arrested leaders of IMRO, and all this in a moment when the organisation and its ideas are rejected and persecuted in all Balkan countries.


The historical science will, still in the time to come, evaluate the national value of this event in the newest history of the bulgarians in Vardar Macedonia, after 1945 till now.

According the documental notes of Dr. V. Ivanov, after the end of the meeting, the three doctors manage to exchange opinions on the statements made by them. All three agree, that inspite of the unpreparedness for such a meeting, they have succeded to well present and defend their struggle and the ideas of IMRO on the resolution of the macedonian question.

A serious discussion, however, starts on Dr. Trentchev's statement. His two comrades accuse him even in "capitulationism", due to his words, that as though the activity of IMRO is

the reason for the mass outrages over the bulgarians in Macedonia in 1945-1946. As weakness is judged his appeal for the the foreign ambassadors to "intermediate" for reconciliation between the authorities and IMRO. Furthermore, they voice doubts of an arranged with the authorities statement.

T o all these remarks, Dr. Trentchev answers, that what he said is not different from that of his friends and that only in his concluding words he has said some more "diplomatic" words, so that the foreign diplomats not to remain with the impressons that the leaders of IMRO are people, with whom tolerant conversation is not possible. As far as the appeal for intermediation for a reconcilliation with the authorities, Dr. Trentchev answers, that he wanted to present IMRO as party, relying of the Great Powers.

The meeting of the three doctors in the positions of leaders of IMRO with the representatives of the Great Powers as well as their behaviour, is topic for discussions and comments not only among the arrested activists of IMRO, but also among all members of the organisation, still free in the territory of Vardar Macedonia and outside the country.

 Under the influence of the activity of IMRO, many organisations with the name and ideas of IMRO appear in Vardar Macedonia, acting independently for the liberation of Vardar Macedonia in the different regions since 1944 until now a days.

A special influence, due to its historical charisma and ideas, IMRO has over the young generation and mostly over the students and high-school pupils. There is not a single school or university in Vardar Macedonia, where there has not been IMRO youth organisation, discovered by the serbocomunist authorities. This is the biggest present and expression of gratitute for those fearless bulgarian patriots, who in 1945, reestablish the activity of IMRO

against the pan-serbian slavery in Macedonia, an idea and struggle for several generations since 1945 until today.


The reestablishment and the activity of IMRO after 1944 are aimed at the new serbian occupation, during which the cause of the macedonian bulgarians was rejected and persecuted even in Patriotic Front Bulgaria, when the idea of "macedonian nation" was implemented with sword and fire not only in Vardar and Aegian Macedonia, but also in Bulgaria.This is not only heroism, but mainly sense for historical premonition and responsability of the intelligentsia in Macedonia to its tribe.

 The readiness shown for selfsacrifice in the name of the struggle for official acceptance of the bulgarian nationality in Macedonia, the categorical demand in the memorandum of IMRO to the Paris Peace Conferene and the UN, for peaceful separation of Vardar Macedonia from the Yugoslavian Federation and the announcement, following a referendum of Macedonia as an "independent state", under the protection of the UN and the Great Powers is a great action of the macedonan bulgarians and mainly the intelligentsia in Macedonia. The course and the development of the historical events and processes on the Balkans, as well as those connected with the general development of the macedonian question in the decades that followed, proved the correctness of the historical views, basis of the ideas and programmes of IMRO since 1945, relating to the future resolution of the macedonian question, based on the historical thruth, outside the Yugoslavian federation, something of special actuality in our days.

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