Macedonia and Bulgarian National Nihilism
Ivan Alexandrov


In examining the conditions, and form of the struggle for national liberation since the appearance of the Macedonian Question to this very day, three distinct periods emerge.

The First period - from the Treaty of Berlin (1878) until the Balkan wars (1913), is characterized until the union with East Rumelia, with struggles for direct liberation and unification and then a struggle to achieve the autonomy of Macedonia and Adrianople.

The Second period - from the partition of Macedonia until the beginning of WWII in the Balkans, is characterized only at the beginning with a struggle for unification; then, after the second partition of Macedonia in 1919, with a struggle for national self-preservation.

The Third period - from the transferring of the Macedonian Communist Party (MCP) in Vardar Macedonia to the Yugoslavian Communist Party (YCP), until the present, witnessed not only a continuous struggle for national self-preservation within Bulgaria, but also a rather late realization to defend the historic truth.

We consider these periods, not as of critical importance to Macedonian history, but to highlight how within the passage of time the Bulgarian position has been continually eroded. Accordingly, we have to alternatively consider the struggle for national unification and autonomy, the resistance to denationalization and finally the importance of the historic truth and its appropriate recognition.

Unfortunately in our historiography we only have factual works for the first period (so-called Ottoman), the other two subjects are still at an elementary phase. However, it is important to acknowledge that some historians and translators have implemented programs on these subjects. But even within the first period we still lack essential materials. For example we do not have an accurate ethnographic illustration of San Stefano Bulgaria, which represented some 80% of the true historic Bulgarian territories Because of this negligence on our part, foreign powers represent lands taken after the Berlin Treaty, not in their factual and original ethnic Bulgarian content, but in today's ethnographies without acknowledging the forced changes and falsifications contained therein.


Another important issue relates to the creation and role of the Bulgarian Exarche [9] in 1870, which represents a momentous achievement of the Bulgarian people. By its recognition as a religious-cultural institution the Bulgarian Nation was acknowledged as a distinct and separate ethnic group within the Turkish Empire. However some of our neighbours portray the Bulgarian Exarche as an instrument of Greater-Bulgarian propaganda which "created" Bulgarians in Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia. These same people are now referred to as Bugarashi in Serbia and as Bulgaraphone Greeks in Greece.

There resides the problem, and it is appropriate to ask what led the Bulgarian Nation to be so indifferent with respect to its own history and people. The explanation is essential for any true renaissance. Initially we must admit that certain reasons related to naive political and invalid historic hypotheses allowed assertions and positions to evolve which not only impeded proper historic development, but also restricted (suppressed) proper national and patriotic education.

The nationally disastrous link between Socialist patriotism and Internationalism becomes evident in many examples. For example in the early years after the socialist revolution in Bulgaria, thousands of Bulgarians, mainly from Aegean Macedonia, sought refuge within our country. Our leaders however accepted them not as "Bulgarians", but as "Macedonians". We showed no patriotism, nor even Internationalism, which simply required us to accept them as refugees escaping from persecution and forced denationalization policies. Amazingly however, Bulgaria chose to openly condone those very same denationalization policies against its own people. But there is much more and even more damning. From a cataclysm of errors of past decades, and to a lesser extent after the April Plenum (1956) of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP), we feel the strong influence of sectarian-dogmatic and national nihilistic concepts within our very consciousness, and this same perception deters us from declaring the historic truth in its entire uncensored form. Even at the 7th Congress of the BCP (1958) it was stated

"important tasks lay in front of our historians. They must continue with vigour the Marxist interpretation of Bulgarian history and illuminate fully all its heroic and progressive aspects. The falsifiers of Bulgarian history who exist beyond our borders, particularly some Skopje historians, should be rebuked and confronted with the historic truth established from the Marxist-Leninist point of view"

While there have been much progress in political ideology since that time, with respect to the Macedonian Question not only do we fail to advance, but in reality most times we regress.


Within the Macedonian Liberation Movement [10] (MLM) there were some members who had a minor role and little prominence or popular support. Consider that today these same people are portrayed as outstanding revolutionaries, and promoted to levels of adulation which we reserve for Bulgaria's national revolutionary heroes like Vasil Levski, Hristo Botev (1848-76) and many others. This phenomena can only be described as self-delusion. We must not resign ourselves to the stagnation which so typifies our historic progress on the Macedonian Question. No comparable situation exists elsewhere in Bulgarian social life where so many people from all walks of life embrace old, obsolete and mistaken concepts. Here we see quite unchanged the spirit of the old middle-class partizanship. While the April Plenum created new conditions and corrected many anomalies, on the Macedonian Question we have advanced very little. The "old guard" and its ideas does not surrender without a bitter fight. It consistently enlists various forms of scholastic adaption and attendant Left phraseology to obscure and protect its position. For example we note that many individuals still fail to acknowledge the manifest inaccuracy of their past assertions and conclusions, and hold steadfast to these unshakeable beliefs (dogmas), which they continue to promote as true.

The Macedonian Question, together with that of Adrianople, arose as an indivisible part of Bulgarian nationalism the day after the partition of Bulgaria in 1878, four decades before the creation of the Yugoslavian state. However under the lingering influence of the old YCP, Bulgaria chose at times to accept it as a part of the Balkan Question and thus as an internal Yugoslavian matter. Accordingly quite often, prevailing Bulgarian foreign policy, which more aptly may be termed political vacillation, seeks to repress efforts directed aimed at substantiation and evolution of the historic truth. This overt negligence (ignorance?) on the Macedonian Question includes not only the Press, but also extends to respected historic reviews and texts. Thus when discussion focuses on some very significant and basic questions we still allow ourselves to promote incorrect facts, and as always, to our own disadvantage. From this fact we may only conclude that national nihilism is a deep-seated feature of our character. These historic failures relate to three distinct themes - territory, ethnic composition and language.

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9. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church, which was re-established on 11th March 1870 by a Firman (Royal Decree of the Sultan) authorized by the Sublime Porte (Government of the Ottoman Empire).

10. Collective term for all Bulgarian organizations, located either within Macedonia or Bulgaria, which sought to liberate Macedonia from Turkish rule.