Macedonia and Bulgarian National Nihilism
Ivan Alexandrov


Last year was the 150th anniversary of the birth of the greatest son of our people, Vasil Levski [1], while this year we acknowledge the 110th anniversary since the creation of the third national Bulgarian state by the San Stefano Treaty (3rd March 1878). However the Treaty of Berlin (8th June 1878) restricted the Bulgarian state to less than 33% of the territory inhabited by the Bulgarian majority. After the union with East Rumelia (20th September 1885), the Serbo-Bulgarian war of 1885 and the wars of the 20th century, Bulgaria today only occupies slightly more than 55% of its true lands.

Bulgarian Ethnic Territory lost at the Treaty of Berlin (June 1878) from San Stefano Bulgaria - [1] given to Serbia - [2] and [3] returned to Turkey - [4] given to Romania.

Any discussion of this well known topic requires reappraisal of several pertinent historic events concerned with the period. In reality however, this simply means examination of the Macedonian Question, for there is no other controversy of comparable importance to Bulgaria both scientifically and politically. The objective scientific facts provide ample evidence to assail the distortions of Bulgarian history and culture, while political analysis allows us to expose foreign attempts to identify a national minority within the Bulgarian people as justification for acquisition of centuries old Bulgarian territory. It is for these very reasons that even more information must be revealed on these critical past events so that the numerous "blank pages" of Bulgaria's history may be written and understood.


On this theme it is important to understand the words of our first Party and State activist, Todor Zhivkov [2], when he said

"we look at history from contemporary class-party positions, so that for today's lessons we may learn from the light and not the darkness"

More than twenty years ago he also declared

"our Party could not handle some National questions vital to the development and needs of both the society and people ... Internationalism has no commonality with national nihilism and its associated apathy towards national history and destiny ... we are against every nihilistic attitude that reflects on our historic heritage ... and ... we must correctly combine the concepts of Nationalism and Internationalism"

The term "contemporary" is pertinent because at that time the class-party position was subject to the influence of the Left-Wing within the Socialist Movement and its attendant sectarianism and personality cults. Therefore on many occasions, and in no matter what form it was disguised, we chose dogmatism and Bulgarian national nihilism. That is why it is necessary to master Marxism-Leninism and constructively use it in the class-party approach, which is referred to today as the April Approach [3], enriched with the new ideology of Glasnost [4].

To speak about the Bulgarian National question in effect is to be confronted by two problems - the Macedonian Question and today's revisionist process. We consider the former a priority, since it more or less affects us all, as refugees from Macedonia, as their descendants, and as Bulgarian patriots. If we fail to explain and rationalize it completely, or if we fail to reject the amazing illogical views concerned with its most important aspects, then no progress is possible neither in a scientific nor political perspective. This realization is paramount when we rewrite Bulgarian history, when we educate the young generations, and most of all when we re-educate ourselves.

It is common knowledge that half-a-century before the Liberation (the creation of an independent Bulgaria by the Treaty of San Stefano), the heart of the Eastern Question was the Bulgarian National Question, and accordingly, after it the Macedonian Question became the essence of the Bulgarian National Question. Macedonia is intricately connected not only with the beginning of Bulgarian cultural history - the work of the brothers Cyril and Methodiu [5] - but also with the Bulgarian contribution to the cultural development of modern civilization. The genesis of Bulgarian ethnicity in the Middle Ages is linked to the name of St Clement of Ohrid [6], the Bulgarian national revival with Paiisi Hilendarski [7], and the beginnings of the working class movement with Dimiter Blagoev [8]. It is therefore indisputable that the epic events of Bulgarian history are concerned with Macedonia.


Amongst all the territories stripped from San Stefano Bulgaria and returned to bondage, namely North Dobrudja, Morava, Macedonia and Adrianople, the largest geographically, and with the most homogeneous Bulgarian population was Macedonia. That is why the population there continued a violent struggle, and at other times outright rebellion, against the unjust partition enacted by the various Peace treaties. Of the five wars that Bulgaria fought after Liberation in 1878, four were directly concerned with securing national and social emancipation for the Bulgarian people. This was most apparent during WWII. The arrival of the King Boris III's Army in Vardar Macedonia and the Western provinces brought true national liberation, but subsequently these territories were not incorporated into the new national Bulgaria.

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1. Vasil Ivanoff Levski (1837-1873) is a national Bulgarian revolutionary hero of the 19th century, executed in Sofia by the Turks on 6th February 1873.

2. Todor Zhivkov became a member of the BCP Central Committee in 1948, and rapidly rose to power following the April Plenum (see ref 3). After the expulsion of Chervenkov (1961) he became undisputed leader of the BCP until the recent worldwide collapse of communism. Following democratic elections in Bulgaria he was arrested and charged with "State-corruption". In 1992 he was found guilty and sentenced to 7 years gaol with further charges still pending.

3. Refers to the major change in BCP ideology resulting from the April Plenum (2nd-6th April 1956) which purportedly declared an end to Stalinism.

4. A concept associated with the "Gorbachev" era of Soviet politics. Glasnost refers to a new perceived "openness" in Government, while Perestroika is primarily concerned with transformation of the Communist economy so that it is no longer under Central control. The notion of Glasnost is not new: see Shashko P "A Bulgarian View of Glasnost, 1868", East European Quarterly 1993; 26: 391-405.

5. Sts Cyril (827-869) and Methodius (825-885) were Byzantine missionary monks and brothers, who devised a Slavonic alphabet which ultimately allowed the rapid development and spread of Bulgarian culture and literature throughout Eastern Europe.

6. St Clement (835-916), a disciple of Cyril & Methodius, created and developed an education centre at Ohrid which allowed the rapid and universal acceptance of Byzantine Christian culture amongst the Slavs. In 907 he became Bishop of Drembitsa and Belitsa, the first Bulgaria-speaking bishop - et sic Bulgaricae linguae Clemens primus constituitur episcopus.

7. Father Paiisi's (1722-98) manuscript "A History of the Slavic-Bulgarian People, Czars, and Saints", written at Mount Athos in 1762, is acknowledged as the catalyst behind the "national re-awakening" of the Bulgarian people.

8. Dimiter Blagoev (1855-1924) founder of Socialist doctrine in Bulgaria.