Macedonia and Bulgarian National Nihilism
Ivan Alexandrov

(The notes were also inserted in the appropriate places in the text, V.K.

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.

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.

11. Kunchev V. Izbrani Proizvedenia (Selected Works). Vol 1 & 2, Sofia (1970).

12. Ivanov YN. Bulgarski Dialecten Atlas-Bulgarski Govori ot Egeiska Makedonia (Bulgarian Dialectical Atlas-Bulgarian Dialects in Aegean Macedonia). Vol 1, Bulgarian Academy Sciences; Sofia (1972).

13. Mischew D (pseudonym: DM Brankov). La Macedoine et sa population Chretienne (avec deux cartes ethnograhiques). Paris (1905).

14. Founded 3nd November 1893 in Salonika, that is within Ottoman Macedonia, by Dame Gruev, Ivan Hadzhinikolov, Andon Dimitrov, Hristo Tatarchev, Petur Poparsov and Hristo Batandzhiev. Dr Tatarchev was elected as the first President of the group which initially referred to itself as "Macedonian Revolutionary Organization" (Makedonska revoliutsionna organizatsiia). The organization was first officially known (1897) as the "Bulgarian-Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization" (Bulgarsko-Makedonsko-Odrinsko revoiiutsionna organizatsiia). The title was changed in 1902 to "Secret Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization" (Taina Makedonska-Odrinska revoiiutsionna organizatsiia). After 1905 sources also referred to it as the now familiar IMRO (Vutrehsnata Makedonska revoliutsionna organizatsiia). The aim of IMRO, explicitly defined within its 1897 statutes, was to "gain full political autonomy for Macedonia and the Adrianople Vilayet". Membership however was limited by the statutes to

"any Bulgarian, irrespective of sex, who has not compromised himself in the eyes of the community ... and who promises to be of service in some way to the revolutionary causa of liberation"

In 1902 Gotse Delchev revised the statutes, which he and Giorche Petrov had written in 1897. This was an attempt to make IMRO a more ethnically representative organization. Therefore the title was changed to SMARO and the first article now read

"The aim of SMARO Is to unite in one whole, all discontented elements in Macedonia and the Adrianople area, irrespective of nationality, to win full political autonomy for these two provinces through revolution"

However it is uncertain whether these new amendments were ever ratified.

15. The rebellion actually commenced on 2nd August (St. Elijah's Day or Ilinderi) 1903 in the village of Smilevo, near the city of Bitolia. In Adrianople the revolt was called the Preobrazhenski Uprising. The late commencement of action (September) in the Seres district was due to the initial reluctance by local IMRO activists, led by Yane Sandanski, to take part. In all IMRO lost at least 994 men, while the Turkish


dead reached 5,328. Some 4,694 Christian noncombatants were also killed. The revolt lasted to about 19th November 1903.

16. Military revolt instigated by the Ottoman Committee of Union and Progress and supported by the Third Army Corps in Salonika, which led to the overthrow of the old and corrupt regime in Constantinople and the restitution of the 1876 Ottoman constitution with its elected assembly.

17. During 1908 Todor Panitza, Hadji Dimov and Dimiter Vlahov together with other noted IMRO activists, particularly Yane Sandanski, formed the Popular Federal Party (PFP), of Socialist-Communist ideology, to contest the Turkish elections. At this time Sandanski and his supporters had been in fact expelled from IMRO and only had support in the Seres and Drama regions. The main reason relates to the murder in 1907 by Panitza, acting on Sandanski's orders, of Boris Saratov and Ivan Garvanov, both members of IMRO's Central Committee. Sarafov had been a key IMRO figure working closely with Gotse Delchev at the turn of the century and had raised large monetary sums abroad to finance the fight against the Turks. The Young-Turks quickly realized the divisive advantage in favouring Sandanski's "outlawed" IMRO faction, and numerous historic photographs clearly show Sandanski posing with and being honoured by the highest officials of the Young-Turks regime. In a speech before the Ottoman Parliament the Deputy Habib-Bey stated (19th January 1909) stated

"One faction (in IMRO) seeks many conditions from the Young-Turks Committee, while the other strives to become Ottoman. This latter is the faction of Sandanski. This faction is fully Ottoman and will remain committed. Let their publications be distributed and their wishes met so that they might bring all Bulgarians closer to us"

For their alignment with the Young-Turks Sandanski and Panitza received many special privileges denied the general population. Furthermore they ruthlessly controlled all aspects of administration within their region and misappropriated public funds destined for education etc to increase their own personal wealth. Independent corroboration of all these facts is available from the published memoirs of Young-Turks like Kyazim-Bey (pseudonym Sheih Muhsin Fani, printed Sep 1970 in the Turkish newspaper "Bizim Anadolu" under the heading "The Revolution of 10th July and its aftermath"). Kyazim-Bey served in the Seres (Sandanski's) region, Salonika and was later an elected member of the Young-Turks Party. Sandanski and the PFP had little or no support from the Bulgarian-Macedonians. Note the following passage written by the well-known author and statesman Charles Roden Buxton, who visited Macedonia and the Turkish regimes on many official occasions.


"Why are there only four Macedonian Bulgars in the Parliament?" he asked suddenly, with an indignant flash in his ayes. "And one or two of those are Sandansky's men, who threw themselves into the arms of the Committee at the start. They would never have been put up by their own fellow-countrymen, and don't represent them" from Turkey in Revolution. T Fisher Unwin, London, p. 252-253, 1909. In Jan 1910, the Central Committee of the PFP, on Vlahov's instigation, expelled Sandanski, on the grounds he and his supporters were working contrary to PFP ideology and seeking rapprochement with the Bulgarian Constitutional Clubs. This caused a major split within the PFP as the Seres and Drama members continued to support Sandanski and Panitza. Sandanski was assassinated on 23nd April 1915 by unknown person(s). Panitza later became an active Serbian and Greek agent and was killed for complicity in Todor Alexandroff’s murder, amongst numerous other reasons, by Mentcha Kernitcheva (Vienna, 7th May 1925), dubbed the "Avenging Angel".

18. Macedonism represents a contention that a separate and unique "Macedonian" race exists, separate from either Bulgarian or Serbian. Some adherents however also claim that "Macedonians" are in fact a non-Slavic race with a direct lineage from the "Ancient Macedonians" of Alexander the Great. Macedonism is an example of sophism, originally encouraged by the Serbians and then championed by the YCP to benefit their political aspirations with respect to formation of a Balkan Federation.

19. Young G. Nationalism and War in the Near East. Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, London, p. 268-270 (1915).

"It seems quite possible that, if left to itself, the campaign would have ended in favour of the Bulgars"

20. This was Blagoev's political party in which he broached no deviation from the rigid Marxist ideology of preparation for a full-scale socialist revolution.

21. Occurred on 19th April 1876 in the town of Koprivshtitsa. In the ensuing Turkish retribution some 40,000 men, women and children were massacred.

22. Took place in the Kresna and Razlog areas of Eastern Macedonia, as a reaction to the dismemberment of San Stefano Bulgaria.

23. Organized by the BCP on 23rd September 1923, with limited support from the Agrarians. The uprising was completely crushed by 28th September, with most of the BCP's leadership, including G Dimitrov (1882-1949) and Vasil Kolarov, departing to Moscow.


24. Clissod S. Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union 1939-1973: a Documentary Survey. Oxford University Press. London, p 31-32, 153-156 (1975). The following is an excerpt from a message Tito sent to Moscow (4th Sep 1941)

"The Macedonian Regional Committee refused to remain in contact with us and linked up with the Bulgarian CP as soon as tha occupation of Macedonia started. Sarlo refused to answer the CC's thrice repeated summons to come to Belgrade for a meeting in which the Macedonian question could be thrashed out. He refused to distribute the proclamation of the YCP CC calling for military actions, issued a directive that all arms should be surrendered to the authorities and adopted a stance in favour of a Soviet Macedonia and of waiting for the Red Army. He adopted a hostile attitude towards the Serbian comrades in Macedonia. Sarlo has been making speeches to the members against the leadership of the YCP and its Secretary, dubbing him pro-British because it was stated in the proclamation that Yugoslavia has been enslaved [ie that Macedonia was not liberated, as the Bulgars claimed]"

25. Established in 1921 to support the creation of an autonomous Macedonia within a South Slav Federation, a concept very similar to that advocated by the communists in the early 1920s. The initial leaders were Philip Athanasov, Todor Panitza and Vlahov. The group organized a number of armed forays into Vardar Macedonia where they also attacked the IMRO fighters. In the aftermath of the failed rapprochement between IMRO, MFO and Communists (July 1924) Vlahov split from the Federalists to form IMRO-U, because he favoured a more communist-oriented political stance. After Alexandroff’s murder a number of key Federalists, including Panitza, were assassinated by IMRO and the organization more or less disappeared as a viable entity.

26. Founded in Vienna on 1st April 1926 by Dimitar Vlahov. Vlahov was an original member of the PFP (see ref. 17). During WWI the Bulgarian Government appointed him as District Governor of the Prishtina region in Kosovo, then as King Boris's Consul-General at Vienna. The IMRO-U statutes were published in an issue of Federation Balcanique with the same date, and supported the establishment of an united and independent Macedonia within a Balkan Federation - an identical policy to that advocated by the Balkan Communist Federation (BCF). IMRO-U never had popular support because most viewed Vlahov as a communist agent, an accusation he strenuously denied. In April 1929 however the BCF openly recognized IMRO-U and 5 years later Vlahov was writing for Communist publications. Vlahov dissolved IMRO-U in 1936 and departed for Moscow, returning in 1943 as part of Tito's YCP and a major architect behind the subsequent construction of a Macedonian ethnic identity and its associated Republic. He became the first Premier of the Socialist Federal Republic of Macedonia and a vice-President within the Yugoslav Presidium.

27. Todor Alexandroff (1881-1924) was born in Shtip and as a youth took an active part in the komitadji campaign against Turkey. In 1903 he was gaoled by the Turks


in their Skopje prison, Kourshoumli-Han, but he managed to escape in 1904. By 1911 he had become a member of the IMRO Central Committee. During the Balkan War he organized a volunteer regiment of 15,000 Bulgarians from Macedonia and Thrace to support the war effort. In the devastation that followed the 2nd Balkan War and WWI he rebuilt IMRO to oppose the Serbian and Greek denationalization policy towards the Bulgarian-Macedonians. When the Stamboliski Government sought a Bulgarian-Yugoslavian rapprochement, which also required elimination of IMRO and the Macedonian problem, Alexandroff openly challenged the Bulgarian government's authority. Alexandroff was assassinated on 31st August 1924 in the aftermath of active negotiations between IMRO, MFO and the Communists which failed to appease Socialist ambitions. In 1928 Mihailoff had General Protogerov executed for complicity in Alexandroff s murder.

28. In Nov 1920 IMRO asked the Macedonian people to vote for the Communists (the most unpopular party at that time) as a poignant protest against the Paris Treaty and at their classification as Serbs. The resulting election figures provide clear proof of IMRO's popular support. Although the Vardar Macedonian population was only 1 million, compared to 15 million for the whole of Yugoslavia, Macedonia returned 17 of the 50 elected Communists in a Parliament of 238 delegates. Thus the Communist vote in Macedonia was some 5.1 times the national average, a fact reported by many foreign journalists.

29. Ivan Mihailoff (1896-1990) succeeded as leader after Todor Alexandroff s assassination. He became an internationally known Balkan revolutionary, forging strong links with Macedonian emigrants in America and also Ante Pavelic's Croatian nationalist movement. It was one of Mihailoff’s men, Vlado Tchernozemsky, who assassinated King Alexander in Marseilles while working with Croatian nationalists. Mihailoff was forced to flee Sofia in 1934 when the military outlawed IMRO. Towards the end of WWII the Germans asked Mihailoff to govern a Macedonian State that they would proclaim. He travelled to Skopje, but after conferring with his associates, he decided against such an undertaking. In his latter years he wrote many articles and texts, and gave numerous interviews on the "Macedonian Question".

• Stalin and the Macedonian Question (pseudonym Macedonicus). Pearlstone Publishing Co., St Louis (1948).

• Macedonia: A Switzerland of the Balkans. Pearlstone Publishing Co., St Louis (1950).

• SPOMENI. (in Bulgarian) Volumes 1-4, Western Newspaper Publ Co., Indianapolis.


30. Armed security units charged with maintaining "law and order". They were organized and directed by Bulgarian liaison officers attached to the German and Italian occupying forces.

31. During the Greek dictatorship of General Pangalos, a border incident led to Greek troops crossing the Bulgarian border at Kula and shelling the town of Petrich (20th Oct 1925). The local IMRO militia resisted the Greeks who withdrew some 8 days later. A subsequent League of Nations Inquiry found the Greeks had violated the League Covenant.

32. Krste Misirkov (1874-1926) because of his book "On Macedonian Matters" (Sofia, 1903), supporting Macedonism, is often quoted by the Skopje propagandists. However Misirkov's 1903 views had negligible popular support, and his book was read by only a handful of people. Misirkov subsequently repudiated all his own claims in "On Macedonian Matters", spent his final years as a History Professor in Sofia, and in many articles/letters unequivocally affirmed his Bulgarian nationality. These facts are not disclosed by Macedonist historians, who prefer instead to rationalize any of Misirkov's inconsistencies as follows:

"But we must keep in mind his real purposes and aims, and not judge him only by the result of his actions" (Ristovski B. Macedonian Review. 1984; 14: 38-47).

33. The BCP always considered the Macedonian Question secondary in comparison to advancing the Socialist revolution in Bulgaria, the Balkans and the World. It allowed its infatuation with Internationalism to reach such extremes that in the end the national interests of the Bulgarian people were sacrificed. This is no more apparent than in the three censuses held in Bulgaria in 1946, 1956 and 1965 which recorded the numbers of "Macedonian" nationals as 180 000, 187 789 and 8 750 respectively. These "statistics" have been exploited by the Macedonists to claim that even Bulgaria (more accurately Georgi Dimitrov and the BCP) had admitted the existence of a Macedonian nationality. Recently, archival records from the BCP have become available which further highlight the fabrication associated with both the 1946 and 1956 censuses.

1946 Census: Unlike the normal Census which was supervised by the Office of Statistics, the one in 1946 was controlled directly by the BCP. A resumé of some official documents clearly exposes the deception involved. On 21/12/46 the BCP Regional Committee in Gorna Jumaya received the following report from the secretary Krsto Stoychev:

"As regards tho forthcoming census the Central Committee has decreed that the population in our district be registered as Macedonians"

Also recorded in the official minutes, we read


"the question was raised how to complete the census with respect to the spoken language; and it was decided to let the people write Bulgarian mainly in the cities, and Macedonian mainly in the villages"

The following day, 22/12/46, key personnel of the District Committee were summoned and one of them comments on the advice received:

"in the District Committee we were told that if we did not achieve a greater than 70% Macedonian proportion then we should take our hats and go"

On 24/12/46 the Regional Directorate of the MVR (Internal Security Organization) received from Sofia a circular (No. 3628) which was distributed to all district authorities and mayors. In this circular was the strong implication that the local population was mainly of Macedonian descent. A new and even more unreserved instruction is received on 25/12/46 (circular No. 32B) which demanded that district authorities ensured that city and village mayors fulfil all necessary requirements of the census and that the non-compliant will be severely dealt with. On 27/12/46 the District Governor of Razlog sent the following urgent telegram to all mayors in the district

"By order of the Head Director of Statistics, advise all counters and controllers that for the question of nationality, it should bo entered Macedonian except for those who have most recently come from Bulgaria"

During the same day another telegram (No. 10269) was received by the District Governor of Nevrokrop, George Lakov, in which the mayors are ordered

"Don't delay in calling counters and controllers and inform them that when filling in Clause 13 of the Household Card and Clause 5 of the Household List B, nationality is to be entered Macedonian except for the Jews, Gypsies, Turks and recently arrived Bulgarians"

In the proceedings of the Plenum of the Petrich BCP District Committee, held 4th-5th August 1948, it is unequivocally stated

"Under pressure by the Regional Committee we intimidated the counters, and taking advantage of the geographic concept in our explanation, we managed to record 98% of the population as Macedonian. The true situation is that within our district the people see no distinction between the terms Bulgarian and Macedonian. After a thorough education program which accompanied and preceded the census on 31/12/46, we succeeded in convincing the majority of the BCP members in the directive of the Party, to write ourselves as Macedonian, and that any discussion on this subject was closed ......even during the census we forcibly wrote down Macedonian for many of these people"

People opposed to the BCP "denationalization" policy were persecuted. Mr S Boyadjief, current President of IMRO-UMD in Bulgaria, recounts how in 1946 he and thousands of other Bulgarians received long prison sentences (SB 5yr) in the Belene concentration camp for refusing to declare themselves Macedonian.

1956 Census: Although the Tito-Stalin split ended all territorial aspirations for the YCP to annex the Pirin region, BCP support for Macedonism continued. In the aftermath of Stalin's death, and during the new Krushchev era, the devout Stalinist Chervenkov and his followers were gradually removed from power. The April Plenum of 1956 was the turning point for a new direction in the BCP under the leadership of Todor Zhivkov. While a decision was taken to renounce the former UCP policy of Macedonism, the resolutions of the Plenum kept confidential. The public was only informed that the leadership had changed. Subsequent implementation of BCP policy change was very slow and quite subject to Soviet-Yugoslav relations. Only after 1963 did the BCP openly renounce its former contention that a "Macedonian" nationality existed, and then five years later in 1968 the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences was permitted to publish a position paper on the Macedonian Question. In support of this sequence Mr S Boyadjief states that in 1959 he was imprisoned for one year for affirming his Bulgarian rather than Macedonian nationality. The evidence establishes that the figures for both the 1946 and 1956 censuses, in regard to the numbers of self-declared "Macedonians", were falsified by the BCP to support continuing Stalinist policies.

34. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Report of the International (Commission: to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars. Washington DC, Publication No. 4 (1914).

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