The salvation of the Macedonian Bulgarians from German prison in 1941
From: (Vassil Karloukovski)
Subject: Macedonian POW's during the WWII
Date: 4 May 2000 16:12:13 GMT
Organization: University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

 Probably this article I translated from the Bulgarian daily  "Demokracija" will be of some interest for you.

Regards, VK


The salvation of the Macedonian Bulgarians from German prison in 1941
by Stefan Rajnov-Rajnis

Daily "Demokracija", No 118, Thu 04 May 2000 989856

In the short war between Germany and Yugoslavia in 1941 the Yugoslav army was defeated and many officers and soldiers fell in captivity.  The German army started sending to Bulgaria thousands and thousands  of POWs from Macedonia, who identified as Bulgarian.

During that time (April-June 1941) more than three thousands captured Yugoslav soldiers from the Macedonian lands were camped in the fields near Caribrod (Dimitrovgrad) (a small Bulgarian town in eastern Serbia).

The Bulgarian Red Cross (BRC) immediately sent a special group equipped  with a field kitchen and the necessary food supplies and sanitary  materials. After that the BRC organized the transfer of the POWs towards  Slivnica and Sofia (V.K.: to Bulgaria) where it could help them in  better ways. The flow of new-coming prisoners did not stop and some of them were sent in the interior - to the towns of Russe, Veliko Turnovo, Sliven, Nikopol and Gorna Dzhumaja (Blagoevgrad). More than two thousand people in total.

This is one of the less known episodes of the humanitarian nature of the  Bulgarian people and of the Bulgarian Red cross, revealed in the recently printed book of Vassil Topuzov and Stefan Gladilov, "The Bulgarian Red  Cross during 1878-1998" (Academic publishing house "Prof. M. Drinov").

In Sofia a POW's camp was built near the capital's hippodrome. 700 people lived in the "Petar Beron" school and other Sofia schools.

The staff of the BRC as well as dozens of volunteers - samaritans and BRC volunteers, were taking care of the prisoners. The camp consisted of a  multitude of big tents and wooden hostels, field kitchens, first-aid  stations and hospital tents with beds for the sick. Every prisoner was  provided with cooked food - thrice a day, underwear, socks, a place to  sleep. There were also tents for common activities and freedom to move  out to the capital and to return whenever they liked.

The news about this camp spread very quickly in the country and dozens  of Bulgarians, former refugees from Macedonia and potential relatives to  the POWs started to arrive, looking to see their people. The BRC  cooperated with them in establishing contacts with their relatives in  (Vardar) Macedonia via letters. The BRC also made a complete list with  their addresses and very soon the prisoners started to return to their  native places.

Until the end of the summer of 1941 in Sofia and the other aforementioned towns arrived 11 590 Yugoslav POWs. The last group of 320 people arrived in Bulgaria on 16th October. They were prisoners from the following  districts: Kichevo, Debyr, Ohrid, Strumica, Berovo, Gostivar, Gevgelija,  Dojran, Kavadarci, Kumanovo, Kochani, Kratovo, Krushevo, Zajchar, Pirot  (V.K.: the last two were Bulgarian towns in Eastern Serbia and not in  Vardar Macedonia) and others.

304 more people arrived in Bulgaria as a result of the visits of  representatives of the Bulgarian Red Cross to the POW's camps in Germany. The repatriation to their native places never ceased, but still many  people remained in Bulgaria. The onset of the cold autumn days and of  the winter afterwards forced to send the newly-arriving POW's from Germany to the Jewish schools at the "Tsar kalojan" and "Ossogovo" streets in  Sofia. They remained there until the end of 1941 when all of them were  returned to their home places.

At the same time the headquarters of the BRC and its branches in the  country set up refreshment stations at the railway stations in Sofia  and in more than 20 other places in the country (along the route of  the home-coming POWs). The main stations were in the capital, in Gorna Dzhumaja (Blagoevgrad), Plovdiv, Shumen, Burgas. There the passing  soldiers and prisoners received cooked food, tea, medical assistance,  etc. There were also rooms for them to sleep.