Report for the US government’s Inquiry during WW I (1918)

Albert Sonnichsen







Albert Sonnichsen


Jan 28 1918 

(Property of the Inquiry. United States Government)


Scans as a .pdf file (4.2 Mb)



-  Race dispersion  2

-  Macedonian revolutionary organization  4

-  Political program of the Macedonian committee  8

-  Macedonian policies of Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria  9

-  How the Macedonians were forced into partnership with Bulgaria  10

-  Macedonian and Bulgarian pro-Ally sentiment  13

-  Proposals for a settlement  16

-  Macedonia as a separate member of a Federal union of Balkan states  19

-  Macedonia annexed by Bulgaria  21

-  Macedonia divided between Serbia and Greece. Macedonia annexed by Serbia  22

-  Criticism of the proposal for an Independent Macedonia  23



The following remarks and suggestions are based solely on the personal experience of the writer; personal observations and the expressed opinions of the leading Macedonians and Bulgarians, gathered during a long and continuous association with them. In the summer of 1904 I went out to the Balkans, on the invitation of the Macedonian Revolutionary Committee, and remained there until the early spring of 1907. During this period I acquired a fluent knowledge of the Bulgarian language and was, therefore, able to carry on direct conversation with all natives of the Bulgar districts after having been there seven or eight months. The first year I spent in Bulgaria, mostly in the frontier town of Kustendil, with frequent visits to Sofia, the capital. The second year was spent in the field with the armed forces of the Revolutionary Committee, save for a month or more spent in hiding in Monastir and another month, during which I toured certain villages in the Monastir district disguised as a peasant. Throughout the whole period I made a fairly complete survey of the whole territory organized by the Macedonian Committee, becoming especially familiar with the natural frontiers of the Bulgar districts, through Vodena, Florina, Castoria and Ochrida. At no time was I under the control of the Committee leaders, having command of the bands





detailed to serve as my escort and being limited in my movements only by the danger of coming into too close a contact with the armed enemies of the revolutionary movement, who, obviously, were deeply interested in eliminating me from the field. The correspondence which I carried on for the press, mostly the New York Evening Post, during these wanderings, was under no form of censorship and was sent through by means of couriers chosen by myself. So complete and general was my knowledge of the Committee’s affairs that I was acquainted with the identities of the members of all the secret committees in Salonika, Vodena, Monastir and all the smaller communities in practically all of Southern Macedonia, a knowledge not entrusted to any other individual outside the Central Committee.





Since a thorough understanding of the fundamental political situation in the Balkans, and more especially in Macedonia, must rest on as complete a collection of facts as possible, I shall outline briefly certain historical events which are not included in the general literature of the subject and which have a vital importance as a basis for my plea for an





independent Macedonia.


As is known to all close and impartial observers, the Balkans are mainly inhabited by Slavs. The Slavs, again, are divided into two main branches: Bulgars and Serbs.


Roughly speaking (and I doubt if anybody can be accurate here), the dividing line between these two Slavic groups runs from the Danube down through Nisch, Vranya, Uskup, then swings westward over toward Albania.


South of Uskup the Bulgar territory is bounded on the west by Albania, the line running down to about the western shore of Lake Ochrida, around to Koritza. Here the Greeks begin to take the place of the Albanians as neighbors of the Bulgars.


The Bulgars themselves reach down solidly to below the two lakes, Ochrida and Little Prespa and slightly below Castoria (town and lake). For a certain distance in this section, along the Grebina mountains, there is a strip of Vlach population which forms a sort of a buffer between the Bulgars and the Greeks. From slightly below Castoria the line runs over through Florina, or a little below it, continues over to well below Vodena, or through Negush, or Negostia, then swings around Salonika and travels coastward, toward the seacoast. Kavalla is quite





Greek, while Serres and Drama constitute the centers of a mixed population, the Greeks predominating southward, especially along the coast.


The Turks cover no territory as a solid mass, but are sprinkled all over the Balkans, up to the Danube, as race islands. There are probably more Turks in and around Varna and Bourgas than anywhere else outside Constantinople and Adrianople.


The chief element in the population of Salonika is Jewish, or Ladino. The Greeks probably come next, then the Bulgars and Vlachs and Mohammedans. I do not give figures because I do not believe there are any, the estimates varying. The population beyond the outskirts of Salonika, northward and eastward, is about as purely and consciously Bulgar as may be found anywhere in Macedonia, the people speaking a dialect very close to the Bulgarian of Sofia.





The result of the Treaty of Berlin was that the Bulgar population of the Balkans had been arbitrarily divided, one section constituting free Bulgaria, the other remaining subject to Turkish rule, save for Eastern Rumelia, which enjoyed almost complete autonomy, until it seceded and annexed itself to Bulgaria, in 1884.


For the next fifteen years the Macedonian Bulgars made no special effort to translate their





Discontent into action. As in all countries suffering the oppressions of a foreign rule, patriot-brigand bands roamed the mountains, punishing the most flagrant offences against Bulgars by Turks.


Meanwhile many young Bulgars went up from Macedonia into Bulgaria to acquire their educations in the free schools and gymnasia of the principality, sometimes finishing in the University of Sofia. The majority remained, entered trade, or the professions, and some rose to high positions in the Army or the Government civil service. This Macedonian refugee population was estimated at about 50,000.


Some of these educated young Bulgars returned to Macedonia to teach schools in those villages where the people had been allowed to establish their own schools. In Southern Macedonia, however, the official schools were under the supervision of the Greek Patriarch, who, naturally exerted all his efforts to suppress Bulgar speech. From time to time the representative of the Bulgar Church, the Exarch, in Constantinople, succeeded in having the territory or Bulgar schools extended.


The fact was, however, that those communities under the jurisdiction of the Greek Patriarch, had no schools at all, since they boycotted the Greek schoolmasters. Into these villages the young Macedonians





who had been educated in Bulgaria entered and established secret schools. So much were they persecuted, by both the Turkish officials and representatives of the Greek Church, that they were practically outlaws, conducting their classes at night, or with outposts stationed around the village to warn them of the approach of enemies to give them time to flee.


Gradually, in the middle 90’s, this system of illegal schoolteaching began to take a more ambitious phase. The children’s classes began to assume the character of secret propaganda meetings of adults, The subjects of discussion became political. Local committees were organized which, at first, were rather indefinite in character, but gradually became distinctly revolutionary.


The two principal leaders in this revolutionary propaganda movement were Gotze Deltchev and Damian Gruev, both schoolteachers. Giving up their local activities in Monastir district they began, with the assistance of the patriot brigands, to tour the whole of Macedonia, organizing local committees.


By the first few years of the new century these local committees had been extended practically all over Macedonia and Adrianople and had assumed a distinctly political character. Local committees were federated into





provincial committees, which in their turn each elected a member to a Central Committee, in which was vested supreme authority. Meanwhile many of the brigand bands had declared allegiance to the Committee (as the whole organization was called) and recognized the authority of the provincial committees. Such as did not were killed off or driven out by the villagers themselves and other bands were organized, subservient to the authority of the Committee. Thus the brigand bands also changed in character; became a sort of secret constabulary through which the Committee enforced its authority.


Thus the Macedonian and Adrianopolitan Interior Revolutionary Organization, as the Committee officially called itself (Makedonska e Odrinsko Vutershina Revolutzianarna Organizatzia), gradually assumed the proportions and functions of an underground republic, a secret government established by the people, on a democratic basis, to maintain as much order as was possible under the anarchy of Turkish misrule. The executive was the Central Committee, and the provincial and local committees. The legislative branch was the yearly Congress, held once a year in some mountain fastness and local conferences, held under similar conditions. The committees also assumed judicial functions, each constituting itself a local tribunal, the court of appeal being the Central Committee, which must approve all death sentences.





The fundamental laws of the organization were embodied in a carefully crafted constitution, printed and distributed among the villagers.





Contrary to what might be expected from its name, the object of the Macedonian Committee was not revolutionary, in a military sense. That is, it did not propose to employ armed force in gaining its chief ends. The arm bands at the disposal of the provincial committees were for defensive purposes and to enforce order. Nor was the ultimate aim of the Committee an independent Macedonia. It aimed at an autonomous, constitutional Macedonia, under Turkey. Its slogan was “Macedonia for the Macedonians”. So strongly was this insisted on that the Bulgars or Macedonians gradually ceased calling themselves Bulgars and insisted that they were “Macedonians" only. This policy brought in practically all the Vlachs and many Albanians, Pomacks and Turks into the organization. Several of the prominent leaders were Vlachs.


The methods by which the Committee proposed to gain these political ends is best expressed in a slogan printed at the head of one of its secret organs: “Evolution, not Revolution”. First of all, the leaders had faith in the ultimate triumph of the Young Turks, with whom they were in close touch. They believed that the Turks themselves





would ultimately bring about a constitutional Turkey. Their chief program of action, however, was one of attrition. They hoped by a sort of an economic boycott to render Macedonia so unprofitable to the Turks that they would grant reforms themselves. Thus, they boycotted the Turkish courts, Turkish landlords, Turkish merchants, etc.





When the existence and the policy of the Macedonian Committee became known to the governing cliques of the neighboring states, these latter soon showed themselves violently opposed. All three of those states, Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria, held annexationist ambitions, mutually exclusive with the purposes of the Macedonian Committee. And all three immediately sent armed bands across the frontiers to suppress the Committee. The Committee, however, had already acquired a strength and high degree of organization not suspected as yet by their enemies and they easily repelled these attacks from the outside.


The Bulgarian court was especially handicapped in that there was a strong race sympathy between the two peoples, augmented by the presence of the 50,000 immigrants. Popular indignation soon compelled Ferdinand to abandon his hopes of accomplishing his desires through armed force.


Henceforward he pursued a policy of corruption, his chief agent being Boris Sarafov, a young Macedonian lieutenant in the Bulgarian Army who "resigned" his commission and entered into the Committee. Sarafov once or twice almost





succeeded in disrupting the organization, at least, in causing an annexationist policy to be adopted by the Committee, but he ultimately failed and was assasinated by order of the Committee.


I cannot make it too plain that at that time, from 1900 to 1906, the Macedonians were unalterably opposed to annexation with Bulgaria. How sincere this feeling may have been in the beginning is a matter of doubt, but there can be no doubt that Ferdinand’s intrigues, backed by the higher military elements in Bulgaria, roused a deep-seated resentment against the Bulgarian Government in Macedonia. As an instance, one of my associates in Macedonia, a leader of one of the larger bands, had attempted to assasinate Ferdinand and establish a republic in Bulgaria. As an enemy of the Committee Ferdinand was ranked next to the Greek Patriarch, the most hated of all.





When the Young Turks rose against the old Turkish regime the Macedonian Committee was with them. For some years they had been working together and were striving for the same ends; a constitutional Turkey.


Then Abdul Hamid was dethroned a Young Turk army entered Constantinople to suppress the reactionary elements. At the head of that army marched Yane Sandanski, one of the principal chiefs of the Committee’s field forces and with him was his old band of a hundred “comitajis”.





The spirit of Young Turkey was overwhelmed by the reactionary elements as time progressed.


The Committee, bitterly disappointed, resumed its secret activities as before. Sandanski and his colleagues retired into the mountains again.


The following information I have from persons who certainly were in a position to know. I cannot, however, vouch for the accuracy of every detail of the information conveyed to me. Briefly, it is to this effect.


Just before the Balkan states formed their alliance against Turkey, resulting in the First Balkan War, a representative of Ferdinand approached the Committee through Sandanski, and promised an independent Macedonia if the Macedonian would support the invading armies of Serbia and Bulgaria. Both Bulgaria and Serbia were behind this preposition. Greece agreed to it later, after attempting to impose certain limitations to the territory of the proposed free Macedonia.


Sandanski, in the name of the Committee, accepted the offer and when hostilities broke out he had already overrun the Bansko caza, close to the Bulgarian frontier, and afterwards rendered important services in protecting the right flank of the Bulgarian army in Thrace.


The intervention of Austria regarding Albania





forced a revision of the treaties under which Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria had entered the war. Both Greece and Serbia demanded territory which should have been included in the independent Macedonia they had promised to establish, in compensation for their losses in Albania.


Sandanski and his Macedonian following, including a number of men high in position or rank in the Bulgarian government and Army, opposed the suggested revision bitterly. Their influence carried the day, against Ferdinand, it is said, and thus the Second Balkan war was brought about.


Followed the Treaty of Bucharest, handing over the main strongholds of the Macedonian Committee to Greece and Serbia.


Both Serbia and Greece now instituted severe programs of “nationalization” in their respective shares of Macedonian territory. Whole communities were expatriated and Greek and Serbian colonists settled on the confiscated lands. The exiled Macedonians went to Bulgaria, where their presence added still more to the bitterness against Serbia and Greece.


With the outbreak of the present great war there came a split among the people of Bulgaria. On one side, and they probably formed a considerable majority, were the Macedonians, almost to a man, and the Bulgarian radicals. These were decidedly against Ferdinand’s and Radoslavov’s pro-Teuton policy. Before Ferdinand dared to





come to a final decision he was forced to eliminate the leaders of this large faction from the field. Sandansky was assasinated and Ghenadiev, a former cabinet minister and a Macedonian, was imprisoned. As late as the spring of 1917 this pro-Ally faction attempted to assert itself, this last attempt resulting in several hundred executions by court martial.





Though not directly pertinent to the matter under discussion, I cannot help devoting a few lines to the national prejudices and sympathies of the Bulgars as a whole.


First of all, they are profoundly pro-Russian, for two fundamental reasons. First of all comes race affinity and similarity of speech. Though the Russian language is really a younger branch of the old Slavic, Russian is looked upon as a cultural ideal by the Bulgars. Russian literature, which any educated Bulgar may read with very little difficulty in the original, is to them very much what the literature of England is to us.


The second reason behind this deep sympathy is the fact that it was Russian blood which flowed in the liberation of Bulgaria from Turkey.


This strong Russophile sentiment was, however, considerably modified by the black intrigues of the old Russian autocracy which culminated in the assasination of Stamboulov and the later hypocricy of the Russian Government in its attitude toward the Macedonian revolutionary movement. But, this modification was strictly limited to official Russia.





Thus, aside from Switzerland and England, Bulgaria was the one European country where Russian political refugees were absolutely free from molestation. Sofia University was founded by a Russian exile and many of its faculty were Russian refugees . The children of Russian exiles came there to finish their education.


The Bulgars as a whole are also strongly pro English. It was an English newspaper, the London Dally News, which exposed the "Bulgarian atrocities" under great difficulties. These exposures served as the cause of the Russian intervention and also roused British public opinion so strongly against the Turks that the Conservative Government as unable to carry out its policy of shielding the Turks against Russia. Another reason for the pro-England’s sentiment is Gladstone; his public utterances in favor of Bulgaria in the early days are freely quoted in the school text books. And finally, it was England which prevented the interference of Turkey when Eastern Rumelia seceded and declared for annexation with free Bulgaria.


True, it is not forgotten that England, through Beaconsfield, was largely responsible for the Treaty of Berlin, which handed Macedonia back to Turkey, but the tendency is to place the blame on “that Jew renegade" personally. Bismark is considered to have been primarily responsible for the revision of the Treaty of San Stefano.





Among Bulgars of all classes there is a profound prejudice against German; "Schwabs,” as they are called. This is primarily due to race antipathy. Every Slav fundamentally hates a German. Specifically Germany is hated on account of the Treaty of Berlin. Austria is hated even more intensely because she robbed the Bulgarians of the fruits of their victory over the Serbs in 1884, when all that Bulgar territory east of the Nisch-Vranya line had been taken over. Austria compelled Bulgaria to hand this territory back to the defeated Serbs.


But above all these considerations the reason why Ferdinand’s adherance to the Central Powers was unpopular was the fact that the Bulgars would thus find themselves fighting side by side with the Turks against Western Europeans. The Bulgar does not utterly despise the Turk, as he does the degenerate Greek, but he hates him with a fervor little understood by an American. There are many Bulgarians not yet old who remember distinctly the atrocities which lead to the Russo-Turkish War of 1879; those days have neither been forgiven or forgotten. Naturally, this feeling is still more intense with the Macedonians, who have been taught to hate and fear the Turk from babyhood.


Had the Allies declared for the principle of the "self determination" of the Bulgar nationality wherever found, in 1915, Ferdinand’s pro-German policy would have failed.







There can only be one settlement of the Macedonian Question; that is, a settlement which will be permanent. That is the establishment of a free, an independent, Macedonia, whose government is based on democratic principles. This is the intense desire of the people themselves. The Macedonians have that same passionate respect for democracy that is now manifesting itself among the Russians. I am convinced that their understanding of democratic principles, speaking of the people as a whole, is far more intelligent than that of the Russians, for they have been self conscious longer and, through the revolutionary organization, have practiced democracy longer and have become practical through hard experience. Their experience with Sarafov has made them suspicious of fiery orators, for example.


That free Macedonia should be thoroughly democratic strikes me as a matter of greater importance than the demarcation of frontier separating the Bulgars from the other nationalities.


In the formation of a Macedonian Government the principles emphasized in the constitution of the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization should not be overlooked, for this document was only adopted at the Yearly Congress after many revisions and much general discussion. Those chief points were:





1. Universal suffrage, above the age of twenty, regardless of sex, race or creed.

2. Elimination of the Church from politics.

3. Executive power vested in committees, rather than in individuals. Trivial as this may seem, it was considered important by the Macedonians, who emphasized it so strongly that the Turks knew them as the “committee people”, and the Bulgarians as the "comitajis”, meaning the same thing. They considered this peculiar measure a safeguard against corruption .

4. The greatest measure of local autonomy consistent with general unity.


The Organization, which in its forms and principles represented an ideal to the Macedonians, was really a federation of which the constituent units were the five provincial organizations, each of whose territory corresponded with the Turkish vilayet. The executive power of the provincial committee was really more potent, within its own jurisdiction, than the power of the Central Committee of five, each member being the representative of a province.


This tendency towards decentralization is inherent in the temperament of the people. Any proposal for a free Macedonia would have to give it free scope.


The territory of the proposed independent state should, no doubt, correspond more or less with the area I have already indicated as being under the jurisdiction of the Organization, not because of any principle of the "right of conquest" but because the adherence of a community to the Organization





was completely voluntary and thus demonstrated the sentiment of the people. Nevertheless, communal plebiscites should probably be held within a strip of territory passing along what might be regarded as a doubtful region, a sort of "no man’s land ” between the Bulgar population on the one hand and Greek and Serbian territory on the other. The frontier with Bulgaria. should conform with the old Turkish-Bulgarian frontier existing before the First Balkan war. This would undoubtedly be fought by the Bulgarian governmental clique, but there would be no public sentiment against it among the people of Bulgaria, who are in favor of a free Macedonia. And on the other hand some of the strongest anti-Bulgarian government communities were close to the old frontier, as Bansko caza, Sandanski’s own territory. These people were probably more pronouncedly in favor of the policy of “Macedonia for the Macedonians” than any other district. There are various reasons why these Macedonians along the frontier would resent being annexed to Bulgaria, provided there was the possible alternative of being part of a free Macedonia. First of all, they are prejudiced against official Bulgaria on account of the depredations committed by the Bulgarian propaganda bands sent across in the earlier years. Then, they do not like the centralized form of the Bulgarian government.







A Federal Union of all the Balkan peoples, regardless of race or creed, was certainly the ideal of such men as Gruev and Sandanski and the more intelligent radicals. A Federal Union of the Slavic peoples at any rate was regarded with a very friendly eye by even the liberal elements. The radical elements in those countries are much more numerous than in more Western countries, for every Bulgar who has had even a part of a gymnasium schooling, unless he goes in for a civil service or a military career, is a Radical, a Socialist. Balkan Socialism, however, emphasizes "internationalism" much more than do the German Socialists, and is directed against the Church, rather than against Capitalism. In other words, it is a protest against conditions which even an American Republican would consider obviously undesirable. Thus, Bulgars who want a republican form of government and desire just such a federal union of states as already exists in the United States, align themselves with the Socialists and, once these objects were attained, would become comparatively conservative.


The Macedonians, to the last man, it would be no exaggeration to say, are radicals in this sense. A free Macedonia, with a democratic form of government, would undoubtedly be a lively factor making for a Balkan Federation. Whether they could accomplish this aim would, of course, not depend entirely on them.


The Bulgarians, I am convinced, would be strongly with them.





A monarchial form of government was, it must be remembered, imposed on the Bulgarians by Russia and Austria. The feeling of the educated masses is all for a republic. Had it not been for the pressure maintained by the powers, a Bulgarian republic would have been established in 1885, alter Alexander’s abdication. Yet in spite of this restriction from the outside, there have been several plots to overthrow the monarchy. In one of these, which was betrayed, the ringleader, or one of the ringleaders, Luka Ivanov, was tried and condemned to death. But before he could be executed the Sobranya, or Popular Assembly, granted him an unconditional pardon. Ivanov was then received by the Macedonian Committee and given command of its field forces in the Vodena district.


Were it possible, therefore, to eliminate Ferdinand and his clique; or, rather, were they left to the Bulgarians to do with as they pleased, I am convinced that Bulgaria would constitute itself a republic, probably on a federal basis with perhaps northern and Southern Bulgaria (Eastern Rumelia) and Adrianople as the constituent units. The next step would probably be a union between Bulgaria and Macedonia.


How soon the present hatred between the Serbs and Bulgars would die down sufficiently to permit a discussion of a further enlarging of the Union is a question. This mutual hatred rests entirely on the events that have occurred since the Balkan Wars and is therefore not fundamental, however keen it may temporarily be. I have travelled through the provincial districts of Serbia with Bulgars as companions





and know from first hand that up to the Second Balkan War the sentiment in Serbia toward the Bulgars was quite cordial. The two peoples can converse together quite freely and read each other’s papers and literature. And though of a less serious temperament radicalism was quite strong among the Serbs. A union between these two peoples would undoubtedly be hastened if the Serbs were allowed to expand into Austria.


That Rumania or Greece could be brought into a Balkan Federation is extremely doubtful. The Greeks especially are strongly under the influence of their priesthood, and the Greek Church would inevitably fight any tendency toward more liberal conditions in the Balkans. Both the Greeks and Rumanians, moreover, are intensely chauvinistic in spirit, the Greeks especially so, and correspondingly suspicious of all foreigners.





In their present state of mind it is extremely probable that the Macedonians would welcome annexation with Bulgaria; that was, in fact, what they were fighting for in the Second Balkan War and that is what they hope to gain through the present war, an independent Macedonia being apparently out of the question. But after a period discontent would assert itself and movements would be organized having as their object, either separation, or discentralization man federation of the parts. How long this process might be delayed would depend on the power of the central government. With a strong government in Sofia, backed by outside Powers, it might be retarded indefinitely. On the other hand the creation of a Greater Bulgaria at this time





would not tend toward peace in the Balkans, if previous conditions continued. The Serbs, Greeks and Rumanians would form an alliance for self protection which might at any opportune moment develop into an offensive alliance. Any measure providing for as large a degree of local autonomy as possible for Macedonia should be fought for, in the interests of the Macedonians and in the interests of future peaceful development. In other words, the Macedonians should be given as much opportunity as possible to assert themselves. The army of occupation should be commanded by Macedonian officers, of which there are a great number in the Bulgarian Army. A native gendarmerie, with native officers, should be insisted on. And the schools should be taken out of the hands of the exarch. On the whole, however, there would be little danger of tyranny, for Macedonia would be incorporated as an integral part of Bulgaria, a was Eastern Rumelia, and the natives would have equal privileges with the Bulgarians of upper Bulgaria.





These two possibilities may be discussed as synonymous, so far us the Macedonians themselves are concerned. Either solution would be equally distasteful to them. Both of those propositions are practically identical with the provisions of the Treaty of Bucharest, for which the Allies have already paid dearly enough. Both mean just what Turkish rule meant; the domination of a people by a government composed of a foreign nationality.





It is almost hopeless to suggest mitigating measures in favor of the inhabitants under such settlements. The history of the Balkans, since the Berlin Conference, is almost a continuous record of attempted reforms of this nature, each and every one of which was an absurd failure. Most notable of these was the attempt to establish a gendarmerie under foreign officers, after the uprising in Monastir in 1904.


Nevertheless, some authorative body should be established composed of disinterested foreigners which should review all transfers of landed property. Strong measures should be taken against the "colonization" policies adopted by both Serbia and Greece after the Second Balkan War. In the Monastir district the population of whole communities was driven off the land and sent in exile to Bulgaria, while Greeks and Serbs were imported and the confiscated lands and houses given to them. The original owners and tenants of the soil should be guaranteed in their rights and these should be perpetually maintained by some outside authority.


This, of course, is suggested merely as a measure of justice. It would not eliminate the seed of future turmoil. Revolutionary movements would be as rife no ever, and violence as frequent as before.





With an independent State established in Macedonia, would the rivalries and jealousies of the neighboring Balkan states continue?


This, of course, would depend on the degree of





support such a settlement would have from the Powers. Also, whether or not the Junker governing cliques, under the Ferdinands and Peters would have their powers restricted. Chief of all the mischief makers in the olden days before the rise of Young Turkey was the Greek Church, but this was because it enjoyed temporal power within Turkish territory. This factor for trouble at least would be eliminated.


In Bulgaria Ferdinand’s annexationist policy would be almost impossible, on account of public sentiment. He would no longer have liberation as a pretext and he would get no support for an aggressive war against the Bulgars of Macedonia. He would, even as in the days of the Committee, be compelled to confine himself to a campaign of internal corruption.


Certainly Bulgaria would never combine with either Serbia or Greece against Macedonia, as they did against Turkey. Alone either Greece or Serbia would be powerless. Unless a Greater Serbia were created at the cost of Austria, and then not all the Powers in Europe and America could prevent a union, or at least a strong alliance, of Bulgaria and Macedonia against Serbia.


The prime cure for these dangers is the democratization of all the peoples concerned. Imperialism has been the cause of all trouble; the most effective antidote to this disease is Democracy.


The second possible objection to be considered is:





would a free Macedonia develop internal disorders among the various race or national elements of the population?


This question was a very live issue at the time of the Berlin Conference and was the pretext for the reactionary measures incorporated in the Berlin Treaty. Macedonia was handed back to Turkey because it was feared that internal disorders would compel Russia to Intervene again and so lead to Bulgaria being annexed as a Russian province.


Russian intrigue did subsequently direct itself toward stirring up just such internal disorders, so that a pretext might be had for a second intervention. But the solidarity which developed among the Bulgarian people, which included Turks and Greeks as well as Bulgars, against the Russian intrigues, is a matter of history. Stamboulov has be given the credit for the success with which Russia was defeated in those attempts to acquire dominance over free Bulgaria, but Stamboulov’s assasination, at the instigation of the Russian autocracy, did not make the slightest breach in the solid front which the Bulgarians presented against Russian intrigue.


Democratic self-government would create this same solidarity in a free Macedonia.


There remains still the danger of aggression from interested European Powers. Russian Imperialism having been eliminated, there might remain Austrian Imperialism, backed by German Imperialism.





This danger, I believe, would be one of the most potent factors in hastening the formation of a Federal Union of the Slavic Balkan States; it might even drive Rumania into becoming a member of such a family.


With Russia gone, the larger would be so obvious that oven Ferdinand could not betray his people to the Teutons, provided Macedonia were free.


Ferdinand’s whole power rests on the fact that he has ever declared himself a champion of oppressed Bulgars. To this pretext he has clung desperately. Without it he would have fallen long ago.


Thus, a free Macedonia would loosen the hold of the Central Powers on Bulgaria to the extent of eliminating Ferdinand’s power of imposing a pro-Teutonic policy on his people. This quite independent of the natural prejudices of the people against Germans and Austrians.


Knowing the Bulgars as intimately as I do, it is my firm belief that a “Middle Europe” scheme is an absurdity, no matter what the outcome of this war may be, unless the Central Powers deliberately conquer Bulgaria with their military forces and maintain a strong military government. In this war it will be noted that while Turkish soldiers have fought on the Galician front, having to cross Bulgarian territory to reach it, not one Bulgarian soldier may be found on territory not inhabited by Bulgars.





Even during the invasion of Rumania, when Mackenzen reconquered Dobrudja with a Bulgarian army, that portion of his left wing which swung across the Danube into Rumania proper was composed of Turkish units, if the dispatches speak the truth.


Nevertheless, this tendency toward self assertion on the part of the Bulgars, and which past events seem to indicate as being equally pronounced among the Serbs, should be encouraged at its source, which is the people themselves. The more freedom they have to express themselves, the more surely will they form a barrier against what is, after all, a greater danger to themselves than to the Allies; German domination. That barrier is a Federal Union of Balkan Slavs, who thus would be able to present a front against the Central Powers which the latter could only break down if given a free rein by the rest of the world.



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