The so-called Pianechko district of the Kyustendil region, consisting of 40 Turkish and Bulgarian villages, lies (at) a few hours' distance to the south of the town. The centre of this district is called Tsarevo Selo, which is nine hours from here. As such (a centre), it needs an administration of a kind to deal with minor (local) matters and quarrels in the district and to guard the near-by Kochani and Maleshevo frontiers. For this reason we, the undersigned, humbly beg Your Excellency to provide the district with such an administrator, so that a better order be established in it, too.
Hoping that you will not decline our humble request, we remain with deep respect,
Your Excellency's most obedient and devoted inhabitants of the villages of Pianechko district,
Authorized by all:
take the pen to answer you; but what could I write to you? - my mind is
seething with unpleasant thoughts, especially since yesterday; since
I tell you, since we heard the news, so staggering for Macedonia, that
going to remain under Turkish rule. I am not in the proper state of
mind to be
able accurately to describe to you the paleness (that spread) on our
the staggering blow of the aforementioned news. This was a mortal blow,
brows of all Bulgarians here and, of course, all over Macedonia, broke
a deadly sweat. We wonder what happened to the famous rights (granted
under the San Stefano Treaty; what happened to self-government;
happened at least to the rights according to the (decisions of) the Constantinople
Conference? It seems that of all (the) Christian peoples in the
East only the
Macedonian Bulgarian people have been unfortunate and doomed to
present fatal blow; in short, let us conclude: no war was waged
But let us
leave all this. Let us forget about the self-governing principality;
forget about financial self-government; let us even forget about the
rights, granted to
by the Constantinople Conference. They were but a dream for us which
for a moment and vanished. But our hearts bleed at the thought that we
losing even what we already had, what was already real to us - our
for our spiritual freedom, won with such great efforts and
suffering. I ask:
whom with shall we remain from the spiritual point of view, whom with
thirty or more Bulgarian towns in
But Macedonia has yet another matter to grieve for. It seems that merciful Europe considers introducing would-be reforms even into the other European territories of Turkey - thank God even for that. But the point is: is Soloun again going to be the administrative centre which would govern Macedonia? Oh! If it does, what a pity, what a terrible pity for Macedonia, because until now, while only the Turks were the ruling class, we had only Turks for rulers; but from now on, with the application of the reforms, if Soloun is to be again the centre, we shall also be under the domination of the Jews and of our age long enemies, the Greeks. My point is this: is it not possible for Macedonia be not ruled by Soloun, is it not possible to separate the towns in which the Bulgarian element is predominant and to establish a special vilayet with Skopje as its administrative centre? Qnly then can the reforms, worked out by Europe in the Berlin Treaty, be put into effect. If this happens Macedonia could develop, if not as she should, at least more peacefully, while if she is ruled by Soloun, the Greek intrigues will not cease, especially now that Macedonia remains detached from Bulgaria and Thrace.
Therefore, my dear, I beg you to take it upon yourself to inform the Macedonian representatives to work for the above matters wherever necessary.
Such is, in brief, my dear, the situation of poor Macedonia. Practically all the eastern Christian people have gained something from the last war, only Macedonia not merely did not gain anything, but is even in danger of losing what she had before the war - the spiritual freedom which supported her weak body. Macedonia, I repeat, the cradle of Slavdom, the country of the holy Slav enlighteners Cyril and Methodius, is in peril of falling under a worse oppression than before.
In spite of all, this Macedonia has not lost her hope completely, but looks with half-opened eyes to the North from where she expects her salvation...
That's all for now.
The Serbian war with Turkey made the whole Bulgarian people, from the Danube to the mountain peaks above the Lake of Ohrid, and from the Serbian frontiers to the gates of Constantinople and Soloun, dream of deliverance from their five-centuries-long slavery; the Manifesto of the Russian Orthodox Tsar roused their hopes for salvation; the crossing of the Danube by the Russian troops, the personal presence of the glorious Tsar Himself and his royal words: 'You, Bulgarians, are already free' - this faith filled their minds and their hearts. The crossing of the Balkan Mountains by the triumphant warriors and their advance to the very gates of Constantinople, their march from Sofia to Kyustendil and the signing of the San Stefano Peace Treaty did not leave a shred of doubt in (the mind of) a single Bulgarian that they would be liberated and united into one single whole according to their race and language, their faith and spirit. All were overjoyed, all were grateful to their humane liberator, and, from the bottom of their hearts, sent prayers to God, wishing him good health and the consolidation of Holy Russia. In a word, until the beginning of the Congress, all Bulgarians, young and old, from the last beggar to the richest man, jubilated in their heartfelt gratitude to Russia and the Russian throne. The Congress began, and doubts gripped the heart of every Bulgarian - and not in vain, because their doubt was not a mirage.
Oh, no! The heart of man, though mysterious, has forebodings of good or evil. The Congress gave to part of half of the Bulgarians a Bulgarian Principality, to another part - autonomy under the Turks, and to a third part - independence under Serbia and Romania. But what happened to the other half? Where are the Bulgarians from Macedonia, those martyrs of ancient Bulgaria? There is no mention of the Macedonian Bulgarians, who every day, every minute for five long centuriesi have suffered more than everybody else from murder, violence, dungeons, violent death, plunder, dispossession and complete subjugation, although they, too, hoping to be liberated, went arms in hand to the aid of Greeks and Serbs both before and in the last battles of the Serbs; and finally, in the hope of joining their Danubian and Thracian brothers, thousands of them rose against their common enslaver, leaving their homes and parents, wives and children, brothers and sisters. These Bulgarians, in spite of the whole valour of their heroes in the battles of the Serbs and in the defense of the Shipka Pass, who met every danger with desperate courage only to return sooner to their dreary homes and to wipe away the tears of slavery in the eyes of their relatives and kin, these Bulgarians, I say, are now deprived of everything and are left in an even worse plight and in slavery under their five-centuries-long bloodsuckers. The San Stefano Treaty established the occupation line up to Kyustendil and the Congress has deprived the Macedonian Bulgarians even of the right to call themselves Bulgarians and, together with them, it has already crossed out the very name of Macedonia. Thus the ancient cradle of Slavonic writing is already groaning under a new and even more unbearable oppression, not only on the part of the local inhabitants — bashibazouks, but also on the part of the Turkish refugees from Bosnia, Bulgaria and Thrace. In this way, the new murders, plunders and violence on both sexes and devastations remain unpunished, and every Christian lives in fear wondering whether he will survive until the evening, if he has survived till morning, and whether he will survive until the morning, if he has survived till night. Children mourn their murdered fathers, wives bewail their husbands, inconsolable parents shed bitter tears over their murdered sons, bleeding profusely, who might have been their only consolation in misfortune and old age. Such is the plight of the unfortunate Macedonian Bulgarians, when all Europe and the European Congress demand an improvement of their lot. This is what this improvement is! The time has come for them when the Saviour told Judea and Jerusalem: "The inhabitants of Judea should run to the mountains, and if they have a home, not to go back home, or take anything from their home or their settlement, not to go back even to take their shirt.' This is what the Macedonian Bulgarians are now doing! They are leaving their homes, families, children and relatives by dozens and hundreds, and via Kyustendil and Sofia go wherever their feet lead them. Will Holy Russia, worshipped by all suffering people, will Moscow, the mother of Russian glory and pride, watch this scene impassively? We are confident that they will not. But how are they to be helped when the whole of Europe and European majority are against them? There is nothing to be done! The Areopagus of injustice and impious humanity have sentenced the Macedonian Christians and has thrown them back into the fetters of Hellenism, Mohammedanism, Protestantism and the Papacy.
With the Bulgarian church problem, we have made the unfortunate Bulgarians realize the need to have their own Bulgarian hierarchy, their own (native) prelates and clergy, consisting of Bulgarians by origin and spirit their own people's teachers and schools. It is because they realized this that they endured dungeons, ransoms, exile, covert and overt murders, plunders, expulsion from the holy churches built with their own hands. In a word, they neglected both their lives and everything they had, in the hope of a better future for those of their kin who were going to remain alive. But now, where are they now to go to? The Turks commit murders, convert people to Mohammedanism by force or guile; they pillage, bum down houses, bring dishonour and disgrace on families irrespective of sex and age; the Greek prelates Hellenize them with all sorts of meetings and temptations, slander them to the Government, betray them with the sole purpose of achieving their selfish ends; Protestants and Papists flatter them, promising them their protection. We ask: where are they to go to, the poor wretches? What are they to do? Renounce their faith? Their conscience would torture them. Endure unending murders, violence, dungeons and the dishonour brought upon their loyal wives and dear daughters? This is unbearable. Give in to Hellenism and renounce the name of Bulgarian and their own kin? This would be cowardly, shameful and unprincipled. Resort to the protection of Protestantism and Papism? This would mean to isolate, estrange themselves from their people and to assassinate the integrity of their spirit. After all this, we ask again: what are these wretched people to do? To resort to their protection arms in hand, which they can handle better than any (other) Bulgarian, or to the daring they showed in the fighting in Serbia and in the capture and defense of Shipka? But what will really happen is what also happened with the Balkan Thracian Bulgarians, and, moreover, they will be able to do nothing without assistance. We ask, with tears in our eyes, what are these wretched people to do? Remember, O Moscow, O Holy Russia, compassionate defender of your oppressed and enslaved brothers, remember Cyril and Methodius, Clement and Nahum, Gorazd, Sava and Angelarii, champions in the sphere of faith and Slavonic writings in all countries, and tell us, and we shall listen to your voice, we shall obey your command to live or die, as long as we can keep alive the age-old name of Bulgaria; if only this old, crushed Bulgaria, more dead than alive, as a result of the violence of the Moslems and the flattery and treachery of the Greeks, could be reborn into a new and flowering branch of the Slavonic tree. Tell us, because we are expecting your answer in desperate perplexity and with tears in our eyes.
Nathanail, Bishop of Ohrid
Today, August 29 of the year 1878, we, the undersigned, have assembled with the aim of discussing how to help our brothers in Thrace and Macedonia, who will henceforth be separated from Danubian Bulgaria by virtue of the decisions of the Berlin Congress. Bearing in mind the plight of our people, and especially of our brothers left under Turkish rule, we have resolved that it is our sacred duty as Bulgarians and children of one and the same motherland to avail ourselves of all means at our disposal to improve this condition by coming to the aid of our compatriots who might need our brotherly help. In order 10 ensure the success of our cause, we have found it necessary to set up a committee in the town of Turnovo under the name of Edinstvo to assume the care of constantly working for the dissemination of its ideas throughout the country: through the setting up of similar committees with which it would communicate and all of which committees would have one aim towards which they would work together (in accord) and which would be: The unity of all Bulgarians and the improvement of their present condition. For this purpose, at this first meeting in the town of Turnovo, we have elected members of the People's Committee Edinstvo the following persons, joined together by their unity of thought:
Archimandrite Stephan, Stat Antonov, Angel Popov, Stefan Stambolov, Giorgio Momchev, Georgi Zhivkov, D. P. Ivanov, N. Ikonomov, H. Karaminkov, Pandili Avramov, Peter Tspkov, Peter Popdimov, A. Andreev, Sava Nichev, Georgi Popivanov, ^Lyuben Karavelov, Dr. M. Kalpakov, Sava Iliev, Kalcho Paskov, N. Hadjigeorchev, A. Zlatarski, K. Arabadjiev, N. Smilov, A. Bobev, Saratov, D. Zlatarski, G. Kisalov, H. Popov, H. Hadjiangelov, Y. Hadjipenchev, Kosta Koev, H. Ivanov, Dr. D. Saratov, I. Kavaldjiev, T. Vassilev, N. Lazarov, N. Momchev, Panayot Hadjiradkov.
We, the aforementioned members of this committee, have unanimously elected from among ourselves the following persons to be in charge of the Committee's affairs: Archimandrite Stephan as Honorary Chairman, Stat Antonov as Chairman, Tsani Ginchev as Deputy Chairman, N. Ikonomov as Treasurer, Peter Popdimov as Bookkeeper, S. Stambolov, D. P. Ivanov and N. Lazarov as Secretaries. The meeting was closed.
Messrs S. Popov, G. Hadjipetrov, D. Bisserov, Yanko Angelov and N. Tihov in Rouse
A few days ago (the) local patriots set up the Edinstvo committee, which will have as its aim the unification of the Bulgarian people, torn in parts by the decisions of the Berlin Congress. In pursuit of this aim they will help by all possible means their unfortunate brethren who have remained outside the confines of free Bulgaria and will not shy at any sacrifice until Bul (garian) Unity is achieved. Founded on such principles, our committee has begun to work-by sending its special courier for the Makedonia newspaper, to find out on the spot whether there is an uprising, what is its scope, what are the insurgents means and needs, so that we may help it as much as possible if it exists, because we believe that this is the road to our salvation.
An uprising in Macedonia, uprisings in Bosnia and Herzegovina, uprisings elsewhere, if needed, will be the most destructive blow against the Berlin Treaty. The task we have set ourselves is sacred and noble, but it is also difficult and calls for great sacrifice. This effort cannot possibly be achieved by a single town, a single district, a single province; it requires the valour of the whole nation, and the people should undertake it if they realize their plight and value their future. That is why, in a few days' time, we shall send agents of ours to set up wherever possible, in our province and eventually in the Sofia province as well, similar committees with which we will be in contact and will pursue the same aim. If, in your district and province, there are people who subscribe to our ideas, they should by all means set up in their town such a committee of efficient and active men; once a committee is established in your town, it should start setting up similar com (mittees) throughout your province and maintain contacts with them. We shall expect your reply on all this, on whether you | agree to work and on what you have done, because the matter brooks no delay.
Address your letters to Mr P. P. Dimov
Chairman: S. Antonov
Secretary: A. M. Ivanov
Dear patriotic Mr Petko Voyvoda!
As it is very necessary that you meet Mr Dimitri P. Georgi2, who is in Doupnichka Djoumaya and is the leader of the defenders of the people in these border areas, in order to discuss a very important matter to the benefit of all Bulgarians whom the Berlin Congress has again left under Turkish tyrannical rule; go there immediately upon receipt of this letter.
In the event of circumstances preventing you from personally going there, then send a loyal and considerate person, who could accurately carry out your mission, which is of interest to our people.
Greeting you on behalf of the Macedonian Bulgarians, I remain, as always, your partner in (the struggle for) the liberation of the Bulgarians in Turkey who are not yet free.
A Macedonian patriot /Nathanail/
To His Holy Grace, the Metropolitan of Samokov, Dossitei, in Samokov
We, the undersigned, have assembled today, October 3rd, 1878 and, following the example of the other towns in our country, have founded a similar charity committee in the town of Djoumaya and have elected by majority: K. P. Bosilkov as chairman, G. Panov as deputy-chairman, Sotir Stoimenov as treasurer, I. M. Kozarev as chief scribe, I. Radev as assistant scribe, and Mane Markov and Georgi Nakov as full members, which we hereby confirm.
(There follow the signatures of the founding members)
October 3, 1878
Today before dawn there began a battle between the villagers of Kresna, Vlahi and Oshtava, and the Turks. The Turks are surrounded in the Kresna Inns. The battle continues; send ten loads of cartridges - three for the percussion action rifles, and seven for Martini (-Henry) rifles. Do not delay for a single minute, the need for cartridges is great.
I greet you and remain yours,
D. P. Georgiev
Mr. P. Bosilkov!
After you have copied the present letter, try to send it to the other committees in Bulgaria as soon as possible.
Police headquarters have been set up in Kresna, with the tasks of raising an army from the settlements we have seized, of collecting taxes from those unfit for military service, of collecting and sending supplies and equipment to the insurgents, of pursuing deserters, of preserving the law and order among the population, etc. Please, take care to send to the police headquarters a more experienced salaried scribe to introduce order.
uprising is spreading day by day in the Malashevo area, the battle is
many people from Maleshevo have taken refuge in the Melnik district.
is operating in the Demir-Hissar villages to the south of Melnik. The
from Melnik and the surrounding villages are fleeing to Petrich and
today we had negotiations with the Tur(
For the Mac(edonian) Upr(ising):
Chief-of-Staff: D. P. Georgiev
Organization of the Macedonian Uprising
By general approval of the insurgents' aldermen, leaders and commanders of chetas, it has been proposed: Two units of the supreme command, 1st and 2nd, to be formed at the Uprising's Headquarters; Commander-in-Chiefofthe first unit to be Hetman Mr A. Kalmikov, and of the second unit - Mr. Voitkjevic; each post, related to the supreme command of the uprising, is to be sanctioned by the Chief of Staff and the two Commanders-in-Chief, or, in the case of absence, by any one of the two Commanders-in-Chief, who happens to be there. As for the organization of the uprising, this will be the responsibility of Headquarters. After due discussion, it has been decided to constitute the above Insurgents' Mac(edonian) Direction, hereby confirmed in their own hands, by:Hetman and Commander-in-Chief of the 1st unit:
To His Excellency, Mr. Bosilkov
After my most heartfelt salutations, I would like to inform you that, with God's help, from this morning at 12 o'clock to 12 at night we fought a battle, started by our enemy, Turkish regulars, stationed in Bansko, and other troops, also regulars, as many as 400, who came from Mehomia, and with God's timely help we defeated them all. From those, based in Bansko, 34 men surrendered and we took away their weapons. The same troops, before surrendering, killed four inhabitants of Bansko, and killed 2 and wounded 3 of our company. Our company itself killed four of them, i.e. of the enemy, before they surrendered. Towards evening, by ill fate, after the said 34 enemies had surrendered, 6 or 7 of them still remained in the coffee shop; since they had also agreed to surrender, I approached them and was wounded in the right hip, from which wound I am fatally suffering; we therefore beg of you to send, if possible, immediately and without delay a doctor to cure me quickly so that I may pursue my work; I also beg of you to dispatch to us immediately 10 or more loads of cartridges, most of them for the percussion action rifles, as well as some 200 rifles. Yes... if a company has been gathered, it should be sent as soon as possible with all these supplies. The doctor is, in any case, needed for the other wounded as well.
Consequently, ending in a hurry, I remain your sincere friend, (signed)
Bulgarian Provisional Government in Macedonia
Bulgarian and Slav Brothers!
It is well known to all of you that our unfortunate country Macedonia, the birthplace of our enlighteners and the cradle of Slavonic writing, though liberated from the five century yoke by Russia, our protectress and champion of all Balkan Christians (according to the San Stefano Treaty), because of selfish and other interests, was again left under the Turks according to the Berlin Congress, and is in a desperate position. It is also known that after Bosnia and Herzegovina were occupied by Austrian troops all the Turks from these two regions and the irregular Turkish troops, which are a rabble of bashi-bazouks and Circassians, were forced to flee to our country and turned it into a den of robbers and thieves who plunder the peasant population.
As a result of this, in many parts of our country blood has been shed, young girls have been kidnapped and many other outrages and crimes have been committed; everybody knows all this from the newspapers. Realizing that the Turkish authorities do not take any measures against these outrages, that the lives of those dear and near to us are in danger, that the oppression of our torturers is becoming ever more unbearable with every passing day, that the safety of our property and possessions is not guaranteed, that whole villages are completely erased from the face of the earth by fire and sword even by regular troops, we have left our families and have retired to the mountains to take revenge on our enemies. You yourselves know perfectly well what it is like to live under the Turkish yataghan, what it means for a man to watch his wife and daughters raped, his children slaughtered; what it means in general to see all human rights suppressed without being able to take any revenge.
Is it possible for you, brothers, who suffered all this and have scarcely had the time to breathe freely, to leave us in the lurch? Is it possible that we, who have been suffering under the yoke of our common enemy for so many years, should find no brotherly compassion on your part? Is it possible that we, who have been sacrificed to God knows what European interests, should have no hope for help from our brothers? Is it possible for you to leave us without support now that it is a question of life and death? You must realize that if Macedonia is left under the Turkish yoke, it will be forever lost to us, because the enemies of our unification are acting slyly and knowing that the rest is lost to them, they have turned their main attention to our country with the aim of destroying the Bulgarian element in it.
And so, brothers, the time has come when we must show that we are a people worthy of freedom, that the blood of Kroum and Simeon has not ceased to run in our veins; the time has come to demonstrate to Europe that to divide a whole people with one stroke of the pen is no laughing matter! Let every one sacrifice what he can and as much as he can, because we need quick and considerable help, for otherwise our cause is doomed. And you, Bulgarian patriots, champions of liberty, who have shown your courage on more than one occasion, , take up arms and hurry to join our ranks against the common enemy. Let your blood, shed in the Macedonian forests, serve as a symbol of liberty and let your motto be:
Freedom or death
Pirin Mountain, November 10, 1878
To Messrs the Members of the Mac(edonian) Djoumaya Charity Committee
We acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 19th inst. Andrei Nikolov and Pascal have arrived with the 50 volunteers and have been stationed in the village of Igralishta. They will remain there to arm the volunteers as they come, as many as they may be, and they will be used in the uprising and no arbitrary acts will be allowed.
Things are getting better every day. The population is returning to the villages and all are under military discipline.
Of the peasants waiting for arms, 343 are still without weapons, and 208 have flintlock guns which should be replaced with something better, all in all 601 rifles are necessary.
Please take care of the supply of rifles and, if possible, let the majority of them be Martini rifles. Do not send French rifles for the time being. The cartridges for the rifles we have at the moment are insufficient. Whenever cartridges are sent, there should be more for Martini rifles. The population in the Karshiak should be armed sooner, because after the first battles we shall need more weapons for the outsiders who will accompany us.
Gentlemen! I shall never deny our gratitude for the tireless efforts made for the rebels by you, Djoumayans (the rest of the text is illegible).
47, зп, арх. дд.. 397, л. 12; the original
is in Russian
Five centuries have failed to modify the bitterness of the cruelties of the Asiatic Turk. He has failed, during this long period, to understand how to organize his administration, so as to guarantee the security of honour, life and property. The bad administration and the selfishness of the softas have installed in the minds of the Turks: hatred to the Bulgarians. The violation of our women, the plundering of our goods and the murdering of our brothers, the misconduct of the Turkish refugees from Bulgaria and the impossibility of our obtaining justice have brought us to the present deplorable condition in which you see us. Whatever our predecessors have been able to save, whatever was gained by our own hard labour has become the plunder to the Turks, and fuel to the devouring flames. At the present day Macedonia,our dear country, is the theatre of bloodshed, streams of blood run down the valleys, and there is not a spot in the whole country, where wailing and growling is not heard. In this winter time and during these long nights brothers and sisters of ours are fugitives in the Balkans naked, hungry and without shelter. Those whom the Turkish "yataghan" failed to reach, have not escaped the winter among the mountains, and are perishing in the deep snow without anyone dear to them to close, at least, their eyes. We who have succeeded in reaching this place possess nothing more than the clothes on our backs, we have neither shoes to put on, nor covering to wrap ourselves in. Many of us fallen sick on the way died of hunger and cold, before we reached the frontier.
We respectfully beg you, Honoured Sir, to take pity on us and to report to civilized Europe all, which you have seen with your own eyes.
Stretch forth your hands and free us from the Turkish yoke as has been done for our brothers in Bulgaria.
It may be that we have been in a measure guilty, but has not our guilt been atoned for by the Mood and misery, especially of late, brought on us. Take pity on us speedily, that we may be enabled to return at least to our native land, that we may not succumb to the severities of winter.
We hope and trust that you will pay attention to our prayer, and in the hope we remain as expectant suppliants.
Refugees from Macedonia:
We are in receipt of your letter of the 28th of last month, in which we find the following questions to which we hasten to give you a reply:
1. You tell us that, for a month and a half now, we have not been recognizing our government and that we have become rebels. But you were convinced that this uprising was not of our own desire and that we had been incited by foreign comitadjis. As for the former, i.e., that we have rebelled, this has become known to the whole world, but as for the latter, we assure you and you must know that we have not been incited by anyone; however, when we realized that, at the Berlin Congress, the European Powers had again left us under your administration, we took up arms and we shall not lay them down until we are united with the Bulgarian Principality as was promised in the Treaty of San Stefano by Sultan Hamid himself.
2. You say that, due to your conviction that we did not rise of our own desire, you have not allowed your troops to advance further than the Krustin Heights, so that our children will not be stranded in the mountains and will not die there of cold and hunger! Then you express your surprise that we have dared to leave our homes and property, goods and chattels, which we have inherited from our grandfathers and fathers. As for our children and property, you should neither be sorry for us, nor wonder at us; because the evils that your people have brought down on us for hundreds of years have become so unbearable that if we merely recall them, even here, where we are free, our bodies shiver and our hair stands on end! If you really wanted to inform yourself at least a little about the evils inflicted by your people on ours for many years and even now, have them bring before you a 90-year-old man in his right mind, who will tell you how many men have been killed and how many homes have been pillaged by bandits, and how many girls have been raped before the very eyes of their own parents!
As is known to everyone, even to our well-wishers, the European Powers, »t was as a result of the above-mentioned cruelties that old Ilyo Voyvoda rebelled against your unjust government some thirty years ago. As for the misadministration by your governments, suffice it to mention: the kadis (judges), who are entrusted with meting out justice in all kinds of crimes, do not execute their judgements until they have received some liri!
3. We see that you advise us to return. What is more, that we return together with our Turks of whom you say that their houses have been burned and pillaged, without mentioning that ours are in the same or even in a worse state! You will try to reconcile us so that we may become of the same stature and mix to such an extent that we shall go visiting each other! As for that, have patience, for it may happen that your desire to make us of the same stature might come true; because, if the European Powers leave us outside the Bulgarian Principality, as we have, for the time being, been left by the Berlin Congress, our people may, in their utter despair, adopt the Muslim faith (like the poor cheated Bulgarians in the Rhodope Mountains) and then we shall live together in brotherhood (God forbid!).
4. You make us a solemn promise that, after we go back we shall have nothing to fear, because you will be among us. Moreover, you assure us that you will abide by your words; we do not know what will be the guarantee of your pledge - whether the royal firmans about the Hatti-humayun and the church question, which have remained unfulfilled for so many years until this day, or Sultan Hamids signature about our Principality and under the San Stefano Treaty.
5. What surprises us most of all is your statement that upon our return you shall take measures to eradicate the uprising - something that we find very hard to believe; because all the Bulgarians in the whole of Macedonia have risen, and, from the very first clash with your troops at Kresna, at Mouravtsi and elsewhere, they have shown (demonstrated) that they are going to fight bravely, as ancient history has praised them for their unfailing courage in fighting! You can find proof of this in your own history, which gives evidence of the valour, shown by the Macedonian Bulgarians at the time when you were conquering their kingdom!
Since we have answered in detail all the above questions, we beg you to come to your senses and stop being misled by English policies which might lead to the splitting of your own kingdom among the European Powers, as a result of which we shall be left without a principality and you - without a kingdom! Therefore, instead of trying hard to persuade us, you better take to heart the implementation of the San Stefano Treaty which is the only way of making our two peoples come to terms, take each other by the hand and protect their countries before they have been ruined, as we just explained.
Karshiaka (Melnik District)
The undersigned Macedonians hereby authorize the esteemed gentlemen:
Dimitri Protich of Veles, Nikola Diamandiev of Ohrid, Koste H. Traychev of Kratovo, Nahum Simov of Bitolya, Dimitri Hadji Andonov of Shtip, Atanas Radev of Kochani, Dimitri P. Georgiev of the Strumitsa, area and Stoyan Kostov of Skopje - to send a telegram to the National Assembly in Turnovo and to express the ardent desire of all Bulgarians living in Macedonia to have our people united, as we have expressed this many times to the European powers; as regards our separation from our brothers, we have protested on many occasions and shall never cease to protest and to strive for our unity as long as we have Bulgarian blood running in our veins. For this reason we authorize the above-mentioned gentlemen to draw the attention of Messrs the Representatives of Free Bulgaria to this and to ask them earnestly to take into consideration our inalienable desire and to use all their power to release us from the unbearable yoke.
In confirmation of the above we give this present mandate signed with our own hands:
G. Y. Menkadjiev
Hadji Traycho Stoykov
Dimitri V. Slavkovich
Aralambo, S. P.
Dimitri Robchov (in Greek letters)
Ikonom Pop Mihail
Traycho Pop S. Chamcharov
... Nahum (in Greek letters)
Simos Dimitrias (in Greek letters)
Petre Ana... (in Greek letters)
Kliment Ef. Nastev
... Phartomar (in Greek letters) Iovan Stoyanov
Anastas Mihailu (in Greek letters)
archpriest Antim (in Greek letters)
Кирил, Съпротивата срещу Берлинския договор — Кресненското въстание,
(Bulgarian Patriarch Cyril, The Resistance to the
I received your letter, sent by our messenger, on February 18. I have given the necessary orders for money to be sent to you and I believe that you will soon receive it through Dr Mirkovic of Sofia. You will receive from Vidin, Rahova and Rouschouk as many as 500 to 600 ten-franc pieces; from here, I shall try to send to you, by post or by a money order, up to 5,000 francs, so that you may meet your initial needs. Therefore, you may assume that you have a credit of up to 10,000 francs, so do not let this be a reason for the work undertaken to be paralyzed.
leaders of the representatives and myself will have a meeting to set up
I shall remain in Turnovo for another 10 to 15 days due to the fact that 1 have been elected by the representatives of Bulgaria, Thrace and Macedonia to a committee which is to map out the road which Bulgarian policy should pursue so as to achieve our people's Edinstvo (Unity). By virtue of the measures and decisions already approved by this committee, a deputation is soon to be sent to the European Powers, the necessary memorandum will be written, and if someone should hamper our nation-wide activities, the deputy of Commissar Loukianov will dissolve the Assembly. As you can see, matters are heated and feverish!
Tomorrow D. Tsankov is going to write to Plovdiv for another 1,000 rifles from their own to be sent to you, apart from the 400 rifles and 50,000 cartridges from Gabrovo. You, too, see to it and write to Kousevich about these things.
Almost all the Bulgarian representatives are displeased with Hubmeier, who has not been expelled as yet, especially since they have learned about what he did to Nikolitsa. See to it that he is removed as soon as possible in order to avoid a repetition of the Kresna adventures.
I have handed out the circular letters. I would like to ask you to keep us daily informed of developments by telegram, if possible; this will greatly help the successful collection of donations for your cause.
Excuse me for not writing to you in detail, but I am very busy,
P. S. The telegram from Pianechko has made a strong impression on everybody,
At this time, when you will be approving the Organic Statute and electing a Prince for one part of your long suffering people, another also very considerable part of the people is in a worse and more hopeless situation than at the time when the whole people was under the Turkish yoke. When you solemnly celebrate the opening of your Assembly, will you forget your brothers bathed in blood and tears, who with outstretched arms implore you to give them time and means for a last desperate struggle with our age-long oppressors and tormentors? Will you (urn away your eyes from them and leave them to perish completely? For five long centuries our people, as one inseparable whole, carried the heavy burden of the Turkish yoke on its shoulders; for five hundred years it lived with the sole hope of becoming one day completely free and independent; but today only one part of the people is invited to the table to enjoy the advantages and pleasures of liberty. You must decide for yourselves whether this is right and useful and do everything possible to put an end to this dreadful situation, as the duty of anyone loving his country and his brothers requires.
The representatives of the Macedonian refugees and rebels are present here with you; their grieved souls and pensive faces suffice to show you what should be done now, and I implore you, in the name of God, in the name of mankind and of the future and prosperity of our people, to take the necessary steps to achieve our unification according to the San Stefano Treaty; otherwise a great responsibility will fall on those who could have helped their people, but did not want to.
May the omniscient God make you wise and teach you all that is good and useful to our fate and our people. I hope that we will be happy together just as we have wept together for five centuries.
In our circular letter of February 8th we had written to almost all the charitable committees in Bulgaria about the things needed to support the Macedonian uprising. Unfortunately we received answers and help from very few places. Nevertheless, relying on God's mercy and firmly believing in the righteousness and usefulness of our sacred cause, we continued to work energetically and indefatigably for the achievement of our aim - the liberation of Macedonian Bulgarians from Turkish bondage. When we became convinced that it was impossible to carry out the uprising only along the borders, we decided to organize an internal uprising and to this end we have organized several chetas to wage a guerrilla war on the Turks. The first cheta which we sent into Macedonia to raise an uprising around Bitolya was under the command of the courageous Macedonian voyvodas Karaiskakya, Stefo Pavie and Kara-Kosta. This cheta consisted of three hundred heroes, two hundred and fifty of whom managed to cross the river Vardar and reached the village of Klisoura from where they sent a special messenger to inform us about the way things stood with them ... Apart from the cheta, sent by us, there appeared in Macedonia other chetas led by local voyvodas. Thus a cheta of 350 people went to Kostour mountain headed by Mitre voyvoda, brother of Steto voyvoda. Another voyvoda, Vassil, went to the same mountain with 200 people. There also appeared insurgents along the border between the Prilep and Veles districts. These rebels set on fire the tower near the village of Tsurnets close to Abdi-Pasha's inn. The villagers from Bogomilovo went to Veles to report that the rebels had taken from them 3,000 okas of bread and 4,000 okas of meat. When the authorities in Veles heard about it, they did not dare to organize a posse because of their great number.Messengers from this and many other parts of Macedonia are coming every day to us to ask for weapons and ammunition. But where can we get them from when we no longer receive any arms or ammunition and very little is left of what we had. Besides, the snow in the mountains prevents us from establishing secure communications with the chetas which are active there now as well as with many other parts, where the population is ready to rise in rebellion.
It is already known to you that the district of Djoumaya is going to be occupied by the Turks but they are not willing to take it yet, because they are afraid there will be clashes with the rebels and the armed peasants. We have ordered the local chetas, together with the local population, to protect the district from the Turks. The number of the insurgents is: 400 people in Padesh and Soushitsa, 180 in Kresna, 250 in Predel...
We no longer dare to recruit new volunteers because we have nothing to arm them with. What are the Bulg(arian) committees doing? Why do they not send us arms and ammunition? Or have the Bulgarians from the Principality forgotten their suffering brothers in Macedonia and do not want to lend them a helping hand in this most critical time for them? Let every free Bulgarian put his hand on his heart and ask himself what he must do now that the flames of the uprising are spreading over Macedonia and their brothers are asking them for help with bloody tears in their eyes. Five days ago a Protestant missionary who passed through these parts told us about the atrocities of the Turks and about the following incident in particular which shows how the Turks profane the faith and the human dignity of our brothers. In the village of Chereshovo, in the district of Skopje, a man by the name of Tefik-bey, Mustafa bey's son, made the people carry him in a coffin with all the church paraphernalia, forcing the priest to perform the Christian burial ceremony. While they carried him, he kept jumping and dancing in the coffin, beating them about the heads with a whip at the same time.
Brothers, shall we, for whose liberation so much noble and heroic blood was shed, allow the Turks to treat our Macedonian brothers in this way; shall we leave them alone to the mercy of their ill fortune, which left them again in the claws of our age-long oppressors? Are they not blood of our blood and flesh of our flesh? Was it not (but) yesterday when we, together with them and with the Thracians bore the burden of the infamous Turkish yoke? Did not their sons fight bravely together with ours at Eski-Sagra and at Shipka in the sacred war for the liberation of the Bulgarians, waged by Holy Russia? There, there in the fields of Thrace and on the peaks of Shipka lie mixed the bones of our valiant volunteers, whose call is heard throughout Bulgaria, Thrace and Macedonia and appeal to us to fight for justice and freedom for oppressed Macedonia and wronged Thrace. Let each of us, therefore, hasten to help and support the brave warriors for the freedom of Macedonia! God be with them!
We find it
highly regrettable that you have no representative of yours here, on
Macedon(ian) Committee, and it is still further to be regretted that
write to us about the course of your preparations and affairs in
What did your last meeting decide? What policy are you going to pursue? Will a movement be soon launched in your area or not? Do write us in detail about all this, so that we may see what we should do ourselves. We know that you would like to explain your silence with the fact that your own headaches are enough, and that therefore you have no time to spare to write to us or to take an interest in the Macedonian affairs. If this is the case, then we must have been misled by a chance report that you intended to do something ... if not, then we cannot understand why you are not more closely interested in the Maced(onian) Uprising and why you are not trying even now to find ways and means to aid and support it. You must be aware of the fact that since the Turks have as many as 100,000 soldiers in Macedonia, if the Mac(edonian) movement were to die out, then all these hordes would fall on your head, for there would be no one to harass them in Macedonia. This is where you will get the biggest blow from, in case of a later movement, at a time when the Macedonian movement might already have been buried for a long time. Bearing all this and many other considerations in mind, your opinion on this matter is all the more surprising. (Undeciphered text.)
Thus we have been much aggrieved to learn that not only you have not helped our people in V... to rally more Macedonians to come over and help their insurgent brothers; moreover you are duty-bound to do it in a noble manner at a given moment; or perhaps you don't want to compromise your frontier, or to irritate our representatives, or maybe you are flattered by the hope that you shall be able to weather the events in peace and quiet?
Whatever the case maybe, this behaviour of yours brings us to a final situation and we can't help asking ourselves what would be the outcome of what we have already undertaken.
Dear brothers! Let us come to an agreement on what is to be done in these times so critical for us. Do not deprive us of your aid and support. Back us up in our uneven struggle, so that we may also come to your aid in minutes critical for you. Enclosing a copy of the report which we are sending for the BCC (Bulgarian Charitable Committee), from which you will realize how the Mac(edonian) matters stand today, we remain with hopes to this effect.
The situation in Macedonia, due to the carelessness of the local authorities, is growing more and more deplorable every day. Thefts, robberies, murders, abuses, violence and crime have reached terrifying proportions. The criminals, whom the Christians have reported to the authorities, instead of being severely and lawfully punished, walk in the streets in broad daylight armed to the teeth. Peace and security have not existed for a long time in our parts. The authorities clearly show their partiality for the Mohammedans and this attitude, contrary to the will of His Majesty the Sultan, is all the more regrettable because it is encouraged by those whose duty it is to maintain peace and order.
The state of affairs is such, indeed, that very soon the poor Christians in this region will be deprived of all means of existence.
Under Art. 23 of the Berlin Treaty, the Sublime Porte has undertaken the obligation of introducing special arrangements in the other regions of European Turkey (the aforesaid Treaty did not envisage the need for the concrete administrative organization of these regions); the details of these arrangements which should take into account the needs of the local population, will be drawn up in each region by special committees on which the native population will have a fair representation; and will thereafter be examined by the Sublime Porte which before putting them into effect, will get the approval of a European commission.
In this connection the undersigned residents of Macedonia, confident that the benevolence and humaneness of the civilized Powers will no longer tolerate the continuation of our sufferings, and convinced that the only reasonable way to keep peace and order, to guarantee general peace, to facilitate the free and Peaceful development of the Christians in Macedonia and to make peace in the East lasting, in compliance with the interests of Europe and of the government of His Imperial Majesty, the Sultan, consists in the strict and rapid implementation of the above-mentioned clause in our regions, so that it can meet the needs and comply with the customs of the population in the name of humanity and civilization we have the honour of asking through Your Excellency the Government which you represent to be kind enough to intervene, so that all necessary measures be taken to put an end to our desperate situation to apply the reforms allowed by the afore-said Treaty as soon as possible, to unite all dioceses and districts, populated predominantly by Bulgarians and which constitute Macedonia itself, i.e., the dioceses of Debur, Ohrid, Kostour.Lerin, Bitolya, Voden, Melnik, Skopje, as well as the districts of Palanka, Djoumaya, Shtip and so on into one vilayet.
We have the honour of being Your Excellency's most obedient and humble servants, with deepest respect,
(there follow 102 signatures)
The Government of the S(ublime) Porte, in its desire to implement Art. 23 of the Berlin Treaty, sent its draft for reforms to the Bitolya vilayet to be examined by a special committee on which the local populations were to be represented in great numbers. However, the authorities in Bitolya, instead of consulting the opinion of the population on this draft for reforms, arbitrarily chose the members of the committee, most of whom were Turks - government officials or members of the town council and the court.
As a result, the population of the vilayet which was not at all represented on the committee, knows nothing of what it has discussed and decided in connection with the draft for reforms, the aim of which was to ensure to the local Christian population a future, corresponding to the intentions of the Great Powers and the needs of the country, as well. On account of this we, Bulgarian residents of the Bitolya vilayet, believe that it is necessary to draw the attention of the Supreme European Commission to this fact, and at the same time, humbly to express our opinion of what we consider to be the most essential reforms which could create the prerequisites for a more or less tolerable future for the Christian population in this country.
The reforms should be the following:
1. Religious freedom and equality before the law. Christians should be accepted as witnesses on equal terms with the Turks.
2. Churches and schools should be freely built everywhere, except in places exclusively populated by Turks, only on the basis of a report of the town council, without the need preliminarily to issue a special firman for the purpose.
3. In order to avoid any abuse and violence, whoever wishes to embrace the Mohammedan religion, before being converted should be left to stay with their religious leader for fifteen days.
4. The communes should have free intercourse with their spiritual leaders while the latter should have the right to send them bishops and priests in accordance with the desire of the population.
5. All laws should be translated into the language of the country.
6. A new document should be drawn up concerning court procedures and commercial activities.
7. Apart from Turkish, the language spoken by the majority in the country should also be accepted as an official language.
8. Court sittings should be public.
9. Jurors should be recruited from the population, which should be represented proportionally to the number of residents from each nationality.
10. Court presidents should be chosen from the nationality which represents the majority.
11. Cadis and bishops should be excluded from all administrative councils and their functions should be restricted only to their religious duties.
12. Christians should have access to all jobs in the government of the country. In those parts where the majority of the population is Christian, the governors should be Christians, and their assistants - Turks, and vice versa -where the majority is Turkish, the governors should be Turks and their assistants - Christians.
13. The gendarmerie in the towns as well as in the villages should be recruited from among the population proportionately to the number of residents. The same principle should apply to the village guards, so that only Christian guards be sent to Christian villages.
14. The Turkish police officials should not interfere with the affairs of the Christians.
15. Separate prisons for Turks and for Christians should be established and these institutions should be altogether improved.
16. Freedom of the individual. No one should be arrested before preliminary arrangement in court, as envisaged by the law.
17. The houses of the people should be inviolable, and, if the authorities want to enter the house of a Christian, this should be done by Christian officials and the superior local officer.
18. Abolition of the system of tithes and its replacement by another kind °f tax; altogether taxes should be established in such a way that part of them be used for the improvement of the economic conditions in the country.
19. The peasants should not pay iktibarie /tax paid to the state for the right to work as craftsmen/, since their main occupation is to cultivate the land.
20. Village sub-districts (miidiirliks), consisting of about 500 houses, should be established.
21. A special statute should be drawn up, providing for orphans to be taken care of by the respective communes.
22. The law about bribes should be changed.
23. No one but the police should carry weapons.
24. The town council should be reorganized and its chairman and members should be elected by the population.
There follow the seals of five Bulgarian municipalities - Bitolya, Prilep, Ohrid, Veles and Lerin.
1A weekly published in Bulgarian
by the American Scripture Society in
Constantinople. After the Russo-Turkish war in 1877-78 for many years
the only newspaper in Bulgarian, published in Turkey, giving detailed
unbiased information about the condition of the Bulgarians in Macedonia
district of Odrin.
For some time now, a rumour has been spreading in Constantinople, which has been confirmed by the press in Europe, that the Plovdiv European commission which, as the reader knows well, drew up the organic statute for Eastern Roumelia, will be convened shortly. The purpose of its convening, according to reliable sources, is to check on the reforms the Turkish government intends to introduce into the European parts of Turkey. This event is of great importance for all Christians living in Turkey and, in particular, for the Bulgarians in Macedonia. For this reason we, Macedonians, should look forward to this day which, no doubt, will be very important and memorable for us.
It goes without saying that the reforms drawn up by the Government of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan, and verified by the European Commission will be able to fully guarantee a peaceful and happy life for the Christians under the protection of His Majesty. Moreover, there is no doubt that the above mentioned commission will earnestly consider the vital needs of the Christians in Turkey and those of the Macedonian Bulgarians, in particular, who, at this moment, suffer most cruel abuses on the part of both the Greek bishops - agents of Hellenism, and of the brigands who have lately flooded Macedonia.
Taking into account all the beneficial results that the introduction of the required reforms will have for the Bulgarian population, we should not leave out of consideration the fact that the European Commission will probably settle the old dispute between the Bulgarian and the Greek Patriarchate that has already lasted for half a century. All that time, the Bulgarians have striven for an independent church which alone can paternally take care of their peaceful and successful development both intellectually and spiritually. It is well-known to every Bulgarian and to those Europeans who have had the chance of learning about the aspirations and needs of the Eastern Christians, that the energetic protests of the Bulgarians against the Greek high clergy and their petitions to the Turkish government to be freed from the odious Greek bishops, imposed on them by force, have led to the separation from the Constantinople Patriarchate of only one part of the Bulgarian people who acquired an autonomous church, while the greater part of our people have been left at the mercy of the Greek clergy.
In spite of all the cogent petitions of all Macedonian Bulgarians, in spite of their suffering from the oppression of the Greek bishops, and finally, in spite of all intercessions of the Bulgarian Exarchate both before the war and during the last four months, the Sublime Porte has not responded so kindly to the just demand of one and a half million Bulgarians. As a result of this, since there might be apprehensions that the Bulgarians will not be satisfied in this respect, it would not be a bad idea to draw the attention of the European Commission to this important problem and to ask for its assistance for its just solution. To achieve this aim, however, it is necessary to send not only private reminders, but what is more important, there should be petitions on behalf of all Bulgarian Macedonians to the above-mentioned Commission, which must prove that unless their requests are met, all Bulgarians will consider themselves unsatisfied; that the demand for church independence is not something that Bulgarians can forego, but, on the contrary, it is a factor, determining the development and Progress of the people.
The moment is so important that if we, Macedonians, do not avail ourselves of the present opportunity, we shall be forced to drag the yoke of the Greek clergy for a long time to come. That is why we should not wait a minute longer, nor hesitate, but prepare to meet the Commission with the requisite readings by declaring to it that unless we enter the bosom of the Bulgarian church, any gratification of the Macedonian Bulgarians is inconceivable.
When we, the undersigned inhabitants of various parts of Macedonia, residents in Constantinople, learned that the European Powers which signed the Berlin Treaty had sent their representatives to the capital to work out and apply the reforms provided by Article 23 of the Berlin Treaty concerning the European provinces of Turkey, with a view to improving the present wretched and intolerable plight of all citizens of the country, we considered it our moral duty, as representatives of the Bulgarian population in Macedonia, to declare to the honourable Commission through Your Excellency that, when the vilayet committees in Macedonia were set up in order to draw up the drafts for reforms, the instructions of Art. 23 were not observed, because, in spite of the categorical stipulation in this clause that these committees should fully represent the local population, the Bulgarian population, which constitutes the majority of the country, was completely excluded from participation in the said committees. The local authorities organized these committees underhand, exclusively of officials and representatives of other nationalities. When the Bulgarian population later learned from the newspapers that these committees had been set up and had already drawn up the reforms at variance with the instructions of Art. 23 of the Berlin Treaty, they addressed to our honest government general protests from all parts of the province, copies of which we have the honour of attaching to the present.
In informing Your Excellency about this, we venture to hope that the honourable Commission will not consider the reforms presented by the government, as drawn up by the local population, which, according to Art. 23 of the Berlin Treaty, should have but has not taken part in their drafting.
With respect to Your Excellency personally, we remain.
There follow more than 200 seals and signatures.
In accordance with your order and permission, to date I have had the honour of sending to the Exarch, through Your Excellency, the petitions of twelve Macedonian dioceses, together with 4,000 to 5,000 facts about various crimes, as well as statistics of the population of Macedonia. Only the petitions of the Kostour and Syar dioceses are missing, and I hope to receive them in the next few days and to send them to you.
Thank God, all this has ended successfully, and much better than I had expected. A great spiritual animation can be observed among the Macedonian Bulgarians, along with a firm desire not to miss the present opportunity, when Europe is to lay the foundations of their future national destinies.
The Greek metropolitans have not ceased playing the role of base informants of the local authorities, hoping that in this way they will be able to quell the rising flame of the Bulgarians' national feeling, but, fortunately, the more they intrigue and vilely plot, the more they irritate our Bulgarians.
The Syar sandjak has begun to look like a real hell, in almost every district the prisons are full of innocent Bulgarians who have dared sign the previous petitions to the Exarch and the Grand Vizir, or to give a piece of bread to the insurgents, while the Turkish authorities absolutely refuse to understand that it is the complete Turkish demoralization and inability to rule the province that is the cause of their (the Bulgarians') compassion for their insurgent brothers. Today I sent a special dispatch to Syar with instructions for the petitions to be taken from there and for definite and precise information to be gathered on the situation in the sandjak and as soon as I receive them, without losing even a single minute, I shall relay them on to Your Excellency through Mr. Skryabin.
I await with feverish impatience your instructions regarding my departure for Constantinople. I must humbly dare to beg you to be so kind as to ask the Embassy whether it has received any answer to the Macedonian Bulgarians' petition to Mr. Giers as regards my appointment to an active post, and to make me happy, if you so desired, by informing me of the results of this application. My happiness and my future are in your hands and I lay all my hopes on you.
With true spiritual respect and profound devotion, I have the honour of being Your Excellency's most humble and most devout servant.
Bulgarian population in
The very aim and the very ardent desire of the Great Powers to put an end to our centuries-long suffering and our persecution over many years, and to make peace in the East lasting, as well as the high justice and impartiality of the executors of Europe's sacred and humane will, are too clear arid evident for us to have any doubt as to their willingness to extend their hand to us, their protection and defense by satisfying our legitimate desire and by guaranteeing our political and religious rights in accordance with the spirit and the intent of the Treaty of Berlin and with our people's interests, and for us to think that they might sacrifice and trample down the rights of an entire people in order to please 30 or 40 thousand Hellenized Wallachians and Albanians; yet despite all this we, being a people whose property, life, honour and nationality are being exposed to various dangers, intrigues and persecution by our torturers and oppressors, and in whose heart there has already taken root the immutable desire and determination to protect and defend its national rights and interests from all kinds of base measures and false statements on the part of the propagandists of Hellenism, and under the protection of the Treaty of Berlin to develop mentally and morally within its nationality, without infringing the peace and rights of any other people, we deem it our most sacred duty to draw once more the attention of the gentlemen members of the Commission to the following groundless statement made in the last few days with ulterior motives by the Hellenic propagandists, and to ask for the Commission's justice and protection.
Several days ago, a fantastic Greek propaganda group, calling themselves 'The Provisional Macedonian Government, bearing the symbols of 'Macedonia, Epirus, Thessaly and Candia' and made up of six completely enigmatic persons unknown to us, with the aim of protecting the interests of Hellenism and of changing the opinion of the European Powers regarding the true desire and national aspirations of the Bulgarian population in Macedonia, and knowing in advance that thanks to the high justice and humane impartiality of the Christian states, the unscrupulous intrigues and vile slander and persecution by the Hellenic propagandists will remain without any consequence satisfactory to Hellenism; the propagandist group has dared submit to the representatives of the Great Powers in Soloun a memorandum containing several articles running completely counter to our national aspirations and rights, and asking on behalf, be it said, of all Macedonian nationalities the gentlemen consuls to forward this memorandum to their respective governments, and to ask them to undertake the necessary measures to alleviate the plight of the Macedonian nationalities allegedly represented by it, and immediately to implement and carry out the reforms prescribed by Article 23 of the Treaty of Berlin; at the same time this group, so as to lend greater weight and authority to its premeditated statements, which, in no way and in no point, correspond to the desires of the Bulgarian element in Macedonia, has not missed the opportunity to add that, in the event of its groundless and false claims not being taken into consideration, it has been empowered by a certain imaginary, and as yet inexistent Macedonian people's assembly, to take all kinds of insurgent measures, and to incite the population to win its political rights by means of arms, and in favour of Hellenism.
Because the afore-said fantastic memorandum, as well as its enigmatic authors in no way represent nor do they correspond to the true desires of the Macedonian Bulgarian population which, as the gentlemen members of the Commission are already aware, forms the real majority among the citizens of Macedonia;
because the afore-said population has received no information as to the constitution of any Macedonian people's assembly which is supposed to have entrusted the afore-said clandestine Greek propaganda group with representing and defending its rights and interests;
main aim of this memorandum is nothing else but an attempt at
Great Powers' opinion as regards the true aspirations of the Bulgarian
because the content of the afore-said memorandum clearly shows how the Hellenic propagandists, in order to support the false statements of the clandestine propaganda group, intend to call or dispatch from the Greek areas at a suitable moment, a rebellious mob which is to ravage and plunder our land, on the one hand, and is to give it the appearance of a political movement of the Macedonian population, on the other;
Greek population of
because all Bulgarian dioceses and districts in Macedonia have already made their desire known to the highly esteemed Commission through mass petitions, and have already advised the gentlemen members of the Commission as to the vile manner in which the Greek metropolitan bishops and societies are trying to extinguish the flame of the national feeling of the suffering Macedonian Bulgarians and to Hellenize them by force;
finally, because all these false statements and intrigues by the Greek propagandists may cause even greater and more unbearable suffering and persecution than exist today; therefore, the undersigned Bulgarian citizens of the Soloun1 diocese, repudiating and protesting most officially and energetically against the aforesaid memorandum, once again confirm in the most official manner both our mass petitions and the protests submitted by our deputation some 15-20 days ago to the highly esteemed Commission, through His Excellency Lord Fitz-maurice, and we most humbly and insistently beg the gentlemen members of the Commission to be so kind as to pay no attention to such false memoranda which have been deliberately concocted, as well as to put an end, as soon as possible to these base intrigues and persecution, by ensuring our political and religious rights in accordance with the indisputable majority of the Bulgarian element in Macedonia, and in keeping with the spirit of the Treaty of Berlin.
In addition, so that the reforms may bring about the consequences expected in favour of European peace; so that there may be an end to our centuries-long suffering, which we have to a high degree experienced at the hands of the Albanians; and finally, so that the entire Bulgarian element in Macedonia may enjoy the same rights, and may eternally offer its boundless spiritual gratitude and thanks to the humane Christian states, it is necessary that all parts of Macedonia, namely the sandjaks of Skopje and Bitolya, and the districts of Kostour, Gorni Debur and Tetovo, together with the Soloun vilayet, be reunited, as before, and that the reforms be introduced.
Therefore, we have the courage to beg most humbly and ardently of the gentlemen members of the Commission kindly to take this just appeal of ours into account, and to grant our humble wish.
are convinced that the gentlemen members of the Commission in no
way doubt the
truth of all these statements of ours, we, nevertheless, consider
duty bound to inform them that they will make the Bulgarian population
Standing convinced of the sincere and humane intentions of the gentlemen members of the Commission as regards our suffering land, we resort to their high protection, and have the honour of being, with the highest compliments and respect, the most humble and devout servants of his Excellency.2
Exarch declares for the second time that the nomination of Bulgarian
The Ministry within your jurisdiction was duly asked for its opinion, but there has been no answer yet. That is why you are requested to do what is necessary and inform us about it.
I received Your Highness' letter with the greatest respect and understood its content completely.
official inquiry showed that the majority of the Christian
population in the
My humble opinion is that, if the Bulgarian population remains without religious leaders in the future, or if it is brought under the sway of the Greek bishops by force, there may be actions undesirable to the state. In view of this the Exarchate should be allowed to nominate and send Bulgarian bishops to the above-mentioned two dioceses, as it was before.
I worked in Ohrid for six years. Now I had more than 5000 grosh.
'Mother! I'm going to Athens.'
'Go, son, go where it is best for you.'
I set forth, and in August 1859 I arrived there and enrolled as a second year medical student but, of course, I wrote poems, too. I had just begun my poem . I knew that the poem had to be handed in to the examining committee on February 13th at the latest, but I didn't know that the signature of the author had to be put in a sealed envelope, on which one of the best verses of his poem was written, and so I gave the poem in signed simply . On March 25th, 1860 the chairman of the committee, Mr. Rangavis, in the presence of a large audience started to appraise the poems presented, beginning with the poorest. Among the audience there were Mr Orphinidis, an acknowledged and crowned poet, and Vemadakis, professor of philology, both bright and happy, and quite confident that they would receive the crown or, at least, the monetary prize. For me, as for many other spectators, there was no chair, of course. When Rangavis said, 'Finally here we have a poem, much shorter than the others, called , I felt an indescribable excitement such as I had never felt before; no one could have recognized me then, I was beside myself: it was clear that the crown was mine.
I have described all these circumstances in detail, so that young people should know that excessive joy is deadlier than sorrow. Let them also know ^at I am writing this, not out of pride, but to help elevate the pride of the people.
We, Bulgarians, have been so abused and despised by other nationalities that it is high time we regained our dignity. When one reads our folk songs, in which every beauty is called a Greek woman, then one will instinctively conclude that wretched self-contempt is a national characteristic of the Bulgarians. It is high time we proved ourselves men among men. Bulgarian industriousness is rarely to be found among other nationalities; it has ennobled us, it has been and will be our salvation. If it is true that idleness is the mother of all ills, it is also true that work is the father of all good. What advantages could the other nationalities possibly have over us? Having listened to the abuses heaped upon all the Bulgarians, I have lived all my life with the idea that I was a nonentity. The same thought has kept me away from the highest circles of society without which no one has ever become a famous citizen, or a man of letters. It is true that a proud man comes to no good, but it is also true that he who despises himself is a suicide. The first sin is, of course, more dangerous, but, we, Bulgarians, should be aware of the second, we must trust our strength and rely on our good works.
Then I went to Rangavis' home and told him that I was the author of the poem . He received me very kindly, and in a solemn voice called his wife to introduce me to her.
'You dedicated half of the prize-money to some noble cause.'
'Yes, that is what I wrote, and I am keeping to it.'
'Your generosity commends you very much. What about the other half?'
This strange question puzzled me.
'You have not written anything about the other half, he added.
'The other half I need for myself, I am not rich.'
It was obvious that the answer did not please him and he became silent ...
'Did you hear what praises I sang about you?'
'Yes, you cannot speak against your conscience.'
He immediately grasped the severity of my answer.
'How old are you?'
'What nationality are you?'
'It is not possible for a Bulgarian to have black hair and black eyes.'
I did not answer anything to this.
As early as 1861 Yakim Sapoundjiev and I embarked upon a great project for the good of the people, but we did it quietly. The time was not yet ripe. Hellenism in Ohrid had long ago taken deep roots and had been growing ever since. One Bulgarian called another Bulgarian derogatory names; the Bulgarian alphabet was known only to three people and was called Serbian. Learned men made us believe that the Bulgarians had no written language. The Miladinov brothers' accusers who were recently decorated with medals, were at the peak of their fame and influence.
In Angel Groubchev's shop, which served as a Library Club, I learned how to read and write in Bulgarian. We helped each other; he used to explain the unfamiliar Bulgarian words to us, while we explained the European words to him. We read Bulgarian history and in school and at home, wherever it was necessary, we related its most heroic pages and talked about the Miladinov brothers, who had died the death of martyrs. Very often we would tell the pupils and their parents (but not all of them) how difficult Greek was and how much easier and more pleasant it was to study in their mother tongue. Many psalms, translated into the Macedonian dialect, were read in church and inspired holy terror in the breasts of the Christians. When I did not like the reader, I myself read them. We prayed to God earnestly but we worked hard at the same time as well. We ploughed day and night, so that we could prepare the soil for sowing.
The national spirit had risen higher even in the provinces. We wrote hundreds of petitions against Meleti on account of his various abuses. It was easiest to collect signatures for the general petitions against him. He used to say, 'I have piled up a heap of liras; they are yours, and I'll use them against you.'
In May 1868, if I remember well, I invited the leaders of the town to my home.
'Do you want to have the Bulgarian language introduced into the churches and schools?'
'Yes, we do.'
'Would you then allow me, to go to Constantinople to study Slavonic?’
'You have our permission.'
Up to now I could have been briefer; I was angry with the pen because it couldn't write faster. But it is impossible to be brief now. I am going to tell you about suffering.
beginning of November 1868,1 returned from
Soon we were ready and at parting we embraced all the prisoners. After a while, the door of the prison cell opened and my brother, two of my nephews and I were taken to the kaimakam (district governor), an Albanian from Epirus of the Tosk tribe, one of the most fanatical supporters of Hellenism. The leaders of the town were with him: Tase (Atanas), Zarche, Hristodoul Vladikov, Nahum Strouzhanche and Antonaki, Meleti's nephew. The kaimakam's son spat at me.
'What is my guilt? Who is my accuser?'
'I don't know,' said the kaimakam in Greek, 'what your guilt is nor who your accuser is. There is simply an order from the myutesarifto send you to Debur.'
'Why did your son spit at me?'
'It was a misdemeanour and I'll punish him.'
'Thank you. And you. Sirs, as you know, I have lived respectably, put in a good word for me.'
'We aren't davidji (plaintiffs),' A. Zarchev said.
'I didn't say you were davidji, but I ask you to be ridjadji (intercessors) for me.'
'Why did you have to introduce Bulgarian into Ohrid?' Zarchev said. 'Didn't you like Greek that made you literate?'
'Why did you have to meddle with politics?' Vladikov asked.
'Why did you have to protest against the bishop?' asked Strouzhanche.
Antonaki didn't say a word, so as not to reveal that the bishop's office was the source of all these accusations.
'But if I, as you say, am guilty, what have these three simple souls done to you? It is obvious that you want utterly to destroy two whole families on account of the imaginary guilt of having introduced Bulgarian into Ohrid when the Sultan himself has allowed me to do so.'
All of a sudden into the hall came my mother, who up to that moment had not been able to walk. Two women supported her under the arms. She murmured feebly some beseeching words. Dear mother! She didn't know that one cannot expect mercy from hungry fanatics. The kaimakam ordered her to be taken away.
'Come, mother!' I told her. 'They will neither kill nor hang me. The people you see in front of you are so brave and selfless that they will never do anything on their own, but what others will tell them to. The Hiikiimat1 respects such people, because it needs them.'
'You spoke cleverly,' Zarche said, 'otherwise I would have fixed you.'
'Did I make any mistake?'
'I protest against you, Mr Zarche. You are driving me away because it is now impossible for you to recite at church the Greek 2 which you have learned by heart but do not understand. You will love me as much as you loved me before, if you could learn the Bulgarian 'Prayer.' I protest against you, Mr. H. Vladikov: I have made two of your children literate, but you are persecuting me because I told you openly that you and your associates were bribed by the bishop. My protest against you, Mr. Srouzhanche, is milder: you are persecuting me because you will get neither interest nor capital from the money you gave Meleti. What can you get from a despised monk? I protest against Meleti, who wants to kill me too now, the way he killed my teachers. I protest against the myutesarif because he wants me to be taken to Debur without saying who my accuser is. I protest against you. Your Honour, because you spat at me without knowing what my guilt was.'
'Give up the Bulgarian language,' the kaimakam said, 'and I'll set you free.'
'I would rather die.'
Following the example of the Bulgarian commune in Soloun and as a result of the circulated invitations sent by it to the other Bulgarian communes, the Prilep and Kurchovo communes handed addresses to the local kaimakams in which they asserted their loyalty to the Turkish government,, in order to refute the accusations of the Greek newspapers that the Macedonian Bulgarians had expressed solidarity with the recent events in Eastern Roumelia and Bulgaria. These addresses had been sent to the vali, who had, in turn, recently sent them to the Sublime Porte. When composing the address, the Prilep commune, conscious of the discrepancy between loving, loyal declarations and the real feelings of the suffering Bulgarians, had decided to dwell upon the ordeals endured by the Bulgarians as a result of oppression by the Greek clergy. But since these complaints indirectly concern the Turkish authorities themselves, which patronize the Greek bishop, the vali sent the address back to the kaimakam to be corrected and written after the pattern of the one drawn up by him.
The other Bulgarian communes from the Bitolya vilayet have prudently abstained from making any declarations and have not sent addresses.
as things are, such addresses will be delivered to the Turkish
government as a
proof that the Bulgarians are satisfied with their situation, and they
used as a weapon against those who will try to raise the question
implementing Art. 23 of the Berlin Treaty as it affects
According to reliable sources, our vali is now busy making a report about the state of affairs in the vilayet, and also about the need to carry out reforms in it; but what these reforms will be like one can judge from Ae following. Detesting the European law which served as a pattern for the last legal reforms which took the lion's share from him, Ali Kemali Pasha, as an outstanding upholder of the Koran and Moslem Law, is collecting and preparing evidence to prove that the basic evil in the country comes from these European reforms. What reforms can a person like him suggest, who openly declares, in spite of his high position as a vali, that slavery is necessary, that the European civilization is nonsense and a subject unworthy of the attention of true believers.
The return of the two Bulgarian bishops, one of whom, the bishop of Ohrid, has his seat and diocese in this vilayet, is of great importance for the further development of religious and political relations in the country. The Bulgarian population of the vilayet, to which my humble report refers exclusively, has partly gone over to the Bulgarian Exarchate and partly stayed under the Patriarchate. Up till now the following have joined the Exarchate: in the Bitolya county, the majority of the Bulgarian residents in the town itself, 28-30 communes in the western and a few in the eastern parts of the district, as well as the inhabitants of the sub-districts included in this district; Resen, Prespa and Demir-Hissar; then almost all Bulgarians in the districts of Prilep, Ohrid, Kichevo, Debur, plus thirty communes in the district of Florina and the greater part of the district of Kostour. On the other hand, those which have remained under the Patriarchate are: in the district of Bitolya - part of the Bulgarian residents in the town itself, the majority of communes in the western and almost all in the eastern parts of the district, then the greater part of the Bulgarians in the district of Lerin and a small part of those in the Kostour district.
According to the official census of the inhabitants in 1885 these are the figures about the adherents of the two churches in the above-mentioned districts, which comprise the bulk of the Bulgarian population in the vilayet:
Pelagonia (part of Ohrid)
Moglena (partly Ohrid)
These figures, as well as those in the many official Turkish documents about the Christian population, must certainly have been reduced; nevertheless, they give the right proportion between the numerical correlation of the two churches. It should also be noted that usually the number of the Greek Orthodox population includes the not inconsiderable Wallachian population in the above-mentioned districts. From this it follows that the majority of the Bulgarians from the vilayet have joined the Exarchate.
According to the stipulations of the Sultan's Firman of 27th of February 1870, which establishes the Exarchate, its jurisdiction was to cover not only the dioceses enumerated in it, such as Veles, but also those in which all or at least two-thirds of the Orthodox residents supported it.
Such was the case in the Ohrid-Prespa diocese, to which belong the Ohrid district (with the exception of Strouga and 21 villages which belong to the Drach-Elbasan Diocese), and the sub-districts Resen, Prespa, Demir Hissar and Kroushevo from the Bitolya diocese with 109 villages, and finally thirteen villages from the Lerin district. The bishop sent by the Exarchate in 1870 chose Ohrid as his seat and remained there till 1879, when the Porte dismissed him. The Greek bishop, who also bore the title 'Bishop of Ohrid and Prespa,' was deserted by the whole population of his diocese and moved his quarters to Kroushevo, a little town inhabited predominantly by Wallachians.
In the remaining four dioceses of the vilayet with a predominantly, or largely Bulgarian population, namely Pelagonia (Bitolya), Moglena (Lerin), Kostour and Debur, there was voting in accordance with the Firman. In the Bitolya (together with Prilep) and Kostour dioceses, the majority went over to the Exarchate. In Debur (together with Kichevo) almost all Bulgarian communes joined it; and the Greek bishop, who lost his flock, moved to Veles, which diocese he merged with his own. But the Bulgarian church in the above-mentioned four dioceses was left without diocesan hierarchy and even without legally recognized organization.
Here we have to remember that in the aforesaid Sultan's Firman for the formation of the Bulgarian church complete separation from the Greek church was not envisaged, and what is more, to a certain degree, the unity of the Orthodox church was to be kept intact. In connection with this, it was decreed that, in mixed dioceses, the bishop's seat should be given to the Greek church, while if two thirds of the population were Bulgarians, it would accordingly be given to the Bulgarian church. But the minority had to be represented by a bishop's deputy who was subordinated to the bishop of the other church. The obstinacy of the Patriarchate in relation to the 'schism' prevented the realization of this arrangement.
So far the Bulgarian church has not been legally established by the government. The Bulgarian church communes have not been acknowledged formally the way the Greek Orthodox ones are. While the latter are represented on the vilayet administrative council with the personal vote of their bishops, the Bulgarian church is not, something that the population is very sensitive about in this land, whereas the church organization constitutes the basis of the state.
This is what causes complaint from these communes where the population is mixed, that is, one part belongs to the Patriarchate and the other to the Exarchate. In such communes, according to the position taken by Turkish authorities, the local churches, the cemeteries and the church funds remain in the possession of the Greek Orthodox Church, even though only a small minority or a few scattered houses in the commune belong to it. The church funds are often used to support the local Greek commune.
The complete absence of diocesan hierarchy since 1878-1879 has created absolutely abnormal relations within the Bulgarian church in Macedonia. The Bulgarian clergy, having no leadership or supervision other than the distant Exarchate, were well on the way to anarchy. The numerous newly-built churches wait for the bishop's blessing in order to fulfil their purpose. The priests, newly appointed to fill the gaps, have to travel as far as Constantinople to receive an episcopal ordination. As they are seldom in a position to do this, many communes are left without church leaders. This situation in the national church explains such phenomena as the Catholic-Uniate movement in Prilep, instigated by ambitious priests.
The re-occupation of the bishop's throne in Ohrid, the former seat of the Bulgarian Patriarch, through the appointment of Sinesii now meets one urgent desire and need of the population in this diocese.
This change does not directly affect the ecclesiastical position of the Bulgarians in the other, earlier-mentioned dioceses, and it could help only in as far as it is possible for the newly appointed bishop, on the strength of an official authorization, to ordain priests and to consecrate new churches in the neighbouring districts outside his diocese.
A basic settlement and improvement in the state of affairs is still in the future. The present success over appointment of two bishops for the Macedonian Bulgarians is a starting point and encourages further aspirations in this respect. As far as I can understand their intentions, they are trying to get -apart from Veles - the bishop's seat in Debur, since the Bulgarian population in this diocese, as we mentioned earlier, has, without exception, gone over to the Exarchate, while the Greek bishop was driven out. As for the other places, such as Bitolya, they would be satisfied with the formal, legal recognition of the Bulgarian church commune and also with representation on the administrative council; they are also striving for official recognition of the religious jurisdiction of the Bulgarian clergy. Judging by the progress achieved so far, it can be expected that not only will the internal relations in the Bulgarian church improve, but that also the influence of the church itself will extend further. The national and religious tendencies are also predominating more and more in the Bulgarian communes, which have remained under the Patriarchate. They often refuse to pay the Greek bishop 'the bishop's tax' and to give funds for the sup port of the local Greek schools, which are run by Greeks and serve no purpose. With the return of the bishops, on the insistance of the population, the prestige of the Bulgarian church rose to an extraordinary extent in the eyes of the people. The movement for joining the Exarchate is again gaining momentum, and sooner or later these Bulgarians will be united with the Bulgarian church. When Mr. Sinesii, on his arrival here, went to the densely populated settlement Vrabyane, which is mixed in religious terms, the whole commune made it clear that they acknowledged him and asked him to consecrate the newly-built local church, about which the two camps had argued. Then the Greek church held its position in these parts where there were more Wallachians, predominantly townspeople.
As I have already mentioned, there are tendencies among the Wallachians, alongside with the national movement, to get rid of the Greek bishops. The Bulgarian Exarchate helps them and allows them to use their mother tongue for the liturgy. The Wallachians in Ohrid have already joined the Bulgarian church, while other places with a Wallachian population, such as Yankovets, Resen, Gopesh, Kroushevo, Hroupishta, are also on the way. The present achievement of the Bulgarians in acquiring a Bulgarian church and hierarchy cannot but encourage the Wallachians to do the same. As is already known, the same tendencies, though sporadic, have been noticed among the Orthodox Albanians.
The structure of the Greek church and hierarchy, which has already been shaken, threatens to tumble down here before us, and under its ruins, to bury Hellenism, which has support only in the church and in the schools run by it. From the beginning its place has been taken by the Bulgarian church, and its attendant national Bulgarianism, which, with its constant activity, has for years been consolidating itself and is now powerfully ascendant.
This development of the Bulgarian national church darkens more and more the prospects for success of the new Serbian propaganda in these parts. Since the establishment of the Bulgarian Exarchate the only successful means they can use to win over the Slav population will be to show them a national hierarchy and liturgy but without the 'schism,' and to come to agreement on this score with the Greek church. The consolidation of the Bulgarian church closes this door too to the Serbian propaganda. The emancipation of the Macedonian Slavs from the Greek church is manifested in their joining the Bulgarian church and in the Bulgarian nationalism which it brings. It is too late for the development of these matters to be directed into another channel.
The Bulgarians of these parts appreciate with gratitude the stand of those Powers whose diplomatic intercession played a decisive role in bringing back the Bulgarian bishops. Their political leader here told me that they knew well that, for this success, they had to thank first of all the Austro-Hungarian government for its support. The attitude of Russia to this problem once again showed her hostility to an independent development of the Bulgarian nation. I have reported the same to Constantinople.
Not long ago I had the honour to inform you by telegram about the Bulgarian petitions to the Sultan and the Porte for the appointment of Bulgarian bishops in the dioceses of Pelagonia (Bitolya), Debur, Veles (the last one is outside this vilayet) and what occasioned them.
In this diocese, the petitions were first sent by the church communes of Bitolya and Prilep, which were joined by the others. In Debur diocese petitions were sent by 105 Bulgarian communes. Veles did the same. It is known that the Sultan's Firman of 1870 stated categorically that the latter diocese belonged to the jurisdiction of the Exarchate.
It is not the same with the Debur diocese, which, apart from the Debur district, includes the county of Kichevo, which belongs to this district. Almost all the communes here joined the Bulgarian church. The Greek bishop in Debur, deserted and driven out by his flock, moved to Veles. The Patriarchate merged the two dioceses, where very few followers of the Greek church were left.
In my most humble letter of August 29th this year, I already drew your attention to the religious situation of the Bulgarians in Macedonia and pointed out that their efforts now were directed towards gaining bishops' seats in Veles and Debur from the Porte. The Christian population in these two dioceses without exception belongs to the Bulgarian church. In the Pelagonia (Bitolya) diocese, which comprises approximately all administrative counties in Bitolya and Prilep, the proportions are not the same as in the previous ones. Here again, the overwhelming majority of the population, particularly in Prilep county, belongs to the Bulgarian church. Nevertheless, at a rough estimate, one third of the same population, among which there are quite a few Bulgarian communes, has remained under the Greek Orthodox Church and the Patriarchate.
That is why even Bulgarian circles here do not expect immediate success as regards Bitolya. The petition for the appointment of a bishop, presented by a delegation from the Bulgarian commune, was considered by the governor as premature. The Bulgarians here would be pleased to have the Bulgarian church communes and the Bulgarian clergy acknowledged legally and in this way to get rid of everyday hardships, as well as to be put on an equal footing with the Greek church.
For the time being, the Bulgarians are earnestly striving and hoping for the appointment of bishops only for Veles and Debur. Having in mind the actual situation, this could hardly be postponed any longer. The present mood of the Porte and its dispute with the Patriarchate provides the Bulgarians with a favourable opportunity for gaining further concessions from the former and of completing the building of the national church and the organization on Macedonia.
After 1888 Serbian propaganda in Macedonia became very active and began to attack even the Soloun High School. With money and big promises, the Serbian agitators succeeded in misleading about forty high school pupils and in sending them to Belgrade, but after a year's stay, they ran away to Sofia. The same propaganda spends enormous sums of money on opening Serbian schools all over Macedonia, bribing a few mercenary people in each settlement. The Turkish government and the Constantinople Patriarchate were at their service. Knowing that there are no Serbians in Macedonia, these activities of the Serbian agitators made me very indignant. In my attempts to find a means of counteracting this propaganda, I came to the conclusion that only an underground revolutionary organization could neutralize the foreign propaganda in Macedonia, and it would be the most reliable support for the preservation of Bulgarian national feeling in Macedonia, and would help to strengthen the population both morally and economically. In my speculations on the formation of .a revolutionary organization, I foresaw that I will encounter difficulties on the part of the supporters of the Exarchate and the Exarchate itself, which maintained a policy of centralization in the church and in the schools: it appointed and dismissed the school teachers and the bishop's deputies. That is why IJ began to look for like-minded people from among teachers and citizens, whc favoured decentralization in religious and educational matters. Such people I found in the persons of Peter Poparsov2 and Dimiter Tsonev and, later, in Doctor Hristo Tatarchev,3 a school doctor. I did not rely on other colleagues born in Macedonia, as I knew their views and characters.
In May 1892
the chairman of the Soloun commune, the priest Ivan Madjarov, overtook
the street and said to me: 'I am coming from the town hall. I went to
vali again to order the opening of the church in the village of Novo
(district of Soloun) where Exarchists and Patriarchists could go to
even though the latter consists of two houses. This is what he replied:
"Damn your schools and churches! Listen to me, priest! We shall put up
with you for a year or two more. In two years' time, we shall leave you
to grips with the Serbians and the Greeks and shall watch the show "'
cynical words of the vali Zehni Pasha made my blood boil, and I decided
start organizing the underground movement as soon as possible. I had
four supporters at my disposal: P. Poparsov, Dr. H. Tatarchev Dimiter
and H. Batandjiev.4 But I thought we were very few. Besides
to have someone among us with greater authority and more experienced in
conspiratorial work. I did not find such a person among the
Soloun, nor in
In June 1892 I left for Sofia. There I met K. Shahov and disclosed my plans to him and he recommended Gotse Delchev,5 still a cadet, as a suitable and authoritative man. Shahov made an appointment in his printing house for the following Sunday, when cadets could leave school. When we met, I described the development of the national cause in Macedonia, told them about the threat of the valis and about the results of the Serbian propaganda and put this question to them: 'Isn't it time we founded a revolutionary organization in Macedonia?' Both answered in the affirmative. But they wanted me to describe to them what, in my opinion, the principle of the secret organization should be. I gave the following answer to their question:
1. The revolutionary organization should be founded in Macedonia and be active there so that the Greeks and Serbians should not consider it as a weapon of the Bulgarian government.
2. Its founders should be local citizens living in Macedonia.
3. The political slogan of the Organization should be autonomy of Macedonia.
4. The Organization should be secret and independent and should not establish contacts with the governments of neighbouring countries.
5. From the Macedonians in Bulgaria and the Bulgarian population it should ask only for moral and material support for the struggle of the Macedonian revolutionaries.
We discussed the five basic principles and agreed fully on all scores. As far as the authoritative person was concerned, after exchanging thoughts and opinions with Shahov and me, Gotse said: 'Look here, Mr. Hadjinikolov, so much time has passed, let another year go by. I will be graduating from the Military School next year and I have no intention of remaining an officer in the Bulgarian Army. I'll return to Macedonia, then I'll come to Soloun and we shall talk it over and, if there are possibilities, we'll form the Organization.' Gotse and I parted, expressing the hope of seeing each other in Soloun next summer.
1 Ivan Hadjinikolov, born in
Koukoush, one of
the founders of the Revolutionary Committee in Soloun towards the end of 1898 (IMARO) and a member
of the Central Committee of the Internal Organization.
We want to champion the interests of that Bulgarian land which the Berlin Congress tore away from the free Principality and left in the same plight it was in before the Congress - we 'will fight for this land which is called Southwestern Bulgaria or, as history knows it, under the name of Macedonia. And we shall work, we shall dedicate all our energy to the achievement of this goal, as much as we can and as best as we can. But we have to declare before each and all that we stand for a legal struggle, which implies a rational basis. Only in this way, we think, we can be useful to the Bulgarians in this region. Any other method will be harmful not only to the Macedonian Bulgarians but even to the free Principality on which we must rely in everything for the improvement of the lot of the South-western Bulgarians.
When we say legal means we must explain what we mean: the gradual and natural development of the well-known Macedonian question, the bringing about and creating the conditions which will best settle this question in our Bulgarian interests. We repeat again that we are not going to act in any other ' way. This question has already passed through various stages, and from its history we have learnt that matters were better when we placed its solution on legal basis. Our newspaper takes this stand and we think it will serve our interests best. In the future we will have the opportunity to return to this question and discuss it in greater detail.
The second point of our programme, which we consider as important for our success as the first, is the following: to define what our attitude should be towards the affairs of this country, to the affairs of the free Principality. In this respect we have formed an opinion, which also does not correspond to those of our other former and present newspapers, but which we are determined not to give up. We shall be impartial spectators of the affairs here. Our newspaper will record and only record facts and events, but will never take an attitude other than that of restraint and impartiality. We do not belong to any party, or, rather, we are partisans of the idea: Bulgarian Macedonia, to which idea no Bulgarian government or party (Liberal, Conservative or any other) can be indifferent. We regard every single government in Bulgaria as patriotic because it is a government of our free citizens, who are blood of our blood and flesh of our flesh. The individuals in the government will be of no importance to us whatsoever. That today Peter is in power and tomorrow Stoyan takes his place, this does not interest us at all and will not cause our work to suffer in the least. We want there to be a Bulgarian government, which being Bulgarian, cannot but take to heart the interests of the Bulgarians in Macedonia. In other words, we shall have nothing against any government or any party, that is why we shall report events and give only impartial information without interpreting it this way or that, with approving or passing judgment on it. What we shall demand of each government and each party is that they should take to heart and act energetically on behalf of the Bulgarian cause, of the Bulgarian interests that we, in Macedonia, share in common.
We follow the activities of the Serbian, Greek and other propaganda with particular interest. They have joined hands with the purpose of putting a spoke in the wheel of the Bulgarian cause. Although there is no need of Bulgarian propaganda in this Bulgarian country, we think it will not be without benefit if we use some means to neutralize foreign propaganda, which seeks to build houses on other people's property. But even in this respect, we shall be correct and impartial, as in the other points of our programme.
1A weekly newspaper dealing
mainly with the
The Macedonian population consists of Bulgarians, Turks, Albanians, Wallachians, Jews and Gypsies. The total number of the population and that of each nationality cannot be defined exactly as there are no statistics. Recently the Turkish government has paid attention to statistics as regards the subjects of the Sultan in all respects. It was stipulated that each vilayet should publish a big calendar or 'salname,' which, along with other articles, should carry statistics. These calendars are almost the only official sources in this respect. There is a salname for Skopje vilayet, but it is so short that it is almost useless. Besides, one should use the salname somewhat cautiously because there are many incorrect and inaccurate facts.
The statistics show that the Mohammedan population is increasing at the expense of the Christian nationalities, while the minority groups among the latter are growing in number at the expense of the majority ones. In the region of Skopje the number of the Bulgarians and Albanians will naturally be decreasing.
The statistics of the population are not full because many conceal the nufizi (inhabitants) and do not get registered in order to avoid taxes and obligations.
That is what the Albanians and the Turks do. In view of this, I am not citing any figures, but I shall confine myself to making some remarks on the various nationalities that live in the Skopje vilayet.
5. Bulgarians. They constitute the bulk of the population in the vilayet I am describing. In spite of all distortions in the official statistics, they again figure as more than half of the population. I could not personally collect any data about the number of the population, that is why I am not quoting figures. I made a description of the Bulgarian population in the section on Topography, that is why it is not necessary to repeat the same again or go into detail.
Article 1. The aim of the BMARC is to gain full political autonomy for Macedonia and the Odrin district.
Article 2. For the achievement of this aim they must arouse a feeling for self-defense among the Bulgarian population of the areas mentioned in Article 1, to disseminate revolutionary ideas among it through the press or by word of mouth, and to prepare for and raise a general uprising.
Article 3. Membership is open to any Bulgarian, irrespective of sex, who has not compromised himself in the eyes of the community by dishonest and immoral actions, and who promises to be of service in some way to the revolutionary cause of liberation.
Article 4. The members of each committee are divided into groups each with a chief appointed by the leader. Each member of a group, including the chief, has a number given by the appropriate committee. Each member knows only the members of his group and its chief, while the latter knows only the leader of the committee or his intermediary.
Article 5. The BMARC are divided into regional, district and village committees, and above them all stands a Central BMARC, which directs the general activity of the Cause and represents it. The territory and number of the regional committees are determined by the Central Committee, of the district committees by the regional, and of the village committees - by the district committee.
Each committee is headed by a governing body. The governing bodies of
regional committees are appointed by the
Article 7. Every member of the governing body has a pseudonym given by the Central BMARC.
Article 8. The Central BMARC has a seal with an emblem consisting of a banner, swords, rifles and a bomb, with the inscription Macedonian-Adrianople Central Revolutionary Committee and with a radius of 2 cm 6 mm, and a circumference of 16 cm 8mm. With it, the C.C. stamps important documents.
Article 9. Each regional, district and village committee has its own secret post for communication with the adjacent committees.
Article 10. Each committee has its own secret police for following the activities of internal and external enemies.
Article 11. Every committee keeps the committee above it informed of the activities in its territory, and at the end of each month it presents a detailed report of all its activities in every respect.
Article 13. Anyone who is found guilty of harming the Cause, be he a worker or no, Bulgarian or non-Bulgarian, is to be punished. His punishment is determined by the local committee and is carried out after the Central Committee has given its consent.
Article 14. Detailed internal rules have been drawn up on the basis of this Statute.
Art. 15. On entering the Committee each member shall take an oath, which reads as follows:
'I swear by God, my faith and honour that I will fight to the death for the freedom of the Bulgarians in Macedonia and the Adrianople region, that I will submit unconditionally to the leadership and will unprotestingly carry out its orders; that I will betray to no one, neither by word nor by deed the secret to which I wed myself today and all that I shall see, hear and understand concerning the Cause from today on. If I break my oath, let me be killed by one of the comrades with the revolver or the dagger which here I kiss.'
The oath is taken on the Gospels, a revolver, a dagger or any available weapon. The person taking the oath bows three times, kisses the above-mentioned objects, which, after the oath has been pronounced, he kisses once again. The oath can be administered by any member, but priests are to be preferred.
We received in good time the letter with which you inform us of the results of the Second Macedonian Congress and we must admit that your split at the Congress has made a most unpleasant impression on us. We express our bitter regret at your split and we are afraid lest it have a disastrous and demoralizing effect on our whole Cause in general.
We must say quite frankly that under these circumstances, we do not contemplate any serious aid to the Cause, the more so that your split is taking place precisely at a time when there is a most urgent need for harmony and unity of action on the part of all those who work towards this end. We find you disunited precisely now that there are only a few weeks left for getting substantial aid from within (Bulgaria). As soon as the snows melt in the mountains, our channels will be closed and our workers will have to remain inactive until next winter.
Irrespective of all this we continue to prepare the people in the spirit of our programme and remain in agreement with all (those) who share our credo.
Our people are pressing for arms and we firmly believe in the readiness of those committed to the Cause to make sacrifices - you should make haste and send us help!
With fraternal greetings.
We are sending you enclosed herewith 'Remarks on the Reforms’ together with an explanatory note to them which the Committee has elaborated and presented to the Russian diplomatic agent, Mr. Charikov, and to the Minister Stoilov.
Although the Committee has not yet received a positive answer to these demands, from the last conversation with the head of the Russian agency G. Smirnov, and from some other signs, it has come to the conclusion that it is hardly likely to achieve in this way any improvement of the lot of the Bulgarian population in Macedonia. The Committee has decided to wait a little longer for a positive answer from the above-mentioned persons and for the results of its diplomatic steps and peaceful activities but when it is finally convinced that they have remained fruitless, it, the Committee, will consider resorting to other means, endorsed by the Macedonian Congress.
In informing you of this we ask you, dear Sir, to convey it to the persons it concerns.
Another question which has recently greatly stirred the minds of the whole Bulgarian people, and to which the Committee has paid particular attention, is the question of 'ending the schism. The Committee hastens to assure whoever it may concern that it regards this question as a political question, fateful for the future of the entire Bulgarian nation. Proceeding from here, the Committee is in no way prepared to sacrifice the banner, under which the struggle for national awareness has been waged for 50 years now, and which today serves as a symbol of the spiritual and political unity of the Bulgarian people. For this reason the Committee is prepared to afford all its support to those who share its views; and if the worst comes to the worst, it might be even compelled to endanger some vital interests, in order to preserve the present situation with regard to the schism. Informing you of this, the Committee asks you to inform it of the present situation of the question of the schism, and of the opinions and actions of the persons who are interested in it.
We are sending you enclosed herewith 'Remarks on the Reforms in Macedonia' together with an explanatory note on them, which the Committee has recently prepared.
Besides, we consider it necessary to inform you that the above documents have been presented to some prominent political figures here, who have undertaken to bring influence to bear where necessary for the introduction of these reforms in Macedonia. The Committee has not yet received any answer from these people nor is it aware of any steps, taken by the Turkish government to meet the Committee's demands. The latter is resolved to wait for another while to see the results of its diplomatic steps and peaceful activities; after that however, when it is convinced that all these efforts have remained fruitless it will consider that the first type of means have been exhausted and will concentrate its attention on putting into effect the second type of means, endorsed by the Macedonian Congress.
Hoping that the draft for reforms in Macedonia, enclosed herewith, corresponds to the interests of the Macedonian population and is in conformity with its desires, we request you to make these documents known through the committees dependent on you.