1. THE ORIGIN OF THE MACEDONIAN QUESTION AS A PART OF THE MACEDONO-THRACIAN QUESTION.
Rivalries over the Balkans are with a long history. Especially important for the future developments were the rivalries between Greeks and Romans. The native population of the Peninsula - Thracians and Illirians were partly hellenized, when the strong Roman Empire latinized them - I-Vth C. This influence is still felt among the Romanians and the Albanians. The Asiatic Barbarian tribes Ostgots, Westgots and Huns at Vth C. genocide this population, thus opening the door before the new “guests” - the Slavs. From the Antic ethnicities - Illirians, Thracians and Hellens remained only a pretty small number of people who formed latter the following nations: Albanians, Romanians and Greeks.
But if not all of the people survived, it was not the same with the names of the tribes, and the districts they used to live in. Names like Moesia, Thrace, Illiria, Macedonia, Dalmacia, Slavonia, Dobroudja, Moravia not only survived, but were used long years and centuries after the people from the original ethnicity were not existing. (There is a practice in the United States and Canada Indian words to be used for different geographical objects. Even the names of some of the states are Indian. But: nobody would say that the people from suppose Indiana are Indians. In some cases the people living in these districts used to be called by the name of the district.)
The Renaissance, with its sentimental attitude towards the Antic world, revived these names, and gave a push to the practice of renewing their use. In times of Napoleon a state named Illiria was organized and its citizens - pure Slavs, were called Illirians without having even a drop of Illirian blood. In the US cities like Memphis people have nothing to do with Egypt, but the latter was not angry with this.
In Berlin 1878 the whole body of the Bulgarian nation was divided into two main parts: liberated Bulgarians, subjects of the country called Bulgaria, and Bulgarians under foreign power. The latter, deep in their soul did not recognize the moral and the law of the foreign nations. They did not want to call themselves Turks (Ottomans), Serbs and Romanians. So they started calling themselves with the names from the Antic world: Macedonians, Thracians, Moravians and Dobroudjans. And when they formed their revolutionary organizations, and bombs started to burst, the documents of the official European representatives started very often using these words. Most often of course, was mentioned the name Macedonia. It was not only because of the Greatness of Alexander. Simply because here the Bulgarians were much a greater number than in the other districts and the struggle here was most severe.
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In the mid-15th C. all the Balkan Peninsula was covered by the Ottomans. For more than 400 years the pendulum of the normal development of the Balkan peoples was stopped. In the Ottoman Empire were two kinds of people: Muslims and others. The boundaries among the smallest Balkan countries were forgotten and not valid any more. And when the 19th C. came - the Century of Liberation of Balkan countries, the first question that arose, was of course: where would be the boundaries between the Balkan countries. History was invited as an assistant - but who would recognize the history - more than 400 years have passed. New times had come: nations were formed on the basis of the ethnicities. Those nations wanted to create nation states. But what about the territories? Which is the territory to form a nation state, since long years and centuries these territories are possession of the Ottoman Empire - mixed with population of different nations and ethnicities. In this case a concept - not official, but much reasonable and just, took place: the territory of a nation would be the one over which most of the population is of a one nation. The majority would be of an absolute character - if more than half of all the population is of one nation, and of a relative character - if it is the prevailing element. (The principle of the majority of the population is not a Balkan invention, it is an universal one. Here I only remind about it.)
The nations were young and full of energy, but the Empire didn’t easily give up. The Europeans needed strong Ottoman Empire to oppose Russia. In this case the young Balkan nations had to make strong efforts to prove themselves. They had to loudly express their strength, their number, their culture, and religion. Otherwise who would believe in their majority at a given place. Besides that cultures and religions was very difficult to be differentiated. People of one and the same language were subordinates to different religions; and people from one religion spoke different languages. Where is the nation: the most important components of a nation - territory, language and religion is difficult to be taken into consideration. In this case only the loudly proclaimed self-determination of the people to be a nation would help: active participation in the education activities, active participation in the ecclesiastical struggles, in the armed struggles for independence - this is what shaped the 19th C. Balkans; this is the surrounding when the Macedonian question appeared.
All the authors unanimously claim that the Macedonian political question appeared after the Berlin Treaty, and it was as a part of the Bulgarian question. Why? Because according to the latter Bulgarian territories were left under Ottoman domination, and the struggle in the Empire continued. It was especially strong in Macedonia and this made the name of the district appear very often in the politics. Up to 1878 there was not any noise about Macedonia, it was very rarely mentioned in the European documents. In this light it seems very strange that many authors are putting the sign of equals between the name “Macedonia” and “Macedonian question”. Writing about the Macedonian question, they start writing the history of the geographical region, called “Macedonia”.
Up to 1876 in Europe the ethnical, economical and political questions, connected with the Ottoman Empire had the common name Eastern Question. It was not unless the April Uprising of 1876 took place in Bulgaria that the name “Bulgarian Question” took place in Europe as a nucleus of the Eastern Question. In Hoover Institution was found a document that expresses that it was due to two important American personalities: Dr.George Washburn and Dr.Albert L.Long. The first one was the director and the other the assistant director of the American school in Constantinople - the famous Robert College, where many of the extinguished Bulgarians were trained at the time. They were informed by the Bulgarians about the Turkish brutalities in the Philippopolis district in April 1876. “Without losing a moment of time, these two philantropic Americans set to work and persuaded their good friend Mr.Edwin Pears to send a full account of the Turkish barbarities to the London newspaper “The Daily News”. This was the first important communication that appeared in foreign newspapers and it produced the result expected of it - it horrified the public oppinion of the civilized world and set European diplomacy in motion. Full accounts of the massacres were sent by these same two Americans to all the embasies in Constantinople and also to all the more prominent members of the British Parliament, which latter circumstance led Mr.Foster, the Secretary of State for Ireland, to put a question to put a question on the subject in the House of Commons... Accordingly, it was necessary to forestall and to nullify the influence of the prejudiced British enquiry. That was the most critical moment for the cause of emancipation, because on it depended the creation of a “Bulgarian question” in European diplomacy.” And further: “Mr. McGahan’s telegram after his return from Batak and Mr.Schuyler’s report on the Turkish atrocities saved from extinction the work of emancipation begun so heroically by the Bulgarians. But without the help of Dr.George Washburn and Dr.Albert Long, who were the direct cause of this saving undertaking, Gladstone’s name would never have come to be forever bound up with the liberation of Bulgaria, and the Bulgarian nation would never have existed, and the Russian Tsar would never have proclaimed the war of emancipation.” Although the author of the document surely exagerated, it may be sure that without these representatives of the rapidly developing and ful with modern ideas New World, Bulgarian cause would have had much difficulties. And what is important for this paper, this is surely the explanation given that from 1876 on, the Bulgarian Question already strongly appeared on the European scene as a some sort a continuation of the Eastern Question. Leaving territories populated with Bulgarians under Turkish domination did not disolve the Bulgarian Question, it simply deepened the problems.
So, Bulgarian territories were left under Ottoman domination. But how do we know their boundaries? Or at least what were the developments, which led to the expression of the Bulgarian population to be the majority at certain regions, which then one could call Bulgarian.
Everyone who is familiar with the Ottoman Empire, knows that its main law is the law of the Sheriat (the religious law). According to the Sheriat the Muslims are master, no matter what language are they speaking, and the others are subordinates. All the religions had only one representative before the Sultan. The Ortodoxes had as a representative the Constaqntinople’s Patriarch. It was injustice, because according to the canons, the Ortodoxes have different Bishoprics which are not dependent from one another. On the Balkans there were together with the Constantinople (which was the traditional Byzantine), also - the Serbian bishopric in Pech (Kosovo), and the Bulgarian - in Ohrid (Macedonia). This was the tradition from the Medieval times. The transformation of the Byzantine Hellenistic ethnicity into a Greek nation tended to make the Slavic Bulgarian and Serbian people Greek. Constantinople Patriarchate, using its privileged position before the Sultan imposed everywhere in the churches the Greek language. The Ohrid Archbishopry, although called Bulgarian, was occupied by only Greek priests. These actions provoked reactions. In 1762 the Bulgarian monk Paisiy Hilendarski (born in Bansko, Macedonia), wrote the first Bulgarian history, which enlightened the people. It was rewritten and red by almost by the whole nation. The reaction of the Patriarchate was furious. Five years later - in 1767, the Bulgarian Archbishopry in Ohrid was forbidden. (About the same time the same happened with the Serbian one in Pech). This appeared the main reason for an ecclesiastical struggle, which continued a hundred years.
This struggle in fact helped the formation of the Bulgarian nation. In this struggle there was little room in the middle - one either declares himself for Bulgarian language in the churches and in schools, or for the Greek. There were people, speaking Bulgarian language, who refused their mothers’ language and preferred to choose the more “cultural” Greek one (let’s remember the case with Elsas and Loreign. The Germans there preferred in fact the French culture.) The others declared themselves Bulgarians, which meant in fact - a struggle for the renewal of the Bulgarian Ohrid Archbishopry. There was not a single man to give any idea for any other national church. (Noone even thought about whatever Macedonian church). Of course the process of developments of the Serbian national Church was in some way or other parallel, but it concerned only the territories of the Pech Patriarchate. There was not a single Serbian in the territory of the Ohrid Bulgarian Archbishopry.
At that time the interests of the Bulgarians clashed with the Russian ones’ and coincided with the Ottomans’ . Russians were against whatever division and thus weakening of the Orthodox world. The Ottomans, on the contrary, aimed at weakening the enslaved population. Thus in 1870 the Sultan edicted a Ferman with which the boundaries of the Bulgarian nation were framed; this happened on the basis of the ecclesiastical struggles. The Bulgarian church, with center in Constantinople, called Exarchate emerged, and it included all the territories of the Beylerbey (an Ottoman administrative unit) called “Roumelia”. (Roumelia included the three districts often mentioned as Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia.)
Together with the ecclesiastical struggle Bulgarian revolutionary movement gained strength. It’s culmination was the April Uprising of 1876. Suppressed with cruelties, it provoked the Peace Conference in Constantinople - December 1876 - January 1877. The participants at the Conference - the Ambassadors of the Great Powers made a proposal to the Sultan: to make two separate autonomous states for the Bulgarians - Eastern and Western. They should be on the basis of the territories where the Bulgarians had self-determinate themselves.
When the Russian Army defeated the Ottomans in 1878 in the Russia-Turkish War, on 1878, March 3rd in San-Stephano (near Constantinople) was signed the San-Stephano Peace Treaty. According to it the decisions from the Conference in Constantinople from January 1878 had to be taken into consideration. The difference was that instead of two, only one autonomous Bulgarian state should be organized.
San-Stephano Peace Treaty rendered some small portions of the Bulgarian Exarchate to Romania and Serbia as a reward for their active participation in the war. Nevertheless it united almost all of the territories, populated with a predominant Bulgarian population. Much of the bloodshed of the past thirty years at the Balkan Peninsula might have been avoided if this Treaty was allowed to stand.
Addressing the Reichstag on 19th February 1878, i.e. fortnight before the signing of the Treaty of San-Stephano, the German Chancellor Prince Otto von Bismarck said: “The ethnographic situation of Bulgaria, as I know it from authentic sources and as it appears in the best map I know - that of [German geographer Heinrich] Kiepert - is this: The boundaries of the Bulgarian nationality descend on the west, almost without any mixture, even beyond Salonica”. He argued that as they had already been drawn at the Constantinople Conference, the borders of Bulgaria would be no trouble at all to fix.
The political circles in Europe, however, were well aware that the Treaty, signed in San-Stephano was just a preliminary agreement intended to end the war rather than to achieve a durable settlement of the Bulgarian Question. On April 1, 1878, the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Salisbury sent a note to the Governments of the European Powers, listing in very specific terms Great Britain’s reasons for insisting on a revision of the Treaty of San-Stephano. The primary consideration of Downing street was that a large Slav state would be created in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, bordering on the Black Sea and the Aegean. Austria-Hungary also refused to agree that “a Greater Bulgaria should block its access to Salonica”. Germany adopted a more peculiar line of conduct vis-à-vis the Anglo-Russian dispute over the Bulgarian question after San-Stephano. Chancellor Otto von Bismarck offered to act as an “honest broker” between Russia and the West European Powers. Faced with the imminent threat of a possible war with the emerging European coalition, Russia bowed to pressure and admitted the revision of the San-Stephano Peace Treaty at a Congress of the European Powers. St. Petersburg signed an agreement with London on April 30, 1878, according to which the territory of Bulgaria would be reduced in the west and south, and the Bulgarian lands would be split into two.
In fact the Bulgarian territories were split not into two, but into several pieces: North Bulgaria, called Principality Bulgaria was a tributary (dependent from the Ottoman Empire) Principality. The district southern from the Balkan Mountain was an autonomous district, called “Eastern Roumelia”. Nevertheless the two districts were dependent by the Ottoman Empire, the Bulgarians there had for themselves the feeling to be free, at least feeling their road to freedom not so long. But the carma of the Bulgarians from the other districts was not the same. Dobroudja was given to Romania, Moravia to Serbia, Macedonia and Thrace remained in of the Ottoman Empire. Bulgarians, living in these districts, being not objects of the country Bulgaria, called themselves Moesians, Thracians, Macedonians, Dobroudjans. Later on all the ethnicities inhabiting these districts acquired these names. And it was here - on the very Berlin Treaty, when the word Macedonia appeared with a political sense: the Berlin Treaty promised to the Bulgarian population there to be granted some kind of autonomy, similar to the one, given to Crete. This promise appeared later for legitimizing the struggle of the Bulgarian population in Macedonia and Thrace against the Ottoman Empire.
The decision of the Great Powers to convene a congress in Berlin to review the San-Stephano Treaty deeply alarmed the Macedonian Bulgarians. A large-scale petition campaign was started - collecting signatures and addressing memoranda and pleas to the representatives of the Great Powers. As long as the sessions of the Berlin Congress continued, however, no armed struggle was initiated. The Bulgarians from Macedonia and Thrace still trusted the conscience of the European diplomats. They sent a note to the envoys of the Great Powers to Constantinople, which expressed their hopes that “the exellent men sitting at the High Seat, inspired by philantropic sentiments, will impose an European sanction on the San-Stephano treaty thus recovering our ultimate deliverance”. The broad strata of the Bulgarian people took an active part in this campaign. The national character of the legal action was enhanced the moet by the active participation of the Bulgarian intelligentsia in Macedonia in it.
The decisions of the Berlin Congress crushed the hopes of the Macedonian Bulgarians to live a free life. Now, along with expanding the scope of the petition campaign, the Bulgarians of Macedonia already started preparations for an armed struggle as well. Most active in these preparations turned out to be those regions in which secret preparations were made and uprisings carried out during the revolutionary crisis of 1875-1876.
After the end of the Russo-Turkish War the social and economic situation of the population in the districts remaining under Ottoman rule abruptly deteriorated. A wave of fierce settlers from the liberated lands - the Muhadjir Turks - appropriated the dwellings of the Bulgarian population, ransacked them of their property and committed acts of violence and inflames.
The reasons which led to the Kresna-Razlog Uprising - the foreign national and religious oppression and the semi-feudal methods of exploitation of the Bulgarian population in the conditions of stepped-up terror in the Ottoman Empire. The actual cause for the uprising however were the unfair decisions of the Berlin Congress which doomed the Bulgarians of Thrace and Macedonia to slavery. Therefore, the goal of the Uprising was attaining national freedom and destroying the monstrous forms of the semi-feudal Ottoman system by creating an integral Bulgarian state. The Kresna-Razlog Uprising was a direct continuation of the Bulgarian national liberation bourgeois-demovratic revolution having started during the period of the National Revival and continuing during the Russo-Turkish War. This Uprising was the embodiment of the strivings for national liberation and unification of the entire Bulgarian people at that time. The Uprising expressed the all-Bulgarian nature of the national revolution. Bulgarian patriots of all liberated and of not liberated territories fought in the ranks of the insurgents.
In order to clarify the nature of the Uprising one should make a brief review of its driving forces. The struggle was waged by the entire Bulgarian nation, but the largest masses of the Bulgarian population were the peasants. That is why the main driving force were the peasants living in the districts of Melnik, Petrich, Demirhissar, Razlog, Nevrokop and Serres. Peasants of other parts of Macedonia also took part in the Uprising. The wide participation of Bulgarian peasantry in the uprising was attributable to its aspirations to get rid of the hard socio-economic conditions and resolve the still pending and aggravated agrarian question in the region.
By that time the peasantry populating the Bulgarian lands consisted of two main groups - raya peasants and farm hands. The former owned a small lot of land and were gathered in relatively large semi-mountainous villages. The latter were practically void of land and worked as hired hand on the farms belonging to Moslem feudal lords. And that is why it was namely in Macedonia where the number of such farms was several times bigger than in the remaining Bulgarian lands that the agrarian question and the eastern, semi-feudal methods of exploitation stood with full force.
The main goal of the armed struggle though, was expressed most clearly in the letter of the Melnik rebels of December 11,1878, which they sent to the chief of the Petrich police: “We took up the arms and will not leave them until we get united with the Bulgarian Principality”. The rebels were aware that fighting for national liberation and unification they were actually fighting for the destruction of the feudal ways and for obtaining land.
Typical for the uprising was the mass-scale participation of volunteers - Bulgarians of all parts of the country. Some figures as an illustration: 100 volunteers from Sofia, 27 from Tirnovo, 65 from Pazardjik, 19 from Troyan, 31 from Pleven, 74 from Botevgrad region, 129 from the Plovdiv district, 7 from Provadia and 30 from Thrace. A large number of insurgents and leaders of different parts of Macedonia also participated in the uprising.
The main driving force of the uprising in the Razlog valley was the Bulgarian population of Bansko, Dolno and Gorno (Lower and Upper) Draglishte, Bachevo, Godlevo, Belitsa, Eleshnitsa. Here the uprising was carried out on a mass scale and, contrary to the insurrectionist operations along the valley of the river Strouma where Bulgarian volunteers of everywhere were fighting, almost all of the rebels were local Bulgarian population and formed a homogenious group. The reasons for this local activity were of social and economic nature. In their greater part the peasants here were free owners. At the same time there were social and political reasons as well. The Razlog district actively participated in the national liberation movement of the Bulgarian people. A great number of revolutionary committees which did not succeed in making the population rise in arms in 1876, now formed the main organizing bodies of the Razlog uprising. The main figures in the preparations for the April Uprising were leading this uprising now.
At the beginning the discontent and the protests of the Bulgarians from Macedonia against the unfair and reactionary Berlin dictat were spontaneous in nature. The seats of resistance of the Macedonian Bulgarians were the border towns of Kyustendil and Gorna Djoumaya where great numbers of refugees from Macedonia, hajdouk bands and ex-leaders were concentrated. Everyday there were clashes in those regions between rebel bands passing the borders and Turkish border troops, and in the interior of Macedonia clashes between bands and Turkish forces. At the same time a large portion of the emigrants from Macedonia and Thrace got concentrated in Sofia - mainly the intelligentsia, consisting of Macedonian Bulgarians. Under the form of a charity committee the latter began active prepatations for an uprising. This was helped by the arrival of Nathanail Ohridski, a former bishop of Ohrid, who not only approved the work of the Sofia emigres but took the lead of the movement imself.
The beginning of the course towards an armed uprising as a protest against the desisions of the Berlin Congress was spelt at the meeting in the Rila Monastery, held on September 8, 1878. This meeting was attended by eminent “cheti” leaders and representatives of the clergy and the intelligentsia. A decision was made to organize armed detachments to defend the border and the Bulgarian population from the bashi-bozouk attacks, and at the same time to carry out intensive preparations for an uprising. Joint struggle was organised with Petko Voivode - the chief organizer and leader of the Thracian bands.
At the end of August and the beginning of September charity committees called “Edinstvo” (Unity) began to be set up in the Principality. The initiative for this belonged to the former revolutionaries Lyuben Karavelov, Stephan Stambolov and Hristo Ivanov - Senior. The missions of the “Edinstvo” committees, as clearly expressed in their name, was to render moral and material backing to the resistance movement started among the Bulgarians in Macedonia and Thrace aimed against the decisions of the Berlin Congress. With their urgent requests for help to the Bulgarians of the Bulgarian Principality and Eastern Roumelia, the active figures of this movement contributed to the establishment of these committees.
The Kresna-Razlog Uprising opened in the morning of October 5,1878. About 400 rebels attacked the Turkish garrison at the Kresna Inns and after 18 hours of fighting succeeded to crush its resistance. Led by Adam Kalmikov, a former Russian officer, Dimiter Popgueorgiev and Stoyan Karastoilov, the rebels captured 119 soldiers and two officers. The success of the Kresna operation inspired the rebels and lowered the combat spirit of the Turkish soldiers.. Right after this victory the insurgents headed to the south and incited the rural population along the river Strouma to revolt. In co0nsequent fighting the rebels seized 43 inhabited points and established a free territory, extending in the south to the villages Belitsa and Gradeshnitsa, seized the “Karshiak” in the southwest and the “Predela” Pass in the southeast. Scores of individual bands operated outside the range of the range of direct insurrectional activities. The leaders of the uprising were approached by delegations requesting armaments and support. The entire Bulgarian population in Macedonia was excited and waiting for a chance to join in the uprising and win their freedom.
On November 8, 1878 the Uprising started in the Razlog area as well. Led by Banyo Marinov, the rebels seized Bansko - the biggest inhabitted place - and liberated the whole district.
The hostilities were supervised by the headquarters of the uprising under the command of Dimiter Popgueorgiev. In the inhabitted points there were set up Councils of Elders and local police chieves were elected as the bodies of the new revolutionary power. The duties of these bodies included the administrative structure of the liberated territories, securing the order in the district, mobilizing new fighters and providing support from the liberated Bulgarian territories.
The Turkish powers mobilized strong forces to crush the Uprising. The eight-thousand strong regular Turkish army and the huge masses of the bashi-bozouks, after heavy fightings, drouned the rebels in their blood. Hundreds of women, children and old people fell victim to the bashi-bozouk outrage. A large number of refugees headed for the free bounds of the homeland. To a large extent the division of oppinions among the leaders of the Uprising also contributed to the defeat. A Central Committee was set up only later. It included Nathanail Ohridski and the former members of the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee of 1874-1876 - start the preparations for a new uprising in the spring of the next year. To the purpose there were trained 400 insurgents with the intention to cross the frontier and form the main body ensuring the continuation of the uprising. In May 1878 this detachment entered Macedonia, but irrespective of the sympathies of the population it failed to fulfil the task set, due to the lack of efficient preliminary organization. The detachment crossed the river Vardar, destroyed the railways, fought against the Turkish forces, but was dispersed and defeated to death. This was the end of the Uprising, though the activity of a number of detachments was continued in various regions. In 1880 Ohrid was on the brink of an uprising.
In crushing the Uprising and the insurrectional unrest in Macedonia the Turkish authorities repeated the atrocities committed in suppressing the April Uprising of 1876. The Bulgarian and foreign press abunded with reports on the Turkish brutality towards the Bulgarian population all over Macedonia and first of all in the region of the Uprising. On November 14, 1878 the British “Daily News” wrote about the Macedonian massacre, that the Bulgarian village Krishnitsa, near Melnik was slaughtered by the Turkish troops killing 360 people, fifty Bulgarians fled, but the Turks overtook them and stroke them dead, the newspaper read. The British Counsul in Salonika visited the village of Banya, which was destroyed by fire, the victims in Bansko and Dobrinishte and found that nearly 600 men, women and children had been slain.
The question of the international reverberation of the Uprising was closely related to the policy of the respective state vis-a-vis the Bulgarian problem. The Turkish authorities and the press for instance were trying to misinform the European public oppinion in any possible way regarding the causes, character and range of the Uprising, the support of the Slav Committees in Russia, the participation of Russian officers in the Uprising and so on, and so forth.
With the appearance of the very first reports on the outbreak of a Bulgarian uprising in Macedonia the liberal Russian social circles tried to use it as exerting pressure on the official policy to urge the Porte to apply the Art.23 of the Berlin Treaty. “Novoye Vremya” wrote: “There happen to be Bulgarians in Macedonia. Therefore the Russian policy should thank the Porte for recognizing the Bulgarian nationality in Macedonia and advose it to carry out the reforms.” Some figures of the Interim Russian Government in Bulgaria rendered assistance in organizing the revolt. But the official Russian political line was absolutely alien to such an action. The Uprising broke out in an unfavourable foreign political situation. It could not have been backed by Russia. At that moment she was isolated with regard to Europe, a coalition having been formed against her and contradictions becoming ripe with Germany. Russia was on the brink of a new war.
The official circles in Austria-Hungary responded with alarm to the proclamation of the Uprising and the movement in the interior of Macedonia. The Vienna “Wiener Abendpost” wrote at the end of October 1878: “No doubt, the Uprising is aimed at effecting the founding of Bulgaria under the San-Stephano Peace Treaty. This is why it outstrips the importance of a local crisis and is growing into an all-European question”. The newspapers in Vienna raised a big noise around the number of rebels every day, wrote of non-existent fightings and so on. The press launched a campaign against Russia, trying to depict it as an initiator of the Uprising and accusing her of failing to fulfil the Berlin Treaty. The “Politische Korrespondenz” of October 16, 1878, wrote that “the Slav Committees in Russia supplied guns and money. The purpose of the Uprising is to attach Roumelia, Macedonia and Thrace to the Bulgarian Principality”.
The French Government’s stand was: the limitation of the Russian influence on the Balkans, which actually meant restricting the territory of the Bulgarian state. This was the reason why the outbreak of the Kresna-Razlog Uprising startled the French diplomats making them pay special attention to it. In their reports the French representatives stressed that the insurrectionist movement was Bulgarian in nature and that it was aimed at the restoration of the San-Stephano Bulgaria. The French ambassador to Constantinople Fournier reported for example that the aim of the Uprising was to stir the Bulgarian and Greek population in Eastern Roumelia, Thrace and Macedonia and to annex these three districts to the Bulgarian Principality. According to the French diplomat the insurrectionist movement strived to force Europe to alter the clauses of the Berlin Treaty in the case of Bulgaria. The French diplomats followed very attentively the slightest signs of Bulgarian-Greek rapprochment and the joint participation of the two nationalities in the Uprising. It was considered dangerous in the light of the French stand adopted.
Britain’s attitude towards the Kresna-Razlog Uprising was determined by her attitude towards Turkey, namely to keep the Ottoman possessions on the account of the Balkans and to prevent any growing Russian influence in them. Therefore several days after the Uprising broke out, the newspapers in Britain abounded in accusations over Russia that the latter was instigating the movements in Roumelia and Macedonia and those in Epirus and Thessaly. The “Times” even went as far as reccomending joint action on the part of France, Austria-Hungary and Britain to impel Russia to fulfil the Berlin Treaty.
Although without any direct political interests in the Balkans, Germany’s policy was determined by her course of rapprochment with Austria-Hungary, a fact equally unfavourable for the Kresna-Razlog Uprising. Italy did not have any specific aspirations for the Balkans, and her striving to annexe Trieste and Trentino triggered hostile action to Austria-Hungary on her part. At that the process of unification in Italy had just been completed there and she still remembered her revolutionary struggles. So the Italian representatives were the only ones not to adopt a mistrustful and hostile stand on the Kresna-Razlog Uprising.
It would be of a particular interest to follow the relation and bearing of the Kresna-Razlog Uprising to the National liberation movements of other Balkan peoples in the district. The national liberation movement of the Macedonian Bulgarians was developing in paralel to the Albanian and Greek.
The Albanian League had a specific attitude to the course of events at the time. It made it its aim to crush the Bulgarian detachments for they posed a threat to its interests, aiming to restore San-Stephano Bulgaria. We should naturally mention here the revolutionary movement of Yusuf Ali Bei, an Albanian from Debar. Though insignificant, it came out with a clearly proclaimed programme of joint struggle of the Bulgarian and Albanian population against the Turkish feudal rule. According to Yussouf Bei, the destiny of the Albanians demanded accord and friendship with the Slav peoples and principalities against the plots and claims of the Great Powers on the Balkans, and the honest Albanian patriots had to be well aware of the truth about Macedonia - in the districts, confined between Vranya, Shar, Ohrid, Kostour, up to Achichelebi area, he claimed that there lived about one milion and a half Bulgarians.
The striving of the Bulgarian rebels to organize interaction with the Greek national movement in the southern regions of Macedonia dated back to the time of the preparations for the Kresna-Razlog Uprising. It was stressed in the documents of that time that Greeks also participated in the Bulgarian detachments. The leaders of the Uprising sent over voivode Georgi Karaiskaki, a participant in the Bulgarian volunteer corps during the Russio-Turkish War, and his band to Olimpus, where he had to establish a contact and obtain the support of the local Greek detachments and of those who were passing to the north from Greece. But no alliance of the Bulgarian and the Greek elements was possible to attain.
The Kresna-Razlog Uprising made the climax of the struggles and protests of the Bulgarians in Macedonia against the decisions of the Berlin Congress. According to its purposes and missions it corresponded to the interests and expectations of all the Bulgarians from Macedonia, since it was aimed to their national liberation and unification. And that was why the Uprising strongly echoed among the Bulgarian population in the interior of Macedonia and uplifted the national liberation movement there. The Russian Consul Hitrovo reported: “All the Bulgarians are convinced that either now or in March a serious uprising will surely start. All of them arm themselves in any possible way: there is not a single family without some weapon; but many of them possess rifles acquired from the soldiers of the Sultan’s army”. Till the end of 1878 however, no more overt action was attained. Only local bands appeared here and there and preparations for an uprising were carried out in the spring of 1879.
Most important reason for the limited outcome of the Kresna-Razlog Uprising and its failure was the unfavourable foreign political situation. The liberation struggle of the Bulgarian population in Macedonia and the pursuits of unification of the entire Bulgarian people in the situation set after the Berlin Congress confronted with the interests of the Great Powers, with their resolute and overpowering stand on observing the decisions of the Berlin Treaty.
Irrespective of its falure, the Uprising had some favourable effects. It manifested the high national consciousness and nationality of the population of the area as well as its lofty strivings to throw off the national and social dominion and to live a free life in the same home country with all the other Bulgarians. With its aims and nature the Kresna-Razlog Uprising occupies its due place as a stage and continuation of the Bulgarian national bourgoeis-democratic revolution.
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The failure of the uprising to lead to the liberation and unification of the other parts of the Bulgarian territories directed the attention of the Bulgarian political and strategic leaders to other main strategic objective - unification of the two Bulgarian districts - the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Roumelia, the later being under Sultans power, but still having a large autonomy. Macedonia and Thrace should have to wait.
On September 6th, 1885 the Unification was proclaimed. All the Bulgarian nation supported it. The population was exited as if a revolution has taken place. The Unification was done with almost no casualties, and no adversaries. Even the Ottoman Empire was silent, perhaps not believing that it was possible such an action, directed against the decisions of the Great Powers to take place. And here happened something that helps to understand to what extent the Great Powers were able to play poker with the small ones. Britain of course appeared to be an enemy of a greater Bulgaria. But it happened so that Russia, as if expecting to have in the face of the Bulgarians its own subordinates (citizens), did not agree with the Unification for her own reasons. When in Britain they found out that the secret preparation and the Unification were not done by Russia, London heartily congratulated the Bulgarians. And to make the absurd full, the Serbians, feeling discomforted by the rapid increase of the Bulgarian territory, declared a war to the latter.
A heavy war in a heavy time. Bulgarian army was concentrated on the Bulgaria-Turkish border. Only half of the distance was covered with railway road. More than 100 km had to be passed on foot. Noone recognized the Unification. Russia was against it. All Russian officers and functionaries, the Defense Minister in that number, a Russian General, were ordered to go to Russia; the sentimental love was over, the time for the true political interests had come. Nevertheless, hungry and exhausted Bulgarian soldiers were successful in the war. The Art of War was enriched with a one more proof that the strategists are not right when they often forget to take into consideration the impact over the soldiers of the just cause. among the rank and file of the army were many men born in the other territories - Thrace, Macedonia, Dobroudja and Moravia. Most of the “foreigners” were from Macedonia, having in mind the Bulgarian population there was most numerous. There was formed even a separate battalion, called “Macedonian”. People there were mostly born in Macedonia.
The Serbo-Bulgarian war of 1885 was successful for Bulgaria. Northern and Southern Bulgaria were united. The Strategic success led to a political one. While not a single country was ready to recognize the Unification, now the Great Powers, fearing of complications, agreed upon the matter. This is an example which simply and clearly shows how a strategic success could lead to achieving the political aims at a time when the latter are seeming impossible to be reached.
What is the importance and the place of the Unification and of the Serbo-Bulgarian war 1885 for the developments, described in this paper. First of all the relations between the two nations, being brotherly during the centuries, were broken. Bulgarians in the Morava region understood that they should either escape in Bulgaria if they want to be Bulgarians, which many of them did, or they understood that they should be turned into Serbs. Bulgaria, which was seven years ago not known to be a nation, suddenly grew up two times bigger than Serbia. This led to a discontent in Belgrade. Seven years ago the latter seemed to be the leader of the Southern Slavs. Now it was Bulgaria. She was the country from which numerous population in Thrace and Macedonia expected its liberation. But it was not only this. Seven years ago Bosnia seemed as a territory for a future enlargement of Serbia. It laid on Serbian way to the Adriatic. Now Bosnia was in Austrian hands. Serbia had no choice: she strongly concentrated its political and strategic powers to win the battle for Macedonia. Here was her access to the sea, here was her enlargement.
The Unification showed as well that Bulgaria does not have any of the Great Powers as a constant friend: there were only Powers that had their constant interests in Bulgaria. Russian nation was beloved by the Bulgarian, but it was not the case with the politicians, most of whom had in those early years understood that moral values very often contradict with the political ones.
Serbian aspirations towards Macedonia (By the way at that time the name Macedonia was used by the diplomats having in mind Bulgarian Macedonia, and it could be read whenever one reads diplomatic correspondence. In Serbia was used the name “Old Serbia” for these territories, since the usage of the name “Macedonia” would sound as a recognition of its Bulgarian character) were not dated with 1885, but this year marked its resolute conclusion that it was impossible to think any more for enlarging on the account of Bulgaria, that the territories of the latter were no more Ottoman and disputable. They were possessed and organized by a nation with a clear vision for its national interests and national security policy.
The Unification and the Serbo-Bulgarian war improved the image
of Bulgaria before the Bulgarians in Macedonia and Thrace. Although thousands
of refugees escaped in Bulgaria after the Uprising in 1878-79, the spirit
was raised in a higher degree. The population was ready for a struggle
for its liberation and unification with Bulgaria. This struggle was ahead,
and sometimes it was waged in close coordination with the policy and strategy
makers in Sofia, sometimes depending on the situation - with a separate
policy and tactics.
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