Vardar Macedonia in WWII
Subject Vardar Macedonia in WWII
Posted by Karloukovski
Posted on 8/8/99 5:33 PM
From Host/IP
Summing up my impression from some threads here, I was surprised by the attitude and the fiction many of the people here entertain. About some "mighty resistance offered to the Bulgarian "occupiers", about some "partisans kicking the Bulgarian army out of Macedonia"!?

Nobody here appeared concerned by the fact that 16,000 Bulgarian soldiers died in Macedonia in the autumn of 1944 fighting the Germans, that on Stracin and Strazhin alone 5,000 soldiers died then; that it was the Bulgarian army which expelled the Germans from Kumanovo, Skopje and many other areas in and outside Vardar Macedonia (including Nish, Pristina, Mitrovica, etc.). Meanwhile the "partisans" were mainly watching from the woods and waiting until the regular army clear the area of the Germans or until the Germans leave on their own, and only then did they dare to enter the towns.

The attempts to equalise the scale and the strength (relative to the population) of resistance movements in Serbia and in Macedonia are ridiculous! Macedonia lagged and lagged light years behind Serbia, in the same way as Bulgaria did. Serbia was destroyed as a state by the Germans first and after that the resistance became a _national_ enterprise, while the much more restricted partisan movement in Macedonia/Bulgaria run under the banner of one party - it was sponsored and controlled by the Communists alone fighting against the local government.

Because of that the general figure of 22,000 casualties given here is completely unrealistic if it is taken to represent the killed "Macedonian partisans" alone. There were simply not enough partisans for the accumulation of their eventual casualties to account for the above number. Until mid-1943 - 1944, when it became obvious that Germany was clearly losing the war their numbers were meagre!

That is why in August 1943 Tempo was complaining to Tito that "...when I arrived in Macedonia the [Communist] party structures were in shambles. ... In 1942 there were six detachments consisting of 10-15 partisans, and all of them were destroyed expect the Bitola detachment which crossed into the Albanian[-occupied] territory and thus was able to save itself."

- and Tito was encouraging him: "I received a message from Kosovo... They report that in the partisan detachments they have 3,000 fighters available. That is why I sent you to Macedonia! With 3,000 partisans you can make wonders!..."

 ...To believe to be able to make WONDERS in Macedonia with 3,000 Kossovars! What does this tell you about the local situation and about the so called Mac-partisans? About their morale and their appeal among the local population?

This is only one of the myths I was stunned to hear here. And as one is not able (nor is this a business of his!) to explain and uncover all these false beliefs, information gaps, etc., I spent some time to put on the web the corresponding chapters of one recent book concerning the 20-th century history of Macedonia written by the Prilep-born (in 1903) Kosta Cyrnishanov, a close friend and associate of Dimityr Chkatrov, Jordan Chkatrov, Dimityr Gjuzelov, etc. The topics include the difficult years after the Ilinden uprising; the legal activities under the Hurriet; the Tikveshko and Ohridsko uprisings during the Balkan wars; the Macedono-Odrin militia in the Balkan wars and the WWI; the new secret organisations in Serbian Macedonia after the WWI and the Student trial in 1927; the Bulgarian Action Committees and the meeting of the Bulgarian troops in April 1941; the situation in Macedonia during the war itself and the work of Shatorov and others; the fate of Kocho Racin; the salvation of 25 Bulgarian P.O.W.'s in Ohrid in October 1944; the murders and the trials against Chaktrov, Kitinchev, Kocarev, etc. when the Communists took the power; the sinister work of Svetlozar Vukmanovich-Tempo and Mihajlo Apostolovski. There are also around 20 pictures included from another book of Cyrnushanov devoted to Makedonskata Mladezhka Tajna Revoljucionna Organizacija alone. Hopefully, some things will become clearer after reading parts of it. The URL is

 Vassil Karloukovski


Subject Re: Vardar Macedonia in WWII
Posted by Stef
Posted on 8/10/99 08:08 AM
From Host/IP

Otnovo se sipjat gluposti i mitologii, koeto pokazva kolko sa vi promiti mozycite, da ostavim nastrana nostalgijata vi po komunistite i nehnite epigoni, kojato mozhe da se vidi i ot malkite deca.

Kartinata, kojato Vasil predstavja e vjarna, no ne e pylna. Istina e, che bylgarskite vojski, kogato vlizat v Makedonija i Novi Pazar, sa posreshtnati mirno i druzheljubno ot mestnoto naselenie. Istina e , che "Makdenoskite partizani" otkazvat da se bijat reshtu Bylgarskata vojska i ne sledvat zapovedite na Tito. Istina e , che 35% ot dejstvashtata armija sa mestni hora, kakto i administracijata -- kmetove i prochee, sa mestni hora. Ot druga strana, povedenieto na bylgaskata administracija v Makedonija ne biva da se idealizira. Istina e, che bylgarskata armija na mnogo mesta maroderstva i ograbva civilnoto naselenie. Vsichki onezi, koito sa protivnici na rezhima v Sofija sa presledvani, zatvarjani. Albancite, syrbite, kakto i onezi, koito otkazvat da se priznajat za Bylgari, sa ili izgoneni, ili represirani. Dopylnitelno v Bylgarskata vojska sa inkorporirani i Mihajlovistite, koito poluchavat vyzmozhnost za samorazprava sys stari oponenti i protivnici: tova pravi goljamata cifra 22, 000, v kojato vlizat vsichki represirani ot rezhima --i syrbi, i albanci, i makedonci, koito se chuvstvat bylgari i takiva, koito ne se chuvstvat takiva. No vsichko tova ne e na etnicheska osnova, kakto paralelyt s onova, koeto stava v samata stara teritorija na Bylgaria, shte pokazhe. I tam parttizanite sa goneni i izbivani, a tehnite rodnini internirani i izmychvani. I tam vsichki protivnici na rezhima sa zatvarjani i represirani. Maroderstvata na bylgarskata armija v Makedonija, Stara Syrbija i Egejska Trakija sa plod na korupcija, poznata za vsichki balkanski strani i ima socialna, a ne etnicheska osnova. Ima mnozhestvo zapazeni instrukcii na centralnata vlast za meko otnoshenie kym naselenieto na okupiranite teritorii --mnogo chesto te sa prenebregvani i ne sa spazvani.

Tuk trjabva da se posochi syshto, che i Bylgarskite (ot starata terotorija) partizani dejstvat zaedno s partizanite na Tito, koeto ide da pokazhe, che partizanskoto dvizhenie ima socialna, a ne nacionalna osnova. Pirinskite partizani ne se vkljuchvat obache kym chastite na Titovata armija, a kym NOVA (bylgasrkata partizanska armija). Syshto taka partizanite ot Makedonija ostavat izvyn obsega na Tito do esenta na 1943 g. Eto zashto Tito dejstva v Makedonija chrez kosovski arhnauti, a ne chrez mestni hora. Tezi hora syshto maroderstvat i iznudvat i izbivat Makedonci pod preteksta, che bili "bylgarski fashistki kolaboratori".

Cjalata rabota e socialna i balkanska i njama nishto obshto s idealiziranata kartina deto makedoncite sedeli i placheli za Titovite partizani. To ako beshe taka njamashe da ima Idrizovo. Otnovo povtarjam -- dejstvijata na Bylgarskata vojska v Makedonija ne sa razlichni ot dejstvijata na zhandarmerijata v "syshtinska Bylgarija". Samo deto Titovite komunisti razmahvat nacionalnata "makedonska" i "yugoslavjanskata karta". Absoljutno po syshtija nachin dejstvat Stalinistkite provodnici v Bylgarija, kato pochvat da govorjat za "Dobrudhanska, Trakijska, Mizijska i Shopska nacii".



 Subject Re: Vardar Macedonia in WWII
 Posted by Karloukovski
 Posted on 8/10/99 11:07 AM
 From Host/IP
 I agree, Stephan. There were atrocities and crimes commited by the Bulgarian army and gendarmery both in Bulgaria and Macedonia, and I hope this question could be studied in greater details now, in cooperation by the historians in both countries. We all need a more comprehensive and unbiased picture of these years.

 I repost an excerpt of what I wrote in an e-mail correspondance of mine, it could be of some interest to the forum.

 *** > I am a little bit sceptical man....there were hardly any partizans at all...

 well, there were some, but if you see that Mihajlo Apostolovski, a partisan leader of theirs (although during the WWII he first went to the Bulgarian army and begged them to accept him into the Bulg. General Staff... [ But they refused, they didn't trust him because he was a major or colonel from the pre-war YugoSerboslav General Staff!!! As such he was captured by the Germans, who released him after he said he is Bulgarian...] Disappointed, Mihajlo became a partisan, a SUPER-SUPER partisan... All this is explained on that page) Anyway, Apostolovski acknowledged that in the first years (before 1944) most of his fellow-partisans were shipatrs, cincars, serbians, etc.

>yet ALL these Vardarci had a
> grand father involved....40% of the Bulgarian army was formed from local recruits,
>yet none of these vardarci seem to have any relatives involved....glory be, what a
> miracle!

 I understand that psychology of theirs quite well, because the same happened in Bulgaria. I was taught as a kid about the mighty "200,000" Bulgarian partisans fighting the "fascism"... Later, it turned out they were ~20,000 people... and most of them "became" partisans only in September 1944, several days before the coming of the Soviets...

 That is - they had a picnic in the woods and returned back to the towns as "heroes"!!

 And the "200,000" figure was in fact roughly the total number of partisans + their supporters, helpers among the population, relatives, etc... That is, they represented less than 5% of the total population... I imagine they wouldn't be able to win a seat in a free and democratic elections...

 Of course, there were atrocities, partisans beheaded, even children killed by the police in northern Bulgaria, so I accept the situation in Macedonia wasn't too different and probably even worse in 1943-44. But in 1941, 1942? No way... At that time the partisans were sooooo miserable that it was even comical - I was told by a Bulgarian historian how during the first years they were very, very badly equipped, without arms, munitions, anything. They started to attack the military police, the gendarmes who were opposing them at that time.

 The gendarmes usually walked in pairs between the villages, in the forests. The partisans attacked, overpowering, outnumbering them and were taking their rifles and the ammunition. Do you know what was the response of the "fascist" authorities? - They ordered for each gendarme to carry no more than FIVE BULLETS (hahaha) so that the partisans wouldn't be able to get too much from them. This really shows how "concerned" were the authorities by the partisan threat... The stationed locally German troops never ever bothered to fight any partisans, and even the regular army was first used against them only in 1943... with disastrous for the partisans results (in the Western Rodopi mountains).

 So much with the "mighty resistance". Simply, vardarci need some time to understand, to read about the real picture.


Subject Re: Vardar Macedonia in WWII
Posted by Karloukovski
Posted on 8/10/99 08:15 AM
From Host/IP

 >...Fortenately, those partisans(that U underestimate so much), were here,
>and beat the crap out of you, and when you was loosing the battle, you
>switched the side and tried to show yourselves as saviours.

Wrong!! If you don't belive me and the Bulgarian sources, than you could consult the western studies:

"...The German retreat from Greece, using the main railway lines through Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia, began in early September [1944]. On 8 September Soviet troops entered Bulgaria, and on the following day the Bulgarian 'Fatherland Front' took over the government there, declaring that Bulgaria was now a Soviet ally and at war with Germany. The Germans took quick action to disarm or expel the Bulgarians from Macedonia and Eastern Kosovo. But by early October Soviet and Bulgarian forces were breaking through into eastern Serbia: Nish fell to them on 14 October, and a Bulgarian column moved south- west from there towards Kosovo. Since the main railway route to Belgrade was now cut, most of the German forces had to retreat through Kosovo, either taking the roads over the mountains of northern Albania and Montenegro, or using the old trade route through Novi Pazar to Bosnia. Two defensive groups were formed to cover this retreat: one, under General Mueller, in central Serbia, and the other, under Major-General Scholz, in eastern Kosovo and northern Macedonia.(55)

By 23 October the Bulgarians had reached the vicinity of Podujevo, in the north-eastern corner of Kosovo; another Bulgarian force was also closing on Kumanovo, a strategically important town just to the north-east of Skopje. For a crucial period of a fortnight, however, this front remained more or less static. This was thanks to two factors: the disruption of the Bulgarian army by the sudden removal (at Russian insistence) of its old officer corps, and the dogged resistance of the Scholz Group, which was assisted by up to 5,000 Albanians in the Prishtina-Mitrovica area (of whom some belonged to the security force recruited in Albania by Xhafer Deva, and 700 were members of the Skanderbeg division) as well as some local Chetnik formations. The Germans formed a plan for the orderly evacuation of their forces, which they were able to carry out on schedule, abandoning Skopje on 11 November, destroying installations at the Trepcha mine on the 12th and leaving Prishtina on the 19th, from where they retreated north-westwards into Bosnia.(56)

Accounts of these events published in post-war Yugoslavia give the impression that the Germans were driven out by the Partisans, who 'liberated' the cities of Kosovo by force. There was some fighting by a combined force of Yugoslav and Albanian Partisans in Western Kosovo, mainly against the remnants of the Skanderbeg division; but these actions were quite insignificant compared with the Soviet-Bulgarian advance. The war diary of the commander of the German Army Group 'E', with its detailed day-by-day record of military actions in Kosovo, contains hardly any references to Partisan actions at all. The general pattern was that the towns in Western Kosovo were 'liberated', i.e. taken over by Partisan forces, only after the Germans and their auxiliaries had left; in Eastern Kosovo it was the Soviet and Bulgarian forces (with some Yugoslav Partisans attached to them) who took over, also after the Germans had got out. Altogether the Germans succeeded in evacuating 350,000 men and 10,000 vehicles from Greece and Albania, the majority of them through the territory of Kosovo.(57)

/Noel Malcolm, "Kosovo - A Short History" (2nd revized edition), 1999, p. 310-313./

[55] Schmidt-Richberg, "Der Endkampf", pp. 35-48; NA T-3 11, reel 183, frame 99.
[56] Schmidt-Richberg, "Der Endkampf", pp.49-65; NA 1-311, reel 183, frames 105-228.
[57] Hadri, "Levizja", pp.403-414; NA T-3 11, reel 183 (for a rare reference to the Partisans see frame 191, 10 Nov., which merely states that the Prizren- Gjakova road was 'threatened' ('bedroht') by the First Kosovo Brigade); Schmidt-Richberg, "Der Endkamp", p. 74 (totals).


Subject Re: Vardar Macedonia in WWII
Posted by Stef
Posted on 8/15/99 09:28 AM
From Host/IP

 As I wrote to Iaci: the Macedonism is a Serbian conception -- see the writings of Novakovich from the last century, if you do not believe me. 99% is too much.There were Vlachs (aka Cincars,) Sarakatsans, Greeks, small portion of Greeks and Grecised Slavs in Macedonia. The Carnegie census gives the numbers, proportions, etc.

The whole game with "Macedonian" started being used first by the Serbs who claimed the country but since they could not prove the Serbian character of the region, the solution was "Macedonian" autonomous region within the Ottoman empire that was to be Serbised via the gradual replacement of the Bulgarian ecclesiastic and cultural institutions with Serbian substitutes. This is very well illustrated with the so called Firmilian problem (1901 - 1902), when the Serbs managed to get a Serbian bishop of Skopje with the backing of the Russians.

The Bulgarians also exolited this "Macedonian " thing especially under Stambolov and Stoilov when the course was to set an autonomy where the Exarchy would maintain the Bulgarian character. Unlike the Serbian case, the Bulgarian church established itself by the conscent and the will of the population (note the eclessiastical census from the 1870's). Of course, Bulgaria claimed openly the region on ethnic grounds but was prevented from active policy, so the autonomy of Macedonia was a solution. There is a very big difference between the Serbian and Bulgarian perception of "Macedonian" from that time. While the Serbs implied an ethnic term, in order to separate "macedonian" from "Bulgarian".

For it was only under Stephan Dushan when macedonia was Serbian, the Serbian "scholars" elaborated the theory that Macedonians were west-Balkan Slavs and that thir language was closer to Serbian, but got "Bulgarised" with the time. Must be noted that even the keenest champions of the idea that medieval language spoken in Macedonia was different from Bulgarian (the Slavic Bulgarian, not the Bulgar language of the proto - Bulgars, obviously) , still accept that the two languages belong to the same eastern Balkan Slavic group while Serbian and Croatian belong to the western group. In 1913 Bulgarian was banned inj Macedonia, as well as those who professed Bulgarian identity were severely procecuted. Hence the local population put forward Macedonian as identification vs. Serbian and the language of cultural institutions was claimed to be Macedonian in order to be maintained under Serbian authority. Within the time, especially in the late 1920's and the 1930's the Serbs got the trick, so they emphacised the notion of Macedonian as being different from Bulgarian in education, media, church, everyday life. I think you know how crucial are these institutions for the thinking, especially of the new generation. (if you do not know, compare the fate of the Slavic population in Greece).

The "Macedonian" which was originally used to separate Serbian from the local Bulgarian dialet, was gradually Serbicised -- a process that had its logical conclusion with the decisions from November 1944 and the work of Konevski. During the WWII, Bulgarians occupied the region and while accepting the term Macedonian in its regional meaning firmy opposed the ethnic connotations which were origianlly a Serbian creation. Not a single person was persecuted on the basis for being Macedonian within these terms, and your claim that your parents were persecuted because they said they were Macedonians alone is rather misleading. Your relatives must have been serbomans in a sense, for they maintained the Serbian position. Still, however, it is very well docummented that the great part of the population indeed accepted gladly the Bulgarian troops, joined the local army and administration.

There are, however, two things to be taken into account: the first, is that Bulgaria was never allowed by Germany to make this territory part of the country (for various reasons) and to give Bulgarian citisenship to the population (hence the Bulgarians were unable to save the local Jews as they did with the Jews who were Bulgarian citizens). Second, the discipline and some of the actions of the Bulgarian army (whithin which 35% were local people, nevertheless), is not something that fills me with pride. These two factors as well as the short term of the occupation compared to the two generations serbian presence as well as the inability to maintain the Bulgarian identity explain the situation. It is anthropologically proven that isolated communieties maintain their identity for two to four generations. The "Macedonisation" of Macedonia sarted already in 1902 and was inforced fully in 1913 - these are two and half generations to 1941. Then another three have passed. The result is fairly visible now.


Subject Re: Vardar Macedonia in WWII
Posted by Vic Nicholas
Posted on 8/15/99 11:53 AM
From Host/IP
 Dragi bratko Stefo, You make many interesting and intelligent observations regarding the formation and development of the distinctly Macedonian identity in Vardar Macedonia.

However, I was wondering if you could share with me your hypothesis as to how a distinct Macedonian identity developed in Aegean Macedonia during the same period....given the fact that we were not exposed to Serbian propaganda.

You know what my personal views I feel Macedonian, but I have enormous respect for Bulgarian history and the Bulgarophile nature of many of our greatest heros....

I look forward to your response,

regards, Vic Nicholas

Subject Re: Vardar Macedonia in WWII
Posted by Vic Nicholas
Posted on 8/16/99 09:08 AM
From Host/IP
 Dragi bratko Pero,

Of the 50,000 to 70,000 refugees from Aegean Macedonia at that time, better than 90% chose to repatriate to Vardar Macedonia rather Bulgaria....WHY?

Why was it that these people from far flung places of exile....from Tashkent/USSR, Beloyianni/Hungary, Brno and Prague/Czechoslovakia, Tulgesh/Romania, Bulkesh/Vojvodina, Warsaw/Poland....WHY did they go live in Skopje?

Why do they continue to dominate the political landscape in RoM?

It occurred to me not long ago that the prime movers in both RoM and RoB are Aegean Macedonians....

The Aegean Macedonians who fled to Bulgaria in the 1900 to 1930's era are the proponents of not conceding an inch to RoM....

The Aegean Macedonians that fled to RoM in the 1940's and 50's are the major proponents of no surrender to Greece and Bulgaria!

The more I know - the less I understand....

Regards, Vic Nicholas

Subject Re: Vardar Macedonia in WWII
Posted by Stef
Posted on 8/16/99 3:19 PM
From Host/IP
 Re: Tracians and Egeian Macedonians. Vlado is correct when saying that the notion of Macedonia is older than Novakovich. The concept of Macedonians as Serbians but still calling them Macedonians can be found also in Nachertanie of I. Garashanin. Novakovich is the person who gives the full concept. I disagree that "macedonian" was banned in pre-war Yugoslavia. It was banned in the Serbian-Croatian-Slovenian Kingdom, however. With the reaorganisation of the kingdom, Macedonian "dialect" was allowed for local use (not official, however). As for the refugees why not to Bulgaria there is one simple reason. Bulgaria refused to accept these refuges -- another proof for the character of the most celebrated Communist regime in Bulgaria. The same happened with the "Thracian Bulgarians different from the Macedonians"" -- only few of them were admitted in the country.

 Re: understandind Serbian better than Bulgarian. Serbian (then Serbo-Croat) was the official language of Yugoslavia, language that penetrates the brain trough media, education, official use, etc. I can give you an example with Bulgarian and Russian -- even those who did not study properly Russian in Bulgaria, understand Russian rather well. On the other hand, Russians can't understand Bulgarian.

Macedonian (present) and Bulgarian are the two east Balkan Slavic languages - no scholar objects this fact. Serbian and Croatian are west Balkan Slavic languages. It is true that Konevski & Co did their best to correct this but still this is the fact. Then it must be noted another thing (this is for Vic Nicholas). The communists in Bulgaria passed a language reform and espablished the literary norm on the eastern dialects in 1946, broadening the difference. The purpose was obvious - to establish a closer link with Russian (although the two languages are completely different) and to justify Stalin's thyeory of linguistics (assuming Macedonian language). See, I have a friend from Bitola (now she is in Skopje) when I was talking to her in Bulgarian she was laughing: "Stef, you speak like my grandmother ... ".

Re: the Macedonian Identity in Greece. The Greek policy toward Macedonians admitted them to consider themselves macedonians if they do not speak the Slavic language. This is because of the Greek Claim that ancient macedonians were greeks. So, the Greek thesis was: yes, you are ancient macedonians, who forgot your native Greek origin. Obviously, Bulgarian identity was banned in Greece as well as in Yugoslavia. This explains the "paradox" mantioned by Vic: that the aegeans in Bulgaria have strong notion against any concessions to RoMacedonia while their cousins in RoM advocate Bulgariphilia.