On-line books about Macedonia - a review


The life of Vlado Chernozemski, the assassin of the Yugoslav king Alexander in Marseilles, and details of the this joint VMRO-Ustasha action in 1934.

2. "ETHNOGRAPHY OF MACEDONIA" by Gustav Weigand.

Since 1896 Gustav Weigand held the position of a professor in Romance and Balkan languages at the University of Leipzig, his primary field of study being the eastern Romance languages - Romanian and Aromanian. Prior to commencing his field research in Macedonia Weigand studied thoroughly the existing literature and learned to speak the languages of the peoples of European Turkey: Albanian, Romanian of all types, Bulgarian with two dialects - eastern and western, Greek (dimotiki and katarevussa), Serbian, Turkish and even Spanjol (sp?). His late results were published in 1924 under the title 'Ethnography of Macedonia'.

The outlined by him ethnic boundaries in the region were based on the language spoken by the people, especially young children, and not on their religious affiliation. Thus his conclusions are closer to the Bulgarian than to the Greek estimates. He wrote:

"I followed the language spoken at home or by the playing children, and not the data provided by the adults about their nationality, as the latter were led not by the truth but by political considerations or their belonging to the Greek Patriarchy.

The Greek ethnographic maps are based on the latter. Here the linguistic boundaries are drawn according to the personal beliefs, or even according to the spread of the Greek schools. Hence the big discrepancies between the Greek and the Bulgarian maps."

However, his views differ also from the Bulgarian ones in one point - the number of the Albanians in northern Macedonia. According to him many Albanians in the Bulg. statistics are misrepresented as Turks:

"A great part of the Albanians living in Macedonia, are Muslims, whose settlement was organised by the Turkish government in order to strengthen the Muslim element.
Here I would want to stress once more that in the towns many of the so called Turks, especially in Monastir and Skopie, are in fact Albanians, as evident by the accent in the pronunciation of the Turkish words ... They speak Turkish in public, and Albanian - at home; they call themselves 'Turk' but have in mind 'Muslim', and they call the real Turks 'Turk ushak' ('odzhak Turk')... In any case the Albanian presence in northern Macedonia is underestimated."



Two articles by the linguists I. Kochev and I. Aleksandrov ('Documents about the conception of the 'Macedonian literary language') and Otto Kronsteiner ('The disintegration of Yugoslavia and the future of the Macedonian literary language (A late example of glossotomy?)'), with an extensive introduction of Ivan Kochev. Also contains several maps of the Bulgarian dialects as well as the first pages of the 'Stenographic Notes of the Conference of the Philological Commission for Establishing a Macedonian literary language, 27.XI-3.XII.1994, Skopie' (very indicative, by the way).

5. 'ESSAYS' by Mladen Syrbinovski.

Four essays by the 'most frequently mentioned, attacked, but also most read' journalist in Macedonia.

6. 'GOCE DELCHEV' by Pejo Javorov

It is the earliest Delchev's biography, written by his close friend and associate. This book appeared in 1904, only one year after Delchev's death and it is the source of many later beliefs about Goce Delchev, including the frequently cited "I conceive the world only as a place for cultural rivalry between the nations".


Regardless of the title, this book deals also with the general division of the Bulgarian dialects and culture into eastern and western parts.

Thus the dividing line between the eastern ('ja') and the western ('e') dialects runs across the Danube plain to the south, along the rivers Iskyr and Struma/Mesta, but there are also more than one hundred isogloses (on-toj, zhezhyk-goresht, etc) roughly parallel to the e-ja boundary. Even more interesting is that this division extends to the north (along the river Olt), into the Romanian ethnic territory, so that in some aspects the cultures of the eastern/western Danubian regions in Bulgaria are closer to their Romanian counterparts across the Danube, than to the opposite Bulg. region across the Iskyr.

This is probably substratum-related, and predates the coming of the Slavs, but D. Mitova shows that the division constantly reestablished itself throughout the ages even on an initially uniform base. During the Roman times it was the boundary between Romanism and Hellenism - the official language in the eastern part was Greek; in the architecture the western round tower was opposed to the eastern rectangular one; the Italian type of sarcophagus was not found in the east, etc.

In more recent times (after the XIV-th c.) it is also the western limit of the substitution of the original white Slavic dress ('belodreshkovci') with the black dress ('chernodreshkovci') from Asia Minor; also the limit between the western way of threshing with horses as opposed to the threshing with flint-stuffed threshing boards (dikanja), etc., etc.

Close to this line is also the eastern limit of the occurrence of the Slavic hydronim 'Bistrica' ('limpid, bright water'). It is completely unknown in the eastern Balkans, which remained for longer under Byzantine  rule. "The rest of the Balkan peninsula, if we judge from the distribution of that hydronym, was found by the Slavs virtually empty and that is why almost all larger rivers there were named Bistrica.

The eastern part of the Balkan peninsula was settled by the Slavs a little bit later. The Slavic tribes penetrated there were fewer and they did not impose [their] but adopted the local toponyms and hydronyms."

8. 'EPOCH, LAND AND PEOPLE' - the memoirs of Carevna Miladinova-Aleksieva,
a daughter of Dimityr Miladinov. Her life as a teacher in Shumen, Svishtov, Etropole, and later - Salonica, where she was the headmistress of the Bulgarian secondary school for girls there for nearly twenty years, up to 1913.

9. 'IN OPPRESSED MACEDONIA' - the memoirs of Pavel Shatev,

one of the 'Gemidzhii' (also known as the 'Salonica assassins') - an anarcho-terorist group, which in April, 1903 conducted a series of attacks on a bank, a ship, hotels, and other property of Western companies in Turkish-held Salonica.

Shatev joined this group while still a student at the Bulgarian secondary school in Salonica. First, in 1900, they studied the possibilities for an assassination of the sultan Abdul Hamid. After giving up they decided to attack the offices of 'Ottoman bank', a major credit institution run by Western capitals, in Constantinople and Salonica.

Their objective was to harm the interests of the Western powers operating in European Turkey, to attract the attention to the situation in Macedonia and to provoke Western intervention.

Stores in Constantinople and in Salonica next to the banks were rented and the group started digging tunnels under the streets in order to lay explosives in the foundations. Shatev worked in Constantinople where the tunnel was successfully completed, but the lack of explosives (some 100 kg dynamite provided by the Armenian revolutionaries were intercepted by the Turks) prevented the destruction of the bank.

Later two of the leading members of the 'Gemidzhii', together with the rest of one Bulgaro-Armenian band, were killed near Adrianople. The Gemidzhii were ready for action again in 1903, but the seizure in Dedeagach of 1000 kg dynamite, arranged by Boris Sarafov, forced the group to abandon planned attacks in Adrianople, Veles, etc., and to restrict its activity to Salonica alone. All this to the great annoyance of the Central Committee of VMORO, with headquarters in the same city.

At the end of April 1903 the Gemodzhii blew the Ottoman bank office in Salonica, one French ship (done by Shatev himself), the gas-and water supply in the city, and several other minor targets.

The Turks mistook it to be the beginning of a general uprising in Macedonia and conducted mass arrests of Bulgarians all over Macedonia. In fact, the Gemidzhii's action was not coordinated with the Central Committee of VMORO, and the arrest of hundreds of its members disturbed the preparations for the Ilinden uprising.

Shatev was subsequently exiled to Tripolitania and Asia Minor.


All Balkan countries have passed in one or another way through the stage of autonomy. The idea for autonomy as the aim and the slogan of the national liberation struggle is well known to the Balkans even before its embracement by the Bulgarian revolutionary movement in Macedonia and Adrianople district in 1885. What was the meaning which IMARO/IMRO (Internal Macedono-Adrianople Revolutionary Organisation) implied in the idea of autonomy and did it exceed the provisions for one autonomous Macedonia, imposed on Turkey in articles 23 and 64 of the Berlin Treaty, 1878? Why all Bulgarian political factors supported consistently, for decades the cause of an autonomous Macedonia, which was never implemented in practice by Turkey?

11. 'A. SELISHTEV - SLAVIST-BALKANIST', by S. Bernstein, Moscow, 1987

A Russian point of view on Macedonia, describing the life of the Russian/Soviet linguist Afanasij Selishtev, his important contributions to the dialectology of Macedonia and to the Balkan studies. Includes presentation of Selishtev main works - 'Ocherki po makedonskoj dialektologii', 'Polog i ego bolgarskoe naselenie', 'Slavjanskoe naselenie v Albanii', 'Makedonskie kodiki XVI-XVIII vekov', etc.

12. QUO VADIS, BULGARIA?, by Ivan Minajlov, Indianapolis, 1937; II-nd ed., Peshtera, 1996.

Examines the powers behind and the course of the 1934 coup d'etat in Sofia, which led to the ban on IMRO and the legal Macedonian organisations in Bulgaria.

 The introduction to second edition of this booklet remarks that "the 1934 coup d'etat, declared to be 'monarcho-fascist' by the Communist historiography, brought Communists to the leading positions in Pirin Macedonia". The vivid account of the 1934-35 events, written in 1937 by the last leader of IMRO Ivan Mihajlov is really prophetical as similar events happened on a larger scale after the 1944 communist coup d'etat which, not surprisingly, was lead by the same group of people (e.g. Kimon Georgiev was the prime-minister after both 1934 and 1944 coups).

13. "MAKEDONIJA - PROBLEMY ISTORII I KUL'TURY" (Macedonia - aspects of the history and the culture), Moscow, 1999

In this first of its kind collection of papers by Russian scholars (Institute for Slavic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences) they are at last able to state freely and openly their position regarding the medieval and modern history of Macedonia. Their studies utilise documents from the Soviet archives just recently made available, especially regarding the period around the WWII, and include:

 - The Macedonian question in the politics and in the science (V. Volkov)
 - National symbols, ethno-historical myths and ethno-politics (V. Schnirelman)
 - The past and the present of Macedonia in the light of the modern problems (an interview with the Academician G. Litavrin, the head of the Institute for Slavic Studies)
 - Reflections over the Macedonian "cross-section" of the palaeo-Bulgaristics (I. Kaliganov)
 - The conquest of Bulgaria by Byzantium (end of X - beg. of XI c.) in the Russian Chronograph (L. Gorina)
 - The Gordian knot of the Balkans (V. Kosik)
 - Rajko Zhinzifov in Russia (M. Smol'janinova)
 - The Russian press about the ways for solution in the Macedonian  question in the eve of the Balkan wars (1908-1912) (V. Burbyga)
 - The development of the view on the Macedonian question in Bolshevik Moscow 1922-1924 (according to the documents of the Russian archives) (R. Grishina)
 - The problem of Macedonia and the question of a Balkan federation in the relations between Moscow and Communist Yugoslavia and Bulgaria in 1941-1945 (L. Gibianskij)
 - The Macedonian problem in the context of the international relations in the Balkans (1943-1949) (A. Anikeev)
 - Towards the fiftieth anniversary of the appearance of the first scholarly paper about the literary Macedonian language (R. Usikova)

The text is in Russian.

14. "RESIDENCE IN BULGARIA" by St. Clair and Brophy, London, 1869

The authors, two Englishmen speaking Bulgarian and Turkish, had spent several years in north-eastern Bulgaria, at that time still part of the Ottoman Empire. The whole title is "A Residence in Bulgaria, Or Notes on the Resources and Administration of Turkey: the Condition and Character, Manners, Customs, and Language of the Christian and Mussulman Populations, with Preference to the Eastern Question."

Their account seems quite biased (to say the least!) against the Bulgarians, or the "Rayah" in general, but still it makes a good and interesting reading. The titles of its 26 chapters listed below give a fair idea of the scope covered in the book.

One of the authors - St. Clair, a Captain of the British Army, is better known in Bulgaria for his later actions, when he embraced Islam and entered the ranks of the Ottoman army to fight the Russians and Bulgarians in the Rhodope mountains, leading a Pomak army, as far as I can remeber. Many Bulgarians have probably heard of him in the 80's serial "Kapitan Petko
Vojvoda"... So, again, beware of this bias in his intepretations, and also - I would be glad if somebody could give more detailed information/internet links about him.


It is the first study in post-war Bulgaria of this question, after the numerous Skopjean publications. Seven short chapters include:

1. Professional courses and secondary education
2. Higher education
3. Evening courses. Cultural associations
4. Theatre and the other cultural institutions
5. Radio Skopie
6. Educational staff in Vardar Macedonia
7. Ideological dimensions

A short excerpt from Chapter 4:

"The Bulgarian authorities encountered with a strange problem in 1941. The previous Serbian rulers spent a lot of money in order to wipe out the local cultural practices. The Serbian kafana culture was installed as an alternative to the closed Bulgarian cultural institutions. "Instead of opening of community centres, schools and culture associations, there existed entertainment's clubs where the wine and cabaret-singers drowned down every decent ambition...

For example in Kriva Palanka - a small town with 1800 inhabitants - the new authorities banished 36 cabaret-singers and filles de joie.

About three thousand persons were expelled from Skopie alone." :-))

16. 'The memoirs of Hristo Makedonski (1852-1877)'

17. 'The memoirs of one Macedonian villain' - Albert Sonichsen

18. Grigor Pyrlichev - Autobiography, Poems.

19. 'Fighting the Turk in the Balkans: an American's adventures with
       the Macedonian revolutionists ...'  by Arthur  Smith
                                         (G. P. Putnam's Sons: New York & London, 1908.).
       - translated in Bulgarian in 1983.

20. Memoirs - by Arseni Kostencev

21. Memoirs - by Toma Nikolov

22. The Skopjean icon Blazhe Koneski - a Macedonian linguist or a Serbian political functionary? - by Dragi Dragnev

The materials are in Bulgarian. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

Vassil Karloukovski

 [ Index ]