Bulgarian Sham or Greek Foolishness

Bulgarian Sham or Greek Foolishness


By Dusan Sinadinoski

In their haste to distort the truth about the Macedonian nationality many Greeks often rely on groundless and foolish contentions. When on April 10, 2008 The New York Times told the truth about the Macedonian nationality and scolded Greece for obstructing the Macedonian accession to NATO (thus, interfering with NATO’s future expansion) the Greeks barraged the newspaper with all kinds of foolish arguments in defense of the Greek action. Many of the slanderous comments were even aimed at the USA, which shows how disloyal and anti-American some Greeks can be. One of those comments to NY Times, also published in a Greeks Online, seems to be quoting a certain L.D. Woodruff, who allegedly was an official from the US State Department, to have claimed that there was no distinct and separate Macedonian nationality. It appears that the reference to L.D. Woodruff was intended to suggest that his claim was an authentic US Government position. However, a further inquiry into this claim reveals not only that this deceptive montage is one more Greek ring added to their string of lies about Macedonian nationality, however, more importantly, this time this deceit was conspicuously brushed with Bulgarian spices.

The reference to L.D. Woodruff takes us back a century ago at the time of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, when the fate of Macedonia was being decided. At the end of World War I Macedonia once again became a hotly contested country and a source of clandestine and diplomatic machinations. Greece and Serbia were trying to retain their parts of Macedonia which they secured for themselves with the Bucharest Treaty of 1913 while Bulgaria, after loosing the Second Balkan War and World War I, was trying to figure out diplomatic ways to either regain Macedonia for itself or to wrestle her away from Serbia and Greece by supporting a creation of an autonomous Macedonian state. Meanwhile, President Woodrow Wilson was also considering whether to make Macedonia an autonomous state or how best to protect the Macedonian minorities in Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria. This diplomatic stage on which the Macedonian drama played out was, therefore, a cause for an intensive lobbying for the Macedonia pie by Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia. However, to England and France the peacemaking of Macedonia was a means to promote their own individual interests in the Balkans.

One of those lobbyists at the Paris Peace Conference was L.D. Woodruff. He also believed that Macedonia should be made an autonomous state. In his letter to E.H. Kerr, secretary to Mr. Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, dated April 9, 1919 in Paris, after first expressing doubts about the idea of a Yugoslav federation, Mr. Woodruff wrote that “the next best thing, I’m convinced, is an autonomous Macedonia. That would give the 250,000 refugees in Bulgaria a chance to return to their Macedonian homes.” It seems that Mr. Woodruff is implying that the Macedonian refugees in Bulgaria were not displaced by the war but by a political persecution. “Under their own government”, he further wrote, “the Macedonians could freely decide their future fate.” Clearly Mr. Woodruff here is in line with President Wilson’s idea of some kind of self-determination for Macedonia, including that of autonomy, because the Macedonians were not free. But if Mr. Woodruff claims that there are no Macedonians but only Serbs, Greeks, Bulgarians, Gypsies and other nationalities living in Macedonia, why would he want an autonomous Macedonian state for the Macedonians!

Perhaps one way to understand what Mr. Woodruff has in mind here is that the Bulgarians, Greeks and Serbs of Macedonia consider Macedonia as their home country rather than the countries of their brethren. In this sense, which ever state rules Macedonia, the Macedonian population, because of its mixed nature, would consider themselves as dominated by a foreign power. For example, as Mr. Woodruff further explains, “the Macedonian population cannot enjoy free expression while under Greek domination.” He then asked this question: “if the Greek imprison, as they have recently done, American missionaries in the city of Salonika, what would be the state of the Macedonia population, especially in the provinces?” Mr. Woodruff did not live long enough to witness the fulfillment of his premonitions, but Greece indeed proved Mr. Woodruff predictions accurate by implementing “pacific measures such as imprisonment murder and exile” against the Macedonian population.

But this notion of autonomous Macedonia was not the reason why L.D. Woodruff came to Paris. While he was careful not to expose his true reasons behind his claim for autonomous Macedonia, he nonetheless, gave us some clues as what his impression of autonomous Macedonian state may look like. In an autonomous Macedonia, “whether the population of Macedonia is Serbian, Greek, or mixed”, he writes, “it would than enjoy freedom from foreign yoke.” What is immediately conspicuous in this passage is the omission of the name “Bulgarian” from this grouping of oppressors of the Macedonian population. He again, in defending his cause for independent Macedonia, repeated this line of thought when he wrote that “free expression cannot be possibly given with impunity while under Serbian and Greek domination”. Thus it seems quite obvious that Mr. Woodruff came to Paris to promote the Bulgarian vision of Macedonia.

In this letter to Mr. Kerr, L.D. Woodruff came close to reveal his true reason for arguing for an autonomous Macedonia, but he was careful not to cause a furious British reaction. However, in an earlier letter to President Wilson, dated Dec. 11, 1918, Mr. Woodruff clearly revealed his true Bulgarian sympathy. He wrote President Wilson that “in fulfillment of your high purpose to apply the principle of nationality alike to conquered and conquering nations, we respectively urge that, in the settlement of boundaries in the Balkans, due and full consideration be given to the evidence of unbiased wittiness, that the world be may be spared a repetition of such a disastrous wrongs as were perpetrated against…the Bulgarian nation in 1878 and 1913. Moreover, he also pointed out to Mr. Wilson that “in the territory of our Macedonian field, existing fromSkopia andOchrida toDrama, the great bulk of the population is Bulgarian in origin.” Clearly there is no ambiguity here as to on which side of the Macedonian field L.D. Woodruff resided.

But this is not the first time for Mr. Woodruff to manipulate the truth in the Bulgarian favor. As a missionary to the American Board in the Balkans, Mr. Woodruff also stood on the Bulgarian side even when the entire world observed the atrocities committed by Bulgarian army against the Turkish soldiers following the fall of Andranople. In an article of the New York Times, published on October 25, 1913, he wrote that while he was in charge of relief efforts among the Turkish prisoners he “found them in a bad way, as during the siege we ran out of food, and the majority of the prisoners almost died of starvation. This condition, however, was in no way attributable to the Bulgarians, who did everything possible after the fall of the city to relieve conditions. I was given carte blanche by the Bulgarians to draw on the Bulgarian military supplies for anything I considered necessary for the well-being of the Turkish prisoners.” There should be no doubt that Mr. Woodruff took upon himself to defend the Bulgarians against the accusations for which the rest of the world condemned Bulgaria.

Mr. Woodruff died on June 14, 1922 in Sofia. He was a pastor at Congregational Church in Cleveland and performed missionary work in Bulgaria. While in Bulgaria he was teaching at the Samokov Schools. During the Paris Peace Conference he represented the Bulgarian government. For his outstanding service to the Bulgarian state, in 1926 Bulgaria awarded the American Missionary Schools a sizable land of 114 acres in Gorna Banya, near the foot of Mt. Vitosha and only five miles from Sofia, where the American College of Sophia was built. Thus, Sophia became an inspirational center for the growing Protestant movement in Bulgaria. Even the Metropolitan of Sofia, Archbishop Stefan, as the archival records of Samokov Missionary Schools reveal, wrote: "We welcome the idea with joy and feel that it will serve to strengthen and ennoble our national character." Indeed, an exemplary missionary work by L.D. Woodruff in
exchange for little bit of Bulgarian soul.

This is, therefore, the truth behind the Bulgarian sham. It is now quite obvious that Greeks this time got their facts about L.D. Woodruff’s connection to US State Department totally confused with the Bulgarian state. It is so sad to find out that the Greek foolishness leads them straight to the fox’s trap. However, what is so hard to figure out here is whether the Bulgarians are that shrewd or the Greeks are that foolish!

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