Seal of the Macedonian uprising

Seal of the chief of the headqouter of the Macedonian (Kresna) uprising

Печат на началникот на штабот на Македонското (Кресненско) востание

Gordon Family

The Gordons are an ancient and distinguished family, originally from Normandy, where their ancestors are said to have had large possessions. From the great antiquity of the race, many fabulous accounts have been given of the descent of the Gordons. Some derive them from a city of Macedonia, called Gordonia, whence they went to Gaul; others find their origin in Spain, Flanders, &C. Some writers suppose Bertrand de Gourden who, in 1199, wounded Richard the Lion-heart mortally with an arrow before the castle of Chalus in the Limoges, to have been the great ancestor of the Gordons, but there does not seem to be any other foundation for such a conjecture than that there was a manor in Normandy called Gourden. It is probable that the first persons of the name in this island came over with William the Conqueror in 1066. According to Chalmers, the founder of this great family came from England in the reign of David the First (1124-53), and obtained from that prince the lands of Gordon (anciently Gordun, or Gordyn, from, as Chalmers supposes, the Gaelic Gordin, "on the hill"). He left two sons, Richard, and Adam, who, though the younger son, had a portion of the territory of Gordon, with the lands of Fanys on the southern side of it...

Source Gordon

Крушево абер пристигна


Крушево абер пристигна:
Kој има синој големи,
комити да ги испрати
во тоа славно Смилево. х2

Стојан си немал синои, х2
само си ја имал Тодорка.
Тодорка една на мајка, х2
Тодорка една на татко.

Тодорка на татко велеше:
Kупи ми пушка берданка
и една сабја пренгија.
Јас комита татко ќе одам, х2
во тоа славно Смилево.

А што беше лична Тодорка,
нарами пушка на рамо.
Запаша сабја пренгија,
три години комита шетала.
Никој Тодорка не познал,
дека е Тодорка девојка.

АКУД Мирче Ацев и Јована Т.

Васка Илиева

Марјан Стојановски и Зоран Џорлев

Струшки Бисери

What Went Wrong 3

Macedonia: What Went Wrong in the Last 200 Years - Part III - Before 1903

Macedonia: What Went Wrong in the Last 200 Years

Part III - Before 1903

by Risto Stefov

August, 2002

In the previous article (part II) I covered events leading up to but not including the 1903 Ilinden Macedonian Uprising. Events covered included the 1878 Berlin congress and its effects on the Macedonian people.

In this article (part III) I will start where I left off in part II and cover events from about 1880 to about 1903 with a special focus on Macedonian affairs and events that led to the 1903 uprising.

The 1878 Treaty of Berlin set events in motion in the Balkans for the next forty years. The re-appearance of Ottoman soldiers, the worsening economy and the reign of terror imposed by the Greek clergy was crushing the spirits of the Macedonian people. In the meantime the economic situation of the Super Powers and the new Balkan States was improving daily. In 1881, the Muhareem Decree gave Europeans complete control of Ottoman finances and trade markets. During the same year the Constantinople Conference of Great Powers agreed to the Greek annexation of Thessally and Epirus. Later that same year Austria-Hungary agreed to allow Serbia to annex parts of Macedonia in some future time. Four years later, Bulgaria with some Russian help annexed Eastern Rumelia. While the Western Powers were contemplating the "Eastern Question" and collecting returns from Turkish loans, the new Balkan states were plotting Macedonia's demise. Here is what each of them had to say;

"Bulgaria's whole future depends on Macedonia, without her our State will be without importance or authority. Solun (Salonika) must be the main port of this State, the grand window to illuminate the entire building. If Macedonia does not belong to us, Bulgaria will never be firmly based".

"Macedonia is the lung of Greece, without it the rest of Greece would be condemned to death. For Greece to become a greater power she must expand into Macedonia."

"We (Serbia) are ready to enter into any combination if necessary in order to prevent the Macedonian Question being settled in any way that harms our vital interests, without which Serbia cannot survive".

In addition to being handed back to the Turks, the 1878 Treaty of Berlin now subjected Macedonia to three new tyrants. In time, Macedonia would be subjected to all kinds of evil but the most cunning would turn out to be Bulgarian chauvinism. The Macedonian people knew very well where they stood with the Greeks. Greek policies were straightforward, Hellenize everyone by any means possible, force and brutality included. The Bulgarian approach was very different. The Bulgarians were interested in educating the Macedonian masses into believing that they were Bulgarians. Anyone who showed any opposition didn't live to tell about it. And so became the legacy of so many educated Macedonian young men.

In part II of this article I explained, with ample evidence, that Greece was a "Western creation" to achieve two objectives. One, to keep Russia out of the Mediterranean Sea and two, to break up the Ottoman occupied Slav lands into small, nationally divergent, easily manageable and loyal States (a solution to the "Eastern Question"). Created by the Western Powers, the new Balkan States would be loyal to their creator, British politicians were counting on it. The Western powers introduced "nationalism" in the Balkans as a way of replacing the Ottoman Empire, not with a single state but with many "divergent" and manageable sized States. Nationalism however, was not a way with which Balkan people identified before the 19th century. For over 2,300 years the region was without borders and without a sense of national identity. For over 1,800 years, the people in the region lived with "religion as the only unifying force" which brought them together and allowed them to live in peace. Freedom of movement allowed the diverse people to travel anywhere within the empire to settle and mix with other people. So, how does one create "national consciousness" where one does not exist? Ignoring the fact that the Ottoman Empire of the 19th century was a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural pluralistic society, the Western Powers initiated the nation building process anyway. To them, it didn't matter what kind of "nations" they were building provided that the new nations were a "non-Slav" singular society that agreed to keep Russia out of the Mediterranean. While the Western Powers were trying to break up the Balkans into small and divergent states, Russia was promoting "Panslavism" to unite all the Slavs under Russian leadership.

The national awakening of Serbia was an accident that couldn't be helped but Greece was created by design. Greece was the opposite of Serbia and a solution for keeping the balance of power in the Balkans. While Serbia was destined to become a Slav State, Greece would be destined to become the "opposite". The name "Greece" was chosen to denote a "Latin" lineage, to represent the Latin "Romaos" (Roman) character of the people. The name "Hellas" was later chosen by Hellenized Phanariots to denote a lineage from the old City States of antiquity. Both of these names were foreign to the 19th century Balkans, but ideal to reflect the character of the new State. The pre-19th century Phanariots has no notion of nationalism or knowledge of the Ancient City States. Their aim was to drive the Turks out of the Empire and keep the Empire intact so that they could rule it themselves. But this was not what the Western Powers wanted. The process of Hellenization began by educating some Phanariots about the existence of the old City States and their exploits. Phanariots that studied abroad, London in particular, were seduced by the eloquently written, romantic stories about a people that lived at the bottom of the Balkans a long time ago. Phanariots were especially thrilled when they were received by Westerners as the descendents of those Ancient people. Not all Phanariots were Hellenized or convinced to take the Hellenic road, some still wanted to re-create the Byzantine Empire ("Megali Idea") but the West gave them no such choice. It was one thing to "create a nation" and another to "give it life and a past". The idea of modeling the new Greece after the old City States was well received but lacked continuity. No one could explain how the Greeks progressed from the old City States to the present, pre-19th century history has no record of it. There was no Greek culture and no Greek language that would tie the Modern Greek to the old City State citizen. With some creative imagination and a lot of convincing, the problem was solved. Ancient history was "re-engineered" to fit the modern Greek model. Yes, read your (fake) classical history and learn how the Mighty Macedonian Empire was "Hellenized", not by a powerful race, not by super intelligent beings, but by "the vanquished and subjugated" people of the old City-States. Alexander the Great, the most hated man of the old City-States, the King who wiped out and brutally crushed the spirits of the old City-State citizens, is now the "Great King of the Greeks" whom they revere and hold in such high honor. What hypocrisy!!! Perhaps some day, the English people will crown "Sitting Bull" as their King and rally around him (no offence to the native people of North America).

Altering classical history to say that the Ancient Macedonians were Hellenized, does not explain how and why there are "Slavs" all over the Balkans today. Thousands of years of Slav influence and culture could not be easily erased, but thanks to the ingenuity of the Western mind that problem too was solved. When the Westerners began to write the new "Greek" history, they quickly discovered that there was no continuity to tie the Modern Greeks to the Ancient City-States. Ancient Macedonia extinguished all the City-State cultures when she annexed them. The only continuity from the City-States to the Roman era was through Ancient Macedonia. Only through a Hellenized Ancient Macedonia could modern writers claim continuity for the Greeks. It was there and then that the "history revisionists" decided to KILL Macedonia in order to keep Greece alive. There is NO Greece without Macedonia! If Greece is to live then she must inherit everything that was Macedonian. Even after that however, there was still the "Slav problem". The Slavs were always in the way of Greek Nationhood and for these reasons the "Real Macedonians" became and still are Greece's worst enemy. The Greek zeal to become "who they cannot be" was transformed into jealousy and hatred for Macedonia and her people. From the outset, the Greek State deliberately chose Macedonia and the Macedonian people as "the enemy" as is so often eloquently put and without hesitation announced for the world to hear. Again, thanks to the ingenuity and brilliance of the western mind the Slav problem for Greece was solved with the creation of "Bulgaria". "What is not Greek must be Bulgarian, what is not Bulgarian must be Greek, there is no such thing as Macedonian", are words echoed to this day. This is what Macedonians faced and must face, lived and must live, every day of their lives both at home and abroad from the 19th century to this day.

The 19th century creation of Bulgaria was the "answer" to covering up all remaining evidence of the existence of a Macedonia outside of the "Hellenic model". Never scientifically proven, the so-called "Slav invasions" were concocted to cover up thousands of years of Macedonian culture and influence in the Balkans (and beyond). Modern history, without scientific proof, claims that the Ancient Macedonians died off (mysteriously to the last one) and were replaced by the "newcomer Slavs". It was later declared that the Slavs living in Macedonia were actually Bulgarians of sorts.

To divide the Bulgarians from the Slav fold and to show that they were a distinct society, different form other Slavs (such as the Serbs), the non-Balkan name "Bulgaria" was chosen to represent a Balkan State created for the first time in the 19th century. The name "Bulgaria" is derived from the river "Volga, allegedly where the Bulgarians came from. We are also led to believe that the Bulgarians were descendents of a small Tartar/Turkish tribe that invaded the region a long time ago and were assimilated by the Slavs. So according to Western sources, Bulgarians are not exactly pure Slavs or pure Tartar/ Turk but a mix of both, enough to make them different from other Slavs and enough to divide them from the Slav fold. Being part Slav, Bulgarians could lay claim to the "Slav speaking residents of Macedonia" on account that they too were Slav. Being part Tartar/Turk and a descendent of the "Volga" made the Bulgarians newcomers in their own land. Thus being newcomers to the Balkans, the Bulgarians could not lay claim to the heritage of Ancient Macedonia. Bulgarians however, could lay claims to items that did not fit the Hellenic model like the Modern Macedonian (Slav) Culture and language. More on this in future articles. If you wish to learn more about the above you will find useful information in George Macaulay Trevelyan's book "British History in the Nineteenth Century (1782 - 1901)", Longmans 1927.

After 1878, while the Macedonian economy was crashing down by leaps and bounds, the Bulgarian economy was improving dramatically. This was partly due to the cheap labour provided by a large influx of Macedonian pechalbari (migrant workers). Experiencing a very different life in Sofia in contrast to life in the village, many Macedonian pechalbari were seduced into believing the Bulgarian propaganda (Macedonians are Bulgarians).

After 1878, the first Macedonians to take up arms were those who were wronged and wanted to see justice done. Soon however, they realized that their efforts were futile and their revenge only resulted in the loss of innocent lives (relatives and neigbours were punished for their crimes, sometimes by death). Macedonian leaders came to the conclusion that what they truly wanted could only be achieved if the Turks were expelled from Macedonia for good.

It was the charismatic humanitarian William Gladstone, a British Prime Minister three times, who uttered the words "Macedonia for the Macedonians" which rang out like loud church bells throughout Macedonia. "Macedonia for the Macedonians" was the signal that rallied the Macedonians into action and gave them hope that finally the West would support their cause. In spite of his great sympathy for the Macedonian people, unfortunately, Gladstone was not in a position to help. The best the Super Powers could offer were "reforms". A great number of reforms were drafted and agreed upon but never implemented. The Turkish Pashas continued to humour the Westerners with reams and reams of fictional statistics and accomplishments while the Begs (feudal lords) continued to dominate the "Chiflik" (estates) and squeeze the village peasants out of their existence. The only visible reforms were rail and road improvements sponsored by western companies who were able to divert Ottoman finances from the state budgets. Peasants who owned some land were taxed so excessively that they had to work on Sundays at road and bridge building to catch up on back taxes. To get such a job, they had to resort to bribery. As if that was not enough, in 1889 the tax burden was further increased by re-imposing a personal tax of seven shillings per year for each newborn son, reduced only when the boy was able to work at age fifteen. Some of these taxes were raised to assist small-scale manufacturing, which was largely owned by foreign investors. Village peasants were forced to sell, for next to nothing, their most valued possessions, hand-made crafts, old coins and heirlooms to pay for these taxes.

To further aggravate the situation, lawless acts by the Turkish authorities, without any avenue for appeal, contributed to the oppressive climate in the villages. In addition to pillaging, Turkish soldiers now plundered the farms and villages for their daily sustenance. The Turkish administration was in such disarray that suppliers of the military were not paid for long periods of time and were refusing to feed the army.

To counter the plundering, peasant militias began to form but were soon outlawed by the Turkish authorities.

By late 1890, those Macedonians who had land couldn't afford to work it because of high taxes and frequent raids. Those who worked for the Begs were at the mercy of their landlord without rights or legal recourse. The courts were clearly working against the Macedonians and beyond "external intervention" there was no way to challenge their tyrannical authority. Though the land was fertile, there was no incentive to work. Agrarian life became a burden, filling village life with hopelessness and crushing the spirit of the Macedonian peasant. Many Macedonian men left their families and turned to pechalbarstvo (migrant work), travelling to various foreign countries in search of work but often returned home poorer due to high travel and lodging expenses. It was during these times that large emigrant Macedonian communities began to form in cities like Sofia, Paris, London, etc. Besides migrant workers, Macedonian young men also traveled abroad to attend higher education. They too became involved in the growing Macedonian worker communities. By the late 1890's over 100,000 Macedonian men were working or studying outside of Macedonia. Cafe conversations, dominated by discussions of "what to do to improve the situation at home" became commonplace. It was clear to many that the discontentment they were experiencing was not a local or village issue, but a matter that enveloped all of Macedonia. It was also clear that Turkey would not allow Macedonia to protect herself or Turkish courts to rule in Macedonia's favour. It became clear to all that the only option open to a Macedonian was outright rebellion, a rebellion that would have common purpose, tactical mobilization and central direction. There were many lessons to be learned from the great deeds and disasters of the American war of Independence, the French Revolution and others. By the late 1890's, Turkish tyranny was not the only ill in Macedonia. There was also the process of Hellenization, Greek propaganda and the Greek clergy to contend with. Beyond that, there was Bulgarian propaganda that was becoming more venomous by the day.

On another front, escalated Bulgarian activities in Macedonia prompted Greece and Serbia to reconsider an old alliance (1866-67) of restoring ecclesiastical unity under the Patriarch in order to take away from the Exarchate. This alliance, due to Greek greed, for the time did not work out. This however, would be a prelude for a future and deadlier alliance that would last to this day.

By 1890, the rebellion started to organize and gain momentum. The students were the first to take action. A student revolutionary organization was formed in Switzerland and one in Bulgaria. Both used various tactics to combat anti-Macedonian chauvinist Balkan propaganda. Organized in 1891, the group in Bulgaria allied itself with the organization of Macedonian emigrant workers (Pechalbari) in Sofia and had much success. In time more organizations sprung up in Russia, Britain and Greece but none could match the achievements of the Sofia based "Young Macedonian Literary Society" under the tutelage of Petar Pop Arsov. This Society of young Macedonians formulated its own constitution and managed the revolutionary publication "Loza" (Vine). The first issue of Loza came out in January of 1892, followed by six more publications before the Society was denounced by the Greek and Serbian press, and claimed as "its own" by the Bulgarian press. According to official Bulgarian State policy, "Macedonians were Bulgarians" and any worthwhile Macedonian creation belonged to Bulgaria.

While émigré Macedonian students were fighting Greek and Bulgarian propaganda and shoring up Western support, an historic moment inside Macedonia was about to unveil. It was October 23rd, 1893 in Solun (Salonika) when two high school teachers, Damjan Gruev and Anton Dimitrov together with Petar Pop Arsov, a former editor of Loza and Hristo Tatarchev, a doctor got together in bookshop owner Ivan Nikolov's house for an informal meeting. The main point of discussion was the plight of the Macedonian people and what to do about it. As word got around a committee was formed, more Macedonians got involved and a second (formal) meeting was held on February 9th, 1894. The topics of discussion included the drafting of a constitution to guide the committee. By the end of the meeting the committee made the following resolutions:

1. The committee will be revolutionary in nature and will remain secret. 2. Its revolutionary activities will be confined to inside Macedonia's borders. 3. Irrespective of nationality or religion, any Macedonian can become a member of the committee.

The committee also set out for itself the following objectives, which were later ratified at the first Revolutionary Congress held in Resen in August 1894:

1. destroy the Ottoman social system, 2. remain an "independent" organization, and 3. seek Macedonian autonomy.

The organization became known as Vnatrezhna (Internal) Makedonska (Macedonian) Revolutsionerna (Revolutionary) Organizatsia (Organization), VMRO (IMRO).

Being of clandestine nature, IMRO had some difficulties recruiting new members but within a year or so, its influence extended beyond Solun and into the rest of Macedonia. Initially, the organization was more ideological and less practical with the majority of its recruits being teachers, most of whom taught at the Exarchate schools inside Macedonia. To rally the masses the organization needed to educate them and bring them in line with IMRO's objectives. For that, it needed a charismatic leader who was able to talk to people at their own level, and who was free to travel without too much interference from the authorities. The man who answered that call was Gotse Delchev, a man of vision matched by only a few, the father of the Macedonian Revolution and the soul of the movement. (If you want to learn more about the IMRO leadership, you must read Michael Radin's book "IMRO and the Macedonian Question"). Gotse was a realist and at the same time an idealist who loved people, hated tyranny and saw the world as a place of many cultures living together in peace. As a realist Gotse knew that in order for a revolution to be successful it had to be a "moral revolution" of mind, heart and soul of an enslaved people. People needed to feel like people with rights and freedoms and not like slaves. With that in mind Gotse set out to build up a revolutionary conscience in the Macedonian population and thus set the revolutionary wheels in motion. Gotse's installment as undisputed leader of the IMRO was consolidated during the Solun Congress of 1896 after which IMRO began to massively organize. Gotse's abilities to "listen and learn" brought him close to the problems of ordinary people who wanted freedom but also wanted to preserve their religions, culture and way of life. With Gotse's field research in mind, the IMRO strategy was to "give the people what they want" and win them over. Initially, the strategy worked well and won IMRO the support it needed and by 1896, it was able to exert influence to a point where it acted as a state within a state taking over administrative positions from the Ottomans, leading boycotts against Ottoman institutions and offering isolated villages protection from Greek and Bulgarian sponsored brigands. In time, IMRO operatives were able to penetrate Ottoman economic, educational and even judicial functions. The downside of "giving the people what they want", opened the doors for Bulgarian infiltration. By "attitude" and by use of the Greek language, it was easy to recognize Greek influence but it was not as simple to recognize the Bulgarian one. While the Greeks cared nothing about Macedonian affairs and loathed the Macedonian language, the Bulgarians were a part of Macedonian affairs and eloquently spoke the Macedonian language. By far the largest Bulgarian infiltration into Macedonian affairs took place in Sofia among the pechalbari. As I mentioned earlier, the cosmopolitan lifestyle in Sofia, a far cry from life in the village, seduced some Macedonians to succumb to Bulgarian propaganda, which resulted in the formation of the "External Macedonian Revolutionary Organization" better known as the "Supreme Macedonian Committee". This organization was formed in Sofia in March of 1895 and was termed the "Trojan Horse" of IMRO by Gotse Delchev. The initial membership consisted of emigrant Macedonian nationalists but in time its leadership was infiltrated by officers from the Bulgarian State army ranks. The objectives, on the surface of this "two faced" organization termed "Vrhovist" (Supremacist) by the IMRO, were to fight for Macedonia's independence by armed intervention in an aggressive revolutionary manner. Its true nature however, (concealed from the people) was to undermine the IMRO by subordinating its central committee to its own "Supremacist directives". This and the fact that Vrhovism masqueraded itself as "Macedonian patriotism" in the eyes of the Macedonian people very much disturbed Gotse Delchev. True to his nature of keeping an open mind, Delchev along with Gruev took a trip to Sofia in hopes of reconciling their differences with the Vrhovists but came back more disillusioned. Instead of receiving a handshake, on March 20th, 1896, Gotse was informed that IMRO would no longer be supported by Bulgaria and all finances and arms would be cut off and from here on forward, the Vrhovists would decide what actions the IMRO would take inside Macedonia. This was indeed an attempt by the Vrhovists to usurp control of IMRO. Disappointed but not disillusioned, Gotse turned to "Mother Russia" for assistance, but there too he found no welcome reception. Russia had no interest in helping IMRO because there were no advantages to gain from liberating Macedonia (given Russia's current relationship with the Western Powers).

Due to IMRO's popularity, strength and ability to recognize a "Trojan Horse", the Bulgarian led organization failed to achieve its true objectives. After that it resorted to violent attacks and assassination attempts with the aim of eliminating the entire IMRO structure and its leadership. It used armed interventions in order to provoke Ottoman reprisals against innocent village peasants and put the blame on IMRO. By selective propaganda and by vilifying the Ottomans in the eyes of the world, the Bulgarian led organization was hoping for a Super Power intervention to weaken the Turk and at the same time create a climate for a Bulgarian invasion (disguised as a "liberation" of the oppressed Macedonians).

In the meantime both Delchev and Gruev were promoted to the rank of "District Inspector of Schools" in their employment, enabling them to travel unabated and without suspicion. Using inspection tours as cover, they were able to find ways to purchase and smuggle arms into Macedonia. They also took time to address Macedonian villages and make personal contacts with the village chiefs. Many people flocked to hear what these legendary figures of men, patriots, and saviors had to say. Unfortunately, lecturing out in the open placed IMRO leaders at risk from spies. As a result on one occasion, Gotse was arrested by the Turkish authorities in May of 1896 and spent 26 days in jail. When the Turks couldn't find anything to charge him with, Gotse was released.

Bulgarian influence was not limited to Vrhovist actions alone. Bulgarian undercover agents were dispatched to Solun to spy on IMRO activities and report back to the Bulgarian State. The Exarchate also had policies of its own and continued to rally the Macedonian youth for its own cause. When it seemed like the IMRO was unbreakable, the Vrhovists resorted to infiltrating the IMRO leadership itself, which in time brought them some success. Bulgarian interference in IMRO policies caused hardships and internal squabbling between executive committee members and eventually caused the organization to split into hostile factions. This undermined IMRO's credibility with the outside world. The Vrhovists badly wanted to provoke Turkey so that they could "liberate" Macedonia, but the Super Powers, especially Russia and Britain "didn't buy it" and saw their actions as provocative and dangerous. While the Vrhovist leadership agreed to curb its provocative actions, its armed wing of insurgents however, had already penetrated and captured parts of Eastern Macedonia. Even though the invasion lasted about two days, it became clear as to "who was who" and the true Vrhovist agenda was exposed. After that IMRO gave the Vrhovists a stern warning to "stay out of Macedonia" and to use Delchev's words, "whoever works for the unification with Greece or Bulgaria is a good Greek or Good Bulgarian but NOT a good Macedonian". After that while IMRO worked for a "Macedonia for the Macedonians" the Bulgarian Supreme Committee openly worked for a "Macedonia for the Bulgarians". IMRO leadership strove to purify IMRO from the Vrhovist infiltration. In essence, the IMRO constitution was bolstered to exclude Vrhovist demands and still be able to give the Macedonian people what they wanted. The IMRO leadership, without much success, made attempts to infiltrate and sabotage the Vrhovist Supreme Committee by making frequent trips to Sofia and attempting to rally dissident emigrant forces inside Bulgaria.

While the Vrhovists were plotting against IMRO and the Macedonian people from the north, a new menace was brewing from the south. On April 9th, 1897 armed Greek bands began to aggressively cross into Macedonian. The Turks protested this action to the Super Powers but the Greeks denied responsibility insisting all along that it was the Macedonian Cheti. It didn't take too long before the Turks took the offensive and drove the Greeks out of Thessally. When the Turks were about overtake the entire country the Super Powers intervened on Greece's behalf to once again save her. The Greek Government in charge of the invasion fell out of grace and when a new Government was elected, it agreed to pay a hefty fine, which consisted of four million Turkish pounds, as well as giving up Thessally to the Turks. In addition to losing grace, Greece had to relinquish control of her own finances (to the Super Powers) to ensure prompt payment of the fine. The Super Powers, without German support forced the Sultan to accept the offer and sign a peace deal. The Germans never forgave the Greeks for lying to them about their aggressive actions against the Turks. The Germans at that time were responsible for Turkey. Outside of Greek brigand actions, for the moment at least, Greece was not a direct threat to IMRO.

IMRO demonstrated great leadership by its ability to organize Macedonia into seven revolutionary districts (Solun, Serres, Strumitsa, Shtip, Skopje, Bitola and Endrene{Macedonian Dardannelles}). It also demonstrated its weaknesses. Having allied itself with the poor village peasants and striving to refrain from obligations and debts, IMRO found itself strapped for finances. The IMRO committee was unable to raise all the necessary funds to finance its campaigns. While the leadership turned a blind eye, the local commanders resorted to kidnapping rich landowners, merchants and foreign dignitaries for ransom. Kidnappings did not exclude foreign missionaries like Miss Stone who fell into the hands of Sandanski's Cheta (armed band). Taken by the plight of her captors, Miss Stone herself voluntarily made sure the ransom was paid in full. Short of finances mostly due to the unfriendly terms with the Vrhovist Supreme Command in Sofia, IMRO found itself lacking the necessary arsenal to wage war. Subordination to Bulgarian demands was out of the question so Gotse had to look elsewhere to get his weapons. Efforts were made to purchase weapons from Greece, Albania and even from the Turks themselves but without too much success. By 1897, the situation was getting desperate so the IMRO leadership resorted to purchasing from the black market, even stealing weapons. One such purchase was made from the Bulgarian Military. The military allowed the sale of outdated guns but later refused to sell cartridges, fearing the weapons may be turned against them. On October 1900, Chakalarov, a local chief in the Lerin/Kostur regions who spoke Greek, dressed up as an Albanian pretending to be from Ianitsa, was successful in purchasing some arms from Athens. Later attempts by others however, were not so successful. On one occasion, a translator betrayed the purchasers to the Turkish console on the advice of a Greek priest. After that the Turks trusted this translator and made him a sergeant in their gendarme. He served the Turks well and brought them much success in their search and destroy missions until he discovered he could make even more money by taking bribes before turning people in. As a result of this man's actions many band members were killed in many villages.

The lack of sufficient arms brought home the realization that this "uprising" was going to be a long one. Here again Gotse and the IMRO leadership proved their worth by adopting a policy of self-arming. With a little bit of skill on weapons manufacture, learned from the Armenian Revolutionaries, IMRO set up a number of munitions factories in remote and secluded areas, capable of producing home made bombs and other explosives. Unfortunately, in 1900 during a raid at one of these factories, Dame Gruev was arrested by the Turkish authorities and imprisoned in Bitola. He came back to active duty in April 1903. In spite of all efforts made to obtain them, the Macedonian "Cheti" lacked arms but had plenty of courage to make up for it, which in time put fear in the Turkish hearts. As IMRO grew beyond its ideological stage, it began to recruit, equip and train fighters. Volunteers were recruited mainly from the villages, young men who were willing to fight for their freedom. Those who were in trouble with the law (brigands) were armed and recruited into active duty. Those were men who flourished by attacking Turks and stealing from them. They were admired for their courage and ability to live free. They were men who practiced the art of war, knew how to live in the open, how to ambush and how to hide. They were the men who taught the young Macedonian recruits to fight and win. The rest were reservists and lived at home, only called to duty as required. Each reservist was expected to purchase and secure his own rifle and ammunition. Recruitment was carried out in utmost secrecy. Even women were enlisted in the Macedonian revolution, but their role was limited to cooking, washing, mending clothing and nursing the wounded. The primary role of a fighter was to defend the people from Turkish and brigand attacks. The Cheti consisted of about five to ten men, organized for rapid mobilization and quick response. The goal was to have one Cheta responsible for one village (preferably their own) in all of Macedonia. The leader of each Cheta was chosen for his abilities to lead his men, and more so, for the peoples' confidence in him to protect their village. To respond quickly, the Cheta had to be familiar with the village's terrain and escape routes. To maintain secrecy all orders were given by word of mouth.

The IMRO mobilization managed to elude the Turkish authorities for a long time. However, an unfortunate discovery of some explosives accidentally uncovered the secret and led the Turkish militia on wide "search and destroy missions". The militia's conduct unfortunately was less than honourable when the soldiers took to torturing innocent people and burning properties in order to obtain confessions. The Cheti's responsibility was to ambush the militia, using guerrilla tactics, before they entered villages and prevent them from doing harm. This however, did not always work so some of the Cheta Chiefs resorted to retaliations and reprisals for crimes already committed. Although poorly armed and vastly under-manned (sometimes as high as 10 Turks to 1 Macedonian), the Cheti fought fierce battles and gained legendary reputations among both the Turks and the Macedonians. Unfortunately, as the Ottoman authorities became more aware of IMRO's intentions the Turkish militias began to swell with soldiers. If that was not enough, at about the same time the Exarchate, suspecting IMRO affiliation, began to dismiss Macedonian teachers on mass. Even though most Macedonian teachers despised working for the Exarchate, they used the schools as a means of promoting IMRO's aims. They frequently gave lectures, taught Macedonian patriotic songs, canvassed house to house etc. This was a blow to IMRO. A more severe blow however, came in April of 1897 in what was termed as the "Goluchowski-Muraviev Agreement". This was an agreement drawn up by Tsar Nikolas II of Russia and Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria regarding the future of the remainder of the Ottoman Empire. In part, the agreement stated that, at some future time, the Macedonian territory would be divided equally between Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria. In other words, when the Super Powers got their fill of Turkey and abandoned her, Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria were welcome to take their turn. This indeed was bad news and as history showed, it was devastating for IMRO and disastrous for the Macedonian people.

In about 1898, the Bulgarian Exarchate, instructed by the Bulgarian Prime Minister, created a Vrhovist organization inside Macedonia, based in Solun known as the "Revolutionary Brotherhood" which in turn began to form its own Cheti. While pretending to be part of IMRO, the purpose of this organization was to carry out terrorist activities and in the eyes of the world, discredit the real IMRO. By the year 1900, IMRO's enemies were growing in numbers and intensifying in ferocity. IMRO's woes were just beginning when they discovered that the Vrhovists had dispatched six assassins to murder Delchev and Sandanski (a legendary Cheta chief affectionately known as the "Tsar of Pirin"). The Vrhovist Cheti were raining terror on Macedonian villages provoking the Turks to act. Although never proven, it was alleged that the Vrhovist leaders were working with the Turks in successfully arresting members of IMRO, destroying munitions depots and torturing, raping and murdering people. Even the Turks themselves participated in sabotage tactics. Several Greek spies were killed at one time and the IMRO was blamed. As a result of this, many organizers were rounded up and arrested. In reality however, it was Turkish Begs who committed the crimes as was later discovered. The same Begs were seen attacking Turkish tax collectors. Failing to assassinate Delchev and Sandanski, the six assassins, in their frustration, turned to attacking people, burning down villages and stealing money and claiming it to be the work of IMRO. Several important leaders, including the famous "Marko Lerinski" (the "Tsar of Lerin"), Cheta leader of the Lerin and Kostur Regions, was killed in these attacks.

All was not lost however, during the next attack, Sandanski was ready for the Vrhovists and in September 1902, sent them packing. The Turks did the rest by crushing the Vrhovist remnants in November of the same year. The disturbances and civil strife were enough to convince Turkey that yet another uprising may be imminent and that she should take action to prevent it. As usual, violence was answered with more violence. The Turks initiated a wide campaign of search and destroy missions exacting serious retributions and terror on the village populations. In addition to regular Turkish troops, the Ottomans now enlisted reserves from the Albanian Muslim fold. Every bridge, railway cutting and railway tunnel was guarded. Also, every village had a garrison of ten or more troops guarding it. While the Turkish troops were content with "fighting it out" with the Cheti then retiring to their barracks, the Albanian reservists avoided direct confrontations and preferred to join the Bashi-Bazouks (armed civilian Muslims) in pillaging and plundering the villages. These gendarmes, recruited from the Albanian Gheg Muslim community, had a vested interest in disorder. The gendarmes allowed law-breakers to exist so that they could keep their employment. They rarely engaged in combat and their meager pay was always in arrears so they readily accepted bribes to make their living. Both the Patriarchate and Exarchate were known to bribe the gendarmes in order to allow Greek and Bulgarian brigands to function freely.

To make a bad situation worse, at the end of August 1902, the Vrhovists showed up in Macedonia uninvited and began to issue orders directly to the local chiefs to start the rebellion. According to Vrhovist plans the rebellion was ordered to begin September 20th, 1902. This was news to IMRO. This latest bold Vrhovist action turned a lot of heads including that of Vasil Chakalarov. Chakalarov was a respected chief and managed to sway the people away from the Vrhovists. But the Vrhovists were not finished and began to publicly accuse Chakalarov and the others of being cowards and peasants for not wanting to fight. When that still didn't work, Chakalarov was personally called a thief, allegedly having stolen a fortune from the Vrhovist money allocated for purchasing arms. Fortunately the Macedonian people knew that Chakalarov was a decent man. They also knew that the Vrhovists didn't contribute any funds for purchasing arms. Left alone, unable to start the rebellion, the Vrhovists tucked their tails and went elsewhere to cause trouble.

This latest Vrhovist action did not go unnoticed by the Turks and put IMRO in a difficult situation. The Vrhovists, for a long time wanted to get IMRO into a fight with the Turkish army but so far were not successful. This time unfortunately, their wishes were about to come true. The Vrhovists believed that a fight with IMRO would weaken Turkey enough to make a Bulgarian invasion possible. They encouraged the Cheti Chiefs to "start the insurrection and Bulgaria would finish it" for them. "Bulgaria has hundreds of thousands of troops standing by and will come to your rescue as soon as the first shot is fired" is what the Vrhovists were preaching to the Macedonian chiefs.

IMRO knew that its fighters were not ready for a frontal attack with the Turkish militia. They also knew that fighting or not, the Turkish militia was going to destroy Macedonia village by village one way or another. The Vrhovists on the other hand, could not be trusted for their help because they had no intention of honouring their promises, their actions made that point very clear in the past. In either case, IMRO had no choice but to act soon. The search and destroy missions were putting many innocent people in jeopardy including women and children. Local informants, Greek, and Bulgarian brigands did not hesitate to inform on the villages, especially if they had an axe to grind. On many occasion Patriarchate and Exarchate brigands (hired goons) were put out of action by the Cheti and that made their benefactors angry, who in turn informed on the villages. Brigands were hired to harass and exact terror on villagers to sway them to change allegiance from one church to another. The Cheti were fierce fighters and fought gallantly when it came to protecting their villages but were undermanned and poorly armed. As much as they wanted to they were not capable of always standing up to the large and well-equipped Turkish militia. The militia on the other hand, did not always operate under the best of ethics and was open to bribes. The poor people who couldn't afford bribes fared the worst. Some say it was less of a punishment to produce a rifle than not to have one at all. Some resorted to purchasing rifles and turning them in just so that they received a lesser punishment. On many occasions the houses of those suspected of aiding the Cheta were burned to the ground. The Turks did not even hesitate to jail old women accused of that crime. Historical accounts show that during the height of the search and destroy activities the jails in Macedonia were filled beyond capacity. In fact a Solun jail with the capacity for 500 was holding 900 prisoners (some were held in the White Tower). There is an old Macedonian saying, "there is nothing worse than being locked up in a Turkish jail".

On January 31st, 1903, the Turks declared IMRO illegal and sought ways to destroy it. The bad news for IMRO gave the Vrhovist the necessary momentum they needed to become a wedge between those in IMRO who wanted an immediate uprising, and those of IMRO who believed that an uprising at this point in time was suicidal. Gotse Delchev was against this "willing sacrifice" and was hoping to find a better solution, but time was running out.

A second Solun Congress, dominated by the Vrhovists was staged in February of 1903. Delchev and most of IMRO's loyal supporters did not attend. A resolution was reached, but not ratified by the regional committees, that an uprising would take place on Ilinden, on the 2nd of August 1903. To weaken the Turks, the Vrhovists staged a number of bombings and terrorist acts. The Solun to Tsary Grad railway was bombed on March 18th as was the Solun Ottoman bank a month later. This did not weaken the Turks as expected but instead it brought more Turkish troops into Macedonia and further escalated the violence against innocent civilians. If that was not enough, the sudden rise in violence against Ottoman institutions was not well received by European investors and businessmen who saw Ottoman Macedonia as a safe place to invest. The few lonely voices in London calling for Macedonian support were quickly drowned out by the many voices of discontent calling for the demise of the terrorists.

Tragically, Gotse Delchev was killed by the Turks in Banitsa on May 3rd, 1903 a day after the IMRO Smilevo Congress had started. Termed the Bitola Congress, the purpose of the Smilevo Congress was to review the resolutions from the Vrhovist dominated Solun Congress held earlier in the same year. Damjan Gruev (a native of Smilevo) chaired the Congress and tried hard to realistically present the situation by arguing for and against an early uprising. When the matter was put to a vote however, the majority declared themselves in favour of an uprising. With these words "better an end with horrors than horrors without end", Gruev also voted in support of the Ilinden rebellion. From here on there was no turning back. A general staff was elected with Gruev as the head and preparations for the uprising began. In due time plans were made, a military strategy was prepared, weapons, medical supplies and food-stuffs were requisitioned and stock piled, Cheti were organized and training drills performed. On July 26th, 1903, by a dispatch to the Great Powers via the British vice-consul in Bitola, the General Staff formally announced the uprising. Then on July 28th, 1903, IMRO dispatched mounted couriers to all the sub-districts with the message "let the uprising begin". On the same day the General Staff informed the Ottoman Director of Railways to warn travelers to choose a different mode of transportation in order to avoid being hurt. In spite of all odds the brave people of Macedonia heroically rose to the task with valour. They knew well that the fight they were forced to fight might not bring them what they wanted but they chose to fight anyway because it was a fight for freedom and freedom after centuries of slavery was valued above life itself. That however, did not convince the Super Powers to lend a helping hand. Macedonia, again for a second time within a quarter century was exposed to treachery that would make the 1878 betrayal look like a picnic.

To be continued in part IV.

NOTE: Many of you have asked me to say something about the word "Slav"

The word "Slav" is an English translation of the Macedonian word "Slava" like the word Macedonia is an English translation of the word Makedonija. Slava in Macedonian means "glory, fame, renown". "Slaven" in Macedonian means "glorious, famous, renowned, celebrated, illustrious". "Slavi" in Macedonian means "to glorify, to celebrate, to extol". (page 925, Dushan Tsrenkovski's "The Standard Dictionary, English-Macedonian, Macedonian-English").

The word "Pravo" in Macedonian means "right" (page 850, Dushan Tsrenkovski's "The Standard Dictionary, English-Macedonian, Macedonian-English").

Putting the two words together "Pravo Slava" assumes a holy meaning like "Pravoslavna vera" or "Eastern Christian faith".

I want to make it perfectly clear that "Pravoslaven" in Macedonian means "Most Glorious" and refers to the Christian religion. "Slava" translates to "celebrate" as in a holy celebration. By no means does the word "Slav" have any connection to "nationality". "Slav" to a Macedonian once meant the same as Catholic to an Italian, Jew to a Hebrew, Orthodox to a Greek, Muslim to an Arab or Hindu to an East Indian. Today however, the beauty of the word "Slav" has, for political purposes, been twisted into something ugly, undesirable and denigrating to all Macedonians. More specifically, the Greeks and now the Albanians call the Macedonian people "Slav" to mean "new comers", "foreigners", "barbarians", "simpletons", "ignorant", "inconsiderate", etc. So please do not call the Macedonians "Slav", just call them Macedonian.

The Pravoslaven Empire (later renamed Byzantine Empire) lasted from 324AD when the Pravoslavna vera was first adopted as the official religion of the Empire to 1767 when the Phanariots with Turkish help, officially extinguished the Macedonian Church. After that up until 1850, the Macedonian Church lived underground and continued to operate illegally keeping the "Pravoslavna vera" and the Macedonian culture alive.

It is well documented that the language of liturgy of the Pravoslavni (people of the Byzantine Empire) was what we now call "Old Church Slavonic". Old Church Slavonic is a Macedonian (Solunski) dialect spoken and understood to this day in most parts of geographical Macedonia.

You can contact the author via his e-mail:


1. A. Michael Radin, IMRO and the Macedonian Question, Kultura

2. Douglas Dakin, M.A., Ph.D., The Greek Struggle in Macedonia 1897 - 1913, Institute for Balkan Studies, Salonika 1966

3. H. N. Brailsford, Macedonia Its Races and their Future, Arno Press, New York 1971

4. Vasil Bogov, Macedonian Revelation, Historical Documents rock and shatter Modern Political Ideology

5. The University of Cyril and Methodius, DOCUMENTS of the Struggle of the Macedonian, People for Independence and a Nation-State Volumes I & II

6. The World Book Encyclopedia

Болен ми лежи Миле Поп Јорданов


Болен лежи Миле Поп Јорданов
Болен ми лежи Миле Поп Јорданов. х2
Над глава му стои стара му мајка,
жално го жали, милно го плачи. x2

Стани ми, стани, мое мило чедо! х2
Твоите другари по сокаци одат,
жални песни пеат, тебе те спомнуват. x2

Бог да го прости Миле Поп Јорданов, х2
Миле Поп Јорданов за народ загина,
за народ загина, за Македонија. x2

Ани Малинкова и Драган Ацевски

Бански старчета

Виолета Томовска и октет Македонија

Гоце Николовски

Нина Спирова


Нашата македонска крв

"Нашата македонска крв, со која сме решени по неволја да ја крвавиме оваа од пред две илјади години немилосрдно осудена и презрена Македонија, при сегашниве европски владетелски народи ќе даде ли крај за да не и се одмаздува веќе на великата и некогашна слава!!!

...Азијатскиоте народи можеби по нивните стари преданија да го сакаат заличувањето во светот на името Македонија! А просветена Европа има ли причини и уште ли не родила спасител за да не избави од нашиот праотечески грев?"

Освобождение Болгарии ит турецкого ига. Документи в трех томах, III, Москва, 1967, 325, док. No. 205. Откриено од Misirkov

Други цитати со кои се покажува поменот на античка Македонија - Линк

Arrowhead - IV - III century BC

Ancient Macedonian bronze arrowhead. 4th-3rd century BC. 37 mm / Античка македонска бронзена стрела. IV - III век п.н.е. 37 mm

What Went Wrong 2

Macedonia: What Went Wrong in the Last 200 Years - Part II - 1878 - 1903

Macedonia: What Went Wrong in the Last 200 Years

Part II - 1878 - 1903

by Risto Stefov

July, 2002

In the previous article (part I) I covered events leading up to but not including the 1877 Russian invasion of the Ottoman Empire which ended with the dreaded 1878 Treaty of Berlin. Events covered included the Serbian and Greek uprisings, Super Power interventions in the Ottoman realm, results of the Crimean war, and the 1875 economic crisis in the Balkans.

In this article (part II) I will start where I left off in part I and cover events from 1878 up to the developments leading up to the Macedonian Ilinden uprising of 1903.

I want to apologize for the large number of quotes I have included in this document. This is the only way I can "stave off" those who accuse me of "inventing" or "making up things". I will also do my best to reference Western and neutral sources in order to keep my arguments as unbiased as possible.

On top of paying heavy taxes to the Ottomans, the village peasants of the Balkans were now burdened with additional taxes to pay off Western European loans. For some the burden was too great and it manifested itself in a number of independent uprisings. Discontentment with Turkish rule, economic plight and pure neglect of human life precipitated the "Eastern Crisis".

The first of these uprisings began in 1875 in Bosnia but soon spread to Montenegro and Serbia. About a year later the village peasants in Bulgaria showed their discontentment and staged a massive liberation struggle. To a lesser extent, the liberation struggle extended to Macedonia where an armed insurrection took place in Razlog in 1876.

The growing discontentment of the peasantry in the Balkans disturbed the Great Powers who now had a vested interest in protecting the Ottoman Empire from falling apart. A conference was convened in Tsary Grad (Istanbul) in 1876 to discuss strategies on how to deal with the insurrections and the "Eastern Question" in general. Representatives of Russia, Austria-Hungary, Britain, Germany, France and Italy attended the conference and decided to place Macedonia and Bulgaria under the control of the Great Powers. Turkey rejected their demands and soon after found herself at odds with Russia. By early 1877, war broke out in Serbia and Montenegro followed by a massive Russian invasion of Bulgaria. The Turkish armies were decimated and Turkey was forced to talk peace. Peace was negotiated between Russia and Turkey on March 3rd, 1878, (the San Stefano Treaty) without Western Power consent. Russia, as usual, was concerned more with self interests and less with the interest of the people she was trying to protect, so she sought the opportunity to realize a long held ambition in the Balkans, access to the Mediterranean Sea. The following agreements were reached:

1. Turkey was forced to recognize Greek sovereignty over Thessaly.

2. Montenegro was declared independent.

3. Turkey was forced to provide autonomy to an extended Bulgaria that included Macedonia, Western Thrace, a part of Albania, and a district of Serbia.

The conclusion of this treaty sent shock waves not only through the Western Powers who had a lot to lose (financial investments in the Ottoman Empire) but also to states like Greece and Serbia who had territorial ambitions of their own towards Ottoman territories.

Disturbed by the Russian tactics, the Western Powers re-convened the Eastern Question at Berlin in July 1878. At this point the San Stefano agreement was revised as follows:

1. Independence was granted to Serbia, and Montenegro as well as Romania.

2. Bosnia was given to Austria-Hungary ("Britain did not want more Slavic states to form". Page 379, Trevelyan, British History in the 19th Century)

3. The territory of present day Bulgaria was divided into two administrative districts. Bulgaria proper and Eastern Rumelia. Eastern Rumelia was given back to the Turks.

4. Macedonia, Thrace, Kosovo and Albania were given back to the Ottomans.

At the verge of bankruptcy Russia could not resist the Western Powers and gave in to their demands.

With the exception of clause 23 that required the Turks to provide a small degree of economic autonomy to Macedonia, Macedonia was once again committed to Ottoman oppression. The conditions of clause 23 unfortunately, were never enforced by the Super Powers or complied with by Turkey.

In the spring of 1878 Macedonia reached the crossroads of her destiny. She was one step away from overthrowing six hundred years of Ottoman tyranny when Western Powers stepped in to prevent it. Why? Was Macedonia less deserving than Greece, Serbia or Bulgaria? Were the Macedonians less Christian than the Greeks, Serbians or Bulgarians? Was the Macedonian struggle to free itself from Turkish tyranny not convincing enough? The real reason for throwing Macedonia back to the wolves had little to do with religion, nationalism or human rights and a lot to do with economics, profit and access to the Mediterranean Sea. Russia desperately wanted to access the Mediterranean but the Western Powers desperately wanted to prevent it. Here is what Trevelyan has to say about that. "Throughout the 19th century Russia was striving to advance towards Constantinople over the ruins of the Turkish Empire. She was drawn forward by imperialist ambition, in the oppressed Christians of her own communion, many of whom were Slav by language and race, and by the instinct to seek a warm water port-a window whence the imprisoned giantess could look out upon the world. The world however, had no great wish to see her there".

"Canning (a British politician, 1812-1862) had planned to head off Russia's advance, not by direct opposition, but by associating her with England and France in a policy of emancipation, aimed at erecting national States out of the component parts of the Turkish Empire. Such States could be relied upon to withstand Russian encroachment on their independence, if once they were set free from the Turk. The creation of the Kingdom of Greece was the immediate outcome of Canning's policy" (page 372, Trevelyan, British History in the 19th Century).

Russia had no economic stake in the Ottoman Empire so she wanted the Turks out of the Balkans. The Western Powers invested heavily in the Turkish economy and infrastructure and were anxious to keep the Ottoman Empire alive and well in the Balkans. The success of the Crimean war (Turkey won), convinced the British to slow down their policy of creating new Balkan States in favour of exploiting the lucrative Ottoman markets and collecting returns on loans made to Turkey.

At the stroke of a pen Bulgaria was freed (autonomous) while Macedonia was sentenced to suffer further indignity and humiliation. Back in the hands of the Greek clergy and the Ottoman Authorities Macedonia now entered a new era of suffering and cruelties, destined to pay for the sins of all the other nations that rose up against the Ottomans.

Between the spring and summer of 1878 Macedonia's fate was decided not by Russia, or the Western Powers but by Britain alone. Britain who created Greece and introduced the curse of Hellenism in the Balkans, was now prepared to fight Russia, by military means if necessary, to keep her out of the Mediterranean. To avoid war a compromise was reached. "The essentials of this compromise were agreed upon between England and Russia before the meeting of the European Congress, which took place at Berlin under the chairmanship of Bismarck, and formally substituted the Treaty of Berlin for the terms of San Stefano" (page 377, Trevelyan, British History in the 19th Century).

"To our (British) eyes the real objection to the San Stefano lies not in its alleged increase in Russian power, but in the sacrifice of the fair claims of Greeks and Serbians, who would not have remained long quiet under the arrangements which ignored their racial rights and gave all the points to Bulgaria. Lord Salisbury felt this strongly, especially on behalf of Greece."

"Beaconsfield's success, as he himself saw it, consisted in restoring the European power of Turkey. It was done by handing back Macedonia to the Port (Turks), without guarantees for better government. This was the essence of the Treaty of Berlin as distinct from the Treaty of San Stefano. 'There is again a Turkey in Europe' Bismarck said. He congratulated the British Prime Minister - 'You have made a present to the Sultan of the richest province in the world; 4,000 square miles of the richest soil.' Unfortunately for themselves, the inhabitants went with the soil. Since Beaconsfield decided, perhaps rightly, that Macedonia should not be Bulgarian, some arrangements ought to have been made for its proper administration under a Christian governor. Apart of all questions of massacres, the deadening character of the Turkish rule is well known. Lord Salisbury seems to have wished for a Christian governor, but nothing was done in that direction. A golden opportunity was thus let slip "(page 378, Trevelyan, British History in the 19th Century).

After gaining status as protector of the Suez Canal and the waterways to India, Britain was awarded Cyprus. Content with her gains, Britain became lax and agreed that Russia and Austria-Hungary should oversee Ottoman affairs in Macedonia. "The British people, when left to themselves, neither knew or cared who massacred whom between the Danube and the Aegean. Byron's Greece had appealed to their imagination and historical sense, but the Balkans were a battlefield of kites and crows" (page 373, Treveleyan, British History in the 19th Century).

The Macedonian people were not at all happy about what went on in the Berlin Congress and showed their discontentment by demonstrating first in Kresna then in Razlog but as usual, their pleas were ignored. The Turkish army was dispatched and the demonstrations were violently put down.

Facing the possibility of becoming extinct in Europe, the Ottoman Empire began to re-organize and take demonstrations and rebellions seriously. After the Greek uprising the Sultan became distrustful of the Phanariots and expelled most of them from his services. He came close to ousting the Patriarch and his tyrannical Bishops but Russia stepped in and prevented it. Many of the Slav people were not happy with being ruled by a Greek Patriarch and after Russia's show of solidarity to the Greeks and the Patriarch, they threatened to convert to Catholicism. This created a real concern for Russia. "In the days when Panslavism was a force in Russia and General Ignatieff ruled Constatinople. Russia naturally feared that if the Southern Slavs became Catholics she would lose her ascendancy over them" (page 73 Brailsford's Macedonia). In 1870 Russia convinced the Sultan to allow a new millet to form thus creating the schismatic Bulgarian Exarchateate Church which was immediately excommunicated by the Patriarch. Fracturing the Rum (Romeos) Millet into two opposing factions suited the Turks perfectly because now Christians, instead of rebelling against the Turks, would fight one another. Now, in addition to the Ottoman and Greek, a third government was created that would rule the same people in three conflicting ways. From a religious standpoint, minor differences distinguished the Greek from the Bulgarian Church. Both were Christian Orthodox except the Greeks acknowledged the authority of the Greek Patriarch while the Bulgarians obeyed the Bulgarian Exarchate. The language of liturgy was about the only distinct difference between the churches. The Bulgarians used the Old Church Slavonic (Macedonian), familiar to Macedonians, while the Greeks used an ancient language no Macedonian could understand.

The creation of the Exarchate Church stepped up nationalistic activities inside Macedonia and increased the stakes for territorial claims.

From the day they were liberated, both Serbia and Greece were strengthening their economies and poisoning their people with nationalist propaganda. Serbia introduced education for the masses and was teaching her youth about her ancient exploits and past empires that ruled Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia and that the Slavs (except for the Bulgarians who were Serbia's enemies) were truly Serbs.

The modern Greeks on the other hand, infatuated with the discovery of the Ancient Greeks were going overboard promoting "Hellenism" and making territorial claims on Macedonia based on ancient rites. At the same time the same Greeks were making wild claims that all Orthodox Christians were Greeks. Their argument was that if a person belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church they were Greek. Here is what Brailsford has to say about that. "Hellenism claims these peoples because they were civilized by the Greek Orthodox Church. That is a conception which the Western mind grasps with difficulty. It is much as though the Roman Catholic Church should claim the greater part of Europe as the inheritance of Italy. To make the parallel complete we should have to imagine not only an Italian Pope and a College of Cardinals which Italians predominate, but a complete Italian hierarchy. If every Bishop in France and Germany were an Italian, if the official language of the church were not Latin but Italian and if every priest were a political agent working for the annexation of France and Germany to Italy, we should have some analogy to the state of things which actually exist in Turkey" (page 195 Brailsford's Macedonia). Here is what Brailsford has to say about how the Greeks received title to the Orthodox Church. "The Slavonic (Macedonian) Churches had disappeared from Macedonia, and everywhere the Greek Bishops, as intolerant as they were corrupt-'Blind mouths that scarce themselves know how to hold a sheephook'-crushed out the national consciousness, the language, and the intellectual life of their Slav (Macedonian) flocks. It is as a result of this process that the Eastern Church is a Greek Church. The sanctions of 'Hellenism' so far as they rest on the Church, are the wealth of the Phanariots and the venality of the Turks....the Slav libraries in the old monasteries were burned by the Greek Bishops (page 196 Braisford's Macedonia).

After 1878, for a Macedonian to be Hellenized meant that he had to give up his name, his own language, his own culture, his history, his folklore and his heritage. Here is what Karakasidou has to say. "...the ideological content of notions of the Hellenic nation, which far from being ecumenical has shown itself to be intolerant of cultural or ethnic pluralism, has lead many inhabitants of Greek Macedonia to deny or hide those aspects of their own personal or family pasts..." (page 125, Fields of Wheat, Hills of Blood).

Hellenization was never made by choice, only by brute force. One was made to "feel Greek" when it suited the Greeks but the moment one wanted something from the Greeks or one crossed one of the Greeks, they were reminded of their "true identity" and quickly "put in their place". To be Hellenized meant to lose dignity and to suffer constant and unwarranted humiliation because no matter how hard one tried to be a Hellene, they could never measure up. A Hellenized person was neither Greek nor Macedonian but a soul in limbo.

To quote David Holden "To me, philhellenism is a love affair with a dream which envisions 'Greece' and the 'Greeks' not as an actual place or as real people but as symbols of some imagined perfection" (page 12 Greece without Columns). What is Hellenism then?

Before I answer that question, I will once again quote David Holden. "Further back still beyond the War of Independence, when the modern nation-state of Greece came into being for the first time, the whole concept of Greece as a geographical entity that begins to blur before our eyes, so many and various were its shapes and meanings. But if geography can offer us no stable idea of Greece, what can? Not race, certainly; for whatever the Greeks may once have been, ...., they can hardly have had much blood-relationship with the Greeks of the peninsula of today, Serbs and Bulgars, Romans, Franks and Venetians, Turks, Albanians,...,in one invasion after another have made the modern Greeks a decidedly mongrel race. Not politics either; for in spite of that tenacious western legend about Greece as the birthplace and natural home of democracy, the political record of the Greeks is one of a singular instability and confusion in which, throughout history, the poles of anarchy modulated freedom has very rarely appeared. Not religion; for while Byzantium was Christian, ancient Hellas was pagan." (page 23 Greece without Columns). Unlike Macedonia and other Balkan nations who have natural and vibrant languages, Greece artificially created and used (up until the 1970's) an imposed adaptation of the classical language called the Katharevoussa. "Hellenizing" under these conditions not only rendered the Hellenized races mute but also imposed a meaningless and emotionless language on those doing the Hellenization (if you want to learn more about the Greek language controversy read Peter Mackridge's book "The Modern Greek Language").

When Greece was born for the first time in 1832, it was unclear what her national character was. To quote David Holden, " the Greek nation-state was a product of western political intervention-'the fatal idea' as Arnold Toynbee once called it, of exclusive western nationalism impinging upon the multi-national traditions of the eastern world. By extension, therefore, at any rate in theory, it was a child of the Renaissance and of western rationalism..." (page 28 Greece without Columns).

Officially, Greeks call their modern state Hellas, and are officially known as Hellenes, but at the same time they call themselves Romios (from the Turkish Rum millet) implying that they are descendents of the Romans. Greece however, is a derivation of the Latin "Graecea" (page 29, Holden, Greece without Columns) the province of the Western Roman Empire which extended from Mount Olympus to the Peloponnese. Again, to quote David Holden " its international use to describe the sovereign state that currently occupies that territory is merely a reflection of the fact that 'Greece' in this modern sense is literally a western invention" (page 29 Greece without Columns).

If philhellenism is a love affair with a dream, then Hellenism is a dream of a few "evil geniuses" (Phanariots) who sought to destroy what was real in favour of creating something artificial, like a Frankenstein's Monster. Hellenism may be a dream for a few (mad men) but it has been a nightmare for Macedonia. Here is what Karakasidou has to say. "Greek natural identity was not a 'natural development' or the extension of a 'high culture' over the region of Macedonia, although now it is frequently portrayed as so. The ideology of Hellenism imposed a homogeneity on the Macedonian region and its inhabitants" (page 94, Fields of Wheat, Hills of Blood).

If modern Hellenism is a western invention propagated by the Phnariots, then who are the Modern Greeks?

According to historical records, a large majority of the Greeks of Morea that fought during the Greek War of independence were Tosk Albanians that became Hellenized after the 1930's. The Slavs of Peloponisos (what happened to them?), the Vlachs of Larissa, the Albanian Tosks of Epirus (what happened to them?), were also Hellenized. In other words, the Greeks of today are a "forcibly Hellenized diverse collection of people". Even the Greek national dress, the fustanella is fake. The fustanella is the national costume of the Albanian Tosks (page 230 Brailsford's Macedonia).

In addition to desperately trying to define an identity and a language for herself, after 1878 Greece stepped up Hellenization activities inside Macedonia through the Orthodox Church and by employing (bribing) the services of the Turkish authorities. Willing young Macedonian men were enrolled in Greek schools in Athens with promises of education only to be poisoned with Hellenization and Greek nationalist propaganda. Many of these young came back (home) to Macedonia only to be used as agents of Hellenism.

After the creation of the Bulgarian Church, Bulgaria was not far behind in her attempts to instill Bulgarian nationalism in the Macedonian youth. This was most evident when Macedonian young men like Gotse Delchev were expelled from the Bulgarian schools for wanting to use the Macedonian language and to learn Macedonian history. Here is what Radin has to say about that. "In the 1870's, six Macedonian districts seceded from the Exarchateate. Bulgarian schools were destroyed, with the Macedonian teaching intelligentsia organizing students against the Exarchateate. Macedonian literary associations were discovered, to study Macedonian history and culture. The periodical 'Vine' was published to mobilize Macedonians against the vehement propaganda. In 1891, an attempt was made to re-establish the Macedonian Church. This national renaissance significantly produced a Macedonian intelligentsia that was to later prove instrumental in founding IMRO" (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization) (page 45 of A. Michael Radin's book "IMRO and the Macedonian Question").

Russia's rash attempt to gain access to the Mediterranean by creating a "Greater Bulgaria" (San Stefano Treaty), gave the Bulgarians rationale to make territorial claims on Macedonian territory. On top of the Greeks forcibly trying to Hellenize Macedonia, the Macedonian people now faced a new enemy, Bulgarian chauvinism. In the hands of the Turks, Greeks, Bulgarians, Albanians and Serbians, Macedonian misery seemed to flourish as if all the evil in the world was unleashed at once and struck Macedonia with all its fury. What makes Macedonia's misery even more tragic is that the entire world stood by and watched the horrors unfold and did nothing.

While the Greeks employed brutality, the Bulgarians adopted intrigue to sway Macedonians to their side. They were publicly calling for Macedonian autonomy all the while they were promoting a Bulgarian nationalist agenda. In the next decade after 1878, nationalist fever gripped the Balkans. The new nations (Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria) were making exclusive claims not only on Macedonian territory, but also on the Macedonian people, each claiming that Macedonians were Serbs, Greeks or Bulgarians. Each new nation desperately tried to prove its claim by propaganda campaigns, coercion and forcible assimilation. Here is what Brailsford has to say on the subject. "Are the Macedonians Serbs or Bulgars? The question is constantly asked and dogmatically answered in Belgrade and Sofia. But the lesson of history is obviously that there is no answer at all. They are not Serbs, ... On the other hand they could hardly be Bulgarians... They are probably what they were before a Bulgarian or Serbian Empire existed..." (page 101, Macedonia Its Races and their Future). As for the Macedonian's being Greek, this is what Brailsford has to say. "The Greek colonies were never much more than trading centers along the coast, and what was Greek in ancient times is Greek today. There is no evidence that the interior was ever settled by a rural Greek population" (page 91, Brailsford's Macedonia).

"The period immediately following the Berlin Congress demonstrated therefore, that Balkan chauvinist intent was not merely to occupy, govern and exploit Macedonia, but to eradicate the Macedonian culture, and superimpose its own culture upon a people alien to it. By guile, gun, religion and quasi-legal manipulation, the Balkan States attempted to divest the native Macedonians of their language, religion, folklore, literature, traditions and consciousness. The ultimate goal therefore, was to anaesthetize the Macedonian people, and then remold them into Bulgarians, Greeks and Serbians" (page 45 of A. Michael Radin's book "IMRO and the Macedonian Question").

Did it not once occur to Westerners that in the heart of Macedonia, perhaps there was a unique Macedonian culture living there? Did it not once occur to them that perhaps the Macedonians with their multicultural and multiethnic character did not want to be molded to fit the Western profile of what a nation should be? By throwing her back to the Greeks and the Turks, was Macedonia punished for her stubborn ways, for refusing to be molded into a monolithic uni-cultural, pseudo-homogeneous nation? Only those who participated in the 1878 Berlin Congress and who forever committed Macedonia to suffer more cruelty and injustice can truly answer these questions. One thing is for certain however, as the West is now growing old and gaining wisdom and experience it is realizing that the way to peace and prosperity in a small planet is tolerance of minorities, democratic freedom and cultural and national pluralism. Macedonia as it turns out, always had those qualities. As for the rest of the new Balkan States, one day when they realize the error of their ways they will forever bear the shame of what they did to their neighbours, the Macedonians.

I know that words can do no justice to the suffering the Macedonian people endured since 1878, but I will do my best to describe what life was like to be ruled by the Turks, governed by the Greeks, pillaged by the Albanians and robbed and beaten by the villains of society. It has been said that education was a curse in Macedonia. No educated Macedonian lived to a ripe old age. If a man was educated, he died at the hands of his enemies, not because he was educated but because he was feared. The Turks feared him because he may rise up against them. The Greeks feared him because he may oppose them. The Bulgarians feared him because he may expose them. (If you wish to learn more about the horrors committed by the Turks in Macedonia, read Brailsford's book, Macedonia, Its races and their Future).

The 1878 Treaty of Berlin awakened the Moslem Rulers (Turks and Albanians) in the Balkans to the reality that their Empire came close to disintegrating. But instead of searching for a rational solution, the Turks did what they always did best, turn to violence. They took counter measures to suppress the "troublemakers" by extinguishing their rebellious spirit. In practice this manifested itself into a variety of punishments that included the following:

A) Taxes were raised to pay off Western loans. The Turks and Muslim Albanians were a predatory (parasitic) race and produced nothing themselves. Instead they lived off the earning power of the Macedonians and other Christians.

B) To prevent further uprisings and rebellions, the Turks stepped up espionage activities and searches for weapons. In reality however, the weapons searches were nothing more than an excuse to take revenge and further pillage the Macedonian peasants. Those who could afford to pay bribes paid off the Turks and avoided misfortunes. Those who couldn't were tortured and usually beaten to death. If by any chance weapons were found, the entire village was burned to the ground. Even if the weapons belonged to a thug. The Turks were not above shaming or kidnapping Macedonian women either. In fact it was common practice for Muslim soldiers to grab Christian women while conducting raids on villages. (For a Macedonian woman death was preferable over a lifetime of shame). The Macedonians of the Ottoman era were extremely moral people and conducts of this nature were not taken lightly. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could be done to avenge the women, so women carried the burden of shame alone for the rest of their lives. No Christian was allowed to bear arms and defend his family and there was no one to complain to because in most cases the perpetrators and the villains were the law. No Muslim could be punished for doing harm to a Christian, no matter what the crime.

C) In addition to contending with the Turkish authorities, Macedonians faced kidnappings and assaults from the Albanians. Any man, woman or child that ventured too far from the village exposed themselves to the risks of being kidnapped (an old Albanian pastime) by Albanian marauders or by Turkish outlaws who demanded a hefty ransom for a safe return or face death if no ransom was paid.

D) There were also the roving Turkish patrols that traveled the highways and if someone happened to cross paths with them, they would be robbed, beaten and humiliated in a number of different ways depending on the mood of the soldiers.

E) The greatest threat to Macedonian life came from the Bashi-buzouks or armed civilian Muslims. Most of the Bashi-buzouks were Albanian who made a career out of pillaging, burning Macedonian villages and torturing the inhabitants. After 1878, Bashi-buzouk raids escalated to a point where they became intolerable. The Christians had no legal recourse to fight back. Being Muslims, the Bashi-buzouks were immune from legal prosecution. The only way Macedonians could fight back was to flee to the mountains and join the outlaws.

F) Let's not forget the annual routine homage and tributes paid to the Albanian clans for not burning the villages and crops, the local policemen for not humiliating and beating family members and the local hoods for not assaulting and bullying the women and children.

G) It would be an injustice if I didn't mention the way Turks treated women. No Macedonian woman was safe from the Turks. If a woman caught a Turk's eye there was no escape, she would be plucked kicking and screaming from her home and family, converted to Islam by force and thrown into a harem to become an object of lust. No woman was safe, not even a bride on her wedding day.

I want to mention here that after the Western Powers decided to do something about the Ottoman cruelty against the Macedonians, they began to record complaints from the people. Macedonians were encouraged to report acts of injustice and cruelty to the European consuls. All the complaints were recorded in what was referred to as "the blue books". What happened to the "blue books"? If anyone has any knowledge of their whereabouts please let me know. It is very important for the Macedonian people that these "blue books" be found.

By the time taxes and bribes were paid to the authorities, the warlords and the town hoods, a Macedonian family was left with 25 to 40 percent of their meager annual earnings to live on. To make ends meet Macedonian men were accustomed to taking on additional jobs within the Ottoman Empire or abroad to make enough to survive the winter.

It has been said that after twenty-five years of achieving autonomy, Bulgaria was thriving economically thanks to the cheap labour of the Macedonian migrant workers.

I want to mention here that Macedonians have always earned their living by sweat and blood and deserve more that they have been dealt with in the past. The maesto's (maistori) of ancient Rome were skilled Macedonians not Greeks as modern history claims them to be. Even the word "history" comes from the Macedonian saying "tie i storia" which translates to "they did that" or "they made that".

The West, including the USA and Canada were to some extent, also beneficiaries of cheap Macedonian labour. Western traders flooded Macedonia with cheaply manufactured goods and bankrupted the local (antiquated) industry (run by the guilds). Raw materials purchased from Macedonia were manufactured using cheap Macedonian labour and the finished products were sold back to the Macedonians at a profit.

A Macedonian could not rise above his tyrannical existence on his own because every time he did he was killed for his education, robbed of his wealth, kicked out of his home for his lands, murdered for defending his family and humiliated for his existence. This is not what Macedonians wanted for themselves, but those powerful enough, refused to help them. The Greek clergy who were responsible for the well being of the Macedonian people were the first to condemn them. Their first priorities were to Hellenize them so that they could steal their lands. The Greeks with their "superior attitude" despised the Macedonians because of their race (the Slavs were the enemy) and because of their agrarian abilities (which the Greeks loathed).

The Super Powers in their zeal to dominate the Balkans found themselves at odds with each other and by 1878 were either content with "doing nothing" or stifled by frustration and "turned their backs" on the mess they created.

Turkey, for the West was the goose that kept on laying golden eggs.

No excuses or apologies from the English and the French can make up for unleashing Turkey and Hellenism on Macedonia after 1878. No Macedonian, and for that matter, no human being should ever forgive the Western Powers for putting profit ahead of human life and intentionally turning their backs on the Macedonian people. No argument can convince me that "that was the right thing to".

Labeling people "Slav" and "Barbarian" because they were not educated does not make them inhuman and certainly does not excuse the "civilized" western societies for tormenting them. Here is what Petrovska has to say. "It is erroneous to dismiss peasant culture as backwards, simply because they are not literate cultures. Indeed the opposite is the case. Children were educated by way of story telling and folklore, which contained morals and lessons about life, relationships and their places in the world" (page 167, Children of the Bird Goddess). (If you want to learn more about life in Macedonia there is a gem of a little book written by Kita Sapurma and Pandora Petrovska entitled "Children of the Bird Goddess", an oral history that spans over 100 years and explores the lives of four generations of Macedonian women. You MUST read this book, you will not be disappointed).

One has only to examine Macedonian traditions, customs, dress, folklore and attitude towards life to find an "old race" full of vigour, enduring hardships, living as it always lived close to nature, always craving everlasting peace. Macedonian songs are timeless records of sorrow and of hope that "someday this too will pass".

Macedonians have survived to this day because they have a caring quality and a capacity to give and forgive, never wanting anything in return. Anyone who has visited a Macedonian home or has lived among Macedonians can attest to that.

Macedonia had done no ill against any nation to deserve her punishment from the Turks and the Greeks. Macedonians did not desire to be labeled "barbarian Slavs" or choose to be illiterate. It was "pure prejudice" on the part of Western Societies that degraded the Macedonian people to barbarian status and created the conditions for the Turks and the Greeks to abuse them. The West's artificial creation of Greece and Hellenism and the Greek quest for purity and national homogeneity is what upset the "natural balance" in the Balkans. Macedonia, since Alexander's time has been a "worldly" nation and has maintained her multi-ethnic, multi-cultural pluralistic character. If you take the Turks out of Macedonia in the 19th century you will find a society of many nations working and living together in peace, each doing what comes naturally. Anyone who has lived in Macedonia can attest to that. It has always been "outsiders" that shifted the balance and disturbed the peace in the Balkans. While Western Europe slept through her "dark ages" the people of the Balkans lived in relative harmony for over 1,100 years. Each race played an important role in maintaining the social and political balance and the economic self-sufficiency of the region.

During the 19th century almost all Macedonians lived in village communities. There were no Greeks living in the Macedonian mainland and only a small minority lived in the coastal towns, islands and the larger cities. The majority of the villages were Macedonian with the odd Vlach village nestled here and there in the mountains. Macedonians spoke the Macedonian language and lived an agrarian life working the lands. Among the Macedonians lived some Vlachs who spoke both Vlach and Macedonian. Their main occupation was retail trade, running the local grocery stores and retail businesses. In addition to the Vlachs, were the roving Gypsies who traveled from village to village trading their wares. They traded pack animals like horses, mules and donkeys, repaired old and sold new flour sifters, loom reeds, and other fine crafts. They bartered with the village women and traded beads, string and sewing needles for beans and walnuts. To those that could afford it, they sold silk kerchiefs, hand made baskets and purses. With those who couldn't afford them they traded their wares for vegetables, eggs and a few bales of hay. Among themselves the Gypsies spoke their Gypsy dialect but with their customers they spoke Macedonian.

Another race that frequented the Macedonian landscape were the panhandlers from Epirus and Thessaly who performed magic on old copper pots and pans and made spoons and forks shine like mirrors. In addition to their own language, they too spoke Macedonian and were open to bartering for their wares and services.

Carpenters, stone masons, barrel makers, and woodcutters came from far and wide. They came from as far as Albania or as close as the poorest Macedonian village. For a fair wage, some rakija (alcohol spiced with anise during distillation) and three meals a day, they built fences, porches, staircases and entire houses.

For the Macedonians, the soil provided most of life's necessities, the rest was bought, traded or bartered for.

The only desires Macedonians had in the 19th century were to rid themselves of the tyranny of the oppressive Turks. This was most evident in the communique's, appeals and manifesto's of the legendary Macedonia Revolutionary Committee (more about this in part III).

While Macedonia was being choked by the Turkish noose of oppression, tormented by Hellenism, and frustrated by Bulgarian deception, the Greek army in 1881annexed Thessaly and in 1885 the Bulgarian army (with Russia's support) annexed Eastern Rumelia. While the Ottoman Empire was crumbling at the edges, it was tightening its grip ever harder on Macedonia. Looting, burning homes and murders were on the rise. More and more Macedonians were made homeless and forced to become outlaws. The brave ones took up arms and fought back only to see that their actions caused more deaths and misery. The Turks and their Albanian allies didn't care who they killed. If one Turk or Albanian died in battle, the army took revenge on the next village they encountered. Thousands of innocent women and children were murdered in revenge killings not to mention the assaults on countless young girls. Occupied homes with people inside were burned down and the inhabitants shot as target practice as they ran out to save themselves from the fire. Those too old or too sick to move died a horrible fiery death.

Many of the survivors from the burned out villages joined the outlaws in the mountains and as their ranks swelled they began to organize and fight back.

Western Europeans and Russians, on the other hand, were flooding the Ottoman Balkans on vacation, to do business or to lend a helping hand as missionaries or relief workers. They enjoyed all the freedoms and privileges as honorary citizens of the Ottoman Empire under the protection of their county's flag, and paid nothing for the honour bestowed upon them, not even taxes.

To be continued in part III, events leading up to the Ilinden Uprising.

Before I finish with part II, in view of what is happening in Macedonia today, I would like to say a few words abut how the Albanians came to be in Macedonia.

It has been said that soon after the Turks conquered Albania, Albanians began to convert to Islam. As Muslims, the Albanians to a large extent enjoyed the same privileges and advantages as their conquerors. The advantages of becoming a Muslim as opposed to staying Christian were obvious. Those who wanted to retain title to their lands did not hesitate to convert. In fact many realized that by converting they could amass wealth and increase their own importance at the expense of their Christian neighbours.

By the 19th century, about two-thirds of the Albanians embraced Islam and served in almost every capacity in the Ottoman administration including the Sultan's palace guard. Also by the 19th century a great deal of the Ottoman services became corrupt and self-serving. Being Muslims, the Albanians were protected from prosecution of crimes committed against the Christians. This encouraged them to perform predatory acts like kidnappings for ransom, illegal taxation, extortion, and forceful possession of property.

There are two documented ways, that I have come across, that describe how Albanians of the 19th century came to live in Macedonia, among the Macedonians.

1. To keep the Macedonians in check, the Turks created and strategically positioned Albanian villages inside Macedonia among the Macedonian Villages.

2. By expelling or killing a few families in a Macedonian village, Albanian bandits could claim squatters rights and move in. By the next generation, the children of the squatters would become the "begs" of the village which made them legitimate landowners. Being in charge of the village they then appointed their own family members and trusted friends into positions of authority like tax farmers and policemen. In this manner, they could rule unchallenged.

Forceful occupation of villages was most prevalent during campaigns in the absence of the Turkish army. When the Turks were sent to fight against Russia in the East or against Napoleon in Egypt, the Albanians sought their chance and moved in unabated. Here is an excerpt from Brailsford's book about the habits of some Albanians. "He will rob openly and with violence but he will not steal...He will murder you without remorse if he conceives that you have insulted him"...(page 224 Macedonia its Races and their future).

To be fair, I want to mention that Albanians have their good qualities as well. Brailford speaks very highly of them when it comes to loyalty and honesty. As I mentioned earlier, under the right conditions Albanians can peacefully co-exist with other nationalities and be a contributing factor to the wealth of a nation. The Macedonians have always co-existed side by side with the Albanians. Also, the Albanians that fought to liberate Greece in Morea did not fight for Hellenism, they fought for the good of all the people of the Balkans, including the Macedonians.

There was also that one-third of the Albanian population who remained faithful to Christianity that equally suffered the injustices of the Greek clergy and the Ottoman authorities, that also deserves mentioning.

"People who originate from one and the same race, speak the same language, live together in harmony, and have the same customs, songs and mentality, constitute a nation, and the place where they live is their homeland. In this way, the Macedonians are a nation and their homeland is Macedonia" (Gjorgji Pulevski, 1875).

You can contact the author via his e-mail:


1. A. Michael Radin, IMRO and the Macedonian Question, Kultura

2. The University of Cyril and Methodius, DOCUMENTS of the Struggle of the Macedonian People for Independence and a Nation-State Volumes I & II

3. The World Book Encyclopedia

4. Vasil Bogov, Macedonian Revelation, Historical Documents rock and shatter Modern Political Ideology

5. H. N. Brailsford, Macedonia Its Races and their Future, Arno Press, New York 1971

6. David Holden, Greece Without Columns, The Making of Modern Greeks, J. B. Lippincott, Philadelphia & New York

7. George Macaulay Trevelyan, British History in the Nineteenth Century (1782 - 1901), Longmans 1927

8. Kita Sapurma & Pandora Petkovska, Children of the Bird Goddess, Pollitecon

9. Anastasia N. Karakasidou, Fields of Wheat, Hills of Blood, Passage to Nationhood in Greek Macedonia, 1870 - 1990, Chicago

10. Peter Mackridge, The Modern Greek Language, A Descriptive Analysis of Standard Modern Greek, Oxford 1985