Foreign consuls about Macedonia in 1903

Table of Contents
1 Peran, 8 Jan. 1903 Constans to Delcasse (AMAE) The Exarchate’s attitude to the planned uprising
2 Monastir, 10 Jan. 1903 Stepski to Goluchowski (HHStA) Preparations for the uprising. The role of the Bulgarian commercial agent in Monastir.
3 Thessaloniki, 26 Jan. 1903 Biliotti to Whitehead (FO) Patriarchists are intimidated by the committees (central Macedonia). Preparations for the uprising.
4 Thessaloniki, 31 Jan. 1903 Biliotti to Whitehead (FO) The authorities try to deal with the armed bands in central and N.E. Macedonia.
5 Thessaloniki, 5 Feb. 1903 Biliotti to Whitehead (FO) A former officer in the Bulgarian army is a teacher in Monastir.
6 Thessaloniki, 14 Feb. 1903 Biliotti to Whitehead (FO) Turkish atrocities are being used to stir up sympathy in Europe.
7 Thessaloniki, 21 Feb. 1903 Hickel to Goluchowski (HHStA) Preparations for an insurrectional movement. The organisation of IMRO’s local committees.
8 Thessaloniki, 24 Feb. 1903 Biliotti to Whitehead (FO) The committees are inciting local people to revolutionary action.
9 Thessaloniki, 25 Feb. 1903 Biliotti to Whitehead (FO) An insurrectional movement is predicted for the spring. Appraisal of the armed band’s activities.
10 Thessaloniki, 9 Mar. 1903 Biliotti to O’Conor (FO) The activities of Bulgarian diplomatic officials as agents in Macedonia.
11 Thessaloniki, 11 Mar. 1903 Biliotti to O’Conor (FO) The committees’ political objects in Macedonia.
12 Monastir, 11 Mar. 1903 Kral to Goluchowski (HHStA) Preparations for the uprising. Economic pressure and atrocities by the committees.
13 Vienna, 12 Mar. 1903 Reverseaux to Delcasse (AMAE) Assessment of Bulgaria’s attitude to the uprising brewing in Macedonia.
14 Monastir, 15 Mar. 1903 Gauthier to Constans (AMAE) Preparations for the uprising. Economic pressure and atrocities by the commitees.
15 Thessaloniki, 24 Mar. 1903 Biliotti to O’Conor (FO) Pressure and blackmail by the armed bands in N.E. Macedonia.
16 Thessaloniki, 28 Mar. 1903 Steeg to Delcasse (AMAE) Commitee activity in E. Macedonia. A letter from Kapetan Alexis in Poroia.
17 Thessaloniki, 3 April 1903 Biliotti to O’Conor (FO) Greek reactions in Monastir.
18 Monastir, 17 April 1903 Kral to Goluchowski (HHStA) Sarafov’s activities in the Morihovo disstrict. Preparations for the uprising.
19 Monastir, 20 April 1903 Kral to Goluchowski (HHStA) Chakalarof’s activities. Pressure on Patriarchist communities in the Kastoria district.
20 Sarajevo, 21 April 1903 Excerpt from the newspaper (AMAE) The commitees’ political asprirations Bosnische Post of 14 April 1903 in Macedonia and the Turkish reprisals.
21 Thessaloniki, 25 April 1903 Hickel to Goluchowski (HHStA) The reaction of the Patriarchists. The commitees apply economic pressure on the Moslems.
22 Paris, 14/26 April 1903 Note from the French (AMAE) The committees perpetrate Foreign Ministry on atrocities against Patriarchists. Deliyannis’ memorandum
23 Thessaloniki, 30 April 1903 Telegram from Biliotti (FO) Participation of the Bulgarian army in the preparations for the uprising.
24 Plovdiv, 6 May 1903 Degrans to Delcasse (AMAE) Bulgaria’s attitude to the expected uprising.
25 Thessaloniki, 12 May 1903 Biliotti to O’Conor (FO) Atrocities by the committees in E. Macedonia.
26 Thessaloniki, 12 May 1903 Hickel to Goluchowski (HHStA) Bulgaria’s participation in the preparations. Exarchists return to the Patriarchate.
27 Monastir, 21 May 1903 Constans to Delcasse (AMAE) Exploitation of the atrocities. Bulgaria’s attitude to the uprising.
28 Thessaloniki, 1 June 1903 Biliotti to O’Conor (FO) Suggested measures to protect the harvest in view of the uprising.
29 Skopje, 1 June 1903 Fontana to Biliotti (FO) The committee’s political goals and the sentiments of the people of Macedonia.
30 Monastir, 1 June 1903 Kral to Goluchowski (HHStA) Secret briefing of the Bulgarian bands.
31 Monastir, 13 June 1903 Gauthier to Constans (AMAE) Initiation of villages into the uprising. The case of Andartiko in the Florina district.
32 Monastir, 16 June 1903 Gauthier to Constans (AMAE) Appraisal of the preparations for the uprising. The people are tired.
33 Thessaloniki, 1 July 1903 Hickel to Goluchowski (HHStA) Sarafof’s statements at a meeting of leaders of the armed bands.
34 From J. Stephanopoli’s book, (AMAE) Bulgarian propaganda in Madedonia Bulgares contre Hellenes and the Greeks.
35 Monastir, 22 July 1903 Kral to Goluchowski (HHStA) Karavangelis’ and Chakalarof’s activities in the Kastoria district.
36 Thessaloniki, 23 July 1903 Graves to O’Conor (FO) Estimates that the uprising is about to begin. Pressure on the Moslem communities.
37 Thessaloniki, 28 July 1903 Steeg to Delcasse (AMAE) Preparations for and strategy of the uprising.
38 Thessaloniki, 31 July 1903 Graves to O’Conor (FO) The situation in Gevgelija. The committees’ influence is based on promises.
39 Monastir, 31 July 1903 McGregor to Graves (FO) The Patriarchists’ reaction to the committees. Karavangelis’ activities in Kastoria.
40 Monastir, 1 Aug. 1903 Kral to Goluchowski (HHStA) The Patriarchists’ reaction to the committees. Vangelis Stebeniotis’ activities.
41 Monastir, 3 Ayg. 1903 Gauthier to Constans (AMAE) Tense situation in the town of Monastir.
42 Thessaloniki, 4 Aug. 1903 Graves to O’Conor (FO) The uprising begins in the region fo Florina and Almoria. Crops are set on fire.
43 Monastir, 4 Aug. 1903 McGregor to Graves (FO) The committees’ first acts. The uprising spreads to N. and W. Macedonia.
44 Monastir, 4 Aug. 1903 Kral to Goluchowski (HHStA) Escalation of the uprising. Attacks on Moslem villages.
45 Thessaloniki, 6 Aug. 1903 Vernazza to Delcasse (AMAE) The uprising spreads to N. and W. Macedonia.
46 Monastir, 6 Aug. 1903 McGregor to Graves (FO) Account of the uprising. Occupation of Krushevo. Morihovo controlled by the committees.
47 Paris, 10 Aug. 1903 Memorandum from the (AMAE) Progress of the operations. Attacks Ottoman Embassy to the on Moslem villages. French Foreign Ministry
48 Monastir, 10 Aug. 1903 Telegram from McGregor (FO) Progress of the operations. The committees occupy Nymfaio.
49 Therapia, 11 Aug. 1903 Constans to Delcasse (AMAE) Progress of the uprising and the psychological state of the enlisted villagers.
50 Thessaloniki, 12 Aug. 1903 Steeg to Delcasse (AMAE) The revoit in the vilayet of Monastir. The committees’ strategic and political goals.
51 Athens, 14 Aug. 1903 Maurouard to Delcasse (AMAE) Protests by the Greek Parliament. Bulgaria’s responsibility.
52 Monastir, 21 Aug. 1903 Gauthier to Constans (AMAE) The uprising continues. The army’s operations in the Florina and Krushevo districts.
53 Therapia, 22 Aug. 1903 Constans to Delcasse (AMAE) The uprising streads to the vilayet of Adrianople. Suspicions of Bulgarian collaboration.
54 Ahtens, 22 Aug. 1903 Maurouard to Delcasse (AMAE) The Greek Parliament protests about the events in Krushevo.
55 Thessaloniki, 25 Aug. 1903 Steeg to Delcasse (AMAE) The events in Krushevo. Action by the committees and Turkish reprisals.
56 Monastir, 25 Aug. 1903 Kral to Goluchowski (HHStA) Bulgarian military presence in Krushevo.
57 Monastir, 31 Aug. 1903 Kral to Goluchowski (HHStA) Plans to interrupt the harvest for the sake of the uprising. Collaboration between I.M.R.O. and the Verhovists.
58 Monastir, 1 Sept. 1903 Kral to Goluchowski (HHStA) The Bulgarian military plays a decisive part in the succes of the uprising.
59 Thessaloniki, 5 Sept. 1903 Telegram from Graves (FO) The uprising is subsiding, but the Bashibuzuks continue to harass Patriarchists.
60 Monastir, 8 Sept. 1903 McGregor to Graves (FO) The events in Kleisoura and Nymfaio in the Florina district.
61 Thessaloniki, 10 Sept. 1903 Lazzaro to the Consulate (NAUSA) The progress of the Turkish General and the Embassy opperations in the Florina district in Constantinople and the recapture of Krushevo.
62 Thessaloniki, 10 Sept. 1903 Lazzaro to Smith-Lyle (NAUSA) The uprising is subsiding. Fears for the missions.
63 Thessaloniki, 14 Sept. 1903 Steeg to Delcasse (AMAE) The Verhovist committee and I.M.R.O joined forces, despite their theoretical differences.
64 Thessaloniki, 23 Sept. 1903 Graves to O’Conor (FO) The Christians fear Turkish reprisals.
65 Monastir, 27 Sept. 1903 McGregor to Graves (FO) Denunciation of atrocities and reparations in the vilayet of Monastir.
66 Monastir, 28 Sept. 1903 Kral to Goluchowski (HHStA) Men and materiel continue to arrive from Bulgaria.
67 Thessaloniki, 11 Oct. 1903 Graves to O’Conor (FO) The Turkish army continues its mopping up operations.
68 Monastir, 21 Oct. 1903 McGregor to Graves (FO) The events in Krushevo according to an on the spot British inquiry.
69 Monastir, 18 Oct. 1903 Kral to Goluchowski (HHStA) A lieutenant of the Bulgarian army took part in the uprising.
70 Monastir, 21 Dec. 1903 von Alth to Goluchowski (HHStA) Reaction in the Kastoria district to the Exarchist Metropolitan’s tour

 The Documents

1. The French Ambassador Jean E. Constans to the Foreigh Minister Theophile Delcasse.

Peran, January 8th, 1903

[AMAE/NS Turquie-Macedoine, vol.30, ff.23r-25r, No.4].

Monsieur le Ministre,

Dans une depeche adressee le 2 Janvier a Votre Excellence et dont il a communique le duplicata a l’Ambassade notre Consul a Salonique dit que, d’apres ses renseignements, les comites macedoniens auraient resolu de tenter au mois de Mars prochain le soulevement general du pays. Monsieur Steeg, prevoit que, meme si les comitadjis echouaient dans ce plan d’ensemble les troubles locaux , qu’ ils reussiraient a causer, compteraient beaucoup plus d’adherents que ceux de l’an dernier et seraient incomparablement plus graves.

Les quelques indices que l’Ambassade a pu recueillir, concordent avec ces previsions de Mr.Steeg. Je puis notamment signaler a Votre Excellence le langage que m’a tenu l’Exarque bulgare quand il est venu me faire visite a l’occasion du jour de l’an. Deja le 4 Novembre, dans ma depeche No.195, j’avais pu indiquer qu’un certain revirement s’etait produit dans les idees de Mr. Joseph; cette foisci, j’ai constate que l’evolution etait complete; aussi bien, lui meme, a pris soin de me le dire… “Jusqu’a maintenant j’avais invariablement soutenu que le seul moyen raisonable et pratique pour aider a la realisation des aspirations bulgares etait la formation de la jeunesse et la propagation de nos sentiments par l’ecole et j’avais toujours condamne, comme insensees, toutes les moindres velleites d’insurrection. Aujourd’ hui, je crois que le moment de l’action est venu et que la prudence doit faire place a l’hardiesse. Et l’exarque me laissa assez clairement entendre qu’il appelait de tous ses voeux l’insurrection.

Bien entendu, en public Mr. Joseph tient un tout autre langage et il recommande le calme et la soumission au sultan. J’ai [dans ma depeche no 215 du 29 Novembre] fait incidement allusion a une evengelique qu’il venait d’adresser dans ce sens a son clerge. Mais il est certain maintenant que le mot d’ordre donne en cachette par ce prelat est tout different. Or, en pays d’Orient une inspiration politique venant du chef d’une eglise a sur tous ses coreligionnaires une influence determinante. Si donc d’ici au printemps pour un motif quelconque qui n’ existe pas aujourd’ hui, une direction opposee ne leur a pas ete donnee par Mr. Joseph, il faut s’attendre a voir tous les tenants de l’Exarchat en Macedoine se lancer unanimement dans l’insurrection.


2. The Austrian Vice-Consul Ritter von Stepski to the Foreign Minister Count Agenor von Goluchowski

Monastir, January 10th, 1903

[HHStA PA XXXVIII/Konsulat Monastir 1903, vol.392, No.1].

Hochgeborener Graf

Am 5. l. Mts. ist in der Leitung der hiesigen, bulgarischen Handels-Agentie ein Wechsel eingetreten.

Der bisherige Agent, Herr P. Mikhailoff, welcher in dieser Eigenschaft seit 2. November 1898 thaetig war, ist abberufen und in den Ruhestand versetzt worden.

Mit seiner Nachfolge -vorderhand als Gerent der Agentie- wurde der fruehere Secretaer der bulgarischen Handels-Vertretung in Salonich, Dr. H. Koluscheff betraut.

Ueber diesen aeusserst schlauen Mann, der unter dem Deckmantel der Humanitaet und politischen Gleichgueltigkeit wohl auch hier die bulgarische Insurections-Bewegung -wenn nicht leiten- so doch nach Moeglichkeit unterstuetzen duerfte, hatte ich, waehrend meiner Gerenz in Salonich des Oeftern zu berichten die Ehre.

Ich gestatte mir, hier auch eine Beobachtung in Erinnerung zu bringen, die Herr General-Consul Hickel anzustellen und anzuberichten Gelegegenheit hatte.

“So oft Herr Koluscheff im Consular-Bezirke Reisen unternommen hatte, wurden, kurz darauf in den von ihm besuchten Ortschaften politische Morde veruebt.”

Dass die Thaetigkeit des neuen “Handels” – Agenten nicht zur Beruhigung der hiesigen bulgarophilen Slaven beitragen wird, darf wohl mit ziemlicher Sicherheit vorausgesagt werden.

Die Ernennung Koluscheff’s soll, wie ich aus sicherer Quelle erfahre, auf directen Befehl S. H. des Fuersten von Bulgarien erfolgt sein.

Waehrend des verflossenen Herbstes hat Fuerst Ferdinand, Koluscheff des Oeftern zu Sich befohlen und ihn ausgezeichnet.

Das besondere Wohlgefallen Seiner Hoheit soll unter anderem folgende scherzhafte Bemerkung Koluscheffs hervorgerufen haben:

“Der Sultan moege Ferdinand Bey, den Vali von Bulgarien, rasch auch zum Vali von Macedonien bestellen -dann werde daselbst sofort Frieden herrschen.”


3. The British Consul General Sir Alfred Biliotti

to the British Charge d’ Affaires J. B. Whitehead

Thessaloniki, January 26th, 1903

[F.O.195/2156, ff.76r-80v, No.20].


Two years ago some Greco-Vlachs, i.e. Wallachians who are educated exclusively in Greek schools and embued with Greek ideas, who in some parts speak nothing but Greek, and form, in the Vilayet of Monastir the bulk of the Macedonian Greek population, requested the permission of the Patriarchate to use the Roumanian language in their churches. The Patriarchate refused but the Exarchate acceded to the request, and this false step on the party of the former caused the first split in the Greco-Vlach party by inducing a number of Greco-Vlachs to throw in their lot with the Exarchate.

These new converts were, as is usually the case, more fervent than the Exarchists themselves and bashed by the Committees’ bands resorted to intimidation and murder to coarse their compatriots who had remained faithful to the Patriarchate to join them.

One of the first Greco-Vlach villages affected was Oshin in the Caza of Ghevgheli, at the instigation of the Exarchist inhabitants of which two of the most influential Patriarchists were murdered in August last by a Bulgarian band under a certain Giovanni or Yovanoff of Ghevgheli. About three months ago, as I mentioned in my report No. 198 of November 9, 1902, he called at Oshin with his band and that of another leader, Arghiri, turned out at the Greek schoolmasters, appointed Roumanians (non-Bulgarian-speaking) and tried to induce the Orthodox priests to turn Exarchists, but failing in this they insisted on their reading the liturgy in Roumanian. On the priests’ pleading ignorance of the language Yovanoff gave them six months to learn it.

Since their other chiefs have joined Yovanoff and Arghiri, viz. Pavlo, who died lately, Athanassi, Karadouka, and Apostoli, but the men under them do not exceed forty, a number which may, however, be increased at any time by recruits from among the natives.

These chiefs have continued the system initiated at Oshin, at Koupa, Houma, Longountza, and Loubnitsa, neighbouring villages of Ghevgheli, where also the Patriarchists are in the majority. In the village of Ghera Kortzi, where they form the minority, one of the most influential among them was murdered in broad day light while working in his field by a Bulgarian band some three weeks ago for refusing to recant. Papa Nicola, Orthodox priest of Livadi, another Greco-Vlach village some five hours distance from Goumendje is being threatened with death for remaining Patriarchist and if he is murdered the whole village will join the Exarchate from fear.

Meanwhile the forty men forming these Bulgarian bands live at the expense and in the houses of the Orthodox (or Roum, as they are officially termed, whether Greeks or Vlachs, in contradiction to the Exarchists), and no longer of the Bulgarian peasants, thus shifting the onus of supposed complicity from the latter to the former, as reported in one of my previous despatches.

The villages in the southwestern district of Ghevgheli, Gorpop, Boemitza, Bogdanza, Bores (or Bogros), Stoyakovo, Matchoukovo etc. are only in part Exarchist but the villages of Yenidje Vardar, Kriva, Barovitza, Tchernareka, Petges, Ramna, Petrovo with Cofalia (or Corfali) in Salonica are entirely Orthodox. None of these are, however, being pressed just now by the bands to join the Exarchate nor to dismiss their Greek schoolmasters but they have been warned to hold themselves ready to take up arms when ordered to do so in a few months. In the meantime they are threatened with death if they should denounce the bands, for whose reception they are ordered to have a house and provisions in constant readiness.

All these details some of which I have already had the honour of reporting, e.g. the payment of the taxes to the Committees agents and not to Government, the submittal of cases to the Committees representatives and not to the local tribunals, the rape of Dimitris’ daughter at Moouin for her father’s refusal to join the bands and (as I did not know at the time) the exaction from him of twenty five pounds, have only lately come to light. The poor wretches, who suffered, being afraid to even visit Salonica for fear of being suspected of having come to denounce their oppressors and only lately have a few dared to come secretly and, explaining their position, enquire what they can do for themselves or what can can be done for them. They trembled lest the bands should discover what would assuredly cost them their lives.

The Vali himself is at a loss how to relieve the Patriarchists. He told me a fortnight ago that he had summoned the Kaimakams of Ghevgheli and Yenidje Vardar and secretly arranged with them to invest all the villages mentioned above on a given day and in case of need to repeat the operation until successful, and also to send out flying columns. But nothing has been done, nor do I anticipate any very brilland result from such a plan even if carried out properly and thoroughly with the strong force required since many of the Komitajis are villagers against whom it would be difficult to prove anything, while the strangers have secured themselves against denunciation by the terrorism which they have established, and would succeed in slipping through the lines.

Want of foresight on the part of the Government has, I fear, allowed matters to go too far for any remedy to be easily discoverable. The late Halil Rifaat Pasha was induced by the dread of an “atrocities outcry”, which has after all been raised, to allow the small minority of new-made Exarchists to share the Churches of the Patriarchists, who naturally regarded them as schismatics and to use the Bulgarian Liturgy -or to cause the closure of the Churches for months, thus depriving their original proprietors of the means of fulfilling their religious duties, even on such holidays as Christmas and Easter. The support thus given to the Exarchists was the more regrettable that it encouraged the revolutionary Committees to attain their end by assassinating the priests whom they could not bribe and the notables whom they could not coerce.

I frequently called the successive Valis’ attention to this policy as detrimental to the interests of their Government, but in answer they all said that they were acting orders from the Porte which they could not disregard.

The only other band which is known to exist in this Vilayet is that of Alexis of Poroia. The daring which prompted his attempt on the train (as reported in my despatch No. 13 of the 17 inst.) near the station of Poroia proves how far the bands have established themselves or, at least, how inadequate are the means employed by the local authorities hitherto in coping with them.

The sufferings of the Greeks, described above, extend also to those Bulgarians and Vlachs who are Patriarchists and can only be remedied by the extermination of the few now existing bands, which if not destroyed will form the nucleus of larger bands in the spring. Only exceptionally severe and thorough measures can effect this and only the appointment of the most trustworthy officers for the work can prevent an “atrocities outcry”.


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