The De-Bulgarization of Vardar Macedonia – How the Lie was Created

Yugoslavia was originally formed as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes after World War I, a state without ethnic homogenity. The Serbian national element was the most powerful, and Yugoslavia has always been some version of a Greater Serbia. Vardar Macedonia, the main portion of the geographical district “Macedonia,” was an­nexed to Serbia in 1913, under the name South Serbia, There were two opposing Serbian theories concerning the amalgamation of Macedonia into Serbia, Serbian aca­demic Jovan Cvjich asserted that the Slavs in Macedonia were Serbs, not Bulgarians. The other approach was ad­vanced by Serbian diplomat Stoyan Novakovich, who contended that the Bulgarians in Macedonia could not be made into Serbs,Therefore they should be transformed into Macedonians


Following Soviet dictator. Stalin s line of “divide et im-pera, or dividing larger nations into smaller ones, the organization for the world s communist parties set up by the Soviets, (the Comintern) declared in 1934 that the “Macedonians”, the Thracians, and the Dobrudjans con­stituted separate nations distinct from the Bulgarians.1943, at the Second Anti-Fascist Assembly of the Peoples Liberation (AVNOJ) in Yaitsc, within the framework of the reorganization of the state of Yugoslavia into a federal peoples republic, six peoples republics were established: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and “Macedonia”. The Communist leaders, despite the absence of any Macedonian represen­tatives at the assembly, declared the formation of the Peo­ples Republic of Macedonia as a part of Yugoslavia. This decision was confirmed on August 2, 1944, in the Prohor Pehinski Monastery, when a separate “Macedonian lan­guage” was decreed. The explanation was that such a lan­guage was needed in administration. Immediately after this meeting Yugoslav leader Josip Broz iito established a commission to produce a written Macedonian language. The commission worked under the direct control of the Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party. The language was manipulated in a way that could be characterized as Serbianizing the Bulgarian language, us­ing, of course, as a basis the dialects that were character­istic of the district. All the literature of Macedonian writ­ers* memoirs of Macedonian leaders, and important documents had to be translated from Bulgarian into the newly invented “Macedonian”. Thus the Comintern’s decision coincided with Serbian interests. In

With the establishment of the Republic of Macedonia, which covered 10.5 percent of the total area of Yugoslavia, the Yugoslav government had three objectives; to strengthen southern Yugoslavia by removing Bulgarian in­fluence; to make Macedonia as a whole, not just the Yu­goslav part, a connecting link for the establishment of a federation of Balkan peoples; and to create a Slavic con­sciousness that would inspire identification with Yugosla­via, Thus the historians of the Yugoslav Republic of Mac­edonia started declaring that Macedonia as a whole was a Slavic country both in its historical tradition and in its ethnic composition. For this reason, they claimed, it had to be united and form a unified state. The other two parts, Aegean Macedonia and Pirin Macedonia, would have to be restored, i.e., to be united with Yugoslav Macedonia,

The new policy really meant the denationalizing of the Macedonians (or the creation of a new Macedonian iden­tity). After World War II many intellectuals who opposed the denationalizational policy of Yugoslavia were perse­cuted and sent to prison. The first trials started May 28, 1945, In Skopje alone, eighteen trials were conducted against Bulgarians. Of the 226 accused, 22 were sentences to death, and the others to long years in prison. Similar trials took place elsewhere in Yugoslavia.

In September 1945 a “Macedonian” organization, the the Democratic Front “Ilinden 1903,” sent a lengthy letter co the wartime Allied governments. After cataloguing the sufferings of Bulgarians in Macedonia, it stated that “Without Free Macedonia, there will not be peace in the Balkans.” The group was accused by the Tito government of terrorist activities, and its leaders were sentenced by the Yugoslavs to long prison terms. Around the end of 1945 the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) was reorganized and began an illegal struggle. In 1946 IMRO issued a Memorandum to the Great Powers, expressing again the sufferings of the Bulgarian popula­tion in Yugoslav Macedonia. The leaders were arrested but were defended by the Communist prime minister of Mac­edonia, Metody Andonov-Chento. Though a Commu­nist, Chento also felt himself a Bulgarian. He was sen­tenced to twelve years in prison, and the delegation from the great powersUSSR, United States, France, Great Britainwas not allowed to meet him.

Under the influence of IMRO many pro-Bulgarian or­ganizations arose. Trial after trial followed in “Macedonia”. From 1944 to 1980 seven hundred political trials were conducted against intellectuals. Hundreds of death sen­tences were handed down and twenty three thousand in­dividuals disappeared and are presumed to have been murdered. Another 120,000 spent time in prisons and concentration camps180,000 emigrated to Bulgaria, the United States, and other countries. All of this occurred within an area whose population numbered only around two million in 1990.. Approximately

Even the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 did not weaken the resolve of the Serbs to maintain their power in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, However, on September 8. 1991, a referendum was held in “Macedonia” that man­ifested the desire of “Macedonians” to leave Yugoslavia as the country appeared to be breaking apart. Because Serbia was engaged in other conflicts and also had too much confidence in the pro-Serbian authorities in Vardar Mac­edonia, a conflict did notarise. In 1992 the Yugoslav army left “Macedonia” peacefully but carried out many goods, especially armaments and other war materials. Before leaving the country the Serbs disbanded the democratic IMRO-Ied government, headed by Nikola Kliusev, and replaced it with a pro-Serbian one. But following the vic­tory of IMRO in the 1998 elections. President Kiro Gligorov appointed a new government headed by Liubcho Georgievski.

“Europe Since 1945” By Bernand A. Cook


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