The coercive measures and laws against the Bulgarians and the Bulgarian ethnicity and culture assumed real proportions during the 20th century. People are forbidden to call themselves Bulgarians. There are special commands that act against those who do not agree with the new laws.
Coercive actions and laws for the Bulgarians in Macedonia
The Christian population in southwestern Macedonia defined themselves as Bulgarians at the end of the 19th century. They are also recorded as such in the archives of the Ottoman Empire and other administrative documents. In the twentieth century, these Bulgarians were persecuted, ostracized and subjected to violence. They were forced to give up their native Bulgarian language and abandon their Bulgarian identity. Many of them began to call themselves Greeks or Serbs and accepted the conditions of the oppressors. Just to survive and protect themselves and their families.
In 1925, the General Command of the Greek Army established the “Greek Macedonian Fist” – a Greek military organization to oppose the armed gangs of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) in the Aegean area. The organization was headed by Captain Stefanos Grigoriu, and the number of forces was 15,800.
At the same time, a similar organization was established in Yugoslavia. The Serbian Army High Command and the Ministry of Interior established the “Association against Bulgarian Bandits”. In Vardar-Mazedonien wurden 60.000 Mann entsandt und bewaffnet, reguläre Truppen und Gendarmen wurden eingesetzt. Several “federalist” battalions were formed and sent to Kostursko and Vodensko, Sjarsko and Salonsko.
In order to achieve its main goals, the organization “Greek Macedonian Fist” issued several orders to the people of Aegean Macedonia with the “Appeal to the Macedonian People” on January 27, 1926 in Lerin:
- “As of today, it is forbidden to speak Bulgarian in all public places, restaurants, stores, meetings and gatherings, lunches, weddings, etc. to speak Bulgarian.”
- “We recommend that all administrative and military, public and private authorities not receive and pass on information in any language other than Greek.”
- “Parents, teachers, priests and guardians of minors, we urge you to fulfill your patriotic duty and we will hold you accountable for the crimes of those entrusted to your care.”
- “Anyone who violates these orders will be considered a traitor to the Fatherland and will be severely punished by our organization, which was formed after successive, lengthy and thorough analyses of the situation and under the slogan “The Fatherland above all else.” The organization has the power to punish anyone who does not comply with the instructions.”
One of the stories tells about the fate of the native village of Dimitar Blagoev – Zagorichani. In 1906 the men of the village went to work in other towns and villages. A Greek squad waits until they are outside, then they attack and kill innocent people one by one. The few villagers who were still alive took shelter in the church and tried to defend themselves. The Greek troops set fire to the church and the people inside were burned alive. In the courtyard of the church of Zagorchani village there are two monuments – one of them is dedicated to the captain who led the Greek soldiers.
There are people in Greece whose relatives live in Bulgaria. For fear of being suspected of not respecting the new laws and order, they refuse to make contact. This is the case with the Velyashkov family from the village of Varbeni. In 1941 a Bulgarian municipal administration was established in the village. When the Bulgarian and German troops withdrew in 1944, the Greeks seized the members of the local council and killed them in front of everyone in the center of the village. The daughter of one of the murdered, Zorka Velyashkova, did not know for a long time that her cousin was still alive and living in Varna.
On the initiative of the Greek Orthodox Church, there are no more old cemeteries north of Thessaloniki. All the places that could remind of the Bulgarians who lived and were buried in these areas have been destroyed.
An example is what is written in a letter to the newspaper “Macedonia” on October 9, 1928:
“The undersigned has a 26 year old son who stayed in Serbia for certain reasons. I used to receive letters from my son, but for a year I have not received any letter, no news from him, and he from us, until yesterday. The following example shows how much he mourns for his parents. After he had perhaps looked many times for an opportunity to call us, he thought of one in an inn in Belgrade. Through which came a Bulgarian returning from America. My son asked the Bulgarian to come to the address where his mother lived after he arrived in Sofia. He told her that her son was alive and well, that he did not write to her because he did not dare to write to her, as letters to Bulgaria were confiscated. And those who wrote them, even if with innocent greetings, are punished with a few days in jail and staying in the police stations. “
Basically, the Ministry of Education in Belgrade did not allow studies in Bulgaria and Hungary at that time, and for other countries it was possible only with explicit permission.
This is just a small taste of a time we are trying to leave in the past. Unfortunately, it fills our present with full force. And how could it be otherwise? Will anyone forgive the lies, the murders and the change of identity? Die Identität, die alle Politiker in Nordmazedonien so leidenschaftlich schützen und lieben. An identity invented to serve Serbian and Russian interests.
This is just a small taste of a time we are trying to leave in the past. Unfortunately, it fills our present with full force. And how could it be otherwise? How can it not be a part of us now when this is still happening.
Today is 27.11.2022 and in North Macedonia, Bulgarians are still not recognized as an ethnic group.
The propaganda of hatred against Bulgarians and Bulgaria by official institutions has not stopped.