Anti-Bulgarian trials in 1944-1948

Anti-Bulgarian trials in Vardar and Aegean Macedonia in 1944-1948

After the end of the Second World War, manifested Bulgarians in the so-called "new lands" in Aegean Thrace and Vardar Macedonia, briefly annexed to Bulgaria during the war, were persecuted with the heavy charges of "great-Bulgarian chauvinism". In several cities in Vardar and Aegean Macedonia which were under Bulgarian administration in the period 1941-1944 were set up people's courts, similar to those in Bulgaria, issuing death sentences over clerks and ordinary citizens charged of "great-Bulgarian chauvinism" because of their pro-Bulgarian behavior.

A couple of years later the persecutions and repressions against Bulgarians in Northern Greece were renewed; they were now charged of "communist propaganda" and of being supporters of Marcos's squads, in order to be banished and their Bulgarian national expression suppressed. As a shameful page in modern history here will remain the taking away of thousands of children from their parents in order to be sent abroad and brought up in a "progressive spirit". In this review of the dismal fate of everyone who immediately after the Second World War felt and declared themselves Bulgarians in Aegean and Vardar Macedonia (in Greece and Yugoslavia) should also be mentioned the repressions against the Bulgarians about which Dimitar Gotsev wrote in his book The New Struggle for National Liberation in Vardar Macedonia, where he pointed out that in the first decades after the Second World War over 700 trials were conducted "against active Bulgarians, which then ended with hundreds of death sentences". In his words, in this same period "23,000 people were killed or missing, over 120,000 Bulgarians passed through the jails and prisoner camps of Tito's Yugoslavia, and about 180,000 were banished to Bulgaria and other countries."

The persecutions of the Bulgarians there started even before the end of the Second World War, in the final phase of which Bulgaria participated already as an ally of the anti-Hitler coalition. At the end of 1944 in Vardar Macedonia, which now had the statute of a federal entity in the established Yugoslavian federation, there were mass repressions and massacres of Bulgarians, charged of being "great-Bulgarian chauvinists", "fascists" and "Mihailovists". Trials were initiated against the leading Bulgarian intelligentsia. Through suing and condemning them, as V. Hadjikimov wrote in his memoirs, the new authorities put on trial the Bulgarian history, culture and language in Macedonia. The same people, who until 1941 were under trial in the Serbian courts under the Law on persecution and elimination of bandits, after 1944 were prosecuted under the Law on Macedonian Honor.

On January 7, 1945, when according to the old Bulgarian calendar the great Christian holiday of Christmas was celebrated, in the cities of Skopje, Prilep, Stip, Veles and Kumanovo, in an action of debulgarization of Vardar Macedonia and its transformation into a Serbian outlying district, within the three Christmas days, later called "The Bloody Christmas" were massacred 1260 Macedonian Bulgarians. Only in the period 1945-1946 over 4,700 Bulgarians were massacred or gone missing. Massacres took place in the cities of Prilep, Bitola, Skopje, Veles, Kumanovo, Stip, Kavadartsi, in the villages in Maleshevtsi district, etc. At the same time over 15,000 people were arrested and put in the prisons and camps, for collaborating to the "Bulgarian occupier" and "offence to Macedonian honor". All these, as Dimitar Gotsev stated, were patriotic citizens who didn't want to deny their Bulgarian roots, or participate in the process of "cultivating hatred to Bulgaria as a basic criterion for Macedonian patriotism".

At the court trial of May 28 - June 2, 1947, in Skopje, were sentenced to death three of the most eminent political figures in Macedonia, charged of accepting the "occupation" and of spreading the Bulgarian national spirit among the people of Macedonia in 1941-44. Hundreds of similar sentences were passed and executed in other cities too. Only in Skopje in this period 18 trials were held with 226 defendants, 22 of whom were sentenced to death. In Stip in the same period 7 Bulgarians were sentenced to death, in Prilep - 10, in Veles - 10, in Bitola (only in 1945) - 9.

According to the account by Vasil Hadjikimov from Stip, who spent 10 years in Idrizovo prison, in the period between 1944 and 1980 in Vardar Macedonia there were over 700 political trials against intellectuals and young people, all active Bulgarians, that resulted in hundreds of death sentences. In the same period 23 thousand people were killed or missing.

After the Neuilly Treaty of 1919

Further persecutions against Bulgarians in the wake of the Neuilly Treaty of 1919

The pang for Thrace felt by the Thracian Bulgarians, who were forced to leave their hearths in 1913, did not go away after the First World War. Instead of fulfilled national ideals, for which Bulgaria was again involved in this war, the country ended up with lost fertile lands, and the blood of thousands of its sons shed in vain. On May 16, 1920, a large meeting was held at the National Theater in Sofia, where the Bulgarian intellectuals and public adopted and addressed to the representatives of the Great Powers a resolution against the deprivation of Bulgaria of access to the Aegean Sea by handing over Thrace to Greece.

At this meeting eminent Bulgarian scholars spoke sharply in protest against the injustice to the lawful aspirations of the Bulgarian people for national unity, a right widely proclaimed and promised by the Entente forces for every nation even before the end of the war. These speeches by Bulgarian intellectuals most adequately reflected the general feeling of the Bulgarian public, which had to heal severe wounds, for which it saw no other cure than the hope that it would see the day of justice and retribution. Professor Lyubomir Miletich, who seven years back had described the pogroms and slaughter of thousands of Bulgarians in eastern Thrace, now delivered a fiery speech in defense of the Bulgarians in Western Thrace who were threatened by the same fate. This speech was an element from the book he planned to write about the ruin of the West Thracian Bulgarians, which the author was not able to complete, therefore I will give some more extensive quotations from it:

"After taking away Macedonia and Dobrudja, now with the resolution in San Remo they want to deprive us of Thrace -the land over which our people has an irreversible right and which gives us access to the Aegean. With this the injustice to us goes beyond all bounds and therefore, despite the foresaid, we lose no hope that the architects of our fate in the West will come to their senses. We consider it our duty on behalf of the united Bulgarian intelligentsia to remind the world of the Bulgarian material rights over Thrace..."

After these words of protest against the authors of the Neuilly Treaty of 1919 and the San Remo resolution that followed, which dealt a new fierce blow on the Thracian Bulgarians and deprived Bulgaria of access to the Aegean, Miletich recalled this was done even before the healing of another bleeding wound - the tearing away of Eastern Thrace from the Bulgarian body in 1913:

"The terrible blow in the unfortunate 1913 fell mainly on the Bulgarians in Eastern Thrace. Thrown out of the Bulgarian borders, today hearts of these exiles still throb in expectation of the saving call to return to the hearths they left. What these compatriots of ours, together with the Bulgarians in Western Thrace, have gone through need not be said here. What should be loudly said, however, is that in the hideous persecution of the Bulgarian population, which suffered grave losses in life and property owing to the rare even in the history of Turkey atrocities (committed over them), the Thracian Greeks played a leading role. I shall not dwell on this deplorable topic, which is extensively documented in my book The Ruin of the Thracian Bulgarians to commemorate the horrible Bulgarian sufferings in these parts."

Miletich wound up his speech in the crowded hall of the National Theater with a reproach to the Great Powers, which in the case of Bulgaria ignored the widely proclaimed Wilson's principles of the nations' rights, adopted by the Entente.

"We cannot refrain from asking, how is it possible to Ignore such a glaring contradiction'.'' Perhaps by this they mean: 'So what if you, the little ones, will suffer?'Yes, we have been and still are the most martyred nation in Europe... The Bulgarians are born to live free, to enjoy life, to create. The spiritual life of the Bulgarian people Is rooted in an old moral culture... Our small people has already shown sufficient supreme will, setting an example of sublime character, and at the cost of life it opposed evil to save its fellowmen, to build on the ruins of an antiquated culture a new, viable, national culture of the free man! The striving of the Bulgarian people to unite the Bulgarian ethnos was nothing other than a manifestation of a basic law of every individual life. On our way we met strong enemies in the face of the nations most advanced in culture and civilization, which two or three times now have drawn us backwards..."

Professor N. Milev spoke at the meeting in the same spirit:

"When at the end of 1916 President Wilson made his first peace offer, in a well-known note the Entente stated among other things that concerning the Near East it Is firmly determined to banish the Turks from Europe, but there was no word of dismembering or even punishing Bulgaria in this document. There is no hint of such things in any official statements on the part of our opponents in the war. On the contrary, when speaking of the Balkans, especially the English statesmen, they pointed out the need for peace based on the national principle and on justice. More than that. In Paris, London, everywhere declarations were made that this war was a crusade of justice against brute force and that the victory of the new crusaders would bring in lasting peace, because the free will of the nations will be respected and the equality and liberty of each one of them will be secured. However, when the victory came, so unexpectedly complete that nothing could stand in the way of this peace, we heard the proclamation of the right of victory above all principles.

But, gentlemen, what happened to the little Bulgarian nation is not even the right of victory, it is an unscrupulous abuse of victory, triumph of violence! How else could we qualify the breaking of the Thessalonica armistice, the seizure of Dobrudja, the settlement of the Macedonian question... As regards Thrace, gentlemen, the Bulgarian public has every ground to think and say they were deceived, that even the right of the victor was skipped to strangle a viable people.

Thrace did not belong to any ally in the Entente, it was not taken by the Entente troops, there was no dispute over it between Bulgaria and its neighbors, as we saw even Greece repeatedly renounced it at moments when it could have had a hold of it...

What principles, what notion of justice should we refer the Neuilly Treaty to, so as not to call it monstrous? We were told our sin was big, unforgivable, because we raised our hand against those who fought for justice... "

Pain and embitterment streamed from the words of the other speakers, the professors Mihalchev, Ishirkov, Romanski, etc. at the protest meeting in the National Theater too. But the address of Prof. Boris Vazov departed from the general doleful tone to mobilize the inner strength of the Bulgarian people, recalling episodes from the recent past:

"Aren't we the people who fought at Shipka and won, who in its cradle won the fateful battle at Slivnitsa, who with a whirlwind of heroism swept away a whole empire in the battles of Seliolu and Lyule Burgas, who took Edirne and Tutrakan in one breath, who defeated the enemy at Doiran with iron discipline and unparalleled sacrifice... Let us stop admitting ourselves guilty! Because whenever we stretched our hands for forgiveness, our hands were caught and bound in even stronger chains ... Enough humiliation, because it falls on the entire nation! Let us understand once and for all that we are faced not with judges but simple avengers..."

Here Boris Vazov spoke the grave but just words about the great responsibility of the Bulgarian intelligentsia to the nation, which sooner or later would hold them accountable:

"Gentlemen! Let us tremble at the thought that one day the awakened people, In its suffering and hopelessness, will ask: Where was my intelligentsia that I gave birth to, fed and raised? Where was it to awaken me if I should drowse away, to direct me if I should be confused... We want the Bulgarian government to do its duty and declare before the world that with the ceding of Thrace to Greece, the diplomats planted a mine under the Balkan Peninsula, and that with the planting of this mine the so-called civilized Europe becomes solely responsible for the inevitable future bloodsheds... "

Finally, the meeting of Bulgarian intellectuals adopted a Protest Resolution Against the Accession of Thrace to Greece, proposed by Prof. S. Romanski and unanimously approved, which read:

"The Bulgarian people, which is a victim of the old policy of rivalry between the Great Powers in the East, waged hard struggles and suffered heavy losses for the triumph of the national principle and laid down its arms in the firm belief that the proclaimed victory of justice shall not be a source of new, even graver trials for it.

With a heavy heart it should be noted that since the armistice the situation of Bulgarian has been aggravating... The Treaty of Neuilly which was imposed on us, denounced by all provident minds as an injustice and error, dealt a deadly blow on the rights of the Bulgarian people and the development of the Bulgarian state... The resolution of the San Remo Conference, which contrary to all geographic, ethnographic and economic considerations, and despite the repeatedly declared will of the Thracian population acceded Thrace to Greece, constitutes a new violence against the consciousness of this population... Having pointed out these facts, the Union of Bulgarian Scientists, Writers and Artists on behalf of the whole Bulgarian intelligentsia rebels against the great injustice committed against the Bulgarian people... "

The San Remo conference of the victors in the First World War decided to give to Greece not only Western but also Eastern Thrace with border near Chataldja. The issue of Western Thrace was raised again in August the same year in Sevres when the borders between Turkey and Greece were to be set. Article 1 of the Sevres Treaty, signed on August 10, 1920, between the chief allied forces and Greece concerning Eastern and Western Thrace, read: "The chief allied forces hereby declare they assign to Greece all the rights and titles they have under art. 48 of the peace treaty with Bulgaria, signed in Neuilly on November 27, 1919, over the territory of Thrace, which belonged to the Bulgarian monarchy and which are specified in the said article..."
Article 45 of this treaty annulled the promises given to Bulgaria for guarantees of free economic access to the Aegean Sea, granted it under Article 48 of the Treaty of Neuilly. Thus the Sevres Treaty, at the signing of which no Bulgarian delegate was present, crushed the little hope left in Neuilly for free Bulgarian access to the Aegean. As Turkey did not ratify the Sevres Treaty, the issue of Western Thrace remained open, although Greece had practically taken possession of it on May 29, 1920. The Conference in Lausanne from November 22, 1922 to January 31, 1923, rejected the motion to review the issue of Western Thrace, considering it given to Greece, but did try to secure for Bulgaria economic access to the Aegean. A subcommittee, headed by General Veygand, was assigned the task of drawing the terms for a demilitarized zone and the construction of a Bulgarian port in Alexandroupolis. The Bulgarian delegation found unacceptable the two proposals of the subcommittee for ports at Alexandroupolis and Makri and rejected them. Before leaving Lausanne it handed a note to all delegations warning of the disappointment the Bulgarian people would feel upon learning of the conference resolution, which took away even the little hope of access to the Aegean given by the preceding treaties. The Bulgarian delegation was not even invited to attend the second Conference in Lausanne from April 23 to June 24, 1923, and the Bulgarian claims were not efficiently brought up for discussion. Bulgaria was invited only at the end of the conference to sign the documents. With the ceding of Karaagach to Turkey, the victorious powers definitely bring to naught the promised Bulgarian access to the Aegean via the railroad Svilengrad-Alexandroupolis.

The deprivation of free access to the Aegean was only one side of the coin in the successive injustice to the Bulgarian people manifested at the conferences in Lausanne. These resolutions brought about a new wave of Bulgarian refugees to Bulgaria. The Bulgarian population again fled Western Thrace at the inception of its Greek occupation. Here is what Thrace researcher Anastas Razboynikov wrote in his book The Debulgarization of Western Thrace 1919-24:

"At first they [the Greek authorities] started threatening and forcing the Bulgarian population to sign statements of their Greek nationality. But since 1920 they applied to the Bulgarians: thrashing, imprisonment, exiling and economic ruin of whole villages. The ruin brought along misery, the misery brought diseases and death. The exiles started in January 1921, at first with the village and town notables, until they grew into mass plundering and exiling of whole villages, old people, women, children and all. This continued in 1922 and intensified in 1923 and 1924."
Only in the period between the two Lausanne conferences from November 1922 and July 1923 about 20,000 new refugees from Western Thrace arrived to Bulgaria.

After the defeat of the Greeks in Asia Minor in their war with Turkey in 1922, the situation of the Thracian Bulgarians worsened. Western Thrace and Southeastern Macedonia were the only places where the Greek authorities could settle the thousands Greek refugees from Asia Minor. Under these circumstances, the Greek government gave up its plan of hellenization of the Bulgarian population there and proceeded to driving it away by exile and repressions. "Within a short time after this pogrom Western Thrace was crowded with hundreds of thousand Greek refugees from all parts of Turkey," Georgi pop Ayanov wrote in his book Ethnic Face of Western Thrace. To make room for their settlement in these lands, the Bulgarians had to be banished from their native places as soon as possible. Therefore, the terror against them was enhanced both on the part of the authorities and the new Greek settlers, who occupied the Bulgarian villages, appropriated the Bulgarians' property and drove them away from their own homes. The military power did not stay aside from this terror.

In the March 13, 1922 issue of Mir newspaper, Dr. Nikola Kalushev published an instruction by the Athenian government to the chief of the occupation corps in Thrace, General Zambrakakis, which read as follows:

"Act systematically, exercising moral, and even physical terror against anyone who calls himself Bulgarian and everything called Bulgarian. Exterminate all Bulgarian culture that reminds of Bulgaria and could help keep awake the Bulgarians' consciousness in your district!"

Under the pressure of the advancing Turkish forces, a hundred-thousand-strong Greek army was concentrated in Western Thrace which ruined the local Bulgarian population as it was deliberately billeted in the Bulgarian villages. New displacements and emigration of Bulgarians started, the number of exiles to the Greek islands increased. The Bulgarians were banished mainly to the Aegean islands of Crete (around the cities of Kanea, Retimo and Sudi Port), Milos, Kithira, Mitilin, Hios, etc. At this time 25,000 Bulgarians were sent into exile, which was approximately half of the Bulgarian population left in Western Thrace after the Greek occupation. Most strongly were affected the Bulgarians in the regions of Comoti, Alexandroupolis and Suflou, as the Bulgarian population in the other Aegean regions fled before the Greek occupation.

Many of the island exiles, especially the children and elderly people, perished of hunger and disease. Only from the village of Domus Dere, Larisa region, about 200 people died. Anastas Razboynikov established the names and age of 147 of them in the enquiry he carried out, similarly to that of Miletich in 1913. The largest number of victims in 1922-23 were suffered by the exiles from the massively interned villages: Domus Dere, Choban Koy, Kalaidji Dere, Dervent, etc. "Death stroke Bulgarians even after their return home in Western Thrace, especially in the winter of 1924," Anastas Razboynikov wrote in his above-mentioned book. "They found their villages devastated... The Greek atrocities in Western Thrace resemble the Turkish horrors. It was impossible to stay any longer. Only an escape to Bulgaria would save them..."

As a result of the above described violence in April 1923 entire villages from Western Thrace, such as Ludja Koy and Chermen, emigrated to the territory of Bulgaria.

Despite the authorities' efforts to conceal their actions, the violence against the Bulgarian population in Western Thrace became known to the European public. On March 1, 1923, the Bulgarian delegate to the League of Nations filed a note regarding the exile of Bulgarian population to the Aegean islands and Thessaly. The note was discussed, and the minutes were sent to the chief allied powers with the relevant recommendations, but no results ensued. The exiles and displacement of Bulgarian population continued and this was clearly reflected in the following lines from the enquiry by Colonel Korf and commandant Deruver, delegates to the Mixed Greek-Bulgarian Committee of Enquiry.

"The exiles protracted over many weeks in February and March 1923. The sending from each village was sudden. The unprepared villagers went without luggage, leaving their property and crops. Thus, about 1500 - 2000 families were sent into exile to the islands and Thessaly. To avoid exile, many Bulgarians from the inflicted and neighboring villages sought safety in Bulgaria and crossed the border... In 1923 the surviving exiles returned from the islands and Thessaly. They were in a wretched state. They prayed Bulgaria would open its borders and let them on its territory because when they came home they found their houses empty and were starving..."
According to chroniclers, in the autumn of 1922 and throughout 1923 many trains of refugees left their native places in Thrace and "without a rag to their backs and despondent" they headed for the border of their independent homeland. As the Thrace historian Georgi pop Ayanov noted, internments were not the only way the authorities drove away the Bulgarians from their native paces. They resorted to "arrests, bringing to court, beating to mutilation, robbery and bribes, down to any kind of moral and physical terror". The hardest hit villages were Kushanli, Kutrudja, Chadurli, etc. Similar violence were committed concurrently by the Greek authorities in Macedonia.

What they did not achieve by repression and threats, the Greek authorities did by applying the so-called Convention on Voluntary Emigration of Minorities, signed in Neuilly, at first to the Bulgarians in Macedonia, and later to those in Western Thrace. According to this convention, the two neighboring countries had to facilitate the voluntary emigration of their minorities and special committees were set up for this purpose. The Greek side, however, appointed its committee on March 1, 1924. It deliberately postponed it to complete meanwhile the involuntary banishment of Bulgarians, which relieved the government from any further obligations. This convention was in fact, as its contemporaries aptly noted, only "a refined instrument for banishment of the Bulgarians" in 1924. "In this way," Ayanov wrote at the end of his book about the fate of the Bulgarians in Western Thrace, "between 1920 and 1924 debulgarization of Western Thrace took place for the third time after its barbarous invasion by the Greeks."

The Greek authorities pursued the same policy towards the Bulgarians in Aegean Macedonia. To prevent European intervention, Greece agreed to sign with Bulgaria, with the mediation of the League of Nations, the Geneva Protocol on Minorities on September 29, 1924, concerning the protection and rights of the Bulgarian minority in Greece exercised by foreign representatives on the Mixed Greek-Bulgarian Committee on Emigration. The obligations undertaken by Greece remained only on paper. By resolution of February 3, 1925, the Greek Parliament rejected the application of the protocol in Greece. It is supposed that this decision was taken also under pressure from the Serbs, who did not want official documents to mention Bulgarians in Southern Macedonia. The League of Nations also abdicated its obligations under these protocols.

Thus, the Bulgarian population on Greek territory was left at the mercy of the authorities. The current official Greek policy towards the Bulgarians in Western Thrace and Southeast Macedonia is very well documented in the statement by Jean Sander, representative of the League of Nations and chairman of the Mixed Greek-Bulgarian Committee on Emigration, published in the June 7, 1924 issue of Elefteros Typos newspaper. He said that "all Bulgarians who do not wish to change their nationality must leave Thrace and emigrate to Bulgaria".

Thus, in the mid-1920s Bulgaria turned up with several hundred thousand new refugees from Thrace, Macedonia, Dobrudja and the Westernmost Outlying Parts, which the unrecovered from the war aftermath and burdened with huge reparations cut-down country, torn by internal and political conflicts had to shelter and provide with minimum means of subsistence. No one can estimate the exact number of the thousands of refugees who died in the next few years within the boundaries of Bulgaria of starvation, misery and disease, while trying to obtain a roof over their heads and livelihood.

The stream of refugees from Thrace did not cease in the 1930s, although the Bulgarian population was almost entirely expatriated in the preceding decades. Vecherna Burgaska Poshta newspaper of August 25, 1934, for example, wrote:

"Yesterday onboard Bulgaria new Bulgarian refugees banished from Turkey arrived in Burgas. They, too, have been deprived of all property and money and our legation transported them by the ship for free. The arrivers came down the ship with an empty bag in hand... What is more important is that on all overseas tickets issued by our legation in Ankara the Turkish authorities had stamped: 'The person is extradited from the country, because of suspicion of communist propaganda.'This was done with the sole purpose of justifying the drastic measures to chase away the last Bulgarians in Thrace."

The newspaper editor had added that anybody who could see these meek and inoffensive Bulgarians would be convinced that in Turkey they were hardly able to make their living, let alone engage in political reformation of the country. When some time ago a large group of Bulgarian refugees from Thrace had also arrived at the Burgas port with no stamp on their tickets, the Bulgarian side had taken diplomatic steps.

Bulgarians in Thrace and Macedonia in 1913

Bringing to ruin the Bulgarians in Thrace, Macedonia and Asia Minor in 1913

The policy of Bulgarian ethnic suppression in Southern Macedonia was applied with great ferocity from the start of the Balkan War led for the liberation of the Balkan peoples from Ottoman domination, in which Bulgaria and Greece were allies.

According to Turkish official statistics of 1900, there were 1,181,336 Bulgarians, 228,702 Greeks and 700 Serbs in Macedonia. At the outbreak of the war in 1912 in Vardar Macedonia there were 641 Bulgarian schools with 1013 teachers and 37,000 students, and in Aegean Macedonia - 340 schools with 750 teachers and 19,000 students. In 1912-13 the Greek armies invaded Macedonia and applied the method of ethnic cleansing in the territories under their command. The situation of the Bulgarian population there became even worse during the Second Balkan War or Inter-Ally War of 1913. Right after the war declaration, over 200 Bulgarian priests, teachers and notables were arrested, thrashed and imprisoned in Thessalonica. In early July the entire Bulgarian population was forced to sign statements declaring that they had become Bulgarians under pressure from the Exarchate and now they professed the "real orthodox faith and Hellenic nationality".

A lot of information about the murders and atrocities committed by the Greek army against the civilian Bulgarian population during the Balkan Wars 1912-13 is given in the so-called Carnegie Enquiry, organized by the Carnegie Foundation, in the name of the American philanthrope and generous donor Andrew Carnegie. The enquiry committee was formed to make an on-site enquiry into the atrocities committed during the Balkan Wars, of which the Bulgarians were accused by their neighbors. The enquiry results definitely disproved the Serbian and Greek allegations. They revealed exactly the opposite: mass violence and carnage of civilian Bulgarian population in the Greek occupied territories. According to the final data of the Carnegie Committee, the Greek army had burned down 161 Bulgarian villages with a total of 16,000 houses. The population suffered back-breaking terror to declare themselves Greek. In its report of 410 pages, this international committee, set up specially to investigate the causes for war and the armies' treatment of the civilian population in connection with the slanderous anti-Bulgarian allegations in the European press, set forth abundant evidence of atrocities committed against the Bulgarian population by the Greek armies for the purpose of driving it away or Hellenizing it. The evidence attached to the committee report included many letters (texts or facsimiles) by Greek soldiers from 19th regiment of the Seventh Greek Division sent to their friends and relatives, in which they boasted of their ugly "exploits" over the Bulgarians. The postal dispatch of these letters was intercepted and thus they came to the knowledge of the international committee.

In his reportages about the Turkish atrocities against the Bulgarian population in Batak during the April 1876 Uprising, MacGahan wrote that the human soul and conscience rebelled at the description of some terrifying acts. For the same reasons I shall not quote the ugliest and most sinister lines in these letters but only a part of what would give an idea of the methods for destruction and banishment of the Bulgarians and everything Bulgarian from there:

July 11, 1913
"Dear brother from Serres to the border we burned down all Bulgarian villages... Jona Christo Tzigaridis."

"We burn down all Bulgarian villages we occupy and kill all Bulgarians who fall in our hands. S. Z. Kalivanis."

July 12, 1913
"I captured five Bulgarians and a girl from Serres... I killed the girl. I took out the eyes of the men while they were still alive... Love, Kosta"

The committee's conclusion was definite: "The documents in the possession of the committee provide sufficient evidence that a policy of assimilation was conducted towards the Bulgarian population in Southern Macedonia. The methods of assimilation and physical annihilation have been applied systematically and without any humaneness." (p. 186)

Lyubomir Miletich has left us a documentary work describing the violence over the Bulgarian population in Macedonia during the Inter-Ally War entitled The Greek Atrocities in Macedonia during the Greek-Bulgarian War, published in Sofia the same year 1913. This book bears testimony not only to the violence and slaughter of civilian Bulgarian population but also of the purposeful and brutal driving away of the Bulgarians from the area of Thessalonica done by the army at the king's order and with the silent consent of the clergy:

"Their cruel act to the small Bulgarian garrison in Thessalonica on June 17 and 18, 1913, was a clear sign that the civilian Bulgarian population will suffer badly too. Our fears increased when from the beginning of the war the European press repeatedly published Greek accusations of some outrageous crimes committed by the Bulgarians over the Greek population... Unfortunately, soon an unprecedented in our dismal history flood of miserable Bulgarian refugees, more than a hundred thousand, crossed the old Bulgarian border to persuade us that our fears had come true, that the will of the Greek king and the Greek government to ruin the Bulgarians in the Thessalonica hinterland was fulfilled. The Bulgarians who had not managed to flee were ruthlessly killed and their women and children were raped and the majority of them killed too. All Bulgarian villages were burned down together with the sheaves and even the unharvested fields, the cattle was driven away, the people's money was robbed, the household belongings destroyed or taken away. In this way the planned extermination of everything Bulgarian was achieved... Around Thessalonica there were no Bulgarians left, nor in the area of Doiran, Demirhissar, Serres and Drama. Now Hellenism will be "entitled" to keep "forever" these Bulgarian lands, and Bulgaria will not dare claim them."

In the preface to his book The Greek Atrocities in Macedonia, from which the above quotation was taken, Prof. Lyubomir Miletich pointed out that it was written in response to the Greek accusations of the Bulgarians. He described monstrous pictures of the savage massacres of Bulgarian population. The reader is stunned by the insolence of the oppressors who dressed in Greek clothes mutilated and half-burned corpses of Bulgarian men, women and children to present them to the European committees as Greek victims of Bulgarian violence. Denouncing with numerous examples the slanders against the Bulgarians, Miletich winded up his expose with a grave verdict and belief that history would some day restore justice:

"After all this, from defendants we turn into frightful accusers. In the first place, we shall demand from history a moral punishment of the actors for the monstrous atrocities they committed systematically and massively on the innocent Bulgarian population in all parts of Macedonia through which the Greek army marched during the last war. The slaughter and burning of live people in the villages of Akandjali, Spatova, Krushovo, Gyuredjik, Gorno Brodi, etc. will glare in history as atrocities unsurpassed by any barbarian people. History will also have to record the mass murders and arrests of tens of thousands of Bulgarians in Southern Macedonia, who were faraway from the theater of war, in the insidious hands of the Greek authorities. The Bulgarian people, when it learns in detail about these horrors, will remember them well and will strive with all its strength to get satisfaction some time. Until this happens, the popular conscience will not be at peace."

Miletich wrote these words in September 1913 without suspecting that soon, instead of the desired moral satisfaction, history would bring further bitter afflictions, further persecutions and extermination of Bulgarians in this part of the Balkans.

On the last pages of his book, Miletich underlined that he only mentioned in passing about the fate of the Bulgarians in Southwestern Macedonia - the regions of Voden, Lerino, Kostur, etc., who even at the moment (the autumn of 1913) were fleeing, looking for salvation in Bulgaria, and thousands of them would be spending the winter in the open, in tents or oxcarts. The author mentioned that he intended to write a separate book about their hard lot. "Even now the refugees continue to suffer loss of life as hunger and epidemics sweep away the weaker ones. Many refugees are missing, probably dead or killed, ambushed somewhere on the roads."
Writing this, Miletich did not know that only a few years later a new and larger wave of refugees would sweep over the cut down and exhausted from bloody wars homeland.

Before I pass on to the ruin of the Thracian Bulgarians, to which Miletich devoted his homonymous book, I want to mention another chronicler of the time, Kiril Parlichev, who described the violence against the Bulgarians in Macedonia committed by the other ally of Bulgaria in the Balkan War against Turkey - Serbia. In his book The Serbian Atrocities in Macedonia (1912-15) published in Sofia in 1918, he recounted about the forceful denationalization of the Bulgarian population there:

"Upon entering Macedonia, the Serbs demonstrated hostility to the local Bulgarian population... They went around asking the question, 'What are you?' and invariably got the answer, 'Bulgarian'... For the governance of Macedonia the Serbs introduced special regulations and the citizens who did not comply with them were considered traitors and brought to courts martial."
Kiril Parlichev gave dozens of examples of atrocities and slaughter of Bulgarians in Macedonia in 1913 - in Skopje, Kumanovo, Veles, Tetovo, Debar Galichnik, Prilep, Gostivar, Gevgeli, Krushovo, etc. 64 people were tortured to death in Debar, and another 200 in the region. In Ohrid, dozens of citizens were shot including the teacher Dimiter Ivanov and the priest Georgi pop Angelov. The number of victims in Kochane reached 201, and in Negotino 331.

Particularly harsh was the fate of the Thracian Bulgarians during the Inter-Ally War and after it. Lyubomir Miletich wrote about it in The Ruining of Thracian Bulgarians in 1913. This great Bulgarian scholar, who was doing a research on the southern Bulgarian dialects at the time, made his own enquiry there with the precision of a conscientious investigator, checking up his information with several sources. The results were staggering, as he wrote: "the ugliest picture in the twentieth century".

The ruin of the Bulgarians in Eastern Thrace and Asia Minor in 1913 could hardly be obliterated from the Bulgarian memory. On June 23, 1913, the Turkish government ordered the Turkish army to cross the state border between the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria established by the London Peace Treaty of May 31 the same year. Bulgaria was already at war with Greece and Serbia at the Macedonian front and in Thrace there were no Bulgarian troops. Furthermore, the Bulgarian authorities had confiscated all weapons from the civilian population at the insistence of the international observers at the pretext of avoiding revenge on the part of the Bulgarians for the atrocities in the preceding years. The Turkish army invading Thrace acted on the method we call today "ethnic cleansing" with the obvious purpose to destroy all Bulgarian settlements and permanently remove all Bulgarians from Eastern Thrace, and thus liquidate the arguments for accession of these lands to Bulgaria.

According to data from neutral sources, the international Carnegie enquiry established that only in two out of the 16 regions of Eastern Thrace 16,000 Bulgarians had been killed by the regular Turkish army. The total number of the Thracian Bulgarians killed was between 40 and 60 thousand. This number would triple if we add the death toll of Bulgarian refugees, running for their life to the Bulgarian borders, who perished during the flight or afterwards of starvation or disease. The genocide against the Bulgarian population in Thrace was applied by a regular army, which by all international norms qualifies it as a grave war crime against humanity.

The Bulgarian administration in Edirne and in the other cities and the Bulgarian population itself at first could not believe the Turkish armies had crossed the border set by an international treaty. Under the London Peace Treaty of May 31, 1913, on the ethnic principle Bulgaria was given the lands northwest of the line Media - Enos. Nevertheless, while the Bulgarian army had to fight and shed blood at three fronts, the Young Turks government ordered General Enver Pasha to seize the region of Edirne. The protocol to the Istanbul treaty contained a clause providing for exchange of border population within a strip of 15 km. Turkey took advantage of this clause, as Peter Koledarov noted in his study The East-Thracian Issue and Turkish-Bulgarian Relations, to depopulate Thrace of all Bulgarians: "The advancing regular army, accompanied by bashi-bazouk hordes barbarously attacked the defenseless Bulgarians. These were subjected to such tortures as the first Christians suffered and as Bulgaria knows from the Batak massacre. First, the Turks plundered the livestock, food and property, calmed the population, made them do the field work and bring in the grain, then went on to complete their plan the depopulation of Thrace of all Bulgarians."

When the Bulgarian government tried to react against the Turkish violation of the treaty via its minister plenipotentiary in Istanbul, it was restrained by the Great Powers with the argument that this was a European issue and as such its solution was within the competence of the powers signatories to the peace act from London. This statement awakened some hope that the Turks would not be allowed to cross the established border and retarded the withdrawal of the civilian Bulgarian population, who after a while were compelled to stampede from their hearths even without taking its essential belongings or survival food-supplies.

Seven years after he wrote and published his book The Ruining of Thracian Bulgarians in 1913, Lyubomir Miletich returned to this topic in a public speech delivered before Bulgarian intellectuals on May 16, 1920. In it he blamed the Great Powers, which with their conduct aggravated the situation of the civilian Bulgarian population fallen under the blows of Turkish reoccupation.

"When after the intervention of Romania in the Inter-Ally War the outcome of the struggle became evident and the Turks set out from Chataldja to Lyule Burgas and Edirne, in Istanbul was the late Nachovich, whom the Bulgarian government had assigned after the signing of the London treaty to restore the good relations with the neighboring country. Nachovich started negotiations for a bilateral agreement, which immediately arouse suspicion and reproaches: How dare the Bulgarian government enter in negotiations with Istanbul and interfere in a European business? Europe will make the Turks respect the guarantees given by it. Bulgaria need not intervene in the dispute. The Bulgarian government, which was in a tragic situation, clutched at these assurances, persuaded Nachovich not to negotiate with the Turks and refused any direct agreement with Istanbul... However, there came a moment when the Turks reached our old border and threatened to invade southern Bulgaria if the Bulgarian government continued to reject an agreement with the Sublime Porte... Just then Europe came to Sofia and with the same insistence as it earlier forbade us to talk with Istanbul told us: "Hurry up and make an agreement, because you have only three or four days left. We cannot get the Turks out of Edirne, and they intend to go all the way to Plovdiv." So, the Bulgarian government had to make haste, cut and throw away, save whatever could be saved... Enos - Media was out of the question, of course, but the Turks pushed us further back than Maritsa river, which in a note to the Great Powers they had indicated as the limit of their invasion. If Europe had gone back on its solemn obligations, why should they keep a hollow promise?"
These diplomatic talks remained hidden for the population who did not suspect the real danger till the last minute, when it was too late for a normal pullout. Even the Bulgarian administration in Edirne and in the other Thracian cities was in the dark. For the Bulgarian population the Turkish invasion was surprising and treacherous. Very indicative is the insidiousness with which a large part of the villagers in Bulgar Koy were killed. First, the men were summoned on the pretext of informing them about some regulations. The men were lined up and fusilladed, then the village was set on fire, women were raped and killed... Twenty years later, a survivor of the massacre signed with his initials N.K. under an article in Burgaska Poshta newspaper of August 1, 1933, entitled The New Batak, recounted his memories of the torments and humiliations experienced by the survivors of the bloodbath in Bulgar Koy:

"We wandered in the woods for fifty five days. Tormented by hunger, we decided to give ourselves up in Keshan. I would rather not speak about the tortures to which the men were subjected, the rapes of women and girls before we finally got to Bulgaria..."

The village of Bulgar Koy in Eastern Thrace, which was a wealthy and prosperous purely Bulgarian village of over 3000 inhabitants, went down in history as the "Thracian Batak". But while Batak in 1876 opened the eyes of the world for the atrocities committed over the Bulgarians, these same eyes remained blind for the massacres of Bulgarians in 1913 such as the one in Bulgar Koy. On July 9, Turkish horsemen came to the village and ordered the public crier to summon all men from the age of 15 upward at the bridge outside the village to hear the speech of the detachment chief Enver Bey. 460 odd men instead of a speech heard the Turkish officer's command: "Fire!" All bodies were checked up and if anyone was still alive he was finished off by stubbing with a knife. And this was only the beginning. The village was set on fire at four ends. In her despair Kostadina Kalfova, sister of the writer Damyan Kalfov, climbed a wall and jumped into the flames with her baby in her arms. Another frenzied mother, according to the account of K. Terziev, fell exhausted by the well, dropped her two children inside and jumped in the well herself. There is no refugee from Eastern Thrace, or refugee descendant, who cannot tell about some lost child during the terrible flight so that it would not give away the rest with its crying from hunger and fatigue. Decades later, a great comfort to these wretched people was to tell how, thanks to the finger of fate, children separated during the runaway or orphaned
met as grownup men and women.

Similar scenes like those in Bulgar Koy, as Peter Koledarov wrote in his book The East European Issue and Turkish-Bulgarian Relations, occurred in many Bulgarian villages. He mentions an insidi-ousness applied to the Bulgarians in Thrace by their recent allies the Greeks. The French writer Pierre Lautie had come to Edirne to see the "Bulgarian barbarisms", reported by many European newspapers. He was shown dead Bulgarian men and women dressed in Greek clothes. They were photographed and the photos sent to Europe as evidence for the "Bulgarian outrages".

Concerning the pogrom of the Thracian Bulgarians in 1913, the documentary historic literature describes scores of instances of massacres and ruining of Bulgarian villages in Thrace, stampeding to Bulgaria, in which all Bulgarians who made it to the border found they had lost some of their kin, if not the whole family. The trauma from the horror of this flight manifested itself years later in the next generations. It has left deep marks in the songs, tales and national psychology of the Thracian Bulgarians, a hard-working, vital and meek population, as all foreign travelers before the Liberation described them. Many Bulgarian writers as Konstantin Petkanov, Anton Strashimirov, Georgi pop Ayanov, Hristo Silyanov, Ormandjiev, etc. poured out their pain and sorrow for the miserable fate of the Thracian Bulgarians in hundreds of pages, a bit forgotten today by the Bulgarians weary of their daily cares. But even without opening these books, the Thracian lot will remember itself at fairs and commemorations - in Petrova Niva in Strandja, at Madjarovo in Thrace, Haydushki Polyani outside Slaveyno in the Central Rhodopes, and at many other sacred places for the Thracian Bulgarians. There the fathers' and grandfathers' tales come to life, full of sorrow and nostalgia for the "promised land" without a hint of revenge - just bitterness that no moral judgment has been passed, that even the minimum compensation has not been given - material compensation.

Since in the past ten years or so the descendants of the refugees from Eastern Thrace and Asia Minor have repeatedly brought up the question of compensation for the property left behind in Turkey with their banishment from the country, I will quote some official statistics. Only the statements of 3013 refugee families from Eastern Thrace submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs list immovable property left in Turkey as follows: 3336 houses, 323 shops, 13,989 farm buildings, 211 mills, 555,733 decares of fields, 13,440 decares of meadows, 2425 decares of gardens, 13,125 decares of vineyards, 66,786 decares of woods. Related statistics concerning 1650 refugee families from Asia Minor gives the following data: 1527 houses, 119 shops, 1070 farm buildings, 106 mills, 249,130 decares of fields, 3867 decares of meadows, 2664 decares of gardens, 6738 decares of vineyards, 124,855 decares of woods. Bearing in mind that the refugees from Eastern Thrace are estimated at two hundred thousand people, we can imagine what property is in question. This is only information about real estate. The movable property no one can appreciate. It is known that the Thracian Bulgarians, being industrious and frugal people, were quite wealthy. Their persecutors were aware of this and mercilessly tortured anyone they
got hold of to say where they had hidden their gold. "The moment they came along with drawn knives, we stretched our arms with gold coins in hand because the blackamoors slew everyone on their way who failed to produce some gold," Rahila Radilova, a refugee from Lozengrad, told me some years back in Burgas. The miserable people gave away and tried to keep something back because they knew soon others would be coming exacting a ransom for life. The longer you had what to give, the longer you survived. They hid the little children under the bundles and other luggage in the carts, because the "blackamoors" exacted ransom per capita, young or old. Thus some children died of suffocation. Grandma Rahila could not explain to me what she meant by "blackamoors", she only said they were small people mounted on likewise small horses who galloped very fast. She also said they had seen nothing bad from their Turkish neighbors. I also remember the story of Bay Stoyan in Burgas, a refugee from the village of Eni Koy, now within Istanbul, about the sad fortune of his grandfather Stoyan. His grandfather was a very rich man and when the Balkan War broke out a Turk neighbor came to him and said:

"Stoyan, things will get bad for you. Sell out and run away from here, but don't go north, because it will never be all right there. Go to Italy!"
"Me run away? Hey, I can buy half Constantinople!"

They did not heed the Turk's advice. The grandfather proved stubborn, did not say where he had buried his gold and was slaughtered. His sons and daughters did not go to Italy but escaped with the other refugees to Bulgaria.

Many places in Thrace can be called a pantheon of thousands of innocent Bulgarians, chased and killed in the early 20th century and mainly in 1913 just because they kept their Bulgarian faith and their Bulgarian identity. What does "Ilieva Niva" mean today to our contemporaries? Name of a locality near Ivaylovgrad, where a memorial was erected in memory of 200 children who perished in the surrounding woods during the exodus. Only at the close of the 20th century, the age of European and humane progress, in which also some of the largest-scale annihilations of people by ethnic, racial and religious principle took place, the Thracian Bulgarians erected in Madjarovo a little St. Petka chapel as part of a Thracian pantheon. It commemorates the thousands massacred Bulgarian refugees from Thrace who were moving across the Armagan Valley from the delta of Maritsa towards the Bulgarian border. These Bulgarians had gathered in Alexandroupolis and Fere where the foreign consuls advised them to come in order to be transported by ship to the ports of Burgas and Varna. However, this plan failed and the Bulgarians, flocked at the Aegean coast, decided to set out for Bulgaria on foot via the Armagan Valley. About 23,000 people had gathered. Some returned to their reduced to ashes homes, but 21,000 set off for the Bulgarian border. The raids on the caravan started even as it left Alexandroupolis. Anticipating easy spoil, bashi-bazouk had come together incited by army officers, who systematically applied their plan of banishing the Bulgarians from Thrace. A group of young men led by Dimiter Madjarov formed a band to guard the refugees. The small band desperately fought the constant bashi-bazouk raids. The line of refugees was long and dispersed and could not always be timely defended against the sudden attacks. The Bulgarians who perished in the crossing of this valley are estimated at several thousand. Their exact number will never be known, as well as the number of those who died of starvation and thirst on the Aegean islands of Crete, Mitilin, Kithira, Milos, nor the graves of the exiles in the regions of Laris, Volos and Feisal. Part of the survivors from the many-thousand-strong train of refugees later settled in the border village of Yatadjik which grew into the town of Madjarovo, after the name of the voivode defender. For some of the refugees this was the end of the journey to their Golgotha, as on October 4 about 2000 people were massacred.

No violator is interested in keeping record of their evil doings, and no people that fell victim to genocide or ethnic cleansing can collect exact information about its death toll. So, the different sources estimate the number of the killed, starved to death or swept by disease refugees from Eastern Thrace in 1913 at several dozen thousands.

The fate of the Bulgarians in Asia Minor at this time was very similar to that of their compatriots in Eastern Thrace. Their drama was even more complicated as some of them had to flee two or three times. Once in 1913-14 from Asia Minor to Western Thrace, again in 1919-22 for those who had returned to Asia Minor, and a third time in 1925 when they had to emigrate from Western Thrace up north to the new border of the Bulgarian state.

During the Balkan War and the Inter-Ally War the Bulgarians in Asia Minor were also persecuted and pressed to leave this land forever so that Turkish refugees from the Balkans could move in. The Bulgarian government took measures in their defense. Towards the end of 1913 the Bulgarian legation and general consulate in Istanbul organized the emigration of the Bulgarians in Asia Minor, proposing an exchange of their properties for those of Turkish refugees, which the Ottoman authorities did everything to foil.

The first large group of 912 Bulgarians from Asia Minor set off from Bandirma port for Alexandroupolis on March 20, 1914. On April 9 another group of 289 refugees set off for Alexandroupolis on the same boat. The third group of 669 on April 17, the fourth group of 629 on April 23, the fifth set out on May 4, etc. Eloquent of the circumstances of their emigration is a telegram sent by the consular clerk Zlati Cholakov in Alexandroupolis to the Prime Minister Radoslavov:

"At noon today I arrived here onboard the Nejib under Turkish flag with the banished 320 refugee Bulgarians from the village of Stingel. Our compatriots didn't have a rag to their backs. They were given one hour to leave the village and they set out on foot for Kemer port without any luggage. On the way they were intercepted by armed Turks who searched them and took away all their money and the women's jewelry. Kemer's police chief personally took part in the robbery."

In the final reckoning, by the end of 1914 over 7000 Bulgarians from Asia Minor had been repatriated with the assistance of the French railway company and on Bulgarian and Greek ships. These Bulgarians, however, were forced to leave all their property and were not even given the chance to harvest their fields, dooming them to starvation. Those who had money were ruthlessly robbed by the gangs, customs officers and border authorities. According to the treaty signed in Ankara (the Angora Treaty) the Bulgarian refugees from Asia Minor were formally given the right to go back some time and sell their property. But this remained only on paper. The Istanbul authorities warned those willing to go and settle their property matters later that they could not assist them or guarantee their life, which made such an initiative inconceivable. The record of immovable property abandoned in Turkey by the Bulgarian refugees from Asia Minor, based on the statements of 1650 families gives the following data: 1527 houses, 119 shops, 1070 farm buildings, 106 mills, 249,130 decares of fields, 3867 decares of meadows, 2664 decares of gardens, 6738 decares of vineyards, 124,855 decares of woods.
Violence over the Bulgarian population in Thrace continued after the war. The case of the ruined village of Huhla, Ivaylovgrad region, is very characteristic and not isolated. The local Turks warned their Bulgarian neighbors, whose arms had been confiscated before the withdrawal of the Bulgarian troops, that the bands of the so-called "Comotini Republic" set up in Western Thrace were planning a raid on them, but these disbelieved. Soon enough the outrages in the neighboring villages came to Huhla. First the icon-painter was killed in the church. Then the men were gathered in a house and slaughtered to the last one. The women and children were tied to a rope and taken to Ivaylovgrad, where they were kept for three days and resealed. Going back to Huhla they found the whole village burned down. They buried in the ashes the killed men without funeral service because the priest was dead too.

The total number of forcefully expatriated Bulgarians from Asia Minor in 1914 is estimated at 6500. In the next few years this number grew by several thousand. In the aggregate, about 200,000 Bulgarians were banished from Asia Minor and Eastern Thrace in 1913.


Massacres of Bulgarians in 1904-1911

Massacres of Bulgarians in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace in 1904-1911

The distress and persecutions did not end with the crush of the uprising. A letter of September 9, 1903, written by the General Staff of the Second Macedonia-Edirne Revolutionary District, addressed to the government of the Bulgarian Principality and delivered via the Executive of the Bulgarian Trade Agency seated in Bitola, is indicative of the deplorable plight of Bulgarian nationals in Macedonia and Edirne region in the wake of the uprising. The letter, urging for immediate support, including military intervention, is an eloquent document of the ruin of Bulgarian population and its unending hardships:

"In view of the critical and horrible situation, which Bulgarian population faced in the Bitola Vilayet after the devastations and atrocities committed by the Turkish troops and bashi-bazouk; in view of the fact that those devastations and atrocities are continuing on a systematic base and there is no way to foresee how far they could go; further, in view of the perspective that every Bulgarian here faces the risk to be killed and vanish without any memory of the violation, hunger and upcoming penury, the General Staff deems it our duty to draw the attention of the Esteemed Bulgarian Government to the pending fatal ramifications to the Bulgarian nation, in case the government fails to do its duty to its blood brothers here in an impressive and active manner, necessitated by the situation and the danger Bulgarian society is facing today.

Believing that the Esteemed Government is briefed on the ultimate ruin of the vilayet, we deem it unnecessary to repeat detailed facts, so we are to restrict ourselves to summarizing in a few points the present situation and the impending and immediate ramifications to our people.
1. Both in the burnt and derelict and in the rest of the Bulgarian villages with a few exceptions, the surviving part of the crop is left unharvested as each woman or man, who would turn up before the eyes of the Turkish troops and bashi-bazouk are being murdered, the crop is being garnered by the Turkish population under the protection of Turkish authorities. Most of the harvest as well as the looted cattle are used for the maintenance of the troops.
2. All materials, implements and horned cattle used to plough the fields were burnt in the villages, and what remained, was plundered by the soldiers and the bashi-bazouk.
3. Almost all small farm animals which w?re the means of living of a greater part of the mountain population, were killed or driven away again by the order of the authorities.
4. All burnt villages were plundered prior to being set ablaze; similar was the lot of those of the villages that have not been yet reduced to ashes - the houses were left with bare walls and their inhabitants, men, women and children - with only their clothes on.
5. Religious rites are abandoned, the churches were also burnt along with the
villages, and those not set ablaze, were looted, damaged and desecrated. In many places Turks used them during their stay in the villages either as stables or lavatories, for example in the villages of Tash Munishta, Smilevo, Kriveni, Krushe, etc.
6. No Bulgarian school opened, neither would open, because:
- The population is displaced as a result from the Turkish terror;
- Almost all the teachers as well as the priests joined the militant detachments, hence became incapacitated;
- Nobody thinks of education being outlawed because of one's Bulgarian nationality and fighting hunger;
7. In many places the Turkish authorities informed the remaining population that they would have to pass under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate, if willing their lives to be spared. Examples: the regions of Ohrid, Kostur, Lerin and Bitola, where the troops accompanied by a Greek Bishop forced the population to lay down their arms and recognize the Patriarchate.

8. After our first attacks, we saw ourselves forced to remain passive, as whenever we engage in battle against the mobilized Turkish battalions either waiting in ambush or from positions in compliance with our action tactics, after the end of the battle the Turks assault the nearby unarmed men, women and children and kill whomever they come upon, rape women and maids, set on fire villages and forests and drive away the livestock. Cases: in the villages of Armensko, Lerinsko, where 114 old people, children and women were killed, Krushe, Leoraka, Kriveni, Zlatari, Podmochani, Elha, etc. in the region of Resen; Plake, Rechitsa, Sirulia, Kuratitsa, etc. in the region of Ohrid; Smilevo, Dyavato, in the region of Bitola and so on.

As a result from the aforementioned, we bring to the attention of the Esteemed Bulgarian Government the deplorable and helpless plight of the people at the present moment as well as the impending in foreseeable future cruel and sad fate in financial and healthy and spiritual and educational aspects. Being eyewitnesses of this appalling situation, we dare to outline in no uncertain terms the gloomy future perspectives as follows:

1. As a result from hunger and upcoming winter, one third of the people are doomed to certain death.
2. As the cattle and farming implements fell a prey to either fires or Turks, the population, even if they be left alone, with no means to cultivate the land would find themselves forced to become farmhands.
3. The rest of the population, degrading spiritually and in want of the necessary means of subsistence, would not be able to stand against the will of Turkish authorities and the alluring and scaring propaganda of rampant Greek bishops and their underlings and for sure would pass under the jurisdiction of the Greek Patriarchate, thus being lost for good to the Bulgarian Church and nation.
4. Let's not overlook the following: For a while now, the Bulgarian population here has been secretly proposed by Catholic or Protestant missionaries to convert in case they want to be protected from Turkish atrocities. No wonder if that part of the population who would not succumb to Greek enticements, would convert to Protestantism or the Uniat Church.

In view of all this, we wonder as to why the Esteemed Government, running the interests of the Bulgarian people, is continuing to look with equanimity at the systematic extermination of Bulgarians and at how they are losing face and prestige before the world.

In our capacity of leaders of the national movement here, we call on you on behalf of enslaved Bulgarians to come to their rescue in a most efficient manner -through war. We believe that the response is the same among the people in Independent Bulgaria. Looking forward to your patriotic intervention, we are pleased to inform you that we have at our disposal our armed forces that we have spared for the time being. The General Staff"

Bulgaria, pressed by international commitments and being a special object of suspicion on the part of the Great Powers, who never forgot the Union of the Bulgarian Principality and Eastern Rumelia carried out against their will, received through diplomatic channels warnings against any initiatives in that line. The only thing Bulgaria could do in an environment of international isolation was to open up its borders for refugees from Eastern Thrace and Macedonia.

In the wake of the Uprising on Saint Elijah's Day, the Great Powers imposed on the Ottoman Empire the so-called Mursteg reforms concerning the Macedonian population. The reforms aimed at gradual improvement of the administration in order to ease the pressure on the non-Muslim population. However, the envisaged control exerted including through introducing the status of civil agents and foreign officers proved to be insufficient and, in fact, the reforms failed to achieve their goal. They did not ease the plight of ethnic Bulgarians in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace, all the more so that the reforms did not apply to Eastern Thrace, where compact groups of Bulgarian population

lived at the time. The willfulness of the authorities, atrocities and murders committed by Turkish, Albanian, Greek and Serbian bands, involving regular Turkish troops went on, violating and ruining the ethnic Bulgarians in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace even after the implementation of the reforms.

On July 9, 1905, Bulgarian Trade Agent seated in Edirne filed a report to the diplomatic representative for the Bulgarian Principality in Istanbul, Dr. Grigor Nachovich, stating that the information delivered from the region of Malko Tarnovo is not at all a comfort, quite the contrary, it is indicative of the sufferings of ethnic Bulgarians in that part of Eastern Thrace, where soldiers were still committing outrages unpunished.

In another report of December 31, he informed the diplomatic representative in Istanbul that all across Eastern Thrace persecutions on the part of the authorities against Bulgarian teachers and priests had been stepped up. In a report of January 31, 1905, he tells of information received from a random traveler that in the prison of Orta Koy some 80 had been detained.

Of violence against Bulgarians in the Bitola region informs also the trade agent there in a letter sent on February 7, 1905, to the prime minister and minister of foreign affairs General Racho Petrov:

"Esteemed Minister, for a month now, Bulgarians from Deburtsa, Ohrid region, have been subject to unceasing persecutions both on the part of the authorities and the bashi-bazouk. Villagers are not leaving their villages to go to the markets or the fields for the risk of being killed by the bashi-bazouk, who are prowling about the roads day and night armed cap-a-pie."

Bulgaria's Prime Minister received a detailed letter also from the trade agent in Skopje, who informed him on February 6, 1905, of the joint actions against Bulgarians by Albanian bands of bandits and Turkish committees:

"Esteemed Minister, Albanian gangs of bandits, set up and financed by Turkish patriotic committees on the extermination of Bulgarians are developing on a systematic basis their exterminatory activities.

Leaders of these gangs as a rule are Turkish notables and beys, and on more than one occasion, officials, such as the prosecutor of the high court of law in Kumanovo, who also chairs the Kumanovo Turkish Patriotic Committee. In his encouragements this arm of the law conveyed to the rampant Albanian bands, he warned them of one thing: to kill, never leaving any eyewitnesses of their evil deeds alive. This is why these bands are now acting in the regions of Kumanovo and Palanec, where the Serb propaganda is also developing an exterminatory activity as concerning Bulgarians, a fact, which could be used to cover the crimes committed by the gangs of the Turkish committees.

With the recent murders in Kumanovo, some 20 in 10 days alone, it is more than obvious that the gangs of bandits aim at exterminating the Christian population, as most of those killed had been found with their money and belongings on."

The Bulgarian trade agent in Edirne informs the Principality's Diplomatic Representative in Istanbul Grigor Nachovich on March 1, 1905, about new successive arrests of Bulgarians in the vilayet:

"I have the honor to inform you that on February 20 and 23, 60 detainees from Orta Koy were brought to Edirne, 41 from Comotini, and 30 from Alexandroupolis, or a total of 131. According to my information, the prisons in Comotini, Alexandroupolis and Orta Koy are still crowded to the capacity with Bulgarians. The total of the detainees in those prisons is impossible to tell for the reason that more and more are brought in, while others are released. Anyway, their number is times higher than the one I had the honor to report under the above outgoing number. In these three districts there are almost no Bulgarians who have not been imprisoned or suffered everything the detainees go through. All houses have been looted to some extent or another, and Manastir village in the Comotini region has been totally plundered by soldiers and Turks from the neighboring village Mekhrikus. All of those not detained yet, have fled into the woods for fear of soldiers and they go home only in case the soldiers leave the village. Soldiers are using excessive violence in the villages. In the prison of Comotini the guards pissed in the kamelaukion of the priest from Sachanli village, Iliya, pulling off his trousers to taunt him. The priest from Manastir village, Father Ivan, has been subject to the same humiliations. While transported under guard, the two priests, shackled in chains have been taken to the railway station by a cart full of dung."

On March 25, 1905, The Annunciation, the Day of Greece's Liberation, the village of Zagorichane, Kostur region, has been devastated and its villagers massacred; the village was believed to be among the richest in the region as the men were working in Istanbul, Edirne and Cairo. Until the uprisings on Saint Elijah's Day and Transfiguration in 1903, when it was also hit heavily, Zagorichane boasted over 600 wonderful two-story houses. On the said date it was stricken out of the blue by a gang of Greek Andarts, who set it ablaze and killed 62. This evil deed, unlike many other such cases, was brought to public knowledge thanks to a survey conducted by the European committee, set up as a result of the efforts of the Bulgarian Atanas Kokov from Bobishta village, region of Kostur, who, risking his life, went to Bitola and succeeded in meeting the Bulgarian trade agent A. Toshev and telling him of the events in Zagorichane. Mr. Toshev immediately sent a circular note to the representatives of the Great Powers seated in Bitola, recounting the story.

On receiving the note, the representatives of Austria and Russia immediately showed up at the vali's, requiring detailed information of the developments. At the urgent request of the two foreign representatives, the vali, who was explicit he knew nothing at all, asked the eyewitness to be brought in. Bulgarian Atanas Kokov told once again everything in the presence of the consuls and the vali. On the next day, the two consuls themselves set off for Zagorichane. Until nightfall they with their interpreters interviewed the families of all the 62 killed and 6 wounded Bulgarians. Most pathetic was the sight of killed men and women displayed in the church yard.
"There, killed people were to be seen with their eyeballs gouged out, chests ripped, limbs cut and skulls smashed."At this horrendous sight, Col. Albera, head of the gendarmerie in Bitola said: 'As an officer of the Italian army I have been waging many battles against African tribes but I
have never witnessed such atrocities to this day." Greek Andarts, perpetrators of that crime among many others, were predominantly Cretans, who came to Macedonia with the watchword: All That Is Bulgarian to Be Wiped Out'."

Greek Andarts sneaked into the Bulgarian village of Zeleniche and callously murdered celebrating and unsuspecting guests at a wedding. Those same Andarts captured in the mountains villagers who went there for firewood, tied them up in a line and slew them with axes.
In a report to the Bulgarian Consul in Istanbul of April 5, 1905, Bulgarian trade agent in Skopje shared his concern over the fact that for some time Bulgarian population in the region of Gostivar was troubled by the unceasing "murders, pillages, fires and outrages of Albanian gangs of bandits across the Christian villages" there. Irregardless of the numerous complaints filed by those affected, the authorities took no actions to tackle the crimes and in many places the evil deeds were fastened on Bulgarians themselves with the latter triggering yet further persecutions and imprisonments. Recently, the sheikh of the Muslim tekke, located nearby the village of Vrutok, Gostivar region, aspired to expropriate the Bulgarian graveyard, near his house. The villagers opposed which triggered persecutions against them.

In the report received by Nachovich from the Bulgarian agent in Serres of May 19, 1905, a case was recounted with officers forcing the soldiers to fire at peaceful Bulgarian villagers for no apparent reason or even any sign of disobedience.

"In the region of Serres it is noticed and already stated that soldiers fire at and kill peaceful farmhands and shepherds with no apparent reason by the order of their officers. A stunning fact was reported: on 15th this month, in the vicinities of the village of Kurchevo, Preslop locality, Demirhissar district, villager from Kurchevo, Delyu Delchev was peacefully shepherding, when Binbasi Halidaa and many soldiers stood in his way. The binbasi immediately commanded his men to detain him and start battering him. After that he commanded them to stab him with their bayonets, until the poor shepherd passed away. In order to cover their awful crime, the binbasi commanded the soldiers to drag the body of Delyu Delchev to the steep slopes and throw it in a ravine and bury it under stones."

The trade agent from Skopje sent also a report on June 15 to Bulgaria's Prime Minister Racho Petrov to inform of the stepped up assaults and murders of Bulgarians in Tetovo region, committed by Albanian and Turkish gangs.

"Esteemed Minister, the recent activities of Turkish patriotic committees gather momentum. It is especially noticeable in the district of Tetovo. The murders and pillages committed there by Albanian and Turkish gangs do not look like being sporadic and without any logical connections, quite the contrary, they show all the signs of an implemented programme of extermination on the part of the aforementioned Turkish committee. Their men become more and more insolent with every passing day committing all their crimes, sure that their impunity is secured, as they are aware that they are carrying out the orders of high-positioned Turkish and Albanian beys. In this line, the most notorious one is Alii Bey from Tetovo. His men have been perpetrating series of murders and pillages, without being held accountable by the authorities."

Bulgarian Prime Minister, Racho Petrov received from the trade agent in Bitola a letter of July 18, 1905, informing of the intensifying anti-Bulgarian mindsets among the Turkish population, supported by the authorities, especially in those regions where the international control was either inefficient or not available:

"Esteemed Minister,
While the rivalry between different propagandas is gaining momentum with every passing day, local Turks, led by the authorities, are letting their evil instincts loose. It shows mostly in those parts of Macedonia, where the reforms did not spread, i.e. where even illusionary international control, tangible in the reformed regions is not available. In Debar, for example, Turks evil-doers, whose profession is gangsterism and killing, are believed to be heroes rather than being prosecuted by the authorities - a fact that even further intensifies anyway militant Turkish fanaticism. Yesterday two Bulgarians from Debarani presented themselves to me, who reported the facts stated below, which facts prove the worthiness of the above said."

Yet another letter sent from Bitola on July 28, to Bulgaria's prime minister informs the latter that apart from the Serbian gangs, several Albanian-Turkish gangs prowl about the region of Kitchevo, killing and doing harm to the population with perfect impunity. Such a gang of 20 surrounded the village of Svetorechi in end-June. Four gangers sneaked into the village, killing a Bulgarian, Kitan Mitsov and wounding another one, Yakim Prodromov. Villagers succeeded in organizing their defense and the assaulters retreated.

A report of August 22, 1905, by the manager of the agency, seated in Bitola, to Prime Minister Racho Petrov is indicative of the fact that among the military units, perpetrators of crimes against the peaceful Bulgarian nationals there were also Greeks in Turkish uniforms who are assumed to be Greek Andarts.

"On 5th inst, a military squad headed for the village of Rakovo, Bitola region, chased away all the villagers, men, women and children, who were working in the fields and those captured were tortured inhumanely. Most cruelly were battered Ivanche Boichev, a field-keeper and Riste Traichev. The two of them are here now with their heads smashed. Riste had been dragged to the Turkish village of Ukleshtina, in many places he almost got killed, yet he succeeded in escaping as late as night. On the way he noticed that many of the soldiers talked in Greek, which is indicative that the squad was mixed - soldiers and Greek gangsters."

In early September, Bitola-based trade agent filed two more reports to Bulgaria's prime minister on the unceasing atrocities and murders of Bulgarians committed by Greek gangs and Turkish soldiers in Bitola district:

"As if the numerous Turkish and Greek gangs prowl about every nook and corner of the vilayet perpetrating unseen acts of violence against entire Bulgarian villages under the protection of the authorities, the report of September 7th, 1905 reads, are not making things worse, recently such deeds seem to be made the duty of the regular soldiers as well. For example, on 1st inst, three soldiers on their way from Bitola met the mayor of Kukurechani village, Riste Kitev, who was coming back from Bitola. Without any reason the soldiers captured Riste, brought him to the village of Kurklino, beating him almost to death and imprisoned him in the school building. The same soldiers, on leaving the village of Kurklino, came to meet another poor villager, Petre Troichev from Tsurno Buki village, driving a cart full of roof-tiles. The latter was also captured for no reason at all, apparently for the mere fact of being a Bulgarian, beaten almost to death and left in the middle of the road."

The tally of acts of violence against Bulgarians is kept in a report of September 9 of the same year:

"Murders committed by Turks multiplied. On 2nd inst, Turks killed Bulgarians Zmeiko Tsvetkov from Koshino village and Boshe Gilev from Novoseliani village, district of Prilep. Both of them were among the smartest Bulgarian patriots, which was the reason for the murder. The act was perpetrated by Turks, bribed by the Greek committee; hearsay blames the killings on the Serb propaganda. Killers are known but it is a common practice such criminals not to be prosecuted by the authorities."

Grigor Nachovich received a report of November 12, 1905, from Thessalonica, in which report the Bulgarian trade agent informs him of the escalation of tension and fears of the Bulgarians due to the spread rumors of pending slaughter:

"We have the honor to inform you that for two or three days now, disturbing rumors have been spread of massacres, believed to be planned to start in Macedonian hinterland, of meetings of Turks and night sermons delivered by imams at the mosques, etc. In the meanwhile information was received from the district of Stip that 17 Bulgarians had been killed by Turks in the outskirts of the town in a day alone, and that in Negotino, district of Tikves, two Bulgarian teachers have been killed and in the same district on the same day - a dozen of villagers had been murdered. On the same day, Mr. Grevs, the British Consul in Thessalonica, received a letter from a British citizen, Carlo who owns a farm on the borderline of the Stip and Tikves districts and a factory in the small town of Negotino, informing the consul that the Turks in those places were very agitated and in two or three days alone Turks committed some hundred murders without any of the perpetrators being captured, that the two Bulgarian teachers were killed before his eyes in Negotino and that he found the situation very unsafe, asking his interests to be protected if need be. Mr. Grevs immediately paid a visit to Hilmi Pasha, informed the latter of the developments, requiring protection for his subject. Hilmi Pasha said in answer he knew nothing of any serious incidents in the region of Stip..."

Enclosed in a letter of November 15, 1905, the Principality's trade agent in Thessalonica sent to the prime minister a petition filed by the Bulgarians from two villages in Tikves district to the Chief Inspector in Thessalonica, Hilmi Pasha with a copy to the representatives of the Great Powers in the city.


Filed to Chief Inspector Hilmi Pasha, Civil Agents and Consuls based in Thessalonica
by the mayors of Kavadartsi, Negotino, Vatesha, Galichnik, Marena and Purzhevo, Tikves dustrict

Your Excellency,
The undersigned mayors and councilors of Kavadartsi and Purzhevo, Tikves District, standing proxy for the Christian Bulgarian population in the abovemen-tioned villages, have the honour to report to Your Excellency on the gory drama of the Christian people, taking place here.

On September 16th, 1905 at 2:00 a.m. young man Alexander Mishev, born in Kavadartsi, was heavily wounded with a pistol in his shop by two unknown Turks. The murderers escaped though the authorities had the chance to capture them as at the same time soldiers were standing and laughing across from the shop. The authorities were immediately informed of the incident; however they not only did nothing, but Chief Police Officer Hussein Effendi told the wounded man that the assault was committed by mistake, as the killers searched to murder his brother, Lazar Meshe... (signatures)."

Complaints of Bulgarians from Tikves district, exposed to acts of violence committed by Turkish squads are enclosed also in the report by the Thessalonica-based agent to Grigor Nachovich in Istanbul, sent on November 24 of the same year:

"Villages in Tikves district go on lodging complaints against tortures and atrocities committed by soldiers and Turkish gangs. The day before yesterday, ten men from Borovo village, Tikves district, arrived in Thessalonica to complain to Hilmi Pasha and the civil agents. There were three people among them bruised all over their bodies, as they were tortured and beaten by soldiers. The villagers were received and certified by Officers Poltanov and Simitior... Their names are: Lazo Petrov, Yordan Nedev and Kamche Ponov. They left behind in their village five other men who were bed-ridden due to their wounds and injuries from the beating. Their names are: Dine Nikolov, Hristo Stoyanchev, Ilyo Hristov, Kotso Hristov and Enaki Pavlov. All have been beaten by the soldiers who searched the villages thrice. During the second search a villager was killed and the notables went to Kavadartsi to lodge a complaint. After that the soldiers came to the village for a third time on November 20th, to once again torture the villagers, reiterating: Let Russian officers come to your rescue... "

In end-1905, the Principality's trade agent in Thessalonica sent a new in a row list of the killed Bulgarians in the Veles district in the recent five months August 15th - December 28th, 1905:
Tode Atsev, born in Bashino village, killed on August 15th daytime in the village;
Ando Todev, born in Veles town, killed by Turks on August 27th daytime on the road to Lushitsa village;
Toto Karov, born in Veles town, killed by Turks on August 27th, on the road to Lushitsa village;
Dime Ivanov, born in Vitantsi village, killed by five Turks on August 29th at nightfall;
Traiko Yankov, born in Vitantsi village, killed by five Turks on August 29th at nightfall;
Father Gr. Lazarov, born in Bechishta village, Tetovo district, killed by two soldiers on September 3rd near Gradika village;
Ivan Panev, born in Elovets village, died from fatal injuries, inflicted on him by bashi-bazouk on September 6th daytime in Veles town;
Tsane Stoikov, born in Nechaevtsi village, gone missing on September 8th;
Alexo Ivanov, born in Dolno Rakovets village, killed by two Turks on September 10th out of the village;
Alexo Davchev, born in Dolno Rakovets village, killed by two Turks on September 10th out of the village;
Peter Yanov, born in Dryanovo village, killed by Turks on September 10th in the Burdoto locality;
Pano Petrov, born in Izvor village, killed on September 12th at nightfall at the Old Water-Mill;
Orde Mitsev, born in Vitanovo village, killed on September 12th at nightfall at the Old Water-Mill;
Peno Arsov, born in Podles village, died from his injuries inflicted on him on September 12th by Abde Atim;
Ile Panov born in Sgoropaltsi village, killed by Ali Ада on September 18th out of the village;
Georgi Velianov, born in Oreshe village, killed by a Serbian gang on September 13th daytime;
Petre Georgiev, born in Oreshe village, killed by a Serbian gang on September 13th;
Marko Spasov, born in Veles, killed by three Turks on September 16th daytime between Otovitsa and Dugan villages;
Petro Sazarov from Voden town, killed on September 28th;
Ordo Stoyanoc from Rashani village, killed by Kasir Kurtis on September 28th in the vicinity of Veles;
Mite Angelov from Rashani village, killed by Kasir Kurtis on September 28th in the vicinity of Veles;
Lazo Netsov, killed on September 28th in the vicinity of Veles;
Father Zafir Proikov, born in Omorani village, killed on October 31st;
Tevo, son of Father Zafir Proikov, killed on October 31st;
Pano Damev, born in Omorani village, killed on October 31th;
Student killed by the troops on November 18th in Novo Selo;
Student killed by the troops on November 18th in Novo Selo;
Student killed by the troops on November 18th in Novo Selo;
Olche Lazarov, born in Gorno Chibevo village, killed by two Turks on November 22nd daytime, in the Kamik locality;
Anasto Nikolov, born in Selb village, killed by Bekir Umer on October 26th, in the Lozla Vodsa locality;
Lazo Pavlev, born in Seleniani village, killed by Turks on November 2nd, in the Ballar locality;
Milan Tsukov, born in Rashtani village, killed by Turks on November 3rd, In the Bazhdaritsa locality;
Ivan Ilev, born in Kriva Krusha village, killed by four Turks on November 3rd at the water-mill owned by Khamza Effendi in Elovets village;
Andrei Stoyanov, born in Oreshe village, killed by a Serbian gang on November 11th daytime in the village;
Mite Rostov, born in Selb village, by two Albanians on November 12th, in the Strazha locality;
Pano Angelov, born in Rashtani village, killed by soldiers and bashi-bazouk on November 13th daytime;
Father Dan. Angelov, born in Teovo village, killed by a Serbian gang on November 13th;
Pano Dimov, born in Rashtani village, killed by Ali Asan and Deli Bekir on November 14th;
Pavle Deianov, born in Svekiani village, killed by Turks on November 15th daytime, while ploughing his field;
Andrei Petrunev, born in Lisitche village, killed by Turks on November 16th;
Dolcho Temelkov, born in Martoltsi village, killed by a Serbian gang on December 1st daytime;
Ando Temelkov, born in Omorani village, killed by four Turks on December 2nd, while tilling his field;
Nicola Angelov, born in Sopot village, killed by Albanians on December 2nd out of the village;
Anastas Dimov, born in Dolno Orizari village, killed by Hussein from the same village on December 5th;
Ande Dimov, born in Dolno Orizari village, killed by Hussein from the same village on December 5th;
Ivan Panov, born in Hurlevtsi village, killed by Turks on December 7th daytime, out of the village;
Sazdo Stoikov, born in Martoltsi village, killed by Serbian voivode Ivan Stoikov on December 10th at night at home;
Ando Tashov, born in Martoltsi village, killed by Serbian voivode Ivan Stoikov on December 10th at nightfall;
Bogdan Aitov from Martoltsi village, killed by Serbian voivode Ivan Stoikov on December 10th at nightfall;
Stefko Yankov, born in Golozintsa village, killed by Turks on December 11th, in Novo Selo;
Orde Yankov from Golozintsa village, killed by Turks on December 11th, in Novo Selo;
Orde Angelov, born in Martoltsi village, killed on December 15th In the Ruen locality;
Stephan Sokolov, born in Lisitche village, killed by Turks on December 14th daytime at Vranovtsi;
Ando Bochev, born in Novo Selo village, killed by three Turks on December 28th daytime in the outskirts of the village;
A. Stoyanov, born in Novo Selo village, killed by three Turks on December 28th daytime in the outskirts of the village.

Each of the five Bulgarian trade agencies based in the European part of Turkey in the towns of Edirne, Thessalonica, Serres, Bitola and Skopje, including Bulgaria's diplomatic mission in Istanbul were, on a regular basis, making reports on the acts of violence and murders committed against Bulgarians in the respective regions, forwarding the reports to the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Denominations in Sofia. Tallies were kept only of those of the cases on which Bulgarian representative succeeded in gathering dependable information. Many of the cases failed to be reported by the diplomatic representatives as the authorities meticulously covered up such cases, and the victims could not brace themselves up to lodge complaints or testify about committed murders, as violators used to punish harshly for such displays of courage. So, the ultimate number of murdered Bulgarians in Macedonia or Eastern Thrace is much larger than the figures in the regular reports of the diplomats.

The tallies were shaped as information of the Systematic Extermination of Bulgarian Population in the Vilayets. The name of the column perfectly mirrors the plight of ethnic Bulgarians in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace in the years following the signing of the Bulgarian-Turkish Agreement of 1904, projected to normalize

and secure the lives and property of the Christian population in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace in the presence of European observers and representatives of the countries reformers.

In such a roundup, based on the reports of Bulgarian trade and diplomatic representatives on the killed Bulgarian civilians in Macedonia in the period 1904-1905 and the first half of 1907, 1,960 victims were reported, of which dependable and verified information had been gathered. Of them, 1,736 were men, 117 women and 107 children. A statistical report was made on the nationality of the perpetrators of the murders:
- 737 were killed by Turkish and Albanian bands;
- 296 were killed by regular Turkish troops;
- 848 were killed by Greek Andarts;
- 79 by Serbian gangs.
Persecutions and mass murders of Bulgarians in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace went on in 1906 too, i.e. after almost two years expired of the signing of the Agreement on Friendship and Cooperation between Bulgaria and Turkey.

The report sent by Bulgarian trade agent in Skopje, Todor Nedkov of January 8, 1906, to the Principality's diplomatic agent in Istanbul, Grigor Nachovich tells the same story:

"Mass arrests of Bulgarians, made by the authorities under absolutely unreasonable pretexts, are going on. Many people are taken from their work places and therefore many houses are closed. Brutality and unlawfulness, which Turkish administration proves unable to shake off, have reached their highest point in the persecutions against Bulgarians.

A denunciation or libel made or committed by a venal person and even a mere suspicion suffice to imprison masses of innocent people and disrupt the living of a number of households.

After the incident in Palanec, where authorities detained some 40 villagers on the evidence of a spy alone, Franco Beskir and after the emergency court, despite their good will, could not sentence them, followed the Veles case on which thirty Bulgarians - merchants and notables are imprisoned. And now there is yet another case similar to the former one, on which local authorities have detained thirty people. A Petre Stoyanov from Prilep town, who had been acting for a year or so now with the Bulgarian detachments, walked out of the detachment for differences with his mates, pronounced himself a Serbian national and surrendered to the guard in the village of Liubantsi, Skopje district, naming a number of villagers and citizens, with whom he contacted in his capacity of a rebel.

As a result, authorities detained on December 30th last and brought here these Bulgarians: Ivancho Buchvarov, Todor Nikolov, Petso Stankov, Stoilko Tefkov, Atso Spasov, Nedelko, Bozhin Christov. Mayor of the village, teacher Dimo Gavov, Tsvetko Petrov, Netso Traikov, Stefko Mekhandjiata, Krustiu Popov, Stanko Mitrev, Tsvetko Atsev, Spaso Stoyanov, Milosh Velkov, Georgi Pavlev, Mitsi Stoyanov, Lavo Velkov, Yovan Velkov, Georgi Tsvetin and Ando Kikerkov from Liubantsi village, Veliko Stoyanov and his son Phillip from the village of Chereshovo, the same district, Yane Zhizhov - a wealthy farmer, Bulgarian from Drachevo, the same district, and his brother Todor, both of them residing in the town, Anastas Yakimov, teacher in local primary schools, Pando Kondurdjiata from the town and Panko Georgieva and Panko Krustev from the village of Dolno Sulne, Skopje district.

At the inquiry conducted the day before yesterday, 11 people from Liubantsi village were admitted. The investigation in the cases of the rest of the detainees is ongoing. Some of the detainees have already been indicted under Article 58 of the Ottoman Penal Code.

Informing the consuls of the Reforming countries of the incident, I focused their attention on the promiscuous detention of a number of people, who even if not trialed, are taken from their jobs and entire households are left in despair. The abovemen-tioned consuls promised to confer with the Vali about the matter."

The involvement of the authorities in the acts of violence against Bulgarian population is confirmed also by the mayors and councilors from 15 villages in Demirhissar region who visited the Bitola-based Bulgarian agent to tell him about the hardships and harassment exerted on them by bashi-bazouk and the authorities.

"The mayors and councilors from Demirhissar region: Brezovo, Sar, Gorno Tsursko and Dolno Tsursko, Goliamo Ilino and Malko Ilino, Sopotnitsa, Pusta Reka, Gorno Diviadi and Dolno Diviadi, Babino, Bezdernik, Zashle and Prostrani, who arrived here several days ago, said that the bodies of the administrative and military authorities were committing monstrous atrocities in their region. First of all, villagers complain of the criminal attitude towards them on the part of tax-collectors Sukria Effendi, also from Bitola and sipahi Ahmed Suleiman Nalbantin from Bitola. Those representatives of public power went to perform their duty in the villages always escorted by ten to fifteen soldiers and several bashi-bazouks. Apart from eating and drinking for several days in a row for free, they and the soldiers escorting them refused to issue any receipts, so some of the taxes have been collected several times each.

The neighbors from Turkish villages hunt on a regular basis in their forests, often escorted by soldiers. In such cases nobody dares to leave the village, as those captured by the hunters outside the bounds of the village, are beaten and raped. Soldiers in their turn under the pretext of the shooting by the hunters search the village to find reasons to incriminate the men in rebel activities and harboring rebels..."

The news, broken in the reports below by Bulgarian trade agent in Bitola, Zh. Dobrev discloses the ties between the authorities and the Greek, Serbian, Albanian and Turkish gangs, murdering and busting the Bulgarians in the vilayet.

"Apart from the Greek and Serbian gangs, who recently crowded the vilayet to the capacity, purely Turkish terrorist bands showed up, formed to exterminate Bulgarian population. They are said to be secretly formed by the government itself.

To this day, three such gangs are operating in Kostur district of ten to twelve militants each. The first gang is led by Selu and Oran from the village of Zaburdeni and the second by Osman Ада from Dragichevo village. I failed to learn the name of the leader of the third one.

The gangs prowl about the roads and set ambushes for Bulgarians on those roads. On February 20th last, they killed Bulgarian Georgiu from Galitsa village, when the latter was returning from the fields. On February 27th, they killed from ambush Bulgarian Manol Petrovski from the village of Doleni. The latter was coming home from the market in Hrupishta. According to locals, the Turkish gangs, formed and patronized by the authorities, were even worse than the Andarts, who could not boast their bravery."

The report of Bitola-based trade agent of April 6th, 1906 to the Bulgarian Minister of Domestic Affairs, Dimiter Petkov, acting Foreign Minister, also informs of atrocities committed against Bulgarians in the region of Kostur:

"Esteemed Minister,
The situation of the Bulgarians in the region of Kostur is further deteriorating. The atrocities committed recently by Greek gangs have terrorized Bulgarian villagers to such an extent that the latter live in fear not to be assaulted and slain and their houses plundered. On their part, troops escorted by bashi-bazouk prowl about the villages, searching houses and doing harm... "

Months later the reports by the manager of the Edirne-based Bulgarian agency, G. Stoev to Nachovich broke further scaring pieces of news about the situation of the Bulgarians in Eastern Thrace:

"Mr. Agent, he wrote to Nachovich in Istanbul on May 5th of the same year, very worrying news are received from the region of Orta Koy. Recently, the situation in that district has become critical. Persecutions and arrests were resumed in line with the detachments led by Aranaudov and Nikolov. Many of the villagers were scared into fleeing at the sight of the tortures inflicted on those detained earlier. According to the information received, on 24th last month alone, when the persecutions started, a woman, Yana Angelinina and 29 men from Gokce Bunar fled the village as well as 7 men form Dolno Suvanli village and two women and five men from Gokce Bunar were arrested: Pauna Vulkova, Fota Pashova, Ivan Yankov, Dimiter Grozdev, Dacho Stoyanov, Apostol Kolev and Yanko Atanasov. All of those who fled their villages have been searched for to be arrested. Wife of 90-year-old fugitive Slavil Petrov from Dolno Suvanli village was also detained in the prison in Orta Koy, but she was released two days later. Yana Angelinina, whose husband Dimiter Slavilov was detained earlier, had abandoned her one-year-old infant to God's mercy and no one is aware either of her whereabouts or of what happened to her. The kaymakam (district governor) and Gendarmerie Officer Said Effendi threatened the mayors that in case the latter fail to bring all the fugitives in time, the former would deploy troopers to bust the villages. The two also forced the mayors to evict the families of the fugitives and seal off their houses.

Apart from the infantry already deployed in Orta Koy district, 150 cavalrymen were sent from Edirne to those places. You see, Mr. Agent, that instead of calming down the people, instead of appeasing the country, the authorities are insane to an extent to cause even further disasters. All the disturbances up to now, devastating to the population of the Empire, have started in the same way we witness now in Orta Koy.

Promiscuous mass arrests, beating, tortures, threats uttered at the disclosure of a detachment forced the innocent to flee and join a detachment or form a new one. Search parties, assigned to find the fugitives have triggered the flights of more and more people, increasing both the strength and the number of the detachments, avalanching to the dimensions and scale of an uprising, for the crush of which a whole poor region has been turned into ashes and cemeteries.

In my opinion, the situation in Orta Koy is the same. The devastations are not expected to be contained within the borders of that district alone. The population in Dimotika, Soflou, Alexandroupolis, Comotini and Smolian is persecuted and scared to the same extent as the people in the Orta Koy region are, the detachments led by Aranaudov and Nikolov have operated there either, the situation there is the same as the one in Orta Koy. Be it even different, the chasing of the fugitives in the region of Orta Koy would lead the search parties into those districts, from where new fugitives would form new detachments. Anyway, we are on the eve of witnessing the busting of this relatively intact to this day region, if nothing be done as soon as possible, to put an end to the new persecutions.

I deem it most reasonable to take actions to talk the fugitives into surrendering in order to improve the situation. According to the information, those are willing to do so if guaranteed that they would be brought straight to Edirne, without being tortured and if promised to be trialed promptly and justly. The fugitives were certain of their own innocence and harbored no doubts that an unbiased court of law would acquit them. I voiced my fears of the risks posed by the situation here before the consuls of the Great Powers and they shared the opinion that authorities fuel the tension and that we were on the brink of a catastrophe.
The Austrian consul said that at the very beginning of the case as early as the first arrests, he informed his Ambassador in this line and that he would approach him once again. The British consul asked me one-to-one what he himself could do, when the two reformist countries happened to defend Turkey. The French consul held the opinion that as concerning the problems of the vilayet, the consuls were so positioned that they were not big wheels and their intervention without being sanctioned by the embassies would rather harm than prove helpful as he had witnessed such developments on more than one occasion. Only positive instructions by the Ambassadors, to rely on, could render their (of the consuls, S.R.) intervention helpful. That be the case, the consuls could be sure they would not be cheated on and that the things they would promise the fugitives, would be fulfilled. "Control exerted by the consuls rather than intercession and vindication are what we need here, and that could only be decided by the Embassies. Otherwise, we would become the reason for the fugitives to run their heads into the lion's mouth, without being able to rescue them, even worse, our intervention could only worsen their situation," the French consul concluded. It was only the Russian consul who initially decided that something could be done without awaiting instructions from Istanbul and asked me to keep his intention in secret, until he investigated into and thought over the case for fears that some of his colleagues would inevitably intrigue so that to foil his attempts. However, this morning he told me that the step he had to make was a paramount one and fraught with ramifications, therefore he assumed the opinion of the French consul and that he was writing to the Russian Embassy in Istanbul in the sense that he had to be assigned to visit Orta Koy and from there to send the fugitives a message that he was guaranteeing them all their conditions to be met after they surrender and they to be trialed under his control. He French consul is to write a letter to this effect too. As far as I know, the other consuls wrote almost the same.

Mr. Agent, during the persecutions, started by Turkish authorities against the Bulgarians and everything Bulgarian in the Edirne Vilayet, only through direct control exerted by the consuls of the Great Powers something Bulgarian could survive here. We are chased in every way and in every line, both with or without reasons, and pretexts are being forged where there are no pretexts at all."

Employee at the Thessalonica-based Bulgarian Trade Agency, Y. Peev sent a letter to the Principality's diplomatic agent in Istanbul on May 17th, 1906 enclosing a copy of a collective complaint lodged by the villagers from Vatosha village, Tikves region containing descriptions of the evil deeds they suffered from the Turks.

"As you would have the kindness to see, Peev states, almost every day murders of scared to death villagers are committed. Murders are perpetrated in broad daylight before the eyes of the authorities. On June 28th, two Turks from Disan village, shot dead without any reason teacher Ivan P. Antov and student Milan P. Kotsev in the coffee shop in the centre of the village. One of the killers, Ahmed Saliev was captured by chance, while the other whose name I happen to know, succeeded in escaping. The father of murdered Milan P. Kotsev visited the Agency the day before yesterday with several villagers from Vatosha and on my advice they filed complaints in writing, similar to the enclosed one against the civil agents and Hilmi Pasha. I sent them also to General Schostok and Mr. Para and Mr. Kohmanski to lodge a copy of their petition and tell them about their hardships."


By villagers from Vatosha village, Tikves district
To Mr. Trade Agent of the Principality in Thessalonica

Mister Agent,
More and more vicious murders are committed in our region every day. The day before yesterday, Wednesday, 28th, two new victims fell, our fellow-villagers Ivan P. Antov, a teacher and Milan P. Kotsev, student at the Thessalonian Turkish High School. They were murdered in the coffee shop run by Milan in the center of the village. Our fellow-villagers, Eftim Rostov and Eftim Popov who were there at the time, saw the killers, and our fellow-villager Gelio Boyanchishki happened to know one of them, Turk Ahmed from Disan village. The authorities in Kavadartsi listened to our complaints, but contained themselves to only building vain hopes as always.

Turkish gangs prowl around our district. Our villagers find it almost impossible to leave their homes. The crop is left not harvested in the fields. Markets have almost closed down. We are not able to either sell or buy.

It is enough to list the 29 cases of vicious murders committed here in the period since November last alone for you to grasp the horrible plight we face.

We ask you, Mr. Agent, to exercise your influence where need be, so that the perpetrators of the murders of our fellow-villagers Ivan P. Antov and Milan P. Kotsev to be captured and punished and an end to be put to this awful situation.

In our capacity of proxies of our village Vatosha, we lodge this complaint.

Villagers from Vatosha, Tikves district
Dimo Nedev, Hristo Mishev, Hristo Iliev, Lazo Tanev

Thessalonica-based Bulgarian Trade Agent also tells in his letter of June 17th, 1906 to the prime minister about gangs prowling about the vilayet with perfect impunity, terrorizing the peaceful Bulgarians, encouraged to do so by the authorities:

"Esteemed Minister, despite the large number of troops across the country and the reportedly modernly organized gendarmerie, reformists are so proud of, along with the ranging Greek gangs, numerous Turkish bands with impunity and often in cooperation with the troops themselves plunder and bring to ruin peaceful Bulgarian population.

Friday last, 9th inst. a gang of 30 to 35 bandits, both Albanians and Turks, penetrated the village of Spatovo, Melnik district, and surrounded the house of wealthy Bulgarian Mita Germanov to infantry it. When several bandits sneaked into the house, the son of Mita, Nicola fired with his pistol to warn the neighbors to come to his family's rescue but was immediately shot dead by the assaulters. The maddened bandits raided the house and killed in a most cruel manner Mita Germanov himself, his wife and their 25-year-old daughter Zlata, the wife of earlier murdered Nicola, as well as three maidens from the village of Gornia Sushitsa, Melnik district, Vangelia, Velika and Maria, all of the three aged 18, who happened to be in the house at the time. Three other girls from the same village, three of Nicola's kids, Georgi Dinkov, Mita's son-in-law, as well as master Veliu from the village of Levunovo, Melnik district, survived, as they succeeded to run out of the house..."

On June 17, 1906, Thessalonica-based Bulgarian Trade Agent drafted and sent one after another three reports to Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Denominations, Racho Petrov.

"Apart from the recent complaints lodged to the civil agents and Hilmi Pasha by villagers from the vilayet, reads the first of the reports, one could come to a bit strange conclusion that the population is suffering more often than not from the violence of the Turkish troops, than the evil deeds of the Greek and Turkish gangs, the troopers are supposed to protect the people from.

Bulgarian population in the region of Voden is mostly exposed to the army harassment. Villagers from Guyovo, Voden district, have lodged a new in a row complaint on 6th inst. to the civil agents, a copy of which you'll find enclosed herein. The complaint states a number of unpunished murders and cases of busting, committed by the soldiers deployed there.

It is a common practice for the soldiers to live at the expense of the population and to confiscate every food staple available, such as chickens, eggs, white cheese, etc. They do not think twice when raping all girls or women they come across. This conduct of theirs has scared the people to the extent that they don't even dare to leave their houses and are seeing themselves forced to neglect their fieldworks in the heat of the farming season."

The report sent by Thessalonica-based trade agent sent on August 29th, 1906 to Prime Minister Racho Petrov, also testifies to the participation of regular troops in the acts of violence against the Bulgarians:

"It is no news that Bulgarian population in this poor country has always suffered and suffers mostly from the regular Turkish troops, who have evolved recently into a wild horde of savages, striking terror into the villagers. For that fear the latter have forsaken their fieldwork for quite a while now for woe to those who dare to go out into the fields all alone! Be it a man, he will for sure be shot dead and a woman runs the risk to be raped at the least."

On October 23, 1906, Bulgarian Exarch Joseph sent a confidential letter to the prime minister with enclosed therein an extensive letter to the Grand Vizier of October 17th, 1906, stating a number of facts about the "deplorable plight of the Bulgarian population across the vilayets that is being exterminated on a systematic basis", asking pressingly the Sublime Porte to take prompt and drastic measures so that "the persecutions and extermination of the loyal Bulgarian population to be stopped".

Your Highness,
Over the recent decade I have been drawing the attention of the Imperial Government to the evils done to the loyal Bulgarian population in the vilayets by propagandas hostile to the populations Church and nationality. In a number of takrirs (documents in writing) I have underscored how booth the Greek and Serbian propagandas striving to perform their tasks, win over supporters at the expense of Bulgarian element, spreading their campaigns with impunity across villages and towns, disturbing, demoralizing and fragmenting the congregation of the Exarchate, evicting them from their churches, schools, graveyards and all municipal properties. I pleaded fervently all necessary to be done to stop the evil and to regard with respect Bulgarian nationality. Yet, unfortunately to me and my congregation, all my efforts were to no avail. As if it is not bad enough, that for over three decades now the ecumenical rights, granted to Bulgarian nationals as an individual community within the Empire by a Sultan's decree have been no more than a dead letter, but even those granted are nor regarded with respect and are lifted one by one for the sake of the propagandas.

The freshest is the example with the four Bulgarian metropolitans, whose rights are being questioned, though they have been granted berats (Sultan's decrees) in this respect. The Meclises are continuing to expel their vicars. Communal heads are not acknowledged, the issued by them takrirs are not admitted if not revenue-stamped, official communal seals in use for 3 decades now, are banned.

Bulgarian cases on ecumenical or educational matters are not being heard. Once dismissed, they are being re-ruled to the detriment of the Exarchists. After waiting for a long time to be allowed to make the vineyard bought out with the permission of the local authorities into a cemetery, Bulgarians from Comotini, for emergency need, buried there one of their dead. However, in a three days time the authorities exhumed the body and sent it to Kizlar village, the native place of the dead man, seven hours away from Comotini, to be buried there, while the Comotini chairman, hieromonachos Dionysius and Bulgarian notable Dimiter Kiriakov were fined one Turkish lira each and imprisoned for one month. In Kumanovo, in violence of an irade (Sultan's decree), the fence between the Bulgarian and Serbian parts of a cemetery was taken down and part of the Bulgarian cemetery was expropriated. In Tetovo, the old church, the school building and municipal immovables worth over ten thousand have been granted to the Serbian minority, and Bulgarians have been forced to receive mere 300 liras for their share; the church, despite the protests of the Bulgarians, was consecrated by the Serbian Bishop of Skopje under the protection of the kaymakam. Those facts are cited on the spur of the moment, though there are innumerable such facts.

Bulgarians are denied the granted to all the subjects of His Majesty and under the legislation freedoms of religion and conscience. They are not allowed to openly profess their nationality and freely recognize their spiritual heads.

A hundred of Bulgarian villages have their churches and schools closed as four years ago, those villages recognized the Exarchate under the reforms and freedoms proclaimed by our August Sovereign. The government ascribes their walk out of the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate to violence and supports the principle of preserving the status quo. Yet, the persistence of ethnic Bulgarians in their decision, persistence unbroken for four years now despite the persecutions and the heavy sacrifices up to leaving their native places, is visual evidence that violence is out of the question in this case. The status quo principle is applied to Bulgarians alone in order to impede their joining their own Church and organizing a community of their own.

Greek and Serbian propagandas are allowed to freely invade and impose their will even in those villages and towns that have recognized the Exarchate as early as its establishment. The latest and most striking is the example of Prilep town. Though it is common knowledge that there is no Serbian living in the town, a Serbian chapel has been inaugurated there and consecrated in the presence of the authorities; on top of everything else a Serbian muhtar (churchwarden) was also appointed. While in Comotini, where there are 40 Bulgarian households, with Bulgarians being the majority as is the case in many other places, idare-meclisi refuses to be Bulgarian muhtar and the Bulgarian chapel has been closed for years now.

Those of the Bulgarian villages that have been coercively made by the Greek propaganda at the cost of striking terror to pass under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate are admitted at gorgeous ceremonies. Their closed to that time churches are being opened ceremonially in the presence of the mudurs (town governors), cavuses (sergeants), gendarmes and soldiers with the population of the neighbouring villages invited to attend the grand celebrations by the order of the Serbian metropolitans.

Recently, the clergy of the Patriarchate overstepped the limits in their persecutions against Bulgarians. Greek bishops such as those of Serres, Alexandroupolis, Dimotiki and Edirne, stage with impunity anti-Bulgarian rallies, veil the churches in black, deliver public speeches offensive to Bulgarians and threaten to anathemize all those who maintain any relations with Bulgarians. Not to mention the bishops such as the one of Kostur and that of Drama who have become notorious for their outrages.

Greek priests in the towns are leading door-to-door threatening campaigns, forcing Bulgarians to enroll their kids at Greek schools or otherwise they would be hanged as soon as possible. At Greek schools, pupils recite publicly lyrics fraught with hatred for Bulgarians, which lyrics are being composed at Greek embassies; Greek students stone Bulgarian schools, mud Bulgarian chapels and beat Bulgarian pupils. On the main streets of the vilayet centers, newspapers from Athens are freely sold, professing extermination of Bulgarians. Greek consuls themselves tour the coffee shops preaching anti-Bulgarian crusades. All this is not deemed by the government to be incitement to ethnic animosity between the two peoples, but is believed to be what a Bulgarian teacher on the Day of Isapostolic Brothers Cyril and Methodius called in his speech, a historical claim of the Greeks; three notes on the matter had been addressed to the Exarchate.

Your Highness, you are the most cognizant to get aware that arousing such tribal animosity and inflaming passions between the Empire's subjects means to fuel a wildfire, metaphorically put, inside the house of the State. I have been lodging takrirs of complaints against such Greek actions on more than one occasion.

The evil deeds never stopped, quite the contrary, smear campaigns gained momentum. They reached its highest point when armed militant squads of the propagandas appeared on the scene. By the way the armed Greek gangs set to kill Bulgarians are yet a new in a row edition of those of twenty five years ago.
The deplorable situation of the loyal Bulgarians evolved to such an extent that the point is not anymore in violence or waiver of ecumenical or communal rights. They are denied even their basic rights. Neither their lives, nor their dignity or properties are safe. Their very survival is at stake.
Greek and Serbian gangs prowl about Bulgarian villages, terrorizing and killing Bulgarians. Comprising at times 100 to 150 men they block the villages for nobody to be able to escape, dance in front of the marked victims and afterwards start their acts of violence. Villages under the jurisdiction of the Exarchate are being raided in daytime and nighttime, firing from rifles for hours, notables are being murdered, big families, groups of working people and mass population are killed after severe tortures.
People are killed at their homes, in the shops, churches, in the woods, water-mills, in the fields, on their way to the markets or on business trips. 90-year-old men and women and 5-6-year-old children, adolescence at the age of 17 or 18, men, women, brides and maidens are murdered on a regular basis.

One ear of each of the murdered is cut off to be shown as evidence to the Greek Committees for the bargained pay to be received. There is no district without five or ten or fifteen victims per month. Houses, barns, water-mills, sown fields and meadows are set ablaze, orchards, vineyards are plundered, household belongings, clothes and everything available is looted. Wealthy people are kidnapped for ransoms amounting to 20 to 50 or more Turkish liras. Common pastures are confiscated. In many places the population sits at home for fear of bandits and leaves the crop not harvested, dooming themselves to hunger. All kinds of business and trade relations have been brought to naught. Prior to the militant raids, threatening letters are delivered to warn the marked victims of what they would be doomed to if refusing to give up the Exarchate. Sometimes such letters are attached to the dead bodies of Bulgarians stabbed to death by the militants. It goes without saying that Greek bishops also point at villages, failing to recognize them, as being threatened by extermination. In this way entire villages are wiped off the face of the earth. It would suffice to mention the village of Zagorichane, Kostur region, that of Zeleniche, Lerin region, arid the one of Zhervi, Voden region. Entire villages with troops deployed there emigrated to avoid their certain death by gangs of bandits. I'd not pester Your Highness with the long list of takrirs I had been lodging to the Sublime Porte and the Ministry of Jurisdiction and Denominations against the outrages committed by Greek and Serbian gangs, therein enclosed copies of some of the threatening letters, I mentioned above, though the listed in those takrirs facts far from exhaust the cases. By the way, the enclosed herein list of signals to the Exarchate for the period August 24th - September 24th, i.e. a month time, is perfectly indicative of the plight of Bulgarians across the vilayets.

This plight, Your Highness, means only that the loyal Bulgarians in the vilayets are outlawed. They are being killed on a systematic basis at every step. In their despair, they seek salvation in partial or mass emigration either to different places within the Empire or abroad, leaving their villages and properties derelict. Some of the villages even resort to converting to the Uniates. Even though the plight resulted in forming armed squads from among the ethnic Bulgarians, the fact ought not to be blamed on them. We have underscored on more than one occasion that it is the duty and the right of the government to chase and liquidate such squads, yet it would be unjust to identify them with the loyal, peaceful, hard-working and productive population of a million and a half, which in this case has fallen victim to all militant squads as a whole. There are also Greek and Serbian squads, who are not treated in the same way.

Assuming to the full my duty to the State and the Church, I still can't help making vocal my protests against the intolerable situation of my congregation and asking urgently, with the cooperation of Your Highness prompt and drastic measures to be taken so that an end to be put to whatever persecutions, violence or extermination of the loyal Bulgarians and to secure them peaceful and free cultural development and economic prosperity under the scepter of His Majesty, our subject-loving Sovereign, respecting their rights and nationality. It is a demand of His August Monarch will, it is stipulated by the law and supposed by all God's and human rights. It is mostly to the advantage of the Empire...

Bulgarian Exarch Joseph"

In end-September 1906, Bulgarian Exarchate in Istanbul sent on a regular basis to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Denominations information of the murders and outrages on the ethnic Bulgarians - "A list of the signals of the murders and outrages on Bulgarians, given to the Exarchate in the period August 22nd -September 24th" as follows:

"Extirpation of Bulgarian national spirit is encouraged to the full by Stephanos, Greek Bishop of Voden. He went via Thessalonica to Gumence to give his instructions in person. On September 17th he officiated at a mass in the church of Petrovo village. He was escorted by troops and Andarts. The authorities allow all those corrupt criminals to surround him. Armed with pistols and daggers they were walking ahead of the troops, proudly threatening to kill Bulgarians. The Bishop told them that he assumes the responsibility for them to set ablaze, slay or kill whatever or whomever on their whim. After his visit to Gumence, threatening letters signed "Captain G. Klapas" to the old villages under the jurisdiction of the Exarchate multiplied. The outrages on Bulgarians in the villages of Bozets, Orizurtsi and Golo Selo are ascribed to his inducement. Grubevtsi, Ramel, Livaditsa, Konikovo, etc. are waiting their own death any moment now by the gangs.

Greek gangs bribe Turks into killing Bulgarian notables and wealthy men in that region. For example, on August 30th, in the centre of Enige Mitse Pop Stavrev was shot dead from the yard of a tekke. On September 8th at nightfall, Vangel Bonev was killed in Vudrishta from an ambush set in a house across the road, most probably by the men from a bey's farm. The latter are committing awful crimes against ethnic Bulgarians and threaten to wipe off the face of the earth other prominent Bulgarians.

All the villages in Enige-Vardar district, the pillars of the district, are terror-stricken. Greek gangs, uncurbed and unmolested, are assaulting those villages and threatening with pogroms on more than one occasion. The village of Alare, being raided many times, found no other way but to emigrate to the last person to the Enige- Vardar - 18 households consisting of 26 families together with Father Traian Dimitrov. The village was mere 45 minutes away from the town and troops were deployed in it. The villagers from Ramel started emigrating to other villages. Theirs and other villages are soon to follow the example of Alare.

On September 23rd at night, a Greek gang of twelve bandits left the Greek school in Novo Selo, Thessalonica region, where Greek teacher Nicola from Petrovo village lived, and busted the shop run by Exarchist Sterio Stoyanov. At the time, there were a number of villagers in the shop, who had come shopping. The Andarts fired more than hundred times and wounded Exarchist Dimiter Petrov in his right leg. The villagers in the shop started firing back, so that the Andarts retreated and left the village. Yuzbasi (Police Captain) from Thessalonica, Zia EJfendi, conducted an inquiry. Eyewitnesses testified to the fact that the gang came from the Greek school. In line with the incident the Novo Selo villagers approached once again with a petition Chief Inspector, H.E. Hilmi Pasha, listing all the crimes committed over the last couple of years by Greeks against the Exarchic population in the village."

A number of the reports filed by Bulgarian trade agents based in Thessalonica, Edirne, Bitola, Skopje and Serres to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Denominations in Sofia over those years broach the matter of the situation of those of the Bulgarians who were still kept in Turkish prisons despite the fact that it had been quite a while since an amnesty had been granted under the Bulgarian-Greek Agreement. The information in the reports is indicative of the fact that many of the imprisoned and trialed Bulgarians on the eve of the Uprising on St. Elijah's Day and immediately after the crush of the uprising have died in jail due to the poor life conditions, diseases and beating on their way to the Asian fortresses or while being transported from one prison to another.

To this effect is the report of end-September, 1906 by Bulgarian trade agent based in Bitola, Zh. Dobrev to the ministry on the plight of the Bulgarians, imprisoned in the central prison in the town:

"In the central prison of Bitola vilayet, over 300 Bulgarians are kept at present. Of them, hardly 15 do not need someone else's care. All the rest of them are very poor, they have left behind their households without any support and they themselves have not earned a dime since imprisoned.

Prisoners of other extractions, who taken together do not catch up in number two thirds of our compatriots are positioned in that respect in an unachievable for us superiority. First of all, their negligible number and secondly, the far more developed feeling for public solidarity in Greeks, Wallachians, etc. allow the latter to receive more often and heftier contributions in every respect, and particularly, in the cases of persecutions against prisoners for their national ideas. Those are the advantages over us of the foreign propagandas, taken to recruit supporters even in prisons.

In conditions, therefore, of total want of private contributions on the part of our compatriots here or for want of public cultivation or for penury, the need for government support here is felt desperately.

This time last year, due to my intercession once again, the Ministry was so kind to allot a temporary aid of 3,000 gold levs for distributing the sum among the prisoners. The good deed, though insufficient for such a number of people, is remembered and reminded of with appreciation by the beneficiaries.

Both for the purely physical support of those poor men and for the high profile of Bulgarian In the eyes of Bulgarians themselves and of the foreign nations here, it is worth, Esteemed Minister, and even indispensable to maintain this noble political tradition of the Principality's Government. For this reason I took the liberty to ask this year also for your benevolence to order at least the same amount to be allotted for the abovementioned purpose. I assure you that those 3,000 levs would dry up the tears of at least 3,000 our ill-fated brothers during the Christmas Holidays as along with each of the prisoners the amount would make happy dozens of their beloved.

In view of the severe winter and upcoming Christmas Holidays, the prompt allotting of contributions is more than pressing."

The Uprising on St. Elijah's Day embarrassed the then Greek government as much as it did the Turkish one. The Greeks deemed it to be a threat to the plans of Greek nationalists to hellenize Macedonia. Aware of the fact that in the wake of the crush of the uprising the Great Powers would search for political means to appease the Balkans, the then Greek government mounted and without delay started implementing an action programme in the Aegean part of Macedonia aiming at suspending Bulgarian liberation movement, to intimidate the population and create an impression in Europe that the Greek element is the most active in Macedonia.

In 1904, a Macedonian Committee was set up in Athens. Its major task was to fight, arms including, any national manifestation of the local ethnic Bulgarians. It formed armed squads and four Greek officers were assigned to become chieftains of those with Pavlos Melas among others. Later, the latter was pronounced Greece's national hero. A special operative center was established in Thessalonica from among officers from the Greek General Staff.

As early as the same year, the Macedonian committee sent the first Greek squad to the region of Bitola. The squad was defeated at Kostur. The squad was ordered to terrorize the local Bulgarians, to draw by any means Hellenephiles and create strong points for the new squads expected from Greece. All across Greece fund-raising campaigns were mounted. In early 1905 Greek government armed cap-a-pie and financed new squads, deploying them to Macedonia.

Even Greek Church through Metropolitan Germanos Karavangelis joined the campaign for the expansion of Hellenism in Macedonia. This spiritual pastor became notorious with his watchword: "Bulgarians Wiped Out". For example, he was informed of the pending carnage in Zagorichane village, Kostur region, in his eparchy, yet instead of averting the raid by perpetrator Vardas or warning his congregation, comprising "the worst Bulgarians" about the impending threat, he sent to the executors a list of his spies from the same village to protect them form being killed.

Pathetic is the doom of Zagorichane (Vassilias), the second largest village in the region of Kostur, plundered and busted as early as 1903, yet the biggest crime was committed there a couple of years later.

Apart from the diplomatic reports, written by Bulgarian trade agents and diplomatic representatives to Turkey, the outrages against Bulgarians in Macedonia and Thrace in the period are documented in a number of memoir books and documentary works, including the one by Ivan St. Nikolov, Atrocities Committed by Greek Gangs on Ethnic Bulgarians in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace in 1905-1906 published in Plovdiv in 1906. At the time, the number of militants forming the Greek squads to terrorize the local Bulgarians went as high as 4,000, distributed in four centers: Kostur, Kozhan, Bitola and Greben.

"Endless is the tally of the martyrs who have died in brutal murders, or have been skinned alive or beaten in Macedonia for a year now, the author underscores. - All the villages and small towns deemed to be the strongholds of Bulgarian national spirit in this poor country, have been reduced to ashes and plundered, and most of the people have been slaughtered."

In Kostur region, apart from the notorious Zagorichane, the villages of Bezsvene, Kondorobo, Kosinets, Shishtevo, Mokreni, Prekopania, Ezerets, Enichani, Oshteni, Blatsa, Zhupanitsa, Olishta, Tchurilovo, etc. have been also busted. In the region of Lerin the villages of Zeleniche (37 people murdered), Vurbeni, Surevichevo, Aitos, liu-betino, Buh, Banitsa, Prele, etc. were also raided and most of the notables got killed. Almost the same occurred in the Bulgarian villages in the regions of Morihovo and Voden. The villages of Mogila, Tsursko, Aivazovo, etc. in Bitola district were almost devastated. The same applies to the villages in the region of Serres, and the villages of Brodi and Ziliahovo were not traceable. In the places, where Greek squads were impeded from assaulting, as was the case in the regions of Nevrokop, Bansko and Mehomia, the Turkish authorities themselves undertook the task. In the Edirne region, Bulgarian population was exposed to the deeds of Greek and Turkish gangs, tolerated by the government for political and strategic reasons in order to cleanse that part of Thrace of ethnic Bulgarians.

Precisely at the time, when Nikolov completed his book in 1906, news broke that the previous night the village of Smilevo was reduced to ashes and 65 of the villagers were killed. Similar incidents occurred in the villages of Gnilesh and Zhihovo. In Palanec region Serbian gangs showed up at the time to intimidate and expel the ethnic Bulgarians from those places.

In 1906 militant groups were formed in Thessalonica, under the command of Lieutenant Sumatis, to persecute and kill active functionaries of the Internal Macedonian and Edirne Revolutionary Organization.

Two banks of specific activity were also set up in Thessalonica to implement the programme of oppressing and expelling the ethnic Bulgarians. The first financed the bribery of Turkish officials and military for the latter to "support" the Greek "resistance" to "mutinying Bulgarians", and the second supported Greek merchants in Macedonia, defiantly boycotted by Bulgarians.
In early 1908, Greek government assigned the leadership of the Macedonian Battle operation to Col. Danglis, involving also the General Staff in it. Meanwhile volunteers were recruited from all across Greece to form new squads under the command of Greek officers and non-coms, terrorizing the population and killing Bulgarian notables.

Deployment in Macedonia of Serbian gangs to develop anti-Bulgarian activities was resumed as early as 1904. In 1905 the activities of the Serbian gangs became an element of the so-called armed propaganda, finding its expression in forcing Bulgarian notables and entire villages to give up the Exarchate and proclaim themselves Serbian nationals, as did the gangs of Greek Andarts. Apart from those two 'armed propagandas", ethnic Bulgarians in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace in the period between the Uprising on St. Elijah's Day and the Balkan War of 1912, had to suffer murders and pillages committed by Albanian and Turkish bands and to no lesser extent, violence from the regular Turkish troops, deployed in their villages to "protect" them.

The revolution of Young Turks in July 1908, which limited the powers of Sultan's institution, restored the Constitution suspended by Sultan Abdulhamid II and proclaimed equal right for all the nations within the Ottoman Empire, aroused some hopes among Bulgarians in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace for a short period. As for the Bulgarian and Christian population in the vilayets, the Young Turks continued the old imperial policy of denationalization. Narrow freedoms granted in the wake of the Young Turks' revolution to all Ottoman subjects stimulated to a great extent the entrepreneurship of ethnic Bulgarians and along with that, their national manifestations. Worried by the trend, Young Turks resumed the restrictive measure and persecutions first of all against Bulgarian intelligentsia. Bulgarian schools were closed; foreign propagandas were supported through easing the opening of foreign educational establishments in the places where the Bulgarian schools had been coercively closed. A special law to scarp the right on association was adopted, Bulgarian press was banned and Bulgarian constitutional clubs were disbanded for the reason that the latter were "nationalistic". Young Turks forced Bulgarians to join their parties and pronounce themselves Ottomans. A law banning revolutionary squads was adopted and punitive squads were deployed all across Macedonia to chase Bulgarian revolutionaries, to make mass searches and repress the population as supporters of the revolutionaries. Thus in a couple of years alone since the proclaiming of the Hurriyet (Liberation) of 1908, in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace the old anarchy and persecutions against all Bulgarians were resumed; in the campaign they once again relied on their old supporters - Greek and Serbian propaganda and gangs of bandits, comprising Turks, Albanians, etc. In their campaign against ethnic Bulgarians the new authorities were in even better situation, as the surveillance of foreign officers and direct international control were lifted. Troops started blockading Bulgarian villages without waiting for any pretexts to reportedly search for arms or harbored Bulgarian revolutionaries. Reports of that time show that in the new campaign in several months alone, 4,793 Bulgarians were beaten severely by the regular troops in the three Macedonian vilayets of Skopje, Bitola and Thessalonica; of them 74 died of their injuries. Some 2,000 emigrated to Bulgaria, leaving behind their native places. As much fled to
the mountains, to increase the number of Bulgarian revolutionaries. In such a situation, the resistance of the ethnic Bulgarians was not delayed. It triggered in response yet further punitive actions and outrages committed on Bulgarians across the villages and towns in Macedonia and Thrace. In order to weaken the spiritual resistance of Bulgarians, the government of the Young Turks supported or at least did not oppose any foreign anti-Bulgarian manifestations in the European provinces of Turkey. For example it immediately acceded to the proposal made by Serbia, in the purely Bulgarian towns of Veles and Debar, Serbian bishops to be appointed. In the densely populated with Bulgarians regions of Macedonia, the government started settling all the Turkish refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, involving them in its anti-Bulgarian campaign. In this way, persecutions against Bulgarians went on and even gained momentum on the eve of the Balkan War of 1912.


Reports of killed Bulgarians. Bitola, 9 August 1906.

Complaint from the population about outrages by the Turkish army. Thessalonica, 14 August 1906.

Report about house searches and arrests in Tikves region. Thessalonica, 2 December 1906.

Exarch Joseph sent a takrir to the Grand Vizir requesting the government to take urgent measures to stop the systematic extermination of Bulgarian population. Istanbul, 23 October 1906.

Statement by villagers from Tikves region about terrorization on the peaceful Bulgarian population by the Turkish army. Thessalonica, 23 August 1906.

The Bulgarian Trade Agent in Thessalonica sent a statement to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, signed by village mayors, about the outrages of the army against the Bulgarian peasants. Thessalonica, 19 August 1906.

A letter by refugee widows from Edirne region to the prime Minister of Bulgaria, requesting him to intercede with the Turkish authorities for their sons and relatives to be released from prison, Burgas, 24 October 1904.

List of killed, injured and assaulted Bulgarians by Greek bands in Serres region in 1906, sent to Bulgarian Diplomatic Agency in Istanbul.

The firs page from the list.

Report from the Bulgarian Trade Agency in Thessalonica about army's violence and outrages against the Bulgarian population, 22 November 1908.

Statistics about killed or wounded Bulgarians in Macedonia in 1904, 1905 and the first seven months of 1906. Breakdown of the victims by nationality of their murderes.

List of murders, injuries, abuses etc. perpetrated by the army against Bulgarians in various districts of Macedonia in 1906.

A page from the list.