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2006-06-27 20:50:42 UTC
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John MacDonald, a British journalist employed by
the London Daily News, toured Macedonia as a
"Special Commissioner"

IV-- [February 11, 1903] , London Daily News





[Sofia, Feb. 6]

The final details of my eight days' tour among the Macedonian fugitives
I had hoped to give in my last letter. There, however, I was obliged to
stop with some mention of Barikovo and its Turkish outpost. Near
Barikovo, and on the shoulder of a spur of the Rilo range, the mountain
road begins to descend towards Dubnitza. When the Bulgarian Alps--if I
may so name them--become better known many a traveller will stand on
that spot and gaze with admiration upon a prospect which in a former
letter I compared to a waistcoat pocket edition of a certain Snowy
Range in another quarter of the globe. But the very remote (I confess)
comparison, if it holds good at all, does so only as regards a moment's
glimpse of the amphitheatre of mountains. On one side, and filling a
large segment of blue horizon, stretches Mount Rilo, a vast mass od
crumpled, shadowy clefts, and pure white ridges that resemble tossing
billows charmed into rest. In front, sweeping round southwards, dappled
with snow spots, white on their edges, like silvered ebony, the
mountains rise on either hand into the central peak of Pirin. The Pirin
range is in Macedonia. Between it and the beautiful, poplar-dotted
plain, where the peasants of Rilo and Katcherinova cultivate their
wheat , tobacco, and vines in peace, are many of the Macedonian
villages--such as Sarabinovo, Bistritza, Gradevo, and Chiflik--whose
persecuted people have taken refuge on this side of the border. It is a
picture of ironical contrast between a scene surpassingly fair and an
abject human wretchedness perpetuated with the leave of "Christian"
From those mountains several Vlach shepherds have found shelter in
Dubnitza. I have met three of them there on my way back to Sofia. In
Bulgaria the Vlachs, or Wallachs, originally from Wallachia (one of the
two divisions of Roumania), and supposed to be descendants of ancient
Roman colonists, are few and far between. But a great many thousands of
them live in Macedonia, wandering with their flocks in the mountains
during the spring, summer, and autumn, returning to the villages in
winter. The three whom I met in the Kahn at Dubnitza had just come in
from the village of Sapareva Banya for their supply of black bread from
the Relief Committee's depot.


Their story was that one of the insurgent bands had bought stores of
provisions from them, and that the Turks, accusing them of collusion
with the rebels, thrashed them and deprived them of all their
possessions. "They took away all my sheep, and they killed my brother,"
said one of the three as he deposited his bag of black bread in the
street, and poured out a torrent of furious speech, "They" (the Turks)
"called us Christian dogs; they struck me with the butt ends of their
rifles." And so on: the old story. It must be remembered here that the
Macedonian Vlachs have no politics--or next to none. All they want is
to be allowed to do their mountain shepherding in peace.

At Sapareva Banya, whiter the Vlach shepherds trudged with their heavy
dole of black bread, for five families, there are nearly two hundred
refugees. The fact that they have come from the district of Rasluck
accounts (as explained in a previous letter) for the almost entire
absence of women and children among them. Every man in the two hundred,
in his attempt to give the Turkish outposts the slip, ran the risk of
dying of cold and hunger during his wanderings in the ice and snow. I
wrote down the main facts of their experiences as related by their
spokesperson. First there came a group of forty-five. Nedobretsko was
their home in Macedonia. Their head man--otherwise the "Mayor" of the
Christian population in their locality--Petre Stateff, spoke for them.
With him stood the village schoolmaster, Alexo Konstandinoff. Their
village priest, Athanas Sophronoff, had escaped to Philippopolis. The
Mayor and the schoolmaster asserted that a great many villagers had
been beaten, ten of them "cruelly." "Marie Nicolova's child was killed
by a kick," said the schoolmaster; "the child was unbaptised." Both of
then accused Raschid Bey Uzbashi and Ali Effendi Mulazim of criminal
assaults. The head man, the schoolmaster, their fellow villagers
standing round about them, told the old story of pillage, desecration
of churches, flight, murder--and worse, a word which the reader should
by this time be in a position to understand only too well. The
Nedobretsko villagers move away, and a group of eighteen men from
Batchevo take their place. They say that many more of their fellow
villagers ran away; they did not know what became of them. "More than
thirty of us were tortured," says one of the group.


He shows how it was done. The victim was made to kneel, with a wooden
beam placed transversely over the calves of his legs, behind the knees;
a soldier sat on either end of the beam to prevent him from rising; he
was pulled back, head downwards, while a third soldier belaboured him
with a stick over the naked chest and stomach. This method has been
described to me by many refugees from different villages that have no
connection except the tie of misery. When the villager finished his
description the headman, by name Koston Markoff, remarked, in a casual
way, that in his official capacity he had been compelled to witness
some of these barbarities.. Search for arms, the headman continued,
gave the Turks their excuse; and he mentioned three women, Maria
Theodorova, Christa Filimonova, Milana Nikolova--who had been
From the next village, Godlevo, some thirty fugitives were present. The
Christian headman of the place, Sveltko Dimitroff, spoke for them. He
had been beaten, though not as mercilessly as some of his neighbors. He
accused, by name, one of the local Turkish authorities of the
detestable crime constantly mentioned in these depositions of the
refugees. Certain brutally figurative expressions which this headman
attributed to the official many not here be reproduced--although they
may be communicated to the Editor. From the village of Mekhomia there
next presented themselves a group of about thirty fugitives. Mekhomia
is one of the largest villages in the Rasluck district. Among them were
several Protestants. It is worth noting that before and at the
beginning of the disturbances in Macedonia the Protestants of Rasluck
were opposed to the insurrection, for the time being, at least. They
would play a waiting game. They considered that the insurgent bands
were, in their haste, doing injury to the Macedonian cause. At first,
then, as it would seem, they were treated indulgently by the Turks.
Now, however, and for many weeks past, Protestant and Orthodox are all
one in Turkish estimation. A Christian official in this group from
Mekhomia asserted that he could testify to eight cases of criminal
assault; he mentioned eight names. Next followed a stalwart, rather
handsome young man, who broke down when he told how his mother-in-law,
Maria Mitrova, and his mother, Paola Giorgiev, had been victimized by
ruffian Bashi-Bazouks. The young man's name was Nicolas Giorgiev. And
so on. It is unnecessary to finish the list. What I have quoted is
fairly typical of the whole. In the course of my tour from Sofia to
Dubnitza and Mount Rilo, and from the Monastery back to Sofia, I have
questioned refugees from ore than fifty Macedonia villages. I now leave
the readers of "The Daily News" to draw their own conclusion.


I address myself to the more agreeable task of recording what the
Societies of Sofia have done and are doing for the relief of the
fugitives (whose numbers, it should be borne in mind, are increasing
day by day). Three Societies, the Maika, Endoxie, and Miloserdie--have
taken part in the work of relief. The President of the second-named
Society is Madame Bakhmeteff, wife of the Russian Consul-General and
Diplomatic Agent in Sofia. To this lady and, next to her, Madame
Karaveloff, wife of the well-known Bulgarian statesman and scholar, to
Madame Daneff, wife of the Bulgarian Minister President, to Madame
Petroff Chomakoff, and Madame Nicolaeff--to mention only a few
names--the Macedonian fugitives, and, for that matter, all friends of
humanity, are under the deepest obligation. Shortly after the first
rush of fugitives began, Madame Bakhmeteff was chosen by the three
Societies to organize and supervise a Committee of Relief. Madame
Bakhmeteff it was who commissioned Mr. Tchaprachikov to establish a
depot of food and clothes at Dubnitza. This was nearly three months
ago. Early in December she proceeded to the same destination and to the
village of Rilo, the snow being then in both places a yard deep. She
took with her stores of the value of ten thousand francs. She was
accompanied by two "Sisters," who have been engaged ever since,
especially in superintending the refugee women and children. One of the
two, Prascovia Danilovna Chekhova, of the Alexander Hospital in Sofia,
had done admirable service in Russia during the last great famine. The
Sister is an immense favourite with the poor fugitives. No wonder. Her
face, as they say, brings sunshine into a sick ward. The Bulgarians
attribute Madame Bakhmeteff's "go" to her "Anglo-Saxon" origin: she is
an American, from San Francisco. To procure funds for the work of
relief, the three Societies some time ago gave a ball in Sofia. A sum
of five thousand francs was the result. Of this sum Prince Ferdinand,
then at Varna, contributed a thousand francs. His mother, Princess
Clementina (daughter of King Louis Philippe), who usually lives in
Vienna, and whose dignified old age is consecrated to works of charity,
has been a generous supporter of the Relief Committee. A few days ago
she received from the Empress Maria Fedeorovna the Order of St.
Catherine, a rare distinction. Subscriptions have been received in
small sums for villages in all parts of Bulgaria. Bulgarians in foreign
countries--wage-earning workmen among them--have sent contributions.
And lately the Sobranje--the National Assembly--voted fifty thousand
francs. The disposal of this money is in the hands of the Committee, of
which Madame Bakhmeteff is President.


A few days ago, on my return to Dubnitza and visit to Baigna, the
establishment of "a table d'hote" and other means for the more
expeditious relief of the fugitives, was attended with an interesting
religious ceremony, after the Orthodox rite. But though the rite was
Orthodox, there were--as representatives of the Committee announced--no
distinctions of race or creed; a Turkish Mahommedan would be as
hospitably received as any Christian. In a large open space in the
middle of the town of Dubnitza, three Popes officiated in the presence
of the assembled refugees. The open air ceremony ended with the
sprinkling of holy water among the multitude, the small boys and girls
all the while, with their red, chubby fists crossing themselves with a
perseverance worthy of their elders. After that the Popes made their
visitation to each family room in the buildings set apart for the
refugees. Each room was sprinkled and received its benediction.

A London County Councillor would perhaps make the cubic space of those
crowded rooms the subject of scientific criticism. But the space is
necessarily limited, fugitives are coming still; and a warm, and even
stuffy, room, with clothing for day and night use, is preferable to the
holes and the tree stumps of the snow-covered mountains.

At Dubnitza there is a hospital for the refugees. The women and
children in it are under the care of a Bulgarian young lady doctor,
Mademoiselle Giorgiev, from Rustchuk. She received her medical training
in France, as have also, I believe, all or most of the twenty-one or so
native lady doctors now in Bulgaria. Sofia has not yet produced a
medical school of its own. But this very likely will be an achievement
of the near future.


Dr. Velitchkoff, of the Dubnitza hospital, tells me that since the
beginning of the troubles early in the autumn he has surgically treated
some thirty refugees. Two hundred and fifty-one refugees have been
received in it, and most of them discharged, during the same period.
His severest case was that of the insurgent leader, General
Tchontcheff, who was several times wounded in a lively brush with the
Turks in the mountains I have been describing. General Tchontcheff is
President of the Exterior, of Bulgarian Revolutionary Committee, a body
distinct from the Macedonian secret organization now preparing for the
worst in the spring.

Among the refugee patients in the hospital is a peasant of sixty. He
was wounded in the leg while crossing the mountains with his wife and
child. The child, carried on the mother's back, was shot and buried in
the snow. Near him lies a living yellowish mummy, whom all the
Macedonians who know him allege to be more than a hundred years old. He
might be two centuries old to look at him. Nearly all these refugee
patients suffer from pneumonia. The hero among the grim-looking,
somewhat sturdy, grey-haired peasant from Bistritza. Dimitri Petroff,
to quote his name, was wounded in the fight between Tchontcheff and the
Turks. He escaped, however. He was patched up again in the Dubnitza
hospital. He then made off again to the mountains, where he was hunted
by the Turks. He was found again one morning in a state of exhaustion
near the hospital. During his exposure in the mountains his leg wound
had gangrened, and he had to be operated upon. It is believed that the
number of fugitives from Macedonia will be considerably augmented
before the end of February. One thing is absolutely certain--they will
continue to arrive, and the thousands in Bulgaria will refuse to return
to their devastated homes until they receive a more trustworthy
guarantee than the promise of the Porte that their persons shall be
Spirit of Truth
2006-06-29 06:44:48 UTC
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"pavel" <***@yahoo.com> wrote in message news:***@x69g2000cwx.googlegroups.com...


You only have to look here to see that the Fyrom Slavic majority are simply
West Bulgarians like yourself and have no connection to 'Macedonia'

In a letter to Prof. Marin Drinov of May 25, 1888 Kuzman Shapkarev writes:
"But even stranger is the name Macedonians, which was imposed on us only 10
to 15 years ago by outsiders, and not as something by our own
intellectuals... Yet the people in Macedonia know nothing of that ancient
name, reintroduced today with a cunning aim on the one hand and a stupid one
on the other. They know the older word: "Bugari", although mispronounced:
they have even adopted it as peculiarly theirs, inapplicable to other
Bulgarians. You can find more about this in the introduction to the booklets
I am sending you. They call their own Macedono-Bulgarian dialect the
"Bugarski language", while the rest of the Bulgarian dialects they refer to
as the "Shopski language". (Makedonski pregled, IX, 2, 1934, p. 55; the
original letter is kept in the Marin Drinov Museum in Sofia, and it is
available for examination and study)
Here is the text in the original:

"No pochudno e imeto Makedonci, koeto naskoro, edvay predi 10-15 godini, ni
natrapiha i to otvqn, a ne kakto nyakoi mislyat ot samata nasha
inteligenciya... Narodqt obache v Makedoniya ne znae nishto za tova
arhaichesko, a dnes, s lukava cel ot edna strana, s glupeshka ot druga,
podnoveno prozvishte; toy si znae postaroto: Bugari, makar i nepravilno
proiznasyano, daje osvoyava si go kato sobstveno i preimushtestveno svoe,
nejeli za drugite Bqlgari. Za tova shte vidite i v predgovora na izpratenite
mi knijici. Toy naricha Bugarski ezik svoeto Makaedono-bqlgarsko narechie,
kogato drugite bqlgarski narechiya naricha Shopski."

And here:

Reference source for Gotse Delchev's numerous utterings of 'We are


Even Gotse Delchev, the famous Macedonian revolutionary leader, whose nom de
guerre was Ahil (Achilles), refers to "the Slavs of Macedonia as
'Bulgarians' in an offhanded manner without seeming to indicate that such a
designation was a point of contention" (Perry 1988:23).
In his correspondence Gotse Delchev often states clearly and simply, "We are
Bulgarians" (MacDermott 1978:192,273).

And here:

For fair use only.


" Considering the critical and terrible situation that the Bulgarian
population of the Bitola Vilayet found itself in and following the ravages
and cruelties done by the Turkish troops and irregulars, ... considering
the fact that everything Bulgarian runs the risk of perishing and
disappearing without a trace because of violence, hunger, and the upcoming
misery, the Head Quarters finds it to be its obligation to draw the
attention of the respected Bulgarian government to the pernicious
consequences vis-a-vis the Bulgarian nation, in case the latter does not
fulfill its duty towards its brethren of race here in an imposing fashion
which is necessary by virtue of the present ordeal for the common Bulgarian

...Being in command of our people's movement, we appeal to you on behalf of
the enslaved Bulgarian to help him in the most effective way - by waging
war.We believe that the response of the people in free Bulgaria will be the

... No bulgarian school is opened, neither will it be opened... Nobody
thinks of education when he is outlawed by the state because he bears the
name Bulgar...

Waiting for your patriotic intervention, we are pleased to inform you that
we have in our disposition the armed forces we have spared by now.

The Head Quarters of the Ilinden Uprising"


This memorandum was handed to Dr.Kozhuharov, the Bulgarian consul in Bitola,

and transmitted by him to the government in Sofia with report N441 from
September 17th, 1903. "

And here:








And finally here



from: Spirit of Truth

(using June's e-mail to communicate to you)!