TRAVELLING IN THRACE, RHODOPE AND MACEDONIA 1912-1916
Author: Bogdan Filov
Editor's Note: These travelogues come from a mission of distinguished Bulgarian scholars and well-known activists to the region — such as, Bogdan Filov, Rafail Popov, Jordan Ivanov, Anastas Isirkov, Liubomir Miletich and others. The Bulgarian government and the Commanding staff of First Bulgarian Army twice "invaded" those disputed territories and sent inter-mezzo field expeditions in the wartime years 1912-1913 and 1916. Prof. B. Filov, Director of the National Archaeological Museum, described in his travel notes the archaeology findings in the occupied territories and submitted a separate report that is reproduced in this book. All other participants in the Bulgarian cultural mission wrote their accounts that were published under editorship of Col. Dimitar Zhostov (cf., "Scientific Expeditions in Macedonia and Pomoravia 1916"). Thus, on the intellectual canvas the establishment of Macedonian Scientific Institute in 1923 was a consequence, not a cause, for enlightening expansion in these geographic regions, ditto.
Macedonian Scientific Institute
The Macedonian Scientific Institute was established in 1923 and one of its main functions was publication of the "Macedonian Review": "... to defend the truth about the character of the national struggles in Macedonia, both in the period of the spiritual and educational revival and during the time of the revolutionary liberation struggles in which chiefly the Bulgarian population in Macedonia took part".
On the 21 December 1923 in auditorium 10 of Sofia University 52 professors, scholars, writers and public figures from among the Macedonian Bulgarians founded the Macedonian Scientific Institute (MSI). Prof. Dr. Ivan Georgov was elected to be its first president (1924-1928). The Institute began to publish the journal "Macedonian Review" and other studies on the fate of the Bulgarian population in Aegean and Vardar Macedonia.
From 1928 to 1937 the Macedonian Scientific Institute was headed by the famous Bulgarian scholar Prof. Dr. Ljubomir Miletich. Under his direction a large-scale research work developed and the Macedonian House of Culture in Sofia was built. After Prof. Miletich's death, Prof. Nikola Stoyanov continued the patriotic and socially useful activity of the Institute (1938-1945).
MSI Founding Members
The very first issue of Makedonski Pregled contains a section on the establishment of the Macedonian Scientific Institute and a list of the founding members. In the accompanying French translation the list included each member's place of origin in Macedonia. It is interesting to see that the majority were from what is now the Republic of Macedonia:
— Arnaudov, Mihail - Professor of literature, University of Sofia, - Tetovo;
— Badev, Yordan - Literature teacher, 2nd Sofia girls high school, - Bitola;
— Badjov, Stephan - Professor of Art, Sofia Academy of Fine Arts, - Kroushevo;
— Bazhdarov, Georgi - History teacher, 3rd Sofia boys high school, - Gorno Brodi, (District of Serres);
— Balabanov, Alexandur - Professor of Classical Greek literature, University of Sofia, - Shtip;
— Balaschev, Georgi - Historian and Archeologist, - Ohrid;
— Bouliov, Vladimir - Writer, - Kroushevo;
— Vlahov, Dimitur - Publicist, - Koukoush;
— Georgov, Ivan - Professor of Philosophy, University of Sofia, - Veles;
— Zhostov, Dimitur - Colonel and Writer, - Nevrokop;
— Zavoev, Petur - Writer, - Shtip;
— Zographov, Boris - Writer, - Bitola;
— Ivanov, Yordan - Professor of Slavic Philology, - Kratovo;
— Karayiovov, Toma - Publicist, - Skopie;
— Karandzhulov, Ivan - Lawyer and Publicist, - Prilip;
— Kisselinchev, Pando - Sculptor, - Kossinets (District of Kastoria);
— Konstantinov, Spiro - Lawyer and Publicist, - Shtip;
— Krapchev, Danail - Historian and Publicist, - Prilip;
— Koulishev, Georgi - Publicist, - Doiran;
— Koussev, Vladimir - Lawyer, - Prilep;
— Liapchev, Andrey - former Bulgarian Finance Minister and Publicist, - Resen;
— Milev, Nikola - Professor of Bulgarian history, University of Sofia, - Mokreni (District of Kastoria);
— Miletich, Liubomir - Professor of Slavic philology, University of Sofia, - Shtip;
— Mihailov, Todor - Lawyer, - Bitola;
— Mishaikov, Dimitur - Professor of Statistics, University of Sofia, - Bitola;
— Moushmov, Nikola - Numismatist, - Strouga;
— Murmev, Petur - Publicist, - Prilep;
— Nikolov, Diamandi - Colonel and Writer, - Shtip;
— Nikolov, Kosta - Colonel and Writer, - Maleshevo;
— Pavlov, Todor - Lawyer and Publicist, - Skopye;
— Palashev, Georgi - Artist and Writer, - Veles;
— Paskov, Vasil - Writer, - Nevrokop;
— Protich, Andre - Artist and Writer, - Veles;
— Purlichev, Kiril - Publicist, - Ohrid;
— Radev, Simeon - Diplomat and Writer, - Resen;
— Razvigorov, Strahil - Journalist, - Resen;
— Roumenov, Vladimir - Doctor and Publicist, - Ohrid;
— Sarafov, Kristo - Actor, - Nevrokop;
— Silyanov, Kristo - Writer, Journalist and Historian, - Ohrid;
— Simeonov, Stoyan - Publicist, - Veles;
— Snegaroff, Ivan - Professor of history, Sofia Seminary, - Ohrid;
— Sprostranov, Eftim - Ethnographer and Writer, - Ohrid;
— Stanishev, Alexandur - Professor of Surgery, University of Sofia, - Koukoush;
— Stanishev, Konstantin - Doctor and Publicist, - Koukoush;
— Stoyanov, Nikola - Mathematician and Financier, - Doiran;
— Strezov, Georgi - Lawyer and Publicist, - Ohrid;
— Tomalevski, Naoum - Publicist, - Kroushevo;
— Trayanov, Todor - Poet, - Skopye;
— Yaranov, Atanas - Sociologist, - Koukoush.
After 1945 the work of the MSI was politicized and placed at the service of the false policy on the Macedonian question. The Managing Board headed by Prof. Stoyanov was removed by order of the Ministry of Interior and a new one was appointed. On the insistence of Skopje and Belgrade in 1947 Politburo of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Workers' Party (communists) "recommended" the self-liquidation of the MSI. The archives and the rich museum collection together with the mortal remains of Gotse Delchev were turned over to the authorities in Skopje.
On 2 July 1947, the Macedonian Scientific Institute ceased to exist, and its entire library and archives were delivered to the Yugoslavian Communist Party in Skopje, as required under arrangements that the Bulgarian Communist Party had negotiated to form a "South Slav Federation". The actions and motives of the Bulgarian Communist Party will be fully analyzed elsewhere.
On 6 January 1990, the Macedonian Scientific Institute was re-established and publication of the "Macedonian Review" recommenced, the first issue being Volume XIV, from 1991. Each issue now has an accompanying English translation for the contents page, and article Summary. A Scientific Council and 5-member Executive Council were elected with Prof. Dr. Petar Shapkarev as president of the Institute. Since 29 June 1997 the president of the MSI has been Prof. Dimitar Gotsev.
In the past period the restored Macedonian Scientific Institute renewed its scientific traditions and won recognition as an all-national centre. In short time a good team of scholars, specialists in various fields of knowledge - historians, linguists, ethnologists and public figures - were involved. Now the staff of the Institute comprises 60 researchers studying different aspects of the Macedonian question.
The occupation of Eastern Macedonia during the First World War provided the Bulgarians with the opportunity for a comeback, and not simply to uproot any resistance they had encountered there ten years previously but to study the region from up close. In the sunnier of 1916 the Bulgarian government sent a mission of distinguished scholars and well-known activists to the region, such as Bogdan Filov, Rafail Popov, Jordan Ivanov, Anastas Isirkov, and Liubomir Miletich. But the outcome of the War, unfortunate for Sofia, shifted the front to Western Europe. Jordan Ivanov and his collaborators, Georgi Strezoff, a member of the Geographical Society of Geneva, and Dimitar Micheff, now a member of the Bulgarian Academy, travelled to various European cities, mainly in Switzerland, in an attempt to influence the results of the Paris Peace Conference. Their activities were supported by the Macedonian unions of Switzerland, which had received funding of 20,000 francs from Sofia. The whole of the Bulgarian-Macedonian intellectual community had been recruited: Simeon Radeff from Resna with law studies at Geneva and an old member of the IMRO, S. Kitintcheff, K. Solarov, V. Tsanov, and Kostadin Stephanov, literature professor and member of the Central Macedonian Association in Switzerland. The flagship of these literature activities was Ivanov’s study, "La Question Macedonienne au point de vue historique, ethnographique et statistique", published in Paris in 1920, which recapped the Bulgarian views on Macedonia and Sofia’s rights over what was now Greek Macedonia. Aside from citations of all the texts favourable to Sofia from the 19th century, the volume was accompanied by two maps. The first exploited 19th century pro-Bulgarian map production to portray the ethnically Bulgarian region at its most expansive. The second presented the contradictory views that had emerged after 1878 and which clearly, and unjustifiably according to Ivanov, limited this region.
Of course, the First World War and the disarray it brought to the Balkans did not leave the rest of the European academic community unaffected. Some of the most important works to be produced were those of R. Seton-Watson, Jacques Ancel and Jacob Ruchti. Switzerland had indeed emerged as the centre of academic interest on the Macedonian issue, and this had to do not simply with the conditions of peace that prevailed in this country, but also with the covert efforts of Sofia. It is impossible to count all the inter-war studies and articles that were published in the press, and in journals. A new generation of travel writing also emerged, memories old and new and, as always, never neutral. The most important, because of the depth of their knowledge, were those of Sir Robert Graves, the British Consul at Thessaloniki after 1903, the French official Leon Lamouche, who gave pro-Bulgarian speeches funded by Sofia, Edmond Bouchie de Belle, a top official and veteran of the Macedonian front, Franceska Wilson and others. During the inter-war period the relevant titles had also begun to be published in the USA, thanks to the flourishing patriotic Bulgarian-Macedonian organizations and their main representative, Chris Anastasoff from Florida.
Many of these books provided retrospective justification for Bulgaria; but for Sofia, on the diplomatic level at least, the Macedonian issue had been lost for good. It remained, however, alive throughout the inter-war period, both in refugee memories as well as in the country’s political arena. To be exact, the Bulgarian-Macedonian refugees became both the authors and the primary readers of an extensive patriotic bibliography, which included memoirs from the struggle for Macedonia to the micro-histories of their now completely lost homelands in Greek Macedonia. A primary role in this productivity was the foundation of the Macedonian Scientific Institute in 1923, under the leadership of Professor Ivan Georgov, and, two years later, the publication of the journal Makedonski Pregled. In the meantime, Liubomir Miletich, by now president of the Institute, had begun the publication of a series of memoirs of the voyvodas of Ilinden. His example was followed by a number of veterans, such as Christo Matov and Christo Silianov.
Theoretically, the post-war division in Europe appeared to serve Greek interests in Macedonia. Anti-communism would suffice as a shield under which the Greeks would have the luxury of focusing on the local histories of the villages of Macedonia and the biographies of distinguished Macedonians. Yet, it was not to be quite like that. Bulgaria was a defeated country that was obliged to rethink its policy of reassessment so as not to be isolated from its Slav partners, Belgrade and Moscow, a tripartite relationship that made the existence of the PRM even more difficult. Furthermore, the right-wing of IMRO, under the leadership of Ivan Mihailov, was seen as a formidable factor on the Bulgarian political scene, although in the end the opposite proved true. The Macedonian organizations had to undergo a transformation in order to position themselves against visions of a Greater Bulgaria and in favour of Macedonian national liberation, albeit under pressure. And so it happened. In place of the journal Makedonski Pregled, the new journal Makedonska Misil (published in Skopje), was adjusted to the new ideological demands. Skopje was promoted as the new Piedmont for the unification of the ‘Macedonian nation’, not of course without resistance, as long as there was still a political opposition. But this was not enough. The Macedonians no longer had any place in Bulgaria. In 1947, the Macedonian Scientific Institute was suspended. Its archives, and the relics of Gotse Delchev were transported to Skopje. The blow was hard and, although from 1948, as is well known, Bulgarian policy shifted, the progress in the field of history slowed.
For the Yugoslavs, the problem was no longer Bulgaria. During the inter-war period (1945-60) in Yugoslavia, although historical output was tame, significant ideological work and infrastructure improvement was taking place, and not unnoticed. In 1948, the Institute of National History was founded in Skopje, with the purpose of gathering archive material and memoirs for the writing of the history of the ‘Macedonian people’, minorities and ethnic groups who lived within the Republic. In the meantime, the first generation of young historians had emerged from the university, amongst whom Slav-Macedonian political refugees were well represented. Their output became well known mainly through their articles, which started to present a new history of Macedonia, removed from its Greek and Bulgarian origins, with the ‘Macedonian nation’ as its point of reference, and a Marxist methodology. A central point in this was taken by the old Bulgarian vision of Macedonian geographical unity, which was invested with the requisite historical arguments from ancient times until the Second World War and set out on a map, which has since then followed the historical journey of this Republic.
On the surface, the international repercussions of these developments were not particularly worrying for the Bulgarians. At first sight, the pro-Slav bibliography on the Macedonian issue was limited to the books of Serbs and Bulgarians of the diasporas, mainly the works of Chris Anastasoff and Ivan Michailoff, the inter-war leaders of the IMRO. Level-headed studies, such as those of geography professor H. Wilkinson and Elisabeth Barker, pro-Greek works such as those of Christopher Woodhouse, and of course Greek works in English and French balanced things satisfactorily. Yet, things were not quite as they seemed. The Macedonian issue now automatically featured in every publication on Yugoslav history issued by Belgrade, and in every publication by third parties on Yugoslavia and the Balkans, ultimately benefiting Skopje politically. It was no longer simply a part of Greek, Bulgarian or Serb history. Moreover, the country’s language was now a distinct field of study for Slav scholars the world over. All this scholarly output was now classified as Macedonian.
The foundation of an independent Macedonian state, FYROM, and the concomitant post-communist period in Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, revived Macedonian studies, but the clock could no longer be turned back. Bulgaria, which in 1991 re-founded the Macedonian Scientific Institute and re-published the Makedonski Pregled a new, regurgitated its Macedonian output, this time, however, with very little access to the western academic community. Cut off for years from the predominant Anglo-Saxon research, and without the financial support for translations, it remained for at least a decade unable to influence international historiography. But, finally, it seems to have made a comeback with a new generation of historians who have a critical approach to their national history. In FYROM, nothing more was needed than what had already been done. The work had already been completed much earlier, and any new chapters that were added after 1991 were simply repetitions. It is still too early even today to expect significant breaks with its historiography, given the country’s political and diplomatic position. In Greece the trends were, and still are, divided. One side appears to accept completely the Slavic line — Slav-Macedonian and not Bulgarian — whilst another continues the tradition of the unceasing struggle of historical rights. One could say that this scene is reminiscent of the inter-war period. The dispute is due mainly to disagreement in the use of modem methodologies that have been adopted by new academic fields, as well as in the choice of a point of view. As in other periods, the western point of view has determined the importance of cartography and the entrenchment of ethnic groups and protection of ethnic minorities. Since 1990, therefore, it has encouraged the study and protection of ethnic groups and their cultural identities. Perhaps the only difference is that this time western academic output on Macedonia — in which much was invested thanks to the collapse of Yugoslavia — almost acquired the overtones of a reform process, which influenced Greece most, Bulgaria to a lesser extent, yet FYROM, so far, almost not at all.
Addendum: Beside the intellectual stamina of so much educated Bulgarian men and patriots on the Macedonian question there is something else that we wish to point out in this add-on. The matter whether we do conform or don't with the position of Macedonian Scientific Institute has been of secondary importance to the author of these lines. What really matters for Macedonia is that it has remained always an international issue, more or less to be decided by the global world order rather than the will of some minority, be it Macedonian or other fluctuant diaspora. We wish to enumerate here specifically for the sake of literature review two large pools of scientific information on the subject.
Firstly, the standpoint of the American Protestant Missionary Service on the Balkans that now reaches its 150th anniversary from translation of the Bible in Bulgarian language. This was highly instrumental for delineating the consciousness of a Christian milieu amidst the sea of Muslim neighborhood. We open here a track of names with those American Protestant literati that left a considerable written heritage on the Macedonian Question — W. W. Hall Jr., James F. Clarke Jr., J. Swire, Cyril E. Black, Christ Anastasoff, Dennis Hupchick, etc.
Secondly, we introduce here the memoranda, petitions, resolutions, letters and documents addressed to the League of Nations — collected in 5 volumes titled "Complaints of Macedonia 1919-1939" and republished in Geneva, 1979. This bundle of some 1500 pp. contains valuable information on the international dimension of the problem.
Commensurably, we give some reprints from the 1990s that reflect the current position of MSI. Access is from here,
Copyright © 2011 by the author.