The Ethnic and Historical origins of FYROM Part II

Macedonism – the ideology’s first emergence in the 19th century, its course through the Balkan wars and the ground it gained up until 1945 – Overview

Emerging in the middle to later stages of the 1800s, being first recorded in the 1860s and without ethnic/ historic reality, this Macedonist phenomena was never prolific enough to eventuate on its own and never consituted a fully fledged ethnicity. All foreign examinations attest to this, never deeming such Macedonism neither significant to constitute being mentioned as an ethnicity in official maps, censuses with the vast majority of Slavs in Macedonia being described as Bulgarians and lingustically Bulgarian.

In the the late 19th century, during the height of the activity of the IMARO, during the 1903 uprising, the balkan wars and Yugoslav rule thereafter, the “Macedonists”, as the Bulgarians called them, were clearly a minority, especially amongst the uneducated peasant masses of Macedonia. Yet their views were gaining ground; if only a little. The Macedonists are recorded as having told the peasants they were descendants of the glorious ancient Macedonians, that they civilised all the Slavs through St Cyril and Methodius and they looked down on the rest of Bulgarians who were “not pure Slavs” as the Macedonians were. With the advent of Yugoslav rule and the forceful policies of Serbinization and de-Bulgarianization which occured on the Slavs of Vardar, the Macedonists did gain ground however with the idea of an independent Macedonia winning more hearts and minds.

During WW2 Tito and his Yugoslav Communist party enjoyed the support of the leftist Slav partisans in Vardar who favoured ‘Macedonism’ as an alternative to the opressive nature of the Bulgarian fascist occupation; this factor combined with Serbinization and Greece’s mistreatment of its Bulgarophone minority gave the Yugoslav communists an opening. Yet at the same time much of the population welcomed the Bulgarians as liberators, despite having been under Yugoslav/ Serb rule since 1913 and being subject to Serbinization policies since that time. In some ways however, a German invasion and subsequent fascist Bulgarian occupation again gained more appeal for the idea of a “free and independent Macedonia” and seperatism from Bulgaria in terms of conscience.

With the Comintern and all the communist parties of the region; Greek, Yugoslav and Bulgarian already having adopted the Macedonist cause over a decade before the war, through Comintern and Balkan Communist Federatiom direction, Tito capitalised in the growing support for an independent/ autonomous Macedonia eminatting from the leftist Slav spectrum of Vardar. Espcially through the Partisans’ resistance movements formed to resist axis occupation and win control for the communists in a post war situation. Such a group in Macedonia was ‘SNOF’, a group made up of Slav partisans specifically formed as a ‘Free Macedonian Slav’ unit and as a sub-branch of the Yugoslav Partisan movement. More on the collusion of the various communist partisan leadership of the region; Greeks, Slavs and Albanians and their subordinacy to Belgrade and Moscow and their contribution to the Macedonian affair can be found later on in this article.

In 1944, Tito, head of the CPY (Communist party of Yugoslavia) and the partisan forces gave Macedonism its fruition, though as part of the Federal Yugoslavia. The ‘codification’ of this artificial ethnisism with the creation of the ‘Socialist Republic of Macedonia’, the establishment of commitees on “Macedonian” language and alphabet as well as the “Macedonian Orthodox Church” in 1968 by the Yugoslav communist party. Thereafter Belgrade directed a concerted policy of the complete Macedonization of Vardar and promoted Macedonian nationalism.

Manufactured ethnogenesis – an ideology in the minority and its struggle to materialise

This quote from an observer in the 1950s after 5 years of Yugoslav Communist rule gives an idea of the ground still needed to be gained before FYROM can be said to be the country where a fully fledged Macedonian ethnicity exists:


“In regard to their own national feelings, all that can safely be said is that during the last eighty years many more Slav Macedonians seem to have considered themselves Bulgarian, or closely linked to Bulgaria, than have considered themselves Serbian, or closely linked to Serbia (or Yugoslavia). Only the people of the Skoplje region, in the north west, have ever shown much tendency to regard themselves as Serbs. The feeling of being Macedonians, and nothig but Macedonians, seems to be a sentiment of fairly recent growth, and even today is not very deep-rooted.”

[Elisabeth Barker, “Macedonia, its place in Balkan power politics”, (originally published in 1950 by the Royal Institute of International Affairs), p.10 ]


“On the other hand, the Macedonians are a newly emergent people in search of a past to help legitimize their precarious present as they attempt to establish their singular identity in a Slavic world dominated historically by Serbs and Bulgarians.”

[Eugene Borza,The Macedonian Rendux]


“Since they were closely related to both Bulgars and Serbs and had, moreover, in the past been usually incorporated in either the Bulgar or Serb state, they inevitably became the object of both Bulgar and Serb aspirations and an apple of discord between these rival nationalities. As an oppressed people on an exceedingly primitive level, the Macedonian Slavs had as late as the congress of Berlin exhibited no perceptible national consciousness of their own. It was therefore impossible to foretell in what direction they would lean when their awakening came; in fact, so indeterminate was the situation that under favorable circumstances they might even develop ther own peculiar Macedonian consciousness.”

[Ferdinand Schevill, “A History of the Balkans”, p.432]


The history of the construction of a macedonian national identity does not begin with alexander the great in the fourth century b.c. or with saints cyril and methodius in the ninth century a.d., as Macedonian nationalist historians often claim. nor does it begin with tito and the establishment of the people’s republic of macedonia in 1944 as greek nationalist historians would have us believe. It begins in the nineteenth century with the first expressions of macedonian ethnic nationalism on the part of a small number of intellectuals in places like thessaloniki, belgrade, sophia, and st.petersburg. this period marks the beginning of the process of “imagining” a macedonian national community, the beginning of the construction of a macedonian national identity and culture.

[Loring Danforth,The Macedonian Conflict. Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World,page 56]

Krste Misirkov

Krste Misirkov is an example of the struggle of the Macedonist philosophy to materialise initially. He is also prime example of the often fluxuating ethnic conscience of some of the early Macedonists at the turn of the century. Many intellectuals were having to decide whether they favoured annexation by Bulgaria, or an autonomous Macedonia. While Misirkov is curiously heralded by Skopjians as one of the “founders of the Macedonian nation”, he is also wrote that “We [Macedonian Slavs] are more Bulgarian than those in Bulgaria!”.

In view of his ethnic fluxuations it can be seen that Misirkov only promoted the concept of “Macedonism” when he felt the Bulgarian position in Macedonia was irrevocably lost – as in 1903 after Ilinden (when he wrote “On Macedonian Matters”) and after WWI. At all other times he was a staunch advocate of the Bulgarian character of Macedonia. He was the first person to transform “Macedonian” as a literary language, when in Sofia in 1903, he published the book ”Za Makedonckite Raboti” (‘On Macedonian Matters’) in which he laid down the principles of the ‘Macedonian’ language. According to this book, the language should be based on the central dialects of Vardar. He also used those dialects to write the book itself. Misirkov died in 1926. Misirkov’s pro-Macedonism arguments were resurrected and re-packaged by the Comintern in 1934 as evidence for a “Macedonian Nation” and his principles were used by the Yugoslav committees for the codification of the Macedonian language. Some exceprts from his pro-Macedonist stance publication “On Macedonian matters”:


“It was upon their initiative that in the eighteen nineties a nationalist-seperatist movement was first formed with the aim of divorcing Macedonian interests from those of Bulgaria by introducing a Macedonian tongue which would serve as the literary language of all Macedonians….

“Up till that moment our national self-awareness had been only half aroused; nobody had bothered particularly with the question of our nationality”

“What should be pointed out first is that we are not now breaking away from Bulgaria and so destroying an already existing whole, for we have already been separated and living apart for more than twenty-five years. It was others who divided us, creating for us and for the Bulgarians two different lives with different needs, and setting us in unequal positions. And these others will not allow us to unite.”

[Krste Misirkov, “On Macedonian matters”, Skopje: Macedonian review editions, 1974]

In his book, ”The national identity of the Macedonians”, which he wrote in 1924, two years before he died, he uncompromisingly defends the Bulgarian character of the population of Macedonia He completley retracts everything he wrote in his book ”Za Makedonckite Raboti” about the Macedonian language, with the explanation that “I wrote it as a politician”. The book is uncompromisingly pro-Bulgarian, describing himself as a Bulgarian, nationalistically so.

Krste Misirkov
National Identity of the Macedonians. 1924 γ:


Krste Misirkov wrote:

1. We speak Bulgarian language and we believed with Bulgarians is our strong power.

2. The Bulgarians in Macedonia. The future of Macedonia is spiritual union of the Bulgarians in Macedonia.

3. The Macedonian Slavs are called Bulgarians.

4. The biggest part of the population are called Bulgarians.

5. All spoke that Macedonians are Bulgarians. Until 1978 all including Russian Government spoke the Macedonians are Bulgarians. But after the Berlin Congress the Serbs came with pretension to have Macedonia. They try to change the European opinion that in Macedonia there are Serbian too.

6. If Ilinden uprising win we will be thankful to Bulgarians, but Serbians try to compete with Bulgarians and spend a lot of money and propaganda. If Macedonia is autonomic there will be no space for propaganda and the Serbs have to leave Bulgarian in peace.

7. The Ilinden Uprising Committee is Bulgarian.

8. Bulgarian Language and Bulgarian name. The Committee is ready to give guarantee to Europe that Macedonia will not unify with Bulgaria, but they can’t take the Bulgarian name and language from Macedonia!

9. Unification between Turks and Bulgarians in Macedonia. Serbia and Greece do not want to give us autonomous and independent Macedonia, because they see this as a fist step to unification. In Macedonia have only pure Bulgarian population, which can’t be unified with the Turks.

10. Serbia is against autonomous Macedonia. Serbia is afraid because Macedonia with the Bulgarian population will have tendency to united with Bulgaria and for this reason Serbia will not allow this.

11. They divided us and now they do not allow us to unify. We are living now 25 years divided from Bulgaria and they do not allow us to unify? We call ourselves Bulgarians or Macedonians and see us as separate and radically different from the Serbs with Bulgarian national consciousness.

12. Our Grandfathers call themselves Bulgarians. They never thing that we will be having such a problem to call ourselves so.

13. Bulgarian Literally Language. We the Macedonians voluntarily choose one and the same language with Bulgarians long before the liberation of Bulgaria from Turkey. The prohibition from the Serbs to use our literally language, which is the only one connection between us and Bulgarians is significant violation of our human rights. .. and further.. when they forbid us to call ourselves Bulgarians, to learn Bulgarian history and to be ashamed from everything which connect us with Bulgarians. It is enough to learn our Macedonian culture and history to understand that we are very different from Serbian nationality.

14. There no difference between Bulgarian and Macedonian Slav. The Greeks in 1804 long before Bulgarian exarchate do not make any difference between Bulgarian and West Macedonian dialect.

15. Bulgarian national name of Macedonians. In the IX century in the first Bulgarian kingdom we do not have anything against this Bulgarian national name for us and for the rest of Bulgarians in Bulgaria.

16. We Macedonian Bulgarians (Macedonians) like Bulgarian state as our own.

17. The Serbs are much inferior than we are. We demand freedom for all of us and not to be material for assimilation experiments of the Serbs, which stand much inferior from us in spiritual narrow-mindedness and chauvinism.

18. The Serbs come to the idea of the Macedonian nationality. The Serbs develop the concept for special Macedonian Nation, which they put in the south Macedonia. They declare north Macedonia as a pure Serbian land. Middle Macedonia as a transition between Serbian and Macedonian language.

19. The population of Skopje is pure Bulgarian. Bulgaria make a big error when recognize the territory for “neutral”. It is pure Bulgarian and the population in Skopje and surrounding area is pure Bulgarian.

20. Why the Serbs want Macedonia? What Serbian you can find in this pure Bulgarian land, which is since 6 century till today Bulgarian, despite of all vicissitude of the historical destiny.

21. Serbian-Greek attempt on the Bulgarians in Macedonia. Because of the treaty between Serbia and Greece Bulgaria was robed and 2 Millions Bulgarians where conquered from Serbia and Greece. Yes! To many damage did the Serbs on Bulgaria, Macedonia and Dobrudja and with this they do not stop! They filled that their vicious work will be discovered and to be prosecuted by the Slavic consciousness because of the freedom of 1/3 of Bulgarians – the Bulgarians in Macedonia.

22. The lies about Bulgarian and Bulgaria. Restoration of the human rights of the Bulgarians in Macedonia and Dobrudja, despite of the lies spread for Bulgaria and Bulgarians! Who is against Great Bulgaria, he is against the Slavs!

23. Krali Marko songs in Macedonia are from Bulgarian origin. The songs of Krali Marko in Macedonia are from Bulgarian origin and speak for the Bulgarian influence over the Serbs and not the opposite.

24. The Serbs will coarse many wars, if the “Dushan empire” will not disappear. In the last quarter of the XIX century the Serbs start to dream to restore this abandon from Serbs it selves empire. With intrigues and and allies they conquer big part of Bulgarian Macedonia. But this Serbian advantages of 1912 coarse the war in 1913 and they coarse the war in 1915-1918 and will coarse many more wars, unless “Dushan empire” get liquidate in the same way as in XIV century on the principal of the self-determination of the nations.

25. Serbs falsify the history. In Bulgaria Macedonians have all personal rights, freedom of expression and self-determination in Bulgaria. The Serbs try to destroy the soul of the Macedonians and for that reason the falsify the hole history. In this Serbian logic and Serbian fillings there are something abnormal, which is prove of the failure of the Serbian state. They are afraid from the Macedonians in Macedonia and also this living outside.

26. The Macedonian population is against Serbs. You have to know that because your Serbian politics against Macedonians you have against you all past present and future Balkan governments and the Macedonian population.

27. The Bulgarians are our fellow citizens. The European recognize that only independent sate will put an end of the competition conquer and hegemony on the Balkan. An will end once forever violence of the new conquer. And everlasting peace on the Balkan and in Europe will rise. Greece and Serbia will loose territorially and les Bulgaria and will win all Macedonians.

28. The Serbs forbid us to celebrate all Bulgarian holidays. We are forced to celebrate St. Sava and forbid to celebrate St. Cyril and St. Methodius and Ilinden Uprising.

29. Our souls are in Bulgaria. Serbia conquer the land and the body of Macedonians, the souls are in Bulgaria and with Bulgaria.

30. Krste Petkov Misirkov defines himself as a Bulgarian. 1897 I was accepted in Petersburg University in Russia and five years I was Bulgarian student community as Bulgarian.

31. Self appreciation of the statement in the book “For Macedonian matters”. The readers of this article will be very surprised of the big controversy opinion, which they will meet here in comparison with the article “For Macedonian matters”. To understand this contradiction I will remember you, that I wrote as an improvised politicians

By Voulgaroktonos


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