The inhabited places in Aegean Macedonia
Table of Contents
- THE REPERCUSSIONS OF THE BALKAN WARS 1912-1913
- MIGRATION MOVEMENTS IN AEGEAN MACEDONIA DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR
- MIGRATION MOVEMENTS IN AEGEAN MACEDONIA BETWEEN 1919 AND 1940.
- THE MIGRATION FROM AEGEAN MACEDONIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR AND THE CIVIL WAR IN GREECE
- THE MIGRATION FROM AEGEAN MACEDONIA TO OVERSEAS COUNTRIES AFTER THE CIVIL WAR IN GREECE
The part which came under Greece and henceforward it represents an integral part of the Greek state, covers an area of 33.953 sq. kms, of the total 66.474 sq. kms, of Macedonia as a whole. Greece, by the including Aegean Macedonia in its structure increased from 63.211 sq. kms. to 129. 880 sq. kms., and from 2.631.952 to 6.204.684 inhabitants as it numbered in 1920. In this way it gained state boundaries with Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, even though they were neither natural nor ethnic boundaries.
From the 2.000.000 inhabitants of Macedonia before its partitioning, more than half, in other words, 1.163.477 inhabitants lived in Aegean Macedonia. The national structure of its population, met with serious ethnic changes .
On the eve of the Balkan Wars, Macedonia had the following distribution: Macedonian Christians about 326.000, Macedonian Muslims 41.000, Turks 295.000, Greek Christians 240.000, Greek Muslims 14.000, Christian Vlachs 46.000, Muslim Vlachs 3.500, Albanian Muslims and Christians 9.000, Jews 60.000, Gypsies 30.000, and the rest from other minorities.
Here we do not consider the history of the nationalities in Aegean Macedonia and its former ethnic structure. But at any rate, it deserves to be emphasized that before the Turkish arrival the Macedonian nationality was more numerous than the other nationalities which were inhabited the area. Frequent wars in the past brought chaos, ruin, and migration, but the Macedonians remained the main nationality in Aegean Macedonia.
In the period after the Balkan Wars, in which there were such enormous migrations and ethnic changes in Aegean Macedonia, had terrible consequences for the Macedonian people, as a whole. A great injustice was done to the Macedonian people by the partition of Macedonia among the three neighboring states, who, henceforth have been fighting for their national freedom.
The only alternative remained further struggle in spite of the new circumstances. This time it became even more complex and difficult. Besides the partioning, taking into consideration all the repercussions, the Macedonians from the three parts of Macedonia were subjected to assimilation, torture, and forced migration, with the intention of changing the ethnic structure of Macedonia. The bourgeois government of neighboring Greece took advantage of a few historical events to promote its own aims. They are, as follows:
1. The first and Second Balkan War from 1912-1913;
2. The First World War from 19l4-1918;
3. The Greco-Turkish War from 1919-1922 and the Convention of Lausanne from 1923.
4. The Second World War and the Civil War in Greece from 1940-1949 and,
5. The policy that followed after the Civil war in Greece, with the difference that this policy is much more refined, but equally denationalizing of the Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia.
THE REPERCUSSIONS OF THE BALKAN WARS 1912-1913
After the First Balkan War being declared on 4th, (17) October 1912. the allied troops: Serbian, Bulgarian, Greek and Montenegrin heavily defeated the Turkish troops, because of which Turkey was forced to ask for a Peace Treaty (December 4, 1912). The war with Turkey legally ended with the conclusion of the London Peace Treaty on May 17, (30) 1913, with which the territory of the European part of Turkey was given to the allied troops, without determination of their borders. Arguments about whom should take a bigger part from the newly liberated Macedonian territory resulted in the Second Balkan War which very soon came to an end in a total defeat of Bulgaria.
Their aspirations were exposed. In the course of the First Balkan War, in which the Turkish and other Muslim population in Macedonian suffered at the most, it is not a secret that the worst torture towards the Muslim population was shown by the Greek and Bulgarian troops and authorities. These allied troops killed thousands of Muslims, burned homes and villages, and even whole quarters of towns inhabited by Muslims. But, on these occupied territories the Muslims were not the only population to suffer during the First Balkan War.
Carrying out faithfully their imperialistic plans in Macedonia, the Greek and Bulgarian occupying authorities started torturing the Christian population, which according to their calculations and opinions was not feeling loyal. In the Second Balkan War which was much more violent began on June 29, 1913. During this war the Macedonian people suffered 100 times as much. In this war, especially by the Greek forces, were killed thousands of innocent Macedonians of whom the larger part were women and children, especially in the Kukush and Demir Hisar regions, where the military operations had been carried out. Also, ten Macedonian villages together with the beautiful town of Kukush were burnt to the ground and ruined.
The Bulgarian troops were equally violent towards the Greek population, especially in the towns of Seres and Doksat. As a result of the two Balkan wars, Bulgaria on its territory recieved about 112.090 war refugees of which 50.000 were Macedonians, and 30.000 were from Aegean Macedonia.
Greece, in the territory of Aegean Macedonia received about 15.000 refugees, mostly Turks, less Greeks, Macedonian Patriarchists and Vlachs. A certain part of them would remain on the territory of Aegean Macedonia in order to fulfill the gaps that appeared during the two wars. The others, mostly Turks and other Muslims, moved to Turkey through the port of Salonica immediately after the normalization of the situation. They were helped by Greek authorities who made their lives very hard in order to get rid them, as soon as, possible.
In the course of the Second Balkan War the Macedonians because of the above-mentioned violence, were considerably moved out in some regions (Kukush, Demir Hisar, Seres, etc.), they still remained further as the main nationality in Aegean Macedonia, and in absolute majority in the border regions with Vardar Macedonia which was within the framework of Serbia and with Bulgaria. Such a situation could not satisfy the Greek plans whose aim was to Hellenize this non-Greek region. This act could be achieved only by forced expulsions out outright assimilation of the Macedonians, and by forced expulsions of the Turkish and other population. These would be replaced with Greek populations or with populations having pro-Greek feelings, newcomers from Caucasus, Asia Minor and other regions. Immediately after the Peace Treaty had concluded intense pressure was applied upon the Macedonians and Turks to leave their houses and villages and to move out of the new Greek state. Such a pressure forced a certain number of Macedonian families to move to Bulgaria and Serbia (in other words into Vardar Macedonia which was in its structure) as well as forced migration overseas. This migration was temporarily interrupted because of the First World War and the stationing of the allied troops (French, English, Serbian etc.) in Aegean Macedonia.
MIGRATION MOVEMENTS IN AEGEAN MACEDONIA DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR
This process of migration from Aegean Macedonia, as well as, the already initiated process of colonization with emigration from Caucasus and other regions was interrupted because of the war, by Serbian armed troops retreating from its territory and by the invasion of Vardar and East Aegean Macedonia by Bulgarian armed troops and the stationing of the allied troops at the territory of Aegean Macedonia. Because of this situation a new Macedonian emigration began during the war which was directed in three directions. Dissatisfied by the Serbian, and later on by the Bulgarian occupation, one part of the Macedonians who lived in these territories were going away towards Aegean Macedonia, where under the “care” of the Greek authorities they had moved in the border regions: Lerin, Sorovitch, Ostrovo, Voden, Meglen, Enidze Vardar, Gumendze, Bojmitsa, Kukush. Later on, the bigger part of Macedonian emigrants from Vardar Macedonia, especially after the allied troops had again left Bitola found themselves under the care of the Serbian civil and military authorities, who very often had not been satisfied by the anti-Serbian and anti-Slavic policy of the Greeks.
Moreover, there were now emigrants from Aegean Macedonia in the territory occupied by the Bulgarians, with an intention to avoid recruitment into the Greek army. According to the official statistics, about 14.000 fled from Vardar Macedonia to Aegean Macedonia during the First World War (this number concerns those who did not come hack after the war). Then again about 41.000, fled to Bulgaria, out them one half from the Aegean part of Macedonia.
Divided into years, this emigration in Bulgaria was reached: 3.759 in 1915, 6.713 in 1916, 2.376 in 1917, 13.454 in 1918, and 14.785 in 1919. The actual number of emigrants was much larger, but a good part of them after normalizing of the situation came back to their places of birth. This emigration, especially that which refers to 1916, consisted mainly of peasants and citizens who in the autumn 1916 were removed by force from the villages and towns which were on the front line. Among them were the inhabitants of the towns of Dojran and Gevgelija.
From the above mentioned emigration into Bulgaria, 41.000, been settled down, such as; 5.500 in Plovdiv and its vicinity, while the other in other towns and regions of Bulgaria. The end of the First World War was satisfactory for Greece. It spread out into Thrace as well, which, according to Bucharest Peace Treaty belonged to Bulgaria. The Macedonians from Aegean Macedonia lost a great deal because of the forced emigrations. On the other side, about 100.000 emigrants with pro-Greek feelings had been settled. But, the situation in Aegean Macedonia remained unsatisfactory for Greece. The larger part of the population was not Greek, and consisted of Macedonians, Turks and other nationalities. Besides that, one number from the colonized population in Aegean Macedonia consisted of Macedonians from Pirin and Vardar Macedonia, who, though Patriarchists, were not of “much interest” to the Greeks.
MIGRATION MOVEMENTS IN AEGEAN MACEDONIA BETWEEN 1919 AND 1940.
Migration of Macedonians in Bulgaria, the Kingdom of Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia and the overseas countries between 1919 and 1940
We have already seen that about 50.000 Macedonians emigrated from the territory of Aegean Macedonia to Bulgaria during the Balkan Wars and the First World War. This forced emigration of the Macedonians did not give the expected results to Greek authorities, and in Aegean Macedonia many remained. Taking into consideration the natural growth of population, about 270.000 300.000 Macedonians.
Taking this fact into consideration, the Greeks forced upon Bulgaria a special convention which was based on Article 56, line 2, of the Neuilly Peace Treaty. The convention was expecting “voluntary” exchanges of population between Bulgaria and Greece. The aim here was to justify the forced emigration of the Macedonians from Aegean Macedonia to Bulgaria. The defeated Bulgaria did not give any resistance, and because of the Macedonians, had got the idea to be free of the Greek population which was living in Bulgaria, especially in Plovdiv and its surrounding, as well as in the Black Sea’s towns and villages.
For this purpose was envisaged a special commission which guaranteed compensation of their estates. It was named by the Council of the League of Nations, on September 20, 1920. The commission consisted of two members, such as Lieutenant Colonel A. C. Corfe from New Zealand, and Major Mariel de Roover from Belgium. One of them was President, and the other one was vice-president. In this commission were included one Bulgarian and one Greek. The commission was supposed to supervise and to facilitate the emigration and the compensation of the estates of the emigrants. But the convention itself in the practice together with the commission was not useful. For the period of three years from the nomination and functioning of the Commission neither the Macedonians living within the framework of the Greek state, nor the Greeks living in Bulgaria, had any intention of voluntarily leaving their birthplaces.
During the period from 1919 to the Autumn of 1923, in both directions emigrated, hardly 800 emigrants and less than one third were Macedonians, about 250 persons. But, another issue facing the Macedonians, and not just the Macedonians regarding the exchanges in ethnic structure of Aegean Macedonia, was Greco-Turkish War between 1919 and 1922. The megalomaniac al aspirations of the Greek bourgeoisie towards Asia Minor especially towards the seaside parts of Asia Minor, which they considered as theirs historically, as coming from the former Byzantine Empire, brought Greece into war with the much more powerful Turkey. This war lasted from 1919-1922 and in it were killed a lot of Macedonians from Aegean Macedonia, who were fighting together with the Greek troops. It ultimately ended in the total defeat of Greece.
Turkey took advantage of this victory and imposed on Greece the Convention of Lausanne. It anticipated forced emigration of all Christians from the Turkish state to Greece, as well as, to all the Muslims from Greece to Turkey. An exception was made only for the Muslim population from Western Thrace and for the Christians in Constantinople, because of special long-term plans to each of them. Practically, the Turks were moving by force the Greek population from the seaside of Asia Minor. This took place during l923 and 1924.
That is why Greece found itself in an inferior situation, not only because of the defeat but for Greece were lost all the megalomaniacal plans for Asia Minor. But Greece took advantage of moving in the bigger part of this Greek emigration which approximately amounted to about 1.230.000 persons, into Aegean Macedonia. In this way it had the opportunity of having the possibility to basically exchange the ethnic structure of Aegean Macedonia. That is why there were settled more than 640.000 newcomers, while in the meantime, according to the same convention more than 300.000 Turks and other Muslims out of whom, more than 40.000 were Macedonians were expelled.
On the pretext of having difficulties with the settling of the refugees, they were placed with Macedonian families by force one or more families of refugees. This phenomenon was most characteristic in the border regions in order to make the life of Macedonians unbearable. This forced resettlement was followed by confiscating of estates, inventory and other household property. Physical terror and other kinds of pressure were not avoided.
Besides this, in the whole Aegean Macedonia were formed armed units which on the pretext of looking for guerrillas, were terrorizing the Macedonian families, doing massive jailing, and even single and mass murders. Among the more massive murders, we are going to mention the murder of 19 Macedonian peasants from the villages of Trlis, Kapachoy and Lovchen, who were tied up and killed on July 27, 1924. There was, as well, the imprisonment of peasants and citizens from Lerin. In the Lerin region by November, l925, a lot of them had been shot, and the others condemned to long-term slavery.
The numerous terrorist actions of these armed units and all other methods of violence which were carried out by the Greek authorities, forced a many of Macedonians to move into Bulgaria, and a smaller part into Vardar Macedonia, especially in the regions of Bitola, Gevgelija and Strumitsa. According to the official statistic data available at our disposal, for the period of 1923 to 1928 in Bulgaria under these circumstances emigrated about 33.000 Macedonians, and approximately 10.000 into “Southern Serbia” or Vardar Macedonia. These Macedonians were forced to emigrate because they found themselves under unbearable conditions, permanently terrorized, provoked by the Greek authorities and armed groups. It was natural, the sole solution for their salvation to seek emigration thinking that in this way they will save themselves from hanging, from the physical and spiritual horrors and, at least, to be free from the daily nightmare, to find relative peace.
The Settlement or the Macedonian Emigrants in Bulgaria
We will not describe the process of this emigration of the Macedonians except to say they were almost stripped to skin before being allowed to emigrate. We will give you just a short survey about the first years in Bulgaria. When there was a bigger number of Macedonian families for emigration and when they were ready to depart after having received all the necessary documents, in fact, for them started new tortures, troubles and suffering. Arriving with difficulties to the railway station from where they ought to have been thrown into freight trains especially for them which should have transported them to Bulgaria. They sometimes had to wait for the trains for days and sometimes for weeks. In the end when the train departed with the heavy freight intended in fact for deportation and took them off to the other side of the border, where in their opinion their tragedy should have ended. But, from here started new sufferings for the Macedonian emigrants, which were not small. Practically, they looked more difficult and unbearable, as they were accompanied with agony not seeing any security for their future. Here are some characteristic reports by Bulgarian personages responsible for their acceptance and lodging:
The member of the National Committee D. Dinev. in his report to the Executive Committee from August 11, 1924, is wrtten the following: “In Svilengrad the refugees’ families arrive at midnight at 1:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Here they keep them, disinfect, vaccinate, and then keep them 3 to 10 days in a camp. The tortured refugees, being completely desperate cannot hear even a good word by anyone. Here they will be burnt by the hot Summer sun, by the wind, by the rain. They were not allowed to be put up in the quarantine barracks not even the sick and mothers with children.”
After releasing from the quarantine the troubles do not end for the refugees from the railway station where they “unload,” nor by their transportation and lodging to the settlements in the various regions of Bulgaria. This can be seen from the many letters and from the official reports of those responsible for their lodging. In such a report from June 11, 1924, among other things is written: “… From Bourgas to Mesambria in a few places we met groups of desperate refugees, for whose situation I would like to say that they resemble everything else, but not people.”
It is clear that to the refugees’ families the Bulgarian authorities very rarely fulfilled what wishes they had and that in such a state, they could easily become a victim of various diseases. Exactly because of this it is not strange the conclusion of Dr. Talev, who with his cable of July 1924 to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and to the National Committee reports the following: “In Bourgas region I concluded that all the refugees are infected by fever… The very bad road and hunger exhausted the refugees and we are very sorry to see dead people by fever”
Further examples of the bad care of the Bulgarian authorities could be found in the report of the annual assembly of the National Committee of the Macedonian philanthropic societies, held in Sofia from 31 January to February 2, 1926. In this report in regard to the refugees’ question is written the following: “The refugees were coming bare, hungry, tortured and exhausted. They hoped that here in liberated Bulgaria they will put an end to their slavery, physical and moral sufferings, that they will be met and accepted here as brothers and at least will have a temporary settlement. But it was difficult for them! Since after their arrival at Svilengrad station they were welcomed by the official authorities in a way that immediately chilled their frail hopes which they had after leaving their houses… Instead of a brother’s care, a totally cold welcome by the responsible authorities. The refugees were treated as interned in Lovechko, or called “Eskimos and Barbarians”, as the Mesambrian village mayor did in his letter to the regional mayor of the town of Bourgas”. The report concludes with the violent truth bellow, that “the dead traveling companion of depriving, despair and hunger did not come late to make his harvest very rich. The dead from 20% in the Plovdiv region reached to 80% in the Rouse region.” A lot of refugees were dying, as was reported in many official documents, as well as, in the paper of Andre’ Wurfbain, who, in his book on page 106 writes: ….. “Temporarily put up in school buildings, railway stations, cottages or tents, they very easy became attracted to all infections, because they were already exhausted from their deprivations. Because of lack of cultivable land, a lot of refugees were directed towards the fertile land of Bourgas, which became unbearable be cause of the fever which was devastating there. The mortality was increasing. 65% of refugees put up near Bourgas, died in only two years.”
The same image of the situation of the refugees in Bulgaria is given by Lucien Cramer in the “Revue Internationale de la Croix Rouge, VII” No.83 of November 1925, where he writes: “When we saw the miserable situation of refugees in Bulgaria, we thought that we are in one of the circles of hell by Dante. This is a real scandal for Europe and is unbearable” The delegates of the International Labor Bureau with the League of Nations, Procter and Ticksie’, during the visit of the refugees camps noticed: “It is horrible! We are defeated up to that extent that we cannot feed ourselves, nor to sleep peacefully from the ugly pictures that we saw in the refugees camps” Here are given only a few fragments from the real picture which the Macedonian refugees in Bulgari found themselves as a consequence of the megalomaniacal plans and aspirations of Greece and Bulgaria. The Macedonian people paid very dearly.
The lodging of the Macedonian refugees at the territory of the Kingdom of Serbia was going relatively easier not only because their emigration was happening in relatively normal conditions, but because their number was considerably smaller. Not once in the “South Star” newspaper, which was coming out in Bitola, or in the Belgrade “Politics”, or in the other Yugoslav papers, was the terror of the Greek authorities towards the Macedonians ever mentioned. We should also mention here that between the two world wars from Aegean Macedonia because of the same political reasons there was emigration overseas. In regard to this emigration we consider that it is necessary shortly to tell the motives and process of emigration from earlier times in order to get a clearer picture of the things which occurred afterwards.
The tradition of Macedonians, especially from the poor regions to go abroad is very old, and is mostly expressed in XVIII and XIX century, There were Macedonian migrant workers mostly in Constantinople, Anatolia, Egypt, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and in the countries of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The migrant workers are known as craftsmen, manual workers and tiny merchants. Their main professions were: masonry, milling, bakery, pastry shops, inn keeping, making tiles and ceramics, tiny trade, etc. Most of these migrant workers kept their families in the villages, where, from time to time, they went back to visit, built rich houses, bought estates. Very rarely did they take their families with them to the places of their work, Constantinople, Sofia, Bucharest, Belgrade, Alexandria, Cairo, etc. The tradition for going to overseas countries mainly begins with the forced terror of the Turkish authority, i.e., from the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century.
Most migrant workers went to America after the Ilinden Uprising, when in Macedonia remained tens of villages burnt by the Turkish troops and “bashibozuk.” Larger emigration to overseas countries took place after the Balkan Wars, especially from Aegean Macedonia, and this phenomenon mainly has a political character. The Greek authorities helped the emigration, which in the first years after the Balkan Wars was very large. But, because of the First World War from 1916, thanks to the circumstances, Greece tried to reduce the migration of Macedonians from Aegean Macedonia. It began again after the end of the war and especially after the end of the Greco-Turkish War and the arrival of great numbers of Greek emigration from Asia Minor into Aegean Macedonia.
This time there is emigration, especially in Canada and Australia. The inflow of Macedonian emigrants in these countries considerably increases after the Dictatorship of Metaxas in Greece from August 4, 1936, when there is more violent terror against the Macedonians: prohibition against the use of the Macedonian language, even in their houses and when the number of prisoners and interned Macedonians because of their feelings was increasing. This process lasted untill the Second World War.
From all the above mentioned it seems that the Convention of Lausanne from July 24, 1923. i.e. by the forced emigration of the Christian population from Turkey to Greece, as well as the new emigration of Macedonians to Bulgaria and somewhat to Vardar Macedonia, which was within the framework of the Kingdom of Serbia and in the overseas countries, the centuries old ethnic structure of Aegean Macedonia was completely altered.
Such forced measures of de-colonization and colonization in fact gave the required results for the Greek bourgeois megalomaniacal politics. But we should say that besides the forced migrations of Macedonians from Aegean Macedonia from 1912-1940, which amounted to about 90.000, the number of Macedonians still remained large. Taking into consideration the natural growth of Macedonians which in average amounts to 24%, the number in 1940 amounted to the same as it in the period before the Balkan wars, i.e., from 300.000 to 320.000 Macedonians.
But in many typical Macedonian regions where historically Greeks have never lived, such as Voden, Enidze Vardar, Gomendzi, Kukush, Demir Hisar and other regions, as a result of such policies in some of them the Macedonians became a minority. Moreover in the regions of Voden, Lerin and Kostur the percentage of Macedonians still remained relatively high, from 55% in the Voden region to 85% in the Lerin region. Such a continuing state worried the Greek authorities, because all up to then measures of forced immigration and assimilation did not give the expected results. But, it represents an historical fact that as a consequence from the Balkan Wars, the First World War, the Greco-Turkish War from 1919 to 1922 and the conventions that followed as well as the denationalizing and assimilation politics of the Greek state and the large colonization that followed all of this to a great measure changed the ethnic composition of Aegean Macedonia. Her population thanks to the colonization policies, as well as, to the natural growth and the mentioned instability, showed a permanent growth. From 1.084.022 inhabitants as it numbered in 1920 it increased in 1928 to 1.410.884 and in 1940 to 1.752.091 inhabitants.
THE MIGRATION FROM AEGEAN MACEDONIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR AND THE CIVIL WAR IN GREECE
The process of denationalisation and assimilation was temporarily interrupted because of the Second World War and the events following after it. It is worth mentioning the fact that the Macedonians during the Greco-Italian War attacked by Mussolini on October 28, 1940, showed great heroism, fighting in the front lines. They fought so bravely as they were sure that this struggle against the fascist aggressor represents a general international obligation and contribution against the mutual enemy of all the peoples. The April’s War in 1940 meant Greece and within her framework Aegean Macedonia could become a war trophy of the German militarism.
Aegean Macedonia this time also became a currency for buying of other conscience and interests, before all, to the Bulgarian revenge and to Italian fascism. For the Macedonians, as well as all the other subjugated peoples in Europe by the German, Italian and Bulgarian fascism, the only solution for realizing of their eternal ideals, was the armed struggle. They did not hesitate at all to make a choice full of sacrifices and sufferings, which were well-known to them for centuries. Because of the partition of Macedonia and the historical circumstances, the Macedonians from Aegean Macedonia, should have fought also together with the Greek people, thinking that during the war or later on in the new anti-fascist Greece they will have their national rights, acquired during the struggle against their mutual enemy, the German, Italian and Bulgarian occupier. But in practice and even during the big anti-fascist combat, in which the Macedonians participated massively, more and more they were becoming conscious that the anti-fascist forces in Greece did not have any intention of giving rights to the Macedonians.
On the contrary, they were doing everything to stop such intentions and desires of the Macedonians. In this regard, of course, most engaged were those Greek forces who fought under the shelter of the occupier. During the war armed troops of the occupier were crossing over the Macedonian villages and regions plundering, terrorizing and committing murders of the Macedonians. Such armed units from the type of Kirtsidakis, Kolaras, Poulos, Papadopoulos, Kisa Badzak, Andon Chaush, and other leaders of the collaboration PAO took great pleasure in attacking Macedonian villages which in the past showed themselves as more revolutionary and stronger in their resistance. Because of various historical circumstances came the fact that the anti-fascist forces in Greece were to throw up their weapons.
Their fate was solved with the Convention of Varkizha of February 12, 1945. Immediately after the Convention of Varkizha and the disarming of the anti-fascist forces in Greece, the situation in the country deteriorated. The Macedonians found themselves again in a very bad situation. After the Convention of Varkizha begins another pressure, terror and frightening. The murders, raping of women and girls, the plundering, burning of houses, imprisonment, violence, persecution to cross borders, and the like, became an everyday occurrence. It is enough only to have a look at the documentation issued by the Archives of Macedonia in the edition Aegean Macedonia in PLW Vol. I, II, III and IV, at the Yugoslav and International press of that time, at the very rich documentation gathered by the questionnaire commission of the United Nations, as well as, other documentation, in order to get to know the situation in which found Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia found themselves immediately after the Second World War.
The amount of people running away was increasing from day to day. It was clear that the Greek monarcho-fascist state was resolved at any rate, not taking into consideration the international protests, to liquidate the Macedonians. For illustration here we will mention a few and not very characteristic terrorist actions: On February 20, 1945, the Greek armed troops attacked the Macedonian village Volak, Drama region, where they murdered seven peasants, burnt 40 houses, plundered the village and expelled 350 peasants. The same day such an armed group attacked the Macedonian village of Cruchuligovo, Seres region, where they arrested 15 peasants, plundered the village and expelled over the border 33 families. Only from February 12 to April 12, 1945 in East Aegean Macedonia the group of Andon Chaush killed 29 Macedonian peasants, put into prison 3.100 Macedonians, plundered ten villages and persecuted over the border hundreds more Macedonians.
In Kostur region, the Macedonian villages were attacked permanently by the armed troops, whose the most applied methods were mistreating, raping and plundering. On April 6, 1945 the village of Kumanichevo was attacked. About 60 houses were plundered besides 1.000 sheep and 110 head of horses and cows. On April 23 the village of Galishla, was plundered. On April 27, the village of Aposkep. The same month were also plundered the villages of Zagorichani from which 40 peasants were put into prison and the village of Manyac were 2.000 sheep, 500 heads of horses and cows were carried away, and 22 peasants were put in jail.
From the village of Chetirok 160 houses were plundered and 15 men and three women were imprisoned. One women was killed and about 2.500 sheep were carried away together with 600 heads of horses and cows. Massive arrests, plundering, robberies, raping and individual murders through April, 1945 were in effect in all the Macedonian villages in the Kostur region, out of which mostly suffered: Izglibe, Tioloishta, B’mboki, Goson, Starichani, Ludovo, Rupishta, Semasi, Markoveni, Pesjak, Krchishta, Gorno Papratsko, Grache, Zupanishta, Smrdesh, Gabresh, D’mbeni, etc.
The same situation occurred in the Lerin, Voden, Meglen, Enidze Vardar, Kaljarsko, Kukush and other regions. Up to the end of June 1945 in the Kostur region alone there were imprisoned 800 peasants. In the Kukush region were killed 110 peasants, more than 400 imprisoned 2.500 forced across the border and more than 1.000, who ran away to Yugoslavia. For the same reasons, from Kostur and Lerin region more than 2.000 persons passed the Yugoslav border. In July alone 117 men and women were killed. The number of Macedonians from Lerin region being put into prison was twice bigger than that in the region of Kostur.
Besides this kind of terror, there was the establishement of improvised courts in order to condemn the Macedonians to capital punishment, and lifelong slavery, with the intention of frightening them more and more and to force them to go over the border. On April 25, 1945 in Thessaloniki were condemned to death 6 Macedonians and 2 for lifelong slavery. In July in Kostur were condemned to death and capital punishment 109 Macedonians. On July 18, the Greek authorities began enormous pressures upon the Macedonians in the village of Tekelievo, Thessaloniki region, to leave the village and to emigrate in Yugoslavia. On August 12, in Thessaloniki were condemned to death and shot 8 Macedonians from the Voden region. On November 17, 9 youngsters were killed above the village of Barovitsa, in the Gumendzti region, who, frightened not to be caught were hiding in the woods. Generally speaking, during 1945 the terror goes on with the same intensity. The pressure on the Macedonians to leave their houses and to emigrate to Yugoslavia was much greater. The number of sacrifices were larger.
Such a particularly difficult situation gave a rise to more protests and interventions of an international character. Even the American Slavic Committee in July, 1945, sent a cable to Truman, Stalin and Churchill, asking them to take measures and to end the terror over the Macedonians which was being applied by official Greek authorities. Also the President of the Macedonian union in the USA sent a protest letter to the Greek Ambassador in the United States with similar contents. But all this did not help to better the situation of the Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia, on the contrary, it became increasingly worse. This terror upon the Macedonians and over the Greek democratic citizens was the main reason of the Civil war in Greece.
As it is known, The Civil war in Greece lasted almost three and a half years, i.e. from the early spring of 1946 to Autumn 1949, and ended with the defeat of the democratic forces in Greece. The casualties from the Civil War were enormous. Tens of Macedonian villages were ruined, a lot of them were lost. Tens of thousands of emigrants found themselves not only in Yugoslavia, but in all other East European countries. The Greek authority troops during the persecution of the troops of DAG whose basic core consisted of Macedonians had an intention fundamentally to ruin the Macedonian villages, in order to frighten the population and to force it to run away. This was the reason why numerous Macedonian villages were entirely deserted of their Macedonian inhabitants. During the anti-fascist and Civil war in Greece, the Macedonians not only give more than 20.000 victims, thousands imprisoned and ten entirely ruined villages, but, they had been forced to leave their houses and under most difficult conditions 50.000 were forced to cross the border.
With the end of the Second World War and the Civil War in Greece ended one more phase of forced emigration for the Macedonians from Aegean Macedonia. This time they were heavily struck in those Macedonian regions which, up to a certain extent, had been a little bit protected in the previous big migration movements, such as: the Kostur, Lerin, Voden and Kaljarsko regions. The census from 1951 in comparison with that in 1940 tells us the best situation in the Kostur and Lerin regions, where the Macedonian population was most compact. According to this census the Lerin region shows 19.504, and the Kostur region 17.868 less inhabitants, i.e. both two regions in 1951 numbered 37.372 inhabitants less in comparison 1940. If we count at the same time the natural growth of population which is naturally, and if we deduct the number of the new colonists inhabited here after the Civil war, then we can freely conclude that in both regions the number of the Macedonians is reduced more than than the quoted number.
Considerable reductions of the population occurred in almost all the Macedonian regions, especially Meglen, Gumendzisko, Demir Hisar, SE Drama and other regions. It is considered that the number of the killed and refugee Macedonians for the period of 1941-1949 is over 70.000. From all the mentioned above it is clear that the Macedonians from Aegean Macedonia during the Civil war in Greece (1946-1949) underwent the largest reduction, which is almost, equal to the reduction from 1912 to 1940.
Now, we ask the question: How many Macedonians remained Aegean Macedonia after all this and immediately after the Civil War in Greece? It is not difficult to answer this question, when we know that directly before the Greco-Italian War of October 28, 1940, number of the Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia was from 300.000 to 320.000. According to it, we can conclude that in 1951 when we have the fifth in turn official statistics of Greece for Aegean Macedonia, taking into consideration the reducing of 80.000 inhabitants the period of 1940-1949, as well as, the growth of population for period, which, of course, because of the military circumstances is smaller in comparison with the previous peaceful period, in Aegean Macedonia further on remained to live more than 250.000 Macedonians. This is the already made analysis for the ethnic structure of each settlement, especially in Aegean Macedonia during the census of the population in 1951.
THE MIGRATION FROM AEGEAN MACEDONIA TO OVERSEAS COUNTRIES AFTER THE CIVIL WAR IN GREECE
We have already briefly concluded that the migration movements and repercussions on the exchange of the ethnic structure in Aegean Macedonia which took part in the period of 1912-1949, as a result of the historical events and the discrimination politics of the Greek authorities. But besides this large reduction of Macedonians for this relatively short period of four decades thousands of Macedonians remained in their places of birth under the “care” of Greek authorities. Throughout the world, minorities can and should represent a bridge between the neighboring peoples and states. Instead Greece continued with its discriminatory and assimilatory practices. Now, after the Civil War in Greece, the process of emigration of Macedonians in the overseas countries was more rapid as a result of the continuing discriminatory politics of Greek authorities over the Macedonians.
The Greek authorities by all possible means helped their migration, which this time was directed to Australia, Canada, and partly to the United States. We may divide into two periods the process of migration after the Civil War in Greece: First, from 1950 to 1961 Second, from 1962 to 1971 In the first period, i.e., from 1950 to 1961 the migration though important, is smaller to that one in the second period.
For this period according to the same indicators the biggest migration is from Lerin where from 69.391 inhabitants, as much as numbered in 1951, it is reduced by 2.035 inhabitants by 1961. In fact, the number of emigrated is larger because we are not counting the natural growth of the population, as well as the fact that in this region there was also colonization of the deserted Macedonian villages from the Civil war. For the Kostur region though the number of the inhabitants larger by 1.180 in 1961 in comparison with 1951, also the number of the emigrated Macedonians is large which could be seen from specially reduced number of inhabitants of the Macedonian villages in comparison with the former census.
The second phase of migration refers to the time from 1961-1971. In this period of time the process of migration in the overseas countries from Aegean Macedonia could be seen not only from the annuals of the Greek statistic office, but and from considerably reduced number of inhabitants in the Macedonian villages.
* * *
We have made an attempt to give only one short survey of the process of migration movements and repercussions on the exchanges of the ethnic structure in Aegean Macedonia for the period of 1912-1971. They according to their propositions and consequences belong to the most important of this kind in Europe during this period.
They were the result of political motives. Besides that and besides the deliberate reductions of Macedonians from Aegean Macedonia over the last six decades, is interesting to note that their presence is still high in the Voden, Lerin and Kostur regions. Even today it represents a majority. The further presence of over 220.000 Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia tells of the fact that it is not easy to tear up the roots of people there, where they have been living for centuries, despite all the measures of violence and denationalization that have been taken against them.
Here I will mention the fact that in the interest of every country is the politics of respecting the rights of the minorities that live there, the acknowledgment of their individuality together with the possibilities of developing freely all its national traditions and culture. It is of interest to Greece itself, as in practice and throughout history it has been proved that the denying the freedom and the national traditions of the peoples and minorities does not lead toward collaboration and closeness among peoples.
Republic of Macedonia Home Page
Here at Virtual Macedonia, we love everything about our country, Republic of Macedonia. We focus on topics relating to travel to Macedonia, Macedonian history, Macedonian Language, Macedonian Culture. Our goal is to help people learn more about the "Jewel of the Balkans- Macedonia" - See more at our About Us page.