The Role of the Periodical Macedonian Voice (1913/14)

The publication and function of the Petersburg periodical Македоский голось (Macedonian Voice), during the period 1913/14, were of the greatest national significance to the Macedonian people living outside their native country. Acting as an organ of the Macedonian colony in Petersburg, with its own entirely Macedonian problems, Macedonian Voice was an exceptionally significant manifestation of the national life and aspirations of the Macedonian people towards the beginning of this century. And just because of this fact their herald remained unknown for almost three decades to the following generations of Macedonians. In point of fact, the existence and role played by Macedonian Voice was purposely kept silent by historians of the neighboring states. This state of affairs continued until the appearance of contemporary Macedonian historical studies. A number of studies dealing with the subject matter of this periodical appeared recently and, as a result, the Institute of National History in Skopje took steps towards the republication of Macedonian Voice in a Macedonian translation, in the hope of giving the reading and scholastic public a chance to acquaint themselves with this original source of Macedonian journalism of the past.

The first issue of Macedonian Voice came out on June 22, in 1913, while the last — the eleventh appeared on December 3, 1914. It was a monthly periodical and, understandably, written in Russian. Its publisher was Dimitria D. Chupovski, one of the most distinguished national creative workers among the Macedonian population towards the end of the last century and the beginning of this century. The pages of Macedonian Voice brought to their readers articles on the political situation, historical questions which were being posed, scholastic and scientific achievements, literature, feuilletons, narratives, poems, chronicles, reviews on the Russian and foreign press, bibliographies and other informative material.

It is a fact that Macedonian Voice presented itself as an organ of the propagators of an independent Macedonia. It gathered around itself the young Macedonian intelligentsia and included not only the young people from Petersburg but also those from all around Russia. Actually, the periodical was an obvious expression of the heightened sense of political and national awareness show progressive Macedonian political forces, both within her boundaries and outside of them. The Macedonian colony in Petersburg, through this, its own herald, showed itself as a consistent protector of the current and far-reaching national interests of the Macedonian people. The publishers of Macedonian Voice were capable of separating and discriminating these interests from those of the three neighboring governing Balkan states in Macedonia. They clearly foresaw and emphasized the irreconcilable conflicts between the bearers of the liberation aspirations of the Macedonian people on the one hand, and the Balkan states’ thirst for conquest on the other. In all the official documents, articles and supplements, which it published, Macedonian Voice constantly emphasized the endeavors for an autonomous Macedonia.

In view of all this, the Petersburg periodical Macedonian Voice presented itself as guardian of all that was independently Macedonian in all of Macedonia’s national developmental processes, as well as in her entire cultural and political heritage. The Slavophilic nature of Macedonian Voice passed over into the sphere of progressive Balkan internationalism, in spite of the fact that it was burdened with numerous illusions.

The periodical Macedonian Voice for example, was a fiery supporter of the movement for federation of the Balkan peoples, towards which end, as is well known, the Balkan socialists worked most consistently. It enthusiastically greeted the formation of the new Albanian state on the Balkans and defended the Albanian people from attacks by the reactionary Russian press. Not one offensive word was ever expressed in its columns about the other neighboring Balkan peoples.

It should be particularly emphasized that the publishers of Macedonian Voice considered themselves legitimate representatives of the Macedonian people. Through numerous acts and statements, the group responsible for this periodical spoke in the name of the Macedonian people, appeared as their authorized spokesman, as an interpreter of their liberation aspirations and as defender of the national interests.

Throughout the many years of fierce fighting almost an entire revolutionary generation, whose leadership came into being with the Ilinden Uprising (1903), either fell or was squeezed out of the national liberation movement by various opportunistic and disloyal elements, mainly arising from the ranks of the middle class intelligentsia. It was in these highly unfavorable conditions that the group of people responsible for the publication of Macedonian Voice, although living in distant Russia, attempted to become the organizer of an essential resistance. It was precisely this setting which secured the group one of the foremost places in the Macedonian people’s struggle for liberation.

As a supplement to this issue of Macedonian Review we have included a number of excerpts and citations from articles, which were published in Macedonian Voice throughout its eleven issues.

The front page of all eleven issues of this periodical bears the following famous words expressed by Boris Sarafov: “We, the Macedonians, — are neither Serbs nor Bulgarians, we are simply Macedonians. The Macedonian people exist independently of the Serbian and the Bulgarian. We sympathize with each, both with the Bulgarians and with the Serbs: to those who will aid us in our struggle for freedom we will be grateful, however, let them not forget that Macedonia is only for the Macedonians…”

The first issue of this periodical brings us, among its many articles, a Memorandum of the Macedonians, dated June 7, 1913, Petersburg and signed by Dimitria D. Chupovski, Georgi A. Georgiev, Dr. G. K. Konstantinovich, Natsé D. Dimov and I. G. Georgov. It writes among other things, the following:

“In the name of natural justice, in the name of history, in the name of practical integrity, we beg you, our brothers, to acquaint yourselves with the following:

1. Macedonia is populated by a homogenous Slav population possessing its own history, its own way of life, its own statehood in former times and its own ideals. Hence, because of all this, it has a right to determine its own course.

2. Macedonia should be an independent state within its own ethnographic, geographic, historical and cultural boundaries and with its own government accountable to the national assembly.

3. The Macedonian state should be a separate, and equally represented unit of the Balkan federation within general customs limits.

4. With regard to the church in Macedonia, it is imperative for the ancient autocephalic church with its center in Ohrid to be reestablished. This church will be within the cannonic entity of all the other Orthodox churches: the Greek, Russian, Rumanian, Bulgarian, Serbian and Syrian-Arabian.

5. We need a more detailed analysis of the internal organization of the Macedonian state as soon as possible. A national representative body (a national foundation assembly), elected by public vote and gathered under the supervision of the government should meet in the city of Salonica.

Brothers, allies, liberators! We hope that our words will reach your hearts and minds and that you, following the example set by a generous Russia, in the interests of your future, will aid in the immediate establishment of an independent Macedonian state, with which act you will be preserving the common peace and harmony. The sooner this is carried out, the better it will be for all of us. This decision is derived from the realization in actual life of the great Slav-Hellenic idea present on the Balkans. The interests in culture and justice shared by the whole world also demand this of you.”

Since this Memorandum was being directed to the governments and public opinion of the allied Balkan states, the text gives a further reminder:

“Recall the fact brothers, Bulgarians, Serbs and Greeks, that you were reborn to start a new life only after fourteen bloody battles were fought between Russia and the Ottoman Empire and that you with your present feat have only repaid one part of the historical debt which you owe to your magnanimous benefactor. Recall this and follow the example of the greatness of Russia, which secured you an independent existence.

Call to mind the fact that a divided Macedonia will be among you an eternal apple of discord.”

In the following copy of Macedonian Voice (June 27, 1913), on the introductory page, an article headed To the Macedonian People was published. It begins with:

“Yesterday’s joyful allies — blood brothers, are now cruel monsters —enemies, who in their heated clashes among each other torture, beat, kill…

What is the reason for such a change?…

The reason for all these transgressive, bloody battles — it must be admitted sorrowfully, is you, our fatherland — our mother!

If the allies, our brothers, initially started off by fighting for our liberation from the Turkish yoke, as they claimed, now, after having liberated the Macedonian people, the brothers are fighting among themselves because each and every one of them wants to stretch their hand out to grab a bigger part of our only land — Macedonia.

Since they can’t decide upon a mutual agreement as to the division of our land, our property and our life, the Bulgarians, Serbs and Greeks have drawn arms against each other to settle their dispute and to submit us forever to the mercy of their rule.

People of Macedonia! Why don’t you raise your mighty voice at this crucial moment of your life?

“And the mournful, to death awakened voice of Macedonia was heard:

I am afraid, I am afraid that death will come to embrace me now. But I have lived with hope for five centuries. And now, my neighbors, my brothers, could no longer bear my cry against the hardships I was forced to endure and so, to gain their peace they came and banished the tormentor from my home. But what did I gain from that, when now as a sign of gratitude they want to take my fields and gardens, to divide up my house among themselves and to compel me into becoming their servant. Is the difference between the servant and the slave great?!”

“Macedonians! Let us be worthy of the heritage left by our forefathers; deserving of the recognition of our descendants, who on the contrary will curse us if we now become janissaries of our native land, our beloved mother — Macedonia.”

The third issue of Macedonian Voice (July 14, 1913) publishes a shorter article entitled To Those who Fell in Spirit:

“The editor’s office of Macedonian Voice received a report that in Moscow ‘as a sign of deep regret and total condemnation of the fratricidal war between the Serbs and the Bulgarians’ the society ‘Slavia’ ceased with its activities which were initially created with the purpose of uniting the Slays. In point of fact, the society is convinced that in time the idea of a united Slavic people will triumph, however at this moment when the story of Cain and his brother Abel, as told in the Bible, is being reenacted on the Balkan, the possibilities for fruitful activity on this soil will have to be expelled for a long time to come.

In this way the society Slavia ended its short existence.

What contribution did Slavia make towards common Slavic aspirations, in general, and towards the Balkan Slays in particular?

It published a number of brochures, issued ten or so manifestoes and with the completion of that, it ended its activities.

Did Slavia realize, even by taking only the war between the allies as an example, that her whole existence was not based on any holy idea for the liberation of Macedonia, but rather on the Bible story of Cain and Abel, with the land being torn apart, which even under Turkish rule remained intact.

It is obvious that Slavia couldn’t have understood the true meaning of the so-called liberation war, because if it had, the president of this society would not have sent the following cordial message to the editor’s office of Macedonian Voice upon the dissolution of Slavia:

‘Dear brothers,

If by way of propaganda which will be advantageous to the realization of an independent Macedonia, you succeed in putting an end to the fratricidal war and retaining Salonica for Slavicism — may God help you!

We thank you for your wish.

But where are you, dear brothers; why don’t you aid us in winning an independent Macedonia and thus putting an end to the fratricidal war? Why don’t you, dear brothers, raise your voice and tell the Serbs and the Bulgarians: ‘Cease your fighting for Macedonia, she will be neither Serbian nor Bulgarian, she belongs to the Macedonians.’ We are only guests in your country, but we still call, cry out: Do not torture our country! While you, our elder brothers, who were able and whose duty it was to show the Greeks, Serbs and Bulgarians exactly where they stood, wash your hands of the whole situation and say: ‘We are not to blame for the blood of the righteous…

No, that is not so, Macedonian blood falls ‘on you, the Slav social workers and on your children’

That is what we, the Macedonians, say and that is what our descendants will say.”

In its fourth issue (August, 14, 1913), Macedonian Voice published an article under the title of Our Duty, which began with the following:

“The curtain fell before our eyes and one more illusion which had elevated us was shattered.

It is now clear to everyone that the fine phrases which were being served us, such as Slav Brotherhood, a cross for the Church of Saint Sophia, liberation of the little brothers who wall under the slavery of the Barbarians etc., were only distracting tinsel, a screen with which the allied governments closely guarded their secret greed and ambitious dreams. Now the veil has lifted and uncovered the dynastic attitude towards this war in all its bared nakedness.

From the clouds and flames of the fratricidal war, the outlines of the Macedonian question, which we were in the process of forgetting, emerged again. Absorbed as we were in our concern for the Serbian, Montenegrin and Bulgarian Slays, we neglected the Macedonian Slays who are just as dear to our hearts.”

In the fifth issue of the periodical Macedonian Voice (September 5, 1913), the question: Is All Lost for Us? was the heading for one of its articles. In the answer to this question the following lines are included: “A united Macedonia no longer exists. She is, as once was Poland, divided into three parts. The lion’s share of Slavic Macedonia was allotted to the Serbs. In their hands now lie Bitola, the ancient patriarchal town of Ohrid, Shtip, Skopje, Debar and others.

Is that the worst fate, which could have befallen Macedonia considering all the hardships she has managed to survive — we ask ourselves? After careful consideration we are duty-bound to answer: no, it could have been worse. Solidarity, cultural activity, less words and more deeds and we would have won our own. If all of Macedonia had fallen into the hands of the Bulgarians, our cause would have been lost forever. With the rapid development of the national chauvinistic propaganda in Macedonia (for which we have to thank the schools and churches which were under the control of the Bulgarian Exarchate of Constantinople), the chances of a group of future defenders of the ideals of an independent development of the land to succeed in their fight for this cause would be pretty slim. They would not have had the strength to fight and would have sunk in the Bulgarian sea…

The Macedonian people, who for more than five centuries struggled with all their might against the life of slavery imposed on them by the Turks, will know how to survive in the cultural conditions for which it can be said that they are not totally unfavorable. The creation of an independent hearth in a part of Macedonia (at least, that is to say, in the Serbian section) will help to make the fight for freedom less difficult for the remaining two sections.

And so, whatever the future may bring in the meantime, we Macedonians will not falter in spirit! Perseverance, toil and battle! As for us, we who live outside Macedonia, especially those of us scattered throughout different parts of Russia, it is our duty to give forth a lively, cheerful echo in support of our brothers in the far south who are waging a desperate battle for the rebirth of the fatherland.”

The sixth issue of Macedonian Voice (October 6, 1913), brings to its readers a letter from Salonica written by a Macedonian and signed with the initials G. Hr. It contains the following:

“As I write this letter I lie wounded after an unexpected night-raid on my home by Greek soldiers and police, led by officers. I do not know whether this letter will reach your hands. I was born in the town of Kostur (today known as Kastoria in Greek, my note). Just by chance I happened to notice a copy of Macedonian Voice at one of my friend’s places. We wholeheartedly salute your edition, which informs the noble Russian people of the terrible and inhuman plight, which has befallen the Macedonian people. Our liberators, the Orthodox Greeks, have surpassed in violence our former, to us foreign in origin and religion, rulers — the Turks. The learned and cultured Greeks compete against each other in their brutal attacks on their defenseless prey; they are unmercifully wiping out the male population…

The beginning of the article titled Let Us Set Out Towards the Slavic Victory, which was published in the tenth issue of the periodical Macedonian Voice (August 13, 1914) has the following content:

“Macedonians! For five whole centuries we bore the Turkish slavery imposed upon us. For five whole centuries we unceasingly surrendered our lives and submitted ourselves to great sacrifices so that in the end we could gain our freedom. Unique, undivided and independent. That is what Macedonia was and that is what our banner, before which we swore to either win or die, now bears as its symbol. And all our Slavic brothers who unhypocritically wished and still wish to help us in our fight for freedom received and continue to receive the heartfelt acknowledgement and gratitude of the Macedonian people.

Not so very long ago, the liberation of Macedonia was declared by the manifestoes of the Bulgarian and Serbian kings; two western Slavic peoples had espoused our cause. Viewing the situation from their angle, in particular with regard to the fact that they themselves had been aided in their liberation wars by Russia, their engagement with the Macedonian problem is regarded by many, among which number we count ourselves, as a payment of the brotherly debt and as a natural obligation to continue Russia’s liberation effort on the Balkans. Finally, in gratitude for the noble Russian blood which was shed for them they are expected to repay in kind for the liberation of the only remaining Slavic land still in the hands of the Turks — Macedonia.

However, all those who believed this to be so were deceived. The Second Balkan War, which with its corpses covered and with its flames embraced the Macedonian fields, and which ended with the declaration of peace in Bucharest and the division of our fatherland into three parts, revealed the true reason why the Balkan allies started the war against the allies. There was nothing brotherly about their involvement. And so before us Macedonians there appeared once more, in all its stark~ reality, the necessity to fight for our ideals to the very end so that we can win not only our independence and freedom, but our intactness, the restoration of a destroyed entity. This battle was up until this moment our holy, immediate task, the reason for our existence as an independent Slavic race, which appeared on the Balkan Peninsula earlier than any other and which carried its national self-awareness throughout the centuries of oppressive slavery.

And now, coming as a complete surprise to a considerable number of people, we find ourselves face to face with the long awaited, and according to its scope, impressive war between all of Slavicism and the aggressor, Germanism.

A European war such as has never before been noted in the chronicles of world history is now unfolding. The more developed countries such as France, England and Belgium, later joined by other countries among which was Italy, which had declared its determined decision to refrain from becoming an ally to the Germans, appear as opponents of the tyranny imposed upon Europe by Austrian and German militarism.

And we, Macedonians, must comprehend the crucial meaning of this present historical moment and agree that now before us, the oldest Slavic race, from whose womb were born the first Slav teachers SS. Cyril and Methodius and the initial beginnings of our culture, stands the task of starting out towards the ultimate goal which is shared by all of Slavism and towards which we must unswervingly Strive, joining with the others in the great war against the teutonic enemy, justifying the expectations of a great Russia and believing in the fact that Slavism will stand up to the severe test in harmonious comradeship with her.

Let us remind ourselves, Macedonians, that our fathers and grandfathers have always been fighters, not only for the Macedonian cause but also for the general Slavic cause.”

In the same issue and upon the same occasion — the beginning of the First World War, Macedonian Voice published a letter written by a former Macedonian combatant, under the title: For a Free Macedonia. Here we bring you the complete content:

“For a free Macedonia fell the following heroes in the struggles against the Turks; Gotsé Delchev, Dame Gruev, and Peré Toshev.

For a free Macedonia, the courageous Sons of Macedonia were giving up their lives in Diarbekir, Edi-Kulé and the other Macedonian and Asian prisons.

For a free Macedonia, the pupils of the Bitola High School were dying on the inaccessible crags of Mount Pelister.

For a free Macedonia, all our people rose up as one in the year 1903.

In the name of the forthcoming free Macedonia, the Duke of the city of Lerin, Alexander, upon the direction of the Turks, placed the noose around his neck in the city of Bitola.

In order to win Macedonia her freedom, the rebels fought like lions in the battle against the Turks.

Macedonia’s freedom was also the foremost goal of the Balkan allies when they started the war in 1912; however, the intrigues created by the enemies of Slavism prevented them from carrying out this aim to the very end.

With the slogan A Free Macedonia before them, the sons of Macedonia, who have known great suffering, will join the ranks of their brother Slays under the leadership of a great Russia in the war against the everlasting enemies of the Slays — Austria and Germany. They will live in hope of a Russian and Slavic victory which will ensure Macedonia recognition of her right to an independent existence.”

In its last issue, the periodical Macedonian Voice (November 20, 1914) published among its many appeals, manifestoes and declarations, the article under the heading A Fight for Autonomy that was written by the distinguished Macedonian creative worker K. Misirkov, who concerned himself with the national and cultural features of Macedonia. In this article he writes under the pseudonym of K. Peljski. We bring you the closing lines of this article:

“Undoubtedly, the question arises: What will the future hold? There is only one answer: history will repeat itself once more. Macedonia endured the five hundred years of slavery forced upon her by the Turks who in the end had to admit defeat. The same fate will befall her present rulers — they too will lose Macedonia, they will not succeed in their endeavor to keep for themselves the land they have stolen. In our present day and age it is even more difficult to retain that which has been gained by means of force and with flagrant disregard for either law or justice.

Not one Serbo-Greek, nor Serbo-Greco-Rumanian, nor Bulgaro-Turkish pact will succeed in securing the enslavement of our fatherland.

Macedonia will be an independent and complete entity. We, the Macedonians, guarantee this. Our worth is not well known, but that will not prevent us from claiming victory for our just cause, in so much as it does not come into conflict with anyone else’s interests and is entirely in accord with the liberation tasks which Russia, England and France have set themselves. With regard to the Balkan countries, we beg of them to refrain from hindering us in our fight for independence and to show us the same kind of hospitality and aid which Russia showed to the Bulgarians, Serbs and Greeks up until their liberation. We also beg them for their full support of the idea of an autonomous Macedonia.

Now the Macedonian issue will be easier to solve than it was before the most recent of the Balkan Wars. Our hope is turned towards the more powerful countries of the world, who, without the shedding of any blood, can create an autonomous Macedonia, who viewed from the aspect of her culture, towers over the other Balkan states which surrounded her a hundred years ago, at which time they themselves had just gained independence.

The autonomy of Macedonia will prove to be the most logical solution to the Macedonian issue for all parties concerned — the Macedonians, Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria, as well as for the restoration of peace in Europe.”

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