Friday, June 5, 2020

The Web and the Harpoon The “People’s Republic of Krushevo”   By Marcus Alexander Templar

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This paper focuses only on the revolt of July 20, 1903 (old style) or August 2, 1903 (new style) in the town of Krushevo as implemented by the original left wing of the IMRO also known as Ilinden or the Day of St. Elijah. Any other information offered in this paper is pertinent only for the reader’s understanding of the stage set before the revolt. It is not a paper regarding the organization of the IMRO or its history nor is it about the events outside the surrounding areas of the town of Krushevo.

Some of the real names of people involved might be different from those in this paper. The difference lies on the sources involved and their understanding of the persons’ genealogy. For instance, Kirov-Majski presents the name of Dimitri Gulis as Pitu Gulyev. He does not specify his ethnicity. Ditsias presents him as a Vlach speaking Greek whereas other sources considers him a Romanian inclined Vlach. While Distias offers a close view of the events, Naltsas is more distant describing the events in Macedonia from the general point of view. Ballas is as detailed as Dimtsias.

Kirov-Majski, Ballas, Naltsas, Ditsias, Kavangelis, and the letter of the Greek Consul General in Monastiri have the main population of Krushevo as Greek. Some of them clarify them as Vlach-speaking Greeks and some just Greeks. So, I have decided to sometimes refer to them as Greeks or as Vlach-speaking Greeks (Kirov-Majski 1935, 19). Ballas speaks of Greco-vlach dialect of the Krushevo Greeks (Ballas 1962, 34).

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Background Information


The “Grandfather” of the Socialist movement in Bulgaria was Dimitar Blagoev Nikolov. Blagoev was born on June 14, 1856 in the town of Zagorichani of the Ottoman Empire, present day Vasiliada, Kastoria Prefecture of the region of Macedonia, Greece where he received his elementary education. His father was Vangel Minasov, a poor peasant who went to Constantinople as a migrant worker (Bell, 1986).

In 1868, Georgi “Dinka” Konstantinov, a Bulgarian communist who had recently studied in Russia, took the position of the village teacher in Zagorichani where he planted more than the “first seeds of human consciousness” in the hearts of his young pupils. He transplanted the roots of communism. He was the one who introduced Blagoev to revolutionary and socialist ideas (K. N. Derzhavin 1962, 71-72. 27, 71; compare D. Daskalov 1971, 2, 98-106; G. Bakalov 1960), 363-92; Pundeff Sep. 1971, 523-550; 532).

For his revolutionary activities, Konstantinov was expelled from the village two years later, in 1870. According to Blagoev’s memoirs, Bulgarian propagandists influenced him in the idea of the Bulgarian National Revival (part of the Slavic Awakening) (D. Blagoev 1926, 1). By the age of 27, Blagoev was a full-fledged communist.

On October 23, 1893 in the city of Thessaloniki (presently the capital of the Greek Macedonia), Damian Gruev, Goce Delcev, Ivan Hadzhinikolov, Petar Poparsov, Andon Dimitrov, and Hristo Batandzhiev founded the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople (Thrace). Revolutionary Organization (IMRO, VMRO in Bulgarian). Goce Delcev, a communist, was the ideologue and the organizer of the IMRO. He was a great opponent of the implants of the Bulgarian government in the IMRO. He was a member of the Central Committee of the IMRO from its foundations to his death (Koliševski 1980, 227).

The year 1885 was beneficial for Bulgaria since, in September by unifying with Eastern Rumelia, the principality more than doubled its size. Now, the next step in the Bulgarian agenda was to achieve the final step to its national unification with Macedonia. It would try to do the same with Macedonia as it did with Eastern Rumelia. Various groups were formed having in just that in mind. As expected, Blagoev mingled among his compatriots who grouped together in an organization called “Macedonian Voice” (Makedonskii glas) and published a newspaper under the same name advocating the liberation of their homeland at the first opportunity.

Given the opportunity, Blagoev published his first article in Bulgaria, “The Balkan Federation and Macedonia,” written in a panegyric atmosphere of 1885 before the events of the Eastern Rumelia’s unification with the principality. He suggested in very diplomatically that besides the unification of Macedonia to Bulgaria, a Balkan federation could be a more pragmatic solution, since the alternative could be a choice between cooperation versus struggle. There were already calls for such an alternative by Karavelov, Levski, and Botev. Echoing Karavelov, Blagoev felt that only a Balkan federation could protect the Balkan

“mini-states” from the imperialism of the great powers, including Russia, and could provide the collective resources needed for their economic development. (Pundeff Sep. 1971, 523-550; 534-5; Blagoev 1985, 1:46-54). Blagoev felt that the “salvation of the Macedonians and the Balkan nations was in the creation of a regional federation for common defense and development” (Pundeff, Sep. 1971, 523-550; 535).

The original idea of a Balkan Federation came from Rhigas Pheraios who started developing it in 1788, but that idea had included the whole Balkan region. Blagoev wanted to implement it with the twist of a communist state that would include only the Macedonian parts of his time. Blagoev believed that the inhabitants of Macedonia should be free to choose the language, religion, and nationality they preferred, and neither Greece nor Serbia nor Bulgaria could profit from an internecine struggle over Macedonia, especially one between the two Slavic nations. “Peoples of the Balkan peninsula,” Blagoev exhorted in Marxist fashion, “unite before it is too late!” (Blagoev 1985, 1:46-54; Pundeff Sep. 1971, 523-550; 535).

Finally, in March 1903, the Communist Party separated into two groups. The one that interpreted Marxism in a liberal manner was called the “Broad Socialists” or simply the “Broads” [Широки социалисти] under the leadership of Yanko Sakuzov. The group whose interpretation of Marxism was more strictly known as the “Bulgarian Social Democratic Workers’ Party (Narrow Socialists)” [Тежки социалисти] or simply the “Narrows” under the leadership of the former schoolmaster, Dimitar Blagoev (Vettes, Vol. 19, No. 4, Dec. 1960, 521-530, 521). A similar schism occurred a few months later within the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party between Julius Martov’s Mensheviks or Minority and Vladimir Lenin’s Bolsheviks or Majority. Blagoev’s personality and understanding of Marxism matched Lenin’s while the Bulgarian Narrows became the twin brother of the Russian Bolsheviks (Vettes, Vol. 19, No. 4, Dec. 1960, 521-530, 526).

In the Spring of 1918, Blagoev proposed to change the name of the party to Communist, something that took place on May 25, 1919 a few days after the establishment in Moscow of the Third Communist International Association, aka Comintern on March 2-6, 1919. More specifically, on March 4, 1919, thirty-five delegates voted, with one abstention, to constitute the Third or Communist International Association, aka Comintern. Of the thirty-six present, only the five Russian delegates (Bukharin, Chicherin, Lenin, Trotsky, and Zinoviev) had experience in both mass organization and revolutionary activism. (Hallas 2008, 10).

The name komitacı (komitadji) is the derivative of the Ottoman Turkish or Osmanlıca word komita or committee and denotes the member of a committee. They were also called sandrailists, which derives also from the Osmanlıca word santral for central. Both words apply to the way their movement was working on staging “central committees”, a feature that constituted and promoted the manner in which the communist parties worked. In Ottoman and Modern Turkish, terminations –ci (çi, cı, çı) denotes profession, and terminations li or lı denote belonging to a place or an institution (Geoffrey Lewis 2000, 11; 57: §6c).


Demographics of Krushevo


At the time of Krushevo’s prosperity, its population was about 18,000 souls. In 1870, the year of the Exarchist schism the population declined to 16,000 (Ballas 1962, 20). In 1903, Krushevo had 12,000 inhabitants, of whom 1,000 were Slavs, 360 Romanian inclined Vlachs, 10,640 Vlach speaking Greeks (Ditsias 1905, 9). In 1905, after most people left the town after the catastrophic revolt, Krushevo had 8,932 inhabitants. Of them, the 5,395 were Greeks, 2,669 Bulgarian Exarchists, 650 Rumanian inclined, 218 Serbs/Slavophones (Ballas 1962, 20).

Settlements to the area that later became known as the town of Krushevo started in 1769 and lasted a little longer than 1779. The settlers came to Krushevo from such areas as the present day Greek region of Macedonia and Epirus, and even the present day Albania. They came to Krushevo for some very good reasons. The first settlement came about as a result of great raid the Yörük or Yürük Turks that took place toward the end of 18th century. The second wave during the administration of the infamous Ali Pasha of Ioannina. The rest of the waves took place because of other reasons. The main populations came from Naoussa, Monastiri, Tyrnavon, Megarovon, Vaskopolis, etc. (Ballas 1962, 18).

The first families came to Krushevo from Nikolitsa near Korytsa (Korce). These families found in Krushevo the only Bulgarophone family and one church made from reeds (Ballas 1962, 18). After these families from Nikolitsa came families from Lantopion, Grammosta, which is located on the Voion Mountain. The ones from Grammosta were Vlach speaking Greeks and came to Krushevo in two waves. The latter were flock herders nomads moving to warm areas during the winter and cooler areas during the summer (Ballas 1962, 19).

Another group that reached Krushevo were the Arvanites, Tosk speaking Greeks from Βυθικούκιον (present day Vithkuq, near Korce) led by their priest Fr. Eustathios and Opara led by their priest Fr. Yannakis. Their migration took place shortly after the migration of those from Nikolitsa. Because of their complete assimilation with local Greek population, a few families of the Arvanites used their language even at home by 1906 (Ballas 1962 19; Ditsias 1905, 10; Kirov-Majski 1935, 18-19).

The town was divided into 12 neighborhoods located in a semicircle manner from northeast to Southeast as follows: Neighborhoods of Struga, Haztibusia, Salana, Yenikklise, Arnaut, Kole Naltse, Meziltzi, Kuri, Ostriltsa, Kupri, Birina, Monastiri (Ballas 1962, 22). The Bulgarians inhabited the highest hill at the western part of the town (Ditsias 1905, 10).






The Organization of Terror


The IMRO was established in Thessaloniki in 1893 as a product of successive events that gave individuals the opportunity to organize themselves against the Ottomans hoping that they could persuade Christian governments to assist them in their plight against Ottoman rule. The Committee counted on the eagerness of most of the inhabitants of Macedonia, regardless of ethnicity, faith gender, and social status, to throw off the tyranny of the Sultan. Simultaneously, the Committee hoped the events would give Christian governments the opportunity to assist the founding members of the Committee assuming that the European governments would be naïve idealists and work for them. In their effort to influence IMRO, some governments assisted the members of IMRO with cash and weapons.

Others, such as Serbia, and especially Bulgaria, infiltrated the IMRO and tried to impose its expansionist agenda. In 1902, Lt. Boris Sarafov of the Bulgarian Army and a few others joined the IMRO for that purpose. Thus, Bulgaria had hoped to encroach on the areas that the Treaty of San Stefano awarded her, but that the Council of Berlin took away. On the other hand, the IMRO revolutionaries intended to establish a Balkan state as Bakunin (Bakuninists) that Lenin had envisioned during the last years of the 1900 century. IMRO’s original organization was based on the Carbonari Society of Italy.

Misirkov described the leadership of the revolutionaries as “intellectuals … seeking and have found, another way of fighting, i.e. independent Macedonian [sic] scientific way of thinking and a Macedonian [sic] national consciousness”. However, he included himself in with those intellectuals (Misirkov 1974, 225-226). The phrase “scientific way of thinking” is a communist expression.


The Revolt in Krushevo


The final decision on which path the IMRO should take was conceived at the IMRO’s very First Socialist Conference of the Bulgarians in Macedonia, which took place in Krushevo on March 3, 1900 according to Lazar Koliševski and according to Nikola Kirov-Majski on March 3, 1901 (Lazar Kolishevski 1980, 22; Nikola Kirov-Majski, 1935, 17).

One of the outcomes of the Conference was that the participants would organize the IMRO as a larger and more visible group departing from the original Carbonari style of organization (groups of four to six members). Because of the modification, the IMRO adopted the system of local representation in district committees and municipal committees so that they could freely disseminate socialist literature and popularize socialist ideas in the towns and countryside. Such participation in the local governments resembled Lyuben Karavelov’s plan that succeeded in the incorporation of Eastern Rumelia to Bulgaria.

It must be noted that the president of the ephemeral Republic of Krushevo, Nikola Karev, was a well-known member of the Bulgarian Workers’ Social Democratic Party, i.e. Communist Party, as was Goce Delcev (Gotse Delchev) and his closest collaborators. They all assumed leading positions in the IMRO local committees. Acting as voivodes and secretaries of units, i.e. political commissars, they disseminated socialist ideas and infused socialist consciousness into the membership (Kolishevski 1980, 12; Keith Brown 2003, 190, 209; George W. Gawrych 22, 3, Jul., 1986, 307-330; 308).

Nikola Karev, president of the republic, during the fighting “held a gun in one hand and Marx’s and Engels’s Communist Manifesto in the other” in opposition to Bulgaria’s wish, which, in the event of the success of the uprising, wanted Macedonia to be annexed to Bulgaria (Kolishevski 1980, 12).

The leadership of the IMRO had decided to get rid of members of the Supremists such as Lozanchev, Garvanov, and Sarafov, the most flexible tools of Prince Ferdinard, whom the IMRO considered imperialistic. Therefore, Panitsa, acting on Sandanski’s orders, killed them in December 1907. Sandanski, a follower of Plekhanov, was murdered in April 1915. For many years to come, the two sides assassinated each other’s members. Although in name the organization was one, in reality there were two organizations using the same name.

Communist ideas were adopted in the political platform of the IMRO, in hope that the IMRO would eventually become a revolutionary organization of the masses rallying all the revolutionary forces of people in the period prior to the St. Elias’ day revolt. Goce Delcev, founder and ideologue of the movement, warned, “The liberation of Macedonia is possible only through an armed insurrection, he who thinks otherwise lies to himself and to others. Let organize the masses” (Joseph Rothschild 1959, 170n).

Based on that suggestion, the leadership decided to organize a movement of the landless tenant masses and agricultural laborers in the quest of land. The IMRO, as a government now would proceed toward the expropriation of land from feudal landowners and its distribution without compensation. Thus, they devised a plan under which guerrillas would be forcing the residents to the mountains hoping that they could create the impression of a broad movement supported by all genders, social classes, and ethnicities. In their view, this is how the peasant masses would have accepted the IMRO as their organization and become the strongest base of support for the national revolutionary movement. Because of its internationalist ideas, the socialist IMRO would strive persistently for brotherhood between the artificial majority, i.e. Bulgarians in Macedonia and the perceived minorities, sharply denouncing any sign of chauvinism or religious hatred, which were instigated by the Turkish rulers and the other Balkan imperialists.

The revolutionaries never issued a proclamation or manifesto as the government of Skopje claims.   It would be humanly impossible for anyone to remember the long manifesto in its details. The proclamation or manifesto we have today is the result of a theatrical play that took place 20 years after the actual revolt. In 1923, Nikola Kirov-Majski published a theatrical play entitled Ilinden. In the second act, second scene of the play, the character of the teacher reads the manifesto to the character of Nikola Karev, the President of the Krushevo Republic. Karev, tells the teacher to translate it into Turkish and disseminate it to the Turkish villages around Krushevo (Kirov-Majski 1923). The manifesto that was promoted in the play as a declaration of independence is filled with socialist parlance of “eternal friendship” and “brotherly love”. Such language complied with the time and place of the theatrical play, which took place at the beginning of the negotiations between the left wing of the IMRO and the Comintern and the May Manifesto of the left wing of IMRO.

As the first step toward negotiations with Comintern, in Vienna on May 6, 1924 the left wing of the IMRO issued the document known as the May Manifesto. In it the IMRO chastised the imperialists and reactionaries of the Balkan Peninsula. The negotiations led to the establishment of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization –United (IMRO-U).

The so-called Manifesto of Krushevo does not have much to do with the facts on the ground since the true proclamation was a simple letter containing a series of intimidating statements to those villages which would facilitate the deployment of the Ottoman Army and support it in any way. For 10 days after the initial takeover of the town of Krushevo, which was planned and executed in a military fashion with clear political objectives, Bulgarian communists under the leadership of the Bulgarian Workers’ Social Democratic Party governed the town in a reign of terror.


The Preparation of the Operation


The revolutionaries were effectively trained and well organized not just militarily, but politically as well. It was decided that the location of the revolt would be the town of Krushevo and its surrounding villages on July 20, 1903.

In 1903, demographically, the number of households in the town of Krushevo by ethnicity were: Vlach speaking Greeks 1550 and Bulgarian 1300 (Kirov-Majski 1935, 18-19). Ballas adds a few Romanian-inclined Vlachs and Serbs (Ballas 1962, 20).

The Vlach speaking Greeks of Krushevo knew that something was going to happen because the Bulgarians were moving their families out of town. In some cases, the Bulgarian komitadjis had sealed the Bulgarian section of the town in a way that the incoming Ottoman troops would perceive that the Bulgarian population did not participate in that “unjust” revolt against the Sultan.

At that point, the number of revolutionary participants were 750 fighters armed with rifles such as Russian “Kapaklı”, “Berdan”, “Martin”, Greek “Gras Mle 1874” or Grades (Γκράδες), and about 20 Mauser and Mannlicher-Schonaeur rifles. The λησταντάρται had bought the rifles type “gras” from Greece under false pretenses and Greek drovers[1] brought them to the region (Ballas 1962, 40). The fighters were divided into eight units, most of them of company strength and a couple of units of platoon strength depending on the nature of their Mission Essential Task List (METL). For this paper, I will refer to the units as detachments.

The heads of the detachments were chieftains (voivode, ὁπλαρχηγοί). According to the Operations Plan, each detachment had its own METL:


  1. The First Detachment under Andreya Dimov Dokurčev (nicknamed Osman Begovič had as his deputy commander Kosta Popeto) would enter the town and take over the building of the Ottoman government, the town hall, the building of the Post/Telephone/Telegraph (PTT), and the building of Tax Collection.
  2. The Second Detachment under Ivan Naumov (nicknamed Alyabaka) would enter the city and take over the military barracks.
  3. The Third Detachment under Dimitrios Goulis (had as his Deputy Commander Blaže Krŭstev) would protect the town from the Ostrilečski Pass and the roads from Birino and Trastenik.
  4. The Fourth Detachment under Marko Hristov (Mirče) would protect the town from the northeastern side as encamped in the areas Lipa, Spulut and Kale.
  5. The Fifth Detachment under Tašku Karev was to protect the pass “Koyova thorn”.
  6. The Sixth Detachment under Riste Tasev Tsŭrniya was to protect the pass at Pavleva fountain.
  7. The Seventh Detachment under Kosta Hristov was to protect the pass Miratova fountain at “Naked ore”.
  8. The Eighth Detachment under Gyurčin Naumov Plyakot was to protect the road Deni-kamen between the pass Sliva and Buševa Fountain.


Once the fighters had secured the town and its surrounding areas, the Provisional Government would proceed in taxing the citizens with a temporary levy. Simultaneously, they had as their goal to requisition food for the insurgents and the population of the town and the suburbs, requisition material for clothing and sandals for insurgents and militarized citizens and as well as material for their gear. While they had planned for the care of the wounded and sick insurgents, citizens and peasants, they would carry on the maintenance of the law and order affording peace in the conquered region while concurrently they would punish any uncooperative citizens. The chief provision of the plan was that the Bulgarian sector not to be touched.

This was the “Provisional Government” of the “free city”:


President of the Republic                                           > Nikola Karev

Chairman and Chief of Justice Department                > Dinu Vangel

Secretary and Chief of Requisition Department        > Georgi Čače

Treasurer and Chief of Department of Finance          > Teohar Neškov

Mayor and Chief of Police                                         > Hristo P. Kyurkčiev

Chief of Head of Food and production                       > Dimitŭr Sekulov

Chief of Health Department                                       > Nikola Balyu


The Provisional Government relied on the help of members of the local Committee (Krushevo) Grigor D. Božinov and Todor Pavlov, the assistance of the merchant Georče Trankov and other members. (Kirov-Majski 1935, 28-35; 48-50). The same day the revolutionary court passed the death sentence on five “traitors” – one Bulgarian and four Greeks.

In the late afternoon and early evening of Sunday, St. Elijah Day of Configuration (July 20/August 2, 1903) and during the banquets that followed, eight simultaneous weddings in the Greek community of Krushevo people enjoyed themselves eating, drinking and some of them were shooting in the air. While people enjoyed the day they started to realize that the shots they heard were not the result of celebration for the weddings, but something else was has happening; the brightness and noise of explosions meant something more than just celebrating. Explosions on the roofs of houses and blazes brightened the sky as people tried to extinguish the fire. Members of the Committee of the IMRO had staged a revolt against the Ottomans.

The bells of the town’s three churches rang as Turkish resistance was mopped up, and at daybreak, only 60 Turkish troops still offered resistance, surrounded in the barracks. Government institutions were taken over and the people of the Bulgarian side of the town were in a mood of exultation. But not in the Greek nor the Ottoman areas where people were taken out of their houses and executed in cold blood, women raped and properties looted and burned.

The wrath of the komitadjis was directed toward Greeks and Turks regardless of gender or age. It seems that a few of the komitadjis were Greeks, as well. Ditsias presents the conversation that he had with Dimitri Guli in Greek to whom among other things, he said:


Mr. Guli, although you have been aberrant and have been waif of the will of the Bulgarian faction, which threatens your fatherland, I cannot call you Bulgarian because you are Orthodox and Greek to your bone marrow. Turn your eyes, Mr. Guli, and look at the abyss that rests before the feet of the Greek community (Ditsias 1905, 45).


On July 22, 1903, the commander socialist and school teacher Nikola Karev led his staffers from the neighboring hills into the town and held a meeting with about 60 notable members of the town representing the three ethnic groups. They elected a commission of six members, two from each ethnic group – Bulgarians, Greeks and Romanian inclined Vlachs- who in turn formed the new administration of the town. The Serbs were not represented, not because of their numbers, but because the Bulgarians could not consider the other Slavophones as foreigners (Ballas 1962, 42).

In the meantime, on the July 23, an Ottoman regular unit along with a band of başıbozuk unsuccessfully attempted to recapture Krushevo.

According to Kirov-Majski, on July 24, 1903, Taško P. Hristov, a Bulgarian parliamentarian, took the original document to the Turkish village of Adalçı and handed it to a child with the directive to give it to Sinan, the mayor of the town. Hristov waited three full hours for the answer. The letter was in fact an ultimatum and not a proclamation of any type.

As soon as Sinan read the letter, he called the local hodja who did what he was told to do. From the minaret of the mosque, the hodja called together the entire male population of the village, which had 40 households, and made the terms of the ultimatum known to them. (Kirov-Majski 1935, 56). From there, Sinan sent the ultimatum to the Turkish villages of Lažani (180 households) and Debrište (250 households) which returned their response to Sinan.[2] Sinan fully cooperated with Karev’s instructions.

The letter-ultimatum served a dual purpose: first, to make clear the purpose of the revolt, and second, to serve as a warning to the Turkish population that any collaboration with the Ottoman Army would be punishable by death. (Kirov-Majski 1935, 56 – 57). Under the threatening conditions set by the Bulgarian brigands, all three villages agreed not to assist the Ottoman troops if and when they would arrive (Kirov-Majski 1935, 57). Concerning the events of the revolt, the Bulgarian komitadjis killed innocent Vlach speaking Greeks, burned and pillaged only houses belonging to Vlach Greeks and in general destroyed only Vlach Greek properties (Naltsas 1958, 18-22).

The revolutionary Bulgarian Komitadjis, besides raping, killing, and maiming people, destroyed and burned a lot of households, shops, and government buildings. The Bulgarian Komitadjis had any Ottoman employee, soldier, and policeman captured and executed. The Ottoman army that followed the Bulgarian revolutionaries finished whatever the Bulgarians did not have time to do.

The toll of destruction inflicted by the Bulgarian revolutionaries and the incoming Ottoman Army was 366 houses and 203 shops, all belonging to Vlach speaking Greeks. (Kirov-Majski 1935, passim). In total, 46 innocent Greek- civilians were murdered with many more missing. Some were murdered outside the town as they tried to escape and others less fortunate were buried alive by their captors. The names of the victims are enumerated in the Greek Consul’s dispatch. Kirov-Majski collaborates the names of the victims (Kirov-Majski 1935, 87-88). Those victims who were killed because of financial depletion had their money first stolen by the bandits and then killed or the money they could give to the bandits was not enough to save their lives.

Hilmi Pasha, the governor of the Rumeli Elayet (governorate) dispatched Bahtıyar Pasha with an army of nine Infantry Battalions, three Cavalry Companies, 18 artillery pieces (four mountain and 14 field artillery guns) under the command of Bakhtiar Pasha in order to crush the revolt of the Bulgarians.

The indiscriminate bombardment started immediately with dire consequences for the Greek population. In fact, they looted and burned the households of Greeks that the Bulgarians did not have a chance to burn and killed innocent civilians,[3] Over and above the regular forces, the başıbozuk,[4] an irregular force, the Grey Wolves of the time, came to Krushevo in order to aid the ungodly work of the Bulgarians and the Ottoman Army. (Naltsas 1958, 55; Greek Consul Dispatch 1903/ No 604).

When Bahtıyar Pasha reckoned that the threat was in fact a few imported bandits and not the Greek inhabitants of the village he sent troops who trapped the revolutionary socialists on to the point of Mechkin Kamen, a few kilomenters from Krushevo. Three days later the battle was over. Bahtıyar Pasha took no prisoners. He did dishonor, humiliate and execute citizens who in his opinion were collaborators of the bandits.

The Vlach speaking Greeks of Krushevo had constituted a thriving community whose culture was of essence in the whole region. During a symposium on Krushevo that took place in Ohrid on May 27, 28 and 29, 1968, on the 65-year anniversary of the Ilinden Revolt, Mihailo Apostoloski published a book entitled “Ilinden 1903”. Apostoloski offers a folklore song commemorating Krushevo’s battle.


Оган гори во Крушово                                Fire burns in Krushevo,

Во Крушово – грчка мала                             In Krushevo, small Greece,

Зад Крушово Мечкин камен                       Behind Krushevo’s Bear Rock

Бој се бие Питу Гули                                    Pitu Guli and 6,000 young men

Со момчиња шест иљади                             threw themselves to combat.

(Apostolski 1970, 599).



In an effort to erase the past and “Macedonize” everything, the above song has now been modified to:


Во Крушево оган гори,

во Крушево густа магла,
Мечкин Камен крв се лее.
там’ се бијат три војводи,

турска војска три илјади.
Прв војвода Даме Груев,

втор војвода Питу Гули,

а третиот Алебаков.

Fire burns in Krushevo

In Krushevo, thick fog

blood flows in Mechkin Kamen.

Τhree chieftains fought there,

A Turkish army of three thousand.

The first chieftain, Dame Gruev,

The second chieftain, Pitu Guli,

and the third chieftain, Alebakov.


“In that summer of 1903, a total of 22 villages were completely destroyed and many more suffered serious damage, leaving 40,000 people homeless. The bulk of the damage was to the Greek and Vlach-speaking Greek communities in the areas around Florina, Monastir and Kastoria” (Gounaris, n.d.).




Despite the fact that the vast majority of the victims (and their properties) were Vlach speaking Greeks (Ballas 1962, 37-66; Naltsas 1958, 18-22; Greek Consul Dispatch 1903/ No 604), the FYROM historiography has re-baptized the victims as Rumanian Vlachs, Albanians, and “Macedonians” (Brown 2003, 17, 79, 81-82, 96, 225). Somehow, these historiographers identify the victims with the Bulgarian villains as being the victims of the Ottoman Army.. That is not true. By all accounts outside the FYROM Slavs, the victims were Vlach speaking Greeks and the villains were both Bulgarian communists and Ottoman Turks.

Looking at the names of the honorees in the “Makedonium” of the FYROM, one cannot but conclude that the government of the FYROM honors the Bulgarian communist bandits, thugs, and criminal elements ignoring the true victims, the Greek civilians who paid with their lives, limb and properties. Even if some of the citizens of Krushevo were victims of the Ottoman Army, the real perpetrators of the crimes were the Bulgarians whose actions invited the wrath of Hilmi Pasha at the expense of the Vlach speaking Greek population.[5]

That the “Macedonians” as an ethnic group did not exist until January 11, 1934 is not a matter of propaganda by the Serbs, Bulgarians or Greeks as Skopje claims. The Great Powers were very cognizant of the fact and it is why Rostkovski, the Russian Consul in Monastiri (Bitola) often said, “The Bulgarians think they are the only people in the world with brains, and that all others are fools. Whom do they hope to deceive with their articles in Pravo and other papers saying that the Macedonians want Macedonia for the Macedonians? We know very well what they want!” (Krste P. Misirkov 1974, 44).

Ahmet Emin Yalman was born in Thessaloniki in 1888. He was one of the most prominent figures within Kemal Ataturk’s party (CUP) throughout his life. He had graduated from the German School; he graduated from the Faculty of Law in Istanbul, and received his doctorate degree at Columbia University of New York in journalism and philosophy. He was the publisher and editor of the Istanbul paper Vatan. He wrote a political autobiography, titled Turkey in my Time covering the Atatürk era and later. Yet this man covering his early life in Macedonia, brings in pages 9 and 11, as inhabitants of Macedonia the Turks, Greeks, Bulgarians, Jews, Serbs, Vlach speaking Greeks, and Albanians (Yalman 1956, 9, 11). He also lists the komitadjis as Bulgarian terrorists (Yalman 1956, 15). Of course, that was long before Stalin cloned the Bulgarians as Macedonians.

The revolt failed because it lacked popular support despite Skopje’s assertions to the contrary. The failure of the revolt meant the decline of the original IMRO especially after the death of Goce Delcev who was killed on May 4, 1903 before the rebellion, and Damian Gruev who was killed on December 23, 1906.

During the ten days of the Krusgevo republic, the revolutionaries attempted to destory the cultural identity of Krushevo and then kill all those whom they consider responsible for that current culture, the Greeks.

It is only fair that Greece erects a monument commemorating the innocent victims of the Bulgarian Web and the Ottoman Harpoon.




[1] An American English synonym for muleteer, “mule skinner”, a driver of mules.

[2] The location of the three villages is as follows: Adalçı is located west of Krushevo about four kilometers as the crow flies, Lazhani about 12 kms northeast of Krushevo as the crow flies, and Debrishte is located about 6 kms north of Lazhani as the crow flies.

[3] The names of the victims, their destroyed properties, their allegiance and other details are recorded in the report of the Greek Consul in Monastiri (Bitola).

[4] The Ottoman terminology of its various army services is as follows: Nizamiye = Regular Army and nizami = a soldier of the regular army. Redif was a reservist, mostly Albanians. Bashibozuk was a civilian performing the job of a soldier; it was essentially an irregular soldier. They were similar to the Greek Ταγμάτων Εθνοφυλακής Αμύνης (T.E.A.). İlavı was a second-class reservist, unruly tending to have criminal behavior.

[5] Hilmi Pasha (Hüseyin Hilmi Paşa) was descendant of an Islamized Greek family from Thermi (Sarlıca) Lesbos. He studied at the school of the Great Mosque of Lesbos and besides speaking excellent Greek, he also spoke flawless French for which he took private lessons. He worked in the Ottoman bureaucracy as secretary, because of his education, rising slowly through the ranks of the Ottoman bureaucracy. On December 2, 1902, he took over the newly formed Office of Inspector General of the newly established Rumeli governorate that included the vilayets of Selânik (Thessaloniki), Manastir (Bitola) and Kosova (Kosovo and Metohiya). He stayed at that position six years with the task to prevent the activities of the Bulgarian bands in Macedonia and establish good governance. His job was the implementation of the reforms that the Great Powers had envisaged for the region and accepted at “gun-point” so to speak by the Sultan (Source: İSAM – Türkiye Dıyanet Vakfı, Islâm Araştımaları Merkezi.


[1] An American English synonym for muleteer, “mule skinner”, a driver of mules.

[1] The location of the three villages is as follows: Adalçı is located west of Krushevo about four kilometers as the crow flies, Lazhani about 12 kms northeast of Krushevo as the crow flies, and Debrishte is located about 6 kms north of Lazhani as the crow flies.

[1] The names of the victims, their destroyed properties, their allegiance and other details are recorded in the report of the Greek Consul in Monastiri (Bitola).

[1] The Ottoman terminology of its various army services is as follows: Nizamiye = Regular Army and nizami = a soldier of the regular army. Redif was a reservist, mostly Albanians. Bashibozuk was a civilian performing the job of a soldier; it was essentially an irregular soldier. They were similar to the Greek Ταγμάτων Εθνοφυλακής Αμύνης (T.E.A.). İlavı was a second-class reservist, unruly tending to have criminal behavior.

[1] Hilmi Pasha (Hüseyin Hilmi Paşa) was descendant of an Islamized Greek family from Thermi (Sarlıca) Lesbos. He studied at the school of the Great Mosque of Lesbos and besides speaking excellent Greek, he also spoke flawless French for which he took private lessons. He worked in the Ottoman bureaucracy as secretary, because of his education, rising slowly through the ranks of the Ottoman bureaucracy. On December 2, 1902, he took over the newly formed Office of Inspector General of the newly established Rumeli governorate that included the vilayets of Selânik (Thessaloniki), Manastir (Bitola) and Kosova (Kosovo and Metohiya). He stayed at that position six years with the task to prevent the activities of the Bulgarian bands in Macedonia and establish good governance. His job was the implementation of the reforms that the Great Powers had envisaged for the region and accepted at “gun-point” so to speak by the Sultan (Source: İSAM – Türkiye Dıyanet Vakfı, Islâm Araştımaları Merkezi.

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