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Ideologies and National Identities

 | 
John Lampe
, 
Mark Mazower

Chapter 4. Common Heroes, Divided Claims: IMRO Between Macedonia and Bulgaria

James Frusetta

Texte intégral

  • 1 For surveys, see Anthony D. Smith, Nationalism and Modernism (London: Routledge, 1998) and Umut Öz (...)

1Who owns history? In the romantic, primordialist tradition of most national histories there is an assumption that historical events, institutions and individuals “belong” to a nation as part of its history. Modernity-based theories of nationalism on the other hand stress a modern “invention” of national identity based on interpretations and representations of the past: nations define themselves by what they claim for their national history. Both traditions intersect at the importance placed on the historical symbols used to define national identity and national history. National heroes, literature, folklore, events and the sites of events in the past—these are some of the symbols utilized to define what it means to be a member of a particular people.1

  • 2 Moreover, if one assumes an objective truth in history, if one’s own claim is true all other claim (...)

2Disputes over history have helped fuel the continuation of the “Macedonian Question”—what is the ethnic identity of the inhabitants of Macedonia at present, and what was it in the past? In the Macedonian case, there are few historical symbols utilized by the Republic of Macedonia that are not disputed by conflicting historical traditions in neighboring states. Those competing claims on key symbols, in turn, are seen as provocative. Under the assumption that such symbols possess a quality of “objective truth,” they cannot be shared: rival claims undermine the legitimacy of national identity.2

  • 3 The term “IMRO” itself is contested, since the movement was at times known as the “Internal Macedo (...)
  • 4 The “right” to national heroes is similarly at stake in debates over the “ownership” of Sts. Cyril (...)

3Bulgarian-Macedonian disputes over the identity of “national heroes” from the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) such as Gotse Delchev and Yane Sandanski illustrate this rivalry.3 During the socialist period the role of national ideology helped shape how each state utilized them as representatives of the nation. Transition from Communist rule after 1989 and the emergence of an independent Macedonian state in 1991 saw the rise of new uses of such symbols, now only partly moderated by the state and by academia as a wider, popular debate in the media, popular press, domestic political elections and other public forums arose. Despite significant internal disagreements within both countries over the “proper role” of these figures in national history, IMRO heroes are nonetheless claimed for one’s own country—and denied to the other.4

The Lens of Socialist National Ideology: 1945–1989

  • 5 E.g., explicitly linking historical events in relation to contemporary socialism in the Balkans. F (...)
  • 6 On national ideology’s relationship to the writing of history, see the seminal work by Katherine V (...)

4The Communist regimes in both Yugoslavia and Bulgaria established after the Second World War sponsored history that approached the past in terms of approved ideology. As Dejan Jovic´ notes in chapter 11 in this volume, Yugoslavia’s party elites helped to shape new visions of the world. Through their efforts, writers of history served to support such new visions through representations of the past. History, often cast in a presentist framework, was called upon to support the legitimacy of the new socialist states by providing historical precedent.5 For their part, the party leadership regulated access to state-owned publishing houses, university positions, records, research funding and opportunities for prestige. As the sole “market” for history, the state was correspondingly able to broadly influence the production of history.6 Beyond academia, the state controlled those forums by which history could be distributed to a wider audience, such as the publication of “popular histories,” print and broadcast media and the educational system. This resulted in a conflation of interests between historians and the state, and a certain degree of uniformity in approach.

  • 7 Georgi (Gotse) Delchev (1872–1903) was born in Aegean Macedonia, finished secondary school and was (...)
  • 8 Yane Sandanski (1872–1915) was born in Vardar Macedonia and rose to prominence in the IMRO for his (...)
  • 9 For a Bulgarian socialist perspective on the relationship of IMRO figures to their socialist conte (...)

5National heroes were called upon to serve as symbols for the new socialist ideologies—assuming their actions could be reconciled as being properly progressive in nature. The vague populism or anarchism espoused by such IMRO leaders as Gotse Delchev7 and Yane Sandanski8 was transformed into overt socialism, of the sort ascribed to them in both Document 1 and Document 2.9 The Macedonian revolutionary movement as a whole was characterized as a mass-based national liberation movement fighting foreign oppression. As such, it served as a precursor to the movements that established the People’s Republic of Bulgaria and the Yugoslav Socialist Republic of Macedonia. In this common approach, the revolutionary nature of IMRO and its struggle against backward, regressive Ottoman rule was tied to the later, pro-socialist left wing of IMRO in the 1920s and its opposition to the repressive monarchist regimes of the period. Both, in turn, were tied to more recent struggles against fascism, against the former “bourgeois” regimes of both states, and against the new, postwar threat of American imperialism.

  • 10 The Bulgarian government continued to retain aspects of “Macedonianization” in the Pirin region we (...)
  • 11 For an overview, see Evangelos Kofos, Nationalism and Communism in Macedonia: Civil Conflict, Poli (...)
  • 12 The best survey, if not covering the entire period, is Stefan Troebst, Die bulgarisch-jugoslawisch (...)

6With broad agreement on the ideological use of Macedonian heroes by both Bulgaria and Macedonia, the potential for conflict was limited to issues of their national identity. As long as the Bulgarian Communist Party tacitly acknowledged Belgrade’s lead on the recognition of a Macedonian nation, as it did from 1944 to 1948, this was not an issue.10 Following the Tito-Stalin split of 1948, however, the Bulgarian government was free to change course and challenge the legitimacy of the Macedonian nation. From 1948 to 1989, disputes between the two states over Macedonian history had implicit political overtones and were influenced by the status of Bulgarian-Yugoslav relations.11 Yet the dispute over the Macedonian nation also took on importance for the national ideology of both states over this period, beyond its “tactical significance” in international diplomacy. The heroes of IMRO would be called upon to serve both Communist regimes.12

  • 13 King and Palmer, 153–54.
  • 14 Initially, in the 1940s, the nineteenth century served as the starting point for the Macedonian na (...)
  • 15 Andonov-Poljanski, 241.

7In Macedonia, the federal government in Belgrade and the republic’s government in Skopje fostered an official national ideology centered on a Macedonian national identity. The standardization of the Macedonian language, the creation of an autocephalous Macedonian Orthodox Church and new interpretations of history all reinforced this identity.13 Macedonian national history was traced to the nineteenth century, with its most prominent expression being the revolutionary struggle for freedom, equality and independence.14 As the vanguard of this people’s movement, IMRO, was thus a consciously ethnically Macedonian and politically socialist organization. Historians made a direct connection between the Ilinden uprising of August 1903 and the Partisan struggle against Bulgarian and German occupation over 1941–1944: “Ilinden 1903 was the first Macedonian Ilinden. It foreshadowed the Second, which took place in 1941. Through these struggles the Macedonian people confirmed the historic existence of the Macedonian nation…”15 Only through the latter struggle had, indeed, a Macedonian state finally been achieved. Its foundation in 1944 through the auspices of ASNOM in August 1944 (the Anti-fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia) was supported by the Yugoslav Communist Party.

  • 16 Kofos, 159.

8The Yugoslav Socialist Republic of Macedonia thus fulfilled the goals of Ilinden as defined by the new national ideology. The development of a Macedonian national history served as a cornerstone of the republic, along with the codification of the Macedonian language and the creation of a Macedonian Orthodox Church in 1958 (autocephalous after 1967).16 Accordingly, it was crucial to prove that the leaders of IMRO were consciously Macedonian in identity and to enshrine them as part of a pantheon of national heroes.

  • 17 Nikola Minchev, “The Ideals of Gotse Delchev are Built into the Macedonia of Today,” Macedonian Re (...)
  • 18 James Krapfl provides a statistical analysis of such in “The Ideals of Ilinden: Uses of Memory and (...)

9Both Delchev and Sandanski were not only honored with monuments and publications but were adopted as symbols of the republic, as in —the Macedonian and their struggles were synonymous. The republic itself was characterized as the natural outgrowth of Delchev’s aspirations for an autonomous Macedonian state.17 During the socialist period both the popular press and academic publications focused on IMRO and its leaders: nearly two-fifths of the articles in the journal Macedonian Review over the years 1971 to 1989, for example, center on IMRO members, on the broader organization, or on the Ilinden uprising.18

  • 19 E.g., Ivan Karadzhiev, Vreme na Zreenje: Makedonskoto natsionalno prashanje megju dvete svetski vo (...)
  • 20 The stress on “falsification” is notable. For example, see “Falsifikatite na bugarskite ‘kriihari’ (...)

10At the same time, there was a tendency to cast “non-progressive” historical elements or factions within IMRO as explicitly Bulgarian in nature: Todor Aleksandrov, for example, was not only a reactionary agent of the bourgeoisie, he was also an agent of “Greater Bulgarianism” and the “chauvinist Bulgarian bourgeoisie.”19 Delchev and Sandanski were not only national heroes for their struggles against the Turks; they had opposed Bulgarian agents of assimilation and reactionary, pro-Bulgarian factions such as the Supreme Macedonian Committee. This reinforced their national identities as Macedonians. Bulgarian claims on Macedonian symbols could thus be portrayed as merely the most recent manifestation of a “chauvinist” attitude of long provenance and as direct attacks on the Macedonian people.20

  • 21 Dimitar Mitrev, Pirinska Makedonija vo borba za natsionanlo osloboduvanje (Skopje: Glavniot odbor (...)

11The work of Macedonian historians could actively be used in support of political agendas vis-à-vis Bulgaria. For example, academic publications attesting to the Macedonian character of Pirin and Aegean Macedonia (in neighboring Bulgaria and Greece, respectively) bolstered the suggestion of their eventual unification with Yugoslav (Vardar) Macedonia. The legacy and identity put forward regarding Sandanski and other IMRO leaders, for example, supported arguments for the Macedonian character of the inhabitants of the Pirin region of Bulgaria, bolstering Skopje’s potential claims on the region.21

  • 22 Naum Kaichev and Ivanka Nedeva, “IMRO Groupings in Bulgaria After the Second World War,” in James (...)

12In Bulgaria, the potential for the history of IMRO to be incorporated into a new Bulgarian socialist national ideology was more problematic. The organization had been associated between 1923 and 1934 with repressive, anti-Communist regimes in Bulgaria. IMRO had taken part in the violent overthrow of the Agrarian government of Aleksandar Stamboliiski in 1923, a regime that was now portrayed as a progressive historical precedent for the new people’s republic. IMRO had, moreover, intervened actively against the abortive revolution of Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP) in that same year. The left wing of the movement was embarrassingly small and ineffective compared to the larger, nationalist factions. Finally, IMRO’s reputation in Bulgaria in the interwar years had been tarnished by its repeated use of assassinations, its gangsterism and the violence between different factions of the movement. The BCP had in fact repressed the remaining elements of IMRO after taking power.22

  • 23 Shoup, 152.

13Most importantly, the BCP’s own recognition of a Macedonian nationality in 1944–48, and a more circumspect recognition of such over 1948– 1956, restricted any initial incorporation of the Macedonian revolutionary movement into new versions of Bulgarian national history. Pressure from Moscow regarding relations with Belgrade influenced official policy regarding Macedonian history. This official policy of recognizing Macedonian identity was opposed, in turn, both by factions within the BCP and by members of the Macedonian émigré community living within Bulgaria.23

  • 24 Indeed, placing them on a par with Dimitur Blagoev, for whom Gorna Dzhumaia was renamed as Blagoev (...)
  • 25 Tsentralen Durzhaven Arhiv (TsDA), fond 1b, op. 6, a.e. 1 801, l. 15–16 (on Ilinden), 5–13 (list o (...)

14The BCP was thus initially ambiguous about drawing on Macedonian heroes in the new national pantheon. On the one hand, Delchev and Sandanski, among others, were honored with monuments and museum exhibits in the 1950s, and with newspaper articles in the regional publications. A further sign of favor was the renaming of towns in the Pirin region after both men; Sveti Vrach was renamed Sandanski in 1949 and Nevrokop as Gotse Delchev in 1950.24 But unlike other revolutionary figures from Bulgarian history, Delchev and Sandanski were not presented in a systematic fashion. Recognition was piecemeal, and largely limited to the Pirin region. Typical was the Central Committee of the Politburo’s decision in May 1953, which noted the fiftieth anniversary of the Ilinden uprising—yet in a related announcement listing the national “revolutionary fighters against Turkish slavery, fascism and imperialism,” it included neither Delchev nor Sandanski.25

  • 26 The regional newspaper Pirinsko Delo, for example, regularly published articles on Macedonian hist (...)
  • 27 For example, Petur Georgiev, “Kak se falshifitsira istoriiata,” Pirinsko Delo,8 January 1958, 3–4. (...)

15Articles on Macedonian topics in academic journals such as Istoricheski Pregled and academic monographs published on the subject were rare in the 1950s and early 1960s, although the subject was never a complete taboo.26 Responding to the outpouring of material from Skopje, treatments of Macedonian history in the press and in academia seemed reactive. State-owned newspapers retaliated to perceived provocations from Skopje and Belgrade (and, indeed, to other contended issues in history), and the Bulgarian government occasionally protested specific provocations.27 Still, there was initially no sustained, systematic attempt to integrate specifically Macedonian events as part of Bulgarian history.

  • 28 Dino Kiosev, ed., Gotse Delchev: Pisma i drugi materiali (Sofia: BAN, 1967); Liuben Tolev, “Bulgar (...)

16By the 1960s, this Bulgarian policy of benign neglect began to change. There were moves to reclaim the Macedonian revolutionary movement as a part of Bulgarian history, encouraged at the highest levels of the Bulgarian Communist Party as seen in Document 4. Beginning in the 1960s, Bulgarian historians sought to prove the Bulgarian credentials of the Macedonian revolutionary movement. In laying claim to its history, Macedonian revolutionaries were portrayed as the inheritors of a tradition stemming from such prominent Bulgarian revolutionaries as Vasil Levski.28 Academic treatments increased significantly during the period, although the history of the Macedonian movement remained something of a “backwater” and there remained conflict within the ranks of historians over methods of approach.

  • 29 The motivations for this turn to nationalism are unclear, although economic difficulties may have (...)
  • 30 Liudmila Zhivkova, “Uvereno i dostoino kum budeshteto na Bulgariia,” Istoricheski Pregled 47: 2 (1 (...)

17By the 1980s, the Bulgarian government was increasingly incorporating elements of integral, or ethnically exclusive, nationalism into national ideology. On the one hand, ethnic minorities such as Turks and Pomaks (Muslim ethnic Bulgarians) were encouraged (or forced) to assimilate or to emigrate.29 Even as those minorities were suppressed, Macedonian historical themes enjoyed a new prominence—a number of articles on Macedonian history were released during the Celebration of 1300 years of the Bulgarian State that took place in 1981. Macedonian heroes were now openly identified as historical symbols for the Bulgarian state. That year, Liudmila Zhivkova (minister of culture, and daughter of party secretary Todor Zhivkov) listed both Delchev and Sandanski as among the “national heroes who fought for the freedom of the Bulgarian nation.”30 Delchev’s elevation to an “apostle of freedom” now occasionally reached to the level of Levski:

  • 31 Iordan Vanchev, Apostoli na bulgarskata svoboda (Sofia: Narodna Mladezh, 1981), 64.

18“It was unlikely there was another personality in the national-liberation struggle of the Bulgarian nation whose life, deeds and exploits were so bright as to bear a resemblance to Vasil Levski, as was Gotse Delchev.”31

  • 32 Ivan Aleksandrov, Za novo mislene i nov podhod po niakoi vuprosi ot bulgarskata istoriia: protiv o (...)

19Even Todor Aleksandrov, previously treated as something of a pariah for his role in suppressing agrarianism and the Bulgarian Communist Party in 1923, saw a partial rehabilitation by the mid-1980s by virtue of his professed Bulgarian nationalism and patriotism—not without significant debate among historians and members of the BCP regarding incorporation of a historical figure previously interpreted as a “fascist.”32 By the end of the Communist era, Macedonian history and its symbols were increasingly incorporated into the national ideology of Bulgaria.

After 1989: Fracturing the Lens

20For the history of IMRO, the political transition to post-Communism in both Macedonia and Bulgaria proved to be a watershed. In both states, socialist national ideology had served to regulate the writing of history: historical approaches that were unacceptable found it difficult to obtain a public forum. The political transition in Bulgaria in 1989 and the emergence of an independent Macedonian state in 1991 greatly weakened the ability of both government and of professional academia to continue to act as gatekeepers of national history. Neither government was now willing to restrict debates over Macedonian history. The old pressures from Moscow and Belgrade to be circumspect in historical debates vanished—indeed, as emerging democracies both states were instead now pressured by the West to allow more open, public discussion of history. New claims on Macedonian heroes could now be voiced.

  • 33 Troebst, ibid.
  • 34 Sarafov was a leader in the Ilinden uprising, but unacceptable for his Bulgarophile views (includi (...)
  • 35 Brown, 155–62, notes the strength of the debate in the 1990s.

21Within the Republic of Macedonia, political debates over the Yugoslav and Communist legacies left to the new state were mirrored by debates about what formulation the country’s national history should take after independence.33 Controversy initially centered on whether or not the half-century of Communist historiography had deliberately distorted the historical record. Historians had marginalized or obscured certain figures that were politically unacceptable, such as Boris Sarafov, Metodij Shatorov and Metodij Antonov-Chento.34 Debate over their contributions to Macedonian independence emerged soon after independence. Historians now argued over the previously exaggerated socialist qualifications of Delchev and Sandanski. The popular press seized on incidents such as the reputed Partisan massacre of Macedonian members in Skopje in December 1944 when they refused to march north and fight on the Srem Front against the retreating German army. From these debates emerged other questions. To what degree had the Communist Party in Belgrade and Skopje “controlled” the formation of a Macedonian national history? To what degree had native Macedonian traditions been obfuscated? The debate over such matters drew in members of the Macedonian National Institute for History and spread to both academic journals and the popular press.35

50 denar stamp commemorating Gotse Delchev, issued 1994

  • 36 Brown, 147–48, 170n.

22For many Macedonians, such debates were limited by the fact that there were no presocialist traditions of national history to which they could turn. The only autocthonic paradigms of Macedonian history were produced in the socialist period and relied on a linkage between IMRO and its hopes for Communist revolution. New alternative theories of national origin that might minimize IMRO and the Ilinden uprising—such as the descent of the modern Macedonian nation from intermarriage between migrating Slavs and remnants of the ancient Macedonian people of Alexander the Great— proved controversial at best among scholars, and met a mixed reception in popular forums. The academic production of history remains largely in the hands of historians trained in the old school of this national ideology, in institutions that remained state-funded and which largely retained their pre1991 staff and outlook.36 Although professional historians reassessed aspects of the old paradigm and removed some of its more overtly polemical theses, by and large historiographic traditions continued after the transition and proved slow to change.

40 denar outsize stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Ilinden uprising, issued 1993

  • 37 Both in new works and in new editions of older ones. For example, Dimitar Dimeski, Gotse Delchev ( (...)
  • 38 Opposition by the Greek government to the country’s name led to the use of the term “the Former Yu (...)

23New challenges from Greek and Bulgarian historians that Macedonian identity was the product of “Titoist brainwashing” encouraged Macedonian historians to focus on defending the historical legitimacy of that single identity for the population in general and IMRO specifically.37 Greek foreign policy in the mid-1990s, including an economic embargo of the Republic of Macedonia, highlighted disagreements of portrayals of national history— the Greek government refusing to sanction any use of the term “Macedonia” by the new state since the term was held to be exclusively Greek in historical context.38

24The political ramifications of independence influenced the shaping of a new national ideology. Coalition governments led by former members of the regional Communist Party of Macedonia and anti-Communist nationalists alike have maintained much of the pantheon of national heroes created under socialism and as such draw on them for symbols of the new state, as noted by the accompanying illustrations. Delchev, the Ilinden uprising and IMRO all adorned postage stamps in the early 1990s. The monument to the Ilinden uprising of 1903 in Krushevo was used on the reverse of lower denomination banknotes issued in 1992, and on the front of the 10 denar note issued in 1993.

10 denar banknote, illustrated on the reverse with the Krushevo Monument to the Ilinden uprising, issued 1993 30 denar outsize stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Ilinden uprising, issued 1993

  • 39 Given the importance of IMRO in Macedonian history as argued here, the plethora of Macedonian part (...)
  • 40 Speech by president of Macedonia Boris Trajkovski to the émigré United Macedonian Organization of (...)
  • 41 The continued state use of this Macedonian national ideology, however, was a source of complaint f (...)

25Several political parties adopted the legacy of IMRO; a number went so far as to name themselves after the movement.39 Most ethnic Macedonian political parties saw the utility in portraying themselves as the true heirs of Delchev’s ideology, adapting his legacy as appropriate for their agendas. Political leaders continued to link contemporary politics with Ilinden, such as claiming that that Macedonians “live in the time of the dreams of Gotse Delchev.”40 While the division of opinion between the precise nature of the history of IMRO continued, there was broad agreement that it represented something of crucial importance for Macedonian history.41

26The Macedonian government in the 1990s could perhaps no longer strictly enforce a “standard” national history. But the perception of Macedonia as a state threatened by hostile neighbors, the diplomatic disputes with Greece and Bulgaria over the use of historical symbols, and the perceived threat posed by the ethnic Albanian minority encouraged a sense of cohesiveness. In a time of perceived crisis and with limited alternatives, there was little inclination among ethnic Macedonians as a whole for a radical restructuring of national symbols.

  • 42 As well as work that borders on apologia for less savory actions of IMRO, such as Mitre Stamenov, (...)
  • 43 I am particularly indebted to Angel Angelov for his comments on this point in conversations with t (...)
  • 44 Thomas Meininger, “A Troubled Transition: Bulgarian Historiography, 1989– 1994,” Contemporary Euro (...)

27Transition in Bulgaria opened the way for a more pluralistic restructuring. With no credible threat to the existence of a Bulgarian nation there was perhaps more tolerance for public disagreement than in the Republic of Macedonia, and there was less incentive to keep the status quo in national history. Almost immediately after 1989 there were calls to change significantly the approach to the history of Macedonia and the Macedonian revolutionary movement. Particularly significant was the rapid reformation after 1989 of organizations suppressed during the Communist era. Most prominent were the Macedonian Scientific Institute (and its journal Makedonski Pregled) and the IMRO-Union of Macedonian Societies, which quickly evolved into a political party, as well as a number of smaller or regional organizations. Many Bulgarians of Macedonian origin, professing resentment of political interference in historical treatments, supported such groups —and were prominent in publishing the subsequent flood of memoirs, academic work and popular histories on the topic.42 In many cases, these publications represented traditions of oral histories that had been handed down within families or localities and which had never been incorporated into “official” histories.43 While many of these works were of scholarly merit, a strongly patriotic ethos permeates much of the work in question. This ethos, in turn, on occasion led these groups to criticize as “insufficiently patriotic” those Bulgarian historians who warned of the dangers of nationalism and irredentism.44

  • 45 Among them, note the four-volume history produced jointly by the Macedonian National Institute and (...)
  • 46 Bozhidar Dimitrov, Desette luzhi na makedonizma (Sofia: Izdatel “ANIKO,” 2000). Although the work (...)
  • 47 As suggested by the Bulgarian Academy of Science’s “National Doctrine for the Twenty-First Century (...)
  • 48 Note, for example, the critical review of Desette luzhi by Chavdar Marinov, “Za luzhite na Makedon (...)

28Some Bulgarian historians, particularly those affiliated with Macedonian organizations, now sought to reaffirm a Bulgarian identity for both the Macedonian revolutionary movement and for the population of Macedonia in general. National history as produced in Skopje was reviewed and rebutted, as was history produced in Bulgaria on the subject during the Communist period. The BCP’s policies in the Pirin region during the 1940s and 1950s were particularly criticized—even derided as “national treason”—and a flood of new scholarly publications on the Macedonian question were released.45 More provocative and less scholarly were tracts intended for a popular audience, such as Bozhidar Dimitrov’s Ten Lies of Macedonian History.46 Forays into popular history and newspapers by historians, as in Document 6, tended to blur the distinction between writing history for an academic and for a popular audience. On the other hand, such forays allowed those historians to reach a wider national audience than did the more scholarly work. Although the number of historians actively engaging in this debate is relatively small, they permeate Bulgarian educational institutions.47 Serious critiques of this kind of history, while made, are aimed at a scholarly audience rather than a popular one—gatekeeping within the historical profession, but not over scholarly works as a whole.48

29As in Macedonia, the political use of IMRO symbols emerged in the post-Communist period, but in a more limited fashion. Much of the broad debate on Macedonian identity centered on the question of relations with the new Republic of Macedonia, particularly around the Bulgarian government’s decision to recognize the state but not necessarily the Macedonian national identity. Language in particular became a sticking point, as Skopje stressed the equality of the Macedonian language to Bulgarian (while Sofia, regarding Macedonian as a “dialect,” questioned the need for translators in inter-state meetings, for example). Much of the debate tended to focus on broad issues of the argued “Bulgarian character” of the population of the Republic of Macedonia.

  • 49 See the pamphlet by Decho Dobrinov, Todor Aleksandrov: Legendarniat vodach na VMRO (Sofia: Znanie, (...)
  • 50 The repeated vandalization of the Sandanski monument (reportedly by members of IMRO–UMS) underscor (...)
  • 51 The Macedonian Information Liaison Service report of 21 April 1995, regarding the decision by the (...)

30A more specific debate, however, was spurred by the rapid transformation of the IMRO-UMS into a political party in Bulgaria. The party, as Document 6 notes, drew directly on the Macedonian revolutionary movement as its basis and appealed to Bulgarians of Macedonian origin. The organization as a political body stressed conservative national values, and appropriately enough drew on such symbols as IMRO’s red-and-black colors and, notably, Todor Aleksandrov.49 The existence of the rival United Macedonian Organization-Ilinden, comprised of ethnic Macedonians and claiming the legacy of IMRO for itself, touched off a bitter debate over the use of Macedonian symbols. Notable was the furor over Yane Sandanski, now rejected by some in IMRO-UMS due to his leftist leanings but upheld by UMO-Ilinden. Sandanski, problematic for some both due to his opposition to Aleksandrov and his extensive role in Communist-era histories, was now further compromised by his identification as being a symbol for political rivals. UMOIlinden’s pilgrimages to Sandanski’s grave on the anniversary of his death became a focal point in domestic politics and domestic debates surrounding the “appropriation” of national symbols, a debate that spread to the Republic of Macedonia.50 Legal complications over UMO-Ilinden’s ability to register as a political party and to use public monuments in celebrations led to a series of allegations concerning human rights violations and further debate.51

31On the whole, however, the debate in Bulgaria is far more marginal in its national importance: the incomplete assimilation of Macedonian heroes into the Bulgarian national pantheon means that many Bulgarians lack close identification with them. After all, the modern Bulgarian state never incorporated all of geographic Macedonia; accordingly, Delchev and Sandanski are in many respects of regional rather than national importance. Nonetheless, given that as many as one in eight Bulgarians can claim some Macedonian descent, a large potential audience exists. Within this “Bulgaro-Macedonian” community (much of which maintains a strong sense of Macedonian heritage) the debate is no less significant than in the Republic of Macedonia. Moreover, claims within the Republic of Macedonia that IMRO (as well as other historical symbols) is exclusively part of that country’s heritage have proven a constant irritant, provoking feelings that Skopje was “stealing” Bulgarian history—and thereby, part of Bulgarian identity.

  • 52 Although academia, too, is turning to the internet to state its position. Note the on-line “virtua (...)

32One new factor in both Bulgaria and Macedonia is the manner in which new technology transformed the way debates over history took place. Not only did the expansion of print and broadcast media provide forums unavailable before 1989, but the advent of the internet transformed the nature of the debate. The internet allowed individuals to reach much wider audiences, and to “self-publish” work on the web; a plethora of “authoritative” websites and e-mail pundits duly appeared. This further weakened the ability of the state and of professional historians to act as gatekeepers of national history (a complaint common to historians in the age of the internet).52 A number of web pages, many of them in English for an international audience, provided personal and often politically motivated interpretations of Macedonian history and on the provenance of specific individuals like Delchev and Sandanski. On-line discussion groups, both on local bulletin boards in the two countries and in international USENET groups such as alt.soc.macedonia have turned into forums for debate. Increasingly, the internet is used consciously in an attempt to authoritatively distribute rival perspectives on national history to foreign audiences.

Conclusion

  • 53 Note the critique of Western theories of nation formation in Ivelin Sardamov, “Mandate of History: (...)
  • 54 Note Anthony Smith’s theories about the importance of “myth of descent” in nationalism. As such, D (...)

33Treatments of the contemporary use of history in Southeastern Europe often approach it in cynical terms, stressing the political manipulation of history.53 The theme of “manipulation” is pertinent, as there has been a clear linkage between political motivations and the way history has been portrayed on the Macedonian question. This should not lead observers, however, to forget that even if national symbols are “invented,” they are still widely perceived as possessing objective truth by members of the nation in question. The heroes of IMRO have ascribed meanings that have proven important in the creation of a Macedonian national ideology and that have enjoyed resurgence since 1989 in Bulgaria, especially among those Bulgarians of Macedonian descent.54 In both cases, historical traditions flourish that seek to prove that their version of historical truth is the correct one, and that the opposite view is false.

  • 55 Or, rather, that “objective proofs” are chiefly significant when they can trigger a Kuhnian shift, (...)

34When there are multiple and rival claims to historical symbols of the nation, history becomes a zero-sum game. Any argument advanced by rival tradition threatens the stability of one’s own national identity, and encourages a defense that the rival in turn sees as an attack upon their identity. As such, the “objective history” of national symbols becomes unimportant; what is relevant instead is the role ascribed to a given symbol in interpretations of history.55 The very dynamic of the “use of history” in such cases precludes a common use of common heroes by rivals, at least until their relative importance for the present has faded.

Sources

Document 1:

35Today, 35 years have passed since the death of Yane Sandanski, the great Macedonian revolutionary and fighter of our national-liberation struggle; who was killed by agents of Ferdinand II’s camarilla because of the following struggle in which he gave his life for the national liberation of the Macedonian people.

36Yane Sandanski has a particular place in the history of Macedonian national-liberation activities as the truest follower of the ideals and principles of the pristine IMRO of Gotse Delchev. He is a great progressive figure in our revolutionary past, who did historic service for our Macedonian nation as an uncompromising leader, organizer and strategist of our national-liberation activities. …

37… [Because] the activities of Sandanski were diametrically opposed to the acquisitive aspirations of the Greater-Bulgarian bourgeoisie and clique of Ferdinand, they arranged the physical destruction of Sandanski … But the deeds and the ideals of Sandanski remained alive in the heart of the Macedonian nation and became a banner in its national struggle for national freedom and independence, a struggle which is complete under the leadership of the CPY.

38Source: “Trieset i pet godini ot smrtta na Jane Sandanski,” Nova Makedonija, 22 April 1950.

Document 2:

39…Macedonians had the closest and unbroken historical and cultural past with the Bulgarian people. In Bulgarian progressive society [Gotse Delchev] found a brotherly reception and from them he selected military and intellectual cadres for the Macedonian liberation movement. From Bulgarian progressive society appeared such great Macedonian revolutionaries as Hristo Chernopeev, Krastio Asenov, Petar Yorukov, Parashkev Tsvetkov, Marko Leriiski, Aleksandar Iliev, Luka Ivanov, Todor Panitsa, Aleksandar Bunov, Chudomir Kantardzhiev and still many more who laid down their lives for the freedom of Macedonia.

40From the Bulgarian Communist Party … came the closest comrade of Gotse Delchev and the theorist of Macedonian progressive thought, Dimo Hadzhidimov …

41Therefore, even today, Gotse Delchev is for the Macedonians, wherever they may live, as a banner against the imperialist fomenters of a new war. Therefore, even today, Gotse Delchev is a banner in our war for the triumph of democracy, peace and socialism. For every Macedonian patriot today the deeds of Gotse Delchev have the clos-est connection with the politics of the socialist progressive powers of peace, democracy and socialism. Under the paternal concern of the Bulgarian Communist Party after 9 September 1944 great material and cultural progress began in our region. …

42The Macedonian inhabitants and every working man in the Pirin region will express their love for the deeds and the legacy of Delchev while working with all their might for the strengthening of our native rule in our People’s Republic of Bulgaria, so as to fight for the erection of moral-political unity under the flag of the Fatherland Front at the guidance of the Bulgarian Communist Party, so as to fight for the flowering of our socialist Bulgarian homeland.

43Source: “Gotse Delchev,” Pirinsko Delo, 3 May 1958.

Document 3:

Today above Macedonia is born
the new sun of liberty
The Macedonians fight
for their own rights!
The Macedonians fight
for their own rights!
From now on, the flag flies of the Krushevo Republic
Gotse Delchev, Pitu Guli
Dame Gruev, Sandanski!
Gotse Delchev, Pitu Guli
Dame Gruev, Sandanski!
The Macedonian forests in one voice sing
new songs, new news
that Macedonia is liberated
and liberated it lives!
Macedonia is liberated
and liberated it lives!

44Source: “Today over Macedonia,” the anthem of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia (also adopted as the national anthem by the independent Republic of Macedonia), written by Vlado Maleski, 1943 or 1944.

Document 4:

45When did talk about a Macedonian nationality and Macedonian nation begin? Talk began after Macedonia fell under Serbian slavery. At that time Serb historians, so as to please the Serbian bourgeoisie for the assimilation of this population [of Macedonia], after they couldn’t succeed in forcing them to become Serbian through violence, they began to say that these are neither Bulgarians, nor Serbs, but are Macedonians. These are historical facts…

46The leaders and founders of the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization never speak about a Macedonian nation and Macedonian national consciousness. For them the struggle of the inhabitants of Macedonia was a struggle for liberation from Turkish slavery. They always emphasized that the Bulgarians in Macedonia were a compact mass, but among them were Greeks, Albanians, Vlachs and other nationalities. They launched the slogan for autonomy—“Macedonia for the Macedonians”—but not as a Macedonian national community but as a slogan for struggle, for equal rights and freedoms for every nationality which inhabited Macedonia. They counted on the incorporation of Macedonia into Bulgaria afterwards. I speak of the left democratic current in the Macedonian revolutionary movement, whose main founder, as is well known, was Gotse Delchev.

47Source: Speech by Todor Zhivkov to the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party, 11–12 March 1963. TsDA fond 1b, op 5, a.e. 567, l 274–289; here, cited from “Glavno upravlenie na arkhivite pri ministerskiiat suvet,” BKP, Kominternut i Makedonskiiat Vupros (1917–1946), vol. 2 (Sofia: PK “D. Blagovev,” 1999).

Document 5:

48I understand the world just as a field of cultural competition of the nations”—this is another thought of the legendary national revolutionary Gotse Delchev, who gave a basis for hope. But in order to have this we have to do everything possible to meet, wherever and on whatever occasion, but freely with Macedonians, and them freely with us.

49We will gain nothing if we continue looking through curtains, portals and barriers. The fear of this meeting, which was carefully blocked and could not materialize for more than eighty years, was greatest in Belgrade, Skopje and Athens … But every day, as more and more people from the two sides of the border communicate they will understand that in fact there is nothing divisive. They will discover that not only the language but also our roots, history, national heroes and enemies are in common. And there is no way to avoid the knowledge or the conviction that almost all “Macedonian heroes” have been predominantly Bulgarians and never Macedonians. That is enough.

50Source: Veselin Angelov, “Shte imame li nai-setne edina natsionanlo otgovorna politika po makedonskiia vupros,” Demokratsiia, 14 August 1997, 16.

Document 6:

51In 1893, six Bulgarian intellectuals, striving to obtain civil rights for the Bulgarian population in Macedonia and Thrace—regions cut off from Bulgaria and left under the domination of the Ottoman sultans, founded [in Thessalonika] the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO).

52After numerous unsuccessful attempts to make the international community solve the problem and in response to the persecutions by the Turkish Ottoman administration, IMRO took the course of armed resistance in order to obtain human rights and liberties for the enslaved nationalities within the empire. …

53After the Balkan Wars and the First World War, only 10 % of Macedonia was included in Bulgaria. The remaining 90 % were occupied and divided between the Kingdom of Greece and [Yugoslavia] …

54In Greek (Aegean) Macedonia, the Greek authorities set up an inflexible tyrannical regime, so the Organization immediately undertook armed activities; whereas in the Serbian part different ways for legal political activities were sought at first. The ruthless persecution of members and supporters of the Organization as well as the terror imposed on those who declared themselves Bulgarians, forced IMRO to use the methods of armed resistance. …

55Although in 1934 an antidemocratic authoritarian coup in Bulgaria banned all the political parties as well as IMRO. The last fractions of the Organization were abolished as late as in the late 1940s by the newly established Communist dictatorships in Yugoslavia and Bulgaria.

56After the Second World War a “Socialist Republic of Macedonia” was created in the framework of Tito’s “Federal” Yugoslavia. Bel-grade was motivated by its political objective to continue the execution of the old Comintern resolution (adopted in 1934 in Moscow) postulating the creation of a separate “Macedonian” nation. Under the pressure of the Communist regime, the Bulgarian population was obliged to accept the geographical denomination “Macedonian” as a national one. Up to 1990 more than 700 legal trials were held against citizens refusing to adopt the new “Macedonian” national identity …

57Source: IMRO’s website, “VMRO: Bulgarsko natsionalno dvizhenie,” “VMRO History” (In English) [http://www.vmro.org/​stari/​index.htm] (Viewed 8 June 2002).

Notes

1 For surveys, see Anthony D. Smith, Nationalism and Modernism (London: Routledge, 1998) and Umut Özkirimli, Theories of Nationalism: A Critical Introduction (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000). History is only one area from which symbols are drawn; see chapter 5 by Andrew Wachtel in this volume on the importance of literature as well as his Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998).

2 Moreover, if one assumes an objective truth in history, if one’s own claim is true all other claims must be errors at best, lies at worst. Note Keith S. Brown’s influential work, particularly “A Rising to Count On: Ilinden Between Politics and History in Post-Yugoslav Macedonia,” in Victor Roudometof, ed., The Macedonian Question: Culture, Historiography, Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), 151–52.

3 The term “IMRO” itself is contested, since the movement was at times known as the “Internal Macedonian–Adrianople Revolutionary Organization” (IMARO) and “Secret Macedonian–Adrianople Revolutionary Organization” (SMARO). Since both names emphasize a Bulgarian nature of the organization by linking the inhabitants of Thrace and Macedonia, the use of the terms can take a political cast. IMRO is used here throughout, however, for simplicity.

4 The “right” to national heroes is similarly at stake in debates over the “ownership” of Sts. Cyril and Methodius and Tsar Samuil. Claims to Alexander the Great and associated symbols (the first Macedonian flag, or indeed the very term “Macedonia”) proved a sore point in Macedonian-Greek relations in the mid-1990s.
This should not be misconstrued as a phenomenon limited to Southeastern Europe. Note, for example, the continuing debate within France over what Joan of Arc “stands for” in French history, claimed variously by monarchists, revolutionaries, liberal democrats, socialists, Vichy France, and more recently by both Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front and its opponents.
With reference to other Bulgarian heroes, Maria Todorova has a forthcoming volume on treatments of Vasil Levski, and her article “‘Public memory’ and the ‘hero’: Vasil Levski (1837–1873–1997),” Nations and Nationalism in East-Central Europe, 1806– 1948: A Festschrift in Honor of Peter Sugar, ed. Sabrina Ramet, et al. (Columbus: Slavica, 1999).

5 E.g., explicitly linking historical events in relation to contemporary socialism in the Balkans. For example, Hristo Andonov-Poljanski, ed., Documents on the Struggle of the Macedonian People for Independence and a Nation-State, 2 vols. (Skopje: Kultura, 1985), includes the memorable chapter title “The People’s Anti-Feudal Liberation Struggle against Byzantium.”

6 On national ideology’s relationship to the writing of history, see the seminal work by Katherine Verdery, National Ideology under Socialism: Identity and Cultural Politics in Ceausescu’s Romania (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), particularly 76, 237–39.

7 Georgi (Gotse) Delchev (1872–1903) was born in Aegean Macedonia, finished secondary school and was a student at the military academy in Sofia until expelled for revolutionary activities in 1894. An IMRO founder and its representative in Sofia for 1896– 1901, he then returned to Vardar Macedonia and was preparing for the Ilinden uprising of 2 August 1903, when killed in May during an encounter with Ottoman troops.

8 Yane Sandanski (1872–1915) was born in Vardar Macedonia and rose to prominence in the IMRO for his major role in the kidnapping and ransoming of the American Ellen Stone in 1901. Although doubtful about the wisdom of the brutally suppressed Ilinden uprising of 1903, he established control of the larger, Macedonian-based “internationalist” faction of the IMRO after the Rila Congress of 1905. His implication in the assassination of IMRO founder Damian Gruev in 1906 and continued opposition to the Sofiabased Supremist faction contributed to his own murder in 1915.

9 For a Bulgarian socialist perspective on the relationship of IMRO figures to their socialist contemporaries, note Veselin Hadzhinikolov, Liubomir Panaiatov et al., eds., Istoriia na blagoevgradskata okruzhna organizatsiia na BKP (Sofia: Partizdat, 1979). For a Macedonian view, see Hristo Andonov-Poljanski, “Ilinden 1903,” Macedonian Review 13:3 (1983) or Michael Radin, IMRO and the Macedonian Question, 1893–1934 (Skopje: Kultura, 1993). For a critical perspective regarding the revolutionary ideology of IMRO, see Duncan Perry, The Politics of Terror: The Macedonian Liberation Movements, 1893–1903 (Durham, N. C.: Duke University Press, 1988).

10 The Bulgarian government continued to retain aspects of “Macedonianization” in the Pirin region well into the 1950s, on its own terms. See Veselin Angelov, “Politikata na BKP po makedonskiia vupros, Iuli 1948–1956 g.,” Istoricheski Pregled 52: 5 (1986), 83–107. A first-hand Bulgarian account of this political maneuvering is Tsola Dragoicheva, Takava e istinata (Sofia: Partizdat, 1981).

11 For an overview, see Evangelos Kofos, Nationalism and Communism in Macedonia: Civil Conflict, Politics of Mutation, National Identity (New Rochelle, N. Y.: Aristide D. Caratzas, 1993); Stephen Palmer and Robert King, Yugoslav Communism and the Macedonian Question (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Press, 1971); and Paul Shoup, Communism and the Yugoslav National Question (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968).

12 The best survey, if not covering the entire period, is Stefan Troebst, Die bulgarisch-jugoslawische Kontroverse um Makedonien, 1967–1982 (Munich: Südost-Institut, 1983); the Macedonian edition (Skopje: Institut za natsionalna istorija, 1997) is used here, 53.

13 King and Palmer, 153–54.

14 Initially, in the 1940s, the nineteenth century served as the starting point for the Macedonian nation, but this was later pushed back in time to encompass the medieval empire of Tsar Samuil, the lives of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, and the Slavic migrations into the Balkans. Stefan Troebst, “IMRO + 100 = FYROM? The politics of Macedonian historiography,” in James Pettifer, ed., The New Macedonian Question (London: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1999), 63. Also note the first volume of Documents on the Struggle of the Macedonian People, which uses the same pattern.

15 Andonov-Poljanski, 241.

16 Kofos, 159.

17 Nikola Minchev, “The Ideals of Gotse Delchev are Built into the Macedonia of Today,” Macedonian Review 2: 2 (1972), 148–50.

18 James Krapfl provides a statistical analysis of such in “The Ideals of Ilinden: Uses of Memory and Nationalism in Socialist Macedonia,” Institute on East Central Europe, Columbia University, CIAO web edition.

19 E.g., Ivan Karadzhiev, Vreme na Zreenje: Makedonskoto natsionalno prashanje megju dvete svetski vojni, (Skopje: Kultura, 1977), 1: 171–75

20 The stress on “falsification” is notable. For example, see “Falsifikatite na bugarskite ‘kriihari’ ne mozhat da go zasenat svetliot lik na Jane Sandanski,” Nova Makedonija, 11 May 1948, 3.

21 Dimitar Mitrev, Pirinska Makedonija vo borba za natsionanlo osloboduvanje (Skopje: Glavniot odbor na Narodniot Front na Makedonija, 1950); Vasil Jotevski, Natsionalnata afirmatsija na Makedontsite vo Pirinskiot del na Makedonija 1944–1948 (Skopje: Institut za natsionalna istorija, 1966)

22 Naum Kaichev and Ivanka Nedeva, “IMRO Groupings in Bulgaria After the Second World War,” in James Pettifer, ed., The New Macedonian Question (London: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1999).

23 Shoup, 152.

24 Indeed, placing them on a par with Dimitur Blagoev, for whom Gorna Dzhumaia was renamed as Blagoevgrad in 1950—though Blagoevgrad was both larger and the district capital.

25 Tsentralen Durzhaven Arhiv (TsDA), fond 1b, op. 6, a.e. 1 801, l. 15–16 (on Ilinden), 5–13 (list of national heroes). Ilinden was noted on other occasions as well, e.g., a.e. 472, l 10–11; a.e. 5 102, l. 73.

26 The regional newspaper Pirinsko Delo, for example, regularly published articles on Macedonian history (particularly on Delchev and Sandanski) throughout the 1950s and early 1960s during the period of “taboo.” Or, for example, the monograph by Khrum Hristov, Gotse Delchev (Sofia, 1955),

27 For example, Petur Georgiev, “Kak se falshifitsira istoriiata,” Pirinsko Delo,8 January 1958, 3–4. The Central Committee of the Politburo on rare occasions protested Yugoslav portrayals of history—for example, on treatments of Bulgaria’s role in the First World War. TsDA f. 1b, op 6, a.e. 3 341

28 Dino Kiosev, ed., Gotse Delchev: Pisma i drugi materiali (Sofia: BAN, 1967); Liuben Tolev, “Bulgarskata Istoricheska nauka i patriotichnoto vuspitanie,” Istoricheski Pregled 26: 1 (1968), 131–83; Iordan Vanchev, Apostoli na Bulgarskata Svoboda (Sofia: Narodna Mladezh, 1981); Dimitur Gotsev, Ideiata za avtonomiia kato taktika v programite na natsionalno-osvoboditelnoto dvizhenie v Makedoniia i Odrinsko, 1893–1941 (Sofia: BAN, 1983).

29 The motivations for this turn to nationalism are unclear, although economic difficulties may have encouraged it. For some suggestions regarding the pressures the BCP felt about Minorities at home, see John D. Bell, “The ‘Revival Process’: The Turkish and Pomak Minorities in Bulgarian Politics,” in Thanasis D. Sfikas and Christopher Williams, eds., Ethnicity and Nationalism in East Central Europe and the Balkans (Aldershot: Ashate Publishing Ltd., 1999), 242–245.

30 Liudmila Zhivkova, “Uvereno i dostoino kum budeshteto na Bulgariia,” Istoricheski Pregled 47: 2 (1981), 16

31 Iordan Vanchev, Apostoli na bulgarskata svoboda (Sofia: Narodna Mladezh, 1981), 64.

32 Ivan Aleksandrov, Za novo mislene i nov podhod po niakoi vuprosi ot bulgarskata istoriia: protiv oburkvane na poniatiiata po bulgarskiia natsionalen vupros (Sofia:Kulturen dom “Vladimir Poptomov,” 1988).

33 Troebst, ibid.

34 Sarafov was a leader in the Ilinden uprising, but unacceptable for his Bulgarophile views (including the goal of uniting Macedonia with Bulgaria). Metodij Shatorov was the head of the (Vardar) Macedonian Provincial Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party during the start of the Second World War, but fell out with Tito when he sought to align Macedonian Communists to the Bulgarian Communist Party. Metodij Antonov-Chento was the president of the presidium of ASNOM; for pushing too strongly for autonomy he fell from power and was for a time erased from official history, although he was later rehabilitated during the Communist period.

35 Brown, 155–62, notes the strength of the debate in the 1990s.

36 Brown, 147–48, 170n.

37 Both in new works and in new editions of older ones. For example, Dimitar Dimeski, Gotse Delchev (Skopje: Matitsa makedonska, 1994); Ivan Katarjiev, Istorija na Makedonskiot Narod: Makedonija megu Balkanskite i Vtorata svetska vojna (Skopje: Institut za natsionalna istorija, 2000), part of a new five-volume history of the Macedonian people; Vasil Jotevski, Nationalnata afirmatsija na makedontsite vo pirinskiot del na Makedonija, 1944–1948 (Skopje: Institut za natsionalna istorija, 1996).

38 Opposition by the Greek government to the country’s name led to the use of the term “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” by most governments and international organizations—including both the United States and the United Nations.

39 Given the importance of IMRO in Macedonian history as argued here, the plethora of Macedonian parties that have claimed the name after 1991 should come as no surprise. IMRO: Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity is the largest, but others have included IMRO: Democratic Party, IMRO: Fatherland Party, IMRO: Macedonian National Democratic League, IMRO: United, IMRO: Movement for Restoration of Macedonian, and IMRO: True Macedonian Reform Option.

40 Speech by president of Macedonia Boris Trajkovski to the émigré United Macedonian Organization of Canada at “Gotse Delchev Night,” 5 February 2000. [http://www.unitedmacedonians.org/activities/trajkovski_eng.html] (Viewed 8 June 2002).

41 The continued state use of this Macedonian national ideology, however, was a source of complaint for minorities in the Republic in the 1990s, who saw this as a part of a tendency to a “national” rather than a “civic” state in which all nationalities were equal. The second half of the 1990s saw a partial retreat from the more overt use of IMRO as a national symbol by the state, although its use continued by ethnic Macedonian political parties.

42 As well as work that borders on apologia for less savory actions of IMRO, such as Mitre Stamenov, Atentatut v Marsiliia (Sofia: Izdanie na VMRO–SMD, 1993).

43 I am particularly indebted to Angel Angelov for his comments on this point in conversations with the author.

44 Thomas Meininger, “A Troubled Transition: Bulgarian Historiography, 1989– 1994,” Contemporary European History 5: 1 (1996), 113–14.

45 Among them, note the four-volume history produced jointly by the Macedonian National Institute and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Natsionalno-osvoboditelnoto dvizhenie na makedonskite i trakiiskite bulgari, 1878–1944, v chetiri toma (Sofia: Akademichno izdatelstvo “Marin Drinov,” 1994), and Dimitur Gotsev and Dimitur Michev, eds., 100 godini Vutreshna Makedono-Odrinska revoliutsionna organizatsiia (Sofia: Makedonski nauchen institut, 1994). More critical are Kostadin Paleshutski, Makedonskoto osvoboditelno dvizhenie, 1924–1934 (Sofia: Akademichno izdatelstvo “Marin Drinov,” 1998); Veselin Angelov, Khronika na edno natsionalno predatelstvo: Opitite za nasilstveno denatsionalizirane na Pirinska Makedoniia (1944–1949 g.) (Blageovgrad: Izd. “Neofit Rilski, 1999); and Dimitur Tiulekov, Obrecheno rodoliobie: VMRO v Pirinsko 1919–1934 (Blagoevgrad; Universitetsko izdatelstvo “Neofit Rilski,” 2001).
Also worth noting are reviews of books released in Macedonia and other countries; for example, the three reviews in Makedonski Pregled 24: 1 (2001).

46 Bozhidar Dimitrov, Desette luzhi na makedonizma (Sofia: Izdatel “ANIKO,” 2000). Although the work is not scholarly in nature—indeed, it seems deliberately inflammatory—Dimitrov himself is the head of the National Museum of History. Most “popular histories” are drier fare: e.g., the three-volume Makedoniia: Istoria i politicheska sudba, ed. P. Petrov et. al. (Sofia: Izdatelstvo “Znanie,” 1998).

47 As suggested by the Bulgarian Academy of Science’s “National Doctrine for the Twenty-First Century” of 1997, which stressed the presence of Bulgarian minorities in all neighboring states—a point seen as provocative in Macedonia.

48 Note, for example, the critical review of Desette luzhi by Chavdar Marinov, “Za luzhite na Makedonizma i mitovete za Bulgarshtinata v Makedoniia,” Kritika i Humanizum 12: 3 (2001).

49 See the pamphlet by Decho Dobrinov, Todor Aleksandrov: Legendarniat vodach na VMRO (Sofia: Znanie, 1994), part of the “Pantheon of the Bulgarian Government and Culture” series. Aleksandrov, viewed as a Bulgarian patriot and anti-Communist of Macedonian origin, perhaps can be drawn upon more easily than Delchev’s more ambiguous national and ideological preferences. As a figure suppressed during the Communist period he also can represent a break with that period.

50 The repeated vandalization of the Sandanski monument (reportedly by members of IMRO–UMS) underscores the bitterness of this debate.

51 The Macedonian Information Liaison Service report of 21 April 1995, regarding the decision by the city of Melnik to allow a celebration by Ilinden on the 80th anniversary of Yane Sandanski’s death, reported that Bulgarian Public Prosecutor Ivan “Tatarchev, formerly a member of IMRO–UMS, told an A1 Television reporter that the Bulgarian Government is making a wrong move, [sic] as Sandanski is no part of Bulgarian history.”

52 Although academia, too, is turning to the internet to state its position. Note the on-line “virtual exhibition” of the State Archive of Macedonia touching on, among other things, IMRO and the Macedonians of the Pirin region. Slava Nikolovska, project leader, “Macedonia through the Centuries,” Archive of Macedonia and Open Society Institute of Macedonia, 1998. http://www.soros.org.mk/archive/index.htm] (20 March 2002).

53 Note the critique of Western theories of nation formation in Ivelin Sardamov, “Mandate of History: War, Ethnic Conflict and Nationalism in the South Slav Balkans,” unpublished dissertation, University of Notre Dame, 1998, 24–25. For that matter, the use of historical symbols in the United States and Western Europe is just as manipulative.

54 Note Anthony Smith’s theories about the importance of “myth of descent” in nationalism. As such, Delchev, Sandanski and other figures represent the deeds of grandfathers and great-grandfathers, and are important on a personal level as well. Anthony D. Smith, The Ethnic Origins of Nations (Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, Inc., 1995).

55 Or, rather, that “objective proofs” are chiefly significant when they can trigger a Kuhnian shift, and allow for a change in historiography that allows a figure to become a national hero, or allows an existing hero to be removed.

Table des illustrations

Légende 50 denar stamp commemorating Gotse Delchev, issued 1994
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/2424/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 145k
Légende 40 denar outsize stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Ilinden uprising, issued 1993
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/2424/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 82k
Légende 10 denar banknote, illustrated on the reverse with the Krushevo Monument to the Ilinden uprising, issued 1993 30 denar outsize stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Ilinden uprising, issued 1993
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/2424/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 172k

Auteur

James Frusetta is aPh.D. candidate in history at the University of Maryland, College Park; his doctoral dissertation is a study of intersections between Bulgarian and Macedonian identity. He has taught at the American University in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria.

© Central European University Press, 2006

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540