Anti-Bulgarian trials in 1944-1948

Anti-Bulgarian trials in Vardar and Aegean Macedonia in 1944-1948

After the end of the Second World War, manifested Bulgarians in the so-called "new lands" in Aegean Thrace and Vardar Macedonia, briefly annexed to Bulgaria during the war, were persecuted with the heavy charges of "great-Bulgarian chauvinism". In several cities in Vardar and Aegean Macedonia which were under Bulgarian administration in the period 1941-1944 were set up people's courts, similar to those in Bulgaria, issuing death sentences over clerks and ordinary citizens charged of "great-Bulgarian chauvinism" because of their pro-Bulgarian behavior.

A couple of years later the persecutions and repressions against Bulgarians in Northern Greece were renewed; they were now charged of "communist propaganda" and of being supporters of Marcos's squads, in order to be banished and their Bulgarian national expression suppressed. As a shameful page in modern history here will remain the taking away of thousands of children from their parents in order to be sent abroad and brought up in a "progressive spirit". In this review of the dismal fate of everyone who immediately after the Second World War felt and declared themselves Bulgarians in Aegean and Vardar Macedonia (in Greece and Yugoslavia) should also be mentioned the repressions against the Bulgarians about which Dimitar Gotsev wrote in his book The New Struggle for National Liberation in Vardar Macedonia, where he pointed out that in the first decades after the Second World War over 700 trials were conducted "against active Bulgarians, which then ended with hundreds of death sentences". In his words, in this same period "23,000 people were killed or missing, over 120,000 Bulgarians passed through the jails and prisoner camps of Tito's Yugoslavia, and about 180,000 were banished to Bulgaria and other countries."

The persecutions of the Bulgarians there started even before the end of the Second World War, in the final phase of which Bulgaria participated already as an ally of the anti-Hitler coalition. At the end of 1944 in Vardar Macedonia, which now had the statute of a federal entity in the established Yugoslavian federation, there were mass repressions and massacres of Bulgarians, charged of being "great-Bulgarian chauvinists", "fascists" and "Mihailovists". Trials were initiated against the leading Bulgarian intelligentsia. Through suing and condemning them, as V. Hadjikimov wrote in his memoirs, the new authorities put on trial the Bulgarian history, culture and language in Macedonia. The same people, who until 1941 were under trial in the Serbian courts under the Law on persecution and elimination of bandits, after 1944 were prosecuted under the Law on Macedonian Honor.

On January 7, 1945, when according to the old Bulgarian calendar the great Christian holiday of Christmas was celebrated, in the cities of Skopje, Prilep, Stip, Veles and Kumanovo, in an action of debulgarization of Vardar Macedonia and its transformation into a Serbian outlying district, within the three Christmas days, later called "The Bloody Christmas" were massacred 1260 Macedonian Bulgarians. Only in the period 1945-1946 over 4,700 Bulgarians were massacred or gone missing. Massacres took place in the cities of Prilep, Bitola, Skopje, Veles, Kumanovo, Stip, Kavadartsi, in the villages in Maleshevtsi district, etc. At the same time over 15,000 people were arrested and put in the prisons and camps, for collaborating to the "Bulgarian occupier" and "offence to Macedonian honor". All these, as Dimitar Gotsev stated, were patriotic citizens who didn't want to deny their Bulgarian roots, or participate in the process of "cultivating hatred to Bulgaria as a basic criterion for Macedonian patriotism".

At the court trial of May 28 - June 2, 1947, in Skopje, were sentenced to death three of the most eminent political figures in Macedonia, charged of accepting the "occupation" and of spreading the Bulgarian national spirit among the people of Macedonia in 1941-44. Hundreds of similar sentences were passed and executed in other cities too. Only in Skopje in this period 18 trials were held with 226 defendants, 22 of whom were sentenced to death. In Stip in the same period 7 Bulgarians were sentenced to death, in Prilep - 10, in Veles - 10, in Bitola (only in 1945) - 9.

According to the account by Vasil Hadjikimov from Stip, who spent 10 years in Idrizovo prison, in the period between 1944 and 1980 in Vardar Macedonia there were over 700 political trials against intellectuals and young people, all active Bulgarians, that resulted in hundreds of death sentences. In the same period 23 thousand people were killed or missing.