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Old 04-09-2010, 01:46 AM   #1
Mikail
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Chento Versus Kolishevski: Battle Over History
By Sasha Uzunov
(Melbourne & Skopje)
September, 2003

Macedonia is a funny country! It honours a man, Metodija Andonov-Chento, who was falsely imprisoned for his belief in an independent Macedonia. It also honours a man, Lazar Kolishevski, who falsely imprisoned Chento!

Last year, a monument to Kolishevski was unveiled in the town of Sveti Nikole, his birthplace, and has opened up a historical can of worms.

Chento, a non-communist Partizan, who became Macedonia's first president in 1946 within federal communist Yugoslavia, believed in a united and independent Macedonia. His main political adversary at the time was Lazar Kolishevski, communist party boss and a close confidante of Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslavia's then ruler.

Chento and Kolishevski strongly disagreed over many things including the decision to use Macedonian Partizans in the controversial battle of Srem, near the end of World War II. Chento wanted the Macedonian Partizans for the liberation of Aegean and Pirin Macedonia, then under Greek and Bulgarian occupation. Kolishevski and Svetozar Vukmanovic-Tempo, Tito's Montenegrin emissary to Macedonia, pressured the Macedonian High Command into sending the troops to Srem in Northern Serbia to fight the retreating Germans in 1945. Kolishevski ordered the illegal execution of thousands of Macedonian Partizans who refused to deploy to Srem.

Apologists for Tito and Kolishevski have claimed that an armed uprising in Aegean and Pirin Macedonia was futile. However, British government documents have revealed that wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill conceded to his Foreign Secretary, Sir Anthony Eden that if the Macedonian Partizans in 1944 were to take the Aegean region of Greece no one would be able to stop them.

During the Greek Civil War (1946-49) and the offset of the Cold War, Tito actively intervened in Aegean Macedonia and thereby reversed his earlier policy. But his intervention proved disastrous, as the US and Britain had already taken control of Greece. Thousands of Macedonian refugees were forced to flee from the Aegean region. Many to this day have not been able to return to Greece.

By 1948, Chento was removed from power and later imprisoned on trumped up charges instigated by Tito and Kolishevski. One of the judges during the show trial was Kole Chasule, the father of Slobodan Chasule, Macedonia's Foreign Minister under the VMRO-DMPNE government (1998-2002); the prosecutor, Lazar Mojsov, who later became communist Yugoslavia's foreign minister.

Chento died in the late 1950s because of poor health. In 1990, a Macedonian court had overturned Chento's conviction and he was posthumously rehabilitated. In September 1991, Macedonia became independent from Yugoslavia, and there was talk of Kolishevski, Mojsov and Chasule being put on trial for treason. Because of political pressure from the then government, made up of reformed communists, the public prosecutors office was pressured into not taking any action.

Kolishevski and Cashule were allowed to die peacefully in retirement, whilst Mojsov is in Serbia. As yet, no Macedonian government has ever asked for the extradition of Mojsov to stand trial. Chento's remaining family has asked the current Macedonian government for compensation.

In 1946, Kolishevski handed over to Serbia a few Macedonian villages, including the Prohor Pchinski Monastery, where the Macedonian republic was proclaimed on 2 August 1944. Because of Kolishevski's legacy, Macedonia is probably the only country in the world that is forced to celebrate its founding as a nation on technically foreign territory.

Ten years later, he gave to Kosovo the Gora region, which contains a large Muslim Macedonian population, known as the Gorans
.
Sasha Uzunov is a freelance photojournalist an ex-Australian soldier who completed two peacekeeping tours of East Timor.
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From the village of Pípezhani, Tashko Popov, Dimitar Popov-Skenderov and Todor Trpenov were beaten and sentenced to 12 years prison. Pavle Mevchev and Atanas Popov from Vrbeni and Boreshnica joined them in early 1927, they were soon after transferred to Kozhani and executed. As they were leaving Lerin they were heard to shout "With our death, Macedonia will not be lost. Our blood will run, but other Macedonians will rise from it"
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Old 04-09-2010, 02:00 AM   #2
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The Battle of Srem: Sixty Years On
By Sasha Uzunov
(Melbourne & Skopje)
January, 2005

The Ilinden Uprising of 1903 was an unsuccessful attempt to free Macedonia of five hundred years of Turkish Ottoman occupation. Despite being a failure, many historians regard the rebellion as laying the foundations of a future independent Macedonian nation-state. Another event with significant importance, though not given as much attention as Ilinden, is the controversial Battle of Srem.

January 2005 marks the 60th anniversary of the controversial battle of Srem in north-east Serbia. Thousands of Macedonian Partizans were sacrificed against retreating Germans at the Srem Front during the last days of World War Two. Some have argued that Srem represents Macedonia's betrayal by Yugoslav Communist ruler, Josip Broz Tito, and the sabotage of the movement for an independent and unified Macedonia.

In 1913, a decade after Ilinden, the Ottoman Turks were eventually kicked out of Macedonia, but unfortunately for the Macedonians, their nation was divided amongst Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece. At the end of World War I, Albania received a slice-albeit a small piece of Macedonia.

In between the two World Wars, Macedonians in all four parts were denied the right to their own ethnic identity. So it came as no surprise that a movement for the reunification and independence of Macedonia sprung up during World War Two. Macedonians living under Serbo-Yugoslav occupation formed a Partizan movement, under the guidance of a united front consisting of communists and nationalists.

Ironically, on 2 August 1944, the People's Republic of Macedonia, the part known as Vardar Macedonia that had been under Serbian domination since 1913, was proclaimed at the ASNOM Conference (Anti-fascist Council for the National Liberation of Macedonia), held at the Prohor Pcinski monastery. ASNOM delegates elected Metodija Andonov-Cento, a non-communist Partizan from Prilep, as Macedonia's first president. Cento's goal was to create a reunified Macedonia, either fully independent or as a republic within the new communist federal Yugoslavia.

He wanted to use the Macedonian Partizans for the liberation of Aegean and Pirin Macedonia, the areas under Greek and Bulgarian occupation respectively. But Tito, Svetozar Vukmanovic-Tempo, Montenegrin-Serb communist and Tito's envoy to Macedonia, and Lazar Kolisevski, the pro-Tito boss of the Macedonian Communist Party, were opposed to Cento's plan. They wanted the Partizan units for the Srem campaign, which began in October 1944.

Cento and Tempo argued bitterly over the issue. Cento told Tempo: "the units must liberate Macedonia, and if they're sent to Serbia, what will the Macedonian people say?" Tempo responded: "there's no battle of survival here in Vardar Macedonia!" Cento added: "if there is no battle of survival here, there surely is one in Aegean and Pirin."

Cento, together with Kuzman Josifoski-Pitu, Macedonian Communist hero, and General Mihajlo Apostolski, led the Partizan units into Aegean Macedonia on December 5, 1943. There, Cento's army engaged the Germans in heavy fighting. A few weeks later Cento arrived in Salonika. Then his army reached eastern Macedonia and fought the pro-Axis Bulgarian forces. The objective of the mission was to lay the foundation for a national uprising in all occupied parts of Macedonia. Three months later, Cento and the Partizan force returned for the ASNOM conference.

Vera Aceva, female Partizan leader, described Cento's long march as an outstanding example of heroism. "Cento is very popular with the people." But in 1946, under the direction of Tito and Kolisevski, Cento was sentenced to 11 years hard labour for crimes against the people. Two of the judges in the show trial were Kola Casule, who now promotes himself as a writer/ philosopher, and Lazar Mojsov, later to become Yugoslav Foreign minister and now living in retirement in Belgrade, Serbia.

In 1990 A Macedonian court overturned Cento's conviction and he was fully rehabilitated. No criminal proceedings were ever launched against Kolisevski, who died in peaceful retirement in 2000, or Casule and Mojsov. In 1993 ex-political prisoners lobbied the Public Prosecutors office to launch an investigation into a number of Macedonia's Communist ruling elite. But intense pressure from then ruling Social Democrats stopped the investigation. Staff from the Prosecutors office was instructed not to open up a can of historical worms.

Stevce Pavlovski, then Macedonia's Public Prosecutor, said in interview in March 1993, that he would have to put "fifty per cent of Macedonia's old Communist in jail for treason. For that reason, no such investigation would take place." When the self-styled nationalist party VMRO-DPMNE came to power in 1998 it also kept quiet about the issue, especially when the son of Kole Casule, Slobodan, became Foreign minister.

By September 1944, the Germans had retreated from Greece, Aegean, Vardar and Pirin Macedonia; and by October the British had entered Athens. The Germans were bottled-up in northeastern Yugoslavia, which is the Srem region in Serbia. Srem was seen as the last stand in the Balkans.

Winston Churchill, British wartime Prime Minister, wanted to preserved British influence in Greece, including Aegean Macedonia. On 12 August, 1944, he warned Tito not to annex Aegean Macedonia, but conceded in a telegram to his Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, that "it will be difficult to stop."

A Macedonian Partizan brigade was dispatched to Aegean but, according to Dusan Biber, Slovenian historian and former partisan, on "12 December, 1944, Marshal Tito gave strict orders to the Macedonian Headquarters not to permit the return of the Macedonian brigade to Greece, which would have caused an international scandal." This indicates Tito obeyed Churchill's directive.

Macedonia had its own Partizan army (NOVM) but it was forcibly merged with Tito's National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia (NOVJ) in October 1944. Those who refused to serve with NOVJ were executed or imprisoned. Therefore, a distinction must be made between "Yugoslav" and Macedonian Partizans, as they were independent of each other until Tito's takeover of the latter.

NOVJ was a 500,000 strong Partizan army, which consisted of 18 army corps (korpus) or 50 divisions. One hundred thousand were Serbs; the other 400,000 non-Serbs. NOVJ was made up of the following formations: the Macedonian 15th and 16th Army Corps, and the Bregalnica-Strumicko Corps; Montenegrin and Hercegovian 2nd Corps; Bosnian 3rd and 5th Corps; Croatian 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th and 11th Corps; and the Slovenian 7th and 9th Corps. The Serbs formed the First Army Group within NOVJ (1st and 12th Proletarian Corps, 13th and 14th Corps)

The 400,000 non-Serbian Partizans are broken down into the following categories:
Macedonians - 3 Corps: 88,500
Montenegrin - 1 Corps: 29,500
Bosnians - 2 Corps: 59,000
Croats - 5 Corps: 147,500
Slovenians - 2 Corps: 59,000
Other - (Hungarians, Albanians, Italians etc): 16,500

These statistics are based on the book Sremski Front 1944-45, by Milovan Dzelebdzic, Ljubivoje Pajovic and Dusan Uzelac, Beogradski Izdavacko Zavod, Belgrade, Serbia, 1979.

The figure of 88,500 indicates that the Macedonians were a major part of NOVJ. NOVJ fought the Axis occupiers, Germany, Italy, and Bulgaria, and their collaborators, Serbian Chetniks, Croatian Ustashe, Slovenian Domobrans, and Albanian Ballists.

The Srem campaign got underway in October 1944, and in January 1945 the Macedonian 15th Army Corps entered the fray. This means 29,500 Macedonians were sent to Srem. However, critics of Tito maintain the figure was higher and should include those diverted to Bosnia and Croatia to mop up Axis resistance, and those executed for refusing to serve at Srem. Only an impartial commission of inquiry can discover the true figure. No Macedonian governments-since independence from Yugoslavia in 1991-have responded to calls for such an inquiry.

Mitre, 82, is a Macedonian Srem veteran now living in Melbourne. He said he was told that he would be marching to liberate Solun (Salonika). "Instead, we were tricked, and sent to Srem to fight the retreating Germans. We were used as cannon fodder."

Tase, 76, said he was in Skopje in 1944 working as a tailor's apprentice but was too young to go into the army. "I remember thousands of men singing and dancing like it was a wedding feast (svadba). They were euphoric about going to Solun. But the commanding officers that were mainly Serbs and pro-Yugoslav communist Macedonians rounded them up and sent them against their will to Srem. They were herded like cattle into train carriages."

Jonce, another Srem veteran, begins to shake and tears roll down his face as he recalls his wartime experiences. "I was very lucky. A relative of mine, who knew the truth, told me to keep my mouth shut about going to Solun. Some of my friends, who put their hands up to go there, were taken away and shot. I still have nightmares about it."

Milovan Djilas, Montenegrin Marxist and partisan officer, wrote in his memoirs, Wartime, that Aleksandar Rankovic-Leka, with Tito's approval, ran the Srem campaign. Rankovic, a Serb, was expelled from the Yugoslav Communist Party (SKJ) in 1966 for abusing his position as director of UDBa, the secret police. He also opposed the creation of an independent Macedonian Orthodox Church, and orchestrated a ruthless crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in the early 1960s.

According to Djilas, "Srem was the greatest and bloodiest battle our army (NOVJ) ever fought.Yet it was that battle, that breakthrough, which has been most criticised even from participants: essentially, that all the fighting was superfluous because the Germans were collapsing, and the new (communist) government was already established in Belgrade." Djilas, who later fell out of favour with Tito, was in favour of the Battle of Srem because it "aided the Yugoslav revolution" but the opportunity for Macedonian reunification was lost-probably for ever.

Many are quick to point out that Tito was bound by the 'Big Three Agreement' at Yalta not to encroach upon the British sphere of influence in Aegean Macedonia. However, during the Greek Civil War (1946-49), Tito supported the Aegean Macedonian Partizans (SNOF) against the British and US-backed Greek Monarchists. Therefore, Tito broke the Yalta agreement. Josif Stalin, Soviet dictator, also opposed Tito's intervention.

Some historians have argued that Tito thwarted Macedonian reunification in 1944, because a strong Macedonia would have seceded from the Yugoslav federation; but advocated Macedonian reunification during the Greek Civil War in order to provoke a split with Stalin. The Yugoslav Communist leader used the Macedonian question as a pawn in his diplomatic game. Djilas points out that Tito used a similar trick with the Slovenians over the city of Trieste, which was in Italian hands. Tito threatened to annex Trieste for Slovenia, but was bluffing in order to squeeze concessions from the British and Americans after the Second World War.

In 1949 Yugoslavia broke away from Moscow's orbit, and Britain and the US came to Tito's assistance. He, in return for western support, pulled out of the Greek Civil War and closed the border with Greece. There were instances of Macedonian border guards being forced to shoot ethnic Macedonia refugees and partisans from Aegean. Those who were not shot drowned themselves in Lake Prespa to avoid capture and certain death at the hands of the Greek Monarchist forces. But before the frontier was sealed, over 20,000 Aegean Macedonian children (deca begalci) managed to flee into the Vardar Macedonia and Eastern Europe. Some eventually found their way to Canada, and Australia.

Sasha Uzunov is a freelance photo-journalist and ex-Australian soldier who did 2 tours of peacekeeping duty in East Timor
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From the village of Pípezhani, Tashko Popov, Dimitar Popov-Skenderov and Todor Trpenov were beaten and sentenced to 12 years prison. Pavle Mevchev and Atanas Popov from Vrbeni and Boreshnica joined them in early 1927, they were soon after transferred to Kozhani and executed. As they were leaving Lerin they were heard to shout "With our death, Macedonia will not be lost. Our blood will run, but other Macedonians will rise from it"
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Old 04-12-2010, 03:02 AM   #3
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Mikail
Great stuff - very interesting reading, it's like we are writing history as we go. The sources of your information are excellent - what better source than someone still alive or having been there!
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Old 04-12-2010, 03:06 AM   #4
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Cheers Mikail.
Sasha uzunov is a journalist, he was an Aussie soldier, is Maco, and has a DVD coming out on TIMOR TOUR OF DUTY....
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Old 04-12-2010, 03:36 AM   #5
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What a terrible set of circumstances that surrounded the re-emergence of the Macedonian state.
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Old 04-12-2010, 03:39 AM   #6
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These articles prove several key facts that the proud Titoists wish to ignore. The Tato of Jugoslavia denied, the Macedonians of the time, to unite.

Winston Churchill himself is quoted as saying nothing can be done to help Greece if the Macedonians retake Salonika.

For the life of me I cannot understand Macedonians in this day and age who do not acknowledge these crucial facts.

Being a military man, Sasha has done a fantastic job in unearthing these Macedonian Truths.

Sasha, I look forward to seeing more of your work!
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From the village of Pípezhani, Tashko Popov, Dimitar Popov-Skenderov and Todor Trpenov were beaten and sentenced to 12 years prison. Pavle Mevchev and Atanas Popov from Vrbeni and Boreshnica joined them in early 1927, they were soon after transferred to Kozhani and executed. As they were leaving Lerin they were heard to shout "With our death, Macedonia will not be lost. Our blood will run, but other Macedonians will rise from it"

Last edited by Mikail; 04-12-2010 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 04-12-2010, 03:49 AM   #7
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Buktop,

You've often defended the Yugoslav regime in the past, would you care to counter these claims about Tito?
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Old 04-12-2010, 08:58 AM   #8
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Isn't it interesting folks that 88,500 Macedonian were sent to the Srem front to defend Serbia! The largest contingent of the "Jugoslav Forces".

These Partizani joined to raise arms against our oppressors. Macedonians were waiting in every village, town & city in Egej and Pirin to join them.

Chento raised an armed force of 88,500 in Vardar. How many more were waiting to join them?

Tito followed Churchill's orders as Macedonian armed force numbers would have swelled to more than 200,000 most likely.

We would have been free in 1944 if it wasn't for some peoples Tato!

The only "Bratsvo" the 88,500 sort was a Macedonian one!

The only "Bratsvo" Macedonians who joined the Greek communist during the Greek Civil War were after was a Macedonian one!
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From the village of Pípezhani, Tashko Popov, Dimitar Popov-Skenderov and Todor Trpenov were beaten and sentenced to 12 years prison. Pavle Mevchev and Atanas Popov from Vrbeni and Boreshnica joined them in early 1927, they were soon after transferred to Kozhani and executed. As they were leaving Lerin they were heard to shout "With our death, Macedonia will not be lost. Our blood will run, but other Macedonians will rise from it"
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Old 04-12-2010, 09:09 AM   #9
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imagine that, a unified Macedonia. We would not be fighting for basic human rights today, the right to speak our language, schools, identity.

there should have been a revolution then. And today we would have had HellAss and Vulgar land by the balls
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Old 04-12-2010, 10:33 AM   #10
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We would have been unified Julie. There would never have been an Egej, Vardar & Pirin.

Tato Tito created those names for our divided land to divide our people.

Shame those who were thrown a little sugar chose never to see the Truth. Now their children fight on in Their dear Tato's name. We have several here.
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From the village of Pípezhani, Tashko Popov, Dimitar Popov-Skenderov and Todor Trpenov were beaten and sentenced to 12 years prison. Pavle Mevchev and Atanas Popov from Vrbeni and Boreshnica joined them in early 1927, they were soon after transferred to Kozhani and executed. As they were leaving Lerin they were heard to shout "With our death, Macedonia will not be lost. Our blood will run, but other Macedonians will rise from it"
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