Macedonians of America Series (Books)

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  • Dejan
    Member
    • Sep 2008
    • 590

    #16
    Great work Vic
    You want Macedonia? Come and take it from my blood!

    A prosperous, independent and free Macedonia for Macedonians will be the ultimate revenge to our enemies.

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    • Liberator of Makedonija
      Senior Member
      • Apr 2014
      • 1597

      #17
      Might have to get this one as well Vic, sounds interesting. Great stuff as usual though.
      I know of two tragic histories in the world- that of Ireland, and that of Macedonia. Both of them have been deprived and tormented.

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      • Liberator of Makedonija
        Senior Member
        • Apr 2014
        • 1597

        #18
        Vic, can you tell us anything about Stoyan Christowe? There's an original copy of 'Heroes and Assassins' floating around for $100 and sparked my interest. His English wikipedia article claims he originally considered the terms Macedonian and Bulgarian interchangable?
        I know of two tragic histories in the world- that of Ireland, and that of Macedonia. Both of them have been deprived and tormented.

        Comment

        • vicsinad
          Senior Member
          • May 2011
          • 2337

          #19
          Originally posted by Liberator of Makedonija View Post
          Vic, can you tell us anything about Stoyan Christowe? There's an original copy of 'Heroes and Assassins' floating around for $100 and sparked my interest. His English wikipedia article claims he originally considered the terms Macedonian and Bulgarian interchangable?
          I have a signed copy of that book -- probably paid around $140 if I remember correctly. I also have most of his other books. I lived in Vermont for several years and he was a representative/senator in Vermont in the 60s/70s, so it wasn't terribly difficult to get his books.

          Christowe did refer to himself as a Bulgarian in certain contexts, but he didn't use the terms Bulgarian and Macedonian interchangeably. It was generally when he was trying to distinguish between groups of people who identified with different churches or languages.

          His thinking changed a lot in the late 1930s and 1940s. He wrote several articles, during World War II and after, about how the Macedonians finally had their own language, nation, and etc. after decades of struggle. He was disenchanted with the MPO, Mihailov's VMRO, and Bulgaromani, and especially with the fascists and the events leading up to and during the Second World War.

          He reminds me a lot of Reverend David Nakoff, in the sense that they only referred to themselves as Bulgarians because that's how others referred to them and they never took pride in being Bulgarian. They didn't necessarily or consistently refer to a Bulgarian culture or ethnicity; even when they would call themselves Bulgarians in certain contexts, they would still speak of the Macedonian nation and the Macedonian people. Clearly, they were experiencing an awakening and shaking off the past propaganda and myth that Macedonians were Bulgarian. I've read much of Christowe's books and articles (he was a journalist) from the 1920s through the 1970s. It's interesting to see the transition. Part of it is the concept of ethnicity really didn't make sense to Balkan peoples during the late 1800s and early 1900s when who you were was really defined by what Church you belonged to or what language you spoke. Obviously, Macedonians failed to codify their own language and get a church until the 1940s due to the competing propagandas, so thus you have the Bulgarian descriptive hanging over them. Once the idea of ethnicity took root, that really helped the Macedonian cause because that was something beyond church and language affiliation.
          Last edited by vicsinad; 04-16-2020, 09:23 PM.

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          • Liberator of Makedonija
            Senior Member
            • Apr 2014
            • 1597

            #20
            Very interesting, so even in the early days Christowe was still first and foremost a Macedonian who did not associate himself with the Bulgarian state?
            I know of two tragic histories in the world- that of Ireland, and that of Macedonia. Both of them have been deprived and tormented.

            Comment

            • vicsinad
              Senior Member
              • May 2011
              • 2337

              #21
              I've never read anything from Christowe being pro-Bulgaria. From what I remember, he never referred to Bulgaria as his homeland or country. He referred to Bulgaria as a foreign place.

              Here are two very vital excerpts from This Is My Country (published 1938):

              "When I filled out my passport application in Washington, I instinctively put down Macedonia as the place of my birth. After I did that I thought the State Department would make an issue of it and insist that I give a country that existed as an independent state, for Macedonia has not been one since the time of Alexander the Great. Parts of it were now under Greece, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria; a small strip of it under Albania. Most likely through inadvertence, certainly not through lack of knowledge, the State Department made out my passport with Macedonia as my birthplace. And accordingly I could enter any of the four sections of Macedonia. [...] I knew the name of every town we passed, even though the Greeks had Hellenized their Slavic, or Turkish names."

              "At this time the Macedonian Bulgars had a powerful influence in Bulgaria. The prime minister was a Macedonian, born within a short distance from where I was born. Nine out of the eleven Bulgarian minister-plenipotentiary to foreign countries were Macedonian-born. The Macedonian Bulgars had spun themselves so inextricably into the fabric of Bulgarian life that the foremost person in nearly every field of activity was likely to be a Macedonian, or at least part Macedonian...The Macedonians now took possession of me as their own special gifted child returned from another world as they opened their hearts and their houses to me.They saw something providential in my being an American writer and they believed that I would do something by way of aiding the old cause of Macedonian independence, which they pursued with great zeal.They heaped honors on me and feted me and took me into the mountains of Macedonia to meet Ivan Michailoff...Out of this also, and of my subsequent association with Michailoff's comitadjis and terrorists, among whom was the future assassin of King Alexander of Yugoslavia, grew my book 'Heroes and Assassins," which was a great disappointment to the Macedonians. My revolutionary hosts repented for having given me their hearts and wished they had given me poison instead. They expected me to be a Macedonian first, a writer and an American afterward."

              There are of course other instances in this book where Macedonian/Bulgarian are mentioned. But never did he express any attachment to Bulgaria or never did he look to Bulgaria as his homeland. It's important to look at the context.

              Forty years later, he wrote The Eagle and the Stork, a memoir. Here, his Macedonianism is rampant and there's hardly a mention of Bulgaria/Bulgarian. Reading these two books really show his evolution on thinking and identity.

              Comment

              • Liberator of Makedonija
                Senior Member
                • Apr 2014
                • 1597

                #22
                I am so glad to read that he acknowledged Bulgarian and Albanian occupation at a time I feel many Macedonian writers ignored.

                As for his references to us as "Macedonian Bulgars", I would say this is likely a result of the millet system trying to be explained in liberal democracy: The US concept of nationality was something that Macedonains had at that time little understanding of, and so I can understand how, when asked to state their nationality/identity, some Macedonians referred to themselves as "Macedonian Bulgarians". I see this as an emphasis that whilst being Macedonian, they are not the same as the "Macedonian Romanians" or the "Macedonian Muslims/Turks" for example. It's all the legacy of a system of identity based soley on religious affiliation. I would say this is why it took some time to completely expunge the Bulgarian label within those early emmigrant communities. Perhaps the reason Christowe removed the label completely from his works from the 1940s onwards was because a Macedonian state then existed to clarify our identity, and therefore the Bulgarian label could only be used in a manner that expressed allegiance to Sofia?

                Like to get your thoughts on this.
                I know of two tragic histories in the world- that of Ireland, and that of Macedonia. Both of them have been deprived and tormented.

                Comment

                • vicsinad
                  Senior Member
                  • May 2011
                  • 2337

                  #23
                  I think that's fair. There may be more to it, though. Macedonians like Christowe always felt that Macedonians were their own people or race -- those concepts were known and understood outside the scope of nationality. But in general I think you summed it up well.

                  This is an excerpt by Christowe from 1953, in the Calgary Herald:

                  "Until eight years ago, the Macedonians were a people but not a nation; they had a homeland, but not a country; and they spoke a distinct Slavic tongue which never had been recognized as a language...The history of Macedonia was one of foreign oppression, terror and assassination. …

                  One of the foremost steps in the welding of the people into a nation is a new literary language. Macedonian scholars and writers are making extensive study of their tongue, and are giving the language a structure sharply distinguishing it from the kindred South Slavic tongues. Macedonia may now attempt to press claims against Greece and Bulgaria for the sections of the country now under their jurisdiction in an attempt to unite the entire Macedonian race into a republic. This was in fact the case from 1945 until Yugoslavia was expelled from the Cominform in 1948; with the Macedonian district of Bulgaria little more than an extension of the Macedonian republic. …

                  There is agitation on the part of Cominform neighbors to sever the republic from the Yugoslav body politic to be united with the parts under Greece and Bulgaria into an integral independent unit in the Balkan federation of soviet republics; but a plan such as this would not aid the republic, and would simply turn the clock back, leaving the Macedonian people where they were ten years ago."

                  So, yes, having their own country meant the Macedonians were their own nationality. Still, if you read closely, Christowe refers to how Macedonians were always their own people and had their own language, just they were never recognized.

                  Comment

                  • Liberator of Makedonija
                    Senior Member
                    • Apr 2014
                    • 1597

                    #24
                    Very clear then, don't think there's anyway to twist that.
                    I know of two tragic histories in the world- that of Ireland, and that of Macedonia. Both of them have been deprived and tormented.

                    Comment

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