370 Macedonians Who Died For Freedom
The Greek Civil War of 1946-49 was really two wars: a Civil War between
Greece's right wing monarcho-fascists and left wing communists, and
a second, less well known Liberation War, a Macedonian Freedom War by
a significant portion of the native Macedonian population. These Macedonians
lived in a part of geographic Macedonia that only 30 years earlier in
the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 was conquered by Greece and become first
the "occupied territories" then the "new territories", then "northern
Greece" and "Greek Macedonia".
Whether we call this Liberation War the Macedonian Freedom War, the
Macedonian Freedom Uprising, the Macedonian Freedom Struggle or similar,
its history is still being written. This is happening slowly, as the
Macedonians in Greece remain under Greek control. But it is happening
surely, as new sources of information come to light, new accounts are
written by participants and others caught up in the events, and new
generations of Macedonians are educated and, because they were born
or live outside of Greece, are free to pursue and publish research on
For Sacred National Freedom - Portraits of Fallen Freedom Fighters
will be a new source of information for many people, as this translation
makes the book available for the first time in English. Readers will
quickly see that the book is a cornucopia of information and first hand
accounts about both the Macedonian Freedom War and the Greek Civil War.
But first, the book is a literary memorial - an act of love and respect
- for 370 Macedonians who lost their lives fighting for the freedom
of the Macedonian people, some against the German, Italian and Bulgarian
occupiers during World War Two, most against the monarcho-fascist Greek
Government during the Civil War.
In their Preface, the authors say: "The publication of this book is
the fruit of the collective effort of a number of comrades who have
written recollections on the life and activities of the fallen national
The publication of this book forms a small expression
of respect, not only for the 370 fighters named in this book, but also
for all of the other known and unknown heroes and martyrs who died in
Fortunately, most of the authors who wrote the pen portraits give their
names or initials, as does the artist who drew the 32 excellent pencil
portraits. Unfortunately, little else is known about the book except
that it was written in the Macedonian language as spoken by the native
Macedonians in what since 1912 has been northern Greece, it was published
in August 1962, 13 years after the end of the Civil War and Freedom
Struggle, and that the print run was 3,000 copies. The book appears
to have been distributed to other Macedonian partisans and to families
of the fallen.
Despite the authors' modest description of it as "a small expression
of respect", I believe the book, and this translation, will make an
enormous contribution to many people.
For Macedonians, the giving of the names of 370 men and women who died
for Macedonian freedom is an act of honour that is of immeasurable value
to the families of the fallen and to their fellow freedom fighters then
For Macedonians everywhere, receiving their names and their stories
means they can start to honour these people and their families for their
struggle, their sacrifice, and their ideal of freedom for Macedonians.
For later generations it can offer a window, perhaps in some cases
the only window, on their close relatives or more distant forebears
in their extended families.
Because the Macedonian and Greek communists lost the war, the contribution
of the Macedonians has been written out of or never written in to many
histories of the Greek Civil War. The Macedonians are simply ignored,
or cast euphemistically as "locals" or "communists" fighting for communism.
Such representations are mainly by Greek writers and their sympathetic
western academic cohorts. This book is an antidote to such misleading
or partial histories.
This book clearly shows that where Macedonians were communists or fought
alongside the communists, their overarching motive was freedom for the
Macedonian people, whether through independence from Greece, autonomy
within Greece, or official recognition of the Macedonians as a separate
Communism was not the only ideology among Macedonians of this period.
There were also Macedonian partisans who wanted freedom but did not
ally themselves with the communists or the Greeks, and there were many
Macedonians who did not play an active role or sought to stay outside
the war. In giving us new insights into those Macedonians who fought
with the communists, this book also begs many questions about these
non-communist and non-combative Macedonians; it highlights how much
still remains to be researched and written about the Freedom War.
For historians and general readers, this book contains a wealth of
information about military and political events, skirmishes and battles,
torture, executions, and possible war crimes. It names many of the Greek
government's prisons and islands where communists and Macedonians were
tortured and died. It also gives accounts of several Macedonian villages
where it says Nazi forces committed mass killings.
But there are also many wonderful moments. We see the fighters as children,
as idealistic youths, as poor Macedonian villagers struggling to improve
their lives and the lives of their families, friends and countrymen.
The book also offers something positive for the usually strained political
relations between Macedonians and Greeks evident in both the ancient
and modern eras. In the decades leading up to the Macedonian Freedom
War, Greek government forces killed many thousands of Macedonians in
conquest. In this book we glimpse a rare and short period in history
when a part of the Macedonian people and a part of the Greek people
fought on the same side, together as comrades in arms. The Macedonian
fighters were aware of this historical achievement, even if their idealism
was later shown to be naive and their trust misplaced.
To conclude, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Mr Bill Vlashev,
who made available the original copy of the book that has been translated
here. Mr Vlashev received the book from his cousin, a Macedonian partisan
of the period who died in the Czech Republic in 1995. Mr Vlashev was
himself a Macedonian child refugee of the Civil War and is now president
of the Child Refugees in Sydney.
I also express my sincere thanks to the translator, Ms Elizabeth Kolupacev
Stewart. Ms Stewart has made an outstanding translation, despite numerous
difficulties such as the text being based on the language spoken at
the time, dialectical influences including the dialects of the various
authors, and many political and military terms relating to the events,
organizations, roles, weaponry and ideology of the period. Although
the translation has taken much time and labor, she has done it pro bono
as a contribution to the Macedonian cause.
Thanks to the thoughtfulness of Mr Vlashev and the skill and generosity
of Ms Stewart, Pollitecon Publications is proud to make this book available
in full on the internet. I am confident Macedonians and many others
will agree with me that Sacred National Freedom - Portraits of Fallen
Freedom Fighters deserves to be read as widely as possible.
From: For Sacred National Freedom: Portraits Of Fallen Freedom
For Sacred National Freedom: Portraits Of Fallen Freedom Fighters