Unrest in Macedonia

Discussions on the final era of the Ottoman Empire, from the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 until the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.
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Peter H
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Unrest in Macedonia

Post by Peter H » 14 Jul 2007 02:50

Uprisings,kidnappings and bombings in this province of the Ottoman Empire:


http://www.balkanalysis.com/?p=337
In 1903, the IMRO launched the Ilinden Uprising, a failed attempt to achieve autonomy for Macedonia. The Muerzsteg Programme reforms resulted, imposed by Russia and Austria-Hungary. The IMRO had been conducting guerrilla warfare in Macedonia since its founding in 1893, with the goal being to force anti-Turkish intervention by the Great Powers. Armed groups known as chetas were created which consisted of fifteen to fifty men. These groups were known as chetniks, komitas, and komitadjis (men of the committee), who were commanded by a voivoda. Schools were established to train guerrillas by Georgi Ivanov, under the pseudonym Marko Lerinski, a veteran of the Serbo-Bulgarian War of 1885. Goce Delchev, a member of the central committee of IMRO, was the military inspector. In 1894, the rival Bulgarian Supreme Committee was established by Macedonian expatriates in Sofia which sought to incorporate Macedonia in Bulgaria.

Widespread guerrilla activity in Macedonia continued into the twentieth century. One result was the “Miss Stone Affair”, a kidnapping of a US citizen that created an international crisis. On September 3, 1901, Ellen M. Stone, an American evangelical missionary from Chelsea, Massachusetts, was abducted by Macedonian guerrillas, along with her chaperone, Katarina Stefanova Tsilka, who was pregnant at the time. Tsilka gave birth while held by the guerrillas. They were kidnapped by 20 fighters affiliated with the IMRO led by Jane Sandanski and Hristo Chernopeev. The guerrillas requested a ransom of 25,000 Turkish lira, or $110,000. However, the hostages were released in March 1902 after a smaller ransom was paid. They had been abducted to gain wider attention for the Macedonian cause, to gain funds to purchase weapons, and to put pressure on the Turkish regime to grant Macedonia autonomy. Former captive Tsilka later raised funds for the Macedonian guerrillas in the US.

Turkish reprisals for guerrilla attacks in Macedonia helped galvanize public support for the First Balkan War. On December 11, 1911, a bomb exploded in a mosque in Shtip in the Sandzak/Sanjak of Uskub/Skopje, wounding several Muslims. The Turks retaliated by attacking Macedonians, killing 25 and wounding 169. On August 1, 1912, bombs were set off in the bazaar of Kotchana, where two Macedonians and two Turks were killed. A “general massacre” followed in which 150 were reported killed and 250 were wounded. Subsequently, 80 Macedonians “in the interval” were killed at Krushevo in the Sandzak/Sanjak of Monastir/Bitola. Macedonians fled as refugees to Bulgaria where they would have political clout and impact.

Ernst Helmreich in The Diplomacy of the Balkan Wars, 1912-1913 argued that the IMRO “…contributed substantially to the sequence of events which brought about the Balkan War.” And, according to him, the IMRO “…was instrumental in bringing about the Balkan League.”

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 14 Jul 2007 03:03

The Kotchana bombing of 1912

http://www.manorhouse.clara.net/book2/chapter8.htm
At the same time the Macedonian problem had come to the fore again following the explosion of a terrorist bomb in the Muslim market place of Kochana; the outrage resulted in the usual reprisal against the Christian inhabitants which was perhaps made more savage on this occasion because of the confusion reigning in Constantinople. When it became clear that the reprisal had taken the form of a massacre the Bulgarians could barely restrain themselves. Into the breach stepped the Austrian Foreign Minister, Count Berchtold, who first proposed, on 13 August, that the Powers ‘consider the advisability of recommending to the Porte the adoption of the principle of “decentralisation” in dealing with the question of the future of the European provinces.’ However well meant, the Count’s approach was to have unfortunate consequences. Despite a denial being issued at the end of the month that this was the prelude to intervention, the impression sustained by the Balkan allies was precisely the opposite. In addition, any pressure applied to Turkey to clean up its act in Macedonia, as it was in the process of doing in Albania, would remove the transparent excuse required by the Balkan allies to legitimize their actions. The time to act would have to be sooner rather than later: before the Italians, temporarily estranged from the Triple Alliance, could conclude their peace talks, and while a weak, vacillating Government held power in Constantinople, where the new War Minister, Nazim Pasha, was busy undoing his predecessor’s work by removing Shevket’s appointees from the higher echelons of the Army.

Nazim first disbanded two large, seasoned armies that Shevket had formed at the Dardanelles and Smyrna to repel an Italian attack and then, in September, unwisely tried to bluff Bulgaria, whom he did not believe would attack, by sending out for training in Thrace and Macedonia nine newly formed divisions. The bluff fooled no-one and instead backfired spectacularly: using these ‘mythical manoeuvres’ as a pretext, Bulgaria and Serbia mobilized on 30 September 1912. The next day Greece and the latest adherent to the cause, Montenegro, did likewise; the Turks were left with no option but to mobilize themselves. It was all going to plan for, on 6 September, Serbia and Montenegro had concluded an alliance whose political convention ruled that, as the present situation in Turkey and general conditions in Europe were ‘very favourable for action’, war should be declared on Turkey by 25 October at the latest, except if one party was not yet ready, in which case there could be one postponement; this was not required. In consultation with her partners (though there was a rumour at the time that they had kicked off early so the King could make a killing as he had ‘sold a bear of Balkan securities on the Vienna Stock Exchange’) the Montenegrins declared war on Turkey on 8 October. At long last it had happened: ‘the Balkan States are about to declare war’, noted Lord Stamfordham, the King’s Private Secretary, ‘and Heaven knows where it may end.’

The Macedonian Question, 1908-1912:

http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/boshtml/bos132.htm

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Post by Peter H » 14 Jul 2007 03:10

The anti-Turkish agenda by some in the West:

"The Massacres in Macedonia" 1904

http://www.maccinema.com/e_hronologija_detali.asp
...inspired by the Ilinden Uprising, and it gained a great interest in the Western public. The intention of the director was to reconstruct the reprisals of the Ottoman army and police over the Macedonians. No print of this film has been found yet, and we are afraid that it has not been preserved. . However according to the newspapers of that time, we know that the audience could see the scenes: "Ambushed rebels", "Rebels' leader against Turkish slavery", "Dynamite raid of the eastern express". "The Massacres in Macedonia" was filmed in the studios of the "Pathe Freres Company" near Paris. This means that the film did not deal with real events and characters, but the scenes were performed by actors and directed in this manner. The photograph published in the Company catalogue, gives an impression that the event was convincingly reconstructed from contents, scenography and costume design point of view. Most probably the audience felt they were watching authentic film recordings. Besides France, "The Massacres in Macedonia" was screened in Great Britain too, but under the title "Turkish Brutalities" (Atrocites Turques).

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Post by Peter H » 14 Jul 2007 03:20

The general situation in the area after 1904:

http://www.makedonika.org/STOICOVSKI1.htm

To note as well:
Nandrup has also described the Bulgarian and Greek propaganda at that time in Macedonia. According to him there were several causes of the deplorable fight amongst the Christians in Macedonia. First, the Bulgarian committees were trying to bulgarize the country, and they were doing it at any cost. In addition, the attitude of the Slavic population towards the Greek has for long time been rather inflamed, and not without reason. The Greeks were making attempts to "hellenize" Macedonia. When this effort came to nothing, the Greeks completely subjected themselves to the Turks and offered to help them against their Christian brothers. This caused a great deal of distrustfulness among both Christians and Turks.

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Post by Peter H » 14 Jul 2007 03:25

The Mirtschteg Reforms in Macedonia

http://www.gate.net/~mango/Mirtschteg_Reforms.htm
In Mirtschteg, Austria, on 2 October 1903, the Russian and Austro--Hungarian ministers for foreign affairs agreed that in addition to peace and order, reforms were needed in Macedonia. In accordance with the Mirtschteg Agreement, a mutual reform program was prepared and accepted by the other European powers including, finally, Turkey. The reform program contained nine points, and it made the Macedonian issue even more engaging. According to these points, among other things, two civilian reppresentatives were appointed, representing Austro Hungary and Russia. They were supposed to assist and advise Hilmi Pasha, who was appointed by the Turkish government as head inspector in the three Macedonian vilayets (Skopje, Bitola and Salonica). They were to inspect the introduction of the reforms as well as the work of the Turkish administration. Based on the agreement by the European forces, especially Austro-Hungary and Turkey, the reform program had the following missions: to improve the administration and judiciary; to establish the mistreatment and abuse of the Turkish organs during the Ilinden Uprising; to estimate the damage suffered by the refugees who abandoned their destroyed homes; to work on repatriation of the refugees and reconstruction of the destroyed villages; to free the populace from paying taxes for a year; to remove the Turkish irregular armed forces. One of the most complex questions raised by Mirtschteg Reform Program was the reorganization of the Turkish police force. The most bitter complaints of the Macedonian people were addressed to the work of this force. Thus, a special commission was formed, headed by an Italian, General De Gorgis. Participating in its work were military representatives of France, Italy, England, Germany, Russia and Austria. Their task was to help De Gorgis reorganize the Turkish police force in the Macedonian vilayets. For this purpose Macedonia was divided into several sectors where selected military officers from the European powers were to carry oi£t one of the most important points of the Mirtschteg Reform Program. At this time the European powers indicated their interest in particular Macedonian regions. Germany decided to establish military schools in Salonica. Bitola and Skopje particularly had a fri-endly attitude toward the Turkish Empire. The social, political and economic situation in Macedonia required further continuation of the Macedonian reforms which were to be completed within two years and which now also covered the departments of finance, judiciary, and administration. Turkey strongly protested this decision, particularly the program's concern with the finances in the Macedonian vilayets. It meant recognizing the Macedonian vilayets as autonomous units, or, in other words, giving autonomy to Macedonia as a whole.

Turkey found itself under great pressure from the European powers (the Bleet's demonstrations in Salonica in 1905 as well as diplomatic pressure) who insisted that it accept their decision concerning the enlar-gement of the reform program which, as a matter of fact, was suggested by the Mirtschteg Reform Program. Finally Turkey yielded. But the reforms could neither solve the numerous problems nor could they do away with the great defects and oppositions within the administration as well as in the political and economic system of the Turkish Empire. The Mirtschteg Reform Program failed to bring the results that it was designed for. Constantinople's rulers were not really willing to change the Macedonian situation. The other Balkan countries also hindered the introduction of the reforms because they hoped to conquer Macedonia. All this was compounded by the opposing interests and attitudes of the other European powers at the time when the reforms were being in-troduced.

Particularly important were the reforms for Macedonia decided on by England and Russia at the meeting of their sovereigns in Reval (Talin, today's capital of the Socialist Republic of Estonia) in 1908. Acccording to these reforms Macedonia was to gain autonomy. This was the real cause of the Young Turkish Revolution that began in 1908.

After the Young Turkish Revolution the situation in Macedonia was such that officers could not carry on the reform program. Toward the end of 1909 they abandoned the program, and so the decisions of tbe Raval meeting were never enacted.
http://www.balkanalysis.com/2006/03/14/ ... ervention/
By September of 1909, the Mürzsteg Reform Plan was officially dead. Its tepid results meant that it would only be a matter of time before the lackluster intervention – and the status quo it propped up – would be overtaken by events. Among these the most important were the Young Turk revolution of July 1908, and the Austro-Hungarian annexation of Bosnia three months later.

The Great Powers, which had gone into Macedonia with the stated hope of making benevolent rulers of the Turks, instead abetted the bloodshed and followed their interests. Yet their interpretation of their own best interests was antiquated; it was based on obsolete conceptions of the world and the relation of states with one another.

At this feverish time of transition, however, each of the Great Powers followed its own interventionist and colonialist intuition on a quixotic quest deep into the Balkans. None of the states would come out of it unscathed, even if the full brunt of the blowback only arrived five years after the end of the Mürzsteg Programme, with the onset of the Great War.
Rebecca West quoted in the same article:
“…the comitadji who waged guerrilla warfare against the Turks in Macedonia before the war covered a wide range of character. Some were highly disciplined, courageous, and ascetic men, often from good families in the freed Slav countries, who harried the Turkish troops, particularly those sent to punish Christian villages, and who held unofficial courts to correct the collapse of the legal system in the Turkish provinces. Others were fanatics who were happy in massacring the Turks but even happier when they were purging the movement of suspected traitors. Others were robust nationalists, to whom the proceedings seemed a natural way of spirited living. Others were black-guards who were in the business because they enjoyed murder and banditry.

All intermediate shades of character were fully represented. This made it difficult for the Western student to form a clear opinion about Near Eastern politics; it also made it difficult, very difficult, for a Macedonian peasant who saw a band of armed men approaching his village.”
An Appetite for Atrocities

On the continent, the French newspapers Le Temps and Le Matin, as well as the Austrian newspaper Neue Freie Presse covered Macedonian events regularly, as did the London papers. To focus attention on the crisis in Macedonia, and thus to press the case for intervention, the Western media resorted to lurid descriptions of Turkish repression and demonized its leadership. Well before Slobodan Milosevic, therefore, Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid was castigated as a “bloodthirsty tyrant” by a Western press that was fuelling the fires for intervention. This style of depiction was partially the result of the media’s eternal appetite for sensational news. But it also derived to some extent from the European countries’ pro-Christian sentiment, at that time much more fervent than it is today. The Western media thus focused on the slaughter of helpless Christians by an infidel overlord. There had been, after all, plenty of precedents in “European Turkey” during the 19th century.

News reports spoke of “atrocities” and “massacres” committed in Macedonia, while they relayed the words of Bulgarian officials who accused the Turkish forces of “exterminating” the Bulgarian population, committing atrocities, torture, and murders. They also provided extensive lists of villages demolished and torched by the Turks.

Indeed, Western media reporting from Macedonia was somewhat manipulated and biased. Yet so was the information coming from the Turkish side. In 1903, the Ottomans sought to counter this harmful coverage, putting into effect a “strategy of information” aimed at improving Ottoman public relations and thus managing, to whatever extent possible, the media’s coverage of unfolding events in Macedonia. They sought to ’spin’ the uprising as mere acts of terrorism conducted by Bulgarian terrorists, allegedly a fringe and marginal movement with no popular support. They refused to grant Western journalists travel permits to cover the events in Macedonia, instead, presenting news handouts for journalists that presented a biased, misleading and in some cases false picture.

Yet some tentative allies such as Austria did try to placate the Porte. Agenor Goluchowski, the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister, stated that “speaking of extermination [of the Christians] is exaggerated.” And British Prime Minister Arthur Balfour declared, after all, that “the balance of criminality lies not with the Turks, but with the rebels” in September 1903.

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Post by Peter H » 14 Jul 2007 03:45

Hussein Hilmi Pasha, Ottoman Inspector General of Macedonia from 1902-1908, and Grand Vizier in 1909

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http://www.balkanalysis.com/photos/hilm ... rzsteg.jpg


Turkish troops inspect the ruins of an Orthodox church in Macedonia, 1903

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http://www.balkanalysis.com/photos/dest ... edonia.jpg


Members of the Italian military mission to Mürzsteg-era Macedonia

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http://www.balkanalysis.com/photos/ital ... rzsteg.jpg


Albanian irregulars in the Ottoman Turkish forces helped repress the Christian uprisings

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http://www.balkanalysis.com/photos/turk ... edonia.jpg

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