Open main menu

A report from Ljupcho Arsov and Vera Aceva to CP of Macedonia - 1944


November 8th, 1944

To the CPM Central Committee

Dear comrades,

November 8th, 1944

We wrote to you several days ago, Now we would like to inform you of developments in Gorna Dzumaja and the obstacle we encountered with the commanders of the Bulgarian 4th Army, and particularly with General Kopchev[1].

As we have reported, Ljupcho[2] attended the conference[3] of the Bulgarian Workers' Party for Gorna Dzumaja. During the official part he greeted the conference and briefly outlined the policy of our party, especially pertaining to the unification of all parts of Macedonia. During the proceedings of the conference he was only an observer and did not take any part when Comrade Vlado Pop Tomov reported on the Macedonian issue and elaborated the policy of the Bulgarian Workers' Party, which is almost completely opposed to our own, and insists that the question of unification of Bulgarian Macedonia with our Macedonia should not be raised now. Pop Tomov stated that:

a. The Macedonian issue can be resolved only with the approval of the progressive powers together with the Balkan states.

b. In Yugoslavia and Bulgaria conditions have been created for the unification of Macedonia, but that such conditions do not exist in Greece. The situation in Greece is rather bad. In the Greek part of Macedonia the national composition of the population has been changed with large-scale resettlements and the character of Greece is still not quite clear. EAM[4] has still not gained sufficient affirmation as in Yugoslavia and Bulgaria,

c. Finally, the principal factor is the international position. The obstacles which will be encountered in this field (meaning Greece and England) are quite grave.

Such positions led Pop Tomov to make the following conclusions:

a. Between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria there are conditions for resolving the Macedonian issue, but not in Greece. Thus, all efforts should be directed to aid EAM to win and to provide for conditions like those existing in Yugoslavia and Bulgaria.

b. The Macedonian issue is not isolated and depends on the international situation. To some extent even in Yugoslavia and Bulgaria where conditions do exist there are some difficulties such as the following:

1. The Macedonian nation in the Fatherland Front of Bulgaria feels free and senses no oppression. Thus, the unification issue has not been raised by the population, a fact which should be taken into account. This issue is not a current preoccupation of the Gorna Dzumaja population.

2. The Bulgarian people have not been prepared for this.

3. The majority wonders why the Gorna Diumaja region should be united to Macedonia in Yugoslavia and not the other way around. And why don't we ask for the Caribrod and Bosilgrad region when Macedonia demands all.

4. The international situation has not been cleared up and one should not proceed hastily: we still do not know which movement will win in Yugoslavia. What if the English should win? What if Tito is forced to flee, since there are many political streams as well as the king? And Bulgaria is clearly a region influenced by Russia. In such a situation are there not more reasons for the Gorna Dzumaja region to stay with us and to tell the Macedonians in Yugoslavia that they should join the framework of Fatherland Front Bulgaria...[5]

4. The unification of Macedonia with Bulgaria is closely related to the conclusion of a tight alliance with a new Yugoslavia, which can be realized only if Tito wins in the end. (!)— "Practically we can not formulate the Macedonian issue. We shall not formulate it now and will observe the development of the situation. That is the opinion of our Central Committee of the Bulgarian Workers' Party." In addition Georgi Dimitrov told them that: "The unification of Petrichko with Macedonia in Yugoslavia should not be hasty, that we should wait for peace to see what we should do. For the time of being we should agitate for the right to self-determination of the Macedonian people and for rapprochement with Tito's Yugoslavia."

Afterwards Pop Tomov expressed his opinion that the Gorna Dzumaja region could gain autonomy in Fatherland Front Bulgaria but that there is no need for this since there is no national oppression and thus no need for such demands. We could demand a certain cultural autonomy: to investigate and study the history of the Macedonian struggle in schools, to promote the national awareness of the people and to prepare the people to be capable of immediately resolving this issue when the time comes,

Finally he pointed out some practical tasks:

a. To promote self-determination and unification of the Macedonian people. To popularize a Macedonian state and the Macedonian people, linking this to rapprochement with Tito's Yugoslavia.

b.To do practically all to gather information on the Macedonian state and to exchange visits. To do everything possible for a rapprochement and to know each other better.

c. To publish a newspaper in the region which, in addition to everything else, will write about this topic.

d, The party should demand a change of the name of the region into a Macedonian region.

e. All party agitation should be carried out in a Macedonian spirit.

Dear Comrades,

We have presented here Ljubcho's notes. Even though he spoke with Pop Tomov a day earlier and told him that the position of the Bulgarian Workers' Party could not be right, Ljubcho did not take part at the conference and only observed the proceedings. Afterwards he did not elaborate the policy of our party and did not explain which of Pop Tomov's statements were in total contradiction with our positions,

He considered that such an intervention on his part at the conference would have been undermined by the Bulgarian Workers' Party Central Committee and that all the differences between us should be settled between the two central committees. Do tell us whether his actions were appropriate.

It appears to us that all the directives we received from Miljovski[6] cannot be realized in such a situation and that these differences should be resolved by the two central committees as soon as possible, since the BWP Central Committee so far has allowed only words to be spoken which have no practical effect. In addition, they do not hide the fact that they consider that this issue of unification still has no practical significance.

Other impressions from the conference indicate that they have relatively well trained cadres which have suddenly grown in number. In roughly two months the membership in the region has increased from 1613 to 2032 members. The cadres come from the older membership, who were jailed and sent to the camps, who at the time did not conduct themselves especially well but have gained experience in working on a large scale with the masses.

The main topics discussed at the conference were the organization of transport, the struggle against violent forms of "Partisan conduct", increase of production, distribution of products, consolidation of the Fatherland Front Committees, etc.

As far as organizational life is concerned, it appears that Party members do not have a chance to regularly attend Party meetings and that political work is still weak.

It is interesting to note that they have appointed to leadership positions in their organs of authority, to the positions of elders and managers, men who are not members of the Fatherland Front Committees. Likewise, secretaries of the WYU[7] cannot at the same time be party leaders. The party cannot issue orders to the WYU and can only act as its ideological leader.

The district committees retain direct links with the village cells. They do not have municipal committees. Only if there are more than 50 members in one place do they call it a party organization, and if there are fewer members it is called a party group. They lag far behind us where the army is concerned. They have no party organizations there and do not intend to establish them, having only party activists in charge of work in the army. For their work they are responsible to the local leadership and in the army and political (not party) hierarchy they are subordinated to superior deputy commanders (with the same status as political commissars).

As far as the Jane Sandanski Brigade is concerned, they say that it has deviated to the left. They are in favor of establishing separate Macedonian army units but not in the fashion of our own army, rather in the pattern of the Bulgarian army. Thus, these soldiers will be organized into a Macedonian regiment within the National Guards.

By chance Ljubcho was able to meet General Kopchev. There are no changes whatsoever in his positions. All cases and incidents were presented to him but he did not take this seriously and even attempted to point out similar phenomena on our side. He especially attempted to prove that our post in the village of Zvegor represents a violation of Bulgarian dignity and that the search of military vehicles to determine whether there are civilians in them represents a violation of all regulations which should exist between two allied countries. The reply was that it was our right and that there were many cases where Bulgarian Working Youth Union of Bulgaria, citizens had crossed into Macedonia in this way and that this measure is similar to the Bulgarian occupation of the border, to the searches of men and asking our army officials to present their identification papers in areas surrounding Dzumaja, etc. Furthermore Ljubcho told him that there were even cases when our border guards had to argue with army columns consisting of several vehicles and that even he had to present his identification card and was told not to venture off too far. At the same time he asked that Bulgarian army trucks no longer carry civilians and that a convoy consisting of several cars should be stooped at a border crossing and that the convoy chief should be questioned whether the convoy is purely military. Despite all this, an incident occurred when a Bulgarian truck did not stop until threatened with firearms and then an officer drew his gun. Our men stepped back from the post and the truck continued without the officer who had to give an account of his conduct. We believe we have a right to effect this control and if you are of the same opinion, ask Tito to discuss with the Bulgarians the recognition of this right, And if we are mistaken, do inform us. Because of this Kopchev accused us of chauvinism. In our opinion he is not right and that by tolerating such behavior he is trying to humiliate us, our authority and our army.

Furthermore, there was a lot of misunderstanding and arguing about the telephones. The Bulgarian army after entering our country took over our post offices and telephone switchboards. We have taken measures to return the above but Kopchev disagreed, trying to impose the right of the Bulgarian army to retain our switchboards in their hands. We were firm in formulating our demand and their objection to this was that we were chauvinists. Naturally after this letter there will be interferences in telephone conversations. We shall encounter obstacles but will take measures to overcome them. Inform them that charges will follow.

We have reported to the headquarters of 4th Army that the supply of fodder can take place only through our regional command, however they attempted to establish direct supply from the people. And when difficulties occurred they sent us a letter saying "Please issue an order to the population to supply us with fodder and meat." or "The prices charged are very high etc. Or "The people are not very polite."

We told them to comply with our report and to stop searching for other ways. In addition irresponsible plundering has continued. 7th Division[8] has totally devastated the area around Novo Selo in the Strumica region. Wheat and rice was given to the horses, hay was stolen, etc. We wrote to them asking them to describe in detail what had happened and will send a letter to the Ministry in Sofia.

What is even worse, the Bulgarian army has made no advances. In some cases they engaged blindly in combat, fell into traps and sacrificed in vain. On the other side the Bulgarian command constantly states that their army is fighting courageously and that it has liberated Macedonian towns and villages. As if the Macedonian army were asleep or cooperating with the Bulgarian army only from time to time. What irony! Shameless Bulgarian reports state that the Bulgarian army has liberated Strumica. And in all truth the Bulgarian artillery was still around Novo Selo and Palazi when our flags flew over Strumica. Moreover, the Bulgarian report today states that the Bulgarian army with the assistance of a few companies of the Macedonian army liberated nothing less than Valandovo, Dojran, Udovo, Radovsh and Shtip! And the truth is that the Bulgarian troups since entering Strumica did not budge from there and as for Shtip the chief of headquarters of 4th Army warmly thanked Comrade Popovich[9] when he informed him of the liberation of Shtip, some ten hours after our troups entered the town. However, the Bulgarian report states: "After ten days of combat army has liberated Shtip with the assistance of the Macedonian army …" While even now the Bulgarian army is still in the region of Krupishte! ! !

We consider that this should not remain so. Ljubcho spoke with General Kopchev over the telephone and told him that this should be corrected but he in turn with arrogance replied that complaints should be forwarded in written form and supported with documents and that such an issue cannot be resolved over the telephone. Because of this we sent a telegram to you and another telegram to Miliovski which reads as following: "Most resolutely we deny the news of the Bulgarian Command that the Bulgarian army has liberated Strumica, Valandovo, Dojran, Gevgelija and Shtip. The Bulgarian troups are still ten kilometers away from Stip. The 4th Army Headquarters were informed of the liberation of Shtip ten hours after its actual liberation and they were informed by our headquarters. You should protest to the Ministry of Army in Sofia as well as to the Soviet Command. Enough of these false reports Ljubcho."

We did this convinced that we had acted correctly. You should tell us whether we overstepped our bounds. We have to admit that the conduct of the Bulgarian Command has revolted us and it hurt us knowing that Tito's heroic soldiers doing their best to carry out the tasks of their General Headquarters. Actually, 50 divisions fought courageously. The Division commander was personally in the front lines of combat. All of them deserve praise and encouragement for new combat. Your command praising the courage of 50 divisions would have a favorable effect ... In such circumstances the Bulgarian reports are offensive to both us and to Tito's entire army ...

All these incidents make us wonder whether it would not be better for the Bulgarian army to withdraw from this region. We shall drive out the Germans by ourselves. Even now the Bulgarian soldiers are making things more difficult and create misunderstandings in fraternal relations. We have a hard time getting rid of the old concept of the Bulgarian army and if this is difficult for us you can well imagine what it is for our soldiers?.. .[10]

Sources for the History of Macedonia. I/III, page 442—449

This work is in the public domain in countries where the copyright term is the author's life plus 70 years or less.

Nuvola apps important.svg
It is not necessarily in the public domain in the United States if published from 1923 to 1977. For a US-applicable version, check {{PD-1996}} and {{PD-URAA-same-year}} for relevant use.
  1. General Boris Kopchev
  2. Ljupcho Arsov
  3. This refers to the regional conference of the Bulgarian Workers' Party in Pirin Macedonia, held in Gorna Dzumaja (today Blagoevgrad).
  4. Hellenic National Liberation Front.
  5. The punctuation is the same as in the original text.
  6. Kiril Miljovski
  7. Working Youth Union of Bulgaria
  8. A division of the Fatherland Front of Bulgaria.
  9. Vujadin Popovich
  10. We present here an excerpt from this report.