After the establishment of the Principality of Bulgaria in 1878, many Macedonians emigrated to the new state, creating the Macedonian emigration community in Bulgaria.
According to the League of Nations, the total number of Macedonian emigrants in Bulgaria from 1878 to the mid-1920s was more than 300,000 Macedonians. It is the largest wave of Macedonian emigration with enormous intellectual potential and a great cultural heritage.
To this day Sofia tries to declare the Macedonians who have emigrated as Bulgarians, and also demands an exclusive right to their historical heritage.
A more significant resettlement of the Macedonians began after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877 and the establishment of the Principality of Bulgaria. After this war, many of the Macedonian intelligences, such as teachers, priests, traders and others, went to Sofia and Plovdiv in the Principality of Bulgaria. Among them were well-known personalities such as Janaki Strezov, Vasil Dijamandiev, Grigor Prlicev, Dimitar Uzunov and others. Everyone got good jobs, Strezov was made a member of the Kyustendil District Court, Prlicev a teacher at the Gabrovo High School, Uzunov at the Sofia Public Library.
Macedonian revolutionary and freedom fighter Bozidar Tatarchev (1870-1940) noted that there are 200,000 Macedonians in Bulgaria who would return to their country if there was better governance and making Macedonia progressive and prosperous.
According to a survey of Macedonian communities published in 1918, Macedonian emigration to Bulgaria was politically motivated. That is, the Macedonians did not settle in Bulgaria to look for a better life or to settle there permanently. They left Macedonia to preserve their property and to return to Macedonia after the liberation from Turkish rule.
Tomov and Georgi Bazhdarov in the book “Revolutionary Struggles in Macedonia” (published 1917) point out that the Macedonian intelligentsia was forced to move to Bulgaria, while the rest of the Macedonian population was forced to work and live a peaceful life in the Bulgarian state to search. The number of Macedonians increased rapidly in Bulgaria. Some of these Macedonians settled permanently in Bulgaria and the other part, however, returned to Macedonia.
In 1902 there were 200,000 Macedonians in Bulgaria, of which around 20,000 were Macedonians in Sofia, which had a population of 70,000. Dimitar Vlahov (1878-1953) points out that the emigration took place not only from the well-known cultural and political centers of Macedonia – such as Ohrid, Bitola, Prilep, Veles, but also from some other regions such as Kicevo, Struga, Debar and others.
According to the census of the Principality of Bulgaria in 1888, 54,462 people were born in the Ottoman Empire, of whom 34,327 lived in northern Bulgaria and 20,135 in southern Bulgaria. According to this information, the Bulgarian geographer, ethnographer and politicianVasil K’nchov (1862-1902) came to the conclusion that the inhabitants born in the Ottoman Empire in the districts of Sofia and Kyustendil are all Macedonians with a few exceptions.
There were such Macedonians in Varna, as well as in two villages in the Varna region, two other villages near Eski Jumaya (today’s Targovishte) and an important part of the settlements in the city of Ruse and others. In southern Bulgaria, a significant number of Macedonians lived in the districts of Plovdiv and Tatar Pazarcik (today’s Pazardzhik). According to data from 1888, their number ranged from 30,000 to 32,000, and their number was steadily increasing.
Konstantin Kondov (1866-1929) noted that the Macedonians made up half of the population in Sofia and were often elected mayors and adjutants, including Josif Kovachev, Dimitar Kozharov, Ivan Besirov, Kone Pop Spirkov, and others.
The French soldier, diplomat, and French dialectologist Léon Lamouche (1860-1945) noted that the rapid population growth in Sofia was due to the Macedonians. There were many intelligent and educated people among this emigration. When the Bulgarian state was founded, these emigrated Macedonians occupied many important positions in Bulgaria – such as in politics, education, the army and other areas.
Macedonians were represented in all areas of Bulgarian political and cultural life: poetry, journalism, literature, education, politics, finance, trade, medicine and more.
According to Georgi Trajcev (1869-1945), Macedonia gave to the Bulgarian state: 8 ministers, 20 diplomats, 70 deputies, 10 metropolitans, 15 university professors, about 100 well-known writers and publicists, 35 artists, sculptors, opera singers, artists, 30 high-ranking officials, 150 Judges and prominent judges as well as lawyers, about 100 high-ranking administrative officials, 80 prominent doctors, 40 prominent engineers and architects, 800 officers, including 8 generals, 31 colonels, 56 lieutenants. In the Bulgarian schools there were 1,568 teachers, 200 clergy and around 5,000 employees from Macedonia.
Macedonians have also emerged as leaders of various Bulgarian political parties. The communist (“narrow socialist”) leader was Dimitar Blagoev, with the “broad socialists” – Petar Dzhidrov, with the radicals – Ilija Georgov, with the liberals – Nikola Genadiev, with the democrats – Andrej Lyapchev. The last two later also became Bulgarian Prime Ministers.
The great influence of the Macedonians in the Bulgarian state was also noticed by several prominent figures.
Before the Balkan Wars, Maxim Gorky declared: “Only the prophets can know whether Bulgaria will annex Macedonia or Macedonia will annex Bulgaria.”
A. Savinsky, a former Russian plenipotentiary, notes in his memoir: “The Macedonians are a lively, mobile tribe, much more energetic and vital than the Bulgarians, and have always dominated them.”
Pierre Parini commented in the Milano based daily Il Popolo d’Italia: “The Macedonians are without a doubt the most intelligent and cultured inhabitants of the Balkan Peninsula. They can also be the strongest and the bravest. They are known to form the leadership in Bulgaria.”
This article “Македонија ѝ дала на Бугарија: 8 министри, 20 дипломати, 70 пратеници, 10 митрополити…” was published by Macedonian daily “Nova Makedonija” on July 16, 2019. Translated by history.mk