The Macedonian Tendency: Grozdan Popov on Mark Mazower on Dimitar Vlahov

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Grozdan Popov on Mark Mazower on Dimitar Vlahov

I have not read Mark Mazower's book "Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews 1430-1950" , With 500 pages and its span of 500 years, I did not think that Mazower would cover the Macedonians and their history. Grozdan Popov's review is thorough. He does not think much of Mazower's skills as a historian. This is the only review I have seen from a Macedonian perspective. If anyone has a review that is of interest to Macedonians, forward the link to me.

Mark Mazower presents a distorted, biased history of Salonica based on trash and wrong on fact

Now, if interested, Mazower could easily find out who was Dimitar Vlahov and why was he important. The man Mazower mentions twice as much as he does Josip Broz Tito (who influenced the remodeling of the Balkans of today) did not allow any speculation about his ethnicity or nationality. He wrote and signed (Memoirs of Dimitar Vlahov, Nova Makedonija, 1970; Speaches and Articles 1945-47, 180 p. Skopje, 1947) that "I myself am purest Macedonian and nothing else". Vlahov (born in Kukus or Kilkis, like Gotse Delchev) was one of the most daring young commanders or a VMRO regiment and indeed a member of the first and only Ottoman parliament where he represented the "Bulgarian community" of the district of Salonika.

In his long life he was not only Consul-general of the Bulgarian Empire in Odessa but also the chief administrator of Kosovo during the Bulgarian occupation (1915-1918) of the present UN-protectorate which is crudely being carved-out from Serbia. Vlahov enthusiastically supported the creation of Israel and Theodor Herschel personally. He lead the group which formed VMRO (united) in 1924 in Vienna. Its main objective was to free Macedonia within its geographical and economical borders and create an independent political unit that will become an equal member for a future Balkan Federation.

Some 20 years latter he became the first president of the Democratic Republic of Macedonia, plus, vice-president (Josip Broz was the president) of AVNOJ (Anti-fascist Council of the People's Liberation of Yugoslavia) the highest legislative and executive organ of the country which will become a federation and a beacon of worker's self-management and of the non-alignment movement. Prof. Georges Haupt, a French historian, claims that Dimitar Vlahov's Memoirs are "of great use for the study of social developments on the Balkans". It is pointless to blame Mark Mazower for not being capable of figuring out this complexity better than by labeling Vlahov as "the Bulgarian". If he tried he would have unravelled the documents for the heinously atrocious practices and general genocidal attitude nourished by the Greeks against everything of Slav, Jewish or Muslim origin in the region. While he was alive partisan battalions were named after him and today in Macedonia (rabidly sensitive on everything Bulgarian) hundreds of streets, schools, institutes, establishments carry his name Dimitar Vlahov, absolutely unthinkable if he was considered a "Bulgarian".

In the Greek Civil War (1946-1949) that followed World War II, the Macedonians of Aegean Macedonia fight on the side of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) as it promised them their rights after the war. About half of the 35,000 soldiers of DAG were Macedonians. On the liberated territory in Aegean Macedonia 87 Macedonian schools were opened, newspapers in Macedonian were published, and cultural and artistic associations created. But after few years of KKE's success, the communists lost the war, and the Macedonians were once again stripped of their human rights. 28,000 Aegean Macedonian children, known as 'child refugees', were separated from their families and settled in eastern Europe and Soviet Union in an attempt to save them from the terror that followed. Thousands of Macedonians lost their lives and great numbers of the Macedonian villages were burned to the ground.

Thus: he is wrong, Mazower is, labeling Dimitar Vlahov as Bulgarian. Such a mistake indicates Mazower's dilettante perception and understanding of the history of Salonika and its natural background.

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