Director of Bulgaria’s National Museum of History Bozhidar Dimitrov starts making a new film dedicated to the genocide of Bulgarians in Macedonia between 1944 and 1949. In an interview with FOCUS News Agency Dimitrov comments on the events which the film is dedicated to.
FOCUS: Mr Dimitrov, after the ‘Balgarskite Starini v Makedonia’ [English: Bulgarian antiquities in Macedonia], now you start shooting a new film, dedicated to the Holocaust of the Bulgarians after 1944-1955. Bozhidar Dimitrov: I start shooting a film about the Bulgarian Holocaust in Macedonia in the autumn and winter of 1944-1945 and the next few years.
It has turned out that we know more about the Armenian genocide, about the genocide of Jews called Holocaust; we learnt something about the genocide of Thracian Bulgarians in 1913, but we know almost nothing about the genocide of Bulgarians in the first years of the so-called people’s power in former Yugoslavia.
FOCUS: How exactly is the genocide of Bulgarians after the winder of 1945 manifested? Bozhidar Dimitrov: Immediately after the Serbian communists came into power, there was mass killing of Bulgarian intellectual, military, economic and political elite who had the bad fortune to remain in Macedonia, instead of following the Bulgarian army and withdrawing into Bulgaria.
The city of Veles, for instance, shelters all prominent Bulgarian intellectuals – doctors, engineers, lawyers, jurists and others; they were taken to a gulch close to the city and killed with spades, hammers and picks. Their only ‘guilt’ was that they were Bulgarians. This was the criteria followed when it comes to killing people in Macedonia. There was no need for one to be accused of being a fascist or a collaborator to the Bulgarian authorities in 1941-1944. It was well enough to be known as Bulgarian.
Another known case of genocide of Bulgarians is in the Skopje Fortress.
In the Skopje Fortress, for example, about 900 Bulgarian officers, sergeants and soldiers who were of a Macedonian origin and were mobilized and remained in Macedonia, hoping they will liberate Thessaloniki, were killed. The motto was ‘Towards Thessaloniki, not towards Srem’; instead they were told they would fight on the Srem front between Yugoslavia and Hungary, against the Germans. Those who refused – and they were two battalions, 900 people – were killed in the most violent way in the Skopje Fortress.
More than 9,000 people, gathered from all over Macedonia, were taken to Otesevo, between Prespa and Ohrid Lakes. They were ruthlessly killed, while their bodies were thrown in the whirlpools.
FOCUS: How many victims had the actions of the people’s power claimed? Bozhidar Dimitrov: According to estimations of unbiased Macedonian historians and information that has been officially published, we speak about 30,000 Bulgarians, who were killed over these months.
In the first years, it was believed that around 120,000 people have gone to the Idrizovo prison and the camps Goli Otok, Jamite, Asenovac and etc. These camps to great extent resembled the Russian Gulat camps and many of the people, who have gone there, remain there – they died.
The Albanians say that at that time there were only Bulgarians and Albanians in the prisons. The man-hunt was serious and it targeted even people who have taken loans from Bulgarian banks, and respectively the property of these people was taken away.
In each village, the mayor, the priest and the teacher were the first to feel the hand of the people’s power.
More than 120,000 Bulgarians were affected by the actions of the so-called people’s power in the above mentioned period - the population of the then People’s Republic of Macedonia was about 1.2-1.3 million people, which means they account for about 10% of the population.
FOCUS: Who finances the film? Bozhidar Dimitrov: The financing is not provided by the state. This is not the Third Half. I do not want to get the state involved in this film. I will find sponsors, it will not cost too much.