Hristo Lagadinov from Uhrana 1943-1944  with George Mladenov  editor of Vardar .The picture is taken Aug. 1951 in the IRO camp of the city of Lavrion Greece.

 

 

 

 

 

 IMRO Militia

And Volunteer Battalions

Of Southwestern Macedonia,

1943-1944.

By Vic Nicholas

 

 

Table of Contents

Early Beginnings.....................

The Call to Arms.....................

Leadership, Structure and Motives.

Objectives and Ulterior Motives....

Violence and Bloodshed.............

German & ELAS Attacks...........

IMRO Volunteer Battalions.........

The Last Hoorah!............................

Photographic Appendix..............

Footnotes...............................

 

MACEDONIA'S SECRET

ARMY:

The IMRO Militia

And Volunteer Battalions

Of Southwestern Macedonia,

1943.1944.

 

They came from mountain villages. They came from

the little hamlets on the plains. They came from the small

provincial towns that stud the mountainous districts of south

western Macedonia. They came with steely determination and

the pictures in their mind of the suffering of their families and

their people under 30 years of Greek misrule and occupation.

They were a collection of sturdy embittered peasants

who were to become a fearsome fighting force and who would

rule south western Macedonia and the Kostour (Kastoria)

district in particular with an iron fist. This formation was

eventually to be extensively used quite effectively in

conjunction with German forces during anti-guerrilla sweeps

and drives. They were also used regularly as guard troops. They

were to write in their own blood the final glorious chapter in the

history of the IMRO.^ this local Macedonian fighting force was

to be cruelly destroyed with the utmost brutality and ultimately

suffer the final ignominy of being written out of history.

This is their story. A story that encompasses courage,

emancipation and finally defeat and suffering.

Early Beginnings

 

 

The Kostour (Kastoria) district was the epicenter of the

internecine warfare of the Macedonian struggle at the turn of the

century. It was here, more than anywhere else, that Greek mercenaries

committed grave atrocities on the local Macedonian population! who

dared to organize themselves for a future devoid of occupiers and a

future full of hope and freedom. Every village had its share of heroes

and martyrs. The exploits of the local heroes such as Vasil

Chakalaroff, Pando Kliasheff and Lazo Pop-Traykoff3 were passed

-on in village folk-lore and they were revered in an almost saintly

manner by the local Macedonian population.

The violence perpetrated on the villages in this district by the

Greek mercenaries after 1904,4 cemented into the peasants collective

psychosis a distinct feeling of 'otherness'5 and an undying enmity

towards Greeks. The Balkan Wars of 1912-13 saw the partition of

Macedonia, with the lions share going to Greece, including the

fanatically pro-Bulgarian districts of south-western Macedonia. This

illogical distribution of territory which bore no correlation to the

ethnic back-ground and self determination of the population living

there further exacerbated the already bad situation. 6

During the 1920's and 30's, bad administration, government

endorsed persecution and cruel mindless violence by Greek

nationalist bands sowed the seeds of revenge that kept brewing within

the local Macedonian population that was waiting for an opportune

moment to forment.7 That opportunity would come in the shape of

the second world war.                

The Call to Arms - Rallying Around the Committee Flag

It is generally accepted that the initial bands were formed on

the 5th of March 1943 in the district of Kostour (Kastoria) by the

Italian occupation authorities who armed the local Macedonian

villages to help combat the growing communist threat presented by

the ELAS andartes8 raiding the Italian forces in the district.9 A

company of 80 was established in the town of Kostour (Kastoria) on

March 5th under the command of Zhivko Shekrov and Luka Dimanin

with Risto Naskov ably assisting. Within 3 days, a further 34

volunteers from the village of Kumanichevo (Litya) arrived to bolster

the militia's numbers.

 

 

More importantly, the ELAS forces in late 1942 launched a

series of attacks on the villages Drenichevo (Kranahori), Starichani

(Lakomata), Zhelegozha (Pendavrison), Breshchani (Avgi), Grache

(Ftelia) and others, for no strategic reason other than to terrorize the

Macedonian population. The ELAS attacks and the arming and

retaliatory measures taken by the local Macedonians has gone down

m history as the Kostour (Kastoria) uprising, and it's impact and

implications was to be far reaching. J_0

However, it has since come to light in a written history of the

village Trsye/Lerin (Trivounon/Florina), that the village was raided in

February 1943 by an armed IMRO detachment dispatched from the

town of Kostour (Kastoria) to capture two communist activists who

were hiding in the village. The memoir further states that the majority

of the boys of this detachment were natives of the village of

Setoma/Kostour (Kefalaria/Kastoria). So there was evidently some

clandestine arming of Macedonian peasants prior to March 1943. The

Italian Military Command had also armed the village of Chetirok

(Mesopotamia) in February to the strength of 30.11

The colloquial name given to the bands armed in March 1943

was 'Ohrana', a Russian loan word also being the name of the czarist

secret police of Russia. 'Ohrana' in Russian is defined as 'security' or

'guardian', and these roles were specifically what the Italian

occupation authorities had in mind for this fledgling force of armed

village militias.                           

The force comprised of men and boys from all the peasant

occupations in the district. They were farmers, farmers sons, share

croppers, orchardists, artisans, shephards, timber cutters and itinerant

immigrant workers (sojoumers) who would ply their trade in

Bulgaria, France, USA, Canada and even as far afoot as Australia for

stretches lasting up to seven years at a time before returning to their

villages. L2 Their reasons for taking arms varied. Some of the men

were pre-war members of IMRO, and thus harboured deep patriotic

convictions. Others took arms for the sake of tradition, in that they

wished to follow in the heroic foot steps of their fathers and

grandfathers who forged a legendary reputation as redoubtable

fighters against the Turks and Greeks during the turn of the century

revolutionary struggle.

 

 

Most, however, took up arms to avenge wrong doings

and violence inflicted on their families by Greeks and

Grecophiles and was motivated by the prospect of a long

awaited opportunity to avenge the blood of their kith and their

kin.

In fact, the men preferred to be known by the name used

by their forebears — 'komiti' or 'komitadji' — rather than 'Ohrana'

which was thrust upon them. Most of the villages were armed to

company strength (usually between 25-30 men, although larger

villages quite often had companies in excess of 50 men). The

companies were known by the colloquial name of'chetas'. Their

enemies knew them by the name of'comitadjis'. The majority of

the participants in this battle formation wore no uniforms, just

their plain clothes. However, they wore a white arm-band with

the word "Komiti" hand written in black ink for the purpose of

identification.

Only the companies based in the towns of Kostour

(Kastoria) and Rupishcha (Argos Orestikon) wore uniforms.

These were supplied by the Italians and were resplendant with

shoulder patches bearing the inscription "Tiranska Cheta"

(Tyrants Company) and the letters IBK-SIS above the

inscription which stood for "Italo-Bulgarski Komitet - Svoboda

Hi Smrt" (Italo-Bulgarian Committee " Freedom or Death) .15

Leadership, Structure and Motives

Prior to the formation of the armed militias in early

1943, the Commander-in-Chief of the German forces in the

Balkans - Field Marshal List - consented in May 1941 to a

handful of officers from the Bulgarian army, which was

occupying south eastern Macedonia and Thrace, to be attached

to the German occupying forces as "liaison officers". All the

Bulgarian officers brought into service were locally born

Macedonians who had imigrated to Bulgaria with their families

during the 1920's and 30's to avoid persecution. All were

members ofIMRO and followers of Ivan

Mihailoff, the controversial, but dynamic leader of the interwar

IMR0.

The main leaders and organizers during the early phase of

activity from 1941 to 1942 were Tsvetan MIadenoffFY and Andon

Kalcheff in the Lerin (Florina) region and Georgi Sarakinoff in the

Voden (Edessa) region. Kalcheff was born in the village of

Zhuzheltsi/Kostour (Spilea/Kastoria) in 1910 and immigrated along

with his family to Bulgaria in 1921. From a well known IMRO family

dedicated to the ideals of a united and free Macedonia, Kalcheff was

educated at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. From 1931 to 1940,

Kalcheff studied in Germany obtaining a Doctorate in Finance. In 1940,Kalcheff returned to Bulgaria and was immediately mobilized into the armed forces and commissioned as an officer.JJS Kalcheff was to eventually obtain the rank of Major. It was Kalcheff who would lead the whole military organization in south western Macedonia in 1943 and 1944. Later German accounts mention that he was a strong, stately and overall very impressive man.

All the liaison officers had their own little headquarters which

were directly answerable to the army headquarters in Sofia. They were

attached to the German military kommandanturen (military commands)to facilitate their connection with the local population and they also aided in the activities of the Bulgarian club established in Salonika.Moreover, in addition to the liaison officers in service at the German headquarters, Bulgarian interpreters were also sent to assist in the towns of Kostour (Kastoria), Voden (Edessa), Lerin (Florina), Kaylari(Ptolemaida) and the city ofSolun (Salonika).

By 1943, the main local village company leaders in the Kostour

(Kastoria) district were Pando Makrieff from the village Chetirok

(Mesopotamia), Nikola Georgieff from Kondorobi (Metamorphosis),

Paskal Kalemanoff "Dobrolitski" from Dobrolishcha (Kalohorion),

Vasil Yanakieff from Maniak (Maniaki),  Naso Kachamata from

Lobanitsa (Agios Dimitrios), Mihail Ristovski and Dinto Soulov from

Chereshnitsa (Polikerason), Boris Stoyanoff from Gabresh (Gavros),

Vangel Kalaydjia from V'mbel (Moshohorion), Bay Kale, Bay Kuze

and Risto Naskoff - all from Ezerets (Petropoulakion), Dimitar Ivanov

Mihailoff, the controversial, but dynamic leader of the interwar

IMR0.

The main leaders and organizers during the early phase of

activity from 1941 to 1942 were Tsvetan MIadenoffFY and Andon

Kalcheff in the Lerin (Florina) region and Georgi Sarakinoff in the

Voden (Edessa) region. Kalcheff was born in the village of

Zhuzheltsi/Kostour (Spilea/Kastoria) in 1910 and immigrated along

with his family to Bulgaria in 1921. From a well known IMRO family

dedicated to the ideals of a united and free Macedonia, Kalcheff was

educated at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. From 1931 to 1940,

Kalcheff studied in Germany obtaining a Doctorate in Finance. In 1940,Kalcheff returned to Bulgaria and was immediately mobilized into the armed forces and commissioned as an officer.JJS Kalcheff was to eventually obtain the rank of Major. It was Kalcheff who would lead the whole military organization in south western Macedonia in 1943 and 1944. Later German accounts mention that he was a strong, stately and overall very impressive man. All the liaison officers had their own little headquarters which were directly answerable to the army headquarters in Sofia. They were attached to the German military kommandanturen (military commands)to facilitate their connection with the local population and they also

aided in the activities of the Bulgarian club established in Salonika.

Moreover, in addition to the liaison officers in service at the German

headquarters, Bulgarian interpreters were also sent to assist in the towns of Kostour (Kastoria), Voden (Edessa), Lerin (Florina), Kaylari

(Ptolemaida) and the city ofSolun (Salonika). By 1943, the main local village company leaders in the Kostour (Kastoria) district were Pando Makrieff from the village Chetirok(Mesopotamia), Nikola Georgieff from Kondorobi (Metamorphosis),Paskal Kalemanoff "Dobrolitski" from Dobrolishcha (Kalohorion),Vasil Yanakieff from Maniak (Maniaki),  Naso Kachamata from Lobanitsa (Agios Dimitrios), Mihail Ristovski and Dinto Soulov from Chereshnitsa (Polikerason), Boris Stoyanoff from Gabresh (Gavros),Vangel Kalaydjia from V'mbel (Moshohorion), Bay Kale, Bay Kuze and Risto Naskoff - all from Ezerets (Petropoulakion), Dimitar Ivanov from Zagorichani (Vasilias), Ivan Minov from Zhelovo(Andartikon), Lazar Miadenoff from Rupishcha (ArgosOrestikon), Luka Dimanin from the village of Drenoveni(Kranjonas), Dimitar Gochev from Kumanichevo (Litya) and many others.

(1) Chetiro (Mesopotamia), (2) Zagorichani (Vasilias), (3) Blatsa(Oksya), (4) Tikveni (Kolokithou), (5) Starichani (Lakomata), (6)Gorentsi (Korisos), (7) Dobrolishcha (Kalohorion), (8) Zhuzheltsi(Spilea) (9) D'mbeni (Dhendrohori), (10) Kosinets (leropigi), (11)Drenichevo (Kranohorion), (12) Gabresh (Gavros), (13) Bobishcha(Verga), (14) Kumanichevo (Litya), (15) Churilovo (Agios Nikolaos),(16) Olishcha (Melisotopos), (17) Izglibe (Porya), (18) Kondorobi(Metamorfosis),  (19)  Tiolishcha  (Tihio),   (20)   Sheshteovo(Sidherohorion), (21) Visheni (Visinea), (22) Pozdivishcha (Halara),(23) Chemovishcha (Mavrokampos), (24) Drenoveni (Kranionas)

(25) V'mbel (Moshohorion), (26) Lobanitsa (Agios Dimitrios), (27)

Breshcheni (Avgi), (28) Zhelegozhe (Pendavrison), (29) Chiflik (Ayia

Ana), (30) Ludovo (Kria Nera), (31) Ezerets (Petropoulakion), (32)

Snicheni (Kastanofiton), (33) Semasi (Kremaston), (34) Markoveni

(Ambelohorion), (35) Pesiak (Amudara), (36) Bela Crkva

(Asproklisya), (37) Shkrapari (Asproneron), (38) Mangila (Ano

Perivolion), (39) Marchishcha (Kato Perivolion), (40) Doleni

(Zevgostasion), (41) Setoma (Kefalarion), (42) Maniak (Maniaki),

(43) Bapchor (Pimenikon)and other villages with smaller companies.22 In the Kostour (Kastoria) and Lerin (Florina) counties there were 1,600 men under arms. Over 1,000 of these men were in the Kostour area alone, including the sizeable companies based in the town of Kostour (Kastoria) with some 200 men under the command of Lazar Mladenoff and 180 men in the town of Rupishcha (Argos Orestikon) led by Paskal Kalemanoff, with a

further 130 men under the leadership of Dimitar Ivanov based at the village of Zagorichani (Vasilias). The Voden (Edessa) district also had a further 700 Macedonian militiamen under arms.  

The Italian officers who were in command of the Italian force

for the whole Kostour (Kastoria) district and as a result also the

nominal commanders of this early security formation were Division

Commander A. Venieri and his assistant officer known by the name

'Ravalli'.24 The headquarters for the IMRO committee was set-up in

Kostour (Kastoria) itself, from which Kalcheff and his supporters

would visit all the villagers in the district.

Not only did they manage to arm the greater majority of

villages in the county in which Macedonians lived. They even

managed to arm some villages from the Lerin (Florina) district which

border the Kostour (Kastoria) district as well. Some of the Lerin

(Florina) villages armed in 1943 were: Trsye (Trivounon), Turye

(Korifi), Nered (Polipotamos), Lagen (Triandafilya), Prekopana

(Perikopi), Banitsa (Vevi), Srebreno (Asproyia), German (Agios

Germanos) and others. The village of Zhelevo (Andartikon) in

addition to the large militia company numbering in excess of 70 men,

was also used as an outlying base for an Italian garrison and

Carbiniera (police).25Kalcheff s success in arming villages was based on appealing to simple concepts that the average Macedonian peasant could readily identify with. Kalcheff and his followers were able to easily exploit the deep rooted anti-Greek sentiment that was brewing within the vast majority of Macedonian peasants. However, in order to convince the peasants to take up arms as part of the greater Axis cause required some shrewd propaganda. Captain Patrick Evans, a British Liaison Officer of the Special Operations Executive parachuted into south western Macedonia in 16 September 1943, describes in his top secret report Kalcheffs modis operand!, citing a deposition given by a

woman captured by the ELAS andartes in an attack on Prekopana

(Perikopi).

The Slav-Macedonians fear and distrust Britain on the whole,

though they have usually shown them friendly to British

officers and or's in the mountains during the occupation, once the

British had shown themselves forthcoming and not standoffish.

The reason for this distrust is that in the Macedonian peasant's

mind Britain is linked with the King of Greece and the King with

Metaxas, who made the Slav language illegal in Greece and fed

people on castor oil for speaking it. During the occupation Bulgar

propaganda was quick to exploit this angle of the situation. 'Kaltchef

and some others came to our village from    Kastoria and they

gathered all the people together and told us "The Andartes are with

the British and the British will bring back the King and an old Greece

[i.e. the Greece of Metaxas]. Therefore you must take arms against

the Andartes".

Another action that was successful in gaining and winning the

peasants trust was the initiative of Kalcheff and other committee

members for the negotiated release of Macedonian prisoners of war

held by the Italians and Germans, and also the Macedonian political

prisoners held by the Greek authorities in the prisons and internment

camps situated on the islands of Makronisos, Cephalonia, Thasos and

others.This move was an apparent public relations success and

opened doors to villages and individuals which hitherto viewed the

'Ohrana' operatives in great skepticism and as agents of the Gestapo.

Some of the released men promptly volunteered their services to the

IMRO committee office in Kostour (Kastoria), offering their services

as Italian and German interpreters and liaison personnel, many of

them having gained a working knowledge of the languages in their

period of incarceration.

The men recruited to the 'Ohrana' village bands were not

lacking in soldierly qualities by any means. Most of them had served

as conscripts in the Greek army, which successfully pushed back the

Italian invasion force in 1940 and fought heroically in the sub-zero

temperatures of the Albanian mountains. They surpassed all other

units with their durability and their ability to withstand extreme cold.

However, more importantly, in terms of pedigree, their fathers and

grandfathers invented hit and run, and defensive, set-piece guerilla

warfare forty years earlier. They were guerilla fighters9 par excel

lance, and did not need to be taught how to ambush and disable a

larger fighting force.

Objectives and Ulterior Motives

The 'Ohrana' bands were originally formed by the Italians

with the intention of serving as 'anti-Andartes' squads and also with

the ulterior motive of dividing the population as part of the "divide

and rule" philosophy employed by occupiers since the dawn of time.

However, due to the IMRO involvement both locally and externally,

the ideology and objectives of the bands were formulated by their

own commanders and NCO's with only minor consultation with the

Italian liaison officers. Therefore, the bands, far from merely being

collaborationist formations, set their own agenda based on their own

goals and the whole movement took on a life form all of its own.

The principal Italian objective was to divide the population,

deprive the communist ELAS fighters access to villages and a steady

food supply and create a protective ring around the main roads that

linked the key towns, such as the Kostour (Kastoria) - Sorovich

(Amindeon) road and other important thoroughfares that required

guarding from ELAS attacks on supply columns.

The agenda of the bands, however, was to curtail the arrogant

and lawless behaviour of their own brethren who had become

Grecophiles — the notorious 'Grkomani'. To flush out spies (shpioni)

and neutralize the behavior of the Vlachs, Kachauni and Prosfiges —

especially the Pontian refugee sub-group.30 All efforts possible were

to be made to prevent the forcible recruiting of young Macedonian

peasants by the ELAS 9th and 10th Divisions based in western

Macedonia as well as self-defense against raids from ELAS and the

Greek nationalist bands also operating in the area. Most importantly,

the bands main objective was simply to guard and protect their

villages, hearths and kin from Greek excesses. In a general context, to

facilitate the re-incorporation of Greek occupied Macedonia back into

a re-formed and united Macedonia at the appropriate time in the

future and to put to an end the reign of Greek terror.

IMRO's involvement in 'Ohrana' in 1943 was of a more or less

indirect nature - chiefly through Ivan Mihailov's support for Ante

Pavelic's mission to Mussolini and afterwards with an amount

through the Macedonian Popular Bank. Mihailov was not accepted

in Rome, but Mihailov's long time friend. Ante Pavelic, the leader of

the independent Croatian state convinced Mihailoff that he could

represent the interests of IMRO and the Macedonian population of

south western Macedonia in his mission to Rome.

In early 1943, Pavelic visited Rome meeting with Mussolini

and his Foreign Minister and son-in-law Count Galeazzo Ciano.

Pavelic managed to succeed where the previous Bulgarian delegations

had failed in persuading the Italian army to arm the Macedonian

population in order for it to defend itself from the raids of the Greek

Andartes and Albanian nationalists. According to a source from the

old pre-communist Bulgarian National Security Service, the change in

attitude of the Italian occupation authorities towards the Macedonian

population was due to the decisive intervention of Ivan Mihailov

through Ante Pavelic.

Prior to this intervention, the Italian occupational authorities

in south-western Macedonia tended to favor the Greek nationalist

formations and quisling administration as well as the Albanian

nationalist bands. Croatia's importance as an axis ally and Pavelic's

respected standing with the Italians and the Germans was the deciding

factor in favor of the Macedonians, coupled with the fact that the

Italians wished to neutralize the potentially hostile Macedonians and

thus have one less enemy.

In the beginning of April 1943, on the initiative of the

leadership of the IMRO, a delegation of the Kostour Brotherhood in

Sofia set out for Kostour (Kastoria). The delegation included the

president of the brotherhood Spiro Vasilev and the members Georgi

Kiselincheff, Tome Bakracheff, Dr.Dimitar Palcheff and Nikola

Trifonoff. Upon their return to Bulgaria they compiled and presented

a comprehensive report to King Boris detailing their mission. In the

report they described the terrible and unhappy lot of the Macedonian

peasant population as well as the creation of the Macedonian-

Bulgarian action committees and the militia formations and their

armed resistance to the ELAS andartes terror. The delegation

requested 1000 rifles, 20 light and heavy machine guns and the

necessary quantity of munitions so that all volunteers be armed. The

report also pointed to the high combat spirit of the people and the

militiamen and insisted that Bulgaria must also give political support

to the insurgents.

Violence and Bloodshed

The formation of the Ohrana' bands and the growing

confidence of the local Macedonian population enraged the minority

Turkish refugee Greeks and the Grecophiles, who up to this time held

sway over the population with acts of violence and threats of

persecution. Now, with the 'Ohrana in firm control in all the districts

of the county, the threats from the refugee Greeks and the

Grecophiles was reduced to impotence and even ridicule.

Many leading refugee Greeks and Grecophile Fanatics who

had persecuted Macedonians in the pre-war Metaxas junta years and

even earlier, were rounded up and jailed in Kostour (Kastoria) and

Rupishcha (Argos Orestikon). Also, key communist cadres and

agitators were also jailed. These punitive actions on certain occasions

led to violent retribution against particularly notorious prisoners held

by the militiamen as noted by Evans:

An incident which sheds some light on the Macedonian

problem in Greece is one which appeared in summer 43. An old

gentleman called Karageorgiou was living in Argos Orestikon; he was

the head of a much respected family in that district, and in the old

days under the Turks had been Chairman of the 'Greek Committee'

which provided a focus for local Greek unity against both Turks and

comitadjis. In 1943 old Mr Karageorgiou was thrown into prison in

Argos by the comitadjis, who were very active at that time in

terrorizing the Greeks. A young comitadji entered his cell, began to

beat him and ended by killing him, some say by smashing his head

against a wall, others by bashing it in with the heel of his boot. 33

While the militiamen were definitely forceful in their

methods and on certain occasions over stepped the boundaries, they

were still - by and large - remarkably humane by the standards of

those violent years and in direct comparison to their adverseries.

In early April, a battle formation consisting of 300 Ohrana bandsmen

and an Italian force of two battalions, attacked the ELAS positions at

the villages of Nestram (Nestorion),   Stensko (Stena), Chuka

(Arhangelos), Chiflik (Ayia Ana) and other surrounding villages.

What followed was a heavy four day battle

where the ELAS guerrillas were forced to retreat to Langa in the far

south of the county and regroup after being shaken at the ferocity of

the combined Italian/Ohrana offensive. It was now only a matter of

time before ELAS would strike back in order to restore lost

credibility. It was not a question of "if, but, "when" and "where".

The 28th of April 1943, was seemingly just another day in the

life for the peasants of the (Kostour) Kastoria district, when news

filtered through that ELAS had attacked the village of

Zhelegozhe/Kostour (Pendavrison/Kastoria), which was an Ohrana

stronghold, and burned all the Macedonian homes. An old

Macedonian woman known as "baba Zoya" was killed by the ELAS

marauders when she was burnt to death during this raid.

On the 1st of May 1943, ELAS launched an even more brutal

attack on the village of Starichani/Kostour (Lakomata/Kastoria).

ELAS was determined to sow the seeds of fear into the Macedonian

peasant population in the district who were actively participating in

Ohrana, by making a brutal example of the Macedonian militiamen of

Starichani. 600 ELAS Andartes attacked the village and rounded up

40 men — including the priest — and executed them all on the spot

without provocation or trial. The village was then pillaged and

burned.

The massacre at Starichani was the single largest atrocity

committed by Greeks on local Macedonians since the famous

massacre   perpetrated   by   the   Greek   mercenaries   at

Zagorichani/Kostour (Vasilias/Kastoria) on 25th March 1905, where

the Greek andartes massacred (according to the memoirs ofMakris - a

leader of the Greek participants) 150 men, woman and children. 3 7

If the object of the massacre at Starichani was to frighten the

Macedonians into non-participation in the Ohrana bands, in actuality,

it hastened the speed of recruitment and considerably swelled the

ranks of the Ohrana. The peasants felt a great need to be armed to

avoid the fate of Starichani. The massacres also heavily underlined

the propaganda of Kalcheff and his followers by bringing to life the

very fears they were propagating. ELAS's brutal actions drove many

villages into the arms of the axis forces to save themselves from

further horrors.

These callous attacks cemented in the local Macedonian

populaces mind negative images ofELAS. Despite ELAS containing

a sprinkling of Macedonians in its ranks and espousing a left wing

ideology of creating a new world order, ELAS in it's treatment of

Macedonians, was - in effect - not much better than the Quisling

Greek government and its armed supporters. It was commonly

perceived by Macedonians that all the Grecophiles and spies had

joined ELAS, and as a direct result - most Macedonians felt bitterness

or distrust towards the ELAS formations.38 Captain Patrick Evans

noted that:

"..... It was unprofitable anyway, except in villages permenantly

garrisoned by Andartes to display Greek sympathies

The ELAS attacks continued. On 2nd May 1943, the andartes

launched a series of attacks on the villages of Trsye (Trivounon),

Nestram (Nestorion) and Ezerets (Petropoulakion) and forcefully

abducted Macedonian youths. During the attack on Ezerets alone, 13

people were abducted. Local Macedonian youths were abducted

during the raids on the villages Zhupanishcha (Ano Levki), Nestram

(Nestorion), Chetirok (Mesopotamia), Rupishcha (Argos Orestikon),

Sveta Nedela (Ayia Kyriaki) and others.

During the attack on Kumanichevo (Litya) in the Kostour

(Kastoria) region, the militiamen succeeded in repelling the

numerically superior ELAS andartes formation in a heroic defensive

action. Also, the Macedonian militiamen in Zagorichani (Vasilias),

B'mboki (Stavropotamos) and other villages also in the Kostour

region refused point blank to surrender their weapons and also

repulsed the ELAS andartes. It was not just the communist ELAS

which was thrown into action against the Ohrana militiamen at this

time, but also the nationalist formations of Colonel Poulos, the so

called "Poulos Verband" based in Kailar (Ptolamaida) and the

infamous Greek nationalist organizations PAO and EKKA who

commenced a reign of terror over the Macedonian village

population.4j_ Due to the cruelties of the ELAS Andartes squads and

the other nationalist Greek armed formations over the local

Macedonian population, the situation continued worsening.

According to a report from the Bitola district governor from 10th of

May 1943 the Italian military authorities continued their

passive approach towards the ELAS Andartes and nationalist Greek

bands who were behaving aggressively. They continued attacking the

Macedonian villages, plundering and setting them on fire, as well as

murdering prominent local Macedonian activists and the relatives of

the militiamen. The district governor pleaded for more effective

protection of the local population as well as the supplying of

foodstuffs in order to relieve the famine of the Macedonian

population.

In a different report it was indicated that Venieri was

deliberately siding with the Greek nationalist bands and by his actions

was further worsening the situation of the Macedonian population.

Instead of assisting the militiamen fight against the ELAS andartes,

the Italians defied all logic by attacking the villages of Grache

(Ftelya), Drenichevo (Kranohorion), Zhelegozhe (Pendavrison) and

Nestram (Nestorion) with artillery inflicting severe damage. After

reporting information of this attack to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

the commander of the Fifth Army and the Army Headquarters

insisted that ministry intervene in Rome to stop the Italians randomly

destroying Macedonian villages.

While reporting on the difficult situation of the Macedonians

in Kostour (Kastoria) region, Colonel Ivan Marinov requested that the

Bulgarian army be allowed to occupy the Kostour region in

accordance with the German and Italian commands. Marinov also

personally oversaw the hand over of a supply of 960 rifles and 3

machine-guns with the necessary munitions to the Macedono-

Bulgarian Committee in Kostour (Kastoria). Spiro Vasilev and the

remaining members of the delegation assisted in the organization and

strengthening of the village companies. The delegation also assisted

in the appointment ofNCO's, the organization of a police service and

the order of command at the HQ in Kostour (Kastoria). In a report

titled "Kostoursko Denes" (Kastoria Today) from 11th August 1943,

Spiro Vasilev stated that the Italian military authorities were not

fulfilling the obligations as was originally agreed with the Central

Macedonian Committee in Kostour. Italy’s Capitulation and the Mission of Ivan Mihailov

In Italy at the end of July 1943, certain political events were

taking place which were to shape the course of the war and especially

the military-political situation in the Balkans. Mussolini was brought

down from power on July 26th, and the government of Marshal

Badaglio was created, which was to effectively take Italy out of the

war.

The subsequent military capitulation of Italy on the 8th of

September 1943 which signed an armistice with the allies that

required all Italian forces to lay down their arms, immediately created

acute logistical problems for the Germans and a nightmarish situation

for the Macedonians. The German occupation authorities were

suddenly confronted with the specter of having to garrison large

sections of the Greek mainland. To do this properly, the German

authorities would more than ever require the support of anti-

communists, ethnic minorities and other disaffected groups to assist

with the policing and garrison duties.

The immediate and pressing problem facing the Macedonians

was the loss of the Italians as a benefactor and the back-up security

this provided. A de facto cease fire came into affect. Also, prior to the

Italian capitulation, the "Shar" student corporation initiated the

concept of the creation of IMRO volunteer corps in order to aid the

population of south-western Macedonia. In accordance with this

initiative, Ivan Mihailov and his cohorts from the Central Committee

of IMRO decided without the authority or knowledge of the

Bulgarian government to commence direct negotiations with the

Wehrmacht.45 It was apparent that Mihailov and his associates had

broader plans than the initial student initiative. Mihailov formulated

plans which envisaged that the volunteer corps would not only protect

the populace from the ELAS Andartes raids, Greek nationalist bands

and Greek administration in south western Macedonia, but also to

spear-head moves for the creation of an spear-head moves for the

creation of an Independent Macedonia under a German aegis. It was

also anticipated that the IMRO volunteers would form the core of the

armed forces of a future Independent Macedonia in addition to

providing administration and education in the Lerin (Florina),

Kostour (Kastoria) and Voden (Edessa) districts under German

control.

Around 1st August 1943, Ivan Mihailov left Zagreb incognito

for Germany where he was to visit the main headquarters of Hitler

and the headquarters of the SD (Sicherheitsdienst, or Security Police)

where he spoke to Hitler and Himmler and other top German leaders.

From the scant available German information, it is apparent that

Mihailov received consent to create two to three battalions consisting

of volunteers armed with German weapons and munitions. Moreover,

these battalions were to be under the operative command and disposal

of Reichsfuhrer-SS Himmler. Additionally, in Sofia talks were held

between high-ranking functionaries of the SS and the IMRO Central

Committee members V. Kurtev, G. Nastev and D. Tsilev who

maintained extensive links with the Germans.

After reaching an agreement with Mihailov in Berlin,

Himmlers HQ undertook concrete steps for the formation of the

IMRO companies. This could be evidenced by a letter of the German

minister plenipotentiary in Sofia from 10th October 1943 to

Wilhelmstrasse. In it he informs that the Hauptbahnfuhrer of the SS,

Heider had established contact with the military attache of the Reich

in the embassy. In his conversations with him, he clarified that he is

commissioned from the SS HQ in Berlin to organize and head

volunteer squads from IMRO supporters from Bulgaria as well as

local volunteers, who after being clothed and armed would be sent to

fight the ELAS guerrillas in south western Macedonia.48

During the same period as his mission, the SS representative

also consulted with the representative of the German intelligence in

Bulgaria - Dr. Delius. He turned his attention to the political aspects

of the tasks given to him and the necessity for close contacts with

Neubacher in Belgrade. Despite the confidential character of the

negotiations between Mihailov and the SD, the Bulgarian government

obtained certain information about them via the Bulgarian legation in

Zagreb and the Military Intelligence. In this way, on 20th December

1943 its agent "T" sent a confidential report to the chief of the

Intelligence Department at the Army headquarters, Colonel S.

Kutsarov. In it we read:

"About a month ago (November 1943) the German command has

commissioned the IMRO - Ivan Mihailov, who recently lives in Zagreb, to take the administrative control of Kostour, Lerin and Voden under German supervision. In preparation for this aim, the IMRO Central Committee members V. Kurtev and G. Nastev who were living in Sofia, began organizing all the company leaders, bandsmen and terrorists who had been active in the past. After receiving instructions as to the nature of their respective missions, they were sent to the designated districts to take the fight up to the Greek guerrillas and organize the local population into armed

squads.

In regard to the organizing of the volunteer companies of

IMRO, under the orders of the Central Committee, Reserve

Lieutenant Georgi Dimchev set off for Zagreb in the beginning of

September 1943. Dimchev was one of the leaders at that time of the

Macedonian Youth Union (MMU) in Bulgaria. Once in Zagreb,

Dimchev met with Ivan Mihailov who explained to him the nature of

the tasks of the volunteer companies and provided Dimchev with a

plan of their organization and command.

German and ELAS Attacks

In early March 1944, the Germans taking up where the

Italians left off, reformed, re-organized and re-armed the village

companies in the Kostour (Kastoria) district. Soon after the villages in

the Voden (Edessa) and Lerin (Florina) districts were also armed and

prepared for service. All the villages in the Kostour district who had

participated with such distinction the year before were again ready for

service. The exception being the villages of D'mbeni (Dendrohori),

Drenichevo (Kranohorion) and a few others who had been seduced by

communist propaganda and had defected to ELAS ranks and the

newly formed S.N.O.F. brigade.

By May 1944 bases of company strength spmng up around

the country side and the area around Kostour (Kastoria), the local

lake, and the vital Klissura Pass were soon in the militia's control. The

expansion and re-arming of the militia extended into Lerin and Voden

by Kalchev's loyal cadres. The participating villages that were armed and mobilized in the Lerin (Florina) district included:

Sorovich (Amindeon), Vrbeni (Itea), Banitsa (Vevi), Popozheni

(Papayianni), Voshtareni (Meliti), Nevolyani (Skopia), Doino Kotori

(Kato Idrusa), Lagen (Triandafilea), Armensko (A'lona), Neret

(Polipotamos), Oshchima (Trigonon), Germanos (Aghios ), Sekulevo

(Marina), Pesoshnitsa (Ammohori), Srebreno (Asprogiya), Turie

(Korifi), Prekopana (Perikop), Aytos (Aetos), Ekshi Su (Xino Nero),

Zeienich (Sklitron), Brezhnitsa (Vatohori), Orovo (Piko).

And many others including the town of Lerin (Florina) which

also had its own sizeable company.53^ The active villages in the

Voden (Edessa) district most frequently mentioned were: Mesimer

(Mesimerion), Pod (Flamurya), Orizari (Rizarion), Yavoryeni

(Platani), Vladovo (Agras), Gugovo (Vrita), Teovo (Karidya),

V'lkoyanovo (Liki), Nisiya (Nision), Slatina (Hrisi), Ostrovo

(Amisa), Oshlyani (Agia Fotini), Margarita and many others.

Moreover, companies were also organized in the sub-prefectures of

Kailyari (Ptolamais), Enidje Vardar (Yianitsa) and Gumendzhe

(Goumenissa).

Meanwhile, ELAS was on the rampage attacking villages

across Macedonia perpetrating calculated acts of terror. On 15

March 1944 the village ofVeschitsa (Angelohorion) was raided and a

villager Georgi Krechkov was executed. On the same day, the

brothers   Kozov   from   the   village   of  Likovishcha/Ber

(Lukovitsa/Veria) were summarily executed. On the 16th of March

ELAS  raided the  village  of Petrovo/Gumendzhe  (Agios

Petros/Goumenissa) where they rounded up and executed 9 villagers.

Also, on the same day a further 6 villagers were executed in the

ELAS raid on the village ofTresino/S'botsko (Orma/Aridea).55

On 27th March 1944 the village ofVeschitsa (Angelohorion)

was raided and a villager Georgi Krechkov was executed. On the

same day, the brothers Kozov from the village of Likovishcha/Ber

(Lukovitsa/Veria) were summarily executed. On the 16th of March

ELAS  raided the  village  of Petrovo/Gumendzhe  (Agios

Petros/Goumenissa) where they rounded up and executed 9 villagers.

Also, on the same day a further 6 villagers were executed in

the ELAS raid on the village of Tresino/S'botsko (Orma/Aridea).55

On 27th March 1944 ELAS guerillas attacked the village of

Tikveni/Kostour (Kolokinthou/Kastoria) destroying the bridge and

burning most of the village to the ground.

The Militiamen from the Kostour and Voden districts were

actively involved in the German anti-guerrilla sweep "Operation May

Thunderstorm" which was launched on May 4th 1944 in the region

south of Voden (Edessa), Macedonia. The German forces involved in

this operation amounted to around 600 men from the 4th SS Division

in the form of the Battle Group "Lange". They were ably supported

by several IMRO volunteer companies from the Kostour (Kastoria)

and Voden (Edessa) districts.

In the beginning of May 1944 the Waffen-SS company that

had been in the Kostour (Kastoria) area was unexpectedly withdrawn.

This move was a "Green light" for the local guerrilla regiment of the

9th ELAS Partisan Division to launch a series of attacks aimed at

taking control of not only the towns and hamlets in the region, but the

vitally important Klissura Pass as well. The large company numbering 200 men that was based in the town of Kostour (Kastoria) along with the Rupishcha (Argos Orestikon) company numbering 180 men was outnumbered and were forced to withdraw from the Kostour area in the second week of May, 1944. It withdrew towards the direction of Salonika, but an urgent message to the German Military Commander in Salonika managed to convince the German command of the need to supply replacement German troops with which to regain control of the town of Kostour (Kastoria) and the Klissura Pass as well. The Kostour militia was turned around and sent forward, now reinforced by a German rifle company.

Soon the Klissura Pass was reached without incident and

recaptured. A volunteer company of the Kostour militia, formed from

volunteers from the hamlet of Zagorichani (Vassiliada) and the

village of Banica (Vevi) from the Lerin (Florina) region was the first

to advance on Kostour (Kastoria), entering the town on May 29th

1944. The company had begun receiving rifle and machine-gun fire

when it reached the Rupishcha (Argos Orestikon) area, but quickly

pushed ahead and attacked the town head on. The attack was so quick

and fast, that the headquarters' company of the ELAS unit which had

made its residence in the town was captured by the militiamen. This major success was offset two days later, when the"Vermio" Detachment (belonging to the ELAS 9th Partisan Division)

attacked a force that had been organized by Major Andon Kalchev at

the village ofYavoryeni (Platani), near Voden (Edessa), killing 50 of

the IMRO militiamen during the fierce, three hour battle. ELAS

accounts boasted that their losses only included 5 dead and 30

wounded. It was a disaster that would not be forgotten - but in the

months ahead, worse was to follow.

IMRO Volunteer Battalions

In addition to the village companies in these counties, there

was also formed three volunteer battalions. These were organized by

the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) and

were to carry the name "IMRO Volunteer Battalions". They were

formed after the arrival of the IMRO cadres from the Sofia IMRO HQ

who arrived initially in Voden. The IMRO cadres who set off for

Voden were Ivan Motikarov, Ivan Ilchev, Atanas Pashkov, Dobri

Boumbalov, Metodi Kerpachev, Stefan Bochvarov, Georgi Begimov,

Konstatin Popov and others.

Prior to their arrival, they had met up with Georgi Dimchev

and Dimitar Tsilev both officers of Macedonian origin in the

Bulgarian Army stationed in Bitola and together they arrived in

Voden (Edessa) on 16th June 1944. The delegation of IMRO cadres

and army officers met up with the German Kommandant, Major

Heider of the Waffen SS with whom they discussed the formation of

the volunteer corps. This was in accordance with the agreement

Ivan Mihailov and IMRO struck with Hitler and Himmler for the

formation and arming of volunteer companies and battalions.

The first formed was the Kostour (Kastoria) Battalion which

was designated as the 1st IMRO Volunteer Battalion - "Kostour", but,

commonly referred to as the "Kostoursko Battalion" (Kastoria

Battalion). The key figure in the organization of the Kostour Battalion

was Captain Ivan Motikarov who was ably assisted by Hristo

Lagadinov. Together with 30 volunteers, they set off for the town of

Kostour and proceeded to form the volunteer corps from the

enthusiastic volunteers.  The Kostour Battalion consisted of 500

volunteers who were drawn from the surrounding communities who

were to assist the local village companies in defending themselves.64

The IMRO Volunteers in Kostour wore Italian Army

uniforms with arm bands that were Red and Black with the

inscription: "Volunteer Battalion Kostour" in yellow lettering. The

Reserve Company of the Battalion was located in Kostour itself and

was supplied with machine-guns and even mortars.65 One

"Marksman" Company from the Kostour Battalion was detached in

the summer of 1944 and assigned to a reinforced company of the 4th

SS Police Armored Infantry Division which was making a sweep of

the area. The move was an apparent success for everywhere that the

Waffen-SS company and the "Kostour" volunteer company went was

soon cleared of ELAS guerrillas. The civilian population was so

afraid of this battle group that their very presence in an area was

enough to quiet any civilian protest.

The second to form was the 3rd IMRO Volunteer Battalion -

"Voden", which was also referred to by it's town of origin -

"Vodensko Battalion" (Edessa Battalion). The men who were

responsible for the formation and leadership of this Battalion were

Georgi Dimchev and Atanas Pashkov. Dimchev was a local hero,

having been born in the village of Bozec/Enidzhe Vardar

(Atira/Yiannitsa) and his assistant Pashkov and other volunteers were

most successful in gathering volunteers not only from Voden

(Edessa), but also from the adjacent counties of Enidzhe Vardar

(Yianitsa) and Gumendzhe (Goumenissa). They assembled a force of

800 enthusiastic men who were armed and ready for service for the

fatherland. The Voden Battalion wore re-cut Italian uniforms consisting of trousers, jacket with straps and the hat which featured prominantly the symbol of the Macedonian revolutionaries - the skull and cross bones. Above that a red with black cross. On the sleave there was a shoulder patch with the Latin intials B.D.V. - signifying "Bulgaro-Macedonian Volunteers - Voden".

There were also plans to form a seperate Volunteer Battalion

in the town ofEnidzhe Vardar (Yiannitsa) based on the models of the

Kostour, Lerin and Voden Battalions, but the German high-command

refused permission for its formation.69 The last to form was the lind

IMRO Volunteer Battalion - "Lerin", which needless to say, much

like its counterparts in Kostour and Voden was referred to simply as

the "Lerinsko Battalion" (Florina Battalion). By 15th August 1944 the

1st "Kostour" and 3rd "Voden" Battalions were already in active

service, while the 2nd "Lerin" Battalion was still in the process of

being organized and trained. 70

It was envisaged that these battalions would form the

vanguard of the whole Macedonian military effort in Western

Macedonia and would spear-head the drives and sweeps against the

ELAS guerrilla forces. They were considered an elite fighting force in

much the same manner as the German SS. The Kostour (Kastoria)

Battalion was to gain a fearsome reputation in the sweeps and drives

it participated in and for courage under fire - and was considered the

most prestigious of the three battalions.

Regular rotation of these volunteers to different bases and

regions, plus the regular pay and allowances like German forces

received was a great aid in keeping the morale of these volunteers up

and in no case was any of these volunteer bases ever successfully

attacked by the Communist guerrilla bands.71

The Last Hoorah!

After ELAS had failed to succeed in its attempts to discredit

the volunteer IMRO militia bands in the eyes of the local population,

the anti-fascist bands of EAM and ELAS instigated a drastic program

of systematic violence in the villages against relatives of the

volunteers. They were arrested, beaten and shot in public, and their

houses were plundered and burned. In order to                      I

prevent the further recruitment of new volunteers by the IMRO

militias or battalions, ELAS forcibly mobilized all the Macedonian

peasants of fighting age into its Greek units. In one report of Colonel

Mirchev to the staff of the army from 5th June 1944, it was reported

that the ELAS Andartes took captive the band led by Kosta

Kachaunov near the village of Turye (Korifi) - consisting 28

militiamen. In order to frighten the local population, the ELAS

andartes then proceeded to slaughter all the militiamen in cold blood.

On 12th June 1944 the combined IMRO "Marksman"

Company / 4th Waffen-SS Police detachment pounced on the village

of D'mbeni (Dhendrohori) in the Kostour (Kastoria) district to assail

two ELAS units which were stationed there. D'mbeni was a large

Macedonian village which had become a centre of communist activity

in the mountainous forests in the north-western region of the Kostour

district. The attacking battle group consisted of 80 IMRO

Battalionists and 50 heavily armed German storm troopers kitted out

in their distinctive camouflage uniforms. They were led by three

Macedonian NCOs and one German officer.

The battle group stealthily surrounded the village at dawn and

prepared to close in on the ELAS units by taking up key strategic

positions prior to the engagement. One of the ELAS units was hiding

in the village school-house, while the other ELAS unit was billeted in

various houses in the village. When the ELAS guerillas realised that

they were surrounded, they began firing and they attempted to

withdraw from the village. A heavy engagement ensued that lasted an

hour. Nine ELAS guerillas were killed as were three Germans. One

German was heavily wounded. The collateral damage consisted of

one civilian killed and three wounded in the cross-fire. Also, one

house and fifteen barns were set ablaze. The ELAS units managed to

escape the encirclement during the engagement. On 3rd July 1944 Operation "Stone Eagle" was launched in the northern Pindus Mountains against elements of the 8th and 9th ELAS

Division. The operation lasted two weeks until the 17th July. The

German forces numbered some 12-15,000 men, which included

elements of the 4th SS Division, 639th Security Regiment and the 104th eJdger Division. The participating Macedonian

formations included the 1st IMRO Volunteer Battalion

"Kostour" from Kastoria and the 2nd IMRO Volunteer Battalion

"Lerin" from Florina. Also, taking part were the 3rd Police

Volunteer Battalion from Verria which was made up of Italians

and even some German raised Albanian Balisti. In addition to

these forces were also three security battalions from Kozani.

Accounts from ELAS sources admit to the ferocity of this

offensive, admitting that on account of this Axis attack, their

forces became seperated and cut off.

On 21st of August 1944 ELAS successfully attacked the

IMRO stronghold at the village of Chereshnitsa / Kostour

(Polikerason / Kastoria). During the battle, 20 IMRO militiamen

were reported killed in action and 300 militiamen were

captured. The ELAS commander gave orders that the captured

prisoners not be shot, but must be killed with the knife. This

order was carried out. ELAS accounts also boast of capturing 4

machine-guns and 150 automatic rifles. On 31st August 1944 as a small convoy of vehicles carrying men of the Kostour (Kastoria) Battalion was headed towards Salonika when ELAS guerrillas ambushed them. In the ensuing battle, the German liaison officer attached to the battalion, plus two of the Kostour Battalions IMRO assigned officers and 22 militiamen were killed. The end in Greece was coming quickly now and finally the Battalion was ordered to

begin a withdrawal from Kostour (Kastoria). The Klissura Pass

was already in guerrilla hands, so the withdrawal had to be

made under enemy fire.

 In September, two IMRO companies were wiped out in

the heroic defense of Voden (Edessa) by a combined ELAS 9th

and 10th Partisan Division attack.

Photographic Appendix

ABOVE: Vanco Mihailov

BELOW: Spiro Kitincev

 

FOOTNOTES:

1_. IMRO stands for the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary

Organisation, which was originally formed in Salonika in 1893 by a

group of Macedonian intellectuals with a Bulgarian national outlook.

The aim of the IMRO was to weld the villages of Macedonia into a

conscious nation and the autonomy of Macedonia. For more

information on the the formation of IMRO, see "The Politics of

Terror" by Duncan Perry (1988)

2. It must be point out that at this stage of Macedonian history, most

Macedonians felt themselves Bulgarian, or at the very least, pro-

Bulgarian. Macedonians stand to Bulgarians as Austrians stand to

Germans; the differences, especially at that time, are slight. While the

leadership was strongly Bulgarophile, within the ranks of the IMRO

companies and Battalions the picture varied with men who felt simply

Bulgarian, others who felt themselves Macedonian, but with strong

pro-Bulgarian sympathies, and some who felt simply Macedonian and

who did not care where national salvation was coming from. The

common thread that united them was an undying enmity toward

Greeks.

3. Chakalaroff and Kliasheff were from the village of Smerdesh

(Kristalopigi),   while   Pop-Traykoff  hailed   from   D'mbeni

(Dhendrohori). All from the Kostour (Kastoria) district.

4. See "The Greek Struggle in Macedonia 1897-1913" by Douglas

Dakin (Thessaloniki 1966) for a comprehensive account of the

massacres perpertrated by Greek merceneries during this period.

5. See "Fields of Wheat, Hills of Blood" by AnastasiaN. Karakasidou

(Chicago 1997) and also "The Macedonian Conflict: Ethnic

Nationalism in a Transnational World" by Loring M. Danforth (New

Jersey 1995) which examine the concepts for the construction and

formation of ethnic identities.

6. Greece received 51% of Macedonian territory. Serbia (Yugoslavia)

received 38% and Bulgaria 11%. For the brutal and

barbaric behavior of the Greek army in the Balkan campaign of

1912-13, see: "Carnegie Endowment For International Peace:

Report of the International Commission To Inquire into the

Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars" (Washington D.C.

1914) and the article "The Devastation of Macedonia" by H.M.

Wallis. "Quarterly Review" Vol. 220 (London Jan-Apr 1914)

7.  See "London Times" 27th July 1925 for details of the

massacre of innocent civilians at the villages of Triis, Karakoy

and Lovech (all in the Seres district). For examples of flagrant

government endorsed human rights abuses particularly against

ethnic Macedonians during the Metaxas dictatorship, see:

"Exiles in the Aegean: A Personal Narrative of Greek Travel"

(pp 387-389) by Australian author Bert Birtles (London 1938)

8. 'ELAS' is an acronym for Elinikos Laikos Apolettherotikos

Stratos (Greek Popular Liberation Army). 'Andartes' is the

Greek name for guerrilla fighters.

9. See: "Egeyski Buri: Revolutsionemoto Dvizhenye Vo

Vodensko i NOF Vo Egeyska Makedonia" (pp 104 & 123) by

Vangel Ayanovski "Oche" (Skopye 1975).

10. See: "Balgartskoto Natsionaino Delo vo Yugozapadno

Makedonia (1941-44)" article by Dr Dobrin Michev in

"Makedonski Pregled" (page 77) Volume XX, 1997, No 4.

(Sofia 1997) The original document can be viewed at the

Central Bulgarian Archives in Tmovo. File 23/1/792/4-5.

1_L See: "Kratka Istoricheska Biografia Na Rodnoto Mi Selo

Trsye" (pp 126-129) by Traian Andonoff Giorgioff (Toronto

1994) and "Uchasta Na Balgarite v Egeyska Makedonia 1936-

46 - Politecheska i Voena Istoria" (page 411) by Georgi

Daskalov (Sofia 1999) regarding the arming of the village of

Chetirok (Mesapotamia).

12. For in depth details on the occupations of Macedonian work

immigrants see: "Sojoumers and Settlers: The Macedonian

Community in Toronto to 1940" by Lillian Petroff (Toronto

1995) and "The Macedonians in Australia" by Peter Hill (Perth

1989)

13. Greek historian John Koliopoulos (1994) suggests that the

collaboration of the peasants with the Germans, Italians and the

Bulgarians was determined by the geopolitical position of each

village. Depending upon whether their village was vulnerable to

attack by the Greek communist guerrillas (ELAS) or the

occupation forces, the peasants would opt to support the side in

relation to which they were most vulnerable. When the Greek

communists created the SNOF, many of the former

collaborators enlisted in the new unit. In both cases, the attempt

was to promise "freedom" (autonomy or independence) to the

formerly persecuted Slavic minority as a means of gaining its

support. This argument is slightly flawed for a couple of

reasons. Those Macedonian villages (a small minority) that did

join ELAS instead of the 'Ohrana' village companies, did so

because they contained prominent co-villagers who had been

pre-war members of the KKE (Greek Communist Party). The

villages of Zhupanishcha (Ano Levki) and Orman (Kato Levki)

by the power of Koliopoulos's reasoning, should have come

under the influence of the IMRO village companies and

Battalions due to the fact that their geopoltical positioning was

in the middle of a thoroughly 'OhranaVIMRO Battalion sub-

district. Despite having the staunchly IMRO villages of Maniak

(Maniaki), Izglibe (Porya), Tikveni (Kolikinthou), Chetirok

(Mesopotamia),   Sheshteovo  (Sidherohori)  and  Setoma

(Kefalaria) spread all around, Zhupanishcha and Orman

remained within the ELAS camp. Only one man from

Zhupanishcha volunteered into the 'Ohrana' companies and

IMRO Battalions. SNOF's ranks were swelled by IMRO

bandsmen and Battalionists after the withdrawl of the German

forces from the Kostour (Kastoria) district in May 1944, and

particularly after Bulgaria's conversion to communism. Most of

the defections took place after it was apparent that the axis

cause was lost.

J_5. See: "Balgartskoto Natsionaino Delo vo Yugozapadna

Makedonia (1941-1944)" article by Dr Dobrin Michev in

"Makedonski Pregled" (page 82) Volume XX, 1997, No. 4.

(Sofia 1997).

16. Much good reading about the major participants can be

found in: "Uchasta Na B'lgarite v Egeyska Makedonia 1936

1946" by Georgi Daskalov (Sofia 1999)

F7. By all accounts, Tsvetan Miadenoff is said to have been

born in the village of Gomichevo/Lerin (Kelli/Florina).

18^ "Uchasta Na B'lgarite v Egeyska Makedonia 1936 1946"

(page 776) by Georgi Daskalov (Sofia 1999)

19. "Herakles & The Swastika: Greek Volunteers in the German

Army, Police & SS 1943-1945" (Page 40) by Antonio J.

Munoz. (New York - undated)

20. See: "Balgartskoto Natsionaino Delo v Yugozapadna

Makedonia (1941-1944)" article written by Dr Dobrin Michev

in "Makedonski Pregled" Volume XX, 1997, No. 4. (Sofia

1997)

21. For a comprehensive list of leaders and activists, see:

"Uchasta Na B'lgarite v Egeyska Makedonia 1936 1946"

(chapter six) by Georgi Daskalov (Sofia 1999)

22. For comprehensive lists of participating villages, see:

"Uchasta Na B'lgarite....", and "Etsi Arhise 0 Emphilious 1943

-1945" (Paris 1987). Also see: "Hroniko To Agona: StaArmata!

Sta Armata! Istoria Tis Ethnikis Antistasis" (pp 15-16) by

Tomos Defteros (Paris - undated)

23. See: "Balgartskoto Natsionaino Delo vo Yugozapadna

Makedonia (1941-1944)" article written by Dr Dobrin Michev

in "Makedonski Pregled" (page 81) Volume XX, 1997, No. 4.

(Sofia 1997)

24. See: "Egeyski Buri: Revolutsionemoto Dvizhenye Vo

Vodensko i NOF Vo Egeyska Makedonia" (Page 123)

byVangel Ayanovski (Skopye 1975).

25. See: "Kratko Istorichesko Biografia Na Rodnoto Mi Selo

Trsye" (pp 126-129) by Traian Andonoff Giorgioff (Toronto

1994).

26. See: "Report on the Free Macedonia Movement in Area

Florina 1944" by Capt. P.H. Evans, Force 133 FO 371/4349

03880 (Athens Dec. 1st 1944).

27. ibid.

28. A great uncle of the author after being held captive in Italy,

was released and promptly served as an interpreter at the HQ in

the town ofKostour (Kastoria).

29. ibid.

30. Vlachs are a formerly nomadic pastoralists (transhumant

shephards) who speak a Latin based language akin to modem

Romanian. They can be found in significant numbers all over

the Balkans, particularly in the Pindus mountain district of

Greece with the town of Metsovon forming their centre.

Kachauni are Grecophone colonists who originate from Epirus

who fled to Western Macedonia in the middle of the 19th

century to escape the repressive Turkish overlord of Yanina Ah

Pasha. Kachauni are formerly of Albanian ethnic stock. The

term "prosfiges" literally means "refugees" and does not

designate a specific group, but rather a collection of refugee

groups from diverse places. Most refugees in south-western

Macedonia originate from Asia Minor (Western Turkey) and

Pontus (Northern Turkey). These refugee sub-groups are

colloquilly known as "Micrasians" and "Pontians". Also, both

these groups were predominantly Turkophone.

3L See: "Balgartskoto Natsionaino Delo vo Yugozapadna

Makedonia (1941-1944)" article written by Dr Dobrin Michev

in "Makedonski Pregled"

32. ibid.

33. ibid.

34. See: "Svetii Likovi Od Egeyska Makedonia" (pp 111-112)

by Tashko Mamurovski (Skopye 1987).

3^. See: "The Inhabited Places of Aegean Macedonia" (Page

55) by Todor Simovski (Skopye 1978)

36. Todor Simovski et al, op cit.   (pp 88-89) Also see:

"Bulgartskoto Natsionaino Delo v Yougozapadna Makedoniya

(1941-1944)" article by Dr Dobrin Michev in "Makedonski

Pregled" (Page 45) VolumeXXI, No.l. (Sofia 1998) Michev

quotes the 29th of April for this attack and puts the number of

those executed at 33. The three day discrepency in the dates can

be explained simply. The source in the Macedonian publication

was probably an oral testimony and the Bulgarian source was

from the High Command office in Kostour. The discrepency in

the number of victims is a little more difficult to ascertain. It is

possible the oral testimony "rounded-up" the figures to 40. The

primary source of the Bulgarian document can be viewed at:

Central Bulgarian Archives at Veliko Tumovo, file 23, op. 1,

a.e. 820,L. 29.

37.  Dakin et al, op cit (page223) Also, see: "Bulgarian

Conspiracy" (pp 107-108) by J. Swire (London 1939)

38. See: "Kostourskiot Govor" (pp 19-20) by Blagoi Shklifov

(Sofia 1968)

39. Capt. P.H. Evans et al, op cit.

40. Central Bulgarian Archives at Veliko Tumovo, file 23, op.l,

a.e.792 L.70.

 

41. See: "Balgartskoto Natsionaino Delo vo Yugozapadna

Makedonia (1941-1944)" article written by Dr Dobrin Michev

in "Makedonski Pregled"

42. ibid.

43. ibid,

44. ibid.

45. ibid.

46. ibid.

47. ibid.

48. ibid.

49. ibid.

50. ibid.

51. S.N.O.F. is an acronym for Slaviano Makedonski

Osloboditelen Front (Slav-Macedonian National Liberation

Front)

52. See: "Herakles & the Swastika: Greek Volunteers in the

German Army, Police & SS 1943-1945" (Page 40) by Antonio

J. Munoz (New York - undated)

53. For lists of participating villages, see: "Balgartskoto

Natsionaino Delo vo Yugozapadna Makedonia (1941-1944)"

article written by Dr Dobrin Michev in "Makedonski Pregled"

54. ibid.

55. See: "Uchasta Na B'lgarite V Egeyska Makedonia 1936

1946" by Georgi Daskalov (Sofia 1999)

56. See: "Egeyska Makedonia Vo NOB 1941-1945" (a.e.53)

57. See: "Herakles & the Swastika: Greek Volunteers in the

German Army, Police & SS 1943-1945" (Page 35) by Antonio

Munoz (New York - undated)

58. ibid. (page 41)

59. ibid.

60. ibid.

61. ibid.

62. See: "Balgartskoto Natsionaino Delo vo Yugozapadna

Makedonia (1941-1944)" article written by Dr. Dobrin Michev

in "Makedonski Pregled" (pp 54-55) Volume XXI, 1998, No.l.

63. ibid.

64. ibid.

65. See: "Herakles & the Swastika: Greek Volunteers in the

German Army, Police & SS 1943-1945" (Page 40) by Antonio

Munoz (New York - 1996)

66. ibid. (Page 41)

67. See: "Balgartskoto Natsionaino Delo vo Yugozapadna

Makedonia (1941-1944)" article written by Dr. Dobrin Michev

in "Makedonski Pregled" (Page ) Volume XXI, 1998, No. 1.

68. See: "Uchasta Na B'lgarite V Egeyska Makedonia" by

Georgi Daskalov (Sofia 1999)

69. ibid.

70. See: "Herakles & the Swastika: Greek Volunteers in the

German Army, Police & SS 1943-1945" (Page 24) by Antonio

Munoz (New York - undated)

71. ibid. (Page 41)

72. See: "Kosturskoto Selo D'mbeni" (pp 122-123) by Lazar

Pop-Yanev (Skopje 1981)

73. ibid.

74. See: "Herakles & the Swastika: Greek Volunteers in the

German Army, Police & SS 1943-1945" (pp 35-36) by Antonio

Munoz (New York " undated)

75. See: "To Hroniko ton Agona - STA ARMATA! STA

ARMATA! - Istorias tis Ethnikis Antistasis" (page 104) by

Tomos Detteros (Paris, undated) also see P.H. Evans "Report

on the Free Macedonia Movement....* The ELAS journal does

not mention the execution of the captives and gives the total

number captured as 150.

76. See: "Herakles and the Swastika - Greek Volunteers in the

German Army, Police & SS" (page 41) by Antonio J Munoz

(New York)

77. ibid.