„The Cobblestone“ by Hristo Milanov Matov


This old pavement now covers the place where was once the ancestral home of the Matov’s in the city of Struga. A century ago, after the suppression of the Ohrid-Debar Uprising, the house was demolished by Serbian soldiers and ailing 86-year-old grandmother Petra was beaten and thrown into the dumping ground because of the work of her sons – prominent Bulgarian revolutionaries, activists of IMORO Christo and Milan Matov. 

Such was the direct consequence for this family as a result of the authoritarian drive for power of Tsar Ferdinand and the failures of General Mihail Savov and their entourage. The team of historians who undertake to explore and preserve the facts about this most significant at that time uprising on the Balkans, deserve sincere respect. On one hand, it mobilized the broadest masses of people, irrespective of their faith and ethnicity, on the other hand, albeit briefly, released from Serbian oppression a number of districts in western Macedonia. Also, this rebellion led to the migration of tens of thousands of people scattered along all directions of the world, but especially to their mother countries – some to the west – to Albania, the others to the east – to Bulgaria.

 One of the leaders of this rebellion was Milan Apostolov Matov, who after his successful battles in the Second Balkan War against the Serbian royal troops, was involved in the fight to protect the life and honor of the local population. After its unfortunate end he headed for the town of Elbasan in the young Albanian state. Together with his former schoolmate of his youth, Irfan Bey, he prepared in Macedonia a new confrontation against the invasive regime of the Kingdom of Serbia, by creating bands, building canals, providing weapons, attracting loyal locals for the Cause, etc. The first armed conflicts were at the beginning of September 1913. From lower Debar, in a few days, the uprising expanded to Western Macedonia. Everywhere the Serbian troops were defeated and turned into a stampede. In the liberated city of Debar was conducted the first major meeting of the rebels, at which the first local government headed by the Albanian Sefedin Pustina was elected. The Bulgarian „vilayet“ (district) leader Milan Matov was elected as chief military of the rebellion, and was provided with a deliberate power of attorney in Turkish to all Muslims – to obey him and do his bidding. In the larger settlements numerous armed squads were formed that were directed to sites of fighting. Milan Matov passed along those military gatherings on his way to Struga and Ohrid, with the intention of organizing the offensive to Bitola, while Serbia mobilized its forces to suppress the uprising. In Ohrid gathered the Bulgarian chieftains and leaders Anton Shibakov, Lev Ognianov, Pavel Hristov, Dimitar Ivanov, Peter Chaulev etc.., as well the Albanian combat leaders.

 The revolutionary government was filled with new members and the day of the solemn proclamation of liberation – September 18, was determined. But it never got to it, because the positions at Bukovo were smashed, and artillery projectiles bombarded the rebels. A terrible massacre of the population and the rout of hundreds of settlements started, which raised yet another exodus of thousands of refugees who left their homes forever. Even today, however, it all is not over and „ONE CAN NOT EXTINGUISH WHAT HAD GOETH NOT OUT“!

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