Foundation and activity of the Macedonian Scientific Institute (1923 - 1947)


(1923 – 1947)* 

Alexander Grebenarov 

After the First World War, the Macedonian refugees in Bulgaria restored or founded numerous organizations. Some were fleetingly existing, due to party affiliation, others – among them the Union of Macedonian Brotherhoods (from January 1923 renamed Union of Macedonian Emigrant Organizations), the Ilinden Organization and the Macedonian Youth Union – were long-lasting. They had a full-fledged organizational life and created a network of structures in the country. Among their priorities were mutual-aid and charity work. These formations ‘were giving a hand’ to suffering compatriots, who had no means, no job and no home. They also assisted the state authorities in their efforts to receive them and provide them with accommodation and land. Propaganda was another highlight of their activity. Their governing bodies sent reports to the League of Nations, to individual politicians, public figures, intellectuals, and other representatives of the great powers. With attached evidence, they protested against the clauses of the Neuilly Treaty (1919), which left a large Bulgarian population in Macedonia under the denationalizing regimes of Belgrade and Athens. The formations also raised political claims, announcing the establishment of an independent country – Macedonia, with equal participation in its management by all the nationalities inhabiting it. The idea of a Balkan Federation was also being promoted. The ideal of joining all of Macedonia to Bulgaria was not forgotten, but in the years of turmoil after the Great War, it remained in the ‘background’ as unrealistic. 

* The present study was carried out within the framework of a project of the Scientific Research Fund No. КП-06-H30/5 (“Bulgarians in the Western Balkans (100 years before and after the Neuilly Treaty”). 


In the autumn of 1923, a new formation, without analogue in the variety of refugee organizations established after 1918, began its history. The idea was officially presented on 23rd September, when, on the initiative of Spiro Konstantinov and Diamandi Kolev – both members of the Štip Charitable Brotherhood in Sofia – intellectuals born in Macedonia or of Macedonian ancestry were invited. The meeting took place in the auditorium No 45 of St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia. On that meeting S. Konstantinov delivered a paper in which he developed an old idea of his about founding a Macedonian cultural institute and emphasized the benefit of such an association. After extensive discussion, the activists approved the proposal to establish a new organization, chose a 12-member temporary Governing Board to prepare its establishment, and persons to be founders. The Board appointed a committee to draft a statute under the chairmanship of Prof. Ljubomir Miletič1. The Temporary Board, during the period of preparation, modified the vision of the character of the formation, originally envisaged as cultural. He accepted that the organization should be called the Macedonian Scientific Institute (MSI). In this spirit, a draft statute was sent to 52 activists – distinguished historians, linguists, ethnographers, writers, journalists, lawyers, doctors, economists, painters, etc. The news about the new organization was received with the hope that it would more effectively defend Bulgarianness in the region. 

Among the famous activists was Evtim Sprostranov: a popular public figure, writer and activist of the Macedonian liberation movement. After receiving the invitation, he expressed his ecstatic feelings in his diary: “The idea is wonderful. Something like the Bulgarian Literary Society in Braila or the Bulgarian Čitalište ‘community centre’ in Constantinople is going to be founded. We will be the Macedonian Academy of Sciences in Sofia ... I repeat, it’s a wonderful idea. May God help to consolidate this cultural endeavour and may it be transferred to Macedonia with greatness”2. 

The event of the official establishment of the Macedonian Institute was scheduled by the temporary management board for 21st December 1923. 

On that day, in auditorium No 10 of the St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia, at 6 p.m., 24 activists gathered, in front of whom the chairman of the assembly S. Konstantinov announced the agenda: “1. approving the draft statute and 

1 НА – БАН, ф. 36К, оп. 1, а.е. 396, л. 2. 
2 НБКМ – БИА, ф. 324, оп. 1, а.е. 1, л. 2953 – 2954. 


2. electing a governing board”. In the proposed draft statute the institute’s goals included studying history, ethnography, geography and economic life of Macedonia; collecting historical materials about the liberation struggles of the Macedonian Bulgarians and preparing a detailed history of these struggles; publishing a scientific-literary journal and other works (Art. 1). As a more distant goal, building a Macedonian cultural home was envisaged, in which an ethnographic museum would be located. 

The draft statutes, including the name – Macedonian Scientific Institute – were adopted with no amendment. After taking a short rest, the activists also voted the list of the 12-membered Governing Board3. 

It, in turn, elected from among itself an Executive Board composed of: Prof. Ivan Georgov – chairman, Prof. Aleksandăr Balabanov – first vice-chairman, Prof. Mihail Arnaudov – second vice-chairman, Spiro Konstantinov – secretary, and Diamandi Nikolov – treasurer. The mandate of MSI’s governing bodies was scheduled for three years. Those present welcomed with joy the idea of founding the Institute, whose specific character differed from the existing refugee organizations of Macedonian Bulgarians. Their wish was that the Macedonian Scientific Institute strengthen and be transferred to a free and independent Macedonia, where it would become the Macedonian Academy of Sciences ‘for pride and glory of Macedonian Bulgarians“4. 

Several persons expressed their willingness to support the new organization’s publications. In the following months, the euphoria about the establishment of the Institute gave way to organizational activity. The chairman Prof. I. Georgov sent a report to representatives of the scientific community in Western Europe. In it, he argued for which reasons the new organization was founded: the lawless situation of Macedonia’s Bulgarians, who had remained under the rule of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and of Greece, as well as falsification of the historical truth on the Macedonian question by the propagandas of both countries. In the same vein were the visits overseas of I. Georgov, L. Miletič and A. Balabanov. The three members of the Governing Board gave speeches, carried out talks, sought contacts and support for the Bulgarian cause in Macedonia from foreign diplomats, public figures and scientists. 

3 The elected members of the Governing Board were Aleksandăr Balabanov, Anton Popstoilov, Vasil Paskov, Georgi Baždarov, Danail Krapčev, Diamandi Nikolov, Ivan Georgov, Jordan Badev, Ljubomir Miletič, Mihail Arnaudov, Nikola Milev, Spiro Konstantinov (НА – БАН, ф. 36К, оп. 1, а.е. 396, л. 2). 4 НБКМ – БИА, ф. 324, оп. 1, а.е. 1, л. 2960. 


The ambitious leaders of the Institute were also engaged in publishing. Special attention was paid to the printed organ Macedonian Review whose subtitle read ‘a journal for science, literature and cultural life’. In the first months of the year, invitations to enrol subscribers were actively sent. The journal’s publication, with a volume of 16 printing signatures and periodicity 4 issues per year, was undertaken by the printing house of Petăr Gluškov. The call for subscribers and contributors dated 18th July 1924 stated: “First of all, the Institute sets itself the task of acquainting the foreign world, on which the future of our country depends, with our just demands. To this end, both the journal and all other publications will be sent free of charge to scholars and authoritative people throughout the world.”5 From the III volume, which appeared in 1925, the subtitle of the printed organ was ‘a journal for science, literature and public life’. 

In 1925, the head of all publications of the Institute, Prof. L. Miletič, started two series. The first – Materials for the history of the Macedonian liberation movement included memories of famous revolutionaries, which the prominent scientist recorded after the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising, and later processed. The nine books published in the period 1925 – 1928 revealed important details of the liberation struggle of the Macedonian and Thracian Bulgarians. In 1929 and 1931, two more books from the series were published, prepared by Stefan Avramov and Bojan Mirčev6. The publishing vision implemented by L. Miletič was esteemed by the leaders of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO). The member of the Central Committee Ivan Mihailov, saw the benefit of printing the sources. In his opinion, the MSI’s financial resources should be increased. 

Aware of the MSI’s strategic importance and its activities, he prophetically shared with his colleagues in the Central Committee: “We have behind us a living history that our adversary will continue to deny even when we will have expelled him from the borders of our homeland. And if, unfortunately, another 20 years of slavery pass and we are prevented from interviewing the elderly who live in Macedonia, the features of an era so precious to Bulgarianness will remain unmarked, and the marks of the present planted by Serbs and Greeks will stay”7. 

5 ЦДА, ф. 1932К, оп. 1 а.е. 403, л. 6. 
6 АВРАМОВ . СТ. Революционните борби в Азот (Велешко) и Поречието. Кн. X. София, 1929; МИРЧЕВ , Б. Революционната дейност в Демир Хисар (Битолско). По спо- мени на Ал. Стефанов. Кн. ХІ. София, 1931. 
7 ЦДА, ф. 1932К, оп. 1, а.е. 403, л. 26 – 34. 


For the period from 1925 to 1931, MSI published layman’s works of a second series named Macedonian Library. The first book Macedonia and the Macedonian Bulgarians was written by L. Miletič. The following authors were popular names among the readership: Georgi Baždarov, Ivan Georgov, Konstantin Solarov, Simeon Radev, Jordan Badev, Petăr Zavoev, Česare Spelancon, Vasil Uzunov, Andrej Tošev. During this period, the Institute also published books outside the above two series. The beginning was made in 1927, when Writings of Rajko Žinzifov, prepared by Zora Zdraveeva, and A Squadman’s Letters and Confessions by Hristo Siljanov were printed. Two years later, L. Miletič published both in Bulgarian and French Documents on the anti-Bulgarian actions perpetrated by Serbian and Greek authorities in Macedonia in 1912 – 1913. 

Among the compilers and authors of books also were Afanasij Seliščev, Marija Miletič- Bukureštlieva, Georgi Kandilarov, Dimităr Jaranov and others. Before the completion of one year since its establishment, the Macedonian Scientific Institute commenced to accept foreign participants. According to the statutes, they fell into the category of honorary members “who have distinguished themselves with special services t o Macedonia”. The first honorary member of MSI, announced on 4th November 1924, was the Russian professor Nikodim Kondakov. In the following years, as honorary members of the Institute were accepted André Mazon (France), Afanasij Seliščev (Russia), Gustav Weigand (Germany), Edward Boyle (Great Britain), Georges Desbon (France), Justin Godard (France), Léon Beaulieu (France), Léon Lamouche (France), Lubor Niederle (Czechoslovakia), Ludvík Kuba (Czechoslovakia), Mieczysław Małecki (Poland), Nikolaj Deržavin (Russia), Pavel Miljukov (Russia), Stanisław Słoński (Poland), Hans Koch (Germany). 

Among these scientists can be also counted Mihail Popruženko (Russia) and František Splítek (Czechoslovakia), accepted as regular members of the Institute, because of their permanent residence in Bulgaria. The scientific contributions of the listed foreign intellectuals, who supported the Bulgarian national cause in Macedonia after the First World War, are invaluable. Some of them studied history and ethnodemography, others studied language, folklore, culture – vehicles of historical memory. These worthy foreign members of MSI found courage to exhibit the Bulgarian character of Macedonia, regardless of the patronage policy of their own countries towards the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (since 36 Alexander Grebenarov 1929 renamed Yugoslavia) and towards Greece to the detriment of defeated Bulgaria. Many of them received recognition from other institutions as well, such as the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia, from the municipalities of Sofia and Gorna Džumaja (now Blagoevgrad)8. 

The MSI strengthened its activity even more after the election of Prof. Ljubomir Miletič as chairman in 19289. The composition of the Executive Board included Prof. Nikola Stojanov (vice-chairman), Aleksandăr Stanišev (vice-chairman), Spiro Konstantinov (secretary), Diamandi Nikolov (treasurer). Under the influence of L. Miletič, who has been a long-time dean, rector and chairman of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, established Bulgarian lecturers and scholars from St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Arts, the Theological Seminary, the Ethnographic and Archaeological Museum jointed the events even more actively. The artistic environment at MSI attracted famous writers, poets, journalists and public figures, who complemented the diverse appearance of the new organization. 

Therefore, it was no coincidence that during this fruitful period appeared many valuable publications by Bulgarian and foreign authors, related to history, the minority problems of the Bulgarian population in Macedonia, the demographic and economic development of the region, etc. Some of them were printed in foreign languages. In Macedonian Review, along with L. Miletič, appeared Petăr Mutafčiev, Ivan Snegarov, Veselin Beševliev, Stojan Romanski, Vladislav Aleksiev, Ivan Penakov, Hristo Vakarelski, Atanas Iširkov, Dimităr Jaranov, Kiril Mirčev, Ivan Dujčev, Ivan Hadžov. The printing organ of MSI published articles by the Russian scientists Afanasij Seliščev, Nikolaj Deržavin, Grigorij Ilinskij. A large part of the MSI’s members participated in the Album-Almanac Macedonia published by the National Committee of the Macedonian Brotherhoods in 1931. The foreign members of the Institute – Gustav Weigand and Léon Lamouche – appeared as authors on its pages. In 1927, the organizational progress of MSI marked an important acquisition. After several years of efforts to allocate a site for the construction 

8 See in more detail ГРЕБЕНАРОВ , АЛ., Н. ВОЙНОВА /Grebenarov, Al., Voynova, N. Чуждестранните почетни членове на Македонския научен институт (1923 – 1947) / Foreign honorary members оf the Мacedonian Scientific Institute (1923 – 1947). София, 2021. 
9 ЦДА, ф. 1076К, оп. 1, а.е. 380, л. 1; Гребенаров, Ал. Македонският научен институт. Документален летопис (1823 – 2009). София, 2009, с. 205, 213. 


of the Macedonian Cultural Home, the Metropolitan Municipality of Sofia satisfied the Institute’s request and on 15th July 1927 granted it a plot of 1448.40 m2 located between the streets Pirot (today Pirotska) and Lomska (toady George Washington)10. 

After a three-year delay in the construction, due to problems within the Macedonian liberation movement11, the beginning of the World Economic Crisis, which did not escape Bulgaria, as well as some technical misunderstandings omitted by Sofia Municipality, which handed over part of the plot to the Sofia Diocesan Candle Foundry Board for the construction of a candle foundry, and later to the Society of Technicians with Secondary Education, the Macedonian Institute lost part of the plot. After unsuccessful attempts to restore the entire plot in the early 1930s, it announced a tender for construction on the reduced area of 934.40 m2. 28 projects were presented within the specified period, which were exhibited in the office of the Institute then located at 16 Alexander I Street. 

The submitted projects were evaluated by the newly created Management Committee of the Macedonian Home, led by the MSI’s chairman Prof. L. Miletič. The first prize and 20,000 Bulgarian leva were awarded to the project by the architects Jurdan Jurdanov and Sava Ovčarov. On 2nd August 1930, on Prophet Elijah’s day (that Bulgarians call Ilinden)12, after a liturgy in St. Sofia church the attendees visited the building plot. After blessing holy water was made, the foundation stone was laid for the future Macedonian Home13. 

In May 1931, during construction, MSI ran into another obstacle. When the excavation reached a depth of approximately 5.50 m (with a planned 10.60 m), underground water came out. Due to the danger of the Sofia mineral bath drying up, the construction was stopped. Hydrological survey, discussions and lobbying among those in power then ensued. In the 

10 Отчет на Управителния съвет на Македонския научен институт за времето от 1 януари 1931 г. до 31 дек. 1937 г. София, 1938/ Report of the Governing Board of the Macedonian Scientific Institute for the period from January 1, 1931 to December 31. 1937, Sofia, 1938, pp. 13 – 15. 
11 After the assassination of the member of the Central Committee of IMRO Aleksandăr Protogerov (7th July 1928), the national liberation movement of the Macedonian Bulgarians underwent organizational complications. 
12 According to the church calendar of the time, the feast of Saint Elijah was celebrated on this day. 
13 Отчет на Управителния съвет/ Report of the Governing Board, p. 4, 19. 


Alexander Grebenarov summer of 1933, a solution was found: the Society of Technicians ceded the plot, receiving as compensation other plots, and the Institute occupied the plot of 1364 m2 on the condition that the excavation did not increase in depth14. Thus, due to the danger of the mineral bath drying up and the activists’ persistence, the issue of the Macedonian Home’s construction was resolved favourably for MSI. The rough construction of part of the building of the Macedonian Cultural Home (basement, shops and large hall) was completed in May – June 1934. 

The construction was financially supported by Macedonian brotherhoods and societies, the Ilinden Organization, the Macedonian Cooperative Bank, the Macedonian Popular Bank and incognito – by IMRO. Many refugees donated personal savings. Until 1934, the creditors were the two aforementioned banks, established with the support of the Revolutionary Organization. Even several ministers, such as Andrej Ljapčev, Stefan Stefanov, Stojan Kosturkov, Raško Atanasov, the Metropolitan Municipality, the Bulgarian Agricultural and Cooperative Bank, etc. took place in the donation campaign15. After 19th May of the same year, with the IMRO’s dissolution, the financial sources for construction became limited, which slowed down the pace of construction. 

The lack of funds forced the Institute to move to the Macedonian Home in the autumn of 1934 prematurely, in order to stop paying rent for the used premises at 16 Alexander I Street. Unlike most refugee organizations, the activities of the Macedonian Scientific Institute did not fully experience the restrictive measures introduced by the regime of the 19th-May coup d’état. According to the new regulations, it sent the documentation, including a new statute, for re-registration with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Public Health. 

The statute, which almost repeated the founding statutes of 1923, was approved by the ministry on 4th June 1935, which gave the Sofia District Court grounds to enter the Institute in the register of legal entities. The 21st of October 1935 was an important day for MSI: it received an official donation from Sofia City Municipality for the space of 1,364 m2 on which the Macedonian Home was to be built. According to the property deed, the site was donated with the condition that the home built on it be 

14 Ibidem, pp. 17 – 32; ДА – София, ф. 1К, оп. 1, а.е. 504, л. 544 – 546, а.е. 532, л. 4 – 6. 
15 ЦДА, ф. 1067К, оп. 1, а.е. 3809, л. 9. 


completed, the income of which would be used to fulfil the statutory objectives. A clause in the deed entitled the Metropolitan Municipality to reclaim the site altogether with the built home by paying back the Institute its building in case it “alters its objectives, changes its premises or dissolves”16. With the received property deed, the multi-year drama about the construction spot came to an end. The newly acquired property by MSI helped its activists to obtain loans by mortgaging the property, necessary to go construction works further on. At the General Annual Assembly of the Institute, held on 23rd January 1938, Prof. Nikola Stojanov, who had be serving as a chairman after L. Miletič’s death (1st June 1937), announced the long-awaited news of the opening of the Macedonian Cultural Home.

 It included an expanded area of more than 5,500 m2, with more than 100 separate premises, 22 shops and a restaurant. The floor above the ground floor was reserved to MSI, with a meeting room, several rooms, the chairman’s office, a room for the ethnographic-historical museum (300 m2) and a book depository. More than 50 rooms have been allocated for the needs of the brotherhoods. The Macedonian Home also sheltered the Ilinden Organization, which also had financed its construction. Due to the lack of income needed for the finishing works on the Macedonian Home’s construction, the Institute was looking for a way out of the situation: sums from the Ilinden Organization’s posthumous fund were being used; calls were being made for donations and for a public loan. 

A decision was made the Macedonian People’s Inviolable Capital Fund to be transferred from the Union of Macedonian Emigrant Organizations to MSI, as well as loans from funds pertaining to individual Macedonian brotherhoods. In order to cover the huge liabilities, the Institute rented out a large part of the building. When these funds did neither suffice, the Institute’s leadership mortgaged the Macedonian Home in order to obtain ‘fresh’ cash resources. In 1938 – 1939, the Governing Board, headed by Prof. Nikola Stojanov and the vice-chairmen Prof. Jordan Ivanov and Prof. Aleksandăr Stanišev, continued to accept new regular members: famous scholars, prominent figures from public and cultural life. Many of the newly admitted intellectuals did not have Macedonian ancestry, as was the unspoken tradition in MSI, but after a special decision of the Governing Board, this restriction for new members was 

16 Архив на Градски съд – София/ Sofia City Court – Archive, № 112, Т. XIV, рег. 2950. ГРЕБЕНАРОВ, АЛ. Op. cit., с. 115 – 117. 


Alexander Grebenarov removed. Due to a lack of ‘free’ financial means during this period, it limited its publishing activity. With the exception of Macedonian Review, publication of other printed material after 1933 was temporarily suspended17. With the beginning of the Second World War, both the refugees in the country and the Bulgarians living in Macedonia revived their hopes for a just resolution of the Macedonian question. During this period MSI had been obtaining an even growing place and role in the liberation movement. It became a leading social factor due to the well-preserved organizational potential of the intellectuals. Nikola Stojanov was among the proponents of a series of exhibitions dedicated to Macedonia’s accession to Bulgaria. 

The beginning was made on 15th July 1940, with a declaration by the governing bodies of five refugee organizations, followed by a circular dated August 30th of the same year. In a similar spirit, the Institute sent in August a Brief Explanation on the Macedonian Question to Germany, Italy and the USSR. It cited historical, geographical and demographic arguments from the Middle Ages to the Paris Peace Conference (1919 – 1920), proving the Bulgarian character of the region. In conclusion, was shared the long-standing desire of the Macedonian Bulgarians ‘for their homeland to be freed from foreign slavery and to join within its geographical borders to the motherland country – Bulgaria’18. In June 1941, when most of Vardar Macedonia was under Bulgarian administrative and military rule, MSI sent another explanation, this time to Italy and Germany. It contained data on the history and ethnodemographic development of Struga, Kičevo, Debăr, Tetovo, Gostivar and their surrounding localities in Northwestern Macedonia, occupied by Italian troops. 

The document ended with the assurance that “the entire Bulgarian population from Lake Ohrid to Skopje and Šar is eagerly awaiting the day when they will welcome the Bulgarian troops with brotherly joy and will be included in the boundaries of the Bulgarian state, the greatness of which they have dreamed for centuries and it has cost innumerable dear victims”19. In the following months, Prime Minister Filov held talks with members of MSI. Many of them were sent on a mission to Macedonia or they shared their opinions on the Macedonian Question, including about manifes- 

17 Отчет на Македонския научен институт за 1938 година. София, 1939/ Report of the Macedonian Scientific Institute for the year 1938. Sofia, 1939, pp. 3 – 9. 
18 ЦДА, ф. 1508К, оп. 1, а.е. 500, л. 1 – 2; ф. 847К, оп. 2, а.е. 7, л. 101 – 103. 
19 ЦДА, ф. 1067К, оп. 3, а.е. 137, л. 1 – 5. 


tations of anti-Bulgarian propaganda, about strategy of the military allies or adversaries, about the aspirations of the emigrants from Macedonian lands within the country, etc. The contacts with the governing circles enabled the Institute to closely monitor the events, turning it into an unofficial scientific and information centre. In the Macedonian Home, administration employees as well as teachers assigned to work in Macedonia, received institute’s publications and information20. During the following wartime years, MSI actively participated in the cultural and educational life of Vardar Macedonia. 

Frequent guests of the public in Macedonia were popular figures – MSI’s members: Nikola Stojanov, Mihail Arnaudov, Simeon Radev, Aleksandăr Teodorov-Balan, Ivan Snegarov, Ivan Dujčev, Petăr Mutafčiev, Vladislav Aleksiev, Fani Mutafova, Dimităr Talev and others. They visited Skopje, Dojran, Prilep, Ohrid, Bitola, Štip, Veles, and other localities, participated in scientific events and celebrations, including in the Bulgarian Book Week, the Exhibition of Bulgarian Periodicals, etc. 21 However, the financial condition of MSI continued to be unsatisfactory. It did not have enough funds to carry out significant publishing activity, as the loans for the construction of the Macedonian Home weighed heavily on its budget. With the exception of a few pamphlets, the Institute barely found subsidies for the publication of two books22 and its official organ. Regardless of the wartime situation, Macedonian Review preserved its academic style. 

On its pages new valuable studies on Macedonia did not stop to appear written by D. Jaranov, I. Dujčev, I. Snegarov, Kiril Mirčev, Petăr Dinekov, Nikola Mavrodinov, Stojko Stojkov, Vladimir Karamanov, Angel Tomov, Hans Koch – the director of the German Scientific Institute in Sofia, elected as an MSI’s honorary member, etc. The three-year mandate of the Governing Board of MSI expired in January 1941, but its functions continued for another two years due to a ban on holding public gatherings in the capital city. In the renewed governing board, elected in April 1943, the post of chairman was again en- 

20 Отчет на Управителния съвет за 1941 г./ Report of the Governing Board for the year 1941, pp. 3 – 7. 
21 ЦДА, ф. 1067К, оп. 3, а.е. 61, л. 37 – 41. 
22 Юбилеен сборник Андрей Тошев. София, 1942; АЛЕКСИЕВ-МИЛАДИНОВ, ВЛ. Българска земя. Път и легенда. София, 1943. 


Alexander Grebenarov trusted to Nikola Stojanov. In the following months, the activities of the Institute were sharply limited, due to the wartime regime, accompanied by bombings, food crisis, military mobilization, negative news from the front, inability to buy out the journal from the Ministry of Public Education, which in previous years had been sending it to schools, community centres and etc. The Institute, established two decades ago, regardless of the low membership, reaching in 1943 to 106 regular, 12 honorary and 4 benevolent members, under its authoritative leadership, became a socially significant strategic factor, which popularized the Bulgarian character of Macedonia. For its successful activity, the help of the benevolent members, who supported constructing the Macedonian Home and printing the publications, was of great importance. Equally valuable were the foreign members’ appearances, whose research and activities beyond the borders of Bulgaria were testifying to their devotion to Bulgarian history, language and culture. Their works, as well as the translated books, contributed to the truth about the cultural and historical heritage of the Bulgarians in Macedonia to reach more politicians, intellectuals and public figures around the world. 

* * * 

After the political changes in Bulgaria in the autumn of 1944, the new rulers obeyed the pressure from Moscow and Belgrade towards establishing a Bulgarian-Yugoslav federation and handing the district of Pirin Macedonia over to the People’s Republic of Macedonia. In fulfilment of the foreign policy suggestions on the Macedonian Question, the rulers imposed forceful measures in the overall socio-political life of the country. Famous lecturers, scholars and cultural figures were dismissed for ‘fascist activity’; others were threatened with arrest or were interned; others were liquidated ‘without trial and sentence’. For the ideological implementation of the project, an ‘explanatory campaign’ was launched with the inculcation of Macedonian ideology. 

Lists have been drawn up for the seizure and destruction of books related to the Bulgarian national question and, above all, to Macedonia, pages in history textbooks relating to the national liberation movement of the Macedonian Bulgarians were deleted, actions were taken against the existing refugee organizations. The Macedonian Scientific Institute was not spared from pressure either. Already on 12th September, armed policemen, staffing the newly formed 


militia, arrived at the Macedonian Home and demanded that the building be handed over with all the property. 

After advocacy by Pavel Šatev, the idea of confiscation was temporarily abandoned, mainly due to a confrontation between two newly created factions: the Temporary Macedonian Representation and the Temporary Initiative Committee. At the end of September, the Provisional Representation under the auspices of the government in Skopje prevailed. Its members presented an order from the Ministry of the Interior for lodging in the Macedonian Home and confiscation of the institute’s property23. 

The dispute over the seizure of the Home continued in the following months, with the two factions accusing each other of illegitimacy due to the use of forged documents in their registration. At the same time, the Macedonist ideology, planted by the country’s rulers under the pressure coming from Moscow, Belgrade and Skopje, was getting stronger. On the occasion of this de-nationalizing process, the MSI’s chairman Prof. N. Stojanov, will note bitterly in his diary on 10th October 1944: “I’m sad, I feel heavy, I’m going to cry when reading in newspapers of ours, in Bulgarian newspapers: about Great-Bulgarian chauvinism, about a Great-Bulgarian policy of hegemony over the Balkans and domination over the neighbouring peoples, our national ideals were supposed to be Great-Bulgarian fascist-chauvinistic goals, etc. Perhaps the moment imposes this policy, to consider the Bulgarian people only the Bulgarians within the narrow borders of Bulgaria, as traced in Neuilly, then this is very extreme and constitutes a denial of ourselves. The era of the National Revival is not a fiction, but a historical fact, both in time and in space, and it was the fruit of the entire Bulgarian people spread from Tulcea to Ohrid and Thessalonica, before the Bulgarian Exarchate and a Bulgarian state to come into existence’24. 

The MSI’s chairman N. Stojanov, probably would not have permitted himself such an outpouring of words, if the society after 9th September had not been ‘inundated’ with insinuations of manifestations of Great-Bulgarian chauvinism. In such a spirit was the final assessment of the newly appointed librarian Ivan Popov about the literature stored in the Institute: “It is almost entirely fascist one”25 

23 ЦДА, ф. 1067К, оп. 1, а.е. 384, л. 1 – 3, 7 – 10; ф. 1073К, оп. 1, а.е. 19, л. 36. 
24 Никола Стоянов. Живот и дейност: мемоари (1875 – 1939). Дневник (1940 – 1944). Съст. К. Анчова, А. Стрезова. София, 2020, с. 685 – 686. 
25 ЦДА, КМФ 23–01/ Инв. № 1007, л. 86. 


On 17th January 1945, the intentions to replace the Governing Board of MSI ware officially implemented. By order of the Minister of Internal Affairs, Anton Jugov, the old Governing Board was removed and a new composition was approved. In it, only Prof. Dimităr Siljanovski ensured the continuity with the previous governing board, assuming the functions of chairman. Georgi Kulišev and Hristo Kalajdžiev were appointed as vice-chairmen26.

The following meetings of the Board proceeded like a revolutionary tribunal, especially when considering organizational issues. The most important of them was related to the membership, which was decided ‘in a businesslike manner’: regardless of the current statute of 1935. For example, at the meeting of Governing Board of 29th January 1945, Dimităr Vlahov and the Regent Todor Pavlov were announced as honorary chairmen of MSI, for ‘special merits to the Macedonian cause’, although T. Pavlov was not a member at all. At the same meeting, the Governing Board accepted the proposal that ‘only those who share the ideas of the new age’ should remain members of MSI27. 

On 10th July 1945, the Governing Board of MSI made another important decision: to replace the name of the printed organ Macedonian Review with Macedonian Thought, by appointing as editor-in-chief Jurdan (Jordan) Anastasov. The editorial column in the first issue of the journal explained the reasons for the suspension of Macedonian Review: the articles and materials did not presumably give a historically accurate and well-founded picture of the liberation struggles and overall life in Macedonia, which served the ‘Great Bulgarian ideology’. 

The former heads of MSI were accused of being the standard-bearers of ‘Great Bulgarian chauvinism and its weapon: the Macedonian fascism’28. 

At the end of the summer of 1945, when the time for convening the General Assembly was approaching, the question of the ‘promised purge’ in the composition of MSI again became relevant. It could not be resolved quickly, because an important but disturbing circumstance arose regarding the composition and powers of the Governing Board. It turned out that a long time after its approval by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, eight people in it (out of a total of 12) were not members of MSI. Because of the compli- 

26 ДА – София, ф. 3К, а.е 170, л. 17. 
27 ЦДА, ф. 1073К, оп. 1, а.е. 19, л. 5. 
28 Ibidem, л. 25, 37; Македонска мисъл, 1/1 – 2 (1945), с. 1. 


cated situation, the Governing Board was called to an emergency meeting on 24th September 1945, which ‘found’ that the persons appointed by the Minister of the Interior A. Jugov to be members of the Governing Board can ‘be considered regular members of the institute’29. 

This absurd situation shows that the decisions of the Governing Board from the beginning of 1945 were illegal. The first general assembly after the political changes in the country was held on 26th November 1945, after a failed attempt on 28th October30. 

In order to protect the leadership from an ‘unnecessary’ dispute regarding the imposed new ideology, the state authorities detained the former MSI’s chairman Nikola Stojanov31, under temporary arrest. 

The forum affirmed the adopted Macedonist stances. Because of the absence of many members excluded for ‘political expediency’, the assembly smoothly elected a new Governing Board headed by G. Kulišev32. 

At the beginning of 1946, MSI renewed its book-publishing activity with a new series entitled Notable Macedonians. The very first book (published under No. 1) was written by Pavel Deliradev and was about Jane Sandanski. In support of the policies of those in power, the Macedonian Institute began to distribute publications printed in the People’s Republic of Macedonia in the so-called ‘literary Macedonian language’: a primer, a ‘Macedonian Grammar’ by Krume Kepevski, the poem Serdaryat by Grigor Părličev, novels and collections of poems by Blaže Konevski, Venko Markovski , Kosta Racin, Kole Nedelkovski33. 

A number of Macedonian figures did not share the views of those in power on the Macedonian question, which forced the MSI’s leadership to organize a discussion on the topic ‘Does a Macedonian nation exist?’ Contrary to the plenary report presented by Hr. Kalajdžiev, in which this key question was answered in the affirmative, Angel Tomov, a former librarian of the Institute, first publicly opposed to it. 

On 24th November 1946, in the Macedonian Home, in his two-hour statement he refuted the untenable theory of a presumable ‘Macedonian’ nation. 

29 ЦДА, ф. 1073К, оп. 1, а.е. 19, л. 28. 
30 Ibidem, а.е. 27, л. 7. 
31 Демокрация, бр. 79, 4 април 2001. 
32 Македонско знаме, бр. 21, 3 декември 1945. 
33 Македонско знаме, бр. 40, 15 април 1946. 


Six days later, the chairman of the Kukuš Brotherhood, Nikola Manolev, expressed his indignation at Kalajdžiev’s anti-Bulgarian thesis. In his report ‘Is there a Macedonian nation?’ Manolev concluded that “there is no Macedonian nation, nor are there any rudiments of one. This idea exists in the sick heads of famous compatriots in Macedonia and in some Macedonian and other circles here in Bulgaria”34. 

The discussion continued on 11th January 1947, when another figure – Hristo Ampov, supported the opinion of A. Tomov and N. Manolev about the indisputable Bulgarian nature of the population in Macedonia35. 

In the final part of the discussion, took also part the famous revolutionary from the Ilinden Uprising Hristo Šaldev. He supported the thesis of the Bulgarian nature of the Macedonian liberation movement36. 

Ivan Hadžov, a famous scientist born in Struga, also intervened in absentia in the dispute. In speeches delivered outside the Macedonian Home, by including many arguments from the fields of literature and linguistics, he refused to recognize the imposed Macedonist thesis. After the discussion held in the winter of 1946/1947, the reaction from Belgrade and Skopje was not long in coming: the Macedonian Institute was required to send its entire library and ethnographic collection to the People’s Republic of Macedonia, and the premises of Macedonia cinema to be handed over to the Bulgarian-Yugoslav Society for a modest rent37. 

On 15th March 1947, the pressure on the Macedonian refugee organizations in Bulgaria intensified, when Lazar Koliševski, on behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Macedonia, sent a report to the Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party with arrogant demands from Bulgaria. In it, special attention was paid to the Macedonian Scientific Institute, which in the past presumably was a ‘centre of Great-Bulgarian fascist thought’ and published publications with anti-scientific and falsified materials about the ‘struggle of the Macedonian people’. 

Regarding the changes after 1944, L. Koliševski concluded that its leadership and the new name of the scientific printed organ did not bring about the desired breakthrough in its ideology, and it remained a ‘hotbed of hatred and 

34 ЦДА, ф. 1932К, оп. 3, а.е. 314, л. 1 – 11. 
35 ЦДА, ф. 1591К, оп. 3, а.е. 36, л. 1 – 48. 
36 ЦДА, ф. 1932К, оп. 3, а.е. 317, л. 1. 
37 Македонският въпрос в българо-югославските отношения (1944 – 1952 г.). Архивите говорят. Т. 31. Съст. В. Ангелов. София, 2004, с. 164 – 167. 


intolerance’. Criticism was also levelled against the journal Macedonian Thought because of an article where there was a claim that the population of Macedonia felt Bulgarian, and ‘San-Stefano Bulgaria meant for the then consciousness of the Macedonians a desired and complete resolution of the all-Bulgarian and Macedonian question’38. 

The extensive explanation also devoted space to the rich library owned by the MSI, containing nearly 4,000 books. According to Koliševski, despite the numerous forgeries and pro-fascist ideas in the stored books, it is wrong for this library “to stand weakly or completely unused in Sofia, while the scientific workers of Macedonia are struggling a lot in searching for source material, for bibliographic instructions in the preparation of Macedonian history and cultural development”. 

At the end of his explanation, Koliševski proposed to the Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party that the Macedonian Scientific Institute be liquidated, and all its property (building, library and publications) be handed over to the People’s Republic of Macedonia. 

The report sent by Koliševski to Belgrade had an impact on the Bulgarian governing circles. The members of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Workers’ Party (communists) reacted on the same day: on 15th March 1947, the state-party leadership of the country accepted a large part of Koliševski’s proposals in favour of Yugoslavia and the USSR. It made decisions on the ‘self-dissolution’ of the Macedonian refugee organizations, the suspension of their printing organs, the transfer of the ethnographic exposition to Skopje, the publication of articles in the newpaper Pirinsko Delo, and a series of brochures compiled in the so-called ‘Macedonian language’39. 

After the closure of the Union of Macedonian Brotherhoods and Societies in Bulgaria (18th May 1947) and the Ilinden Organization (15th June 1947), it was the turn of the Macedonian Scientific Institute, which received the strongest criticism from Skopje. The ‘appetite’ for the Institute’s building strengthened the desire for its liquidation. Pursuant to the decision of the Politburo, the members of MSI were invited by the Governing Board to convene the General Assembly on 30th June 1947. In the agenda, the item 

38 ТОМОВ, А. Какво допринесе социалистическата мисъл в македонското рево- люционно движение. – Македонска мисъл, 2/5 – 6 (1946), с. 233. 
39 ЦДА, ф. 1Б, оп. 6, а.е. 253, л. 1. 


was of particular importance, stating “is the existence of the Macedonian Scientific Institute justified under today’s conditions?”. Due to the lack of a quorum, the forum reconvened on 2nd July. The agenda of the General Assembly proceeded smoothly until the mentioned item no. 5. Before the discussion H. Kalajdžiev read a report with a proposal: MSI should be closed, since in the free Macedonian state there were excellent conditions for the development of ‘Macedonian science and culture’. 

Several people – led by A. Tomov – expressed their disagreement with the stance of Hr. Kalajdžiev. The discussion continued until midnight, when the vote took place. The fateful decision to self-liquidate the Institute was made after 18 participants against 2 voted in favour, arguing that the meaning of existence was lost and its mission was completed40. 

The General Assembly implemented the directive issued by the governing circles in relation to movable and immovable property of the institute. Regarding the library and ethnographic materials General Vladimir Keckarov made a proposal: they to be handed over for temporary storage in the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences until the establishment of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences. After the idea failed in the vote, the prepared decision to ‘give them as a gift to the Macedonian state to be used by Macedonian scientists and creators of Macedonian culture’ remained in force41. The forum also examined another main issue related to the property of the Macedonian Home, which after the self-dissolution of MSI (according to the title deed of 1935) should become the property of the Sofia municipality. 

The attendees voted on a decision by which they ceded the ownership of the building to the Municipality, but also made an appeal to it to provide the home for the use of the recently established Goce Delčev Macedonian Cultural and Educational Society in Sofia. The General Assembly of MSI determined the composition of the Liquidation Commission headed by Dr. Haralampi Bojadžiev. Two representatives of the People’s Republic of Macedonia also participated in it. On 28th July 1947, its members signed a Donation Act, including 1,331 ethnographic objects; most of the 3,966 books filed in the institute library; entire annual series, separate issues of Macedonian Review and Macedonian Thought; works from the Miletič’s library, archival materials of Anastas Lozančev, 

40 ЦДА, ф. 1932К, оп. 3, а.е. 311, л. 5 – 8. 
41 ЦДА, ф. 214Б, оп. 1, а.е. 462, л. 1 – 7, 16 – 20; ф. 1932К, оп. 3, а.е. 311, л. 1 – 7. 


Luka Džerov, Nikola Rusinski, etc42. 

Documents of other Macedonian refugee formations were also included in the shipments to Skopje. On 25th February 1952, the Sofia District Court legalized the removal of the Macedonian Scientific Institute from the register of legal entities on the grounds that ‘it does not exist and does not exercise any activity’43. In those days, in the half-empty courtroom, there was no representative of the Institute or its defender who could fully challenge its illegitimate management after 1944 and the trampling of its statutes in violation of the law. 

Almost no trace remained of a public organization that brought together the elite of the Bulgarian scientific community for two decades, with over 120 regular, honorary and benevolent members in 1943. With few exceptions, valuable contacts with foreign scientists were suspended. On the unfortunate evening of the ‘self-liquidation’ (2nd July), only 20 figures were present. This fact clearly speaks of the lack of authority and trust in the governing board, which, under the pressure from the rulers, tried to forge the goals of the Institute to the detriment of the Bulgarian cause in Macedonia. 

The closure of the Macedonian Scientific Institute was a natural consequence of the defeatist and denationalizing policy of the Bulgarian governments on the Macedonian Question. It marked the end of a process in which the patriotic impulse of 52 enthusiasts, who in 1923 created a prestigious scientific centre in Sofia in harmony with the spirit, dreams and liberation struggles of the Macedonian Bulgarians, was crushed. 

42 ЦДА, ф. 1932К, оп. 3, а.е. 313, л. 98 – 100. ГРЕБЕНАРОВ , АЛ. Етнографски музейни предмети, подарени от Македонския научен институт в София на Н. Р. Македо- ния. – Българска етнология, 2 – 3 (2003), с. 194 – 209. 
43 ДА – София, ф. 3К, оп. 1, а.е. 170, л. 24.

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