Anti-fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia
The Anti-fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia (Macedonian: Антифашистичко Собрание за Народно Ослободување на Македонија, Antifašističko Sobranie za Narodno Osloboduvanje na Makedonija; Serbo-Croatian: Antifašističko sobranje narodnog oslobođenja Makedonije; abbr. ASNOM) was the supreme legislative and executive people's representative body of the Macedonian state from 1944 until the end of World War II. The body was set up by the communist partisans during the final stages of the National Liberation War of Macedonia in the summer of 1944, in the Bulgarian occupation zone of Yugoslavia.
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The first plenary session of ASNOM was convened underground on the symbolic date of August 2 (Ilinden uprising day) 1944 in the St. Prohor Pčinjski Monastery in modern Serbia. The Monastery and surrounding area, which are part of the Region of Macedonia, were transferred from SR Macedonia to SR Serbia in 1947. The most important assembly decisions are the proclaiming of a Macedonian nation-state of ethnic Macedonians, proclamation of the Macedonian language as the official language of the Macedonian state. The citizens of Macedonia, regardless of their ethnic affiliation, were guaranteed all civil rights, as well as the right to their mother tongue and confession of faith.
The first session was opened with the anthem of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) "Rise up, dayspring of Freedom", which became also the anthem of the newly proclaimed republic. However, in the next year it was banned by the authorities as bulgarophile sentiment. ASNOM, as the supreme institution of government, also meant de jure commencement of the constitutional law existence of Macedonia as a constituent country within the framework of the future Communist Yugoslav federation. The Assembly issued a Manifesto which described the situation in the Vardar Banovina under the old Yugoslavia as that of the colony. The manifesto issued by ASNOM's first session also explicitly stated its hope for the "unification of the whole Macedonian people", i.e., in the whole of the geographical region of Macedonia.
The presiding committee of ASNOM was dominated by elements that were not known for their pro-Yugoslav sentiments. Panko Brashnarov (a former member of IMRO) chaired (as the oldest member) the inaugural meeting and Metodija Andonov-Čento was elected president. Both wanted a greater independence for the future republic. They saw joining Yugoslavia as a form of second Serbian dominance over Macedonia, and preferred membership in a Balkan Federation or else complete independence. Čento and partly Brashnarov clashed with Svetozar Vukmanović-Tempo, Josip Broz Tito’s envoy to Macedonia. One of the contributors in the Assembly was Kiro Gligorov, later the first President of the Republic of Macedonia. According to some researchers, the first session was heavily manipulated by the pro-Yugoslav representatives, and the absence of more than 50% of the elected delegates made it illegitimate.
In early September, Nazi Germany briefly sought to establish an puppet state called independent Macedonia. However, the state was de facto not established due to the lack of any military support. Despite this it was declared by Macedonian right nationalists on 8 September. After Bulgaria have switched sides in the war on September 9, the Bulgarian 5th. Army stationed in Macedonia, moved back to the old borders of Bulgaria. In the early October the newly formed Bulgarian People's Army together with the Red Army reentered occupied Yugoslavia. Vardar Macedonia was liberated in November by Yugoslav Partisan units of the Macedonian National Liberation Army, with the help of the Bulgarian Army.
The ASNOM became operational in December, shortly after the German retreat. The first step to eliminate Čento was the installation of Lazar Koliševski, the new leader of the Communist Party of Macedonia, as his first deputy in the ASNOM presidency during the second session of this assembly on 28–31 December. At the same session was taken a decision a tribunal to be created, that will judge "the collaborators of the occupiers who have panned the Macedonian name and the Macedonian national honor".
On the third session held in April 1945, the body transformed itself into republican Parliament. Čento was replaced at last by Kolishevski, who started fully implementing the pro-Yugoslav line.
From the start of the new Yugoslavia, accusations surfaced that new authorities in Macedonia were involved in retribution against people who did not support the formation of the new Yugoslav Macedonian republic. The numbers of dead "counter-revolutionaries" and "collaborators" due to organized killings during the Bloody Christmas and afterwards, however is unclear. Besides, many people went throughout the labor camp of Goli Otok in the middle 1940s. This chapter of the Macedonia's history was a taboo subject for conversation in the SFRY until the late 1980s, and as a result, decades of official silence created a reaction in the form of numerous data manipulations for nationalist, communist propaganda purposes. In the last years the number of the victims was put forward to 50 000, including those killed, imprisoned, deported, sent to forced labor, tortured, etc. At that time, the ASNOM's first leaders Čento and Brashnarov were purged from their positions, then isolated, arrested and imprisoned on fabricated charges, as foreign agents, having pro-Bulgarian leanings, demanding greater independence, collaborating with the Cominform, forming of conspirative political groups, demanding greater democracy and the like.
- Мичев, Добрин. Партизанското движение във Вардарска Македония, 1941-1944 г. сп. Македонски преглед, кн. 2, стр. 5-40.
- Volume 5 of Istoria na Bŭlgarite, Author Georgi Bakalov, TRUD Publishers, 2007, ISBN 954-621-235-0, p. 567.
- Bulgarian-Yugoslavian political relations, 1944-1945, Georgi Daskalov, Kliment Ohridski University, 1989, p. 113.
- Кочанковски, Jован,Битола и Битолско во Народноослободителната и антифашистичка воjна на Македонија (1941-1945), том 2: 1944-1945, с. 427
- Goli Otok: the island of death : a diary in letters by Venko Markovski, New York, Columbia University Press, 1984
- Македонската кървава Коледа. Създаване и утвърждаване на Вардарска Македония като Република в Югославска Федерация (1943-1946) Веселин Ангелов, 2003-08-01, ISBN 954-8008-77-7, ISBN 978-954-8008-77-8
- Zoran Todorovski, “Humanosta na makedonskiot komunizam,” Utrinski vesnik, February 2, 2006.
- Historical dictionary of the Republic of Macedonia, Dimitar Bechev, Scarecrow Press, 2009, ISBN 0-8108-5565-8, pp. 15-16.