Bloody Christmas (1945)
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The Bloody Christmas (Bulgarian: Кървава Коледа, Karvava Koleda) or the Bloody Bozhik (Кървав Божик, Karvav Bozhik) was a campaign in which several hundred people of Macedonian Bulgarian descent were killed as collaborationists by the Yugoslav communist authorities in the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia between 7–9 January 1945. Thousands of others who retained their pro-Bulgarian sympathies suffered severe repression as a result.
After the end of the Second World War, manifested Bulgarians in the so-called "new lands" in Vardar Macedonia, briefly annexed to Bulgaria during the war, were persecuted with the heavy charges of "great-Bulgarian chauvinism". This chapter of the Macedonia's history was a taboo subject for conversation 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. To wipe out the bulgarophile sentiments of parts of the local population, the Yugoslav Communists started a remarkable process of nation-building.
From the start of the new SR Macedonia, accusations surfaced that new authorities were involved in retribution against people who did not support the formation of the new Ethnic Macedonian identity. The number of dead "traitors" and "collaborators" due to organized killings of Bulgarians during the Bloody Christmas and afterwards, however is unclear, but some sources put the number of the victims to 1,200. The idea was to weaken the Bulgarian intelligentsia in Macedonia, to eradicate the Bulgarian self-consciousness of parts of the population and to speed-up the process of Macedonisation.
During the terror of January 1945, on the road between the lake Ohrid and lake Prespa, on the hills of the Galichica Mountain near the village of Teševo and other villages, more Bulgarians were executed. Most of the bodies were disposed of in the Prespa lake. Nearly all inhabited places in Vardar Macedonia provided victims for the campaign. In several cities in Vardar Macedonia which were set up people's courts, issuing death sentences over citizens charged of "great-Bulgarian chauvinism". Only in Skopje in 1945 were 18 trials were held with 226 defendants, 22 of whom were sentenced to death. In Stip in the same period seven Bulgarians were sentenced to death, in Prilep - ten, in Veles - ten, in Bitola - nine. According to Bulgarian sources, between 1945-47 over 4,700 Bulgarians were massacred or went missing. As a result of the purge, thousands were deported, displaced, persecuted or sent to concentration camps of the former Yugoslavia.
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