4 March 1881|
Štip, Kosovo Vilayet, Ottoman Empire
31 August 1924 (aged 43)|
Todor Aleksandrov Poporushov also transliterated as Todor Alexandrov (Bulgarian: Тодор Александров) also spelt Alexandroff (4 March 1881 – 31 August 1924) was a Macedonian Bulgarian freedom fighter and member of the Bulgarian Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Committees (BMARC) and later of the Central Committee of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation (IMRO).
In the Republic of Macedonia, Aleksandrov, who had been dismissed previously as Bulgarophile, by the negationist Macedonian historiography. has been recently added to the country's historical heritage.
Aleksandrov was born in Novo Selo Stipsko, Kosovo Vilayet, the Ottoman Empire (present-day Republic of Macedonia) to Aleksandar Poporushev and Marija Aleksandrova. In 1898, he finished the Bulgarian Pedagogical School in Skopje and became a Bulgarian teacher consecutively in the towns of Kocani, Kratovo, the village of Vinica, and Štip. He attended the Bulgarian Men's High School of Thessaloniki.
In 1903, Aleksandrov distinguished himself as an extraordinary leader and organizer of the Kocani Revolutionary District. He was arrested by the Ottoman authorities on 3 March 1903 and sent to Skopje under enforced police escort during the same night. He was sentenced to five years of solitary confinement by the extraordinary court there. In April 1904, he was released after an amnesty. Soon afterwards, he was appointed a head teacher in the Second high-school in Štip. Aleksandrov, in co-operation with Todor Lazarov and Mishe Razvigorov, worked day and night to organize the Štip Revolutionary District. The results of his activities were detected by the Ottoman authorities and in November 1904 he was forbidden to teach. On 10 January 1905, Aleksandrov's house was surrounded by a numerous troops but he succeeded in breaking through the military cordoned and immediately joined the cheta (band) of Mishe Razvigorov where he became its secretary. Aleksandrov attended the First Congress of the Skopje Revolutionary Region as a delegate from the Štip district.
His deteriorating health lead him to become a teacher in Bulgaria — the Black Sea town of Burgas in 1906, but after learning about the death of Mishe Razvigorov, he abandoned his work as a teacher and returned to Macedonia at once. In November 1907, Aleksandrov was elected as a district vojvoda (commander) by the Third Congress of the Skopje Revolutionary District.
On 2 August 1909, the Ottomans made another attempt to arrest him but failed again. In the spring of 1910 he and his cheta traversed the Skopje region and organized the revolutionary activities. In early 1911, Aleksandrov became a member of the Central Committee of the IMARO. In 1912, he became a vojvoda in the Kilkis and Thessaloniki districts where he carried out a number of sabotages against Ottoman targets, facilitating this way the Bulgarian cause in the First Balkan War. He supported the Bulgarian Army.
In 1913, he was at the headquarters of the Third brigade of the Macedonian Militia in the Bulgarian army. After 1913 he organized the IMARO resistance against other nationalities, such as Serbs and Greeks. On 4 November 1919, Aleksandrov was arrested by the government of Aleksandar Stamboliyski but he succeeded to escape nine days later. In the spring of 1920, Aleksandrov went with a cheta to Serbian Macedonia where he restored the revolutionary organization and attracted the world's attention to the unsolved Macedonian question. At the end of 1922, there was a bounty of 250,000 dinars placed on him by the Serbian authorities in Belgrade.
In 1924 IMRO entered negotiations with the Comintern about collaboration between the communists and the creation of a united Macedonian movement. The idea for a new unified organization was supported by the Soviet Union, which saw a chance for using this well developed revolutionary movement to spread revolution in the Balkans and destabilize the Balkan monarchies. Alexandrov defended IMRO's independence and refused to concede on practically all points requested by the Communists. No agreement was reached besides a paper "Manifesto" (the so-called May Manifesto of 6 May 1924), in which the objectives of the unified Macedonian liberation movement were presented: independence and unification of partitioned Macedonia, fighting all the neighbouring Balkan monarchies, forming a Balkan Communist Federation and cooperation with the Soviet Union.
Failing to secure Alexandrov's cooperation, the Comintern decided to discredit him and published the contents of the Manifesto on 28 July 1924 in the "Balkan Federation" newspaper. Todor Aleksandrov and Aleksandar Protogerov promptly denied through the Bulgarian press that they have ever signed any agreements, claiming that the May Manifesto was a communist forgery. Shortly after, Alexandrov was assassinated in unclear circumstances, when a member in his cheta shot him on 31 August 1924 in the Pirin Mountains. He was survived by his wife, Vangelia, his son (Alexander) and his daughter (Maria Aleksandrova, later Mrs Maria Koeva) was a strong proponent of her father's ideals and IMRO's charter.
View about the Macedonian Question
IMRO and Alexandrov himself aimed at an autonomous Macedonia, with its capital at Salonika and prevailing Macedonian Bulgarian element. He dreamed about transforming the Balkans into a federation through reconstruction of Yugoslavia into a federal state, in which Macedonia would enter as a member on equal rights with the other members. He took into consideration the decomposition of Greece and the incorporation into the autonomous Macedonia of the Macedonian territory which was under the Greek dominion. The part of Macedonia which was in Bulgaria must also be incorporated into the autonomous Macedonia. His view does not indicate any doubt about the Bulgarian ethnic character of Macedonian Slavs then.
Monuments' controversies in the Republic of Macedonia
2008 monument controversy
A local association of Bulgarians in the Republic of Macedonia raised a monument of the revolutionary on 2 February 2008 in the city of Veles. After the local administration refused to provide a place for the bust it was raised in the yard of a local Bulgarian resident, Dragi Karov. The following night Karov received a number of threats and the monument was twice thrown down by unknown individuals. Soon after, the monument was removed at the insistence of local authorities, as an unlawful construction. This incident caused Bulgarian president Georgi Parvanov to call upon the Macedonian government to review the history of Alexandrov's deeds on his meeting with Branko Crvenkovski in the town of Sandanski.
2012 monument controversy
In June 2012, a new statue called “Macedonian Equestrian Revolutionary” was erected in Skopje. As a consequence, an outcry among older residents erupted almost immediately when they noted the anonymous rider’s similarity to the historical figure. The statue was reportedly commissioned by the Ministry of Culture, but this was in question. The Ministry called the statue “the complete responsibility of the municipality of Kisela Voda (a part of greater Skopje)”. The city government denied this.
Attempts to reach a spokesperson at the Ministry of Culture for comment have thus been unsuccessful. Earlier the same month the opposition Social Democrats took to the streets to protest the changing of hundreds of street names, including a bridge that was to be named after Aleksandrov. Finally in October, a few months after the setting of the monument, on it appeared an board with the name of Todor Aleksandrov.
- Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization
- History of the Republic of Macedonia
- History of Bulgaria
References and notes
- "Уште робуваме на старите поделби", Разговор со д-р Зоран Тодоровски, директор на Државниот архив на Република Македониja (in Macedonian; in English: "We are still in servitude to the old divisions", interview with Dr Zoran Todorovski, PhD, Director of the State Archive of the Republic of Macedonia, published on 27 June 2005 [http://www.omda.bg/public/bulg/news/makedonia/Todor_Aleksandrov.htm Трибуна: Дел од јавноста и некои Ваши колеги историчари Ве обвинуваат дека промовирате зборник за човек (Тодор Александров) кој се чувствувал како Бугарин. Кој наш револуционерен деец му противречел на Александров по тоа прашање? Тодоровски - Речиси никој. Уште робуваме на поделбата на леви и десни. Во етничка, во национална смисла сите биле со исти сознанија, со иста свест. In English: Tribune: Part of the public and some from your fellow historians accuse you of promoting a collection for man (Todor Alexandrov) who felt himself as Bulgarian. Are there some of our revolutionary activist who opposed him on that issue? Todorovski - Almost none. We are still in servitude to the old divisions of left and right. Ethnically, in a national sense, they were all with the same sentiments, with the same (Bulgarian) consciousness.
- Collective Memory, National Identity, and Ethnic Conflict: Greece, Bulgaria, and the Macedonian Question by Victor Roudometof, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002; ISBN 0275976483, pg. 99.
- Crown of Thorns: The Reign of King Boris III of Bulgaria, 1918-1943 by Stephane Groueff, Rowman & Littlefield, 1998, ISBN 1568331142,p. 118.
- Contested Ethnic Identity: The Case of Macedonian Immigrants in Toronto, 1900-1996 (by Chris Kostov), Peter Lang, 2010; ISBN 3034301960, pg. 78.
- The first name of the IMRO was "Bulgarian Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Committees", which was later changed several times. Initially its membership was restricted only for Bulgarians. It was active not only in Macedonia but also in Thrace (the Vilayet of Adrianople). Since its early name emphasized the Bulgarian nature of the organization by linking the inhabitants of Thrace and Macedonia to Bulgaria, these facts are still difficult to be explained from the Macedonian historiography. They suggest that IMRO revolutionaries in the Ottoman period did not differentiate between ‘Macedonians’ and ‘Bulgarians’. Moreover, as their own writings attest, they often saw themselves and their compatriots as ‘Bulgarians’ and wrote in Bulgarian standard language. For more see: Brunnbauer, Ulf (2004) Historiography, Myths and the Nation in the Republic of Macedonia. In: Brunnbauer, Ulf, (ed.) (Re)Writing History. Historiography in Southeast Europe after Socialism. Studies on South East Europe, vol. 4. LIT, Münster, pp. 165-200 ISBN 382587365X.
- The modern Macedonian historiographic equation of IMRO demands for autonomy with a separate and distinct national identity does not necessarily jibe with the historical record. A rather obvious problem is the very title of the organization, which included Thrace in addition to Macedonia. Thrace whose population was never claimed by modern Macedonian nationalism...There is, moreover, the not less complicated issue of what autonomy meant to the people who espoused it in their writings. According to Hristo Tatarchev, their demand for autonomy was motivated not by an attachment to Macedonian national identity but out of concern that an explicit agenda of unification with Bulgaria would provoke other small Balkan nations and the Great Powers to action. Macedonian autonomy, in other words, can be seen as a tactical diversion, or as “Plan B” of Bulgarian unification. İpek Yosmaoğlu, Blood Ties: Religion, Violence and the Politics of Nationhood in Ottoman Macedonia, 1878–1908, Cornell University Press, 2013, ISBN 0801469791, pp. 15-16.
- The origins of the official Macedonian national narrative are to be sought in the establishment in 1944 of the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. This open acknowledgment of the Macedonian national identity led to the creation of a revisionist historiography whose goal has been to affirm the existence of the Macedonian nation through the history. Macedonian historiography is revising a considerable part of ancient, medieval, and modern histories of the Balkans. Its goal is to claim for the Macedonian peoples a considerable part of what the Greeks consider Greek history and the Bulgarians Bulgarian history. The claim is that most of the Slavic population of Macedonia in the 19th and first half of the 20th century was ethnic Macedonian. For more see: Victor Roudometof, Collective Memory, National Identity, and Ethnic Conflict: Greece, Bulgaria, and the Macedonian Question, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002, ISBN 0275976483, p. 58; Victor Roudometof, Nationalism and Identity Politics in the Balkans: Greece and the Macedonian Question in Journal of Modern Greek Studies 14.2 (1996) 253-301.
- Yugoslav Communists recognized the existence of a Macedonian nationality during WWII to quiet fears of the Macedonian population that a communist Yugoslavia would continue to follow the former Yugoslav policy of forced Serbianization. Hence, for them to recognize the inhabitants of Macedonia as Bulgarians would be tantamount to admitting that they should be part of the Bulgarian state. For that the Yugoslav Communists were most anxious to mold Macedonian history to fit their conception of Macedonian consciousness. The treatment of Macedonian history in Communist Yugoslavia had the same primary goal as the creation of the Macedonian language: to de-Bulgarize the Macedonian Slavs and to create a separate national consciousness that would inspire identification with Yugoslavia. For more see: Stephen E. Palmer, Robert R. King, Yugoslav communism and the Macedonian question, Archon Books, 1971, ISBN 0208008217, Chapter 9: The encouragement of Macedonian culture.
- Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Macedonia, Dimitar Bechev, Scarecrow Press, 2009, ISBN 0810862956, p. 140.
- The Times, (London), 16 September 1924, pg. 9.
- …Мога да кажа пред безпристрастен арбитър, че никога не сме били и сега не сме оръдия на българските правителства и всякога сме били и трябва да бъдем "оръдия" на Независима България, на Българска Македония и на цялото българско племе…; в-к Македония, бр.№ 865, 31. 08. 1929, с. 5.
- ЦДА, ф. 1933, оп.2, а. е. 28, л. 68-73; Гергинов, Кр. Билярски, Ц. Непубликувани документи за дейността на ВМОРО, с. 214.; Непубликувани документи за дейността на ВМОРО, с. 205; Из архивното наследство…, с. 231, 234, 237, 243, 247; Марков, Г. Камбаните бият сами…, с. 18-19.
- Sociétés politiques comparées 25 May 2010; Tchavdar Marinov, Université de Sofia ‘St. Kliment Ohridski’; New Bulgarian University - Historiographical revisionism and rearticulation of memory in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, p.3, note #5. Archived 15 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Nameless Statue Causes Stir in Macedonia", BalkanInsight.com, 28 June 2012.
- "News.bg — ВМРО откри паметник на Тодор Александров в Македония". news.ibox.bg. Retrieved 16 March 2008.
- "News.bg — Македония и България са с обща история, обяви Първанов". news.ibox.bg. Retrieved 16 March 2008.
- Martin Laine, Hero or villain? "New Skopje statue sparks controversy", Digital Journal, 29 June 2012.
- Утрински вестик, „Војводата на коњ“ и официјално Тодор Александров. Archived 2012-10-22 at the Wayback Machine., 18 October 2012.(in Macedonian)