THE CARNEGIE REPORT ON THE STATE OF MACEDONIA.— THE CONDUCT OF THE BULGARS DURING THE WAR.
The campaign of cruel misrepresentation carried on against Bulgaria during the period of her isolation was undoubtedly most injurious to Bulgaria. Fortunately the whole matter has been fully and impartially dealt with by the Carnegie Commission. That many cruel deeds were perpetrated during the war of liberation, i.e., the war against Turkey, is an established fact. It was a war to liberate from the Turkish yoke a Christian population. A yoke which for five centuries had made the history of the Balkans a record of rebellion, repression, and massacre. The Carnegie Commission says :
'' The defeat of the Turkish armies meant something more than a political change. It reversed the relations of conquerors and serfs: it promised a social revolution."
As regards Macedonia it says :
" The regular army (Bulgarian) was not numerous, it marched rapidly southwards towards Salonica, leaving no sufficient garrison behind it. It is not surprising in these conditions that the Moslem population endured during the early weeks of the war a period of lawless vengeance and unmeasured suffering. In many districts the Moslem villages were systematically burned by their Christian neighbours. Nor was it only the region occupied by the Bulgarians which suffered. In the province of Monastir, occupied by the Serbs and Greeks, the agents of the British Macedonian Relief Fund calculated that eighty per cent, of Moslem villages were burned. Salonica, Monastir, and Uskub were thronged with thousands of homeless and starving Moslem refugees, many of whom emigrated to Asia. The Moslem quarter of the town of Jenidje-Vardar was almost totally burned down in spite of the fact that this town was occupied by the main Greek army. Even in the immediate neighbourhood of Salonica Moslem villages were burned by the Greek troops. The Greek population of Drama district indulged in robbery, murder, and violation at the expense of the Moslem inhabitants, until order was restored by an energetic Bulgarian prefect."
The Commission alludes to a particularly brutal campaign of robbery and murder carried out at Stroumitza, of which it says " it was probably the worst incident of its kind."
"A commission was formed under Major Grbits and with him sat two junior Servian officers, the Bulgarian Sub-Prefect, Lieutenant Nicholas Voultchew, the leader of the Bulgarian bands, Bogovoda Jckekov, and some of the leading inhabitants."
Before this court the Moslems were summoned to appear.
" As each victim came before the judges Major Grbits inquired, ' Is he good or is he bad ?' there was no discussion and no defence. One voice sufficed to condemn. Hardly one in ten of those who were summoned escaped the death sentence. The victims were roughly stripped of their outer clothing and bound in the presence of the commission, while the money found on them was taken by Major Grbits."
At a Bulgarian courtmartial subsequently held Voultchew, Jckekov, and another named Matov were sentenced to fifteen years hard labour, but, according to the Commission :
"The Serbian Government, on the other hand, has inflicted no punishment on Major Grbits, who was the senior officer and the person ultimately responsible for these atrocities."
Referring to the account of atrocities committed in the Kukush region by a notoriously cruel guerrilla chief, Donthew, the Commission says :
" It was misused and distorted in some Greek and French newspapers, as though it referred to the doings of the Bulgarian regular army shortly before the second war."
A very strong order was issued from the headquarters of the Bulgarian Army on January 10th, 1913, directing immediate inquiry into all excesses, robberies, and violations; towards the end of the order are these words:
'' The Bulgarian Army must prove to the eyes of the whole world that now, as always, justice and legality are supreme within its ranks and that criminals do not go unpunished."
This order had been preceded early in the war by orders issued by General Savoff, dated October 14th, 1912, and December 13th, 1912. The latter concludes as follows:
"Let it not be forgotten we have undertaken the war in the name of an elevated human ideal, the liberation of this population from a regime made insupportable by its severity and injustice. May God help the valiant sons of Bulgaria to realise this noble ideal, may they assist in restraining one another from compromising the great and glorious work in the eyes of the civilised world and of their dear native land."
Commenting on this order, the Carnegie Commission remarks:
"It is with a sense of moral well-being that one pauses in the midst of the horrors which we have been compelled to describe to read these lines so different in their spirit from the august threats which speak in the well-known telegram of King Constantine."
(King Constantine is the present King of Greece, brother-in-law of the German Emperor, and succeeded to the throne after the assassination of his father, King George, in the streets of Salonica by a Greek. It was to" secure Kavala and Seres for him that the German Emperor '' fought like a lion'' at the time of the conference of Bucharest.)
" The desire to remain just and noble is a merit which we desire to note. It is a tendency which we have only found amongst Bulgarian officers and intellectuals."
It is now necessary to consider briefly the conduct of Bulgarians during the second war. Alluding to the charge of gross cruelty brought by the Greeks against the Bulgarians, the Commission remarks:
"That some of these accusations were grossly exaggerated is now apparent. Le Temps, for example reported the murder of the Greek Bishop of Doiran. We saw him vigorous and apparently alive two months afterwards. A Requiem Mass was sung for the Bishop of Kavala; his flock welcomed him back to them while we were in Salonica. The correspondent of the same paper (le Temps] stated that he had personally assisted at the burial of the Archbishop of Seres, who was savagely mutilated before he was killed. This distressing experience in no way caused this prelate to interrupt his duties, which he still performs."
Alluding to Greek accusations regarding Bulgarian action at Doxato, Seres, Demir-Hissar, the Commission says, "In no case do they state the whole truth."
At the commencement of the second war the Bulgarians in South-Eastern Macedonia were in occupation of a country whose population was mainly Greek and Turkish. The Bulgarian garrisons were small. Doxato the Commission describes as a compact Greek island in a rural population which was almost exclusively Turkish. The Commission expresses its conviction that the Greeks had organised a formidable military movement, that Doxato was one of its centres, that several hundreds of armed men were concentrated there, that provocation had been given by a wanton and barbarous slaughter of Moslem non-combatants by the Greeks, and also by a successful attack at Doxato upon a Bulgarian convoy. The Bulgarian troops attacked Doxato and defeated the Greek irregulars, and undoubtedly killed many. They were then compelled to withdraw, as they were threatened by Greek columns marching from several quarters. They allowed the local Moslems to arm themselves with arms taken from the Greeks. As soon as the Bulgarians withdrew the Moslems massacred the Greek population. The Commission says:
" We don't hesitate to conclude that the massacre at Doxato was a Turkish and not a Bulgarian atrocity."
The Bulgarian regular troops withdrew from Serres on July 5th. The Greek Archbishop assumed the command of the town and prepared to defend it with Greek irregulars and armed citizens. The Bulgarian population was hunted down, over two hundred were taken to the Bishop's Palace, and from there they were taken to a Greek school, where they were barbarously tortured, and then done to death in batches. Partly because they had left large stores of munitions in the town and partly because rumours of the schoolhouse massacre had reached them the Bulgarians were anxious to return. On July nth Commandant Kirpikoff marched against Serres, he defeated the Greek Militia outside the town. On entering the town the troops were met with a heavy fire from several large houses held by Greeks. Against these he finally used his guns. From this time onward the town was in flames at several points. During the afternoon the Greek main army approached and shelled the town, and the Bulgarians had once more to retreat. The Commission condemns both Bulgarians and Greeks for using artillery against an unfortified town. One has since learned that even in the civilised West of Europe such deeds are not uncommon during war between highly civilised nations. When the Bulgarian regular troops attacked Seres on July nth there were still between 60 and 70 Bulgarian prisoners alive in the school-house. Their gaolers proceeded to finish the butchery, but in their hurry their grim work was inefficiently done, and eight of their prisoners, badly wounded, but still alive, succeeded in escaping, and reached the Bulgarian troops. Three of these the Commission interviewed, all bearing fresh scars. In describing their wounds the Commission says:
" They were such wounds as a butcher would inflict who was attempting to slaughter men as he would slaughter sheep."
Describing these prisoners the Commission says:
"The immense majority were, however, inoffensive tradesmen or peasants whose only offence was that they were Bulgarians. Among them were four women, who were killed with the rest." "The victims were arrested and imprisoned under the authority of the (Greek) Archbishop."
It is necessary to refer to the Greek accusations regarding Demir-Hissar because they were used by King Constantine as an excuse for his telegram ordering reprisals. In reference to this telegram the Commission points out that the Greek excesses began in and around Kukush some days before the event at Demir-Hissar. In the words of the Commission :
" The Bulgarian army beaten in the south was fleeing in some disorder through Demir-Hissar to the narrow defile of the Struma above this little town. The Greeks of the town, seeing their confusion, determined to profit by it, took up arms, and fell upon the Bulgarian wounded, the baggage trains, and the fugitive peasants. They rose too soon, and exposed themselves to Bulgarian reprisals. When the Greek Army at length marched in, it found a scene of carnage and horror. The Greek inhabitants had slaughtered defenceless Bulgarians and the Bulgarian rearguard had exacted vengeance."
The Bulgarians state that about 250 Bulgarians were killed. The Greeks state that 71 Greeks were killed. The Bulgarians state that the Greek Bishop led the attack and that he fired the first shot. The Commission find " nothing improbable " in this statement. The Greeks admit he resisted arrest. He was undoubtedly killed. The Greeks reported the murder of four Greek Bishops. The Commission find that the Bishop of Demir-Hissar alone was killed. Regarding the general conduct of the Greek Army the Commission states :
" In one instance a number of Europeans witnessed the brutal conduct of a detachment of Greek regulars under three officers. Fifteen wounded Bulgarian soldiers took refuge in the Catholic Convent of Paliortsi near Gheogeli, and were nursed by the sisters. Father Alloati reported this fact to the Greek Commandant, whereupon a detachment was sent to search the convent for a certain vogevoda (chief of Bands) named Arghyr, who was not there. In the course of the search a Bulgarian Catholic Priest, Father Trepitche, and the Armenian doctor of the convent were severely flogged in the presence of the Greek officers. A Greek soldier attempted to violate a Nun, and during the search a sum of LT.300 (three hundred pounds Turkish) was stolen. Five Bulgarian women and a young girl were put to torture, and a large number of peasants carried off to prison for no good reason. The officer in command threatened to kill Father Alloati on the spot, and to burn down the convent. If such things could be done to Europeans in a building under the protection of the French flag, it is not difficult to believe that Bulgarian peasants fared incomparably worse."
On July 27th the Bulgarians captured the baggage of the nineteenth Greek infantry regiment at Dobrinichte. Amongst the baggage were a number of letters written by the Greek soldiers, most of which bore the regimental postal stamp. These letters the Commission carefully examined, and report:
order—slaughter the young people and spare only the old people and children.'
"The Commission, in short, is satisfied that the letters are genuine."
" These few extracts, each from a separate letter, may suffice to convey their general tenor:
" ' 1. By order of the King we are setting fire to all the Bulgarian villages because the Bulgarians burned the beautiful town of Seres, Nigrita and several Greek villages. We have shown ourselves far more cruel than the Bulgarians.'
" ' 2. Here we are burning the villages and killing the Bulgarians, both women and children.'
" ' 3. We took only a few (prisoners), and these we killed, for such are the orders we received.'
" ' 4. We have to burn the villages—such is the
" ' 5. What is done to the Bulgarians is indescribable ; also to the Bulgarian peasants. It was a butchery. There is not a Bulgarian town or village but is burned.'
" ' 6. We massacre all the Bulgarians who fall into our hands, and burn the villages.'
" ' 7. Of the 1,200 prisoners we took at Nigrita, only forty-one remain in the prisons, and everywhere we have been we have not left a single root of this race.'
" ' 8. We picked out their eyes (five Bulgarian prisoners) while they were still alive."
" ' 9. The Greek Army sets fire to all villages where there are Bulgarians, and massacres all it meets. . . . God knows where this will end.' "
I add one extract from the Appendix :
" We have turned out much crueller than the Bulgars—we violated every girl we met."
The Commission concludes its report on the action of the Greek regular army as follows:
" Systematically, and in cold blood, the Greeks burned one hundred and sixty Bulgarian villages and destroyed at least 16,000 Bulgarian homes."
There remains the murder of the Vicar of the Bulgarian Archbishop of Salonica, the Archimandrite Eulogius, a highly educated man : " An enlightened and ardent patriot of noble and elevated views."
On June 17th the Greek Army bombarded the house in Salonica where the small Bulgarian force was stationed ; on the i8th the Bulgarians surrendered. On the 18th the Greeks arrested Eulogius and put him on board a Greek steamer, " Mariette Ralli," towards evening he was transferred on board the " Catherine," where he was treated with gross contumely and cruelty. On the 19th the " Catherine " put to sea, three hours later Eulogius was stabbed and thrown into the sea. The Greek official account is that he was killed fighting in the streets of Salonica, regarding which account the Commission remarks, "Unfortunately it is not true."
The excesses of the Greek Army began on July 4th with the first conflict at Kukush. The excesses at Demir-Hissar occurred on "July 7th. On July I2th King Constantine issued his order for reprisals based on the events at Demir-Hissar, and as the Commission says, '' A comparison of dates will show that the Greek ' reprisals ' had begun some days before the Bulgarian provocation." When the Greek Army entered Kukush it was still intact. It is to-day a heap of ruins. Well may the Commission say:
" The main fact on which we must insist is that the Greek Army inaugurated the second war by the deliberate burning of a Bulgarian town "—Kukush.
Verily, if the Greeks had remembered the Divine words, " Let him who is without sin amongst you cast the first stone," they would have hesitated before embarking on their campaign of mendacity which has so terribly and so completely recoiled on themselves.