Macedonia in the beginning of the 20th century
The 20th century is а time of great changes and challenges for the Macedonian people. In just a hundred years this small country is a side in rebel uprising and 3 wars, has been a part of Turkey, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, experiences great disappointment and revolutions with hope of a bright future.
In happiness and joy time goes on and leaves good memories and scars, stories of heroes who fought for Macedonia’s independence, cities left in ruins by war and
Here we will show Macedonia’s 20th century in Photos and tell about it. Speaking about history is not the same if you can’t see and feel.
A little background: the Balkans were taken over by the Ottoman empire in the 14th century and this was the beginning of a dark age for all Christians who lived there. While in the 19th century Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia were freed from the empire, Macedonia was still within its borders and taking the burden of all the wars upon its shoulders.
Here we can observe a litany procession of in honor of St. Clement in Ohrid. Macedonia is a follower of the Eastern Orthodox Church and what is captured in this photograph is unique. The priests are carrying a wooden statue of St. Clement! This is not typical for the orthodox church and is probably very old. St. Clement is the most important and worshiped saint of Ohrid for his deeds in the city.
Ohrid today is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Macedonia. Although this small country is landlocked, the Ohrid lake is so big that when you are standing in front of it, you feel as if it is a small fresh water sea. The architecture of the city has well preserved houses and churches many of which are older than a few hundred years. However, life since the beginning of the 20th century. Photography captures that which cannot be described with words, life as it has been in the past and will never be again, the spirit of the time. On the right you can see a photo of two peasants from Ohrid.
The Ottoman empire was a state of Asian, medieval habits and did not like changes. At all. While Europe was slowly entering the new age thanks to science and technology; the industrial era was just beginning, in the Ottoman empire life had not changed at all in the last 500 years. All people withing its borders were cut off the civilized world, with no access to the education and few civil rights. Time had stopped in the Ottoman empire.
Trade connections, however, started to bring in knowledge about the Western world and life there, some people had managed to get education abroad and became local leaders, teachers and revolutionaries. In the 19th century the weakened Ottoman empire started loosing large chunks of it’s territory – all Christian peoples were fighting for their rights and freedom, because not only did the Ottoman justice system had double-standards, but the people had almost no civil rights, the wrath of the Turks was on them.
In a period of only a hundred years Macedonia passed through the ages of Renaissance and Enlightenment and caught up with the modern world. Local culturologists have a special term for this: “Rapid development of culture”. Education was directly related with the revolutionary movement.
On the left you can see a typical Hayduk or rebel. He is among the people who have fought for the long-awaited freedom of Macedonia. The typical large mustache symbolizes manhood and social status.
People were frustrated with the worsening living conditions in the Ottoman empire and had started joining rebel bands to fight the Ottoman authorities. The band of Deyan Dimitroff fought for freedom in the beginning of the 20th century. The men would leave their homes in early spring and spend the summer in the highlands of the mountains and forests, attacking anyone related to the Ottoman administration. In this way they were disrupting the normal functioning of the state and collecting money for the cause of the rebellion.
Dimitroff’s band took part in the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie uprising – the largest organized rebellion against the Ottoman authorities. The Uprising was crushed by the Turks and with that, all hope for freedom. The more territories the Ottomans were loosing, the more vicious they were becoming – Dimitroff was burned alive when he was captured.
The first decades were tough years for the Macedonians and the time had come when few people could continue fighting, while many were fleeing to neighboring countries. Above is a photo of Macedonian refugees.
Soon the First Balkan War began – Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria had united to push the Ottomans further off the Balkans, but in during this war and WWI which follows thousands of people die. As a result Macedonia becomes part of Serbia (Yugoslavia) and a new era of it’s history began.
Learn more about Macedonia’s 20th century from the following post.