THE PLIGHT OF THE MACEDONIAN MOSLEMS DURING THE FIRST WAR
The Bulgarian army arrived on Monday, November 4, 1912. With the two Bishops and two other notables I went out to negotiate the surrender of our town with the commandant. On entering the town, the Bulgarians disarmed the Moslem inhabitants, but behaved well and did not loot. Next day, a Bulgarian civil authority was established, but Servians had the military control. The Bulgarian army marched on to Doiran; on its departure looting and slaughter began. I saw an old man of eighty lying in the street with his head split open, and the dead body of a boy of thirteen. About thirty Moslems were killed that day in the streets,--I believe by the Bulgarian bands. On Wednesday evening, an order was issued that no Moslem might leave his house day or night until further notice. A commission was then formed from the Bulgarian notables of the town; the Servian military commander presided, and the Bulgarian Civil Governor also sat upon it. A local gendarmerie was a appointed and a gendarme and a soldier were told off to go round from house to house, summoning the Moslems, one by one, to attend the commission. I was summoned myself with the rest.
The procedure was as follows: The Servian commandant would inquire, "What kind of a man is this?" The answer was simply either "good" or "bad." No inquiry was made into our characters; there was no defense and no discussion; if one member of the commission said "bad," that sufficed to condemn the prisoner. Each member of the commission had his own enemies whom he wished to destroy, and therefore did not oppose the wishes of his fellow members. When sentence was pronounced the prisoner stripped of his outer clothes and bound, and his money was taken by the Servian commander. I was pronounced "good," and so perhaps were one-tenth of the prisoners. Those sentenced were bound together by threes, and taken to the slaughter house; their ears and noses were often cut off before they were killed. This slaughter went on a month; I believe that from three to four thousand Moslems were killed in the town and the neighboring villages.
NOTE.--At this point the conversation became general and the four notables Strumnitsa each related how he had lost a son, a grandson, or a brother in this massacre.
No. 2. ABDUL KERIN AGA, of Strumnitsa, confirmed the statements of the previous witness. His own son was brought bound to the gate at his house; he then went to Toma, the chief of the Bulgarian bands, and tried to bargain with him for his son's life. Toma demanded a hundred pounds; he had previously paid on two different occasions 50 (pounds)
NOTE.--(1)The reader will note here and there in the appendices faulty phraseology, which has not been translated into good English. These documents reproduce testimony given by soldiers, peasants and uneducated people, and the Commission has endeavored to preserve the original wording in all such cases.
and 70 (pounds) to save this same son. He told Toma that he had not the money ready, but would try to sell a shop if the Bulgarians would wait until evening. Toma refused to wait and his son was shot.
No. 3. HADJI SULEIMAN EFFENDI, of Strumnitsa, agreed with the account which Rahni Effendi had given of the doings of the commission. The Servian troops left the town and Bulgarians replaced them, and remained up to the outbreak of the second war. On the whole they behaved fairly well. There was, however, some looting when they evacuated the town after their defeats in the second war; and about thirty people were then killed, including the Greek priest. The Greek army then occupied the town. They subsequently gave the order that the Moslems must abandon the town; and added that they, the Greeks, would burn the houses if the Moslems would not. I myself offered 3 pounds to the Greek patrol which came to burn down my house. The sergeant refused to take it, and said that if he did not burn the house another patrol would. The buildings were all systematically burnt, and the same thing was done in about thirty-two neighboring villages. "We [pointing to the others who were present] were all large farmers, employing, each of us, nearly 300 laborers and tenants; now we have nothing." (See also No. 65.)
No. 4. The Carnegie Commission visited the camp of the Moslem refugees outside Salonica and talked with two groups of them who came from villages near Strumnitsa. The Greeks told them that the Bulgarians would certainly massacre them if they stayed in the town; they urged, and pressed and persuaded. Most left under pressure. A few remained, and these were forced to leave. They heard that other villages had been burnt after they left, and some of them actually saw their villages in flames. They had received no rations from the Greeks for four days; they had no plans for the future, did not wish to go to Asia, nor yet to settle in Greek territory. They saw "no good in front of them at all."
A group of these refugees from the village Yedna-Kuk, near Strumnitsa, gave their experiences during the first war. The Bulgarian bands arrived before the regular army, and ordered the whole male population to assemble in the mosque. They were shut in and robbed of 300 pounds in all. Eighteen of the wealthier villagers were bound and taken to Bossilovo, where they were killed and buried. The villagers were able to remember nine of their names.
No. 5. The officials of the Comite Islamique, of Salonica, informed us on September 1 that there were 135,000 Mohammedan refugees in and around the town, most of whom had arrived since the second war. Of these, six or eight thousand had already gone to Asia Minor, chiefly to Mersina, Adalia, and Skenderoun. The Greek government had promised to supply five steamers, and in the last few days 3,000 had received tickets. The committee reminded the Greek government that it was responsible for the refugees now in Salonica, since it had obliged them to quit their homes. It has requested the government to supply these refugees with bread. The committee was then spending 50 pounds daily on bread. In reply to questions, the committee did not believe that any considerable number of the Moslem refugees would be given lands in Greek Macedonia. Some perhaps might be given at Kukush, but not more than one or two thousand people could be absorbed as farm laborers.
No. 6. EARLY EVENTS AT KUKUSH, in the autumn of 1912.
The Catholic priest Gustave Michel, superior of the mission at Kukush, gave the following information to the correspondent of Le Temps (July 10). He could testify to certain massacres perpetrated by the Bulgarian bands at Kurkut. A Bulgarian band led by Donchev shut all the men of the place in the mosque, and gathered the women round it,
in order to oblige them to witness the spectacle. The comitadjis then threw three bombs at the mosque but it was not blown up; they then set fire to it, and all who were shut up in it, to the number of about 700 men, were burnt alive. Those who attempted to flee were shot down by comitadjis posted round the mosque, and Pere Michel found human heads, arms, and legs lying about half burned in the streets. At Planitsa, Donchev's band committed still worse atrocities. It first drove all the men to the mosque and burnt them alive; it then gathered the women and burnt them in their turn in the public square. At Rayonovo a number of men and women were massacred; the Bulgarians filled a well with their corpses. At Kukush the Moslems were massacred by the Bulgarian population of the town and their mosque destroyed. All the Turkish soldiers who fled without arms and arrived in groups from Salonica were massacred.
NOTE.--The Commission failed to meet Father Michel, and must leave to the correspondent of Le Temps the responsibility for his statement.
No. 7. ALI RIZA EFFFNDI, of Kukush, states that the Bulgarian bands entered Kukush on October 30, after the Turks had left. Toma of Istip, their leader, installed himself as governor, and told the people to have no fear. Both Servian and Bulgarian detachments passed through the town, but only a very few soldiers were left there while the main army went on to Salonica. After the occupation of Salonica, disarmed Turkish soldiers in groups of two to three hundred at a time marched through Kukush on their way to their homes. They were captured by the Bulgarian bands and slaughtered, to the number of perhaps 2,000. A commission of thirty to forty Christians was established, which drew up lists of all the Moslem inhabitants throughout the district. Everyone was summoned to the mosque and there informed that he had been rated to pay a certain sum. Whole villages, were made responsible for the total amount; most of the men were imprisoned and were obliged to sell everything they possessed, including their wives' ornaments, in order to pay the ransom. They were often killed in spite of the payment of the money in full; he, himself, actually saw a Bulgarian comitadji cut off two fingers of a man's hand and force him to drink his own blood mixed with raki. From the whole county (Caza) of Kukush l,500 (Turkish pounds) were taken. The chief of bands, Donchev, arrived and matters were still worse. He burnt three Turkish villages in one day, Raianovo, Planitsa and Kukurtovo--345 houses in all. He shut up the men in the mosques and burnt them alive; the women were shut up in barns and ill used; children were actually flung against the walls and killed. This the witness did not see, but heard from his Christian neighbors. Only twenty-two Moslem families out of 300 remained in Kukush; the rest fled to Salonica. Twelve small Moslem villages were wiped out in the first war, the men killed and the women taken away. He was in Kukush when the Greeks entered it. The Bulgarians in leaving the town burnt nothing but the bakers' ovens. The Greeks systematically and deliberately plundered and burnt the town. He believes that many aged Bulgarian inhabitants were burnt alive in their houses. He himself found refuge in the Catholic orphanage.
No. 8. REPORT SIGNED BY YOUSSOUF EFFENDI, President of the Moslem
Community of Serres, and sealed with its seal.
On November 6, 1912, the inhabitants of Serres, sent a deputation to meet the Bulgarian army and surrender the town. Next day Zancov, a Bulgarian Chief of bands, appeared in the town with sixteen men, and began to disarm the population. A day later the Bulgarian army entered Serres and received a warm welcome. That evening the Bulgarian soldiers, on the pretext that arms were still hidden in the houses of the Moslems, entered them and began to steal money and other valuables. Next day the Moslem refugees from the district north of Serres were invited to appear at the prefecture; they obeyed the Summons; but on their arrival a trumpet sounded and the Bulgarian soldiers seized
their arms and began to massacre these inoffensive people; the massacre lasted three hours and resulted in the death of 600 Moslems. The number of the victims would have been incalculable had it not been for the energetic intervention of the Greek bishop, and of the director of the Orient bank.
The Moslems of the town were then arrested in the cafes, houses and streets, and imprisoned, some at the prefecture and others in the mosques; many of the former were slaughtered with bayonets. Bulgarian soldiers in the meantime entered Turkish houses, violated the women and girls and stole everything they could lay their hands on. The Moslems imprisoned in the overcrowded mosques were left without food for two days and nights and then released. For six days rifle shots were heard on all sides; the Moslems were afraid to leave their houses; and of this the Bulgarian soldiers took advantage to pillage their shops. Moslem corpses lay about in the streets and were buried only when they began to putrify. For several days the Bulgarian soldiers destroyed houses and mosques in order to obtain firewood. The corn and animals of the Moslems were seized by the Bulgarian authorities without any receipt or note of requisition. Complaints made on this subject were ignored. The furniture and antiquities belonging to the schools, mosques and hospitals were taken and sent to Sofia. The Bulgarians subjected several Moslem notables to all sorts of humiliations; they were driven with whips to sweep the streets and stables; and many a blow was given to those who dared to wear a fez. In a word, during the Bulgarian occupation the Moslems were robbed and maltreated both in the streets and at the prefecture, unless they had happened to give board and lodging to some Bulgarian officer. The Bulgarian officers and gendarmes before leaving Serres took everything that was left in the shops of Moslems, Jews and Greeks, and pitilessly burnt a large number of houses, shops, cafes, and mills.
September 5, 1913.