Consequences of the demographic and social re-arrangements to the Vlach-speaking element of Greek Macedonia (1923-1926)[1]

by Vlasis Vlasidis

(extract from Revue des etudes sud-est europeennes, Danube-Balkans-Mer Noire Tome XXXVI, 1998, Nos 1–4, pp.155–171)

On August the 10th, 1913 representatives of Greece, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Romania and the Ottoman Empire signed the Bucharest Treaty, which permanently established the status that had been created in the Balkans after the Second Balkan War. This treaty settled a number of questions, such as the borders, the sovereignty on the Aegean islands and the national minorities that remained in the territory of neighbouring states. In a treaty supplement it was mentioned that Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia were obliged to provide educational and church autonomy to the pro-Romanian Koutsovlachs[2] who lived within their states and to accept sponsorship from Romania towards the Romanian Church and educational foundations[3].

At that time this term may have come as a surprise to the public but not to those who worked on the backstage of the Peace Treaty. During the negotiations, on the July 23rd in specific, Venizelos had exchanged letters with the prime-minister of Romania, Titu Maiorescu concerning the future of the pro-Romania Vlachs in Macedonia. In his letter, Venizelos wrote that "Greece consents to provide autonomy to the Koutsovlachic schools and churches existing in the future Greek territories and to allow for the constitution of a committee for these Koutsovlachs, while the Romanian Government may sponsor under the supervision of the Greek Government the above said existing or future religious and national institutions[4] . The text of both Venizelos' letter as well as the thanking response letter of the Romanian prime minister were included in the treaty supplement of Bucharest and settled in the most formal way the status of Koutsovlachs in the Greek state[5].

This development may seem at first as a defeat of the Greek diplomacy. Greek governments pursued to expand Greek sovereignty up to Stromnitsa, Krousovo, Morihovo, Monastir and did not acknowledge any Bulgarian and Romanian claims on the region of southern Macedonia. The Greek state was forced not only to acknowledge but also to protect those Koutsovlachs that had for some reason preferred to be on the Romanian and not on the Greek side between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, when the newly born Balkan states tried through the ecclesiastical and educational propaganda to enhance their position in Macedonia. However, it was a maneuver on behalf of Venizelos in the Peace Conference in order to assure Romania's support in a number of other unsettled issues, such as the future of Kavala, Northern Epirus and the status in the Aegean islands. As far as these matters were concerned, the future did not seem very bright for the Greek side, as France was the only Great Power that supported the Greek views[6].

It may be argued that the preservation of Romanian schools and churches on greek soil as well as the confirmation of Romania's right to officially intervene in affairs of the Greek state concerning the Koutsovlachs, came as a justification to Romania's effort dating back to the mid-19th century to acquire significant support in the region of Macedonia by approaching the Koutsovlachs. The first contact had been made with Ioannis Radulescu and Dimitri Bolintineanu's travel in Epirus and Macedonia, where they had discovered populations with mainly linguistic similarities to the Romanians. After returning to Romania Bolintineanu started writing ardent articles about the Koutsovlachs in newspapers and Radulescu published the book Dream of an Outcast, by which he argued that Greeks were confined to Tenaro and all the rest were Romanians[7]. The next step was for outstanding members of the Romanian society to establish in 1860 the "Macedonian-Romanian Committee" in Bucharest with the aim to create educational activity among the Koutsovlachs of Macedonia[8]. At the same time the Romanian state started showing interest in the issue of the Koutsovlachs. The first Romanian school in Macedonia was set up in 1864 in Klisura and the second opened three years later in Avdela. Assigning the Romanian propaganda to Apostolos Margaritis assisted the spread of the Romanian influence among the Koutsovlachs of Macedonia despite the heavy reaction from the Athens government and from the local Greek notables. In 1900, according to the Romanian side, there were 6 Romanian high-schools and 113 public schools in Macedonia[9].

It is a reasonable inquiry to make as to whom the Greek state and the local communities in Macedonian small cities and villages considered as pro-Romanians during the Interwar period. Belonging initially to the pro-Romanians were the families of teachers, priests, church-singers in general propagandists for the Romanian state, especially those who had victims during the period of national conflicts in Macedonia[10]. Moreover several slav-speaking Bulgarian supporters had preferred to be registered as pro-Romanians in order to have a greater liberty of action and to avoid the shortly coming migration to Bulgaria according to the Neilly treaty for the exchange of Greek and Bulgarian populations[11]. However, the pro-Romanian category included not only individuals who had in the past been actively anti-Greek or simply against Greek domain, but also people with no participation up to that time in national conflicts. They were perhaps the majority.

Several of them had remained uninfluenced by the opposite national propagandas of the beginning of the century in Macedonia and had no interest in whether it would be the Greeks, the Bulgarians or the Romanians who would replace the Ottoman state in their region. The annexation of the greater part of Macedonia to the Greek state would not easily be noticed as, due to the continuous war battles, the Greek state was not able to improve anything in their everyday lives. The situation of education, health and public security remained stagnant. Thus, several Koutsovlachs with hardly any affiliation to Romania would send their children to Romanian schools because of the temporary weakness of Greek education. Examples of such weakness was the lack of teachers, the plight of the buildings and even the difficulty in giving the scarce amounts needed for the schools to work every day[12]. In some cases the situation was so miserable, that even Koutsovlachic families with pure Greek feelings had to send their children to Romanian schools so that they would not remain illiterate. Teachers serving in Macedonia reported cases of Koutsovlachic villages, the inhabitants of which, having waited for too long for a Greek teacher, compromised sending their children to the Romanian school[13]. But even where Greek schools existed, the free supply of books, writing materials and allowances to the needy pupils at that time attracted a large percentage of pupils to Romanian schools[14].

All those forced by need to turn to Romanian education did not necessarily consider themselves as Romanians, nor did they take any active part in the Romanian communities that had been established in most villages with Romanian educational and church foundations. Nevertheless, the representatives of the Greek state and especially the low-ranking ones, being irrelevant to the local problems, did not hesitate in including even Koutsovlachic families with pure Greek feelings among the pro-Romanians, because some of their members went to a Romanian school or had attended in a Romanian church.

The position of the Greek state towards the question of the autonomy of the Romanian communities on Greek soil was constantly positive and was not affected by internal or international developments, such as the national division and the World War I, respectively. Right after the Bucharest treaty the Foreign Ministry assigned the General Command of Macedonia to notify the grant of autonomy to the Romanian church and educational foundations in all the towns and the villages where Koutsovlachs lived and to try to convince Koutsovlachs with a Greek national consciousness that this was not a betrayal to their struggles for Hellenism to prevail but rather an agreement made for the sake of national interest[15].

In reality, of course, things were not always smooth, especially when the low-ranking members of the state mechanism, the army and the Church serving in Macedonia had taken part in the national conflicts of the first decade of the 20th century. There are reports of events such as the one with the father superior of the Archangelos Monastery, who threatened the pro-Romanian Koutsovlachs of his district, assaults against pro-Romanians from officers leading military detachments in Archangelos and in Skra[16] and of high-ranking members of the General Command, who declined or hesitated in recognising as legitimate the Romanian communities of their region[17]. Whenever these arbitrary actions were reported, the reaction of the Greek state was always objective and severe against the guilty parts. Thus, measures were taken for the father superior of the Archangelos Monastery to be transferred to a position where he would cause less problems in the future, and the officers solely responsible for the incident with the pro-Romanians were sharply remarked[18].

Measures were taken accordingly whenever the responsibility for instigating troubles was proven to weight upon the pro-Romanians. Achilleas Dimtse and Naoum Magarisi, Romanian teachers in Klisura were indicted because, as they wanted their community to have a pro-Romanian priest, they addressed a memorandum to the bishop of Kastoria falsifying the signatures of people who had migrated or died[19].

An increase of cases of overstepped duty especially by military detachments and police parties, was observed in 1918-1919. In Megala Livadia, Anydro, Koumaria and Grevena assaults against the presidents of the communities and Romanian teachers occurred. In all cases the perpetrators received penalties whose weight corresponded with the gravity of their wrongdoing. The Romanian side did not merely watch these events idly[20]. The Romanian side had also its share of exertion. In the summer of 1917 Italy conquered Epirus. The Italians entering the Koutsovlachic villages said that they had come as liberators and instigated the Koutsovlachs to proclaim their independence. Indeed at a conference of the Koutsovlachic communities of Pindos, held on the 27th of July 1917, it was proclaimed that Pindos was independent under the protection of Italy. When the Greek troops repossessed Epirus the ringleaders took refuge in Albania[21]. Moreover, pro-Romanian Koutsovlachs addressed a memorandum at the Peace Conference asking for independence and annexation to Albania[22]. So, it was natural for spirits to be restless in Macedonia. The members of the Greek administration and of the army thought that pro-Romanians had been actively hostile towards Greece, while no one could be sure if once peace was established in the region, the Pro-Romanians would continue to enjoy self-rule.

Peace treaties brought no change to what was in the Bucharest treaty for the pro-Romanian Koutsovlachs of Macedonia. This fact as well as the stabilisation of Greek administration at the New Lands contributed to the drastic decrease of cases of exertion and assault against the pro-Romanians. The Greek state sent instructions to the local authorities reminding that police personnel were obliged to treat the pro-Romanians of their district in a nice way[23], while at the same time it punished with no leniency anyone who would not keep with what had been agreed in the Bucharest treaty[24].

In cases of conflict between pro-Romanians and Koutsovlachs with Greek convictions for the ownership of a school or a church and even if the latter were right, the Greek state avoided taking measures that would offend the Romanian community. A typical example is the case of Kato Vermio, where in the middle of 1920 a conflict broke up between the two parties of the village concerning the rights over the church. The Foreign Ministry answered that, since according to the Bucharest treaty there was a Romanian community and it had been acknowledged by the Greek side, this situation could not change. The only thing that could be done was for a new Greek church and a new Greek school to be built[25]. The Greek side showed great sensitivity in avoiding any hindrance in the function of church and educational foundations, while they had no objections on the re-opening of schools and churches that had closed long ago. Pro-Romanian Koutsovlachs kept in fact the right to re-establish schools and churches that had ceased existing in the previous years even after they had left the Greek territory in 1926[26].

The relatively few problems of the pro-Romanians in their relations with both the officials of the central administration as well as the neighbouring populations started surfacing after the end of the World War I. One should seek the reasons for such a delay both in the improvement of Koutsovlachic standards of living in the first years after the Ottoman Empire had withdrawn from the region of Macedonia and in the war conflict itself in which all the Great Powers had been involved with no exception. Specifically, the Vlachs of the Balkans both of Romanian or Greek convictions, after being assimilated in the Greek state, saw the demand for dairy products rising high and their prices following along. As a consequence of this change the Koutsovlachs found themselves holding amounts of money so large they had never dreamt of being able to acquire. At the first years of the World War I, while the flames of war were kept out of the Greek borders, former shepherds would very easily buy city houses and open stores in villages, while more than a few proceeded in buying real estate and large farming land in order to invest their profits[27].

Moreover the Entente decision to create the Balkan Front in the inland of Thessaloniki on the direction of Kilkis resulted in a number of Koutsovlachic villages such as Megala Livadia, Koupa, Skra, Archangelos, Loungountsa, Periklia being evacuated and later on suffering heavy damages due to warfare[28]. However, those villages that were far from the front line were also greatly affected by the war conflict. Greece's participation in the war was followed by a call to the Koutsovlachs to serve in the Greek army just as the rest of the Greek state citizens. This roll call created large anxiety at the vlachic villages of Pindos, as the Ottoman Empire had never recruited the Christians of the Balkans either in peace or at war. Thus, several young men preferred to escape to the Italian occupied Epirus in order to avoid recruitment[29].

Another problem they had to face was the reduction of pastures caused by the creation of borders between the Balkan states and the lack of owner's titles on their houses and prairies. There are cases of Vlachic families that had to re-buy land they had been using before 1912[30]. These problems were to grow larger after 1922 when the Asia Minor catastrophe was followed by the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey. The refugees from Asia Minor were greatly outnumbered than those who left Macedonia, Epirus and Crete to settle in Kemal's Turkey.

Settling hundreds of thousands of refugees in Macedonia was not an easy task. The lands that had been cultivated up to that time were not sufficient in order for all the refugees settling in the country to have even a small piece of land. To solve this problem, efforts were undertaken for land-improving projects, aiming at draining the great lakes and the multitude of marshes at the plains and the plateaus of Macedonia. However at the same time, the concept of land ownership began to shift. Lands used up to that time as pastures were divided into pieces and given to the refugees for cultivation or were just arbitrarely taken by them. The reduction of pasture land brought stock-breeding to a decline and resulted in serious economic damage for the Koutsovlachic communities[31].

Moreover the Koutsovlachs, just like the other citizens of the Greek state, started facing the strong competition of the refugees in the trade line. Asia Minor merchants were equally good with their colleagues in Athens, if not even better, as they came from great commercial centres of the Ottoman Empire such as Constantinople, Smyrna, Trapezounta etc. Some of them had managed to bring along large capital, which they immediately invested in their new homeland, making any comparison to the Koutsovlach merchants unfair. The living standards of the Koutsovlachs dropped even further with the terrible raise of prices on all products and services after 1923, which was a result of the increased demand for goods caused by the arrival of the refugees. These financial repercussions were even stronger for the communities of the pro-Romanians that included Koutsovlachs of a not especially flourishing financial status[32]. Public dissatisfaction also rose from some measures of the government that had formed after Plastiras and Gonatas' movement, such as the prosecution of those who avoided joining the Greek army[33].

The Romanian state on the other side was extremely pleased with the way the matter of the pro-Romanians had been settled by the supplement of the Bucharest treaty and with the Greek government's intention to act upon the obligations deriving from the text of the treaty. They preferred to focus their interest in maintaining good relations with Greece and not to pay attention to the complaints of the pro-Romanians. After the end of the World War I they declared that there was absolutely no Koutsovlachic question for Romania and that most of the reports they received were either inconsistent or based on exaggeration of actual facts[34]. This attitude of Romania was aiming on the one hand to discourage the various Macedonian-Romanian Committees of Bucharest so that they would not constantly create problems in the Greek-Romanian relations and on the other hand to create the impression to the pro-Romanian Koutsovlachs that the official Romanian side had decided to close the Macedonian question and that they should not rely on Romania whenever they had a dispute with the Greek State[35].

Despite the discouragement from Romania, the Romanian communities decided to protest through reports to the Greek government about their financial and social plight, because the problems they were facing were extremely serious[36]. Nevertheless, realising that their situation was irreversible, they did not stop at expressing complaints but went further by asking the Greek government to mediate to the Romanian one so that would get migration permit and be somehow assisted by the Romanian side to move and settle in Romania[37]. This first attempt was not successful. The Romanian government did not wish to be engaged in the problems of the pro-Romanian Koutsovlachs of the Balkans, as the various committees of Bucharest requested, preferring to maintain friendly relations with the Athens government, and did not change their minds despite the opposition's criticism[38]. It should be noted that, despite their accusations towards the government, even the representatives of the various committees recognised that the plight of the pro-Romanian minority in Greece was due to the settlement of refugees and to the increase of the cost of living and not to warranted persecutions[39].

The Romanian government's negative attitude seems to have disappointed the pro-Romanian Koutsovlachs since they did not take any action for about a year and a half. However, their need for a solution to the problem of turning the pastures over to the refugees for cultivation became even more demanding as the settling of refugees in Macedonia continued. Thus, on November 30 1924 a general meeting of the Koutsovlachic communities of the prefectures of Thessaloniki, Pella, Kozani, Imathia was held at the Romanian school of Veria so that the serious question would be discussed[40]. It was decided that a committee should be sent to Romania to request from the Romanian government permission to migrate on Romanian soil. The committee went to Bucharest and contacted delegates of the Romanian government. It was emphasised to the Romanian side that the problem was caused by the settlement of Asia Minor refugees, but they did not have any complaints about the Greek government although they were not able to offer a solution to their problem. Despite all that, the Romanian government remained negative to the requests of the Macedonian pro-Romanians[41].

At that specific time the Macedonian-Romanian Committees of Bucharest intervened and took initiative, so that the Romanian government would reconsider. These committees established at earlier times aiming to sensitizing the public opinion and the political world of Romania sensitive to the issue of Koutsovlachs in Macedonia and of supporting through the creation of Romanian schools and building Romanian churches at the towns and villages where the presence of the koutsovlachic element was strong, became after the Bucharest treaty completely inert. The most important was the "Macedonian-Romanian Educational Society" with Ionel Gradisteanou presiding and outstanding members of the political and educational community of Romania participating, such as Nikolae Batsaria, ex-senator in the Turkish senate, George Murnu, professor at the university of Bucharest, etc.[42]. The postwar uncertainty about the future of the populations of Macedonia, and perhaps the support of Italy as well, made the heads of the Society send a memorandum to the Peace Conference with two representatives from Greece in order to express their views about the Koutsovlachs in Greek Macedonia. The mission was finally cancelled as there were objections from the Koutsovlachs of the Serbian Macedonia, who considered themselves to be in a much worse situation than their brothers living in Greece and therefore more interest should be put on the improvement of living conditions in Serbian Macedonia[43], but as well as there were questions concerning the real aims of the Italian side[44] .

The Macedonian-Romanian Society in the 1920's tried to keep the matter of the Koutsovlachs in Macedonia in publicity mainly by sending memorandums to the Romanian government concerning solutions to the problems of Romanian schools and churches[45] and publishing articles, in which the situation of Koutsovlachs in Macedonia was represented as tragic, and notes on authority exertions against the Romanian communities in the periodical-instrument of the Society Peninsula Balcanica and at the newspaper Renasterea Romana that was directed by Batsaria[46]. It should be noted that they were aiming mainly against the Serbian authorities that had closed the Romanian schools and churches in the Serbian Macedonia in the context of a serbianization policy they followed, while they were milder in the case of Greece[47]. No vagabond moves such as sending armed groups in Macedonia were included in the plans of action of the Macedonian-Romanian Society and that is why most members rejected a proposal from the Bulgarian Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation (IMRO) to cooperate in instigating disturbances in Greek Macedonia in order to get autonomy[48].

Nevertheless, there were also members such as the parliamentarians Poutserea and Pineta, who disagreed with the policy followed by the Macedonian-Romanian Educational Society and asked for a harsher position towards the Greek government. These members addressed, at the beginning of 1920 a memorandum to the Greek Embassy in Bucharest, in which every case of violation of rights of the Koutsovlachs in Greek Macedonia was recorded[49]. On November 14, 1921, they proceeded to establish a new committee, the "Union of Aromunian Students" considering that the Macedonian-Romanian Society was not active enough in the matter of protecting the Koutsovlachs of Macedonia. Moreover, they decided to cooperate with the Bulgarian federalists Athanasoff, Panitsa and Youroukoff in order to liberate Macedonia from the Serbs and the Greeks[50]. Despite their disappointment from the disappearance of the Bulgarian federalists who could not rise up to the competition with the IMRO, they continued to be hostile to Greece, which they constantly accused for persecutions, deportations, confiscations and murders of the pro-Romanian Koutsovlachs in the region of Greek Macedonia[51].

The establishment of the "Union of Aromunian Students" made the Macedonian-Romanian Society's policy towards Greece harsher. Both committees trying to lead among the Koutsovlachs of Bucharest competed each other in publishing accusations against the Greek side for suppression of the Koutsovlachs in Macedonia. In fact the matter of protecting the Koutsovlachs of Greek Macedonia had changed from cause to means for serving personal or collective aims[52]. The Koutsovlachic delegation from Greek Macedonia that examined the possibility of migration represented for both the committees and as to their members a unique opportunity to come out to the spot light and play a significant part in Romanian political life.

The pressure from the Macedonian-Romanian Committees brought a result, as the Romanian government finally decided to mediate to the Greek government to allow migration to all those who wanted to settle in Romania and offered to all those who wished to migrate lands at the area of Dobrudja, which had been granted to Romania by Bulgaria in 1919. The committee was puzzled on their return from Bucharest because the land was marshy, it was on the Bulgarian borders and they had no certainty to the commitment of the Romanian government for further assistance in the matter of settling[53]. It was obvious that Romania had the intention to settle friendly towards Bucharest populations at the new territories and to use the immigrants as border guards for the protection of the area from the expected attacks of the Bulgarian comitadjis. An article of a Romanian newspaper of the opposition in 1926 wrote that the Romanian government had promised to give 10 acres, a building-plot, timber and bricks for building a house worth 50,000 leis, a pair of oxen, a plow and seed to every family that would migrate to Romania with a 30-year pay off period[54] . However, it is obvious that such a generous gesture could not be attributed to a government that until recently denied any help to the pro-Romanian Koutsovlachs of Macedonia and finally gave reluctant permission for migration in its territory under the pressure of the Bucharest Committees. These promises must have been given by the Macedonian-Romanian Committees to the Committee of the Koutsovlachs in order to calm their frustration due to the ground they had been granted and the future migration in Romania not to be called off.

When the Committee returned to Macedonia, they shared their reservations about their future in Romania with the remaining Koutsovlachs and in result several changed their minds and wish no longer to migrate. Their doubts whether there was a point in migrating to Romania seemed to have vanished when people, who due to their position were able to have great influence on the Koutsovlachic element, started pressuring the pro-Romanian Koutsovlachs to migrate. The inspector of the Romanian schools of Edessa, Petros Kounias, specifically, traveled through the Koutsovlachic villages of his district and urged their inhabitants to migrate to Romania promising that the Romanian government would gladly stand on their side[55].

Finally the Romanian government asked the Greek one to permit the migration of 1,500 families from Greek Macedonia to New Dobrudja and was granted this request. There is no official document of this Greek-Romanian agreement. The agreement was verbal and the details were settled in a meeting of Greek government representatives with members of the Romanian embassy in Athens[56]. The procedure that should be followed by those who wished to migrate was set with the document of September 12, 1925, no. 11866 of the General Command of Macedonia. The Koutsovlachs who wanted to migrate to Romania had to submit a statement of migration to the General Command and would have to wait to migrate with their family until July 30, 1926. Afterwards they would lose their right to migrate[57]. Moreover, all those who would leave the Greek territory with no intention of returning to it would loose their Greek nationality and would be erased from the Municipal Records and the Registers of Males in the towns and villages they had been registered[58].

Nevertheless, things turned out quite different from the procedure set by the Greek authorities. One should seek the reason to the fact that the Koutsovlachs wavered till the last moment about what they had to do. Thus, there were several people who had stated within the prescribed time-limit that they would migrate to Romania but then retracted their decision and others who asked for permission to leave the country in order to migrate to Dobrudja after July 30th 1926[59]. For example in Archangelos out of 100 families intending to migrate, 70 finally left[60]. There were also cases of Koutsovlachic families that initially sent some of their members to Romania to examine the place and the conditions of settling and then those members returned to finally migrate with all the remaining members of the families[61] .

The local authorities, in order to deal with these problems, asked for instructions from Athens but also made their own suggestions. Thus, the lieutenant-commander of Enotia expressed the view, obviously under the impression of the exchange of Greek-Turkish populations that had just been completed, that for those who had signed a statement of migration and later on regretted it, violent means should be used in order to be forced to follow their initial decision[62]. However, such tactics were not approved by the central authority. The General Command strictly prohibited the Police to take any measures against those who refused to migrate, since this was not an exchange of populations but a voluntary migration[63]. Moreover, the Foreign Ministry was not against extending the prescribed time limit for leaving Greek Macedonia if the interested parts had submitted a migration statement on time.

Finally the migration started becoming a reality in the end of 1925. The pro-Romanians from Macedonia started settling in New Dobrudja. Up to the middle of 1926 most people who wished to migrate had already settled in Romania. The exact number of people who left the Greek territory with Romania as their destination is not known. Capidan mentions that in the mid 1920's about 12,000 Koutsovlachs[64] settled in the villages of Dobrudja and modern scholars accept this number[65]. However, these 12,000 people did not come exclusively from Greece, because at the same time there was a migration current of Koutsovlachs from Albania and Bulgaria to Romania with final destination to Dobrudja[66].

Unfortunately there are no official documents from the Greek side concerning the final number of people who left Greek Macedonia to settle in Dobrudja. One should seek the reason mainly in the voluntary character of the migration, the indifference of the Greek state whether the pro-Romanians would remain in Greek Macedonia or leave, and in the fact that the migration period continued even after 1926. To a question from the Foreign Ministry about the final number of immigrants to Romania[67], the General Command of Macedonia replied that up to the end of August 1926 1,050 families had migrated to Romania and 100 more were about to leave[68]. This number was not final, though. In any case, the final number of immigrants should not be more than 1,500 families, as in the autumn of 1926 the migration current was already not so strong. Information from the Bulgarian press concerning the settling of 3,000 families from Greek Macedonia in Dobrudja before the summer of 1926 and the expected arrival of 4,000 more families should not be seriously taken into consideration, as there are no documents proving that so many Koutsovlachic families left Greek Macedonia in the spring of 1926[69].

The course of migration from Macedonia to New Dobrudja really ended in the end of 1926. In the following years few families made use of the right to migrate to Romania. Those Koutsovlachic families that had changed their minds and remained in Greece did not express any wish to leave the country in the next years. The migration typically ceased in 1929 when Romania, on the grounds of some punishable actions of the grant Koutsovlachs forbade granting the Romanian territory to the Koutsovlachs of Macedonia[70].

New Dobrudja did not turn out to be the promised land for the Koutsovlachs who left Greek Macedonia pressured by the consequences of re-arrangements in Greek Macedonia in the 1920's. Both soil and climate conditions were radically different from those of Macedonia and did not favour stock-breeding which was the main occupation for most Vlachs in the Balkans. On the contrary, in the matter of security the situation strongly resembled Macedonia in the beginning of the century, since the immigrants would have comitadjis raid their villages. With the aid of local Romanian military authorities, the Koutsovlachs formed groups of self-protection, which patrolled along the border line without hesitating to engage themselves even in battles with the comitadji troops[71]. The adaptation of the immigrants to the new data was harder than expected and so was their assimilation by the Romanian society[72]. The Second World War, especially, held an unpleasant surprise for the immigrants from Macedonia. The area given to them was granted back to Bulgaria by Hitler's regime. So, they had to evacuate their villages and emigrate to Northern Dobrudja that remained under Romanian rule[73]. Ever since there is no more information about them.

The communist regime that was enforced at the late 1940's unlike the one in the Soviet Union and in Yugoslavia, maintained the unity of the country and practiced no special treatment on a political or social level for the multitude of minorities living on Romanian soil. The main priorities were the industrialisation of the country and the socialistic transformation[74]. What happened to a few thousands Koutsovlach immigrants from Macedonia in the postwar socialist Romania is not known. It is possible that their communities were dispersed and most Koutsovlachs gathered in the large cities and were assimilated by the socialist model of occupation and development. The example of Yugoslavia teaches us that socialistic regimes in the Balkans in a brief period of fifty years did not manage to bring dramatic changes to the population data and to people's mentality. They merely ignored the past and tried to build a different present and future. Thus, in our case there are great many possibilities that the Koutsovlachic communities were kept intact and that the immigrants from Macedonia live at some area on the coast of the Black Sea. However, seeking their present location and trying to restore contact with their communities, timely that it is, does not concern the subject of the present paper.


[1] For the scholarship that allowed me to produce and publish this research I am grateful to the Museum for the Macedonian Struggle. I also thank in particular prof. John Koliopoulos and dr. Basil C.Gounaris for their useful comments and the expert from the Foreign Ministry Evangelos Kofos, who permitted me to use out of his personal archive interwar documents, without which this research could not be completed.

[2] Vlachs or Koutsovlachs comprise one of the earliest populations that inhabited the Balkan peninsula. There are two different points of view concerning their origin. According to the first one, they had been originally located to the north and then moved to the Balkans and according to the second one, they are natives who have been latinised. The Koutsovlachs are populations living on the mountains of Epirus, Thessaly and Western Macedonia. Their language is latin and it is similar to Romanian. Stock-breeding, transportations and trade were the main koutsovlachic occupations. As the Koutsovlachs had Greek convictions, they were one of the main supports of Hellenism in the central Balkans. (For a complete account of the most significant theories on the origin, language, history and national identity of the Koutsovlachs see extempore Antonis M.Koltsidas, Κουτσόβλαχοι. Οι βλαχόφωνοι Ελληνες [Koutsovlachs. The vlach-speaking Greeks], Thessalonike, 1993.

[3] M.D. Peyfuss, Die Aromunische Frage. Ihre Entwicklung von den Ursprung bis zum Frieden von Bukarest (1913) und die Haltung Ostereich-Ungarns, Vienna 1974, p.121.

[4] E. Averoff, Η πολιτική πλευρά του Κουτσοβλαχικού Ζητήματος [The political side of the Koutsovlachic Question], Athens 1989, p.65-66.

[5] St. Andonopoulos, Αι συνθήκαι Λονδίνου, Βουκουρεστίου και Αθηνών [The treaties of London, Bucharest and Athens], Athens 1917, p.101-102.

[6] On the views of the Great Powers in the Bucharest conference see E. Gardika-Katsiadaki, "Ο συσχετισμός των δυνάμεων και η Ελλάδα μπροστά στη συνθήκη του Βουκουρεστίου", [The correlation of powers and Greece in front of the Treaty of Bucharest], Η συνθήκη του Βουκουρεστίου και η Ελλάδα. Συμπόσιο [The treaty of Bucharest and Greece. Symposium], Thessalonike, 1990, p.41-54.

[7] Averoff, op. cit., p.24-25. A.Chrysochoou, Οι Βλάχοι της Μακεδονίας, Θεσσαλίας και Ηπείρου [The Vlachs of Macedonia, Thessaly and Epirus], Thessaloniki 1942, p.8.

[8] Th.Capidan, Les Macedo-Roumains. Esquisse historique et descriptive des populations Roumains de la peninsule Balkanique, Bucharest 1937, p.66. Chrysochoou, op. cit., p.8.

[9] Capidan, op. cit., p.66-67. On the other hand, according to Greek sources in 1890 there were 24 romanian public schools, 3 high-schools and a commercial school in Macedonia (G.Nakratzas, Η στενή εθνολογική συγγένεια των σημερινών Ελλήνων, Βουλγάρων και Τούρκων [The Close Ethnological Relation between Modern Greeks, Bulgarians and Turks], Thessalonike 1992, p.54-59).

[10] Ιστορικό Αρχείο Υπουργείου Εξωτερικών (AYE) [Historical Archive of the Foreign Ministry of Greece] Κεντρική Υπηρεσία (ΚΥ), [Central Department], B/1921, B/59(2), Karamanolis, Lieutenant Commander of Goumenitsa to General Governor of Thessalonike, Goumenitsa, February 25, 1920, no 8 conf.

[11] AYE/KY, B/1924, B/59(12), Lieutenant Commander of Goumenitsa to General Command of Thessaloniki, Goumenissa, March 16, 1924, no 34. Αρχείο Γενικής Διοίκησης Μακεδονίας (GDM) [Archive of General Command of Macedonia], f.71B, Prefector of Pella to General Command of Thessaloniki, Edessa, March 22, 1927, no 46 conf.

[12] AYE/KY, B/1921, B/59(2), General Command of Thessalonike to Foreign Ministry, Thessalonike, April 21, 1921, no 183 conf. AYE/KY, B/1924, B/37(3), Lambros, General Governor of Thessaloniki to the Inspector of public schools in Gianitsa, Thessalonike, May 26, 1923, no 19468.

[13] AYE/KY, B/1923, B/45, Hatzidimou, Director of the Half High-school of Goumenitsa to the General Inspector of the 3rd Educational District, Goumenissa s.t, no 13.

[14] AYE/KY, B/1920, B/33-59 b, Kalevras to the Foreign Ministry, Ioannina, June 19, 1920, no 863 conf. GDM, f.91, Lieutenant Commander of Goumenitsa to the General Command of Thessaloniki, Goumenissa, March 16, 1924, no 34 conf.

[15] AYE/KY, B/1914-1918, B/33, 35, 36, 37, The Foreign Minister, to Mavroudi, General Governor of Macedonia, Athens, September 21, 1913, no 25325.

[16] GDM, f.91, The General Governor of Macedonia to the Commanding Commissioner of Edessa, Thessaloniki, February 10, 1914, no 6580. GDM, f.91, The Director of the Home Command and Agriculture to the Headquarters of the Occupation Army, Thessalonike, January 30, 1914, no 4231. GDM, f.91, Petition of the People of Lioumnitsa to Touda, Prefector of Thessalonike, Thessalonike, April 7, 1914.

[17] GDM, f.91, Sub-Command of Edessa to the Prefector of Thessalonike, Edessa, May 17, 1915, no 27.

[18] op. cit.

[19] ΑΥΕ/ΚΥ, Β/1919, Β/37, Kastoria, November 29, 1915.

[20] On the incident at Megala Livadia see AYE/KΥ, B/1919, B/37, Adosidis, General Governor of Thessaloniki to the Foreign Ministry, Thessaloniki, July 18, 1919, no 26672. On the arbitrary actions of the military detachment in Tsigarevo see AYE/KY, B/1918, B/37, Politis to the General Command of Thessaloniki, Athens, August 31, 1918, no 7673. On police exertion in Koumaria see GDM. f.86, Summary of a letter addressed from the Romanian community of Doliani to the Secretary of Administration of Romanian Schools of Thessaloniki, kept at the post check, May 10, 1918, no 14885. On the incidents against pro-Romanians of Grevena see AYE/KY, B/1918, B/37, Telegraph from Iliakis to the Foreign Ministry, Kozani, June 25, 1918.

[21] Averoff, op. cit., p.68-69. Capidan, op. cit., p.70-71.

[22] Capidan, op. cit., p.71. Hristo Antonovski, "The Sevres Treaty for Macedonia and the Macedonians", Macedonian Review, 11/3 (1981), 275.

[23] GDM, f.71A, The Supreme Command of Police to Commands of Police, Thessaloniki, May 20, 1929, no 42/9/6.

[24] See the suspension of the Commander of the police station in Krania, because in an incident between pro-Romanian and Greek feeling Koutsovlachs he was prejudiced for the latter (AYE/KY, A/1924, A/5/XI, The Chief of Police to the Ministry for Home Affairs, Athens, December 15, 1924, no 4/11 conf) but also the publicity given by the Greek side to an incident caused by the bishop of Veria Sofronios against a pro-Romanian priest of the same town (GDM, f.108, Lieutenant Veltsidis to the 10th Division of Western Macedonia, Veria, April 6, 1925).

[25] GDM, f.91, Foreign Ministry to the General Command of Thessalonike, Athens, August 25, 1920, no 26705.

[26] GDM, f.71B, Kanavos, General Governor of Macedonia to the Prefector of Pella, Thessalonike, September 4, 1929, no 48709.

[27] GDM, f.91, Kalevras, Lieutenant Commander of Edessa to the General Command of Thessalonike Edessa, January 29, 1915, no 16 conf.

[28] AYE/KY, B/1921, B/59(2), Karamanolis Lieutenant Commander of Goumenitsa to the General Governor of Thessalonike, Goumenitsa, February 25, 1920, no 8 conf.

[29] AYE/KY, B/1914-1918, B/33, 35, 36, 37, Extract from the no 516/March 6, 1918 report of the Lieutenant Commander of Grevena Kotsani attached on a document of the Under-Secretary for the Army to the Foreign Ministry, Athens, March 24, 1918, no 42661.

[30] K.D.Karavidas, "Μελέτη επί της καταστάσεως των επί του Βόρρα (Καιμάκτσαλάν) και των περί την Έδεσσαν πληθυσμών" [Study of the Situation of the Populations of Vorras (Kaimaktsalan) and around Edessa], Πολιτική Επιθεώρησις, 44/10-4-1921, 712-713.

[31] About pastures turning to farm-land and being given to the refugee cultivators see AYE/KY, A/1923, A/5/XI, Telegraph from Lambros to the Foreign Ministry, Thessaloniki, April 13, 1923. AYE/KY, B/1924, B/37(3), Commander of the Sub-Command of Veria to the Police Command of Macedonia, Veria, November 30, 1924, no 827/15 conf. AYE/KY, B/1925, B/37(13)-B/46, Telegraph from Kollas to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, February 24, 1925.

[32] AYE/KY, A/1923, A/5/XI, The Commander of Veria Police to the Ministry for Internal Affairs, Veria, May 29, 1923, no 4/120 conf. AYE/KY, B/1924, B/59 (11), Neophytos, Bishop of Sidirokastro to the Prefector of Serres, Sidirokastro, November 21, 1923, no 434.

[33] AYE/KY, A/9123, A/5/XI, Commitee of the Aromunians of Vodena, Edessa, March 39, 1923 attached on a document of the Prefector of Pella to the Foreign Ministry, no 3142. AYE/KY, A/1923, A/5/XI, The commander of Veria Police to the Ministry for Internal Affairs, Veria, May 29, 1923, no 4/120 conf. See also Capidan, op. cit., p.72.

[34] AYE/KY, B/1920, B/33, 59b, Telegraph from Kanellopoulos to the Foreign Ministry, Constantinople, June 15/28, 1920.

[35] AYE/KY, B/1920, B/33, 59b, Greek Embassy in Bucharest to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, May 3, 1920, no 1196. AYE/KY, B/1920, B/33, B/59b, Greek Embassy in Bucharest to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, December 3/14, 1920, no 3461.

[36] AYE/KY, A/1923, A/5/XI, Telegraph from Lambros to the Foreign Ministry, Thessalonike, April 13, 1923.

[37] AYE/KY, A/1923, A/5/XI, Committee of Aromunians of Vodena, Edessa, March 30, 1923, attached on a document from the Prefector of Pella to the Ministry for Internal Affairs, no 3142. AYE/KY, A/1923, A/5/XI, The Commander of Veria Police to the Ministry for Internal Affairs, Veria, May 29, 1923, no 4/120 conf.

[38] AYE/KY, A/1923, A/5/XI, P.Skassis to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, July 25, 1923, no 964 conf.

[39] AYE/KY, A/1923, A/5/XI, Excerpt from a speech by the ex-minister Gradisteanou at the "Macedonian Educational Society" attached to Kalapothakis 1st Political Department of the Foreign Ministry, Athens, June 25, 1923, no 18567.

[40] AYE/KY, B/1924, B/37(3), Commander of the Police Sub-Command of Veria to the Command of Macedonian Police, Veria, November 30, 1924, no 827/15 conf.

[41] AYE/KY, B/1925, B/37(13)-B/46, Telegraph from Kollas to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, February 24, 1925.

[42] AYE/KY, B/1920, B/33, 59 b, Greek Embassy in Bucharest to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, April 16, 1920, no 916. AYE/KY, A/1923, A/5/XI, P.Skassis to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, May 11, 1923, no 625.

[43] AYE/KY, A/1919, A/5/VIII(3), Dendramis to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, January 30, 1919, no 165.

[44] AYE/KY, A/1919, A/5/VIII(3), Dendramis to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, February 7, 1919, no 228.

[45] AYE/KY, B/1921, B/59(1), Greek Embassy in Bucharest to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, December 22, 1920, no 3593.

[46] AYE/KY, B/1921, B/59(1), Greek Embassy in Bucharest to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, January 5, 1920, no 20. AYE/KY, A/1923, A/5(11), Kalapothakis to 1st Political Department of the Foreign Ministry, Athens, November 30, 1923, no 37702.

[47] AYE/KY, B/1921, B/59(1), Greek Embassy in Bucharest to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, January 5, 1920, no 20. About the situation of the Romanian institutions in yugoslav Macedonia at the beginning of the Interwar period see also Capidan, op. cit., p.71.

[48] AYE/KY, A/1922, A/5/XII(4), Panas to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, 12th March 1921, no 612.

[49] AYE/KY, B/1920, B/33, 59b, Greek Embassy in Bucharest to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, March 12, 1920, no 660.

[50] AYE/KY, B/1921, B/59(2), Report of November 15, 1921, attached to Greek Embassy to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, November 15, 1921, no 2316.

[51] AYE/KY, B/1923, B/37(1), Skassis to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, November 1, 1923, no 1320.

[52] The General Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Romania in a conversation with the Greek Ambassador in 1923 mentioned that he considered all those who occupied themselves with the Koutsovlachs "unworthy of attention, nosy and trying to play a political role" (AYE/KY, A/1923, A/5/XI, Skassis to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, May 11, 1923, no 625).

[53] AYE/KY, B/125, B/37(13)-B/46, Kannavos to the Prefectures of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, April 28, 1925, no 12224.

[54] AYE/KY, G/1926, G/65/a, Newspaper Loupta August 7, 1926, attached to a document from Momferatos to the 3rd Political Department of the Foreign Ministry, Athens, August 21, 1926, no 25830.

[55] AYE/KY, B/1925, B/37(13)-B/46, Fthenakis, Police Commander of Goumenitsa to the Police Command of Thessaloniki, Goumenitsa, April 3, 1925, no 36/7.

[56] AYE/KY, B/1926, B/37, The Director of the Foreign Ministry to the General Command of Thrace, Athens, March 30, 1926, no 3711.

[57] GDM, f.71 B, The Minister for Foreign Affairs to the General Command of Macedonia, Athens, January 18, 1927, no 471. AYE/KY, B/1925, B/37(12), Greek Embassy in Bucharest to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, November 16, 1925, no 854.

[58] AYE/KY, B/1927, B/37, D.Nikolopoulos, director of the Commanding Department of the Foreign Ministry to the 3rd Political Department, Athens, September 28, 1926, no 29756.

[59] GDM, f.71 B, Police Command of Thessaloniki to Supreme Police Command of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, April 20, 1926, no 49/2. GDM, f.71 B, The Minister for Foreign Affairs to General Command of Thessaloniki, Athens, January 18, 1927, no 471. GDM, f.71 B, The Head of the Eparchy Almopias to the Prefector of Edessa, Aridea, August 17, 1929, no 2 conf.

[60] GDM, f.71 B, The Head of the Eparchy Almopias to the Prefector of Edessa, Aridea, August 17, 1929, no 2 conf.

[61] AYE/KY, B/1925, B/37(12), Greek Embassy in Bucharest to the Foreign Ministry, Bucharest, November 16, 1925, no 854.

[62] GDM, f.71 B, Sub-Command of Enotia to General Command of Thessalonike, Aridea, December 14, 1926, no 3036.

[63] GDM, f.71 B, Police Command of Thessalonike to Supreme Police Command of Macedonia, Thessalonike, April 26, 1926, no 24360.

[64] Capidan, op. cit., p.11.

[65] M.Bacou, "Entre acculturation et assimilation: les Aroumains au XXeme siecle", Cahier de Centre d'Etude des Civilisations de l'Europe Centrale et du Sud-Est, 8 (1989), 144.

[66] Capidan, op. cit., p.72-73.

[67] AYE/KY, B/1927, B/37, D.Nikolopoulos, Director of the Commanding Department of the Foreign Ministry to the 3rd Political Department, Athens, August 31, 1926, no 9633.

[68] AYE/KY, B/1927, B/37, A.Kalevras, General Governor of Thessalonike to the Foreign Ministry, Thessalonike, September 27, 1926, no 47541.

[69] AYE/KY, G/1926, G/63/g, Newspaper Zname [Flag] May 10, 1926, attached to Rosettis to the Foreign Ministry, Sofia, May 13, 1926, no 1049 conf.

[70] GDM, f.71A, The Sub-Command of Imathia Police to the Police Command of Thessaloniki, Veria, October 10, 1929, no 16/8/36 secr.

[71] AYE/KY, G/1926, G/63/g, Rosettis to the 3rd Political Department of the Foreign Ministry, Sofia, June 19, 1926, no 2084 conf.

[72] AYE/KY, G/1926, G/65/a, Newspaper Loupta August 7, 1926, attached to a document from Momferatos to the 3rd Political Department of the Foreign Ministry, Athens, August 21, 1926, no 25830. For further information about the settling of the immigrants in Dobrudja see V.Th.Musi, Un deceniu de colonisare in Dobrogea-noua (1925-1935), Bucharest 1935.

[73] M.D.Peyfuss, "Les Aroumains a l'ere des nationalismes balkaniques", Centre d'Etude des Civilisations de l'Europe Centrale et du Sud-Est, Cahier 8, Les Aroumains (1989), 144.

[74] H.Gialouridis, "Τα Βαλκανικά Κράτη Γιουγκοσλαβία, Τουρκία, Ρουμανία, Βουλγαρία: Ιστορία-Πολιτικό Σύστημα-Εξωτερική Πολιτική" [The Balkan States Yougoslavia, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria: History-Political System-Foreign Policy], in H.Gialouridis, St.Alifantis (ed.) Τα Βαλκάνια στο Σταυροδρόμι των Εξελίξεων [Balkans at the Crossroads of Developments], Athens 1988, p.141-143. G.Mourtos, "Ρουμανία" [Romania], in Th.Veremis (edit), Βαλκάνια. Από τον Διπολισμό στη Νέα Εποχή [Balkans. From Bipole Policy to the New Era], Athens 1994, p.641-645.

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