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Old 12-04-2011, 12:47 PM   #661
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The Great Lie – Chapter 7 - Part 1



By Petre Nakovski

Translated and edited by Risto Stefov

rstefov@hotmail.com

December 4, 2011



In a semi-dark, cold, damp underground hangar, covered with three rows of oak logs and stones, resting on a moldy bed of dried ferns were two units of the 103 brigade. The units were formed the day before, immediately after the fighters returned from a battle they had lost.



“If the fog had not lifted Yana, Socrates and Panaiotis would not have been left hanging on the barbed wire,” sobbed Tsilka to Mita in a whisper. “I saw how they threw the crosses with dynamite. But a machine gun burst tied them to the wire and nailed us to the ground. Yana was yelling, begging for help - but who was going to raise their head? It was raining bullets…”



“And Kire smashed as he was, we carried him in his overcoat, still alive… I feel so sorry for him…” cried Mita in a choked voice and then tapping on her chest said, “I feel a lump of pain…right here.”



“Yesterday he sat there, where you are sitting now. Quiet, almost invisible, his shadow on the wall was more visible than he was. He was curled up with his chin resting on his knees, staring into the fire and warming his stiff fingers. Nobody noticed him. When his number was called during roll call he responded in a quiet voice. I think it was tuberculosis or some other ailment that exhausted his voice. He wasted away like the dwindling flame in the fire… The man sat opposite to me and all I could see was his shadow. The flame went out, the place became dark and all I could see was the glow of the coals on his face. Then he completely disappeared, like he went underground and vanished deep into the earth. I felt a cold chill all through my body when I heard someone yell out during the next roll call that he was ‘dead’ … His body was lying over there…



The Commander unbuttoned his handbag, pulled out a notepad, spit on the tip of his dry ink pencil and wrote something. Then he drew a line from one side of the page to the other. The man who was now absent from roll call was also absent from the Commander’s note book, which he put back into his handbag, as if it was nothing, and in a cold tone of voice said: ‘Bury him.’



We did not dig a grave by measured depth. We dug to bury him as soon as possible. Two of us grabbed his legs and one grabbed his underarms and we dropped him in the hole. We only covered his face with a half-burned overcoat which we found thrown in the thorn bushes before we covered him with soil. We did not put a marker on his grave. He, like many others, will now remain unknown… If we are still alive, sometime in the future we will ask to return here, back to this cemetery, to visit our friends, friends we made in the battlefields, trenches and in hospital beds, so that we can have our proper goodbyes…” concluded Mita.



Tsilka then quietly said: “Talk… talk, say something… Talk… there will be less darkness in our souls and thoughts if you talk. Continue talking.”



“The Commissar,” continued Mita “gave a good speech. He spoke well and while I listened I asked myself why not tell the person what they are like and how important they are while they are alive? Does one need to die to be acknowledged by friends and elders to have their good attributes uncovered? Nobody talks about their sins and weaknesses when someone dies... just toss on them two or three handfuls of soil and let the earth cover up their sins. I guess a person needs to be gone in order to be cleansed from all their evils and vices. Only then can they be clean. So I thought to myself - one needs to stay around the grave, it is necessary for them, while a person is being buried, to find out who they were and what they were like. Would it be that difficult, while the person was still alive, to say to them – you are so and so and you are like this and like that…? Not doing this shows us that, while we are still alive, we do not respect one another and we avoid showing compassion. And now, here, sitting beside the fire in this damp underground hangar, it seems to me like he is sitting over there in the corner and, even though he was always cold and the first to sit down and warm up, warmth radiated from him. One time when I told him his hands were the warmest, he smiled with a sad smile, feeling a bit shy and said to me, ‘I am always, I am always cold…’ I took his hands into mine and as much as I could, I warmed them for a long time. For a moment there I thought he was asleep… I placed my lips to his ear and quietly asked, ‘Are you asleep?’ ‘No,’ he said ‘I am looking at the fire…’ ‘And what do you see?’ I asked. ‘I see bread, I see a lot of bread…’ he replied” moaned Mita in a sad, crying voice.



“Calm down, calm down,” begged Tsilka, while covering Mita’s bare shoulder with half of her overcoat. Then while offering to hold Mita’s cold hands Tsilka said, “Only seven remain alive from my platoon… two were wounded, the rest I am sure are stone cold…”



Mita and Tsilka would be together for ten days. Tsilka returned to her platoon from the hospital in Elbasan two weeks ago and Mita returned from the hospital in Korcha eight days ago and was immediately sent to fight a battle. Tsilka has severe pain in her back and right hip. She also has pain from her severed fingers. They told her in the hospital that she would experience pain when the weather was bad. Now she tolerates both the pain and the bad weather.



Mita has a hollowed out cut on her face, covered by a brown scab extending from her left eyebrow to the bottom of her chin. She has reddish spots on both sides of her cut. They are marks from the stitches.



The two women and all the others in the hanger are lying crammed together side by side. Next to Mita is Mare. Mare is shaking and her teeth are chattering. She has been in her unit for only two months now. For a year from last autumn she, with hundreds of older men and women and teenaged girls and boys (those twenty years or over were fighting in the front lines), worked transporting ammunition and food. Every morning they loaded horses and mules in Prespa and then traveled all day and night in a long column to take the cargo to Aliabitsa. Give or take a month or two, Mare was only sixteen years old when the fighting ended in Aliabitsa. She was tall and physically developed, mature for her age, so those in NOF (Peoples’ Liberation Front) and AFZH (Women’s Anti-Fascist Front) decided it was time for her to do something more. They sent her to the Partisan hospital in Grazhdeno where, for three months, she patched up wounds, transported the wounded and learned how to stop the bleeding and change dressings.



With her purse over her shoulder, marked with a red cross, they deployed her in a combat unit. Now Mare, with her teeth chattering, is lying in the hanger leaning on Mita’s shoulder and rubbing her swollen legs and bleeding heels from the chafing of her heavy military boots. Beside Mare is Traianka and beside her are Ilia, Mite, Krste, Kolio, seven young men and three young women from Kostur, Lerin, Epirus and Thessaly Region villages. Among them is Yannakis, a talkative, cheerful thirty year old man, who talks about himself non-stop, repeatedly saying that he is a confident civilian sailor working on a ship in the harbour; a proletariat and a good communist. He wants to talk all the time but he is frequently interrupted by a long, wild, dry and suffocating cough. Accompanying Yannakis’s conversation are incessant drops of muddy water, dripping from the oak logs above and forming little puddles of water on the ground.



Yannakis was the last of the thirty or so dock workers and sailors who were brought into the brigade after the end of the great battles for Gramos. They were specially trained emissaries, hunted down to work in the cheap French and Italian restaurants and hotels in the ports in Odessa, Gdansk, Constanta, Varna, Rieka and Split, promised that they would be sent to the Soviet Union and to the People’s democratic countries for military and naval training in various academies. They were promised that in the new democratic and socialist Greece there would be no place for capitalist captains and admirals and for the children of the rich. Those positions would be given to them, the children of the docks and the poor from the dirty suburbs.



The dock workers and sailors were brought to Prespa through channels unknown to them and after two weeks of military training they were allocated to units in the Macedonian mountains. They brought them to Macedonia and told them that they would be fighting against imperialism and domestic service exploitation. They were also told that they were much too valuable to be fighting in Rumely, the Peloponnesus, Crete and other parts of Greece where the opponent was much too weak and it would be a shame for such capable men to fight a weak opponent. They brought the dock workers and sailors to Macedonia to show the unworthy, local village boys and crybaby “chupres” how to fight. They called the armed Macedonian young women “chupres”. But these young women who were in the first line, especially those brought from Bulkesh, were former sergeants, second lieutenants and first lieutenants of the Royal Army and later they were the so-called “kapetanios” of ELAS (National Liberation Army of Greece). Now the same women, with minor exceptions, are the commanders and commissars of DAG (Democratic Army of Greece) and there is nothing that they don’t know.



So they dragged the sailors and dock workers from unit to unit telling the units “Avrio sto tmima sas tha erthun i naftergates” (Sailors and dock workers will be coming to your units tomorrow).



They made the sailors and dock workers famous before they even entered the war. They turned them into heroes just by going from unit to unit and from command to command. They made a great name for them so that every unit wanted to have them and was waiting for their arrival with great anticipation. They were all waiting to see, meet and admire the seasoned fighters, the brave men and heroes of the working class who had spent such an exhausting time to reach the mountains of Macedonia.



The thirty or so men, who were deployed in Brigade 103, were expected to smell like sea salt and have the aroma of distant lands; but they smelled more like the sea, like salted cod, soap and cheap perfume; the kind found in brothels. They were everything, except fighters. They were out of breath even on the gentlest of marches and would quit half way through a march. They were afraid of the dark and of dark forests. During the short rest periods they rubbed their swollen feet and blew air on their chafed to the bone heels. They also swore profusely and cursed in many languages. They were number one in story telling and boasting. The seas, bars, taverns and brothels were all theirs. The trenches, bunkers and minefields, on the other hand, belonged to the “village children” from Kostur, Lerin, Voden, Kozhani, Grevena, Thessaly, Epirus and other regions... Their mouths were full of flattering words, always trying to get a look and a smile from the ladies, not like the rude, unworthy young villagers whose character was their strength and courage in battle, endurance on marches, the cold, rain and hunger.



The ones who boasted the most about the dock workers and sailors being good fighters were the people in high command, the high commissars. Here is an example of what one of their leaders said about them: “…protopori ston agona, protopori tis ergatikis ke tis proleteriakis epenastasis” (… champions in battle, champions of the working class and of the proletarian revolution), which they have yet to initiate after these “village children” [Macedonians] conquer Anglo-American imperialism and Monarcho-fascism.



That is what the commissars preached because that is what their leader commanded. The dock workers and sailors brought mandolins, guitars and bouzoukis and during short rest periods they played their instruments in the name of the leader. They had orders to play, sing and dance until exhaustion. Everyone was joyfully distracted by the song and dance, leaving no time to think. While attached to the units, these working class champions played their instruments well; it was their duty as fighters.



With the greatest of pleasure they played the rebetiko and sirtaki but most of all they played sad songs about the painful fate of sailors stranded at sea. They played their instruments well and sometimes quietly sang sad songs and cried about their troubles. However this type of behaviour tended to affect the morale of the fighters, so someone from the top ordered the commissars to ban these types of songs and only allowed them to play revolutionary songs about the struggle.



“Ma then ta xerume!” (We don’t know them!) They complained.



A local commissar, a twenty year old man from Prespa who barely knew how to speak Greek, with his bad pronunciation and Prespa accent yelled at them with a threatening tone of voice “keratades ta ta matete” (scoundrels you will learn them). It did not matter to the young commissar where the emphasis fell on the Greek words; he did things his way, the way things were done in Prespa.



They felt insulted. When they heard conversation spoken in the Macedonian language they made remarks to one another: “ma edo then ine Eladha” (this is not Greece). When they listened to Macedonian songs they lightly hit the strings and said: “Omorfa, poli omorpha tragudia” (Beautiful, very beautiful songs).



The unit commissar, trained in Bulkesh and before that a horse groom of some Capetanios, staring at the Prespan sarcastically asked: “Where did those strings come from? Bitola or Skopje?”



The Prespan commissar, looking serious, replied: “From your mother’s fleece…” and after a short pause he added: “understandably, comrade, unit commissar, they came from Russia…”



They played “Eleno mome” (Eleno girl), “Mlada Partizanka” (Young Partisan girl), “Na Vicho planina” (on Vicho mountain), “Vo borba, vo borba” (In battle, in battle) and again began playing those sad sailor songs. They sailed the high seas and met thousands of individuals, learning to make no distinction between people. So they had no problem befriending the young Macedonian men and women and they found it easy to learn a few Macedonian words from them.



They were indifferent until the commissars started pushing them to join the Party. The commissars worked on them day after day and it seemed to the sailors and dock workers that someone was out to darken their serenity, which they had brought with them from the seas and from foreign environments. It seemed to them that someone wanted to stifle their laughter and remove the old smell of the sea and the warmth of the women they knew everywhere. They felt like eagles in a cage.



The barracks where they were kept, to which they were not accustomed, seemed like the cages they had in the ships. They knew how to cook, wash cauldrons, wash and mend clothing, repair clocks, tell all kinds of jokes, sing and swear in many languages but when it came to fighting battles, they lost their perkiness, became sad and their smiles wilted. They looked like abandoned wet cats without their sailor courage. They completely lost themselves. They hated the war.



They appreciated hard work, honesty, laughter, singing and sincerity. They did everything and worked on everything that they had learned on the ships, at the docks and around the world. They came to love the mountain air, the dew on the grass, the mountain flowers, the mountain sunrise and sunset, but still they felt like they were caged; the mountains had shrunk their world. Here they were afraid of the dark forests and craved the wideness of the sea, the city hustle and bustle, the cafés and taverns and the women who would be waiting for them in the various seaports that they visited around the world.



During the cold nights and mornings they missed their rum and whiskey and the salty sea breeze. They spoke of bananas, pineapples, dates, oranges, avocados and about life on boats and at sea; a bitter life full of torture, sorrow and loneliness. Yet they wanted everything from life, a sailor’s kind of life, the kind of life they were used to living in the ports, a life that had nothing to do with war. They did not want to go to battle. They were accustomed to duty, responsibility, diligence and freedom but were not ready to die on the mountains. They knew how much to work and for how much and wanted to have some free time for themselves to visit the big wide world, but without orders and away from the barracks.



Here everything was different. Get up, line up, lie down, forward, march, clean, sing, dance, finish, listen and don’t think. And as the others dreamed of bread, warm clothes and a sound sleep, they dreamed of the sea, ports, docks, boats, bars and brothels. From the great sadness, which for them was life, now only a daydream remained and a sickness for home. They now said, “On the ship there was much to mourn, but here in the mountains there is even more, and that’s what hurts the most, especially during the nights...”



They complained it was cold and uncomfortable during the night and one by one they would abandon their posts. They acted like civilians, the way the sea had taught them, the way they acted in city ports, coffee shops, taverns and in life ashore with all its vices.



In the beginning they went after the young ladies and forced themselves upon them. But when the law caught up with them some were sent before a military court and were executed. Then even the higher ups in the leadership discovered what kind of people these highly praised sailors and dock workers were. To quickly cover up the shame and put it in the background, they pretended that it was necessary for these people to be there because they were educated and experienced cadres.



Finally when they removed them, the talkative non-stop chatterers and flatterers quickly succeeded in pushing their way into the supply corps, kitchens and storerooms. And there, clean and well fed, they stayed in warm rooms with different commissars who smelled more of cologne and less of gunpowder. They trained these highly praised dock workers and sailors in the arts of leading a proletarian dictatorship.



Away from the damp bunkers and underground hangars these people were happy chatting the nights away. They slept like the crickets in the dry grass and woke at daybreak to the song of the nightingales. They forgot their own pains when they saw stretchers with wounded young men passing by but were most hurt when they saw wounded young ladies. They sobbed in secret and cursed loudly. There was no comparison to equal their swearing and cursing in the groups with whom they congregated.


Only Yannakis now remains in the Cheta (Unit). He is quiet, collected, distracted and often withdrawn. There is always a playful, cheerful, gentle, timid and good hearted smile on his face, which is barely visible and fully blooms and warmly spreads along his cheeks at the ends of his mouth, and with his trembling lips hanging down he provokes trust in everyone. But in his eyes there is a sinking and disturbing sadness hinting of pain and sorrow which grows more intense when it is quiet, not so much for himself but he hums for his mother and for the woman he loves. In this ugly and dirty world he has only his mother and it seems to him that he can stop his pain and unrelenting grief with a song. He believes that those now lying beside him in the underground hanger and in other hangers like it love him. But not once have they given him a piece of their bread or allowed him to get closer to the fire, or have substituted for him on guard duty or even carried his backpack full of ammunition. His stories about distant lands and people are filled with gaps and his knowledge of the world is scanty at best.



“Has any one of you seen the sea?” Yannakis went on to say “Ah, the sea, the sea… It is endless and all encompassing and it seems like a person is nothing next to it but it needs people to rule over it. When the sky is covered by clouds it is black, when the sky is clear, it is azure blue, it has the colour of steel, of sapphire. When a cloud appears, it is reflected in the water and its reflection travels in the water. But when winds blow the water gets angry, nasty, unrestrained, enraged, infuriated… Just then you know you are at sea. Exactly then you prove to yourself that you are in a fight with it, that you defy it, you laugh in its face and you hold it in the grip of its own will. Oh, the sea, the sea, it knows how to be wild, how to roar like a wounded beast and how to rumble, and when it slowly subsides, it becomes tame and you think it is whispering to you. But then when the wind starts to blow again, it knows how to whip a wave clear and blue, silver, white like wool, roaring and thundering, long and tall… Ah, the sea, the sea… When the wind subsides the waves calm down, they pile up, roll out and burn one another out, calmly unwinding on the shore. The froth returns to the bosom of the wave and calmly rolls to shore, telling something untold, whispering and rustling softly…”



Yannakis paused for a moment and while holding his chest with his hands, coughed for a long time. He wiped the sweat from his temple. Someone came out from the hanger and did not lower the blanket acting as a door. Through the narrow opening a foggy arch of the moon could be seen in the distance. Far away, a red rocket flared up in the sky and as its brightness slowly diminished, the darkness returned. But those inside could only see the flame from the fireplace flare up and diminish again, creating shadows on the wall. Yannakis leaned on the damp wall, took a deep breath and continued:



“At night when the sky is clear, the sea is embroidered with pearls created by the reflection of the stars. They move around, pile up, flash and disappear but only for a moment before they return in the calm and after that they quiver in the gentle sea waves… If you look up you will see the stars in the sky, if you look down you will see the stars so close you can catch them with your hand… Above there are stars, below there are stars and you stand between them… They twinkle and quiver. Sometimes one comes loose and as you look at it in the water it seems to be coming out of the sea and flying towards the sky… The fishing boat, floating, cuts the sky, cuts the stars, and cuts the full moon in half. When gilded by the moon if you touch the water it will look like it is kissing your hand. Listen… someone is playing the mandolin on the shore…”



Yannakis paused again for a long and enduring cough. This time he lost his voice. In the dark he could not see the staring eyes of his comrades gazing at him. He spit out what he had coughed up and reached for his mandolin, leaning on the wall beside his automatic machine gun. He lightly and gently placed it in his arms and braced it on his left knee. His trembling fingers caressingly stroked the strings, gently pushing on them. Silence filled the hanger as Yannakis played a sad song without words, touching even the strongest of hearts, in some softly and deeply squeezing out a sigh and in others squeezing tears of pain down their cheeks and bitterness, sadness and grief…



Yannakis again gently squeezed the strings and paused. The sound of the mandolin lingered on in the hanger. Someone sighed aloud, and leaned their head on his shoulder. It was a woman’s touch. He felt something warm drip on his hand and slowly cool down. He raised his right hand and ran his fingers through the mandolin strings. Stretching and with a torn up long vocal tremble, which for a moment broke up and died out, he shook and roared; his roar slowly diminishing out there somewhere. It seemed to him that everyone had felt the storm in the sea, which they had never seen, and the storm in their own souls… He paused for a moment and when he began to play again his voice choked. His mandolin suddenly went quiet, as if the strings were cut with a sharp knife and in place of melody Yannakis’s voice came back on:



“When you stroll along the shore, the sand rustles under your feet, little well-washed white stones crackle and the water is peaceful; so peaceful and tame that it makes you want to caress it… And when you do touch it, it feels like a hand gently caresses you back… Yes…” said Yannakis quietly.



His voice was now completely gone, there was only silence…
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Old 12-08-2011, 09:00 AM   #662
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Default Challenging Greek History-By-Slogans by Victor Bivell

OPENING SPEECH BY VICTOR BIVELL AT THE BOOK LAUNCH PROMOTION ON FRIDAY 2ND DECEMBER 2011 AT The Macedonian Cultural and Education Centre “Ilinden”


Challenging Greek History-By-Slogans

By Victor Bivell

Thank you Dushan and the Australian Macedonian Literary Association. I'm very happy to launch these two short and very interesting books - The Little Book of Big Greek Lies by Risto Stefov in Canada, and Ancient Greek and Other Ancient Testimonies About the Unique Ethnic Distinctness of the Ancient Macedonians by Aleksandar Donski in Macedonia.

Let me start with the obvious - that Greek Government lies are every topical at present. They are on the front pages of the newspapers and often the lead stories on the nightly TV news. They've been there for a couple of years, and that is where they are likely to stay for a few more years while the Eurozone debt crisis gets sorted, and the Greek economy continues in recession.

We've all seen the TV news with the dramatic demonstrations and riots in Athens and outside the Greek parliament. The reporters tell us the Greek people are calling their own government "Liars" and "Thieves".

I saw one photograph of a demonstrator with a sign in English that said exactly those words - "Liars & Thieves", and I thought: that guy could be a Macedonian. Because the Macedonians have been calling the Greek Government liars and thieves for over a hundred years. The Greek Government lied about Macedonia when it was under the Turks, saying there no Macedonians there, that they were Greeks. Then it stole half of Macedonia in 1912-13 when it sent in the Greek army, and it has been lying about Macedonia ever since.

So I look at the photos, and the TV clips, and I think perhaps the whole crowd could be Macedonian, because the Greek people have woken up to their own government and now agree with the Macedonians. Yes, we agree on something. The Greek Government has managed to do the impossible and unite Greeks and Macedonians in the same view. Miracles can happen, so let's have hope that the Greek people might keep learning the truth.

Meanwhile, it is not only the Greek people who have had their eyes opened. The rest of Europe is also amazed at the whopping great lies the Greek Government told them so that Greece could join the Euro. If you measure the lies in money, these are probably some of the biggest lies in history. Billions of Euros worth.

In 2010 a report by the European Commission accused Greece of "widespread misreporting of deficit and debt data" and "severe irregularities... including submission of incorrect data, and non-respect of accounting rules".

London's Financial Times newspaper put it less diplomatically, and accused Greece of "falsifying data" and that it "deliberately misreported" financial data. In another article the European economist Edin Mujagic called Greece a liar three times, and he also used the words "untrustworthy", "cheating", ‘manipulate", blackmail, and "massive squandering".

I'm pretty sure Dr Mujagic doesn't come from Macedonia, but he sounds like a Macedonian too.

If we look at the big picture we see that for over a hundred years the Macedonians have been saying that Greek governments have been lying about Macedonia, politics, history, human rights, and the ethnic structure of Greek society. Now the Greek people, the Europeans and the rest of the world know that Greek governments have been lying about finance and money for over 10 years.

To better connect these two sets of lies is the challenge for Macedonian activists.

That is actually not an easy thing to do. I tried two years ago when the Greek lies to enter the Eurozone first became known. But the media is much more interested in Greek lies about money than it is in Greek lies about human rights or history.

But the connection needs to be made, and it is still early days. We need the Greek people, Europeans and the rest of the world to better understand what has really been happening in Greece over the past 100 years. We need the world to better understand how dishonestly Greek governments have been treating their own people - Greeks as well as the Macedonians and other minorities - and how dishonestly Greek governments have been treating the Republic of Macedonia.

So the arrival of these two books - The Little Book of Big Greek Lies, and Ancient Testimonies about the Ancient Macedonians, if I can call it that, is very timely.

Both books tackle Greek government propaganda that is both persistent and shameless. They do this with a huge amount of very credible evidence that contradicts the Greek government's immovable position on what it euphemistically calls ‘national issues'. The Greek government and its Greek academic and Greek media cheer squad shamelessly ignore this evidence, but others will not.

As a general rule, the world outside Greece will always look at all the points of view available and make up its own mind. But as Macedonians, we have to somehow make these people interested in our points of view, in our issues, so having these books in English is a very good start.

The Little Book of Big Greek Lies is a good introduction for the general reader. It is easy to read and presents 20 of the Greek government's most blatant propaganda lines.

The government calls these ‘national issues' but really they are ‘national myths' that have the status of ‘official national myths'. They are so official that to challenge them is to risk severe criticism from other Greeks. It can risk fear and an attack of "Cambridge Courage", as happened when Cambridge University backed out of publishing the book Fields of Wheat, Hills of Blood by Greek American academic Anastasia Karakasidou. And it can risk death threats, as happened to Ms Karakasidou when Chicago University found the courage that Cambridge University did not and published her book.

Mr Stefov gives us some insight into the power of these official ‘myths' in his introduction. The series of articles from which the book grew were meant to be humorous. He says "The real surprise however was the vast amount of attention the articles received, not just from Macedonians, but also from Greeks who saw the articles not as humorous but as a ‘horrible thing to do", not because they were not true but because they were "airing Greek dirty linen" in public. This series of articles has generated more feedback than all my articles put together. I received emails with criticism that ranged from being called ‘a dirty liar" to being threatened with bodily harm."

So let's look at some of these propaganda lines, these slogans, or ‘national issues' as the Greek government prefers to call them.

They cover history - "The Ancient Macedonians were Greek", "Philip II United The Greeks", "4,000 Years of Greek Civilization", and "Macedonia Was Liberated in 1912, 1913".

They cover who the Greeks think they are - "Modern Greeks are Direct Descendants of the Ancient Greeks", "Greece is an Ethnically Homogenous Nation", "Greece is a Democratic State", and "Greeks are a Superior Race".

They cover what Greeks think they contributed to the world - "The Koine Language is Greek", "The Ancient ‘Greek Gods' Were Greek", and "Macedonian Monks Kiril and Metodi Were Greek".

And of course, they know better than we do who we are, so some of the issues are about the Macedonians - "There is No Such Thing as a Macedonian", "Tito Created the Macedonian Nation", "No Macedonians, Turks, Albanians or Vlachs Live in Greece Today", "The Macedonian Language Does Not Exist", "Macedonians Are Slavs", and "No Macedonians Exist in Macedonia".

Greek governments have been carrying on a propaganda war for a very long time and every Greek and every Macedonian has heard these lines many times over.

Mr Stefov's book neatly summarizes them for all to see, discuss and debate, and refute or extend.

Some of the slogans are quite impertinent and offensive, telling Macedonians who they are and continuing to insist on it even when the Macedonians disagree, or are deeply offended.

That so many Greeks are sensitive about these propaganda lines is really not surprising. They too have had these lines repeated to them since their childhood and the lines go to the heart of what they have been told they are as a people, what they have been told about their history, what they have been told about their ethnic origins, and what they have been told about their place in the world.

If Greece were a place of intellectual freedom, where opposing views could be freely put forward and debated, analyzing these slogans would be part of normal public discourse.

But Greece is not a place of intellectual freedom. Take the slogan "No Macedonians, Turks, Albanians or Vlachs Live in Greece Today". This is the official Greek government line. To say otherwise is to risk threats and being called a ‘traitor", as happened with Greek human rights campaigner Panayote Dimitras.

A lovely feature about Big Greek Lies is that it concludes with the essay The Apology of an Anti Hellene by modern Greek writer Nikos Dimou. This is an essay that everyone should read. Mr Dimou has run into big trouble with his fellow Greeks for speaking his mind, first in 1975 when he wrote an essay that got him labeled "Dimou the anti-Hellene", and then big time in the 1990s when he says, "I rebelled against the eruption of Greek nationalism. The daily newspaper Kathimerini promptly expelled me from its ranks." Mr Dimou has lived outside Greece for many years.

All countries have national myths, ‘favoured stories', a way they prefer to see themselves, but in countries with intellectual freedom these ideas are open to discussion and debate. For example, Australians think of themselves as a "fair" people, that we treat people equally, but everyone is free to challenge that view and to give examples of where we are not fair. This is something we all love about Australia.

Likewise Macedonia. Macedonians have views about who we are, and these are sometimes seen as contradictory. But the important point is that Macedonians are free to debate the issues.

That is why I am proud to be a Macedonian in a way that I would not be proud to be a Greek. Let's take the extremely controversial example of whether the Macedonians and the Greeks are descended or ethnically related to their ancient Macedonian and ancient Greek counterparts.

The Greek view is "Modern Greeks are Direct Descendants of the Ancient Greeks". This is not a topic for public debate. To challenge that view is to risk being called unGreek, or worse, if there is such a thing.

In Macedonia, some people believe the Macedonians are direct descendants of the ancient Macedonians, some believe they are descendants from slavic invaders, and some believe they are a mixture of ancient Macedonians, slavic invaders and other peoples. Yes, the topic can generate extreme heat and it can ruin friendships.

But for me, the important part is that Macedonians are free to discuss and debate it and to freely present all available evidence. That is why at an intellectual level I am proud to be Macedonian, even though my family comes from what is now Greece.

Mr Stefov gives the general reader plenty to discuss and debate. For each propaganda line he succinctly summarizes the Greek position and then gives some of the key evidence and arguments as to why he says the claims are untrue.

We get a very nice feel for this style with the opening paragraph to Big Greek Lie No 1, that “Modern Greeks are Direct Descendants of the Ancient Greeks" subtitled "The greatest victims of Greek lies are the Greek themselves”.

“How can a region in the Balkans where modern Greece is located today, which has been open to a multitude of invasions, conquests and settlements, remain homogenous and untouched for two thousand seven hundred years? Ironically, as the Greeks claim, how can modern Macedonia, a region neighbouring modern Greece, be so heterogenous that it has completely lost its original identity?”

That's a good question, and the author then discusses some of the key developments that have formed the modern Greek people, and concludes with an excellent quote from professor Donald Nicol “The ancient Greeks were after all, of very mixed ancestry; and there can be no doubt that the Byzantine Greeks, both before and after the Slav occupation, were even more heterogeneous.”

This is the book's style with all 20 Big Lies. It does not try to do too much or labor the point, but is a very good introduction to each slogan.

Each ‘Big Lie' could be developed into a full book, and that is what Aleksandar Donski has done with his book, which focuses on the slogan "The Ancient Macedonians were Greek".

The world hears this line over and over, and in his introduction Mr Donski explains why. “It is of great importance to Greece to prove that the name Macedonia and the ancient Macedonians were “Greek”, which means that today's Macedonians “have no historical right” to use these “Greek names”.”

This Greek logic can also be applied to the Greeks. If the modern Greeks are not direct descendants of the ancient Greeks, as Mr Stefov and many others argue, then they have no more right to the heritage of the ancient Greeks than anyone else. That is why they keep asserting they are direct descendants.

But the Greek position on the ancient Macedonians also needs to be challenged head on, and Mr Donski's approach is to quote the ancients themselves, particularly the ancient Greeks. The 212 page book is a deep mine of quotes from some of the ancient world's most famous writers and leaders, all of them saying or implying that the Macedonians and the Greeks were ethnically separate people and nations.

Among the more than 60 ancients he quotes are the Macedonian kings Alexander the Great, Philip II and Philip V; leading Greeks Aecshines, Appian, Arrian, Demosthenes, Herodotus, Homer, Isocrates, Pausanias, Plutarch, Polybius, Praxagoras, Theopompus, and Thucydides; leading Romans Cicero, Diodorus Siculus, Flamininus, Justin, Livy, Quintus Curtius Rufus, Seneca, and Tacitus.

Other historical figures quoted are Saint Paul, Saint Augustine, Agrippa, Strabo, Clement of Alexandria, Josephus Flavius, and Tatian the Assyrian.

These are some of the most renowned figures in the ancient world, and all of them had something to say about the Macedonians and how they were different from the Greeks. Some examples:

Donski writes: "Justin clearly separated the Macedonians from the Greeks when he writes about the preparations of the Macedonian army before the battle of Issus, too. It is well known that Alexander at the time divided his troops by nationality. He talked about all the different reasons of the importance of this battle to all the troops, of all nationalities, in order to lift their spirits. Here we see that he was a great psychologist as well. We read:

"He excited the Illyrians and Thracians by describing the enemy's wealth and treasures, and the Greeks by putting them in mind of their wars of old, and their deadly hatred towards the Persians. He reminded the Macedonians at one time of their conquests in Europe, and at another of their desire to subdue Asia, boasting that no troops in the world had been found a match for them, and assuring them that this battle would put an end to their labours and crown their glory."

Donski comments: "We can see that all four peoples, the main core of the Macedonian army, are separately mentioned, those being Illyrians, Thracians, Greeks and Macedonians."

Of course there were many more Greeks against Alexander than with him in Asia, including at the Battle of Issus, where Alexander and the Greeks had a major confrontation. Donski quotes Arrian:

"But as soon as Darius was certified of Alexander's approach for battle, he conveyed about 30,000 of his cavalry and with them 20,000 of his light-armed infantry across the river Pinarus, in order that he might be able to draw up the rest of his forces with ease. Of the heavy armed infantry, he placed first the 30,000 Greek mercenaries to oppose the phalanx of the Macedonians."

Donski says "Here we see that the number of Greeks who fought in the Persian army against Alexander was at least 30,000, like Alexander presumed. We can see that these Greek units were sent to fight against the strongest part of the Macedonian army - the Macedonian phalanx.

"Arrian says that this battle had the biggest clash between the Greeks and Macedonians, and the main reason was the great hatred between these two peoples. Arrian writes:

"This was a violent struggle. Darius' Greeks fought to thrust the Macedonian back into the water and save the day for their left wing, already in retreat, while the Macedonians, in their turn, with Alexander's triumph plain before their eyes, were determined to equal his success... The fight was further embittered by the old racial rivalry of Greek and Macedonian."

Donski comments "The ancient Greek historian Arrian, using data and information from the Macedonian historians Ptolemy and Aristobulus, clearly wrote that "old racial rivalry" existed between the Macedonians and the Greeks. This is one of the highest levels of impatience and hatred that can exist between two nations. So who, after this statement, can claim that the Macedonians and the Greeks were the "same nation"? What kind of members of the same nation have "racial rivalry" i.e. "racial hatred" between each other?"

The Roman philosopher and senator Cicero spent a year in Macedonia. Donski writes: "In one of his works called "In Pisonem" (written around 55 BC and dedicated to his friend Piso), Cicero clearly mentions the borders on that day's Greek countries. Here we read: "...all Achaia, and Thessaly, and Athens, in short the whole of Greece, was made over to you."

"We can practically see that for Cicero it was very clear that Greece was made of Achaia, a territory around Athens and Thessaly. Macedonia isn't even mentioned as a "Greek country" at all."

For a Jewish perspective, the book quotes the historian Josephus Flavius, who wrote about the Seleucid Macedonians who ruled the Holy Land.

Writing about the death of the leader, Judas Maccabee, Flavius says he "left behind him a glorious reputation and memorial, by gaining freedom for his nation, and delivering them from slavery under the Macedonians."

On the same subject: "The nation of the Jews recovered their freedom when they had been brought into slavery by the Macedonians."

He also said the Jews were "under the government of the Macedonians", that "Onias saw that Judea was oppressed by the Macedonians and their kings", and that Simon Maccabee "freed the Jews from the dominion of the Macedonians, after one hundred and seventy years of empire".

Donski comments: "All of this is extraordinary important information especially because in a lot of world encyclopedias and other works it is untruthfully written that the Seleucids supposedly spread "Greek culture and language" in their state, that they built "Greek cities" etc... we can see from the testimonies himself Flavius made that the Jews were completely aware that they were under Macedonian (and not Greek) slavery."

Flavius himself clearly distinguishes between Greeks and Macedonians. Donski says: "For example, while writing about the Jewish migration in the Asia Minor cities by the Macedonian ruler Seleucus Nicator, Flavius writes: "The Jews also obtained honours from the kings of Asia when they became their auxiliaries; for Seleucus Nicator made them citizens in those cities which he built in Asia, and in the lower Syria, and in the metropolis itself, Antioch; and gave them privileges equal to those of the Macedonians and the Greeks, who were the inhabitants..."

The book has many more equally interesting quotes, but let me finish with this one from Tatian the Assyrian as this also ties back to the Stefov book and the many things in civilization that Greeks claim are theirs. Tatian wrote Tatian's Address to the Greeks, where, says Donski, he criticizes ancient Greek authors for claiming for Greeks what they do not deserve, and where he lists parts of science and art which the Greeks took from other nations and later proclaimed as their own.

Tatian wrote "The Greeks claim, without reason, the invention of the arts. Be not, O Greeks, so very hostilely disposed towards the Barbarians, nor look with ill will on their opinions. For which of your institutions has not been derived from the Barbarians? The most eminent of the Telmessians invented the art of divining by dreams; the Carians, that of prognosticating by the stars; the Phrygians and the most ancient Isaurians, augery by the flight of birds; the Cyprians, the art of inspecting victims. To the Babylonians you owe astronomy; to the Persians, magic; to the Egyptians, geometry; to the Phoenicians, instruction by alphabetic writing. Cease, then, to miscall these imitations inventions of your own. Orpheus, again, taught you poetry and song; from him, too, you learned the mysteries. The Tuscans taught you the plastic art; from the annals of the Egyptians you learned to write history; you acquired the art of playing the flute from Marsyas and Olympus - these two rustic Phrygians constructed the harmony of the shepherd's pipe. The Tyrrhenians invented the trumpet; the Cyclopes, the smith's art; and a woman who was formerly a queen of the Persians, as Hellanicus tells us, the method of joining together epistolary tablets: her name was Atossa. Wherefore lay aside this conceit, and be not ever boasting of your elegance of diction; for, while you applaud yourselves, your own people will of course side with you. But it becomes a man of sense to wait for the testimony of others, and it becomes men to be of one accord also in the pronunciation of their language. But, as matters stand, to you alone it has happened not to speak alike even in common discourse; for the way of speaking among the Dorians is not the same as that of the inhabitants of Attica, nor do the Aeolians speak like the Ionians. And, since such a discrepancy exists where it ought not to be, I am at a loss whom to call Greek. And, what is strangest of all, you hold in honour expressions not of native growth, and by the admixture of barbaric words have made your language a medley. On this account we have renounced your wisdom, though I was once a great proficient in it."

Donski comments: "Many of these notes made by Tatian the Assyrian are really significant for some of today's Greeks as well. As for the subject we're covering, we can clearly see that while mentioning the Greek dialects, this early Christian writer does not mention the Macedonian language as a "Greek dialect"."

So to sum up, we have two excellent books that can help cut through the reams of Greek government propaganda that Macedonians and the world have suffered for too long.

Technically, the books are not perfect as they both have a number of small typos and would have benefited from a final sub-edit by a native English speaker. But these are not enough to seriously annoy the average reader.

The quality of the content comes through loud and clear. So buy the books and enjoy them. Get some extras for your interested friends, your library and your local politicians.

With the subject of Greek government lies so topical, these books are a good way to show that lies about big money are just the start of what is in the Greek government's cupboard. Help open the closet. Greece needs less history by fanatical assertion, less history by slogan, and more history by public debate. Let's help good Greeks to be free to discuss these issues without fear of self imposed exile, being called a traitor, or death threats. Open debate in Greece is the way forward for Greece and Macedonia.

Both books can be ordered from Dushan Ristevski at the Australian Macedonian Literary Association at dushan@macedon.com

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Old 12-08-2011, 09:02 AM   #663
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I attend on the opening night of the book launch and was able to purchase several books including the Donski new book
”Ancient greek and Other Ancient Testimonies about the Unique Ethnic Distinctiveness of the Ancient Macedonians”
Just started reading it, so hopefully will scan a few pages soon and post here on MTO..

The only disappointment I had on the night was the turn out.. there wouldn’t of been more than 40 guests..and very few of our younger generation were there..
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Old 12-10-2011, 05:57 AM   #664
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LWR maybe you can get the details where the books can be purchased,they make great value to any home library.
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Old 12-10-2011, 12:05 PM   #665
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The Great Lie – Chapter 7 - Part 2



By Petre Nakovski

Translated and edited by Risto Stefov

rstefov@hotmail.com

December 11, 2011



The Unit commissar lifted the patched up blanket that hung over the entrance of the underground hanger and with his shining, battery powered flashlight broke the tranquility. From his officer’s case he pulled out his thick notebook, turned over some pages and said:


“There are some weaknesses noted by the Brigade Command, especially when we march as a column. Of course there are many more marches that await us, be it day or night, which is why Command has developed certain rules. But so that I don’t take too much time, it is better that I read them to you and then my courier will give each rank a page. You and your superior can then study and memorize them. Listen carefully.”



While shining on his papers with his battery powered flashlight, the Unit Commissar began to read:



“If every fighter assists in the run of the march, then the march will not be as difficult and we will achieve our objectives. Second, when you are traveling in a column, you do not need to leave empty space, because the column opens and breaks up. Third, if it is very dark and you can’t see in front of you, then either place a white piece of cloth on the person’s back in front of you or hang on to their overcoat. Fourth, do not talk or even whisper during the march, do not smoke and do not use your flashlight because you could cause a lot of damage. Fifth, do not exit the column without permission from your superior or from the political commissar, do not go for a drink of water, to the toilet or stop for a short rest, because you will be breaking up the column and exposing yourself and the rest of the fighters to danger. Sixth, load your draft animals well. Before pulling out with the column make sure the load sits well on the saddle. If the load shifts or falls you will have difficulty and you and your pack animal will get tired and you will break the column, so do everything possible to secure it before leaving. Seven, do not allow your pack animal to leave the column for a drink of water. If a pack animal stumbles and its load falls, then immediately take it to the side, so that the rest of the column can pass. Then load up again and enter the column. Make sure that your pack animal walks at the same speed as the rest of the column. Eight, help, encourage and show solidarity for those getting tired during the march and do everything possible to make sure the march does not weaken. Nine, your hands must be free at all times during the march so that you can use a weapon. Ten, before pulling out make sure your boot laces are nice and tight and your provisions are packed well in your backpack. This way your hands will always be free and you can walk easier. Eleven, when you run into an obstacle on the road do not stop to look at it or fix it. Go by it without hesitation so that the column is not slowed down. Twelve, if during the march you hear gunfire, continue marching without fear. The column command has taken all possible measures. But if you receive orders from command to respond to the gunfire, then do so quickly and decisively.



Fighters and comrades, this is all I wanted to tell you today.” The Commissar then put his notebook back in his case and left the hanger with the greeting, “All to arms - everything for victory.”



The hanger was silent. Mita was first to break the long, deep, difficult and wicked silence:



“It seems to me that, from the political speech sung to us, there must be something cooking… That’s what I think. What day is it today?”



“December 16th. We are still in 1948 and eight days before Christmas,” replied Kolio.



Mita put on her overcoat and, leaning forward to avoid hitting her head on the low ceiling of the hanger, went out. She covered her face with her hand. The brightness of the snow caused her half opened eyes to tear. The entire region, as far as the eye could see, was covered in snow. She took a few steps out and noticed the snow was knee deep.



“Come out! Get into formation!” a firm voice was heard outside of the hangers and bunkers issuing a short but sharp order.



“Get into formation!” ordered the unit commanders.



“Get into formation!” the order echoed everywhere.



Mita, taking two steps back, returned to the hanger and yelled out, “Wake up! Did you not hear?!”



“What is it?” someone asked, but before Mita had a chance to reply the Cheta Commander abruptly flung the blanket substituting for a door off the hanger and yelled out: “Come out and get into formation!”



There was a line up which, including the commander, numbered eighteen people of whom seven were young women. They left for the flat place on the hillside where the Cheti were gathering. Tsilka suddenly stopped, turned around and ran back into the hanger. She picked up a dirty blanket that had been thrown out, rolled it up into a roll and tossed it over her shoulder.



“What are you doing with that rag?” asked Mita.



“Be quiet! It will be needed…” replied Tsilka.



“Didn’t I tell you, from the political song and dance we received earlier, that something big was cooking?” retorted Mita.



“Stop! Don’t talk in formation!” the sergeant yelled.



Everyone took their place in the lines and lined up in Cheti formation. The battalion was standing in wait. A cold, harsh wind blew, turning faces red, biting ears, making eyes cry frozen tears and freezing toes and feet.



“Comrades, fighters! Greetings! At ease! Stand in a semi circle.” ordered the Brigade commander. “Today we are going on a long march. The path we take will be difficult, but you battle hardened fighters are used to long marches, for you the obstacles will not be insurmountable. It will be hard. The march will last a long time, you will pass over difficult terrain and you will endure bad weather but all this will be worth it after our military victory – there will be great joy! Onward to new victories!” the Brigade Commander concluded.



During a secret meeting the Cheta Commanders were briefed and told that their task would be to battle their way into and take a city, but they were not told where the road would lead them. Their subordinates were told to order everyone to pack food for three days and take as much ammunition as possible.



While everyone worked hard preparing for the great march under the veil of fog that had engulfed the land during the day, no one took notice of the day passing. Then just before darkness had almost covered the brooks and hills of the land, the column was ready to move. People with loaded horses and mules were set in motion. The fine snow that began to fall did not hinder the march. The fighters and their pack animals were well rested and easily kept up the pace even in the path of the deep snow that had covered the terrain the previous day. Without difficulty and in great silence they crossed the front lines between the hills of Mounts Kula and Plati, they took the path west of Vicho and in the deep darkness of early dawn they entered the villages Lagen, Dolno and Gorno Kotori and disappeared into the houses. And while they recovered from fatigue and dried their clothing in the fireplaces, vigilant guards kept a watchful eye on all approaches, especially on those leading to and from Lerin. In the morning, to avoid being attacked from the sky by airplanes, they left the houses early and while laying down in the snow hidden in the nearest groves, they received orders to not move, not light fires and to not speak loudly. The day slowly passed in complete silence under the low overhanging clouds.



All Unit Chiefs were invited to gather at the house where the Brigade Commander was lodging. Standing in front of an operational map with his pointer pointing at a line on the map, the Brigade Commander outlined the road that would fulfill their objective, which the brigade would travel over the course of the night.



“In complete silence,” the Brigade Commander continued, “the units, I emphasize in the greatest of silence and under all precautions, measures of care and under great alert, must travel across the Lerin Plains and take their positions in the tree covered hills near the villages Krushoradi and Tsetina by early dawn. The march is about forty kilometers long and we will have to travel on a rugged and hilly road under treacherous conditions. The Command’s evaluation of yesterday’s march was excellent; we have exemplary fighters with great physical endurance. The Unit Commanders showed exemplary conduct and I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of Brigade Command to express my gratitude. Now go back to your units and prepare your fighters for departure. The hour of departure will be communicated to you by a courier.” concluded the Brigade Commander.



None of the Unit Chiefs, during the meeting, had asked what the purpose of the march was.


Tsilka, lying down near Mita and Yannakis quietly asked: “What day is it today?”



“December 18th. And why do you want to know? So we don’t get lost in time? Did you know that the Commander has been gone for a long time? I heard that all the Unit Chiefs were called in by the Brigade Commander.” replied Mita quietly.



“No one said anything about where we are going and why. Before they used to tell us, right?” asked Tsilka quietly.



“They used to, but now they say nothing. The Major said we are going on a long march and that was that.” whispered Mita.



“No, no one said anything. Did you ever hear of anyone coming to tell us? And what, that we are walking into a trap?” replied Tsilka while their conversation was abruptly interrupted by the voice of the Cheta Commander ordering “Get into formation!”



The Commander did his inspection, praising some while reprimanding others and, as he stood in front of the formation, asked: “Is anyone here sick?”



There was silence in the formation. He continued.



“After a while we will continue with the march ordered by General Headquarters. The Brigade Command wants us to resume the march with the same persistence, discipline and mutual assistance we demonstrated during last night’s march for which we were all well praised and…” the Commander was interrupted and did not finish his sentence. It was the voice of the neighbouring Cheta Commander who yelled out:



“Attention! Attention! To the left…” A wave of strong and noisy wind could be heard. The march had begun. With weapons on ready, the forward guard walked in front of the column, five men in total, stepping onto the deep snow, making a path. Behind them was a chain of armed men with horses and mules loaded with ammunition. In the middle marched Mita, behind her Yannakis and behind him Tsilka, Traianka, Mite, Krste, Ilia, Kole and Mare weighed down by her backpack and bag with the Red Cross symbol on it. The falling snow that started out as granules turned to sleet and was now blowing into their eyes and faces. There was only darkness in front of them. The narrow winding path was covered in deep snow and was obstructed from view. Mita was hanging on to the tail of the horse walking in front of her when the animal slipped down the hill. Mita managed to hold her step firmly. Yannakis, hanging on to Mita’s belt, let out a long sigh as he began to lose his step. Tsilka, holding on to him, gave him her support and encouraged him to untangle his leg and move on. She then slowed down to catch her breath.



In the dead of night they managed to cross treacherous brooks, travel uphill and descend on flat ground. They traveled the mountain where strong winds blew in waves and descended upon the flat fields, carrying with them rings of snow. They bore the wild winds that beat the flatlands with snow, depositing it in one place, brushing it off, waving it around, blowing it into their eyes and faces and then transferring it somewhere else. They marched with frozen cheeks, cold foreheads and frost bitten ears.



With his stiff, frozen fingers Yannakis rubbed his ears, cheeks and forehead and cleaned the snow off his shoulders. His pace slackened and he was slowing down. Bent over and blue from the cold, he pushed on, finding it difficult to move his frozen feet and barely able to hold his jaw from chattering. He felt that the cold was getting under his skin and numbing all his muscles. He was exhausted, his body was trembling. He could barely stand the strong, icy mountain wind and the drifts of snow blowing in his face and eyes over and over again, beating him like a whip, touching every naked spot, stretching it out and stiffening it.



The column was slowing down. The Chiefs gave much encouragement, helped out the weak by supporting them by their shoulders and begging them to hold on with promises that they would soon arrive at their destination.



“Rest! Fifteen minutes rest!” a voice was heard calling out. The entire column fell to the ground, covering the snow. The storm was howling. In the short and sudden bursts of wind voices were lost and shouting sounded like whispering. The whistling wind came down in waves losing its intensity as it dissipated down in the fields, but only for a moment, until new and louder waves arrived bringing with them more snow, waving it around and piling it up in drifts.



Tsilka took the blanket off her shoulder and spread it in front of her.



“The knife, give me your knife,” she said to Kolio. “Mita, you hold here and pull.”



With the sharp knife Tsilka cut the blanket into long strips and said: “Wrap your heads, legs, neck, face…”



Mita took a strip and wrapped it around her neck the said: “Now I know why you carried this dirty blanket.”



A voice called out, “Depart!” but the order was barely audible.



Lazily the column straightened and began the steep uphill climb. The fighters were slipping and falling over one another.



“Belts!” called out the Unit Commander. He then undid his own military belt, stood up in front of the column and handed one end to the fighter closest to him. Those leading horses and mules tightened the reins on their pack animal and with their entire might pulled on the animals to hold them steady.



They arrived at dawn and held their position in the forested hills outside the village Tsetina. They were exhausted from the long march. Wet to the bone they looked for a place to sit in the snow. The chiefs would not allow them to lie down because if they did in their wet condition in the cold they would freeze. They gathered together in groups, encircled tree trunks and huddled together tightly blowing warm breath on each other’s necks, backs and arms. They slept standing on their feet and that is how they spent the day in this dense forest until dusk.



“Depart!” The order resonated strongly in the forest, echoing against the tree trunks and slowly diminished. The fighters uncoiled themselves from the tree trunks and began to form the column. They departed at dusk and marched all night, whipped by the snow storm and the vicious wind.



At the break of dawn on the fourth day of their march they finally arrived at the village Krontselevo.



Mita, Tsilka, Ilia, Traianka and Kolie huddled together in a group breathing in each others faces and in tears whispered: “We are alive, we are alive…”



Mita suddenly pulled away and yelled in Greek: “Yannakis! Yannakis! Come to us!”



“Don’t yell…” whispered Mare with her eyes pointing towards the hill.



Tsilka also looked towards the hill and made a gesture that ravens were now pecking on Yannakis’s frozen eyes.



On the night of December 22nd, the Commanders of the 14th and 103rd Brigades and the Commanders of the Units operating in Kajmakchalan Region were called to a meeting at one of the houses in Krontselevo village. Presiding over the meeting was General Gusias, representative of the Chief of Staff, who had arrived here two days before by way of Yugoslavia.



“Comrade Commanders,” continued Gusias with a serious tone of voice, “tonight we are going to attack Voden. I repeat. We will go tonight. The presence of so many of our units in Kajmakchalan could be detected by the enemy, which for us would have tragic consequences. Exactly because of this we don’t have the luxury of giving the Units any more time for rest.”



General Georgiadis, Commander of the 14th Brigade, finally broke the silence that followed.



“The fighters are extremely exhausted from the long and arduous march which took place under very tough winter conditions and are overwhelmed by the super human effort they went through. I suggest the attack on Voden be postponed twenty-four hours to allow the fighters to recover, eat and rest.”



Georgiadis was a lone voice; no one gave him support.



“There will be no delays to the operation,” Gusias yelled out. “The order from Headquarters is as follows:



‘All available means to carry out an attack on the city of Voden will be synchronized to commence on December 22nd, 1948 at 3 o’clock after midnight.’”



The fighters, half asleep, were pulled out and gathered from the houses literally by force. They all stood in a semi-circle shaking from the cold, bumping their feet together and rubbing their ears. Their teeth chattered, their toes in their wet boots were numb, they shed frozen tears under their eyes, their cheeks were red and their lips were turning blue. In the cold night wind, their wet clothes froze and became stiff. Their fingers froze from having to hold the barrel and handle of their frozen cold rifles and machine guns.



The Cheta Commander addressed them with the following words:



“Tonight we continue the march. This leg of the march will be even more arduous but if you could endure the last four nights, you can certainly endure this one. Today we are setting out to attack Voden, the city.”



There were no outbursts of joy or of calling out combat slogans and as dusk arrived and darkness descended a loud voice broke the silence.



“Depart!”



Only snow could be heard crunching under their boots as the fighters lined up in a column and began their march. All around the fog was frozen and the trees were covered with white frost. The fighters were wobbly on their feet, half asleep they would often trip and fall, breaking up the column. On a downhill climb one of the loaded horses slipped and the crates it was carrying broke off and from them tumbled mines and hand grenades, rolling downhill.



“Halt!” ordered the Cheta Commander. “Take off your overcoats and place them on the ground for the horses to walk on. Quickly!”



They passed one more hill and in front of them, some distance away, they could see the shining lights of Voden.



“Forward!” ordered the Unit Chiefs.



The Cheta Commander looked at his watch. It was past three in the morning and they were far away from the city. It was late. It took them another half hour before they arrived at their destination by the river Voden. The river was loud and its water flowed violently. With their weapons ready, they stood by the shore. There was no bridge or cable. A long machine gun burst was heard coming from the distance in the south and after that the sky was lit with bright flares.



“Forward!” ordered the Cheta Commander and was the first to plunge into the fast flowing water.



Tsilka and Mita, holding on to one another, stepped into the river together. The cold water covered them up to their waists and took their breath away.



“Hang on! Hold on to me tight!” Mita yelled out. Tsilka took her backpack from her shoulder and put it down in the water. She then grabbed Mita’s belt and together they made it to the other side. Their pants were soaking wet.



“Charge!” roared the Commander in a loud voice.



The frozen pant legs were welded together and the ice on them was impeding their ability to move. They could hardly separate their legs. The ice had tied them down.



“Forward! Charge!”



Light flares exploded above their heads and the river bank lit up like daylight. Just then, from the surrounding hills, the enemy began to bombard them with volleys of machine gun fire. Mita and Tsilka were hit in their legs. They were both left there to bleed at the river’s bank.



The enemy was not at all surprised by the three thousand five hundred exhausted DAG (Democratic Army of Greece) fighters who, while initiating an uncoordinated attack on the city of Voden, suffered a total defeat. Mutilated and in disarray they were pursued by aircraft while they withdrew to the forested slopes of Mount Kajmakchalan.



The same day and night and the next day and night the mobilized women and young girls from the villages surrounding Kajmakchalan in the Lerin and Voden Regions collected the wounded and carried them on stretchers to first aid stations in the villages Dolno and Gorno Pozharesko.



Here, bandaged up, warm and fed, they waited for the day to pass. In the evening the wounded brought here on stretchers formed a column and took the narrow, steep uphill winding path leading to the peak of Kajmakchalan. At the front of the column were two armed men and following them were about a dozen lightly wounded fighters making a path through the snow. After some time an order was given for the column to stop and move away from the path. Shortly afterwards five armed men passed by. One of the wounded recognized Gusias. He was returning to Prespa via Yugoslavia after the battle had been lost.



In the morning hours the head of the column stopped at the border line. The leader walked over to the Yugoslav border checkpoint. A sergeant came out. The interpreter, mixing some Serbian words with his local Voden dialect, told the sergeant that they had many heavily wounded and asked if they could take them to hospitals over the border.



“Immediately now it is not possible,” replied the sergeant and pointed towards the sky on the other side of the border. “You see the airplane up there? It is filming, taking pictures.”



“At least give us some bread and some water. The wounded are thirsty and hungry.” pleaded the leader.



“Go away and wait. You will get some later. Wait until the border checkpoint Commander returns. Go away. Don’t stand here.” ordered the sergeant.



In the meantime the wounded one after another protested. A man with bloody bandages on his head and around his shoulder, spit on the side, and began to curse: “We will die here. Tito has gone to the American side. Believe me it’s like that. I am telling you. We will die here from hunger and the cold. Tito will help the Americans do this to us. I am telling you...”



Later in the afternoon the leader was summoned to the checkpoint. An officer, Captain by rank, gave him the following message:



“The trucks cannot travel because the snow drifts are very deep. The villagers from the surrounding villages are mobilized to clear the road. As soon as they finish their job, you will get your hot food and water. At nightfall all the wounded will be transferred to those huts over there.” the Captain pointed.
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Old 12-10-2011, 10:05 PM   #666
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Donski's book seems interesting. is there a website where it can be purchased?
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Old 12-11-2011, 05:38 PM   #667
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George, Bij, I will send you a private msg with a phone number you can call and order these books..

Cost $15
”Ancient greek and Other Ancient Testimonies about the Unique Ethnic Distinctiveness of the Ancient Macedonians”

Cost $15
The Little Book of Big Greek Lies” by Risto Stefov

Cost $20
NEW BOOK: "The Descendants of Alexander the Great of Macedon - The arguments and evidence that today's Macedonians are descendants of the ancient Macedonians"

There are also quite afew more books on sale, both in English and Macedonian
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Old 12-11-2011, 08:10 PM   #668
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When and where was this book launch? Was it advertised?
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Old 12-11-2011, 09:16 PM   #669
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dejan View Post
When and where was this book launch? Was it advertised?
The books was launched in Sydney by Victor Bivell, writer and publisher on Friday, 2 December, 2011 at the
Macedonian Cultural and Education Centre “Ilinden”
65 Railway Street Rockdale...

Not sure how much they advertised it, they did announce it on the radio and FaceBook..They will be launching it in Melbourne soon I think..
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Old 12-12-2011, 06:31 AM   #670
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i got the 2 donski books allready.I have the big book of lies on ebook.What i'm after is the project thatDonski was to compoile into a book.I think it's to do with a number of unknown ancient macedonian writers of macedonian decent. donski got a copy from germany of the ancient scripts & donski was meant to translate them .He said it would negate all of greece's claims to macedonia.The macedonian writers proved rhat the macedonians & greeks were different.
Don't worry i got donski's email i'll find out what's happening.He is a very aproachable person unlike some others.
LWR that's a great idea why don't you write up a little review of each book.

Last edited by George S.; 12-12-2011 at 06:36 AM. Reason: ed
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