Makedonska Iskra Project Well Advanced
By Victor Bivell
The project to reprint the Makedonska Iskra newspapers from the 1940s
and 1950s is well advanced with two thirds of the editions now available
for free on the internet.
Sixty six of the 104 editions of Makedonska Iskra have now been scanned
and uploaded to the www.pollitecon.com
web site. All editions from October 1946 to December 1952 have been
uploaded, leaving only the newspapers from 1953 through to January 1957
to be completed. Pollitecon Publications hopes to complete these in
the next few months.
Makedonska Iskra was the first Macedonian newspaper in Australia and
is an invaluable record of early Macedonian immigration to Australia.
It also gives extensive insights into the key political events of the
times, particularly the newly established Republic of Macedonia, then
part of Yugoslavia, and the War of Independence in Aegean Macedonia
which was part of the Greek Civil War.
A key feature are the several thousand Macedonian immigrants whose
names are published in numerous and extensive lists of people who donated
to Macedonian causes, including a hospital in Skopje and local causes
such the newspaper itself.
The newspaper reported not only on community events in the capital
cities of Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide but on a surprising
number of much smaller centres such as Manjimup, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie
and Bridgetown in Western Australia, Shepparton, Werribee and Sale in
Victoria, and Richmond, Crabbes Creek, Queanbeyan, Broken Hill, Newcastle,
Forbes and Port Kembla in New South Wales. Even tiny Captains Flat near
Canberra had some Macedonian settlers.
The newspaper shows that the Macedonians of the times were surprisingly
well organized politically, with national bodies and regular national
conferences - a level of organization and unity not evident today. There
is also early discussion about establishing the first Macedonian church
Many of the Macedonian community's early leaders - well known names
such as Kiro Angelkov, Stoyan Sarbinov, Risto Altin, Michael Velosky,
Ilio Malco, Vasil Boshkov, and many others - feature regularly in the
Makedonska Iskra also contains numerous reports about the newly independent
Republic of Macedonia within Yugoslavia and its political and economic
development. There are also updates on developments in Pirin Macedonia
and Albania, and even a letter from the Macedonian community in Buenos
Perhaps most moving is the regular news from Aegean Macedonia, where
the Greek Civil War was raging and many Macedonians were fighting for
independence or autonomy. The many news stories cover the Truman Doctrine
in Greece, napalm bombing by the British, key battles around Mt Vicho,
Mt Gramos and Lerin, the repulsion of the British soldiers who witnessed
atrocities against the Macedonian population, and the evacuation of
the "detsa begaltsi" (child refugees) which interestingly is called
the Markos plan after the Greek leader of the Democratic Army.
The newspapers also give some insight into the use of the "slav"
terminology. The emigrant Macedonians always refer to themselves as
Macedonians but there is widespread use of the term "slav"
to refer to eastern Europeans. During this period in history the Macedonians
were grouped under the "slav" umbrella by those whose political
interests it suited, particularly the communists in Yugoslavia, Stalin
and the Soviet Empire, and the communist led Greek Democratic Army.
The term is clearly used by all these forces to create a sense of unity
between the eastern European peoples, to give the Macedonians a sense
of identification with these peoples, and as a differentiator from the
Western capitalist powers.
Most interestingly, the term "Slav Macedonians" emanates
from Greece and is almost exclusively used in reports from and about
the Greek Democratic Army where the leadership was Greek. The Greek
influence is clear, highlighting both the long term nature of Greek
attempts to denationalize the Macedonian people and also the two faced
support of the Greek communists who were happy to use the discontent
of the Macedonians to further political revolution but many of whom,
despite promising autonomy to the Macedonians, did not respect them
enough to call them by their name.
So Makedonska Iskra makes interesting reading both at a personal level
where people wish to look into their family history, and at a community
level with a Macedonian perspective on key events in twentieth century
The newspapers can be accessed for free at www.pollitecon.com
and then under Reprints.
Published in Australian Macedonian Weekly July 4, 2006
© Copyright, July 2006