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Remembering the Great War

It is not a very well known fact that Macedonia, although not a state at the time, took a great part, or rather, suffered a lot in World War One. One of the most stable front lines of the conflict passed through the whole territory of Macedonia. The front attracted great numbers of foreign troops who fought fierce battles resulting in epic destruction, diseases and death tolls among soldiers and the local people. The Thessaloniki (Solun) or Macedonian Front stretched from the Adriatic coast to the Struma River. The Allied forces (Britain, France, Greece and Serbia) were fighting against Bulgaria and smaller detachments of the armies of the Central Powers (Austro-Hungary and Germany). Bulgaria took over Macedonian territory from the falling Serbian state. From Ohrid to Bitola, then along the rivers Crna and Vardar, and around Dojran Lake heavy bombardment and severe man-to-man battles took place. The battles of Kajmakcalan, Krivolak, Kosturino and Dojran are notorious for the number of casualties and prolonged fighting. Peaks and hills were gained and lost several times during each battle. The front line was stable for a long time until it was broken by the Allied forces in 1918, which lead to the capitulation of Bulgaria and restitution of the Serbian state on Macedonian territory.

The war brought a great many new experiences to Macedonian peasants, who were not very mobile at that time. Encounters with new nations and races, strange love affairs, encounters with feminism, cross-national friendships, extreme suffering, poverty and hunger moved and inspired Macedonian writers such as Petre M. Andreevski, Ivan Capovski and Luan Starova. They wrote about brothers mobilized by rival armies at the front, brave female nurses, love affairs between soldiers and locals, the first encounters with Arab and African soldiers, unusual animals (camels), big guns etc. Read more …