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Thread: [History] The Drama of Drama: One of the First Uprisings Against the Axis.

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    Default [History] The Drama of Drama: One of the First Uprisings Against the Axis.

    Author: Prince Regent George
    Original Thread: The Drama of Drama: One of the First Uprisings Against the Axis.

    The Drama of Drama: One of the First Uprisings Againts the Axis Introduction

    The Revot of Drama took place in the automn of 1941, against the military and political authorities representing the Bulgarian Occupation Forces of the Eastern Maedonia and Thrace (previously owned by the Kingdom of Greece). The revolt was initiated by the communist partisans of CPG (Communist Party of Greece), with the minor participation of independent Pontic groups, who (the partisans) managed to motivate a considerable part of the local population to rise against the brutality of the Bulgaian regime.

    Surprisingly enough, it's a relatively unkown event, even in Bulgaria or Greece. The reasons for this is its embarassing nature for the first ones, while in Greece, during the political tensions of the Civil War and the genral controversy, as we will see, of the revolt, the incident remains obscure.


    Geographical Background

    The province of Eastern Macedonia and Greece is located between the mountains of Rhodope and the Aegean Sea. It's a long and thin line of valleys, interrupted by rivers (Struma in the east, Nestos in the center), mountains (Menoikion in the east, Paggaion in the south, Rhodope and Falakron in the north, Tempe of Nestos and Chal Dag in the center) and forests (Frakton, Kara Dere-Black Forest and Kotza Orman-Great Forest).

    Politically, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace were divided into 5 prefectures, each with its own administrative capital: Prefecture of Serres (capital: Serres), Prefecture of Kavala (capital: Kavala), Prefecture of Drama (capital: Drama), Prefecture of Rhodope (capital: Komotini, including the city of Xanthi) and Prefecture of Evros (capital: Alexandroupolis).

    Back then, it also included the Prefecture of Serres, located east of Drama and Kavala.

    Political Background

    Eastern Macedonia and Thrace played, since the 19th century, the rising of nationalism and the decadence of the Ottoman Empire, a crucial role in the conflict between the Kingdoms of Greece and Bulgary. To begin with, guerilla troops, during the early 20th century, attempted to expand their motherland's influence in the disputed territories. Rather frequetly, military engagements between them, as well as the intervention of the Ottoman police, made the life in the countryside quite unhealthy for nationalists, priests, teachers and even for common townsfolk.

    In 1912, with the end of the First Balkan War and its victorious result for Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro against the Ottoman Empire, the aforementioned region was controlled by the Bulgarian Army. However, the defeat of Bulgary in the Second Balkan War gave the Eastern Macedonia to Greece. In 1915, the Kingdom of Bulgary, exploiting the internal struggle in Greece, between the pro-Etente faction and the pro-neutrality one, conquered the recently lost regions, as an ally of Germany. Unfortunately for the Bulgarians, according o the terms of the Treaty of Neille (1919), not only Eastern Macedonia was given back to Greece, but Bulgary was obliged to also cede the Western Thrace.

    In the Interwar Period, the hostilities stopped, except for a minor Greek invasion in Bulgarian lands, supposedly because of an incident in the borders of Bulgaria with the Prefecture of Drama. Inevitably, the declaration of the Second World War wouldn't let Eastern Macedonia peaceful.


    About Drama, more specifically, she is the capital of the Prefecture with the same name. Historically, she was known only about minor events, such as being the birthplace of two Turkish commanders who fought against the Greek Revolution (Ibrahim and Dramali Pashas). However, after the construction of the Imperial, Ottoman railways and the appearance of the first tobacco fields, Drama, based on the fact that the muslim community was the vast majority of her population, managed to grow fastly, evolving into an important agricultural, trading and industrial urban center.

    It was given to the Kingdom of Bulgary, because of the First Balkan War, but it was rapidly transferred to the Greeks, after the unfortunate for the Bulgarians Second Balkan War. The fact that the Bulgarians, while retreating committed many atrocities, mainly in the town of Doxato (near Drama), as well as the temporary, Bulgarian Occupation, during the First World War, didn't contribute much to the hammered relations between the Greeks and the Bulgarians. With the Treaty of Lausanne, between Turkey and Greece (1923), the Muslims of Drama were exchanged with Greek refugees from the Turkish lands. It's calculated that 90% of her population is originated from the Greek refugees of Asia Minor, Eastern Romylia and Eastern Thrace.

    The pretty large Prefecture of Drama is mainly based on agriculture and the processing of tobacco. Moreover, it should be noted that her environment is pretty diverse, with a large valley (of the former lake Prasias) encircling Drama, four mountainous masses (Menoikion in the west, Pangaeon in the south, Chal Dag in the east and Falakron in the north) and three extremely large and old-growth forests (Kotza Orman in the east and Frakton and Kara Dere in the morth, making him rather isolated) and the river of Nestos, in the borders with the Prefecture of Rhododope.

    The Conquest and the Occupation

    Greece and Bulgaria in the Second World War

    Greece, under the dictatorship of Metaxas, supported by the Crown (King George II), tried to maintain a neutrap position during the first stages of the war, despite her excellent relations with the United Kingdom or the fascist influences of the regime. However, Italy, desiring to expand her interests in the Ionian Sea, decided to attack Greece in Epirus, with rather surprisingly, a negative outcome for the Kingdom of Italy. Being given the unexpected resistance of Greece and the pro-British coup d'etat in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Balkans managed to attract the attention of the Hitleric Germany.

    As a result, Germany approached Bulgaria, a nation with strong financial ties with the Third Reich and, more importantly, inspired by a sentiment of recapturing the "their lost motherland", since she was defeated in the Great War. Bulgaria, back then, was authoritarian state, practically under the rule of King Boris III, who easily controlled the Parliament, by appointing his desirable government. The Army's administration was also in close ties with the regime, considering that the untrustworthy officers, as well as the suspicious politicians (like the ones of the Communist Party of Bulgaria), have already been imprisoned or exiled.

    Wermacht, with her excellent equipment and out-manoeuvring tactics easily subjucated both Yugoslavia and Greece, bringing the whole Balkan Penninsula under her rule. In what concerns Greece, German regiments operated from Bulgarian territoy, although Bulgaria never declared the war against Greece. After the battles have been over, the occupation zones were defined. Italy and Germany controled the biggest part of Greece, while Bulgaria occupied the province of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, with the exception of a thin, German line in the borders with Turkey, in order to prevent hostilities between the two Balkan powers. Finally, it's worth to be mentioned that Germany, in an attempt not to enrage the Greeks, never recognized Eastern Macedonia and Thrace as a territory totally integrated to the Kingdom of Bulgaria. On contrary, they considered it occupied, in spite of the Bulgarian efforts to persuade them.

    The Bulgarian Occupation

    he invasion of the Germano-Bulgarian forces began on the 20th of April, in 1941, in spite of the fact that the war between Bulgaria and Greece was declared two months after, with the initiative of the Greek government-in-exile. Although Germany considered the Bulgarian forces, as garisson units in a possibly temporarily occupied territory, Bulgaria intentionally misinterpreted Germany's will, by giving a permanent nature on her occupation, hoping for a future integration. Firts of all, she immediately replaced all the Greek public servants and policemen with Bulgarian ones. Then, Bulgary made the necessary for an integration administrative and eclessiastic reforms. East Macedonia and Thrace was separated to several political and eclessiastical departments, which were intergrated to the already existent ones. For example, the metropoles of Eat Macedonia were part of the Bishopy of Nevrokop and the Thracian ones became part of the Bishopy of Plovdiv.

    Extract of a telegram of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stating the temporary nature of the Bulgarian Occupation.


    Having realised the abovementioned reforms, the Bulgarian government decided it was time for the spread of the Bulgarian culture in the recently "liberated" regions. The goal of their objectively harsh measures was to encourage the Greeks to move away, to attract Bulgarian immigrants (hopefully from the 300.000 homeless Bulgarians or from the intellectual elit of the country) and to make the non-Bulgarians change their national identity.

    Firstly, they applied violence. There are numerous cases of executions, imprissonments and assaults of non-Bulgarian citizens. They targeted groups like Army officers, doctors, lawers, scientists and politicians, who could influence positively their community, but it's not rare for simple citizens to fall victims to some officer's brutality. As a side note, Bulgaria also contributed to the Holocaust, by sending the 97% of the 10.000 members Jewish community to the death camps.

    An extract of the American ambassador's in Istanbul report, concerning the deportation of Jews by the Bulgarian Government.

    On the financial domain, we can observe the vast majority of the Bulgarisation measures. Every Greek business was obliged to share her profits with at least one Bulgarian partner, Bulgarian peasants obtained three quarters of the already owned fields, the currency was changed to levs, but the Greeks took half of it as treasury bills and many taxes were invented, targeting specifically the non-Bulgarians of the new lands.

    In what concerns culture, all the eclessiactic establishments (metropoles, monasteries etc.) became part of the schismatic, bulgarian exarchate and the priests, as well as the rest of the population, was permitted to speak only Bulgarian. The signs were translated and the Greek schools were replaced by a much smaller number of Bulgarian ones.

    Also, the Bulgarian government established many nationalistic organisations, created by aggressive immigrants, in order to face the continually growing resistance movement. One of them is Okhrana (her name is derived from the notorious police of the tsarist Russia), which is like an unofficial secret police/agency. As we will see, it played a major rome in the controversy surrounding Drama's Revolt. Finally, many cultural centers were established, as well as several Bulgarian newspapers, which promoted xenophobic emotions against the non-Bulgarians of Belomorie (Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, in the Bulgarian language).

    Front page of the newspaper "Belomorska Bulgaria" (Aegean Bulgaria), which was published in Xanthi, the political and military center of the Bulgarian authorities.

    Uprising of Drama: The Zenith of the Resistance

    The resistance had already begun since the first stages of the occupation, by the appearance of two groups, Rhegas Phaereos (from the revolutionary of the 18th century) in Serres and Odysseas Androutsos (from another Greek rebel leader) in Drama, with leftist views. Unfortunately, both groups were eliminated rather quickly, due to lack of organisation, leaving a clean space for the Communist Party and the Pontic warlords.

    Communist Party of Greece (CPG)

    CPG, although it had managed to elect several representatives in the last Parliament of Greece, dissolved in 1936, had his administrative structure totally destroyed, because of Metaxas dictatorship's persecutions. Its leadership was imprisoned, while the communication between the different departments became pretty difficult, after Greece was divided in three Occuation zones. Despite all this, the beginning of the Operation Barbarossa on the 22nd of June, prompted the Communist Party to encourage disruptive movements against the occupational forces. The Macedonian Bureau, responsible for the Party's activities in Northern Greece advised all the local organizations, the ones under the Bulgarians included, to realise minor operations against the Axis.

    The order was also recieved by the communists in Drama, a prefecture with strong communist presence due to the tobacco manufacture, in which a large portion of the population worked. Consequently, the first partisan groups were created mainly in the less isolated Chal Dag, n the southeastern corner of Drama. However, in the Conference of Heliocomme (a small village in Serres), the Communist Organisation of Drama, with her Secretary, Hamalides, decided to act more decisively against the Bulgarian Occupation, planning a mass revolt in the next October. The reason for Hamalides' initiative remains disputed, but, according to it, partisan groups would attack the Bulgarian forces in every inhabitted area (the city of Drama included), aiming to recapure it, an therefore, start a general revolution.

    Pontic Warlords

    After the Treaty of Lausanne, Drama, being a Prefecture with a major Muslim and Turkish presence, was an important destination for refugees, from Easten Thrace, Eastern Romylia and Pontus. Some Pontians, previously living in USSR, had adopted a friendly attitude towards communism, while others, originated from more backward and mountainous areas, mainly Turkish-speaking, orthodox Pontians blamed USSR fo the crushing defeat of the Greek Army, during its campaign against Mustafa Kemal. Based on their guerilla experience against the Ottomans and later Kemalists, as well as on their patriarchic structure of their society, they formed resistance groups, mainly in the northern, isolated area of Drama.

    Their motives were sometimes a bit personal (for instance, their leader, Cavus Anton was a fugitive because of his wife's murder), but they fought the Bulgarians till the late stages of the war, when they got persuaded to turn against their communist counterparts, inspired by a far-right ideology. However, in the automn of 1941, they have not still formed any significant resistance movement, so their participation in the events of Drama was minor and totally motivated by the communists.

    Revolt of Drama

    At t night of the 28th of September, the communist partisans, fearing the revelation of their plans to the Bulgarian authorities, decide to begin the revolt with a sabotage in Drama's two hydroelectric plants, in order to cause a general vlack-out, which would be the sign for the rest of the military operations. The operational center was located in the village of Mavrovatos, but the lack of coordination was evident (a random incident in the village of Doxato did not contribute much to the amelioration of the situation).


    The partisans have been organised to four, independent groups: The first was targeting the Greek hydroelectric plant, the second's target was the Armenian plan, the third was supposed to attack the barracks and military warehouses, while the forth was responsible for the assault in the railway station.

    Only the first group manage to finish it quest. The engineer Sampson Canetides, after several failed attempts, put the plant on fire, causing a rather extended black-out in Drama. However, the sabotage of the Armenian plant failed, because of a Bulgarian patrol's intervention. A bit later, the partisans executed a plant's employee, accused of collaborating with the Bulgarians.

    Moreover, the rest of the partisan attacks failed, too, since the guarding forces easily repelled the uncoordinated assaults of the partisans. Also, the communists had lost the element of surprise, because of an unfortunate incident occured in Doxato (the largest village of the Prefecture of Drama), occured few hours before the begining of the uprising.

    Drama's Railway Station. One of the partisans' targets.


    Doxato, few miles east of Drama, was a small town, which had already suffered from Bulgarian atrocities, during the retreat of the Bulgarian Army, in the Second Balkan War (several hundreds of civilians had been executed). Here, in the afternoon of the 28th of September, a resistance group exchanged shots with a Bulgarian patrol, which quickly retreated, alerting the authorities in Drama. After a while, the partisans returned, killing all the Bulgarian policemen of Doxato with the support of the local populace and executing three, possibly fascist traitors. Finally, they went back to their base, Chal Dag, accompanied by 200 peasants, who had wisely thought of the inevitable, Bulgarian reprisals. As a side note, the political governor of Drama, who hapenned to be there, barely escaped from capture, despite being seriously injured.


    Here, the local residents managed to either kill or capture the Bulgarian authorities, with the support of the Pontic warlord, Jordanes Hasiares. Then, they decided to march against Drama, but the unexpected change of thought from Hasiares, made them get back to their village.


    There, the Cavalry Regiment of the communist partisans easily liberated the village. Unfortunately, the local, Pontic warlords refused to participate in the revolt, in spite of the population's enthusiasm, and they immediately seeked refuge to the German Occupation Zone.


    A partisan group invaded, at late night, in the village, killing a policeman and a collaborator and kidnapping the Bulgarian mayor. Many peasants followed the partisans, after being informed about the mass executions in Doxato.


    In Hadriane, the local populace, inspired by members of the CPG, revolted against the Bulgarians, burning the Police Station, killing almost all of the policemen and the Bulgarian president of the community.


    Horiste, whose nickname was "Little Moscow", because of the strong, communist presence, was attacked by few partisans, who captured the already abandoned Police Station. After some minor looting and the execution of two traitors, the partisans retreated back to Chal Dag.


    The local communists of Kalamon revolted against the Bulgarian policemen, who, however, managed to get away successfully, with only one casualty. After executing two, local collaborators, the communists hid themselves near the ancient city of Philippoi.

    Kalos Agros

    In Kalos Agros, the small, native communist group captured and then burned the already abandoned Police Station. Then, they attacked a train bridge, located nearby, which, after having its guards disposed of, they trapped with mines.


    A detachment of partisans easily liberated the village, and, after executing a local "Bulgarised" merchant continued her way to Drama.


    A small, partisan group, supported by the local populace, easily liberated the village, capturing several Bulgarian mayors, who had been there, because of a political conference regarding future measures against the non-Bugarians. All the captives were later released, after the appearance of rumours concerning how brutally the Bulgarian Army handled similar situations.


    In the village of Nicephorus, the partisans and the local, communist organization planned four attacks, against the village itself, the Army's warehouse, the train bridge and the railway station. Only the first two were successful, although several Bugarian soldiers and policement died in the attack.


    Some partisans captured the village, killing the Bulgarian president of the community. After a brief, public speech about the ideals of the revolution by the second in command, after Hamalides, Pasturmatzes, the partisans returned to their operational center.


    After quickly capturing Peristeria, the partisans executed three Bulgarian captives, including the president of the community. They retreated back to Chal Dal, along with the male population of the village.


    Armed peasants, supported by a detachment of patisans, arrested the Bulgarian authorities, killing one soldier, in the process. After that, for the first time in the Greek history, they raised the Communist Red Flag, replacing the Bulgarian one.


    A large contigent of partisans and local peasants attacked simultaneously the Police and Railway Stations, as well as the train bridge. It was the greatest victory for the partisans, achieving all their targets, killing many policemen and soldiers and capturing even more. They later retreated, along with a large portion of Photolivus' population.


    Several young men, inspired by the news about the revolt, uprised against the authorities, injuring several Bulgarians. However, after having heard about the suppression of the revolt, they quickly seeked refuge to Chal Dag.


    Fifty partisans attacked this, large, agricultural and tobacco center, killing several policemen and arresting all the Bulgarian "colonists". After two days, the partisans abandoned Prosotsane, heading to Falakron and accompanied by many, excited, young men.

    Saint Athanasius

    In the village of St. Athanasius, twenty partisans from Chal Dag, attacked the local, Bulgarian authorities, killing two officials. They returned back to Chal Dag, after instructing politically the peasanst and sabotaging the communications, again accompanied by numerous civilians.


    The local populace, after arresting the authorities and killing the Bulgarian president, attacked and captured a train bridge, near the cave of Alistrate. An attack of "Bulgarised" Greeks was easily reppeled, but the rebels were forced to retreat after the approach of the Bulgarian Army.

    Map of the Prefecture of Drama. The red circle concerns the revolted areas, while the blue line shows the Bulgarian reprisals.

    The Bulgarian Reprisals

    As we will see, the Bulgarians reacted fastly and decisively against the mass revolt, challenging their rule. Their methods were rather violent and were extended to regions, which had remained quiet during the revolt. They were so violent, that, after a week, Czar Boris III ordered the end of the reprisals, in order to avoid a genocide.


    Here, the Bulgarian atrocities reached their peak, considering that the Bulgarian Army, following the draconean orders of the military governor, Mikhailov, executed literally every citizen they randomly met. Bulgarian patrols arrested all the persons found outside of their homes and several particularly targeted citizens (approx. 1200 men). All of them were imprisoned and tortured, while half of them were finally executed.


    After an air bombardment (!), the Bulgarian Army concentrated all the male villagers between 15 and 50 years old (234 people), in the local school. Some of them were tortured, but, in the end, all of them were massly executed.


    Eight people were executed in Argyroupole, a village which didn't revolt, while seven others died in Drama, after insufferable torturing.


    A Bulgarian regiment arrested and concentrated all the village's remaining population in the shcool. After a day, most of them were executed, children and women included.


    In an again peaceful, during the uprising, village, the Bulgarians concentrated the remaining male population (25 people) in the local barn, which they later put on fire, burning all of them alive. The village had been previously bombarded.


    The Bulgarians attacked Cyrgia with aircraft, artillery, armored vehicles and trains. Despite all this, the population successfully retreated, till the Bulgarians malevolently promised an amnesty. They arrested 200 people, of whom they executed the two thirds.


    Here, a Bulgarian detachment, after visiting peacefully the village in the 29th of September, it sneakily came back, a day after, capturing and executing 30 adolescents,, in the Railway Station.


    Here, the reprisals were applied in 1943, under the pretext of the appearance of a small partisan group, near the village.


    In Horiste, the responsible officer, Cynnyn, managed to delay the mass execution of the villagers for one day, letting many captives escape. When the orders became more persistent, he managed to exclude the one quarter from the execution.

    Kalos Agros

    A Bulgarian detachment, after burning all the village's buildings, arrested 26 young men, whom they executed a day later.


    Here, the Bulgarians burnt several houses and barns, while they executed 38 peasants, in spite of the fact that the village never revolted.


    In Micropole, the Bulgarians massacred the remaining population (38 people) (murders of toddlers are also mentioned), while they hade previously raped many women.


    Nine peasants were executed, in a village which had also never questioned the Bulgarian rule.


    The Bulgarians concentrated the village's male population in the quarry nearby, intending to execute them. Thankfully, 4 villagers managed to escape, leaving 37 remaining persons to be executed.


    After an intense bombardment which costed the lives of 20 people, a Bulgarian regiment captured the village. Fortunately, the colonel, disobeying his orders, burnt only a small part of the village.


    In Platania, the Bulgarian contingent was successfully ambushed, something that encouraged the Bulgarian Colonel to raze the village to the ground. Fortunately, the Bulgarian president of the commmunity intervened, so "only" 19 people were executed and 7 buildings were burnt.


    Initially, Prosotsane was bombared continuously by the aircraft and the artillery for two days, so many residents died in the holocaust. After that, the Bulgarian Army arrested 2.000 villagers, 148 of whom were executed in the bridge of the Angites Canyon.

    Saint Athanasius

    The residents managed to persuade the Bulgarian soldiers to treat them "leniently". As a result, "only" 8 peasants died, after being horribly tortured.


    In Sitagroi, the Bulgarian soldiers killed the whole remaining population (approx. 100 people) and looted the village for about too days.

    South Nevrokop

    Although Northern Drama, being a rather isolated and sparsely populated area did not revolt, the Bulgarians razed many buildings to the ground and executed 126 peasants.

    Other villages

    In several other villages, most of them rather peaceful in the 28th of September, like Mikrolivado, Mesohorion, Calliphytus, Bathylacus, New Amisus, Mauroleuce, Phtelia, Calambace, Nerophracte, Saint Paraskeve, Perihora, Petrousa, Grammene, Anthohori, Kale Bryse, Chesme, Volax, Callithea, Paliambela, Prinolophus, Peges, New Calapodi, Ramazan Bounar, Drymotopus, Hamokerasa, Agiohori, Sahini, Mavrokorphato, the number of the victis was ranging from 4 to 14.


    The fate of the partisans was not much better than the one of the peasants. The Bulgarian Army managed to pursue them rather efficiently, from mountain to mountain. As a result, the majority got back to their homes, many of them died because deseases and enemy ambushes and only a neglectable part remained active. In what concerns the leadership, Hamalides, the Secretary of Drama, died while trying to pass through the river Struma, in order to inform his superiors about the revolt, while the representatives of the Macedonian Bureau, sent with the task to collect information about the unexplained uprising, were caught and immediately executed by a Bulgarian patrol.

    The Square of Saint Barbara in Drama. Here, the Bulgarians executed approximately 500 hundred people. The large building in the right is a tobacco warehouse, one of the many in Drama, under which the bodies were buried.


    The resistance movement

    For a while,
    the resistance in Drama was literally inexistent, due to the continuous operations of the Bulgarians and the degradation of CPG's structure, because of the loss of many of its members, including his leadership. However, thanks to the creation of EAM and his military section, ELAS, a communist resistance organization, responsible for sabotage operations in the whole Greece, till the surrender of Bulgaria, there was an even more extended presence of communist partisans in Drama, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (the 26th regiment was responsible for the aformentioned regions). Furthermore, the Pontic warlords decided to act more drastically against the Bulgarian harshness, having under their control the northern regions of Drama.

    Unfortunately, because of the British intervention in favor of the nationalists, bloody disputes between communists and Pontians and finally the betrayal of the New Year's Eve, when the Pontians executed 16 communists who had visited their camp, in order to celebrate the New Year, in the latest stages of the war, there was great animosity between the resistance groups. The majority of the Pontic partisans finally co-operated with the Bulgarians, operating against their communist ex-counterparts. In the Greek Civil War (1946-1949), many partisans of ELAS supported the communist side, while many Pontians died fighting for the government, mainly in the battle of Souli.

    A cartoon of Kavala's Bulgarian newspaper "Belomorie", depicting a Bulgarian beating up a Greek.
    Up: "A little drama in Drama"
    Down: "You should have been quiet and you wouldn't have been beaten up"


    After some administrative changes, in order to deal with the revolt, Bulgaria continued her harsh measures, in the whole East Macedonia and Thrace, by executing a great civilians (innocent or not) arrested after the uprising. With the change of the war's course, Bulgaria desperately attempted to assure her conquests in Yugoslavia and Greece, by approaching the Allies (she had not still declared the war to USSR). After the suspicious death of the King Boris III, considering that his son, King Symeon II, was too young, Bulgaria was governed by the Vice Royalty, led by Prince Cyril and the Prime Minister (Filov, Bozhilov, Bagryanov, Muravyev). However, with the approach of the Soviet troops, the instability constantly grew up, with the opposition inside the Army and the Communist Party of Bulgaria continually gaining power.

    Thanks to the coup of the Romanian King, the Soviet Army approached Bulgaria earlier than the expected. On the 9th of September (1944), Bulgaria declares the war against the Axis and a couple of hours later USSR declares the war to Bulgaria, invading immediately her lands (Bulgaria is the only country having been in war with both sides of the Second World War). Not even a single soldier was killed in this "peaceful" war, as the Bulgarian government of Constantine Muravyev was overthrown by the Fatherland Front (the organization representing all the resistance movements), who appointed Kimon Georgiev as the next Prime-Minister.

    While Bulgaria abandoned her claims concerning the Yugoslavian lands, due to Tito's undisputed power, she still insisted on continuing the occupation of Eatern Macedonia and Thrace (Belomorie was the Bulgarian name), tempting the USSR with an exit to the Mediterranean Sea. However, she was soon forced to call back her occupying forces, letting ELAS (the most prominent partisan movement) to liberate the abandoned cities and villages. Also, several war criminals were handed to the Greek communists, like Mikhailov (the military governor of Drama, duing the revolt) or Klechkov (the last governor of Belomorie), who executed them, after a brief trial. After three and a half years, Eatern Macedonia and Thrace was officially given back to the Kingdom of Greece.

    The death squad of ELAS, ready to execute Mikhailov.

    The Great Controversy: Why did the Communists Revolt?

    In Greece, the uprising of Drama, despite its relatively unkown nature, has caused a lengthy debate regarding the reasons behind it. In the heated, political atmosphere during and after the Greek Civil War, many versions appear, based on political emotions, a desire to avoid responsibilty or even ignorance. Fortunately, thanks to more objective reviews and the rather informative Bulgarian archives, today, we are able to reach a credible conclusion.


    1. The communist co-operated with the fascists

    According to this "theory" developped in the early stages of the civil war, the Greek communists deliberately co-operated with the Bulgarians, in order to help them exterminate the Greeks, by providing them a sufficient reason (the uprising). Why should the communist react so violently against their own kin remains unexplained, except if we take into account some intentionally distorted views of internationalism. Official "documents" have also been provided, but their falsification was so obvious (imaginary names, wrong dates, incoherent formula and etc.) that they were rejected even by nationalist politicians/historians.

    2. The communists were manipulated by the Bulgarians

    This theory is considered much more reliable and, in fact, it was the prominent one in Greece, till recently. According to it, the communists, because of their naivety and disorganised structure, were the puppets of a Bulgarian plot, orchestrated by Okhrana, the unofficial secret police of the Bulgarian "colonists" in Easter Macedonia and Thrace. More precisely, Okhrana agents, pretending to be either members of the CPB 9Communist Party of Bulgaria) or communist soldiers who despised their fascist regime (Many testimonies confirm that the views of the Bulgarian soldiers were rather different than the ones of their officers. The unequal salaries, as well as the absence of meritocracy were a signifact factor for many incidents, during the Uprising of Drama, where mass executions were avoided, thanks to the unwillingness of soldiers and low-ranked officers), managed to infiltrate the partisan groups, insisting that a revolution against the Bulgarian rule would certainly be successful. They managed to convince the communist leadership that an uprising would encourage a coup d'etat in Sophia and an extended mutiny in the Bulgarian Army.

    The second version is also supported by several testimonies of CPG members who described the involvement of Okhrana in the revolt. Mainly Theocletus Crocus, a member of Drama's Political Committee, insisted that Drama's Secretary of the CPG was greatly influenced by numerous, supposedly communist agents. Chrysa Hatzivasileiou, a high anked member of CPG, with the task of examining why the Committee of Drama misinterpreted the instructions of the Macedonian Bureau about relatively minor operations against the occupying forces, considered the uprising as a well-executed plan of Okhrana. CPG, influenced by these statements and afraid of being blamed for a pointless massacre, did not express clearly its opinion about the events, till the 21st century, when it rejected the previous versions and adopted the third one. Finally, rather expectedly, the right historians also adopted the version of Okhrana's provocation, degrading CPG's role in the Greek Resistance.

    3. The comminists revolted, inspired by a sincere belief for success

    According to the last theory, the Bulgarians were not somehow involved in the preparation of the revolt. On contrary, the communists of Drama, over-trusting the force of a popular revolution, thought that there were considerable possibilities of success. Moreover, because of the Operation Barbarossa, Stalin and Demetrov prompted all the communists in occupied Europe to try to harm the Axis, military invasion. Riots in major, Bulgarian cities had also been reported, reinforcing the hope for a general, mass revolution against the tyrannical regimes of Europe.

    This version is also supported by numerous, communists of Drama (Pashalides, Hatzianastasiou, Constantaras and etc.) who blame their disagreeing ex-partners for a desire to avoid respnisibilies, by accusing Drama's leadership (already dead, as mentioned) of ill-thought manoeuvres. Furthermore, some reports of two, Bulgarian supposedly defected being executed as spies before the Uprising of Drama strengthen the third version even more. Fourthly, the serious casualties of the Bulgarians, during the first stages of the revolt, as well as the fact that many military and political administrators (like Khuzouharov, the first Governor of Belomorie) were later replaced, implies that the Bulgarian authorities were a bit disappointing in handling the situation, something odd in case of a well-planned provocation.

    Finally, like CPG's stance since 2004, no Bulgarian historian ever considered the involvement of Okhrana in Drama's Revolt as a possibility. In fact, after Daskalov's enlightening research of the Bulgarian archives (including the ones of Okhrana), we know that nowhere is mentioned an intervention of Bulgaria, during the preparation of the uprising. On contrary, all the official files describe the events, as an unexpected revolt totally instigated by the Greek communists. As a side note, it should be mentioned that the facts that CPG had already experienced many infiltrations by the agents of Metaxas (1936-1940) and that the contacts between the Communists Parties of Bulgaria and Greece started after 1943, make the version of Okhrana's provocation look pretty unprobable.


    In my opinion, based on the evidence presented above, I believe that the Uprising of Drama was a genuine revolt of the non-Bulgarian citizens of Drama, caused by the extremely harsh rule of Bulgaria in the "New Lands". Due to the pretty difficult communications between the communist organizations and an over-excitement concerning the possibilities of the planned revolution, the reaction of Drama's communists against the Bulgarians was, apparently, a bit excessive. It permitted the Bulgarian Army to commit even more atrocities, with the number of human casualties reaching several thousands.

    With about 60.000 people leaving from Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, 80.000 leaving the region during the occupation and another 20.000 dying either directly, because of the Bulgarian actions, either indirectly (e.g. famine), the human casualties must have surpassed the number of 150.000.
    According to the Bulgarian statistics:
    It confirms a dramatic decline of the Greek population, a significant augmentation of the Bulgarian population and a steady decline of the Turkish population.

    About the uprising, it's undeniable that it caused many human losses, without any significant gain. However, the Revolt of Drama dared to question the still undisputed Axis' rule, making all the Bulgarian attempts for a future integration of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace futile.


    1. Sylvia de Celic, "La Révolution Communiste de Drama", Sciences Ottomanes, Strasbourg, 1953.
    2. Daskalov Georgi, "Dramskoto Vastanie, 1941", Sofia, 1991.
    3. Dimitrov Georgi, "The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov", Hammer and Sickle, London, 1994.
    4. Snock Constantine, "Η Τραγωδία της Δράμας", Muncipality of Drama, Athenes, 1945.
    5. Spyridon Kouzinopoulos, "Μία Παρεξηγημένη Εξέγερση", Kastaniote, Athenes, 2009.
    6. Cola Dragoiceva, "Bulgaria I Belomorieto", Lenin, Plovdiv, 1949
    Last edited by Caillagh de Bodemloze; August 27, 2021 at 10:48 AM.

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