World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Greek Macedonians

Article Id: WHEBN0005351805
Reproduction Date:

Title: Greek Macedonians  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Macedonian Struggle, Macedonia (Greece), Altona East Phoenix, Goumenissa, Macedonian language naming dispute, Dimitrios Karatasos, Haplogroup R-M420
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Greek Macedonians

This article is about ethnic Greek people from Macedonia, Greece. For the ancient people, see ancient Macedonians. For other uses, see Macedonian (disambiguation).
Konstantinos Karamanlis
Total population
est. 3,000,000
Regions with significant populations
 Greece est. 2,500,000[1][2]
 Australia over 100,000 (est. 1965)[3]
 United States over 100,000 (est. 1965)[4]
also and English depending on the residing place
Orthodox Christianity

Macedonians (Greek: Μακεδόνες, Makedónes) are a regional and historical population group of ethnic Greeks, inhabiting or originating from the region of Macedonia, in northern Greece. Today, most live in or around the regional capital city of Thessaloniki, while many have spread across Greece and in the diaspora.


The name Macedonia (Greek: Μακεδονία, Makedonía) comes from the ancient Greek word μακεδνός (Makednos). It is commonly explained as having originally meant "a tall one" or "highlander", possibly descriptive of the people.[5][6] The shorter English name variant Macedon developed in Middle English, based on a borrowing from the French form of the name, Macédoine.[7]



Greek populations have inhabited the region of Macedonia since ancient times. The rise of Macedon, from a small kingdom at the periphery of Classical Greek affairs, to one which came to dominate the entire Hellenic world, occurred under the reign of Philip II. Philip's son, Alexander the Great (356–323 BC), managed to briefly extend Macedonian power not only over the central Greek city-states, but also to the Persian empire, including Egypt and lands as far east as the fringes of India.[8] Alexander's adoption of the styles of government of the conquered territories was accompanied by the spread of Greek culture and learning through his vast empire. Although the empire fractured into multiple Hellenic regimes shortly after his death, his conquests left a lasting legacy, not least in the new Greek-speaking cities founded across Persia's western territories, heralding the Hellenistic period. In the partition of Alexander's empire among the Diadochi, Macedonia fell to the Antipatrid dynasty, which was overthrown by the Antigonid dynasty after only a few years, in 294 BC. The ancient Macedonian language, whether it was a Greek dialect or a sibling language to Greek,[9] was gradually replaced by Attic Greek; the latter came in use from the times of Philip II of Macedon and later evolved into Koine Greek.[10]

After the Roman conquest of the Balkans, the Macedonians were an integral component of the people of the Roman province of Macedonia. Under Roman control and later in the Byzantine Empire the region saw also the influx of many ethnicities (Armenians, Slavs, Aromanians and later Turks) that settled in the area where the indigenous ancient Macedonians lived. The region had also since ancient times a significant Romaniote Jew population.

After the Ottoman conquest and towards the end of the Ottoman era, the term Macedonia came to signify a region in the north of the Greek peninsula different from the previous Byzantine theme. In Ottoman Macedonia, Albanians, Greeks, Jews, Bulgarians and Turks were living together.[11] The matter of the multicultural composition of the people of Macedonia came to be known as the Macedonian Question. Thessaloniki remained the biggest city where the larger part of Macedonians resided.[11][12]

Contribution to the Greek War of Independence

The Greek War of Independence refers to the efforts of the Greeks to establish an independent Greek state, at the time that Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire. The revolution was initially planned and organized through secret organizations, most notable of which the Filiki Eteria, that operated in Greece and other European regions outside the Ottoman Empire. Macedonian Greeks were actively involved in those early revolutionary movements; among the first was Grigorios Zalykis, a writer, who founded the Hellenoglosso Xenodocheio, a precursor of the Filiki Eteria. Even after the end of the Greek national revolution, there were several revolts in Macedonia with all of them having as their stated aim the union of the region with the Kingdom of Greece.[13]

The Greek revolution in Macedonia started in Chalkidiki, where the population was almost entirely Greek.[14] On 28 May 1821, Yussuf Bey of Thessaloniki, alarmed by the danger of a general insurrection, demanded hostages from the region. At the time that his troops arrived at Polygyros, the local insurgents and monks from Mount Athos uprised and killed the Turkish voivod and his guards, compelling the Ottomans to retire to Thessaloniki. Yussuf Bey took the revenge by beheading a bishop, impaling three dignitaries while in durance and imprisoning a lot of Christians in Thessaloniki.[15] The Ottomans also turned Muslims and Jews against the Greeks, stating that the latters intended to exterminate non-Christian populations. That was the first accomplishment of the Greek side under Emmanouel Pappas, who had assumed at the time the title of "General of Macedonia"; he managed to capture Chalkidiki and threaten Thessaloniki but, in June, the Greek forces retreated from Vasilika and were finally superseded.[16] Letters from the period show Pappas either being addressed or signing himself as "Leader and Defender of Macedonia" and is today considered a Greek hero along with the unnamed Macedonians that fought with him.[17] The revolution in Chalkidiki ended on 27 December, with the submission of Mount Athos to the Ottomans.[18]

While conflicts endured for some time in Macedonia, such as the one in Naousa with notable figures being Anastasios Karatasos, Aggelis Gatsos and Zafeirakis Theodosiou, it was the defeat of Pappas that was the turning point in the oppression of the Macedonian revolt in the Greek War of Independence at the time.[19] While the revolution led to the establishment of the independent modern Greek state in the south, which earned international recognition in 1832, Greek resistance movements continued to operate in the territories that remained under Ottoman control, including Macedonia as well as Thessaly, Epirus and Crete.[20] Events of the Russo-Turkish Crimean War in 1854 ignited a new Macedonian revolt that was spawned in Chalkidiki. One of the prime instigators of the revolt was Dimitrios Karatasos, son of Anastasios Karatasos, better known as Tsamis Karatasos or Yero Tsamis.[21][22] The insurrections of the Macedonian Greeks had the support of King Otto of Greece, who thought that liberation of Macedonia and other parts of Greece was possible, hoping on Russian support. The revolt however failed in its part having deteriorated the Greco-Turkish relations for the years to come.[23]

The 1878 revolt was prepared from both the Greek government and the leading Macedonian revolutionaries and took place in southern Macedonia, with large numbers of people from Greek and Vlach communities taking part.[13] In the same year the Principality of Bulgaria was established, which along with the Bulgarian Exarchate started to wield on the Slavic-speaking populations of Macedonia, with the foundation of Bulgarian schools and the affiliation of local churches to the Exarchate; Greek, Serbian and Romanian schools were also founded in several parts. After Greece's defeat in the 1897 Greco-Turkish War, further Bulgarian involvement was encouraged in Macedonian affairs and their bands invaded the region, terrorizing populations of Greek consciousness.[24]

Early 20th century

Further information: Macedonian Struggle and Balkan Wars

On the eve of the 20th century, Macedonians were a Greek minority population in a number of areas inside the multiethnic region of Macedonia, more so away from the coast. They lived alongside Slavic-speaking populations, most of whom had come to be identified as Bulgarians, and other ethnicities such as Jews, Turks, Vlachs and Albanians. However, the ethnic Greeks were the predominant population in the southern zone of the region which comprised the best part of modern Greek Macedonia. Bulgarian actions to exploit the Bulgarian population of Macedonia with the foundation of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization and the influence of the Bulgarian Exarchate on the region, led to the Ilinden Uprising which was shut down by Ottoman forces; these events provoked Greece to help the Macedonians to resist both Ottoman and Bulgarian forces, by sending military officers who formed bands made up of Macedonians and other Greek volunteers, something that resulted in the Macedonian Struggle from 1904–1908, which ended with the Young Turk Revolution.[26][27] According to the 1904 census, conducted by Hüseyin Hilmi Pasha for the Ottoman authorities, the Greeks were the predominant population in the vilayets of Thessaloniki and Monastir, outnumbered in the vilayet of Kosovo by the Bulgarians who formed the majority.[28]

During the Balkan Wars, Thessaloniki became the prize city for the struggling parties, Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia. Greece claimed the southern region which corresponded to that of ancient Macedonia, attributed as part of Greek history, and had a strong Greek presence.[26] Following the Balkan Wars, Greece obtained most of the vilayets of Thessaloniki and Monastir, what is now Greek Macedonia, from the dissolving Ottoman Empire. After World War I and the agreement between Greece and Bulgaria on a mutual population exchange in 1919, the Greek element was reinforced in the region of Greek Macedonia, which acquired a high degree of ethnic homogeneity. During the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey, there was a mass departure of Muslims and some pro-Bulgarian element from Macedonia, with the simultaneous arrival of Greek refugees from Asia Minor and east Thrace, mainly Pontic Greeks. According to the statistics of the League of Nations in 1926, the Greeks comprised 88.8% of the total population, the Slavic-speakers 5.1%, while the remainder was mostly made up of Muslims and Jews.[28]

The Macedonians fought alongside the regular Greek army during the struggle for Macedonia, with many victims from the local population, to resist to the Bulgarian expansionism and pan-Slavic danger.[29][30] There are monuments in Macedonia commemorating the Makedonomachi, the local Macedonian and other Greek fighters, who took part in the wars and died to liberate Macedonia from the Ottoman rule, officially memorialized as heroes.[31][32] Several of the Macedonian revolutionaries that were instrumental in the war later became politicians of the modern Greek state. The most notable of them were writer and diplomat Ion Dragoumis and his father Stephanos Dragoumis, a judge who became Prime Minister of Greece in 1910. The Dragoumis family, originating from Vogatsiko, in the Kastoria region, had a long history of participation in the Greek revolutions with Markos Dragoumis being a member of Filiki Eteria. Heroic stories from the Macedonian struggle were transcribed in many of the novels of Greek writer Penelope Delta, from narratives collected in 1932–1935 by her secretary Antigone Bellou-Threpsiadi, who was herself a daughter of a Macedonian fighter.[33] Ion Dragoumis also wrote about his personal recollections of the Macedonian struggle in his books.

World War II

During the Axis occupation of Greece at World War II, Macedonia suffered thousands of victims due to anti-partisan activity of the German occupying forces and the ethnic cleansing policies of the Bulgarian authorities. The Bulgarian Army entered Greece on 20 April 1941 at the heels of the Wehrmacht and eventually occupied the whole of northeastern Greece east of the Strymon River (East Macedonia and Western Thrace), except for the Evros Prefecture, at the border with Turkey, which was occupied by the Germans. Unlike Germany and Italy, Bulgaria officially annexed the occupied territories, which had long been a target of Bulgarian irredentism, on 14 May 1941.[34]

In Greek Macedonia, Bulgarian policy was that of extermination or expulsion,[35] aiming to forcibly Bulgarize as many Greeks as possible and expel or kill the rest.[36] A massive campaign was launched right from the start, which saw all Greek officials (mayors, judges, lawyers and gendarmes) deported. The Bulgarians closed the Greek schools and expelled the teachers, replaced Greek clergymen with priests from Bulgaria, and sharply repressed the use of the Greek language: the names of towns and places changed to the forms traditional in Bulgarian,[34] and even gravestones bearing Greek inscriptions were defaced.[37]

Large numbers of Greeks were expelled and others were deprived of the right to work by a license system that banned the practice of a trade or profession without permission. Forced labour was introduced, and the authorities confiscated the Greek business property and gave it to Bulgarian colonists.[37] By late 1941, more than 100,000 Greeks had been expelled from the Bulgarian occupation zone.[38][39] Bulgarian colonists were encouraged to settle in Macedonia by government credits and incentives, including houses and land confiscated from the natives.

In this situation, a revolt broke out on 28 September 1941, known as the Drama revolt. It started from the city of Drama and quickly spread throughout Macedonia. In Drama, Doxato, Khoristi and many other towns and villages clashes broke out with the occupying forces. On 29 September Bulgarian troops moved into Drama and the other rebellious cities to suppress the uprising. They seized all men between 18 and 45, and executed over three thousand people in Drama alone. An estimated fifteen thousand Greeks were killed from the Bulgarian occupational army during the next few weeks and in the countryside entire villages were machine gunned and looted.[37]

The massacres precipitated a mass exodus of Greeks from the Bulgarian into the German occupation zone. Bulgarian reprisals continued after the September revolt, adding to the torrent of refugees. Villages were destroyed for sheltering "partisans" who were in fact only the survivors of villages previously destroyed. The terror and famine became so severe that the Athens government considered plans for evacuating the entire population to German-occupied Greece.[40] The Great Famine that broke up in 1941, that killed hundreds of thousands in the occupied country canceled these plans, leaving the population to endure those conditions for another three years. In May 1943 deportation of Jews from the Bulgarian occupation zone began as well.[41] In the same year the Bulgarian army expanded its zone of control into Central Macedonia under German supervision, although this area was not formally annexed nor administered by Bulgaria.

Two of the leading members of the Greek resistance were Macedonians. Evripidis Bakirtzis, a veteran of the Balkan Wars, was commander of Macedonian forces of the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS) during the Axis Occupation of Greece in the period 1941–1944. He became the first president of the Political Committee of National Liberation — also referred to as the "Mountain Government" — an opposition government separate to the royal government-in-exile of Greece. Bakirtzis was succeeded by the second president, jurist Alexandros Svolos (an Aromanian). It was Svolos who attended the Lebanon conference in 1944 when the organization was dissolved in the wake of the formation of the national unity government of Georgios Papandreou, with Svolos later becoming a minister.

Later, during the Greek civil war, the region of Macedonia suffered a lot due to the battles between the Hellenic Army and the Democratic Army.



There has been a documented Greek presence in Macedonia since antiquity. Today, due to the history of the area, there are also some small linguistic communities of Aromanian and Slavic speaking Macedonians, using their various dialects in some social situations, while being identified as ethnic Greeks. After the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey, half of the refugees from Asia Minor, Pontus, and Eastern Thrace settled in the region.[42]


The Greek Macedonians have their own particular cultural heritage, which is classified as a subgroup of the national Greek culture. They admire, along with the ancient Macedonians (especially Alexander the Great), the fighters of the Macedonian struggle as their own primary heroes, in contrast to southern Greeks who mainly praise the southern heroes of the Greek War of Independence. According to late-19th century folklorist Frederick G. Abbott:[43] Template:Cquote The use of the Macedonian flag is very common in the Macedonian population, depicting the Vergina Sun as their regional symbol, while "Famous Macedonia" is an unofficial anthem and military march.[44] They have even some folk dances that bear the name of the region, Makedonia and Makedonikos antikristos.

Gravours of traditional Greek Macedonian costumes.

The overwhelming majority of the Greek Macedonians speak a variant of Greek, called Macedonian (Μακεδονίτικα, Makedonitika). It belongs to the northern dialect group, with phonological and few syntactical differences distinguishing it from standard Greek which is spoken in southern Greece. One of these differences is that the Macedonian dialect uses the accusative case instead of genitive to refer to an indirect object.[45] The Macedonians also have a characteristically heavier accent, which readily identifies a speaker as coming from Macedonia.[46] There is also a minority of Slavic-speakers that predominantly self-identifies as Greek Macedonians, primarily found in West Macedonia.


The strong sense of Macedonian identity among the Greek Macedonians has significant effects in the context of the Macedonia naming dispute.[47] It has led to reactions to the notion of Macedonians and Macedonian language with a non-Greek qualification, as used by the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, during the times of socialist Yugoslavia, and the contemporary Republic of Macedonia. The dispute over the moral right to the use of the name Macedonia and its derivatives traces its origin to the Macedonian question in the 19th and early-20th century between Greece, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. The Greek Macedonians have been objecting to these notions originally fearing territorial claims as they were noted by United States Secretary of State Edward Stettinius in 1944, under president Franklin D. Roosevelt.[48] The dispute continued to be a reason of controversy between the three nations during the 1980s.[49]

The dispute achieved international status after the breakup of Yugoslavia, when the concerns of the Macedonian Greeks rose to extreme manifestations. On 14 February 1992, about one million of Macedonians turned out in the streets of Thessaloniki to demonstrate their objection to the name Macedonia being a part of the name of the then newly established Republic of Macedonia using the slogan "Macedonia is Greek".[50] Following the recognition of the Republic of Macedonia by the United States, another rally was held in Thessaloniki on 31 March 1994, while two major rallies, organized by the Macedonian Greek community in Australia, were held in Melbourne in 1992 and 1994, with around 100,000 people taking part in each of these.[51]

Explicit self-identification as Macedonian is a typical attitude and a matter of national pride for the Greeks originating from Macedonia.[52] Responding to issues about the Macedonia naming dispute as Prime Minister of Greece, Kostas Karamanlis – in a characteristic expression of this attitude – quoted saying in emphasis "I myself am a Macedonian, just as another 2.5 million Greeks are Macedonians" at a meeting of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg in January 2007.[53][54] Both Kostas Karamanlis and his uncle, late former Prime Minister of Greece Konstantinos Karamanlis, are Macedonian ethnic Greeks with origin from Serres. As President of Greece, Konstantinos Karamanlis senior had also expressed his strong sentiments regarding the Macedonian regional identity, most notably in one emotionally charged statement made in 1992.[55]


Part of a series on
By region or country
Greece · Cyprus  · Albania
Italy · Turkey
Greek diaspora
Northern Greeks:
Macedonians · Thessalians · Epirotes
Southern Greeks:
Peloponnesians · Roumeliotes
Eastern Greeks:
Western Micrasiates
(Bithynia, Aeolis, Ionia, Doris)
Pontic · Cappadocians/Karamanlides
Cretans · Eptanesians · Cycladites Dodecanesians · Samiotes · Ikariotes Chiotes · Limniotes · Lesvians
Other sub-groups:
Antiochians · Aromanians
Arvanites/Souliotes · Egyptiot
Grecanici · Maniots · Romaniotes
Sarakatsani · Slavophones
Tsakonians · Urums
Greek culture
Art · Cinema · Cuisine
Dance · Dress · Education
Flag · Language · Literature
Music · Philosophy · Politics
Religion · Sport · Television
Greek Orthodox Church
Greek Roman Catholicism
Greek Byzantine Catholicism
Greek Evangelicalism
Judaism · Islam · Neopaganism
Languages and dialects
Calabrian Greek
Cappadocian Greek
Cretan Greek · Griko
Cypriot Greek
Himariote Greek · Maniot Greek
Pontic Greek · Tsakonian
History of Greece

Australia had been a popular destination for the waves of Macedonian Greek immigrants throughout the 20th century. Their immigration was similar to that of the rest of the Greek diaspora, affected by their socio-economic and political background in their homeland, and has been recorded mainly between 1924–1974. Settlers from West Macedonia were the first to arrive in Australia and dominated the immigration waves until 1954. Macedonian families from the regions of Florina and Kastoria established settlements in rural areas, while people from Kozani settled mainly in Melbourne. Only after 1954, people from Central and East Macedonia began to arrive in Australia. Vasilios Kyriazis Blades from Vythos, a village in the prefecture of Kozani, is believed to be the first Macedonian settler to arrive in Australia and was landed in Melbourne in 1915; his arrival exhorted other people from his village and adjacent Pentalofos to settle in Melbourne, while several families from other districts also settled in Australia, bringing with them hundreds of people in the following decades.[56]

The geographic distribution of Macedonians before World War II differed from the distribution of other Greek settlers. While the Greeks from the islands settled mainly in the eastern states of the country attracting more Greek immigrants there, large portions of Macedonians were concentrated in western Australia. During the first years of their settlement, the Macedonians were dispersed in the Australian countryside close to the metropolitan centers, working as market gardeners, farmhands and woodcutters; there was a significant change of their occupational patterns after 1946, when they began to bring with them their families from Greece.[56] The urbanization process for the Macedonians started after the Great Depression, when the availability of work in urban areas increased, something that led to extended move of Macedonians towards the large cities, especially Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, where they set up their own communities and regional institutions. While the majority of the settlers were indigenous Macedonians, there were also small numbers of Pontic Greeks coming from the region of Macedonia, who did not share the same regional identity and founded distinct institutions.[57]

After World War II greater numbers from all parts of Macedonia entered Australia, many of them as refugees due to the Greek Civil War. These new waves of immigrants resulted in crowded communes and over sixty Macedonian organizations were established in the country, the most prominent of which is the Pan-Macedonian Federation of Australia, the peak umbrella organization. Apart from its regional character, the federation also serves as the voice of the Greek Macedonian communities in Australia and has taken active role in the Macedonia naming dispute.[57] Its headquarters is in Melbourne, where the non-profit organization of Pan-Macedonian Association of Melbourne and Victoria was established in 1961,[58] while the federation is also active in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.[59] According to an estimate in 1988, there were around 55,000 Macedonians in Australia.[60]

Other large Greek Macedonian communities can also be found particularly in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. The main institutions which were established by some of these communities or are closely affiliated with them are:

Pan-Macedonian Association USA, founded in 1947 in New York City by Greek Americans whose origin were from Macedonia to unite all the Macedonian communities of the United States, works to collect and distribute information on the land and people of Macedonia, organize lectures, scientific discussions, art exhibitions, educational and philanthropic activities, while they have founded wink in the Library of New York University with books about the Macedonian history and culture. Additionally, they promote the social welfare and educational advancement of the inhabitants of Macedonia.[61][62] The Pan-Macedonian Association of Canada is the association's branch for the Greek Canadians of Macedonian origin.[63]

The Macedonian Society of Great Britain, founded in 1989 in London by Macedonian immigrants, promotes the Macedonian history, culture and heritage, organizes lectures and presentations, as well as social events and gatherings for the British Greeks.[64]

Panhellenic Macedonian Front, a Greek political party founded in 2009 by politician Stelios Papathemelis and professor Kostas Zouraris to run for the 2009 European Parliament elections, which is affiliated with several Macedonian diaspora organizations.[65]

Notable modern Macedonians

Gallery of Macedonians

Ancient era

Byzantine and Ottoman era

Greek War of Independence

See also


External links

  • Pan-Macedonian Association of Melbourne and Victoria
Template:Greek Macedoniabg:Македонци#Преобладаващ възглед в Гърция
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.