Runtime: 52 minutes
Пандора - Independent Macedonia (1944) - Netflix
In September 1944, Nazi Germany briefly sought to establish an Independent State of Macedonia a puppet state in the territory of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia that had been occupied by the Kingdom of Bulgaria following the invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941. When Soviet Union forces approached the borders of Bulgaria near the end of August 1944, Bulgaria declared neutrality and briefly sought to negotiate with the Western Allies. As the Bulgarian government was not impeding the withdrawal of German forces from Bulgaria or Romania, the Soviet Union treated it with suspicion. On 2 September a new pro-Western government took power in Sofia, only to be replaced a week later by a pro-communist government after a Fatherland Front–led revolt. However, on 5 September 1944, the Soviets declared war on Bulgaria. The person that the Germans turned to in order to implement this scheme was Ivan Mihailov. Mihailov was a Bulgarophile right-wing politician and former leader of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) that had been engaged in terrorist activity in Yugoslav and Greek Macedonia. Mihailov had become leader of IMRO in 1927 and under his leadership the organisation had joined forces with the Croatian Ustaše in 1929. The two organisations had planned and executed the assassination of King Alexander of Yugoslavia in 1934. After the military coup d'état in the same year IMRO was banned by the authorities. Mihailov fled to Turkey and then Italy, where most of the Ustaše were also in exile. After the invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, Mihailov had moved to Zagreb where he had acted as an advisor to Ante Pavelić. In January 1944 he had successfully lobbied the Germans to arm some Ohrana supporters and have them placed under Schutzstaffel (SS) command in Greek Macedonia, which had also been annexed by the Bulgarians in 1941. In 1928, Mihailov proposed a plan calling for the unification of the region of Macedonia into a single state, that would be autonomous from Bulgaria. He was a proponent of a pro-Bulgarian United Macedonian multi–ethnic state, calling it: “Switzerland of the Balkans”. During the last phase of the Second World War he tried to realise his plan with German political collaboration, however he abandoned the implementation of this idea due to the lack of real military support. Despite this, an independent state was declared by Macedonian nationalists on 8 September 1944. Without the means to make the state a reality, this pretence dissolved as soon as the Yugoslav Partisans asserted their control following the withdrawal of German troops from the area by mid-November. This event marked the defeat of the Bulgarian nationalism and the victory of the Macedonism in the area.
Пандора - Background - Netflix
The Kingdom of Bulgaria officially joined the Axis Powers on 1 March 1941 but remained passive during the invasion of Yugoslavia and the majority of the invasion of Greece. The Yugoslav government surrendered on 17 April 1941 and the Greek government surrendered on 30 April 1941. Before the Greek government capitulated, on 20 April, the Bulgarian Army entered Greece and Yugoslavia with the goal of gaining access to the Aegean Sea in Thrace and Eastern Macedonia. The Bulgarians occupied much of what is today the Republic of Macedonia as well as parts of Southern Serbia and Northern Greece. Unlike Germany and Italy, Bulgaria officially annexed the occupied areas, which had long been a target of Bulgarian nationalism on 14 May 1941. However, the Germans regarded this annexation as inconclusive and imposed limited sovereignty of Bulgaria over the occupied territories. At that time, among the local population the pro-Bulgarian feelings still prevailed and the Macedonian national identity hardly existed. Because of that, initially the Bulgarians were welcomed as liberators. In this way Vardar Macedonia was the only region where the Yugoslav communist leader Josip Broz Tito had not developed a strong Partisan movement in until the Autumn of 1943. During the Summer of 1943 in the Battle of Kursk for the first time a German strategic offensive had been halted and though the Soviet Army had succeeded in its first successful strategic summer offensives of the war. In the late July, Mussolini was arrested and spirited off to the island of Ponza. The situation of the Axis Powers became crucial. As result in the early August 1943, Ivan Mihailov left Zagreb for Germany where he was invited to visit the main headquarters of Hitler. Here he spoke to Adolf Hitler and other top German leaders. The content of the conversations is almost unknown. Additionally, in Sofia talks were held between high-ranking functionaries of the SS and the IMRO Central Committee members. On 14 August 1943, a few days before his death, King Boris III also met with Adolf Hitler in Germany. During the talks, Hitler has argued the need an autonomous Macedonia to be created into the frames of the Bulgarian Kingdom, with Mihailov as its head. Boris III agreed with this proposal. Hitler also desperately wanted to convince Boris III to declare war on the Soviet Union and to transfer most of the Bulgarian army on the Eastern and on the Italian fronts. For that purpose the IMRO militias had to take the functions of the Bulgarian army in the Newly liberated lands in Greece and Yugoslavia. After Boris' subsequent dead this plans failed. However, it was apparent that Ivan Mihailov had broader plans, which envisaged the creation of independent Macedonian state under German control. IMRO began also active to organise pro-Bulgarian militias in former Italian and German occupation zones in Greece. Bulgaria looked with anxiety on this activities of Mihailov, because it feared that his plan to form “Independent Macedonia” could succeed. Aiming to put him under control Bulgaria set aside his death sentence and he was proposed to return to the country and to take a leading position in Vardar Macedonia, but Mihailov rejected that proposal.
Meanwhile, the Bulgarians, who staffed the new provinces with corrupted officials from Bulgaria proper began to lose the public confidence. This process accelerated after the King's dead which concurred with the capitulation of Italy and the Soviet victories over the Nazi Germany in the Summer of 1943. On this basis, the Yugoslav communists, who supported the recognition of a separate Macedanian nation, managed to organize an earnest armed resistance against the Bulgarian forces in the Autumn of 1943. Many former IMRO right-wing activists assisted the authorities in fighting Tito's partizans. In the August 1944, the Soviet Army was approaching the Balkans. On the other hand, at the same time, the Yugoslav Partisans, who “articulated the slogan of Macedonian unification”, increased their activities in Macedonia. As result, the Anti-Fascist Assembly for the People's Liberation of Macedonia declared the foundation of an independent Macedonia on 2 August 1944. The state was proclaimed in the Bulgarian occupation zone of Yugoslavia. On 23 August, Romania left the Axis Powers, declared war on Germany, and allowed Soviet forces to cross its territory to reach Bulgaria. At that time, Bulgaria made a drive to find separate peace, repudiating any alliance with Nazi Germany, and declared neutrality on 26 August. However, its secret negotiations with the Allies in Cairo, to allow it to retain the annexed areas in Greece and Yugoslavia failed, because Bulgaria was “not in a position to argue”.
Пандора - References - Netflix