Book Summary

За Българския текст на резюмето Натисни тук

Yordan Tomov Chkatrov was born on 04.04.1897 in the town of Prilep (a territory in Macedonia today) in a poor family of a stonemason. He studied in a primary school in Prilep and a secondary school in the Bulgarian schools in Bitola and Skopje. During the first Serbian regime (1912-1915) he participated in youth group that sabotaged the Serbian government and administration in the town of Prilep. As a high school student in liberated Skopje (1916- 1918) he was active in all patriotic events. At the celebrations in his school and his town he presented passionate speeches, one of which was awarded with a medal. In the summer of 1918 a representative group of Skopje high school youth took a trip to perform concerts in the towns of Nis, Leskovac, Pirot, Kyustendil and Sofia. Yordan Chkatrov participated with recitations, gymnastic games, and personal greetings to the Bulgarian military and civilian administration and to the residents of these towns. In Kyustendil he addressed the current army chief General Nikola Zhekov with strong patriotic words. In Sofia he did the same to Prince Boris and to the national poet Ivan Vazov. He participated in the First World War in its last two months and after its disastrous end he stayed in Sofia, where he began studying law at Sofia University.

Chkatrov was one of the founders of the Macedonian student union “Vardar”. Being an active figure there he was its second chairman, after Ivan Michailov, in the years 1921-1922. He was also a very active member of Prilep brotherhood in Sofia, Macedonian Youth Union. He manifested as a fiery orator of all protests and marches organized by the Macedonian emigrants in Bulgaria. He became assistant and associate of Todor Aleksandrov and performed responsible tasks of IMRO in its fight against its enemies. He created one of the first fives of MYSRO - in the city of Vienna in 1923.

With the personal recommendation of Todor Aleksandrov he went to the US, where he was MPO chair during the period 1924-1927. There he manifested remarkable organizational and oratorical abilities again and was able to build on existing structures of long-term organization of the Macedonian Bulgarians who immigrated to North America. He participated in three of its congresses; he did three tours and instantly created several new local structures. He became the manager, beloved and coveted by all. Under his leadership, was organized a high-level propaganda activity and began the issuing of “Macedonian Tribune”, a newspaper that still exists.

After his return to Sofia in 1927, Chkatrov remained with the status of Secretary of MPO and got involved in the work of IMRO. He became assistant and conceptual supporter of his friend and head of the Central Committee, Ivan Michailov. Chkatrov strongly supported him in his fight against the wing of Protogerov and the former missions of the IMRO. After the death of Protogerov, Chkatrov was against the so called “Protogerovists”, and later against the group of P. Shandanov, P. Traikov and Kr. Poptodorov. In the raging strife of 1928-1934, he was not involved in any murder among the rival factions. He publicly condemned the combat, and even participated in several conciliation commissions. He escaped miraculously from an assassination attempt.

In 1929 Chkatrov visited the United States for several months and managed to attract almost half of local organizations of MPO on the side of Ivan Michailov. He was participant in all annual congresses of the organization of the Macedonian brotherhoods in Bulgaria, where he delivered speeches, which were published in the newspaper “Macedonia” because of their importance. He discussed important issues regarding Macedonian liberation movement with supporters of IMRO at crowded meetings of the Brotherhood organizations in Petrich, Sv. Vrach, Melnik, Nevrokop, Bansko, Razlog, Yakoruda, Kyustendil, Vidin, Sofia. He was a favorite speaker in all celebrations and events of the Macedonian youth organizations in Sofia. He regularly published his articles in various newspapers and magazines. In 1932 he was elected as a reserve member of the Central Committee of IMRO and remained such until 1934.

Chkatrov is one of the governing members of IMRO activists who was maintaining contacts of the organization with the Italian, Hungarian and Croatian nationalist organizations that were sympathetic and cooperating with the IMRO. For several years he was in a close relationship with Boleslav Tahauer, a press attaché at the Hungarian embassy in Sofia, and with his help Chkatrov interacted with the Hungarians. In 1929 he was in contact with Ante Pavelic and other leaders of the Croatian resistance movement “Ustasha”. In 1934, after the May 19 coup, together with other leaders and activists of IMRO, Chkatrov was arrested and until 1938 he was interned in Sevlievo, Elena, and Borisovgrad or closed in the prison in Sofia. He was constantly monitored by the police and got a file for him was recorded. Despite the police control, Chkatrov was able to liaise with Ivan Michailov, who after the coup in 1934 was a political refugee in Turkey and stayed there until 1938.

In 1938 Chkatrov managed to immigrate to Belgium, where he resided until 1939. Then, he moved to Geneva and graduated with a law degree in 1942. In the late spring of 1939, he visited Michailov, who in the meantime managed to leave Turkey and to get residence in Poland. They planed actions for the recovery of IMRO and the use of political division and confrontation in Europe for a new international promotion of the Macedonian question. In December 1942 Chkatrov revisited Michailov, who was then residing in Zagreb, with the material and political support of his friend Ante Pavelic, head of the independent Croatian state. There, he met his brother Dimitar Chkatrov and his collaborator Stephen Svetiev, representatives of the group “Chkatrov- Gjuzelov” that was cooperating with the Bulgarian authorities in Vardar Macedonia, after its accession to the Kingdom of Bulgaria in April 1941. This time some disturbances appeared in the relations between Chkatrov and Michailov due to different estimates and ideas for the future of Macedonia.

Chkatrov went on a different route and distanced from IMRO of Ivan Michailov. He and his longtime friend Cyril Drangov, who was at that time a lawyer in Skopje, formed a group which did not share the idea of Michailov to fight for a new autonomous Macedonia. However, he participated in several meetings of the group “Chkatrov-Gjuzelov” and political meetings and gatherings of the Bulgarian administration in Macedonia with visiting representatives of the central government in Sofia. In 1944, he received an offer by Dobri Bozhilov to enter the newly ministerial office in Bulgaria, but he refused to become a Minister of Foreign Affairs. This proposal made much speculation by various historians later, as well as the information about his meeting with Rudolf Hess in 1939 in Berlin, for which we have no data.

At the end of 1944 in contact with him, on their own initiative, got involved in a meeting with representatives of the Macedonian Communist Party (MCP) - Metodi Andonov, a.k.a Chento and Ljupco Arsov. At the meeting Chkatrov insisted for the inclusion in the future management of postwar Macedonia by some representatives of IMRO, and that was rejected by the pro-Serb leaders of the MCP. Despite their promise not to impinge on him after coming on power, they arrogantly betrayed that word and arrested him along with his brother and several thousand Macedonian Bulgarians. They accused all of them as cooperators of the Bulgarian government. After 2 years in prison, after a process in January 1946, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Prior to that his brother, D. Chkatrov, was sentenced to death and executed. As the only way to resist the cruel actions of Serbian communists, Chkatrov chose the hunger strike and after 27 days from the beginning of it, he died in November 1946 in the Skopje prison. He was buried in the cemetery in Skopje and after a while his remains were reburied in Prilep.

With his active work as an organizer, journalist, propagandist and leader of IMRO in the period from 1919 to 1946, Chkatrov established himself as a major figure of IMRO in its fight to preserve the Bulgarian character of the Macedonian Slav population in Vardar Macedonia. He worked hard to rescue it from Serbian assimilation and the creation of an independent Macedonian state as a second Bulgarian state in the Balkans without Serbian dominance and priority participation of the Bulgarian population in its management, with the Bulgarian Church and Bulgarian education. His conscious sacrifice against Serbian-Macedonian power and against the imposition of Macedonism can be compared to the feat of Petleshkov who got burnt between two fires of the Turkish oppressors, but kept the Bulgarian name and national honor.