Strumitza, Macedonia … or Bulgaria?

September 12, 1915 / August 1913: Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden (Aide Association of German Jews) was informed that the town of Strumitza in Macedonia, anticipating Bulgarian occupation, was set on fire and its inhabitants and fled. One hundred families went to Salonica and Doiran.  There seems to be some dispute over the actual date the fire occured.  Mitch Levin, who writes a copious history of daily events in Jewish history asserts in his blog, “This Day in Jewish History” that this event occured sometime in 1915.  However, both Wikipedia and Paul Mojzes in his book, “Balkan Genocides:  Holocaust and Ethnic Cleansing in the Twentieth Century” claim the fire occured in August of 1913.

Bulgaria had occupied Strumitza, a town located in Macedonia, for most of the first half of the 20th century.

In the Second Balkan War (1913), the Balkan allies fought for partition of Macedonia and Bulgaria was defeated. However, according to the Bucharest Peace Treaty (28 July 1913) Strumitza stayed under the rule of Bulgaria. The Greek armies, stationed in Strumitza, were revolted by the decision for withdrawal and set the town and other nearby villages on fire. According to Mojzes, the fires burned for 8 days in August 1913, when more than 1,900 public buildings, private houses and other constructions, including  were burnt. A monastery in the village of Veljusa was burnt to the ground.

Strumitza stayed under the rule of Bulgaria until 1919 (when with the Versailles Peace Treaty the First World War was over) then entered the Kingdom of SHS (Serbs, Croats and Slovenes; from 1929, Kingdom Yugoslavia). From 1929 to 1941, Strumitza was part of the Vardar Banovina of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

On 6 April 1941, the first day of the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia, Strumitza was captured by the German Army and, as Bulgaria was allied with Germany, Strumitza was turned over under occupation of the Bulgarian armies on 18 April 1941.

Shown here is a cover from the World War I period, sent from Strumitza, Macedonia to Sofia, Bulgaria in 1914.  The cover is franked with a Bulgarian regular issue postage stamp and the reverse side has 2 Postage Due stamps.  Both sides were hand-cancelled with Bulgarian postmarks.

strumitza cover

strumitza cover - reverse

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