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The Life of Christo Matov



Christo Matov was born in March 1872, in the city of Struga, in western Macedonia. Upon receiving his education in the Bulgarian schools in Macedonia, he chose as his career the profession of teaching. In 1895, while in Salonica, Matov was initiated into the IMRO by Gruev. His education warranted his appointment as director of the Bulgarian pedagogical school of Skopie. As head of this important school he attained the unusual influence in the entire district. With the cooperation of Petar Matsanov, Stefan Petrov, and Vladimir Boyadjiev, he established the local revolutionary committee of Skopie. Matov's influence and activity in the Skopie district was of great consequence upon the growth of the IMRO. In less than a year as head of the Bulgarian school of Skopie, he succeeded in organizing, with the cooperation of other men from various localities, a revolutionary committee in each and every town and village in the district of Skopie. In 1898 he was elected as member of the Central Revolutionary Committee in Salonica. As such he was the first to suggest the organization of armed revolutionary bands for each district in Macedonia. His idea was accepted and applied by the Central Committee and its results have been astounding. With the organization of the armed revolutionary chetas in the various districts thruout Macedonia , the IMRO became a fighting and retaliative force. Matov is also credited with formation of the village chetas or militia. The latter became, as we shall see below, an indispensable force and by the cooperation with the active bands of the IMRO many daring undertakings were carried out.

As director of the Bulgarian pedagogical school and as inspector of the other Bulgarian schools of the Skopie Exarchy, Matov had, virtually, complete power in the appointment of teachers in the various grades of schools in the Exarchy of Skopie. It was primarily due to this fact that the progress of the IMRO particularly in the Vilayet of Skopie, during the years of 1895-1896, and 1897-898, was markedly great. As regional leader of the revolutionary movement in Skopie, and as member of the Central revolutionary Committee in Salonica, Matov was subjected not only to numerous imprisonments but also was marked to be killed "In Skopie and Salonica," he wrote,"by the Servians and Greeks (1895-1900), and in Sofia, during 1912, by the Turks."

While in Skopie, Matov was almost invariably put under arrest and kept as prisoner in Kourshoumly-Hann, the local Skopie jail, for every political disturbance in that district. In 1901, when the Salonica outrage occurred, he was imprisoned in Edy-Koule, the famous fortress-prison of Salonica, the Bastille of Macedonia. He was exiled to Podroum-Kale, Asia Minor. There he found Gruev and Toshev both also in exile. In 1902, as a result of a general amnesty, he was released and allowed to return to Salonica. Soon after, he left Macedonia and went to Sofia as representative of the Central Committee of the IMRO abroad.

All thru the period of his revolutionary activity, Matov did not neglect his literary work. He was acknowledged constitutionalist of the Macedonian movement. All of his literary works are concerned about the Macedonian struggle for freedom and independence. He is the author of several books and a number of pamphlets, the following of which are the most important: (1) Za Oustroystvoto na Vatreshnata Organizatsiya, (2) Vostanicheski Deystvia, (3) Za Oupravlenieto na Vatreshnata Organizatsiya , (4) Osnovi na Vatreshnata Revolutsiona Organizatsiya, (5) Shto Behme -Shto Sme, (6) Repressaly Protiv Gratskata Propaganda, etc. , etc. He also wrote a number of poems while in prison. His best poem is the Vinishkata Pesen , which became the marching-song of the Macedonian Revolutionary chetas. While in Edy-koule, the Salonica prison, Matov composed the following famous poems: Zatochenik (The Exile) and Mayka i Sin (Mother and Son). Besides the above literary works he wrote several olemics and delivered numerous lectures. Because of the development of political conditions in Macedonia, particularly under the Young Turks' regime, he was compelled to emigrate to bulgaria. Matov died in sofia on February 10, 1922. He was the last of the original leaders that brought about the organization and development of the IMRO. He lived to witness the vicissitudes of the struggling Macedonian people during and after the cataclysms of 1912-13 and 1914-18. His name will figure in the annals of the Macedonian revolutionary movement as one of the greatest exponents of a free and independent Macedonian State.

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