Anti-fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia

The Anti-fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia (Macedonian: Антифашистичко собрание за народно ослободување на Македонија (АСНОМ), Antifašističko sobranie za narodno osloboduvanje na Makedonija; Serbo-Croatian: Antifašističko sobranje narodnog oslobođenja Makedonije; abbr. ASNOM) was the supreme legislative and executive people's representative body of the communist Macedonian state from August 1944 until the end of World War II. The body was set up by the Macedonian Partisans during the final stages of the World War II in Yugoslav Macedonia. That occurred clandestinely in August 1944, in the Bulgarian occupation zone of Yugoslavia. Simultaneously another state was declared by pro-Nazi Germany Macedonian right-wing nationalists.


Delegates arriving on the first plenary session of ASNOM

First session (under occupation)Edit


Monument of the First Plenary Session of ASNOM in Skopje

The first plenary session of ASNOM was convened underground on the symbolic date of August 2 (Ilinden uprising day) 1944 in the St. Prohor Pčinjski Monastery, now in Serbia. The Monastery and surrounding area, which are part of the region of Macedonia, were transferred from SR Macedonia to SR Serbia in 1947. The most important assembly decisions are the proclamation of a Macedonian nation-state of ethnic Macedonians and Macedonian as the official language of the Macedonian state. The citizens of Macedonia, regardless of their ethnic affiliation, would be guaranteed all civil rights, as well as the right to their mother tongue and confession of faith.

The first session was opened with the anthem of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) "Rise up dayspring of the freedom", which became also the anthem of the newly proclaimed republic. However, in the next year it was banned by the authorities as bulgarophile sentiment. The Assembly issued a Manifesto which described the situation in the Vardar Banovina under the old Yugoslavia as that of a colony. The manifesto issued by ASNOM's first session also explicitly stated its hope for the "unification of the whole Macedonian people", i.e., in the whole of the geographical region of Macedonia.


The presiding committee of ASNOM was dominated by elements that were not known for their pro-Yugoslav sentiments. Panko Brashnarov (a former member of IMRO) chaired (as the oldest member) the inaugural meeting and Metodija Andonov-Čento was elected president. Both wanted greater independence for the future republic. They saw joining Yugoslavia as a form of second Serbian dominance over Macedonia and preferred membership in a Balkan Federation or else complete independence. Čento and partly Brashnarov clashed with Svetozar Vukmanović-Tempo, Josip Broz Tito’s envoy to Macedonia. One of the contributors in the Assembly was Kiro Gligorov, later the first President of the Republic of Macedonia.[1] According to some researchers the first session was manipulated by the pro-Yugoslav representatives, and the presence of more than 50% of the elected delegates is questionable.[2]


In early September, Nazi Germany briefly sought to establish a puppet state called independent Macedonia. However, the state was de facto not established due to the lack of any military support. Despite this, it was declared by Macedonian right nationalists on 8 September. After Bulgaria switched sides in the war on September 9, the Bulgarian 5th. The army stationed in Macedonia, moved back to the old borders of Bulgaria. In early October the newly formed Bulgarian People's Army together with the Red Army reentered occupied Yugoslavia. The Germans were driven off from Vardar Macedonia in late November by the Bulgarian Army[3][4][5][6][7] with the help of the Macedonian Partisans.[8][9]

Second sessionEdit

The ASNOM became officially operational in December, shortly after the German retreat. During this session Lazar Koliševski, the new leader of the Communist Party of Macedonia, was declared the first deputy of Čento in the ASNOM presidency during the second session of this assembly on 28–31 December. In September 1944, Koliševski, who was a prisoner, was freed by the new Bulgarian pro-communist government. At the same session a decision was taken a tribunal to be created, that will judge "the collaborators of the occupiers who have panned the Macedonian name and the Macedonian national honor".[10]

Third sessionEdit

On the third session held in April 1945, the body transformed itself into a republican Parliament. Čento was replaced by Kolishevski, who started fully implementing the pro-Yugoslav line. Kolisevski strongly supported the promotion of a distinct ethnic Macedonian identity and language in SR Macedonia.[11] ASNOM formed a committee to standardize Macedonian and its alphabet. In December 1944 ASNOM rejected the first committee's recommendations as pro-Bulgarian. It formed a second committee, whose recommendations were accepted in April 1945. The (second) committees' recommendations were strongly influenced by the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet.


From the start of the new Yugoslavia, accusations surfaced that new authorities in Macedonia were involved in retribution against people who did not support the formation of the new Yugoslav Macedonian republic. The numbers of dead "counter-revolutionaries" and "collaborators" due to organized killings during the Bloody Christmas and afterwards, however is unclear. At the end of 1944, the law for the protection of the Macedonian national honour was passed by SR Macedonia's government, for which the Presidium of ASNOM created a special court to implement it, persecuting Bulgarian individuals.[12][13] Besides, many people went throughout the labor camp of Goli Otok in the middle 1940s.[14] This chapter of Macedonia's history was a taboo subject for conversation in the SFRY until the late 1980s, and as a result, decades of official silence created a reaction in the form of numerous data manipulations for nationalist, communist propaganda purposes.[15] In the last years the number of the victims was put forward to 50 000, including those killed, imprisoned, deported, sent to forced labor, tortured, etc.[16] At that time, the ASNOM's first leaders Čento, Pavel Shatev and Brashnarov were purged from their positions, then isolated, arrested and imprisoned on fabricated charges, as foreign agents, having pro-Bulgarian leanings, demanding greater independence, collaborating with the Cominform, forming of conspirative political groups, demanding greater democracy and the like.[17]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Interview, "Utrinski vesnik" daily newspaper, issue 1497, August 31, 2006 Skopje, Republic of Macedonia Archived May 30, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Only 60 of the designated 115 delegates were formally present there, but part of them were with questionable credentials. In fact 60 delegates voted at the meeting, but 26 of those who voted were authorized by other delegates who were not present there, so the actual number present delegates is not clear. Moreover Nova Makedonija in its issues from 11—14 January, 1979, has maintained the number of the designated delegates was 122, and in this way there wasn't a real quorum. For more see: Мичев, Добрин. Партизанското движение във Вардарска Македония, 1941–1944 г. сп. Македонски преглед, МНИ, кн. 2, София, 1995, стр. 5–40; Палешутски, Костадин. Югославската комунистическа партия и македонският въпрос, 1919 – 1945, Изд. на Българската Академия на Науките, София, 1985, стр. 319. Веселин Ангелов (2003) Македонската кървава Коледа (Създаване и утвърждаване на Вардарска Македония като република в югославската федерация. (1943 – 1946), ISBN 9548008777, стр. 67-68.
  3. ^ By the end of November, almost all of Macedonia and Serbia had been liberated and cleansed of German units. The Bulgarian army is largely responsible for achieving this goal. A military contingent of more than 450,000 troops participated in the campaign. Even though the Bulgarian offensive was undertaken with the cooperation of the Yugoslav Liberation Army, as all observers at the time noted, the latter's forces were absolutely insufficient and without Bulgarian participation, defeating the enemy would have been impossible. Another thing noted at the time was the wholly upright behavior of Bulgarian troops in Macedonia and Serbia. After conquering a given territory, the army turned over control to the new administration that was being formed from the ranks of the Yugoslav opposition. In contradiction to preliminary expectations, it was found that on the whole the local population, especially in urban areas, calmly accepted the Bulgarian military presence in the region. This generally positive attitude was connected to the idea of a future federation between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria that was beginning to be promoted. For more see: Ivaylo Znepolski et al., Bulgaria under Communism, Routledge Histories of Central and Eastern Europe, Routledge, 2018, ISBN 1351244892.
  4. ^ Military realities, however, made this incident look very ironic indeed, for Skopje was liberated by Bulgarian forces, while the Macedonian Partisans remained in the surrounding hills, and came down only to celebrate their entrance to the city. Similar scenes occurred in many other towns of Macedonia and Serbia, pointing to the fact that, from a military perspective the Russians were right: the Bulgarian army was the only force capable of driving the Germans quickly from Yugoslavia. Needless to say, the official Macedonian historiography, written mainly by Apostolski himself, understandably played down the crucial role of the Bulgarians. The glorification of the Partisan movement, an essential component of the post-war Yugoslav political culture-and more personal Partisan considerations left little room for such “technicalities”... For information on the military situation in Macedonia and Serbia and the role of the Bulgarian army see FO 371/43608, R17271, 24/11/1944; FO 371/44279, R16642,14/10/1944; FO 371/43630, R19495, 24/11/1944; WO 208, 113B, 12/9/1944. The sources, which contain intelligence reports from BLOs, confirm the decisive role of the Bulgarian army in the liberation of Skopje, Nis, Prilep, and the Morava Valley. For more see: Dimitris Livanios, The Macedonian Question: Britain and the Southern Balkans 1939–1949, Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2008; ISBN 9780199237685, p. 134.
  5. ^ For a detailed description of the German withdrawal from Greece through Macedonia and the central Balkans to Bosnia… see the account by one of the participants, Erich Schmidt-Richberg, „Der Endkampf auf dem Balkan“. General Schmidt-Richberg was chief of staff of Army Group E, deployed in Greece... The Yugoslavs' main criticism of the book was that it did not mention the Partisan units that fought the Germans as soon as they entered Yugoslav territory in Macedonia. Schmidt-Richberg only mentioned Bulgarian divisions, which had changed camps and were now fighting the Germans. But the Yugoslavs claimed that the main burden of fighting the Germans was theirs and that the Bulgarians did not have their heart in fighting their erstwhile allies. The claim applies to Partisan operations in the area between the Greek frontier on the south and the Drina River on the northwest – Macedonia, Southern Serbia, Kosovo and Sndjak. It is interesting to note that in a series of maps from Army Group E on its withdrawal through Macedonia and Serbia toward the Drina River and Bosnia, there is almost no indications on Yugoslav Partisan units… The contribution of Bulgarian troops in fighting the Germans in the fall of 1944 in Macedonia and Serbia is still much debated between Yugoslav and Bulgarian military historians. For more see: Jozo Tomasevich, War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941-1945: Occupation and Collaboration. Volume 2, Stanford University Press, 2002, ISBN 0804779244, pp. 751-752.
  6. ^ Soviet arrogance was evident at all levels of the Red Army, beginning with its commander in chief. Stalin told Tito at a meeting that the Bulgarian army (which switched sides in the war in September 1944) was superior to Partisans, praising the professionalism of its officers. This was a pure provocation from the Soviet leader. The Bulgarians were Partisan wartime foes, and regardless of whether it was true, Stalin meant to put the assertive Yugoslav leadership in its place by insulting Tito's proudest achievement: his army. Furthermore, the Red Army's operational maps often excluded Partisan units, indicating the command's failure to even acknowledge that Yugoslavs played any role in the defeat of the Germans in the country. Further below in the chain of command, Partisan commanders had to appeal to the Red Army's political departments to include in their public statements the fact that Belgrade was liberated jointly by the Red Army and Partisans and not just by the Soviets, as well as to cease treating the Partisans as unknowledgeable and as a second-rate army. For more see: Majstorović, Vojin. “The Red Army in Yugoslavia, 1944–1945.” p. 414 in Slavic Review, vol. 75, no. 2, 2016, pp. 396–421. JSTOR.
  7. ^ "By 23 October the Bulgarians had reached the vicinity of Podujevo, in the north-eastern corner of Kosovo; another Bulgarian force was also closing on Kumanovo, a strategically important town just to the north-east of Skopje. For a crucial period of a fortnight, however, this front remained more or less static. This was thanks to two factors: the disruption of the Bulgarian army by the sudden removal (at Russian insistence) of its old officer corps, and the dogged resistance of the Scholz Group, which was assisted by up to 5,000 Albanians in the Prishtina-Mitrovica area (of whom some belonged to the security force recruited in Albania by Xhafer Deva, and 700 were members of the Skanderbeg division) as well as some local Chetnik formations. The Germans formed a plan for the orderly evacuation of their forces, which they were able to carry out on schedule, abandoning Skopje on 11 November, destroying installations at the Trepcha mine on the 12th and leaving Prishtina on the 19th, from where they retreated north-westwards into Bosnia. Accounts of these events published in post-war Yugoslavia give the impression that the Germans were driven out by the Partisans, who 'liberated' the cities of Kosovo by force. There was some fighting by a combined force of Yugoslav and Albanian Partisans in Western Kosovo, mainly against the remnants of the Skanderbeg division; but these actions were quite insignificant compared with the Soviet-Bulgarian advance. The war diary of the commander of the German Army Group 'E', with its detailed day-by-day record of military actions in Kosovo, contains hardly any references to Partisan actions at all. The general pattern was that the towns in Western Kosovo were 'liberated', i.e. taken over by Partisan forces, only after the Germans and their auxiliaries had left; in Eastern Kosovo it was the Soviet and Bulgarian forces (with some Yugoslav Partisans attached to them) who took over, also after the Germans had got out." For more, see Noel Malcolm, Kosovo: A Short History, New York University Press, 1998, pp. 310-313, ISBN 0814755984.
  8. ^ Volume 5 of Istoria na Bŭlgarite, Author Georgi Bakalov, TRUD Publishers, 2007, ISBN 954-621-235-0, p. 567.
  9. ^ Bulgarian-Yugoslavian political relations, 1944–1945, Georgi Daskalov, Kliment Ohridski University, 1989, p. 113.
  10. ^ Кочанковски, Јован,Битола и Битолско во Народноослободителната и антифашистичка воjна на Македонија (1941–1945), том 2: 1944–1945, с. 427
  11. ^ Bernard A. Cook, Europe Since 1945: An Encyclopedia, Taylor & Francis, 2001, ISBN 0815340575, p. 808.
  12. ^ Kostov, Chris (2010). Contested Ethnic Identity: The Case of Macedonian Immigrants in Toronto, 1900-1996. Peter Lang. pp. 84–85. ISBN 9783034301961.
  13. ^ Управување со Дигиталната Безбедност и Анонимност, Жарко Ѓуров и Лилјана Ацковска. Закон за Македонската национална чест - UDBAMK
  14. ^ Goli Otok: the island of death : a diary in letters[permanent dead link] by Venko Markovski, New York, Columbia University Press, 1984
  15. ^ Македонската кървава Коледа. Създаване и утвърждаване на Вардарска Македония като Република в Югославска Федерация (1943–1946) Веселин Ангелов, 2003-08-01, ISBN 954-8008-77-7, ISBN 978-954-8008-77-8
  16. ^ Zoran Todorovski, “Humanosta na makedonskiot komunizam,” Utrinski vesnik, February 2, 2006.
  17. ^ Historical dictionary of the Republic of Macedonia, Dimitar Bechev, Scarecrow Press, 2009, ISBN 0-8108-5565-8, pp. 15–16.