Open main menu

Venko Markovski (Bulgarian and Macedonian: Венко Марковски), born Veniamin Milanov Toshev (March 5, 1915 in Skopje – January 7, 1988 in Sofia) was a Bulgarian and Macedonian writer, poet, partisan and Communist politician.

Venko Markovski
Born(1915-03-05)March 5, 1915
Skoplje, Kingdom of Serbia
(present-day Skopje, North Macedonia)
DiedJanuary 7, 1988(1988-01-07) (aged 72)
Sofia, Bulgaria
Occupationwriter, poet, politician
Genrepoems, history, sonnets
Notable worksPredania zavetni


Born on March 5, 1915 in Skoplje (now Skopje), Kingdom of Serbia, then occupied by the Kingdom of Bulgaria, (present-day North Macedonia), Markovski completed his secondary education in Skoplje, later studying Slavic Philology in Sofia. Markovski was a member of the Macedonian Literary Group founded in Skoplje in 1931, the Macedonian Literary Circle in Sofia, Bulgaria (1938–1941). He is an important figure in contemporary Macedonian literature after has published in 1938, what was to be the first contemporary book written in non-dialectal Macedonian language, "Narodni bigori". As the most of the left-wing politicians from Macedonia he has changed his ethnic affiliations from Bulgarian to Macedonian during the 1930s, after the recognition of the Macedonian ethnicity from the Comintern. However such Macedonian activists, members of the Bulgarian Communist Party, never managed to get rid of their pro-Bulgarian bias.[1]

During the World War II, in 1941 he was sent as Communist activist to the concentration camp in Enikyoi by the Bulgarian police. Between 1943 and 1944 he was a Yugoslav partisan in Macedonia, together with his wife and five-year-old son, Mile. He wrote some of the most popular partisan marches songs of the Yugoslav partisans. Markovski participated in the Communist resistance in Vardar Macedonia and was an active political figure in Socialist Macedonia.

In the period between 1944-1945 Markovski was present for three commissions for the codification of the Macedonian alphabet. As he recollected many years later, he tried to defend the new republic's alphabet from the "complete Serbianization", in particularly by defending the letter yer (ъ), which is used in standard Bulgarian orthography to express the mid back unrounded vowel (IPA /ɤ/) (also common in many Macedonian dialects), but is absent from the Serbian alphabet. However, Blaže Koneski's point of view won, and Macedonians have no yer in their writing system.[2]

Markovski openly supported the Cominform and was subsequently imprisoned at the internment camp in Idrizovo following Yugoslavia's expulsion from the Cominform. In January 1956, Markovski was once again imprisoned, this time serving a five-year hard labor sentence at the notorious labor camp on the island of Goli otok in the Adriatic sea under the name "Veniamin Milanov Toshev" for publishing—what the authorities considered—an anti-Titoist poem "Contemporary Paradoxes" in Serbo-Croatian[3] and for his leanings towards the Soviet Union (see Informbiro).

In 1965, he left Yugoslavia supposedly in search of medical treatment in Bulgaria where he would remain until his death in 1988. In 1968 his family were expelled to Bulgaria. Markovski was accepted by the people of Bulgaria and soon began publishing in Bulgarian. Among many poems, dedicated to the ideal of Communism, he wrote a number of sonnets, publishing three books of sonnet crowns, dedicated to various historical figures. Markovski also wrote "Saga of Testaments", a history of Bulgaria in verses (with a total of 44,444 verses). Venko Markovski was a member of the Bulgarian Writers' Union, and a member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (1979), and was awarded highest Bulgarian orders, among them Hero of the Socialist Labour (1975), and Hero of Bulgaria (1985). He was member of several Parliaments from 1971 until his death in 1988. Because of his works written in Bulgarian, Markovski was declared a traitor of the Macedonian nation and in 1975 was under the protection of the Bulgarian secret service as it was believed an assassination was being planned by the Yugoslav secret police, the UDBA. After coming back to his Bulgarian roots and considering his involvement with the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, Markovski stated in an interview for Bulgarian National Television only seven days prior to his death, that the ethnic Macedonians and the Macedonian language are a result of a Comintern conspiracy.[4]

Venko Markovski died on January 7, 1988, in Sofia at the age of 72. He was married and had two children, among them the writer Mile Markovski (1939–1975) and piano teacher Sultana. He has two grandsons - Internet pioneer Veni Markovski and journalist Igor Markovski. He was survived by his wife, Filimena, who died on August 26, 2012.


In MacedonianEdit

  • Narodni bigori (1938)
  • Oginot (1938)
  • Ilinden (1940)
  • Lunja (1940)
  • Elegii
  • Goce
  • Čudna e Makedonija
  • Glamji
  • Klime (1945)
  • Nad plamnati bezdni
  • Skazna za rezbarot
  • Goli Otok (2009)

In BulgarianEdit

  • Орлицата (The Eagless), (1941)
  • Истината е жестока (Truth is Cruel), (1968)
  • Леганда за Гоце (A legend about Gotse), (1968), a play
  • Кръвта вода не става (Blood is Thicker than Water), (1971, 1981, 2002), a response to the book History of the Macedonian Nation
  • Предания заветни (Saga of Testaments)(1978, also published in Russian)
  • Писмо до другарката (Letter to My Love), (1979)
  • Съдбовни мъченици (Fateful Martyrs), (1981), sonnet crown
  • Бунтовни вощеници (Rebellious Candles), (1983), sonnet crown
  • Вековни върволици (Ancient processions), (1984), sonnet crown

in EnglishEdit

  • Goli Otok: The Island of Death (1984)[5]


  1. ^ Palmer, S. and R. King Yugoslav Communism and the Macedonian Question, Archon Books (June 1971), p. 137.
  2. ^ Dontchev Daskalov, Roumen; Marinov, Tchavdar (2013), Entangled Histories of the Balkans: Volume One: National Ideologies and Language Policies, Balkan Studies Library, BRILL, pp. 453–454, ISBN 900425076X
  3. ^ Markovska, Sultana (August 2007), "Truths about the life and work of Venko Markovski (Истини за живота и делото на Венко Марковски)", Bulgaria Macedonia, p. 4, ISSN 1312-0875
  5. ^ Goli Otok at the Hathi Trust Digital Library

External linksEdit