Struga (Струга)

 

Struga - a city in the southwestern part of the Republic of Macedonia and the administrative center of the municipality of the same name. The city of Struga lies in the plain of the Struga Field on both banks of the river Crn Drim and on the northern shore of Lake Ohrid. It has 16,559 inhabitants (2002) and is located 171 km southwest of the capital Skopje.

 

Origin of the term
The ancient name of the city is Enhalon which in ancient Greek means eel and at that time the city was a small settlement. Later the settlement was named Struga.

The name of Struga derives from a pure and characteristic Slavic word. The people of Struga and Ohrid give two explanations for the origin of this name.

According to the first folk interpretation, the name Struga comes from the open geographical position of the city: a place where the wind constantly blows.

The second is completely different: Once upon a time, the Macedonian Slavs (Brsjaci and Mijaci) in Struga were engaged in animal husbandry and at a specific time they trimmed the numerous sheep on a shear (shearing wool) near the outlet (mouth) of the Black Drim from Lake Ohrid. However, this can be much more logically related to the passage through a sheep milking fence, called a string.

Some authors claim that the city is so named because the Black Drim runs through the distance (a Turkish word for a place surrounded by reeds and other material for eel and fish hunting in general).

Perhaps the closest to the truth is the explanation that Struga means a river sleeve, a tributary (in this case the outflow of the Black Drim) in a place with fishing equipment.

For the first time under the Slavic name Struga, the city is mentioned in an 11th century document. In another document from the 16th century (Kaliman's letter) an imperial charter is given "the income from the fish hunting ground of the city of Struga to be sent to the Zografski Monastery".

History
Struga is an old settlement that dates back to the Neolithic period. In antiquity, Struga was very profitable because it was located on the road Via Egnatia, which connected the Eastern and Western Roman Empires. Archaeological finds and excavated monuments say that life here dates back to prehistoric times. The first Neolithic settlement was registered around 3,000 BC. The ancient name of the city is Enhalon which means eel, and the current name Struga gets it later from the Old Slavic word "straga" which means passage.

Pre-Slavic period
Based on some archeological findings, it is assumed that the ancient city of Enhalon, probably founded by members of the Illyrian Desareti tribe, was located near the present-day river Klimetica. Major archaeological finds include a relief tombstone (from the 4th century) and a stained glass vase believed to have been brought from Egypt, then a Roman millennium and several ancient tombs with decorative objects and pottery, found at St. . Georgia. The ancient historian Polybius gives information about the battles between the ancient Macedonians and the Illyrians in the Ohrid region and claims that King Philip II captured Enhalon in 334 BC. In 148 BC. the city fell to the Romans, who built the famous strategic Via Egnatia to connect Rome, via Durres and Thessaloniki, with Constantinople. That road also passed through ancient Enhalon.

At that time, the city of Enhalon exported agricultural and livestock products to other parts of the Roman Empire, importing items for practical use from gold, silver, metal in general, and glass. Roman rule ended in the fourth century. Then the Ohrid area was annexed to Epirus. Almost at the same time, the spread of Christianity in the Struga region begins. It is believed that the first Christian missionary in this area was Bishop Erasmus of Antioch. At that time, several churches were built here.

Settlement of the Slavs
After the massive incursion of the Southern Slavs, who flooded the Balkan Peninsula, on the former Illyrian territory, near the shores of Lake Ohrid, the members of the Slavic tribe Bereziti (Brsjaci) arrived. They came from the east, through Bitola and Prespa. The Berezites, undoubtedly one of the largest Macedonian Slavic tribes, settled in Struga, where they mixed with the one-blooded Mijaci, who entered there from the north.

Probably then, at the end of the VI or the beginning of the VII century, the Berezites founded today's Struga. Some authors speculate that the Berezitas found desolate ruins of a much older non-Slavic settlement at the site.

 

There is another possibility to consider this issue. Perhaps the ancient city lived until the approach of the Berzites in the Ohrid and Struga regions, when its Illyrian and other inhabitants, overwhelmed with fear, left it and took refuge in the mountains. If so, the Macedonian Slavs completely destroyed the city and built a new settlement, similar to the settlements they made in the All-Slavic ancestral homeland, somewhere behind the Carpathians. The surroundings of the new city were very suitable for some localities in the homeland. Specifically: around the mouth of the Black Drim stretched a large swamp - which probably covered the entire present-day Struga Field - full of diverse and rich flora (shrubs, reeds, etc.), and wildlife. Due to that, the inhabitants of the young settlement Struga had no reason to be afraid of food shortage. The Berezitas were excellent hunters and fishermen, and the Black Drim and Lake Ohrid gave them unlimited opportunities for abundant fishing. This unusually important economic base, then the abundance of water and other natural resources in the immediate vicinity, enabled Struga to develop gradually and continuously, to certain limits, conditioned by the proximity of Ohrid, a city with an obviously more important and key strategic-geographical position. . Slavic field and mountain villages sprouted around Struga. She became their center in every way.

Shortly after the arrival of the Bulgarian non-Slavic tribes on the Balkan Peninsula, their khans sought to expand the borders of their state at the expense of the other South Slavs and Byzantium. Khan Presian entered the eastern part of Macedonia, probably in the Bregalnica area and north and south of it. Prince Boris (853-888), who forced the Bulgarians to convert, expelled the Byzantines from the territory of all Western Macedonia and conquered Struga and its surroundings. He also penetrated deep into Albania, where Slavs also lived.

At first Byzantium did not want to recognize the new position in this part of the Balkan Peninsula, but later, in 864, it signed an agreement with the Bulgarian prince Boris I and recognized, de jure, his rule in the newly conquered areas, meaning in Macedonia. Struga remained under Bulgarian rule during the reign of the Bulgarian Tsar Simeon the Great (893-927), who sought to oust Byzantium from the Balkans in order to create a vast South Slavic empire (such ideas were later shared by the Macedonian Tsar Samuel and the Serbian Tsar Dusan). .

During, on and after Samuel
The position of the Macedonian Slavs in Struga and the Struga region was on average good during Samuel's reign, although he waged constant wars against the Byzantines. Back then, in this area, the Bogomils were in the majority, but they were not persecuted. A great deterioration occurred after the establishment of the Byzantine government in Macedonia. Struga was located within the borders of the Ohrid theme and was exposed to cruel feudal exploitation. Byzantine officials (both military and civilian), who came to the Black Drim from larger and more developed city centers in the empire, aware of the duration of their life there, sought to use their service to get rich faster at the expense of the Macedonian Slavs. Moreover, they did not know about mercy. They squeezed everything that could be squeezed, they robbed everything that could be robbed. The state authorities for collecting taxes stood out in that, as well as the Greek clergy, which did everything to eliminate the Slavic worship in the churches. The famous Ohrid Archbishop Theophylact (1084-1108), who translated and presented as his extensive biography of Clement of Ohrid (and then burned the Slavic original), in some of his letters complained that the state authorities burdened his subjects - fishermen and millers - with doubled taxes, without having a legal right. This also applied to the Macedonian Slavs in the Struga region, because they were also his "subjects".

Struga came under Bulgarian rule again during the time of Kaloyan (1197-1207). She was a slave to the Bulgarian state in the time of Ivan Assen (1216-1240). It can be said that it revived freely, as in the time of Samuel, after the creation of the independent state of the Macedonian feudal ruler Strez.

 

Struga and the Struga region suffered greatly during the 11th century, when the Normans, led by Robert Guiscard and his son Boehmund, penetrated deep into Macedonia, after the Via Egnatia. Before the arrival of the Norman conquerors, the Byzantine authorities in the Ohrid theme gathered soldiers for their infantry. Also, during the passage of the Normans, Struga was looted. Soldiers from Northern Europe committed numerous crimes in the Struga region. For some time the city was under the rule of the Epirians, whose despot Teodor Angel Duka Komnin was crowned emperor by the Archbishop of Ohrid Dimitar Homatian (1217-1234) (author of the short biography of Clement of Ohrid).

In the 11th century, Struga was visited by the Byzantine travel writer Ana Komnina, in whose records Struga is called a city of a hundred bridges. In the Middle Ages, thanks to the already existing Via Egnatia and Samuel's newly built roads, Struga became a rich trade center. The travel writer Bernard describes it as an important crossroads, and Evliya Çelebi, who stayed here in the second half of the 17th century, testifies to the great Struga fairs, two during the year, which were attended by up to 50,000 visitors. The area where thousands of shops and other facilities were built is still called Panagjurishte. In the city, the XIX century passes in the sign of the revival and liberation from the Greek spiritual influence. It was Struga, through the brothers Dimitrija and Konstantin Miladinovi, that became the harbinger and center of the Macedonian national revival.

Under the Serbian Empire
After the restoration of the Byzantine Empire in 1261, the Byzantines ruled all of Macedonia for about 20 years, without being disturbed by it on any part. But, during the same century, the expansion and consolidation of the Serbian government to the south, on the territory of Macedonia, began. Serbian King Milutin was the first to occupy Macedonian areas. Dusan Silni (1331-1355) included Struga within the borders of his great empire, with Skopje as its capital. He appointed the Sevastocrat Branko Mladenovi ((father of Vuk Brankovi)) as the governor of Ohrid and Struga. But it is more likely that his son Grgur Brankovic practically held power.

At that time Struga was still a famous economic center, especially with the developed fishing. In a charter of Tsar Dusan Silni, the city of Struga is mentioned as a fishing hunting ground donated to the temple "Holy Mother of God Periblepti" in Ohrid. The same document shows that then Struga was divided into two city units: Vraninska Struga and Mala Struga, probably called so along the river sleeves of the Black Drim, at a distance.

Tsar Dusan enabled the famous Dubrovnik merchants to move through his country. That position contributed to the development of trade in the more important Macedonian cities. The caravans of Dubrovnik merchants, loaded with precious and various goods from Western European countries, stayed mainly in Skopje, then the capital of the Serbian state, and a smaller part of the merchants continued their journey to the southern part of Macedonia. They often visited Prilep, Bitola and Ohrid. The Dubrovnik traders, who would reach Ohrid, also traveled to Struga to sell what they were carrying, but also to buy Struga livestock and agricultural products.

Under Ottoman rule
Duшаan's successor, King Uro., Was incapable of saving the kingdom from splitting and weakening. Some Serbian feudal lords sought to become as independent as possible and not to depend on the central government. Then the ambitious King Volkashin (1365-1371) intensified. He managed to strengthen his power in Prilep, Bitola, Ohrid and Struga. After his death in the Battle of the Maritsa River, in 1371, that territory was inherited by the legendary hero of folk poetry of all South Slavs King Marko (1371-1395). Although a Turkish vassal, King Marko took care to protect the Macedonian Slavs from the increasingly frequent Turkish looting in this part of Macedonia. Struga did not remain for a long time under the direct rule of King Marko, because the great prefect Andrea Gropa (probably of Albanian origin) established himself in the Ohrid region and in the Struga region as an independent master. But even Gropa could not do anything significant to protect the population in its area. At that time, the Turks began to permanently conquer and conquer the Macedonian cities. The famous military leader Timur Tash-bey organized a campaign from Samokov through Ovche Pole to Southwest Macedonia. His armies captured the cities of Stip, Veles, Prilep and Bitola. In the chronicle of the Turkish author Ashik-Pasha Zade "Tevarih-i-al-Osman" about the Turkish invasion is written:
"Then they turned to the Albanian vilayet. They arrived in Manastir (Bitola) with a very large army. That area was generous. The people have obeyed. "

 

After the stabilization of the Turkish government in Macedonia, an administrative-territorial division of the whole country was made. In 1582, the following nahis entered the Ohrid Sandzak: Ohrid (with Struga), Prespa and Debrca (from the Ohrid kaza) and Gorni Debar, Zupa and Reka (from the Debar kaza).

At the end of 1670, the famous travel writer Evliya Çelebi also visited Struga, which he wrote was one of the places from which the largest blood tax was taken. According to his testimony, there was an old, wooden bridge in Struga with about 12 arches and a length of about 50 meters, and on the bridge was built the palace of the agata guarded by 45 armed gavazis. At that time, once a year, a large fair was held in Struga, which lasted ten days, and which gathered about 40-50,000 people and about a thousand traders. The main trades in the city were blacksmithing, saddlery, pottery, etc.

Greek propaganda
At the beginning of the 17th century, the Greek influence in Struga and the Struga region intensified. Greekism entered then from the southern dioceses of the Ohrid Archbishopric. Until then, the town near the Black Drim had preserved the Slavic worship, and the inscriptions on the frescoes and icons were in the Slavic language, in Cyrillic letters. Struga priests and monks tirelessly and lovingly copied Slavic manuscripts. As a proof of that, we can take the fact that in Struga was found the Slavic translation of the service of Kliment Ohridski, in a transcript from the Serbian editorial office from the XV century. Sympathetic to the Slavic tradition in the churches and cell schools attached to the temples, Struga showed unusually tenacious resistance against Greekism and sought with all its might to prevent its entry into its environment. But Greekism did not give up at all. From neighboring Ohrid it began to spread to Struga, at the same time with a similar detrimental influence coming from Albania, also threatened by the new policy of the patriarchate in Constantinople.

In the 17th century, Catholic propaganda came to life in the Ohrid and Struga regions. She has acted in Macedonia before, mainly for political reasons. From time to time she fell and did not feel at all. In 1651 the Pope appointed Andrej Bogdani as Catholic Archbishop (Archbishop), but he did not even come to Macedonia, to Ohrid, for fear of being killed by Orthodox Christians.

VMRO
The internal Macedonian revolutionary organization in Struga and the Struga region developed a much larger and more extensive activity after the arrival of Hristo Uzunov and Nikola Rusinski in the Ohrid and Struga region. The two capable revolutionaries, the centralists, had very clear conceptions of how the further training of the Macedonian people for armed struggle against the centuries-old enslaver should take place. They introduced a variety of tactics that had been used until then and ordered the revolutionary detachments to move only at night, destroying the tracks behind them. In addition, with a strict order, the detachments were obliged to: conduct military training in inaccessible mountainous areas; to avoid fights that would be imposed on them by the Turkish troops, in order to preserve the life force of VMRO for the decisive battle. In hot weather, the detachments spent the night outside the settlements, and if they settled in a village, then the villagers were obliged to set up their own guards.

Both town and village committees accepted new members of the Revolutionary Organization. The whole area was covered with the network of VMRO. Each village, even the smallest, had its own village committee, which consisted of: chief, secretary, treasurer, village duke and 2-3 members. The village committees, in addition, had their own couriers and guards (guards) to secure the settlement from unforeseen danger. Those who were not in the detachments, but had weapons, were included in the people's militia, which acted only when needed.

Macedonian peasants no longer went to Turkish courts. Committees and dukes took over the judiciary. VMRO committees also accelerated armaments; ordered savings at weddings and other similar customs; forbade girls and women to wear jewelry; ordered an increase in agricultural and livestock production so that producers could have access to both the money and the food supplies necessary for guerrilla warfare.

VMRO committees in Struga and Ohrid entered the fight against all kinds of superstitions (magic, fortune-telling, clairvoyance, etc.). The organization, with the help of teachers and other more enlightened people, forced the Macedonians to gradually get used to a more hygienic way of life, and to seek medical help for illness, instead of going to quack doctors, who got rich at the expense of the uneducated. VMRO banned their activity and persecuted them.

 

VMRO in Struga develops a series of moral features among its membership, and through it among all the people in the area. From the ethical values ​​that VMRO instilled and cultivated, the fight against the hatred of all Turks in general and the observance of the strictest sexual morality in the detachments and in the villages took the top place. The perpetrators of the latter were sentenced to death. Instructions were then given on how to counter the traitors and exploiters of the toilers.

Positive results were visible in everyday life. The detachments cleared the robbers. The population breathed a sigh of relief at their terror. Although VMRO also fought against the cruel feudal exploitation of the Macedonian peasants, the Struga Committee carried out a different practice regarding the landlords in Struga: the revolutionary detachments protected the landowners from the arbitrariness of their masters, but also the landlords' robberies. Because of that, the Chifliksaybi - Albanians and Turks - supplied the detachments with food for free.

Ilinden 1903
Before and during the uprising
After Rusinski's arrival in the Ohrid region, the Ohrid Revolutionary District was divided, for easier functioning, into ten revolutionary districts, with its main center in Ohrid and its headquarters in Struga. According to that division, the following revolutionary regions were created on the territory of Struga:
Ninth revolutionary region: Struga, with the pseudonym Drimkol, and with a center in the village of Vevcani and
Tenth revolutionary region: Malesia, from the right bank of the river Crn Drim, with a center in the village of Prisovjani.

He also performed in 1903. The revolutionary activities in Struga do not subside. VMRO committees use the winter months for more direct work with the membership and the entire population. But the Turkish authorities are not sitting still. The police send their agents everywhere, collect data and submit it to the Struga wise man, so that he can take appropriate action against VMRO. On January 19, 1903, the wise man from Struga left his headquarters, at the head of a military detachment of about 40 soldiers, and visited the village of Radozda to find comites. The soldiers conducted a detailed search of the houses, but found nothing suspicious.

During the first months of 1903, a series of important events took place that were appropriately reflected in the Struga region. The famous Thessaloniki Congress of VMRO was held, convened by internal supremacists and manifested traitors of the Macedonian people. Then the Smilevo Congress was held, at which the Ohrid delegates, who also represented the Struga region, spoke out against the announcement of the uprising, due to their position on the ground. However, the decision fell through. The Congress appointed Hristo Uzunov as the leader of the revolutionary detachments in the Ohrid and Struga regions. Immediately after returning from the Smilevo Congress, he began to accelerate the preparation of the region for active participation in the armed uprising. The committees continued to buy weapons and set up illegal warehouses and shelters in the mountains. On May 14, 1903, the Ohrid and Struga leadership arrived at the district headquarters of the General Staff of the insurgent forces, led by Dame Gruev. The district recommends that the courier connections from Struga to the General Staff be established "through the Resen or Demir Hisar area".

From the same month, cartridges for the companies in the house of Dudulovci in Struga are rapidly being filled. That illegal foundry filled an average of 2,000 cartridges per day under normal conditions. At the same time, the Struga Committee of VMRO activated more experienced women's groups, six of which were particularly active. They were led by the ten members: Dola Bambalova, Fana Bendova, Mara Kitanova, Mara Mechkarova and Para Spasova.

A few weeks before the Ilinden Uprising, the Struga Committee of VMRO obliged the very active member Vasilka Jakimova Matova to export, according to the given draft, the flag of the Struga Revolutionary Region. Since there was no single directive with a single draft for the making of the revolutionary flags, the people of Struga made their battle flag in the following way: On one (main - here left) side was embroidered a girl with a flag in her hands - an allegory of Macedonia - "Freedom or death". To the right of the girl was a small lion standing. The girl was treading on objects marking the defeat of the Ottoman Empire. On the other (right) side was a large lion, with a raised tail, stepping on the Turkish flag with religious symbols: crescent and star.The embroidery on both sides was on red silk.

 

The flag stood on a long wooden, smooth handle. It is interesting that the fringes of red silk and gold silver did not hang from all three free edges of the flag, but only from the side and below. The top edge of the flag was free, and at the top of the handle was a bouquet (as for a wedding).

The month of July 1903 was filled with various accelerated activities of the city committees of VMRO in Ohrid and Struga. The Struga Committee often encountered great difficulties due to the ethnic structure of the population, as well as due to the proximity of Albania. Although VMRO had a large number of sympathizers, collaborators and members among the Albanians, the Struga revolutionary leadership did not know how the Albanians from their homeland would react if the reactionary circles succeeded in convincing them that the struggle of the Macedonians was anti-Muslim, as it neither was nor could be. be.

Another unresolved issue was the conduct of the struggle after the uprising was declared. Even after the Smilevo Congress, the Struga leadership hesitated regarding the tactics and strategy of the fight, due to the reasons already mentioned. There were very similar difficulties in the Ohrid region. Nevertheless, preparations continued at an accelerated pace. The Ohrid revolutionary region was divided into five sub-regions, two of which in Struga: Struga and Debar Drimkol - west of the river Crn Drim, with responsible dukes Luka Grupchev and Marko Pavlov, and Malesia, on the east bank of the Black Drim, with responsible duke Tase Hristo . "

After Ilinden 1903
After the suppression of the Ilinden Uprising, the Struga Committee of VMRO took a series of measures to help those villages that suffered the most. The committee is implementing the idea of ​​self-help of the Macedonian people, which has proven to be faster and more efficient than the funds provided by various propaganda. The church of St. Georgia. The minutes of the board meeting, held on August 31, 1903, show that "in that year (while he was Metropolitan Teodosie Golabov - bm) (the church) had a net income of 20,258 groschen… which was used for the salaries of teachers, singers ( psalms), servants and alms. "Alms means the means given to help poor families by fallen revolutionaries.

In October 1903, another event confirmed the revolutionary nature of women in the Struga region. Martinica, from the village of Jablanica, a member of VMRO, shot a foreign traitor and a Turkish spy. Turkish authorities captured her, tied her up and transferred her to the central prison in Bitola. Martinica did not calm down, but managed to escape from prison, with the help of other prisoners. The event surprised the Bitola police, which failed to track her down. Martinica lived illegally and continued to work for the Revolutionary Organization.

The Struga Committee of VMRO quickly renewed the revolutionary network on the territory. New and younger people joined the rare leaderships of the village committees. The women's groups of the Organization were also expanded and increased with new members.

The renewed Serbian propaganda in Struga continues to create obstacles for the normal activity of VMRO. Although very weak, she does not give up that area. Its agitators recruit supporters even among the members of the Organization, which led to the preparation of the assassination of Duke Stavre Gogov, who proved to be a great enemy of the supremacists, and of all foreign propaganda. The mercenary severely wounded the duke, but he still recovered after a few weeks and continued to operate in the area. That was in 1906. The same year, the Turkish authorities killed the very active VMRO collaborator, the priest Petre from the village of Vevcani. That murder caused great revolt among the population, and the committees used it for intensified agitation among the Macedonians and among the Muslim friends.

On April 11, 1907, Macedonian fighters from several detachments gathered in Vevcani for counseling. The arriving detachments were under the leadership of Dukes Stavre Gogov and others. Turkish authorities discovered them. Turkish military units arrived in the village, accompanied by bashibozuki from Labunista, Oktisi and Podgorci. Duke Gogov died surrounded by a lone stone tower.

After the Hurriyet, 1908, the Young Turk government asked Macedonians from Struga to serve in the Turkish army. Many have received invitations to report to a specific unit. Then Baba Parushka, from Struga, transferred 190 Macedonians from the town to the mountains by herself, where they joined the company of Petar Chaulev (who took refuge occasionally in Albania).

 

Two years later, on May 5, 1910, the Macedonians in Struga held an annual city assembly to discuss some cultural and educational issues. The attendees elected a church-school board from the ranks of the more active Struga residents. All elected were laymen. The board, among other things, proposed to build a new school building in Struga, because the old one was dilapidated. The citizens accepted the initiative and started contributing voluntarily.

Balkan and World War I.
When the Balkan monarchies banded together to declare war on Turkey to pursue their secret aspirations to divide Macedonia and other Balkan areas still under the sultan's rule - Struga - according to a map of the so-called "disputed zone" - was included in the sphere of interests of the Kingdom of Serbia, while Ohrid was included in the Bulgarian zone. Struga is occupied by Serbian armies without a fight, as Turkish troops retreat to Elbasan (Albania).

The First World War was also reflected in the Struga region. Bulgarian and Serbian units clashed in the city itself on November 26, 1915. After several days of fighting, Serbian armies were forced to withdraw to Albania. Struga is occupied by Bulgarian units.

After the end of the First World War, Struga was again under Serbian rule. Life in the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (SCS) was not much better than it was in Turkish times, as the Macedonian people remained nationally oppressed and disenfranchised.

World War Two
In 1941, Struga came under Italian rule. She was released on November 8, 1944.