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The Original “Abecedar” is in Skopje


By Branko Gorgevski

Translated from Macedonian to English and Edited by Risto Stefov


      Some thirty years ago Vangel Ajanovski-Oche, a well known Macedonian revolutionary from Aegean Macedonia, donated a copy of the original primer to the Macedonian archives. The primer known as the “Abecedar” was printed by the Greek Government eighty-one years ago to serve the linguistic needs of the Macedonian children living in Greece . Unfortunately, in 19 25 the entire batch was destroyed before it reached its destination.


      This surviving one of three copies, thanks to Vangel Ajanovski-Oche, is now safe and secure in the Macedonian archives in Skopje .


      Just before the conclusion of World War II, Ajanovski, during a meeting, was approached by a Macedonian teacher from Aegean Macedonia who had managed to obtain and save a copy of the primer, which he then gave to Ajanovski. 


      Then towards the late 19 70 ’s, after keeping it safe for almost forty years,  Ajanovski decided to donate his entire collection of books and documents including the Abecedar,  to relevant Macedonian Government institutions.


      Ajanovski was one of the founders of the “Macedonian Antifascist Organization” and of the “Secret Macedonian Liberation Organization” in Voden Region in which he served during and after the Second World War.   


      As far as we know the other two original copies of the Abecedar are found; one in the City Library in Vienna, Austria and the other in the National Library in Athens, Greece. The most recent reprint of the Abecedar, which was promoted in the Greek capital, was made possible by use of the original primer from Athens


      The primer, especially prepared for Macedonian children to learn their native Macedonian language, represents one of the most significant testimonies of the existence of ethnic Macedonians in Greece , which every Greek government has adamantly denied.


      The booklet was printed in Athens in 19 25 as a result of a League of Nations’ request to protect the rights of the Macedonian minority in Greece . On August 10 , 19 20 Greece signed a League of Nations agreement for the provision of rights to all its citizens of non-Greek ethnicities. The agreement, signed in Sevres , France , states that there are minorities belonging to a number of ethnicities living in Greece . It also states that the Greek government agreed to provide basic human and national rights to all its minorities.


      Unfortunately, the fate of the Abecedar was tragic – the entire batch was destroyed in a staged train accident. On its way to deliver the booklet to the various destinations, the train caught fire burning the entire batch, thus never reaching the Macedonian population.


      According to Vangel’s son and well known journalist Georgi Ajanovski, his father obtained the Abecedar entirely by accident.  By giving Vangel the Abecedar, the teacher’s wish was to make use of it in other parts of Macedonia ( Vardar and Pirin). It is well known that in those days there was nothing available in the Macedonian language to teach the young Macedonian children their mother tongue.
     According to Ajanovski, this particular copy of the primer must have been saved by the people who first arrived at the site of the burning train.

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