Sensational video from Skopje 106 years ago!

A documentary from the First World War, which shows life in the city of Skopje, then still in the Ottoman Empire, but you can see signs of shops with text and spelling in Bulgarian

The well-known media lawyer Tsvetan Tsvetanov sent the following letter to the editorial office of “24 Chasa”: the time of the First World War. The film video from 1916 has textual content in Bulgarian, captions and explanations written on the spelling used in the early twentieth century, then Bulgarian (also known as Drinov). The video is subtitled in English: Bulgarian and Austria-Hungarian troops in Skopje (Skopie) during World War I was uploaded to the world platform You Tube on March 4, 2014 by the holder of the rights for its use and distribution – Critical Past. This is one of the largest collections of archival historical footage and retro videos in the world based in the United States with certain public conditions that must be met for their use by the media and organizations if they decide to do so in accordance with the requirements of the holder of the rights to these collections.

The documentary video frames with a duration of 5 minutes and 27 seconds include texts with explanations in Bulgarian, written in the already mentioned spelling. Let us mention some of them: “Paintings in the streets of Skopje; Turkish slaughterhouses and contagious farmers. In the paintings of German, Austrian and Bulgarian soldiers “:” Skopje..Life and movement on the bridge that connects the Turkish neighborhood with the new neighborhood “:” German troops on the way to the front in the Moravian Valley. In the back rests a Bulgarian convoy “:” Columns who go to the front face great difficulties in the bad roads in Serbia “:” Transshipment of Polish (field) mail at the station in Predjane “(Predejane is a town in Serbia)” At the station Predjane, German and Bulgarian companies rest from his military campaign. Distribution of lunch in the Polish (field) cuisine. “:

Otherwise, some of the documentary footage itself captures the situation on a day in the streets of Skopje during the First World War. A street environment with trade stalls showing people of different nationalities, including Turks, Bulgarian, Austro-Hungarian and German soldiers in Skopje. A number of shops with goods on display, including a butcher’s and a greenhouse. The documentary filmed shifts to what is described as a new neighborhood. You can see the old stone bridge (Stone Bridge) over the river Vardar in the city center, where locals are photographed in their daily professional crafts and activities, moving carts carrying materials and goods on the street and over the bridge. Soldiers and citizens gather around a booth at the foot of the bridge. Another scene shows troops entering a camp area along a river. Some dig trenches. Smoke rises from the campfires. Wagons with ammunition pulled by horses and oxen are collected on the railway line (wagons are shown in the background). A staff car enters the area, with a German flag on its hood and the coat of arms of the German eagle on the door. Supplies are loaded into railway carriages under the supervision of German officers. Troops march to a camp serving German field cuisine. The rifles are stacked in a large mound. Soldiers line up and receive their salaries at a counter in a building. Footage of military units marching in full field gear, in a free column, outside the camp. German infantry with sharp helmets (Pickelhauben), marching, outside the camp, through the mud to the front.

We are especially interested in the shots of Bulgarian soldiers and officers and their clothes.

However, what is extremely curious and perhaps sensational from today’s point of view of the historical context of what was shot in 1916 can be found in the documentary footage of this over one hundred and five year old video material. And which gives reason to reflect on the recorded indisputable facts about life at that time and the language used in which the inscriptions above the shops on the streets of Skopje at that time were written. In other words, the common historical past and fraternal closeness of the people and peoples of today’s neighboring countries Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia are proved in an objectively indisputable way.

As is known, until October 13, 1912, Skopje was part of the Ottoman Empire, and then for three years until October 1915 it was in the territory of the Kingdom of Serbia acquired after the Inter-Allied Balkan War. While on October 22 of the same year, the 24th Black Sea Regiment of the 3rd Division of the Bulgarian Army entered the city.

The short documentary, shot in 1916 with textual content in Bulgarian, allows us to reasonably assume that in its creation there is an important Bulgarian creative participation. This is perfectly acceptable, given that a year earlier in 1915 the first Bulgarian feature film “The Bulgarian is a Gallant” was created and shot. With it the talented director Vasil Gendov laid the foundations of Bulgarian cinema, and a few days ago the Bulgarian film and intellectual community celebrated a professional holiday – on January 13, 1915 was the first public screening of the legendary Bulgarian film pioneer.

The most curious and important documentary and historical factual significance is that the shots clearly document the inscriptions in Bulgarian, which are on the shops (according to the text in the video – Turkish kassanniki and contagious) on a street in Skopje. Here is a visible text in the film of one of the inscriptions “Zarzaratchi Amet”.

Let us emphasize that the obsolete and unfaded inscriptions in Bulgarian are in the so-called Turkish neighborhood in the city. Although the city was until the year of filming -1916 only within the Ottoman Empire, and then the Kingdom of Serbia, the inscriptions show that the publicly used language and script of the local population, regardless of the nationalities that form it are used and in Bulgaria at that time. The facts speak for themselves through the camera’s unbiased film lens. It is best to leave the audience to judge for themselves the spiritual closeness and the common historical destiny of the people who lived then and today in Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia. Perhaps the conclusion will be positive for the people of both countries and for their aspirations to be more than just geographical in today’s Europe.


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