How Turks and Bulgarians Became Ethnic Brothers

History, Propaganda, and Political Alliances on the Eve of the Young Turk Revolution

in Turkish Historical Review
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In 1905 the Bulgarian authorities initiated preparations for a large-scale propaganda project in order to advertise the wellbeing of Bulgaria’s Muslims among the Muslim inhabitants of Ottoman Macedonia. Its purpose was to dispel inter-communal hostility during particularly turbulent times in the area. The project capitalized on arguments about ethnic and historical connections between Turks and Bulgarians by developing a novel theory maintaining that Bulgaria’s Turks were descendants of the Bulgars who founded the first Bulgarian state in the seventh century. However, Young Turk activists from the area were also involved in the enterprise hoping to use it for their own purposes. The article uses this interesting background to explore questions concerning Bulgarian policies and narratives about the local Muslim Bulgarian aspirations in Ottoman Macedonia, relations between Young Turks and Bulgarians, and Young Turk revolutionary strategies.

How Turks and Bulgarians Became Ethnic Brothers

History, Propaganda, and Political Alliances on the Eve of the Young Turk Revolution

in Turkish Historical Review




Crampton RichardBulgaria: a History 1878–1918 (Boulder: East European Monographs, distributed by New York: Columbia University Press1983) pp. 288–90.


Hertslet Edward“Treaty of Berlin,” Map of Europe by Treaty (London: Butterworths 1891) pp. 2763–99. Text of the constitution in Black Cyril The Establishment of Constitutional Government in Bulgaria (Princeton: Princeton University Press 1943) pp. 291–310.


EllulPropaganda pp. 51–8.


HanioğluThe Young Turks pp. 28–32 pp. 71–8.


HanioğluPreparation pp. 136–41. After the revolution the cpu reverted to the original name Committee of Union and Progress.


Zürcher Erik J.“Who were the Young Turks?,” in The Young Turk Legacy and Nation-Building: From the Ottoman Empire to Atatürk’s Turkey (New York: I. B. Tauris 2010) pp. 95–109.


HanioğluPreparation pp. 210–17.


HanioğluPreparation p. 76.


HanioğluYoung Turks pp. 89–90 109 122–4. Due to its strategic location the cpu sought to extend its network there and even considered moving its journal Şura-yı Ümmet from Cairo to Russe Hanioğlu Preparation pp. 147–51.


HanioğluPreparation pp. 150–1.


HanioğluPreparation pp. 210–11.


RagıbMeşrutiyet’ten Önce p. 128.


Midhat Paşa‘La Turquie: son passé, son présent, et son avenir,’ La revue scientifique de la France et de l’étranger49 8 June 1878 (27 May 1878) p. 1149–54; Midhad Paşa’s words were quoted in Bulgarian propaganda sources during the forced name-changing campaign of the 1980s see Who Worries About Moslems in Bulgaria and Why? Facts Documents Questions Answers Accounts (Sofia: Sofia Press 1985) p. 11 they remain popular even today as evidenced by the Bulgarian entry for Midhat Paşa in WikipediaМидхат_паша last accessed June 17 2014.


HanioğluPreparation pp. 240–1; p. 262; Ragıb Meşrutiyet’ten Önce pp. 119–25


HanioğluPreparation p. 242; Sohrabi Nader “Global waves local actors: what the Young Turks knew about other revolutions and why it mattered” Comparative Studies in Society and History 44/1 (2003) 45–79.


Resneli NiyaziHatırat-ı Niyazi p. 67; Enver Paşa’nın p. 107.


HanioğluPreparation pp. 173–81 296–8.


RagıbMeşrutiyet’ten Önce pp. 127–31. As the author suggests the Committee did not really intend to keep its promises.


CengizDr. Nazım pp. 234–5 247–9.


CengizDr. Nazım p. 298. Hanioğlu Preparation p. 151. Odrinski glas the “anarcho-liberal” popularized some Young Turk appeals but made no references to the ethnic bonds between Turks and Bulgarians see the following series Bogdanov Petǔr “Опозиционното движение в Турция” [“The opposition movement in Turkey”] Одрински глас 2 20 January 1908 pp. 1–2; continuation in Одрински глас 3 27 January 1908 p. 2; Одрински глас 4 3 February 1908 pp. 1–2; Novus “Един пункт от теоретическото кредо на Илинденци – 2” [“One point in the theoretical credo of the Ilindentsi Faction – 2”] “Из младотурската революционна литература” [“From the Young Turk revolutionary literature”] Одрински глас 17 4 May 1908 pp. 2–4.


HanioğluPreparation pp. 246–7. The precise circumstances in which the alliance between Sandanski’s faction of imro and the Young Turks was conceived remain unknown.


Zürcher Erik J.“The Young Turks – children of the borderlands?” International Journal of Turkish Studies9/1–2 (2003) 257–86; Sohrabi “Global waves” and Hanioğlu Preparation pp. 221–7.

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