Todays Date
January 20, 2021

Freedom is not free

Writes: Denko Maleski


“Freedom is not free” says a ninety-six-year-old American these days, participant in World War II, marking the anniversary of US troops landing in Normandy. And our freedom, who paid for our freedom? Macedonian and Albanian partisans paid for it. The former with a red star five-pointed and the latter with a two-headed eagle on their hats. The first Macedonian-Kosovo Drill Brigade is embedded in my early memory. In his latest and unfinished book, my father, Vlado Maleski will write these lines on freedom and price that is paid to win: “…The dreamed freedom has become a hundred-headed dragon, uninhabitable and insuperable of freedom – the more you sacrifice and donate to freedom, to tame it, embrace it – it is demanding and demanding and demanding … Where is Kuzman, where is Trifun Panovski, where are Buchko, Kole Kaninski, Mico Galic…and before them Orce, Cvetan, Mirce, Strasho, Borka Modernoto, Steve, Mite, where are Dara, Gina, Premce, Mirka….where are my comrades… from wars and from leaflets?”. These are part of the people who paid for our freedom in the anti-fascist war, along with the brave soldiers who died on the shores of France seventy-five years ago. And along with the brave Russians who paid the highest price for everyone in blood. At the first session of ASNOM when the Macedonian state was constituted, there were pictures of Tito, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin. The first, Tito, symbolized the common anti-fascist struggle of the peoples of new Yugoslavia, while others, allied nations. It means we were on the right side of history and our victims are part of that collective resistance to fascism, the evil that showed the value of freedom for which one should sometimes be ready to die.

However, the euphoria of the fall of communism, a political system that rests on the monopoly over the power of the communist party, another form of non-freedom, made us reckless with our proud past: with dirty water to throw away the baby. It made us forget that the small Communist Party of about 12,000 members organized the resistance of the peoples of Yugoslavia against Hitler and his allies, and personally, in the forefront, the Communists led the battle. This is also evidenced by the fact that of the 12,000 members of the KPY, 9,000 lost their lives in the struggle for freedom. It is a winning story of brave people who led the fight and first died for freedom. Why? Because, as the American soldier reminded us these days, freedom is not free. We can find a thousand faults for this generation and condemn the atrocities that were committed in the name of the Party, but we cannot deny the historical fact that their lives are at the heart of the Macedonian state today. In fact, their lives are the foundation of our uniqueness. Without their struggle, we have nothing to stand on and we sink deep into a dark past. Therefore, respect for them is respect for us.

The compassion that I had for the participants of the great battle in Normandy, following the CNN direct broadcast, is filled with the pride that our ancestors fought in the same struggle and that their lives are part of the alliance not to allow Hitler and the Nazi ideology to enslave the world. Our partisans, a generation of young people born in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, taught in Serbian schools as South Slavs, have been solving the dilemma whether or not a Macedonian nation exists for years. Hence the call for a struggle for social and national freedom. In other words, for freedom against poverty and the right to call ourselves Macedonians. In those crucial years, a nation scattered around the seams of the Balkan states stands in dignity and proclaims its Macedonian nation.

And here we are today, seventy-five years later, in front of the doors of the most successful military and political alliance of Western countries created after the Second World War NATO. By opposing Stalin and the new form of autocracy, democratic countries emerged as victors in the communist system of governance, in which the individual is subordinated to the will of the Party, that is, one man who speaks in its name. Why did they win? Above all, because they had the Freedom of Man, the strongest ideology of all time on their side. Now we want to become part of that world of human freedoms, democracy and the rule of law. What would our ancestors say about this? They would shout: Treason? No, my father Vlado and my mother Milka would surely say: Go ahead and boldly open new horizons of freedom. How do I know? From their attitude towards the West. Namely, my parents did not like the greyness and violence of the system in which they participated as partisans and communists. One of their favorite anecdotes was the following: Mosha Pijade, a close associate of Tito, staring at the beauties of Paris and the full shop windows murmured: Socialism will come to you, too. Yes, life is full of paradoxes.


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