London Daily News on Batak Massacre


Daily Scripture Readings and Lives of the Saints for Sunday, May 17, 2015

Feasts and Saints celebrated today:

    1.  Sunday of the Blind Man 
    2. The New Martyrs of Batak, Bulgaria


I have never heard of the Batak massacre and was interested in these new martyrs.  It seems that it made headlines as one of the London Daily News correspondents, J. A. MacGahan happened to be in the area and heard about it, so like a good journalist, followed up the lead and reported it back home.  It happened on August 22 1876.I don’t understand why the martyrdom is celebrated now in May and not in August.  The church news did not explain.

Batak is situated about thirty miles south of Tatar Bazardjik (, a town of Bulgaria in Eastern Rumelia; on the river Maritza. It lies on on the Sofia-Constantinople railway, 74 Miles E.S.E. of Sofia and 23 Miles W. of Philippopolis. Pop. (1906) 17,549. ed. my father’s family hails from Philippopoli, they were Greek missionaries) as the crow flies, high up in a spur of the Balkans that here sweeps around to the south from the main range.

The road was only a steep mountain path that in places might have tried the agility of a goat. There was a better one, as we learned upon our return, but, with that perversity which distinguishes the Oriental mind, our guide took this one instead. …”I counted, while I was still sitting on the horse, about 100 craniums of women and children outside the city, all craniums completely cleaned by animals.

We then entered the town. On both sides of the roads were heaps of skeletons amongst the ruins, or fully dressed where they had stumbled. It was skeletons of women and girls with shoulder-long brown hair. We reached the church… 200 women and children had been burned alive.

Everywhere in the city the same scenario repeated itself … The man who committed these atrocities – Achmed Aga – has now been promoted by the sultan and remains governor of this district. No crime committed by the Turks were ever punished or even prosecuted.

The persons behind the terrible actions against the inhabitants of Batak were thinking they were preforming the work of Allah.” (Poul Fregosi s. 394) A Bulgarian Muslim fifth column unit had even assisted the Turks in massacring their own people.

MacGahan was a good correspondent and detailed the matryrdom well.  You can read his full report to the London Daily news here. The Batak Massacre (1876) | Bulgarian Horrors | J. A. MacGahan | Turkish Atrocities | The W.T. Stead Resource Site