The February Campaign and Mihajlo Apostolski

Personal museum objects, the biography of General Mihajlo Apostolski and more on the February Campaign from 1944.

Personal museum objects are a common cultural heritage. As a material testimony only they have the power to independently tell more or less known facts about a certain historical event or person and through their authenticity to be inextricably intertwined with the future. The Museum of the Macedonian Struggle offers an unusual opportunity to see some of the personal belongings* of Mihajlo Apostolski such as: general uniform, pocket watch “ZENITH”, a photo of Apostolski addressing the Second Session of the Antifascist Assembly of the People’s Liberation of Macedonia, ASNOM on December 30 1944 (see photo).


A small segment of his rich life experience is visible in the numerous domestic and international decorations on display: Memorial plaque from the First Session of the Anti-Fascist Assembly of the People’s Liberation of Macedonia – ASNOM, Order “St. Olav”- Norway, Order “George I “- Greece, Order “St. Alexander” – Bulgaria, Orders “Brotherhood and Unity”, “Silver Wreath”, “Order of Bravery” from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia – SFRY (see photo).

The character and the work of General Mihajlo Apostolski are woven in a heroic time from the Macedonian national liberation and anti-fascist struggle in the Second World War. The biography and bibliography of Mihajlo Apostolski (November 8, 1901 in Novo Selo, Shtip – August 7, 1987 in Star Dojran) give us an overview of his activity as a military theorist, military commander, major general, colonel general, national hero, member of parlaiment, researcher and academic.

He finished primary school and seven classes of high school in Shtip in 1924. He graduated from the Military Academy in 1927, and from 1931 to 1933 he graduated from the Higher Military Academy in Belgrade. From 1935 to 1938 he completed the General Staff training (Academy). In parallel, he completes two radio-telephone courses. On June 14, 1982 he defended his doctoral dissertation and obtained the title of Doctor of Military Sciences. His continuous personal and social contribution is also expressed through most of the military political and social functions he performed during his life.

At first he was an active officer of the former Yugoslav army, serving in Shtip, Belgrade, Zemun, Susak, Ogulin and Ljubljana. He has been a participant in the National Liberation War since 1941, first as a member of the Regional Staff for Macedonia, and later, since 1942 as a commander of the General Staff of the National Liberation War and the PDM (Partisan Detachments of Macedonia). On May 1, 1943, he was appointed Major General. On October 9, 1953, he was named People’s Hero. From 1945 to April 1946 he was Assistant Chief of the General Staff of the Yugoslav People’s Army, then from the autumn of 1952 he was Commander of the Army in Sarajevo. From the autumn of 1952 to September 1955 he was the head of the Higher Military Academy, and until June 1958 he was the head of the JNA infantry. He retired as a lieutenant general in 1958.

From the political functions he held, he was a member of the Presidency of the First and Second Session of ASNOM, a member of the Presidency of the Second Session and the Third Session of AVNOJ. From 1945 he was a member of the National Assembly of Macedonia twice, and from 1945 to 1963 he was a member of the Federal Assembly.

Yet in his biography, scientific achievements occupie an imposing place. Notable works are: “Spring Offensive in 1944 in Macedonia”, Skopje, 1957, “February Campaign” Skopje, 1975, “Final Operations for the Liberation of Skopje”, Skopje, 1975, “From Kozhuv to Bogomila and Kozjak – Operations of units of the National Liberation Army and the PDY (Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia) in the winter of 1943 – 1944 in Macedonia and the Pomoravie “, Skopje, 1959,” Views of the Yugoslav-Bulgarian relations in the Second World War “, Skopje, 1980. More bibliographic information can be found on the following website:

In the period from 1.1.1965 until 31.12.1970 he was the director of the Institute of National History in Skopje. At a meeting of the commission for the establishment of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts – MANU held in Ohrid, he was elected a full member on August 18, 1967. He presided over the presidency of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts in the period from 1976 until 1983. He was elected a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts – SANU in 1968. In 1977, he was elected a member of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, after which in 1978, he was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the period from 1978 to 1981 he was president of the Council of the Academies of Sciences and Arts of SFRY, and from 1979, was elected as a corresponding member of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts – YAZU. In 1986 he was elected for life president of the Association of Historians of Macedonia.

The creative work of General Apostolski is marked by numerous awards such as: “November Award” for the work in the liberation war of the Macedonian people, Skopje, November 13, 1965; Award “October 11”- for life contribution, Skopje, 1971; “Mito Hadzivasilev Jasmin” award – the highest social recognition for the best works in the field of journalism, Skopje, July 7, 1976; AVNOJ award as an extraordinary social recognition in the field of historical sciences, Belgrade, November 21, 1978.

The heroic February Campaign of 1944

The February Campaign 1944, Author: Aleksander Maratovich Samsonov

As a result of the intensified combat actions and the successes of the Macedonian partisan units in December 1943 conditions were created, which as a catalyst encouraged the idea of ​​organizing the February Campaign. Apostolski testifies that “on Kozhuv mountain in the huts ‘Zhuta’ where were stationed the General Staff, the Central Committee and the British military mission on January 20, 1944, the plan for organizing the February Campaign was adopted. The campaign in Macedonian historiography is defined as “the first strategic operation of the Macedonian army units” because the decision to launch it was made by the military-political leadership, the goal is further encouragement of the armed struggle throughout Macedonia, the character of the action is offensive, and the top leadership is a direct participant in the combat operations of the National Liberation Army and the POM. The specific conceptual plan contains the action of the following three operational groups:

The first operational group – composed of the First Macedonian-Kosovo Strike Brigade, was to break through in the direction of the village of Bahovo-Mariovo-Dren-Mukos-Babuna mountain in the central part of Macedonia, and to be an indicator of the resumption of fighting in 1942, preferably keep it in the area of ​​Azot and Porechе.

The Second Operational Group, which includes the Second Macedonian Brigade, was planned to operate in the Vardar Valley, in the area of ​​Tikvesh and Gevgelija, relying on the free territory Meglen-Kozhuv Mountain-Pajak Mountain with offensive actions in the direction of Kavadarci and Demir Kapija in order to attract the attention of the Bulgarian occupier, and thus facilitate the breakthrough of the First and Third Operational Groups.

The third operational group known as the “Third Group of Battalions” consisting of the “Steve Naumov” and “Hristo Botev” battalions, The General Staff of the National Liberation Army and the POM, a part of the CPM Central Committee leadership and the delegate of the Supreme Headquarters, Macedonia and upon arrival in the region of Kumanovo-Vranje-CrnaTrava to connect the Macedonian, South Moravian and Kosovo units.

Thus began large-scale combat operations of the Macedonian partisan army known as the February Campaign. The successful conduct of the February Campaign had great political and military significance for the development of the National Liberation War in Macedonia in general.

The military actions in this complex action from January 31 to February 24, 1944. with all their military and natural challenges wrote the Macedonian historiography with heroic battles.


Selective bibliography

Apostolski Mihajlo “From Kozuv to Bogomila and Kozjak” The operations of the units of the National Liberation Army and the PDY in the winter of 1943-1944 in Macedonia and the Pomoravie, Institute of History, Prosveta, Skopje, 1959;

Damchevski Ilija, “February campaign-newer views”, Glasnik, INI, Skopje, 2004;

Solunski Koce, “Apostolski from birth to general”, Skopje, 1993;

Stojchev Aleksandar, Jovanovska Marica, Marjan Gjurovski, MA, “General Mihajlo Apostolski”, Propoint, Skopje, 2012. accessed on 11.02.2021.

* The personal items of General Mihajlo Apostolski are temporarily transferred from the NI Museum of the Republic of North Macedonia

Prepared by M.Sc. Danijela Trajkova Krstikj, curator in the NI Museum of the Macedonian Struggle for Independence 


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