Kajmakcalan (Кајмакчалан, Kaimaktsalan) is the highest peak of Mount Nidze (2.521 m) and during the WW1 (First World War) one of the key positions on the Macedonian Front.
Kajmakcalan Battle was fought between 12 and 30 September 1916, and is considered an extension of the Battle of Gornichevo (Monastir Offensive / Bitola Offensive).
A strategic objective of the Entente armies at the beginning of operations was to conquer Kajmakcalan (Кајмакчалан), which dominates the entire region with its height and massiveness.
The armies of the Central Powers defended the mountains with two lines of trenches and wire obstacles. After fierce Allied artillery bombardment on the night of September 17, 1916 they managed to break through the defense and conquer the first line of trenches.
Between 26 and 30 September, the fighting around the top Kajmakcalan was fierce, until the Serbian army finally conquered it and kept it on 30 September. Human casualties were enormous on both sides, primarily due to man to man fight.
Despite the allied capture of the peak Kajmakcalan, Bulgarian-German forces managed to keep the side positions. Yet the capture of Kajmakcalan, had created favorable conditions for the Allied armies in further operations on Bitola battleground.
With the conquest of Kajmakcalan, the Entente armies were allowed to continue with further operations, in which on November 19, 1916 they have conquered Bitola (Monastir).
According to some sources, immediately after the Kajmakcalan Battle, given the large number of casualties on both sides, the soldiers started to build some kind of memorial on the peak. The chapel, with the nearby ossuary which houses the bones of many unknown soldiers, the Bell tower and the facilities were finished in 1928, marking the 10th anniversary of the end of First World War. On that occasion also was put into service the road leading from Bitola to Kajmakcalan.
Rudolphe Archibald Reiss
Rudolphe Archibald Reiss (8 July 1875 – 8 August 1929) was a German-Swiss criminology-pioneer, forensic scientist, professor, writer and correspondent for newspapers in several countries, reporting the events directly from the front.
At the request of the Serbian government, he arrives in Serbia in 1914 to investigate the crimes against civilians, made by the armies of Austria-Hungary, Germany and Bulgaria. He remained in Serbia until the end of his life.
Last time he visited Kajmakcalan on September 15 1928, marking the 10th anniversary of the Dobro Pole Battle.
R. A. Reiss died on August 8, 1929 in his villa in Belgrade called “Dobro Pole” and he was buried at the Topcider cemetery. At his request his heart was taken away in an urn on the peak Kajmakčalan, where it rested along with other soldiers that died here. The heart today is missing but the urn can still be seen into the chapel.
Origin of the name Kajmakcalan
The legend says that the name was given according to the thief “Kajmak” (the best), who climbed at the peak with his fellows, carrying the stolen gold from the raids. Kajmak, dug out a hole and hid the gold, after which the leader of group killed Kajmak and said that in this way he will be eternal keeper of the buried treasure. (Kajmakcalan – literally translation: Kajmak+calam = the best in stealing). There are also other legends and stories for the toponym Kajmakcalan.
Kajmakcalan today (photo gallery)
How to get to Kajmakcalan