Christo Nizamoff · 1974
By Mary Ann Clifford
Christo Nicholas Nizamoff was born September 2, 1903, in Resen, Macedonia, now Resen, Yugoslavia. Macedonia was partitioned in 1913 between Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Greece. Nizamoff’s parents were Maria and Nicholas Nizamoff, a businessman and landowner. Christo Nizamoff has two brothers and one sister.
Nizamoff attended grades one through eight in the two room Resen community school. He went to the Second Gymnasia of Sofia, comparable to high school and junior college in the United States, for four and one half years. Nizamoff worked during his summers for the Sofia newspaper, Nove Vreme.
In 1921, Nizamoff studied at the University of Sofia but was forced to leave the university when he became involved in a conspiracy against King Boris and the constitutional monarchy. Nizamoff then returned to Resen. A short time later he illegally left Yugoslavia and came to the United States.
The events leading to Nizamoff’s escape are not strictly biographic information but are extremely interesting and vital to the picture of Nizamoff’s life. Therefore they are outlined in Addendum I of this paper.
In 1921, Nizamoff, then age 18, landed in New York City. He stayed with a friend in New York City for a few months before moving to Putnam, Connecticut to live with his cousin, Jivko Nizamoff.
Nizamoff’s first job in the United States was working at a Putnam cotton mill oiling the looms for $25.25 a week. He also began teaching himself the English language.
After nine month, Nizamoff returned to New York City and became a night clerk at an apartment-hotel located at 1012 East 60th Street. As a part-time job, Nizamoff founded in 1925 the Macedonian Press Bureau which continued operation until 1930 when he came to Indianapolis. Also during that time, The New York Times printed a response Nizamoff write to one of their articles criticizing the Bulgarian Macedonians. In addition, Nizamoff wrote articles for Zora, a newspaper in Sofia.
In 1927, Nizamoff began work as the shipping manager for LaSalle Publishing Company in New York City. Also in 1927, Christo Nizamoff became a United States citizen.
In 1930, Nizamoff came to Indianapolis to work temporarily for the Macedonian Tribune, founded in 1927 as the official publication of the Macedonian Organization of the United States and Canada and the Macedonian-Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Churches. Nizamoff’s job became permanent, lasting 42 years, when the assistant editor who Nizamoff was replacing did not return from Bulgaria.
On June 4, 1939, Christo Nizamoff married Slavka (Alice) Doucleff. They have two children, Nicholas and Virginia.
Nizamoff took several months leave of absence from the Macedonian Tribune in 1946 at a request to broadcast in New York City for the Voice of America Behind the Iron Curtain.
In 1966, Nizamoff became editor of the Macedonian Tribune. In the same year, Nizamoff began work as assistant editor of Balkania, a quarterly magazine which stopped publication in 1973 for lack of funds.
Nizamoff retired as editor of the Macedonian Tribune on February 26, 1971. He now write periodically for the Indianapolis News.
Journalism Awards and Special Contributions:
Christo Nizamoff has received numerous city, state, and national awards for his journalistic contributions.
In 1967 and 1969, Nizamoff was awarded a George Washington Honor Medal plus $100 from the Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge for his editorials. “Abuse of Freedom” was the 1967 winning editorial written after demonstrations in Washington, D.C. Nizamoff wrote the 1969 editorial, “A Need for Rededication,” in response to the spread of violent dissent and disruption in the United States during the Nixon administration.
Several of Nizamoff’s editorials have been reprinted in newspapers other than the Macedonian Tribune. In 1967, one editorial about the Israeli-Arab war of that year was reprinted by a Bulgarian language daily paper in Tel Aviv. An article entitled “Tito is Bluffing — Yugoslavia is Sick” published in the November 17, 1968 issue of the Macedonian Tribune was reprinted with Nizamoff’s byline by eleven Croatian, Slovenian, and Albanian weekly papers in Chicago, Illinois; Cleveland, Ohio; Toronto, Canada; New York City, New York; Sidney and Melburne, Australia; Munich, Germany; and Rome, Italy. Two of Nizamoff’s editorials have been printed in the Congressional Record and several have appeared in the Indianapolis News.
Nizamoff helped found the Indianapolis Press Club in April of 1934. In 1966 he was awarded the title of Grand Buffalo.
Nizamoff became a member of Sigma Delta Chi in 1968. He was named to the Indiana chapter’s Board of Directors in 1969, and served as vice president in 1971. While president of the society in 1972, Nizamoff was instrumental in getting nationally known people to Indianapolis for conferences. Three of the most famous guests were Clay Whitehead, Ph.D., Senator Sam Erwin, and George Reedy, President Johnson’s Press Secretary.
In 1974, Nizamoff was named “Man of the Year” by the Indiana Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi. This was the first time the award was ever presented. Also in 1974, Nizamoff was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.
Citations, Other Contributions, Unique Aspect:
Christo Nizamoff belongs to several Balkanian organizations. He is a member of the Bulgarian Academic Society located in Munich, Germany. He is a founder and member of the Macedonian Patriotic Organization and is a member of the International House in New York.
Nizamoff has written 100 satirical sketches and 75 short stories in the Bulgarian language. The short stories, although sent to Bulgaria in 1939, were not published because of the communist takeover.
Nizamoff is also a member of the Indiana Historical Society, the Smithsonian Institute, and the Indianapolis Literary Club.
He was named to the Speedway, Indiana, Recreation Board in 1971, and in 1974 was awarded a citation for meritorious service.
Nizamoff speaks fluent English and is proficient in Russian, Serbian, Croatian, and Bulgarian. He also has a working knowledge of French and German.
The following information was gained through an interview with Christo Nizamoff:
In 1921, Nizamoff returned to his native Resen after being forced to leave the University of Sofia for his involvement in a conspiracy against the government. While in Resen, Christo was placed on a government black list when he was asked to study at a Serbian University and refused.
Several weeks later, Nizamoff and several other young men were in Bitolya at a friend’s house. They talked and began singing banned Bulgarian songs. An anonymous person informed police that the group of men were conspiring against the government. The police told the young men that each of them would be questioned which was the equivalent to being jailed for several weeks and beaten. Nizamoff and the others decided to leave the country illegally. On a raining March night the group of fifteen went to Lerin, a border town under Greek rule. From there Nizamoff went alone to Solen, a port city on the Agean Sea. Nizamoff’s father obtained Christo’s legal passport by paying dearly “under the counter” and sent it to Christo in Solen.
Nizamoff’s original intent was to got o Vienna, Austria and study law. Most journalists in Europe at that time were former law students. Nizamoff chose Vienna because he knew the German language well and education was cheap. Nizamoff changed his mind when he met a student from Vienna in Solen who said there was too much political turmoil in Vienna. The student suggested the United States.
Nizamoff went to the American consul in Solen and applied for a visa to the United States. For entry to the United States at that time one only needed to have $50 and to know someone to go to upon arrival in the United States. Nizamoff had enough money and had a cousin living in Putnam, Connecticut. Luckily for Nizamoff, his visa application was processed only a few months before the United States initiated the quota system for immigration.
In Solen, Nizamoff’s cousin, Alexander Nizamoff, owned a travel agency. Alexander bought Christo’s steamship ticket to the United States.
Nizamoff sailed to France on an Italian ship and landed in New York City on June 20, 1921.