Neutral, they welcome the various belligerents to do their portrait. Along the front line, soldiers from both sides stop by their home. Thanks to the diversity of the captures, the Manaki brothers’ work retells the lives of people who went there. And these rarities that can be admired at the Caen Memorial in the beginning of 2016 also adorn the museum premises of the French cemetery in Bitola.
A great deal of the Manaki brothers’ work is still unexplored. We assume that their work will contribute at any rate to rehabilitate the memory of the French soldiers of the East, and give a face to the soldiers, on which Albert London said: "Be kind to the Eastern Army, who, bitten by mosquitoes, fight in a country where passersby do not decipher the letters of their epitaphs".
After the war, the Manaki brothers travel throughout the Balkans with their camera. They open a cinema in 1923 in Bitola (573 seats!) and they broadcast the most important films of the era. It was destroyed by fire in 1939. The Second World War separates them, leaving Janaki to live in Thessaloniki, as a Greek citizen, while Milton remains in Bitola and becomes a Yugoslav citizen. Janaki dies in poverty and oblivion in 1954, while Milton is constantly honoured by the Yugoslav rule of the young federal republic until his death in 1964.
Before disappearing, Milton entrusts the brothers’ photographs in the Macedonian archives: nearly 10,000 glass plates and 8000 photo negatives. This treasure languished in obscurity for decades. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, their symbolic work becomes interesting once again. The Balkans is shaken again by nationalism and conflicts, while the brothers’ inheritance is soon to be claimed by all countries of the region from Greece to Romania. And even today, Greece, Macedonia, Albania and Turkey claim it at the same time, sometimes even leading to severe quarrels. In any case the Manaki brothers can be considered as Europeans, even before the term was coined, or at least as important people of the Balkan culture, since they witnessed the history and culture of Turkey, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania and the Balkan Jews and Roma. Their recognition would have been even greater if their contribution to the Balkan culture, in general, had a consensus ...