Being neutral, they welcomed a variety of opponents to take their portrait. Along the front line, soldiers from both sides stopped by their home studio. The diversity of the Manaki brothers’ work retells the lives of people who went there. And these rarities that can be admired at the Caen Memorial in early 2016 also adorn the museum 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 restore the memory of the French soldiers of the East and put a face on them, about which Albert London said: "Be kind to the Eastern Army, who bitten by mosquitoes, fight in a country where passers-by do not decipher the letters of their epitaphs".
After the war, the Manaki brothers travelled throughout the Balkans with their camera. They opened a 573-seat cinema in 1923 in Bitola and broadcast the most important films of the era. It was destroyed by fire in 1939. The Second World War separated them, leaving Janaki to live in Thessaloniki as a Greek citizen, while Milton remainsed in Bitola and became a Yugoslav citizen. Janaki died in poverty and oblivion in 1954, while Milton remained honoured by the Yugoslav rulers of the young federal republic until his death in 1964.
Before disappearing, Milton entrusted the brothers’ photographs to the Macedonian archives: nearly 10,000 glass plates and 8,000 negatives. This treasure languished in obscurity for decades. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, interest grew in the their symbolic work once again. The Balkan region was again shaken by nationalism and conflicts, while the brothers’ heritage was soon to be claimed by all countries of the region, from Greece to Romania. And even today, Greece, Macedonia, Albania and Turkey all lay claim to it, 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 found consensus.