FOR FREEDOM AND PERFECTION. The Life of Yané Sandansky
Mercia MacDermott





Those who had seen the Rila Congress as the dawn of a new era were soon to be rudely disillusioned. Far from ushering in a period of concord and constructive work, the Congress was, in fact, the swansong of the united Organization.


The blame for the final schism has frequently been laid at the door of the Left. In fact, it was the Right Wing which, from the very start, attacked and sabotaged the Congress decisions, and which took the first available opportunity to split the Organization and to exclude the Left. Unfortunately, the Serchani played into their hands by failing to fight sufficiently hard for general acceptance of their principles. Absorbed in schemes for cultural and economic progress, they seem to have assumed that the Congress decisions would be universally honoured and that the defeat of the Right was now irreversible. The questions which the Serres delegates were mandated to raise at the forthcoming Second General Congress give little indication that any further major battles were expected. Apart from one potentially controversial item which required the Congress to define the Organization’s attitude towards all those in the Principality who engaged in Macedonian affairs, all the other recommendations were concerned with relatively minor matters of administration and accountability.


It was not until October 1906 that the Left seems to have fully woken up to the danger of the Right backlash. Polemical articles began to appear in Revolyutsionen List, which had resumed publication in September, and, at a meeting of the Serres delegates to the General Congress, Yané forecast that the Right Wing would not come to the Congress at all, because they knew their delegates would be debarred under the rule which disenfranchised those who left the Organization’s territory. [1] He therefore warned the Serres delegates to expect some attempt at preventing the Congress from opening. [2]


The first post-Congress attacks on the Left came from a sadly unexpected quarter—from Petko Penchev, who, together with Yané, had



1. Article 3 of the Rules reads: ‘Every member who leaves the Organization’s territory, be he an official or not, loses his rights as such for as long as he is outside.’ Article 27 lays down that persons elected must have been members of the Organization for at least one year.


2. Arnaudov, Opus cit., p. 16.





written and signed many of the recent policy statements issued by the Serchani, including their defence of the action against Captain Stoyanov. One of the many intellectuals whom Yané deliberately sought to attract, Penchev was one of the few who deserted him in an ideological volte face of staggering proportions. Silyanov—himself an adherent of the Right and no apologist for Yané—describes Penchev as ‘a great opportunist by nature and in his mental make-up’. [3]


Penchev, who was born in Varna, left the University during the Ilinden Rising to join Chernopeev’s cheta: ‘A wave of enthusiasm had engulfed our youthful souls, and, together with fellow students, I found myself beyond the Osogovo Mountains.’ [4] After the Rising, he resumed his studies, this time in Geneva, but, in the spring of 1904, he returned to Sofia with the intention of going to Macedonia with Pando Klyashev, the Kostur voivoda. Instead, however, he went to Pirin with Yané, ‘not only because his cheta was ready to leave immediately. Sandansky wore the halo of an extreme left-winger, and I, too, had to pay the price of the youthful passion which had infected most of my fellow students.’ [5] ‘Young, without an established ideology, and with virtually no knowledge of the Macedonian struggles,’ [6] as he himself put it, he was totally unprepared for the Socialist theories and the criticisms both of official Bulgaria and of the Right Wing which he heard in the Serres camp. He was also shocked, as Yané himself had once been, by the harsh punishment of traitors and opponents of the Organization. Initially, under Yané’s personal spell, he embraced the ideas of the Serchani without truly understanding them. ‘Sandansky dominated everyone not merely with his fanaticism. Tall, big and spruce, with his grey tunic and white leggings picturesquely bound with black braid, big forked beard and eyes that went through one, Sandansky was a veritable forest deity. He had a will of steel, and not even his greatest opponents deny his gifts as an organizer.’ [7]


Soon, however, Penchev’s basic political instability reasserted itself. On his return to the Principality (probably during the winter of 1904-1905), he found himself in the company of moderates and right-wingers, such as Hristo Matov, Ivan Garvanov, who, allegedly, loved him like a son, [8] and Damé Gruev, with whom, for a time, he shared a room in the Hotel Macedonia. Under the influence of this milieu, he abandoned what he called ‘the peculiar Serres internationalism’, [9] and went over to the Right Wing. During the summer of 1905, Penchev continued to write articles for Revolyutsionen List, some of which still reflected the orthodox



3. Silyanov, Opus cit., Vol. II, p. 441.


4. Penchev’s own words, quoted by Silyanov, Opus cit., p. 442.


5. Ibid.     6. Ibid.


7. Penchev’s own words, quoted by Silyanov, Opus cit., p. 442.


8. Ibid., p. 443.     9. Ibid.





Serres line. [10] One even stated that the Organization must have a class basis, since the idea of a ‘people’ is a fiction, and the Organization cannot equally defend the interests of all classes. [11] In between, Penchev came out with ideas totally foreign to the Serres Group, calling for uprisings in areas which had not participated in the 1903 Rising, and advocating the systematic use of terror—bombing, kidnapping and killing—in order to shake Europe as an alternative to the policy of the Directive, which he describes as good but impossible. [12]


In August 1905, Penchev returned briefly to Pirin, together with Gerdzhikov, at the time of the First Regional Congress, but, finding that ‘between my ideas and those of Sandansky there yawned a total gulf,’ [13] he returned to Sofia. After the victory of the Left at the Rila Congress, he flung himself enthusiastically into the struggle to overturn its decisions. In March 1906, Penchev wrote an article entitled Nationalism or Internationalism, which was published in two parts in the journal Makedono-Odrinski Pregled. [14] Extremely wordy in style, the article boils down to a statement that the Organization should be independent; that it should be national but not nationalistic; that the international principle is unrealizable, and that non-Bulgarians should not be admitted to its ranks, other than temporarily until appropriate national organizations are formed outside the territory of the Organization. The burden of his thesis is summed up in the following sentence: ‘The Organization not only is not and cannot be international—it should not even wish to be so. It is a Bulgarian organization and such it should remain.’ [15]


In the following numbers of Makedono-Odrinski Pregled, [16] there appeared a series of unsigned articles, entitled The Internationalism of the Internal Organization, which take issue with Penchev. The writer accuses Penchev of using internationalism as a bogy to frighten people with. Readers are reminded that, at one time, the enemies of the Organization had tried to make out that its members were a pack of rakes and robbers, but that since the public had refused to believe that an entire body could be composed of thieves, these enemies were now accusing it of being unpatriotic and were making use of the emotive word ‘internationalist’ because of its Socialist—and therefore suspect—connotations in the public mind. In the second article, the writer explains that autonomy is not a stunt, but a real political ideal, adopted because there



10. Ekonomicheskata borba na Organizatsiata, Revolyutsionen List, No. 17 (July 21 1905) and Ekonomicheskata politika na Organizatsiata, Ibid., No. 19 (August 25 1905).


11. Ibid., No. 19.


12. Ibid., No. 18 (August 9 1905), Evolyutsia ili revolyutsia.


13. Silyanov, Opus cit., p. 443.


14. Makedono-Odrinski Pregled, No. 19, March 1, 1906, and No. 20, March 10, 1906.


15. Ibid., No. 20, March 10, 1906, p. 313.


16. Ibid., Nos. 21, 22, 23 (March 20, April 1, April 10, 1906).





was no other way. Pointing out that there is a difference between the ideal of free Bulgarians who live and die quietly, and enslaved Bulgarians who cannot, the writer states: ‘When the closest, most intimate needs of a people, expressed in a political ideal for which they hourly yearn, are in conflict with the ideas of national unity, power, reunification, etc., it is a social necessity for this ideal to be placed above all national ideas and to be developed separately and independently of these ideas.’ [17] If autonomy is accepted as an ideal, then the co-operation of other nationalities must be sought, for autonomy cannot be realized by the Bulgarian element alone. In his third and final article, the writer asserts that it is not the internationalism of the Internal Organization which is responsible for Greek and Serbian nationalism, and he attacks Penchev’s theory that the Greeks and Serbs will never be anything more than the tools of their respective nationalisms and are incapable of being revolutionary. He admits that the national-revolutionary movement appeared earliest among the Bulgarians of Macedonia, while the other nationalities have not yet stirred—as witnessed by the fact that the Greek and Serbian cheti have to be imported, have no economic policy and are unsuitable for fighting the Turks—but he argues that this state of affairs cannot be regarded as permanent and, just as the Bulgarian Government failed to control the revolutionary movement, there is no reason to assume that the Serbian and Greek Governments will succeed in controlling their nationals indefinitely.


The conflict moved into a new stage when Penchev became the editor of a paper entitled Revolyutsia, founded on the initiative of Mishe Razvigorov, [18] as the organ of the Shtip District Committee. Revolyutsia appeared seven or eight times, with a circulation of about one hundred hectographed copies, which were sent to district committees and leading members of the Organization. In Silyanov’s words, the paper ‘examined the aberrations and mistakes subsequent to the Rising, unmasked the aims of Bulgarian Socialism and analyzed the decisions of the Rila Congress’. [19] In fact, this ‘analysis’ consisted of a wholesale attack on the Congress for not fulfilling its tasks and for adopting a new heretical line which Penchev dubbed ‘internationalist-evolutionary’ as opposed to the allegedly traditional ‘national-revolutionary’ line of the Organization.


Revolyutsionen List was not slow to join battle with Penchev. In an opening volley, Dimo Hadzhidimov attacked Revolyutsia, not for its contents, but as a matter of principle, stating that to publish an unauthorized paper before the official organ of the Organization had resumed



17. Makedono-Odrinski Pregled, No. 22, April 1, 1906.


18. Razvigorov, together with Damé Gruev and Dr Kushev, had represented the Skopje Region at the Rila Congress.


19. Silyanov, Opus cit., p. 445.





publication was a breach of discipline and unity. [20] In the same number he reprinted Penchev’s article from Revolyutsia without comment, [21] but, in the next number, he proceeded to tear it to pieces, citing Penchev’s own defence of the Serres policy in his article on the Kashina battle, [22] and declaring that the new element in the Organization was not what Penchev chose to call the ‘internationalist-evolutionary’ line, but his own ‘national-revolutionary’ line, which was nothing more nor less than internal Supremism. Penchev’s lengthy and venomed reply to this attack was also given space in Revolyutsionen List. [23] He maintained that the ‘old’ line represented full centralism in management, nationalism in composition, and insurgent actions as a means, while the ‘new’ line represented de-centralism and internationalism. A prominent feature of Penchev’s article is its anti-Socialism. He accuses Dimo Hadzhidimov of trying to impose Socialism on the Organization, and appeals to readers to realize this: ‘Are you still succumbing to the external ideas of Socialism, captivating and effulgent, indeed, but, alas, unfeasible?. . . Have you still not understood that you are becoming a plaything in the hands of certain doctrinairians, that they want to use you solely in the interests of Socialism, which has nothing in common with our sacred cause?’


Dimo Hadzhidimov replied to this tirade with a relatively short statement (only one page in comparison with the two and a half pages of small print occupied by Penchev’s article), remarking acidly that, in the case of some publications, the longer they are, the shorter the answer need be! He goes on to say that Penchev knows as little about Socialism as he knows about the state of the Organization, that what he calls ‘new’ is simply the 1902 line to widen the basis of membership, and that, although today the system of management is different, everything else—including principles and activity—remains the same. He denies trying to win the Organization for Socialism, saying that only an idiot Socialist could consider such a thing to be either necessary or possible, and he adds: ‘Vent your wrath on those "Socialists" who laid the foundations of the Organization, and you will find them not so much in our milieu as in that which you are struggling to represent.’ At the end, Hadzhidimov says that his newspaper has given space to Penchev in order to show that it is not afraid of his group, and he expresses the wish that Penchev would really come to dispute—to use his own words—’in the sphere, not of partisan struggle, but of pure theory’.


In December 1906, Penchev published a pamphlet [24] setting out his views in greater detail. Again, he attacks the Left for its policy of de-



20. See Revolyutsionen List, Year II, No. 4-5, October 7, 1906, Edna anormalnost v zhivota na Organizatsiata.


21. Ibid., Petko Penchev, Rezultatite na obshtiya kongres.


22. See Revolyutsionen List, No. 14, May 15, 1905.


23. Revolyutsionen List, No. 8, November 1, 1906, Moyat Otgovor.


24. Petko Penchev, Po nashite sporni vŭprosi, Sofia 1906.





centralization, its elective principle, its internationalism, its predominantly cultural and economic activity, and its refusal, in the name of pure revolution and independence, to accept outside help—all of which he calls ‘new’, Utopian and Quixotic. As far as the future is concerned, Penchev advocates a policy of ‘haste’. In his view, Hilmi Pasha’s ‘demonic’ plans for reform, coupled with action on the part of the Great Powers, will cut the ground from under the feet of the Organization as the source of revolutionary infection, since the granting of minimum rights to the peasants will lessen their enthusiasm for the Organization. Penchev, therefore, urges speedy action before the Organization withers and decays: ‘It must prepare itself hastily, precipitately and vigorously, so as not to reach the moment of decay. . . Either haste with the risk of unpreparedness, or non-haste with the risk of death—there is no middle road.’ [25] On the national question, Penchev repeats his view that the other Balkan nationalities are lacking in revolutionary psychology, and that the Organization is Bulgarian and needs help from Bulgaria, but at the same time, he defends the independence of the Organization, and says that Bulgarian aid must be given without obligation. Penchev also reiterates his complaints and accusations about Socialism in the Organization, as part of the ‘new’, unacceptable elements introduced by the Left.


Soon after the pamphlet appeared, Dimo Hadzhidimov wrote a scathing review in Revolyutsionen List. [26] He begins by welcoming its publication, saying that now everybody can read the theories of the ‘national-revolutionaries’ from the horse’s mouth, as it were, instead of accusing the Left of misrepresenting them. He then proceeds, with merciless logic, to cut through Penchev’s verbiage and to expose his muddled thinking on point after point. Rejecting Penchev’s thesis that, through reforms, Europe will give broad human rights to the Macedonian population, Hadzhidimov says that, if this were the aim of the reforms, the Great Powers would be trying to modernize Turkey and transform her into a strong and stable constitutional state. But, in fact, they are doing nothing of the kind. On the contrary, they want to prevent untimely eruptions and complications in Turkey. At the same time, they do not want all the springs of revolutionary infection to run dry, because then they would have no basis for expansion. Thus, what the Great Powers desire is not the abolition of all discontent in Macedonia, but merely a relative calm with no sharp struggles. Were it the case that existing reforms would lead to new reforms, and that Bulgaria would eventually become ‘a peaceful co-worker in the general process, in the general regeneration of Turkey’, it would be an excellent thing, and Hilmi Pasha should be made at least an honorary member of the Organization! Dimo Hadzhidimov is particularly biting in his comments on Penchev’s theory of ‘haste’.



25. Petko Penchev, Opus, cit., p. 54.


26. Revolyutsionen List, No. 11-12, December 16, 1906.





Describing the motto of the ‘national-revolutionaries’ as ‘Through death to death’, he asks what purpose will be served by haste, if the Organization is indeed doomed to wither away. He questions the ability of a ‘dying power’ to change the course of events, or even to be independent, and exclaims ‘O pitiful national-revolutionaries! Why do you break your heads with the degrees of readiness of the Organization, and invent all kinds of theories about "haste", when, instead of hurling your cause into new battles and bloodshed, you could be a hundred times more useful and consistent from the standpoint of your "revolutionary" logic, if, right now, you gave your hand to Hilmi Pasha and helped him peacefully and quietly to cleanse the country of "revolutionary infection". In this way, at least, your consciences would be quiet, since they would not be burdened by the shadows of the thousands of victims whom you would throw into the abyss with the "theory" of "speedy dying", without achieving a single shred of those empty and wild hopes that you pin on a dying factor. No, this is already a complete degeneration of revolutionary thought, this is a denial of the foundations of the national liberation movement.’


Hadzhidimov also takes up the ‘national-revolutionary’ accusations that the Left are the enemies of Bulgaria and the captives of a Utopia: ‘The "Utopians" of the Organization—these are Bulgarians like you, these are people who have neither denied nor will deny their nationality, who love their fellow-countrymen no less than you, but who oppose you, not in order to gratify some kind of internationalist ambition, but in order to destroy the evil which you are causing to your much extolled and lauded nation through your mistaken ideas and actions.’ Another key issue with which Hadzhidimov deals is that of Government help from Bulgaria. The Left was categoric in its assertion that the acceptance of any help whatsoever from the Bulgarian Government could only undermine the independence and internationalism of the Organization, and intensify the national rivalries and antagonisms which the Organization was trying to overcome. Penchev, on the other hand, after much dithering, had settled for a compromise which appeared to offer the best of both worlds; he agreed that independence was essential to the Organization, but argued that, since Bulgaria was its only source of material aid, such aid should be accepted, but without obligation or commitment. Pouring scorn on the idea that one can both accept financial aid and remain independent, Hadzhidimov exclaims: ‘But if putting your hand into other people’s cash-boxes and store-rooms, albeit only "temporarily", and thinking that by sleight of hand we can alter the inevitable course of events—if this is, and can pass for, an act of independence, then even a whore may boldly speak of her purity and independence, because she, too, commits herself to nobody.’


In conclusion, Hadzhidimov repeats his assertion that what is ‘new’ in the Organization is not the policy of the Left, but the spread of Supremism among the internal workers. Summarizing Penchev’s thesis as





‘we shall die, so let’s have a rebellion first’, he asks ‘when, in the past, has the Organization prepared itself to receive the Last Sacrament?’ In his opinion, the national-revolutionaries’ aversion for long-term work is simply Supremism par excellence.


Had Petko Penchev been an isolated phenomenon, the odd dissenting intellectual to desert the Serres Region, then he would probably have received scant attention, for the Serres Left tended to ignore such aberrations in their pursuit of more important things. But Petko Penchev was not alone. He spoke for an already recognizable group within the Organization, as shown by the publication of Revolyutsia by the Shtip District Committee. Shtip was part of the Skopje Region, which, at its Congress in July 1906, [27] passed some disturbingly strange resolutions. The decisions of the Congress were the subject of three articles in Revolyutsionen List. [28] Many of the decisions were somewhat vaguely worded, but, taken to their logical conclusion, they boiled down to the line advanced by Penchev, namely, that the Organization must be national in character and enter into relations with official Bulgaria, that arms and other material means can be obtained from anywhere, without commitment, and that armed intervention in Macedonia must be induced by preparing ‘a major revolution all over the country’, using ‘uprisings and terrorist actions’. In other words, the classic Supremist line that it is the job of the Organization to create disorders which will act as a pretext for Bulgarian military intervention. The aim of the Organization was, indeed, defined by a Congress resolution as being ‘to force the solution of this question (i.e. the Macedonian question—M.M.) by provoking the armed intervention of any of the factors interested in our cause’.


In the course of the discussions, Petko Penchev clearly defined the differences between the two wings of the Organization as follows: ‘the evolutionary trend presupposes slow, quiet, underground cultural and economic activity which will make the population conscious fighters for the freedom which they themselves will win; the revolutionary trend, on the other hand, presupposes speedy preparation for the speedy liquidation of the Macedonian question. It rejects cultural and economic activity as an immediate aim, and takes account of the diplomatic, international posing of this question, and also of those objective conditions in Turkey which make evolutionary activity impossible. And therefore, it comes out



27. The Minutes of the Skopje Congress (TDIA, f. 1508, op. 1, a.e. 463) reveal that the Congress was originally to have taken place in April 1906, but had to be postponed because there was no quorum of properly elected delegates. The Minutes also reveal considerable evidence of disunity, including repeated walk-out threats on the part of certain delegates. At the start of the Congress, rules for the peaceful conduct of business were suggested, and these included a proposal that no delegate should be armed, since, at the previous Congress, one delegate had attempted to shoot another.


28. Revolyutsionen List, No. 8 (November 1), No. 9-10 (December 4) and No. 11-12 (December 16) 1906.





as a most enthusiastic pioneer of terrorist actions.’ [29]


The Congress also discussed proposals for changes in the Statute which would reverse the process of decentralization and give more power, as formerly, to the Central Committee and External Representatives. It was even suggested that regional congresses be abolished. This proposal, however, was not acceptable to the majority of delegates, and it was decided that regional congresses should be held biennially, instead of annually. Matov and Penchev were given the task of drafting a new Statute and Rules.


The most disquieting of the Skopje resolutions was that which stated: ‘If, within five months of the date set for the General Congress, the latter does not take place, the present decisions will be mandatory for the Region, which will consider itself justified in acting as it thinks best.’ [30] Almost equally disturbing was the second resolution concerning the General Congress: ‘Congress (the Skopje Regional Congress—M.M.) appeals to the other Regions to hold their own congresses as soon as possible, so that the General Congress can take place this year, which Congress, it is hoped, will rescue the Organization from the administrative chaos into which it has now sunk, and will determine its correct and true line of development.’ [31] This was interpreted by the Left as meaning that, if the Congress took place, its task would be to overturn the decisions of the Rila Congress, and, if it did not take place, the Skopje Region would consider itself free to ignore those decisions and pursue its own policies. Commenting on the Congress decisions, Hadzhidimov declared: ‘This is a monstrous resolution, which casts full light on the true nature of its authors and proves, in a most eloquent fashion, that here a battle is being waged, not in the manner generally accepted by a stable organization with a normal outlook, but in an arbitrary, immoral and anti-revolutionary way. It is as clear as daylight that here the convening of the Congress is required, not for the purpose of hearing its authoritative and supreme will, with which all actions of the Organization in all its parts must comply, but simply for the purpose of getting the Congress to adopt the views of the people in the X area [32] in order to make them general for the whole Organization. Here we no longer have a struggle for the triumph of certain ideas in the name of Organizational solidarity and unity, but an act of treason towards the Organization, an act on the part of a certain grouping within it, a grouping which has decided to proceed counter to the general will of the Organization.’ [33]


Thus, even before the delegates to the General Congress had assembled, there prevailed an atmosphere of suspicion, animosity and strife more



29. Minutes of the Skopje Congress. TDIA, f. 1508, op. 1, a.e. 463, p. 31.


30. Revolyutsionen List, No. 11-12, 1906.


31. Ibid.


32. In the original article, the word ‘Skopje’ is omitted for security reasons.


33. Revolyutsionen List, No. 11-12, 1906.





suited to a conflict between two rival political parties in a crucial general election than to a congress of comrades professing a single aim.


The very convening of the Congress presented certain technical problems. First, the three-man Central Committee, whose duty it was to call general congresses, had ceased to function normally because its members were not all in one place, and, secondly, foreign incursions and various internal problems had so disrupted the life of the Organization in several Regions that it was doubtful whether properly mandated delegates could be elected before the Central Committee’s term of office expired at the end of October 1906. In this situation, on September 2, 1906, two members of the Central Committee—Todor Popantov and Peré Toshev— sent a letter to the Serres Regional leadership informing them that the Congress would take place ‘exactly in accordance with the Rules’, on the anniversary of the previous Congress. The two leaders explain that the delegates have already been elected in the Serres and Skopje Regions, that there is evidence to believe that the Strumitsa Region has also held a Congress, and that the Adrianople Region is well on the way to electing delegates, leaving only the Bitolya and Salonika Regions unprepared. They suggest that, if these last two Regions are not ready, the Congress should be held without them, and ask the Serres Regional Committee to fix a date and a place for the convening of a General Congress, according to Article 141 of the Rules. [34] A few days later (September 8 1906), Peré Toshev sent another letter to the Serres Regional Committee, in which he stresses the need to hold a General Congress as soon as possible. Among the reasons given are the parlous state of the Organization, the decisions of the Skopje Congress to seek funds anywhere, i.e. from places not envisaged by the Rules—and rumours about imminent war between Bulgaria and Turkey, and about the proclamation of the independence of Bulgaria as compensation for the cessation of Crete to Greece. Peré was worried that it would not be possible to call a Congress soon, in view of the fact that three Regions, including Bitolya and Salonika, had not held congresses to elect delegates and were unlikely to do so in the immediate future. He continued: ‘As for the correctitude of the Congress, let it be said that in the other congresses, too, with the exception of yours, some deviations have been allowed, deviations which can in no way be eliminated. . . Let us then commit a lesser crime: since a General Congress of representatives from all regions cannot be got together, let us then assemble a congress of representatives from the four Regions which first complete their Regional Congresses.’ In view of the fact that only two members of the three-man Central Committee remained together, Peré made the following suggestion for the formalities of calling



34. This letter, dated 2.IX.1906, and signed by Todor Popantov (with his pseudonym ‘Kiril’) and by Peré Toshev, with his normal signature, is in the Central Archives of the Bulgarian Communist Party (henceforward abbreviated to TPA), f. 226, op. 1, a.e. 281, pp. 15-16. The letter was sent from "Visoka", the code name for Sofia.





the Congress: ‘No other leadership is as complete as yours. Four members of the Skopje leadership are at present abroad. This is why I am turning to you to seek your co-operation, and this is why I have again come to your area. . . If you accept, so as not to waste time, write to all the regional leaderships which have had congresses, so that they, too, may accept the above-mentioned proposals.’ [35]


On September 15, 1906, having received this letter, Yané wrote to the Serres Regional Committee, referring to ‘information from our good friends from Bulgaria’, and to their proposal that the Serres Region should issue the invitations to the Congress. He repeats much of what Peré wrote regarding the dangerous situation both within and without the Organization, and concludes: ‘Our opinion is that our Regional Committee, as the most complete and properly elected, should assume the role of the Central Committee, and issue and distribute to the other regions invitations for the speedy election of delegates for the General Congress, which is to be called not later than the anniversary of last year’s (October 26) in Sofia.’ [36] In accordance with these instructions, the Serres Regional Committee sent out letters to the other Regions, explaining the seriousness and difficulties of the situation, and the need to call a General Congress before the terms of office of those elected by the previous one expired: ‘This is why we—the Serres Revolutionary Leadership—complete and properly elected—are assuming the role, only in this case, naturally, of the Central Committee (even on the invitation of one of its members), and, in the true interests of the Organization, we are inviting the remaining respected revolutionary regions to hasten and elect their delegates for the General Congress, which will be convened not later than the anniversary of last year’s one (October 26) in Sofia, because, for the time being, it is not possible elsewhere.’ [37]


Copies of the letter were also sent to the External Representatives, [38] and, in accordance with a further request on the part of Peré Toshev, a letter was sent to the Strumitsa Regional Committee asking for its assistance in getting the neighbouring Bitolya Region to hold a congress to elect delegates as soon as possible. [39] The Serres Regional Committee also sent letters to its own districts, informing them of the Region’s initiative in relation to the Congress. [40]



35. TPA, f. 226, op. 1, a.e. 281, pp. 17-20.


36. TPA, f. 226, op. 1, a.e. 281, pp. 23-27.


37. Ibid., pp. 30-32. Letter dated 20.IX.1906.


38. Ibid., p. 33. Covering letter dated 20.IX.1906.


39. Ibid., p. 29. Letter dated 19.IX.1906.


40. A rough draft of such a letter to the Melnik District Committee is preserved in the Archive of Ivan Harizanov, TDIA, f. 1508, op. 1, a.e. 470. It is undated, but the second part of the letter contains a request for details about an ‘ugly deed’ on the part of Turkish soldiers in the village of Vranya. This is probably a reference to the burning of the Potskov house, with much loss of life, during the second half of September 1906, so it is reasonable to suppose that the letter was written at the end of September or the beginning of October, 1906.





According to Lazar Tomov—then a member of the Skopje Regional Leadership—the Serres invitation was received about a week before October 26, and he immediately left for Sofia. When he arrived there, however, the External Representatives informed him that the Congress had been postponed, that the Strumitsa Committee had issued a new circular letter, superceding that of the Serres Committee, and that the delegates were now to assemble in Sofia during December. [41] Lazar Tomov does not give the reason for the postponement, but it is logical to assume that it was due to delays in the election of delegates in certain Regions.


The Serchani were among the first to arrive in Sofia, and by December 17 there were enough delegates to form the quorum demanded by the Rules of the Organization. [42] From the very beginning the delegates were divided on where the actual Congress should be held. As before, the Serchani and their allies from other Regions insisted that the Congress must be held on the Organization’s territory, and that the previous year’s meeting in the Rila Monastery represented an exception which was not to be repeated. Other delegates, including the Right Wing, argued that it should be held in the Principality, and eventually the Left gave way. There was, however, another bone of contention, and that was the right of certain delegates to be present at the Congress. The Rules of the Organization disenfranchized members living outside the Organization’s territory, and thus a number of Right-Wing delegates, including Ivan Garvanov, Boris Sarafov, Hristo Matov and Petko Penchev, were considered by the Left to be improperly elected. [43] According to an article written two years later by four Serres people who defected to the opposite camp, Garvanov told the Serchani that the delegates whom they found objectionable were ready to withdraw from the Congress providing that the Regions concerned were given time to elect new representatives. The writers allege



Hitherto, in the literature relating to the period, it has been generally accepted that it was the Skopje Regional Committee which took upon itself to invite the other regions to send delegates to Sofia by December 15. This view is based on Hristo Silyanov’s account of the Congress (Silyanov, Opus cit., pp. 479-480). Silyanov makes no reference to the Serres initiative, but throws the entire blame for the failure of the Congress on the Serchani. This he does by misrepresentation and by totally ignoring certain facts which cannot have been unknown to him as a participant in the events. Silyanov was a political opponent of the Serchani.


41. Memoirs of Lazar Tomov, TPA, f. 237, op. 1, a.e. 3, p. 22.


42. Lazar Tomov says that by December 15, 28 of the expected 48 delegates had arrived in Sofia. This fell short of the two-thirds required by the Rules, so they waited a couple of days, by which time the number had risen to 35. Since some delegates had been elected by more than one region, and some were unable to come, it was decided that work could begin. (Memoirs of Lazar Tomov, TPA, f. 237, op. 1, a.e. 3, p. 28). Silyanov gives somewhat different figures. According to him, the absolute number of delegates was 51, of which 39 actually came to Sofia. (Silyanov, Opus cit., Vol. II, p. 481.)


43. Hristo Silyanov does not mention this point, which is a very important one in determining the nature of the ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ at the Congress, and motives for sabotaging its convening.





that the Serchani had insisted that the unacceptable delegates must simply leave and that the Congress should continue without replacements. [44] Yané himself indicated that it was the legality of certain delegates which was at the centre of the controversies. Reporting to the Third Congress of the Serres Region (July 1907), on behalf of the latter’s delegation to the General Congress, Yané said: ‘The disagreements which had appeared within the Organization divided the delegates into two camps with mutually exclusive standpoints. A majority of unlawful delegates wanted to exert pressure upon the Congress, forcing their harmful views upon the Organization. The delegates (i.e. those of the Serres Region—M.M.) were not trying to prevent the holding of a general congress, but on one condition—lawful representatives from the interior. The whole job of the delegates from here (i.e. Serres—M.M.) was to prevent the congress being held with the kind of delegates present.’ [45]


Lazar Tomov, who acted as secretary for the session in question, confirms that the Serchani had formed the opinion that the Right Wing was trying to win a majority, and says that, towards midnight, a group of left-wingers, named by him as Chernopeev, Chudoto, Krŭstyu Bŭlgariyata, Stoyu Hadzhiev, Alexander Stanoev (Salonika), Petŭr Angelov (Skopje) and Dimitŭr Ikonomov, demonstratively left the meeting. [46]


Their action was not unprecedented in the history of the Macedonian movement. Gotsé Delchev himself had declined to participate in the Tenth Congress of the Macedonian Societies in July 1902, because General Tsonchev had invited delegates only from those Societies which supported his policies, thus giving himself an unlawful ‘majority’. The ‘minority’, consisting of delegates opposed to Tsonchev who had managed to get their credentials accepted, had walked out and held a congress of their own. The Serchani did not go as far as that, since, at this stage, they had not abandoned all hope of holding a proper congress.


After the left-wing walk-out, Mihail Gerdzhikov made a powerful appeal for reason, reminding delegates that the eyes of thousands of wretched people in Turkey were upon the Congress. No other general sessions were held, but, some days later, ‘on the first day of Christmas’,



44. See llinden, No. 25, February 27, 1908, Po otkritoto pismo na Sandansky, an article signed by Bozhova, Zapryanov, Zankov and Chavdara.


45. Minutes of the Third Congress of the Serres Revolutionary Region, 1907. TPA, f. 226, op. 1, a.e. 279 (original ms) and f. 226, op. 1, a.e. 280 (typed transcript).


46. Memoirs of Lazar Tomov, TPA, f. 237, op. 1, a.e. 3, p. 29. Silyanov (Opus cit., Vol. II, p. 480) alleges that, by walking out, the Serres Group committed a ‘historic crime’, and prevented the Congress from taking place. As far as Silyanov is concerned, this was the end of the Congress, and he makes no mention of the subsequent journey of some delegates to Rila and the Daev incident, which forced the Serres leaders to leave the Rila Monastery. Silyanov’s whole aim is to make out that the Serchani did not want the Congress to take place at all, and deliberately sabotaged it, whereas, in fact, it was the Serchani who took the initiative in calling the Congress and who, even after walking out of the session in Sofia, were prepared to meet again in Rila.





as Lazar Tomov puts it, all delegates received invitations from the External Representatives to go to the Rila Monastery, where the Congress would start again. Some delegates refused to go, and returned their invitations. [47] These, however, were not the left-wingers, who duly set off for the Rila Monastery, while their opponents apparently did not. [48]


On New Year’s Eve, Lazar Tomov [49] and a number of other left-wingers, including Yané, Chernopeev, Chudoto, Peré Toshev, Dimitŭr Stefanov, Alexander Stanoev, Mihail Daev, Krŭstyu Bŭlgariyata, Petŭr Kitanov and Dimitŭr Ikonomov, [50] were installed in a hotel in the village of Kocherinovo, within an easy day’s journey of the Rila Monastery. They all had supper at a private house, and celebrated the New Year in traditional style by much shooting, both at the house and on their return to the hotel. In the morning, on New Year’s Day, they set out for the village of Rila, where the whole population came out to gaze at Yané and Chernopeev, in particular. They lunched at an inn, where, according to Ivan Harizanov, they were joined by Dyado Iliya and other friends of Yané’s, and then they went on to Pastra, where they stopped at a tavern to rest. Since it was New Year, everyone was in festive mood and inclined to drink more than was wise. The feu de joie continued. Yané shot a cock; others fired at a glass of wine placed on a willow tree, while Daev shot at some goats on the hillside opposite. By the time they set out again, they were all rather drunk, and they travelled in groups of two or three, chasing and overtaking each other along the road. At one point, not far from Pastra, Tomov, Daev and two chetnitsi (whom Harizanov identifies as Mitso Vransky and Gosheto Vransky) were some way behind the others. Daev, on horseback, and his two companions were about thirty yards behind Tomov. It was already dusk, when a hunting dog (or sheep dog) suddenly barked at Daev, who shot it dead. A group of angry hunters then appeared, and, having roundly



47. Memoirs of Lazar Tomov, pp. 30-31.


48. In a letter to Boris Sarafov, dated 26.I.1907 and written from the village of Rila, Dyado Iliya Kŭrchovaliyata refers to rumours of a split in the Organization and asks for clarification. He also writes: ‘At the same time, we noticed that at the Congress which was to have taken place in.the Rila Monastery, only supporters of Sandansky and Chernopeev were present, without you, Gyorcho and other supporters of yours being present.’ (TPA, f. 248, op. 2, a.e. 45, p. 1.) Dyado Iliya was, by this time, secretly in league with Sarafov, and supplied the latter with information about the Serres Region. Other letters of his to Sarafov are preserved in the same file.


49. Lazar Tomov describes the journey to Rila in the memoirs quoted above. Another eye-witness, S. Chukurov, gives a similar account in his memoirs. See TDIA, f. 1508, op. 1, a.e. 506. Chukurov had joined the Organization as a school-boy in Samokov, where he subsequently worked as a bank-clerk from 1904 to 1906, when he was transferred to the village of Rila. Another account is contained in Ivan Harizanov’s article Vtoriyat Rilsky Kongress 1906 in Makedonska misŭl, Vol. 1-2, 1945. Unlike Tomov, Harizanov was not an eye-witness but knew many of the participants. Their accounts, though differing in detail, are substantially the same.


50. Lazar Tomov says that Stoyu Hadzhiev and Petŭr Poparsov were still in Sofia, and that Petŭr Angelov was in Kyustendil, but that all three were expected to arrive shortly.





cursed Daev, they attacked him physically. A fight ensued in which the chetnitsi shot two of the attackers dead and wounded a third.


All the delegates reached the Monastery that evening, and were much upset by this new incident and the situation which it had created. Naturally the police had been alerted, and it was decided that Yané, Daev and Chernopeev should leave before they arrived, in order to avoid being dragged around for questioning. Yané feared that, in view of his fight against the Supremist officers, the Bulgarian authorities were just waiting for a pretext on which he could be detained. Chernopeev was anxious to arrange for the transport of supplies to his Region, and likewise did not want to waste time in police stations. Accompanied by a few chetnitsi, they left the Monastery before the expected police blockade could take effect, and, struggling through waist-deep snow, they took refuge in a hut near the frontier, where, according to Tomov, they remained for some seventeen days because of the problems of avoiding frontier guards. On the eighteenth day, they managed to travel towards Kocherinovo, resting in the village of Rila on the way. The delegates who had remained in the Monastery were indeed arrested on the morning of January 2, but, being of lesser importance, they were all released after a few days.


Thus, the Congress was prevented from opening by what then appeared to be a concatenation of chance events. How far these events were indeed accidental, and how far they were deliberately engineered has yet to be fully elucidated. Certain factors, however, suggest that there is more in the case than meets the eye. Daev, for example, unbeknown to the rest of the Serchani, was already succumbing to right-wing influence, and, by the following year, he was conspiring against Yané in earnest. It is, therefore, not impossible that the clash with the hunters which led to the arrival of the police was not ‘just one of those things’, but a pre-mediated act of sabotage designed to cover up the Right Wing’s absence from the Congress. [51]


The suspicion that all was not as accidental as it seemed is strengthened by what followed the enforced flight of the Left. Instead of postponing the Congress, or trying to re-convene it elsewhere, those who remained in the Principality organized, with indecent haste and without the participation of the Left, a ‘Consultative Meeting’ on January 15, 1907, which outlined policy and took decisions as though it were a properly constituted congress. This ‘Consultative Meeting’, attended by twenty-



51. The incident—with its two murders—received curiously scant attention in the Press, and in general the case appears to have been hushed up. Vecherna Poshta—a paper inclined to support Sarafov—was one of the few publications to carry a report of the incident, which, under the headline ‘Sandansky’s New Exploits’, is described as a deliberate ambush of the local Supremists on the part of Yané (January 7, 1907). Daev’s name is not mentioned. Other leading papers, such as Mir (the organ of the National Party), Pryaporets (the organ of the Democratic Party) and Bulgaria (the organ of the Progressive Liberal Party) did not report the incident at all. Daev himself spent the rest of the winter in Sofia, without in any way being troubled by the police.





three people, issued a ‘Statement’ written by Petko Penchev and signed by twenty-two persons [52] (including several who were disenfranchised under the Rules). The ‘Statement’ reflected the already familiar views of its writer. ‘Revolutionary’ actions of all kinds were to take precedence over ‘evolution’: ‘. . . The Organization adopts cultural and economic struggle only in as far as it assists and is not in conflict with its immediate revolutionary tasks. The Organization has, as its first task, to prepare itself militarily. . .’ The future activity of the Organization was to consist of ‘ubiquitous and immediate’ actions of a mainly terrorist character. The fight against Serbian and Greek armed propaganda was one of the most urgent priorities, and the population was to play a more active role, with the cheti merely providing the leadership. There was also to be ‘all manner of reprisals against the Serbomane, Graecomane and Greek population’, including the burning of villages serving as bases for the bands, attacks on villages outside the Organization’s territory, economic boycotts, etc. Turkish, Albanian and other robber bands were also to be destroyed, outstanding political personalities, such as Turkish statesmen and the leaders of foreign propaganda, were to be assassinated, and bridges, railways, tunnels, banks, mines, etc., were to be blown up, so as to harm Turkish and European interests. Risings (in the plural!) were to be undertaken with the permission of the Central Committee and Congress.


On the question of finance, the ‘Statement’ follows Penchev’s self-contradictory thesis that, in order to be independent, the Organization should have its own means of support, but that since it is incapable of supporting itself, it should accept aid from everywhere, without commitment. The ‘Meeting’ considered that the Organization should have ‘a friendly and correct’ policy towards the Bulgarian Principality, but that ‘in its mutual relations with Bulgaria, the Organization must be very careful so as not to succumb to influences which can compromise its independence’.


The ‘Statement’ also rejects the Statute and Rules adopted by the Rila Congress: ‘The Meeting examined the Rules worked out by the last General Congress and finds that they are, to a large extent, impracticable and unfeasible, and have contributed in no small way to the present anarchy within the Organization. The Meeting, however, refrained from pointing out their negative sides, and likewise from indicating the positions on which its management should rest. It (the Meeting—M.M.) proposes that the Regional Organizations, through their congresses, or through written agreement, should themselves give their opinions on this question and indicate the reforms which they consider necessary.’


In other words, the lawful, unanimous decisions of a properly constituted Congress, which had taken place after nearly two years’ discussion of the questions involved, were declared ‘impracticable’ and were set



52. See Silyanov, Opus cit., pp. 482-486.





aside by an irregular ‘meeting’ at which not all the Regions were even represented. The ‘Meeting’ stopped short of electing a new Central Committee, but agreed that the Regions should elect their own External Representatives, and, as a result, Ivan Garvanov (Salonika), Boris Sarafov (Bitolya) and Hristo Matov (Skopje) were chosen to act on behalf of the Organization in the Principality. There, they proceeded to publish a new paper called Ilinden, whose editors were Vasil Paskov, Petko Penchev and Yavorov. [53] Unfortunately, Revolyutsionen List had again ceased publication, mainly due to financial difficulties, thus leaving the field clear for the Right Wing, who apparently had access to sufficient funds.


From memoir material, it appears that even now an attempt was made at reconciliation by Dimitŭr Katerinsky (Adrianople) and Boris Monchev (Salonika), who visited Yané in a hut near the village of Rila. Yané received them politely, but expressed the opinion that as long as there were ‘deep differences on matters of principle’, no understanding could be reached. In particular, he said that, as far as Garvanov and Sarafov were concerned, there could be no compromises, concessions or co-operation. [54]


According to Lazar Tomov, [55] the Left held a meeting of its own at the beginning of February, at a farm belonging to the brothers Bashtavelov, in the village of Golyamo Selo, near Dupnitsa. The meeting, which lasted a week, was attended by Yané, Chernopeev, Peré Toshev, Chudomir, Poparsov, Dimitŭr Stefanov, Krŭstyu Bŭlgariyata, Alexander Stanoev, Stoyu Hadzhiev, Daev, Petŭr Kitanov, Dimitŭr Ikonomov and Lazar Tomov. [56] The main items for discussion were how to bar the way to Supremist infiltration and what to do about the Skopje, Bitolya and Salonika Regions, which were badly affected by Greek and Serbian incursions and by internal dissention. Unfortunately no agreement could be reached because of certain differences between Yané and Chernopeev. The two men, while remaining close friends, could not always see eye to eye on every problem. Yané was essentially a cautious person of the ‘when-in-doubt-don’t’ school, disinclined to take risks and slow to accept new theories. Chernopeev, on the other hand, was impulsive and given to



53. Yavorov participated in name only, to add prestige to the paper. He had taken no active part in Macedonian affairs since the Uprising.


54. See: Yurdan Anastasov, Spomen za Yané Sandansky, p. 323. Anastasov says that Katerinsky himself told him the story and said that Hristo Silyanov was also supposed to have gone, but was prevented by illness from so doing.


Petko Penchev refers to a projected meeting with Yané by the frontier, but alleges that he and his friends did not go because they feared that Yané had invited them in order to kill them! See Ilinden, No. 13, 12.I.1908.


55. See Lazar Tomov’s memoirs, TPA, f. 237, op. 1, a.e. 3, pp. 36-44.


56. Petŭr Angelov (Skopje) was also supposed to have attended, but news was brought by Marko Lazov from Kyustendil that Angelov had been attacked and beaten up in the premises of the Organization’s ‘frontier post’ by a band led by the Skopje right-winter, Mishe Razvigorov, who had also taken possession of some twenty guns and a quantity of ammunition hidden by Krŭstyu Bŭlgariyata, another Skopje left-winger.





extreme enthusiasms. In Golyamo Selo, Yané (supported by Chudomir, Krŭstyu Bŭlgariyata, Stoyu and Dimitŭr Ikonomov) offered to send armed groups, at the expense of the Serres Region, to the Skopje Region, where certain of the voivodi were friendly towards the Serchani, and where the disorganization caused by the defeat of the Ilinden Rising was not so great. He considered that, once the Skopje Region was settled, it would be easier to restore order in the Bitolya and Salonika Regions, but he was against giving money to these Regions immediately, because he did not think that it would be rationally used, since many of the old leaders had been replaced by uneducated persons, lacking in authority and indulging in personal partisan struggles and intrigues. Chernopeev (supported by the other seven men) wanted to send cheti into all three Regions immediately, using Serres money. He himself was ready to go at once to the Bitolya Region, and invited Yané to go to the Salonika or Skopje Regions, personally to direct the struggle against outside incursions, in view of the fact that they were workers for the Organization as a whole, and not simply of one Region. This plan of Chernopeev’s, however, involved risking what was sure for what was not, since, if the leaders of the two best organized Regions left their posts, there was no guarantee that, in their absence, Sarafov would not send his cheti there, instead of into the western Regions. While neither Yané nor Chernopeev was in favour of accepting official Government aid from the Principality, but of using Serres money only, some of the other men, including Stanoev, Stefanov, Peré and Poparsov, considered that some aid from the Principality might be accepted for the Bitolya and Salonika Regions where there was a great need for arms. They argued that, in the past, Chernopeev had accepted 1,000 guns and 200,000 cartridges from the Bulgarian Government, but that this had not prevented him from remaining a left-winger.


Thus the discussions ended inconclusively. The differences between Yané and Chernopeev, however, remained differences between comrades, and in no way affected their personal relationship, or their ability to cooperate on other issues. The differences between Left and Right were, in contrast, of a truly fundamental character precluding joint activity. The Organization was indeed divided into ‘two camps with mutually exclusive standpoints’. Even had there been no ‘Daev incident’, even had the Right Wing made the journey to the Rila Monastery, no permanent reconciliation could have been achieved. At best, some formula might have been found to postpone, but not to avert, the ultimate schism. Had Damé Gruev once again chaired the discussions, using his authority and genius for compromise, he might have succeeded in pouring oil on troubled waters. But Damé never arrived in Sofia. Hurrying north from Salonika where he had gone to cope with the aftermath of an ‘affair’, [57] he was



57. A teacher named Matsanov had unwisely kept a diary with lists of active revolutionaries. The diary had been found by the Turkish police and given to Hilmi





killed in a battle with the Turks near the village of Rusinovo in Maleshevia.


Yet even this grievous loss was by then only of marginal significance, for the schism was a fait accompli even before the delegates assembled, and whatever happened in Sofia or in Rila must be seen as an effect rather than a cause. The course upon which the Right Wing had embarked was, in essence, little different from the traditional policy of the old Supremists, and, as time went by, this became increasingly obvious. In the past, under Gotsé Delchev, the Organization had not hesitated to break off relations with the Sofia Committee or threaten the Supremists with armed resistance, and Yané was prepared to do the same with the Neo-Supremists. Penchev’s new ‘revolutionary’ theory of ‘hasty’ actions ‘temporarily’ financed by the Bulgarian Government spelt death for the cause of multinational autonomy, which, in its turn, was the only way in which the whole Bulgarian population of Macedonia could hope to preserve its national character. Yané would never allow himself to be manoeuvred into a position in which an improperly elected ‘majority’ could bind him to policies which were at variance with his basic conception of the Organization. There were certain things over which no compromise or concessions could be made.


This the Right Wing understood only too well. Yané was not a comfortable person to have at a Congress. His powerfully attractive personality could influence and sway the undecided, and, since he could be neither bent nor broken, he had to be excluded and excommunicated, if the Right Wing was to achieve a stable ‘majority’, such as they had at the ‘Consultative Meeting’. Their common fear and hatred of the Serchani had by now united the other two groupings within the Organization, namely the followers of Matov and Garvanov and those of Sarafov, who had previously operated separately with reciprocal feelings of rivalry and dislike. Garvanov and Sarafov, who, it is said, could not stand each other personally, [58] managed to overcome their mutual antipathy sufficiently in order to join forces against the Left.


From now on, Yané was to find himself increasingly under attack from a growing number of enemies, who included not only the Turkish authorities, but also the combined forces of the Right and those official circles in the Principality who stood to gain from Neo-Supremism within the Organization. The prospect neither daunted nor dismayed him, for he equated life with struggle. Had he seen this struggle simply as a daily rat-race for personal survival and advance, life would have been much easier for him, and he would certainly have had fewer enemies. But Yané was not made like that. He saw the world with the eyes of a visionary, through the rainbow spray of sunlit waterfalls, across distances so crystal clear that



Pasha. As a result, some 36 leading citizens, teachers, etc., had been arrested and many others had fled. Matsanov went mad from remorse.


58. See Ivan Harizanov, Vtoriyat Rilski Kongres 1906, Makedonska misŭl, Book 1-2, 1945.





the furthest horizon seemed to lie at his feet. He measured the quality of life around him against the incomparable beauty of Pirin, against the infinite riches of nature, and he boldly set his sights on a perfection that would be hard to attain. In his mind’s eye, he saw the wretched villages of the Serres Region, not merely liberated from Ottoman rule, but transformed spiritually, culturally and economically, and cleansed for ever of the ‘vermin’ responsible for human misery. And beyond the Serres Region, he saw the whole wide world lost, like the blue Aegean, in a shimmering haze, waiting for men of courage and vision to join hands in a common struggle. . .


His enemies poured scorn upon his dreams, and, between calling him a ‘Socialist’ and a ‘bloodthirsty monster’, they sneeringly called him ‘Don Quixote", but, as far as Yané was concerned, it was all water off a duck’s back. Penchev was right when, in one of his more lucid moments, he described Yané as a man who had ‘wholly and sincerely dedicated himself to the Cause’, a man ‘endowed with strong faith and iron pertinacity’. [59] Yané’s beliefs meant more to him than life itself, and he would burn at the stake sooner than renounce one iota of his creed.



59. Ilinden, No. 11, January 5, 1908.


[Previous] [Next]
[Back to Index]