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

 

17. LEFT WING, RIGHT WING

 

 

The rift between Left and Right was now complete. The real reasons for this state of affairs went much deeper than the actual murders, which were, in fact, a consequence rather than a cause. The real reasons become plain only when the Organization is viewed not in isolation, but in the context of the political and economic processes then at work in the Bulgarian Principality and elsewhere, and when the Serres Left is seen as a part of the general Bulgarian Left.

 

In the Principality, the first decade of the Twentieth Century was characterized by a rapid acceleration in the development of capitalism. All the necessary pre-requisites were at hand: a considerable accumulation of capital available for investment; suitable raw materials, such as wool, cotton, tobacco, coal, wood and grain, and a potential labour force composed of ruined peasants and craftsmen. Political power was in the hands of parties representing a section of the rising industrial bourgeoisie, who passed protectionist and other legislation to suit their own interests. This boom in the development of capitalism in Bulgaria coincided with the transition, on the part of world capitalism, to its higher stage of imperialism, characterized by the creation of monopolies, by the export of capital and by the division of the world between the leading industrial powers. Foreign capital entered the Bulgarian Principality mainly in the form of loans, the interest on which absorbed almost a quarter of the State budget. Many of the largest banks and insurance companies in the Principality were wholly or partly financed by foreign capital. It was not in the interests of the imperialist powers that Bulgaria should become a maching-building country and, therefore, in spite of the rapid development of capitalism, she remained a predominantly agrarian country, with light industry turning out food products, textiles, vegetable oils, matches, skins, etc.

 

Though still relatively weak and under-developed, the Bulgarian bourgeoisie was a rapidly growing class which needed room in which to expand its economic activity. For this class, the liberation of Macedonia was not purely and simply a matter of righting a crying wrong, and of restoring the unity of the Bulgarian people. In the minds of the Bulgarian bourgeoisie, side by side with humanitarian and patriotic motives, there existed a desire to dominate and exploit an area wider than the limited territory of the Principality. In all the neighbouring states, the bourgeoisie

 

 

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was inspired by similar ambitions vis-à-vis Macedonia—without, of course, having any real claim to the area on ethnic grounds. Ignoring the fact that these rival ambitions must ultimately bring their plans to nought, the Bulgarian bourgeoisie continued to pursue the ‘national ideal’ of reuniting the ‘entire Bulgarian" people’. From 1905 onwards, there was a marked deterioration in Bulgaria’s relations with Turkey, and the latter, convinced of her neighbour’s warlike intentions, began to make discreet inquiries to other nations as to their possible reaction to a future conflict between herself and Bulgaria.

 

Behind the ambitious bourgeoisie stood the ambitious Prince, whose dreams of imperial splendour went beyond the frontiers of San Stefano. The French diplomat, Maurice Paleologue, has described the curious prelude to an audience with the Prince in February 1908, when he was kept waiting for ten minutes in a small room containing a painting which, on examination, the Frenchman discovered to have been recently executed: ‘I quickly understood why he kept me waiting, why he had made me spend several minutes of enforced solitude in contemplation of the picture. Painted in a rather naive manner with bright colours, it showed the Bosphorus, Constantinople, Saint Sophia, the Great Wall, the Golden Horn, the Asian shore. High above this panorama, in the glow of an apocalyptic sky, the painter had depicted the victorious gallop of a splendid horseman, Tsar Ferdinand! No doubt about it, this crude painting was intended as the symbolic prelude to the interview to which I had been invited.’ [1]

 

During the same year, 1908, Ferdinand treated Paleologue, who was thought by some to be a collateral descendant of the last Byzantine Emperor, to an account of the royal visit to Constantinople in 1886. Ferdinand had asked to be permitted to enter Saint Sophia alone, and had used the opportunity to search for the slab of porphyry which marked the place where the Byzantine autocrats had stood during religious services. He had pushed back a mat and disclosed ‘the slab of porphyry on which the Basileus Justinian planted his feet, shod in the imperial purple. And I, too, I, too, set my feet on the slab of porphyry!’ [2]

 

The autonomy which the Internal Organization advocated might go a long way towards solving the problems of the peasantry in Macedonia and Thrace, but, obviously, it could satisfy neither the economic aspirations of the Bulgarian bourgeoisie, nor the imperial dreams of the Court. Hence their preference for Supremism in all its forms. Ferdinand and his Government needed a Macedonian Organization which would gear its activities to their needs and current policies, and they were prepared to pay handsomely

 

 

1. Stephan Constant, Foxy Ferdinand-Tsar of Bulgaria, London, 1979, p. 216. See also Hans Roger Madol, Ferdinand of Bulgaria, London, 1933, p. 115. Here the translation from the French is slightly different.

 

2. Maurice Paleologue, The Tragic Empress—Intimate Conversations with the Empress Eugenie, London, 1928, pp. 175-6.

 

 

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for such co-operation.

 

It was not only the Left Wing of the Internal Organization that was in conflict with the rulers of the Bulgarian Principality. The Bulgarian working class, peasantry, petty bourgeoisie and a large part of the intelligentsia all found themselves in the same position. Having won the General Election held in October 1903 by dint of gerrymandering and outright intimidation of the electorate, the ruling ‘Stambolovist’ National-Liberal Party proceeded to govern with a similar disregard for democracy and the public weal which earned them the hatred and contempt of most ordinary, decent-minded citizens. At the time of the Ilinden Uprising, the Bulgarian Army had not been in a fit state to embark upon a war with Turkey, but the Government was now making good the deficiency with a massive programme for the expansion and re-equipment of the armed forces. This involved large-scale purchases from abroad, in the course of which numerous Government supporters, and even ministers, engaged in profiteering to their own advantage, while the mass of the people paid through the nose. Indirect taxation, which inevitably falls heaviest on the poorest, more or less doubled in the period 1903-1907.

 

Labour relations were still in the laissez-faire stage, and, until 1905, Bulgaria had no factory legislation whatsoever. Wages were low, especially for women and children; conditions were frightful; the working day was on average 11-12 hours; sick-pay, pensions, holidays and other amenities were non-existent. The first decade of the Twentieth Century was, therefore, a period of numerous strikes and ever-intensifying class struggles, in which the working class rapidly grew in strength and militancy, under the leadership of the Bulgarian Workers’ Social-Democratic Party (Narrow Socialists) [3] a solidly Marxist revolutionary organization, which, in 1904, created the Bulgarian equivalent of the Trade Union Congress.

 

The Party of the Narrow Socialists was already a force to be reckoned with, not only on the industrial front, but also in Bulgarian political life. Dimitŭr Blagoev and five other Narrow Socialists had been elected to the National Assembly as early as 1899. In 1902, seven of the Party’s parliamentary candidates were successful, and it was largely due to their constant agitation that the Factory Law of 1905 was introduced. In 1910, the Party was to win the municipal elections in Samokov; the Red Flag flew over the Town Hall, and, until February 1912, when the enraged bourgeois opposition succeeded in putting an end to the ‘Samokov Commune’, the Narrow

 

 

3. Apart from the BWSDP (NS) there were other less influential, Socialist groupings (Broad Socialists, ‘Progressists’, etc.) whose main differences with the BWSDP (NS) consisted in their readiness to co-operate on a give-and-take basis with petty-bourgeois organizations, their rejection of strict Party discipline, and their belief that Trade Unions should be politically neutral, all of which the Narrow Socialists regarded as opportunism. Many of their members had originally been members of the BWSDP (NS), but had come to disagree with its totally uncompromising attitude to certain problems, and either resigned or were expelled. A number of these Socialists eventually rejoined the Narrow Socialists.

 

 

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Socialist councillors brought in a number of progressive measures based on the decisions of the Party’s Fifteenth Congress (1908): local taxes were based on income; kindergartens, orphanages, and cheap canteens for needy children were opened; free medical advice and medicines were made available to poorer citizens; municipal workers were granted an eight-hour day, and measures were taken to deal with speculators and profiteers. In the sphere of foreign affairs, the Narrow Socialists opposed the growing militarism displayed by the Bulgarian bourgeoisie, rejected the idea of reuniting Macedonia and Thrace with the Principality by means of war with Turkey, and advocated a strengthening of the internal revolutionary and democratic forces in the two provinces, with the ultimate aim of their becoming constituent republics in a Balkan Federation, i.e. a standpoint which coincided with the traditional thinking of the Internal Organization.

 

Not only were the policies of the Prince’s ministers heartily condemned in many quarters throughout the Principality, but Ferdinand himself was far from popular owing to his excessive personal interference in public affairs. On January 3, 1907, on the occasion of the opening of the National Theatre in Sofia, he was actually booed by crowds of students and striking railway workers. The Government retaliated by arresting large numbers of students, most of whom were either conscripted into the Army, or sent to the provinces. When the professors protested against this over-reaction on the part of the Government, the latter closed the University and sacked the professors.

 

All these events were taking place against the background of the epic revolutionary struggles in Russia, which began with the massacre of ‘Bloody Sunday’ in St Petersburg on January 9/22, 1905, reached their zenith with the nine-days’ armed uprising in Moscow during December 1905, and continued in various forms and places until 1907. Aimed at the abolition of Tsarism, the creation of a democratic republic, and the introduction of land reforms and an eight-hour working day, these struggles aroused enormous interest and sympathy in Bulgaria, a country where public opinion was traditionally Russophil, and where some of the slogans raised struck chords of topicality. While the parties of the governing bourgeoisie condemned the revolution in Russia, the workers and progressive intelligentsia greeted it with joy and did whatever they could to help by assisting Russian revolutionaries to buy arms in Bulgaria, putting pressure on the Government not to deport political refugees who sought sanctuary in Bulgaria, and sheltering sailors from the Battleship Potemkin who, under sentence of death for mutiny, managed to escape to Burgas.

 

The Serchani must, therefore, be seen, not as a refractory, ‘anti-Bulgarian’ fragment of the Macedonian movement, but as one of the many sections of Bulgarian society which loved Bulgaria but opposed her policies, which were in conflict with the monarchy and the bourgeoisie, which read Socialist literature, sang the songs of the Russian Revolution and support-

 

 

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ed the struggles of the Russian people, which they identified with their own. [4] Their conflict with the Right Wing, including the ultimate rift between the two groups, must likewise be seen as being in essence one of the many manifestations of the sharpening class struggle in Bulgaria and elsewhere. This becomes increasingly clear when one examines the reaction in various quarters to the murder of Garvanov and Sarafov. Many opposition papers gave less space to the actual murders than to the ensuing mass arrests—especially that of Anton Strashimirov, which provoked widespread public indignation. Columns of newsprint were devoted to scathing criticism of government policy both at home and vis-à-vis Macedonia, and there was a general consensus of opinion that the monarchy and the ruling National Liberals had been using the Right Wing of the Organization for their own partisan purposes, and that the murders were the result of their unwarranted interference in the affairs of the Internal Organization.

 

Rabotnichesky Vestnik (Workers’ Paper), organ of the Narrow Socialists, reported the actual murders in five and a half lines, on the back page, without expression of regret or condemnation. [5] In an editorial published a few days later, the paper described the murders as being ‘the fruit of interference on the part of the ruling bourgeoisie in the struggles of the Macedonian Organization’, and it went on to accuse the’ruling bourgeoisie’ of making the Macedonian question the pretext for its militaristic policies, and of exploiting it ‘not for the liberation of Macedonia, but for the suppression of freedom here, and for the achievement of its own ends’. [6]

 

A paper of a very different colour—Bulgaria, organ of the Progressive Liberal Party—also reported the murders without much detail, and then proceeded to lay the blame on the Government: ‘The murders bear witness to the total degeneration of the cheti and the policy associated with them, which the present rulers pursue for entirely selfish purposes. This policy has rendered the situation in Macedonia appalling: it is the most loyal ally of Turkish power. For years on end, our rulers have played with fire in order to maintain, perhaps unconsciously, anarchy over there, while oppressing and pillaging here, under the banner of false patriotism; this policy has been chiefly instrumental in encouraging covetousness on the

 

 

4. In its first number after resuming publication in September 1906, Revolyutsionen List carried an article about the terrible conditions in Russia and the heroism of her revolutionaries. Maxim Gorki—a great hero in Bulgaria—is mentioned as likely to become a minister in a future Provisional Government in the event of victory. The article goes on: ‘We shall be giving a constant chronicle of the events in Russia, from which the Macedonian revolutionary may draw valuable lessons, for he, too, like the Russian revolutionary, has to fight against a similar despotism, namely that of Turkey." (Revolyutsionen List, 10.IX.1906.) Subsequent articles included a statement by Maxim Gorki criticizing France for not supporting the Russian Revolution, and the speech made in court by Zinaida Konoplyankova, who shot the general responsible for repressing the December Rising in Moscow.

 

5. Rabotnichesky Vestnik, 4.XII.1907.

 

6. Ibid., 8.XII.1907.

 

 

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part of our enemies, and, second only to the Turkish regime in Macedonia, has inflicted the heaviest blows against our national cause. This policy, born in original sin, was, and still is, dangerous and disastrous. . . In its hands (those of the Government—M.M.) the Macedonian question was merely a means for thieving and exercising power.’ [7] The paper also declared that, if Panitsa was guilty of perfidy, so also was the Government in closing the University and in its other repressive actions.

 

Other papers which castigated the Government, rather than the instigators of the murders, were Proletariy, [8] Kambana, [9] Grazhdanin, [10] Pryaporets, [11] and Mir. [12]

 

Anyone who glances through the newspapers of the period cannot but be struck by the scant sympathy expressed for Sarafov, despite the tragic circumstances of his death. Pryaporets, for example, gave him an obituary of only thirteen lines, while Garvanov received a column and a half. A similar disproportion occurs in Mir, which devoted a whole column to the praise of Garvanov’s modesty, integrity, diligence, etc., but accorded Sarafov what must be the shortest, most ungracious obituary on record: ‘Sarafov’s biography is known.’ [13] What rankled with the editorial board of Mir was not so much the efforts of the Government to use Sarafov as a means of gaining control of the Organization for its own ends, as the unbecoming role played by Sarafov and some of his brother officers in connection with the General Election of October 1903. In order to ensure its own re-election, the governing National Liberal Party had arrested opposition candidates and leaders, and had employed gangs of thugs, including haramii in rebel uniforms, and Supremist officers, to terrorize the voters in many towns and villages. Complaints about these gangs were widely voiced in the Press and at sessions of the new National

 

 

7. Bulgaria, 4.XII.1907. By cheti, the paper means those sent from the Principality.

 

8. Proletariy (Proletarian) was the organ of a left-wing group whose members had originally been in the Narrow Socialist Party, but had left in 1905, and were dubbed ‘anarcho-liberals’ by their former comrades. The group included such people as Nikola Harlakov, Georgi Bakalov, Mihail Kantardzhiev, and Pavel Deliradev, most of who eventually rejoined the Narrow Socialists.

 

9. The contributors to Kambana (Bell) tended to be Broad Socialists. Its outspoken criticism of the Prince frequently brought it into collision with the censor and the police, who would confiscate the offending numbers.

 

10. Grazhdanin (Citizen) was a newspaper founded by the sacked University professors as part of their campaign against the personal regime of Ferdinand and government interference in academic freedom.

 

11. Pryaporets (Banner) was the organ of the Democratic Party, which had originally reflected the interests of the petty-bourgeoisie, but which was increasingly becoming the party of that section of the big industrial bourgeoisie which was Russophil in sentiment, and was linked with British and French capital, rather than German and Austrian.

 

12. Mir (Peace) was the organ of the Narodna Party, which was conservative in sentiment and represented the interests of the Russophil big bourgeoisie.

 

13. Mir, 30.XI.1907.

 

 

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Assembly. [14] All this was, of course, common knowledge, and had even impressed itself upon foreign journalists, such as the American, Frederick Moore, who commented: ‘A political party which had gained the election largely by intimidation at the polls used Sarafov’s aid to maintain its power.’ [15]

 

Garvanov had been in a Turkish prison at the time of the 1903 election and was therefore not associated in the public mind with political coercion. Even within right-wing Macedonian circles, Garvanov and Sarafov were not equally admired. Each of them had his own separate following, and the obituary of Sarafov printed in Ilinden—a newly-founded organ of the Right Wing—was so moderate in tone and so candid in its assessment of the deceased that it appears to have been written by a supporter of Garvanov! It reads in part: ‘A passionate, ardent personality, whose enthusiasms, feelings and impulses knew no bounds; a lively, rapid imagination, which often accepted dreams as reality. . . This restless temperament of his and this romantic’s enthusiasm often made him swing from one extreme to the other, and to do things which, later, in quiet moments, his common-sense may have regretted.’ The paper also spoke of his ‘cocksureness’ and ‘reckless determination’, his gestures of ‘theatrical conceit’, and his tendency to be carried away when making speeches. [16]

 

The only papers to lavish unqualified praise upon Sarafov were, predictably enough under the circumstances, Nov Vek (New Century), the organ of the governing National Liberals, and Vecherna Poshta (Evening Post), which tended to be pro-Supremist and anti-Socialist, and was one of the first Bulgarian papers to adopt the sensational style of the Western ‘yellow press’.

 

Nov Vek gave its readers few facts, but much rhetoric and many extravagant expressions of sorrow. Panitsa was compared to Judas, and the murders were said to have ‘dealt a mortal blow to the Bulgarian cause in Macedonia’. [17] Apart from defending the arrest of Strashimirov, so universally condemned by the rest of the Press as an assault on Parliamentary democracy, and declaring that the Macedonian problem should be left in the hands of the Bulgarian Goverrment, and not in those of

 

 

14. Mir, for example, specifically names Lt Sotir Atanasov (whom Sarafov later sent to stir up trouble in the Serres Region) as the leader of a pro-Government gang in Novoseltsi. (Mir, 16.X.1903.) In his memoirs, a contemporary, K.D. Spisarevsky, mentions the use made by Radoslavov’s Liberals of Sarafov’s ‘gangs’ during the elections. See BIA NBKM, f. 626, a.e. 106, pp. 50-52.

 

15. Frederick Moore, The Macedonian Committees and the Insurrection, article in The Balkan Question, edited by Luigi Villari, London, 1905.

 

16. Ilinden, 1.XII.1907. This is not the only sign that even some adherents of the Right Wing had reservations about Sarafov. Penchev, for example, admitted that Sarafov had displayed certain tendencies which served to justify the displeasure of Sandansky (Ilinden, 18.XII.1907) and that he had been indulging in activity of a kind that set the whole Organization against him (Ilinden, 12.I.1908).

 

17. Nov Vek, 30.XI.1907.

 

 

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sundry ‘figures’ and ‘workers’, [18] Nov Vek printed little about the murders and their repercussions.

 

Vecherna Poshta gave both men obituaries of just over a column each, although it clearly preferred Sarafov, whose portrait adorned the front page and who was said to be ‘a national hero’, ‘the personification of the revolutionary movement’, and ‘the idol of the Macedonian slave’. [19] In the days and weeks that followed the murders, Vecherna Poshta supplied its readers with the full details—both true and not so true—about the scene of the crime, the autopsy, the funeral, the course of police investigations, the conjectured whereabouts of Panitsa, and other current facts and rumours. The organic relationship of the Macedonian organisations with Bulgarian politics in general was further accentuated when Vecherna Poshta, which was known for its anti-working-class sentiments, blamed the murders not only on Yané, but also on unspecified Socialists and anarchists, thus provoking indignant protests from Rabotnichesky Vestnik.

 

One of the most interesting commentaries on Sarafov and the political struggles within the Organization comes from the American journalist, Albert Sonnichsen, who spent several months in Macedonia during 1906. His criticism of the Right Wing, and of Sarafov, in particular, gains in significance when one bears in mind that, unlike his colleague, A.D.J. Smith, he spent those months, not with the Serchani, but mainly in the Bitolya Region, i.e. in a right-wing stronghold. Sonnichsen saw both the positive and the negative in Sarafov, describing him as ‘fairly well educated, of brilliant wit and magnetic personality’, [20] and commented: ‘Had he not been corrupted by ambitious Prince Ferdinand, it is probable that his undoubted ability and energy would have gained him an honourable place in Macedonia’s history.’ [21] Sonnichsen has no hesitation in naming Ferdinand as ‘Sarafov’s master’, [22] or in blaming Sarafov for the introduction of ‘partisan broils into the Organization’. [23] He describes in some detail how Sarafov attempted to ‘gather the power of the underground republic into his own hands’, [24] using his magnetic personality to win ‘the blind admiration and loyal support of those youthful chiefs whose minds were of that type which follows only personal leadership, not yet broad enough to grasp an abstract idea and make that their guide to action. [25] Where charm failed, cash succeeded: ‘Against him he had the brainiest and the most clear-sighted individuals, but behind him were the ignorant masses, and all those whom money could buy, for he was as adept in

 

 

18. Nov Vek, 3/16.XII.1907.

 

19. Vecherna Poshta, 30.XI.1907.

 

20. Sonnichsen, p. 103.

 

21. Ibid., p. 223.     22. Ibid., p. 222.     23. Ibid., p. 94.

 

24. Ibid., p. 109.     25. Ibid., p. 107.

 

 

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bribery as a Tammany politician. This campaign of corruption Prince Ferdinand financed. I know of none of my friends in the Organization, of any influence, who have not been approached by Sarafov or his agents at some time or other.’ [26] Sonnichsen concludes: ‘This much is due Sarafov. His means were unscrupulous, but his end may not have been entirely selfish. Quite possibly his visions included a re-established Bulgar Empire, ruled over by a German Prince, hateful to all Bulgars, but still a Bulgar Tsar. No one doubts that he saw himself looming up definitely behind the imperial throne. To realize the bitterness of the opposition against him, it must be understood that the Bulgarian temperament is by nature democratic, to which imperialism is hateful; a temperament which takes more naturally to Socialism. Most of Sarafov’s opponents were indeed Socialists, and recognized in him only the creature of Prince Ferdinand.’ [27]

 

Of Yané, Sonnichsen had this to say: ‘I often regret that I did not make the short detour necessary to meet Sandansky in Razlog. I feel that his was the leading mind. He it was who ended the last of Prince Ferdinand’s intrigues in Macedonia by removing Sarafov from the field of activity. He and Chernopeev are the leaders of the Socialist wing in Macedonia, who would have substituted economic action for armed force.’ [28]

 

After Kambana had published the Open Letter, and an appeal to the other side to offer facts in answer to the Serres accusations against the Right Wing, the paper dropped all criticism of the Serchani, and published an editorial which began thus: ‘It would be pointless to wait to hear from those affected by the letter of Sandansky and his comrades, to expect them to come out with an honest, open word of explanation. No—the only word on their lips is the information—of little significance under the circumstances—that the authors of the letter are cut-throats’. Kambana ironically agreed that they were cut-throats: ‘If they had not been cut-throats under the present conditions in Turkey and with the present attitude of the Bulgarian governments towards them, they would have been obliged either to lay their heads meekly under the executioner’s chopper, or to shut themselves up in a monastery. If they had been less patriotic, and if they had had the impertinence to weep for their enslaved brothers from the corner of some office, as clerks well paid by the Bulgarian State, they would have come here to become top civil-servants, to be sent on paid business trips, to become, at least, diplomatic agents and secretaries. At worst, they could have become entrepreneurs and chairmen of Macedonian-Adrianople Charitable Brotherhoods.’ The paper pointed out that the great revolutionary heroes of the past, including Levsky and Botev, had also been called ‘cut-throats’ by the rich Bulgarian chorbadzhii who betrayed them to the Turks. Kambana continued: ‘Today Sandansky is a cut-throat, and so are his comrades, because they are organizing a free

 

 

26. Ibid., p. 109.

 

27. Sonnichsen, p. 110.

 

28. Ibid., pp. 266-267.

 

 

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and new Macedonia, and are hunting down and killing traitors and haramiya bandits, whose only desire is loot from the Macedonian villages and the Bulgarian State Treasury.’

 

‘If, this autumn, when he was in Sofia, Sandansky had agreed to visit the Minister for Foreign Affairs, as the latter several times invited him to do, so that he could come to terms, i.e. take money and ensure a good life for himself, here and along the frontier, in the pleasant western and eastern places—oh! then he would not have been a cut-throat, but a patriot and worthy of honour and respect. But now, since he prefers a life of privation, exiled from the official world, a life of toil aimed at bringing the slave to his senses and preparing him for freedom, now he is for the Bulgarian patented patriots only an ex-sergeant-major, good for nothing except a bullet and the gallows. . .

 

‘The citizens of Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Government have left their foreign policy in irresponsible hands. At Macedonia’s expense, a personal majesty is being inflated; at the expense of Macedonian freedom, sons of Macedonia and Bulgarian patriots are building palaces and piling up wealth; in the name of Macedonian freedom, haramiya cheti are fixing elections and blackmailing people.’

 

Referring to the Serchani as a ‘handful of brave, self-sacrificing people’, who ‘are revolted by this trafficking with the Macedonian cause", people who have not sold their consciences or become servile mercenaries, Kambana concludes: ‘they desire to organize the slave for conscious struggle against political and economic oppression; they seek to win the confidence of the slave; they rely solely on his trust. They are harsh and cruel, perhaps. Yes—such they are against the despot and the foe. But to their own people they are dear.’ [29]

 

One of the papers which made violent personal attacks on Yané was Vecherna Poshta, whose editor-in-chief, Simeon Radev, described him as ‘a terrorist of internationalism’, and proceeded to berate him for his alleged ‘spiritual poverty, and inability to rise to any ideological concept of any kind’. According to Radev, Yané was a bandit pure and simple, totally lacking in policy, or doctrines, who opposed a rising in Macedonia because it would put an end to his banditry. [30]

 

Not all of those who disapproved of Yané agreed that he was lacking in ideology. On the contrary, some of them considered that his sin lay in too much ideology, rather than in too little. The newspaper Den, for example, referred to the Serres Left as ‘fanatical sectarians’, [31] while Ilinden, the organ of the Right Wing of the Organization, more than once accused Yané of being a Socialist, although Petko Penchev, who

 

 

29. Kambana, 20.II.1908.

 

30. Vecherna Poshta, 16.XII.1907. Simeon Radev had edited L’Effort, a paper published in Paris during the period of Sarafov’s chairmanship of the Supreme Committee.

 

31. Den. Quoted in Ilinden, 5.XII.1907.

 

 

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was singularly inconsistent in his allegations, did sandwich an article accusing Yané and his followers of being unable to define their ideology between other articles complaining of his Socialism!

 

Ilinden commenced publication just before the murder of Garvanov and Sarafov, at a time when the chief sensation of the day was the engagement of Prince Ferdinand to Eleonore Reuss Köstritz. The tasks of the newspaper were stated in the first number as being: ‘bringing influence to bear for a common supra-party Macedonian policy; support for the Internal Revolutionary Organization; propaganda against propaganda against a war with Turkey; the enlightenment of public opinion on matters in Macedonia and the Adrianople Region.’ [32] The paper’s support for a future war with Turkey undoubtedly placed it among the supporters of the Government’s foreign policy. According to Grazhdanin, [33] Ilinden was actually being financed by the Government; Proletariy [34]  also alleged that the Right Wing group enjoyed extensive material and moral Government support.

 

Much of the material published in Ilinden consisted of attacks on the Serchani and on those Bulgarian newspapers, such as Proletariy, Kambana and Grazhdanin, which, in general, supported them. One of the chief contributors was Petko Penchev, who early on made yet another ideological right-about-turn. Having argued throughout 1906, in Makedono-Odrinsky Pregled, Revolyutsia, Revolyutsionen List, and in his own pamphlet, that the Organization had never been, and could never be, international, and that the internationalism of the Serchani represented something ‘new’ and unacceptable, he now came out with an article saying—quite correctly—that internationalism had always been in the Statute of the Organization, and that the so-called Series ‘new’ was not in fact new, and that there was more internationalism in the Bitolya Region than in the Serres Region! [35]

 

Penchev, however, had found other sticks with which to beat the Serchani. He attacked the latters’ cultural policy, which he said was the same as that of the Exarchate, except that Yané used a sword instead of a cross, and he also ridiculed their economic policy, including their plans for the formation of credit societies, the opening of chemists’ shops, the improvement of sanitation, roads, etc.—all of which he scornfully labelled ‘fantasies which can exist only in the imagination of blind dogmatics’. He went on to make the following astonishing attack: ‘Sandansky’s Quixotic cultural activity also manifests itself in his ideas about the economic tasks of the Organization. Sandansky wishes to achieve in his region little short of the full economic equality of modern Socialism. In the name of

 

 

32. Ilinden, 27.XI.1907.

 

33. Grazhdanin, 12.XII.1907.

 

34. Proletariy, 21.XII.1907. Article by ‘Freisinnig’.

 

35. Ilinden, No. 10, 2.I.1908. Article Vŭreshnata organizatsia i grupata na Sandansky. II.

 

 

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economic improvement he is ready to sacrifice the whole content of political freedom, and, in his primitive imagination, the Organization is drawn as a modern state with all its positive functions. He forgets that the Organization is the complete negation of the concept of a state and that its temporary and strictly limited nature does not permit it such deviations from its immediate ideal.’ [36]

 

Similar attacks against Yané for occupying himself with economic problems, sanitation, etc., and for being a cultural worker (the German word Kulturträger is used) and a Socialist, were made a few weeks later in a leading article written, in all probability, by Penchev. Here, however, a new accusation—that of republicanism—is added to the list: ‘He (Yané— M.M.) concerned himself about the economic equality of his subjects, and wanted to achieve immediately, at least within the bounds of his Pirin kingdom, the extreme ideals of Socialism. And, on top of all this ideological hotch-potch of a revolutionary organization and a modern state, of immediate ideals of liberation and purely cultural tasks, was his republicanism.’ [37]

 

These extraordinary accusations show how far some of the Right Wing leadership had deviated from the basic conception of the Organization created in the ‘classical’ period of its existence, when Gotsé Delchev— himself a Socialist—was its apostle, when it was generally recognized to be a state within the State, when the ‘revolution in people’s minds’ was top-priority, and when the Organization, in all six regions, assumed the functions of a ‘modern state’, from dispensing justice to destroying lice, from carrying out military training to issuing regulations governing weddings and funerals. Its state-like character was apparent even to an outsider like Sonnichsen, who described the Organization as ‘a provisional system of government established by the Macedonian peasantry to replace Turkish anarchy. Though imperfect in details by the very force of the obstacles opposing it, it was still a well articulated republic in form, swelling to burst through the artificial surface of an obsolete system.’ [38]

 

Another line of attack was to present Yané as a monster of cruelty. Here the chief accusers were the four renegade Serchani— Zankov, Zapryanov, Chavdara and Bozhova—who write of Yané’s ‘bloody dictatorship’ in the Region, and allege that everybody, including his own voivodi, such as Taskata and Skrizhovsky, and all the committees, are against him! Whole villages, including Doleni, Sugarevo and Kashina, are said to be virtually without a male population, owing to his reign of terror. He is also said to have killed four of the best people in Bansko, thus forcing a hundred more to flee. The writers prophesy that Yané will shortly be killed, and allege that neither his internationalism nor his economic and

 

 

36. Ilinden, No. 10, 2.I.1908.

 

37. Ilinden, No. 24, 23.II.1908.

 

38. Sonnichsen, Opus cit., p. 108.

 

 

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cultural policies have achieved any positive results. [39]

 

Without doubt, a lot of people had indeed been killed in the Series Region. It could not be otherwise in a land de facto at war, where only the enemy had prisons in which to immobilize lesser offenders, and where, all too often, the sparing of one life meant the sacrifice of several others. Inevitably there were miscarriages of justice, and occasions when personal feuds were conducted under the guise of orders from Yané, who had given no such instructions. In order to put a stop to this kind of private enterprise—which accounted for the greater part of the killings—Yané had appointed a commission, consisting of Chudomir, Buynov and Georgi Kazepov, to investigate all accusations, and had given orders that absolutely no executions were to take place without the knowledge and permission of this commission. [40]

 

When all is said and done, however, the picture painted by the four ex-Serchani represents, at best, a gross exaggeration, unsubstantiated by subsequent events and attitudes. Yané remained alive for much longer than the writers predicted, and, when he died, it was not the ‘terrorized’ peasants who killed him. Taskata and Skrizhovsky and the other voivodi remained his friends till death; Bansko and Kashina, especially, continued to be Sandanist strongholds, [41] and, to this day, it is Yané—and not those who decried and opposed him—who is celebrated in the folksongs of Pirin. Even at the time, Ilinden’s attacks on the Serchani did not go unchallenged by the paper’s readers. In March 1908, Dimitŭr Katerinsky, the only delegate at the Strandzha Congress on Petrova Niva to vote against the Uprising in 1903, wrote a series of articles, mainly about the murder of Garvanov and Sarafov, in which, while making it clear that he did not approve of the murders, he criticizes Ilinden for having lost all sense of proportion after the publication of the Serres Open Letter, takes the Press as a whole to task for trying to make out that Serchani are ‘bandits’, and states that the Serres ideology is, in fact, the ideology of the Organization as it has been from its inception to the present time. The point which Katerinsky wished to make was that the murders had no ideological motive, and that the differences between the two camps boiled down to the taking of money from official Bulgarian sources, something which all sides had done in the past. [42]

 

There was much truth in this, but there was also much oversimplification. The ideology of the Serchani indeed corresponded to that

 

 

39. Ilinden, No. 25, 27.II.1908.

 

40. Memoirs of Pop Apostol Popstamatov.

 

41. Events such as the male depopulation of a village or the flight of a hundred people cannot fail to leave some trace in popular memory. The author has questioned numerous Banskalii, including people who were then alive, and in all cases she met expressions of blank incomprehension, and assertions that Yané was always popular in Bansko, and that they have never heard of such events. People from Kashina react in a similar manner.

 

42. Ilinden, No. 29, 12.III.1908 and No. 34, 28.III.1908.

 

 

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traditionally professed by the Organization as a whole, but, in many respects, the ideology of the Right no longer did. Hence the impossibility of restoring the monolithic unity that had existed in Gotsé’s day before Garvanov entered the leadership.

 

Strong criticism of Ilinden also came from other sources. One of them was the newspaper Odrinsky Glas (Voice of Adrianople), the newly founded organ of the Adrianople Charitable Brotherhoods, which had replaced the former emigré societies at local level. Odrinsky Glas, whose editor, Angel Tomov, was a Socialist, repeatedly accused the supporters of Ilinden of resurrecting Supremism, [43] and it devoted a great deal of space to criticism of their policies. [44] The paper welcomed the publication of the Serres Open Letter, which it regarded as a valuable contribution towards placing the struggles on a proper theoretical basis, [45] and it published a series of articles dealing with the murders and their aftermath. [46] The writer begins by criticizing the Organization’s use of force, which, he complains, has developed into a ‘tradition’. In his opinion, terror achieves nothing and merely harms the cause in whose name it is used. This applies not only to the murders, but also to the sending of cheti from the Principality to ‘set Macedonia on fire’, when books would be more useful than guns, and he takes Ilinden to task for making such a hullabaloo about the murders when Penchev himself had signed the original Serres death sentence passed on Sarafov before the Rila Congress. The writer affirms that the general policy of the Serchani is correct, and that Sarafov and Garvanov were, indeed, all that the Serchani said they were, but nevertheless, he regrets the murders, not out of any sympathy for the victims, but because the outlawing of the Serchani has created a situation in which the struggle against Supremism has become more difficult.

 

While most of the progressive Bulgarian press, writing immediately after the event, laid the ultimate moral responsibility for the murders at the door of the Bulgarian Government, Odrinsky Glas, writing later, after the publication of the Open Letter, laid it directly at the door of the Ilinden group, who, in its opinion, virtually forced the Serchani into drastic action by persecuting them and threatening their work with extinction.

 

Another newspaper which attacked the policies of the Ilinden group was Kambana. On the appearance of the first issue of Ilinden, the paper had taken issue with the Right Wing over its support for the Government and its avowed aim of making ‘propaganda against propaganda against a war with Turkey’. In the same issue in which it first reported the murders, Kambana wrote: ‘Of the other editor of Ilinden, Mr Penchev, it is alleged that he is a clerk in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The ideas which are

 

 

43. Odrinsky Glas, No. 5 (10.II.1908), No. 6 (17.II.1908), No. 8 (2.III.1908).

 

44. Ibid., No. 11 (23.III.1908) and No. 12 (30.III.1908).

 

45. Ibid., No. 7, 24.II.1908.

 

46. Ibid., No. 10 (16.III.1908), No. 11 (23.III.1908) and No. 12 (30.III.1908). Articles entitled Na Krŭstopŭt, by Novus.

 

 

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being peddled in the first issue of Ilinden go a long way towards confirming these suspicions. It is going to defend the Internal Organization, and, at the same time, it is going to propagate the idea of war—two things which are mutually exclusive. The propagation of the idea of war is disastrous even from a purely nationalistic point of view. It will only increase the Serbian and Greek cheti. So will the sending of cheti from Bulgaria, which Ilinden does not even condemn.’ [47]

 

*  *  *

 

At the beginning of March 1908, in the village of Zhabokrŭt, near Kyustendil, the Right Wing held its own Congress, [48] which claimed to speak in the name of the Organization, although the Serres Region was not invited, the Strumitsa Region [49] was unrepresented, and the Bitolya, Salonika and Adrianople Regions had no mandated delegates. The two surviving members of the former Central Committee—Peré Toshev and Todor Popantov—were absent, and so were all three former External Representatives—Gyorché Petrov, Dimitŭr Stefanov and Petŭr Poparsov. The composition of the Congress was thus sadly reminiscent of the Salonika Congress of 1903—a few well-known veterans of the movement, several conspicuous absences, a number of light-weight persons, and many who had left the interior to reside in the Principality and who were, therefore, not entitled to participate in the Congress under the Rules of the Organization adopted at the Rila Congress and still in force at the time when the new Congress was convened.

 

 

47. Kambana, No. 46 (30.XI.1907). Penchev’s book Po nashité sporni vŭprosi contains the following statement, intended as an answer to his critics: ‘When I say I want war, when I regard it as inevitable, I am speaking as a citizen of the Organization and only about its interests. That Bulgaria may be beaten, that she will be set back decades in her development, that she may risk even that which she has—that does not concern me as a subject of the Organization. What is important for me is that war decides the question. If it comes, we will not declare ourselves against it simply because it will damage nascent Bulgarian democratism. Above all, we look to our own interests, and then to those of Bulgaria.’ He then softens his statement somewhat by saying that this is not really the question, since Bulgaria, not the Organization, will choose the time for war, but, the sooner it comes, the better it will be for both countries (pp. 94-95).

 

48. The Congress was attended by the following: Hristo Matov, Dr Tatarchev, Petŭr Atsev, Efrem Chuchkov, Todor Chervarov, Hristo Shaldev, Petko Penchev, Petŭr Chaulev, Tanyu Nikolov, Dobri Daskalov, Todor Alexandrov, Milan Gyurlukov, Vasil Chekalarov, Kliment Shapkarev, Hristo Silyanov, Iliya Biolchev, Mihail Monev and Angel Uzunov. An account of the Congress is contained in Silyanov, Opus cit., Vol. II, pp. 551-556.

 

49. According to Silyanov, Opus cit., p. 551, the Strumitsa Region was invited to send delegates, but declined to do so, giving as a reason the fact that the Bulgarian Government continued to hold Chernopeev in custody. This is only a very small part of the story, and Silyanov distorts the facts in favour of the Right Wing. This is not surprising since he himself was a delegate to the Kyustendil Congress.

 

 

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This dubious assembly reviewed the 1905 Statute and Rules, made certain amendments to the latter, [50] and issued a Declaration, which followed the general lines of the policy adopted by the Consultative Meeting of January 1907. The future policy of the Organization was described as follows: ‘The Congress stressed the purely revolutionary character of the Organization in relation not only to its ultimate ideals, but also to its tactics. The chief and immediate task of the Organization is the complete and all-round military preparation of the population. Evolutionary tactics, in view of the present situation in the Organization’s territory, are absurd and must be foreign to the Organization. Cultural and economic activity is to be undertaken only in as far as it furthers and is not in conflict with the immediate military tasks of the Organization.’ [51] In the paragraph entitled ‘The Organization and Bulgaria’, the Declaration stated: ‘The Congress cannot deny the natural right of Bulgaria to concern herself with the fate of her fellow-countrymen in Turkey. Unfortunately, the Congress is obliged to note that the Bulgarian governments have not worked out a clear and permanent Macedonian policy, and have, not infrequently, exploited the cause of liberation for aims that are alien to it. In view of this, the Congress charges the Representation to be particularly careful in its relations with the official factors of Bulgaria and to defend at all costs the independence and prestige of the Organization.’ [52] In other words, the Right Wing recognized the dangers inherent in its relations with the Bulgarian Government, but voted to continue its dualistic policy of trying to put butter on both sides of the bread.

 

At the end of their Declaration, the Right Wing proceeded to add its own edict of outlawry to that of the State by expelling the signatories of the Open Letter and the ‘physical murderers’ from the Organization, and by declaring them to be its enemies. This meant that they could be ‘punished with death at any time and by any member of the Organization’. [53]

 

Both the composition and decisions of the Kyustendil Congress were roundly attacked by Freisinnig in an article printed in Grazhdanin. [54] He complains that the majority of the delegates were civil servants with

 

 

50. The changes involved some modification of the generally accepted elective principle. The group leaders, for example, were to be appointed by the local committee. The Central Committee, consisting of three illegal members, was given greater powers, such as being able to issue decrees which were binding on all until the next General Congress, unless half the Regions objected. It also gained the power, in certain situations, to appoint district and regional committees. In addition to the Central Committee, there was to be a Central Bureau, consisting of three legal members appointed by the Central Committee and responsible to it, to act in its name and to represent it where necessary. A Representative Body (i.e. External Representatives) was given a wide series of functions in the Principality.

 

51. Silyanov, Opus cit., p. 558.     52. Ibid., p. 559.      53. Ibid., p. 561.

 

54. Grazhdanin, 7.IV.1908. Freisinnig was a member of the Editorial Board of Proletariy, but since the temporary editor of the latter had fallen under Supremist

 

 

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their expenses paid by the Government, and has particularly hard words to say about Petko Penchev (elected to the new Central Committee), Hristo Silyanov and Peyu Yavorov (both elected as reserve members of the Representative Board, i.e. External Representatives). Freisinnig complains that the Declaration contains no word about real revolutionary education by slow systematic preparation, and, addressing the participants, refers to what he calls ‘the anaemia of your thinking’. Expanding on this theme, he continues: ‘The Alpha and Omega of your "revolutionary" theory and practice will always remain the nationalistic rebel-terrorist method of action in its crudest and often repulsive forms. You are incapable of raising yourselves to a conception of your tasks higher than the idea of arming the Bulgarians and training them barracks-style, because, according to you, the liberation of the country from the barbaric despotism of the Sultan will not be accomplished by the internal forces. And you are right, because freedom cannot be won in Macedonia and Adrianople Thrace only for the Bulgarians, and, consequently, only with the power of the Bulgarians against all other nationalities. This freedom can be won only through combined pressure against the Sultan’s absolutism on the part of the oppressed social classes of all the nations inhabiting the Turkish Empire. And the freedom thus won will be not only for Macedonia and Adrianople Thrace, but for the whole Empire.’ In the view of Freisinnig, the Right Wing of the Organization is bent on turning Macedonia into ‘an area eternally devastated by fire, into a vast slaughterhouse, in order to provoke outside intervention’.

 

The Kyustendil Congress was also strongly condemned by the delegates of the Strumitsa Region, who, in the end, did not attend it for reasons stated in a letter addressed ‘To the chairmen of the Regional and District Revolutionary Committees in Macedonia.’ [55]

 

The letter is remarkable for its moderate, conciliatory tone, and the initial readiness of the delegates to overlook all manner of dubious conduct on the part of the Right Wing in order to hold discussions and avoid a total split. The delegates explain in detail the reasons for their non-attendance at the Kyustendil Congress. To begin with, they received no official invitation, only private letters from individual acquaintances; secondly, they regarded the Congress as unlawful since it was held outside the territory of the Organization. [56] They also find fault with its composition—mainly civil servants, doctors and newspaper men from

 

 

influence and had refused to print the article, Freisinnig had asked Grazhdanin to print it instead, since it was topical and could not wait for a decision by the Board.

 

55. TDIA, f. 1508, op. 1, a.e. 479, pp. 1-20.

 

56. According to Article 3 of the Rules, members of the Organization cease to be members when they are outside the Organization’s territory. Later in the letter (p. 19), the delegates stress the wisdom of this article in view of the ease with which people deprived of adequate literature at home in Macedonia can fall victim to outside influence (e.g. pressure from the Bulgarian Government) when abroad.

 

 

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Bulgaria, and virtually no ‘people who do the work’. Sarafov’s supporters were also conspicuously absent—a fact which the Strumichani put down to the new Government’s hostility towards Sarafov and its predilection for the former supporters of Damé Gruev, who, grouped around Matov, were the real convenors of the Congress. All this could have been ignored in the wider interests of unity, say the Strumichani, had not their chairman, Chernopeev, been arrested in connection with the murder of Sarafov and Garvanov and kept in gaol. They can understand the reason for his arrest as an initial reaction to the murders, which they themselves condemn further on in the letter, but they complain that they were persecuted for their opposition to the Committee of Garvanov and Sarafov, which they regard as unlawful, since it was not elected by a Congress, and that they are still being persecuted by the Government, which is attempting to win them over by force. While in gaol, Chernopeev received a letter signed by four persons [57] attending the Kyustendil Congress, in which they regretted not being able to do anything for him before leaving for the Congress, assured him that his release was ‘the first question’ on the Congress agenda, and, promising all kinds of aid, asked him to persuade the Strumitsa delegates to attend the Congress. This the Strumichani were prepared to do, provided he was released, but, what was their surprise, when, just after Chernopeev had in fact been released, several of the Kyustendil delegates arrived in Sofia and said that the Congress was over and the decisions taken, and that they were just waiting for the Strumichani to come before electing a new Central Committee and External Representatives. This new situation made the Strumichani suspect that the whole thing was a put-up job to get their agreement to a fait-accompli, and they decided to send a letter to the Chairman of the Congress, asking for clarification on a number of points. It took them two days to prepare the letter, and just when they were ready, the police re-arrested Chernopeev and interned him in his native village of Dermantsi. Petŭr Kitanov, another of the leading Strumichani, was also arrested. This convinced the Strumitsa delegates that the police and the Congress were in collusion with each other, especially since the two men were released after the police had delivered the letter to the Congress leaders, but, by then, the Congress was completely over.

 

When Chernopeev returned from Dermantsi, the Strumichani met in Sofia to consider the position and to seek explanations for the peculiar behaviour of the ‘Congress’, which they regarded as an unrepresentative gathering, not to be taken seriously: ‘Among those gathered there, in the Kyustendil District, there were only seven or eight people who are active for the Cause—all the others have long dropped out of Organization work and have sat themselves down in cosy civil-service posts and other nooks in the life of the free country. . . To what was the Cause of our

 

 

57. D. Daskalov, P. Atsev, Efrem Chuchkov and ‘Avgust’.

 

 

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Organization being reduced by the Congress which ended so frivolously? What were the six External Representatives of the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization thinking of doing after they had cut themselves off from us, the people who do the work? On what could they rely? Such recklessness on the part of a handful of people, long alienated from the revolutionary cause, must have its overt and covert motives, which both we and every Macedonian should know. Never before has the Organization sunk so low as to be conducted from Sofia offices—just as Greek and Serbian propaganda is conducted from offices in Athens and Belgrade. To lower the revolutionary Organization to the level of Serbian and Greek mafias is to spit upon the sacred revolutionary tombs with which we have sown our bloodstained country!’

 

Yet the Strumichani remained in generous mood, ready, for example, to overlook any rigging of the ‘Congress’ as nothing worse than ‘pathetic cunning on the part of civil servants’ in the absence of such veteran leaders as Gyorché Petrov, Peré Toshev, Petŭr Poparsov, Dimitŭr Stefanov, etc. Neither this nor any other of the possible explanations, such as undue Government influence on the delegates, or the recent murders, appeared to be sufficient reason to split the whole Organization, and therefore they decided to make contact with both the Serchani and the delegates to the Kyustendil Congress in order to see if it might not be possible to get everybody together at a Macedonian Revolutionary Convention and thus to avoid a split. Chernopeev had a talk with Matov, who promised to provide a copy of the Kyustendil Congress decisions within a few days. During this time, the Press published the Congress Declaration. Naturally, this did not contain all the decisions, and this was why the Strumichani had insisted on seeing the full text—which they were never given. The Declaration, however, was more than enough to convince the Strumichani that it was useless to negotiate further with the convenors of the Kyustendil Congress: ‘With sorrow, we have to admit that between us, the workers of the Strumitsa District, and the majority of the people who have imposed the decisions of the Congress in the Kyustendil District, there is virtually nothing in common, neither in our outlook, nor in our aims, nor in our accepted future system and programme for action. Those who attended the Congress in Kyustendil have accepted the line of creating a conspiratorial Macedonian organization outside the territory of the Organization (in Bulgaria) in order to impose themselves upon the Macedonian population in the same way as the chauvinistic groups in Athens and Belgrade. We are prepared to accept that the participants in the Congress may have also had a sincere desire to intensify the slave’s struggle by exploiting his discontent, but this desire of the participants to intensify the slave’s struggle is their will, which they have decided to impose upon the slave in the interior.’ The Strumichani go on to comment on the fact that the Declaration gives pride of place to military preparations, the shipment of arms, etc., and make the obvious comparison with

 

 

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the "earlier conflicts between the Organization and the Supreme Committee, pointing out that the ideology of the Organization does not aim at mere rebellion, but at something far more radical. ‘Revolutionary propaganda seeks, above all, to transform the slave psychologically, to prepare him for the life of a free citizen, so that he himself will stand up for his human rights, be it through cultural and civic solidarity and representations to the State authority, or through bloody revolution. The Supremists deny the practicability of this revolutionary ideology in our Organization. They showed us a short cut: we should raise a rebellion and provoke European intervention. And we opposed the idea simply as a dangerous playing with the tormented soul of our people, i.e. as something which could be very easily achieved, and which might even give some illusory results, but which remained merely a dangerous playing with rebellion, and was in no way also a psychological and political revolutionization of the people—the only way in which, despite all obstacles, we can wring from our enemies the right to a human life and prosperity in our own country.’

 

The Strumichani remind the Organization’s chairmen of the tragic consequences of Supremist policy, and point out that the Kyustendil Congress is clearly bent on repeating the mistakes of the past by organizing a new rising, which will have to be financed by the Bulgarian Government, since the population in Macedonia is destitute. ‘The Congress in Kyustendil has included in its decisions all the elements necessary for the degeneration of revolutionary thought and revolutionary spirit in the Organization. And, if those who attended the Congress found the means and attempted to put their decisions into practice, the repeat massacre would be appalling."

 

The Letter ends with an appeal to all Regional and District Committees to respond to the Strumitsa initiative for the calling of an Extraordinary Macedonian Revolutionary Convention, with real people’s delegates, and asks for a speedy reply, names of delegates, etc., so that the time and place can be fixed.

 

The appeal, however, does not appear to have produced the desired reaction, and, in the end, the Serres and Strumitsa Regions held a joint congress of the Left in Bansko during May 1908.

 

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