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





Yané resumed his active participation in the Macedonian movement at a time when the Internal Organization and the Supreme Committee were enjoying a period of relatively close co-operation.


During the previous year, 1898, the Supreme Committee had, as it were, been in the doldrums; the leadership had been somewhat weak and ineffectual, and this had led to a falling off of activity not only in Sofia, but also in the provinces, as reflected in one of Dimo Hadzhidimov’s postcards to Yané: ‘Good evening, Yané. How are you? I’m writing to you from the banks of the Danube. It’s more than ten days since I dropped anchor in Lom, and I think I shall not be raising it before June. But. . . God alone knows. How are things going with the Macedonian Society? Here there is both a men’s and a women’s society; terrific progress! The women are scratching each other’s eyes out over who is going to be chairman, and the men haven’t met at all. I’ve signed up as a member, and will see to it that, after a week or two, we call the citizens together for a lecture.’ [1]


Since it was in the interests of the Internal Organization to have a strong supporting body in the Principality, its joint representatives there, Gotsé Delchev and Gyorché Petrov, [2] set about breathing new life into the Supreme Committee. The first task was to find a reliable, energetic leader, but this proved more difficult than they had imagined: those whom they considered suitable for the job were unwilling to take it on, while those who were willing were not the kind of person that they had in mind. Gyorché spent a great deal of time trying to persuade the Socialist leader, Dimitŭr Blagoev, [3] to head the Supreme Committee, but in vain. Blagoev was prepared to participate in the activities of the local Macedonian Society in Plovdiv, where he was then living, but he was not prepared to make Macedonia his main concern.



1. OIM, Blagoevgrad, No. 1106. Postcard dated 3.II.1900. Hadzhidimov went to Lom after he had been forced to leave Dupnitsa.


2. Gyorché Petrov was born in Prilep. Like Gotsé, he was a teacher by profession. In March 1897 he had come to Sofia to assist Gotsé as the Organization’s second External Representative.


3. Dimitŭr Blagoev was born in the village of Zagorichane near Kastoria. In 1883, while living in St Petersburg, he had founded the first Marxist Circle in Russia. In 1891, he founded the Bulgarian Workers’ Social-Democratic Party, which was later renamed the Bulgarian Communist Party.





Finally, when all else failed, they turned to the army officers who formed a special grouping within the Macedonian movement. Many of them had participated in the cheti organized by the Sofia Committee, but had subsequently quarrelled with the latter and had set up their own organization, which, for a time, had enjoyed Government support. Soon, however, changes of official policy led to the officers being posted to the provinces and to the collapse of their committee. While Gotsé, who had unpleasant memories of the Military School, found the company of officers uncongenial, Gyorché cultivated them and encouraged them to establish secret ‘Brotherhoods’ in their provincial garrisons, with a view to collecting money and arms for the Cause. One of the officers, Colonel Ivan Tsonchev, was especially active in his support for the Internal Organization, and had even visited Salonika in 1897, in order to meet the members of its Central Committee. Gotsé and Gyorché regarded him as a suitable candidate, but he was unwilling to resign his commission until a rising in Macedonia seemed imminent, so their choice finally settled on Lt Boris Sarafov.


Sarafov came from the village of Libyahovo (now Ilinden) in the southern foothills of Pirin. Several of his relatives had been active in promoting the use of Bulgarian instead of Greek in schools and churches, and the young Boris had even seen his own father and grandfather being led in chains through the streets of Salonika on their way into exile in Asia Minor as a result of Greek intrigues against them. Boris and Gotsé has been school-mates in the Salonika High School, and both had belonged to the same secret revolutionary circle there, with Gotsé succeeding Boris as its leader, after Boris had left the School. Both had continued their education at the Military School in Sofia, but, unlike Gotsé, Boris had stayed in the Principality and had become a professional soldier. He did not, however, forget Macedonia, and in 1895 he had helped to train volunteers for the ill-fated cheti organized by the Committee in Sofia, and had commanded one of them himself. Boris Sarafov was an unusually colourful character, brimming over with energy, charm, plausibility and bright ideas which were not always wise or practicable. His younger brother, Krŭstyu, was to become one of Bulgaria’s greatest classic actors, and Boris, too, was endowed with a good measure of the theatrical temperament. From the point of view of the Internal Organization, he was not the ideal person to lead the Supreme Committee—and, indeed, Gotsé and Gyorché would have preferred to use the officers in a purely military capacity—but, since no one better was available, they decided to press his candidature, hoping that they would be able to harness and direct his undoubted enthusiasm for the Cause, while exercising a restraining hand where necessary. The supporters of Sarafov did their canvassing so well that, at the Sixth Macedonian Congress held in May 1899, they had no difficulty in getting him elected to the Supreme Committee. [4]



4. Although he had refused to stand as Chairman, Blagoev attended the Congress as a delegate of the Plovdiv Society, and made a speech in which he criticized the





For the next year and a half, things went comparatively well. The provincial societies became more active; a great deal of money was collected and spent on the purchase of arms and other forms of aid; the representatives of the Internal Organization attended the meetings of the Supreme Committee, and worked closely with its members, in spite of periodic clashes and differences of opinion. One of the bones of contention was the excessively generous pocket money and other items which Sarafov provided for the Organization’s young men who came from Macedonia to Sofia in order to receive military training. Gotsé had wanted the Supreme Committee to set up a modest hostel where these lads could live economically, and he considered that they were being spoilt and corrupted in Sarafov’s luxury ‘barracks’. At the time, neither Gotsé nor Gyorché had seen the affair as anything more than a manifestation of Sarafov’s over-exuberance, and, when other troubles arose, they were inclined to regard them in the same light, as isolated incidents. There was, for example, the Fitosvky affair, when Sarafov, without consulting anybody, entered into negotiations with a man named Fitovsky, who offered to sell him arms from Romania, and who turned out to be a Turkish agent-provocateur. Sarafov then further complicated his indiscretion by sending a couple of the Organization’s men to kill Fitovsky in Bucharest in February 1900, without obtaining the permission of either Gotsé or Gyorchée, under whose jurisdiction they came. The catastrophe entered its third and final stage when a Bulgarian student in Bucharest, who had presented himself to Sarafov as a patriot, betrayed the assassins to the police. As a result, not only was there much unfavourable publicity in the Press, but the Organization also lost, in the person of one of the arrested men, an expert in bomb-making whom it could ill-afford to lose.


When disagreements occurred between the Supreme Committee and the Internal Organization, it was generally Gyorché who had to cope with the situation, because of a curious trait in Gotsé’s character. Courageous to the point of being almost literally fearless when exposed to risk or physical danger, Gotsé would simply go to pieces when he had to argue or take issue with his own comrades. He could enchant and convince all who came to him with open or even hesitant minds, but he could not stand wranglings and altercations between people who ought to be working together in



existing character of the Macedonian Societies, and advocated the creation of a Balkan Federal Republic. His proposals were not adopted. In a letter to Konstantin Bozveliev, dated 11.V. 1899, he wrote of the Congress: ‘I don’t regret going, but I came away with very bad impressions. There’s nothing serious about them, and plenty that is sad. I expounded my views on the Macedonian question to them, but they found my opinion so important that it appears it must first be discussed in the Macedonian papers, so that it may be made known to the public and then discussed at some future congress. Since it was not my intention to convince them of my views, I did not insist on a vote, but contented myself with showing them the futility of their work.’ (Dimitŭr Blagoev, Sŭchineniya, Vol. 20, pp. 161-162).





harmony. Gyorché, on the other hand, was a lawyer or diplomat manqué, a man who revelled in controversy and was not averse to political manoeuvres and intrigue. Gotsé and Gyorché worked perfectly together, the one complementing the other, and, when ructions occurred in Sofia, Gotsé would often go back to Macedonia to inspect his underground committees, or go to Dupnitsa or Kyustendil to supervise gun-running, bomb-making or other activities which he found soothing in comparison to the bickering in Sofia. It is, however, not beyond the bounds of possibility that Gyorché’s propensity for argument at times exacerbated the situation, spilling the fat into the fire, rather than pouring oil on troubled waters.


Trying to control the amiable, ebullient Sarafov was like trying to marshal loose quicksilver, and it was not very long before Gotsé and Gyorché began to suspect that his bêtises were not primarily the result of his expansive nature and reckless zeal, but were an expression of something much more dangerous, namely, a desire on the part of the officers to take over the Organization in order to proclaim an early rising in Macedonia. Indeed, this very question had been secretly discussed by about twenty officers, including Sarafov and Tsonchev, without the knowledge of the Organization’s representatives, at the time when Sarafov was first brought onto the Committee. Plans had been drawn up for Macedonia to be divided into fourteen zones, each under the command of an officer, while Tsonchev was to recruit a volunteer force of reservists.


It would be wrong to suppose that the officers were motivated by evil intentions. Far from it—most of them were sincere patriots whose chief desire was to free their enslaved brothers at the earliest possible moment. Being officers, however, they could not accept the idea that an organization of peasants led by teachers was capable of defeating the Turkish army, or, indeed, of preparing the people in a proper manner. In their view, an uprising was a task for professional military men, and they saw the Central Committee and its two External Representatives in Sofia, with their insistence on sovereignty, including the final word on the timing of the rising, as an obstacle to their plans for the speedy liberation of Macedonia and Thrace.


This, then, was the common source of most of the difficulties and disagreements. The largesse distributed to the trainees from the interior was not, as Gotsé and Gyorché had originally thought, an expression of Sarafov’s natural extravagance: it was an attempt to win these men for the Supreme Committee. The arguments over who was to conduct the correspondence between Sofia and the Central Committee in Salonika, and over whether, in frontier towns, the correspondence was to be conducted through the Organization’s agents or through the local Macedonian Society, was also a reflection of the officers’ desire to gain control of the Organization, as was the Supreme Committee’s proposal that two officers be co-opted onto the Central Committee, and that a group of





officers be sent to lead the preparations in the interior. [5]


It was some time before Gotsé and Gyorché grasped the full seriousness of the situation, and, in the meantime, despite a certain amount of mutual suspicion and periodic rows, the Internal Organization managed to work fairly well with the Supreme Committee of Sarafov. Both organizations needed each other, so concessions were made and differences were patched over, and they came through their first year of co-operation with significant successes to their joint credit. As a result, twice as many delegates attended the Seventh Congress, held at the end of July 1900, as had attended the Sixth Congress, and among them was Yané Sandansky.


By chance, the minutes of the meeting at which he was elected as a delegate have survived. [6] According to these, the Dupnitsa Macedonian Society Edinstvo (Unity) had 196 members, of whom 82 were currently out of town, and 61 members attended the meeting, which was held on April 23, 1900, in the building which Bekir Efendi had presented to the town. [7] Yané took the chair (although he does not appear, as yet, to have been the Society’s official chairman), and he read the Supreme Committee circular [8] announcing the Congress and inviting societies to mandate delegates. It is clear from the circular that a great effort was being made to obtain the kind of delegate who would really contribute something to the Congress. Societies were urged not to mandate persons living in Sofia— a frequent practice at past Congresses—but to send someone known to the voters, and any society which had difficulty in financing a local delegate was asked to inform the Supreme Committee, which would then send the necessary money. The circular also called for the election as delegates of ‘those persons, members of the societies, who have done the most work and shown the greatest interest in the Cause’, and added: ‘Devotion to the Cause, backed by deeds, is always preferable to sundry social positions and verbal patriotism.’ It was essential for delegates to be acquainted with the situation in the town or village which had mandated them, and persons willing to pay their way, but not corresponding to the above conditions, were not recommended for election.


After the meeting had heard the circular, one member proposed that, for financial reasons, the Dupnitsa Society should send only one delegate.



5. Nothing came of these proposals. The Internal Organization was prepared to accept one officer on the Central Committee, and also individual officers, who would be absorbed into the Organization at regional level, but they were not prepared to accept a compact body of officers who might provoke some premature local uprising before the Organization as a whole was ready. These terms offered no advantage to the Supreme Committee, so no officers actually went into the interior at this stage.


6. BIA NBKM (Bulgarian Historical Archives, kept in the National Library, Sofia), f. 224, a.e. 7, p. 103.


7. The Teacher Training College had moved to Vratsa after being in Dupnitsa only two years, and the building was then used as a school.


8. BIA NBKM, f. 224, a.e. 7, p. 362.





However, the majority disagreed with him, and he withdrew his proposal in favour of a motion that two delegates be sent. (The circular stipulated that societies with between 20 and 100 members could send one delegate, while societies with over 100 members could send two, if they wished.) There followed a discussion on how much money the Society should allow its delegates. It was first proposed that the allowance should be 5 leva a day without travel expenses; then someone else suggested 3 leva a day, with agreed travel expenses, and finally Nikola Maleshevsky, who had been the Society’s sole delegate at the previous Congress, proposed that the allowance should be 3 leva a day, without travel expenses. His proposal was accepted, with the proviso that the period paid for should include one day before and one day after the actual duration of the Congress. The meeting then proceeded to elect its two delegates, and the ballot gave a clear majority to the economical Nikola Maleshevsky (60 votes) and to Yané (47 votes). Their nearest rival received only 8 votes and the rest only 2 or 3 votes each.


The Seventh Congress of Macedonian Societies opened in Sofia on July 30th, 1900 in the hall of the Slavyanska Beseda Reading Room Club. Both Gyorché and Gotsé attended the Congress, thus presenting a united front with the Supreme Committee, despite the underlying doubt and friction. Gyorché, indeed, wrote the report which Sarafov read to the Congress, or, rather, began to read and then handed over to Gyorché because of his inability to decipher Gyorché’s writing. [9] According to his own memoirs, Gyorché was also the author of the new draft Statues and Rules which were adopted at the Congress. Nikola Maleshevsky was one of those elected to the five-man commission [10] to review the Statues and Rules. According to the new Statues the name of the emigré body was ‘the Macedonian-Adrianople Organization’ and its aim was ‘to achieve for the population of Macedonia and the Adrianople Region political autonomy, declared by the Organization, and applied and guaranteed by the Great Powers. [11] The draft Statues and Rules were accepted without much disagreement, but the fourth article was passed in an amended form which stated that the Organization would work ‘through the printed word, agitation and meetings, to persuade all civilized people to sympathize with the Cause’. [12] This clause, which reflected the original outlook of the Sofia Committee, i.e. to solve the Macedonian problem through diplomacy rather than by internal revolution, was not the clause proposed by Gyorché and the commission. That clause had failed to obtain the necessary majority



9. See Gyorché’s Memoirs. Miletich. Book VIII, p. 96. The Minutes of the Congress record that Sarafov began to read the report, but do not mention who finished the reading. See BIA NBKM, f. 224, a.e. 7, p. 377.


10. Gyorché’s name, however, was not among the five elected to the Commission.


11. BIA NBKM, f. 224, a.e. 7, p. 383. Minutes of the Sixth Session, August 3, 1900.


12. Ibid.





in the Congress and had therefore been dropped. [13] In this connection, a declaration dated August 5, 1900, was drawn up and signed by nineteen delegates, including Nikola Maleshevsky and Yané. It reads as follows: ‘The undersigned members of the Seventh Macedonian-Adrianople Congress attest by our signatures that we agree with and accept completely Article Four of the draft for the amendment of the Statutes, which says: "To publicize among the neighbouring peoples the truth that the Macedonian-Adrianople cause is purely cultural and that its supporters are against all foreign domination". [14] Iliya Stefanov, the delegate from Rusé, who was apparently the initiator of the declaration, handed it in to be kept with the Congress archives as a minority view. [15]


Yané also set his signature to another document prepared by Stefanov—an addendum to Article 35 of the old Statutes, which dealt with the election of delegates. The addendum reads as follows: ‘The person mandated must have been a member of the Society which he represents for a minimum of six months.’ [16] This motion was signed by 64 people and was accepted by the Congress. [17]


Both Yané and Nikola Maleshevsky spoke in the discussion on Sarafov’s proposal to increase by another 700,000 leva the loan launched by the Supreme Committee for the purposes of fund-raising. This would bring the loan up to a total of a million leva. The proposal was eventually accepted unanimously, and it was also decided that each bond should cost 50 leva in gold. [18]


The Congress appeared to be an unqualified success: general agreement had been reached; on the whole, the delegates seemed to be moving closer to the revolutionary line of the Internal Organization, and the Supreme Committee had a larger budget than ever before, with the lion’s share of the expenditure going to the purchase of arms at home and abroad. [19]


To the leaders of the Internal Organization—as yet unaware of the officers’ plan to force the pace and provoke an early rising, whether the people were prepared or no—everything seemed to be going very well, and Gyorché later said: ‘I was in the Seventh Heaven: what I had wanted and advocated I saw achieved.’ [20] In fact, by bringing the officers into the leadership of the Supreme Committee, the Internal Organization had released a genie which they could not control, and whose undoubted services were soon to be negated by its refusal to remain within its



13. BIA NBKM, f. 224, a.e. 7, p. 385.


14. Ibid., p. 364.      15. Ibid., p. 389.      16. Ibid., p. 366.     17. Ibid., p. 387.      18. Ibid.


19. BIA NBKM, f. 224, a.e. 7, pp. 357-358. In the fair copy of the balance sheet, the reference to the purchase of arms has been crossed out, and the euphemism ‘by secret decision of the Committee (purchase of materials)’ has been substituted.


20. Miletich, Book VIII, p. 96.





appointed bottle. Neither Gyorché nor Gotsé was really capable of dealing with the officers. Gyorché was inclined to be too argumentative and inflexible, while Gotsé veered from one extreme to the other: either he would wash his hands of the Supreme Committee, or he would be over-conciliatory and insufficiently on his guard.


Yet, personalities aside, no lasting co-operation was possible between two organizations so deeply divided on tactics. The Internal Organization was in every sense a mass popular movement. Its leaders aimed at involving the whole people in the struggle, by combatting first and foremost the slave mentality created by five hundred years of Turkish rule, and by instilling into the people a sense of their own power and worth. Gotsé himself would often speak of the need to effect ‘a revolution in people’s minds’, and he would smuggle books as well as guns across the frontier. Efforts were even being made, though with very little success, to recruit other nationalities—Vlahs, [21] Greeks and even Turks—for a common struggle to overthrow the despotism of Sultan Abdul Hamid and to establish a democratic, autonomous Macedonia which would be a unifying link, rather than an apple of discord, between the Balkan peoples. Although the majority of the population in Macedonia and Adrianople Thrace were Bulgarians, it was essential that there should be no direct intervention by the Bulgarian Army, for this would, in turn, lead to intervention by Greece and Serbia, as well as Turkey, and the territories would inevitably be torn apart. When the whole population was properly prepared both psychologically and materially, and could therefore expect to win—then, and only then, would the Organization proclaim a rising.


At no time, however, did the members of the Supreme Committee, whatever its composition, fully appreciate the wisdom behind the tactics of the Internal Organization. Thus, from the very beginning, they had brushed aside the need to prepare the people to the pitch required for a successful, internally organized uprising. From the very beginning, successive Supreme Committees had regarded uprisings in Macedonia as auxilliary happenings designed to stimulate diplomatic action and to provide a pretext for military intervention, and not as the actual instrument of liberation.


No amount of resolutions and declarations to the contrary altered this basic outlook, and if, at the time, the officers managed to conceal their contempt for the ‘amateurs’ sufficiently to work in concert with them, their affability and condescension was little more than a smoke screen behind which a general offensive was being prepared.


It was not only the representatives of the Internal Organization who were looking askance at some of Sarafov’s wilder exploits. The murder of Fitovsky was followed by the murder of Mihaileanu, editor of a



21. The Vlahs were a small, semi-nomadic pastoral people, speaking a language akin to Romanian.





Romanian journal called Peninsula Balcanica, which had published articles against the Organization. The assassin, a young man from Skopje named Stoyan Dimitrov, said that he had been sent by the Supreme Committee— a fact which the Committee denied in a circular dated September 2, 1900. [22] The murder had international repercussions and nearly caused a war between Romania and Bulgaria. Prince Ferdinand was eventually obliged to dismiss the Minister of the Interior, Radoslavov, who was favourably inclined towards the Macedonian movement, and had largely turned a blind eye to the Supreme Committee’s use of terror when collecting funds in the Principality. Early in the new year, there were further Government changes of a nature unfavourable to the Supreme Committee, and Sarafov decided that it would be prudent to withdraw from the leadership and go into the interior of Macedonia. There the situation had suddenly become very complicated, and potentially promising for the officers, with the arrest of almost the entire Central Committee in Salonika in January 1901. [23] Mass arrests, or, as the Organization preferred to call them, ‘affairs’, inevitably occurred from time to time now that the network of secret committees had reached the proportions of a state within the state. It only required one or two traitors to wreak havoc in a whole area, but, in spite of such disasters, the Organization continued to grow. The arrest of the Central Committee, however, left the Organization without strong leadership at a very awkward moment, and the situation was made worse by the action of Ivan Hadzhinikolov, the last of the Committee members to be arrested, who, realizing that he was unlikely to remain at liberty for any length of time, handed over the Committee archives, including addresses, ciphers, etc., to Ivan Garvanov, a relatively new member of the Organization and one who, moreover, was not entirely in sympathy with its policy. Garvanov had originally been an adherent of the moderates, who, led by the Bulgarian Exarchate, believed that, for the time being, the Bulgarian cause in Macedonia could best be served by a peaceful extension of education, that liberation would eventually be achieved through intervention on the part of the Principality and that revolutionary activity could only bring unnecessary suffering upon the population. In 1897, in the face of the growing power and prestige of the Organization, these moderates, led by Garvanov, who was then a teacher at the Salonika High School, set up a rival organization, called the



22. BIA NBKM, f. 305, a.e. 260, p. 4. This circular alleged that Mihaileanu was a Tsintsar, or Vlah, from Ohrid, who, through his relatives in Macedonia, denounced leading Bulgarians to the Turks. It describes the murder as an act of revenge by a group of youths, of whom only Dimitrov was caught.


23. The person responsible had formerly been a servant of the Supreme Committee in Sofia, but had done something which necessitated his leaving the Principality, and the Central Committee had employed him on Saratov’s recommendation. The man had been arrested and had given the Turks full information about the members of the Central Committee and the premises which they used.





Revolutionary Brotherhood, [24] which entered into friendly relations with the then Supreme Committee (before Sarafov was its leader), and began setting up branches in various towns throughout Macedonia. Inevitably, the Brotherhood clashed with the Internal Organization, and there were even mutual attempts at assassination, although nobody was actually killed. When Sarafov was elected to the leadership of the Supreme Committee, he managed to effect a reconciliation, and in September 1899, the Brotherhood was dissolved and its members joined the Internal Organization—but only as an expedient. Garvanov continued to cherish hopes that the Supreme Committee would gain the ascendancy and that he himself would become a member of the Central Committee. Indeed, this had been the main idea behind the reconciliation, as far as Sarafov was concerned, i.e. to get Garvanov and other members of the Brotherhood onto the Central Committee to take it over from within. [25] This idea, however, had had to be temporarily abandoned, since the Internal Organization was not yet prepared to admit Garvanov to the Central Committee.


Having decided to resign from the Supreme Committee, Sarafov approached General Tsonchev, as he now was, and the latter indicated that he was now ready to assume the leadership. But, after circulars had been sent out to local Macedonian societies inviting them to send delegates to an Extraordinary Congress on March 18, 1901, to approve the change, Sarafov began to have second thoughts about relinquishing the leadership. Tsonchev refused to withdraw, and the two officers quarrelled bitterly. The Congress had, in any case, to be postponed until April, because the Government refused to grant leave during March to the many teachers and civil servants who had been elected as delegates.


In the meantime, both factions—that of Sarafov and that of Tsonchev—were trying to win the support of the Internal Organization, which, however, did not take sides, and endeavoured, without success, to reconcile the two angry men. Tsonchev was also doing his utmost to convince Gotsé and Gyorché that the situation was suitable for an uprising in the autumn of 1901 at the very latest, but they were adamant in their opposition, and, indeed, sent a circular to all the Organization’s Committees in towns and villages throughout Macedonia and Thrace explaining the dangers of the officers’ outlook and of a premature uprising, and calling on their members to give neither credence nor support to individuals or cheti sent by the Supreme Committee. [26]


The power struggle between Sarafov and Tsonchev was temporarily resolved when the police arrested Sarafov and his immediate associates on charges connected with the murder of Fitovsky and Mihaileanu, so that



24. For more details about the character and history of the Revolutionary Brotherhood, see Mercia MacDermott, op. cit., pp. 177-179, and 217-218.


25. Miletich, Book VIII, pp. 127-132.


26. See Gotsé Delchev, Pisma i drugi materiali. Edited by Dino Kyosev, Sofia 1967, pp. 305-315. Much of it is quoted in MacDermott, Opus Cit., pp. 244-248.





they were not present at the Eighth Extraordinary Congress, which opened in Sofia on April 4, 1901.


Again Yané and Nikola Maleshevsky represented the Dupnitsa Society. [27] Yané had already summed up the officers and their Supreme Committee, and had decided to oppose their policies. ‘In 1900, when the struggle with Sarafov began, then already I took the side of the Internal Organization. The Supreme Committee had then bought some 500 long and 75 short Manlichers (guns—M.M.). They had sent them to Dupnitsa to me, as Chairman of the Society, to hide them. I hid them. Later we quarrelled because the Supreme Committee was then holding meetings with Tsonchev and Co. Our Society had collected, in Dupnitsa and round about, some 15,000 leva which we sent to the Committee. After that, when we had quarrelled, I came to ask for an explanation as to why—for our money at least—they had not sent us arms, so we could send them into Macedonia. Then Sarafov had lots of money at his disposal, while we hadn’t any money. They promised to send some 6,000 rifles, etc., and I set off home. When I got back, Saev (a representative of the Supreme Committee—M.M.) arrived with a ready cheta of 15 men, and they wrote telling me to give him guns and to hand the gun stores over to him. I refused. They sent me several telegrams, but I went on refusing.’ In explanation of this stand, Yané says: ‘The officers were hasty people—a machine: fill it up with water and it’ll go—but the Organization in the interior needed slow preparation. That is why we considered that the officers were not the people to do mass work among the population, and that they were not suitable for the preparatory period of the organization.’ [28]


When Sarafov was arrested, Saev and his men fled from Dupnitsa to Sofia, and Yané succeeded in taking their guns, which he added to the Society’s secret store. This unpleasantness did not prevent Yané and Nikola from visiting Sarafov in prison, while they were in Sofia for the Congress. Now that the rift between the General and the Lieutenant was complete, Sarafov began to warm towards the members of the Internal Organization whom he had previously deceived, and he told them what he and Tsonchev had decided at the officers’ meetings held behind the Internal Organization’s back. He warned Yané and Nikola that Tsonchev was ‘the Prince’s man’, [29] an allegation he had also made on more than one occasion to Gyorché, [30] and urged them to support him at the Congress in the hope of being re-elected in spite of everything. The Organization, however, decided to take a neutral line in the quarrel between the officers, and the elections produced a compromise committee, consisting of two



27. The letter mandating Yané, then Chairman of the Society, and Nikola Maleshevsky to represent the Society is dated 27.III.1901. BIA NBKM, f. 224, a.e. 8, p. 266.


28. Miletich, Book VII, pp. 14-15.


29. In the sense that there was a growing tendency on the part of Ferdinand to use the Macedonian question for his own political aims and ambitions.


30. Miletich, Book VIII, pp. 118 and 123.





supporters of Tsonchev, two of Sarafov, and two of the Internal Organization. Sarafov himself was not elected, neither was Tsonchev.


The general tenor of the Congress was favourable to the Internal Organization, whose policy on the proper relationship between the two Committees was explained both by Gotsé himself and by Nikola Gabrovsky, a Socialist from Tŭrnovo. Gabrovsky tabled a resolution which was not accepted when first put, but he did not give up, and collected 66 signatures (including those of Yané and Nikola Maleshevsky) so that the resolution was passed next day. [31]


The Resolution stated:


‘That the Macedonian movement in Macedonia and the Adrianople Region is a revolutionary movement, the ultimate aim of which is to do away with the present despotic regime which destroys all possibility of normal cultural development in that country, and to establish autonomous rule—the best guarantee for the restoration of calm and for the assurance of peace and quiet in the Balkan Peninsula;


‘that, in order to achieve this aim, it is necessary, first and foremost, to organize the enslaved populations in Macedonia and the Adrianople Region in a powerful fighting organization which will arouse and raise the political and civic consciousness of those populations, and appear wherever a blow may be struck against Turkish despotism, while supporting every revolutionary movement in Turkey which has the same aim, without, however, forgetting the future of the common liberation movement;


‘that the task of the Macedonian-Adrianople Organization in free Bulgaria is not to direct and lead the revolutionary movement in Macedonia and the Adrianople Region, which is developing under special circumstances and will brook no forcing from outside, but only to assist it morally and materially, while simultaneously explaining and interpreting its aims and aspirations to the public both in Bulgaria and in Europe;


‘the Macedonian-Adrianople Organization in Bulgaria will assist every revolutionary movement in Macedonia and Thrace which strives to reach its aim of liberation through the organized force of the mass of the people in these provinces;


‘in the interests of the liberation movement in Macedonia and the Adrianople Region and the tasks which it undertakes on its behalf in free Bulgaria, the Macedonian-Adrianople Organization declares that the laws and conditions in constitutional Bulgaria afford it sufficient scope to achieve its aims and therefore it rejects all outside interference from any government parties; ‘for the achievement of the ultimate aims of the Macedonian liberation



31. BIA NBKM, f. 224, a.e. 8, pp. 602 and 605.





movement, the Organization fights for the elimination of national and chauvinistic enmities between the peoples of the Balkan Peninsula and for a united struggle against the common foe.’ [32]


In view of the acceptance by Congress of this resolution, Gotsé and the other supporters of the Internal Organization considered that they had won a victory. They were, in fact, being skilfully outmanoeuvred by General Tsonchev, who was still biding his time and working behind the scenes through the new Chairman of the Committee, Stoyan Mihailovsky, a well-known and much respected poet. General Tsonchev’s tactics were simple: he quietly ignored the resolutions passed by Congress and continued with his own plans for an early rising.


From May 14-16, 1901, discussions on future co-operation took place between members of the new Supreme Committee, representatives of the Internal Organization, led by Gotsé, and the officers, led by Tsonchev. The protocol signed at the end of the discussions reiterated the different roles of the two organizations, as defined in Gabrovsky’s resolution, but made provision for two officers to join the Central Committee and for one officer to join each area committee of the Internal Organization as a military specialist, while the Internal Organization could mandate delegates to represent it on the Supreme Committee. All these co-opted members were to have the same rights as the regular members of the various committees. These provisions were similar to those agreed with Sarafov in May 1900, but never put into practice. However, the really important clauses of the agreement were those which recognized that, while all frontier posts and channels on Bulgarian territory were the inalienable property of the Internal Organization, all arms stored in the frontier zone were the property of the Supreme Committee, which would appoint a person to take charge of them and to ship them to the Internal Organization when ordered to do so by the Supreme Committee. [33]


Carefully wrapped up in paper recognition of the sovereignty of the Internal Organization and the role of the Supreme Committee as a supplier of moral and material support, the final clause of the Protocol gave the Supreme Committee control of the guns without which the Internal Organization’s sovereignty, was of little practical advantage. Gotsé had apparently failed to grasp what Tsonchev was doing. He was far too honest to suspect others of guile, and he tended to accept everything at its face value. The suspicious Gyorché would have immediately seen the trap, but he had been detained by the police because of his association with Sarafov and had not been present at the discussions. On hearing what Gotsé had done, he was furious, as were Yané and Nikola Maleshevsky, who, coming from a frontier area and alerted by their experience with



32. BIANBKM, f. 224, a.e. 8, pp. 611-612.


33. BIA NBKM, f. 305, a.e. 260, p. 12.





Saev, also immediately spotted the dangers inherent in the agreement. Sarafov—better informed than anyone else as to Tsonchev’s true intentions—offered to hand over all the arms stored on the frontier to the Internal Organization, rather than let them fall into the General’s hands, but Gotsé, having already signed the agreement, felt in honour bound to refuse the offer.


No sooner had Tsonchev got his hands on the arms, than he changed his attitude towards the Internal Organization. No longer was he friendly with the trusting, gullible Gotsé. He began to collect all kinds of riff-raff, including haramii and persons whom the Organization had expelled as unsuitable material, or for misdemeanours, and who therefore had a grudge against it, and he formed them into cheti. The two Socialist members of the Supreme Committee—Ivan Kepov and Vladimir Dimitrov, who supported the Internal Organization, and had agreed to serve on the Committee in view of the acceptance of Gabrovsky’s resolution—were so outraged that they both resigned.


Undeterred, Tsonchev continued on his way, professing one thing and doing the opposite. At the Ninth Regular Congress (July 29-August 4, 1901), Gabrovsky again tabled his resolution, this time with a couple of addenda critical of Sarafov. The first stated that ‘the former Macedonian-Adrianople Committee in the person of Mr Sarafov and his comrades deviated from the direct tasks of the Organization in free Bulgaria and entered into the role of the Internal Revolutionary Organization, as a consequence of which great damage was inflicted upon the Macedonian cause’. The second addendum stated that ‘terror as a means of struggle is not merely unethical, but its use in free Bulgaria compromises and impedes rather than advances the cause of liberation’. [34]


Gabrovsky’s resolution was accepted, but this time Tsonchev gained a narrow majority on the new Committee. Stoyan Mihailovsky continued to be the figure-head Chairman, with Tsonchev as Vice-Chairman. The representatives of the Internal Organization were disappointed by the results of the election, as was Sarafov, who, acquitted and released, attended the latter part of the Congress. Sarafov, sensing disaster, even wanted to assassinate Tsonchev before it was too late, but Gotsé would not hear of it, and insisted that the General be opposed solely by legal means. The opposition soon made itself felt, for several provincial societies expressed no confidence in the new Committee, which consisted mainly of officers. However, the lack of co-ordination between those opposed to the General which had facilitated the election of the Tsonchevists at the Congress now frustrated the calling of an Extraordinary Congress.


Almost at once, Tsonchev began sending his cheti over the frontier, but they were turned back by the Organization. Attempts were made to win over the Organization’s couriers and frontier workers, and those who



34. BIA NBKM, f. 305, a.e. 260, pp. 22-23.





proved obstinate were beaten up by Tsonchev’s men, or handed over to the police. In some places, such as Kyustendil, the Tsonchevists were successful, but in Dupnitsa, not only the Internal Organization’s men, but also the local Macedonian Society remained firmly opposed to the officers. When Saev began to harass members of the Internal Organization and the Supreme Committee refused to remove him, the Dupnitsa Society decided to break off all relations with the Supreme Committee in its existing form. The decision was taken at a meeting held on September 30, 1901 to hear the report of the Society’s delegate to the Ninth Congress, and, on October 2, the Society issued a printed appeal explaining the reasons for its decision and calling on other societies to do likewise, since the Supreme Committee intended ‘to disrupt the Internal Organization in Macedonia, and to sow discord within that Organization, so that it can carry out its own plans unhindered. Blind supporters of the theory that Macedonia has need of military experts, they will not be slow to engage in some adventure, which—useful, maybe, for someone—will be quite disastrous for the unfortunate Macedonians in their state of martyrdom’. The appeal went on to say that the Macedonian Societies outside Macedonia should confine their activities to collecting money and otherwise rendering assistance to the real revolutionaries in the interior. [35]


The Supreme Committee answered by expelling the Dupnitsa Society on November 20, 1901. Another dissident society—in Sevlievo—was also expelled at the same time.


Yané played little part in the events that followed the Eighth Congress, and was not present at the Ninth Congress, when Tsonchev was elected to the Committee. The Reading Room Club, the ‘Unity’ Society and all that went with them no longer satisfied his restless, searching soul. Armed with the new knowledge that he had gained, he decided to leave his adopted home, and to return to his spiritual mother, the mountain, there to enlighten and organize the people who dwelt around her. Even before the Eighth Congress in April, Yané had collected a small cheta, and as soon as the Congress was over, he returned to Dupnitsa only to leave again for Macedonia.



35. BIA NBKM, f. 305, a.e. 260, p. 31.


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