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



The living close the eyes of the dead,

and the dead open the eyes of the living.

Bulgarian proverb


To live means to struggle: the slave for freedom

and the free man for perfection.

Yané Sandansky




Any work of research requires the good will and co-operation of many people apart from the actual author, and this book is no exception. In the course of writing, I have required, and been supplied with, original documents, rare books and photographs, old newspapers, unpublished theses, eye-witness accounts and reminiscences, guides and transport—including jeeps!—to take me to otherwise inaccessible places, and a thousand-and-one essential facts and services. So many people and institutions have helped me that it would be impossible to mention them all, and invidious to single out individual names. I cannot, however, refrain from mentioning the name of the late Kostadin Marinov (Kotsé). Only those who, like myself, had the privilege of knowing him can fully appreciate the extent to which he smoothed my way during the collection of impressions and material in and around Pirin. Special mention must also be made of Veselin Izmirliev, who, like Kotsé, did not live to see the book in print. To describe Izmirliev as its translator into Bulgarian is to underestimate his role, for it was thanks to the astonishing precision and thoroughness with which he worked that many inaccuracies, errors, wrong references, etc. were discovered and corrected in time.


I am deeply grateful to the staff of all the libraries and archives which I have used—some of whom went beyond the normal line of duty in their efforts to be of maximum assistance. They include the staff of the Cyril and Methodius National Library in Sofia, the Ivan Vazov National Library in Plovdiv, the Central State Historical Archives in Sofia, the Library of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the Central Archives of the Bulgarian Communist Party, the Regional Historical Museum and Regional State Archives in Blagoevgrad, the Military Archives in Veliko Tŭrnovo, the Museums in Melnik and Stanké Dimitrov, the Reading Room Club in Gotsé Delchev, the Photographic Archives in Sofia, the British Library, the Bodleian Library and the Public Record Office in London.


My warmest thanks are due to those individuals, including relatives and former comrades of Yané Sandansky, who have offered information and family archives, allowed me to record their memoirs, and generally responded to my insatiable inquiries; to those friends who assisted me by xeroxing documents, copying photographs and performing other technical services; and to those colleagues who have helped me with their encouragement and advice.


A very special word of thanks goes to the population of the Blagoevgrad Region, where Yané Sandansky lived and died, and where, for years on end, people at all levels—from the highest officials to the most ordinary




citizens-unfailingly helped me in whatever way they could. Indeed, I number among the most valuable fruits of my labour the feeling of attachment and the links of friendship which now bind me to this Region and its people.


It is my sincere hope that all those who have contributed in so many different ways towards the creation of this book will feel that their efforts were not in vain.




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