Freedom or Death. The Life of Gotsé Delchev

Mercia MacDermott



Two sharp stones grind

no flour.

    (Bulgarian proverb)


During Gotsé's absence in Macedonia, electricity had been introduced into the Bulgarian capital, and the first trams - divided into first and second class compartments, with red plush cushions on top of the rough wooden benches in the former - now glided smoothly along certain streets at a gentle speed of fifteen kilometers an hour, stopping at every cross-roads, and, indeed, anywhere else on request. The service was cheap, but derailments were common, and distances short, and, in spite of the wonders of red plush and electricity, most of the citizens of Sofia preferred to walk.


In the current relations between the Internal Organization arid the Supreme Committee, however, there was little light or progress, and, as with the trams, derailments were depressingly common occurrences. In the six months that had elapsed since the Congress, the initial euphoria had subsided, relations had cooled and had even become hostile. The very success of the Congress had given the officers an increased sense of their own importance, and, at one committee meeting, tempers had become so frayed that Gotsé and an officer named Sarakinov actually came to blows. According to Gyorché, [1] Sarakinov tried to knock Gotsé down, but the latter, being a powerful man, resisted the assault and began to wrestle with the officer. When Gotsé, who was unarmed, attempted to snatch Sarak-inov's dagger, Gyorché intervened to prevent bloodshed, and Gotsé stormed out of the room, cursing and swearing, followed by Gyorché. The affair was hushed up after an appeal by Sarafov and Toma Davidov, who succeeded in persuading Gotsé to overlook the incident and not report it to the Central Committee. [*]


Gyorché, too, had been having more than his usual lion's share of unpleasantness. Following the agreement between the two committees that all correspondence should be conducted not privately, but through the secretary of the appropriate committee, Gyorché had been secretly corresponding with the Central Committee and keeping them informed of developments and of his own suspicions regarding the officers. Unfortunately, early in January 1901, the Supreme Committee had discovered what he was doing, and, when he attempted



*. Exactly when this incident took place is not known. It was probably before Gotsé left for Macedonia in October 1900, and it might, indeed, have been the reason for his departure and his long stay there. On his return, he avoided, as far as possible, all contact with Saratov's committee.





to.deny their accusations, they had confronted him with photo-copies of one of his contraband letters. After this, the officers put pressure on Gyorché to leave Sofia and go to Tŭrnovo, or return to the interior, and threats had even been made against his life. They had long regarded him as the main obstacle to their plans for a speedy rising, and the affair of the letters had given them a legitimate excuse to banish him from their midst. At first, Gyorché had refused to budge, but when the Supreme Committee cut off the financial support which they had been giving him, Gyorché had been forced to submit and had gone to stay with a friend in Tŭrnovo for a few weeks.


Another source of friction was the failure of the Central Committee to send regular receipts to the Supreme Committee for money spent on the Internal Organization, one way or another, during the autumn of 1900. The reason for the lack of receipts is not entirely clear - it could have been connected with the Organization's disapproval of Sarafov's extravagance over the 'barracks', etc. - but the result was that, from the beginning of 1901 to March 25 of the same year, the Supreme Committee cut off all financial help to the Internal Organization. Payments recommenced after Sarafov had been arrested and after Garvanov had sent a receipt for 10,000 gold leva.


The arrest of the Central Committee had seemingly strengthened the hand of the Supreme Committee. In a letter to Nikola Male-shevsky, Gotsé described their attitude to the disaster: 'You must know that Gyorché and I are not attending the Committee. We don't go where lack of conscience has gone so far that they gloat with fiendish smiles over the cruel blows which the Turkish authorities have struck against the Organization, as a consequence of which they have been given an opportunity to take control of the situation (?!). I've put a question mark, because it is still a question.' [2]


Ivan Hadzhinikolov had not been arrested at the same time as the other members of the Central Committee, and, feeling that his turn would come, he had handed over to Garvanov all the addresses, ciphers, and other information necessary for maintaining contact with the Supreme Committee and the provincial committees of the Organization. Thus, after Hadzhinikolov's arrest, Garvanov had found himself at the head of the Organization, although, previously, he had not even been a member of the Central Committee, but only of the local Salonika Committee, where his comrades had tended to keep him at arm's length because of his connections with the Revolutionary Brotherhood and the Supreme Committee. Another of Hadzhinikolov's last minute arrangements had been the dispatch to the Supreme Committee of five blank forms bearing the seal of the Central Committee. According to Gyorché, [3] Hadzhinikolov had panicked, and, feeling that a rising would have to be declared, had sent the





forms so that the officers could use them to make out mandates authorizing their passage to the regions.


Yet, in spite of this favourable situation, the officers remained dithering in the Principality. One reason was Gyorché's fierce opposition; another was the report on the confused situation in the interior made by Captain Sofroni Stoyanov, whom the Supreme Committee had sent to Salonika to represent them on the Central Committee; [4] a third reason was the increasingly precarious position of the Supreme Committee itself. This was due partly to changes of government and partly to the increased use of terrorism by the Supreme Committee to punish spies and to collect money.


In the summer of 1900, Mihaileanu, editor of the Romanian journal Peninsula Balcanica, had been murdered in Buchurest by terrorists sent by Sarafov, because his newspaper had divulged the existence of the Organization and had written against it. The murder of Mihaileanu, following as it did the murder of Fitovsky, also in Buchurest, aroused a storm of protest abroad. If the Bulgarian Government was prepared to turn a blind eye to terrorism at home, other Governments were not prepared to tolerate its export to neighbouring countries. The air hummed with a hornet's nest of diplomatic activity. War between Bulgaria and Romania [5] seemed imminent, and the Great Powers joined in the controversy.


At the end of August, Sarafov and Toma Davidov, secretary of the Supreme Committee, called on the Minister for War and obtained his consent to the formation of volunteer detachments of Macedonian emigrés in the event of war. In November, when diplomatic pressure was brought to bear on the Government for the disbanding of these detachments, the Supreme Committee transformed them into 'rifle clubs', but the Great Powers were not deceived. Ferdinand was obliged to dismiss Radoslavov, his Minister of the Interior, for not being sufficiently firm with the Supreme Committee, and his place was taken by General Racho Petrov, who became Prime Minister in January 1901. Sarafov received warnings from both the Bulgarian Government and the Russian diplomatic agent in Sofia to stop the collection of money by force. Bahmetov, the Russian agent said: 'You have gone too far. The keys of the Macedonian question are in St. Petersburg. What are these extortions of money by force? The whole of your work is just a student fantasy. It will make a bad impression in Europe. And in Russia, too, because if you start something, it won't help you, as Russia is tied up in the Far East.' He then advised Sarafov to resign. Sarafov pointed out that they had no alternative but to collect money by force, and that it was European diplomacy that drove them to this. He also asked who was to take his place if he resigned. The Russian suggested Dimitŭr Rizov, and when





Sarafov replied that he was not suitable, Bahmetov said, 'Since that is the case, both your organization here and the other one over there will be reduced to dust and ashes.' [6]


About the same time as the Central Committee was arrested, Zinoviev, the Russian Ambassador in Constantinople, demonstratively gave the Sultan carte-blanche to deal as he pleased with the rebellious population in Macedonia, and the Turks began to mass troops along the frontier with the Principality in order to prevent any possible action on the part of cheti. In an attempt to take the heat out of the international situation and to pacify the Russians, Ferdinand dismissed Racho Petrov, and a new, Russophil government, led by Petko Karavelov, was formed on February 19, 1901.


Sarafov and his comrades, who were right in the centre of the storm, began to feel the ground giving way under their feet, and decided that it would be wiser to withdraw from the leadership of the Committee and go into the interior to start a rising using the blank forms sent from Salonika to authorize their passage in the eyes of the Organization. The obvious man to succeed Sarafov was Ivan Tsonchev, who, at his own wish, had been waiting in the wings, and who now said that he was ready to assume the leadership. At a Committee meeting held on February 16, 1901, it was decided to call a Congress on March 18 to approve the changes, and a circular letter went out to the provincial societies informing them of the decision.


When everything was under way, Sarafov began to have doubts. His plans had been greeted with howls of disapproval from many political quarters: 'What! The Organization in the hands of the Court's men?' [7] Simeon Radev, who had returned to Bulgaria from Paris, where he was editing L'Effort, also opposed the changes, and, using flattery, to which Sarafov was very susceptible, told him that it was a pity to give up when he enjoyed considerable popularity at home and abroad, and when the Committee had become so active under his leadership. [8] Another fact which made Sarafov regret his decision to resign in favour of Tsonchev was Gotsé's violent opposition to the whole plan: 'We will not tolerate officers in the Organization or on the Committee. If Tsonchev comes and you leave for the interior, you will meet the bayonets of the Organization.' [9] Sarafov, as usual, blamed Gotsé's attitude on his Socialist ideas.


In view of all this, Sarafov tried to draw back, and suggested that he should remain Chairman, and that a few young officers be appointed to work with the Committee to acquaint themselves with the work. But Tsonchev - now a general - had already resigned his commission, and he rejected Sarafov's new proposals. The two men quarrelled violently at a meeting; Sarafov showed Tsonchev the door, whereupon Tsonchev and his supporters began to spread rumours





that Sarafov had been misusing Committee funds.


Gyorché was now back in Sofia, having stayed in 'exile' only about five weeks. Both sides complained to him and sought his support, and he earnestly advised them to settle their differences. He promised to support them if they would stop trying to take over the Internal Organization and force a rising. No agreement, however, was possible between the two proud, intransigent and mutually offended officers.


Tsonchev was doing his best to win Gyorché's support for an uprising in the autumn at the very latest, an uprising of which he, Tsonchev, as a general, would be the Commander-in-Chief. He tried to convince him that the international situation was favourable, that Russia would be sympathetic, and so forth, but Gyorché remained adamant. He repeated that the Internal Organization would proclaim the uprising when it considered the time to be ripe, and that it would accept material and moral aid from the Principality, but that it would not be stampeded into a premature, artificially induced uprising. He also advised Tsonchev to drop his title of General, and enter the movement as plain Ivan Tsonchev, and added that, if he went into the interior, he would later on hold the position due to him. They had several such exchanges of views, and, according to Gyorché, the General always departed in 'chagrin'. [10]


The situation was becoming both difficult and dangerous. The officers were impatient to proclaim a rising; the Central Committee had been decapitated; Garvanov, its acting leader in Salonika, was a newcomer of doubtful loyalty and stability, while the people in Macedonia were partially armed and eager for action. Only the discipline of the Organization, built up over the years, could prevent a disastrous explosion. Faced with this critical situation, Gotsé and Gyorché decided to assume the leadership and issue directives until some representative assembly could be called. Accordingly, they drew up a lengthy circular, [11] which was hectographed and sent to all the Organization's regional, district and village committees, as well as to the commanders of the cheti.


The circular began with an analysis of the events which had produced a crisis in the affairs of the Organization. First, there were the blows dealt it by the Turkish Government, which was attempting to 'catch all the more lively, wide-awake and bolder Bulgarians', [12] and to terrorize the peasants and townsfolk to such an extent that nobody would dare continue the work, and that 'all public activity on the part of the Bulgarians would become impossible.' [13] After some encouraging rhetorical expressions of confidence that the Organization would survive the blows which it had suffered - 'It is indestructible, because it is the people, and is it possible for the Sultan to destroy a whole people?' [14] - Gotsé and Gyorché went on to recommend a measure of





temporary decentralization, with the regional committees deciding on their own responsibility matters which were formerly referred to the Central Committee. All committees were, however, urged to act in strict accordance with the spirit and letter of the Organization's rules, to continue their work as hitherto, to avoid all innovations and major undertakings, to correct certain weaknesses, to tighten discipline, and to refrain from all activity that might create a stir and invoke the wrath of the Turks.


A major part of the circular dealt with the danger 'from within': 'The more our Organization grows in strength, the greater is the danger of the premature outbreak of some local rising, which might provoke a general uprising, because, parallel with the strengthening of the Organization, the percentage of fighting elements is increasing, and the excitement and impatience of the population is mounting. Provocation by the Turks is increasing. In our opinion, the greatest crime that any of our members could commit against the people and history would be to cause a premature and unprepared uprising. This would be nothing more nor less than suicide for us. Many revolutions have stopped half-way and have turned out to be abortive for such reasons. Why should we not consider the possibility of such a misfortune happening here? Pay greater attention to the activities of the cheti, and advise members to act with moderation and restraint in the face of disasters and Turkish provocation. Beware of people who enter from Bulgaria.


'Simultaneously with the defeat which the Organization has sustained from without, an internal ulcer is threatening from within to gnaw away its roots and complete the devastation. We refer to the encroachments which certain ambitious persons in Bulgaria, mostly military men, headed by the young officers who belong to the Sofia Committee, want to inflict upon the Internal Organization...'


Gyorché and Gotsé went on to summarize the history of the difficulties with the Supreme Committee: 'You know that, in the name of the Internal Organization, when the old diplomatic (here there is an illegible word - M.M.) trend, which had expansionist tendencies in Bulgaria's interests, was smashed, there emerged at the head of things here mainly young officers, our former sympathizers and assistants in the work here. Just when we thought that the Cause had at last freed itself from disagreement about its basic principles, precisely when the revival of activity here led us to hope that the Internal Organization would at last receive the support we expected from here, precisely then, our comrades here, alleged supporters of the ideas and principles of the Internal Organization, advanced the old Committee's claim for leadership and supremacy in the conduct of our common activities in the cause of liberation, because, they argue, the forces which have





hitherto been the leaders are unfitted to be leaders (an officers' view), and, what is even worse, they have advanced class claims - the military caste, with all its absurdities and its wild and crude views on life, wants to impose itself upon a people's revolutionary cause, to take over the revolutionary cause and to give it a class, sectarian character. At first covertly, and later openly, they declared their desire and intention of transforming our present Organization from a revolutionary one into a purely military one, i.e. our unconquerable ideological spirit is to be turned into the spirit of the barracks which has nothing in common with it.' [15]


They then summarized the officers' plans for getting their representatives onto the Central Committee and into the regions as local leaders, in order to force an early rising, and they described the officers' contempt for the teachers, [*] who, in their opinion, are 'old women... incapable of organizing, beginning or finishing the work,' [16] and who therefore ought to hand over the leadership to the military. The officers, according to Gotsé and Gyorché, were against mass work among the people, and required only a minority with military discipline. 'They attach no importance to the power of the people, but only to the section organized by them. According to them, relations between members should not be, as they are with us, based on the principle of comradeship and brotherhood and respect for each other's feelings, but on strict subordination to the purely military regime of the barracks.' [17]


In this circular, as nowhere else, one can see the scars which Gotsé's experiences in the Military School had left on his sensitive, freedom-loving soul. The years had perpetuated rather than blurred his unpleasant memories, and his aversion to the Prussian spirit, with its myopic arrogance and its reliance on unquestioning obedience, was now stronger than ever. It was no longer simply something that he disliked and rejected; it was something which was menacing everything that he stood for, lived for and was prepared to die for. Because of the officers' peculiar outlook, 'we positively affirm that joint activity between the military and our present internal workers is absolutely impossible, and, consequently, before we allowed them inside, we would have to admit that our Organization is bankrupt, that our workers were incapable; we would have to trample upon the sacred memory of the many members of this Organization who have perished. For us, it is more than certain that once our Internal Organization fell into the hands of the military, and, especially into the hands of the present candidates for here and there, not only would a fullstop



*. The word used is 'daskalcheta' and has no exact equivalent in English. It is a masculine form of 'little schoolmarms'. 'Pedagogue', in the derogatory sense, is a possible translation.





be put to all our activity up till now, but also all that has hitherto been done would be demolished...


'Comrades, the Internal Organization, which grew out of the people as a whole and bases itself upon them, is recognized as a powerful force even by its enemies, while, in our eyes, it alone is the force which can break the chains of slavery. On the credit side of its activity, it can already count a considerable number of deeds of high moral value and practical significance for the revolutionary cause of liberation. You know that the moral revolution - the revolution in the mind, heart and soul of an enslaved people - is the greatest task. The teachers and peasants who are today being decried have, by their tireless, idealistic and purely apostolic activity, by their examples of personal moral and physical self-sacrifice for freedom, practically completed this revolution in our enslaved people. Our people is awake, their common spirit strongly aroused. Today, a militant spirit blows over every house in our country. All this has been done by the Organization...


'Now this Organization is being asked to declare itself non-viable; its thousands of workers, modest but true and conscientious fighters, ready at any moment to sacrifice themselves morally and physically, are today being asked to declare themselves incapable fighters, and by whom and what kind of people are they being asked to do so? This is being put forward by outside people, who are far from the struggle, and it is being put forward, not on the basis of the proven needs of the country or the Cause, but from considerations of class interests and pretentions, and considerations which are the fruit of purely subjective motives and are based on the personal position of a few individuals. Should we not be committing a crime against the idea and against ourselves, if we committed or allowed others to commit this sacrilegious violation of the Organization?...'


Gotsé and Gyorché considered that the situation was so serious that it should be discussed by 'a wider circle of internal workers, so that the heavy responsibility be shared by more comrades,' [18] but in view of the officers' desire to profit from the confusion following the arrest of the Central Committee, they recommended that, until such a conference could be convened, certain emergency measures should be taken. No help or hospitality should be given to any cheta which did not have an authorization signed by both Gyorché and Gotsé with their respective pseudonyms Marko and Ahil. If possible, such unauthorized cheti should be disarmed. Similarly, no individuals sent by the Supreme Committee should be accepted or given credence. All relations with the Supreme Committee and its agents on the frontier should be broken off, even though this might cause temporary hardship for the Organization. In conclusion, Gotsé and Gyorché





accepted full moral responsibility for these measures until a conference could be called.


This circular effectively put paid to the officers' plans to enter the interior. The authority enjoyed by Gotsé and Gyorché, and the iron discipline of the Organization guaranteed that their recommendations would be carried out and that no help of any kind would be given to Supremist cheti.


Having quarrelled with both Tsonchev and the Internal Organization, Sarafov found himself in a very shaky position, although he could still count on considerable support in the provincial societies. The Congress called for March 18 had to be postponed because the Government refused to grant special leave to the teachers and civil servants who formed a large proportion of the delegates. The new date - April 4 - fell within the Easter Vacation, so that the teachers, at least, would have no difficulty in attending, but, in the end, it was Sarafov and his immediate colleagues who missed the Congress, because on March 23, they were arrested on charges connected with the murder of Fitovsky and Mihaileanu. [19] The motives behind the arrest were the Government's desire to placate Romania and the Great Powers, and Ferdinand's desire to see Sarafov replaced by Tsonchev, who, from the point of view of the Court, was less revolutionary and more reliable.


Thus, the Eighth Extraordinary Congress [20] opened without Sarafov, who otherwise might have had a very good chance of being re-elected. Gyorché was also absent. In view of his close connections with the Supremists, he was also being sought by the police, and had gone into hiding in Gorna Banya, a village near Sofia. When the blow fell, Gotsé had been in Kyustendil, and at first, he had feared that he, too, was in danger of being arrested. On being assured that this was not the case, [*] he came back to Sofia and attended the Congress in his capacity as the representative of the Internal Organization. He and Gyorché had previously agreed that they should take a neutral stand in the quarrel between Sarafov and Tsonchev, and should try to get their own line adopted.


The discussion at the Congress centred around the conduct of Sarafov, [**] and the future activity of the Committee. From the beginning the mood of the Congress favoured the standpoint of the Internal Organization. Lyapchev once again opposed the new revolutionary tactics of the Committee, but received little support. Several delegates,



*. Gotsé's frequent absences from Sofia and rare attendances at Supreme Committee meetings led the police to regard him as less dangerous and less implicated in the murders than Gyorché, who was more often in the company of members of the Committee.


**. The accusations against him boiled down to criticisms of his use of terror and allegations of misuse of funds.





including Anton Strashimirov and Dimitŭr Rizov, spoke against any interference by the Supreme Committee in the affairs of the Internal Organization. [21] Rizov also warned against the dangers of an overhasty revolution, and urged serious and careful preparation. Stressing the need to have at the head of the Committee an authoritative person, who would work in this direction, he opposed Tsonchev's entry into the Committee, and nominated Gotsé as the man best qualified for the post.


Immediately after this the floor was taken by Nikola Gabrovsky, a Socialist from Tŭrnovo and one of the founder members of the Bulgarian Social Democratic Party. [22] Gabrovsky, who was clearly working in close co-operation with Gotsé, spoke of the revolutionary situation in Macedonia, arising from economic decline and Turkish oppression, and of the need for the mass of the people to be embued with a revolutionary spirit so that they could take advantage of the situation. In his opinion, not enough had yet been done in this direction. He condemned terror as a standard practice, because, in most cases, it only served to weaken the revolutionary forces. As regards the relationship between the Supreme Committee and the Internal Organization, he was against any merging of the two bodies and declared that the job of the Supreme Committee was to help the Organization morally and materially, and to enlighten public opinion at home and abroad, while the task of preparing the Macedonian population for revolution belonged exclusively to the Internal Organization. He also declared that the Macedonian cause could not be placed on a national basis, because of the other states which were interested in the area, and he insisted that the movement must remain independent of political parties and the Court. Similar views on the respective roles of the Supreme Committee and the Internal Organization, on the need for the revolution to be mass in character, and on the adverse repercussions of terrorism, were expressed by Mihail Gerdzhikov, [23] one of the Organization's best voivodi.


Tsonchev and his supporters noted the mood of the Congress and trimmed their sails accordingly. In a speech on the following day, the General appeared to accept the views already expressed on the relations between the two organizations, and the division of labour between them. He spoke of the need for 'a mass revolution', although later it became clear that he considered that this could be achieved without any very lengthy preparation. In stressing the need for unity, however, he came out against the institution of 'representatives abroad', and said that the two organizations should negotiate directly with each other. In practice, this would mean that, instead of dealing with Gotsé and Gyorché, who were their most implacable opponents, the Tsonchevists would deal with the Central Committee headed by





Garvanov, on whose support they relied.


On the final day, before the election of the new committee, Gotsé addressed the Congress. According to the minutes of the Congress, Gotsé said that 'even before 1895, the people in Macedonia had decided upon a course of "political" armed struggle against Turkish tyranny. The Internal Organization tries not merely to give arms to the people, but also to break down their slavish spirit. Before we made contact with the Committee of 1899, the officers had helped us. The link no longer exists because Mr Boris Sarafov wanted to send his people from here as leaders of the Internal Organization. But this Organization is local and secret. It has its local committees - town and village. Their activity is directed according to local needs and conditions by the local governing bodies - district and regional committees, and above them there is a Central Committee. We opposed Sarafov because if he had sent people from here as leaders, it would have been the start of the revolution, it would have led to a catastrophe; in general, these things could have been forced upon them from outside. Only if the organization here approves the spirit of the Internal Organization, and does not attempt to push it, to influence it, i.e. does not meddle in its affairs, only then can there be any contact between these two organizations... The delegates of the S (ecret) R(evolutionary) Central Committee have as their aim not merely to maintain contact between the two organizations, but also to repel encroachments by the Supreme Committee here on the secret organization in Macedonia and the Adrianople Region.' [24]


Gabrovsky then proposed a resolution [25] which defined the relations between the two organizations, saying that the task of the Supreme Committee 'is not to direct and lead the revolutionary movement in Macedonia and the Adrianople Region, which is developing under special conditions and will not tolerate any forcing from outside, but only to assist morally and materially, and to give timely explanation of its aims and aspirations to the public both in Bulgaria and in Europe.' When the resolution was first put to the Congress, it was not passed. Gabrovsky then persuaded 66 delegates, i.e. more than half, to sign it, and on the following day it was passed by acclamation, with the proviso that its contents should not be publicized.


The elections produced a temporary Committee consisting of Dr Vladov, Georgi Minkov, Vladimir Dimitrov [*], Ivan Kepov, Georgi Petrov and Stoyan Mihailovsky. The results represented a compromise between the three main factions at the Congress. Vladov and Mihailovsky were supporters of Tsonchev; Minkov and Georgi Petrov were supporters of Sarafov, and had been members of the previous



*. Dimitrov was a Socialist, while Kepov had views close to those of the Socialists, and was generally considered to be one.





Committee, while Kepov and Dimitrov were supporters of the Internal Organization. Dimitrov, declared in his speech thanking the Congress for electing him that he had accepted nomination in view of Gabrovsky's resolution, which had given 'a clear directive' to the Committee, and said that he would 'endeavour to work according to the spirit of this resolution.' On April 18, 1901, in their respective capacities as Vice-Chairman and Secretary of the Committee, Dimitrov and Kepov sent out a circular to all societies informing them of the Congress decisions on co-operation between the Balkan peoples, and the roles of the two organizations. [26]


Gotsé, too, seemed to regard the Congress as a victory for the Internal Organization. On April 10 1901, he wrote a letter to the committee in Gorna Dzhumaya, in which he said: The officers did not succeed at the Congress. We'll see how we'll get on in future with the new team. Predominantly Socialist views are blowing through this team, views which are very close to ours. Confined, of course, within the framework of political revolution.' [27]


The new Committee chose as its Chairman Stoyan Mihailovsky, [28] who was a well-known poet and satirist, but he was little more than a 'front' for General Tsonchev, who was still bidding his time. He and his supporters had not the slightest intention of being bound by the resolution, and, indeed, Mihailovsky, in his speech of thanks, made it clear that he still favoured an early rising, when, after saying that they would respect 'the initiative beyond Rila and the Rhodopes', he added that the new Committee would see to it that 'the kernel over there should bear fruit as soon as possible'. [29]


After closing down Saratov's 'barracks' and finding work for all its 'inmates', the new Committee busied itself with putting the archives in order, sorting out the affairs of the newspaper Reformi, making inventaries of arms stores, and buying guns and other supplies, some of which went to the Internal Organization, together with nearly 5000 leva in cash. The composition of the Committee, with its three factions, made normal work somewhat difficult. Behind the scenes, Tshonchev and his supporters were preparing to take over at the regular Congress and to force their policy upon the Internal Organization. In pursuance of this aim, Tsonchev and his supporters hastened to restore the links between the Supreme Committee and the Internal Organization which had existed prior to the final quarrel between the latter and Sarafov. Discussions took place between the members of the Supreme Committee, Tsonchev and representatives of the Internal Organization, headed by Gotsé, [30] and a protocol was signed on May 18 1901, reaffirming the arrangements made the previous May, but never implemented, for two officers to join the Central Committee and for others to go as military specialists to the





interior. It was also agreed that the military supplies which Sarafov had stockpiled on the frontier should be handed over to the new Supreme Committee. Sarafov, whose attitude towards the Internal Organization had become more friendly since his arrest, offered to transfer all the arms stored on the frontier - about a thousand Manlicher rifles - to the Internal Organization, rather than let them fall into Tsonchev's hands, but Gotsé refused to take them because he had already signed the protocol with Tsonchev and the Supreme Committee.


Gyorché had not taken part in the drafting of the agreement because, immediately after the Congress, he had given himself up to the police and was now in detention, where, however, Gotsé was able to visit him. Another of Gyorché's visitors was the General himself, who made a final attempt to win Gyorché for a rising by the autumn at the latest. When Gyorché remained obdurate in his opposition, Tsonchev said: 'Here you are a menace to everybody and you must get out of Bulgaria.' Gyorché replied that he had indeed thought of returning to the interior, but that he was now going to stay in Sofia, with the express purpose of thwarting the General's plans. They parted in anger, and Gyorché, thoroughly offended by the General's manner, never so much as greeted him from then on. [31]


Gyorché was also furious when he heard of the agreement for he immediately perceived the dangers inherent in it, and was of the opinion that Tsonchev had managed to pull the wool over Gotsé's eyes. Gotsé was, in fact, a poor judge of human nature; he was too optimistic, too honest in his own dealings, too convinced that everybody else was like himself, to be able to perceive guile and deceit in others until it was too late. His transparent innocence was, at one and the same time, his weakness and his strength. Without it, intelligent, courageous and diligent though he was, Gotsé would not have attained the unique position which he held within the Organization. People of all kinds - literate and illiterate, peasant, teacher and brigand alike - were drawn to him and worked harmoniously under his leadership because they were instinctively aware of his integrity. Mihail Gerdzhikov called him 'the conscience of the Macedonian revolutionary', and said that, as long as he was alive, discipline within the Organization was maintained not so much by its strict rules as by the 'moral influence of this man, who roved throughout Macedonia and Thrace, and who, by his personal example demonstrated what the moral image of a revolutionary should be.' [32]


While Gotsé worked to unite the movement, and fondly imagined that Tsonchev would feel himself bound by resolutions and agreements, Gyorché was convinced that Tsonchev intended to trick them, and that, in spite of the lip-service which he paid to the independence





of the Internal Organization and the auxiliary role of the Supreme Committee, he simply wanted to get his hands on the guns to use them for his own purposes. Unfortunately, Gyorché was right. As soon as Tsonchev got his hands on the guns, his attitude towards the Internal Organization changed. Relations between him and Gotsé cooled, and Tsonchev began to collect veteran voivodi of the haramiya type whom the Organization had discarded or was trying to curb, together with former malcontent members of the Organization who had been expelled for various misdemeanours, and formed them into cheti. His conduct outraged the two Socialist members of the Supreme Committee, Kepov and Dimitrov, who said that they could not work with such a man, and resigned.


The Ninth Regular Macedonian-Adrianople Congress met from July 29 to August 5 1901 in the Slavyanska Beseda Hall, one of the few large halls in Sofia, which was also in demand for 'high society' dances. The agenda was similar to that of the Extraordinary Congress held in April, and Tsonchev had prepared the ground by initiating rumours and accusations of large scale embezzlement of Committee funds on the part of Sarafov and his comrades. Particularly serious allegations, referring to the appropriation by Sarafov of 100,000 leva, were made by Sarakinov, a former member of Sarafov's Committee, who had joined Tsonchev. Allegations were also made against the Internal Organization.


On August 2, Sarafov himself appeared at the Congress, having just been acquitted [*] of complicity in the murder of Mihaileanu. Sarakinov was unable to substantiate his allegations, and the Congress appointed a commission to look into the matter. On the following day, acting again in agreement with Gotsé, Gabrovsky again put forward his resolution in a slightly amended form, with sharper criticism of the terrorism employed by Sarafov: 'Not only is terror, as a system of struggle, immoral, but its use in free Bulgaria compromises and slows down, rather than accelerates, the cause of liberation.' The Congress adopted the resolution, with its clear statement of the differing roles of the two organizations, and its rejection of any external forcing of the pace. The resolution was intended both as a condemnation of Sarafov's activities and as a warning to Tsonchev. The latter, however, was not to be bound by signatures and scraps of paper. He accepted the resolution for tactical reasons, without the slightest intention of abiding by it, once he was safely elected to the leadership. The Tsonchevists had no majority in the Congress, but, because their opponents were divided and the delegates deceived as to their true policy, they were able to win a narrow victory in the



*. According to the Daily News, August 14 1901, the verdict was greeted by shouts of 'Long Live Justice' inside the court, and 'Long Live Saratov' from outside.





elections for a new Committee. Stoyan Mihailovsky remained Chairman, but with Tsonchev as Vice-Chairman. [33]


Gyorché and Gotsé were deeply disappointed by the results of the elections, and immediately began a campaign against the new Committee. Sarafov, who knew better than anyone else what Tsonchev's true intentions were, now tried to make peace with the Internal Organization, although he blamed Gotsé and Gyorché for having facilitated Tsonchev's election by not supporting him (Sarafov) at the Congress. According to Sarafov, Gotsé admitted that this was so, but Gyorché would not accept any blame, and merely said that he had not taken part in these affairs. [34] Sarafov wanted to use terror against the Tsonchevists, even to the point of assassinating the General, but the chivalrous Gotsé refused to stoop to murder, and insisted that the struggle must be waged legally, through the newspapers, etc. Sarafov was irritated by what he considered to be unnecessary squeamishness on Gotsé's part, and replied: 'I can't stay here and watch Tsonchev's people mocking us and terrorizing us, while I have to fight solely through newspapers like an old woman.' After this, Sarafov went abroad on one of his searches for international finance.


The struggle against Tsonchev began immediately after the Congress. Several provincial societies expressed no confidence in the new Committee on the grounds that it consisted mainly of officers who were neither sincere nor capable of working according to the spirit of the Committee's Statute, and the Sofia Society split in two on the issue. In spite of the considerable opposition to Tsonchev, lack of co-ordination prevented the calling of a new Extraordinary Congress, and Tsonchev blithely went ahead with his plans, giving public support to the Congress resolutions, and covertly working in an entirely different manner. Behind him was the Prince, who urgently required something more spectacular than secret committees and agitational cheti to serve as a lever to advance his political ambitions and to force concessions from Turkey.


The delegates, who had voted for a declaration of no interference in the affairs of the Internal Organization, had hardly dispersed before Tsonchev began to send his riff-raff cheti over the border to agitate for an early uprising. In obedience to Gotsé's circular, the Internal Organization refused to accept them; where possible the cheti were disarmed and chased out of Macedonia, but it was not long before the blood began to flow, as the guns which Gotsé had, with honourable naivety, handed over to Tsonchev went into action against the Organization.


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1. Materiali... Vol VIII, p. 140-141.


2. Gotsé Delchev. Pisma... p. 215. Latter dated March 4, 1901.


3. Materiali... Vol VIII, p. 114.


4. Ibid., p. 115.


5. Romania was encouraged by Austro-Hungary, who had ambitions in Macedonia and felt them to be threatened by the revolutionary movement there. Unaware of the difference between the Internal Organization and the Supreme Committee, Austro-Hungary fondly imagined that firm action against the latter would put an end to the revolutionary movement in Macedonia as well.


6. Sarafov's memoirs. Materiali... Vol V, p. 57.


7. Ibid., p. 58.


8. Memoirs of Gyorché Petrov. Materiali... Vol VIII, p. 117.


9. Memoirs of Sarafov. Materiali... Vol V, p. 58.


10. Materiali... Vol VIII, p. 123.


11. Gotsé Delchev. Pisma... pp. 305-315. The circular (is) written in code and is undated, but, from Gotsé's letters, one may conclude that it was written between March 8 and 14, 1901. The first six pages were written by Gyorché and the second six by Gotsé. Both signed it.


12. Ibid., p. 307.


13. Ibid., p. 307.


14. Ibid., p. 308.


15. Gotsé Delchev. Pisma... pp. 310-311.


16. Gotsé Delchev. Pisma... pp. 311.


17. Ibid., p. 312.


18. Gotsé Delchev. Pisma... pp. 315.


19. Those arrested were Sarafov himself, Toma Davidov (Vice-chairman), Vladimir Kovachev (secretary) and Georgi Petrov (treasurer). The latter had been arrested by mistake. The police actually wanted Gyorché Petrov, and Georgi Petrov was soon released.


20. The Congress sat from April 4-8 1901, and was attended by 123 delegates. At that time there were 268 Macedonian-Adrianople Societies in Bulgaria and 12 abroad.


21. Minutes of the Congress. NBKM BIA f. 224 a.e. 8 pp 590-591. (Strashimirov) and p. 593-595 (Rizov). Quoted by Pandev. Org. Nats. Osv. dv. p. 357.


22. Ibid., p. 595-596 (Gabrovsky). Quoted by Pandev: Org. Nats. Osv. dv. p. 358.


23. Minutes of Congress. NBKM BIA f. 224, a.e. 8, p. 596-597. Gerdzhikov was born in Plovdiv in the Principality. His father and mother were from Koprivshititsa and Batak respectively. He went to school in Plovdiv and Sliven, and then studied law in Lausanne and Geneva. On his return, he became a teacher in Bitolya, where he made the acquaintance of Damé Gruev, and joined the Organization. He joined Hristo Chernopeev's cheta in 1900, and soon became a voivoda in his own right.


24. Gotsé Delchev. Pisma... p. 316-317.


25. Minutes of Congress, p. 611-612.


26. NBKM BIA, f 224, a.e. 8, p. 605. Quoted by Pandev. Org: Nats. Osv. dn. p. 366.


27. Gotsé Delchev. Pisma... p. 255.


28. Stoyan Mihailovsky was born in Elena (a town in the Stara Planina) in 1856. He studied in Constantinople before taking a degree in Law in Aix-en-Provence. He is chiefly remembered for his Hymn to Cyril and Methodius, 1892, which was set to music by Panayot Pipkov in 1901.


29. NBKM BIA f. 224, a.e.8, p. 605.





30. The other representatives of the Internal Organization were Mihail Gerdzhikov and Dr Vladimir Rumenov.


31. Materiali... Vol VIII, p. 123.


32. See Mihail Gerdzhikov. Sreshtata mi s Gotsé Delchev. Byuletin. Sŭyuz na trakiiskite lu;turno-prosvetni druzhestva v Bŭlgaria. 1975, No. 10, p. 32.


33. The other members of the Committee were Ivan Stoichev - Secretary, Georgi Belev - Treasurer, and Stoyan Nikolov and Anton Bozukov - members.  Bozukov had returned from  the Transvaal and had abandoned Sarafov for Tsonchev.


34. Materiali... Vol V, p. 65. Gyorché was detained in police stations for about four and a half months and did not attend the Congress.