Freedom or Death. The Life of Gotsé Delchev

Mercia MacDermott

 

CHAPTER XXII

Lele, Yana, lele, darling daughter,

All day you sit embroid'ring at your frame:

Why are you embroid'ring this fine banner,

Using each day a hundred drachms of gold?

Lele, Yana, lele, darling daughter,

To whom will you present it, daughter dear?

 

Lele, mother, lele, darling mother,

I shall give it to this Gotsé Delchev.

He will unfurl it over Macedonia

And upon the Macedonian mountains.

    Folksong

 

 

Delchev voivoda has no dwelling -

His dwelling is a chilly cavern.

 

Delchev voivoda has no father -

His father is the Pirin mountain.

 

Delchev voivoda has no mother -

His mother is the Macedonian land.

    Folksong

 

This time there was a darkness about his going which augured ill. Even the unperturbable Gyorché was conscious of it. Never before had their parting kisses been so warm and so final, and on Gotsé's insistance, he and Nikola Maleshevsky had had their photographs taken with him. 'Doubtless he had a presentiment of his fate. It was connected with the superstition held by the old haramii voivodi that when a man with a gun begins to despair of it, he is going to certain death. This superstition was shared by our cheti, as well, and he himself had been affected by it.' [1]

 

The shadows of this presentiment were everywhere, impinging even upon so happy an occasion as Gotsé's visit to the young couple at whose wedding in Knyazhevo a few months earlier he and Yavorov had acted as witnesses. The bridegroom, Georgi Peev, had been active in the movement since he was a boy, and one of his duties was to supply Izgrev, an anti-Supremist paper published in Kyustendil, with news from Sofia. When the officiating priest asked the two witnesses what their professions were, in order to prepare the marriage certificate, Gotsé had answered 'teacher'. while Yavorov had jocularly asked to be described as a 'scoundrel1, one of the epithets much used by the Supremists. In January 1903, at Epiphany, Gotsé came to the Peevs' lodgings, early in the morning and outwardly all smiles, to say goodbye and to bring them a samovar as a delayed wedding present from himself and Yavorov. He explained that Yavorov, who was to accompany him to Macedonia, had left for Samakov in a hurry and had been unable to take leave of them. 'Peyo

 

 

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did not say goodbye to you,' Gotsé said, 'so maybe he'll come back; as for me, as you see, I came, and, if I don't come back, you won't be angry with me.' [2]

 

Yavorov indeed came back, but they never saw Gotsé again.

 

Before Gotsé finally left Sofia, there was a farewell supper at Yanka's home, at which she gave him a red banner, which she had embroidered for the forthcoming uprising. On one side was the figure of a girl, who symbolized Macedonia, and on the other - the lion emblem of Bulgaria. She also gave him a gold-embroidered waistcoat to protect him from the cold which so frequently provoked his stomach. Mihail Gerdzhikov, who was present at the supper, tried to dissuade him from going, but Gotsé was adamant in his resolve. The darkness, however, was still upon him, and he told Gerdzhikov: 'In case anything happens to me, in case they kill me, there are two things that I hold dear: my country and Yanka. Take care of them both, and if, some day, later on, some kind of feeling develops between you and her, you have my blessing.' [3]

 

Soon after, Gotsé left Sofia and travelled to Samokov at the foot of the Rila Mountains, where Yavorov was waiting for him, with a special gift of four poems, entitled Haidut Songs and dedicated to Gotsé. [4] From Samokov they went to Cham Koriya (Borovets) in the forests above the town, and there Gotsé inspected his cheta. A night journey took them to Govedartsi, some way to the west, and they spent a day and a night there. Then, early on January 10, on a cold bright morning, the whole company of some thirty men and six horses loaded with explosives set out for the pass of Demirkapiya where the frontier ran unguarded across the icy wastes of Rila. [5]

 

They followed the White Iskŭr up through evergreen forests of pine and fir, with the crisp snow crunching under their feet and sparkling like a sea of diamonds in the winter sunshine. Late in the afternoon, some seven thousand feet above sea level, they paused to rest and take refreshment below the ridge of Demirkapiya which formed the frontier with the Turkish Empire. While they were thus engaged, two figures appeared above them. They proved to be a man and his wife, refugees from the village of Belitsa, where Turkish soldiers were looting, torturing and raping as they searched for guns. The man's smashed nose and the teeth marks on the woman's face bore witness to the horrors from which they had fled, abandoning their children to the mercy of heaven. As Gotsé listened to their piteous tale, Yavorov noticed that there were tears in his eyes, and that his questions showed more concern about the sufferings of the people than about the material losses of the Organization. Gotsé had heard it all a thousand times, and still his heart could bleed over the tragedy of two amongst so many.

 

 

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... Merciful God! We are still withnessing the consequences of General Tsonchev's adventure - and we are planning to hurl the whole people into the same inferno! What have we done, and what, oh, what are we doing?…

 

They set the pathetic couple on the path to Samokov and continued upwards to the ridge. 'The firmament of the brief winter day stretched above us, calm in its infinite space and mysterious in its bottomless clarity. A multitude of white peaks raised their heads in a huddle, as though they wanted to peer further into that firmament and learn the secrets hidden in it. And there they were, rosy-flushed from their vain efforts, in the last rays of the sun, which elongated our shadows into caricatures... We reached the peak, and before our eyes there appeared the wide plain of Razloga, triangular and undulating with a thousand tiny hills. Enclosed on the south-west by Pirin, which reared itself threateningly before us, on the east by Dospat, pale in the western glow, and, below us, by mighty Rila, it reminded me of a sea frozen in a moment of turbulence. And a thin evening mist, reflecting both the black massif of Pirin and the wide breast of Rila, covered the whole picture with a darkly transparent cobweb veil. Pointing I said to Delchev, who was standing beside me: "Look, Macedonia is receiving us in mourning." [6] Gotsé replied: "We shall rend that veil. The sun shall shine, not just any sun but the sun of freedom." [7]

 

'For a long time we gazed into the distance, each wrapped in his own thoughts. I was calm and even gay, with the feeling of a man who had won some important wager... Delchev stood there gloomy and on edge, with the air of a man keeping a vigil by the deathbed of some beloved being.

 

'Our comrades were already ploughing down through the snow towards the Semkovo barracks, where that night we were to deputize for the Turkish soldiers. "Goodbye!" [*] I shouted towards Bulgaria, and took off my cap. "I shall not be seeing her," Delchev said, making a gesture of despair, without turning round. But as we descended after our comrades, who had gone ahead, no one thought that chance would force me to call the fortuitous little short of a presentiment of what was pre-ordained.' [8]

 

The descent was hard, but even when they reached the plain and set out for Bankso, the going was scarcely less arduous. In summer the land that lay between Rila, Pirin and the Rhodope was a Garden of Eden; in winter it was a glassy wilderness, 'a sleeping sea, which breathed in the darkness with a metallic gleam.' [9] In contrast to the mountains, the plain belonged to the Turks, and the cheta could travel neither by day, nor by the highroad. They went by secret ways,

 

 

*. The Bulgarian word for 'goodbye' literally means "until we see each other'.

 

 

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slipping and sliding over the ice, with 'the weird movements of phantoms or night exorcists'. [10] Early in the morning, exhausted by their exertions, and frozen to the bone, they arrived in Bansko and scattered to sleep in friendly houses, where, in expectation of the unusual visitors, the guest-room stoves had been stoked until the iron glowed

 

The next day, rested and thawed, Gotsé began a series of meetings with the local leaders. Yavorov, who had previously worked with him only in Sofia, was struck by the change that came over Gotsé as soon as he donned his rebel costume and crossed the frontier into the Ottoman Empire. Gone was the shabby habitue of the Hotel Batten-burg, with his prickly nerves and growing sense of impotence. In his place, there was a different being, calm and self-assured, whom the poet readily identified with the glorious chieftains of the folksongs: 'He was the voivoda who sends greetings to the forest, asking her to make deep shade and to prepare cool water for him - and the forest obeys. He was the voivoda who orders the pashas to keep the peace and do no mischief - and the pashas tremble. Above all, he was the voivoda who says that his mother is the Macedonian land and his family - his sworn companions, and that is enough for him...' [11]

 

But even for such a voivoda the situation was far from easy. Year after year, Gotsé himself had, as it were, been stockpiling dynamite and stoking the fires of revolution, and now a point had been reached at which spontaneous ignition was almost inevitable. As the Turks intensified their search for arms, the rank and file were beginning to say: 'Instead of dying one by one, village by village, why not rise all together, all at once, and - whatever God wills.' [12]

 

For several days, or rather, several nights, Gotsé conferred with those responsible for the work throughout the vale of Razloga, hearing their reports and outlining his plans for stepping up revolutionary activity in Macedonia without risking the blood-bath of a full-scale rising. 'Gotsé had unshakable faith in his own powers,' Yavorov commented, 'and he sought the same faith in his comrades, so as to transfer the weight of revolutionary work to fewer shoulders and to leave the people with the minimal burden of minimal co-operation. And in this way he wanted to sacrifice himself for the people and not the people for experiments of his own.' [13]

 

Curiously enough, most of Gotsé's orations were delivered from a kneeling position. At meetings he would usually sit on the floor, cross-legged, Turkish fashion, but when he became excited, or wished to emphasize a point, he would gain height by rising to his knees. Yavorov, who was present at the Bansko meeting, summarized the general tenor of Gotsé's words as follows:

 

' "We have behind us the example of the Armenians, and before us

 

 

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- the prospects opened up by the Austro-Russian agreement. It is, moreover, criminal to free a country by means of premeditated fire and slaughter. If we did that, we should be like the beggar who picks his scabs and makes them bleed and fester in order to force people to part with a few coins so as to escape from the revolting sight.

 

' "And practical considerations, as well, demand that we wage the struggle with the maximum economy of means and forces. There is no guarantee that, if we provoke the Turks to arrest and devastate, we shall necessarily also provoke intervention on the part of the Great Powers, neither is there any guarantee that, even if there is European intervention, we shall necessarily obtain something which would provide sufficient justification for such extreme sacrifice.

 

' "We have to begin with attacks by the cheti on army units, and also with the bombing by resolute lads of railway lines and government buildings as well. And let us continue thus, but always far from the Bulgarian population, which must not be exposed to Turkish reprisals and cruelties. The Bulgarians in Macedonia are carrying the weight of the revolution almost single-handed - and we need them so that the struggle can continue until we reach our final aim.

 

' "And let all Turkey be thrown into anarchy, let the Sultan's Empire be shaken to its foundations and let things become completely intolerable... And thus, in a word, let us force those who today, in the name of all kinds of interests, tremble over the barbarous status quo, to undertake, still in the name of these interests of theirs, a change towards a more humane order.

 

' "Of course, it would be different if we could have some war between Greece and Turkey, Serbia and Turkey, or, at long, last, Bulgaria and Turkey; but we would ill repay Bulgaria for all her sacrifices on our behalf, if we tried to drive her barefoot into the fire."

 

'Such was Gotsé's message,' Yavorov concludes, 'for it was love towards the people which alone guided him at every step of his stormy life. He wanted freedom for the Macedonian population and not for the Macedonian land. Gotsé, who would refuse to sentence even proven Turkish spies to death, could not expose tens of thousands of souls to the risk of massacre.' [14]

 

Another eye-witness of some of the meetings - Lazar Tomov, the son of Gotsé"s hosts, then a boy of seventeen - recalls how Gotsé also spoke of the final aim of the revolution as 'A free and independent Macedonia, with extensive rights for all poor people, for all nations, religions and languages,' and stressed that all nationalities,

 

 

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including the poorer Turks, must be drawn into the ranks of the Organization. He spoke, too, of the 'predatory appetites of the Balkan states and the Great Powers vis-a-vis the Sick Man, whose inheritance was there to be seized and looted,' and of the damage being caused by the Supremists. Quoting Levsky's famous expression of republicanism - if it's a tsar we're fighting for, then we've already got a Sultan' - Gotsé concluded: 'We must have freedom. Just as we rule by night, so also must we rule by day. And we shall succeed, or we shall perish to a man.' [15]

 

When Gotsé felt that he had been understood by the leaders of Razloga, the cheta left Bansko for the district of Nevrokop, following the course of the river Mesta. In other months this journey, too, could have been a pleasant one, for the river flows between Pirin and the Rhodope in a narrow valley of surpassing beauty, but, in January, the path - now wide enough for carts, now suitable only for goats - was rendered perillous by ice and snow. At one point where the path rose high above the river, a man lost his footing on the ice, fell into the dark abyss and was knocked unconscious. Gotsé left three men with one of the horses to look for him, while the rest of the band pressed on, and the man, though badly injured, was eventually rescued. He was the second casualty, for another man, crippled by cold, had been left behind in Razloga.

 

It took the cheta three nights to reach Nevrokop - three nights of hard walking in the coldest season of the year - and on their arrival they received news that froze their blood more cruelly than the winter wind: following Garvanov's return from Sofia, the Central Committee had sent letters to the revolutionary committees throughout Macedonia, informing them that, in accordance with the decisions of the Salonika Congress, a full-scale simultaneous rising would begin in May - and this in spite of the views expressed in Sofia. [16]

 

The news forced Gotsé to change his plans. Instead of carrying out systematic propaganda as he had done in Razloga, he decided to call a conference of the underground leaders of the Serres district to discuss the Salonika decision, and, in the meantime, he racked his brain for reasons which could have induced his comrades to take such a step and which would justify everything and soothe away the pain of doubt and disunity. But he could find no spark of comfort or reassu-

 

Some days later, the conference took place in Karaköy, a village in a mountain valley below the magnificent bare massif of Alibotush. [*] Unnoticed by the Turks, some seventy or eighty of the most wanted

 

 

*. Alibotush (over 7,(XK) ft high) is now called Slavyanka. It lies to the south of Pirin on the present Bulgarian-Greek frontier and is joined to Pirin by the Paril Saddle (c. 3,000 ft).

 

 

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men in the Serres region slipped into the village and vanished into houses eager to receive them. Yané Sandansky was there, soberly soigne' in a simple, well-fitting uniform, criss-crossed by the straps of his bandoleers and the three weapons which were his inseparable companions — revolver, dagger and yataghan. There, too, were the voivodi of the Demirhisar, Serres and Nevrokop cheti Dyado [*] Iliya Kŭrchovaliyata, Georgi Radev, Atanas Teshovaliyata - all of them former haramii, with swaggering gait, highly decorated clothing and a superfluity of knives and pistols. The Organization preferred to have educated men in charge of its cheti, but in an area where clashes with Supremist cheti were unfortunately frequent, there were obvious advantages in leaving these veteran fighters in charge. The agitational work was done by 'secretaries', who were usually teachers more skilled in words than war. This section was represented in Karaköy by such men as Dimitŭr Gushtanov, Mitso Kiriliev and Taskata Sersky, who would discuss points from a French anarchist pamphlet, while Gotsé taught a group of ordinary chetnitsi to handle bombs.

 

Many subjects were discussed at this unusual underground conference. The district leaders reported on the position in their areas, and all the reports boiled down to one and the same thing: a lack of arms. Another topic of discussion was the increasing friction between the former haramii and the intellectuals, both of whom tended to look down on each other and laugh at each other's mode of dress and behaviour. Gotsé did his best to smooth things over, urging the intellectuals to show more tact and the others - more sense. [**]

 

The main item on the agenda was, of course, the question of the rising, but since the Salonika decision was not yet common knowledge, it was discussed only by Gotsé, Yané, Yavorov and Gushtanov. Initially, Yane's company was not, perhaps, quite as consoling as Gotsé had hoped. The stern voivoda found much to criticize and did not hesitate to do so. 'You're being a bit previous with your rising, aren't you?' he began, as though blaming Gotsé for the decision. [17] Gotsé replied that there was little else they could do in view of Supremist pressure and the wishes of their own comrades, and therefore they could at least undertake terrorist activity. Yané was against this, too, because he feared that such activity would bring down the wrath of the Turks upon the heads of the population in exactly the same way as a rising would, thus making nonsense of all their efforts to combat Supremist cheti and propaganda. Yané also attacked Gotsé for not being sufficiently energetic in securing arms for the Serres

 

 

*. Dyado means ‘gradnfather’ and is used as a title of respect to an older man.

 

**. One of the causes of friction was lack of clarity on the division of authority between the local leadres and the cheti.

 

 

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The meeting between the four was far from smooth. At the beginning, Gotsé and Yavorov argued against a rising and in favour of terrorism, while Yané and Gushtanov argued against terrorism and, according to Yavorov, were hesitant [18] about the rising. In the end, Gotsé's counsel prevailed, and all agreed to oppose the Central Committee's decision and to undertake a systematic programme of dynamiting selected targets, after Yane had stipulated that the dynamiting be done by the cheti and be confined to railway bridges and tunnels as far as possible from Bulgarian villages in order to lessen the danger of Turkish reprisals. [19] Gotsé promised to carry out a demonstration bombing, and they agreed to wait until the final opinion of the Sofia comrades was known before coming into the open. In the meantime, they would encourage the district leaders to act according to the spirit of their decision, without explicitly revealing the real situation. [20] Yavorov was given the task of editing for mass distribution to the population a weekly broadsheet which would reflect their standpoint.

 

Few of the chetnitsi had had experience with explosives, so the whole company left Karaköy under cover of darkness for Alibotush, in whose limestone caves they could train to their hearts' content without fear of discovery.

 

The cheti spent about a week in Alibotush, camping in the large cave known as Kapé, which Gotsé had once before used as a hideout, during the abortive kidnapping of the rich Greek from Shilinos. The main chamber of the cave was sixty feet long, twenty feet wide and thirty feet high, but it also had a number of side chambers of various sizes, in which the cheti installed themselves and built fires. The cave even contained a tiny chapel, complete with ikons and an altar made of rock. It was dedicated to Sveti Spas - Saint Saviour - and was a place of annual pilgrimage for the surrounding villages. Now, however, the insulation provided by its solid wooden door at the top of some rough-hewn steps made it the ideal place for storing bombs and dynamite well away from sparks and cigarette ends.

 

Alibotush was a mountain with few springs, but in one corner of the cave there was a constant trickle of good water, which, if collected in buckets, was sufficient to satisfy the needs of the eighty men. There was also something better to drink, for great skins of red wine from the village of Krushovo had been carried up to the cave, together with large quantities of bread and cheese, and four fine oxen, which had been stolen from wealthy Turks. In order to avoid unseemly drunkeness, the wine was distributed in moderate amounts at meal times only, but it was enough to create a holiday atmosphere which was further emphasized by a decision to send for a photographer to immortalize the occasion.

 

 

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Yavorov and Kiriliev had remained behind in Karaköy to await supplies of printing materials which had been ordered from nearby towns for the projected broadsheet, but, after three days, Gotsé summoned Yavorov to Kape' for new discussions. The Central Committee had sent a second letter in which they requested him not to undertake any actions in Macedonia before the beginning of May. Only in Thrace, in the Lozengrad district, was one train to be blown up as an experiment. To add insult to injury, they had invited Gotsé - as one well acquainted with the position in the whole country - to take part in working out plans for a general uprising. Letters had also been sent to the district committees urging them to maximum military preparedness.

 

Yavorov ascended the mountain in bright moonlight, and only just in time, for next morning snow was falling fast and was drifting into the cave. This sudden change in the weather caused little dismay, since there was still plenty of good meat and wine, so, instead of shivering by the fires, the men danced to restore their circulation, till the cave echoed with song and the skirl of pipes.

 

The initial brisk rŭchenitsa [*] was followed by other dances, including a slow warriors' dance performed by some lads from Kastoria, who waved their naked knives as they sang a Greek song about Ali Pasha, the rebel lord of Yanina. Then, inspired by the dancers' martial gestures, some of the men took to wrestling, and the day passed in singing, dancing, games, feasting and talk.

 

Gotsé took part in these amusements as he always did, but Yavorov noticed that his real mood was one of pensiveness. Knowing things that the others did not know, and oppressed by this knowledge and by his own responsibility, Gotsé could not wholly enter into the spirit of the company. He was also suffering from bouts of stomach trouble, brought on, no doubt, by mental stress, unsuitable food and the cold, and most of the time he sat by the fire with his hands pressed to his waist and his eyes watering from the smoke.

 

The inhabitants of the cave received the Sofia newspapers, [21] albeit with some delay, and were already acquainted with the Austro-Russian reforms published on February 8, 1903. They were not much impressed by the reforms, which boiled down to little more than the appointment of Bulgarians, instead of Turks or Albanians, as watchmen {pŭdari) in Christian villages, but, as Gotsé pointed out, at least the Great Powers were being forced to consider the Macedonian problem, and this offered hope for the future.

 

He and Yavorov discussed the new developments, but could see no reason to revise the conclusions reached in Karaköy, and it was

 

 

*. A fast dance in 7/16 time, usually danced in pairs.

 

 

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decided to ignore the Central Committee's instructions and to go ahead with the plans for dynamiting a railway.

 

The instruction in the handling of explosives had been completed before Yavorov's arrival, and there was now no pressing reason why they should remain in the cave. Indeed, Dyado Iliya Kŭrchovaliyata was anxious that they should disperse before the Turkish garrison in Krushovo became aware of their presence. He also wanted to get Gotsé out of the cave and down into his own village of Kŭrchovo, where there was an old woman, skilled in herbs, who had once managed to settle Gotsé's stomach.

 

Gotsé, however, decided that they should stay in the cave at least until their food supplies were exhausted. 'He regarded as particularly beneficial this close contact between the assembled motley company with such varying intellectual and moral standards. Townsfolk and villagers, extreme idealists and desperate cut-throats - sharp stones carried along by the common flood - all of them needing to have their rough edges rubbed away, so that they could cleave more closely to each other. [22]

 

Bringing people together - this was Gotsé's greatest pleasure, and the scene soothed his pains, both those in his stomach and those in his soul, more than any drugs and potions could have done. For another day and another night, he watched his comrades as they danced, sang, joked, chatted and slept, warmed by the fires and the last of the wine. Yavorov noticed that no one talked of the struggle and of what lay ahead. It was as though they all needed the mental respite of that extra day in Kapé.

 

On February 6 (February 18 new style), the cheti left the cave and dispersed. Yavorov accompanied Gotsé to Kurchovo, and then went off to another village to work on the broadsheet, while Gotsé roamed the banks of the Struma, looking for a suitable bridge to dynamite.

 

Some ten days later they met again, this time on the cliffs above Kŭrchovo, where Gotsé and his cheta were resting in a derelict hut once used by goatherds. Although the morning was wet and windy, spring was on the way, and, when Yavorov arrived, he found Gotsé with a bunch of wild snowdrops in his hand. Gotsé had already seen the first two issues of the broadsheet, and now he handed the flowers to Yavorov, saying: 'These are for the newspaper.'

 

All Gotsé's customary charm and sweetness were present in this touching tribute to the writer, but in other respects Yavorov found him sadly changed. 'His lacklustre eyes and drawn face bore witness to his twofold suffering. A chronic stomach disorder, brought on by the present rigours of cheta life, had attacked him with particular severity, and was breaking him physically, while the affairs of the Organization, which were going against his most cherished ideas,

 

 

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were shattering his soul as well.' [23]

 

Gotsé had called Yavorov to his mountain hide-out, not primarily to congratulate him on his work as an editor, but in order to show him the latest letter from Sofia. During the morning, the bad weather had kept them all in the hut, but in the afternoon, it cleared up, and Gotsé and Yavorov were able to sit out in the sun and consider the letter in privacy. The gist of it was that - willy-nilly - the comrades there had felt obliged to approve the Salonika decisions, because Garvanov had succeeded in presenting them with a fait-accompli and there was no going back.

 

As Gotsé read the letter once again, this time aloud for Yavorov's benefit, the poet saw two tears fall onto the page. Gotsé could seldom hide his feelings, and now it was clear that he had reached the ultimate hell of despair and isolation. This isolation was more imagined than real, for he still wielded immense power in the Organization. The cheti were his, so was the rank-and-file in town and village. Wherever he led, they would follow. A different man in Gotsé's place might have used his unique charisma to seize control of the Organization and impose his views upon it. But Gotsé had always been too modest to see himself as others saw him; he was not born for coups d'etat or for dictatorship, and, even now, he could not and would not carry his opposition beyond a certain point.

 

'Everyone must decide the question for himself,' he said to Yavorov, 'as for me, I am not going to oppose, neither am I going to carry out any Congress decision. Wherever I happen to be when we rise, there I will rise in my own way: without the direct participation of the population. Nevertheless, I shall go to Salonika, to hear those people at close quarters. Perhaps...' [24]

 

Gotsé left the sentence unfinished, and lapsed into silence, so that Yavorov could not be sure whether he was questioning the correctness of his own policy, or expressing some faint feeling of hope. If it was hope, then it was a very faint hope indeed, for, at the end of the day, Gotsé's head was still bowed in perplexity and pain, and, in the golden glow of the sunset, his face was deathly white. 'I saw the soul of this man - a soul tempered in the storms of life - I saw it writhing like a scorched snake.' [25]

 

When the chill of evening drove them back to the hut, they continued their discussions by the fire. They talked all night and all the next day, going round and round in circles, covering the same ground over and over again and reaching the same tormenting conclusions every time.

 

Soon Yavorov had to return to his newspaper, and when he went into the hut to say goodbye to Gotsé, he found him prostrate with stomach pains and fever.

 

 

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'Are you going?' Gotsé asked. Then take these documents about the rising, for if they remain with me, they'll get lost.' [26]

 

In vain Yavorov argued that the two of them were equally at risk: Gotsé had heard the hoof-beats of the pale horse of the Apocalypse and was preparing to meet its rider. [27]

 

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NOTES

 

1. Memoirs of Gyorché Petrov. Gotsé Delchev vo spomenite, p. 277.

 

2. Memoirs of Georgi Peev. Za Gotsé Delchev i Yavorov. Mir 6 x, 1934.

 

3. Magda Gerdzhikova heard this story from her father, Mihail Gerdzhikov. After Gotsé’s death, Gerdzhikov indeed took care of Yanka; they worked together in the Organization, and eventually she becane his wife.

 

Yanka died of tuberculosis in Plovdiv on March 3 1920 – the anniversary of the Treaty of San Stefano and the liberation of Bulgaria from the Turks.

 

4. See the memoirs of Yonko Vaptsarov: Pencho Slaveikov, P. K. Yavorov, P. Y. Todorov v spomenite na sŭvremennitsité si. 1963, p. 316.

 

5. The dates and route are given in Yavorov’s shorthand diary, quoted in P. K. Yavorov by Ganka Naidenova-Stoilova. 1959, p. 161, and in Yavorov, Opus cit. p. 12.

 

6. Yavorov, p. 13-14.

 

7. Yavorov’s shorthand diary, quoted in Naidenova-Stoilova, Opus cit. p. 163.

 

8. Yavorov, p. 14-15.

 

9. Ibid., p. 69.

 

10. Ibid.

 

11. Ibid, pp. 211-212.

 

12. Ibid., p. 70.

 

13. Ibid, p. 215

 

14. Ibid, pp. 213-214.

 

15. Makedonsko delo, Year 3, 1928 (Gotsév broi), p. 10-11.

 

16. Copies were also sent to the two Supreme Committees. The letters gave warning that no outside interference would be tolerated before the rising actually began, but said that once it had begun all fighters would be welcomed with open arms. The text of the letter can be found in Yavorov, pp. 216-217, and Silyanov, Osv. borbi, pp 207-208. No date is mentioned in the letter, which merely speaks of 'the near future, this year', but Yavorov specifies May, so presumably this information was supplied separately. From Boris Saratov's memoirs (Materiali... Vol V, p. 77) it appears that Garvanov specified May during or soon after his visit to Sofia.

 

17. Memoirs of Yané Sandansky. Materiali... Vol VII, p. 37.

 

18. The word 'hesitant', used in Yavorov's shorthand diary (see Yavorov, p. 80-81) seems to contradict Yané's own statements about his attitude. This 'hesitation' at the meeting could have been the result of his estimate of a situation in which, willy-nilly, a rising was becoming increasingly inevitable, and in which he considered that terrorism was no real alternative.

 

19. Memoirs of Yané Sandansky. Materiali... Vol VII, p. 38.

 

20. Yavorov, p. 81.

 

 

345

 

21. See Bazhdarov. Sbornik Ilinden. 1903-1926, p. 31.

 

22. Yavorov, p. 86.

 

23. Ibid, pp 89-90

 

24. Ibid. p. 90. In his shorthand diary, Yavorov noted 'He wanted to get round the Congress decision, instead of opposing it clearly and categorically' (Naidenova-Stoilova, p. 170).

 

25. Ibid., p. 91.

 

26. Ibid.

 

27. Revelations, Chapter 6, verse 8. The rider is Death, followed by Hell.