Freedom or Death. The Life of Gotsé Delchev

Mercia MacDermott



A useless friend is, in fact, a foe.

    (Bulgarian saying)


Brother does not feed brother, yet it goes hard

with him that has none.

    (Bulgarian saying)


In the years ahead, the term 'supremist' was to acquire sinister and hostile connotations for the Internal Organization, but in 1895 that time was still in the distant future, and relations between the Supreme Committee and the leaders of the Internal Organization seemed cordial enough, if not really close.


Right from the very beginning, however, one can discern the attitudes which eventually erupted into open internecine strife. By calling themselves the Supreme Committee, by excluding delegates from inside the Turkish Empire from their congresses, and by the tone of the letter in which they informed the Internal Organization of the decisions taken, the emigrés in Sofia made it clear that they regarded themselves as the General Staff of the Macedonian movement, and expected the Internal Organization to act as their subordinates and in an auxiliary role. [*]


The Supreme Committee's letter, consisting of eight sides of closely written foolscap, gives a detailed, informative account of the proceedings of the Congress and the decisions taken. It neither asks the Internal Organization's opinion, nor seeks its co-operation in future action, but seems to assume that, on being informed, the Internal Organization will unquestioningly fall into line with its policy. This was based on the premise that since the Macedonian question was created by diplomacy, it could be solved only through diplomacy. Thus, in the last analysis, all military and revolutionary activity was to be subordinated to diplomacy. The people in Macedonia must protest so that Europe would 'see in us not mere defenceless slaves, to whom life has become so hateful that they voluntarily submit to the enemy's sword, but, on the contrary, heroes worthy of the freedom which they seek.' The protests also had to be sufficiently widespread for Europe to realize that they were not the work of subversive minorities which any government had the right to suppress... and so on. In other words, the task of their organization - and they clearly regarded the Internal Organization as an integral, if secondary, part of the whole - was to act as a means for putting pressure on the Turkish and European governments. Its purpose was to engage the attention of Euro-



*. Roughly the same problem, but in a much less acute form, had arisen earlier in Levsky's organization, when the Bulgarian emigrés in Bucharest had attempted to set themselves above the revolutionaries working in Bulgaria itself.





pean diplomacy, and to act as a lever for securing action. According to the Supreme Committee, the population in Macedonia should protest loud and long and show its strength, so that European diplomacy would be sufficiently alarmed and impressed to take steps to avoid a new conflagration in the Balkans. [1]


The basic assumptions of this letter were unacceptable to the members of the Internal Organization. They did not recognize the Supreme Committee's authority, neither did they subscribe to its tactics. They had their own programme and intended sticking to it, and the essential, underlying principle of this programme was that the Organization must be internal and autonomous in character.


Nevertheless, it would have been foolish to cut themselves off entirely from people who were in a position to help them, and therefore the Central Committee of the Internal Organization replied with a civil letter, expressing their regret at the split between the Supreme Committee and the officers, which they felt would adversely affect the morale and capabilities of the movement, especially since it came at a time when the Internal Organization was in urgent need of arms and other material aid. They ignored the Supreme Committee's proposal for joint action under the latter's leadership, and merely said that in spite of the difficulties engendered by the split, they would continue to prepare the people in the spirit of their (the I.O.'s) accepted programme and would work with all who shared their views, and they concluded their letter 'with fraternal greetings'. [2] In order to stress this readiness to co-operate with anyone going their way, the Central Committee sent a copy of the letter to the break-away Macedonian Committee of Tyufekchiev, for its information.


The letter was signed by Dr Tatarchev and Damé Gruev in their respective capacities as Chairman and Secretary of the Central Committee, but for reasons of security, they used the pseudonyms A. Svetomirov and Brayan Mitrev. The whole tone of the letter reflects Damés special strength as a leader: his ability to remain calm under provocation, to be sweet and reasonable when others were not, and to make the best of every situation, without cherishing false hopes or deviating from the path of principle.


By now, Damé had left Shtip to become inspector of village schools in the Salonika area, a job which offered ideal conditions for revolutionary activity. [3] On the one hand, he was based in Salonika and was able to revive the Central Committee, which had been more or less inactive during the year which he had spent in Shtip. On the other, he was able to travel round the area with a perfect alibi, founding and encouraging committees wherever he went. To assist in this work, he and his comrades began to issue a hectographed broadsheet, which they distributed throughout the region.





Tushé Deliivanov had also left Shtip to spread the word elsewhere, and after the departure of his two friends, Gotsé stayed on as head teacher, and chief apostle.


He spent the summer holidays of 1895 travelling about on revolutionary business, and, in particular, cultivating the company of Italian workmen in Salonika in order to learn about explosives. They held him in much affection, and he was always a welcome visitor at the café where they foregathered. Once when he arrived, a violent quarrel was in progress, and fighting had broken out. Gotsé, who could never bear to see people quarrelling, tried to divert them by shouting 'Viva Garibaldi! Viva Mazzini!' The ruse worked: 'Viva Giorgio!' came the reply, and the fight was forgotten as the boisterous Italians greeted Gotsé by lifting him off his feet. [4]


As head teacher, Gotsé was also district inspector of schools, and was not required to do any actual teaching. He spent the school year 1895-96 inspecting and consolidating both the educational system of the Shtip area and the Organization's secret routes to and from the Principality. Day and night Gotsé was on the move - tireless, persuasive, encouraging. No detail was too small for his attention, no task too daunting for him to undertake. He went everywhere, met everybody, saw to everything, and one of those who observed him at work jokingly called him Ahil (Achilles) the Fleet-footed. The nickname stuck, and it became Gotsé"s official nom-de-guerre. The earliest surviving letter in which Gotsé signed himself 'Ahil' is dated January 2, 1896 and was written to Nikola Zografov, [5] the Organization's chief of 'posts' and 'transport' in Kyustendil, a town close to the frontier in the Principality.


Kyustendil was one of the most important staging posts on the Organization's supply routes. In 1895, Efrem Karanov, a native of Kratovo, became Chairman of the local Macedonian Society, and on October 17, 1895, Gotsé wrote to him as follows:


'There is no more holy, nor at the same time, more delicate duty than that which you have undertaken. I refer to the chairmanship of the Kyustendil Society. It is holy because you have been placed in the leadership of a Society whose aim is holy: to liberate millions of people from the claws of tyranny; to set to rights the fate of so many wretched souls. It is also delicate because one little mistake, one insignificant action insufficiently considered, can lead to imprisonment in damp dungeons, to the gallows, and to the useless shedding of fresh young blood, and so forth. Few are those who burden themselves with a duty as onerous as this, and, indeed, not everyone is capable of shouldering it, because it concerns the deliverance or the even greater misfortune of an entire people. The greater the recognition that this duty brings to him who carries it out conscientiously, thoughtfully and





sensibly, the more numerous are the curses of the people earned by him who looks lightly upon any one undertaking connected with this aim. Thanks to its geographical position, the Kyustendil committee could do more for the achievement of this aim than all the committees in Bulgaria put together. The Kyustendil committee is like a ship which others follow and whose job, as the one nearest to the shore, is to seek a safe route so that all the ships can reach the shore. But the closer one is to the shore, the more dangerous it becomes, because the route is unknown and there is the danger of striking a rock and of being smashed into a thousand pieces. Here, already, it will depend on the experience and wise direction of the captain. I am far from stating whether or not you are worthy to command the ship in question, because I do not know you personally, neither am I informed about your work. Do not, however, be surprised that I should take the liberty of writing to you, without our being acquainted. Do not be in the least surprised, because, further on, you yourself will understand what has made me write to you.'


The circumstances which had impelled Gotsé to write to Karanov concerned an attempt on the part of a young man to organize a rising in the Vinitsa area. His name was Alexander Chakŭrov, and his adventurous nature had taken him as far as Africa, where for a time he had served with the French Foreign Legion. On his return to Macedonia, he became a teacher in Vinitsa, but evidently the Legion had gone to his head, because, during the summer of 1895, without consulting the committee in Vinitsa, he had written to Dimitŭr Rizov [6] in Kyustendil, asking him to tell the Macedonian Committee in Sofia that he was ready to lead a rising and wanted to be sent 200 rifles. [7] During the autumn, Chakurov was in Sofia, where he collected a cheta of forty men, presumably with the help of the emigres. He crossed into Macedonia and appeared in Vinitsa, resplendent in a lieutenant's uniform. The local revolutionaries, however, very sensibly refused to join him in what they considered to be a feather-brained enterprise, and he returned to Kyustendil, breathing threats against Georgi Ivanov, a local committee man, who had led the opposition. In his letter to Karanov, Gotsé stresses the futility of such enterprises:


'A few weeks ago, Mr Chakurov appeared in Vinitsa in officer's uniform (rank of lieutenant) with the intention of proclaiming an internal rising. A noble intention! There is no more sovereign remedy than that proposed by Mr Chakŭrov. The liberation of Macedonia lies in an internal rising. Anyone who thinks that Macedonia can otherwise be freed is deceiving himself and others. But who are they who will rise in rebellion now? Mr Chakŭrov? If a rising could be organized by between one and forty persons, Macedonia would have been a free state long ago. But because this is impossible, and people





are needed, what is to be done? This people must be roused from the five-century-old sleep that has made the Macedonian rather thick on the subject of human rights. And, if not the whole people, then at least part of it; and then, instead of Mr Chakŭrov looking for forty men, four hundred would be looking for him, to put themselves under his banner. If this doesn't happen, and a rising is proclaimed, it will be tragic for the people, and woe betide the person responsible. It is tragic because the youngest forces will be lost to no purpose (some in prison, others on the gallows), innocent Macedonian women will be abandoned to the bestial and cruel passions of savages, and, finally, children of five and old men of seventy will be abandoned to the yataghans of Asiatics, and for all this the person responsible will be answerable to his own conscience, and to the people and to history. Is the Kyustendil Committee of the same mind as Chakŭrov? I am addressing myself to you as well, because, according to Chakurov's statements, he was sent by your committee (and, in addition, he told other people that he was sent by the chief one). [*] He came over to proclaim a rising - and with whom, and with what?! With 30 guns, seven bombs, and three boxes of dynamite! Did his Lordship - in the event of his finding 40 people and carrying out his task - think about the consequences? Did those who sent him foresee that they would be spattered, if not drowned, in the blood of their enslaved brothers? What kind of witticism is this? What kind of idea for liberation? One man with forty people to proclaim a rising!... What kind of a plan is this? Can it be that some Bulgarian Odysseus has been born? Or are we to deceive one another, to deceive the ordinary people until they despair and lose the people's confidence? Did His Grace believe his own words, what he said verbally and in letters to G. Ivanov: "I'll raise an internal rebellion, and as soon as the banner is unfurled, then Russia, O glorious Russia, will fly into Macedonia on the spot, and there you are - we're free"??!! Is that what he thinks, is that what you think and finally, is that how we have to educated the rebels? If you feed rebels with such empty hopes, then you must realize that even the most outstanding hero will at times fall into utter despair. No, lies don't help at all - especially not this one. Try to root out this weakness (this waiting for help from the Russian tyrant) from even the most deluded coward, then in its place the unconquerable power of self-reliance and resolve will be reborn, and then, believe me, every single person will fight to the finish with the greatest eagerness. Work, work, gentlemen, only let it be a little more in line with common


For Gotsé, 'the most important and most reprehensible' aspect of the whole affair was the fact that when Chakŭrov withdrew discom-



*. i.e. by the Macedonian Committee in Sofia.





forted, he took his thirty guns, seven bombs and three boxes of dynamite back to the Principality instead of leaving them for the use of the Internal Organization. Pleading that he cannot write at length, because he is very tired, Gotsé summed up the situation as follows:


'In Macedonia systematic agitation for a general internal rising is in progress; it has reached considerable proportions, and there is not a corner of Macedonia which has not been drawn in. The population is preparing for a rising in the near future, and therefore it is the duty of every single patriot to help as much as possible, and even more is it the duty of the committees having this aim, especially the one in Kyustendil, which could help in everything. Don't imagine that, because Chakŭrov couldn't raise a revolt in the Kochani district, there aren't any people. The stumbling block to his carrying out his task was our committee, which convinced Georgi not to agree with Chakurov, because, otherwise, it would have greatly interfered with the general rising. There are plenty of people, but, unfortunately, we suffer from an absence of the most vital thing for a rising: we are without weapons and, if you want to help us, help us in this matter, send us as many weapons as possible. I have written to the head committee as well, but I've not had an answer from them. Everyone is shouting: a gun, a gun, and again a gun.' [8]


Gotsé went on to ask Karanov for at least five hundred guns, giving instructions for their delivery to a house on the Bulgarian side from which the Organization would collect them for transport across the frontier. He also gave instructions for the forwarding of parcels containing newspapers and revolutionary books intended for the interior.


In spite of Gotsé's self-confessed exhaustion, this letter is one of the longest that he ever wrote. He knew that Karanov would almost certainly show it to the Committee in Sofia and that he was therefore addressing an audience of even greater importance than the Chairman of the Kyustendil Committee. The letter is remarkable not only for its unequivocal statement of policy, but also for its revelation of Gotsé's stature as a leader. He was still only twenty-four, and yet he was presuming to counsel men much older than himself, and, indirectly, Ministers and even Royalty. It may be said that there is nothing odd in this, since he was of an age associated with over-self-confidence and strongly held ideas. In Gotsé"s case, however, the roles were strangely reversed. It was the young revolutionary who displayed maturity of judgement and an overriding sense of public responsibility, while older men and statesmen, who might have been expected to possess these qualities, were acting with reckless haste and insufficient regard for the total consequences of their actions.


Adamant on matters of principle, yet always holding out the hand of friendship, Gotsé steered a confident course through the daunting





labyrinths of political intrigue and romantic illusion. He was not taken in by the 'patriotism' of the nouveau-riche Bulgarian capitalists whose business transactions orientated them towards one or other of the great imperialist powers, and whose interest in the liberation of Macedonia stemmed in part at least from the possibilities which it offered for big-time economic expansion. He could not be tempted, as many of his brother officers were, by the lure of the swashbuckling cheti, which created a commotion, provided a chance of seeing real 'action', and achieved nothing positive. He refused to fall in with the policies of governments who used the people of Macedonia as cards in an international game of poker, but who, in the last analysis were opposed to a general popular uprising over which they would have no control. Above all, he would not allow his people to be used as a catspaw by Ferdinand, the scheming alien Prince, who filled his hunting lodge with pictures of Versailles, and harboured ambitions of becoming a Balkan Roi-Soleil, a second Tsar-Liberator, or a latter-day Emperor of Byzantium.


As a Socialist educated in the Marxist school, Gotsé had no intention of serving the interests of capitalists and princes - even if they were Bulgarian. As a Socialist, he knew that revolution requires the conscious participation of the masses, and that, until the masses were organized and politically educated, there could be no revolution - no matter how many cheti came in from outside, no matter how urgent it was for the Government to put pressure on other governments. This was something which Levsky had understood intuitively, something which the Macedonian revolutionaries had inherited from his organization, but, in their case, the principle had been doubly impressed upon them through their study of Marxism, and it formed the basis of their entire strategy and tactics. Gotsé"s lack of faith in Russian intervention was also the result of his Socialist schooling under the influence of Dimitŭr Blagoev. It was certainly true that the ordinary people in Bulgaria regarded the Russians as saviours and protectors, and that the Russian soldiers, for their part, had fought all the more bravely against the Turks because they genuinely wanted to liberate their brothers, but the Socialists had no illusions about the character of the Tsarist Government. They knew that an autocracy which cared so little for the welfare of its own people would not fly to Macedonia's aid unless it was to its own undoubted advantage, which, in the current international situation, it clearly was not.


Yet while Gotsé saw all the dangers and vanity of relying on external aid, he was also well aware that, without some form of controlled assistance from free Bulgaria, the task of the Internal Organization would be very difficult indeed. They needed books and newspapers to prepare the people psychologically, to give them the necessary





theoretical understanding which would stand them in good stead in times of perplexity and trial. [9] They needed weapons, both to distribute as a morale-raiser and to stockpile against the eventual revolution, and they needed more money than they could ever hope to collect from their own members. As an organization based on the Bulgarian population of Macedonia, they could expect no encouragement from Serbia or Greece, and it was natural for them to turn to their brothers in the Bulgarian Principality, who both desired the liberation of Macedonia and were in a position to provide the wherewithal. The problem was to obtain the right kind of aid, and, at the same time, to avoid disastrous interference from those whose interest in Macedonia was not entirely altruistic, or whose understanding of revolution was so limited that they did more harm than good.


Gotsé's generous and optimistic nature always led him to assume that the people with whom he came in contact were honest, reasonable and sincere until proved otherwise, and it was in this spirit that he approached those in the Principality who could help the organization, be they simple patriots or sophisticated politicians.


Early in February 1896, Gotsé came to Sofia to discuss the question of aid with General Nikolaev, the new Chairman of the Supreme Committee. The General came from a family which had emigrated to Bessarabia, and he had had an impressive military career. He had first seen action in the Serbo-Turkish war of 1876, and had commanded a regiment of Bulgarian volunteers during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. He had participated in the reunification of Eastern Rumelia with the Principality, and had been one of those who commanded the young Bulgarian Army during the brilliant victory over the Serbs at Slivnitsa in 1885. A measure of the General's official standing in Bulgaria was the fact that, after heading the Supreme Committee for a year or two, he was appointed Minister of War in 1897, a post he was to hold again in 1907-1911.


The General was not inclined to take the young man seriously. Like most military men, he had a poor opinion of the capabilities of civilians, and he regarded the Organization's plans for a purely internal uprising as 'kids' stuff. A revolution based on peasants? Ridiculous! If a revolution were needed - and he was by no means convinced that it was - then the Supreme Committee could easily collect twenty or thirty thousand experienced reservists and send them into the interior. The role of the Internal Organization was to frighten official circles in the Principality and elsewhere into taking diplomatic action. [10] This being the case, the General was prepared to supply the items which Gotsé requested, but on certain conditions: the Supreme Committee must be the sole representative of the Organization outside the Turkish Empire, and must also have the decisive voice in determining





when there should be a rising in Macedonia.


These conditions were, of course, totally unacceptable to Gotsé. The autonomy of the Internal Organization was a cardinal principle of its policy, and was, at one and the same time, its guarantee of ultimate success and its safeguard against bad faith and irresponsibility. The Organization could not surrender its sovereignty to a committee whose composition was subject to annual change and whose policies might consequently suffer from lack of continuity. Neither could the Organization allow anyone but itself to judge the appropriate moment for an uprising, lest ill-considered, premature adventures, like those of 1895, plunge the population into a futile bloodbath.


All this Gotsé explained to Nikolaev, but the General continued to treat him as an impertinent schoolboy meddling in adult affairs. His condescending manner stung Gotsé on the raw, and he lost his temper. The two men parted abruptly, with Gotsé spitting like an angry cat. When he had calmed down a little, he went to see Nikolaev's Vice-Chairman, Yosif Kovachev, [11] but with no better results. Later in an undated letter, he confided his impressions to Nikola Zografov:


'You led me to have great hopes of the Supreme Committee, but, shall I tell you, brother, that committee made such an impression upon me, and had such a powerful chilling effect upon me, that I'm not worrying about whether they'll help, but, rather, I'm fearful lest they inflict some major damage on the cause. That there are people who think like us (not completely - there's an appreciable difference) - of that I am personally convinced, but 'the fish stinks from the head down', and it's the same with the Supreme Committee. As long as it's led by megalomaniac gourds [*] (the General), and has as its Vice-Chairman Kovachev and Co., who's already gone daft from senility, it won't take the necessary line of action, and will be supreme only in name. There's hope if the young direct the above types, but this can happen only if the young are young in heart and not merely in years.


'You write that the Supreme Committee is going to supply 1000 revolvers and daggers, and when it is convinced of their safety, it will set about supplying rifles. This is senseless, if nothing else, and it's all the more reprehensible as a decision made under the chairmanship of a general skilled in the art of war. Surely his Lordship knows what call there is for revolvers in a rising? Yes, this weapon is needed, but not in such quantities - up to 200 at the most - and for arming the police at that, and not for the insurgents. The money for 1000 revolvers would have been enough to buy 500 rifles, and carbine Manlichers into the bargain. Or have they endless funds at their disposal, so that money thrown away counts for nothing? You will say, or they



*. Gotsé used the word leika, which means a dried, empty gourd used as a watering-can.





will say, perhaps, that we must convince them as to whether they will be looked after. In reply to this, let them know that it won't be the first time we've transported guns, neither have we been waiting to get them only from there, but that we have been getting them ourselves from the interior.' [12]


Disillusioned with the leaders of the Supreme Committee, Gotsé turned to the breakaway officers' committee, and had some rather more satisfactory discussions with their leader Tyufekchiev. The problem here, however, was that the officers, unlike the Supreme Committee, had no funds, and although Tyufekchiev, being an arms dealer by profession, was both willing and able to supply the Internal Organization with certain items - in particular bombs and dynamite - it would be necessary for the Organization to raise the money itself, and to this Gotsé agreed.


He left Sofia for Macedonia on February 12, 1896, and his nightmare journey back has been described by his friend, Dimitŭr Atanasov: [13] 'That day, early in the morning, in appallingly cold weather, we set out from Sofia in a carriage, full of the things we had bought, intending to reach Kyustendil by evening. When we had only got as far as Vladaya, [*] it began to snow heavily, and after a few hours the new snow, together with the old, formed a thick layer, and not only was it difficult to travel, but it was even hard to make out where the road was. Our misery became even greater, however, when Gotsé Delchev began to have pains in his stomach. The pains were so dreadful that he kept crying and doubling up like a child. I wrapped him well, and even offered him my coat, which he refused, lest I caught cold as well. In Radomir I tried to persuade Delchev to stop there overnight, so that his pains could pass, but the tough and resolute apostle would not hear of it, and insisted on our continuing our journey to Kyustendil, where people notified of our coming were waiting for us. Between Radomir and Kyustendil, his condition deteriorated still further, and, on top of that, it went on snowing just as heavily, and with the approach of evening the cold became even more intense. After great and prolonged suffering on Gotsé Delchev's part, we reached Kyustendil when it was already dark. Outside the town, we were met by a person to whom Delchev introduced me. His name was Nikola Zografov. We installed ourselves in a hotel, in a good room that was comfortable and warm, and, after an hour or two's rest, Delchev became quite chirpy... After two days' stay in Kyustendil, we parted. Delchev set out with his material for Macedonia in the very coldest of weathers, while I went to Dupnitsa.' [14]


In March 1896, Damé Gruev went to Sofia and attended a meeting



*. Vladaya is a village in the pass between Vitosha and Lyulin, a few miles from Sofia.





of the Supreme Committee at which the relations between the two organizations were discussed. Damé had stronger nerves and greater control over his feelings than Gotsé, and he was, therefore, able to listen to the Supremist leaders without exploding. He heard them out, smiling sarcastically the while. His attitude of detached amusement riled Nikolaev and Kovachev even more than Gotsés exasperated outbursts, and they simply could not abide him. [16] Right from the very beginning, Damé had put Nikolaev's back up by walking in and greeting him - too unceremoniously for the General's liking - with the ironic inquiry: 'Well, Mr General, and how is your supremism going?' [17] After that, the very thought of that 'guttersnipe Gruev' was enough to send the General's blood-pressure soaring.


On March 20 1896, the Supreme Committee sent the Central Committee a letter [18] in which they demanded the total subordination of the Internal Organization to themselves: 'Only by decision of the Supreme Macedonian Committee shall any action whatsoever be undertaken in Macedonia... Its decisions (i.e. the SMC's) shall be carried out through the Central Revolutionary Macedonian Committee,' - this is a sample of the letter's contents. The Supreme Committee went on to say that if the Internal Organization did not agree with any of its decisions, it must inform the Supreme Committee, giving reasons, but if, on second consideration, the Supreme Committee was still of the same opinion, then the Central Committee was obliged to obey. The Supreme Committee also stated that the Central Committee was not to enter into contact with private citizens or officers, or Government departments or governments, without the consent of the Supreme Committee, neither was it to receive aid from them. On top of these and similar regulations, presented as an ultimatum, the Supreme Committee attempted to make out that Damé had agreed to their demands when he was in Sofia - something which Damé completely denied. [19]


Even now the Central Committee tried to avoid a complete breach. It did not accept the demands of the Supreme Committee, but tried to keep the door open, hoping, no doubt, for a change of leadership, or a change of heart.


The Supreme Committee's attempts to gain control of the Internal Organization were not confined to conversations and correspondence. It also tried to capture the Organization's lines of communication through Kyustendil. The local Macedonian Committee, led by Karanov, was inclined towards the more energetic action advocated by Tyufekchiev, and, indeed, it was the latter who, as Vice-Chairman of the Macedonian Committee, had sent Chakŭrov to raise the population in revolt. At the Second Congress in December 1895, Chakurov had been on the side of the officers, but later had gone over to





Nikolaev's committee and had been working on its behalf in Kyustendil. The Supreme Committee decided to get rid of Karanov, and sent one of its members, Andrei Lyapchev, to Kyustendil in February 1896 to undermine Karanov's position on the local committee. This Lyapchev succeeded in doing, and when new elections were held, Karanov was not re-elected. For a time, even Zografov fell under the influence of Lyapchev, and began to have high hopes of him and the Supreme Committee. [20] Lyapchev made him promise that when Tyufekchiev delivered supplies to Kyustendil, he would hold them on the frontier and not send them on to the Internal Organisation until the Supreme Committee had given its permission. When, however, supplies consisting of 100 bombs, three boxes of dynamite, forty-one rifles, two swords and several revolvers, reached Kyustendil, Gotsé was able to insist on Zografov's sending them on into the interior. Eventually, Zografov's enthusiasm for Lyapchev cooled, their co-operation ceased and Zografov was won for the Internal Organization. He also refused to hand over control of the secret post to Chakurov, who was reconnoitring in the interior on behalf of the Supreme Committee. Of Chakŭrov's activity, Gotsé wrote to Zografov: 'I am simply and utterly shocked by his charlatanry. Wherever he goes, he deceives the simple people outrageously, and in some places he has split the people into parties, and has disorganized the post, in a word, everywhere he acts basely - we'll have a look at the score when we meet. The three napoleons [*] I sent were returned, because no one could be found to take them to you, and it was feared that they might fall into Chakŭrov's hands.' [21]


Throughout all these discussions and manoeuvres, the Supreme Committee continued to keep the Central Committee informed about its activity, diplomatic and otherwise. During the visit of Stoïlov, the Bulgarian Prime Minister, to Constantinople in January 1896, the question of reforms in Macedonia had been discussed with the Turkish Government. Stoïlov had accepted the Turkish proposals, but they had been rejected out of hand by the Supreme Committee as totally inadequate. The Bulgarian Government had then asked the Supreme Committee to submit their own proposals. These [22] were ready by February 1896, and they were sent to the Internal Organization on March 22, with a request that they be circulated to the Organization's committees. The proposals were acceptable to the Internal Organization, but nothing ever came of them, and, in spite of Ferdinand's; state visit to Constantinople in March 1896, more or less the same fate befell the reforms which the Turkish Government had offered to introduce.



*. Napoleons are franc gold peices. Presumably they were to be used to pay for material received.





Another problem on which the Supreme Committee and the Internal Organization were able to agree concerned the schism which had existed between the Bulgarian and Greek Churches since 1872, following the refusal of the Greeks to recognize the Bulgarian Exarchate. Russia had always been opposed to any disunity in the Orthodox Church, although at the last moment she had supported the Bulgarian demand for an Exarchate. In March 1896 the Russian Ambassador in Constantinople raised the question of healing the breach, which would have involved winding up the Exarch's offices in the Turkish capital. The Supreme Committee was utterly opposed to the ending of the schism, and so - in spite of its frequent criticisms of the Exarchate's conservatism - was the Internal Organization. Both saw the Exarchate, for all its shortcomings, as a pillar of Bulgarian national consciousness and as a bulwark against the encroachments of Greek and Serbian propaganda.


The two committees disagreed, however, about a number of minor matters, quite apart from the central issue of authority. One of these concerned the threatening letters which the Internal Organization had sent to various people in the Kochani and Skopje areas, demanding money. The absence of real help from the Supreme Committee and the need to pay for goods supplied by the officers' committee had forced the Internal Organization to resort to terror in an effort to obtain the necessary funds. The Supreme Committee criticized the use of such threatening letters, calling it 'a cruel exploitation of the holiness of the cause.' [23]


On behalf of the Internal Organization, Damé Gruev had occasion to take the Supreme Committee to task for failing to observe the rules of conspiracy in its fairly prolific correspondence with the Central Committee. In a letter to Andrei Lyapchev, he complained that the Supreme Committee sent its letters through the ordinary post, quoting the full titles of the Central Committee: 'We're hiding from the devil, while you're dragging us out onto the market place.' Damé begged them to give more thought to security, to use invisible ink or cipher, to send the letters registered through the Austrian post, to put them in two envelopes, each addressed to a foreigner in Salonika, so as to rouse less suspicion, to write a harmless letter about trade in a Western European language and then to use the blank parts for messages in invisible ink, and so on. [24] As an indication of how efficient the Internal Organization's secret courier service was, one may mention the fact that the Supreme Committee in Sofia received Damés letter the day after it was dispatched from Salonika.


So the uneasy relationship continued, with the Supreme Committee striving to justify its name, and the Central Committee of the Internal Organization insisting on its right to decide all questions concerning





the territory upon which it operated, while, at the same time, inviting all Bulgarian patriots, including the Supreme Committee, to assist it in its difficult and dangerous task. As Gotsé himself wrote to Nikola Zografov: 'Patriotism isn't patented; the cause needs help - it is an altar, consuming the sacrifices of all who bring pure offerings, without distinction between rich and poor, Supremists and Tyufekchievs, therefore, you as a channel must forward every single bit of aid.' [25]


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1. This letter can be found in the Archives of the National Library in Sofia: NBKM BIA f. 224 a.e. 14, Sheets 149-152.


See also: Pandev: Org. Nats. Osv. Dv. pp 150-151.


2. This letter, too, is in the National Library in Sofia: NBKM BIA f. 224 a.e. 17, Sheet 53. It has been included in Dokumenti i Materiali... Bulg. ed. p. 268-269, Eng. ed. p. 260.


3. According to Atanas Shopov, the Bulgarian Commercial Consul in Salonika, Damé's appointment to this convenient post was made on the recommendation of the Bulgarian Minister for War, Colonel Racho Petrov. See ABAN, f. 41, a.e. 67, Sheets 36-37. See also Konstantin Pandev, Pŭrviyat rŭkovoditel na V.M.O.R.O. - Damyan Gruev. (Vekové, Book 2 1975.)


4. Yavorov. p. 170.


5. Nikola Zografov was born in the village of Orakhovets near Veles in 1869. The family moved into Veles itself when Nikola was about 12. In February 1895, he came to Kyustendil where he worked as a watchmaker.


6. Dimitŭr Rizov was a member of the Macedonian Committee elected in March 1895. In December 1895, he was elected to the new Supreme Committee. In 1897, the Bulgarian Government appointed him Commercial Consul in Skopje. At the time when he was approached by Chakŭrov, he was running a flour mill in Kyustendil.


7. Nikola Zografov. Stroezha na zhivota. Sofia 1927, p. 51.


8. Gotsé Delchev. Pisma i drugi materiali. Edited by Dino Kyosev. Sofia 1967, pp. 273-277.


Gotsé's letters were all written in Bulgarian. In the above collection they are given in their original form, the only change being that the sspelling has been modernized. The dialectal peculiarities of Gotsé's style have been preserved. The collections of letters published in Skopje, e.g. Gotsé Delchev, Vol II, 1972, have been translated into the official language used in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia since 1945.


9. One of the books which Gotsé particularly asked for was Zahari Stoyanov's biography of Levsky (8 copies). See Gotsé Delchev, Pisma... p. 60, letter to Nikola Zografov, March 12, 1896.


10. See Materiali... vol. VIII, p. 44.


11. Kovachev, a native of Shtip, was a noted teacher. In 1869 he founded the first Bulgarian teacher-training school (in Shtip), and he was the author of the first Bulgarian textbook on pedagogy. After leaving Shtip, he taught at Sofia University.


12. Pisma... p.54.


13. Dimitŭr Atanasov was one of the former pupils of the Salonika School whose letters from Sofia were instrumental in bringing Gotsé to the Military School.





14. Memoirs of Dimitŭr Atanasov, published by Rumyana Bozhilova in Slavyani, January, 1972. p. 13.


15. Pisma... p. 53. Letter to Nikola Zografov, dated February 20, 1896.


16. Gyorché Petrov's memoirs. Materiali... Vol. VIII p. 44.


17. Ibid Vol. VIII, p. 39.


18. NBKM BIA f. 224 a.e. 16, Sheets 32-33.


19. NBKM BIA f. 224 a.e. 17. Sheet 204. Quoted by Pandev, Org. Nats. Osv. Dv. p. 153.


20. See Pisma... p. 54.


21. Pisma... Letter dated May 25 1896. p. 61.


22. See Dokumenti i materiali... p. 273-5 (Bulg. edition), and p. 264-66 (English edition), or NBKM BIA f. 224 a.e. 30, Sheets 26-27. The proposals amounted to the amalgamation of the vilayets of Salonika, Bitolya and Skopje into a single vilayet with its centre in Salonika. The administration was to be based on the rule of the largest national group, with strict guarantees for the rights of minorities. In notes to the proposals, the SMC quotes various international agreements, laws, etc., to support their demands. The new vilayet was to be autonomous.


23. NBKM, BIA. f. 224 a.e. 16. Sheet 59. Quoted by Pandev. Org. Nats. Osv. Dv. p. 155


24. NBKM BIA f. 224 a.e. 17, Sheet 205. Quoted by Pandev. Opus cit. p. 158.


25. Pisma... pp. 54 and 59.