It Was Never Glorious

Some say it was glorious, that the Goryani were heroes welcome everywhere. This is nonsense. We were hunted like rats.

You do not remember, but Bulgaria after the war was full of informers. This was not done out of love of the communists, nor even out of fear, but to settle old scores. The greatest crime the communists committed was to take the land from the peasants and force them to work in the cities. It was brother killing brother over the ownership of a potato field.

And so we fought. The Goryani arose out of desperation. We knew we could never win against State Security, but we had to do something. We were organized into Chetas for secrecy. You knew only those in your own cell. There was much violence. Guns, bombs. Eventually they arrested or killed us all. In the end, we were forced to live in the sewers.

 

What Pegman Saw

 Note: Long before the Hungarian revolution and the Prague spring, Bulgarian peasants banded together to resist the pressures of the Stalin-backed Communist government. The movement started after the communist coup d’état against the Nazis in 1944 and reached its peak between 1947 and 1954. By the early Sixties it was gone. The Goryani were loosely organized, broken into individual cells called Chetas. The identities of members outside one’s own cell were largely unknown. Aside from the scattered Polish fighters who went directly from fighting Nazis to engaging the Red Army, the Bulgarian resistance is believed to be the first, and longest lasting, organized anti-Communist movement.The very existence of the Goryani was steadfastly concealed and denied by the Bulgarian Communist authorities, so there is almost no information about them. One thing is certain: they carried on the tradition of Bulgarian national hero Vasil Levski.