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.



Add Yours
  1. k rawson

    Your gift for inhabiting the voices of the people of history never ceases to amaze me. This reminds me very much of Hawser’s shenanigans in Poland in your first book. The voice is spot on.

  2. pennygadd51

    I knew nothing of this movement before your post, and I was fascinated. I wonder how the Goryani interacted with the Greeks who are geographically so close. Thank you for opening my eyes to another fascinating piece of history, Josh.

  3. rochellewisoff

    Dear Josh,

    I, too, thought about Hawser. (Almost finished with the first book). Well written piece of historical fiction that had me on edge. You do have a knack for voice and character.



  4. EagleAye

    I read a bit about this while reading up on Bulgaria. I got much more info on the topic from your story and the epilogue. It’s true, war and resistance is never glorious. Both are often romanticized but the reality is anything but. Great piece of historical fiction. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

  5. prior..

    how interesting to learn about the Bulgarian resistance – and this Pegman location has led to nice some learning for me – now I am going to see who Vasil was…
    oh and your fiction piece was really gripping….

  6. Lynn Love

    Thanks for the notes on the Bulgarian resistance, Josh. Both interesting and disturbing, how they tried to fight back but were exterminated in droves. Nothing glorious in dying in such squalid ways, but they felt they had to try. Wonderful voice as always with you

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