Angelov Dzekov, Todor aka Bozhana, aka The Labourer (1900-1943)

Todor Angelov
Todor Angelov

A short biography of Bulgarian anarchist communist Todor Angelov

Submitted by Battlescarred on June 16, 2019

Todor Angelov was born on December 20, 1900 in Kyustendil in Bulgaria. His father was a stonemason, and his mother was a weaver and laundress, both Bulgarian refugees from Macedonia. As a student, he became an anarchist, and a very active militant of the Bulgarian Anarchist Communist Federation (FACB) at a national level. He participated in the FACB Congress in Yambol in 1923. He married Aleksandra Sharlandzhieva the same year and later in the year took part in the September Uprising. In 1925 he was sentenced to death by the IMRO nationalists but managed to escape abroad with his family.

After spending some time in Austria and France, Angelov and his family settled in Belgium in 1927. In 1930 they were extradited for "disturbing public peace". Angelov settled in Luxembourg while his wife and daughter returned to Bulgaria. In 1932 he was allowed to return to Belgium. He was in contact with the Bulgarian anarchists in exile in France and met Nestor Makhno in Paris. Makhno was then living with his wife and child at the house of the Bulgarian anarchist Nikola Chorbadjiev.

With the coming of the Spanish Revolution, Todor, using an illegal channel of Bulgarian anarchists organised by Hristo Kazandjiev, got to Spain in 1936. He ended up being assigned to the Communist dominated Georgi Dimitrov battalion of the International Brigades, but the leaders of the battalion warned the membership that he “was not one of ours”. The International Brigades began to withdraw from Spain in September 1938 but Todor Angelov stayed until April 1939, working with the Spanish anarchists.

Returning to Belgium, in 1942 he organised a group of 25 combatants, mainly East European Jews, into the first guerrilla squad that acted on Belgian territory against the Nazis. It mostly operated around Brussels, and carried out 200 actions. Angelov was referred to as Terrorist X by the authorities. One train carrying military machinery was destroyed, and in another action, the records of Belgian Jews were destroyed. He was captured in early 1943 and interned at the Nazi prison camp at Fort Breendonk and executed by the Gestapo on November 30th, 1943.

At the end of the war he was declared a “national hero of Belgium” and received a posthumous rank of colonel in the Belgian army as well as having a monument erected to him at Schaerbeek, in the north east of the Brussels conurbation, where he had lived.

A myth was peddled by both the Belgian and Bulgarian Communists that he had been a member of their Parties. In the Wikipedia entry for him you can read that he was a member of the Bulgarian Communist Party from early in his life, as well as being involved on the “anarchist left wing” of IMRO!!.

Nowadays, it is merely asserted in Bulgaria that he was an “anti-fascist,” without mentioning that he was a revolutionary anarchist communist. The myths about Angelov appear to have been facilitated by his daughter, the writer Svoboda Bachvarova, who wrote a three volume book about her father. Her mentions of Communist affiliations of her father should be discounted.
Nick Heath