Gerginov, Zheko (1897-1924)

Zheko Gerginov

A short biography of the Bulgarian anarchist communist Zheko Gerginov.

Submitted by Battlescarred on May 13, 2024

Zheko Ivanov Gerginov was born on October 17, 1897 in Haskovo, Bulgaria into the family of a poor craftsman. From an early age, he developed a hatred of religion, exploitation and social injustice. He became an anarchist communist and joined the anarchist communist group in Haskovo.

Gerginov studied at the Haskovo Boys' High School, where he was expelled because he beat up the principal and one of the teachers who treated the students harshly. As a result, he was not allowed to continue his education in any high school in Bulgaria. He educated himself, reading many literature classics as well as key anarchist texts.

In the summer of 1918, Gerginov, with the help of his cousin and his sister dug a tunnel to the warehouses of the Haskovo military barracks and seized 10 crates of bombs and a number of pistols.

On June 10th, 1919, there was a confrontation between anarchists and members of the Communist Party in Haskovo. The atmosphere became tense, and Gerginov climbed on the stage of the cinema where the dispute was taking place, firing shots in the air. A fight broke out and the more numerous Communists were beaten and thrown out of the cinema.

During the national transport strike of December 1919-January 1920, the Haskovo anarchist communist group actively supported the strikers. Gerginov took part in a firefight with a company of soldiers from the Haskovo barracks. He developed a reputation as a defender of the oppressed, not just to the police but to the local people. He was on friendly terms with notable anarchists like Georgi Sheitanov, Vasil Ikonomov, Mikhail Gerdzhikov, and fellow Haskovan Georgi Zhechev.

On June 7th, 1921, Gerginov and others held up a local rich man, in order to obtain funds for a printing press and to support the families of tobacco workers. The police tracked down the group and one anarchist was killed in a shootout.

Zheko Gerginov took part in the conference of the Bulgarian Anarchist Communist Federation (FAKB) of 1921, held on the Maltepe mountain, as a delegate from Haskovo.

After the conference, Zheko turned himself in to the authorities. He subsequently received a 12 year prison sentence.

At the beginning of 1924, the authoritarian government, under both internal and international pressure, declared an amnesty for political prisoners. As a result, Zheko Gerginov was due to be released on March 3rd. On the night of March 2nd-3rd, some cops burst into his cell and shot him whilst he was asleep. Mortally wounded, he died that morning. The order for his killing had come from General Ivan Rusev, the Minister of Internal Affairs.

Nick Heath