Kolev, Hristo Yordanov (1911-1995) aka Golemiya (The Big One)

Hristo Kolev

A short biography of Bulgarian anarchist communist Hristo Kolev.

Submitted by Battlescarred on February 14, 2024

In exile, a man sent by an evil, evil and wild ruler, you, our hundred-fold hero, fade away like a living coal! I am happy that I was with you in hard labour, and you, in human pain, shared a morsel with me! And when I look at your path, in honour of you I stand upright and lower my forehead before your great feat! From the poem The Stoic, by Yosif Petrov, dedicated to Kolev.

Hristo Kolev Yordanov was born in Balvan, Bulgaria on April 22nd, 1911. He was later known as Golemiya to distinguish himself from another anarchist called Hristo Kolev, known as Maliya (The Small One). He was already compelled to start work at the age of fourteen. In 1931 he was introduced to the ideas of anarchist communism by Vasil Yordanov. On his release he took on the task of organiser of the FAKB up until 1943. As a result, he travelled around Bulgaria a lot. At the beginning of 1942, he went underground, but the police discovered him , and he was imprisoned in the central prison of Sofia.

At the FAKB Conference in in Knyazhevo on March 10th, 1945, it was decided to adopt a draft programme. The conference took place at the house of the Italian anarchist worker Walter Licurdo Adriani. 103 delegates were present, and the opening speech was delivered by Kolev. However, as soon as he began to speak, the Communist police burst into the meeting, and arrested 86 delegates, many of whom were severely beaten. They were then taken to the central prison of Sofia.

Kolev spent a long time in the prisons and concentration camps of the Stalinist regime and became one of the longest serving political prisoners among the Bulgarian anarchists. Whilst working at the coal mine of the Kutsian concentration camp, a coal seam collapsed and the writer Dimitar Talev was buried under the debris. Kolev dug down with his bare hands and pulled the half-dead Talev out of the coal, aided by the writer Yordan Valchev.

Kolev suffered hard labour, beatings, and hunger at Kutsian, then at the concentration camp of Bogdanov Dol, and then at the camp on Persin island, with its hellish conditions.

Kolev was later put under house arrest in his native village of Balvan in 1970. The previous year, he had worked towards locating the grave of one of the pioneers of Bulgarian anarchism, Vasil Ikonomov, and having a monument erected there. Every year, from 1989 onwards, Bulgarian anarchists have congregated at the Ikonomov memorial.

A close comrade of the anarchist Panayot Chivikov, he commissioned him to translate some chapters from the book by Dany and Gabriel Cohn-Bendit , Obsolete Communism: The Left-Wing Alternative., which sharply criticised Leninism. Despite moves by the authorities in 1969 to stop publication, anarchists managed to distribute leaflets criticising the regime.

A tall, strong, handsome man, Hristo Kolev remained true to his anarchist communist ideals until the end, despite continuous repression and persecution by the different authoritarian regimes that ruled Bulgaria. He died at Balvan, on December 12th, 1995, at the age of eighty-four.

The poet Yosif Petrov, who knew him from the dreaded Persin island, where they were both interned after the Hungarian rising of 1956, celebrates him in his poem The Stoic. “Even among the evil jailers you inspired respect and fear! You were kind and warm to the oppressed, ice-cold to the oppressors! I heard not a groan, nor a cry from you, though mercilessly oppressed! Fate was cruel to you and your earthly lot heavy! But a lofty ideal warmed you in the struggle! Physically strong. Spiritually awake. Crazy brave. Pure at heart.”

Nick Heath


https://www.anarchy.bg/ българия/христо-колев-големия/