A short biography of Bulgarian anarchist and doctor Todor 'Tocho' Mitev who fled Bulgaria after refusing to be a police spy, and eventually settled in France.
Nicknamed 'Tocho', born 26 March 1926 - Bulgaria, died 17 August 2002 - France
Born in Bulgaria on 26th March 1926, he joined the Bulgarian anarchist movement in 1947. He took up medical studies, and it was during his last year of medicine that he was identified by the police. He was told that if he gave information on the movement, he would be allowed to remain free. He alerted other comrades, and then provided worthless information. At the end of several weeks he was warned that he had to be “efficient” or risk being arrested and “liquidated”. Thanks to the help of other anarchists and after several attempts, he managed to get over the border in 1950. Here he ended up in a Yugoslav prison. He refused to work for the Tito regime, and took up his medical studies again, but pressure from the regime forced him to move again. With a group of comrades and friends, he crossed the Italian border, and was interned in a camp at Trieste. Finally, he managed to escape from there and got to France, the centre of the Bulgarian anarchist movement in exile.
He took up his medical studies again and integrated into French society. He joined the editorial team of the anarchist communist magazine Noir et Rouge and made his mark there with his serious and objective approach, and his open and curious outlook. He provided important articles on self-management in Yugoslavia, a critique of Marxism and a spirited defence of Bakunin.
At the same time he was in close contact with the exile Bulgarian movement, avoiding getting involved in personal arguments. As a doctor he treated both the rival anarchists “Bai Gueorgui” (Balkanski) and “Bai Ivan” (Ivan Ivanov Ratchev) and was on friendly terms with both. He paid for the funeral expenses of ‘Bai Ivan” and with other comrades had his works photocopied and deposited at the Institute of Social History at Amsterdam and at Nanterre University.
He was in a minority on the decision to stop publishing Noir et Rouge, and he always considered it a mistake. As a result, he took less of a part in the movement. But he was always ready to help out, either as a doctor or with financial contributions. He gave a lot of financial support to the work of the tireless Nikola Tanzerkov (aka Nicolas Trifon) and the magazine Iztok which concentrated on anarchism in Eastern Europe. This appeared in both a French language and Bulgarian language edition, and then solely in Bulgarian. He gave much support to the movement in Bulgaria. At his own cost he brought out in 1993 a book of 213 pages on the renowned poet Khristo Botev, poet and anarchist revolutionary, generally regarded in Bulgaria as the ‘national poet”.
He was much loved in the village where he practiced as a doctor, especially by the children there for whom he took all the fear out of paying a visit to the surgery. He loved hiking, music and literature, and had deep friendships with many comrades. He loved long discussions on all kinds of topics. In this he was like his father, who had refused to play by the rules of the regime - he was always the last to turn out for the compulsory voting in Bulgaria, which infuriated the Party apparatchiks, and died in 1967 without ever seeing his son again.
Having diagnosed himself as having brain cancer, he decided to take his leave of everyone, with tact and good humour, evoking the past without bitterness. He had the fortune to pass away peacefully on the 17th August 2002.
By Nick Heath, based on an article of Frank Mintz