Popova, Nadezhda (Nadia) (1906-1932)

Nadezhda Popova
Nadezhda Popova

A short biography of Bulgarian anarchist Nadezhda Popova

Submitted by Battlescarred on June 16, 2019

Nadezhda Popova was born in 1906 in the village of Kilifarevo. Her father was a teacher in the village and died during the Balkan War in 1912, when he contracted cholera on the front. Her three sisters died very young of tuberculosis.

She graduated from high school in Tarnovo and started working as a seamstress.

Under the influence of her brother Georgi Simeonov Popov and her friends from childhood - the Balkhov brothers, Stefan Paraskov and others - she became a convinced anarchist. Her cousin, Mariola Sirakova and Georgi Sheytanov (see the biographies here at libcom), who was a great friend of her brother, also had a big influence on her.

On June 9, 1923, a military coup took place in Sofia, which removed the Agrarian government of Alexander Stamboiliyski from power. The coup d'état was carried out by a group of Military Alliance officers and the Democratic Alliance party (often called the Black Bloc), with the knowledge and approval of Tsar Boris III and with the full support of the opposition bourgeois parties and the IMRO nationalists. The IMRO murdered Stamboiliyski, brutally torturing him, cutting off one hand and blinding him before killing him.

In response to the military coup an armed uprising was announced in Kilifarevo, led by Georgi Popov. Nadezhda was an active supporter, caring for the sick and wounded. Her lover Dimitar Balkhov fought in the Kilifarevo detachment. She and her mother were arrested by the police, and roughly interrogated about the whereabouts of her brother. Not having extracted any information, the police released them. However, she was subject to constant harassment.

On April 16th, 1925, when she was once again threatened with arrest, she went underground until the beginning of May. She was pregnant at the time. Hiding in the mountains around Gabrovo with Dimitar, she decided to turn herself in at the end of June 1925 because of fear that the conditions in the mountains would affect the well-being of her baby.

She was tried by the military court martial at Ruse and sentenced to 4 years in prison, which she served at Plovdiv. It was there that she gave birth to her child, Georgi.

She served three years and was released with an amnesty. She was now already suffering from tuberculosis. She returned to Kilifarevo in 1929, crossing over to Yugoslavia in the same year where she was re-united with Dimitar. He himself had also contracted tuberculosis. They decided to go to Toulouse in France to get treatment.

However, Dimitar Balkhov died on February 20th 1931. Nadezhda was forced to give up her child for adoption by an anarchist couple, Alphonse and Paule Tricheux. She returned to Bulgaria where she died on 23rd September 1932, alone and forgotten.

Her son lived all of his life in Toulouse, where he worked as an electrician.

Nick Heath

Balkanski, G. Histoire Du Mouvement Libertaire En Bulgarie (Esquisse) Paris