Zhechev , Georgi (1897-1965)

Georgi Zhechev

A short biography of the prominent Bulgarian anarchist communist and literary figure Georgi Zhechev.

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Submitted by Battlescarred on May 6, 2024

Georgi Zhechev Tekeliev was born in the Bulgarian town of Haskovo on the 7th of April,1897 into a family who worked in small crafts. He completed his primary and secondary education there, and at high school was taught by the poet Emanuil Popdimitrov. Intellectually precocious, he was widely read and published his first article before 1914.

He became an anarchist at the age of sixteen, after reading pamphlets by Bakunin and Kropotkin, and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia. He was a founder of the first libertarian groups in Haskovo. In contact with the various anarchist publishing groups, he became a distributor of the newspapers, magazines, books and pamphlets that he regularly received. A 1918 document from the State archives reveals that “In Haskovo, the anarchist circle had as its most zealous members: Georgi Zhechev, Kalin Urumov, Ivan D. Sakantiev and Zheko Ivan Gerginov.”

He refused to be drafted in 1917, and as a result was forced to live underground. The following year, he was one of the main defendants in the military trial of anarchists.

Georgi became an outstanding poet, writer, publicist and translator of literature on art from Russian and French sources, and was a notable figure in Bulgarian culture. Apart from this, he contributed greatly to anarchist publications, editing several newspapers and magazines. These papers included Probuda (Awakening), Svobodno Obshtestvo (Free Society) (1919-1924) of which he was editor from 1923, and the illegal newspaper Anarkhist (1920-1921).

He became a member of the Anarchist Communist Federation of Bulgaria (FAKB) in 1919. The Haskovo group organised a May Day procession and rally in 1920. Of this time he recalled, "At that time, instead of the guards arresting the anarchists, the anarchists themselves often 'arrested' a guard, brought him into the club and, curiously enough, even made him shout: 'Long live anarchy!' From 1921 to 1923 he was a member of the armed action group around Vassil Ikonomov. The FAKB delegated him from their congress held in 1923 in Yambol, to the international anarchist congress in Paris.

Sentenced to death for an article denouncing the military coup d’etat of 9th June, 1923, Zhechev had to flee to France.

Still living illegally, he returned to Bulgaria in 1924, but once again , after the Communist Party bomb attack of April 1925, was forced to return to France. There , he took part in the International Group for Anarchist Publications, (Œuvre Internationale des Editions Anarchistes) with which Nestor Makhno collaborated. The Bulgarian listed as one of its founders, Iacif, must be Zhechev. He wrote, "Thousands of anarchists from different countries had gathered here - Italians, Spaniards, Poles, Russians and Bulgarians - the entire Bakunin International, thirsty for revolutionary activity and struggle... Here, in the midst of unprecedented ideological fervour, after the bloody rise of fascism, fighters of various nationalities gave a meeting to share with each other the experience and lessons from the struggle, which had subsided temporarily, to flare up with new force." He also took part there in agitation for the release of the Italian-American anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti and for anarchist prisoners in the Soviet union. Concerning Makhno, he wrote: "Makhno was a rare, legendary person. The great part he had played in the Russian Revolution had won him world-wide fame, and his very name was a whole programme. In the life of the anarchist émigré in Paris, Makhno took a lively part, mainly through his personal connections and meetings with figures of different nationalities...Because he did not know French, Makhno did not make public reports except in Russian, and then in a narrow circle, although he was a good orator . He was keenly interested in the world movement and maintained ties with many countries in Europe and America."

With the amnesty of 1928, Georgi Zhechev returned to Bulgaria and from now on dedicated himself to open and legal propaganda, as well as working as a publicist and translator.

In 1930 he launched the weekly anarchist literary weekly Missal I Volia (Thought and Will) which played an important part in Bulgarian culture. Practically all the best poets, writers and literary critics contributed to the magazine, which continued to be published until 1935. Because of its increasing influence in spreading libertarian ideas, the State authorities suspended its publication.

Zhechev was the author of ten books, including poetry collections and stories for children. In addition, he translated 100 books, which included Mikhail Sholokhov’s Quiet Flows the Don, Euripides’ Medea, Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Byron’s Manfred, tostoy’s Anna Karenina,, and works by Dostoevsky and de Maupassant, etc.

He contributed to the anarchist paper Stozher which appeared between 1946 and 1947.

He was arrested by the Communist regime in 1949 and interned in the Belene concentration camp. However, thanks to the actions of the Writers’ Union, of which he was a longstanding and prominent member, he was soon released.

When Boris Yanev, (see his biography here at libcom) died in 1957, Georgi took over the secret work of communication and international relations he had carried out for the FAKB. This was difficult and dangerous work, and he was arrested and questioned for suspicion of clandestine relations with foreigners in 1963. However, they were unable to prove anything. Georgi continued with this activity until his death on 28th August 1965.

Georgi’s parther,Donka, was also a committed anarchist. Their son, Dobromir, became a noted football player and then football manager.

Nick Heath

Comments

Battlescarred

1 month 1 week ago

Submitted by Battlescarred on May 7, 2024

I've added some more material about Zhechev, including some of his recollections.