Zyapkov, Georgi (1915-1990)

Georgi Zyapkov

A short biography of Bulgarian anarchist Georgi Zyapkov, who suffered under both the monarchist and Communist regimes.

Submitted by Battlescarred on January 29, 2024

“Dad was a smart and brave man, but what I appreciate most about him is that he did not turn his children away from anarchist ideas, despite the atrocities experienced in the Bogdanov Dol camp and subsequent encounters with State Security.” Kostadin Zyapkov

Georgi Kostadinov Zyapkov was born in Rakitovo, Bulgaria in 1915. He father Kostadin was a refugee from Sersko, forced to flee from Turkish attacks. He married Maria Peshterska in Kamenitsa and they moved to Rakitovo, where Maria gave birth to Georgi. Kostadin had studied at a seminary to be a priest, and he sent Georgi to Plovdiv seminary, having difficulty paying the fees.

Georgi hated life there and he was expelled. Later at high school at Ladzhene, he became an anarchist and atheist. He engaged in organising his fellow workers and was arrested by the monarchist regime.
Later , with the establishment of the so-called ‘People’s Regime’ in 1944 he became a target of the Communists. He organised workers in 1947-48 who were building the road from Stoichov Chark to Ranja. Shortly afterwards, on December 16th 1948, he was arrested after a police raid on his home where anarchist books were discovered. Five other anarchists in the region were arrested at the same time, and a thousand throughout Bulgaria. He was sent to the concentration camp at Bogdanov Dol.

At Bogdanov Dol, Georgi made the acquaintance of Salih Osman Kantar, a young Turk who had deserted the Turkish army and fled across the border to a country where he thought socialism was being built. Instead, he was savagely beaten by the police and accused of being a Turkish spy, and then sent to Bogdanov Dol.

Georgi and Salih were released at the beginning of 1950. Salih knew no one in Bulgaria, and Georgi brought him back to Rakitovo, where he shared a bedroom with Georgi’s sons Milosh and Kostadin. Georgi found him a job at the local bakery, and later Salih established himself as a baker. When the Zyapkov family fell on hard times Salih supplied them with bread. Once the Communist Party Secretary of the village came up to Salih and growled , “You will not communicate with Georgi Zyapkov. He is a bad person.” Salih replied “Bai Georgi is the best person in the world” (1) , and struck him.

The harassment of Georgi by the authorities did not stop with his release from the camp. The police regularly raided his house, taking him out at night through forests and fields, threatening to shoot him and pointing machine guns at his head. This resulted in him having a heart attack, and these experiences affected his health for the rest of his life. Despite the harassment, Georgi remained true to his anarchist beliefs.

During the unrest in Bulgaria in 1968-69generated by the events in Czechoslovakia, Georgi was again interrogated.

He asked that the following be inscribed on his grave stone: "I lived for freedom, I have only known her name. I loved the workers, hated the gods". He died on 28th January 1990.

His two sons were deeply affected by the treatment of their father and held his political beliefs . Milosh became a noted poet but died in mysterious circumstances at the age of 50, perhaps murdered by the Stalinists. His other and younger son Kostadin, has become a chronicler of Bulgarian anarchism.

(1)Bai is a Bulgarian honorary title given to older, wise, or noble people as a sign of respect

Nick Heath