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This was most likely a favour his mother had obtained due to her good standing in the community. Despite his long estrangement from the church, Dimitrov, who had lost his job in Sofia and could not find a new one there, could not afford to reject the charitable offer. However, afterwards he hardly ever mentioned the six or seven months he spent in Samokov. Inebriated, he clashed with a local pastor and disturbed religious services; he also arrogantly challenged a visiting Protestant dignitary who was giving a public lecture. However, initially this attracted just four local organisations, with a total of some 1, members — and no more than a third of those were manual workers.

In such an unenviable situation, there were opportunities for young and ambitious activists and Dimitrov seized them. Dimitrov proposed that this should be countered by systematic efforts to enlighten members by acquainting them with the theory of class struggle and the link between trade-union and party activity. After returning to Sofia, he moved around several printing houses but soon abandoned his day job to become a paid activist of the Socialist party.

He launched his political career on the back of turmoil and readjustment: on 6—12 July Blagoev convened a congress where his followers expelled his rivals from the party. The Socialist trade unions too were immediately torn in two, but only one organisation declared for the Narrows. Still, the unemployed year-old managed to turn a series of personal and political disasters into advantages, emerging as a most successful trade-union organiser.

The ORSS was unquestionably based on the Marxist law of class struggle; the very act of its establishment confirmed its tight ideological affiliation and organisational coordination with the party.


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Its leadership was dominated by Narrow activists, making its auxiliary function to the party blatantly obvious. To ordinary folk, on the other hand, he appeared both impressive and accessible: he had first-hand experience of hired labour, he seemed earnest and bonded easily with workers over a drink. All of this made him stand out among the older, better-educated party philosophers; he had a knack for persuasion and organisation and excelled in grassroots work. Numerous circulars, addresses, articles dwelt often and at length on the significance of the occasion and the preparation for it, to which Dimitrov attributed much more than symbolic meaning: he believed that the build-up to the day should be a shared experience which would motivate and bind workers together just as much as the exhilaration of the traditional street demonstration on the day.

In this, Dimitrov was even concerned less with the specific demands of any particular strike than with the role it would play in the creation of the party as a politically strong, coherent and efficient fighting force. His enthusiasm and popularity among workers also ensured that he soon moved further up the Narrow hierarchy. Just as he was looking for opportunities to solidify his position in the party, the top leadership was in need of vigorous and resilient activists to defend and spread its maximalist ideology in the field.

Georgi Dimitrov Facts

As a member of the Second International of Socialist parties, the quarrelsome Bulgarian Socialists had already attained notoriety: they often used the rostrum at international gatherings for settling domestic scores. On the whole, the European Socialist movement was sufficiently pluralistic and tolerant to allow different opinions to be heard.

Accordingly, the two Bulgarian factions were urged towards rapprochement, though no practical steps to this end were initiated38 — indeed, exactly the opposite occurred as another dissident group was expelled from the BRSDP N. In this Dimitrov participated directly and eagerly while another Narrow rising star, Vassil Kolarov, attempted to justify the fundamentalist tactic outside Bulgaria.

The dissenters were once again — as two years before — heavily represented in the Sofia party organisation, where Dimitrov was increasingly making his mark. He had already clashed with the advocates of looser discipline and intellectual diversity when he strongly attacked the views and writings of their leader Nikola Harlakov, at the BRSDP N congress in early August. His convincing performance helped him secure the post of Secretary to the Sofia party organisation, which he then used to continue the battle.

These were now to be controlled by a majority committee presided over by himself. The move was shrewd as it denied the opponents a platform for presenting and popularising alternative opinions. Dimitrov used his position of strength effectively to ostracise those whom he portrayed as disturbing the party order and channels of command.

He achieved this not only by firmly supporting the majority leadership but also through the timely use of bureaucratic procedure. He had not shied away from the internal quarrel but had actively and purposefully plunged into it. Not only did he remain among the triumphant majority but also improved his standing within it. Simultaneously, Dimitrov directed a great deal of his plentiful energy into the expansion of the ORSS, a process which continued in a brazenly top-down manner.

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A committee of radicals would be appointed by the centre and tasked with campaigning and recruitment in a certain region or industry — instead of being elected by and responsible to the union members. At the time, coal-mining in Bulgaria was a particularly fertile field for Socialist agitation: the growing demand for coal production reflected the expansion of electricity plants, construction materials factories and the national transport network, including railways and seaports.

All of these industries stimulated the spread of radical political ideas, as they concentrated large numbers of workers in or near vibrant urban centres. More often than not the state owned, or had a stake in, these big economic ventures, a fact that allowed the Socialists not only to denounce capitalism but directly engage in propaganda against the government.

He organised and supervised a propaganda circle to which he supplied Socialist literature, encouraged workers and their families to express their grievances openly, and maintained that political struggle was the only long-term solution to economic and social problems. After a year of agitation, a strike flared up in Pernik in the latter half of July , seemingly spontaneously calling for better pay and social benefits. The Narrow Central Committee CC formally charged Dimitrov with the political leadership of the strike, the biggest challenge of his political career to date.

He immediately went to the mine and took up not only political but operational command: meeting the strikers, bonding with old and new acquaintances, trying to boost morale in private conversations and public speeches. His presence itself signalled the involvement of the party, thus transforming the strike into a political issue. In the end, having held out for more than a month, the strike collapsed — the company could afford to procrastinate, while the strikers began to suffer from loss of earnings. In simple terms, this was a failure, but the Narrow Socialists gave it a positive spin by highlighting what were for them favourable long-term effects.

They rationalised the strike as the first steps towards forging a fighting force of proletarians, politically aware and capable of defending itself. As a budding politician, Dimitrov gained a great deal from the strike: his popularity amongst the more extremist workers grew, especially after he was arrested and taken back to the capital shortly after his appearance in Pernik. Interest in him was stirred by his claims that there had been three successive attempts to kill him and by his boasts that he had outsmarted his attackers.

The Pernik strike had stood out in a wave of industrial discontent that led the Narrow Socialists to conclude that they were on the right course, and one which should be pursued even more persistently. One means towards this was to reorganise the trade unions into a strictly centralised and vertically integrated federation of professional organisations. The new structure would spread across the country and gradually envelop all spheres of the economy, strengthening the organisational and ideological connection to the party.

The rules of this organisation allowed for a single member from any country and so the ORSS — which also aspired to external recognition — could not be admitted. Living for a while in Belgrade and Vienna, she had already subscribed to Marxism before settling in Bulgaria. Further, she was much better versed than him in leftist political theory and had a knowledge of and interest in European culture.

She aspired to be a proletarian poet who would praise the virtues of the working class and propagate Marxism through her art.


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Their passionate love affair led to marriage the following year. Ljuba initially persisted with her own political work, taking part in all aspects of agitation, from putting up posters to giving public lectures. They shared a fascination for politics, philosophy and to some extent the arts. Ljuba is mostly remembered for encouraging and indeed guiding her year-old husband to continue and broaden his self-education. She often accompanied him on his continual trips around the country.

It could only be guessed that with a rather traditional and pious outlook, they resented the fact that Ljuba was two years older than her husband, and already had one broken marriage behind her. To make matters worse, Ljuba experienced bouts of jealousy as her husband generally appealed to women and liked flirting. It seems that his mother had initially shown tolerance of his political commitment, though the fact that on occasion she even helped him hide Socialist literature or escape the police does not in any way testify that she had been won for the cause: she was first and foremost acting as a parent and a Christian.

There is even one extraordinary example of Parashkeva and her son working at cross-purposes: in , one of their lodgers, Simeon Mutafov, experienced a spiritual revelation during talks with her. She brought the young man to church and became his spiritual guardian, encouraging him to apply to the famous Samokov College, the ambition that she had forsaken on behalf of her own son. Amazingly, Mutafov simultaneously fell under the spell of Dimitrov, who steered the country boy towards syndicalist activity and practically groomed him as a professional strike-leader in Sofia, Plovdiv and Gabrovo.

Mutafov moved from one hotspot of unrest to another before indeed taking up a study grant in Samokov. His double-track career continued for more than 40 years. He travelled a great deal, inspecting trade-union cells around Bulgaria and appearing anywhere workers clashed with factory owners or the government.

Georgi Dimitrov Facts

He gradually assumed more responsibilities, burnishing his revolutionary credentials through his writing, speeches and front-line action. He therefore visibly consolidated his position in the movement, although formal promotion was slow to materialise, since the leadership of the Socialist trade unions, just like that of the party, formed a small clique. The position had only become open because one of the founding fathers, Gavril Georgiev, had withdrawn from active politics.

After consistent targeting, there were nearly organised women, a number that had doubled in the course of the previous year alone. All this data, and the manner of its presentation, was used by Dimitrov to underscore his assertion that the ORSS was the true exponent of Marxist principles and the genuine representative of Bulgarian workers.

Naturally, Dimitrov was almost exclusively engrossed in work at home. He devoted a great deal of effort to the management and reorganisation of the ORSS. In , less than a full year into his position as Secretary, he initiated a recruitment drive, the target set at 10, members on the roll. This was not fully achieved even by , when membership stood at some 8, Nonetheless, a crucial outcome of the recruitment initiative was that new and younger people joined, with little previous experience of professional organisations. As novices they signed up, and thus implicitly gave legitimacy, to a centralised trade union — very different from the collection of geographically dispersed local cells of the previous decade — which was now run by Dimitrov with a strong hand.

Shortly after there were separate occupational sections, each of which was a part of a larger industry-oriented union. Thirteen professional unions constituted the ORSS itself. In November he wrote to local union representatives, strongly condemning unauthorised strikes and warning that these would not be financially supported by the centre. He was a stimulating orator and did not shy away from direct conflict; among radical workers this earned him support and respect.

Dimitrov had a gift for stirring up turmoil and provoking extreme reactions: in June at the Plakalnitsa mine to the north of Sofia he was shot at, though not injured. Several months later he alleged in writing that a certain Broad trade-unionist was a police agent, which landed him in a libel lawsuit. He used such reasoning to discredit his political opponents and promote the cause of the ORSS. As often is the case, those with very similar beliefs and objectives were also the fiercest of foes, competing as they were for the same support base.

The statistics are illuminating: by , the Narrow membership had more than doubled, to 2,, since the rift in As the Broads accounted for similar numbers, the Narrows assumed that they had been deprived of half their potential members — a highly questionable proposition. This implicit claim to exclusive working-class representation was once again taken to the Second International, which had so far done little to settle the Bulgarian quarrel. Instead, the International dispatched emissaries to reconcile the feuding Bulgarian Socialists and their associated trade unions.

He continued to lament the dispute, but failed to arbitrate between the opponents. What is more, the Bulgarian quarrels affected relations with their neighbouring Socialist parties. Already by January a Balkan conference in Belgrade led to an agreement for solidarity and cooperation between the ORSS and the Serbian trade unions. However, the Bulgarian leaders had grander political objectives in mind, proposing the formation of a federation between Bulgaria and Serbia.


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This would be achieved through revolutionary class struggle and would provide a solution to the disputes over territory, minorities and resources — in contrast to the warmongering approach of the bourgeoisie. Concerned that they might appear unpatriotic, the Serbian Socialists hesitated to support these ideas openly, and stood accused by Blagoev of lack of principles. Dimitrov had a chance to become further involved in the federation project when Sofia was chosen as the seat of the Socialist Federation, the coordinating body for the Balkan revolutionary Socialists, which had been nominally established in Belgrade in For the moment, however, it was little more than a paper creation.

During that month he travelled from Sofia to Varna on the Black Sea, then Russe and Svishtov on the Danube, followed by visits to Dupnitsa, Pernik, Pleven and eventually Vidin in the far north-western corner of the country. Dimitrov had been selected as a Narrow Socialist candidate for Sofia and no less than 16 other towns.