My experience of Anarchism in Bulgaria - 88 yr old exile Jack Grancharoff at Jura books audio


Jura  Books in Sydney recently hosted  'Anarchism in Bulgaria as I see it' by the 88 year old exiled anarchist Jack Grancharoff. Around a dozen people listened intensely to Jack as he described his upbringing and his involvement in anarchism and challenges faced by both fascism and Stalinism.

In the early 20th Century, anarchism entrenched itself as a mass organisational movement in Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland - anarchists having already been active in the 1873 uprisings in Bosnia and Herzegovina against Austro-Hungarian control. But it was primarily in Bulgaria and its neighbour Macedonia that a remarkable case of anarchist organising arose, in the midst of the power-play between the great powers. This was the area of conflict where jack focused much of his early talk on.

Growing up in the midst of poverty, Jack soon began to challenge authority in his school, soon being expelled and according to his own words- was an anarchist before he even knew so. Working as a Shepard in the midst of various invasions starting with the nazi occupation and later the soviets, jack was expelled from one village to another before coming across anarchists for the first time while being incarcerated in a soviet concentration camp for a couple of months for being ' an enemy of the people.'

This poorly-studied movement not only blooded itself in national liberation struggles and armed opposition to both fascism and Stalinism, but developed a notably diverse and resilient mass movement, the first to adopt the 1926 Platform of the Ukrainian Makhnovist exiles in Paris 2 as its lodestone. For these reasons it is vital that the revived anarchist-communist movement in the new millennium re-examine the legacy of the Balkans.

The discussion provided a rare opportunity to hear about and to discuss a little known, but critically important, chapter of anarchist history: the ‘Bulgarian Commune’ of 1944/45. Jack was a participant in those events, as well as knowing the rich variety of characters and organisations that were a part of the events leading up to 1945.


Anarchism in Bulgaria - 88 yr old exile Jack Grancharoff relates his experiences by Workers Solidarity on Mixcloud


According to Jack,

"Anarchism succeeded in becoming a popular movement and it penetrated many layers of society from workers, youth and students to teachers and public servants. The underground illegal activities of the movement continued.'

The Bolshevik ‘Red Army’ rolled in at the end of WWII and destroyed what had been organised with the help of the anarchists of the region, just as the Stalinists had done during the Spanish Revolution in the Aragon region, almost ten years earlier. Jack was later forced to flee, first to Italy where he met italian anarchist partisans and later to australia where he found work in forestry in Queensland. Jack soon came into contacts with spanish and italian anarchist exiles in Melbourne anarchist club. also a founding member of the Jura Books Collective - also gave an up to date with what’s going on in the anarchist movement of today in Bulgaria.

If there our any lessons we can learn today from  the Bulgarian experience is the importance of building a movement based on firm principles with effective organisation, strategy and vision.

As the 1945 Platform of the Federation of Anarchist Communists of Bulgaria(FAKB) noted:

'It is above all necessary for the partisans of anarchist communism to be organised in an anarchist communist ideological organisation. The tasks of these organisations are: to develop, realise and spread anarchist communist ideas; to study the vital present-day questions affecting the daily lives of the working masses and the problems of the social reconstruction; the multifaceted struggle for the defence of our social ideal and the cause of working people; to participate in the creation of groups of workers on the level of production, profession, exchange and consumption, culture and education, and all other organisations that can be useful in the preparation for the social reconstruction; armed participation in every revolutionary insurrection; the preparation for and organisation of these events; the use of every means which can bring on the social revolution. Anarchist communist ideological organisations are absolutely indispensable in the full realisation of anarchist communism both before the revolution and after.'

The meeting was also a benefit for the Jock Palfreeman defence fund. See more fo

For more information on the Bulgarian anarchism please see: The Anarchist-Communist Mass Line: Bulgarian Anarchism Armed