The Story of Goce Delcev
At the beginning of the 20th century, Macedonia had endured over 500 years of cultural, political and economic oppression at the hands of the Turkish Empire. During this tumultuous period in Macedonian history, peasants and noblemen alike were victims of massacres, kidnappings and other atrocities.
A decent man in an indecent time, Goce Delcev would go on to become one of Macedonia’s favourite sons with dreams of a free and independent Macedonia. He was considered a legendary visionary and revolutionary figure, whose brilliant career was entirely dedicated to the cause of his nation.
Born on the 4th February, 1872 in Kukush (35km north of Salonika), Delcev was raised by patriotic parents, Nikola Delcev and Sultana Delceva. The family of five also included Delcev’s two brothers, Milan and Mico, as well as his sister, Ruza.
After receiving a formal education at the elementary school in Kukus and completing further studies in Salonika, Delcev soon developed a passion for science, literature and social studies, and continued his education at the Salonika Military Academy.
In 1894, Delcev pursued a career as a teacher in Novo Selo (Stip) and in Bansko. During his time as a public educator, Delcev began to inspire and inflame the imaginations of the Macedonian people with ideas of liberation and social justice. While in Stip in the Fall of 94’, a chance encounter brought together Delcev and one of the founding members of the IMRO, Dame Gruev. After witnessing the natural charisma, passion and the positive impact of the young Delcev, Gruev recruited him into the fold of the IMRO.
As a member of IMRO, Delcev established a number of organised underground network systems and expanded membership throughout Macedonia that not only spread the spirit of freedom amongst the Macedonians, but also instilled a sense of nationalistic pride and awakening. All the while, Delcev maintained his conviction that Macedonia was to be liberated only by Macedonians and that they must resist the lure of external aid.
In April in 1896, the IMRO held its first congress. It was here that Delcev, with the aid of another Macedonian revolutionary, Gjorce Petrov, drafted the constitution and charter for the IMRO and assumed responsibility for gathering weapons, ammunition, and literature amongst other important supplies for an uprising. Delcev then put forward the idea that these items should not be sourced externally but rather created and manufactured internally within Macedonia. This resulted in the bomb manufacturing plant in the Osogovo Mountains, advancing IMRO to a military power and inducing confidence in the goals of the revolution. This further fuelled the confidence and motivation of the Macedonians, and belief in the success of the liberation.
In 1897, Delcev embarked on an expedition around Macedonia. He illuminated the people, induced optimism and instilled the notion of freedom. The turn of the 20th century ultimately saw the IMRO make ready for an internal uprising. A conference held in Sofia, Bulgaria saw the implication of an uprising causing discord within the IMRO. Delcev who was present, warned that a premature uprising would spell doom for the Macedonians and that more time was needed to prepare. The details of the uprising were left unresolved and the meeting was convened.
In 1903, on his way to a congress at Lovchan Grove in Ser to discuss the armed uprising, Delcev encountered opposition in the village of Banica. It was here on the 4th of May that Delcev was killed in heroic defence. Betrayed and surrounded, the young revolutionary was shot in the heart during a skirmish. His death sent shock-waves around Europe. News of his death lit up switchboards and stressed the Turkish telegram networks.
He was 31 years old.
His tragic death hindered many of the goals planned for that period of Macedonian history, but his virtuous heroism and ideologies are incorporated in the Macedonian collective consciousness and perpetuate through to the generations of proud Macedonians today.
“While my shoulder can still carry a rifle, Macedonia will never fall to the Bulgarians” -Goce Delcev.