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Monument to the Goryani in Sliven

The monument to the Goryani in Sliven is in the centre of the town almost hidden by the decorative green foliage around it.

It consists of part of a small stone with plaques inscribed with the names of 41 members of the Second Sliven Brigade which was active between 1950-1951 in the Stara Planina mountains above Sliven.

In addition to the names of the victims, the modest monument also bears the following inscriptions: “To the memory of the Goryani from Sliven who died between 1950-1951” and “Their life was a fight under the banner of freedom, death – a noble victory!”

The monument was erected and funded by the Union of Repressed in Sliven in 2001. It was opened by Vice President Todor Kavaldzhiev, member of the Agrarian Party and former prisoner at the Belene camp. He was a political internee during communism and spent 11 years in the prisons of Pazardzhik and Pleven (1952-1963).

The ceremony to honour the memory of the Goryani from Sliven is held on the 2nd June when Hristo Botev Day is celebrated throughout the country to honour the memory of all those who fought for the freedom and independence of Bulgaria. The reason for this is that between the 1st and 2nd of June, 1951,  the Second Sliven Brigade, consisting of 106 persons and led by Georgi Marinov Stoyanov-Tarpana, engaged in combat with armed units of the Ministry of the Interior and the army numbering 13 000 men. 40 Goryani died in the battle.

Although the brigade commander, Georgi Stoyanov (also named as Benkovski due to his resemblance to Georgi Benkovski, the leader of the Flying Brigade of the April Uprising) succeeded in leading the remaining men out of the blockade. He was later captured and sentenced to death. He was executed on the 2nd December, 1951.

“We honour the victims of the Goryani movement which was at its strongest in the Sliven region. We must honour their memory and it needs to become part of the history textbooks, so that new generations of Bulgarians can know of the sacrifice made by these men", Dimitar Syarov, the Regional Governor of Sliven, stated during the ceremony in June, 2015.

Other monuments to the Goryani

There are a number of other monuments to the Goryani in the country. They are dedicated to participants in the Goryani resistance movement against the communist regime in Bulgaria.

One of these is the monument to the legendary Gerasim Todorov (1910), commander of the Sixth Pirin Brigade (1948), which stands in his native village of Vlahi, in Kresna municipality. He committed suicide, in order to avoid being taken prisoner during a large-scale operation against his brigade. The units sent by the communist regime included the local militia, the so-called voluntary workers brigades, Internal Army brigades and regular army units with armoured vehicles from Sofia, Vratsa and Plovdiv.

Another small monument stands in the courtyard of the church of “St. George the Victorious” in the village of  Gabarevo, Pavel Banya municipality. The bones of 16 young Goryani from the Nikola Petkov brigade are buried here. They were between the ages of 16 and 25 and were killed on the 1st October, 1951, not far from the village.

Their mass grave was discovered in 1992, and their remains were brought to Gabarevo and buried in a common grave near the church where an annual ceremony is held to honour their memory. In 2014, a monument was erected.

A monument to Georgi Suchev, a high-school teacher born in 1928, stands in his native village of Ilindentsi, Strumyani municipality. He was a member of the Gerasim Todorov brigade of Goryani. On the 23rd March, 1948, Suchev was surrounded by militia and blew himself up in the barn in his native village, to avoid being taken prisoner.