Belcho Hristo (Taki)

Hristo Belcho - Taki, as is told about him, was born on 19 October 1921 in the village of Pilkati, Kostur region to a poor and large family.

His father, chicho-Pando, an ordinary and hard working man, from his earliest years became fully aware of the hard battle for a crust of bread, the back breaking work of the farm worker and the timber getter. He traveled overseas, to America, to France and Argentina so that he could ensure that his family could eat but he returned as poor as he was when he left.

The progressive ideas of his father who had traveled a lot and seen many things were deeply received by then 10 year old Taki, who was hungry to learn other histories than the stories told by his mother and his grandmother.

Taki completed his primary school in 1935. His teacher was Sanida Georgo a young man from Lamija with progressive ideas and democratic convictions. Even though he had strict orders not to permit the children to speak Macedonian, he learned the Macedonian language from the old grandmothers - even better than he could from the students. Sanida planted into the enthusiastic soul of his student a love of learning, his motherland and the people. He liked Taki a lot for the wisdom with which he thought. He often said to chich-Pando that he should be sent to Kostur to high school. That was Taki's wish. However poverty forced him to enter a different school more difficult than the ordinary schools - the school of the harsh battle for a crust of bread to eat. His parents sent him to Athens to work in his uncle's shop. Taki took with him a few things and a stale loaf of bread, slung his bag over his shoulder and set off on the big journey.

"May God and Mary, Mother of God, be with you son! Look after your health, work honestly and be careful of bad people. Don't spend your money because you have many sisters to be married off," said his bitter mother with tears in her eyes, as she saw him off.

Taki worked in Athens for two years or so from 1935 to 1937 in his uncle Sotir's shop. It was during this time that he saw how difficult it was to earn a crust even in Athens. He met many working youth, and became friends with them. He was amazed at the way they thought. He walked around Athens with those youths and was not slow to learn that in essence there were two Athens: the Athens of the rich and the Athens of the poor. For the first time he read newspapers and magazines. For the first time he read, in secret, a strange newspaper that his friends gave him. It was not very big, not like the other newspapers in Athens with large letters and eye-catching headlines, with cartoons and thousands of photographs. It was a small newspaper with light headlines in a small font. From the headlines and the content he learned that it was the organ of the CPG, the voice of the worker, of the working class of Greece.

When he returned to his village, to his parents, Taki was a different person, mature and experienced.

After the fall of the Albanian front, the great epic story of the national struggle began. The youth of Greece answered the call to the struggle. This was the start of the battle operations and the stirring of passion in the youth.

In April 1943, two months later, EPON was founded. He joined its ranks and became one of its most active members and cadres. Because of his organizational abilities he was elected secretary of the regional committee of EPON in the village of Gramos, Kostur region.

In October 1943 he became a member of CPG and was elected a member of the Kostur regional committee of EPON and worked as an EPON activist. In November 1044 he was elected the secretary of the regional committee of CPG in Nestramsko, where he worked tirelessly until he was killed.

There is no village in the western part of Kostur that would not know Taki, the warrior of Gramos with broad shoulders and big eyes. A popular face, a real son of the people. He was so well liked by the people that the grandmothers and grandfathers called him "son" while the younger people called him "brother". Mothers would go to him to seek comfort about when the plunderers, the fascists, those who killed the children and destroyed the villages would be wiped out.

He was always happy, smiling and he knew how to speak to each mother who was handing her son over to ELAS, to fathers who had heard the bitter news of the death of a son. With simple but persuasive words he attracted the youth to join the struggle to eliminate the conqueror.

After the Varkiza agreement a terror campaign began: arrests, exile to the barren islands, killings. The traitors and collaborators of the occupiers with the support of the British continued their operations, they rained terror on the people, they burned villages to the ground, they persecuted the honourable patriots. The reaction from Kostur was a plan to destroy the best sons of the people. Accordingly on 14 September 1945 a police detachment arrested Taki, tortured him inhumanely and left him half dead. However, even after that, Taki continued to work tirelessly. He went from village to village to give courage to the people.

On 22 December 1945, in the early morning he was caught together with the brave communist of ELAS, Pando Vlahov, who was from the same village. About 40 gendarmes descended into Kalevishta. And after they put them to inhuman torture, they rounded them into the village square of Kalevishta, where, in the night, on 23 December 1945, because of the terrible torture they had endured, the two fearless communists died.

M Ranti


From: For Sacred National Freedom: Portraits Of Fallen Freedom Fighters

© 2009

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For Sacred National Freedom: Portraits Of Fallen Freedom Fighters