Popkostandinov Vangel

Vangel was one of the modest Macedonian fighters killed during the German occupation.

He worked in his own shop as a shoemaker. His shop was in a wide street of Lerin, near to the market. The yard with some trees separated his shop from his house. An old fashioned house with verandah.

At the end of 1943 I spent two nights at his home and I recall how I was shown such friendly hospitality by his family. His mother, his father and his two sisters lived principally from Vangel's work and they had a few vines, which were worked by his old father.

When I met him he was 25 years old. He took part in the Albanian front and once he returned from there he quickly oriented himself because he had to fight against the German occupier. Because of his active revolutionary record he was elected a member of the Lerin town council of EAM and was responsible for the work among the Macedonians in the town.

In the shop he had a spot set aside for old shoes that had been brought in for repair. The villagers also left their bags there on market days. It was there he also collected shoes for the partisans.

In January 1944 a partisan had come from Kajmachkalan and with Vangel's help he bought new shoes and things ended well.

Vangel's shop was one of the cells where outlawed activists of the CPG met, and of the liberating organizations EAM, EPON. They also left banned newspapers there for them to be spread to the villages and the town.

Vangel was a dear man. He had many different clients and a wide circle of acquaintances and friends - Greeks ad Macedonians - who respected him.

In January 1944 in Lerin the Bulgarian fascist army arrived and together with the German armies began operations against the ELAS units. Vangel, as a member of the party, together with his Greek friends actively took part in the battle against both the Germans and the Bulgarian fascists.

On 24 March 1944 in the evening, at the celebration of the Greek national holiday, a heavy snow fell and covered the streets of Lerin. The town slept but Vangel did not. He and his Macedonian friends stuck bills on the walls in Lerin inviting the people to come out against the Nazi occupation and to bring the battle for liberation of our side.

That night other groups of Macedonians and Greeks, members of the CPG, of EAM and EPON, were doing the same thing.

* * *

On the eastern front in the spring of 1944 under the heavy attack of the Soviet army, the Germans left Hitomir and went westwards. It was clear that the Soviet Army along with those in union with it would eliminate the Nazi plague from Europe.

Under the influence of the victory of the Soviet Army, the struggle of the Greeks and Macedonians in the Lerin region widened and got stronger. But the enemy felt its fate was in danger and redoubled its terror. As it was unable to split the Macedonians and the Greeks in their united struggle, it began to torture and shoot them both.

Toward the end of the month of May and the beginning of June 1944 the enemy began mass arrests of Greeks and Macedonian patriots. Vangel was among those arrested along with Nikola Muratidi and Kozma Sehidi, cadres of the illegal patriotic organizations in the town.

Vangel, when the Gestapo asked him for the names of those working with him in the outlawed organizations, kept quiet. They tortured him so that he would reply but still he kept quiet. He gave up no one to the enemy. When they took him to be hanged he was calm and peaceful.

On the street in Bilga mountain above the village Armesko around July 1944 the furious occupiers hanged Vangel with barbed wire along with the friends from whom he was never separated and with whom he worked closely - Kosma Sehidi and Nikola Muratidi together with Mechkarov from the village of Neret and another comrade, a Greek patriot. The day was beautiful. The sun shone and it was warm, the spring was turning into summer. Nature was full of flowers and greenery. The birds sang happily. The friends and relatives of the five hanged men sang mournful songs but at the same time they made a promise to strengthen the battle against the occupiers.

Vangel correctly understood the party line of the CPG for the equal rights of Macedonians and under that watchword he fought and poured his own blood. He fell as a dignified son of the people, a faithful fighter of the CPG giving expression to the unity between the two brother peoples.

A Hadzhitashkov


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

© 2009

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For Sacred National Freedom: Portraits Of Fallen Freedom Fighters