Sotir from Krapeshtina

In the autumn of 1946 he was in the Lerin prisons near to the river Sekulova, which divides the town into two. In the yard of the courthouse there are two old and low buildings. One of them is the old Lerin prison and the stables of the horse unit of the Lerin police. At that time the stable was being used as a prison. At that time the prosecutor and the police had a lot of work, persecuting the fighters who fought in the national liberation struggle. They arrested them, they beat them, they tortured them, and they shot them at their own homes, in front of those close to them, and they shoved them into the prisons, in the camps. The old Lerin prison was very narrow. And it was not just the stable but other buildings too were turned into prisons - Tole's tavern, Mangov's tavern, the old tobacco storehouse called "Redzhijata", the yard of the police station and others. But the prisoners had to spend time in all of these prisons before they appeared in any court or were exiled.

One day, when the sun set, when the rays of the sun caressed the peaks of Bigla mountain, the gendarmes set up a 17 year old boy and threw him into our cell from the door. We greeted him as a friend. He had a dark complexion and was a pleasant boy. He told us he had been a partisan with DAG, that he went to work in a village and had been caught. He spoke softly and even though he knew what he faced, he was calm and did not show any anxiety.

In my mind I can still see the silhouette of young Sotir from the village of Krapeshtina, which is on an eastern valley of Vich mountain, south of the town Lerin, and about an hour and half from it.

One day the prison warden sent Sotir outside to throw out the garbage. When he returned he said to me - "I decided to escape. To get over the bridge and to climb up Kalugerica, but I did not manage it. I did not think there was a chance I would succeed."

After a few days the court date was set. On that day his grandmother came from his village. In front of the main gate of the barbed wire enclosed yard he was making a bargain with his lawyer, how many lira it would cost to defend Sotir. His grandmother looked at the courthouse and heaved a sigh and said,

"Eh! Damn you! In Turkish times you devastated us and again we are being devastated." Three or four days passed and Sotir was upright before the military court. The procedure was short and Sotir was sentenced to death.

That day, after dinner, we waited for him to return. At 9.30 the warden opened the door and Sotir appeared together with a gendarme. He came to get his things and to ask our forgiveness [1]. And before he left, he calmly said to us -

"Okay comrades, goodbye, we will not see each other again."

He took his things under his arm and we all said good-bye to him and shook his hand.

The gendarme was furious and cursed him but he, with a calm demeanor and holding his head high, walked with firm steps away from us. The door closed. But he, Sotir, a Macedonian aged 17, stayed in our memories more strongly than death. He left a strong example in the broad boulevard of the struggle for a free, carefree and happy life.

A Hadzhitashkov

[1] Asking forgiveness, ie before his death


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

© 2009

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For Sacred National Freedom: Portraits Of Fallen Freedom Fighters