Zaikov Peno

"He who goes into battle for freedom never dies…" - H. Botev

Peno Zaikov was one of those youths who, from the first years of the occupation, dedicated their lives to the service of the people. A strong youth, of medium height, with upright bearing, with rock hard muscles, a full life, happy, quick - he was one of the organisers of EPON in the town of Gumendzha and its surrounds. When a protest meeting had to be arranged, to collect food and clothing for the partisans, to transport weapons, he was always among the first to volunteer.

His will was strong as steel, his dedication to good works and his faith in victory made him the most authoritative and well-regarded youth in the town. He went from street to street, house to house, to the farms and orchards - he organised, he provided leadership. He knew how to inspire the youth, to give them hope, and to give courage to the older people and the women with stories of the triumphant procession of the Soviet army and with stories of the attacks by the EPON units against the occupier.

"Only a little more, comrades. Don't worry. The day of our freedom is not far off!" he would say.

* * *

December 1943. The Regional Council of EPON arranged conferences. The young delegates from Kukush and distant Belasica walked barefoot over the frozen surface of the Vardar River and rushed to get to the scheduled day of the conference. Despite the harsh terror, the cold and other hardships from being outlawed, the delegates gathered from all corners of the Kukush region in the village Livada - situated in the valley between two peaks of Pajak. The village, being far from the German military bases, ensured the work of the conference could progress normally.

However, as soon as the second day of the conference, when resolutions were starting to be made, army groups, led by local traitors, reached the village from all sides - from Gumendzha, Pazar, Voden, Cabosko. They surrounded the whole mountain. The few partisan groups fought and went toward Dzhena. The conference delegates scattered. Those who reached the partisans, left with them. Those who did not formed a detachment and fought bravely and opened a path for the remaining ones to escape.

In that harsh and unequal battle, near a thick forest, from which he shot at the Hitler supporters, Peno fell with the other EPON members. His young body was covered by the sharp mountain sleet and then he was covered by a white blanket of snow. A few days later, at night, in the light of a bright moon, the youths took him and buried him in his own village.

He did not live to see the elimination of Nazi occupation. However, his example and dedication to the struggle inspired other youths to work for democracy and peace in his country, the ideals to which the brave youth Peno Zaikov dedicated his young life.

P Galubov


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

© 2009

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