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Can't you hear screams rising over the children's corpses?


Димитър Гюдженов, "Оборище"



Much has been written about the April Uprising - about its development, about betrayals, about failure, about the inhuman cruelty of suppression ... but in fact the April Uprising manages to achieve its goal, the great, cherished one - today, the Bulgarian people, all of us, are free. We owe much of this freedom to the self-sacrifice of the apostles and rebels who rose up against the traitors in the spring of 1876. The words "Freedom or death" embroidered on the flags bring together the longing for freedom and the willingness to sacrifice; the rebels, who have already chosen their path, see that these are the only two places he will take them to. However, many know that there is only one way ... and that is where the true courage and strength lies, in dooming oneself to certain doom with the only hope of giving your people a chance for freedom. Many of the apostles and leaders in the uprising later admitted that they had allowed a sad development, but they also knew that this was the only way to achieve freedom - through self-sacrifice, freedom through death. The uprising began with Kableshkov's bloody letter from the Kalachev Bridge in Koprivshtitsa. Despite their incredible bravery and dedication, the rebels failed to overcome in battle the vast Ottoman Empire, many times superior in number and equipment. The uprising was brutally suppressed, but the flame ignited by the great Bulgarians, who laid down their lives at the altar of the homeland, flared up and spread throughout Europe and beyond. But how did the events of the spring of 1876 come about? The death of Vasil Levski in 1873 led to a severe crisis among the revolutionary movement. The unsuccessful attempts to find a replacement for the Apostle, the endless disputes and the withdrawal of Lyuben Karavelov from the movement in 1874 led to a split within the BRCC. Hristo Botev became the head of the Bulgarian Revolutionary Committee (BRC) in a situation of declared bankruptcy of the Ottoman Empire and an uprising broke out in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The genius poet cannot fail to take advantage of another incitement to the Eastern Question. An uprising was planned, as the Bulgarian lands were divided into districts, headed by apostles. However, the time for organization turned out to be insufficient and the so-called Stara Zagora Uprising in September 1875 failed. Desperate for failure, unjustly accused, Hristo Botev took responsibility for the failure and withdrew. A little later, the BRC dissolved itself, leaving the revolutionary movement without leadership.

Some of its members reported the deepening of the Eastern Crisis and began preparations for a new uprising in Bulgaria. They form the so-called Giurgiu Revolutionary Committee, consisting of young, determined figures with revolutionary experience, disappointed by previous fruitless attempts. In November-December 1875, in long meetings, they decided to organize a new general uprising in the spring of the following year. The Bulgarian lands were divided into revolutionary districts, headed by apostles and their assistants. In the first days of the new year 1876, the appointed apostles crossed the Danube and set to work. In the Bulgarian lands a lot of work awaits them, as well as many disappointments. From the very beginning, the planned Sofia district failed, the apostles were captured here or returned to Romania. Not the whole Bulgarian society adopts the revolutionary tactics. Some are afraid of bloodshed, others do not believe that Bulgarians can free themselves. That is why in some places the apostles used various propaganda techniques, such as the rumor that Serbia and Russia were just waiting for the uprising to declare war on Constantinople. The claim that the letter spelling of the year 1876 meant "Turkey will fall" became widespread. In the Tarnovo Revolutionary District, the Chief Apostle Stefan Stambolov shifted the entire organizational burden to the local actors, who were active in the Gabrovo, Sevlievo, Gornooryahov and Tryavna regions, but could not solve the problem of the lack of weapons. In the Second District with the center in Sliven, there are disagreements between the apostles about the tactics, and the local committees insist on guerrilla actions. There are serious omissions in the Third - Vratsa district, where the lack of weapons and coordination is crucial. The apostles were most organized in the Fourth District, mainly in the Rhodope and Sredna Gora villages. The men are conducting military training, preparing warehouses and fortified camps in the mountains. The general meeting of the committees of the Fourth District, held in the Oborishte area on April 14, specified the plan for the uprising and decided that it would break out on May 1. Due to treachery, Turkish troops tried to arrest the chairman of the committee in Koprivshtitsa Todor Kableshkov and on April 20 he announced the uprising, which he informed the surrounding villages with the famous "Bloody Letter". On the same day, Panagyurishte also revolted, and Georgi Benkovski formed his cavalry "Flying Detachment", with which he toured the settlements in the district and raised an uprising. Soon a regular Turkish army and a bashibozuk attacked the insurgent settlements, Strelcha and Klisura were the first to fall, and after four days of fighting, Panagyurishte. The fate of Batak is tragic, where the suppression of the uprising was accompanied by massacres. In Perushtitsa, Kocho Chestimenski and Spas Ginev killed their entire families in order not to fall alive into the hands of the enemy.

By the time the Bloody Letter reached Tarnovo, authorities had already taken action. However, an uprising broke out here, although not on the planned scale. Several detachments were formed, one of which belonged to priest Hariton, who fought a 9-day battle in the Dryanovo monastery. There is no uprising in the true sense in the Sliven region, the apostles form a detachment, which after heavy fighting is surrounded and defeated. The committees in the Vratsa region were hesitant and finally decided to wait for Hristo Botev's detachment. It was initially planned to be led by Panayot Hitov or Filip Totyu, but they refused and the poet took command of the 205 guerrillas. On May 16, they boarded the Austrian ship "Radetski" and soon landed on the Bulgarian coast near Kozloduy, where the immortal campaign of Botev's detachment began. The uprising in the Vratsa region never broke out, the detachment fought heavy battles against its superior enemy. On May 20, under unclear circumstances, allowing for different hypotheses, Hristo Botev was killed. After the death of its duke, the detachment disintegrated into groups, one by one destroyed. At the same time as Botev's detachment, Tanyo Stoyanov's detachment also crossed the Danube, which was destroyed after a heroic campaign. With the defeat of the two detachments, the April Uprising actually ended. It is a challenge to the High Gate and has been suppressed with deliberate cruelty, even outside the rebel areas. Nearly 80 settlements were burned, about 30,000 women, children and men were killed. The last moments of the worthy Bulgarians and the apostles of freedom have remained in our history as an example of true steadfastness and courage, some of which you can get acquainted with in the article "The last moments of the apostles of the April Uprising". The firmness and spirit of the rebels seemed to increase the enslaver's malice. The brutality with which the uprising was suppressed is unprecedented, and despite the Ottoman Empire's attempts to neglect and hide the truth, and as it turned out, some Western countries, it came to light and shocked the whole world at the time. The echo of the April Uprising is considered to be the main reason for the Russo-Turkish war of liberation. But none of this would have happened if the facts had not been made public, thanks to several foreign journalists, including Daily News correspondent Januarius McGahan, whose letters are one of the main ways in which Turkish atrocities took place in Bulgaria. reach the West. McGahan managed to get to the facts and present them to the world so as to reveal the true face of the Ottoman Empire, through which he subsequently contributed immensely to our liberation.



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