Chapter Twelve

The Life of Georgi Dimitrov – Part I

On Saturday, July 2, 1949, life came to a standstill in Sofia and throughout the whole of Bulgaria. The loud-speakers in every town and village announced that Premier Georgi Dimitrov was dead. In Sofia, outside the Hotel Bulgaria where I was staying, little groups of people wept openly in the streets. The stout, peasant woman who cleaned my hotel room, wept and said, "It seems like he just came home to us and now he's gone forever." The laughing, chattering crowds which take complete possession of the main boulevard in Sofia of a Saturday evening were transformed into subdued little groups of people discussing in hushed voices what would be next in Bulgaria. For a long time Dimitrov had been ill, but his death came like a stunning shock to millions who could not think of New Bulgaria without Georgi Dimitrov at the head.

The following Wednesday I followed along behind the mournful cortege, which bore Dimitrov's body from the railway station where it arrived from Moscow, to the National Assembly where it was to lie in state. Over half a million people, more than the population of Sofia, lined the streets, most of them simple workers and peasants grieving for their leader. For two miles, the yellow-tiled streets were packed with the saddest-looking faces I have ever seen, tens of thousands of them openly sobbing. Drawn by black-cloaked horses, the gun-carriage on which the casket was borne was followed by Dimitrov's widow, Rosa, the two adopted children, Marshal Voroshilov, and Ana Pauker, and members of the Bulgarian Politburo and government. It passed through streets along which Dimitrov led the coal miners of Pernik in their great strike 43 years previously, to demand a living wage from the government. The procession led through the working suburbs where grizzled old men, veterans of some of the earliest stirrings of the Bulgarian labour movement, knelt bare-headed to pay last homage to their leader. Past glittering Turkish mosques, past the old Orthodox Cathedral, and along through the modern part of Sofia, to the National Assembly.

For ten days Sofia mourned. Night and day nothing was heard but the solemn strains of Chopin's Funeral March, Beethoven's Third symphony, the moving Bolshevik Funeral Anthem. The body had been embalmed by Soviet specialists aboard the special train which brought it from Moscow. Fishermen from the Black Sea, tobacco workers from Plovdiv, miners from Pernik, peasants from all over the country came to the capital to file past the .body. For five or six hours they stood in line in the blazing heat, wrinkled old peasants, veterans, who had taken part in strikes organised by the lifelong revolutionary in the early 1900's; who had fought with Dimitrov in the 1923 revolt. There were emotional scenes in the Assembly Hall, where Dimitrov lay as natural as he had been in life, his pale face reposed, his lofty forehead serene.

I had seen him first just twelve months previously when I attended a reception given by Dimitrov to Matyas Rakosi and other Hungarian leaders who had come to Sofia to sign a friendship pact with Bulgaria. Dimitrov then was no longer the robust figure who had hurled defiance at Hermann Goering in the Leipzig trial. He was fragile and his face and whole body seemed to have shrunken. Nevertheless, he was very lively that night and insisted on dancing the xora, with great vigour with some brigaders and shock-workers. The latter in their blue overalls made a strange contrast to the elegant western diplomats all in full dress.

Probably the former royal palace had never housed quite such a gathering before. The stairway to the reception hall was lined with the magnificent scarlet and white uniformed troops of the Guards regiment. At the head of the stairs Dimitrov and other government leaders stood to shake hands with the guests as they arrived. Dimitrov was clad in a simple white duck suit, white shirt buttoned at the collar but without a tie. Both Dimitrov and Rakosi were in great form that evening and both were at some pains to make the brigaders and workers feel at home among the dazzling uniforms and splendour of the generals and the diplomats and their wives. One Western diplomat who has since been expelled from the country for having been involved in an espionage trial, turned to his companion as Dimitrov, jogged by his feet twinkling in the intricate steps of the xora, a brigader girl on each arm and said, "By the look of the 'old man,' we'll soon have one less Communist leader in Eastern Europe to worry about! I wish they all looked as sick."

The day after Dimitrov's death was announced, the Bulgarian Cabinet at a special meeting announced it had decided to erect a mausoleum to house the embalmed body which would be permanently exposed to public view as is that of Lenin in Moscow. Plans had been approved and the leader of the brigaders had pledged that the Mausoleum would be completed by the following Sunday, the day of the state funeral. The clearing of the site and the building of the Dimitrov Mausoleum was a most astonishing feat. A few hours after the communique was issued, little more than 24 hours after Dimitrov's death was announced, work had started on a site in a public park, opposite the Presidium of the Republic. Work started late Sunday night, and by next morning astonished citizens on their way to work could not believe their eyes. An eight feet high wooden fence walled off an area a hundred yards square and through the chinks they could see what seemed to be thousands of brigaders working as in a frenzy, cutting down trees, lopping branches off others, unloading bricks, digging holes, mixing concrete, working at a pace which seemed impossible to maintain. Many of them vowed they would not move from the job until it was finished. They worked night and day, pausing only long enough to snatch something to eat. By Monday evening, the site had been cleared and the foundations for a thirty-five feet high brick building about forty feet square had been dug. The first night there was a furious rainstorm, a couple of inches of rain fell within a few hours, but the brigaders – issued at a moment's notice with waterproofs – did not cease to work. The fire brigade came along and pumped water out of the foundations. Throughout that week, the rain came down in torrents, and in the Western legations, officials rubbed their hands together and said, "There'll be a scandal. They'll never finish it." But they did finish it. While the diplomats were taking up positions at the National Assembly to follow the cortege, brigaders were tearing down the last of the wooden fence, to reveal the simple and beautiful, completed Mausoleum, faced in white limestone, ready to receive the body of Bulgaria's greatest son.

Communist leaders came from all over the world to take their leave of Georgi Dimitrov, whose work was as much for the international working class as for Bulgaria. Communist representatives from twenty-three countries, headed by Marshal Voroshilov from the Soviet Union, took their turns mounting guard alongside the body, as it lay in state in the National Assembly. Not since the death of Lenin had a Communist been so honoured and indeed since Lenin's death, no Communist of such a stature or such prestige in the international Communist movement, had died. Never before were so many top-ranking Communists gathered together, in one place, as in Sofia on Sunday, July 10, the day of the funeral, Voroshilov from the Soviet Union, Ana Pauker from Rumania, Maurice Thorez from France, Wilhelm Pieck from Germany, Luigi Longo from Italy, Pastirides from Greece, Harry Pollitt from England, leaders from every part in Europe, even the secretaries of the parties of Argentina and Venezuela, and Dixon, president of the Australian Communist Party, followed behind the gun-carriage from the Assembly along Tsar Liberator Boulevard, to the Mausoleum. Behind the foreign Communist delegations and the diplomats followed the population of Sofia, swelled by thousands of people from the provinces. Each of the 23 Communist leaders made a five minutes funeral oration, all of them stressing Dimitrov's lifelong fight for the international working class movement. At the end of a five-hour ceremony, while twenty-one guns crashed out a final salute, the red-swathed casket was carried by Voroshilov and members of the Bulgarian politburo, into the crypt of the mausoleum.

Throughout the funeral ceremonies, one important Bulgarian personality was missing, Vasil Kolarov, the closest and oldest friend of Dimitrov, the acting premier and foreign minister of the Republic, did not go to Moscow for the final hours with Dimitrov as did some other members of the politburo; he was not at the station on the Wednesday when the train bearing the body arrived; he did not stand guard at the National Assembly; he did not appear at the Mausoleum for the funeral rites. All the ceremonies were managed by Vulko Chervenkov. Kolarov had suffered a severe heart attack when he received the news of Dimitrov's death, and he was too sick to make any public appearances for several weeks.

Within six months, Sofia was draped in black again and solemn funeral music was broadcast day and night throughout the loud-speakers in the streets. From 6 o'clock in the morning until midnight for three days, crowds of peasants and workers stood in the snow to file past the body of Vasil Kolarov, lying in state in the National Assembly. Kolarov never fully recovered from the heart shocks which followed the death of his comrade. He valiantly carried on his duties as Premier of the Republic to which post he was unanimously elected following the death of Dimitrov. I was present at his last public appearance when he delivered a ninety minute address on the eve of the national elections, on December 17, 1949. He had changed enormously in the six months from when I had previously seen him, at the opening of the first parliament after Dimitrov's death. His normally round, robust face was thin and haggard, but his voice had lost none of its vitality, nor his gestures their vehemence. He spoke at length about the crisis through which the state and Communist Party had successfully passed in connection with the Traicho Kostov plot, and he warned the people and party of the need for vigilance if they were to preserve the great advances they had made. Within three, weeks Kolarov was dead, at the age of 72. Bulgaria and international Communism lost, within six months, two of their greatest figures.

Marshal Voroshilov, deputy premier and one of those who stand closest to Stalin, was sent to represent the Soviet Union at the funeral. Kolarov was buried with the same honours as Dimitrov, a few paces away from the Mausoleum, so that in death as in life, the two friends would remain close to one another.

The lives of these two men, Dimitrov and Kolarov, are so intricately interwoven that it is proper to sketch their biographies together, as they lived, fought and. died together. Their biographies form part of the history of modern Communism and the history of Bulgaria of the twentieth century. Their careers provide a rare example in history of a forty-five years old political partnership which took the two friends in incredible adventures to many corners of Europe together, and led them back to lay the foundations of a new social system in their own country and eventually to die within a few months of each other. Both were foundation members of the Bulgarian Communist Party, both were secretaries of the Communist International (Comintern) in Moscow. Both lived in exile for 22 years, both were serving as prime ministers of their country at the time of their death.

Vasil Kolarov was the elder of the two. He was born in Shumen, not far from the Black Sea, now renamed Kolarovo, in July, 1877, while Bulgaria was still under the Turkish yoke. Dimitrov was born five years later in a village in the district of Radomir in Macedonia, near the present Yugoslav border. Both children grew up in the years when memories of the 500-year-long Turkish occupation were still fresh in their parents' minds. Their bedside stories were tales of the legendary Bulgarian figures, fighters and poets, Christo Botev, Vasil Levsky, Ivan Vassov, and others, who led the Bulgarian rebellion in spirit and with the sword against the Turks. Their heroes were the wild revolutionaries who hid in the mountains, fired the national passions of the Bulgarian people by their deeds in the resistance that eventually led to the nation-wide revolt, which crushed as it was in a sea of blood, provoked Russia into action and the eventual Liberation of Bulgaria from the Turks by the armies of Tsar "Liberator" Alexander.

Young Kolarov and Dimitrov were both active in politics at an early age, Kolarov at school and Dimitrov as soon as he left to work as a printer's apprentice. They both fell under the influence of Dimiter Blagoev, the founder of Bulgaria's Socialist Party, a Marxist theoretician and writer of note, who occupied the first place in Bulgarian left-wing politics for a quarter of a century. At the age of 17, Kolarov, already a member of the Social Democrats, organised a students' revolt against the headmaster of the high school he was attending at Varna. Troops were called out and broke up the students' demonstrations, but the headmaster fled the city and did not return. Kolarov took an active part in left-wing student organisations at Varna University until he was 20, when he was sent abroad by his family to study law in France and Switzerland. Kolarov came from a family with a middle-class background, Dimitrov’s father was a worker.

Dimitrov became secretary of the Printers' Apprentice Trade Union at the age of 18 and joined the Social Democrat Party two years later. That same year in 1902, Dimitrov and Kolarov met for the first time, significantly enough at the conference which laid the foundation for the modern Bulgarian Communist Party. In July, 1902, both young socialists attended the Social Democratic party conference at Tirnovo, in Central Bulgaria, ancient capital of the country. It was at this conference that the party split into Bolshevik and Menshevik groups, or "Narrow" and "Broad" socialist parties as they were called. Kolarov and Dimitrov both supported the leftist faction, the "Narrow" Socialists, and which later became the Communist Party. Kolarov, who in the meantime had returned from Geneva where he had taken his law degree, became "Narrow" party secretary for Shumen and Dimitrov was party secretary at Plovdiv, second largest city in Bulgaria. Within a few years both Dimitrov and Kolarov were elected to the Central Committee of the party, positions which they held without interruption for 40 years.

It is impossible in the short space of one chapter to do more than skip through a few of the more important pages of the lives of these two remarkable men. Dimitrov developed into the tough, courageous workers' leader, who organised and led strikes and was always in the thick of industrial trouble. Kolarov had developed into an intellectual, no less tough or courageous who used his talents as a lawyer to defend the arrested strikers or mutineering soldiers, and who used pen and platform to propagate the cause of the left socialists. In 1907, he attended the international socialist Congress at Stuttgart, together with Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, and other international socialist celebrities. Kolarov supported Lenin's proposal, approved by the conference but later betrayed by the German socialists, to oppose any moves for a new war, to call for a revolt of the workers of all countries which were involved in a future war, to oppose in Parliament military credits for a new war.

Dimitrov at this time had led the successful thirty-five day strike of the miners of Pernik (now Dimitrovo), and was busy with predominantly trade union work, organising miners, tobacco and textile workers. In January, 1910, we find Dimitrov and Kolarov in Belgrade at the first meeting of the Balkan Socialist Confederation. This was formed at Bulgarian initiative to halt the German-backed drive of the Austro-Hungarian Empire towards the Balkans, which later culminated in the Balkan wars of 1912-13 and the first World War. In 1911 the two friends represented the Bulgarian Trade Union movement at an international trade union conference at Budapest.

In the elections of 1913, after Bulgaria had been defeated in the Balkan wars into which Tsar Ferdinand had dragged the country, the Narrow Socialists received their first electoral successes. Seventeen deputies were elected and amongst them Vasil Kolarov and Georgi Dimitrov, the latter at 31, the youngest member of the Bulgarian parliament.

They both made use of their rights as deputies vigorously to denounce the plans being made for entering the coming war on Germany's side and they demanded a policy of neutrality. They opposed every move to drag the country into war and when the war broke out, Kolarov and Dimitrov denounced it as an imperialist war in which the working class should take no part. They denounced equally the German Social-Democrats who betrayed the earlier pledges and supported the war and who even sent delegates to Bulgaria to try and win the Bulgarian Social Democrats over to their viewpoint to support Germany in this war. In 1915 when Bulgaria entered the war on the side of Germany, the Narrow Socialists published a manifesto opposing the decree of mobilisation. Dimitrov was arrested and imprisoned for a year and a half. Kolarov, who was a reserve officer – he had been mobilised in the Balkan war – refused to answer the mobilisation decree, and was also arrested together with most of the members of the Narrow Socialist group, all of whom refused to take part in the war.

They were released, however, and took their places in parliament to oppose on every possible occasion right throughout the war years, any votes for military credits. As a lawyer, Kolarov defended Serbian and Bulgarian deserters and at international conferences in Switzerland and Stockholm, Kolarov remained steadfast to the original resolutions of the Socialist International.

In April, 1917, Kolarov even organised a meeting with German socialists in Berlin, under the Kaiser's nose so to speak, and roundly denounced the Germans for their betrayal of the socialist front. In Stockholm in the same year, Kolarov contacted the Russian Bolshevik leaders who were preparing to put into effect Lenin's resolution at the Stuttgart Conference of 1907, to raise the banner of revolt in the warring countries.

In 1917, one of Georgi Dimitrov's brothers, Nikola, died in exile in Siberia. He had been arrested by the Tsar's police in 1908 for printing illegal revolutionary pamphlets in Odessa and was exiled for life to Siberia. He went to Russia in 1905, the year of the first Russian revolution – the "dress rehearsal" as the Communists call it.

The 1917 revolution in Russia gave a fresh spurt to the activities of the Narrow Socialists. Towards the end of 1918, revolts and mutinies broke out in the Bulgarian Army, strikes in the factories, Dimitrov doing much of the agitational work, Kolarov defending any mutineers who were caught and brought before the tribunals.

Dimitrov was arrested again together with a large number of Pernik miners in a demonstration to celebrate Dimitrov's release from jail. The miners created a diversion which set Dimitrov free from the police, but the miners' leaders were arrested and brought to trial with Kolarov as their defence lawyer. In one of his greatest victories at the bar, he managed to have the lot acquitted due to "lack of evidence."

In 1919, the "Narrow" Socialists decided to transform their party into the Bulgarian Communist Party – the second after the Bolshevik Party to do so. Kolarov was elected secretary and he, Dimitrov, and other prominent "Narrowists," Kabakchiev and Maximov, were named as delegates to the Second Congress of the Comintern. Dimitrov and Kolarov set out in one fishing smack, Kabakchiev and Maximov in another, to cross the Black Sea to Odessa, and on to Moscow. The boat in which Dimitrov and Kolarov were sailing, however, was blown on to the Rumanian coast in a storm, and both were arrested by the Rumanians and charged with espionage. Eventually they were released and deported back to Bulgaria, too late for the Comintern meeting.

In the elections of 1919, the newly-formed Bulgarian Communist Party won one quarter of the votes and were allotted 47 seats in the Sobranje, in which the peasant leader Stamboulisky had a clear majority. It was a notable victory for the Communists and worth remembering in the West where Communism in Bulgaria is so often represented as something which the Soviet Army brought with them when they liberated the country in 1944. In the next elections, at the end of 1921, the Communists increased their seats to 51. (Even in 1931, the Communists gained 31 seats, in 1933 they won the Sofia municipal elections.)

The period from 1919 to 1923 is one about which the Bulgarian Communist Party is not too happy. Georgi Dimitrov was very critical about this period in the mammoth political report which he presented in a six-hour speech to the Fifth Congress of the B.C.P. in December, 1948. This report, presented six months before he died, must be regarded as Dimitrov's political testament and is an authoritative and unvarnished history of the Bulgarian Communist Party.

Stamboulisky in 1920 rejected the idea of co-operation with the Communist Party. He did not invite the Communist Party to join his Cabinet although he had discussions with Kolarov before he picked his government. But it seems also that the Communists did not want to have anything to do with Stamboulisky either. Stamboulisky was the man of the Agrarian Union and, as Dimitrov points out, the Communist Party had made grave errors in overlooking the role of the peasants, in neglecting them in fact. They had concentrated on the industrial workers as the more advanced politically, and had created no mass liaison with the peasants. The Communists had other reasons to be piqued with Stamboulisky. They warned him time and again of an impending fascist coup against him. At first he listened and took measures which the Communist leader – in those days still Dimiter Blagoev – proposed. The Tsarist White Russian army of General Wrangel, 20,000 strong, had been given refuge on Bulgarian soil, and the reactionaries hoped to make use of Wrangel and his men. The Communists demanded, and Stamboulisky eventually agreed with them to disperse, disarm and expel Wrangel's troops. This was done and danger averted for a short time. Soon the Communists claimed they had definite proof of preparations for an armed coup, and they demanded that arms be issued to the workers of Sofia. This was turned down by the peasant leader, on the grounds that there was no proof of an imminent coup.

(In 1921 Dimitrov and Kolarov went to Moscow for the Third Congress of the Comintern, Kolarov was elected to the five-man presidium of the Congress, and the following year was made general secretary of the Comintern. Apart from attending various conferences in Europe, he remained in Moscow at his Comintern offices, until the events of June, 1923, in Bulgaria.)

On June 9, 1923, the Fascists struck against Stamboulisky and his Agrarian Union government. Led by Professor Tsankoff, and helped by reactionary army officers, they quickly dispersed government resistance. Stamboulisky was hunted down like an animal, and on June 13, was literally cut to pieces. The Communists stood aside, as Stamboulisky had refused their help and disregarded their advice. Kolarov was in Moscow at the Comintern, Dimitrov and a few other militants were in a minority in the party leadership at home. Blagoev, the leader, demanded that the party adopt a neutral attitude.

In his "Political Report," Dimitrov comments: "The ill-fated policy of neutrality (in June, 1923) was excused by lifeless doctrinaire considerations completely alien to the reality and to revolutionary Marxism. The party leadership maintained... since the peasants were not yet ready to fight for a workers-peasants' government, they would not follow the appeal of the Communist Party for an uprising against fascism."

Kolarov in a radio broadcast from Moscow immediately denounced the Communist Party attitude, asked for and received permission to leave the Comintern and return to Bulgaria. On June 23, he arrived secretly at Varna, having crossed the Black Sea in a motor boat from the Soviet Union. Unfortunately for his comrades, he was arrested by Tsankoff's police, aboard a Sofia-bound train. While Tsankoff sought out and crushed the remaining armed opposition to his coup and consolidated his forces, Kolarov sat in jail for 40 days. At the beginning of August he was released, for lack of evidence of any crime committed.

He immediately went to Sofia and the day after he arrived, he took part in a meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. With the support of Dimitrov he demanded that (a) the decision to remain neutral be rescinded; (b) that the party establish closest contact with the remnants of the Agrarian Union, and if necessary start a revolution against the Tsankoff government; and (c) that the party work for the setting up of a workers-peasants' government. A resolution to this effect was accepted by the Central Committee and a special Committee was set up to make the technical and military preparations for an armed insurrection. Kolarov's views at this meeting had the weight of the Comintern's approval behind them, but were still opposed by some members of the Central Committee, including, it is believed, Blagoev. Kolarov asked the Comintern to extend his period of leave so that he could remain with Dimitrov to help with the revolt.

A revolutionary committee of three was set up, including Dimitrov, Kolarov and Gavril Guenov. September 23rd was set for the outbreak. Secret committees were set up throughout the country, arms which had long been hidden away were distributed. Early in September, the leaders were warned that Dimitrov and Kolarov and the whole Central Committee were to be arrested, so they all went "underground." On the 20th September members of the revolutionary committee for Sofia district were arrested by the police. Someone had betrayed the plans, the police scoured the country for Dimitrov and Kolarov, who by this time had been publicly named as the leaders of the impending revolt. On September 22, the insurrection broke out as planned, but Tsankoff's troops and police were well prepared. The insurgents seized many towns and districts, but were soon crushed. After six days of severe fighting, Dimitrov and Kolarov led the remnants of their battered forces across the frontier into Yugoslavia. Both were sentenced to death in absentia, both remained outside Bulgaria for 22 years, when they returned within two of months of each other, at the end of 1945. During the fighting and in the executions which followed, 30,000 workers, peasants and intellectuals lost their lives.

The September revolt remained a much discussed episode in the stormy history of the Bulgarian Communist party. It cost the death or exile of many of the party's best members, including the death of another of Georgi Dimitrov's brothers, Todor, who was captured by the police and was put to death after the most horrible tortures. Dimitrov's youngest sister Elena was hounded by the police for 2 years until she eventually escaped to the Soviet Union where she met and married another Bulgarian Communist who fled to the Soviet Union after the massacres of 1925. His name was Vulko Chervenkov, now Prime Minister of Bulgaria and secretary general of the Communist Party.

Opinion on the correctness or otherwise of the revolt provided material for splits within the party for years to come, although the Comintern, Blagoev and members of the Central Committee who remained in Bulgaria, approved the uprising as the only possible course after the mistakes made in declaring for "neutrality" during the June coup. Blagoev died in May, 1924; leadership of the Party was transferred abroad.

Kolarov returned to his post at the Comintern and Dimitrov went to Vienna to set up a bureau of the B.C.P. abroad, comprised of party exiles. With Comintern approval, Kolarov and Dimitrov called off further direct revolutionary activity in Bulgaria and asked those party leaders who were able to remain within the country to start from the bottom again and concentrate on organising workers and peasants in the legal struggle for improving their day to day life. This sage advice was disregarded, the leadership inside the country fell for the clever plot of an agent provocateur, an employee of the French Deuxieme Bureau (Secret Service) and in 1925, exploded a bomb in the Sofia Cathedral, at a moment when Tsar Boris should have been inside. The French officer obligingly telephoned Boris to remain at home that afternoon. Terrific reprisals were started immediately against the workers, another 20,000 of whom were slaughtered. These Communists that escaped the September uprising were caught in the 1925 massacre which the Sofia Cathedral attentat provoked. Leadership of the party after that was concentrated almost exclusively abroad until a party nucleus could be painfully and slowly re-established again inside the country. A Central Committee continued to meet abroad almost every year in Vienna, Moscow or Berlin, with Dimitrov and Kolarov always occupying the dominant roles in fighting against the defeatism which spread through theparty after the double tragedies of 1923 and 1925.

The lessons of 1923 had not been lost on Dimitrov. On his initiative in 1942, the Fatherland Front was founded inside Bulgaria, a union of workers and peasants organisations, embracing every member of the community, prepared to take up arms against the Nazis and the Bulgarian Fascists, it was later to become the basis for all political activity in Bulgaria.

Kolarov returned to Sofia on September 9, 1945, Dimitrov two months later. After all, the trials and perils they had been through, not the least of which were living through the war years in the Soviet Union, they returned to their native land where Dimitrov had been sentenced three times to death and Kolarov once to death and to two prison sentences, each of fifteen years. Their fortunes had changed. The Bulgarian Communist Party had regained its great prestige among workers and peasants by its tireless struggle against the Germans and by its leadership in the revolt in 1944. There were still many able Communists left in the country, some of them released from gaols in which they had been held since 1923 and 1925. Dimitrov at first became President of the Republic, but later Premier with Vasil Kolarov as Foreign Minister. In 1946, the two friends and revolutionaries, who beat a fighting retreat from their country 23 years previously, were firmly back in the saddle after completing a revolutionary cycle of which history yields few similar examples.

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