Another great comment by Chergar on his “Vasil Levski’s letter before his death” blog post
One of my most popular publications is “Vasil Levski’s letter before his death”. Although I have explicitly emphasized the nature of the blog I am publishing, this letter continues to be perceived as real and to be used during the commemorations of the memory of the Apostle of Freedom as well as in celebrating the national holiday of Bulgaria – 3rd March. Quotes from this letter, as well as its entire text, are used by journalists, scholars and politicians, public figures and teachers to acquaint their listeners and readers with the ideas of Vasil Levski, as well as to emphasize the correctness of their own ideas and policies, which coincide with the ideas of Levski set out in the letter. The use of historical figures by politicians and public figures is not new as a phenomenon, but in the case of the numerous citation and excerpts of the letter, it is clear that very often this is superficial in order to satisfy any current goals without knowing the ideas and the character of the historical personality which we would like to refer to.
Indeed, for the most part, the letter is composed of Vassil Levski’s true thoughts taken from various letters of his, connected meaningfully, so as to get a highly influential text. I have tried to grasp his language, my aim being to sound authentic and up to date, but not for the letter to be perceived as a genuine authentic document. One of my purposes in creating the letter was to urge people to read and read the true letters of the Apostle, and the other purpose has been to give my own reading of what his thoughts would refer to today. This is one of the early blog posts, it was created in September 2008, and the “letter” was published on 23rd November, 2008. Since then, the letter has been experiencing its own life and has been accepted as a real due to social networks.
Here is a concise “biography” of the letter and its use: The first introduction of the text of the letter in the public media was its reading on the national holiday 3rd March 2009 in Slavi’s Show by screenwriter Ivo Siromahov. He then asked why this letter was not taught at school. From the creation of the letter until 2011, it has been repeatedly re-published in various Internet forums and personal blogs, as well as commented on internet articles and on news sites. On 18th February 2011 the letter was posted on the Gabrovonews website, which states that it was reprinted from the newspaper “Targovski vestnik” /Trade Journal/. The newspaper is weekly and is WPM (WebPostMedia) – Web because the articles are uploaded onto the Internet, Post, because it is sent by mail. The newspaper has one national and 4 regional editions. The publication of the letter in this newspaper was most likely removed later after it became clear that the letter was not authentic. However, it is precisely the publication of the letter on the Gabrovonews site that spread widely on social networks and reached a huge number of its users.
On the 19th February, i.e. one day later, the journalist Martin Karbovski made a kind of literary analysis of the letter, dressed in a reprimand toward the modern Bulgarian society that they have forgotten Levski’s legacy in his “Death letter”. He published an article in the “Standard” newspaper entitled “To the Jackals and the Legacy of the Apostle the Letter before his Death is a Prophecy Sentence to our Nation”. The article was later removed but the text can still be found on the Internet. Disappointed by the growing popularity of the letter, the historian, Dr. Georgi Vladimirov, turned to the Ministry of Culture for help, and as a result, on 28th February 2011 he published an article entitled ““Levski’s Letter before his Death” and Manipulations of Historical Memory by the Methods of Contemporary Virtual Recklessness”. Despite this article, the letter continues to be spread and accepted as real. In Burgas, a group of notaries printed the letter as a poster and circulated it in schools in the area so that the students could get acquainted with it, the letter was placed in the center of the city. The news was reported on SKAT TV on 27th December 2011. Later the news was removed, but remained the testimony of an indignant citizen. These notaries contacted me, and after making sure that the letter was not authentic, they replaced the posters with others which had the Apostle’s quotations taken from his letters. During the February protests in 2013 against the high electricity bills, the poster in question with the pre-death letter appeared among the protesters.
Here is an interesting publication of the same period showing clearly why the letter is used although it’s already clear that it is not authentic, the publication is entitled “How do our GERB Government Feel as They Read Levski’s Words”. It can be said that the text of the letter is already used in political struggles. Another important moment in the life of the letter is the making of a video that was uploaded to YouTube on 19th February 2012, in which the letter was read by the artist Peter Nikolov and sounded really impressive. So far, this video has gathered over 126,000 views and has been shared on other video information platforms. The letter continues to be posted on various sites, even with the official warning that it is not authentic. The letter continues to multiply and a quote from it was even used by President Plevneliev during his speech to the MPs on 18th March 2016. Then he used the words “those who liberate us shall enslave us” as if said by Levski. Thus, he created a scandal in the public space and journalists like Velislava Dureva, Ivo Indzhev, Aleksandar Simov, Academician Georgi Markov, etc. and the Committee Vasil Levski took part. The president’s statement then made the famous TV show “Gospodari na Efira” /Masters of the Air/ work on a special TV report entitled “The President Faked a Quote by Levski”. The discussion on how authentic this quote is was taken on by a number of media. Indicative of the power of the letter is the fact that again on the occasion of 3rd March in DW appeared a report about Bulgaria by Prof. Ivailo Dichev, who also used, as if real, the scandalous quote a year before that.
An interesting aspect of the life of the letter is that it has also been distributed among the Bulgarian schools. The earliest example I know is for the children from the 2nd Primary School “Dimitar Blagoev” from Blagoevgrad. On 21st February 2013 the Children’s Department of Dimitar Talev Library and the 4th grade of the Second Primary School “Dimitar Blagoev” presented a literary and musical composition for the life and activity of Vasil Levski. The occasion for the initiative was the 140th anniversary of the hanging of the Apostle of Freedom. The announcement of the event said: “At the celebration will be sung patriotic songs about Vasil Levski. Levski’s letter to the people written just before his death will be read”. On 19th February 2014 the site Rudozem dnes /Rudozem Today/ published the following piece of news: “Schools in Rudozem Municipality commemorated Levski’s memory. The release also said: “A competition for a drawing and an essay was announced at the high school in the village of Chepintsi and the names of the distinguished students were announced this morning in the big break on the radio point of the school. Besides, some of the most apostolic words of the Apostle, along with his death letter, were read at the background.” On 21st February the Nessebar-news site published an article on commemorating the memory of the Apostle in the schools and kindergartens in the municipality of Nessebar, the following was said: “In St. St. Cyril and Methodius” School in Gyulyovtsa the students recited verses and watched two documentaries about the Apostle – “The Black Legend” and Vasil Levski’s Letter before his Death”. On 17th February 2017 on the 144th anniversary of the hanging of Vasil Levski, the children from the “Rodolubiye” /Love for the Motherland/ Club under the project “Your Hour” at Elisaveta Bagryana School – Sliven presented a program to their classmates, parents and teachers. The media cover of the event said: “The program ended with a reading of Vassil Levski’s Letter written before his death, which amazed all in the audience.” On 18th February 2017 students from the town of Mezdra honoured the memory of the Apostle with a torch procession. During the event Vasil Levski’s letter was read by the actor and reciter Bogdan Dukov. There is also a video of the event.
And the final touch of the life of the letter is the announcement about it on the website of the community center ”Razvitie – 1921”/Development-1921/ in the village of Dubovo from 18th February 2018 on the occasion of the celebration of the memory of Vasil Levski in the pensioners’ club.
This is the story of Vassil Levski’s Letter before his death that I compiled and judging by the above-said I dare say that it will continue to appear periodically in the public space, to be accepted and distributed as real, regardless of the efforts to prove the opposite, namely because it relies on emotions and corresponds to the need for such a letter written by Levski himself or not.
Vasil Ivanov Kunchev – Vasil Levski (1837-1873) is the most prominent representative of the national liberation movement for Bulgaria’s independence from the Ottoman Empire.
Martin Karbovski is one of the most popular TV journalists in Bulgaria.
The official media of the Bulgarian National Populists up to 2011.