Nikola Tchorbadjieff (1900-1994)

Tchorbadjieff was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria on 1 March 1900 – according to the official identity under which he died in Paris in 1994. But his real name was Jossif Sintov and he was born on 23 October 1900. His political activity began when he was high school towards the end of 1916 and it began in the ranks of the Libertarian Youth. In 1918 he was party to the creation of the Bulgarian Anarchist Federation and thereafter of several associations of libertarian persuasion. In June 1923, with the coup d’etat in Bulgaria, he went to ground and took part in the attempted insurrection of 20 September 1923, after the failure of which he fled to France, first to Saint-Etienne and then on to Paris where he found work as a rope-maker and where he founded the Bulgarian group in exile, serving as its treasurer. The group brought out a Bulletin, which lasted for only two issues. His wife Lea Kramener (1899-1982) too was a member of the Jewish anarchist group.

Tchorbadjieff helped Sébastien Faure set up the Librairie Internationale and wrote for the Revue Internationale Anarchiste on Bulgarian matters. Having become a typesetter and a member of the French CGT he was hired by the Brochure Mensuelle where he led a strike to enforce trade union rates. During the Spanish civil war Tchorbadjieff helped write and produce the bulletin Fraternité (only the title was in French) which set itself the goal of rallying all Bulgarians exiled in France to support the Spanish republic. He also represented the Bulgarians in exile on the libertarian-leaning Comité pour l’Espagne. Come the mobilisation for the second world war, and even though he volunteered to serve, he was interned in the camp at Vernet (as an enemy alien) where he found himself in the same hut as the Hungarian writer Arthur Koestler who mentions him in Scum of the Earth. Later he was released and assigned to a regiment.

The armistice found him in the ‘unoccupied zone’ (the Vichy republic) where he was active in the resistance. At the end of the war he stayed in France and participated in meetings of the Bulgarian groups in exile. He served as part of the editorial team on the review Notre Route, a monthly bulletin of news on Bulgaria and he penned some pamphlets on the history of the Bulgarian libertarian movement. In 1979 he was among the founders of the eastern bloc review Iztok, published in Bulgarian and later in French. In 1993, a year before his death, he published another pamphlet: The Causes that Gave Rise to Socialism. The Anarchism of Today and Tomorrow. It was aimed at young Bulgarians.

From: Bollettino Archivio G. Pinelli No 15, Milan, April 2000. Translated by: Paul Sharkey.