In Bulgarian
Maria Alexandrova, mother of Todor Alexandrov

Read on 18 September 1941 by Kirila Vazvazova on Radio Sofia in the "Heroic Women" programme

"One who falls in the struggle for freedom does not die…" Indeed to great people death brings immortality. Their deeds acquire a deeper meaning and their names shine with the unextinguishable light of eternity. This is particularly true of the fighters for the utmost human good - freedom. Their life becomes a desired ideal, their names - legend and song and their death - true resurrection.

More than two weeks ago was the commemoration of the legendary freedom fighter Todor Alexandrov. The grateful generations expressed their respect and exaltation. On that solemn day the proud Pirin took in thousands of Bulgarian sons who bowed to the grave of the great Bulgarian and swore to remain loyal to his legacy. And in the granite-spririted Shtip, at his birthplace a stone memorial was dedicated which on that day was adorned with thousands of flowers from all of Macedonia. The enthusiastic speeches, the pious prayers and the fighting songs blended with the whisper of the Bregalnitsa to sound like a solemn hymn of the immortality of Todor Alexandrov and many other sons of Shtip. In those minutes his life shone with such light that it overshadowed the memory of the one who gave birth to him. It must not be forgotten that the mother of great people are also great or at least true martyrs and heroines. For Shtip to give birth to so many Macedonian freedom fighters, the women of Shtip must take credit. Because they knew how to love the Fatherland and to sacrifice themselves for its good.

Maria Alexandrova is a clear example of that. Her life was self-sacrifice and exploit, self-denial and suffering. Descended from a rich Shtip family she was early married to the young teacher Alexander Poporushev. This marriage was the decisive turn in her life since she was an alert and intelligent woman and her living with an educated man had the most beneficial influence on her. Her husband was in touch with other young teachers like Dame Gruev and Gotse Delchev and she was early prepared for what would become the meaning of her life. However, death took away her companion in life and she remained alone with seven small children - six daughters and one son. Nobody understood how Maria dealt with the hardships because she was proud and brave and asked for no one's help.
Maria Alexandrova Alexander Popurushev
Todor Alexandrov's Parents - Maria Alexandrova and Alexander Poporushev

Only one hope warmed her suffering heart - that one day Todor will alleviate the burden that weighs on her weak shoulders. This day finally came but the mother heard from her son's mouth words she would never forget. The ardent young man had decided to sacrifice himself for his people by becoming a brigand and when his mother asked him where is he leaving her and his sisters for he looked her in the eyes and firmly said: "Mother, the people need me more…" Maria realised that there is no turning back and that the lot has been cast. She herself had brought him up to love the Fatherland, she had sung folksongs to him and had told him tales about national heroes and fighters. She completely understood her son and suppressed the sorrow that tore her heart and sent him away with blessings.

From that day on she began a new life. Silently and humbly she started on the dificult thorny road chosen by her son. Her house turned into storage for weapons and a hiding place for the brigands. The authorities suspected her complicity with the revolutionaries and threatened her with the gallows to say where the arms have been hidden. When they failed they tried to obtain the information by deceit. Only her courage and cold-bloodedness saved the situation. One night, when she was told that the chetniks are coming to town, she went out to meet her son by herself without thinking of the danger involved. Times were particularly hard at the time of the disarming action when the revolutionary movement was in a crisis and the enemies seized that opportunity. They decided to extract from Maria at all cost information about her son and everything connected with the Organization. One day they stormed into her house and in front of her daughter savagely beat her. However, they had poorly chosen their means of action for they were not aware of the strength of this woman. Every blow made her more adamant and she did not cry or ask for mercy. When the attackers left her daughters and neighbours were terrified to see the traces of the beating on her body but her courage was not broken at all. The enemies saw she was more dangerous than they had previously hought and decided on destroying her and her home. One warm August night the whole town was lit by the flames of a fire. The citizens learned that it is Maria Alexandrova's house that is on fire. Even in this moment she did not lose her nerve. Since the staircase had burned and she knew that she must save her children, they all jumped out of the windows to see the whole house burn.

The scene was heartbreaking and the tragedy inhuman but the whole family took all this with great strength. The next day the authorites again through violence tried to make Maria blame some of her fellow citizens for the fire. Despite the suffering she refused to be an accomplice in uch a crime. She realised that life in Shtip is impossible for her and left for Istanbul. There she learned about the death of her only son. When her relatives lerned th news they were wondering how to tell her because they did not know whether she will take the deadly blow after so much suffering and hardship. They were astonished by her strength. She did not weep or start to curse, only tears ran down her face and the anguish in her eyes gave out the depth of her sorrow. Quietly she said: "He was dearer to God and he took him in but even from there he will work for the freedom of his native land."

Anniversary from Todor's death. Todor Alexandrov's mother, wife and children, and a group of adherents of the IMRO's leader.

After the loss of her son Maria with the family of her daughter Sophia settled in Sofia. In 1934 she died with the halo of a martyr and a hero.

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Translated by Simeon Tsonev