This book is dedicated to my father Tane Lazar Naumov
and to all the known and
unknown lost fighters-heroes
from the Lerin region, who sacrificed their precious lives for
ethnic and social freedom

The Author


I dedicate the book "Lerin in Blood and Mourning" to my father Tane Lazar Naumov, who is most deserving of this memoir-album being written. All of the details used have been taken from his memoirs and autobiography. From the carefully collected details, the number of participants and the lost fighters from the Lerin region can be arrived at, along with the village from which each came.

Tane Lazar Naumov was born in Dolno Kotori - Lerin region of Aegean Macedonia - in 1907. His father was Lazar Naum Dinev and his mother Menka Trpcheva, both of the same village. From a young age he was filled with a restless and revolutionary spirit.

Tane Lazar Naumov, 1946, Bitola.

After his father Lazar Naum Dinev and grandfather Naum Risto Dinev were killed by the Turkish Bashibozuk army in 1912, he was a fatherless boy of five years of age. Because of their deep poverty, his mother Menka was obliged to remarry into the village Gorno Kotori, to Miti Mitskov.

Tane remained with his grandmother Marija, his sister Dzvezda and his younger brother Kosta. Marija was obliged to look after her three grandchildren on her own and they lived in deep poverty. As a consequence of their poverty and hunger, Tane was obliged to earn from the age of five, taking the cattle belonging to a better-off village to graze. At first he took the cattle of close relatives to graze, in exchange for a crust of bread. When he was older, together with older villagers he began to go for wood. With the first gathered wood pile that he sold, he held money in his hands for the first time and his family was happy and celebrated. When he grew older, he got involved in politics and in 1933 became a member of the Communist Party of Greece (KPG).

From 1937 to 1939 as a volunteer he participated in the international brigade of the Spanish Civil War, first as a sailor with the trading ships "Stanuel" and "Margitte" he transported food and weapons for the fighters, and after the ships sank under fire from the fascist German and Italian planes, he joined the infantry brigades. Together with the Spanish revolutionaries he fought to ensure the freedom of the Spanish people, which at the elections had voted in the communists.

Shoulder to shoulder, they bravely fought against the fascist forces of General Franco, who were supported and assisted by the fascist forces of Italy and Germany. After the great bloody battles, the Civil War was suppressed with the help of the imperial forces put together by the capitalist countries of the world.

The withdrawal of the imperial forces was undertaken through various channels with the aim that they would safely return to their homes. In that time, Tane found himself close to the French border and together with a large number of others who fought with him crossed the Pyrenees and entered French territory, saving his life.

After the occupation of France by Fascist Germany Tane was captured by the Germans and interrogated. When they learned that he had been a volunteer fighter in the ranks of the international brigades he was interred in Germany in the camp "Rosh Rum."

Tane in Poland when he left prison.

On 5.5.1943, Tane managed to escape the camp with great difficulty, and returned to his native village. The leadership of KPG was informed of his return. He was co-opted as secretary by the Lerin Regional Committee. The entire duration, he participated in the battles that were led by ELAS against the fascist forces of Germany and her allies Italy and Bulgaria.

After the withdrawal of the German forces, together with his people he continued to fight against the monarcho-fascist regime which governed Greece at that time. As an experienced fighter he was co-opted as an organizing secretary of NOF for the Lerin region. He organized the people into massive participation in the ranks of the National Liberation Front (NOF) and Democratic Army of Greece (DAG). Along with his people, he remained to fight to that last day of the Civil War in the ranks of NOF and the armed forces of DAG until 1949.

After the final destruction of the armed forces of DAG, he was obliged to escape to Albania along with a number of fighters from the DAG units. At night on a loaded ship Tane and a large number of his fellow fighters were taken from Albania to Poland. At the time of the Informbiro [the Yugoslav name for the Soviet Union's Cominform] he and other well known Macedonian cadres of NOF were accused of being pro-Macedonian and pro-Tito.

To defend itself against the destruction that they had been through, the leadership of KPG had to sacrifice someone and who else if not the Macedonian political cadres. To that end, the Communist Party of Greece, with much help from the Communist Party of Poland, achieved its goal to accuse and gaol a large number of the cadres from NOF, among whom was Tane. He was sentenced to seven years in prison; but the prisons of the Socialist countries did not serve to reform and rehabilitate prisoners, rather to morally, psychologically and physically ruin them. At that time, all Socialist prisons were the same.

After the death of Stalin, Tane, having served five years in a strict prison, had his sentence reduced by two years.

Following the improvement in relations between the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia and the Socialist Republic of Poland, and after getting a visa, he returned to Macedonia. Instead of returning immediately to his family in Bitola, he was kept in the prison Idrizovo in Skopje. He was interrogated there for three days and nights as to whether he happened to be a spy for the USSR or SR Poland. Until his death, Tane asked himself: "Were those three days and nights of mistreatment in the prison of Idrizovo a game of destiny or of politics?"

In August 1956 he was freed and reached his family in Bitola. He found his wife in poor health and in the care of welfare services, and with the help of the 1,200 dinari she had she had been able to buy only 25 kilograms of flour.

Tane, when he saw the poor health and poor circumstances of his family at once signed up with the employment office to find whatever work was available.

At that time work could be found for anyone but not for Tane! Daily he was forced to seek work in the employment office and many times to seek help from the committee of the communist union but even they just promised and promised, but still nothing. No work was found for Tane at all.

Fortunately, even though he did not have much education, he wrote and read well, and had an excellent memory. From a very young age he recalled all details, dates and persons whom he had met in his turbulent life. One day by chance in Skopje he met Kiril Kjamilev, a fellow fighter in the Spanish Civil War. The two old fighters from the international brigade immediately recognized each other.

Thanks to Kiril, who referred his case in Belgrade to the union of old fighters, he received recognition and a symbolic award in the nature of a pension of 6,000 dinars. It was not a lot but to Tane is seemed much greater because he had found someone to recognize his service, even though it was not from Macedonia, but from fighters unknown to him from the International Brigade of the Spanish Civil War.

Tane Lazar Naumov was born in the village Dolno Kotori, Lerin region, Aegean Macedonia and died in Bitola on 27 April 1977 and is buried in the cemetery of the church Sveta Nedela.

During his life he received a number of awards including:
- Jubilee Award for Yugoslav Volunteer Fighters in the Spanish Civil War 1956, Belgrade;
- From the Union of Fighters of Yugoslavia for Volunteers in the Spanish Republican Army 1956, Belgrade;
- Brotherhood and Unity Silver Wreath Ukazom number 197 of 07.12.1963. This award was from FNRY;
- Silver Star award for services to the people. Ukazom number 197 of 07.12.1963. This award was from FNRY [Federated People's Republic of Yugoslavia];
- Voluntarios Internacionales de la Libertad, an award from the City of Zagreb 30.10.1966;
- Two awards given for participation in the Spanish Civil War from 1936-1939;
- Bravery Award, given by the President of the SFRY [Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia] numbered 98 from 19.07.1974.

< Return to Index or Next Chapter >

Lerin in Mourning