"He who goes into battle for freedom never dies
" - H.
Peno Zaikov was one of those youths who, from the first years of the
occupation, dedicated their lives to the service of the people. A strong
youth, of medium height, with upright bearing, with rock hard muscles,
a full life, happy, quick - he was one of the organisers of EPON in
the town of Gumendzha and its surrounds. When a protest meeting had
to be arranged, to collect food and clothing for the partisans, to transport
weapons, he was always among the first to volunteer.
His will was strong as steel, his dedication to good works and his
faith in victory made him the most authoritative and well-regarded youth
in the town. He went from street to street, house to house, to the farms
and orchards - he organised, he provided leadership. He knew how to
inspire the youth, to give them hope, and to give courage to the older
people and the women with stories of the triumphant procession of the
Soviet army and with stories of the attacks by the EPON units against
"Only a little more, comrades. Don't worry. The day of our freedom
is not far off!" he would say.
* * *
December 1943. The Regional Council of EPON arranged conferences. The
young delegates from Kukush and distant Belasica walked barefoot over
the frozen surface of the Vardar River and rushed to get to the scheduled
day of the conference. Despite the harsh terror, the cold and other
hardships from being outlawed, the delegates gathered from all corners
of the Kukush region in the village Livada - situated in the valley
between two peaks of Pajak. The village, being far from the German military
bases, ensured the work of the conference could progress normally.
However, as soon as the second day of the conference, when resolutions
were starting to be made, army groups, led by local traitors, reached
the village from all sides - from Gumendzha, Pazar, Voden, Cabosko.
They surrounded the whole mountain. The few partisan groups fought and
went toward Dzhena. The conference delegates scattered. Those who reached
the partisans, left with them. Those who did not formed a detachment
and fought bravely and opened a path for the remaining ones to escape.
In that harsh and unequal battle, near a thick forest, from which
he shot at the Hitler supporters, Peno fell with the other EPON members.
His young body was covered by the sharp mountain sleet and then he was
covered by a white blanket of snow. A few days later, at night, in the
light of a bright moon, the youths took him and buried him in his own
He did not live to see the elimination of Nazi occupation. However,
his example and dedication to the struggle inspired other youths to
work for democracy and peace in his country, the ideals to which the
brave youth Peno Zaikov dedicated his young life.
From: For Sacred National Freedom: Portraits Of Fallen Freedom