Journalist Bogdana Lazarova, who is a screenwriter and director, finds three photos of the policeman from the time after 1944 and people who remember him
Tsarist policeman Nikola Geshev, head of department “A” – the political police that prosecuted the then illegal Bulgarian Communist Party, lived until his death in 1970 in Bulgaria. He was a teacher in the Pazardzhik village of Vinogradets – this sensational version is presented by investigative journalist Bogdana Lazarova in her author’s documentary for BNT.
It is in two parts of 54 minutes – “Gesheva’s Web” and “Gesheva’s Riddle”, and starts from the date of the police chief’s disappearance – September 9, 1944. In the film, witnesses speak who remember him from the time after that until his death his.
Bogdana Lazarova tells “24 Chasa” how she got to the trail of Geshev.
– Mrs. Lazarova, what happened to the royal policeman Nikola Geshev? The version you show in your film is radically different from anything known so far.
– Nikola Geshev was last seen on September 9, 1944. And he disappeared. There are three main versions of his fate after that.
The first – that he was killed at the border in the Svilengrad region while trying to escape to Turkey on September 9, 1944. Then it turned out that this version was invented by State Security. The biggest confirmation is that the DS itself is looking for him all over the world in the “Aries” file.
The second, that he was killed at Kuklen Cheshma south of Plovdiv on September 9, 1944. Judging by the search for him, this version is obviously not true either.
The third is that he survived. And here the rumors send him all over the world – Turkey, Egypt, the USA, Canada, Argentina and Brazil, but most often in Munich, where it is said that
finished his life in a guarded estate
State security kept his relatives under surveillance and checked any rumor about his whereabouts. And they all turned out to be false. Thus, after 20 years of searching in 1960, the DS ended the search because no information could be found about him.
According to the facts that I present in the film with many testimonies of people who remember him from the time after 1944, three photos of him that I found from that time, graphological analysis and facial recognition, Nikola Geshev did not leave Bulgaria. All the time he lived in the Pazardzhik village of Vinogradets and worked as a primary school teacher. During all the 26 years he lived there, he did not have a house or property, he lived first in the dormitory attached to the school, then in a rented house. He died in 1970 and was buried in the village. He brought with him a woman as his wife, who, however, had no contact with anyone. Immediately after his funeral, 3 cars arrive in the village and take her somewhere. I discovered that she was taken to the home for people with mental disabilities in the village of Bistrilitsa, Berkovitsa municipality, then Mihailovgradsko, now Montana region, where she died 8 years later.
– What is Geshev’s web, as you titled the first series of your documentary?
– This is his network of agents, with whom he worked and achieved such success, because of which they still say that he is the #1 policeman in Bulgaria. As we know, he had agents high up in the Central Committee of the illegal Bulgarian Communist Party, and twice broke that Central Committee. It is known that with his 196 personal agents only he kept in touch and only he knew their names. It is said that among them are the leaders of the communist state – Todor Zhivkov, Traicho Kostov, Mircho Spasov, Tsola Dragoycheva. There are even doubts that Grigor Shopov, Todor Zhivkov’s right-hand man and irreplaceable head of State Security for 30 years, was his agent. According to the participants in the film, Nikola Geshev worked with at least 2 foreign intelligence agencies – the British and the Soviet. He undoubtedly had a wealth of information. Ever since the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943, he was aware of the turn in the course of the war and knew what would happen in Bulgaria.
He had more than a year to organize his disappearance
and its legend. His archive has not been found to this day.
– What is his mystery that you reveal in the second series?
– Actually, there are two mysteries. The first is what happened to him after his disappearance on September 9, 1944. This is already understood from my journalistic investigation in the film. However, the second and more important mystery is where his archive is and whether the leaders of the communist state were really his agents. It remains undiscovered. If one day it is found out who his agents are and it is confirmed that these heads of state were his agents, it would rewrite the history of Bulgaria.
– Where are his archives, did you get to them?
– People in the film claim that he took his archive out as early as July 1944 and sent it to the British Embassy in Turkey, where the archive remained for 4 years until 1948. Then Kim Philby came on assignment to the embassy and found the archive his. Before sending him to London, he passes him to Moscow, where they act with lightning speed and recruit all his agents. However, I think it’s possible that he didn’t have exactly the kind of archive that we imagine, since it was all in his head and he alone knew the names of all his agents. That is precisely why he himself is of interest to the DS.
– Who is the woman next to Geshev?
– This is another of the mysteries in this film. They both lived under false names. I checked in the registers of 3 municipalities and even in the church registers – no children were born with such names and there are no records of such persons. While Geshev has arrived with an appointment from Prosveta in Plovdiv
under the false name of daskal Vasil Salamanov,
there is absolutely no information about the woman who is listed in the death certificate as Vasilka Salamanova. Even the people of the village did not know her first name – they called her Salamanitsa. And she did not contact anyone and did not leave the house. He should be from Peshtera, but there is no information about such a person there. Its identification is very difficult. There are certain coincidences and it could be that he managed to save his wife Veselina Gesheva and take her with him. The death certificates of Nikola and Veselina Geshevi were issued more than 20 years after their disappearance in 1944, based on missing persons lawsuits.
– What provoked you to start looking for information about the policeman?
– In fact, I know that he has stayed in Bulgaria for 12 years. Even then, a person told me that in 1968 he traveled on the train Sofia – Stara Zagora in the same compartment with this person, whom he claimed was Geshev, who got off at Pazardzhik station. At the time it sounded like fiction to me. Last year I decided to check this version and luckily for me I found living people who remember him and tell about him and his wife. He took care not to be photographed and not to write anywhere, not to have his handwriting in the school books so that he would not be recognized. But I managed to find his signature and 3 photos in two places.
– Which of everything you learned along the film surprised you the most?
– Initially, I wanted to delay the film and organize a comparative DNA examination of kinship, which would prove 100% whether the teacher Salamanov and Nikola Geshev are the same person. It turned out that the exhumation does not have any legal regulation and is done only by order of a prosecutor in the presence of pending pre-trial proceedings, which in this case there is none, or at the request of heirs, which the daskal under his false name did not have. Such an examination could only be done if the state decides to check all the facts I have collected and find a way to carry out the check.