Friday, October 4, 2013

Georgi Markov RIP

Commander K. and Georgi Markov
"In the Cause of Freedom"

These days it is often chic, particularly in academic circles, to identify oneself with the extreme left.  Millions of people wear Che Guevara T-Shirts and Che, who died in 1967, has over 1.1 million "likes" on Facebook.  Many others enjoy quoting Marx on their social media pages.  Conversely, those few who quote right wing extremists such as Hitler, Goebbels, Franco or Mussolini in their social media are, quite rightly, dismissed as being lunatic cranks.  Don't look for Hollywood's "Motorcycle Diaries" version of Heydrich's life anytime soon.

Commander K. at Church of St. Candida and Holy Cross, Dorset
The strange case of Georgi Markov helps to remind us how foolish nostalgia for communism's faded glory can be.

On a recent cycling tour of Dorset I stopped at the Church of St. Candida and Holy Cross where Georgi Markov is buried.  His tombstone reads, "In Memory of Georgi Ivanov Markov, Novelist, Playwright, Most dearly beloved by his wife Annabel and daughter Sasha, Born Sofia 1/3/1929, Died London 9/11/1978, In the Cause of Freedom."

What is sometimes forgotten is the ruthless brutality with which communists waged the cold War.  Georgie Markov was a distinguished Bulgarian writer.  In 1969 he defected to the West, first to Italy and, later, to London where he worked as a journalist for the BBC and Radio Free Europe.  He married an Englishwoman from Dorset.

Georgi Markov, 1929 - 1978, RIP
In his novel, The Truth that Killed, Markov wrote, "Today, we Bulgarians present a fine example of what it is to exist under a lid which we cannot lift and which we no longer believe someone else can lift...And the unending slogan which millions of loudspeakers blare out is that everyone is fighting for the happiness of the others. Every word spoken under the lid constantly changes its meaning. Lies and truths swap their values with the frequency of an alternating current...We have seen how personality vanishes, how individuality is destroyed, how the spiritual life of a whole people is corrupted in order to turn them into a listless flock of sheep. We have seen so many of those demonstrations which humiliate human dignity, where normal people are expected to applaud some paltry mediocrity who has proclaimed himself a demi-god and condescendingly waves to them from the heights of his police inviolability."

On September 7, 1978 Markov was walking across Waterloo bridge in London about to catch a bus to work when he felt a sudden sharp stinging pain in this thigh  He saw a man with an umbrella fleeing the scene.  He developed a fever and died a few days later.  His autopsy revealed that he had been injected with a lethal ricin pellet in a platinum casing.  Markov, an outspoken critic of communism, had been silenced by the long arm of the KGB.  The umbrella assassin, working for the Bulgarian government, was never brought to justice.

Commander Kelly says, "Georgi Markov was just one of nearly 100 million victims of Communism in the 20th century.  Mao alone accounted for nearly 70 million deaths (see...  Never forget."

Commander K. at the Bottle Inn, Marshwood, Dorset
Travel Notes:  If you would like to visit Markov's grave and see some of the beautiful surrounding Dorset countryside you can hire electronic bikes (very handy on the rolling hills) from Martin at Marshwood Trails (,  Martin also offers guided cycling tours that feature stops at local pubs such as the Bottle Inn ( which, founded in 1585, is the home every summer of the world nettle eating contest!

Special thanks to Toby Pierson for organizing our Dorset cycle trip.

You can get a signed copy of 
America Invades
or regular copies here on


Andrei Dergalin said...

A pretty solid piece, though a sworn commie that I am :D I just couldn't make a few remarks.

1) The ones who actually claim that the dissident was assassinated by the Soviet bloc secret agents were, well, turncoats. Old fashioned as I am, I detest and distrust turncoats. Still, that's just me. Whether it was a KGB assassination or a false-flag op carried out by the West, I honest;y don't know.

2) As I recall, the life in the former Warsaw Pact countries is not exactly all that dandy nowadays. Methinks that instead of blaming everything on the legacy of the communism, a comprehensive study is in order, to determine what's got better and what's got worse in the former Soviet client states after the events of 1989-91.

3) Personally, I've always believed that it was exactly the rivalry of two systems that led to all that progress, both social and technological, that we've observed during the Cold War. What we have today, on the other hand, looks more like stagnation, in my opinion. So I wonder if the potential resurgence of communism, however improbable, would be all that bad.

Commander Kelly said...

Thanks for your comments, my Russian friend!

Very interesting point about the effect on the world of the Cold War rivalry. Certainly it did stimulate creativity and innovation in certain areas such as defence and space technologies. The US needed to pay attention to parts of the world due to the possibility of Soviet infiltration / influence and vice versa.

Personally, I am glad that the days of MAD (mutually assured destruction) and "duck and cover" are gone for our children. One hopes forever.

Peace to you!

Andrei Dergalin said...

As for the Cold War rivalry, it's a very popular theory here.

I mean, Space race turning into a video game console race, that doesn't look like progress to me