Nikola Vaptsarov

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Nikola Vaptsarov
Никола Вапцаров
Vaptsarov during his time in the Varna Naval Machinery School
Vaptsarov during his time in the Varna Naval Machinery School
Born(1909-12-07)7 December 1909
Bansko, Ottoman Empire (today Bulgaria)
Died23 July 1942(1942-07-23) (aged 32)
Sofia, Bulgaria
Occupationpoet, activist of the communist resistance
Notable worksMotor Songs

Nikola Yonkov Vaptsarov (Bulgarian: Никола Йонков Вапцаров; 7 December 1909 – 23 July 1942) was a Bulgarian[1] poet, communist and revolutionary.[2][3][4] Working most of his life as a machinist, he only wrote in his spare time. Despite the fact that he only ever published one poetry book, he is considered one of the most important Bulgarian poets. Because of his underground communist activity against the government of Boris III and the German troops in Bulgaria, Vaptsarov was arrested, tried, sentenced and executed the same night by a firing squad.


He was born in Bansko.[5] Trained as a machine engineer at the Naval Machinery School in Varna, which was later named after him.[6] His first service was on the famous Drazki torpedo boat. In April and May 1932, Vaptsarov visited Istanbul, Famagusta, Alexandria, Beirut, Port Said, and Haifa as a crew member of the Burgas vessel.

Later, he went to work in a factory in the village of Kocherinovo – at first as a stoker and eventually as a mechanic. He was elected Chairman of the Association, protecting worker rights in the factory. Vaptsarov was devoted to his talent and spent his free time writing and organizing amateur theater pieces. He got fired after a technical failure in 1936. This forced him to move to Sofia, where he worked for the state railway service and the municipal incinerating furnace.[7] He continued writing, and a number of newspapers published poems of his. The "Romantika" poem won him a poetry contest.

Over time, Vaptsarov absorbed a lot of Communist ideas and started taking an active part in the ideological movement.[8] In 1940, he participated in the so-called "Sobolev action," gathering signatures for a pact of friendship between Bulgaria and the USSR. The illegal activity earned him an arrest and an internment in the village of Godech. After his release in September 1940, Vaptsarov got involved with the Central Military Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party. His task was to organize the supply of guns and documents for the communist resistance. He was arrested in March 1942. On 23 July 1942, he was sentenced to death and shot the same evening along with 11 other men.

Literary works[edit]

His only released book of poetry is Motor Songs (1940).[8]


In 1949, the Bulgarian Naval Academy was renamed Nikola Vaptsarov Naval Academy. On 3 December 1953, he received posthumously the International Peace Award. His Selected Poems were published in London in 1954, by Lawrence & Wishart, translated into English with a foreword by British poet Peter Tempest. His poetry has been translated in 98 languages throughout the world. Vaptsarov Peak in eastern Livingston Island, Antarctica is named after the famous Bulgarian poet. Today, Nikola Vaptsarov's childhood home in Bansko and residence in Sofia are both museums.


  1. ^ From a police investigation of 13 December 1940, regarding the arrest of the poet because of his poem "Selska Chronicle": ... I am named Nikola Yonkov Vaptsarov, resident of Sofia, 37 Angel Kunchev Street, religion – Eastern Orthodox , nationality – Bulgarian, marital status – married, occupation – machine technician, born in 1909 ....
  2. ^ France, Peter (2000). The Oxford guide to literature in English translation. Oxford University Press. p. 194. ISBN 978-0198183594.
  3. ^ The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, Stephen Cushman et al., Princeton University Press, 2012, ISBN 1400841429, p. 169.
  4. ^ "The History of Bulgaria", The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations Series, Frederick B. Chary, ABC-CLIO, 2011, ISBN 0313384460, pp. 143–144.
  5. ^ Rough Guides (2003). The Rough Guide to Europe 2004. p. 193. ISBN 978-1843531081.
  6. ^ "The Nikola Vaptsarov Museum in Bansko". 21 December 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  7. ^ "БДЖ организира пътуване с парния локомотив Баба Меца". 9 May 2019. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Bulgarian literature". Encyclopædia Britannica. 20 July 1998. Retrieved 6 May 2020.

External links[edit]