Home » Seminars and Projects » Study trip Madrid 2011 » Exile Stories VII: From Bulgaria into the French Resistance: The life of Milka Genadieva

Exile Stories VII: From Bulgaria into the French Resistance: The life of Milka Genadieva

Kalina from Bulgaria found the person she wanted to write about while talking to a friend:

Kalina, Bulgaria

Milka Genadieva was a very privileged young woman, being daughter of the famous Bulgarian politician Nikola Genadiev. Nikola Genadiev was Bulgarian politician, who was the leader of the Bulgarian liberal peoples’ party and has been very active in the party since 1892, being Minister of Justice (1903 – 1904) and Trade and Agriculture Minister (1904 – 1908). But before reaching this political career he had a long way to go. He was born on 1 December 1868 in Bitola (nowadays FYROM) but since his family had a very Bulgarian identity they moved to Plovdiv – a city in South of Bulgaria. He very quickly integrated in the new societal circles and became a very famous lawyer and started his political career, until on 30 October 1923 he was assassinated.

But I will concentrate more on the second generation of “exiled” in this family- namely his daughter Milka Genadieva. As many sons and daughters of the Bulgarian intellectuals and elite at that time, she also went to do her studies in Western Europe, choosing Paris for her destination. Being an extraordinary good student after graduation she did a PHD in law in the French capital. She writes in her diaries that in 1939 she could not communicate easily with her relatives in Bulgaria and after Bulgaria decided to ally with Germany, Milka Genadieva decided that she will stay in Paris until the war ends. However this was longer as she expected and when France was taken over by Hitler, she decided to join the French resistance. After the war she was given the “medal of braveness”.

In the end of the war, in 1945 she wanted very much to go back to Bulgaria and she was sent by France Press as a correspondent in Sofia. This was a very brave act, since she was the daughter of a former politician, who was far away from the ideals of the new Communist party. Before departing she tried to gather as much information as possible for the political situation in her home country – but it was almost impossible to inform herself about the political situation in Bulgaria. Upon landing she was surprised how many Soviet soldiers were standing around the people, who were waiting for her at the airport. Most of her immediate family was already arrested by the arising Communist party. Shortly after arrival she has to bury her closest friend – her cousin, who had been tortured and murdered. This is how she decided to start helping people, who are facing the same danger. She managed to help many people escape from death or prison – she had very good contacts in the French embassy and she managed to organize a way for many Bulgarians to escape the country and helped them through her connections in France to settle in the Western country and start a new life. After several months, however, she was betrayed and the police was to arrest her. Milka Genadieva managed to escape the night when the police came to get her and she went to the French embassy, where she found shelter and she was hiding there for one day, after that she managed to escape and returned to France.

But she could not just settle down and have a calm life afterwards. Back in Paris she never started a family, but had many friends in a circle of intellectuals, artists and politicians. In the late fifties she became member of the Organisation de l’armée secrète (OAS -“Organization of the Secret Army”), which was against the independence of Algeria. The OAS attempted to prevent the on-going political process by a campaign of assassinations and bombings, and Milka Genadieva was involved in the assassination attempt against President Charles de Gaulle in Paris in 1962. She escaped her arrest and stayed hidden until de Gaulle caressed the rebels. Milka Genadieva is for sure not black or white personality, she has many facets and layers, but for sure this was all destined by her strong personality and by the experience she had meeting different cultures and living in turbulent time.