Photographer's Note

The orthodox church "Sveta Nedelya" was the last keep of the rebels. Bashi-bazouk destroyed the school, where 200 people were burnt alive, hidden in the basement. Then they went straight to the church, where they dug holes into the fence of the yard and started to shoot at everyone there. The most terrifying chapter of the massacre happened on the night of 2 May 1876 in that very yard. On the morning of 3 May the Pomaks took the yard and advanced to the door of the church, but weren’t able to get in – the door was barred by the people inside.[13][14] The defense of the church held for three days, the Turkish were shooting ceaselessly at the villagers to make them surrender. Some tried to enter the church from the roof, but were unsuccessful, although they were able to shoot some of the people inside. There was no water in the church, so the barricaded had to resort to the oil of the lamps and the blood of their own dead. They tried to dig into the floor with bare hands in order to find underground water. On the third day the survivors decided to go outside, when they realized their fate was decided. When they opened the doors of the church Ahmet Aga was waiting for them with his Bashi-bozouk. A ruthless beheading followed and only those who accepted to be converted to Islam were spared. The plans of the Ottoman leader were to populate the village with the converted villagers, but it turned out that there were not enough of them. Before the Bashi-bozouk left the village, they burnt the church, but the stone walls were preserved and only the wooden furniture and the icons were destroyed. When some Russian commissions were to go and inspect the village, 3 months later, the Ottoman authorities tried to bury the bodies, but they could not hide the smell in the air. They also painted the walls of the church, but the blood stains showed up in time.

After the massacre in the church, Ahmet Aga summoned all the surviving villagers outside, saying that it would be in order to make a list of the slain and the widows. The better part of the survivors gathered, since those who did not obey would be killed. They were divided in two groups of women and men; then the Ottoman commander made the women stand back and slew all the remaining 300 men. Those women who protested were also raped and killed. On the same day there were another 300 people murdered on the wooden bridge beside the school, first their arms were cut off, then their ears, noses, shoulders, and only after that they were finished.Now the sun is again in the chirch...

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Additional Photos by Radoslav Dechkov (radodechkov) Silver Note Writer [C: 4 W: 0 N: 14] (273)
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