photo: personal archive - Mikaela Engel

Michaela Engel is a very kind and sophisticated lady. We met her in the town of Gabrovo, formerly known as "Bulgarian Manchester" - the industrial capital of post-liberation Bulgaria. Mrs. Engel shared with us her family history, which is so remarkable and fascinating that it is worthy to be shot in a movie titled "Great Bulgarians of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries" or "Builders of Modern Bulgaria." Tireless and piece by piece, for many years, Ms. Engel has been working to restore her glorious family history. Now she's ready to share it with the readers of Bulgarka Magazine.


Mrs. Engel, we met you with some material from Bulgarka Magazine. It concerned the personality of Ivan Hadjiberov, called the "Patriarch of Bulgarian Industry" and the "king of electricity." You are his granddaughter. What do you want it to be remembered and mentioned today?


Ivan Hadjiber is a great Bulgarian who has long earned his place in history textbooks. He has done too many useful things, but the most important thing for me is that his progressiveness and entrepreneurial spirit go entirely to the service of public well-being.


Hadjiberov designs and builds the first private hydropower plant in Bulgaria - it is a product of his engineering thought. But this powerhouse my great-grandfather not only uses it for his business - it allows every home in Gabrovo to be illuminated free of charge. Thanks to it, street lighting is created in the city, and its energy is used for industrial purposes by other Gabrovo industrialists and entrepreneurs.

Ivan Hadzhiberov Hydroelectric Power Plant

Gabrovo Station was built with money and guarantees from my great grandfather. He is the main donor to the city library. So financially, Ivan Hadjiberov contributes exclusively to this - Gabrovo to become the "Bulgarian Manchester".


As a man he was very strict and moral. The villagers preferred to send their daughters to his factory because they knew that he did not tolerate immoral behavior. There were workers' buildings at the factory, both family and non-family living in separate buildings. Ivan Hadjiberov made sure that his workers were deprived of nothing. Used free of charge by medical services. He built a nine-room club that regularly hosted parties, theatrical performances, a piano and billiards. Teachers and tutors came to care for the children of the workers. There was a walk and relax park nearby. When one of the workers married, she received a chase from Hajiberov. And to the old and deserving workers, Hadjiberov gave a house…


Does Ivan Hadjiberov have any known relatives today?


He has three daughters and two sons. His eldest daughter, Ivanka Hadjiberva, is married to Nikolay Georgiev of Veliko Turnovo. Nikolay Georgiev is the owner of one of the first cinemas in Bulgaria. His Modern Theater cinema started broadcasting sound films in Veliko Tarnovo at the earliest. The daughter of Nikolay Georgiev and Ivanka Hadzhiberova is Dora Yolova, who grows up in her grandfather's factory and writes memories of him today. Their other daughter is Zhivka Neykova, whose heirs live in Australia. Their son, Stefan Georgiev, has a granddaughter, Daniela Babikian, the wife of political analyst Arman Babikian. To the family of Ivan Hadzhiberov's brother - Dimitar, belongs Lyuben Berov, Prime Minister of Bulgaria (1992 - 1994)…


After the death of Ivan Hadzhiber (1934), his son Sava Berov took over the management of the business. When the Communists arrived, he managed to escape by fleeing to Pittsburgh, USA. There she died in the 1966 year under the care of her niece Dora Yolova.

The Hajiberov family

photo: personal archive - Mikaela Engel

Tell us how you can find the bones of your great grandfather! This is a whole adventure…


Ivan Hadjiberov's wife, Todoritsa, died in 1925 and was buried in a beautiful tomb with murals built on his request. Later, the industrialist himself and his big son Bero were buried there. But after September 9, the bones in the tomb were torn by robbers, and a short time later it was decided to blow it up, because it was hindering the newly constructed textile factory Georgi Genev.


The bones of the three Berovs were rescued by their third daughter, Elenka, who lives in Sofia. She carries them with bags from Gabrovo to Sofia and so they stay for a while at the Church of Saint Sofia in the capital. They were later buried in the grave of her late husband, Konstantin Genov, and in her grave. I made this discovery thanks to information from their son Asen Genov. I managed to count, on the thorny grave of Grandma Elenka, the inscription "Ivan Hadzhiberov - a rebel" (my great-grandfather participated as a rebel in the Russo-Turkish Liberation War). And so, today we all know where Ivan Hadjiberov is buried.


Your great-grandmother, Ivan Hadzhiberov's wife, is also a noble family. What is this genus popular in Bulgarian history and what searches have you done on the subject?


That's right! She is the daughter of Hadji Sava Ivanov Hadzhipenchev from Dryanovo, the first mayor of Dryanovo since the Liberation. After the bloody suppression of the April Uprising at the Dryanovo Monastery in 1876, Fazl Pasha heads to Dryanovo with the tops, intending to bring down the city to its foundations. My great-grandfather refers to Fazl grazing all his gold and thus redeems his mercy.


After his death, Hadji Sava Ivanov Hadzhipenchev was buried in the church "St. Nikola ”in Dryanovo, built by Kolyo Ficheto. I searched for the exact location of the tomb, but so far to no avail. Maybe he is uninitiated or the inscription is deleted. His house has been demolished today, but two columns (or wooden capitals) of it are stored in the Dryanovo Museum. There are devotions on them, perhaps related to Hadji Sava's activities to save the city from the Turks.


I recently visited the museum because of the columns, but they are housed in a storage room that no one could open and I could not see them. I will do this the next time I come to Dryanovo. The son of Hadji Sava Ivanov and brother of Todoritsa is the once famous architect Ivan Savov. His project is the pink station in Gabrovo.

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Axinia Mikhailova for the Max Jacob Award

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Your maternal grandfather is from the Mushanovi family to which Nikola Mushanov, known worldwide as one of the saviors of Bulgarian Jews, belongs. What interesting will you tell our readers in this regard?


My grandfather Georgi Mushanov is from Ruse and his family originates from Dryanovo. He is a partner at the Izgrev factory in Gabrovo, together with Sidzhakov and the leather contractor Svatov. My grandfather was in charge of trade matters. Sunrise was adjacent to the Hadjiber's factory. My grandmother is Hadjiber's second daughter, named Nedka. The family of Nedka and Georgi Mushanov was very close to Nikola Mushanov (Georgi's second cousin), Prime Minister of Bulgaria and one of the saviors of Bulgarian Jews. He is at their wedding.

Georgi Mushanov

photo: personal archive - Mikaela Engel

The wedding of Nedka Berova and Georgi Mushanov

photo: personal archive - Mikaela Engel

Nedka Berova Mushanova

photo: personal archive - Mikaela Engel

Will you tell more about yourself? How do you maintain your interest in family memory after not permanently living in Bulgaria?


I'm a biochemist by education. I practiced in Israel, at the Institute for the Regulation of Medicines. Also at the University of Jerusalem, the Haim Weizman Institute of Natural Sciences, and I have a diploma from Sofia University. In 1965 I went to Israel, where I studied biochemistry for a year at the University of Jerusalem. In 1975, I returned to Bulgaria to graduate from the University of Sofia with the status of a foreign student, since I was deprived of my Bulgarian citizenship during my expatriation. Whatever! I returned to Israel and worked at the Weizmann Institute, where I met my husband, a physicist. I have been involved in biochemistry all my life.


After retiring, I got the opportunity to spend more time in Bulgaria - I am here for a month or two. I go to museums, I meet and constantly interact with people who are excited about the personality of Ivan Hadjiber and Nikola Mushanov. Such are, for example, Emil Mihov and Milen Vasilev. They are the authors of the great documentary about Ivan Hadjiberov - "The audacity to be the first", which recently aired on National Television.

Your daughter Miriam is engaged in choreography and modern dance. Every year, she is invited to DePaul University in Chicago and holds master classes in Chicago and Berkeley. Recently participated in the opening of an Israeli photo exhibition in Bulgaria…


I believe that my daughter is a worthy heir to my mother, Dora Mushanova. My mother is a ballerina and artist, a graduate of the Academy of Arts, with her exhibitions in Bulgaria and Israel. Miriam dedicated her work to AWake during the exhibition "What Happens to Women's Rights?" Held at Vaska Emanuilova Gallery in Sofia. Miriam graduated from the Jerusalem Music and Dance Academy. She is the executive and artistic director of Angela Dance Co, Jerusalem. He is engaged in modern dance art, choreography, dance criticism…


My son Giora Engel is a physicist and computer programmer. He is working with his partner in America on his invention in the field of software…

Dora Mushova and Miriam Engel

How do you see the future of the cities of Gabrovo and Dryanovo - the places where your famous relatives come from? Is there a chance of their revival thanks to investments in cultural tourism?


The revitalization of these cities requires that they maintain their real cultural heritage. Our historical symbols should not be plunged into ruin and lawlessness. What prevents them from being turned into museums or being converted into hotels? And so support themselves so that people are proud of what we once had - our glorious antiquities.

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