Elpida Karamandi-Bisera

Portrait of Elpida Karamandi. Source: www. elpidakaramandi.edu.mk

Elpida Karamandi epitomizes one of the figures most deeply entrenched in the cultural memory of Bitola. She was born in Lerin, on January 1, 1920, but after her mother got widowed, they moved to Bitola. She finished her secondary education in the Bitola High School and in 1939 left for studies in Belgrade.

During her studies, she joined the communist youth at the University of Belgrade, and, in collaboration with the students from the Faculty of Philosophy, she participated in the campaign for collecting signatures for the franchise of women in Yugoslavia in 1939. After the military occupation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia by the Nazi Germany and the occupation of Macedonia, within the Kingdom, by the fascist Italy and Bulgaria, part of the population joined the partisan resistance.

Elpida Karamandi became one of the most prominent organizers of the National Liberation Movement (NLM) in Bitola, in particular among women and youth. In 1941, she became a member of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY), in the wake of which, she even more zealously spread the idea of the uncompromising fight against the occupation forces. She was known under her partisan pseudonyms Nada or Bisera.

Elpida headed the women’s section that worked as part of the legal workers’ organization “Women’s Consumers’ Section” in Bitola, from whose ranks younger members were recruited. It was a place where women and working class youth organized themselves.

She joined the illegal work of the LCY in Bitola without the knowledge of her family, which opposed it. Only her sister-in-law, Vangelitsa Karamandi, knew about it. Elpida coached her on Marxist literature and covertly included her in the women’s section of the Party. At the time, Elpida actively practised handling weapons and participated in several subversive actions for dispersing fascist events organized in the city. Due to her political engagement, she was arrested by the Bulgarian police, and even though subjected to gruelling torture, the occupation police forces did not extract anything from her.

After her release from prison, Elpida went underground. In the spring of 1942, she was among the first fighters of the newly formed partisan detachment “Pelister”. On May 3rd 1942, in the military operations against the surrounded detachment above the village of Lavtsi, near Bitola, she was severely wounded, captured, and after a lengthy torture shot. Her heroic death features prominently in urban legends and oral testimonies, and in the city, in her honor, after her are named a street, a textile factory, the educational institutions with her memorial bust in front of them, as well as a memorial bust at the Alley of the City Park. She was sung about in several folk songs composed immediately in the wake of the war. On October 6, 1951, she was awarded the Order of the People’s Hero.

The Memorial Plaque on the formation of the
“Women’s Consumers’ Cooperation”, Bitola

“Women’s Consumers’ Cooperation”, “Marshal Tito” street (Shirok Sokak) no. 130, Bitola

The Memorial Plaque on the formation of the “Women’s Consumers’ Cooperation”, January 1, 1941 in Bitola, is important for the organization of women in the social and political life and against the occupation forces, in whose activities Elpida Karamandi also partook. Accessible for persons with a physical disability.