Bulgarian doctors and students of medicine - victims
of the communist terror of 1944-1989
"Verba volant, scripta manent"
A large number of Bulgarian medical doctors and students
of medicine were the victims of brutal repression in different spans
of their lives under the totalitarian regime in Bulgaria.
The period 1944-1989 characterized by a change of values and systematic
extermination of the Bulgarian intellectuals, resulted in the establishing
of a consumer society, which is our ambiance nowadays. The years
after September 9 1944 slowly, but irreversibly deleted the memory
of the brutal period, which followed the Soviet invasion into Bulgaria.
The medical professionals paid their blood toll to the Bolshevik
According to the official statistics approximately 3,400 physicians
used to practice their profession in 1944. Most of them were graduates
of the Sofia Faculty of Medicine, but also many of them had graduated
in foreign countries, such as Germany, Austria, France, Russia and
other countries. All of them, however, took the Hippocratic Oath
and were members of the Bulgarian Medical Association (BMA) regardless
of whether they were employed by the state and/or had a private
In the period under consideration, 1944-1989, the number of graduates
and students of medicine increased many times. The living and working
conditions, however, changed substantially.
Until 1990 there was no open talk about the repressed individuals
and the memory of them was gradually fading away. Those colleagues
of ours deserved at least to be mentioned in remembrance, the memory
of the dead to be paid respect to and those who had suffered to
be appreciated. With this thought in mind, and with the support
of the BMA - Sofia City Branch some colleagues conducted a research,
which does not claim to be exhaustive, but it still gives an idea
about how the medical professionals, too, were subjected to communist
genocide. The authors and contributors believe that this list will
be expanded and added to by the people, who will remember more victims.
As of the present time data has been gathered and documented about
618 medical doctors and students of medicine, who were subjected
to repression at different times, to a different extent, in various
ways, of varying duration; all these doctors and students are included
on the detailed list by stating their surnames.
For different durations a total of 71 doctors and students of medicine
were kept in prison, while a total of 86 people were held in concentration
camps. However, one should not make a simple addition of these numbers
because some people were kept both in prison and in concentration
camps, although at different times, and were subjected to other
types of repression as well. The method applied to the numbers in
this case is the "Case Register" method.
We have data available about some over 45 people - medical doctors
and students of medicine - who were murdered or went missing, while
for others the reason of their death has not been established.
The death penalty of still other victims was replaced by "life
imprisonment", however, they were kept under so severe conditions
that due to inquisition and dungeon illnesses they lived a short
life and were formally announced to "have died in prison"
or camp, respectively, while the actual reason of their death was
not openly announced. The death certificate of Dr. Radan Sarafov
(See the enclosures), who was executed in 1969, does not even state
a reason of death, which constitutes, to say the least, submission
of incorrect data to the official statistics pool.
More than 300 students of medicine were expelled from the Faculty
Much larger is the number of doctors, who were fired and those,
whose professional growth was inhibited, including their acquiring
of academic ranks and degrees or their promotion to administrative
positions. Their number is large, the repression over them, however,
was less severe, hence not all of them have been included in the
A large number of the well-known and good specialists were either
fired, or moved to work in other settlements and health care centers.
Distinguished lecturers, such as full professors, associate professors,
assistant professors and others were declared "enemies to the
people", and afterwards various types of repression in administrative
and professional aspect were implemented.
Soon after September 9, 1944 in a quite expedient manner each Faculty
had a "Fatherland Committee" established with it; those
Committees, which followed the Communist Party orders, stated the
names of lecturers that had to be fired, and also in what way, that
is, they used to propose the different forms and extent of political
repression. The BMA, which was established back in 1901, was chaired
in 1944 by Dr. Ivan Kojchev, who was also repressed, and was persistently
making attempts to mitigate the political qualifying expressions
used in the repression proposals; nevertheless, the report by St.
Cholakov, the then-Minister of Public Education, titled Regarding
Punishment of Sofia University Lecturers Pursuant to the Regulation-Law
on Purge (November 18, 1944) stated the names of 42 lecturers 14
of whom (that is one third) were from the Faculty of Medicine! Some
of them were fired outright, and some were even made defendents
in the so-called "people's court", like Prof. Al. Stanishev
Other lecturers were initially "suspended" for a few
semesters, and soon afterwards new orders for dismissal replaced
the foregoing sanctions for them. In the huge scientific research
titled "The Trial of Historians" (edited by Vera Moutafchieva,
Sofia, 1995) the reader can find direct evidence (See the enclosures)
of those criminal acts that laid the beginning of the "elimination",
"rendering harmless" and so on, of a large portion of
the Bulgarian intellectuals.
It is a disgrace that the above-mentioned book, which contains
irrefutable evidence, did not gain the popularity it deserved among
Massive "combing-outs" were conducted several times among
the students of medicine, that is the future medical doctors - in
1945, 1947, 1949 (the infamous Order No. 71 of 1949 issued by the
Rector of the Sofia University), 1950 (Order No. 27 dated August
18 and Order No. 1481 dated December 14, both of 1950), 1951 (Order
No. 131 dated October 30 1951), 1956, and in other years as well.
The lists containing dozens and hundreds of students' names were
"promulgated" by placing them on the wooden fence or the
buildings' walls in the Faculty of Medicine. Students looked up
their names and found out that they had been "expelled"
and did not have the right to continue their studies. This was a
brutal, unlawful and inhumane violation of the universal human right
to education! But who observed human rights at that time at all!
For some students the abovedescribed "administrative procedure"
was accompanied by their dismissal from youth organizations. Very
few were the students left with that "brand" only and
they were waiting in trepidation to see their names on "the
wall of tears". The administrative sanction was motivated in
most cases by the provisions of Articles 40 and 41 of the then-applicable
Tertiary Education Act (TEA). Students were not handed over any
order of expulsion, but their student record was simply withdrawn.
It was only after 1990 that it became possible for a student to
obtain an order for his/her expulsion from school. In "extra
special" cases expulsions were effected for each student individually.
The main registers of the Faculties did not always contain an entry
about the particular reason - the political repression - for the
withdrawal of the student's right to graduate from the university.
For some students the register stated that the student had "quit",
"discontinued studying", "not turned out for exams",
while actually such students were convicted, or even in some cases
put in prison (e.g. the student Ivajlo Nikolchev - see the enclosures),
deprived of civil rights, sent to a camp, displaced, etc. Some of
the expelled students were "reinstated" after going through
a lot of ordeals at government and "party" local and central
bodies. Others were permitted to "enroll in another Faculty",
for example, from Sofia to enroll in Plovdiv, and vice versa (Georgiev
and S. Petrov), or in another specialty (e.g. from human medicine
into veterinary medicine or dentistry). Still others were allowed
to sit again for university admission exams in order to be admitted
as new students in a tertiary educational establishment. Students
were expelled most often following reports to the authorities submitted
by their co-students or by the "Sectoral Fatherland Branch".
"Family background" was of crucial importance - a child
of a kulak, royal officer, trader, or an enemy to the people was
not allowed to graduate from a university. Even nowadays one can
meet such people with broken fate, deprived of their identity, with
unimplemented potential, who were not given the opportunity to continue
their education at tertiary institutions.
Several anti-communist groups were found at the Faculty of Medicine.
Their members were sentenced to a different number of years of imprisonment,
or placed in camps. We have available names, documents and evidence
of quite a large number of repressed medical doctors and students
of medicine, who were victims of reports to the authorities, calumnies
and plotting (See the enclosures: Pier Nikolov, Y. Georgiev, B.
Our list includes also some disputed individuals. Due to either
misbelieves, or a career drive, and under the pressure of severe
torture and threats, psychological and physical exhaustion, they
agreed to serve and submit reports to the Communist authorities
and the totalitarian regime. Later on their own "comrades"
victimized some of these individuals. One way or the other, they
were subjected to repression, kept in camps or prison; that is why
they have been mentioned in the list. We cannot be judges and determine
who is guilty and of what; we are just stating facts, hence we have
mentioned these people. The public, or the respective government
or civil organizations, are to assess their actions and draw the
relevant conclusions and characteristics. The team of authors expects
to hear opinions and standpoints on the issues raised herein, and
it also leaves the right to each of the authors to express his/her
personal view (See the enclosures).
According to the data gathered by us, as it has been stated above,
the students of medicine in Sofia and Plovdiv, who were expelled,
amounted to over 300. Out of them 121 did not graduate - which was
unfair and was due to political reasons only. Such a cruel punishment
changed the life path of a large number of young people. The fact
that over 160 were reinstated in the next years is a proof that
for many of them the "mistake" was corrected. However,
the distress, insult and the stigma of an "expelled student"
stayed with them for life. The professional success achieved by
such people shows that they did have the capacity to study and graduate,
and some of them - to obtain academic degrees as well (Shishkov,
Kozarov, Moushmov, Nikiforov, etc.)
In the Faculty of Medicine the communist youth organizations created
a network of informers, which brought about an atmosphere of uncertainty,
mistrust, suspicion and fear of repression and psychological terror.
Professor Ivan Moskov had good reason when he affirmed and taught
that "medicine is a science, art and profession".
The medical science was forced to modify itself in compliance with
the Soviet model and to be completely subordinated to the interests
of the totalitarian government.
In order to be published, almost all scientific papers had to start
or finish with an eulogy of the communist party's leading role,
its leaders, the pseudo-scientific statements of dialectic materialism,
the teachings of Michourin and Lissenko, O. Lepeshinskaya, I. P.
Pavlov, where the latter, alongside with certain achievements of
his, was said to have made also statements that he had never actually
The tragedy of medical science did not end only with making it
subordinated to the Soviet doctrine. Every attempt to show scientific
progress beyond Soviet medicine was restricted to the extent of
a full prohibition. The privileged communist activists did not possess
and were not able to acquire the characteristics required for lecturers,
organizing administrators and researchers.
In all academic units, such as sections, divisions, departments,
faculties, institutes specialized structures were set up and they
imposed strong censorship on scientific products. Not a single scientific
paper, monograph, book, etc., was allowed to be published without
the written approval by such structures stating "contains no
state secret", and what is more, the respective authors were
not able to travel abroad to take part in a congress or another
Scientific research plans were made in line with the command of
the communist party and Soviet dogmas. Some disgraceful distortions
occurred. For example, Prof. N. Shipkovenski was put under political
pressure at two "sessions" organized specifically for
this purpose. He was accused of insufficiently introducing Pavlov's
teaching, the dialectic materialism, etc., and of carrying through
ideas from "Western science". His monograph on the original
"liberating psychotherapy" was published twice in German
(once in Eastern Germany and once in Western Germany), in English
and even in Japanese, but never was it published in Bulgarian -
his mother tongue.
The world-famous Bulgarian psycho-neurologist and morphologist,
director of the mental-psychiatric clinic at the Sofia Faculty of
Medicine, Ass. Prof. Angel Penchev, had his academic title withdrawn
immediately after September 9, 1944 and he was reduced in rank.
It was only after the intervention of international organizations
that he was allowed to go abroad, where he finished one complete
part of the multi-volume German edition of "Handbuch fur Neurologie".
His academic title was reinstated, but he was never able to come
back to his motherland and his labors were over in South America.
Prof. Dr. Radoj Popivanov, who later on became even an Academician
and Minister of Public Health, also had a "special session"
organized against him by the totalitarian regime; at that session
he was unjustly subdued to criticism over some major principles
and his personal achievements in the field of medicine and general
genetics. His predecessor, Prof. Metodi Popov was not spared such
pseudo-scientific accusations, either.
The prominent Bulgarian scientists and lecturers Prof. K. Chilov,
Prof. A. Klissourov and others had "lecture boycotts"
set up against them, which have been quite well depicted by Dr.
G. Ikonomov in the Letopissi newspaper, the purpose of boycotts
being to remove the above professors from the education process.
While science and education in Bulgaria were gradually going down,
the children of the communist leaders were, as a rule, sent to study
at famous Western universities, acquired knowledge there, and at
present they are among the "leadership cadre" who rule
us and implement the reforms.
Economic repression is quite well illustrated in the examples below.
Until 1949 hundreds of private doctor's practices and dozens of
private hospitals were operational, such as gynecology and obstetrics
hospitals, mental health institutions, pediatry and otolaryngology
hospitals, etc. These hospitals were nationalized, seized and plundered
"with no right to compensation". Their previous owners
were internally displaced and in many cases they became unemployed
(examples: L. Roussev, B. Trichkov, N. Pashov, Popov, Mihaylov,
A. Stamov, and others in Sofia; N. Hadzhigenchev, A. Aleksiev, R.
Savov, H. Dichev and many others throughout Bulgaria). Private practice
was strongly restricted and eventually discontinued.
Doctors of medicine became actually office workers. Their remuneration
even in the state owned health care establishments ranked one of
the lowest among the professions ranked in terms of salary. Ridiculously
enough, medical doctors were included in one and the same trade
union together with barbers, bath attendants and cleaners. Even
nowadays, over 10 years after the "change" in economy,
politics, science and so on was announced, the data about repression
over medical doctors and other medical professionals is concealed.
The victims of murders with and without conviction, investigation,
preliminary investigations, victims of calumnies, imprisonment and
camps, displacement and exclusions, bodily and mental torture, going
missing, victims undergone property expropriation, the negative
impact over whole families in the long run - all this must be summarized
The medical profession is among the most human-oriented ones. Numerous
suffering of whole families and clans underlie each and every broken
The consequences from the psychological and economic harassment
were transposed also over the victims' families. Thus the number
of repressed becomes still larger.
The medical science and practice was rendered completely dependent
on the Soviet model. An illustrative example is the case with Dr.
Fr. Fratev presented in the enclosures. The education of a sufficient
number of specialists still does not meet the international standards
Medicine, and psychiatry in particular, was abused, however this
is a matter requiring a separate research. Such an aspect is presented
in the book titled Dangerous Minds - Political Psychiatry in
China Today and Its Origins in the Mao Era, Human Rights Watch
Murder is one of the most severe types of repression. A human life
can be taken in various ways. Killing a person is a crime, but killing
a medical doctor is a double crime because a doctor of medicine
is a person, who has devoted his/her life and activities to human
health and life.
After the democratic changes in November 1989 in Bulgaria capital
punishment was repealed by law in line with the humanitarian strive
for preventing forceful life termination even in the case of criminals.
During the communist terrorist regime capital punishment was widely
applied mostly for political reasons. What is more, it was possible
the political opponents to communism, as well as all open minded
people, to be killed with no trial and conviction in the street
or anywhere else in order to be eliminated.
The data in our research has been collected from different memoirs,
historical and administrative publications and sources (See References),
as well as from interviews with the victims' contemporaries and
relatives. Most of those, who were murdered, were "exterminated"
by being abducted unaware from their homes, work or elsewhere without
any explanation and with no observance of any fundamental human
Dr. Boukov was taken from a family dinner by an armed civilian
for "a brief check" at the militia station. Together with
other co-citizens he was dumped in the shaft at Sveta Anna mines
in Pernik, where he was killed.
Several dozens of citizens in Doupnitsa among whom there were two
physicians, Dr. N. Trajchev and a colleague of his, were taken on
October 3, 1944 to an unknown place and were killed without trial.
Dr. Trajchev's torchlight was hung on his lapel to serve as a target
pointer in the latenight execution. His son was expelled from University,
and later on reinstated, but his daughter was expelled with no right
to finish her tertiary education in philology.
Prof. Dr. Alexander Stanishev, a world-renowned surgeon, was executed
on the night of February 1st, 1945 by the so-called "people's
court" together with dozens of MPs, regents, ministers and
others. Prof. Stanishev had been made to certify the death of each
of those killed before him until finally he got a bullet, too. What
a professional and civic courage he must have had to live through
all that in the last minutes of his life! After 1990 most of those
killed in that trial were exculpated, however, such a "gesture"
cannot give them their lives back.
Dr. Ilia Velkov from Vidin was beaten to death with a spade, his
eyes taken out, his ears cut off, and eventually he was cut to pieces
with an ax.
Dr. Nikola Hadzhigenchev was murdered on September 26, 1944 without
any trial; a trial on him was held in a hearing several months after
his death so as to pass a sentence for him as an excuse for his
illegal murder. His clinic was nationalized. His son was a student
of medicine, who was expelled from school, but he managed to leave
Drastically outlined is the unambiguous trend of genocide of the
whole families of people, who were murdered or subjected to repression
of any kind: one of Prof. Stanishev's sons was expelled as a student
of medicine and all his life he worked as a turner, while his other
son managed to escape from Bulgaria, graduated from medical school
and spent his whole life in Germany.
A similar genocide model was applied to other professions, too,
such as journalists, public activists, and others (Badev, Krapchev,
Yotsov, etc.): Boyko, the son of the distinguished, and murdered,
journalist Yordan Badev, underwent investigation and imprisonment,
and he was never allowed to graduate from medical school.
The three gifted studens, the Moushmov brothers, were expelled,
and later reinstated. The Vladkov brother and sister as well.
Dr. Dimitar Georgiev was convicted to 15 years' imprisonment and
murdered in the Iskar gorge.
The student Nikola M. Nikolov was convicted by a court martial
in 1949, and executed in 1952. At least four students were executed.
Dr. Tomov was executed in the Lom prison together with St. Shabanov.
A lot of people were killed through torture during investigations
(Dr. Genov, Dr. Mirovenski and others).
Especially dramatic and politically complicated was the case with
physicians and students of medicine, who had Bulgarian self-awareness,
but fell in the Tito communists' clutches. Most of them were murdered,
with or without "conviction". Dr. Panayot Hitrov was murdered
in 1945. Some victims' death sentences were replaced by life imprisonment.
However, the conditions they were kept under in Idrizovo and other
prisons were so severe that these victims fell seriously ill and
their lives were shortened, so they died not through execution in
fulfilment of a death sentence, but due to the torture and the severe
dungeon conditions, where they served their sentences (Dr. St. Bozdov,
Dr. G. Alexandrov, Dr. T. Gichev, Dr. B. Popgyorchev, B. Svetiev,
Dr. K. Trenchev, Dr. A. Tatarchev and so on). G. Kostouranov, a
student of medicine, one of the trialed "Stroumishka petorka"
(the Five of Strouma), was subjected to cruel torture - his eyes
were gouged, his arms cut off and he was killed on August 13, 1951.
He was buried in a common grave with four more victims. The common
grave was blasted soon afterwards.
A group of prisoners underwent inhuman cruel treatment on the New
Years Eve of 1951. They were forced to enter the deep and freezing
water of the Vardar River in order to pull out a tractor with their
bare hands. All of them were hit by the cold and suffered varying
degrees of freezing. The wellknown and respected by all Dr. Vassil
Andonov Ivanov, the prisoners' spiritual support, gasping for a
last breath managed to utter, "Bulgaria, do you see this?"
It was only these martyrs' adamant willpower that was upholding
them. The aforementioned and other cruelties have been described
in K. Tsarnoushanov's book titled Macedonianism and Macedonia's
Resistance Against It.
Similar torture through freezing was used also in the Danube water
in winter (the case with the pontoon bridge near Belene). At least
two other such cases of murder through freezing to death in two
concentration camps are known. One of the victims was the student
of medicine Ivan Antov Stefanov from Makresh village, who was sent
to Belene camp. He was tied to a pole and splashed with water in
the cold winter of 1962 until he froze to death.
Dr. Troufi A. Tenev was brutally tortured and murdered soon after
September 9, 1944, and thrown into a well.
Dr. Filyov from Kazanlak town was in the Sliven prison; one night
he was called out of his cell to certify the death and sign a false-data
death certificate about the murder of the social-democratic leader
Krastyo Pastouhov (the latter was actually strangled by an imprisoned
criminal). Dr. Filyov was given "in-prison additional sanction":
10 days of solitary confinement. This case is described by Marko
Ivanov in the book Bulgaria's Destructors and Defenders,
page 277, as well as by another author in the Istina newspaper,
No. 9, 2000.
Dr. Petko Momchilov, a pronounced educational and public activist
in Yambol was convicted and executed in 1951 on the basis of false
accusations of a catholic "conspiracy".
Dr. Petko Balkanski, doctor of medicine and doctor of law, a former
MP, was convicted. He was offered to work as a prison physician
while serving his sentence, but he refused such a "privilege"
in a dignified manner, and was sent to work as an unqualified hand
jointly with all other prisoners.
Dr. Luben Bourmov, a surgeon on the Bulgarian Red Cross paramedic
train, was taken by a Soviet unit of the NKVD in Vienna and spent
7 years in Siberia camps. He was released after Stalin's death,
and placed in Breznik with no permission to leave town.
Boris Dossev Karolev from Pleven, a student of medicine, was wounded
near Byala Palanka on October 9, 1944 as a soldier in the first
phase of the war against Germany; in his 4th - 5th year of studies
he was expelled from school and placed in Belene camp for the period
1949 - 1951. He never got permission to finish his tertiary education
and he worked as a doctor's assistant all his life. Documents evidencing
his case were published in the Anti newspaper, No. 22 of 2001 (See
It is difficult to find in world history as wide a range of varied
bodily and psychological inquisition methods and ways to cause death
as those practiced in the communist "detention establishments".
Similar torture was applied not only to doctors and students of
medicine, but also to all victims who fell in the executors' clutches.
S. Suss in the Politisch Missbraucht has described such acts
committed by Stasi in the German Democratic Republic.
There are also cases where there is serious suspicion of forced
Dr. Dinyo Gochev, a pronounced agricultural party leader, underwent
heavy beating at a camp, had a stroke and was quickly sent home
to die there.
Dr. Nikola Grozev, one of those who were almost all the time staying
either in camps, or in prison - in Sofia, Rousse, Shoumen, Pirgovo,
Parapounovo, Belene, and so on - was a direct witness of the severe
bodily and mental consequences from torture, because, being a doctor,
he gave hundreds of victims medical aid to the extent possible.
He performed a successful appendectomy with a pocketknife in an
acute case. The conditions and set of tools available did not allow
for appropriate medical intervention. In his last speech Dr. Grozev
described dozens of examples of heavy consequences from torture,
where he was not in position to give health services and save the
The list of victims is not exhaustive and is an evidence of the
meaningless cruelty of the raging representatives of the so-called
"power of the people".
It will be interesting to know how the perpetrators and instigators
of those terrorist acts view and assess their acts as of today.
Many doctors and students of medicine have found rescue from the
communist terror by managing, often with a risk to their lives,
to cross over the "iron curtain", which was placed around
our country. They used to be called emigrants, fugitives, non-returnees,
enemies to the people, traitors, spies, hostile forces and a lot
more. Winning their bread in a hard and dismal way in a foreign
country, living without any family, far from home, often having
left behind their children and parents, those people took the risk
to pursue winning their professional and civil position. In different
countries Bulgarian emigrant groups were set up, who took the heavy
task to regain their homeland's freedom and alleviate the situation
for those who stayed there. Regretfully, no complete consensus was
reached in such emigrant groups. Even abroad, they were split up
on the basis of party affiliations, such as agrarian, monarchist,
legion, democratic, social democratic and other views. This is one
of the reasons why their activities did not achieve the desired
result. However, the names of many Bulgarians became wellknown for
their academic achievements abroad: Dr. G. Paprikov published a
monograph reference book titled Works by Bulgarian Emigrants
covering the period from 1944 until his death in 1986. This invaluable
book has a high scientific and reference value because beside the
titles of papers and the names of their authors it contains also
brief summaries of the publications in all areas of science and
Toncho Baboukov quite studiously managed and covered the publishing
and public activities of the agrarian party supporters in France
and Central Europe.
Living in emigration, Dr. Marin Cholakov, announced to be a man
earnign his living abroad and a non-returnee clarified the borders
and problems of communism psychopathology in articles and in a special
issue of a Bulgarian newspaper published in Germany.
Dr. Lubomir Kanov is a Bulgarian psychiatrist, who gradated from
a university first in Sofia, and later on in Canada; he lived through
the abyss of the Bulgarian investigation, court and prison Bolshevik
establishments; in his latest book Between Two Hemispheres
he writes that in those establishments he met "monsters"
and describes "the Stalinism disease" and "healing
from it". Such a statement, namely that "communism is
contagious" is given also by G. Tsekov, court pathologist.
He also states that "certain things may sound funny nowadays,
but they were not funny back then at all".
In their book The Outcasts in 2002 E. Statelova and V. Tankova
made a detailed review and analysis of the scientific production,
public political activities and the organizations of the Bulgarian
This is an illustration that despite the difficulties faced by
the emigrants, the Bulgarian medical doctors, being among the Bulgarian
intellectuals, have not ceased their creative work both for the
sake of their personal improvement and also for the sake of making
the world aware of Bulgaria's issues under the communist terror.
The Soviet model of education had a disastrous effect on the education
of the doctors-to-be. The horarium for medicine education in Bulgaria
in the period under consideration, 1944 - 1989 and as of today does
not meet the world standards. This is one of the major reasons why
the Bulgarian Tertiary Medical Education diplomas in Bulgaria are
not recognized abroad, but there is a requirement to the graduates
to pass additional exams and attend additional classes. For example,
for many years in Bulgaria the curriculum did not include subjects
such as medical ethics, genetics, psychology, and in many other
subjects (e.g. surgery, psychiatry, pediatry, etc.) the duration
of studies was less than required. On the other hand, however, Bulgarian
students had to pass exams in Dialectical and Historical Materialism,
History of the Russian Communist Bolshevik Party, the Bulgarian
Communist Party, and so on.
Out of all the 618 repressed, 34 have acquired academic ranks in
Bulgaria or abroad at some point of their career. Some of them were
subjected to repression when they had already become full professors
and assistant professors, others acquired academic ranks about the
end of their length of service after they had already undergone
certain repression, e.g. being expelled. This is indicative of the
high academic potential that the individuals in question possessed.
The case of Dr. Todor Gotsev, full professor in physiology, is
wellknown. We witnessed the following happen: he was about to start
one of his lectures when a student belonging to the group specialized
in boycotts stood at the desk. The latter accused the professor
of being the mouthpiece of idealistic and Western ideas, because
the motto on the front page of the textbook written by the same
professor stated the classic scientific phrase IGNORAMUS ET IGNORABIMUS
(Latin: unknown and incognoscible, meaning that science is still
facing certain unknown things). The above-mentioned student bluntly
declared that unknown things could not possibly exist in materialism.
The purpose was Prof. Gotsev to be dismissed. What an ignorance
and insult to science!
Because of a scientific dispute on Lissenko's achievements Dr.
Konstantinov was dismissed from his job, his doctor's rights were
withdrawn and he was forced to start working as a laborer at Bakelitcoop
(bakelite producing company), and at a Sanitation Company unit.
Dr. Petar H. Mitov from Gara Pirin, who was a member of Gerassim
Todorov's informal mountaineer detachment, was sentenced to death
by conviction No. 44 under General Case No. 500 of 1948. The trial
covered 78 defendants from Gorna Dzhumaya town. Dr. Mitov's sentence
was afterwards replaced by a life sentence.
Women-doctors and students of medicine were not spared, either:
Dr. Stoyanka A. Angelova was convicted to 3 years' imprisonment
under the Assenovgrad informal mountaineer detachment case regarding
the National Christian Cross; Dr. Blaga Popova was convicted to
placement in a camp; Dr. Zdravka Petrova Krachounova - to placement
in a camp in Bosna village; etc. (See the enclosures). A large number
of women-students of medicine were expelled from school (see the
The BMA as a professional association was also subdued to severe
repression. Its chairman Dr. Ivan Koychev was arrested, investigated
and dismissed as a chairman of the Association on September 28 1944
pursuant to Order No. 201 dated Dec. 8, 1944 issued by Anton Yugov,
the then-Minister of the Interior. He was missing for several months
and was afterwards found by his family at the Belene camp. The whole
property of the BMA was expropriated and has not been given back
by now. The BMA used to possess estates most of which were donated
to it. According to the Statement of Findings of the Audit Council
as of the time when the BMA's assets were officially handed over
to the state, they amounted to over 42 million of Bulgarian Levs
of that time.
In summary, various forms and extent of repression were imposed
over the whole of the Bulgarian people during the 45 years of communist
dictatorship, such as:
- bodily torture
- murder without conviction; execution under a sentence, preceded
- severe torture resulting in acute bodily (and mental) problems,
which cause distortions to the body, such as: cruel beating; cutting
parts of the body - limbs, ears, nose, gouging of eyes; breaking
vertebrae, bones and spinal cord resulting in permanent disability
- the aforelisted types of torture have caused medium and smaller
physical injuries to certain individuals
- applying electric current to different parts of the body
- burning with incandescent blades, lighters, lit cigarettes and
- freezing until the person became an ice block, freezing of limbs
in solitary confinement cells and rivers
- chemical and other impacts - poisons and chemicals in food and
in breathing air, radiation (work in radioactive mines)
- murders announced as suicides, as attempted escape, accident,
labor accident, going missing
- psychological attacks: threats, harassment, solitude, sleep deprivation,
staged torture and execution of relatives
- various forms of sexual harassment
- socially oriented: displacement, dismissal, deprivation of the
right to education, labor, and even to stay at a certain population
center; difficulties caused in traveling abroad; delays in a person's
acquiring qualification and professional realization, including
acquiring an academic rank and promotion to a higher military rank;
army service in labor corps; fabricated trials on the basis of calumnies
and reports to the authorities resulting in imprisonment and even
capital punishment; working under poor conditions
- economic: deprivation of property, such as homes, estates, clinics,
doctor's practices, withdrawal of practice right, compulsory financing
to the state through imposed "loans", robbery disguised
as search, etc.
- compulsory "studying of marxism-leninism" was imposed
on professors and students in all educational establishments in
The Svoboda newspaper, No. 8 of September 17, 1944 published an
announcement of an "important medical conference" scheduled
for September 19, 1944 (i.e. as early as 10 days after the official
The reader will easily see from the enclosures the actual reasons
for producing quickly "new teaching cadre", i.e. "assigning"
the academic ranks of full professor and associate professor to
people with insufficient teaching, clinical and scientific research
experience, but loyal to the communist party.
The enclosure contains also quite interesting data about how from
a corporal somebody can outright become a commander, from retired
major - outright a general (Kiril Stanchev, Kroum Lekarski, Stoyan
Trendafilov and so on), that is, the system of fast, formal and
unmerited advancement became the governing rule of communists and
Health care was completely subdued to mechanically transferring
the so-called Soviet experience. Following the appeals for bringing
health care services closer to the population, dozens of health
care centers were set up in villages, which became depopulated due
to the mass migration of the population into the cities and factories.
The access to objective information about the world's medical achievements
was becoming more and more difficult. Castes and levels of better
and privileged services and drug-supplies occurred, e.g. specialized
hospitals and sanatoria, polyclinics, sports centers, rest-homes
and others, which services only government and party activists and
the so-called active fighters against fascism and capitalism. Sending
individuals for treatment abroad had to be allowed by a specialized
commission, which gave priority to the afore-mentioned special groups.
The topic under consideration is a part of the worldwide issue
of the communist holocaust and requires complete access to a number
of documents and documentary sources, including some of the so-called
"classified archives fund".
The present text is the first attempt to reach the whole and objective
truth and constitutes the first edition of a future enormous piece.
Our successors' task will be to accomplish it.
Appreciation, esteem and respect to the repressed has to be shown
by erecting a MEMORIAL dedicated to their sufferings and their effort
to live dignified human life (See the enclosure relating to the
Resolution of the Academic Council of the Sofia Medical University).
The medical profession is one of the most human. Enormous suffering
underlies every individual's, family's and clan's broken fate.
We are not after revenge or punishment. We are trying to find and
prove only truths, which are concealed, which we lived through and
which unjustly changed the life-path of a large number of people
related to the medical profession.
The future generations must know the whole objective truth about
the repression against medicine and the medical workers in terms
of politics, economy, social life, science, education, and human-ethical
We are not the judges, however. Only history, the real and objective
history is entitled to define what processes have taken place in
society and what their consequences are.
We have used data published in approximately 50 official compilations,
monographs, memoirs and other publications alongside with over 100
publicistic articles and reminiscences (especially those of Svetozar
Darvarov and others) in newspapers and magazines and multi-profile
editions, such as the Demokratsia daily, the Pro&Anti, the Prelom,
the Svoboden Narod, the Edin Zavet, the Borba, the Tribuna Medica,
The Balgarski Lekar, Chronicles of the BMA and others, which are
referred to at the appropriate places in the text and in the list
of references. Personal interviews were conducted, and many letters
were sent and documents were submitted by repressed people and their
relatives. There was a wide response from the public to papers,
materials and scientific reports, which were made public by TV and
radio programs, at scientific forums, such as the scientific conference
in Borovets (June 7-9 2002); Thematic Conference of the Sofia Psychiatric
Society on October 25, 2001; Conference held in Veliko Tarnovo in
September 2002 and others attended by members of the research team.
Every member of the research team is entitled to a personal opinion
and view on certain aspects of the issue. The final text of this
publication was prepared by (in alphabetical order of surnames):
Tsv. Gaydarov, D. Kozarov, K. Milenkov, N. Predov and M. Roussev.
The assistance rendered by the Bulgarian Medical Association -
Regional College Sofia is most sincerely acknowledged - without
their help this publication would not have been possible.
The following were also involved in the data gathering: Prof. Dr.
G. Markov and Mr. Z. Furnadzhiev, Mr. P. Ogoyski, Prof. Dr. M. Ognyanov,
Dr. Y. Douchevska, Prof. Dr. P. Pomakov, Dr. M. Madzharov and many
others whose contribution is specially acknowledged.
Particular appreciation is expressed for the help of Prof. Vl.
Ovcharov, Rector of the Medical University; Prof. N. Tsankov, Dean
of the Faculty of Medicine; Prof. O. Hinkov, procurator of Alexandrovska
Hospital, and others.
The team of authors apologizes about certain blanks and data unprecision
in the text. The data gathering is still under way. All additions
and further clarifications that anybody may wish to make can be
sent to the following address:
BULGARIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION - REGIONAL COLLEGE SOFIA
108. Evlogi Georgiev blvd., 5th floor, 1505 Sofia
Telephone: (++359 2) 944 6341, (++359 2) 946 3263
Bulgarian doctors and students of medicine - victims of the
communist terror of 1944-1989, Sofia 2003, Edited by
Prof.Dr. Kiril Milenkov, MD; Authors: Prof.Dr. Kiril Milenkov MD,
Dr. Nikolay Predov, Dr. Tsvetan Gaydarov, Prof. Dr. Dimitar Kozarov
MD, Dr. Metodi Madzharov, Dr. Milko Roussev; Involved in the data
collection were: Prof. Dr. George Markov MD, Mr. Zachary Fournadzhiev,
Mr. Petko Ogoyski, Prof. Dr. Mikhail Ognyanov MD, Dr. Yonka Douchevska,
Prof. Dr. Petar Pomakov and many others whose collaboration is acknowledged