Draft resolution

Resolution 1096


Communist Terror
National Agencies
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History > Communist Terror > Bulgaria
  Persecutions of Catholics

The Crimes during the Communist Regime and the Attempts at Their Investigation after 10 November 1989
by Hristo Hristov
Journalist, Dnevnik daily

What befell Bulgaria in September 1944
by Professor Plamen S. Tzvetkov, Ph.D

The Communist St. Bartholomew’s Massacres.
The Killings without Prosecution, Court or Sentence in the Autumn of 1944 in Bulgaria
by Hristo Troanski
Writer, journalist

The Repressions against the Catholic Church and against Catholics in Bulgaria (1944-1989)
by Svetlozar Eldarov
Professor, Dr. of History

Bulgarian doctors and students of medicine - victims of the communist terror of 1944-1989

Persecutions of ethnic minorities from 1944 until 1989

The Pogrom over the Writers after 9 September 1944 – Moral and Culturological Aspects

by Tzveta Trifonova
Literary historian and critic and the Literature Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

It seems to me that the tragic fate of the creative and intellectual elite before World War II has not been studied and has not been demonstrated before the contemporaries, nor has an analysis been made of the moral and spiritual consequences for Bulgarian society and for the national culture. Nevertheless, it is a joyous fact that the time has come at long last to remember the names of the people who defended the democratic values, the independent spirit and the freedom of conscience along the thorny path of the Bulgarian State.

The date of the communist coup – 9 September 1944 – was a signal for revenge and the start of blood-drenched Bacchanalia on the territory of the entire country. The victims of the class wrath were not only politicians, businessmen, lawyers, civil servants, police and army officers. The self-proclaimed “people’s revengers” attacked the Bulgarian intellectuals with the same zealousness: teachers, priests, journalists, writers, editors, artists, professors, lecturers and all kinds of people of the pen, of culture and of the spirit perished without trial or sentence in the cities, little towns and villages. It would be logical to ask ourselves why was the country’s cultural elite branded and persecuted as the most dangerous “enemy of the people”? The indictment produced by the Sixth Panel of the so-called “People’s Tribunal” attached the following qualifications to the cultural elite: “career-seeking intelligentsia that had lost its touch with the people”, “public evil that needs to be cut out so that it would not contaminate the public organism”, “mercenaries of the pen and of speech”, “instigators and collaborationists” of the persons responsible for the national catastrophe, etc. The answer is very well known: propped on the bayonets of the occupiers, the communist upper crust followed the example of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917-1921. Without choosing its means, it showed determination to deprive the nation of the voice of free speech, and – as it proclaimed itself – “to cut the democratic values from the public organism”, to obliterate the notions of democracy, freedom and fatherland from public space, the carrier of these notions being the patriotic intelligentsia. Thinking people are a barrier before any dictatorship, therefore the first task of usurpers is terror and genocide on a mass scale against the intellectual class.

Outstanding representatives of Bulgarian culture perished without trial or sentence in the first wave of the red terror: Danail Krapchev – journalist, writer and editor of the Zora [Dawn] newspaper, Yordan Badev – literary critic, Nencho Iliev-Sirius – writer, Konstantin Gindev – talented young poet, Boris Roumenov – satirist, Professor Lyubomir Vladikin, Rayko Alexiev – humorist, satirist and cartoonist, publisher of the Shtourets [Cricket] newspaper, beaten to death in prison. The writer Dimiter Babev disappeared one year later.

Here I shall cite for the first time an unpublished documentary episode concerning the repressions against the artists and writers during the first days after the coup, because it is a typical detail of the frustration of the public atmosphere during the fatal days of the coup. Marin Petkov, employee in the administration of the Zora newspaper, speaks about the death of Danail Krapchev, famous journalist, patriot, publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Zora newspaper – the most prestigious Bulgarian newspaper between the two world wars. On 10 September 1944, Petkov went to the town of Gorna Djumaya, together with relatives of Krapchev, to look for the body of the murdered man. He rejected the suicide version by citing the testimony of a woman eyewitness: “Krapchev was murdered under my window. We were living on the ground floor. The house was on two streets. Seeing him, several people rushed towards him and started lynching him with stones and wood. I only heard him say: ‘People, people, Bulgarians, come to your senses!’ When he collapsed, two youngsters shot him with their guns ….”1 Not only the raging lawlessness but also the addressee of the victim’s last words is noteworthy. They are strongly reminiscent of a similar exclamation by the national hero before the liberation from Ottoman domination, Vassil Levski, and they show that the mentality of the people had changed very little after the Liberation: docile and fearful before the dominant and the strong, but just as cruel and merciless to the weak and to the fallen.

However, the atrocities of the “revengers” to the Bulgarian artists and creative individuals did not stop with their mean murder. Months later, an absurd scenario was staged: the so-called “Second People’s Tribunal,” established specially for trying journalists and intellectuals, announced that these people were “missing”, “absent” or “deceased” and tried them post factum in order to legitimise the illegal confiscation of their entire property. The same tragic fate befell also the writer Dimiter Shishmanov – Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Boris Yotsov – outstanding Slavonic scholar and linguist, Minister of Education. Their enormous creative potential, their books and their merits to the science and culture of Bulgaria did not count as an argument in their favour. Quite on the contrary, it was a pretext for the bitterness and cruelty of the self-proclaimed judges. The defence attorneys of Professor Boris Yotsov pointed in vain to thirty orders and documents testifying to the fact that the education minister defended communist teachers who had been fired and reinstated them in the schools from where they had been dismissed.2

A second large group of writers, journalists, scholars, artists and intellectuals were thrown into the Central Prison in Sofia and were given sentences of different length, combined with confiscations and fines. Among them were the writers Zmey Goryanin, Fani Popova, Yordan Stoubel, Dimiter Simidov, Georgi Kanazirski, Boris Makovski, the cartoonists Konstantin Kamenov, Alexander Bozhinov and Alexander Dobrinov, the journalists Hristo Bruzitsov, Krustyo Velyanov, Atanas Damyanov and Stefan Damyanov, Stefan Tanev, Matey Bonchev-Brushlyan, Dr. Peter Djidrov, Dimiter Gavriyski, who wrote for the leading daily papers in Bulgaria: Zora, Utro, Dvenvik, Slovo, etc., as well as dozens of other eminent figures in the sphere of culture. That group also included Professor Stefan Konsoulov, Professor Georgi P. Genov, the literary historian Professor Mihail Arnaoudov, Minister of Education in Bagryanov’s government for two months. Their life in prison is colourfully described in the miraculously preserved notes of Zmey Goryanin, Sketches and Stories.3 Even when they were at such a critical moment in their lives and their endurance was put to the test, these internationally famous scholars succeeded in preserving their dignified behaviour and continued to live with their science and with their ideas. Their example has proven that only a man of the spirit is capable of bringing light, sensibility and nobility during times of sinister arbitrariness and social cataclysms, that only man’s creative genius has the strength of withstanding the sinister downfalls of history.

A part of the intellectuals who passed through the cells of the State Security and of the Central Prison were dispatched without trial or sentence directly to concentration camps that had been established under a special law and were given the name of labour-correctional communities: Bogdanov Dol, Koutsiyan, Rossitsa, Sveti Vrach, Belene, Doupnitsa, etc., where the writers Dimiter Talev, Slavcho Krassinski, Chavdar Moutafov, Pavel Spassov, Zvezdelin Tsonev and Yordan Vulchev, as well as the artists Alexander Bozhinov, Alexander Dobrinov and Konstantin Kamenov, were sent. A new phenomenon – political-literary toponymy – emerged in the geography of the Bulgarian literature. It linked the colourful names of small villages, localities and small towns in the countryside with the saga of prominent writers and creative artists. The spiritual elite of Bulgaria were banished to mines and stone quarries, to be replaced in the cultural centres by aggressive ignorance, marginal individuals and vulgarity. The concentration camps turned into coexisting spaces accumulating the energies of violence and the suffering, amongst which the freedom-loving spirit of the Bulgarian nation waned and died.

New martyrs were added to the prisoners of the first wave shortly after 9 September 1944 in 1946-1947: together with thousands of opposition figures from the Nikola Petkov Bulgarian Agrarian People’s Union and the Bulgarian Social-Democratic Party, emblematic names of the legal opposition became victims of terror, having stood up against the hegemony of the camouflage Fatherland Front: Trifon Kounev and Tsveti Ivanov – Editors-in-Chief of the newspapers Narodno Zemedelsko Zname [People’s Agrarian Banner] and Svoboden Narod [Free People], and also writers, journalists, public figures and freedom fighters. Standing at the crucial historic dividing line, they were condemned to suffer both for their political and moral compromises, and for their dignified and valiant fight to defend the democratic ideals and the independence of Bulgaria. Together with political leaders like Nikola Petkov and Krustyu Pastouhov, the writers carried on their shoulders the heavy cross of their re-enslaved nation and proved that the real artist is ready for self-sacrifice to defend his national dignity.

During the autumn of 1944, more than 30 thousand peaceful Bulgarian citizens were killed: slaughtered with axes, bludgeoned to death, shot at point blank, thrown off cliffs into precipices, burned, hanged or buried alive. The sense of impunity and arbitrariness, encouraged openly or behind the scenes by the leaders of the ruling Communist Party, notably Georgi Dimitrov, Traycho Kostov, Tsola Dragoycheva and Anton Yugov, made the public atmosphere fraught with aggressiveness of the reactions and with frenetic hatred. Mass paranoia, thirst for blood and vindictiveness flared. Frenetic mobs shouting death slogans attacked homes and offices, lynched, stampeded and clubbed to death innocent people in the streets merely because a finger had been pointed at them as “enemies of the people.” That was not a nationwide revolution, nor an uprising, nor a civil war, because there were no two fighting armed groups, as in 1923 during the insurgence. That was a political slaughterhouse. Life and the individual had lost their value, humanity was trampled and forgotten in the gigantic social and geopolitical collision. After World War II, when Bulgaria did not have even one casualty at the frontline, instead of peace and a spirit of constructivism on the basis of the protected status quo, the country was involved in a catastrophic psychological situation of self-extermination and moral genocide. The land of Bulgaria was covered with thousands of secret graves, its tolerant people were desecrated by fratricide and were stained with the blood of its own worthiest and most talented sons. The mass act of insanity reveals how it is possible with the mechanisms of ideology and politics to bring to extremes the mentality of the community so as to be directed in the service of party, power and imperialist goals. The unabated wartime aggression of the masses was easy to manipulate and to transform into political revenge-seeking by ideological profiteers and central offices of the party. The normal behavioural thresholds of the extremist individual were deliberately undermined in the direction of regression and barbarianisation so as to serve hidden power goals. And again, literature anticipated, caught and depicted the shadows of horror, fear and death in the spiritual space of Bulgaria. The writer Yana Yazova, a contemporary and witness of the events, recreated both concrete events and the frenzied rhythm of historical time, revealing its paranoid symbols and states. In her political and psychological novel War, which was published in 2001, i.e., 25 years after her death and 55 years after the actual events, Yana Yazova documented the social, political and existential psychological motivations of terror and hatred, depicting the traumatically distorted mentality and the images of the “revengers” susceptible to manipulation, as well as the sufferings of the defenceless victims. Her valiant and hence tabooed book identified yet another emblematic image next to the gallows and the cross, derived as mythologems of the supreme sacrifice in the name of man and the national spirit, and that new image was the pit: the muddy pit of disgrace, of cowardice in the dark hours of the night and satanic malice, which swallowed not merely the individual victims, but also the bright human thought and the idea of Christian humaneness. The scourge of the literary word has slashed the “wolf’s time” in the history of Bulgaria after 9 September 1944, when obscurantism and anti-morality reigned, while Christian morality and tradition were trampled upon, denied and desecrated. According to the writer, the transformations in Bulgarian life are not so much social as they are spiritual and ethical, moreover in the downward movement of dehumanisation.

However, there is more tragedy in real human biographies than in any literary work, because they prove the disastrous role of political violence over the spirit, over the mentality and physics of the human individual. I shall trace back the destiny of several of the outstanding creative figures who became victims of the catastrophic political and social transformations.

Even after the barbaric murders and the judiciary arbitrariness during the 1944-1947 period, Bulgarian writers remained guilty for life in the eyes of their torturers and executioners, and were branded forever as “enemies of the people”, “former fascists” and “former people” – as has been documented in the State Security files. Even after passing through courts, prisons and concentration camps, after being physically devastated, morally humiliated and materially and financially degraded, the old intellectual elite nevertheless remained in the focus of attention of the secret services and continued to be the principal target of individual active investigation and operational surveillance. The authors who were in all school textbooks during the period between the two wars were treated not as personalities, but as “objects.” Exhausted, sick and robbed of all their possessions, they were subjected to permanent torture and harassment by the repressive services. After they were expelled from the Union of Bulgarian Writers already back in 1944,4 they were thrown out of all cultural institutions, and were ousted from public and literary life. They were deprived of the right to creativity and of access to media and publishers. Their books were banned, destroyed or hidden in the so-called secret files until 1990.5 Doomed to isolation and silence, the writers became defenceless and voiceless victims of numerous outrages. I shall list below the so-called “measures” as they have been documented in the secret State Security files: prison, investigation, interrogation; deportation to concentration camps; depriving of residence permit in the cities and coercive deportation of their families; expulsion from the Union of Bulgarian Writers and ban on the publishing of their books; depriving them of their jobs and of means of subsistence and medical treatment; moral pressure, control and dictatorship over their creative will; confiscation of personal archives, manuscripts, documents and correspondence; breaking into their homes, secret and open searches; interception of correspondence and telephone tapping; surveillance through agents; coercive public humiliation through self-criticism and repentance; humiliation of their human and creative dignity through mentors and guarantors; mental harassment of their family members; dooming them to intellectual and emotional solitude by turning their friends and relatives into informers and traitors. It is not even possible to list the inventions and the methods of inquisition and control over the individual, but their range, diversity and mass scale revealed to a sufficient degree the atmosphere of dictatorship and oppression of the individual, of creativity and the spirit, as the principal characteristic feature of the new social system.

Tsveti Ivanov, Editor-in-Chief of the opposition newspaper Svoboden Narod [Free People] was formally sentenced for his pacifist article “Don’t Destroy All Bridges.”6 The truth is that his life was ruined as a result of his active role in the fight of the legal opposition against the communist dictatorship that was gaining momentum and on account of his numerous journalistic articles. The journalist was kept in isolation in cell No. 107 of the Central Prison in Sofia and was subjected to interrogations for 15 hours a day for one month. In addition to the external pressure and the traumatic circumstances, the conscience of that intellectual was burdened also with his own recapitulations and torments. Experiencing bitter moments of depression on account of the mistakes of his party, the Bulgarian Workers’ Social-Democratic Party, and a sense of guilt for having collaborated with the communists, Tsveti Ivanov came to the thought of suicide, as can be seen from the reports of the investigator. In a letter to his sister Vyara he also shared that he was thinking of hanging himself in his prison cell with his face towel. According to him, that was the only way of “crying out – a deafening cry for humaneness and love for man.”7 The stress experienced broke irreversibly the prisoner’s mentality and spirit. One of his friends and future professor of medicine, Dr. Ivan Roumenov, testified that Tsveti fell gravely ill in prison of “blood poisoning, bad teeth and stress, and we nearly lost him.”8 Doctor friends of his saved him after he came out of prison, but there was no salvation for him in a general perspective, because he was marked by the hatred of the communist rulers. He was arrested for the third time and was sent to the concentration camp on the island of Belene in the Danube on 5 March 1950. His end is an eloquent proof of the inhuman nature of the communist tyranny. After pricking himself on a rusty nail in Belene, Tsveti was denied a tetanus shot with the argument that “there are no syringes for the likes of him.” He developed tetanus with blocking and paralysis of the respiratory muscles. Such was the meaningless death of a man who was only 36 at the time, one of the most brilliant Bulgarian journalists, a man with European thinking and tolerance. A ray of reason and noble spirit went out in Bulgaria, and the Bulgarian national culture was deprived of one of its indisputable creative talents.

Trifon Kounev, humorist, poet, satirist, – Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper Narodno Zemedelsko Zname [People’s Agrarian Banner], President of the Union of Bulgarian Writers and Director of the National Theatre, active public figure and member of the Standing Committee of the Nikola Petkov Bulgarian Agrarian People’s Union, was the victim of a cruel campaign in the media in 1946-1947, public beatings9 and judiciary arbitrariness. He was tried twice for the same thing: for his preface entitled “Some Clarifications by the Author” to his book of feuilletons Small and Tiny as Camels (1946) and for one sentence he spent six years in the communist prisons in Sofia and in Sliven.10 After the first five months in prison, he was released as Member of Parliament in the Sixth Grand National Assembly. However, the writer suffered a heart attack on 5 June 1947, when the opposition agrarian leader Nikola Petkov was stripped of his immunity and was arrested directly in Parliament, after shameful scenes of beatings and humiliation. Soon afterwards the trial was renewed and the 68-year-old writer was sentenced to five years imprisonment. The humiliations and the suffering broke his strong peasant physical stamina and the author of the “tiny camels” fell severely ill with heart failure and diabetes. His file is full of petitions by his sister Gena Mileva to the Ministry of the Interior and Georgi Dimitrov for the very sick man to be at least transferred to the prison in Sofia so that she could take care of him. One year of his sentence was pardoned, but the prisoner refused to come out of jail (an unimaginable ethical paradox!) because he felt that he had betrayed the other prisoners who were not released. He was also plagued by the feeling of rejection and solitude out of jail, in the radically changed and alien environment to him. The writer understood well that there was no boundary between prison and freedom in the totalitarian system and that the individual was equally enslaved both inside prison and outside. And he was right in this, since in the last three years his life was again the “object” of interest on the part of the secret services, being surrounded by dozens of informers and full-time agents who followed every step and every word of the poor man. The fate of Tsveti Ivanov and Trifon Kounev testifies to the destructive influence of the political repression on a person’s life and creative potential. The burden of psychological pressure and physical suffering ruined the health and broke the spirit of these creative individuals, and none of the two even thought of writing anything or creating a work of art or literature. Conversely, feeling oppressed under the burden of a hostile reality, both men saw death as a salvation. The attitude to the famous artists, public figures and spiritual leaders demonstrates that the dictatorship of the proletariat was genetically marked by hostility and hatred for free thought, for the independent spirit and for the bearers of morality, cultural values and the spiritual prosperity of the nation being not among its priorities.

This is the same situation as a result of which the unique artist of the Bulgarian-Macedonian antiquity Dimiter Talev barely survived in the Koutsiyan concentration camp, after his camp mates took him out half-dead from a pile of coal that collapsed over him. Already suffering from gastric ulcer and utter exhaustion, he was deported for six years together with his family to the small town of Loukovit, where he lived in misery without having the right to work and to publish.11 His novel The Iron Candlestick – the work of his life and a masterpiece of classical Bulgarian novels – spent six years in some drawer of Georgi Karaslavov after it was completed in 1946, probably to prevent it from eclipsing Karaslavov’s novel Ordinary People. The writer’s drama caused by the forced isolation was devastating for him: his life was devoid of meaning if he could not express the tragic epos of the fights and sufferings of Macedonia that were heaving in his soul. However, that was not the only tragedy in his life. The pressure over him became more and more perfidious: in 1951, the authorities forced Dimiter Talev to repent in public and to castigate himself for his patriotic emotions and writings in the past while he was editor of the Macedonia newspaper and a close associate of the eminent Macedonian opposition leader Ivan (Vanche) Mihaylov. That was the condition for his readmission to the Union of Bulgarian writers and for the subsequent publishing of his works. In the meantime, the State Security conducted a special campaign under the code name “Samouilov” with the aim of involving the ill writer in the counterintelligence system instead of writing his brilliant books. The most painful torture and humiliation in the martyr’s biography of the “former fascist” – as the secret services qualified him – was the outrage against his son, who was summoned to the Ministry of the Interior while he was still in high school to sign a declaration that he would be loyal to the authorities. Even after Talev’s rehabilitation and after the four volumes of his epic saga about the Bulgarian National revival period were published, the surveillance and spying continued: a sketch of his apartment, which was made so as to allow easy breaking in, dates back to 1958. Numerous informers and neighbourhood agents continued to snoop around and to report on him. Paid ideological mentors criticised his historical chronicles for their lack of correct Marxist-Leninist world outlook and at the same time pressured him to write a novel about the socialist system. Nevertheless, they were unable to break the spirit of the writer, fanatically dedicated to his spiritual mission. During the six years of relative freedom, although he was very ill, Dimiter Talev performed a real creative and moral feat by managing to publish his remarkable tetralogy and the novels about King Samouil, as well as a number of other works. However, the intensive campaigns of the secret services were successful and they attained their goal: total exhaustion of the writer until his gastric ulcer degenerated to cancer that took Talev’s prematurely and he passed away in 1966, in spite of the belated honours and awards.

Svetozar Akendiev Dimitrov, with pen name Zmey Goryanin, was one of the most prolific and popular authors in the 1930s and 1940s, author of a large number of works: more than 30 historical novels, fiction and short stories, of hundreds of epigrams and lyrical poems, a talented story-teller of children’s fairy-tales and nursery rhymes. In addition, he was a Renaissance man with encyclopaedic interests, keen and diverse interests in the arts and in the world. The strong love for the heroic past of the Bulgarian nation, the patriotic feelings and pride permeating his books, were presented as his political sin and as an unpardonable crime after 9 September 1944. After he was arrested and sentenced by the People’s Tribunal for “anti-Serbian chauvinism” and for his stories on Macedonia during World Ware II, Zmey Goryanin spent one year in prison, but did not stop writing secretly political epigrams, poems and autobiographical notes. After he came out of prison, all doors related to his career were slammed in his face. His books were included in the lists of prohibited publications as “fascist literature” and many of them cannot be found in the libraries even now. The controlled “freedom” in which he found himself was maybe even more painful than the freedom that had been taken away from him, because the constant surveillance and the invisible threat provoked a constant anxiety and tension in the sensitive mentality of the artist. There is a strange paradox that we discovered in the life of Zmey Goryanin after 9 September 1944: the physician who undertook the treatment of his shattered nervous system and of his strong stomach pain subsequently proved to be the informer who kept watch on him, provoked him with conversations on political topics and reported about him to the State Security services.12 That socialist doctor with a state security mentality and a split personality was also a case study in the sphere of psychopathology. Just like the two-faced Janus, he easily stepped from one role into the other: a friend and a traitor, a healer and a henchman. He pretended that he was treating the physical suffering of the writer, while behind the scenes he provoked psychological harassment against him by causing searches of his home to be made, his documents to be confiscated and all his contacts monitored. It became transparent in which of his two roles he was more efficient by the fact that the delicate psychological frame and the fragile physical condition of his patient could not withstand the stress and he found himself in one of the saddest medical institution: the psychiatric hospital in Kourilo near Sofia. The morbid condition of his soul and body gradually transformed his gastric ulcer into incurable cancer. Tormented by his diseases and by his enslaved everyday life, by the misery and above all by the prohibition to work, Zmey Goryanin hid in small remote monasteries. However, the vigilant eye of the secret services did not leave him in peace even there until his last breath.

In addition to the misery and isolation, the great intellectuals were also subjected to moral harassment and arbitrariness by the communist party bosses. They were forced to make humiliating public confessions and to repent. I already mentioned Talev’s self-incrimination in the Pirinsko Delo newspaper.13 Vladimir Vassilev was also forced to write a letter of repentance to the communist dignitary Vulko Chervenkov. The poet Slavcho Krassinski maligned himself and repented twice in public, always for his book of feuilletons entitled Failed Revolutionaries. The ignorant political scum forced the capable and the talented people of Bulgaria to fall at their feet and to beg for mercy as criminals, confessing on their own and in public that they were part of the slave mass and that nothing distinguished them from the docile cringing crowd. After such a moral suicide, the writer could not be anything else but a pitiable clown in the eyes of the rulers and in the eyes of the nation as well. He was deprived for life of his influence and public prestige, deprived of dignity, valour, independent and elevated spirit. However, Bulgarian society was even more damaged by the political Jesuitism, having been deprived methodically of its moral authorities, of its humane ideals and artistic values. It is becoming morally and spiritually impoverished, losing its civilisational guidelines and is turning into a pitiable crowd concerned solely with its biological survival and day-to-day prosperity, and this is the crowd of slavery and fear that is convenient to the power of every oligarchy. In the space emptied of spiritual values, talented art and free speech were artificially substituted for decades with propaganda surrogates of “active fighters against fascism” and obsequious individuals, and they were imposed upon society. The hatred of the literary apprentices towards the recognised creative figures and the cultural achievements was indeed “strong, deep and in their blood” – as the communist author Orlin Vassilev bragged.14 For a long period of time the psychological climate of Bulgaria was poisoned by the class hatred, it was the leitmotif in the social and interpersonal relations of the socium, and the young generations were brought up on it. The cultured language of communication and tolerance was substituted by the language of hatred, of division and of spite. Crudeness, vulgarity and simplistic vocabulary settled in public speech, spread through the media, penetrated permanently into the mentality and behaviour of the so-called socialist person. The psycholinguistic discourse was one of the catalysts in which the brutal character of the dictatorship became blatantly manifested: the aggressiveness, the ugly names used and the illiteracy were addressed at first to the so-called “enemies of the people”, but they subsequently turned into speech characteristics signifying self-destructive cruelty of the socialist society and of the political system. Language and speech were perceived not as a haven of spirituality and as a historical value, they were not likewise the identification code of the ethnic community, but they turned instead into a hollow propaganda or hypocritical phraseology, devoid of sacred meaning, of substance and of authenticity.

The web of spies and snoopers of the secret services around the old cultural figures was something amazing and it was thrown over all spheres of life. In addition to the full-time agents and career officers, it also consisted of secret agents on the payroll of the organisation, anonymous voluntary collaborators from the residential neighbourhood or apartment building, and informers at the job. The highest number of agents and informers recruited were among the fellow party-members of the “objects” of the surveillance. Another vulnerable and easily accessible group, in the perception of the political police, were the former political figures, above all the supporters of Ivan (Vanche) Mihaylov and agrarians, people from the concentration camps from Nikola Petkov’s agrarian party and the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation, all of whom were frightened and broken, because they had suffered the greatest cruelties and atrocities after the coup. The drastic examples in that respect can be seen in the dossiers of Trifon Kounev, Dimiter Talev and the Moutafov family, which have already been described in the book Writers and Secret Files.

However, the culmination in the repressive saga was the recruitment or infiltration of agents among the circles of relatives and friends, even in the family of the person subjected to the repressions. The aim of the authorities was to desecrate and break the most intimate relations, the blood relations among the people and Bulgarians to be deprived of the love and trust of the closest people around them, of the moral support of their families and their closest relatives. Thus, miserable and lonely, the persecuted man turned into a defenceless and dependent victim in the vigilant eyes of the authorities. Human depravity of such a type has been documented in Trifon Kounev’s dossier, e.g., agent “Makedonski,” who reported about the letters of his brother-in-law and about his father Hristo Statev, former members of Nikola Petkov’s agrarian party and emigrants in Austria, as well as an agent under the name of “Uncle” concealing a relative of the writer.

An encroachment upon all real relations, the destruction of the intimacy and trust in interpersonal contacts is the least pardonable and the most antihuman crime of the State Security. This encroachment undermined not only the private communities, it destroyed irreparably essential ethical and spiritual pillars of the nation: conscience and morality. Instead of love and confidence, tolerance and charity for half a century, the mentality of the Bulgarians was infested with fear, hatred, suspicion, meanness, egotism and careerism. The moral characteristics of the community were deliberately atrophied and eradicated, so that it could be mentally adapted to a misanthropic doctrine. Its main aim was to depersonalise and subordinate man, transforming him into a spineless and lonely creature, deprived of high aspirations and unfamiliar with freedom, pride and dignity of the moral values. However, that image mirrors the paranoia of fear as a dominant characteristic in the psychology of the ruling party and of the community. The rulers were also irrepressibly afraid: not of imaginary enemies, not of actions and resistance, but of the thoughts and feelings of the oppressed and disillusioned docile subjects. This is the reason behind the aspirations to penetrate the motivations, the mechanisms of the consciousness of the individual, so that “its chip could be changed” – a recent wishful thinking of the present rulers. The information gathered by an all-permeating and powerfully organised network of control was an important instrument of psychological processing. It took a keen interest in everything connected with the origin, family, the past, the family, the children, the friends and the acquaintances, the work, the books, the material and financial status, the intimate life, the health, the everyday life, the meetings, the walks and food of the “unexterminated enemies” (according to the terminology of the State Security). In addition to the concrete person, life per se was also intercepted, and it had a secret shadow patched up by pieces of slander and pieces of reports by the informers. In addition to being oneself, a person became someone else as well, and life was no longer a gift and beauty, it became an evil-smelling swamp, misery, meanness, scheming, treacheries and mass paranoia. This degenerate monster, conceived in the secret lairs of power, was filled only with the meanest and the basest that could be invented about man, because the valuable, the noble and the humane were ruled out by default and imperatively: everyone was an enemy and a scoundrel unless otherwise proven. The watchdogs of the system operated with the parallel virtual reality invented by them and substituted the real person and the reality of life with the paranoia and nightmares of power. The shadow-dossier accompanied man at every time and in every place that he went. Such were the sufferings of the Bulgarian martyrs until they left this world and their ungrateful fatherland. There was no leniency for any of them while they were alive and even after their death. Removal from the operational files of surveillance was possible only when the “objects” were one step from the grave or actually in the grave. However, even then, the revenge and the spite were fierce and active in a typical communist fashion. Trifon Kounev was deprived of his Sofia residence permit three months prior to his death, and the agents accompanied him all the way to his grave to report on who attended the funeral and what speeches were made. The last “operational plan for the activities of the agents”15 against the polyphonic artist, thinker and architect Chavdar Moutafov was drafted on 4 January 1958, when he was on his deathbed. Crushed and incurably ill of pulmonary emphysema since his sufferings in the concentration camp, and broken by the incessant aggression against his family, the writer died on 13 January 1958, but the “Architect” secret file was closed as late as on the 21st.

Obituaries and speeches at the grave of Vladimir Vassilev were forbidden, after the authorities had isolated the famous literary critic and eminent builder of Bulgarian culture from the literary life in the country during his lifetime and had doomed him to misery.16 That humiliating scene demonstrates how for two decades the obsequiousness, docility, auto-censorship, careerism and introvertness had already turned into a socio-psychological climate and also into the immanent nature of the socialist worker, if he succeeded in subordinating even the famous and talented names of socialist art, judging from the people who accompanied the editor of the Zlatorog literary magazine on his last journey.

The examples outline the gigantic scale of an unimaginably bloated metastasis sucking the vital and intellectual sap of the Bulgarian nation. It corrupted and morally crippled several generations by paying to its enormous number of collaborators not for their constructive efforts in favour of society, but for idleness, espionage and reporting. Such were the people launched by the State Security machine into various careers, they stood at the head of diplomacy and the institutions, the administration and the economic enterprises, their main task being to suppress and bully the intelligent, talented and capable people.

Dozens of remarkable names faded in cultural memory over the years, thousands of titles in Bulgarian and foreign literatures were plunged into oblivion. The earlier European enlightenment and education of the Bulgarians was deliberately lowered and provincialised in the rigid fetters of the quasi-scientific canons of “Marxism.” Being wrung from its old and strong classical roots, from the Christian literary tradition and from the world cultural background, Bulgarian literature fell to the low level of everyday existence and was marginalised, being infinitely alienated from the existential secrets of the human being. Dominated by propaganda rhetoric, full of falsehood and petty themes, it modelled and “educated” the surrealistic person of the 20th century: rigid, half-educated, without historical memory, torn away from the enormous metaphysical world, without high ideals, unaware of the great classical art and of the vanguard trends, light years behind the philosophy of the new civilisation. And that was compensated by complacency, a full stomach and lack of responsibilities, thriving in the “socialist camp” and in the anonymous existence of the herd psychology.

At the end of the day, it was the metastasis of terror that undermined and toppled the system that it had created and nurtured. Unfortunately, it swallowed the entire state as well. We continue to reap the harvest of the barbaric atrocities over the class of the intellectuals to this day: the ignorance and national nihilism, moral and social degradation, and their horrifying drastic manifestations like the inhuman cruelty of murderers of children and of their fathers, or beast-like mutants without any conscience or moral values, ready to sell their children for a handful of silver pieces and other depressing examples of the tragic everyday life of Bulgaria, which is standing at the threshold of Europe as an unwanted beggar in its tattered rags.

This is also the tragic and comic finale of the era whose starting signal was given by the sinister date for Bulgarian history: 9 September 1944.

1 Unpublished memoirs.

2 Interrogation of Boris Yotsov in the Archives of the Ministry of the Interior. Answer of Professor Boris Yotsov to the People's Tribunal on Case No. 1/1944, with submitted evidence in writing. Sofia, 15 December 1944 (in Bulgarian).

3 NMBL Archive, a.u. 666/79 (in Bulgarian).

4 Minutes No. 4 of the Union of Bulgarian Writers, 19 November 1944, State Historical Archives, f. 551, a.u. 4 (in Bulgarian).

5 List of fascist literatures subject to expropriation under Decree XII of the Council of Ministers. Sofia, 6 October 1944 (in Bulgarian).

6 Secret file of Tsveti Ivanov in the Archive of the Ministry of the Interior, Fund No. 2, op. 2, a.u. 101. Case No. 282/1946 (in Bulgarian).

7 Ibidem.

8 Memoirs of Professor Ivan Roumenov, State Historical Archives, a.u. 55 (in Bulgarian).

9 Rabotnichesko Delo daily, No. 356/12 June 1946, An Incident with Nikola Petkov and Trifon Kounev (in Bulgarian).

10 Secret file of Tsveti Ivanov in the Archive of the Ministry of the Interior, Fund No. 3, op. 2, a.u. 212. File No. 4609 of the Second Court. Indictment No. 15266/1946 (in Bulgarian).

11 Secret file of Dimiter Talev in the Archive of the Ministry of the Interior, Fund No. 3, op. 2, a.u. 112. Statement of facts sent to Deputy-Minister Roussi Hristozov, who was responsible for the State Security. Sofia, 3 June 1948 (in Bulgarian).

12 Archive of the Ministry of the Interior, File No. 16549, sheet 6 (in Bulgarian).

13 Otechestven Front daily, No. 390/1945 (in Bulgarian).

14 Otechestven Front daily, No. 390/1945 (in Bulgarian).

15 Dossier of Chavdar Moutafov, sheet 40 and sheet 1.

16 Vladimir Vassilev. Work, Personality, Fate, Sofia, 1997 (in Bulgarian); Svilenov, A. Critical Triptych for Vladimir Vassilev (in Bulgarian); Stamatov, V. Let Us Wash the Shame a Little at Least, Sofia, p. 246-248 (in Bulgarian).


Translation into English: Nedyalka Chakalova

The International Condemnation of Totalitarian Communism: the Initiative of the European People's Party. The Bulgarian Perspective.
Excerpts from the reports presented at the Colloquium in Koprivshtitsa (Bulgaria) 24-26 September 2004
Compiled by Vassil Stanilov, Edited by Nadejda Iskrova
Vassil Stanilov Literature Workshop, Sofia 2004

ISBN 954-8248-30-1

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