Sharp political differences between left and right in Bulgaria were again exposed on September 9 2015, the anniversary of the 1944 coup d’état which led to the communist takeover of the country.
The overthrow of the Bulgarian government towards the end of World War 2 took place as Soviet forces invaded Bulgaria, four days after the Kremlin had declared war on Bulgaria, which had been an ally of Germany in the war.
The communist takeover was accompanied by murders of many people, from mayors to priests to police and army officers, and later was a followed by “People’s Courts” and repression which resulted in the killings of many thousands of Bulgaria, as the communist regime strengthened its grasp on the country. Communist rule was to last until 1989.
In a statement read in the National Assembly on September 9 2015, the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party – lineal successor to the Bulgarian Communist Party – described September 9 1944 as a “remarkable date in our history”.
For the centre-right Reformist Bloc coalition, a minority partner in the current government, it was a “grim date”.
“September 9 symbolises the contribution of the Bulgarian resistance against fascism. This date ensured the reorientation of Bulgaria, an ally of Nazi Germany, into a country that fought on the side of allied nations,” the statement, read by BSP MP Yanaki Stoilov, said.
“In the decades after September 9 1944, Bulgaria reached the Top 30 countries in the world according to the Human Development Index and its economic capacity. Today we are comforted that we are in the EU, although we are in last place in it,” the BSP said.
Stoilov said that it was good to remember what the majority of Bulgarian citizens had lost since the country began the political and ideological condemnation of the idea and the social practice of socialism.
He said that after 1989, people had been forced to deny and then to forget that everyone had had
“work, a home, security and guaranteed health care, universal education and a society without drastic social inequalities.”
According to the BSP, in recent years there were areas in which the country had achieved growth, but these were just in “unemployment and millionaires, in the illiterate and in those permanently leaving Bulgaria”.
The Reformist Bloc’s parliamentary group co-leader Radan Kanev said that September 9 marked 71 years since the culmination of a full century of a full century of political violence in Bulgarian history, which began with the “violent dethronement of Bulgarian monarch in 1886 and ended with the monstrous crime of the regeneration process.”
Kanev said it would take days to list the victims of repression immediately after September 9, with the vast majority of them having been active fighters who were against the inclusion of Bulgaria in siding with Germany in World War 2.
He referred to the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, which had seen Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union in agreement. Addressing himself to the BSP, he said that they had moved from one camp in the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact to that of another ally in the same pact, “from one twisted totalitarian regime of the 20th century to the other one”.
Kanev said that the socialist regime after September 9 had detached Bulgaria from normal European democratic values. In his words, this regime “will inevitably remain written in black letters in the pages of history of our country” and had driven hundreds of thousands of people outside Bulgaria.
He said that refugees who are now headed to Europe, “escape the same treatment in the same way that two-thirds of my peers fled between 1990 and 1995 from Bulgaria, the moment that the barbed wire fell.”
(Archive photo: The Soviet Army Monument in Sofia in May 2014, as augmented at the time by a projection of the EU symbol)