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The People’s Republic of Bulgaria Bulgaria Under Communist Rule, 1944-1989.

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Presentation on theme: "The People’s Republic of Bulgaria Bulgaria Under Communist Rule, 1944-1989."— Presentation transcript:

1 The People’s Republic of Bulgaria Bulgaria Under Communist Rule, 1944-1989

2 Rise to Power Several factors aided the Bulgarian Worker’s Party (BWP) rise to power: Initially, they were popular among the urban intelligentsia Close association with the Russians appealed to Bulgaria’s traditional russophilia Soviets controlled the Allied Control Commission The Red Army was to remain in Bulgaria until a peace treaty was made Winston Churchill agreed that Bulgaria was to be part of the Soviet sphere of influence

3 Kimon Georgiev

4 Kimon Georgiev, Sofia 1946

5 Consolidating Power Placed political commissars in the army and removed eight hundred officers considered politically unreliable Controlled the radio and distribution of newspapers Local FF committees harassed, arrested, and murdered priests, policemen, teachers and others The General Workers’ Trade Union and local Workers’ Councils monitored businesses and industrial production

6 Consolidating Power, cont. Communists controlled both the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice Created a new police force, the People’s Militia Created a secret political police with Soviet advisors The new people’s courts were responsible for punishing the political elites and the intelligentsia  In February 1945, police arrested former regents, royal advisors, all members of the subraine and all who had served in government since 1941. This eliminated the old right and center of Bulgarian politics.

7 Consolidating Power, cont. Created splits and divisions within other parties, including the BANU and the Social Democrats Transferred control of the military from the Ministry of War to the cabinet Elections and referendums Referendum on the monarchy resulted in the declaration of a republic Undemocratic elections resulted in communist dominance over the new Grand National Assembly (GNA) Fatherland Front: 364 sears, of which 277 were given to communists; Opposition: 101 seats

8 Opposition and the Agrarians Most of the peasants, who made up 4/5ths of the population, remained loyal to the BANU. Communists were losing support both domestically and internationally due to falling standards of living and opposition to their policies. In 1945, BANU leader Nikola Petkov resigned from the cabinet and formed his own group, the BANU – Nikola Petkov (BANU-NP) Protested communist incompetence, boycotted undemocratic elections, and demanded a return to the Turnovo constitution In June 1947 he was arrested and put to death, breaking the opposition Peasant resistance to collectivization of the land continued for a few more years, but resistance ceased by 1951

9 Dimitrov Constitution Drafted in the USSR Ratified by the GNA in December 1947 Declared Bulgaria a “people’s republic” Created a Soviet-style system in which all power was concentrated in the hand of the communist party BANU allowed to exist, but was powerless. It remained a coalition party until 1989.

10 Nikola Petkov on trial, 1947

11 Georgi Dimitrov

12 Communist Policies Policies against the bourgeoisie Restrictions on profits, limited the amount of living space, required the rapid repayment of arrears, currency reform disadvantaged those with savings, and taxes were levied on savings Nomenklatura – lists of people considered trustworthy enough to hold key administrative positions Integrated Bulgaria within the Stalin’s system of political and economic alliances Instigated the first five year plan in 1949 Key decisions were made by the Politoburo, which were implemented by local party cell, which oversaw all factories and places of work

13 Purges and Persecution The scale of persecution in Bulgaria was extreme. The People’s Courts handed down sentences on 11,000 defendants 2,000 death sentences were carried out Purges of the army led to the removal of thousands of officers The Exarch Stefan was forced to a monastery, and the clergy was forced to choose between subjugating themselves to the state or being sent to work camps Within the Communist Party, over 100,000 party members were expelled, mostly to labor camps, in the late 1940s

14 Rise of Todor Zhivkov, 1953-1965

15 Rise of Todor Zhikov, 1953-1965 On 3 rd March 1953, Stalin died, and the communist regime in Bulgaria had to adapt to new Soviet attitudes Led to improved relations with Yugoslavia, the USA, Greece, West Germany, and France Terror relaxed Then-prime minister Vulko Chervenko stepped down from position of General Secretary, giving it to Todor Zhikov

16 Rise of Todor Zhivkov, 1953-1965 Khrushchev’s rehabilitation of Tito and denouncing of Stalin were fatal political blows to Chervenkov, and he resigned as Prime Minister in April 1956. Replaced by Anton Yugov; Zhivkov remained loyal to Khrushchev Despite Zhivkov’s terrible mismanagement of the economy, in 1962 Moscow engineered his victory over Yugov Zhivkov was slavishly loyal to Khrushchev, but he had managed to build enough support within the politiburo to survive his patron’s downfall

17 The Zhivkovshtina, 1965-1981 A new constitution was developed in 1971 Despite the creation of a new political body and a new party program, it did not change much about Zhivkov’s rule The main aspect of his regime was still complete obedience to the Soviet Union New diplomatic and economic links were made with Germany and Africa Looked toward the scientific and technological revolution to create “intensive growth” and create wealth Bulgaria began manufacturing low-quality magnetic disks and computer parts for the Eastern European market

18 The Zhivkovshtina, 1965-1981 Communists encouraged nationalism to enhance its own legitimacy In the early ’70s, Turkified Pomaks were required to adopt Slav names and those who resisted were imprisoned Increased immigration among the Turks was encouraged Turkish and Roma textbooks, theater, newspaper, and magazines were oppressed

19 Nationalism and Liudmila Zhivkova Became the head of the committee for art and culture in 1975 Responsible for radio, television, and the press In 1980, she was responsible for the politburo on science, art, and culture Stressed Bulgaria’s long cultural traditions and the uniqueness of those traditions Died in 1981 at the age of 39

20 Liudmila Zhivkova

21 Apathy and Opposition Resistance against the state was weaker during the 1950s- 1970s than elsewhere in Eastern Europe Lack of an independent church to provide leadership Rise in the standards of living compared to the beginning of communist rule Terror had been relaxed Economically, Bulgaria benefitted from economic specialization schemes introduced by the Comecon These agreements provided Bulgaria with a market for its goods as well as cheap prices for imported oil from the Soviet Union

22 Decline and Fall of Zhivkov, 1981- 1989 Several scandals tarnished Bulgaria’s image at home and abroad Economic problems Bulgaria’s reliance on western goods inflated the national debt The planned economy could not keep up with the rapid changes in computer technology The low quality of Bulgarian goods meant the country had little to trade with the rest of Europe

23 Decline and Fall of Zhivkov, 1981- 1989 The New Economic Mechanism was applied to the economy in 1982 in an attempt to address these problems Its goal was to raise productivity and improve quality, but faced serious obstacles, including: Need to tackle foreign debt deprived Bulgarians of the best quality goods Energy imports were becoming more expensive Most importantly, Bulgarian managers were not trained to operate in a western-style economy that stressed self-reliance and economic-driven decisions As a result, there was no hope for a rise in living standards for the first time in twenty years, and at the same time Bulgarians were being exposed to living standards elsewhere

24 The Regenerative Process The forced assimilation of the Turks Forcing Bulgarian Turks to take Slavic names Closed Turkish newspapers and radio broadcasts The speaking of Turkish in public was outlawed Prohibited Islamic customs, like the washing of the dead and circumcision Bulgaria was internationally condemned, including Moscow

25 Rise of Gorbachev Gorbachev was content to allow each East European state to conduct its own affairs Zhivkov was slow to realize that the Kremlin was now indifferent to what happened to him Gorbachev himself was now the source of subversive ideas; Soviet control of the media now served to introduce these ideas to the Bulgarian public These three factors combined to severally damage Zhivkov’s regime

26 The End In the mid-80s, the Communist Party attempted to transition the economy to one that was more self-managing In August 1987, reforms abolished several ministries, extended the power of local governments, and economic reforms that only served to dislocate economic administration Meanwhile, discontent began to spread throughout the Bulgarian intelligentsia Environmental degredation and pollution created agitation among the Bulgarian public Oppositionist groups and independent trade unions began to spring up in 1988 In 1989 Zhivkov announced that the Turks were free to emigrate; about 344,000 Turks left Bulgaria Zhivkov resigned on 10 November 1989, after Petur Mladenov, a member of the politburo led a successful opposition against him


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