Dictionary of East European History since 1945

By Joseph Held | Go to book overview
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People's Courts (see People's Courts), under the jurisdiction of the ministry of justice. The courts gave out death sentences freely.

All politicians of the wartime Bulgarian scene who did not leave the country met their deaths by the courts. The leaders of the democratic opposition were given long prison terms. It was officially stated later that the People's Courts had given out 2,138 death sentences and 1,940 long-term prison sentences; however, the actual numbers must have been much higher. This was the bloodiest conquest of power in all of Eastern Europe.

The Fatherland Front was also used to create communist-dominated local governments. Tsola Dragoicheva, a member of the Communist party's Central Committee, was instrumental in this process. The Fatherland Front's local committees effectively eliminated the opposition in the countryside, using the People's Militia for the purpose. The collaborators, Petkov and Chezhmedzhiev, and their followers became the next targets. Their "crime" was that each had an independent power base. Petkov was not only the leader of the left-wing Agrarians (see Agrarian Union), but after the leader of the majority Agrarians was hounded out of the country, Petkov became his successor.

Petkov was, at first, removed from his post in the Fatherland Front. Chezhmedzhiev shared Petkov's fate later. The front was, therefore, "cleansed" of its former leaders except the communists. For the rest of the communist rule of Bulgaria, the Fatherland Front remained an empty shell, used for the purposes of mass mobilization. As a mass organization, the Fatherland Front had 4 million members in 1980, including members of the Agrarian Union, the trade unions, and the Dimitrov Communist Youth Association. It was used to nominate people for the rigged elections that were held every four years and other efforts of social mobilization.


Brown J. F., Bulgaria Under Communist Rule ( New York, 1970); Dellin L. A.D., Bulgaria ( New York, 1956); Mcintyre Robert J., Bulgaria: Politics, Economics and Society ( London-New York, 1988); Skilling Harold, The Governments of Communist Eastern Europe ( New York, 1966).

Foreign Relations. Bulgaria was the most loyal ally of the Soviet Union for during four-and-a-half decades of Communist rule. In foreign policy, its regime kept strictly to the Soviet line even at the expense of sacrificing Bulgarian national interests. When discussing the refusal of the Bulgarian communist leaders to avail themselves of opportunities of gaining some measure of independence, several reasons must be considered. First of all, these leaders were devoted communists who honestly believed that the interests of the Soviet Union were the same as those of Bulgaria. In addition, there was a historical tradition of friendship between the two peoples. Common religion, and common cultural characteristics added to the historical traditions. Furthermore, by being the most loyal ally, Bulgaria received plenty of rewards.

Unlike Albania or Romania, Bulgaria was the recipient of Soviet economic help


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Dictionary of East European History since 1945
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