Dictionary of East European History since 1945

By Joseph Held | Go to book overview
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garian government This was part of the campaign, originating in Stalin's chambers, to discredit the United States in world opinion. In February 1950, the United States broke diplomatic relations with the Bulgarian state.

The Bulgarian Communist party continued to have periodic purges in order to suggest to its members that there was a constant danger of "capitalist" penetration of society and, therefore, there was need for ideological vigilance. The atmosphere was saturated with suspicion and allegations, making it easy for the secret police to recruit informers against those who were suspected of opposition to the regime. In 1962, Vulko Chervenkov (see Chervenkov, Vulko) and his successor, Anton Yugov (see Yugov, Anton), former prime ministers and secretaries general of the Bulgarian Communist party, were dismissed from all their party--and government posts. With them went Georgy Tsankov, the minister of the interior. Their followers were also purged. Even ordinary party members were not spared. Between 1949 and 1980, more than a quarter of the membership were expelled. Nevertheless, the number of party members continued to increase. By 1986, there were over 800,000 card-carrying communists out of a population of about 9 million.

In 1965, the Bulgarian secret police, in cooperation with the Soviet KGB, "uncovered" an alleged conspiracy for the overthrow of the government. Five high-level officers of the Bulgarian armed forces who had fought against the Germans as guerrillas in World War II, were tried and executed under false charges. In reality, their views conflicted with those of Todor Zhivkov (see Zhivkov, Todod), who saw them as his opponents. In the same year, Ivan-Asen Khristov-Georgiev, an infamous radical and KGB agent, responsible for the organization of an attack on the former embassy building of the United States in Sofia in 1963 and again in 1965, was himself arrested and accused of spying for the United States. He was subsequently tried and hanged. Later purges included officers of the secret police, especially those who were involved in torturing prisoners.


The Trial of Fifteen Pastor-Spies ( Sofia, 1949); The Trial of Nikola Petkov, August 5-15, 1947. Record of Judicial Proceedings ( Sofia, 1947); The Trial of Traicho Koslov and His Group ( Sofia, 1949).

Referendum of 1946. The referendum held in 1946 was an effort by the Bulgarian communist leadership to gain a legal basis for the abolition of the Bulgarian monarchy. Although the outcome of the referendum was a foregone conclusion, and the 99.6 percent vote for abolition was clearly unrealistic, there are good reasons to believe that the people's majority would have approved the measure even if the vote had not been rigged. All the more interesting to note that the communists were not taking any chances.

The king, Simeon II, escaped from the country after the coup d'etat of September 9, 1944, and, at the time of the referendum, was only nine years old. It is highly unlikely that he and his family would have contemplated returning to Bulgaria. The evi


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