Stalinism Revisited: The Establishment of Communist Regimes in East-Central Europe

By Vladimir Tismaneanu | Go to book overview

EKATERINA NIKOVA


Bulgarian Stalinism Revisited

Any attempt to set the chronological boundaries of Bulgarian Stalinism puts us in the middle of two continuing debates. The first one is the great controversy about who unraveled the wartime alliance and when, subsequently starting the Cold War and provoking the division of Europe. An implicit subplot to this story is whether Stalin had a master plan to Bolshevize Eastern Europe and if so what place Bulgaria held in it.1 The second one is the domestic Bulgarian debate about the nature of the autochthonous developments in 1944-47 and their correlation to endogenous and exogenous factors driving these developments.

The pre-1989 Bulgarian historiography tended to present the period as a struggle between the progressive forces and the reactionary counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie. A voluminous literature studied meticulously “the historical prerequisites for the socialist revolution” and the “correlation between the external and the internal factor,” stressing the importance of the latter. The role of the communist party (then called Bulgarian Workers' Party) and the scope of the communist-led anti-fascist resistance were grossly exaggerated. The role of the Soviet Union was acknowledged with gratitude, but it was gradually reduced to that of “an active support.”2 The period was characterized as the defeat of the bourgeois opposition, the establishment and consolidation of

1 For an analysis of recent scholarship, see Melvyn P. Leffler, “The Cold
War: What 'Do We Now Know?'” The American Historical Review, Vol. 104,
No. 2 (April 1999); Eduard Mark, Revolution by Degrees: Stalin's National-
Front Strategy for Europe, 1941-1947
, Woodrow Wilson International Center
for Scholars Cold War International History Project, Working Paper No. 31,
Washington, D.C., February 2001.

2Kratka istoriia na Bulgaria, “Nauka i izkustvo,” Sofia, 1983, p. 416.

-283-

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