Why Bulgarians Want to Conserve Communist Monuments
All over the world, statues and monuments which celebrate controversial periods of history are being reconsidered and, in some cases, removed. In the US, for example, more than 100Confederate memorials have been dismantled after becoming targets of protest and vandalism. But elsewhere, some attitudes about countries’ historical pasts are very different and, as my research in eastern Europe (specifically Bulgaria) has found, some people believe monuments which celebrate history from which the world has moved on should be conserved.
There are thousands of monuments representing the Soviet and communist past in the countries formerly considered to be part of the Eastern Bloc. Bulgarian monuments in particular often celebrate fraternity and alliances (usually with Russia) and commemorate specific events such as World War II, or the liberation from the Ottoman Empire.
Some are monumental in size – such as the monument dedicated to the foundation of the Bulgarian state in the Shumen province, north-eastern Bulgaria – and sit in high and conspicuous locations, presiding over the surrounding landscape. Others stand quietly on the outskirts of sleepy towns and villages. The memorial for Dimitâr Blagoev, the founder of Bulgarian socialism, situated between the town of Kran and the Buzludzha peak in central Bulgaria, is one such example.
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