Bulgaria's Museum of Socialist Art - Hall of Fame or Hall of Shame
In the eve of September 9, the date the Communist regime was established in Bulgaria in 1944, and September 7th, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Communist Dictator, Todor Zhivkov, Sofia will launch the first ever Museum of Socialist Art while a monument of Zhivkov will be erected in the yard in front of his house in his native town of Pravets.
Bulgarian Culture Minister, Vezhdi Rashidov, insists the museum aims at teaching history to the country's young generation. According to him, many of the works – painting and statues have artistic value beyond the frame of common propaganda.
And here comes the endless debate if such museums venerate totalitarian times or teach about the looming dangers of any dictatorship.
Bulgaria is one of the last former Socialist countries to have such museum, distantly following in the footsteps of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and others, which do not seem to be at all terrified about being doomed to Communism...
Our acceptance of our Communist past is long overdue.
We need the museum to showcase this past not only because socialist symbols across Europe are a strong attractive point for a number of travelers seeking the exotic. We need it to house and explain the regime's controversial vestiges, (such as the Monument of the Soviet Army), strewn all over the country.
In addition to what Rashidov says will be portraits and statues glorifying Communist leaders and the exploits of the working class, and to saddles bestowed by cut-throats (the Todor Zhivkov museum boasts as a focal point a camel saddle given as a gift by now-struggling Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi), the display should include pictures of the Belene concentration camp and other camps, of tortured victims, their witness accounts, of all infinite atrocities committed by the regime, of the endless lines over the constant shortage of basic staples...
In order to teach history, get rid of Communist mentality, bring an end to Communist nostalgia and to fears of totalitarian rebirth, our brand-new and needed museum must become a true Hall of Shame, instead of a Hall of Fame.
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