1944-1947 1956-1969

Bulgaria a People's Republic, 1948-1956

Administration . Bulgaria was the first eastern European country to be declared a People's Republic (Dec. 1947). In 1948 the BWP was renamed BCP (Bulgarian Communist Party); it was the dominant force in the Fatherland Front, a coalition also including the Agrarian Union. The Fatherland Front presented one uniform list of candidates for the National Assembly, which voters could either approve or disprove. General elections were held in 1950 and 1954. The office of PM was held by Georgi Dimitrov (BCP, 1946-1949), Vasil Kolarov (BCP, 1949-1950), Vulko Chervenkov (BCP, 1950-1956). In 1947 Bulgaria had adopted a new constitution (the Dimitrov constitution).
Bulgaria experienced several waves of party purges and political trials.

Foreign Policy : In 1949 Bulgaria joined COMECON, in 1955 the Warsaw Pact. Bulgarian foreign policy followed the official Soviet line; yet there was a particular Bulgarian feature in it, hostility toward Yugoslavia (since 1948), which was tolerated by the USSR since Tito had broken with Stalin over acceptance of Marshall Plan aid in the early 1950es. Bulgaria still held up its old claim on Yugoslav Macedonia.
Relations with Greece also were strained, because of the Civil War going on there; Greek Communists sought refuge in Bulgaria and abducted Greek schoolchildren, bringing them across the border to Bulgaria to be raised in a communist society. Relations with Turkey also were poor; Bulgaria and the USSR accused Turkey of accepting Muslim refugees (from Bulgaria or Russia); Bulgaria on the other hand maltreated her Turkish and Bulgarian Muslim minority. Bulgaria had been given a peace treaty in 1947.
Diplomatic relations with the U.S. were severed in 1950.

Ethnic, Religious Minorities : The Dimitrov constitution granted ethnic minorities the right to have their children educated in their own language.
The government pursued a Communist version of a nationalist policy, with the result that almost the entire Jewish community emigrated in the early 1950es (during the war they had been interned), and the government encouraged the emigration of Bulgaria's ethnic Turkish minority, over 150,000 emigrated to Turkey.
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church was forced into line by sending the exarch into a monastery and forcing the Synod to elect a docile leader or else (1949); a law established the subjugation of the church under the state. Similarily, the Catholic and Protestant churches (of much less significance) experienced repression. The communist state later would promote atheism.

The Economy : Bulgaria still was a predominantly agrarian nation. Under communist rule, an industrialization of the economy was attempted, with limited success. The industry was nationalized, a planned economy introduced (1947), collectivization of agriculture enforced, partly against determined resistance. The cities have seen the emergence of high-rise apartment complexes, built in stereotypical manner using cheap materials, prone to quick decay.
In contrast to the other COMECON countries, Bulgaria did not revise the targets of her first Five Year Plan (1953-1957) upward.

Social History . Following the Soviet model, Bulgaria's constitution emphasized gender equality (women's suffrage had been introduced in 1944). The Bulgarian state spent great effort in providing access to basic education and health care to its citizens.

Cultural History . Bulgarian athletes participated in the Summer Olympics in Helsinki 1952 and Melbourne 1956. Bulgaria was not represented in the Summer Games in London 1948.

Articles Bulgarian Communist Party, Fatherland Front, Elections in Bulgaria, List of Prime Ministers of Bulgaria, Georgi Dimitrov, Vulko Chervenkov, Bulgaria at the 1952 Summer Olympics, Bulgaria at the 1956 Summer Olympics, from Wikipedia
Library of Congress, Country Studies : Bulgaria
A Readers' Guide to Bulgaria, from Bulgaria Info
Bulgaria : The Party System in 1950-1956 and 1957-1962, in : Kenneth Janda, Political Parties : A Cross-National Survey
DOCUMENTS Table of Bulgaria's Prime Ministers, 1879-present, from Bulgaria Online
World Statesmen : Bulgaria, from Ben Cahoon
Historical Population Statistics : Bulgaria, from Population Statistics, Univ. Utrecht
Flag of Bulgaria 1946-1990, from FOTW
Warsaw Pact, May 14th 1955, from Avalon Project at Yale Law School
Bulgarian banknotes, from Ron Wise's World Paper Money and from Currency Museum
1959 Judgment by the International Court of Justice in the case between Bulgaria and Israel over the 1955 downing of an Israeli plane by Bulgarian authorities, posted by International Court of Justice, Contentious Cases
UN General Assembly 3rd Session 1948-1949, Resolution No.272
REFERENCE R.J. Crampton, A Concise History of Bulgaria, Cambridge Concise Histories 1997 pp.187-200, KMLA Lib.Sign. 949.7 C889a
Article : Bulgaria, pp.623-636, in : Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, Macropaedia vol.14, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 032 B862n v.14
Raymond Detrez, Historical Dictionary of Bulgaria, Lanham Md. : Scarecrow 2006, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 949.9003 D 483h
Article : Bulgaria, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1949 pp.137-138, 1950, pp.137-138, 1951, pp.133-134, 1952, pp.131-132, 1953, pp.132-133, 1954, p.134, 1955, pp.191-192, 1956, pp.129-130, 1957, p.189 [G]
Article : Bulgaria, in : Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1952 p.80 [G]
Time/Life : Time Capsule 1950. A History of the Year Condensed from the Pages of Time, p.223 [G]

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First posted in 2000, last revised on August 20th 2008

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