A piece of visual history - the first photo album of the Bulgarian capital after the Communist takeover in 1944.

Most of the over 100 photographs were taken by Architect Nikolay Popov and Pencho Balkanski, both established internationally in the 1930, with exhibitions in Vienna and Belgrade.

Sofia 1959
Sofia 1959
Sofia 1959
Sofia 1959
Sofia 1959

(more to come)

Published in Photo Gallery Bulgaria

Zhivkov Buzludja 1975 Lo


A piece of visual history – Bulgaria's leader Todor Zhivkov lays a 'time capsule' in the foundations of a Communist monument in the Bulgarian mountains.

From the original booklet for the opening of the Buzludja Memorial Complex, summer of 1981 .

As Communist Bulgaria entered the last decade of the 20th century, it prepared to celebrate the 1300th anniversary of Bulgarian statehood with suitable pomp.

One of the highlights of the celebration was the opening of a giant complex in the mountainous area of Buzludja – it was here that the foundations of Bulgarian socialism had been laid in a humble meeting back in 1891. It was later to be transformed into Lenin's model of Communism.

Buzludja was a feat of mountain engineering. The construction which included soldiers and unpaid workers, even helicopters, lasted 7 years, costing the Bulgarian state a staggering amount of money.

After the collapse of Communism in 1989 the memorial complex was abandoned, and left unmaintained. It's now partly derelict, but is still of huge importance to the successor to the Communist party, which often brings its followers to this isolated corner for morale-boosting gatherings.


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Published in Photo Gallery Bulgaria

We follow 3 young Bulgarians to the former Communist Congress building Buzludja, located at the top of the Balkan mountains on the outskirts of the town of Gabrovo.

18 years after the collapse of Communism they talk about what they feel about this once mysterious building that has been both a symbol of suppression and a representation of freedom.

Directed and Edited by Stephen J Bell, 2007.

On 16mm film & DV.


Published in Bulgaria

Former camp inmates tell of the horrors in a Bulgarian Communist Forced Labour Camp. During the ex-inmates' first reunion in 1990.

Between 1944 and 1953, some 12,000 men and women passed through these camps, with an additional 5,000 between 1956 and 1962. The camp at Belene alone is believed to have held 7,000 people in 1952. Another source estimates a total of 187,000 political prisoners in Bulgaria during this period.

Another source estimates a total of 187,000 prisoners during this period, 'The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression', Paris 1997. By Stephane Courtois, Nicolas Werth, Jean-Louis Panne, Andrzej Paczkowski, Karel Bartosek, Jean-Louis Margolin. No one has been jailed so far for their responsibility for Bulgaria's Communist camps.

Бивши лагеристи разказват за преживяните години в комунистически лагери за принудителен труд. Oт 1944 до 1953 около 12 хиляди мъже и жени преминават през тези лагери в България, и още 5 хиляди от 1956 до 1962.
Само в Дунавския лагер край Белене се счита, че през 1952 са били държани 7 хиляди души. Друг източник оценява, че за този период в България е имало общо 187 хиляди политически затворници, 'Черната книга на комунизма: Престъпления, Терор, Репресии ', Париж 1997; Стефан Куртоа, Никола Верт, Жан-Луи Пан, Анджей Пачковски, Карел Бартошек, Жан-Луи Марголен. Досега никой не е осъден в България за комунистическите лагери за принудителен труд.

Епизод от документалния филм Лагерите
Режисьор Атанас Киряков, 1991

Published in Bulgaria