Atidje's story takes you back to 1973, when her family was caught up in dramatic events that no one could have dreamt would occur in the quiet, mountainous village of Kornitsa, on Bulgaria's Greek border.

The entire Muslim community stood up against the Communist government, demanded their rights, and cut the village off from the rest of the country, camping out for months in the main square. Atidje's husband was the leader of the rebellion. When the crackdown came, she paid her price.

Four decades later she still remembers vividly what happened that night, the deportation with her children, and her missing husband, who was sent to prison. Both of them now live in Turkey.

Published in YOUR STORY

James Crouchman travelled mainly on foot across Bulgaria's North West - the mountainous lands between the Danube and the border with Serbia, today the Bulgarian province of Montana. He explored and documented on film an area full of history, where dialects overlap and once gold and silver miners came from as far as Saxony, brought in by the Ottoman Turks.

James: I met Asparuh from Glavanovtsi village. He gave me apples and told me he disliked Churchill. He was five during the worst bombing of WWII, but still remembers Allied planes flying overhead to target the oil fields in Romania just across the Danube, before returning and unloading their unused bombs on this part of Bulgaria. He told me about the sound the explosions made, echoing for miles around.

From Glavanovtsi I walked nearly 100km over four days to Belogradchik, crossing mountains and taking detours to villages on the way. People would often stop me and give me food or drink. In Protopopintsi village, two old ladies invited me in to their garden and gave me 'compot', not the British sort but fresh fruit juice from figs and peaches. It's a fascinating area, one that deserves to be spoken about more than just in terms of GDP and employment figures.

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Photography © James Crouchman

Published in Photo Gallery Bulgaria

"When I first moved to Sofia, I knew hardly anyone, and spent most of my free days wandering the streets around ulitsa Pirotska, taking photos and drinking coffee in 'Halite'.

One of the first people I got to know was a fellow English photographer, a 50-something divorcee working for a financial institution in Sofia. In emails he referred to the city as 'So Fear' and the name stuck. It became some kind of title to our photography of our Sofia. For a year I lived in a flat with paper-thin double glazing next to a busy junction on Dondukov, so the sound of So Fear for me has always been a trolley bus pulling away from traffic lights, perhaps why I take so many pictures of public transport. "

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Photography © James Crouchman

Published in Photo Gallery Bulgaria

It's 44 years since the violent crackdown on a remarkable protest in two remote Muslim villages of Communist Bulgaria. In the winter of 1973 their entire populations rebelled against the state and spent months camped out in the main square. Uniquely for Communist Eastern Europe, their villages became a no-go area for the authorities. We talked to those who remember and who experienced it first hand.

Навършват се 44 години от насилственото потушаване на забележителната протестна акция на две помашки села в комунистическа България. През зимата на 1973 жителите им възстават срещу властите и прекарват 3 месеца на площада. Уникално за комунистическа Източна Европа по това време, тези села се превръщат в зона, недоостъпна за централната власт. Разговаряхме със свидетели и хора, изпитали на собствен гръб репресиите.

 

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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