"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. "

Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear
Sofia So Fear

Photography © James Crouchman

Published in Photo Gallery Bulgaria

Soon after the introduction of martial law in Poland in December 1981 the new military leader General Jaruzelski received a warm welcome in Sofia from Bulgaria's leader Todor Zhivkov and his entourage.

Chairing a military council after the takeover, and consolidating all powers of Communist Poland, Wojciech Jaruzelski intended to crush the Solidarity trade union. For ordinary Eastern Europeans military rule in Poland was presented as a necessary measure to 'protect Socialism' across the block.

With permanently damaged eyesight from his time in the Siberian Gulag (1940-42), Jaruzelski was forced to wear sunglasses most of the time, and they became his trademark.

Alongside Mikhail Gorbachev and East Germany's Egon Krenz, Wojciech Jaruzelski was the last surviving leader of a Warsaw Pact Communist state. He died on 25 May 2014 in Warsaw.

 Are you in this film? Do you remember that visit?

What's your memory of Poland's martial law?

We'd love to hear from you.

 

Скоро след въвеждането на военно положение в Полша през декември 1981 новият ръководител генерал Войчех Ярузелски пристига в София.

Поемайки изцяло контрол над Полша целта на Ярузелски е да унищожи независимия профсъюз Солидарност, изпраща в затвора лидера му Лех Валенса. Властите в Източна Европа представят военното положение в Полша като 'наложителна мярка за защита на социализма'.

Поради увреденото си в сибирския Гулаг зрение (1940-42) Ярузелски е принуден почти постоянно да носи слънчеви очила, които стават негова запазена марка.

Заедно с Михаил Горбачов и Егон Кренц, Войчех Ярузелски беше един от тримата останали живи бивши ръководители на комунистическа страна от Варшавския договор.Той почина на 25 май 2014 във Варшава.

Бяхте ли там през 1982? Спомня ли си някои от семейството Ви това посещение?

Какво знаете за военното положение в Полша 1981-1989?

Ще се радваме, ако споделите тези спомени.

Published in Bulgaria
May Day 1986

The 1st May 1986, and as every year tens of thousands of Bulgarians mark Labour Day by marching past their Communist leaders in Sofia. Unknown to them, just four days previously a fire at Chernobyl had brought about world's worst nuclear disaster.

By the 1st May the fallout had reached Bulgaria. The rain falling on everyone here was highly radioactive, but the nomenclatura seem oblivious to the danger in the air.

Were you there that day? Do you or your family remember these events? We'd like to hear from you.

 

Първи май 1986. Десетки хиляди българи отбелязват в София "Празника на труда" с традиционен парад пред комунистическите ръководители на страната. Манифестиращите не знаят, че само четири дни по-рано пожар в Чернобил е предизвикал най-тежката ядрена авария в света.

На 1 май радиационният облак достига България. Дъждът, който вали над парада е силно радиоактивен, но на трибуната сякаш не осъзнават опасността във въздуха.

Бяхте ли там? Спомня ли си някои от семейството Ви за тези дни? Ще се радваме, ако споделите тези спомени.

Published in Bulgaria

May 1985 2

Bulgaria's Communist leader Todor Zhivkov at a traditional parade on the day of the Cyrillic alphabet and Bulgarian culture in Sofia, 24 May 1982.

Carefully rehearsed and meticulously orchestrated, the parades in front of the embalmed body of the ex-Communist leader Georgi Dimitrov were also an indicator of the place in the hierarchy of each member of the party nomenclatura.  While teachers, pupils and students waved obediently at Number One and his lieutenants, others were trying to spot who was in and who was out on the tribune.

There were several of these parades each year, all the way to the end 1989. Even the day dedicated to letters and culture was no exception from the military discipline of marching past Sofia's Mausoleum.

Converted from 16 mm film.
All rights to use purchased.

Published in Bulgaria

Bulgaria's Communist leader (1954-89) Todor Zhivkov at the heart of the "Banner of Peace" festivities in and around Sofia.

By 1989 four such gatherings were held in Sofia with thousands of children from over 130 countries participating. Supposedly non-political, the movement was nominally under the patronage of UNESCO and other UN agencies, but became a focal point of Communist Bulgaria's cultural management in the 1980s.

Are you in this film? Were you involved in this? We'd love to hear from you.

Converted from 16 mm film.

Published in Bulgaria