Sofia_horseman_1907

 

Sofia, 'The Grand Boulevard', 1907. By the British writer Harry de Windt.

In his book 'Through Savage Europe', a journey from the Adriatic Sea to the Caucasus,  De Windt writes: '...This quaint mixture of the latest European fashions and Oriental costumes are the first things which strike the stranger on arrival in Sofia. But he soon discovers that this is a land of contradictions.

For instance, the man who drove us to our hotel from the station was an essentially modern Bulgar who, as far as dress was concerned, would have walked unnoticed up Regent Street, and who was as loquacious and full of information as a Maltese guide. Indeed he was up-to-date on every subject, from the newest style of motor-car to Mr. Chamberlain's fancy in orchids.

And yet his wiry little pair of ponies were adorned with necklets of blue beads as amulets against the (Turkish) "Evil Eye," any allusion to which was strongly resented by their driver…'

Published in Bulgaria

Russian émigré officers and their families at leisure - Serbia 1922.

 

Wars are less about destructive hardware or other imaginative ways of extermination – they're all about destroying the fabric of society and family ties. The Bolshevik Revolution and Russia's Civil War literally cast overboard several generations of educated people, and those who made it to safer havens were considered lucky to survive.

While Dr Zhivago's characters were fictitious, the real victims were millions – there were to be found on Turkish islands, on the pavements of the Balkan cities, in the libraries of Prague and European universities, most of them cherishing their dreams of reaching France, yet slowly dissolving into the societies of their new host countries. Hundreds of thousands of Russian émigrés settled down in 1919-1920 in Serbia and Bulgaria. In late 1921, in a few days only, 9330 Russian émigrés disembarked from 4 ships in the Bulgarian ports of Varna and Burgas.

Moscow's new rulers ruthlessly obliterated even the memories of their own educated exiles, shunning any reference of them that differed from the 'class enemy'. Few visual memories of the 'White Russians' have survived, mainly outside Russia and Ukraine.

Published in Red Square
Published in Bulgaria

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

 

Amateur filming by western tourists in Communist Bulgaria was relatively rare, compared to its neighbours in the same period. Here is some footage, shot by a group of British youths, who travelled from the Bosphorus to Bulgaria's Black Sea coast. They even filmed in the strictly prohibited border zone on the Bulgarian side!

Converted from Kodachrome Super 8 mm film

Published in Bulgaria

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

 

A story of national identity and European citizenship, shot in Bulgaria, Belgium and Moldova and sponsored by the Bulgarian Memory Foundation. Reported/produced by Velislav Radev, directed by Janet Barrie.

On Bulgarian National TV , Sunday 23 February 2014. 

Made by barriemedia.net

Един филм за националната самобитност и европейската идентичност, за Гражданската награда на Европейския парламент. Заснет в България, Белгия, Молдова, и спонсориран от Фондация Българска Памет.

Репортер / продуцент Велислав Радев Режисьор Джанет Бари 

Published in 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. "

Sofia So Fear
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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

A film in development. Following the lives of White Russians and their heirs today.

Shot on location in Russia, Bulgaria and Belgium.

Published in Red Square