Debating the Past

Debating the Past: Modern Bulgarian Historiography—From Stambolov to Zhivkov

Roumen Daskalov
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 377
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  • Book Info
    Debating the Past
    Book Description:

    The book is comprised of the four major debates on modern Bulgarian history from Independence in 1878 to the fall of communism in 1989. The debates are on the Bulgarian–Russian/Soviet relations, on the relations between Agrarians and Communists, on Bulgarian Fascism, and on Communism. They are associated with the rule of key political personalities in Bulgarian history: Stambolov (1887–1894), Stamboliiski (1919–1923), Tsar Boris III (1918–1943), and the communist leaders Georgi Dimitrov and Todor Zhivkov (1956–1989). The debates are traced through their various articulations and dramatic turns from their beginnings to the present day.

    eISBN: 978-615-5053-53-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    This book contains four historiographical studies, devoted to the most hotly debated issues of the history of Bulgaria from its liberation (1878) to the present that have engaged not only professional historians, but other scholars and the broader public as well. These are Stefan Stambolov’s dictatorship, the rule of the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union under Aleksandur Stamboliiski, the problem of fascism (and the antifascist resistance), and the communist regime. These topics lead to wider issues traced in a long-term perspective. Thus the essay on Stambolov, centered on his “Russophobia” (anti-Russian policies) and his “dictatorship,” provides a perspective on Bulgarian– Russian...

  4. CHAPTER 1 Stambolov, the Russophiles, and the Russophobes in Bulgaria
    (pp. 7-86)

    On July 6, 1995, a monument of Bulgarian statesman Stefan Stambolov—representing only his head with a deep cut on it—was inaugurated in the garden in front of the Army Club in Sofia, on the spot where he was murdered 100 years before. Insofar as Stambolov had become a symbol of independent national policies, directed against Russia in particular, the newly restored democracy in Bulgaria marked its exit from the Soviet sphere of influence with this monument. The irony is that by vindicating Stambolov, in fact, by giving official sanction to a process that had begun already under communism,...

  5. CHAPTER 2 The Rule of the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union and the “Worker-Peasant Alliance”
    (pp. 87-144)

    More has been written on the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union (Bulgarski zemedelski naroden suyuz, henceforth the Agrarian Union or simply Agrarians) than on any other party except for the Communist Party. This interest is no coincidence, even if the motives remain hidden. The Agrarian Union was a mass party with the broadest social base in Bulgaria, and it sought, successfully, to represent the peasants. It was a “world view” (ideological) party with its own distinctive and very radical ideas about politics, the economy, and society in general, different both from classical liberal democracy and communist ideology. It ruled Bulgaria on...

  6. CHAPTER 3 The Debate on Fascism and the Anti-fascist Struggles
    (pp. 145-222)

    Among the debated issues in Bulgarian historical scholarship, a central place is occupied by fascism and, closely connected with it, the antifascist struggles. In what follows I will trace the evolution of the debate: its initial formulation and further elaboration, changes in the rhetoric, and revisions and reappraisals—and along with it, the evolution of views on the political system in Bulgaria between the wars and during World War II.¹

    A brief review of the chronology of the governments in Bulgaria will help in understanding the debates. Bulgaria was on the side of the losers in World War I, and...

  7. CHAPTER 4 September Ninth, “People’s Democracy” and Socialism
    (pp. 223-318)

    This essay traces the evolution of the views on the communist takeover in Bulgaria (September 9, 1944), the “people’s democracy” (1944–1948), and socialism for the duration of the regime and after its fall. The communist regime shaped and strictly controlled knowledge about itself, its genesis, and its past. The regime’s ideologically distorted self-image is of interest to historiography as an extreme case in which historical knowledge is subject to direct politicization and ideologization in legitimating power. At first sight, notions about the past would seem to be fixed once and for all. But precisely because knowledge of the past...

  8. Conclusion The Truth and Objectivity Question in Bulgarian Historical Scholarship
    (pp. 319-368)

    In what follows, I will review the concepts of “objectivity” and “truth” in Bulgarian historical scholarship on the basis of my historiographical research and observations. As will be seen, there is a great difference between theoretical-methodological statements and historiographical practice. However, my purpose is not to blame the presumably “objective” historiography for “lack of objectivity” (especially since I do not believe in this ideal), but to see how things stand on particular issues of the “objectivity and truth” complex. Hence the account is somewhat fragmented. The question will also be posed: why were there, until recently, no relativizations of the...

  9. Transliteration
    (pp. 369-370)