Prof. Dr. Evgeniya Kalinova is a specialist in contemporary Bulgarian history. She was born in Plovdiv, where she graduated from the English Language School. He studied at the Faculty of History at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski ", where he defended his doctoral thesis on" European capitalist countries in the international cultural activity of Bulgaria 1956 - 1966 ". He teaches at the Faculty of History of Sofia University" St. Kliment Ohridski ”, as well as in Bachelor of International Relations at the Faculty of Law. She teaches Masters courses at the Faculty of History and Philosophy and the Master's Program in Cultural Relations and Geopolitics of the European Union.
Her scientific interests are in the field of foreign policy of Bulgaria after the Second World War, cultural policy and cultural diplomacy in the period of socialism, the problems of minorities in Bulgaria. She speaks English, French and Russian. There are over 200 scientific publications in the country and abroad, among them the monographs "Winners and Bulgaria 1939 - 1945" (2004) and "Bulgarian Culture and the Political Imperative 1944 - 1989" (2011).
Together with Prof. Iskra Baeva he is the author of the books: "Bulgarian Transitions 1939 - 2010", "Socialism in the Mirror of Transition", "The Postwar Decade of Bulgarian Foreign Policy 1944 - 1955", "The 16 Republic? Studies and Documents on Bulgarian-Soviet Relations after World War II, as well as books published in Paris, Vienna and Thessaloniki: "La Bulgarie contemporaine entre l'Est et l'Ouest", "Bulgarien von Ost nach West. Zeitgeschichte ab 1939 "," Contemporary Bulgaria - from the Eastern Bloc to the European Union ".
Often called the story "teacher of life". But there is a more original and true statement: "History teaches that we learn nothing from history." So the story may be one thing, one thing and the other…
So I would like to ask you, what is not history for you? My question is in connection with your sympathy for the appeal "Liberté pour l'histoire" (Freedom for history), published some time ago in a famous French daily?
If we talk about historical science, my short answer might be: It's not for sale and it's not for fun! Indeed, I can supplement it with the current Freedom of History appeal today by a group of famous French historians. It was published in 2005 as a protest against a series of laws governing the interpretation of certain historical events (the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, the colonial policies of France). I share their condemnation of the political use of history and of the attempts to impose a single assessment, at that given by state institutions and political forces (whatever they are).
But as these attempts are unlikely to cease, it is my hope that historians will be able to counteract, asserting their right to formulate conclusions and judgments solely on the basis of their professional activities and skills. The "new readings" of historical events are only natural if they are the result of factors such as the increasing time distance (allowing for a clearer identification of the consequences) and increased access to documentary sources. But "rewriting" under the pressure of political conjuncture (whether as a result of wanting to get into "proper" speaking or being "financially motivated") is, to me, contrary to the professional morality of the historian. And so the story is not for sale.
I will not hide my admiration for your work. In my opinion, together with Iskra Baeva, you are two of the most objective researchers in our recent past, and you should therefore serve as an example to all who are tempted by historical science. I think so, because you explain the story as it really happened, not as it should have happened.
Is it possible for a conscientious researcher to express his biases?
Thank you for your appreciation of our work. In the appeal of the French historians referred to, it is mentioned that the historian's task is not to exhort or condemn, but to explain. This is also my understanding of the meaning of the study and teaching of history. And here is the answer to your question about bias. Of course, historical science cannot claim complete and absolute objectivity, since the historian "breaks" facts and events through his "optics" (experience, skills, preparation, etc.) and cannot completely distance himself from the time it works. Even the ancient Greeks understood history as both science and art with their muse - Cleo.
For me, the bias lies in the commitment to historical research, teaching, and in defining the research area (event, period, personality). From then on, emotions and addictions have no place. They give way to professional skills that make you seek out the most diverse sources that cover all elements of a historical event, analyze them in their entirety and place them in the appropriate historical context.
Addictions can manifest themselves in the selection (whether intentional or because of insufficiently collected material) of certain facts proving a presumed thesis, and in ignoring those that disprove it, as well as in detaching events / personalities from their time and neglecting reality. in which they happened / acted. However, I find this approach unacceptable to the professional historian.
History holds an accurate account of the memory of an event - say, the national memory of the so-called. "revival process". But history is not just a memory, a memory, an emotion. You mention the great dilemma: human rights - national interests.
If national interests are emphasized, what can be said about the subject of "revival process" from the perspective of historical science? Your opinion as a specialist is very important because it seems to me that the media is mainly spoken by people who do not know the documents well enough.
Exploring the memory / memory of a particular historical event or personality has its place in the scholarly pursuits of historians. However, they need to be well prepared for him, especially if the focus is on using the interview method. Of course, memory can be traced to other areas beyond oral history. Without being particularly tempted by this type of research, in one of my studios I tried to imagine who, when, how and why recalled the "revival process" after 1989 to 2009.
I explored the memories of the "revival process" in the media, memoir literature and cinema. The way different political parties use the memory of him by trying to condemn him, mark anniversaries, honor the victims, erect monuments. I also sought the role of historical science and secondary and higher education in remembering the "revival process" and reflecting on its memory. We even did surveys among more than 80 students.
The results have clearly shown that our society is dominated by the negative assessment of the "revival process" as a gross violation of human rights and that people have no doubts about its violent nature. I hope the efforts of historians through publications of archival documents and research as well as textbooks and teaching at the University have also contributed to this notion.
In order to have a comprehensive picture of this event, it must include both the story of its survivors (both Turks and Bulgarians), as well as the follow-up of documents of the actions of the communist regime and the results of them. However, they cannot be understood unless they are considered in a longer historical section - at least since the 30 years of the twentieth century, when the Bulgarian state began to realize the need for policy formulation towards the Bulgarian Turks. In the decades that followed, a series of attempts were made in this regard to show the inconsistency and wandering of the BCP rulers that eventually led to violent assimilation in the late 80 years.
Exploring all this historical experience, and not just its last episode, is important for understanding this complex issue. I would also add another research track that I have a personal interest in - the foreign policy dimensions of the 'revival process'. It does not remain "encapsulated" in Bulgaria - it is responded to by Turkey (from whose view the Bulgarian Turks have not disappeared since the mid-20 years of the twentieth century), as well as by the rest of the Balkan countries - each according to their historical experience and modern interests.
When we were preparing documents for the "revival process" with Prof. Iskra Baeva, we collected so many sources of reaction and behavior from countries such as the USSR, the US, the Arab world, Western Europe, the "fraternal" socialist states, etc., that they had to be published in a separate volume. We also included documents from a number of international organizations (the UN, NATO, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Council of Europe, the World Health Organization), which are taking part in accusing Bulgaria of human rights abuses.
In practice, during the summer of 1989 our country is in complete isolation. I hope that exploring the international dimension of the 'revival process' will also help to reflect on national interests and security.
I recently attended an 11 History Class lesson in which students criticized a medieval state for being "intolerant" and pursuing "discriminatory policies" against their subjects. The teacher passed away in silence this otherwise emotional expression.
What is the situation in such situations? Have you had any similar cases as a specialist in the totalitarian period of Bulgaria?
I am convinced that teaching modern history is not easy. One of the reasons is that before they begin to study the period of socialism, both students and students are inevitably influenced by the imposed, as a result of political talk, negative interpretations and approached with suspicion and prejudice. At the same time, a considerable number share that in their families there are positive attitudes towards that time, which adds to their confusion. The challenge for the teacher is to be able to explain that the period from the Second World War to the collapse of socialism in the late 80 years is part of our history and, regardless of emotions, must be studied by seeking scientific explanation and causation. .
I will say that since the mid-90 years I have been observing the textbooks for the Secondary School and since then they have been presenting the scientific account of the period of socialism. Unfortunately, it is increasingly apparent that the desire of those who lead education is to "ease" and shorten lessons, but this is at the expense of the explanation and understanding they have to give. There is also another tendency - to focus primarily on crime and victims, which is undoubtedly present in this period of Bulgarian history, without indicating what has been achieved. Is this the approach to other historical eras? And how, by applying double standards, will we educate students?
At the University, we have the privilege of teaching students, for most of whom, history is a vocation. At the beginning of each course, I emphasize to them that I will present to them the events from different points of view, based on the achievements of historiography and strict adherence to the documents, and I will necessarily give my assessment, but I will highly appreciate and really enjoy I hear from them their own point of view, ie. the truth that they have come up with and that they can argue with, whether it is different from mine. To think, to search for arguments, to analyze and to escape the simple and simple "truths" is what I strive to teach them.
If the search for logical connections and the comprehension and explaining of scientific arguments of historical events becomes their way of thinking, it will mean that they have established themselves as professional historians. There are no topics in the lectures - taboos, no awkward or inadequate questions. Students should be completely free to ask and comment. It is part of the university spirit and education and when such conversations are received, I think the satisfaction is for both the teacher and the students.
Talking about the history of Bulgaria after 9. IX. 1944, can you say that from the point of view of the state totalitarian institutions there is continuity with the previous period?
I mean that the concentration camps (Gonda Water, St. Nicholas, St. Anastasia, etc.) and institutions such as the Directorate of Public Renewal, the Directorate for National Propaganda, the Chamber of Folk Culture continue to function after 9. IX. 1944, but with a changed name and changed look ...
With your permission, I will extend the issue of continuity. At the beginning of the transition in Bulgaria, the date of September 9, 1944, was very negatively charged, and this was a natural reaction to its rise in the cult, in the years of socialism. Attempts have been made to set other dates and events to serve as a starting point for the beginning of contemporary Bulgarian history. All of them (eg Bulgaria's proclamation of the Republic of 15 on September 1946 or the signing of the peace treaty on 10 on February 1947), however, are a consequence of the change made on 9 on September 1944. e. from the coup that led the government to take over the Communist Party-dominated Fatherland Front coalition.
Now there is more unanimity in historiography for the September 9, the beginning of a new period in Bulgarian history. However, starting does not mean an immediate and complete change in all spheres of the state and society, regardless of the desires and moods of individual political figures and parties. In many respects, there is continuity with the previous period - at least until the end of 1947. It is most visible in the preserved effect of the Tarnovo Constitution (the new "Dimitrovskaya" will be adopted only in December 1947) and accordingly - in the period until the referendum. since the September 8 existence of the monarchy. In economic terms, continuity also exists in the predominant form of ownership - private, until nationalization at the end of 1946.
In this context, the question is also interesting and important: Why, under the conditions of Soviet occupation, and with the consent of England and the USA, our country was left in the Soviet sphere of influence, does Moscow not impose a Soviet / Stalinist model of socialism here? (ie total power of the Communist Party, liquidated multi-party system and opposition, dominance of Marxist-Leninist ideology and full state ownership.) This model will be established in Bulgaria as well, but from the end of 1947-1948 the "delay" is due to the Soviet strategy of achieving post-war security through co-operation and understanding with the West, until the USSR recovers from the enormous losses and is able to begin "exporting" to communism.
In this way, the transitional period of "popular democracy" is possible, with the continuity already indicated, to which must be added the fierceness of the war and repression, as well as the desire to liquidate the political adversary. The camps that existed until 9 September 1944 (created by the Ordinance for the Affirmation of Political Opponents of Power since January 1941) were closed, but as early as December 1944 the law created new camps called "labor - educational dormitories for politically dangerous persons', in which political adversaries are sent in the same way - without judgment and sentence.
Continued in the mid-30 years, there was a desire on the part of government to use culture for their political ends. For the propaganda of their ideas, the nineteen seventy-one who came to power create the Directorate of Public Renewal (which only lasted about a year). During the Second World War, following the example of the Third Reich, the Directorate of National Propaganda and the House of Folk Culture emerged with the task of uniting and controlling and controlling all creative forces in the country.
All three institutions, along with propaganda, impose strict censorship. These tasks, but in favor of the new governing bodies of the AF, were entrusted to the Ministry of Propaganda (renamed the Ministry of Information and Arts) and to the House of Folk Culture headed by 9 on September 1944. by the Communist Alexander Obretenov. Continuity in the institutions is obvious, but the content is different - a result of the new conditions after the end of the war. However, the differences are much larger and much more significant.
I recently had the honor to I talk to Prof. Iskra Baeva about Bulgarka magazine. In it, she explained how after the end of the Cold War, the non-scientifically term "communism" describing the state structure of the Eastern Bloc countries during their socialist period was "transferred" to Europe in Europe.
As a specialist on the subject, do you find that the so-called "Bulgarian trace" in the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II (May 13, 1981) is a typical type of reception from the same Cold War? The Bulgarian Trace has been commented on by authorities such as Kissinger and Brzezinski. During his visit to Bulgaria in 2002, Pope John Paul II admitted: "The Bulgarian connection in the assassination attempt on me was an insinuation…"
Thank you for this question, as I have been dealing with the topic of the Bulgarian track for quite some time. For me, it can only be viewed through the lens of the Second Cold War - a term by which historians refer to the new sharpening of tension between East and West since the late 70 years. Although Mehmed Ali Aggia, who fired on 13 on May 1981 against Pope John Paul II on St. Peter's Square in Rome, has been captured on the spot and sentenced, the sensation does not subside.
It has been lined by several Western intelligence services, incl. by submitting false documents to the Italian investigation. But most of all, by using the media to promote in the public consciousness the most negative image of the adversary on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Bulgaria and Sergey Antonov, arrested in November 1982, became victims of ideological confrontation. He was released only in 1986 due to lack of evidence of involvement in the attack.
For these four years, the media in the West, as well as a number of high-ranking politicians, some of whom you mentioned, present a categorically proven "Bulgarian trace", and this does not change even after the acquittal is pronounced. The lack of legally relevant evidence is irrelevant to this media war. The incriminating facts are overlooked, while the low-profile allegations based on the most insecure single witness (Aggie!) Are widely circulated, along with a "brilliant" investigative report by an American journalist with the reputation of a terror specialist, Claire Sterling. Her article “The Pope's Conspiracy to Kill” “discovers” the Bulgarian footprint and imposes it on the media, as it was published on 15 on August 1982 in the Readers Digest magazine, published in the 30 Millions, near 20 language and with 100 million readers.
However, this article and version would not have had such a resonance if it had not been tolerated by CIA leaders and leading Western politicians who suggest that Bulgaria is complicit in the Moscow-led assault. It is worth noting that such a media response did not cause either the strange death of Pope John Paul I, which occurred only a month after being elected to that post (1978), or more than the 20 attempted assassinations against John. Paul II before and after 1981 The question is whether we will ever know the whole truth about this attack. A CIA Declaration of Global Affairs by David Cohen of 2000 April 1 (a year after the acquittal) was declassified in 1987 that "the truth about the attack on the Pope can never come to light".
After the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe, the topic of the forgotten "Bulgarian trace" is being re-started - this time as an argument in the political confrontation between the UDF and the BSP. The role of President Zhelyu Zhelev, convinced that the DS was capable of such a case, is big. His formula is: "the truth - whatever it is - to come to light," while not trusting that its disclosure can happen in Bulgaria. In 1991, at his disposal, 200 volumes of investigative material from the Bulgarian archives were handed over to an American professor against the promise of an "independent" investigation, but it never happened. Although a special commission for investigating State Security crimes, created by Dimitar Popov's cabinet, made a firm conclusion at the end of 1991 that there was no Bulgarian involvement in the attack, this assessment was not disclosed, and the report remained secret until 2001 d. .
A second Bulgarian investigation was initiated and before his work was completed, the Prime Minister of the first UDF cabinet, Philip Dimitrov, said on a visit to the US that "it is possible that Bulgaria was involved in the attack" and the lack of evidence was "unimportant". During the 1993 government under the government of L. Berov and as a result of the conclusions of the second investigation in the National Assembly, the first official position after the 1989 was that there was definitely no "Bulgarian trace" in the attack. However, this is not enough for J. Zhelev, and he continues to insist to Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti that the truth "whatever it is" must come to light.
Andreotti, however, is more than categorical that Bulgarian involvement is a "fabrication of the US services" and that it is a "large-scale provocation in the Cold War and the needs of the Cold War.". He is equally adamant that the true culprits will never come to light. I am also very skeptical that we will someday read all foreign archives and be able to point out the guarantors of the assassination, but as far as the "Bulgarian footprint" is concerned, we should be categorical in its political and scientific discourse as well. After all, in the words of Noam Chomsky, it proved to be a clear example of misinformation and "a successful attempt at manipulating human thinking."
I will allow myself to provoke you! How would you define Bulgarian culture after the September 9 1944: as open to Europe and the world, or as a closed type, for "local" use?
For me, reading authors such as Vasil Popov or Bogomil Rainov only through the prism of socialist realism seems somewhat difficult, as detached from the fashionable "Western" tendencies ...
I understand your question this way: Is it possible to create valuable works of literature and art in socialist Bulgaria? To what extent are Western cultural influences penetrating here, and do Bulgarian works gain recognition beyond the Iron Curtain? First, it should be recalled that cultural processes have a specificity that makes them only indirectly dependent on the political. In addition, we historians examine the sphere of culture, especially from the point of view of the cultural policies of the governing and the relations between power and the intelligentsia, and for the evaluations of the works of art themselves, we rely on specialists - literary critics and art critics.
After the September 9, the Communist Party relied on its creators to propagate their goals and to attract a broad public to the communist ideal. For this, considerable financial resources are being earmarked for stimulating the restoration and development of cultural life. This is an important, though not the only, condition for the emergence of significant works and creators.
During the years of socialism, film art developed, which won prestigious international awards (the movie "Stars" at Cannes 1959, a number of animated films, etc.); representatives of the Bulgarian opera school are among the leading in the world (Nikolai Gyaurov, Katya Popova). I can list more, but it seems more important for us to outline the problems, and they relate to the desire of the Communist regime to keep the creators under control and guide them in the direction of their politics. This is done by censoring "wrong" works (incriminating books, stopped theater productions and films) and by imposing the norms of socialist realism.
According to this method, whose features the Party fails to clearly identify, artists must realistically turn reality into reality, but if they point out the system's true flaws, they are subject to severe penalties. At the same time, they must give reality to the features of the communist ideal in order for their works to be nourished, and this makes them declarative and monotonous, though in the last two decades of the regime the observance of these canons is no longer strictly imposed, as long as the artists not to criticize the party. In short, valuable works have been created in socialism and there are conditions for the expansion of creative opportunities, but they also have their price - compliance with the Party, which sometimes results in service.
As for the "openness" of Bulgarian culture, it is directly dependent on the East-West relations. In the first post-war years, cultural ties with the Western countries were encouraged in the hope of changing Bulgaria's image as a former German satellite. With the onset of the Cold War at 1947, these contacts were cut off because, according to power, bourgeois ideology penetrated them. It is worth clarifying that during this period, too, the West does not want to "import" cultural products from the East, which it views as propaganda for socialism. Thus, the "iron curtain" can be defined as bilaterally impermeable.
With the "unfreezing" of international relations that began in the second half of the 50 years, and especially in the 60 years, cultural exchanges with the West have resumed, although power continues to believe that it is "ideologically subversive". Foreign Minister Ivan Bashev is the first to rate well the country's benefits from "cultural opening" to the West. Bulgaria also signs its first cultural agreements with Western European countries. The best conditions for deploying cultural cooperation between East and West undoubtedly created "reconnaissance" in the 70 years. It coincides with the management of the cultural sphere by the daughter of Todor Zhivkov - Lyudmila, who has the financial means to implement large-scale initiatives to present Bulgarian culture abroad and Western culture in the country. This is also the culmination of Bulgaria's "cultural opening" to the world, but the sharp exacerbation of tensions in US-USSR relations in the 80 years, as well as the economic crisis in the country make it impossible to follow this line.
After all, in his journey to the West (in the direct and figurative sense), the Bulgarian artist faces three boundaries - the financial possibilities (especially the state), the ideological bans and last but not least - the lack of special interest on the part of the country. in the West to the most faithful Soviet satellite. At different times since the development of socialism, the density of these borders is different, but the other condition for successful contacts with the West is also unimportant, and it is called "talent".
A favorite thinker of mine has the following interesting comment. "The bourgeois - this is everyone who is dissatisfied with what they have and happy with what they are!" I would add that it is about the bourgeois from the point of view of this type of thinking - consumer, tendency to acquire things, competitive attitudes that generate alienation (spotted in The Tree without Roots by Haytov, The Time of the Hero by V. Popov, Roads for Nowhere by B. Raynov).
From this point of view, can it be said that in socialist Bulgaria there were many people with similar (bourgeois) thinking and attitudes? Can this be traced in the documents?
One of the most common estimates for the economy of socialism is that it is a "deficit economy". In Bulgaria, after the first difficult post-war years, the coupon system has gradually reached a level that meets the basic needs of people, but for the abundance and variety of goods, incl. and luxury goods, it cannot be said. Initially, the BCP explained the deprivation of the need to overcome the "grave bourgeois heritage" and called for patience in the name of a "bright communist future". However, by the end of the 60 years, the ideal seemed quite impossible and even in party documents, communism was relegated to an indefinite future.
At the same time, as I have already mentioned, the Iron Curtain has by this time become significantly thinner and more and more Bulgarians have the opportunity to see or touch the material abundance of Western countries. The BCP leadership is aware of the threat - the West offers another ideal - of the consumer society, in which political ideas are relegated to the background and the material needs are paramount. Moreover, this ideal, unlike the communist one, has already been realized to one degree or another, ie. proven feasible.
At the beginning of 1963, Todor Zhivkov, in his famous speech to cultural figures, branded the "Western way of life" and three years later introduced some of the most sustainable cliches - about "the two righteousness" in society. . The "great righteousness" is the successes achieved under socialism, and the "little righteousness" is the existing negative phenomena such as "intercession", selfishness, theft, careerism, the use of "connections" and job title to meet the increased material needs of the population.
In practice, it is an ideological struggle against the consumerist attitudes that emerged during this period, which the socialist deficit economy cannot satisfy. Due to the social policy of the Bulgarian Communist Party, more resources are accumulated in the population, ie. its purchasing capacities are increasing and the available commodity stock cannot cover them, especially with regard to better quality and durable goods. This gives rise to dissatisfaction, which, among other restrictions imposed by the regime, leads gradually but surely to its erosion and collapse. The Bulgarian of that time is convinced that the important thing is to have goods, no matter how expensive they are, and the money will still be found (the transition after 1989 will show him how bitterly he was lying!).
I think that consumer attitudes themselves do not need to be stigmatized - consumption is important for the development of the economy. The problem is whether or not they are balanced by other types of attitudes related to spiritual culture. It may seem paradoxical, but during socialism, with the limited possibilities for accumulating material goods, and at the same time - for accessible, state-subsidized cultural goods (books, theaters, films, opera, concerts), a considerable part of the Bulgarians are much more related to culture than in the years of transition, when high prices for books and tickets for cultural events make it difficult for even middle-income families.