A funny thing happened the other day in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. The dawn found the dreary Monument of the Soviet Army partially redecorated.
Somebody painted several of the statues in bright colours giving them the appearance of comic book characters. Batman and the Joker were leading the group of attacking soldiers, followed by Santa Claus, Superman, Ronald McDonald, Wonder woman and others. Underneath they wrote: “Keeping Up with the Times.”
It was a nice attempt to bring life into one of the last remaining symbols of the totalitarianism in the country. There was quite a bit of Komar and Melamid’s SotsArt satire in that work. Unfortunately, the art survived for only a day – very early the next morning, the die-hard worshipers of communism’s corpse washed away the paint. The monument returned to its normal nondescript state.
Ever since the communism collapsed, the Monument of the Soviet Army has been in the centre of constant disputes and fights. Its enemies, who want it demolished, say that its existence doesn’t make any sense.
And they are right – the heroic scenes depicted on the monument never happened in Bulgaria. Although officially an ally of Germany in World War II, the country didn’t send any troops to the Eastern or the Western front. Bulgaria didn’t even accept Hitler’s demand to deport its Jews to his death camps. Through the efforts of the King, the Parliament, and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the 50,000 Bulgarian Jews were saved.
When the Russians reached the Bulgarian borders in September 1944, the country already had a government, which declared a war against Germany. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union declared a war against Bulgaria.
After the Soviet Army crossed the border, nobody fought them and not a single soldier was killed. The only graves you can find there are those of soldiers who got loaded with too much alcohol and died. There were also a few who were court marshalled and shot by their own units for marauding the locals.
Yet the Soviet Army didn’t return the gesture of friendship. They installed a pro-communist government led by the former fascist Kimon Georgiev, whose views “evolved” just a few months before the invasion. The Communist Party was so feeble and unpopular that it couldn’t provide competent people to form a government.
Within a year from the Russian invasion, over 50,000 Bulgarians (mostly politicians, intellectuals, journalists, etc.) were exterminated. Many others spent decades in the concentration camps built with Russian help, where torture and murders were considered normal.
The Monument of the Soviet Army has always stood like a sore thumb, which symbolizes the communist dictatorship.
It’s a disgrace that over 20 year after the end of communism there are enough deluded people to keep that monstrosity intact.
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