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Memorial Monument to the Victims of Communism in Bulgaria

The memorial monument to the victims of communism in Bulgaria stands in the Eastern part of the park in front of the National Palace of Culture (NDK) and is the largest of its kind in the country. The decision to erect it was taken by the Municipal Council on the 7th December, 1994.

The memorial monument is dedicated to everyone who fell victim to the terrorist actions of the BCP before the 9th September 1944, or during the totalitarian regime in Bulgaria (1944-1989) notwithstanding their ethnic origin, religious faith, nationality or age.

The memorial monument includes a 58 metre long wall faced with polished black granite inscribed with the names of 7526 victims, a Christian cross in the central part of the wall and an Orthodox chapel dedicated to “All Bulgarian Martyrs”.

The initiative to build the memorial monument was supported by 102 persons, including repressed victims of the regime, relatives of the dead, intellectuals and politicians who in October, 1994, in the National Palace of Culture, set up the Fund “Monument to the Victims of Communism”.

It was designed by a group of architects led by Atanas Todorov and  Dimitar Krastev. Their design was ranked first out of fifteen proposals  in the national competition organised by the Fund “Monument to the Victims of Communism”, in 1995.

Construction took place between 1997 and 1999. Funds for the monument were donated by hundreds of patriotic Bulgarians. The first persons to donate funds were Engineer Tsvetan Ivanchev and poetess Zheni Zaimova, and the primary donor was Iliya Iliev, a political émigré in the USA, whose donation of 60 000 dollars was to mark the memory of his parents Sultana and Bogdan Iliev who were persecuted and tormented by the communists.

The memorial monument was opened on the 11th September, 1999, with a church service conducted by His Eminence Inokenti Bishop of Sofia (alternative Holy Synod) together with priests from the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (alternative Holy Synod) and priests from the Catholic and Armenian Church.

On the 1st November, 2002, in the ancient church of St. Sofia, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (alternative Holy Synod) issued a decision to beatify all the victims of communism in Bulgaria and declare them as martyrs, sacred martyrs and holy martyrs.

Memorial and funeral services are held in the memorial chapel to honour the memory of the victims of the communist regime on the following dates:
1st February – Day of respect and thanks to the victims of the communist regime. This day was commemorated for the first time in 2011 when it was confirmed with a decision of the GERB government and Prime Minister, Boiko Borisov, at the proposal of Presidents of the Republic, Dr. Zheliu Zhelev (1990-1997) and Petar Stoyanov (1997-2002) who approved the idea proposed by Dimi Panitsa, the political émigré and philanthropist. The idea of the 1st of February is connected with the fact that on this date in 1945, the death sentences of the former regents, court advisors, ministers and deputies of the 25th National Assembly were carried out. The death sentences were issued by the First and Second Supreme Commissions of the so-called  People’s Court organised by the new communist authorities under the dictate of Georgi Dimitrov from Moscow.

23rd August – European Day of Remembrance for the victims of the crimes of Stalinism and Nazism.  On the 23rd August, 1939, German and the USSR signed a non-aggression treaty known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. The treaty contained a secret protocol which set out “spheres of influence” and occupation zones.  In practice the pact between Hitler and Stalin prepared the ground for the Second World War. This day was confirmed by the European Parliament in September, 2008, at the proposal of the Prague Conference, “European Conscience and Communism”, held in Prague in June, 2008. The same year, the 40th Bulgarian National Assembly ratified a resolution in support of the Prague Declaration and the need for the truth about the crimes of the communist regime to become public knowledge. On the 27th November, 2009, at the proposal of Lachezar Toshev, a member of parliament for the Blue Coalition, the 41st National Assembly ratified a decision to declare the 23rd August as the Day of Remembrance for the Crimes of the National Socialist, Communist and other totalitarian regimes to honour the memory of their victims. On the 23rd August, 2010, this day was celebrated in Bulgaria for the first time.

9th September – the day on which in 1944 the communist regime was established in Bulgaria while the country was occupied by the army of the USSR.