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The Black Rock

The Black Rock (Cherna Skala) is a natural phenomenon in the Rila mountains, about one hour on foot from Borovets, in the direction of Zavrachitsa mountain lodge. The distance from the summit of the rock to its stony base is about 135 metres forming a gorge with a sheer cliff. Dozens of men were killed here after the 9th September, 1944. They were victims of the new “people’s power” from the region of Samokov and the villages of Iskar and Belchin.

The victims were wealthy people – traders, craftsmen and wealthy villagers from the region – killed without trial and sentence.

After the collapse of the communist regime in 1989, Bulgaria began to talk freely of the men from Samokov who disappeared without a trace in the autumn 1944 (see the article by Georgi Manov, only available in Bulgarian – editor’s note).

Important recollections of the relatives of the missing men have been collected. One of them recalls:

“In the summer of 1944 and 1945, I went with some other children from the village of Raduil upstream of the Slivnitsa river, right up to the Black Rock. I’ve been there since as a hunter. In the spring of 1945, there was a foul stench coming from there. It was fenced off. In the autumn, we saw human bones. In one place we found two skulls amongst the rocks in the river. One of them had a round hole in it, like from a bullet, in the back of the head. Then a man from the mayor’s office went to collect the bones and skulls. No-one knows where he buried them. One man from our village saw them pushing men off the top of the cliff”.

The descendants of the men who went missing without trace in Samokov are convinced that in 1944 the Black Rocks was used as a place of execution for their relatives.

After the political changes, the Black Rock became a place for pilgrimage in honour of the victims killed without trial and sentence after the 9th September, 1944.

The first pilgrimage was organised by the UDF and democratic citizens from Samokov on the 13th May, 1990. The journalist, Georgi Manov, describes it as a mass initiative in which people made their pilgrimage to the Black Rock in buses, cars, carts and on foot. An impressive black iron cross has been placed on the Black Rocks with the inscription: “To the memory of the victims of the Red Terror murdered here".

The tradition of pilgrimage in honour of those murdered without trial and sentence has been preserved for a quarter of a century, and the memorial service is held in the autumn.