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Day of Remembrance and Respect to Victims of the Communist Regime – February 1, 2023

Day of Remembrance and Respect to Victims of the Communist Regime is observed in Bulgaria on February 1 every year. It was declared by the government to honor the memory of all those who were wrongfully imprisoned and killed by the oppressive regime in Bulgaria, as well as to have a permanent reminder of these heinous acts. It’s not a public holiday so businesses don’t close. But, to commemorate the Day, wreaths are placed at the memorial wall in Sofia, and memorial church services are held, with politicians also giving speeches.

History of Day of Remembrance and Respect to Victims of the Communist Regime

Bulgaria has a dark past that was made so by the Bulgarian Communist Party which took control of the country in 1944. With it came widespread political repression as the party moved to establish its absolute authority over the people of Bulgaria. One of the tools they used to do this was the establishment of the ‘People’s Court’ which was set outside the tenets of the Bulgarian Constitution. This illegal body was used as: “an instrument of the communist terror.”

On February 1, 1945, regents, members of parliament, generals, cabinet ministers, colonels, and bankers were sentenced to death by the People’s Court and executed on the same day. In the months following these brutal killings, the Court continued trying people allegedly connected to the previous government. Over 9,000 people were sentenced, about 2,730 were executed, and 1,305 were sentenced to life imprisonment. Others simply ‘disappeared’ before even getting a trial, leaving thousands lying in unmarked graves. In 1949, the Belene Labor Camp was established on Belene Island to target ‘enemies of the regime,’ most especially evangelical Christian pastors. This terrible camp operated officially until 1959.

In November 1989, this brutish regime was brought to an end and there was a peaceful transition to parliamentary democracy. In 1996, the Supreme Court overturned the sentences given in 1945 due to the lack of evidence against the accused. And in 1998, the Constitutional Court of Bulgaria declares the People’s Court unconstitutional.

Day of Remembrance and Respect to Victims of the Communist Regime timeline

1945
The Bloodbath Begins

The People's Court sentences and executes people arbitrarily.

1949
The Belene Detention Camp

The Belene Labor Camp begins operating on Belene Island, Bulgari

1989
The End of the Brutality

Bulgaria makes the peaceful transition from a communist state to a parliamentary democracy.

1996
The Sentences are Overturned

The Supreme Court overturns the People's Court sentences in 1945 due to the absence of evidence.

1998
The End of an Era

By the order of the Constitutional Court of Bulgaria, the People's Court is no longer constitutional.

Day of Remembrance and Respect to Victims of the Communist Regime FAQs

Is Bulgaria democratic?

No, Bulgaria is a unitary parliamentary republic.

Who is the president of Bulgaria?

Rumen Radev and the vice-president is Iliana Iotova.

What is the population of Bulgaria?

According to the World Bank, Bulgaria’s population was approximately 6.9 million people in 2020.

How to Observe Day of Remembrance and Respect to Victims of the Communist Regime

  1. Honor the fallen

    Thousands of people were unfairly sentenced and executed by the Communist regime. Join the people of Bulgaria in honoring the fallen.

  2. Reject injustice

    As stated by Martin Luther King, "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Stand against oppression and injustice in your society.

  3. Spread the message

    Tell others about the victims, emphasizing how horrible what happened was and how much we need to avoid such tragedies in the future.

5 Core Characteristics Of Communism

  1. Everything is controlled from one place

    In a communist system, the supply and demand of goods are controlled by central planning.

  2. It abolishes private property

    Communism does not give room for private ownership of means of production and prohibits private businesses.

  3. It eliminates income gaps

    Wide and unfair gaps in income are eliminated, as each person is compensated on a need basis.

  4. Everything is state-owned

    In a communist system, all means of production are under the ownership and control of the state.

  5. Provision of necessities

    The government is responsible for providing work and compensation according to the capabilities of every individual.

Why Day of Remembrance and Respect to Victims of the Communist Regime is Important

  1. Exposing oppression

    This Day exposes the brutal oppression of the Communist regime in Bulgaria. This ensures that history is not rewritten in a way that protects oppressors.

  2. It serves as a memorial

    Memorials are an opportunity to remember the precious lives that were lost. We celebrate their lives as we honor their sacrifice.

  3. Justice served

    Unjust sentences against falsely accused people were overturned. There’s hope for justice, after all.

Day of Remembrance and Respect to Victims of the Communist Regime dates

YearDateDay
2023February 1Wednesday
2024February 1Thursday
2025February 1Saturday
2026February 1Sunday
2027February 1Monday
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