Oral History of Communism in Bulgaria (1944–1989)

a) In-depth interviews with the “inhabitants” of the communist regime and

b) Call for life narratives and authentic diaries from the communist times.

Period: 2010 – 2012

Our general goal is by introducing to the interested audience the private, intimate experience of the people under communism to enrich and broaden the critical historical knowledge and social capacity for moral evaluation of our common recent past.

The project team tries to achieve these through the development of a rich database of people’s testimonies from the times of the communist regime in Bulgaria. As it is noted in the proposed project title it will consist of two types of resources: (1) interviews and (2) written life narratives gathered through an open call for recollections and authentic diaries from 1944–1989. These two forms of witnesses have things in common but also presuppose a different level of self-awareness and varying proportion of spontaneity and auto-censorship. Viewed from this perspective they are complementary and provide an additional validation for each other. It is hard to foresee who and how many will answer the call for written life stories. However, in respect to the anthropological survey and according to the financial and human resources the project team can conduct from 150 to 200 in-depth interviews.

The proposed project will rely on the methods of the oral history combined with audio and video documentation of the interviewees.

The implementation of the project will contribute to the difficult process of dealing with and understanding the communist past. Most important, numerous people will have the chance to talk about and witness for their lifetime. The publication of these recollections and stories will stimulate others who are still reluctant or hesitant to speak. Second but not less, these testimonies will form a valuable corpus of primary resources assisting the historiography of the communist period in its endeavor to critically and thoroughly analyze the past reality. More then this, by researching everyday life historians will have the chance to accommodate the positivistic history with the intimate memory of the common people and by making them part of the ‘grand course of events’ to enhance their capacity to understand and evaluate the communist phenomena through their own experience. The combined effect of all these, the moral and historical awareness form a solid basis for the development of citizenship and democracy in Bulgaria.

The project is funded by the America for Bulgaria Foundation.