Appendix 1: Communist Concentration Camps in Bulgaria

Submitted by Reddebrek on April 1, 2018


In spite of the ferocious communist repression in Bulgaria - to which we referred in our last issue - the voice of our Anarchist comrades in that country has not been silenced. The report from the Secretary of the Bulgarian Anarchist-Communist Federation, which we print below, was smuggled past the iron curtain, and has been sent to us by the Sub-Secretariat of the International Workers Association for Western Europe.

“All the letters of our alphabet would not be enough to present the true character of the concentration camps in our country, which are intended to exterminate man and his freedom. Alongside our comrades in these camps are thousands of other Bulgarians. “We shall give some facts and examples that you may judge the reality. “The camps are composed of barracks made of wood or earthen bricks, and are in two wings. The beds - one above another - are two metres long and 40 cm. wide. On the bed the prisoner must place, at one and the same time, himself and his baggage, and from the first night onward he is able to understand perfectly the nature of the camps.

“One cannot speak of hygiene, because, in the main, there is insufficient water. In most of the camps, water has to be fetched from far off, and there is not enough for everyone to drink. It’s a big event when one is able to wash one’s clothes - a thing that isn’t possible for everyone. Only the strongest are able to wash their linen once a month, or once in two months. Medical aid is given by decree. Doctors are forbidden to prescribe rest in more than the agreed percentage of cases; in the Cuciyan Camp, for example, this is 1 per cent.
“The quality of the food is beyond description. For example, in the Cuciyan Camp, near the town of Pernik, where the work of mining is very hard and painful, the ration is 600 gr. of bread a day and a soup called ‘chorba,’which do not give the necessary calories. For several months nothing but cabbage - of the worst quality in Bulgaria - has been cooked in the Camp, a witness from the camp tells us. ‘Most of our fat and sugar ration is kept by the camp guards,’ a cook, recently released from this camp, states. The food for nearly 1,000 men is cooked in boilers meant to supply 200 - 250. It is the same in the camp called Bogdanovdol. In boilers for 70 - 80 men is cooked the food for 150 - 200. The prisoners work 15 hours a day making bricks. The situation in these camps is particularly bad, as food and clothing parcels have been forbidden since January 1st. “The bad conditions of the dwelling quarters and the food are not the sole causes of the discomfort which the internees are made to suffer. The amount of work required from each one is hard, and is, moreover, accompanied by an inhuman system of punishments. In this matter the two camps cited are the worst. The Cuciyan Camp is known as “The Caresses of Death” and Bogdanovdol “The Camp of Shadows.” “The treatment inflicted on the anarchists is particularly bad. They are often forced to do 36 hours’ work without halting. Twelve to 16 hours work is the normal thing.

Men often fall down of hunger and fatigue, and there have been some deaths in spite of the practice of releasing dying prisoners, so that their deaths take place at their homes and not at the camp. “Punishments are so bad, that they are beyond conception. In addition to beatings, supplementary work and imprisonment for several months, the infamous punishment of “counting the stars” is practiced. The internees are forced to remain standing motionless in front of the guards in the open air, during the night, in rain, frost or snow. This punishment lasts one, two, three, four, five or ten consecutive nights and those who are undergoing this punishment have to work during the day. These punishments are applied on the slightest pretext.

“For example, one of our comrades was ordered to ‘count the stars’ because he took an invalid from work and put him to bed. Another elderly comrade received three nights of it for the crime of not rising when one of the camp officers passed through the hall while he was eating at midday. “Collective punishments’ are often applied. For an error by one detainee, a group, a barracks or the whole camp may be punished. These collective punishments are used often against the Anarchists. There are other special punishments. For example, by an order from above, the Anarchist collective has been destroyed and all the means of subsistence confiscated. In September alone more than 100 kilos were confiscated from them. “What we have already said about the Bulgarian extermination camps would be incomplete without some supplementary details. In the Cuciyan Camp, for example, a few months ago, two children of 14 spent nearly two months. In Bogdanovdol and Cuciyan ten Turkish children of 15 - 17 years of age are still detained today. With these children are old people of 60 - 70. “As in Francoist Spain and monarcho-fascist Greece, a regime of terror and intolerable violence reigns throughout Bulgaria today. The detention of our comrades continues, and this is now without even a charge being brought: ‘He who is not with us is an enemy of the people,’ declared a Bulgarian Minister recently, ‘and against him we must fight pitilessly.’ “It is enough now to be an Anarchist, or simply an honest man, to refuse to call black white, or to recognize the new masters, to be labelled ‘Enemy of the people,’ ‘saboteur’ or ‘agitator,’ and to be taken from your home and separated from your family. “All free-thinking people throughout the world must raise their voices and protest against these crimes. We ask them to make these facts known so that they can rise with us against the Bolshevik butchery. “Down with the masquerade of the false communism and the false communist!

Bulgaria, January, 1948”

Transmitted by the Sub-Secretariat of the I.W.A. for W. EUROPE, Provisional Secretary, Bernardo Pou.