Bulgaria’s image problem

Communist East EuropeSo yesterday I came across an article that really got me mad.  So mad, in fact, that I wrote a letter to the editor (not that I expect it will do anything).  The article is about the East Germans killed while trying to escape the Communist bloc through Bulgaria, who they were, and how their families are trying to gain closure today.  The article highlights what is a growing problem for Bulgaria: its image and reputation abroad.  Recently many high profile European news sources including the BBC have run news stories highlighting the many negative aspects of Bulgaria, including the treatment of Bulgaria’s orphans, as I explored in a previous entry.  Bulgaria needs to actively combat this.  I thought that I would do my part.  Anyway, here’s the link to the article, it’s called The Cold War’s Forgotten Victims: Avenging East Germans Killed in Bulgaria.  Here’s my letter:

Dear Sir,

I understand of the need for closure for the families of the many victims.  However, what I do not understand is the need to constantly paint Bulgaria in such dark colors.  This article goes beyond its stated point, to avenge the East Germans killed in Bulgaria.  This article goes on to make a mockery of all citizens in Bulgaria, of all Bulgarian government institutions.  In fact, this article dehumanizes Bulgarians in a way reminiscent of Cold War propaganda.

Why not instead focus on Bulgarians, such as Rosi, who helped Germans maltreated by the Communist regime?  Or perhaps, we should take a look at why Bulgaria had a Communist regime in the first place; the country was invaded by Soviet soldiers after allying itself with Germany in World War II.  Perhaps we should also mention that Bulgaria saved all of its Jews from the Nazi regime as well.

We live in a different era now.  While there is need for closure, there is no need to stoke flames of hatred against Bulgarians.  And there is certainly no need to revive the Cold War today.  The majority of Bulgarians of today are good people.  Let’s not give them a reason to hate Germans.

Sincerely,

The Bulgarian Border

The Bulgarian Border

I’m not trying to claim that the deaths of the 18 East Germans at the Bulgarian borders is forgiveable.  However, 18 deaths out of ‘thousands’ of East Germans who tried to flee the Communist bloc seems to point that Bulgaria’s border patrol wasn’t quite as heavy handed as the Spiegel article claims.  Oh yes, the border signs were written in German as well as Bulgarian.  Incidentally, the Editor of the Spiegel that I sent my letter to will be on maternity vacation until January 2nd, 2009.

Anyway, I think Germany should be trying to forge new ties with Bulgaria, much as France is doing right now.  France just signed a strategic partnership agreement with Bulgaria, and Bulgaria is buying two corvettes (naval ships, not Chevys) worth $1.49 billion.

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About renovatio

I'm a recent college graduate looking forward to realizing my dreams. Hopefully, some of you will share in my successes by reading my blogs!
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2 Responses to Bulgaria’s image problem

  1. This might sound confusing but for Germans such kind of “investigations” are not directed against Bulgaria or any other specific country. They are part of an obsession to dig into the dark parts of their own history and the absolute will to discover the story as a whole with all its ambiguities and possible misunderstandings.

    Such a story like the one you are quoting should therefore be seen as a mean to put the sad story of East German citizens into a wider geographical context, something many Germans (East and West) would ignore.

    But this has nothing to do with a bad image of Bulgaria today!

    Germans are aware of the fault of their ancestors for this situation – and in fact, that is why they feel a duty to work up this history of suppression during the 20th century, first and foremost in their own country but also beyond.

    But be assured, as far as I can see around me, that this does not prevent Germans from having good relations with Bulgaria or from seeing that the evils of the past have been replaced by the will to move on altogether!

  2. renovatio says:

    Thanks for the comment. I did realize that I was perhaps a little too heated (and patriotic) in my response. I usually have nothing but respect for Germany and Germans.

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