Only the Forbidden Newspapers Will be Remembered
The collection "Only the Forbidden Newspapers Remain in History!" (Stefan Prodev) is one of the many collections of funds of the National Library "St. Cyril and St. Methodius "(NBCM), containing rich and diverse materials for and from the socialist period.
The newspapers and magazines presented in the collection show the possible forms of opposition by journalists and authors; the ways in which questions of freedom of the press were raised; the attempts to circumvent censorship and to rise critical issues on the regime; to develop new insights into artistic and genre diversity.
Sofia Vasil Levski Boulevard 88, Bulgaria 1504
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Name of collection
- "Only the Forbidden Newspapers Will be Remembered!" (Stefan Prodev)
Provenance and cultural activities
After the establishment of the so-called Fatherland Front Government in Bulgaria on 9th September 1944, drastic changes in the institutions that created, published and distributed periodicals, books and documents began. The creation of an official censorship institution - the Ministry of Propaganda (MP from September 1944 to 11th December 1947, renamed from 1 January 1945 to Ministry of Information and the Arts), was of particular importance for the policy of the new power over book publishing and press.
The Ministry of Propaganda took over the coordination of all the control and prohibition measures in respect of books and the press issued on the territory of the country. With a special decree of the new government of 6 October 1944 the access to certain books and periodicals with "Pro-German, fascist and racist character" became prohibited. In the State Library "Vasil Kolarov" (today's National Library) special commissions were established, which created lists of books and magazines subject to destruction, forbidden to free access and for official use only. These "forbidden" publications make up the nucleus of today's collection.
In 1946, a special Law supplement to the Press Act of 1921 was adopted to "legalize" the suspension of opposition newspapers as well as editions that could "harm the state’s general interests, create moods dangerous to the public order and tranquility or to disturb our relations with foreign countries "(State Gazette, issue 97, 30 April 1946).
In 1947, the Communist government liquidated private property, printing and publishing houses were abolished, the opposition's press was banned (the newspapers Radical, People’s Agrarian Flag, Free People, Flag, People's Voice). Massive "purges" in the organizations of the Bulgarian journalists were undertaken, journalists were arrested, sentenced and sent to prisons and forced labor camps, some - killed. Thus, the new type of journalism with the function of being a collective organizer, propagandist, and agitator of the new system, was imposed.
At the end of 1947, a new state body was established, the Committee on Science, Art and Culture, which formally took the place of the Ministry of Information and the Arts, and in its composition was closely linked to the Agitation and Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Ministry of Interior. In 1950, the General Directorate of Publishing Houses, Printing and Print-Trade Industry (1950-1956) was set up to draw up lists of "harmful literature" in Bulgaria, following the example of Glavlit in the Soviet Union.
Throughout the whole period of state socialism, the comprehensive vertical and horizontal press control system have been preserved. Glavlit officially ceased operations after the 1956 April 1956 Plenum, but the lists of "harmful literature" were not canceled. Unofficially the activity in this direction continued, even adding or compiling new lists of "decadent" literature. Nevertheless, authors and editions managed to circumvent censorship and publish in one or another edition texts with concealed or more open anti-totalitarian content. There were many cases of sanctions - individual dismissals of journalists and/or (temporary) suspension of periodicals. Samizdat periodicals did not appear in Bulgaria until the 1980s.
For the name of the collection is used a phrase of the editor-in-chief of the journal "Literary News", Stefan Prodev, told in 1964 as the newspaper became banned: "Only the forbidden newspapers will be remembered!" The ad hoc collection was established as such in 2016. It covers banned and staged newspapers and magazines from the time of state socialism, Samizdat magazines, and the journal "Prilep. Journal of Literature" (1990). The latter was established after the political change in 1989 but included in the collection because, for the first time, it published author-dissidents. The collection is very important for studying censorship practices and attempts to avoid them, in the press in Bulgaria during the socialist period.
Description of content
The collection "Only the forbidden newspapers will be remembered!" includes a total of 14 periodical titles and over 1,250 issues of oppositional newspapers which were forbidden in the late 1940s. It also includes the literary journal "Literaturni Novini" ("Literary News"), which was established as a critical publication in 1961 and was forced to suspend publishing in 1964; it includes the Samizdat-magazines "Most. Almanah za alternativna poezia" [Bridge. Almanac for Alternative Poetry] (1989-1990) and "Glas. Nezavisimo spisanie za literatura i publitsistika" [Voice. Independent Magazine for Literature and Journalism] (1989), and the literary journal "Prilep. A Journal of Literature". The latter journal was added, although it began publication only in 1990, i.e. after the political changes of 1989, because of the fact that it for the first time published author-dissidents.
- legal and/or financial documentation: 10-99
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 1000-
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
Date of founding
Place of founding
Sofia Vasil Levski Boulevard 88, Bulgaria
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Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Kasabova, Anelia Dr.
Карадачка-Симеонова, Юлия, Karadachka-Simeonova, Yulia, interview by Kasabova, Anelia Dr., January 31, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Янакиева, Елена, Yanakieva, Elena, interview by Kasabova, Anelia Dr., June 06, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection