State Security and the Bulgarian Intelligentsia
The collection includes documents (archival material) stored in the archive of the "Commission for the Disclosure of Documents and Announcing Affiliation of Bulgarian Citizens with the State Security and the Intelligence Services of the Bulgarian People's Army", commonly called "Commission for Dossiers" (Comdos) in Bulgarian.
The collection documents developments among the Bulgarian intelligentsia during the communist regime through the perspective of the secret police and reveals their strategies of observation and persecution of critical intellectuals.
BG-Sofia 1000, ul. Vrabcha 1
Show on map
Name of collection
- State Security and the Bulgarian Intelligentsia
Provenance and cultural activities
One of the central questions of the transition from the communist regime to democracy in Bulgaria was the problem of what should be done with the archives of communist state security. In contrast to the countries of Central Europe, the initial impulse to come to terms with the communist period was not sufficient to bring about their opening. In the 1990s this question disappeared from the political agenda but the quest for opening the archives did not disappear completely; it was supported by non-governmental organizations, historians, and journalists. The public pressure, reinforced by the demands of the EU in the accession negotiations led to the adoption of a new law on the use of archival materials, pertaining also to the files of the interior ministry, at the end of 2006. In 2007 the "Commission for the disclosure of documents and announcing the affiliation of Bulgarian citizens with the State Security and the intelligence services of the Bulgarian National Army" (official acronym: CRDOPBGDSRSBNA) was established.
Commonly known as “Commission on Dossiers” (Comdos), the commission was quick to gain confidence by revealing the names of those who had worked for the State Security, beginning with members of the political elite of the transition period and personalities of influence, such as representatives of media outlets, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and other religious communities. Another important success of the Commission was to gather documents on the former structures of the State Security and to bring them together in a separate archive administered by the Commission.
The collection on the Bulgarian intelligentsia and its observation by the State Security was created in 2007; the documentary volume was published in 2015. The collection is composed entirely of materials stored in the centralized archive of the Commission. The Commission has created (curated) this selection and published the documents also in a book, in order to document the observation and persecution of the Bulgarian intelligentsia by the state during communism. The State Security was one of the main instruments of the communist regime to maintain control over the intellectuals, who were always suspected to be potential critics of the government. The authorities feared "ideological diversion" by Western intelligence agencies through supportive intellectuals.
A great part of the documents in the collection is reports or summaries of assessments. They show the main tasks and measures of the State Security, such as the timely exposure and suppression of so-called ‘hostile elements’; prevention of activities by dissidents and other groups and individuals critical of socialism; the "protection of socialist society"; the fight against ideological influence of the West; the struggle against so-called "negative phenomena", and the prevention of the spread of "alien" ideas by intellectuals and scientists who had been abroad.
The documents up to the mid-1960s, for example, usually use the umbrella terms "intelligentsia", "bourgeois intelligentsia" or "hostile intelligentsia" to describe the people who were observed by Division No. 1 of the State Security. The people observed included writers, artists, actors, musicians, lawyers, engineers, architects, journalists, doctors, teachers, and people in high academic posts from various fields of science. In 1967 the Sixth Division was formed in order "to combat ideological subversion, counter-revolutionary, nationalist and other seditious activities in the country". Since then, the terminology used by the State Security became more variegated. Terms like "artistic", "scientific", "science and technology", or "health" intelligentsia can be found in the documents of the security services.
Although the State Security did not register outright "hostile actions" in public among the intelligentsia, the documents nevertheless reveal different forms of opposition against and dissatisfaction with the regime. The most important form was the creation of works that were in conflict with the party line and the formation of groups of dissidents, who clandestinely met and criticized the party. Another important element in the work of the State Security among intellectuals was the attempt to recruit informants and agents. Such efforts began in the 1960s and intensified in the 1970s. Especially people knowing Western languages and having contacts with Western countries were solicited by the State Security for the purpose of counter-intelligence and fighting against attempts of "diversion" by the Western intelligence. In some cases, the cooperation is on a voluntary basis, of ‘patriotic grounds.’ But there are a number of examples where people were induced by “discredits” with regard to them or their relatives.
The focus during the first half of the 1970s is placed on controlling the relationships in the so-called friend’s circles (referred to by the services as ‘saloons’, ‘microstructures’, ‘private rooms’), which goal was – according to the SS “to oppose to the party politics”. The integration of SS with the KGB was deepened – lists of potential Bulgarian dissidents are sent to the fraternal services to organize their monitoring abroad.
The collection gives insights in the complex policy of the Bulgarian Communist Party to establish a monopoly on intellectual work by implementing a number of limitations: creative freedom was curtailed by party instructions in art and science; personal freedom was limited through restrictions of travels abroad; the right to freedom of opinion was curtailed by the suppression of persons with different views. The measures undertaken by the SS start with a ‘prophylactic conversation’ and go to obstructing career development of an individual or depriving them of the opportunity for expression in the sphere of their own competence. The collection, therefore, gives a vivid image of the constraints under which Bulgarian intellectuals lived and worked. At the same time, the collection shows the various forms of resistance against the established order which existed, despite the mentioned measures of control, pressure, and persecution. The documents reveal oppositional strategies and practices, and highlight individuals and groups who were critical of the regime and their actions.
The collection is of great importance especially for researchers, but also the general public because it allows tracing not only the development of intellectual life during state socialism through the prism of the repressive organs of the state but also because it gives a clear picture of the control strategies of the state.
The collection has been published as the thirty-first edition of the series "From the Archives of the State Security" in 2015 and is accessible online free of charge (http://comdos.bg/media/CD%20SBORNIK%2031_Inteligensia%20opt.pdf)
Description of content
The collection and the published volume “The State Security and the Bulgarian Intelligentsia”, which emanates from it, include 144 archival documents: reports by agents, action plans, various information by intelligence agents and other documents. They are arranged chronologically.
In compliance with the Law on Access and Disclosure of Documents and Announcing Affiliation of Bulgarian Citizens to the State Security and the Intelligence Service of the Bulgarian National Army from 2006 a minimal part of the documents containing sensitive information has been deleted.
The selected documents are mainly from the official archives of the Ministry of Interior, especially from the archives of: Third Directorate of State Security (to combat counter-revolution, existing until 1963, f. 13); Sixth Division of State Security (to combat ideological subversion, counterrevolutionary, nationalist and other seditious activities, f. 22); and the Central Analytical Information Service (CIAS) and the Central Information Organizational Directorate (CIOD, f. 38). Numerous documents from "letter files" from the metropolitan and regional directorates of the Ministry of Interior have been used as well.
The documents are of great factual value and reveal important developments among the Bulgarian intelligentsia and how the repressive state interacted with them. They also show how the State Security's perception of (critical) intellectuals changed. That is, the documents can also be used for conceptual history and the analysis of (changing) perceptions. The documents also highlight how the anxiety of the state about the political loyalty of intellectuals was affected by the increase of contacts with Western countries, and how the State Security tried to fight these "hostile forces". This also pertains to the role of Bulgarian intellectuals in exile and the state's efforts to limit their influence among the intelligentsia in Bulgaria.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 100-499
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Show on map
Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- Information about Svoboda Buchvarova and the family Zhelyu and Maria Zhelevi
- Information about the preventive activity of State Security 1984
- Information on Radoy Ralin and Boris Dimovski
- Information on cultural and scientific figures residing abroad
- Information on the Union of Bulgarian Writers
- Note on the artistic intelligentsia 1984
- Report 1973
- Report for 1957
- Report for 1980
- Report on ideological sabotage and subversive activities among the intelligentsia
- completely open to the public
- CDDAABCSSIBNAF 2015. Darzhavna sigurnost i balgarskata inteligentsia [State Security and the Bulgarian Intelligentsia]. Sofia: CDDAABCSSIBNAF (= Iz arhivite na DS, t. 31 [From the Archives of the State Security, vol. 31]
Author(s) of this page
- Kasabova, Anelia Dr.
Metodiev, Momchil 2014. Der bulgarische Staatssicherheitsdienst: Ursprung, Entwicklung, Vermächtnis. In: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. Texte zum Kommunismus in Bulgarien. http://www.kas.de/wf/de/33.38252/
, interview by , . COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection