Vulko Chervenkov (1950-1956)

Vulko Chervenkov was one of the many Bulgarian communists to whom the Stalin-style Soviet socialism was the only development model. Born in 1900 in Zlatitsa, he joined the communist party at the age of nineteen. In 1923 he took part in the September uprising, was sentenced to death, emigrated to the Soviet Union and worked with the Comintern. In Moscow he was provided with dogmatic political education. Being highly intelligent, he quickly stood out as one of the Bulgarian communists best acquainted with communist ideology after September 9, 1944.

Chervenkov embarked on his way to the top in the summer of 1941. As a member of the Bureau of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Party in exile in Moscow, he was responsible for the underground communist radio station Hristo Botev. He returned to Bulgaria in October 1944 and until 1962 was permanent by a member of the Politbureau. Chervenkov was a Stalinist hard-liner, very keen on party discipline.

For a while he was in the shadow of Georgi Dimitrov, Vassil Kolarov and Traicho Kostov, concealing his ambitions to get to the top. A stern person, firmly convinced in the rightness of the party line, Chervenkov was an active participant in the suppression of the non-communist political opposition and supported violence and physical retribution on political opponents. Locked up in concentration camps and prison cells, they either died or became firm opponents of the regime.

After Vassil Kolarov's death in 1950 Vulko Chervenkov not only became prime minister, but took the helm in the communist party as well, getting himself elected as general secretary. By becoming President of the National Council of the Fatherland Front he came to hold all the strings in the state.

Chervenkov got to the top with Stalin's support. His coming to power marked the end of a violent struggle in which the former emigrant communists, closely' related to Stalin's regime, got the upper hand over the local communists who started to lose ground after the execution of Traicho Kostov. Though devoting his life to politics, Chervenkov remained a reticent man. To his close associates he used to say that a politician who spoke too openly about everything aroused mistrust: a point of view indicative of Stalin's schooling, demanding the erection of a wall of communist ideology between the leader and ordinary people.

After Chervenkov's downfall the party accused him of having implanted the personality cult in Bulgaria. Indeed, he established a personal regime in both the state and the party structures. His personality was above anyone and anything. During his rule democracy, freedom of ideas and self-criticism were nothing but empty phrases, non- existent in political life.

At the regular party congress in early 1954, the results of the first five-year plan were reported with much enthusiasm, while in fact the forcible incorporation of land into cooperatives was devastating Bulgarian agriculture.

The complete dependence on the Soviet Union and the implicit obedience to the Kremlin-imposed internal and foreign political line made the idea of a "people's democracy" as the official form of government utterly senseless. Stalin's death in 1953 made Chervenkov's position more vulnerable. Having gained the support of the new Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, Todor Zhivkov gradually removed Chervenkov from all posts by 1962. For a while he was even expelled from the communist party. Chervenkov died in 1981.

Primary Source:
- Translated from the book "Rulers of Bulgaria"
- Bulgarian text by Profesor Milcho Lalkov, Ph.D.
- Published by Kibea Publishing Company, Sofia, Bulgaria

text used here with permission from translator, save modifications for noding