Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sofia's Soviet Army Memorial

One of the large parks in Sofia has a Soviet Army monument that is a point of controversy.

The monument of a Red Army soldier, with a Bulgarian man, woman and child, was erected in 1954 to honor the role of the Soviets in defeating fascism in WWII.

When the monument was built, Bulgaria was a communist state that was firmly entrenched in the Soviet Bloc. It was commonplace to find monuments to Lenin and Karl Marx. Red Army memorials too. There's still a Red Army memorial in Brno's Moravské náměstí.

Today there are mixed views on the monument in Sofia. Some people feel that it represents an important part of the country's history and should be maintained. Some people view it as a never ending symbol of Bulgaria's occupation by the Soviet Union.

The problem is that Bulgaria's Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the monument can not be moved or dismantled. The basis of the ruling is that, according to the Bulgarian Territorial Organization Act, it is a memorial object which means that it can only be dismantled with agreement by the creators which is impossible to obtain.

On June 17, 2011, overnight, a street artist painted over the bronze figures on the side of the memorial transforming them into American superheroes and pop culture icons – Superman, the Joker, Wolverine, Santa Claus, Ronald McDonald, the Mask, Captain America, Robin, and Wonder Woman. The Soviet flag was repainted as an American flag. In Bulgarian, the phrase "In step with the times" was spray painted below the figures. This obviously upset Moscow which took it as a huge insult.

The monument was cleaned on June 20th but you can still see a bit of paint remaining. Many east European cities have had to come to terms with the communist years. Some statues were destroyed. Some were moved to out of the way areas or became part of socialist art exhibits. Budapest, for example, opened a communist memorial theme park outside of town.

EDIT:  In 2013, the memorial was painted again.
EDIT:  In 2014, the memorial was painted again, this time in support of Ukraine.

No comments:

Post a Comment