Ratniks

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Warriors for the Advancement of the Bulgarian National Spirit
Leader Professor Asen Kantardzhiev
Founded 1936 (1936)
Dissolved 1944 (1944) (banned)
Headquarters Formerly Sofia, Bulgaria
Newspaper Progled
Ideology National Socialism,
Bulgarian nationalism,
Racism,
Antisemitism
Political position Far-right
International affiliation N/A
Colors Red
Party flag
Flag Ratnik.svg

The Ratniks (Ратник), or Warriors for the Advancement of the Bulgarian National Spirit, were members of a far-right Bulgarian nationalist organization founded in 1936. Its ideas were close to those of Germany's Nazis, including antisemitism and paramilitarism, but also loyalty to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The Ratniks (ratnitsi) wore red uniforms in outright competition with the communists for the hearts and minds of the Bulgarian youth, and also badges bearing the Bogar.

Despite decreeing their loyalty to the Monarchy and King Boris III of Bulgaria he officially dissolved the organisation in April 1939.[1] The ban however was not enforced and they remained in existence.[2] It was soon after the ban that they carried out one of their more notorious acts, the so-called "Bulgarian Kristallnacht" when, on September 20, 1939, the Ratniks were marched in Sofia throwing stones at the Jewish shops. Police did not intervene and some shop windows were sashed although ultimately it proved to have much less impact than the German version and was widely condemned by most politicians.[3] Alexander Belev, a leading member of the group, would claim that the attack had been his idea and that he had personally led the mob.[4]

With the coming of the Red Army and the Bolsheviks into Bulgaria on September 9, 1944, Ratniks disappeared from the Bulgarian scene. Many of the leaders became members of the Bulgarian national government abroad, some of the young Ratniks become volunteers in the Wehrmacht, while others chose to stay in Bulgaria and fight against the Communists.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stanley G. Payne, A History of Fascism 1914-45, Routledge, 2001 p. 326
  2. ^ Payne, A History of Fascism 1914-45, p. 429
  3. ^ Michael Bar-Zohar, Beyond Hitler's Grasp: The Heroic Rescue of Bulgaria's Jews, Adams Media Corporation, 1998, p. 8
  4. ^ Bar-Zohar, Beyond Hitler's Grasp, p. 51