Revival Process

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The Revival Process, which is also known in English as the Process of Rebirth (Bulgarian: Възродителен процес - Vǎzroditelen protses) was the official name of the policy of forced assimilation of Bulgaria's Turkish minority and the country's other Muslim minorities of different ethnicities.


Bulgaria's about 900,000 ethnic Turks, at that time representing 10% of the country's population, were to assimilate by changing their Turkish and Arabic names, including their deceased ancestors's, to "Bulgarian" names. Exercising their Turkish customs and language as well as Islamic faith were also prohibited. The name-changing campaign was carried out between late 1984 and early 1985. The repressions lasted unabated from 1984 through 1989 under the communist government of Todor Zhivkov. Those who refused were subjected to persecution, including imprisonment, expulsion and internment in the then reactivated infamous Belene concentration camp, situated on an island in the Danube river.[1][2]

As part of the campaign, all Bulgarian nationals who were ethnically Turkish were forced to change their names to non-Muslim Bulgarian names amid much official intimidation, some violence and loss of life. Ethnic Bulgarian Muslims had already been forced to change their names in 1972.[3]

1989 Mass Flight[edit]

In early 1989, in some areas with large ethnic Turkish populations severe clashes with fatalities occurred. Shortly after that, when the border with Turkey was opened on 29 May 1989 exclusively for the country's Turks and Muslims, over 360,000 people left Communist Bulgaria to Turkey between 30 May 1989 and 22 August 1989.[4]

This 1989 expulsion of the Bulgarian Turks to Turkey has been called the largest case of ethnic cleansing[5] in Europe since the expulsion of Germans living east of the Oder-Neisse line during 1944-1950 as agreed at the Potsdam Conference. On 11 January 2012, the Bulgarian Parliament officially recognized the 1989 expulsion as ethnic cleansing.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Policies of the Bulgarian Communist Party towards Jews, Roma, Pomaks and Turks (1944-89) Archived 2007-09-26 at the Wayback Machine (Bulgarian). By Ulrich Büchsenschütz. International Center for Minority Studies and Intercultural Relations, 2000. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
  2. ^ These Events Need to be Discussed in the History Textbooks (Bulgarian). Dr. Mihail Ivanov (Interview). Mediapool. 22 March 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
  3. ^ Ali, Eminov. 1997. Turkish and Other Muslim Minorities in Bulgaria. London: Hurst, p 86,
  4. ^ Tomasz Kamusella. 2018. Ethnic Cleansing During the Cold War: The Forgoten 1989 Expulsion of Turks from Communist Bulgaria (Ser: Routledge Studies in Modern European History). London: Routledge, 328pp. ISBN 9781138480520
  5. ^ 27 години от „Голямата екскурзия“ – комунистическият план за етническо прочистване. 2016.
  6. ^ ДЕКЛАРАЦИЯосъждаща опита за насилствена асимилация на българските мюсюлмани. 2012. ; Bulgarian MPs Enforce 'Revival Process' Official Condemnation. 2012.

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