Revival Process

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


Bulgaria's Turks (that is, about 900,000 people, or 10% of the country's population) were to assimilate by changing their Turkish and Arabic names to Bulgarian (Slavic) names (including their deceased ancestors). It was also forbidden the exercise of their Turkish (Muslim) customs, religion and language. 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 Island concentration camp in the Danube.[1][2]

As part of the campaign, all Bulgarian nationals who were ethnically Turkish were forced to exchange their names for Bulgarian names amid much official intimidation, some violence and loss of life (Muslim Bulgarians had been forced to change their names in 1972).[3]

1989 Ethnic Cleansing[edit]

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

This 1989 expulsion of the Bulgarian Turks to Turkey constituted the largest case of ethnic cleansing[5] in Europe since the expulsion of Germans living east of the Oder-Neisse line during 1944-50 (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 Forgotten 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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