Tsola Dragoycheva

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Tsola Nincheva Dragoycheva (Bulgarian: Цола Нинчева Драгойчева; 18 August 1898 – 26 May 1993), also known under the pseudonym Sonya, was a Bulgarian politician of the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP).[1] A member of the illegal armed wing of the party in the 1920s, she spent years in prison and as an émigré in the Soviet Union. After World War II, she held a number of high posts and was part of the nomenklatura. From 1946 until 1990, she was continuously a member of the National Assembly of Bulgaria. On 11 December 1947 she became the first female member of a cabinet in the history of the country.[2]

Life and career[edit]

Dragoycheva was born on 30 August [O.S. 18 August] 1898 in the town of Byala Slatina in Vratsa Province, northwestern Bulgaria. In 1919, she joined the Communist Party. She graduated from the high pedagogical school in Sofia and became a teacher. She took part in the communist September Uprising of 1923 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison and was deprived of her teaching rights. She was amnestied in 1924 and quickly became a member of the regional directorates of her party's armed wing in Rousse, Varna and Plovdiv. In the wake of the St Nedelya Church assault in 1925, Dragoycheva was again imprisoned and sentenced to death; the execution was postponed due to her pregnancy and her capital punishment was replaced with a life sentence in 1926. In 1932, she was again amnestied; her son, surgeon Chavdar Dragoychev, was born in prison.

Tsola Dragoycheva as a young woman

In 1932, she emigrated to Moscow; there she graduated from the International Lenin School and worked at the Comintern's International Communist Women's Secretariat for a year. Dragoycheva returned to Bulgaria in 1936 and was elected a member of the Bulgarian Communist Party's Central Committee, which she remained until 2 February 1990. From 1941 on, she was a member of the BCP's Politburo.

Dragoycheva took an active part in the BCP and the Fatherland Front's armed resistance to Bulgaria's alignment with the Axis Powers of World War II. She was arrested in August 1941 and interned at the Sveti Nikola women's wing of the Gonda Voda concentration camp near Asenovgrad; she remained there until December.[3]

After the coup d'état of 1944 and her party's rise to power, Dragoycheva took a number of posts, including General Secretary of the Fatherland Front (1944–1948), chairwoman of the Bulgarian People's Women's Union (1945–1950), Minister of Posts, Telegraphs and Telephones (1947–1957), chairwoman of the National Committee for the Protection of Peace (1949–1952), chairwoman of the All-People's Committee for Bulgarian-Soviet Friendship (1957–1977) and its honorary chairwoman from 1977 on.[4] In 1945, she attended the founding meeting of the Women's International Democratic Federation in Paris.

Dragoycheva was a supporter of the killing of Nikola Petkov, Traycho Kostov and other "enemies of the people". She advocated Bulgaria's admission to the Soviet Union as its 16th republic[citation needed] and acted as a censor of culture and arts.[5] A close friend of Joseph Kobzon and Andrei Tupolev, she was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1971.

Her memoirs give a detailed overview of the Bulgarians in Vardar Macedonia's state in and after World War II and express the BCP's views on the Macedonian Question. However, they were heavily criticized by Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) leader Ivan Mihaylov.[6] Dragoycheva died in Sofia on 26 May 1993, living to the age of 94.

Honours and awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ John D. Bell, The Bulgarian Communist Party from Blagoev to Zhivkov, Palo Alto: Hoover Institution Press, 1985
  2. ^ Cyril E. Black, “The Start of the Cold War in Bulgaria: A Personal View,” The Review of Politics Vol. 41, No. 2 (Apr., 1979), pp. 163-202
  3. ^ Krassimira Daskalova, “A Woman Politician in the Cold War Balkans: From Biography to History” Aspasia: The International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women's and Gender History, Volume 10, 2016
  4. ^ Krassimira Daskalova, “A Woman Politician in the Cold War Balkans: From Biography to History” Aspasia: The International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women's and Gender History, Volume 10, 2016
  5. ^ Hristo Aliexiev, “A Woman Politician in the Cold War Balkans from Biography as History: The Case of the Bulgarian Communist,” 10 March 2014. University of Illinois Russian, East European, and Eurasia Institute
  6. ^ Vanco Apostolski, Tsola Dragoicheva and her Memoirs Based on Greater Bulgarian Nationalist Positions. Belgrade: Jugoslovenska Stvarnost, 1979

Further reading[edit]

  • John D. Bell, The Bulgarian Communist Party from Blagoev to Zhivkov, Palo Alto: Hoover Institution Press, 1985
  • Cyril E. Black, “The Start of the Cold War in Bulgaria: A Personal View,” The Review of Politics Vol. 41, No. 2 (Apr., 1979), pp. 163-202
  • Bulgarian secret police file on Tsola Dragoycheva (in Bulgarian) http://policefiles.archives.bg/dosieta/2013-01-24-21-07-34
  • Hristo Aliexiev, “A Woman Politician in the Cold War Balkans from Biography as History: The Case of the Bulgarian Communist,” 10 March 2014. University of Illinois Russian, East European, and Eurasia Institute
  • Krassimira Daskalova, “A Woman Politician in the Cold War Balkans: From Biography to History” Aspasia: The International Yearbook of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern European Women's and Gender History, Volume 10, 2016
  • Elena Savova, Tsola Dragoicheva: Biobibliografia. Sofia: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1974 (In Bulgarian)
  • Бакалов, Георги; Милен Куманов (2003). "ДРАГОЙЧЕВА , Цола Нинчева (С о н я) (18.VIII. 1898–26.V.1993)". Електронно издание "История на България" (in Bulgarian). София: Труд, Сирма. ISBN 954528613X. 
  • Вестник “Народен спорт”, брой 293 - "Министър ЦОЛА ДРАГОЙЧЕВА БЕ ИЗБРАНА ЗА ПРЕДСЕДАТЕЛ НА “ЛЕВСКИ” (В новият УС влизат: председател: Цола Драгойчева, подпредседатели: Никола Табаков, Асен Разпопов, Христо Драгански…”)
  • Vanco Apostolski, Tsola Dragoicheva and her Memoirs Based on Greater Bulgarian Nationalist Positions. Belgrade: Jugoslovenska Stvarnost, 1979
  • Anna Zarkova, "Цола Драгойчева: Родих в затвора син на име Миро," Trud.bg, October 4, 2010