Bulgaria Table of Contents
The fifth party congress, held in December 1948, rightfully celebrated the complete political dominance of socialism in Bulgaria. When Dimitrov died in 1949, his successor, Stalin protégé Vulko Chervenkov, began four years of intense party purges (disqualifying nearly 100,000 of 460,000 Bulgarian communists). Chervenkov's cultivation of a cult of personality earned him the nickname "Little Stalin." The breakaway of Tito's Yugoslavia from the Cominform (Communist Information Bureau--see Glossary) in 1948 caused Stalin and Chervenkov to put additional pressure on the BCP to conform with the Soviet line. Stalin's death in 1953 introduced new Soviet leaders who disapproved Chervenkov's methodology, but the Bulgarian leader remained prime minister and dominated politics until 1956. Chervenkov announced a "new course" in 1953, police terror abated, and some political prisoners were released. Meanwhile, Bulgarian government under the communists followed a postwar East European pattern by creating large numbers of bureaucratic posts, filled by party-approved functionaries, the nomenklatura. A swollen bureaucracy had been traditional in Bulgaria since the modern state was founded in 1878; but previously appointments had depended on membership in the civil service elite, not on membership in a particular party.
Data as of June 1992