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JUBILEE BOOK ON THE HISTORY, PROBLEMS AND ACTIVITY OF BULGARIAN RED CROSS 1885-1935

Author: Stefan Vatev

Editor's Note: This book expresses personal views from its author Prof. Stefan Vatev. He served in the Secretarial Committee of Bulgarian Red Cross from 1909 to 1935. On behalf of the association itself there exist a large archive under various editorship — cf., "Bulletin de la Societe Bulgare de la Croix Rouge ~ Official Bulletin from BČK, 1916-1936", ditto.

 

History of social work in Bulgaria

First period 1900-1912

1. Economic, demographic and social characteristics of Bulgaria at the beginning of the 20th century

The analysis of the economic and social situation of Bulgaria at the beginning of the 20th century reveals a typical rural economy country of small and middle scale farming and prevailing peasant population. Basic economic entity was peasant household with family distribution of labour. Traditional family and kinship circles played most important role in the social support of children, elderly people and disabled people, mutual aid of fellow-villagers was the next important social net.

In this seemingly static picture a strong inside dynamics and big regional differences could be observed. At the beginning of the 20th century many rural regions were involved in economic and cultural modernization processes. Nevertheless of the prevailing peasant population Bulgaria underwent intensive economic and social transformation which introduced modern industry, transportation and communication and new urban social strata as well. For a period of 15 years the number of the industrial enterprises raised from 72 (1894) to 345 (1911) with an average workers number of workers at 50 per factory. The total number of workers increased — from 188 000 in 1900 to 332 000 in 1910; while, the total population of Bulgaria for the same period increased — from 3 744 283 to 4 337 513 people. The share of the working women reached 28,2 % with an average wage two times smaller than the one eared by men. For a long time wage labour was negotiated only between worker and employer and workers missed any social protection.

Until 1910 the peasant population grew at more accelerated rates then the urban one nevertheless of the urbanization process. After 1910 the relative share of the urban population began to increase — from 19,1 % in 1910 to 21,4 % in 1934. Small and middle size towns were prevailing with developed local industry and handicrafts, gardening, farming as additional activities. The few bigger towns as Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Ruse (and Burgas lately) had a population between 50 000 and 300 000 inhabitants. Water supply and sewerage were introduced but quite slowly especially in the villages: at the beginning of the 20th century only Sofia had a system of sewers; sewerage was in process of construction in several other big towns. The "Urbanization Law" of 1911 demanded compulsory construction of plumbing; building water supply in cooperative manner started in the villages, but the process continued in the next decades.

At the beginning of 20th century electricity was installed in Sofia, Varna and Ruse. Concerning birth and child mortality rates there was a small difference between towns and villages. The birth rate was 40-45 per 1000, and the mortality rate was about 160 per 1000. In 1895 the first midwife courses opened and by the end of 1910 there were 219 trained midwives. The educational level changed quickly: in 1912 there were 3482 schools for 3047 settlements which covered 80% of the children. In 1887 the share of literate people was 10,7 % but literacy grew at accelerated rates in the next decades. It was not earlier than the First World War when the number of literate men exceeded 50 %.

 

2. Beginning of the national insurance legislation and social legislation

Modem Bulgarian state which was founded in 1878 according to the decisions of Berlin Congress, undertook first steps in social legislation by the 1880s. From the very beginning the state introduced privileges for the participants of the national liberation movement and the "Law for Improving Conditions of Poor Revolutionaries" was initiated in 1880 to provide financial support and land settlement for them.

By the end of 1880s the first pension fund was established and pension insurance for teachers, priests, employees and military men was introduced. Worker’s insurance developed lately. During the Government of the National Liberal Party in 1905 industrial enterprises were obliged by law to establish worker insurance funds against accidents; life and pension insurances including disability pension were introduced in 1909. But the financial sources of the funds were miserable — mainly of collected penalties. The "Law of Woman and Child Labour in Industrial Enterprises" of 1905 introduced prohibitions and limitations to hiring children younger than 12 years and certain categories of women; shorter working time for underage adolescents and suckling mothers was also enacted.

Besides of the "Law of Women and Child Labour" of 1905, the "Law of Artisan Enterprises" obliged masters to provide clean working conditions and enough healthy food to apprentices. In 1907 Work Inspectorate was founded to supervise the implementation of the labour laws. After several years of debates in the National Assembly the "Law of Social Insurance" was voted. The law appropriated Bismarck tri-partite system and provided for obligatory insurance of all workers and employees.

At the end of the 19th century questions of public health were often discussed and a bill was drafted providing for subordinate role of private physician practice and recommending a net of district physicians to be developed, but the bill was not voted. In 1903 the more conservative "Law of Preserving Pubic Health" was voted which was effective up to 1929, when the "Law of Public Health" was appropriated. An important role in the social and health policy of the state played the obligatory introduction of school physicians, the so called teacher-physicians (1904). This way personal health files were introduced and child health started to be on consistent observation which improved the medical treatment of children. In the conditions of very low health culture dominated by traditional prejudice and magic practices, the teacher-physicians contributed a lot for the developing of health education.

 

3. Social activities of municipalities

At the beginning of 20th century there were 80 urban and 2067 village municipalities. The "Law of Urban and Village Municipalities" of 1886 obliged the municipalities to take care of poor people, but in reality a very limited part of municipality budgets was used for developing of public services, hospitals and charity. For construction of municipality buildings and schools, plumbing and sewerage the municipalities were to take loans and their financial dependence increased. Several municipalities made a considerable advance in social activities, for example Plovdiv municipality opened social houses for orphans and elderly people and provided medical treatment to poor people.

 

4. Social problems in the public debates at the end of 19th and the beginning of 20th century

At the beginning of 20th century after a series of divisions of political parties the political system stabilized and included 10 political parties. In the right political space there were the National, Progressive Liberal, Liberal, National Liberal and Young Liberal Parties; the political center was occupied by the Democratic Party, and in the left political space — the Radical Democratic Party, Bulgarian Agrarian Union and two Social Democratic Parties (after the division to unionists and reformists in 1903). Topics as poverty, social injustice and the need of social policy took an important place in the public debate. Those problems were introduced mainly by the left parties, but the legislation was initiated by the National Liberal Party which was on power from 1903 till 1908 and by the Democratic Party (1908-1911).

Most of Bulgarian intellectuals were coming from the insecure middle class of the small town and prevailing among them was the opinion that the disintegration of the patriarchal order and the penetration of modem urban culture would destroy the material and the spiritual culture of family. Very strong among the intellectuals and especially among the teachers was the ideological influence of the Socialism and of the Russian Populism. The Social Democratic Party was founded in 1891, later left social movements as “Love-for-poor” and journals such as “Poor's defender”, “Workers' friend” appeared. Their eloquent names reveal a very strong influence of the ideas about social equality and justice. According to the Marxist interpretation of the social situation in Bulgaria, the capitalism had destroyed the old social order without creating a new one. Big city was blamed for the new negative phenomena — crime, prostitution, homeless and uncontrolled children.

The political interpretation of poverty was influenced by the debates in other countries the Bulgarian parties had contacts with and by the many translations of Karl Marx, Karl Kautsky, Edward Bernstein, Werner Sombart and others. According to the program documents of the social democrats most important role in the social policy had to be played by the state and the municipalities. On the pages of the political and the cultural journals as “Democratic Review”, “New Times”, etc. many articles devoted to the social questions appeared; translations, comments and reviews were printed as well. In the journals the modern political discourse on social problems developed, illustrated by fiction characters of poor women, children, farm-hands, maids, consumptives and others. In the first years of 20th century professional associations in Medicine, Law, Economics, Pedagogic, History, and Social Science introduced a new expert discourse. By that time health and social situation of Bulgaria was not investigated and the first generation of experts contributed for the knowledge of life conditions, nutrition, and health statistics of Bulgarians. On the pages of the Proceedings of these professional associations the first researches on child mortality, homeless children, bad living conditions, child malnutrition, tuberculoses, child delinquency, prostitution, connection between first menstruation and nutrition pattern appeared.

At the beginning of 20th century a wave of publications presented Bulgarian social life into scientific dimensions. The authors, specialists with academic education, most of them graduated abroad, introduced the standards of the modern Medicine, Economics and Pedagogic. Such publications were: "Medical Observations on the Pupils of the Schools of the Capital" (1900), "What do the Bulgarian Pupils Eat and Dress with?" (1902), "Child Mortality in Bulgaria and the Ways of Fighting it" (1908), "The Lodgings of the Workers at Factories and other Industrial Enterprises" (1909) and many others. The publications drew public attention on the new groups of people who needed social protection; new scientific standards developed to describe their situation and new organizations were founded to support their activities. These unions were organized in a different manner from the traditional charity organizations.

In 1908 during the Government of the Democratic Party the preparation of the new "Charity Law" draft was initiated in order to introduce regulations into the increasing number of charity activities. But during the three years of their governments the Democrats did not succeed to elaborate and vote the law.

 

5. Women’s movement

First women’s unions were founded in small towns by the middle of the 19th century when Bulgaria was still part of the Ottoman empire. They were charity organizations mainly establishing kindergartens and supporting the education of poor girls. By the end of the 19the century the role of the female teachers in such organizations increased. The fight for providing equal access of women to university education united women organizations and the Bulgarian Women’s Union was founded at the beginning of the 20th century. The periodical of the union, "The Voice of Women", started; the priority task of the Women’s Movement was obtaining equal political rights and suffrage.

The union "Consciousness" (chaired by Ekaterina Karavelova — teacher, writer and journalist, the wife of the former Prime Minister Petko Karavelov) won the recognition as a leading women’s union. The women writers introduced new literature topics such as poverty, cruel destiny of small girls, housemaids, and homeless children. The story of Ekaterina Karavelova “St. George’s Day” (the day of hiring maids) related about eight years old girl which was severed from her native house to serve as a maid in the town. The newspaper "The Voice of Women" published translations of famous activists of the International Women’s Movement as Lily Brown’s "Spiritual Life of Woman" and Helene Lange’s "The History of the German Women’s Movement". The Women’s Movement took a stand to the debates about women and children labour, to the access of women to education and profession, to social insurance and other social problems.

 

6. Religion and charity

6.1. East Orthodox Church

During the 19th century asylums for elderly people and for disabled people existed to some of the biggest Christian Orthodox monasteries and town churches. Life and work conditions and social control in these institutions depended on the local traditions and varied a lot. In some of them the inmates enjoyed social respect, in others life conditions were close to the prison ones. In many of the cases the inmates depended on individual charity and religious compassion. But their presence in the towns was quite visible because they were the only institutions promoting the idea of social responsibility and care.

By the end of the 19th century the institutionalization of the local organizations started, many of them developed into modern homes for elderly people and for disabled ones. Christian Orthodox Parochial Unions took the responsibility for the organization and the maintenance of the small local institutions. The first Christian Union was founded in the small town of Chirpan in 1905, by the end of 1930s there were such unions all over the country. Social care for elderly people was the priority of these unions and the regulation in this field started.

Since 19th century an important role for the local social institutions played charity funds based on donations and testaments. In every little town at least 6-7 such funds established to support the maintenance of different local institutions, the managing boards of the funds usually included local priests and representatives of church trustees or local authorities. From the beginning of the 20th century the role of the local Christian Orthodox Fraternities increased and they took the initiative of establishing charity institutions. For a long time the leadership of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (which got independence from the Greek Patriarchate in 1870) did not regulate charity activities; it opened Exarchate Hospital in Istanbul and several orphanages. The central institution of the Orthodox Church — the Holy Synod — and the eparchies became more active in charity in the eve and during the wars (1912-1918) and especially in the 1920s and 1930s.

On the pages of the church periodical "Church Newspaper" and other religious editions social problems were also discussed but for a long time the Orthodox Church realized her mission only in the dissemination of moral religious ideas and the traditional compassion.

Some charity institutions were organized by the Catholic Church and the Protestant Missions in Bulgaria, mainly in Sofia and Plovdiv. The Greek women’s union in Plovdiv organized a kindergarten in the 70s of the 19th century.

6.2. Muslim and Jewish charity

At the beginning of 20th century the Muslim population in Bulgaria was a considerable part of the country population. After the migrations at the end of 19th century the Muslim population remained 15 % (1905). Fifteen offices of Mufti were in charge of the religious affairs of the Muslims, they controlled also the charity institutions.

By that time Jews were about 40 000 people, they had the earliest and the best run charity institutions in Bulgaria.

 

7. Bulgarian Association Red Cross (BARC)

In 1885 Bulgarian Red Cross was founded, its first representative was Kliment, bishop of Tarnovo. During the short Bulgarian-Serbian War nuns volunteered as nurses answering the appeal of the bishop. Later the Red Cross played very important role in organizing the first courses for professional nurses (1900) and for the preparation of nurses for free work in hospitals and medical services (1910). Queen Eleanora who came to Bulgaria in 1907 as wife of the King Ferdinand contributed also for opening of such courses and for the charity in the country.

 

8. Foreign charity initiatives and activities

In 1898, on the initiative of Ferdinand Urbich, first private school for deaf-and-dumb children opened in Sofia. From 1901 the state took considerable part of the maintenance of the school which allowed a free boarding-house for poor children to open to it, from 1906 the school became a state institution.

The Ministry of Education investigated the experience of Russia, Germany and Austria in training blind children and Institute for Blind People with workhouse and musical school opened in 1905. The wave of emigrants from Macedonia and Odrin Thrace following the Illinden uprising against the Ottoman domination in 1903 attracted also the attention of foreign charity missions.

Relief funds were sent from Europe and the United States. On the initiative of the Irish philanthropist Pierce O’Mahoney orphanage "Saint Patrick" for emigrant’s children and orphans was founded in Sofia. In 1905/1906 with the support of British donors cultural-charity union "Consolation" of the town of Bitola (Macedonia) opened a soup kitchen for poor children to the church “Saint Virgin Mary”; later an orphanage for 40 children was also established. After the wars orphanage “Bitola” was founded in Sofia by the Macedonian Women’s Union as a continuation of the Bitola’s orphanage. In the years 1900-1905 the first nursery/crèche “Evdokia” opened where abandoned children were taking care of. The crèche put an end to the practice of the Sofia Municipality foundling and abandoned children to be given to wet-nurse.

During the first decade of 20th century public discussions about social policy and responsibility intensified, research centers established and new scientific standards in social care developed. The basic agents of social care emerged clearly: Women’s Unions, Local Christian Unions, and Unions for Protection of Homeless Children, Soup Kitchen Unions and others.

Nevertheless of the fact that many small owners ruined because of industrialization, big groups of landless and unemployed people did not appear in Bulgaria to press for special work legislation and establishment of institutions for work. Still there was not any coordination between the various social initiatives and the state social policy was not mature. Municipality social activities were insignificant and European patterns of modern municipal social work were introduced mainly after the First World War. Professional assistance initiatives popular in Germany, Austria and Belgium did not find a proper response in Bulgaria.

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Second period 1912-1918

1. Bulgaria during the Balkan Wars and the World War I

Bulgarian society went through a hard period in the years between 1912 and 1918, suffering the consequences of three wars in a row. Despite the clashing interests and the complicated relations among the neighboring countries, the Balkan Union, including Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro directed against Turkey, was formed on Russia and Bulgaria’s initiative. After a short period of preparation, on 18 October 1912 broke the Balkan War, which gave rise to a series of military conflicts that continued till the fall of 1918.

In the course of the eight months of military operations in which the country was involved, 600 000 people were mobilized, 350 000 of whom participated in military actions on the very front line. At the end of the war, the number of war victims was 84 454 — killed on the battlefield, injured, or died of diseases and wounds. The war, however, led to favorable conditions for the dissolution of the tightened knot of contradictions among the Balkan Union countries. The rivalry among the allies, their strivings towards gaining domination and as many territories that formerly belonged to the Ottoman Empire gave way to breaching the preliminary agreements among themselves. A new coalition was formed — now intended only against Bulgaria.

In this critical situation, Romania came forth, laying her claims to territorial compensation at the expense of the expansion of its Balkan neighbors. A new complicated knot of territorial conflicts tightened up, which consequently led to the outbreak of the Second Balkan War in 1913. As a result of the aggravated interrelations, on 17 June 1913, the former allies entered a new war. The military operations ended on 16 July, 1913. Bulgaria suffered a bitter defeat. The after-war situation she found herself in, was defined as “First National Catastrophe”. And the situation was indeed catastrophic not only in terms of the military defeat, the territorial losses and the economical collapse, but also in terms of human losses. Countless were those who got killed, injured, or found themselves orphans, widows and refugees after the end of the war.

A year after the Balkan Wars, as a result of the fact that Triple Alliance and Central Powers suffered a marked set-back in their inter-affairs, broke World War I. The Bulgarian army entered the war in the fall of 1915 on the side of Central Powers and participated in military operations till the end of September 1918. When it was decided that Bulgaria would engage in the war, about 616 000 people (of 5 million inhabitants at that time) were called up for service. With a view to the further expansion of the military actions, 875 000 more Bulgarians were mobilized.

In this war Bulgaria lost more than 150 000 people killed on the battlefield, dead of diseases and wounds, or taken hostages. The wounded were more than 300 000 (160 000 of whom remained disabled for life).

The long-lasted war brought along severe aggravation of the economical situation in the country. Short-living governments sought a way out of this situation by introducing regulatory state measures in the economical sphere. In order to guarantee the living of the population, "Laws of Social Foresight" (1915, 1916) were adopted, and a special institution was founded — Department of Economic Care and Social Foresight (1917).

In the course of the wars, the left-wing parties in the country gained popularity, and at the end of the wars, for the first time representatives of the Bulgarian Social-Democratic party and the Bulgarian People’s Agrarian Union (BPAU) took part in governments.

 

2. Tendencies in the development of social care during the wars

The display of social sensitiveness in the first two decades of the 20th century led to a common tendency towards charity, which, although would hardly come out of the town areas, produced many new community structures: women’s, Red Cross and Christian associations; associations organizing free soup kitchens and providing for orphans and sick children, etc. During the wars, and especially during World War I, those civil initiatives grew even bigger. The war years (1912-1918) made people looks spontaneously for different forms of mutual help, as well as organized various charitable undertakings.

2.1. Bulgarian Association Red Cross (BARC)

In the war period, the Association had undeniable authority. It provided the army with nurses and Samaritans; engaged 175 foreign doctors at its own expenses, launched the first sanitary trains, and opened military hospitals.

Even before the outbreak of the Balkan War and the call for war effort, BARC run a voluntary sanitary service. During the war time, the qualified medical and sanitary personnel in Bulgaria consisted of 728 doctors, 275 pharmacists, 115 assistant-pharmacists, 216 dentists, 468 doctor’s assistants, 411 sanitary agents and 320 medical students-volunteers. The Association’s primal objective at that time was to train hospital attendants capable of giving first aid and taking care of sick people. In the period between 1912 and 1913, BARC trained about 1500 men and 1000 women, including 102 nurses. Fourteen hospitals were financed by the Association’s budget.

During World War I, the Association equipped 3 special sanitary trains, which provide the sick and injured soldiers with transportation and provisions. The Association focused its efforts also on supporting the growing number of refugees. The committees, especially those in the bigger towns which were most heavily populated by refugees, canalized their efforts in helping those people.

During the wars, the Association had a network of 119 branches situated on whole territory of the country. Their task was to raise funds together with the local charitable organizations for various groups of people in need.

2.2. International charitable missions

At Bulgarian Association Red Cross’s request sanitary missions from many European national Red Cross associations came to the country. Eleven (11) such missions functioned during the Balkan Wars (these were representatives of Red Cross in Austro-Hungary, Germany, Great Britain, and Russia): Four (4) — during
World War I (German, Austrian, Hungarian, and representatives of the Malta Order).

2.3. Bulgarian Orthodox Church

Bulgarian Orthodox Church joined Bulgarian Association Red Cross (BARC) in its attempts to help people in need. The Holy Synod encouraged its priests and parish trustees to support BARC’s work in helping war invalids, soldiers’ families and orphans, and to donate 5 % of their income for BARC’s financial needs.

2.4. Women’s associations

Till 1918 there had been about 142 charitable organizations in the country. The activity of the numerous women’s associations, however, came to the fore during the war years. Many were those women who took part in various initiatives organized by the Red Cross. Their work was of primal importance with the view to the future institutionalization of social care, for quite many of those women who volunteered as nurses and Samaritans during the wars would later become the most active members of public charity (mostly intended for children) after the war.

2.4.1. Samaritan Association and courses for Samaritans

On the eve of the Balkan War, on the initiative of Tsaritsa Eleonora, a course for Samaritans was organized in Sofia, and BARC was in charge of it. Samaritan organizations of “ladies-volunteers” appeared in the early 1885. The national “Samaritan” Association, however, was founded in 1910 under the patronage of Tsaritsa Eleonora as an association of women who wanted to be trained for voluntary nurses. Till 1915 about 440 women received training in the “Samaritan” Association course. The Association participated in the wars by organizing refreshment stalls and a medical service at the Sofia railroad station.

2.4.2. Women’s refreshment stalls during the wars

At the beginning of the Balkan War, a “ladies’ committee” was initiated in Sofia. The ladies set themselves the task to open a refreshment stall at the station, the purpose of which was to welcome the numerous passing-by sick and wounded soldiers and to provide them with beverages and food. Subsequently, the ladies’ committee and the like obtained financial support on the part of the State sanitary inspection.

2.5. Increase of juvenile criminality and organization of “Humanity Home” educational institution for young offenders

The increase of criminal offences committed by children who were forced to steal in order to provide for themselves and their families caused the formation of the Association for fight against juvenile criminality in Sofia. It started its existence in 1917 and had for its objective to “help the children, to arouse the society’s interest in this social handicap, and to open educational institutions”. The Association founded “Humanity Home” to shelter children with criminal inclinations. After the wars, the Association continued to enlarge its activity by opening local branches in the bigger Bulgarian towns.

2.6. Union of Charitable Associations

With the advance of the military operations, there were organized many committees for raising funds for financial support of impoverished soldiers’ families, injured and disabled people, abandoned children, unemployed, etc. In the public space the idea of uniting those committees into one Union which to assist BARC was being persistently commented upon. After one failed attempt in the fall of 1914, the Union eventually came into being in the summer of 1915, when, on the initiative of the Sofia mayor Radi Radev representatives of different charitable associations in Sofia established the new organization.

The Union’s purposes were grounded in the necessity of coordination with the Sofia Municipality on the one hand, and with the board of trustees of BARC’s branch in Sofia, on the other. The Union’s founders believed that in this way the public spontaneous manifestations of charity and empathy towards the misfortunate fate of soldiers, orphans and others war victims, would find for sure their proper addressee.

After the Union’s establishment in the capital city, the municipality administration became more aware of the flow of donated funds and their appropriate handling. In June 1917, a special Charitable Union at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Public Health was established. Thus, the State tried to unite and coordinate the work of associations and committees that had been brought into being during the war.

The Charitable Union was intended as a centralized organ which to coordinate the activity of its members, to collect and control the incomings and to partake in their distribution. The Union joined the Union of Charitable Associations, which had been established earlier at the Sofia Municipality.

2.7. Social legislation during the wars

In 1941, Prof. Iliya Yanulov published an article, which is still considered the most profound and significant study of social legislation in Bulgaria of the war period (1912-1918). According to his analysis, one could hardly say that the governments carried out some special temporary measures in the social spheres during the Balkan War (1912-1913). The reason, as he saw it, was that everybody was convinced that the military actions would not take long. At this time there still did not exist state mechanisms for supporting soldiers’ families. Only the private charity sector was a factor in this matter.

At the beginning of World War I, special economic and social legislation for the time of war was already taking shape. A special law was adopted in 1915, which obliged the municipalities’ administration to organized activities for supporting soldiers’ families. Till the end of the war, by virtue of this law more than 166 000 families were granted financial support. This initiative was made possible due to the incomings from the state budget and from the private charitable initiatives that had been collected in the “Soldiers’ Families” Fund.

As the health-sanitary conditions in the country during the war were getting worse (mostly due to the epidemics of typhus and influenza), the ruling elite’s priority was to concentrate on working out the type of legislation that would favor public heath. In 1914, six bills tackling labor and health issues were introduced in the Parliament.

2.7.1. Hygiene Councils

Hygiene councils were a special form of handling the sanitary problems in different populated areas. The idea behind their establishment was to prevent the epidemics from spreading among the population in the time of war when the medical workforce was highly inadequate — the bigger part of the 700 medical practitioners in the country in 1917 were at the front. A special "Law of National Hygiene Councils in the Time of War" (adopted in 1916 and remained in power till 1921) regulated their work. Around year 1917, 98 % of the populated areas organized their own hygiene councils. Usually it was the mayor, some teachers and priests who entered those councils.

2.7.2. Labor legislation

At the beginning of 20th century, law-builders, political parties and governments focused on expanding the circle of those groups of people who were socially secured. In this connection, at the beginning of 1908, the first "Law of Retirement" funds was adopted, and in 1915 — the second one (which upheld the main articles of the first law) was adopted. Now the employees could get individual insurance. The laws introduced age limit or an old-age pension (20 years of service and 50 years of age). In contrast to civil servants, hired workers in Bulgaria, however could not find support in the Constitution in cases of accident, old age or death. Until the amendments did not come into force in 1911, even the word “labor” was missing in the Constitution!

In 1918, the last war year, the Parliament discussed and later adopted the common "Law of Social Insurance". It implemented for the first time the principle of compulsoriness in the insurance practice. The Law, however, was limited within the risks of accident and illness; it did not provide for cases of permanent disability, old age, death and unemployment.

In the war period the governments made (not very successful) attempts to provide legal protection for salaries, reserving the right of job positions which were taken by mobilized workers and employees; to guarantee dwelling rental; to provide pensions for the war-victims, and to carry out other measures for securing the normal living conditions of soldiers’ families and of the population in general.

***

 

Third and forth period (1918-1934; 1934-1944)

1. Social and political frames of the period

The historical events related to the wars (1912-1918) traumatized the Bulgarian society. In political aspect, the period between the two World Wars was characterized by the government of the Bulgarian People’s Agrarian Union (1920-1923), its overthrowing and the establishment of a rightist government (1923-1925), the temporary liberalization period interrupted by an economical crisis (1926-1931), and the “authoritarian” regime of 1934. After 1934, the political opposition was no more a stern corrective factor of the ruling authority.

The central political debates that were of the greatest interest to the active part of society tackled the social problem and the national problem. In the 1920s and 1930s, the agricultural social problems were a priority in the social discussions, as well as in the strategies of the ruling circles in Bulgaria. One particular issue was brought in the limelight — the one dealing with the living conditions of the peasants, raising the level of their educational and cultural standing, and the professionalizing of agricultural labor. In the 1930s, the “third-sector” organizations penetrated also into the agricultural area.

The social turmoil which followed the wars led to the marginalization of massive groups of people. The acceptance of hundreds of thousands of landless refugees, as well as the economy’s modernization, which brought along social distress, put the acute problem of social protection on the agenda.

 

2. Social problems and “social care”

The “social care” term came into use in the early 1920s, but it was not until the 1930s that it became a central issue of discussions. This term embraced the ideas and the concrete projects about the establishment of social institutions (communal, society, and state) for permanent and stable support of those society’s members who, for some reason, were not able to provide for themselves. The social debate focused on the following main social groups which needed help and care: — orphans, abandoned children, handicapped people, old sick people with no relatives, and poor families. Due to the activities of the traditional charitable centers (religious institutions, charitable organizations and communes) this particular social sphere came into prominence.

The economical problems the war had brought along, the reparations provided by the peace treaty, the huge number of refugees fled from the taken-away territories, the fate of the disabled people, the widows and the orphans, as well as the consequences of the social crisis (juvenile criminality, the epidemic nature of the social diseases, malnutrition, the high percentage of infant mortality, etc.), all those were problems the state was not able to handle despite the general appeal for intervention. A big part of the following legislative initiatives and public activities were due to the actions taken by civic organizations, which brought certain issues into the public eye, made some political figures involved in their committees and boards of trustees and by doing so, contributed to the establishment of specialized institutions, normative documentation, financial concessions, and other, and also managed to set up a public social network.

As a result of those public feelings, the old unions and organizations spread out, and many new charitable, social, health and mutual benefit societies popped up. During the first decade after the wars, the specialized aid organizations for people in a situation of social distress — blind, deaf, widows, orphans, disabled soldiers, pensioners, juvenile offenders, refugees — continued to grow and expand their activity.

After World War I, most of the charitable organizations in Bulgaria joined together in order to form a Supreme charitable committee, whose function was to coordinate the efforts, distribute the funds and outline the new directions to their activities.

Like most of the defeated countries Bulgaria also took on the Italian-German road, a decision much opposed to by the leftist forces, which were much inspired by the Soviet model. The antagonism between the two ideologies would sometimes lead to terrorism and radical political disagreement, which reached their highest during World War II. In the 1930s, the political and public space were subjected to rightist forces alien to the idea of political pluralism.

During World War II the social-care institutions went through an organizational crisis due to poor financial circumstances and the fact that almost all the institutions moved house from the capital city to the province because of the air-raid danger. Besides, many more people appeared to need social help, such as the bombardment victims and those affected by the Law of Nation’s Protection, most of them penniless and Jewish exiles.

 

3. Bulgarian Women’s Union

The women’s unions which had joined the Women’s Union continued to expand their charitable and educational activities. In the early 1940s, Bulgarian Women’s Union (BWU) had 160 member associations all over the country. At that time those member associations provided for 37 day children’s houses, 7 orphanages, 37 soup kitchens for students and poor people, 3 maternity homes, 2 day nurseries, 9 health counseling stations, about 40 vocational schools for girls; and 25 of the associations supervised committees for support of poverty-stricken young mothers. The associations run 25 courses in maternity and housekeeping. Some of those women’s associations were in charge of five-six initiatives at the same time: day nurseries, children’s homes, vocational schools, etc. Others, on the other hand, would confine themselves within one certain initiative only, but they would still try to develop all its potentials.

The Union summoned conferences at regular basis. In the course of these conferences, the associations which worked in the social and educational sphere were given guideline according to the new social, educational and civil laws and also according to the then modern international standards.

3.1. Higher Social School for Women

The founders of the School in 1923 were Dimitrina Ivanova and Rayna Petkova, who had graduated from the School for Social Work of Alice Salomon in Berlin in 1931. Due to the courses organized by the Higher Social School at the Bulgarian Women’s Union social work turned into a professional occupation (intended mainly for women), and terms such as “social worker” came into use, and through social consulting service they were institutionalized within the civil practice sphere. Although highly inadequate at that time, the job positions in different communes and other institutions were taken by students of the Higher Social School for Women. The definition of the profession was viewed in a twofold way. It was viewed as practice that had a lot in common with other professional areas such as social medicine, pedagogic, and legal practice.

3.2. Committee for Young Girl’s Protection

The idea about the foundation of this committee dates back to the fall of 1931, when the Bulgarian Women’s Union sought the assistance of the Police Department asking for a special section to be established, which to see to it that the young girls who landed up in jail not become “a complete moral failure”. In most of the cases those girls were ex-maid servants who had become prostitutes. When trying to bring solid arguments in favor of one such institution, the Union pointed out that the measures in respect to those girls had to be preventive and not repressive. One way of carrying into effect those intentions was to open a special home where such girls would find accommodation and be provided with opportunities for medical treatment and finding a proper work.

The official opening of the Committee was in the beginning of 1932. Along with the Police Department and the Social Care Department at the Sofia Municipality, the counseling stations all over the country too started to gradually support the work of the Committee.

 

4. Helping the refugees and the “war victims”

Almost in every big town in the period between the wars, various charitable initiatives aiming at assisting the war victims got under way. A special role was appointed to the women’s charitable organizations. According to the statistics, 122 204 orphans, 45 394 widows and 12 688 disabled soldiers were given help. Free soup kitchens were opened; homeless people and refugees were provided with shelter. The central political power also took measures in order to solve the problems of those people who were in some way affected by the wars.

In the 1930s, the number of the charitable organizations for refugees grew bigger. After the wars, more than 200 000 refugees from Thrace and Macedonia came to the country. The catastrophic earthquake in the town of Chirpan from 1928 made thousands of people homeless. Bulgarian Red Cross was an organization which actively helped the earthquake victims by winning other national Red Cross associations for the noble cause. The problems the refugees were experiencing were both a reason and a major goal of the initial activity of the Committee at the American Near-East Foundation, which was known in its very beginning as Committee for Helping Refugees.

 

5. Union for Child Protection in Bulgaria

The long-lasted war changed the childhood concept. Poverty and need forced many families to rely on their own children’s labor. The war produced new groups of impoverished children — thousands of orphans, homeless, wounded or crippled children, children who had fled from their homes, children without parental control — in most case these were children of working mothers. The question of society’s duty towards the war victims was raised, and child care became a social problem of first priority. First, it was the pediatricians, the teachers and the active members of various charitable organizations who saw children as a collective image/subject that needed protection. Both the professionals who were dealing with children and the social charitable organizations directed their efforts to the establishment of such a network through which the contemporary views about child embraced by other countries to get recognition in Bulgaria. The establishment of the International Movement for Child Protection, the elaboration of the Geneva Declaration and the recognition of the international standards for treatment of children gave new impulses to the social efforts in Bulgaria.

The foundation of the Union for Child Protection was assisted by the Red Cross Society. In 1924, International Union for Child Protection made a request to Bulgarian Red Cross Society to send two representatives to the Forth International Congress of Children Protection in Vienna and Budapest. After the congress the Bulgarian delegates, Prof. Stefan Vatev and Dr. Ivan Kirov, called together the representatives of all the institutions related to children issues to discuss the “conditions of the official and private care for children and to found a permanent Union of Child Protection in Bulgaria on the basis of the recognition of the Geneva Declaration of the Children’s Rights and having the status of a branch of the International Union.” Prof Stefan Vatev was elected a first chairperson of the new founded union. To support the first initiatives of the Union Frederica Freund, an International Union representative, arrived in Bulgaria and stayed in the country for more than four years.

Through the direct assistance of the International Union new institutions were founded in Sofia, such as the “Save the children” hospice for wandering and homeless children and children forced to begging.

In 1926, a child health exhibition was organized and by the end of the year, new branches of the Union opened in nine towns (Lovech, Kyustendil, Varna, Shumen, Russe, Razgrad, Plovdiv, Pleven and Samokov). In many of the towns the branches profited from the potential of the already existing women associations.

Two events made a decisive contribution to the enlargement and the development of the Union for Child Protection as a coordinating center of care and charity for children in Bulgaria: the foundation of the institution of so-called female teachers advisers at the beginning of 1927 and the launch of the “Our Child” periodical in the year 1928. Organizing training courses for teachers advisers was a wide-spread practice carried out by the Bulgarian Child Protection Union that had the task to prepare female teachers for education and social work in the villages. The Union had chosen the village female teacher as its main ally. The tasks of the teachers advisers were the following: to investigate the socio-economic and health conditions of the families and children; to raise the health culture of mothers and children; to organize soup kitchens for pupils; to organize local societies for child protection by coordinating the efforts of educated peasants, teachers, priests, and municipal employees.

The Bulgarian Union for Child Protection developed a large organizational network with more than 3000 regional associations and its ideology, based on the Geneva Declaration of Children’s Rights, to a great extent became part of the new childhood norms. More than 100 000 people took part in the local organizations for child protection.

The Union for Child Protection was one of the organizations which succeeded in creating its operating structures not only in the cities, but also in hundreds of villages during the 1920s and the 1930s. Union’s representatives actively participated in the Balkan congresses for child protection in Athens in 1936 and in Belgrade in 1938.

The state social care tried to cover all target groups but was focused mainly on children, especially on the largest group consisting of peasant children. The state social care never became the core formation executing child care activities in Bulgaria. Professional experts started to play an increasingly important role in the charitable organizations for children care. They voiced the problems of different groups of children (homeless, abandoned) and addressed the social sensibility toward them. Many modern centralized charitable organization (first of all Red Cross and Bulgarian Women’s Union) but also International Foundations like Near-East Relief urged the state authorities to support child care. Child protection was often articulated in nationalistic rhetoric and became an important part of modem national identity.

 

6. Care for the elderly people

The initiatives aiming at assisting the lonesome elderly people were limited to local undertakings for a long time before this issue to become a central topic of the public debate during the 1930s. This debate was gradually chiseling the belief that it was society’s duty to itself to provide social care for those in need.

The Christian Orthodox fraternities started opening homes for elderly people (hospices). It was mainly after World War I when such charitable associations started to appear at the parish churches in many towns and villages. The establishment of those institutions was closely related to the social work of the Bulgarian Orthodox church, which had entered a highly active period after the wars. In the 1930s, hospices for elderly people opened all over the country. Some separate cases of impoverished old people could become the motive of one such hospice to open in a certain town or village. Another motive was that sometimes benefactors would donate or leave by testament certain amounts. Thus, the hospices for elderly people, established primarily by church institutions, would contribute to the formation of the social care network for sick old people.

One additional opportunity for the further development of this social care network was provided by the "Law of Social Support" from 1934. It regulated the activity of social charity and introduced the more systematic financing of the appearing homes for elderly people.

 

7. Social activity of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (BOC)

The charitable Christian Orthodox “fraternities” were the ones to carry out to an utmost degree the social activities of the church. The first parish Orthodox fraternity was founded in 1905. In 1922, the Holy Synod of BOC called upon all the parish churches to found parish fraternities, which to busy themselves with educational and active charitable activity. Many hopes were trusted into the female members of those fraternities and their partaking into the charitable activities. In order to persuade them to work more heartily for the church’s social cause, the “Christian Woman” magazine made its start in 1923. A year earlier, the “White Cross” Women’s Monastic Fraternity together with a school was founded; the fraternity had for its objective to work with women for the propagation of charity ideas among them. With its numerous charitable initiatives in the 1920s the church became the source of new impulses for social work and social care in the country.

Some religious and monastery boards of trustees provided for soup kitchen for pupils, homes for elderly people and orphanages. The Sofia bishopric, for example, in the person of Bishop Stefan, who most actively participated in all the large-scale charitable activities at that time, raised funds for orphanages, which around the year 1928 totaled up to 800 000 Bulgarian levas.

 

8. Social welfare and public health

8.1. Society initiatives

The low living standard at the very end of the 19th century and during the first decade of the 20th century, the intensive process of urbanization and the underdeveloped public care sector were the main reasons for the strikingly bad hygienic and medical situation in Bulgaria at that time. In the period between the wars, many institutions engaged themselves in the sphere of public health.

8.2. Bulgarian Association of Red Cross (BARC)

After the wars, the Red Cross Association enlarged its network in the sphere of public health and social aid. In this period, BARC grew into one big and well-organized institution. Since 1923 together with the Union for Child Protection in Bulgaria (UCPB) it had organized courses for teachers-advisors. Each year about 100 female teachers successfully finished the courses.

Red Cross made an enormous contribution to the development of the health and prevention infrastructure in the country. One of the central initiatives in this direction was the establishment and the further development of the network comprising of health-counseling stations (since 1924) — again due to the joint efforts of UCPB and BARC. In cases of urgency, which was the case with the earthquake in Southern Bulgaria in 1928, BARC set up nation-wide relief funds.

About year 1935, the association had 589 branches with 32 300 members. In 1921, BARC founded its own filial — Youth Red Cross. Soon it had its representatives in almost every school and village in the country.

8.3. Association for fight against tuberculosis

Among all the associations and organizations dealing with health care there was one particular association that is worth mentioning — "Association for Fight against Tuberculosis" (founded in 1907) and its branches in the country. As the disease was rated among the most dangerous diseases because of its wide ranging and lethal character, they had been trying to restrict its dissemination since the very beginning of the 20th century. Because of the consequences the disease had brought along, public attention was put on the alert. Through the financial support of BARC, UCPB, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Public Health, private sponsors and international relief finds, the Associations managed to create a huge network consisting of branches (more than 200 in the early 1940s), sanatoriums and children’s summer camps.

8.4. Abstinence from alcohol movement

The "Abstinence from Alcohol Movement" gained popularity in the period between the wars. Many central unions popped up (Bulgarian Abstention Federation, Bulgarian Abstention Union), as well as regional branches, pupils’ associations, and professional abstention organizations (Bulgarian Medical Abstention Union).

8.5. State policy of public health

The Bulgarian Agricultural People’s Union, which came into power in 1920 made an attempt to radically reform health work. In its health-care policy, the Union focused on preventive medicine, and dealt with such medico-social problems as prostitution, alcoholism, and melioration of towns and villages.

In 1924, the government of Alexander Tsankov initiated the obligatory insurance practice for all the workers and employees in cases of illness, accident, disability, maternity, and old age ("Social Security Law"). The “Social Security” Fund was created. With the means coming from this fund many health institutions, workmen’s dwellings etc. were built. "Public Health Law" of 1929 added to the expansion of the sanitary-preventive activity and regulated the fight against the socially-significant diseases. This law lessened state’s expenditure on health care by shifting the main financial burden to the communes.

The tendency towards decentralization of medical work continued till 1934; this tendency led to a certain lack of coordination and narrowing down the activity range of the health care organs. It was not until 1935 that, through the Decree-Law obliging the doctors to carry out their service and health practice in villages, some kind of coordination among health care services had been achieved. Since 1937-1938 there had been going on a large-scale building of health centers in the smaller towns and some village communes (within the framework of the “Modern Village” social program).

 

9. Law of Social Support from 1934 (centralization and organization of social care)

The bill-under-discussion from 1933 aroused lively debates in the Parliament, since the Parliament members were much concerned with the balance between the private charitable initiative and state control. Those of them who stood up for the individual and group initiative called attention to the danger of bureaucratization of public aid and its being paralyzed by public administration. Union of Child Protection in Bulgaria (UCPB), for example, declared their stand on the restriction of private initiative in charity.

The bill adopted in March 1934 never came into effect because of the power take-over on 19 May, 1934. At the end of 1934, a new "Law of Social Support" came into force; it favored the ideas of the new ruling elite for bigger centralization. Besides, the law introduced a united system for social support, which comprised all the charitable organizations and was coordinated by the state. Thus, after 1934, the interaction between State’s social policy and actions on the one hand, and private charity, on the other hand, was finally brought into proper parameters of correlation. In unison with the tendency towards a stronger centralization, all the initiatives dealing with social support were better synchronized. The charity and social support in the country were coordinated through an annual state plan for public aid, and it was the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Public Health that exercised supreme control.

Supreme Council of Social Support was established, members of which were representatives of state institutions — Ministry of Internal Affairs and Public Health, Ministry of Finances, the Church, the Mayor himself, as well as representatives of some public organizations dealing with charity, such as, UCPB, Association for Fight against Tuberculosis, Bulgarian Association Red Cross (BARC), and all those who were in need of being socially supported. As stated in the law, all the associations for helping children up to 18 years of age had to become members of UCPS, and those dealing with elderly people had to join the “Social support” Union. Beside coordinating the activity of charitable organizations and introducing new organizational standards and bureaucratic procedures, the Law also launched a new mechanism for state financing and public aid. A Social Support Fund was founded; it supplied its finances from the obligatory civil payments.

The new Law gave rise to many critical comments, the main reason being the excessive centralization and state control, which restricted private initiative. What is more, the Law provided with the opportunity for all the social support trends to expand their activities; it differentiated child care and old people care, and formulated the obligations the local authority had to assume in this sphere.

 

10. Sofia Municipality as public care organization

Till the mid 1920s, in the capital city with its 250 000 inhabitants, there was no special service for providing the poverty-stricken citizens with assistance. Some attempts for institutionalization of social care had been made during the wars and under the administration of the mayor Vladimir Vazov (1926-1932). The Social Care Office at the Sofia Community was founded. The Municipality administration sent experts to study the experience in the sphere of social work of the fellow communities in Vienna and Prague (and to study more specifically the established pattern of the so-called Masarikov homes in Prague).

Some female social consultants were involved in fit public aid initiatives of the Sofia Municipality (12 of those consultants were appointed to position around year 1939). The first social consultants were nurses, but later it was the graduates from the Higher Social School for Women who were being appointed social consultants. At the end of 1939 the public aid service helped about 15 000 households (of the total 60 000 on the whole Sofia territory).

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Some definitions and scientific terms

It is perhaps not surprising that the term social work, combining the rich ambiguity of "social" with the misleading and somewhat deterrent simplicity of "work", has undergone considerable change in usage since it first appeared in England towards the end of the last century. It was then used to describe a perspective applicable from a number of different occupations rather than to announce the arrival of a particular new occupation. This perspective derived from the serious reconsideration of the role of citizen, and it can be illustrated from the dedication of a book entitled "Spirit of Social Work" (Devine, 1911) — "social workers, that is to say, every man and woman, who, in any relation of life, professional, industrial, political, educational or domestic; whether on salary or as a volunteer; whether on his own individual account or as part of an organized movement, is working consciously, according to his right intelligently and according to his strength persistently, for the promotion of the common welfare".

This broadly brushed backcloth has been more or less evident in the present century as social workers have attempted to claim a role that is specialized and professional. It is perhaps one reason why an agreed and satisfactory definition of "social work" is not yet forthcoming. Other features of social work activity have also contributed to this lack of agreement about the nature of social work. The broad purposes of social work have become more ambiguous as social workers have increasingly become state employees rather than volunteers or paid workers in non-statutory agencies. Sometimes public appreciation of social work has been blunted by the large claims made on behalf of social workers (for instance, that social work can cure a considerable range of private sorrows and public ills or simply that social workers represent the conscience of society). Changes in the dominant theories said to underpin social work — economics or sociology or psychoanalytic theories — and confusion between espoused theories and those actually informing practice have created at least the impression of significant ruptures. Finally, social work, like teaching, is both an "attempting" and a "succeeding" term: on occasions practitioners will deny the term to activity that was not particularly successful or that infringed one of the contested maxims that figure largely in professional talk.

A rough description of the contemporary social worker is of a person (traditionally a woman but increasingly in some societies a man) who as a representative of some statutory or non-statutory agency delivers a wide range of services, from income maintenance and welfare commodities, to directive and non-directive counseling. These services are directed or offered to individuals or to groups of different kinds, based on kinship, local interest or common condition. For the efficient and effective delivery of such services, social workers claim to use skills of various kinds, a range of theoretical and practical knowledge, and a set of values specific to social work.

Definition or general description take us some way towards grasping social work, but a more productive approach is to examine certain key questions concerning the form and the purposes of social work that have arisen at different times in the present century. In relation to form, two questions predominate: 1) is social work to be treated as a profession (and if so, what kind of profession); 2) is social work to be practiced as an applied science, as an art, or as some kind of ministration? Flexner’s (1915) consideration of the professional nature of social work raised questions that may still fruitfully be pursued. He concluded that social work met some of the criteria for professional status, but that social workers were mediators rather than full professional agents, that they pursued no distinctive ends, and that they were required to possess certain personal qualities rather than expertise in scientifically-derived technical skills. More recently, it has been suggested that social work can most easily be viewed as a semi-profession or as a bureau-profession. The characterization of social work as part of a humanistic as contrasted with a scientific movement has been best studied through some works in the era of globalization.

Controversy within social work is somewhat rare, but important questioning concerning the purpose of social work can be appreciated through three major debates. First, between leaders of the influential Charity Organization Society and the Socialists at the turn of the century, concerned the emphasis to be given to the individual and to his social circumstances and to preventive as opposed to curative work. Second, between two American schools of social work, the Functionalists and the Diagnosticians in the middle of the century, who raised questions concerning the independence of social work as a helping process contrasted with a process of psychological treatment. Third, most immediate, controversy revolves around the possibility of a social work that is politically radical or, specifically, Marxist.

***

 


Addendum: This chapter is written for the purposes of review in the booklist. It does not aim to give any theoretical considerations, although the nature of our work partly presuppose activities exactly in this sphere of collaboration. Moreover, the professional orientation of the editor-in-chief of these pages has been partially concerned with issues of social care which outwardly presuppose interest in related literature and scientific trivia.

Hitherto our meta-analysis of Bulgarian literature has revealed few important books on the underlined topic. Intrinsically, those works largely contrast since those written in the period before World War II are termed capitalistic, monarchist and sometimes fascist ("social insurance" is leading constituent at this point practiced predominantly by big monopolistic companies; benevolent societies stand on the second row and the most important are the Bulgarian Red Cross and the Royal Institution). We guess the book written by Prof. Stefan Vatev is the most important source from that time, having wealth of first hand information and numerous photographic supplement. Additional material from this first period, mainly on the jurisdiction side, should be excerpted from some other titles at the  booklist — cf., "Iliya Yanulov. Social Policy in Bulgaria. Sofia, 1924"; "Dimitar Nikolov. Social Insurance in Foreign Countries and Bulgaria. Sofia, 1928"; and, "Sevdalin Penchev. Fundamentals of Social Insurance Law. Sofia, 1942".

The end of World War II was followed by sharp political reorientation of Bulgaria and the other countries from the Eastern Bloc. In the long run, this period has been termed socialistic and the prerogatives has been fully loaded on the "state social policy". Confusion here stemmed from the fact that the whole world actually consisted of two different societal systems, which were extrinsically closed but this hermetic situation gave sometimes leakage that served as misnomer. Theoretical boundaries in the West were expanded enormously, while the East containing roughly 2/3 of the world population played a gambit that could seldom lose. Whatever ramifications are left today is unimportant, but we wish to concentrate on the vast amount of literature that was left in Bulgarian language on social issues. In its overwhelming majority those writings are non-sense; debating on this heritage is worthless and even detrimental in the light of the accession of this country with the European Union.

Purely for protocol purposes we have preserved some titles from the socialist period that would have been salvaged otherwise from major public libraries in Bulgaria. Officially those materials have been named "miscellaneous", but we do include a large archive on "social legislation in health care" that could be of some use — cf., unclassified materials from MNZ (vols. I to VII), edited be leading ministry officials from years 1957, 1958, 1959, 1966, 1976, and 1981.

 

Pictures 1, 2 & 3: This is a complex book we are dealing at hand. The multi-layer exposition and the many personal reminiscences of Prof. S. Vatev make it a first hand source and a most valuable contribution to the booklist. Besides, the more than 100 or so photographs provide a picturesque guide through history of medicine and social care in Bulgaria. Rather unwillingly we set back this monograph, but we promise a return on S. Vatev and his manifold role to Bulgarian cultural heritage.

(i). Queen Joanna giving the diplomas at the promotion of Samaritans School. The Samaritans or "Lady-volunteers" Association existed from 1910 to 1947 when it was abolished by the communists. Behind the queen is Prof. S. Vatev attending the ceremony.

 

(ii). Royal sisters Evdokia and Nadejda in Samaritans uniform. The daughters of Ferdinand and Maria-Louise, sibling to Boris and Kiril, performed various duties in the reign of King Boris III. Evdokia died childless in the 1980s, while Nadejda (d. 1958) was married to Prince Albert Oigen of Württemberg and had five children.

 

(iii). This is the central building of Red Cross hospital in Sofia. It was located on a 25 000 m2 territorial premise in the center of the capital near the Russian monument. At the time of the donation (1885) these parts of the city were outskirts, but later on they grew into an architectural complex that was the second largest in terms of health and medical facilities after Alexander's Hospitals. Nowadays, here is located the Central Institute for Emergency Medicine.

 

 

Copyright © 2009 by the author.