The resistance partisan movement in the years 1941-1944 was important to Communism. Partisans were communists and socialists who driven to hide in the woods from the persecution by the pro-fascist government. The movement started as a way of avoiding arrests, but soon it became organized resistance. Partisans blew up trains and warehouses with provisions for the war, fought the special gendarmerie sent to hunt them down. Partisans were divided in detachments by regions, as each member had a special code name that protected the person’s identity and his family. The number of partisans before 1944 was said to be around 2 300. In 1954 that number rose to 7 000, and a while after that the number reached 50 000, probably under government order.
From the perspective of the ruling government at the time and from a contemporary point of view, the partisans were organized terrorist groups that often plundered villages for food and extorted help from the locals. Admittedly, the Communist regime doesn’t portray them in this way; partisans and the yatatsi (food and help providers from the villages) were celebrated as national heroes. All their battles and members of the detachments were glorified in monuments, celebratory events, songs and literature. Even Todor Zhivkov was a partisan before 1944 under the code name Yanko.
Commemorating partisan battles is a popular theme monuments of the period. As the partisans were such a big part of the Communist propaganda and ideology, most of the monuments dedicated to them were taken down after 1989. The ones still standing are those too abstract to be connected to the partisans directly, small monuments in remote villages or too big ones or monuments on difficult enough terrains to be demolished.
Antonivanovtsi monument is one of the later ones. The monument is dedicated to the end of the big detachment that operated in the region and was called The Anton Ivanov Detachment. The detachment comprised more than 200 people and was very successful in subjecting the whole region to their command. The government sent a lot of troops to manage to disband the detachment. At the beginning of 1944, an uneven battle in a location known as the Suhoto dere (Dry gully) left only 30 partisan survivals.
The memorial complex itself consists of three parts: a long alley leading to the main part, with a sculpted wall on the side, an abstract concrete form with the date 1941-44 on it and a house-monument. All three elements are unique in form and composition. The artistic decision of the architects and artists makes the House Monument really interesting. The wall opposite the entrance is tilted at an acute angle and on it, carved in the marble is the whole text of a long vow the partisans had to take to join the detachment. Above the writings is a round window that makes this part of the composition light. There is also a bronze statue of a grieving mother and a place to lay wreaths.
Before the fall of Communism, the complex was a place where annual rituals and commemorative events took place. After that, mostly because of the remote location, it was forgotten. Now it’s very difficult to reach the monument because of the security of the dam wall.
The security guard on site told us that old folks from nearby cities still organize excursions to the monument – as they used to do before 1989. They bring flowers and meet with friends, just like in the good old days.
An interesting fact is that no one has brought forth any ideas or projects for the renovation or reuse of this monument, as is the situation with most of the rest of the monuments. It seems that being far from the eyes, it is also far from the minds of the people who have the power to do something about it.
*Multiple authors: Architects: Zhelyazko Stoykov, P. Kovacheva; Artists: I. Topalov, V. Todorov, M. Radeva, D. Kanazirski, An. Kmetova.
Text by Aneliya Ivanova
1975Monument for annual events
Form of government
1975 Totalitarianism under Soviet Influence
Spatial Planning Agency
Type of heritage and protection