Lesson plan: “Revival Process” in Bulgaria – Part 2

September 2, 2018

The lesson plan continues as follows:


Activity 3 – Source 3: Testimonies


Set up: small groups

Required time: 20 mins

Allow students to work in groups (no more than four). Each group is given on a sheet of paper a short testimony by a victim/ witness of the events. All groups have 5 mins to investigate the sources, discuss 2-3 questions. Afterwards, one person from each group has to present the results of the discussion within the group. Then reconvene for a group discussion. Begin with each group summarizing what they read so that the whole class gets as full of a picture as possible.

Group discussion questions:

1. What does the testimony you read tell you about the events?

2. Whose perspective do they represent?

3. Can you desrcibe in three words or adjectives the three main highlights/ feelings/ facts that come forward in the testimony?


1. From Mohammed Uzunhush’s memories:

‘On 26th people gathered in front of the City Hall without anyone having organized them. They wanted to know why this madness was taking place. Instead of responding though, police and fire brigades began dispersing us. They were shooting. One man next to me got his legs injured. He later hanged himself. We have learned that [the city of] Momchilgrad also had protests and sacrifices. Some of my relatives were arrested. Authorities began taking our passports off us for replacement. After that I have a blank period in my mind – for a few hours, maybe a day. I do not remember what happened and how I found myself in a tent for tobacco drying. I lie down on the ground and weep, my sister is pushing me. She had looked for me for a long time. And I am crying with frustration that I can not change anything.‘

2. From Zeynep Zafer’s memories:

‘At the time, I was working at the high school. During first period, they announced to the kids that they would have […] to change their names. Although I didn’t have work that day, I deliberately went to the high school. The teachers didn’t know I was a Turk, only one of them did, the literature teacher I worked with. And I listened to them speak. In the morning I began walking in the street, trying to investigate what was happening. They had already entered [the city of] Shumen … I went early in the morning … Just when I was approaching the school, I noticed a boy running away and shouted, “Wait, what happened, did they tell you about the name?” He yelled, “Get out!” and ran away from school. Then, I found out from some very indignant teachers that he was some dentist’s son. After the teacher had told the kids that they would have to change their names, he had apparently left the classroom as a sign of protest. The other ones that they had told had just been let out for their lunch break, and I saw girls in the hallway, crying. And I told them in Turkish, “Why are you crying? Take the bus and go home, and then you can talk about it with your parents. You’ll decide there. It’s not like you’re changing your names here.” “That’s true,” they admitted. They didn’t know what to do, these are young kids, after all. They told me that they had been told to change their names.’

3. Shorthand from a meeting of the executive committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, 4 January 1985

Comrade D. Stoyanov – minister:

‘Comrades, let us wish each other a happy New Year. Allow me, on behalf of all my colleagues, to all the present comrades, and through you, to the ones who aren’t currently in attendance, to wish you a happy New Year, to wish for, most of all, health, energy and optimism, good mood and fewer worries. […] A few minutes ago, I jokingly said that there’s enough space in Belene [prison]. However, the leaders, initiators, encouragers, and those who break the law must know this. That is the first question I pose, so that every regional head, as well as the National Security deputies, once they return, can take it into consideration. […] Comrades, in light of the new circumstances that have arisen, we must put in place new agent-driven operations. The breakoff of 200 thousand people creates a new climate, not only in [the city of] Kardzhali, not only in those six districts; it creates a new climate in the entire country.’

4. Information regarding the activity of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in its attempts to restore order in some regions of the Varna, Razgrad, and Haskovo districts in the period between 20 and 30 May 1989:

“In total, aside from the more acute and large-scale demonstrations that have been mentioned, there have been 71 such incidents in 30 cities and villages, and have involved 52,700 participants. In clashes with aggressive mobs, attempts to mistreat and disarm members of the armed forces and the national police have left 6 dead and 30 wounded. In the attempts to restore order in important agricultural and other objects, apart from the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ forces, 9,033 members of the motorised police and Internal Forces were called on for a month in the period between May and September of 1989.

Class discussion questions:

1. What clues about the events did the sources give you?

2. Is there anything about the content of the sources that you can’t figure out? Do you have any questions about the witness testimonies?


Activity 4: Return to introductory photograph

Set up: small groups

Required time: 5 mins

(Copyright 2013, Bursa Büyükşehir Belediyesi)

Discussion questions:

1. How does your initial hypothesis of what is happening on the photo compare with the events? Is it similar or very different?

2. How does what you learnt from these testimonies compare to what you learnt from the photographs?

How would you evaluate the role of primary sources in learning the history of these events?