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A tale of two uncles

Country: Bulgaria

This story took place in Bulgaria at the end of the Second World War. My mother had a brother who had been close to the authorities (from the ruling pro-Nazi regime) in his village in the late 1930s and during the war. On the other side of my family, my father had a communist brother who became a partisan, escaped to the mountains and fought against the Nazis in 1944.

When the Soviet army invaded Bulgaria in September 1944, my mother’s relatives tried to admonish my maternal uncle to run away with the retreating German forces to Yugoslavia. He, however, resisted leaving – he didn’t think he had done anything wrong, except for being seen hanging out and drinking with the police and the mayor of his village and riding in their hackney cabs. He must have thought he would have been reprimanded by the new authorities for mingling with the wrong company.

The partisans thought otherwise. With the help of the Soviet army, they took power on September 9, 1944 and started organising summary trials of the collaborators of the pro-Nazi regime. My maternal uncle was tried for treason and sentenced to death by a jury of (pro-communist) people from his village.  

My mother went to meet with my paternal uncle, the partisan, to ask for his intervention to overturn the death sentence. He seemed to have been put in charge of the area. My mother tried to reason with my paternal uncle that they all knew my maternal uncle had done nothing wrong. My partisan uncle refused to get involved. 

A couple of days later, my maternal uncle was executed by firing squad. My mother never forgave my paternal uncle for the remaining 60 years of her life.

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Themes in story:
  • the Second World War
  • brother
  • my family
  • hackney
  • the help
  • collaborators
  • sentenced
  • death sentence
  • refused
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