Tower Museum of Petko Ogoyski
Petko Ogoyski - one of the few living artists who survived socialist prisons and labor camps, was an important figure in the Bulgarian cultural opposition against the communist regime. As a member of the Bulgarian Agrarian People’s Union-Nikola Petkov (BZNS-Nikola Petkov) and poet/writer, Ogoyski was imprisoned twice (1950-1953 and 1962-1963) by the socialist state for writing “hostile” poems, texts and aphorisms and for “conspiracy”.
The Tower-Museum was established as a private initiative of the family Petko and Yagoda Ogoyski. The exhibition is partly a national and local ethnographic one, including household appliances, costumes, and weapons from the 19th and 20th centuries. At the same time, this was a way to circumvent the censorship of the communist regime. Among the ethnographic materials, Petko Ogoyski kept and preserved evidence from the periods of his imprisonment in six prisons and two forced labour camps; as also notes, books and poems written by him during and after the discharge from prison. The materials of the Tower Museum have been collected by Petko Ogoyski since his first imprisonment in 1950.
The collection of Petko Ogoyski documents the repressions of the socialist state over dissidents and is a valuable source of the forms of asserting political principles and moral positions by intellectuals.
Bulgaria, 1554, Sofia, Chepintsi, ul. Nadezhda 3
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Name of collection
- Tower Museum with Loop-Holes
Provenance and cultural activities
Petko Ogoyski – one of the few living artists who survived socialist prisons and labor camps, was an important figure in the Bulgarian cultural opposition against the communist regime. As a member of the Bulgarian Agrarian People’s Union-Nikola Petkov (BZNS-Nikola Petkov) and poet/writer, Ogoyski was imprisoned twice (1950-1953 and 1962-1963) by the socialist state for writing “hostile” poems, texts and aphorisms and for “conspiracy”. "Literature and poetry was my primary aspiration. I became involved in politics because of Stalin’s regime of repressions. In this system only the heartless could be neutral," states Ogoyski.
After his first prison sentence, Ogoyski as a former political prisoner was allowed to work only in manual industrial jobs. Ogoyski began a history study at the Faculty of History and Philosophy at the Sofia State University, but his graduation was thwarted by his repeated condemnation of "enemy verses" and imprisonment in 1962. "We, the repressed, were morally clean, we were idealists. But intellectually we were 'beheaded' because of being victims of a ferocious and totally vigilant system. I wanted to study, but they gave me no right to finish my education. Not only we, the repressed, but also our children did not have the right to get a higher education, and our grandchildren in some cases too," explains Ogoyski.
After the discharge from prison in 1963, he became a member and chairman of the literary club at the house-museum “Yavorov” in Sofia, which was purged in 1970 after two of its members, Ogoyski’s friends, escaped to the West. In the 1970s and 1980s, Ogoyski was a painter and worked in a storehouse in which he became a “chief warehouse of paints and tools”. In his free time, he conducted local ethnographical research. Ogoyksi became a member of the Sofia regional literary society and of the Union of the Regional Ethnographers (kraevedi). Some of his texts critical of the regime were published in newspapers and magazines under the pseudonyms Mitso Gitsin, Petko Murgashki, Dragoslav Bratski, Yaroslav Persinski.
After the collapse of the communist regime in 1989, Ogoyski was among the founding members of the restored Bulgarian Agrarian National Union “Nikola Petkov”, which became part of the Union of Democratic Forces, the main anti-communist coalition consisting of several political organizations. In 1990 Ogoyski was elected member of the Seventh Grand National Assembly of Bulgaria (from 10 July 1990 to 2 October 1991), which adopted the new Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria. He also became a member of the Union of Bulgarian Writers and of the Bulgarian Historical Society. He was appointed as editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Zemedelsko zname" ["Agrarian Banner'], the daily newspaper of the re-established Bulgarian Agrarian National Union (BZNS) "Nikola Petkov" (1991-1993). Texts of Petko Ogoyski are included in the School Reader "Zabranenite pisateli" ["Banned Writers"], a joint publication of the Hannah Arendt Center, the Centre for European Studies and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Sofia in 2013. In 2015 Petko Ogoyski, together with Bulgarian politicians (mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova; Bulgarian Ombudsman Konstantin Penchev), journalists (Georgi Koritarov), historians (Ivaylo Znepolski, Antonina Zhelyazkova, Valeri Todorov), the writer Georgi Gospodinov, and other public figures was honoured by the magazine “Zaman Bulgaria” for his “contribution to public peace and ethnic understanding in Bulgaria.” - http://zaman.bg/bg/vzamanv-vratchi-edinstvenite-nagradi-za-prinos-kam-obshtestveniya-mir/
Petko Ogoyski is one of the few living artists who survived socialist prisons and labor camps. He underlines the role of any kind of anti-totalitarian action and opposition as important for the collapse of the regime. Nevertheless, he is critical of the definition "dissidents", especially of the persons who have made a career in the socialist period.
The Tower-Museum was established as a private initiative of the family Petko and Yagoda Ogoyski. The home of the Ogoyski family became the meeting place for oppositional intellectuals after the mid-1960s, i.e. in the period of reduced political repression. In order to circumvent the censorship, the character of the Tower Museum was officially defined as ethnographic with the main purpose of preserving and disseminating knowledge about Bulgarian history. In a metaphorical way, it can be said that criticism of the communist regime was hidden through (local) folktales, jokes, and aphorisms. During communist times, the materials showing the repressive nature of the communist regime in Bulgaria were hidden at the birthplace of Petko Ogoyski, in the village of Ogoya, located in West Bulgaria, in the district of the town Svoge. They were openly shown and made known to the public after the political turn in November 1989.
A biographical study is dedicated to Petko Ogoyski (Ivanova 2012); with a film about him in 2014, the documentary series of the Bulgarian National Television "Open Files" by the investigative journalist Hristo Hristov started.
An indisputable example of the suffering of intellectuals caused by the totalitarian regime; about the limitations to which they and their families have been subjected, as well as for their daily assertion of moral positions, for a creative spirit, Petko Ogoyski is actively involved in various initiatives to preserve the memory of the recent past.
Description of content
The existing collection of the Tower Museum contains mainly historical-ethnographical materials and includes household appliances, costumes, and weapons from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It represents the creator’s national sentiments. At the same time, this collection was a way to circumvent the censorship of the communist regime. Among the ethnographic materials, Petko Ogoyski kept and preserved materials on the repressive politics of communist Bulgaria of the 1950s and 1960s. This includes evidence from the periods of his imprisonment in six prisons and two forced labour camps: notes and poems written by him, which he was hiding during his imprisonment and managed to take out with him; artifacts, such as his wooden shoes which had a hole through which he received small pencils and Aspirin from his wife; his last piece of bread from the forced labour camp of Belene (etc.); the verdicts against him; his writings on opposition members who were persecuted, interned, arrested, and murdered by the regime. The Ogoyski family donated their exhibition in 1975 to the cultural community center [chitalishte] “Napredak” in the district of Chepintsi. In this way the exhibition became institutionalized, and Petko Ogoyski was appointed donator-curator. The tower was built in the period 1981-1987. The museum was registered at the Fund “1300 years Bulgaria”, but because of his past political activities and court sentences, Petko Ogoyski never received financial support from the socialist government. It is impossible to define the exact number of items, the register, made by Petko Ogoyski, includes 152 historical-ethnographical items, the community center “Napredak” informs for over 300 items; Penka Ivanova - author of a biographical book about Petko Ogoyski notes 490 items. The collection is constantly enriched.In 2012 Ogoyski donated a lot of his written personal material to the Bulgarian Archives State Agency (ASA), which lists 299 archival units in his personal fund. The collection in his home contains some original artifacts: some of them are from the forced labour camps and prisons where he was interned. It also includes official or samizdat publications by him and other authors who were critical of the regime. The written sources pertaining to his fate, such as the court decisions about his “hostile” poems, writings, and aphorisms and about his “conspiracy”, his correspondence and his personal documents are copies. The originals are preserved in the personal fund “Petko Ogoyski” at the Bulgarian State Archive (ASA) – TsDA F. 1457.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 10-99
- legal and/or financial documentation: 10-99
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 10-99
- other artworks (that cannot be classified by other filter categories such as paintings, sculptures, graphics, etc.): 100-499
- paintings: 10-99
- photos: 10-99
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 10-99
Date of founding
Place of founding
Bulgaria, 1554, Sofia, Chepintsi, ul. Nadezhda 3
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- “Without a Trace? The Camp Belene 1949-1959 and After…”, 2009. Exhibition, round table and publication
- Film: Otvoreni dosieta. Part 1: Petko Ogoyski [Opened dossiers. Part 1: Petko Ogoyski]
- Interview of Rada Stoykova with Petko Ogoyski, priest Paolo Corteze, journalist Hristo Hristov and writer Stefan Tsanev.
- A piece of bread (the daily ration in the forced labour camp in Belene, Bulgaria), 1953
- Map of the so called “Second Object of the forced labour camp in Belene on the island Persin”
- Ogoyski, Petko. Tricolour. Bread Crumbs: Poems and Aphorisms, 1981. Samizdat publication
- Ogoyski, Petko. Zapiski za balgarskite stradania 1944-1989.
- Self-made shoulder-belt - forced labour camp in Belene, Bulgaria
- Wooden shoe with a secret hiding-place from a forced labour camp in Bulgaria
- visits by appointments
- Ivanova, Penka. 2012. Vidyah go sas sartseto si. Kniga za vidniya pisatel i obshtestvenik Petko Ogoyski [“I Sow him with my Hearth. A Book on the Prominent Writer and Public Figure Petko Ogoyski”]. Sofia: Balgarski pisatel.
Author(s) of this page
- Kasabova, Anelia Dr.
Ogoyski, Petko. 1995. Zapiski po balgarskite stradania 1944-1989 [“Notes on the Bulgarian Sufferings 1944-1989”]. Vol. 2 (1st ed.). Sofia: SamIzdat.
Ogoyski, Petko. 1995. Zapiski po balgarskite stradania 1944-1989 [“Notes on the Bulgarian Sufferings 1944-1989”] Vol. 1 (1st ed.). Sofia: SamIzdat.
Ogoyski, Petko. 2000. Zapiski po balgarskite stradania 1944-1989 [“Notes on the Bulgarian Sufferings 1944-1989”] Vol. 3. Sofia: SamIzdat.
Ogoyski, Petko. 2015. Zapiski po balgarskite stradania 1944-1989 [“Notes on the Bulgarian Sufferings 1944-1989”] Vol.1 (4th ed.). Botevgrad: Yonko Vasilev-Logokolor 77.
Ivanova, Penka. 2012. Vidyah go sas sartseto si. Kniga za vidniya pisatel i obshtestvenik Petko Ogoyski [“I Sow him with my Hearth. A Book on the Prominent Writer and Public Figure Petko Ogoyski”]. Sofia: Balgarski pisatel.
Ogoyski, Petko G. Mihaylov, interview by Kasabova, Anelia Dr., August 06, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection