The changes that took place in Bulgaria in 1956 were triggered off by an external factor, ie. the resolutions of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The problem of certain aspects of the 'personality cult' and some excesses in the political practice of Stalinism was discussed at a plenary session of the Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communists on 2-6 April. However, no ground-breaking conclusions were reached about Bulgaria's path of development after World War II, and especially the period 1949-1956. The plenum did not think it necessary to call for any major shake-up in the top echelons of the party or at any level of the state apparatus. The reactions to the April plenum indicated that the Bulgarian society was expecting concrete changes in the country's political, economic and cultural life. Yet it soon became clear that such hopes were unacceptable and steps were taken to eliminate all the critical voices on the grounds that they allegedly posed a threat to the very foundations of the system. The removal of chief editors of some political papers, the launching of a campaign against representatives of a 'rotten intelligentsia', a wave of purges and the reopening of the notorious labour camp at Belene in the wake of the Polish and Hungarian crises in the summer and autumn of 1956 showed that Bulgaria would not, at least in the short run, follow Poland or Hungary in adopting some reformist ideas.
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