This afternoon I was headed to a meeting in downtown Sofia when I saw a group of teenagers at the base of the Monument to the Soviet Army. They were standing amid a rubble of rocks and dead flowers. I wasn’t sure what they were up to, so I hung around for a moment to watch.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, many governments have torn down these tributes to the Red Army forces that pushed the Nazis back to Berlin and brought Eastern Europe under Soviet rule. But in Bulgaria they’re still here, transformed into skate parks and youth hangouts.
I snapped my shutter just as one boy heaved a rock, catching him in the same liberator’s pose as the long-forgotten soldier above him.
Later someone told me about those flowers.They had been arranged on a stone pedestal beneath the statue for last week’s anniversary of the communist takeover in 1944. Then someone came and destroyed the pedestal. And then these kids threw a few pieces down the steps. Stone by stone, it seems, the tribute will come down.