In 1947, 50,000 volunteers helped create Dimitrovgrad, a new city that symbolised the brave new world of communist Bulgaria. Many still live there
In her flat overlooking the main square of Dimitrovgrad, 90-year-old Maria Oteva casts her mind back more than seven decades to the foundation of the town in the early years of Bulgarias communist era.
Back then, 50,000 volunteers built this city because they believed in something, she says. Nowadays, you wouldnt find 50 people to come and clean up the dirty streets.
Oteva was one of those volunteers, aged 17 and eager to build a new socialist Bulgaria after the ravages of the second world war. She had joined the partisan resistance against the Nazi-allied government as a young teenager before joining the regular army in 1944 when Bulgaria, under Soviet occupation, switched sides. She operated a machine gun and then worked as a medic as the army fought its way into Hungary.