6-th Primary School "Count Ignatieff" in Sofia

The school was founded in 1899 on the crossing of steets "Graf (Count) Ignatieff" and "The 6-th of September" in Sofia. The building used to be a childbirth hospital, but was extended, rennovated and became a school. It has educated five generations of Sofians.

My mother studied from Grade 1 to Grade 4 (1945-1949). I studied there from Grade 1 to Grade 7 (1970-1977) and my daughter Niia - in Grade 3 (1997-1998). My mother doesn't remember anymore the names of her teachers, but I do: Ignatova, Uzunova, Nakova and Harizanova in the first 4 years (1970-1974); then Ilieva (Biology), Getova (Math), Gyrcheva (Bulgarian & Literature), Ivanov (Geography), Tatcheva (Russian), Kotova (History), Haitova (Phys-ed), Todorova (hand-working), and Deneva (music). Niia's teacher in grade 3 was Ms. Arnaudova.

Here are some views from the school taken by me and Niia in July 2002.

The pictures below show some famous former students - mainly actors, composers and musicians.

Even though the next picture seems ancient, I remember this event!! It was the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the school in March 1974. I am one of the many children on the left, under the birch tree. Even my grandparents were there because it turned out that they were relatives of the wife of the grandson of the count Ignatieff (the patron of the school), who was invited at the celebration (shown on the picture below). It was very cold and we could not display our uniforms with white blouses and red pioneer ties. I remember that my grandparents cheerfully commented about this later.

Here is the story of the grand-son of Count Ignatieff, Nikolay Alexeevich, as told by my grand-parents. He grew up in Paris (his father managed to get out of Russia after the Revolution in 1918), spoke fluently 7 or more languages and married a distant relative cousin of my grandfather, who was the daughter of a Bulgarian politician in exile. After Stalin announced an amnesty for the White Russian emmigrants in 1945 and the father of our relative came back to Bulgaria as a member of the People's front government (only for a couple of years, before the communists took over), the young family came to Bulgaria after the war with their baby daughter. Nikolay Alexeevich worked for several years as a correspondent for a French newspaper in Sofia. However, he unwisely mentioned in one of his correspondences that the Bulgarian sporting teams consisted entirely of professionals, not amateurs. For this he spent several (I think 10) years in a"labour camp", and even though he was finally allowed to go home to his family in Sofia because of poor health, he was not issued a passport and was treated like being "on bail". He could not leave the city and had to present himself at the police office once a week. This was just one of many such stories... Being invited at this school celebration in honour of his grandfather, the school patron, was probably the nicest thing that anyone did for him during the 35 or 40 years he lived in Bulgaria. It showed some courage on behalf of the school principal (Ms. Doxanlieva), and was a sign of the warming of the social climate in Bulgaria around 1975. Ten years earlier, no one would have dared to invite a "people's enemy"as an official guest of a school ceremony.


This is a portrait of the glorious grandfather, Count Ignatieff, patron of the school. He was a Russian diplomat who supported the Bulgarian national deliberation movement, initiated and carried out the negotiations before and after the Russian-Turkish war that deliberated Bulgaria from Turkish occupation. He also signed the San-Stephano peace treaty between Russia and Turkey in 1878, which created (a perhaps too large) Bulgaria on the map of Europe. The treaty was reversed several months later in Berlin, which lead to dividing Bulgaria in three regions, reversing back two of them to Turkey (even though one was only a "protectorat") and was the reason for a lot of bitterness and mistrust among the Bulgarians to the Western European countries.




Here are some views from the school

The desks are still the same: the "new" ones, which came in 1970, the year when I started grade 1, and the "old" ones, on which my mother sat in 1945 (but they were probably older). The older ones aged nicely; they didn't look any older than what they looked in 1977; the past 25 years seemed to not have left any mark. The "new" desks didn't age so well; they obviously have been repaired since the plywood seats and plastic-surfaces seemed to be new, but the metal frames were the same... Exactly as uncomfortable, as they have always been...

Below are two generations of students of the 6-th school. The schoolyard, which has seen so many passionate football games and the windows of the poor people who must be deaf by now from the screams...

The staircase, which funneled the stream of the bigger kids rushing down to the buffet in the breaks. The entrance with the portraits of writers and revolutionaries fighting against the turkish yoke...

Good-bye my school! Even though it is a long way from Saskatoon, Canada, I will bring my grand-daughter one day!

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