Which group lost half of its members at the hands of the Nazis?

Hitler had his eyes set on the “Jewish Problem” but that was far from the only “problem” he tackled via mass murder. He was, truth be told, in the grips of the Superiority Problem — where you want to feel superior to everyone else and work hard to figure out what specifically makes everyone else inferior to you.

Germany had, for decades if not centuries, nurtured its hostility towards the Jewish population, so when Hitler came into power they became the first and most obvious target.

Disabled people were an immediate clash with the robotized ideal of the Aryan Übermensch…


Hitler’s Germans: inhuman demons - or someone more recognizable

The word “Nazi” has become interchangeable with “evil.” People tend to look back on this time in history with bewilderment (“How could something like this happen?”) and a sense of superiority towards the Germans (“They’re savages. Who could support such atrocities?”).

It’s easy to imagine what side of history you would have fallen on. The good side.

But what did the actual Germans feel and think as they watched Hitler rise to power? Were they all evil? Were they all brainwashed? Were they all so different from us?

Let’s ask Elisabeth

Elisabeth Gebensleben was a woman who was born and raised in the…


Depression only goes away when you look it in the eye

For several years, I suffered from debilitating depression. I’ve heard all the “Just go out more,” “Just smile,” “I’ve had it worse than you” platitudes from what were, then, my closest people.

Today, I don’t suffer from depression but I sometimes get depressed. I’ve learned to welcome these seasons, regardless of whether they last one day or one week.

“Depression is like a woman in black. If she turns up, don’t shoo her away. Invite her in, offer her a seat, treat her like a guest, and listen to what she has to say. ”

Carl Jung

What does it mean to be “depressed?”

From the outside…


Yet again, it all comes back to the Nazis

In 2016, two cars crossed paths on a central road of the Bulgarian town Radnevo. A group of four men emerged from one car, a group of three men emerged from the other. They locked into a physical fight. The group of four severely beat up the group of three. Lungs were punctured, skulls were fractured.

Once ambulances and authorities got involved, it became clear that the group of four were Roma and the group of three were white Bulgarians. The Roma were rushed to jail, the Bulgarians to the hospital.

But this was far from over. News of this…


There’s only one answer to that: “It’s none of your business.”

A woman I’m friendly with and who I see about once a month, said to me last year,“It’s time for you to have kids. Come on. I’ll hassle you about it every time I see you.”

She kept her word. Every time I saw her after that, she would urge me to have kids, tell me to stop procrastinating, and throw in a “Come on!” as if I was a distracted farm animal that just needed to be nudged in the right direction.

But she’s not the worst I’ve had. …


How to tell if cutting your ties is the right decision

A few months ago, my father was dying. Both he and my mother had COVID. They both ended up hospitalized. He didn’t make it.

During this time of crisis, I was the one getting updates from hospitals and calling relatives to keep everyone informed. One of the people I talked with daily was my one surviving grandparent — my mother’s mother.

During one of our calls in the “early days” — when they were both very sick but still at home — my grandmother did something very typical of her. She said, “Well, your father is weak, you know. The…


How far did ‘WandaVision’ explore her identity?

I’ve never been big on superhero movies but the new WandaVision series struck a chord. Something about the character of Wanda Maximoff felt very familiar.

At first, I thought, “It’s because she’s Eastern European, like me.”

Then I thought, “It’s because she’s struggling with grief and loss, like me.”

But no, there was more. Hexes. “Chaos” magic. Indomitable, reality-altering power — “wasted” on a woman who just wants a simple life with her husband and children.

Why did that feel so familiar?

Turns out, it was because I was raised right next to it. …


How the Bulgarian government sank the economy and got itself removed from power

Before the Bulgarian Communist Party came to power in 1944, the word “communist” stirred up images of revolution, resistance, and opposition. The party was founded in 1919 and, in ideological lockstep with the Bolsheviks in Russia, challenged the status-quo of the ruling bourgeois class.

In the 25 years before they seized power, the Communists organized multiple armed coup attempts and uprisings against the fascist government. When Bulgaria allied with Hitler in World War II (WWII), the Communists led the resistance.

The repercussions were severe. The uprising and coup attempts were squashed with increasing brutality. Many of the fighters were rounded…


Four women in a game of prejudice. Prejudice won.

“Why on Earth… Has he lost his mind?”

This was whispered with raised eyebrows and followed by a somber sip of coffee by yet another neighbor visiting my grandma Mimi in the afternoon lull.

Baba Mimi and her many friends

Grandma Mimi, or Baba Mimi in my native Bulgarian, was always in the center of things. Jovial, welcoming, a great listener, always ready to laugh at jokes, always ready to help people out, she was now a retiree in a Soviet-style building full with other retirees. …


How Slavs and racism go hand-in-hand

Slavs are proud people with a rich history spanning 13 centuries. In Slavic languages, slava means “glory.” Slovo means “word.”

And then there is the English word “slave.”

It goes back to the 9th century when Slavs were frequently targeted and enslaved by tribes from the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa. And so the Latin word sklava — meaning both “Slavonic” and “captive” — was born.

Sklave in German, esclave in French, esclavo in Spanish, slave in English.

The word is interchangeable with us.

Martina Petkova

I tell stories about history and the human psyche. Corporate world veteran. Recovering simultaneously from Communism and Capitalism.

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