Strongman's Tomb Is a Chip Off the Old Bloc

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Memo to Boris Yeltsin: If you dodecide to move Lenin's body from Red Square, you may want to convert his mausoleum into a McDonald's rather than try to knock it down. As Russia debates what to do with the bones of its first communist leader, his Bulgarian counterpart on Saturday got the last laugh on the country’s post-communist authorities. Georgi Dimitrov’s body was cremated shortly after the collapse of communism in 1990, but following a fierce national debate, the present government decided to finish the job by destroying his mausoleum in downtown Sofia. So with the city center sealed off and tens of thousands of Bulgarians gathered to mark a symbolic occasion, government officials pressed the button detonating some 1,200 pounds of dynamite packed into the structure’s thick walls. But when the dust settled, the mausoleum had simply tilted a little — to the left — drawing ironic cheers from the crowd. Titters turned to guffaws as a second attempt, a few hours later, left Dimitrov’s tomb unmoved.

Displaying the sort of gritty determination that had won international fame for Dimitrov himself in 1933 — when he’d faced down Nazi prosecutors after being falsely accused of burning down the German parliament — the government’s demolition team scheduled a third attempt on Sunday evening, this time using 600 pounds of Ammonite, a more potent explosive. But, as if to prove that Bulgarians never tire of hearing a joke repeated, it failed, too. Now the authorities plan to do the job with bulldozers. Better keep those hard hats on, boys.