One of the most prominent public figures in the new history of Rousse after the Liberation, Engineer Kiril Startzev, played an important role in the development of the city in the years after the Bulgarian coup d’état of 1934 until the beginning of the Communist regime in 1944 during which time he was as mayor of Rousse.
Kiril Vasilev Startzev was born in the town of Belogradchik on January 2, 1895. At that time his father, Captain Vasil Startzev, served as a Bulgarian Army Officer in the town. In 1902 he was promoted to a Major and was summoned to serve in the Fifth Infantry Regiment of Dunav located in the city of Rousse.
Kiril Startzev graduated from the Tsar Boris High School for Boys of Rousse with flying colours and continued the family tradition going for a training in the Military School in 1916. At the end of the First World War, he was promoted to a Lieutenant and became a member of the Union of Army Reserve Officers in Rousse. In the autumn of 1918 he enrolled as a student in civil engineering at the Polytechnic University of Lausanne, Switzerland, from where he graduated in 1922 fluently speaking German and French. He returned to Rousse and began work as a constructor of railway lines and bridges, and later became regional water engineer at the Rousse District Permanent Commission. He was elected Vice-Chairman of the Union of Reserve and Non-Commissioned Officers in the city from 1931 to 1933 and was extremely active as a member of the army reserve. Because of his high professionalism at work, at the beginning of 1934 he was appointed Chief of Water Department at the Ministry of Agriculture and State Property.
On December 24, 1934 Kiril Startzev was appointed Mayor of Rousse and in from the first years of his mayoral term he managed to transform and modernize the whole city:
- The building for the Court of Justice was erected, the area around it was renovated, and the appearance of the City Garden was changed.
- The Covered Market Place with the area around it turned into a second city centre.
- Asphalt was added to the river boulevard, the sidewalks and the railings were added too, the so-called Bridge of Sighs was built and the chestnuts trees were planted.
- The construction of modern public baths began.
- The power plant was expanded and, in general, a lot was invested in building the city infrastructure – water supply, sewerage, and electricity systems. Temporary pavements and the water system reached as far as the furthest city districts.
- In 1935 the Bulgarian Danube Shipping (BRP) was established. The largest import of goods for 1936 in the country was made through the port of Rousse.
- The construction of the Angel Kanchev and Stefan Karadzha schools was completed and major repair works were held for the rest.
- A lot of funds were allocated to the development of the theatrical art in the city.
- The Municipality provided funds for a jubilee book collection for celebrating the 50th anniversary of the High School for Boys in the city and a decision to publish the history of Rousse was taken.
As a result of his initiative personality, leadership skills, and rich European culture, he was elected President of the Union of Bulgarian Cities, and the central government assigned two important missions to him:
- He was seconded as a “borrowed” mayor for the town of Dobrich to create a model of management of the new Bulgarian government in the region after the accession of the South Dobrudzha region.
- After a great flood in 1942 he was seconded as a “borrowed” mayor in Vidin to help restore the town.
After the establishment of the first Rotary club in Sofia in 1933, a Preliminary Rotary Club was established in Rousse. Together with famous at that time public figures and entrepreneurs, Eng. Kiril Startzev is among its founders. The club was established on August 2, 1936 and was chartered on December 4 of that year. In 1941, under the National Protection Act which was in force at the time and together with many international organizations in Bulgaria, the Club was closed. It was again chartered decades later – on May 31, 1994 and ever since it’s been active.
In 1940, during the mayoral term of Eng. Kiril Startzev, the South Dobrudja region was returned to Bulgaria under the Treaty of Craiova. As a result, Rousse became a regional center and its population at that time grew to over 51,000.
In 1927 Eng. Kiril Startzev got married. His son Veselin was born in 1928 and his daughter Tatiana was born in 1938.
Last Years and Death
As of the end of 1943 and in 1944 Eng. Kiril Startzev was on leave because of a serious illness. On September 14, 1944 after the Bulgarian coup d’état of 1944, the newly-established Communist government made him leave hit office as a mayor. After he recovered, he was appointed Head of the Rusenski Lom Water Union and was later taking care of the water supply in the Ludogorie region. In 1956, the Communist regime ordered his arrest and he was sent to the Belene concentration camp. In 1959, he joined an engineering organization but retired because of illness. On December 12, 1962 Kiril Startzev died in Rousse.
1. Bulgarian coup d’état of 1934
2. Bulgarian coup d’état of 1944
3. Kiril Startzev on Wikipedia (in Bulgarian only)
4. Treaty of Craiova
5. Open Your Eyes (in Bulgarian only)
6. The Greatest Bulgarian Mayors (in Bulgarian only)
7. History of the Union of Officers and Sergeants of the Army Reserve (in Bulgarian only)
8. Rotary Club in Rousse Celebrates 80 Years (in Bulgarian only)
9. The Decay of Rousse after the Bulgarian coup d’état of 1944 (in Bulgarian only)
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