File No. 763.72119/1219

The Chargé in Switzerland ( Wilson) to the Secretary of State


2536. Department’s 1301, January 5.1 I requested Professor George D. Herron to get in touch with Theodore K. Shipkoff. Herron complied and has now furnished me comprehensive report of his conversations with Shipkoff, submitted in my despatch 2282, January 28.2

Shipkoff declares America must not declare war on Bulgaria because of sentimental reasons which make Bulgaria younger sister of America through influence Robert College.

Shipkoff sketched economic conditions concerning increasing grasp of Germany and that Bulgaria looks to America for deliverance this menace. He makes most severe arraignment of Germany and states that German soldiery treat land occupied by Bulgaria as conquered territory. They have stripped Bulgarian Dobrudja as clean as if they were a swarm of locusts; therefore, Bulgaria fears German influence. Bulgaria has gained enormously in recent trade with Turkey. She now sees herself and not Germany as potential economic and ultimate political master of the region between Constantinople and Bagdad. Shipkoff therefore proposes, and lets it be understood that he is speaking the mind of his King and Government, that the Allies through America’s persuasion shall make Bulgaria bulwark against German expansion towards Asia Minor.

He states that Hungary is potentially ready to join Bulgaria in making this wall against Germany. His country and Hungary are natural allies and could effect an alliance which would result both in democratization of Hungary and the walling-in of Germany.

For Bulgaria the war is now over. She has obtained all she went to war for with the exception of small Servian corner which she could occupy without dispute if Germans were out of the way. If she can come to a confidential understanding with the Allies through America’s mediation she will not again fire a gun during the war [Page 66] except in defense. She will not attack Salonica. She prefers Allies do not evacuate city as she does not want Germany to get a foothold there. France and England may withdraw their troops leaving only twenty or thirty thousand and Bulgaria will not attack it nor Greeks nor Servia. She cannot disband her army for then she would be invaded by Germany and attacked by Greeks and Servians. He stated, “Bulgaria cannot formally or technically make a separate peace but she will fulfill the substantial conditions of a separate peace if she can somehow obtain the assurance that America will not declare war against her.”

Shipkoff declares that if Bulgaria can enter into this unwritten though actual peace now the Balkans will be hers in fifteen years without future war. Bulgaria regards herself as only competent and virile power in Balkans. She has a mission to organize and civilize. Her present territorial claims granted, she would soon by her vigor and sagacity absorb the Servians and Greeks in a Bulgarian confederacy which would take in all the Balkans.

Shipkoff then explained that this greater Bulgaria, blockading the path of Germany into Asia and possessing itself unlimited fields of exploitation, would be due to America’s previous missionary activities and America’s present and future financial favor. Bulgaria would open the doors to a new and boundless investment of American capital. Greater Bulgaria would be virtually “a grateful and willing American protectorate.”

Shipkoff explained that although he comes in no official capacity technically speaking, he none the less comes as friend of his King and Government and is prepared to receive confidential communications or to carry on confidential negotiations, going back and forth to Sofia for the purpose. He adds that the more or less indefinite proposals of Bulgaria as outlined here are substantially authoritative.

Although it is not included in Herron’s written statement, he informed me orally that Shipkoff had pointed out that if Bulgaria adopted this attitude of actual although unacknowledged separate peace, Turkey could not hold out because German aid could not reach her.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

While Herron believes that great strategic advantage might accrue from negotiations, we would fatally compromise our reputation and purity of motives and that we could only enter such negotiations if we were under tremendous delusion as to Bulgaria’s motives and banners [sic].

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In spite of the nature of the proposals I do not feel that the United States is excluded from giving the matter serious consideration since proposals appear to be directed against our enemy and that of civilization, or from endeavoring to harmonize them with the interests of our allies.

Suggest possibility discussion with Great Britain feasibility of promising Bulgaria British aid in cooperating with Bulgaria to obtain Adrianople and adjacent territory, which Bulgarians have always claimed, as compensation for that part of Servia which she now occupies.

Have I Department’s authorization to give a copy of Herron’s report to British Minister in view of information contained in my telegram 2339 of January 2, 5 p.m.?1

  1. See footnote 2, ante, p. 3.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Ante, p. 3.