Paris Peace Conf. 874.00/13: Telegram

The Chargé in Bulgaria ( Wilson ) to the Ambassador in France ( Sharp )5

2. Had long talk with Mr. Theodoroff, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs. He received me most cordially [and] expressed great admiration for President Wilson and the United States, a feeling which he assured me was shared by practically all, then went on to say Bulgaria owed much to the United States in the past and that now in the darkest moment of its history she looked to the United States as the only country which could save her practically from annihilation. The Minister then undertook to justify and explain and excuse entrance of Bulgaria into the war on the side of Central Powers which he characterized as a crime on the part of his country. He claimed however that the Bulgarian people had always been against joining the Central Powers and that it was due to the ex-King, a small band of unscrupulous politicians in the pay of Germany, as well as intrigues on the part of Greece and Roumania. He stated that the army had been opposed to the war and that it had been necessary to adopt a very severe coercion with heavy punishments in order to keep proper authority in the army fighting unwillingly against the Allies. The Prime Minister stated that when the Radoslavoff Government fell and Malinoff Government of which he was Minister assumed power, it was decided to seize the first opportunity to break with Germany. This opportunity came when Germany refused to send troops at Bulgaria’s request. Bulgaria then immediately proposed an armistice although Germany then used every promise and threat to hold her. The Minister hoped that the Allies would take this action of Bulgaria into consideration for it is realized that Bulgaria must suffer for her part in the war but nevertheless [her] demand for an armistice had been the beginning of the end of the war, for the Bulgarian army was not by any means at the end of its power and could have prolonged the war for at least some months longer. He especially hoped that the United States would appreciate these facts. He said that Bulgaria would never have gone into the war if it had realized that it would have to come into conflict with England and the great powers; that all countries except Servia and Roumania had declared war on Bulgaria, not Bulgaria on them. The Minister referred to the very effective propaganda work being carried on in the Allied countries by Servia, Greece, Roumania and [Page 247] deplored fact that Bulgaria was not allowed to send agents to the Allies to explain her position and counteract some of the accusations made against her. He asked me to renew previous requests that Bulgaria be allowed to send representatives official or unofficial to Paris to present to the Allies the Bulgarian side of the case. He spoke of the action of the Allies in Dobrudja which he claims is in violation of the terms of the armistice signed with the Allies and which has caused considerable internal unrest in the country. It was as a protest [to this] alleged violation that Malinoff the former prime minister resigned and the position of his successor is made difficult and precarious. The Minister next spoke of Bulgarian aspirations in Macedonia stating that according to the principles of nationality recently declared by President Wilson, Bulgaria is bound to receive that part of Macedonia which was recognized as Bulgarian in the secret annex to the treaty between Bulgaria and Servia of 19126 before the [first] Balkan war. The Minister finally spoke of the food situation. He said that in country districts the situation was not so bad and population could probably get through winter but in Bucharest especially and other towns supply of wheat sufficient for 40 days. He said that America was the only country to which Bulgaria could look and ask for support and their appeal for 20,000 tons wheat would be sufficient to tide over the situation. Food riots and disorders were brooding [brewing?] and he could accept no responsibility for outcome which might bring Bulgaria to conditions resembling conditions now in Russia.

Next had conference with Minister of War Liaptchew. He was Bulgarian delegate who signed armistice with the Allies. He spoke with considerable bitterness on the subject of the alleged violations of the armistice as to Dobrudja. He complained of the high-handed acts of the Allies in [apparent omission] and in Bulgaria, saying that it was sometimes difficult to decide who was governing the country. He further stated that it looked to him as if, insofar as the Balkans were concerned each state would at the end of the war be armed to the teeth to protect itself against its neighbors. I replied that as far as the United States was concerned this was the exact situation which it desired and intended to do away with after the war.

This morning Prime Minister made me visit of an hour and went into Dobrudja question in great detail. This is evidently the question most on his and the public mind at the present moment and its effect upon internal situation of the country may be unfortunate as bringing about disorders which might upset present Ministry. At this moment, however, it seems as if a temporary solution satisfactory [Page 248] to Bulgaria has been reached. What Bulgaria feared was that the civil administration might be given into the hands of the Roumanians, but he is now assured that it will be in hands of Allied Military authorities to which Bulgaria has no objection. The Minister fears, however, that this agreement like former ones may not be kept too strictly. I think that Bulgaria is going to adopt the role of posing as a victim having been dragged into the war against the real wishes of the country and people and on that ground appealing to the magnanimity and generosity of the great powers, especially the United States, at the Peace Conference at the same time appealing to principle of nationalities as set forth by President Wilson to secure the return of the Dobrudja and certain territory in Macedonia. The above sent immediately Department of State.

  1. The last two paragraphs of this telegram have been supplied from the text transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in France in telegram No. 6345, Dec. 17, 1918. 6 p.m. (763.72119/3040)
  2. For text, in French, see British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cv, pp. 941, 942.