The British Embassy to the Department of State


After the careful study of the document prepared by the Office of War Information and entitled “Long Range Plan for Bulgaria”,26 His Majesty’s Government feel that it should be helpful to present the following review of their policy towards Bulgaria, and a statement about the line of propaganda adopted in consequence of this policy.

In the months preceding the rupture of diplomatic relations in March, 1941 between this country and Bulgaria, repeated warnings were given to the Bulgarian Government regarding the consequences that would follow Bulgarian surrender to Germany and above all any attack by Bulgaria on her neighbours. His Majesty’s Government gave Bulgaria every inducement and all support in their power to maintain her independence. Nevertheless, Bulgaria finally succumbed to German pressure and when the German troops marched in, actively co-operated with them, an attitude in sharp contrast to the passive attitude of an unwilling victim, for example Denmark. Later when the Germans invaded Greece and Jugoslavia, Bulgarian troops followed in their wake playing the part of the jackal and making good territorial claims against these countries the satisfaction of which by forcefulness the Bulgarian Government had solemnly renounced as late as January, 1940.

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In his final interviews with the King of the Bulgarians27 and the Bulgarian President of the Council,28 His Majesty’s Minister, Sir George Rendel, made it clear that Bulgaria must accept responsibility for the consequences of her traitorous action. It is worth recalling that when Sir George expressed his deep regret that His Majesty’s Government’s policy of trying to preserve Bulgarian independence had failed, M. Filoff replied that the question of the maintenance of Bulgarian independence was one with which the Bulgarian Government had been and were competent to deal with without our help. To this His Majesty’s Minister answered that he would take careful note of this statement since it might prove of great importance at a future conference to know that the Bulgarian President of the Council at this crisis in Bulgarian history had taken full responsibility for the effect which the Bulgarian Government’s present policy might ultimately have on Bulgaria’s independence. Throughout the two interviews, moreover, neither the Bulgarian King nor his Minister could advance any better excuse for Bulgaria’s capitulation than that a German victory was inevitable.

His Majesty’s Government therefore regard Bulgaria’s inclusion in the Axis camp as the result of a deliberate decision taken with full knowledge and warning of the consequences. They refuse to recognise the annexation by Bulgaria of Greek and Jugoslav territory and they regard themselves in no way committed to the survival of a sovereign Bulgarian state. His Majesty’s Government’s tentative idea regarding the future of South East Europe is that these regions should be grouped in some form of confederation, the exact organisation of which, both as regards its federal mechanism and its internal and external frontiers, being a matter which must be settled at the peace conference by the interested belligerent powers, and particularly with the co-operation and agreement of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Such a confederation must naturally include Bulgaria, and in the cursory discussions which His Majesty’s Government have had with the Soviet Government on the question, the latter raised no objection in principle to the inclusion of Bulgaria in such an organisation. On the other hand, it is impossible at this stage to say whether Bulgaria would form part of this organisation as an independent state, and consequently, although there may be much in favour of the idea of the Bulgarian people forming an independent state, His Majesty’s Government feel it would be unwise to commit themselves to a pledge of this nature.

As regards His Majesty’s Government’s attitude towards the Saxe-Coburg dynasty, it will be recalled that the present war is the third [Page 497] occasion on which a member of this House has been party to a treacherous attack on one of its neighbours. The responsibility in the present instance cannot be transferred from the King to the Bulgarian Government, who are regarded by Bulgarian people as the creatures of their King, and are so in fact. If the future of South East Europe is on a federal basis, there will moreover be no place for a Bulgaria ruled over by a member of the present royal House because of the natural and justified feelings of rancour with which he would be regarded by the neighbouring states, and particularly the royal Houses of Jugoslavia and Greece. His Majesty’s Government therefore cannot have any dealings with King Boris, whose fate they regard as a matter of indifference, any more than they can have with the present government. The King is a man of no little ability and cunning, but morally weak and incapable of courageous decision, a true son of his father. Any attempt to give him support in the hopes of detaching Bulgaria from the Axis would probably fail and we should merely compromise ourselves in the eyes of our Balkan allies and the world besides laying up for ourselves incalculable difficulties in our plans for the future of South Eastern Europe.

The policy of His Majesty’s Government towards Bulgaria being of this character, it follows that our Bulgarian propaganda must be of a similar nature. The general lines were set out in the Aide-Mémoire given to the State Depatment, and dated April 6, 1943. We can only impress on the Bulgarian people that the misery into which they are gradually being drawn is the responsibility of the present regime, and that their only hope is to rid themselves of the people who have betrayed them either by revolution or by unconditional surrender to the armies of liberation when the time comes. We can make no promise and give no undertakings regarding the future of Bulgaria, and the Bulgarian people must trust that by honourable capitulation they will find the only way out of their present misery.

  1. No copy of this OWI document has been found in the OWI files in the National Archives.
  2. Boris III of the House of Saxe-Coburg.
  3. Bogdan Filoff.