740.00119 (Potsdam)/5–2446

No. 286
Briefing Book Paper
top secret

Bulgarian Background Information


Since the formation of the present Fatherland Front Government in Bulgaria and the institution of the armistice regime under an Allied (Soviet) Control Commission, the Bulgarian Workers’ Party (communist) has spared no effort to consolidate its control of the country. By means of political maneuvering and intimidation by the communist-controlled militia, moderate elements in the Agrarian, Social Democratic and Union–Zveno parties have been eliminated from the Fatherland Front, and the latter, still nominally including those parties, now faces the forthcoming elections, announced for August 26, with an entirely communist complexion.

The Allied Control Commission has entered the so-called “second” period (that following the cessation of hostilities) still without effective American and British participation, and the news blackout of the satellite countries is complete in Bulgaria, the United States Government having so far been unable to arrange for the entry of any American correspondents.

[Page 363]

Soviet forces in the country are now said to number 200,000 and the recently concluded Bulgarian–U. S. S. R. trade pact1 is contributing to the deterioration of a Bulgarian economy already strained by Soviet demands for provisions for her military establishment and for export to Russia.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria continues to orient itself toward Yugoslavia, federation with that country or some other similar close association being widely discussed. A Yugoslav-Bulgarian pact of friendship2 is proposed and a Yugoslav Minister has been appointed to Sofia.

Bulgarian Background Information


Bulgaria is a constitutional monarchy, the constitution of 1879, as subsequently revised, providing for a strongly centralized government. The present Bulgarian Government was formed under the Premiership of Kimon Georgiev on September 9, 1944, from a coalition group known as the Fatherland Front and includes four representatives of the Bulgarian Workers’ Party (communist), four of the Agrarian Party, four of the Union–Zveno, two of the Social Democratic Party and two independents, the communists being the most influential and the Agrarians having the largest popular following. A regency Council exercises the royal prerogatives on behalf of the young King Simeon II.

The Allied Control Commission

Pursuant to Article 18 of the armistice signed at Moscow on October 28, 1944,3 an Allied Control Commission has been set up in Sofia to supervise the execution of the armistice terms. The Chairman of the Commission is, according to the armistice, the Russian member, General Biryusov. The American member is Major General John A. Crane and the British member is Major General W. H. Oxley. During the period preceding the cessation of hostilities it was provided in the armistice agreement that the Commission should be under the general direction of the Soviet member. The American and British members have not been permitted to take any part in the work of the Commission. Only two meetings of the Commission have been held despite formal representations by the American and British representatives. Decisions in the name of the Commission have been taken by the Soviet Chairman without prior consultation or subsequent notification to his Allied colleagues. Now that hostilities in Europe have ceased, the American and British Governments have approached the Soviet [Page 364] Government with a view to obtaining actual participation by the American and British delegates during this second period as provided in Article 18 of the armistice agreement.4

It should be particularly noted that under the Commission regime, the United States Government has been unable to arrange for the entry of journalists into Bulgaria and has encountered prolonged delay in getting clearance for official American personnel.

American Civilian Representation in Bulgaria

Since Bulgaria still has the status of an enemy nation and has not been made a co-belligerent, no formal diplomatic relations are maintained between that country and the United States or Britain. The United States is informally represented in Bulgaria by Mr. Maynard Barnes, a Foreign Service Officer with the personal rank of Minister and the British Government is similarly represented by Mr. William Houstoun-Boswall.

Political Conditions

Since the establishment of the present government, the Bulgarian Workers’ Party (communist) has been actively engaged in an effort to achieve complete political domination of Bulgaria. Working within the framework of the Fatherland Front and with the ruthless assistance of the Communist-controlled militia, it has endeavored to purge the country of non-communist opponents, branding all unfriendly elements not subservient to its will as “Fascist”. It has succeeded in eliminating non-communist sympathizers from the direction of its ostensible opposition parties, the Agrarian and the Social Democrats. With a view to the forthcoming elections announced for August 26, the Communists have succeeded in reducing the Agrarian and Social Democratic representation in the Fatherland Front to the position of communist supporters. Dr. G. M. Dimitrov, Leader of the majority Agrarians[,] has been eliminated not only from his position as Secretary General of the Agrarian Party but also from the Party itself, following a campaign of vilification. The election decree recently approved by [Page 365] the Regents will preclude the submission of separate electoral lists by parties outside the Communist dominated Fatherland Front. Prior to the publication of this decree the United States and United Kingdom Governments had proposed to the Soviet Government that a tripartite commission be formed to observe the conduct of the elections.5 The Soviets replied that they did not expect elections to be held at once and that, in any case, they did not consider outside interference to be necessary, since the Bulgarian authorities were capable of conducting elections themselves as the Finns had done.

Relations with the Soviet Union

The Soviet authorities are in effective control of Bulgaria, not only through the Control Commission but also as a result of the presence in the country of a sizable Soviet army, recently increased to 200,000 men.

The Communist George Dimitrov who resides in Moscow is regarded as the supreme authority in the Fatherland Front.

The Soviet Government has concluded a trade agreement with the Bulgarians, of which an official text has not been furnished us. In effect, the agreement is disadvantageous to Bulgarian economy. In addition the Soviet authorities are taking large quantities of supplies from the country both for their local military forces and for shipment to Russia.

Relations with Greece and Yugoslavia

Bulgarian foreign relations are under the supervision of the Allied (Soviet) Control Commission. Yugoslavia has appointed a minister to Bulgaria and the American Government has made representations6 in Moscow against the appointment, which is contrary to the policy previously agreed to by the Soviet Government that members of the United Nations should not appoint diplomatic representatives to former satellite countries during this period. Other evidence of an effort by the Bulgarian Government, with Soviet support, to increase Bulgarian ties with Yugoslavia is noticeable in statements by Bulgarian officials and the Bulgarian press concerning the close attachment of the two countries and in the fact that Bulgarian deliveries to Yugoslavia under the armistice are understood to have been made in considerable quantities. References to Bulgarian-Yugoslav federation or similar close association appear continuously and a Yugoslav-Bulgarian pact of friendship and mutual assistance has been proposed. The latter has been the subject of discussions between the British, United States and Soviet representatives in Moscow. It is the American and British view that such a pact would be a disturbing [Page 366] influence in the Balkans arousing fear and suspicion among the neighbors of the two countries. The Soviet Government holds the opposite opinion.

As regards Greece, the Soviet Government has failed to reply to repeated requests to permit Greece to appoint a liaison officer to the Control Commission as the Yugoslavs have been allowed to do and the only reparations so far received by Greece from Bulgaria under the armistice are said to be 17 horses and 85 mules. A Greek request for consular representation in Bulgaria is likewise unanswered.

  1. Signed at Moscow, March 14–15, 1945. Not printed.
  2. For the text of this proposed agreement, as eventually signed on November 27, 1947, see Department of State, Documents and State Papers, vol. i, p. 241.
  3. Executive Agreement Series No. 437; 58 Stat. (2) 1498.
  4. The approach referred to was made by Harriman on June 14 on the basis of instructions from Grew contained in telegram No. 1281 of June 12 (file No. 740.00119 Control (Bulgaria)/5–1745). These instructions were substantially the same as those of May 28 relating to Hungary (see document No. 287, footnote 5), with two exceptions: (a) Since the terms of the Bulgarian armistice were worked out in London, the United States reservation with respect to article 18 had been made in letters of October 22, 1944, from the American Ambassador at London to the Soviet and British Representatives on the European Advisory Commission and in a letter of January 5, 1945, to the Soviet Ambassador at London. (b) The following language was substituted for the last two sentences of the antepenultimate paragraph of the instructions relating to Hungary: “Although Article 18 of the Armistice terms provides for the ‘participation’ of the United States representative in regulating and supervising the execution of the Armistice terms effective participation has in practice thus far been denied us.”
  5. The proposals referred to and the Soviet reply are not printed.
  6. Not printed.