874.00/7–3045: Telegram

No. 827
The Representative in Bulgaria (Barnes) to the Acting Secretary of State1
secret
urgent

399. From the time it has been clear that Prime Minister Georgiev would string along with Communists in their determination to hold general elections on August 26 on basis of united lists I have been trying to satisfy myself as to Prime Minister’s motives other than fact that Zveno is not a real political party and by making common cause with Communists and their Agrarian and Socialists [sic] stooges [Page 729]Zveno stands to gain far larger representation (47 seats it now appears) in Parliament than it could otherwise hope to obtain.

The nature of Prime Minister’s remarks in stormy Cabinet session provoked by Petkov’s letter (my telegram 393, July 282) demanding tripartite Allied control of elections has served to confirm me in following estimation of Prime Minister’s view,

1. He detests the British. He believes support given by them at that time to King Boris was largely responsible for his ejection from power early in 1935 and his subsequent imprisonment by King. He ignores fact his head and that of Damian Velchev were saved by British intervention with King.

2. He sees world as largely divided between three great powers and their respective spheres of influence. It is his belief Balkans fall” squarely within Russian sphere. He considers himself too much of a realist to accent [accept?] the view that spheres of influence are outmoded and world today is confronted with extremely difficult problem of finding a way by which two such disparate systems as that of western democracies and Russian totalitarianism can live side by side. He cannot be persuaded that estimate of US with respect future possibilities will be determined largely, at least for time being, by whether or not Russia in its policy in eastern and South Eastern Europe will live up to its obligations under Yalta declaration on liberated Europe. Instead he considers the interest of US in what is happening in eastern and South Eastern Europe to be purely platonic and therefore an interest we would be prepared to forego for advantages of a concrete nature in areas which he considers to be American spheres of interest. The fact for example that US supports participation by Russia in matter of Tangier3 merely means to him that war has brought home to US the importance of Morocco to it, hence United States seeks Russian support in problem of Tangier against British and French policy. To him world wide cooperation in interests of world wide security is a formula designed only to dupe people who react against war and who are not sufficiently realistic to accept his estimate of forces that really shape destiny of world.

3. While a true conservative in his views of the sacredness of private property (otherwise he could never have held highest political office in country) he is a Simon pure totalitarian when it comes to party govt and state control of private initiative. He believes devoutly in one party system for countries such as Bulgaria and he hopes that his support of govt control in the economic field can save for Bulgaria the principle of private property from Communist doctrine.

4. Given the foregoing, it is not unnatural that he should be prepared to go along with Communists who want to take country full way along Soviet road and who will never be content merely with a permanent pro-Soviet orientation of Bulgarian foreign policy. The real struggle in this country between the Communists and democratic [Page 730]currents of opinion is the determination of the former to assure a pro-Soviet foreign policy by a Soviet internal structure whereas the democratic elements accepting as a matter of fact the necessity for a pro-Soviet orientation in foreign policy, do not recognize as a prerequisite to the assurance of such a policy the abandonment of democratic procedures in the internal life of the country.

5. All other things being equal the Prime Minister would probably favor an internal totalitarian structure somewhat different from the Soviet formula but he also believes that something in the nature of the permanent occupation of Bulgaria by Russian forces is foreordained by Russia’s interest in the Straits. Hence his willingness for something in the nature of an avowed marriage between Zveno and the Communists. At yesterday[’]s official opening of the FF (Fatherland Front) electoral campaign he emphasized the need for these two disciplined groups to work together, especially as the Agrarians and the Socialists are embroiled in internal strife. The foregoing estimate explains the Prime Minister’s violence against Petkov at the Cabinet Meeting three days ago. Petkov defended himself against the accusation of treason which was the Prime Minister’s characterization of his demand for tripartite Allied control of elections, by referring to the “hundreds of times” when the Prime Minister had informed the Cabinet that “General Biryusov desired so and so” and by a specific reference to the time when the Communists had had General Biryusov convoke the Cabinet to tell its members “as slaves” that their decision to reintegrate officers and men into the army no matter what their past had been if they were willing to fight against Germany, must be revoked.

The Prime Minister replied that Petkov’s sin had not been merely venial but had been a mortal sin because he had distributed copies of his letter to members of the ACC (Allied Control Commission) thus giving the British and Americans an opportunity to intervene between the Bulgarian people and their liberator and proven friend. The Prime Minister added that Petkov would have to answer for his crime before a court of justice. Petkov replied by saying that his resignation was available to the Prime Minister so that the process of his trial might be facilitated by not confronting the court with the problem of trying a Minister of State. The Cabinet session ended with a statement of the Prime Minister that he had taken note of Minister Petkov’s statement, but since then he has not asked Petkov for his resignation in writing. However at yesterday[’]s opening of the FF electoral campaign the four speakers, the Prime Minister[,] Costov the Secretary General of the Communist Party[,] and the Communist stooges Obbov and Neikov, concentrated on making effective the charge of treason against Petkov.

Yesterday I picnicked clandestinely in nearby mountains with Petkov and his immediate entourage. Bulgarian political leaders either of the FF or those in opposition to it are very chary of appearing publicly to have any intimate ties with the British or ourselves. I found Petkov still full of courage but very fearful that if no sign is [Page 731]forthcoming from the US and UK and particularly from the US, of favorable reaction to his resistance to FF-rigged elections, the independents such as Stoyanov and the Socialist Chesmedjiev, will waiver [waver] in their loyalty to his leadership in this matter. As he said, it is quite impossible to maintain heart in the face of all the pressure that can be brought to bear when all means of public expression are completely controlled by the Communists and Zveno and when at the same time no public encouragement is forthcoming from those countries that declared at Yalta that democratic procedures should be applied to liberated Europe. He told me that he and his associates had been able to file lists of candidates only in 16 of the 23 electoral districts. He said efforts of his followers to file in Varna district had resulted in arrest of over 300 persons. He anticipates that during five day period of delay during which the Govt may change opposition lists, beatings and charges of Fascism will bring about the invalidation of all opposition candidatures except a few which the Govt may desire to maintain in order to sustain argument of the existence of any opposition and therefore that free elections are being offered to the Bulgarian people for the first time in their history. The charge of Fascism against the supporters of Petkov was freely made yesterday by every participant in the opening ceremony of the electoral campaign.

I realize that this is a very long telegram on what may quite naturally appear to many in the Dept as a situation very remote from real and active American interests. I report at such length in the hope of still convincing the Dept of the desirability of some public statement or communication to the Bulgarian Govt of our views on the elections and such problems as recognition of Bulgarian Govt and the negotiation of peace with it. I judge that the Russian point of view at Potsdam has been that all is well in Bulgaria and that no need emits [exists?] for tripartite control of elections. Zveno and Communists confidently count on the Russians “getting away” with this point of view. If the Russians do, every American in this part of the world will blush for years to come when he meets an honest man. Communist Party Secretary General Kosnov [Rostov] yesterday inspired his audience by statement that “if Bulgarian people give FF their confidence and possibility of continuing in power for period of 10 to 15 years that is to say for 2 or 3 five year plan periods there will be factories everywhere, hydroelectric power stations[,] heavy industry[,] greatly developed agriculture and housing projects and city planning such as one has never dreamed of”. I should like to add my own belief that if by general elections on August 26, the Communist Party is permitted to consolidate its hold in this country, Kostov’s promise that “Bulgaria will [Page 732]acquire an entirely new visage” will be realized in terms of months so far as FF opponents and their families are concerned. It is my firm conviction if present totalitarian Govt can later claim to hold office by virtue of general elections the drastic measures on part of the militia and peoples court against the democratic opposition will be as the rehearsal of amateurs compared to the finished performance of a highly professional troupe. Repeated to Moscow as 206.

Barnes
  1. The gist of this message was included in telegram No. 175 of August 1 from Grew to Byrnes (file No. 800.00 Summaries/8–145).
  2. Not printed; for the letter referred to, see document No. 823.
  3. See vol. i, documents Nos. 661, 667, 675.