Executive Secretariat Files

Briefing Book Paper


Bulgaria’s Restitution of Greek Property and Delivery to Greece of Supplies for Relief and Rehabilitation

The Germans, in withdrawing from Greece, deliberately destroyed the economy of the country. The Corinth Canal was blocked, railways and bridges blown up, port facilities wrecked, and enormous quantities of transport removed, including draft animals. Only five locomotives and forty cars are left in all Greece. The country has been stripped of livestock and agricultural machinery. Although much of the looted material has been taken to Germany, some probably remains in Bulgaria, and any delay in restoring it to Greece will make its identification more difficult. Two Greek delegations have already attempted to present claims to the Allied (Soviet) Control Commission in Bulgaria but have been turned back for lack of proper credentials. The U. S. and U. K. Governments agree that Greek needs could be met more effectively by the accreditation of a Greek liaison officer or military mission to ACC Bulgaria, than by actual membership on the Commission as originally requested by the Greek Government.

It is to the interest of this Government that, on the basis of the Bulgarian Armistice, measures should be taken for the prompt restitution of Greek property in Bulgarian hands and the immediate shipment to Greece on reparations account of the maximum obtainable quantities of foodstuffs, livestock, agricultural implements, and transport equipment. The Bulgarian Armistice, unlike the Finnish or the Rumanian, provides for no direct reparations to Russia, nor are any specific demands included, though both Greece and Yugoslavia are recognized as claimant countries for damages suffered by Bulgarian aggression. Yugoslavia, of course, has legitimate claims against Bulgaria, but Greece has been the main victim and should, therefore, have first priority on Bulgaria’s capacity to make restitution.

As Greek needs are most urgent, and as any postponement in demanding restitution and reparations would give Bulgaria an opportunity to conceal stolen property or to plead that her effort in the prosecution of the war should reduce the claims against her, it is advisable to press for immediate aid to Greece. Careful analyses indicate that without unduly upsetting her economy, Bulgaria could deliver to claimant countries within the next six months appreciable quantities of supplies, including 150 locomotives, 200 passenger cars, 3,000 freight cars, 1,000 motor trucks, 500 motor cars, 500,000 tons of [Page 250] coal, 888,000 tons of foodstuffs, as well as farm animals and agricultural equipment. The foodstuffs alone represent more than twice the total Anglo-American military relief allocations for a six-month period.

Although the U. S. Government is not participating in the military operations in Greece, it is committed to a comprehensive program of relief and rehabilitation involving heavy outlays of supplies and shipping. Any supplies similar to those scheduled from Anglo-American sources which can be made available to Greece from Bulgaria will proportionately reduce American financial responsibilities and release shipping space for other vital war needs.