740.00119 Control (Bulgaria)/1–2545: Telegram

The United States Representative in Bulgaria (Barnes) to the Secretary of State

47. Re your telegram 13, January 18, 8 p.m.34 and my telegram No. 36, January 18, 4 p.m. Mr. Churchill’s statement in the House of Commons35 revealing the agreement whereby, for the time being, Bulgaria is to be dominated by the Russian military has helped to clarify Bulgarian opinion with respect to the operations of the Allied Control Commission.

People begin to realize that the Commission’s decisions are really Russian decisions and that the British and ourselves are to a great extent merely onlookers. This situation is not to their liking, except in the case of the Communists, but in my opinion it is far better that the local population should know the truth than that it be permitted to continue in the confusion of mind caused by the lack of any sign of influence or interest on our part other than our physical presence in the country. In consequence I believe that the Department should seek an opportunity to make a statement clarifying from our side also that Russia is in full charge here.

While, as in the case of Churchill’s statement, for us to emphasize the fact that for the time being Bulgaria is in Russian hands will not be palatable to most Bulgarians, we should, I believe, overlook [look?] to the future as well as thinking of the present. The most we can do for the present in my opinion is to urge all currents of democratic opinion in Bulgaria to make themselves known to the Russians and [Page 147] at the same time to urge upon the Russians the wisdom of tapping all sources of cooperation here in contrast to their present preference for the Communists only. If the Communists are foisted on the country thru the device of a polit-bureau or an imposed workers peasant party, the country will be well along the road to civil war.

I believe that these are matters about which we have not only an obligation to concern ourselves, but with respect to which we may possibly perform the useful services enlarging Russian vision, on the one hand, and safeguarding at the same time for future utilization such friendship as naturally exists for United States here in all democratic quarters. I know that many important Bulgarians share this opinion with me and that they are prepared to do their best to work matter out with the Russians if, at the same time, they can count on our interest in the future welfare of their country and on our continued participation in world affairs. To take no active part in seeking as broad a basis as may be possible for mutual understanding between Bulgarian opinion and Russian activity, now that the Russians are here with their army, can only strengthen local fears that again the United States will withdraw within its shell once Germany has been defeated, for a second time.

In connection with the foregoing I still believe that the suggestion made in the final paragraph of my telegram 30 of January 12, 4 p.m., merits serious consideration.

Repeated to Moscow as 18 and AmPolAd as 16.

  1. Not printed; it requested further reports on Bulgaria.
  2. Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 407, cols. 398–399.