874.00/2–245: Telegram

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

67. My British colleague and I asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs62 last night to give us the benefit of his interpretation of the severity of the penalties imposed yesterday by the People’s Courts of Sofia (please see my 66, February 1). The public prosecutors had asked for death in the case of 22 [25] Regents and Ministers, 25 [67] Deputies and 5 Chancellors [8 Counselors].

The Minister left no doubt in our minds that he considers that the courts went far beyond what sane public opinion demanded, particularly in the case of the Muraviev Cabinet, the Deputies and to some extent in the case of the King’s Counsellors and the Bagryanov Cabinet. However, what’s done is done, he said. It is obvious that the non-Communist elements of the Government are not going to create any political crisis over the decisions.

Perhaps the most glaring bit of evidence revealing political objectives in the decisions, and that the accusations were not merely “war crimes” but all political activity against the “left” since the time of Stamboliisky63 came at the sentences of one year’s imprisonment for Burov and Mushanov (one is 70 years old and the other 75). The Communists are determined to eliminate all potential democratic opposition and yesterday’s decisions further paved the way for them.

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The limits to which the Communists have gone in mounting their macabre tableau are indicated, for example, by the fact that Burov’s son (now a soldier) was compelled to demonstrate at the moment of reading of the sentence shouting “death for all”, all soldiers, lesser public functionaries and state employees in Sofia area were required by orders of the Fatherland front, inspired by the Communists, to participate in this demonstration of “the people’s wrath”.

The excessive nature of yesterday’s decisions is bound to exert an influence in support of similar action by the many provincial courts that have been or are now being set up to try “Fascists”. The ultimate effect, I fear, will be further to strengthen in Bulgaria the German contention that anything is better than a “Red victory in Europe”. Democratic opinion here continues to ask “why have we been delivered over to the Russians by the Anglo-Saxon Powers”.

Executions will probably take place today, if they have not already been carried out.

Repeated as number 24 to Moscow and No. 22 to AmPolAd.

  1. Prof. Petko Stainov.
  2. Alexander Stambulisky, leader of the Peasant (Agrarian) Party and Prime Minister, 1919–1923; he was assassinated.