874.00/2–1045: Telegram

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

78. Now that some days have passed since those charged before the first and second divisions of the People’s Tribunals of Sofia were sentenced and 100 executed. (Please see my telegrams Nos. 66, 67 and 68.64) No room for doubt left that the effect has been to spread consternation and fear throughout the classes that have dominated Bulgarian political and economic life in the past. There is a feeling that the non-Communist elements of the government showed great weakness in bowing without protest to the severity of the sentences and that they have become more completely than ever prisoners of their Communist colleagues.

Responsibility for the excesses is collective.

While perhaps it would be unfair to say that the government is deliberately seeking to shift some responsibility on to the Allies and the Allied Control Commission, nevertheless, comment to the effect that the People’s Tribunals are carrying out the intention of article VII [VI] of the Armistice Convention and that the representatives [Page 157] of Great Britain, Russia and the United States did not protest against the sentences was a widespread act to justify the suspicion of some official[s?].

Whether inspired or not the comment is sufficiently widespread to impose itself upon our notice. We must also take into account the probability that the effects of the decision shall carry far into the country’s political future. Under the circumstances, I believe that the Department may wish to consider the issuance of a statement making the point that so far as we are concerned the ACC and the People’s Tribunals are in no way connected.

The provincial People’s Tribunals continue their way with severity (please see my No. 73 February 6 and 76 February 765). Yesterday’s press announced the imposition of 35 death sentences (13 in absentia) by the Tribunal of Botevgrad; 32 were sentenced to imprisonment for periods from one year to life.

Repeated to Moscow as 27 and AmPolAd as 31.

  1. No. 68 not printed.
  2. Neither printed.