740.00119 Control (Bulgaria)/2–446: Telegram

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

us urgent

117. See mytel No. 116 today’s date.44 Following message was signed by Gen. Crane before his departure for dispatch direct to JCS through military channels.

Since Mr. Byrnes’ last visit Moscow,45 I have sensed definite change in attitude both Russians and Bulgarians dealing with this Mission. Attitude of arrogance and hostility. I do not intend to speak of political conditions which under my instructions are Barnes’ sphere.
I must give a certain amount of background to this report. I have been here 14 months and I have not yet seen Marshal Tolbukhin, Chairman ACC, although I know he has been Sofia several occasions. This little incident itself gives very clear idea of Russian tactics and our difficulty in dealing with them. On any question that is taken up with them either in person or by letter to which they do not desire to answer they stall. Biryusov, Tolbukhin’s Deputy will be out of town. Cherapanov,46 his assistant, cannot decide question and must wait to communicate with Biryusov who in turn must get decision [Page 69] from Tolbukhin. To any further inquiry answer is always we have received no decision from Tolbukhin.
Ever since our arrival here we have been in most humiliating position. Any number arbitrary restrictions placed on us. How many people I could have in the Mission. Each one had to be approved individually before he could enter. This took weeks and months. Every plane before it arrives must have approval Russians. To obtain this approval we must list number and kind of plane, names of crew members and full description by weight and quantity of all articles that are brought in. It should be remembered that every ounce of supply and equipment, etc., has to be brought here by plane. There is constant friction at airport. Other day some signal equipment which was a consolidated shipment that had not arrived on previous planes was seized by Russians. For three days we wrestled with Russians to obtain these supplies without success and only got them by allowing Russian officer to open certain number of boxes in order to satisfy himself that they actually contained signal supplies and equipment in accordance with our statement. This is clear indication of their suspicions as to our veracity, implying thereby complete lack of confidence in us as their Allies and intimating that we are attempting to introduce contraband articles into Bulgaria.
Restrictions put on our movement in Bulgaria had been unreasonable and dictatorial and have made us and America laughing stock not only of Russians but of Bulgarians and of many other nationalities that are here. Remark is frequently made to effect that it was thought that we and not Bulgarians are Allies of Russians. For first time in my life I have had to hang my head with shame that my country should permit such treatment of her representatives.
I am really deeply depressed and concerned over possibility any cooperation and understanding between Americans and Russians. Whole difficulty is well illustrated in question our freedom of movement in Bulgaria. Mr. Truman and Mr. Stalin agreed in Potsdam that we should have right “to be allowed free movement in the country with the condition that ACC be previously informed of time and march route of trips”.47 This appears clear and definite but interpretation put on it by Russians is entirely different. We must give written notification as required, then we must wait until they tell us that we can go. This may take from 2 hours to 2 weeks. But also we have been notified that Russians here reserve to themselves right to deny us entry into any place where there are Russian troops and there are Russian troops almost everywhere. Of course if this is taken up again in Moscow answer will be “this question was settled at Potsdam”. Just at present during London conference they are acting quite reasonably in this matter but will revert as soon as conference finishes.
During time of actual hostilities I realized that everything must be sacrificed to keeping Russia in war and I bore indignities of which we are constantly subjected with thought that after war we could [Page 70] hold up our heads and defend our rights. It infuriates me to have to go with my hat in hand and beg Russians “Please Sir, may I bring a plane next week, may I bring Private Jones to my detachment. Please Sir, can I bring ten bags of coffee, two field telephones. Please Sir, may I go to London day after tomorrow.” And so on ad infinitum.
This is a small town and everybody knows everything that goes on. I am frequently asked by good kind of Bulgarians and by representatives of other countries what is the matter with America. Is she afraid of Russia.
Our pay scale and general living conditions are much higher than British and are unbelievable to Russians. Therefore, when I ask for money under protocol article 15 of armistice terms which has to be done through Russians, they refuse to give me amount I have asked for. I therefore, have to use American money on black market to raise necessary funds.
Biryusov on one occasion when demanding that I tell him what I wanted money for had impertinence to tell me that he had to know and limit amount so that US did not rob Bulgarian Govt. I am afraid my comment on this was neither diplomatic nor calm.
Every movement of any American here is checked on by militia. Bulgarian soldier chauffeurs we have are frequently arrested by militia and questioned as to where we have been, to whom we have talked and what was said. This, of course, is done under guise of questioning them about something they have done. In a couple of cases soldier chauffeurs who have been demobilized, are no longer working for us, have been arrested, beaten and tortured in various ways and questioned about our movements, conversations and acquaintances. Several of these men at considerable risk to themselves have communicated with us. Frequently Bulgarian girls who have been to dances or other parties with American soldiers are arrested and cross examined and ordered to report any information they can obtain about us.
We have a number of Bulgarian employees, some of them employed by us direct, some of them obtained through Bulgarian Ministry of War. Militia openly tells these people that their accounts will be settled when Americans leave. This is no idle threat. Example of Dr. Dimitrov’s secretary too recent to forget.48 Unless conditions are changed before we leave, changed to an extent beyond our wildest hope, US Govt is honor bound to protect these people and their families and arrange for their departure from Bulgaria if they so desire.
Recently Mr. Stainoffm49 made a written memo directing that Americans be given as little as can be done and to stall on everything we ask for. I cannot quote this to Mr. Stainoff as it would mean death for a young Bulgarian officer.
Orders are issued by ACC unknown to us yet we share responsibility for such orders. Is not our country of sufficient strength to [Page 71] demand and enforce its demand for reasonable treatment of such Mission as this? To my mind we should demand right to bring in and despatch such planes as we desire without reference to Russians.
These planes should be loaded with such matter as we desire and not subject to inspection by Russians. We should have free circulation for ourselves and such Americans as we decide have legitimate business in Bulgaria, this circulation not to be restricted by Russians except in such actual limited places as they may desire to notify us are being used for some secret work.
These peoples, both Russian and Bulgarian, have respect but for one thing and that is force. Every time we compromise with them and give them anything, we lose. I am afraid we are following policy of appeasement of late Mr. Chamberlain.50
If there is to be no more cooperation and respect to be shown America as represented in Bulgaria, our representation on ACC should be withdrawn. Signed Crane.

Sent Dept as 117; repeated Moscow as 62 and London as 54.

  1. Not printed; it reported that General Crane had left for Caserta for a medical examination which it was certain would result in his retirement for physical disability (740.00119 Control (Bulgaria)/2–446).
  2. Reference presumably is to Secretary Byrnes’ attendance at the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers, December 16–26, 1945.
  3. Lt. Gen. Aleksander Ivanovich Cherepanov.
  4. Quotation is a paraphrase of paragraph 3 of the annex to section XI of the Protocol of Proceedings of the Berlin Conference, August 1, 1945, Foreign Relations, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, vol. ii, p. 1495.
  5. On May 24, 1945, when Georgy M. Dimitrov, then leader of the Bulgarian National Agrarian Union, found asylum in the United States Mission in Sofia, his secretary, Mara Racheva, was arrested. She died of torture on May 28, 1945.
  6. Bulgarian Foreign Minister.
  7. Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister, May 1937–May 1940.