874.00/6–2247: Telegram

The Acting Representative in Bulgaria (Horner) to the Secretary of State


459. Reference Mission’s telegram 458, today’s date.1 Following is political summary for period April 1 to June 19:

Parallel with political developments in other Soviet dominated Balkan countries, relentless offensive designed obliterate last vestiges democratic opposition to Communist dictated Fatherland Front government [Page 165] has been waged here past two months. Aim of offensive now virtually attained.

Castration of opposition accomplished in three distinct steps:

By early May last two opposition newspapers had been suppressed. Although press law providing for official suppression newspapers publishing articles inimical people’s welfare was temporarily invoked against one, both now suppressed by sham that members printers union will not print matter so injurious to workers interests, latter notwithstanding protests of papers actual printers against unions strong arm tactics. Since then no opposition press has existed in Bulgaria.
In late May and early June estimated 20,000 persons, majority whom anti-Communist and supporters opposition, were called up under law for mobilization idlers for service in labor camps. Motive seems to be to get opposition members out of Sofia to prevent contact with foreigners and at same time provide needed manpower for economic plan.
Timed to follow immediately on United States Senate approval peace treaty ratification FF swiftly moved against Nikola Petkov, outstanding opposition leader, removing his parliamentary immunity and forthwith charging him with conspiracy to engineer military coup on behalf of “representatives of foreign reaction”. This was followed shortly with expulsion from Assembly of 23 opposition deputies whose signed resignations found at Petkov’s home. These actions also accompanied by other arrests and trials notably involving members “neutral officers” and “Military union”, both oppositionary groups. These drastic moves were plainly designed finally and effectively dispose of last firm leaders of opposition.

By every means possible, including confessions obtained by torture, fabricated evidence and usual grotesque Communist distortions of concepts of democracy and treason, color of legality has superficially been preserved in each instance at least to point where discussion or argument with local authorities leads only to frustration, produced by impossibility mutual acceptance terms.

Status now is that all means free expression have been destroyed and most outstanding and active opposition leaders are disposed of completely or dampened. Agrarian opposition still active in party meetings but few members with leadership experience remain. Leadership Socialist opposition has been virtually untouched but its effectiveness under circumstance is small.

To those of opposition not yet touched FF has extended olive branch, stating that, if opposition members not involved in revolutionary conspiracies, if they do nothing “against interests of people” and if they give FF Government due respect, there is no reason why opposition cannot work in harmony beside FF for peoples’ welfare. Invitation is plainly last chance opportunity to surrender identity and function to [Page 166] Communist dictation. Profound mood of defeatism envelops opposition and few timid may be inclined to accept.

Major element of opposition’s defeatism is loss of faith in ability United States render effective aid and support. Apparent lack strong United States reaction to suppression free press and apparent impotence United States in preventing Communists from disregarding Yalta and treaty obligations in their flagrantly terroristic emasculation democratic opposition have brought to new low faith in United States as real potential in countering Communist expansion southeast Europe. This defeatist attitude results partly from ignorance since actual United States reactions and attitudes are deliberately kept from public or given out in partial and intentionally distorted form.

Communists have lost no opportunity highlight their apparent immunity from United States reaction. Arrogance pervades public statements and editorials which picture obliteration opposition as victory “people’s government” over “foreign Fascists and reactionary imperialists”. In further example regrettable incident recently resulted from violent defamation in public drinking house of Prime Minister and his regime by an American colonel and a Bulgarian national employed by American military mission. Bulgarian national arrested under law for defense peoples’ authority and in view obvious dereliction of both parties United States unable to sustain forceful complaint or otherwise obtain release. This incident seized by FF press to hammer in idea of United States impotence in protecting even its own employees. Also intensified has been general propaganda drive to discredit United States in every possible way.

In balance to its destructive theme FF offers only repetitious exhortations to accomplish 2-year economic plan, self praise, usual worship of Soviet Union and perhaps most significantly strong emphasis on Balkan solidarity.

But though FF has been all too successful in lowering prestige of United States as here-and-now political force public long term attitude to United States is amply manifest in over 6,000 visa applicacants storming Mission in first two days since visa work resumed, despite availability only 50 quota numbers and full realization personal peril involved in being seen at Mission by FF agents.

  1. Not printed; it reported that the Mission in Sofia would inaugurate a series of bi-weekly analytical political summaries (874.00/6–2247).